Tom Hurndall: A brave man who stood alone

Tom Hurndall was murdered by the IDF in Gaza.   Mr Hurndall’s father described a “culture of impunity” saying “they just lied continuously … it was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story. And they were not used to being challenged.”  Now as Hurndall’s journals are to be published Robert Fisk writes “I wish I had met Tom Hurndall, a remarkable man of remarkable principle.”

I don’t know if I met Tom Hurndall. He was one of a bunch of “human shields” who turned up in Baghdad just before the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, the kind of folk we professional reporters make fun of. Tree huggers, that kind of thing. Now I wish I had met him because – looking back over the history of that terrible war – Hurndall’s journals (soon to be published) show a remarkable man of remarkable principle. “I may not be a human shield,” he wrote at 10.26 on 17 March from his Amman hotel. “And I may not adhere to the beliefs of those I have travelled with, but the way Britain and America plan to take Iraq is unnecessary and puts soldiers’ lives above those of civilians. For that I hope that Bush and Blair stand trial for war crimes.”

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You know, fiction!

I am stealing Glenn Greenwald’s characteristically brilliant post on the incestuous relationship between the elite media and the political class. Bear in mind that Howard Kurtz is the same hack who led the government counteroffensive against Gary Webb (see here and here) — the journalist who had exposed a CIA operation, later confirmed by an internal investigation, that showed that the agency had been funding its covert ops in Central America by aiding the smuggling of crack cocained into California — by destroying his career. Here Greenwald destroys Kurtz and all that he represents.

Howard Kurtz: government and media need a “cease-fire” now and then

(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV)

Howard Kurtz makes an extremely funny joke today, showing why he is the “media critic” for both The Washington Post and CNN:

I know the [DC media/political] dinners may project an image that we’re all just a bunch of cozy Washington insiders, but I don’t think they’re that big a deal. There’s such a built-in adversarial relationship between the press and the pols that spending a couple of evenings in a kind of light-hearted cease-fire doesn’t strike me as a terrible thing.

That is some very penetrating media criticism there.  The media and political leaders are at each other’s throats so viciously, they have such sharply conflicting interests, that it’s a wonder they can even be in the same room together without physical confrontation.  For instance, it was the same Howie Kurtz who, in 2004, wrote this about what happened at his own newspaper:
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Meta-Free-Phor-All: Shall I Nail Thee to a Summer’s Day?

‘Stephen has a metaphor for Sean Penn: Sean Penn is a big mean jerk, and Stephen hates him.’ A Colbert Report classic, with metaphors drawn from Shakespeare, Eliot, Frost to Star Trek.

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To free Iraq, resistance must bridge the sectarian divide

‘As anti-occupation leaders recognise, the US could still exploit their divisions in an effort to offset its strategic defeat’, writes Seumas Milne.

In a last-ditch attempt to rescue some wafer of credibility from the west’s most catastrophic war of modern times, the story is taking hold in Britain and the US that after six years of horror Iraq is finally coming good. So quickly has this spin become accepted truth that politicians and pundits now regularly insist that if only General Petraeus is allowed to work his surge magic on Afghanistan, all could be well in that benighted land as well. One recent report in the Sunday Telegraph even claimed that the 4,000 British troops still in Basra are regarded as “heroes and liberators” by Iraqis now that their £8bn mission has at last been “accomplished”.

As the seventh year of the US-led occupation of Iraq begins tomorrow, facts on the ground tell a very different tale. Last week more than 60 people were killed in two suicide attacks on Iraqi police and army targets in Baghdad, while on Monday a 12-year-old girl was shot dead by American troops in a checkpoint incident in Nineveh province. It’s true that violence is well down on its gory peak of a couple of years ago and the power supply is edging up – to the level the US promised to achieve five years ago, at about 50% of demand. But a US soldier is killed on average every other day, Iraqi police and soldiers are dying at a much higher rate, and reported Iraqi civilian deaths are running at over 300 a month.

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American Football

American Football — by Harold Pinter

Hallelullah!
It works.
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!

Hallelullah.
Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

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It’s Obama’s War Now

USMC / LCpl Michael J. Ayotte

TruthDig: This is the text of a talk by Chris Hedges that will be read at anti-war gatherings to be held by The World Can’t Wait in New York’s Union Square, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago and Berkeley on March 19 to protest the sixth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama has shown that he is as capable of doublespeak as any other politician when he announced an end to the war in Iraq. Combat troops are to be pulled out of Iraq by August 2010, he said, but some 50,000 occupation troops will remain behind. Someone should let the Iraqis know the distinction. I doubt any soldier or Marine in Iraq will notice much difference in 19 months. Many combat units will simply be relabeled as noncombat units. And what about our small army of well-paid contractors and mercenaries? Will Dyncorp, Bechtel, Blackwater (which recently changed its name to Xe), all of whom have made fortunes off the war, pack up and go home? What about the three large super-bases, dozens of smaller military outposts and our imperial city, the Green Zone? Will American corporations give up their lucrative control of Iraqi oil?

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Cindy Sheehan interviews Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges Interview (53:40): MP3

Cindy Sheehan speaks to Chris Hedges, author of the classic War is a Force that Gives us Meaning. (The actual interview begins at 6:30)

Israel’s Arab Jews: Refugees?

Here’s Rachel Shabi putting paid to the Zionist ploy of passing off ethnic cleansing as ‘exchange of populations’.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) thinks that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinian refugees should somehow be offset against each other – the rights of one side counterbalancing the rights of the other. It’s a neat argument: Jews were forced to abandon material assets and leave Arab countries; Palestinians similarly fled or were expelled from their homes. Ergo, the region witnessed an exchange of populations and if Palestinian refugees are to be compensated by Israel, so too must the Jewish “refugees” from the Middle East, by the Arab nations that expelled them.

Nice try, but there are many reasons why this formula is all wrong. First off (as David Cesarani points out), it’s tasteless. There is no need for the fate of these two peoples, Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians, to be so fused materialistically. Middle Eastern Jews may indeed have a claim to lost assets, but those genuinely seeking peace between Israel and its neighbours should know that this is not the way to pursue it.

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Still Homeless in Baghdad

With 1.6 million internally displaced persons and an unemployement rate of 40-65%, Dahr Jamail reports about the plight of Iraqi families dispossessed and left homeless by the war.

“We only want a normal life,” says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years. Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad.
Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls.

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Iraq’s ‘Teflon Don’

‘The New Fallujah Up Close and Still in Ruins’. Our friend Dahr Jamail, who is presently back in Iraq, files this excellent report for the indispensable TomDispatch.

Fallujah, Iraq — Driving through Fallujah, once the most rebellious Sunni city in this country, I saw little evidence of any kind of reconstruction underway. At least 70% of that city’s structures were destroyed during massive U.S. military assaults in April, and again in November 2004, and more than four years later, in the “new Iraq,” the city continues to languish.

The shells of buildings pulverized by U.S. bombs, artillery, or mortar fire back then still line Fallujah’s main street, or rather, what’s left of it. As one of the few visible signs of reconstruction in the city, that street — largely destroyed during the November 2004 siege — is slowly being torn up in order to be repaved.

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