Same same in the “greatest” democracy


What kind of democracy is it when you can only vote for
2 parties. And they are alike!? Well, foks, that´s the
american democracy!

: a

How Capitalism Makes Socialism Save It + Wall Street’s Greed Game(brillant!)


No comment to the fact that it´s american greed and
“way of life” that is sinking the hoax of american
brillance!

Its a blockbuster comedy!

: aa

Let It Collapse!

So the tax-payer hand-out will “save” Wall Street from its own predations. Any reasonable man, of course, would wish the pig-fuckers to fry in their own feces. Let the free market carry out their corpses to the gutter. And mine too, perhaps, for as a magazine writer I depend on the thoughtlessness and blind-mole cupidity of credit-card consumerism – the credit system now imploding – to feed the ad-market that feeds the magazines that pay my bills. Without dumb blondes buying Manohlo Blahniks and metrosexuals fawning over prawns in overpriced restaurants, my paycheck turns to dust.

But the fact is that our economic system is a lunatic and suicidal system, and it deserves to go down.
Why lunatic and suicidal? It is predicated on the delusion, accepted on every level in every modern society, that unlimited Mahnolo Blahniks are possible on a planet of limited resources. Growth without horizon is simply not possible, but the delusion remains in force, a mass glue-huff and consensus trance hallucination. Endless growth on planet earth is by definition entropic; it implies its own end. Its pursuit is therefore suicidal.

What might replace the current insane system I couldn’t venture to say. Certainly, a lot of people will be hurt if we go down the rat-hole that appears our proper and fitting end. If events trend badly enough, a period of contraction, unemployment, economic depression, homelessness, tent cities, rising crime, boarded up storefronts, abandoned homes will be upon us faster than imaginable – the last five developments are already in our midst in the post-subprime wastelands of suburbia. Perhaps the crisis will bring about the devolution of the American living standard to something like sustainability. Perhaps it will only bring out a lot of pissed-off middle-classers who refuse to accept that the American way of life is sick and crazy and has no future. That kind of infantile resentment historically either leads to reform or fascism.

Gerald Celente, a self-described “trends forecaster” who last year predicted the “Economic 9/11” that hit this week, dropped me an e-mail the other day: “THE PANIC IS ON,” he wrote. “Depression to follow…” Celente, who has famously tended to be right, augurs that the big Wall Street failures will extend far beyond the financial sector. “In the coming weeks, months and years,” writes Celente, “we’ll see a steady stream of banks, giant retailers, consumer product companies, manufacturers, leveraged buyout firms and home builders going under. The next economic shoe to drop,” he avers, “will be in the commercial real estate sector.”

Bring it on. I envision a trickle-down benefit here in Brooklyn, which when I was growing up in the 1980s served fine as a natal ground defined by burglaries, homelessness, murder, empty streets, and the pervasive sense that bad things could happen at any time, which tends to raise consciousness to a fever range, the kind of sharp-sword animal consciousness where the coyote and the rat operate. Empty streets, spartan and lean and dark – that’s what I most remember about old Brooklyn. The place had the feeling of desert. It was replete with open spaces. The “maggot called man,” in Nietzche’s memorable phrase, was not swarming in the foreground.

There was very little that was considered upscale – meaning you could afford the restaurants and bars, what few there were, without making $100,000 a year in the salary prisons of corporate Manhattan. When I was 19, in 1992, I rented an apartment in a neighborhood of old brownstones then known as Park Slope – hallucinating realtors in the New York land rush of the last 20 years have since divided the streets into a Babel of sub-markets. I paid $400 a month for two rooms and a bathroom that leaked shit-water and a fridge that shut off periodically to fill with cockroaches (they ate ham while I slept!). My girlfriend at the time, Carole-Anne, with whom I’d later have a daughter, had just gotten off a plane from Paris. One day I came home to find her crying. “A man – no head! La tete, la tete,” she said. She was hysterical. A man had been shotgunned around the corner and Carole-Anne had walked onto the crime scene minutes after the shoot-out, before the cops could sanitize. That was Brooklyn. And it was okay – well, not okay, but it was part of the facts of life in a city that warded off those who weren’t trained in that high keening consciousness to accept it. One night we borrowed my father’s Honda and took a midnight drive into a cliffy forested park at the northern tip of Manhattan, and a car came up behind us in the lightless road and tried to cut us off. A car-jacking. The men in the car screaming out the window, waving guns. Carole-Anne hysterical (poor girl, from the suburbs of Paris!). High-speed chase along the winding roads. The cars screeching. We escaped down a wrong-way road at 70 miles an hour – god save us we didn’t smash into someone coming the other way – and when we were home in Brooklyn, we were alive. Alive and overjoyed and it was a beautiful moment. That was New York.

This is all romanticized drivel, of course, and to be car-jacked or see a man shotgunned is not to be interpreted as normal or fun or desirable. But at least it was affordable. You didn’t have to work 60 hours a week to watch the cockroaches eat your dinner inside the fridge. You worked enough to pay the rent, and no more (I was a bike messenger, she worked as a secretary at a real estate office that I’m convinced was also trafficking narcotics). I think of the accounts I’ve read of primitive societies, in the sea-girt islands, say, of Micronesia, where perhaps three or four hours a day are lost to the work required for daily survival. The balance of waking is dedicated to nothing at all that could be construed as productive, which means it was for playing with the kids, it was for sex, for sleep, for lazing and going back to sleep. A little work, mostly play makes Jack a happy boy.

Today the same shit-house Carole-Anne and I lived in costs $1900 a month, and it probably still has a cockroach problem, but this is considered “character,” and the main avenues all around are swallowed in the caterwauling of commerce by which the newly-ripped-off resident is bombarded with the temptations of more junk than is affordable or desirable. Whereas on 5th Avenue in Park Slope in 1992 I used to be able to find a hooker and cocaine and run away from a fist-fight and learn Puerto Rican Spanish doing it, whereas I used to be able to find nothing at all on the street, no people, no rushing, nothing to buy or sell, just about every storefront today is taken over by the glad-handing smiley-face of the idiot consumer economy gone to its nth-degree madness. There is growth on all sides, it saturates, it feels like hysteria, and like hysteria it will end in collapse. There are too many amenities, there is too much foolery and surfeit disguised as worthiness and bottom-line necessity. The restaurants where crappy food, the same crappy food you might have gotten for a twentieth of the price ten years ago, is proferred as if it’s Jesus’ bread broken in your mouth – as with religious ritual, the profligate consumption bar/restaurant scene is as ritualized and hyperbolic as a funeral. Money is the password to all social relations. Bubble-economics on all sides: How many of the new jobs offered to the newly-rich in Brooklyn are based on anything more than the usual hallucinated sectors of finance, banking, media, fashion? Fashion, that New York engine of silliness, has for its purpose the slathering of rich people in expensive uselessness made by slave-wagers overseas – it is the industry of children playing at dress up. Once upon a time New Yorkers made their own clothing – right there in Manhattan, in the garment districts, where the art galleries of Soho now peddle emptiness on canvas. But emptiness is today our butter: entertainment, the “news cycle,” the so-called “arts,” the ever-increasing pestilence of a media that informs not at all. Are there any jobs in New York City that actually produce something other than a fart in the wind on a website or in the windows of mannequins at Saks Fifth Avenue or in the ledgers of bankers and brokers, the parasitic middlemen?

Which brings me back to the collapsing markets, the product of fart-in-the-wind economics. I can foresee on 5th Avenue in Park Slope a beautiful resurgence of shuttered shops, rotted storefronts, the end of money’s welcome in its hypocrite hug, the end of surfeit, a return to normalcy. No more strawberries in January at the store on the corner – the strawberries were never meant to be eaten in winter anyway. Perhaps we might even see a return to the city of people who manufacture something other than air. I will be driven out first – because this screed is all air! So be it!

Ref: Counterpunch
Christopher Ketcham writes for Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s, and many other magazines. You can contact him at cketcham99@mindspring.com

Jerusalem is now

The US and Israel think they can impose on Palestinian negotiators a distorted peace that effaces all Palestinian rights. They cannot, writes Mustafa Al-Barghouti*

One doesn’t need to be an expert in the so-called “peace process” to know that Israel’s aim for the past 40 years has been to deny the Palestinians their rights. Having failed to break the backbone of the Palestinians and end their resolve to resist, Israel resorted to delay tactics. When not postponing urgent issues, it tried to empty from them all meaning. Thus the idea of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state was diluted into that of creating a self-rule entity, shorn of any real authority, over fragmented patches of land.

This is what the Oslo process managed to produce over the past 15 years or so. The number of settlers in the occupied territories has doubled. A wall of racial segregation has been erected. The West Bank has been cut off from Gaza. And Jerusalem is now surrounded on all sides and stranded, with little or no connection to other Palestinian areas. When negotiations resumed, Israel tried to impart legitimacy on its major settlements, refusing to discuss the matter of the refugees and insisting on postponing any decision on Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Israelis tirelessly tried to change the face of Jerusalem, building settlements inside and around it, altering and Judaising it by the day.

Israel is now suggesting a Palestinian state with “interim borders”. In return, it wants the Palestinians to give up, effective immediately, the right of return of the refugees. Israel also wants the Palestinians to cede claims to large swathes of their land — land that has been gulped up by settlements, land surrounding the Dead Sea, land in the Latrun villages (Imwas, Yalu, and Beit Nuba), etc. Israel is not in a mood to discuss Jerusalem right now. But it is in a good mind to build more settlements inside and around it.

Israel may be changing its rhetoric, but not its tactics. Instead of opposing a Palestinian state, it is willing to accept a state that has no sovereignty to mention. Instead of keeping every single settlement it has created on Palestinian land, it is willing to pull out 3,000 settlers, leaving 450,000 in place.

Everything Olmert and Barak have said so far suggests that they want to transform Jerusalem beyond recognition. The Jerusalem we all know is not the one they have in mind. The Jerusalem of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, Salwan, Al-Issawia, and other parts of the old town, is about to look very much like the neighbourhoods that have sprouted all around it: Izariya, Abu Dies and perhaps Beit Hanina.

Every time Palestinian negotiators give an inch, Israel takes a mile; the Oslo Accords are but a case in point. It is fine to negotiate, but not when negotiations undermine the very basis of international resolutions and norms. UN resolutions — backed by rulings from the International Court of Justice — state that all the land Israel grabbed since the morning of 5 June 1967 are occupied territories. This goes for the old city of Jerusalem and its surroundings, the West Bank, Gaza, the Latrun villages, the Golan, and even the Shebaa Farms.

Egypt insisted on taking back every inch of Sinai, just as Syria is holding out for every inch of the Golan. The Palestinians cannot accept less. We must insist on Israel’s withdrawal from all the occupied land, instead of being talked into a risky land exchange. It is bad enough that Israel took in 1948 half of the land the 1947 UN partition plan gave to the Palestinians. We don’t need to make things worse.

And what exactly is going on in negotiations? It’s all kept under a tight lid, except for the randomly leaked piece of info suggesting that the issue of Jerusalem would be postponed, yet again. The Palestinian people are left in the dark about what’s really going on. Given the bitter experience of Oslo, when a done deal was hatched behind the back of official negotiators, this doesn’t augur well.

Everyone knows that giving up Arab Jerusalem, or any part of it, is not an option acceptable to the Palestinian people. Also, any interim solutions, especially those postponing discussion of Jerusalem, are highly risky if not an outright sign of capitulation.

The last thing we need is another deal that undermines our rights and weakens our people. Those negotiating on behalf of the Palestinians bear a huge responsibility in this moment. Anything they do can have long-term consequences for us all.

Ref: Al-Ahram
* The writer is secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Failure of Oslo Led to the Rise of Hamas

The Oslo negotiations, which were conducted secretly in Norway in parallel to the official negotiations in Washington, led to the first ever agreement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Yet Oslo cannot be analyzed as an agreement but rather must be seen as a process that includes five agreements, their implementation and the complex relations and new realities created.

At the time, the majority of Palestinians perceived the Declaration of Principles (DOP), which was signed in Washington in 1993, positively. This was first and foremost because it involved recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and promised the return of the PLO leadership to the occupied Palestinian territories to establish the first Palestinian authority.

Second, the DOP was perceived by the Palestinian as a transitional stage toward ending the occupation. It stipulated three phases of Israeli army redeployment from all occupied territory except Jerusalem and the settlements, which were to be negotiated together with the refugee issue after three years. Palestinians also saw the fact that Israel recognized Jerusalem and refugees as negotiable issues as an achievement.

But the overwhelming public support for Oslo and the Palestinian leadership that negotiated and signed the agreement did not last long. Soon public opinion polls and other indicators began to show a downward curve in the enthusiasm for both. There were many obvious reasons.

A process that was supposed to be about ending the occupation could not even hide the signs showing that, on the contrary, the occupation was being consolidated. The Israeli insistence on continuing to confiscate Palestinian land and expanding illegal Jewish settlements, under both Labor and Likud-led governments, doubling the number of settlers in the occupied territories, left the Palestinian public and leadership with strong and growing doubts about Oslo.

Meanwhile, the failure of the process to curb the practices of the occupation came in parallel to a poor record of governance by the Palestinian Authority. And along with its poor governance, the way Oslo left the Palestinian leadership economically, administratively and structurally dependent on Israel had a huge effect on domestic politics. These two factors had a particularly negative impact on the support for those who were responsible for the process.

This provided an opportunity that was grasped by the main opposition group, Hamas, who intensified its military attacks against Israelis and its political attacks against the Palestinian leadership. The final outcome was a terminal decline in support for the Oslo process and the leadership behind it. This ultimately led to the radicalization of the public and a shift in the balance of power that culminated in the victory of Hamas in the 2006 elections.

It is true that in the course of the implementation of the Oslo agreement, Israel managed to have its cake and eat it at the same time: it reaped the dividends of peace–improving its international image, normalizing relations with the region to some extent and improve its security–while not rolling back its occupation. It might also be true that Israel managed to co-opt the Palestinian leadership and make it completely dependent on Israel. But this Israeli strategy has backfired since it has only led to the empowerment of Hamas and the discrediting of any moderate Palestinian leadership.

Ref: Palestine Chronicle

-Ghassan Khatib is coeditor of the bitterlemons family of internet publications. He is vice-president of Birzeit University and a former Palestinian Authority minister of planning. He holds a PhD in Middle East politics from the University of Durham. (Originally published in Bitterlemons – http://www.bitterlemons.org – September 15, 2008)

Marathon for Children: Running for the Right to Play

I was ecstatic as I read an email sent by a manager at a Canadian toy company. The company donates a large number of toys each year to inner city kids throughout North America, using various NGOs. A few years ago, they decided to ship several thousand toys to Palestinian children. They asked for my help.

The feeling of joy that I felt that day was unparalleled. Rarely do I experience in my job as a writer, whose main focus is war and conflict, this overpowering sense of elation. I had to tell someone that 11,000 toys would be shipped to Palestinian refugee camps before the Muslim holiday. This will certainly be a memorable Eid for so many children denied the simple pleasure of holding a teddy bear, or watching a toy police car running in circles with blazing sirens. My friend, Mohammed, a reporter from Egypt, however, was not very impressed.

“Toys?” he asked with an irritated tone. “What Palestinian children need is weapons, to defend themselves,” he exultantly explained, as various colleagues nodded their head with agreement.

His statement mixed truth with bizarre logic. True, Palestinian children needed to be protected, but to expect a child to further abandon his childhood and to carry a weapon was most cruel, insensitive.

I revisited the subject with my friend an hour later, this time armed with all sorts of print outs. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child,” I lectured, asserted that “every child has the inherent right to life…survival and development,” that “children must be protected from ‘injury or abuse, that “a child who is seeking refugee status or who is…a refugee … [shall] receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.” He seemed equally unimpressed. Later that evening I found my friend with a shopping cart, loaded with toys, candies, and all the rest, as he and his entire family were cheerfully finishing their shopping for the Muslim holiday. His children were eagerly pointing at every dazzling toy they find, and he, happily obliged.

I still wonder if he had ever figured out the irony in denying Palestinian children toys for the holiday and hauling, on the very same day, every toy his kids requested?

This episode took place several years ago, but I am still as resentful as ever, resentful of the notion that Palestinians, mostly in refugee camps, are entrusted with the daunting task of withstanding the awesome military might of Israel, entirely alone. While some Arab media are tirelessly singing the praise of heroic Palestinians, the governments of these same countries are ensuring that the siege of Gaza is complete, that the ‘punishment’ of Palestinians is perfected, that starvation, misery and despair continue to prevail. This decade-long hypocrisy is symptomatic, and is inherit in the relationship between many Arab states and Palestinians: the ‘guardians’ of the Holy Land, those who resist, suffer and often die alone.

But even a child, in a most atrocious war zone is still a child. No matter how much fear and grief prevail in her life, she still longs for a toy monkey that flips around on the push of a button.

In fact, that was one of very a few toys that I have ever received growing up as a child in Gaza. The bond that grew between me and the flipping monkey was legendary. I often checked on him, tucked neatly into a drawer in my mom’s closet following every Israeli raid, before I left for school and when I came back. It gave me a sense of comfort amid a dreadful and terrifying life.

In Gaza, parents hardly worry themselves with such minor subjects as buying toys. When flour and sugar are missing, rubber ducks and water guns can wait. For children however, even those who survive the most appalling violence, or even those who sustain an injury or a lifetime disability, only a teddy bear can bring a smile, only a toy monkey can somehow restore the sense of loss.

Palestinian children deserve to enjoy the edicts of UN conventions. Palestinian children don’t need rhetoric nor wish to be designated as anyone’s ‘guardians’ and ‘heroes’; they need safety, security, protection and a promise for a better future.

When Playgrounds for Palestine – was first founded by activist and writer, Susan Abulhawa, I remember thinking: this is the most thoughtful idea I have heard in a long, long time. When Abulhawa led a group of activists to the refugee camp of Jenin in 2002 and organized play workshops for the devastated camp’s children, the organization and its founder grew in my eyes immeasurably. It’s easy to theorize endlessly about the ‘violent tendencies’ of Palestinian children, and sermonize incessantly of the need to send weapons to children, already battered by war and violence. But, thankfully, there are those with the passion to understand that what Palestinian children need the most is their freedom, their milk, their school uniforms and supplies, their innocence, their giggles as they go down the slide of a jungle gym.

On November 23, Susan Abulhawa and I, joined by a few others, will be running the Philadelphia Marathon. Our goal is to raise 12,000 dollars to build a playground for Palestinian children. The organization has already erected several playgrounds throughout the Occupied Territories (it’s also building three playgrounds in Lebanon’s refugee camps and sending 152 soccer balls) that has served thousands of children. But more is needed, and we need your help.

Please visit this link and contribute. You can also join us, or run your own race to raise awareness and funds for Palestinian children and Playgrounds for Palestine. Palestinian children deserve more than words of sympathy. They deserve their childhood back.

Thank you for your help.

Ref: Palestine Chronical

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

Dichter: Jewish terrorists tried to murder Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell

Israel Prize winner Zeev Sternhell was lightly injured Wednesday when a pipe bomb exploded outside his home in Jerusalem, in what police suspect could be a new campaign by right-wing extremists to target prominent left-wingers.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter called the incident “a nationalist terror attack apparently perpetrated by Jews” and said the police would not rest until “those terrorists” were behind bars.

“We should see the explosive as aimed at killing,” Dichter said, adding that the attack “takes us back to the days of [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination.”
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Professor Sternhell walked out of his home in a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood shortly after midnight to shut a courtyard gate when the bomb went off, lightly wounding him in one leg, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

Outside Sternhell’s home and in nearby streets Wednesday, the police found fliers offering NIS 1.1 million to anyone who killed members of left-wing human rights movement Peace Now. This led to the suspicion that Jewish terrorists were behind the pipe-bomb attack, due to Sternhell’s harsh criticism of West Bank settlers and their harassment of Palestinians.

The police stressed that the bomb was not meant to intimidate but was a murder attempt.

After the attack on the professor, the police have beefed up security around the home of Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer.

“If this was not an act committed by a deranged person but by someone who represents a political view, then it is the beginning of the disintegration of democracy,” Sternhell said Wednesday from his hospital bed in the capital’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center.

He said that “the incident illustrates the fragility of Israeli democracy, and the urgent need to defend it.”

“On the personal level, if the intent was to terrorize, it has to be very clear that I am not easily intimidated,” he said. “But the perpetrators tried to hurt not only me, but each and every one of my family members who could have opened the door, and for that there is no absolution and no forgiveness.”

Sternhell, an internationally renowned expert on the history of fascism, was awarded the country’s highest honor, the Israel Prize, earlier this year. The award drew fire from West Bank settlers and their supporters, who unsuccessfully petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to block it.

Kadima leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni condemned Wednesday’s attack, saying that the incident was “intolerable, and cannot be glossed over.”

At a ceremony marking the Rosh Hashanah holiday at the Foreign Ministry, Livni said that “Israel is a lawful state and is populated by a society with values. It is the responsibility of the government and Israeli society to renounce such phenomena as soon as they rear their heads.”

Senior political figures also expressed outrage at the news of the attack on Sternhell, which has touched a nerve given the country’s history of political violence, they said.

“We are returning to the dark era of pipe bombs aimed at people, in this case against a very gifted person who never hesitates to express his opinion,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

According to the chairman of the Knesset’s internal affairs committee, Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz: “The attack on Prof. Sternhell is a cowardly, terrorist act by those with no sense of justice.” He urged the police and Shin Bet security service to strive to capture the perpetrators quickly and ensure that they receive hefty prison sentences.

“They’d better not talk to us about a few wild weeds,” Meretz chairman Haim Oron said. “These people appear on the right wing.”

“This thuggish and dangerous act is the result of the continuing see-no-evil approach toward the vicious violence against soldiers and police officers and anyone else who doesn’t agree with the brutish section of the extreme right wing,” Oron added.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an activist with a fringe settler group calling itself the National Jewish Front, said Sternhell was an irrelevant figure and that he did not believe settlers were behind the attack. “I don’t denounce this incident, but say categorically that we are not involved,” Ben-Gvir said.

Sternhell had recently received threatening phone calls, but the bomb attack on him took the Shin Bet and police by surprise. They had no intelligence of a terror group targeting left-wing activists.

A special police team started taking statements from neighbors of the Sternhell family. The police believe the perpetrators stayed in a house nearby in the past few weeks, studying Sternhell’s movements, and that passersby and neighbors must have seen them.

“There are hundreds of peace activists in Jerusalem. We have no sign of any intention to harm anyone specific and cannot protect so many people without more specific information,” a police source said.

Ref: Haartez

Also read – Leftist professor: Bombing of my home signals end of Israeli democracy