Pulse Media


Now that the dust has settled: Benazir Bhutto

Robert Fisk


So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.


You want some breaking news?!


But an old friend of Ms Bhutto, Salman Tassir, told the BBC World Service he did not think criticism should be directed at the government.
"There have been suicide attacks on Gen Musharraf also," he told Newshour.
"I mean it is extremism and the fanatics who are to blame."

What makes the security failure all the more startling is the fact that it comes just weeks after the first assassination attempt following Bhutto's return to Pakistan from a lengthy political exile.
This being 'breaking news', this is just my on-the-spot knee-jerk reaction. I have to wonder, if the extremists opposed to democracy are to blame, and, that their enemies are just as much Musharraf as Bhutto or Sharif, why is the ex-General, or 'our man in Islamabad', still among us?

On a sadder note, I wonder aloud : will this be a moment of history as was the Kennedy brothers' assasinations, or just a footnote? Sure, she was but another 'democratic leader', whom the West would no doubt have found a creative way to cuddle up to. However, like my ten-year-old future mother in 1963, today I feel like crying. Not only for Benazir but for the scores of 'innocents' who died along with her.


The fantasy of endless consumption


In an earlier day and age, the middle class' craving for consumption was satisfied by foreign trips, and by dowry. No more. No more do you have to wait for a rich uncle to return from London or Dubai with flashy goggles, a Walkman, and a bottle of Johnny Walker. No more is extortion through marriage the only way to acquire a Bajaj scooter of dubious fuel-efficiency. Not that these avenues, benign as well as benighted, are no longer in use. Just that these are no longer the only ones available. Your bank calls you on Diwali-eve to give you a pre-approved loan of half a million rupees. What for, you ask. The call centre employee at the other end is incredulous: "You mean don't want to buy anything?"

Debt servicing becomes a critical part of the monthly budget. Some cope, some don't. Those who do, trapeze from one high-paying job to the next higher-paying job. Consumption has to be kept up. The only way to do so is to ensure that you don't hang around in the same company too long. This is of course the very opposite of what our fathers and uncles believed in. In those Five Year Plan days, you joined a company and grew with it. Today, though, if you want to keep up with servicing your debt, fidelity to job is anathema.


Good news : Cops don't google!


She turned to the internet after becoming suspicious about the story, which has gripped the world's attention, and she admitted her scepticism had paid dividends.

She told the Mirror that the Darwins should be nominated for a "World's Dumbest award".

A sort of non-lethal Darwin Award, maybe. I know, very easy!

Try it yourself!


No peers for Darfur


Jean-Marie Guehenno told the United Nations Security Council that excessive demands from Khartoum "would make it impossible for the mission to operate".


Two British Muslim members of the House of Lords have arrived in Sudan to push for the release of a British teacher imprisoned for insulting religion.


Zionism and the Land of Israel

Map of Eretz Israel in 1695 Amsterdam Haggada

Shaul Goldstein, Mayor of Gush Etzion:

"We belong to this place. We belong to Jerusalem, we belong to Bethlehem, we belong to..euh..Hebron. This is our heritage. This is our history. Without it, we are not a nation. After sixty years of the Holocaust (sic!), the world must recognise our right to have our jewish state and to help us to make it."

BBC Reporter: "All the way from the Mediterranean to the the River Jordan?"

SG: "From the Mediterranean to the the River Jordan. Israel cannot defend its self with the borders which is the '67 borders. Now we're asking Olmert 'what do you want to acheive? Don't tell me what you want to give! Tell me what you're goin to get!' It's zero.
We don't believe that anyone want's peace with us. The Arabs..want to occupy Israel."

And this is basically what he means:

We don't want anyone to want peace with us (that way we can hold on to Eretz Israel).

And this maybe an 'extremist' settler talking, but let us remember, that settlers are not generally the most religious. They are proof of the idea, that religious imagery is in actual fact an expression of nationalistic fervour. In Israel 'proper' there are religious zealots who claim divine right of Eretz Israel for the jews, and there are secular politicians who in effect do the same. Ariel Sharon was not an exception. All PMs have allowed settlements to expand although this has always been in violation of international law.
As we can see in the links above, noteably the Mafdal link, the idea of Eretz Israel in mainstream zionism is a confusion of secular and religious. Ben Gurion was a socialist, and Herzl was an assimilated (non-religious) austrian Jew. Yet, the idea of Eretz Israel is based on the promise made by 'god' to the jewish people.
In fact, certain ultra-orthodox jewish movements take that promise to have meant, that 'god' would lead the jews to their land, at the time of the coming of the messiah, and only then.

And then there are those who believe in this!:

Since this is an issue full of paradox, I am open to any comments/corrections!


Back to Court

Return to court

Posted (in french) on November 23rd by Caillou

This time around many more people turned up. If every time this tribunal expresses the law there are this many witnesses, it will no longer be able to do it's dirty work in secret. The room is full.

Men and women of Toulouse, unemployed, mothers, pensioners, people from Ariège, all here to support the young minor-adults. The latter are young people who, having entered the country have been integrated into foster families, are studying, even learning a trade...They have no or little family in their home countries. They cannot be sent back while minors, but as a birthday present, upon coming of age, they get a notification of deportation. The prefectures (translator's note: sub-regional jurisdiction) leave nothing out! And the departmental quota (translator's note: sub-regional quota set by the government) must be reached!

Then there's the young north african lady, shivering alone on a bench in the hall outside the courtroom. Married to a frenchman she came to our beloved country and recieved a resident's card, but after divorcing and moving, upon advising the Lot prefecture of her change of situation and address, a zealous employee nicked her card and so she became, on the spot "sans papier" and subject to expulsion.

There's also the young congolese man, who came to France with his mother and brother for the funeral of his father, who died "brutally" in a police station of the 18th arrondissement of Paris. His lawyer shows a letter from the interior minister of the time (our present president) authorising him to reside in the country "for the duration of the inquest". The family lodged a complaint, but one can imagine how long it takes for an inquest against the french police to proceed...So now, the prefect of Haute-Garonne is asking for the expulsion of the son.

Many more await their turn. It's the "justice" square before or during the detention center, a kind of washing machine of which the role is not so much to judge the content but rather the legal form of expulsion, armed with a law, more and more repressive and discriminatory. That morning, there were many slices of life and suffering, kneaded by this soulless machine, which obeys to the sole criteria that is the "legal" expulsion of 25 000 men, women and children by the 31st of December.

I have re-read Erich Maria Remarque. Love one another (Liebe deinen nächsten). It's a book published in 1939 and which tells of the incredible journeys of german jews, stateless, "Heimatlose", fleeing through Europe the Nazis in power in Germany. But this novel tells us about what is going on, right now, in the french tribunals, in the french detention centers, on the french the country of the declaration of "human rights" which our our marvelous elites revel in.


Lesson in democracy from Zapatero and his boss

Explanation in spanish, french, english and portuguese

Burmese Junta Propaganda Film


Around 200 members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, Swan Arr Shin and township police have taken part in the filming in the grounds of Prome airport in Bago division, according to a source who had access to those involved in the shoot. A number of people posing as monks have also been involved in the filming.


Holocaust Denial (fiction?)



Today, New Germany rejects the verdicts of the Nuremberg Trials that found members of the Nazi party guilty of war crimes, pointing out that Germans admitted to those crimes under duress from the prosecuting Allies. "No document has ever been produced that shows that Hitler ordered the extermination of Jews," Sommer said. "Indeed, many attempts were made by Germans at the time to find a safe harbor for Jews, including some negotiations with Zionists in Europe. It is a total fallacy that there was anything resembling genocide."

Terror and justice

How could people bomb innocents like those who were victims in Madrid on 3/11 asks one of the survivors? They were 'normal' people, he says. One can only agree with such a sentiment. How could one disagree? One has to however, seek answers. It's not about feeling sympathy for bombers, but it's about trying to understand in order to prevent further suffering.
Of course, for the sake of decency, as well as honesty, one should before anything else put things into perspective. On march 11th 2004 in Madrid, 191 people were killed and 2050 wounded. On september 11th 2001 in New York, 2974 died. On July 7th 2005 in London, 52 people were killed and 700 were wounded (source: Wikipedia). If we were to count the numbers of people killed in bombings by western forces and others supported financially as well as militarily by western nations, where would one start? In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 over a thousand lebanese lost their lives under israeli fire. In the invasion phase of the 2003 Iraq war, 7,299 iraqi civilians were killed. 290 Iranian civilians were killed when the airliner they were travelling was downed by USS Vincennes during the Iran-Iraq war. (Source: Wikipedia).
Coincidentally perhaps, today in Spain, some of those responsible for the March 7th attacks were condemned while simultaneously a bill has been approved which formally condemns Franco's dictatorial and terrorist regime. Though of course the mainstream media does not link the two events, what comes to mind is a certain paradox. We all accept justifiably, that those responsible for the deaths of 191 innocent civilians in Madrid should be brought swiftly (and democratically) before the law, and yet condemning an equally (in numbers no doubt more) horrifying period of spanish history, takes over thirty years, and still there are those who complain (mainly right-wing conservatives). This seems to me to be a fitting example of the double-standards with which our media and authorities treat history and contemporary events.
On this day, the BBC aired a programme dealing with the upcoming Annapolis Israel/Palestine peace conference. Several commentators from the region or elsewhere were questioned. None of whom I had personally heard of. None but one palestinian commentator mentioned the hypocrisy of the 'offers' made by Israel and the US to the palestinians. Commentators such as Amira Hass, the israeli journalist who lives in and reports from Gaza, Robert Fisk, the British journalist who has spent thirty years living in and reporting from Beirut on the middle east and the arabo-muslim world, Noam Chomsky, who has written extensively and with excellent sourcing about the 'conflict' and US-Israeli rejectionism, Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, or Meron Benvenisti, former Jerusalem mayor and proponent of a binational state were not interviewed.
Recently, the US congress was censored in it's attempt to officially recognise the ottoman genocide of Aremenians in 1915 by Turkey and it's lobby. At least it's relatively uncontroversial to speak of a turkish lobby in the US. Meanwhile, Israel continues to deny the Armenian Holocaust and the Ukrainian Holocaust (for example). It is up to historians to decide what is holocaust and what is not, and not politicians, according to Israel. Maybe it should apply this wisdom to all holocausts.
Mr Zapatero has claimed, that justice has been done. But where are Bush, Blair, Howard, Aznar, Berlusconi and all the others before them? Are they behind bars?


This just in!

Already the week is unbearable for these New Yorkers awaiting a subway train, and it's only fucking Tuesday.

The Onion

"The more I try to speed it along, the longer it almost seems to take," said Dale Bouchard, a Chicago-based broker who has been waiting for today to be over since it first began earlier this morning. "Honestly, today could not have come at a worse time this week."


Human rights in Burma vs Russia

Meanwhile the UN envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, has described as "extremely disturbing" new arrests in Burma and has called on the junta to stop detaining democracy activists.

Oh tut tut. But where is Super Condi, super defender of human rights?
Condoleezza Rice has pledged support for human rights activists in Moscow who hope to protect people from the ‘arbitrary power of the state.’

Do you know the truth about Lockerbie?

Robert Fisk

After writing about the "ravers" who regularly turn up at lectures to claim that President Bush/the CIA/the Pentagon/Mossad etc perpetrated the crimes against humanity of 11 September, I received a letter this week from Marion Irvine, who feared that members of her family run the risk of being just such "ravers" and "voices heard in the wilderness". Far from it.


Official narrative

For the first time, an outraged United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned the Burmese military junta for its violent crackdown on protesters and demanded it be allowed to immediately investigate the situation in Burma.

My own reaction to the news of the UN envoy visiting Burma says a lot, I think of how conditioned we are by the official narrative. I found myself hoping, along with newsreaders and reporters, that Gambari would be allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, and that he would meet the supreme general Than Shwe. But what difference does that make? We weren't told. Oh sure, the UNHRC is 'outraged'. How can a structure which includes states which not only support other states that practise 'violent crackdowns' but are themselves involved in human rights abuses be suitable 'outraged'? Interestingly, the United States does not see fit to join the UNHRC. A touch of honesty perhaps?

Sources in Rangoon told Mizzima that several bodies of monks have been found floating in the Rangoon River and the bodies bear evidence that the monks had been beaten to death.
Is this a matter for friendly diplomacy?

The HRC, in a rare criticism against a government, agreed to place the findings of the special Rapporteur to the UN General Assembly and to the Security Council, which observers say will give more evidence to discuss at the UNSC.
Indeed, that is how we come to accept the official narrative. Our moral ideals are drastically lowered until we honestly believe, that an expression of 'outrage' against the torture and murder of hundreds or thousands of pro-democracy protesters is extraordinary, and therefore, logically, more than sufficient.


Flash from Myanmar


The Karen National Union, an ethnic armed rebel group, said it has killed at least four Burmese soldiers when it attacked a Burmese Army convoy, retreating from the frontline, early yesterday morning.

Intervention for democracy

What can be done to help free the burmese people? Well, I think we'd all love to see the world's 'forces of democracy' using their power to free the people of Burma. However, we, and more importantly the Burmese people, would have to be sure, that democracy is the only reason for going in, and that once the burmese generals have been ousted foreign troops will leave. Of course, any rational mind will know that is not going to happen. First of all, foreign troops will only invade if their financial interests are threatened. It seems the burmese generals are in the best interest of China and the West, if only they'd be a little less barbaric-it's so embarassing!
Secondly, if foreign troops did go in (to protect their interests), they'd be unlikely to leave the country very quickly. In fact they'd be unlikely to hand over power to an idealist like Aung San Suu Kyi! So, what is left? Smuggle arms and exiled burmese into the country? Sure, that'll please the Chinese! I think the first thing to do, is what our governments have so far consistently failed to do: break off cooperation with the generals, withdraw all investment (like with that oh-so-evil cuban dictator...) and put pressure on countries which are arming the generals. Real pressure. Sure, that's gonna happen! Or maybe the burmese are just gonna have to accept, that they are not worthy of democracy. It's the luck of the draw: you live in a country without enough natural resources to elicit the interest of the world cops, and under the rule of terrorising but cooperative generals. tough luck!


Our own little cowards

Robert Fisk

Yet at this little dinner party in Beirut, I could not help thinking of all our smug statesmen, the Browns and the Straws and the Sarkozys and the imperious Kouchners and Merkels and their equally smug belief that they are fighting a "war on terror" – do we still believe that, by the way? – and reflect that here in Beirut there are intellectual men and women who could run away to London or Paris if they chose, but prefer to stick it out, waiting to die for their democracy in a country smaller than Yorkshire. I don't think our Western statesmen are of this calibre.


Mainstream media ignores IAEA, Reuters

Thanks to Terrorism News


VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran's uranium enrichment program is operating well below capacity and is far from producing nuclear fuel in significant amounts, according to a confidential U.N. nuclear watchdog report obtained by Reuters.

Google News

Google News

Google News

Google News

Al Jazeera English



The town of Ôasa (大麻)in Hokkaido. Litteral translation: Big hemp. Alternative reading: Taima(大麻). Translation: Marijuana.

Mainichi (毎日)

A Japanese prison is scrambling to eradicate marijuana plants that keep sprouting up on its exercise ground, officials said Tuesday.

The marijuana plants started sprouting at Abashiri Prison on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido about a year ago, said prison official Takeshi Okamura. He said officials plucked out as many as 300 marijuana plants and treated the ground last year, but several more sprouted again this year.

Prisoners reported them to the guards.

Officials believe the plants are wild.

"Apparently, somebody knew how to tell marijuana from other plants," Okamura said.

Local botanical experts concluded the marijuana seeds were inadvertently brought in with the soil used for the exercise ground, Okamura said.

"It's a headache," Okamura said. "This isn't a farm."

Abashiri Prison currently has about 1,080 male inmates serving terms of up to eight years in prison.

Anybody who knows Hokkaido (北海道) will know, that marijuana grows wild there. It's hardly surprising, that this 'weed' would grow in a prison yard, where presumably any 'weed' grows freely. You have to wonder how much public money was spent on the 'botanical experts' in an effort to eradicate a harmless 'weed'.


Moral duty2


Zell Kravinsky has been accused of being an extremist, because he dares to put forward the idea, that not doing anything to help the suffering, and more to the point, not giving away a spare and unnecessary kidney, we are guilty of murder. Well, that idea can be discussed, no doubt about it. But is he really an extremist?
This week in France, a popular actress, Fanny Ardant, was attacked for calling the former leader of the italian Red Brigades (a seventies left-wing militant group which killed at least one politician (apparently no more) a "hero". She was forced to explain, that she only admired his steadfast beliefs, not his actions. One wonders if she would have had to explain herself had she called Silvio Berlusconni or George Bush a "hero". Yet, the blood on their hands is somewhat thicker. Talk about double standards.
So, what is extreme? Wanting to give away all you have, including a spare kidney, or allowing, the people we have elected and their murderous actions to continue unhindered?


Quick fixing


President Shimon Peres has championed the plan for years, which is supposed to include the "corridor of peace", an ambitious project of economic, tourist and agricultural development for Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority

“Why aren’t they studying the entire system of water resources in Israel,” he asks, “that might enable the partial diversion of the Jordan River and that way both the River and the Dead Sea would be rehabilitated?"

That would mean asking difficult questions. Questions too difficult for the simplistic mindset of political leaders.


Helping the Dead Sea "live" up to its name
The Dead Sea is drying up at an alarming rate. Far and away the biggest cause of the rapid disappearance of the Dead Sea is the lack of water coming into it from its traditional sources: the Jordan River and various side wadis (tributaries). Construction of dams, storage reservoirs, and pipelines for the desalinization and treatment of water has been greatly reducing water inflows to the Dead Sea. While much of this water is being used by the Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians for basic domestic consumption, most goes towards highly subsidised and inefficient agriculture.

The effects of human intervention in the region include:

- The Dead Sea has already lost over 1/3 of its surface area.
- The Sea level has fallen over 20 meters since development of the region started early this century. The Sea's depth is continuing to drop by up to 1 meter per year.
- The shoreline in expected to drop from -411 meters to -430 meters by the year 2020.
- Water inflow levels have already been reduced to just 10% of its original volume, with annual surface inflows in the future predicted to decrease from 375 million cubic meters (mcm) to 135 mcm/yr.
- The fall in the level of the Sea has lowered water tables in surrounding areas causing a drying up of micro-eco-systems and leading to land-subsidence.
Permaculture Reflections
Permanculture Reflections


Moral duty

Muslim Scholars Speak Out

Saturday 28 July 2007, by Tariq Ramadan

The concept of “jihad” has different meanings and a scholar such as Jalal ad-Dîn as-Suyutî (15th century), while studying its scope, highlighted 80 different dimensions, uses and objectives related to its place in Islamic teachings. Its root “ja-ha-da” means “making an effort”, “exerting oneself” in order to promote good or to resist wrongdoing, evil or oppression. Every individual trying to resist her/his own negative temptations is engaged in “jihad” and the first time the word is used in the Qur’an (25:52), it refers to an intellectual and spiritual resistance by the means of the Qur’an itself.

In all its dimensions, the essence of “jihad” is “to resist” in the name of justice and dignity. When there is an armed aggression, Muslims have the right to protect themselves and to defend their rights. Here “jihâd” means “qitâl” (armed struggle). The use of violence and weapons must be adjusted to the nature of the aggression itself: an armed aggression may justify an armed resistance if there is no other way to come to a peaceful agreement. But the use of violence and weapons must be proportionate and never target innocent people, women, children, the elderly, and even fruit trees as Abû Bakr, the first successor of the Prophet, stated following Muhammad’s teachings. Jihad never means “holy war” in order “to impose” or “to propagate” Islam everywhere. In fact jihâd and qitâl mean exactly the opposite of what we commonly think: rather than being the justifying instruments of war, they are the imposed measures to achieve peace by resisting an unjust aggression.

In specific situations – when one faces an army and has no weapons or other means to resist – it may be understandable and justifiable to consider sacrificing one’s life in attempts to reach the armed soldiers. Here we are not far from a kind of suicide but it is related to three specific conditions: 1. It must be in a time of declared war; 2. when no other means of resisting are available; 3. the targets must be exclusively the army of the enemies and its armed soldiers. Today’s suicide bombers who are killing innocent people are not only not respecting the Islamic teachings as to the ethics of war but are in fact indulging in anti-Islamic actions.

I would like to react to the above text and give my view of the idea of resistance.
I am not muslim. In fact I am not a follower of any faith. I would describe myself best as a humanist. In a moral sense then, humanity as a whole has a duty to fight against injustice wherever it takes place. I don't believe it is merely the duty of muslims to resist injustices done to them, just as it wasn't merely the duty of Spanish to resist fascism, of Europeans to resist against nazism or of the South Africans to resist Apartheid. Indeed, we not only have the right the resist, but we have the moral duty to do so, as shows the military duty to refuse an illegal order.
Now, I could never condone, let alone call for violence against individuals unless it was in self-defence. The question then is what would be categorised as self-defense. In any case, I would call for non-violent forms of resistance and/or acts of sabotage before violent ones.
The question is what is susceptible of being an effective act of resistance? Furthermore, while I would obviously never call for violence against innocent individuals, the question remains: who is innocent? Some might say no-one is innocent (little reference there for french rockers!). What seems clear to me, is that the citizens of many countries are to varying degrees responsible for the injustices done to inhabitants of other regions, often far-flung ones. After all, we (yes, you guessed it: it's us I was hinting at) benefit from the oppression of others through our oil and consumer fixes.
In that sense, it seems the logical conclusion, is that not only can we expect to be targets of what are commonly known as 'terrorist' acts, but this can also be morally justified if it is accepted, that by doing nothing to end the oppression while continuing to enjoy it's economic fruits we allow and encourage the oppression to continue.
I don't think suicide is a thing you can justify or not. Someone who commits suicide is usually someone who is desperate or someone who has little or nothing to live for. Living under oppression or any kind causes suicide.
The problem in the age of information is the moral double standard displayed not only by politicians (who would expect otherwise) but specifically by those who are supposed to inform us: the media. In the world of big news corporations, the terrorists are the guerilla fighters opposed in a war to the first world leaders and their cohorts. Those guerillas who do the first world's dirty work are resistants (to the nazis, the french resistance was a 'terrorist' force), freedom fighters or occasionaly 'mujahideen' (how very romantic). Sometimes certain individuals can be 'freedom fighters' one day and 'terrorists' the next, like others can be our 'strongmen' one day and evil dictators the next. But, I digress.
In the world of CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera when a friendly state or guerilla outfit murders it's opponents it's not news. Yet when an enemy state does the same it's top of the agenda. When a client state kidnaps individuals suspected of 'terrorism', it's unworthy of mention. Yet when an armed force opposed to this client state kidnaps a soldier of said state all hell lets loose and we near hear the end of it. When a client state terrorises it's called 'defence' and when the terrorised revolt it's called 'terrorism'.


The muslim witch and her presidential husband

Turkey's parliament goes to the polls to elect the next president of the country. It attempted to do so four months ago, but the election was annulled. Today, as at the time, one party, the CHP, has refused to take part in the election because of their apparent fear, that one man may be elected. That man is Abdullah Gül, of the ruling AKP. He is apparently too 'islamic' for the members of the CHP. One argument put forward against him, is that his wife wears a hijab. Apparently, the army is also lying ing wait, considering action if the President doesn't act in a sufficiently secular manner, and presumeably if Mrs Gül's headscarfe covers too much of her face!
No doubt this will not play a big part in the EU's analysis of turkish democracy when considering Turkey's application. After all, better a dictatorial army-led secular state, than a democratically elected islamic government or president (the latter albeit elected by parliament. Maybe Turkey should put the choice to the turkish people...) That seems to be the western mantra these days.


Why I wanna write, why I dunno how to and why I'm writing this

I started blogging over two years ago now. From the beginning, I saw it as a tool for sharing information (isn't that what the www is?). Well, what I didn't see it as was keeping a diary of my private&personal life. I suppose from very early on I would have liked to write about what I saw going on in the world through the filter of various media, traditional and alternative, as well as about my world(ly?) views. However, I have mainly stuck so far to quoting media sources and adding my little bit of (invariably cynical) analysis. I also realised early on, that the best or to be more specific the most visited and commented on blogs were those in which bloggers posted their views and analysis in the form of articles written by them and not by others. Still, I didn't feel up that standard. Do I now? Not sure. Part of the reason is certainly that I don't feel I have enough in-depth knowledge of the sort of things I would like to write about. Also, I don't have enough confidence in my writing ability. How do I write an article which is informative as well as humorous and militant? Still, it seems like the thing to do, and not merely to increase the traffic on my blog along with comments, but also because it seems like a more interesting and personal way to convey ideas which seem important to me. Maybe a good way to create debate too. So, I thought the best start was to spill out my wishes and my fears in a post, in the hope, obviously, that someone might give me tips, but also, that in the process a light bulb might appear above my head and and a Eureka! may form on my lips. How's that for a literary beginner?!


Texas execution

Texas Penal Code:

Sec.A7.02. CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER.AA(a) A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if: (1)AAacting with the kind of culpability required for the offense, he causes or aids an innocent or nonresponsible person to engage in conduct prohibited by the definition of the offense; (2)AAacting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense; or (3)AAhaving a legal duty to prevent commission of the offense and acting with intent to promote or assist its commission, he fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent commission of the offense. (b)AAIf, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy. Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

A man is about to be executed in Texas under the law quoted above. Even the courts have acknowledged, that he did not commit murder, but he drove the car from which a friend of his emerged before getting into an altercation and shooting another man dead. Not only did Kenneth Foster not commit murder, but he maintains there was no premeditation either by the killer himself or by any of his friends, including Foster. As he says, if there had been premeditation by the whole group or even part of it, someone would have accompanied the killer, wheareas in reality he left the car alone. On Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Kenneth Foster's final appeal. Unless the board of pardons and paroles and the governor of Texas decide to pardon Foster, he will be executed on August 30th.
It seems the BBC and other big news corporations are silent on this pending execution.


An analogy to chew on


But you have to hand it to the journalists of Yerevan. Each August, they all go on holiday. At the same time. Yup. Every editor, reporter, book reviewer, columnist and printer packs up for the month and heads off to Lake Sevan or Karabakh for what is still called, Soviet-style, a "rest". "We wish all our readers a happy rest-time and we'll be back on August 17th," the newspaper Margin announced this week. And that was that. No poet may die, no Patriotic War hero expire, no minister may speak, no man may be imprisoned, lest his passing or his words or incarceration disappear from written history. I encourage the management of The Independent to consider this idea; if only we had operated such a system during the rule of the late Tony Blair... But no doubt a civil servant would have emailed him that this was a "good time" to announce bad news.


A US peace deal


Saudi Arabia says it supports US plans for a regional peace conference this year and would be keen to attend.

The conference is intended to revive the peace process and would include Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states viewed as moderate by the US.

When even the BBC clearly describes the rules as being set by the US (and I must say the choice of photo is perfect!) it seems there is little doubt left as to how one-sided any peace deal can be. What peace deal by the way? If it's just going to be a matter of certain parties hand picked by the world cop sitting together, what sort of solution can there be?
And if the Saudis do indeed attend, what does that say of the US definition of 'moderate'? Does 'moderate' mean friendly to the US?

Hamas, the 2006 Palestinian election winner, refused to sign up to previous peace deals with Israel, and its military victory in Gaza deals a serious blow to Mr Bush's strategic vision of a two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace.

And what kind of palestinian state might that be? A greatly reduced and geographically divided state with pockets of jewish settlers?


News from Palestine

Amira Hass

The concept of "amnesty" that is being used to describe the agreement to stop chasing wanted men demonstrates to what extent Israel is entrenched in its position of domination. According to the law, the president is allowed to pardon "criminals." According to the law, a "criminal" is someone who was tried and convicted. It's true that the late president Chaim Herzog pardoned leading members of the Shin Bet security service before they were tried for the murder of the hijackers of bus no. 300, after the majority opinion in the High Court of Justice ruled that the president of Israel has the same power to pardon as the king of England and the president of the United States. But here it is a "pardon" of the Shin Bet and the army in the field. The ease with which the concept "pardon" was accepted in the media is additional proof of the sweeping approval that Israelis grant the Israel Defense Forces and its soldiers to act as prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is it any wonder that they are given the power of a king of England, to pardon before a trial?


And now the news in brief

This week, the BBC journalist Alan Johnston was rescued from his captors by Hamas. A palestinian bystander with no name was killed in the shoot-out between Hamas and Army of Islam 'gunmen'.


Critical mind

Alternative Online

With the above examples in mind, readers should take bloggers, especially the self-righteous ones like this Angry Arab Abou Khalil, with a grain of salt.

Even better, Abou Khalil is a frequent commentator on Al-Jazeera. He talks with authority, of course being a professor in the US who knows it all from inside the crooked empire.

Readers and viewers of TVs like Al-Jazeera, or even readers of the March 8 dandy writer New Yorker’s Seymour Hirsh should always examine the sources of these media outlets’ speakers and writers and the validity of their arguments. After all, not everyone who depicts himself as “I know it all” or “I am the most patriotic Arab” or for that matter “the most Angry Arab” are credible enough or can sustain their arguments, better known as their ongoing populist propaganda.

Of course, one should always take everything one reads or hears with a 'grain of salt', whether it's in the mainstream media or in the alternative media or on a blog. The BBC, Aljazeera, CNN, Fox etc. may have access to Reuters and information faster than the speed of sound, but that does not make their information necessarily surer than a blog. It all depends on the blog.Readers should use common sense, general knowledge and always double, maybe even triple check. On the other hand, mainstream media can also be the scapegoat for the upholders of officialdom, as has been the case for the BBC and Aljazeera. Again, we should remain wary of what comes out of the mouths of propaganda men and women, be they governmental or non-governmental. Is the BBC a leftwing liberal media? I doubt it! Is Aljazeera a fundamentalist recruitment center? I doubt it too!


Binational state

I remain convinced, that binationalism is the only long-term solution for peace and democracy in Israel-Palestine. Some may say, while supporting the idea, that right now, the only way forward is a two-state solution, but as we can see in the link below and in recent news, there is no true support even for a viable and just soverigh palestinian state coming from Israel or the West. On the palestinian side there is corruption and frustration at the ongoing occupation and this inevitably leads to anger and violence. Hamas, whatever we may think of their methods and/or religious beliefs, represent this anger. In any case, Hamas came to power in a democratic election which has never been fully recognised and now has been downright trodden on.
So, it is easy for us, far from the scene, to call for patience. Yet, I continue to believe violence will lead nowhere. There must therefore be a radical solution. As far as I can see, the only radical solution is a binational state.

Leila Farsakh

There have been a number of recent publications proposing a one-state solution as the only alternative to the current impasse. Three years ago Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor in the 1970s, wrote that the question is “no longer whether there is to be a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel, but which model to choose” (2). Respected intellectuals on all sides, including the late Edward Said; the Arab Israeli member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara; the Israeli historian Illan Pape; scholars Tanya Reinhart and Virginia Tilley; and journalists Amira Haas and Ali Abunimeh, have all stressed the inevitability of such a solution.

The idea of a single, bi-national state is not new. Its appeal lies in its attempt to provide an equitable and inclusive solution to the struggle of two peoples for the same piece of land. It was first suggested in the 1920s by Zionist leftwing intellectuals led by philosopher Martin Buber, Judah Magnes (the first rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Haïm Kalvarisky (a member of Brit-Shalom and later of the National Union). The group followed in the footsteps of Ahad Ha’am (Asher Hirsch Ginsberg, one of the great pre-state Zionist thinkers).


The failure of the one-state option has often been attributed to the idealism of its cause and its failure to come to terms with local realities. Nevertheless, as Magnes pointed out, the option offered significant advantages in demographic and territorial terms in 1947 to the Jewish cause (4).

In fact, the idea failed because the political actors of the time rejected it: the Zionist organisations were not interested, the British were unsupportive and the Arabs too suspicious. Between 1948 and 1993 the only significant change in these positions came from the Arabs, who finally came to terms with the existence of Israel.

A year on

What has changed? Lebanon teetering on the edge of democracy, the Palestinians still under siege and now forced into a civil war.
As Amira Hass wrote back then, there is absolutely no symetry, so to talk of efforts to be made on both sides for peace is dishonest at best.


It comes as no surprise that this war has not yet been finished in one fell swoop. For six years, the Israeli army has accustomed its soldier to regard their assaults in the occupied territories as "fighting" and "battles." They fostered the myth that there was symmetry between the advanced regular Israeli army and groups of Palestinians armed with light weapons and homespun bombs, scurrying among the tanks and helicopters that are demolishing their houses and fields. Indeed, on a few occasions, the Palestinians succeeded in guerrilla operations that killed or wounded the troops. But these were the exception. The suicide attacks inside Israel attest to the "military" weakness of the Palestinian organizations.

Breaking the silence for peace

The only way to break this silence is to speak out for people whose voices are stifled by their own governments. If we choose not to keep silent about the way we feel about how others are treated in their own countries, we make their leaders accountable for this treatment.

In the occupied territories, the extremist movement is signified by the Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes, killing of innocent children, illegal detainment of suspected criminals, the confiscation of land and the Apartheid Wall which still exists, even in spite of being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice.

Not keeping silent means seeking the truth through credible sources. There are a plethora of Israeli and non-Israeli Jewish authors that systematically demonstrate the political machinations at work that uproot the lives of the Palestinians. Norman Finkelstein, Illan Pappe, Jeff Halper, and Amira Hass are just a few.

Not keeping silent means creating an open dialogue between our community and those that represent us, forcing them to demonstrate their position. Letters should be written to our representatives, and their responses should be broadcasted out into our community.

Not keeping silent means creating an open discussion about and with those institutions that openly support the expanding illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There are many Christian Zionist churches that openly advocate Israel as the promise land of the Jews, and suggest that the Palestinians should be excluded.

Not keeping silent means joining your voice with voices already at work. It means lending your emotional support. It means investing time. It means demanding that American tax dollars finance justice. And it means instilling these attitudes in our youth.

It also means creating a dialogue between ourselves and the Israelis and the Palestinians to discuss issues that undermine peace and security for all parties. It means teaching Palestinian children the attitudes and actions they need to take to cultivate peace.

Only a thundering roar of collective voices can awaken the world to the harsh realities that exist.


The most depressing joke ever

Gilad Atzmon


Question to Gordon Brown

The Independent

What's a bigger danger - global warming or jihadi terrorism?

TOM CHURCH, by email

Both are massive dangers, and the truth is - while every other country in the world tends to make trade-offs and choose priorities - Britain is the only country simultaneously taking the lead in fighting all the great dangers the world faces: global warming, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation and world poverty. I am proud of that, and that will continue under my government.

As a Kiwi might say: yeah right.


Discouraging democracy, encouraging civil war

Indymedia Israel

On 17 June, a new government was sworn in by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Although this government, now headed by the Minister of Finance, Salam Fayyad, was nominated without the support or even advisement by the democratically elected Palestinian Legislative Council, it already enjoys the full support of Israel, the United States and the European Union. All of these entities now plan to end their boycott, imposed on the Palestinian people following the Hamas victory in the democratic national elections of January 2006.


1967 revisited

So it seems the question now is this : was Israeli expansion done for agricultural reasons or for religious reasons?
Isn't it amazing, though, how these kind of revelations can so easily be wept under the carpet. How many are aware of these revalations? Indeed, how many Israelis are aware of them?

Blogus, Bloga, Blogum

General Dayan said in his conversations with Mr. Tal that the kibbutz leaders who had urgently demanded that Israel take the Golan Heights had done so largely for the land.

''The kibbutzim there saw land that was good for agriculture,'' he said. ''And you must remember, this was a time in which agricultural land was considered the most important and valuable thing.''

Mr. Tal asked, ''So all the kibbutzim wanted was land?''

And General Dayan answered: ''I'm not saying that. Of course they wanted the Syrians to get out of their face. They suffered a lot because of the Syrians. Look, as I said before, they were sitting in the kibbutzim and they worked the land and had kids and lived there and wanted to live there. The Syrians across from them were soldiers who fired at them, and of course they didn't like it.

''But I can tell you with absolute confidence, the delegation that came to persuade Eshkol to take the heights was not thinking of these things. They were thinking about the heights' land. Listen, I'm a farmer, too. After all, I'm from Nahalal, not from Tel Aviv, and I know about it. I saw them, and I spoke to them. They didn't even try to hide their greed for that land.''


If you still wondered whether Blair was a Socialist

For the none french speakers, basically he congratulates Nicolas Sarkozy, who he 'considers a friend', and sucks up to the 'great nation' of France which he in passing congratulates for an 'impressive election' (one wonders if he even bothered watching it).


On intolerence

Being Muslim is difficult in a post 9/11 world and if you are a homosexual, it is a double whammy. You are in a constant battle of fighting off “Islamophobia” with other communities and homophobia with your own. There is “no recognition by any Muslim group so far of gay legitimacy as a community,” as pointed out by Farzana, Chair of Imaan Group, a social group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Muslims, their families, friends and supporters.

“It is shocking in this climate of Islamophobia that a part of Muslim community is compounding anti-Muslim prejudice with homophobia,” said Tatchell.

The difference, of course, is between a cultural and a religious intolerence. Culturally, I could rightly be described (particularly by someone of a different cultural group) as christian or a judeo-christian despite the fact I neither practise a religion nor believe in a divine being and/or word. I have my own beliefs which are open to criticism, just as should be those of any member of any religious faith. My beliefs and my culture are not, however, inextricably bound. Although my culture is judeo-christian, I am neither a Christian or a Jew (in the religious sense). The fact, that some muslims justify homophobia on religious grounds should have no incidence on the cultural intolerence usually embodied in islamophobia which tends to tarnish anyone associated with islam (as I am associated - culturally - with Christianity and Judaism) with the same brush.

A little fun with Thomas L. Friedman

New York Press

The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened, making the world much flatter than it had ever been—but the age of seamless global communication had not yet dawned.

How the fuck do you open a window in a fallen wall? More to the point, why would you open a window in a fallen wall? Or did the walls somehow fall in such a way that they left the windows floating in place to be opened?