Saturday, September 29, 2007

The black hole of Blackwater

Katherine Fallah has written an excellent piece in the SMH on the dirty world of private military contractor Blackwater:

Its professional newsletter, the Blackwater Tactical Weekly, paints a different picture. Its articles include a passionate defence of the proposition that "it's fun to shoot some people" and it showcases bumper stickers spouting witticisms like "law not enforced is not law" and "lifes short break the rules" (sic).

Child deaths in the OPT

It was a pretty quiet year, relatively speaking. Only 457 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed, according to the B'Tselem human rights organization, including the victims of Qassam rockets. Fewer casualties than in many previous years. However, it was still a terrible year: 92 Palestinian children were killed (fortunately, not a single Israeli child was killed by Palestinians, despite the Qassams). One-fifth of the Palestinians killed were children and teens - a disproportionate, almost unprecedented number. The Jewish year of 5767. Almost 100 children, who were alive and playing last New Year, didn't survive to see this one.

Gideon Levy, Haaretz.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Embracing change

Since last September I've been doing a Masters in London. All that has now ended in something of a blur. In a period of 3-4 weeks I went from last minute memorising for exams to moving my precious few belongings across town away from the centrally located university residences to the not-so-distant, predominantly Bangladeshi Whitechapel part of the east end. The reality of life outside the student bubble has perhaps been best reflected in the fact that I can't walk to my local hang outs, or embellish the word 'narrative' or 'discourse' in my conversations as freely (supermarket attendants are far from chatty). Otherwise I'm quite enjoying my new location which has two features I shall never tire of rejoicing in - fruit and veg street markets that sell good, cheap produce; and kebab shops open 'til very late.

Certainly the past year has been a rewarding one. I learnt a great deal; happily, mostly information which built on matters I already understood to some extent. Perhaps the greatest surprise was just how diverse the student population was. I met people from all over the world and from various different professional backgrounds and age groups. Notwithstanding that, most of the students came from affluent backgrounds. To give but one example, one of my flatmates was the child of one of the most powerful Israel lobbyists in the United States. Not to worry, there were no issues in the hall ways. Believe it or not, I'm not the type of person to bring politics into the private sphere, although I did enjoy wearing my Palestine and Malcolm X t-shirts heh.

What begins now is perhaps my fifth transitional phase. Sometimes I get a bit tired of the constant change of environ. I don't think I've been in one city for more than a year now for the past 4 years. But in truth I love it. Deep down I'm an intellectual nomad. Privilege and a Western upbringing have affored me this luxury. So I choose to live it up. Notwithstanding this, expect, in time, some challenging writings from some not-so-luxurious environs.

I remain committed to radical change and figuring out how to actualise said change. Oh and I'm still angry as ever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Occupation 101 - new doco screening in London

Don't miss our screenings of the newly released Occupation 101, an award-winning documentary film (90 min) that provides an objective and basic overview of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for anyone wanting a better understanding of the Middle East tragedy and why it's important to Americans in the U.S.! ... more

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A President in Sydney

In Australia we like to think we have a strong anti-authoritarian streak. Yet this trait rarely expresses itself outside the realms of sport and race politics. Prime Minister Howard won an election on the back of the statement that "we will decide" who will come into our country. Opposition sporting teams generally find Australian crowds intimidating in their energy and enthusiasm. But that energy and enthusiasm seems to dissipate when it comes to the elephant in the room: the lack of meaningful political leadership that has plagued this country for most of its history.

Ironically, this emptiness is best reflected in the way Australia relates to political leaders. As I write this the city of Sydney is under lock down for President Bush and the APEC summit. Many Australians have taken this opportunity to protest Bush and his criminal war in Iraq. But many others have decided simply that now is a good time to take a holiday. Most will suffer the inconvenience of having much of the metropolitan public infrastructure shut down peacefully and without complaint.

This is the type of society Australia is in 2007. Not entirely the most divided or devastated of countries in the world to be sure. But increasingly a society fractured along class and cultural divides where our collective silence acts as the divide itself.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Malcolm in Oxford

Listening to Malcolm speak always gets me charged. There is a precision to his speech that somehow channels anger into a powerful message of hope and resistance. He also reminds me how little the fundamental social issues have changed over time. But would we ever hear the current generation of 'leaders' speak like this? Could we ever imagine hearing Obama delivering a speech like this?

You can purchase a complete set of Malcolm's recorded speeches here. Buy it, distribute it, maintain the rage.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Pretender by Jackson Browne

I'm going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
Gonna pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again
Say it again

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening?
I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of an eye
When the morning light comes streaming in
You'll get up and do it again

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender.
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

I'm gonna find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we'll fill in the missing colors
In each other's paint-by-number dreams
And then we'll put our dark glasses on
And we'll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We'll get up and do it again
Get it up again

I'm gonna be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
where true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender.
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender.

Say a prayer for the pretender
Are you there for the pretender?
Say a prayer for the pretender
Are you there for the pretender?
Are you prepared for the pretender?