25 July 2016

Nice, Munich and the terrorism of the West

Middle East Eye

From my base in southern Italy this month, I got to experience Italian television coverage of the aftermath of the 14 July lorry attack in Nice, France, that killed 84 people.
Predictably, coverage entailed headlines like “Islamic Terrorism Everywhere”, which prompted Italians in my midst to unleash lively Muslim-directed curses involving references to various human anatomy and to hyperventilate about how in Europe it was no longer possible to even walk outside without being blown up or otherwise Islamically terrorised.
In certain other parts of the world, of course, it has for years often been a crapshoot of sorts to walk outside - or engage in any number of other mundane activities like playing football, attending weddings, attending funeralssleeping - without attracting the attention of projectiles belonging to the United States or Israel, to name two of the top offenders.
It bears mentioning, on this front, that Italy is itself no minor accomplice to global killing patterns given its service as loyal military ally of the US and launching pad for drone missions. But terrorism by drone doesn’t factor into Eurocentric concerns. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

12 July 2016

Lebanon: 10 Years After the War, an Eternity of Injustice to Go

TeleSUR English

In August 2006, a scandal erupted in the context of the war then raging against Lebanon. From July 12 to August 14 of that year, Israel pummeled the country, flattening entire villages and slaughtering an estimated 1,200 people in the process, the vast majority of them civilians.
The New York Times reported that “the matter has created an uproar on the Internet, where many bloggers see an anti-Israel bias in Mr. Hajj’s manipulations, which made the damage from Israeli strikes into Beirut appear worse than the original pictures had.”For some observers, the devastation and slaughter did not themselves amount to a scandal. Rather, the real crime of the season had been committed by a Lebanese freelance photographer named Adnan Hajj, who was accused of manipulating two photographs for Reuters of an Israeli air raid on Beirut.
The alleged transgression was first publicized by blogger Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs website, whose other claims to fame include slamming 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie — fatally bulldozed by the Israelis in 2003 — as a “terror-supporting child abuser.” No bias there, obviously.
Ethically speaking, it’s clearly wrong for news photographers to engage in politically- or ideologically-motivated alteration of images. But in examining Hajj’s images provided on the New York Times’ website, one is hard-pressed to see how the manipulated image conveys a level of destruction any worse than that conveyed by the original. In both, clouds of heavy black smoke linger over Lebanon’s capital city. As the article notes, Hajj claimed that he was merely endeavoring to adjust the lighting in the photo and to remove a bit of dust.
Even had you wanted to, it would have been difficult to exaggerate the damage inflicted upon Lebanon in the summer of 2006. When my friend Amelia and I hitchhiked around the country a month after the termination of the war, national infrastructure was still in shambles. Bridges had been pulverized, sections of towns and cities had been converted to rubble, and swathes of the Lebanese coastline were coated in oil thanks to Israel’s bombardment of fuel tanks at Lebanon’s Jiyyeh power plant. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

02 July 2016

Amazon: The final frontier?

Al Jazeera English

Last year, American anthropologists Robert Walker and Kim Hill - of the University of Missouri and Arizona State University respectively - took it upon themselves to write an editorial for the weekly journal Science, entitled "Protecting isolated tribes".
The tribes in question, according to Walker and Hill, are "about 50 isolated indigenous societies across lowland South America … with limited to no contact with the outside world".
According to the prominent human rights group Survival International, there are more than 100 so-called "uncontacted" tribes living in voluntary isolation in the world, the vast majority of them in the South American Amazon.
Walker and Hill's strategy for "protecting" these groups is one of "controlled contact", in which governments initiate well-organised and sustained contact with the tribes and gradually integrate them into the official domestic fold, where their rights can allegedly be better protected. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.