The artificial boundaries after the British and French carved up the region are increasingly irrelevant.
Sykes-Picot map of 1916: “A” goes to France, “B” to Britain. Image from the National Archives / Public Domain.
“One day during the [Versailles] Peace Conference [ending WWI], Arnold Toynbee, an adviser to the British delegation, had to deliver some papers to the prime minister. “Lloyd George had forgotten my presence and had begun to think aloud. ‘Mesopotamia, yes, oil, irrigation, we must have Mesopotamia; Palestine, yes, the Holy Land, Zionism, we must have Palestine; Syria, h’m, what is there in Syria? Let the French have that.’”
— Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan, p. 381
It took more than the musings of British Prime Minister Lloyd George to make it happen, but that’s more or less how the current countries of the Middle East were created. Their boundaries were essentially drawn by the British and French after WWI to suit their own interests.
The Ottoman Empire, having joined the wrong side in the war, was being dismembered by the victorious European colonialists. The British forces occupied Baghdad and controlled the valleys of the Tigres and Euphrates Rivers. Hence, they got the oil, which they knew to be there in abundance, plus Palestine for sentimental reasons. The French got the leftovers, primarily the coastal regions where the French-speaking Maronite Christians lived plus a bunch of desert to the east.
A fine cast, tricky plots, and snappy dialogue make this program a fun, compelling pleasure.
Hustle is a compelling pleasure.
[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]
Hustle is a lively British con-men-vs.-slimy-aristocrats series that ran for eight seasons and 48 episodes, from 2004 to 2014. Four series and 24 episodes air on Netflix, and many are free on YouTube, such as this one.
Hustle follows a group of con artists who specialize in “long cons” — extended deceptions which require greater commitment, but which return a higher reward than simple confidence tricks. First the “marks” think they are getting away with something, and then the tables are turned.
The acid test of good writing is how it sounds when read aloud. When you write like an artist, people would pay to hear your words recited.
This goes out to young people who are articulate in the written form of English and therefore perhaps a dying breed. It was inspired when one of my editors hurled a really painful remark my way. He said I write like a lawyer.
A legal education will seriously bollix your writing. People think lawyers are trying to be too subtle, to make every word choice carry too much freight.
“The underground is not a place but a way of life. You can be underground most anywhere, from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Hermosa Beach, California.” — Bryan Burrough
Days of Rage is Bryan Burrough’s sixth book.
Bryan Burroughs has probably written the book about America’s radical underground at least for our time. Researching Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, he talked to dozens and dozens of people, read almost all the literature, and studied the salient documents.
Days of Rage is Burrough’s sixth book. Previous works include Public Enemies (2004) that was made into a gangster film with Johnny Depp as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as FBI agent Melvin Purvis.
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Books, Bryan Burrough, Days of Rage, Interview, Jonah Raskin, Marilyn Buck, Radical Activists, Rag Bloggers, Sixties, Weather Underground
Like Icarus, the 13th Floor Elevators, a band that should have a special alcove in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, flew too close to the sun.
Tommy Hall of the 13th Floor Elevators at Levitation 2015. Photo by Bob Simmons / The Rag Blog.
Sitting in the shiny Airstream trailer looking at Tommy Hall and seeing him for the first time since 1968, in what, like 46 years? We are at the 2015 Reverberation “Psych Fest” in Austin, with its nearly 70 bands, 20,000 people, and one or two old hippies for use to compare and contrast. And who would do that better than Tommy, a walking talking true cultural artifact if there ever was one.
I am awash in remembrance of what it was like all those years ago when the 13th Floor Elevators were encouraging their fans to “let it happen to you.” As a student at UT in the 60s I admit gladly that I was one of those who decided to indeed let it happen, in fact, to work actively to make it happen to me and anyone else who would listen. “Proselytizing ‘R Us,” some cynics might have said. But hey, if it worked for the Beatles, Jimi, and everyone in Golden Gate Park, why not for us? Pass the sacrament Jack. Just put the little Janis blotter stamp on your tongue and let nature take its course.
Posted in Rag Bloggers, RagBlog
Tagged 13th Floor Elevators, Austin History, Austin Music, Bob Simmons, Elevators Reunion, LSD, Psych Fest, Psychedelic Drugs, Psychedelic Rock, Rag Bloggers, Rock and Roll, Roky Erickson, Sixties, Tommy Hall
On these podcasts we discuss the first amendment, religion in a secular society, organized crime in ’60s Austin, immigrant rights and family detention, and sustainability through performance art!
Author and musician Jesse Sublett in the studios of KOOP Radio in Austin, Texas, April 24, 2015. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.
Rag Radio has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture. The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows that have not previously been posted to The Rag Blog.
∗First Amendment Scholar Burt Neuborne, Author of ‘Madison’s Music’
Read the show description and download the podcast of our May 8, 2015 Rag Radio show with Burt Neuborne here — or listen to it here:
∗Rev Jim Rigby on ‘The Role of Religion in a Secular State’
Read the show description and download the podcast of our May 1, 2015 Rag Radio interview with Rev. Jim Rigby here — or listen to it here:
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged Barbara Hines, Burt Neuborne, Interviews, Jeff Wilson, Jesse Sublett, Jim Rigby, Podcasts, Professor Dumpster, Rag Bloggers, Rag Radio, Thorne Dreyer
We must put corporations in their place and acknowledge that money is a commodity, not speech.
Image from Move to Amend.
For five years, ever since the illogical and corporatist Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which reaffirmed that corporations have the personal rights of citizens and held that money is speech, I have wanted to find an effective way to correct the damage those five Supreme Court Justices did to our system of government and our Constitution.
Recently, I found what I was looking for. I heard David Cobb speak about the the slow rise of corporate rights in this country — rights that are mistaken, but threaten to overcome the Constitutional framework devised by James Madison and others in 1787 and ratified in 1789. Corporations were once granted limited privileges, which have morphed into nearly unlimited rights conferred by an extremist judiciary that disregards the foundations of our democratic republic — a republic created by real people, not artificial entities.
From this tiny spot on the edge of the earth I ventured out into the world, seeking adventures and trying to make Mother Earth a better place.
Beach house interior with thumb piano, Hank Williams,and an empty bottle of Cerveza Victoria from Nicaragua. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.
[In this series, Michael James is sharing images from his rich past, accompanied by reflections about — and inspired by — those images. These photos will be included in his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.]
The “beach house” was my bachelor pad on the edge of the earth, a secluded hideaway crib with a close-to-nature vibe. In the early ’80s I lived in this space, situated near the end of the Loyola Avenue alley at the edge of the Great Lake Michigan. During my years there I did some growing up; by the end of the decade I had grown beyond it.
It seems unlikely, but should Obama decide to extricate himself from an inconvenient initiative, here’s a way out.
Protest at TPP negotiations in New York on January 26, 2015 Photo by Cindy Trinh; Puppet by Elliot Crown. Image from Systemic Disorder.
President Obama’s recent progressive initiatives — pursuing diplomacy with Iran, opening relations with Cuba, protecting undocumented immigrants, lifting the federal minimum wage, extending Medicaid benefits to millions of uninsured Americans, imposing tough regulations on coal — are facing furious Republican opposition on every front. That’s why it’s peculiar that he persists in pushing pro-corporate trade agreements over the objections of a majority of Democrats, unions, and environmentalists.
The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic trade agreements (TPP and TTIP) are being negotiated in secrecy, presumably because they include elements of a corporate agenda that would be rejected if ever debated in public, according to the expert opinion of Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.