31 October 2013

GMOs and politico-corporate incest

Al Jazeera

The annual World Food Prize - self-advertised as "the foremost international award recognising … the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world" - was presented to three scientists in a ceremony earlier this month.

One of the recipients is an executive at Monsanto, the US-based biotech firm and Vietnam War-era manufacturer of the lethal defoliant Agent Orange.

Another recipient belongs to Syngenta, the Swiss agribusiness giant that recently sued Europe for daring to temporarily ban dangerous pesticides linked to the decimation of bee populations. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

23 October 2013

An Israeli 'spy eagle' has landed?

Al Jazeera

An October 17 report from Jerusalem-based AP correspondent Aron Heller begins:
"Israeli eagles dangerously endangered by pesticides, electrical wires and poachers now apparently face a new threat: Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.
Hezbollah's Al-Manar website recently boasted of capturing an eagle that carried an Israel-labeled transmission device on its back and claimed the bird was an Israeli spy. It said hunters in central Lebanon shot down the bird and found devices on it as well as a copper ring on its leg that reads 'Israel' in English followed by letters that refer to Tel Aviv University. The fate of the eagle remains unclear."

Heller goes on to quote ornithologist Yossi Leshem, a Tel Aviv University professor, who complains that "[t]he whole field of conservation is based on regional cooperation and not this nonsense …. It's not enough that they kill people, now they are killing birds too." READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

15 October 2013

Writing Dershowitz's obituary

Al Jazeera

After half a century of service at Harvard University, law professor Alan Dershowitz is preparing to retire.

A recent article in the Harvard Gazette quotes Dershowitz’s musings on his legacy outside academia:
"'I hope people will at least analyze fairly what I’ve tried to do in those two areas where I’m most well-known: representing unpopular defendants in criminal cases and helping to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. I don’t expect that I will be represented fairly, but I’m going to do what I can do bring that about', he said, mentioning his plan to rebut his obituary in advance in case news outlets don’t accurately reflect his life".

In the interest of fairness and accuracy, let us review some of Dershowitz’s alleged contributions to conflict resolution in the Middle East. As it turns out, his "help" in this field also revolves around the practice of defending criminals. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

04 October 2013

Do-it-yourself cartography of the Middle East

Al Jazeera

A recent offering from the New York Times Opinion page is an infographic titled "How 5 Countries Could Become 14".

Featuring analysis by Robin Wright—distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Wilson Center—it depicts prospective divisions of Libya, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen into territories with predictable names like Sunnistan, Shiitestan, Alawitestan, and Wahhabistan.

Despite the fixation with the –stan suffix, there is no polity called "Palestan". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.