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Showing posts from June, 2009

Betraying the Planet

"And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course."

Strong words! From none other than Nobel Economics Prize winner, Paul Klugman - writing in "Betraying the Planet" in The NY TImes.

Living in Despair

No surprises here - in this report on BBC News about Gaza and the plight of its people:

"The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza as people "trapped in despair".

In a report, it said that a main cause was the continuing Israeli blockade.

The report comes six months after the end of Israel's military offensive in Gaza in which at least 1,100 Palestinians died.

Israel said the offensive was aimed at curbing rocket attacks into southern Israel by Palestinian militants.

The Red Cross says that the people of Gaza are unable to rebuild their lives and are sliding ever deeper into despair.

There is not the cement or steel to reconstruct neighbourhoods hit by Israeli strikes.

Seriously ill patients are not receiving the treatment they need. The water supply is patchy, sanitation on the point of collapse.

The ICRC statement comes as a UN Human Rights Council inquiry into alleged war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel hold…

All too true!

Credit to Cameron (Cam) at The Ottawa Citizen

Obama takes the Bush road....backwards!

What can one say?....other than be appalled that Obama, despite all the election-campaign rhetoric and hype, is planning to allow for indefinite detention of suspected terrorists. Not convicted terrorists mind you......

So, Obama in the White House isn't all that much different to his now discredited predecessor, George W. Except that Obama is a lawyer and one-time law professor!

truthout.org reports:

"The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantanamo, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate suspected terrorists indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former President George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before t…

Nazi crimes still continue.....

It is hard to believe that after all these years that the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis continue.

The Washington Post reports on how many Jews are still fighting to recover stolen art works - and are being stymied in the process:

"Holocaust survivors and their heirs are still battling museums and governments for the return of thousands of pieces of looted art, despite pledges made by dozens of countries in Washington a decade ago to resolve the claims.

At a major conference underway here in Prague, delegates from 49 countries acknowledged that Jews continue to be stymied in their efforts to reclaim art that was stolen by the Nazis and later transferred to museums and galleries around the world, especially in Europe. An estimated 100,000 artworks, from invaluable masterpieces to items of mostly sentimental value, remain lost or beyond legal reach of their victimized owners and descendants."

Zee Lunch is usurped by Le Sandwich

Those visions of Parisians in their bistros dining on wonderful French fare with a delightful red wine to accompany the repast, may be becoming a thing of the past. Modern, paced life and the inability of people to get home to a hot lunch is seeing the sandwich coming to the fore as workers grab a quick bit at lunchtime.

The Washington Post reports:

"Ah, France, bastion of the three-hour lunch. First comes the appetizer, followed by the main course, then cheese and dessert, washed down with red wine and, along with an espresso at the finale, maybe a little cognac to enhance digestion back at the office.

Well, yes and no.

While they have not abandoned their love of food, French people increasingly are resorting to a humble sandwich for the noon meal. Some even gulp it down with a soft drink while sitting at their desks. So much so that the consumption of sandwiches in France has grown by more than a quarter over the past six years, to 1.8 billion annually, and climbed by 10 percent…

A Journalist Beaten - One Year On

A journalist, Mohammed Omar, on the first anniversary of a horrendous event - which attracted attention at the time - reflects in a piece "A Journalist Beaten - One Year Later" on agence global on what occurred and for the first time writes, in detail, about what happened:

"June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London -- an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses."

Iran's Second Sex

"From Day 1, Iran’s women stood in the vanguard. Their voices from rooftops were loudest, and their defiance in the streets boldest. “Stand, don’t run,” Nazanine told me as the baton-wielding police charged up handsome Vali Asr avenue on the day after the fraudulent election. She stood.

Images assail me: a slender woman clutching her stomach outside Tehran University after the blow; a tall woman gesticulating to the men behind her to advance on the shiny-shirted Basij militia; women shedding tears of distilled indignation; and that young woman who screamed, “We are all so angry. Will they kill us all?”

How can a revolution kill its children? The post-1979 generation has risen, not alone, but in the lead. Perhaps Iran cannot be an exception to the rule that revolutions devour themselves."

Roger Cohen, writing, in The NY Times, continues his excellent reportage and reflections on events in Iran.

Iran: Art in aid of protest

Once again via Global Voices Online can the outside world gain some insight into what is happening in Iran.

The latest postings by bloggers shows how art is being harnessed as part of the pattern of protest. A "smart" and seemingly peaceful way of making a widespread impact.

"Bloggers and citizen artists online have been creating designs and cartoons to add a touch of art to the insistent Iranian protest movement that has risen in response the June 12 presidential election results.

As the protests in favor of an annulment continue, so does the repression by government against demonstrating citizens. Meanwhile, the world has been learning about both the slogans and the victims of the protests thanks to citizen media."

Go here to see the posters and slogans. Eye-opening!

Iraq's coming peace? - post the Americans leaving the cities

The Americans are moving out of Iraqi towns by the end of next week - but will still retain some 130,000 troops on US bases.

Any hope that peace would descend on Iraqi cities has evaporated. FP has the latest tally of where things stand with the latest violence:

"On the eve of the pullout from cities, everything appears calm. Except in Mosul, which is a special case. As is Basra. And Kirkuk. And now east Baghdad.

A friend passes along this day report from the Iraqi capital:

1. Three mortar rounds landed in Abu Nawas Street close to the 14th of July bridge, the mortars landed on the residential area known as the solar energy apartments wounded three civilians and caused material damages to parked cars.

2. An IED exploded in Al Hurria Square in Karradah resulted the injury of three civilians

3. An IED exploded in Al Baladiyat area of E Baghdad targeting on foot patrol of Iraqi Army, Iraqi Army officer was killed and two civilians were injured

4. IED exploded in Orfali sector of Sadr city…

Camp Life

Few people experience true camp life, a la a refugee one, in a place like Bethlehem.

Daz Chandler did - and reports on her experiences in a vivid and detailed piece on newmatilda.com:

"Living under these unique and difficult circumstances forges a sense of community unlike anything I'd previously experienced. On a practical level, the residents have made their camp as self-sufficient as possible. Aida has its own corner shops, fruit and vegetable vendors, mosque, youth centres and UNRWA school — many residents never leave the camp environment. And yes, living in such a tight-knit community certainly has its ups and downs. Several individuals complained regularly about the lack of privacy, that nothing ever goes unnoticed. In addition to being surrounded by the occupying forces, the homes are literally on top of each other and the walls are paper-thin. Everyone inside the camp knows everyone and has done for three generations. And, of course, like any small suburb — not everyone…

Iran: Women to the Barricades

truthout.org has a most interesting piece on the "involvement" of women in Iran's present demonstrations and the underlying reasons for it:

"For years, women's defiance in Iran came in carefully planned flashes of hair under their head scarves, brightly painted fingernails and trendy clothing that could be glimpsed under bulky coats and cloaks.

But these small acts of rebellion against the theocratic government have been quickly eclipsed in the wake of the disputed June 12 presidential elections. In their place came images of Iranian women marching alongside men, of their scuffles with burly militiamen, of the sobering footage of a young woman named Neda, blood pouring from her mouth and nose minutes after her fatal shooting.

In a part of the Muslim world where women are often repressed, these images have catapulted Iran's female demonstrators to the forefront of the country's opposition movement. It is a role, say Iranian women and experts, that few seem w…

UN's Nowhere Man

In these strife-torn times one might have hoped that the UN could be a forum or vehicle for resolving conflict or at least bringing about their cessation. Of course, power-politics intrude between members of the UN Security Council as well as the General Assembly.

The Secretary-General has a pivotal role in all of this.......and if he is ineffective then an already weakened and factured organisation is "crippled " more than ever.

FP raises the question of how effective the present incumbent of Secretary-General is in "Nowhere Man":

"For such a seemingly crucial position, the secretary-generalship of the United Nations has historically had a rather low bar for success. Kurt Waldheim? In his memoir, A Dangerous Place, Daniel Patrick Moynihan recounted that Waldheim functioned as "a post office, a somewhat antique but reasonably efficient public service run along Austro-Hungarian lines. As one sat down with him, he would be mentally sorting the mail while mak…

Perhaps you had better look over your shoulder

The ongoing tussle between freedom of speech and the nature and extent of surveillance continues unabated. There can be no doubting that intrusions are being made - and in the most insidious ways.

Amy Goodman, writing on truthdig.com in "Free Speech vs. Surveillance in the Digital Age" tackles the subject:

"Tools of mass communication that were once the province of governments and corporations now fit in your pocket. Cell phones can capture video and send it wirelessly to the Internet. People can send eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, with a few keystrokes, to thousands or even millions via social networking sites. As these technologies have developed, so too has the ability to monitor, filter, censor and block them.

A Wall Street Journal report this week claimed that the “Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowin…

Fight for The Amazon. An Inspiration For All of Us

Johann Hari, in an op-ed piece in The Independent, challenges the world to take inspiration from the locals in Peru who took on something much bigger themselves to save the Amazon:

"While the world nervously watches the uprising in Iran, an even more important uprising has been passing unnoticed – yet its outcome will shape your fate, and mine.

In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the poorest people in the world have taken on the richest people in the world to defend a part of the ecosystem none of us can live without. They had nothing but wooden spears and moral force to defeat the oil companies – and, for today, they have won.

Here's the story of how it happened – and how we all need to pick up this fight. Earlier this year, Peru's right-wing President, Alan Garcia, sold the rights to explore, log and drill 70 per cent of his country's swathe of the Amazon to a slew of international oil companies. Garcia seems to see rainforest as a waste of good resources, saying o…

Lawsuit brings murky West Bank land deals to light

It is all rather simple.....

The Israelis have been caught out in something of their own making. Deceit is the operative word!

Yahoo News reports in "Lawsuit brings murky West Bank land deals to light" from AP:

"It reads like a standard real estate contract between a Zionist institution and an Israeli couple. But it offers a rare glimpse into the bureaucratic smoke screen that helps ensure a strong Jewish presence on lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.

The document, which surfaced in a case before Israel's Supreme Court, shows that the World Zionist Organization, acting as an agent of the Israeli government, took private Palestinian land in the West Bank and gave it to Jewish settlers, even though the state itself had declared the property off-limits to settlement.

The affair points to a chaotic mix of a government at odds with itself and involved in murky real estate deals fronted by one of the Zionist movement's most respected organizations.
It&…

The tragedy of the dying girl....and the Web

The footage of the young woman dying on the street in Tehran [see the post on MPS last Sunday, 21 June] "captured" the world's attention.

The NY Times reports in "Web Pries Lid of Censorship by Iranian Government" how through the internet, whatever the Iranians might have attempted to censor simply couldn't be:

"Shortly after Neda Agha-Soltan bled her life out on the Tehran pavement, the man whose 40-second video of her death has ricocheted around the world made a somber calculation in what has become the cat-and-mouse game of evading Iran’s censors. He knew that the government had been blocking Web sites like YouTube and Facebook. Trying to send the video there could have exposed him and his family.

Instead, he e-mailed the two-megabyte video to a nearby friend, who quickly forwarded it to the Voice of America, the newspaper The Guardian in London and five online friends in Europe, with a message that read, “Please let the world know.” It was one of thos…

Hitler: Checking out the Wagner "connection"

As any music-lover knows Hitler was #1 fan of Richard Wagner's music and a regular attendee at Bayreuth Opera House. That has led, in turn, to many shunning the music of the composer, and in the case of Israel, his music not being played there at all - or is so, with much anger.

The Wagner "connection" to Hitler has always been a matter of fascination - and something the family has been keen to keep away from public gaze. No more it seems.

The Observer reports in "Wagner's heir vows to lay bare her family's Nazi history":

"The great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer, has vowed to investigate her family's links with the Nazis in a move that could be bitterly opposed by other members of the dynasty.

Katharina Wagner, 31, an opera stage director, feels she has a duty to do what previous generations have avoided. "When I was growing up, I was repeatedly confronted with this topic," she said. "Wa…

Journalism in its finest tradition

Journalists are often scorned - and probably, in many instances, rightly so.

Two journalists have shown what good journalism - and analysis of events - can be, in reporting from Iran, obviously under very difficult and dangerous circumstances.

First Roger Cohen, in The NY Times in "Life and Death in Tehran":

"Tehran, cradled in its mountainous amphitheater, is holding its breath. Sunday was quiet, Monday a little less so. Still, as night falls, the defiant cries of “Death to the dictator” and “Allah-u-Akbar” (“God is great”) reverberate between high rises.

In this pregnant lull, I keep hearing three questions: Will Mir Hussein Moussavi lead? How powerful are the internal divisions of the revolutionary establishment? And what is the ultimate goal of the uprising?

On the answers will hinge the outcome of this latest fervid expression of Iran’s centennial quest for pluralistic freedom.

After the shootings Saturday evening that took several lives, Moussavi seemed absent. The besp…

Oh, is that what happened to the votes?

Credit to Lee Judge of The Kansas City Star

Iran, Bush, Obama and legal matters

Given all the campaigning rhetoric and talk by Obama and his camp during the election campaign last year, one would have concluded that Obama, if elected, would not follow the Bush Administration's legal gyrations and positions on a variety of critical topics.

Now in the White House, all too sadly Obama is following in the footsteps of Bush, as McClatchy reports in "In stark legal turnaround, Obama now resembles Bush";

"President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush, as administration attorneys repeatedly adopt the executive-authority and national-security rationales that their Republican predecessors preferred.

In courtroom battles and freedom-of-information fights from Washington, D.C., to California, Obama's legal arguments repeatedly mirror Bush's: White House turf is to be protected, secrets must be retained and dire warnings are wielded as weapons.

"It's putting up a veritable wall around the White House, and it's so at odds with Obama…

Global Land Grab

Sobering, and alarming, are the words which comes to mind when reading this piece "Global Land Grab" from FPIF [Foreign Policy in Focus]:

"Close to a billion people in the world are hungry, and there is growing poverty, unemployment, and displacement in the rural sector. The world community is in widespread agreement about the urgency of more investment in agriculture. The food crisis, partly characterized by unstable markets and low reserves, has led governments to seek measures to meet their food security needs more directly than through global trade. Even though this year's harvest was good and there was some replenishment of global stocks, there's no certainty of what markets will look like next year.

Governments and corporations looking to outsource food and energy more directly themselves are promoting a new wave of land acquisitions, also known as "land grabs." Persian Gulf states are working out land deals in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Ind…

Some record.....1,000,000 words

Simon Winchester - superb author of many best-selling books including one detailing how the Oxford English Dictionary originated - has written a compelling piece in The Telegraph [in the UK] to commemorate the 1,000,000th word entering the English lexicon the other day:

"I've never been without an OED since. I have three complete sets, including one, bound in dark blue leather and titled in gold, that OUP gave me for writing about the history of what someone called "the greatest piece of sensational serial literature ever written".I open it up every day. Each morning I take a randomly selected volume to what the Arabs call "the cave of making" and ponder it for more blissful minutes than I imagine most proctologists would think prudent. But the things I discover, the ammunition I have for the hours of writing ahead!For there seems to be a word for every concept, imaginable and many unimaginable. My favourite for years was "mallemaroking", which an…

Netanyahu's "brilliant" peace plan!

The Har Homa settlement in the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu defied calls for a halt to settlement expansion in his speech last week

When one views the photo above it is hard to envisage the Israelis withdrawing from this so-called settlement and many others like it. This isn't an outpost of a handful of
tents and caravans with a few dozen people occupying them.

Writing in The Electronic Intifada in "Netanyahu's "brilliant" peace plan", Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah, say:

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a peace plan so ingenious it is a wonder that for six decades of bloodshed no one thought of it. Some people might have missed the true brilliance of his ideas presented in a speech at Bar Ilan University on 14 June, so we are pleased to offer this analysis."

And:

"It would be nice if we could really dismiss Netanyahu's speech as a joke. But it is an important indicator of a hard reality. Contrary to some naive and opt…

Iran Update

Troubling times in Iran - as seen above and as vividly, and movingly, detailed by Roger Cohen in The NY Times and Robert Fisk in The Independent.

Obviously these two brave men are prepared to take the risk of reporting from Tehran despite the regime have banned reporting by the media or kicking foreign journalists out of the country.

Massacres? What Massacres?

It is difficult to understand why so much attention is paid to the Sun King, Rupert Murdoch, and his opinion - apart from the fact that he is wealthy and married a much younger Asian woman some years back. Breathtakingly, she informed the world that ol' Rupe didn't need Viagra!!!

What seems to be forgotten, or conveniently overlooked, is that the Murdoch empire contains the likes of Fox News, the Sun in the UK, The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the New York Post, etc etc. - hardly bastions of sound or worthwhile journalism or reporting, let alone analysis.

That the Murdoch press has its own agenda is more than established. Of some 180 + newspapers in the Murdoch stable, only one [and that was because the editor was away] came out in favour of the Iraq War.

Middle East Reality Check makes an interesting and critical point about the way the Murdoch press writes and reports:

"Headline for John Lyons' report from Tehran in yesterday's The Australian: Students mass…

64 for Suu

Last Friday was the 64th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi - who has been imprisoned by the Burmese dictator-generals for upwards of 14 years......


So, what is 64 for Suu?

"It is a global hub on the web for supporting, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's detained democracy leader, on her 64th birthday.

64 for Suu is a site where anyone from around the world can leave a message of support for Burma's imprisoned democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and all of Burma's political prisoners. We want to gather thousands of messages by Aung San Suu Kyi's 64th Birthday, June 19th 2009."

Go to the site, here, to see the messages of support - from Paul McCartney, Mary Robertson, Bono and many, many others - and add your own if you wish.

Twitter and YouTube have also been harnessed in seeking the release of Suu Kyi. The SMH reports in "Campaign swells online as Suu Kyi spends birthday in jail"

"The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 64th birthday in prison…

They Blog, I Blog, We All Blog

Blogging could not be more topical given what has been happening in Iran - and bloggers and other mediums, a la Twitter and YouTube, being just about the only source of information of what is happening in the country post the recent election.

It is therefore timely that the Nieman Report - put out by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard - has an article "They Blog, I Blog, We all Blog" about blogging, its scope and impact and a recently released book, The Blogging Revolution:

"An Australian blogger interviews dissident bloggers worldwide, and in his book he explains why what they do matters and who is trying to stop them."

Some interesting stats from the article:

"When I started my News Dissector blog (www.newsdissector.com/blog/) 10 years ago, blogging was an emerging media form. No longer, and here are U.S. stats that offer a glimpse at the profound changes that have taken place (with more added every day):

Now more than 12 million American adults main…

Iran: Who's who....

As events in Iran take interesting turns and the West tries to figure out what is actually going on - made difficult because Western journalists are effectively barred from reporting there, assuming they can even get into the country - trying to figure out who the main "actors" are in the unfolding "story" is not without its difficulties.

Who's who, and how they line up, has been laid out by Gabriel Winant writing in Salon:

"Strange methods are required to figure out who's up and who's down in hermetically sealed foreign regimes. During the Cold War, Kremlinologists would guess at the state of Soviet politics by puzzling over the parade order of Communist Party officials or the arrangement of portraits on the wall.

Iran, however, is only partially closed off: It was, after all, a nationwide presidential election that triggered the current crisis, which itself involves millions of people out in the streets -- clearly a mass popular event. Trying to u…

Let's pass on Tony Blair...and just prosecute

Ex Brit PM Tony Blair was for many always a chameleon. More a show pony [Tony?] than a man of substance.

That he is now "involved" in the so-called Middle East peace protest is nothing short of a joke. The man hasn't even been to Gaza. That aside, The Guardian reveals in "Tony Blair knew of secret policy on terror interrogations" that he is also now probably to be seen as a war criminal, having sanctioned terror interrogations:

"Tony Blair was aware of the existence of a secret interrogation policy which ­effectively led to British citizens, and others, being tortured during counter-terrorism investigations, the Guardian can reveal.

The policy, devised in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, offered guidance to MI5 and MI6 officers questioning detainees in Afghanistan who they knew were being mistreated by the US military.

British intelligence officers were given written instructions that they could not "be seen to condone" torture and th…

Who says you have to have something to say?

Tom Dispatch in fine form recording our politicians, with little to tell, are cashing in on book deals:

"Here's a tip for tough times. If anywhere in your genealogy you can find the name Bush or Obama, or anything close to either, no matter how distant the ancestor, start writing and, while you're at it, contact the nearest "literary" agent! A contract could be in the offing. As everyone knows, President Obama has written two wildly successful books, which have made millions, and since his run for president began, whole bookstore shelves have filled with what can only be called Obamiana, including Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs, Barack Obama: 44th President Collectors Vault, Barack Obama for Beginners, Michelle Obama: First Lady of Hope, The Faith of Barack Obama, Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama, as well as a pile of Obama books for kids, and that barely scratches the surface.

Now comes the news that the …

The Green Dam Phenomenon....in China and elsewhere

Ms. MacKinnon is a founding member of that wonderful and unique Global Network Initiative, an Open Society fellow and assistant professor of journalism at the University of Hong Kong.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Asian, she addresses the Green Dam internet filtering system China is introducing, but more importantly, how the attempt to restrict unfiltered access to the www is spreading to other countries - and not only so-called totalitarian regimes. Think Australia, Britain and Germany as 3 examples. This is clearly a phenomenon to watch and resist.

"The Chinese government may be backing down from its plan to install new "filtering" software, Green Dam, on all Chinese computers. But it would be naïve to think that scrapping the Green Dam mandate means the end of headaches for computer- and device-makers world-wide. More and more governments -- including democracies like Britain, Australia and Germany -- are trying to control public behavior online, especi…

Spot on!!!

Challenging the words and deeds of Obama

Almost without fail the media, and commentators generally, have praised Obama for his rhetoric - and no less than for his so-called Cairo speech earlier this month.

In what some might describe as a less than charitable assessment of what Obama has been saying, but then actually "doing" John R. MacArthur, a monthly contributor, and publisher of Harper’s Magazine, writing in The Providence Journal "Obama a Very Smooth Liar" says:

"It isn't quite fair to call Barack Obama a liar. During the campaign he carefully avoided committing to much of anything important that he might have to take back later. For now, I won’t quibble with The St. Petersburg Times’s Obamameter, which so far has the president keeping 30 promises and breaking only six.

And yet, broadly speaking, Obama has been lying on a pretty impressive scale. You just have to get past his grandiloquent rhetoric — usually empty of substance — to get a handle on it."

MacArthur goes on to provide what he …

Iran: Keeping abreast of what's happening in real time......

The wonders of technology - and despite their efforts to do otherwise, the inability of the Iranian authorities to shut down the internet, Twitter, YouTube, etc. - news is still getting out of the country now seemingly wracked with huge protests against the result of last Friday's so-called election.

ABC News [Australia] affords the means via its web site "Tweeting from Tehran: social media and the Iranian election" for getting information about what is happening, virtually in real time:

"In the aftermath of Iran's presidential election, the world has seen how activists have organised protests and spread their message on a global scale using social media.

This special presentation from ABC News Online collates some of the citizen journalism coming out of Iran since Friday's poll.

Official figures show incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with over 60 per cent of the vote, but supporters of his main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, claim to have evidence the…

It couldn't be said more bluntly or directly

"It is very distressing to me. I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been raked against your people.

"I come to the American school which was educating your children, supported by my own country. I see it's been deliberately destroyed by bombs from F16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis. I feel partially responsible for this -- as must all Americans and all Israelis," Carter said at a news conference.

"The only way to avoid this tragedy happening again is to have genuine peace."

And:

"Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings."

"The responsibility for this terrible human rights crime lies in Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington, and throughout the international community".

It couldn't be said more bluntly or directly - by none other than former President Jimmy Carter, as reported by CNN, fo…

Less than subtle racism

No comment called for. CommonDreams says it succinctly and beautifully:

"This so-called "Historical Keepsake Photo" of the U.S. Presidents, with Obama as a pair of white eyes on a black background, was sent out by Sherri Goforth, an aide to Republican State Senator Diane Black – on the taxpayers' dime yet. Confronted about it, the clueless Goforth explained she "went on the wrong email... and hit the wrong button." Oh, right, the racist idiocy button. Good one, Goforth."


Google meets it match?

The mind boggles.....but Google has "competition". Announcing the arrival of Koogle!!!

The Guardian explains:

"A new "kosher" search engine called Koogle has been launched for orthodox Jews living in Israel, allowing them to surf the net without compromising the religious standards set by their rabbis.

Koogle, which is a pun on search engine behemoth Google and a popular Jewish noodle dish, will filter out forbidden material, such as sexually explicit images or pictures of women deemed to be immodestly dressed, and restrict purchases of taboo items including television sets, which are banned in orthodox households.

Rabbis encouraged the development of Koogle to meet the needs of the country's religious communities and to discourage them from using internet cafes.

Amos Azizoff, who helped to set up Koogle, claimed the business directory alone, which lists everything from restaurants to bridal wear, was already enjoying 100,000 hits a month. He said Koogle wa…

Chomsky speaks.....in hallowed halls

It is perhaps fitting that the person regarded as the world's #1 intellectual, Noam Chomsky, spoke the other day at the Riverside Church in New York - the same venue and pulpit occupied by such luminaries as Martin Luther King, the Dalai Llama, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

His talk was entitled "Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours". Chomsky examined U.S. political policies over the past few decades and encouraged the audience to challenge neoliberalism, military intervention and capitalism.

The Indypendent, of New York, reports:

"The crowd rose as Chomsky walked to the podium. The 80-year-old MIT professor explained the title of the lecture by contrasting the so-called crises of the first world countries with more pressing humanitarian concerns amongst impoverished peoples.

“Bailing out banks is not utmost in the minds of the people now facing starvation, not forgetting the tens of millions enduring hunger in the richest country in the world,” he said."

Continue …

Iran: Events unfolding apace

Events are moving so quickly in Iran that it is hard to keep up.

One reason that it is so difficult to gain a handle on what is happening is that reporters in Iran are very restricted in what they can report - or, perhaps more importantly, feels safe to do so.

Despite the regime's best efforts to restrict what is getting out of the country - be it via the internet, YouTube, twitter, sms, etc. - bloggers have been able to circumvent the limitations.

Global Voices is a wonderful source for what is happening on the ground:

"Hundreds of thousands of Iranians in Tehran and several other cities have rallied to support presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi defying a government ban on demonstrations. Although Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are currently blocked in Iran, many Iranians have been using proxies to bypass filters and report up-to-the-minute news. Iranian authorities have also blocked SMS text messages, and are also filtering several news websites reflecting reformist opin…

Bibi Reclyced

One op-ed writer in Haaretz described the Israeli PM's address on Sunday night as "a patriarchal, colonialist address in the best neoconservative tradition." Others have said it represents some sort of breakthrough. What breakthrough is not entirely clear other than that the PM uttered words reflecting two States some time in the very distant future - an Israeli and Palestinian one.

But wait! The PM expressly said, in effect, that the Palestinians would not have sovereignty over their land. And that is what he said 6 years ago in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, here:

"The guiding principle is this: The Palestinians would be given all the powers needed to govern themselves but none of the powers that could threaten Israel. Put simply, the solution is full self-government for the Palestinians with vital security powers retained by Israel.

For example, the Palestinians would have internal security and police forces but not an army. They would be able…

Iran: Demonstrating.....in graphic detail

Events in Iran are taking more than an "interesting" turn. Even the Supreme leader has asked for an investigation into the recent election which has seen the President returned in questionable circumstances.

The people have taken to the streets. We can read and hear about the people demonstrating, but the photograph above graphically shows the extent of what looks like people power.

As CommonDreams reports:

"It is remarkable to watch the events unfolding in Iran, where the latest reports say militia gunmen have opened fire on protesters numbering up to two million and Iran's Guardian Council is said to be investigating the Mousavi claims of election fraud. Above all, photos of the massive crowds in the streets make real in a moving way the meaning of that over-used phrase, "the will of the people."

You Can't Hide When You Seek

The Australian and New Zealand media company, Fairfax, has just stitched up a deal with Google. So what? one might ask. Doesn't everyone Google?

Yes they do, but most likely without regard to, let alone, knowledge what "using" Google actually means in terms of privacy and the assimilation of information about the user.

The Age newspaper [ironically, part of the Fairfax Group] puts it in context:

"The mission of Google's founders, Larry Page and SergeyBrin, is to organise and make accessible all of the world's information — to revolutionise the nature of knowledge.

They are well on the way to mission accomplished. Google web crawlers constantly index and store the content of the internet. Email, blogs, web pages, news, maps, video clips and photos all add to the sum of knowledge available to its users. Last year it catalogued its one trillionth web page.

Its family of search sites includes Google News, Google Book Search, Google Maps, Google Earth, Googl…

Compare and Contrast

The stats are not only compelling but speak for themselves - that is, what effectively 2 years of cutting off Gaza has resulted in.

An Israeli Peace group, Gisha, has assembled the figures.

"Two Years of Gaza Closure by the Numbers

June 2007- June 2009 à Crossings Closed; Supplies Restricted

Þ Percentage of goods permitted to enter Gaza, relative to demand: 25% (approximately 2,500 truckloads/month instead of 10,400/month prior to June 2007).

Þ Supplies of industrial diesel permitted to enter Gaza, relative to need: 63% (2.2 million liters/week rather than the 3.5 million liters/week needed to generate electricity).

Þ Average length of power outages in Gaza: five hours per day.

Þ Current number of people without access to running water in Gaza: 28,000."

The above is but a small sample. Read on, here, for the remaining stats.