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Showing posts from 2011

Ya gotta be kidding!

From Foreign Policy in Focus the awards for 2011 worthy of more than a gasp..... The Golden Lemon Award to Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest arms company, whose F-22 Raptor fighter has some “performance” problems: the pilots can’t breathe. The F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Air Force was forced to “stand down” its fleet of 160+ F-22s—at $150 million apiece, the single most expensive fighter in the world—when pilots began experiencing “hypoxia-like symptoms” from a lack of oxygen. But the company got right on it, according to Lockheed Martin vice president Jeff Babione, who said he was “proud to be a part” of the team that got the radar-evading aircraft back into the air—for five weeks. When pilots continued to have problems, the F-22 fleet was grounded again. According to the Air Force, no one can figure out why oxygen is not getting to the pilots, but that pilots “would undergo physiological tests.” To see if the pilots can go without air? Runner-up in this category is Lockheed Martin…

Acting unconscionably and illegally under "cover" of the upcoming US presidential election

Is there any need to be surprised anymore about Israel's actions - especially with the US presidential election in the offing and no one going to upset the Jewish Lobby? The big news that Mondoweiss recently highlighted (here by Allison Deger and here by Annie Robbins) is that construction in the controversial "E1" area in Jerusalem has restarted again, according to a Haaretz report. Completion of illegal settlement infrastructure and homes in the area would bisect the West Bank. But what the move also represents is a big, giant slap in the face to the United States. As Nir Hasson explains in Haaretz , it was "American pressure" from the Bush administration that "forced all work in the area halted in 2007." And according to this document from the "Palestine Papers," President Barack Obama "said he got Israel to commit to stop construction in E1" early on in his term. The US knows that no Palestinian official could accept an agree…

So, what is it about the Straits of Hormuz?

Whilst there is an ever seemingly louder slanging-match being engaged in between Iran and the US and it's allies about the Straits of Hormuz, what is so important about those Straits? The Global Post brings us up to speed. "These days, the Strait of Hormuz is like a a child of divorce caught between two angry parents. Not exactly a fun position to be in. But what exactly is the Strait of Hormuz, and why are the United States and Iran engaging in a back-and-forth war of words over it? Here are five key facts about it. 5. It is a narrow strait located between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Iran borders the Strait of Hormuz to the north, and the United Arab Emirates and Oman's Musandam Peninsula border it to the south. See the map in the slideshow above. 4. Much of the Persian Gulf relies on the Strait of Hormuz to export its petroleum and reach the ocean, making it one of the world's most important oil supply routes. 3. About 15 million barrels of crude oi…

America's tweedledum-tweedledee presidential election (aka circus?)

Glenn Greenwald, this time writing in The Guardian,not on his usual "home" at Salon, accurately puts the present race for president of the US into sharp and critical focus. Bottom line Obama is really not all that much different to the pathetic wanna-be aspirants as GOP candidate in next years election. "American presidential elections are increasingly indistinguishable from the reality TV competitions drowning the nation's airwaves. Both are vapid, personality-driven and painfully protracted affairs, with the winners crowned by virtue of their ability to appear slightly more tolerable than the cast of annoying rejects whom the public eliminates one by one. When, earlier this year, America's tawdriest (and one of its most-watched) reality TV show hosts, Donald Trump, inserted himself into the campaign circus as a threatened contestant, he fitted right in, immediately catapulting to the top of audience polls before announcing he would not join the show. The R…

Of all people, the Saudis now own Twitter

It will come as more than a surprise - shock! more likely! - to learn that off all people a member of the Saudi Royal family now owns Twitter. A dangerous omen? FPreports: "When most people want to become involved in Twitter, they open an account. Leave it to Prince AlWaleed bin Talal, the Saudi media mogul who is King Abdullah's nephew, to buy a chunk of the microblogging site. The prince's company announced on Dec. 19 that it was investing $300 million in Twitter, officially bringing the site into the mainstream of the Saudi media scene. Rightly or wrongly, social media is perceived as a revolutionary tool in Saudi Arabia -- one of the many factors that contributed to the Arab Spring. The association was so strong that a few days following the Egyptian uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak, a Saudi official had to deny a rumor that the Saudi king had offered Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg $150 billion to buy his social networking site -- a bargain, the thinking…

Bradley Manning: So much for open American justice

The Nation reports on the Bradley Manning trial - and how restrictions are being placed on reporters. So much for the sort of "open" justice the USA preaches to other countries they must have. "The details of Bradley Manning’s prosecution aren’t making their way into the public domain in large part because there is no full transcript being made public. During a recess from the hearing, I questioned a public affairs officer, who refused to provide his name, about when a transcript would be made available. He said that it would likely be three to four months—long after the media interest had faded. The government has banned all recording devices, audio or video, from the media center or the courtroom. This is particularly galling because the government has ample ability to record the proceedings in full and make them publicly available; in fact, the trial is being recorded and livecast to the media center, where reporters under the strict supervision of public affair…

Looks like Iran is the next target for attack

As we approach another year, it looks like we won't be seeing things settle down in the Middle East. Just to the contrary! Haaretz reports that the US and Israel are considering the "line" which Iran will need to cross before the country is attacked. "Israel and the U.S. are discussing "red lines" in Iran's nuclear program, that if crossed would justify a preemptive strike on its nuclear facilities, the Daily Beast website reported on Wednesday. According to the report, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, filed an official complaint with the administration following a speech by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta a few weeks ago, warning against a military strike on Iran."

Permits, permits......and yet more permits

And this isn't deemed discrimination? "Israel's Civil Administration issues 101 different types of permits to govern the movement of Palestinians, whether within the West Bank, between the West Bank and Israel or beyond the borders of the state, according to an agency document of which Haaretz obtained a copy. The most common permits are those allowing Palestinians to work in Israel, or in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Over the decades, however, the permit regimen has grown into a triple-digit bureacracy. There are separate permits for worshipers who attend Friday prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and for clerics working at the site; for unspecified clergy and for church employees. Medical permits differentiate between physicians and ambulance drivers, and between "medical emergency staff" and "medical staff in the seam zone," meaning the border between Israel and the West Bank. There is a permit for escorting a patient in an ambulanc…

On the road....

Mahler's Prodigal Son is on the road for the next little while..... Posts might not be that regular nor the setting out as "orderly" as desired. Bear with us. Meanwhile, for those who celebrate Xmas, Merry Christmas....and a happy, healthy year for everyone. May your 2012 be a good one.

Who said George Orwell's 1984 wasn't still alive and well?

George Orwell's 1984 is still alive and well in Australia in 2011 - as this piece from The Sunday Age clearly demonstrates. One might have thought, and hoped, that in this post WikiLeaks era Governments might have learnt. No such luck it seems. 'NO COMMENT,'' said the Australian Information Commissioner. Never accuse the government of lacking a sense of humour. It was brilliant! Here was its new agency, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. An official-looking website claimed this supposed ''OAIC'' was part of the Attorney-General's Department. Committed to ''open public sector information'' it was, according to the mission statement. On and on it went about the integrity and importance of free, public, and open information in government. ''We will champion open government, provide advice and assistance to the public, promote better information management by government … we will have a comprehensi…

Oh yeah......

Credited to Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

Bradley Manning and what his trial means for all of us

Anyone remotely concerned about freedom of the press and what the media can, and cannot, publish, ought to be concerned about the issues thrown up by the Bradley Manning charges and the hearing the other day. And that is not to overlook the very fundamental issue of what governments don't tell their citizenry - and, no less critically, are often simply lying. Kevin Gosztola, who writes "The Dissenter" blog at Firedoglake, speaking on Democracy Now, makes a somewhat chilling point: "And then, I would say that the final thing that really struck me about this hearing is how they presented the evidence—the government—and actually linked Bradley Manning to aiding al-Qaeda. I mean, that essentially is criminalizing national security journalism, if you really work this thing out, because what they’re saying is anybody who puts this information on the internet—if you do a report on a drone strike, if you do a report on anything related to military operations, and then …

Who are the heroes here?

The interminable Palestinian - Israel sees a heavy militarised nation, Israel, over-bearing an almost helpless Palestinian people.     Amira Haas, writing in Haaretz, puts matters into sharp focus in her piece "Palestinians are heroes, braving Israeli dictatorship".
"The Palestinians are heroes, and that's the only fact that's relevant after the slight shock of the hilltop thugs. The hands are the hands of thugs, and the head? The head is the head of the hostile regime under which the Palestinians live and which harasses them every moment of every day, week after week for decades. To live this way and remain sane - that's heroism. "And who says we're sane?" Palestinians answer me. Well, here's the proof: self-irony.

The thugs of the hills are only the icing on the cake. Most of the work is being done by thugs wearing kid gloves. Unlike the people who threw the stone at the deputy brigade commander, these are fan favorites in Israel. The fle…

The perils of being a journalist

We may watch with rapt attention to reporters on the TV news and read dispatches from correspondents as they report on conflicts around the globe, but that is not without its toll for those journalists.    The Committee to Protect Journalists reports on a grim year for those in the news-gathering business.
"At least 43 journalists were killed around the world in direct relation to their work in 2011, with the seven deaths in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities. The global tally is consistent with the toll recorded in 2010, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work. CPJ is investigating another 35 deaths in 2011 to determine whether they were work-related.

CPJ’s survey identified significant changes in the nature of journalist fatalities. Sixteen journalists died while on dangerous assignments, many of them while co…

No loss!.....but what do we get instead?

Credited to Daryl Cagle

The Dragon's imprint in South America

Another dimension to China's financial and commercial prowess.   Not only are Chinese interests "expanding" into Africa and many South Pacific nations, but it has gained more than a significant toehold in South America - as this AlJazeera piece "The dragon goes shopping in South America" details.
"The small restaurants and shops selling plastic sandals, tacky umbrellas, kitchen wares and paper lanterns in Buenos Aires' Chinatown do not give the impression of impending economic dominance.

Away from this small urban area, however, China has been not-so-quietly buying up agricultural products, companies and minerals around South America.

Some analysts consider this aggressive drive for resources as a new form of imperialism, in which a big power wrangles raw materials from weaker states. Others believe China's push gives South Americans an alternative to the US, which critics say has attempted to control Latin economies through debt and support for dic…

USA out of step on Palestine-Israel issue

It was pretty predictable that America would increasingly be out of step in relation to settling the interminable Palestinian-Israel conflict.    With the presidential elections looming take it as a given that the US won't be doing or saying anything which might, even remotely, upset the all-powerful Israel lobby in America.

This piece, "America's Growing Isolation" on Information Clearing House, notes a recent UN resolution which has gained little media attention.

"A longer headline would have added the words because of President Obama’s grovelling for Jewish campaign funding and votes.

On 19 December, in the Jewish Daily Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis wrote this:

“Top-level Jewish fundraisers from President Obama’s 2008 campaign are sticking with the president in 2012.

“Despite reports that President Obama faces a loss of Jewish funders due to his Middle East policy, analysis of a list of elite bundlers from his 2008 race shows no defections among the president’s top…

Airport security? Smoke screening?

At a time of the year when many people are flying this piece in Vanity Fair might not provide much comfort or re-assurance.  

"Ten years ago, 19 men armed with utility knives hijacked four airplanes and within a few hours killed nearly 3,000 people. At a stroke, Americans were thrust into a menacing new world. “They are coming after us,” C.I.A. director George Tenet said of al-Qaeda. “They intend to strike this homeland again, and we better get about the business of putting the right structure in place as fast as we can.”

The United States tried to do just that. Federal and state governments embarked on a nationwide safety upgrade. Checkpoints proliferated in airports, train stations, and office buildings. A digital panopticon of radiation scanners, chemical sensors, and closed-circuit television cameras audited the movements of shipping containers, airborne chemicals, and ordinary Americans. None of this was or will be cheap. Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion…

This is a novel idea! Occupy Christmas and Chanukah

A simple message from a rabbi for both Christians and Jews - as they celebrate Christmas and Chanukah respectively.

"Chanukah was the first recorded national liberation struggle against Greek imperialism, and Christmas celebrates the birth of a hoped-for messiah to free the Jewish people from Roman imperialism.

The symbolism of a homeless couple giving birth in a manger surrounded by animals because the more comfortable people have not been able to make room for them inside a roofed home is akin to the symbolism of the candles lit on Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the powerless over the powerful: both offer a powerful reminder that both Judaism born of slaves in Egypt and Christianity born of a movement of the poor and powerless were in their times the “Occupy” movement that confronted the powerful and those who served them.

All the more tragic to witness how both religions have been twisted in our own time to serve the powerful. Major forces in the Christian world have sided…

He's been trumped

Credited to Mike Luckovich

The man behind that Parisian bookshop

Whoever has been to Paris - and loves books - will have been to the now iconic Shakespeare and Company.
The present owner of the shop, George Whitman, died yesterday, aged 98.
Reflections on the man and his bookshop in this piece from the NY Daily News.

The corporations which influence the US Congress

Now why isn't one surprised reading this?   Pity is that most people don't know or realise what is happening.
"Some of the biggest companies in the United States have been firing workers and in some cases lobbying for rules that depress wages at the very time that jobs are needed, pay is low, and the federal budget suffers from a lack of revenue.

Last month Citizens for Tax Justice and an affiliate issued “Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10″. It showed that 30 brand-name companies paid a federal income tax rate of minus 6.7 percent on $160 billion of profit from 2008 through 2010 compared to a going corporate tax rate of 35 percent. All but one of those 30 companies reported lobbying expenses in Washington.

Another report, by Public Campaign, shows that 29 of those companies spent nearly half a billion dollars over those three years lobbying in Washington for laws and rules that favor their interests. Only Atmos Energy, the 30th company, reported no lobby…

A sober reflection on the war in Iraq

Forgotten all the bombast about attacking Baghdad as part of "Shock and Awe?"    Fullajah?   Another travesty in Iraq.   The are endless aspects of the whole Iraqi "adventure - Abu Ghraib to name but one very prominent incident - to conclude the war was a monumental mistake from inception.  There certainly were no winners.

"We can't afford the hawks to use withdrawal as an opportunity to airbrush the blood-drenched history of the invasion and occupation.

In his column today, the Guardian's Gary Younge writes that "withdrawing the troops [from Iraq] is about the only truly popular thing Obama has done in the last two years. Polls show more than 70% support withdrawal, roughly two-thirds oppose the war, and more than half believe it was a mistake".

So it is sad and frustrating to witness Barack Obama, who opposed the Iraq invasion from the beginning, referred to it as a "dumb" war and pledged to end the conflict and "bring the troops ho…

Is Egypt spiralling out of control?

The Guardian reports:

"The woman is young, and slim, and fair. She lies on her back surrounded by four soldiers, two of whom are dragging her by the arms raised above her head. She's unresisting – maybe she's fainted; we can't tell because we can't see her face. She's wearing blue jeans and trainers. But her top half is bare: we can see her torso, her tummy, her blue bra, her bare delicate arms. Surrounding this top half, forming a kind of black halo around it, is the abaya, the robe she was wearing that has been ripped off and that tells us that she was wearing a hijab.
Six years ago, when popular protests started to hit the streets of Egypt as Hosni Mubarak's gang worked at rigging the 2005 parliamentary elections, the regime hit back – not just with the traditional Central Security conscripts – but with an innovation: militias of strong, trained, thugs. They beat up men, but they grabbed women, tore their clothes off and beat them, groping them at the sam…

Europe: A fraught marriage

Just about everywhere one cares to look, and on whatever subject-matter, 2012 is not shaping up to be a good year.    The attempts to bring some sort of harmony into the EU and economic stability to boot, doesn't look too good from an objective observation.
"Europe is like an unhappy marriage in which the partners no longer get on but cannot bear to break up because the property settlement would cripple them. It is true that there is plenty of reason to be alarmed on the money front. If governments default on their debts, if banks fall like dominoes, depression looms. If the euro collapses, it will mean chaos and hardship for nations, households and businesses.
But the urgency over money has induced tunnel vision and distorted the dynamics of power. Greater unity over spending and taxes might be good for the currency but the long-term price of this "cure" might be social and political unrest. Resentful voters in individual nations may feel disenfranchised if they thi…

Occupy! The buzz word around the globe

Time Magazine might have nominated protesters as the people of the year, but occupiers, all around the globe, are, as it were, on the march.  Their presence has never been felt more - in all sorts of ways.    In fact, it's a phenomenon considered by Tom Engelhardt in a piece on TomDispatch - and which he sees as continuing in 2012.

"On the streets of Moscow in the tens of thousands, the protesters chanted: “We exist!”  Taking into account the comments of statesmen, scientists, politicians, military officials, bankers, artists, all the important and attended to figures on this planet, nothing caught the year more strikingly than those two words shouted by massed Russian demonstrators.

“We exist!”  Think of it as a simple statement of fact, an implicit demand to be taken seriously (or else), and undoubtedly an expression of wonder, verging on a question: “We exist?”

And who could blame them for shouting it?  Or for the wonder?  How miraculous it was.  Yet another country long imm…

Not the most cheery image for Xmas

Credited to Brian Fairrington

A very, very belated rehabilitation....of witches

Remember those witches in Germany in a by-gone era?   They have just been rehabilitated.      Read this piece from Spiegel Online Edition:
"Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany's alleged witches have been largely forgotten. But thanks to efforts by a small group of activists, a number of German cities have begun absolving women, men and children who were wrongly accused of causing plagues, storms and bad harvests.
It began with the trial and execution of an eight-year-old girl for witchcraft in the spring of 1630. Compelled to name others involved in an alleged nighttime dance with the devil in the German town of Oberkirchen, young Christine Teipel's confession sparked a wave of fingerpointing and subsequent trials. Within just three months, 58 people, including 22 men and two children, were burned at the stake there.

The Oberkirchen trials represent just a small fraction of those that led to the execution of some 25,000 alleged witc…

A timely reflection: "Why Do They Hate Us?"

An "interesting" piece on Counterpunch "Why Do They Hate Us?" reflects on the actions of Americans around the globe and how that very course of conduct engenders hatred of the USA.

"Someday there will come a reckoning for the US, as there came a reckoning for Rome, for the British Empire, for the German Reich and for the USSR. A hollowed-out country like the this one, which is under-funding education, health care, infrastructure investment, research, and environmental protection, while its governing class steadily disenfranchises, disempowers, and impoverishes the public while systematically taking away their right to protest, is ultimately doomed."


On Iraq:

"First of all, let’s also dispense with the euphemistic term “contractors,” which is meant to bring to mind the image of a couple of overweight construction workers. In Iraq, and especially in lawless areas like Anbar at that time, “contractor” means “mercenary,” and we now know that mercenari…

Even The New York Times calls Obama unprincipled

When even a supporter of the Obama Administration, The New York Times - in its editorial - calls Obama unprincipled in putting politics above principle, you know things are pretty bad in the land of the free and the brave.
"The trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, gave rise to a dangerous myth that, to be safe, America had to give up basic rights and restructure its legal system. The United States was now in a perpetual state of war, the argument went, and the criminal approach to fighting terrorism — and the due process that goes along with it — wasn’t tough enough.

Senate Approves Requiring Military Custody in Terror Cases (November 30, 2011)
President George W. Bush used this insidious formula to claim that his office had the inherent power to detain anyone he chose, for as long as he chose, without a trial; to authorize the torture of prisoners; and to spy on Americans without a warrant. President Obama came into office pledging his dedication to the rule of law and to reversing the Bush-…

Vale Mustafa Tamimi

You may well ask - who is Mustafa Tamimi?  

Let this op-ed piece (published here in full from Haaretz) explain.... 

"Mustafa Tamimi threw stones. Unapologetically and sometimes fearlessly. Not on that day alone, but nearly every Friday. He also concealed his face. Not for fear of the prison cell, which he had already come to know intimately, but in order to preserve his freedom, so he could continue to throw stones and resist the theft of his land. He continued to do this until the moment of his death.

According to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, in response to the reports about the shooting of Tamimi, the spokesman of the GOC Southern Command wondered on his Twitter account: "What was Mustafa thinking running after a moving jeep while throwing stones #fail." Thus, simply and mockingly, the spokesman explained why Tamimi was to blame for his own death.

Mustafa Tamimi, from the village of Nabi Saleh - son to Ikhlas and Abd al-Razak, brother to Saddam and Ziad, to t…

A timely warning

Credited to Don Wright, The Palm Beach Post

Now it's NASA warning us on climate change

The sceptics keep on banging on about this and that relating to climate change - principally, out of pure ignorance, wilful or otherwise, that things aren't really changing at all, or not that much to be concerned about  - but the evidence, from reputable scientists and trusted bodies and organisations, keeps on confirming that a wake-up call on climate change is needed.
Now NASA has joined the ranks of those making predictions - which we ignore at our own peril.
"By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth's land surface.
Predicted percentage of ecological landscape being driven toward biome-level changes in plant species as a result of projected human-induced climate change by 2100. Biomes are major ecological community types. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Climate change will also drive the conversion of nearly 40% of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type - such as forest, grassland or tundra - tow…

Christopher Hitchens

The passing of Christopher Hitchens, at 62, is sad - whatever one thought of him and his views.     He certainly was controversial and fearless in promoting his position on whatever subject he was engaged in.

See here, on The Daily Beast, for a tribute and retrospectives on Hitchens.
For MPS his book "The Trials of Henry Kissinger", an expose of the former US Secretary of State, was first class.     He highlighted what a war criminal Kissinger was and remains to this day.    Interestingly, Kissinger never took Hithchens on - because the book is so well researched and supported by facts Hitchen's footnotes.  
Go here for a review of the book.

Obama stands condemned on outrageous law

Another nail in the coffin of Obama.    The man can only be described as hypocrite #1 and someone who has no compunction in switching positions.     He has now just agreed to sign into law legislation allowing for anyone, in or outside the USA, to be detained, indefinitely, without trial.

Constitutional lawyer and blogger at Salon, Glenn Greenwald explains:

"In one of the least surprising developments imaginable, President Obama – after spending months threatening to veto the Levin/McCain detention bill – yesterday announced that he would instead sign it into law (this is the same individual, of course, who unequivocally vowed when seeking the Democratic nomination to support a filibuster of “any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecom[s],” only to turn around – once he had the nomination secure — and not only vote against such a filibuster, but to vote in favor of the underlying bill itself, so this is perfectly consistent with his past conduct). As a result, the fi…

Worlds apart

Leaving to one side the question how the disparity of incomes will play out in communities around the country - that is, between Main Street on one hand and Wall Street on the other - the figures for the state of the economic well being of the US citizenry is truly alarming.
This is one side of the equation (Main Street):
"Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.
The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sh…

What do Iraqis think with the Americans gone / going?

President Obama, and Michelle, may be going through the "script" of welcoming the troops home from Iraq and making all sort of pronouncements, short of "mission accomplished" in the war-ravaged country, but what do the Iraqis think about it all?
The New York Times has gone out to "test" local reaction.
"As American forces start to pull out of Iraq, we asked Iraqis around the country three questions: Will Iraq be better or worse off after American troops leave? What did the Americans achieve in Iraq? And what have they personally lost or gained since the 2003 invasion? Some answered only one or two questions. Although the respondents varied from area to area and across social and religions divides, some clear patterns emerge.

In Sunni areas of the north and west — from Baghdad to Mosul and out across Anbar – there is abiding fear among Saddam Hussein’s once-ruling minority of the ancient regional foe, Iran, and how vulnerable a post-American Iraq may be…

Job prospects!

Credited to Bill Day

Welcome to America's dismal economy

Brokers, and those with vested interests, might be talking up the US economy in 2012, but even leaving aside events outside the control of America - such as what is happening in Europe's economies - if Joseph Stiglitz, professor of economics, is right, the economic "picture" in the US is pretty dismal.     His piece appears in Vanity Fair.
"It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble, and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who would like to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed long-term. Wages are falling—the real income of a typical American household is now below the level it was in 1997.

We knew the crisis was serious back in 2008. And we thought we knew who the “bad guys”
were—the nation’s big banks, which through cynical lending and reckless gambling had b…

USA: Help or obstacle to Arab Spring?

Despite all the rhetoric coming out of the White House it doesn't appear that the Americans were all that keen on seeing the so-called Arab Spring gain traction.

"As the Arab Spring blossomed and President Obama hesitated about whether to speak out in favor of protesters seeking democratic change in the Greater Middle East, the Pentagon acted decisively.  It forged ever deeper ties with some of the most repressive regimes in the region, building up military bases and brokering weapons sales and transfers to despots from Bahrain to Yemen.

As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there.  During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points of counterinsurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering,…

James (Murdoch) knew of hacking

It wasn't going to take long before James Murdoch - Rupert next? - would be directly implicated in knowing of News of the World being engaged in hacking.
"Rupert Murdoch’s son James received and responded to e-mail messages in 2008 that referred to “a nightmare scenario” of legal repercussions from widespread phone hacking at the tabloid The News of the World, a chain of e-mail messages and replies released Tuesday by a British parliamentary panel shows. It is the first documentation that Mr. Murdoch had been notified of a wider hacking problem long before he has admitted.

In statements released Tuesday, James Murdoch, who runs the News Corporation’s operations in Europe and Asia, admitted he had received and replied to the message on his BlackBerry, but he said he “did not read the full e-mail chain.” He said he stood by his repeated public denials that he knew of widespread hacking at the tabloid at the time he approved a large legal settlement with a victim of the practice …

Thomas Friedman socks it to 'em

MPS has never been a great fan of Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, author, commentator and op-ed writer for The New York Times.   

However, in his latest column "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir" Friedman uncharacteristically, takes a stick to Israel.   His piece is reproduced here, in full, for anyone who is remotely interested in the position of Israel in the Middle East, the Israel Lobby and America's almost subservient attitude to Israel.

"I have a simple motto when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I love both Israelis and Palestinians, but God save me from some of their American friends — those who want to love them to death, literally.

That thought came to mind last week when Newt Gingrich took the Republican competition to grovel for Jewish votes — by outloving Israel — to a new low by suggesting that the Palestinians are an “invented” people and not a real nation entitled to a state.

This was supposed to show that Newt loves Israel…

The Dictators of the West......The Bankers!

Robert Fisk, veteran Middle-East journalist, writing for his newspaper, The Independent, minces no words as to who the dictators of the West are.     The bankers.    And then he reflects on the so-called "Arab Spring" in that context.......
"Writing from the very region that produces more clich├ęs per square foot than any other "story" – the Middle East – I should perhaps pause before I say I have never read so much garbage, so much utter drivel, as I have about the world financial crisis.

But I will not hold my fire. It seems to me that the reporting of the collapse of capitalism has reached a new low which even the Middle East cannot surpass for sheer unadulterated obedience to the very institutions and Harvard "experts" who have helped to bring about the whole criminal disaster.

Let's kick off with the "Arab Spring" – in itself a grotesque verbal distortion of the great Arab/Muslim awakening which is shaking the Middle East – and the tr…