Gaza Links

Sam provides a quick summary of events leading to the invasion of Gaza Strip by Israel:

Far more ominous is the suppression of information that directly affects the present conflict:

1. The ceasefire of the last 6 months was based on Israeli promises of lifting the crippling economic seige imposed since 2006, when Hamas won the elections.

Tony Kamron interviews Avrum Burg, former speaker of the Israeli legislature who takes a refreshing, introspective and long term view of what Israel has come to be:

I have very low expectations of new thinking and insight emerging from the mainstream Israeli and Jewish establishment. Their role is to maintain the status quo. Israel is bereft of forward thinking. We are experts at managing the crisis rather than finding alternatives to the crisis. In Israel you have many tanks, but not many think tanks. One of the reasons I left the Israeli politics was my growing feeling that Israel became a very efficient kingdom, but with no prophecy. Where is it going?

(link via Ve Balaji)
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‘Turtles Can Fly’, a Kurdish Film by Bahman Ghobadi

One thing that does not make news about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is their debilitating impact on children. ‘Turtles Can Fly‘, (2005) a film made by Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi, brings attention to that inglorious facet of war.

After watching this movie one shudders at the realization of how a whole generation, scarred, scalded, mutilated by war, is growing up in the middle east and other parts of the world.

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When US Planned to attack Saudi Arabia

David Harvey, in his A Brief History of Neo- liberalism points to an interesting bit of history, when the United States contemplated attacking Saudi Arabia during the oil crisis of 1973.

The OPEC oil price hike that came with the oil embargo of 1973 placed vast amounts of financial power at the disposal of the oil-producing states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi. We now know from British intelligence reports that the US was actively preparing to invade these countries in 1973 in order to restore the flow of oil and bring down oil prices. We also know that Continue reading

There are no Flying Carpets in Baghdad anymore

In the story The Thief of Baghdad, Prince Ahmad’s friend Abu steals a flying carpet to help his friend escape from the clutches of the evil vizier Jaffar. For most people of Iraq, however, there are no flying carpets to escape from the clutches of a mindless war that has unleashed too many evil jinns seemingly impossible to put back in the bottle. After five years of the invasion, the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussain seems preferable even to some of its critics.

Aljazeera reporter Rageh Omaar returns to Iraq after five years and reports the state of the country and its people. Just the scale of the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the war is revolting, just as its barbarism is. A very touching piece of reportage.



Watch Part 2 and Part 3 too. The last one covers the stories of the refugees from Iraq- that number 1.5 million into Syria alone.

The World’s Most Armed Country

We all know about the big arms race during the Cold War and the drain it was on the economies of especially the former socialist bloc. While the United States continues to be the dominant military power, it is not a surprise that it is also the most armed country as far as the civilian population is concerned. India comes a distant second. The cause of the rising per capita arms is attributed to…rising affluence!

The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

“There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people,” it said.

India had the world’s second-largest civilian gun arsenal, with an estimated 46 million firearms outside law enforcement and the military, though this represented just four guns per 100 people there. China, ranked third with 40 million privately held guns, had 3 firearms per 100 people.

Germany, France, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil and Russia were next in the ranking of country’s overall civilian gun arsenals.

On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry behind the United States, with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38.

France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were next, each with about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.

“Firearms are very unevenly distributed around the world. The image we have of certain regions such as Africa or Latin America being awash with weapons — these images are certainly misleading,” Small Arms Survey director Keith Krause said.

“Weapons ownership may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means we need to think about future demand in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income,” he told a Geneva news conference.

War as a Weather Report?

The BBC has started a weekly report monitoring the Iraq war. It will not be long before some smart Alec starts a weekly forecasting service as well.
Mutilated bodies are still a familiar sight in Baghdad hospitals.

Al-Yarmouk reported 46 bodies were brought in, all beheaded. The victims included men, women and children – eight from one family. Other victims included four members of staff from the electricity ministry and 15 from the police force.

At al-Kindi, 15 victims killed in violence were reported – eight less than the previous week. At both hospitals, the numbers wounded in violent incidents rose on last week’s total.

Al-Kindi hospital also reported that the number of patients treated for common illnesses was between 500 and 600 a day, while the hospital used to treat 800 a day before the US-led invasion in 2003. Baghdad’s forensic department reported that between 1 July and 16 July it had received an additional 270 bodies that had not been claimed by relatives.

Link via Tabsir, a fascinating blog that I have been following for sometime.

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