843

A Short Border Handbook
By Gazmend Kapllani
Portobello Books 2009
159 pages

Review by Alex Miller

This book, which the author describes as “part autobiography, part fiction”, is hard to assess. Each chapter is divided into two parts. The first part tells the story of a man (presumably Kapllani himself) who crosses into Greece from Albania when the border between those two countries opened in 1991. The second part consists of “philosophical” ruminations on issues raised by the story of the first part.

When Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca and US assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela met at the start of June, it appeared that relations between the US and Bolivia were on the verge of being normalised following an 18-month diplomatic chill.

But hope for improved relations appeared to be dashed two weeks later when Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the US government-funded US Agency for International Development (USAID) of financing groups opposed to his government.

We come from the land that gives us life.

We remember the time when the virgin earth brought forth
fruits in great abundance — a natural paradise — before greed
ripped our land and lives apart

Now mining scars the face of the planet,
leaves deep craters where once wild rivers ran

Our freedom curtailed, many search for paradise lost,
chasing butterflies of illusion in a cloud of confusion.

Heed the warning of our cousins the Cree:
Only when the last tree has died,
the last river poisoned and the last fish been caught,
will you realise that you cannot eat money

US-Palestinian professor Saree Makdisi and Canadian-Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu spoke on June 30 as part of a national tour to promote the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

At the public meeting, Makdisi compared laws in apartheid South Africa with those in Israel and said “There are exact equivalent laws in Israel of all the African apartheid laws.”

He said the discrimination “begins with kids entering day care and continues for the rest of their lives”.

How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”.

In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”.

This followed a claim, also fake, that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked a US warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

South Australian independent Bob Such announced on June 28 he would introduce a private member's bill into the state parliament that would, in effect, ban the wearing of the burqa or the niqab in banks and government buildings.

Such claimed his bill would not be discriminatory and would target any face covering where security might be a concern. However, all his public statements have specifically raised the burqa and its possible use in criminal activity.

Multicultural affairs minister Grace Portolesi said SA police have said they have no such concerns about the burqa.

Eighty people gathered at the State School Teachers Union offices in Perth for the Socialist Ideas Conference over the weekend of June 26-27. Speakers included Jeyakumar Devaraj, Socialist Party of Malaysia MP, and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr People's Walk-off in the Northern Territory.

Financial crisis? Rich get richer

“The rich grew richer last year, even as the world endured the worst recession in decades.

“A stock market rebound helped the world's ranks of millionaires climb 17 percent to 10 million, while their collective wealth surged 19 percent to $US 39 trillion, nearly recouping losses from the financial crisis, according to the latest Merrill Lynch-Capgemini world wealth report.

“In North America, the ranks of the rich rose 17 percent and their wealth grew 18 percent to $US 10.7 trillion.”

— June 23 Reuters article.

The Canterbury Bankstown Peace Group, with the Justice for Aafia Coalition, is calling for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. The Pakistani doctor was found guilty on February 3 of shooting US soldiers in July 2008, while in Afghan police custody.

Siddiqui was accused of being an Al Qaeda agent and has allegedly spent time in secret prisons in Pakistan and in the US prison in Guantanamo Bay. Despite this, she has not been charged with any terrorist offences but only with firearms offences allegedly committed during her capture.

Oliver Stone's new documentary about Latin America's leftward political shift and its growing independence from Washington is being lambasted by the media. This shouldn't come as a surprise as Stone calls out the mainstream media in his new film South of the Border for its mostly one-sided, distorted coverage of the region's political leaders — most significantly Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez .

Pages

Subscribe to 843