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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