Monday, April 28, 2008

A region that loves cosmetic surgery

So symptomatic of a region in sociocultural turmoil, in my opinion.

It's not uncommon to hear voices calling for bans on all kinds of tools that make the world so modern, from TV and satellite TV to mobile phones and the Internet.

They know not what they want, because they are going through a crazy transition (a la Emmanuel Todd i.e. increasing literacy and increasingly--or is that 'decreasingly'--lower birth rates cause people to become 'modern').

But it's much easier for these people to accept cosmetic surgery because it plays with the concept of beauty and affects self-esteem.

I love the way human weaknesses and the capacity for hypocrisy are so magnified as they are in the Middle East.

One second you're watching Arab female pop stars half-naked with their Western porno-style make-up, the next second you switch to the next channel to see some bearded religious man blast non-Moslems for being so effete and decadent.
The Bank of England has imposed a permanent news blackout on its £50bn-plus plan to ease the credit crunch. Ferocious and unprecedented secrecy means taxpayers will never know the names of the banks that have been supported through the special liquidity scheme, which was unveiled by Bank Governor Mervyn King last week.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face...
* because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism's conquest of the planet
* for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.
* for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged
* for his pure arrogance.
* as the only way to compensate for the ridiculousness of having this fool speak on Earth Day.
On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists — we, the Greenwash Guerrillas, declare Thomas Friedman's "Green" as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip covering his face."

(But most of all he deserves to be pied because of this - Q.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Blessed DJ

GLENN GREENWALD: This is the justification that reporters use repeatedly whenever they focus on insipid, substance-free stories. They pretend that if it were strictly up to them, they of course would focus on the serious substantive matters that the country faces, because they’re politically sophisticated observers. The problem, they say, is that Americans, the sort of heartland voter whom they patronizingly look down upon is interested in these sort of personality-based Drudge-like issues, and therefore they have no choice but to report them, since these are the issues that are going to predominate in our political process.

Now, leave aside the question as to whether or not journalists holding themselves out as political journalists have an obligation to focus on the more substantive matters, independent of what they can do in order to generate as high ratings as possible, even if you assume that political journalism ought to simply feed the public whatever the public wants, there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the American public is more interested in Barack Obama’s bowling score or whether he wears a lapel pin than they are in how our political leaders are going to address the grave economic insecurity that the country faces or extricate ourselves from the debacle in Iraq that’s becoming increasingly savage and brutal without any end in sight. This is a fiction, an invention on the part of political journalists to justify their never-ending coverage of trash.

And in fact there’s much evidence to suggest—and you can ask any political elected official—that when they go back to their district, what they hear continuously are grave complaints from their constituents and others about just how ridiculous and inane political coverage is and how dominated it is by matters that have nothing to do with their lives and with the problems that they face. And these journalists believe that they’re sort of spokespeople for the people in the heartland and speak for them and patronizingly say that they’re interested in these insipid issues and that’s why they’re covered. The reality is there’s no connection between the establishment journalistic class and the people whom they claim to represent, and the reason they cover those issues is because they, the journalists, want to cover them, not because the people want to hear them.


AMY GOODMAN: At one point in the debate, Senator Obama voiced his frustration with the questions by the ABC moderators.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I think what’s important is to make sure that we don’t get so obsessed with gaffes that we lose sight of the fact that this is a defining moment in our history. We are going to be tackling some of the biggest issues that any president has dealt with in the last forty years.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Obama talking to the moderators. Glenn Greenwald?

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, he’s absolutely right about that. I mean, what’s so ironic about this is that ABC melodramatically touted this debate as one that would confront grave constitutional questions. It was in the National Constitution Hall, and that was how they touted it.

If you look at public opinion polls, the American public knows that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our country. Eight out of ten Americans think the country is dramatically off track. We have one of the most radical and hated administrations in modern American history, that has dismantled our constitutional framework, that has brought us into extreme economic precariousness and disrepute around the world. And yet, here are our leading journalists asking these type of questions as though those are the things that Americans want to hear.

And what happens is, whenever you point out that it is the media that is rendering our political discourse so toxic in a way that really disserves the American public, the way that Obama did, most journalists will immediately start banding together and attacking whoever the critic is who points out the media behavior. And so, you had all journalists across the board—Roger Simon in The Politico, Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, and especially David Brooks in the New York Times—essentially attacking Obama for being too petulant or for being too soft and incapable of withstanding the hardships of political battle, as though there’s something adversarial and substantive about what it is that they’re doing, rather than trashy and petty.

And again, you saw—there’s a column from David Brooks this morning, who always thinks he’s the spokesman for heartland American values, who says that the reason why things like John Kerry’s windsurfing tights and John Edwards’s haircut and Barack Obama’s bowling score are relevant is because that’s what the American people care about. And Barack Obama, who’s spent the last fifteen months going around the country and speaking to the American people, knows that that’s not the case. Everyone knows that that’s not the case. But when you point out the corruption of the journalist class, of course, you then immediately become the target of attack by the pack mentality in which journalists operate.
I gave them a vision. What do the Palestinians want from me now?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aimé Césaire 1913-2008

Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That is the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What's more, it's a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well.

- Aimé Césaire, The Tempest

Monday, April 14, 2008

Taking Stands

See: Fanonite.

We must urge the government of China to make the strongest possible statement of its commitment to human rights and international law, its zero tolerance for wars of aggression, genocide, human trafficking, human organ trafficking, narcotrafficking, apartheid, and terrorism, by barring the US, British and Israeli teams from the games.

"Immaterial Labour"

Four years ago the Americans and Canadians with the backing of the French, decapitated Haitian human rights, kidnapping her president and instituting fascist rule by a combination of some of the greediest businessmen in the world and the murderous thugs they hired in an attempt to depose the overwhelmingly popular president of the Haitians, Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Mr Bush and Mr Colin Powell and a mixed gaggle of French and Canadian politicians had decided that freedom and independence were too good for the black people of Haiti. Lest you think I am being racist, there is abundant evidence that the conspiracy against Haiti was inspired by racial hatred and prejudice.

I have gone into this before and I will not return to it today. Suffice it to say that the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called 'civilised world', decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in the world.

Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery. Along with some other poor people in other countries, the Haitians have been driven to desperation and the edge of starvation by the rapidly increasing price of food. Unlike all the others, the Haitians are over the edge, they are starving, refugees in their own proud country, where many are forced to eat dirt to survive, however tenuously....

...So, the Haitians have taken to the streets and more than half a dozen starvelings have already been shot dead by the armed forces of civilisation, by the satraps and surrogates of George Bush and his Canadian and French accomplices.

The Haitian diaspora leads world diasporas in supporting the population of the native country. Haitians living abroad send more than $2billion in remittances, mostly cash but also goods, to Haiti yearly. 80% of Haitian born émigrés send money regularly to Haiti. This is the only genuine "foreign aid" the Haitian population receives. The bulk of this money comes from the diaspora working in the US; about a quarter only comes from Canada and the Eurozone. Fed and White House policy of currency inflation has catastrophically crashed the purchasing power of the remittances upon which the Haitian citizenry and the Haitian economy depend.
The Johns Hopkins studies employ the method accepted around the world to measure birth and death rates in the wake of natural and man-made disasters: a cluster survey. It is the same method that was used to estimate that 200,000 have been killed in Sudan's Darfur region (Science, 9/15/06). Yet, while the Darfur figure has been cited over 1,000 times by major U.S. press outlets just within the last year (e.g., AP, 12/6/07; New York Times, 12/6/07; Miami Herald, 12/5/07), the estimate for Iraq is ignored. The Darfur figure is considered so uncontroversial that a source for the number is almost never given. Often, it is not even called an estimate; for example, Associated Press reported (12/5/07), "More than 200,000 people have died." In contrast, when the Johns Hopkins figure on Iraqi deaths is provided, it is accompanied by criticism or strong disclaimers. A recent Associated Press article (12/3/07) reported that Iraqi civilian deaths are "estimated at more than 75,000, with one controversial study last year contending there were as many as 655,000."
Looking to honor the forty-third President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, the recently formed Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is looking to change the name of the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility. It seems the group would like to rename the SF Zoo adjacent facility to the "George W Bush Sewage Plant."

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Fair to say that at this point (via LT) to continue to speak of the KLA as the paramilitary growing out of a spontaneous nationalist liberation movement picked up late in the game by Clinton and the CIA because they were in the right place at the right time would be naïve beyond satire. Mengelism + profitable organ harvesting racket is not the conduct of insurgent nationalist guerillas, however brutal. It is the enterprise of a mafia with very wealthy, well connected and powerful protectors who themselves act with complete impunity.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Crumbs of comfort

Monday, April 07, 2008

"Hi! How y'all doin'? Wow! Fun to be here!"

April 4, 2008:

April 4, 1968:

The old man on the far left appears to be close to tears. (Why else would the other man be grasping his wrist like that?) And no wonder. He knows where he is, and when.

But where did the possible future President acquire her demeanour? And what did she think she was doing? Attending a St. Paddy's Day parade? Receiving an Oscar? Opening a fucking restaurant?

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Cheney at Auschwitz, dressed to kill.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Help With Matheory Please

The atmosphere in Belgrade is, at least for the time being, carnivalesque in a faked way - when they are not in shelters, people dance to rock or ethnic music on the streets, under the motto "With music against bombs!", playing the role of the defying heroes (since they know that NATO does not really bomb civilian targets). Although it may fascinate some confused pseudo-Leftists, this obscene carnivalization of the social life is effectively the other, public, face of ethnic cleansing: while in Belgrade people defiantly dance on the streets, three hundred kilometers to the South, a genocide of African proportions is taking place. (Zizek)

Would that be bigger or smaller than European proportions? Is he saying a relatively small genocide, for the European setting, is taking place, or a relatively big one?

Any assistance in clearing this up will be vastly appreciated.