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Showing posts from November, 2011

Indefinite detention? No trial? In the USA?

Most Americans would be startled, one assumes, to know what the Bill presently before the US Senate would provide for.   The military, anywhere in the world, would be authorised to detain people suspected of terrorism, indefinitely, without any trial.

"The Senate is set to vote this week on a Pentagon spending bill that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect — anywhere in the world — without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what is considered the military’s "battlefield" to anywhere in the world, even within the United States. Its authors, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have been campaigning for its passage in a bipartisan effort. But the White House has issued a veto threat, with backing from top official…

Amazon: Take your business elsewhere

Amazon is a behemoth without a doubt.   But it is not a company which fair-minded people ought to support with their business.
Writing in The Nation, Harold Pollack looks more closely at Amazon and as a one-time purchaser has decided to nix them.
"But then I found this terrific story by Spencer Soper describing the labor practices at Amazon’s Lehigh Valley warehouse, where books, CDs and other products are packed and shipped. Soper and his colleagues interviewed twenty current and former workers. It’s not a pretty story:

Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through…

Murdoch newspaper "culture" exposed

It doesn't get more graphic and detailed than the revelations at the British inquiry into the media.   A former editor of the News of the World lays all bare.   And it confirms what a sleaze of an organisation the Murdochs head at News Limited.
"Former News of the World editor stuns UK media inquiry with a breathtakingly frank account of life at a British tabloid.
‘‘Privacy is for paedos,’’ declared former News of the World man and tabloid veteran Paul McMullan in the midst of his evidence at the British Leveson inquiry in the UK media.
He had only just observed that ‘‘in 21 years of invading people’s privacy I’ve never found anybody doing any good’’ - statements that together amounted to a credo for the brutal tabloid newspaper world of which McMullan, former deputy features editor of the now-defunct Sunday, became the chief spokesman in the otherwise stifled confines of courtroom 73 at the High Court in London.

The public interest, he said, added up to no more than the sheer n…

WikiLeaks ....One year on

It's hard to believe that it's one year, today, since WikiLeaks literally burst onto the scene.    And what an effect it has had, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains in "Cablegate One Year Later: How WikiLeaks Has Influenced Foreign Policy, Journalism, and the First Amendment"....

"One year ago today, WikiLeaks started publishing a trove of over 250,000 leaked U.S. State Department cables, which have since formed the basis of reporting for newspapers around the globe. The publication has given the public a window into the inner workings of government at an unprecedented scale, and in the process, has transformed journalism in the digital age.

In recognition, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was just awarded Australia’s version of the Pulitzer Prize, in addition to the Martha Gellhorn journalism prize he won in the United Kingdom earlier this year. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald observed, “WikiLeaks easily produced more newsworthy scoops over the last year …

Now it's NATO v Pakistan

Well known author and commentator Tariq Ali, writing on Counterpunch on the latest issue between NATO and Pakistan....
"The Nato assault on a Pakistani checkpoint close to the Afghan border which killed 24 soldiers on Saturday must have been deliberate. Nato commanders have long been supplied with maps marking these checkpoints by the Pakistani military. They knew that the target was a military outpost. The explanation that they were fired on first rings false and has been ferociously denied by Islamabad. Previous such attacks were pronounced ‘accidental’ and apologies were given and accepted. This time it seems more serious. It has come too soon after other ‘breaches of sovereignty’, in the words of the local press, but Pakistani sovereignty is a fiction. The military high command and the country’s political leaders willingly surrendered their sovereignty many decades ago. That it is now being violated openly and brutally is the real cause for concern.

 In retaliation, Pakistan h…

An unhappy prognosis for 2012

There is the economic crisis and woes besetting many countries in Europe and also the USA.  Then there is the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping the world.
The Boston Globe has an op-ed piece which takes a realist snap-shot of the world  today....and no less importantly, what things might bring in 2012.
"Around the world, this has been the year of uprisings - spurred in large part by financial concerns.

Athens, of course, has witnessed months of fiery protests. But the disaffected have also crowded the streets of Paris, London, Rome, and New York.

And economic woes extend far beyond the obvious.

As former New York Times war reporter - and current Truthdig columnist - Chris Hedges told me in August, the Arab Spring had a lot "to do with food prices. Commodity prices - especially wheat, which has increased in price by 100% in past eight months - has really made it difficult for families, especially poor families - and half of the population in Egypt lives on about two dollars a …

You pay for the cosmetics. He makes millions in avoiding tax

Is it any wonder that the Occupy Wall Street is gaining traction.   Revelations in The New York Times how Ronald Lauder - the heir to the Estee Lauder fortune - has manipulated US tax laws to make millions of dolllars only serve to highlight how the wealthy "play" at avoiding their liability to pay tax.
"As he stood in the opulent marble foyer of a Fifth Avenue mansion late last month, greeting the coterie of prominent guests arriving at his private art gallery, Ronald S. Lauder was doing more than just being a gracious host.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Neue Galerie, Mr. Lauder’s museum of Austrian and German art, he exhibited many of the treasures of a personal collection valued at more than $1 billion, including works by Van Gogh, Cézanne and Matisse, and a Klimt portrait he bought five years ago for $135 million."

**** "An examination of public documents involving Mr. Lauder’s companies, investments and charities offers a glimpse of the wide arra…

WikiLeaks Wins Walkley for Revealing 'Inconvenient Truths' in Global Coup

A more than well-deserved award.     Anyone remotely interested in politics and openness in Government, should applaud what WikiLeaks has done.    Needless to say the powers that be are more than happy to target the messenger behind WikiLeaks - Julian Assange.

"WikiLeaks was last night awarded a Walkley for outstanding contribution to journalism for what was described by judges as a global publishing coup that achieved "justice through transparency".

"WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup," the Walkley trustees said.

"Its revelations, from the way the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic affairs of nations, have had an undeniable impact."

Iraq's young post Hussein and the US

Iraq has basically moved off the daily news.    There is a feeling of the West looking at Iraq as a "job well done".     That the country has been scarred in relation to the number of deaths suffered by its citizens, the large number of people who have re-located to other countries (think Jordan, for example) and the considerable damage to the country's infrastructure, has been overlooked.    And what about the young people who have lived with war for so long?

"About half of Iraq’s 33 million people are 19 or younger, and no Iraqi born since Saddam came to power in 1979 has known the country to be without war or dictatorship.

Iraqis in their late teens and 20s “grew up in a very dangerous climate” that did not foster a “civilian mentality,” according to Abduljabbar Ahmad Abdullah, dean of the political science college at the University of Baghdad.

“The political socialization of that individual is not correct,” Abdullah said over tea in his campus office in October. “…

Occupy London do what? Open libraries?

As libraries close their doors across the UK because of councils being unable to afford them, a new dimension to the Occupy London movement - opening libraries.
"As councils up and down the country close libraries faster than you can say "select committee", the Occupy London library is expanding, with two new branches.

The library at Finsbury Square is little more than a couple of shelves and a sofa in a tent, while around the corner at the Bank of Ideas there's a fair amount of shelving, though not much in the way of actual books. But according to the Bank's poet in residence – or maybe that should be "poet in occupation" – Pete the Temp, these are early days.

"There's not much here yet, but we're only just starting," he says, pointing out the "rigorous shelving system" which makes the divide between books and, um, poster paint. The collection is the same kind of hotch-potch as at the St Paul's site with Brand volume six …

The plight of the Bedouins

Israel's misconduct knows no bounds.   Flout international law?  Not a concern!   Ignore humanity or decency?   Not a second thought!    The plight of the Bedouins is graphically detailed in this piece from Jordan Valley Solidarity.

"Israel plans to uproot Bedouin communities from 60% of the West Bank and forcibly transfer them into controlled enclosures. If this is allowed to happen, 27,000 people will be evicted from their homes and land - they will be forced to live in ghettos, with no land on which to make a living. This cruel and shocking new development represents the acceleration of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Bedouin communities from the West Bank, since it illegally colonised the area in 1967, and they aim to complete this plan within the next 3 – 6 years. 

The first phase of this racist, apartheid strategy is scheduled for January 2012, with the forced removal of Bedouin communities from the land around East Jerusalem into a camp/ghetto next to a landfill site by A…

Two behemoths. China and the USA?

Whilst in Australia recently Obama announced a shift in the USA's military presence overseas.    Leaving aside why Obama chose to make the announcement in Canberra and not on "home turf" Washington, one has to wonder whether this new emphasis on effectively "taking on" China is a wise move.     Does the world really need these 2 superpowers - one ascending, the other descending - squaring off against one another?
"In a move that could prove as momentous—and dangerous—as President Truman’s 1947 decision to initiate a cold war with the Soviet Union, President Obama has chosen to commence a military buildup in the Asia Pacific region aimed at reasserting US primacy and constraining China. Announced in Canberra, Australia, on November 17, the buildup will include deploying 2,500 US marines at Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, and an expanded naval presence in the South China Sea. Along with this shift is a fresh US drive to bolster alliances with countries …

Arctic shrinking at "unprecedented rate"

Let it not be said that we haven't been warned.     We are killing off our planet - with all the consequences that brings.    Now it's the Arctic which is seeing loss of sea ice at an "unprecedented pace".   In no less than the last 1,450 years.
"The recent loss of sea ice in the Arctic is greater than any natural variation in the past 1½ millennia, a Canadian study shows.
"The recent sea ice decline … appears to be unprecedented," said Christian Zdanowicz, a glaciologist at Natural Resources Canada, who co-led the study and is a co-author of the paper published Wednesday online in Nature.

"We kind of have to conclude that there's a strong chance that there's a human influence embedded in that signal."

In September, Germany's University of Bremen reported that sea ice had hit a record low, based on data from a Japanese sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, using a different satellite data se…

The big blogger gets sued by the little ["slave"] bloggers

The biter is bit!     The bloggers who have helped make The Huffington Post what it is, are suing for the work they have done.    How the ever voluble Adrienna will respond will be interesting to see.    Bear in mind that she sold the internet newspaper she established for $315 million earlier this year.
"A group of angry bloggers, being led by freelance journalist and trade unionist Jonathan Tasini, filed the class action in New York federal court, after Huffington sold her internet newspaper in February for $315m without paying certain contributors a penny.
Tasini, who wrote more than 250 posts for The Huffington Post on an unpaid basis leading up to the site’s sale, said: “Huffington bloggers have essentially been turned into modern day slaves on Arianna Huffingtons’s plantation”. He said he was suing because “people who create content…have to be compensated” for their work.

The complainant and his lawyers believe that bloggers’ articles helped contribute to approximately a thir…

Using "pinkwashing" as PR

There is just no stopping the Israelis using any device, or means, to counter the negative image the country has developed around the world.    Now it has decided to use the "gay" movement as a PR tool - pinkwashing it's called!    This op-ed piece in The New York Times explains.
"In 2005, with help from American marketing executives, the Israeli government began a marketing campaign, “Brand Israel,” aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The campaign, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, sought to depict Israel as “relevant and modern.” The government later expanded the marketing plan by harnessing the gay community to reposition its global image.

Last year, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as “an international gay vacation destination.” The promotion, which received support from the Tourism Ministry and Israel’s overseas consulates, includes depictions of young same-sex couples…

The Netizen Report

No explanation or background needed....
"Today (23 November) is the International Day to End Impunity, honoring those who have been killed for exercising their right to free speech. Click here to learn more about some of the people who have been murdered for speaking out. Now that everybody can commit journalism on the Internet, any citizen in the world can end up on the list unless we fight to defend our rights against the many who want to silence us.

In Egypt the thugs are out of control with several dozen people dead and hundreds wounded as the violence in Tahrir Square continues for all the world to see. Each outrage committed by the Egyptian military and police is documented on the Internet through social media. Click here to follow Global Voices' special coverage.

In the United States the Occupy movement may not have a unified set of demands, but the protesters have found fresh unity and momentum against the thuggish manner in which police and other authorities have handl…

At the frontline in Egypt

This amazing footage shot by Australian indy journalist Austin Mackell puts you in the midst of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.

In what world does this man (Newt Gingrich) live?

One has to wonder whether the man - none other than GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich - is serious, or bordering on deranged, or totally and utterly out of touch with the real world.  
"It has been suggested that the Republicans who would be president are determined to turn the clock back seventy-five years and “rescind the New Deal.”

Now, Newt Gingrich has gone his rivals one better.

The former Speaker of the House, and sudden contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nod, is not about to stop with the New Deal. He wants to turn the clock back 100 years and rescind the progressive era.

This is no small threat. While the New Deal brought a measure of economic security to the American experiment, along with a bolder vision of what government could do to tame the wildest excesses of bankers and speculators, it was the Progressive Era that introduced measures of basic humanity and democratic aspiration to the project.

Gingrich goes to the heart of the matter with his new proposal …

Best look inwards Mr President

Whilst the US president lectures Europeans on how they need to get their economic houses in order, he would be well advised to consider the financial plight of a large percentage of his people.
"Nearly half of all Americans lack economic security, meaning they live above the federal poverty threshold but still do not have enough money to cover housing, food, healthcare and other basic expenses, according to a survey of government and industry data.
The survey, released on Tuesday by the advocacy group Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), found that 45 percent of U.S. residents live in households that struggle to make ends meet.

That breaks down to 39 percent of all adults and 55 percent of all children, the group found."
From National Geographic Top 10 Photographs 2011

A tree-climbing lion stirs in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park.

"This photograph is so beautifully executed. The color is magnificent, with the cobalt blue sky in the background and the warm light on the lion. The composition is perfect. Yet underneath all that beauty is a message: Lions are in trouble. Joel Sartore has devoted himself to photographing animals out of balance, endangered, crying for a voice."
—Chris Johns, Editor in Chief

We've heard it all it's go for Iran

Anyone with half a memory will find what is now being said about Iran, and the reasons to take out the country's nuclear capability, is much the same rhetoric used before the attack on Iraq and Afghanistan.    Seymour Hershdoes remember........

"While the United States, Britain and Canada are planning to announce a coordinated set of sanctions against Iran’s oil and petrochemical industry today, longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh questions the growing consensus on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. International pressure has been mounting on Iran since the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in a report the "possible military dimensions" to Iran’s nuclear activities, citing "credible" evidence that "indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." In his latest article for The New Yorker blog, titled "Iran and the IAEA," Hersh argues the recent repo…

Out-sourcing the US PR "machine"

Startling revelation that the US is funding a third party - to the tune of millions of dollars - namely GE, to whitewash the image of dictators in Central Asia.    FP has the "story" in "Propagandastan"....
"When people read a news website, they don't usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America's foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight "influence websites" funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant com…

The US isn't winning friends in the Middle East

Despite all the rhetoric from the Obama Administration that it supports the so-called Arab Spring - now presently again in full swing, as demonstrated in Egypt - a survey shows that the US is essentially on the nose in the Middle East.

"Despite repeated expressions of support by President Barack Obama for democratic change during the "Arab Spring", the United States remains widely distrusted in the region, according to a major new survey of public opinion in five Arab countries released here Monday.

Instead, Turkey is viewed as having played the "most constructive" role in the past year's events and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emerged as the most admired leader by far in the region, according to the 2011 edition of the annual "Arab Public Opinion Survey" conducted by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution.

The survey, which was conducted during the last half of October, was based on detailed interviews of some 3,000 respondents…

Forget about Fox News (er, what news?).....

No comment called for.    Confirmation of what informed opinion has said for some time.
"A new survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that viewers of Fox News are less informed about world events than people who do not watch any news. The study found viewers of Fox are 18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government six points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government compared to those who watch no news. Fairleigh Dickinson political science Professor Dan Cassino said, "The results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

Who's on the decline and falling......

Roger Cohen, regular op-ed columnist in The New York Times reflect on the occupy movement and more importantly which nation is in the decline and falling - and where, and with whom, wealth seems to reside.     It's an interesting reflection by an American.
"Over in Europe, dreams are also unraveling. In France, according to a Pew Research Center survey, only 27 percent of the population now believes that “our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior.”

I haven’t read such depressing news in a long time. When humility overtakes French culture, it’s over, folks.

French culture is superior. Just consider the cut of a Chanel suit, the sweep of the Champs Elysées or the line of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s brow. It’s obvious — to everyone except the doom-struck French, apparently.

Here in the United States, according to the same survey, 60 percent of Americans over 50 believe “our culture is superior.”

I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: the new French modesty or an old U.S. delusi…

No, there isn't a Plan B

Shake your head at the irresponsibility of the rich nations on this world of ours at planning to sit on their collective hands in postponing taking any action in relation to climate change.

"Governments of the world's richest countries have given up on forging a new treaty on climate change to take effect this decade, with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment through global warming.

Ahead of critical talks starting next week, most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and that even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate it could not come into force until 2020.

The eight-year delay is the worst contemplated by world governments during 20 years of tortuous negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions, and comes despite intensifying warnings from scientists and economists about the rapidly increasing dangers of putting off prompt action.

After the Copenha…

The people speak!

As the world watches events unfold in Egypt there is not doubting that the general populace has, once again - remember events back in February this year? - made Tahrir Square the focus in which to demonstrate......

Bottled water sales targeted to the poor

We all know that Nestle targeted the poor in Africa to sell its canned milk products rather than have women breast feed.  Now it, and its fellow large multinationals, are flogging bottled water to minorities - who neither really need it, let alone can afford it.

"Water is the lifeblood of this planet, whose inhabitants are watching its accelerated spiral into crisis mode even as they struggle to address the issues and lifestyles that are stretching the earth's resources thin.

Outwardly, the global water crisis appears straightforward - people simply consume too much water. A key factor in this spiral is the fact that water has been morphing from a natural resource into a marketable - and costly - product, experts and reports have shown.

Exploring different aspects of the global water crisis, from privatisation of water to corporations marketing to minorities, reveals that water - as a human right, as a product, as a natural resource - is firmly entangled with a host of issues…

Sadly, all too true!

Credited to Pat Bagley

Shooting the messenger.........

Don't like what the newspaper publishes or the TV shows or the radio broadcasts?    In dictatorships they simply shut 'em down.   Not in democracies, right?     Well, the country regularly touted as the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel,  has just shut down a radio station dedicated to promoting peace.   Yes, you read that correctly!
"Israel has ordered the shutdown of a dovish Israeli-Palestinian radio station, officials and the station's operators said on Sunday.

The station and other critics said the move was politically motivated, and part of a broader assault on democracy by conservative forces in the government.

Some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition have pushed forward a series of measures recently that critics say are aimed at stifling opponents.

Among the proposed legislation are attempts to block most foreign funding for dovish nonprofit groups, lowering the threshold for politicians to file libel suits against the media, and …

And Obama has the temerity to lecture Europe?

Yes, there are manifold problems confronting many countries in the European Union.   That said, it hardly lies in the mouth of Obama to lecture the Europeans about getting their economic and financial houses in order.    What about looking outside the White House at what is happening with and to his own people?    The stats revealed in this New York Times piece make for truly frightening reading.
"They drive cars, but seldom new ones. They earn paychecks, but not big ones. Many own homes. Most pay taxes. Half are married, and nearly half live in the suburbs. None are poor, but many describe themselves as barely scraping by.

Down but not quite out, these Americans form a diverse group sometimes called “near poor” and sometimes simply overlooked — and a new count suggests they are far more numerous than previously understood.

When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of nation…

Those nukes in Iran?

Seymour Hersh is a respected investigative reporter with TheNew Yorker.    He once again takes up the question of whether Iran does have nuclear weapons in the light of the recent IAEA Report.

"I’ve been reporting on Iran and the bomb for The New Yorker for the past decade, with a focus on the repeatedly inability of the best and the brightest of the Joint Special Operations Command to find definitive evidence of a nuclear-weapons production program in Iran. The goal of the high-risk American covert operations was to find something physical—a “smoking calutron,” as a knowledgeable official once told me—to show the world that Iran was working on warheads at an undisclosed site, to make the evidence public, and then to attack and destroy the site.

The Times reported, in its lead story the day after the report came out, that I.A.E.A. investigators “have amassed a trove of new evidence that, they say, makes a ‘credible’ case” that Iran may be carrying out nuclear-weapons activities. T…

Whither the EU?

The old European Union didn't work, that much has been made clear by the ongoing debt crisis. But many in Europe think there is now a clear path to a new, more integrated -- and smaller -- bloc. What must happen first? Greater democracy and less nation-state sovereignty.
Der Spiegel International take up the question here.

A different perspective on Syria

In all the hype, PR and hyper-ventilating about Syria, it is hard to know what the true facts really are.   The President is probably widely disliked, but enough for all the unrest and now for the last 8 months or so the widespread violence and deaths of over 3500 people?    And where does the Arab League and the West stand in all of this?   Is this the ramp up to another Libyan "exercise" as we saw a few months ago?

A different perspective from LD, Land Destroyer Report:

"The "Free Syria Army" is literally an army of militant extremists, many drawn not from Syria's military ranks, but from the Muslim Brotherhood, carrying heavy weapons back and forth over the Turkish and Lebanese borders, funded, supported, and armed by the United States, Israel, and Turkey. The latest evidence confirming this comes in the form of a report out of the International Institute for Strategic Studies where Senior Fellow for Regional Security at IISS-Middle East Emile Hokayem o…

US airport x-ray machines nixed by the EU

Hooray!   The Europeans have, for once, stood up to the Americans, and banned the use of the US type x-ray machines / body scanners at European airports - for health and medical reasons.

"The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners in European airports, parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed hundreds of the scanners as a way to screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing.

The European Commission, which enforces common policies of the EU's 27 member countries, adopted the rule “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”
As a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation detailed earlier this month, X-ray body scanners use ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and cause cancer. (photo: Quinn Dombrowski)

As a ProPublica/PBS NewsHour investigation detailed earlier this month, X-ray body scanners use ionizing radiation, a form of energ…

How Britain "protects" its young unemployed. Not!

It looks like the Brits have gone back to the dark ages or attempted to resurrect the days of Charles Dickens and child-labour.   It certainly looks like government supported exploitation of the young unemployed for the benefit of employers.   Yet another example of the powers that be just not getting it!   
"Britain's jobless young people are being sent to work for supermarkets and budget stores for up to two months for no pay and no guarantee of a job, the Guardian can reveal.

Under the government's work experience programme young jobseekers are exempted from national minimum wage laws for up to eight weeks and are being offered placements in Tesco, Poundland, Argos, Sainsbury's and a multitude of other big-name businesses.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that if jobseekers "express an interest" in an offer of work experience they must continue to work without pay, after a one-week cooling-off period or face having their benefits docked.


Cosying up to the Israel Lobby

US elections are in the air.   The Israel Lobby has to be kept on side, no matter what.    Forget about the interests of the US, foreign policy considerations and let alone how the rest of the world might be affected by Israel's and America's actions or policies.

"In Saturday night's Republican debate, Mitt Romney gave a defiant statement about Iran: he will stop it from getting nukes by any means, Obama won't. Yesterday Obama sought to parry Romney, saying that he is taking no option off the table.

Are we witnessing a primary between Romney and Obama right now, for the support of the Israel lobby?

I think so. Romney's braintrust includes neocons like Robert Kagan and Dan Senor, while David Brooks, David Frum and Bill Kristol have all said good things about Romney. Dennis Ross and Stuart Levey have both left the Obama administration, hurting his standing in the Israel lobby. Don't forget, the lobby defected from Bush to Clinton in '91 over settlements; …

One really, really big winner.....and lots and lots of losers

And you wonder that there is an Occupy Wall Street movement!    When will governments wake up that spiking the citizenry - and especially the most vulnerable in society - is just not on.   In the case of the  situation here (below) one might have thought that the Obama Administration would have been sympathetic to its constituency.
"Late last month, a national backlash forced Bank of America to abandon its plan to charge customers $5 a month to use their debit cards. But Huffington Post reports that the corporation has quietly been mining other sources of fees, preying on its most vulnerable customers to rake in millions in revenue:
Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank’s business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequ…

Fly......but bring cash to pay for the fuel

What can one say?

"Passengers on a flight from India to Britain claim they were forced to fork out more than £20,000 in cash to pay for fuel to allow the plane to complete the journey.

According to BBC reports, more than 180 passengers on a chartered Austrian Comtel Air flight from Amritsar to Birmingham were stranded on the tarmac in Vienna during a refuelling stop after being told the airline "ran out of cash to fund the last leg of the trip".

Passengers said the airline then threatened to remove their luggage from the plane if they did not pay up.

The passengers refused to get off the plane in a six-hour standoff.

The dispute was finally resolved when Austrian police were called and the passengers were escorted to ATMs to withdraw cash."

Obama again shows his true colours. He supports the use of cluster bombs

There is just no stopping Obama.    The man's hypocrisy knows no bounds.     Everything of virtue, and what was decent, he espoused before being elected has been broken.    And now it's the use of cluster bombs by the USA.

"Slightly more than two months after he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama secretly ordered a cruise missile attack on Yemen, using cluster bombs, which killed 44 innocent civilians, including 14 women and 21 children, as well as 14 people alleged to be “militants.” It goes without saying that — unless you want Rick Perry to win in 2012 — this act should in no way be seen as marring Obama’s presidency or his character: what’s a couple dozen children blown up as a part of a covert, undeclared air war? If anything, as numerous Democrats have ecstatically celebrated, such acts show how Tough and Strong the Democrats are: after all, ponder the massive amounts of nobility and courage it takes to sit in the Oval Office and order this type…

Great! Just what we need. A new type of war

There is just no way of stopping those who look upon war as some sort of game.    Never mind the death, destruction and mayhem caused to thousands of people.    On top of that hasn't the world seen enough armaments already around the world? 
Now, it's cyberspace being harnessed too and brought into play - as The Washington Post reports.
"The Pentagon is prepared to launch cyberattacks in response to hostile actions that threaten the government, military or U.S. economy, according to a new policy document submitted to Congress this week.

The report, obtained by The Washington Post, is the most detailed document so far from the government on its emerging cyberwarfare program, and it warns that adversaries attempting cyberattacks against the United States “would be taking a grave risk.”

Yet it remains silent on a number of important issues, such as rules of engagement outside designated battle zones and whether neutral countries would be consulted before their systems were use…

Hero's wife says it bluntly. Zionism has run its course

Heroes don't much greater than Moshe Dayan - that one-eyed Israel general, and then Cabinet minister, with an eye patch.  He has been dead for many years now, but his widow has been blunt in her observations about Israel.    For her Zionism has "run its course".

"Elegantly dressed and perfectly made up, Ruth Dayan, 95, receives me with a wide smile in her Tel Aviv home overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The charismatic, alert, and extremely intelligent Dayan is the widow of Moshe Dayan, legendary chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces and a key leader in the war of independence in 1948. Indeed, Moshe Dayan was transformed into a symbol of national strength during the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The Israelis felt invincible with this imposing figure at the helm. Having lost his eye in battle, he chose to wear a black eye patch, which became his trademark. In the years since his dea…

Twitter....for snoops to read

You might have thought that your social networking contacts and "conversations" are private.    Think again.    Now a court has even determined that a well-known twitterer's messages - those of no lesser person than an Icelandic parliamentarian - must be turned over by Twitter to the US Department of Justice.

"Many of us who use the internet – be it to write emails, work or browse its growing landscape: mining for information, connecting with others or using it to organise ourselves in various groups of the like-minded – are not aware of that our behavior online is being monitored. Profiling has become a default with companies such as Google and Facebook. These companies have huge databases recording our every move within their environment, in order to groom advertising to our interests. For them, we are only consumers to push goods at, in order to sell ads through an increasingly sophisticated business model. For them, we are not regarded as citizens with civic rig…

Nuns were there well before OWS

Here is something one doesn't usually associate the Catholic Church with.     Nuns actively doing, for years now, what the Occupy Wall Street movement has just started.

"Not long ago, an unusual visitor arrived at the sleek headquarters of Goldman Sachs in Lower Manhattan.

It wasn’t some C.E.O., or a pol from Athens or Washington, or even a sign-waving occupier from Zuccotti Park.

It was Sister Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. And the slight, soft-spoken nun had a few not-so-humble suggestions for the world’s most powerful investment bank.

Way up on the 41st floor, in a conference room overlooking the World Trade Center site, Sister Nora and her team from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility laid out their advice for three Goldman executives. The Wall Street bank, they said, should protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase its transparency and remember the poor.

In short, Goldman should do God’s work— something that its chairman and c…

Terror and revenge in post NATO Libya

There, that's done!    Mission accomplished with the death of Gadaffi.   NATO packs its bags and goes home with more than self-satisfaction and back-slapping about its achievements in Libya.    Sad to say the reality in Libya post NATO's departure is anything but positive, as this piece on CounterPunch clearly shows.
"The “new Libya” has entered its own “Terror” which is spreading inexorably, aided by NATO member states including American, French and British SAS units known locally as “disappearance squads”. This is one of the rapidly developing consequences of the UN’s rush to “protect Libya’s civilian population” last spring."

"One of the fortunate language usages in this part of the world is the liberal transliteration tolerances applied to Arabic which helps those challenged by the language.  As is widely known there are many ways to write Arabic words in roman characters and most are accepted.  But one has to listen carefully in Libya these days to grasp…

Media's lockstep march to war with Iran

One might have thought - no, hoped! - that the media would have learned not to simply parrot the PR spewed out by Governments about the threat from various countries (think, Afghanistan and Iraq) and unquestionally support their country going to war.    The New York Times is a god example of showing unstinting support for the US attacking Iraq.

"When Washington goes to war or threatens it, America’s media march in lockstep, cheerleading. Fiction substitutes for fact.

News is carefully filtered, dissent marginalized, and supporting imperial belligerence substitutes for full and accurate disclosure.

As a result, patriotism means going along with rogue policies. Never mind rule of law principles and democratic values. Free and open societies are risked. So is humanity if belligerents overstep.

The IAEA Iranian nuclear program report stirred a hornet’s nest of inflammatory commentary, no matter the agency’s fabricated contents. Previous US intelligence assessments refuted them, includin…