Inside Syria’s War

Yaara Bou Melhem of Dateline Australia manages to sneak in to Syria from Turkey to speak to members of the rebel opposition, including a rare interview with Colonel Riad al-Asaad, a leader of the Free Syrian Army.

And over the jump, Anand Gopal‘s ‘Letter from Taftanaz’ in Harper’s [Scrib’d link].

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The wonderful world of Tony Blair

Britain’s most fearless investigative journalist Peter Oborne follows up his excellent work exposing Britain’s Israel lobby and the Murdoch empire with another devastating documentary about the myriad conflicts of interest of the execrable Tony Blair. (Also see Ali Abunimah’s piece on Blair’s myriad shady dealings).

International viewers can watch the documentary below:

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Ten years too long: What is the True Cost of the Afghanistan War?

Narrated by Tony Benn, with music by Brian Eno. The clip ends with a call to join the Antiwar Mass Assembly in Trafalgar Square on 8 October: http://www.antiwarassembly.org

Obama’s Foreign Policy and the End of the American Era

Steve Walt, co-author of the ground-breaking The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, gave a keynote address on “Obama’s Foreign Policy and the End of the American Era” at an event is co-hosted by the IIEA and UCD’s Clinton Institute for American Studies. You can download the Post Event Notes from this event here.

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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.

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Wikileaks is still around

In 2010 Time magazine defied the judgment of its readers to select Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over Julian Assange as its person of the year.  In a readers’ poll Assange had secured 382,000 votes to Zuckerberg’s 18,000. It had been some years since Facebook was big news; some therefore suggested Time had really chosen 2007’s person of the year. Explaining his choice, Time managing editor Richard Stengel confidently declared that ‘Assange might not even be on anybody’s radar six months from now…I think Assange will be a footnote five years from now.’ This was a day before Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight. It was also before Tahrir Square. It’s over six months since Stengel’s daring prediction yet Assange still remains on the radar and his list of media partners has expanded to over 60—and its growing. Wikileaks has yet to release a much anticipated tranche of documents on the banking sector. It is safe to assume that Wikileaks will be with us for some time to come. But given the present state of publishing, it is likelier that Time will be a footnote five years from now. Here are some recent interviews with Assange:

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