From Liberation to Assassination

February 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army Colonel, Boston University professor, author of Washington Rules, and editor most recently of The Short American Century, talks about the changing face of the so-called global war on terror. Also check his scorecard for the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism.


Wislawa Szymborska, R.I.P

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

The great Polish poet and Nobel laureate is no more. Katha Pollit of The Nation pays tribute

In the way that you can be surprised when someone dies, no matter how rationally foreseeable the death is, I was startled to open my New York Times on February 2 and find an obituary for Wislawa Szymborska, the great Polish poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1996. Only 88, I wanted to say. Much too young.

Szymborska’s poems are mostly short, and her output was not voluminous—only around 400 published poems. And yet, she is one of the few contemporary poets you can call beloved and not have it be a condescension or an insult. In The New York Review of Books Charles Simic called her poems “poetry’s equivalent of expository writing,” which captures their accessibility, their logical clarity and their interest in facts (especially odd ones), stories, things and people, but doesn’t convey their charm or vitality. Expository writing is, after all, a required class for college freshmen—the opposite of fun, dazzle, originality, pathos. For me, Szymborska’s signature quality is the way she puts tragedy and comedy, the unique and the banal, the big and the little, the remembering and the forgetting, right next to each other and shows us that this is what life is:

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick
themselves up, after all.

Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.

—from “The End and the Beginning”

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Washington’s war in Yemen Backfires

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Jeremy Scahill discusses his new front page story for The Nation.

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Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence

February 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

David Frost speaks to Alex Salmond on Scottish Independence and Paul Krugman on the private debt crisis.

Many Scots now want to leave the UK, but will it be enough to win a referendum on independence in 2014? Sir David Frost speaks to the man who has led the movement for independence, Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond.

Nothing to Lose

February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

From K’naan’s new EP, More Beautiful than Silence, featuring Nas.

Heart & Mind-O-Matic

February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

From the great, Pulitzer-Prize winning political cartoonist Mark Fiore.

Learn all about the US drone program in Pakistan and other lucky countries across the globe! See how fortunate one young villager is to have the US looking out for him and fighting extremism. Never mind the attacks on funerals and rescuers. A Mark Fiore political animation.

RT Backfire

February 17, 2012 § 8 Comments

There used to be a time when the BBC and CNN had a monopoly on world news. In recent years that monopoly has been challenged by professional operations like Al Jazeera, and also by less independent but sometimes useful channels like RT and Press TV. This is a good development. Though, just as the BBC and CNN operate within a paradigm broadly consonant with the foreign policies of their respective states, RT and Press TV are also sensitive to the foreign policy concerns of Russia and Iran. They are all good at reporting the failings of other states. But when it comes to their own and their allies, all of these channels are by and large uncritical.

This diversity is to be appreciated. Viewers for the first time are in a position to make intelligent choices as to the channels they can turn to in each situation. So, if the story is Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, CNN or the BBC will be the wrong place to look for the truth. Conversely, if the news is Syria’s latest assault on Homs, you had best skipped RT and Press TV. You’d be a fool to turn to the BBC for reporting on the London riots; just as you’d be a fool to consult CNN on the OWS movement, RT on Chechnya, or Press TV on the Green Movement. It is important to take them all with a pinch of salt.

The following program, RT’s Crosstalk, illustrates what I mean. The show has often provided a platform to voices that you’ll never hear on the BBC and CNN. Where else can you find a Norman Finkelstein debating a Benny Morris? This broadening of the discourse is a good thing. But it only works where the debate is weighted in favour of the Russian position. As the following show illustrates, when a conversation veers off script, the host is extremely heavy-handed in trying to enforce discipline. In this instance, about 10 minutes into the debate, the host starts battling all his guests to force them to see the situation in Syria his way. This is embarrassing. This side of Bill O’Reilly, the only time I had seen an intervention of this nature was when the BBC’s Ben Brown interviewed Jody McIntyre about the London protests.

Jaffa – The Orange’s Clockwork

February 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

This film shows how Jaffa started out as a Palestinian place name before becoming an Israeli brand name and how the orange harvest shifted from being a joint undertaking into a symbol used by both parties in the conflict.

Atrocities sans Frontieres

February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Glenn Greenwald on Obama’s lawless presidency.

America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ralph Nader ’58 and Bruce Fein ’72 visited Harvard Law School for a talk sponsored by the HLS Forum and the Harvard Law Record. At the event, “America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama,” both men discussed what they called lawless, violent practices by the White House and its agencies that have become institutionalized by both political parties.

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