Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2011

Mubarak closes down the internet. Obama will be empowered to

Troubling news, if true - Obama will be given the power to switch off the internet, selectively or otherwise. Welcome Mubarak Mark II?

"As Egypt's government attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the US is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the internet.The legislation, which would grant US President Barack Obama powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a senate committee, Wired.com reported."

Fisk: Death Throes of a Dictator

"In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt's chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter."

So writes Robert Fisk in his latest appraisal of events in Egypt published in The Independent.

That Goldstone Report revisited

Naomi Klein, writing in The Nation, on the Goldstone Report into Israelis savage attack on Gaza in late December 2008 and into January 2009.

"The attempts to block, then sabotage, then bury the Goldstone Report began before a single word had been written. The Israeli government rejected the original decision by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of war crimes during the Gaza attack. The council was hopelessly biased, Israel claimed, and the January 12, 2009, resolution creating the fact-finding mission was, according to Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, “one-sided and irrelevant.” It is true that the original mandate of the mission called only for an investigation of violations committed “by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people.” But when Justice Goldstone took the top job and announced that the mandate had been expanded to include possible crimes committed by Palestinians “whether before, during or after” the attacks, Israel flatly r…

Egypt: American aid backfires....literally

The US has over the years almost blindly supported despots and dictators, not where more than in the Middle East. That aside, by providing military aid to the Egyptians the Americans have lent their support to suppression of the populace - for Mubarak has never been anything other than a dictator and thug.

This news item won't play out well on the streets of Cairo as demonstrations continue there.

"Egyptian riot police are firing tear gas canisters bearing the label "Made in U.S.A" against street demonstrations in Cairo, according to protesters who provided ABC News with pictures of the canisters.

The protestors said the tear gas canisters were recovered in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo on Tuesday.

The label urges anyone who comes in contact with the gas "to seek assistance as soon as possible."

According to the canister labels, the tear gas is produced by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania."

Robert Fisk on Egypt

Robert Fisk, veteran journalist in the Middle East - having lived in Beirut for upwards of 30 years and met a veritable who's-who of the principal players in the region - writing in The Independent reports on the turmoil in Egypt and what it all means.

"It might be the end. It is certainly the beginning of the end. Across Egypt, tens of thousands of Arabs braved tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades and live fire yesterday to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak after more than 30 years of dictatorship.

And as Cairo lay drenched under clouds of tear gas from thousands of canisters fired into dense crowds by riot police, it looked as if his rule was nearing its finish. None of us on the streets of Cairo yesterday even knew where Mubarak – who would later appear on television to dismiss his cabinet – was. And I didn't find anyone who cared.

They were brave, largely peaceful, these tens of thousands, but the shocking behaviour of Mubarak's plainclothes battagi – the word do…

Whilst there is revolution in the Egyptian air.....US sticks to its old tired script

One has to wonder what universe the US occupies when its foreign policy is so often out of sync with the realities on the ground, regularly rooted in supporting despots and dictators and failing to recognise a changing world. Take the current events in Egypt and the US response - as veteran journalist Paul McGeough explains in a piece in The Sydney Morning Herald.

"Events in the Middle East are moving too fast for the Obama administration to think it can get away with Plan A and Plan B reaction strategies according to the regimes or leaders it wants to keep in and out of power.

Consider the response of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to Hezbollah tightening its grip on power in Lebanon this week - Washington might have to pull its funding worth hundreds of millions for Lebanon, her office warned.

But as democracy demonstrators were confronted by thousands of baton-wielding policemen in the streets in Cairo, there was no mention of pulling the $US2 billion-plus cheque …

The IDF again caught out being less than moral

From Channel 4[in the UK]...

"Israeli soldiers tell Channel 4 News they were ordered to "cleanse" Palestinian neighbourhoods, as filmmaker Nurit Kedar says "the atmosphere was that nobody should talk about this war".

Nurit Kedar's film, Concrete, hears from Israeli soldiers who blame their military leaders for encouraging a "disproportionate" response to Hamas's rockets.

They claim their commanders used to "psych up" soldiers before an operation so they were ready to shoot indiscriminately.

This is the first time Israeli soldiers have come forward publicly with claims which counter those of their bosses.

In a report first aired on Channel 4 News on Wednesday, 24-year-old tank commander Ohad remembers being told the night before the operation that the entry into Gaza was to be "disproportionate".

It sounds really terrible to say 'cleanse' but those were the orders.
Israeli tank commander

Once into Gaza, he says his orders …

Putin's Seaside Palace?

France 24 Live looks into... Vlad's Palace?

"With its stunning seaside views, private casino, helipad, giant four-poster beds and marble halls, the newest palace built in the Black Sea resort town of Praskoveevka looks like something straight out of a James Bond movie. But according to a Russian businessman, it is being built for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with dubious funds".

Who said being an ex-KPG guy doesn't pay?

Egypt to follow Tunisia? More dominoes to fall?

Was Tunisia the first of many dominoes to fall in the Middle East? It's still early days in Egypt as unrest grows there.

"Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is headed back to Egypt despite direct threats against his life. On the eve of his return, the former U.N. official who is the Mubarak regime's most high-profile opponent on the young people who’ve taken to the streets, political Islam, and the role of the United States.

When Egypt had parliamentary elections only two months ago, they were completely rigged. The party of President Hosni Mubarak left the opposition with only 3 percent of the seats. Imagine that. And the American government said that it was “dismayed.” Well, frankly, I was dismayed that all it could say is that it was dismayed. The word was hardly adequate to express the way the Egyptian people felt."

Meanwhile, perhaps something of a paradox that America is taking the position it is in relation to events in Tunisia and Egypt......especially when on…

Two States or One?

A powerful, blunt editorial by The Guardian:

"Gerald Kaufman once described Labour's 1983 manifesto as the longest suicide note in history. If ever a set of documents merits this epithet, it is surely the one we publish today. Written by Palestinian officials, obtained by al-Jazeera and shared with the Guardian, the papers are the confidential record of 10 years of efforts to seek a peace agreement with Israel.

It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong. Together they conspire to build a puppet state in Palestine, at best authoritarian, at worst a surrogate for an occupying force. To obtain even this form of bondage, the Palestinians have to flog the family silver. Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator, is reduced at one …

The Memory Chalet

Regular readers of this blog will know that MPS is a great fan of the late Tony Judt.

From The New York Review of Books:

"The title of The Memory Chalet refers to its method of composition. Locked inside a body made inert by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and faced with his shrinking future and approaching death, Tony Judt decided to revisit his past. Physically unable to write, but with a mind as sharp and active as ever, he plotted the twenty-five short essays that compose this book in his head, while he was alone at night, using a mnemonic device taken from accounts of the early modern “memory palace,” whereby elements of a narrative are associated with points in a visually remembered space; but instead of a palace, he used a small Swiss chalet that he had once stayed in on vacation as a boy, and that he could picture vividly and in detail. He was then able to dictate these feuilletons the next day from the resulting structure. All but four of them were originally published as s…

People in glass houses......and probably no case against Bradley Manning

The US is quick to condemn other countries when they ill-treat their prisoners - especially so-called political ones. It ill-behoves the US to do so when one considers the situation of Bradley Manning's continued detention - the man said to have leaked documents to WikiLeaks - without having been charged with anything.

"Amnesty International has written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates objecting to the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, which was first reported here. The group denounces the oppressive conditions under which Manning is being held as "unnecessarily harsh and punitive," and further states they "appear to breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." The letter describes Manning's treatment as particularly egregious "in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary infractions …

Renditoned man was speaking the truth all the time

The denials came thick and fast.......that an Australian citizen had been the subject of renditioning by the Americans with Australian authority's complicity.

The truth is now out - and those denials hollow and a lie. Harper's Magazine's Scott Horton reports:

"Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian citizen, traveled to Pakistan in 2001, seeking work and religious schooling for his children. On October 5, 2001, he was arrested by Pakistani police while traveling by bus to Karachi. After several months of interrogation, he was sent to Egypt for five months, where he says he was subjected to intense torture including being shocked with high-voltage wires, hung from metal hooks on walls, and beaten. From Egypt he was transported to Guantánamo where he became prisoner No. 661. He was accused by U.S. authorities of having been in Afghanistan and having had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks. American authorities subsequently conceded, however, that they had no…

A truly, truly remarkable human being

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a passionate and eloquent proponent of peace, has been an important figure in Israeli-Palestinian relations for years. Recipient of many awards, he was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2010. His book I Shall Not Hate The Gaza Doctor’s Journey is the best seller in Canada and is being translated into 15 languages.

For those to whom the Dr. in unknown, watch this very recent Democracy Now program, here - by way of background. It is moving beyond belief.See also this piece "Believing in Peace, Even After the Unthinkable" in The New York Times.

The Dr. spoke at the Jaipur Literature Festival this morning. A truly remarkable human being - with a heartfelt message! There wasn't a dry eye in the hall at one point. And something never seen before at a Writer's Festival.......the doctor was accorded a spontaneous standing ovation, by everyone in the hall, at the conclusion of the session.

Make it your business to hear this man. Yo…

Tunisia lesson #1 for the region?

The events in Tunisia continue to have the potential of resonating throughout the Middle East - as Juan Cole writes on truthdig [reproduced on AlterNet].

"The Tunisian uprising that overthrew the 23-year-old regime of strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali had resonances throughout the Middle East. Leaders of countries invested in the region’s authoritarian and highly unequal status quo rejected the political revolution, while groups and states that want change welcomed it. The spectacle of masses of demonstrators pouring down Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis on Friday, overwhelming security forces and putting the president to flight, raised the hopes of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, even as it inspired a gathering dread in the breasts of the region’s dictators and absolute monarchs. Whether or not, as many observers rushed to predict, a wave of discontent will radiate from Tunis throughout the Arab world (and there are reasons to be cautious about that prospect), the “Jasmine Revolut…

Pulling the plug

There would be many out there who would dearly love to do what Susan Maushart did.......pulling the plug on electronic media so that it wasn't available to her children, or herself for that matter.

She explains in a piece on Salon:

"There were lots of reasons why we pulled the plug on my family's electronic media for six months ... or, I should say, why I did, because heaven knows my children would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water or hair products. At ages fourteen, fifteen and eighteen, my daughters and my son don't use media. They inhabit media. And they do so exactly as a fish inhabits a pond. Gracefully. Unblinkingly. And utterly without consciousness or curiosity as to how they got there. Over a period of years, I watched and worried as our media began to function as a force field separating my children from what my son, only half-ironically, called RL (Real Life). But to be honest, the teenagers weren't the only ones with dependency issues. Al…

Ireland's blarney, and lies, blown!

From Shannonwatch - the latest revelation via WikiLeaks, showing that the Irish Government was lying about flights used in renditioning not coming though Shannon airport.

"Slowly but surely the entire shameful truth is coming out about Shannon airport, CIA renditions, and the lengths the Irish government went to avoid the evidence. One of the first Dublin embassy cables from Wikileaks confirmed that the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern knew about the CIA’s use of Shannon for its renditions. The latest Dublin cable (full text below) shows that they knew this meant they were in violation of torture conventions. Yet they did nothing to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities, preferring instead to avoid political difficulty.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks on 14 January, an unnamed individual who met with the U.S. embassy’s deputy chief of mission (DCM) in Dublin told the embassy

“were a plane to include Shannon in an itinerary that also included transporting …

The contrition is too late Tony!

Blair has always been something of a "show pony". Not really smart he has seen whatever reputation he might have had in tatters as it becomes clearer and clearer that he almost blindly, and against advice, followed or joined George Bush into the Iraq War. He now appears somewhat contrite.

"Former British prime minister Tony Blair has acknowledged that he ignored the warning of his then-Attorney General that attacking Iraq was illegal without United Nations approval.

Mr Blair, who was summoned on Friday for a second time by the official inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war, said he believed the warning was provisional.

During a four hour appearance, he said he thought the Attorney General would change his mind on whether a second UN resolution was necessary when he knew the full details of negotiations that had been taking place.

Mr Blair said he regrets deeply and profoundly the loss of life during and after the 2003 Iraq war.

The ex-PM said his refusal to exp…

Al Jazeera can teach America's media a thing or three

It is often said that Americans are poorly served by their media. Coverage of events outside America are given scant attention, if at all. Americans might be forgiven for being ignorant of events beyond their shores.

From MidEastPosts:

"America was founded upon the principle of liberty and freedom, but guess who was covering the quest for freedom in Tunisia extensively yesterday? Al Jazeera, not the American news TV Networks.

I am utterly disgusted by how American TV channels have abandoned an important historic event of our time. Tunisian people took to the streets and toppled a Saddam-like totalitarian regime, but their voices and images from their revolution did not make it to the American viewers.

CNN, FOX News and MSNBC were busy interviewing celebrities and discussing pet-related stories.

At work, I was able to follow Al Jazeera’s minute-by-minute coverage of the revolution through my iPhone. The Qatari network has an iPhone app that live broadcasts their news, in addition to…

Gaza War: Two years on a doctor remembers and reflects on the death of his 3 daughters

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish was a well-known Palestinian gynecologist who spent years working in one of Israeli’s main hospitals. On January 16, 2009, two days before the end of Israel’s brutal 22-day assault on Gaza, his home was shelled twice by Israeli tanks. His three daughters and his niece were killed. He has just written a book about his life called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity.

The doctor was interviewed on Democracy Now in the last days - here.

In fact, the doctor is a guest speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival which kicks off tomorrow.

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Not even having seen the movie Indiana Jones (with Harrison Ford) a few years ago can prepare one for the absolutely stunning and awesome Petra. It really is a sight to behold - as is the history of how the place came about in the first place , how inventive the people were at the time, how it "disappeared centuries ago and was discovered in the 1800's by a Swiss man.

The Four Seasons Hotel chain newsletter has a number of photos of Petra - a teaser if ever there was one to go and visit in person.

They just won't learn. Obama officials caught yet again deceiving about WikiLeaks

"Whenever the U.S. Government wants to demonize a person or group in order to justify attacks on them, it follows the same playbook: it manufactures falsehoods about them, baselessly warns that they pose Grave Dangers and are severely harming our National Security, peppers all that with personality smears to render the targeted individuals repellent on a personal level, and feeds it all to the establishment American media, which then dutifully amplifies and mindlessly disseminates it all. That, of course, was the precise scheme that so easily led the U.S. into attacking Iraq; it's what continues to ensure support for the whole litany of War on Terror abuses and the bonanza of power and profit which accompanies them; and it's long been obvious that this is the primary means for generating contempt for WikiLeaks to enable its prosecution and ultimate destruction (an outcome the Pentagon has been plotting since at least 2008)."

So writes Glenn Greenwald on Salon. …

Sarah's world view

Credited to moir at The Sydney Morning Herald

Tunisia...and the possible fallout in the Arab world

Rami G. Khouri is the well-regarded Editor-at-large of The Daily Star, in Beirut, and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon.

Writing in "The Thrill and Consequences of Tunisia" on agence global:

"Local and international observers who wonder how Tunisia mirrors the rest of the region would do well to note the core grievances that Tunisians articulate during this transition, because these grievances are widely shared across the nearly 90% of all Arabs who are poor – and thus they point the way to needed reforms across the region. They are about corruption, lack of political and fiscal accountability, non-credible electoral and political systems, absence of democratic principles, abuse of power, and excessive reliance on unchecked police power. Consequently, heading off similar revolts in other Arab countries would seem to require that long-serving rulers reflect on the need …

A review of the WikiLeak leaks

From The Nation:

"How all these issues and others are viewed by the public hinges significantly, however, on the perceived value of the leaked cables. US officials, even in charging foul, usually focus on the embarrassing loss of control and secrecy, not the damaging content of the cables. And as with earlier WikiLeaks bombshells—the massive Iraq and Afghanistan "war logs"—many critics in the media soon labeled the Cablegate revelations minor, old hat. Some of WikiLeaks' media partners, after a dozen days of heavy-duty reporting, severely reduced coverage of the cables. Now most of them are emerging via El País and the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

For balance, then, it's important to review a small sample of what we have learned thanks to WikiLeaks since April and the release of the "Collateral Murder" US helicopter video, which showed the killing of two Reuters journalists, among others. It's necessary to do this because most in the US media, after…

On the eve of Martin Luther King Day

Credited to Mr Fish on truthdig

An obscenity

MPS had the privilege of visiting the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem the other day.

That the world allows the situation of Palestinian refugees to continue after all these years is a disgrace, but to be in the Camp and be confronted by that god-damn awful and obscene Wall the Israelis have built is another thing. To think that in 2011 people are living in the harsh conditions as the refugees do, and then be confined into a camp surrounded by a Wall with watch towers a la a prison - manned by Israelis who are quite likely to arbitrarily shoot down on the refugees - is an obscenity.

One significant beacon and light in the Camp was a visit to the Lajee Centre.

If you are in any way concerned by what is happening to the Palestinians and your fellow man, then the Centre is more than deserving of support. The people who run the Centre are so committed to helping all people in the Camp, irrespective of their age, that they are nothing less than an inspiration to be admired, supp…

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Democracy?

The events in Tunisia have focused attention on how what has occurred there might play out or influence things in other countries - especially those where the US pours in billions of dollars into the country yet turns a blind eye to the obvious lack of democracy there.

It's a subject taken up by Barry Lando in "With Friends Like These, Who Needs Democracy?" in a piece on truthdig. He analyses the political [?] position in various countries. One can't help think of dominoes.

"Assuming the Tunisian military actually agrees to hold free elections (not at all a sure thing), will the generals really throw open the doors to all political groups? Nationalists? Islamists? Marxists? Anti-militarists? What forces will roil to the surface after decades of political repression? Will they throw in their lot with America’s war against terror, or join the ranks of those in the Middle East who increasingly see what’s going on as America’s war against Islam?

Washington’s am…

How Retirement Is Being Reinvented Worldwide

"Around the globe, from developed Europe to fast-rising China, a common trend is emerging: The workforce is taking on an older profile as retirement is delayed or redefined.

A global recession has helped to accelerate the trend, by putting pressure on many people over age 55 to keep working if they can. But the real impetus behind an aging workforce is demographic. People are living longer. Older people are also becoming a larger share of the population in many nations, simply because of declining birthrates and shrinking ranks of young people.

All this is amplified by the arrival of the massive boomer generation on the threshold of retirement. The baby boom after World War II didn't just happen in the United States but also in places like Europe and Australia as well. The first boomers are hitting 65 this month."

Read the complete piece on truthouthere.

The Weak Links

Credited to the truthout site

It's a real slippery slope......

So much is done by governments in the name of security that it is truly frightening. Civil liberties and rights of innocent citizens are either being ignored or swept aside altogether. The actions of the American TSA is but one example of security going off the rails. The problem is that once what might be regarded as an abrogation of civil liberties is allowed to happen, the slippery slope to further excursions is easy to see coming - let alone stop!

"For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it's sometimes easy to lose perspective of just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are. One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary. Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security's practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products -- laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like -- co…

John Pilger: The War on WikiLeaks

Author, commentator, journalist and documentary-maker John Pilger isn't lightly dismissed. He is one of the most awarded journalists around. So, when he takes up the issue in "The War on WikiLeaks" on Information Clearing House, of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and how governments, and some of the media, are behaving, it's time to sit up and take notice.

"The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before."

****

"The latest propaganda about the “damage” caused by WikiLeaks is a warning by the US State Department to “hundreds of human rights activists, foreign government offi…

Take your pick: Barbaric, uncivilised, illegal or inhumane

As the world watches, and does nothing, other than the occasional tut-tutting, Israel continues its totally outrageous behaviour. It's hard to fathom how Israel can be taken seriously when it says it seeks peace with the Palestinians. Its actions are totally contrary to anything peaceful. Indeed, one need not search hard for an appropriate adjective to describe Israel's latest outrage - as detailed in this report from The Guardian.

"In a bleak but beautiful landscape of undulating stony hills I watched a group of Palestinian schoolchildren take their lessons yesterday in the open air next to a heap of rubble that, until this week, was their classroom.

This is the village of Dkaika, about as far south in the West Bank as you can get. It's a community of around 300 people, without electricity or running water, whose days are spent tending their herds of goats and sheep and trying not to attract the attention of nearby Jewish settlers.

"On Wednesday, at about 7.…

Return to sender

Polite people RSVP! This may be a bit of a twist on being polite.....

"The Israeli peace movement is coming back to life, and it's a very courteous movement indeed. When activists find objects marked "Made in USA" lying on the ground, they deliver them directly to the US ambassador to Israel. The other night, they returned a bunch of empty tear gas canisters - all marked "Made in USA" - fired by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. The canisters are used to break up nonviolent protests against the Israeli-built wall that is tearing Palestinian life apart.

One canister made in the USA killed Jawaher Abu Rahmah in the village of Bil'in on the last day of 2010. Another killed Abu Rahmah's brother, Bassem Abu Rahmah, in April 2009."

****

"The dominant concern in Israel is not for the obvious evils of the occupation, but for Israel's public image.

The IDF is taking a bizarre position by telling the world to ignore the unprovoked tear gas attac…

Urging violence

The question of political discourse - and the nature and extent of it, in particular vitriol, bile and lies - has been the subject of media "discussion" post the apparent assassination attempt on the life of the US Congresswoman in Arizona.

But FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) suggests that the US media has for a long time urged violence, of one sort or another, against a lot of people and peoples including those outside America.

"The discussion of violent and paranoid rhetoric in the media is long overdue, whether or not it is ever determined that accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner was somehow influenced or motivated by such rhetoric. Before the shooting, there had been a remarkable surge of politically motivated violence (FAIR Blog, 1/12/11). Despite media efforts to suggest this is a problem coming from "both sides" (FAIR Blog, 1/10/11), any disinterested analysis would conclude that the rhetoric coming from the right is both far more virulent…

How about implementing SCR 1325?

Despite all the talk of "never again" at the end of WW2, the so-called sophistication of the age in which we live and one might have people, generally, in the world being better educated, we remain mired in conflicts, of one sort or the other, around the globe. We obviously have learned anything over the years. The cost of war, human and material, and that essentially conflicts are not really resolved by war.

Maybe a different approach is called for. A sound proposal and suggestion comes from Ann Jones in a piece "Why Peace Is the Business of Men (But Shouldn’t Be)" on TomDispatch.

"Looking for a way out of Afghanistan? Maybe it’s time to try something entirely new and totally different. So how about putting into action, for the first time in recorded history, the most enlightened edict ever passed by the United Nations Security Council: Resolution 1325?

Passed on October 31, 2000, more than a decade ago, that “landmark” resolution was hailed worldwide a…

Robert Fisk: Now what in Lebanon?

There are no journalists better equipped than Robert Fisk to write about the Middle East, and Lebanon in particular. Fisk has lived in Beirut for upwards of 30 years. In his latest piece "Lebanon in limbo: a nation haunted by the murder of Rafiq Hariri" for The Independent he analyses the downfall of the Government in Lebanon and the consequences.

"There are many who believe that Lebanon will now descend into a civil war, similar to the fratricidal conflict which it endured from 1976 to 1980. I doubt it. A new generation of Lebanese, educated abroad – in Paris, in London, in America – have returned to their country and, I suspect, will not tolerate the bloodshed of their fathers and grandfathers.

In theory, Lebanon no longer has a government, and the elections which were fairly held and which gave Saad Hariri his cabinet are no more. President Michel Suleiman will begin formal talks on Monday to try to create a new government."

When the former editor of a leading newspaper writes he is "ashamed" of his country....Houston, we have a problem!

When the former editor of a country's leading popular newspaper writes that he his "ashamed" of his country, not only is their an obvious problem around, but people ought to sit up and take notice.

"....this is because I have felt lately that it has become shameful to be an Israeli, and a decent person must feel this shame and blush deeply and clear his throat and whisper to himself the question, what should we do, what should we do, for heaven’s sake, and perhaps even reach far-reaching conclusions.

Because it is fairly clear already that if our life here continues as it has been developing, then decent, moderate, balanced and humane people will not be able to live here. Before our eyes, with growing speed, Israeli society is changing, the political culture is changing, balances are disrupted and checks are tossed to the blazes, in the terrible wind that is blowing in our lives and quickly colouring them in darkening shades of black.

It seems that things that were bo…

All in the name of security!!!

Two spectrums of security - the new game in town under which everything, and whatever, is OK.

First this from those wonderful people at TSAin the USA:

"Folks have created products designed to shield private areas from the TSA’s Advanced imaging Technology. But it won’t work, says the TSA on its own blog.

“Remember the post about the artist who designs metal plates for baggage with messages that appear on the X-ray monitor? This is very similar to that. If there is something shielding an area and we don’t know what’s under it, we have to conduct a pat-down,” says the blog. It continues:

“We're certainly not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy or wear, but I feel it’s only fair to give you a heads up on your choice of attire.”

So basically, passengers should be aware that the use of these types of products to shield their private parts will likely result in a pat-down.

Some might think this is TSA’s way of getting back at clever passengers.

That’s not the case at all,…

Inflamming passions can be fatal

The debate about how people address political issues without rancour, personal insults, pure bile and without inflaming people, continues in America.

"Since Obama took office in January 2009, there have been seven separate cases of disturbed white men committing political murders after becoming hopped up on guns, right-wing media and anti-government and anti-Obama blather. And this doesn’t even include Loughner’s attack or other incidents where the gunman was intent on killing but didn’t succeed."

****

"The group resentment is fomented and stoked within the right-wing echo chamber, in increasingly apocalyptic terms. With swaths of the public alienated and looking for easy answers in a time of epic joblessness, they latch onto scapegoats that demagogues like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage provide. As a result millions of alienated Americans are convinced their problems and the national malaise is the fault of Mexicans, liberals, abortion providers a…

It all depends on from where you hail

Credited to Cam Cardow, Canada

Haiti one year on. Still waiting for all those pledged monies

Haiti suffered a catastrophic disaster exactly one year ago when struck by a severe earthquake. The world rushed in aid to what was already an impoverished country. 12 months on the country is struggling to recover, mourns the almost quarter of a million people killed and no less importantly waits for all the monies pledged by way of aid to actually be paid.

"After a devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that there could be dire consequences "if the effort to rebuild is slow or insufficient, if it is marked by conflict, lack of coordination, or lack of transparency." At a March 31 UN conference, the international community pledged $5.3 billion dollars for 2010–11 to help Haiti "build back better," with the United States pledging $1.15 billion.

Yet excluding debt relief, the governments and international institutions that promised to help Haiti rebuild have disbursed just…

Anyone listen to this dangerous screwball?

Whilst discussion rages in the USA about the toxic rhetoric which has been injected into political discourse and commentary - and whether there ought to be some form of gun control brought in - who else but that toxic loud-mouth Rush Limbaugh to be at it again today. It is hard to fathom how how anyone, unless deranged or mentally crippled, can take this man seriously, let alone waste their time listening to him - yet millions of millions do. As for any gun control, the new Speaker of the Congress has already nixed that.

Salon reports:

"Rush Limbaugh said many awful, offensive things today, because he was defending himself from people who say that hateful, ugly rhetoric leads to violence. Well, he wasn't really "defending himself" from anything, so much as just spewing his usual free-associative garbage.

He "jokingly" suggested that Democrats had purposefully orchestrated a mass murder for their own political benefit. He incorrectly asserted that "e…

Rhetoric + guns = a bad mix

Commentary on the tragic shooting of US politician Gabrielle Giffords,and the death of innocent by-standers, continues.

Reflect on each piece as you read them......for America has to take stock of itself.

From The Nation:

"After Sarah Palin targeted her district with a gunsight on a map identifying Democrats Palin was urging her followers to "reload" and defeat, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said: "We are on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of the gunsight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action."

From AlterNet quoting a Republican Congressman at a rally in Washington:

"Fellow patriots, we have a lot of domestic enemies of the Constitution, and they're right down the Mall, in the Congress of the United States -- and right down Independence Avenue in the White House that belongs to us," Broun told the crowd. "It's not…

A skeleton outline of the Assange defence

The stakes are now raised in the situation in which Julian Assange finds himself, for now his legal team must, in effect, set aside the attempt to extradite their client to Sweden - not to face a charge, but merely to be questioned. Quite extraordinary on one level. But then again the suspicion that the Swedes are seeking the extradition on behalf of the US won't go away.

The Guardian has published some of the arguments which will be put forward, based on a 35 page document released by Assanges' lawyers outlining the arguments in skeleton form.

"Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could be at "real risk" of the death penalty or detention in Guantánamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault, his lawyers claim.

In a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, released today, Assange's legal team argue that there is a similar likelihood that th…

What "charming"people - not!

An example of the "charming" and humane way the Israelis treat people....

Spoke with a young man who had just travelled, by bus, from Ramallah to Jerusalem. The trip should, at most, take 30 minutes. At the border crossing the Israelis insisted that a Palestinian, on crutches because of a broken leg, have his crutches x-rayed, and then, that he walk some metres unaided with his crutches. He was obviously unable to do so. The consequence? A strip-search and questioning in a room at the border-crossing whilst all passengers on the bus waited. 45 minutes later the bus resumed its journey. Total time taken in the trip, including the wait at the crossing? 2 1/2 hours.

An internet ID card?

Whoa! If this report from CBS News is correct, then governments around the world will see forcing internet users to have an ID as a great way to "control" what people are doing on the internet - or at least "keeping an eye" on it. It's a slippery slope toward lessening freedom of use of the internet, no matter which way it will be "sold" to the public as allegedly protecting them as users of the internet.

"The Obama administration is currently drafting what it's calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

"We are not talking about a national ID card," Locke said at the Stanford event. "We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a do…

The Public Editor of the NYT ruminates

The New York Times has a Public Editor. Kinda internal ombudsman.

The current occupant of the position reflects on the publishing of the newspaper, the pressures time-wise, the blurring between reporting and opinion and what readers expect from their newspaper.

"Four months as public editor has given me a working list, perhaps only that, of the challenges The Times faces and the faults readers find in this most important of American newspapers. As a representative of the reader, I’d like to post that list today and invite you to consider it, then add to it as you will."

Continue reading here. You may not agree with anything Brisbane writes, but it might provide an insight into what the NYT, with its banner "All the News Fit to Print", seeks to do in publishing its daily newspaper.

"And no one wants to know"

From the New York Review of Books an article which calls for no explanation or analysis. It only serves to highlight that Israel is sitting on a time-bomb......with very ugly consequences, both internally and in relation to the Palestinians, unless it stops the present blight which is the illegal occupation as well as the blatant discrimination of the Arab community which makes up 20% of Israel's population.

"The publication in Jerusalem of Occupation of the Territories: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies 2000-2010—unprecedented first-hand accounts by over one hundred Israeli soldiers of their experiences while serving in the IDF—coincides with an appalling yet unsurprising incident I learned of only a few days ago. On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, at 3:00 AM, Hajja Sara Nawaja, a Palestinian grandmother living in a tent with her family in the arid hills of south Hebron, on the occupied West Bank, woke to the sound of dogs barking. She smelled smoke. She discovered that two adjacen…