Swine Flu? A Panic Stoked in Order to Posture and Spend By Simon Jenkins

30 April, 2009 – The Guardian

Despite the hysteria, the risk to Britons’ health is tiny – but that news won’t sell papers or drugs, or justify the WHO’s budget

We have gone demented. Two Britons are or were (not very) ill from flu. ‘This could really explode,’ intones a reporter for BBC News. ‘London warned: it’s here,’ cries the Evening Standard. Fear is said to be spreading ‘like a Mexican wave’. It ‘could affect’ three-quarters of a million Britons. It ‘could cost’ three trillion dollars. The ‘danger’, according to the radio, is that workers who are not ill will be ‘worried’ (perhaps by the reporter) and fail to turn up at power stations and hospitals.

Appropriately panicked, on Monday ministers plunged into their Cobra bunker beneath Whitehall to prepare for the worst. Had Tony Blair been about they would have worn germ warfare suits. British government is barking mad.

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Haneen Maikey and Jason Ritchie, “Israel, Palestine, and Queers”

28 April, 2009 – MRZine – Monthly Review

On January 28, little more than a week after Israel concluded its brutal military campaign against the Gaza Strip, James Kirchick published the latest installment in his growing corpus of articles about tolerant, gay-friendly Israel and homophobic, ‘Islamofascist’ Palestine. Although Kirchick has published essentially the same article under different titles — ‘Palestine and Gay Rights’ and ‘Palestinian Anti-Gay Atrocities Need Attention’ — and although he regurgitates the same flimsy, unsupported arguments in all of these articles, we do not write to question his intellectual prowess or journalistic qualifications. In fact, Kirchick’s diatribe against Palestinians and the ‘radical’ gay activists who support them would not warrant a response if it did not, in our view, represent something much bigger and more dangerous.

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Dana Cloud, “The McCarthyism That Horowitz Built: The Cases of Margo Ramlal Nankoe, William Robinson, Nagesh Rao, and Loretta Capeheart”

29 April, 2009 – MRZine – Monthly Review

Earlier this month, the jury in Ward Churchill’s civil trial against the University of Colorado found, in his favor, that the university had fired him because of critical remarks he made after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While Churchill awaits a hearing on his ongoing employment at the university, this victory is something to celebrate and replicate.

At the same time, however, the noxious weeds of the new McCarthyism have begun to bear bitter fruit around the country. Reports are coming in, not just about the better-known cases of harassment and firing of Norman Finkelstein (denied tenure at DePaul and banned from a speaking engagement at Clark College) or Joel Kovel (recently fired from his position as the Alger Hiss Chair of Social Studies at Bard College). Many readers will know the horrific case of Sami al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor jailed for five years without basis or charges for the suspicion of ties to terrorism.

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Pakistan’s Troubled “Paradise on Earth” by Kamran Asdar Ali

29 April, 2009 – Middle East Report Online

For more on the Taliban in Pakistan, see Graham Usher, ‘The Pakistan Taliban,’ Middle East Report Online, February 13, 2007.
For more on the displacement in Balochistan, see Stephen Dedalus, ‘The Forgotten Refugees of Balochistan,’ Middle East Report 244 (Fall 2007). Order the issue online
For background on Islamist-military dealings, see Kamran Asdar Ali, ‘Pakistani Islamists Gamble on the General,’ Middle East Report 231 (Summer 2004). Order the issue online.
For background on the 2002 elections, see Shahnaz Rouse, ‘Elections in Pakistan: Turning Tragedy into Farce,’ Middle East Report Online, October 18, 2002.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in areas of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as the army has launched ground operations and air raids to ‘eliminate and expel’ the Islamist militant groups commonly known as the Tehreek-e Taliban or the Taliban in Pakistan (TIP). The targeted districts border Swat, a well-watered mountain vale described as ‘paradise on earth’ in Pakistani tourist brochures, where the provincial government tried to placate the Taliban by agreeing to implement Islamic law (sharia). The February agreement, the Nizam-e Adal regulation, was approved by the lower house of the Pakistani parliament on April 12 and signed into law soon afterward by the president, Asif Zardari. But since then, fighting has continued, with both sides accusing the other of breaching the peace. As of April 27, according to a cleric close to the TIP, talks with the provincial government about Swat are suspended.

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Yassine Temlali, "Images of Women in the Maghreb: Persistent Clichés and Changing Realities"

22 April, 2009 – MRZine – Monthly Review

mahrgreb.jpgL’image de la femme au Maghreb (Images of Women in the Maghreb), a collection of articles edited by Barzakh in Algeria and by Actes Sud and the Mediterranean Center for the Humanities (MMSH) in France, is a work of research by four writers on the representation of women in their countries. The project was coordinated by Khadija Mohsen-Finan, director of the Maghreb program at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

‘The evolution of the conditions of women still appears crucial for understanding the changes underway in Maghreb societies today,’ Khadija Mohsen-Finan writes in her introduction. These changes can be grasped through the evolution of the way society as a whole looks at women and their role.’

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Stephen Roblin, "Lessons from History: The Case against AFRICOM"

Africa has historically been less of a priority to U.S. foreign policy planners than other regions, such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. This was certainly the case when George W. Bush took office in 2001. But during the course of his tenure, ‘Africa’s position in the U.S. strategic spectrum . . . moved from peripheral to central.'[1] There is no better evidence for this development than the most recent and significant change to the U.S. military structure — the establishment of the U.S. Africa command, commonly referred to as AFRICOM.

So what is AFRICOM? To answer this question, we need to understand one of the principal means of organizing the U.S. military’s global presence. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has carved the globe into regions, and these regions fall under the ‘area of responsibility’ of geographic combatant commands, the ‘prisms through which the Pentagon views the world.'[2] The function of these combatant commands is to coordinate, integrate, and manage all U.S. defense assets and operations for their respective regions.[3] Until recently the globe was covered by five U.S. combatant commands: European (EUCOM), Pacific (PACOM), Northern (NORTHCOM), Southern (SOUTHCOM), and Central (CENTOCOM).[4] On October 1, 2008 AFRICOM was added as the sixth U.S. combatant command, its area of responsibility being the continent of Africa, with the exception of Egypt.

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Bolivia: Rich countries must pay their `ecological debt'

Submission by Republic of Bolivia to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] (AWG-LCA)

25 April, 2009 — We call on developed countries to commit to deep emission reductions in order to advance the objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and its consequences, to reflect their historical responsibility for the causes of climate change, and to respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Waterboarding Approved Specifically To Justify Iraq War By Craig Murray

26 April, 2009

I have just learnt something which has convinced me that Bush, Cheney and Rice are indeed evil in the sense that Hitler was evil. I did not actually believe that until today.

The excellent and much-respected Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild of the USA and Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has discovered that waterboarding was first approved in July 2002 by Condoleeza Rice, specifically to force confessions of links between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

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The Pentagon’s Cyber Command: Formidable Infrastructure arrayed against the American People By Tom Burghardt

26 April, 2009 – Global ResearchAntifascist Calling…

The Wall Street Journal revealed April 24 that current National Security Agency (NSA) director Lt. General Keith Alexander will “head the Pentagon’s new Cyber Command.”

Friday’s report follows an April 22 piece published by the Journal announcing the proposed reorganization. The Obama administration’s cybersecurity initiative will, according to reports, “reshape the military’s efforts to protect its networks from attacks by hackers, especially those from countries such as China and Russia.”

When he was a presidential candidate, Obama had pledged to elevate cybersecurity as a national security issue, “equating it in significance with nuclear and biological weapons,” the Journal reported.

The new Pentagon command, according to The Washington Post, “would affect U.S. Strategic Command, whose mission includes ensuring U.S. ‘freedom of action’ in space and cyberspace, and the National Security Agency, which shares Pentagon cybersecurity responsibilities with the Defense Information Systems Agency.”

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Correa Triumphs in Ecuador, and Thereby Becomes One of Latin America’s Most Successful Political Figures

27 April, 2009 – Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, was re-elected yesterday with an impressive 51.7 percent of the vote, in a large field, to serve another term as head of state. Illustrating his widespread popularity in the country, his untainted presidential victory comes as the first such electoral triumph since 1979 that did not require a later run-off vote. His closest contender, Lucio Gutiérrez, managed to command only 28.4 percent of the ballot. Finishing in third with the lowest level of support in his four bids for the presidency, banana magnate, Álvaro Noboa saw his right-leaning electorate seriously dwindle.

It could be argued that Correa is one of the most successful contemporary Latin American political leaders of the era. Since taking office, he has come forth with a very specific socio-political program which has significantly alleviated the country’s political instability and hobbling strategic and economic conditions, while at the same time advancing his overt leftist platform aimed at job creation and lifting the country’s living standards. ‘Socialism, of course, will continue. The Ecuadorian people voted for that,’ he exclaimed after his victory Sunday. ‘When have we concealed our ideological orientation? We are going to emphasize this fight for social justice…’

Despite having expelled a pair of U.S. diplomats stationed in Quito this year on allegations of their ‘unacceptable meddling’ in Ecuadorian matters, Correa has generally avoided going out of his way to flail at the U.S. At the same time he did not fawn over seeking Washington’s goodwill when he announced that the U.S. lease on the military and anti-drug base at Manta would not be renewed in November. The same cannot be said of his left-leaning counterparts, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and Evo Morales of Bolivia, who never avoided exchanging pot shots with the Bush White House, but seem more interested in re-establishing a diplomatic relationship with Washington now that a new incumbent is occupying the White House.

Having been largely effective at maintaining relatively good relations with Washington while still holding his own, Correa appears keen on continuing his social and economic programs. Although he does expend a good deal of time on political dickering and forming non-productive alliances, he is not anything like a regional visionary in the mold of Chávez or Morales. Correa’s pragmatic, hands-on nature and his genuine preference for domestic matters over foreign affairs, and being his own man rather than fabricating a satellite personality is a decided asset. Correa’s feisty performance has improved the myth or reality that the Ecuadorian poor believe that their president has drastically improved the lives of everyday Ecuadorians, including themselves.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff
April 27th, 2009
Word Count: 400

Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

The Chavez administration is infested with political "chameleons" who have colored themselves precisely to match the revolutionary government and its intentions!

26 April, 2009 – VHeadline

VHeadline commentarist, the Rev. Obed Juan Vizcaino Najera writes: Manuel Rosales’ escape has revealed a lot of things that had been lurking in his shadow for years … ten years exactly. We have previously denounced this as a weakness in our Biolivarian Revolution … an eternal political naivete which is simply about impunity and complicity.

Our revolution continues to carry some weaknesses that have not been overcome and some people related to the Chavez government may, strangely, not want to these things to be overcome…

The infectious naivete continues to affect many officials within the National Government … many middle- and high-ranking officials within the public administration effectively have strings with counter-revolutionary sectors that come from a traditional Venezuelan Left as well as from Accion Democratica (AD) and the Christian Socialists (COPEI) … and it is those sectors that continue to get the majority of the best contracts signed with public institutions.

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Olga CHETVERIKOVA: Crisis as a way to build a global totalitarian state

As the world financial and economic crisis comes into its own, the Western community leaders are seeking to impress on mankind the idea that this upheaval will end up ‘turning the world into something different’.

Even though the picture of the ‘new world order’ remains vague and fuzzy, the main idea is quite clear: A single global government, goes the argument, has to be established if we don’t want general chaos to prevail.

Every now and again, Western politicians mention the need for a ‘new world order’, a ‘new world financial architecture’, or some kind of ‘supranational control’, calling it a ‘New Deal’ for the world. Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to say so, while addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2007 (that is, before the crisis).

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Bolivia: Evo Morales speaks on International Mother Earth Day

24 April, 2009 – Source: Bolivia Rising

The primary cause of the twenty-first century should be the recognition of the rights of Mother Earth, Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma declared hours after the General Assembly passed a resolution designating 22 April as ‘International Mother Earth Day’.

‘If we want to safeguard mankind, then we need to safeguard the planet,’ he said, stressing that social movements, regular citizens and presidents the world over needed to understand and support the rights of Mother Earth. ‘That is the next major task of the United Nations’.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, he said previous centuries had witnessed a permanent ongoing battle for human rights. With those human rights now secured, it was time to fight for those of the planet, including the right to life, the right to regeneration of the planet’s biodiversity, the right to a clean life free of pollution, and the right to harmony and balance among and between all things.

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Video: Past is present in Latin America Part Two

Last weekend, the leaders of the Americas met with US President Barack Obama for the first time as a group. While no major agreements were signed, long-time Latin America observer Larry Birns believes that the atmospherics were of a nature never before seen in the hemisphere. Signs of improvement in relations between the White House and Cuba, after 50 years of embargo and intervention. The leaders of Latin America have made it clear to Obama that any future progress in relations will require a drastic shift in his government’s policy toward Cuba, and there are signs that Obama will be willing to do so. Until that time, an entire hemisphere lies in wait.

Part One

Larry Birns is the Founding Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington-based independent research organization dedicated to promoting the hemisphere’s common interests. He is a longtime commentator on US-Latin American relations having written hundreds of articles for publications such as: The Nation, New York Review of Books, The Guardian, London Independent, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The New York Times and Foreign Policy, He served previously as public affairs officer for the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America in Santiago, Chile.

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Video: Past is present in Latin America Part One

At Summit Obama interested in looking forward, while many live the past every day – El Salvador report

In their first ever meeting, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave US President Barack Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s classic historical essay, Open Veins of Latin America. A best-seller in Latin America, the book is arguably the most complete history of imperialism in the region. And the move by Chavez represents the importance of understanding the context of the rise of the left in Latin America if you want to work with Latin America. But when Obama got to the podium, he announced “I didn’t come here to debate the past, I came here to deal with the future.” The most recent country to join Latin America’s leftist block is El Salvador, with the election of the FMLN’s Mauricio Funes to the presidency. Salvadoran anthropologist Ramón Rivas believes that the only way mutual understanding can be achieved is with a commitment to understanding the present, by learning the past.

Ramón Rivas is the Founding Director of the Museum of Anthropology at El Salvador Technological University in the capital of San Salvador. Originally from the department of Cabañas, El Salvador, Rivas received his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. He has served as dean of the El Salvador Tech´s Art and Culture School, and sat on El Salvador´s National Council for Culture and Art. He writes a weekly column in the Salvadoran newspaper El Diario Co-Latino.
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Cuba50 – Celebrating Cuban Culture


Welcome to the Cuba50 newsletter

It aims to bring together the best of Cuban arts and culture events in the UK plus the latest culture news from Cuba, in conjunction with the website www.cuba50.org

If you want your event to be part of Cuba50 submit it on the website or get in touch at office@cuba50.org

LosVanVan.jpgLos Van Van and Pablo Milanés to headline Cuba50 weekend June 27/28

The Cuba50 weekend at the Barbican 27-28 June, promises a feast of the very best live Cuban music and dance direct from Cuba.The two special concerts feature Cuba’s greatest dance band Los Van Van, nueva trova star Pablo Milanés, top rumba group Yoruba Andabo, the soulful Son Tropical and fabulous jazz pianist Harold Lopez Nussa. Book your tickets now!  more>>


Rakatan.jpgHavana Rakatan
05 – 23 May 09, Peacock Theatre, London

Mambo, jazz, bolero, son, cha-cha-cha, rumba and salsa all come alive in a dazzling dance display of Cuban passion. Set to live Cuban music courtesy of Cuba’s well-known son band Turquino, Havana Rakatan is a captivating journey through the dance and music of a truly unique country.   more>>

YUSA.jpgYUSA on UK & Ireland tour 
9 May – 1 Jun 09

Singer songwriter Yusa brings forward-thinking new music from Cuba. Combining a beautiful voice, bitter sweet lyrics and an intimate sound influenced by jazz, Brazilian music and rock as well as Cuban rhythms. more>>

Environmental.jpgEnvironmental Study Tour to Cuba
22 Nov – 07 Dec 09

Explore Cuba’s developing green issues with a full ecological agenda in its 50th Anniversary year. Includes hiking in the Escambray mountains, organic allotments and food conservation, an urban river conservation project, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, solar energy projects. more>>


clash.jpgSpanish Bombs: Tropical Tribute to The Clash
28 Apr 09, Barbican, London

The musical influence of The Clash on a generation of Spanish-speaking artists comes together in this unique concert, featuring guest musicians & vocalists from the hottest Latin bands around who bring to life the repertoire of this legendary band from London. more>>

Cuba50 newsletter and website bring you the best of Cuban arts and culture events around the UK plus the latest culture news from Cuba
http://www.cuba50.org/ email office@cuba50.org

Media Lens 24 April, 2009: Protesting War – An Exchange With The BBC’s Diplomatic Editor, Mark Urban

24 April, 2009

MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

On April 15, we wrote to Mark Urban, the Diplomatic Editor of the BBC‘s Newsnight programme. Urban was formerly defence correspondent at the Independent. He served in the British Army, for nine months as a regular officer and four years in the Territorials. He has hosted a series of virtual reality war games on the BBC, Time Commanders, re-enacting key battles. He is also the author of several books:

Soviet Land Power (1985)
War in Afghanistan (1987)
Big Boys’ Rules: The SAS and the secret struggle against the IRA (1992)
UK Eyes Alpha: Inside British Intelligence (1996)
The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes: The Story of George Scovell (2001)
Rifles: Six Years with Wellington’s Legendary Sharpshooters (2003)
Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World (2005)
Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America (2007)

Dear Mark Urban

Hope you’re well. In your latest War And Peace blog, you write:

“In this Mesopotamian prescription of a plague on all their houses we must not forget though the opponents of the war back home as well. For while many may feel vindicated by what subsequently happened, it was their hand wringing and magnification of every set back or mis-step that played a key role in undermining the political will to achieve more in southern Iraq.”

You have misunderstood the whole basis of the anti-war protest. The argument is that the invasion was illegal, in fact a classic example of the supreme war crime – the waging of a war of aggression. The Nuremberg trials were clear that it makes not a jot of difference whether such criminality has positive outcomes – the waging of aggressive war is illegal.

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Video: Is Zionism Racism? UK Ambassador gets grilled on the walkout

BBC reporter for Newsnight, Paxman grills the UK Ambassador on the walk-out. This video wasn’t available for anyone outside the UK, and after a few hours, even they couldn’t watch it anymore! It is an incredibly important excerpt of a document on the nature of what the journalist clearly recognises as a “stunt” and the Ambassador insists upon calling a “protest”, falling all over his own rhetoric in the process.


Jeremy Paxman: What is the difference between Zionism and racism?

Peter Gooderham: Well we see the two as being quite distinct…

Jeremy Paxman: Yeah what’s the difference?

Peter Gooderham: Well Zionism is a political movement related to the establishment of a homeland…

Jeremy Paxman [quietly]: So are some forms of racism.

Peter Gooderham: …a Jewish homeland, in the er…in what is now Israel and racism is something else. I mean racism is, I think we all know it when we see it and it’s not, it’s not that, and we have fought long and hard at the United Nations to keep that, to maintain that distinction.

Video: South Africa: Forgotten Freedom Fighters – Part 4

24 April 2009 — Youtube

In 1961, Nelson Mandela formed the military wing of the ANC to help in the struggle against Apartheid.

As South Africans prepare to go to the polls in their fourth general election since the end of Apartheid, Al Jazeera follows a group of former combatants who have stopped waiting for the compensation promised to them by the ANC and have decided to start their own business.

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