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Showing posts from May, 2014

The threat to increasing world hunger

Yet again we see the "little people" lose out to multi-nationals and other vested interests.  Here it is the ever-diminishing land holdings of small farmers threatening the food supply for all of us.   Inter Press Service reports on something we ignore at our own peril.
"The world is increasingly hungry because small farmers are losing access to farmland. Small farmers produce most of the world’s food but are now squeezed onto less than 25 percent of the world’s farmland, a new report reveals. Corporate and commercial farms, big biofuel operations and land speculators are pushing millions off their land.

“Small farmers are losing land at a tremendous rate. It’s a land reform movement in reverse,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers, which released the report Thursday.

“The overwhelming majority of farming families today have less than two hectares to cultivate and that share is shrinking,” …

A tragic production!

The Pope in Palestine

From The Nationand Foreign Policy in Focus reporting on the Pope's visit to Palestine:

"There were plenty of important statements from Pope Francis during his recent three-day trip to Palestine and Israel—including a plea for “justice,” a traditional call for peace and a reference to the “State of Palestine”—but at the end of the day it was all about the photo-ops.

The pope’s visit was carefully orchestrated—shaped not only by security concerns but by his insistence on avoiding Israeli checkpoints. American and other official visitors often work diligently to avoid having to see—or be photographed seeing—the hundreds of Israeli checkpoints or the apartheid wall that snakes through the West Bank, separating Palestinians from their land and dividing the area into tiny, noncontiguous pieces of territory.

But Pope Francis’ complicated logistics were not aimed at pretending not to see but at refusing to acknowledge Israeli power and control over the Palestinian territories. Instead o…

John Kerry miscues on a number of fronts

On at least two fronts, US Secretary of State John Kerry has got it so very wrong!    First, he attacks Edward Snowden.   And then, secondly, he virtually shows himself up as a misogynistic.    It is clear from the response to Kerry's comments that he hasn't remotely understood how the public views Snowden and what he has revealed.

"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is facing widespread criticism for his comment that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—increasingly seen by the American public as a heroic figure for exposing government surveillance—should "man up" by returning home to face criminal charges.

“This is a man who has betrayed his country,” Kerry told CBS News on Wednesday, just hours before the airing of highly anticipated interview between Snowden and NBC News' Brian Williams. “He should man up and come back to the US.”

Seen widely as an attempt by Kerry and the Obama administration to turn public opinion against the 30-year-old former intelligence c…

Australia's disgrace

Australians, and others, might rightly point a critical the finger at the way the USA "runs" Gitmo, and like facilities elsewhere, but Australia has its very own disgraceful situation in the way it treats asylum-seekers in detention camps.  It's totally inhumane, indecent and unconscionable - stop!

"The desperate state of healthcare offered to asylum-seeker families, children, babies and pregnant women inside the Nauru detention centre can be revealed for the first time in a comprehensive report produced by five independent clinical experts, obtained exclusively by Guardian Australia.

Observations in the report include:

Children in the Nauru detention centre are not adequately screened for disease, resulting in the likelihood that many are carrying undiagnosed blood-borne diseases and up to 50% are carrying latent tuberculosis.

There are no paediatricians employed in the centre and no paediatric life support available on Nauru.
There is no clear child protection framewor…

One despairing view (on a mural) of the World Cup in Brazil

The ICC to prosecute some Brits?

To date the ICC (International Criminal Court)  has mainly, with a few exceptions, prosecuted Africans.    Is that about to change?   Are some Brits heavily involved in the Iraq war in the firing line to be prosecuted?

"Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has decided to open a preliminary investigation into alleged crimes committed by UK government personnel in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. The UK has categorically rejected any and all allegations that it is responsible for systematic human rights abuses in Iraq, during the country’s invasion and occupation. Still, many have been left wondering: will Western officials responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq finally be brought to justice? The answer is, quite frankly, unclear. But the Iraq investigation may also have another aim: to save the ICC itself.

The Prosecutor’s decision to open a preliminary investigation comes just a few short months after a formal complaint was lo…

"Time running out". UN issues an urgent warning on climate change

The UN has just issued a blunt and urgent warning in relation to climate change.    It can't be said that we haven't all be warned - from various perspectives and people "in the know."  Trouble is that politicians aren't listening and the public isn't all that interested.

"The world is running out of time to take the urgent action need to rein in runaway greenhouse gases and "preserve our planet for future generations," a United Nations body warned Monday.

While the world first hit last year the "sobering milestone" of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it was April 2014 that prompted the current climate warning from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Last month marked the first time in human history that average CO2 levels in the northern atmosphere were above 400 ppm for the entire month.

In addition to that measurement recorded by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of Calif…

Cause for concern

Credited to Kap, Cagle Cartoons, Spain

An anguished cry (in the wilderness?) for sanity

The ongoing madness of America's wayward lawlessness with, and of, the availability and use of guns....

"The latest gun-fuelled, mind-numbing horror in Isla Vista, wherein a deranged young man massacred six innocent people, may in fact be "misogynist extremism." It is now also, gruesomely, what Michael Moore calls "part of normal American life." The most heart-rending moment of the carnage fallout has to be the furious cry of Richard Martinez, father of 20-year-old victim Christopher Martinez, who at an anguished press conference called out "craven irresponsible politicians and the NRA" before asking the only question that needs to be asked: "When will this insanity stop?" Chris, both of whose parents are lawyers, was an only child.

"We are a nation founded in violence, grew our borders through violence, and allow men in power to use violence around the world to further our so-called American (corporate) "interests." The gu…

What was predicted. Amazon being up to no good!

A timely call to forget about Amazon and support your local bookstore.....   The practices of Amazon revealed in this piece "Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions" from the New York Times would suggest that the monolith isn't worthy of your and my business - and  we are all likely to be the losers in the end. 

"Amazon is confirming its critics’ worst fears and it is an ugly spectacle to behold.

For years, authors and publishers have warned that Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ book-selling giant, would one day use its power for ill. Sure, so far, Amazon has marketed itself as a book buyer’s best friend. It sells books at terrifically low prices, it delivers them amazingly quickly, and it constantly invents new technologies to improve the way we read. Amazon has also invested heavily in publishing new authors and it has pushed exciting new formats made possible by electronic distribution.

Yet the literary community has always greeted Amazon’s moves with suspicion. …

The USA'S Memorial Day in perspective

Credited to Steve Sack, Cagle Cartoons, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

The brutish, thuggish side of Israel on show - once again!

It is hard to imagine a more thuggish and brutal act than shooting dead unarmed youths.

Step up to the plate the Israeli IDF - once again!    On this occasion the event has been captured on video and is now on YouTube.  

With the Israeli PR machine and Israel Lobby so much evident and attempting to cow any sort of criticism of Israel (you know, critics are anti-Israel or anti-Zionists or self-hating Jews!) just think of the outcry had what occured here happened in, say, somewhere in Europe, etc.  

"International outcry and condemnation came swiftly on Tuesday following the release of video footage showing two innocent Palestinian teenagers being shot dead by Israeli forces.

According to rights group Defense for Children International — Palestine, which obtained and circulated the security camera footage, Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, sustained fatal gunshot wounds on May 15 by Israeli Defense Forces after participating in a demonstration near the Ofer milita…

The dramatic consequences of climate change

There would seem to be hardly a spot on earth which isn't experiencing the effects of climate change.   And the predictions are that if we all don't so something, like immediately, things are going to get worse.

"The world is hot.

The world is melting.

The world is burning.

This is what climate change looks like.

According to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday, April 2014 tied the one in 2010 as the hottest April since records began.

Also this week, new studies and surveys of scientific findings focused on climate change show that from historic flooding in the Balkans, to 'unprecedented' wildfires in southern California, melting ice sheets in Antarctica to deteriorating glaciers in Greenland—the fast-pace of global warming is pushing the planet further and further into a loop of climate extremes.

It's what author and climate campaigner Bill McKibben describes as the planet "Eaarth" in his book of the s…

A toast, and birthday greetings, to a remarkable 105 year old

There are few men like Sir Nicholas Winton - now celebrating his 105th birthday.    But it is not only his age worthy of celebration, but his deeds - for there is no other word for it - in Prague in September 1939.     Read on in this piece from the The Guardian.

"It could almost be a normal birthday party, with music, presents and a cake. But the cake has 105 candles and many of the 100 or so guests who are here to celebrate the birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton owe him their life.

Winton's 105th birthday party is at the Czech embassy in London, and the guests here are the offspring of 669 children - mostly Jewish - rescued by Winton from almost certain death in the months before the second world war broke out in 1939. Most of their families ended up interned and murdered in Nazi concentration camps. Today they call themselves "Nicky's children".

There are around 6,000 people around the world today who owe Winton their lives. It was late in December 1938 when the st…

A loss of anonymity?

A truly frightening prospect.....losing our anonymity?

"A physicist, Dr. Atick is one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of modern face recognition. Having helped advance the fundamental face-matching technology in the 1990s, he went into business and promoted the systems to government agencies looking to identify criminals or prevent identity fraud. “We saved lives,” he said during the conference in mid-March. “We have solved crimes.”"


"Now an industry consultant, Dr. Atick finds himself in a delicate position. While promoting and profiting from an industry that he helped foster, he also feels compelled to caution against its unfettered proliferation. He isn’t so much concerned about government agencies that use face recognition openly for specific purposes — for example, the many state motor vehicle departments that scan drivers’ faces as a way to prevent license duplications and frau…

Erasing / purging past data (that is, records)

Erasing or purging things from the past - records or whatever - may be convenient to some, but opens a discussion on the propriety of doing so.      A case in point is the ruling by the EU's highest Court requiring Google to delete an entry on its server.   Probably appropriate in the instant case, but where to draw the line

"The European Union’s highest court issued a tough verdict Tuesday that could be a boon to privacy, but a loss to free access to information—and the business model of companies such as Google and Facebook.

A Spanish man argued that an old debt from 1998 should not follow him every time his name is punched into a Google search. The court agreed, and said Google (and other companies, by implication) would have to purge links to such information if certain conditions were met. Consumers would ostensibly have to go to “the competent authorities” (whomever those are) in order to have their rights enforced. The court may have been deliberately vague in order to a…

12 months onwards from the first Snowden revelations

5 June marks 12 months since the Snowden revelations burst on the world scene.     And all the sort of things we have come to learn, much of it appalling and a blot on various agencies around the world, notably the USA's NSA.

"This last year, we have learned that the NSA has strayed far from its legitimate goal of protecting national security. In fact, we have seen the NSA participate in economic espionage, diplomatic spying and suspicionless surveillance of entire populations. Even worse, the NSA has also surreptitiously weakened the products and standards that Internet users use to protect themselves against online spying.

In his new book about working with Snowden, No Place To Hide, journalist Glenn Greenwald lays out some alarming facts that have been revealed in the year of leaks:

In a 30 day period, the NSA collected almost 3 billion telephone calls and emails that had passed directly through US telecom networks. As Greenwald explained, that exceeds the collection of each …

Newspapers: Dying by a thousand cuts

We all know that newspapers, as we have come to know them, are a dying thing.   Some cities around the world no longer even have a daily newspaper.     One can't be left with a distinct impression that newspaper proprietors just didn't see the changing times and how people access news.

From mUmBRELLA....

"Firstly, that in five to ten years the world-famous newspaper will probably cease to exist altogether in its physical form. So too will the likes of The Guardian, the third biggest English language site in the world and, in my opinion, currently the greatest paper on the planet. 

The Guardian does phenomenally well online, with 90 million unique users every month. Compare this with the number of hard copies sold each day… less than 200,000. Readership has halved over the last decade and if that trend continues, the paper will lose its last reader by the end of the decade. 

A paperless Guardian is now inevitable, as it is for every serious newspaper from The New York Times to…

Metrics gone mad!

Pause for considerable concern as another dimension emerges in our ever-changing world....

"In the last few years, there has been a revolution so profound that it’s sometimes hard to miss its significance. We are awash in numbers. Data is everywhere. Old-fashioned things like words are in retreat; numbers are on the rise. Unquantifiable arenas like history, literature, religion and the arts are receding from public life, replaced by technology, statistics, science and math. Even the most elemental form of communication, the story, is being pushed aside by the list.

The results are in: The nerds have won. Time to replace those arrows in the talons of the American eagle with pencils and slide rules. We’ve become the United States of Metrics."

Read the complete piece, from The New York Times, here.

Yes, we must "never forget!"

More than a timely reminder - and from an unusual quarter!

"With upcoming elections in a Europe beset by rising neo-Nazi frenzy, a new campaign by Swedish Social Democrats against the resurgence has a high-profile leader: Rainer Hoess, 48, grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the infamous commandant of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp who presided over the murder of over a million Jews and others before being captured and hanged near the crematorium he was so proud of. Hoess, who wears a Star of David around his neck, has spent years researching the Nazi movement, talking to survivors, and speaking to German schoolchildren about the dangers of right-wing extremism. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary "Hitler's Children." The Swedish campaign, dubbed "Never Forget. To Vote," stresses that "Nazi influences are growing in Europe for the same reasons they did back then. The social safety nets have been torn, and people are left behind...Hopeless…

Two flow-ons to Indian election result?

The landslide victory of Narendra Modi in the Indian election is a clear demonstration of the previous government being solidly routed.  But, like a lot of things in life the result of the the BJP winning the election may not be such a good thing for India's Muslims.

"Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, job rejections and turned-down loans that are part of living in India for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination by a Hindu majority a key reason why. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, in the wake of a landslide electoral triumph Friday by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, some Muslims here said they are worried that their place in India could become…

Inching toward justice in relation to Iraq

There can be little doubt that the cabal of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Blair and Howard can properly be characterised as war criminals in relation to the war they declared on Iraq - and all based on blatant lies.    As if that was bad enough there are then the egregious violations of human rights - starting with torture and water-boarding - carried out in Iraq by the US and Brits.

Justice may be at hand!

"Eleven years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, not a single high-level official has been held accountable for the numerous war crimes perpetrated throughout the war. Yet, a Tuesday announcement that the International Criminal Court is re-opening a "preliminary" investigation into charges that British troops systemically perpetrated atrocities in Iraq raised the faint possibility that this could change.

"It is good news that the ICC is finally going to look at the extraordinary and serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Iraq War and the lead-up to it,&q…

Idealogy gone mad

Credited to Nick Anderson, truthdig

Erasing "history"

A decision by the European Court of Justice ordering Google to remove particular links raises a myriad of issues.      The Independent reports.

"The European Court of Justice struck a major blow against the right of internet companies to hold unlimited information on individuals when it ordered Google to remove links that are deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.

The court’s decision will allow individuals the right to ask internet search engines to remove links to information about them that they do not want known – which could be seen either as an assertion of the right to privacy or an attack on free speech. Google and free speech activists reacted angrily to the court’s verdict which could guarantee individuals a “right to be forgotten” on the internet which is not currently available.

It is unclear exactly how the ruling will be implemented considering the sheer volume of online data and internet users. For individuals keen to erase embarrassing incidents from …

"Devastating" effects of climate change - water, earth, air and fire

"A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet.

The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify.

"This is really happening," Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. "There's nothing to stop it now."

On April 13, the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of ACD warned of a "devastating rise of 4-5C if we carry on as we are."

According to Mike Childs, the head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, an increase to 4C warming would mean a "devastating" impact on agriculture and human civilization. Childs added that we…

Glenn Greenwald on how he met Edward Snowden

TomDispatch has an intriguing piece by Glenn Greenwald on how he came to meet Edward Snowden - by all measures the "man of the year" in 2013.

"On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The email began: “The security of people’s communications is very important to me,” and its stated purpo…

It's IDF isn't moral....nor many of its people

It will be recalled that Israel is, forever, extolling its IDF as being the moral army in the world.     It's a nonsense, of course!    In fact, as much independent evidence has shown, the claim is a complete lie.   

What is even more shameful is the action of the so-called settlers in the West Bank in their "price tag attacks".     This piece on CommonDreamsexplains....

"Anger is at long last rising against the new form of extremist Zionism dubbed "price tag attacks," wherein Israeli settlers vandalize and otherwise target Muslim and Christian sites as a way of threatening them with "paying the price" for curbing Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas. The Pope has called such settler provocations acts of "terror," the American Jewish Forward just ran a piece on a settlers' Israeli Independence celebration dubbed “When Israelis Teach Their Kids to Hate,” and Amos Oz, one of Israel's most renowned writers, used the occasion of h…

WHO: An alcohol-related death every 10 seconds

Sobering (no pun intended!) details  - as released by the WHO - about the devastating effects of alcohol on our lives and wellbeing....

"Alcohol kills 3.3 million people worldwide each year, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and violence combined, the World Health Organisation said on Monday, warning that booze consumption was on the rise.

Including drink driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse, and a multitude of diseases and disorders, alcohol causes one in 20 deaths globally every year, the UN health agency said.

"This actually translates into one death every 10 seconds," Shekhar Saxena, who heads the WHO's Mental Health and Substance Abuse department, told reporters in Geneva.

Alcohol caused some 3.3 million deaths in 2012, WHO said, equivalent to 5.9 per cent of global deaths (7.6 per cent for men and 4.0 per cent for women).

In comparison, HIV/AIDS is responsible for 2.8 per cent, tuberculosis causes 1.7 per cent of deaths and violence is responsible for just 0.9 pe…

When insurers take a position, it's time to sit up and listen

Insurers don't have many friends, but there is no denying that they are acutely involved in assessing risk and the potential of costly payouts on insurance policies.   So, when insurers take a keen interest in climate change and the effects of it, it can't be so lightly dismissed.

"Insurance industry leaders have declared it is now clear that insurers must begin formally including climate change in their calculation of future catastrophes to protect to protect their bottom-lines.

In a 41-page report released Thursday, Lloyd's of London—the oldest and largest insurance market in the world—warns, "Scientific research points conclusively to the existence of climate change driven by human activity," and therefore global warming must be included in "catastrophe modeling tools" moving forward.

Insurers must account for a whole host of problems, including rising sea levels, which can lead to severe "weather events" such as Superstorm Sandy.


Well, hello? One Jewish leader gets it!

As has now become all too common, anyone who criticises Israel's conduct in the occupied West Bank or Gaza is accused of being an anti-semite or anti-Israel, and if the critic is Jewish, to be labelled a self-hating Jew.

So, surprise, surprise when a stalwart in the British Jewish community says it as it is in the West Bank......

"Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass has said he was horrified at what he witnessed during a visit to a West Bank village, describing it as an “eye-opener”.

Mr Brass, who was spending Pesach in Israel, took part in a private capacity in a one-day trip organised by Yachad UK and led by a guide from the anti-occupation Israeli army veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence.

His experience, as one of around a dozen Anglo-Jewish participants taken to the Palestinian village of Susiya, was shocking, he said.

“The village spokesman told us that he was very worried at the prospect of local Palestinian children being attacked by settlers on their way to school…

Citizens v subjects in a democracy

Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He initiated a blog partly in celebration of his 80th birthday.

His latest post "Citizens versus Subjects in a Democratic Society: The American Case" bears reflection.....

"In my understanding silence is passivity as a way of being. Silence can be much more than the avoidance of speech and utterance, and is most poignantly expressed through evasions of body, heart, and soul. Despite the frustrations and defeats of the period, America was different during the years of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. It was then that alienated gun-wielders assassinated those among us who were sounding the clearest calls for justice an…

Bush and Obama.... Tweedledum, Tweedledee

Point made!

"The just-retired long-time NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, recently traveled to Australia to give a remarkably long and wide-ranging interview with an extremely sycophantic “interviewer” with The Australian Financial Review. The resulting 17,000-word transcript and accompanying article form a model of uncritical stenography journalism, but Alexander clearly chose to do this because he is angry, resentful, and feeling unfairly treated, and the result is a pile of quotes that are worth examining, only a few of which are noted below:

AFR: What were the key differences for you as director of NSA serving under presidents Bush and Obama? Did you have a preferred commander in chief?

Gen. Alexander: Obviously they come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get a…

It's not Mothers Day for some

Mothers Day will be celebrated this coming Sunday in many countries around the world.    However, it's not a celebration for many women.....

"This Mother's Day, Americans will buy over $2 billion worth of cut flowers for their doubtless  worthy mothers. Alas, many will have been produced by other worthy mothers - often in Colombia's Bogotá Savanna - who have long endured injuries, pesticides, birth defects and wages as low as $333 a month for your pleasure. Kids, too. Maybe get her a (locally grown) perennial instead?"

Chomsky on US loss of global dominance

As is his wont, Noam Chomsky puts into context the issues surrounding the "loss" of Crimea and America's loss of global dominance.

"The current Ukraine crisis is serious and threatening, so much so that some commentators even compare it to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Columnist Thanassis Cambanis  summarizes the core issue succinctly in The Boston Globe: “[President Vladimir V.] Putin's annexation of the Crimea is a break in the order that America and its allies have come to rely on since the end of the Cold War—namely, one in which major powers only intervene militarily when they have an international consensus on their side, or failing that, when they're not crossing a rival power's red lines.”

This era's most extreme international crime, the United States-United Kingdom invasion of Iraq, was therefore not a break in world order—because, after failing to gain international support, the aggressors didn't cross Russian or Chinese red lines.

In c…

Saying it as it is! Gideon Levy does.....

When respected journalist and commentator Gideon Levy - writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz - says Israel does practice apatheid, what else is there to say?

"The forbidden words paralyze debate. Did you let the word “apartheid” slip out? The truth is no longer important. But no political correctness or bowdlerization, however sanctimonious, can conceal reality forever. And the reality is an occupation regime of apartheid.

The naysayers can find countless differences between the apartheid of Pretoria and that of Jerusalem. Pretoria’s was openly racist and anchored in law; Jerusalem’s is denied and repressed, hidden beneath a heavy cloak of propaganda and messianic religious faith. But the result is the same. Some South Africans who lived under the system of segregation say that their apartheid was worse. I know South Africans who say that the version in the territories is worse. But neither group can find a significant difference at the root: When two nations share the same pi…

Kidnapped school girls.....and Flight MH730

There is no doubting that the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft is both a mystery and of ongoing interest.     And then there are those some 200 school girls kidnapped in Nigeria.    The media has assiduously followed the search for the missing plane.    The plight of the school girls has gotten much less attention.    Does it perhaps have something to do with what has occurred in Nigeria is in Africa? - and the media devotes much less attention to what is going on on that continent?

"When members of the Islamist terror organisation Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria last month, they disguised themselves in military uniform. The girls, who knew that many schools in the state of Borno have been attacked by jihadists, initially believed that the unexpected visitors had come to take them to a safe place. But as they climbed reluctantly into trucks and on to motorcycles, the men began firing into the air and shouting &…

Forced labour alive and "well"

Hard to believe that we are supposed to be living in enlightened times.     Human Rights Watchto the forefront yet again.....

"Forced labour, human trafficking, and other forms of modern-day exploitation may seem distant from the lives of ordinary Europeans celebrating Labour Day with a spring holiday.

These abuses are often seen as a scourge of countries beset with poverty, corruption, and crime.

Yet the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 880,000 women, men, and children are victims of forced labour in the European Union.

Many are migrants, but few would guess that the majority of reported forced labour victims are EU citizens who have migrated between member states. The ILO has found cases of domestic servitude in almost all Western European countries. In March, Human Rights Watch issued a report documenting forced labour of migrant domestic workers in the United Kingdom.

The reality of forced labour in the EU is not the whole picture, though.

Almost 21 million pe…

A fair go for employees? Forget it!

What is there to say about an attitude which only be described as contemptible?

Credited to Danziger, New York Times
"Is there anything more enraging than Thursday's gaudy spectacle of Senate millionaires and lobbyists - a broad coalition "from the rich to the very rich to the super-rich" - ganging up to defeat a minimum wage raise supported by the majority of the American people, aka the people they ostensibly represent? Seattle helped ease the pain and bile a bit with a phased-in deal to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour over a few years, with automatic increases to follow. Some activists opposed the years-long progression, though it's still the highest rate in the country. It seems MLK was right about that arc of the moral universe, not to mention well-funded American political machinations.

One giant step backwards

It would be easy to be seen as anti-Muslim in "attacking" the State of Brunei's new laws, but one is left speechless that a monarch who the West courts - and, yes, the people are well off by any yardstick - heads a country about to go down the barbaric path with its draconian new penal code.

"A controversial new penal code for oil-rich Brunei that will eventually include tough Islamic sharia penalties such as severing of limbs and death by stoning came into effect on Thursday.

Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah had said on Wednesday that he would push ahead with the introduction of the new criminal code that has sparked rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler and international condemnation.

The initial phase beginning introduces fines or jail terms for offences including indecent behaviour, failure to attend Friday prayers, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

There were no known events to mark Thursday's implementation.

A second phase cover…

A truly dangerous profession

Yes, we know, journalists are often scorned and even actively disliked.    And, yes, there are many so-called journos in the media - notably those on TV on commercial stations - more than deserving of condemnation.

But, there are all those other truly heroic journalists - and cameramen - who are out there bringing us news from all manner of places, war-zones and countries none of us would willingly tour.   Just think, at the moment, of the Ukraine, Syria, Pakistan and many places in Africa as but a few examples.  And who isn't interested in news, of whatever type, from somewhere?

Today (3 May) marks World Press Freedom Day....

"At the beginning of every year, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) publishes a report on the journalists killed in this previous year. In the latest we listed 105 journalists and news media personnel killed during 2013.

The first shocking thing about these reports is to learn just how many journalists are killed.

Sadly, this is not new. If we…