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In Cuba, Pope Francis and Fidel Castro Baptize a New Era

Source: The Nation

Pope Francis and Fidel Castro share a long, intertwined political history—one that also points forward to a global ideological realignment.

Pope Francis arrived in Cuba on Saturday, and these images, including the pontiff’s meeting with Fidel Castro, are saturated with history. Here we have an Argentine, “Peronist” pope—born just eight years after Ernesto “Che” Guevara, his compatriot and Castro’s revolutionary comrade—celebrating an enormous, open-air mass under an iconic image of Che and attended by the Argentine president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In a way, the pope’s visit baptized the beginning of a new era—what should be called not the “normalization” of Washington-Havana relations but rather the normalization of the United States’ perverse half-century obsession with Cuba—one that the pope himself was instrumental in bringing about. In The Washington Post, R.R. Reno, who is editor of the arch-conservative and anti-Jesuit First Things, says that “Francis himself is attracted to clerical special ops,” and his secret diplomacy between Havana and Washington was Kissinger-worthy (except of course most of Kissinger’s machinations greatly increased the world’s share of misery). read more

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David Graeber – Hostile Intelligence: Reflections from a Visit to the West Bank

Source: International Times

In Nablus, every street seems to have a men’s hair salon. There are literally thousands of them. Most stay open until at least 2 at night; often other than mosques they’re the only places lit up and open at two at night; and it seems any time you pass by one, there are likely to be four or five nicely coiffed young men clustered inside, watching someone get a haircut. The odd thing is that women’s hair salons seem entirely absent. Occasionally you do see impressive posters for women’s cosmetics and hair products; often, the women are blonde (and a surprising number of Palestinians in Nablus are, in fact, blonde; even children), but the shops are absent. I asked a friend why this was. He explained that while Palestinian society was traditionally considered the most liberal Arab society outside of Beirut, and young women never used to go with their hair covered, things started to change in the ‘90s with the political rise of Hamas. But in the case of women’s hair salons, there was another, much more immediate factor. During the ‘80s, Israeli intelligence agents began taking advantage of their existence to spike the sweet tea with knock-out drugs, and take nude pictures of women so as to blackmail their husbands into turning collaborator or informant.  So now women’s salons exist, but they’re not visible from the street, and women no longer take tea from strangers. read more

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Slavoj Zizek: We Can’t Address the EU Refugee Crisis Without Confronting Global Capitalism

Source: In These Times

The refugees won’t all make it to Norway. Nor does the Norway they seek exist.

In her classic study On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross proposed the famous scheme of the five stages of how we react upon learning that we have a terminal illness: denial (one simply refuses to accept the fact: “This can’t be happening, not to me.”); anger (which explodes when we can no longer deny the fact: “How can this happen to me?”); bargaining (the hope we can somehow postpone or diminish the fact: “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”); depression (libidinal disinvestment: “I’m going to die, so why bother with anything?”); acceptance (“I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”). Later, Kübler-Ross applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss (joblessness, death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction), and also emphasized that they do not necessarily come in the same order, nor are all five stages experienced by all patients. read more