10 Reasons for an Academic Boycott of Israel

My article for the “10 Reasons for a Cultural Boycott of Israel” campaign has prompted requests for a similar article about the academic boycott.  So without further ado: 10 reasons for an academic boycott of Israel. 
Continue reading “10 Reasons for an Academic Boycott of Israel”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Story of the Wiping Out of the Indigenous People of a Land Formerly Known as Falastin

Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers,

It’s me again. After 11 letters from all around the world, a petition with over 6400 signatories that just keeps growing, and a couple groups on Facebook [1,2], it seems like you’re determined to go through the motions of a performance in apartheid Israel. Sure enough, after a long silence from you, we’re seeing the standard Shuki Weiss promotional video, reassuring fans that past cancellations won’t repeat, and that the world still in fact loves Israel. I can reiterate what was written in other letters and statements, but I much rather just respond to one thing you said in the video, which burns with irony: “We love playing for people. Children, middle aged, and old people. So come one come all.”

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44799712 w=400&h=300]

So here goes, the 12th letter asking the Red Hot Chili Peppers to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the apartheid military regime of Israel.

Continue reading “The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Story of the Wiping Out of the Indigenous People of a Land Formerly Known as Falastin”

A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir

PUMPKIN: Everybody be cool, this is an occupation!
YOLANDA: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
JULES: So, tell me again about those killing-for-promotions there…

"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.  From http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-images-by-street-artist-banksy.php
"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.

PUMPKIN: Everybody be cool, this is an occupation!
YOLANDA: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
JULES: So, tell me again about those killing-for-promotions there…
VINCENT: What do you want to know?
JULES: Killing is legal there, right?
VINCENT: Yeah, it is legal but it ain’t 100% legal. I mean you can’t walk into a house and start shooting right away. You’re only supposed to take those fucking pricks to certain designated places and blast off their fucking brains? You have to give them some name…
JUKES: Those are encounter sites?
VINCENT: Yeah, it breaks down like this: it’s legal to kill them, it’s legal to own it and, if you’re the occupier of the encounter site, it’s legal to bury them there. It’s legal to carry their bodies, but that doesn’t really matter ’cause — even if you got a truckload of them — if the cops stop you, it’s illegal for them to search you. Searching you is a right that the cops in Kashmir don’t have. Continue reading “A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir”

Robot Wars

Al Jazeera’s excellent Fault Lines return with an investigation into the use of unmanned military technologies.

Over the past decade, the US military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more unmanned systems in the battlefield than ever before. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military.

These systems mean less American deaths. They also mean less political risk for the US when it takes acts of lethal force — often outside of official war zones.

But US lethal drone strikes in countries like Pakistan have brought up serious questions about the legal and political implications of using these systems.

Fault Lines looks at how these new weapons of choice are allowing the US to stretch the international laws of war and what it could mean when more and more autonomy is developed for these lethal machines.

The Ethical Governor

It is rather rare these days to discover art of such extraordinary creative genius that it leaves one impoverished for words. That rare moment occurred for me a couple of days back when I saw ‘The Ethical Governor,’ a short animation produced by the writer, musician and animator (or his preference: ‘electronic artist’) John Butler. It is the product of a sparkling imagination and technical virtuosity in which there are traces of Swift, Kafka, Huxley, Orwell, early Coetzee, and Philip K. Dick. Like the masters, Butler takes extant tendencies in society and brings them into sharp focus in works that combine social consciousness, perfect pitch irony, clever wordplay, subversive wit and spectacular visuals. He describes his art as ‘speculative fiction for the age of financialization’, and anyone who has delved into the world of CDOs, CDSs and SPVs will understand where he is coming from. Last year he told an interviewer:

I’m interested in human utility in the drone age.  Human redundancy in the unmanned economy.  I’m interested in the war between Finance and Humans.

I’m interested in the Universal Transaction Space we all now inhabit. […]

Speculative fiction is important because the future seems to be behind us, and nothing lies ahead. We’re just waiting for the next upgrade.

Continue reading “The Ethical Governor”

UAE’s ‘for-profit, no-Muslim’ army of repression

The Nation’s brilliant Jeremy Scahill on the Rachel Maddow show discussing Blackwater CEO Erik Prince’s new UAE venture. (For more see Scahill’s post on his blog).