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Noam Chomsky: My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death

7 May

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.

By Noam Chomsky

chomsky300.jpgIt’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.

There is also much media discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden, though surely elements of the military and security forces were aware of his presence in Abbottabad. Less is said about Pakistani anger that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor is already very high in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it. The decision to dump the body at sea is already, predictably, provoking both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.

There’s more to say about [Cuban airline bomber Orlando] Bosch, who just died peacefully in Florida, including reference to the “Bush doctrine” that societies that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves and should be treated accordingly. No one seemed to notice that Bush was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and murder of its criminal president.

Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”

There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.

Copyright 2011 Noam Chomsky

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Ai WeiWei

8 Apr

 

On April 3, internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport while en route to Hong Kong, and his papers and computers were seized from his studio compound.

We members of the international arts community express our concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to “soft power” and cultural influence.

 

There is a petition started that we can all sign to call for the release of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. If you have been following the story, please sign the petition here.

For articles and current news on Ai Weiwei you can find it here on BBC news online.

Alerts to Threats in 2011 Europe

10 Feb

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”  The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.  Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.”  The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is canceled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

— John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall

Trenta

23 Jan

In all honesty, I’m not a coffee drinker. If I were a coffee person, I’d be avoiding Starbucks due to some of their business practices, such as lack of fair trade (Which has improved but not as much as I think it could), market strategy, labour disputes, opening without planning permission, water management and overall quality. McDonald’s apparently schooled them in the quality department.

Not to mention $5+ for a cup of freaking coffee…

Doing some quick research they are trying to implement certain environmental aspects to their company such as Grounds for your Garden and having cups made out of recycled goods and product red. So Starbucks isn’t all bad, I guess.

Now, you’d think that a forward thinking, “progressive” company such as Starbucks would be on board with helping to have healthy choices for it’s customers, seeing as the whole obesity thing is going on in the Western world. Starbucks has introduced the Trenta, a 916 mL cup for iced coffee drinks. Looking on their nutrition chart a Trenta (31 oz) made with 2% milk will be giving you 220 calories with 3g of fat, 43g of carbs, 0g of fibre and 5g of protein.

Ever wonder why you’re struggling at losing that bit of extra weight? If you have multiple “Peppermint white chocolate mocha” (540 calories, Grande with 2% milk and whipped cream) or “Double Chocolaty chip Frappachino” (400 calories, Grande with 2% milk and whipped cream) that’s an extra two or three “meals” in a drink per day.

A proper meal should be around 290 – 400 calories depending on your needed calorie intake. The 400 calorie meal I found was chicken and rice:

Chicken and Rice – 395 Calories
6 oz cooked chicken
2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce
1 cup of mixed vegetables
1/2 cup of brown rice
1 small tossed salad
2 tablespoons reduced fat oil and vinegar dressing
12 oz water

Ridiculously healthy, right?

I know I’m not the healthiest person I could be so I did a calculation of my recommended calorie intake for the day based on my age, weight and height. If I want to maintain my weight I need 2447, to lose weight I need 2080. So, if I were drinking those drinks, cutting out ONE a day, would help me lose pounds.

I think you get my point as to what the problems are surrounding drinks like this. Also, check out the image to put the quantity of the drink in perspective with the size of an average human stomach. It’s disturbing.

Homosexuals and mutants

8 Aug

‎”i can’t wait until the US is just homosexuals and mutants.”

– Ryan Alvin Tang

I know you’re hoping and wishing that this isn’t true. But it is. According to CousinCouples, 26 states allow the marriage of first cousins. Granted, on the map above, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina and Maine allow marriages between cousins but “with exceptions.” You can see an interactive and more clear map here.

CousinCouples also provides the exception list. With the states of Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Utah and Wisconsin, cousin couples can marry as long as they do not have children. North Carolina allows it as long as you are not double first cousins. Double first cousins share both sets of grandparents in common meaning when two siblings of one family reproduce with two siblings of another family. Maine allows cousins to marry as long as they have genetic counselling prior to the marriage. Everybody else is free to breed with first cousins as much as they like.

My main point is questioning all the fuss about how gay marriage is “worse” than marrying your cousins. It’s funny the things these arguments share actually. There are movements to ban kissing cousins, the website has Christian arguments to defend their point. It sounds all too familiar with the argument against gay marriage. I’m just wondering how letting cousins marry is helping out with the whole sanctity argument.

Huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found

24 Sep
Anglo Saxon Gold
This gold strip carries the Latin inscription: “Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face.” It has two sources, the Book of Numbers or Psalm 67, taken from the Vulgate, the Bible used by the Saxons.

The UK’s largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure has been discovered buried beneath a field in Staffordshire.

Experts say the collection of 1,500 gold and silver pieces, which may date to the 7th Century, is unparalleled in size and worth “a seven figure sum”.

It has been declared treasure by South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh, meaning it belongs to the Crown.

Terry Herbert, who found it on farmland using a metal detector, said it “was what metal detectorists dream of”.

It may take more than a year for it to be valued.

The Staffordshire hoard contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, making it far bigger than the Sutton Hoo discovery in 1939 when 1.5kg of Anglo-Saxon gold was found near Woodbridge in Suffolk.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

“(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.”

The Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels are intricately illuminated manuscripts of the four New Testament Gospels dating from the 9th and 8th Centuries.

‘Just unbelievable’

Mr Herbert, 55, of Burntwood in Staffordshire, who has been metal detecting for 18 years, came across the hoard as he searched land belonging to a farmer friend over five days in July. The exact location has not been disclosed.

“I have this phrase that I say sometimes; ‘spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear’, but on that day I changed coins to gold,” he said.

“I don’t know why I said it that day but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it.

“This is what metal detectorists dream of, finding stuff like this. But the vast amount there is is just unbelievable.”

BBC correspondent Nick Higham said the hoard would be valued by the British Museum and the money passed on to Mr Herbert and the landowner.

A total of 1,345 items have been examined by experts, although the list includes 56 clods of earth which have been X-rayed and are known to contain further metal artefacts.

This means the total number of items found is likely to rise to about 1,500.

Following the initial find, Alex Jones, director of Birmingham Archaeology and his colleagues were invited to excavate the site, Birmingham University said.

“Being a partner in one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of our time is something we can all be proud of,” he said.Mr Jones said it was fantastic news for the region and raised the importance of heritage research.

Experts have so far established that there were at least 650 items of gold in the haul, weighing more than 5kgs (11lb), and 530 silver objects totalling more than 1kg (2.2lb) in weight.

Copper alloy, garnets and glass objects were also discovered at the undisclosed site.

Duncan Slarke, finds liaison officer for Staffordshire, was the first professional to see the hoard which contains warfare paraphernalia, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates inlaid with precious stones.

He said he was “virtually speechless” when he saw the items.

“I saw boxes full of gold, items exhibiting the very finest Anglo-Saxon workmanship,” he added.

Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, said: “The most we can say is, I think we’re fairly confident it is likely to be a seven-figure sum.”

‘Truly remarkable’

The collection is currently being kept in secure storage at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery but a selection of the items are to be displayed at the museum from Friday until 13 October.

Dr Kevin Leahy, who has been cataloguing the find for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said it was “a truly remarkable collection”.

He said it had been found in the heartland of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

“All the archaeologists who’ve worked with it have been awestruck,” he added.

“It’s been actually quite scary working on this material to be in the presence of greatness.”

He said the most striking feature of the find was that it was almost totally weapon fittings with no feminine objects such as dress fittings, brooches or pendants.

“Swords and sword fittings were very important in the Anglo-Saxon period,” Dr Leahy added.

“It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career.

“We also cannot say who the original, or the final, owners were, who took it from them, why they buried it or when.

“It will be debated for decades.”

The Invention of … Blasphemy? bullshit.

4 Sep

There has been one Christian site already up claiming that Ricky Gervais’ newest film “The Invention of Lying” is blasphemous. That was updated yesterday. Today he’s responded and, as usual, it’s great.

Week eighty-two – September 2009

I got sent another batch of media alerts from the film company today. (That’s just a list of mentions the film got from the marketing department to show how awareness is doing.)

A couple more web sites have picked up on a few Christians (not all – most Christians have a sense of humour) saying that The Invention of Lying is blasphemous.

Here are my seven deadly sins of jumping to conclusions:

1. No one has seen the film.

2. Even if the film suggests there is no God, it is a fictional world. One of my favourite films is ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and at no time am I offended by the suggestion in this wonderful work of fiction that there is a God.

3. If the film was not set in a fictional world and suggested there is no God then that’s fine too, as it is anyone’s right not to believe in God.

4. By suggesting there is no God you are not singling out Christianity.

5. Not believing in God cannot be blasphemous. Blasphemy is acknowledging a God to insult or offend etc.

6. Even if it was blasphemous, which it isn’t, then that’s OK too due to a little god I like called “freedom of speech.” That said, I am not trying to offend anyone. That would be a waste of such a privilege. 7. I am an atheist, but this is not atheist propaganda. When creating an imaginary world you have to make certain decisions. We decided also that there would be no surrealist art, no racism, no flattery, no fiction, no metaphor, and no supernatural. However, we decided that apart from that one “lying gene”, humans evolved with everything else as we have it today. Joy, hope, ambition, ruthlessness, greed, lust, anger, jealousy, sadness, and grief. It’s just a film. If any of the themes in it offend you or bore you, or just don’t make sense to you, you should put everything right when you make a film.

I really hope everyone enjoys the film and keeps an open mind. I believe in peace on Earth, and good will to all men. I do as I would be done by, and believe that forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues. I just don’t believe I will be rewarded for it in heaven. That’s all.

Cheers.