Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 2012

Pretty long, Dry seasons days in “harsh-living” Lebanon

Note: Re-edit of “Sample day’s tasks in this “harsh-living” Lebanon, 2012″

I used to write consistently my diary for over four years, until my computer broke down and never replaced it.

It is hard living in Lebanon.

The main problem is that the conditions are deteriorating fast, and there are no resolutions in sight, not even in the long-term prospect.

Talk of keeping and sustaining any hope in this archaic multi-theocratic and pseudo State since 1943 is helpless.

This post is a sample day’s tasks in this “harsh-living” Lebanon during the dry seasons.

Saturday May 26, 2012, the next day of the “Tahrir Day” (kicking the Israeli occupiers out of south Lebanon, without any single precondition and unilaterally, after 25 years of ugly occupation).

6 am: Woke up and heard the water motor pumping water to the water tanks, four stories up. Dad insists on doing it personally, and refuses to install an automatic device to perform this task. (Actually, dad use this time to smoke freely, while waiting)

After dad secures that the tanks are filled enough, he fills several gallons with “potable water” done in the basement floor,.. and he rejoins his bed. It is hopeless to repeat to dad to postpone this non-essential task that early.

I made the effort to wake up that early in order to water the upper sections of the garden. Dad gets very upset of using up water for gardening: We purchase water tanks every couple of weeks during the 7-month dry season because public water does not reach residencies, not even in the winter season. What’s the story?

The excuse is that the water reservoir in Dbayeh, on the sea-shore, was leaking and it had to be fixed for the last three days. The reservoir is fixed, but there is no electricity to pump the water up 600 meters to where we are located.

Lebanon barely generate electricity to satisfy 3 hours of daily consumption, and we rely on private providers with generators. We pay twice for electricity and for water…

Now, why water has to be pumped up, instead of reaching us by gravity from higher altitudes?

It turned out that there are reservoirs perched up in Bhaness, and the water pipes bring water from the Keserwan district. The district of North Metn buys 30,000 cubic meters per day from Keserwan, but the inhabitants in Keserwan lack water too! How that?

A large dam (Sadd Shabrouh) was built there 3 years ago, and this winter was generous in rain, about 790 mm, and still no water reaching homes…

The water employees in the North Metn open the pipes, and the employees in Keserwan close it. After 5 attempts, the family of Zoghaib in Keserwan posted a man with a rifle to prevent any “tampering with the valves“…

How do I know these pieces of intelligence?

After 7 days of no water reaching homes, I decided to go with my brother-in-law to the nearest water reservoir or water station in Hbouss (in Kornet Chehwan) and filled two dozen empty gallons. A van carrying three dozen empty gallons preceded us to the water station, and we got into talking with the station employee Wadi3...

As a side story, Wadi3 told us that their monthly stipend for transportation was reduced to $40 per month or about 10 gallons of gas. The ministry learned that the 3 employees had decided on shifts to sleep over in the station in order to save on car gas…

6:20  Had coffee and a cigarette and got back in bed. I opted for a pronate position (stomach down) for a change. I realized that my occasional wet dreams occur in the supine position…

7 am Started my daily physical exercises of 45 minutes. Mainly four sessions of the stretching kinds, in bed and on my feet.

Mind you that I invest almost three hours of hard physical work per day on the garden, filtering water to drink to two families in the building of about 10 persons, and walking two miles to the nearest library, rain or shine, where I have access to internet connection to publish the posts that you occasionally read.

It is so hard to walk in the hot dry seasons: I much prefer the cold wet winter season of barely 3 months.

The trouble when it rains is that cars do not stop to pick me up. and accelerate to splash water on you…Must look pretty off the customs of the neighborhood…walking, instead of driving 4-wheel new cars…

Mostly driven by women who are in a hurry, going nowhere in general, and occasionally picking up kids in expensive private schools…

7:45 Went up to my sister’s floor (has internet) and published 2 posts. I take the opportunity of using the kids connected computer when they are asleep, early morning and after 11 pm, and when the library is closed…The kids prefer to use the computer to watch TV series, downloaded on USB…

9 am Descended to the ground floor to filter potable water. This floor was used during the civil war as precarious shelter…and I mopped the floor: Nobody cares of the conditions on this floor…where my brother-in-law decided to use up most of the rooms to store clothes for his broke “business”.

Too many competitors in the retail clothing business, mostly imported from China and Turkey…

9:30 Worked in the garden. Watered the lower sections, gathered parsley for tomorrow tabouli (the traditional national salad with crushed wheat), gathered debris from the garden that mother insists on keeping it “clean”, trimmed the roses, and planted a few pots that Victor bring down from his “roof garden“…fed the chicken and cleaned the shed…

11:30 Paid a visit to my aunt Marie’s shop and bought 2 kilo of sugar and 7 loaves of bread weighting 900 grammes. The bread pack used to contain 8 loaves but the ministry of “economy” refused to subsidize the flour and insisted on keeping the price one dollar…

12 am Brought up dishes to my sister’s family of what mother cooked and carried down a bowl of cherries: Victor had bought a carton of tiny cherries that no one is eating and no one is in the mood of working on the cherries for transforming them into jam…

It turned out that dad loves cherries, tiny or otherwise…and mother too likes cherries…

12:15 Had lunch with my old dad and mom. In the menu is the salad, which I have freshly gathered in the garden.  I am usually in the library at lunchtime, but on Saturday I am home. I prefer to eat dinner alone around 9 pm, and display all the leftover dishes on the kitchen table…

12:45 I flip through the  TV channels until I stumble on a documentary or on a non-action movie, while mother is having siesta. Mother hoard the TV for most of the day and prefer local channels, which I don’t care for…and she complains that she barely sees me around

1:15 Had siesta. I am physically tired and had dreams. How do I know that I had dreams? Because I woke up at 3:15!

In the hot dry seasons, I just lay down for an hour and close my eyes to rest my back and legs…And I had coffee and a cigarette.

3:45 I had a walk and visited aunt Therese and my cousin Jihad

5 pm Back home and resumed watering the lower section of the garden and collected strawberry and mulberry…The ones that blacken the hands and fingers…For a month I go around with darker fingers and fingernails…

6 pm Locked the chicken den and had my weekly bath: It is an entire program of filling water in various containers. Our shower is not functioning: Not only the pipes need repairing, but also there is no pressure at the end of the shower…

Only on Saturday morning does dad ignite the central water burner, when public electricity is available, or when the electricity happens to materialize.

We cannot afford mazout for the winter cold season for our useless centrally heated building that is left unheated. Dad and mother spent this winter in their beds.

I do enjoy my resting and lengthy siesta during the cold season, accompanied with dreams. There are no mosquitoes and mother has far less chores for me To Do…

7:30 had dinner and watched TV since mother went up to check on her daughter Raymonde. Mother returned around 8:15 to find her cooking burning: She completely forgot that she was cooking something, and she persists on doing several tasks simultaneously.

I didn’t smell anything burning until I heard her complaining and crying softly.

8:30 I went up to my sister’s apartment and read and wrote a couple of articles.

10 pm Mother got in bed and I hoarded the only TV in the house. I watched documentaries, world news, good movies…

Midnight: Sweet dreams Adonis! Another hard day tomorrow…the dry seasons in Lebanon are pretty long.

Especially that mother wakes up about 6 am and starts creating and accumulating chores for me that I never dreamt existed before…

Like vacuuming and cleaning the carpets before storage, cleaning windows, painting, mopping, rearranging hidden corners, gathering mulberry and strawberry, and figs and cooking jams for the winter season…

I cannot catch up with mother’s creative mind for keeping herself busy…and dragging me along, without prior planning and discussion.

Marsha Norman wrote: “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

I believe that sleep dreams are the draft scenarios stories of the “I-Self” that the conscious mind re-edit to modify the “Me-Self” autobiography of our worldview that conform to the customs and traditions of the community…

The “I-Self” stories are pretty incoherent fragments, and we hardly can make sense of them, and we prefer to forget them as soon as we wake up.

The “I-Self” stories are basic building blocks to whatever alterations we conduct on our autobiographical version story and many of the next days decisions.

When I sleep in chunks of 3 to 4 hours, I am necessarily dreaming, whether I recall that I had dreamt or not…

Consequently, I am twice editing my autobiography every single day. In winter time, I am editing it three times: My siestas are lengthy and generate dreams…

The more often you dream, the better person you are…

Note: Three years ago, a little kitten was saved. Today, the cat had generated four generations of kittens. We barely can feed that many cats: they try valiantly to reside in the house instead of out in the garden.

Ten days ago, one cat was savagely mauled and her right front leg was bared to the bone. The wounded cat survived and was hopping on three, and even managed to crawl onto my bed, to mother bewildered eyes.

Mother spent two days washing the bloody sheets and drying in the sun many other items.  The cat survived but the worms and bugs and…are infecting her wounds, and she was put to rest…

How State Department created 5 million Palestinian refugees? 

Josh Rogin posted on Friday, May 25, 2012:  “Did the State Department just create 5 million Palestinian refugees?” (with slight editing):

“The U.S. government considers the descendants of Palestinian refugees to be refugees, a State Department official told The Cable.  Another top State Department official wrote in a letter to Congress that there are now 5 million Palestinian refugees.

The two new policy statements come in the midst of a fight over whether the United States will start separating, at least on paper, Palestinians who fled what is now Israel in 1948 and 1967 from their descendants.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved unanimously an amendment to the fiscal 2013 State Department and foreign operations appropriations bill that requires the State Department to report on how many of the 5 million Palestinians are currently receiving assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)… How many are actually people who were physically displaced from their homes in Israel or the occupied territories, and how many are merely descendants of original refugees.

The amendment, as passed, was watered down by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) from a version proposed by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would have required more in-depth reporting on how many UNRWA aid recipients are now living in the West Bank, Gaza, and other countries such as Jordan.

An even earlier version of the bill would have made it U.S. policy that Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and those who are citizens of countries like Jordan are not, in fact, “refugees.”

The State Department objected strongly to the Kirk amendment, claiming that any U.S. determination of the number or status of refugees was unhelpful and destabilizing and that refugee determinations are a final-status issue that must be negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides wrote Thursday in a letter to Leahy:”This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue. United States policy has been consistent for decades, in both Republican and Democratic administrations — final status issues can and must only be resolved between Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations. The Department of State cannot support legislation which would force the United States to make a public judgment on the number and status of Palestinian refugees.”

Nides wrote: “This action would damage confidence between the parties at a particularly fragile time, undercut our ability to act as a mediator and peace facilitator, and generate very strong negative reaction from the Palestinians and our allies in the region, particularly Jordan.”

But later down in the letter, Nides states, “UNRWA provides essential services for approximately five million refugees, including education for over 485,000 school children, primary health care in 138 clinics, and social services for the most Vulnerable, particularly in Lebanon and Gaza.” (Emphasis added.)

To experts and congressional officials following the issue, that declaration was remarkable because it was the first time the State Department had placed a number — 5 million — on the number of Palestinian refugees.

One senior GOP Senate aide told The Cable: “The Nides letter could be considered a change in U.S. policy with consideration to refugees because it states clearly that 5 million people served by UNRWA are refugees. For the Obama administration to stake out a position emphatically endorsing the rights of 5 million Palestinian refugees is by itself prejudging the outcome of final- status issues.”

Steve Rosen, a long time senior AIPAC official who now is the Washington director of the Middle East Forum, said that by calling all 5 million UNRWA aid recipients “refugees,” the State Department is saying that all the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and the nearly 2 million who are citizens of Jordan have some claim to the “right of return” to Israel, even though Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all stated clearly that a two-state solution would mean that the bulk of the 5 million Palestinian “refugees” would end up living in the West Bank or Gaza, and not in Israel.

President Barack Obama said in June 2011, “A lasting peace will involve two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.”

In January, 2008, while a presidential candidate, Obama said, “The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense.”

At the heart of the issue is what constitutes a “refugee.” The entire thrust of the Kirk amendment was to challenge UNRWA’s definition, which includes the descendants of refugees — children, grandchildren, and so on. That has resulted in the number of Palestinian “refugees” skyrocketing from 750,000 in 1950 to the 5 million figure quoted by Nides today.

An analysis by the academic journal Refugee Survey Quarterly projected that if that definition remains intact, there will be 11 million Palestinian refugees by 2040 and 20 million by 2060.

In a new statement given to The Cable Thursday, a State Department spokesman said that the U.S. government does, in fact, agree with UNRWA that descendants of refugees are also refugees.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told The Cable: “Both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) generally recognize descendants of refugees as refugees. For purposes of their operations, the U.S. government supports this guiding principle. This approach is not unique to the Palestinian context.”

Ventrell pointed out that the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees also recognizes descendants of refugees as refugees in several cases, including but not limited to the Burmese refugee population in Thailand, the Bhutanese refugee population in Nepal, the Afghan population in Pakistan, and the Somali population seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

UNHCR considers, by default only, the minor children of refugees to have refugee status but often makes exceptions to include latter generations. Regardless, the State Department’s new statement could have wide-ranging implications.

The Zionist Israeli Rosen asked: “How many generations does it go? I’m Jewish, and as a grandchild of several refugees, could I make a claim on all these countries? Where does it end? Someday all life on Earth will be a Palestinian refugee.”

The Cable asked the State Department whether descendants of refugees get refugee status for endless generations and whether Nides’s mention of the 5 million Palestinian refugees was an intentional shift in U.S. policy, but we haven’t gotten a response.

The State Department statements also appear to conflict with the United States Law on Derivative Refugee Status, which allows spouses and children of refugees to apply for derivative status as refugees, but specifically declares that grandchildren are ineligible for derivative refugee status. In other words, U.S. law doesn’t permit descendants of refugees to get refugee status inside the United States.

Some regional experts see Kirk’s amendment as a ploy to cut some of the $250 million in U.S. funding for UNRWA and bolster Israel’s position by negating rights of Palestinians that would otherwise be determined in negotiations.

Leila Hilal, co-director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation, told The Cable that to honestly determine which Palestinians remain refugees, one would have to wade into a long, complicated legal and factual analysis about which Palestinians in the region have adequate national protection that would end their refugee status.

Hilal said: “The rights of return and property restitution do not depend on refugee status. Ultimately, however, this congressional move is a political stunt intended to preempt final-status outcomes — and a rather cheap one at that.”

UPDATE: A State Department official confirms that yes, the descendants of refugees are still refugees for numerous generations until they return home or are resettled in a third country. The official also argued that Nides’ reference to UNRWA serving 5 million “refugees” was also accurate.

“The number of people on UNRWA’s rolls isn’t and shouldn’t be a secret,” the official said. “The Kirk amendment, based on commentary surrounding it, is meant to set a stage for the U.S. to intervene now with the determination that 2nd and 3rd generation descendants have no claims and in fact aren’t even Palestinians.  Our interest is to avoid that.   We are not predetermining numbers that the parties themselves must ultimately agree on. Nor can UNWRA.” End of article

The number of Palestinians before the creation of the State of Israel was over one million, far more than the Jews who settled in or immigrated to Palestine.  After the Zionist State committed all kinds of genocides, and transferred Palestinians, and prevented Palestinian refugees to return home, about 150,000 Palestinians remained within Israel. These Palestinians increased to 1.5 million and have Israel passport.

A simple math, may compute an estimate of over 10 Million Palestinians can be considered refugees.  The US State Department is cutting the number of refugees in half, hoping to cut down the UN budget related to Palestinian refugees to half.

Worse, the  US State Department wants to stabilize the number to just 5 million and go ahead with plans according to that faked number. The main problem is that the “right of return” is an inalienable right and time and pressures will not change that right. 

The sooner the Palestinian case is resolved, the less expensive will be the total bill that the US and the colonial powers will have to pay off for their decision of “transferring their Jews to Palestine”.

Let’s face it: When Russia frequently committed pogroms, and Germany put the squeeze after Hitler came to power, and France cooperated with Nazi Germany…what do you expect the Jews in Europe to conclude? Europe was sending the strong message to the Jews: “Get the hell out of Europe!”

Between 1933 to 1939, the well-off Jews immigrated westward to France, England and the USA…After WW2, the USA lavishly funded the Jewish Immigration Fund in order to transfer the downtrodden Jews to Palestine, and colonial Europe facilitated that transfer…and had decided to create a State for the immigrated Jews.

Europe was relieved to keeping its Jews in Palestine and use them as cheap mercenaries in the Middle-East…

Anti-immigration riots hit “African neighbourhood” of Tel Aviv/Israel?

Phoebe Greenwood posted from Tel Aviv on May 24:

 “Tel Aviv has been hit by the most violent protests in its recent history after more than 1,000 Israelis took to the streets in the city’s south to demand the deportation of African immigrants and asylum seekers.
Israeli anti-immigration riots hit African neighbourhood of Tel Aviv

Bracing themselves for a second round of nationalist protests on Thursday evening, the residents of Hatikva are struggling to resume normal life Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The predominately black neighbourhood of Hatikva was ransacked by groups of nationalist protesters who had attended a demonstration on Wednesday night against illegal African migrants.

The protesters claim the Africans are responsible for a rise in crime, bearing signs saying “This is not Africa” and “Stop talking, start expelling”.

“Blacks out!” shouted demonstrators in the crowd, while others yelled “Send the Sudanese back to Sudan”, as other protesters derided the “bleeding-heart leftists” working to help them.

The mob set cans of rubbish on fire, smashed the windows of shops owned by Eritrean migrants and beat up Africans walking through the streets.

TJ, a 29-year-old migrant from Nigeria, watched the violent chaos from his rooftop having been chased and pelted with rocks when he attempted to leave his house. TJ said: “There were protesters everywhere smashing shop and car windows, A group of about 10 or 15 boys stopped one black kid cycling on his bike. They pulled him off and were punching and kicking him in his head. The police just stood and watched until it got really out of control.”

Other witnesses described a gang assaulting a mother carrying a young baby so violently that she was forced to drop her child. Others stopped shuttle buses to search for migrant workers among their passengers.

The Israeli police confirmed they had arrested 17 suspects involved in “a protest against illegal African immigrants”. Extra police units were positioned to prevent further violence in the area last night.

Peace Now, an Israeli human rights organisation, is calling for an investigation into whether the speakers at Wednesday night’s rally, including Knesset ministers Miri Regev, Danny Danon, Yari Levin and Michael Ben-Ari, are guilty of incitement.

During her address, Ms Regev described illegal immigrants as a “cancer in our society“.

Danny Danon, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, wrote in a Facebook status later the same evening: “Israel is at war. An enemy state of infiltrators was established in Israel, and its capital is south Tel Aviv.”

According to Israeli government figures, there are currently 60,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. The vast majority come from Eritrea and Sudan and were smuggled into the country by foot through Israel’s southern border with Egypt, many having been beaten and tortured by their smugglers in camps in the Sinai en route.

Israel terms any illegal immigrant through this border an ‘infiltrator’ and estimate 90 per cent are economic migrants coming to Israel to look for work – a stark contrast to the figures in England and Canada, where 66 per cent and 96 per cent of Eritreans who arrive illegally are granted refugee status.

The Israeli government currently does not deport Eritreans or Sudanese.  However, Yehuda Weinstein, Israel’s attorney general, will appear before the Jerusalem District Court next week to argue that there is no longer a legal obstacle to expelling 700 Southern Sudanese refugees. If approved, Israel will be the first country to have reached this decision.

Defending her position on Thursday, Ms Regev insisted that while she does not condone violence, African immigrants pose a grave demographic threat to Israel.  Regev said: “Israel should adopt the US protocol of returning infiltrators to the border within 72 hours … Jews and Israelis are scared of living in their country”.

Mr Danon’s proposition to prevent further violence was to deport the city’s African residents “to detention facilities and remove Africans from population centres”.

Bracing themselves for a second round of nationalist protests on Thursday evening, the residents of Hatikva are struggling to resume normal life.

‘TJ’ says he is among the few who has left his home following the violence: “Black people have been too afraid to leave their homes to go to work today. Racism in Tel Aviv is not only getting worse it’s getting out of hand and the police are no help. We are terrified.”

Note: Read related stories:

“Self Illusion”: Bruce Hood and Virginia Woolf?

At a phase in her writing career, and after writing two novels with a conventional Victorian narrator (of viewing everything from above), Virginia Woolf announced in her diary in 1920: “I have finally arrived at some idea of a new form for a new novel. Only thoughts and feelings, and no cups and tables.” The new form would trace the flow of our consciousness, the “flight of the mind” as it unfolds in time.

As Woolf shifted her attention to her inner feelings she realized that her consciousness never stood still: Her thoughts flowed erratically, and every moment ushered in a new wave of sensation.  Woolf’s mind was neither solid nor certain: “It was very undependable—now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now in a daffodil in the sun.”

At any given moment, Woolf seemed to be scattered in a million little pieces. Her brain was barely bound together. And yet, it was bound together. Her mind was made of fragments, but it never came undone. She knew that something kept us from disintegrating, at least most of the time. Woolf wrote in her diary: “I press to my centre and there is something there.”

Woolf’s art was a search for whatever held us together. What she found was the self, “the essential thing.” Although the brain is just a complex network of electric neurons and contradictory impulses, Woolf realized that the self makes us whole. It is the fragile source of our identity, the author of our consciousness. If the self didn’t exist, then we wouldn’t exist.

Woolf projected the feeling of simultaneously affirm our existence and expose our ineffability, to show us that we are “like a butterfly’s wing…clamped together with bolts of iron.”

Bruce Hood, a psychologist at the University of Bristol, picks up where Woolf and the modernists left off. In his excellent new book, The Self Illusion, he seeks to understand how the singularity of the self emerges from the cacophony of mind and the mess of social life.

Jonah Lehrer interviewed Bruce Hood and posted on May 25, 2012 under “The Self Illusion: An Interview With Bruce Hood” (with slight editing):

“Dr. Hood was kind enough to answer a few of my questions below:

LEHRER: The title of The Self Illusion is literal. You argue that the self – this entity at the center of our personal universe – is actually just a story, a “constructed narrative.” Could you explain what you mean?

HOOD: The best stories make sense. They follow a logical path where one thing leads to another and provide the most relevant details and signposts along the way so that you get a sense of continuity and cohesion. This is what writers refer to as the narrative arc – a beginning, middle and an end. If a sequence of events does not follow a narrative, then it is incoherent and fragmented so does not have meaning.

Our brains think in stories. The same is true for the self and I use a distinction that William James drew between the self as “I” and “me.” Our consciousness of the self in the here and now is the “I” and most of the time, we experience this as being an integrated and coherent individual – a bit like the character in the story.

The self which we tell others about, is autobiographical or the “me”, which again is a coherent account of who we think we are based on past experiences, current events and aspirations for the future.

The neuroscience supports the claim that self is constructed. For example, Michael Gazzaniga demonstrated that spilt-brain patients presented with inconsistent visual information, would readily confabulate an explanation to reconcile information unconsciously processed with information that was conscious. Spilt-brain patients would make up a story.

Oliver Sacks reported various patients who could confabulate accounts to make sense of their impairments. Ramachandran describes patients who are paralyzed but deny they have a problem.

These are all extreme clinical cases but the same is true of normal people. We can easily spot the inconsistencies in other people’s accounts of their self but we are less able to spot our own, and when those inconsistencies are made apparent by the consequences of our actions, we make the excuse, “I wasn’t myself last night” or “It was the wine talking!” Well, wine doesn’t talk and if you were not your self, then who were you and who was being you?

LEHRER: The fragmented nature of the self is very much a theme of modernist literature. Nietzsche said it first: “My hypothesis is the subject as multiplicity” and Virginia Woolf echoed Nietzsche, writing in her diary that we are “splinters and mosaics; not, as they used to hold, immaculate, monolithic, consistent wholes.”

In your book, you argue that modern neuroscience has confirmed the “bundle theory” of the self proposed by Hume. Do you think they have also confirmed these artistic intuitions about the self? If so, how has science demonstrated this? Are we really just a collection of “splinters and mosaics”?

HOOD: Yes, absolutely. When I was first asked to write this book, I really could not see what the revelation was all about. We had to be a multitude – a complex system of evolved functions. Neuroscientists spend their time trying to reverse engineer the brain by trying to figure out the different functions we evolved through natural selection.

So far, we have found that the brain is clearly a complex of interacting systems all the way up from the senses to the conceptual machinery of the mind – the output of the brain. From the very moment that input from the environment triggers a sensory receptor to set off a nerve impulse that becomes a chain reaction, we are nothing more that an extremely complicated processing system that has evolved to create rich re-presentations of the world around us.

We have no direct contact with reality because everything we experience is an abstracted version of reality that has been through the processing machinery of our brains to produce experience.

I think Nietzsche’s nihilism and Woolf’s depression could have been reflections of their intuitive understanding that the richness of experience must be made up of a multitude of hidden processes and that the core self must be an illusion – and maybe that upset them.

But I don’t think appreciating the self as an illusion is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is inescapable. My critics often dismiss my position as too reductionist or too materialist. Well, if the human condition is not materialist, then an alternative good explanation must be non-materialist.

Show me good evidence for souls and spirits and then I will be forced to change my view. But so far, there has been no reliable evidence for souls, ghosts or supernatural entities that inhabit bodies. They are conspicuous by their absence.

In contrast, we know that if you alter the physical state of the brain through a head injury, dementia or drugs, each of these changes our self. Whether it is through damage, disease or debauchery, we know that the self must be the output of the material brain.

LEHRER: If the self is an illusion, then why does it exist? Why do we bother telling a story about ourselves?

HOOD: For the same reason that our brains create a highly abstracted version of the world around us. It is bad enough that our brain is metabolically hogging most of our energy requirements, but it does this to reduce the workload to act. That’s the original reason why the brain evolved in the first place – to plan and control movements and keep track of the environment.

It’s why living creatures that do not act or navigate around their environments do not have brains. So the brain generates maps and models on which to base current and future behaviors. Now the value of a map or a model is the extent to which it provides the most relevant useful information without overburdening you with too much detail.

The same can be said for the self. Whether it is the “I” of consciousness or the “me” of personal identity, both are summaries of the complex information that feeds into our consciousness. The self is an efficient way of having experience and interacting with the world.

For example, imagine you ask me whether I would prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream? I know I would like chocolate ice cream. Don’t ask me why, I just know. When I answer with chocolate, I have the seemingly obvious experience that my self made the decision. However, when you think about it, my decision covers a vast multitude of hidden processes, past experiences and cultural influences that would take too long to consider individually. Each one of them fed into that decision.

LEHRER: Let’s say the self is just a narrative. Who, then, is the narrator? Which part of me is writing the story that becomes me?

HOOD: This is the most interesting question and also the most difficult to answer because we are entering into the realms of consciousness. For example, only this morning as I was waking up, I was aware that I was gathering my thoughts together and I suddenly became fixated by this phrase, “gathering my thoughts.” I felt I could focus on my thoughts, turn them over in my mind and consider how I was able to do this. Who was doing the gathering and who was focusing? This was a compelling experience of the conscious self.

I would argue that while I had the very strong impression that I was gathering my thoughts together, you do have to question how did the thought to start this investigation begin? Certainly, most of us never bother to think about this, so I must have had an unconscious agenda that this would be an interesting exercise.

Maybe it was your question that I read a few days ago or maybe this is a problem that has been ticking over in my brain for some time. It seemed like a story that I was playing out in my head to try and answer a question about how I was thinking. But unless you believe in a ghost in the machine, it is impossible to interrogate your own mind independently. In other words, the narrator and the audience are one and the same.

As the philosopher Gilbert Ryle pointed out, when it comes to the mind you cannot be both the hunter and the hunted. I think that he is saying that the brain creates both the mind and the experience of mind. So you can become aware of a thought, but you are not independent to that thought. Now that is a very unsatisfactory answer for most people because it simply does not accord with mental experience.

We entertain thoughts. We consider options. We gather our thoughts together. We play out scenarios in our mind. However, unquestionable as that mental experience might seem to all of us, there can be no one inside our head considering the options. Otherwise, you would then have the problem of an infinite regress – who is inside their head, and so on, and so on.

LEHRER: I get the sense that not all of your colleagues agree with your deconstruction of the self. Some argue, in fact, that the self is a bit like a wristwatch. Just because a watch is a bundle of different parts doesn’t mean it is an illusion. How do you respond to these critiques?

HOOD: For me, an illusion is not what it seems and for most of us, we consider our self as some essential core of who we are. Most of us feel our self is at the center of our existence responding to everything around us – that notion of an integrated entity is what I am challenging, not the experience of self.

Most of us, including myself have that experience but that does not make it real. For example, most us think that we see the world continuously throughout the waking day when in fact we only see a fraction of the world in front of us, and because the brain blanks out our visual experience every time we move our eyes in a process called saccadic suppression, we are effectively blind for at least 2 hrs of the day. This is why you cannot see your own eyes moving when you look in a mirror! So conscious experience is not a guarantee of what’s really true.

As for the comparison with a wristwatch…Clearly, it is composed of many parts and the sum of the parts is the wristwatch. However, a wristwatch is only a wristwatch by convention. An alien or a Neanderthal would just consider it to be some form of complex composite object. You could even use the wristwatch as a weapon to kill small animals. It’s a bizarre use of this object I grant you, but there is nothing inherent or essential to the watch that defines what it is.

A microbe living on the watch face may not consider it an object. So a wristwatch is a wristwatch because of a recognized function and to some extent, a convention – both of which do not confer an independent reality to the mind that is considering it. It depends on how you look at it.

When people talk about the reality of the self as the culmination of its constituent parts, I think that they are falling for the trap of thinking that the self exists independently to its parts, which it doesn’t.

In the book, I argue that because we have evolved as social animals, those around us construct a large part of our mental life that we experience as our self. We can see the influence of others but often fail to recognize how we too are shaped.

I am not denying the role of genes and temperaments that we inherit from our biology. After all, children raised in the same environment can end up very different, but even these intrinsic properties of who we are, play out in a social world which defines us. If you think about it, many of the ways we describe each other, such as helpful, kind, generous, mean, rude or selfish can only make sense in the context of others.

So those around us largely define who we are. I hope this book will remind us of this obvious point that we so easily forget…” End of interview

Do you think there is similarity between Hood’s views and this post?

Favorite “immigration” destination for Israelis? Time to vacate?

The Jewish Israeli society is pretty confused.

While 58% believe that the resumption of negotiation with the Palestinians is necessary, 58% confirm the impossibility of establishing a Palestinian State.  “Israel Peace Index” for April indicated that only 15% of the Israeli consider a peace agreement with the Palestinian to be a priority this year.

Israel Jewish society has gotten used to the falsehood claim: “There are no viable and credible Palestinian leaders to communicate and negotiate with…”

Netanyahu strategy has been to foment deep fear of the many threats that Israel is confronted with (the same broken disk), and constantly displacing the critical problem to external threats priorities.  For example: Netanyahu maintains this order of priorities:

1) Iran nuclear capabilities;

2) Hezbollah missile reach and potential for destruction; and

3) the right of Israel to defend itself…

The Jewish Israeli society is pretty confused. The main discussion among the Jewish communities in Israel is to come to term with “Who are we?”

They want to know what is their roots and cultural background…

They are investigating which country they should immigrate to, the States that most satisfy their standard of living and cultural affinity.

It appears that the US managed to export McDonald after 65 years of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.  Immigrating to the US is only viable for the flexibility of being accepted and the potential to easy access to technology and financial matters.

Paris used to be the preferred destination up to the 70’s: It was the cultural center of Europe, Latin America and even the USA (Black movements). France socialist government in the 50’s offered Israel nuclear capabilities and fleet of fighter jets Mirage…in reaction to the blemish the French society felt of cooperating with Nazi Germany…

After the reunification of Germany and the creation f the European Union, the Israelites prefer to settle in Berlin, the original Ashkenazi cultural environment.  The Ashkenazi still speak Yiddish, based n the German language and can communicate with many Eastern European States people.

The Ashkenazi Jews in Israel will have no major hurdle being re-accepted in their original home States.

The problem is with the Sephardi Jews in Israel.  Those who immigrated or fled from the Arabic and Moslem countries to the State of Israel, mostly after 1948.

Historical facts are popping up that it was Israel that perpetrated bombing of synagogues in the Arab States in order to scare off the Jews and encourage them to “transfer to Israel”.

The Sephardi Jews in Israel, known as the Arab Jews (and not including the Palestinian “Arabs” with Israeli passport), are treated as second class citizens in Israel.  Most probably, they will expect European racism to deny them immigration facilities, as the other “Arabs” are facing tighter immigration entrance.

The colonial powers relied on the “European Ashkenazi”, particularly the high officers in the army, to control the Middle-East region.  It is doubtful that the European and the US will consider the Sephardi Jews as reliable “partners” to conduct successful preemptive wars against Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and much less against Iran…

For example: The only Sephardi Defense Minister during the 64 years of the creation of Israel, conducted the preemptive war of 2006 against Lebanon and Hezbollah: He used the binocular the wrong side, and was dismayed of seeing his perplexed eyes…

Most of the Sephardi Jews in Israel shun military training on religious grounds.

And yet , they form the vast majority in Israel and they vote for the radical “right-wing” and religious parties. Why? They feel that they have nowhere else to go!

After 64 years of imagining an illusory enemy in the Palestinians and the “Arabs” in general, they ended up totally isolated and cowed into this vast “Ashkenazi Ghetto”, with walls of shames separating them from the Palestinians.

Note: Article inspired by a piece of Robic Rosenthal in Maariv titled “A State in search of an identity

Is US Empire on the decline trend?

The US political and intellectual classes are engaged in the answering the critical question “Has the US Empire started its declining trend or is it just a mere temporary economic malaise?” Is the decline reminiscing of the British mechanism of declining power?

The politicians and scholars who depend on the Administration favors and benefits would like to strongly disagree. They claim that when the Soviet put in orbit in 1957 its first satellite, the same prophesies of US decline was raised. When Japan acceded to the second rank economic power in the 80’s, the same brouhaha spread in the country. When China exhibited its economical and manufacturing might, the same prophesies gained wings…

The politicians and scholars who depend on the Administration favors would like us to recall that 17 out of the best 20 universities are in the US, and that the US is still attracting the best minds around the world…

Fact is, everytime the US engaged in preemptive military wars, it left big chunks of feathers behind. The American Eagle is as bald in the head and in the rest of its body…

The only power that the US has and is ready for everything to maintain is the dominance of the US dollars in commercial transactions, particularly in oil import and export…

The US has demonstrated its weakness by deploying  military force at every small oil exporting/importing country that defies the strategy of dealing solely with US currency. The US is so aware of its declining supremacy that it is vehemently getting recourse to military might to reminding the world community that the power of the dollar is based on the military supremacy of the US…

Nalliah Thayabharan wrote in response to my post

“In 1973, the US President Nixon asked King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to accept only the US$ in payment for oil, and to buy US Treasury bonds, notes and bills with their excess profits.  America continued spending money and not pay back its loans…

In return, the USA pledged to protect Saudi Arabian oil fields from seizure by USSR and other nations including Iraq and Iran. (Nixon is the President who got away with Gold as the standard reference for money exchange rates and evaluations of wealth…)

The 1973 Arab-Israeli War upset this agreement and caused the Great Oil Embargo of 1974. By 1975, the Great Oil Embargo was over and all members of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) accepted to sell their oil only in US$. Every nation was saving their surpluses in US$ since every country needed US$ to buy oil.

The OPEC oil sales supported the US$.  The petrodollar system was a brilliant political and economic move that created a growing international demand for both the US$ and US debt – all at the expense of OPEC.

Since only the Rothschild owned US Federal Reserve can print the US$, the US controlled the flow of oil. The US essentially owns the world’s oil for free because oil is denominated in US$ and the US$ is the only currency for trading in oil.

So long as almost three-quarter of world trade is done in US$, the US$ is the currency that States central banks accumulate as reserves. But central banks, whether China or Japan or Brazil or Russia, do not simply stack US$ in their vaults. Currencies have one advantage over gold. A central bank can use it to buy the state bonds of the issuer, the USA.

Most countries around the world are forced to control trade deficits or face currency collapse, but not the USA. This is because of the US$’s reserve currency role and the underpinning of the reserve role is the petrodollar. Every nation needs to get US$ to import oil, some more than others. This means their trade targets US$ countries.

The vast majority of the oil is traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the London International Petroleum Exchange and both oil exchanges are owned by the US corporations and transact oil trades in only in US$.

Because oil is an essential commodity for every nation, the petrodollar system, which exists to the present, demands the buildup of huge trade surpluses in order to accumulate US$ surpluses. This is the case for every country but one — the privately owned US Federal Reserve which controls the US$ and prints it at will or fiat.

Because today the majority of all international trade is done in US$, countries must go abroad to get the means of payment they cannot themselves issue. The entire global trade structure today works around this dynamic, from Russia to China, from Brazil to South Korea and Japan. Every country aims to maximize US$ surpluses from their export trade. Currently, over 13,000 billion of newly printed US$ is flooding into international commodity markets each year.

The petrodollar system nearly broke down during the US President Carter’s tenure, mainly due to double-digit inflation. But the US President Reagan removed all controls on oil and fuel prices and all restrictions on oil drilling to restore the stability of the US$. Oil flooded the market, prices fell, and petrodollars became more valuable. These were some of the most prosperous years that the US had,(and the worst years in south America with US initiated and perpetrated civil wars).  But the danger remained, because the US continued to spend more US$ than it earned.

The US President Reagan saw the future of the US depending on the massive international consumption of oil, and encouraged the Saudi Arabia to flood the market. This brought the price of oil down and increased the consumption –  a complete reversal of the 1973 oil embargo.

Increasing oil use boosted international demand for the US$ and the US economy soared, while the low price of oil brought the USSR economy to its knees, as they could not sell oil at a profit due to their high extraction cost. The USSR finally collapsed in 1991.

Petrodollar system created consistent international demand for US$ and upwards pressure on the US$’s value, regardless of economic conditions in the US. The high US$ allowed the US to buy imported goods at a massive discount, a kind of subsidy for the US consumers at the expense of the rest of the world. The high consumption of imports, however, hit the US manufacturing very hard.  The overvalued US$ was a major component of the bubble economy of the late 1990’s.

The reality is that the value of the US$ is determined by the fact that oil is sold in US$. If the denomination changes to another currency, such as the euro, many countries would sell US$ and cause the banks to shift their reserves, as they would no longer need US$ to buy oil. This would thus weaken the US$ relative to the euro.

The USA propagates war to protect its oil supplies, but even more importantly, to safeguard the strength of the US$. The fundamental underlying motive of the US in the Iraq war, even more than the control of the oil itself, is an attempt to preserve the US$ as the leading oil trading currency.

The fear of the consequences of a weaker US$, particularly higher oil prices is seen as underlying and explaining many aspects of the US foreign policy, including the Iraq and Libyan War.

The evidence so far definitively proves upon examination from the disclosed evidence of US government that all claims for current US wars were known to be lies as they were told to the public and not mistaken intelligence.

Until November 2002, no OPEC country dared violate the US$ price rule. So long as the US$ was the strongest currency, there was little reason to as well. But November 2002 was when France and other EU members finally convinced Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to defy the USA by selling Iraq’s oil-for-food, (not in US$, but only in Euros, the new currency of the European Union).

(Maybe the EU hastily tried to give credibility to the Euro on a worldwide scale, before it is well established in the internal European market. The fact is that the US got scared and quickly changed its policy from securing Afghanistan and into invading Iraq)

A few months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, Iraq had made the move to accept Euros instead of US$ for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the US$ as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar. The euros were on deposit in a special UN account of a French bank, BNP Paribas.

If this Iraq move to defy the US$ in favor of the euro were to spread, especially at a point the US$ was already weakening, it could create a panic selloff of US$ by foreign central banks and OPEC oil producers. In the months before the latest Iraq war, hints in this direction were heard from Russia, Iran, Indonesia and even Venezuela.

In April 2002, at the invitation of the EU, in Oviedo Spain, Iranian OPEC representative Javad Yarjani delivered a detailed analysis of how OPEC at some future point might sell its oil to the EU for euros not US$.

All indications are that the Iraq war was seized on as the easiest way to deliver a deadly pre-emptive warning to OPEC and others, not to flirt with abandoning the petrodollar system in favor of one based on the euro. The Iraq move was a declaration of war against the US$.

As soon as it was clear that the UK and the US had taken down Saddam Hussein’s regime, a great sigh of relief was heard in the Rothschild owned UK Banking cartels.

After considerable delay, Iran opened an oil bourse which does not accept US$. Many fear that the move will give added reason for the USA to overthrow the Iranian regime as a means to close the bourse and revert Iran’s oil transaction currency to US$. In 2006, Venezuela indicated support of Iran’s decision to offer global oil trade in euro.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi made a similar bold move by initiating a movement to refuse the US$ and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Muammar Qaddafi suggested establishing a united African Union, with its 200 million people using this single currency. The initiative was viewed negatively by the USA and the EU. Even French president Nicolas Sarkozy called Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind. But Muammar Qaddafi continued his push for the creation of a united Africa.

A gold dinar for Africa revived the notion of an Islamic gold dinar floated in 2003 by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as well as by some Islamist movements. The notion, which contravenes IMF rules and is designed to bypass them, had trouble getting started. But today Iran, China, Russia, and India are stocking more and more gold rather than US$.

If Muammar Qaddafi were to succeed in creating an African Union backed by Libya’s currency and gold reserves, France, still the predominant economic power in most of its former Central African colonies, would be the chief loser. The plans to spark the Libya’s Benghazi rebellion were initiated by French intelligence services in November 2010.

Part 3. Civil war not Ended yet? This time around…No more Blemish
You may read this link to comprehending the context of the problem:

Two campaigns were carried out on social platforms to get the Lebanese engaged against the waves of internal instability that are reminiscent of the mechanisms of previous civil wars.

The first campaign, followed by marches in England, was under the banner “Silence means consent. Shout: NO TO CIVIL WAR, NO TO SECTARIANISM”.  The petition to sign said:

“We are Lebanese citizens who want a peaceful, stable and secular Lebanon. We are not connected to any political party or sectarian group.

In light of the worrying recent events in Lebanon, we believe that time has come for the “silent majority” in Lebanon to speak up and shout: “NO TO CIVIL WAR, NO TO SECTARIANISM”.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily was with Cedric Choukeir.

We call for:

• An “arm free” Lebanon

• A new law prohibiting the purchase or use of arms by civilians under any circumstances

• Civil peace to be guaranteed and reinforced by the government, the army and the security forces

• Unbiased and “non-sectarian” media coverage of the events as they unfold

• The prosecution of every individual who has directly or indirectly participated in the clashes and violent events of this past week in Lebanon

• Political leaders to seriously and actively stop arming their partisans and work towards containing the tension

• The civil society in Lebanon to take urgent action by lobbying, raising awareness, actively engaging in conflict prevention and starting peace initiatives targeting “at risk neighbourhoods

• Friends and family members of individuals involved in the violence to deter their loved ones from taking part in future clashes

Remember, silence means consent… so speak up!

The second campaignLebanon must have a War Free Zone…”
The two campaigns demonstrate the excellent intention of the majority of Lebanese to avoid another civil war and their serious engagement to confront the dark forces.
That is not enough: The professional dark forces are receiving the strong signal that the peaceful and secular communities in Lebanon are not aware of the mechanisms for starting a civil war and how to effectively prevent a planned civil war.
The slogan asking for a War Free Zone for the secular Lebanese is hilarious: As if the UN job is to allocate a region within Lebanon for those Lebanese who want to stay clear from the consequences of a civil war, instead of immigrating to better pastures…
The professional dark forces are trained using a textbook on “How to Start and sustain a civil war”. The key tactic in fomenting a civil war is to ease the youth into “shameful” activities, unaware of the gravity in the participating in these activities, and cow the youth into silence, during the war, and years after the war has ended.
Many die, feeling pretty reluctant into divulging how they participated in the slaughterhood and crimes against humanity.
My dad told me how at the beginning of the civil war in 1975, the local militia (the Kataeb, Phalanges) forced him and many other local middle-age men to carry old and non functional rifles, just to walk the streets at night in order to recognize “foreign elements” not from the village…My dad and his team used to hide when a car or a truck, loaded with loot from the port of Beirut, showed up: They preferred not to recognize the people and to be recognized…
Many youth, frankly opposed to the local militia ideology, were hoarded into military training camps: The peer pressure was enough to sending these youth into participating actively in the civil war.  The blemish projected by family members and friends for getting military training  was another factor into keeping the silence…
As the youth is immersed into this madhouse of ugly activities of humiliating people, getting used to drugs, and the feeling of illusory power…things get out of hand.
After the war, many militia fighters got nostalgic: They were no longer “cared for” and the feeling that everything was available and handy had vanished, and they had to fend for their daily survival…
It is about time that the “anti-war” in Lebanon start doing their due diligence in amassing materials on how civil wars start, are carried out, and who are those dark professionals returning to Lebanon, and naming names, and quickly getting mobilized against the slightest sectarian and feudal innuendo…
Best of all, get communities to meet, face to face, and let this human connection shred the myths of the sectarian leaders and clerics they weaved against” illusory enemies” to maintain their hold of the chattel…
 The US is sending the strong signal that it intends on pressuring Lebanon into policies that are against the Lebanese interest, otherwise, another round of civil disturbances is on the burners… For example:
1. Maura Connelly, US ambassador to Lebanon, was seen having lunch in Zahleh with engineer Richard Jraissati, former “Lebanese Forces” foreign contacts during the civil war. Is the US blatantly sending the strong message that the planning for another round of civil war in Lebanon has reached the preparation stage?
2. The “Bagman” Jeffrey Feltman, former US ambassador to Lebanon and soon to be transferred to the UN as assistant to foreign affairs policies position , visits frequently Lebanon. The visits precede by a few days the “US warns its citizens not to travel to Lebanon”. Feltman programs the destabilization of a country he was supposed to protect and insure its stability.
Feltman accompanies the visits of Zionist US Senators and Congressmen, like Joseph Lieberman who pay visits to North Lebanon in order to establish a Free Zone for the Syrian armed insurgents to start a civil war in Syria from a safe zone in Lebanon…
3. I am just finishing reading the column of Sarkis Naoum in the daily Al Nahar, who is conducting interviews with US politicians and policy makers. Naoum wrote that the US is studying and analizing every single piece of intelligence on Lebanese banking transactions with the Syrian regime, its business leaders, and with Iran and Hezbollah…If this is not a hot preparation to fomenting a civil war, what is it?
The worst part is that our Prime Minister Mikati divulged to the US representative a list of Syrian businessmen…Why? Mikati wanted to know if these businessmen (he is dealing with) are on a black list! The US is glad to investigate more names it didn’t have…
While the Lebanese are very worried of the resurgence of te civil war that never ended, Seth Sherwood posted on May 13 “The Urbanist’s Beirut: Contemporary art, notorious nightclubs, and Frenchified cafés…”
La Plage Beach Club on the Corniche Beirut.

(Photo: Paul Blackmore)

“While much of the Arab world has been blown apart by social upheaval, mass violence, and political turmoil, Beirut has been kicking back quietly on its Mediterranean perch, happy and astonished to be a spectator for once. (Even the New York Times recently hailed it a ­“haven amid turmoil.”)

By day, buzzing scooters and battered old Mercedes taxis honk their way along palm-lined boulevards, unimpeded by demonstrations. By night, their occupants stroll on the seaside Corniche, smoke water pipes in cafés, and indulge in the Lebanese capital’s legendary nightlife. But of course all is not rosy.

Neighboring Syria remains a battleground, to say the least. While there is a vibrant gay subculture, homosexual activity is technically illegal, and travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports can still be arrested and detained.

Tensions among rival ­politico-religious factions, some heavily armed, simmer under the surface. But a relative calm in recent years has prompted a development boom. Indeed, the razing of historical buildings to create luxury shopping malls has led some to decry the “Dubai-ification” of downtown Beirut. 

And a parallel blossoming in art, fashion, and gastronomy, propelling the famously bullet-riddled city to emerge as the Arab world’s creative center…”

For today, Lebanon needs urgently to prosecute the last phase of the unfinished civil war: Lebanon wants a Victor in order to establish a modern State.
For today, Lebanon needs urgently to prosecute the last phase of the unfinished civil war: After 65 years of a pseudo independence and pseudo State, and the impossibility of regular and gradual reforms for our political/social system, there will be a definite victor, this time around.
This time around the Lebanese want to securing a central State, engaged on the side of the people, the citizens.

“Wall Street” and the Rothschild owning biggest US banks

You might be suspicious that I am posting a few articles using Nalliah Thayabharan as a different pen name. That is not the case: Nalliah has been responding with extensive replies to a few of my posts.

This reply is a “comment” to my

“Wall Street is a confidence trick, a dazzling edifice built on paper promises, gambling, bets and rampant speculations. Wall Street doesn’t manufacture or produce anything.  Attractive Wall Street is built on paper.

Wall Street speculation caused a 70% increase in the price of wheat from June to December 2010 and severed food crisis in more than 35 countries.  It does not seem that there was a significant change in the global food supply or in food demand. The total value of Wall Street speculative financial derivatives reached more than $600 trillion – about 10 times global GDP.

Wall Street’s speculative derivatives are virtually untaxed and banks often avoid paying tax on profits from selling derivatives. Every consumer is paying more for commodities including food and fuel due to the excessive speculation by Wall Street.

Modern day bank robbers are at Wall Street and they wear grey suits and no masks. Rampant speculators, propagandists and financiers of Wall Street are all given some unfair advantage over the average consumers and taxpayers and the cumulative effect of the people watching selfishness prevail over the public interest has been an undermining of the public’s trust in the present US government.

There’s no question that Wall Street is rigged against the average consumers and taxpayers. Wall Street has a lot more information. Wall Street jerry-rigged the system so that Wall Street always win.  If Wall Street loses trillions, the US Treasury will bail the Wall Street out so it can go back and do it again.

About 50 trillion dollars in global wealth was erased between September 2007 and March 2009, including 7 trillion dollars in the US stock market, 6 trillion dollars in the US housing market, 8 trillion dollars in the US retirement and household wealth, 2 trillion dollars in the US individual retirement accounts, 2 trillion dollars in the US traditional defined benefit plans and 3 trillion dollars in the US non-union pension assets.

Greed, arrogance and incompetence created a massive meltdown, cost trillions, and still Wall Street comes out richer and more powerful.

There are trillions dollars of new money taken again from Americans to make deals and hand out outrageous bonuses. And when these trillions run out, Wall Street will come back for more until the dollar becomes junk. The value of the US dollar declined very significantly during the last 70 years.  The value of the US dollar in 1940 was worth 2,000% more than the value of the US dollar now.

The USA emerged from the World War II as the richest and most industrialized country in the world, with 50% of world’s manufacturing facilities. But today the USA is basically approaching bankruptcy. Many big US manufacturers are outsourcing to Mexico and China to increase their profits, adding more unemployment in the USA.

Manufacturing jobs in the USA declined 37% between 1998 and 2010. Since manufacturing industries has declined in the USA, the US competitiveness in the global marketplace has also declined.

Robust financial markets don’t imperil capitalism.  In the early 1980′s, Wall Street began to escape reasonable important regulations of the marketplace. The US government gradually adopted a “too big to fail” policy for the Wall Street, saving lenders with failing businesses from losses.

The demise of Glass Steagall act helped spawn the credit crisis by allowing the Wall Street to create financial instruments that allowed them to escape reasonable limits, including constraints on speculative borrowing and requirements for the disclosure of important facts. The extremely lucrative hedge funds and other risk management derivatives including credit default swaps don’t fund or invest in successful growing businesses. The credit default swap market was the single biggest cause of the crash 4 years ago.

Wall Street’s suicidal “liberal capitalism” built on rampant speculation eventually posed an untenable risk to the US economy—a risk that culminated in the trillions of dollars’ worth of the US government bailouts and guarantees that the US government scrambled starting in late 2008.

But in 2008, the US government was compelled to replace private risk takers at the Wall Street with government capital so that money and credit flows wouldn’t stop, precipitating a depression. As a result, Wall Street became impervious to the vital market discipline that the threat of loss provides.

Wall Street lenders of the financial markets continue to understand that the US government would protect them in the future if necessary. This implicit guarantee by the US government harms capitalism and economic growth.

The top 6 US banks had assets of less than one fifth of US GDP in 1995. Now they have two third of US GDP. The financial crisis was created by the Rothschild owned biggest US banks to consolidate power. The big banks became stronger as a result of the bailout by the US Treasury. The big banks are turning that increased economic clout into more political power. Wall Street has undue influence on the US government policies and this situation reflects a failure of democratic representation for the other 99% Americans.

Oligarchy is the political power based on economic power. And it’s the rise of  Wall Street in economic terms, that it’d turn into political power. Wall Street will  then continue to feed that back into more deregulation, more opportunities to go out and take reckless risks and capture trillions of dollars.

Wall Street only has the lobbyists. Today more than 42,000 Wall Street lobbyists manipulate USA’s 537 elected officials with huge campaign contributions that fund candidates who support their agenda. It no longer matters who’s the President of USA.

The political and economical leadership of the US has chosen to cartel profits and transformed the US economy to serve the colluding and unlawful oligarchy.  The political and economical leadership of the US is bailing out failed paradigms with trillions of dollars while committing social injustice to its people. The political and economical leadership of the US including the US Congress have now become Wall Street’s “Trojan Horses”.

The US banks are borrowing money at near zero interest from the US government, then lending it back to the US government at even mere fractions higher interest than they are paying. The net interest margin made by the US banks by lending the money back to the US federal government in the first 6 months of 2011 is 210 billion dollars.

George W Bush and Barrack Obama have doubled the US debt, and the American people reaped no benefits from it. The US military is out of Iraq.There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade of protracted war, the US military does not control Afghanistan. Huge sums of US taxpayers’ money have flowed into the US armaments industries and great power invested into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping its citizens of wealth and liberty.

The organizers and profiteers of war and death – the past four generations of Bush family – Samuel P Bush, Prescott S Bush, George H W Bush and George W Bush along with a group of international investment bankers and corporate executives, have been instrumental in creating and profiting from extremely costly and destructive wars. Four generations of Bush family have reaped tremendous profits from the wars they orchestrated. The war profiteers of Wall Street are now pushing the US towards a nuclear war with Iran.

On 2012 New Year’s Eve, with almost no mainstream media attention given to it, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, or NDAA, into law codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield.

Obama’s administration, and all future administrations can now use the military to detain individuals, including political dissidents – even American citizens on US soil – without trial or formal charges. Without court involvement or a jury deciding you are actually guilty. And “detain” is really a euphemism for IMPRISON, of course, in a semi-secret military black site, without access to an attorney, potentially for life.

Obama also signed into law what could trample American’s First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, or Trespass Bill, signed into law by Barack Obama on March 9, 2012, “potentially makes peaceable protest anywhere in the US a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.”

More specifically, peaceful protest within proximity to those protected by the Secret Service, including presidential candidates and the President, may be a federal felony now.

Worse, a former high-ranking NSA official, who spent more than three decades within the spy agency, just recently came out in a nationally televised interview and asserted that more than 20 trillion of American citizens’ communications have been intercepted – mostly without a warrant or judicial review of any kind.

The NSA is now building a $2 billion data centre in Utah to crunch all of this data. In other words, $2 billion of American taxpayer dollars are going toward spying on American citizens within the US without warrant or court approval. This is not only an outlandish waste of money, it’s illegal.

Also reporters at USA Today are now claiming that Pentagon-sponsored “propaganda contractors” have initiated a widespread character assassination and reputation destroying campaign against them.

Due to  the oligarchs’ rapacious looting and their purchase of a politically protected luxurious lifestyle, the people of the US are on the road to permanent serfdom under a police state. Tens of millions in the US live desperate slave-like existences and they hold little hope for a better life.

The democracy was not given to the people of the US on a platter. It is not theirs for all time, irrespective of their efforts. Either people of the US organize and they find political leadership to take this on or they are going to be in deep trouble.

The failures of governance to address the current critical issues have already produced catastrophic consequences. Now we are experiencing a major global paradigm shift and it is still unfolding. Thirty-two US States including California, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey and Michigan are on the brink of insolvency as their tattered and fading economy is now direr than ever.  Inevitably in very near future the US government will order police or military to martial law which may lead to a second American revolution.

In 1792, the US Congress adopted legislation titled “An act establishing a mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States”. Section 9 of that act authorized the production of the dollar coin and each to contain 416 grains of standard silver.

In July 1944 an agreement was reached at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference which pegged the value of gold at US$35 per troy ounce and the whole world looked on US$ as the gold standard in purchases.

But in 1971, the US President Nixon took the US$ off the gold standard after his administration realized that the privately owned Federal Reserve no longer had enough gold to buy back every dollar that foreign governments were handing in.

In 1973, the US President Nixon asked King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to accept only the US$ in payment for oil, and to buy US Treasury bonds, notes and bills with their excess profits, so that USA can continue spending money and not pay it back.  In return, the USA pledged to protect Saudi Arabian oil fields from seizure by USSR and other nations including Iraq and Iran….

Most countries around the world are forced to control trade deficits or face currency collapse, but not the USA. This is because of the US$’s reserve currency role and the underpinning of the reserve role is the petrodollar. Every nation needs to get US$ to import oil, some more than others. This means their trade targets US$ countries.

The vast majority of the oil is traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the London International Petroleum Exchange and both oil exchanges are owned by the US corporations and transact oil trades in only in US$.

The entire global trade structure today works around this dynamic, from Russia to China, from Brazil to South Korea and Japan. Every country aims to maximize US$ surpluses from their export trade. Currently over 13,000 billion of newly printed US$ is flooding into international commodity markets each year.

The reality is that the value of the US$ is determined by the fact that oil is sold in US$. If the denomination changes to another currency, such as the euro, many countries would sell US$ and cause the banks to shift their reserves, as they would no longer need US$ to buy oil. This would thus weaken the US$ relative to the euro.

In February 2011, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has called for a new world currency that would challenge the dominance of the US$ and protect against future financial instability. In May 2011 a 32-year-old maid, Nafissatou Diallo, working at the Sofitel New York Hotel, alleged that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her after she entered his suite. Strauss-Kahn quit IMF on May 18, 2011.

If any country attempt to eliminate the Petrodollar system and dump surplus US$ into the international and US financial markets to cause the quick collapse of the US$ may be attacked with HAARP (see note 2) to destabilize its economy and currency and to prevent a move away from the US$ and the petrodollar system. 

War is used as a continuous foreign policy with the USA in present egregious and unlawful abuse of their superpower status.

The US manufacturers who can’t compete with low-priced Chinese goods must either lower their costs or go bankrupt. To lower their costs, many US manufacturers are outsourcing to India and China, adding more unemployment in the USA. Manufacturing jobs in the USA declined 35% between 1998 and 2010. Since manufacturing industries declined in the USA, the US competitiveness in the global marketplace also declined.

The US economy is in a deep hole and US shouldn’t dig any more. Reckless money printing by privately owned Federal Reserve – known as “Quantitative Easing” (see note 3) and economical stimulus packages introduced in the aftermath of the Credit Crunch, has made very little impact on the growth of the US economy.

Current US economic growth is not adequate enough to create jobs and to get an economy back on track. The USA is living beyond its means and cannot cut expenditures or increase taxes to narrow the deficit. Now the banks are under enormous pressure to lend more money but reckless lending by banks got the US into this mess in the first place.

The credit crunch initiated in 2007 in the subprime mortgage market in the US had devastating spill-over effects for China’s exports. The scarcity of US$, due to the repatriation and leveraging flows into the US financial system caused a sudden plunge in the external demand for goods manufactured by China and triggered the consequent lay-off of several millions of workers in China. This experience encouraged China to use its own currency in trade.

The US may have averted a debt default by compromising on how to cut the US budget deficit, but underlying problems remain and those economic woes are driving a global search for an alternative reserve currency.  The USA now needs a net inflow of several billions US$ a day to cover its deficit.

The US President Barack Obama launched his primary anti-foreclosure plan, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) in 2009 to encourage the US banks to rewrite mortgages of about 4 million homeowners at risk of losing their homes. But the fight against foreclosures continues to muddle and underwhelm. Only 300,000 homeowners received a mortgage modification in the first six months of 2011, while 600,000 houses fell into foreclosure.

The political and economical leadership of the US has chosen to cartel profits and transformed the US economy to serve the colluding and unlawful oligarchy.   The US banks are borrowing money at near zero interest from the US government, then lending it to the US government at even mere fractions higher interest than they are paying. The net interest margin made by the US banks by lending the money back to the US government in the first 6 months of 2011 is $211 billion.

The financial crisis was created by the Zionists owned biggest US banks to consolidate power. The top 6 US banks had assets of less than one fifth of US GDP in 1995. Now they have two third of US GDP. The Zionists owned big banks became stronger as a result of the bailout. They’re turning that increased economic clout into more political power.

Due to oligarchs’ rapacious looting and their purchase of a politically protected luxurious lifestyle, the US citizens are on the road to permanent serfdom under a police state. The financial situation of states including California, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey and Michigan is now more dire than ever.  Inevitably in very near future the US government will have to order police or military to martial law which may lead to a second American revolution.

The economic problems in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy are very precarious. The bailout phenomenon is not working in Greece which is on the brink of defaulting on its debt. It is impossible for the EU to bailout Italy which is the third largest economy in Europe. Klaus Regling, the head of the European rescue fund, recently said: “the EU could issue bonds in Chinese renminbi(yuan) and not in euro”.

India, 4th largest GDP and populous democracy in the world has joined with  China and Russia questioning US$ as reserve currency. India’s famed white marble monument to love “Taj Mahal” had charged US$15 or 750 Indian rupees as entry fee for each tourist, has been not accepting US$ anymore.

Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are buying each other’s bonds and swapping currencies to lessen dependence on the US$. These four countries are among the biggest holders of US Treasuries and have combined reserves of almost 3,000 billion US$.

The value of the US$ declined significantly during the last 70 years.  The value of the US$ in 1940 was worth 17 times more than the value of the US$ now. The day OPEC stops pricing oil in fiat dollars, is the day the USA will collapse completely. The reason the fiat dollar game has gone on as long as it has the US$ as the global reserve currency.

In 2011 Russia began selling its oil to China in rubles. The US debt crisis adds new urgency to the China’s efforts to promote its currency renminbi as an alternative reserve currency. China has already signed bilateral currency swap agreements with several countries ranging from Indonesia to Belarus and Argentina to promote its currency renminbi as a means of settlement in international trade.

China’s growing trade and financial links with the rest of the world will make the renminbi more acceptable. To compound matters further Japan and the China have decided to trade in their respective currencies giving a smack to the not so almighty US$.

Now we are experiencing a major global paradigm shift and it is still unfolding. If countries continue to lose their willingness to hold the US$ the impact to the US$ and the collapse of the US$ could be very  dramatic.

US Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long-established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpation of rights, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government…”

Napoleon Bonaparte said in 1815: “Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.” 

“There is no calamity greater than lavish desires, no greater guilt than discontent and no greater disaster than greed” Laozi

“Greedy desire is endless and therefore can never be satisfied” Buddha

(This article and so many others claim that “Financial Zionism” is leading the US…I beg to differ: It is the US that comprehended the influence of Zionism early on and used it to further its dominion on world finance. Zionism is glad to oblige, doing what it does best, at a the grandest of scales…)

Note 1: Since Nalliah Thayabharan article is pretty lengthy, I decided to relegate large sections, PetroDollar stories to another posts, and a few sections to footnotes such as note 2. 

Note 2: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused the USA of using HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) based weapons to create earthquakes. HAARP is an ionosphere research program that is jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The HAARP program operates a major Arctic facility, known as the HAARP Research Station, located on an US Air Force owned site near Gakona, Alaska.

HAARP has the ability to manipulate weather and produce earthquakes, since it is capable of directing almost 4 Mega Watts powerful radio waves in the 3 to 10 MHz region of the HF band up into the ionosphere. This energy can be bounced off of the ionosphere and permeate the earth and subsequently cause strong intense oscillations along fault lines of targeted areas to produce earthquakes.  Using HAARP, depending on the frequency, focusing, wave shape, adversaries can induce at a distant aiming point, a variety anomalous weather phenomena such as hurricanes, flooding, or drought.

Note 3: Benjamin Franklin opened the eyes of the Rothschild family in England on the benefits of issuing more money as the internal market in the US grows. the Rothschild family managed to be the exclusive money printer for the US in 1804. The massive printing of worthless dollars is not the case in current US, but a blatant mean to dominate world finance…

Elevation of bagman: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman

Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and former ambassador to Lebanon, is set to be appointed UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs. Samir Sanbar, a former UN Assistant Secretary General for Public Information, notes in his blog on UN Forum that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to replace B. Lynn Pascoe with Feltman in the post. The world community will really miss Pascoe, and will hate Feltman from the start.

The UN Security Council’s Secretariat is handled by the Department of Political Affairs, which would be able to have some sway on its agenda. The post is central to the UN bureaucracy. The UN will announce the appointment on Monday, May 28.

The office was created in 1992 to help identify and resolve political conflicts around the world. Pascoe ran at least a dozen missions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, notably in Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. The longest running mission is in Somalia (since 1995) and the most recent is in Libya (since September 2011).

With a budget of $250 million and funds for special political missions that amount to $1 billion this year, the post allows its leader to intervene in political crises around the world.

When Secretary General Ban began his second term in January, he promised to reshuffle some of his senior staff. Pascoe’s replacement is part of this process.

Of the proposed new appointment Sanbar writes, “Designating someone with varied field of experience, though controversial, and from a substantially senior post, may mean that more issues could be referred to the Security Council.” (To the detriment of the Middle-East region…)

Is Jeffrey Feltman the best person to run such an influential office in the UN? Why does Sanbar believe that this appointment is “controversial” (read one-sided to the liberal capitalists and US emperial interests, and total support to Zionism…)

VIJAY PRASHAD, author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter posted (with slight editing, and paragraphs in parenthisis ae mine):

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me that Feltman is “an accomplished and respected American diplomat…He has been involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and other hot spots. These engagements bring up inevitably controversial issues. Feltman would have his share of detractors, including in the Middle East”.

But why would Feltman have these “detractors” and how did he come off on the “controversial issues”?

On one issue, Feltman is remarkably consistent. When it comes to the Middle East, Feltman has been outspoken about the threats posed by Iran in the region. Whether in Beirut or Manama, he has publically denounced Iranian “interference” outside its own boundaries.

Feltman has generously offered US assistance to the absolute monarchies and oligarchies. In other words, US interference is quite acceptable, but Iranian interference is utterly unacceptable. This might be adequate behavior for the diplomat of a country, but it is hardly the temperament for a senior UN official. It raises doubts about Feltman’s ability to be even-handed in his deliberations as a steward of the world’s political dilemmas.

Feltman’s intemperate logic was not of the distant past. It was on display in March 2012 at a Lebanese American Organization’s meeting at the Cannon Office Building in Washington, DC (as Franklin Lamb reported on this site this week). At this meeting, the former US Ambassador to Lebanon, instructed the Lebanese people as to what they must do in their next election:

“The Lebanese people must join together to tell Hezbollah and its allies that the Lebanese State will no longer be hijacked for an Iranian-Syrian agenda. The Lebanese people must use the 2013 parliamentary elections to defeat the remnants of the Syrian occupation, the pillar of which is Hezbollah…” (There is a pseudo-State in Lebanon, and every regional State hijacked it, and is still fomenting internal troubles…)

Indeed, interference by speeches is not the limit of Feltman’s ambitions. On May 3, 2012, he was back in Beirut, meeting former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah, Future Movement leader Nader Hariri and others at Hariri’s residence. In the transcript of their meeting (leaked through Al-Akhbar), an older side of US policy making emerges.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly is heard saying that the government is “Hezbollah dominated,” to which Feltman says to the Lebanese politicians in the room, “You can bring down the government if Walid [Jumblatt] is with you in the parliament or if Najib [Mikati, the PM] resigns right?” To Siniora, Feltman says, “Would it help if this government is brought down before the elections,” and then he mentions that he is seeing the Prime Minister Najib Mikati later that evening. “This place is very, very weird,” he notes, “weirder than when I left.” This is not a trivial statement.

A glance at Feltman’s cables when he was ambassador to Lebanon reveals a fulsome appetite for the weird. The cables betray an obsession with the social lives of the Lebanese elite, their peccadilloes and their foibles.

Feltman’s “non-interference” to prevent Iranian “interference” in Lebanon brings to mind another episode in his recent career. When the people’s protest broke out in Bahrain, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent him there at least six times.

Feltman was in Bahrain on the eve of the Saudi-led invasion into Manama to smash the protests in March 2011. In a visit to Manama on March 3, 2011, just before the crackdown, Feltman praised the King for his “initiatives” and urged him to “include the full spectrum of Bahraini society, without exception.”

In the Shia quarters, and amongst the al-Wefaq party activists, this sounded like Feltman was urging the King to take them seriously. In language similar to what he used in Lebanon, Feltman noted that the US wants a “Bahraini process” and urges others “to refrain, as we are, from interference or trying to impose a non-Bahraini solution from outside Bahrain.” The crucial phrase here is as we are, which implies that the US is not intervening in Bahrain.

The fact of the 5th Fleet stationed in Manama and of the close cooperation between the Saudi monarch, the Bahraini King and Feltman’s bosses was to be ignored. “We are not naïve,” Feltman said, pointing across the waters at Iran. They cannot be permitted to intervene, but the US, a “critical partner” of the Kingdom, and the Gulf Arab monarchs, “will support Bahrain.”

When events heated up in Bahrain, Feltman and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen went on a tour of the emirates’ capitals, declaring their unconditional support. The US stands for “universal human rights,” Feltman told the emirs, but of course since “every country is unique” these rights would emerge in their own way. Mullen was at hand to “reassure, discuss and understand what’s going on.” The key word here is reassure.

A clear-eyed assessment comes from Karim Makdisi, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. Makdisi recalls Feltman’s role as Ambassador in the area, where he made himself an extremely divisive figure. Feltman pushed in 2004 for UN Resolution 1559 to disarm the Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah), he supported the Israeli invasion in 2006, and he provided assistance to the March 14 political party against Hezbollah.

In other words, Feltman actively took sides in a divided political landscape. Feltman’s appointment “would be a disaster and send exactly the wrong signal for the UN” to the region. Having recognized its weakness, the US knows that it will be the UN that takes the lead in Syria and elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Makdisi believes that in “anticipating a larger role for the UN,” the US wishes Feltman to be well-placed to “ensure that US interests are maintained as much as possible.” Whatever credibility remains with the UN will whittle in the region with this appointment.

It is likely that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon picked Feltman for an unearned reputation. He is known around the Beltway for his work on the Arab Spring. But in the totality of the Arab world Feltman will not be seen as an open-minded professional. He has already thrown his hat into the camp of the Saudis and their satellites (the Gulf Arabs and the Hariri clan of Lebanon).

This will limit Feltman’s ability to move an agenda in the region, least of all on the Arab-Israeli conflict where sober diplomacy is necessary from the UN. When I asked several people who watch the UN’s work in the Arab world carefully about this appointment, most offered me three words, “very bad news”.

Not bad news for the Saudis or the US neoconservatives, but certainly bad for the people of the Arab world, whose Spring had them longing not so much for this kind of venal diplomacy but for honesty and good-will”.

Vijay Prashad’s new book, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter , is published by AK Press.

Note: Jeffrey Feltman was the former US ambassador to Lebanon when Israel tried to invade Lebanon in 2006 and pounded it for 33 days with 15,000 air raids and 175,000 cannon shells, and failed, but destroyed almost all Lebanon infrastructure, displaced 300,000 Lebanese civilians, and polluted our seashores (bombed our oil reservoirs).

Bagman Feltman visits frequently Lebanon, a few days before the US warns its citizens not to travel to Lebanon: He programs the destabilization of a country he was supposed to protect and insure its stability.  Feltman precede the visits of Zionist US Senators and Congressmen, like Joseph Lieberman who pay visits to North Lebanon in order to establish a Free Zone for the Syrian armed insurgents to start a civil war in Syria from a safe zone in Lebanon…




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