Plato’s Pow Wow

April Pow Wow – The Hour of Blossom

Once again, hardly any ‘new’ news today, and generally speaking, there’s no ‘action’ of any consequence going on right now, not stateside and not globally  –  the media is, as per usual, full of regurgitation and variations on old themes, the hasbara factory is same-same-same (oh tedium!); plus I have a house full of visiting Brits this weekend so my computer time is limitato (that’s Italian for ‘limited’).  I will still endeavor to post up the good stuff that I have time to read on the interwebs… and I also have a half finished new article that I’ll resume working on again once my guests depart and the farmhouse is nice and quiet again – I could have finished this article a couple of days ago but man the weather has been so utterly gorgeous here after a long month of March rains that I’ve ended up instead chilling in a citrus grove on a lush carpet of springtime flora and reading Hart Crane – so drunk on the heavy scent of orange blossom and birdsong that I simply couldn’t be bothered with the world or even with my writing.  Peh.  It’s just the way it is with me.

So, if anyone out there comes across an article of value, on any topic, profound or shallow, please feel free to post and share the link.  Also, comments on any topic are open on this thread – with the single exception of ‘what is a Jew’.

Hey have a great weekend, good people of the world!  Warm springtime greetings to y’all from the perfumed Levant.



    • Taxi says:

      Big dog eat small dog. Unbearably sad. And it was always thus with the current world order, forever thus with the one before it and the one before that and the one before that one too and so on and so forth, all the way back to the establishment of the first military industrial complex that made spears and stone axes.

  1. bintbiba says:

    Thank you Taxi, for that luscious picture in photo and in  words of the orange blossom …made me salivate with nostalgia… and you got me waxing lyrical  !!   Are there many, many red poppies and daisies strewn on the ground mixed with the wild thyme and 'khobbaizeh' …  that flowerless green that belongs to the geranium family  that we used to cook into a lovely veggie side dish (once came upon some in a field in California  Sta. Barbara way and gushed about how we love eat that stuff and the friend with me said "But that is for  the cows eat !!"   ha ha 

    Enjoy the Spring in the Levant with its perfumes, lazy sunshine, waves of the sea ebbing in their lazy , satisfied way with that whooshing sleepy sound ! 

    What nostalgia you evoke, dear Taxi !


    • Taxi says:

      Yes, bintbiba – red and purple wild poppies everywhere, white and pink cyclamen and millions and millions of daisies – wild heather, white and violet narcissus and orange short-stemmed lilies – camomile and little miniature flowers (whose name I don’t know) in yellow and pink and orange all over the place, even growing out of rocks – everything growing wild and in abundance on the hills – every wild flower omitting a puff of scent as you step on them while walking – beautiful fresh potpourri everywhere you go in rural springtime Lebanon. And yes, wild zaatar and khobbaizeh everywhere you look – my Syrian gardener and his wife have been picking them from the adjacent hill and we’ve taken to eating the delicious khobbaizeh fried with wild dark purple asparagus, a little onion and a squeeze of lemon – in my veggie garden, sweet peas and fava beans have grown into miniature forests – I walk through them every day and snack on them fresh off the vine: delicious natural antidepressants. There’s magic irons in the topsoil of south Lebanon – it’s so hard to leave this place for all the unique and simple goodness sprouting from its soil all year round. The jews of old got it all wrong: Lebanon is the peak of the promised land, little miniature heaven that it really is. Too bad about the horrid zionist disruption of the neighborhood – the Levant would have otherwise been like the south of France x 10 and without the snoot.

      • bintbiba says:

        Now you got me feeling a little drunk on colours, scents and sounds !  

        Thank you , Taxi, for this lively ,  generous  Sunday awakening of the senses !

        I can only dream 

  2. Bornajoo says:

    Springtime greetings to you too Taxi. I can definitely think of quite a few worse things to do than chilling in a citrus grove listening to the birds and reading! 

    I think humans are losing the art of chilling. We all need to chill more, read more, listen to more music and stop moving around all the time doing stuff, especially when we don't have to. Okay, I might be describing myself here. Guilty!

    I used to love Sundays in London in the 60's and 70's when I were a wee lad. It was dead quiet and most people used to genuinely chill. Go out for a walk, hardly any buses or tubes, a few people washing their cars and even fewer going to church

    Now Sunday seems to be the busiest day of the week. Everyone's driving around like maniacs, shopping malls open all over the place (the new church) and more traffic than Monday to Friday. Nobody chills anymore. Work like a dog all week then go fritter it all away in a shopping centre. There's no rest, no respite and it's relentless

    So just in case you had any thoughts about coming back to the big city…. Don't! I'm dreaming of the citrus grove

    • Taxi says:

      Yeah I remember the old days in London when they had literally zero shops open on Sundays and hardly anybody went to church – sad how Thatcherism brought in the flood of commercialism based on American capitalism: sell-sell-sell 24/7.

      It took all day back then to read the Sunday papers and their supplements: old-school paper internet style.

  3. Bornajoo says:

    Just saw a great documentary "Bitter Lake" by Adam Curtis. This is the same documentary film maker who made the 3 part series called "The Power of Nightmares" which MRW linked to a couple of months back

    Essentially a recent history of AFGHANISTAN, Bitter Lake looks at the original deal made between the Saudis and USA; oil for protection which inadvertently protected the spread of Whahabism. It covers everything from heroin, banking, geopolitics and all from a unique perspective. I really am a fan of his documentaries

    For those in the UK you can see it on BBC iplayer. For everyone else it's on YouTube (Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis). Recommended

  4. RudyM says:

    You’d be forgiven for thinking, given the above picture, that the Panama Papers had something to do with Vladimir Putin. Maybe he was a kingpin of the whole thing. Maybe he was, at least, among the 12 world leaders implicated in various shady financial practices – along with Petro Poroshenko, the saviour of Ukrainian democracy, and the King of Saudi Arabia (dad of the recent Légion d’Honneur winner).

    Luke Harding, a bastion of ethical journalism (and not at all a paranoid lunatic), has churned out 2 articles totaling over 5000 words, each using the word “Putin”, almost as often as they use the phrases “allegedly”, “speculation suggests”, “has been described as” and “may have been”.

    Neither of his articles mentions by name any of the 12 world leaders, past and present, actually identified in the documents, nor do they mention David Cameron’s dad, who is also in there. No, they focus on a cellist friend of Putin’s, talk about his daughter’s marriage, and include an awful lot of diagrams with big arrows that point at pictures of…Vladimir Putin. This is, apparently, all evidence of…something.

    From the OffGuardian article linked to above.

    • Taxi says:

      I'm in total agreement with MOA's article on the so-called 'Panama Scandal'.  And I wholly agree with Rudy's assessment of the Guardian's hack job on Putin, singling him out and all that.

      Here's what Newsweek is saying about the Mideast connection to the scandal:

      Panama Papers: Who Is Implicated From the Middle East? – Jack Moore/Newsweek

      The major leak of confidential documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca on Sunday, which explosively revealed how the world’s rich and powerful hide their wealth through the use of offshore tax havens, has implicated Russian President Vladimir Putin and could potentially topple the Icelandic Prime Minister. But who is implicated from the Middle East?

      Bashar al-Assad

      A money trail within the Assad family has linked the Syrian President, without explicitly naming him in the documents. The leak identified his cousins Rami and Hafez Makhlouf as making a fortune through exploiting family ties to the Syrian leader. The leaks state that “any foreign company seeking to do business in Syria had to be cleared by Rami.”

      He controlled sectors of the Syrian economy such as telecommunications and oil, while Hafez was a general in the Syrian intelligence and security services. Rami had a 63 percent stake in a Syrian mobile company Syriatel through his British Virgin Island company Drex Technologies S.A. When financial investigators contacted Mossack about a potential anti-money laundering investigation into Drex in 2011, the law firm cut ties with the Makhlouf businesses. Neither have responded to requests for comment regarding the leak.

      According to the leaks, the King of Saudi Arabia, and its Crown Prince until the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, used two offshore companies in the British Virgin Island, Verse Development Corporation and Inrow Corporation, to take out mortgages on his plush London homes, with a total cost of $34 million.

      Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

      Next in line to the Saudi throne, Salman’s nephew and Saudi’s current crown prince used Swiss bank UBS to buy Panamanian companies from Mossack Fonseca in order to open bank accounts.

      Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

      The President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) used some 30 companies created in the British Virgin Islands by Mossack Fonseca to purchase properties across the world. He built himself a palace in the Seychelles, the world’s biggest yacht and donated millions to medical research in the U.S.

      Alaa Mubarak

      The leaks implicated the son of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a wealthy businessman. In May 2015, an Egyptian court sentenced him, along with his father, of embezzling millions in state funds to renovate palaces before being released in October 2015. Alaa owned a company founded in the British Virgin Islands and managed by Credit Suisse. Mossack Fonseca cut ties with the firm in April 2015 and Alaa is yet to comment on the revelations.

      Ali Bu al-Ragheb

      The former prime minister of Jordan became director of a British Virgin Islands company Jaar Investment just months before he resigned as the country’s leader. The company had a bank account with the Arab Bank in Switzerland’s Geneva. The company was closed in 2008 after al-Ragheb became director of another British Virgin Islands company, Jay Investment Holdings. He also had three companies based in the Seychelles. He has not responded to the revelations.

      Israeli Companies

      Among the 11.5 million documents, 600 Israeli companies and 850 shareholders are listed as holding offshore accounts. Two Israeli banks, Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim, are listed, as well as Israeli public figures Dov Weisglass, former bureau chief of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who owns a company set up in the British Virgin Islands and businessmen Jacob Engel and Idan Ofer.

      Panama Papers: Who Is Implicated From the Middle East?  Newsweek

  5. RudyM says:

    This better be as good as it sounds:

    The Russian President said that he has decided to declassify many archival documents, and that he will sign the decree today. And it was signed. Here:

    And he quietly added: "This, as far as I know, according to the information from archive agencies, concerns the period from 1930 to 1989. In these documents there are cases, excuse me, of snitches as well as the innocently repressed, with very interesting names, some documents will surprise society…"

    (I realize there's suddenly a lot of other stuff going on, on various Russian related fronts.)

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