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16 June 2007

Chomsky and Herman on "20 Years of the Propaganda Model"

Discussion and Q&A from the recent event.

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Marlon Brando, Last Tango in Paris, "Paul's Eulogy"

This scene is possibly the greatest acting I've ever seen in any film. For those not familiar: Brando plays Paul, a "kept man" of sorts, whose wife has recently committed suicide. This film is phenomenally good, by the way.

15 June 2007

Hamas, Fatah, Israel, and the West: Álvaro de Soto's Leaked End-of-Mission Report

Link above is a PDF.

Amazing quote (p. 21, para. 56):

Before going on, I want to stress that, in effect, a National Unity Government [Hamas and Fatah] with a compromise platform along the lines of Mecca [the Saudi-brokered deal between Hamas and Fatah] might have been achieved soon after the election [January 2006], in February or March 2006, had the US not led the Quartet to set impossible demands, and opposed a NUG in principle. At the time, and indeed until the Mecca Agreement a year later, the US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fateh [sic -- alternate spelling] and Hamas -- so much so that, a week before Mecca, the US envoy [James Wolfensohn, I believe] declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much "I like this violence", referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because "it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas." Please remember this next time someone argues that the Mecca agreement, to the extent that it showed progress, proved that a year of pressure "worked", and we should keep the isolation going.
Amazing quote #2 (p. 32, para. 83):
The Middle East has substituted the Hindu Kush of the XIXth Century as the contemporary "Great Game". Membership in the Quartet gives the UN the illusion of having a seat at the table where it is being played out. Alas, it isn't being played out there. The Quartet has become a side show: because it is as much about managing trans-Atlantic relations as anything else, it is only partly about the Middle East, it isn't a very apt mechanism for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and other members don't necessarily use it for that purpose.
I'll stop here, but this report is devastating.

From Democracy Now!: A very interesting comment by the head of Electronic Intifada, paraphrased: We're dealing with Palestinian Contras, organized by Elliot Abrams.

Exactly. The Salvador option is alive and well.

Here's some more analysis on Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, yes, Iran.


"A 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists," By Bruce K. Gagnon

I often hear from people asking me, "What should we do about all this? How can we stop Bush?"

I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush. The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush. Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire building plan. It is about corporate domination. Bush is just the front man for the big money.

So to me that is step #1.

Step #2 is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and we as citizens, benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire. By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world's resources. We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base. This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

Step #3 is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence. The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery. A veteran of George Washington's Army, in 1779, said, "I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere....Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire." The soldier wrote this as Washington's Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River. The creation of the American empire was underway.

Our history since then has been endless war. Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket. Butler recalls in his book,

I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service....And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
Step #4 We have to begin to change how we think about our country. We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means. I'll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition -- A government in which power is in the hands of a few. When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back. This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience. Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women's suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed. Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today. Are you in or out?

Step #5 Forget the "every man for himself" mythology. We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story. But movement for change can only happen in community -- working with others. So forget the egocentric notion that "one great man" is going to come save us. It's going to take a village -- in fact all the villages. Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can't do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children's future.

Step #6 What about my job? Another smothering myth in America is success. Keep your nose clean and don't rock the boat. Don't get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you've always dreamed of. In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology. We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination. Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

Step #7 Learn to work well with others. Sure we all want to be stars. But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes. Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

Step #8 It's the money. How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage? I'd like to help but I've got bills to pay! Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time - which is protecting the future generations. How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

Step #9 Learn to read again. Many of us don't read enough. We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us. We've got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves. Reading and talking to others is a key. Read more history. All the answers and lessons can be found there.

Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun. Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work. Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

Bruce K. Gagnon is Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Write him at globalnet@mindspring.com.

14 June 2007

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(For Flag Day...)


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during
marriage and at its dissolution.

2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.

3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Chomsky, "Class War: The Attack on Working People," 1998

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Chomsky, "Free-Market Fantasies: Capitalism in the Real World," 1996

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Beckett/Minghella, Play, 2004

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13 June 2007

Gordon Wood, Brown U. Historian of America

1. On "Revolutionary Characters"...

2. On The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin...

3. On Benjamin Franklin with others...

No Man's Land, Harold Pinter, 1976

With John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.

Human, All Too Human: Nietzsche, BBC (1999)

Threads, 1984

Interestingly, this classic film on nuclear war (not Disneyfied like The Day After) assumes that a US coup d'etat in Iran brings in the Russians...hmmm....

Finkelstein Tenure Denial Case

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

12 June 2007

Audio Interview with Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1981

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., author of Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, Player Piano, Slapstick, Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan, and Cat's Cradle, talks with Don Swaim in 1981 about profanity, religion, agnosticism, freedom, censorship, living in New York and the dangers of carelessness.

Listen to the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. interview with Don Swaim, 1981
(23 min. 10 sec.)

Audio Interview with Gore Vidal, 1992

Gore Vidal, author of Burr, Hollywood, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge, and 1876, talks with Don Swaim about satire, watching movies, blasphemy, freedom of religion, politics, and his controversial novel, Live from Golgatha, in this 1992 interview.

Listen to the Gore Vidal interview with Don Swaim, 1992
(35 min. 10 sec.)

Finkelstein on Denial of Tenure and on '67

Noam Chomsky - Questions about Anarchism

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Free Voice of Labour -- The Jewish Anarchists

11 June 2007

Oliver Stone, Alexander, The Battle of Gaugamela

Part 1

Part 2

Click on YouTube logo to go to screen-maximizable version.

Does a good job of clearly describing the movements and counter-movements in this complex battle. Interesting quotations (musical and cinematographic) of Abel Gance (Napoleon), and it skirts self-parody, but a worthy attempt.

Faust, Jan Svankmajer, 1994

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet Soliloquies, 1996




III:1 ("To be or not to be...")


Mark Twain's 'Is Shakespeare Dead?'

Not just Twain; contemporary and also the original...great and funny:

Shakespeare revealed. Mark Twain's 'Is Shakespeare Dead?' debunks the myth that Shakespeare wrote the works of Shakespeare. Performed by all multiple-award- winning Canadian solo theatre artist, Keir Cutler, Ph. D. -- "A magnificently witty performance!" (Winnipeg Sun) "Highly entertaining and engrossing!" (EYE Weekly, Toronto) "Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony." (Montreal Gazette)

Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds

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Orson Welles: Man & Film

Part 1 of, I hope, more from this 1982 documentary:

Part 1

Orson Welles in F for Fake on Chartres

Orson Welles in the Basque Country

From a documentary, Around the World with Orson Welles.

Part 1

Part 2

Welles' Originally Intended Opening to Touch of Evil

Genetically Modified Food: Panacea or Poison?

Chalmers Johnson on his new book...

Conversations with History...

Manufacturing Consent, 1992

In case you missed it or need a refresher...

Chomsky, "The Government of the Future," 1970

Good shit.

David McWilliams interviews Noam Chomsky. November 4, 2001

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Greg Palast on the Battle to End Vulture Funds