Bidrohi -- Pepper Spray, mass arrests, police brutality in NYC
Compliments of Shobak Bidrohi -- Pepper Spray, mass arrests, police brutality in NYC PHOTO: Police Attack Protesters at Public Library http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/109998/index.php PHOTO: 34th Street, Police Block Off http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/110020/index.php PHOTO: Ground Zero arrests http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/110014/index.php "They're arresting everybody" http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/109978/index.php PHOTO: FOX News...
Jesal -- Naomi Klein -- Bring Najaf to New York
Bring Najaf to New York
By Naomi Klein, The Nation. Posted August 27, 2004.
There is only one chance for Americans to express their wholehearted rejection of the ongoing war on Iraq: in the streets outside the Republican National Convention.
I've been in New York a week now, watching the city prepare for the Republican National Convention and the accompanying protests. Much is predictable: tabloid hysteria about an anarchist siege; cops showing off their new crowd control toys; fierce debates about whether the demonstrations will hurt the Republicans or inadvertently help them.
What surprises me is what isn't here: Najaf. It's nowhere to be found. Every day, US bombs and tanks move closer to the sacred Imam Ali Shrine, reportedly damaging outer walls and sending shrapnel flying into the courtyard; every day, children are killed in their homes as US soldiers inflict collective punishment on the holy city; every day, more bodies are disturbed as US Marines stomp through the Valley of Peace cemetery, their boots slipping into graves as they use tombstones for cover.
Sure, the fighting in Najaf makes the news, but not in any way connected to the election. Instead it's relegated to the status of a faraway intractable ethnic conflict, like Afghanistan, Sudan or Palestine. Even within the antiwar movement, the events in Najaf are barely visible. The "handover" has worked: Iraq is becoming somebody else's problem. It's true that war is at the center of the election campaign – just not the one in Iraq. The talk is all of what happened on Swift boats 35 years ago, not what is being dropped out of US AC-130 gunships this week.
EI -- Palestinian prisoner hunger strike continues, despite Israeli repression
Palestine / Israel
Palestinian prisoner hunger strike continues, despite Israeli repression
Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 26 August 2004
In Nafha prison (pictured above), prisoners are moved around from one cell to the other every couple of days.
Over 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners are currently participating in a hunger strike to protest their detention conditions and treatment by Israeli prison authorities. These include demands for public phones, the removal of partitions that separate inmates from visiting family members, and a halt to strip searches. They are also demanding the right to be able to hold their children during visits.
The protest is a non-political action aimed at securing conditions consistent with basic standards of humanity for Palestinian prisoners. Since the beginning of the current Intifada Israeli prison authorities have implemented a number of policies that violate basic standards for the treatment of prisoners.
Israeli prison authorities have resorted to new measures to end the open hunger strike that entered its 11th day today. Lawyers of the Palestinian Prisoners Society reported, after calling on a number of strikers in Hadarim, Bir Sheva, and Eilon prisons, that Israeli authorities were deliberately creating confusion among prisoners through constant movement of a big number of inmates from one ward to another and from prison to another.
Avi -- Forbidden Roads: The Discriminatory West Bank Road Regime
Palestine / Israel
Forbidden Roads: The Discriminatory West Bank Road Regime
B'Tselem's report deals with one of the primary, albeit lesser known, elements of Israel's restrictions on Palestinian movement in the Occupied Territories: the prohibition on Palestinian travel along certain roads in the West Bank.
The forbidden roads regime is a slippery policy, in part because its rules and regulations have never been set in writing: not in Knesset legislation, nor in decisions of the political echelon, nor in military orders, nor in press releases, nor even in road signs warning Palestinians that their travel on a road is prohibited or restricted. The regime is based on verbal orders given to soldiers, and in practices that the IDF has employed in the West Bank since the current intifada began.
Avi -- Applying the Geneva Convention
Palestine / Israel
Applying the Geneva Convention
By Meron Benvenisti
The veteran guardians of the wall, who are called at all times to rally round the hasbara flag when the enemy once again brings up the anti-Israel canard regarding the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the occupied territories, could not believe their eyes. One of them, who had made a glorious career rebutting the legal propaganda of Israel-haters, said frankly on the radio, "I was sure I had misunderstood what was written in the newspaper."
Good Lord! The attorney general has proposed to the cabinet an "in-depth examination" on the application of the convention to the territories. A major explosion threatens to bring down a giant, complex and twisted legal construct, which for more than 40 years was put together carefully and creatively, deceitfully, and through a Byzantine conspiracy of silence and intentional ambiguity, casuistry and winks all around.
Suddenly, the Israel government's top legal advisor admits that the Israel-haters may have been right - the legislative and legal system that determined, and determines, the lives and fates of millions, and which provided the legal underpinnings for the de-facto annexation of the territories and the establishment of the settlements and the fence, is illegal in terms of international law.
The international community, except for a negligible minority, rejected Israel's position that the Geneva Convention does not apply to the territories because they were not conquered from a sovereign country. The international community has not even allowed Israel to hide behind the legal fiction that it recognizes the de facto, but not the de jure application of the convention.
The government of Israel and the High Court of Justice have reached a silent agreement. The government will not argue the non-application of the convention, and the court will not rule. A herd of elephants has thundered through this needle's eye, in the form of thousands of orders that have determined the fate of two generations of Palestinians and changed the face of the West Bank and Gaza.
Veronica -- What Happens Next?
Where we once had "choice" ...
September 21, 2001
What Happens Next?
Six options beyond war and peace
By Jesse Walker
When the military prepares for action, the public debate is usually a simple either/or: Will there be peace, or will there be war? Not so now. Fresh from the
bloody assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there are at least six choices before us, each with its own subgenres and mutant variations. None is perfect, and one is actually insane. But each is worth examining, if only to
understand what people actually mean when they call for war, peace, or some other path they can't quite articulate.
Here, then, are our choices, beginning with the least violent and ending with the most:
Darfur: A repeat of Rwanda?
Darfur: A repeat of Rwanda?
By Paul Welsh
BBC world affairs correspondent
The situation in Sudan has sometimes been compared to that of Rwanda 10 years ago. But is anything on that scale happening in the Darfur region of Sudan?
The US Congress has called it genocide, and the United Nations gave the government 30 days to help the people and stop helping the Janjaweed militia, who have been blamed for the worst of the atrocities.
Ten years ago in public, the world's powers were struggling to decide whether Rwanda's massacres were genocide or war.
In reality, they already knew but did not want to get involved.
A few weeks into the crisis, a US defence department document marked "secret" said this: "Be careful, 'genocide' finding could commit the US government to actually do something."
Still smarting after its disastrous intervention in Somalia, America wanted to stay out of Rwanda at all costs.
"Nobody feels the blood nor the sin of it all," said General Romeo Dallaire, former commander of a small United Nations force in Rwanda. He did not have the manpower or the orders to intervene.
He sees history repeating itself in Sudan and says intervention is already late.
Rene -- John Kerry, the Enlightened Hawk
DEMOCRATIC DEFENCE POLICY FOR THE UNITED STATES
John Kerry, the Enlightened Hawk
Le Monde diplomatique
The continuing mess in Iraq is beginning to damage George Bush's
popularity at home, but just how different from Bush's Republican
defence and foreign policies are those of John Kerry, who is his
Democratic challenger in this year's presidential election?
By Michael Klare
Since the Vietnam war the Democratic party has favoured extensive
social programmes at home and vigorous peacemaking abroad, while the
Republicans have advocated a tough military posture plus limits on
domestic spending. But since 11 September 2001 there has arrived a new
breed of Democrat: an enlightened hawk who seeks to neutralise the
Bush administration's perceived advantage in security by advocating a
more aggressive campaign against terrorism and nuclear
proliferation. Prominent among the Democratic hawks is the
presidential candidate John Kerry.
Senator Kerry first demonstrated his commitment to this muscular
approach in his presidential campaign announcement on 2 September
2003. While previous Democratic candidates might have chosen a
childcare centre or industrial plant as a backdrop, Kerry picked a
martial setting: the berth of a giant aircraft carrier. With the USS
Yorktown towering above, Kerry signalled that a tough stance on
military policy would be a distinctive feature of his candidacy: "We
will defend our national security and maintain a military that is the
strongest armed force on earth." And if a moment came when it was
necessary to use force against terrorists, "I will not hesitate to do
Since then Kerry has reaffirmed these commitments and even criticised
President George Bush for being weak on defence - an unprecedented
move for a Democratic candidate. "George Bush inherited the strongest
military in the world and he has weakened it," Kerry said. "Far too
often, troops have been going into harm's way without the weapons and
the equipment they depend on to do their jobs safely." Kerry
criticised Bush for failing to adopt a vigorous, comprehensive
strategy to combat terrorism: "I don't fault George Bush for doing too
much in the war on terror: I believe he's done too little" (2).
Aniruddha -- How Bush gutted Federal Regulations
AniruddhaThree articles laying out, in great detail, the way the Bush administration
has destroyed the regulatory process in this country: Long, but worth the read
1: Bush Forces a Shift In Regulatory Thrust. OSHA Made More Business-Friendly
2: Using 'Data Quality' as a tool to attack the scientific basis of all
3: How changing one word: 'Waste' to 'Fill' allowed new indiscriminate coal
mining in the Appalachians
Truthout -- Chavez Victory: Defeat for Bush Policy
Chavez Victory: Defeat for Bush Policy
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 20 August 2004
The Bush administration is gritting its collective teeth at the outcome of Sunday’s recall election in Venezuela, which overwhelmingly affirmed President Hugo Chavez’s tenure. If President Jimmy Carter had not lent his enormous credibility to the election results, Bush and his minions would surely be crying foul in unison with the opposition.
Chavez was popularly elected by his countrymen and women in 1998 and 2000. Yet in spite of Bush’s claims to support democracy around the world, his administration has given succor those trying to overthrow Chavez’s government before, during and since the aborted coup in April 2002.
Officials at the Organization of American States affirmed that the Bush administration had sanctioned the coup. Bush’s then-Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich, met with leaders of the coup for months before it was executed. Elliot Abrams, one of the neoconservative policymakers in Bush’s inner circle, approved the coup, according to the London Observer. And John Negroponte, now our ambassador to Iraq, was in on it, too.
Reich, Abrams and Negroponte comprised the troika that administered the “Reagan doctrine” in the 1980s, which supported vicious dictatorships in Central America, including those in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
As documented in the film, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Chavez was forcibly removed from the presidential palace on April 11, 2002 by forces acting on behalf of Venezuela’s propertied class. Pedro Carmona, head of Venezuela’s confederation of business and industry, declared himself president. Within hours, Carmona purported to repeal laws enacted under Chavez that the executives of foreign oil companies opposed.
Rene -- The View from Tehran Avenue
The View from Tehran Avenue
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC 25 YEARS ON
Le Monde diplomatique
By Wendy Kristianasen
Iranians might be going to the polls to cast their votes in
parliamentary elections on February 20. But how many of Tehran's young
voters will take part? The feeling in the city is one of alienation.
Disenchantment with the political system is complete.
Noushin is 22 and a journalist with a cool culture e-magazine, Tehran
Avenue; she was 16 when Mohammad Khatami became president on 22 May
1997, swept into office by 20m of the 30m votes cast by an electorate
of 33m. His dovvom-e khordad reform movement was premised on civil
society, rule of law and freedom of expression. During his campaign he
had spoken of the particular need to meet the aspirations of youth and
women. The reformists' victory was repeated in the municipal and
parliamentary elections of 1999 and 2000, and in Khatami's re-election
in June 2001with more than 77% of the votes.
But for Tehran's youth nothing really changed. Noushin says: "This
regime has been able to play on people's vulnerabilities like
religion, fear of God, superstition. In my parents' day some people
liked the idea of going back to tradition, but most felt they'd got
more than they'd bargained for. Growing up, we saw our parents'
reactions to all this and became even more confused than they were
about what's right and wrong. People began to reject politics as a big
"And what was new in 1997 got boring because nothing changed. I grew
up with some interest in politics. But everyone younger than me is
completely uninterested and blames the Islamic Republic. We've all
become diplomats: you play by the rules to get things done."
Before the 1990s only a tiny minority, those who were able to study
abroad, had any contact with the West. Then came satellite dishes and
the internet. The West gushed in, filling the young with new
impressions. Noushin says: "America is a symbol of freedom. Everyone
wants to go and live there, or just to go there and have fun. It's a
mixture of people from different backgrounds and its ruling system
isn't imposed on you. And people are more accepting there than they
are in Europe, where we feel like strangers." The Iranian regime's
views on the United States have made it even more an object of desire.
What about daily life? On the street the coffee shop is the most
important venue where boys and girls can meet openly outside the home,
in groups or couples. "That's only in Tehran," says Behrang
gloomily. He failed to get into Tehran University and is pursuing his
veterinary studies in Tabriz (1). Tehran's revolutionary
law-enforcers, such as the basiji, have lightened up over the past two
years. Boys who want to be cool wear their hair long; girls push the
Islamic dress code to the limit: a scarf, a tunic (manteau) over
trousers. The approach is everything - chadors may be black, but black
is also the preferred colour for girls who like to wear their tunics
short and tight. Near the centre of town, in Motahari Avenue, I
spotted one in highestt of high heeled bright orange shoes, orange
handbag, minimal orange scarf and the tightest, shortest manteau,
barely covering her bottom. With bright orange lips to match. A
defiant statement of self.
Rene -- Said -- THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE OR OF THE SCHOLARS?
THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE OR OF THE SCHOLARS?
Eloquent, Elegant Arabic
Le Monde diplomatique
Should Arabic be reformed by using the elitist classical language
instead of colloquial tongue? That idea fails to appreciate how the
daily experience of living in Arabic is echoed in the everyday
language of the street.
By Edward W Said
The speaking and writing of Arabic is thought of as controversial,
especially in the United States. This is mostly for ideological
reasons that have nothing to do with the way the language is lived,
used and experienced by native speakers. I don't know where this idea
of Arabic as a language essentially expressing blood-curdling and
incomprehensible violence comes from. But surely all those 1940s-50s
Hollywood screen villains in turbans who snarl at their victims with
sadistic relish have something to do with it, as does the fixation on
terrorism in the US media to the exclusion of everything else.
Rhetoric and eloquence in the Arab literary tradition go back a
millennium, to Abbasid writers such as Al-Jahiz and Al-Jurjani, who
devised complex schemes that seem startlingly modern for understanding
rhetoric, eloquence and tropes. But all their work is based on
classical written rather than demotic spoken Arabic. Written Arabic is
dominated by the presence of the Qu'ran, which is both origin and
model for everything linguistic that comes after it.
This needs some explanation. It is an unfamiliar idea to users of
modern European languages, in which there is a rough correspondence
between spoken and literary versions and where scripture has lost all
its verbal authority. All Arabs have a spoken colloquial language that
varies considerably between one region or country and another. I grew
up in a family whose spoken language was an amalgam of what was common
in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria: there were small variations between
those three dialects - enough for a resident of the mashriq, as the
Eastern Mediterranean Arab lands are known, to identify another as
coming from, say, Beirut or Jerusalem, but never enough to prevent
easy, direct communication.
Rene -- 2 Articles on Georgia + S. O
a. Georgia makes Russia Face Difficult Choices in S. Ossetia
b. Rumsfeld intervention rescues pipeline
GEORGIA MAKES RUSSIA FACE DIFFICULT CHOICES IN SOUTH OSSETIA
Politkom.ru web site, Moscow
13 Aug 04
Russia's involvement in the South Ossetian conflict has driven Russia
into a corner, a Russian web site has said. Forced to choose between
surrendering South Ossetia or repulsing Georgia Russia faces either a
deterioration in its relations with the West or the disenchantment of
its already few partners. In the meantime the Georgian leadership is
attempting to give the impression that South Ossetia and Russia may be
sat down at the negotiating table only with the assistance of the
United States and West Europe and that OSCE observers should replace
Russian peacekeepers in the zone of conflict. The following is the
text of report by Russian Politkom.ru web site on 13 August/
Subheadings added editorially.
Several hours after the entirely successful completion of the
negotiations between Georgian Defence Minister Giorgi Baramidze and
Giorgi Khandrava, state minister of Georgia for conflict settlement,
and Sergey Ivanov, head of Russia's Ministry of Defence, the Georgians
began intensive shelling of Tskhinvali and the commitment of heavy
equipment to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area. Tskhinvali was
shelled by mortars, which were later joined by artillery. According
to residents of the city, the latest night-time shelling compelled
recollections of what happened in South Ossetia at the start of the
1990s. In response, the South Ossetian military, executing an order
issued a week ago by the president of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoiti,
opened return fire on the Georgian positions and heavy equipment.
Georgia seeks international involvement in South Ossetia
As a result, the first dead and dozens of wounded appeared on both
sides, apartment houses were destroyed not only on the outskirts but
also in the centre of Tskhinvali, and a kindergarten and the republic
hospital, the children's wing of which had to be transferred to
basement premises, were casualties. According to the Georgian news
media, several buildings, including a village school, were destroyed
in the course of the shelling of the Georgian villages of Kurta,
Tamarasheni, and Eredvi.
Judging by how strenuously Georgia's Rustavi-2 television worked the
PR aspect of this episode, the Georgians achieved the required effect:
it was not for nothing that illegal Georgian elements and their
attached equipment were deployed in the yards of schools situated in
Georgian villages. All in all, we have to say that Georgian television
took full advantage of the night-time firing to crank up the
proposition concerning the need for a build-up of the Georgian
presence in the conflict area. It was this, in any event, that was
being demanded by the population of the Georgian villages in the
reporting, which Georgian television stations were running all day.
Against this background Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili put the
blame for the escalation of the conflict on some "bandit elements,"
which, "under the cover of darkness, attempted to seize a bypass
leading to the Georgian villages and to occupy these villages with the
aim of driving the peaceful Georgian population out of them". This
wording may easily be read as "genocide of the Georgian population".
Truthout -- Support for Chavez Unwavering in Slums of Venezuelan Capital
Support for Chavez Unwavering in Slums of Venezuelan Capital
By Ken Silverstein
Los Angles Times
Monday 16 August 2004
CARACAS, Venezuela — The rich hate him, saying he has stirred up class warfare. The privately owned media, closely aligned with his political opponents, pillory him daily as an enemy of democracy. And the Bush administration, which supported those who briefly overthrew him in 2002, describes him as a dangerous leftist.
But in the shantytowns here in the capital, President Hugo Chavez is revered as a national savior.
"Our hope is with Chavez," said Carlos Contreras, who urged residents to support the president in Sunday's recall vote. "All of our other presidents promised to help the poor, but he's the first one who has kept his word."
Chavez's support is concentrated among the poor, who make up a majority of this country's 25 million people. The soaring price of oil, a major export, has flooded the national treasury, allowing the government to spend heavily on social programs and fund what Chavez calls a "Revolution for the Poor."
Like many in the winding, hillside shantytown of brick-and-tin shacks in Catia district, Contreras has no steady work. He owns a truck and occasionally is hired as a mover or for other odd jobs.
Even so, he said life had improved dramatically since Chavez was elected in 1998. From a spot that offers a sweeping view of the neighborhood, Contreras pointed to a new health clinic staffed by Cuban doctors. The government has also opened several nearby markets that sell subsidized food to the poor.
There are new literacy programs, and Contreras, who is 47 and hadn't studied beyond third grade, now attends a school built by the government. He hopes to earn a high school degree.
Naeem -- Tariq Ali on anti-neoliberalism in Latin America
From Green Left Weekly
August 11, 2004.
Claudia Jardim and Jonah Gindin spoke to veteran political activist and author Tariq Ali, during his recent trip to Caracas, about Venezuela and Latin
American resistance to US neoliberalism.
How do you explain the explosion in social movements against neoliberalism in Latin America?
I think the reason for this is that Latin America was used as a laboratory by the United States for a long, long time. When Washington wanted to crush popular
movements by unleashing military dictatorships, it did it in Latin America first: in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Then, [the US government] got Latin America in
a grip economically, and said "this is the only way forward". The laboratory of the American Empire is the first to rebel against the empire.
Chile under the rule of General Augusto Pinochet, then Brazil under President Fernando Cardoso and Argentina under successive governments, were de-industrialised. [These rulers] thought that their countries could function in an economic bubble created by a false boom, largely fuelled by foreign money coming into banks where there were low interest rates.
Whenever the investments got risky, [international investors] would pull out. They had absolutely no motivation for building Brazil or Argentina -- so you
gradually began to have the rise of new social movements from below: peasant movements, landless peasant movements, unemployed working-class movements that began to challenge this, initially in villages, in one town, in one locality, in one region. And then gradually it began to spread. The result was continent-wide protests.
You had an uprising in Cochabamba in Bolivia against the privatisation of water. You had a struggle of the peasants of Cuzco in Peru, against the privatisation
of electricity. On both struggles, the government made repression its first response, and then had to retreat. Then you had an unbelievable collapse in Argentina, where within three weeks four or five presidents came and fell. That began to demonstrate very graphically the crisis of neoliberal capitalism. In Brazil, Cardoso had de-industrialised the country completely. There was no national bourgeoisie left, there were no national traditions within the capitalist sphere left, and the country began to suffer.
Rene -- Jean Baudrillard -- The mind of terrorism
Jean Baudrillard -- The mind of terrorism
We have Lad plenty of global events in recent years, from the death of Diana to the World Cup, a well as plenty of violent and real events, from wars to genocides. But a symbolic event global in reach--an event that is not only broadcast worldwide but that threatens globalization itself-had not yet occurred. For the length of the stagnant nineties, in the words of Argentine writer Macedonio Fernandez, "events were on strike." Well, the strike is over. Events are back at work. With the attack on the World Trade Center, we have now witnessed the ultimate event, the mother of all events, an event so pure it contains within it all the events that never took place.
All the speeches and commentaries made since September 11 betray a gigantic post-traumatic abreaction both to the event itself and to the fascination that it exerts. The moral condemnation anti the sacred union against terrorism are directly proportional to the prodigious jubilation felt at having seen this global superpower destroyed, because it was this insufferable superpower that gave rise both to the violence now spreading throughout the world and to the terrorist imagination that (without our knowing it) dwells within us all.
That the entire world without exception had dreamed of this event, that nobody could help but dream the destruction of so powerful a hegemon-this fact is unacceptable to the moral conscience of the West, and yet it is a fact nonetheless, a fact that resists the emotional violence of all the rhetoric conspiring to erase it.
Rene -- Jean Baudrillard -- The Spirit of Terrorism.
I am not sure if a translated version of this text ever made it on our website, but again, thought a few folks would appreciate it - rg
Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism.
Translated by Dr. Rachel Bloul.
Le Monde 2 November 2001.
In footnotes: personal comments to remind me to think about these points when later analyzing the piece. In italics, details about not-quite-direct translations.
We have had many global events from Diana's death to the World Cup, or even violent and real events from wars to genocides. But not one global symbolic event, that is an event not only with global repercussions, but one that questions the very process of globalization. All through the stagnant 90s, there has been "la greve des evenements" (literally "an events strike", translated from a phrase of the Argentino writer Macedonio Fernandez). Well, the strike is off. We are even facing, with the World Trade Center & New York hits, the absolute event, the "mother" of events, the pure event which is the essence of all the events that never happened.
Not only are all history and power plays disrupted, but so are the conditions of analysis. One must take one's time. For as long as events were at a standstill, one had to anticipate and overcome them. But when they speed up, one must slow down; without getting lost under a mass of discourses and the shadow of war ("nuage de la guerre": literally clouds announcing war), and while keeping undiminished the unforgettable flash of images.
All the speeches and commentaries betray a gigantic abreaction to the event itself and to the fascination that it exerts. Moral condemnation and the sacred union against terrorism are equal to the prodigious jubilation engendered by witnessing this global superpower being destroyed; better, by seeing it more or less self-destroying, even suiciding spectacularly. Though it is (this superpower) that has, through its unbearable power, engendered all that violence brewing around the world, and therefore this terrorist imagination which — unknowingly — inhabits us all.
Rene -- McKenzie Wark -- The Gulf War Did Not Take Place
I know this is old news for many, but ran into this and thought it would be of interest to folks on the list - rg
The Gulf War Did Not Take Place/McKenzie Wark
28 July 1995
This is a true story. Only the names have been changed -- to protect the guilty. I'm in a bar in Fremantle talking to a couple of humanities academics. I caually mention that I'm reading Paul Patton's translation of Jean Baudrillard's The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. One of my colleagues launches into a tirade about how immoral it is for Baudrillard to claim the war did not 'take place' when so many people got killed there. The other attacks Baudrillard for talking about 'simularca', as if war had disappeared into a virtual realm when clearly war is proof positive that real things still happen in the real world.
But when I ask these earnest defenders of the moral and real whether they had read the original French or in Paul Patton's excellent English translation, the answer was -- neither. They were talking about a simulacrum of Baudrillard's book, not the 'real thing'. Neither had read it -- but they seemed as sure of what 'takes place' in its pages as they were of the reality of the beer they quaffed or the war they watched -- on television. It is precisely this mystery, of how signs float free from things and lose their anchorings in the certainty of reference, that is Baudrillard's obsession.
Baudrillard is a much misunderstood writer. He is not a social theorist. He has nothing to do with postmodernism. He has to be understood as an inheritor of the stoical thought of someone like Seneca, and of a long line of essayists and aphorists such as Montaigne, Gracian, Lictenberg, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Cioran, and above all Canetti. He may use Freud or critical theory or anthropology as he pleases, but that is not where his heart is.
F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers
F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York.
F.B.I. officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence. They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not dissent, at major political events.
But some people contacted by the F.B.I. say they are mystified by the bureau's interest and felt harassed by questions about their political plans.
"The message I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.' ''
The unusual initiative comes after the Justice Department, in a previously undisclosed legal opinion, gave its blessing to controversial tactics used last year by the F.B.I in urging local police departments to report suspicious activity at political and antiwar demonstrations.
Rene -- VENEZUELA FLORIDATED
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Will The Gang That Fixed Florida Fix the Vote in Caracas this Sunday?
by Greg Palast
Hugo Chavez drives George Bush crazy. Maybe it's jealousy: Unlike
Mr. Bush, Chavez, in Venezuela, won his Presidency by a majority of
Or maybe it's the oil: Venezuela sits atop a reserve rivaling
Iraq's. And Hugo thinks the US and British oil companies that pump the
crude ought to pay more than a 16% royalty to his nation for the
stuff. Hey, sixteen percent isn't even acceptable as a tip at a New
Whatever it is, OUR President has decided that THEIR president has to
go. This is none too easy given that Chavez is backed by Venezuela's
poor. And the US oil industry, joined with local oligarchs, has made
sure a vast majority of Venezuelans remain poor.
Therefore, Chavez is expected to win this coming Sunday's recall
vote. That is, if the elections are free and fair.
They won't be. Some months ago, a little birdie faxed to me what
appeared to be confidential pages from a contract between John
Ashcroft's Justice Department and a company called ChoicePoint, Inc.,
of Atlanta. The deal is part of the War on Terror.
Rene -- Film May Be Man's Ticket Out of 'Terminal'
John wrote a review of the documentary a year or two ago about Mehran, but nothing was posted about the Spielberg film which actually stars Tom Hanks as an Eastern European traveler, instead of an Iranian. -rg
Film May Be Man's Ticket Out of 'Terminal'
By ELAINE GANLEY
.c The Associated Press
ROISSY, France (AP) - He has no address but his mail arrives just the
same. The pharmacy takes his phone calls and the cluster of fast food
restaurants assures a steady flow of food, handouts included.
Mehran Karimi Nasseri, for years a stateless person, inhabits a
Kafkaesque world. A perpetual passenger stuck in transit, he has lived
in Terminal 1 of Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport for the past 16
But change is afoot. His quirky story inspired Steven Spielberg's
movie ``The Terminal'' starring Tom Hanks. It put money in Mehran's
pocket and could be the ticket to a new life - if he chooses.
``Here, it's not life. It's just staying like a passenger and waiting
for departure,'' said Mehran, who goes by the name Alfred Mehran.
``To be here is just like being in transit.''
Gaunt and mustachioed, Mehran, 59, of British and Iranian parents, has
ceded the rights to his story to Spielberg, according to the office of
Mehran's lawyer, Christian Bourguet.
The price of the deal was confidential, the lawyer's office said.
Mehran claimed the deal with Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG was worth
$450,000 and said it covers eventual books, television shows and
movies over a 10-year period. Despite several calls to DreamWorks, the
information could not immediately be confirmed.
``They have access to my life story,'' said Mehran.
Rene -- Disneyworld Baghdad: Dungeons to detention camps
Disneyworld Baghdad: Dungeons to detention camps
Stephen Smith, Electronic Iraq
6 August 2004
Borrowing from French critic Jean Baudrillard, Iraq and its symbol in Abu Ghraib has become "Disneyworld Baghdad." Here we can draw an analogy to his well-known view of Disneyland.
Disneyland is there to conceal the fact that it is the "real" country, all of "real" America... Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real...It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle. 
Abu Ghraib was said to be a grotesque world run by a few "bad apples" in order to make us believe that true respect for human rights exists outside. Confining the images of abuse within the prison walls disguises how this abuse is everywhere. As Susan Sontag observes:
"There was, first of all, the displacement of the reality on to the photographs themselves. The administration's initial response was to say that the president was shocked and disgusted by the photographs - as if the fault or horror lay in the images, not in what they depict." 
Bush also said he wanted to demolish the prison as if it was some kind of evil entity.
Rene -- CAE -- Bad Art
By Annalee Newitz, AlterNet. Posted July 28, 2004.
The current administration's anti-science stance puts innocent people at risk of being indicted on frivolous charges.
I'm still weirded out about the whole legal skirmish around Steven Kurtz, an art professor at SUNY Buffalo whose work deals with biology and bioterror. In late May, Kurtz called 911 from his home in New York because his wife had suffered a fatal heart attack. When an emergency team arrived, they saw items from Kurtz's artwork in the house – petri dishes and other things that alarmed them. So they called in the feds on suspicion of bioterrorism.
OK, it was a little bit of an overreaction but understandable under the circumstances. You go into a guy's house, his wife is dead from causes you haven't yet determined, and he's got all this strange home-brewed laboratory equipment everywhere. It's scary, and you want to make sure you're not in the middle of some garage bioterror operation.
When the feds arrived, though, things started to get hinky. First they confiscated all Kurtz's computers and art materials, along with his car and his cat. They also kept his wife's body for a week before releasing it to him. Intense but fine so far. They're doing an investigation. But when it became obvious that Kurtz was a bioartist – given his long record of writing and exhibiting on the topic, as well as the public statements of respected artists and scientists on his behalf – they should have just let the guy go. It was an understandable but unfortunate mistake, and now the guy needs to go deal with the death of his wife.
Rene -- CAE -- Buffalo case highlights MTAs
Buffalo case highlights MTAs
Material transfer agreements can be misunderstood or considered an annoyance, say officials | By Paula Park
The indictments of two US professors accused of fraud for their alleged misuse of bacteria provide a lesson to scientists that material transfer agreements (MTAs)—which many researchers consider irksome red tape—can be used against academics in court, especially in today's climate of heightened biosecurity, say attorneys and technology transfer officials.
The indictments charge that Robert Ferrell, a professor of human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, provided Steven Kurtz, an art professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo, with Serratia marcescens and Bacillus atrophaeus for use in one of Kurtz's projects for the Critical Art Ensemble. Kurtz has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Ferrell plans to plead not guilty, according to his attorney. The next hearing is scheduled for December, according to prosecutor, William J. Hochul, chief of terrorism in the US Attorney's Western New York District.
Truthout -- John Cory -- A Savage Lie
Older article, and well within this email list, nothing new, but it is compelling prose -rg
A Savage Lie
By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 22 August 2003
This war is a lie, a savage and brutal lie, but a lie nonetheless. Each day of loss and devastation forces the liars to revise the words of their deceit. And each destructive day forces a supportive supine press corps to find new ways to avert their eyes from the truth.
Pre-emptive policy is an unholy alliance having its own "axis of evil? ? greed, arrogance, and deception.
Vacations are not to be interrupted for this dime-store president and his nickel-plated cadre of fundraisers. The image of a leader heading to the White House and working in the name of peace and international stability is not as important as the drive for campaign money and supporting the theft of democracy in California and Texas and elsewhere in America. And it is that attitude that explains what is going wrong in Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and throughout the Middle East.
The bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad was a message that is falling on deaf ears. The attack was not entirely about the UN but more to warn the world that if you ally with Bush Incorporated, they cannot keep you safe. It is dangerous company to keep.
It must be clear by now that the Bush administration had little if any real plans for dealing with post-war Iraq other than to seize the oil fields and begin pumping cash to pay for their folly. The thought of resistance and rebellion does not seem to have occurred to these brilliant strategists. The steady drip-drip-drip of dead American soldiers is simply valued as the cost of doing business. The bottom line can be splattered with blood, just not red ink.
Iraq is becoming the new Vietnam for American imperialism. US troops cannot guard the borders, search and destroy the resistance, shuffle through their deck of most-wanted cards, train militia and police, provide security for humanitarian organizations and keep the Bush priority of securing the oil industry infrastructure. Oh yes, and staying alive so they can return to their families. Even Karl Rove admits the military is stretched thin according to an interview with The News Herald on Aug 13th and reported by Associated Press titled: Karl Rove Says Florida Will Be 'ground Zero' in 2004 Election
Truthout -- John Cory -- The Ghosts of War
compelling writing -rg
The Ghosts of War
By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 12 August 2004
"They say, the first casualty of war is truth. They are wrong. The first casualty of war is reality. In war, the unreal becomes real, and truth becomes a lie."
'The Ville,' John Cory
It haunts us still. Three-and-a-half decades later, America cannot stop picking the scab of Vietnam. The wound has never healed and has now grown infected and poisoned. Plato said: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
The White House could stop this Swift Boat slander, but won't. George Bush needs the venomous attacks on John Kerry to distract the media and public from the failures of his leadership, and from the growing stench of Iraq.
There are veterans of all conflicts, who fall in love with the terrible sweet beauty of war. Men who polish their armor long after the parades have faded. Their glory is not in duty, honor, and country; but in the carnival mirrors of their own warped reflections. These are veterans who march with swagger and blaring brass, like small boys struggling to be seen and heard.
There are veterans who have paid passage through the heart of darkness; who dedicate their lives to eliminating the horrors that hide behind their eyes at night, when they dream. These veterans testify to the unreal and repulsive acts of war that forever wound the soul.
And there are veterans who let it go and never look back again. Not that they forget, they simply choose not to dwell in those memories. They seek peace of mind and hope.
But war is a ghost that haunts the living. Like guilt, war is the gift that keeps on giving, to paraphrase a song.
Rene -- Negri -- Towards an Ontological Definition of Multitude
Towards an Ontological Definition of Multitude
Submitted by annett on Sun, 04/04/2004 - 17:14.
BY TONI NEGRI
1) The multitude is the name of an immanence. The multitude is a whole of singularities. On these premises we can immediately begin to trace an ontological definition of what is left of reality once the concept of the people is freed from transcendence. The way in which the concept of the people took shape within the hegemonic tradition of modernity is well known.
Hobbes, Rousseau and Hegel have, each in his own account and in different ways, produced a concept of the people starting from sovereign transcendence: in these authors' view the multitude was chaos and war. The thought of modernity operates in a twofold way on these grounds: on the one hand, it abstracts the multiplicity of singularities and, in a transcendental gesture, unifies it in the concept of the people; on the other hand, it dissolves the whole of the singularities that constitute the multitude into a mass of individuals. The modern theory of natural right, whether empirical or idealist at origin, is a theory of transcendence and of dissolution of the plane of immanence all the same. On the contrary, the theory of the multitude requires that the subjects speak for themselves, and that what is dealt with are unrepresentable singularities rather than individual proprietors.
2) The multitude is a class concept. In fact, the multitude is always productive and always in motion. When considered from a temporal point of view, the multitude is exploited in production; even from the spatial point of view, the multitude is exploited in so far as it constitutes productive society, social cooperation for production.
Rene -- Deleuze -- On Human Rights
Spectacle of civil society
The reverence that people display toward human rights -- it almost makes one want to defend horrible, terrible positions. It is so much a part of the softheaded thinking that marks the shabby period we were talking about. It's pure abstraction. Human rights, after all, what does that mean? It's pure abstraction, it's empty. It's exactly what we were talking about before about desire, or at least what I was trying to get across about desire. Desire is not putting something up on a pedestal and saying, hey, I desire this. We don't desire liberty and so forth, for example; that doesn't mean anything. We find ourselves in situations.
Take today's Armenia, a recent example. What is the situation there? If I understand correctly -- please let me know if I don't, though that's not the point either -- there's an Armenian enclave in another Soviet republic. So there's an Armenian republic, and then an enclave. Well, that's a situation. First, there's the massacre that the Turks, or the Turkic people, I'm not sure, massacre the Armenians once again, in their enclave. The Armenians take refuge in their republic -- I think, and again, please correct my errors -- and then, there, an earthquake hits. It's as if they were in the Marquis de Sade. These poor people went through the worst ordeals that they could face, and they've only just escaped into shelter when Mother Nature starts it all up again.
I mean, we say "human rights", but in the end, that's a party line for intellectuals, and for odious intellectuals, and for intellectuals without any ideas of their own. Right off the bat, I've noticed that these declarations of human rights are never done by way of the people that are primarily concerned, the Armenian associations and communities, and so on. Their problem isn't human rights. What is it?
Rene -- Iran theatre director turned prison boss wins praise
editorial note: PR job, yes, but still interesting - rg
FEATURE-Iran theatre director turned prison boss wins praise
By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Putting a former theatre director in charge
of a detention centre for hardened young criminals might seem a bold
For Iran, where prison directors tend to have military backgrounds and
human rights activists say abuse of detainees is rife, it is nothing
short of revolutionary.
But the once run-down and violent Tehran Juvenile Correction and
Rehabilitation Centre has undergone a sea-change since Mansour
Moqarehabed took charge six years ago, winning praise from
international observers and local rights groups.
Blending unorthodox methods -- one involves taking a depressed inmate
for a night out in the city -- with an emphasis on trust and
participation, Moqarehabed has even won over sceptical colleagues
accustomed to a more robust approach.
"There was some resistance from the staff here at first and they used
to say it had become the kids' kingdom and that I was too kind to
them," he told Reuter during a visit to the centre in northwestern
Nettime -- txt messaging meets political protest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2004
PROTESTORS AT DNC RELIED ON NEW TXT MESSAGING SERVICE; BIG PLANS FOR RNC
Protestors at last week's Democratic National Convention had a new tool in
their arsenal - a text messaging service designed just for them. "TXTMob,"
as the service is called, allows users to quickly and easily broadcast
text messages to groups of cellphones. The system works much like an
electronic b-board: users subscribe to various lists, and receive messages
directly on their phones.
During the DNC, protest organizers used TXTMob to provide activists with
up-to-the minute information about police movements and direct actions.
Medical and legal support groups also used TXTMob to dispatch personnel
and resources as the situation demanded. According to TXTMob developer
John Henry, over 200 protestors used the service during the DNC.
Rene -- Gypsies Remember Their Dead at Auschwitz
Gypsies Remember Their Dead at Auschwitz
By TONY CZUCZKA
.c The Associated Press
OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) - Gypsies from across Europe gathered at
Auschwitz Monday to remember hundreds of thousands of their murdered
ancestors and to call for wider recognition of their suffering in the
The ceremony, exactly 60 years after the night the Nazis gassed the
last 2,900 Gypsies in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, also heard
warnings that today's Gypsies still face discrimination, especially in
Calling Auschwitz ``a symbol of the genocide perpetrated on our
people,'' Roman Kwiatkowski, the top Gypsy representative in Poland,
said: ``These crimes should be properly commemorated. We fear again
that the Roma Holocaust will be forgotten.''
Roma and Sinti are names by which Gypsies in Europe are also
known. Gypsy organizations put their total number at more than 7
Up to half a million European Gypsies are believed to have perished at
the Nazis' hands during World War II along with 6 million Jews, though
the exact number is not known. Others were sterilized or subjected to
grisly pseudo-medical experiments.
Rene -- File This Under "Disaster Scenarios"
Millions in U.S. Face Mega-Wave from Island Collapse
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - The bad news is tens of millions of people along
the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada may drown if the
slow slippage of a volcano off north Africa becomes a cataclysmic
But the good news is the world is not likely to be destroyed by an
asteroid any time soon.
Scientist Bill McGuire told a news conference on natural disasters on
Monday that some time in the next few thousand years the western flank
of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma will
collapse, sending walls of water 100 meters high racing across the
A chunk of the volcano the size of a small island began to slide into
the ocean in 1949. There is almost no monitoring of the volcano,
giving virtually no chance of any advance warning of another eruption
which could trigger the catastrophe.
Hanno -- From Estonia with Love : A Perfectly Ordinary Fascism?
From Estonia with Love: A Perfectly Ordinary Fascism?
I have a few questions concerning an article, which was published
in “Postimees”, one of the main daily papers in Tallinn, Estonia on 28. 07.
2004 by a Director of a secondary school, Märt Sults, without any editorial
comments as if it was a perfectly ordinary opinion article. In translation I
have tried to follow the rude manner of writing used in original, but I am
afraid I have not entirely succeeded. I must also say that I have never read
anything quite like this at a daily paper in Estonia. I am amused. But I also
am worried and frightened.
Thank you for taking the trouble to read that shit,
yours, Hanno Soans
An Obligation to Take Care for the Survival of the Species
Märt Sults (the Director of Art Gymnasium of Tallinn)
As I am a chemistry teacher I have dealt with the themes concerning alcohol
and tobacco in my lessons from the one side and the other. I have found good
sides in it, but mostly explained the destructive effects of these substances
of pleasure both to human physiology and to their mental health. I wouldn´t
claim that I have perfectly succeded, but there have been dozens of saved
souls, so to say, not to say hundreds.
A human being is by nature an animal and an animal has an obligation to keep
the species alive, using all existent means for archeiving that primary goal.
We cannot deny that also among tha real animals an incompetent an uneducated
observer can can find both “gays” and “lesbians”, but in compaison with the
humans this activity has definitely other content and form. I take
homosexuality as a self-definition of deviants, particularly in case of male
As I am a man myself and proud of that, my take on that is simple - a great
part of the young Estonian men cannot be men as they cannot fulfill their
primary obligation towards the animal kingdom - to keep the species alive -
because they are simply impotent. They have drunk themselves to that
condition, have smoked themselves nuts from cannabis, have fucked around 24/7, consider sports as the pastime of fools and studying as pointless activity.
So what an alternative options do girls have then - to be with a guy who
have “not much to give and say” or to search love from the companions of the
same sex. As the young ladies are animals too, they too have to take care for
the survival of the species.
Rene -- Brian Holmes --Warhol in the Rising Sun
Warhol in the Rising Sun
Art, subcultures and semiotic production
I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
hit song by The Vapors, 1980
In the wake of Andy Warhol, the artist-producer Takashi Murakami seeks his quarter-hour of fame – or better, his quarter-century. Murakami is the creator of computer-assisted wallpaper works, but also the designer of manifesto-exhibitions, which claim to define a new Japanese art. The most recent of these, on display in summer 2002 at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, was called Coloriage, or "Coloring Book". Inspired by the mangas – a flagship product of the Japanese cultural industry – the exhibition brought together a short list of artists and a mind-boggling series of children's toys: mascot characters, action figures, animated films, Pokemon cards, comic books. Murakami's idea is that a veritable renaissance of Japanese culture is being asserted in these commercial works: "Today we create new outlines on our own – disordered perhaps, but ours, without any origin in the Western 'fine arts.' This new movement finds its origins in what the West calls subculture. Coloring Book is created by Japan, a country which does not distinguish between culture and subculture." In this way, he concludes, a "new Japonisme" is emerging.1
Also in Paris, the Palais de Tokyo – "site of contemporary creation" – wants to blur the distinction between art and commercial subcultures. Here, "the visual arts play the role of a search engine leading to design, cinema, literature and fashion."2 Halfway between the art centre and the nightclub, the Palace aspires to be a theatre of lived events, where the visitor can seamlessly drift from the contemplation of objects – art, design, fashion, etc. – to experiences of use and participation. This is a legacy of "relational art", which posed the aesthetic object as a catalyst of subjective formations. The discourse of relational art functioned perfectly on the French scene of the nineties. It now acquires a touch of exoticism and a higher potential for distribution with the addition of the signifier "Tokyo", connoting nomadic lifestyles and the enigmas of meaning in a multicultural world, but also the automation of a high-tech society and the fascination of media products. The same signifier is added to an entire series of projects: Tokyo Games (works for video consoles), Tokyo TV (artist's clips), Tokyo Books (art world opinion polls), Tokyorama ("alternative" tours through the museum's luxury neighbourhood)... In this way the Palace seeks to develop into a hybrid workshop, where artists can try their hand at all the genres of semiotic production,3 which they individualise and develop in a minor mode.
Takashi Murakami claims a double heritage from Warhol. On the one hand, as a painter-illustrator working with a team of assistants (about twenty) to produce canvases which are at once sophisticated and kitsch; but also, in a more complex way, as a promoter of fashions and trends, via events conflating art works, media glamour and commercial design. The Palais de Tokyo, as an institution, takes its place within the larger turn of contemporary art in the nineties toward teamwork processes modelled on audiovisual production and interaction design, integrating the public's reception of the work.4 In this way, using new tools and addressing a far wider public, the Palace seeks to functionalise Warhol's experimentation in the Factory, where the practice of film served to transform marginal subjectivities – members of the gay and lesbian subcultures, drug addicts, bohemians escaping their class origins – into "superstars", in a transgressive parody of the Hollywood system. The Factory can be seen as a deliberate subversion, not only of the standardised model of the postwar culture industry, but literally of the mass-production system and its fordist discipline. This subversion took the form of collective expression from below: the irruption of subterranean cultures into the normative frame of the cinema. But that was forty years ago. Today, Takashi Murakami gestures toward the same potential when he appeals to the creativity of a very different subcultural fringe: the otaku, those young Japanese who increasingly remain hooked on mangas and video games, even after the age of thirty when the passage to adulthood is supposed to be definitive. And the Palais de Tokyo also adopts this subcultural pose, disguising itself as an artificial squat, complete with graffiti, raw walls, and (fake) disconnected plumbing, smack in the middle of the chic 16th arrondissement of Paris. What is the meaning of such postures today, in the postfordist era? And what exactly is a subculture, if it is no longer to be distinguished from the official, normative one?
Rene -- Brian Holmes -- Reflecting Museums
Art in the mirror of political economy
What does a museum produce? You have to wonder, looking at the new Tate Modern – a huge factory reconverted for artistic use. Enter, like I did, by the little door along the Thames. There, during the exhibition "Century City," you found an information booth: sleek, silent, implacable, an almost administrative sort of thing. Colored panels of text will answer all your questions, with a collage of theoretical phrases like these:
"Through larger audiences, a core funding issue, encoded by vague ethnic and underclass ideology, museums are schooling a new order of citizens for an information society.... Culture education is needed because not only has the versatility of thought and character become necessary survival skills in the super-fluid work/consumer society, but a prerequisite for prosumers of the new corporate political ethos.... The cultural becomes economic, and the economic and political are turned into so many forms of culture.... It is no longer useful for art to offer up, in traditional ways, a critique of control institutions, these structures are now part of the 'knowledge' with which institutions are constructed."
Presented like a public service, these complicated statements give you a rather anxious feeling, particularly because their sources are indicated by logos that distort the names: THOMAS, Harry Clever, Felix Stlder, MEDEA Network, Hardt & Negri… Who exactly is educating us this way, about the reasons for our own education in the museum? After some searching you find a title card for the piece: "Johnny Spencer 1954, Inquiry Unit 2000." And as you move upstairs toward the rest of the show, an enigmatic statement lingers: "There are times in life when knowing if one can think differently and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all."
Rene -- An Open Letter to the 9/11 Panel
"War on Terror"
I have never fully understood this investigation and what the real motives were.
Security can only come through changes in policy, not only within the intelligence community, but also (and more importantly) in the policies of the US towards countries in the Middle East.
This letter is interesting, it comes from an insider, translator, and much of it, of course focuses on the intelligence problems that were actually a part of the mandate of the commission. Nevertheless, toward the end, you understand that the two are actually not apart, the "failures" in intelligence are actually also a victim of the same foreign policy, the same convictions to "business as usual" which have created, supported, and legitimized in the eyes of millions the space for the types of attacks we saw on 9-11.
After almost three years, the American people still do not know that
thousands of lives are jeopardized under a policy of "protecting certain
foreign business relations." The victims' family members still do not
realize that answers they have sought relentlessly for over two years have
been blocked in the interest of "safeguarding certain diplomatic relations."
Your hearings and your report did not even attempt to address these
unspoken, unwritten practices, although, unlike me, you were not placed
under any gag."
the full text is below:
August 2, 2004
An Open Letter to the 9/11 Panel
by Sibel Edmonds
Find this article at:
Thomas Kean, Chairman
National Committee on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20407
Dear Chairman Kean:
It has been almost three years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,
during which time we have been placed under a constant threat of terror and
asked to exercise vigilance in our daily lives. Your commission was created
by law to investigate "facts and circumstances related to the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001" and to "provide recommendations to safeguard
against future acts of terrorism," and has now issued its "9/11 Commission
Report" [pdf]. You are now asking us to pledge our support for this report
and its recommendations with our tax money, our security and our lives.
Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address
serious intelligence issues that I, as a witness to the commission, made you
aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues I am not aware of
were also omitted from your report. These omissions cast doubt on the
validity of your report and therefore on its conclusions and
recommendations. Considering what is at stake - our national security - we
are entitled to demand answers to unanswered questions, and to ask for
clarification of issues that were ignored and omitted from the report. I,
Sibel Edmonds, a concerned American citizen, a former FBI translator, a
whistleblower, a witness for a United States Congressional investigation, a
witness and a plaintiff for the Department of Justice Inspector General
investigation and a witness for your own 9/11 Commission, request your
response to the following questions and issues.
Genevieve -- Transcripts from the Diplomats National Press Club Conference on Middle East
Palestine / Israel
Introduction by Sara Powell, Administrative and Public Relations director for
the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
In May, a number of retired diplomats and government officials signed a letter
to President Bush advocating a change in U.S. foreign policy to be truly
honest in our dealings with Palestine and Israel for the good of all
concerned: Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. As a result, the signers
were invited by the Palestinian American Congress to visit the West Bank.
No joint statement has been issued by the delegation, but individual
statements are in your press packets. Unfortunately, one member of the
delegation, John Brady Kiesling-the first Foreign Service Officer to resign
from his position over the second Gulf war, the attack on Iraq-was not able to
provide us with a statement, but his earlier remarks can be made available on
I am proud to say that my father was among the signers and would be here today
if he could, and I am honored to introduce the members of the delegation.
Please welcome Ambassador Andrew Killgore, former Ambassador to Qatar and
Publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR ANDREW I. KILLGORE
On May 4, we held a press conference here at the National Press Club to
discuss a letter sent to President George W. Bush by some 60 retired U.S.
foreign service officers. The press club kindly opened up another room to
accommodate the large number of reporters and cameramen who appeared to cover
the event. The international press, particularly in Britain and the Arab
world, pounced on the story-relieved, no doubt, to report on an American
alternative to Bush's Mideast policy. We were disappointed, however, that, for
the most part, the U.S mainstream media ignored the press conference and the
opinions of career diplomats and experts critical of current U.S. foreign
There are now almost 90 signatures on that letter urging the president "to
reassert American principles of justice and fairness in our relations with all
the peoples in the Middle East." The letter, initiated by myself, publisher
of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and former U.S. ambassador to
Qatar, and Washington Report executive editor Richard Curtiss, former chief
inspector of the U.S. Information Agency, was prompted by President Bush's
April 14 endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral
Paige -- Agamben -- "What is a Paradigm?"
"What is a Paradigm?"
A lecture by Giorgio Agamben,
The URL is http://www.egs.edu/faculty/agamben/agamben-what-is-a-paradigm-2002.html.
Agamben: This title "What is a Paradigm" seems to suggest that my presentation will focus on epistemological and methodological questions. I do not feel at all it is about these questions, I don’t like these kind of problems, I always have the impression, as once Heidegger put it, that we have here people busy sharpening knives when there is nothing left to cut. But in the life of a scholar there comes a time when methodological premises become necessary. As a matter of fact, in two recent books I have analyzed figures and phenomena such as Homo Sacer in Roman law or der Musslemen in Auschwitz which are obviously propositive historical phenomena. However, in my books they were treated as paradigms whose function was to establish and make intelligible a wider set of problems. This brought about some misunderstanding, especially amongst those persons who in good or in bad faith seemed to think that I was illegitimately acting as a historian, using facts as metaphors and vice versa. Anyway we all make use of paradigms in our work, but do we really know what a paradigm is, and what does it mean to use a paradigm in philosophy, in the human sciences, or even in art? These are the questions I will try to answer today. Feuerbach once wrote that the philosophical element in each work is its Entvicklungsfahigkeit, literally, its capability to be developed. If a work, be it a work of science or art or scholarship has some value, it will contain this philosophical element. It is something which remains unsaid within the work but which demands to be unfolded and worked out. By the way I think this is a very good definition of philosophy. Philosophy has no specificity, no proper territory, it is within literature, within art or science or theology or whatever, it is this element which contains a capability to be developed. In a sense philosophy is scattered in every territory. It is always a diaspora, and must recollected and gathered up. In any case this is the way I like to work, to try to discover this philosophical element, this Entvicklungsfahigkeit, in the work of the author I like. This philosophical element, to use Benjamin’s words, is similar to the fragment of messianic time scattered and disseminated in the profane time. This is the only meaning I can give to Schleiermacher’s famous hermeneutic principle: to understand an author better than he has understood himself. To me this can only mean to find the Entvichlungsfahigkeit in his work.
Genevieve -- Diplomatic Press Conf. on Palestine/Israel
Palestine / Israel
In May, 80 former American diplomats wrote President Bush to express their
deep concerns that his agreement with PM Sharon would adversely affect the
interests of the US, as well as Israel and the Palestinians. I spent a week
in the West Bank with a delegation from that group last month. We met with
Palestinian citizens, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, a member of
the Knesset, municipal officials, and senior members of the Palestinian
Authority, including President Arafat.
Each of us had considerable experience living in and/or working on the
Middle East, and what we thought was familiarity with the results of nearly
40 years of occupation. We were nonetheless shocked by the extent and the
impact of massive land seizures, tight and unpredictable restrictions on
pedestrian and vehicular travel, and the endless, degrading humiliation
which Palestinians are forced to endure.
We had many opportunities to observe portions of the wall, the fences that
have turned Palestinian population centers into the world's largest outdoor
prisons, and the shattering effect these ghettoes have already had on
people's lives - as well as their attitudes. We passed through, or were
turned back from some of, the many checkpoints which impede both
commerce and everyday existence, and are constant reminders of the total,
oppressive control over every inhabitant.
Rene -- Scandals of Oil for Food
In all of the discussion about the war, one thing that should not go unaccounted for is the debacle of the Sanctions, and the "oil for food" program, which sounds like a title of a satirical story of our times, is revisited through this article on some recent congressional hearings - rg
Scandals of Oil for Food by Joy Gordon; _Middle East Report Online_
(http://www.merip.org/) ; July 20, 2004
Rep. Ralph Hall opened a set of Congressional hearings on July 8 with
a dramatic flourish, denouncing "the deaths of thousands of Iraqis
through malnutrition and lack of appropriate medical supplies." "We
have a name for that in the United States," the Texas Republican told
a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "It's
called murder." The target of Hall's accusation was not the UN
economic sanctions that, according to a 1999 UNICEF study, had helped
to double the rate of mortality among children under five in central
and southern Iraq over the preceding decade.
Rather, the Congressman was introducing yet more hearings to air
broad allegations of incompetence, manipulation and personal
corruption in the so-called Oil for Food program established by the UN
Security Council in 1995 to ameliorate the humanitarian emergency in
Iraq. According to these allegations, UN mismanagement allowed Saddam
Hussein to pocket billions of dollars in oil sales at the expense of
the Iraqi people. Benon Sevan, former head of the Office of Iraq
Program, which housed the now dissolved Oil for Food program, has been
named as one UN official who purportedly took what amount to bribes to
look the other way.
Rene -- The situation in Iraq right now is not as bad as the news media areportraying it to be. It's worse.
I posted it, because it was written by someone who actually wanted to look on the bright side of this invasion and occupation a few months ago - rg
The situation in Iraq right now is not as bad as the news media are
portraying it to be. It's worse.
By Ken Dilanian
Aug. 01, 2004
Inquirer Staff Writer
A kind of violence fatigue has descended over news coverage of
Iraq. Car bombings that would have made the front page a year ago get
scant mention these days.
Assassinations and kidnappings have become so common that they have
lost their power to shock. More U.S. soldiers died in July (38) than
in June (26), but that didn't make the nightly newscasts, either.
The U.S.-led effort to restore basic services has become a story of
missed goals and frustrations. Hoped-for foreign investment in Iraq's
economy hasn't materialized - what company is going to risk seeing its
employees beheaded on television?
Simply by staving off stability and prosperity, the insurgents are
These are painful observations for me to make, because in early April,
I wrote on this page that the media had been underplaying the good
things happening in Iraq, and were missing the potential for a
I still believe the first part. But when I returned to Iraq in June, I
found that the situation had deteriorated so dramatically that a lot
of those good things have become irrelevant.
As for the turnaround, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Don't take my word for it: Listen to Sgt. Maj. John Jones, a First
Infantry Division soldier who recently told my colleague Tom Lasseter
that he grows annoyed every time he hears politicians and journalists
on television talking about Iraq.
"When people come over here, where do they stay? In the Green Zone. I
call it the Safe Zone," he said, referring to the heavily fortified
area in Baghdad where most U.S. officials live and work. "They miss
the full picture."
Interactivist -- Jennifer Bleyer. In conversation with Peter LambornWilson
Title: Jennifer Bleyer. In conversation with Peter Lamborn
Date: Tuesday July 27 2004, AT 12:37PM
from the chicken-and-egg dept.
An Anarchist in the Hudson Valley
in conversation: Peter Lamborn Wilson
with Jennifer Bleyer
From the excellent Brooklyn Rail
It's been nearly ten years since Peter Lamborn Wilson--née
Hakim Bey--looked at the pitiably state-bound, rule-bound
world around him and asked: "Are we who live in the present
doomed never to experience autonomy, never to stand for one
moment on a bit of land ruled only by freedom?" In a slim,
rattling volume called Temporary Autonomous Zone, Wilson
intoned that, in fact, freedom is already here. Autonomy
exists in time, he said, rather than space. It's in times of
wildness, revelry, abandon and revolution that for even just
one brief jail-breaking moment, as sweet as honey to the
tongue, one is freed of all political and social control.
Wilson rightly became celebrated as a kind of urban prophet.
It was an identity to add the others he bears seamlessly and
without contradiction: anarchist, poet, public intellectual,
psychedelic explorer, artist, social critic, Sufi mystic.
Six years ago he moved upstate from the East Village to New
Paltz, New York. The setting is different, but the ideas
have only deepened--notably his critique of global capital
and "technological determination." In his green wood-frame
house, trees rustling overhead and birds chirping outside,
we drank tea and talked.
Jennifer Bleyer: You left New York City six years ago and
moved upstate to New Paltz. There's a lot of art happening
here and in the Hudson Valley in general, which seems pretty
Peter Lamborn Wilson: The fact of it happening anywhere
makes it more interesting than a kick in the face. But the
fact of the matter is that America doesn't produce anything
anymore. A couple of years ago, we passed the halfway mark
from being a so-called productive economy to a services
economy. What are services? You tell me. Whatever it means,
we don't make pencils. We don't make cement. We don't make
ladies garments or roll cigars. We don't even manufacture
computers. In other words, we don't make anything,,
especially not around here. There are a few cement factories
left up in Greene County, but basically, industry died here
in the fifties. It was a long slow death, certainly over by
the seventies. There was a depression, so artists, who are
certainly blameless in this, discovered low real estate
prices and low rents, and they started to move up here. And
the gap between the artists and the real estate developers
has gotten very small in our modern times, down to where
it's almost nothing.
Truthout -- Homeland Security Gets Data on Arab-Americans
Report: Homeland Security
Gets Data on Arab-Americans
Friday 30 July 2004
New York - The U.S. Census Bureau has provided population data on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including their ancestry and the cities and postal areas in which they live, The New York Times reported on Friday.
While the information sharing is legal, so long as the data do not identify individuals, civil liberties and Arab-American groups called it a breach of public trust and likened it to steps taken against Japanese-Americans in World War II, the newspaper said.
One set of data listed cities with more than 1,000 Arab-Americans. The other, more detailed set, provided ZIP code breakdowns and sorted Arab-Americans by country of origin. The categories were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian, "Arab/Arabic" and "Other Arab."
The Census Bureau disclosed the data sharing in response to a request from a civil liberties group, Electronic Privacy Information Center, which shared the documents with The Times.
Avi -- Daniel Tsal sentenced for the 5th time
Palestine / Israel
The following message is with a personal note. Daniel Tzal is a friend of my 18 year old son Shaul. Like Daniel, Shaul plans to refuse to serve in the Israeli army for political and moral reasons. They are both members of a group of kids who decided to act as they believe even if this means they will do time in military jail. Daniel is already in jail, Shaul's next (his draft date is October 18th). These kids need your support and help.
Daniel Tsal sentenced for the 5th time
for refusing to serve in the Israeli army
Daniel Tsal who is refusing to enlist to the IDF and serve the occupation was sentenced for the 5th time.
Daniel had a long meeting with the draft center commander. The commander clarified to Daniel that given that he is a "selective" (political) objector rather than a pacifist he is looking at a long sentence ahead of him, very similar to the five conscientious objectors (Hagai Matar, Matan Kaminer, Adam Maor, Shimri Tzameret and Noam Bahat) who were sentenced to one year in jail, following almost a year of consecutive short jail periods for the same charge.
Daniel was subsequently sentenced for 28 days and was sent to military prison # 4, altogether he was senteced until now to 112 days.
The sentencing of Daniel is a continuation of the army fighting young people who cannot and will not serve the occupation.
What can you do?
Rene -- Negri's first? visit to London since 1978.
Negri's visit to London since 1978.
Atmosphere bizzarely subdued.
par Toni Negri
Friday, 25th June 2004, 1-6pm, room 405, Birkbeck University, London. Organized by Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths University. Around 60 people present.
Real submsumption means that there is no mode of production possible out of capitalism. Any form of life, language, and thus any form of resistance becomes impossible in postmodernity - which is the role of postmodernity. The paradox is that marxist subsumption was completed while at the same time, face with real subsumption, thought became weak, light. In the face of this biopower, no form of indigenous resistance was possible. Agamben thought of resistance as of something only possible as external. Other positions too traversed this too, like those of Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault. Often, first production of Foucault was interpreted as realization of this biopower. In both instances of Foucault and Guattari all references to real productivity of life were removed, drained. So that constitutive references had been removed. This is materialism versus idealism in philosophy. On one hand, constructive Machiavelli, Spinoza, Marx, on the other hand, destructive line of Rousseau, Hobbes, Descartes, Hegel. Presupposition of "constitution of time" is : if capital dominates society, that doesn't mean that very form of antagonism is removed - it continues within subsumption. Constitution of real submsuption is that entirety of society is traversed by antagonism. The first book was concerned with trajecting the forms of real subsumption and affected organization of work, conciousness, and this is where the question of time became central. What became clear is that law of value entered the crisis, time as measurement of value - precisely because of impossibility of measuring. It is passage of time as zero point of control, to the point of expansion to entire fabric of life. Second book, Kairos, was concerned with ways of alternative modes to those of real sumbsumption. The investigation is concerned with questions of singularity, the common and multiplicity. The philosophical, ethical question is how does one creates another word. Specifically, what is the relationship between real sumsumption and our desire. This the way in which communism can be reborn. Though marxism becomes our central point of thought, communism becomes before and after it.
Rene -- American Self-Interest and the Response to Genocide
Chronicle of Higher Education
July 30, 2004
American Self-Interest and the Response to Genocide
By ROGER W. SMITH
For 20 years, I taught a course on genocide: What is "genocide," why
does it happen, who is responsible for it, and how could this ultimate
crime be prevented? I told students that genocide -- intentional acts to
eliminate in whole, or in substantial part, a specific human population
-- had claimed the lives of some 60 million people in the 20th century,
16 million of them since 1945, when the watchword was "Never again."
Genocide has, in fact, been so frequent, the number of victims so
extensive, and serious attempts to prevent it so few, that many scholars
have described the 20th century as "the age of genocide." Some have
wondered if genocide is not itself a product of modernity, the dark
energy of civilization.
But what my students wanted to know was: Why had the nations of the
world, and particularly the United States, which they thought of as both
powerful and just, not prevented the killing of millions of innocent
people? Where was American power and moral commitment when a million
Armenians were being slaughtered in Turkey in 1915, six million
Ukrainians starved to death by Stalin in 1932-33, two million Bengalis
murdered by Pakistan in 1971? What was America doing when still more
millions were killed in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda, not because of
what they had done, but because of who they were? And, of course, there
was the much-discussed question of whether more could have been done to
prevent the Holocaust.
My students also wanted to know why it had taken the United States 40
years to ratify the Genocide Convention, which the United Nations
endorsed unanimously in 1948, with strong U.S. support. The convention
defined genocide and declared it a crime against international law. Why,
as soon as the United States finally did ratify the convention, in 1988,
did it support Saddam Hussein's regime despite evidence that the
dictator had committed genocide against the Kurds in Iraq in 1987-88?
Today we continue to hear about genocide. As before, however, few
Americans pay much attention. What is happening in Sudan? In Congo? With
indigenous peoples in many other regions? Can you tell me? My students'
questions -- and my own -- are increasingly important to all of us, both
morally and politically.
Unfortunately they are not easy to answer. Sometimes the response hinges
on factual information, but more often on judgment, an assessment of
competing responsibilities, and context. At the outset we can reject
claims that relieve all bystanders, whether states, organizations, or
individuals, of responsibility for attempting to prevent or mitigate
genocide. One argument, coming from perpetrators, is that victims of
genocide (although the term is avoided) bear responsibility for their
own destruction, having brought it upon themselves through provocation.
Genocide is strictly an internal matter, this argument goes. Outside
powers should mind their own business. Two immediate objections arise:
First, provocations, when they exist at all, stem from a minority of the
group of victims. Most of those who will be killed are innocent. Second,
genocide is seldom without international consequences, ranging from a
vast outpouring of refugees, with the need for large amounts of
humanitarian aid, to regional instability and war.
Genevieve -- Fisk -- Baghdad is a city that reeks with the stench of the dead
Independent (London) July 28, 2004, Wednesday
Baghdad is a city that reeks with the stench of the dead
By Robert Fisk
The smell of the dead pours into the street through the air-conditioning ducts. Hot, sweet, overwhelming. Inside the Baghdad morgue, there are so many corpses that the fridges are overflowing. The dead are on the floor. Dozens of them. Outside, in the 46C (114F) heat, Qadum Ganawi tells me how his brother Hassan was murdered.
"He was bringing supper home for our family in Palestine Street but he never reached our home. Then we got a phone call saying we could have him back if we paid $ 50,000 pounds 27,500 . We didn't have $ 50,000. So we sold part of our home and many of our things and we borrowed $ 15,000 and we paid over the money to a man in a car who was wearing a keffiyeh scarf round his head.
"Then we got another phone call, telling us that Hassan was at the Saidiyeh police station. He was. He was blindfolded and gagged and he had two bullets in his head. They had taken our money and then they had killed him."
There is a wail of grief from the yard behind us where 50 people are waiting in the shade of the Baghdad mortuary wall. There are wooden coffins in the street, stacked against the wall, lying on the pavement.
Old men - fathers and uncles - are padding them with grease-proof paper. When the bodies are released, they will be taken to the mosque in coffins and then buried in shrouds. There are a few women. Most stare at the intruding foreigner with something approaching venom. The statistics of violent death in Baghdad are now beyond shame. Almost a year ago, there were sometimes 400 violent deaths a month. This in itself was a fearful number to follow
the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. But in the first 10 days of this July alone,
the corpses of 215 men and women were brought to the Baghdad mortuary, almost all of them dead from gunshot wounds.