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Showing posts from November, 2012

The next hotspot in the world

Don't think that as the year draws to a close that 2013 might be a "quieter" one around the world.    Reading this piece in The Atlantic ought to give anyone a jolt that we are going to be looking at another hotspot in the next little while.

"If you're worn out worrying about Syria, Gaza, Iran, you name it, I give you: the announcement today by police on China's large southern island of Hainan that, starting on January 1, they will assert a right to stop and board any vessel they consider to have violated China's very expansive claim of territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Take a look at this rendering of the area over which China asserts territorial sovereignty. More details below, but the red line encloses what China considers its own sovereign area; the blue shows Vietnam's claims; the purple shows those of the Philippines; the yellow is Malaysia's; and the green is from Brunei."

Continue reading here.

Do you have any idea how HUGE it is?

To say that Amazon is a behemoth company is an oxymoron!     But have a look at this photo (and others here) to get some idea of how large the facilities where Amazon operates actually are.

"Ethnic cleansing" in Myanmar

In the headlong rush to court Aung San Suu Kyi and the so-called more liberal regime in Myanmar(formerly Burma) - including President Obama dropping in for a short visit the other day - what has been described as "ethnic cleansing" in the country, has been largely relegated to only the occasional report in the media.      The New York Times details the nature and extent of what is going on in "Ethnic Hatred Tears Apart a Region of Myanmar".

"The Buddhist monastery on the edge of this seaside town is a picture of tranquillity, with novice monks in saffron robes finding shade under a towering tree and their teacher, U Nyarna, greeting a visitor in a sunlit prayer room.

But in these placid surroundings Mr. Nyarna’s message is discordant, and a far cry from the Buddhist precept of avoiding harm to living creatures. Unprompted, Mr. Nyarna launches into a rant against Muslims, calling them invaders, unwanted guests and “vipers in our laps.”

“According to Buddhist teac…

They're in!

Not surpisingly, the UN overwhelmingly voted for the admission of Palestine to the UN with Observer State status.    It is shameful to think that the move was either opposed (and these are the countries which voted against - Israel, United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau) - or that 41countries, most likely intimidated or coward by the Israel/Jewish lobby, abstained.

What does it mean?     From Australians for Palestine, the ramifications, as explained by Professor of International Law in Chicago:

"This can be the start of a 'Legal Intifadah' by Palestine
against Israel:

1. "Palestine can join the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court
and file a Complaint with the ICC against the illegal settlements and
settlers, who are committing war crimes;

2. "Palestine can join the Statute for the International Court of Justice,
sue Israel at the World Court, and break the illegal siege of Gaza;

3. "Palestin…

Petraeus comes out swinging

Time for a reality check

Just reflect on what the USA and Israel are seeking to do as part of their resistance - nay, rank opposition - to the Palestinians securing Observer State status at the UN.  That is almost a certainty to succeed.    But, the USA and Israel want to curb what they see might impact on them with the Palestinians at the UN.    It all sounds like game-playing a la the schoolyard.   We are talking about human beings in all, of this leave aside international law and civil discourse and humanity between all peoples (hello United Nations!) in this world of ours.

"After failing to head off a vote in the United Nations on Thursday that would upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status, the United States and Israel are looking ahead to how they can contain the damage from the approval of a resolution that even some European allies have signaled they will support.

The draft resolution calls on the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state.…

Justice (#2)

A visitor looks at pictures of Argentina's disappeared covering a wall of the the former Argentine Navy School of Mechanics.
Being brought to justices comes good in prosecuting those involved in all those people who "disappeared" or were simply murdered during the 1976-1983 military junta in Argentina.    The Sydney Morning Herald provides the background in "Argentina's Dirty War trial begins". "A trial involving almost 800 cases of human rights abuses during Argentina's 1976-1983 military junta is under way, chronicling the use of torture and murder during the dictatorship. The trial in Buenos Aires, "was, is and will be the largest trial of crimes against humanity" in Argentina, said the rights lawyer Rodolfo Yanzon.
The trial, documenting 789 abuse cases, is the largest in the South American nation since 2003. It is being held in a packed Buenos Aires courtroom, presided over by Judge Daniel Obligado, as rights activists outside waved sig…

Justice (#1)

What in heaven's name do the Americans think they are doing?    Yes, Bradley Manning may be awaiting trial, but he isn't some sort of dangerous criminal.     But, look how they are treating him - as detailed in this report in The Guardian.

"Military commanders at the marine base in Quantico in Virginia kept Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks suspect, on extreme suicide-prevention measures because he engaged in "erratic dancing" and played peek-a-boo, the soldier's court martial has been told. The measures were likened by the UN to torture.

Daniel Choike, who was commander of the Quantico marine base between 29 July 2010 and 20 April 2011, when Manning was held there, said he had agreed to keep the soldier on a restrictive "prevention of injury" (PoI) order because of his "erratic behaviour, poor judgment in the past and poor family relationships".

The PoI order involved Manning being held in his cell for 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, …

A French perspective on guilt and innocence

Being an African, or black, in France is mostly not a happy position to be in.   All too sadly the severely disadvantaged position in which Africans find themselves, has led to a host of ramifications.   Who can forget the street riots which spread across Paris a few years ago.?

One young African got caught up with the riots - with, initially, devastating consequences, as reported here on France24.

"Almost exactly five years ago, riots in Paris’ suburb of Villiers-Le-Bel shattered the dreams of Mara Kanté, a then-20-year-old Frenchman who hoped to make football his career. Accused of attempted homicide against a police officer, he was imprisoned for 29 months, 11 of which he spent in solitary confinement. Ultimately acquitted, the young man shares his story in a new book*. He tells FRANCE 24 more about the judicial error that wasted over two years of his life.

On November 25, 2007, in the Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, two boys named Moushin and Laramy (15 and 16 years old, resp…

A timely call from some heavy-weights

Whether the timing is coincidental or not - for today the UN will vote on whether to admit the Palestinian Authority to observer status similar to that enjoyed by the Vatican - 58 luminaries, including Nobel Peace Laureates, have called for a boycott of Israel because of its assault on Gaza.  These are not people to be lightly dismissed or whose voices ought not be heard - and whose advice ought not be followed.     The Guardian reports.....

"A group of Nobel peace prize-winners, prominent artists and activists have issued a call for an international military boycott of Israel following its assault on the Gaza Strip this month.

The letter also denounces the US, EU and several developing countries for what it describes as their "complicity" through weapons sales and other military support in the attack that killed 160 Palestinians, many of them civilians, including about 35 children.

The 52 signatories include the Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esqu…

A blunt email

“Dear All Three,

With last evening’s crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for which you seem to treat your mother like a cess-pit, I feel it is time to come off my perch.

“It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.”

Crews continued: “I wonder if you realise how we feel — we have nothing to say which reflects any credit on you or us. Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped — but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting.”

Then he turned to his grandchildren. “So we witness the introduction to this life of six beautiful children — soon to be seven — none of whose parents have had the maturity and sound judgment to make a reasonable fist at making essential threshold decisions. ...

“The predictable result ha…

True sea change.....

The light blue areas show the reach of seawater into New York City at a rise of 25 feet. From truthdig: "The New York Times on Sunday published a series of maps showing coastal and low-lying areas in the United States that could be permanently flooded as sea levels rise in the coming decades and centuries.

Major metropolitan areas on the country’s seaboards appear with toggleable settings showing the intrusion of the oceans at various levels of predicted elevation, using data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. At a rise of 25 feet, Charleston, S.C., is predicted to be 80 percent flooded; Miami Beach, New Orleans and Atlantic City 100 percent underwater; and New York City 39 percent submerged, with large portions of all five boroughs gone, including much of Manhattan below 34th Street.

None of this could be called “good” news, but many cities in the West are expected to make out relatively well. An estimated 13 percent of Seatt…

Yes, yes, yes! They will make peace

One might be forgiven for thinking, based on what is around in the media and general commentary, that Hamas does not want peace with Israel.  Not true! - as this piece "Mashaal: I accept a Palestinian state on '67 borders" in a no-lesser newspaper than The Jerusalem Post clearly shows.  

"Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared a position on Palestinian statehood that is nearly identical to that of his Fatah rival, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview with CNN aired Wednesday.

"I accept a Palestinian state according [to] the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return," the Hamas leader told Christine Amanpour in Cairo.

"After this state is established, it decides its standing toward Israel," the Hamas leader said.

Mashaal, whose interview appeared to move his positions closer and closer toward the positions of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority with whom Israel has conducted numerous round of …

Where is our humanity?

Sara Roy is senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.  She has written a superb op-ed piece in The Boston Globe, worth reproducing here in full.

"Between February 2009 — just after the Operation Cast Lead onslaught — and August 2012, Israeli attacks in Gaza, averaging six per week. They came by aircraft, helicopter gunships, drones, and tanks throughout Gaza; the confiscation of, or damage to, fishing boats and the detention and arrest of fishermen; attacks on industrial, farm, and food production facilities; and military ground incursions.

The current crisis is framed in terms devoid of any real context. The issue goes far beyond which side precipitated the terrible violence that has killed innocents on both sides. The issue — largely forgotten — is one of continued occupation and blockade, a grossly asymmetrical conflict that has deliberately and systematically disabled Gaza’s economy and people.

The Gaza Strip is now in its 46th year…

The new pharoah on the Nile?

Credited to Daryl Cagle

A timely reprise on Petraeus........

Oh how Washington and all the hangers-on lionised the man.    Perhaps with 20-20 hindsight the uber-hyped General (Petraeus)wasn't all that much chop at all.   TomDispatch puts things into clear focus in "The Fall of the American Empire (Writ Small)"

"History, it is said, arrives first as tragedy, then as farce. First as Karl Marx, then as the Marx Brothers. In the case of twenty-first century America, history arrived first as George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and the Project for a New American Century -- a shadow government masquerading as a think tank -- and an assorted crew of ambitious neocons and neo-pundits); only later did David Petraeus make it onto the scene.

It couldn’t be clearer now that, from the shirtless FBI agent to the “embedded” biographer and the “other other woman,” the “fall” of David Petraeus is playing out as farce of the first order. What’s less obvious is that Petraeus, America’s military…

The severe plight of the Syrians - in and outside the country

What with the Hamas-Israel conflict having dominated the headlines in the last little while, the ongoing war in Syria has almost receded into the background.   All too sadly the plight of the Syrian people continues unabated both in the war-torn country as well as for those who have fled to other countries - as The New York Timesreports.    The numbers suffering, in one way or the other, is huge.

"More than 400,000 people have fled Syria, and 1.2 million have been driven from their homes within the country, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Some 2.5 million people need humanitarian assistance, and the number keeps climbing. The United Nations said it had reached only one million of them.

But efforts have also been hampered by lack of resources. The United Nations is seeking some $487 million for refugees across the region, of which about 35 percent has been collected.

“The capacity of the international donor community to support the crisis is not happening at the same…

British newpapers. In need of being coralled?

With newspapers literally dying around the world, one would hope that those which survive would maintain at least some modicum of standards.       Certainly some of the British press - notably those in the Murdoch stable - has been in the gun for its unethical conduct.   The whole subject of press freedom, etc. is once again in discussion.

"Will Hutton, writing in The Observer, says the “precious freedom of speech of an individual is different from the freedom of speech of a media corporation with its capacity to manipulate the opinions of millions.”

Hutton argues that the phone hacking and general stench of British rags such as those owned by Rupert Murdoch signal a need for new regulation.

Yes, freedom of speech is the great Enlightenment gift that comes with the freedom to dare to know and to challenge. But it is not a charter for systematic character assassination by powerful media organisations that offer no right of reply, nor redress for mistakes.

The precious freedom of spee…

One could rightly wonder

Credited to Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

And the winner was.....Hamas

Whatever the Israeli PM may have declared - and Israelis thought - the Israeli press has declared that the winner out of the singularly unfortunate recent "war" between Hamas and Israel was Hamas.   Der Spiegel OnLine International reports in "Israeli Press Declares Victory for Hamas".

"If you believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Gaza offensive, which just came to a halt as a result of the Wednesday evening ceasefire agreement, was the jewel in the crown of his political career. "We need to navigate this ship of a state in stormy waters with responsibility and wisdom, that's how a responsible government acts," he said in praise of himself during a statement to the nation on Wednesday. "We've executed a military action but also stayed open for a diplomatic solution."

His comments were anything but brief, but the message was not a complicated one: Israel won, in part due to the brilliance of the prime minister. A lead…

Is the "Industrial Internet" coming to you?

The boundaries of technology are being pushed daily.....and whether to everyone's benefit is questionable.   With the intrusions into daily life so rampant, how much more technology "involving" our lives do we really need, let alone want?    The New York Times reports on the new moves afoot in the world of the internet.

"Ms. Paul is one of more than 250 engineers recruited in the last year and a half to G.E.’s new software center here, in the East Bay of San Francisco. The company plans to increase that work force of computer scientists and software developers to 400, and to invest $1 billion in the center by 2015. The buildup is part of G.E’s big bet on what it calls the “industrial Internet,” bringing digital intelligence to the physical world of industry as never before.

The concept of Internet-connected machines that collect data and communicate, often called the “Internet of Things,” has been around for years. Information technology companies, too, are pursuing …

America attempts to "export" illegality

As is often said, the USA is the first to "lecture" other countries on how they must establish democratic values, human rights, the Rule of Law, etc. etc.     BUT, as all too frequently, the Americans speak with a forked tongue.     The latest example, as detailed by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, is the USA's attempt to "export" indefinite detention of people, without charge, a-la the American model, to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"For several decades, the US government - in annual "human rights" reports issued by the State Department (reports mandated by the US Congress) - has formally condemned nations around the globe for the practice of indefinite detention: imprisoning people without charges or any fixed sentence. These reports, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her preface to last year's document, are grounded in the principle that "respect for human rights is not a western construct or a uniquely American ideal; it is t…

Heading for the climate change cliff

AlterNet in conjunction with give a more than timely warning - in relation to 5 new Reports which prove that if we don't take our heads out of the sand immediately, we'll be in really hot water.

"This just in: The planet is screwed. Well, if you ask Bill McKibben (and you should) we still have a fighting chance. But that’s only if we actually start fighting. This week proved a holiday downer with multiple reports coming in about how quickly we're losing the battle to stave off the effects of catastrophic climate change."

Go here, on AlterNet, to read about the 5 Reports.

The USA's "great" home land security

The whole "industry" which has grown up around the world post 9/11 intended to save people from "terrorism" is, in many instances, nothing more than a joke - only that the costs involved are often huge.  All travellers know what an intrusion it is.   The latest idiocy - hello, public servants at Homeland Security! - in the USA, as revealed by ProPublica.

"Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.

DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general’s office was actually able to …

In Gaza, it's the (wretched) occupation, stupid!

Not surprisingly there is a lot of commentary and analysis on the Hamas-Israel "war" during last week, and now, the cease-fire.  Who was the winner?, have the dynamics and politics changed?, how did Obama "do? vis-a-vis Netanyahu?, etc. etc.    One of the better pieces of analysis comes, not surprisingly, from Amy Goodman, writing on truthdig.

“The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation,” award-winning Israeli journalist Gideon Levy summed up this week. It is that simple. This latest Israeli military assault on the people of Gaza is not an isolated event, but part of a 45-year occupation of the sliver of land wedged between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, where 1.6 million people live under a brutal Israeli blockade that denies them most of the basic necessities of life. Without the unwavering bipartisan support of the United States for the Israeli military, the occupation of Palestine could not exist.

At the time of this writing, the overall Palestinian …

Meanwhile back in Congo.....

The world is quick to "ignore" Africa even if there are famines, floods, wars and massacres going on in one of the countries making up the large continent.   Then again, one rarely reads or sees any reports from Africa, good, bad or indifferent. 

Things are grim in the Congo, as this report "In Congo, UN troops prove useless again" on from Congo so painfully reveals.

"The uselessness of UN peacekeeping troops is yet again being witnessed by the world — or at least that tiny fraction of the planet that cares what happens in the endlessly exploited and chronically invaded Congo.

Africa’s World War, as it is known — an estimated 5 million dead, most succumbing to the cascading effects of conflict, displacement, malnutrition, disease and poverty — formally came to an end in 2003, with armies from half a dozen meddlesome neighbouring countries withdrawing their forces.

Paramilitaries, however, stayed put, retreating into the thick jungles that surround majo…

President Morsi: Man of the moment

"The biggest winner from this hard-fought agreement is Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's new president. The Islamist leader has deftly juggled sympathy for Hamas with Egypt's strategic national interests and helped to produce a breakthrough that, for the moment, can only enhance his role as a key regional player – and underline the difference between him and the overthrown Hosni Mubarak. Lavish praise from the US and even Israel was a mark of what looks like being one of the most substantial changes of the Arab spring."

OK< a cease-fire has been put in place between Hamas and the Israelis.     There are no winners in any armed conflict, although each side has declared itself the winner.  One person has shown himself to be a winner is the new Egyptian President Morsi - as the piece from The Guardian, above, suggests.

An American perspective on how a relationship was forged between the US and Egypt emerges from a piece "Egypt’s Leader Is Crucial Link in Gaza Deal" in…

France....the ticking time-bomb in Europe?

Credited to John Berkeley/Alamy - The Economist

Things may have quietened down, to a degree, in Europe, but this piece "The time-bomb at the heart of Europe" in The Economist suggests all is not well - especially, for the French.   
"The threat of the euro’s collapse has abated for the moment, but putting the single currency right will involve years of pain. The pressure for reform and budget cuts is fiercest in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, which all saw mass strikes and clashes with police this week. But ahead looms a bigger problem that could dwarf any of these: France.

The country has always been at the heart of the euro, as of the European Union. President François Mitterrand argued for the single currency because he hoped to bolster French influence in an EU that would otherwise fall under the sway of a unified Germany. France has gained from the euro: it is borrowing at record low rates and has avoided the troubles of the Mediterranean. Yet even before May, whe…

Reflections on the Hamas-Israel battle (s)

The guns may have been silenced, for now, between Gaza and Israel, but the wanton death, destruction and carnage remains.      In all likelihood, unless something is done, and soon, to remedy the on-going and underlying issues between the Palestinians and Israelis, all too sadly another "war" will doubtlessly break out again.

In this piece, from Sabbah Report, the writer reflects on the battle between Gaza and Israel in Operation Cast Lead, its consequences and how the politicians, outside the Middle East, looked upon it all.

"In 2009 when Israel’s 22-day blitzkrieg was over, nearly 1,400 Palestinians had been wiped off the planet of whom four-fifths were civilians and 350 children, and over 5,000 wounded.

Israel had destroyed or damaged 58,000 homes, 280 schools, 1,500 factories, water and sewage installations and 80 percent of agricultural crops. The cost to Gaza’s civilian infrastructure was estimated at $660 to 900 million while the total economic cost was put at $3 to…

The usual catchcry. The "war on terror!"

Robert Fisk, at his best, writing in The Independant.

"Enough is enough. Now we have even “National Infrastructure” Minister Uzi Landau – one of my favourite dogsbodies in the Israeli government – talking about “collateral damage” and the justification for bombing Hamas’s broadcasting station. It could be used for transmitting military instructions, he said.

But wasn’t that exactly what our own beloved Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara – now, I suppose, Lord Blair of the Holy Land – said after Nato bombed the Serb television station in Belgrade, when Nato, too, was blathering on about “collateral damage”?

We Westerners set the precedents in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq – trains, bridges, TV stations, wedding parties, blocks of civilian apartments, you name it – and now the Israelis can trot along behind and produce, whenever necessary, the same tired list of excuses we invented for Nato.

It’s odd, the way they all get away with it. Lord Blair, whose 92 Business Class trips to th…

Go Home on Time Day - Today!

Overworked?   Long days?  Weary? - or even depressed?    Join a large group of workers.    One solution......perhaps........

"Today is a very special day: in fact some people say it is the most important day on the entire calendar, and yet many people are ignorant of its existence, despite our claims to be a "Christian" country.

It is Go Home On Time Day, the day when folk of all races, colours and creeds unite in their heartfelt desire to leave work at the pre-determined end of their working day. It is a day for goodwill, for family, and for reflection on what it truly means to be going home on time."

In stark contrast, there is this:

Blankfein (Goldman Sachs CEO): "You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some o…

Unfettered access to and reading one's emails

It might be the US Senate which is to consider a Bill allowing for wide and almost unfettered access to and reading of one's emails, but you can be sure that if passed similar provisions will become the norm in other countries.

"A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Revised bill highlights

✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signe…

From drones to even worse. Killer robots!

As if the ever-increasing use of drones wasn't bad and evil enough, now comes news of killer robots being in the pipeline.  Needless to say wiser heads, a la Human Rights Watch and Harvard's Law School have called for these futuristic "vehicles'" of death and destruction to be banned.

"The predator drone – an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – is one of the relatively new lethal weapons used by the United States for targeted killings of suspected terrorists, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

And since it is unmanned and remotely controlled, the drone does not risk the lives of U.S. soldiers.

But the weapon has increasingly come under fire because of the collateral damage in the spillover killings of innocent civilians, including women and children.

On Monday, a report jointly published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) has warned of an even more deadly weapon: killer robots.


Flyers Note: Not very comforting news!

Ouch!     If this is correct - and there is no reason to doubt it - then stepping onto a plane ought be a matter for grave concern.   TravelMole reports in "Four in 10 pilots 'fall asleep at controls'" on what one would hope (and pray?) isn't widespread amongst airlines around the world.

"Four out of 10 UK pilots have fallen asleep while flying an aircraft, a new survey has revealed.

The report, carried out on behalf of the European Cockpit Association (ECA) which represents pilots across the EU, also revealed that a third had woken up to find their co-pilot asleep as well.

Now the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is warning that current proposals by the European Aviation Safety Agency to introduce the same working hours for pilots across the EU will make the situation even worse as they are more permissive than those already in place in the UK.

More than half of the 6,000-plus pilots who were questioned for the ECA survey said their performance had b…

Sadly, all too true

Credited to Fiona Katauskas, Eureka

Yes, it is possible to deliver up a balanced report

Robert Fisk can run rings around most journalists "reporting" from the Middle East.  Not only has Fisk been a respected journalist and writer living in the area (Beirut actually) for upwards of 30 years, he has met just about all the main "players" over the years.    As a veteran reporter he has the perception to report without fear or favour - most likely upsetting some in the process.    Fisk's latest piece for The Independent "As Israel and Hamas open the 'gates of hell' in Gaza, all the journalistic cliches of war are here again" - 'Surgical air strikes', 'rooting out terror', and 'cyber-terrorism' cannot conceal reality on the current war" in on the war between Hamas and Israel.

"Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Here we go again. Israel is going to “root out Palestinian terror” – which it has been claiming to do, unsuccessfully, for 64 years – while Hamas, the latest in “Palestine’s” morbid militia…

The serious ramifications from an attack on Iran. We will all suffer!

To think that the fallout and ramifications from any attack on Iran would be limited to that country, or the ones around it, is naive in the extreme.    The ripples, on all sorts of levels, would be considerable, as this piece "U.S. Escalation Against Iran Would Carry High Cost for Global Economy" on Inter Press Service so clearly articulates.

"The world economy would bear substantial costs if the United States took steps to significantly escalate the conflict with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, according to the findings of a Federation of American Scientists’ (FAS) special report released here Friday.

Based on consulations with a group of nine bipartisan economic and national security experts, the findings showed the effects of U.S. escalatory action against Iran could range from 64 billion to 1.7 trillion dollars in losses for the world economy over the initial three-month term.

The least likely scenario of de-escalation, which would require U.S. unilate…

Massive aid and support

It will not have escaped anyone who is following the current Palestinian/Hamas-Israel tit-for-tat shooting and bombing match that the Israelis have the undivided and unequivocal support of the Americans.    That extends to the extensive fire-power vested in the Israelis - enabling it to pound and pulverise Gaza with impunity.       In a piece "5 Ways America Enables Israel's Atrocities" AlterNet lists 5 things which enable Israel to act as it does.     The weaponry supplied to Israel is one of those 5.

"Israel can’t carry out a decades-old, belligerent military occupation and siege without having the tools to do so. And the U.S. obliges Israel, day in and day out.

Every year, the American government delivers about $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel. That money is sent to Israel with the stipulation that they must use the money to buy American weaponry, so that aid gets recycled back into the U.S. military-industrial complex. These weapons include the F16s bombing…

Woman's senseless, shameful and tragic death

Oh, when will politicians consider the welfare of their constituents, especially women, and put to one side their own prejudices and religious considerations?    There can be little doubt that women are usually the "losers" when politics intrude into daily life.   Take the example of the Indian woman, in Ireland, so graphically reported, here, in The Toronto Star.

"For three days, Savita Halappanavar suffered agonizing pain, asking repeatedly that a 17-week-old dying fetus be removed from her body.

For three days she lay in a hospital bed getting sicker and sicker, until eventually she succumbed to septicemia.

While it sounds like a scene from the Dark Ages, this is what happened to Savita, a 31-year-old Indian immigrant living in Ireland, last month.

Everyone wants to know how could such a thing happen in a modern 21st-century nation. In a society much like Canada’s, with the same values, language, health and social structures.

That’s the question medical, legal and ethica…

Watch and listen to the posturing and lop-sided perspective

That Tony Blair has been useless as an envoy in the Middle East so-called peace process seems almost beyond question.

Watch and listen to Blair in this interview on AlJazeera.    Note how the Israelis have suffered "deaths" whilst the Palestinians have had "casualties".   Also the perspective  clearly on display is obviously Israel-centric.   This is supposed to be a mediator.

No mention of Israel's targeted deaths in Gaza, the constant drones over Gaza, extra-judicial killings and the breaches of international law by the Israelis or the justification for the ongoing blockade of Israel - which means limited amounts of food being permitted into the territory and the 3 km blockade to Gazans fishing for food, etc. etc. 

Climate change coming your way.......

The naysayers may scoff and challenge the claim, but no lesser authority than the The World Bank has declared that it is, now, that something needs to be done to arrest dramatic climate change.

"The World Bank has warned the planet is on track to warm by four degrees Celsius this century - causing increasingly extreme heat waves, lower crop yields and rising sea levels - unless significant action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In a major report released ahead of the year-end United Nations climate summit in Qatar, the bank says changes associated with four degrees of warming would have dramatic and devastating effects on all parts of the world, including Australia, but that the poor would be most vulnerable.

Scientists say global warming must be kept within two degrees of pre-industrial temperatures to give the world the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

The report – a snapshot of the most recent climate science prepared for the bank by the Pots…

No honest broker present here

Diplomacy is one thing.....but on one hand asserting and claiming some sort of honest-broker role, yet being seen to be partisan, to the extreme, is an entirely different thing.

How on earth the Americans can be viewed as mediators, interlocutors or honest-brokers in the present Gaza-Israel conflict is difficult to see.    In fact, it's impossible!

Take this partisan position as but one example.....

"In this handout provided by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro hold a press conference as they visit the Iron Dome battery on November 18, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Israeli's have died since conflict began a few days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as hundreds of targets were hit in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. More then 240 rocket attacks were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Ambassador Dan Shapiro said "If there's a more meaningful contribu…

Funny, how they are all now saying he was a phony "hero"

Now that the "great" General (you know, David Petreaus) isn't that great anymore, it is "interesting" how many stories about this flawed man are now emerging and how he wasn't anything like the army-man or tactician he was made out to be.    One has to wonder who is responsible for putting the man on the pedestal he was.    Another revelation in The New York Times about "the man" now comes to light - or the "phony hero" as the writer describes him.

"And now comes “Dave” Petraeus, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. No matter how good he looked in his biographer-mistress’s book, it doesn’t make up for the fact that we failed to conquer the countries we invaded, and ended up occupying undefeated nations.

The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all. This is what the public and the news media — lamenting the fall of the brilliant hero undone by a taw…