Alleged Death Flight Pilot Fights Charges with Legal Tools Denied to Victims of Argentina’s Dirty War

Julio Alberto Poch, whose career progressed from death flights to commercial flights. (Photo: El País)

by Kurt Fernández

BUENOS AIRES—Julio Alberto Poch, the former Argentine naval pilot being held on charges that he flew hundreds of “vuelos de la muerte” or death flights during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, appeared relaxed as he walked into federal court in Buenos Aires on May 20.

Poch was recently extradited from Spain in a sequence of events that began after alarmed colleagues at the Dutch airline Transavia.com testified to an Argentine federal judge that Poch, an airline employee, had bragged about such feats as having piloted planes that disposed of leftist terrorists during Argentina’s “Guerra Sucia,” or Dirty War.

In an affirmation of the rule of law—and in stark contrast to the conditions in which many victims of the Dirty War were “brought to justice”—Poch was neither hooded nor in leg irons nor naked nor drugged as he stepped from the fourth floor elevator at the federal judicial building in Buenos Aires’ Retiro neighborhood.

Continue reading “Alleged Death Flight Pilot Fights Charges with Legal Tools Denied to Victims of Argentina’s Dirty War”

Politician’s Disappearance Raises Questions About Mexico’s Security Strategy

by Kristin Bricker

A shorter version of this article appears on the Security Sector Reform Centre’s blog.

The presumed kidnapping of Diego “The Boss” Fernández de Cevallos, one of Mexico’s most powerful politicians, has put Mexico’s security crisis in the international spotlight yet again.

The Mexican government hasn’t officially classified de Cevallos’ disappearance as a kidnapping. However, the fact that his car was found abandoned on his ranch with traces of blood and signs of struggle has lead his family to plea that his “captors” make contact in order to negotiate his release. At the time of writing, it is unknown if de Cevallos is alive or dead.

The crime itself isn’t shocking—kidnappings are all-too-common in Mexico. Nor would de Cevallos be the first politician to fall victim to violent crime—several local politicians have been killed or attacked in recent weeks as the country prepares for interim elections. What sets this crime apart from others is that the victim is one of the most powerful men in Mexico.
Continue reading “Politician’s Disappearance Raises Questions About Mexico’s Security Strategy”

The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 15-22.5.10

After the Israeli soldiers arrested the reporter, they used this incendiary device to start a fire. (Photography by Edo Medicks, http://bit.ly/959T8h

In Bil’in, the villagers tried yet another creative attempt at ending apartheid, dressing up as the assassinated Naji al-Ali’s Handala and carrying the symbolic 1948 key.

The army, like a well oiled machine, attacked with chemical warfare, invaded the village to abduct an Al-Arabiya reporter, using a smoke screen canister that spits fire as well.

Fires sparked due to the combination of Middle Eastern heat and ammunition. About 20 olive trees were lost, as it took the fire truck about an hour to arrive and the army had to be begged to stop gassing us, so we could approach the burning areas. Video clips after the fold.

Continue reading “The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 15-22.5.10”

Drones and Democracy

by Kathy Kelly and Josh Brollier

Islamabad: On May 12th, the day after a U.S. drone strike killed 24 people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, two men from the area agreed to tell us their perspective as eyewitnesses of previous drone strikes.

One is a journalist, Safdar Dawar, General Secretary of the Tribal Union of Journalists. Journalists are operating under very difficult circumstances in the area, pressured by both militant groups and the Pakistani government.  Six of his colleagues have been killed while reporting in North and South Waziristan. The other man, who asked us not to disclose his name, is from Miranshah city, the epicenter of North Waziristan.  He works with the locally based Waziristan Relief Agency, a group of people committed to helping the victims of drone attacks and military actions.  “If people need blood or medicine or have to go to Peshawar or some other hospital,” said the social worker, “I’m known for helping them. I also try to arrange funds and contributions.”

Continue reading “Drones and Democracy”

Bravo Elvis Costello! ‘Sometimes silence in music is better than adding to the static…’

Elvis Costello, we salute you, for heeding the BDS call and acting upon your conscience to cancel concerts in Israel. Here’s his statement:

It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.

One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.

Continue reading “Bravo Elvis Costello! ‘Sometimes silence in music is better than adding to the static…’”

Elaine Hagopian Reviews Israeli Exceptionalism

Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan, November 10, 2009). Publisher’s link.

by Elaine Hagopian

Cover Image GIFFor those unfamiliar with the extraordinary evolution of Israeli exceptionalism emanating from its Zionist narrative and assuring Israel’s incredible success as a colonial settler state, M. Shahid Alam’s book is the one to read.  He has recorded a compelling, uniquely comprehensive and enlightening historical analysis of the inherently destabilizing dynamic of Zionism.  Of particular note are his detailed Chapters Nine and Thirteen.

In Chapter Nine, he documents the constellation of Jewish factors that came together in the 19th century which assured Zionist success: the spread of Jewish intellectuals and professionals across major cities in Europe; Jewish population growth to 16.7 million in 1939 which could root a nationalist movement; business acumen and ownership of major banks and a strong media presence; growth of interchange with other Jewish leaders contributing to a sense of community – important considering that Jews had not previously formed a sense of nation according to Alam; and as European nationalism grew, Jews were affected by the idea though they had no majority presence in any one state which could be claimed by them.  Historical anti-Semitism prodded the Jewish elites toward formulation of the Zionist project even as Jews were moving out of the ghettos of a liberalized Europe.  Given their distribution throughout Europe and without a territorial base of their own, the Zionist sought and captured the needed “mother” country to implement their colonial settler state in Palestine.  This they found in the U.K initially and then in the U.S. with periodic support by other countries such as France.

Continue reading “Elaine Hagopian Reviews Israeli Exceptionalism”

From Prayer to Paralysis

by Joshua Brollier 

Zainullah at a Paraplegic Center near Peshawar (Photo: G. Simon Harak)

May 17, 2010, Islamabad — Through the Soviet invasion and occupation, the Afghan civil war and now the United States war and occupation, a young man named Zainullah, around 25 years of age, has seen war his whole life. But you’d never know it by his engaging smile and his relaxed countenance. Zainullah currently lives at a paraplegic center in Hayatabad, Pakistan, a suburb of Peshawar, the capital city of the North-West Frontier Province. He is originally from the Helmand province of Afghanistan, which has been one of the most intense battlegrounds during the “war on terror” launched by the United States in 2001. 

Zainullah was paralyzed about nine months ago after being struck with shrapnel from a U.S. cruise missile. On the day of the attack, Zainullah was getting ready to start his prayers. He heard a bomb blast, and before he had a chance to realize that he was the target, Zainullah was laying prostrate on the ground with a piece of metal lodged in his spinal cord. Two men from his village carried him to the nearest clinic. There he was given an injection and then taken to the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) facility in Helmand. Now paralyzed from the waist down, Zainullah spent one month at the ICRC , and then decided to seek more extensive rehabilitation treatment in Pakistan. 

Continue reading “From Prayer to Paralysis”

Apartheid = Immoral Order

Authors Margaret Atwood and Amitav Ghosh are well known for works centered around oppression and colonialism with an anti-war stance. Tel-Aviv University is one of the prime targets of the academic boycott, for its support and part in Israel’s violent occupation over the Palestinian people. The Dan David Prize is one of those high-profile awards (very similar to the Oscar or the Nobel) which makes celebrities out of artists, academics and and scientists, and kicks perceptions and economies out of whack, for the sake of prestige, in the name bettering the world, under a very capitalist premise. But most importantly, the Dan David Prize is co-sponsored by the Tel-Aviv University (which is of course funded by the government, as it should be) and the ceremony is attended by the president of Israel.

The First BDS Direct Action in Israel
Atwood and Ghosh accepted the prize and its one million dollars, in all its bloody glory, even though they were beseeched, time and time and time again, not to support apartheid. On May 11th they spoke at a symposium, following their acceptance of the prize and we, Israeli activists of BDS, were there to make sure our stance is clear:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Continue reading “Apartheid = Immoral Order”

Can Journalism Be Saved?


Download program audio (mp3, 48.84 Mbytes)

Reporters by the thousands are being let go; newspapers and foreign bureaus are disappearing. Why is this happening, and what impact does journalism’s crisis have on democracy? At a recent event, Robert McChesney and John Nichols addressed these questions and cited early US governmental support for journalism.

Also see by the authors: