Sunday, June 27, 2004

"The liberation of Baghdad is not far away"

/ iraq / occupation / resistance /
This is from the Asia Times, so it is very likely serious. A fascinating interview with the heads of the Ba'athist resistence.
"On the eve of the so-called transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi caretaker government on June 30, former Saddam Hussein generals turned members of the elite of the Iraqi resistance movement have abandoned their clandestine positions for a while to explain their version of events and talk about their plans. According to these Ba'ath officials, 'the big battle' in Iraq is yet to take place.

'The Americans have prepared the war, we have prepared the post-war. And the transfer of power on June 30 will not change anything regarding our objectives. This new provisional government appointed by the Americans has no legitimacy in our eyes. They are nothing but puppets.'

Why have these former officers waited so long to come out of their closets? 'Because today we are sure we're going to win.' "

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Incredible: France 0-1 Greece

/ magnificent / improbabilities/
I can't escape reporting that the inconceivable happenned and Greece is in the Euro semis... All Greek cities, towns and villages are involved in a huge celebration which is... well, incredible fun. I just saw a guy dancing over his own overturned and trashed car, waving flags all over the place. Cars are honking their way around Athens in festive convoys... I don't dare imagine what will happen if the national team reaches the final!
The BBC has pictures from Greece, although I hear similar celebrations erupted in Germany, Australia, Canada etc.
Update As Tex says in the comments... Melbourne is partying - and so is Sidney!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Inside Al-Jazeera

/ journalism / arab /
In these Times features this interview with Al-Jazeera journalist Samir Khader about the Arab news network, the Middle East, Iraq and the Media. Offers a refreshing perspective, miles away from the current stereotypes, and is definitely worth a read. Excerpt:

For decades, American administrations fully supported Arab dictatorships under the pretext that these governments allied with the United States in the war against communism. They didn’t care that the Arab world lacked democracy and freedom. After 9/11, they discovered this policy has transformed some Arab countries into factories producing terrorists. Now the United States wants to change things by introducing democracy to the Arab world. But how can they do that with guns? Therefore, we see ourselves at Al-Jazeera as the manifestation of the change that should happen in the Middle East. We introduce free speech, pluralism, openness to the Arab world. We were the first, only network to cross red lines. To break taboos. To uncover corruption in the Arab world. This is why we are Enemy No. 1 of many Arab governments. So when you see America attacking Al-Jazeera, you wonder what they really want for this Middle East.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro

/ balkan / past and present/
In light of an interesting discussion we're having with Doug Muir in the comments of my latest post on Kosovo, I'd like to present the opinion of Andrej Grubacic on Kosovo and his seemingly utopian solution for the province... his analysis is right on the money as well IMHO.
Of note also is Alex Dajkovic's piece on Montenegro, an old article which is descriptive of the financial recolonization of the Balkans in general.

Friday, June 18, 2004

This won't hurt much

/ rumsfeld / adolescents / discipline /
Terry Jones (of Monty Pythons' fame) writes about the problems he's having with his son, his way of handling the problem and how Donald Rumsfeld helped allay his fears about his rather radical methods.
Beyond hilarious.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Coming to bury Reagan, not to praise him

/ funeral / orations / nonstandard/
It is said that one should not speak ill of the recently deceased. Bullshit. Let them reap the reward their lifetimes afford them. When Nixon died, the proper obituary was Hunter S. Thompson's. It was titled He was a Crook and rarely has such a fierce polemic been launched more passionately and more deservedly. Now with Reagan dead and most US media lamenting the "great man", very few dared come right out and give the Hollywood snitch the "eulogy" he deserves. I will not, of course indulge in this sort of hypocrisy. Rather, as a web tribute I have gathered some few, brave and brutaly honest opinions on the man, his legacy and the media praises that followed his death:

"...The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million.

"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up..."

John Dolan: Here Lies the Worst of All. Excerpt:
In all of America, isn't there one person brave enough to dump wet cement on Reagan's Hollywood Boulevard star? Isn't there one bitter reject with nothing to lose, willing to pour lighter fluid over the "tributes" Reagan's fans have been laying outside the funeral home?

Apparently not. Every fool in America is deep in mourning for this worthless man, who had no conscience, no intellect and no shame. He had all the faults and none of the virtues of the fascist: malice without frankness; cruelty without courage; pomp without dignity. And if all 285 million of you suckers are willing to sit there and let the jerks lie about him to your face, then you deserve him. He really was your kind of man.

No one but a sucker would stand for the crap they're saying about Reagan. The claims they're making for Reagan aren't just false -- they're comic...

Matt Taibbi: IN MEMORIAM - You need to be really special to get the big funeral. Excerpt:

Reagan's legacy was a generous one. He made it acceptable in America for people to stand up for their belief that "if you've seen one tree, you've seen them all." Because of Reagan, America can now safely think that homeless people are homeless "because they want to be homeless," that people who go hungry at night do so because they're "on a diet," that Mt. St. Helens caused more sulfur air pollution than cars, that welfare recipients were "a faceless mass, waiting for handouts," that too much federal education aid causes a drop in corporate profits.

We celebrated Ronald Reagan's death for a week because we believe in covering our asses to protect our careers, naming names if we have to. We gorged ourselves on this elaborate military funeral because we just love being a country that laughs at the Savios and Berrigans of the world for their embarrassing quality of standing up for peace. We lionize Reagan because he represents our best qualities: our callow patriotism, our hatred of losers and the poor, our fear of change, our xenophobia, our total mediocrity. He was the champion of these things and he died to great fanfare. It's America's better nature that dies—has died—quietly.

Mark Ames: Burying Iraq under Reagan's Corpse. Excerpt:
When Ronald Reagan took power in 1981, Americans lived completely different lives. Health care insurance was a given for nearly all working Americans. Downsizing -- the concept of mass layoffs in order to boost a CEO's bonus -- hadn't entered the vocabulary. Neither had outsourcing. Working parents came home from work before sundown and ate dinners with their families. Unions were strong, and the industrialists felt a social responsibility to ensuring their workers' well-being. This was all reflected in the income differential: in 1979, the average CEO earned 30 times his average employees' wage. For some reason no one wants to remember this part of the past -- because it's too depressing, and speaks too obviously to the real decline in America.

Reagan came to office and told the plutocrats to take everything that they wanted. I mean everything. Today, CEOs make 571 times their average employees' wage. Today's male white collar workers in America only earn, in real dollars, six cents per hour more today than they earned in 1973. Health care is increasingly hard to come by, no job is ever safe, Americans work far longer hours and suffer from stress-related illnesses once unheard of. As an Economic Policy Institute report noted, "What income growth there was over the 1979-1989 period was driven primarily by more work at lower wages." What happened to Russia in the 90s was really started by Reagan's attack on Americans in the 80s. When Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1981, he told America he was literally willing to kill us all if we didn't give in to his plan to transfer the wealth out of the pockets of the middle- and lower-middle classes and into the plutocrats' offshore accounts. It was so shocking that it worked. The air controller's union broke -- and so did a whole way of life. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we are all miserable wage slaves...or exiles.

Fr. Miquel D'Escoto (ex- foreign minister of Nicaragua): Reagan was the Butcher of My People

So, Reagan did damage to Nicaragua beyond the imaginations of the people who are hearing me now. The ripple effects of that criminal murderous intervention in my country will go on for 50 years or more.

Joe Davidson: Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Worth Remembering. Excerpt:
"...After taking office in 1981, Reagan began a sustained attack on the government’s civil rights apparatus, opened an assault on affirmative action and social welfare programs, embraced the White racist leaders of then-apartheid South Africa and waged war on a tiny, Black Caribbean nation.

So thorough was Reagan’s attack on programs of importance to African Americans, that the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights, an organization formed in the wake of Reagan’s attempt to neuter the official U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said he caused "an across-the-board breakdown in the machinery constructed by six previous administrations to protect civil rights."

Noam Chomsky: The Apotheosis of Ronald Reagan, Divinity Through Marketing:

There was something similar after the JFK assassination, but of course the assassination of a living president is quite different. I don't recall anything else remotely similar, perhaps since FDR, in the midst of a war, and of course he really was a significant figure, whatever one's judgment of him. Reagan is another story: mostly a PR creation in the first place, and massively so in recent years.

During his years in office, Reagan was not particularly popular. Gallup just published poll figures comparing him during office with other presidents. His average ratings during his years in office were below Kennedy, Johnson, Bush I, and Clinton; above Nixon, Ford, Carter. This is averages during their terms in office. By 1992 he was ranked just next to Nixon as the most unpopular living ex-president. Since then there has been an immense PR campaign to convert him into a revered and historic figure, if not semi-divine, and it's doubtless had an effect, radically shifting the rankings. Not on the basis of facts: rather, extremely effective marketing. The current performance is reminiscent of the death of Hirohito and Soviet leaders. One of the more depraved moments of US media. The lying is quite impressive, even by people who surely know better.

It is indeed, a time to remember the man.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

We bloody won!

/ football /results / amazing
I expected something like this. I'm kicking myself for not being brave enough to bet on Greece. Anyway our guys rocked yesterday... I think Herr Otto is by far the most competent government employee in the country. Next we play Russia... let's see...

Friday, June 11, 2004

A reminder for D-Day

/ history / WWII
By Mike Davis... As the 50th anniversary of D-Day came and went, a reminder to all of us in Europe (put probably beyond as well), that if it wasn't for the Red Army, we'd all be under the swastika right now... Thankfully the Russians were invited to the celebrations this year. The unmentionableness of their contribution to the allied effort is a source of quite a bit of, absolutely justified, bitterness in Russia.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Just another murder of a 16 year old in Kosovo

/ quagmires / old / kosovo
Impressively under-reported, another murder of a member of the endangered Serbian minority in Kosovo was reported this past Staurday. This is still a war zone and it feels like nobody has realized the colossal "failure" that the 1999 atrocity was...

Note two related stories:

- Canadian diplomat claims NATO war crimes:

Canada participated in a series of NATO-sanctioned war crimes against Yugoslavia, charges a former Canadian ambassador to the Balkan country.

To this day, Canada has failed to admit the pretences behind the bombing campaign that led to the NATO occupation of Kosovo had no substance, James Bissett said Tuesday in an interview before making a speech at the University of Alberta.

- Putin: Those Who Destroyed Serbian Infrastructure Should Rebuild It:

[Putin] says he supports Serbian efforts to bring peace to Kosovo, and expressed Russia's readiness to increase its involvement in helping to find a settlement.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Biotechnology and the poor: a case study

/ biotech / poverty
Im Mali and accross the developing world biotechnology fails to live up to its PR. Patents, culture and poverty clash in this fascinating example of the vagaries of the biotechnology patent system...

Economic warfare in the age of brands

/ brand names / terror
This seems to indicate that I'm not alone in my conscious attempt to avoid "imperial" brands. A good sign...
"According to NOP World, which carried out the survey, a mixture of America's controversial involvement in Iraq, its handling of the 'war against terrorism', corporate scandals such as WorldCom and its failure to sign up to the Kyoto environmental agreement, have all had a profoundly negative affect on the perception of US culture and its major brands."

Still, one doesn't need to be an anti-imperialist to dislike the corporations mentioned (MS, McDonald's, Coca-Cola)... I mean, some people really dislike Bill Gates, for example...

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Surely I'm more evil than that!

/ evils / histologion
Another greek blogger (aspripetraxexaspri - in Greek), has tested this site on the Gematriculator and found it 39% evil and 61% good, proof that these things are utter nonsense. I proudly display the banner however, regardless of my utter lack of faith in the occult - and much higher evil quotient

This site is certified 39% EVIL by the Gematriculator
In case you're wandering gematria is a form of Hebrew numerology.
The fact that this method has it all ass-backwards, is exposed by the rating for 4% evil 96% good. A form of value related dyslexia maybe?

Thursday, June 3, 2004

The Neo-Con Iraq Glossary

/ iraq / newspeak
An exile public service:
"After years of harping about liberal 'political correctness,' the Neo-Cons have invented a whole vocabulary designed to hide the unbearable facts in Iraq. Yup, these hardheaded realists have made up so many fairytale words that you need a glossary just to know what the hell they're talking about. So here it is: a quick bilingual dictionary to help the sane English speaker understand the Right's delusive Iraq babble."

The coup scenario

/ military regimes / prospective / USA
As current world events evolve towards an increasingly dystopic future, I'm more and more inclined to take "conspiratorial" scenarios more and more seriously. Especially when put forward by "...a CIA analyst for 27 years from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush..." I'm assuming he has a better insight on what's possible than your average Joe, and a better evaluation of the current US administration's actions and capabilities than most pundits. So when he says:
...Bush administration leaders may even look on the prospect of a terrorist event in the US in the coming months as a possible opportunity as well as a risk. I do not suggest they would perverse enough to allow one to happen, or-still less-to orchestrate one. But there is ample reason to believe that they would take full political advantage of a terrorist attack-or even just the threat of one...

Quite chilling stuff, in light of the real (however small) possibility of the current US administration's trial for non-compliance with the Geneva conventions, in a US court of law, as the conventions are (as the article points out) enshrined in US law under the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441). What would the Bush cabal be willing to do to avoid such a predicament...?