Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The king's efforts were in trouble long before November 9, said Professor Marc Lynch in the Carnegie Arab Reform Bulletin. "After six years in power, King Abdullah had little to show for his frequent speeches about reform. His tenure had been characterised by a steady decline in freedoms ... Opinion polls reveal widespread alienation, with 80% in one survey [saying] they did not feel safe criticising the government in public,"
Someone has walked off with Gregory Peck's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Mehlis will investigate.
A dog of the Israeli occupation army attacked this Palestinian child.

Israeli occupation soldiers bravely facing terrorist Palestinian children.
Islam is not the solution. But neither is democracy.
Red Boat with Blue Sail, 1906-07. Odilon Redon.
"As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Limbo is in....limbo: "It is an odd place. The inhabitants include Plato, Moses, Abraham and lots of babies. Now after more than 700 years of shadowy existence, limbo faces closure. The world's 30 leading Roman Catholic theologians were meeting behind closed doors in the Vatican yesterday to discuss a document which would sweep the concept out of the church's teaching."
I present this news item to all the American liberals who for decades and years championed and supported him: "Peres prepares to leave Labour to join Sharon"
Two rival Maronite groups clashed in Zgharta in north Lebanon. Supporters of Sulayman Franjiyyah clashed with supporters of Nayla Mu`awwad. Is Bush still giddy about the "new Lebanon"?
This is Zionism.
It is a tough call: but Syrian propaganda seems as stupid as Hariri propaganda. And Syrian government seems to be emulating the patriotic manifestations of the Hummus revolution. Syrian flags are now displayed throughout Syria.
A new study in Lebanon reveals that 43.3% of Lebanese physicians are smokers. (100 % are Hummus addicts).
The Director General of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon (Ashraf Rifi, a Hariri functionary) replied to the statements of Husam Husam. His statement said that Husam's statements are "mostly untrue." All other Hariri functionaries, including the Lebanese Minister of Interior, have responded to Husam. They all basically said that in effect Husam is a crook, a liar, and a thief but yes, we all have met with him, including the Minister of Interior. Hariri's propaganda has been suffering in recent days. They need a new twist, a new fabrication. This is why Mehlis' mission will be extended, yet again. There is an Arabic film titled: "And the Investigation Continues". As for the Hariri propagandist, "journalist" Farish Khashshan, he responded to Husam's statement by saying that he is a crook and greedy, but that he did meet with him "a few times."
This is the real Ramsey Clark. Here, he justified Saddam's mass murders: ""He had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt," he said."

More "heroism" of Israeli occupation soldiers.
"Get the hell out of the car. We plan to "liberate" you." This Iraqi family was forced out of their car while US troops searched it.
Flower Clouds, c. 1903. Odilon Redon.

Monday, November 28, 2005

“I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer."
If politics in what later become Lebanon in the 19th century was defined by a Druze-Maronite conflict, and if the Sunni-Maronite conflict defined modern Lebanon, the Sunni Shi`ite conflict will define the next stage of political conflict in Lebanon. The Christian factor will not be the decisive one on its own. In fact, it will be what third parties are in Germany or in Israel. This is why the Sunnis (through Hariri Inc) are aligned with the Lebanese Forces, while the Shi`ites (through Hizbullah and Amal as a lesser power) are trying very hard to win over Gen. `Awn. `Awn's forces in the last election won more than 75% of the Christian votes, and if an alliance is struck between Hizbullah and `Awn's forces, the Sunni political chances of victory sharply decline. `Awn has changed his tune since his return from DC. His trip was not a success. The US government is unlikely to endorse his presidential candidacy; and many of the people who dealt with him in the 1980s in the Reagan administration are now in this administration. And US officials remember him as a nut from those days. I knew that he would not meet with Hasan Nasrallah before going to DC for frear of disturbing his Zionist friends in US Congress. Today, he spoke in very friendly terms about Hizbullah. I would not be surprised if he now meets with Nasrallah in a matter of days. If those two form a bloc, that is it. They can seal Lebanese politics in their grip. Hariri's attempt to select "Hariri Christians" deeply offends Christians, and remind them of Syrian selection of "Syrian Christians" in the past era of Syrian political domination. You look at the menu of choices, and you don't see anything you like in Lebanonese politics, if you stand for secularism, social justice, and opposition to US-Saudi plans.
"Militants Allegedly Operating Within Iraqi Police" (No. Really?)
Sometimes I feel that the Arab masses are collectively taking a nap.
The Empire, Naked. Today I had a choice. I asked myself this: shall I insert a screw drive deep inside my ear, or shall I start reading this new book The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, edited by Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel and published by Cambridge University Press. Unfortunately, I settled on the second choice, and started reading this valuable massive volume of 1249 pages, containing all what you need to know about the US Empire as it really stands, or sits, naked.
'Napoleon should be remembered as a genocidal dictator rather than founder of modern France.'
Lies and Fabrications of Iyad `Allawi: Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al-Arabiyya continue their propaganda drive on behalf of Iyad `Allawi (former puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/Saddam's henchman). In today's episode in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, `Allawi claims that when serving as a proud puppet prime minister, he was independent and never had to consult with the US occupation. Occasionally, he added, he had to defer to the opinions and advise of the command of Macedonian troops.
For those who care, I shall be speaking tomorrow (Tuesday) at Stanford University (Bldg 420, room 041) at 6:00PM. The topic is Lebanon. Hummus will be served at 6:30PM sharp.
I am really sick AND tired of reading about the "wisdom" of King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Arabic press, including in my favorite newspaper As-Safir. This about a man who can't complete a sentence. I mean, really. If I can buy the Arab media, I will make radical changes. I will feature grocers, farmers, peasants, workers, beggars, shoe shiners, porters, instead of kings and princes. If only.
Oh, and tell Saddam to stop grandstanding. His "glory" days are over. He should go and rearrange his prison cell instead.
Sa`d Hariri has been helping the Lebanonese cause from Brazil and Argentina. Like his father before him, he travels into countries to take care of the family's private business, and tells the Lebanese that he is working for the interests of Lebanon.
No heroes left. One of the people that I used to respect and admire in the Arab world is Moroccan dissident Ibrahim Sirfati, who spent some 17 years in King Hasan's jail in Morocco. Here was a courageous revolutionary who worked against the Monarchy in Morocco, and refused to take advantage of Western advocacy of his cause because he is Jewish while languishing in jail for years. He has been adamantly anti-Zionist and refused attempts of cooptation by the regime. I used to like Riyad At-Turk in Syria, but he went weird in the last several years, and now sounds like Hariri "leftist" Ilyas Atallah. But Sirfati has also changed recently. He now has softened his views regarding the need to abolish the monarchy, and has even offered praise for the King of Morocco.

Those Palestinians. Palestinian school children kicking a checkpoint of Israeli occupation.
Karen Hughes: still changing Muslim AND Arab public opinion.
Conspiracy versus conspiracy: Hariri Inc versus Syrian Regime. When witness Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq was testifying against Syria, the Syrian government labeled him as a crook and a liar. When Husam Husam testified today against the Hariri Inc, Hariri Inc described him as a crook and a liar. There are two or more conspiracies clashing in Lebanon today. Certainly, there was a conspiracy to kill Hariri, and that produced a counter-conspiracy by Hariri Inc (and US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia behind them) to undermine the Syrian regime and to install a pro-Bush arrangement in Lebanon in the name of seeking "the truth." The two conspiracies are clashing, and lies, fabrications, and murders are being utilized for that purpose. In that sense, the Mehlis investigation and team is a mere tool in the hand of the 2nd conspiracy. I find it ironic that Hariri Inc is now labeling Husam Husam (h as in Hawaii and not Halab as in Aleppo) as a "liar and suspicious" as Hani Hammud (former Communist Action Organization member who now is chief of propaganda for Hariri Inc) described him today. But when his account as the "hooded witness" filled the pages of the Mehlis report Hariri Inc treated the report as credible and solid, and the credibility of Husam was not questioned then. But Husam today invoked the name of every enemy of Syria in Lebanon, just as the Mehlis Report (and Hariri Inc not far behind it) invoked the names of the top leaders of Syria. Tit for tat, as they say in China. Lawyer of Jamil As-Sayyid said today that Husam lied before, and he may lie again. True. But Husam is a difficult foe for Hariri Inc. Their propaganda is now confused and on the defensive. I am glad that Hariri Inc is in the hands of the incompetent (and slow) Sa`d Hariri. But the competent and highly shrewd Fu'ad Sanyurah is really in charge. Sanyruah is so shrewd that he used to do what Kissinger used to do during Nixon times. Kissinger used to call the press and tell them how drunk and crazy Nixon was so that the press would trust the reassuring presence of Kissinger in the White House. Similarly, when Rafiq Hariri would inaugurate some of his hyper-capitalist measures in the Lebanese economy, Sanyurah would criticize him privately to Lebanese journalists, and express his astonishment at Rafiq Hariri's extreme capitalist advocacy. I never thought that I would say this: but Syrian TV has been interesting in the last two days. This Husam show is quite interesting, and he names names. But Syrian production of propaganda is not very refined, although the interview was well done (by the able Nidal Qabalan) and the press conference was relaxed by Syrian governmental standards. And Husam would evaluate each question with a label, as in "this is a beautiful question" or this is a "nice question", etc. (You have to see the little space Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, devoted to the press conference of Husam. Four years ago, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper ran a very long interview (in two parts) with Angry Arab. But it was all about women's issues and feminism.) At this point, I am so firm in my belief in the necessity of combating Hariri propaganda although I have such limited means and very little, if any, access to the Arab media, except an occasional Al-Jazeera appearance. (A HaririWatch website is being set up, and several of view offered to help. I should tell you when the site will be up and running). And now the Mehlis team summoned two women in Sidon for questioning. One is the sister of the mayor of Sidon. These two women are related to may family by marriage. They have nothing to do with anything, and this explains the outrage in Sidon. They believe that this was motivated by political consideration of the Hariri Inc due to their opposition to Hariri Inc. There is fear in Lebanon today; I am told that this case has instilled fear among people. People are now nervous about criticizing Hariri. My uncle (on my mother side--a Sunni from Beirut) who is close to 90 has been warned to refrain from criticizing Hariri. But the good news is this: the Hariri functionaries and members of parliament are so unimpressive. Rafiq Hariri never liked good and competent people (except in his financial empire). The late Basil Fulayhan was an exception with his competence. I mean, when you look at people like Ahmad Fatfat (Minister of Ping Pong in Lebanon), you can only wonder if there are any Lebanese who are naive to the point of thinking that his ilk are capable of constructing a new Lebanon. A new Lebanon? An undisguised version of the very old Lebanon is being constructed before your eyes, and some Lebanonse have not noticed, and some don't care.
PS: To discredit Husam, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat could not find anything to attack him on except his...class and profession. They called him mockingly, the "barber of Beirut" because he worked as a barber. When you think about it, it is not very flattering to the Lebanese, or many of them, that a family (the Hariri family) was able to buy 70% or more of an entire homeland. And what a homeland?
"Suicide" of Ghazi Kan`an. I have written about Ghazi Kan`an's suicide before. My theory was that he probably was pushed to kill himself by a Syrian regime that viewed him as being too loyal (and too coopted( by Hariri Inc. I speculated that the Syrian government leaked to New TV damaging information about Kan`an, that Kan`an would know for sure came from the Syrian government itself. So when the report aired on New TV, Kan`an made the call to Voice of Lebanon and then allegedly killed himself. I am now able to confirm (from New TV sources) that the famous report indeed came from the Syrian government (which sent it to Emile Lahhud's apparatus which in turn leaked it to New TV).
Panel, c. 1902. Odilon Redon.
I stayed late watching some of the trial of Saddam. I can't believe this American managed spectacle. The US wants to use it for their propaganda, but it always backfires. Just like Hurra TV. Every footage of the trial helps the propaganda of Saddam and his supporters. He really runs the court; the judge (the new one) may be worse than the previous one. Yesterday, he strongly and forcefully lectured and hectored the judge, who just looked at him sheepishly. At that point, when Saddam was complaining about the discomfort from his shackles, the judge said that he would talk to the guards. Saddam started yelling at him, that he should order the guards, and not talk to them, and that he represents sovereign Iraq, and that the guards represent the American conquerors. At that point, the transmission ended. But it was too late. Saddam had his moment. I was most disturbed and repulsed at the sight of Ramsey Clark in the court room. Yesterday, he was officially approved as Saddam's lawyer. I know that some leftists out there support Clark. I disagree strongly. The left should dissociate itself from Clark. This is a man who never decided to take the case of any of the hundreds of thousands of Saddam's victims. When Clark was meeting with Saddam during his brutal rule, and saluting his leadership, did he suggest to defend one of Saddam's victims? This is a man who never met a dictator that he did not like if the dictator was opposed to US foreign policy. In that sense, Clark is not qualitatively different from George W. Bush. They both like their dictators; Bush likes dictators who are aligned with US policy, while Clark likes dictators who are opposed to US policy. They both employ (im)moral standards on human rights and democracy.
Michael Hudson on Finkelstein at Georgetown
"But according to Hersh, the Mehlis report is built on the same anemic foundations as Powell's UN presentation in February, 2003. "He is relying on intercepts of an unnamed source inside the Iranian air force, someone without inside stuff. It's not empirical." On the basis of this thin evidence, he says, the Bush administration is campaigning at the UN for sanctions on Syria." (thanks Amina)
It is no big deal. "Critics say civilians died in incendiary attacks. U.S. asserts white phosphorus was only used on insurgents."
Bush falsely claimed that there is a link between Sep. 11 and Iraq. But he now can proudly claim that a new link has been established between "liberated" Iraq and Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. This his the fruit of his own "liberation" after all.
"Musharraf told by summit to embrace democracy" (He offered to embrace Tony Bliar instead)
Is the World Bank not nice to Lebanon? How could you ever be critical of the World Bank? The World Bank is so nice that they have awarded a highly sought after internship in their Washington-DC headquarters to none other than the daughter of Fu'ad As-Sanyurah, prime minister of Lebanon. Is that not nice?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

About religious freedoms in the Not-Even-A-Nightlight-Unto-The-Nations.
The Cult of Death and Martyrdom. Today I heard part of a speech by Iraqi prime minister-under-occupation, Ibrahim Al-Ja`fari. It was unbelievable: it was an ode to the cult of death and "martyrdom". He was talking about the "missions" of the Shi`ite militias (disguised as Iraqi security forces), and he sounded like Bin Laden when he talks about his men. This is the "new" Iraq.
Historian Robert Conquest received the highest medal from the president of the US. His claim to fame? Well, he really was good at inflating the figures for the victims of Stalin. He would add 10 million every year. His work was really appreciated by anti-communist propagandists around the world.
How pathetic it is that some Arab leaders, including Palestinian leaders--`Arafat was the king of that--pin their political hope on "the next" leader of the Labor Party in Israel. King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who watches TV as Barbara Walters told us as a sign of his modern outlook, said that he is hopeful given the new leader of Labor. When I was growing up, South Lebanon and the Palestinian refugee camps were bombed by Labor Party leaders. Likud did not come to power until 1977. For me the difference between Labor and Likud is akin to the difference between Gore and Kerry, or between Seven Up and Sprite.

Real friendship.
In the "memoir" of `Allawi (former Iraqi puppet prime minister/embezzler-in-Yemen/car bomber/former Saddam's henchman) published in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, which like all Saudi media, support `Allawi, the mystery remains. We are still not told why `Allawi who allegedly broke with Saddam in 1971 did NOT resign from the party until 1975. In those years, he was in charge of Saddam's intelligence network in Europe, when the regime (along with its tool Abu Nidal at the time) customarily assassinated opponents of the regime.
By the way, notice that suddenly, before Iraqi the elections-under-occupations, you stopped hearing anything about the investigation of corruption in the previous government of `Allawi (former puppet prime minister/Saddam's henchman/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen). It is easy to guess that the US government pressured the auditing committee to end its work in order to avoid damaging the political campaign of its favorite son/puppet `Allawi.
200 Palestinian olive trees were uprooted yesterday. Israeli courts will undoubtedly find traces of terrorism in the trees.

Palestinian school kids breaking through an Israeli occupation checkpoint to go to their school. Later, the US Congress will declare the checkpoint a monument to global education.
The verdict is in. The speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament has stated that it is not the opportune time yet for the legalization of political parties in Kuwait.
The End of the Mehlis Report (as we know it)? This was explosive. I receive Syrian TV and was able to watch it. The witness (one of the three Syrian witnesses cited in the Mehlis report in addition to Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq who has been discredited--the Mehlis Report rushed a qualification about him by saying that his credibility was enhanced when he changed his story because he implicated himself--take a course in logic to understand this one--) known as the Masked Witness. Husam Husam appeared on Syrian TV after fleeing Lebanon in his third successful prison escape. It is the most unusual story. I found him quite intelligent and quite credible, but who knows, especially when you are dealing with propaganda and counter propaganda and with rival intelligence services. He will prove to be useful for the Syrian government, regardless whether Syria was behind the assassination of Hariri. It seems to me that things have gotten clumsy and that the Hariri Inc (very uninnocently and due to their "external connections") was too eager and too desperate to implicate Syria that they may have damaged whatever real evidence that may have existed in order to force the international guardians to force in turn a radical and total change in the Lebanese political scene, and to expedite the implementation of UNSC 1559. Make no mistake about it. Hariri Inc is on the same side with Walid Phares these days. The scenario that Hariri Inc wanted us to buy was too outlandish: now, I have been of the view that some level of Syrian mukhabarat was behind the assassination of Hariri, but the scenario that ALL Lebanese intelligence AND national security agencies were involved, and that EVERY top Syrian military and intelligence and political leader was involved (including the brother and brother-in-law) of Bashshar was just not believable. It reflected the imagination of Hariri Inc. I watched and listened to Husam Husam (by the way, his name is Husam, h as in hawaii and not as Halwan the town in Egypt--so his name is not Husam as in sword. I never heard a name Husam. It must not be Arabic; the person is Kurdish. I could not find the name or the root of the word in Lisan Al-`Arab. Does anybody know what the word Husam mean?), and could not believe how stupid the Hariri people are. I could not believe that they, THEY, interviewed the witness and talked to him, and fed him lines. THIS witness met, at least according to his own account, with Sa`d Hariri, the Minister of Interior, the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, Walid Jumblat, Marwan Hamadah, Ghazi Al-`Aridi, Jubran Tuwayni, and Hariri propagandist (and self-designated expert in the Hariri assassination), the unbelievable Farish Khashshan. How could the witness meet all those people? This is like Bush meeting with prisoners and interviewing them. The entire investigation is now contaminated, and the Mehlis team, and the entire current security-intelligence team in Lebanon should be dismantled, just as the previous team had to be dismantled. I for one will not believe anything that will come out of this flawed and corrupt process. Husam talked about his many meetings with Faris Khashshan, who would then take him to the Minister of Interior and the Director-General of the Internal Security Forces. Sa`d Hariri himself, he said, promised to take care of him, and cash was offered to him, and a life in France. Could he be dissimulating? I don't know. Both sides--the Syrian government and the Hariri Inc--are guilty and both sides lie that one has to treat their claims with skepticism. They also both have records of lies and fabrications.
The Moroccan King, who has been so kind since Sep. 11 in that he has operated torture prisons on behalf of the US in "his" country, has decided to free 336 prisoners. The only requirement was that they not be...MOROCCAN. Kid you not. They were mostly white European prisoners. It still helps to be white around the world.
From "liberated" Iraq: holding signs that say: "where is my son" and "where is my son, o government?"
A Palestinian woman holding unto an olive tree that was uprooted by armed Israeli occupation settlers. Armed occupation settlers uprooted 200 Palestinian olive trees yesterday.
""no matter which side of the bed I chose to wake up on, I would still be a black man in a racially divisive America."
`Ali Sadr Ad-Din Al-Bayanuni. While in jail in Damascus in the mid-1970s, Al-Bayanuni wrote a book of poetry. One of them is blatantly plagiarized from the Tunisian poet, Abu-l-Qasim Ash-Shabbi's famous poem, If People Will to Live (If People will to live; then Destiny will certainly Respond, etc)
This is "libeation": Instead of US puppets, Muqtada As-Sadr's popularity seems to rise
"Forced to Marry Before Puberty, African Girls Pay Lasting Price"

"Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. The change in Mr. Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case. "The position of the executive branch," said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner.""

I have never seen Ilyas `Atallah (the head of the Hariri Left Movement in Lebanon) as intimidated and as silenced and as shaken as he was on LBC-TV's Al-Hadath program. Nawwaf Al-Musawi really shut him up very effectively. You should debate him more often Nawwaf.
Nothing, NOTHING, illustrates the vapidness of Lebanonese culture than the "shows" put up by Mansur Rahbani and his sons. Since the death of `Asi, you can't even think of one song by Mansur. The death of `Asi exposed the truth about the "Rahbani Brothers." There is no brothers; it was all `Asi, who had the talent, and his son tells `Abidu Basha in his book of interviews, that `Asi despised the Phalanges in Lebanon. To compensate for lack of talents, Mansur produces (or his oil benefactors produce for him) those silly "grand" shows, with hundreds of musicians and dancers, but there is no there there. Even his play on "the last days of Socrates,"--I shudder that he was even allowed to touch that topic--had to recycle the same Rahbani cliches about the village, the moon, and the night guard, and the silly Lebanonese folklore. I am glad that an American student, Chris Stone, wrote his PhD at Princeton on the Rahbani brothers. I read one chapter of it, and it was excellent. I am looking forward to seeing it in print. Mansur is most remembered for this song:
I love you Lebanon; O, my homeland, I love you
In your north, in your south, and in your sun I love you.." Enjoy.
Untitled (Forest Interior Black and Grey), c. 1930. Emily Carr.
It has been a week since US troops last reported the killing of a "senior aide" to Zarqawi: "US military says top al-Zarqawi aide killed"

Zaha Hadid's Chinese Opera.
"Egyptian police barricaded polls and arrested hundreds of supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement Saturday". (I am sure that this will get US official blessing. It will be considered a contribution to the US "war on terrorism.")

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Consider the cases of Abed Hamed Mowhoush and Manadel Jamadi. Mowhoush, an Iraqi general in Saddam Hussein's army, was smothered to death in a sleeping bag by U.S. interrogators in western Iraq. Jamadi, a suspected bombmaker, whose ice-packed body was photographed at Abu Ghraib, was seized and roughed up by Navy SEALS in Iraq, then turned over to the CIA for questioning. At some point during this process, according to an account in the New Yorker magazine, someone broke his ribs; then he was hooded and underwent "Palestinian hanging" until he died. The CIA operative implicated has still not been charged, two years after Jamadi's death. And the SEAL leader was acquitted, exulting afterward that "what makes this country great is that there is a system in place and it works." He got that right. Shamefully, it is a system that permits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, smudges long-standing lines about what is and is not permitted in routine interrogations -- and then expresses hypocritical horror when soldiers and interrogators cross the blurry line into torture and murder."
"The Americans are guilty of "major interference, and preventing the forces of the Interior or Defense ministries from carrying out tasks they are capable of doing, and also in the way they are dealing with the terrorists," Hakim charged." (But you read the interview, and get the impression of a clash of human rights violations, versus human rights violations).
A new definition of hygiene. "The US military yesterday said four soldiers would face disciplinary action over the burning of the bodies of two Taliban rebels in Afghanistan, though it denied they had committed a criminal act and said their main motive was hygiene."
"The leak that revealed Bush's deep obsession with al-Jazeera"
A US puppet evaluates American "liberation" of Iraq. Guess what. Iyad `Allawi (former Iraqi puppet prime minister/former Saddam's henchman/embezzler-in-Yemen/car bomber) says that: "Abuse worse than under Saddam: People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said.""
Clerics are politicians. It is true in the Middle East and it is true here in the US. Thus, clerics are afflicted with the opportunism and shiftiness that characterize the careers of politicians. Take Shi`ite cleric Hani Fahs in Lebanon. This guy was a traditional cleric in the 1960s, and he then joined the Fath movement when it was strong in the 1970s. He later became close to the Shi`ite parties in the 1980s. And since the Hummus Revolution, he has become a Hariri mouthpiece.
An-Nahar has a news story about the "death" of a Syrian who allegedly stole a car. Read the account; it just does not make sense. They tell you that Lebanonese security forces shot warning shots, and yet, they simply said that Muhammad (the driver of the car) died. He must have had a cardiac arrest just at that moment. Will Kofi Annan investigate? Will posters demanding the truth of his murder at the hand of Lebanonese police be plastered around Beirut? Will the Security Council convene this evening? This is the truth that I am after.
By the way, the speech that Terje Roed-Larsen gave at Harvard last week was at the invitation of a group (of four people) founded by Walid Phares. Enjoy.
Akram Al-Bunni. Lebanonese newspapers love to publish articles by Syrian writers who are willing to criticize Syria, and praise the Hummus values in Lebanon. These are the ones that would not be allowed to publish one word if they dared to criticize Lebanonese racism toward the Syrian people, or even to utter a word of condemnation for the murder of Syrian workers in Lebanon (Lebanonese nationalists love to quibble with numbers here. As if the murder of 20 instead of 30 is a moral and qualitative difference). Syrian poet Nazih Abu `Afash talked about those Lebanonese Syrian writers in Al-Adab two issues ago. I just read an article by Akram Al-Bunni in Al-Mustaqbal. In Al-Mustaqbal, for potato's sake. A newspaper that resorted to the most racist references to Syrians in the last year, and who would highlight in huge headlines any murder and any legal violation by any Syrian on its crime page. I sincerely believe that Syrians should be boycotting this Hariri newspaper which has played a role in whipping up racist xenophobia against Syrians, comparable to the role the Phalangist newspaper Al-`Amal played against Palestinians before and after the Lebanese civil war. Now, I don't disagree with Al-Bunni's criticisms of the Syrian media. But every criticism leveled against the Syrian media apply to the Lebanese media, but Bunni would not dare say that.
Many of us have urged Clovis Maqsud to stop writing for An-Nahar. Last week when I was in DC, Clovis reported that he has decided to stop writing for An-Nahar. It took Clovis a week to break that pledge.
PS Here Clovis (in his article in An-Nahar) makes references to those who think that the Arab league Iraq initiative was nothing but a US desperate attempt. Clovis heard me attack the Arab League and `Amr Musa last week. But after my talk, he told me that he refused Musa's invitation to him to get involved in it.
I watched an interview with `Ali Sadr Ad-Din Al-Bayanuni, the General Inspector of the Muslim Brothers in Syria. Under free conditions, I think that he would be the most powerful man in Syria, and this of course restrains the US behavior toward Syria, although--as I always tell people--the foolishness of current officials of the US government can't be underestimated. Personlly, I say this in Arabic on Al-Jazeera at every opportunity, I would never support any Arab government, and never wish to add a day to its longevity, and would never shed a tear over the demise of any, ANY, Arab regime. Basically, under the Muslim Brothers, the Syrian people would replace one authoritarian rule with another. But I was not surprised at the strictness of his worldview. Al-Bayanuni said that no women's clothing that would "incite chaos" be allowed in "his" Syria. Now what is that clothing? I have never seen women's clothing lead to "chaos" before. And this Al-Bayanuni lives outside of London. One wonders where he got that. And he then added, as he watched the look of surprise on the face of his most skilled interiviewer, Sami Kulayb, that this is the case in several Muslim countries where "indecent dress" for women are banned. We are talking about a guy who will receive his inspiration from the fanatics of the House of Saud. When asked about his view of movies and plays, he said that he would not object to "useful" plays and movies. Let me guess: he would approve of Mustafa Aqqad's movie, the Message, but not of his 40 Halloween movies. (This reminds me. Who will now produce those lovely Halloween movies?)
(Palestinian) Guards and Puppets of Israeli Occupation. The Occupier's Agreement on Rafah Crossing. I heard the cunning and corrupt Muhammad Dahlan talk in the most vague of terms about the Gaza crossing agreement. As I watched him try to sell it--just as you watch a sleazy car salesperson trying to sell a damaged car--I knew that it must be a bad agreement. I read the full text, and shall comment in red and in bold letters. I will cite passages in sequence and then comment on it. You can find the full text in the link here.
"Agreement on Movement and Access" & "Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing"
Negotiators from Israel and the Palestinian Authority November 15 achieved
an agreement on facilitating the movement of people and goods within the
Palestinian Territories and on opening an international crossing on the
Gaza-Egypt border that will put the Palestinians in control of the entry and
exit of people. [Notice the last sentence; giving the false impression that the Palestinians will be in control, when the very articles of this agreement make it clear that the Palestinians are not in control.] The passages will operate continuously. On an urgent basis, Israel will permit the export of all agricultural products from Gaza during this 2005 harvest season. [Notice that the simple export of agricultural products is done on "an urgent basis" and is portrayed as a great gift from Israel, while it may not last as the language implies.] It is understood that security is a prime and continuing concern for Israel and that appropriate arrangements to ensure security will be adopted. [Notice that the term of reference is as always Israel. And notice that only the expensive people of Israel are entitled to security, while the Palestinians continue to be shot at as pigeons by Israeli occupation forces.] Consistent with Israel's security needs, to facilitate movement of people and goods within the West Bank and to minimize disruption to Palestinian lives, the ongoing work between Israel and the U.S. to establish an agreed list of obstacles to movement and develop a plan to reduce them to the maximum extent possible will be accelerated so that the work can be completed by December 31. [Here, another references to Israel's security "needs." Notice that they are needs. When they are needs, they become non-negotiable and the other side can only comply with the requests regarding those "needs." Unfortunately, Palestinian negotiators, in a process that is doomed and that should not be supported, do not even show understanding of the traps of the process and of the results and agreement. Notice also, that the agreement here speaks of "reducing" the obstacles and not removing them altogether. And how can you "minimize disruption to Palestinian lives" while maintaining some obstacles to movement of Palestinians" These are as incompatible as goals as the terms of the Balfour Declaration are] The parties agree on the importance of the airport. Discussions will continue on the issues of security arrangements, construction, and operation. [Dont you love this article? This is typical of the general and vague promises that Israel with US support gives to Palestinians and regularly breaks. And notice that the incompetent and morally bankrupt Palestinian negotiating team--it must have included Sa'ib `Urayqat--did not even bother to ask for a deadline and for a specific commitment.] Rafah will be operated by the Palestinian Authority on its side, and Egypt on its side, according to international standards, in accordance with Palestinian law and subject to the terms of this agreement. [You have to like this one. Basically, it is saying that this agreement, legally speaking, will supersede Egyptian and Palestinian laws.] Use of the Rafah crossing will be restricted to Palestinian ID card holders and others by exception in agreed categories with prior notification to the GoI[srael] and approval of senior PA leadership. [Here, you see the exact nature of this agreement. This is a legal agreement that would juridically establish Gaza as a jail run and managed by Israel, although some Palestinian guards will be assigned roles by the occupier. How could this be called, as some ill-informed media have done, "control by Palestinians". Even Arab media are talking about "Palestinian control" of Gaza entry points. This is not control when you have to clear names by submitting them to the Government of Israel. Imagine if the US is forced to notify and seek approval of the government of Mexico for the admission of visitors into the US. And don't you like the "agreed categories" that are not even defined? Who are those Palestinian negotiators? Now, it is not only the entire process that is flawed--to be nice about it--but the procedures of the flawed process are equally flawed too. And the Government of Israel has to be notified in advance. And who are "the senior PA leadership"? This must be a references to the guards and puppets of occupation, i.e. Abbas and Dahlan.] The PA will notify the GoI 48 hours in advance of the crossing of a person in the excepted categories-diplomats, foreign investors, foreign representatives of recognized international organizations and humanitarian cases. [Again, this advance notification violates the very principle of "full control" by Palestinians that is being falsely promoted by the media. And notice that even the "humanitarian cases" have to obtain the 48 hours in advance notice. So somebody who is bleeding, or somebody returning to attend a funeral--and they are numerous under Zionism--will have to wait for 48 hours to obtain approval, or rejection, from the Government of Israel.] The GoI will respond within 24 hours with any objections and will include the reasons for the objections. [Here the Government of Israel is being nice, don't you think? Israel is willing--the kindness of the Government of Israel--WILLING, to "include reasons for the objections." What do you say to that? Is this not a merciful occupation? Let me guess the objections. Would it possibly be accusations of...TERRORISM which Israel so casually affixes to any Palestinian?] The 3rd party will evaluate the capacity of the PA to inspect cars according to these criteria and to international standards. Once the PA develops the capacity to inspect cars to the satisfaction of the 3rd party, cars will be allowed to pass through Rafah. Until that time, cars will pass through on an exceptional basis, subject to specifications agreed in the security protocol. [Whenever I see the 3rd party, I think about the way Lebanonese nationalists and Hariri functionaries use the term "international legitimacy" which in effect only means the US, even if it may be through UN or EU representatives. But this also reminds one of colonial times, and the need for the colonizers to train the colonized.] Until Rafah is operational, the PA will open Rafah crossing on an ad hoc basis for religious pilgrims, medical patients, and others, in coordination with General Gilad's office on the Israeli side. [Notice that Israeli involvement takes place at every level of this process.] Israel will provide the PA with all information needed to update the Palestinian population registry, including all information on Palestinian ID card holders who are currently outside the country. [Here, the colonizer is being kind, YET AGAIN, providing the guards and puppets of occupation with the crucial information that is needed for the perpetuation of occupation.] A liaison office, led by the 3rd party, will receive real-time video and data feed of the activities at Rafah and will meet regularly to review implementation of this agreement, resolve any disputes arising from this agreement, and perform other tasks specified in this agreement. [Notice the phrasing. It talks about a "liaison office led by the 3rd party" which can only mean that it will include Israeli representation even if they are "led by the 3rd party."] The PA will establish baggage limits for each passenger as part of the procedures. Limits will be the same as currently applied by the GoI; very frequent travellers (suitcase policy) to be agreed. [Not only will the Government of Israel be allowed to watch videos of every Palestinian entering the Gaza area, but the Government of occupation will even limit the luggage of Palestinians. Only a self-loathing "authority" that serves the interests of another authority, read foreign occupation, can agree to such terms.] The PA will provide the 3rd party a list of names of the workers at Rafah crossing which will be shared with the Israelis. The PA will take the
Israelis concerns into account. [Look at the language of occupier's laws: "The PA WILL TAKE THE ISRAELI CONCERNS INTO ACCOUNT." That is it. That says it all. They will have no choice no matter how these concerns are expressed. Israel has invaded, occupied, killed, and maimed in the name of its "security concerns."] On a case by case basis, the PA will consider information on persons of concern provided by the GoI. The PA will consult with the GoI and the 3rd party prior to the PA making a decision to prohibit travel or not. During this consultation, which will not take more than six hours, the person in question will not be permitted to cross. [This really explains the extent of Israeli control over every level of the process, and the extent to which the PA will only be serving at the pleasure of the occupier.]
This is a new blog by the staff of Aljazeera. But what is with the title? Could it be more whiny and wimpy? Is this because the Qatari foreign minister once said that the best way in dealing with the US is begging and pleading?
The new Jordanian government refers to "the distortion of the image of Islam" by the fanatics of Zarqawi. But the Jordanian government has also distorted the image of governance, democracy, rule, AND of Islam too. Was King Husayn not responsible for the funding and cuddling of religious fanatics in the 1950s and 1960s to undermine the support of the leftists and nationalists?
Does anybody know what the new Jordanian prime minister, Ma`ruf Al-Bakhit, was doing during Black September? He graduated from the military academy in 1966, so he must have served in some capacity.
George W. Bush has been president for 5 years, and has been dealing with foreign policy for that duration, and yet when you hear him talk (talk, not read a speech), you don't see any evidence of that. There is no evidence that his knowledge of the world has advanced one bit. He remains as ignorant and ill-informed, and as thoughtless as when he first entered the White House. Really.
Have you noticed that all Western and UN reports that are critical of Israel are "unpublished" and "confidential"? Fortunately, somebody who is outraged at this unfair protection of Israel leaks to the press and that is how we know about it.
The tool of the House of Saud who runs Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Al-Humayd, has this to say about press reports about US plans to bomb Al-Jazeera: "it is a joke," he said. "No big deal." This from an ostensible journalist. But the Saudi-Qatari feud surpasses all other considerations, except the consideration of pleasing and servicing US empire.
Cedar Sanctuary, c. 1942. Emily Carr.
Former Iraqi prime minister/Saddam's henchman/embezzler-in-Yemen/car bomber, Iyad `Allawi, is back. You know that `Allawi is running for something by watching and reading the Saudi media. Al-Arabiyya TV has just started running a repetitious supply of Western-produced political ads for `Allawi's parliamentary campaign, while AshSharq Al-Awsat is running what it is calling the "memoir" of Iyad `Allawi, while they are no more than interviews with him on his private plane. In those interviews, `Allawi does what he does best: (aside from spying and terrorizing for Saddam's government) he lies and he fabricates. He tells tall tales of his confrontations with the Americans in Iraq, and how he told Garner that he does not take "order from a US officer", etc. They are quite laughable. But they really show how Saudi Arabia would do anything to please the US, and to save it money. I am sure that some of our taxpayers' money will also go to `Allawi's campaign. Let the House of Saud pay, I say. They insist.
"My homeland is NOT a suitcase." (Mahmud Darwish)
"Blood money boom for Iraqi donors as hospitals run dry"
"Profession : mercenaire français en Irak" (thanks Jad and Sonia)
The Washington Post would like you to know that war is really good for you: "experts have become increasingly interested in those who emerge from combat feeling enhanced"
"The campaign for U.N. secretary general is moving into high gear, as jet-setting candidates audition in New York, Washington and other capitals"
"From Scandinavia to the tropical Canary Islands, the CIA's clandestine use of European soil and airspace for counter-terrorism missions is triggering outrage, parliamentary inquiries and a handful of criminal prosecutions."
66% of Lebanese believe that US/France/UK interfere in Lebanese political affairs. There are very good political polling firms in Lebanon: the most reliable are the ones owned by Kamal Fghali, `Abduh Sa`d, and Jihad `Adrah. I have talked to all three, and asked about their methods and methodologies and find them reliable (although like rivals in the polling business in general, they all question the reliability of the other rival firms). The most unreliable is the one owned by An-Nahar-Lebanese Forces associate, Antone Shuwayri. This man has a deal with An-Nahar according to which the paper exercises monopoly over the firms that deal with press ads, circulation, and distribution. And to get a small portion of the pie, you have to be on good terms with AnNahar, and to avoid criticizing them. And this Shuwayri guy also provides TV ratings for Middle East media to advertisers. But he deliberately favors LBC-TV in his "ratings' surveys as New TV illustrated in a study it did recently. He focuses on people's viewing habits in Christian East Beirut to favor LBC TV at the expense of the rival stations. An-Nahar relies for its public opinion polling firm that is I think linked to him too, and the questions as always reveal the political biases of AnNahar. Today, An-Nahar has a public opinion survey dealing with Lebanese views of recent events in Lebanon, and the results only confirm the sectarian consciousness of the Lebanese and the deep divisions in society regarding the major issues. And An-Nahar always places a headline that would represent its right-wing sectarian Christian biases. Also, to make the results more sensational, the paper does not distinguish between "majority" and "plurality"--it uses the Arabic word "akthariyyah" for both, thus confusing the readers about the results, and boosting the results when it wants. I can see the results of the survey, and stress different figures from what AnNahar emphasized. For example, more than 46% of all Lebanese consider the Mehis report either purely political or "political AND technical." But An-Nahar stresses that 39.25 % of Lebanese find the report "technical-legal". But the sectarian breakdown (as provided by the paper) tells a different story: that people in South Lebanon and Biqa` are very skeptical, and skepticism also exists among Sunnis. And more than 49% of Lebanese support a campaign based on socio-economic (living) conditions against the Lebanese government. And An-Nahar very suspiciously leave buried in the report a major finding: that 66% of Lebanese believe that US/France/UK interfere in Lebanese political affairs. But the survey does not ask the Lebanese to give a value judgement of that interference; it only ask for such value judgment of the Syrian role. And when Lebanese are asked if their country is free, the survey deliberately and manipulatively splits the results: those surveyed are asked whether their country is free and whether the country is under a new guardianship and whether the country is not free. Now two categories (of being "unfree" and "under a new guardianship"), are the same, but the results would have been too embarrassing for the government and its external patrons. Thus, it reports that 32% of Lebanese think that the country is under a new guardianship, and 31.75 % dont think that Lebanon is free. Now those two results should have been combined to report some 63% of Lebanese don't think that Lebanon is free.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The British Consul in Jerusalem needs two more years--or more--of Arabic.
I like music; I like different kinds of music. I like melancholy in music. But the worse music is Al-Qa`idah music. Al-Qa`idah in Iraq has a new video about the bombing in Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, and the background music, typical of the music in such videos, is most depressing and most repulsive. It always sounds like chants of death and injury. Is that the music that they listen to in private? In fact, I have been surprised that they even use music at all. I would have thought that given their fanaticism and strictness, no manner of music would have been allowed. But they probably justify that by references to Sunnah: that Muhammad at his time allowed religious chants.
The crackpot Lebanonese presidential candidate. When Ahmad Chalabi discovered that he is unpopular or unknown in Iraq, he grabbed the garb of Muqtada As-Sadr to get some popularity and support. Similarly, Shibli Al-Mallat, the current joke candidate for the presidency of Lebanon, aware that he has no chances of getting any support for his campaign in Lebanon (which was announced from New York no less), he visited the Maronite Patriarch yesterday and asked for his "spiritual blessing." This from an ostensibly secular (and formerly progressive) man. Don't pin hopes on anybody in Lebanon. They will eventually disappoint you. (Feel free to pin hope on Lebanonese dishes. They will not disappoint you).
Walid Jumblat: the buying and selling in Lebanonese politics. He is the star of the Lebanonese opposition. But his political shifts are known to all Lebanese. A recent new twist and change in his rhetoric and discourse suddenly occurred last week upon the announcement that he was invited to visit Washington, DC in February. That man, who is capable of weekly changes, changed again. In an interview with Al-Afkar magazine, he said: "King `Abdullah (of Saudi Arabia) is one of the distinguished Arab kings....There is permanent coordination with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially with King `Abdullah." By the way, he still heads a party that calls itself: "The Progressive Socialist Party." But given the sectarian political nature of political parties in Lebanon, his followers will follow him even if he named his party the Potato Party. That is the nature of sectarian politics in Lebanon. He had a late-night dinner with Samir Ja`ja`, a rival war lord whose records in war crimes exceeds that of Jumblat, whose militia terrorized Beirut AND the mountain in the 1980s. I bet that he did not tell Ja`ja` what he says about the Lebanese Forces or about the Maronites in private. He usually points to his shoes when speaking about them.
I was not a friend of Ted Koppel. I met him a few times during my Washington years. He always impressed me with his thorough interviewing style, which he did not use consistently. He did not grill Israeli leaders the way he did with Arab (and especially Palestinian) leaders. He believed strongly in Zionist goals, and categorically believed in the "right" of Israel to declare Jerusalem as its capital. I was most impressed with how he treated the staff at ABC News. Limo drivers, producers, assistants, and interns all praised his kind and humane personality. That left an impression on me. I have not watched Nightline in years; I appeared on it 2 or 3 times in the early 1990s, and I can't say that I will be missing a program that I have not watched. I read his book of diaries, and feel that he has a higher view of the media than we get today. He tried to make the news media--or his own media program at least--more independent of government pressures and influences. He tried, not always successfully, to insulate the media from the sensational and sleazy coverage. That is all. No more. No less.
Citizen Hariri (and Hariri Watch). We need a Citizen Hariri project for Lebanon. We need to produce a work of art, literature, politics, and popular culture that would illustrate the devastating damage that Rafiq Hariri (and his Inc) inflicted (and continue to inflict) on Lebanon. The Lebanese political system has two ills: political money and sectarianism (and external intervention exploit both, always), and Hariri perfected and expanded the use of those two evils of Lebanese politics. When Hearst lamented the rival press barons, he went against them with his sensational and exploitive methods. Hariri went against rivals in the media and popular culture by simply buying off ALL Lebanese media. This is a country that is suffocating from press and political restrictions and manipulations, and many don't even know it. This is a country that does not allow--under the new US-Saudi domination, "the other point of view." Sa`d Hariri actually said during the parliamentary campaign that whoever disagreed with him must be his father's killer. PR firms are hired to manipulate public opinion, and to package propaganda messages (just as the King of Jordan spend millions to have Saatchi & Saatchi design billboards of propaganda in Jordan, and it produced and designed the slogan, Jordan first for him, to the tune of $30 million, I am told), and to sell images to Western media and governments, that are more than willing to absorb and to accommodate, especially when Hariri Inc has become a mere tool in US policy in the Middle East. Cheney's advisor (Hanna) has more say over Lebanon than all the Lebanonese leaders that you see on your Hariri-funded TV. We need to document what Hariri has done to Lebanon, for those who care about the real concerns of the people in that fictitious homeland. We need to first chart how Hariri started his (sectarian) charity to build a political base, while also funding the militias of the various sects (including the Lebanese Forces) to facilitate his entry into Lebanon politics. We need documentation of Hariri's reported cash payments to the presidential campaign of Chirac, and his bribes in Damascus which reached a very high level of the political, intelligence, and military leadership. We then need to document how Hariri ruled Lebanon, in conjunction with the Syrian intelligence service for much of the Hrawi administration, whose term was extended without any attention by the UNSC. Hrawi, once put on the Hariri payroll, was more than willing to go along providing Hariri with the opportunity to rule Lebanon. Hariri's first act as prime minister was to request from Hafidh Al-Asad, who put him in power, "extraordinary powers" for his government, so that he can rule by decree without any role by the Lebanese parliament. His second act was to give orders to shoot at demonstrators who were protesting the Oslo accords. These were the days when Hariri was expecting the "fruits of Arab-Israeli peace" to reach Lebanon. His third act was to crush--with the support of Syrian intelligence AND Shi`ite leader Nabih Birri--the labor movement in Lebanon. The final act in that regard was in 2001, when he--with Nabih Birri--arranged for the installation of a puppet as head of the General Union of Workers. We then need to document how Hariri's financial and political interests intersected with the interests of factions in the Syrian intelligence service. It could be a movie, a novel, a play, a biography, a website, a poem, or all that combined. We are talking about a country that has been put on the payroll of one family, with its political loyalties always extending outward, toward Syria, toward Saudi Arabia, and as of late very much toward the US (and Israel with it--directly or indirectly). We need to ask for an accountability for Hariri's disastrous financial decisions of the 1990s, which accumulated the foreign debt of Lebanon (the largest per capita worldwide), and his privatization of key sectors of the economy to the benefit of family members, relatives, and business associates and partners. As we see that Lebanese media are ALL (except Ad-Diyar which used to be on the payroll of Hariri, and New TV which sometimes is influenced by outside pressures especially given its links to the Qatari government) under the direct influence of Hariri Inc, and the Lebanese people are deprived, more than during the era of Syrian domination, the opportunity for"alternative views and opinions." Maybe we need to set up a Hariri Watch website, by people living in Lebanon and are willing to provide information, documentation, and verification. We need to demolish, challenge, and undermine the dangerous Hariri cult in Lebanon. For those who are interested, especially those who are in Lebanon, and for those who have ideas, contact me. This is real politics, much more than the waving of the Hummus flag.

Forest, c. 1940. Emily Carr.
Notice that Arab neo-conservative, and fanatic admirer of the American occupation of Iraq (he knows that I know that he is a huge fan of the US war and occupation), Hassan Fattah of the New York Times, simply offers the account presented by the Israeli government. He offers "his" account, according to which Israel merely "retaliated", and then offers the "UN"--read US--account, which merely repeated the Israeli account. He does not even mention that the Lebanese cabinet, which includes former and current agents of Israel in Lebanon, disputed the UN account, and blamed the Israeli government. What Hassan Fattah does NOT dare report.
When Saddam's jails are not sufficient to accommodate the "liberated" Iraqis: "But the influx of new prisoners - the population of the four American-run prisons here has doubled over the past year, and Iraqi jails are packed - has overwhelmed the Iraqi authorities, rights groups say. And while the scandal in Abu Ghraib prison ushered in new reforms in American-run jails, the mushrooming Iraqi detention facilities operate virtually unchecked."
"Bush faces dual challenges on Iraq" (and he does not even know)
"Physical and sexual violence against women is extremely common — most often by their partners — and many women believe it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife if she disobeys or refuses sex, according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday. The WHO's first multi-country study on violence against women found that in the 10 countries surveyed, the percentage of women who had been physically or sexually abused at least once ranged from 20% to 75%. About 24,000 women were interviewed for the study in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and Tanzania.In most survey sites, "four out of five abused women were abused by their partners," said Geneva-based Henrica Jansen, one of the study's researchers. "Women are more at risk at home than in the streets," Jansen said at a news conference in Bangkok." (For the full text of the report, go here)
"At a fortress museum, North Korea shows off every present sent to the Kims, from a limo given by Stalin to plastic tchotchkes."
Pretty people should not go to jail, says this sleazy lawyer. (thanks Julie)
"Pakistan earthquake: A tragedy the world forgot"
"Female genital mutilation is carried out on at least 3 million women and girls a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, says a new Unicef report. Nearly half of those circumcised, a tradition believed to enhance a girl's beauty, tame her sexual desires, maintain her honour and increase her marriage prospects, are in Egypt and Ethiopia. Most are cut between ages four to 12. Unicef says the life-risking custom, which is largely a social practice, not a religious one, could be eliminated within a generation with government backing, but there should be a "collective choice" not a ban."
" Life in the Iraqi capital is worse than anyone could have imagined when the US and Britain invaded in 2003, and has become unbearable when it comes to security. I was brought up in a refugee camp in Lebanon and lived in the country during the civil war. Since then, I have travelled through war zones from Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Kosovo and Bosnia, but nowhere matches the random menace of Iraq today. In conflict zones, journalists are prepared for the risk of being shot at or kidnapped if you do not approach the right groups or militias. In most such situations, some armed groups will take responsibility for your wellbeing and protect you from others who do not approve of you being in a particular area. But in Iraq today no one can guarantee your safety. Killings and kidnappings - including recently even of the interior minister's brother - are routine."
This is your "beacon of freedom": "The Bush administration decided not to charge Jose Padilla with planning to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city because the evidence against him was extracted using torture on members of al-Qaida, it was claimed yesterday."
"The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States."
"Turning academia into a cafeteria"
Mass "liberation": "The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, U.S. officials say."
"as ferocious young Jessica Valenti put it over at, "Feminism isn't a f -- ing dating service.""
Have you noticed? Israel and its soldiers have had a hard time intimidating Palestinians.
"The European Union has severely criticised Israeli policies in east Jerusalem, saying they demonstrate a clear intention to consolidate Israel’s annexation of the Arab half of the city. The criticisms are in a report presented to EU foreign ministers this week but not yet publicly released."
"A confidential Foreign Office document accuses Israel of rushing to annex the Arab area of Jerusalem, using illegal Jewish settlement construction and the vast West Bank barrier, in a move to prevent it becoming a Palestinian capital."

Israeli occupation soldiers trying to explain to Palestinian children that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Old Tree at Dusk, c. 1936. Emily Carr.
The bridge that Israel bombed in South Lebanon two days ago. Israel claimed that the bridge has terrorist connections and Palestinian nationalist sympathies.
"The United States ranks 67th in the world by this measure, with only 15 percent of the House of Representatives being female. The lowest representation by region is in the Arab world, with women making up only 8 percent of legislatures."
"An unrepentant Ahmad Chalabi celebrates his return with his neocon pals"
"The Fall of Bob Woodward"
"The Times Disses Women"
American media is out of control. They are in a state of shock because Liberia has a female president.
Despite "liberation": "A number of emigres who returned after the fall of Hussein have left again, dismayed by conditions far worse than they had imagined."
"Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi declared Wednesday that the Gulf sultanate would forge ties with "the Israeli peace forces" if doing so would lead to peace." (When asked to define "the Israeli peace forces", he said: "they are all those forces who have a long record of killing Palestinians but who have been identifed as "peaceful" by George W. Bush")
US media will soon hail him as a symbol of democracy: "The choice of Bakheet, who has a long career in military intelligence, reaffirms the leading role of the security forces in decision-making, a senior official told Reuters"

A Palestinian child terrorized by two Israeli occupation soldiers.
George W. Bush really wants to explore space. He has been told that people on Mars possess WMDs that pose a threat to the US. In fact, Al-Qa`idah has sleeper cells on Mars too. But Bush has been assured by his science advisors that the people of outer space would welcome US troops with "sweets and flowers." Dick Cheney added--based on the expert opinion of Fouad Ajami--that Arab people would also rejoice for the occupation of other planets. And it is highly unlikely that the people of other planets would mount an insurgency against US (and Macedonian) troops. And Ahmad Chalabi volunteered to serve as the new prime minister of the Martian government. Most importantly, Abu Mus`ab Az-Zarqawi has slipped into Mars, and the US wants to take him out. In fact, it has been a week since US troops have captured or killed a "senior aide" to Zarqawi. That is most unusual and worrisome.
"US intelligence classified white phosphorus as 'chemical weapon'"

Israeli foreign minister selects the new Jordanian prime minister (seen to the right).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

For those who care, I shall speak on Flashpoint tonight at 5:00PM (Pacific Time). You may listen live (or taped). Warning: I taped it earlier, and I am angrier than usual.

Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky, 1935. Emily Carr.
"Liberation" procedures: "All men of military age were detained. they had material sprayed on their hands to reveal whether they had handled explosives or gunpowder. Families were split up and loudspeakers were barking commands. Some of the detainees came back and some did not."
"Iraq's oil: The spoils of war"
"Companies waiting in the wings for Iraqi riches"
Sovereignty in the age of Empire: "Romania's former defense minister said Monday that parts of an air base used by U.S. troops during the Iraq war were off-limits to Romanian authorities"
"the strategic balance in the Middle East clearly favors Israel" (and yet, it always wants more weapons and more bombs and more WMDs. It can never have enough).

Ever since the advent of Zionism, Israeli specialty has been to attack civilians and civilian targets. This is a bridge in South Lebanon that Israel bombed yesterday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Evidence of the failure of Zionism.
The US pushed the Arab League to convene the conference on Iraq in Cairo. But the results were--like everything else related to Iraq since the war--counter to American intentions and plans. The final statement basically legitimized the insurgency, and legitimized the demands for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

Israeli occupation soldiers showing the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Lebanese performers think that by visiting Los Angeles, they can claim a professional association with "Hollywood." Some come for a week's visit, and then go back to Lebanon to speak about their "experience in Hollywood." Fake claims and false pretensions. Are these not the essence of the Lebanonese idea? I have a struggling actor relative who lived in LA, trying to make it for years before returning to Lebanon, and his family would proudly talk about "our son in Hollywood."
The Rafiq Hariri grave site in Beirut, which I did not visit, is fitting for Lebanonese nationalist standards. Tacky, vulgar, and showy. Just what Lebanonese culture is known for.
"Here, however, Finkelstein lays the ground for a rational discussion about Israel. Finkelstein shows a clear correlation between moments when the anti-Semitism alarm is rung and the needs of Israel’s apologists who deploy agitprop against anyone seeking to present a clear understanding of what Chomsky calls the “international consensus”—a reference to the fact that the United States and Israel have blocked resolution of the conflict. In polite circles, this is called the “peace process,” an Orwellian term which occludes the techniques of domination and control through which the United States and Israel stop serious peace measures, i.e., a not out-of-the-ordinary display of the power of the doctrinal system and the racism of articulate Western elites. That, in fact, according to Finkelstein is what the new anti-Semitism is all about—a desperate ploy to bury Israeli and U.S. war crimes."
NOT even a nightlight unto the nations: ""Israel is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Twenty-five percent of Israelis live below the poverty line - one-third of all Israeli children. We have the highest rate of poverty among people 65 and older in the Western world. Those are terrible numbers."

When Baudrillard speaks, you...LISTEN.
"Are you saying that America represents the ideal of democracy?
No, the simulation of power.
At 76, you are still pushing your famous theory about "simulation" and the "simulacrum," which maintains that media images have become more convincing and real than reality.
All of our values are simulated. What is freedom? We have a choice between buying one car or buying another car? It's a simulation of freedom.
So you don't think that the U.S. invaded Iraq to spread freedom?
What we want is to put the rest of the world on the same level of masquerade and parody that we are on, to put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all-powerful. It's a game.
When you say "we," who are you talking about? In your new book, "The Conspiracy of Art," you are pretty hard on this country.
France is a byproduct of American culture. We are all in this; we are globalized. When Jacques Chirac says, "No!" to Bush about the Iraq war, it's a delusion. It's to insist on the French as an exception, but there is no French exception.
Hardly. France chose not to send soldiers to Iraq, which has real meaning for countless individual soldiers, for their families and for the state.
Ah, yes. We are "against" the war because it is not our war. But in Algeria, it was the same. America didn't send soldiers when we fought the Algerian war. France and America are on the same side. There is only one side."

The New York Times reviewed the new book by Robert Fisk. Now as some know, I have--politically speaking--broken with Robert Fisk over his lousy Hummus coverage of the Lebanese events in the course of this year. He writes like Hariri staffers. Not that he cares about my opinion, and not that I ever met him. But I was outraged at this review in the Times. An ill-informed writer for the Times, takes it upon himself to decide who is knowledgeable and who is not? "Mr. Fisk is most passionate and least informed about Israel." To that I say: the New York Times is most passionate and least informed about the entire Middle East.
I have received several more pictures of Hayfa Wahbi's visit to AUB in Beirut, but will not post any of them. The picture yesterday invited too many sleazy, vulgar, and sexist reactions.
Al-Hayat columnist, Jihad Al-Khazin, has the most racist column against the Iraqi puppet Minister of Interior, who is a ruthless and brutal guy, no doubt. So Al-Khazin was offended that Bayan Sulag attacked the Saudi foreign minister who, according to Khazin, is a "prince son of a king, and grandson of a king" as if that would impress anybody except those with potato heads who respect the titles and honors according by Western colonial powers on their client tribes and families. Al-Khazin, who clearly has not read Al-Muqaddimah which talks about the mixture of races and ethnicities after Islam, then velifies Sulaq because his name and origin are not Arab. He assumed that he is Persian, which he is not. The origin of the name Sulag is Hindi, and he is Indian in descent, as if whether he is Indian or Persian or Arab in origin should make any difference.
"PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals."
"Taken entirely from prisoner letters, family interviews and official government statements, this documentary drama offers an intimate and unforgettable look at the human stories behind the headlines." (thanks Steve)
So did the "Democracy and Human Rights President" Discuss Human Rights with the Chinese leadership? ""Honestly, human rights issues made up a tiny, tiny, tiny part of the meeting between the leaders of the two countries," said Kong Quan, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman."
The radical change in political rhetoric in Lebanon in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon only reveals that the political groups and personalities in Lebanon are guilty of hypocrisy, deception, cowardice, duplicity, and utter submission to the will of whoever has troops on the ground. But that is the real Lebanon, on its National Day.
Clovis Maqsud has decided to stop writing for An-Nahar.
Standards of LBC-TV: I find it hilarious, but entirely consistent with the standards of Al-Hurra TV and Bush's team, that LBC-TV would never interview the leaders of the Lebanese Communist Party, but regularly interviews the leaders of the Iraqi Communist Party, simply because they support US occupation. So if Lebanese Communist Party comes out in favor of foreign occupation, LBC-TV would start featuring them.

And who is the terrorist?
This is a sign: "Iraq War Debate Eclipses All Other Issues" (When the war becomes a domestic issue, the end begins).
I don't get it. The media keep referring to Sen. Jon Corzine as a successful politician, or as a "rising star." Ya. But only if you forget that he spent $63 million of his own money on his senate campaign, and $40 million of his own money on his governor's race. And this without counting the millions that he collected from others. US democracy at work.
"When we went to Iraq whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not, the key is -- we won. And Saddam is out! Whatever we want, will happen. Iran? We will not let Iran become a nuclear power. We'll find a way, we'll find an excuse- to get rid of Iran. And I don't care what the excuse is. There is no room for rogue states in the world. Whether we lie about it, or invent something, or we don't... I don't care. The end justifies the means. What's right? Might is right, might is right. That's it. Might is right." (thanks Fadi and Kamal) (But this article in general is very weak, and contains nothing new, even if one sympathizes with the political orientations and suspicions. Mostly speculation, conjectures, and guesses. Look at this sentence: "Feltman, closely linked to Ariel Sharon and Karl Rove, is an associate of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans that created the false evidence and "mushroom cloud" intelligence used to justify attacks on Iraq." Explain? How is Feltman "closely linked to Ariel Sharon and Karl Rove"? Evidence. Evidence, please.)