PULSE is proud to present this excerpt from Brain-Dead or Alive, the new novel created by Tom Clancy’s Op-Center, written in collaboration with Gen. Tony Zinni (Ret.), Gen. Charles Horner (Ret.), Gen. Fred Franks (Ret.), and Chase Madar.
It was a dark and stormy night in McLean, Virginia.
Former CIA director and ex-president Vernon Manley Babbitt sat at his dining-room table flanked by his most trusted compadres, who in many adventures past had defended the American way of life against nuclear terrorists, Islamic fanatics, and unarmed folk singers. Their next mission might be the most dangerous yet.
V. Manley Babbitt and his secret team called themselves the BFD, and their existence was so classified no one knew what the initials stood for. The BFD was licensed to do anything, from waterboarding the president’s mother to parking in handicapped spots, and with the safety of millions at stake, they often did. Babbitt surveyed his companions, tried and true, around the table.
First there was X, a man without an identity. Nobody knew X’s real name. Was it maybe just X? That kind of head-fake would have been vintage X! No one even knew what X looked like, not even X’s wife, because he always wore a brown paper bag on his head. He had ex-Special Ops written all over him, but not on the paper bag, which usually bore the logo of the retail chain where his wife had done the previous day’s shopping.
British writer Ian McEwan took a lot of heat for accepting the Jerusalem Book Prize. The literary award is given out every two years at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, an event that appears to be put on by the Jerusalem municipal government.
In response to British writers who criticized his decision to accept the prize, McEwan wrote (with my emphasis):
I’m for finding out for myself, and for dialogue, engagement, and looking for ways in which literature, especially fiction, with its impulse to enter other minds, can reach across political divides.
But there are ways to do both: reject the prize and dialogue and engage, though it may not be to the liking of those who have awarded you the honor.
The lesson comes from Egypt, naturally. I discovered this by finally getting to the back of the book of the February issue of Harper’s. It’s from a retrospective review of two Egyptian writers, Albert Cossery and and Sonallah Ibrahim.
I did not see this coming, though I am fully aware of the unemployment rate, high prices, low salaries, lack of freedom of speech and corruption that has been flowing in the veins of the Sultanate. Omani people have watched the uprisings in the Arab world, and they have learned a valuable lesson from the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The power of the people is so great that it can change the unbearable reality. According to the Oman News Agency, what happened yesterday and what is happening today all over Oman is a type of ‘vandalism’ though the protestors were chanting: “selmeyyah” (peaceful protests) all the time.
Let’s start from the very beginning. About 300 protestors gathered on Saturday in the Globe roundabout in Suhar, or what is known now as the ‘Reform Square’, to demand more political and economic reforms. This comes after the decrees issued by the Sultan and which did not meet the protestors’ demands for change. The result was that the police arrested 41 people to spread fear among the others. Of course that did not happen. The protestors were more determined to continue with their peaceful protests.
In a totalitarian regime, you never know the mistakes that are made. But in a democracy, if anybody does something wrong, against the will of the people, it will float to the surface. The whole people are looking.
—Hosni Mubarak in an interview from Sandcastles: The Arabs in Search of the Modern World by Milton Viorst (Knopf, 1994)
Late last March Muammar Qaddafi, whose official title is Brother Leader of the Great Libyan Arab People’s Jamahiriya, hosted a summit meeting of Arab heads of state. Leaders of the twenty-two Arab League member countries had gathered dozens of times since the first such meeting in 1964, but never before in Libya. Given Qaddafi’s penchant for rambling incoherence and his regime’s reputation for shambolic management, delegates rather dreaded the event, particularly since it was to be held not in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, but in Qaddafi’s bleak little hometown of Sirte, three hundred kilometers away.
Rakhshanda Jalil writes in The Hindu, 27 February 2011, about “that elusive connect with India when she was least expecting it” on a visit to Karachi, Pakistan. The title of her piece is “A city not unlike home.”
I am always amused when Indians are surprised and taken aback by Pakistanis (whether in Karachi or Lahore or elsewhere) who “speak Urdu and English with almost equal aplomb” or by their “silk sarees and natty blazers” or by their possible cosmopolitanism!!! (Class is class, unfortunately, and the élite exhibit their privileges in similar ways all over the region!) Does it not, if just remotely, smack of the loaded “praise”: “Gee! Obama is so articulate!” — also known as “the racism of lowered expectation”? Why would Indians expect otherwise from their class-affiliates on the other side of the border? Or is it that Bollywood’s Pakistan-bashing fantasies are actually swallowed uncritically — hook, line, and sinker — even (or perhaps especially) by the educated Indians, eliciting “fears about Kalashnikov-toting Taliban and marauding Muhajirs.”
And by the way, Pakistanis are not all “tall, well-built, good-looking people,” especially under the normative definition of “good-looking” in South Asia (fair-skinned or with a “wheatish complexion”) — thank god for the latter! Sadly, the former two ascriptions, of course, too easily go awry given malnutrition due to poverty. Continue reading “An Élite Not Unlike Ours! Who’d Have Guessed?!”
The company, based in Mishor Edomim Industrial Park, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, markets its devices and bottles under a ‘Made in Israel’ label. By doing so, SodaStream (also known as Soda Club), world leader of home beverage carbonating devices, misleads consumers in Europe and the United States.
SodaStream misleadingly markets its devices and bottles under the Made in Israel label while in fact these products were manufactured in the Mishor Edomim Industrial Park, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.
The company has recently faced a ruling by the European Court of Justice, stating that goods produced in settlements should not be considered as made in Israel and enjoys the tax exempt of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
‘Muammar Gaddafi’s planned resignation speech,’ as seen by Tariq Ali.
“It’s raining outside which is why I cannot address you. Sorry. It seems to be raining inside my tent as well. Can this be rain? No. It’s dogs polluting the uniforms of my bodyguards. No respect for women. Benghazi. I hate that city. Once I accidentally addressed my friend Berlusconi as Benghazi. Drunkards, pimps and religious extremists. I will bomb them again before I leave. I wish we had bought some drones so I could press button myself. My relations with the people are informal, based on friendship and fear. Why have they become so noisy and combative? I have many children. The British Foreign Office adopted one of them, my dear Saif, and wanted to put him on the throne, but that would have no effect on the intellectual landscape of the Jamahiriya.
I just received a tweet from Venezuela: ‘Have you read The Autumn of the Patriarch by G.G. Marquez?’ Why should I read this shit? Has G.G. Marquez read my science-fiction short stories ‘Escape from Hell’ that are even better than my little Green Book which is very nutty? They are set in an imaginary country with an imaginary ruler who kills his people and they rise and get rid of him. It’s very funny story. It is popular in Arab lands. I met them, these jokers and stray dogs of Europe. Blair, Berlusconi, they are my friends, but now they ask me to go. Why? Did they not go? It’s always raining in London. And that Roman pimp is always raining on his people. I will go when my time comes. When Allah summons me to discuss the political conjuncture. I like pizzas. Once there was a good pizza place in Tripoli. Much better pizzas than in Benghazi, but now all these shops are burning. Is it still raining? No? OK. Then I will go. Bury me in a colored shroud, not white. Bill Clinton. His penis should have been chopped off and fed to swine for letting Monica play with him when he was talking to heads of state. Men will be men, but that still upsets me. I never did that. Nor did Blair or Berlusconi.
Right after Friday prayers, people started to leave the mosque which is a two-minute walk from my building. I could hear that gunfire had already started in another area before the people finished their prayers. As the peaceful protestors left the mosque, they started to chant: La Ellaha Ela ALLAH, Qaddafi Adouaa Allah – “There is no god but God, Qaddafi is the enemy of God”. The moment I saw that scene I was so happy, proud, and speechless!
The gunfire in my area, and in Souk Jomaa, Mayzaran, Siyahiya, Dahra and elsewhere, was random and didn’t stop until around 5 pm.
A short time after the protestors passed by my street, an open car with 5 armed thugs parked in front of my building. They opened fire in the air, and then one of them said loudly, “Whoever doesn’t like Qaddafi, get out of your house now!” Then he said, “As long as you stay inside your homes you will be safe, and whoever comes out will be immediately killed.”