End of the world


This verse of the Noble Quran often springs to my mind when following the news and current events.

Allah has set a seal on their hearts and their hearing, and there is a blindfold on their sight

 

Faith and Reason

In many verses there is mention of the unbelievers’ and hypocrites’ hearts, eyes, and ears being sealed and of the sinful and perverse being misled. Khatm and tab’ [both meaning “seal”] denote ending, stamping a seal, imprinting, printing, and rendering things in certain shapes.

Heart in some instances denotes the particular organ of the body—i.e., the corporeal heart—and in other instances it is used to denote the human spirit, soul, etc.—the psychic and spiritual heart.

Allah’s (awj) sealing the spiritual and inward hearts of some human beings indicates their inability to be guided, their hearts being shut to the understanding and comprehension of Divine knowledge and their failure to turn to good and virtue. The sealing of their hearts, ears, and eyes by Allah (awj) is the result of their own volitional conduct and their ignoring the repeated admonitions of Allah (awj). In addition, although their hearts, ears, and eyes are sealed—this seal encompasses various levels and degrees. If it is such that the darkness of sin and malice has pervaded their hearts completely, they will never return to virtue and guidance. Of course this does not mean that it would be impossible for them to return to the light of faith and guidance, for the possibility of change and transformation exists till the very brink of death. Therefore, they are not deprived of free choice. They can by their free choice either remain on their same perverse ways, or they can choose with a firm and resolute decision, though it be difficult, to change their ways, and by finding the way of guidance and hearkening to the Divine instructions, attain to ultimate felicity.

In other words, to the extent that one’s heart is stained by the dross of sin, one is proportionately sealed off from the path of truth and deprived of understanding the Divine Signs and benefiting from His light and guidance. It should also be noted that perversion and the shutting of the heart is not exclusive to the unbelievers and the hypocrites.

“As for the faithless, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not have faith. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and their hearing, and there is a blindfold on their sight and there is a great punishment for them.”[18] 

“Allah has set a seal on their hearts, so they do not know.”[19]

 

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In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a highly influential U.S. strategist under both Reagan and Carter, published The Grand Chessboard. Arguing that whoever controls Eurasia – the Middle East and Central Asia – controls Europe, Asia, and Africa, this Machiavellian book spelled out ‘‘an integrated, comprehensive, and long-term geostrategy…to help ensure that…the global community [i.e. transnational corporations] has unhindered financial and economic access to’’ the world’s resources. He recommended that the U.S. establish military control over Central Asia and the Middle East, and crush the Islamic fundamentalist movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to protect ‘‘several pro-Western Middle Eastern governments and American regional interests especially in the Persian Gulf’’. Nowhere in the book does Brzezinski raise any concerns about terrorist threats to Americans.

Like Khalilzad, however, Brzezinski struggled with the problem of selling the scheme to the American public. ‘‘The pursuit of power and especially the economic costs and human sacrifice that the exercise of such power often requires,’’ he mused, ‘‘are not generally congenial to democratic instincts. Democratization is inimical to imperial mobilization’’. To solve this problem, Brzezinski repeatedly hinted that the U.S. could mobilize public support if it created a pretext incident like the 9-11 attacks:

“The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” (pp. 24–25)

“America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation. Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.” (pp. 35–36)

“Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” (Emphasis added) (Brzezinski, 1997, p. 211)

That same year (1997), the DPG re-surfaced, now dubbing itself ‘‘The Project for the New American Century’’ (PNAC). It included Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, and Zalmay Khalilzad. Twenty-one other ultra-conservatives joined the project – well-placed academics, Pentagon advisors, media, politicians and lobbyists, Christian fundamentalists, and Likudniks (Zionist hawks for Israeli interests). Many of them are now senior officials in or associates of the Bush Jr. administration. The PNAC’s Statement of Principles reaffirmed the DPG goal of world conquest. To accomplish this goal, the PNAC set out four main policy directions, each of which now figures prominently in Bush’s ‘‘war on terror’’:

  • to increase defense spending significantly,
  • to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values,
  • to promote the cause of political and economic freedom [that is, neoliberalism] abroad, and
  • to preserve and extend ‘‘an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles’’ (PNAC, 1997).

In 1999, Rand, an influential think tank, published an assessment of NATO plans to attack the Caspian region (Sokolsky & Chalick–Paley, 1999). It too emphasized the ‘‘need’’ to control existing and potential oil and gas routes from the Caspian Basin, but argued against a major military operation in the region at that time. The fact that the Air Force commissioned this study, however, reflects the seriousness with which it was exploring the option of invading Afghanistan three years before the 9-11 pretext. At the same time, military interests were also actively lobbying for the U.S. to topple Saddam Hussein’s government.

In September 2000, a year before the 9-11 attacks and a month before George W. Bush was ‘‘elected,’’ the PNAC published Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century (RAD). It built on and expanded the DPG. ‘‘…Although the experience of the past eight years has modified our understanding of particular military requirements for carrying out such a strategy, the basic tenets of the DPG, in our judgment, remain sound’’.

Significantly, RAD only mentions the word ‘‘terrorists’’ once in passing in the entire document (and does not mention ‘‘terrorist’’ or ‘‘terrorism’’ at all).

“America’s global leadership, and its role as the guarantor of the current great-power peace, relies upon the safety of the American homeland; the preservation of a favorable balance of power in Europe, the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region, and East Asia; and the general stability of the international system of nation-states relative to terrorists, organized crime, and other ‘‘non-state actors.’’ (Emphasis added)

In other words, the consistent, overwhelming motive for all these massively expensive plans was not Islamic terrorism, but global American military/ corporate control.

READ the entire article: Islamophobia and the War on Terror

“Orphans as young as three months old were used as test subjects in AIDS drug trials in New York’s Incarnation Children’s Center. The Center, which is run by Catholic Charities, specializes in treating HIV sufferers, and the drug trials were performed on children with HIV or who were born to HIV-positive mothers. The New York City Health Department is looking into claims that more than 100 children at Incarnation were used in as many as 36 experiments. Most of these experiments were sponsored by federal agencies such as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Documents obtained by the UK Observer have implicated British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s involvement in at least four experiments conducted at Incarnation since 1995 using black and Hispanic children. Several trials were conducted to test the toxicity of AIDS drugs. In one trial, children as young as four received a high-dosage cocktail of seven drugs; another tested the reaction of six-month-olds to a double dosage of a measles vaccine. Other studies conducted on children included testing AZT, which can carry dangerous side effects, as well as testing the long term safety of anti-bacterial drugs on six-month old babies. GlaxoSmithKline also used children to “obtain tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic data” for Herpes drugs.

“These trials were conducted by Columbia University Medical Center doctors. A spokesperson for Columbia University said that there have been no trials at Incarnation since 2000, and that the consent for using the children as test subjects was provided by the Administration for Children’s Services. Consent was based upon a panel of doctors and lawyers who decided whether or not the benefits of allowing the child to receive the drugs outweighed the risks (although it was unclear what recipient “benefits” referred to). Though GlaxoSmithKline has acknowledged their involvement in the trials at Incarnation, they deny any wrongdoing. According to their spokesperson: “These studies were implemented by the U.S. Aids Clinical Trial Group, a clinical research network paid for by the National Institutes of Health. Glaxo’s involvement in such studies would have been to provide study drugs or funding but we would have no interactions with the patients.”

“The medical community has defended these studies, saying it enabled children, normally without access to treatment, the opportunity to receive AIDS drugs. However, many, outraged at these studies, argue there is a difference between providing children with the latest AIDS drugs and using them for experimentation. According to Antony Barnett, several experiments were considered to be Phase 1 trials, which are among the most dangerous. These drugs are similar to those used in chemotherapy and carry serious side effects. Critics also argue that it is difficult to test babies for HIV, and results are often incorrect; therefore many of these trials may have been conducted on babies or children not actually infected with HIV.

“These trials at New York’s Incarnation Children’s Center were part of a broader series of HIV and AIDS drug trials that were conducted in at least seven states on foster children. Some children died during the trials. However, government officials have so far found no evidence that their deaths could be directly connected to the experiments.”

Source: Project Censored

We live in truly perverse times. Morality is now out of date: torture has become fashionable. Sexy, in fact… This article is from The Guardian’s archive.

“Pain is titillating. In the so-called war on terror, it is easy to assume glibly that sexualised violence is so mainstream that it can no longer shock. But Steven Meisel’s fashion photographs, published in the current issue of Italian Vogue, take the pornography of terror to another extreme. In his lavish fashion shoot, we are shown a world peopled by hyper-real security staff and a faux woman – skinny, toned, and modelling fantasy clothes and shoes. The heavily armed security personnel exude violence; the model oozes sex. In airports and on grimy city streets, she is depicted with her legs spread while uniformed men with phallic pistols and truncheons explore ways of abusing and torturing her. In other photographs, the model becomes the aggressor.

“This is fashion photography appropriated in the interests of the politics of torture and abuse. By fusing high fashion with the so-called war on terror, the photographs do more than simply give readers cheap thrills by their act of aesthetic transgression. The photographs endorse the very taboos they violate. There is a vicarious satisfaction in viewing these depictions of cruelty in the interests of national security. It is no coincidence that the security forces are shown to be protecting us from a person who is neither male nor obviously Muslim. Instead, the terrorist threat is an unreal woman. In contrast to the security personnel depicted, she is placed beyond the realm of the human. Her skin is as plastic as a mannequin’s; her body is too perfect, even when grimacing in pain. When the model is depicted as the aggressor, she remains nothing more than the phallic dominatrix of many adolescent boys’ wet dreams. In both instances, the beauty of the photographs transforms acts of violence and humiliation into erotic possibilities.

“The most disturbing thing about these photographs, however, is that they have taken their inspiration from the torture photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq. The visual titillation of suffering, dogs primed to attack people, and women who inflict pain – these have become some of the most common images of the war on terror. In these fashion photographs, we see how those images of torture have been translated into consumer products. Torture has not only become normalised, it has been integrated into one of the most glamorous forms of consumer culture – high fashion. In our current moral state of emergency, torture imagery has become fashionable.”

A taste for torture?