Soros and reptilians controlling the world: Yair Netanyahu posts meme rife with anti-Semitic themes

September 18th, 2017


Yair Netanyahu’s meme IMAGE/Screenshot from Facebook

Ex-KKK leader David Duke comes to the defense of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s son after he posts a meme that suggests a conspiracy is behind his family’s growing legal problems

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posted an image on his Facebook page Saturday that seems to suggest a conspiracy is behind his family’s growing legal problems. The meme is laden with anti-Semitic imagery.

Update: Following outcry, Yair Netanyahu has removed the meme from his Facebook page. Evidence of David Duke’s support, however, is still visible.

The meme, captioned “the food chain,” features a photo of George Soros dangling the world in front of a reptilian creature, who dangles an alchemy symbol in front of a caricature of a figure reminiscent of the anti-Semitic “happy merchant” image.

The other figures in the chain are former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, anti-Netanyahu protest leader Eldad Yaniv and Meni Naftali, a former chief caretaker at the Netanyahus’ official residence who implicated Sara Netanyahu in the case she is being indicted in.

Netanyahu’s son posts a meme suggesting (((Soros))) is controlling the world: “Meme rife with anti-Semitic themes”
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) September 9, 2017

David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted the following in an apparent show of support for Yair Netanyahu:

Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish American billionaire, has spent a large part of his fortune funding pro-democracy and human rights groups. Among the organizations he funds is Human Rights Watch, a frequent critic of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its policies toward the Palestinians. The images of Soros and the reptile evoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories claiming that Jews control the world.

Haaretz for more

What I learned by looking at 734 Playboy centerfolds in one sitting

September 18th, 2017


Just one of hundreds of butts in this book PHOTO/Chronicle Books

There’s no wrong way to read Playboy’s new coffee table book of naked ladies. You can breeze through the encyclopedic collection of centerfolds in chunks, stopping when a shiny lower lip or well-groomed clitoral hood catches your interest. You can use the index to find a favorite Playmate, if you’re the kind of person who has a favorite Playmate. You can turn to the year you were born or bat mitzvahed and see what the residents of dudeland were drooling over that month. You can flick the pages like a flipbook, watching faces and skin blur together like a demonic wormhole that really, really wants to have sex with you.

But if you’re going to drop up to $75 on an eight-and-a-half-pound volume of exposed flesh, I’d recommend taking an hour or so to leaf through the entire thing, page by page. Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds, 1953-2016 offers exactly what it advertises: every single centerfold the magazine has published through February of last year. That is a remarkable number of bodies to trap in one volume. Taken together, they offer a kind of biological survey few humans will experience in their lifetimes. Even the world’s busiest doctors and most-overbooked porn stars don’t see 700-some-odd naked women in a single hour.

If you take this route, as I did on Thursday afternoon in a painstakingly sequestered corner of the Slate office, you will catalog approximately 1,400 nipples of various shades, textures, and surface areas. You will see several hundred labia and, if you have a set, think carefully about your own. You will despair at how the satin robe and garter belt industries have escaped any attempts at meaningful innovation in the past half-century. You will wonder why, in the 2010s, just as Earth was experiencing the hottest temperatures in recorded history, all women suddenly got visibly cold.

This volume is actually something of a reprint. The first edition was published a decade ago; the book that came out on Tuesday includes the most recent 10 years and a new, short essay from Elizabeth Wurtzel on the centerfolds of the 2010s. Playboy is marketing it as a kind of chronology of the female body seen through the proverbial male gaze, a way to track how beauty ideals and sexual fantasies have evolved since Hugh Hefner printed the magazine’s first issue.

Slate for more

Weekend Edition

September 15th, 2017

The sealed lips of Aung San Suu Kyi

September 15th, 2017


In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, tens of thousands of refugees flee over the border from Myanmar PHOTO/Kathleen Prior/Vice

Aung San Suu Kyi delivering her Nobel Lecture in the Oslo City Hall, 16 June, 2012 PHOTO/Ken Opprann/Nobel Prize

the non-Muslim leaders who terrorize their minorities
never forget to remind the world of “Islamic terrorism”
their propaganda seems to have Biblical weight
they would like the world to believe:

“In the beginning there were Islamic terrorists,
then our war against terrorism began.”

although the facts are totally opposite
the West created these monsters for their own motives

joining the chorus is none other than
the West’s beloved Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi
the Rohingya Muslims – the victims – are the terrorists

the fact is that Myanmar’s army
is killing and expelling Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine State
their homes are being burned down
1,000 people have died violently
Rohingya women are raped mercilessly

Suu Kyi won’t be attending the US General Assembly this week
her spokesman Zaw Htay, cited three reasons
due to the prevailing situation in her country:
Rakhine terrorist attacks
“people inciting riots”
“there will be terrorist attacks”

reporters were supplied with fake photos
of Muslims “caught in the act
that is they were burning their own homes

the reality of course is totally different
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says,

“Because Myanmar has refused access
to human rights investigators
the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed,
but the situation seems
a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

in the last two weeks
370,000 Rohingya people
have fled their homeland and entered Bangladesh as refugees
(border country Bangladesh has witnessed
such influx of Rohingya Muslims in the past too
during the 2016 horrific army assault on Rohingya Muslims
Aung san Suu Kyi was criticized
for her silence by fellow Nobel Laureates)

Aung San Suu Kyi once remarked:
“If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.”
but she doesn’t feel helpless
(why would she feel helpless?
she is Myanmar’s State Counselor)
because she does not feel “helpless”
that’s why she’s not helping Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar refuses to grant them citizenship
despite the fact that they have been living there for generations

many people, including Nobel laureates, have urged her
to speak out against the injustices
being committed against the Rohingya Muslims

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu pleaded:

“My dear sister:
If the political price of your ascension
to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence,
the price is surely too steep.”

the famous poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz once wrote:

Speak, for your lips are free;
Speak, your tongue is still yours.

Aung San Suu Kyi shouldn’t be forced to open her lips
nothing good is going to come out of those powerful lips
she’s just a petty nationalist with feelings for her own
she hates Rohingyas so, for them she won’t open her lips

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

Svetlana Alexievich: A poet of people

September 15th, 2017


Russian nurse attends wounded soldier during attack on Nazi positions in Stalingrad, 1942-1943 PHOTO/Via chndrskr/Flickr

The “Nobel laureate of Russian misery” reaches American readers, and new heights.

“So what is it that I do? I collect the everyday life of feelings, thoughts, and words. I collect the life of my time.”

—Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel lecture, 2015

The Prize

October 8, 2015. It was mid-afternoon in Sweden and the Nobel Foundation was about ready to do its thing. The world’s media was waiting to publish one of two stories—either congratulations or apologies to Philip Roth, or Haruki Murakami, or Adonis. Or, maybe the Foundation’s recent penchant for awarding the world’s most prestigious literary prize to someone relatively unknown in the States would strike again. People were even watching the live stream. Well, me. I was watching the live stream. That magical moment you find in theaters or concert halls arrived—all the ambient noise suddenly crested and then fell into silent anticipation. The door opened and flashbulbs started almost simultaneously. Not being fluent in Swedish, I listened for whatever was obviously a name. Was it going to be Roth? DeLillo? The last American was Toni Morrison in 1994. Right before Ladbrokes closed the bets, the odds favored Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian journalist and writer. Her entire body of published work was five volumes, only two of which had been published in the United States.

The bettors were right: the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Alexievich, “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” In a somewhat unfair but not entirely inaccurate rendering, the New York Times’ Rachel Donadio deemed Alexievich “the Nobel Laureate of Russian Misery.” Though her work seems to have a through line to sadness of a marrow-deep level, there is also much joy, love, humor, and a sense of the marvelous in each of her oral histories.

War + Remembrance

As of next year, Svetlana Alexievich’s entire oeuvre, thus far, will finally be available in English. It can be seen as divided into two very distinct periods, which nevertheless exist in conversation. A reader can’t begin to grapple with the magnitude of Alexievich’s project by reading just a smattering of the books, or fully comprehend it without reading them all. In fact, a reading in proper chronological order (historically speaking) cracks something stark but wonderful wide open—nothing less than a spotlight on the Russian soul, national, cultural, romantic, religious, and otherwise.

Guernica for more

Will Google take over the classroom?

September 15th, 2017


PHOTO/Erin Lubin/Bloomberg/Getty Images/CNBC

Silicon Valley types say that with enough data, they can ‘fix’ education. Where are the teachers in this grand edtech plan?

‘We look at education technology as one of the great hopes of the British economy.’

So said Liam Maxwell, digital czar to the British government, at the inaugural Global Summit of the edtech industry late last year.1

‘When I say “open door” I mean it,’ he stressed to the audience at London’s City Hall. ‘We have an open door on policy.’

November’s celebratory summit was sponsored by Google and had no fewer than five UK government departments represented. It showed the scope – and ambition – of the burgeoning edtech industry, a term that covers businesses that produce everything from digital tools for teaching, testing and tracking pupils to platforms and operating systems on which whole schools are run.

Britain is betting on education as a growth opportunity for its technology industry – and it is not alone. Edtech is now a global trend. The US has set the pace, but countries as disparate as New Zealand/Aotearoa, Chile and India are also pushing their edtech industries. Australia is another that has plans to use technology to significantly increase its share of the global education market.

Global spending on education is currently around $5 trillion, yet only a tiny fraction is delivered digitally.2 It is, in Maxwell’s words, a ‘target-rich opportunity’. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, for example, that ‘51 out of 54 African countries are committing huge amounts of money to the use of edtech and ICT [information and communications technology] in their education reform programmes’, as another civil servant at the Summit noted.

Three months later, these same government departments were duly going all out to promote Britain’s edtech offering at the Education World Forum, at a conference centre opposite Parliament. Another joint venture between government and industry – this time led by tech giants Microsoft and Hewlett Packard – it hosted education ministers from more than 80 countries to discuss future policy, mostly in private, including ways to encourage teachers to get on board with technology.

Ministers were then ferried across London to sample first-hand the technology that promises to fix their school systems and transform education, at BETT, the UK’s major edtech trade show.

The edtech-reformers

The global edtech lobby tells a great many stories about why technology must be used to ‘transform’ education: how it will equip children with vital 21st-century skills; solve the problem of pupil disengagement; increase equality; ‘personalize learning’ in ways never seen and free up valuable teacher time.

New Internationalist for more

So, who did discover America?

September 14th, 2017


A map of the world illustrating a 14th-century manuscript of al-Biruni’s ‘Elements of Astrology’

Abu Raihan al-Biruni, an Islamic scholar from Central Asia, may have discovered the New World centuries before Columbus – without leaving his study.

For more than a century an army of scholars, enthusiasts and outright eccentrics has delved into the question of who discovered America. Some of the claims are truly exotic, with fanciful reportage on ancient Phoenicians in Rhode Island or Chinese from the Middle Kingdom in the Bay Area. Back in the 1950s the colourful Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl contended that Peruvians in sailboats made of balsa wood were commuting back and forth between the Americas and Polynesia centuries before Columbus set sail.

Leaving aside patently absurd theories, there are a number of serious­ claimants for the title. First comes Zuan Chabotto (c.1450-99), the Venetian navigator and explorer. His claim turns on the fact that Columbus did not reach the American mainland until 1498, while he touched the North American shore a full year earlier. That he had set sail from England caused him to be remembered in the Anglophone world as John Cabot and shifted bragging rights from Venice to the ‘Sceptred Isle’. Then it turned out that, while Cabot found investors in Bristol and received a patent from Henry VII, his principal financial backer was an Italian banking house in London. The laurels shifted back to Italy.

History Today for more

Why every feminist should stand up for breastfeeding

September 14th, 2017


Every day in America, a breastfeeding mom is kicked out of a public place, asked to go nurse in a closet or bathroom, or otherwise shamed simply for doing what her body biologically does as part of the normal course of childbirth. Call me crazy, but policing how women can use their bodies used to be something feminists got riled up about. Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, every woman deserves the same protections when exercising that choice in public.

Instead, because breasts are viewed as the sexual objects of men or the marketing tools of the beer and burger industries, when they are used for their normal biological purpose, women are told that is unacceptable. Worse, too many women have drunk the patriarchal Kool-Aid, often serving as the the most judgmental actors and harshest critics of other women.

How exactly is this supporting womanhood?

To be fair, historically mainstream feminist ideology has resisted breastfeeding advocacy because of feminism’s aim to reject cultural norms that use guilt and coercion to label women’s behavior as “good” or “bad,” and that is often the perception around most breastfeeding awareness campaigns. But taking a position to resist breastfeeding advocacy without looking at who is peddling guilt among mothers or at the public health consequence does a great disservice to all women. If you look closely, you will see that it has been commercial interests—which often derive their power and purse from a woman’s need for identity and the vulnerability of the transition to motherhood—that have been peddling dangerous messages and making millions from the so-called mommy wars. Pitting women against each other distracts us from focusing on the unfair, systemic barriers, policy gaps, and profit motives, and this keeps us in a simplistic, individualized conversation. When breastfeeding is framed as a personal choice, it need not have anything to do with greedy corporations, body politics, employer practices, or the lack of a federal maternity leave policy.

And speaking of all women, building a broad-based women’s movement that doesn’t include all the roles women will play throughout their lives will never get us to the “Promised Land.” Statistics report that almost 80% of women will become mothers at some point in their lives. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of American women in their mid-40s who are childless is now at its lowest point in 20 years. So, if the reproductive rights movement is only focused on preventing pregnancy and terminating unwanted pregnancies (all very important rights), but it doesn’t fight for women if they actually choose to use their reproductive organs and take on mothering work, then we will not have a true women’s movement that represents all the protections women need for their life continuum. We need feminist voices supporting the right to feed and pushing for women’s rights post-pregnancy. And that means talking about breastfeeding. After all, breastfeeding completes the reproductive cycle by feeding that which our reproductive organs produced.

Women’s eNews for more

When the man who wrote Pakistan’s national anthem saw the divine in Hindu god Krishna

September 14th, 2017


Poet Hafeez Jalandhri PHOTO/Sach TV

This year, Pakistan’s 70th Independence anniversary and Janmashtami (the Hindu festival celebrating Krishna’s birth) fell on the same day: August 14th. With that coincidence in mind, I want to share a very unique Urdu poem: Krishn Kanhaiya.

This nazm is by Hafeez Jalandhari, the Urdu poet most well-known for composing the lyrics to Pakistan’s national anthem, the Qaumi Taranah. Born in the Punjabi city of Jalandhar (now in India), he moved to Lahore following India and Pakistan’s independence and Partition in 1947.

As its title suggests, Krishn Kanhaiya is a poem about the Hindu god Krishna. Today, the mere idea of a Muslim poet writing about a Hindu deity raises all sorts of emotions among different groups in South Asia: surprise, joy, curiosity, suspicion, anger.
However, there is much more depth to Krishn Kanhaiya than meets the eye. This is no ordinary devotional poem. Jalandhari, ever a politically-minded thinker and writer, draws upon the mythology and persona of Krishna in order to produce a poem that is simultaneously devotional and political in nature.

It is, in fact, a call to liberate India from British colonial rule. Moreover, this poem, especially when examined in comparison with Jalandhari’s more famous work, the Qaumi Taranah, can tell us a great deal about the cultural politics of South Asia in the 20th century and today.

Setting the scene

Let’s begin with a close reading of Krishn Kanhaiya.

In the very first line of the poem, Jalandhari addresses his readers as onlookers (dekhne w?lo). Although this may seem trivial, I believe there is a deeper significance to this choice of words. Urdu poetry is usually meant to be heard, not read silently. One popular type of poetry, the ghazal, is sung, while nazms (of which Krishn Kanhaiya is one) are usually recited. Yet, Jalandhari chooses dekhne w?lo, “those who look,” to characterise the consumer of this poem.

Could Jalandhari’s choice of words be referring to the importance Hinduism gives to seeing God? I don’t think it would be inaccurate to describe Hinduism as a religion which, among the fives senses, gives primacy to sight as a way of connecting to the Divine.
The central act of devotion when one goes to a Hindu temple is darshan: gazing upon the decorated image of the deity. And, of course, the incredibly intricate and symbolic iconography of Hindu gods and goddesses suggests the importance of saguna brahman, God With a Form.

By addressing the readers of the poem as “onlookers” instead of “listeners” or “readers,” Jalandhari might be encouraging them to engage in an act of darshan in their mind. As they read or hear the poem, he encourages them to also visualise Krishna in their minds.

Dawn for more

America on the brink of nuclear war: background to the North Korean crisis (part 1)

September 13th, 2017


PHOTO/Steve Snodgrass | CC BY 2.0

The US and North Korea are on the brink of hostilities that if begun would almost certainly lead to a nuclear exchange. This is the expressed judgment of most competent observers. They differ over the causes of this confrontation and over the size, range and impact of the weapons that would be fired, but no one can doubt that even a “limited” nuclear exchange would have horrifying effects throughout much of the world including North America.

So how did we get to this point, what are we now doing and what could be done to avoid what would almost certainly be the disastrous consequences of even a “limited” nuclear war?

The media is replete with accounts of the latest pronouncements and events, but both in my personal experience in the closest we ever came to a nuclear disaster, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and from studying many other “flash points,” I have learned that failure to appreciate the background and sequence of events makes one incapable of understanding the present and so is apt to lead to self-defeating actions. With this warning in mind, I will recount in Part 1 how we and the Koreans got to where we are. Then in Part 2, I will address how we might go to war, what that would mean and what we can do to stay alive.

Throughout most of its history, Korea regarded China as its teacher. It borrowed from China Confucianism, its concepts of law, its canons of art and its method of writing. For these, it usually paid tribute to the Chinese emperor.

With Japan, relations were different. Armed with the then weapon of mass destruction, the musket, Japan invaded Korea in 1592 and occupied it with more than a quarter of a million soldiers. The Koreans, armed only with bows and arrows, were beaten into submission. But, because of events in Japan, and particularly the decision to give up the gun, the Japanese withdrew in less than a decade and left Korea on its own.

Nominally unified under one kingdom, Korean society was already divided between the Puk-in or “people of the North” and the Nam-in or “people of the South.” How significant this division was in practical politics is unclear, but apparently it played a role in thwarting attempts at reform and in keeping the country isolated from outside influences. It also weakened the country and facilitated the second intrusion of the Japanese. In search of iron ore for their nascent industry, they “opened” the country in 1876. Hot on the Japanese trail came the Americans who established diplomatic relations with the Korean court in 1882.

American missionaries, most of whom doubled as merchants, followed the flag. Christianity often came in the guise of commerce. Missionary-merchants lived apart from Koreans in segregated American-style towns, much as the British had done in India earlier in the century. They seldom met with the natives except to trade. Unlike their counterparts in the Middle East, the Americans were not noted for “good works.” They spent more time selling goods than teaching English, repairing bodies or proselytizing; so while Koreans admired their wares all but a few clung to Confucian ways.

CounterPunch for more