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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Month

January 2014

Internet Apocalypse?

from AVAAZ
                                Dear friends,


The US and the EU are on the verge of giving rich corporations the right to control what we all see on the Internet. It’s the apocalypse of the Internet as we know it. But free speech advocates and web companies are fighting back. Click to join the largest call for a democratic and free Internet ever:

SIGN THE PETITION

The richest 1% could now control what we all see on the Internet forever. It’s the apocalypse of the Internet as we know it, and will erase the democratic promise of an information highway for everyone the founders of the world wide web imagined.
Together, our community has built on that vision, using the web to fight corruption, save lives, and bring people-powered aid to countries in crisis. But the US and the EU are on the verge of giving the richest corporations the right to show content fast, while paywalling or slowing down everything else. Avaaz’s ability to show the world citizen journalist footage from Syria, or run campaigns to save our planet is under threat!

Decisions on both sides of the Atlantic are being made now. But tech innovators, free speech advocates and the best web companies are fighting back. If millions of us join them now we can create the largest call for a democratic and free Internet ever. Sign up now and tell everyone:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/internet_apocalypse_pa_eu/?bcxbQeb&v=34956
Until now, any improvements in the speed and functioning of the Internet benefited all of us — if Rupert Murdoch’s ultra-conservative Fox News got a faster way to stream videos, it also benefitted independent media showing reality on the ground in Ukraine, Syria, or Palestine. Politicians called this “net neutrality” and laws protecting it used to exist in the United States until a court just struck them down. Now, the EU Parliament is threatening to pass regulation that give ISPs the right to carve up the web and control what we see, by slowing down or charging for sites that don’t pay.

But we can stop this. First, we will show up with massive global numbers into this week’s public meeting in the United States to decide whether to reinstate Internet protections. Then we will unleash a high powered lobby team to target the EU Parliament to ensure its committees listen to the public. This will be the big first step we need to win these important battles over the next few months.

Web providers like Verizon and Vodafone are lobbying hard for an Internet for the rich. And without a massive response from citizens, they could win, and put our whole community’s work at risk. Most of our Internet is located in the US and the EU so this affects us all. We don’t have any time to lose. Click below to join now:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/internet_apocalypse_pa_eu/?bcxbQeb&v=34956
When our community was less than half of the size it is now, we rallied and helped kill the ACTA treaty and stopped massive Internet censorship laws SOPA/PIPA. Today, we are more powerful than ever. Let’s now join together and ensure that what connects us all stays open.
With hope, Pascal, Emma, Dalia, Luis, Emilie, Luca, Sayeeda and the whole Avaaz team
PS – Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community. It’s easy to get started – click to start yours now and win on any issue – local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=23917 SOURCES:
On dangers of non-Network Neutrality (ABC news): http://abcnews.go.com/Business/major-ways-internet-change-net-neutrality/story?id=21541399 Save the Internet http://savetheinternet.eu/en/
EU telecoms market reforms threaten net neutrality and privacy (Wired) http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-11/19/eu-telecoms-reform-concerns
Federal court strikes down FCC net neutrality rules (The Verge) http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/14/5307650/federal-court-strikes-down-net-neutrality-rules
Summary of BEREC positions on net neutrality (BEREC) http://berec.europa.eu/files/document_register_store/2012/12/BoR_(12)_146_Summary_of_BEREC_positions_on_net_neutrality2.pdf

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I Traveled to Palestine-Israel And Discovered There is no ‘Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’

01/29/2014SR Editor
I Traveled to Palestine Israel And Discovered There is no Palestinian Israeli Conflict

Armed Israeli settler strolls across checkpoint in Hebron, . Photo: Thomas Dallal

By *

The mind has a way of making traumatic experiences seem like distant dreams to those who survive them. As it goes, the more traumatic the experience, the quicker the paramedics in one’s mind rush to dress wounds, resuscitate and stabilize the victim; the victim being you.

I Traveled to Palestine Israel And Discovered There is no Palestinian Israeli Conflict

Ferrari Sheppard

Since returning from 36 hours ago, I find myself confronted with feelings of detachment and minimization of what I encountered. My subconscious has decided the horrors I witnessed in the ‘Holy Land’ were nothing serious–horrors which include a 26-foot-tall concrete wall enclosing the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, and the sniper towers seemingly on every other corner of this open-air prison.

This was my first trip to Palestine–most westerners call it , but I’ll address that topic shortly. I had never been to the country, but I read enough to know the basics: Palestinians and Israelis were fighting over land. The Israeli government was formed in 1948 as part of a vision set forth by a secular European colonial political movement called Zionism, founded by Hungarian Theodor Herzl in 1896. Herzl, an atheist, sought to free the Jews from European oppression and anti-Semitism, with the ultimate goal being the creation of a Jewish state.  He first proposed East Africa’s Uganda as the location of the Jewish state. This proposal also found the approval of the British government which controlled Palestine since the First World War. Herzl, however, later identified Palestine as the country of choice. I knew this.

The history of Palestinians was something I was familiar with as well, only because in high school, my friend’s parents were Moroccan Jews with staunch right-wing Zionist views. They’d go on about how Palestinians were worth shit and how they were sucking off the land they stole, and how they were not from Palestine, but Jordan. Truth be told, my friend’s parents’ passion about their ‘homeland’ made me sick. As a black person living in the United States, I could not relate to their love for their proclaimed homeland because I never had one. My ancestors were captured from various regions of Africa and forced onto ships bound for the Americas. Therefore, when questioned about the geographic origins of my ancestors, my answers were as vague as Africa is big.

Blurt 

Before I go further, I must put to rest a misnomer. Contrary to what’s been reported in the news for years, there is no Israeli-Palestinian conflict. None, zero, zilch, diddly-squat. I can say with confidence that Palestinians have no agency. The Israeli government controls everything in the country. This total control which is most magnified in the West Bank, concerns everything from where Palestinians are permitted to travel, to how much water they consume per month. Currently, there is no ‘conflict,’ only the omnipresent power of the Israeli government and those who resist it. This is important to understand.

Where was I?

I began researching the history of Palestinians in my senior year of college and discovered that my high school buddy’s parents weren’t only functionally insane, but they were completely incorrect in their claims. Palestinians had not fallen from the clouds and landed on Jewish land, (interpretations of certain religious texts would suggest otherwise) but had inhabited the country for thousands of years. In fact, Palestine hosted several occupations throughout history: Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Philistines, Tjekker, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans, British, Jordanians– a gang bang of military occupations. Nasty.

American author and Professor of Political Science Alan Dowty put it best when he wrote, “Palestinians are the descendants of all the indigenous peoples who lived in Palestine over the centuries.” Moreover, studies suggest, that part, if not the majority of Arabs living in Palestine, descend from a core population that dates back thousands of years.

Perhaps it would be easier for me to believe the story of Palestinians falling from the clouds, or crossing into Palestine from Jordan shortly before the creation of Israel — that is, if my perception were formed by mainstream western media. In the years prior to the events of 9/11, including the initial months of the Second Intifada, media outlets such as Fox, CNN, and BBC, unfolded one dimensional narratives which included bloodthirsty Palestinians blowing themselves up in public places, killing innocent people. Never did they examine the societal constraints and conditions which might drive people to commit such atrocities.

In order for colonialism and to be successful, previous inhabitants of a region must be dehumanized, labeled savages, and finally, their very existence denied. Once this paradigm has been established, any and all acts of horror can be inflicted upon them without recourse. Thus, the stories of the oppressed become irrelevant.

I Traveled to Palestine Israel And Discovered There is no Palestinian Israeli Conflict

Members of our delegation show passports at checkpoint entering illegal settlements in Hebron, West Bank.  Jewish Israelis are permitted entry, internationals must present passports and endure interrogation and Palestinians are not allowed. Photo: Thomas Dallal

Getting in and out

In the weeks preceding my departure from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Tel Aviv, I received travel warnings from The Carter Center, the organization responsible for sponsoring my trip. Our delegation, which consisted of prominent African-American journalists and artists, was provided suggestions of how to increase our chances of getting into Palestine-Israel. It is not uncommon for travelers to be denied entry into the country for absurd reasons such as their father’s last name sounds Arab, or they criticized Israeli policy on a social networking website. I decided I would tell my Israeli interrogators the truth, but be as vague as possible.

If denied entry, travelers could be detained for hours, interrogated and forced to board an airplane back to where their flight originated. Other visitors to the region advised me to avoid saying words like “Palestine,” “Palestinian,” ”solidarity,” and “West Bank” inside of Israel’s airport. I was also advised to sanitize my email in the event that Israeli officials requested my password in order to rummage through my inbox. Unfortunately, this is a common experience for Palestinian-Americans attempting to visit the country. Additionally, I was warned that Israeli authorities, on occasion, provoke visitors by being rude, or asking inappropriate questions–they aim to cause one to feel as though they’ve done something wrong. In my case, this tactic was working. I felt I was committing a crime by wishing to enter the West Bank to talk to Palestinians. Israel was getting to me already, and I hadn’t left my apartment.

How things work

I reached Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and made my way up a flight of stairs leading to a long, wide, windowed corridor filled with travelers speed-walking towards their destination. To my left were palm trees of a country I was hoping to enter, and fixed high above was the sun, whispering the arduous tale of humankind.

I had made it to customs. It resembled a race track betting area with fifteen booths and neon signs fixed to them which read, “Israeli Citizens” and “Foreigners.” I got into the foreigner line. Inside the booth sat an Israeli woman, maybe 20 years old. She looked sad and beautiful.

“Passport,” she said in a dry tone.

I gave it to her.

“What is the reason for your visit?”

Sponsor Ads:

I smiled and replied, “A tour of the holy land.”

She examined my passport, then she examined my face,”Will you be visiting the West Bank or Gaza?”

I said, “No,” without thinking.

“Where will you be going?” she asked.

, Bethlehem and Nazareth,” I replied.

She examined my passport again, “Do know any Palestinians?” she asked.

I smirked and lied, “No.”

I was officially permitted into the state of Israel. I found my taxi driver, loaded my carry-on bag into the trunk, and we were off. Leaving Israel would not be so easy, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Riding from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the first thing I noticed, besides the breathtaking Palestinian landscape with its palm trees, olive trees and immense hills and valleys, were walls and barbwire. There were literally hundreds of miles of concrete walls and barbwire–not the kind one sees on a Los Angeles off-ramp, but those belonging to a prison

I’d later find out that a portion of my 90-minute ride from the airport to Jerusalem gave a brief look at “Area-C.” As it goes, the occupied West Bank is divided into three parts: “Area-A,” “Area-B” and “Area-C.” “Area-C” is controlled by the Israeli government, while “Area-A” is supposedly under the control of the Palestinian Authority (or PA), a self-governing body established to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip (“Area-B” is under glorified Palestinian municipal control and Israeli security control). The reason I say “supposedly,” is because after spending a week in the country, I began wondering if the area classifications were simply a broad public relations campaign to convince the world that Palestinians have a degree of military, political, and economic power they do not have. This is not a far-fetched inquiry. Since the second Oslo Accords in 1995, the Israeli government has asserted, and the international community has accepted, the notion that “Area-A” is under PA control, but on the ground, the PA acts as a subcontracted enforcer to the Israeli occupiers.

The Reality

In Jerusalem, I witnessed great religious and ethnic diversity. I saw Arabs, Asians, Europeans, Africans, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Christians, all scrambling in Old City Jerusalem towards their various destinations. It was postcard worthy.

The variety of cultures in Jerusalem is outstanding. Similar to many societies however, Palestine-Israel presents a polished version of itself to tourists, where 5-star hotels in Tel Aviv and tourist attractions in Jerusalem cloak its brutal realities. The fact remains that our delegation was subject to a type of racism I’ve only experienced in the southern states of the United States of America. Of course, to a Jew or a middle class Palestinian living in Jerusalem or Nazareth, my observations may sound like exaggerations, but for the African migrant sleeping on the ground in South Tel Aviv, or for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, my evaluations are dead on.

The blatant, systemic subjugation and profiling of Arabs was most pronounced when our tour guide, a middle class Palestinian woman, was forced by IDF soldiers to exit our tour van and pass through a checkpoint on foot. As all Palestinians must do, she was told to place her thumb on a scanner to pass through a turn-style at a checkpoint. The members of our delegation were no exception to IDF scrutiny. The light skinned blacks in our delegation were interrogated and asked bluntly if they were Arab, and if not, what the last names of their fathers’ were.

Palestinians and progressive Israelis told our delegation story after story of the abuses and degradation they’ve suffered at the hands of Israeli settlers or soldiers, and we witnessed some of this treatment first hand. Along with the rampant home and land confiscation in the West Bank (in which settlers receive state subsidies), agricultural violence is on the rise, as settlers uproot and destroy the olive trees Palestinians rely on for income and nourishment. More sinisterly, public beatings, arrests and shootings are common, particularly in the West Bank. Without charges, a Palestinian can be imprisoned and held for months or years under administrative detention. The same law does not apply to Jewish Israelis. In fact, Israeli citizens can commit a range of crimes against Palestinians with near impunity. Furthermore, Israelis benefit from being under police and civil courts jurisdiction, while Palestinians are under military jurisdiction. Human Rights Watch has documented the “Separate and Unequal” legal situation endured by Palestinians.

I Traveled to Palestine Israel And Discovered There is no Palestinian Israeli Conflict

Yehuda Shaul (seen in orange shirt) lectures our delegation near village of Susya.  Photo: Thomas Dallal

Our delegation was introduced to Yehuda Shaul, a former commander in the Israeli army and current Foreign Relations Director for Breaking the Silence, an organization of former IDF soldiers who have dedicated themselves to revealing the atrocities committed against Palestinians, as well as the general corruption of higher-ups in the Israeli government. Yehuda, a heavyset man wearing a yarmulke, still moves and speaks like a soldier. As we drove up and down the hills of South Hebron, Yehuda’s lecture quickly began to feel like a general preparing a platoon for an offensive. He even revealed Israel’s plan to force rural Palestinians away from their land and into West Bank cities, making them dependent on the government.

As a liberal Israeli, Yehuda believes in granting rights to Palestinians and developing a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution. Yehuda is still a Zionist, and beyond lecturing about various land grabs, violence and injustices committed by Israeli settlers and the government, the 31-year-old steers away from revealing his personal story, which likely involves his journey as an IDF commander who terrorized Palestinian neighbourhoods, to the activist he is today who accepts that Palestinians are human.

Yehuda commanded our Palestinian driver to stop on the side of a road near an illegal Israeli settlement in the village of Susya. I point out that our driver was Palestinian because stopping in Susya was extremely dangerous for the three Palestinians in our van. Susya is home to armed, right-wing Israeli settlers who as Yehuda admitted, would “beat up” Palestinians on sight. Our Palestinian colleagues stayed in the van.

For some reason, Yehuda was compelled to conduct his lecture outside of the bus while our delegation shivered from a mountainous chill. It was then that a dusty car stopped feet away from us, engine running, with the driver focusing a murderous stare on our group. Yehuda kept lecturing as though nothing was happening, and our delegation pretended to listen as we remained vigilant for the deranged onlooker. The man examined us for a minute more, then sped off violently to return moments later to repeat this action. Sensing danger, I suggested to Yehuda we get back in the van and leave, but he ordered us to remain outside.

“This will only take a few minutes more,” he said, before continuing his lecture.

The rapid fire gunshots we heard in the distance gave us our cue to finally return to the van. The moment we were about to drive off, Israeli army vehicles pulled up, and a few soldiers peered in at us. They took a quick inventory of the van and then sped off. Apparently, during our lecture, Israeli settlers were attacking a group of Palestinians. I had seen enough.

Zionism has convinced many Jews that they are preserving themselves. The common thought is that if the “savage” Palestinians stop resisting, stop shooting rockets, stop fighting Israel’s inevitable domination, there can be peace. I find this peculiar because during my visit, I felt no danger from Palestinians, only from Israeli soldiers. Perhaps it’s because I’m accustomed to being hunted in America. There is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict; there is only oppression.

I will never disregard the Holocaust which left millions of European Jews dead or scrambling for survival. There is nothing that will ever right the wrongs committed by the brutal German regime. On the same note, I will never minimize Germany’s first, and little-known, genocide against the Herero and Namaqua of Africa, or King Leopold’s bloody reign on the continent. Tragedy is tragedy, one should not be placed above the other, nor should a past tragedy justify the next.

* Ferrari Sheppard is Editor-in-Chief of Stop Being Famous | Sabbah Report: http://sabbah.biz/mt/?p=18572

Geneva talks: Give Syrians a voice

Tuesday 28 January 2014

People are usually surprised when they know I am Syrian, not because I do not have Syrian features as I very much do, but because I do not fit into some of the stereotypes that westerners have about women from my country. I’m a human rights lawyer who decided to take control of my own destiny and oppose a regime that ruled us by horror and abuse for decades. And I am by no means special, as a great majority of my fellow Syrians made a similar choice. They too do not fit into such stereotypes, whether of extremist fighters or of vicious regime apologists. In fact those images are as strange and appalling to us as they are to people here.

For the past three years, I have watched my country falling into ruins due to a brutal regime that turned torture and mass killing into a family legacy.  I have lost close friends and family members, and I have seen the neighbourhoods I grew up in levelled to the ground and schools I went to becoming refuges for millions of Syrians displaced by the shelling and violence.

Having that said, I am one of the more privileged Syrians at home or abroad in the sense that I have not been killed by a brutal regime who mainly targets people like me; I’ve not been abused or tortured in its detention centres nor starved under siege in the cities it still controls. I have not been deprived from my freedom of movement in the areas under the extremists control nor exploited in refugee camps. I also have not seen my own children killed or starved. Other Syrians, however have not been so lucky.

Those of us who grew up under the tight fist of the Ba’ath remember wearing military clothes to school and learning to use a Kalashnikov at the tender age of thirteen. And unlike those who enjoyed using and abusing weapons, this upbringing made me a vigorous opponent of arming and militarisation, and as such, my chances of being heard or accounted for decrease as the fighting continues. Those chances dropped significantly when my countrymen were left with no option but armed resistance against the dictator who was slaughtering them for peacefully calling for freedom.  The violence and brutality kept rising under the sight of a silent world, until the regime used chemical weapons to destroy a civilian neighbourhood, killing hundreds of men, women and children and leaving the rest of us traumatised and hopeless.

Confining the international reaction to Assad’s use of chemical weapons to a shy request to deliver them was a mistake. It made Syrians feel that it is acceptable for them to die in silence as long as the West approves the means. The international deadlock was another disgrace that left Syrians uncertain about the actual meaning of “international peace and security” and turned the narrative of human rights for all into a mockery. The peace talks today offer the possibility of limiting the continuing harm of those mistakes, and in order for this to be realised, Syrians need to feel heard and represented.

The Syrian Opposition Coalition continues to struggle with many difficulties; however, I still see it as a fair representative of the Syrian people in the process to end this agony. After all, they were the ones who spoke our minds in Montreux when Ahmad al-Jarba declared our opposition to extremists and thugs and praised the recent moves of moderate fighters who forced those extremists to evacuate cities they used to occupy, unlike Assad who got those very thugs out of prison in three pardons in 2011-2012.  And while Assad’s representatives overwhelmed us with lies and threats, it was the Coalition who asked for a democratic Syria in which people like us have a place they can call home.

The peace talks are offering a way out of a vicious cycle, it is one of the very few hopes for the vast majority of Syrians who reject extremism and simply want an end to a bloodthirsty and greedy dictatorship. And the success of those talks is our chance to have a place to go back to and hope to fix what forty years of Assad rule can do to a country and a population.

Laila Alodaat is a Syrian human rights lawyer and a trainer of international humanitarian law. She currently work in a human rights law firm in London.

for more see source

Syria Plea: ‘We Are Eating Cat and Donkey Meat, Have Mercy on Us’

Demo today at 1:00 pm Place du Luxembourg
Sam Dagher/The Wall Street Journal
Emergency aid workers tried to evacuate children, women, elderly and sick civilians from the Yarmouk Camp.

DAMASCUS, Syria—As the Syrian regime and opposition prepared to leave the war-torn country last weekend to take part in peace talks in Switzerland, dozens of emergency-aid workers waited hours for government permission to evacuate some of those trapped with little food and medicine in a rebel-held Damascus neighborhood.

The Wall Street Journal’s Sam Dagher went to the frontline of the Yarmouk Camp, where tens of thousands of people, mostly Palestinians, have not been allowed to leave the area for about a year. Both sides in the conflict have used access to food and medicine as a weapon, according to human-rights groups and aid workers.

Dagher met those hoping relatives inside the camp would be evacuated. “Let everyone out. We are eating cat and donkey meat, have mercy on us,” 45-year-old Qamar Azeema told Dagher when she was finally allowed to leave on Sunday. Dagher wrote this article, reporting on the desperate conditions inside the camp, and shot video footage on a mobile phone.

While at Yarmouk, Dagher met Eman Kanoun:

Her husband Tayseer Bakeer, son Mohammad, daughters Ghinwa and Hanan Bakeer, her husband and granddaughter Lilas were not among the lucky group to leave on Sunday. Mrs. Kanoun escaped in July to bring her family food, but regime soldiers would not let her back in, she told me.

Dagher asked Mrs. Kanoun what her granddaughter says to her when she speaks to her by phone.

Dagher also met Islam, a 9-year-old girl, whose father and brothers are trapped inside the camp:

He met a woman who had escaped from the camp five months ago.

A woman who gave her name as Umm Mohammad said she escaped from the camp in July with her newborn baby girl Tabarak and other children including daughter Islam. Umm Mohammad told me she could not breastfeed her baby and there was no baby formula. She said they used to crush lentils and rice to make bread out of the mix. “It was bitter whatever we put in it,” she said. Her husband, two stepsons and other relatives remain inside the besieged area. Islam told me she misses them all, especially her father.

Twenty-seven people were evacuated Sunday, including 11-year-old Sultan.

Ameera Kalash, 38, was evacuated with her four children, aged between one and five. This is the first time they have eaten bread and fresh fruit for seven months. Mrs. Kalash told Dagher that supplies are scarce and what little could be found is prohibitively expensive inside the camp.

Mrs. Kalash said that her children used to eat things like dried Tamarind all day. “I have no money, I used to beg to feed them,” she told me. A man interrupted saying, “we are eating cow feed.”

Zamzam Khalil, 95, is a Palestinian refugee who fled to Syria in 1948.

I watched as she was given an emergency nutrition pack to drink by aid workers. She told me how children would pick grass for people to eat. Not even Israel did this to us when we fled Palestine in 1948, she told me. The green pigment on her face is from tattoos commonly worn by Bedouin women across the Middle East.

Dagher also met Sheik Mohammad al-Omari, a cleric who is part of mediation group between regime and rebels inside Yarmouk. He had a message to those meeting in Switzerland.

On the same day Dagher also watched as representatives from UNRWA, a United Nations relief agency, negotiate for hours with a Syrian army general and other security force officials permission to take in 400 parcels of food to those trapped inside Yarmouk.

First they said they would only allow 200. Then they changed their minds and said only 100 and that all food boxes would be searched. I watched as boxes were cut with knives. They found bread and small nylon bags filled with flour. These were tossed out because they were “unauthorized” and could be taken by rebels, army officers said. Two small pickup trucks filled with the food boxes crossed the frontline. Gunfire was heard and the trucks returned with their goods undelivered. Syrian regime forces said the convoy was attacked by rebel snipers and that there would be no more deliveries. I watched as the trucks were turned back.

To highlight the plight of people inside Yarmouk and its lack of access, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)] launched a social-media campaign generating more than 31.6 million “impressions” and reaching tens of millions around the world.

“Millions of people heard our plea, that we have seen enough reports of starving children, infants with rickets and women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care. We urge the parties to listen to the voice of the international humanitarian community,” said UNRWA spokesperson, Chris Gunness. “A small amount of food aid has been allowed into Yarmouk in the last few days, but this is a drop in the ocean.”

– Compiled by Sarah Marshall

source

More on this story: Attempts to Send Food, Medicine to Besieged Homs Quarter Falter

A Kurdish poet : Hoşeng Osê (Dutch translation)

Hoşeng Osê   now   lives in Flanders and has been translated in Dutch so far.

De blinde meeuw

 

Noordzee…

Ik ben geen soldaat die een mes in de rug kreeg, noch een verradende koning op een schaaktafel.

Denk je niet dat ik de resten van een schipbreuk ben, die op je kust eindigt.

Ik ben de resten van een bloedbad.

Ik draag in mijn hart mijn kruis én mijn graf.

Ik verberg onder mijn tong het geheugen van mijn vaderland voor de oprukkende barbaren.

de verdriet is mijn beker, mij pijn is wijn.

Denk je niet dat ik een kapitein ben, wiens schip hem in de steek liet.

Ik ben een natie wiens vier windstreken hem niet langer herkennen.

Ik ben een treurend gedicht, dat een blinde profeet nog steeds schrijft, voor de kleine zwaluwen.

Zelfs jij, Noordzee?!

Zelfs jij keert mij ook de rug toe?!

Ik ben geen oprukkende Alexander, noch een ambitieuze Napoleon ..

Ik ben gewoon een echo ..

Een nederlaag ..

Gewoon een lijk dat sinds drie duizend jaar,

Nog steeds naar een graf zoekt.

 

………………………..

 

Een gemummificeerde tijger

 

 

Zijn ogen: twee gloeiende kolen, die vonken uit een diepe put.

Hij zegt: ik ben Jozef, verraders, en ik wil niet uit de put komen.

*****

Verjaagd door de duisternis, verdoemd door het daglicht, slaat hij met zijn nagels de rotsen van de tijd.

Noch de zee kan het vuur der hartstochten in zijn hart doven;

Noch de regen kan het leed, dat zijn geest treft, verzachten.

Alleen de stilte luistert eerbiedig naar zijn gekreun.

*****

Jullie, die Abel duizend keer per minuut doden;

Denk je niet dat ik een gemummificeerde tijger in een museum ben!

Deze wereld die jullie met oorlogen en vernielingen gevuld hebben, is het eeuwige museum, en jullie zijn de mummies!

Ik wandel onder jullie rond.

En omdat jullie gemummificeerde mensen zijn, met duizend maskers,

Wil ik niet eens, dat jullie mijn prooi worden!

Hosheng at 11:40 in this youtube video in Kurdish.

Inside the Obscene Lifestyles of the New Global Super-Rich

lterNet             /               By Lynn Stuart Parramore
          comments_image       254 COMMENTS
January 23, 2014  |

A new crop of global super-rich is pouring into the United States, changing the economic landscape from Manhattan to Los Angeles. They’re driving up the price of real estate, pushing out the middle class and going on buying binges that would make Gilded Age robber barons blush.

First they want the hotel room — perhaps the storied, $15,000-a-night penthouse at the Fairmont San Francisco, where guests receive honey made by the Fairmont’s own honeybees. JFK was rumored to tryst there with Marilyn Monroe. Next they want the shopping spree, snapping up million-dollar diamond Chanel watches and $1,000-per-ounce perfume. Then they want to buy a home in their favorite playground —maybe a $90 million pad at Manhattan’s behemoth One57, where they can pay negligible taxes yet enjoy the full menu of New York City services.

For the new ultrawealthy, ordinary toys will not do. Once upon a time, owning a super-charged sports car was a symbol of wealth to a certain breed of balding Floridian. But today’s young global gazillionaires require something with a little more flash, like a gold-plated Lamborghini, which costs $7.5 million and even has its own Twitter feed. Brett David, the CEO of Lamborghini Miami, has been selling top-dollar cars for a long time. But even he is shocked at the number of items he’s selling to overseas buyers, from Argentines and Venezuelans to a new crop of Russian and Chinese shoppers.

To help us understand this new breed of 1 percenter, CNBC helpfully launched a brand new series on Jan 22 “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.” Starting off with a sycophantic chant of “money, money, power, power” over cheesy opening credits, the show is a full hour of nonstop douchiness (two episodes aired Wednesday back-to-back), featuring eager commentary from CNBC’s “wealth editor” Robert Frank (yes, such a job title exists).

For most Americans, half of whom live at or near the poverty line, this is something like a safari through a foreign country that strangely exists in your own backyard. You’ll probably never attend the Breeder’s Cup, the “richest two days in sports,” but you can gawk at the adventures of Justin Zayat, a 21-year-old NYU student and son of racing tycoon Ahmed Zayat who manages million-dollar horses from his college dorm room. You may never own a home with a poolhouse bigger than a McMansion, but you can follow a pair of Russian oligarchs, Irina and Joseph, as they tour a $15 million Gatsby-era estate on Long Island where they can, among other things, ascend a spiral staircase looking up the butt of a three-story stuffed giraffe. Home collectors, we are told, are the new art collectors.

Among the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned sitting through this journey to the land of Richistan was that rich people really, really like taxidermy. Let’s think about this for a moment. Does being surrounded by the corpses of majestic animals give the tycoon a buffer against the existential fear of death? Most of us poor souls walk around just trying to survive, but perhaps the super-rich, who have all their basic needs met and then some, end up with an amplified anxiety about death that fills in the psychological real estate usually devoted to wondering how to pay for your kids’ college. Hence they load up their apartments with stuffed alligators.

The global elites seem to spend a great deal of time wondering how to survive an apocalypse — you might call them Billionaire Doomsday Preppers. They want high-security buildings where their identities are protected, complete with panic rooms and stockpiles of food and water in case of emergency. In case there’s a Third World meltdown, they want a First World stronghold. If death comes, at least they have maid service.

Attending to the psychological quirks of the rich and powerful who don’t want to accept death has a venerable tradition that goes back to the pharaohs, who liked to hit the afterlife in a solid gold mask with an army of embalmed servants. More recently, the field of cryongenics has arisen to stoke dreams of immortality among the wealthy (whole body freezing is the most expensive, but at a discount they can just freeze your head).

Maybe the new bumper crop of billionaires signals the need for a whole new industry: terror management consulting for the 1 percent. The expert could provide a full menu of death-denying services, from customized trips to Brazilian jungles where ayahuasca shamans can help them conquer their fear of dying to a full roster of apocalypse simulations conducted in the privacy of their own home.

If none of that works, at least the super-rich can look forward to a million-dollar funeral, such as the one a Chinese businessman just put on for his mom, complete with a 600-musician marching band and gold-plated cannons firing out the final salute. You can’t take it with you, but you can die trying.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.d in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

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Another good read : http://fr.scribd.com/doc/202367379/State-of-Power-2014-Exposing-the-Davos-Class

Dear Prime Minister: Full text of peers’ letter to David Cameron regarding the Syrian refugee crisis

Dear Prime Minister,

We are deeply concerned about the growing Syrian refugee crisis which you have accurately described as ‘the greatest refugee crisis of our time’.  As you will know, more than two million people have fled the country, including over one million children, the majority of whom are now living in extremely precarious circumstances. Figures suggest that only around 0.1% of the people fleeing the conflict have found safety in the UK while 97%, are being hosted by the neighbouring countries.

We write to you today to urge you to heed UNHCR’s call to help the countries bordering Syria by establishing a co-ordinated resettlement programme in the UK with a focus on the more vulnerable refugees, including women at risk, those with disabilities, vulnerable older adults and families with children.

We commend you for pledging £600 million in humanitarian aid to assist people in Syria and the region.  However, we are extremely concerned to hear reports of domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape from the camps on the border, and with the arrival of winter and freezing temperatures, these are plainly unacceptable environments for many at risk.

Only a resettlement programme will offer a durable solution for the most vulnerable who will struggle to survive in the harsh conditions in the region.

You are well aware of the scale of the crisis which shows no signs of abating. UNHCR has predicted that next year the total Syrian refugee population will increase to over 4 million. Unsurprisingly, given the numbers crossing their borders, Syria’s neighbours are buckling under the strain. We are extremely alarmed to hear that scores of people trying to escape the fighting, including families with small children, are being denied admission by neighbouring countries. According to an April 2013 survey, 71 per cent of Jordanians want the border with Syria to be closed to new arrivals. With thousands of people fleeing Syria everyday, this would be catastrophic.

There is a moral imperative on western countries to show solidarity with Syria’s neighbours by sharing the responsibility of protecting some of the people fleeing Syria.

UNHCR has called for western countries to take 30,000 people through resettlement or humanitarian admission with a focus on the vulnerable, a modest target given the scale of the crisis. So far 18 countries, including Germany, France and the USA, have responded to this call. Despite our proud tradition of protecting refugees, the UK has yet to respond.

We urge you to work with the UNHCR and the international community in the establishment of a global resettlement programme to help the most vulnerable find safety outside of the region. We must play our part in providing a safe haven to Syria’s refugees.

We would be grateful for your thoughts on this issue and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss it in more detail.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon. the Baroness Williams of Crosby

Rt Hon. the Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham

Lord Avebury

Baroness Berridge

Rt Hon. the Baroness Boothroyd OM

Lord Brennan QC

Viscount Brookeborough DL

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Carlisle

Lord Chidgey

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Coventry

Baroness Cox

Lord Desai

Lord Dholakia

Lord Dubs

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Gloucester

Baroness Goudie

Lord Greaves

Baroness Hamwee

Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG

Baroness Howarth of Breckland

Baroness Hooper CMG

Lord Hylton

Lord Judd

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC

Rt Hon Lord Kilclooney of Armagh

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Lichfield

Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE

Rt Rev. and the Rt Hon. the Lord Bishop of London

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Meacher

Baroness Morgan of Huyton

Lord Parekh

Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Rt Hon. the Lord Roper

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of St Albans

Earl of Sandwich

Rt Hon. the Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lord Snape

Baroness Stern CBE

Baroness Suttie

Lord Taverne

Baroness Tonge

Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of Truro

Baroness Uddin

Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of Wakefield

Rt Hon. the Lord Warner

Baroness Whitaker

Rt Hon. the Lord Whitty

Rt Hon. the Lord Wigley

Rt Rev. and the Rt Hon. the Lord Williams of Oystermouth

Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Worcester

Lord Wright of Richmond GCMG

Read more:
Syrian crisis: Peers put Cameron under pressure to ‘heed the call’ and take in refugees
Dear Prime Minister: Full text of peers’ letter to David Cameron regarding the Syrian refugee crisis
Editorial: Let them in – Britain has a moral duty to help Syria’s refugees
‘No room at the inn’: Britain condemned for turning its back on Syria’s refugees
Syria in crisis: Country’s healthcare system is ‘going backwards in time, at a rate of a decade a month’

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Stop the crocodile tears. We didn’t care about Syria

By Dan Hodges World Last updated:  January 23rd, 2014

1219 Comments Comment on this article

A Syrian woman cries holding her injured son in a taxi as they arrive at a hospital in northern city of Aleppo

A Syrian woman cries holding her injured son in a taxi as they arrive at a hospital in northern city of Aleppo. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Can we please stop the crocodile tears over Syria? If there’s one thing more nauseating than the Assad torture factories, it’s the synthetic outrage and faux horror that has greeted their discovery.

Last year the world had an opportunity to send a signal to the Assad regime. Actually, the world had the opportunity to send a signal to itself.

Faced with evidence the Syrian government had been using chemical weapons on its own citizens – effectively choking its own children to death in their beds – we had the chance to take a stand. Not a chance to halt the slaughter overnight, or topple the Assad regime. But to put down a marker that said “You are on notice. We will not simply walk by on the other side. Remember, though the mills of justice grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.”

But we chose not to send that signal, or put down any markers. Instead we thought it would be best if we just put our heads down, and scurried on past.

Of course, it didn’t happen quite like that. We had a debate first. A very thorough debate.

During that debate a number of very sophisticated arguments and questions were put forward by those opposed to military intervention. “If we do go in, what would our exit strategy be?” people asked. And as we now know, as they were doing so, somewhere in the bowels of one of Assad’s human meat-processing plants another victim was having a coil of steel wire slipped around their throat.

“What will the targets be?” was another perceptive question. And as it was asked, the steel wire was being pulled taught.

“We need more time. We need more proof” the wise men and women who stood square against the rush to war argued. And as the words left their lips another of Assad’s victims closed their eyes for the final time.

More on Syria

Assad’s torture camps expose Ban Ki-moon’s naivety
Syria’s horrors are unimaginable – and beyond our control
Turkey’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis has been heroic

We have no way of knowing what impact, if any, targeted military intervention would have had on Assad’s thinking. It could have cowed him. It could have made him lash out.

But we know for certain what message our failure to act sent. It told him “They don’t care”. They don’t care if you gas your children. They don’t care if you oppress your people. And they certainly don’t care if you snatch some of your opponents off the streets, throw them in some putrid dungeon and “disappear them”.

And Assad is right. We didn’t care. Oh, we professed to care. “There will be those who believe Thursday’s vote in the House of Commons means that Britain cannot make a difference to the innocent civilians of Syria who are suffering such a humanitarian catastrophe,” wrote Ed Miliband the day after he voted down the government’s plans for a military strike. “I don’t agree.” And everybody nodded sagely in agreement. “Oh yes, there’s lots we can still do,” we told ourselves.

But the truth is there wasn’t. And it didn’t really bother us. We preferred to do nothing. We preferred to protect “our boys”. We preferred to protect the Middle East from further Western “adventurism”. Wwe preferred to protect our consciences from another Iraq.

Fine. But please, let’s not now pile hypocrisy on top of our grotesque abdication of responsibility. No more hand-wringing. No further calls for “something to be done”. Nothing is going to be done. Because we don’t actually want it to be done. Yes, we want the horrors of Syria to disappear. We want Assad to disappear. But we want someone else to make them disappear for us, so we can go back to congratulating ourselves about how we stood tall for peace.

Yesterday I saw some people calling for Assad to be tried for war crimes. I also saw John Kerry again insisting Assad steps down and leaves Syria. I may be wrong about this, but it seems unlikely Assad is going to be going anywhere unless he has some pretty solid guarantees about immunity from future prosecution.

In the meantime he’s already in possession of some other important guarantees. Such as if he doesn’t voluntarily deliver himself up to justice, we’re not going to go in and get him. If he doesn’t voluntarily leave Syria, we’re not going to go in and make him. When his henchmen slip a wire cable around the throat of another victim we’ll say how terrible it is. And then we’ll stand back and let them pull the noose tight.

We had the chance to take a stand against Assad last year. His chemical weapons. His torture chambers. We turned our back on it. So please, no more crocodile tears. The steel noose will be in use again tonight. Let’s not demean ourselves further by pretending that really matters to us.

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Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri’s Second Death

by mlynxqualey

“A poet dies twice: once when he publishes, and once when a statue is erected to him.” So said Iraqi poet Mahmoud al-Braikan, in a speech in memory of the great Badr Shakir al-Sayyab:

A Google doodle for al-Jawahiri, which must be another sort of death.A Google doodle for al-Jawahiri, which must be another sort of death.

Al-Sayyab (1926-1964) — one of Iraq’s most gifted poets — lived and died in poverty. He was imprisoned and scapegoated by various successive regimes, and according to scholar and translator Ibrahim Muhawi, the last three years of his life “were indeed miserable,” as his poverty was compounded “with an incurable, degenerative…disease of his spinal cord…that led gradually to the paralysis of his legs and the deterioration of his nervous system, culminating in his death at the young age of 38.”

Al-Sayyab’s death did shake the world of Arabic literature, Muhawi said. By 1967, a new selection of his poetry appeared with an introduction by the Syrian poet Adonis. But it wasn’t until 1971 that he was claimed by the Iraqi government.

That’s when the Ba’athist regime, under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, erected a statue to the poet. In 2013, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture did one better, announcing that al-Sayyab’s family home would be turned into a cultural forum “and a tourist museum that documents his poetry works and displays to the public his personal effects, pictures, scripts and audio recordings.”

Perhaps the museum will be beautiful, educational, and a home for poets and poetry. In any case, Al-Braikan, who died in 2002, would surely not approve. But just as surely, Iraqi poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri’s (1899-1997) second death, revealed last month and chronicled in Al-Monitor and As-Safiris a bit unhappier. From Al-Monitor:

Jawahiri’s statue has become a bad joke among intellectuals, the public and the poet’s family. Jawahiri’s granddaughter saw her grandfather’s history collapse in front of her. No one in Baghdad province gave the history of that cultural and poetic figure his due.

The province put up a simple statue that said nothing about Jawahiri. It was a simple statue made of some kind of plastic material in the middle of a pool, whose water was dyed green during the unveiling celebration. But all that ugliness was not enough. They surrounded the statue with a number of coffee pots of different sizes. The statue’s head was crooked, and the coffee pots made the scene look even more ridiculous. Jawahiri’s family rushed to the governor to try to fix the monument, which offended the history of a man buried in the Ghuraba cemetery in the neighborhood of Sayyeda Zeinab, Damascus.

Baghdad assassinated Jawahiri twice, once when it forced him into exile, away from the “Tigris River of goodness,” and another time by making for him a
pathetic statue that is unworthy of his history.

The governor promised to fix the statue and to remove the coffee pots and coffee cups from around it so that the poet doesn’t get turned into a coffee seller after his death.

There’s no indication that the leftist poet would’ve been shamed or alarmed by an association with coffee-sellers. However, it’s not quite clear how the above statue won a competition that was apparently, according to the US Department of Defense news website al-Shorfa, worth 5 million dinars.

Although a popular and beloved poet — called by critic Salma Khadra Jayyusi in Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry “undoubtedly the greatest Iraqi poet of his generation” — al-Jawahiri, with his classical style, has generally been ignored by critics and translators.

According to Jayyusi, “Poetry of a unique and uncommitted nature such as that of al-Jawahiri, which does not proclaim a new doctrine of poetry, is immediately marked out as ‘conventional’ and left untreated.”

Read: Two poems by al-Jawahiri, submitted by an anonymous translator.

Another image: of the statue.

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