Israeli vegan bar won't serve men in green

Tel Aviv has been dealing with the recent opening of the vegan Rogatka Bar, an establishment in which one can drink green beer and schmooze with left-wing activists. Founded by the self-proclaimed "anarchist collective" that has run other alternative Tel Aviv hot spots, the bar bans Israel Defense Forces soldiers in uniform, the carrying of weapons, and products made in West Bank settlements.

It's nothing personal, but ideological," [soldiers] were told by Rogatka employees. "Your uniforms symbolize genocide and violence, and the violence that the IDF perpetrates is the reason for ongoing violence." [...]

The restaurant-bar's policies have begun to elicit a backlash both online and in the Knesset... MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) told the Post on Tuesday that while he was not mulling any formal moves against the bar, "a society that is embarrassed by its soldiers is not a normal society...

This is a symptom of the new Left in this country, as opposed to the old Left of the Labor party. The new left is anti-Zionist, they are against the Jewish state, and while they are a small group, they're very aggressive."

One of the bar's founders, Adi Vinter, justified Rogatka's practices:

We can't hold views against discrimination and oppression, while at the same time support the infrastructure that exploits human beings and other animals. We wanted to show it's possible and even worthwhile to live differently."

"Rogatka" means slingshot in Russian and refers to the slingshots used by Palestinian youth in the first Intifada.


China bubble ready to not burst

This past week, Vitaliy Katsenelson wrote a great Foreign Policy web feature on the big old asset-price bubble developing in the Chinese economy, called "The China Bubble's Coming -- But Not the One You Think."

Recent news seems to bear the theory out.

The Financial Times reports:

Chinese regulators on Monday ordered banks to ensure unprecedented volumes of new loans are channelled into the real economy and not diverted into equity or real estate markets where officials say fresh asset bubbles are forming.

The new policy requires banks to monitor how their loans are spent and comes amid warnings that banks ignored basic lending standards in the first half of this year as they rushed to extend [around $1 trillion] in new loans, more than twice the amount lent in the same period a year earlier.

I feel a bit strange saying this.

But, over the past year, in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I've really come to admire the Chinese central bank. 

This fall, it recognized the need for massive stimulus -- and did it. Then it realized it was pushing too much money into the economy, creating bubbles and distorting the lending market -- and so it stopped. The central bank will raise reserve requirements for lenders. And presto, they'll stop lending so much. The bubble will ease, rather than popping.  

Of course, I'm wary of my own oversimplification here. The Chinese economy has some very trying issues ahead of it, particularly as related to its currency, its U.S. reserves, and the quality of its economic growth. Plus, the impact of the lending spree (and its halting) obviously won't be clear for some time. 

But, for the moment, this move just seems really prudent. Another way of thinking of it? Being a command economy has its advantages when there's need for a whole lot of emergency economic commands.