Saturday, July 22, 2006  


Pict of the week

our little Georgie is all grown-up. He's gone from mangling English to mauling heads of state. His Daddy must be so proud..
Maybe he's looking for another political wife to hang out with while Condi hangs out in the Middle East somewhere.

PS: It is said Merkel will make a quick recovery. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the US president's image.


Guest appearances:

To my Palestinian and Lebanese readers-if you have any messages or anything you want to pass on, I invite you to post a comment, and I'll put it into a post.

A few ground rules:
- keep the profanity to a minimum
- All X are *&%$#_Q@ scum isn't going to help anyone.
- if you send anything in Arabic, please include a translation
- I can translate whatever you send in French
- let me know if you want me to edit any grammar issues


Orale! Aztec Gold TV!

If you are anywhere near ComiCon in San Diego. You gotta check out my friends and follow activistas at Aztec Gold TV! You'll meet Lou Chalibre (r). And, if you're really lucky, Ms Slocialization might just flick her feathers at you.
You can find out more about the irreverant guide to everything that matters here.
And while you're at it, head to Landlord Jim's on Fridaysto hear DJ Lucha spin some really cool old school Latin and take in some art on the walls.

Remember, as DJ Lucha dice:
Besos, not bombs!

IN a week the pachanga moves to Tejas. NO lloras! They'll be back in August for a big blowout Aug.16.
Til then,


Not quite the stand-up guy you thought...

Although Isabella and Ferdinand look a little better. I've already had some reservations about Columbus Day and tend to look at Thanksgiving through a more revisionist lense.

This is the 500th anniversary of his death, and probably the 500+th anniversary of the death of untold Indians and slaves (Indian, other and White) that he personally caused.

Among the other things one is not taught about Columbus is that he was Viceroy of the West Indies for 8 years and then brought back in chains on order of the Spanish Crown to stand trial for his behavior. New documents recently discovered suggest Columbus was a discoverer with a taste for power, sadism and profit.
Consuelo Varela, a historian in Seville, has studied the documents and believes it is the most important discovery about Columbus's life for a century. Her research, which appears in La Caida de Cristobal Colon (The Fall of Christopher Columbus), reveals the brutal life in the first colony which Columbus set up.

Varela told the Spanish daily El Pais: "Life in the colony in these first seven years was hard and terrible. There was a great deal of hunger, envy, rancour and rumours of all sorts. It was a primitive, insular life, rather like what we see in Western films."She said people, including white Spanish slaves, were auctioned in the main square of Santo Domingo. "We hear of a poor boy who was caught stealing wheat grain. They cut off his ears and nose and put shackles on him and made him a slave. Columbus ran the colony with an iron fist.

"One woman happened to say that Columbus came from a working-class family and that his father had been a weaver. Columbus's brother Bartholme had her tongue cut out, after parading her naked through the streets on a donkey. Christopher congratulated his brother on defending the family honour."

There were many attempts at mutiny in the colony, she said.

James Loewen adds, in "The Lies My Teacher Told Me":
"They would even take Indians from place to place with them -- as dog food -- as a kind of mobile dog food," said Loewen. "When they got to where they were going for the night, [they would] allow the dogs to tear one of them apart and eat them." That story came from the contemporary account of a priest, Bartolemy de Las Casas, who knew Columbus.
To understand our own (US) history, we really need to be more aware of how this area came to be. I don't think showing schoolage children pictures of Indians being torn apart by dogs is appropriate below the age of 15, just as it is not appropriate (in my mind) to show the lynching postcards to the same age group. But at some point, they need to be shown because everything is linked.

I also think some of this info need to be shown to the Pope (or whatever pope) before anyone goes any further on the sainthood question for Fr. Junipero Serra. I remember being horrified when, at a relatively young age, I read his biography and learned that Serra had encourage the Spanish soldiers to take Indian wives or concubines because the Indians were such undisciplined workers and the resulting offspring would provide less recalcitrant labor. I remember thinking- he's treating them like mules! And being thoroughly disgusted.


San Diego-based Event-Teach in on Lebanon


Wise words from Ralph Nader

History, George, does not start two weeks or two months ago. You must read about past U.S. Presidents who, at least, sent high-level emissaries to quell similar border fighting. It worked and prisoners were often exchanged.

You are doing and saying nothing about what the rest of the world believes is a hugely disproportionate attack against innocent adults and children in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and other treaties and federal statutes. You've sworn to uphold these laws. Do so. Because of the Israeli government's overwhelming military power, the imbalance of terror against civilians and their property has always been to its advantage. As has its occupation of Palestine and confiscation of land and water sources.

Bush (and the Right in general) would be wise to listen.
Read Ralph here


You have to read this

You really do. From Counterpunch:

The Shame of Being An American


Do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians.

Do you know that one-third of the Lebanese civilians murdered by Israel’s attacks on civilian residential districts are children? That is the report from Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the UN. He says it is impossible for help to reach the wounded and those buried in rubble, because Israeli air strikes have blown up all the bridges and roads. Considering how often (almost always) Israel misses Hizbollah targets and hits civilian ones, one might think that Israeli fire is being guided by US satellites and US military GPS. Don’t be surprised at US complicity. Why would the puppet be any less evil than the puppet master?

Of course, you don’t know these things, because the US print and TV media do not report them.

Because Bush is so proud of himself, you do know that he has blocked every effort to stop the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese civilians. Bush has told the UN “NO.” Bush has told the European Community “NO.” Bush has told the pro-American Lebanese prime minister “NO.” Twice. Bush is very proud of his firmness. He is enjoying Israel’s rampage and wishes he could do the same thing in Iraq.

Does it make you a Proud American that “your” president gave Israel the green light to drop bombs on convoys of villagers fleeing from Israeli shelling, on residential neighborhoods in the capital of Beirut and throughout Lebanon, on hospitals, on power plants, on food production and storage, on ports, on civilian airports, on bridges, on roads, on every piece of infrastructure on which civilized life depends? Are you a Proud American? Or are you an Israeli puppet?

On July 20, “your” House of Representatives voted 410-8 in favor of Israel’s massive war crimes in Lebanon. Not content with making every American complicit in war crimes, “your” House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press, also “condemns enemies of the Jewish state.”

Who are the “enemies of the Jewish state”?

They are the Palestinians whose land has been stolen by the Jewish state, whose homes and olive groves have been destroyed by the Jewish state, whose children have been shot down in the streets by the Jewish state, whose women have been abused by the Jewish state. They are Palestinians who have been walled off into ghettos, who cannot reach their farm lands or medical care or schools, who cannot drive on roads through Palestine that have been constructed for Israelis only. They are Palestinians whose ancient towns have been invaded by militant Zionist “settlers” under the protection of the Israeli army who beat and persecute the Palestinians and drive them out of their towns. They are Palestinians who cannot allow their children outside their homes because they will be murdered by Israeli “settlers.”

The Palestinians who confront Israeli evil are called “terrorists.” When Bush forced free elections on Palestine, the people voted for Hamas. Hamas is the organization that has stood up to the Jewish state. This means, of course, that Hamas is evil, anti-semitic, un-American and terrorist. The US and Israel responded by cutting off all funds to the new government. Democracy is permitted only if it produces the results Bush and Israel want.

Israelis never practice terror. Only those who are in Israel’s way are terrorists.

Another enemy of the Jewish state is Hizbollah. Hizbollah is a militia of Shia Muslims created in 1982 when Israel first invaded Lebanon. During this invasion the great moral Jewish state arranged for the murder of refugees in refugee camps. The result of Israel’s atrocities was Hizbollah, which fought the Israeli army, defeated it, and drove it, with its tail between its legs, out of Lebanon. Today Hizbollah not only defends southern Lebanon but also provides social services such as orphanages and medical care.

To cut to the chase, the enemies of the Jewish state are any Muslim country not ruled by an American puppet friendly to Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the oil emirates have sided with Israel against their own kind, because they are dependent either on American money or on American protection from their own people. Sooner or later these totally corrupt governments that do not represent the people they rule will be overthrown. It is only a matter of time.

Indeed Bush and Israel may be hastening the process in their frantic effort to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran. Both governments have more popular support than Bush has, but the White House Moron doesn’t know this. The Moron thinks Syria and Iran will be “cakewalks” like Iraq, where ten proud divisions of the US military are tied down by a few lightly armed insurgents.

If you are still a Proud American, consider that your pride is doing nothing good for Israel or for America.

On July 20 when “your” House of Representatives, following “your” US Senate, passed the resolution in support of Israel’s war crimes, the most powerful lobby in Washington, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), quickly got out a press release proclaiming “The American people overwhelming support Israel’s war on terrorism and understand that we must stand by our closest ally in this time of crisis.”

The truth is that Israel created the crisis by invading a country with a pro-American government. The truth is that the American people do not support Israel’s war crimes, as the CNN quick poll results make clear and as was made clear by callers into C-Span.

Despite the Israeli spin on news provided by US “reporting,” a majority of Americans do not approve of Israeli atrocities against Lebanese civilians. Hizbollah is located in southern Lebanon. If Israel is targeting Hizbollah, why are Israeli bombs falling on northern Lebanon? Why are they falling on Beirut? Why are they falling on civilian airports? On schools and hospitals?

Now we arrive at the main point. When the US Senate and House of Representatives pass resolutions in support of Israeli war crimes and condemn those who resist Israeli aggression, the Senate and House confirm Osama bin Laden’s propaganda that America stands with Israel against the Arab and Muslim world.

Indeed, Israel, which has one of the world’s largest per capita incomes, is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. Many believe that much of this “aid” comes back to AIPAC, which uses it to elect “our” representatives in Congress.

This perception is no favor to Israel, whose population is declining, as the smart ones have seen the writing on the wall and have been leaving. Israel is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Muslims who are being turned into enemies of Israel by Israel’s actions and inhumane policies.

The hope in the Muslim world has always been that the United States would intervene in behalf of compromise and make Israel realize that Israel cannot steal Palestine and turn every Palestinian into a refugee.

This has been the hope of the Arab world. This is the reason our puppets have not been overthrown. This hope is the reason America still had some prestige in the Arab world.

The House of Representatives resolution, bought and paid for by AIPAC money, is the final nail in the coffin of American prestige in the Middle East. It shows that America is, indeed, Israel’s puppet, just as Osama bin Laden says, and as a majority of Muslims believe.

With hope and diplomacy dead, henceforth America and Israel have only tooth and claw. The vaunted Israeli army could not defeat a rag tag militia in southern Lebanon. The vaunted US military cannot defeat a rag tag, lightly armed, insurgency drawn from a minority of the population in Iraq, insurgents, moreover, who are mainly engaged in civil war against the Shia majority.

What will the US and its puppet master do? Both are too full of hubris and paranoia to admit their terrible mistakes. Israel and the US will either destroy from the air the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Iran so that civilized life becomes impossible for Muslims, or the US and Israel will use nuclear weapons to intimidate Muslims into acquiescence to Israel’s desires.

Muslim genocide in one form or another is the professed goal of the neoconservatives who have total control over the Bush administration. Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz has called for World War IV (in neocon thinking WW III was the cold war) to overthrow Islam in the Middle East, deracinate the Islamic religion and turn it into a formalized, secular ritual.

Rumsfeld’s neocon Pentagon has drafted new US war doctrine that permits pre-emptive nuclear attack on non-nuclear states.

Neocon David Horowitz says that by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, “Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world,” thus equating war criminals with civilized men.

Neocon Larry Kudlow says that “Israel is doing the Lord’s work” by murdering Lebanese, a claim that should give pause to Israel’s Christian evangelical supporters. Where does the Lord Jesus say, “go forth and murder your neighbors so that you may steal their lands”?
(my emphasis)

The complicity of the American public in these heinous crimes will damn America for all time in history.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:



are you doing the next few days? Up for a rally to support Lebanon and protest the bombing, now invasion into Lebanon?

Ingrid over at Blogger's Rountable has an incredible list of things happening all over the world. Surely there is something going on near you! And if you know of anything coming up that isn't on the list, please let me or Ingrid know and it will be added.


Take worth reading

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb has an interesting take on the whole situation:
As a scholar who has devoted much of my career to following Hezbollah, I have a simple answer. I'm sure that Hezbollah had envisaged, though perhaps not expected, a response of this kind. By provoking its southern neighbor, Hezbollah knew it would present Israel with a ghastly choice. Hezbollah is a popular social movement, and it is well aware that it can be destroyed only if the Israeli army is prepared to commit mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing -- use whatever unpalatable term you will -- against the entire Shiite community.

Israel won't win without wiping out a religious group. However angry the Israelis are, there must be many who won't be able to stomach that possibility, with its hideous historic implications. That's what Hezbollah was counting on 11 days ago when its fighters took Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser captive near the Lebanese border.

And frankly, I agree with her. I think Hezbollah knew Israel would retaliate- although, possibly, they misjudged the scale.

And if, as Saad-Ghorayeb says, this conflict has taken on a wider meaning: Israel- the removal of Hzbollah an all related elements;Hezbollah- survival and a greater role as protector of the ummah in the region- then the destruction of Lebanon is minor compared to these goals.

Saad-Ghorayeb says further:
It is hard to gauge public opinion here today. From the snippets of conversation I pick up, people remain polarized, as they were before the war: On one end are those (mainly non-Shiites) who lay the blame for Israel's destruction of Lebanon squarely on Hezbollah for having picked the fight; and on the other are those (overwhelmingly Shiite) who believe, as one man told me, that "we should fight to the death." But there are also many in between whose initial anger at Hezbollah is being replaced by rage at Israel. Those sentiments remind me of 1982, when Israel's invasion of Lebanon gave birth to Hezbollah.

Given its current position of strength, Hezbollah is in no mood to settle for anything less than its original demand for a prisoner exchange, as Nasrallah asserted in a recent interview on al-Jazeera. Why would Hezbollah agree to any of the diplomatic proposals being floated? The idea of deploying the Lebanese army to the south to serve as a buffer between Israel and Hezbollah would be tantamount to the party's military neutralization. And the notion of stationing multinational troops there is even more far-fetched, given that Hezbollah and the Shiite community would view them as occupiers.

After Bush's statements, the Senate's vote, the (non-existent) evacuation strategy and now the rush order missles, who cares if Rice saunters in to lecture everyone. She doesn't appear to have any constructive solutions to offer anyway.

read the rest


Interesting editorial...

In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centers.

from Haaretz
(Thanks Terrorism News!)


This explains

a lot:
The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

Supposedly Rice is going to creep into the region on Sunday. We'll see.
the rest


The dead have names and faces III

“We need a small coffin,” one of the men shouted. The crowd went silent, and soon a body the size of a doll came out, what one doctor called a posthumous birth from a pregnant mother in the trailer. The men broke into chants of “God is great.”

Halfway through, there was a bang as a plane dropped leaflets over the crowd warning them to move at once. “Due to the terrorist acts against the state of Israel that came from your villages and your homes, the Israeli Army has been forced to respond immediately against these acts even within your villages, for your own security,” the note read in Arabic. “You are ordered to leave your villages and head immediately north of the Litani River.”

read the rest here(may require login)

Friday, July 21, 2006  

A letter...

Reports From Poisonville has a great post + links on a letter a number of American Jews are putting together that opposes Israel's out of proportion response to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah.


Please stop calling...

Is what the US embassy is said to have told Americans stranded in Lebanon in e-mails. Thousands of Americans are stranded in Lebanon. Only a lucky several hundred have made it back to the US- many are still in Cyprus.
The question is why the unbelievably imcompetent evacuation strategy, especially after a number of other countries scrambled to get their citizens out.
Was it mere incompetence?
Or, since many Americans in Lebanon are of Lebanese descent- racism?
Are the lives of Lebanese-Americans and other Americans "foolish" enough to have gone to witness the Cedar Revolution for themselves worth less than the lives of Kibbutzim on the other side of the fence? Or those in Haifa? (many of whom are also American?)
And to ask them to pay for their evacuation is very peculiar.
Is safety, then, a commodity of the rich ex-pats? Is the US government selective about whom it serves overseas?
Are "we, the people" really "some of the people" and only when convenient?
And then, ironies of ironies (yes, Dubya, more irony)- these US citizens are being bombed with bombs manufactured in their very own country, and sold to another country that bought and paid for these bombs with US aid money that comes out of the taxes guessed it- US citizens!
Just like the US citizens living, visiting, and working in Lebanon. waiting for the US to get its act together and evacuate its citizens being bombed out of house and home by the closest ally the US has- Israel.

And yet Bush won't call for a ceasefire- not even to get his fellow Americans out of harm's way.
And Condi won't be going to Lebanon for several days more (if at all) because the US has greenlighted the bombing runs for another week.

But the problem is if Israel marches into Lebanon with a sizable ground force, she won't be going anyway, because it will be too dangerous.

But not so dangerous that the US can organize a competent evacuation.


Things best not forgotten

Nearly 30 years after the Khmer Rouge came to power, there is a sense that once of the most shocking government-sponsored killing sprees is almost all but forgotten. Kevin Sites, whom I have since grown to respect, has some interesting and thoughtful coverage on the legacy of the years of killing and the extraodinary tribunal being set up to call the remaining architects of this bloodbath to account.

This reminds me of an incredible reportage I read which quickly became one of my favorite pieces of writing:
The only person I ever met who knew both Princess Soumphady and King Sisowath was a dancer named Chea Samy. She was said to be one of Cambodia's greatest dancers, a national treasure. She was also Pol Pot's sister-in-law.[snip]
On King Sisowath's death in 1927, his son Monivong succeeded to the throne, and soon the regime in the palace underwent a change. The new King's favourite mistress was a talented dancer called Luk Khun Meak, and she now gradually took over Princess Soumphady's role as 'the lady in charge of the women'. Luk Khun Meak made use of her influence to introduce several members of her family into the palace. Among them were a few relatives from a small village in the province of Kompong Thom. One—later to become Chea Samy's husband—was given a job as a clerk at the palace. He in turn brought two of his brothers with him, so they could go to school in Phnom Penh. The youngest of the two was a boy of six called Saloth Sar—it was he who was later to take the nom de guerre, Pol Pot.

Chea Samy made a respectful gesture at a picture on the wall behind her, and I looked up to find myself transfixed by Luk Khun Meak's stern, frowning gaze. 'She was killed by Pol Pot,' said Chea Samy, using the generic phrase with which Cambodians refer to the deaths of that time. The distinguished old dancer, mistress of King Monivong, died of starvation after the revolution. One of her daughters was apprehended by the Khmer Rouge while trying to buy rice with a little bit of gold. Her breasts were sliced off, and she was left to bleed to death.

'What was Pol Pot like as a boy?' I asked, inevitably.

Chea Samy hesitated for a moment: it was easy to see that she had often been asked the question before and had thought about it at some length. 'He was a very good boy,' she said at last, emphatically. 'In all the years he lived with me, he never gave me any trouble at all.'

Read "Dancing in Cambodia" by Amitav Ghosh in Granta


BBC interview with Doris Bittar and Jim Rauch

Doris Bittar (see side for links) and her husband Jim Rauch were interviewed by the BBC for The World Today, which was sort of on the road in San Diego. The BBC also explored the border for a few minutes. Doris and Jim are part of a Palestinian-Jewish dialog group in San Diego. You can listen to the podcast of their interview here

Well, here goes. Time to do a little catching up.

The events in Lebanon are acquiring a horrific sense of multiple deja-vus.., 1973...1982...2003...2005...and I wonder what fresh hellish piece of information tomorrow (or tonight if I am brave enough to look at the East Coast/European feeds/newsources) will surface. It's hard to face friends from the region without thinking "my god, what do I say...?" It's hard to face my students, knowing that many of them are following these events and wondering how their teachers stand on them. It's unbearable thinking of filmmaker friends in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine, and of journalist colleagues and fellow artists, and of friends from college, many experiencing the invasion of Lebanon, stuck in another country, yet again.

And again, there is the question of what can one personally do? The temptation to be an ostrich is great, but then so is the feeling that personal accountability requires witnessing and raising one's voice in whatever manner one can. There is a sense of being devoured by the murder of Lebanon and that the internet is a curse.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006  

An assignment to assist in acquiring empathy

Patrick McGreevey: Meanwhile, many foreigners have been finding ways out of Lebanon. American students at AUB will be given first priority
tomorrow; the Embassy says it won't announce until the last minute if
by land, sea or helicopter. Others will apparently have the
opportunity as early as tomorrow, and most likely within the next
three days. It is interesting what causes tension among people in
situations like this. They have been told they can only have one small
(courtesy of Naeem Mohaiemem at
Since I am known for making values-based writing assignments, here's one for you:

You are being evacuated and can only take one small bag, What will you take and why?
You have 15 minutes to write this.

For extra credit, you may take an additional 15 minutes to pack your bag and leave. Please remember, there is a strong possibility that the building in which you are now sitting may not be standing in a few days.

There is also no guarantee you will be allowed to return even if it still is, especially if you are Lebanese-other resident. It is not known at this time who will be issuing visas, but we have our suspicions. Which, at the moment, we are keeping to ourselves.

You may

Monday, July 17, 2006  


From AP:
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel would agree to a cease-fire in its six-day-old offensive against Hezbollah if the Lebanese guerrillas withdraw from the border area with Israel and release two captured Israeli soldiers, a senior official said Monday.

The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomacy, said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had conveyed Israel's position to Italy's prime minister, who is trying to broker a cease-fire deal.

Israel had previously demanded the full dismantling of Hezbollah as a condition for ending hostilities. However, the senior official said Israel would agree to Hezbollah merely leaving the border area -- with the Lebanese army taking its place.

There are several Lebanese the Israelis are holding and they need to be released as well.


Shrub Speak

"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s--- and it's over," Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.

No, Dubya, the "irony" is that you could say something to Olmert and maybe there might be a short ceasefire. The "irony" is that you really don't care about the thousands of Americans in Lebanon at the moment, many of them American Lebanese who are in clear danger. (The Canadian Lebanese are no longer of concern -7 of them are dead.) The "irony" is that Lebanon, which only recently recovered from a brutal civil war and Israeli occupation, was doing pretty well- a possible model for other countries in the region, but now it is being "Iraqed," to death by a military using American made weapons. The "irony" is that the death toll is something like 25:1 - hmmmmmm, again like Iraq.
The "irony" is that the Israelis do "shock and awe" better than you do.
The "irony" is that "It" won't be over, even if Shalit and the others are returned, even if Hizbollah is disarmed. There is still the Green Line, the Wall, the issue of water rights, of rights of passage, the sovereignty of Lebanon.
The "irony" is that you, the "leader" of a powerful Western nation are so embarrasingly ignorant, guided by people whose agendas are not really about what is good for the US or the rest of humanity. We, as a people, been so cheapened by your presence,and by those who "serve" you.

will speak more directly about Lebanon later. Am probing the authenticity of the letter from the CEO of Starbucks about how every drop of coffee you buy there supports Israel. If true, I am boycotting them.

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