ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for May 9th, 2011

Hitchen’s Last Days.

leave a comment »

I’ve never been a fan of Peter or Christopher Hitchens, but in the latter’s case you have to acknowledge he can write.

By chance I came across this piece where he discusses losing his voice to cancer, and I would suspect he’s not long for this world:

“Like so many of life’s varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don’t so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.

On a much-too-regular basis, the disease serves me up with a teasing special of the day, or a flavor of the month. It might be random sores and ulcers, on the tongue or in the mouth. Or why not a touch of peripheral neuropathy, involving numb and chilly feet? Daily existence becomes a babyish thing, measured out not in Prufrock’s coffee spoons but in tiny doses of nourishment, accompanied by heartening noises from onlookers, or solemn discussions of the operations of the digestive system, conducted with motherly strangers. On the less good days, I feel like that wooden-legged piglet belonging to a sadistically sentimental family that could bear to eat him only a chunk at a time. Except that cancer isn’t so … considerate. “

Written by modernityblog

09/05/2011 at 22:29

10% And Birthers.

with 3 comments

Mother Jones suggests that:

“According to a recent Washington Post poll, just 10 percent of Americans now strongly suspect that the President was not born in the United States; the number of true believers is even smaller.”

Ship Sinks, Why No News?

leave a comment »

At the moment, events in Libya are followed with great scrutiny, yet scraps of information are coming in to suggest that a boat carrying 600 people may have sunk on Friday

Perplexingly, it is not too clear if that is the case. The ship left port on Friday and witnesses in another ship say they saw debris etc:

“A boat carrying more than 600 migrants capsized off the coast of Libya Friday and many of the passengers are believed to have drowned, the United Nations said Monday, marking what may be the deadliest chapter yet in an escalating immigration crisis unleashed by the conflict in the North African country.

Migrants arriving in Lampedusa over the weekend told staff of the United Nations’ refugee agency that they witnessed a boat brimming with hundreds of migrants—who were predominantly Congolese, Eritrean, Nigerian, Ivory Coast and Somali nationals—sink near the port of Tripoli, said Laura Boldrini, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A spokesman for the Libyan government in Tripoli declined to comment on the matter.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said it was unclear how many people survived the shipwreck, but that some of the people aboard the capsized boat managed to swim ashore. He added that migrants have often drowned in similar incidents, because they don’t know how to swim. One woman who swam ashore told IOM staff that her baby drowned in the shipwreck. Mr. Chauzy said that once ashore, she and other migrants were “herded” by armed men onto another boat that eventually reached the tiny island of Lampedusa. “

It is bewildering. How could you lose a ship full of 600 people between the Libyan coast and Italy, and not know?

How can 600 people be thrown in the sea and it doesn’t get reported (or hardly) in the Western media?

Or is it simply a case of “No WASPs, Europeans or Westerners involved, move along, no story”.

Surely, a record of the ship leaving must have been kept, its Captain, its destination and when it didn’t arrive, why weren’t questions asked promptly?

Update 1: There are a few stories coming out, now, on Twitter, 3 days later:

My Fox Houston has a piece.

NPR too, but overall too little and far too late.

Western Interests And Bahrain.

leave a comment »

Outside of Government circles or some parts of the media it is fairly clear that the West has moderated and muted criticism of the repression going on in Bahrain, Reuters has a good piece on it:

“(Reuters) – The fate of Bahrain’s protest movement is a stark reminder of how Western and regional power politics can trump reformist yearnings, even in an Arab world convulsed by popular uprisings against entrenched autocrats.
Bahrain is not Libya or Syria, but Western tolerance of the Sunni monarchy’s crackdown suggests that interests such as the U.S. naval base in Manama, ties to oil giant Saudi Arabia and the need to contain neighboring Iran outweigh any sympathy with pro-democracy demonstrators mostly from the Shi’ite majority.

“The response from the West has been very timid and it shows the double standards in its foreign policy compared to Libya,” said Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

“Saudi influence is so huge on Bahrain now and the West has not stood up to it, which has disappointed many. They’re losing the hearts and minds of the democrats in Bahrain.”

Iran has hardly been consistent either, fiercely criticizing Bahrain’s treatment of its Shi’ites, and praising Arab revolts elsewhere as “Islamic awakenings” — except the uprising in its lone Arab ally Syria, which it blames on a U.S.-Israeli plot.

Bahrain’s king said on Sunday a state of emergency, imposed in March after Saudi-led troops arrived to help crush protests, would be lifted on June 1, two weeks before it expires.

That would be two days before a deadline set by Formula One organizers for Bahrain to decide whether to reschedule a Grand Prix it was to have hosted on March 13. The motor race was postponed because of the unrest then shaking the Gulf island.

Bahrain is eager to prove that stability has returned after the upheaval in which at least 29 people, all but six of them Shi’ites, have been killed since protests erupted in February.

VERBAL SLAPS

Apart from verbal slaps on the wrist, the United States and its allies have stood by as Bahrain, egged on by Saudi Arabia, has pursued a punitive campaign that appears to target Shi’ites in general, not just the advocates of more political freedoms, a constitutional monarchy and an end to sectarian discrimination. ” [my emphasis.]

More Racism.

with 6 comments

Any thinking individual following the conflict in the Middle East could see how the cause of the Palestinians might been used by the Extreme Right.

Put simply, the Extreme Right hate Jews, anything that they consider bad for Jews, makes the Extreme Right very happy.

The truth is, we often underestimate the Extreme Right, and in achieving their political goals they will push ambiguous web sites, use outreach programs and tone down the worst excesses of their racism to reach a wider audience. Surprisingly, they are often successful.

One example is the No War for Israel web site. I covered it in 2007, and readers will remember it is run by David Duke.

Another example is the blog, Occupied Palestine, which was recently drawn to my attention by an “Anti-Zionist”.

Before anything else, I should say I think it’s perfectly possible to be critical of Israeli government policies in the past 60 years, without invoking racism. I have posted on this before, as have the CST. But the Palestinians’ cause is certainly not helped in anyway when it is connected to racism by its Western supporters.

It should be possible to argue the Palestinians’ case without the smell of anti-Jewish racism polluting the air, however, that doesn’t occur on the Occupied Palestine blog, as readers will notice.

Years ago, I wrote a simple guide around this topic, For UCU Activists – How To Avoid Re-posting from Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan or White Power Web Sites.

That guide applies equally to supposed pro-Palestinian activists and “anti-Zionists”, so let us examine the conspicuous racism found on the Occupied Palestine blog, it is not hard to see.

1. The first port of call is the blog’s links:

Albert Einstein letter to the Stern Gang
Chief Rabbi issues ruling legalizes killing Arabs
Government quitely funds KKK-like organization
How to kill Goyim
IOA Rabbis: ‘Palestinians to the Ovens!’
Jew Watch
Map of “Greater Israel” Published by Radical Settler Movement
Protocols of Zion Explained
Real Torah Jews against Zionism
Settler Violence Not Punished [incl data sheet]
The difference between Real Judaism and Zionist
What The Media Forgets About Israel
Ziogeist
Zionism vs Judaism
Zionism: Real Jew reveals the Truth
Zionist Crimes Against Christianity
Zionists won’t let U see this on TV!

2. The How to kill Goyim should send alarm bells to any thinking people, it is the type of propaganda found on neo-Nazi web sites. Occupied Palestine blog links

3. The real warning is the inclusion of Jew Watch.

Jew Watch is seemingly hosted by the notorious Don Black:

“Black hosts a site named Blitzcast, which Stormfront and White Pride World Wide recommend for those seeking online, racist audio “broadcasts.” Using free audio software easily downloadable from the Web, visitors to Blitzcast can listen to the speeches of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, the weekly radio addresses of National Alliance leader William Pierce, and the ravings of anti-Semitic Jew Benjamin Freedman. Also appearing at Blitzcast is Frank Weltner, who uses the pseudonym “Von Goldstein Mohammed” and runs Jew Watch, yet another site hosted by Black.12

Jew Watch organizes its anti-Semitic materials much in the same way a popular Web directory might group more benign information. Weltner presents accusations that Jews were behind the terrors caused by Russia’s Communist regime in “Jews, Communism, and The Job of Killing Off the USSR’s Christians.” “Jewish Genocides Today and Yesterday” describes an alleged Jewish plan to deport non-Jews from the U.S. in 1946. “90% of All United States News-papers Are Owned and Run by Jews” repeats the oft-heard charge that Jews run the media, and “The Rothschild Internationalist-Zionist- Banking-One World Order Family” claims that Jews control the world of finance. Adolf Hitler’s writings, transcripts of Father Charles Coughlin’s anti-Semitic radio broadcasts, and the text of Henry Ford Sr.’s bigoted International Jew are all available at Jew Watch as well.”

There is nothing subtle about them, as you see from the Star of David above a hammer and sickle.
Link on Occupied Palestine

4. If readers are still not convinced then they can read about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as highlighted in the Occupied Palestine blog’s links, which goes on to the YouTube account of Beyond the Grassy Knoll, full of conspiratorial material and racist clips against Jews. Further, it is supported by the Radical Press, which is littered with neo-Nazi material, swastikas, the lot. You get the picture.

This explains the issues around the Protocols rather well:

“Even today the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one of the principal propaganda weapons of anti-Semitism. In the United States it continues to be circulated by the Christian Identity movement, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. It is still distributed by those who deny the Holocaust as well. The Institute for Historical Review – the intellectual center of the movement denying the Holocaust – continues to sell the Protocols and it is still used to attack Jews.”

5. Etc etc

I think that any reasoned assessment of the Occupied Palestine blog would show that they have an ingrained hatred of Jews.

They consciously admire neo-Nazi material which attacks Jews.

Yet there are “anti-Zionists” who read their material, and we can only wonder if they peruse the links as well?

I still don’t know why “anti-Zionists” can’t see these issues.

May and Technological Bits.

leave a comment »

I have neglected technological innovations for far too long, Linux Journal explains how to put that operating system on a fingernail or SD card.

Tiny Core has reached V3.6, give it a go. It’s not obvious and you do have to read the manual, but it will rejuvenate even the oldest machine, remember RTFM.

All of this wonderful hardware comes at a price:

“When the allegations were put to Foxconn by the Observer, manager Louis Woo confirmed that workers sometimes worked more than the statutory overtime limit to meet demand from western consumers, but claimed that all the extra hours were voluntary. Workers claim that, if they turn down excessive demands for overtime, they will be forced to rely on their basic wage: workers in Chengdu are paid only 1,350 yuan (£125) a month for a basic 48-hour week, equivalent to about 65p an hour.

The Wine development version has reached 1.3.19, go for it, install Linux, then Wine and forget M$ crap.

Oh, there is a new version of Ubuntu, 11.04 and here’s what you might do after installing it.

Don’t try this at home, How to install Burg boot loader in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. Might be worth a try instead of the awful Grub2.

Big companies and their power, Tethering apps ‘blocked’ in Android Market.

Some reviewers really like it, Xubuntu 11.04: Solid, Sleek, and Speedy.

This tutorial explains how to get out of Microsoft’s grasp, How to install Photoshop in Ubuntu and LinuxMint.

Not a bad idea, Firefox Sync.

Malware to watch out for, protect your phone too!

The idea of a USB sized computer is superb, it could seriously undercut expensive, useless hardware, but will meet resistance I am sure:

“David Braben, an UK game developer has created a tiny computer which is about the same size as an USB stick, should cost about $25 and it will ship with Ubuntu by default.

The USB computer is going to be used in teaching computer programming to children and will be distributed by a new charitable foundation called “Raspberry Pi Foundation” within the next 12 months. “

I am fond of Mint and so are others, Linux Mint 11 (Katya) Preview and Testing Version Released!

For those with a slightly less than technogical view of the world, the social implications of all of this, How Social Media Creates a Rough Draft of History.

Feeling musical? Use Linux.

Finally, always have Parted Magic 6.1 ready.

Written by modernityblog

09/05/2011 at 15:33

Netanyahu, A Complete Failure.

with 3 comments

I really should be blogging on other subjects, the repression in Bahrain, murder in Syria and why does Ed Miliband look like such a weak leader, etc

From the corner of my eye I have been following events in the West Bank and the progress towards Palestinian statehood, which I fully support.

Along with that has been my bemusement at the Israeli government response: incoherent, belligerent and inept.

Fortunately, I find I am not the only one that has noticed Benjamin Netanyahu’s complete failure to tackle these issues politically, in any mature way. Instead Netanyahu stands like a modern King Canute, arguing against the inevitable in a sour and unhelpful fashion.

Snoopy sees the problem as well:

“The last time that the skies smiled at Binyamin Netanyahu was, probably, when Shimon Peres asked him to form the next government, after Tzipi Livni had despaired of her chances to win the support of the Knesset majority.

Since that day it all went downhill for him. Overtaken by the events, outmaneuvered on the right and (less) on the left by his frisky coalition partners, Bibi seems to be continuously surprised by what is happening in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. Since his Bar Ilan speech, where Bibi announced his support for two state solution, which in fact wasn’t the first time for an Israeli leader (Sharon has already done it) and was made under pressure coming loud and clear from the White House, Bibi is drifting with the flow of the current events, all his moves no more than feeble responses to the outside irritants.

So far the Palestinian leadership appears to be much more adept and sophisticated in manipulating the world’s public opinion as well as in gaining the all around political and diplomatic support. The growing number of the governments that recognized the Palestinian state is the best indication of the failure of Bibi’s “wait and respond” behavior. ” [My emphasis.]

PS: Readers will remember I am no fan of Netanyahu or his racist ministers.

Update 1: Jeff Goldberg ponders the incredibility stupid notion of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran’s nukes:

“I asked Alon Pinkas, a former diplomat and military correspondent, what he thought of Dagan’s speech. He said: “Dagan believes that high-technology-based covert operations are far more effective and carry significantly less risk in terms of possible ramifications and consequences than an air strike.” He went on, “He is also genuinely warning against what he thinks would be a reckless military action underlined more by political expediency than by a cost-effective analysis.” “

Gilad Atzmon And The Signatories.

with 8 comments

Rebecca Lesses has a good post on the recent activities of the racist, Gilad Atzmon. I liked this part:

“Signatories of this statement follow below. I think that they should be held responsible for working with Atzmon, who is a notorious antisemite who has been rejected even by other British anti-Zionists like Tony Greenstein and Sue Blackwell.

Nic Abramson, Middle East Crisis Response
Elliott Adams, Past President, Veterans For Peace
Ujju Aggarwal
Laurie Arbeiter, Activist Response Team
Anna Baltzer, Human Rights Activist and Author
Russell Banks, Writer
Kahlil Bendib, Political Cartoonist
Medea Benjamin, Co-founder CODEPINK
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Elaine Brower
Naomi Brussel, Activist Response Team
Allan Buchman, Founder and Artistic Director, The Culture Project
Leslie Cagan, Co-Founder United for Peace and Justice
Henry Chalfant, Film Maker
Kathleen Chalfant, New York
Cindy Corrie
Craig Corrie
Ellen Davidson, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA
Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz
Noor Elashi, Writer
Basem Emara, Gaza Freedom March
Kathy Engel, Poet
Hedy Epstein, Palestine Solidarity Committee, St. Louis, Missouri
Mike Ferner, National President, Veterans For Peace
Lisa Fithian, Alliance for Community Trainers
Felice Gelman, Gaza Freedom March
Jenny Heinz, Activist Response Team/Granny Peace Brigade
Jane Hirschmann, Jews Say No!
Jennifer Hobbs, New York City Attorney/Gaza Freedom March
Nubar Hovsepian, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Chapman University
Mary Hughes – Thompson, Free Gaza Movement
Abdeen Jabara, Past President, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Civil Rights Attorney
Tarak Kauff, Veterans for Peace
Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Eleanore Kennedy
Michael Kennedy
Mona Khalidi
Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University
Naomi Klein, Writer
Ramzi Kysia, Free Gaza Movement
Iara Lee, Cultures of Resistance/Freedom Flotilla Survivor
Richard A. Levy, Labor Lawyer
Karen Malpede, Playwright
Helaine Meisler, Hudson Valley BDS
Gail Miller, Women of a Certain Age
Fatima Mohammadi, Attorney at Law/Freedom Flotilla Survivor
Donna Nevel, Jews Say No!
Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
Mariam Said, New York
Najla Said, Actor/Writer
Hannah Schwarzschild, American Jews for a Just Peace
Bert Shaw
Moira Shaw
Kathy Sheetz, Free Gaza – USA/Freedom Flotilla Survivor
Ann Shirazi, Granny Peace Brigade/Women of a Certain Age
Starhawk, Alliance of Community Trainers
Eleanor Stein, Albany Law School
Michael Steven Smith, New York City Attorney/Author
Vivian Stromberg, MADRE, Executive Director
Yifat Susskind, MADRE Policy/Communications Director
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Syracuse University
Alice Walker, Author
Naomi Wallace
Darlene Wallach, Free Gaza Movement, Justice for Palestinians
Donna Wallach, Free Gaza Movement, Justice for Palestinians
Sarah Wellington, Activist Response Team
Diane Wilson, Writer/Activist
Ret. Col. Ann Wright, Freedom Flotilla Survivor
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace
Dorothy M. Zellner, Veteran Civil Rights Activist
David Zirin, Sports Correspondent, The Nation Magazine”