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July 2013

Chomsky praises Snowden and condemns US hypocrisy

Typ­i­cally elo­quent Noam Chom­sky, speak­ing this week­end at the Geneva Press Club:

My own opin­ion is that Snow­den should be hon­ored. He was doing what every cit­i­zen ought to do, telling. [Ap­plause] He was telling Amer­i­cans what the gov­ern­ment was doing. That’s what’s sup­posed to hap­pen.

Gov­ern­ments as I men­tioned be­fore al­ways plead se­cu­rity no mat­ter what’s going on. The re­flex­ive de­fense is se­cu­rity. But any­one who’s looked at– first of all, you take a look at what he ex­posed. At least any­thing that’s been pub­lished, it’s not any kind of threat to se­cu­rity, with one ex­cep­tion, the se­cu­rity of the gov­ern­ment from its own pop­u­la­tion. And in fact if you look at any­one who’s spent any time por­ing through de­clas­si­fied records– I have, I’m sure many of you have– you find that over­whelm­ingly the se­cu­rity is the se­cu­rity of the state from its own pop­u­la­tion and that’s why things have to be kept se­cret.

There are some cases where there’s au­then­tic se­cu­rity con­cerns. But they’re pretty lim­ited.

The plea of the US gov­ern­ment in this case for the sur­veil­lance and so on, is that it’s se­cu­rity against ter­ror. But at the very same mo­ment the US pol­icy is de­signed in a way to in­crease ter­ror. The US it­self is car­ry­ing out the most awe­some in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist cam­paign, ever, I sup­pose– the drones and spe­cial forces cam­paign. That’s a major ter­ror­ist cam­paign, all over the world, and it’s also gen­er­at­ing ter­ror­ists. You can read that and hear that from the high­est sources, Gen­eral Mc­Chrys­tal and schol­ars and all, so on.

Of course the drone cam­paign is cre­at­ing po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists, and you can eas­ily un­der­stand why. I mean, if you were walk­ing through the streets of Geneva and you don’t know whether five min­utes from now there’s going to be an ex­plo­sion across the street that’s run a cou­ple thou­sand of miles away and it will blow away some peo­ple and who ever else hap­pens to be around– you’re ter­ror­ized. And you don’t like it. And you may de­cide to react. That’s hap­pen­ing all over the re­gions that are sub­jected to the Obama ter­ror cam­paign.

So you can’t se­ri­ously on the one hand be not only car­ry­ing out mas­sive ter­ror but even  gen­er­at­ing po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists against your­self and claim that we have to have mas­sive sur­veil­lance to pro­tect our­selves against ter­ror. That’s a joke. It should be head­lines.

Then comes the in­ter­est­ing ques­tion of ex­tra­di­tion. The US has just an­nounced again that they’re going to pun­ish any­body who re­fuses to ex­tra­dite Snow­den.

At the same time the US is one of the leaers in re­fus­ing ex­tra­di­tion. Bo­livia is an in­ter­est­ing case. The US has im­posed pres­sure at least… to try to block the Bo­li­vian plane be­cause they want Snow­den ex­tra­dited. For years Bo­livia has been try­ing to ex­tra­dite from the United States the for­mer pres­i­dent who’s al­ready in­dicted in Bo­livia for all sorts of crimes. The US re­fuses to ex­tra­dite him.

In fact it’s hap­pen­ing right in Eu­rope. Italy has been try­ing to ex­tra­dite 22 CIA agents who were in­volved and in fact in­dicted for par­tic­i­pat­ing in a kid­nap­ing in Milan. They kid­naped some­body, sent him off I think to Egypt to be tor­tured.  And agreed later he was innno­cent…

Ex­tra­dite the peo­ple in­volved, the US of course re­fuses. And there’s case after case like this… There are a lot of cases where the U.S. just re­fuses…

In fact one of the most strik­ing cases is Latin Amer­ica, again, not just Bo­livia. One of the world’s lead­ing ter­ror­ists is Luis Posada, who was in­volved in blow­ing up a Cubana air­liner which killed 73 peo­ple and lots of other ter­ror­ist acts. He’s sit­ting hap­pily in… Miami, and his col­league Rolando Bosch also a major ter­ror­ist… is hap­pily there…  Cuba and Venezuela are try­ing to ex­tra­dite them. But you know. Fat chance.

So for the U.S. to be call­ing for oth­ers to ex­tra­dite Snow­den is let’s say a lit­tle ironic. Again, these ought to be head­lines.

100 Million Dollars And 6 Months To Live

“Called both ‘brilliantly funny’ and ‘mentally unbalanced’ by Simpsons
co-creator Matt Groening, television writer-producer Sam Simon, 58, has
become known throughout Hollywood for his philanthropy since leaving the
iconic animated series in 1993 (he retained a highly lucrative
executive producer title). A Stanford grad who grew up in Beverly Hills
and Malibu — and rose in the industry at a young age to become the
showrunner of Taxi at 24 — Simon confesses, ‘I don’t know,’ when it
comes to estimating his charitable donations to date.”*

would you do if you had millions of dollars and six months to live? Cenk
Uygur (@cenkuygur) and Ana Kasparian (@anakasparian) break it down.

*Read more:…

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

The Syrian Museum series created for the ‘Syria’ exhibition incorporates iconic subjects from the greatest European masters such as da Vinci, Matisse, Goya and Picasso – paralleling the greatest achievements of humanity with the destruction it is also capable of inflicting. Each is particularly relevant to what has befallen Syria. ‘The Syrian Museum’ series uses Western masterpieces not only for their notoriety and instant recognition, but to demonstrate that Syria has no world-class museums and the regime is presently killing its own cultural heritage. Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ shows the love and relationship between people and I have juxtaposed this with the capacity of hate the regime holds for its people. A work from this series which has gained international popularity on social networking sites is ‘Freedom Graffiti’. Featured on Saatchi’s Facebook page, this work recieved over 15,000 likes overnight and has been featured in such publications as the NY Times and the International Herald Tribune.This digital composition appropriates Gustave Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ upon a bullet-ridden wall, displaying the love and relationship between people and I have juxtaposed this with the capacity of hate the regime holds for its people.

text by Tammam Azzam

  Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss (Freedom Graffiti) | 2013 | archival print on cotton paper edition of 25 | 112 X 112 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian Women (On the Beach) | 2012 | archival print on canvas 45 x 40 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Edvard Munch’s The Scream | 2012 | archival print on canvas 100 x 70 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Matisse’s La Danse | 2012 | archival print on canvas | 45 x 60 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Dali’s Sleep | 2012 | archival print on canvas | 40 x 40 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Goya’s The 3rd of May 1808 | 2012 | archival print on canvas | 100 x 133 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Van Gogh’s Starry Night | 70 X 100 cm. Archival Print on Canvas | 2012

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Andy Warhol’s Elvis | 2012 | archival print on canvas | 80 x 120 cm

Tammam Azzam: Syrian museum

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa | 2012 | archival print on canvas | 100 x 130 cm


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Tammam Azzam
Tammam Azzam

Born in 1980, Damascus, Syria Lives and works in Dubai, UAE
Tammam Azzam graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus with a concentration in Oil Painting and subsequently obtained a Fine Arts Certificate in 2001 from Darat al Funun’s Al Kharif Academy, an esteemed artist workshop series led by Syrian master, Marwan Kassab Bashi. Since joining the Shabab Ayyam Young Artists Programme in 2008, he has been featured in several significant events including the group show, ‘Stories from the Levant’, Scope Art Fair, Basel, in 2009, and Art Miami 2010, and has held solo exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery, Damascus in 2010 and Dubai in 2011 and 2012.

Misconceptions: Syrian Uprising | Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi |

A good Onion

Click on image
Economists: People Who Paint Selves Silver And Pretend To Be Statues Make Average Of $10 Million Per Year

Economists at Harvard University released a new study this week indicating that Americans who paint themselves silver and pretend to be statues in public spaces make, on average, $10 million per year.

A Poem From Guantánamo: “Ode to the Sea” by Ibrahim al-Rubaish


The following poem was chosen by Marc Falkoff, editor of Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak, as an example of a poem, which, as he described in an interview with me on Nth Position (and here), is “striking in terms of imagery, metaphor and thematic complexity.” The former detainee (he was released from Guantánamo in December 2006) is described as follows in an introduction to the poem:

“Ibrahim al-Rubaish was teaching in Pakistan when he was arrested by mercenaries and sold to allied forces. A religious scholar who dislikes hostility and was once a candidate for a judgeship, Rubaish has a daughter, born just three months before he was captured, who is now five years old. During a military administrative hearing, he was told, ‘If you are considered to be a continued threat, you will be detained. If you are not considered a threat, we will recommend release. Why should we consider releasing you?’ Rubaish’s response was, ‘In the world of international courts, the person is innocent until proven guilty. Why, here, is the person guilty until proven innocent?’”

By Ibrahim al-Rubaish

O sea, give me news of my loved ones.

Were it not for the chains of the faithless, I would have dived into you,
And reached my beloved family, or perished in your arms.

Your beaches are sadness, captivity, pain, and injustice.
Your bitterness eats away at my patience.

Your calm is like death, your sweeping waves are strange.
The silence that rises up from you holds treachery in its fold.

Your stillness will kill the captain if it persists,
And the navigator will drown in your waves.

Gentle, deaf, mute, ignoring, angrily storming,
You carry graves.

If the wind enrages you, your injustice is obvious.
If the wind silences you, there is just the ebb and flow.

O sea, do our chains offend you?
It is only under compulsion that we daily come and go.

Do you know our sins?
Do you understand we were cast into this gloom?

O sea, you taunt us in our captivity.
You have colluded with our enemies and you cruelly guard us.

Don’t the rocks tell you of the crimes committed in their midst?
Doesn’t Cuba, the vanquished, translate its stories for you?

You have been beside us for three years, and what have you gained?
Boats of poetry on the sea; a buried flame in a burning heart.

The poet’s words are the font of our power;
His verse is the salve for our pained hearts.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed.

– See more at:

and see what happened : Ibrahim al-Rubaish’s ‘Ode to the Sea’ Pulled from Calicut University Syllabus

9/11 – The Truth In 5 Minutes – James Corbett



Syria’s Paolo Dall’Oglio petition

My name is Paolo Dall’Oglio, I am a Jesuit, and for more than thirty years I have promoted in Syria the Islamic-Christian harmony-building.

I took a position in favor of the Syrian democrats crushed by an inhuman and indiscriminate repression that I was hoping not to have to see in the twenty-first century. I was expelled in June 2012, and have since been working full-time in defending the rights of Syrians and the legitimacy of their revolution.

Today we know that Syria is the ring of a regional geopolitical fight to death. In all this, the Churches have not been able to react in time, and Christians, now trapped in the war zones, simply tend to leave the country.

Unfortunately, the Syrian regime has been very clever in using a certain number of clergymen, men and women, for its propaganda in the West, in which it represents itself as the only and ultimate bastion defending Christians persecuted by Islamic terrorism.

This manipulation of the public opinion has succeeded in discrediting to a large extent the Syrian revolutionary effort, both on the ground and abroad, in the eyes of many citizens around the world, and was thus able to create a paralysis of European diplomacy and politics, which ultimately only strengthens the most extremist groups and weakens the civil society.

The strong and instrumental implication of the Churches in the systematic manipulation of lies by the regime cannot but require a conscious and responsible reaction on behalf of the Catholic Church and therefore of the Pope of Rome. The petition I present to your attention will show the most cohesive and mature face of the Italian and international society, and will allow Pope Francis to overcome the resistance of his context which tends to be islamophobic, though often in a typically subtle and indirect way, and to launch his own diplomatic initiative, requesting the intervention of new actors such as Latin America.

This my petition, which is now yours, presents to the Pope the need to counter the current systematic use by the regime of clergymen among the most important in the Middle East, in order to look beyond and meet the expectations of all Syrians who are suffering for freedom, and to prepare a positive future for those Christians who will choose to remain in the country or return.


Here my letter to Pope Francis:

Dear and most esteemed Pope Francis,

Knowing you as a lover of peace in justice, we ask you to personally promote an urgent and inclusive diplomatic initiative for Syria which would ensure the end of the torturous and murdering regime, safeguard the unity in diversity of the country, and allow by means of democratic self-determination with international assistance to exit from the war between armed extremisms.

We ask with confidence Pope Francis to personally inquire about the systematic manipulation of the catholic opinion in the world by accomplices of the Syrian regime, especially clergymen, with the intention to radically deny the democratic revolution, and justify with the excuse of terrorism the repression that is increasingly acquiring genocide character.

191 Dead as Details of Horrific Khanasser Massacre Continue to Emerge

                Mark Bei ● Thursday Jul 25, 2013 at 12:37am

Activists have uncovered details of a horrific massacre that left as many as 191 civilians dead in the southern town of Khanasser on Saturday 22nd of June, reportedly perpetrated by Hezbollah militants and Abul Fadel Al-Abbas Brigade.

    Update #2  

Massacre Victims Were Reportedly Burned Alive and Thrown in Wells

Halab News, a network of media activists in Aleppo, is now reporting that victims of Khanasser Massacre were either burned alive or thrown to their deaths in the towns’ wells, according to testimonies given to the news networks by those who survived the horrific massacre.

21 Families among Massacred in Impoverished Khanasser Town

As activists continue to uncover more details regarding the massacre that took place on the 22nd of June in Rassm Al-Nafel, a small impoverished town of 1,600 located in the southern Aleppo region of Khansser, new reports that emerged following interviews with survivors claim that 21 families were among the 191 deaths, and that the brutal massacre was perpetrated by Hezbollah Militants, along with Abul Fadel Al-Abbass Brigade, a Shiite militia that is fighting alonside the Assad regime in several areas.


        Updated at Jul 25, 2013 at 2:27am

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