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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