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Showing posts from June, 2014

US risks multi-billion dollar bill if it doesn't address climate change now

The warning is blunt and direct.   If the US - and doubtlessly the proposition applies with equal force to many countries around the globe - wants to save itself billions of dollars down the track, it will have to start, now, to address the ever-present effects of man-made climate change.   

Read "Climate puts US at risk of multi-billion bill" on Climate News Network.....

"The sheer economic cost of climate change to Americans could be far greater than many realise, an influential study says.

The study was commissioned by the Risky Business Project, a research organisation chaired by a bi-partisan panel and supported by several former US Treasury Secretaries.

It expects climate change to have varied impacts across different regions and industries. Rising sea levels, it says, could destroy many billion dollars’ worth of coastal properties by 2050, and warming temperatures, especially in the south, south-west and mid-west, could cut the productivity of people working outdoors…

SAVE the Net!

As a users of the www - in all its manifestations and the good and the bad! - we all need to step up and save the world wide web from those who seek to corral the way we use and can access it.    Read what free press Save the Internet has to say in an adaption of a speech given at the US National Press Club:

"Last month, the FCC released its proposal detailing how it intends to protect Net Neutrality in the wake of the court ruling that overturned its Open Internet Order.

The proposal repeated FCC pronouncements about the importance of preserving an open Internet and professed concern over what would become of the Web should it be segmented into fast and slow lanes. All the while, the rules offered solutions that would indeed create a two-tiered Internet.

According to the Pew Research Center, half of all Americans cite the Internet as their main source for national and international news. For young people, that number is 71 percent.

I do not mean to imply that we have reached a point…

Oh yeah?

Credited to Mick Anderson, truthdig

Selective sympathy

More than compelling, and valid, points made in this op-piece on about what the writer describes as "selective sympathy" in the ongoing Palestinian / Israeli conflict.

 Palestinian street art. (Photo: Wanderlasss/ cc/ flickr)
"The display of anxiety and aggressive agitation in Israel, triggered by the kidnapping of three young men from an illegal settlement on the West Bank, seems to be accompanied by a near total denial of any legitimate relationship between government actions (the occupation) and Palestinian reactions (the kidnapping).

No matter what the Israelis do to the Palestinians, the Israelis insist that those actions are justified, and no matter how the Palestinians react, the Israelis insist those actions are never justified. By objective standards this Israeli attitude borders on the pathological.

There are multiple tragedies that result from this disconnect. The tragedy of the three Jewish kidnap victims is the one that is foremost in both I…

100 years ago today...... One shot still reverberating....

It's hard to believe that that what happened 100 years ago today triggered World War 1 - which still, to one degree or another, reverberates and has an effect on the world we live in today.

"As the 100th anniversary approaches, the clusters of visitors have thickened at the street-corner museum in Sarajevo’s old town that stands where Gavrilo Princip claimed his place in history on June 28, 1914, firing the shots that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and setting off World War I.

But for all the excited chatter among the tourists on the sidewalk where the 19-year-old Princip fired his Browning semiautomatic pistol, killing the 50-year-old heir to the Hapsburg throne and his pregnant consort, there is a pervasive ordinariness in the setting. Little about it conveys the enormity of the assassination and its aftermath: the major European powers and their allies — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires — marching in lock step into…

Rupert's "flame-haired" one-time editor

Rupert Murdoch - he who presides over sleazy newspapers, publishes so-called newspapers which are singularly partisan and, in effect, heads up Fox News - looked upon Rebekah Brooks as almost one of his family.   Remember Brooks?    Editor of the News of the World - #1 sleaze newspaper before its demise.

She was recently acquitted in what has become known as the hacking trial.       Mick Carlton, writing his weekly op-ed piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, comments on her acquittal....

"To the surprise of many people –  perhaps even herself – Rebekah Brooks beat the rap. On Tuesday the flame-haired siren of Rupert Murdoch's British media empire walked free from London's phone-hacking trial, along with her husband Charlie and a few other odds and sods. It was her one-time lover and former editor at the now extinct News of The World newspaper, Andy Coulson, who took the fall. He will go to jail. She will not. 

An old friend of mine in London who knows this stuff intimately tell…

Big business in the US catches on about the dangers (and cost) of climate change

Perhaps some people - or least those with a brain, unlike the the likes of the PM's of Australia's - are beginning to get it.  Climate change is going to pose a great, and costly, threat to all of us in all manner of ways.

"The US economy could suffer damages running into the hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century due to climate change, according to a study released yesterday. The report, titled “Risky Business,” is the first comprehensive assessment of the economic risks of climate change to the United States. It was commissioned by a panel of influential business leaders and former government officials, including hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

“I have had a fair amount of experience over my career in attempting to understand and manage risk,” said Paulson, alluding to the 2008 financial collapse. “In many ways the climate bubble is actually …

The dire and impoverished state of Iraq

In a "message" to the Iraqi PM in "The Human Narrative in Iraq Still Missing" on CommonDreams, the writer Claudia Lefko reveals some startling and sobering facts about present-day Iraq.

"The country statistics are dire across the boards. In terms of education, Iraq was a awarded a UNESCO prize for eradicating illiteracy in 1982. In March 2003, a UNESCO Fact Sheet stated: The education system in Iraq prior to 1991 was one of the best in the region, with over 100% gross enrollment rate for primary schooling, and a high level of literacy, both of men and women. The Higher Education, especially the scientific and technological institutions, were of an international standard, staffed by high qualification personnel. By 2004 Iraq's literacy rate was 74% (UNESCO) and by 2007 Education International estimated the rate had fallen to 65% (54% women and 74% men) This should come as no surprise. 84% of higher institutes of education and schools were damaged and/or dest…

Fever a la Brazillian style

Credited to Gary Varvel, the cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star

Israel in an abyss once again

Israel "misbehaviour" on show yet again....   Jonathan Cook, writing on CounterPunch, reports from Nazareth.

"For more than a month Israel sought to wriggle off a hook that should have snared it from the start. Two children, 17 and 16, were shot dead during Nakba Day protests near Ramallah, in which youths threw stones ineffectually at well-protected and distant Israeli military position.

Hundreds of Palestinian children have lost their lives over the years at the end of a sharpshooter’s sights, but the deaths of Nadim Nuwara and Mohammed Abu Al Thahir in Beitunia were not easily forgotten. Israel was quickly cornered by an accumulation of physical and visual evidence.

Israel’s usual denials – the deaths were faked, video footage was doctored, Israeli soldiers were not responsible, the youths provoked the soldiers, no live ammunition was used – have been discredited one by one. Slowly Israel conceded responsibility, if only by falling into a grudging silence.

A CCTV camera …

Australian Government plumbs new disgraceful depths

This from a Government where half of the Cabinet profess to be committed Christians.  The Agereports - with acerbic, and rightly outraged, critical comment....

"Bookies, as everyone on the wrong end of a losing bet knows, are a heartless lot.

But even the most hardboiled of bag-swingers, even those not averse to hiring large tattooed gentlemen to collect unpaid debts, would baulk at framing the odds on a punter having her toenails ripped out or his genitals clipped to a truck battery.

The current Australian government has no such benevolent hesitation. The Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, is planning to increase the stakes dramatically in deciding whether his nation should send an asylum seeker away to the dungeons and the hands of brutes.

And he wants to put a figure on the ghastly business. Yes. He’s offering an each-way bet, set a bit shy of 50-50.

Applicants for asylum on the basis of fear of torture must establish, under his proposal, that there is more than a 50 per cen…

A loud and clear message

WikiLeaks: Document Reveals Wall Street Plan for Global Financial Deregulation

Not only did the so-called financial titans on Wall St cause the GFC, a document now published by WikiLeaks reveals the nefarious, and mind-boggling, plans of these appalling figures.........

"WikiLeaks published a previously tightly-held and secretive draft of a trade document on Thursday that, if enacted, would give the world's financial powers an even more dominant position to control the global economy by avoiding regulations and public accountability.

Known as a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the draft represents the negotiating positions of the U.S. and E.U. and lays out the deregulatory strategies championed by some of the world's largest banks and investment firms.

According to WikiLeaks:

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets …

Egypt kicks its own goal

The so-called trials now underway in Egypt are a sham, a travesty and bear no relationship to a proper judicial process.   The latest judgements relate to, inter alia, a number of Al Jazeera journalists.    The world has been agog - and brought worldwide outrage - that they have been convicted in the first place, let alone the length of the sentences.

As Jess Hill, writing in The Guardian, concludes in her article:

"No Al-Jazeera report could have damaged Egypt’s reputation as much as this sentence. As my Australian-Egyptian colleague Amro Ali observed, there is no bigger threat to the Egyptian state than the Egyptian state."

Hill commences her piece:

"The verdict handed down Monday in the Al-Jazeera trial came as a shock. In a country whose citizens are systematically fed conspiracy theories, three journalists have been jailed for reporting the truth.

We all have so many questions. Was this the decision of one judge, or an order from the top? Egypt's judiciary can be bo…

The choice for Iraq

The turmoil in Iraq continues unabated.     It looks like Iraq will effectively be divided in some way or other.     What the Iraq War has wrought!

Dexter Filkins writing in The New Yorker, reflects on the current Iraqi PM and how long he can retain his position.

"Some leaders in both countries have said that the presence of even a small number of American troops, acting in non-combat roles, would help stabilize not just the military but Iraq as a whole, in part by helping to blunt the country’s sectarian dynamics. Whether or not this proves true, the actions that the President ordered will probably not prove decisive. Administration officials said that they were shocked not by the strength of isis, a group they have been tracking, but by the woeful performance of the Iraqi security forces. For the foreseeable future, the Iraqi Army is unlikely to be capable of retaking many of the areas lost to the militants.

In any case, the real questions are political, and they center on Maliki.…

A quiet word from Australia's Foreign Minister to Secretary of State Kerry

On Iraq: Stand up village idiots!

Mike Carlton is a fearless and up-front opinion writer for the Sydney Morning Herald. 

In his latest weekly column "Iraq today was sadly so inevitable" he reminds us of some of the "better" quotes and positions of a number of people in 2003 pre the attack on Baghdad.   Remember? - "Shock and Awe".

"WMD doubts are ludicrous'. Headline, The Australian, July 10, 2003.
"Obviously, the immensely difficult situation in Iraq is not resolved. Despite the election for the national assembly and provincial legislators, full democracy is still some time off ... But, now, at least Iraq has a chance of establishing a system of representative government ... There is a real possibility now that Iraq might become one of the few representative governments in the Middle East. – Gerard Henderson, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 1, 2005.

"The Iraq war was the right war against the right enemy at the right time, and waged for broadly the right reasons. There…

US Government called to account

The message is is the litigation which 16 news organisations have launched against the US Government.    And not before time, one might add, to see the media reflect what it's role is really supposed to be.    CommonDreams reports in "News Outlets: Public Must See 'What Is Done in Their Name at Gitmo'"

"A group of news organizations on Friday filed a motion (pdf) in a federal court seeking the right of the public to see videotape evidence of force-feedings of a Guantanamo detainee in order to be able to "exercise democratic oversight of its Government."

The 16 news organizations, which include the McClatchy Company, First Look Media, the Guardian US, Reuters and the Washington Post, seek to intervene in the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a 42-year-old Syrian man who has been held at the offshore prison for over ten years without charge, and was cleared for release in 2009. With no other recourse, he has turned to a hunger strike.

In the cas…

Iraq - 2014

What is happening in Iraq clearly isn't the remotest bit funny, but the ever-sharp Andy Borowitz, who writes for The New Yorker, makes a punchy and valid point....

"President George W. Bush unveiled his latest offering as an artist today—a painting of what he imagines Iraq looks like now.

Talking to reporters at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, the President said he did not read the news before composing his latest work. “I was never big on that,” he said.

Pronouncing himself pleased with his painting of Iraq, Mr. Bush said he was getting to work on a new painting entitled, “The World’s Really Nice Climate.”

Meanwhile, an excellent op-ed piece in The Guardian rightly asks why it is - as it has been all along - that we don't ever hear, or see, Iraqi voices on what is happening in their worn-torn country or what the people think or feel.

"Since last week’s victories by the militant group Isis against a weak, US-backed, Iraqi government, the same…

Two women......each in very different worlds and with differing lives

It ought to give us pause for reflection that whilst there are doubtlessly many poor people in the West, and other parts of the world, there are also significant numbers of people who are beyond poor - on a multitude of levels.      This latest op-piece for The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof puts things into sharp focus and context.   Two women.... with totally different lives.

"Readers often ask: Why do I travel to places like Sudan or Myanmar when we Americans have so many challenges at home to worry about?

As Janessa put it on my Facebook page: “Shouldn’t we take care of the issues within our own borders BEFORE we try and fix everyone else’s?”

It’s a fair question, and it comes up often now. We’re weary with the world, and so many humanitarian problems seem insoluble. We’re ready to turn inward.

Yet perhaps an encounter last month in Myanmar on my annual “win-a-trip” journey, with a college student in tow, can help answer the question.

The winner of my contest this year was Nic…

The New York Times failing as a newspaper.....again!

The newspaper of record and which carries the banner "All the News Fit to Print" is found wanting....again.    

It makes one wonder what responsibility a newspaper has when confronted with information which, on any reasonable assessment, ought to be published in the public interest - even if the powers-that-be clearly want otherwise.

From The//Intercept....

"NPR’s David Folkenflik has a revealing new look at what I have long believed is one of the most important journalistic stories of the last decade: The New York Times‘ 2004 decision, at the behest of George W. Bush himself, to suppress for 15 months (through Bush’s re-election) its reporters’ discovery that the NSA was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Folkenflik’s NPR story confirms what has long been clear: The only reason the Times eventually published that article was because one of its reporters, James Risen, had become so frustrated that he wrote a book that was about to break the story, leav…

Vivid Sydney

"Slavery is back"

It is bad enough that workers in sweat-shops toil for a pittance, in appalling conditions, to manufacture the clothing sold by up-market stores in the West, but after a six-month Guardian multimedia investigation the newspaper has, for the first time, tracked how some of the world's big-supermakets, Tesco, Aldi, Walmart and Morrisons, are using suppliers relying on slave labour to put cheap prawns on their shelves

As The Guardian says....."slavery is back".     Go here to see the video produced by the newspaper.

Robert Fisk: "Iraq crisis - Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia"

Robert Fisk, journalist, author and commentator - and resident in Beirut for upwards of 30 years - probably knows the Middle East better than anyone else.

He writes about the upheaval in Iraq, and the region generally, in his latest piece for The Independent....

"So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.

From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.

"Bush and Blair destroyed Saddam’s regime to make the world safe and declared that Iraq was part of a titanic battle against 'Islamofascism.' Well, they lost."…

One view of Australia's PM hot-footing it to see Rupert Murdoch in NY

Credited to Glen Le Lievre.

From Saddam to a "thug in a suit"

Journalist (and author) Paul McGeough is the Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald - and one of only a handful who stayed the course in Baghdad when the allies unleashed the war  - remember "Shock and Awe" - against Iraq and was "out in the field" reporting unlike most journalists who remained holed up in a hotel in Baghdad reporting from there.

McGeough analyses, today, on what is happening in Iraq and Obama's candid acknowledgement of the situation.

"Barack Obama’s oblique acknowledgement on Thursday that the US had left the people of Iraq at the mercy of a thug in a suit was the reality check that Americans had to have.

In casting this week’s dramatic march by Islamist militias  into Iraq’s north-west as a wake-up call for the dictator-like Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Mr Obama was being more truthful about the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq than is usually allowed.

For months we’ve been hearing that rising violence in …

Recession......leading to suicide

It is said by some that we have passed the GFC - a questionable proposition!    Whilst the bankers and their cohorts "escape" from any personal liability, let alone being prosecuted for their undoubted misdeeds (a mild term!),  reflect on this report on BBC News of a study tying suicide to the recession.

"The economic crisis in Europe and North America led to more than 10,000 extra suicides, according to figures from UK researchers.

A study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, showed "suicides have risen markedly".

The research group said some deaths may have been avoidable as some countries showed no increase in suicide rate.

Campaign groups said the findings showed how important good mental health services were.

The study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analysed data from 24 EU countries, the US and Canada.

It said suicides had been declining in Europe until 2007. By 2009 there was a 6.5% increase, a…

A sad reflection on the dangers of going to school in America

Credited to Clay Bennett, truthdig


Not surprisingly to anyone who has followed politics over the years - and saw the Iraq War for what it really was! - Iraq is back in the news as its sinks into utter chaos.    Now there is even talk of the US, and its allies, having troops back in Iraq.

Bernard Keane, political editor for the online Crikey, in reflecting on the present situation in Iraq and what the neo-conservatives (the same scourge as always!) are saying what should be done, records some sobering stats...

"The United States is estimated to have spent $1.7 trillion on the Iraq War so far, with much more to come via healthcare and veterans’ costs -- the real corporate winners from the war aren't so much defence companies or even services companies, but US healthcare companies. The final total may be around $4 trillion, decades hence. The cost to the United Kingdom of its participation was US$14 billion in 2010; the cost to Australian taxpayers of our role had, by 2011, reached $2.4 billion. The war led to the …

Everything but a so-called "settlement"

In the light of Five big EU countries pressing Israel to delay settlement plans (see here) the question has to be.....are these so-called "settlements" only that?

The photograph, above, of just one of these "settlements" under construction, clearly shows that we are talking about a substantial infrastructure of a town or small city, with sidewalks, shopping centres and swimming pools, etc. etc.     

So let's sweep away the pretence of projecting an image of tents and caravans representing what are said to be "settlements".

Exhibit #1 - of how dumb and dangerous Fox News is

To think that some so-called leaders of their nations are prepared to sit down with the Sun King - good ol' Rupert - let alone take him, or any of his media outlets seriously, knowing the absolute tripe they serve up, notably Fox News, is more than troublesome.    Watch this brilliant put-down of Fox News by John Stewart.

Failure upon failure.....with tragic consequences

The news out of Syria is terrible.   In Egypt things go from bad to worse.   Afghanistan is a basket-case.   And now the latest news from Iraq sees that country, in effect, collapse.   

Much of the turmoil in these countries can be attributed to the Iraq and Afghan wars - both at the instigation of America and its allies - and support for corrupt regimes such as the one in Egypt.   Americans being boosters for Israel doesn't do much for stability in the region either.

The latest piece "Don’t Walk Away from War" on TomDispatch is therefore timely.

"The United States has been at war -- major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, air strikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts, and covert actions -- nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began.  That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions.

Given the historical re…

Idiot climate change deniers v reality

On either accepts the position of the likes of the Canadian and Australian climate change deniers - or the evidence of what is happening in the real world.

Check this out as the one position....

"The prime ministers of Australia and Canada joined their conservative voices in Ottawa on Monday to stress the need for economic growth over policies that address the climate crisis.

"I’m happy to call you an exemplar of center-right leadership," Australia's Tony Abbott said of Canada's Stephen Harper. "Much for us to learn, much for me to learn from the work you’ve done," he said.

Abbott and Harper downplayed the threats of climate change, and said that they would not take any measures to address it that would "hurt the economy."

Abbott said climate change is "not the only or even the most important problem that the world faces."

"It's not that we don't seek to deal with climate change," said Harper. "But we seek to deal w…

Whack! No fond farewell for Eric Cantor there

We all know politicians are not the most favourite people around, but the response to America's Congress member, Eric Cantor, losing his slot as a Republican in primaries a few days ago, is clear to one writer in "Everyone hates Eric Cantor" on CommonDreams.    A loud and clear direct message.   Whack.... and ouch!!!!

"Eric Cantor's loss of his re-election big to an unknown Tea Party challenger - despite reportedly outspending him $5 million to $122,000 - is being called an earthquake, a shocker, a stunner, the upset of the century etc etc. It's also just desserts for one of the meanest cretins to ever besmirch a national stage, one who overcame fierce competition to earn the dubious title of least likable member of Congress - even in his own district. To see why, visit the long-running "Eric Cantor Is A Douchebag" Facebook page. They're taking unfond farewells.

Update: A tweet from inside a GOP meeting says Cantor quoted a Holocaust survivor tha…

The "new" European Parliament. Not as right-veering as everyone said

The reaction to the recent elections for the European Parliament was a pronounced shock at how well parties on the right had done - notably Le Pen in France and Golden dawn in Greece.   A sober reflection and analysis shows that things didn't turn out as the media hype suggested.

"Now that the dust has settled from the recent elections for the European Parliament, it is time to take a deep breath and see what really happened.

No, Britain is not about to toss its immigrant population into the sea. No, France’s Marine Le Pen is not about to march on the Elysee Palace. And as repulsive as the thugs of Hungary’s Jobbik Party and Greece’s Golden Dawn are, it was the continent’s left to whom the laurels went in last month’s poll.

Parties that targeted unemployment, austerity, and the growing wealth gap in Europe did well. The dramatic breakthrough of right-wing, racist, and xenophobic parties in France, Britain, and Denmark had less to do with a neo-Nazi surge than with the inability …

Those phoney elections in the Middle East

A point well made by Juan Cole on his blog, Informed Comment - the lack of response to the recent phoney elections in many of the Middle East countries.

"The world has been treated to a whole series of “elections” in the Middle East recently. Iraq had parliamentary elections, Libya’s parliament voted for a new prime minister, and Egypt and Syria had presidential elections. This summer, Turkey will have elections.

It would be nice if all these elections signaled a turn in the region to democracy. They don’t."


"So elections in the Middle East are a dead end in and of themselves. They function as authoritarian plebiscites, adding to the power of the president and fobbing off the public with promises that gradually there will be a turn to real democracy. In 2011 the public got tired of waiting for the real thing. Elites have responded with counter-revolutions. Those may not succeed, either.

I think the young people all see the phoney elections for what they are. Some are …

One brand of car you might wanna avoid

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

Bergdahl: His disappearance and the aftermath......

Amy Goodman, writing in "Bergdahl, Afghanistan, and the Darkening of the American Soul" on truthdig, about the now re-appeared Bowe Bergdahl......

"When Bowe Bergdahl was reported missing in Afghanistan on the morning of June 30, 2009, a crack formed in the U.S. narrative about the longest war in our nation’s history. Bergdahl’s release this week, as part of a prisoner-of-war swap with the Taliban, has provoked the partisan pundits to hurl invective at the American POW, his family, and at President Barack Obama. Far removed from the din of these professional Beltway hecklers, though, in Hailey, Idaho, Bob Bergdahl, the young prisoner’s father, has been struggling for his son’s release. The ordeal of the son, and the disciplined, contemplative activism of the father, projects the U.S. war in Afghanistan through a different lens.

We know little yet of what exactly led to Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance that night in Paktika province. Sean Smith, a filmmaker with The Guardian,…

SecureDrop awaits any whilstleblowers out there.......

Oh may, how the world has changed post Edward Snowden bursting onto the world stage.....   Welcome to SecureDrop!

"The Guardian has launched a secure platform for whistleblowers to securely submit confidential documents to the newspaper’s reporters.

The launch comes a year to the day since the Guardian posted the first of a series of NSA documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, sparking a worldwide debate on surveillance, privacy, and civil liberties.

Free speech and privacy groups alongside popular sites including Reddit, BoingBoing and Imgur, are marking the day with a Reset the Net campaign, encouraging internet users to take direct action to secure their privacy online. Several technology companies are also expected to announce new steps to protect users’ privacy over the course of the day.

The SecureDrop open-source whistleblowing platform provides a way for sources, who can choose to remain anonymous, to submit documents and data while avoiding virtually all of…

Take that Tony! (Blair)

Who needs friends and confidantes?....

From The Huffington Post on former Brit PM, Tony Blair - whom many consider a war criminal, alongside George Bush and Australia's PM John Howard because of their "involvement" and actions in connection with the Iraq War.

"Tony Blair is a narcissist with a messiah complex who lives a tragic life, according to his former friend Robert Harris.

The best-selling author, a once close confidant of the former prime minister who has since become a fierce critic, lashed out at Blair for turning his back on parliament once he quit as PM to go and "hang out with a lot of rich people in America".

In his latest attack on the former Labour leader, who has never escaped the legacy of Iraq, Harris also holds up Lord Mandelson, who has been known to associate with a super-rich crowd, as a paragon of plain living and frugality compared to ex-premier.

Harris, a former political journalist, is the author of The Ghost, a book turned into a film…

The colossal logistics of D-Day

Yesterday, 6 June, marked the 75 anniversary of D-Day.....

It is staggering to reflect on the huge logistics involved - before the advent of computers.   BBC Newshas put the sheer numbers into a graphic.

Reset the Net

All users of the internet should see the actions of those involved in this project as critically important.    The threat to all our unfettered use of the internet is clear - all in the name of so-called security and post the Snowden revelations.  

"To mark the one year anniversary of the first reporting based on information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 5, 2013, privacy advocates, organizations, and technology companies all over the world on Thursday are participating in 'Reset The Net'—an online day of action in which participants pledge to take real steps to protect online freedoms and fight back against mass surveillance.

"We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance."
—Edward Snowden

"Don't ask for your privacy," goes the call issued by the campaign, "Take it back."

Coordinated by a broad coalition of policy organizations and activist gr…

Kafka alive and well in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has always touted itself as having a first-rate judicial system and open and orderly - and free from the sort of political appointments, often bizarre proceedings and seemingly politically motivated decisions as in the USA.

How 9/11 has changed things....a la what we read in this piece on CommonDreams of a trial presently underway in the UK.   Kafka has landed in Great Britain!

"For the first time in the UK's modern legal history, two men could face an entirely secret criminal trial for terrorism charges, their identities, the proceedings, and the verdict concealed from the public record.

First reported Wednesday, the blackout sparked alarm among human rights campaigners, lawyers, and politicians.

“To hold trials entirely in secret is an outrageous assault on the fundamental principles of British justice," Clare Algar, executive director of UK human rights organization Reprieve, told the Telegraph.

Until Wednesday, the media was banned from reporting the tr…

Disparity and inequality writ large

Regular readers of this blog will have seen posts in the past about the ever-growing issue of disparity and inequality between the "rich" and the "poor" showing up in many countries.   To say that it's disproportionate is an understatement!     

This piece, from TomDispatch tackles the subject from a  slightly different angle.   What is startling are the stats the piece throws up.

"Last year eight Americans -- the four Waltons of Walmart fame, the two Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett -- made more money than 3.6 million American minimum-wage workers combined. The median pay for CEOs at America's large corporations rose to $10 million per year, while a typical chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker's salary, up sharply from 181 times in 2009. Overall, 1% of Americans own more than a third of the country’s wealth.

As the United States slips from its status as the globe's number one economic power, small numbers of A…

A wise move

Credited to Clay Bennett, Cagle Cartoons

Australia opens itself open to ridicule about its policy on East Jerusalem

It is bad enough that Australia is lead by a PM who is increasingly the subject of derision (even the Washington Post had a headline article about the man recently describing him as one of Australia's worst PMs) but with a cabinet of people such as his Foreign Minister and Attorney-General, anything is likely to be said or done.  Take today's policy pronouncement on Australia's position on East Jerusalem as but one example
Haaretz reports:

"The Australian government will no longer refer to East Jerusalem as an occupied territory, it emerged Wednesday in a statement released by Attorney-General George Brandeis after a Senate Estimates hearing. This constitutes a dramatic shift in Australian policy on Israel since 1967.

During the hearing, which focused on the country's foreign policy in the Middle East, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon called East Jerusalem occupied territory several times. Brandeis, who was responding to questions during the hearing, rejected use of th…