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Sunday, October 07, 2007


Weekend reading

Naomi Klein from an article last month in The Nation:
Recently, as protesters gathered outside the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit in Montebello, Quebec, to confront US President George W. Bush, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Associated Press reported this surreal detail: "Leaders were not able to see the protesters in person, but they could watch the protesters on TV monitors inside the hotel.... Cameramen hired to ensure that demonstrators would be able to pass along their messages to the three leaders sat idly in a tent full of audio and video equipment.... A sign on the outside of the tent said, 'Our cameras are here today providing your right to be seen and heard. Please let us help you get your message out. Thank You.'"

Yes, it's true: Like contestants on a reality TV show, protesters at the SPP were invited to vent into video cameras, their rants to be beamed to protest-trons inside the summit enclave. It was security state as infotainment--Big Brother meets, well, Big Brother.

The spokesperson for Prime Minister Harper explained that although protesters were herded into empty fields, the video-link meant that their right to political speech was protected. "Under the law, they need to be seen and heard, and they will be."
Excerpts from Noam Chomsky's new book, "What We Say Goes":
I don't know if it happened, but according to the account from Saint Augustine, a pirate was brought to Alexander, who asked him, "How dare you molest the seas with your piracy?" The pirate answered, "How dare you molest the world? I have a small ship, so they call me a pirate. You have a great navy, so they call you an emperor. But you're molesting the whole world. I'm doing almost nothing by comparison."
On understanding world politics: "This isn't quantum physics. There are complexities and details. You have to learn a lot and get the data right, but the basic principles are so transparent, it takes a major effort not to perceive them.
On Sy Hersh: "He's a terrific reporter, and I'm sure he's reporting exactly what was told to him. But his sources are intelligence officials and diplomats, often unnamed. Their task is not to tell people the truth but to tell people what they want them to hear. You've got to understand that any report from an unidentified intelligence or diplomatic source is what they want you to believe. It may or may not be true."
On "moderates": "...the moderates, who say the attack on Lebanese civilians is 'disproportionate.' It's not disproportionate, it's outrageous."
"Nobody is as pure as the driven snow. But the problem we should be concerned with is the United States. After all, that's us. That's what we're doing."

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