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Showing posts from February, 2011

Fisk: It's only the beginning in the Middle East

Robert Fisk, more than anyone - having been located as journalist, author and commentator in Beirut for upwards of 30 years - has witnessed events in the Middle East probably more closely than anyone.

"The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, "shock and awe" was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – res…

Food (the lack of and cost) fuels revolution

As this piece "The price of food is at the heart of this wave of revolutions" in The Independent points out, revolutions are breaking out everywhere. But why?

"Why are all these revolutions happening now? Plenty of answers have been offered: the emergence of huge urban populations with college degrees but no prospect of work; the accumulation of decades of resentment at rulers who are "authoritarian familial kleptocracies delivering little to their people", as Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation put it; the subversive role of Facebook and Twitter, fatally undermining the state's systems of thought control.

Absent from this list – to the combined bewilderment and relief of the US and Europe – are the factors that were universally supposed to be driving populist politics in the Middle East: Islamic fundamentalism coupled with anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism. As one Egyptian pointed out after the fall of Mubarak, at no point during weeks of passion…

Christopher Hitchens: Is Obama secretly Swiss?

President Obama hasn't seem to know how to address the swiftly changing events in the Middle East - often taking seemingly contradictory positions within days of one another.

That has led noted commentator Christopher Hitchens, in a piece on Slate, to wonder whether Obama is secretly Swiss:

"However meanly and grudgingly, even the new Republican speaker has now conceded that the president is Hawaiian-born and some kind of Christian. So let's hope that's the end of all that. A more pressing question now obtrudes itself: Is Barack Obama secretly Swiss?

Let me explain what I mean. A Middle Eastern despot now knows for sure when his time in power is well and truly up. He knows it when his bankers in Zurich or Geneva cease accepting his transfers and responding to his confidential communications and instead begin the process of "freezing" his assets and disclosing their extent and their whereabouts to investigators in his long-exploited country. And, at precisely th…


Credited to Mike Luckovich

That's a hell of a difference

As Mother Jones rightly points out "a huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244."

Read the Mother Jones piece, here, to see [pictorial depictions included] the stark disparities all over the place.

Reflections on the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and author of Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East.

He has an interesting analysis on FP of what is happening in the Middle East now - and what it means for the West.

"This is above all a moment of new possibilities in the Arab world, and indeed in the entire Middle East. We have not witnessed such a turning point for a very long time. Suddenly, once insuperable obstacles seem surmountable. Despotic regimes that have been entrenched across the Arab world for two full generations are suddenly vulnerable. Two of the most formidable among them -- in Tunis and Cairo -- have crumbled before our eyes in a matter of a few weeks. Another in Tripoli, one of the most brutal and repressive, is tottering at this moment. The old men who dominate so many of these countries suddenly look their age, and the distance between the rulers and…

Leaving the US back in the dust

Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Writing in "Working Around America: A New Strategy on Israel/Palestine" on Information Clearing House he challenges the influence of the US in the Middle East conflict - especially following the recent US veto at the UN.

"Faced with the spectacle of an almost totally isolated US, why should any of us cling to the American default strategy of the past 44 years, whereby the United States is seen as the sole and ultimate arbitrator of the conflict? And in particular, why should the Palestinians? If the US cannot actually deliver on a just peace for structural reasons, and yet insists on an absolute monopoly over any “peace process,” the time is long overdue to develop a “working around America” strategy. Let’s look at the world beyond the US:

· At least ten countries in Europe seem to be moving towards unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within the ‘49/’67 borders; Cyprus did so a c…

Telling the unvarnished truth about Afghanistan

So, is there gilding the lillee going on about how things are going in Afghanistan?

"Rolling Stone magazine has a provocative article on the streets right now, alleging that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan ordered "information operations" specialists to use their techniques not on the Taliban or on Afghans, but to help persuade visiting U.S. politicians to keep backing the war effort. When one of the officers involved questioned the policy, he found himself under investigation in what seems to have been a spiteful act of punishment. (For additional commentary on the story, check out FP's Tom Ricks here.)

Assuming the story is accurate, it's pretty disturbing. But the issue isn't an individual general's overzealous effort to sell the war back home. The real issue is whether any of us can tell how the war is actually going, given that the people closest to the battle have obvious incentives to portray their efforts in a positive light.

Over the past few weeks,…

Tunisia's message to the world for Libya

An insight into Arab thinking

Yes, he may be the political and media adviser to the President of Syria, but it would be foolish to simply write-off this op-ed piece "No room for western hypocrisy" by Bouthaina Shaaba written for the Dubai Gulf News. There is more than a kernel of truth in the piece reflecting thinking in the Middle East - now the subject of so much tumult in a number of countries.

"American politicians should realise that these revolutions are against western support of despotism, occupation, corruption and submission to foreign dictates. Pro-western regimes have started to crumble under the hammer of the forces of freedom, democracy and human rights.

The West will again be surprised at the will, determination and ability of the Arab people to change their future and steer it away from those who forced occupation and humiliation on them and made up racist theories of the Arabs as ‘terrorists', unfit for democracy and "in need of despots to rule them".

The importance …

Worth propping up dictators?

Credited to Mike Keefe, The Denver Post

NYT doesn't print all the news fit to print

An "interesting" piece by Glenn Greenwald, in Salon, on how The New York Times, contrary to it's masthead "All the News Fit to Print" in fact doesn't - and engages in self-censorship.

"Earlier today, I wrote in detail about new developments in the case of Raymond Davis, the former Special Forces soldier who shot and killed two Pakistanis on January 27, sparking a diplomatic conflict between the U.S. (which is demanding that he be released on the ground of "diplomatic immunity") and Pakistan (whose population is demanding justice and insisting that he was no "diplomat"). But I want to flag this new story separately because it's really quite amazing and revealing."


"It's one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because they believe its disclosure would endanger lives. But here, the U.S. Government has spent weeks making public statements that were misleading in the extreme -- Obama's calling Davis &q…

Not a very bright future for many.......

Illustration credited to John Shakespeare, SMH

Let it not be said that the news of what many in the world face in relation to the availability of food in the future isn't grim. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the misery of many will, correspondingly, benefit a few of the very rich.

"The world has entered a new food crisis. Prices have surged, contributing to unrest in the Arab world. The president of the World Bank, the former US deputy secretary of state Bob Zoellick, last week warned that global food prices are at "dangerous levels."


"If there is so much food available, why are prices soaring and why is one-sixth of humanity permanently hungry?

There are old and new problems. The most glaring of the old include protectionism in the richest countries. The European Union spends about $365 billion every year subsidising uneconomic farmers and shutting out food exports. The US and Japan are almost as bad.

This tactic, which has distorted the world food system, …

Human Right Watch: 8 years on life in Iraq is worse

For all the talk how the Iraq War would benefit the Iraqis, nothing could be further from the truth. As a Human Rights Watch reports, 8 years after the invasion of Iraq life is worse for the people of the now war-torn country on a variety of levels - especially for and minorities.

"The rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees, are routinely violated with impunity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch conducted research in seven cities across Iraq during 2010 and found that, beyond the country's continuing violence and crimes, human rights abuses are commonplace.

The 102-page report, "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-led Invasion," calls on the government to protect the rights of vulnerable groups and to amend its penal code and all other laws that discriminate against women and violate freedom of speech. The report also urges Baghdad to open independent and impartial …

First call to impeach Obama?

Bill Clinton copped an attempt to impeach him. Now, Alan Hart, writing in "The Veto and the Case for Impeaching President Obama" on Information Clearing House, suggests that Obama ought to be impeached. He explains:

"Never before has an American President’s fear of offending the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress been so exposed as it was by Obama’s decision to veto the Security Council resolution condemning continued, illegal Israeli settlement activities on the occupied West Bank and demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease” all such activities. In a different America – an informed America – some might think, I do, that Obama should be impeached. The charge? TREASON."


"In the context of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, the only thing to which the Obama administration has been deeply committed is not provoking the wrath of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress and the mainstream media. For all practi…

Our planet! At risk.....and by 2050?

From Yahoo! News:

"A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.
The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative …

From foe to ally.....and now to pariah

Ah, politics, hypocrisy, turning a blind-eye, etc. etc.......and oil.

Colonel Gaddafi was for quite some time near-enough enemy #1. Then he became an ally. Now he is a pariah again.

Look back in history in this piece, back in November 2009, from Middle East Studies Journal on Line.

"In April 2004, seven months after Alamoudi’s arrest, Bush declared that “Libya has turned its back on terror.”

Two months later, Assistant Secretary of State Burns and J. Cofer Black, then-U.S. coordinator for counter-terrorism, traveled to Libya and met with Kadafi.

During the visit, the U.S. formally reestablished direct diplomatic ties with Libya.

In September, the administration lifted sanctions barring most U.S. trade with Libya.

Four months later, U.S. oil firms won lucrative rights in Libya, beating out European competitors. Pentagon officials say that if relations continue to improve, the U.S. would like to include Libya in a proposed $500-million program along with nine other countries that w…

Remembering how Tony Blair cosied up to Gaddafi

London's Daily Mail says it bluntly in a piece "Bloodbath that shames Britain":

"London’s Daily Mail has not pulled any punches in remembering the way that Tony Blair’s Labor Government treated the Libya of dictator Colonel Gadaffi.

The worst unrest of Gaddafi’s 41-year rule comes seven years after Tony Blair’s controversial Deal in the Desert, when the Labour Prime Minister ushered Libya in from the cold in exchange for billions in British business deals. Since sanctions were lifted in 2004, UK firms have sold sniper rifles, tear gas, wall-breaching projectile launchers and crowd control ammunition to a regime found guilty of ordering the Lockerbie bombing, Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity.

It paved the way for the near doubling of exports to Libya, worth almost £500million in 2009 alone.

Mr Blair’s deal is widely seen as having paved the way for the controversial release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi."

Juan Cole: Top Five Myths about the Middle East Protests

Professor Juan Cole blogs on Informed Comment and is one of America's foremost commentators on the Middle East.

He writes an enlightening piece in "Top Five Myths about the Middle East Protests"

"5. Dear right wing blogosphere and also Bill Maher: You can’t generalize about women’s position in Muslim countries based on a reprehensible mob attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan. Generalizing about a whole group of people based on a single incident is called “bigotry.” It is also a logical fallacy (for wingnuts challenged by six syllables in a row, that means, ‘when your brain doesn’t work right’) known as the ‘Hasty Generalization.’ Nobody seems to note that allegedly helpless Egyptian women were the ones who saved Logan, or that Anderson Cooper was also attacked.

Some other examples of reporters or celebrities being assaulted by crowds are here and here. Wingnuts, and also Bill Maher, who do not immediately make generalizations on these bases about large groups of Westerner…

Save money...forget about and damn good health!

It is hard to believe that this has happened in 2011 - in the one of the richest countries in the world.

Environment News Service reports in "U.S. House Slashes Funding for Public Health, Clean Air, Clean Water":

"Early this morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill that environmentalists say amounts to the biggest attack on clean air and clean water in recent history.

H.R. 1, the continuing resolution offered by House Republicans to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, passed by a vote of 235-189. Only three Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting no.

American Lung Association President and CEO Charles Connor called the bill "a severe assault on the health of all Americans."

"The U.S. House of Representatives failed to protect the public health of all Americans by passing H.R. 1," said Connor. "This bill ignores public health and will have dire consequences for all Americans, especially people wit…

What comfort to know military intelligence conned!

The US military has been conned - and in the process more than likely shared its information with friendly allies. What you read below must make you wonder about US military intelligence.

Close your gaping mouth as you read this in The New York Times:

"So much for military intelligence. For eight years the U.S. government paid Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, more than $20 million for software he claimed could stop al Qaeda's next attack by detecting secret messages in Al-Jazeera broadcasts, identify terrorists from predator drones, and detect noise from enemy submarines. But the software didn't work, and the government is invoking national security to keep the details secret. The CIA was so excited about the technology at first, one former agency official says, people called it "the most important, most sensitive" program they had. But when it was used in 2003, it set off a false alarm that led President George W. Bush to order airlines ov…

Never let sound advice intrude....

Credited to Mike Luckovich

A "costly" veto

The US veto at the UN on Friday - mind you, the only country to do so - of the resolution to condemn Israeli settlements, was stupid, and short-sighted, in the extreme. The Israelis and the Israel Lobby in the US will be pleased, but as Gideon Levy rightly points out in his latest op-ed piece "With settlement resolution veto, Obama has joined Likud" in Haaretz, the undoubted losers will be the US and Israel.

"The first veto cast by the United States during Obama's term, a veto he promised in vain not to use as his predecessors did, was a veto against the chance and promise of change, a veto against hope. This is a veto that is not friendly to Israel; it supports the settlers and the Israeli right, and them alone.

The excuses of the American ambassador to the UN won't help, and neither will the words of thanks from the Prime Minister's Office: This is a step that is nothing less than hostile to Israel. America, which Israel depends on more than ever, said …

One way to save money - and lives

Obama and his Administration are wresting with a Budget, and economy, less than in control or functioning satisfactorily - and a GOP determined to undermine what Obama wants to do.

TomDispatch has some sound advice on how Obama can immediately save a lot of money for the American tax-payer - and at the same time save lives too.

"After all, according to the Pentagon, the cost of the Afghan War in 2012 will be almost $300 million a day or, for all 365 of them, $107.3 billion. Like anything having to do with American war-fighting, however, such figures regularly turn out to be undercounts. Other estimates for our yearly war costs there go as high as $120-$160 billion.

And let’s face it, it's a war worth ending fast. Almost a decade after the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. military is still fruitlessly engaged in possibly the stupidest frontier war in our history, thousands of miles from home in the backlands of the planet. It's just the sort of dumb confl…

You gotta be kidding!....."Good" despots?

Hard to believe - then again perhaps not given that the WSJ is owned by The Sun King, the same person / company which owns Fox News [an oxymoron if ever there was one!].

Stephen Walt explains.

"The Wall Street Journal is a fine newspaper, but its op-ed page is like listening to O'Reilly, Beck, or Limbaugh but with a better vocabulary. And it usually makes about as much sense as they do.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal editors told us that pro-American dictators are ethically superior to anti-American tyrants and potentates. Money quote (h/t Eli Clifton &Jim Lobe):

'The regime in Tehran -- aptly described by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday as 'a military dictatorship with a kind of theocratic overlay' -- feels zero compunction or shame about repressing political opponents. Hosni Mubarak and Egypt's military, dependent on U.S. aid and support, were susceptible to outside pressure to shun violence. Tehran scorns the West.

To put it another way, pro…

The genie is out of the bottle

That the US still doesn't get it - by today vetoing a vote at the UN condemning Israel's settlements - almost pales into insignificance when one considers its support for so many despots and dictators in the Middle East.

From Democracy Now:

"Massive public protests continue to sweep the Middle East and North Africa in countries including Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Iran—many being met with violent government crackdowns. We speak to Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera English, and MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky. "Perhaps the Arab moment has come," Bishara says, "It’s clear that the genie is out of the bottle. I think change is coming to the Middle East, to the Arab world." Bishara also discusses the "Palestine Papers," the more than 1,600 secret documents that recorded Middle East peace talks between Israel, the Palestinian leadership and the United States, which were leaked to Al Jazeera and published in January."


Iraq invasion = bad for business

Remember all the nonsense, and lies, the 3 amigos, George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard, blathered on about what the invasion in Iraq would achieve? Nothing has been borne out at all.

This piece in The Atlantic paints a bleak picture of establishing any sort of business in Iraq:

"If you are planning to open a business in Iraq, I would advise you to bring a book. Something substantial, perhaps Tolstoy or Proust, or the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. You’ll want a sizable knapsack, too, so you can comfortably carry not just all 20 volumes, but the enormous stacks of cash that the process will require.

Here is what the World Bank estimates you must do to open a new firm in Iraq. First, you will need to spend a couple of days deciding on a company name, determining whether it is already registered, and obtaining a “name reservation letter” from the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce at a cost of 350,000 Iraqi dinars ($300). Then, for about 900,000 dinars ($770), you must hire a…

Middle East: No holding back?

With the events of Tunisia and Egypt obviously etched on the minds of the people of Libya, Yemen, and now Bahrain, it seems like a brush-fire turning into a bushfire in the Middle East.

Robert Fisk, reporting from Bahrain for The Independent, and in the midst of what is happening there:

"But the heavy hand of Saudi Arabia may not be far away. The Saudis are fearful that the demonstrations in Manama and the towns of Bahrain will light equally provocative fires in the east of their kingdom, where a substantial Shia minority lives around Dhahran and other towns close to the Kuwaiti border. Their desire to see the Shia of Bahrain crushed as quickly as possible was made very clear at Thursday's Gulf summit here, with all the sheikhs and princes agreeing that there would be no Egyptian-style revolution in a kingdom which has a Shia majority of perhaps 70 per cent and a small Sunni minority which includes the royal family.

Yet Egypt's revolution is on everyone's lips in Bahrain…

A one-way street for Israel

Photo credited to AFP

Whither Israel in the light of events in the Middle East? - and what is happening on the ground?

From Inter Press Service [as reproduced on CommonDreams] in "US Calls Same Plays for Israel, But Has Game Changed? Dead Peace Process Could be "National Suicide" for Israel" relevant views of John Mearsheimer, co-author of the best-selling seminal book The Israel Lobby.

"Surrounded by a host of increasingly hostile neighbours, Israel is now more vulnerable than ever before, having lost the bulwark of Turkey last year and more recently its right- hand man, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo.

Without the lavish aid package it receives from the U.S. - three billion dollars annually - Israel could not hope to hold its head above the tempestuous waters in which it navigates.

"It's been the clearly stated policy of the Obama administration, since coming to office in January 2009, that the Israelis should stop building settlements and sit down with the Pale…

Remember climate change?

With all the news around, be it events in the Middle East or how Obama is faring in the US or Prince William's engagement, etc. etc., the topic of climate change, so much a topic of discussion some time back, has been off the media agenda. Post the effectively failed conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun, climate change seems to have become a big yawn.

Reading this recent piece in naturenewsshould disabuse anyone that climate change isn't an issue confronting all of us.

"Climate change may be hitting home. Rises in global average temperature are remote from most people's experience, but two studies in this week's Nature1,2 conclude that climate warming is already causing extreme weather events that affect the lives of millions. The research directly links rising greenhouse-gas levels with the growing intensity of rain and snow in the Northern Hemisphere, and the increased risk of flooding in the United Kingdom."

Free enterprise v obesity

Credited to Jeff Parker, Florida, Today

They just don't get it.......

Events are moving fast in the Middle East. How it will all play out is difficult to gauge but it seems fairly certain that old status-quo of the past will not continue.

All too sadly the US has still not come to grips with the dynamics of how things are changing and that here is a possible opportunity to regain some credibility with Arab nations.

M J Rosenberg writing in "US vs UN on Israeli settlements" on Al Jazeera considers an upcoming UN debate and how the Americans are likely to vote, and why.

"Anyone who thought that the United States has learned anything from the various revolutions upturning the Arab world has another think coming. We didn't.

On Thursday, as the Egyptian revolution was culminating with the collapse of the Mubarak regime, the Obama administration announced that it intends to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by 122 nations, condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

This is from AFP's report on what Deputy Secret…

No, what's good for the goose isn't necssarily good for the gander

Hilary Clinton, in full flight, encouraged those in the Middle East to harness technology in their quest for democratic freedom in their countries - whilst Uncle Sam takes the entirely opposite position inside America. Hypocrisy, and double-standards, at there very best.

"The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, praised the role of social networks such as Twitter in promoting freedom – at the same time as the US government was in court seeking to invade the privacy of Twitter users.

Lawyers for civil rights organisations appeared before a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, battling against a US government order to disclose the details of private Twitter accounts in the WikiLeaks row, including that of the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, below.

The move against Twitter has turned into a constitutional clash over the protection of individual rights to privacy in the digital age.

Clinton, in a speech in Washington, cited the positive role that Twitter, Facebook and other social net…


Curveball? Step up to the plate the man who fabricated so much about Iraq that then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, used material - now known to have been totally false - provided by Curveball in addressing the UN in supporting the attack on Iraq. Another foul-up by US intelligence? - and their German counterparts?

"The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.

"Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right," he said. "They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple…

PA, as torturers, not deserving of financial aid

The Palestinian Authority, now operating without any parliamentary mandate, stands accused of torture by Human Rights Watch. The organisation says aid to the PA ought to be suspended.

"On January 25, 2011, a US State Department spokesman acknowledged to journalists that the US had "documented over 100 complaints of prisoner torture that often targeted political detainees [by PA security forces] over the past year." But he claimed that, "There have been no reports of U.S.-trained Palestinian security forces engaging in torture," apparently referring to the NSF, and that, "The Palestinian security forces have come a long way. Their professionalism has increased."

Reports by the International Crisis Group and the Guardian, as well as by Yezid Sayigh, a former Palestinian negotiator and an academic specialist in PA security affairs, say that the US and UK have provided direct support to the General Intelligence Service and other PA security agencies sin…

Lesson #1 for Obama: How to save US$80 billion

TomDispatch [by the way, worth reading on a regular basis and supporting] is right on the money:

"Here’s the truth of it: You don’t need an $80-billion-plus budget and a morass of 17 intelligence agencies to look at the world and draw a few intelligent conclusions. Nor do you need $80 billion-plus and that same set of agencies to be caught off-guard by developments on our sometimes amazing planet.

Last Thursday, Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, assured a House Intelligence panel that he had “received reports” that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was likely leavin’ town on the next train for Yuma. When that didn’t happen, the Agency clarified the situation. Those “reports” hadn’t, in fact, been secret intelligence updates, but “news accounts.” In other words, billions of bucks later, Panetta was undoubtedly watching Al Jazeera (or the equivalent) just like the rest of us peasants.

After 30 years as Washington’s eyes and ears in Cairo, it turns out that the CIA didn’t have an i…

Yep, it's gonna be ok to murder in South Dakota

Utterly, utterly amazing!

Mother Jones reports in "South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers" :

"A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state's GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon."

Bye, bye Big Bird, Grover, Bert & Ernie et al?

It's hard to believe but the GOP in the USA wants to stop funding of NPR, the TV network which puts out Sesame Street and the other very popular radio program Morning Edition.

US ABC News reports [as reproduced on CommonDreams]:

"As the House prepares for debate today on the budget, Republicans are trying to cut off public funding for NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service, which run such iconic programs as "Sesame Street" and "Morning Edition."

Funding for Big Bird, center, and his friends from Sesame Street would be affected if House Republicans killl the federal subsidy for public television. (Todd Plitt/USA Today)
The House Republicans' budget would rescind any funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which partially supports these two organizations -- for the remainder of the year, and zero out millions in funds after that.

This is not the first attempt by Congress to cut funding for what many Republicans see as liberal-leaning broadcast…