July 31, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Amendment to Eliminate Aid to Egypt - 7/31/13

"Foreign aid is more likely to buy a lavish chateau in Paris than it is to buy bread in Egypt." - Senator Rand Paul.

"Over the past 30 years Americans have been forced to finance the Mubarak family living large. So when you see pictures of depression in Detroit, when you see abandoned housing in Detroit, when you see boarded up housing, when you see 50,000 dogs running through the streets of Detroit, when you see a once great nation, once great city lying in decay, you think about your politicians who chose to send that money to Egypt and not keep it here at home. As Detroit decays, as the money is stolen and squandered around the world, but as Detroit decays, as Chicago is overrun with violence, as Americans struggle to put food on the table, Mubarak and his family dined on caviar and champagne. As Mubarak flew to Europe for weekends on his jet and lived the life of a king, his people rotted in jail indefinitely without charge, without trial." - Senator Rand Paul (source of transcript).  

An excerpt from, "Senate Overwhelmingly Rejects Rand Paul’s Proposal to Halt $1.5 Billion in Allocated Egypt Aid" (The Blaze, July 31, 2013):
The Senate roundly rejected a proposal Wednesday to redirect aid for Egypt into bridge-building projects in the U.S. after a potential Republican presidential candidate and Tea Party favorite challenged the Obama administration’s refusal to label the ouster of Egypt’s president a military coup.

Senator Rand Paul's statements about Washington financing dictators in the Middle East at the expense of democracy and human rights has value. The Evil Empire uses foreign aid as a noose to rein nations into its dog house of disgrace and dishonour, such as Pakistan.

But not everything Senator Paul said about Egypt was exactly accurate. There was no clear-cut military coup in Egypt. The people demanded the swift removal of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Amatzia Baram, professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Haifa, describes it as, "a revolutionary popular coup d’etat."

Say what you want about the current general in charge, but at least he isn't going around the country and saying Jews are the descendants of "apes and pigs." Morsi used this exact phrase. Morsi worked at NASA, so he obviously doesn't believe the racist garbage that he spewed, but he exploited popular prejudice against Jews to gain greater credibility, which shows how big of a slimy political animal he was in office.

Morsi was calling Jews apes and pigs on the street while collaborating with Israeli occupiers behind the scenes and fighting Israel's war against Assad and Hezbollah by endorsing Jihad in Syria. It doesn't matter how Egyptians got rid of him. Civilized humanity should celebrate that they did.

Video Title: Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Amendment to Eliminate Aid to Egypt - 7/31/13. Source: Senator Rand Paul.

July 30, 2013

Henry Geiger - We See What We Are (1980)

Henry Geiger (1908?-15 February 1989) was the editor, publisher, and chief writer of MANAS Journal which published from 1948-1988. Abraham Maslow called him “the only small ‘p’ philosopher America has produced in this century.”
Below is an excerpt from, "We See What We Are" by Henry Geiger. Source: MANAS Journal, Volume XXXIII, No. 16. April 16, 1980.
How do we know? The question is too big, of course. There are so many things to know and so many ways of knowing. Yet the importance of the general question cannot be denied. What we do in our schools and colleges—and how we attempt to explain things in conversation—depend upon it, or should. One reason for confusion is bound to be that we have mistaken ideas about how people learn. A similar difficulty attends the simpler process of seeing with our eyes. In a paper which outlines the history of theories of vision, the M.I.T. psychologist, Richard Held, suggests that the assumptions on which existing theories are based stand in the way of progress in understanding. At the end of this paper (published in Structure in Art and Science, ea., Kepes, Braziller, 1965), Prof. Held says:
We may be able to avoid vitiating assumptions if for a moment we regard the observer with all his capabilities as a machine having unknown rules of operation. . . . It is immediately evident that if this machine does in fact respond adaptively to physically definable properties of its environment, then information about those properties must be available to the system that controls its behavior. . . . But what has not always been recognized is that the specification tells us nothing either about the machine's method of processing the information which must be available to it or about the manner in which this information will relate to perceived objects. . . . What sort of an information processing system could conceivably yield the correspondence that is sought? We might as well confront it with the most general and difficult demand that we know of. The system should be capable of the kinds of pattern recognition of which human observers are capable.
The psychologist ends by saying that human beings are possessed of an extraordinary capacity for pattern recognition which cannot be explained as the result of education. We are just able to see and recognize, and hardly know how. "We are forced to conclude that having been presented with a relatively small sample of instances, the system can recognize an unlimited set." We must not, Prof. Held seems to be saying, ignore what we can really do because of the limitations implied by past theories of how we do it.

In his book, The Tacit Dimension (Anchor, 1967), Michael Polanyi, a chemist turned philosopher, sets out from precisely this point of view in a discussion of knowing. While seeing is a sense experience, it is closely connected with, or a serviceable analogue of, the knowing done by the mind. Polanyi says:
My search has led me to a novel idea of human knowledge . . . by starting from the fact that we can know more than we can tell. This fact seems obvious enough; but it is not easy to say exactly what it means. Take an example. We know a person's face, and can recognize it among a thousand, indeed among a million. Yet we usually cannot tell how we recognize a face we know. . . . We recognize the moods of the human face, without being able to tell, except quite vaguely, by what signs we know it.
He finds a clue to how we do this in what we do without noticing it:
Physiologists long ago established that the way we see an object is determined by our awareness of certain efforts inside our body, efforts which we cannot feel in themselves. We are aware of these things going on inside our body in terms of the position, size, shape, and motion of an object, to which we are attending. In other words, we are attending from these internal processes to the qualities of things outside. These qualities are what those internal processes mean to us. . . .

Modern philosophers have argued that perception does not involve projection, since we are not previously aware of the internal processes which we are supposed to have projected into the qualities of things perceived. But we have now established that projection of this very kind is present in various instances of tacit knowing. Moreover, the fact that we do not originally sense the internal processes in themselves now appears irrelevant.
We go, if we are scientifically inclined, from tacit knowing or intuitive recognition to analysis of detail, which may enrich our knowing—or it may not.
True Theories About the World #savegutenberg. Source: GutenbergGreatBooks. Date Published: February 26, 2013. Description:
This is an excerpt from a lecture in which Dr. Dewberry discusses Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn's perpective about what can be KNOWN by science.

The Zionist-Fundamentalist Christian-Saudi Wahhabi Alliance Against Peace And Humanity

Below is a comment by "Smith" on the website Going To Tehran. Exact date and time of comment: July 30, 2013 at 6:47 am.
Zionists believe they are the “chosen people”. So as per their ideology it is not like they are to serve God but God is to serve them. Christians believe that they are sinless people since they accepted Jesus as “son of God” who gave his life for the sins of Christians (you can keep doing as much sin as you want) so they are hastening “Rupture” and their own “Salvation”. Wahabis think that they are the “Owners” of “true” Islam and that Shias are crypto-fireworshiping deviant kafirs. Together they are an alliance of convenience feeding each other and targeting Islam.
Also, check out:

"Saudi Wahhabi Sheikh Calls On Iraq's Jihadists to Kill Shiites" by Haytham Mouzahem, Al Monitor, April 28, 2013. (Summary: A Saudi Wahhabi sheikh has issued a fatwa in which he calls on jihadists in Iraq to kill Shiites, including women and children, in another sign of the bitter sectarian conflict dividing the region, writes Haytham Mouzahem.

Saudi Wahhabi Preacher Issues Fatwa Allowing Jihadis to Rape Syrian Women.

Pope Francis greets a group of indigenous people

This Pope has inspired more hope in people worldwide than Obama has in his term in office. He's even more liberal on gay rights than Obama. That's beautifully strange. Source: romereports.

Of Monsters and Men - Sinking Man

Henry Geiger - Signs of A New Civilization (1980)

  Henry Geiger - The Uses of Make Believe (1983).

Henry Geiger (1908?-15 February 1989) was the editor, publisher, and chief writer of MANAS Journal which published from 1948-1988. Abraham Maslow called him “the only small ‘p’ philosopher America has produced in this century.”
Below is an excerpt from, "Signs of A New Civilization" by Henry Geiger. Source: MANAS Journal, Volume XXXIII, No. 20. May 14, 1980.
There is nothing ortholinear about human affairs. No straight line is to be found in the Parthenon, and even space, Albert Einstein informed us, is curved. Nor is there any straight-line progress in culture or civilization. In the East deserts hide the fragmentary remains of great cities, while in the West the monuments of the Mayas were overtaken by jungle growth. Epochs of history are plainly cyclical, and there are psychologies and philosophies which attend the formative period of a civilization, while others are keyed to decline. In addition, the idea of progress is ambiguous in meaning. The owl of wisdom, as Hegel put it, does not rise until the sun of empire has set. This means, substantially, that people do their best thinking when they are in trouble. It is certainly the case that the Platonic philosophy came into being as a response to political corruption and social disorder. And Socrates stands today as a symbol of integrity and loyalty to principle, giving heart to those few who are struggling to understand and deal with the catastrophic changes affecting modern society.

An interesting contrast may be drawn between the Stoics and Plato. The Stoics learned and taught how to endure in the face of moral and cultural disintegration. You wouldn't speak of them as "builders," but rather as philosophers who saw no point in trying to inaugurate a new social order at a time when all human institutions were going downhill. They made themselves into rocks of human integrity, standing immovable as personal barriers to the tide of decline. Plato also stood firm against this tide, but at the same time gave counsel to those who longed to be builders. He sought and expounded the principles of constructive self-development for both the individual and society, writing as the ancestor of all subsequent utopian literature. As author or elaborator of the Socratic method, he showed that the beginning of all desirable undertakings must involve the search for first principles. This is the Socratic method—the investigation of first principles. The capacity for critical thinking is developed in this way.

In the present there is need for both critical thinking and builder capacities. The present seems different from the time of the breakdown and death of the classical age. Today there are scores and hundreds of thinkers and writers who are wondering how to begin rebuilding in the midst of ruin and decline. Criticism is rampant, iconoclasm the order of the day, yet there are those who attempt to bring balance to analysis by exploring the religions, philosophies, and social systems of the past, looking for first principles. A pioneer in this work, one who combined intimate knowledge of the civilizations of both East and West, was Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), known mainly for his works on Oriental art, yet whose chief interest was in saving the cultures of the East from the inroads of Western industrialism.

July 29, 2013

Some Rushed Thoughts on Egypt And Morsi

It is an easy thing to manipulate events and public opinion, especially when powerful institutions like the army and media are collaborating together on one particular project or have their eye on a single goal. This has always been true in history, and it is true today, in any country, and under any political system, democratic or authoritarian, Western or Eastern.

But, with that said, saying that the Egyptian army hatched a grand political conspiracy to bring millions of Egyptians to the streets and then exploit their massive anger and frustration to fulfill their original goal of removing Morsi from power is too hard to believe even for a diehard conspiracy theorist. Anyone who has been paying attention to events in Egypt prior to this crisis knows that the people were fed up with Morsi's presidency, and did not trust him with the key to the treasures of the country.   

If Morsi had played it smart, if he had humbled himself before the revolutionary street, and recognized the demands of the millions of demonstrators, such as agreeing to hold early presidential elections, then he would've diffused the legitimacy crisis that was surrounding his administration. He could've cut the army off at the knees politically, in the field of public opinion, and prevented it from making any move against his rule. 

But, the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood is anti-democratic. It is anti-public opinion, as Egyptian journalist Yasser Rizq  points out in this article. He says the Muslim Brotherhood considers the people to be a herd, and that their opinion doesn't count. They do not respect the voice of the people, they do not even think it is a power to be dealt with, but a nuisance at best. 

That view is not unique to the Muslim Brotherhood. But the problem with holding this perspective is that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn't have any force or power in Egyptian society on its side; not the state media, not the army, and not the people. It has various volunteer militias and terrorist groups, but terror alone can't move a society towards a desired direction. 

Morsi put himself in a box by not pursuing consensus politics. He instead tried to transform Egypt, and even attempted to use its nationalist army to intervene in Syria. Egyptians weren't deceived.

To say the ousting of Morsi was a defeat for democracy is crazy and illogical. Morsi abandoned democratic principles the moment he won the election. He sought to consolidate power during his brief time in the sun, and it backfired.

A charismatic revolutionary figure or a powerful general who has the loyalty of his soldiers and the respect of the nation can get away with a lot of things that Morsi did not. Morsi, an ideologue from a political party that has been historically defiant towards Egyptian public opinion, and uses tactics like terrorism and assassination to achieve its religious and political goals, never had a chance to transform and dominate Egypt. 

Remember, Morsi is a man who said that Jews are the "descendants of apes and pigs" - this statement disgraced his intellect and his character, this alone should've sealed his political fate. 

Morsi is obviously not someone who is attuned to the popular moods and sentiments of the age, either culturally, religiously, or politically, either in his own nation or internationally. It is a problem when as a leader of a historic nation you make silly and racist statements because you don't care what people think about you. Morsi was not at all sensitive to Egyptian public opinion and he paid the price. 

To grieve about Morsi's overthrow by the army because he was Egypt's "first democratically elected leader," as many pro-democracy liberals are doing, is both stupid and shallow. "Democratically-elected leader" means nothing in this case because over 60 percent of the Egyptian population did not vote in the presidential election in 2012. They expressed their will through street protests and petitions. 

Elections are not the end and be all of democracy. Imagine if a donkey, or a medically certified insane person, was elected president, would you still defend the system of democracy then? Democracy, as it is practiced today in the world, belongs in the dustbin of history, not on a pedestal. 

"Muslim Brotherhood must learn the lesson of democracy" says Egypt's foreign minister. Source: Euronews. (July 29).

Isidor Isaac Rabi (Born On July 29, 1898)

"I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race. They never grow up, and they keep their curiosity." - Isidor Isaac Rabi.

Isidor Isaac Rabi (29 July 1898 – 11 January 1988) was a Galician-born American physicist and Nobel laureate, recognized in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in magnetic resonance imaging. He was also involved in the development of the cavity magnetron, which is used in microwave radar and microwave ovens.
During World War II he worked on radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory and on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Atomic Energy Commission, and was chairman from 1952 to 1956. He also served on the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Office of Defense Mobilization, and was Science Advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was involved with the establishment of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1946, and later, as United States delegate to UNESCO, with the creation of CERN in 1952. When Columbia created the rank of University Professor in 1964, Rabi was the first to receive such a chair.
An excerpt from, "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1944 - Isidor Isaac Rabi - Biographical":
His early work was concerned with the magnetic properties of crystals. In 1930 he began studying the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei, developing Stern's molecular beam method to great precision, as a tool for measuring these properties. His apparatus was based on the production of ordinary electromagnetic oscillations of the same frequency as that of the Larmor precession of atomic systems in a magnetic field. By an ingenious application of the resonance principle he succeeded in detecting and measuring single states of rotation of atoms and molecules, and in determining the mechanical and magnetic moments of the nuclei.
Because France had just fallen to the Nazis and Britain had no money to develop the magnetron on a massive scale, Churchill agreed that Sir Henry Tizard should offer the magnetron to the Americans in exchange for their financial and industrial help (the Tizard Mission). An early 6 kW version, built in England by the General Electric Company Research Laboratories, Wembley, London (not to be confused with the similarly named American company General Electric), was given to the US government in September 1940. At the time the most powerful equivalent microwave producer available in the US (a klystron) had a power of only ten watts. The cavity magnetron was widely used during World War II in microwave radar equipment and is often credited with giving Allied radar a considerable performance advantage over German and Japanese radars, thus directly influencing the outcome of the war. It was later described by America as "the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores"

Egyptian Journalist Yasser Rizq On Why The June 30 Revolution Was Not A Coup

"Opponents of ousted president Mohammed Morsi hold up a poster of the Egyptian defence minister, Gen Abdel Fattah El Sisi, with an Arabic caption that reads, ‘The lion of Egypt’. AP" - Bradley Hope, "Is Egypt's defence minister El Sisi its president in waiting?" The National, July 22, 2013.

Egyptian Journalist Yasser Rizq On Why The June 30 Revolution Was Not A Coup.      

The article below is by a high-level Egyptian journalist who had meetings with General Sisi and was in frequent contact with him prior to the dismissal of Morsi, so take his glowing portrayal with a grain of salt. Still, his opinion is more valid than others because he was on the inside, and his unique perspective and knowledge has provided insight to the recent developments in Egypt.

An excerpt from the article, "The General Sisi I Know" by Yasser Rizq, editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm, translated by Tyler Huffman, published in Al Monitor on July 28, 2013.
On this particular day, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took a unanimous decision: If tens of millions of Egyptians take to the streets and squares to demand the fall of the president, the army will support them. Sisi told them that he would continue with his efforts to convince the president to submit to the demands of the masses, most importantly holding early presidential elections.

The next day Sisi sat down with Morsi for two hours, trying to convince him to provide solutions in his speech that was to be given that evening, without anyone having to appeal to him. It seemed that Morsi was convinced, and he promised Sisi that his speech would contain these solutions and proposals.

Yet, as usual, Morsi reneged on his promises. His speech was like those we have seen and heard in the past.

Then came June 30. Tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets in demonstrations and marches in squares throughout Egypt in a scene that was unprecedented in modern human history. 

The people were waiting for the armed forces to issue a statement, after the seven-day deadline expired. The statement, however, was not issued that day, it was released the next day and included a new 48-hour deadline. This renewed deadline refutes all allegations regarding the June 30 revolution that say that the army's intervention in response to the masses was a military coup. 

Had the army intended to stage a coup, it would have happened months earlier. There were many events and opportunities available [to stage a coup]. Had [the army] been determined to carry out a coup, there would have been no need for the first deadline. And had it wanted to exploit the massive demonstrations to oust the president, the army would never have given a second deadline, allowing Morsi and the Brotherhood to incite division between the people and the army. If Morsi had agreed to hold early presidential elections — or even a referendum on his presidency — the tables would have been turned on everyone.  

A Brotherhood leader called me on the evening of [Monday] July 1, after the statement was issued announcing the second deadline. While speaking to me, he downplayed the size of the massive crowds that took to the streets on June 30, and said that the 48-hour deadline was intended for the political forces, not the president.

The day the second deadline was announced, Morsi met with Sisi and Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Higazi, the director of military intelligence. The president tried to win their favor, saying, "You'll get everything you want!" The two leaders replied, "All we want is to ensure the interests of the people."

July 28, 2013

Festival of Faiths - Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Civilization

Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. is one of the world's leading experts in nuclear non-proliferation. He is a senior U.S. diplomat involved in the negotiation of every single international arms control and non-proliferation agreement from 1970 to 1997. This includes the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT Treaties), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START Treaties), the Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) Treaty, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) Treaty, Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In 1993, Ambassador Graham served as Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from January to November, 1993 and Acting Deputy Director from November, 1993 to July, 1994. From 1994 through 1997, he was president Bill Clinton's special representative for Arms Control, Non-Proliferation, and Disarmament. Graham successfully led the U.S. government efforts to achieve the permanent extension of the NPT in 1995. Graham also served for 15 years as the general counsel of ACDA.
Reviews of "Unending Crisis" (Source: Amazon.com)
In Unending Crisis, Thomas Graham Jr. examines the second Bush administration's misguided management of foreign policy, the legacy of which has been seven major--and almost irresolvable--national security crises involving North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine, and nuclear proliferation. Unending Crisis considers these issues individually and together, emphasizing their interrelationship and delineating the role that the neoconservative agenda played in redefining the way America is perceived in the world today.

"A concise, well-written, and thoroughly documented account of how our country lost its moorings over the last decade, Unending Crisis is a must read for all concerned about the role of the United States in a changing world." -Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert Gard, former president of the National Defense University.

"A book of solid good sense and keen vision from one of our most experienced, dedicated diplomats." -Richard Rhodes, author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb and The Twilight of the Bombs.

"Ambassador Graham has written an authoritative and detailed account of the tortuous international negotiations over nuclear policy and how opportunities were squandered." -General Lord Charles Guthrie, former chief of the UK Defense Staff.

"Political leaders and all those seeking to understand the complex history of nuclear diplomacy and attempts to limit the proliferation of weapons should read this book." -Sir Ronald Grierson, chairman, Blackstone International Advisory Board.
Video Title - Festival of Faiths - Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Civilization. Source: Festival of Faiths. Date Published: May 13, 2013. Description:
Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., (Ret.) one of the world's leading experts in nuclear non-proliferation, discusses the current state of nuclear armament throughout the world, the dangers this poses and what can be done to promote anti-proliferation. Professor Michael Fowler, J.D., from the University of Louisville's Department of Political Science, provides a response to Ambassador Graham's remarks.
Read "Nonproliferation Misinterpretation" by Yousaf Butt (The National Interest, July 26, 2013).

Commentary On Egypt

Commentary On Egypt

An excerpt from, "History rhymes in Egypt" by Colonel Patrick Lang (July 27):
The forces of political Islam are now pitted against pretty much the rest of Egypt in the same sort of existential struggle. They all know that. Saudi Arabia is backing the military backed government because it detests the MB version of Islamism. The United States, having aligned itself with the MB, has zero leverage with General Sisi because the US backs people who would kill him if they could. There are other sources of military supply in the world. You can be sure that Israel is happy to see the departure of Mursi. That will have an effect in the US Congress. 
An excerpt from, "Conflicts Forum Weekly Comment" (July 27):
Yes, the key platform of the MB (the path to power through election) has been shattered. It has no political response. But victimhood too is very potent. And this ‘potency’ is something which the Brotherhood knows well how to use, and to manage.  It will come easily to them.  But there will be another consequence too – beyond a turn inwards and to a discourse of victimhood and resentment (and for evidence of the resentment, simply listen to Erdogan and the AKP leaders). In Lebanon, we have seen that when Islamist rank and file members (in this instance the Salafists of northern Lebanon) believed that they had been betrayed politically by March 14th, they simply deserted the docile Saudi orientations of Salafism – and many migrated to the various jihadist and Takfiri Salifist groups in Lebanon.  We can already witness this same process commencing in the disturbances taking place in the Sinai and in Suez zone.

General Sisi has appointed himself deputy PM, and an Islamist-free government half filled by members of the deep-state, established.  It will not be too long before the idealistic middle-class youth of Cairo wake up to the reality that they have restored Mubarakism without Mubarak (see here).  This will place the EU and the US in a serious predicament.  They have opted for a ‘let’s all move on, and be adult about the Army takeover’ line.  In short, the West – not from any obvious strategic interest – has defaulted into further entrenchment into the Saudi/Gulf camp, and into further explicit regional partisanship. Already it is plain that Saudi Arabia is putting Lebanon – after Egypt – into a similar play, seeking there, not a military coup on this occasion, but to tip the complex politics of Lebanon against Hizbullah, and in favour of Saudi’s Sunni protégés.  In Iraq, Gulf states have been for some time, looking to weaken Maliki.
Tarpley tweets:
#MoslemBrotherhood killers strike #Nasserists #Brahmi #Belaid in #Tunisia, #Musmari in #Libya-Gen #Sisi acted just in time to save #Egypt

Gen #Sisi may be New #NASSER needed by #Egypt as pro-army backers outnumber MoslemBros by overwhelming margin-beware #Sinai terror emirate 
An excerpt from, "Can Salafists Save Egypt?" by David Kenner (Foreign Policy, July 26):
With protests swelling in Egypt again today in response to army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi's call for demonstrations in favor of "confronting" the Brotherhood, Bakkar's job is about to get a lot tougher. The Nour Party rejected Sissi's call for protests, saying that popular mobilization on both sides "foreshadows civil war."

For the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Party's actions amount to a historic betrayal -- an abandonment of Egypt's first Islamist government for short-term political gain. "They are very naïve, they don't have much experience playing politics," said senior Brotherhood official Amr Darrag. "Politically, they are our main opponents. So they thought this was a good time to put us aside, or weaken our position, or get rid of us, so that they can take charge as the leading party in the political life."

Bakkar, on the other hand, paints a picture of how the Morsy administration ignored the Nour Party's advice to defuse the political crisis for half a year, systematically antagonizing every Egyptian political player. "Facts are facts: The military decided to be with the people, so it was a matter of deciding whether to lose everything for the Islamic stream, or to keep a share in the next round," he said. "Especially when we are not convinced in [the Brotherhood's] way of governing, especially when we can see that normal people are against them." 

July 27, 2013

After Assassinations In Arab Spring Nations, Protesters Express Their Anger At The Muslim Brotherhood


An excerpt from, "Musmari killing sparks protests against Muslim Brotherhood" by Maha Ellawati (Libya Herald, July 27):
The killing of popular Libyan political activist, Abdulsalam Musmari, in Benghazi has sparked country-wide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hundreds of men and women in Benghazi took to the streets last night in fury at the assassination of Musmari, one in a string of recent killings. Two military officials were also assassinated last night in Benghazi, one shot in the back while he was praying.

Convinced that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are behind the attacks, protestors said they wanted the organisation to leave both Benghazi and Libya. Protestors stormed two of the Muslim Brotherhood’s main premises in the city, one of which was the local headquarters of the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) – the political arm of the Brotherhood. There have been reports that both were set alight.

Many of the protestors were in tears, mourning the loss of a political figure who, they say, consistently made a stand against militias and Islamists. He also frequently appeared on television to encourage the residents of Benghazi to stage protests in response to bombings and assassinations in the area.

“The death of Musmari was a big loss for Benghazi and the whole of Libya,” one resident told the Libya Herald, “he was a good, good man.”

An excerpt from, "Tunisia braces for more turmoil as opposition calls for gov't resignation" (Xinhua, July 26):
One day after the assassination of a prominent opposition figure, Tunisia is bracing for more political turmoil, as opposition parties call for the government's resignation and the dissolution of Constituent Assembly.

Mohamed Brahmi, a strong opponent of Ennahdha in the Constituent Assembly, was gunned down by a radical Islamist activist on Thursday. He received 14 gunshots before dying in his son's arms.

Since Thursday, thousands of people marched in the streets, calling for the resignation of the government led by Ennahdha's Prime Minister, Ali Laarayedh.
Video - Tunisia: funeral of assassinated MP Brahmi draws huge crowds (Euronews, July 27)

Quote from the video: "42 opposition members of Parliament announced their resignations on Friday in response to Brahmi's death."

Charles Olson - In Cold Hell, In Thicket

Charles Olson (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970) was a second generation American modernist poet who was a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance. Consequently, many postmodern groups, such as the poets of the language school, include Olson as a primary and precedent figure. . . Olson's first book, Call Me Ishmael (1947), a study of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, was a continuation of his M.A. thesis from Wesleyan University. . . .Olson coined the term postmodern in a letter of August 1951 to his friend and fellow poet, Robert Creeley.
Video Title: Charles Olson | In Cold Hell, in Thicket. Source: skimber. Date Published: March 24, 2010. Description:
Charles Olson reading "In Cold Hell, in Thicket" (1950) sometime in the mid-60s in Gloucester, MA—late night, recorded for Robert Creeley. Audio courtesy Ron Silliman and PennSound audio archive.

Image: Ivan Besse—Britton, SD 1938-39 courtesy Rick Prelinger and archive.org

Text transcribed from The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems edited by George Butterick

Premiered at the Charles Olson Centenary Conference Worcester, MA on 27 March 2010—Fuller Theater
Below is an excerpt from the essay, "Postmodern Bildungsromans: The Drama of Recent Autobiography," by Paul Christensen from the book, "Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry" edited by James McCorkle. Published in 1990 by Wayne State University Press. Pg. 510. (Source).
"Occasionally in autobiography one gets the essence of a whole movement in literature, of an epoch of thought, a turn in the concept of the self. Within the broad movement known as postmodernism, there are two texts in particular where this occurs---in Charles Olson's In Cold Hell, In Thicket, published in 1953, and in Clayton Eshleman's Indiana, which appeared in 1969. Olson was a formidable thinker and arguer, among the two or three seminal minds that formulated postmodernism; it should be no surprise that he was capable of portraying the new self of postmodernism in his own autobiographical poetry, which he carefully sorted into a narrative scheme in his book, In Cold Hell, In Thicket. The title refers to the opening of Dante's Inferno, the "selva oscura," the dark wood Dante wanders into at the middle of his life, where he enters into the three spheres of the Christian universe. Olson's book is a similar excursion into visionary experience, where he struggles to wrest a new understanding from his own midlife and emerges in the third and final section of the book with a sense of himself as remade, a voice of his own times. It is his personal drama, using his own undisguised experience and conflict, calling himself by name. He means to direct the reader to Olson's personal reexamination in order to show the reader the wrenching process of deliverance, by turns grueling and funny, dramatic and trivial---a molting of rebirthing that is difficult, graceless, but necessary. He sheds old opinions, grudges, convictions as he struggles to adopt a new mind and perspective. The book was not considered all that remarkable at the time; it was lost among other, perhaps more colorful and dramatic poems by him and a wide circle of writers whom we now called postmodernists. Olson was better known for his essay "Projective Verse" (1950), where his key notions of a new poetry drew fire from traditional critics and aroused many young writers to try writing in the mode he suggested. But looking back these thirty years, it is clear that if one wants an essential text, autobiographical in substance, innovative in style, and central to an understanding of postmodernism, In Cold Hell, In Thicket is it."    
Charles Olson - In Cold Hell, In Thicket (Text).

July 26, 2013

Sacred Silence in Sufism and the Vedanta

Video Title: Sacred Silence in Sufism and the Vedanta. Source: Festival of Faiths. Date Published: May 27, 2013. Description:
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the world's leading experts on Islamic science and spirituality, and Swami Atmarupananda, renowned teacher of Hinduism, will talk about Compassion as being intrinsic to who we really are -- the true Self, the "image of God" which is free of all alienation. And that is wisdom itself, love itself, discovered in inner silence -- the still point that unites us to both God and the universe.
"There's several ways that we can overcome the walls of the ego. And the first question, why do we have to overcome the walls of the ego? You have to overcome it because it suffocates us, because we suffer from it. The Dukkha, by which the Buddha speaks, has to do precisely with this. If we could be happy in the prison of the ego all religion would be useless. And in fact nobody would have followed it over the millennia. Anything that has been followed over the millennia must have had some use, otherwise people wouldn't follow it. If honey didn't taste sweet, every civilization would not have honey one way or another in its diet. This is the same way. This is a very, very important point. So since we cannot be happy in this prison of the ego, our spirit is made for the infinite. It's not made for the bottom of a well. Since we're not happy there's several ways in which this wall, or borders of this limited ego, this limited existence in which most of us live, can be removed. There's not only one. One is of course through pure knowledge, the path of the Vedanta, which we have the equivalence in Sufism." - Seyyed Hossein Nasr (34:04 - 35:35).

Sebastian Brock on the Syriac tradition in Christianity

Sebastian P. Brock is the author of, "The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life" (2006).

Sebastian Paul Brock (born 1938, London) is generally acknowledged as the foremost and most influential academic in the field of Syriac language today. He is a former Reader in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford's Oriental Institute and currently a Professorial Fellow at Wolfson College. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.
Video Title: Sebastian Brock on the Syriac tradition in Christianity. Source: Киностудия Богослов. Date Published: March 27, 2012. Description:
Interviews with Sebastian Brock, the foremost authority in the field of Syriac language, on:
-- features of the Syriac tradition;
-- Syriac Christology;
-- the best Syriac authors;
-- the leading centres for the study of Christian Syria.

Analysis Of The Coup In Egypt: Various Voices, Different Dissections

August 2012: General al-Sisi and deposed president Mohammed Morsi. Photo Source.

Dissecting the events in Egypt is too complicated, it is above my understanding, expertise, and knowledge. There are so many interests, parties, and political voices involved in propagandizing their cause; so many conspiracies and agendas at stake. And that is only politics inside the country. The American empire and Israel are hovering like poisonous vultures above Egypt. They don't want to see any serious and positive transformation taking place there. They would much rather see the country collapse and go the way of Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria then for it to become independent, dynamic, and powerful.

I don't hold any strong opinions about what's happening in Egypt. On this blog I have highlighted viewpoints from alternative political commentators such as historian Webster Tarpley and journalist Thierry Meyssan, as well as mainstream journalists like CNN's Ben Wedeman, and former US senior diplomat Frank Wisner.

You can learn from every side of the debate, take an interesting piece of info from different experts and voices, and come to your own conclusions about the coup. Or, if you want, don't even call it a coup, call it a complicated political event in a strategic location on planet hell.

Many Egyptians consider the removal of Morsi as a continuation of their revolution, not a coup. There is intellectual and logical support for this argument. The anti-Morsi protests across the country were overwhelming. Morsi was not a popular leader, he did many dumb things like reduce wheat imports, and he was installing radical people in senior positions of his administration, including a guy who had a hand in the terrorist bombing in Luxor in 1997.

The army acted with reason. One of the reasons it overthrew Morsi is because it did not want to involve Egypt in the growing sectarian war in Syria and across the region. But, the army has also been acting too aggressively. It is not simply reacting to acts of terrorism by the Muslim Brotherhood, it is also actively picking fights with them and calling for mass protests. This overt manipulation of popular momentum against the Muslim Brotherhood is not wise.

Ignoring the power and influence of Islamists in Egyptian society is a big mistake. They are nasty and crafty, and they don't hold human life as sacred as do their political opponents so violence comes naturally to them. The forces of political Islam are not going to disappear without a fight. They are even more politically assertive and violent in the wake of the military's humiliation of Morsi. 

II. Analysis Of The Coup In Egypt: Various Voices, Different Dissections.

Excerpts from, "Conflicts Forum Weekly Comment," published on July 19, 2013:
It is becoming more and more clear that Gulf leaders and General Sisi intend – in the words of the former head of Mossad – Ephraim Halevy, to land a resounding and definitive public defeat on the Muslim Brotherhood. Unsurprisingly, Israel has become an enthusiastic collaborator in this project too, liaising directly with General Sisi, with whom Israel has maintained close relations since being Israel’s point-man in the Egyptian military with whom Israel co-ordinated on Sinai. As a corrolary to the disabling of the Brotherhood, Hamas too increasingly is being demonized to the Egyptian public (by the Army): It is being labelled as the ‘terrorist’ hidden hand behind the disorder in the Sinai (see here for an account of the angry public protests instigated against Meshaal and Haniya, when they visited Cairo shortly before the coup).

What is also clear, is that so engrossed has been the Gulf with the prospect of landing this resounding defeat on the Muslim Brotherhood that little real attention has been given to the substance of all this.  Yes, the Brotherhood has been decapitated (the Guidance Office and Shura have been disabled, new arrests ordered and political detentions continue throughout the Gulf).  But, in fact, wider Sunni political Islam has effectively been decapitated too (Erdogan discredited, the Sheikh of al-Azhar in retreat and Qaradawi now precariously holding on in Doha). Who are Sunni Islam’s leaders now?  Sunni identities are in disintegration.  It is true that General Sisi’s coup has shown the Muslim Brotherhood to be essentially hollow: all organization and no vision. But is the army better placed?  It has received financial support from its sponsors (though much of it is in loans or cash deposits at Egypt’s Central Bank), to keep the wheels turning, but real reforms will require more. They require some critical mass of popular consensus – and consensus is precisely that which seems presently to be unavailable in Egypt.  The army has has created a political void of fragmented interests.  The secular/liberal/Leftist current is on a ‘high’, and in no mood to compromise one jot; and the Salafists will have to be accommodated to pay off the Army’s debt to Saudi Arabia.  This seems an unworkable combination.  And who will be the emergent leaders of this now leaderless Egyptian Brotherhood Islamic current; and what will be their natures?   Why should one imagine they will be more ‘moderate’?  And now that Morsi has gone, the Egyptian opposition, united only by its hatred of the President, is already presenting publicly its own deep divisions.  It seems probable that the Army will be thrown back to increasing reliance on members of the ‘deep state’ to constitute a government – and this will please no one.  Expect Salafist dissatisfaction in Egypt to be transmitted back into Gulf Wahhabism too.
Excerpts from, "Egypt’s Crowd Democracy" by Wael Nawara, published in Al Monitor on July 26, 2013:
Over 100 people have already died and hundreds injured in fighting, mostly in Cairo, since the crisis began. And while the Brotherhood tried to claim that it was its people who were attacked, residents of Manial, Bayn El Sarayat and Giza districts are burying their dead and putting the blame on Islamist militants and the Brotherhood’s militias. El Beltagy’s earlier comments about terrorism in Sinai also suggested that attacks which had been stepped up since Morsi’s ouster are orchestrated between the Muslim Brothers and their Jihadist allies. Opponents of the Brotherhood also point at recent news of the assassination of opposition leader Brahmi in Tunisia, and Belaid before him, to support their accusations of the Brothers and their allies.
It is expected that Sisi will get what he wished for. The millions of Egyptians to whom Sisi spoke directly need no permission from activists to demonstrate. But one has to be careful with one's wishes. What shall the army do with this mandate? If it cracks down on the sit-ins, armed militants will most likely use civilians, women and children as human shields. The cost of blood will be too heavy to bear, which will work in favor of the Muslim Brothers who could in fact use such casualties to regain some of the sympathy it had lost. Sisi’s best strategy may be to deny them such gains and target the real movers of the terror campaigns with minimal collateral damage. It may be also more potent to dry their resources and ammunitions up, rather than risk bloody confrontations. At the same time, failure to swiftly restore order and stop the bloodshed after a popular mandate is granted may erode public confidence in the army’s chief. It is a difficult call and one which may require more than sheer force. It is one of these instances where you have to live up to the high expectations placed upon you as a national hero, or watch yourself become the villain.
Excerpts from, "Can the Muslim Brotherhood Pursue a Real Revolution or Will Egypt Revert to Military Dictatorship—Hillary Mann Leverett on Al Jazeera," published on July 26, 2013:
Not only did I work for the U.S. government, work on Egypt at the White House, at the State Department, at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, but I was a student in Egypt.  It’s a country where I’ve been living and working for over twenty-five years.  I think what’s happening in Egypt is very polarized, very disturbing.  The idea of a military government continuing to have dictatorship over that country, over that people, is something that is a real possibilityThe only real challenge to that, historically and today, has been the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist groups in Egypt.

There’s a real test about whether [the Muslim Brotherhood] can pull it offThey didn’t actually start the revolution back in 2011, but the question today is, ‘Can they finish it?’  Can they fight for what they stand for?  Can they fight for a really different system in Egypt, or are we going to be back to, essentially, ‘Mubaraksim’ without Mubarak?  I think that’s really the question that is on the table, and I’m not sure the Muslim Brotherhood is actually up to a real revolutionWe’ll see in coming days.  But the consequence, I’m sure, is going to be a lot more bloodshed, a lot more instability, and some real chronic problems for Egypt for some time to come.”
Video: Ex-US State Dept offical: We want to keep ties with Egypt. (Al Jazeera, July 26, 2013).
Hillary Mann Leverett, Former White House and State Department official, says the US is not entering Egypt's 'coup' debate for a reason.

Henry Geiger - The Uses of Make Believe (1983)

Henry Geiger (1908?-15 February 1989) was the editor, publisher, and chief writer of MANAS Journal which published from 1948-1988. Abraham Maslow called him “the only small ‘p’ philosopher America has produced in this century.”
MANAS was an eight-page philosophical weekly written, edited, and published by Henry Geiger from 1948 until December 1988. Each issue typically contained several short essays that reflected on the human condition, examining in particular environmental and ethical concerns from a global perspective. E. F. Schumacher's influential essay on Buddhist economics was published in the journal.
Below is an excerpt from, "The Uses of Make Believe" by Henry Geiger. Source: MANAS Journal, Volume XXXVI, No. 43. October 26, 1983.
Since the appearance in 1970 of Beyond Reductionism, edited by Arthur Koestler and J. R. Smythies, reductionism has been a distinctly unpopular cause. That book—and the work of other writers, before and since its publication— attacked the assumption that the phenomena of life could all be reduced to mechanistic events in the processes of physics and chemistry, and the allied contention that human intelligence and thought are no more than responses to external stimuli.

Yet reduction may nonetheless have value in other relations. The institutions which dominate our lives certainly need reduction in importance, and their complexities would produce far less confusion in our minds if they could be understood in simpler terms. What seems a useful step in this direction was taken by an eminent historian, Edmund S. Morgan, in "Government by Fiction" in the Spring Yale Review. Cherished notions sanctified by optimistic patriots of the eighteenth century fall into fragments from the impact of what he says, beginning—
Government requires make-believe. Make believe that the king is divine or that he can do no wrong, make believe that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Make believe that the people have a voice or that the representatives of the people are the people. Make believe that governors are the servants of the people. Make believe that all men are equal or make believe that they are not.
On the surface these declarations seem full of shock and scandal, yet one reads them with little more than a sighing reaction. Why? Because, as the writer immediately points out, we cannot live without these fictions, and often "take pains to prevent their collapse by moving the facts to fit them, by making our world conform more closely to what we want it to be." And when we use the fictions to reshape political or social reality, we name the result "reform or reformation."

Prof. Morgan explains how the fictions work:
In popular governments—governments wherein authority derives from people rather than from God— the fictions that enable the few to govern the many exalt, not the governors, but the people governed. And just as the exaltation of the king could be a means of controlling him, so the exaltation of the people can be a means of controlling them. Popular government is a much more complicated matter than kingly government and requires more complex fictions to sustain it. It requires us to believe, or act as if we believe, that the people, as a people, can make decisions and perform actions apart from their government, that they can authorize individuals to act in their name and can also limit, instruct, or otherwise control those individuals. To endow the people with these fictional powers was a delicate matter for those who first undertook it, because it had to be done without encouraging the simpleminded to mistake fiction for fact. A too-plausible, too- persuasive argument for popular authority might result in what was always deplored as "confusion"— that is, for the people (or rather some fraction of them) to take direct action in matters that were best left to their superiors. The men who first promoted popular government did not think they were striving for a government by the many over the many. They had strong ideas about who should govern, and they did not, to begin with at least, propose to meddle with the structure of societies in which they themselves commanded positions near the top. In locating the source of authority in the people, they thought to locate its exercise in themselves. They intended to speak for a sovereign but silent people as the king had hitherto spoken for a sovereign but silent God. . . .

After 1776, when all government in America was presumed to rest on the people, the change from royal to popular authority came about, in effect, as it later did in England (and had done briefly in the 1640s), by representative assemblies taking full command. Popular government in both England and America had been representative government, and representation is the principal fiction by which the larger fiction of popular sovereignty has been itself maintained.
While resistance to centralized government— as an instrument of control by men of wealth— such as Shay's Rebellion in 1786, against the heavy taxation of farmers in Massachusetts, was strong, the desire for stability and order was stronger. Speaking for the Federalists at the Constitutional Convention, Jonathan Smith, from the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts, declared:
" . . . I don't think worse of the Constitution because lawyers, and men of learning, and moneyed men, are fond of it. I don't suspect that they want to get into Congress, and abuse their power. . . . Some gentlemen think that our liberty and property are not safe in the hands of moneyed men, and men of learning. I am not of that mind."
Fear of what "mobbish state assemblies" might do carried the day. As Prof. Morgan says:
It was touch and go whether Americans would accept the new configuration of fictions. Anti- federalists cried out that the new representation was no representation at all, that national representatives would be too remote from their constituents, no better than the specious representatives the colonists had been told they had in Parliament. But the Anti- federalists lost. Americans suspended their disbelief. The idea of representation recovered the fictional qualities it had been losing in the state governments, and the few were thereby enabled to govern the many without recourse to violence. The fictions of popular sovereignty embodied in the federal Constitution may have strained credulity, but they did not break it. Madison's invention worked. It still does.
Yet this analysis is only half the story. There were other fictions contending for acceptance, chief of which was the claim that only direct rule by the "power of the people" would bring freedom to all. And the ultimate fiction, perhaps, was and is that only the "right" form of government can solve such problems. Meanwhile, it is evident enough that some government is needed. The issue then turns on what may be legitimately expected from government of even the best sort, and we are no closer to an answer to this question than the political thinkers of the past. Hannah Arendt makes this clear in On Revolution:
If there was anything which the constitution-makers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had in common with their American ancestors in the eighteenth century, it was a mistrust in power as such, and this mistrust was perhaps even more pronounced in the New World than it ever had been in the old countries. That man by his very nature is "unfit to be trusted with unlimited power," that those who wield power are likely to turn into "ravenous beasts of prey," that government is necessary in order to restrain man and his drive for power and, therefore, is (as Madison put it) a "reflection upon human nature"—these were commonplaces in the eighteenth century no less than in the nineteenth, and they were deeply ingrained in the minds of the Founding Fathers. All this stands behind the bill of rights, and it formed the general agreement on the absolute necessity of constitutional government in the sense of limited government; and yet, for the American development it was not decisive. The founders' fear of too much power in government was checked by their great awareness of the enormous dangers to the rights and liberties of the citizen that would arise from within society. Hence, according to Madison, "it is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the Society against the oppression of the rulers; but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part," to save "the rights of individuals, or of the minority . . . from interested combinations of the majority."
It becomes evident that unless the makers of constitutions have a clear idea of the various possibilities of "human nature"—both good and bad—they will make messes instead of plans that provide a measure of order. The conflict between freedom and order does not originate in constitutions but in human nature, and all that legal conventions can accomplish is some delay in the way in which that conflict emerges in human affairs and arrangements. The anarchist position is that it is better to live with the facts, whatever they are, than to try to cope with such slippery and ambiguous fictions. Because of the ring of sincerity and courage in this outlook, anarchist thinkers keep attracting followers, although fear of a fictional element in anarchist belief—that humans can actually live in society without strong ruling authority—makes their numbers small. 

July 25, 2013

CS Lewis: Reluctant Prophet - Prof Alister McGrath speaks at St Paul's Forum - April 2013

Professor Alister McGrath is the author of, "C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet" (2013).

Video Title: CS Lewis: Reluctant Prophet - Prof Alister McGrath speaks at St Paul's Forum - April 2013. Source: StPaulsLondon. Date Published: April 11, 2013. Description:
The Revd Prof Alister McGrath speaks on the life, faith and work of CS Lewis at St Paul's Cathedral. Part of the St Paul's Sunday Forum series of lectures with prominent Christian authors.

July 24, 2013

Hans Jonas and Jewish Mysticism - Christian Wiese

Professor Christian Wiese is the co-editor of, "The Legacy of Hans Jonas."

"Prof. Wiese was educated in Protestant theology, Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at the Universities of Tübingen, Bonn, and Heidelberg and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; he earned his PhD in 1997 at the University of Frankfurt am Main and his “Habilitation” in Jewish Studies in 2006 at Erfurt University. Before coming to Sussex, he held positions as an assistant professor in Jewish History at the Salomon Ludwig Steinheim-Institute for German-Jewish History (University of Duisburg) and as an associate professor in Modern Jewish History and Thought at the University of Erfurt." (Source: European Association for Jewish Studies).

Video Title: Hans Jonas and the Jewish Mysticism - Christian Wiese. Source: BenGurionUniversity. Date Published: February 27, 2013. Description:
Gnosticism, Critique of Nihilism and the Reception of Jewish Mysticism in Hans Jonas's Post-Holocaust Thought and Ethics, Prof. Christian Wiese.

General Al-Sisi Calls For Mass Protests; FSA Terrorists Rejoin Assad's Fold; USraeli-Backed Al-Qaeda Holds 200 Kurds As Hostages

I. General Al-Sisi Calls For Mass Protests, Eyes Destruction of Extremist Muslim Brotherhood.

An excerpt from, "Egypt: Preparing The Repression" by b, Moon of Alabama, July 24:
For the military the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo and the threat from the Sinai belong together. It is looking for ways to harshly clamp down on both.

The military chief General Al-Sisi has now called for large demonstrations to support a crack down:
"I urge the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police, a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism."
The military promised to protect the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood swallowed the bait:
The Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of Mr Morsi say they will go ahead with their own rallies on Friday, despite General Sisi's statement. Senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy said Gen Sisi was "calling for a civil war... to protect this military coup".
The Tamarod movement which coordinated the protest in June will take part in the protests Al-Sisi called for. The Salafi Nour Party, again playing smarter than the Brotherhood, called on all Egyptians not to protest on Friday. 
II. FSA Terrorists Rejoin Assad's Fold.

An excerpt from, "Syrian rebels defect to government" by Ruth Sherlock, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 24:
Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side.

Disillusioned by the Islamist twist that the "revolution" in Syria has taken, exhausted after more than two years of conflict and feeling that they are losing, growing numbers of rebels are signing up to a negotiated amnesty offered by the Assad regime.

At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.
"I used to fight for revolution, but now I think we have lost what we were fighting for," said Mohammed, a moderate Muslim rebel from the northern town of Raqqa who declined to give his last name. "Now extremists control my town. My family has moved back to the government side because our town is too unsafe. Assad is terrible, but the alternative is worse."

The prevalence of extremist Islamist groups in rebel-held areas, particularly in the north, has caused some opposition fighters to "give up" on their cause.
III.  USraeli-Backed Al-Qaeda Holds 200 Kurds As Hostages, Refuses To Let Them Go Even After Their Commander Was Released.

An excerpt from, "200 Kurds Held Hostage by Al-Qaeda" by Guardian Express, July 23:
The Russian Foreign Ministry is claiming that approximately 200 Kurdish men, women, and children continue to be held hostage by al-Qaeda extremists in the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, along the Syrian-Turkish border.

“In these areas, there has long been confrontation between the troops of the international extremists affiliated with al-Qaeda and local Kurdish militias who stood up to protect their homes from attacks by radical Islamists,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website.

Syrian Kurd fighters captured a rebel leader, or emir, identified as Abu Musab. In response, Al-Qaeda extremists abducted 500 civilians, including woman and children.

“They started to kill innocent people by cutting off their heads,” the statement read. “Kurds had to free Abu Musab in exchange for an agreement to release hostages.”

Although the Kurds agreed to release Abu Musab, and free the hostages, some 200 remain in control of rebel al-Qaeda forces.
Also, read, "Russia: Al-Qaeda-linked extremists hold 200 Kurdish civilians hostage as ‘live shield’ in Syria" (Russia Today, July 23).

Simon Critchley on Religion and Death

Simon Critchley on Religion and Death. Source: Big Think. Date Published: April 23, 2012. Description:
The philosopher talks about how suicide has become a taboo and how death could be regarded differently.

July 23, 2013

Henry Geiger - Moonshine And Sunlight (1984)

Henry Geiger (1908?-15 February 1989) was the editor, publisher, and chief writer of MANAS Journal which published from 1948-1988. Abraham Maslow called him “the only small ‘p’ philosopher America has produced in this century.”
MANAS was an eight-page philosophical weekly written, edited, and published by Henry Geiger from 1948 until December 1988. Each issue typically contained several short essays that reflected on the human condition, examining in particular environmental and ethical concerns from a global perspective. E. F. Schumacher's influential essay on Buddhist economics was published in the journal.
Below is an excerpt from, "Moonshine And Sunlight" by Henry Geiger. Source: MANAS Journal, Volume XXXVII, No. 9. February 29, 1984.
Reading in Thoreau sometimes produces an afterglow; it may last even a week, as now. He is so richly opposite to what we are, so consistently so. A historian once remarked that for Americans, the pursuit of happiness has become the happiness of pursuit. Not for Thoreau. He pursued nothing, allowing instead himself to be overtaken. His hungers were all temperate, and for nothing that was not within reach. Yet his life was made of fulfilled engagements. No one, he said, could kill time without injuring Eternity. Leisure brought the intensest, most pleasurable hours of his life. And he found the familiar to be best. "The scenery of Walden is on a humble scale," he said, "and, though very beautiful, does not approach to grandeur, nor can it much concern one who has not long frequented it or lived by its shore." Other men went in search of other sights, but Thoreau, while he traveled some, was most content at home.

Each day brought him a fresh lens for inspecting either the vistas or the minutiae of his surroundings. He had lenses too, for thought.
Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights. The shadows of poverty and meanness gather around us, "and lo! creation widens to our view." We are often reminded that if there were bestowed on us the wealth of Crœ sus , our aims must still be the same, and our means essentially the same. Moreover, if you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences; you are compelled to deal with the material which yields the most sugar and the most starch. It is life near the bone where it is sweetest. You are defended from being a trifler. No man loses ever on a lower level by magnanimity on a higher. Superfluous wealth can buy but superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
Here we have the man's sole occupation. He was a cataloguer of the soul's necessities. Shelter, food and drink were among them, but only in ancillary degree. And here he was most opposite of all to us. He needed little. To speak now of the soul and its needs is to earn only a vacant eye, a failing ear. The soul's hungers have been deadened by drugs or degraded into insatiable appetites.

Yet poverty and trouble may alter our susceptibilities. In harsh conditions the soul's ear regains its power of reception. And so it is, perhaps, that a century after the New Englander's death, another voice began to be heard. The subject of discourse was the things that are done for their own sakes. The speaker—in this case the writer—was E. F. Schumacher, and in his guise of an economist he spoke of the use of land, noting first that this is no ordinary topic in economics, but highly philosophical, not requiring "a special inventiveness of a technical kind."
Now, anything that we do for its own sake does not lend itself to calculation. For instance, most of us try to keep ourselves reasonably clean. You cannot calculate the value of this; certainly you cannot apply an economic calculus. In fact, to wash is totally un- economic. Nobody has ever made any profit out of washing himself. There are many activities, when you come to think of it, which are totally uneconomic because they are carried on for their own sakes. So the first point I am making is that ends, as distinct from means, are not matters of economic calculation. They are not economic but if you like meta-economic. Just as we can have physics and meta-physics, so we can have economics and meta-economics. . . .

People believe today that clean air and clean water are worthy objectives, but is land to be considered as an end in itself, worth bothering about? I am afraid we are still a long way from that. Of course, it can still come; you have only to think back about 100 years when many people were quite incapable of thinking of the fifth element as an end in itself, which is of course the human being—man himself. We had theories, which are still leading a ghostly and unpleasant existence, that man was just an economic phenomenon. . . . But I am glad to say we have to some extent got away from this; in present-day economics man is generally taken not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. You know what happens when people start mixing up means and ends. . . . you find all through present-day societies all sorts of extraordinary attempts to reduce what we all recognize as final values to an economic calculus. . . . So I am saying that if one mistakes what is an end in itself, and treats it as a means, then there is a degradation of life. . . .

So now we come to our question: Can we say, do we believe, that a healthy and beautiful countryside is an end in itself? The moment we say yes to that, we do not have to discuss any more whether it is economic or uneconomic. . . . We waste our time if we think, this is a matter for scientific proof. No one can prove that it is right to love anybody, or to care for anything, or to have respect for anything. No one can prove that it is right to care for the future. If somebody says to me, "Thou shalt not exploit thy fellow man," I can always answer, "Why not?" There is no conclusion to it in logic. We see intuitively— call it what you like—that there are values that do not have to be argued, with regard to not exploiting or killing our fellow men.
But calculation still rules our lives. We still suppose we can convert the immeasurable into finite quantities and make decisions according to their weight. There are even calculators who think it feasible to put a dollar value on human life, or tell us how many deaths in nuclear war the economy can survive. The language of the calculus—although its axioms are intuitively established—takes no account of intuition, has no terms for recognition of its validity. So we go on pretending to count the incommeasurables, dividing them up into units of value which in fact have no meaning to anybody, and drawing conclusions which give mathematical sanction to the dictates of appetite, even though appetites, like intuitions, require no proofs to make them acceptable.

Yet there is a sense in which the passage of time renders our intuitions into calculable values. If we ignore our intuitions long enough, they cause finite intrusions on our lives. A final comment by Schumacher takes this into account:
We know too much about ecology today to have any excuse for the many abuses that are now going on in the management of the land, in the management of animals, in food storage, food processing, food distribution, and in needless urbanization. But as a society we have, at this point of time no firm basis of belief in any meta-economic values, and when there is no such belief economics takes over. This is quite inevitable. How could it be otherwise? Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available space is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will be filled by something lower, by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalized in the economic calculus.
Well, what shall we do? Try to moralize away the clouds of unbelief? Talk learnedly about the calculus of spirit? Tell educators to study the techniques of self-realizing discovery? It doesn't work. Moralizing has the taste of piety and the odor of sanctity, but it offends the integrity of self-reliant souls, and they are the only ones worth reaching, since copycats never make history. They make cultural lag. The virtues are not virtues when practiced at second hand.