What good friends do

One of the Arab world’s most widely respected non-governmental organizations is charging that at least 14 Middle East and North African governments are systematically violating the civil liberties of their citizens — and most of them are close U.S. allies in the war on terror.

Raul opens the market

Cuba is seemingly changing after decades of state repression (small steps, perhaps, but an encouraging start): The Cuban president, Raúl Castro, today lifted restrictions on ownership of mobile phones. Castro’s move was another indication that he is prepared to grant more freedom to the island’s residents. The right to own mobile phones had been restricted…

Starving the “liberated”

Yet another scoop from Wikileaks: The U.S. military says it is taking steps to alleviate conditions at the Iraqi-run city jail in Fallujah after recent visitors found a filthy, overcrowded facility where prisoners had to provide their own food. The episode demonstrates how far Iraq’s judicial and penal institutions still have to go under U.S.…

Hating Islam (and being proud of it)

The controversy over Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ film on Islam, Fitna, is not hard to understand. It’s a crude, embarrassingly racist compilation of the most extreme Islamic statements and anti-Semitic rants. The clear attempt is to argue that all Muslims share the al-Qaeda view of the world and want to kill all non-Muslims. Please. It’s…

A back rub will win this war

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling…

The benefits of arse-kissing

Some journalists, in the words of John Pilger, “pretend to be objective while ensuring his or her words remain within the undeclared limits set by authority”. Two American journalists were central figures in pushing the Bush administration’s case for war against Iraq, erroneously linking al-Qaeda to Saddam. Of course, their careers have blossomed since 2003.

Killing Communists/Islamists, whoever

American tax-dollars at work, finding new ways to kill the enemy, any enemy: A recently declassified US Army report on the biological effects of non-lethal weapons reveals outlandish plans for “ray gun” devices, which would cause artificial fevers or beam voices into people’s heads.

A Jewish problem in the Jewish state

The Israeli Left cannot claim to hold much political sway – despite the occasional move such as protesting the influence of the IDF in schools – but the Jewish state is facing a far greater problem these days. Many global Jews simply don’t want to move there anymore. In only a matter of years, Palestinians…

The United States of torture

Since Abu Ghraib first came to the world’s attention in 2004, nearly 300 photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse have been shown to the public. But soon an enormous archive of new material – including more than 1,500 other photos, unredacted court papers and interview transcripts – will be posted online by filmmaker Errol Morris, whose…