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Under The Radar – 04 June

Photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash

This week, we discuss:

  1. The grand coalition to end Benjamin Netanyahu’s twelve-year tenure as Prime Minister of Israel

  2. The race to become the next mayor of New York City

  3. Johnson & Johnson’s Supreme Court defeat

Israeli Opposition Parties Unite to End Netanyahu 12-year Term as Prime Minister

What happened?

In a move no one thought possible, eight opposition parties – spanning the entire political spectrum in Israel – have united in a grand coalition to end Benjamin Netanyahu’s twelve-year tenure as Prime Minister.

What does it mean?

The grand coalition is still waiting for a formal vote of no confidence in the Knesset as of writing this article. If successful, the ramifications for Israel would be far-reaching and potentially very positive.

First off, the Arab-Israeli party Raam is part of the proposed coalition. If successful, their inclusion alone represents a considerable shift in the political dynamics in Israel as Arab-Israeli parties have spent over a decade without political representation at the top of Government.

Given intercommunal tensions unleashed in the most recent clashes with Hamas, such a move could go a long way to healing some of the rifts between Arabs and Jews exposed during the conflict. Furthermore, the coalition has publicly stated that it won’t initially pursue policies on the Israel-Palestinian issue; it is unlikely the settler movement will enjoy any of the political support it has become accustomed to under Netanyahu.

Although this does not solve the Israel-Palestine conflict, it won’t escalate tensions in the short term. It could also provide some much-needed breathing space to Palestinian parties hoping to ensure Hamas does not win the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections in the West Bank.

The coming days and weeks will be interesting as Netanyahu won’t go quietly. He is currently on trial in Jerusalem on corruption charges, so leaving office would leave him vulnerable to the full force of the court. As such, we expect a vicious political battle to ensue as he does everything possible to derail the coalition.

As Netanyahu attempts to persuade legislators in the Knesset to defect from the coalition to back him and Likud, the first battle is already underway. Watch this space. 

NYC mayoral hopefuls face off 

What happened?

New York City mayoral candidates participated in the second Democratic debate on Wednesday night, in preparation for the June 22nd primary. Eight contenders were grilled on crime, education and the economy, in a race that will choose the Democratic nominee and most likely the next Mayor.

What does it mean?

While candidates challenged each other on policy, pundits remarked on how personal, and in some cases chaotic, the attacks became.

All eyes were on the two front runners: Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate. The pair are contrasting characters, representing different styles of leadership and visions for the city. Adams is the establishment figure, with decades of experience in local government, giving him the expertise and skill to run the metropolis. On the other side of the coin is Yang, the tech entrepreneur who ran an exciting presidential campaign that galvanised mostly young Americans last year. Like his pitch for the White House, he thinks the city needs an outsider with fresh ideas rather than more of the same (despite modelling himself on former Mayor Bloomberg).

Adams attacked Yang over his lack of political experience, and for fleeing the city during the pandemic. Yang countered with questions over Adams’ integrity, pointing to a string of corruption investigations that have dogged the politician’s career.

The chaos meant the debate lacked a clear winner. It’s a disappointing show considering the stakes could not be higher. New York City is still reeling from the pandemic’s impact on public health and the economy, with tourism in freefall and the divide between rich and poor widening.

Voters want a grown up for Mayor, not political theatre.

Neglected by the medical system, women turn to the courts

What happened?

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will pay $2.1bn in damages after the Supreme Court refused to hear the drug maker’s appeal over a pay-out to twenty-two women who had claimed that asbestos in J&J’s talcum powder had caused their ovarian cancer.

What does it mean?

Recent pharmaceutical news has been dominated by the vaccine effort, giving big drug makers like J&J a huge PR boost. But this case draws attention back to an uglier side of the industry: mass lawsuits brought by victims of the medical system’s alarming disregard for women’s health.

Indeed, this case exemplifies the slew of consolidated mass torts – personal injury lawsuits related to a single product – that flows through the US legal system. The fact that the claimants are women makes this case all the more typical of the trend: 32% of mass tort cases involve products that either exclusively or primarily injure women. Only 6% involve products exclusively affecting men.

These statistics cannot be explained away by women being more litigious. 67% of the deaths and injuries reported to the FDA are women, demonstrating the painful reality that women are more likely than men to suffer injuries from pharmaceutical drugs.

There is a long and depressing history of the medical system taking women’s health less seriously. For example, pharmaceutical oestrogen was prescribed to women in menopause for several years before it was eventually clinically tested and acknowledged to increase the risk of cancer. However, a study on men in the 1950s had already found it too dangerous to use, yet nothing stopped its untested use for women two decades later.

With researchers and regulators both paying insufficient attention to half of the population, the court is often the only place in which women can have their grievances heard.

This Week’s Must Reads

  1. ‘Why GB News will be the biggest threat yet to Sky News’ by Ben Woods for The Telegraph

  2. ‘The future of the high street: the scars are unmistakable after a year of covid’ by Michael Keith for The Times

  3. ‘This Will 100% Save Somebody’s Life: Athletes See a Turning Point for Mental Health After Naomi Osaka Takes a Stand at the French Open’ by Sean Gregory for Time

  4. ‘The revolution in DIY testing that will outlive the pandemic’ by Anna Gross for the Financial Times

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