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China: Ai Weiwei and the Art of Protest

Source: The Nation

In the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists complained of the impossibility of receiving redress from the English crown, stating that “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” That could be the tagline for the new documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by Alison Klayman, except that the famous Chinese artist and dissident’s constant petitioning, closely detailed in the film, was never exactly humble. But then, neither was the colonists’. Like them, Ai Weiwei is courageous, self-confident, blackly ironic. read more

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Tunisia: The Poetry of Revolution

Source: Al Jazeera

Tunisia’s uprisings were started neither by political action nor a military coup, but by a regime of banners and chants.

The uprisings in Tunisia were started neither by political action nor a military coup led by officers or opposition parties. Instead, the blade raised against the regime was made of banners and chants.

And none cut more deeply than Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi’s poem, The Will to Live, which begins: “When the people demand freedom, Destiny must surely respond.” read more

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Chomsky: The US and Israel, Not Iran, Threaten Peace

Source: Common Dreams

It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.

The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron. read more

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From Syria to Palestine: A Shift in Focus?

If we analyze the geopolitics of the Middle East, what should be the principal focus? There is little agreement on an answer, and yet it is the key question. The Israeli government has been sedulously and constantly trying to make the focus be Iran. This has been considered by most observers as an effort to divert attention from Israel’s unwillingness to pursue serious negotiations with the Palestinians.

In any case, this Israeli effort has failed, spectacularly. Netanyahu has been unable to get the U.S. government to commit to supporting an Israeli raid on Iran. And Iran’s ability to gather most of the non-Western world – including Pakistan, India, China, Palestine, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – to the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran underlines the political impossibility of the Israeli wish to concentrate attention on Iran. read more