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Nice to see more people who get it.

“Nour-The latest songs for the famous Egyptian rapper Zap Tharwat featuring for the first time the renowned Actress Amina Khlail. The song was developed under the leadership of the National Council for Women in collaboration with UN Women Egypt Country Office with the generous support of the Embassy of Japan”

A loud alarm clock startled me awake
The interview day reminded me of my first job
Many competent engineers are striving for this position
All of which have minimal life experience
The last CV remaining belongs to “Nour Abdel-Karim”
An old page from his diary fell from the application file
Nour is the eldest among his two sisters,
He never complained for taking their responsibilities
Among other pressures, his friends always criticized him:
“What will you do with knowledge? What will education add to you?”
He always had an answer, and never lost focus of his goal
His mother constantly supported and encouraged him
But, his father’s sudden illness caused a great burden
He needed to find a way to support his family,
So he worked in his father’s car shop and said he will forget about his studies,
In a few months he gained the title “Boss”, just like his father
In secret, he continued his studies with the support of his professors
They considered his situation and understood his constant absence
His graduation was like a dream come true,
Finally he is a Mechanical Engineer
Then, the news of his father’s passing hit him like a bullet
Because of his constant struggles, he had learned how to be patient
As I turned the page of the diary, I had made my decision
to hire him, he seems to be like the perfect candidate

I will not be marginalized, nor will I accept being idly shelved
This world progresses, because we are both equally walking the same line
I lead and challenge circumstances you don’t go through
“His” role will never be completed without “Her” role

It is time for the interview, I am excited to meet him
To hear more about his life, his dreams, his circumstances
But the reality is that “Nour” did not turn to be a man,
There is a girl standing in front of me and saying “hello”, I do not understand
I astonishingly asked “Is your name Nour Abdel Karim”?
She nodded with a smile “Hello, and you are?”
I asked again, “Do you have siblings?” She said, “Yes, young sisters”
And I’ve been responsible for them since my father’s death
I was shocked that her answer was the same as what I’ve read
A thousand voices in my mind echo: It’s unbelievable, how can this be?!
How did she work at a car shop?
How was she the backbone for her family?
How did she overcome those hardships? She’s a woman, not a man.
How will male workers address her and call her “boss”?
How will I say that I chose a “female” Mechanical Engineer?
Voices in my head condemning the question and the answer
The voice condemns the hesitation and orders me to agree
My conscious reminded me that I had long made my decision
Will I change my mind because she is a woman?
Shame on me! for thinking that way. I must apologize to her.
How can I let myself be influenced by these sick and outdated thoughts?
I came back to my senses and gave Nour back her diary page
I told her: “I know a lot about your life”;
“Congratulations on the new job, I am sure you will succeed,
And I wish this will be a happy experience in your life”

I will not be marginalized, nor will I accept being idly shelved
This world progresses, because we are both equally walking the same line
I lead and challenge circumstances you don’t go through
“His” role will never be completed without “Her” role

John Pilger does what a journalist is supposed to do.  He questions decisions made by those who are in charge and hold them to account for their decisions.  As witnessed during the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003 most of the easily accessible media in the West is, for the most part uncritical and (appallingly) accepting of what those in power want us to believe.

This isn’t new information  – let’s go back to 1946.

“In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

Stirring up fear and blind patriotism is the first ingredient in the propagandist’s recipe book.  For people who are afraid, are all to willing to forget their common humanity when they perceive a “threat” to their future.

The real reasons we fight ‘terrorism’ and ‘defend our freedoms’.

“The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.

The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable.

As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.

From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.”

Actual freedom and actual independence are the official enemies.  There is no international glorious commitment to human rights and freedoms, but rather, the economic and political machinations of state that are the true driver of the various ‘humanitarian interventions’ across the globe.

Did you need to see this in action on a smaller scale.  Well, there just happens to be a captioned poster for that.

northdakotapipeline

This is why words like ‘power’ and ‘justice’ must be so carefully defined and put into the proper context – because people experience these concepts in vastly different ways depending on their place in the social hierarchy.  It is particularly fair?  Not even close, but it is how power, and by extension, how our society works.

State terrorism and religious terrorism are directly correlated.

“According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.

As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.”

Within most of major media, the results of our violence is almost never mentioned.  The silence is deafening with regards to our culpability in committing these atrocities.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

The complicity of most of our media means that state power, and the ‘national interest’ remains potently in the background, unchallenged, unexamined, and uncritically accepted.

“The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.

It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question — Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.

In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.”

Demand better of your media outlets.  Spend time perusing alternate sources of media, be cognizant of the ‘official’ narrative.  Ask questions.

Some places to start:  Tom’s Dispatch, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, Media Lens.

 

[Source:Counterpunch]

 

femalefacepalm    Well, time for a different sort of cringe-worthy news item. The United Nations has made an Onion worthy press release. Unfortunately, this isn’t satire.

“The United Nations just rejected seven female candidates vying to lead the global organization.

Now, to promote women and girls, it is picking a cartoon character as its mascot: Wonder Woman.

Yes, the comic book figure.”

    *headesk*  What the ever-living-frack is going on in the UN?  I mean is this throwing over half the population of the world a ‘bone’ for overlooking them with regards to leadership positions in the UN.

    Uh…sorry, those female parts you have – you know the unmentionable ones because of religion in the East and the po-mo gender politics in the West (stage whisper: “Vagina, Uterus, Ovaries” – duck and cover) – that exclude you from positions in power.  Let’s not deal with that problem, let’s get serious about fighting for women’s rights by making a comic book character our mascot.

   How very fucking empowerful of the UN and their bold team of deciders.

“Dozens of countries pushed this year for a woman to be chosen as the next Secretary General, pointing out that the United Nations pledges to promote gender equality around the world and arguing that it needed to “lead by example.”

After months of internal jockeying, the Security Council last week picked António Guterres, who ran the United Nations refugee agency for 10 years, to be the world’s top diplomat.

Then on Wednesday, the United Nations announced that it would appoint Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for “the empowerment of women and girls.”

The appointment of the heroine will be made official on Oct. 21, when Wonder Woman turns 75, only slightly older than the United Nations itself.”

   Leading by example indeed. :/

“Too bad Wonder Woman will not actually traipse through the halls of the United Nations headquarters. If she did she would inevitably have to vanquish a few problems, like peacekeepers who sexually abuse civilians and major military powers that bomb schools.

The United Nations, in making the announcement, said that Diane Nelson, the president of DC Entertainment, would come to the United Nations to accept the designation, along with “surprise guests.”

    Surprise guests?  –  Is the liberation of women some sort celebrity cause that needs to be ‘punched up’ with some ‘star power’?  I keep looking for the Onion tag line somewhere in this story.

“Wonder Woman’s avatar, Mr. Nasser said, would be used on social media platforms to promote important messages about women’s empowerment, including on gender-based violence and the fuller participation of women in public life.

That, too, is a bit awkward. The United Nations is woefully behind on its pledge of gender parity in senior appointments. One analysis found that nine of 10 senior leadership jobs last year went to men.”

    *Looking through fingers as this train wreck plunges over cliff*  –  Oh, this *IS* the UN leading by example – the problem is that its the wrong farking example.  Replicating normative patriarchal society with a high-sheen glossy-dross of “equality” is precisely the message denatured neo-liberal feminists rally-on about.  ironymeterPrattling on about supporting gender equality while leaving the systems in place that objectively prevent gender equality and then having this boondoggle of a position mirrored at the UN under the auspices of ’empowering’ women….

*sproing* – My irony meter just shorted out.  :/

“Not to mention, a woman has never led the United Nations system, and none will for at least the next five years. The Security Council chose Mr. Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, to be the next Secretary General, dismissing the candidacies of seven women and five other men. Mr. Guterres, who is expected to be approved on Thursday morning by the General Assembly, has promised gender parity in senior appointments.”

    Well of course, we should wait for the gender parity to be given to us, by the class of people who have no interest in achieving gender parity.  I’m as pleased as punch, honest.

“Wonder Woman is not the only fictional character to be celebrated by the United Nations: Winnie the Pooh served as its honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998; Tinker Bell was its honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009; and Angry Birds dared fans on Twitter last year to make the game’s characters happy by conserving water and energy.”

  I, for one, am grateful that the symbol for the advancement of women in the world shares such auspicious company.

[Source: The New York Times]

  Dear United Nations, if this is your idea of advancing the cause of Women - please just stop.

Dear United Nations, if this is your idea of advancing the cause of Women – please just stop.

The CBC wrote an article about the misunderstanding of people who benefit from systemic racism have when it comes to Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter.

What Black Lives Matter is:

“Frank Leon Roberts, a professor-lecturer specializing in race and social movements at New York University, says Black Lives Matter is an “anti-violence movement that is attempting to end structural racism in all forms.”

“Police brutality is one form of structural racism but there are other forms that Black Lives Matter is combating as well,” Roberts told CBC News.”

Combating the system that is murdering your people is a historic task.  The BLM movement is necessarily a long term movement, the structural change required in society is huge and most likely will require more militant action to see the problem of systemic racism resolved.  But let’s just stop here and state for the record the situation in question.

  1.  Systemic racism exists in the United States.
  2.  It is a choice to maintain systemic racism.
  3.  Society can resolve this matter in myriad of ways, but the two poles of the spectrum are peaceful revolution or violent revolution.
  4.  Peaceful revolution *should* be the preferred method of eliminating systemic racism.
  5. The path that is ultimately followed will be the result of the dominant class in society making a choice, or being forced to make a choice, as JFK well understood, see his quote below.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” -John F. Kennedy

C.  It behooves us (the dominant class), to fundamentally re-imagine society so it more closely resembles this (from the Declaration of Independence):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

(A side note here, “men” should not be construed as the default for everyone.  Women’s struggle to be recognized as fully human goes farther back the Declaration and necessarily that struggle (sadly) continues to this day)

So maybe let’s err on the side of preserving human life and take the less violent option, just for once?  The race issue in the US is not going to go away, this isn’t another #occupy, as this is so much larger and so so much more history behind it.  Oh certainly this instance of BLM might simmer down a bit, but the on going injustice coupled with the immediacy of social networking will keep the boil going.

I think it would be wise if the representatives of he status quo decided to take the non-violent path, because soon that choice will become unavailable, and then only the more chaotic option will be all that remains (which will be bad for everybody).

Let’s take a peek at the what the other side is saying:

“But there are many who do not see eye to eye with the message Black Lives Matter is attempting to send because they believe all lives are important, and specific groups should not be singled out.

[…]

“It appears many “all lives matter” supporters feel that “Black Lives Matter” is not about equality, but rather focusing on the oppression experienced by only one group.”

Well duh?  BLM is about the fact that being Black in the US is an oppressive experience.  Would the converse statement make things any more clear?  #WhiteLivesMatterMore?  Don’t look at foreign policy if you’re about to disagree with #WLMM, the uncounted coloured dead in Iraq (Afghanistan, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Syria, Mexico, India, Philippines… et cetera)  have millions of arguments to make against you…

“Recently, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, went as far as to say that “Black Lives Matter” is “racist” during an appearance on Fox and Friends.

“It’s inherently racist because, number one, it divides us. All lives matter,” he said.”

Nothing more racist that overlooking the fact that a racial divide exists.  :/  But here we go again, with the notion that somehow the playing field is the same for everyone and everyone has the same chances and opportunities in society.  The answer according to the status quo is more ‘equality'(?).  Unfortunately, ‘more equality equals ephemeral/meaningless ‘change’ to the status quo to make things look more equal, while in fact, maintaining the superstructure that is responsible for the racial oppression in the first place (we can lump a large part of liberal feminism into this grouping as well).  So let’s dispense with the neo-liberal platitudes and realize:

  1.     The playing field is not even.
  2.     The opportunities are not the same.
  3.     Treatment within the society is not the same.
  4.    Outcomes in society are not the same.

Without addressing the root causes of institutional racism, nothing will change. (For a great example of please see the second wave of feminism, as they named the problem, and tackled some of the institutions responsible for their oppression)  Let’s slip over to Deep Green Resistance for their take on the problem –

“Justice is not won by rational argument, by personal transformation, or by spiritual epiphany. It’s won by taking power away from the powerful and then dismantling their institutions.”

Hmm… sounds like a painful process.  It all depends on how fiercely the dominant class latches onto the superstructure that benefits and supports them; maybe some enlightened self interest might take hold and change that doesn’t come from the barrel of gun will be possible.  I doubt it, but it could happen.

 

Oh, and some gems from the comment section of the CBC article, ranging from light banality to vapid boorish ignorance :

 

-I think it just comes down to poor branding. Black Lives Matter might be better served by say End Racial Violence, or Black Injustice, or less vague and self-evident to anyone with an open mind. The issue isnt that black lives don’t matter, and no one who isn’t a racist thinks they don’t so maybe the movement should have a more focused name based on their stated goals.

[Because changing the name will make all the difference.  Racists be like, “Oh snap! They are *just* trying to end Racial Violence – we’re totally on board with that!.]

-“Black Lives Matter” doesn’t do anything to prevent racists from joining their group, and their group has racist overtones in their messages, focusing only on blacks when many blacks have already openly called “Black Lives Matter” an Anti-Police hate group.

[Binky has the fun idea that oppressed people can be racist.  Sorry Binky, it doesn’t work that way.  Racism has the institutional power of society behind the racist actions in question.  Most certainly, oppressed groups can discriminate, but not be racist – especially toward their oppressors as they hold no institutional power in society.]

-Black Lives matter creates further division, especially with it’s members and supporters condemnation of saying All lives matter. Inclusive thinking rather than exclusive is required – All Lives Matter is inclusive and is something to strive for.

[Inclusion in this instance is just another way of obfuscating the fact that black people in America face more obstacles that white people do.  In every facet of their lives’ because of the colour of their skin, they are treated differently.  This has to change, and focusing on this difference is completely justified in pursuing their goals of a more equal society.]

-The problem is BLM aren’t selective in their support for black people who come to a bad end in encounters with the police. They even support the ones who have guns, a rap sheet five miles long and who had intent to kill cops. If you are going to support people who don’t deserve that support then your movement will be seen as a mockery.

[Ah, well perhaps we can use the tried and true ‘a few bad apples’ apolgia to wave this one away.  Funny how it tends not to work when you happen not to be white, rich, and male.]

 

memorialThe West’s policies and actions in the Middle East have set the stage for tragedy.  The destruction and destabilization of states and the creation of a new Cold War flash-point in Syrian (and one upcoming in the Ukraine) are spreading chaos in the world.  The mass murder in Nice, France is an example, par excellence, of what Chalmers Johnson describes as Blowback.  What is ‘Blowback’?

Blowback – is a term invented by the CIA, refers to the unintended consequences of American policies that are predicated on projecting its military power to every corner of the earth and using American capital and markets to force global economic integration on its own terms.

So this is what happened in Nice [from cbc.ca]:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the truck attack on the French city of Nice on Saturday as French police arrested three people there in connection with the carnage that claimed the lives of at least 84 people.

“The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State,” the news agency Amaq, which supports ISIS, said via its Telegram account.

“He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State,” the statement said.

We in North America tend to think (unless you happen to not to be white) of terrorism and war as something that happens ‘over there’.  We sit with a manufactured placidity behind our oceans and vicariously experience the horror visited on people in foreign lands and, if moved enough, make a post about it on some social media platform (irony noted).  What is difficult for North Americans is the teasing out the questions of “How, if at all(?), does this relate to us?”, while wading though the media slideshow of human misery and death.  Our media is failing us by not providing context to the images we see, so we don’t know how to respond.

Blowback is coming.   Through the direct result of our use of military and economic power we are fracturing countries and immiserating their people for our Geo-poltical gain.  The people of North America are subject to a severe disconnect between the foreign policy goals stated at home and what those goals look like when actualized in reality.  I am fairly confident that most of the policy initiatives that involve displacing people and murdering them wouldn’t get much popular support.

However, call it (murder et cetera) bringing “stability’ to a region, it sounds palatable to the citizenry, and thus their consent is ensured.  How many lives hang in the balance or have been sacrificed because of word/not-words like ‘precision bombing’ and ‘democracy promotion’?  Our use of opaque sanitized language cuts people off from the empathy we all possess and allows for the most pernicious of behaviours.

We in the West feel connected only when the chickens of violence come home to roost and vengeance is delivered to our innocent populations.  The sympathetic news coverage begins immediately, more so if the victims happen to be Caucasian (because #whitelivesmattermore), and we can connect with the sorrow and horror being visited on the people in question.

Did believe in Islam play a role in the mass-murder in Nice.  Almost certainly.  Even traumatized desperate people need persuading to enable them to commit murderous acts.  The ISIS brand of Islam is tailor made to undermine empathetic thoughts and feelings, to numb the fundamental kindness we feel toward each other (this applies to almost all organized religions, of course) and make atrocities such as what happened in Nice possible.

Fervent belief in ideology – religious or otherwise – helps make disastrous events possible, because as soon as we can start people as the ‘enemy’ and the ‘other’ it becomes so much easier to destroy their lives.

So, did Allah take the wheel and instigate vehicular homicide on a grand scale?  Probably not, but he certainly put gas in the tank and keys in hand.

 

Getting stuck on the US election race?  Tired of hearing about how the authoritarian left is, yet again, stifling free speech?  How about some Nuclear Armageddon to cleanse the palate?  Dilip Hiro takes us to South East Asia and the conflict between India and Pakistan.

“Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades, the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration.  In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.
When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.”

Catch the rest of this sunny story at Tom’s Dispatch, I highly recommend you subscribe to their newsletter.

 

 

Chris Hedges occasionally has some good ideas when it comes to the American body politic.  Consider what we are seeing on the news, and is it really that far off from what is being stated here?

“As Arendt noted, the fascist and communist movements in Europe in the 1930s “… recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been ‘spoiled’ by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the control of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with either parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

Fascism is aided and advanced by the apathy of those who are tired of being conned and lied to by a bankrupt liberal establishment, whose only reason to vote for a politician or support a political party is to elect the least worst. This, for many voters, is the best Clinton can offer. 

Fascism expresses itself in familiar and comforting national and religious symbols, which is why it comes in various varieties and forms. Italian fascism, which looked back to the glory of the Roman Empire, for example, never shared the Nazis’ love of Teutonic and Nordic myths. American fascism too will reach back to traditional patriotic symbols, narratives and beliefs.”

Old-Fashioned_Fascism

[…]

“There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy and political life of the country. This movement will never come out of the Democratic Party. If Clinton prevails in the general election Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. Another Trump, perhaps more vile, will be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the college-educated elites to our capitalist democracy. The longer the elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it is going to get.”

It would seem that the revival of class consciousness is going to play a large role in saving democracy in the United States.  Remembering class interests and organizing to protect them may be a way to bring people back into the political fold.

 

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