Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rebels isolate Aleppo

I don't read in the Western press that Syrian rebels cut off electric supply to Aleppo to punish the civilian population.

Anne Barnard's love affair with Syrian rebel car bombs

"State news media and government opponents reported that a car bomb killed numerous people on Friday outside a mosque in an area called March 8 Square near a government checkpoint."  Look at the sentence. She always manages to slip in a phrase or a word to justify the deed.

So who kidnapped and who freed French journalists in Syria?

Notice how all Western dispatches about the case left the identity of the kidnappers unknown.  You would think that ghosts were behind the abduction.  The freed hostages of course said that they were rebels.

We were all wrong: it is not Zahran Allush or the various Jihadi Emirs who lead the Syrian "revolution"

"When I visited Cairo in 2011 I met and became friends with Razan Ghazzawi, the fierce feminist and Pasionaria of the resistance, who in a short time taught me a great deal about the revolution’s dreams."  We finally found out who actually lead the Syrian rebels.

NATO brings peace to Libya

"Earlier this month a hairdresser’s shop and a café were bombed. There has been a spate of assassinations. Recent victims have included not just members of the security forces, who are often targeted, but Egyptian labourers, a French engineer and a much-loved local poet famous for publicly reciting his work during the revolution. A Turkish manager is pulling out his staff. “They are terrified,” he says. “It is not worth the risk.”"

The Economist reports on the bright side of Libya under NATO militia rule

"Yet Benghazians have a good story to tell, too. Their economy has bounced back. Neglected under Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, businesses and buildings are springing up. A new shopping mall is packed with families buying clothes and cosmetics from shops with European franchises. People sip cappuccinos in trendy cafés. A once-drab road known as Venice Street hosts scores of ebullient retailers selling international brands. Cranes dot the city’s skyline."

"On all sides, Bethlehem is also being surrounded by settler bypass roads and by concrete walls higher than those that divided Berlin in the cold war"

"For the people of Bethlehem up the road, Beit Skaria is a bleak example of what might yet happen to them. On all sides, Bethlehem is also being surrounded by settler bypass roads and by concrete walls higher than those that divided Berlin in the cold war. Earlier this month, Israel’s defence ministry confiscated the largest chunk of private Palestinian land in years on Bethlehem’s southern fringe to let smaller settlements, previously unauthorised by the Israeli government, expand. The population of Beitar Illit, an ultra-Orthodox settlement to the west of Bethlehem, in the Gush Etzion bloc, is set to grow from around 45,000 to 100,000 in the next six years."

MI6 and Western correspondents

"When a politician reignited the “third man” controversy in 1955, Elliott organised Philby’s defence. Years later he even brought him back on the MI6 payroll, this time as an agent in Lebanon, where he reported for The Economist."

Look how the Economist phrased this sentence about Russian defense expenditure

"Russia spends more on its armed forces than any other country save China and America".  This is like saying: Lebanon's army is the most powerful in the region save Israel, Syria, and Jordan. 

Saudi princes in the King's private jet

The Guardian newspaper wants war: more war

Look at this editorial in the Guardian. I never recall that it called for arming the Palestinian people.

what if Arabs and Iranians started to do this to US interests???

"According to a court document filed in New York on Thursday, the Department of Justice agreed to distribute proceeds from the sale of the Fifth Avenue high-rise to families affected by alleged Iranian-aided attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the US marine barracks in Beirut. "  Now the US has caused death and destruction in Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan among other places.  Does that US give victims of US bombs the right to confiscate US interests in the Middle East and sell them as compensation?  The logic is the same. 

life for Syrian refugees

"Nadine was worried about taking the job. "Gulf men have a bad reputation and I would be there alone," she says. "But I had to think of my family and my future; there are no opportunities in Syria." After a few weeks Nadine's boss began to sexually assault her, culminating in rape. In response to her protest he threatened to cancel her visa. She says he told her: "If you don't like it, go back to the war." "

two different sets of laws

"Israeli and Palestinian minors accused of crimes in the West Bank are subject to two different sets of laws."

The State Department provided $2.8 million to a team of American hackers

"The State Department provided $2.8 million to a team of American hackers, community activists and software geeks to develop the system, called a mesh network, as a way for dissidents abroad to communicate more freely and securely than they can on the open Internet. One target that is sure to start debate is Cuba; the United States Agency for International Development [USAID] has pledged $4.3 million to create mesh networks there."

Western Chrstian groups have been funding and supporting those "good guys"

""Rebels in South Sudan massacred “hundreds” of civilians in ethnic killings when they captured the oil town of Bentiu last week, the UN said on Monday. In the main mosque alone, “more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded,” the UN mission in the country said, as cited by AFP. There were also massacres at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Program (WFP) compound."" (thanks Krim)

Dexter Filkins: all that he knows about the Middle East he learned from serving in the US Marines

from a western journalist in Turkey:  "another bad article on the Middle East by Dexter Filkins:


 Filkins falsely claims the Americans rejected Adib and chose Maliki. In fact the Americans did not even know who Maliki was and he was chosen by Iraqis, as Nir Rosen explained in his book Aftermath:
"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went to Baghdad and told Jaafari that he did not have anybody’s support and could not form a government, implying that he should give up. But Jaafari was still insisting he had support. The decision to remove him came from within his own political bloc in the government, particularly the Dawa Party...Despite the calls for Jaafari’s removal, he would not leave until the marajiya, or hawza leadership in Najaf, withdrew its support for him. There was an air of desperation among members of the Shiite parties, who felt they were being outmaneuvered by the Americans and their Iraqi rivals. A Dawa insider who was present in senior Dawa leadership circles told me, “In the last days of Jaa- fari, a number of people convinced the Supreme Council that he would agree to withdraw his candidacy if the premiership stayed with Dawa. His condition was that Adil [Abdel Mahdi of the Supreme Council] would not become prime minister.”
Ali al-Adib was the Dawa Party candidate most likely to replace Jaafari. The American and British ambassadors went to see Adib to confirm that they were not opposed to him, and he was, in fact, prime minister for one day. But in a Dawa Party gathering to confirm Adib’s nomination, Nuri al-Maliki confronted him with the issue of his father, known as Zandi, who was an Iranian immigrant to Iraq. Maliki asked Adib if he would be able to withstand scrutiny and people saying that Iran was taking over. Not being confrontational, Adib lost heart, and Maliki pounced. This putsch had been organized by Adnan al-Kadhimi, Jaafari’s senior adviser, who ran his office and worked in the party’s political bureau. Jaafari felt betrayed by Kadhimi and still expected to call the shots within the party and the government. Maliki then turned on Kadhimi. “Maliki is a very vindictive man, and has a dangerous streak,” the Dawa insider explained. Kadhimi knew too much. Maliki arrested him on trumped-up charges of theft, and allowed his prearranged escape...The United States hardly knew anything about Maliki. The CIA did not have a biography of Maliki prepared when he was chosen to be Prime Minister, but their leadership analysts had many. The White House and National Security Council were surprised when his name came up, but Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, and other Iraqis said they could work with him, so American concerns about the unknown Maliki were allayed.
While the Americans didn’t select Maliki, they didn’t reject him either— which they could have done." 
How strange to make the useless Khalilzad seem like the grand architect. Filkins (typically) ignores that massive crime that was the American occupation and the sectarian war the Americans caused and the sectarian, corrupt system the Americans helped established and yet manages to make Americans seem much smarter and competent than they actually were.  
Filkins says: "In 1967, Israel humiliated the combined armies of the Arab world in the Six-Day War—a defeat that prompted many young Arabs to turn to political Islam. It was around this time that Maliki joined Dawa (the Call), a secret organization dedicated to building an Islamic state in Iraq."
As'ad you know more about this than I do but it is my understanding that Dawa was more a reaction to Shiites joining the Communist party and had little to do with the 1967 war (the six day war is of course the Zionist name for it).
"Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed guerrilla commander"
This is a very simplistic and misleading description of Muqtada al Sadr.

As usual Filkins exaggerates the role of Iran and accepts a Sunni sectarian/Baathi (Iraqi) conspiratorial view of Iran in Iraq.
And somehow the Americans come across as well meaning victims.

"A decade after the occupation, Iraq’s Kurdish-speaking area is peaceful, largely democratic, secular, and pro-Western. Indeed, the region, though nominally still part of Iraq, functions as an independent state."

Paper Dome: the wonder of military technology

"Seven rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel"

Please don't tell anyone: about Israel's nuclear weapons

"At that session Carl Duckett, then-CIA deputy director for science and technology, told the NRC group the CIA believed the missing highly enriched uranium ended up in Israel. The newly released documents also expose government efforts, notably during the Carter administration, to keep the NUMEC story under wraps, an ironic twist in view of Jimmy Carter's identification with opposition to nuclear proliferation." "Brzezinski also passed off the FBI's findings as amounting to no more than confirmation that the president of NUMEC, Zalman Shapiro, had frequent contacts with Israeli officials, including a science attaché "thought to be an intelligence officer," and received unexplained VIP treatment in Israel."

NATO contributions

"more and more people, and especially children, were being killed, not by landmines left over by the Soviets or the Taliban but by undetonated explosives, like grenades and mortar shells, left behind by departing foreign troops with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)." (thanks Amir)

The prince may win a Western award for services to the environment: Saudi prince hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total bustard toll to 2,100

"The report titled 'Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard' prepared by Jaffar Baloch, divisional forest officer of the Balochistan forest and wildlife department, Chagai at Dalbandin, says the prince hunted for 21 days – from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31– and hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total bustard toll to 2,100, sources said."

Paul Samuelson

Ajit reminded me: I made a mistake yesterday in one post: it was Paul and not Robert Samuelson who wrote that lousy textbook on Economics.

vying for the presidency of Lebanon

War criminals compete for the job by comrade Maya. 

Guidelines for the formation of a leftist stance on Syria

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English:  "Guidelines for the formation of a leftist stance on Syria".

Monday, April 21, 2014

Israeli youths versus Palestinian youths: stone throwing

""Only 53 Israeli settler youths were arrested for stone-throwing over the past six years, the data shows, and 90 percent were released without charge. Five were indicted. Four of those were found "guilty without conviction," a common sentence for Israeli juveniles that aims not to stain their record. The fifth case was still in court as of October, the most recent information available.
By contrast, 1,142 Palestinian youths were arrested by police over the same period for throwing stones, and 528 were indicted. All were convicted. Lawyers say the penalty is typically three to eight months in military prison."" (thanks stone throwing)

Most Bangladesh factory survivors still too sick to work: survey

"Most survivors of the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed 1,138 garment workers are still too traumatised or injured to work 12 months after the tragedy, a survey released Monday said." (thanks Marc)

Nobel Prize in Physics

I won't be surprised if the Saudi King wins the Nobel Prize in physics for being able to add 2 + 2--that is an achievement in the porn royal family.

Poverty tourism

"They come here and what interests them is the poverty side of it," he told me. "So they rather have pictures of a boy next to a garbage spot, stranded dog or something like that. That suits them because that's what they're looking for.
"They're not here to say 'take me to my favourite pub' and I show them: this is how our favourite pub looks like."
Most locals say they don't benefit from them. Instead, they feel they are just here to be looked at and pitied."

sleazy and racist

The grotesque website of the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyya publishes an article mocking Africans and their appearances.  Count this as another reform by the Saudi King.  Al-Arabiyya should stick to what it does best: news of Saudi princes and their alleged achievements and stories about the Kim Kardashian.

The New York Times Public Editor concedes: not ALL Palestinians have vowed to kill all the Jews. Only "many" or "some" have. I can't think of one Palestinian who has vowed to "kill all of Jews"

"Many readers were upset about a letter in The Times Book Review, which said in part, “Palestinian Arabs have avowed as their goal the killing of all Jews.” These readers, particularly Ira Glunts, called for an apology. I sent some of the complaints to Pamela Paul, the review’s editor. She told me that she did not think an apology was necessary, because the letter “accurately reflected the tenor” of many responses; she added that it might have been a good idea to insert a modifier, such as “many” or “some,” before “Palestinian Arabs” in the editing process. (That should have happened, in my view.) Ms. Paul invited Mr. Glunts to write a letter for publication in the Book Review. He hasn’t done so and continues to call for an apology."

Robert Samuelson: my battle with US economic theories

I started in college majoring in business-economics.  I did so poorly.  I never was able to finish in class.  I took a class on economics where the main textbook by the American economist, Robert Samuelson (often confused with the Washington Post's columnist, Robert J Samuelson--no relation).  I sat in class in frustration and was already a very loyal and dogmatic Marxist and would only wait for the opportunity to attack the teacher and to defend Marxism.  It did not go well in class at all, and there was such acrimony between me and the teacher that students rolled their eyes as soon as the two of us would go at it.  I switched majors shortly thereafter. 

More on income ineqaulity

"Piketty presents Scandinavian countries in the 1970s and ’80s as examples of “low inequality.” Still, the richest 10 percent commanded about 25 percent of national income and the poorest 50 percent got only 30 percent; the “middle class” — the 40 percent below the top 10 percent — received 45 percent of income. These days, the distribution in the United States is far more unequal. In 2010, the top 10 percent received about 50 percent of national income, and the bottom 50 percent got 20 percent; the middle 40 percent got 30 percent. European nations are typically in between, with the top 10 percent taking 35 percent of income.

What Piketty also shows is that in the last 30 years, inequality has exploded almost everywhere, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. This finding disproves the so-called Kuznets Curve. In 1954, American economist Simon Kuznets (1901-85) argued that income inequality would fall as societies modernized. Workers would move from low-paid farm jobs to better-paid industrial jobs. Gaps would narrow.  This seemed to have happened in the United States. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the income share of the richest 10 percent fell from around 50 percent to about 35 percent. But now it’s rebounded to the late 1920s’ level. This stunning fact, published previously in academic journals, helped make inequality a big political issue."

Look at this US diplomat

He wants to impose sanctions that hurt the Russian people in order to show them the love of the West for them:  "The West needs great unity, wise application of strong sanctions, and a strategy that engages with Russian citizens and offers them real hope for a humane and democratic nation."  (thanks Amer)

There is no state like Israel: it finds every and any report documenting its abuses to be unfair and anti-Semitic

" The Committee on the Rights of Children, a body of independent legal experts charged by the UN with the task of monitoring the protection of children’s rights in signatory states, has urged Israel to honour its responsibility to prevent the torture and ill-treatment of children.

“The Committee expresses its deepest concern about the reported practice of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested, prosecuted and detained by the military and the police, and about the State party’s failure to end these practices in spite of repeated concerns expressed by treaty bodies,” the investigative body stated in its periodic review of Israel’s child rights record, released on Thursday.

It continued: “[Palestinian children are] systematically subject to physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threatened with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, restricted access to toilet, food and water.

“These crimes are perpetrated from the time of arrest, during transfer and interrogation, to obtain a confession but also on an arbitrary basis as testified by several Israeli soldiers as well as during pretrial detention.”

The report prompted a furious response from Israel, countering that the findings are “not based on any direct investigation on the ground, only on documents gathered from secondary sources.” "

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fitting for a newspaper like Al-Hayat

The Washington, DC correspondent for Al-Hayat (mouthpiece of prince Khalid bin Sultan), debates Kim Kardashian about Syria.  And I can't tell which of the two is the least informed and least knowledgeable. 

Dandelion update

Having finally found Hinba' (dandelion) in the US (only at Whole Foods in my area), I learned that there is Red Dandelion and Green Dandelion but they are not as flavorful as the Hindba` from back home.

Israeli army installs new remote-controlled weapon atop separation wall

"Israeli army installs new remote-controlled weapon atop separation wall"

Afghan elections

A Western journalist who does not wish to be identified sent me this:
"these were actually the most violent elections so far:
and more corrupt than last time:"

Israeli terrorism: continues unbated to the disregard of US media

"One Palestinian was killed and 101 injured in Israeli violence in the occupied Palestinian territories during the period from April 8 to 14, a UN report said. According to the report issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Israeli occupation displaceed 40 Palestinians, half of them women and children, and demolished 15 houses."

killing civilians in Yemen

"Then, the survivor said, another drone fired neared their car, killing one of his companions and wounded him. A medical official said that the strike had killed three civilians and wounded three." (thanks Amir)

oil and gas love

""I would like to say I love all the countries of the Gulf, and they all love me: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain. I consider them one country and one house," he said." (thanks Basim)

C Wright Mills vindicated

"The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." "

Saudi King chosen by Abu Dhabi as the Man of Culture

The illiterate Saudi King is chosen by the illiterate sons of Zayid as the Man of Culture. Mabruk.

populist energy in the West

"This possibility might help explain why the far left remains, for now, politically weak even as it enjoys a miniature intellectual renaissance. And it might hint at a reason that so much populist energy, in both the United States and Europe, has come from the right instead — from movements like the Tea Party, Britain’s UKIP, France’s National Front and others that incorporate some Piketty-esque arguments (attacks on crony capitalism; critiques of globalization) but foreground cultural anxieties instead."

Qaradawi has received his orders

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has received his order: he now hearts Saudi Arabia and UAE, he says.