When the weapons of war come home

The US is now a country that is permanently at war with other countries. While the countries that are designated as enemies may change, the state of war has become a fixture. Among other things, these wars serve the purpose of being testing grounds for new weapons systems. But what many people who may be sanguine about unleashing firepower on poor people of color in other countries may not realize is that what the US military uses abroad often later becomes tools for local law enforcement. The increasing militarization of local police departments is often the result of the military providing them with surplus equipment that has been superseded my newer ones.
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Rich people’s prisons

It goes without saying that the wealthy get privileges that are denied to the rest of us and so it should not be a surprise that even on the rare occasions when they are convicted of crimes and have to go to prison, they are given preferential treatment. This article in the upscale magazine Town & Country describes some of the facilities where you don’t have to mingle with the riff-raff and some of the rich people who went to each. Just the exterior alone tells you that these are no ordinary prisons.
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The Labour and Corbyn resurgence in the UK

Robert Kuttner looks at the sudden rise in the polls of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in the run-up to the British elections on June 8. Corbyn has had to endure pretty much universal attacks by the British neoliberal and conservative media because he is an unapologetic, old-fashioned progressive who is not afraid to talk about class, and has made a marked shift away from the neoliberal policies that were adopted by his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as Labour leaders and by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the US.
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Playing a diddley bow

I had not known that there was a single-stringed musical instrument called the diddley bow until I saw this clip of Justin Johnson playing a two-string version. It has a real bluesy feel.

Curiously, while there are quite a few well-known musicians who have played it, one famous blues musician who might seem a natural never seems to have done so. I am referring of course to Bo Diddley.

The laptop ban puzzle

The US has banned the bringing of laptop computers into the cabins of aircraft arriving in the US from Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and requires that they be placed in checked luggage. There were reports that the ban may be expanded to include flights arriving from Europe as well but after initially rejecting that plan, just yesterday, the head of the Department of Homeland Security John Kelly said that they were considering extending the ban to all flights entering and leaving the US, irrespective of the other country.
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More on the ignored Yemen war

The forgotten war in Yemen where the US and its Saudi Arabian proxy are mercilessly pounding that country because of the belief that the Houthi rebels are backed by Iran continues apace. Iona Craig of The Intercept continues her excellent reporting on that ignored conflict and her latest report provides a capsule summary of the nature of the conflict that led to the latest attack by the US a few days ago on the region of al Adhlan.

One of those killed in the May 23 raid, Al Khader Saleh Salem al Adhal, was a soldier in the Yemeni army currently fighting on the U.S.-supported side in the country’s complex civil war. Yemen’s conflict pits military units loyal to former president and previous U.S. ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, along with the predominantly Shia Houthi rebels, against a local Yemeni resistance and anti-Houthi military units backed by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition of regional nations. The coalition is in turn aided by the United States, which has been providing weapons and crucial logistical support to the Saudi Kingdom and its allies in their fight against the Houthi-Saleh forces since March 2015. The Saudis, who view the Houthis as an Iranian proxy, have been the main financial backer and weapons supplier to the military and local tribes fighting in Mareb, including in al Adhlan.

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The new ‘arms’ race

It appears that French president Emmanuel Macron’s domination of Donald Trump in the handshake wars was carefully planned by him.

As handshakes go, it was unusually intense: a fierce and protracted mano a mano of white knuckles, crunched bones, tightened jaws and fixed smiles that sent the internet and the world’s media into a spin.

It was also, Emmanuel Macron has revealed, entirely intentional. At his first major appearance on the world stage, the 39-year-old French president displayed a relaxed confidence and steely purpose that altogether belied his youth and inexperience.
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The new neighborliness

While the internet has been blamed for a decrease in person-to-person interactions and the increase in people checking their phones even when they are with someone in person, in other ways it has increased communication by enabling people to get in touch with like-minded people whom they would never have encountered before. Internet dating, for example, has enabled people to connect with people who share the same interests and whom they might never have found in the random interactions of daily life.
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