August 30, 2006


Israel's Occupation

An Israeli recently arrives at London's Heathrow airport. As he fills out a form, the customs officer asks him: "Occupation?"

The Israeli promptly replies: "No, just visiting!"

More Lebanese jokes about their situation and their imperial neighbour:

Three Hezbollah fighters run out of Beirut's southern suburbs after Israeli raids, flashing the victory sign. Actually, no. They were really pointing out that there were only two buildings left standing.

Why did rents go up in Ain el-Rummaneh district overlooking the southern suburbs? Because it has a sea view now!

Why are coquettish elderly Lebanese women very happy about the war? Because it took them back 30 years.

Why will Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, win the Nobel Prize for education? Because he is the only man who sent one million people to school in just two days.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sitting in his office wondering how to invade Lebanon when his telephone rang. Beirut's most famous imaginary character announces to him in a heavily accented voice: "This is Abul Abed and I am calling to tell you that we are officially declaring war on you." "How big is your army?" replies Olmert. "Right now," said Abul Abed, "there is myself, my cousin Mustafa, my next-door neighbor Abu Khaled, and the whole team from the teahouse. That makes eight!" Olmert paused. "I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have 1 million men in my army waiting to move on my command." Abul Abed paused, then said: "Mr. Olmert, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!" "And what equipment would that be Abul Abed?", Olmert asked. "Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180s, and a truck." "I must tell you Abul Abed that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to 2 million!" "Mr. Olmert, we have to call off this war," said Abul Abed. "I'm sorry to hear that," said Olmert. "Why the sudden change of heart?" "Well," said Abul Abed, "we've come to realize that there is no way we can feed 2 million prisoners!"

Olmert sent a commando operation deep into Lebanon. Mission: Capture Lebanese diva Fairuz. He insists on finding the only bridge he did not destroy: An imaginary bridge evoked for decades in a romantic Fairuz aria. "On the bridge 'Lawziyeh' under the shade of the leaves," goes the song.

Early one day, a man rushes desperately to the dentist. "Please take out my bridge, or the Israelis will bomb it!"

After Saudi Arabia decided to donate half a billion dollars to rebuild Lebanon, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, ordered the capture of six Israeli soldiers at the border.

Amid a mass evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon, Palestinian refugees who have been stranded in Lebanon for nearly 60 years are ecstatic: The Palestinian Authority has decided to evacuate its nationals as well.


August 29, 2006


One year after Katrina

August 25, 2006


Why They Fight

A couple of night ago I saw the documentary Why We Fight on CBC. To understand American militarism, you need to understand the reasons for it. You need to understand the "Why." Every other documentary I have watched on the subject, including Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911," has mainly tackled the "How." "Why We Fight" gives far more far-reaching answers to the first question than one expects from a fairly mainstream documentary, which is essentially what it is.

It is built around President Eisenhower's words of warning, as he was leaving office, about the "military-industrial complex" . We all think we have heard his message. This movie proves that we have not been allowed to notice the important second part of Ike's warning:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

The movie is an exposition and indictment of the dialogue of alienation that characterizes not only American militarism, but also American politics, and American society itself.

August 22, 2006


The Brain on Pennsylvania Avenue

The latest quote from the Brain:

"Sometimes I'm happy, you know. But war is not a time of joy."

August 21, 2006


Fact-finding mission to Lebanon

Three Canadian Members of Parliament are currently on a fact-finding mission in Lebanon. Below is from a report on their findings published in today's Toronto Star. It is written by Andrew Mills, who has been doing a first-class job of reporting Israel's war on Lebanon:

AITAROUN, LEBANON—The Canadian government must begin direct talks with militant groups such as Hezbollah to effectively bring a peaceful end to conflicts like the one that has ravaged Lebanon this summer, Toronto Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj says.

Standing at the spot where an Israeli air strike killed several members of a Montreal family last month, Wrzesnewskyj said Israel's summer offensive against Lebanon was nothing less than "state terrorism."

"Over 1,200 dead and counting. Over 40,000 apartments and houses flattened. A country's infrastructure dismembered. You look around here," said Wrzesnewskyj. "I believe what's happened is absolutely criminal."

It was one of the strongest statements a Liberal MP has made against Israel since July 12, when it launched air, land and sea attacks after guerrillas from the militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in a cross-border raid.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper initially called the ensuing Israeli onslaught a "measured response" to the raid, but as the civilian death toll mounted, he later toned down his comments saying such judgments had become more difficult as the war escalated.

But for the three Canadian opposition MPs who yesterday toured the wasteland of south Lebanon on a fact-finding mission, Israel's attacks here have been anything but measured.

"Those who were injured and killed on the Israeli side of the border feel equally devastated, but the extent of the damage is far greater here. And to say that Israel's response was a measured response is just so far out of whack from reality," said NDP MP Peggy Nash.

Wrzesnewskyj said even if Canada had attempted to play a role, the country's anti-terrorism legislation prevents it from having any contact with groups listed as terrorist organizations under the criminal code.

"We can't shackle ourselves by saying, `We're not going to talk,'" he said. "We must talk."

All three MPs here speculated that Conservatives' unwillingness to send a representative is reflective of their support for Israel's government.

The MPs travelled through areas where Israeli forces have destroyed homes, businesses and hundreds of civilian lives and ended in this border village where diggers have spent days scraping through debris in a delicate effort to remove the bodies of the al-Akhras family.

The Montreal couple, their four young children and other family members, were caught in their ancestral village when the fighting broke out. The home they had sheltered in took a direct hit on July 16.

Wrzesnewskyj called for a full international investigation of attacks on civilians.

"This sort of state impunity has to end," he said. "It's almost having to save a people from themselves. What do you think (Israel's) breeding here? Extremism."

August 13, 2006


Why we love Fidel

Why do we love Fidel?
Because we love the idea of “Fidel”
Because we think there has to be some other way
That there must be more to life and to living than this
That life and living must have some meaning too

We loathe the things that they force down our throats day and night
We love freedom:
Freedom from the chains of television and commercials
Freedom from the chains of futility
Freedom from humiliation

Yet, we know Fidel’s time is past
We know the idea of “Fidel,” too, will some day succumb to the unipolar world that is getting narrower every day
Still, we keep hoping
Still, we see signs that the idea of “Fidel” may be permeating into other places too
Fidel who, once the Soviet Union fell, was left isolated and friendless, is finding new friends and allies

But the unipolar world, too, is hard at work
Its slogan is “You are either with us or with the terrorists”
Its slogan is “democracy,” but only if democracy doesn’t harm its own interests
It supports all autocratic governments, but considers Fidel a dictator
A dictator who has given free education and healthcare to his country’s people
And many other things besides
So we must either be with Bush or with Fidel

But even if some day Fidel had to leave, he will go with honor
He will hold his head high
The same way that his nation – his comrades – hold their heads high
Because he never yielded
He was never like autocratic rulers who sell everything that they have and that they are, all in return for worldly power and status

Fidel will become immortal
Because there will never be another Fidel
In the same way that there will never be another Gandhi, another Mossadegh, or another Allende
And, yes, another Khomeini or another Arafat

And yet…
Such words don’t give us fancy clothes
They don’t give us credit cards, loans, debt, and alienation
They don’t give us the “American Dream”

So, long live CNN and the “free” press, the boundaries of whose freedom are set by multinational corporations!
Long live the hundreds of meaningless brand names, trade marks and logos!
Long live luxury cars and even more luxurious houses, which most of us only see in our dreams!
Long live the material world!

Source: Beyond Words

Happy 80th, and many more! Please get well!

August 09, 2006


"The sovereignty of Cuba must be respected"

To sign the statement below, already signed by over 16,000 individuals and over 200 organizations, go here

"As a result of the communication of Fidel Castro on his state of health and the provisional delegation of his responsibilities, high ranking U.S officials have formulated more explicit statements about the immediate future of Cuba. The Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said that 'the moment has arrived for a true transition towards a true democracy' and the White House spokesman Tony Snow said that his government is 'ready and eager to provide humanitarian, economic and other aid to the people of Cuba', as was recently reiterated by President Bush.

"Already the 'Commission for Assistance to a free Cuba', presided over by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, pointed out in a report issued in June 'the urgency of working today to ensure that the Castro regime's succession strategy does not succeed' and President Bush indicated that this document 'demonstrates that we are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change'. The Department of State has emphasized that the plan includes measures that will remain secret 'for reasons of national security' and to assure its 'effective implementation'.

"It is not difficult to imagine the character of such measures and the 'announced assistance' if one considers the militarization of the foreign policy of the present American administration and its performance in Iraq.

"In front of this increasing threat against the integrity of a nation, and the peace and the security of Latin America and the world, we the signatories listed below demand that the government of the United States respect the sovereignty of Cuba. We must prevent a new aggression at all cost."

August 07, 2006


Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East and Everywhere Else

August 06, 2006


The truth is coming out from behind the cloud of Israeli lies

Israel, confronted with the world’s revulsion at its bombings of civilian targets, has claimed that Hezbollah fighters and munitions are dispersed and hidden among Shia civilian populations. According to Israel, Hezbollah is to blame for the civilian deaths.

Israel’s bombing of Lebanon’s Christian areas has finally put the lie to that claim, as there are no Hezbollah targets in Christian areas.

Israel has a long tradition of deliberately targeting civilian populations in order to erode an enemy nation’s morale. It is now engaged in punishing all sectors of the Lebanese population for having joined hands to repel their common enemy.

August 01, 2006


"Arab street rallies behind Hezbollah"

The absurd intensity of Israel's attack on Lebanon was probably due to the fact that the war on Lebanon was meant to be a stepping stone towards the Zionist entity's wider plans in the region. The war was not just about Lebanon. It was meant to pit Lebanese Sunnis against Lebanese Shias, and, by extension, the Sunni nations against the lone Shia nation, that is, Iran, thereby facilitating Israel's planned attack on Iran. To Israel's chagrin, things have not quite worked out that way.


Letter about Lebanon by Sid Ryan, President of CUPE, to Prime Minister Harper

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Room 313S Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

I call on you to immediately denounce the state of Israel with the same voice with which you denounce Hezbollah and Hamas. As president of the largest union in Ontario, representing over 200,000 workers in the public service, I ask that you stop supporting the heinous war crimes that Israel is committing against the people of Lebanon and Gaza.

The intentional bombing of infrastructure and civilian targets – which has already taken the lives of hundreds of men, women and this weekend another 37 young children, is criminal and violates all codes of international conflict and international law.

You have been complacent, and by extension have made the worldview of Canadians complacent, in taking the lives of innocent people and leaving the survivors without the bare necessities of life.

You have turned your back on Canada’s proud history as an honest broker of peace around the world. The proud history and tradition of Canada’s role as an international peacekeeper, begun by the Honourable Lester B. Pearson, has been made a laughing stock in the world.

Your unfettered support for the United States’ soft foreign policy on Israel has violated Canadian tradition and embarrassed many patriotic Canadians. Your “measured response” statement, delivered the day before eight Canadians were killed, has embarrassed many. Your lack of response and criticism to those deaths has embarrassed Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Your blaming of the victims when Israel bombed a UN station is unconscionable. Canada lost a brave peacekeeper, a soldier who was upholding Canada’s marvelous tradition of peacekeeping, your silence in the face of his death is unacceptable – all other countries who lost citizens had the moral values and conviction to condemn Israel for this intentional hit on a peaceful observer station.

Your blind support for George Bush and his policies and your rejection of Canada’s traditional role in the world has left Canadians confused and angry.

You must call for an immediate cease-fire and a stop to the bombings by all parties. I urge you to take a strong leadership role, to reconsider the position you have taken, to be an active force in bringing peace to the Middle East, in saving the lives of hundreds more innocents, and in bringing Canada’s sense of fairness, social justice and peace to this critical situation.


Patrick (Sid) Ryan
President, CUPE Ontario


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