07 February 2016

A Spanish right of return for Sephardic Jews?

Al Jazeera English

For many of Lebanon's estimated half-a-million Palestinian refugees, life consists of confinement to squalid camps, where they are barred from performing most jobs, owning property, and accessing basic civil liberties. 
The Lebanese government's excuse for condemning the Palestinians to such inhumane limbo is that any integration into society would jeopardise their right of return to Palestine.
This right has, of course, been categorically denied by the Israelis since the forcible establishment of the state of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948.
Interestingly, a new twist on the "right of return" concept is now being pursued by the Kingdom of Spain, which has decided to award Spanish nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, provided they meet certain criteria.
The Associated Press reports that "no one knows how many people might be eligible [for the citizenship], though some estimates run into the millions". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

04 February 2016

Washington and Its Media Allies Hype Narco-Jihadi Threat, Again

TeleSUR English

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced this week the achievement of “significant enforcement activity including arrests targeting Lebanese Hezbollah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC).”

If you’ve never heard of this particular mouthful, you’re not alone; try Googling it and see how many results predate the publication of the DEA press release.

But no matter. According to the agency, the BAC is “involved in international criminal activities such as drug trafficking and drug proceed money laundering,” with the proceeds “used to purchase weapons for Hezbollah for its activities in Syria.”

With assistance from a host of European countries, the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection—part of the Homeland Security Department—have now scored their latest victory in the crusade against the “dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism”: the arrest of the “top leaders” of the BAC’s “European cell.”

The victorious press release specifies that BAC members “have established business relationships with South American drug cartels.” Never mind that the exact same thing can be said of the U.S. government; recent examples that come to mind include collaborative efforts with Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa cartel.

A bit further back in time, the United States’ war on leftism in Latin America provided various opportunities for partnership with the underworld, with many of the proceeds funneled toward the right-wing Contra force committed to terrorizing the population of Nicaragua.

At one point, the Contra supply airline SETCO—owned by top Honduran drug lord Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros—was known as the “CIA airline.”

But this history, of course, can hardly be contained within the Good-Versus-Evil narrative propagated by the U.S., so we don’t talk about it. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

31 January 2016

The truth behind US' Operation Just Cause in Panama

Al Jazeera English

On January 31, 1990, the US invasion of Panama - dubbed Operation Just Cause - officially came to a close. While the US military has consistently lowballed the Panamanian death count of the short-lived affair, other observers have put the number of fatalities at several thousand.
As media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) noted at the time, Just Cause saw the impoverished Panama City neighbourhood of El Chorillo pulverised to the point of being referred to by ambulance drivers as "Little Hiroshima". In other words, no surgical strikes here.
Indeed, the foray into Panama was the largest US combat operation since the Vietnam War. The US government trotted out various noble justifications for the operation, such as improving the lot of the Panamanians by hauling their dictator, General Manuel Noriega, off to the US to face drug trafficking charges.
This was the same Noriega, of course, who had for years been a US favourite, occupying a prominent position on the CIA's payroll despite common knowledge of his involvement in the international drug trade.
When the general began to show signs of less-than-obsequiousness to US regional designs, however, he was rendered persona non grata by the self-appointed chaperones of the hemisphere. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

18 January 2016

Just how bright is Iran's new dawn?

Al Jazeera English

Imagine 10 Iranian soldiers aboard Iranian military vessels had turned up off the coast of the United States.
It's safe to assume that, whatever course of action was selected by US officials in response to the incursion, it would not have involved briefly detaining the visitors and then sending them on their merry way without a disproportionate amount of bellicose rhetoric and conspiracy theories launched by the sectors of US and international society that specialise in such things.
In recent years, Iran has hardly needed to raise a finger to get neoconservative and other panties in a bunch. Back in 2011, for example, a congressional subcommittee heard testimony regarding the alleged threat to US homeland security posed by Iranian actions in Latin America.
Among these actions was a reported request from the Iranian embassy in Bolivia for more than two dozen spaces at the international school in La Paz for the offspring of diplomatic personnel. Frightening stuff.
La Paz, mind you, is no fewer than 6,225 kilometres from Washington, DC - in other words, a much longer distance than that between the Iranian homeland and the US military boats that appeared last week in Iranian territorial waters.
And while Iran releasedthe 10 detained US soldiers in expedited fashion, various Western politicians and media couldn’t help but exploit the opportunity to cast the Islamic Republic as the aggressor in this case, as well. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

11 January 2016

Happy Birthday, Guantánamo

TeleSUR English

2015 was supposed to be the year I visited Guantánamo Bay.

I was meant to attend pretrial hearings in April for the five “HVDs”—high-value detainees—held at the prison. The HVDs are accused of involvement in 9/11; topping the list is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

I booked a flight from Beirut to Washington, D.C., and badgered the army official in charge of allocating seats on the plane from Andrews Air Force Base to Guantánamo until I was assured a spot. When I arrived to D.C., however, I was informed that the hearings had been canceled due to complications arising from the FBI’s infiltration of one of the defense teams the previous year.

As defense lawyer Ramzi Kassem had remarked a few months earlier: “The imperatives and mechanics of justice and intelligence gathering are, to a significant extent, incompatible. Nowhere is that contradiction sharper than at Guantánamo, where those two worlds collide.”

This particular observation had been made in response not to the FBI infiltration but rather to the news that one of the interpreters at Guantánamo client was an ex-employee of a CIA black site.

As the prison complex now celebrates its fourteenth birthday—more than seven years after Barack Obama promised to shut it down—worldly collision continues apace. And while it may be clear to any objective observer that “justice” does not exist within the realm of possible outcomes at a U.S. detention camp-cum-torture chamber operated on occupied Cuban territory, the U.S. makes every effort to distract from the bigger picture by cultivating a façade of fairness and respect for human dignity in day-to-day procedures at Guantánamo. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.


06 January 2016

Hezbollah in Syria: The Daily Beast Strikes Again

TeleSUR ENGLISH

The popular American news website The Daily Beast has long been known for its scoops.

Back in December 2011, for example, it alerted the world to concerns emanating from U.S. intelligence circles and Congress about the threat posed to the homeland by Iranian machinations in Latin America.

According to one Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo interviewed by the outlet, Iranian designs on the hemisphere involved a plot “to attack the mainframes and computers associated with government agencies and major businesses in the United States.”

Muñoz Ledo, a former computing instructor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had collaborated in the making of a sensational Univision documentary titled La amenaza iraní—“The Iranian Threat”—that fueled the notion of a predatory Islamic Republic setting up shop in America’s backyard.

As The Daily Beast noted, Muñoz Ledo had supplied “hidden footage” he’d filmed during a 2007 encounter with then-Iranian ambassador to Mexico Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri. As I’ve pointed out before, the incriminating footage consisted of things like the ambassador sitting in a chair. Ghadiri, for his part, claimed that a group from the university had proposed the idea of a cybernetic attack on the U.S. to his embassy but that “we refused… They seemed to me to be C.I.A. agents.”

Fast forward to July 2014 and The Daily Beast was once again at the vanguard of the news industry with the catchy headline: “Hezbollah Profits From Hash as Syria Goes to Pot.” READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

Opinion > Articles
Hezbollah in Syria: The Daily Beast Strikes Again
By: Belén Fernández 

Hezbollah members mourn during the funeral of a comrade who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in the Qalamun region, on May 26, 2015, in the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh. | Photo: AFP
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Published 6 January 2016 (1 hours 36 minutes ago)
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The news site is carrying out "psychological warfare" through the propaganda it publishes.
The popular American news website The Daily Beast has long been known for its scoops.

Back in December 2011, for example, it alerted the world to concerns emanating from U.S. intelligence circles and Congress about the threat posed to the homeland by alleged Iranian machinations in Latin America.

According to one Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo interviewed by the outlet, Iranian designs on the hemisphere involved a plot “to attack the mainframes and computers associated with government agencies and major businesses in the United States.”

Muñoz Ledo, a former computing instructor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had collaborated in the making of a sensational Univision documentary titled La amenaza iraní—“The Iranian Threat”—that fueled the notion of a predatory Islamic Republic setting up shop in America’s backyard.

As The Daily Beast noted, Muñoz Ledo had supplied “hidden footage” he’d filmed during a 2007 encounter with then-Iranian ambassador to Mexico Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri. As I’ve pointed out before, the incriminating footage consisted of things like the ambassador sitting in a chair. Ghadiri, for his part, claimed that a group from the university had proposed the idea of a cybernetic attack on the U.S. to his embassy but that “we refused … They seemed to me to be C.I.A. agents.”

Fast forward to July 2014 and The Daily Beast was once again at the vanguard of the news industry with the catchy headline: “Hezbollah Profits From Hash as Syria Goes to Pot.”

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: 
 "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Hezbollah-in-Syria-The-Daily-Beast-Strikes-Again-20160106-0021.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

Opinion > Articles
Hezbollah in Syria: The Daily Beast Strikes Again
By: Belén Fernández 

Hezbollah members mourn during the funeral of a comrade who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in the Qalamun region, on May 26, 2015, in the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh. | Photo: AFP
Previous
Next
Published 6 January 2016 (1 hours 36 minutes ago)
0
Comments
101
We Recommend

The news site is carrying out "psychological warfare" through the propaganda it publishes.
The popular American news website The Daily Beast has long been known for its scoops.

Back in December 2011, for example, it alerted the world to concerns emanating from U.S. intelligence circles and Congress about the threat posed to the homeland by alleged Iranian machinations in Latin America.

According to one Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo interviewed by the outlet, Iranian designs on the hemisphere involved a plot “to attack the mainframes and computers associated with government agencies and major businesses in the United States.”

Muñoz Ledo, a former computing instructor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had collaborated in the making of a sensational Univision documentary titled La amenaza iraní—“The Iranian Threat”—that fueled the notion of a predatory Islamic Republic setting up shop in America’s backyard.

As The Daily Beast noted, Muñoz Ledo had supplied “hidden footage” he’d filmed during a 2007 encounter with then-Iranian ambassador to Mexico Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri. As I’ve pointed out before, the incriminating footage consisted of things like the ambassador sitting in a chair. Ghadiri, for his part, claimed that a group from the university had proposed the idea of a cybernetic attack on the U.S. to his embassy but that “we refused … They seemed to me to be C.I.A. agents.”

Fast forward to July 2014 and The Daily Beast was once again at the vanguard of the news industry with the catchy headline: “Hezbollah Profits From Hash as Syria Goes to Pot.”

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: 
 "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Hezbollah-in-Syria-The-Daily-Beast-Strikes-Again-20160106-0021.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

Opinion > Articles
Hezbollah in Syria: The Daily Beast Strikes Again
By: Belén Fernández 

Hezbollah members mourn during the funeral of a comrade who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in the Qalamun region, on May 26, 2015, in the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh. | Photo: AFP
Previous
Next
Published 6 January 2016 (1 hours 36 minutes ago)
0
Comments
101
We Recommend

The news site is carrying out "psychological warfare" through the propaganda it publishes.
The popular American news website The Daily Beast has long been known for its scoops.

Back in December 2011, for example, it alerted the world to concerns emanating from U.S. intelligence circles and Congress about the threat posed to the homeland by alleged Iranian machinations in Latin America.

According to one Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo interviewed by the outlet, Iranian designs on the hemisphere involved a plot “to attack the mainframes and computers associated with government agencies and major businesses in the United States.”

Muñoz Ledo, a former computing instructor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had collaborated in the making of a sensational Univision documentary titled La amenaza iraní—“The Iranian Threat”—that fueled the notion of a predatory Islamic Republic setting up shop in America’s backyard.

As The Daily Beast noted, Muñoz Ledo had supplied “hidden footage” he’d filmed during a 2007 encounter with then-Iranian ambassador to Mexico Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri. As I’ve pointed out before, the incriminating footage consisted of things like the ambassador sitting in a chair. Ghadiri, for his part, claimed that a group from the university had proposed the idea of a cybernetic attack on the U.S. to his embassy but that “we refused … They seemed to me to be C.I.A. agents.”

Fast forward to July 2014 and The Daily Beast was once again at the vanguard of the news industry with the catchy headline: “Hezbollah Profits From Hash as Syria Goes to Pot.”

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: 
 "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Hezbollah-in-Syria-The-Daily-Beast-Strikes-Again-20160106-0021.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

04 January 2016

2016: It's deportation time

Al Jazeera English

On the final page of my friend Juan's Mexican passport are two words, handwritten in English and in capital letters: "ORDERED REMOVED."
Following are 43 numbers, letters, parentheses, and other marks, courtesy of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which deported him from Newark Airport in May 2015 when he was attempting to visit his American wife's family for two weeks.
The reason Juan was "removed", like faulty merchandise or a pile of rubbish, was that he had once entered the US without papers to work as a waiter - as so many Mexicans have been forced to do thanks in part to the pernicious economic falloutof the US-imposed North American Free Trade Agreement.
Of course, Juan was luckier than most people on the receiving end of DHS "removal" services - not to mention the countless Latin American migrants that perish along the border, as recently happened to Juan's own cousin. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

29 December 2015

Bonding with Israel

Middle East Eye

While in Mexico earlier this month, I was searching for a word in an online dictionary when I was accosted by a two-pronged advertisement in Spanish—at the top and side of the screen—declaring Israel “the best gift” for Hanukkah.

The ad directed me to the website of the Development Corporation for Israel, commonly known as Israel Bonds, the New York-based broker-dealer and underwriter for securities issued by the state of Israel in the United States.

Israel Bonds was founded in 1951 by David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, and has done a particularly brisk business as of late, with 2015 sales reportedly exceeding $1 billion for the third consecutive year. Worldwide, nearly $40 billion worth of bonds have been sold since their emergence on the scene nearly 65 years ago.

In 2011, bonds were made available for purchase online, generating more than $100 million in four years. Bond names range endearingly from Maccabee to Sabra to Mazel Tov to eMitzvah.

Such is the outfit’s prestige, it seems, that Israel Bonds President and CEO Israel “Izzy” Tapoohi got to ring the closing bell for the Nasdaq Stock Market in Times Square this past 17 December.

As usual, the press release on the Nasdaq website made the closing bell sound like the sensational equivalent of the first moon landing—with “exciting viral content and ceremony photos” promised on the Nasdaq Tumblr page and a webcast offered at two different online locations.

Some may wonder why the state of Israel requires yet more billions on top of the billions of dollars it already receives from the U.S. on an annual basis. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

18 December 2015

Change in Spain: Podemos or no podemos?

Al Jazeera English

In a recent interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Spain's interior minister and candidate for Congress Jorge Fernandez Diaz revealed that he possesses his very own guardian angel named Marcelo, who helps him with tasks such as parking the car. Coming from a man who awards national policing medals to statues of the Virgin Mary, such expressions of faith are not enormously surprising.
As Spain heads to vote in general elections on December 20, it remains to be seen whether Marcelo's services also extend to the ballot box. Various polls have put the right-wing People's Party (PP) - the domain of Fernandez Diaz and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy - in the lead, but these aren't your run-of-the-mill Spanish elections.
The traditional showdown between the PP and the Socialist Party (PSOE), the two entities that have dominated Spain's political scene in the post-Franco era, has been expanded to include two additional contenders for a substantial piece of the pie: the right-wing Ciudadanos Party and the left-wing Podemos (meaning "we can" in Spanish).
The latter materialised just last year and rapidly accrued a widespread following with its anti-austerity, pro-transparency message - one that resonated with sectors of the population devastated by the financial crisis.
Much of the devastation was a result of the fact that, in exemplary neoliberal fashion, the Spanish powers that be had shunted blame for the crisis onto the lower echelons of society, slashing education, healthcare, and other necessities and evicting people en masse from their homes. Meanwhile, those same powers continued to indulge in the privileges of institutional corruption. READ MORE AT ALJAZEERA ENGLISH.

16 December 2015

Elections in Spain: The End of an Era

TeleSUR ENGLISH

A recent headline in Spain’s digital newspaper El Diario announced that, according to spokesperson Pablo Casado of the right-wing People’s Party (PP), Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had “won the debate he didn’t attend.” Rajoy happens to head the PP. 

The debate in question was organized by the prominent Spanish paper El País ahead of the country’s general elections on December 20. Rajoy had refused to grace with his presence the other participants: the leaders of the PSOE, Ciudadanos, and Podemos—the three political parties that appear poised to take second, third and fourth place, respectively, in the elections, at least according to an opinion poll by the state-funded Center for Sociological Research. (Other pollsters have warned of the extreme unpredictability of the outcome.) 

It is of course the function of spokespeople everywhere to warp reality in favor of whatever product they’re selling—otherwise they’d be out of a job—but Casado’s declaration of victory in absentia is particularly misleading. After all, the real loser on Dec. 20 will be, hands down, the two-party system that has traditionally dominated Spanish politics, of which Rajoy’s PP constitutes one half. 

Additional delusions surface in Casado’s claim that it’s wrong to assume that “new politics are better than good politics,” the implication being that the “old politics” are automatically good. Consider the fact that it was none other than the bipartisan stewardship of crippling austerity measures and home evictions in the aftermath of the financial crisis—itself also incidentally a hallmark of politics as usual—that spurred the eruption of Podemos in the first place. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.