Wednesday 29 February 2012

Cleanliness as catchword for imperialism

Jonathan Bartley asking police whether they have permission to "clean" the steps of St. Paul's.
Making room for the moneylenders is being sold as an action for peace, safety and cleanliness.

Ce n'est qu'un début...

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Occupy: The End of the Beginning

Mark's Gospel, the earliest of the four gospels in the bible, does not end with a resurrection story but with an empty tomb where a young man, dressed in a martyr's robe, announces that Jesus is not there but has been raised and has gone ahead of them to Galilee.

Galilee is where the story starts for Jesus, he comes from there to get baptised, then disappears into the wilderness and at once returns to Galilee where the real graft takes place.

George, a member of the Occupy LSX camp outside St Paul's Cathedral described the eviction as "not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning". Today if you go to St Paul's you will see a fenced of empty space where the camp had been violently removed yesterday.

For those of us who have watched the drama and debate unfold, and especially for those who are there, this movement has felt historic and full of hope. At the Occupy University and even at the Occupy barbers new ideas and dreams were hammered out in the practicality of people's lives.

But the collusion between the state and religious authorities in the quashing of revolutionary movements is older than the story of Jesus and the end of the beginning, which last night's eviction represents, was no surprise to anyone. That St Paul's Cathedral staff appear to have agreed to the forced removal of people praying on their knees outside is sad but to be expected.

So the empty space outside St Paul's Cathedral feels a bit like an empty tomb. The Occupy movement has take the authentic Jesus-role as radical prophetic voice in a generation who have had enough of greed and corruption.

Their must be a great deal of bewilderment for some of those who have made the site their home and community. But Mark's Gospel ends with a promise, that if you go back home then Jesus will be there to meet you. The revolution hasn't ended, or as George puts it, "this isn't the beginning of the end it's the end of the beginning."

Monday 27 February 2012

Wikileaks, Anonymous and the Jonny English of Spy Networks

A panel of five wikileaks associates, including Julian Assange held a press conference today (27 Feb 2012) in which they began to explain the complex relationship between Stratfor, corporations, and governments. Godman Sachs are implicated in a scandal to manipulate investments using illicit information bought in from the private syping company. Yet another blow for the 'Tower of Babel' that is the chaotic networks of globalisation.

Assange compared Stratfor to a 'helpless' and fairly useless "James Bond". If we are to believe Stratfor are more like Jonny English then perhaps the cache of emails won't be all that revealing. However, the little that has been published already today is intriguing enough. 

I have already blogged on revelations regarding Iran  and the reasons to escalate warmongering being political rather than defensive and on the controversial Mosque at Ground Zero, New York and the web of right-wing backers to the project. 

Assange talks about three types of funding received by Stratfor: bespoke funding to find out particular information; general private meetings to disseminate information; and syndicated newsfeeds. Over 300,000 subscribers to Stratfor, many of whom are influential political figures and organisations makes Stratfor an important organisation to get behind the scenes of. 

One of the biggest revelations of the press conferences was the links between Goldmans Sachs and Stratfor with allegations from Assange that a Director of Goldmans Sachs has used information gained through illicit means to make decisions on huge investments. If this is true then it may be that the director in question may have to face criminal charges. 

Assange has previously described consipiratorial dictatorships using the metaphor of a web of connections leading to a central point. Some of the connections are 'thick' because they are often used others are 'thin' because they are rarely used. 

By exposing those connections to the vulnerability of leaked information those connections become less reliable and so the authoritarian system begins to shut down on itself: unable to trust its own means of communication. If the authoritarian or domination system cannot communicate efficiently, internally, for fear of being overheard it's operations become impossible. 

In the book of Genesis, an inspiration for Jews, Christians, and Muslims around the world, the story of the Tower of Babel illustrates the same. The blood and sweat of slaves are used to build a tower that 'can reach up to God'. God is unimpressed and causes them to become unintelligible to one another, thus rendering the oppressive project impossible and scattering the people. 

Whether the emails leaked today and over the coming days generate news is less important than the future unreliability of Stratfor as a private spying organisation with billions of dollars invested in the current economic domination system. 

Ground Zero Mosque: What's the real story?

In October 2010 one of Stratfor’s staff made this analysis of the pantomime that followed plans to build a mosque in New York, near to ‘Ground Zero’, in a building damaged by the 9/11 blast.

Park 51
Park 51 (was going to be named Cordoba House after the organisation fronting the plans) mosque and cultural centre, not yet completed but operational, won’t be at Ground Zero but close enough to polarise opinion and stir up plenty of anti-Muslim feeling.

Media at the time focussed on the building of a Mosque and the usual anti-Muslim hatred was stirred up at the time, especially by paid-haters like Glenn Beck the Fox News journalist (sic.) who specialises in media bile. And focussed on a tiny Christian Fundamentalist sect and their plans to burn copies of the Qur’an.

But is there more to this plan than meets the eye? According to an email leaked by Wikileaks today there is:
“Bush's favorite Imam, with backing from a funder with connections to the CIA, the Pentagon and the currency trading company that now sponsors rightwing firebrand Glenn Beck, proposes to build a mosque around the corner from the site of the most devastating terrorist attack ever visited on America.” 

The men at the centre of this controversy are a Mr R. Leslie Deak, a key funder of the project and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who will manage the project.

Leslie Deak
Deak, a 52-year-old New Yorker with an intriguing religious and political back-story: conversion from Christianity to Judaism then Islam: his father made millions in money laudering, while Deak himself has formal roles in US military intellilegence.

Deak’s father was a professional money launderer for at least one drugs cartel and one of the businesses he was part of back then is Deak may have links to Goldline which funds Glenn Beck’s radio and road shows. 

Furthermore, Leslie Deak worked as a "business consultant" to Patriot Defence Group, LLC, a super-secretive security contractor with ties to the CIA and counterterrorism forces, and in those same three years he also donated nearly $100,000 in seed money to the foundation now advocating the construction of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.

Deak also sits on the National Defense University Foundation (NDUF)'s board of directors and donated a total of $101,247 to them. The National Defense University is a network of war and strategy colleges and research centers funded by the Pentagon, designed to train specialists in military strategy. 

So a major source of funding for the Mosque comes from a man with connections to national and international military intelligence and to the right wing media that is fuelling anti-Muslim sentiment in the USA.

Imam Rauf
Imam Rauf has previously worked on behalf of the U.S. government-which includes serving as an FBI "consultant" and being recruited as a spokesperson by longtime George W. Bush confidante Karen Hughes. And has received funding from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the second-largest shareholder in News Corp., the parent company Fox News, which airs Beck's program.

So a Saudi prince, a consultant from the right of the Republican party, an military funding expert, and a right-wing media organisation help fund a Mosque near Ground Zero.

This is quite a stack of coincidences. Or, as the Stratfor agent puts it, if it is a coincidence: “we can all go back to what we were doing before-either denouncing the Park51 Mosque as an affront to Americans, or championing it as a symbol of our fundamental rights-playing our accustomed roles in a drama that seems too
perfect, somehow, to believe.” 

Iran Invasion an EU Diversion?

In files leaked today (27 February 2012) Stratfor analysts speculate that Israel has already destroyed all Iranian Nuclear weapons capability and the attempts to build up a debate over whether to invade Iran are just a way for EU powers to distract us from our financial crisis.

In files dated November 2011, just released, senior analysts quote an insight from one of their sources, "Even if the Israelis have the capabilities and are ready to attack by air, sea and land, there is no need to attack the nuclear program at this point after the commandos destroyed a significant part of it." 

While they do not all agree with one another about the truth of the source their is some consensus that Iran does not have anything close to nuclear weapons capability and that an invasion of Iran would not be motivated by a desire to stop an arms race but rather to serve other interests of the powerful. 

Stratfor is a private intelligence company whose emails are currently being released by Wikileaks. Hopefully this will be as big, if not bigger, than 'Cablegate'. 

To donate to the work done by Wikileaks, one of the only truly free press associations in the world, click here

Thursday 9 February 2012

Anarchist Studies Network: Call for Papers

Call for paper proposals: 

‘No Master But God’? Exploring the Compatibility of Anarchism and Religion

ASN 2.0 (‘Making Connections’) Conference
Loughborough University (UK)
3-5 September 2012

Anarchism and religion have long had an uneasy relationship. On the one hand, many anarchists insist that religion is fundamentally incompatible with anarchism, recalling that anarchism calls for ‘no gods, no masters’, pointing to the many cases of close collaboration of religious and political elites in oppressing and deluding the masses, arguing that religious belief is superstitious, and so on. On the other, some religious/spiritual radicals insist that their religious/spiritual tradition cannot but lead to a rejection of the state, care for the downtrodden and the quest for a more just society – despite of, indeed sometimes precisely because of, the acceptance (by some) of a god as ‘master’.

A number of recent publications both in religious and anarchist studies have focused on religious anarchism, but consideration of their compatibility in the first place has been rarer. The aim of this stream of panels is to explore critically and frankly the relationship and tensions between these two notions, with a view to publish its proceedings in a peer-reviewed edited collection. The size of the stream of panels will depend on the number of applicants, but the intention is to foster mutual engagement and collaboration. Proposals are encouraged from sceptical as well as sympathetic perspectives, the aim being to foster critical discussion of these themes.

Questions which may be addressed include (but are not necessarily restricted to):
1.      Is rejection of religion (and/or spirituality) a sine qua non of anarchism?
2.      What do we mean by ‘religion’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘anarchism’ when considering their relation?
3.      What is unacceptable to anarchism about religion/spirituality, and to religion/spirituality about anarchism?
4.      Are some religious/spiritual traditions inherently more compatible with anarchism than others?
5.      Why do religious institutions tend to move away from the often radical intentions of their original prophets and founders? How does this compare to non-religious institutions?
6.      What explains differences in the reception of religious/spiritual anarchism across different contexts?
7.      To what extent can religious/spiritual anarchists’ deification of religious/spiritual notions (such as ‘God’) be compared to non-religious anarchists’ deification of secular notions (such as freedom or equality)?
8.      What role do (and can) religious/spiritual anarchists play in the wider anarchist movement, and in their wider religious/spiritual tradition?
9.      What can religion/spirituality and anarchism learn from one another’s history and ideas?
10.  Is religious/spiritual anarchism really anarchist? Is it really religious/spiritual?

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words (along with name and eventual institutional affiliation) to Alexandre Christoyannopoulos on a.christoyannopoulos[at] by 31 March 2012 at the very latest. Any questions should also be sent to that address.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Christian Co-housing

Advertised on D & D
A message from some new friends: 

"We’re aiming to establish a Christian community somewhere in the south/west of England. At this stage we are seeking others to share this vision, whether families, couples or individuals. Our plan is for the group to jointly buy a suitable property, which would comprise, or could be converted into, individual homes, communal areas and some land to cultivate and grow food. We’re aiming for sustainability and outreach, promoting a simple and Christ-centred way of life, caring for His creation and for one another, and working together with local churches and the wider community. If you are interested please contact Richard and Nicky at rakierton[at] We would love to hear from you."