BOOK REVIEW: Elegy for April by Benjamin Black

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Elegy for April
by Benjamin Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

April Lavery has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a trail-blazer in the deeply conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional, as evidenced by her current boyfriend, a handsome and charismatic medical student from Nigeria.

Then April disappears, and Phoebe Griffin, her best friend, immediately suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke soon learns that his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, has been assigned to the high-profile case. This time, Hackett welcomes Quirke’s help—the pathologist’s knowledge of the darker byways of the city may allow him to uncover crucial information about April’s whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about race-hatred, Catholic ruthlessness, and family savagery.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

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Rare World War II Propaganda Posters | Time.com

Though some wartime propaganda art has since become iconic, plenty of posters from the World War II era are rare, with few original examples having survived through the decades. World War II Posters, a new book, brings to light some of those artifacts. The book features highlights from the more than 10,000 posters collected over…

via See the Rare Propaganda Posters of World War II — TIME

Solange Knowles: I am a Proud Black Feminist and Womanist

Solange Knowles has never been shy about standing up for what she believes in and her latest interview is no exception. As the cover star of BUST‘s latest issue, the A Seat at the Table singer opened up in her interview about what feminism means to her in this day and age. “I am a…

via Solange Knowles: ‘I Am a Proud Black Feminist and Womanist’ — TIME

Is It Too Soon for Deadpool Graphic Novel?

Check out the trade collection of the Deadpool mini-series.

via Marvel Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Deadpool: Too Soon? — Graphic Policy

Everything you ever wanted to know about the U.S. foreign assistance budget – Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/which-countries-get-the-most-foreign-aid/?tid=ss_tw

Excellent article by The Washington Post (factually specific, multi-sourced, data-driven) detailing: how much foreign aid the United States provides; to whom; and the stated purpose for the aid. 

The Two-State Solution: What It Is and Why It Hasn’t Happened | Max Fisher, The Interpreter, The New York Times, 12/29/16

A construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat in the West Bank. (BAZ RATNER / REUTERS) 

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday  joined a growing chorus warning that the so-called two-state solution, which he called “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” could be on the verge of permanent collapse.

The two-state solution has for decades been the primary focus of efforts to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the contours of what it would actually look like — and why it has been so hard to achieve — can get lost. Here’s a basic guide.

What is the two-state solution?

It helps to start with the problem the solution is meant to address: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At its most basic level, the conflict is about how or whether to divide territory between two peoples.

Graphic showing Palestinian land loss since 1947. This visual speaks to the absurdity of any possible two-state solution that does not re-apportion the division of the land. (Added to original article by wordnerdproblems.com editor, Melissia Lenox.) 

The territory question is also wrapped up in other overlapping but distinct issues: whether the Palestinian territories can become an independent state and how to resolve years of violence that include the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the partial Israeli blockade of Gaza and Palestinian violence against Israelis.

The two-state solution would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel — two states for two peoples. In theory, this would win Israel security and allow it to retain a Jewish demographic majority (letting the country remain Jewish and democratic) while granting the Palestinians a state. 

And most important, the current Israeli leadership, though it nominally supports a two-state solution, appears to oppose it in practice.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister since 2009, endorsed the two-state solution in a speech that year. But he continued to expand West Bank settlements and, in 2015, said there would be “no withdrawals” and “no concessions.”

Mr. Netanyahu appears personally skeptical of Palestinian independence. His fragile governing coalition also relies on right-wing parties that are skeptical of or outright oppose the two-state solution.

Israeli public pressure for a peace deal has declined. The reasons are complex: demographic changes, an increasingly powerful settler movement, outrage at Palestinian attacks such as a recent spate of stabbings, and bitter memories of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, which saw frequent bus and cafe bombings.

And the status quo has, for most Israelis, become relatively peaceful and bearable. Many see little incentive for adopting a risky and uncertain two-state solution, leaving Mr. Netanyahu with scant reason to risk his political career on one 

Are there other solutions?

There are, but they involve such drastic costs that the United States and many other governments consider all but the two-state solution unacceptable.

There are multiple versions of the so-called one-state solution, which would join all territories as one nation. One version would grant equal rights to all in a state that would be neither Jewish nor Palestinian in character, because neither group would have a clear majority. Skeptics fear this would risk internal instability or even a return to war.

Another, advocated by some on the Israeli far right, would establish one state but preserve Israel’s Jewish character by denying full rights to Palestinians. Under this version, Israel would no longer be a democratic state.

With few viable or popular alternatives, the most likely choice may be to simply maintain the status quo — though few believe that is possible in the long term.

What happens if there is no solution?

A common prediction, as Mr. Kerry stated, is that Israel will be forced to choose between the two core components of its national identity: Jewish and democratic.

This choice, rather than coming in one decisive moment, would probably play out in many small choices over a process of years. For instance, a 2015 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 74 percent of Jewish Israelis agreed that “decisions crucial to the state on issues of peace and security should be made by a Jewish majority.” That pollster also found that, from 2010 to 2014, Jewish Israelis became much less likely to say that Israel should be “Jewish and democratic,” with growing factions saying that it should be democratic first or, slightly more popular, Jewish first.

Many analysts also worry that the West Bank government, whose scant remaining legitimacy rests on delivering a peace deal, will collapse. This would force Israel to either tolerate chaos in the West Bank and a possible Hamas takeover or enforce a more direct form of occupation that would be costlier to both parties.

This risk of increased suffering, along with perhaps permanent setbacks in the national ambitions of both Palestinians and Israelis, is why Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, told me last year, “Perpetuating the status quo is the most frightening of the possibilities.” 

Follow Max Fisher on Twitter @Max_Fisher. 

When Black Lives Stop Mattering

Fun Facts About Birthstones [INFOGRAPHIC]

Most people know what their birthstone is without a second thought, but how much do we really know about the actual gemstones themselves? The gems designated as birthstones have been around for tho…

Source: Fun Facts About Birthstones [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 DIY Jewelry Organization Projects to Try at Home

Necklaces in a tangle? Bracelets piled on on your dresser? Rings scattered across your home, devoid of logic or order? These DIY projects could be the fix you need to finally organize your jewelry …

Source: 5 DIY Jewelry Organization Projects to Try at Home

Book Review of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

From ReadItForward.com:
A gripping thriller that also goes into the deep pit of survivor’s guilt, Before the Fall is both intelligent and emotional. A plane full of important and wealthy passengers crashes, and the only survivors are the heir to a vast fortune and the only seemingly unimportant person on board – a painter named Scott Burroughs. The novel moves back and forth between the aftermath of the crash, where Scott is a hero for saving the four-year-old heir, and the sixteen minutes before the crash happened, where we’re given glimpses into the backstories of the various passengers during their final moments. As Scott is hounded by the media, we begin to wonder – was the crash a setup? Is there a conspiracy afoot to kill these powerful people? Or is it just a mysterious coincidence?

My thoughts on Before the Fall:
I absolutely fell unromantically in love with Scott Burroughs. I know his heart and understand how far removed his life path feels to him because I, too, experienced a profound loss of a person early in my life. A loss that has affected me in a multitude of ways, known and unknown, admitted and unacknowledged. Scott’s resistance to interaction with today’s on-demand world of non fact-based gossip and opinion pieces that are promoted, ingested and revered as “news” is our common struggle.

Several other characters in Before The Fall elicited similar feelings of familiarity and understanding in me. I was interested and invested in learning how they got to this place in their lives and why they made the decisions and took the actions that lead them to these moments and watching them navigate the new reality of life after the fall.

I received an ARC of Before The Fall from the publisher through NetGalley and listened to the audiobook version from my public library through OverDrive.

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