“Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilise, bring order and democracy and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest ‘mission civilisatrice.’”—
Edward Said, in the Preface to Orientalism (via trastorn)
man, what did the world lose when we lost this man. RIP Edward Said.
The Viva Palestina convoy of almost 150 vehicles, 370 people from 30 different countries and $5 million of aid has entered Gaza.
Amidst scenes of jubilation from thousands of Palestinians there to greet the convoy, Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director, expressed his joy at being in Gaza once again. “We have driven more than 3,000 miles to bring this essential aid and to break this illegal siege of Gaza. We have been joined by supporters from Morocco and Algeria and from the Gulf States and Jordan, to make this the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice.”
The convoy set out four weeks and five days ago from London. It travelled through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. Everywhere the reception was fantastic and the generosity of well-wishers unsurpassed. Towards the end there was a frustrating delay in Syria whilst negotiations at the highest levels were conducted with the Egyptian authorities. In the end it was all worth it as the Egyptian authorities decided to allow passage of the whole convoy, sadly excluding just 17 members of the convoy including George Galloway.
The convoy will be handed over in its entirety to the relevant bodies tomorrow and the members of the convoy then expect to leave Gaza and return home in the next 48 hours after celebrations and formal thanks are given.
“There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change — and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”—Noam Chomsky (via mohandasgandhi)
The NYT’s account of systemic use of torture largely by Shiites on Sunnis, revealed in the Wikileaks doc-dump, is here. It’s horrifying - along the lines of Abu Ghraib and Bagram, but also, in many cases, even worse and cruder. It occurred during US occupation of the country; although most of the torture was perpetrated by Iraqi security forces, and although on occasion American forces prevented torture, some occurred under American control, and there was inevitable enmeshment as they fought alongside:
The documents show that Americans did sometimes use the threat of abuse by Iraqi authorities to get information out of prisoners. One report said an American threatened to send a detainee to the notorious Wolf Brigade, a particularly violent Iraqi police unit, if he did not supply information.
The forces that conducted these horrific acts are the forces we are handing the country over to. History will harshly judge this war, and those of us who supported it, its long-term strategic effect, and so forth. In particular, it appears, that one of the main actors was Iran, and Iran has emerged as the core winner. But the hell unleashed by the incompetent occupation led to over 100,000 often gruesome civilian deaths in what was a nation-wide bloodbath of almost frenzied proportions.
I think it can be said, now more forcefully than ever, that whatever moral legitimacy this war once had is now gone forever.
It was worse than a mistake. It was, in many ways, a crime.
vruz: time for war crime tribunals, Bush, Blair and Cheney. doesn’t matter you’re a friend of the nazi pope, Tony.
now you see why robert gates hates wikileaks so much.
it’ll seriously be the day when the Bush Admin. and the policy-makers responsible for orchestrating the lie that was the invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent civil disintegration and sectarian chaos, are finally held responsible for their actions, put on trial, and, most importantly, are found guilty and punished for all their evils.
The unidentified former soldier was shielded behind a wood-and-plastic partition, and his testimony about the events leading up to Corrie’s death were relayed into the courtroom over a microphone.
“I wish I could see the whole human being,” Cindy Corrie said before the testimony began, her voice shaking.
Three witnesses were to testify on Thursday, but Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Haifa, said that only one gave testimony as “at the last moment the judge said he didn’t have time for three witnesses”.
She also said that the driver “couldn’t even remember the time of day that Rachel was killed,” which was very difficult for Corrie’s parents to hear.
“I haven’t heard one moment of remorse, and to me, that’s one of the saddest things,” said Cindy Corrie during a break in the proceedings.
The Corries are suing the government for the symbolic amount of $1, saying that Corrie’s “unlawful killing” denied her her “basic human rights”.
They have also accused the government of “gross negligence”.
Corrie was protesting against Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah, close to the border with Egypt, when she was killed.
There aren’t any words to describe how much this story has left me. I’ve been keeping up with it ever since it made headlines on Al Jazeera. I haven’t even seen it make any headlines on any American-based news network. My heart sinks to my stomach. I pray that justice will be served because this is heartbreaking. I cannot wait until I finish my studies to stand next to my Palestinian brothers and sisters that have dealt with injustice and neglect for 40 years too long.
Sadly, i don’t. But i wish i did, after looking at it, that seems like another community i want to explore. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. Once i start my creative juices, I’ll let you know my Dreamwidth account. Oh, please do share me yours! Thanks!
Do you ever feel that the things you study in University are too big for you? That there are concepts and ideas that, for a while, seem impossible to conquer?
I'm going through this rut right now. You're an intellectual I respect and I just wondered if that was something you face or have faced. And if it was an issue, how you dealt with it?
A title I don’t deserve, but i’m honoured you feel that way. I’ll try my best to live up to your expectations.
To be entirely honest, I still feel that way very often about theories I have to grapple with now in university. It doesn’t help much either that the subject matter i’m dealing with is pretty heavy to begin with. You see, i’m a philosophy minor (lol don’t get the wrong idea, i’m a disgrace to the discipline the way i struggle) and there’s been a couple of courses and theories that really gave me a hard time. I felt like the stuff was beyond me, and as such, that it isn’t something i should be trying to understand. Taken further, the insecurities pushed me to question whether i’m even fit for university at all because of the way i struggled. i hated that feeling.
One thing i did which i regret much was the fact that i would isolate myself in class. you see, in addition to being pretty shy, the fact that i didn’t understand things sometimes made me too embarrassed to ever mention anything to anyone, ever. the reality is, if you’re feeling one way, chances are quite a few others are struggling with similar conscious battles. This is university, don’t believe people when they say they understand it all on the spot, very few understand everything immediately and many things are by nature confusing. but know that the confusion is a good thing. it shows that your mind is crunching away at something, that it’s ticking. and it’s natural to feel that something is impossible to conquer when your battling it silently in your mind; believe me, the power of discourse is incredible. speaking things out, having someone else’s input does wonders for comprehension and understanding. they may see it a different way, you may see it similarly; all you may need is for them to utter one word to initiate a series of synapses in your head and your imagination will take care of the rest; you’ll have the concept conquered in no time.
If that doesn’t help or if you feel you can’t communicate with your class and that your only option is to duke it out with the theory on your own, know that it’s entirely possible to conquer it on your own. Some things i realized after many failed attempts at better comprehension were small methods people often overlook. Simple things like taking these impossible to conquer concepts in pieces and working through them slowly and meticulously. Even if you have to, put it aside for a night; come back the next morning and face the problem with a fresh mind, it really helps. Other methods include if its a bunch of successive points that make up the whole; step a way and see if you can conceptualize the whole. Once that’s grasped the intricacies fall into place. Or if it’s a theory, chances are someones written a criticism or commentary on it, see what they have to say and they might fill in the blanks or resolve your uncertainties. Seeking supplementary sources will only help your understanding.
I really hope these generalized suggestions helped. Honestly, if you need clarification or anything don’t hesitate to email me (the email is: firstname.lastname@example.org). Actually i’d really prefer that, that way i can actually be of service, like if you let me know precisely what you’re struggling with maybe i can help with a more precise solution? That’s always an option too, alright? fire me an email whenever.
The last thing I’ll tell you though, and this is the most important thing, is your attitude when dealing with these trying theories. I’m sure you already know this but always have confidence in yourself and in your abilities; never doubt what you can do for the moment you start thinking on that path the concept will already have got the better of you. so always, always, always believe in your potential. It’s exponential. Ok, so maybe you’re like me and you lack self-confidence and esteem? let me get you started, and believe me i’m being entirely earnest when i tell you this, but you, my friend, are brilliant. You really are, and never forget it. Approach the problem with this realization and a clear & open mind, and maybe even try to follow some of the advice i gave above, and i guarantee you that you’ll have whatever theories you’re struggling with aced.
and as i mentioned above, don’t hesitate to email me, just tell me what’s up and i’ll do my best to help you out in any way (albeit it might be a slightly slow response, but i’ll get back to you as soon as i can)!
Anyway, i hope this all helped somehow. All the best with your studies, anon. Take care!
John Powell - Coming Back Around [How To Train Your Dragon OST]
I have an obsession with OST’s, and after watching Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon i’ve become particularly fond of Powell’s score for the entire movie (it doesn’t help that it’s on repeat at work, i’m not complaining though lol). Anyway, here’s one piece from the movie. Enjoy!
oh and if you haven’t seen the movie already, go see it. it’ll change the way you imagine Dreamworks films from now on. It certainly raised the bar for their future work, i think we have every right to get excited about Dreamworks films in the future.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – As of October 19th, the Humanities Faculty at the University of Puerto Rico, is occupied!
Before the warmth of the morning sun came, the students of the Humanities Action Committee (CAH) of the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras campus, blocked passage to the classrooms of the Humanities Department with trash cans, desks, chairs and even plant pots to interrupt administrative labor and give way to humanistic and educational expression against the $800 fee that will be implemented on January 2011.
As the sun came up, and the physical occupation and paralyzation of the administration was guaranteed, some classes were given outside at Antonia Plaza, meanwhile the cultural activities of the day began with a web of strings, experimental music and an open microphone for students that wished to express themselves against the fee. The activities of the day included a dialogue about the fee’s impact and tactics for struggle, flute workshops, among other things. These activities would go on all day.
A giant web that extends across the Plaza calls attention to the students and demonstrators. From this web hang quotes from famous humanists with the purpose of continuing the student struggle for an accessible university of excellence and a better country, said the demonstrators.
For their part, the Fine Arts Department, which is also within Humanities, woke up barricaded with a sign that said “Closed due to bad administration”.
The occupation of the Humanities Department responds to an unanimous vote favoring the occupation at the Student’s Assembly celebrated this past October 14th.
Organizers of the CAH confirmed that this fee presents an imminent threat to the educational access for thousands of students of the university system and have begun delineating further actions that will revert this administrative policy.
Next Thursday the Social Sciences and Education departments will be occupied, after having both approved in the assembly.
Original Spanish article written by Gamelyn Oduardo with many great pictures here.
Translator’s note: Both the rhetoric and the organizing methods of the UPR students since April seem interesting provided the conversations, splits, and frustrations that have come up in California, NYC, etc. Many of their tools (assemblies, call for reforms, etc.) are tools that some people in the US would say are in direct contradiction with what radical ends are which is at the same time what the UPR students are doing on the ground: shutting down departments, opening space for free unmanaged expression, widening struggle. Does this mean that “liberal” forms of organizing actually can come out as radical gestures? Or is the UPR students’ form of organizing gonna be absorbed in the future as would be expected? Or is their context too different from the context in the US to answer such questions?
In any case, one point I’d like to make is that UPR students are not homogeneous in their stance, and there are many different approaches and stances, and I’d imagine, disagreements that have come up among their mostly successful occupations.
J R, a mysterious worldwide “photograffeur” (graffeur is French for graffiti artist), travels to slums around the world and paints “colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods.” Aside from winning a highly renowned philanthropic prize, TED also grants the winner a chance to make a “wish”: to devote the $100,000 in funds to a humanitarian project that will almost inevitably draw in donations. (4fr, rebeka21)
Instead of new hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, family farmers in West Africa said they want to use local seeds, avoid spending precious cash on chemicals and most importantly to direct public agricultural research to meet their needs, according to a multi-media publication released on World Food Day (Oct. 16).
“There is a clear vision from these small farmers. They are rejecting the approach of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa,” said report co-author Michel Pimbert of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a non-profit research institute based in London.
“These were true farmer-led assessment where small farmers and other food producers listened and questioned agricultural and other experts and then came up with their own recommendations,” Pimbert told IPS.
THIS is progress. Self-efficiency and sustainability instead of dependence. This is good.