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Author Archives: manueldg82

We need to examine the reasons why we equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism

The ongoing attacks on the Labour Party for the alleged antisemitism of some of its prominent members is not only extremely biased and in the long term, it also obfuscates the true danger of antisemitism today.

Such a danger was perfectly illustrated by a caricature published back in July 2008 in the Viennese daily Die Presse: two stocky Nazi-looking Austrians sit at a table, and one of them holding in his hands a newspaper and commenting to his friend: “Here you can see again how a totally justified antisemitism is being misused for a cheap critique of Israel!”

This joke turns around the standard argument against critics of the policies of the state of Israel: like every other state, Israel can and should be judged and eventually criticised, but some critics of Israel misuse the justified critique of Israeli policy for antisemitic purposes. When today’s Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israeli politics reject leftist critiques of Israeli policies, is their implicit line of argument not uncannily close to the caricature from Die Presse?

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/israel-palestine-conflict-antisemitism-holocaust-a8294911.html

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Posted by on July 22, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Cambridge Analytica didn’t abuse the happiness industry – it was used exactly how it was intended to be

Now that our media is full of reports and comments on Cambridge Analytica, a key feature of the affair is, as a rule, ignored: the context of Cambridge Analytica makes it clear how cold manipulation and the care for love and human welfare are two sides of the same coin. Tamsin Shaw recently pointed out the central role played by researchers into happiness, like “The World Well-Being Project, a group at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center that specialises in the use of big data to measure health and happiness in order to improve well-being,” then there is “Aleksandr Kogan, who also works in the field of positive psychology and has written papers on happiness, kindness, and love (according to his résumé, an early paper was called ‘Down the Rabbit Hole: A Unified Theory of Love’).”

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cambridge-analytica-facebook-happiness-industry-didnt-misuse-it-a8275961.html

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2018 in Reportages

 

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200 years later, we can say that Marx was very often right – but in a much more literal way than he intended

There is a delicious old Soviet joke about Radio Yerevan: a listener asks: “Is it true that Rabinovitch won a new car in the lottery?”, and the radio presenter answers: “In principle yes, it’s true, only it wasn’t a new car but an old bicycle, and he didn’t win it but it was stolen from him.”

Does exactly the same not hold for Marx’s legacy today? Let’s ask Radio Yerevan: “Is Marx’s theory still relevant today?” We can guess the answer: in principle yes, he describes wonderfully the mad dance of capitalist dynamics which only reached its peak today, more than a century and a half later, but… Gerald A Cohen enumerated the four features of the classic Marxist notion of the working class: (1) it constitutes the majority of society; (2) it produces the wealth of society; (3) it consists of the exploited members of society; and (4) its members are the needy people in society. When these four features are combined, they generate two further features: (5) the working class has nothing to lose from revolution; and (6) it can and will engage in a revolutionary transformation of society.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/karl-marx-200-years-uk-politics-elections-working-class-slavoj-zizek-a8335931.html

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Separating Migrant Families Is Barbaric. It’s Also What the U.S. Has Been Doing to People of Color for Hundreds of Years.

Like most of you reading this, I am deeply appalled at what I see happening right now in the United States — immigrant children being snatched away from their parents and sent to separate detention centers, often locked in cages with strangers, with no real idea of when they’ll ever be reunited with their families. It’s an abomination.

But I often see two troubling responses to this crisis that show just how aloof and asleep millions of Americans are right now.

The first is a statement that goes something like this: This is not the America I know and love. The second is a question, rooted in the same ignorance, that goes something like this: How could this ever happen in the United States?

https://theintercept.com/2018/06/20/family-separation-immigration-history-slavery-mass-incarceration/

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in North America

 

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Iran diary: bracing for all-out economic war

While the dogs of war bark, the Ancient — and New — Silk Road goes on forever and a civilization with a long and proud history gets on with life

The minute you set foot in the streets of Mashhad, the air smelling of saffron, a fine breeze oozing from the mountains, it hits you; you’re in the heart of the Ancient Silk Road and the New Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

To the east, the Afghan border is only three hours away on an excellent highway. To the north, the Turkmenistan border is less than four hours away. To the northwest is the Caspian Sea. To the south is the Indian Ocean and the port of Chabahar, the entry point for the Indian version of the Silk Roads. The Tehran-Mashhad railway is being built by the Chinese.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Iran-diary-bracing-for-al-by-Pepe-Escobar-Iran_Iran-Green-Movement_Iran-President-Hassan-Rouhani_Ramadan-180528-90.html

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Troubles with Identity

Everyone who is troubled by new anti-immigrant populism should make the effort to watch Europa – the Last Battle (Tobias Bratt, Sweden 2017), a 10-episode documentary. It presents in extenso the neo-Nazi version of the last hundred years of European history. According to the series, this history was dominated by Jewish bankers who controlled our entire financial system; from the beginning, Judaism stood behind Communism, and the wealthy Jews directly financed the October Revolution to deal a mortal blow to Russia, a staunch defender of Christianity; Hitler was a peaceful German patriot who, after being democratically elected, changed Germany from a devastated land to a welfare country with the highest living standard in the world by withdrawing from international banking controlled by the Jews; international Jewry declared war on him, though Hitler desperately strived for peace; after the failure of the European Communist revolutions in the 1920s, the Communist center realized that one had first to destroy the moral foundations of the West (religion, ethnic identity, family values), so it founded the Frankfurt School whose aim was to pronounce family and authority as pathological tools of domination and to undermine every ethnic identity as oppressive.

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/troubles-with-identity/

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in European Union, Reportages

 

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Can It Be Illegal to Leave Your Country?

For some years now, certain videos posted on Facebook, Algerians’ preferred social network, have been causing a sensation here: They show groups of young Algerians brandishing smartphones and singing, taking videos of one another as they laugh, looking at once happy and worried. Over time, more and more young women and small children appear among them. Diversity may be frowned upon throughout the country, but it reigns, apparently, on the little vessels that ferry illegal migrants away.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/08/opinion/algeria-harga-emigration.html?nytmobile=0

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Africa, Reportages

 

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Haven’t we met before? On doppelgängers and perception

In 2015, Niamh Geaney, a 28-year-old Irish woman, was approached by a TV production company to participate in an unusual competition: a race to find her twin stranger, a stranger who looks exactly like her. Within two weeks of scouring social networks and every other available outlet, she’d found a dead ringer, Karen Branigan, from Dublin. Then she found another match, Luisa Guizzardi, from Genoa. And then another, Irene Adams, from Sligo. Identical quadruplets by appearance, in reality they were unrelated.

Geaney is not the only person to find a spitting image in an unlikely place. The abundance of doppelgängers, celebrity lookalikes and doubles found in artworks point to the same unsettling possibility: somewhere in the world, there’s a person who looks almost exactly like you. Whether you take this as an insult to your uniqueness or a testament to our collective humanity is up to you. Either way, the story of individuality does not end there, for a reason that these notions of facial resemblance often overlook: people vary in their visual-recognition capabilities, and these variations determine in part how similar others appear.

https://aeon.co/ideas/havent-we-met-before-on-doppelgangers-and-perception

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Israel and Palestine in 2018: Decolonisation, not peace

The founders of the state of Israel were mainly people who settled in Palestine in the very beginning of the 20th century. They came mostly from Eastern Europe, inspired by romantic national ideologies rampant in their home countries, disappointed by their inability to assimilate into these new nationalist movements and excited by the prospects of modern-day colonialism.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/israel-palestine-2018-decolonisation-peace-180514073500781.html

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over

A decade ago I bought my first smartphone, a clunky little BlackBerry 8830 that came in a sleek black leather sheath. I loved that phone. I loved the way it effortlessly slid in and out of its case, loved the soft purr it emitted when an email came in, loved the silent whoosh of its trackball as I played Brick Breaker on the subway and the feel of its baby keys clicking under my fat thumbs. It was the world in my hands, and when I had to turn it off, I felt anxious and alone.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/opinion/sunday/internet-digital-technology-return-to-analog.html?nytmobile=0

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Reportages

 

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