Back when former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin styled himself "Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular", many folks rightly saw it as kooky talk.
But as becomes more apparent with each passing day, the same dubious reaction should greet the US government's self-identification as a "democracy" - a meaningless euphemism that serves as a front for a blissfully plutocratic system.
And while most of us are presumably aware, on some level, of the relationship between obscene wealth and political power, it's always helpful to have the arrangement clearly spelled out. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.
When I checked in online recently for a Lufthansa flight to Beirut, a pop-up window prompted me to confirm my compliance with two important Lebanese entry regulations. The first was that “holders of passports containing any Israeli visa or stamp will be refused entry” — understandable, given Lebanon’s acute Israeli spy problem.
The second was that “maids must ensure that their passport includes a departure stamp issued by the country they departed from.” This regulation targeting maids (or, as we call them in polite conversation, domestic workers) highlights one of Lebanon’s many social afflictions: the relegation of a substantial portion of the population to an inferior tier of existence.
Whenever my septuagenarian Turkish acquaintance Mustafa imbibes a certain amount of raki, Turkey's national alcoholic beverage, he feels compelled to recount once again the story of his participation in the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish military.
In Mustafa's raki-fuelled version, the operation's swift success - which led to the deaths of thousands of Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, and Turkey's occupation of two-fifths of the island - was largely the result of his own military prowess, enabling the recuperation of a vital component of the Turkish empire.
The reality, of course, was a bit different - and the Turks' imperial interests weren't the only ones at stake. In a 2008 essay for the London Review of Books, British historian Perry Anderson writes that "political responsibility for the disaster [in Cyprus] lay with those who allowed or encouraged it". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.
On 25 February, a press release appearing on the FBI’s website announced that three Brooklyn residents had been charged with “attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign terrorist organisation”.
Never mind that the same charge - albeit at a much higher level - can be applied to the United States and a number of its allies, without whom ISIL would not currently be flourishing.
In the US view, of course, it’s better not to get bogged down in big-picture analysis and to focus instead on a constant succession of mini-apocalypses narrowly averted by FBI & Co.
The latest episode features three villains between the ages of 19 and 30, two of them immigrants from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan. Two are accused of plotting to join the jihad in Syria, the third of financially facilitating the plan. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.