27 January 2014

Mexico's 'vigilante monster'

Al Jazeera

Mexico's army and federal police were recently deployed to the Mexican state of Michoacan to deal with the ongoing battle between the Knights Templar drug cartel and vigilante groups known as "autodefensas".

Formed in February 2013 as a response to the state's unwillingness and inability to safeguard its people, these self-defense forces have succeeded in "liberating" a number of areas from cartel control, and have refused to comply with orders to disarm.

According to an AP report titled "Mexico Gov't Faces Vigilante Monster It Created", the US State Department "said that the warring between vigilantes and the cartel is 'incredibly worrisome' and [that it is] 'unclear if any of those actors have the community's best interests at heart'".

This is a curious assessment coming from an entity that prefers to showcase its concern for Mexican community interests by destroying Mexico's agriculture and industries via free trade schemes and by converting the country into a battlefield in the war on drugs. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

21 January 2014

E-radicalisation and Islamophobia

Al Jazeera

A concise news item in the January 6 edition of the British Independent  bears the headline: "Muslim mothers should be trained in computing 'to help to spot radicalisation'."

The article summarises the findings of a study conducted by the London-based women's charity JAN Trust:
"The study of 350 Muslim women, conducted between last June and October, found that 92 percent did not understand the term 'online radicalisation', nor that their children could be radicalised online. It said three-quarters of all mothers surveyed had seen or heard their children accessing Islamic lectures, yet 90 percent were unaware of their content."

No matter, of course, that the majority of people in the world presumably do not understand the term "online radicalisation". Such unawareness is apparently only cause for concern when associated with a certain religious cohort. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

Jihad on Drugs


In a recent ThinkProgress article called “What Everyone Should Know About Legal Pot and Terrorism," Zack Beauchamp warns that “there’s a clear and increasingly tight relationship between illicit drug profits and terrorism."
Offered in support of Beauchamp’s thesis is the alleged fact that Hezbollah “pockets millions by distributing drugs from South America in Africa and the Middle East … Because illegal drugs flourish in the same places and spaces that terrorist organizations do – the poorly governed, poorly policed global shadows – a mutually beneficial relationship between drug dealers and terrorists emerges with alarming frequency."
This analysis acquires slightly different implications in light of this week’s confirmation of the longstanding mutually beneficial relationship between the US government and certain Mexican drug cartels. According to an investigation by Mexico’s El Universal newspaper, the United States collaborated for years with the notorious Sinaloa cartel – among others – against rival outfits. READ MORE AT AL-AKHBAR.

11 January 2014

Reassessing the Syrian Spillover


As Lebanon accrues more carnage to its violent CV—most recently with the deadly bombings in downtown Beirut and the southern suburb of Haret Hreik—the media has increasingly rallied around the mantra that terrorism in Lebanon constitutes a “spillover” from the war in Syria.
According to the mainstream media chorus, this is thanks to Hezbollah's decision to participate in the Syrian conflict on the side of the government of Bashar al-Assad—and there is surely a connection. Hezbollah's intervention, however, is repeatedly cast as the fundamental starting point in the timeline of Lebanese current events, after which all other occurrences become reactive in nature.
This anti-cerebral, anti-historical approach to journalistic analysis leaves much to be desired. READ MORE AT WARSCAPES.

06 January 2014

The real danger of Uruguay’s pot legalization

Al Jazeera America

In December, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. While the International Narcotics Control Board, a body of experts established by the United Nations, condemned the move as a violation of international drug treaties, other observers consider it an alternative model in the debate over drug policy — and one to watch closely.
President Jose Mujica’s logic is that the decriminalization of marijuana will undermine drug cartels by depriving them of the lucrative nature of the trade in illicit substances. Newsweek quoted Mujica’s reasoning: “How do you combat drug trafficking? By stealing away part of the market.”
The law, which, among other things, will allow registered Uruguayans older than 18 to buy pot over the counter from licensed pharmacies, is a milestone in the war on the war on drugs — the fight against influential interests, both American and foreign, that profit from the war on drugs and, in fact, depend on its continued existence. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA AMERICA.