Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who whispers into the hearts of men... Oh Allah, change my fear in my grave into love.

Osama Bin Laden's Last Photo
From the Department of Defense
United States of America

by Kabir Bedi

You’ve got to admire the man’s brilliance. While the Americans combed the craggy caves, ravines and villages of Afghanistan and Waziristan, he hid in a million dollar home, surrounded by colonies of Pakistani generals, a quick drive from Islamabad. But that was only half of it. Starting with his escape from the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden outfoxed the world’s most fearsome hunters for almost a decade.
But he made one fatal mistake. Like Sherlock Holmes’s proverbial dog who didn’t bark, the absence of technology --- TV, internet, telephones -- in an expensive Abbotabad house gave the Americans the confirming clue: it was a hideaway for “a person of great importance." The rest is now history.
Historically, Osama’s power came from America’s mistakes. Ronald Reagan backed, armed, and hailed him as a “hero” while he fought the Russians in Afghanistan. It made him famous, even though he was really, in his words, “fighting infidels in a Muslim land." Later, he used the same logic to demand the withdrawal of American troops in Saudi Arabia, the holy land of Mecca. His “new jihad” led to the destruction of New York’s iconic Twin Towers.
But America’s biggest mistake had far deeper roots. For decades, it remained a mute spectator to Israel’s relentless attacks against the Palestinians, more so after the 1967 war. Whatever the justifications, those brutal TV images were beamed across the Arab world, week after week, year after year, breeding enormous resentment against Israel’s principal benefactor. Anti-American resentment was the fodder that fuelled Osama’s popularity on Arab streets. It made him a folk hero for millions, however merciless his war.
Osama attacked all his foes, he claimed, “to defend” Islam. Russians, Americans, Europeans, Saudis, Indians or Chinese, no matter who, his battle cry was always in the name of religion. By targeting “the enemies of Islam," he sought to rally the Muslim world behind him. His strategy smartly obscured his real agenda: the propagation of a highly puritanical and regressive form of fundamentalism. Osama believed "the only Islamic country" in the Muslim world was Afghanistan under the rule of Mullah Omar's Taliban. Before they were overthrown in 2001, the Taliban had regularly cut off people’s heads, hands and noses, and reduced the historic Buddha of Bamiyan to rubble with cannons. That was Osama’s ideal state. If he had broadcast this loud and clear, it would have splintered his supporters and divided their loyalties. Knowing this, Osama cleverly kept the focus outside Islam, not within it. He was really fighting a battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere.
Fortunately, Osama failed. No mass uprisings followed the news of his death. In fact, barely any demonstrations of importance were seen anywhere. Even those who may have admired him from afar for taking on, and humiliating, two world super powers seem to have been revolted by the wanton waves of death and destruction he set in motion. Many innocent Muslims suffered the ostracism of being seen as “terrorists." In America, they became the new “niggas." In the end, Osama didn’t dignify Muslims, he damaged them greatly.
Osama is dead, but his scattered army lives on. His deeper agenda will not wither away either. The battle between fundamentalists and moderates is still being fought in every country of the Muslim world. Extremists may have suicide bombers or violent enforcers on their side. But the moderate Muslims have far more meaningful weapons. Numbers: the majority of people, in every religion, are not extremists. Time: everything evolves; the fundamentalists are on the wrong side of history. Technology: new generations can’t be brainwashed as easily in the Information Age. Knowledge is the most potent weapon of all in the battle for minds. But it may be a while before victory can be declared.
Even as the absence of technology led to Osama’s death, it's omnipresence today may ensure that his brand of extremism becomes an unmourned relic of history. But, sadly, misguided lunatics remain a part of every society.


Kabir Bedi is an internationally renowned Indian actor and columnist. His career has spanned Bollywood, Hollywood, England and Europe. In December 2010, the Italian Government bestowed on him a Knighthood “Cavaliere," the highest civilian honour. Kabir lives in Mumbai, India.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The News Corp Blues & The Fox Plumbers

John Ehrlichman
Founder of the Plumbers

There's an old secret story of perversion around Hollywood in the 1950s. It's about the iconic 20th Century Fox studios. It's a story of creepy, childish behavior by big time guys who had too much money and too much power. Their moral and ethical corruption inevitably led to criminal doings. Those guys at Fox were deviants, but they knew well that a good movie story has a beginning, a middle and an ending.

Now for us, let's begin our story with an ending.

Today James Murdoch, the son of Rupert announced the demise of the News of the World in London. The most prominent scandal sheet in the UK is closing it's doors forever. Public and private outrage over illegal spying on both celebrities and regular people led to a speedy stock decline by the parent company News Corporation in the New York markets. So Rupert was forced to close up shop at News of the World.

Over here in the USA another News Corporation division seems to be doing quite well. Fox News is a major mover in American cable television. More importantly Fox News division is a big-box outlet store for anything "conservative." In News Corporation jargon "conservative" means any slanted story or any contrived falsehood with the purpose of coaxing the viewer to believe the lie. Journalistic ethics be damned. The only goal was to get more viewers and make more money than any other News Corporation media division.

If Fox News lies were proved true, our United States would devolve into some mediaeval oppressive Handmaid's Tale. Women would be reduced to chattel by anti-abortion madmen inquisitors. Every citizen would be bound by slave labor wages to pay off debt arranged by a conspiracy of the US Congress and International Banking Cartels.

This is not science fiction. This is happening now in the soggy dreams and vile works of the chiefs of News Corporation and Fox News. The guy who runs Fox News is Roger Ailes. You must have heard about old Roger. Roger worked for Richard Nixon, and then for Ronald Reagan, and then for both Bushes, and then other big-time republicans. For the right wing, Roger's resumé grants him special national treasure status. A latter day hero of the constitution.

Wait a minute! Go back to Nixon.

Good old boy Roger Ailes began his career in the Nixon White House. Recall that Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office in his second term. Nixon did not resign for the good of the nation. The leaders of the republican party and the US Congress told him to resign or he was to be impeached, tried and removed from office. Had he not resigned Nixon most likely would have been tried and convicted for obstruction of justice and treason. So Nixon plea bargained the resignation deal to keep out of jail.

Here's the time line: In spring of 1972 the republican national committee created the committee to reelect the president. In a mysterious and pungent twist of acronym the RNC called it CREEP. Bags of cash were given to CREEP. Does that sound familiar? Some of the CREEP cash went to a gang of criminal types called the plumbers who burglarized the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington. They snatched inside information on the Democrat's plans for the election. The gang was founded by White House counsel John Ehrlichman who eventually served prison time for his efforts. Nixon denied any knowledge of the plumbers. Nixon's secretary fumbled the oval office tapes into erasing a talk Nixon had about the plumbers. Remember the seventeen minutes?

Clearly the Nixon resignation was a Machiavellian case in absolute corruption of power.

Good old boys sometime think that regular people are too stupid to see the truth.

Now, here's the secret story about 1950s Fox. The good old boys who ran Fox studios installed a hidden two-way mirror in a concealed office. Through the mirror they could ogle young women dressing and undressing for screen tests. At some time in the 1960s or 1970s they closed the mirror room. Spying on starlets was illegal then and now. But in the 1950s it was a good old boy offense. Laughable and trivial.

Maybe not so inconsequential any more. The present day perversion at Fox is given to us by the good old boys at News Corporation and Fox News. And it does not involve two-way mirrors. Their technology is state of the art and direly invasive of regular people's lives and right to privacy. How can regular people support unethical networks like Fox anything, or Sky TV anything. Or papers like The NY Post or the Wall Street Journal or the Australian or the Times of London and on and on. The list is long.

News Corporation chief good old boy Rupert Murdoch is a board member of the libertarian and fascista Cato Institute along with his peers the carious Koch Brothers. It's psychopathic how such minions of small government and no taxes pay A-list hackers big money to eavesdrop on regular people and celebrities. How often does Fox News hack into Voice Mails and cell phone calls over here in the USA? Their sister operation over in the UK made a normal practice of such spying. It may be that the entire UK investigation was a "Modified Limited Hang Out"* arranged by Murdoch and his spin weenies.

For the term "Modified Limited Hang Out" here is a transcript of the March 22, 1973 meeting between President Richard Nixon, John Ehrlichman, John Dean, and H. R. Haldeman:

President Nixon: "You think, you think we want to, want to go this route now? And the ... let it hang out, so to speak?"

John Dean: "Well, it's, it isn't really that ..."

H. R. Haldeman: "It's a limited hang out."

John Dean: "It's a limited hang out."

John Ehrlichman: "It's a modified limited hang out."

President Nixon: "Well, it's only the questions of the thing hanging out publicly or privately."

So "Modified Limited Hang Out" means to conceal the worst by revealing some lesser part. A gestalt to be seen only with carefully selected blinders if you will. Fox News Il Duce Roger Ailes learned these crafts of espionage on regular people and Modified Limited Hang Outs when he was so close to the plumbers and spin weenies of Watergate fame. Note that just before all the row broke out in the UK over News Corp, Fox News let loose a modified limited hang out story of someone who supposedly hacked into Fox News Twitter accounts.

The time has come for Rupert Murdoch to shut down another one of News Corporation's far flung tainted branches of empire: Fox News.

Do it now Rupert, before the stock price takes another dive.

Quick Rupert, slam the door and turn off the lights on the festering Fox News before it's too late.


* A Note of thanks to our friend Victor Muh for identifying the "Modified Limited Hang Out" history and its modern day application.