Saturday, September 20, 2014

British Hostage, John Cantlie: something odd about his video

He said in the video: "I may live or die".  But the ISIS Arabic translation says something different. It says: "I may get killed or live".  Why the discrepancy?

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declares all-out war

This kooky caliph has a terrible speaking style: the voice and the tone is jarring.  He thinks he is reciting the Qur'an when he speaks.  Maybe he equates his words with holy words.  But the talk is rather defensive.  He is denying takfiring the people of Syria (or Levant as Obama likes to say these days).  But he insists on takfiring Shi`ites and `Alawites.

American bombs never kill civilians

"A senior State Department official said Sunday that the Iraqi air force’s “targeting is not nearly as precise as ours, and they’ve made some real mistakes.”"

Failings and shortcomings of Western correspondents in Beirut

Yesterday, New TV aired footage of throngs chanting allegiance to ISIS in Tripoli, North Lebanon. Western reporters were describing the militias in Tripoli as "pro-Western" simply because they were part of March 14. They were, as ISIS belongs to the "pro-West" March 14 movement in Lebanon.  And as the ISIS and Nusrah (they now want us to forget that Nusrah is also Al-Qa`idah) built up their presence in Lebanon in `Irsal and other places, no Western correspondents bothered to report on that phenomenon. They were simply referring to the military presence in `Irsal as Syrian "refugees".  Notice how they write about `Irsal now without any background or explanation or apologies about omission in coverage.

You will be aware that he has previously interned at The Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper

"In August, the BBC published an online article questioning the UN's description of Israel's attacks on Gaza as 'indiscriminate'. The BBC's Head of Statistics, Anthony Reuben, spun the Palestinian casualty figures in an attempt to prove that Israel was carrying out targeted attacks only, as claimed by the Israeli government." "But Reuben’s impartiality on the subject of Palestine and Israel is extremely doubtful. You will be aware that he has previously interned at The Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper, which is vocal in its support of Israel's occupation."

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

"Israeli occupation forces issued on Wednesday a decree banning farmers from irrigating agriculture on their stepped lands in Atov, located in eastern Tubas city in the occupied West Bank, threatening to arrest any citizen who cultivates his or her land."

re: media response to Israel's blackmailing of gay Palestinians

"Second, singling out sexuality suggests that "sexuality" should be the most important priority for Palestinian organizations – including ours – in our struggle against Israeli apartheid, colonization, and dispossession.  It also suggests that sexuality can be singled out from Israeli apartheid, colonization, and dispossession.  This isolation of sexuality as a discrete site of oppression bolsters mainstream LGBT rights discourses which, historically, make this oppression legible only through the frame of purported Palestinian “homophobia” and Israeli “tolerance.”  In this sense, singling out homosexuality strengthens pinkwashing and, in particular, the specific and false pinkwashing narrative of the queer Palestinian who must remain closeted within their community, living in secret, always worried about being outed, and looking to Israel as the all-powerful, all-knowing entity capable of protecting their queer life and rendering it intelligible. Falling prey to this logic only entrenches a false, racist binary that actively frames Palestine and Palestinians as homophobic versus Israel and Israelis as sexually tolerant and liberal."

Zionist Jewish American organizations and the Islamophobia campaign

I have said this before but will say it again for someone who has always cared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should not be allowed to spoil the relations between Arabs and Jews or between Muslims and Jews: the silence of many key Zionist Jewish American organizations toward the blatant anti-Islam campaigns in the US, and the heavy involvement and endorsement by some of those organizations, is so dangerous not only to the future status of Jewish-Arab relations, but even also to the plight of Jews in Arab and Muslims lands. Can't the leaders of those organizations see that? Is that not too obvious? I mean, politically speaking: how dumb is it to be involved in bigoted campaign against 1.7 billion adherents of a faith?

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

"Israeli occupation forces issued on Wednesday a decree banning farmers from irrigating agriculture on their stepped lands in Atov, located in eastern Tubas city in the occupied West Bank, threatening to arrest any citizen who cultivates his or her land."

Washington is populated by enough disingenuous, misinformation-spreading hucksters

"Drawing on nine years in the nation's capitol, Klein acknowledges one class of obstacles. "Washington is a cesspool of faux-experts who do bad research (or no research)," he explained, "but retain their standing by dint of affiliations, connections, or charisma." Sweet validation! I've often suspected that official Washington is populated by enough disingenuous, misinformation-spreading hucksters to fill an underground container of organic waste." (thanks Amir)

My review of the IPhone

My review of the new IPhone 6 and IPhone 6 plus. I went to the store yesterday to inspect the new IPhone (my contract does not expire until early November: for those who are outside the US, we can get the IPhone at much lower prices here in the US once we sign a two-year contract with a phone service provider).  The woman at the store told me that there were people who camped outside the store from 2:00AM just to get the first look at the new IPhone.  When I was there in the afternoon, it was not very crowded.  When you see the IPhone 6 Plus: one thing will strike you: it is very big, and I mean very big.  It indeed feels like a mini tablet.  A colleague told me about someone who confused the IPad mini with the 6 plus and tried to make a call on it.  I like the fact that the IPhone is very thin and the design is very pretty and I like the round edges. But the protruding back camera seems a flaw of design.  I don't know why that was necessary, technically speaking.  The resolution of both IPhones was spectacular.  The vividness of the color is better than real colors, I felt. You do notice the better picture resolution for sure.  The problem with IPhone 6 Plus, however, that there is a real danger of slippage in one's hand.  There is little friction and the way it fits in one's hand makes is easy to slip and fall.  For that, I think that one certainly needs a good sturdy case for it (that applies but to a lesser degree to the IPhone 6.  Despite all that, I am leaning towards the IPhone 6 Plus.  I like the big size.  Pictures below.  


Friday, September 19, 2014

Hizbullah in the Face of Tornadoes

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Hizbullah in the Face of Tornadoes".

Al-Lidd airport, Palestine: 1939

This is a first: an article in Foreign Policy links to an Arabic website which has a reputation lower than the National Inquirer in the US

"Armed men posing with severed heads".  How can you continue reading when the link is to the sleazy Hariri yellow journalism website really?

Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

"Forget the sobering fact that the western-backed Saudi regime has beheaded dozens in public in recent months, including for "sorcery", or that British troops infamously had themselves photographed with the severed heads of guerrillas during the Malayan war in the 1950s." "Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process."

The American empire

"The U.S. military used a camera as a torture device at Abu Grahib. To add further humiliation to detainees who were already put in cages, urinated on, stripped naked then stacked in macabre human pyramids, their photos were taken during these degrading acts."

Alan Dershowitz and his defense of Israel

If Israel were to kill one million Palestinians, I can see Derwhowitz defending the action. I can see him arguing: yes, they killed one million but they did not kill six. That is a sign of the humanity of the state.

Zionist dirty tricks

""Hardly anyone in Israel can speak 4,000-year-old Aramaic. Now, the Israeli decision to recognise "Aramean" as a distinct nationality in the country's population register is fuelling the ire of Israeli Arab leaders, who accuse the government of inventing a category of peoplehood to "divide and rule" the Arab minority."" (thanks Amir)

Ben Hubbard justifies alliances with Al-Qa`idah

Ben Hubbard justifies the alliance between the "moderate" rebel groups and Al-Qa`idah (which is part of the US coalition against ISIS):  "And some acknowledge that battlefield necessity has put them in the trenches with the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate".

Please, I beg you: don't be judgmental

Please, please. Don't be judgmental. According to the New York Times, the man to the right (a rebel leader, Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin) is secular, moderate, liberal, feminist and thoroughly vetted by the CIA.  

Syrian rebels: vaccinates with poision:

So I read in the Free Syrian Army Times that the Syrian rebels will investigate the matter of spoiled vaccines.  Can you first report to us first about the results of previous investigations by the rebels of cases of war crimes? And then you can report back to me.  This is like American investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan of causes of helicopter crashes (always mechanical of course).

ISIS and the US role

This is an audio of the Boston radio program that I participated in about ISIS and the American role.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On radio shortly: talking about ISIS and Saudi Arabia and US wars

I will be on the radio shortly with Patrick Cockburn and John Mearsheimer.

Hani Fahs is dead: Shi`ite Wahhabism

Lebanese Shi`ite cleric, Hani Fahs, is dead.  He is of course being praised in Hariri and Saudi media because he was an employee of those media.  I have said before that there is no man who switched political positions in a lifetime than this man and `Adil-`Abdul-Mahdi of Iraq (but I maintain that the latter genuinely changed positions from Fato to Maoist to Islamist etc).  Hani Fahs was first a follower of the As`ad reactionary family, and then became a supporter of Fath, and then became a supporter of Musa As-Sadr, and then became a follower of Khuymani and worked in Iran in the early years of the revolution, and then became close to Hizbullah, and then became close, again, to Amal Movement, and after 2005 became close to, or loyal to, Hariri family and Saudi regime.  That in Lebanon is being praised because the ultimate destination was the House of Saud.  I had written an article about him two years ago. 

Anne Barnard is back covering Syria from Beirut: the propaganda pitch is even higher about "moderate terrorists"

"Insurgents of all stripes, except for the Islamic State group, say the Syrian government appears to be stepping up its attacks on them ahead of the threatened American air campaign. Pro-government and antigovernment analysts say Mr. Assad has an interest in eliminating the more moderate rebels, to make sure his forces are the only ones left to benefit on the ground from any weakening of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS." The first version of this article, if I am not mistaken as I remember it from yesterday, claimed that ISIS has said that the Syrian regime has not stepped it attacks on it.  Now the new version by Barnard claims that insurgents "of all stripes" claimed that the Syrian regime stepped up attacks, leaving the impression (less strident than the previous propaganda version) that ISIS has actually said that the regime has stepped it attacks.  Now ISIS has not said anything on the matter, and I doubt that if asked, ISIS would say that, no, the regime has not stepped it attacks on it, as Barnard reports from her Ahrar Sham fighters (Saudi and American controlled).  Of course, those Saudi-American-run are going to claim to Barnard (who always report what FSA or those new favored rebels have to say without any questions or qualifications or investigation or verification) are going to claim that the regime is in cahoots with ISIS in order to receive yet more cash and arms.  Now, if Barnard knows Arabic she does not) only recently the same Syrian rebel media and oil and gas Arab media were reporting that the regime did step up attacks on ISIS but then accused the regime of killing Sunnis.  Oh, wait: as I reread the passage further, I realize that Barnard did not change the text as I read it further.  Here she says that sentence: "But Islamic State activists in Homs said on Wednesday that there had been no recent government airstrikes against the group". When did ISIS say that? You are telling me that ISIS made a statement in which it said: that the Syrian regime is not attacking us? are you kidding here, Ms. Barnard? Do you really believe everything that those rebels tell you? What did ISIS also say: that yes, we in ISIS are in cahoots with the regime?  How credible is this reportage?  But who cares as Ms. Barnard tells us that this rebel groups is--surprise, surprise--is yet another MODERATE group: "The Faith in God Brigade in Talbiseh is probably one of the most moderate forces left on the battlefield".  A moderate group with a name like Faith In God?  Why not add: this is a secular group named Faith in God?  Add more to the credibility of the article while you are at it.  Wait: I was wrong. Ms. Barnard does actually marshals evidence that this group is in fact moderate: "Before the war, Mr. Abu Nouh, 29, was an Internet technician. In the early days of the uprising, he wore his hair long, kept a poster of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden in his house, and watched American movies like “Fight Club” with civilian activists and asked them to bring him vodka from Damascus along with medical supplies and computer equipment." Long hair and vodka? If that is not a sign of Arab moderation nothing is.  And since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, I always identify when a Syrian rebel is lying: when the claim that they are independently funded from "Syrian exiles". Here is an example yet again: "The brigade in Talbiseh has refused to join with more extreme groups like the Islamic State or the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, Mr. Abu Nouh said. He said the brigade raised money mainly from Syrian émigrés in Persian Gulf states who have local relatives."  I bet. Was the TOW missiles also bought by Syrian emigres as well?  By the end of the article, Ms. Barnard seems to change her mind about the moderation of this group:  "And while they are more moderate than the Islamic State, the brigade’s Sunni fighters nonetheless express sectarian hatred toward the minority Alawite sect that forms Mr. Assad’s base. Mr. Abu Nouh shrugged at the news that 18 civilians were wounded in pro-government neighborhoods on Wednesday, saying, “They are Alawites.”" Did you mean to say, Ms. Barnard, that those are moderate terrorists? 

South Africa Supreme Court

After a months long court battle BDS South Africa (BDS-SA) won a “precedent-setting” freedom of expression court case last Thursday, September 11. In October 2012 BDS-SA along with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) purchased advertisements on billboards across South Africa. Not unlike what occurred when the Boston transit authority pulled Ads Against Apartheid’s “One Word” subway ads with no warning, South Africa’s Con­ti­nen­tal Out­door Media removed two BDS South Africa ads prior to their contractual expiration date without giving any notice to BDS-SA or the PSA." (thanks Peter)

No change to Gaza blockade since ceasefire

"There have been no changes to restrictions on Gaza's crossings since a ceasefire agreement went into effect at the end of August, a Palestinian official said Wednesday."

Sabra and Shatila

"Israel has appointed itself to be judge, jury and executioner, without world supervision, investigation, transparency.. It's a constant drip, a slow painful massacre that the world continues to ignore. Israel's bloody history repeats itself and this will continue until the world demands otherwise." (thanks Amir)

Sen McCain can reinvent the Syrian rebel

"Sen. McCain: We Can Make The Syria Rebels Strong And Resilient". He added that he can also make them feminist, secular, and progressive.  (thanks Michele)

"Core beliefs of an Israeli TV pundit on 'Arab affairs'?"

From Eyal in 1948 Palestine: "As you may know, Israeli TV correspondents and commentators are - with few exceptions - not Arab, do not speak Arabic and are not accompanied by translators when covering issues such as Palestinian society within Israel, Israeli-Arab-state or other regional political interactions etc.
The exception to this is an important role in Israeli TV news: The 'Commentator/Interpreter for Arab affairs'. This man (and of course it is a man), brimming with self-confidence and assurance, will explain to you the curious and puzzled viewer why these strange and remote people, the Arabs, act the way they do, and what strange ideas they have in their exotic heads.

Without going into the many questionable and sometimes ridiculous claims they make, let us consider one of them, Mr. Zvi Yehezq'eli, who works for Israeli Channel 10 news. He is known, among other things, for the "shocking" documentary about the Muslim danger to Europe:


Well, here's a copy of a video clip from a discussion Mr. Yehezq'eli was having regarding his process of becoming more religious. He has this to say (video is in Hebrew):


The key quote is: "Within my inner self, I know it... every Jew knows this in his innermost self, that there must be something by which he is 'a light unto the nations' and better than his neighbor'; he knows that he [the Jew] is on the side of being the 'king's son', while he [the non-Jew] is on the side of being the 'slave-woman's son'"

Now, I don't think this particular outlook is shared by Ehud Ya'ari (of Channel 2 news, formerly of the State's Channel 1 news), or Oded Granot (State Channel 1), but that would probably not be for want of racism - rather for want of religiosity."

This is someone Americans can admire: an intellect that they can identify with

"In May, Ms. Alonso said in an interview with the Voice of America, “I wish that the United States would invade with bullets to remove all those wretched communists from Venezuela.”"  Very sophisticated mind. I won't be surprised if she win the Nobel Prize in Thought.

Samantha Power explains imperialist privilege and hubris

"The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, on Tuesday struck a testy note when asked whether there was a legal basis for airstrikes on Syria.

“We believe we have a basis for action,” she said, declining to describe what they were, because, as she said, it would depend on the action taken and under what circumstances. “In the event that action is taken, believe me, we will have plenty of time to engage on it.”"

The New York Times justifies and sugar coats the murder of Syrian children

"The victims, some of them infants, apparently all died Tuesday, mostly concentrated in the cities of Jarjanaz and Sinjar in Idlib Province, an area controlled by forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. These opposition forces have sought to function as an interim government and provide basic health care, including inoculations and vaccinations to children, given the collapse of Syria’s public health care system since the civil war began more than three years ago."  Well, they failed in those tasks, HAVE NOT THEY?

Netanyahu claims that Sunnis adopted him

"Netanyahu claimed the shared threat from the radical Sunni IS and Iranian-led radical Shiite groups has prompted Sunni states in the region to “reevaluate their relationship with Israel.”
“They understand that Israel is not their enemy but their ally in the fight against this common enemy. And I believe this presents an opportunity for cooperation and perhaps an opportunity for peace,” Netanyahu said." (thanks Narrima)

a brilliant Lebanese doctor in the News: An-Nahar will soon brag about him

" Michigan doctor faces life in prison after he admitted to intentionally misdiagnosing patients with cancer and recommending unnecessary chemotherapy to dying patients.

Dr. Farid Fata pleaded guilty Tuesday to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, reported the Detroit Free Press." (thanks Nader)

"Israeli Supreme Court upholds law allowing housing discrimination against Palestinians"

"Yesterday, Israel’s Supreme Court dismissed a petition by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel effectually facilitating the Judaization of more Palestinian owned land inside Israel. According to Adalah, the court’s decision holding up Israel’s Admissions Committees Law, “entrenches racial segregation; 434 small communities in Israel, or 43% of all residential areas, will be allowed to close their doors to Palestinian Arab citizens of the state.” Much of the land in question was originally confiscated from Palestinian refugees, and the court’s decision will result in the continued concentration and containment of the Palestinian population in Israel."

vaccination of poison

The crimes, all the crimes, of the Syrian rebels, go unpunished by Western government and uncovered by Western media.  Syrian rebels have vaccinated the children of Syria with poison and killed scores (we don't know the exact number) and the Western media which covered the story left the rebels blameless.

Muhammad bin Nayif and his dirty tricks

Saudi intelligence hacked the account of courageous comrade, Madawi Al-Rasheed.  This is something that have gotten the attention of Western media if the Iranian regime were to do it against a dissident. 
#Western_hypocrisy

Scotland

How can you not support Scottish independence when you see the rabid Western propaganda frenzy against the cause?  I am in favor of larger (internationalist) identity and solidarity but the reactionary stance of the UK, and the particularly unique progressive component of the Scottish political culture makes me a supporter of separation.  Of course, the strong support for Palestine in Scotland influences my stance as well. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Libya is the place

I strongly believe that those who can looking for a quick fortune can find it in Libya: bank robbery has never been easier and Libyans are discovering that. It is as easy as robbing a bank in 9th century America. 

Syrian children

If the regime, and not the "rebels", were the one who gave children spoiled vaccines and killed them, there would have been an international uproar and there would have been accusations of genocide and the UNSC would have convened in a special session.  Western sympathies are more fake: their disregard and insensitivity are genuine.

Ahmad Al-Khalidi making sense in the Times

Ahmad Khalidi: "In many ways, the current struggle among the Arab gulf kingdoms (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) and the various iterations of violent jihadism is a family fight, a struggle for power and legitimacy within Wahhabist, salafist and other interpretations of Islam. So by insisting on a Sunni coalition, the West will only appear to be joining a gulf-led war on the Shiites of Iraq, Syria and Iran. (It bears noting that neither Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite movement based in Lebanon, nor Iran has declared a global war on the West and non-Muslims, unlike Saudi-inspired salafists and their jihadist brethren.)"  You rarely read this in the Times.

Moderate rebels ask Israel to impose No-Fly Zone over Syria

"Israel, the commander said, should impose a no-fly area over the buffer zone and allow the moderate opposition fighters to continue eastward, toward Damascus."

NSA helps Israel in terrorizing the Palestinians

"Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. "I think that's amazing," he told me. "It's one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen." "

UN-Rebel negligence kills Syrian children

"At least 34 children have died in rebel-held Syria after being injected with contaminated measles vaccines," "Parents accused opposition health authorities of failing to store the vaccines properly, and of supplying out-of-date medication. But opposition officials denied accusations of negligence, saying that the vaccines came from Unicef and WHO, via the Turkish government," (thanks Amir)