"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Julian Assange speaks

It's always important for the accused to be given the opportunity to speak on the charges against them for reasons that should be self-evident. The case of Julian Assange is of particular importance because he and, by extension, the organization he founded, Wikileaks, is under extraordinary pressure from the world's hyper-power and its many client states around the globe. Unless you've been in a coma over the past few weeks you should by now be aware that Wikileaks has snatched the sheets off of indecent activities that the powerful would prefer to remain concealed. Many talk of the importance of "speaking truth to power" which is absurd on its face when one considers the fact that power already knows the truth and certainly doesn't need to hear it from us. No, power much prefers that the truth and its implications be concealed from us and requires only our obedience. Wikileaks, to its credit, explodes this paradigm and therefore must be destroyed. The mission of Wikileaks is to allow the Great Unwashed access to the unfiltered truth of what their governments and other powerful institutions do behind closed doors and without accountability. One cannot hope to make informed decisions without access to accurate information i.e the truth, a fact well understood by those who seek to dominate the many. Wilileaks has defied the world's most powerful institutions and the people who control them in the face of ferocious reaction under the principle that the public has the right to know what decisions are being made in their name---a responsibility long abdicated by a servile, corporate media.

There are consequences for this kind of courage. As the face of Wikileaks Assange is a natural target so the rape allegations against him in Sweden have come as little surprise [I'd have bet on child-molestation]. The clumsy "investigation" that led to the charges against him have been well documented and discussed elsewhere so I won't further contribute to what I consider to be a distraction [swallowed whole-hog by much of the Left] from the actions of the US government abroad. Below is, to my knowledge, the only sit-down interview Assange has given since his release. Unsurprisingly, no platform has been offered him in the mainstream media outlets who have spared no expense in moving the conversation away from US power.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Let's tighten those screws a bit... there, is that better?

You may be forgiven if you thought recent events would have convinced Israel to loosen its stranglehold on the 1.5 million Gaza prisoners in the interest of propaganda if nothing else. Ignorance is a kind of bliss I guess, however, in this instance that ignorance would rest on the (unfounded) assumption that Israel's decision makers operate rationally. Consider the following (courtesy of Craig Murray):

By Vittorio Arrigoni, Gaza City, Gaza July 4, 2010

Ketchup, mayonnaise, thread and needles are the items that were included last week by Israel on the list of those few goods now allowed into Gaza. Farming tools, spare parts for cars, toys and make-up were added to the list on Tuesday, items we watched being carried into the Strip loaded onto 130 trucks.

Taking into account the decision of the Israeli government to "loosen" the siege of Gaza by allowing the entry of more goods, B'Tselem, the Israeli organisation for human rights commented: "This is a first, tiny step towards the right direction, the direction which'll bring Israeli policy in line with its obligations."

A veritable microscopic step, considering that before the start of the siege, more than ten thousand trucks a month would drive through the Karni pass alone, and even then, these deliveries were miles away from the 500 truckfuls of goods a day (15,000 trucks a month), the minimum decreed by the United Nations to cover the basic needs of one and a half million people.
According to some Palestinian political analysts, this step might even be counterproductive, because it proposes to attempt to legitimise the siege. This is a siege that is a form of collective punishment against a civilian population. As such, it violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is considered illegal by all major human rights organisations, whether governmental or otherwise, as Amnesty International and the International Red Cross have recently decreed.

Cement, iron and any other building material continues to be banned from the Strip, so much so that according to the UN, one year after the Cast Lead bombings, 75% of the damaged buildings still gape open among the rubble.
According to Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UNRWA (UN Agency for Palestinian refugees), Israel's new policy is an attempt to throw smoke into the eyes of the international community and hide its blatant violation of international law: "The Israeli strategy is that of getting the world to talk about a random bag of cement being let in on one side, and a sponsored project on another. What we really need is complete and free access through all the passes."

All eyes are now turned towards the mirage of the opened Israeli passes. Yet, forgetting to take note of the Egyptian border is a mistake. Rafah continues to remain semi-open, or better still…semi-closed. The Egyptian border authorities refuse to let any type of goods through, including tons of food supplies and medicine collected during the last weeks by the union of Cairo chemists. The bullies of the infamous Egyptian Mubarak, renowned for their rough treatment of Palestinian civilians, including women, children and sick people, have sent back hundreds of travellers with regular passports and visas over the past few weeks.

For internationals in Egypt who plan to come and report on what they see, or support the population of Gaza in any way, entering "the Rafah Pass" remains forbidding. John, a freelance journalist who accompanied us from the International Solidarity Movement to report on the daily harrassment that the farmers face from Israeli snipers at the border, eventually came in through the tunnels when he had grown tired of waiting for a pass that never came at Al Arish.

Italian state television is trying to put through the message that the siege has been loosened as an act of generosity on the part of the Israeli government, but the reality is indeed very different. The siege itself needs to be totally lifted, because the people here certainly don't need potato chips or toothpicks. They need cement, iron, medicine, medical supplies and all the essentials coming in the way they would normally come in…through import and export. Only that means will help boost the economy and make Gaza self-sufficient, besides opening the borders to make it possible for anyone to come into or leave this prison.
All that we have before our eyes these days is the artificial image of a tragic situation, made up to seem like an improvement after the cosmetic surgery of Israeli and Egyptian propaganda. Amid these far-reaching echoes of propaganda, Tony Blair's congratulations to Israel for the alleged "loosening" of its blockade comes across as a strident contradition. Behind the smile of Blair, one the of puppet masters of the Quartet (USA, EU, Russia and UN) who for years has produced nothing but useless press releases, is all the rot of the stone caryatids jointly holding up the current Iraqi genocide, as well as the political laxity of European governments in the face of the Palestinian tragedy.

I'm keen to remind Tony Blair that if two extra bags of flour enter the besieged Strip, it certainly isn't thanks to his work within the castrated quartet, or any other institution in charge of resolving the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It's actually thanks to the sacrifices over many years of thousands of ordinary civilians throughout the world committed to the rights of Palestinians. It's an effort that has culminated in the murder of nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, much the same way as before them, Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie gave their lives for the good of Gaza.

On the eve of the second Gulf war, the New York Times coined the phrase "second world power", to define the global pacifist movement that filled thousands of squares around the world. These civilians were protesting against a war "that never before in history had been met with as much blatant hostility." Well, that second world power has now joined us on the field and is siding with the Palestinians: it is now Israel that's under siege.

Stay human.

Vittorio Arrigoni from Gaza city
(translated by Daniela Filippin)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mr. Phillips, a few words if you don't mind...

That's when [Fry Pan Jack] told me - you know, he'd been tramping since 1927 -
he said, "I told myself in '27, if I cannot dictate the conditions of my labor,
I will henceforth cease to work." Hah! You don't have to go to college to
figure these things out, no sir! He said, "I learned when I was young that the
only true life I had was the life of my brain. But if it's true the only real
life I have is the life of my brain, what sense does it make to hand that brain
to somebody for eight hours a day for their particular use on the presumption
that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition?"
Fat chance!

He was old enough to remember the sleigh rods under the boxcars, riding the
rods. Fry Pan Jack; the two bums.

the bum on the rods is hunted down as an enemy of mankind
the other is driven around to his club, is fatted, wined, and dined

and they who curse the bum on the rods as the essence of all that's bad
will greet the other with a winning smile and extend the hand so glad

the bum on the rods is a social flea who gets an occasional bite
the bum on the plush is a social leech, bloodsucking day and night

the bum on the rods is a load so light that his weight we scarcely feel
but it takes the labor of dozens of folks to furnish the other a meal

as long as we sanction the bum on the plush, the other will always be there
but rid ourselves of the bum on the plush, and the other will disappear

and make an intelligent, organized kick: get rid of the wasted crush
don't worry about the bum on the rods - get rid of the bum on the plush
-Utah Phillips (collected stories, songs, & poems)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You know some of my best friends are...

How odd. Try as I might I couldn't find a single word in the New York Times today about the 100,000 ultra orthodox Jews who marched in Jerusalem in support of segregation. I'm sure it was just an oversight... front page tomorrow you'll see.

(Hat tip: War in Context)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Below is the damning footage that got away as far as the Israelis are concerned for they were no doubt secure in the belief that they had confiscated and destroyed all the embarrassing footage of their Pirates of the Mediterranean escapade. This footage is courtesy of Cultures of Resistance.org (hit tip: War in Context)

Monday, May 31, 2010

It couldn't be helped you see, they attacked us with sticks

Yes. The Israeli Apartheid State is that venal, not to mention criminally inept:

What's that? You say you object to a commando raid--in international waters--upon a civilian mission to relieve some of the suffering of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants currently under a criminal embargo? Well that will get you this:


and ultimately this,

The young woman in the above images is 21 year old American activist and artist Emily Henochowicz who was protesting the commando assault on relief efforts along with many others at the Qalandiya checkpoint which separates the West Bank from the Usurping Entity. Emily will lose her left eye.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

US income inequality in all its graphic glory

When all of one's fears come to pass

As we watch the Goldman Sachs con men twist and shout before a suddenly agitated Senate banking committee shocked, shocked! to hear that there's rampant fraud on Wall Street I think it's instructive to revisit a bygone era when similar forces were arrayed against the interests of the general population yet the warnings went unheeded. Courtesy of Jessie's Cafe Americain:

It is one of the serious evils of our present system of banking that it enables one class of society, and that by no means a numerous one, by its control over the currency to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others and to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in political affairs. The agricultural, the mechanical, and the laboring classes have little or no share in the direction of the great moneyed corporations; and from their habits and the nature of their pursuits, they are incapable of forming extensive combinations to act together with united force. Such concert of action may sometimes be produced in a single city or in a small district of country by means of personal communications with each other; but they have no regular or active correspondence with those who are engaged in similar pursuits in distant places. They have but little patronage to give the press and exercise but a small share of influence over it; they have no crowd of dependents about them who hope to grow rich without labor by their countenance and favor and who are, therefore, always ready to exercise their wishes.
-Andrew Jackson farewell address
The rest...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twain Revisited

I was rummaging through the archives of the Socialist Worker website when I ran across this gem from the great satirist:

Oh Lord, our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded...help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the waste of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst. -Mark Twain The War Prayer

Isn't it funny how we never had the opportunity to explore this aspect of him in school? The rest...

Friday, April 09, 2010

So... what'd I miss?

As I slowly ease back into this blogging thing I think it's important that I share with you this little nugget from the incomparable Wikileaks organization. Yes children, it's good to see that Uncle Sam is still winning precious hearts and minds over in Iraq one at a time...