Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt Update, Monday

Apparently, most of Egypt remains without internet access at all, and it is being reported that cell phone users can call locally within Egypt, but all international cell calls are blocked.

The video below is another of those rambling live reports, but there is none the less a good deal of information to be gleaned. You'll note that when the studio anchor asks the field reporter where he is, the field reporter evades the question. Given that the Egyptian government has shut down the Cairo field office of Al Jazeera and jailed 6 reporters, I'm sure you can imagine why he's not more forthcoming.

(Open Salon readers, the video is here. YouTube has changed it's embed code from the embed command to the iframes command, and Open Salon is not dealing with it yet. Apologies.)

The Truth Is Punished

In a striking display of just how much tyrants hate the truth, (as if the US government's vendetta against Wikileaks were not sufficient proof of that point), the Egyptian government has shut down the Cairo office of Al Jazeera, arrested 6 of their reporters, and blocked transmission of the Al Jazeera signal through NileSat, a satellite communications network controlled by the government.

Obviously, AJE is doing a good job. But I wish I understood a little more of the background. For instance, if one accepts the theory that all Arab rulers are tyrants, and one has eyes to see that the unrest in Tunisia has now spread to Egypt, with evidence of serious unrest in Jordan and Algeria, then obviously all Arab tyrants are in danger. So why is the Emir of Qatar doing nothing to call off Al Jazeera, which has been arguably fueling the flames simply by reporting events so openly and comprehensively? Is the Al Jazeera network really as independent of political control as they claim to be? Given all that I know, (admittedly not a great deal), of Gulf politics, this would seem highly unlikely. And yet, there are only two other rational explanations.

First, it could be the case that events have simply moved forward too quickly for the Qatari political leadership to react. But this would be totally out of character. Qataris are known for being bold and decisive; perhaps not always prudent, but never given to dithering or hesitation. And this has been going on for a week now.

The other possible explanation is that the events in Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere are moving in a direction that political leadership in Qatar finds to be agreeable. As odd as it may seem at first glance, this explanation actually makes sense under closer examination. While much of the rest of the Arab world has moved progressively toward ever greater pandering to Israel, Qatar has remained steadfastly devoted to the cause of Palestinian liberation. Given the extent to which the Mubarak government has been a tool of Israel, a change in leadership along the Nile could very well work to the long-term benefit of the Palestinians.

Oh, and if you doubt that the Mubarak regime has been Israel's creature, take note that the Israeli government has called on the US and EU to stop criticizing Mubarak. Don't like that story at AJE? Try this one at Haaretz.

The fundamental fact of Middle East politics that is never mentioned in the main-stream media is that opinion on the Arab street is very strongly against Israel, and very strongly in favor of the liberation of Palestine. The reason why the USA and Israel support repressive puppet dictatorships in so much of the Arab world is precisely in order to contain this popular opinion. If the Arab people were allowed to govern themselves democratically, Israel would very quickly be under siege, at least in the politico-economic sense.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Latest From Egypt

We do not appreciate how scripted and planned news ordinarily is, until we see and hear the usually-silver-tongued news personalities fumbling and babbling on live TV. The two videos below are both recorded from live broadcasts by Al Jazeera English, and both provide a good look at just how flustered news people get when required to do without their scripts.

Keep in mind that although it is early Saturday in California, it was already late afternoon in Egypt when these were broadcast about an hour ago.

The first is visually interesting, but you might as well turn the sound off, as the news anchors commenting have no more idea what's going on than we do.

The next video is a live interview with a prominent Egyptian blogger now residing in South Africa. Note how the satellite lag on the voice link is driving them both crazy. This is the opposite of the above video; all the information is in the audio. The only thing you'll learn from the visual portion is that this Egyptian blogger desperately needs to spend a few minutes with a razor and a hair brush if he's going to do video interviews. (and we'll just ignore the fact that I look twice as scruffy as he does)

Abdelfataa makes some interesting points, in spite of the talk-overs. First, I was interested to hear him say that the "football clubs" have actually been the biggest force in organizing these demonstrations. It was also informative to hear him confirm that Al-Baradei, the former head of the IAEA, has lost much of his popularity for leaving the country at a time of crisis.

Interesting days, my friends, interesting days indeed.

Oh, and the whining, mealy-mouthed hypocrisy of the Obama administration in calling upon Mubarak to reform. As if our nation had not been giving the Mubarak government 1.5 billion dollars a year to maintain its security state stranglehold upon the Egyptian people, and doing so for decades now. I almost pity Hilary for having to deliver such blatant bullshit. Then again, once you've had Bill Clinton's well-traveled cock in your mouth, I don't suppose a few lies can taste that much worse.

Political cartoons are often a good indicator of how people feel on a subject, assuming they survive the translation process and inter-cultural confusion. For three delicious cartoons from the Arab media that translate just fine, have a look here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

150 Years Ago

150 years ago, the Union was falling apart, and our nation stood upon the brink of war within itself.

150 years ago today, Senator Alfred Iverson of Georgia stood up in the Senate chambers to say goodbye to his colleagues of the Senate, and goodbye to the United States of America. Georgia had seceded from the Union, and the War Between The States was at hand.

Throwing down the gauntlet, Iverson challenged the Senate with these words -

You may acquiesce in the revolution, and acknowledge the independence of the new confederacy, or you may make war on the seceding States, and attempt to force them back into a Union with you. If you acknowledge our independence, and treat us as one of the nations of the earth, you can have friendly intercourse with us; you can have an equitable division of the public property and of the existing public debt of the United States. If you make war upon us, we will seize and hold all the public property within our borders or within our reach.

Jefferson Davis, who would soon be the first President of the Confederate States of America, was then a Senator from Mississippi. In departing, Jeff Davis chose these words -

It has been a conviction of pressing necessity — it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us — which has brought Mississippi to her present decision.

The issues then were very different from the issues today in one sense; no rational person today would defend the institution of slavery, or deny that all men and women are created equal.

And yet in many senses the situations then and now are directly comparable. Once again, free men and women are denied the rights bequeathed to them by their forefathers. Once again, a hopelessly corrupt government in Washington DC is completely out of touch with the real situation faced by the average inhabitant of this nation. Once again, a shamelessly arrogant government in Washington DC has chosen to pursue the agenda of the rich and powerful at the expense of the working man and woman.

Once again, those who have worked all their lives face economic ruination at the hands of the political elite.

And our oh-so-beloved President, Barack Hussein Obama, has compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, flattering himself outrageously. Lincoln may have been an evil dictator, but at least he had a working pair of testicles.

This blog is in response to an Op Ed on this subject at the NYT here
Original copy of the Senate record from Jan 28 1861 here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Russia Recognizes Independent Palestine

Occasionally in the affairs of this world, a nation makes a quiet diplomatic move which has far-reaching significance beyond the immediate moment. Yesterday in Jericho, after a meeting with PA president Mahmud Abbas, the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev affirmed recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

This is significant in more than one way. The ironic significance is that the old USSR was the first nation to recognize the state of Israel in 1948, (with the USA a very close second).

The greater significance is that this clearly signals the intention of Russia to return to the arena of active participation in Middle East politics.

Following the conflict of October 1973, variously referred to as either the Six Days War or the Yom Kippur War, the Russians were widely discredited in the Middle East. Egypt, for one, sent the Russians packing, and aligned itself with the USA.

Now all that may be changing. Granted, the Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of the 70's and 80's, but Russians are still Russians. That has been true since the days of the Tsars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lebanese Government Collapses

It is being reported from Lebanon this morning that the Lebanese government has collapsed after 11 ministers resigned, and Hezbollah pulled out of the governing coalition, leaving the coalition without a parliamentary majority.

The reported cause of the Hezbollah withdrawal from the governing coalition was the refusal by Prime Minister Saad Hariri to convene a cabinet meeting to discuss the actions of the STL, the tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, father of the current Prime Minister. The collapse of the Lebanese government comes while Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri is in Washington DC meeting with US officials.

As usual with anything involving Lebanese politics, the situation is horribly complex, and difficult for outsiders to understand. Lies bombard us from all sides, and we can only guess what pressures are being applied behind the scenes. But there is ample evidence that the tribunal in question has been corrupted and grossly manipulated by both the US and Israel. Witnesses suddenly changing their testimony, witnesses being allowed to testify in secret, these things are the evidences of falsehood which have not been concealed from the public eye.

Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Lebanese Druze, has blamed the collapse of the government on "occult forces", whatever the hell he means by that.

But we can be certain, my friends, that is extremely grim news. Not only does it mean that the Zionists have won this campaign, it means a very real possibility of a return to factional fighting within Lebanon.

Original story at AJE here
Original story at the UK Telegraph here

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another One For The Christians

Apologies for the long hiatus, dear reader. I confess I have been severely bummed about the manner in which we 99ers have been completely abandoned by our nation, while the richest 2% of the populace have been gifted with a tax cut which will add $700 Billion dollars to the deficit over the next two years. The extent to which the Obama administration has sold us down the river to the corporate interests is beyond depressing, it is an act of high treason. Barak Hussein Obama has betrayed his oath of office; he is a traitor to the Constitution.

But that is not my chosen subject for the day.

As I have said here before, I am neither Christian, Jew, nor Muslim. I am a Pagan, and I make no bones about it. I feel the need to repeat this, given that my focus, for three scribbles in a row now, has been on Christianity.

The video below has finally been released by YouTube, after being banned for three weeks. Check it out for yourself. I admit I shed a tear, probably because the song "Little Drummer Boy" trips some deep-set emotional triggers from when I was very small.

Nonetheless, the argument is a valid one. US Christians support Israel in overwhelming numbers, in spite of the fact that the actions of the Israeli government are a gross violation of the principles in which Christians profess to believe. US Christians support Israel in overwhelming numbers, in spite of the fact that Christian Palestinians are murdered, oppressed and dispossessed in the same way that Muslim Palestinians are.

Those few brave Americans like Helen Thomas who dare to speak the ugly truth are excoriated, publicly vilified, and exiled from polite society.

When will we wake up? When will we throw off the chains of propaganda, ignorance, and misplaced Holocaust guilt? When will America finally open its eyes and see the current Israeli government for the murdering, racist, Zio-fascist thugs that they really are?

Monday, January 3, 2011


A brief follow-up to Sunday's report on violence against Middle-Eastern Christians.

When I wrote that piece on Sunday, I mentioned Iraqi Christians in the context of the recent attack upon a Coptic Church in Egypt simply because there appears to be an anti-Christian campaign across the Middle East.

The latest reports on AJE regarding the investigations of the Egyptian police would seem to indicate there is in fact a direct link between violent acts against Christians in these two countries.

It's always a little spooky when something I write as conjecture, (remember please, I'm just one more damn fool blogger), turns out to have a more direct connection to reality than I had suspected.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who Is Murdering Middle-Eastern Christians?

The vile and bloody attack upon a New Year's Eve service at a Coptic Christian church in Egypt is only the latest in a string of attacks upon Middle Eastern Christians over the last several years.

I became aware of this a few years ago, through the Chaldean community here in my hometown of San Diego. Chaldeans are Christian Iraqis, although it should be noted that not all Christian Iraqis are Chaldean. Christianity in the Middle East is fragmented. In Lebanon, for example, where Christians are 40% of the population, the Christian community is divided between 12 different sects. Yes, twelve. No, I'm not exaggerating.

According to the local Chaldeans, even under Saddam Hussein the Christian community was fully tolerated in Iraq. As one local store owner related to me, "We were treated well, and we were the source of the forbidden. Many Muslims enjoy a drink from time to time, and where else were they going to get alcohol except from us?". Apparently the trade-off was that the Christian Iraqis stayed out of politics, and in exchange they were left completely alone. But this was under Saddam Hussein, about whom I have heard more than one Chaldean say, "Well, he was a very bad man, but he treated us OK."

The notable exception to the "No Christians in politics" rule was Tariq Aziz, who served as Foreign Minister of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Oddly enough, Tariq Aziz was recently railroaded into a death sentence, but Iraqi President Jalal Talibani announced in mid-November that he would not sign the execution order. Who knows what's next for Aziz?

And the scapegoating of Tariq Aziz is representative of the general fate of Iraq's Christian community, who have been attacked again and again in recent years. Now the campaign of anti-Christian violence has spread to Egypt, and really, this is not a sudden thing. There has been trouble between the Coptic Christians of Egypt and the Muslim majority for the last three years, with definite signs of deliberate provocation by some unknown third party. Provocation in the form of malicious rumors spread among the Muslim majority of some unspeakable practice or outrage committed by the Copts, is the usual form. And it has been done over and over.

Now we have a suicide bomb attack against a church. On New Year's Eve. While these poor bastards are inside praying to their god for peace, BOOM!

So, the question, who is behind this? The Egyptian government is quick to blame al Qaeda, and they may in fact be responsible. Or they may not.

My favorite uncle phrases it as "cui bono?", meaning "who profits?", or who gains from this?

Very well, let us ask ourselves this question; who does gain from tension between Muslims and Christians in the Middle East? Well, what other religious groups are present in the Middle East in any sizable numbers?

Also, where are most Christians in the Middle East found? Lebanon is the obvious answer. Ok, so which of Lebanon's neighbours would benefit from a renewed civil war in Lebanon?

I think you know enough to answer these questions for yourself.