Sunday, June 28, 2009

Did the Pasdaran kill Michael Jackson?

Since the disputed Iranian election on June 12th, every major English and French news network available in Canada has been dominated by the story, with hourly, if not quarter-hourly updates on the protests and the government's responses.

If you've been wondering why I haven't weighed in on the subject (and I assume that you have been wondering exactly that), it's partly because I have little to say that isn't already being said. That fantastic British journalist Robert Fisk has been in Iran, and I recommend his columns in the Independent for some analysis that cuts through the jungle of Twitters and the forest of TV news coverage.

Thursday night, however, something happened that pushed the Iranian story from the main headline to the second or third story on the news - Michael Jackson had died. Ever since, it's all that English broadcasters seem interested in (although, as usual, French media seem to offer just a bit more depth).

Rather convenient for the Iranians, eh? In fact, suspiciously convenient . . .

Seriously speaking, it really says something about our culture, when an ongoing crisis with profound implications for the geopolitics of the Middle East and the fates of millions of people is displaced in our consciousness by a man who was famous for singing some catchy tunes, dressing up in funny clothes, building a small theme park, molesting some children, and having a heart attack at the age of 50.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"God is the Light
Of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light
Is as if there were a Niche
And within it a Lamp:
The Lamp enclosed in Glass
The glass as it were
A brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed Tree,
An Olive, neither of the East,
Nor of the West,
Whose Oil is well-nigh
Though fire scarce touched it:
Light upon Light!
God doth guide
Whom He will
To His Light:
God doth set forth Parables
For men: and God
Doth know all things.

"(Lit is such a Light)
In houses, which God
Hath permitted to be raised
To honour; for the celebration,
In them, of His name:
In them is He glorified
In the mornings and
In the evenings, (again and again) -

"By men who neither
Traffic nor merchandise
Can divert from the Rememberance
Of God, nor from regular Prayer,
Nor from the practice
Of regular Charity:
Their (only) fear is
For the Day when
Hearts and eyes
Will be transformed
(In a whorld wholly new) . . . "

-Qur'an, Surah XXIV, "Light," v.35-37, trans: A. Yusuf Ali.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

What wasn't seen when Mr. Obama went to Cairo

Another astute article from the fantastic Robert Fisk:

A glimpse of Obama in a Cairo emptied of its people and its poor

It seems like an almost universal phenomenon in this age - when foreign dignitaries come to visit, the local population is held away by fences and riot police at a tremendous distance, to save the guests the offence of having to see them.

Or in Obama's case, to keep at bay any reminder that the men he embraces torture their subjects at his own government's behest.

The POTUS wasn't being protected from danger, I was sure. He was being protected from the words these Egyptians might utter, from their views of the Arab world, of Egypt, from their views, perhaps, on the nature of democracy amid all these cops and security lads. They might have spoken of corruption and nepotism and violence. But the POTUS never saw them. Anyway, he had too tight a schedule: there were words to utter across town, about human rights and justice in what he called "the timeless city of Cairo". Timeless yes. And its people silent.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shorter Moshe Arens

Article: So what's your solution?

Israel can't give the Palestinians a state until they agree to stop resisting the occupation and admit that Jews should have more rights than they do.

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