Middle East Eye
11 September 2014
03 September 2014
A recent Forbes article poses the question-and-answer: "Think The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Is Stupid? You're Wrong".
The Ice Bucket Challenge is one of the modern era's greater marketing coups: a social media-based campaign to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease. The premise is that you either donate money to ALS charities or have a bucket of ice water dumped over your head; some people do both. The dumping is filmed and videos are posted on the internet, while their soaked protagonists nominate others to accept the challenge.
The operation has been celebrity-heavy, drenching the likes of US business magnate Bill Gates and Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima. According to Forbes, the Ice Bucket Challenge "is awesome" and criticisms of it are unfounded, because what ultimately matters is the monetary accumulation (over $100mwas donated in 30 days).
The article concludes that "the people trying to throw cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge "simply need to warm the icy cockles of their own hearts" - although the predicate of the sentence has been crossed out and replaced with the tamer suggestion that critics "should stop".
An examination of various aspects of the campaign, however, reveals it doesn't exactly merit cockle-warming. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.
30 August 2014
In September 1976, ten high school students were kidnapped in the city of La Plata, Argentina, in an operation coordinated by Argentine police and military intelligence. All were between the ages of 16 and 18.
Secretly imprisoned in abominable conditions, the ten were subjected to torture and abuse. Four were eventually released - following years of torment - while the other six make up but a small fraction of the estimated 30,000 persons disappeared during the Argentine military junta's so-called "Dirty War" of 1976-1983.
What, pray tell, were the magnificent crimes that merited such punishment? It's quite simple: The leftist inclinations of these ten individuals made them a clear threat to the public order. Transgressions included agitating for reduced bus fare for students.
The apocalyptic threat was hardly confined to La Plata.Operation Condor - a collaborative effort of right-wing dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay to combat the communist menace allegedly imperilling the hemisphere - lasted from the 1970s until the early 1980s and dispensed with some 80,000 people .
27 August 2014
In a scene near the beginning of David Burr Gerard’s acclaimed debut novel Short Century, journalist Arthur Hunt attends the assassination-by-drone-strike of "Little Brother," a dictator in a Muslim-African country referred to only as REDACTED. A 1960s leftist-turned-warmongering scribe, Hunt is invited to press the "kill" button by Sheila, a CIA source who has just given him an erection.
“The very model of the modern moral warrior, every inch of her," he recounts. "I imagined lifting her up on to her control panel, spreading her legs, and pushing her clit into the button before impaling her on the joystick, all while I readied my sleepy dick.”
The obliteration of Little Brother ends up taking out a burqa-clad civilian, but Hunt gives the collateral damage a feminist spin, congratulating himself for freeing other, still-breathing women in burqas from the grasp of tyranny. His support for imperial bloodletting doesn’t simply emerge from the humanitarian depths of his soul, however: he’s seeking atonement for a past incestuous relationship with his sister.
It may be a novel, but it's more than just fiction. READ MORE AT VICE.
20 August 2014
10 August 2014
When my friend and I used to hitchhike around Mexico some years ago, truck drivers would occasionally ask to see our passports to verify that we were not Latin Americans trying to smuggle ourselves into the United States. Aside from improvised passport control, obstacles to travel were quite minimal, and the worst thing that ever happened was that I was once trampled by a small bull after drinking too much tequila and deciding to participate in a village bullfight.
Obviously, things aren’t so easy for a lot of folks transiting Mexico. Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported that as many as 20,000 Central American migrants are abducted in the country annually while en route to the U.S. border, often riding atop trains. As many as six out of 10 migrant women are raped.
Crossing the desert into the U.S. on foot, an untold number of migrants perish from dehydration and exposure to the elements. Additional hazards occur in the form of right-wing vigilante groups that have taken it upon themselves to augment the anti-immigrant services offered by the Homeland Security Department. READ MORE AT ALTERNET.
22 July 2014
In June, Spanish monarch Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in favour of his son Felipe.
More drastic systemic rearrangements have since been proposed, however, by the guardians of another world order. A short video, the subject of recent hype in the Spanish media, features two men who claim to be jihadists in Syria and who explain - in Spanish - that "Spain is the land of our grandfathers" and will thus be reclaimed for Islam as part of the effort to recuperate rightful territory "from Jakarta to Andalusia". (Their particular jihadist outfit is not specified.)
The tone of the declaration is slightly less than spine-chilling. The holy warriors appear carefree, and one laughingly encourages the other to speak: "Come on, man."
Of course, some view prospects of land recuperation as more apocalyptic in nature. On her website Atlas Shrugs, professional Islamophobe Pamela Geller took credit for predicting the impending Muslim takeover; in a post under the category Spain's Islamic Kingdom, she wrote: "Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya… Jordan and now Rome and Spain. Regular Atlas readers have been expecting this for some time". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.
17 July 2014
Matt Taibbi once remarked with regard to the journalistic techniques ofThomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, corporate lapdog, and Iraq war fetishist: “Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.”
So we can only imagine what must have been Friedman’s utmost glee when the current Israeli slaughter of Palestinians enabled him to unleash the sentences: “You used to need a contract with Boeing to get a drone. Now you can make one in Gaza.”
This analysis appears in Friedman’s latest dispatch, titled “Order vs. Disorder, Part 2” (never mind that the previous column was titled “The World According to Maxwell Smart, Part 1”). In the lede, Friedman asserts that the Israeli-Arab conflict is “to the wider war of civilizations what Off Broadway is to Broadway … a miniature of the most relevant divide in the world today: the divide between the ‘world of order’ and the ‘world of disorder.’” READ MORE AT JACOBIN.
14 July 2014
In my last blog post, I marveled at Israeli resilience in managing to survive — with the help of Facebook and other life-saving devices — the wanton slaughter Israel’s military is currently inflicting on the Gaza Strip. One hundred seventy-two persons have thus far been killed in the coastal prison, but at least the Palestinians don’t have to listen to air raid sirens.
As it turns out, humans are not the only heroes in wartime Israel. A Jerusalem Post article headlined “Missiles are no match for Schnitzel the Cat” reports that an Israeli cat “escape[d] unscathed after missile shrapnel fell directly on his tree Sunday afternoon.” The shrapnel, we are told, was the result of a rocket interception by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The scene is captured in a 12-second security camera video, at the end of which “Schnitzel the Cat hops down from the same tree and runs home, presumably to the joy of his owners.”
Since said owners apparently haven’t been spoken to, it’s not clear how the Posthas determined the cat’s name. But hey, it sounds good. READ MORE AT JACOBIN.
11 July 2014
For viewers of the World Cup, it's been pretty hard not to notice FIFA's ubiquitously advertised#SayNoToRacism social media campaign. As it turns out, football audiences could potentially benefit from other educational campaigns as well, such as #SayNoToRapeAndNaziJokes.
When Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 in the July 8 semifinal match, Twitter and other social media platforms played host to a competition for most repugnant reaction. Tweeters showcased their presumed wit, with a heavy focus on gang rape and the Adolf Hitler era: "Brazilian team decided to file a case in the court against Germany for gang rape"; "I expected a Germany win. I didn't know they'd dish out a brutal prisongang rape"; "july 8 2014 germany starts it's second holocaust,this time it's for brazilians and it's welcomed by everyone. #BrazilvsGermany #gangrape"; "Brazil did Nazi this coming".
A tweet from the official Twitter account of "Lebanese STAR Maya DIAB", which boasts 335,000 followers, speculates that "#hitler is there in person", while a Malaysian parliamentarian weighed in with the following: "WELL DONE..BRAVO...LONG LIVE HITLER…" READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.
In one of the worst opening lines ever, Allison Kaplan Sommer writes atHaaretz: “When the going gets tough, the tough take selfies.”
She continues: “That’s the attitude that Sara Eisen, a resident of [the Israeli town of] Beit Shemesh decided to adopt when she started a Facebook groupcalled ‘Bomb Shelter Selfies.’”
The need for this valiant effort arose when “rockets began to rain on Israel” from the Gaza Strip earlier this week. Of course, the Israelis love to allege that rockets are raining on them. But weather reports for their neighbors are inevitably much worse.
To pick one from the timeline of largely one-sided slaughter by Israel — euphemized as “conflict” in international media — the Israeli army launched “Operation Summer Rains” on Gaza Strip in June of 2006, one year after it had supposedly un-occupied the coastal enclave. More than 400 Palestinians, including 85 children, were killed, while only five Israeli soldiers lost their lives. READ MORE AT JACOBIN.