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Showing posts from December, 2015
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Iraq Odyssey by Samir (In English from minute 01:30) In  99 Homes , Iranian-American writer-director Ramin Bahrani ( Man Push Cart, 2005;  Chop Shop , 2007;  Goodbye Solo , 2008) has created a compelling work that puts flesh and blood on the foreclosure epidemic. 3000 Nights
The Christmas that was not. "The Social Conscienc e of the Saint John’s Bible II— On Syrian Refugees and the Reversals of Christmas"
Middle East Goes Monty Python on ISIS
Noam Chomsky was Right about Porn
Crimes at home and abroad For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" stinks — and here's why Also, What Makes Hollywood Run? (a free book) Filming the Middle East (an interview)
Benedict Anderson (1936-2015)
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The Astounding Eyes of Rita أم الزين الجمّالية
Remembering Fatema Mernissi
The Novelist Salwa Bakr
Wars Past and Wars to Come
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Petrodollars and Profit: Rethinking Political Economy through the Middle East "What if oil prices are not received, but made? What if cartels raise prices by constricting supply, and use war, legal chicanery, and international property deeds to do so? Such questions led Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, two political economists, to examine the production, distribution, and political structure of the oil business. They derived from these patterns a theory of prices and power distinct from orthodox and heterodox worldviews alike. They see prices as the result of social processes, “a symbolic quantification of power.” One of them is sabotage, or the strategic disruption of production. Power, then, is the ability to create and order the world to ensure just the right mix of sabotage and supply in order to ensure profit rates beat out those of your competitors. It is this novel, fascinating, brash, and contested theory of capitalism which they lay out in a new book,  The Scien
The Hijackers Read also Macmillan Backed Syria Assassination Plot
Pictures Expose the Absurdities of Modern Culture
Considering that we are speaking about an event which took place in the "civilized" part of the world, it was in fact  the most babaric event in human history.   WWII in numbers. Madrid officials to change street names marking Franco regime
The New Scramble for Africa Further reading: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime   (a book review) Comment by Salah Nasrawi, Cairo, Egypt " Salah Nasrawi: I have repeatedly raised this question which is underscored in the excellent review that : " Scholars whose research might build on or respond to Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party will have to face the question of whether it is ethical to conduct research using Iraqi documents held by the United States." The archive should be sent back to Iraq and be open to Iraqi researchers, otherwise skepticism and doubts will be always raised about what others write on Iraq's history using an archive never seen by Iraqis.This will be a great deficiency for the US and world academia. عودة الارشيف العراقي من امريكا ضرورة ثقافية وحضارية وانسانية تاريخية اذ كيف يتاح للاجانب الاطلاع على وثائق في غاية الاهمية تخص تاريخ العراق الحديث في حين لا تتاح هذه الفرصة للباحث وللقارئ وللانسان العراقي...لماذا يكون بامكان جوزيف ساسون كتابة تاريخ حزب البعث ولا يستط
"Human Rights" "Since the end of state socialism in Eastern Europe, the revolutions of 1989 have become a central element in the mythology of human rights. Human rights are portrayed as a catalyst, alighting a revolutionary ethos within those living in the Eastern Bloc. By depicting 1989 as the result of a mass moral epiphany regarding universal human rights, such narratives naturalize and depoliticize the collapse of state socialism. While the discourse of human rights was important in unifying dissident groups, it had also been used to by socialist states to legitimize dictatorial rule.  "During the Arab Spring, international commentators and local actors invoked this mythological version of 1989 to declare that a similar awakening was once again taking place and that human rights were sure to triumph over dictatorship. The example of Egypt appeared to mirror that of 1989 with  mass demonstrations for human rights, prompting optimism that a similar revolutio
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" The woman didn't take the ball, it was the invisible hand of the free market that allocated the ball where it can be put to use most efficiently."  — H. B. (the owner of this joke wants to remain anonymous)
Hard Evidence: how biased is the BBC? and How We Ended up Paying Farmers to Flood Our Homes
Forget the UN! Meet the Self-Determining Refugees in Kurdistan (You may need to open a free account to access the document)
Institutional racism “I completely and utterly reject the bad apples argument,” the director told EW . “Chicago just got caught with their pants down in a way that can’t be denied. But I completely and utterly reject the ‘few bad apples’ argument. Yeah, the guy who shot [Laquan McDonald] is a bad apple. But so are the other eight or nine cops that were there that said nothing, did nothing, let a lie stand for an entire year.” “And the chief of police, is he a bad apple?” Tarantino continued. “I think he is. Is [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel a bad apple? I think he is. They’re all bad apples. That just shows that that’s a bulls*** argument. It’s about institutional racism. It’s about institutional cover-ups that are about protecting the force as opposed to the citizens.” Quentin Tarantino
Gone but not Forgotten Golden Horseshoes (a movie, Tunisia 1989)
... Winston Churchill [compares] Palestinians in 1937 to the dog in the manger after reading the Peel Commission which suggested partitioning British mandated Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. Churchill said of the Palestinians in 1937, "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." " I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race." The greatest Briton
This is Hell!  interviews Andreas Malm on his upcoming book, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming: "It pops up everywhere - in science about climate change, fiction about climate change, in the political debate - 'we' in general have caused this, 'we' all must share responsibility and 'we' all must do our part. As though climate change emerged from a society that was completely democratic and egalitarian and where everyone influenced outcomes to the same degree." The interview in full See also Capitalocene
Mary and Joseph Hit the Wall Omar (the movie)
"He was not Algerian, nor an Arab, nor a Muslim by birth. Indeed, he was middle class, received an elite education, and was a French citizen, as cited. Fanon was not  of  the wretched of the earth. Yet he developed a deep sense of solidarity with the Algerian struggle, based on a mutual history of racial discrimination and colonial chauvinism. An outcome of his contingent internationalism, this radical empathy not only had practical effects on his life direction. This solidarity also forcefully disrupted a politics of difference—by race, nation, culture, and class—established by colonialism." Fanon at Ninety
Anti-Imperial Metropolis:  Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism   (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
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Politics Isn't a Fairytale about Good Versus Bad Journalist : M. Ben M'Hidi, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?  Ben M'Hidi : And doesn't it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets. See also
More crimes by state terrorism. Russian this time. "200" Syrian civilians killed. No, they are not French! " All of this infuriates Orabi Hamdan. I met him at a refugee reception centre in Stockholm.  He comes from Deraa, where the first anti-regime demonstrations began, and is waiting to be re-united with his wife who is living in another centre.  He feels he and his family are pawns of the big powers.  "They play and we pay. It is a game. But a bad game and a bloody game. Our children play. You see every day a lot of kids killed without any reasons. You find the kids as pieces without legs, without heads, without arms...why?" The Syrian talks may produce a settlement that allows Orabi to go home.  But the conflict stands as a testament to the failure of the international system. (Source:  the bbc  ) See also What Happened to the "Arab Spring"?
On Social Sadism
The Turkish state terrorism continues See also Turkey's War on the Kutds
A People's History of Churchillian Madness
"While the Right views all Muslims as a problem and as a fifth column in Western nations, the liberal establishment sounds more reasonable in that it differentiates between terrorists and the majority of Muslims. But it nevertheless holds an entire group of people responsible. This is why establishment liberals believe that “moderate Muslims” should “take responsibility” for denouncing the terrorists, that leftists and anti-racists should get over their political correctness, and that everyone should join them in supporting the war on terror and its practices of war, surveillance, indefinite detention, and drone strikes." " None of this is to say, of course, that Trump doesn’t represent a frightening turn in US politics, but rather that we should try to understand the no-less-frightening political dynamic that makes Trump possible, a dynamic that is a product of the political system in its entirety. It bears reiterating that we need to understand this phenomenon in  s
Spain: an essential background " Despite this pointed Northern patronage, the  PSOE  adopted a new programme at its 27th Congress  of December 1976, the first held in Spain since the Civil War, which seemed to define it as the most radical Socialist party in Europe—a ‘class party with a mass character, Marxist and democratic’. Rejecting ‘any path of accommodation to capitalism’, the programme envisaged ‘the taking of political and economic power, the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange by the working class’. Of course such formulations of the final goal had once been the standard, raising no eyebrows among the continental parties of social democracy. But this was now seventeen years after Bad Godesberg had brought programme into line with practice and enshrined a most extensive accommodation to capitalism as the model for European Socialism. The González team, deeply indebted to the  SPD  for material and political aid, had never shown any commi
Unseen Images of the 1953 Coup in Iran See also CIA Admits Role in 1953 Iranian Coup
Turkey's AKP and its record help us understand its present NATO's Islamists (pdf) By the second half of the 1990s, however, it was becoming clear that the Islamist regimes in Iran and Afghanistan were corrupt, inefficient or coercive, while international Islamic banks and credit institutions were plagued by scandal. Faced with state repression, Islamist resistance movements in Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere alienated their supporters by resorting to indiscriminate violence. ‘Actually existing’ Islamist radicalism was becoming broadly discredited. This disillusion with religious militancy in the Muslim world was given powerful impetus by Washington’s change of line. Having been willing to arm the crudest Islamist groups against Communism during the Cold War, and to back such murderous confessional states as General Zia’s Pakistan, the US  had started to distinguish between fundamentalist and ‘moderate’ Islam. The latter referred to religious movements that cooperated with W
Barbarism Advances
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محمود درويش وناجي العلي
This is an interesting study. There is only a resumé/abstract in French and English. The study is in Arabic.  You may need to create a free accound in order to access the study. Salafi-Jihadi Youth in a 'Popular' Tunisian Quarter
Some points from a speech by Gary Younge Labour produced mugs saying it would be tough on immigration; the Tories produced policies. After more than a decade of war and almost a decade of austerity, social democratic parties across the continent and beyond had failed to develop a programme or strategy that could engage with their traditional bases.  They no longer spoke the language of reform but instead containment. Their project, it seemed, was to limit the damage inflicted by international capitalism, not to prevent it less still to reverse it. My guess is that the overwhelming majority who attended that [historical] march [against the war on Iraq] ... voted for the government they were demonstrating against and at least a plurality, including many here, voted for them again. When Lula won the presidency in Brazil on a redistributive manifesto in 2002 the invisible hand of the market tore up his electoral promises and boxed the country around the ears for its reckless choice.
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“MT  [Mother Teresa]  was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of  poverty . She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” — Christopher Hitchens The Squalid Truth Behind the Legacy of Mother Teresa
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هل تعرفون القتل جميعًا ... Syria State Detention Deaths
This is excellent! "Our Wound is Not So Recent"   (pdf) Or "Notre Mal Vient de Plus Loin"
After Syriza's capitulation, in Spain A Year of Change Postponed
It has been 5 years since the start of the Tunisian uprising.  What Happened to "the Arab Spring"? The Irresistible Flow See also Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East A Brief History of ISIS
  This is a very significant vision of the structure of the world: we have a mass of destitute people who make up half of the global population, we have an oligarchy whom I could well call aristocratic, from the point of view of their number. And then we have the middle class, that pillar of democracy, who, representing 40% of the population, must share between them 14% of global resources.  
This middle class is principally concentrated in the so-called advanced countries. So it is largely a Western class. It is the mass support for local democratic power, parliamentary power. I think that we can say, without wanting to insult its existence— since we’re all more or less a part of it, aren’t we?—that a very important aim of this group, which, even so, only has access to quite a small part of global resources, just 14%, is not to fall back into, not to be identified with, the immense mass of the destitute. Which we can well understand. 
 This is why this class, taken as a whole, is
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أسطورة الشعب الكسول Hussein, 14 years old, works in aluminium pots industry workshop at Al Gamaliya, Cairo, Egypt. He takes a salary that varies between 15 to 25 EGP per day.  The minimum wage of a worker in the public sector is 1,200 Egyptian pounds ( $170 ) a month. حسين, ١٤ سنة, يعمل في ورشة لصناعة الاواني الالومنيوم بالجمالية. مصر. يتقاضى حسين اجر يومي يترواح ما بين 15 الى 25 جنيه. Photo by @mostafa_bassim 
تونس "دعم المؤسسة الأمنية" هكذا يهتف السياسيون والمثقفون من أقصى اليمين إلى أقصى اليسار، من الأشد تزمتا إلى الأكثر حداثة وليبرالية، من راشد الغنوشي إلى حمة الهمامي، ومن إمام المسجد إلى أكاديمي الجامعة، ومن أنصار الأحزاب الحاكمة الى أنصار الأحزاب المعارضة الأكثرها راديكالية.... جوقة يومية تطالب بتزويد البوليس بالسلاح والأجهزة المتطورة وإحياء مؤسسة المخابرات وإعادة الكوادر القديمة وانتداب المزيد من الأعوان و"تحسين ظروف الأمنيين"....الخ، بل إنهم يلومون الحكومة على تساهلها هنا، وعدم ا لضرب بيد من حديد هناك، وبقدر الصخب والضجيج الذي أثارته بعض قوانين ميزانية 2016 فيما يتعلق ببعض التفاصيل الجبائية فإن رصد أكثر من 10 بالمائة من هذه الميزانية لحساب وزارتي الداخلية والدفاع لم يلق سوى الترحيب من جميع الكتل النيابية في ما يسمى مجلس نواب الشعب... وبما أن "الخطر الإرهابي"، وفق الخبراء والمحللين وكل مرتزقة صناعة الرأي العام، سيمتد لسنوات طويلة، فإن "المجهود الوطني" لتعزيز "المؤسسة الأمنية" و"تطوير أدائها" وتمكينها من كل الوسائل ا
Is there really any difference between a terrorist and an ordinary criminal? and a good comment by Ed Lytwak: " The real question: Is there any moral difference between individual terrorism and State Terrorism?  P.S. apart from the fact that State terrorism is systemic and practiced on a much larger scale."
A Special Relationship See also Henry Kissinger's " Grand Strategies" CIA Roots of Islamic Fundamentalism Birds of Feather  ...
Today, the so-called liberal paper The Guardian removed a comment of mine. I lost the original text, but it was in this vein: I am lonely in London. I tried to integrate for a few years: I conformed and conceded. In the last few years and after seeing the crimes of the state of this country at home and abroad, the plunder of the wealth, the exploitation, the hypocrisy, the vacuousness of the so-called freedom and democracy, the wars, the indifference and complicity of the silent majority and their individualism and self-centrism, the mediocrity and sameness, etc. I have become more radicalised and more extremist, unbearable to people because of my radical views, and I now refuse to integrate in such a society.
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A shopkeeper reading a newspaper, Cairo 14 December 2015 A photograph by Everyday Egypt
Unworthy Victims
A Spatial History of a Main Baghdadi Street
Fortress Europe Staunch Defender on the Left It is not a Refugee Crisis
Human Development Read also The Lucky Generation
Sameeh Alqa'sim and the Language of Revolution
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Reading while riding A photo by Everyday Egypt
" There is no document of  civilization which  is not at the same time a document of barbarism." Walter Benjamin "لا توجد وثيقة للحضارة ليست في نفس الوقت وثيقة للبربرية" ولتر بنجامين
Poetry of Resistance in Occupied Palestine
Benedict Anderson (1936-2015) In a Pomegranate Chandelier Man Without a Country
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"...  I think there's a serious misunderstanding... on the role Trump is playing. Trump is not the cause of anti-Muslim bigotry in the US: he is a symptom of it. We're now 14 years into a war that the United States has waged on Muslims, in which all of the extraordinary steps that the state has taken - Guantanamo Bay, torture, black sites, omnipresent electronic surveillance, endless war, unlimited drone assassination anywhere on the planet - are acceptable precisely because the victims of these measures have been racialized. "The innocent have nothing to fear" is code for "look, we're going after Muslims, everyone knows we're going after Muslims, you're white, you have nothing to worry about." And a decade and a half of a bipartisan project to criminalize Muslims - embraced by every mainstream candidate in the United States from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders - has been an American mainstream which is suspicious of Islam at best and violen
Turkey's Time Has Come (A free subscription is required to read this interesting analysis ) Read also Whose Side is Turkey on?
Clash of Barbarisms " The process of civilization is described as a historical process of pacification of human relations, overcoming aggressivness and the rule of law. And what we are seeing in this kind of clash is not, therefore, a clash of civilizations or features of civilizations clashing, but a clash of those kinds of barbaric potentials that every civilization include, whether Islamic or Western. These are barbarian forms which are potentially included in every kind of civilization and which can take over in periods of crisis or some specific historical periods. "  Gilbert Achcar, 2003 Achcar said in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris: "The Western intervention, the Western action in the Middle East, has been creating the ground for all this. This is what I called previously the clash of barbarisms, with a major barbarism represented by Western intervention."  A page from the "Western" book of barbarism
Maxime Rodinson on Islamic "Fundamentalism"
A mild, defensive article by Stop the War Coalition
On Naguib Mahfouz "No corner of Egyptian life was foreign to him: his characters are pharaohs and whores, shopkeepers and bureaucrats, peasants and presidents. Part of Mahfouz’s achievement is its sheer extent, its superabundant precision, a kind of indigenous update of the Encyclopedists’  Description de l’Egypt . It is the size of his ambitions that make it so natural to compare him with the giants of the nineteenth century—Balzac, Dickens and Zola..."
Occupation with a Human Face
The Arab Gramsci
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Israel's barbarism
رسائل ماركس وأنجلز حول الديانة الإسلامية
"David Halberstam wrote  The Best and the Brightest  out of genuine puzzlement at how highly educated academics, intellectuals, bureaucrats, and businessmen fell victim in Vietnam to their own myths of moral supremacy and military firepower. In our own time, the power of the technocratic elite has multiplied, helped by lavish funding from insecure politicians and self-seeking businessmen, the delegitimation of dissent in the mainstream media and universities, and broad-spectrum depoliticization." Read the article in full
Jacques Rancière: The Front National’s useful idiots "Les idéaux républicains sont devenus des armes de discrimination et de mépris"
I Saw a Man Beheaded "I want to share this account* as a small intervention to re-frame ideas and experiences of violence and terror. I was an ambulance volunteer during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. It was a 22 day war on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 that killed 1409 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. It was the heaviest Israeli attack on Palestinian territory since 1967. The 2014 Gaza War has since eclipsed this in terms of deaths, injury and destruction in Gaza. On the afternoon of Friday the 16 th  of January we picked up the body of a man who had just been decapitated by an Israeli air strike. Dominant cultural narratives on violence in the global north now only see beheading as a terrorist act by ISIS or Al Qaeda or similar groups. The perpetrator is a Muslim. The colonial fantasy of the savage is coming back in to focus.   The role of the state, armed with heavy aerial power – drones, F16s, Apache Helicopters, MIG jets – is not part of the story of beheading. I th
Niall Ferguson, a reactionary historian Watch this man He was already arguing in  The Cash Nexus , published a few months before the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, that ‘the United States should be devoting a larger percentage of its vast resources to making the world safe for capitalism and democracy’ – if necessary by military force. ‘Let me come clean,’ he wrote in the  New York Times Magazine  in April 2003, a few weeks after the shock-and-awe campaign began in Iraq, ‘I am a fully paid-up member of the neoimperialist gang.’