Counterpunch -- Raid on the Gaza Flotilla
Palestine / Israel
In case you were wondering why you are reading the same thing since yesterday:
Raid on the Gaza Flotilla
Israel's Attack on Us All
By JONATHAN COOK
It is quite astounding that Israel has been able to create over the past 12 hours a news blackout, just as it did with its attack on Gaza 18 months ago, into which our main media organisations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to step in unchallenged.
How many civilians were killed in Israel’s dawn attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla of aid? We still don’t know. How many wounded? Your guess is as good as mine. Were the aid activists armed with guns? Yes, says Israel. Were they in cahoots with al-Qaeda and Hamas? Certainly, says Israel. Did the soldiers act reasonably? Of course, they faced a lynch, says Israel.
If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.
Rene -- IA's secret Iraq weapon revealed
What to be more outraged about? The report itself or the contents of its message? -rg
Bizarre US plots included exploding cigars to kill Fidel Castro and fake video of Osama bin Laden's campfire drinking
In their time, America's secret agencies have tried some outlandish schemes to attack their country's enemies, including, most famously, an attempt to do away with Cuba's Fidel Castro by using an exploding cigar.
But in a scenario more the preserve of careless Hollywood starlets such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the CIA appears to have plotted to undermine Saddam Hussein with a gay sex tape.
According to the Washington Post's security blog, some of America's spooks believed that shooting a fake video of Saddam cavorting with a teenage boy might destabilise his regime in the runup to the US-led invasion in 2003. "It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera. Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session," the Washington Post quoted one former CIA official as saying.
Anj -- They the people Problems of alter-globalization
Radical Philosophy 157 (September/October 2009)
They the people
Problems of alter-globalization
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
You have asked for current thinking about different concepts and forms of political collectivity.* If I were speaking as an academic, I would, I suppose, look once again at the implications of `multitudes', as conceived by our colleagues and allies Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. Speaking as an activist, however, I am obliged to say that the bold and indeed brave and intriguing notion of the multitude does not quite match up yet to the practical fact of the transformation of Antonio Gramsci's Modern Prince into what is too easily called international civil society. I will speak about the world's `people' as constructed by this haphazardly put together episteme, `international' by default.
The developmental logic of the expression `international civil society' might be taken to run as follows: first step, `social' as opposed to `political' – in other words, movement as opposed to party; second step, non-governmental, effective social engagement as opposed to party politics; third step, a management-style decision not to use the negative (`non'-governmental), but to invent a positive, not-state-therefore-civil-society. The crucial political-theoretical fact that the emergence of `civil society' presupposed a certain type of social contract, which linked it to the production of an urbanity in a controlling relationship with a specific state, is completely ignored here. The importance of the buÌˆrgerliche Gesellschaft to the bourgeois state is therefore precisely forgotten, as the possibility of the welfare state as accountable is closed off more and more in the interest of a globalization that alter-globalization must accept in order to come into existence. This potted possible history is always in my mind as I use the expression `international civil society'.1
It is well known that Gramsci thought of the Party as the Modern Prince.2 As Laclau and Mouffe, and before them Christine Buci-Glucksmann, have pointed out, the ideas in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, which he circled around in many different ways, are most often what Derrida has called pharmakon.3 Ideas like hegemony, the Party and indeed the state have the ambivalence of something that can be both poison and medicine. Gramsci's work is a blueprint for practical and epistemological activism. Parties still have a degree of archaic importance in local and national politics, with their local and national traditions, spiced by human intrigue. After the failure of state and revolution, in this era of world governance, the importance that Gramsci perceived in the intellectual formation called the Party, belonging to a democratic international socialism, has displaced itself. The mood of the Left is altogether in favour of what, twenty years ago, Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi and Terence Hopkins called `anti-systemic movements' – the then newish social movements – extra-state collective action to attend to problems neglected by state and party alike.4 Wallerstein's fear then was that they would seek state power. Now, these movements have gained so much strength that they bypass the state almost completely and provoke us into asking if they should take the helm of world governance. My title today is directed to their clientele.
What is called terrorism can also be defined as extra-state collective action. George W. Bush attempted to take up arms against this from the point of view of the state. I will not here be able to consider how the `war on terror' haphazardly took the shape of international governance, in spite of the petulant and self-centralizing role of the USA. I would, however, like to draw a parallel between the war on terror and the control of migration. For just as the violent management of international extra-state violence was undertaken nationally by the United States of America and became internationalized, so migration is provoked
Counterpunch -- Obama's Afghan Torture Center and the American Psychological Association
Obama's Afghan Torture Center and the American Psychological Association
The "Black Jail"
By STEPHEN SOLDZ
A recent pair of articles by Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic has shed new light upon activities in the secret so-called “black jail” on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Among other aspects, these new revelations suggest that psychologists may be playing a major role inside the facility, raising questions about the reasons for American Psychological Association (APA) lobbying activities in support of the agency that Ambinder reports is running the detention center.
In recent months the Washington Post, New York Times, and BBC reported on a secret prison on fringes of the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Referred to by former prisoners as the “black jail,” this institution is reportedly a site where prisoner abuse is regular and systematic. The BBC reported that all nine former prisoners they interviewed:
Rene -- Pre-trial Hearing of 1st Obama Military Commission Tries Child Soldier
Pre-trial Hearing of 1st Obama Military Commission Tries Child Soldier
By: Nancy Talanian
The pre-trial hearing for the first Military Tribunal in Obama’s presidency began last week, following the delayed release of the new manual for Military Commissions. The government’s justification for trying Omar Khadr by Military Commission is that, in its view, his alleged murder of a US soldier via a hand grenade was a violation of the law of war. According to Lt. Col. David Frakt, under the Military Commission rules, “A detainee may be convicted of murder in violation of the law of war even if they did not actually violate the law of war.”
The hearing is moving forward despite weak evidence that Khadr actually threw the grenade that killed an Army sergeant, signs that he was mistreated while in US custody, and his youth at the time of the alleged crime. Khadr was only 15 years old. Now 23, he has spent more than one-third of his life in US custody.
Rene -- Guantánamo Uighurs Are Not Alone: US Communities Welcome Other Detainees in Need of Safe Haven
Guantánamo Uighurs Are Not Alone: US Communities Welcome Other Detainees in Need of Safe Haven
by Nancy TalanianFounder and Director, No More Guantanamos
On April 22, attorneys for five Chinese Uighurs who remain at Guantánamo Bay prison will argue for their clients' entry into the US at a hearing scheduled before the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. The men have been offered housing in the US and have refused the government of Palau's invitation to settle in their country. The US cannot return the men to China, where they would face persecution.
Anj -- Capitalist Realism
Rowan Wilson: Your blog, k-punk, is one of the leading blogs for cultural analysis. When did you first start writing it and why did you start?
Mark Fisher: Thank you. I started it in 2003. At the time, I was working as a Philosophy lecturer in a Further Education college in Kent - I reflect on some of my experiences there in Capitalist Realism. I was then quite badly depressed - not because of teaching, which I enjoyed, but for a whole series of long-term reasons - and I started blogging as a way of getting back into writing after the traumatic experience of doing a PhD. PhD work bullies one into the idea that you can’t say anything about any subject until you’ve read every possible authority on it. But blogging seemed a more informal space, without that kind of pressure.
Scott -- Disobeying the Banks: An Interview with Enric Duran
Disobeying the Banks: An Interview with Enric Duran
The IAS Blog
On September 17th, 2008, Barcelona-based anticapitalist Enric Duran announced that he had expropriated 492,000 euros. For several years, Duran took out loans that he never intended to pay back and donated all of the money to social movements constructing alternatives to capitalism. This announcement came with the publication of 200,000 free newspapers called Crisi (Catalan for “Crisis”), with an article explaining Duran’s action, and other pieces offering a systemic critique of the current financial and ecological crises. The action got the attention of tens of thousands of everyday people as well as major media outlets, who soon dubbed Duran the “Robin Hood of the Banks.” Duran left the country to avoid prosecution. The group that published the newspapers formed Podem Viure Sense Capitalisme (We Can Live With Out Capitalism) and began region-wide organizing through their website, http://podem.cat, bringing together debtors, squatters, alternative economy networks, environmentalists, and everyday people to build a large-scale alternative to capitalism.
Duran returned to Spain six months after the announcement to participate in the release of another publication. On March 17th, 300,000 copies of Podem (We Can) were distributed across Spain in Catalan as well as Spanish. Duran announced the publication during a student protest at the University of Barcelona, and was soon after arrested by the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police on charges of "ongoing fraud” that were brought against Duran by 6 of the 39 financial entities he took money from. He spent two months in jail. He is currently free on bail, having had his passport seized and required to present himself before a judge once a week. None of the charges have been formally brought to trial.
Since then, Duran has been organizing with the We Can campaign. Focused on networking and the distribution of information about alternatives to capitalism, We Can connects with thousands of people participating in alternative economy projects. Many use the group’s website, which includes a “Debtors’ Community” where people get practical advice on how to avoid paying their debts. Duran has published a book, Insumisión a la banca (Disobeying the Banks), the proceeds from which go to We Can, and continues to give talks and participate in national networks on degrowth and alternative currencies.
This interview was taped in Barcelona in December 2009.
The announcement of your action (September 17th, 2008, two days after Lehman Brothers went down) coincided with a dramatic moment during the financial crisis. Was the date chosen for that reason?
That was the goal, to coincide with a moment of ferment in the crises. When the action began at the end of 2005, the crisis hadn’t arrived yet. But the question became when to make it public so it would coincide with an important moment in the crisis. The end of my action was part of the plan, my strategy, by the summer of 2007, when the crisis began in the United States. In the end it was made public in September 2008, coinciding with the breakdown of the international financial order. It was a complete stroke of luck because it wasn’t possible to put an exact date, as we needed a month to prepare the publication and organize people to pass it out. It was really a stroke of luck.
And you planned this action for three years?
Planning, no...it was three years of execution. Between 2005 and 2008 I carried out the various parts of this action. There was a period of research at the beginning, of figuring out how to do it, but very quickly I moved on to practice, because practice is the best way of experimenting and learning.
In your book you mentioned that this technique of taking out loans was inspired by someone you met who falsified pay stubs. But you also mentioned Lucio Urtubia and his action against Citibank. Do you consider your action an expropriation, just as Lucio’s action was?
Yes, the principle examples were expropriations carried out in a non-aggressive way, an intellectual way, such as falsification, or taking out loans and not paying them back, as I did. I don’t know of any precedent involving loans in a political way, but I did have the example of that person who had told me about it before. So I guess the example of Lucio inspired my broader conception of expropriation and direct action, as did the examples of civil disobedience like Martin Luther King in the United States, or those in other countries who showed that public, illegal action can have a major impact on social consciousness.
Nettime -- Middlesex Philosophy to Get the Axe?
When one of the more respected philosophy departments in the UK is told it provides no measurable contribution to the university, we understand that the neoliberal paradigm, even if it has revealed itself to be literally and ideologically bankrupt, it is alive and well. -rg
I've just received this incredible information from Eric Alliez.
Please redistribute widely. You can find an on-line petition at
Earlier this afternoon all staff in the Arts and Education section of
Middlesex University received the following email:
Late on Monday 26 April, the Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities,
informed staff in Philosophy that the University executive had
recommendation’ to close all Philosophy programmes: undergraduate,
Philosophy is the highest research-rated subject in the University.
Building on its
grade 5 rating in RAE2001, it was awarded a score of 2.8 on the new
RAE scale in
2008, with 65% of its research activity judged ‘world-leading’ or
excellent’. It is now widely recognised as one of the most important
centres for the
study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking
The MA programmes in Philosophy at Middlesex have grown in recent
years to become
the largest in the UK, with 42 new students admitted in September 2009.
The Dean explained that the decision to terminate recruitment and
programmes was ’simply financial’, and based on the fact that the
believes that it may be able to generate more revenue if it shifts
its resources to
other subjects – from ‘Band D’ to ‘Band C’ students.
As you may know, the University currently expects each academic unit
55% of its gross income to the central administration. As it stands
(by the credit
count method of calculation), Philosophy and Religious Studies
after the deduction of School admin costs. According to the figures
recruitment from admissions (with Philosophy undergraduate
applications up 118% for
2010-11), if programmes had remained open, the contribution from
Religious Studies would have risen to 59% (with Philosophy’s
considered on its own, at 53%).
In a meeting with Philosophy staff, the Dean acknowledged the
reputation of Philosophy at Middlesex, but said that it made no
contribution to the University.
Needless to say, we very much regret this decision to terminate
Philosophy, and its
likely consequences for the School and our University and for the
teaching of our
subject in the UK.
· Professor Peter Hallward, Programme Leader for the MA programmes in
· Professor Peter Osborne, Director, Centre for Research in Modern
· Dr. Stella Sandford, Director of Programmes, Philosophy
Ken -- A Little College Scores a Big Victory
A Little College Scores a Big Victory
Shimer College, the “Great Books College of Chicago,” has just thwarted a hostile takeover attempt and fired its president.
The small liberal arts school has weathered numerous crises since its founding in 1853, but it has never come as close to destruction as during the last few months, when newly hired president Thomas Lindsay packed the Board of Trustees with 13 additional members who had a different agenda in mind for the college. With the support of his narrow majority on the augmented Board, Lindsay initiated an increasingly dictatorial administration, contemptuously challenging Shimer’s tradition of shared governance and intimating that faculty and staff who did not go along with his program would soon be obliged to seek employment elsewhere. Investigation by concerned students and alums revealed the extreme right-wing background of all the new Board members and of Lindsay himself, as well as the fact that most of them were closely tied to a very wealthy anonymous donor. Suspicions of a hostile takeover were reinforced in January 2010 when an attempt to balance the 13 Lindsay appointees (none of whom had had any previous connection with Shimer) by adding five highly qualified Shimer alums to the Board was blocked by a committee dominated by the Lindsayites — a tacit admission that the new majority was determined to maintain its control. In February Lindsay composed a new mission statement for the school, removing the previous emphasis on student participation as an integral part of education leading toward “informed, responsible action” and adding some gratuitous puffs for American values (a slap in the face to Shimer’s traditional spirit of independent inquiry without prejudging conclusions to be reached). Despite widespread objections and protests, he managed to get this new mission statement passed by a Board vote of 18-16. The Shimer Assembly — a body comprising all students, faculty and administrative staff as equal voting members (alums may participate as nonvoting members) — overwhelmingly rejected Lindsay’s new mission statement and unanimously approved a different statement. By this time the crisis had begun to receive national press coverage (including a particularly mendacious article in the Wall Street Journal) and had united virtually everyone in the Shimer community. Hundreds of alums signed an online petition calling for Lindsay’s resignation and on April 18 the Assembly passed a unanimous resolution of no confidence in him (with three abstentions). This virtually unanimous opposition, combined with behind-the-scenes arguments and negotiations, succeeded in winning over two crucial swing votes on the Board of Trustees, which at a secret meeting on April 19 voted 18-16 to fire Lindsay, effective immediately.