Sunday, August 31, 2008

Phoenician science. "Lebanon is an eastern Mediterranean country inhabited by approximately four million people with a wide variety of ethnicities and religions, including Muslim, Christian, and Druze. In the present study, 926 Lebanese men were typed with Y-chromosomal SNP and STR markers, and unusually, male genetic variation within Lebanon was found to be more strongly structured by religious affiliation than by geography. We therefore tested the hypothesis that migrations within historical times could have contributed to this situation. Y-haplogroup J*(xJ2) was more frequent in the putative Muslim source region (the Arabian Peninsula) than in Lebanon, and it was also more frequent in Lebanese Muslims than in Lebanese non-Muslims. Conversely, haplogroup R1b was more frequent in the putative Christian source region (western Europe) than in Lebanon and was also more frequent in Lebanese Christians than in Lebanese non-Christians. The most common R1b STR-haplotype in Lebanese Christians was otherwise highly specific for western Europe and was unlikely to have reached its current frequency in Lebanese Christians without admixture. We therefore suggest that the Islamic expansion from the Arabian Peninsula beginning in the seventh century CE introduced lineages typical of this area into those who subsequently became Lebanese Muslims, whereas the Crusader activity in the 11(th)-13(th) centuries CE introduced western European lineages into Lebanese Christians." (thanks Suheil)
Ghassan Sharbil asks Muhammad Dahlan:
Q Was it difficult for Abu `Ammar to shake hands with the killer of Abu Jihad [a reference to Ehud Barak]:
A No, Abu `Ammar did not have complexes. He used to shake hands and joke..."
I am not making this up: Saudi King (the Servitor of the two holy sites AND the IKEA store in the kingdom) expresses happiness over the plight of women in Saudi Arabia.
For those who want to know why I have contempt for Lebanon and its dominant culture: "L’hebdomadaire britannique The Observer rapporte les résultats d’une étude menée par les chercheurs Pierre Zalloua et Chris Tyler-Smit, qui ont découvert chez des hommes libanais vivant de nos jours un marqueur génétique typique des populations européennes. Selon ces scientifiques, l’interférence est claire : ce gène a été laissé par les croisés du 11e siècle quand ils ont envahi et se sont installés sur le territoire qui constitue aujourd’hui le Liban." (thanks Annie)
After I posted a note about Cham Press below, I received a call from the founder/editor who left a message on my phone. He apologized profusely and said nice things and said that he removed that article which was lifted from Al-Akhbar without permission and without even a note that it came from Al-Akhbar.
"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reprimanded Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas Sunday for meeting with released murderer Samir Kuntar in Lebanon. "You're not supposed to meet with killers," Olmert said during a meeting between the two in Jerusalem."
"The Israeli army forced their way into the playing field of a Palestinian secondary school in the village of Tell in south west Nablus district on Friday afternoon."
"The claims come after the coalition was also accused of killing more than 90 people, including 60 children, in air strikes in the west a week ago - a charge it denies. "Five civilians, including two women and a child, were killed in an air strike by coalition forces early this morning," Sayed Sakhidad, criminal investigation police chief for Kapisa province outside Kabul, told AFP."
Spotting the moon of Ramadan in the Arab world. (thanks Talal)
"The president reiterated that the "genocide" being carried out in Somalia by the US Administration and its "servants" was "the biggest crime of the 21st century", and said even worse was the act of stifling to deny the situation the attention of the world."
""Sarah's absolutely pro-Israel," he said, referring to conversations with her and comments she's made about Israel's security and its importance to the United States. He noted that as governor she signed a resolution honoring Israel for its 60th birthday."
"Germany's Defense Ministry says three civilians were killed when security forces opened fire after their vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan."
"But General McKiernan also contended that only 5 civilians had been killed."
"Britain has failed in its duty to stop the US from committing "shameful acts" in the treatment of suspects detained during the war on terror, one of America's most respected intellectuals warns today." How ironic. A man known and respected around the world remains unknown here in the U.S.
This is Zionism: "Human rights groups say Israel has systematically fostered Jewish communities at the expense of Palestinian growth in several areas of the West Bank it wants to keep, and the Jordan Valley is among the hardest hit. Israelis move freely through the valley, while Palestinians are hampered by building restrictions and roadblocks, one of which even keeps them from nearby Dead Sea beaches."
"Iraqi and Western officials monitoring the talks have said Maliki is afraid of accepting terms that could brand him as an American puppet." (thanks Olivia)
"Jurors wept and embraced former Marine Jose Luis Nazario Jr. after acquitting him of voluntary manslaughter in the killings of unarmed Iraqi detainees during a fierce 2004 battle." (thanks Thabet)
"When did you convert from Hinduism to Catholicism? I was baptized in college. It was after several years of prayer and reading and thinking about this."
"Spotlighting Brigitte Gabriel allowed her to launch a barrage of vitriolic one-line assaults on Muslims. It’s hard to imagine opening your magazine to such a screed were it racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic, whether or not it was delivered by a best-selling author and whether or not your reporter attempted to trip her up. What makes Muslims fair game?
New York"
"But not just Iran. On August 21, Saudi Arabia got in on the action, executing two Pakistani nationals for smuggling drugs. The pair were beheaded by the sword after they were caught smuggling heroin in the eastern city of Damman. That was the 63rd execution this year in the country, with drug offenders accounting for between a third and one half of them. Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic, the executioner has been busy this month. On August 7, three men convicted of drug trafficking and murder were executed in a prison in the holy city of Qom."
A delegation from the SSNP in Lebanon meets with the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon.
Saudi media want to bring Dahlan back. Ghassan Shibil was a reporter for An-Nahar (the right-wing, sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people) newspaper in Lebanon). He is now editor-in-chief of Al-Hayat, the mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan. He is a good writer and knows how to conduct interviews. But his lengthy interviews with Muhammad Dahlan are rather odd: there is no preparation on the part of Shirbil and they are published as if clearly for a political purpose to revive the sagging fortunes of Dahlan. I used to read with great interest interviews by Shirbil, but this was not something to be proud of in his career. He did not challenge him at any point, and even wrote things that he knew were untrue. Mr. Shirbil: you compare `Arafat's relationship with Dahlan to his relationship with Abu Hasan Salamah? Are you kidding me? `Arafat used to regularly slap, literally slap, Dahlan, and would send him away for months and years and stayed away from him in the last two years of his life, and called him Karzai and traitor. Nothing of that was published in the interviews. My favorite part of the interview was when Dahlan referred to his Fath Movement as "liberal." Shirbil did not even ask him about his gas stations' liberalism.
The rise of Barak Obama, regardless whether he will win or not, will now allow Americans to engage in their favorite sport: self-praise and self-congratulations. You remember what Alexis de Tocqueville had said about Americans: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. . . . They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes." I say this because I already hear words about how great it was for America to have an African-American rise to the highest position (or candidacy more accurately). I mean, women led empires and countries centuries before it has ever happened in the U.S.--and it still has not happened. The French revolutionaries sat a freed slave in the National Assembly almost right at the same time when Thomas Jefferson wrote his Notes on the State of Virginia in which he compared African-Americans to monkeys. Also, many white Americans love to say: how far we have gone. Many African-Americans prefer to say: how far we have to go. Personally, I prefer to ask: where are we going anyway.
For those who ask, I should explain. I only write in Arabic for Al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Adab magazine. Both are independent and leftist publications. Yet, as you know, Arabic websites freely lift articles and post them and publish them without authorizations or permissions or agreements, and certainly no royalties. And they publish them without even stating the original place of publication so as to make it appear as if the article was written for them. So I had nothing to do whatsoever with my last article in Al-Akhbar being published on Cham Press (a website close to the Syrian regime) along with a distasteful cartoon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament this week to spare him their outrage."
"One in six American soldiers in Afghanistan and one in eight in Iraq are taking daily doses of prescription antidepressants, sleeping pills or painkillers to help them cope with the stresses of combat, according to figures contained in a US Army mental health advisory team report seen by The Herald."
"In 2003, after lobbying for six years, Lockheed Martin got Congress to approve a $3.8 billion loan for Poland to buy 48 of its F-16 fighter jets. It was one of the largest military loans in recent memory." (thanks Tanweer)
Blame the Shi`ite sectarian death squads and their sponsors at the American occupation apparatus: "But the Palestinians, who number about 11,000 and mostly live in Baghdad, remain one of the most vulnerable groups, said Daniel Endres, the envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq."
"And yes, Joseph R. Wood, Cheney's deputy assistant for national security affairs, was in Georgia shortly before the war began." (thanks FLC)
Husni Mubarak had a role in an old Egyptian movie--kid you not. (thanks Pierre)
"Police have been searching for two weeks for the body of Rose, the blue-eyed child." If only Palestinian children are blue-eyed. Maybe then the Western press would pay attention to their suffering. (thanks Abdullah)
"But now here comes Israel's environment minister, Gideon Ezra, with an equally huge whopper as he warns of an even bigger, more terrible war should Hizbollah attack Israel again. "During the (2006) war, we considered the possibility of attacking Lebanon's infrastructure but we never (sic) resorted to this option, because we thought at the time that not all the Lebanese were responsible for the Hizbollah attacks... At that time, we had Hizbollah in our sights and not the Lebanese state. But the Hizbollah do not live on the moon, and some (sic) infrastructure was hit." This was a brazen lie. Yet the Americans, who arm Israel, said nothing. The European Union said nothing. No journalistic column pointed out this absolute dishonesty. Yet why should they when George Bush and Condoleezza Rice announced that there would be peace between Israelis and Palestinians by the end of 2007 - then rolled back the moment Israel decided it didn't like the timetable. Take this week's charade in Jerusalem. The moment Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced that "premature" efforts to bridge gaps in the "peace process" could lead to "clashes" (Palestinians, it should be remembered, die in "clashes", Israelis are always "murdered"), my friends in Beirut and I - along with a Jewish friend in London - took bets on when Condi would fall into line. Bingo, this was Her Holiness in Jerusalem last week: "It's extremely important just to keep making forward progress rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions." "Some set", of course, means "peace"'. Once more, US foreign policy was dictated by Israel. And again, the world remained silent."
"Among the Palestinians on board was Saed Mosleh, 12, who lost his leg to an Israeli tank shell, as well as students who had been prevented by the Israeli embargo from studying abroad."
The Kuwaiti government bans a book because it promotes reconciliation and amity among Sunnis and Shi`ites. Saudis must have protested. (thanks Yahya)
"Dissatisfied with the answers, the rabbis nullified her conversion. Yael did not need a divorce, they ruled, because she had never been married. She had never been married because she had never been Jewish. And because she had never been Jewish, her children were not, either." (thanks Nabeel)
"Israeli forces sprayed waste water and gas into a crowd singing songs for freedom from oppression. They also chanted against the killing of children, the abuse of political prisoners and the occupation in general." (thanks Marcy)
"While boycott and divestment campaigns in the West become more sophisticated and widespread, the Arab world's longstanding boycott of Israel is being undermined by Arab governments, companies and businessmen." (thanks David)
Talal Salman on Adonis.
Based on what took place in the Lebanese parliament last Monday, it is clear to me that March 14th and its Saudi, French, and American sponsors will do their best to postpone or even cancel the next parliamentary elections.
I don't like flags and I don't like nationalisms, but...for Palestine and the Palestinians, anything and everything.
"The black-and-white checkered scarf -- which became an international symbol of the Palestinian struggle when Yasser Arafat first sported it in the 1960s -- has since grown into a global phenomenon more and more disconnected from the land and the struggle in which it was born." (thanks Olivia)
As is known, shoes are only offensive in Arab culture. So in the picture above, Pakistani demonstrators are merely saluting their president who carried Bush's banner of reform for years.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My article in Al-Akhbar: "The Lebanese genius"
"The story centers on the killing of a blue-eyed, four-year-old French girl named Rose." I need to apologize to all Palestinian children because they are not blue-eyed and are not French. Although many of them are shot like pigeons by Israeli occupation troops on weekly basis, they don't get their life stories told in long articles in the New York Times.
"Carter, however, focused heavily on McCain. He said he was bewildered by McCain's performance at the Saddleback Presidential Forum hosted by pastor and author Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., earlier this month. Carter said that whether he was asked about religion, domestic or foreign affairs, every answer came back to McCain's 5½ years as a POW."
"A former U.S. Marine sergeant accused of killing four unarmed Iraqi detainees was acquitted on Thursday of all criminal charges in the case, including voluntary manslaughter."
"If you heard about any of those stories, you are officially familiar with the “chastity squad”,"
"A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 of his slain comrades filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the construction and services giant KBR on charges of human trafficking, for allegedly tricking the men into working in Iraq."
"As the U.S. is seeking an exit from Iraq, it does know what to do with the more than 100,000 Sunni militiamen it has trained, armed and financed to fight al-Qaeda in their areas. These former rebels opted to side with the U.S. in the hope of eventually being integrated into the country’s security forces."
"Palestinian shepherd Khaled, and his son were walking their sheep and goats back to their tent camp in Susiya when a settler stopped his car in front of them and shot their sheep dog in the mouth before driving off again."
"GOP members writing their platform today voted to support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and backed the moving of the Unites States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." Big deal. The Democrats voted to move the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Amman to Jerusalem too.
"The United States military has secretly handed over more than 200 militants to the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries, nearly all in the past two years..."
"The American military doesn't release the names of those it detains." (thanks Olivia)
"The embassy says the U.S. ambassador met with the family Thursday and offered an apology and 750,000 Egyptian pounds, or about US$140,000. In return, the family agreed not to sue the U.S. government. The slain man's brother-in-law, Hussein Abdel-Aaly, says he felt pressured to accept the offer and that his lawyer wasn't allowed in the room when the deal was agreed upon." (thanks Mouin)
"The leader of this would-be terrorist cell: al-Jazeera's Josh Rushing, a Texas-born Marine veteran who wears blue jeans and cowboy boots. "I guess you could call it a mild jihad for the truth," said Rushing, sipping a latte. Wearily, he added, "This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened."" (thanks Marcy)
"The Re-education Of The Female, by first-time author Dante Moore, advises women to follow their man's orders. Despite the chauvinist opinions, copies have been flying off the shelves in the US. One piece of advice reads: "Here's a little secret, ladies. Men never really ask for anything. They command. And believe me, what you won't do, ten broads around the corner will." Mr Moore, a 33-year-old computer engineer, who has never married, continues: "The fatter you get, the more you decrease your potential single-man pool. Let me give you an example."" (thanks Ali)
"After reviewing a disputed airstrike on a village in Afghanistan, U.S. officials have concluded that the civilian death toll was far lower than claimed by the Afghan government and the U.N., two U.S. defense officials said Thursday."
From Harvard's Crimson of 1990: "Obama, 28, came to the Law School last year after having graduated from Columbia College and directed a Chicago counseling program for the disadvantaged for several years. Obama said yesterday he plans to continue working in the public sector when he graduates from law school, but is unsure what form that work would take. He said he will consider anything from running for elected office to setting up community service programs."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So much of the modern propaganda machine owes its features and orientations to the German-American graduate of Harvard University, Ernst Hanfstaengl (Putzi). As is known, Hanfstaengl advised Hitler on media and electoral campaigning before he fled under still mysterious circumstances to the U.S. (where he would advise the U.S. government). There is a book on him (his autobiography--while interesting--can't be trusted at all because he tried to downplay his role with Hilter and the Nazi party) titled: Hitler's Piano Player by Peter Conradi. I thought of him when I saw the Obama mass rally today. (Now this is not a comment on the speech: which, while so well delivered and written could have been written by Dick Morris. Not a word about racism and inequality. Well, he also made sure to say that he will do his utmost to protect the U.S....and Israel. And to please some angry white voters, he admonished black fathers. They like that. Also, I have lived here for 25 years and every four year I watch the same media routine during party conventions. They build up the suspense: will the rival of the candidate during the primary support him in his/her speech? And the verdict is always that they have indeed. And they they talk about the candidate's speech, and they wonder whether he will be effective: and they always say that it was, and that it exceeded expectations. Now don't get me wrong: Obama's oratorical skills are far and beyond American politicians, but still. The media are very predictable and they repeat one another. Also, can somebody tell Hillary Clinton that her attempts at humor are jarring? I also think that the Clintons sabotaged the candidacy of Obama from the beginning. And what is with Obama mentioning Middle East oil? Is Middle East oil worse than, oil from Venezuela? Middle East oil is now such a small percentage of all US oil imports.)
For those who care (and especially for those who don't care), I will speak about Obama's speech for BBC Arabic service in 90 minutes.
Abu Mazen was on Al-Arabiya TV. He was interviewed by Gizelle Khuri: and you know how I feel about her. He spent 90 minutes with her (60 for the interview and 30 for preparations and such), yet said: that he did not have time to visit the refugee camps because he did not have time. He basically said that he is willing to make concessions on the issue of returnees, Jerusalem, borders, and settlements. I kid you not. He talks about token, symbolic returnees which is what Sa`ib `Urayaqat told a well-known Palestinian advocate for the right of return. She asked him whether he called on Israel to release all 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. He categorically denied it--I kid you not--and said that he asked for 200 or 300 in return for that Israeli occupation soldier in Palestinian custody.
One thing bothers me, among others of course. I listened to the speech by Joe Biden yesterday (it was so bad that I knew he wrote it himself), and realized that all Americans (politicians and lay people) like to quote the wisdom of their parents and grandparents. You would think that all of our parents and grandparents were Nietzsche tossing aphorisms at us. Usually, they quote their parents and grandparents telling them the most bland and lame things, like: Son. You gotta do what you gotta do.
"Cuba has ordered jailed punk rocker Gorki Aguila, an outspoken critic of Fidel Castro and the communist government, to stand trial on Friday for "social dangerousness," a charge that could carry up to four years in prison."
At least some good news from Lebanon: "These days most of Lebanon's cedars are protected, but now there is concern that the trees face a new threat." (thanks Bassam)
"Much of the damage was done by the Georgians, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), a monitoring group. Shortly before midnight on August 7th Mr Saakashvili ordered a bomb barrage using Grad multiple-rocket launchers. This lasted through the night. Even his supporters agree that the use of indiscriminate Grad rockets, which killed civilians, was disproportionate and merciless. Mr Saakashvili said he was restoring “constitutional order”. But then so did Russia when it bombed Grozny in 1994. That Russia provoked Mr Saakashvili consistently is clear, but it is equally clear that Mr Saakashvili allowed himself to be provoked. “He wanted to fight,” says one of his allies."
"“I am sick of the Palestinian-Israeli issue,” President George Bush apparently told Jordan’s King Abdullah in June 2004."
"Marwan Mouasher: The Arab moderate": "Few protagonists get off lightly, though he is dutifully laudatory of the two kings he served, Hussein and his son Abdullah, the present one."
"Israel's national broadcast authority has rejected radio ads criticizing the Israeli government for stranding Palestinian university students in the Gaza Strip. The broadcast authority says the ads are too controversial."
"Taliban insurgents once derided as a ragtag rabble unable to match U.S. troops have transformed into a fighting force — one advanced enough to mount massive conventional attacks and claim American lives at a record pace." (thanks Ali)
"Iraq is calling on companies to submit designs to build a giant Ferris wheel in Baghdad — the latest in a string of lavish proposals painting the capital as a leisure friendly city." (thanks Seham)
"Three U.S. soldiers killed four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots on the bank of a Baghdad canal last year, the New York Times reported on Wednesday."
"Dilawar said they were stunned, particularly when they found out President Karzai had apparently pardoned the rapists. "Our appeal to the president is how on earth a rapist who was involved in disappearance of my son was released. What a decision is this? What a justice system is this?" he said. The president's office has refused to speculate on how the pardon could have been signed. But the suspicion must be that corruption - which is widespread across the Afghan justice system - has managed to penetrate the president's office." (thanks Nabeel)
Kathy, my 1st ex-wife (not to be confused with my 2nd ex-wife, Maria) sent me this (I am citing with her permission): "This is a disgusting story. What I told you from the first time I met you (nothing ever fucking changes...) Here is the pull-out quote: "The devaluation of women is a world wide phenomenon. The patriarchy tries to assure us that we are not oppressed. They offer the women of the middle east as examples of real oppression. The blood of Osborne, Acevedo, Caldwell, Robertson and Beck assure me that misogyny and violence against women is a real and ever present danger here in the so-called enlightened west. These women are no different than you or I, there only fault was to be born female in a world that is obsessed with phalocentric worship."
"Suspected Israeli mobsters employed members of the Vineland Boyz, a San Fernando Valley gang, to distribute tens of thousands of Ecstasy pills throughout Los Angeles, provide security and gun down an Encino man who allegedly tried to steal a drug shipment from them, according to a federal indictment unsealed Sunday." (thanks Richard)
"The Palestinian Ministry of Health at the Hamas-led government in Gaza reported on Tuesday that 78 days after the truce deal came into effect in the Gaza Strip, 46 patients including 10 children, died due to the ongoing Israeli siege on the coastal region."
"US authorities have admitted that the teenage son of a Pakistani woman scientist held in the United States on charges of trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan is in their custody, her family said Sunday."
"Sen Biden is a strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship and he has longstanding ties to AIPAC and the pro-Israel community."
One wonders why American neo-cons are no more praising Walid Jumblat: "Leader of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt has vowed a crushing and unified response to any aggression by Israel. "The entire Lebanese nation would repel any Israeli aggression," Jumblatt wrote in an article published by al-Anbaa newspaper."
This guy is the U.S. candidate to lead Pakistan and to push and agenda of reform, transparency, and democracy. Wave your flags NOW.
""Unfortunately there were some civilian casualties, although that figure is in dispute, I would say."
"Egyptians have found out that for less than two US dollars, they can safely vent their resentment at perceived lop-sided US policy in the Middle East. In recent months, local vendors have been in good business, selling flip-flops decorated with the stars and stripes. "These slippers are in high demand apparently because they provide the chance to express dissatisfaction with the American policies without running the risk of being arrested or beaten up in street protests against America," Atta Fadl, a footwear vendor in the Islamic Cairo district of Al Sayeda Zainab, told Gulf News. Fadl sells the footwear for 10 pounds ($1.8) per pair and says they are in high demand." (thanks Olivia)
"The database used to produce the government's terror watch lists is "crippled by technical flaws," according to the chairman of a House technology oversight subcommittee—and the system designed to replace it may be even worse." (thanks Sellam)
King PlayStation, the Lebanese journalist, Naji Sabri, and Mr. Habbush. Ron Suskind's The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in An Age of Extremism has some important revelations. But for a book that is 400 pages long, it is not well-edited or organized. But you wonder: during the Vietnam war there were some courageous American journalists who worked for mainstream media and who defied conventions and resisted political pressures. This time around, in the era of Bush's popular wars, we can't speak of many courageous reporters or correspondents. Patriotic journalism is now the norm. You can think of a handful of courageous reporters and Suskind is one of them. While he is no Middle East or foreign policy expert, he can write independently of the political climate of Washington, DC. But one wishes that he checked and verified before he made some observations on the Middle East, although his stories about ethnic profiling of Muslims in the U.S. are quite powerful. But Suskind should have known better than to refer to the Sunni-Shi`ite split as a "blood feud" (p. 67); or that Muslims--all Muslims avoid dogs (p. 65) when there are Muslims (especially farmers and peasants) who do take dogs as pets; or that King PlayStation of Jordan managed to "retain currency and respect among Muslims" (p. 155). But the book has some really important revelations that the press glossed over or may not have thought that it was important. For example, you learn that Israeli intelligence "helped" in the security management for Benazir Bhutto (p. 266), that Hamid Karzai "strong-armed" Arab investors to build the Serena Hotel in Kabul (p. 340); that Iyad `Allawi was used to authenticate a forged document to "prove" the link between Saddam and Al-Qa`idah (p. 374 and 378); and you read that Rumsfeld and Feith are still giving advice to Bush. And the portrayal of Bush is damning but not surprising. And then there are important revelations. This about King `Abdullah of Jordan: "Bob Richer, who, after several stints in the Middle East, had been stations in Amman, Jordan, in the late 80s. Early on in the tour, Richer was asked, improbably, by Jordan's king Hussein to spend some time with the king's son, Abdullah--a smart, free-spirited kid whose mother happened to be English, and who was therefore a long-shot for the throne. Richer, who has always managed to fuse entrepreneurial zeal with clandestine work, took to the task with gusto. By 1999, Richer--a former marine with a flair for quick thinking and quicker action--had helped guide the king's son into manhood. Richer was Abdullah's Karl Rove."(p. 153). And then you read this on Saddam's last foreign minister, Naji Sabri (now living in a Gulf country--most of Saddam's officials (who are approved by the Americans either live in Amman or in Gulf countries): "Along the way, [Naji Sabri] had also established a relationship with French intelligence as a paid spy. Though there were surface tensions between the United States and France in those prewar years, the countries' intelligence agencies maintained a good working relationship. CIA's Paris station chief, Bill Murray, was one of the more experienced field bosses in the clandestine service, having run five stations across a thirty-year career...Back in Washignton, Bush, Cheney, and Rice were briefed on the development, and agreed that Sabri seemed very promising indeed. Langley concurred, and coughed up an initial payment for the high-ranking Iraqi: $200,000...Direct contact was too dangerous. Arrangements were made for Sabri to meet with an intermediary--a Lebanese journalist trusted by both sides--while in New York. The intermediary would pose questions on behalf of CIA and then follow up with Murray. The plan went off smoothly: Sabri passed along what he knew, Murray debriefed the journalist in a New York hotel, and for his adress to the General Assembly, Sabri even wore a specific type of suit requested by Murray as a good-faith signal...(p. 179-180) In January, Murray discovered that the Lebanese intermediary had made off with Sabri's $200,000..."(p. 182). And then there is the very disturbing story of Saddam's intelligence chief (and killer) Taher Habbush, who was paid $5 million by the U.S. government and allowed to resettle in Amman, Jordan. The U.S. government was telling the press that it was searching for him, while it had helped whisk him out of Iraq after the invasion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liberals and leftists don't like it when I plug the Economist. How can I not plug the Economist, the best magazine there is, my political disagreements with it notwithstanding. Look at this obituary of Mahmud Darwish here. You would never read such an obituary in the U.S. press.
Between email and facebook, more than 40 people responded to my query about the poem by Shawqi Bazi` which was turned into a song by Marcel Khalifah. Thanks to all but: when I say NOW I mean NOW. OK? Blenders are on their way to all of you.
I finished yesterday Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World. There are some really interesting things on the Middle East which I will mention once I return from San Diego tonight.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A mere coincidence, no? "Since Saturday, Mr. Zardari’s statements have increasingly coincided with Washington’s policies, particularly on the campaign against terrorism, the United States’ central concern here."
Who wrote the poem
سأحدثكم عن أيمن
sung by Marcel Khalife? I need to know NOW.
PS Manal tells me it is Shaqi Bazi`.
Even the puppets of occupation are dismayed with occupation--or so they say: "The Afghan Council of Ministers decided Monday to review the presence of international forces and agreements with foreign allies, including NATO and the United States, after a series of military operations that have caused mounting civilian losses. The ministers demanded a status of forces agreement, which would stipulate that the authority and responsibilities of international forces be negotiated, and they said that aerial bombing, illegal detentions and house raids by international forces must be stopped."
My sources tell me that King PlayStation of Jordan loves to be regaled with stories and anecdotes about `Azzuz (Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd).
"Asif Ali Zardari, the leading contender for the presidency of nuclear-armed Pakistan, was suffering from severe psychiatric problems as recently as last year, according to court documents filed by his doctors. The widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was diagnosed with a range of serious illnesses including dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in a series of medical reports spanning more than two years."
Shirin sent me this (I cite with her permission): "FYI, As`ad, I spent the month of April in the Middle East (Amman for a couple of days, Lebanon for about four days, Syria for the rest of the month), and had MANY discussions about Obama with everyone from university professors to retired U.N. employees, to TV soap opera writers to hotel owners to journalists to suq merchants to taxi drivers (more taxi drivers and suq merchants than any other single group), and NOT ONE of them mentioned his middle name AT ALL. I was, of course, completely shocked! I thought their main focus would be his middle name, and yet they mostly focused on what they thought his policies were or might be. How surprising coming from Arabs! And they really must have liked me because not one of them threw a shoe at me!"
"Hamas, a Shiite group? Please check your facts. Also, the boats did not carry "Hamas sympathizers" but sympathizers with the Palestinians in Gaza who are under Israeli siege. How is it possible to call Tony Blair's sister-in-law, a left-wing Greek MP and a Holocaust survivor "Hamas sympathizers"? As for the USS Liberty, it was not "shot" in 1967. It was bombarded for more than half an hour. Whether that was an "error" is still debatable. Most USS Liberty survivors maintain that this was a deliberate attack." (thanks Gottfriend)
"Today, the United States ranks 22nd among the 30 developed nations in its proportion of female federal lawmakers. The proportion of female state legislators has been stuck in the low 20 percent range for 15 years; women’s share of state elective executive offices has fallen consistently since 2000, and is now under 25 percent. The American political pipeline is 86 percent male. Women’s real annual earnings have fallen for the last four years. Progress in narrowing the wage gap between men and women has slowed considerably since 1990, yet last year the Supreme Court established onerous restrictions on women’s ability to sue for pay discrimination. The salaries of women in managerial positions are on average lower today than in 1983. Women’s numbers are stalled or falling in fields ranging from executive management to journalism, from computer science to the directing of major motion pictures. The 20 top occupations of women last year were the same as half a century ago: secretary, nurse, grade school teacher, sales clerk, maid, hairdresser, cook and so on. And just as Congress cut funds in 1929 for maternity education, it recently slashed child support enforcement by 20 percent, a decision expected to leave billions of dollars owed to mothers and their children uncollected."
""When I'm elected mayor, I would die before allowing the pride parade to be held in Jerusalem," he said Monday during a conference held by the Bikur Holim hospital owned by him."
"Ultra-Orthodox Jews rioted in Jerusalem on Monday in protest of the recent arrest of Shmuel Weisfish, a member of the haredi community's chastity squad who was allegedly involved in the torching of a store selling MP4 players in violation of a ruling of the Orthodox Court of Justice."
"An educational radio station in the West Bank city of Ramallah claimed on Monday that a Palestinian Authority (PA) decision to shut down the station was arbitrary and groundless."
"Every now and then, the rumor arises that I have a Palestinian wife. Some of my kin were highly amused by a debate on that subject that was being conducted by letters to the editor in their local paper recently. Apparently, it does not occur to anyone simply to ask me. As a matter of fact, I don't have a wife. I'm a widower, and the one wife I had was a sweet Midwestern girl of Methodist, German and Swedish extraction. I don't have a Palestinian mistress or girlfriend. I don't even have a Palestinian bowling pal." (thanks Olivia)
"A Saudi religious court has convicted a Lebanese man of claiming to be a prophet and sentenced him to four years imprisonment."
Lebanon's motto should be: if you can't win awards, just make them up. Lebanese are desperate for awards and recognition. This is from the Daily (neo-conservative) Star in Beirut: "Artist wins gold medal for Lebanon in Bejjing Olympic Games: A painting by Lebanese artist Lina Kilikian won the gold medal at an international exhibition of art in China preceding and accompanying the 2008 Olympic Games opening on Friday in Beijing." (thanks ls)
"The United States says Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threaten any peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- yet it also encourages Americans to help support settlers by offering tax breaks on donations...But a review by Reuters of U.S. tax records found 13 tax-exempt organisations openly linked to settlements that have raised more than $35 million in the last five years alone." (thanks Badis)
"This is not the first case of Israeli women being recruited to work as prostitutes overseas. In May 2007, police arrested a similar ring that had advertised overseas jobs for "pretty young women"; those women were promised high-paying jobs in Ireland, and only when they arrived did they discover that they were slated to work as prostitutes." (thanks Seham)
""The peace process is not, and should not be, affected by any kind of settlement activities," Livni said." (thanks Emily)
I am flying to San Diego today, and returning tomorrow night. I am not sure what I will be doing there exactly, but I think I will be taping some clips for Youtube use. I shall let you know once I know more.
"Mr. Khalilzad had spoken by telephone with Mr. Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, several times a week for the past month until he was confronted about the unauthorized contacts, a senior United States official said. Other officials said Mr. Khalilzad had planned to meet with Mr. Zardari privately next Tuesday while on vacation in Dubai, in a session that was canceled only after Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, learned from Mr. Zardari himself that the ambassador was providing “advice and help.”" That Zardari's family had helped themselves to the Pakistani national treasury has nothing to do with this, of course. (thanks Nabeel)
If you want to learn about the Middle East, you need to follow the American Zionist press. For example, I did not know that Hamas is a Shi`ite group, until I read this in the New York Sun. "Also yesterday, several Palestinian Arab fishing boats sailed beyond the six-mile fishing limit that Israel's navy has maintained along the Gaza coast since Hamas, a Shiite group linked with Iran and Syria, took control of the territory in 2006." (Notice that in the other article cited, they referred to peace activists, including a Holocaust surviver, as Hamas sympathizers). (thanks David)
"Peace Now reports an increase of 550 percent in the number of tenders for construction in the settlements: 417 housing units compared to just 65 in 2007; 125 new buildings at outposts, including 30 permanent structures."
Finally. Human Rights Watch has noticed. Finally. A press release on Lebanon that has nothing to do with the health and plight of right-wing lawyer Muhammad Al-Mughrabi who received an award from HRW (perhaps because he had supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon back in 1982). "The high death toll of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, from unnatural causes, shows the urgent need to improve their working conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the official steering committee tasked with improving the situation of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon to investigate the root causes of these deaths and develop a concrete national strategy to reduce them. Since January 2007, at least 95 migrant domestic workers have died in Lebanon. Of these 95 deaths, 40 are classified by the embassies of the migrants as suicide, while 24 others were caused by workers falling from high buildings, often while trying to escape their employers. By contrast, only 14 domestic workers died because of diseases or health issues." (thanks Nadim and Carhbel)
Comrade Khalid on the vulgar sexism of the French foreign minister (or the clown as he had called him). (thanks Raed)
"Asked about Karzai's concerns about civilian deaths and injuries, Fratto said an investigation was under way. He said the Defense Department believed "it was a good strike." He had no details on the number of dead civilians."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew: How the Conservative Rule has an important section about Jonas Savimbi. It is an extremely important story with lessons about the history of U.S. foreign policy (in Democratic and Republican administration). A war criminal by any measure, and a tool of apartheid South Africa, was selected by the U.S. government as a lynchpin of the American Cold War policies. Africa still suffers from the crimes of Savimbi and those who sponsored him.
Walid Jumblat (no more the darling of the Zionists in the U.S. since he re-discovered "Arabism and Palestine"--as he keeps saying these days) sent a telegram to Hamid Karzai to protest the U.S. raid that killed Afghan civilians. He even called on the "international community" to protect the civilians.
"...but US coalition spokeswoman Rumi Nielson-Green said on Saturday that five civilians – two women and three children connected to the militants – were among the dead."
"Nearly a third of voters, they found, were less likely to support a Mormon. But some 45 percent were wary of Muslim candidates."
U.S. occupation troops were welcomed--as you all know--with "sweets and flowers" in Iraq--just as Kanan Makiya had predicted. In Georgia, U.S. troops are welcomed with "wine and flowers." "Local children offered the Americans wine and flowers."
""His support for Israel is widely known. Any skepticism that Obama won't support Israel is wrong, because no president can ignore Israel, it's too important. And the best thing for Israel is a strong America.""
When Zionist fanatics can't find evidence, they simply make it up as they go along: "Arabic discussions of Obama sometimes mention his middle name as a code, with no further comment needed." Now which Arabic discussions, and who are these Arabs, we are left clueless. Of course, the intention is to discredit him in American eyes by inventing "scary" stuff. In fact, the one article he mentions here refers to a history of past Arab disappointments in U.S. presidential elections, and does not relate at all to the reference to "code" mention.
So Sen. Biden. Tell me: how do you feel about Israel? (thanks Bilal)
Today, I woke up and just as I was about to throw a shoe at myself, I remembered that it is offensive in Arab culture.
" “He’s certainly center-left but he has a pretty conservative social message,” said Theda Sckopol, a government professor at Harvard."
"Cindy McCain says that “In Arizona, the only way to get around the state is by small private plane.”"
"Investigation conducted by Israeli Bar finds prison wardens regularly subject inmates to inhumane conditions including unleashing of dogs, debasement. Prisoners also complain of delay in medical treatment to point of death." (thanks Sellam)
"Former State Rep. Irving Slosberg is embarking on a new career as producer and star of The Slosberg Report, a news and entertainment feature program from and about Israel for the Boca Raton resident's fellow South Floridians." (thanks Toufic)
Dining with Leo (thanks WA)
"The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the pastor who married Jenna Bush and who is part of a new Christian-based political action committee supporting Obama, recently criticized the joke McCain made at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally encouraging Cindy to enter the topless Miss Buffalo Chip contest. The McCain spokesman Brian Rogers brought out the bottomless excuse, responding with asperity that McCain’s character had been “tested and forged in ways few can fathom.” When the Obama crowd was miffed to learn that McCain was in a motorcade rather than in a “cone of silence” while Obama was being questioned by Rick Warren, Nicolle Wallace of the McCain camp retorted, “The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous.” When Obama chaffed McCain for forgetting how many houses he owns, Rogers huffed, “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.” As Sam Stein notes in The Huffington Post: “The senator has even brought his military record into discussion of his music tastes. Explaining that his favorite song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba, he offered that his knowledge of music ‘stopped evolving when his plane intercepted a surface-to-air missile.’ ‘Dancing Queen,’ however, was produced in 1975, eight years after McCain’s plane was shot down.”" (thanks Nabeel)
"However, the impression that Israel had helped bolster the Georgian military was one the Israeli Foreign Ministry was anxious to avoid. Last Saturday it reportedly recommended a freeze on the further supply of equipment and expertise to Georgia by Israeli defense contractors. (Israel doesn't supply foreign militaries directly, but its private contractors must get Defense Ministry approval for such deals.) The Israelis decided to refrain from authorizing new defense contracts, although those currently in effect will be fulfilled. Israel stressed that the contracts are to provide equipment for defensive purposes. But if the Israelis were looking to downplay the significance of military ties, they weren't helped by comments like Yakobashvili's — or by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's enthusing at a press conference earlier this week that "the Israeli weapons have been very effective."" (thanks Nizar)
The Bush Doctrine: resurgence of the Taliban.
"A 29-year-old man affiliated with Jerusalem's haredi "modesty squad" has been indicted in a Jerusalem court for allegedly assaulting a 31-year-old woman in her apartment, together with six other men, after they suspected she had carried out "improper" relations with other men, court documents released Sunday show." (thanks Olivia)
Former Bin Ladenite (and present-day Wahhabi "liberal), former press secretary of Prince Turki in Washington, DC, complaints about Biden and his criticisms of Madrasssaaaaaahhhs. The Saudi media are officially endorsing McCain.
You need to read this by comrade Khalid about the true nature of Saudi policy in Lebanon.
A Nepalese domestic servant was found dead (from hanging) in the house of her employer outside of Beirut.
Lebanese obsession with ranking. According to Lebanese media, some monthly Lebanese magazine (that you and I have never heard of) won the title of "the best magazine in the continent of Asia"--the National Inquirer won the title for the Americas.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

He robbed a Bangladeshi woman in Lebanon but was freed after two months.
Dina sent me this on Facebook: "Hassan Fattah and the National belong to the polygamous ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the Al Nahyans, not to the Al Maktoums of Dubai." A polygamous royal family here and a polygamous royal family there. We are not going to quibble.
Hassan Fattah and the journalism of Dubai's (polygamous) ruling family. This is an actual headline: "US warship brings aid to Georgia"
"It is not an unusual decision. Out of the more than 151,000 families who had fled their houses in Baghdad, just 7,112 had returned to them by mid-July, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Migration. Many of the displaced remain in Baghdad, just in different areas. In one neighborhood alone, Amiriya, in western Baghdad, there are 8,350 displaced families, more than the total number of families who have returned to their houses in all of Baghdad."
The puppet is not pleased. "President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned on Saturday a coalition airstrike that he said killed up to 95 Afghans — including 50 children — in a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, and said his government would be announcing measures to prevent the loss of civilian life in the future."
If you read this review in the New York Times you will understand why I plug the Economist at every corner: "It would have been nice, for instance, had Pollack himself thought harder before arguing, in scholarly papers and his widely read 2002 book, “The Threatening Storm,” that America had “no choice” but to invade Iraq....America gets off rather lightly in gen­eral, in Pollack’s account, compared with the sad Arabs whom we must help to be like us. We are told, for instance, that the United States only grudgingly became involved in the grisly Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s when it nobly undertook to reflag oil tankers in order to protect the flow of oil. No mention here of Donald Rumsfeld’s back-slapping with Saddam Hussein or the supply of satellite intelligence to him or the exchange of American weapons to Iran for hostages — all of which helped prolong the slaughter. Pollack seems oddly unaware of history’s motivating forces. To assert that “what triggers revolutions, civil wars and other internal unrest is psychological factors, particularly feelings of extreme despair,” is plain silly. The Boston Tea Party could not have been prevented by Prozac. Similarly, he ascribes feelings to broad categories of Middle Easterners, devoid of any context or explanation. They are “angry populations” who suffer “inchoate frustration” and “a pathological hatred of the status quo.” We repeatedly hear of “Arab rage at Israel” and “Arab venom for Israel.” Nowhere is there a hint that such attitudes might bear some relation to the plight of the Palestinians , the agony of military defeat or the humiliation of life under Israeli occupation. In fact, the book’s most salient distortions stem from Pollack’s protectiveness toward Israel. He makes some absurdly cockeyed assertions, like, “America’s support for Israel over the years has even been a critical element in winning and securing Arab allies.” He offers misleading false alternatives, declaring, for instance, that there is “absolutely no reason to believe that ending American support for Israel would somehow eliminate” the risk of Islamist zealots taking power and cutting oil exports. How about making aid to Israel, and not just to Arabs, conditional, or aiming at mitigating, rather than eliminating, such risks? Pollack makes a peculiarly acrobatic effort to prove that hostility to Israel is not a prime motivating factor behind militant jihadism, repeating this assertion no fewer than four times in two paragraphs." (thanks James)
Somebody is going to lose his job over this. Al-Ahram (the official Mubarak daily in Egypt) came out with this festive headline about the resignation of Musharraf: "Pakistani president resigns and asks citizens for forgiveness: Thousands dance in the streets in joy of the resignation...and stocks rise 4%"."
"Also travelling with the party is left-wing Greek MP Tasos Kourakis. "This is an effort to break the wall of silence surrounding Gaza ... the EU and international community pretend they don't know what's happening in Gaza ... children are starving there," he told AFP. However, 84-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein was unable to make the trip due to medical reason but stood at Larnaca dock to bid her colleagues farewell. "I'm very sad I can't make it," said Epstein." (thanks Olivia)
Chris sent me this: "The NewsJournal's (the local newspaper in Biden's area) Aug 21 result of it's online poll, asking:
Do you think Joe Biden would make a good vice president?
Yes 49.9 %
No 50.1 %"
Justifying Bigotry in the New York Times. It is amazing how Sep. 11 released all those racists and bigots from the pro-Israeli camp into the open. Here, the public editor of the New York Times--no less--provides justification for the bigotry of Gabriel. Can you imagine if he were to do that for an anti-Semite or an anti-black racist? "It’s not hard to see how Gabriel’s experiences might have shaped her views."
"''It's a fabulous choice for the campaign as far as the pro-Israel community is concerned,'' said Adler..." (thanks Toufic)
"Yet the Arabs have a persistent, ever regenerating Arab quirk that, in spite of an unbroken stream of disappointments at the hands of American presidents, whenever an election year comes up they inevitably fall prey to the illusion that it holds promise for the Palestinian cause. Ever since some conspiracy theorists put it about that "the Jews" killed Kennedy because he wanted to solve the Palestinian cause, the same mentality or naïve pattern of behaviour would repeat itself, even in the Arab press. So, from one election to the next we find the Arabs pinning their hopes on this candidate or that, following his fortunes in the campaigns and, come election day, sitting on the edges of their seats in anticipation of the results." (thanks Marcy)
"We want to tell the world that the Europeans are against the siege of Gaza as children die of the shortage of food and medicine. Our message to the Israelis is we do not support them and more than that, we oppose them and we will fight against their policy of besieging Gaza." (thanks David)
"A court in Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing to hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl who has been married off to a man in his 50s." (thanks Tamir)
A court in Dubai convicts two Asian worker of offering to bribe an official. You see courts in Dubai rule that small bribes are illegal: only large hefty bribes are acceptable. (thanks Haytham)
Hassan Fattah (on behalf of Dubai's ruling (polygamous) dynasty) categorically rejects the one secular state in Palestine. He argues that 22% of Palestine is large enough for all Palestinians.
"Chomsky stressed that, in light of how radical and war-loving McCain is, even he viewed it as essential that Obama win..." (thanks Maria)

Shoes and Arab culture: "Palmer, from Oakham, Leics, was accused of racial abuse to an officer and waving a shoe in his face — a insult to Arabs." (thanks anonymous)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You should all ask yourself this question: have you sweetened my mouth? "“Have you sweetened Abu Khalil’s mouth?” he asked us, using a derogatory nickname for soldiers under Saddam."
Saudi ambassador in Lebanon visited Tripoli to intensify sectarian agitation in the city. Here, Ibrahim Al-Amin discusses Saudi Salafite policies in Lebanon.
I don't dance, and I have never danced in my entire life. But for Palestine and the Palestinians, anything and everything. Palestinian kids dance in front of Israeli occupation soldiers. (AP)
This U.S. presidential election will be decided on gasoline prices.
Comrade Khalid's on Hariri Salafism.
The talented Layal Haddad on LBC-TV's promotion of Lahd's collaborators.
"Yet the party's just beginning. The candidates' own lavish conventions and invitation-only events may be the ultimate display of the corporate coziness they say they're against, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports. To prohibit unfair influence, it's illegal for corporations to give directly to politicians, campaigns or political parties. But under a giant loophole, corporations can give unlimited money to the political conventions. And the politicians expect it. Corporations donate to so-called convention "host committees" that are supposed to be bipartisan and separate from the campaign. In reality, they're run by party leaders who produce brochures selling political access. Corporate clout at the conventions is now so institutionalized and blatant; it's a $100 million business."
"The 84-year-old billionaire, who visited Israel earlier this month, says that for the last seven years, since meeting Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Saud - who has since been crowned king - he has not known peace."
"Problème : BHL n’est jamais « arrivé à Gori », et les Russes n’ont pas « brûlé » la ville." (thanks Rakia)
""Someone telling me to explode?" Umm Omar says. "I have to be both mother and father to my children. Why would I blow myself up?" Strangely, she even laughs at some points of the interrogation. Umm Omar was detained along with her two daughters in a recent raid in Baquba." (thanks Olivia)
Notice that you don't read a word about this in either U.S. media or Saudi Wahhabi media. Al-Jazeera correspondent in Abu Mazen-Dahlan jail. (thanks Osama)
"US-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan yesterday, most of them children, the country's Interior Ministry said." (thanks Arun)
Yesterday, Al-Arabiya TV interviewed the deputy director of U.S. propaganda office in Dubai (the woman looked familiar. Was she a student of mine?). The interview was about the U.S. eternal occupation treaty. She was struggling to explain U.S. opposition to "timetables", and suddenly the anchor interrupted to explain to her and to viewers that the U.S. does not want timetables because they can be misused by "terrorists."
Biden on Israel (thanks Electronic Ali)
"But for Sudanese Arabs and Africans coexisting peacefully outside Darfur, these racial distinctions are not so clear. Adam, for example, believes he has some Arab blood."
"A woman was ordered to serve three days in jail after a judge found her in contempt of court for inappropriate dress. Kirstie Arnold, 28, of Lancaster, Kentucky, was sent to the Boyle county jail after wearing short shorts during a court appearance on Monday before Garrard District Judge Janet Booth." (thanks Rania)
"Adel Darwish* of the pro-Israeli lobby group Just Journalism says (Letters, August 8) that "a collection of western academics and journalists have busied themselves with the task of 'informing' everyone of the 'falsity' of the claim" that Iran's president threatened to attack and destroy Israel. This is a funny way of saying that people who actually speak Farsi have offered a correct translation of Ahmadinejad's words. Darwish neglects to mention that as soon as the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's words began to circulate, Ayatollah Khamenei (who has ultimate authority in Iran) stated unequivocally that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country". Darwish also refrains from explaining why we should believe that a regime which has done everything to preserve itself over the past three decades should suddenly commit collective suicide by attacking Israel. All in all, it's quite a story.
David Wearing
*Darwish is the writer and commentator in Saudi propaganda media. (thanks Mohamed)
Another Democratic Defeat. The choice of Biden as VP is dumb. But then again: Democrats are most skillful in losing election. They are not even smart enough to realize maybe if you pick a politician from a Republican or on-the-edge state and who can carry, you enhance your chances. But Obama picks somebody from...Delaware. How many electoral votes does Delaware have? Whopping three. That would make for a victory, I am sure. Biden is the man who thinks he is a foreign policy expert because he wants to divide Iraq into three mini-states. Oh, yeah? How would he like it if an Arab proposes to divide his precious Delaware into three mini-states? Also, he is like other Senators: a predictable Zionist fanatic. A colleague of mine was once invited to testify before his committee. Biden asked him to join him for lunch afterwards. I asked the colleague if Biden sounded different on Israel in private. He said: no. He was as bad in private as he sound in public. Obama is doing everything possible to get...McCain elected as president.
A friend in the Ukraine sent me this:
"First, Russia is becoming almost fascist, it is not even funny. The pronouncements their officials make about Ukraine and Georgia that I hear on direct TV are really bad - cocky, arrogant, intolerant, and self-confident. It is amazing (very similar to the U.S. when it comes to the M.E.). There is so much anti-Ukrainian propaganda in Russia, not even funny. Some of my relativies live in Russia and the media they consume is all anti-Ukrainian. We can tell with mom as we call - they say all kinds of disgusting things about Caucusus and Ukrain, and use racial slures and militaristic statements (and they always say: "we've watched on TV here that...". But I don't blame them if this is the kind of media they get, no? It is just scary, Russia is getting more and more nationalistic in the dangerous sense. I wish I could express this: but it is more evident as I hear Russian officials speak in Russian - I know what it means their tone and the words they choose to use. Second, Ukrainian government is fucked up. A bunch of idiots just as before. They think that Europe and U.S. care about some Ukraine, Georgia, or Ossetia, or Abhaziya. Idiots. Or maybe they know, they just feed people with false info. Coverage of the "crisis" here is more or less "balanced". Some report Russia's atrocities. Some report that Ukraine was selling weapons to Georgia and supporting Georgia. Also I have watched a couple of interviews from Ossetya and Abhaziya. But I would say that it is more favorable to Georgia still.. Apperantly, Ukr. president and Georgian president are in godmother/gotfather relationship for their kids. Also, Timoshenko (Ulia, the queen of Orange REvolution, remember?) has said absolutely nothing ever since the crisis: the rumor she has been promised a lot of funds from Russia next year in presidential elections, so she keep low. You are right about falty depictions of Georgia's "democracy". They all forgot that this winter there were a sort of Revolution of Roses II against the current Georgian president and he tried to suppress opposition. As'ad, it is typical politics, big stakes, misrepresentation, little countries, big countries, typical bullshit. I am sick and tired of the coverage everywhere, U.S., Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, everywhere. Media makes me sick more and more - it is just not helping in understanding problems, it is a bad source of info, even if many media outlets kind of go with the flow, not intentionally misrepresent, but it is all rotten, that is the info they give us. WE will never know the truth. Third, Russia and Ukraine share the black sea, and Russia puts its ships in Ukrainian ports in the Crimea. After the "crisis" Ukraine asked for ships to fill out customs cards as Russian ships enter Ukrainian ports. Russian foreign affairs minister made a sarcastic statement like "what the f..", like, "what, Ukraine lost all the fear? they tell us what to do? that has to be corrected.." I could not believe my ears when I heard how confidently he could do it. You know, there is no hint of diplomacy in Russian foreign policy at all, so cocky, not even funny. It is different from U.S. You know, U.S. always masks everyhthing in the rosy story about democracy, rights, freedom, good, evil, all that bullshit. Russia's foreign policy is just like "we fuck the whole world. screw you. we do what we want. and we will tell you what to do." : ) In terms of NATO: people really do not think about it much (on the mass level) here in Ukraine. People are angry with all the attention and aid and $$$ Ukr sends to Georgia because we had big ass floods in Western Ukraine were whole towns are without houses right now and they send aid to Georgia. Stupid idiots. We have super inflation and the dollar exchange rate is really high - this is what people think about, not about NATO or Georgia. But the "Rus-Georgia crisis" is a good pretext for politicians to politely brush aside the real problems. It's like in spring when we had a typical dollar exchange rate crisis and people were loosing a lot of money, the president Yuschenko and all the others suddenly started talking about Ukr. famine of 1930s and making it a big deal, national holiday, historical studies, and bullshit like that on all the channels. Yeah, that politicians can do - change the subject, right? Finally, I am very uncertain about Russia. But I simply do not trust U.S. and NATO, you are kidding me, Ukraine is a puppet, it is a friend today, a foe yesterday. None of this can be trusted, As'ad, why do some people trust this "alliance" bullshit? You know, I was watching a biographical program about ex-president Leonid Kuchma, and he was talking about his foreign policy in 2001-2. Apparently, in 2001 Ukraine was accused of delivering big ass warhead or some tubes for weapons to Iraq, so in an interview Kuchma was saying how he was unofficially banned from all international summits after the accusations by the U.S. (who else has influence, right?) Anyways, then accusations cleared out: they figured that Iraq was basically surrounded 24/7 by U.S. planes prior to 2001 war and no way anyone could deliver any containers to Iraq with massive tubes or warheads under the U.S.'s nose. But this is the point, today Ukraine is a friend of U.S., tomorrow not. I want to scream so bad not to have people believe any of this bullshit about U.S. making the "little beautiful " Ukraine the point of its presidential campaign and a headline. Oh, do they also say there in the U.S. that Ukraine is a great democracy?"

The New York Times said this about the picture above: "Abu Zachariyah, a former Sunni insurgent now friendly with the American military." But it did remind me of another man (seen on top). Who is imitating whom here?

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Even if the goal of withdrawing combat troops by 2011 is realized, the accord does leave open the possibility that American military trainers and support forces could remain in Iraq after that time. It is unclear whether the accord provides for semipermanent military bases in the country, and what role the United States would play in providing air and naval support for Iraq."
My article in Al-Akhbar: "Olympics of Sectarian Agitation in [Lebanese] Parliament"
Saudi-Israeli conspiracy? What Saudi-Israeli conspiracy? This Zionist crusader is a columnist for Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiece of Prince Salman) and commentator for Al-Arabiyya TV (mouthpiece of King Fahd's brother-in-law): "UK group tackles anti-Israel media bias: A new organization seeking to promote accurate and responsible media coverage of Israel in the UK is to be launched in London on Friday. By holding journalists accountable to the principles created by the industry, Just Journalism says it is aiming to promote responsible journalism and fairness in reporting on Israel. Founded by a group of young professionals with backgrounds in the media, law, public relations and academia who are concerned with the influence of the media and their lack of accountability, the new organization will analyze and monitor press and broadcast coverage of Israel to ensure it adheres to core journalistic principles. Just Journalism is an independent organization funded by private individuals and led by Egyptian-born journalist and Middle East commentator Adel Darwish. "We are aware of the huge impact the media have on public opinion and policy making, as well as the consequences of some of the media reporting of Israel," Darwish told The Jerusalem Post. "Just Journalism aims to increase awareness of the fundamental journalistic principles underlying the media's responsibility to society."" (thanks Muhamed)
Ethan Bronner, deputy foreign editor of the New York Times [now he is Jerusalem bureau chief], responded to my critique of his obituary of Mahmud Darwish (I cite with his permission and my response is below):
"Dear Mr. AbuKhalil,
Several people sent me your irritated comments on my Darwish obit. I understand that attacking The Times and by extension what I write is part of the point of your blog. And not all your objections struck me as wrong. But you were awfully harsh. And just so you know for your future attacks, it is not true that I know no Arabic. My Arabic is far from deep or brilliant but I did study it for several years first under Moin Halloun in Jerusalem (vernacular) and then under Nader Uthman in NY (standard). As deputy foreign editor of The Times, I created an Arabic class under Nader at the paper that is still going on. I also pushed very hard for the paper to recruit Arabic speakers and train correspondents assigned to this region in Arabic. In the years that I was pushing for it (and I was hardly solely responsible for it but I definitely played a role), the paper hired Hassan Fattah, Jad Mouawad and Kareem Fahim. In addition, due partly to my pushing, Robert Worth, who has been our Beirut correspondent since the winter, took a year off to study Arabic full time at the paper’s expense. It was the first time in the paper’s history that it did this with Arabic (historically, it has only done that with Russian and Chinese). This occurred at a time, of course, when there has been a great effort to spare expenses.
As to the specifics of your complaints: what is with the shoes in the face? I feel fine with saying that Darwish looked and dressed European. Your finding it offensive seems to me overly sensitive. I would agree that saying Darwish “left” Palestine doesn’t portray the situation in 1948. But I can’t believe anyone has any doubts about who razed his village and that struck me as a fairly weird reason to complain. The language of the street is the language I hear every day in Palestine and it differs markedly from the language Darwish employed in his poetry. Why did that distinction offend you? Was it the word street? In reporting the obit, I spoke with several Arabic scholars about his poetic language as well as with two of the three Palestinians who work for The Times here – Khaled Abu Akr and Taghreed el-Khodary. Both love his work. So I tried hard to get a sense of his poetics from those who care deeply about it. Finally, I agree that I should have noted that Darwish broke with Arafat over Oslo. I was already beyond our agreed length for the story and I worried that I would have to explain Oslo and his objections. But also, I had gained the sense that his disillusionment with Arafat and politics were much deeper than just Oslo, which was the last straw.

Ethan Bronner"

My emailed response:

I read your message with interest. You are right: I am highly critical of the Times and find its coverage of the Middle East consistently lacking, politically biased, and often factually incorrect. The obituary is one element in a larger problem, and I did find that it did not do justice to the place of poetry (in general) and to the place of Darwish in Arab popular and elite culture. But the celebration of Darwish in the Arab world, as one Arab eulogist pointed out, was--and is--a celebration of Palestine first and foremost, and that was missing from your obituary. Now on Arabic: Mr. Bronner: you really don't know Arabic, in that you can't read Darwish's poetry, and my sources tell me that you can't read newspapers and that you don't conduct interviews in Arabic. Studying Arabic is one thing: knowing Arabic is another. Over the years, I have studied Persian, German, and Hebrew but they are not on the same level of my knowledge of Arabic, English and French. I am sure that you know what I mean here. I wish Robert Worth the best in his language endeavor but let me break it to you: he will not know Arabic after one year of study. You may talk to the instructors at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey about that.
As for what you wrote on his appearance: yes, that was the most bizarre part. I don't know why it struck you that he dressed like that: have you met Arab intellectuals in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan? They all dress in blazers and many wear fashionable glasses too. Did you expect an Arab intellectual to don a turban? Darwish's appearance is not odd by Arab standards at all. I don't know one Arab intellectual who dresses in garb: and Gulf intellectuals also dress like him when they are outside of their countries. On shoes: it is an inside joke that I have with my readers. I have noted that foreign US correspondents are at pains to draw sharp distinctions between Arab culture and other world cultures, and many of them seem to relish mentioning that throwing shoes at people is "considered offensive in Arab culture" as if it is not in other cultures. The exaggeration of the distinctions of Arab culture seems to characterize Western media coverage of the region. Yes, the word street is particularly irksome to me: because instead of public opinion people in the West still prefer to refer to "the Arab street" in order to underline some atavistic motives to the people. Also, the street Arabic (language wise) is higly appreciative of Darwish's poetry: he was, and is, understood by an average person on any street, hence his wide popularity."