Chomsky: Question time

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 11.30.03

He's 'The Elvis Of Academia' and 'The Devil's Accountant'. A relentless thorn in America's side, Noam Chomsky has spent 50 years bringing his country's elite to account. Here, he talks to Tim Adams about genocide and genitalia

Tim Adams
Sunday November 30, 2003
The Observer

On the railings outside my local train station at Harringay, in north London, someone has carefully placed a series of small white stickers. The stickers, all at eye level, are designed, I suppose, to be the first thing you see on the way to work and the last thing you see on your way home. They are all neatly typed with two words: READ CHOMSKY. Most mornings I find myself wondering for an instant whether the words are an imperative ('If you do nothing else today...'), or a swaggering boast (along the lines of some of the station's other typical graffiti: 'Shagged Karen', say).

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Rene -- Politics, pipelines converge in Georgia

Topic(s): Caucuses
Date Posted: 11.25.03

Politics, pipelines converge in Georgia

The Globe and Mail, Canada
Monday, November 24, 2003

It looked like a popular, bloodless revolution on the streets. Behind
the scenes, it smells more like another victory for the United States
over Russia in the post-Cold War international chess game.

Once, the game was played out on a truly global scale, in places such
as Angola and Afghanistan, and was cloaked as a fight between
capitalism and communism. These days, as Russian power and influence
have shrunk, so has the playing field. The fight for influence goes
on, but the battlefields have edged much closer to Moscow - former
colonies such as Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, and
Azerbaijan and Georgia in the Caucasus.

Eduard Shevardnadze used to be one of the chess masters. Yesterday, he
was knocked aside like just another pawn.

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F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies

Topic(s): FBI/CIA
Date Posted: 11.22.03

November 23, 2003

ASHINGTON, Nov. 22 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.

The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used "training camps" to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site.

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Sartre Redux

Topic(s): Philosophy
Date Posted: 11.18.03

A new generation of scholars explores the philosophy and politics of the founder of existentialism



The flowers at the grave do not look fresh, but there are a lot of them. And the marker itself is plain, unlike many of the slightly ostentatious tombs crowding Montparnasse Cemetery, a final resting place of the illustrious bourgeoisie.

When Jean-Paul Sartre died in 1980, some 50,000 people turned out for the funeral of France's most famous modern philosopher. Six years later his lifelong companion, Simone de Beauvoir, joined him here in Montparnasse. The stream of people coming to pay tribute has never really dried up. On a cold autumn morning, at least half-a-dozen visitors make their way to the spot in the course of about 15 minutes.

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Gore Vidal: Uncensored Gore

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 11.16.03

It's lucky for George W. Bush that he wasn’t born in an earlier time and somehow stumbled into America’s Constitutional Convention. A man with his views, so depreciative of democratic rule, would have certainly been quickly exiled from the freshly liberated United States by the gaggle of incensed Founders. So muses one of our most controversial social critics and prolific writers, Gore Vidal.

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Aye -- Interview with Saskia Sassen (2000)

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 11.15.03

Saskia Sassen is one of the most incisive commentators on the processes and effects of globalization. In her latest work, Guests & Aliens she examines European immigration within the continent during the last three centuries and frames this history in the context of today's globalized world. Her work not only suggests new historical interpreations but also how a firmer understanding of immigration patterns of the past can illuminate contemporary policy making in Europe and the United States. The following questions are in response to some of the issues brought up in Guests & Aliens. We would like to thank Professor Sassen for taking the time to answer some of our questions.

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History of Our Present (1): New Arab Film and Video

Topic(s): Cinema
Date Posted: 11.13.03

This essay first appeared in the catalogue for an exhibition of Arab film and video curated by Jayce Salloum at the Argos Film and Video Festival. The program featured his own work and the work of Ammar Al Beik, Walid Ra'ad, Elia Suleiman, Hassan Khan, Danielle Arbid, Rashid Masharawi, Azza El-Hassan, Annemarie Jacir, Tawfik Abu Wael, Azza Al Zarouni, Hassan Khan, Mahmoud Hojeij, Sobhi al-Zobaidi, Akram Zaatari, Mounir Fatmi, Mona Al Khamis, Belkacem Hadjadj, Nesrine Khodr, Jamelie Hassan, Mohamed Soueid, Zineb Sedira, Brahim Bachiri, Sherif El-Azma, Omar Amiralay.

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BAE System's Dirty Dealings

Topic(s): Corporate Crime
Date Posted: 11.12.03

By Sasha Lilley
Special to CorpWatch
November 11, 2003

It sounds like the stuff of pulp fiction: The UK's largest armaments producer running a £20 million ($33.4 million) slush fund to finance prostitutes, gambling trips, yachts, sports cars, and more for its most important clients the Saudi royal family and their intermediaries, greasing the wheels of the largest business deal in UK history. These are the accusations made last month by a former employee of weapons giant BAE Systems. And evidence has surfaced that members of the British government were aware of the bribe arrangement, but looked the other way.

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Rene -- Fisk -- How We Denied Democracy to the Middle East

Topic(s): Middle East
Date Posted: 11.12.03

How We Denied Democracy to the Middle East
We Created This Place, Weaned the Grotesque Dictators. And We Expect theArabs
to Trust Bush's Promise?
by Robert Fisk

Saturday, November 8, 2003
Independent / UK

It gets weirder and weirder. As his helicopters are falling out of
the sky over Iraq, President Bush tells us things are getting even
better. The more we succeed, he says, the deadlier the attacks will
become. Thank God the Americans now have a few - a very few - brave
journalists, like Maureen Dowd, to explain what is happening.

The worse things are, the better they get. Iraq's wartime information
minister, "Comical Ali", had nothing on this; he claimed the Americans
weren't in Baghdad when we could see their tanks. Bush claims he's
going to introduce democracy in the Middle East when his soldiers are
facing more than resistance in Iraq. They are facing an insurrection.

So let's take a look at the latest lies. "Sixty years of Western
nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle
East did nothing to make us safe," he told us on Thursday. "Because
in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of
liberty." Well said, Sir. George Bush Jr sounds almost as convincing
as, well, Tony Blair. It's all a lie. "We" - the West, Europe, America
- never "excused and accommodated" lack of freedom. We endorsed lack
of freedom. We created it in the Middle East and supported it.

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Billionaire Soros takes on Bush

Topic(s): 2004 Election
Date Posted: 11.11.03

Ousting president ‘central
focus of my life,’ he says 
By Laura Blumenfeld

NEW YORK, Nov. 11 —  George Soros, one of the world’s richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating President Bush.
       “IT IS THE central focus of my life,” Soros said, his blue eyes settled on an unseen target. The 2004 presidential race, he said in an interview, is “a matter of life and death.”
       Soros, who has financed efforts to promote open societies in more than 50 countries around the world, is bringing the fight home, he said. On Monday, he and a partner committed up to $5 million to, a liberal activist group, bringing to $15.5 million the total of his personal contributions to oust Bush.

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Pfc. Jessica Lynch Isn't Rambo Anymore

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 11.09.03

November 9, 2003

Ah, the dazzling pyrotechnics of "shock and awe." The finality of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue. The thrill of that re-enactment of "Top Gun." The sense of closure provided by the banner reading "Mission Accomplished." Like all wars of the TV age, the war in Iraq is not just a clash of armies, but a succession of iconic images. Those who control the images, and the narratives they encapsulate, control history. At least until a new reality crashes in.

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Jessica Lynch says military manipulated story of her ordeal

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 11.08.03


PALESTINE, W.Va. — Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch said the U.S. military was wrong to manipulate the story of her dramatic rescue and should not have filmed it in the first place.

The 20-year-old private told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a "Primetime" interview to air Tuesday that she was bothered by the military’s portrayal of her ordeal.

"They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff," she said in an excerpt from the interview, posted today on the network’s Web site.

"It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about," she said.

She also said there was no reason for her rescue from an Iraqi hospital to be filmed. "It’s wrong," she said.

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Topic(s): feminism
Date Posted: 11.06.03



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Blair could face international court over war conduct

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 11.06.03

Donald MacLeod
Thursday November 6, 2003

Government ministers, including Tony Blair, could potentially face international prosecution for war crimes over the conduct of the war in Iraq, the organiser of a legal debate into the conflict, said today.

International law experts will be picking over the government's legal case for going to war in Iraq and the way the occupation is being conducted at an all-day public debate on Saturday.

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Rene -- Sontag -- Demystifying Poliarities

Topic(s): Europe
Date Posted: 11.04.03


Literature Is Freedom part 1 & 2
by Susan Sontag; TomDispatch; October 26, 2003

[Acceptance speech upon being awarded the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade]

President Johannes Rau, Minister of the Interior Otto Schily, State Minister of Culture Christina Weiss, the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt Petra Roth, Vice-President of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer, your excellencies, other distinguished guests, honored colleagues, friends ... among them, dear Ivan Nagel:

To speak in the Paulskirche, before this audience, to receive the prize awarded in the last fifty-three years by the German Book Trade to so many writers, thinkers, and exemplary public figures whom I admire -- to speak in this history-charged place and on this occasion, is a humbling and inspiring experience. I can only the more regret the deliberate absence of the American ambassador, Mr. Daniel Coats, whose immediate refusal, in June, of the invitation from the Booksellers Association, when this year's Friedenspreis was announced, to attend our gathering here today, shows he is more interested in affirming the ideological stance and the rancorous reactiveness of the Bush administration than he is, by fulfilling a normal diplomatic duty, in representing the interests and reputation of his -- and my -- country.

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Rene -- Interviewing Mumia

Topic(s): Prisons
Date Posted: 11.04.03

Interviewing Mumia
by Hans Bennett; October 29, 2003

At the age of 15, death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was Minister of Information of the Philadelphia Black Panther Party. Later, he was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and was president when he was incarcerated in 1981. As a Philadelphia journalist reporting on the city's murderous repression of the MOVE organization, Mumia continued to be a target of the Philadelphia authorities.

Following the City of Philadelphia's 1978 assault on MOVE's Powelton Village home, Mumia used a press conference to confront Mayor Frank Rizzo. Rizzo was enraged and issued a public threat while looking at Mumia, proclaiming: "The people believe what you write and what you say-and it's got to stop! One day-and I hope it's in my career-you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do."

Recently declared an honorary citizen of Paris, France (the first time since Pablo Picasso was given that honor in the 70s), Mumia's support extends around the world.

>From death row, Mumia has recorded radio-essays and written essays exposing US military aggression, the violence of poverty, white supremacy, and much more. His fourth book written from death row has just been released: Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African American People. Mumia is a revolutionary public intellectual similar to others like Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Angela Davis, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Antonio Gramsci, Emma Goldman, or Huey P. Newton. The incarceration and attempted execution is part of the state's overall attack on the public mind and democracy.

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Naeem -- Congress Moves to Regulate Postcolonial Studies

Topic(s): Activism
Date Posted: 11.04.03

From Michael Bednar
Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin
Congress Moves to Regulate Postcolonial Studies

Oct. 20, 2003

As many of you who know me well will soon realize, I have become a
political activist for the first time in my life. I am not here to rant,
but to inform you on current legislation that is being debated in the
House of Representatives. The legislation in question, H.R. 3077, will
rewrite the Title VI legislation that has provided FLAS money to many of
us and that also funds the various area-studies centers in our
universities. In particular, the legislation proposes the creation of an
"advisory board" that may severely impact universities by dictating the
curricula taught, course materials assigned in class, and the faculty who
are hired in institutions that accept Title VI funding. It gets worse. The
U.S. House of Representative's Subcommittee on Select Education Hearing on
"International Programs in Higher Education and Questions about Bias" on
June 19, 2003
begins with an opening statement by Representative Phil Gringrey that
includes the following passage: "we are here today to learn more about a
number of programs that are authorized and funded under Title VI, which
are some of the oldest programs of support to higher education. These
programs reflect the priority placed by the federal government on
diplomacy, national security, and trade competitiveness. International
studies and education have become an increasingly important and relevant
topic of conversation and consideration in higher education...

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Flavia -- (final press release) La Biennale di Venezia

Topic(s): Art World Stuff
Date Posted: 11.04.03

ed. note:
was wondering if we should
even post this, considering it
it is a press release, but it is
interesting to see how these
big biennales try to be accountable.

La Biennale di Venezia

The 50th International Art Exhibition has come to an end

260,103 visitors

The 50th International Art Exhibtion of the Venice Biennale, directed by Francesco Bonami closed on Sunday 2nd November 2003.

The Exhibition was hosted in the Biennale Gardens, within the historical spaces of the Arsenale (Corderie, Artiglierie, Gaggiandre, Tese delle Vergini), and at the Museo Correr covering a total of 15,400 square metres of exhibition space. 380 artists were presented in the main exhibition Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer. A total of 62 nations participated in the event, and a further 19 Extra 50. exhibitions were realized.

A total of 260,103 tickets were issued, with an average of 1,806 visitors per day, which resulted in a rise of 17 % respect to the 49th Exhibition (which also had a longer duration). The total proceeds exceeded 2,390,000 Euro with an increase of +29%.

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Rene -- 100,000 call for peace at Rabin memorial rally

Date Posted: 11.04.03

Ed. Note:
Posted an articles earlier a few weeks ago on
the state of the Israeli left, this may be seen as
a follow up to that.

100,000 call for peace at Rabin memorial rally

Murdered prime minister was right, Shimon Peres tells huge Israeli
demonstration urging an end to occupation

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Monday November 3, 2003
The Guardian

A rally in memory of Yitzhak Rabin eight years after his murder turned
into the largest leftwing demonstration since Ariel Sharon came to
power as more than 100,000 people at the weekend gathered under
banners denouncing occupation and demanding peace.

Although the organisers had said that Saturday night's memorial was
intended to be non-partisan, many of those who descended on the Tel
Aviv square where the former prime minister was assassinated carried
banners demanding: "Leave the [occupied] territories - save the
country", and "Sharon go home".

Shimon Peres, the former prime minister and architect of the Oslo
peace accords with Mr Rabin, added to the political tone by telling
the crowd that the present Israeli government's emphasis on force over
negotiation had failed, and that the country would return to Mr
Rabin's vision.

"Yitzhak was right, and his path just," he said. "His views today are
clear and enduring. There will be no retreat; we will continue."

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Farris -- U.S. artists seek to rebuild Iraqi culture

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 11.02.03

U.S. artists seek to rebuild Iraqi culture

Mon October 27, 2003 02:08 AM ET
By Niala Boodhoo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Getting the music playing may not seem to be as high a priority as turning the lights back on, but in the eyes of some U.S. officials and arts groups restoring Iraq's cultural institutions is just as important to the country's rebuilding process.

Many of Iraq's cultural repositories -- not just its famed antiquities museum, but its libraries and music schools -- were ransacked, looted or otherwise damaged during and immediately after the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. State Department recently sponsored a trip to Iraq by a group of U.S. arts leaders to survey the situation. Some members of the cultural mission said they worried about Iraqi institutions facing the doubly hard task of rebuilding and learning to operate in a post-Saddam environment where government subsidies will probably not be as plentiful.

"How do we take what exists in Iraq, how we fortify those institutions, how do we fortify the schools that teach music and art, how do we fortify regional arts organisations and what holes are left?" said Michael Kaiser, president of Washington's Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

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Rene -- (Zizek) -- Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917

Topic(s): BookReview
Date Posted: 11.02.03

Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917 (Part I)
Slavoj Zizek
Michael Gretz
Monday, December 23 2002, 01:40 PM

The Slovenian philosopher, psychoanalyst, social critic and occasional politician, Slavoj Zizek, described by his publisher Verso as the "giant of Llubljana", has written yet another—his 5th by my count in 3 years—ambitious book. However, this time his Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917, contains—what Zizek himself describes as one of Jacques Lacan's most important conceptual achievements—a "supplement", an inexorable "excess". Sandwiched in between Zizek's eight page introduction and his 144 page Afterword, entitled "Lenin's Choice," are 149 pages of Vladimir Lenin's most important writings from 1917. What is the purpose of republishing these writings, readily available elsewhere, in this context? What possible lessons do the master revolutionary's writings have for us post-modern subjects today? Or perhaps the more germane way to pose the question is what role do they play in the context of Zizek's exercise in this book? Are we to appreciate Lenin's writings on their own, situated in their immanent context? Or are we supposed to see in them some radical kernel from which the meaning of Zizek's own project can be seen to emerge? One needs to read the entire book for the integrated nature of the three constitutive parts (Introduction, Lenin' essays, Zizek's Afterword) to reveal itself.

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Rene -- Toni Negri in the face of the US's warmongering

Topic(s): Negri/Hardt
Date Posted: 11.02.03

Toni Negri in the face of the US's warmongering
Is it the 'empire' or else imperialism?

By Juan Chingo and Aldo Santos

The massive attacks against the WTC and the Pentagon back on September 11, 2001 and its aftermath -particularly, the growing interventionism and "unilateralism" of the US's foreign policy- has raised an intense debate among the intellectuals and all the strands of politics worldwide. Many old (and not so old) ideas are being put to the harsh test of the new events. Toni Negri's views -one of the most outstanding Autonomist thinkers-, which were outlined in his book Empire, are also facing a litmus test now. We took issue with his views in an earlier issue of this journal. (1)
In an interview published in the Italian daily Il Manifesto, on September 14, Negri sets out his point of view on the turn in America's foreign policy in the wake of the blasts. He also puts forward some political alternatives to challenge the reactionary offensive launched by the US government. In Negri's views, the attacks confirmed that: 'If New York could be bombed just as London, Berlin or Tokyo could…, a new global order [i.e., the 'Empire'] had come to life fully'. However, the American backlash would be a turn about in the situation. That 'is taking the shape of a contrary and regressive backlash with regards to the imperial tendency. A counter-drive, a violent imperialist backlash both within and against the Empire…' (2)
Can we say that S11 has completely confirmed that the 'Empire' has already climaxed? Furthermore, is the imperialist reaction unleashed by the American government at odds with the 'imperial tendency'? A correct answer to these questions is a key issue, since they should enable us to raise a correct policy to fight back Bush's offensive.

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Rene -- Empire or Imperialism?

Topic(s): Negri/Hardt
Date Posted: 11.02.03

Empire or Imperialism?
A debate with Giovanni Arrighi's "Long Twentieth Century"
and Michael Hardt's and Toni Negri's "Empire"
By Juan Chingo and Gustavo Dunga

The changes within world capitalism in the last thirty years since the end of the postwar boom have brought a significant theoretical discussion about both their scope and characteristics, and also their consequences for the prospects outlined by revolutionary Marxism. Thus, in the view of many contemporary thinkers, the globalisation of capitalist production and the world market have brought to life a new situation and a historical turn-about. This is the case with Toni Negri, autonomism's main theoretician, who upholds such views in his latest book, Empire, co-authored with Michael Hardt. They define the latter as the globalisation's new political order. Contrariwise, other theoreticians belonging to the school of historical sociology of the world system argue that, ever since its beginnings, capitalism has always operated as a world economy, thus rejecting the novelty of globalisation as a mere misinterpretation of history. One of the most notorious spokespersons of this strand is Giovanni Arrighi, who in the mid 90s went on to publish The Long Twentieth Century, a work where he poses such view. Such theoretical orientations challenge, from different angles, the classical definition of imperialism, such as it was formulated by Lenin and upheld by revolutionary Marxists in the bygone twentieth century.
The significance of this debate lies in the fact that the new developments call forth a reappraisal of the political, economical and social events, as a way to validate the Marxist categories that have been hammered out to grapple with the former. Regardless the changed situation, the current debate resembles the bustling theoretical and intellectual polemic that took place inside the international socialist movement -and also beyond it-, as free- concurrence capitalism grew into imperialism in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. In the light of these new debates, new fundamentals questions for historical materialism and dialectics arise, to be able to grapple with the new challenges posed by the complex reality of the world and the new century. Such was Lenin's approach, who took up the categories of dialectics to respond to the complex new questions which had arisen out of the new phase of capitalism- the Great War among them. Lenin did not confine himself to a scholastic repetition of Marxist categories. Instead, he applied them to the new reality in a creative manner, taking on board -albeit in a critical fashion- insights furnished by his adversaries and co thinkers, such as Hilferding or Kautky, and even by bourgeois liberal ideologues such as Hobson, while ridding them of the reformist overtones infused by their authors. In Lenin's view, it was a matter of putting together those breakthroughs, building them into a new set-up that should highlight the revolutionary potential enshrined within the new epoch then unfolding before his eyes.

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Rene -- Silenced Witnesses

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 11.01.03

Silenced Witnesses

Thursday, October 30, 2003

In a seven-week period this spring, two overseas observers were killed by the
Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, and a third left brain dead. But has the
truth yet been told?

by John Sweeney

James Miller taught my children to surf. Together, the two of us went
to Kosovo, Chechnya and Zimbabwe. He was funny, decent to the core,
a genius behind the camera lens. Together, we celebrated winning a
Royal Television Society gong by having one shandy too many. I fell
into an argument with an irritating cove in a penguin suit. James
stepped in, threatening to take said cove outside and sort him out. At
which point, some PR floozie whispered in my ear: "Do you know who
that is?" No. "It's the head of ITV." Don't watch it much anyway.
James and I had so much fun and, occasionally, we did the work.

I was in Baghdad when I heard the news. He had been shot in Rafah,
at the fag-end of the Gaza Strip, and was dead.

I phoned his widow Sophy immediately, and wept buckets. When the BBC
decided to investigate James's killing, they asked me to report for
the film. I couldn't say no.

James was not the first international witness to fall silent in
Rafah. He was the third. This spring, in less than seven weeks, and
within a radius of less than three miles, the American human-shield
activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer;
the British photographer and peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot in
the head and rendered brain-dead; and James Miller was shot dead.

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