There is no excuse or justification for the flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos boarded six ships bearing humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people in Gaza, sparking a violent confrontation that resulted in the deaths of nine people. More details about the incident are bound to come out and ultimate responsibility for it will be fiercely debated.
It’s unlikely that the rest of 2010 will turn up another movie as astonishing as Vincere, by 70-year-old Italian director Marco Bellocchio. It’s a historical drama that covers the rise of Benito Mussolini from his beginnings as a socialist in the days before World War I. But the protagonist isn’t Il Duce; it’s his mistress, Ida Dalser.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist known for his work in Haiti, has been to Liberia and planned to go back again in the fight against Ebola. According to Farmer, the outbreak of Ebola is a symptom of a very poor and weak health-care system in the three West African countries where it is spreading. In Liberia there is one physician per 100,000 people, compared to 240 in the United States. The president of Liberia points out that the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity each year than her whole country. Vaccines and drugs don’t exist because Ebola’s victims are poor and—so far—not very numerous (London Review of Books, October 23).