Al Jazeera America
21 August 2014
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.
08 June 2014
Let’s pretend that we want to start an organization to defend the rights of people across the globe that has no affiliation to any government or corporate interest. Which of the following characters should we therefore exclude from intimate roles in our organization’s operation? (You may choose more than one answer.)
- An individual who presided over a NATO bombing, including various civilian targets.
- An individual who was formerly a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a speechwriter for Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright and a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff who in 2009 declared that, under “limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for the illegal CIA rendition program that has seen an untold number of innocent people kidnapped and tortured.
- A former US Ambassador to Colombia, who later lobbied on behalf of Newmont Mining and J.P. Morgan — two US firms whose track records of environmental destruction would suggest that human wellbeing falls below elite profit on their list of priorities.
- A former CIA analyst.
Let's play a word association game. What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say "humility"?
Chances are it's not "heads of state".
Chances are it's not "heads of state".
To be sure, the conduct of government leaders across the globe would suggest a general eschewal of such virtues. A few egregious examples: the late Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan erected a gold statue of himself that rotated in accordance with the position of the sun. Former Ugandan dictator Idi Aminproclaimed himself "Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea", while former US president George W Bush claimed to receive battle commands directly from God.
Recurring Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has boasted of sleeping with eight women in one night, in addition to self-identifying as "the Jesus Christ of politics".
Amidst these tendencies of the global political class, Uruguay's Jose "Pepe" Mujica looks like a veritable freak of nature. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.
18 May 2014
A recent Quartz article about "unexpected and terrible destinations for the world's persecuted" lists Malta as the industrialised nation with the largest number of asylum seekers per capita: 20.2 for every 1,000 inhabitants. On average, 1,500 undocumented migrants turn up in Malta every year.
Most are from sub-Saharan Africa and arrive by accident to the small European island, which is located south of Sicily, while attempting to sail to mainland Europe. It's thus clearly an "unexpected" destination in the majority of cases, but why is it so "terrible"?
For starters, Malta's policy of mandatory detention of migrants means that the travellers - many of them fleeing violence and political and economic persecution - are often detained for up to 18 months in prison-like conditions. A 2012 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) specifies that this policy "operates in an automated, indiscriminate and blanket manner in violation of international law". Children, elderly people, and the mentally and physically disabled are not spared by the detention regime. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.