Betty Boop and commodity fetishism

July 31, 2010 at 6:51 pm (Champagne Charlie, cinema, comedy, jazz, Marxism, modernism, surrealism)

Un-fuckin’- believable!

Fleischer Studios, 1932

“The simplicity of commodity fetishism makes it a starting point and example for analysing non-economic relations. It establishes a dichotomy between appearance and concealed reality (without the former necessarily being false) which can be taken up in the analysis of IDEOLOGY. It discusses social relations conducted as and in the form of relations between commodities or things and this has application to the theory of REIFICATION and ALIENATION. (See also FETISHISM.)” – Ben Fine, ‘Commodity Fetishism’ in ‘A Dictionary of Marxist Thought’, ed Tom Bottomore, pub: Blackwell 1983.

H/t: Norman Field

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Israel/Palestine: Avnery on why racists support “one state”

July 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm (israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine, Racism, strange situations)

Uri Avnery explains why the Israeli right’s interest in a “one-state” solution is thoroughly racist and reactionary:

“Ethnic cleansing can be carried out dramatically (as in this country in 1948 and in Kosovo in 1998) or in a quiet and systematic way, by dozens of sophisticated methods, as is happening now in east Jerusalem.

“But there cannot be the slightest doubt that this is the final stage of the one-state vision of the rightists. The first stage will be an effort to fill the entire country with settlements and to demolish any chance of implementing the two-state solution, which is the only realistic basis for peace.”

Read the rest here.

Freedland in the Graun is also worth reading, but he’s nowhere as near as sharp as Avnery.

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Stop the execution of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran

July 30, 2010 at 12:02 am (Human rights, Iran, Jackie Mcdonough, women)

Press conference of the International Committee Against Stoning

11am – Friday 30 July 2010,

Conway Hall,
Red Lion Square,

New information on the threatened execution of 43 year old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, and others who have been also sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, will be revealed at a London press conference this Friday by Mina Ahadi, Coordinator of the International Committee Against Executions and the International Committee Against Stoning.

Other press conference speakers include Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity spokesperson, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The press conference will take place this Friday, 30 July, in the Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL, from 11am to 12 noon.

The meeting is open to the media and the public. All opponents of the death penalty and supporters of international human rights are welcome to attend.

“In response to the international outcry, some Iranian officials report that Sakineh’s execution has been put on hold,” said Peter Tatchell.

“Other reports suggest that the stoning sentence has been revoked and that she will be hanged instead.

“All these reports remain unconfirmed by the Iranian judiciary, which has the final say.

“Sakineh is still under threat of execution.

“The government of Iran has banned the country’s media from reporting Sakineh’s case, which suggests they know most Iranians do not support the barbarity of stoning. 

“To deflect international condemnation, the Iranian authorities have falsely claimed that Sakineh was sentenced to death for committing murder, when court documents clearly show that she was condemned to be stoned for having sex outside of marriage.

“The Tehran regime has issued an arrest warrant for Sakineh’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei. It has arrested his wife and brother-in-law, neither of whom have committed any crime. They are being detained in an apparent bid to force Mostafaei to hand himself over the police.

“The death sentence passed on Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani for committing adultery is disproportionate, excessive and a violation of human rights.

“Stoning a person to death is particularly barbaric. It has no legitimate place in any legal system in the twenty-first century; especially for a non-violent act of adultery between consenting adults.

“Even if the sentence has been changed from stoning to hanging, any execution is immoral.

“The real crimes are the cruel, barbaric and inhuman acts of stoning and other forms of execution. The death penalty should be abolished – in Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, the US and worldwide.” added Mr Tatchell.

Please sign the Avaaz petition to save Sakineh’s life:
For more information about the press conference and campaign, contact:

Maryam Namazie

International Committee Against Executions:
International Committee Against Stoning:
Iran Solidarity:

See also: Open letter by international campaigners.

Cross-posted from Harry’s Place

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Mo Farah backs Somaliland

July 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm (africa, asylum, immigration, Jim D, sport, war)

Mo Farah

Mo Farah’s stunning victory in the  European Championship 10,000 metres, his good-humoured sportsmanship and his loyalty to his friend Chris Thompson, should serve to remind us of just what a wonderful contribution refugees have made to this country. Mo came here in 1993 as a nine-year-old refugee from the war-torn hell-hole that was (and is) Mogadishu. Evidently he loves his adopted country, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots. On Tuesday night, someone in the Barcelona crowd threw him a Somaliland flag. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and is under threat from the fundamentalist thugs of the Islamic Courts Union.

According to the Graun, Mo would seem to be sympathetic to Somaliland and commented, “It’s part of Somalia now trying to be recognised as a republic. They’ve just got a new government. I was chucked the flag and I thought: ‘Yeah, OK.'”

regionally known as
Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland
جمهورية أرض الصومال
Jumhūrīyat Arḍ aṣ-Ṣūmāl
Republic of Somaliland
Flag National Emblem
Mottoلا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله  (Arabic)
Lā ilāhā illā-llāhu; muhammadun rasūlu-llāhi  (transliteration)
“There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God”And also:”Justice, Peace, Freedom, Democracy and Success for All”
AnthemSama ku waar
Capital Hargeisa
9°33′N 44°03′E / 9.55°N 44.05°E / 9.55; 44.05
Official language(s) Somali, Arabic, English[1]
Government Constitutional presidential republic
 –  President Ahmed M. Mahamoud Silanyo
 –  Vice-President Abdirahman Saylici
Independence from the United Kingdom & Somalia 
 –  Establishment 1884 
 –  Independence 26 June 1960 
 –  Union with Italian Somaliland as Somalia 1 July 1960 
 –  Withdrawal from Somalia 18 May 1991 
 –  Total 137,600 km2 
sq mi 
 –  2008 estimate 3,500,000 
 –  Density 25/km2 
51/sq mi
Currency Somaliland shilling1 (SLSH)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
 –  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Date formats d/m/yy (AD)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD none
Calling code 252
1. Currency only valid for regional purposes.
Rankings may not be available because of its unrecognised de facto state.

Mo may well be asking himself why this outpost of  democracy and peace in the region remains unrecognised by the international community, including Britain. You can find out more and join the campaign for recognition of Somaliland here.

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Coming To A Council Estate Near You

July 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm (David Cameron, Max Dunbar, police, Tory scum)

As in so many other areas, the coalition doesn’t seem to have a consistent policy towards crime. Cameron does the zero-tolerance posturing so loved by anaemic sheltered politicians. His ministers argue against prison sentences and tell violent recidivists that a fake apology will cut their time in half.

The ultimate rightwing approach would be no publicly funded police force, with the rich hiring private security firms to protect them from the proletarian hordes. The last Tory government concentrated police presence in the city centres and the suburbs while adopting a laissez-faire policy towards the hinterlands and inner city ghettoes. Aside from the occasional Orgreave-style deployment against enemies of the state, Thatcher was happy to let the poor kill each other on the edges of town.

Crime hits the poor hardest, and the consequence for working class communities was horrific. Name families treated entire estates as personal fiefdoms. Labour introduced a raft of crime legislation and police powers to deal with conditions on these estates, measures that lost a few civil liberties votes but (in my experience at least) were welcomed by many people who actually lived in working class communities.

Policy is already going the other way. The housing benefit cap will make entire towns and cities uninhabitable for people on benefits or even on a low income. The head of the National Housing Federation predicts that: ‘The housing benefit caps could see poorer people effectively forced out of wealthier areas, and ghettoised into poorer neighbourhoods.’ That’s the idea.

Who is going to police these ghettoes? Meet Francis Jones. He’s a security boss and born-again Christian. His Sparta Security patrols council estates in Darlington at a cost of £3:50 per resident per week.

I used to be a naughty paughty, working in bars and clubs – I’d never turn down a fight. Now I’m walking the honest path and protecting the people of Darlington who sign up for my service. I prayed before I started that this would benefit the Lord. But if someone assaulted me I wouldn’t hesitate to defend myself. I’m game as a pebble!

It seems likely that Francis Jones is heading for Big Society good times:

I was at an event [where the speaker was] Sir Paul Stephenson [the Metropolitan police commissioner] last week, and he effectively said that UK Police plc was open for business. It might be up to us to get a bit more proactive and make the most of the opportunities there.

Actual coppers have reservations. This is Peter Davies, assistant chief constable at Lincolnshire police:

First, there is a point about accountability – if regular officers are discriminatory or discourteous, they are subject to a proper complaints process, which comes with policing by consent – these firms don’t have that.

The second problem is that commercial enterprises can be tempted to generate high levels of fear, which they can then exploit for commercial gain. Finally, there is a question about training. These companies may have received some basic training to get a licence, but it is unlikely to prepare them for everything that might be expected of them.

Expect more stories like this.

‘Respect my authoritah!’

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Ali on Stone on Chavez

July 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm (anti-semitism, cinema, cults, Guardian, Jim D, media, populism, stalinism)

  • The charlatan, self-publicist and ex-“Marxist” Tariq Ali writes in today’s Graun ‘G2’ about his collaboration with the film producer and conspiracy-theorist Oliver Stone on a film largely devoted to hero-worshipping Hugo Chavez. If you express any reservations, you’re a “gringo.”  The following excerpt from Ali’s article is so full of self-contradiction, non-sequiturs and plain nonsense that I seriously wonder whether Ali thinks readers of the Graun are devoid of critical faculties, or are simply immune to such things as elementary logic or the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. I leave it to readers to fisk it for themselves:
  • .
  • tariq ali oliver stone chavez Fellow travellers … Tariq Ali, Oliver Stone and Hugo Chávez at last year’s Venice film festival. Photograph: Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
    “The Vietnam war played a large part in shaping Stone’s radical take on his own country. One of JFK’s most striking scenes, almost 10 minutes in length, portrays a talking-heads duo: Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) and an unidentified military intelligence officer (Donald Sutherland) are walking by the Potomac river in Washington DC, discussing who killed Kennedy. The Sutherland character links the president’s execution to his decision to withdraw US troops from Vietnam some months previously. For me, it is – together with the depiction of French officers calmly justifying torture in Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic Battle of Algiers, and the Greek far-right plotting to kill the leftwing deputy Lambrakis in Costa-Gavras’s Z – one of the three finest scenes in political cinema.

    “A steady flow of jeremiads from critics on the left and the right denounced this particular scene in Stone’s JFK as pure fantasy. Later research, however, including the recently published biography of one of the Kennedy administration’s leading hawks, McGeorge Bundy, has overwhelmingly vindicated the director’s approach. Kennedy had indeed decided to pull out – largely on the advice of retired General Douglas MacArthur, who told him the war could never be won.

    “Stone’s refusal to accept establishment “truths” is the most important aspect of his filmography. He may get it wrong, but he always challenges imperial assumptions. That is why he was now in Paraguay, talking to the new president – a defrocked bishop weaned on liberation theology, who had succeeded in electorally toppling the long dictatorship of a single party. Fernando Lugo had become part of the new Bolivarian landscape, one that included Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, flanked by the Kirchners in Argentina and defended by Lula in Brazil.”

    Read the full article here

    Permalink 38 Comments

    An Egyptian feminist writes on the burqa ban

    July 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm (Feminism, islamism, Jackie Mcdonough, religion, women)

    By Mona Eltahawy

    The French parliament’s vote this week to ban full-length veils in public was the right move by the wrong group.

    Some have tried to present the ban as a matter of Islam vs. the West. It is not. First, Islam is not monolithic. It, like other major religions, has strains and sects. Many Muslim women — despite their distaste for the European political right wing — support the ban precisely because it is a strike against the Muslim right wing.

    Some have likened this issue to Switzerland’s move last year to ban the construction of minarets. On the one hand, it is preposterous to compare women’s faces — their identity — to a stone pillar. Minarets are used to issue a call to prayer; they are a symbol of Islam. The niqab, the full-length veil that has openings only for the eyes, is a symbol only for the Muslim right.

    But underlying both bans is a dangerous silence: liberal refusal to robustly discuss what it means to be European, what it means to be Muslim, and racism and immigration. Liberals decrying the infringement of women’s rights should acknowledge that the absence of debate on these critical issues allowed the political right and the Muslim right to seize the situation.

    Europe’s ascendant political right is unapologetically xenophobic. It caricatures the religion that I practice and uses those distortions to fan Islamophobia. But ultra-conservative strains of Islam, such as Salafism and Wahhabism, also caricature our religion and use that Islamophobia to silence opposition. Salafi ideology, which is unapologetically misogynistic, has left its imprimatur on Islam globally by convincing too many Muslims that it is the purest and highest form of our faith.

    The strains of Islam that promote face veils do not believe in the concept of a woman’s right to choose and describe women as needing to be hidden to prove their “worth.” Salafism and Wahhabism preach that women will burn in hell if they are not covered from head to toe — whether they live in Saudi Arabia or France. There is no choice in such conditioning. That is not a message Muslims learn in our holy book, the Koran, nor is the face veil prescribed by the majority of Muslim scholars.

    The French ban has been condemned as anti-liberal and anti-feminist. Where were those howls when niqabs began appearing in European countries, where for years women fought for rights? A bizarre political correctness tied the tongues of those who would normally rally to defend women’s rights.

    There are several ideological conflicts here: Within Islam, liberal and feminist Muslims refuse to believe that full-length veils are mandatory. In Saudi Arabia, where the prevalence of face veils is great, blogger Eman Al Nafjan wrote a post on Saudiwoman supporting the French ban: “I have heard Saudi women, who are conditioned to believe that covering is an unquestionable issue, sigh as they watch uncovered women on TV and say, ‘They get this world, and we get the afterlife.’ These are the women ‘choosing’ to cover, brainwashed into living to die.”

    But the problem is not just “over there.” Feminist groups run by Muslim women in various Western countries fight misogynistic practices justified in the name of culture and religion. Cultural relativists, they say, don’t want to “offend” anyone by protesting the disappearance of women behind the veil — or worse.

    For example, French women of North African and Muslim descent launched Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissives) in response to violence against women in housing projects and forced marriages of immigrant women in France. That group supports the ban and has denounced the racism faced in France by immigrant women and men.

    Cultural integration has failed, or not taken place, in many European countries, but women shouldn’t pay the price for it.

    Europe’s liberals must ask themselves why they have been silent. It is clear that Europe’s political right — other countries have similar bans in the works — does not care about Muslim women or their rights.

    But Muslims must ask themselves the same question: Why the silence as some of our women fade into black, either as a form of identity politics or out of acquiescence to Salafism?

    The pioneering Egyptian feminist Hoda Shaarawi famously removed her veil in 1923, declaring it a thing of the past. Almost a century later, we are foundering. The best way to support Muslim women would be to oppose both the racist political right wing and the niqabs and burqas of the Muslim right wing. Women should not be sacrificed to either.

    Let’s move away from abstract discussions and focus on the realities of women. The French were right to ban the veil in public. Those of us who really care about women’s rights should talk about the dangers in equating piety with the disappearance of women.

    Posted by Mona Eltahawy at 8:57 am | Permalink 6 Comments »
    Categories: Blogs, Burka, Egypt, France, Islam, Media, Saudi Arabia, Western Muslims, Women, human rights
    <!– Translate: ES | FR | العربيه –>

    h/t: Bob

    Permalink 5 Comments

    A rare photograph

    July 26, 2010 at 12:09 am (beer, blogging, Champagne Charlie)

    Tolpuddle 2010:

    Anyone know this man?
    (Clue: “Hang on, you said any more jokes about him drinking too much, I have said he doesn’t drink enough!!”)
    h/t: Janine and Stroppy

    Permalink 9 Comments

    Hurricane: the People’s Champion

    July 25, 2010 at 9:54 pm (beer, Champagne Charlie, drugs, sport, whiskey, whisky, wild man, wine)

    RIP Hurricane, 1949 -2010

    The People’s Champion found dead, alone and emaciated in his flat. He was poverty-stricken, toothless and had endured two major operations for throat cancer. But…

    …(in the words given to him by actor Richard Dormer in the one-man play Hurricane)…

    “Don’t pity me. I’ve stood on top of the world.”

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    Something you couldn’t possibly have read here

    July 25, 2010 at 12:07 am (anti-semitism, blogging, Catholicism, censorship, Jim D, wankers)

    From the Catholic, anti-semitic blog  ‘Splintered Sunrise‘ :

    Here’s something you won’t read on Shiraz Socialist

    July 22, 2010 at 12:11 am (Middle East)

    Remember when the apartheid entity and the Zionist entity were different entities? The Daily Telegraph brings us this extraordinary tale from the land of the sad oranges, where it seems the courts take a rather South African view on miscegenation:

    Palestinian jailed for rape after claiming to be Jewish

    A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with an Israeli woman who believed he was Jewish because he introduced himself as “Daniel”.

    A court in Jerusalem has made international legal history by jailing Sabbar Kashur, a 30-year-old delivery man from East Jerusalem, for 18 months.

    He was convicted of “rape by deception” following a criminal trial that has drawn criticism from across Israel.

    The court heard accusations that Mr Kashur misled the woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, by introducing himself with the traditionally Jewish name during a chance encounter on a street in central Jerusalem in 2008.

    After striking up a conversation, the two went into a top-floor room of a nearby office-block and engaged in a sexual encounter, after which Mr Kashur left before the woman had a chance to get dressed. It was only later that she discovered Mr Kashur’s true racial background, lawyers said.

    Although conceding that the sex was consensual, district court judge Tzvi Segal concluded that the law had a duty to protect women from “smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price”

    “If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have co-operated,” Mrs Segal said as she delivered her verdict.

    A conviction for rape by deception on the grounds of racial misrepresentation is believed to be internationally unprecedented, according to British legal experts.

    The charge is rarely used in the West. In 2007, a Syrian pilot walked free from a court in Swansea after being accused of tricking a woman into intercourse by saying it could cure her of a sexually transmitted disease.

    A court in Massachusetts also acquitted a man who allegedly masqueraded as his twin-brother in order to have sex with the man’s wife.

    While forced sex by deception is an offence under Israeli law, legal experts say it is a charge used sparingly in cases involving protracted deceit and a promise of marriage.

    Kashur was originally accused of violent rape and indecent assault, but later accepted the lesser charge under a plea-bargain after prosecutors received evidence suggesting the encounter was consensual.

    Kashur’s lawyer, Adnan Aladdin, said he had filed an appeal to ensure that the verdict was not considered precedent-setting, adding that otherwise “many men would find themselves in jail.”

    Israeli legal experts said they found the verdict disquieting.

    “In the context of Israeli society, you can see that some women would feel very strongly that they had been violated by someone who says he is Jewish but is not,” said a former senior justice ministry official.

    “The question is whether the state should punish somebody in that situation. It puts the law in the position of what could loosely be described as discrimination. I would feel intuitively uncomfortable about prosecuting someone for something like that.”

    Asked whether his client was the victim of racial discrimination, Mr Aladdin said he “would rather not comment”. Others, however, were scathing.

    Gideon Levy, a leading liberal commentator, said: “I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman. Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not.”

    Israeli human rights activists said that Kashur’s actions reflected the deceits many Palestinians practise when in Israel in an attempt to avoid official and private prejudice because of their background.

    “It is very well known that Israeli-Palestinians living in Israel disguise themselves,” said Leah Tsemel, a human-rights lawyer. “You change your accent and you change your dress because if you look like an Arab you face harassment.

    “If you want to enter a pub, you’d better not look like an Arab and if you want to have sex with an Israeli girl, you had better not look like an Arab.”

    The prosecutor in the case was unavailable for comment and officials in the Jerusalem district attorney’s office declined to discuss it.

    Well, Jim and Max, what say you?

    Permalink 58 Comments

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