Category: The Middle East

Obama- hoist by his own terrorist petard

| September 18, 2013 | Reply
Obama- hoist by his own terrorist petard

But what happens when President Obama aids the enemy?  Will we as a nation insist that the President should also be subject to the law?  Are we a nation of laws, or corrupt banana republic which only enforces the law against those powerless to resist?

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The U.S. attack of Gaza

| November 20, 2012 | 1 Reply
The U.S. attack of Gaza

Glenn Greenwald explodes the illusion of the U.S. as a third-party bystander to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians:

[P]retending that the US – and the Obama administration – bear no responsibility for what is taking place is sheer self-delusion, total fiction. It has long been the case that the central enabling fact in Israeli lawlessness and aggression is blind US support, and that continues, more than ever, to be the case under the presidency of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The US is not some neutral, uninvolved party. Whatever side of this conflict you want to defend – or if you’re one of those people who love to announce that you just wish the whole thing would go away – it’s still necessary to take responsibility for the key role played by the American government and this administration in enabling everything that is taking place.

The ongoing illusion that the U.S. is a neutral outsider is propagated by the U.S. commercial media.

It’s just been staggering to see how tilted US media discourse is: Israeli officials and pro-Israel “experts” are endlessly paraded across the screen while Palestinian voices are exceedingly rare; the fact of the 45-year-old brutal occupation and ongoing Israeli dominion over Gaza is barely mentioned; meanwhile, every primitive rocket that falls harmlessly near Israeli soil is trumpeted with screaming headlines while the carnage and terror in Gaza is mentioned, if at all, as an afterthought.

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Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

| June 19, 2012 | 6 Replies
Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

I was sitting in the barber chair this morning, where they had on some national news show that spent the entire time I was there discussing the ongoing trial of (alleged) pedophile Jerry Sandusky. I’ve been hearing about this on news stations for months. They are spending as long on the nightly news discussing this trial as they do on the collapse of the European economies or the coups in various major oil-producing nations.

I am truly puzzled about the coverage. There are likely several pedophiles on trial any given day. Why are they not newsworthy? Is it because he is a coach? Many of them are. Was it because he was a winning coach?

I just don’t understand why this one (alleged) pedophile is as newsworthy as wars deposing dictators to replace them with democratically elected Islamist regimes. Are both events shaping the course of civilization?

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Inside Iran

| May 29, 2012 | Reply
Inside Iran

What do you know about Iran? Here is a series of photos from The Atlantic that will like expand your horizons.

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“At least I can get accurate news on NPR.” Wrong.

| March 27, 2012 | 10 Replies
“At least I can get accurate news on NPR.”  Wrong.

For those of you who think that you are getting accurate U.S. foreign policy news stories on NPR, think again. NPR, like most other new outlets, has annointed itself a stenographer for the U.S. government. Glenn Greenwald proves this point beyond debate by dissecting a recent NPR store on Iran. It would all be laughable were the stakes not so serious. Here is an excerpt from Greenwald’s story. I highly recommend following the link to his entire story:

This morning, Temple-Raston began her report by noting — without a molecule of skepticism or challenge — that Iran is accused (by the U.S. government, of course) of trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil (a plot traced to “the top ranks of the Iranian government”); there was no mention of the fact that this alleged plot was so ludicrous that it triggered intense mockery in most circles. She then informed us that Iran is also likely responsible for three recent, separate attacks on Israeli officials. These incidents, she and her extremely homogeneous group of experts from official Washington explained, are “red flags” about Iran’s intent to commit Terrorism — red flags consistent, she says, with Iran’s history of state-sponsored Terrorism involving assassinations of opposition leaders in Europe during the 1980s and the 1996 truck bombing of an American military dormitory in Saudi Arabia (note how attacks on purely military targets are “Terrorism” when Iran does it, as are the assassinations of its own citizens on foreign soil who are working for the overthrow of its government; but if you hold your breath waiting for NPR to label as Terrorism the U.S. assassination of its own citizens on foreign soil, or American and Israeli attacks on military targets, you are likely to expire quite quickly). All of this, Temple-Raston announces, shows that Iran is “back on the offensive.”

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What did Jesus look like?

| March 27, 2012 | 5 Replies

I’m not yet far into Bart Ehrman’s newest book, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. Ehrman’s answer, however (and he warns that his conclusion will annoy many non-Christians–of which he is one–and please Christians) is that a man named Jesus most definitely did exist. I’ll be posting on Ehrman’s book once I finish it. I should also mention that Frontline has produced a show on the search for the historical Jesus [Here is the video of the entire show].

Assuming that a man named Jesus once walked on the planet, what did he look like? At Popular Mechanics, Mike Fillon discusses what Jesus must have really looked like. Hmmm. He’s not the tall blonde haired blue-eyed British-accented guy I’ve seen in more than a couple movies. Nor could he have been like any of the seven art images of “Jesus” created through the centuries. And what Jesus looked like is no academic exercise. There are real and serious real-world ramifications. For instance, Rudy Giuliani once became perturbed at an exhibit depicting Jesus as a black man. People tend to concoct the Jesus they worship in their own image and likeness.

What is the method by which one might recreate an image of Jesus using other Galilean Semites of his era? It’s the field of forensic anthropology, and the assumption guiding this enterprise is that Jesus would, indeed, look somewhat like most other men who lived in that area of the world.

With three well-preserved specimens from the time of Jesus in hand, [medical artist Richard Neave] used computerized tomography to create X-ray “slices” of the skulls, thus revealing minute details about each one’s structure. Special computer programs then evaluated reams of information about known measurements of the thickness of soft tissue at key areas on human faces. This made it possible to re-create the muscles and skin overlying a representative Semite skull.

What Neave has offered, then, is not actually the face of Jesus, but how Jesus likely would have looked. Here is a video showing Neave at work.

Based on this reaction, we have some confidence to say the following to European, African and Asian Christian congregations, each of which tend to display a version of Jesus that looks like themselves. “So sorry, but Jesus didn’t look like any of you. Will you still worship him?”

I’d love to run the following experiment. Let’s put a big reproduction of the photo offered by Neave at the front of Christian churches all across America, right next to the altar. Then I’d like to observe church attendance over the next few months to see how dramatically it suffers. My prediction is that church attendance would fall by 50% within a year.

For more on this topic see this article by BBC News.

[Above Image by BBC].

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Chris Hedges pulls back the curtain on AIPAC

| March 5, 2012 | 7 Replies
Chris Hedges pulls back the curtain on AIPAC

At Truthdig, Chris Hedges pulls no punches in his new article on AIPAC, “AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent.”  It’s rare for me to read an article this intense, well-crafted and alligned with what I’ve come to understand.

What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

I spent seven years in the Middle East. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I lived for two of those seven years in Jerusalem. AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, who believe that because they have the capacity to war wage they have a right to wage war, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business, those who have turned ordinary Palestinians, Israelis and Americans, along with hundreds of millions of the world’s poor, into commodities to exploit, repress and control.

Hedges has written a long and intense article that address many of my most pressing concerns about the dicection in which the United States has been going. Note, especially, this description of nationalism (by Danilo Kis) set forth in Hedges’ article:

“The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus,” the Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš wrote. “Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that’s to say national, that’s to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell—it’s other people (other nations, another tribe). They don’t even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images—as nationalists.”

As Chris Hedges so eloquently points out, we are a very sick society here in the U.S., and it’s time to start changing things in big ways and small ways. Here’s a small way that could become a big way if we tap into the power of crowd sourcing. We need to speak out about these injustices, even in polite company–especially in polite company. I sometimes gently remind people of the travesty of the cancerous military-industrial complex that is running America, and when I do, most people looked at me like I am being inappropriate. So what that we burn $2B/week in Afghanistan? Let’s talk about the professional sports or something happier. Hedges’ writing reminds me that I can’t think of anything happier than wresting control of the treasure from the ultra-nationalist warmongers and turning control of this country back to those who would seek sustainable health and meaningful information for the People. So that’s my take-away. It’s time to speak up more–to name the elephant in the room. This incessant spying, lying, censorship and warmongering are not consistent with a nation that supposedly treasures liberty.

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The illogic of the “war on terror”

| March 2, 2012 | 3 Replies
The illogic of the “war on terror”

Glenn Greenwald points out that the “war on terror” is being carried out illogically. The U.S. has now dropped bombs on six Muslim countries that have had nothing to do with 9/11. We are currently obsessed with how to attack another Muslim country (Iran) that had nothing to do with 9/11. At the same time, we constantly reassert that our friendship with Saudi Arabia, a country with documented ties to 9/11.

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Insight on Iran

| February 20, 2012 | Reply
Insight on Iran

Windows on Iran is a blog written by Fatemeh Keshavarz, a woman who resides and teaches in Saint Louis. She has just released another entry, another “window” on Iran.

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