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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

probing elephants

wrinkled sighs, folded dreams
myopic ideals, imperceptive idealism
lips clenched, feelings parched
imagination wingless, words in flight
orphaned good, indifferent goodness

belief probing elephant in the dark
empathy waltzing with one-armed faith
to the orchestra of antipathy
delusion and betrayal penta-armed goddess
with spine of malevolence

insouciant hope hibernating
in black hole of slippery ideals
rancor masquerading as ordained wisdom
abnormal the new norm

assurances of all’s well
cascading from pinnacles
at ungodly hours
god of all gods smiling, somewhere

Guillotining Gaza - Noam Chomsky

Guillotining Gaza By Noam Chomsky

excerpt: [for full article click on heading]

THE death of a nation is a rare and somber event. But the vision of a unified, independent Palestine threatens to be another casualty of a Hamas-Fatah civil war, stoked by Israel and its enabling ally the United States.

Last month’s chaos may mark the beginning of the end of the Palestinian Authority. That might not be an altogether unfortunate development for Palestinians, given US-Israeli programmes of rendering it nothing more than a quisling regime to oversee these allies’ utter rejection of an independent state.

A Warning to Tony Blair

A Warning to Tony Blair

By Uri Avnery
Tel Aviv.

excerpt: [ for full article clickon heading]

Last week, James Wolfensohn gave a long interview to Haaretz. He poured out his heart and summed up, with amazing openness, his months as special envoy of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN (the "Quartet") in this country - the same job entrusted now to Tony Blair. The interview could have been entitled "A Warning to Tony".Among other revelations, he disclosed that he was practically fired by the clique of Neo-cons, whose ideological leader is Paul Wolfowitz.

What Wolfensohn and Wolfowitz have in common is that both are Jews and have the same name: Son of Wolf, one in the German version and the other in the Russian one. Also, both are past chiefs of the World Bank.

But that's where the similarity ends. These two sons of the wolf are opposites in almost all respects. Wolfensohn is an attractive person, who radiates personal charm. Wolfowitz arouses almost automatic opposition. This was made clear when they served, successively, at the World Bank: Wolfensohn was very popular, Wolfowitz was hated. The term of the first was renewed, a rare accolade, the second was dumped at the earliest opportunity, ostensibly because of a corruption affair: he had arranged an astronomical salary for his girl friend.

"Democracy For the Few" - Michael Parenti - reviewed by Stephen Lendman

"Democracy For the Few" - Michael Parenti

A Review By Stephen Lendman

excerpt:[for the full review click on the heading]

Corporate giants rule the nation, the world and the nation's dominant means of communicating to the people through the mass media using public airwaves and the large print publications they control. In that capacity, they're the nation's thought control police gatekeepers filtering in information they want reported and suppressing what's hostile to state and corporate interests. Today, they're more able than ever to do it. Since 1983, the number of corporations controlling most newspapers, magazines, book publishers, movie studios, and electronic media shrunk from 50 to six global media Goliaths - Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, Viacom, Germany-based Bertelsmann, and Rupert Murdock's News Corporation. Add to them cable giant Comcast and it's a not so "magnificent seven."

Their owners decide what's aired and what isn't and news reporters, commentators and so-called pundits know the rules. If someone forgets, they'll end up in newspaper Siberia reporting obits or on TV off-camera at best, not on it. Those playing by the rules aren't cheated, however, even though they cheat us. On TV especially, many earn handsome salaries, good benefits and lucrative speaking engagements and book deals. Lying for the state and corporate bosses pays well. It's why the queue is long with many in it awaiting their chance for a big payday. Those of conscience and progressive leanings need not apply. Few get space in print or on-air except as setup patsies matched against hoards of conservative ideologues preaching wars are good and corporations free to pillage and plunder will make the world safe for democracy. Their job is to spread the "proper" message that excludes lots of ugliness harmful to ordinary people they ignore.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Respect: A Neglected Virtue

Respect is an individual’s voluntary or involuntary expression of real or forced consideration for a person, institution or a situation. In this, I find Eldridge Cleaver’s definition “Respect commands itself and it can neither be given nor withheld when it is due” constricting.

My friend Mehboob gave a surprise anniversary party for his wife. He made all the arrangements covertly, booked a place in Markham and informed all the guests.

Farah had no inkling. Just three hours before the party he called and asked if I could possibly pick up a Mrs. D visiting Toronto and bring her to the party.

I did some mental calculations and figured if I leave my home 30 minutes earlier than planned I could pick up the lady from the Mt. Pleasant address he gave me and make it to the restaurant in time. I took down Mrs. D's number and called her to verify the address and also mentioned the time I would pick her up.

I was at her doorstep at the appointed time. The person who answered the door bell told me she is in the bathroom.

This upset me somewhat.

I computed the driving time and wondered if we would be able to make it to the restaurant in time before Farah and Mehboob made their entrance. I declined the offer to go in and wait in the living room even though the temperature outside was below freezing.

About fifteen minutes later a diminutive lady clad in a saree and draped in a shawl emerged. I just opened the rear passenger door from inside and made no effort at any conversation. She exchanged some words with M.

I heard her mention that she was a teacher. She also named a school. My school! My ears pricked, and for the first time I looked in the rear mirror at her face.

I pulled over, turned back and said ‘Miss M!’ It was now her turn to be surprised.

At the restaurant I found a parking spot, jumped out of my seat, rushed to her side, opened her door, helped her get out and escorted her reverentially into the restaurant, completely forgetting about M.

From being upset and showing minimal respect I showered respect and attention all evening long.

Back to respect.

Respect has social paradigms and we cannot expect every individual to express it in the same manner. The forms and expression may differ but the intent overshadows it.

In South Asia, we genuinely respect elders and, family members and less genuinely offices, institutions and those below us on the economic or class totem pole.

In an interact Amrita wrote: Not only do we not have any respect for the law but we have precious little for the keepers as well.

(Yes Ams: that is the catalyst for this:))

I do not understand this South Asian dichotomy. We show scant respect for the law enforcement personnel in our home countries. Yet, when we find ourselves abroad, we instantly begin to respect them.

Is it because subconsciously we have been ingrained to see the policewalas as an extension of the Raj? Do we still perceive them as the Indian arm of the white man, doing their dirty work? Have we transferred our disdain for the Raj to our present governments? Is that why we perceive the policemen abroad as officers carrying out their law enforcement duties and grant them more respect?

Or is it because we consider our policemen lowly paid scum forever looking for bribes?

It may also have deeper roots.

We have not developed a genuine and abiding respect for our national institutions. And this lack of respect surfaces in our dealings with state functionaries. Yes, governments are prone to bungling issues and corruption ridden and do not treat ordinary citizens with respect, you may say.

But is (our) respect conditional and so arbitrary?

Laurence Sterne said: ”Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”

For me respect, like politeness costs nothing but perhaps a seat on a crowded bus. It is a great enabler. It is so easy to give respect to others and get it back in return. Like in smiling. OK, that was plug. Wonder if it will get past the editor.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Killer Smile Can Be So Disarming

You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun - Al Capone:

To say that smiles fascinate me no end would be an understatement.

I find smiles intriguing.

Why would an infant smile? Is the infant unaware of global warming? Section 498A of the IPC? Bush bin Cheney bin Osama’s dreams of domination? (No, no leather strap jokes here). The abject poverty and worldwide pollution? The increase in hardening attitudes and the decrease in tolerance?

Why does a child playing in the street with discarded tins and boxes smile?

Do you see a smile playing on the face of a recently deceased?

Why did M smile? Would I have chased her if she did not have that smile? Are men suckers? (OK don’t answer this).

She said once, ‘I will kill you if you die before me.’ Then we both smiled.

Is that a smile or a smirk on Mona Lisa?

Why do some men of religion and politics go to great lengths at not smiling in public?

A killer smile can be so disarming.

A smile costs nothing and can disarm hate and suspicion with ease. It can be a great leveler.

How can we lose smile? It is right under our nose. As someone said to me once, it is the second best thing one can do with the lips.

Wrinkles around the eyes as one smiles tell a lot about that person.

Smile is the universal language that needs no interpreter.

A smile has no value until it is given away. And then it is priceless.

Am not sure who said, ‘It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown.’ But a frown is also a smile that took a wrong turn.

Other than your love interest or offspring, whose smile fascinates and intrigues you? And why?

Are you smiling? Why?

How Truth Slips Down The Memory Hole - John Pilger

One of the leaders of demonstrations in Gaza calling for the release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was a Palestinian news cameraman, Imad Ghanem. On 5 July, he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he filmed them invading Gaza. A Reuters video shows bullets hitting his body as he lay on the ground. An ambulance trying to reach him was also attacked. The Israelis described him as a "legitimate target". The International Federation of Journalists called the shooting "a vicious and brutal example of deliberate targeting of a journalist". At the age of 21, he has had both legs amputated.

(for the full article click on the heading)

Monday, July 23, 2007

encounter on mooker nallamuthu street

Worpswede, near Bremen
July 16, 1903
But everything that may someday be possible for many people, the solitary man can now, already, prepare and build with his own hands, which make fewer mistakes. Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast. And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust. Avoid providing material for the drama, that is always stretched tight between parent and children; it uses up much of the children's strength and wastes the love of the elders, which acts and warms even if it doesn't comprehend Don't ask for any advice from them and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.

Excerpt from the fourth letter
Letters To A Young Poet
by Rainer Maria Rilke

in that narrow street
bustling with bazaar vagaries
oppressive mugginess and heat
odours of trampled, strewn garbage
compositing with aromatic grime
emanating from cafes
with the grit from shops
godowns, offices, flats
i walked carefully not to
humiliate the garbage
when abruptly came face to face
with a girl barely six
black as a moonless sunderbans night
in a handed down frock
with a deep neck
her hair knotted, skin lustrous
wearing a pseudo pearl white necklace
the contrast between it and her dark skin
overwhelmed her youthful smile
she looked up at me
with vibrant gleam
and coyly let me pass

Robert Fisk: No wonder the bloggers are winning

Robert Fisk: No wonder the bloggers are winning
These gutless papers explain why more people are Googling than turning pages
Published: 21 July 2007

I despise the internet. It's irresponsible and, often, a net of hate. And I don't have time for Blogopops. But here's a tale of two gutless newspapers which explains why more and more people are Googling rather than turning pages.

read more here

The invisible government - john pilger

BBC news routinely describes the invasion as a miscalculation. Not Illegal, not unprovoked, not based on lies, but a miscalculation.

The words “mistake” and “blunder” are common BBC news currency, along with “failure”—which at least suggests that if the deliberate, calculated, unprovoked, illegal assault on defenseless Iraq had succeeded, that would have been just fine. Whenever I hear these words I remember Edward Herman’s marvelous essay about normalizing the unthinkable. For that’s what media clichéd language does and is designed to do—it normalizes the unthinkable; of the degradation of war, of severed limbs, of maimed children, all of which I’ve seen. One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

read the full speech here