Search | Categories | Books | About me | Contact me | Page 1
November 30 2015 | Politics | 0 comments
Thank You Mr. Gutman
photo: Richard Harris

I wasn't a huge fan of Howard Gutman when he first came to Brussels as US Ambassador as he was one of the pay-to-play ambassadors; he donated significantly to the Obama presidential campaign as a wealthy lawyer and TV actor. But he then he was savagely attacked as anti-Semitic (despite being a Jew) for his balanced approach to the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and was basically left to hang by the State Department and the White House. And if that wasn't enough, just weeks before the end of his ambassadorship he was cruelly vilified in a completely fabricated gay prostitute sex scandal and again, he received no help from the State Department and the White House. Click here for the whole story including the State Department's apology 15 months later.

Why bring this up now? Because he recently spoke about the ridiculous "failed state" accusations made by the international media about Belgium:
" Belgium is anything but the failed state it was made out to be in the international media following the terror attacks in Paris on 13 November, former US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman told television news programme De Zevende Dag. "The only failure Belgium has had, is that it let others control the message," he said.

The facts speak for themselves, Gutman added, citing Belgium's 14th place in the Global Peace Index, which ranks the nations of the world according to their level of peacefulness. The UK is number 39 in the list, and the United States ranks 94th. “If Belgium is a failed state, then the US would have to be Afghanistan," Gutman said in the interview.

When asked why the international media were jumping to conclusions about Belgium and calling it a failed state, Gutman replied, “The international media need to sell papers.”

“It's not a matter of failed state, it's failed journalism,” he concluded, adding that the most dangerous thing about Belgium is its chocolate because of the risk of high cholesterol.
0 comments | Post your comment
November 29 2015 | Art - Comics | 0 comments
Happy 30th! We Miss You

Calvin and Hobbes was first published thirty years ago. Considering how much I loved the strip and how permanent it seems to me it's hard to believe that it was only published for ten years.

"Thirty years ago, a spiky-haired little boy set a trap with a tuna fish sandwich, and one of the most iconic friendships in comic strip history was born.

The first strip of "Calvin And Hobbes" ran on Nov. 18, 1985, introducing the world to the mischievous young Calvin (named for the 16th-century theologian) and his pet tiger Hobbes (named for the 17th-century philosopher).

Once called called "America's most profound comic strip," the beloved comic ran for just a decade before creator Bill Watterson retired it on Dec. 31, 1995.

Watterson, who famously resisted merchandising his creations (unlike "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz) told The Washington Post in March that "A comic strip, like anything else, has a natural life span."

Lee Salem, the comic's editor, assessed the enduring legacy of the boy and his tiger 30 years on.

"I don’t doubt that thirty years from now some young reader will stumble upon 'Calvin and Hobbes' and re-discover how good comic strips can be," Salem said in an interview posted on the comic strip's official website. "To my mind, that is Bill’s great legacy, a challenge to readers to keep looking for the most talented and creative cartoonists and a challenge to cartoonists to keep trying to reach that goal.""
0 comments | Post your comment
November 16 2015 | Politics - USA | 0 comments
Exploiting Emotions
photo: Richard Harris (of a photo by Cedric Gerbehaye)

Glenn Greenwald
Nov. 15 2015, 1:23 p.m.

"Whistleblowers are always accused of helping America’s enemies (top Nixon aides accused Daniel Ellsberg of being a Soviet spy and causing the deaths of Americans with his leak); it’s just the tactical playbook that’s automatically used. So it’s of course unsurprising that ever since Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing enabled newspapers around the world to report on secretly implemented programs of mass surveillance, he has been accused by “officials” and their various media allies of Helping The Terrorists™.

Still, I was a bit surprised just by how quickly and blatantly — how shamelessly — some of them jumped to exploit the emotions prompted by the carnage in France to blame Snowden: doing so literally as the bodies still lay on the streets of Paris. At first, the tawdry exploiters were the likes of crazed ex-intelligence officials (former CIA chief James Woolsey, who once said Snowden “should be hanged by his neck until he is dead” and now has deep ties to private NSA contractors, along with Iran–obsessed Robert Baer); former Bush/Cheney apparatchiks (ex-White House spokesperson and current Fox personality Dana Perino); right-wing polemicists fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarism; and obscure Fox News comedians (Perino’s co-host). So it was worth ignoring save for the occasional Twitter retort.

But now we’ve entered the inevitable “U.S. Officials Say” stage of the “reporting” on the Paris attack — i.e., journalists mindlessly and uncritically repeat whatever U.S. officials whisper in their ear about what happened. So now credible news sites are regurgitating the claim that the Paris Terrorists were enabled by Snowden leaks — based on no evidence or specific proof of any kind, needless to say, but just the unverified, obviously self-serving assertions of government officials. But much of the U.S. media loves to repeat rather than scrutinize what government officials tell them to say. So now this accusation has become widespread and is thus worth examining with just some of the actual evidence.

One key premise here seems to be that prior to the Snowden reporting, The Terrorists helpfully and stupidly used telephones and unencrypted emails to plot, so Western governments were able to track their plotting and disrupt at least large-scale attacks. That would come as a massive surprise to the victims of the attacks of 2002 in Bali, 2004 in Madrid, 2005 in London, 2008 in Mumbai, and April 2013 at the Boston Marathon. How did the multiple perpetrators of those well-coordinated attacks — all of which were carried out prior to Snowden’s June 2013 revelations — hide their communications from detection?...

...Perpetrators were either known to Western security agencies or they had ample reason to watch them. All three perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre “were known to French authorities,” as was the thwarted train attacker in July and at least one of the Paris attackers. These agencies receive billions and billions of dollars every year and radical powers, all in the name of surveilling Bad People and stopping attacks.

So when they fail in their ostensible duty, and people die because of that failure, it’s a natural instinct to blame others: Don’t look to us; it’s Snowden’s fault, or the fault of Apple, or the fault of journalists, or the fault of encryption designers, or anyone’s fault other than ours. If you’re a security agency after a successful Terror attack, you want everyone looking elsewhere, finding all sorts of culprits other than those responsible for stopping such attacks.

Above all, there’s the desperation to prevent people from asking how and why ISIS was able to spring up seemingly out of nowhere and be so powerful, able to blow up a Russian passenger plane, a market in Beirut, and the streets of Paris in a single week. That’s the one question Western officials are most desperate not to be asked, so directing people’s ire to Edward Snowden and Apple is beneficial in the extreme.

The origins of ISIS are not even in dispute. The Washington Post put it simply: “almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes.” Even Tony Blair — Tony Blair — admits that there’d be no ISIS without the invasion of Iraq: “‘I think there are elements of truth in that,’ he said when asked whether the Iraq invasion had been the ‘principal cause’ of the rise of ISIS.” As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy put it in August:

By destroying the Iraqi state and setting off reverberations across the region that, ultimately, led to a civil war in Syria, the 2003 invasion created the conditions in which a movement like ISIS could thrive. And, by turning public opinion in the United States and other Western countries against anything that even suggests a prolonged military involvement in the Middle East, the war effectively precluded the possibility of a large-scale multinational effort to smash the self-styled caliphate.

Then there’s the related question of how ISIS has become so well-armed and powerful. There are many causes, but a leading one is the role played by the U.S. and its “allies in the region” (i.e., Gulf tyrannies) in arming them, unwittingly or (in the case of its “allies in the region”) otherwise, by dumping weapons and money into the region with little regard to where they go (even U.S. officials openly acknowledge that their own allies have funded ISIS). But the U.S.’s own once-secret documents strongly suggest U.S. complicity as well, albeit inadvertent, in the rise of ISIS,..."

"...The clear, overwhelming evidence — compiled above — demonstrates how much deceit their blame-shifting accusations require. But the more important point of inquiry is to ask why they are so eager to ensure that everyone but themselves receives scrutiny for what is happening. The answer to that question is equally clear, and disturbing in the extreme."

Click here for the full article from The Intercept.
0 comments | Post your comment
November 14 2015 | Politics | 0 comments
Hot And Cold
It's all very nice that the cities of the world are paying their respect to the victims in Paris with the Blue, White and Red but when the UK and France, obeying an American diktat, bombed Libya and killed thousands of innocent civilians did any municipality bathe itself in Libyan colors?
0 comments | Post your comment
October 11 2015 | Art - Brussels | 0 comments
Benoît Brisefer Mural
photo: Richard Harris

Benoît Brisefer finally has his own mural. Brisefer (Breakiron) is a little boy who is uncommonly strong unless he has a cold in which case he is like any other little boy. He was created by Peyo who is most famous for having created the Smurfs.
0 comments | Post your comment
PREVIOUS PAGE |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| NEXT PAGE