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Showing posts from October, 2012

Going for Iran

Some critical background details to the evident desire of the Americans - despite the protests otherwise - to go after and cripple the Iranians.    Of course, the Israelis are clearly in the background geeing on the US to join in on attack on Iran - a country now much severely affected by the sanctions in place against it.

"When the Bush-Cheney administration was in power, Dick Cheney tried hard to find an excuse for military attacks on Iran. After all, according to Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from 1997 to 2000, Cheney and other hawks had plans for attacking and destroying seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa over five years in order to transform them into U.S. client states, and he wanted to “accomplish” as much as possible before leaving office. Various options were considered. As reported by Seymour Hersh, in late 2007 the Bush-Cheney administration received congressional approval for its request for $400 million to launch maj…

Lesson #101 on how not to retrench employees

UBS just has to in the running as the #1 employer in showing how not to retrench employees.

"Dozens of traders at UBS's offices in London learned in the worst way that they had lost their jobs when they turned up to work to find out that their security passes no longer worked at the turnstile.

The traders - many of them from the Swiss banking giant's fixed income department - soon discovered they had been put on two weeks special leave as part of UBS's plans to cut 10,000 staff in a retreat from fixed income.

As more turned up for work queues began to form at the bank's doors until some took refuge instead in the Railway Tavern pub nearby.

"I came into the office at twenty to seven, my pass didn't work so a beefy bouncer took me to the lift, where a different beefy bouncer was waiting for me," said one trader in the Railway Tavern, next to Liverpool Street station in the heart of the City of London financial district.

"I came straight here. Well not…

Devastating hurricanes........but not in the USA

The media is full of the effects of the hurricane Sandy on New York and other parts of America.    That it has been devastating cannot be doubted.    But what is significant - and such clear evidence of how the media is so very West-centric, especially in reporting on countries such as the USA, the UK and a handful of other countries - that other countries have in the last days also suffered greatly from hurricanes which have slammed into them.    The Philippines, Haiti and Vietnam.  

"As Hurricane Sandy lashes the East Coast of the United States with wind and rain, Southeast Asia is dealing with the trail of death and damage from a powerful storm that has killed at least 30 people in the region over the past few days.

Tropical Storm Son-Tinh was moving northeast along the northern Vietnamese coast on Monday after tearing the roofs off hundreds of houses and breaching flood defenses overnight, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported."


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"The storm had already …

Romney: Disaster relief "immoral"

Now this will take some explaining away in the light of the wide-spread devastation wrought by hurricane Sandy.....

"Newly Moderate Mitt has been forced to clarify what Severely Conservative Mitt meant when he called federal spending on disaster relief  "immoral" during a primary debate. With the entire northeast being threatened by the monster storm, Mitt has been forced to say that he doesn't really want to abolish FEMA .

“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”

What that statement doesn't clarify is how states and localities could possibly be able to maintain their abilit…

One truly ginormous landlord

From Fact the Facts USA:

"Move over, Donald Trump and Ted Turner. The Department of Defense is the world’s top property owner with holdings around the world – a fact relevant amid election-year debate about the size and role of our military.

In the United States alone, DOD occupies 1.9 billion square feet of office space – about three times the floor space of all the nation’s Walmart stores, or 10 times the office space in all of Los Angeles. Worldwide, DOD has more than 2 million people working on 5,000 sites in 41 countries. (Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has 1.4 million workers.)

Go here to view relevant videos........


Creating foes everywhere

We are going to have get used to the widespread use of drones - especially by the USA.    The impact, not all positive by any means - and clearly illegal - cannot be under-estimated.  

"What makes Obama's drone wars so important is that they are right at the centre of foreign policy in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Drones were used by George W Bush between 2004 and 2008 on a smaller scale, but their mass use since is not just the fruit of technical developments or tactical convenience.

One of the most important changes in world politics over the past decade is that the US has failed to win two wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan, despite deploying large and vastly expensive land armies. Equally telling, these failures were against relatively puny forces of guerrillas. For American hardliners and neo-liberals these wars were designed to lay the ghosts of Vietnam and Somalia, enabling the open use of US military might, but they turned out to be Vietnam a…

CEO's put in a bid. More money please!

Breathtaking in its audacity.    But who is going to stand up to these creeps?

"A coalition of over 80 CEOs have launched an aggressive lobbying campaign aimed at fixing the economy - the one they've spent years stiffing and screwing up - with so-called "pro-growth reform” aimed at making themselves even richer and the rest of us, well, you know. Fix The Debt wants to cut programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and credits for working families and provide - yes! - more corporate tax breaks and tax haven accounting tricks because they've already helped us so much these last few years. They call this "a common-sense solution." Alternet has the ten biggest hypocrites - the likes of General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt, and their wondrous tax rate of just 2.3% on $80 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits."

Hurricane Sandy: Freak or caused by climate change?

There can be little doubt that Hurricane Sandy, now "taking on" the US East coast, is certain to be devastating in its effect.    One critical question that surely needs to be asked is whether the storm is an aberration or an outcome of climate change.

 "Much of the East Coast is shut down today as residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that could impact up to 50 million people from the Carolinas to Boston. The storm has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean, where it battered Haiti and Cuba. 

"This thing is stitched together from elements natural and unnatural, and it seems poised to cause real havoc," says Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. New York and other cities have shut down schools and transit systems. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next day.

Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland. The megastorm comes at a time when President …

No golden dawn for the people of Greece

With people in large numbers coming out to protest austerity-measures now rather commonplace in many countries across Europe, a fertile ground for the growth of far-Right groups is rife.   Greek now sees a very vibrant, and frighteningly popular, far-Right group, Golden Dawn making a dramatic impact on the country.   It's all to reminiscent of Germany in the 1930's.  The Guardian reports in "Fear and loathing in Athens: the rise of Golden Dawn and the far right".

"You can hear it from blocks away: the deafening beat of Pogrom, Golden Dawn's favourite band, blasting out of huge speakers by a makeshift stage. "Rock for the fatherland, this is our music, we don't want parasites and foreigners on our land…"

It's a warm October evening and children on bicycles are riding up and down among the young men with crew cuts, the sleeves of their black T-shirts tight over pumped-up biceps, strolling with the stiff swagger of the muscle-bound. They look r…

Is Iran going toward Iraq Mark II?

More than food for thought.......

"If you were in Baghdad for the shock and awe of March-April 2003, any image of the inferno on the banks of the Tigris has the power to stop you in your tracks.  

There was another this week, illustrating a cautionary tale on how the West is repeating the same mistakes that led to a disastrous war in Iraq, as it now flexes more muscle than imagination over what's going down in Tehran.    

That the piece, in Foreign Affairs, is co-authored by Rolf Ekeus should stop us all in our tracks. After his years in the squeeze between Washington and Baghdad, the silver-haired former Swedish diplomat's ''been there, done that'' savvy is instructive as, almost a decade after the invasion of Iraq, he detects an eerie similarity in the policy web in which Tehran is mired.      

A director of the international program to disarm Iraq after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Ekeus sees the same strategy unfolding - sanctions and isolation, espionage…

Trump trumped (again!)

Adam Zyglis, Cagle Cartoons, The Buffalo News

It's always the poorest who are hardest hit

One might have thought that climate change would be an equaliser in how it effects all people on this planet of ours.    Not so, as this piece from Inter Press Service so clearly highlights.

"Currently about 8.9 percent of this South Asian island nation’s 21 million people (that is, Sri Lanka) live below the poverty line.

Of these, according to Abha Joshi-Ghani, head of the World Bank’s Urban Development and Local Government Unit, “the poor in urban areas are likely to be affected more by the changing climate patterns. They are the most vulnerable because they live in sensitive areas, on precarious land where no one else will settle.”

The British-based charity Homeless International estimates that 12 percent of Sri Lanka’s urban population of about three million can be found in slums."

US election: All that money swilling around

To those outside America seeing all that money being spent on the upcoming presidential election is astounding.    More sinister, though, is the money swilling around in the  background from so-called Super PACs and the influence they seek to exert on the outcome of the election.

"The Super-PAC October Surprise is here with unprecedented negative spending – and an overwhelming advantage for conservative shadow money groups flooding the airwaves against Democratic candidates.

Total non-party outside spending is now estimated by the Center for Responsive Politics to exceed over $1 billion this cycle—twice what the group estimated would be spent as recently as August. And dark money spending from non-disclosing groups has just passed $200 million in this election—more than every other election cycle over the past 20 years combined.

If you think the political ads are uglier than ever before, it’s not your imagination: 88% of the ads airing now from outside groups are negative, and four…

Time to stop being a slave to technology!

Who isn't feeling a degree of disquiet about being so much harnessed to technology?  Computers, tablets and smartphones to name a few examples.    And then there are all the seemingly all-pervading social networks a la Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.

"Every morning Mark Pesce resists the urge to dive into the digital world without turning his mind to meditation.

As a technology futurist and author, he has every reason to do otherwise. Yet he admits you can't expect to survive without regular time out in a world where the pace of innovation keeps increasing.

This week two names that have come to dominate people's lives rolled out new products - Apple launched the iPad mini, only six weeks after it released the latest iPad and iPhone, and Microsoft launched its latest, and possibly last, operating system, Windows 8.
It seems gadget-obsessed consumers just can't get enough.

Advertisement 
Australia ranks fourth in the world behind South Korea, Japan and Sweden for active mo…

UN Expert: Boycott Companies Profiting from Israeli Settlements

Needless to say the usual suspects, the USA, Canada and Israel, have slammed the messenger - meanwhile totally ignoring the substance of his observations - but the UN Special Rapporteur, a recognised professor in international law, has unequivocally castigated Israel for its breach of international and humanitarian law in allowing businesses to profit from operating in the West Bank.

"Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, has called for a boycott of businesses profiting from the Israeli occupation Thursday.

Falk made the comments in his annual report to the U.N. General Assembly citing Caterpillar Incorporated of the United States, Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom, the Dexia Group of Belgium, Ahava of Israel, the Volvo Group of Sweden, the Riwal Holding Group of the Netherlands, Elbit Systems of Israel, Hewlett Packard of the USA, Mehadrin of Israel, Motorola of the USA, Assa Abloy of Swede…

"Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America’s Prisons."

The West, and the Americans in particular, are always keen to criticise other countries for their alleged breaches of human rights, barbaric imprisonment, etc. etc.   Some introspection might be called for...as this piece from the ever-superb Democracy Now so clearly shows.

"Shane Bauer was one of three Americans detained in 2009 while hiking in Iraq’s Kurdish region near the Iranian border. He and Josh Fattal were held for 26 months, and Sarah Shourd — now Bauer’s wife — was held for 13 months, much of it in solitary confinement. Seven months after being freed from prison in Iran, Bauer began investigating solitary confinement in the United States. Now, in his first major article since his release for Mother Jones magazine, Bauer finds California prisoners are being held for years in isolation based on allegations they are connected to prison gangs. In his first live television interview since his release, Bauer joins us to discuss his report."



A tragedy in Iraq......ignored in the USA

What could be more scandalous than the US media simply not reporting on the tragedy of what has befallen the people of Fallujah in Iran.      The Guardian, in the UK, reports in "The victims of Fallujah's health crisis are stifled by western silence".

"Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.

Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, Fallujans have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city. Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".

In the years since the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movemen…

The USA ramps up the use of drones.......

Military might, and yet more lawlessness on show, as the US continues to ramp up the use of drones in countries like Pakistan.    Just reflect on what the Americans would be saying, and doing, were say, Castro or Chavez to employ drones over the USA.

"Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the…

Looking beyond the bombing in Sudan

Like a bully-boy totally unconstrained by any regard for international law, it seems that the Israeli were behind the bombing in Sudan.  Leaving aside that one simply can't have countries going around into other countries and committing what are clearly terrorist acts - it's called lawlessness  and a clear breach of the United Nations Charter - it is suggested that the Israelis had reasons of their actions beyond the simple bombing.

"Israel maintained its official silence on Thursday over Sudan’s accusation that the Israel military was behind an air attack that destroyed a weapons factory in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, early Wednesday.

But senior Israeli officials spoke openly about what they described as Sudan’s destabilizing role in the region, accusing it of serving as a transit point in a weapons supply route from Iran via the Sinai Desert to Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and other places like Lebanon.

Israeli newspapers splashed reports from Sudan on their fr…

Romney and the neo-conservative cabal around him

Stephen Walt, writing in his blog on FP, about the third debate between Obama and Romney, questions the apparent moderation of Romney when his advisers are all neo-cons.   Walt asks what is it with these neo-cons?

"But Romney's sudden lunge toward moderation raises the following obvious question, which Bob Schieffer (and the president) didn't ask:

"Governor, you maintain that you're a tough-minded, smart manager who knows how to pick good people. If so, why are you taking foreign policy advice from all those discredited neoconservative retreads? There are some sensible voices in your foreign policy brain trust, but also an awful lot of people who played key roles getting us into Iraq and generally screwing up our entire international position. Why in God's name are you listening to them?"

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"Neoconservatism's final strand of twisted genius is its imperviousness to contrary evidence. Because most of their prescriptions are so extreme, they can …

Aaaah.......Money!

Credited to Fiona Katauskas, New Matilda

Who is the deficient one here?

Some people will never learn.......

"When the repulsive troll and attention whore known as Ann Coulter took to Twitter after the last debate to call Obama "the retard" - and when called on it doubled down - someone who "was bullied as a child by people like you" had had enough. John Franklin Stephens, a 30-year-old Special Olympian with Down syndrome, wrote her an open letter way smarter, kinder and memorable than she will ever be.

"Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor...No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much."




Yes.....Israelis accept that they live in an apartheid State

When others, amongst them one-time US president, Jimmy Carter, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu accused Israel of being, or at least becoming, an apartheid State, the Israeli Government was apoplectic and trotted out the usual accusation of both men being anti-Zionist or anti-semitic.

Well, the Israelis have now spoken....and it makes for more than "interesting" reading.   The Independent reports (published below, in full).

"A new poll has revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that the Jewish State practises "apartheid" against Palestinians, with many openly supporting discriminatory policies against the country's Arab citizens.

A third of respondents believe that Israel's Arab citizens should be denied the vote, while almost half – 47 per cent – would like to see them stripped of their citizenship rights and placed under Palestinian Authority control, according to Israel's liberal Haaretz newspaper, which published the poll's findings ye…

Lost and missing in that (Third) Debate!

It is a generally accepted fact that Americans are insular and fairly ignorant, and disinterested, about anything outside their borders.    It is therefore of interest to consider this last debate between Obama and Romney which was to headlined to "discuss" foreign policy issues.   One might fairly say, oh yes?

"Debates are more about scoring points than elucidating problems, just as presidential elections turn more on perceptions of character than on policy promises. But even so, Monday night’s American presidential debate on foreign policy presented a skewed vision of the world, even one defined by American national interests.

Iran was mentioned more than 45 times, Israel and China more than 30 times each, Afghanistan 29 times and Mali at least four times. NATO was not uttered, and Europe was referred to only once — in a list of allies read off by President Obama — and the euro and its crisis were not mentioned at all.

Mitt Romney did, however, state twice that he would…

A tribute to a man (and politician) who told the truth

The death of George McGovern brings to mind his pungent and truthful statement about the Vietnam War.   Today's politicians would do well to reflect on what McGovern said.   It applies with equal force to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - and, indeed, everywhere that politicians send young men and women into combat zones.

"A fond and respectful farewell to George McGovern - war hero, peace activist, prairie populist, fierce and tireless truth-teller, "the most decent man in the Senate," in Robert Kennedy's words, who stunned his bellicose colleagues when they refused to end the Vietnam War by charging they were responsible for "these blasted and broken boys" who had come home, adding, "I'm tired of old men dreaming up wars for young men to fight...This chamber reeks of blood." With the great Johnny Rivers singing what became the elegiac (and still timely) theme song for McGovern's 1972 Presidential campaign, which gave us hope.

When the …

"The decider" in the Oval office

Glenn Greenwald writing in "The remarkable, unfathomable ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz -The Chair of the Democratic National Committee is completely unaware of one of the biggest stories of the Obama years" in The Guardian:

"On 29 May 2012, the New York Times published a remarkable 6,000-word story on its front page about what it termed President Obama's "kill list". It detailed the president's personal role in deciding which individuals will end up being targeted for assassination by the CIA based on Obama's secret, unchecked decree that they are "terrorists" and deserve to die.

Based on interviews with "three dozen of his current and former advisers", the Times' Jo Becker and Scott Shane provided extraordinary detail about Obama's actions, including how he "por[es] over terrorist suspects' biographies on what one official calls the macabre 'baseball cards'" and how he "insist[s] on app…

Russia: An Opposition in a parallel universe

Politics a la Russian style...with an Opposition, so-called, operating in a somewhat enigmatic and unorthodox parallel universe.

"If Russia is, as Winston Churchill said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, then it is time to add another layer. In the past year or so, a parallel universe has sprung up in the country, one catering to the tens of thousands of Russians who have banded together to oppose the continuing rule of Vladimir Putin.

They have their own media. They read the weekly magazine Bolshoi Gorod, watch the hip independent TV channel Dozhd, and listen to the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy. They go to their own cafes, peopling tables at the French-style bistro Jean-Jacques. On Friday nights they can be found at Mayak, a smoky bohemian stronghold, and on Saturday nights they go to Zavtra to hear each other DJ from their iPods.

Now, they have their own mini-democracy. On Monday night, the opposition wrapped up three days of voting for a 45-member "coord…

On the agenda for debate?

As Obama and Romney ready themselves for their (third) debate in the next hours, Stephen Walt, writing on his blog on FP, raises a number of questions he believes ought to be discussed - but probably won't be!   Watch out whether they will be, and if so, how they were answered.

"What would I like to ask Obama and Romney at tonight's debate? Before I get to that question, let's start with the rather revealing list of selected topics. They are:

1. America's role in the world

2. Our longest war -- Afghanistan and Pakistan?*

3. Red lines -- Israel and Iran?*

4. The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism

5. The rise of China and tomorrow's world

Well, if I were European or Latin American I'd be feeling mighty dissed. No discussion of the Euro crisis? Europe was the focus of U.S. strategy for most of our history, and now it doesn't even rate a mention in the presidential debates? NATO or Greece might make a cameo appearance here and there, but what'…

A matter of perspective

Credited to Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

The poignancy of the "loss" of a mother to Alzheimers

Mike Carlton writes a weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald and is also a broadcaster.    The week before last he wrote, poignantly, about his mother turning 90 - but her "loss" to him because of her Alzheimer's.

"My mother turns 90 today, but she probably won't know it. Alzheimer's disease and the onset of nameless fears have hollowed out what was a lively and humorous mind. My brother tells me that when I go to see her in the nursing home near Brisbane this weekend there is every chance she will not recognise me, her firstborn child. If she does, she will not remember the visit five minutes after I have left.

Her life has no quality to it. She has no knowledge of her five grandchildren and one great grandson. Once she was a voracious reader and a keen gardener and knitter, but all that is beyond her now and she is too frightened and confused even to turn on the TV. We had to take her telephone away because she was running up huge bills making the same …

Quack! Not even Romney's Mormons support him

It doesn't get much more direct than this.....when Romney's constituency, the Mormons, call him out for his BS and endorse Obama.

"Citing an agenda "bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust," even his natural constituency - the Mormons - have had enough of Romney's Etch-A-Sketch BS. In a brutal editorial endorsing Obama, the Salt Lake Tribune blasted Romney's "shape-shifting...with breathtaking aplomb" to win at any cost.

"From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: 'Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?'

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words…

You can always rely on Fox (News?)........

Credited to Daryl Cagle, Cagle Cartoons

Speaking up for justice

The stench surrounding George Bush and Tony Blair and their war crimes - as also those of  John Howard of Australia - just won't go away.    It is a travesty of injustice and something for which Obama stands condemned, that he did not seek to prosecute George Bush, and his cohorts, for their war crimes in relation to Iraq.

"In November 2011, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, in which Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, led the prosecution team, convicted Bush and Blair of crimes against peace and humanity, and genocide over their roles in the Iraq war.

On May 11, 2012, the tribunal also found Bush, former US Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld guilty of the crime of torture.

“We will keep after Bush and Blair for sure for crimes against peace, war crimes and torture in general,” Boyle told Press TV in a recent interview.

“We got them both convicted of a Nuremberg crime against peace,” he …

Winning a Nobel Prize

The responses of this year's recipients of a Nobel Prize....

"Some of the winners of this year's Nobel prizes tell us how they heard the news and how it will affect their lives and research.

"Could it be someone is pulling your leg? That has happened before … You have to be a little bit cautious."

John Gurdon was skeptical on hearing that he had won for his work on cloning frogs.
"I thought it was some friends, initially. But I don't have friends that have a really good Swedish accent, so then I started believing it."

Voice analysis helps Brian Kobilka, who works on the chemistry of cell receptors, digest that call from Sweden.

"As I walking in the street with my wife. I was just caught by … the call on my cellular phone. I saw the code '46' for Sweden … I could not believe it.

Quantum physicist Serge Haroche realizes that phone numbers can provide a useful reality check.

"When I started doing my work 40 years ago, there was still huge s…

Calculating and measuring how to stop people starving.......just!

Scandalous, and a sore reflection on a country which, as a nation which claims to to "live by the Book", is forever telling the world it has the most moral Defence Force in the world and is a "light unto the Nations", it is now confirmed that Israel has deliberately calculated what amount of food the Gazans could have so that they wouldn't starve.    
"Under court order, Israel has released a report showing the military set nutritional "red lines" to decide how much food to allow into the Gaza Strip between 2007 and 2010 under the blockade so that Palestinians would survive but not starve. The document, released after a long legal battle by the advocacy group Gisha, shows that food imports to Gaza were cut by nearly 75 percent, from 400 trucks a day to often less than 100 under the blockade. Britain's National Health Service estimates the average man needs 2,500 calories to maintain his weight and a woman requires 2,000; Israel dictated 2,27…

Ban on a book (about Gitmo) in America?

It very much looks like a book, written by a former detainee at Gitmo, David Hicks, is not available in the USA due to censorship being alive and well in America.

"People might remember the name David Hicks. He is an Australian who was held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007. In 2010 he published an autobiography entitled Guantanamo: My Journey. Reportedly the book details the years of torture he underwent while in the custody of the US military. Sounds like a book you might want to read. But strangely, it does not seem to be for sale in the U.S. Barnes and Noble does not list it at all. Amazon, conversely, does list it for sale— at its Kindle Store —but at the very spot on the page where we’d expect to see the “Buy Now” button, we find instead a notice reading, “This title is not available for customers from: United States.” Amazon also has a used hardcover copy for sale—only one—but it is available at the outrageous price of $105.15.

Hicks’ publisher is Random Hous…

Russia back to the old days

Putin's Russia is once again taking on the mantle and life of the old Soviet era.    Then again it must not be forgotten that Putin is an ex-head of the notorious KGB.

"As members of the Russian punk-rock band Pussy Riot appeal their two-year prison sentence for a political protest in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a pale of repression is settling over their country. This crackdown is wrapped in legislative garb, but the iron grip of authoritarianism is unmistakable.

Vladimir Putin’s tightening of the screws is a part of a broader pattern, which includes a return to confrontation with the United States and NATO. The United States must specifically recognize that its “reset” policy of see no evil, hear no evil has contributed to the trampling of human rights in Russia.

Moscow is cozying up to China, supporting the Assad regime in Syria and ignoring the Iranian nuclear race. The Kremlin is hard at work to create a sphere of influence along its periphery and a “pole” in…

That was no "eyeball to eyeball"

Aaah, how to soup history or rewrite it.    Can anyone around at the time forget the so-called Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and how the Soviets and Americans were said to have come almost eyeball to eyeball.    It seems it wasn't quite that way at all.    

"In the latest volume of his acclaimed biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert A. Caro repeats a long-standing but erroneous myth about the Cuban missile crisis. Drawing on early accounts of the crisis, he describes a confrontation on Oct. 24, 1962, between American destroyers and Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles to Cuba. According to Mr. Caro, the Soviet vessels were “within a few miles” of the blockade line, but turned away at the last moment.

This was the moment when Secretary of State Dean Rusk, by his own account, uttered the most memorable line of the missile crisis: “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

The “eyeball to eyeball” imagery made for great drama (it features in the 2000 …

What or who terrifies more?

Credited to Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

There (yet again!) go more olive trees......

The Israelis yet again showing their ugly side.    And what is the world doing or saying?   Virtually nothing! - other than the occasional very quiet tut-tutting.
"Today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a fact sheet on the Palestinian Olive Harvest, which typically takes place in October and November. The olive harvest is also a period of increased settler violence and intimidation against Palestinians trying to access their land.

Here is a summary from the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

Nearly half (48%) of the agricultural land in the oPt is planted with 8 million olive trees; the vast majority are in the West Bank. 
The olive oil industry makes up 14% of the agricultural income for the oPt and supports the livelihoods of approximately 80,000 families.
The number of Barrier gates increased to 73 in 2012 but the majority (52) are closed year round, except for the olive harvest period and only then for limited hours
In 20…

An appalling "legacy" of the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq

Scandalous, and something to make those who waged war on Iraq, stand condemned.   George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard ought to be hauled before an international tribunal to stand trial for crimes against humanity.   The very sad fact is that what is happening to the people of Iraq - as detailed below - will get scant coverage in the media.

"US and UK weapons ammunition were linked to heart defects, brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs, according to a recent study. The report revealed a shocking rise in birth defects in Iraqi children conceived after the US invasion.

Titled ‘Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,’ the study was published by the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. It revealed a connection between military activity in the country and increased numbers of birth defects and miscarriages.

The report, which can be found here, also contains graphic images of Iraqi children born with birth defects. (The im…

True journalism put to the test

As Obama and Romney are back at it debating this week, Glenn Greenwald, writing in The Guardian, reflects on the moderator of the recent Biden-Ryan debate, and more importantly, what true journalism is.

"Numerous commentators (including me) were complimentary of the performance of Martha Raddatz as the moderator of Wednesday night's vice-presidential debate. She was assertive, asked mostly substantive questions, and covered substantial ground in 90 minutes. That's all true enough, but the questions she asked reveal something significant about American journalism in general and especially its pretense of objectivity.

For establishment journalists like Raddatz, "objectivity" is the holy grail. In their minds, it is what distinguishes "real reporters" from mere "opinionists" and, worse, partisans. As they tell it, this objectivity means they traffic only in straight facts, unvarnished by ideology or agenda. This journalistic code obligates them t…

So much for free, unfettered and democratic voting

People like the Koch Brothers in the USA will doubtlessly scream from the rooftops about how their country is a bastion of democracy, "free" elections, the rule of law, etc. etc. - so long as it is on their terms.

The revelation of their latest egregious behaviour is utterly appalling.    They stand condemned.

"Much has been written about the owners of Koch Industries, brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, trying to control the political process through hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to right-wing causes and candidates. Now, an In These Times investigation reveals that the billionaires have broken out another tactic to influence the 2012 elections: attempting to control their workers’ votes.

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mit…

The (continuing) devastating use of landmines

One might have hoped that the use of landmines had ceased.    But no, the Arab Spring has seen a resurgence in their use.    And people are still being killed and maimed.    The Independent reports.....

"The landmine belongs to another era – or so many of us like to believe. We think of it as an evil all but consigned to history by the entreaties of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a Nobel prize-winning campaign for a ban. But after years of steady decline in the number of casualties, the numbers harmed by landmines is on the rise again.

In 2010-11 at least 4,191 people were maimed or killed by landmines, the first increase in the annual toll for seven years. Of these, at least 1,155 died of their injuries. This year is expected to be even worse.

The events of the Arab Spring have contributed to this, with Syria, Libya and Yemen all laying new mines. Last year the confirmed use of mines by state forces reached its highest level since 2004. In Libya alone, there were 184 casualties fro…