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Showing posts from October, 2013

Shamefully, no-show Congressmen or women

"I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don't fly when sky is grey." –Zubair Rehman, 13-year-old drone victim
It is all very well killing people in the name of combating terrorism when employing drones, but when it comes to hearing the effect of such attacks on innocent people, the US Congress was shamefully absent to hear their account of what they experienced.




"Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother.  (Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters).

Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that kil…

America's most "beloved" War Criminals

Reflecting on this piece on "America's Most Beloved War Criminals" on truthout, it is not difficult to ask why it is that so many former leading politicians in the USA appear to have become almost immune from being brought to account - or at the very least severe criticism - for either their immoral conduct (think Madeleine Albright) or even their war criminality (hello  Henry Kissinger!).    It will be recalled that the late Christopher Hitchens wrote a well researched and scathing assessment of Kissinger and his criminal acts

".....(There) is a recurring pattern in American political life. Those who serve as secretary of state, the supreme Cabinet position in American government, are almost wholly exonerated for their roles in the foreign policy disasters of the administrations in which they served, despite having almost unrivaled influence over decision making.

Examples are abundant. Consider the case of Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under President Bill …

Obama x-rayed

Bill McKibbin, well-known activist in relation to fighting climate change - and Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and co-founder of 350.org. - suggests that what Obama does with regard to the Keystone XL pipeline, puts the US president squarely under an x-ray.

"As the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has worn on -- and it’s now well over two years old -- it’s illuminated the Obama presidency like no other issue. It offers the president not just a choice of policies, but a choice of friends, worldviews, styles. It’s become an X-ray for a flagging presidency. The stakes are sky-high, and not just for Obama. I’m writing these words from Pittsburgh, amid 7,000 enthusiastic and committed young people gathering to fight global warming, and my guess is that his choice will do much to determine how they see politics in this country.

Let us stipulate at the start that whether or not to build the pipeline is a decision with profound physical consequences. If he approv…

The utterly bizarre situation of the USA at UNESCO

Now this absolutely bizarre.   Here is the USA supposedly acting as the honest broker in the Palestinian-Israel peace talks, yet it refuses to pay its dues to UNESCO.   Why?  Because the Palestinians have applied for membership of UNESCO.    So now the Americans risk being relegated to observer status at UNESCO - the same position the Palestinians occupied.

"As Halloween approaches and Washington's dance macabre, that three-step of sequester, shutdown, and debt, grinds to a temporary halt, the dead hand of Yasir Arafat is reaching out from the grave to yank the United States into a foreign policy disaster hardly anyone has heard of.

Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is about to give the United States a dishonorable discharge (the US could lose its vote at the Unesco general conference). Why? Because America has failed to pay its membership dues. The world's top power is effectively being booted out of the world's top soft pow…

Refugee numbers at their highest in 19 years

The horror stories about refugees either dying trying to get to Europe or living there in appalling conditions are well known - as also the appalling, and disgraceful way in which Australia is treating those seeking asylum.     Like it or not the UN has just released figures to the effect that the number of refugees are at their highest for 19 years.   AlJazeerareports....

"The UN says there are now more refugees than at any time since 1994. Thousands of asylum-seekers, mainly from Afghanistan and the Middle East, head to Indonesia each year to make the dangerous voyage across the Indian ocean to Australia.

They are seeking a new life, fleeing war, political unrest, and poverty.

The influx of asylum-seekers is a major political issue both in Indonesia and Australia, particularly as Indonesia has not signed up to the 1951 UN Refugee convention and does not have to accept refugees.

Australia, on the other hand, is a signatory.

The asylum-seekers pay thousands of dollars to people smugg…

Whither the US in the Middle East

At last, the Americans are talking with the Iranians - as are other countries and the EU.   Not before time!    However, in the ever-odd scheme of things in the Middle East, both Saudi Arabia and Israel aren't happy about these turn of events.    So?

"Some of America's Middle Eastern allies are reportedly not very happy with the United States these days. I refer, of course, to Saudi Arabia and Israel, who are troubled by U.S. discussions with Iran and upset by Obama's reluctance to plunge head-first into the Syrian quagmire. But those of us with a more strategic view of U.S. interests in the Middle East may welcome these developments, as they contain the kernel of a more flexible and effective approach that may be emerging.

Let's start with U.S. interests. The United States has at most three strategic interests in the Middle East. First, we want Persian Gulf oil and gas to continue to flow to world markets. Hydraulic fracturing notwithstanding, a major disruption i…

Forget about using antibiotics

This ought to be of grave concern to everyone.......we are out there on our own without antibiotics.   And all caused by ourselves!

"We’ve reached the limits of medicine’s effectiveness. Thanks to overmedication and the abuse of antibiotics in the agriculture industry, there are infections that can no longer be treated with antibiotics. And there’s nothing left to do except maybe hope for the best.

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, an associate director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we now live in a post-antibiotic era in which drug-resistant bacteria are invincible. In an interview this week on PBS, Srinivasan discussed how we got to the point at which patients who could once be cured by an antibiotic are now left without any options. Srinivasan notes that for a while some media have been speculating whether the “end of antibiotics” was nigh. Now, the doctor says, “You can change the title to ‘The end of antibiotics, period.’ ” Willy Blackmore, food editor o…

Australia's ex-PM said what?

The ex-Australian PM, Julia Gillard, really deserves condemnation if she was serious when making this statement when speaking at the Centre for American Progress in Washington the other day....

"Ms Gillard, addressing the think tank, said she supported Mr Obama's pivot strategy.

Amid reports of American spies monitoring the phone of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Ms Gillard joked that she was not worried if the United States listened to her telephone.

"If my telephone was intercepted when I was prime minister, all that anybody would have heard would have been praise for president Obama," Gillard said."

How nauseating!    And just reflect on how Angela Merkel has responded to her private mobile having been the subject of eavesdropping.

NSA Chief goes out on a (very far) limb

Glenn Greenwald - who has been so instrumental in getting the Edward Snowden material out there - in his latest piece for The Guardian dealing with the furore in Europe resulting from the revelations of snooping on no lesser person than Angela Merkel, raises a number of interesting questions.    Troubling is the revelation of the demand made by the NSA's head.....

"Can even President Obama and his most devoted loyalists continue to maintain, with a straight face, that this is all about Terrorism? That is what this superb new Foreign Affairs essay by Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore means when it argues that the Manning and Snowden leaks are putting an end to the ability of the US to use hypocrisy as a key weapon in its soft power.

Speaking of an inability to maintain claims with a straight face, how are American and British officials, in light of their conduct in all of this, going to maintain the pretense that they are defenders of press freedoms and are in a positio…

Who (and how) killed Michael Hastings?

Michael Hastings was idolised by those who respected independent and fearless journalism and journalists - and doubtlessly hated by the powers-that-be for his exposures of a variety of things they would rather not have seen the light of day.   Think, amongst other things, the revelations relating to US General McChrystal, and his downfall, resulting from Hasting's initial piece in Rolling Stone and then a book.

The death of Hastings earlier this year not only shocked the world but raised the clear suspicion that he was, in effect, assassinated.     Read on.....

"Early in the morning on June 18, a brand new Mercedes C250 coupe was driving through the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue in Hollywood when suddenly, out of nowhere, it sped up. According to an eye-witness, the car accelerated rapidly, bounced several times then fishtailed out of control before it slammed into a palm tree and burst into flames, ejecting its engine some 200 feet away.

A witness, Jose Rubalcalva, …

The fallout in Europe from American snooping.....

Writing a commentary in The International New York Times on the US spying on Angela Merkel, Roger Cohen says that the Germans call Handyuberwachung.

The Americans have clearly goofed here - and don't appear to be taking decisive steps to address the indignation from those allies around the world who have been the subject of active surveillance (aka spying!).

"Obama, in his cool detachment, is not big on diplomacy through personal relations, but Merkel is as close to a trusted friend as he has in Europe. To infuriate her, and touch the most sensitive nerve of Stasi-marked Germans, amounts to sloppy bungling that hurts American soft power in lasting ways. Pivot to Asia was not supposed to mean leave all Europe peeved.

But all Europe is. The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty, intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired “checks and balances” built into American governance and studied by Eu…

Profiting (a lot!) from war....

"It’s no news (and in fact rarely makes it off the inside pages of our newspapers) that the U.S. dominates -- one might almost say monopolizes -- the global arms market.  In 2011, the last year for which figures are available, U.S. weapons makers tripled their sales to $66.3 billion and were expected to remain in that range for 2012 as well.  In other words, they took 78% of the market that year, with Russia coming in a vanishingly distant second at $4.8 billion in sales."

So begins a post on TomDispatch "Tomgram: William Astore, War! What Is It Good For? Profit and Power".

But one extract from this piece, well worth reading.

"There is a new normal in America: our government may shut down, but our wars continue.  Congress may not be able to pass a budget, but the U.S. military can still launch commando raids in Libya and Somalia, the Afghan War can still be prosecuted, Italy can be garrisoned by American troops (putting the “empire” back in Rome), Africa can be…

There is a price for spying on your friends and allies

The spying and eavesdropping by the USA on none less than leaders of allies should perhaps should not come as a surprise - but has unleashed a backlash and strong criticism from the likes of Angela Merkel.

First, this report from The Guardian:

"The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA."

Justice missing for Bangladesh garment workers

At the time of the devastating building/factory collapse of the Rana Plaza in Dacca, the world tut-tutted and retailers whose goods were manufactured in sweat shops in Bangladesh issued some PR statements that they would see that conditions for workers improved and justice done for victims and their families.

Big talk......no action! - as this piece "No Justice for the Dead in Bangladesh" on The Nation so clearly shows.

"Five months on, sweeping promises about improving factory safety and cracking down on illegal subcontracting remain hamstrung by scant resources and a near-total lack of coordination among parties. Victims’ compensation ranges from inconsistent to nonexistent. 

According to the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, none of the 4,000 families affected by the tragedy have received the full payments promised by the government or the BGMEA. Although several dozen amputees have, amid great fanfare, received payouts from an ad hoc relief fund administered by …

Wealthy looney speaks out......nuke Iran!

The man may be wealthy but lack of brain-power appears proportionate to his huge wealth.  Nuke Iran?   Go for it Obama!   Yikes!   And this a man who the GOP is happy to have pour money into its coffers.    

"Ugh. Bellicose squawking from a right-wing cabal of Zionists gathered at Yeshiva Unversity this week, one in a series, for a panel lugubriously titled "Will Jews Exist? Iran, Assimilation and the Threat to Israel and Jewish Survival,” at which participants bemoaned the BDS movement and the world's ganging up on poor, innocent, democratic Israel. Much time was given to Sheldon Adelson, the 80-year-old casino mogul and billionaire supporter of Israel, Republicans and hawkish think tanks, who declared that the Palestinians are not a people and the way to handle Iran is not to negotiate but to drop an atomic bomb on it that "doesn’t hurt a soul," because the way to teach them they can't have nuclear weapons is to use our own nuclear weapons against them. …

Fukushima - A Global Threat calling for a Global Response

Even if this piece from truthout is only half right, then the world has a major problem on its hands in relation to Fukushima.

"The story of Fukushima should be on the front pages of every newspaper. Instead, it is rarely mentioned. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented in human experience and involve a high risk of radiation events larger than any that the global community has ever experienced. It is going to take the best engineering minds in the world to solve these problems and to diminish their global impact.

When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the little red hen screaming "the sky is falling" and the reports are ignored. So, we’re going to present what is known in this article and you can decide whether we are facing a potentially cataclysmic event.

Either way, it is clear that the problems …

Bush fires

Parts of New South Wales, Australia, have been hit with extensive and devastating bush fires.   Whilst there has been much material damage fortunately only one death from the bush fires has been reported.

Remarkable footage of the Lithgow bush fire captured, here, on a clip on YouTube.



All power to Daisy

Rape and all its ugliness - and criminality - is still something not properly addressed by men and the community generally.     Witness this report from CommonDreams on the plight of a young raped woman, her family and how the burgers of a small American town "behaved".



"Mirroring the Steubenville rape case, a horrific story from the small town of Maryville, Missouri, where 14-year-old Daisy Coleman - she has come forward and identified herself - and another underage friend were allegedly raped, Daisy by an older football player, hometown star and grandson of a prominent politico, whose charges were suddenly dropped after, it was said, "favors were being called in." Coleman's family was harrassed, bullied and driven from town; they faced responses like the local sheriff's "they're just going to have to get over it" and a Fox News guest's "I'm not saying she deserved to be raped but...."; Daisy went public after suffering…

Drones - and killing innocent civilians

Despite denials out of the White House and Washington that innocent civilians haven't been killed by US drones deployed in Pakistan, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch challenge that.

"Two new reports highlight the toll of drone strikes carried out by the Obama administration. There have been civilian casualties, something even the president has acknowledged.

The human rights group Amnesty International documents nine strikes in Pakistan between 2012 and 2013. One strike on October 24, 2012, killed a 68-year-old grandmother who was tending to her crops, according to Amnesty. They say her family witnessed her death, including her young grandchildren.

Human Rights Watch looked at six U.S. strikes in Yemen that they say killed 57 civilians, including a cleric and his cousin on August 29, 2012. Human Rights Watch said these men were known to preach against al Qaeda's violent methods.

Obama administration officials maintain that drone strikes allow the U.S. government t…

Too, too true!

Credited to John Cole, Cagle Cartoons, The Scranton Times-Tribune

America goes into Africa

As if the tentacles of the USA, in various guises, weren't extensive enough, The LA Times reports that the Americans (more particularly the Pentagon) are now, in effect, embarked on moving into Africa big time.      One suspects no good will come of these moves.

"The Pentagon has begun a burst of spending in Africa, expanding its main base on the continent and investing in air facilities, flight services, telecommunications and electrical upgrades as the U.S. military deepens its footprint in a region with a rising threat of Islamist terrorism.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, detailed in unclassified federal documents, demonstrate Africa's increasing importance to U.S. military and counter-terrorism operations as the war in Iraq has ended and American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

By far the most significant expansion is occurring at Camp Lemonnier in the deeply impoverished nation of Djibouti, a sleepy backwater on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, just n…

Buycott may be for you

Here is an effective, inexpensive "tool" to take action effectively in your own hands.....and without going into the streets, manning the barricades or marching!

"Every time a shopper tosses a tube of toothpaste or carton of orange juice in their cart, that's a decision -- conscious or not -- to support the company that makes that product.

But what if you don't want to do business with companies embroiled in ethical scandals? What if you actually want to boycott brands whose practices aren't up to your standards?

There's a new (and free) smartphone application -- "Buycott" -- that makes it easier for consumers to make sure what's in their cart is aligned with what's in their heart. Simply choose which campaigns to join, and scan items before purchasing them to determine whether they're produced by companies you wish to avoid or companies you wish to support.

Buycott includes a wide range of user-sponsored campaigns covering social issu…

Yet again, Israel shows itself to be a renegade

Israel can almost be counted on to flout UN resolutions, ignore warnings of this or the other (usually infractions of Arab or Palestinian rights) breaching international law (think the expansion of settlements into the West Bank and making Gaza a virtual open prison as but 2 examples) or failing to work with other nations in the international sphere.

The Director-General of Amnesty International, writing in Haaretz brings to one's attention another failure on the part of Israel.  This time, it's attendance at an important UN forum.

"At the end of the month, in a United Nations building in Geneva, the representatives of 192 UN member states will await the arrival of the representative of a 193rd country. A lot is hanging in the balance. The last time they waited for this country, in January of this year, it refrained from sending a representative to appear. If Israel fails to appear this time either, one of the world's most important international mechanisms for the pr…

Who is capable of running the USA?

Interesting question posed by professor Stephen Walt in his latest blog-posting on FP.   Who is capable of running the USA?

"There are a lot of potential answers to that last question (Why Does U.S. Foreign Policy Keep Failing?) and I'm sure each of you has your favorite candidate(s). My own list is a pretty long one (and no, it doesn't start with the Israel lobby), but the one I'm thinking most about today is the irresponsibility of so many public officials. How can one retain any respect for most politicians these days, given their recent behavior? The GOP appears to be making a run at the world record for self-destructive political conduct, which wouldn't be so bad if they were the only ones damaged by it. Unfortunately, their brain-dead fiscal brinkmanship is actively harmful to the U.S. economy and is doing more damage to U.S. credibility than a thousand Munichs. Not that it bothers people who are trapped in the Limbaugh/FOX News bubble.

As I've noted befo…

Food: Profligate wastefulness

Here we are with many people around the world facing starvation on a daily basis, and Americans, and Australians, wasting food, or not "using" it appropriately, in obscene ways.

"An estimated 40 per cent of American produce, worth more than $45 billion, is wasted annually. In Australia, it's up to 20 per cent - around 1.5 kilograms of food a household a day, worth $1036 a home, and $8 billion nationally. Around one-third of the food thrown out is fresh, another 27 per cent is leftovers and 9 per cent is frozen food. It's also estimated that between 20 and 40 per cent of fruit and vegetables don't make it to the supermarket shelf, rejected on cosmetic grounds."

On disability, assisted dying and medicos

All too sadly society still hasn't learned how to deal with those suffering some form of disability.     Stella Young, personable, articulate, vocal and a person with disabilities, in a piece in The Guardian"Disability – a fate worse than death?" puts a compelling case against assisted dying and why people, especially medicos, are unsympathetic to those physically or mentally challenged.

"As a disabled person, I'm accustomed to conversations about quality of life and dignity. Specifically, I'm accustomed to assuring people that my life is worth living. I'm short statured, a wheelchair user, and I frequently have bone fractures. All the visual cues that make me "the other" are front and centre. People make all sorts of assumptions about the quality of my life and my levels of independence. They're almost always wrong.

I've lost count of the number of times I've been told, "I just don't think I could live like you," or &q…

Justice a long time coming - with an "angel" to help

That the death penalty is cruel and barbaric is pretty well unarguable - and it is no deterrent either.    Injustices occur all too frequently.  Fortunately there are those committed to righting wrongs.     A case in point - with a good outcome.

"Anthony Graves was released in 2010 after serving 18 years in a Texas prison - 12 on Death Row, over four in solitary confinement, with two execution dates postponed - for a 1992 murder he didn't commit. Unbitter about having been so long "exposed to the underbelly of the beast," he was awarded $1.45 million; he spent some on himself, his mother, and a foundation to help at-risk kids whose parents are in prison, and spoke at public events on the issue. This week, he also established a law scholarship fund at the University of Texas Law School Foundation in the name of Nicole C├ísarez, the Houston attorney and journalism professor - his "defender, friend, sister and angel" - who fought along with her students for ei…

A pertinent question. Why do those settlements expand during so-called Peace Talks?

No lesser newspaper than the Christian Science Monitor poses a pertinent question - why do those Israelis settlements expand during peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians?


As Mondoweiss puts it:

"Why do Israeli settlements expand during peace talks? is an impressive 10 page series of info-graphics published by The Christian Science Monitor. While they never actually answer the question why Israel settlements expand more during peace talks, the series walks the viewer, step by step, through Israel’s settlement expansion during Oslo, Camp David, Sharm el Sheikh, Annapolis, right up to present day…and then some."

What? No more chocolate?

Is this the end of civilisation as we know it?    The threat of there being no more chocolate in a few year's time appears to be a reality.    It mustn't happen!    truthdig is the bearer of grim news....

"Every now and then reporters who are out of ideas write an article about the supposed health benefits of chocolate. In recent years, however, some have warned of an impending cocoa shortage and the end of affordable, quality chocolate.

That grim forecast was confirmed earlier this month when industry experts from around the world convened in London at the annual Chocolate Industry Network Conference to discuss the future of their business. They announced the world would run out of chocolate as we know it within seven years, meaning prices will shoot sky high as cocoa supplies fall and demand continues to rise.

Angus Kennedy, a former chocolate taster for some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and ex-editor of Kennedy’s Confection magazine, was quoted in the Daily Star …

Talking with the Iranians: 3 naysayer voices to be ignored

The world is talking with Iran.   Hooray!    Perhaps commonsense, and logic, will prevail, whatever reservations many have, notably Israel, about engaging with the Iranians.

Stephen Walt, professor of International Relations at Harvard, counsels against Obama taking note of 3 (shrill?) voices he cites in his latest blog post on FP.

"As I write this, Iranian and American negotiators, along with the other members of the P5+1, are meeting in Geneva to discuss the nuclear dispute that has divided Iran and these nations for many years. The core issues are: 1) how much of Iran's present nuclear capacity might it be willing to give up, 2) the scope of international inspections of Iran's remaining facilities, and 3) the speed with which the United States and others will lift the economic sanctions they have imposed on Iran.

Colin Kahl and Alireza Nader have already posted an excellent guide to the negotiations, and they correctly note that pursuing the pipe dream of "zero enr…

Things aren't getting better in Haiti.....if anything!

In his recent best-selling book, Profits of Doom (MUP) Antony Loewenstein, graphically detailed the plight of the Haitians post the tumultuous earthquake the island endured.    All too sadly things aren't looking too good for the people.    First, the UN introduced cholera into the country - see this New York Times piece "Haiti's Imported Disaster" - and then the locals are still being exploited.

"Haiti's Caracol Industrial Park—the U.S. State Department and Clinton Foundation pet project to deliver aid and reconstruction to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in the form of private investment—is systematically stealing its garment workers' wages, paying them 34 percent less than minimum wage set by federal law, a breaking report from the Worker Rights Consortium reveals.

Critics charge that poverty wages illustrate the deep flaws with corporate models of so-called aid. "The failure of the Caracol Industrial Park to comply with minimum wage laws is a stain on t…

UN Expert: Need for transparency on drones

Drones are the weapon of choice at the moment - or so it would seem as the US uses them increasingly in the dark shadow of legality.  

A call for more transparency about these drones, and how they are used, comes from the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings. 

"A UN expert has called for nations that operate armed drones to be more transparent and ‘publicly disclose’ how they use them.

In a report prepared for the UN, Christof Heyns, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, points to international secrecy surrounding who owns armed drones, how they are operated, and who they are killing.

He also warns against ‘wide and permissive interpretations’ of international law to justify lethal attacks using the capabilities offered by armed drones.

The report is the first of two major papers on drone strikes due to be presented to the UN this month. The second, by Ben Emmerson, special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, will be published next week.

Heyns highlights ‘concer…

Yes, do read.......

Reading, a pleasurable pastime, should be encouraged in children.

Children's author, Neil Gaiman, delivered gave a talk in London on the innumerable virtues and benefits in children reading.   The talk has been published in The Guardian.

"It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members' interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things."

****

"But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about ente…

Amanda Knox back on trial in Italy

The saga surrounding the American Amanda Knox, and her trial and appeal, in Italy, relating to her being charged with murder, simply won't go away.   She, and her co-accused, may not be at the trial - would they take the risk of fronting back in Italy? - but a new one is presently underway.

Nick Richardson, writing in the London Review of Books in "Nothing Fits" examines, in great detail, the whole "story"....

"None of the stories we’ve been told about Meredith Kercher’s death really works. This becomes clear as soon as you start trawling the internet for details: every piece of evidence that came before the court in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009, and in their successful appeal in 2011, has been scrutinised. Almost everything that has been written about the case has been disputed. It seems unlikely that Knox, a twenty-year-old American student at the University for Foreigners in Perugia at the time of the crime, would have killed …

Poor Uncle Sam indeed!

Credited to RJ Matson, Cagle Cartoons

Displacing an entire peoples

The actions of the Israelis are as much scandalous, breathtaking and know no bounds.   Now the ancient Bedouin tribes are to be displaced from their ancestral areas in the Negev.   Max Blumenthal, writing on TomDispatch, provides all the details and background in "The Desert of Israeli Democracy".

"Now the country’s top official, Netanyahu has updated the smokescreen strategy. While the prime minister ranted against Iran in New York City and in a meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, his government was preparing to implement the Prawer Plan, a blueprint for the expulsion of 40,000 indigenous Bedouin citizens of Israel from their ancestral Negev Desert communities that promised to “concentrate” them in state-run, reservation-style townships. Authored by Netanyahu's planning policy chief, Ehud Prawer, and passed by a majority of the members of the mainstream Israeli political parties in the Knesset, the Prawer Plan is only one element of the government’s em…

Look out! A formidable trio looms.....

There can be little doubt that Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Linda Poitras are a formidable trio who have each done sterling work, much of it in their own spheres, in digging and then reporting - much to the discomfort of the powers-that-be - information that Governments would much rather we all wouldn't know about.

Well, the 3 are now to unite in what must be seen as formidable force.  truthdigreports:

"More details emerged Wednesday about the major new media outlet that came to light when Glenn Greenwald announced he was leaving The Guardian for a “once-in-a-career opportunity.”

First, the backer: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, whose net worth is close to $9 billion, is reportedly prepared to invest as much as $250 million in the venture. It will be a for-profit company, and according to writer Jay Rosen, profits will be “reinvested in the journalism.” Omidyar already invests in less ambitious news projects, and is said to have become increasingly concerned with the stat…

What the West wrought by invading Iraq

The carnage in Iraq continues unabated - in fact, in the last days, the number of deaths from various bombings has exceeded 6000 this year - but forgotten as the the media moves on from reporting on Iraq (save when there has been a bombing) is what the invasion of Iraq by the West has "cost" the country.  

"The number of deaths caused by the Iraq war has been a source of intense controversy, as politics, inexact science and a clamor for public awareness have intersected in a heated debate of conflicting interests. The latest and perhaps most rigorous survey, released Tuesday, puts the figure at close to 500,000.

The study, — a collaboration of researchers in the U.S., Canada and Iraq appearing in the journal PLoS Medicine — included a survey of 2,000 Iraqi households in 100 geographic regions in Iraq. Researchers used two surveys, one involving the household and another asking residents about their siblings, in an attempt to demonstrate the accuracy of the data they were…

Washington shut down. Now it's time to count the cost

Watching the shenanigans in Washington over the last weeks has bordered on the jaw-dropping but as it now appears to end, it's counting the costs time.   The New York Times provides an insight....

"Containers of goods idling at ports. Reduced sales at sandwich shops in downtown Washington. Canceled vacations to national parks and to destinations abroad. Reduced corporate earnings forecasts. Higher interest payments on short-term debt.

Even with the shutdown of the United States government and the threat of a default coming to an end, the cost of Congress’s gridlock has already run well into the billions, economists estimate. And the total will continue to grow even after the shutdown ends, partly because of uncertainty about whether lawmakers might reach another deadlock early next year."

To think these crazies led the so-called Free World!

Talk about a bunch of crazies!    Writing in her latest op-ed piece "A Mad Tea Party" for The New York Times, Maureen Dowd clearly shows what a bunch of wing-nuts the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Joe Lieberman, and their ilk, are.     Amazing reading!

"But before you start thinking Dick Cheney is temperate by comparison, consider the Commentary roast of the former vice president on Monday night at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Cheney made a joke about waterboarding an antelope that he borrowed from Jay Leno. Donald Rumsfeld quasi-jested that he knew Dick “back when the president of the United States still led our foreign policy, instead of Putin.”

Ben Smith of BuzzFeed reported that the roast sponsored by Rupert Murdoch and others featured Rumsfeld, Joe Lieberman and Scooter Libby, known as “Cheney’s Cheney” until he was convicted of lying during a federal leak probe.

Lieberman, a guest told BuzzFeed, said it was nicer to be at the Plaza than in cages after a …