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The Evil That Men Do

Heinz Kissinger, may there be a warm seat for him

Although I have never been anything but a professional dilettante, I have spent some time in a number of professions. One of these was political correspondent at the United Nations headquarters from 1985 until 1987. Another was as professor of English in Berlin after the GDR was annexed in 1989. In the accidents of my amateur activity, I have managed to meet or at least hear in person a few personalities of public life (in German: Personen öffentliches Leben). These include artists as well as politicians and other notorious people.

One September day, my spouse at that time and I went …

Battle for the Minds

The Religious Politic and the New Atheists

During the first decade of the 21st century, a battle between the Religious Right and the New Atheists emerged. Both were gaining strength from charismatic leaders, able to articulate their beliefs and accumulate followers. Energized by George W. Bush’s faith-based presidency, the Religious Right, the most politically active of organized religions, attempted to direct local and national legislation to its social conservative agenda. With most voters crowded towards the center of the political spectrum, the Religious Right maintained control of a solid bloc of “swing” votes …

A Government Killing Its Own Citizens?

Has anyone heard of the Hannibal Directive?

The Dangerously Appealing Style of the Far Right

The Forty-Eighth Newsletter (2023)

Emilio Pettoruti (Argentina), Arlequín (‘Harlequin’), 1928.
Before he won Argentina’s presidential election on 19 November, Javier Milei circulated a video of himself in front of a series of white boards. Pasted on one board were the names of various state institutions, such as the ministries of health, education, women and gender diversities, public works, and culture, all recognised as typical elements of any modern state project. Walking along the board, Milei ripped off the names of these and other ministries while crying afuera! (‘out!’) and declaring that if elected president, he …

Can US Threats Prevent a Wider War in the Middle East?

Protesters wave Palestinian, Lebanese, and Hezbollah flags and hold a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a Palestine solidarity rally in Lebanon. (Credit: GETTY IMAGES)
While Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been frantically shuttling around the Middle East trying to stop the Israeli conflict in Gaza from exploding into a regional war, the United States has also sent two aircraft carrier strike groups, a Marine Expeditionary Unit and 1,200 extra troops to the Middle East as a “deterrent.” In plain …

The Dublin Riots: The Aftermath

The recent horrific events in Dublin left many in shock as a stabbing incident developed into an anti-immigration rally, which in turn developed into a riot as a tram, busses and Garda cars were set on fire.

In the early afternoon a man stabbed three children and a care assistant (who were taken to hospital). He was stopped by a 43-year-old Deliveroo driver who intervened and hit him with his helmet.

Then, “after the stabbing incident, rumours spread that the alleged perpetrator was an illegal North African immigrant ‘fresh off the boat’, along with false rumours that the …

Sovereignty Surrendered: Subordinating Australia’s Defence Industry

One could earn a tidy sum the number of times the word “sovereignty” has been uttered or mentioned in public statements and briefings by the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

But such sovereignty has shown itself to be counterfeit.  The net of dependency and control is being increasingly tightened around Australia, be it in terms of Washington’s access to rare commodities (nickel, cobalt, lithium), the proposed and ultimately fatuous nuclear-propelled submarine fleet, and the broader militarisation and garrisoning of the country by US military personnel and assets. (The latter includes the stationing of such nuclear-capable assets as B-52 bombers in the …

The White House Goes Rogue: Secret Surveillance Program Breaks All the Laws

The government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying programs as long as we’ve done nothing wrong.

Don’t believe it.

It doesn’t matter whether you obey every law. The government’s definition of a “bad” guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale.

For instance, it was recently revealed that the White House, relying on a set of privacy loopholes, has been sidestepping the Fourth Amendment by paying AT&T to allow federal, state, and local law enforcement to access—without a warrant—the phone records of Americans who …

“Is That Orwellian Or Kafkaesque Enough For You?”

The Guardian Removes Bin Laden’s "Letter To America"   

The Guardian has long promoted itself as a valiant publisher of news and analysis that holds the powerful to account. It is a thing of wonder that the Guardian appends the following comment beneath news pieces:

Our quality, investigative journalism is a scrutinising force at a time when the rich and powerful are getting away with more and more.

For over twenty years, Media Lens has shown how false is this claim.

A new, significant example occurred just last week. On 15 November, the paper removed Osama bin Laden’s …

A New Mood in the World Will Put an End to the Global Monroe Doctrine

The Forty-Seventh Newsletter (2023)

Tagreed Darghouth (Lebanon), from the series The Tree Within, a Palestinian Olive Tree, 2018.
Every day since 7 October has felt like an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, with hundreds of thousands gathering in Istanbul, a million in Jakarta, and then yet another million across Africa and Latin America to demand an end to the brutal attack being carried out by Israel (with the collusion of the United States). It is impossible to keep up with the scale and frequency …

The Rise of the Desk Clerk Academic

It is a particularly quotidian breed in the modern, management-driven university.  The desk clerk who pretends to be an academic and researcher but is neither.  The desk clerk who admires rosters, work plans and “key performance indicators”, thinking that the process of knowledge is quantifiable by productivity targets and financial returns.  The desk clerk who pilfers the work of undergraduates, sports a dubious doctoral thesis, and who rarely sets foot within the sacred surrounds of a library.

The rise of such a figure in the global university scene, one neither fish nor fowl, is no accident.  As universities have declined, bureaucracy …

Toronto Police Arrest Palestine Activists, Should Target Heather Reisman

Aggressive pre-dawn police raids on homes and charging individuals with hate crimes for posting social justice messages is legal overreach at best and “thought crimes” reflecting creeping fascism at worst.

Truth is Heather Reisman, not those putting up posters, is the one who should have been charged with breaking Canadian law.

Between 4:30 and 6 am Wednesday Toronto police raided the residences of seven individuals alleged to have been involved in putting posters and fake blood on an Indigo bookstore on November 10. According to a summary of the police operation posted by World Beyond War, eight or …

Government Takeover

In Canada, trans “justice” has gone haywire. “A Certain Madness Amok.”

Rot in the Civil Service: Farewelling Mike Pezzullo

There was no better example of Australia’s politicised public service than its Home Affairs Secretary, Mike Pezzullo.  In most other countries, he would have been the ideal conspirator in a coup, a tittletattler in the ranks and bound to brief against those he did not like.  Give him a dagger, and he was bound to use it.

His rise to power paralleled that of the emergence of that super amalgam of a ministry that arose during the Turnbull government.  Falling for the fatal error that centralising power assures the consolidation of efficiency, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was swayed by arguments that …

Three Presidents Who Made Thanksgiving a National Holiday And What They Were Thankful For

Three U.S. presidents were instrumental in establishing Thanksgiving as a regular national event. On October 3, 1789, George Washington declared the first federal Thanksgiving holiday. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made it an annual federal holiday. And in 1941, Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill setting the date at the fourth Thursday of every November. All three presidents were giving thanks for bringing the country through a major financial crisis related to war, and they all achieved this feat through what Sen. Henry Clay called the “American system” of banking and finance – sovereign or government-issued money and credit.

For Washington, the challenge …

IPCC Rebellion

It’s 35 years since formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “to advance scientific knowledge about climate change caused by human activities.” Subsequently, COP21 at Paris ‘15 warned the world not to exceed 1.5°C, and worst case, not to exceed 2.0°C above pre-industrial or risk lasting damage to crucial life supporting ecosystems, ultimately leading to some level of an extinction event.

Following three decades of IPCC failures to convince nation/states to make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions, which increase more and more each year, a high-ranking group of rebellious climate scientists claim the IPCC’s upper temperature limits of …

President John F. Kennedy: His Life and Public Assassination by the CIA

What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said the wise old owl
Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

Don’t worry, Mr. President
Help’s on the way
Your brothers are coming, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming”
We’ll get them as well

— Bob Dylan, Murder Most Foul

Why President Kennedy was publicly murdered by the CIA sixty years ago has never been more important.  …

Pallywood Tactics: Al-Shifa Hospital and Israel’s Propaganda Effort

It resembles a chronology of desperation, shifting narratives, and schoolboy howlers. From the outset, the mass lethality of Israeli strikes against Gaza and the collective punishment of its populace needed some justification, however tenuous. If it could be shown, convincingly, that Hamas and its allies had militarised such civilian infrastructure as hospitals, they would become fair game for vengeful air strikes and military assault. Thus, could Israel’s soldiers demonstrate, not merely the animal savagery of Hamas, one indifferent to humanity and suffering, but the virtue of Israel’s own military objectives. The forces of pallid light would again prevail against swarthy …

Solitary Confinement

Voluntary and involuntary psychic insulation

At least as one response to the perceived failures of the French Revolution, some of what became the Romantic movements in the 19th century turned away from social interaction, especially collective activity, and toward individual isolation. Such a reaction was not peculiar to this period. In fact, withdrawal from social contact was an established niche strategy throughout Latin Christendom. There were two broad views in the Church as to how sin was to be encountered. One was collective labour. The other was solitary penitence.

Solitude for the Romantic movements emerged as a …

Israel’s Genocidal Antisemitism Against the Arab Civilians of Gaza

“It should never have happened,” an elderly Holocaust survivor of a Nazi death camp told the New York Times. He was referring to the colossal failure on October 7, of Israel’s touted high-tech military and intelligence operations that opened the door to Hamas’ attack on Israeli soldiers and civilians. In many parliamentary countries, the government ministers who are responsible for this kind of failure would have immediately been forced to resign. Not so with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ministers.

Instead, Netanyahu’s coalition of extremists, who know that the Israeli people are enraged about their government’s failure to defend the border, has unleashed a …

A Future Laugh

For those who survive.

Tunnels for Safety and Tunnels for Death

Negev Nuclear Research Center photographed by a U.S.
reconnaissance satellite in 1968 Declassified Public Domain
It’s one thing to burrow beneath the ground, digging to construct a tunnel for refuge, a passage of goods, or to store weapons during a time of war. It’s quite another to use one hand, as a small child, to try and dig your way out of the rubble that has collapsed upon you.

Professor Mustafa Abu Sway, a professor based in Jerusalem, spoke sadly of the reality in Gaza where, he said, “one child …

Eco-Camouflage and the Fossil Fuel Lobby: The War against Wind Farms

The fossil fuel lobby has had a busy year on the eco-camouflage front.  Earlier this year, interest started to rumble and rage against the stranding of humpback whales on the east coast of the United States.  Suddenly, opponents of wind turbine technology – and renewable technology more broadly – had identified an invaluable, if tenuous nexus: a link between whale mortality and offshore wind farms.

One true enthusiast for the proposition proved to be Donald Trump.  Speaking at a rally in South Carolina in September, for example, the Republican presidential contender suggested that these “windmills” were driving whales “crazy”, inflicting …

Art and Struggle: Olive Trees as Symbols of Palestinian Culture, Food, and Heritage

Woman hugging tree video
Painting by Sliman Mansour

I hugged the olive tree. It was precious to me, so I hugged it. I felt like I was hugging my child. I’d raised the tree like my child. They attacked around 500 trees filled with olives. Each tree could have filled two sacks of olives. They destroyed my olive tree, but I grew them back. I tended them and they came back even better than before. Settlers will never be able to take …

The Politics of Eating

Reflections on the psychological, moral and political implications of what we eat, and on prospects for non-violent social change.

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

— Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, Brillat-Savarin, Jean-Anthelme, (Penguin Books, 1994): p.13.

Getting back into fasting after a break is difficult. In the past, I would fast for two days in every week, but occasionally challenged myself to extend that by a day or two, maybe three, until one day — evidently one day too many — I collapsed like a device unplugged and cracked my head on the sink …

Inscrutable Belief

How to be a blockhead.

On the Perpetration of Mass-Death Events

The holocaust now visited on Palestine by US-Israel is unique in many ways. Rates of killing and maiming exceed those of previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, the perpetrators announce their genocidal intent with unusual frankness, and Western media and official apologists are especially shameless.

But in a world under centuries of West European domination, this particular intentional genocide/mass-death event ought to seem familiar. These mass killings have always been necessary for the global system to function, providing land for settlement, cultivation and resource extraction, labor for hyper-exploitation, and geopolitical power.

In the “long 16th century” (~1450 to ~1650) the capitalist world system …

Shaping the Political Race

Will Joe Manchin become the next U.S. president?

The divisive America of today longs for the time when the country united in one mission and selected a leader it could trust to accomplish the mission. The year is 1940 and the New York Times estimates that incumbent president, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. (FDR), a non-declared and drafted candidate for the Democratic Party (D) nomination, will have 691.5 delegates before the convention, well ahead of his two rivals, Vice-President John Garner’s 69.5 delegates and Postmaster General James Farley’s 38.5.delegates. At the convention, FDR wins the nomination on the first ballot by near acclamation.

Before the Republican (GOP) convention, …

War in Gaza: Decoding Nasrallah’s speeches

Since he was elected Hezbollah Secretary General in 1992, following Israel’s assassination of his predecessor and mentor Sayed Abbas Mousawi, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has achieved a very special status in the history of Arab & Muslim leaders. As Norman Finkelstein put it, “Nasrallah is the only political leader in the world from whom you learn in the speeches. He is a teacher. He is among the shrewdest and most serious political observers in the world today. Israeli leaders carefully scrutinize Nasrallah’s every word.” And denouncing the relentless censorship suffered by my translation …

Coming to Terms with a Lifetime of Trauma While in Prison

I am a Black man in prison, and I want to talk about trauma. I want us all to be able to talk about trauma.

I’m here because when I was a teenager and young man, I made many bad life choices involving drugs and violence. Living with the consequences of my actions is not always easy, but I keep moving forward toward redemption. As I have struggled to understand those choices, I also have realized I must go further back in my life, long before I committed a crime, if I want to heal myself.

When I was a child, I …