Pachamama and Progress: Conflicting Visions for Latin America’s Future

Miners march in Potosí, Bolivia (Photo: Telesur)

by Benjamin Dangl

Miners in Potosí, Bolivia set off sticks of dynamite as cold winter winds zipped through the city, passing street barricades, protests, hunger strikers and an occupied electrical plant. These actions took place place from late July to mid-August against the perceived neglect of the Evo Morales administration toward the impoverished Potosí region.

This showdown in Bolivia is similar to conflicts across Latin America between the promises of left-leaning governments, the needs of the people and the finite resources of Pachamama (Mother Earth).

Diverse social organizations, miners, unions, students, local residents, and even the city’s soccer team, united in the protest in late July. The mobilizations shut down the city and many mining operations. Residents criticized what they saw as the government’s lack of attention, funding and development projects for Potosí, the poorest department in the country.

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Naomi Klein, Hernando de Soto and Joseph Stiglitz on Economic Power

Naomi Klein, Hernando de Soto and Joseph Stiglitz speaking on economic power at the Graduate Centre, CUNY, moderated by David Harvey. See speaker biographies over the fold. From the fora.tv series ‘Is capitalism dead‘? Run time is 62 minutes, with a ten minute preview.

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The ‘real agenda’ of the BBC’s Jane Corbin, who calls herself a ‘Journalist’

Pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey, wearing life jackets, hold a news conference on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara as they sail in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. (Reuters)

by Abbas Al Lawati

On August 19, the Israeli consulate in New York tweeted: #BBC “Panorama” presents arguably the most complete & thorough account of the #Flotilla.

The documentary has not received much endorsement elsewhere. Instead there have been loud protests of bias, especially among those aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest vessel in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli commandos raided on May 31, killing nine activists.

Recently aired, the Panorama documentary, entitled Death in the Med, was produced by the BBC’s veteran documentary maker Jane Corbin. It claims to investigate the “real agenda” of “those who call themselves peace activists”.

A close analysis of the documentary reveals a troubling lack of objectivity in trying to paint the activists, headed by the Turkish relief organisation IHH, as radical Islamists bent on waging violent jihad.

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On why Liberal Defenders of the ‘Mosque’ Get it Wrong

This article below is also published in Religion Dispatches. A version of it can also be found on AlterNet – Aisha Ghani

Let me begin by stating what this article will not be doing: it will not be addressing the racist – but also vapid and unimaginative – bigotry coming from far right circles in the ‘mosque’ debate. Rather than attempting to deconstruct that ultimately banal rhetoric, I will focus on an issue that remains largely unaddressed: the troublesome terms and conditions upon which “Park51” has emerged a ‘defensible’ endeavor within — not conservative — but ‘liberal’ discourse.

In the past weeks, we have seen how liberal defenders have responded to the ‘fear and trembling’ that the mere idea of a mosque induces, through a series of disavowals. Instead of challenging the racist assumptions that buttress such rhetoric, many liberals have decided to offer ‘clarifications’. Time and again, the public is being reminded of the fact that Park51 is not  a mosque but an Islamic community center that promotes ‘inter-faith’ dialogue.

Daisy Khan and Imam Rauf, the leading figures behind the Park51 initiative, have not only repeated this mantra, but have in fact produced it. When liberal defenders have wittingly or unwittingly referred to Park51 as a mosque, the response from folks at the Cordoba Initiative has been gratitude in the form of this corrective: thank you for your support, but Park51 is not a mosque.

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There are no heroes in illegal and immoral wars

by Robert Jensen

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

When the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division rolled out of Iraq last week, the colonel commanding the brigade told a reporter that his soldiers were “leaving as heroes.”

While we can understand the pride of professional soldiers and the emotion behind that statement, it’s time for Americans — military and civilian — to face a difficult reality: In seven years of the deceptively named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and nine years of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan, no member of the U.S. has been a hero.

This is not an attack on soldiers, sailors, and Marines. Military personnel may act heroically in specific situations, showing courage and compassion, but for them to be heroes in the truest sense they must be engaged in a legal and morally justifiable conflict. That is not the case with the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the social pressure on us to use the language of heroism — or risk being labeled callous or traitors — undermines our ability to evaluate the politics and ethics of wars in a historical framework.

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US diverts floodwater on town to protect airbase in Pakistan, refuses use for relief operations

by The Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands

The presence of Pakistan army personnel speaks to the fact that the breach of Jamali bypass was intentional and ordered from above.

It has been reported earlier that the US Air Force has denied the relief agencies use of the Shahbaz airbase for the distribution of aid and assistance. Soldiers of the Pakistan army, a federal minister and the administration of Sindh province are blamed for the incident involving Shahbaz Airbase at Jacobabad district in Sindh province in which it has been reported that flood waters were diverted in order to save the airbase. The diversion of the floodwaters is blamed for inundating hundreds of houses and the displacement of 800,000 people. According to the media reports, the Federal Minister of Sports along with soldiers from the army and a contingent of officials from the Sindh provincial government breached the Jamali Bypass in Jafferabad district of Balochistan province during the night between August 13 and 14 to divert the water entering the airbase which has remained in US Air Force hands since the war on terror started in 2001.

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Four Reasons Why Americans Should Oppose Zionism

by Steven Salaita

Israel has been subject to some bad publicity recently.  In 2008-09, it launched a brutal military campaign in the Gaza Strip that killed over 400 Palestinian children.  In May, 2010, bumbling Israeli commandos murdered nine nonviolence activists on the relief flotilla Mavi Marmara.  It only got worse for Israel when it was revealed that soldiers stole and sold personal items such as laptops from the ship.  Last week, former Israeli soldier Eden Abergil posted photos onto facebook showing her preening in front of blindfolded and despondent Palestinian prisoners, in some instances mocking those prisoners with sexual undertones.  The photos were part of an album entitled “IDF—the best time of my life.”

While Abergil’s pictures may not seem as abhorrent as the Gaza and Mavi Marmara brutality—Abergil, for her part, described her behavior as nonviolent and free of contempt—all three actions are intimately connected.  First of all, we must dispel the notion that Abergil’s photos are nonviolent.  As with the Abu Ghraib debacle, a sexualized and coercive humiliation is being visited on the bodies of powerless, colonized, and incarcerated subjects, which by any reasonable principle is a basal form of violence; there is also the obvious physical violence of Palestinians being bound and blindfolded, presumably in or on their way to prisons nobody will confuse with the Mandarin Oriental.

More important, these recent episodes merely extend an age-old list of Israeli crimes and indignities that illuminate a depravity in the Zionist enterprise itself.  What is noteworthy about Israel’s three recent escapades is that more and more people are starting to pay attention to its crimes and indignities.  In so doing, more and more people are questioning the origin and meaning of Zionism—that is, the very idea of a legally ethnocentric Israel.

I would like to address this piece to those who have undertaken such questioning or to those who are prepared to initiate it.  I would urge you not to limit your critique of Israel only to its errors of judgment or its perceived excesses; it is more productive to challenge the ideology and practice of Zionism itself.  There is no noble origin or beautiful ideal to which the wayward Jewish state must return; such yearnings are often duplicitous mythmaking or romanticized nostalgia.  Zionists always intended to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, a strategy they carried out and continue to pursue with horrifying efficiency.

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We’ll Take Over the World? Ministry of Foreign Affairs Allocates 100 Million Shekel for State Branding

The following is a complete translation of this Israeli Globes article. Translator’s comments are noted with a star and written below.

The official IDF Spokesperson avatar

We’ll Take Over the World? Ministry of Foreign Affairs Allocates 100 Million Shekel for State Branding

17/08/2010, 18:00

Ministry of Foreign Affairs is enlarging the part of its PR budget designated to the branding of the state of Israel in the world, and is allocating an unprecedented amount of 100 million Shekel (over $26,260,000 to date) to the activity- Globes discovered.

Until today, the Foreign Affairs’ Hasbara and PR budget was estimated at 40 million Shekel (over $10,500,000 to date). 30 million Shekel of that sum (over $7,878,000 to date) were used for routine expenses, meaning that in practice only 10 million Shekel (over $2,626,000) were designated for PR and Hasbara.

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