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Showing posts from August, 2014

What worries Americans.....

Given that Americans are, by and large, an insular people, the latest Pew / US Today poll of what concerns Americans makes for interesting reading.

"In a new Pew/ USA Today poll, the American public shows itself alarmed by the rise of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq and Syria as a threat to U.S. security, finding it more threatening even than Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who has risen on the villain scale quite a lot.  Iran is seen as less menacing, as is North Korea.  The Israel-Palestinian struggle is seen as a threat to the U.S. by a little over half.  More Americans still think the U.S. is doing too much as the world’s policeman, but those who think it is doing too little have greatly increased in number, especially among Republicans. "

Continue reading here.

Your Top 10 Questions About the World's Biggest Problems Answered

Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard, writing his regular blog column on FP goes out on what some might see as out on a limb to address the 10 top questions about the world's present biggest problems.   For instance, No. 1: Will there be a deal on Ukraine?

"The crisis in Ukraine has been a colossal failure of analysis and of diplomacy, with plenty of blame to share on all aides. The main victims, alas, have been the unfortunate Ukrainian people. As I've written before, I think the United States and the West played a key role in causing the crisis, mostly by failing to anticipate that Russia was going to respond forcefully and vigorously to what its leaders regarded as a gradual attempt to incorporate Ukraine into the West. One need not approve of Russia's response to recognize that the United States should have seen it coming and thought more carefully about our interests and objectives beforehand.

Since the collapse of the Yanukovych government…

The Fall... and Rise of Investigative Journalism?

The basic premise of this piece "Anya Schiffrin, Who Knew We Were Living in the Golden Age of Investigative Journalism?" on TomDispatch will surprise many.   May it be true.....for all our sakes!

"In her new book, Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism from Around the World, Anya Schiffrin, the director of the media and communications program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, chronicles the brave new world of global journalism in the age of the Internet (and how the stage was set for the new golden age of the reader we’re living in). In her inaugural article for TomDispatch, the longtime foreign correspondent reveals the investigative exposés by today’s top global muckrakers that you missed and explains why investigative journalism is on the rise, not the decline, worldwide.

From Asia to Central America, a new generation of Nellie Blys and Ida Tarbells, Seymour Hershes and Rachel Carsons, is breaking one big story afte…

UN says Syria facing "biggest humanitarian emergency in an era'. US considers bombing the country!

There is something wrong here!     The UN makes a dire prediction about the war-torn Syria - and America is considering bombing the country.    

"The number of official Syrian refugees has passed three million, tripling in a year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced on Friday, calling the crisis "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."

The figures come only from registered refugees, so the total amount is likely to be significantly higher, the agency said. With an additional 6.5 million forced to flee their homes by the conflict that has ravaged the country since 2011, nearly half of Syria's population has now been displaced by the war.

"Almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives," the commissioner, António Guterres, said on Friday in Geneva. "One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million more than a year ago. A further 6.5 million are displaced …

The same message...just louder!

The message is the same......only louder and more urgent and compelling....

"Climate change is here. Climate change is now. Climate change will be significantly more dangerous, deadly, and expensive if nothing is done to correct humanity's course, but aspects of future shifts are probably already irreversible.

That's the assessment of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has sent world governments a draft of its final "Synthesis Report" which seeks to tie together previous reports the panel has released over the last year and offers a stark assessment of the perilous future the planet and humanity face due to global warming and climate change.

Based on a clear and overwhelming consensus among the world's leading scientists, the draft says that failure to adequately acknowledge and act on previous warnings has put the planet on a path where “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” of human-caused climate change will…

Things aren't lookin' good in Europe

Some startling facts about the state of things in Europe - stark austerity- emerge from this piece "Austerity Has Made Europe’s Depression Longer Than In The 1930s" on Common Dreams.

Europe’s economic depression has now lasted longer than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Meanwhile, America’s “Great Recession” also drags on thanks to cutbacks in government spending since the stimulus.

Europe’s leaders somehow were convinced that austerity – “deficit reduction” through cutbacks in government – would somehow lead them out of their economic doldrums. They believed that taking money out of the economy would help the economy. The result has been terrible. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog calls Europe’s austerity-lengthened depression “one of the biggest catastrophes in economic history.”

To top it off, Europe’s governments are learning that cutting back on spending not only worsens the economic picture, causing terrible unemployment, poverty and human misery, but the worsened economi…

Social Media. Stifling, if not silencing debate, altogether

Let it not be said that we are not living in an ever-rapidly changing world.    Technology has brought many positives with it, but life, and all that entails on a daily basis, including our interaction with others, is changing - and not necessarily for the better.   Take the impact of social media!

"The Internet might be a useful tool for activists and organizers, in episodes from the Arab Spring to the Ice Bucket Challenge. But over all, it has diminished rather than enhanced political participation, according to new data.

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.

The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissent…

Whither Iraq and Syria?

The "mess" in the Middle East continues to grow daily.    Possible shifting alliances and threats from this or that quarter make for hard decisions how to deal with it all.

Obama is confronted with some difficult decisions, as this piece on The New Yorker discusses.

"On his first full day back from vacation, President Barack Obama could be forgiven for wishing he were still on Martha’s Vineyard. With confirmation that ISIS fighters have just captured another military base from the government forces of President Assad, and that Qatar has engineered the release of an American freelance journalist who was being held by a non-ISIS jihadist group, Obama has two formidable challenges to deal with.

The immediate task for Obama is deciding whether to launch American bombing raids on ISIS positions inside Syria, while simultaneously preparing his Administration, and the country at large, for the possibility of another video showing an American hostage being butchered. The ISIS mili…

"Using" the internet to effect hatred and poison

Troubling piece "The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter - Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel"  from Common Dreams on how it uncovered it's web site being manipulated.......

"Like many other news websites, Common Dreams has been plagued by inflammatory anti-Semitic comments following its stories. But on Common Dreams these posts have been so frequent and intense they have driven away donors from a nonprofit dependent on reader generosity.

A Common Dreams investigation has discovered that more than a thousand of these damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.

His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that …

Antipathy writ large

A young protester covers his face with the US flag in Ferguson Monday.
Startling, but perhaps not all that surprising, figures emerge from this op-ed piece "White America's racial blinders" in The Boston Globe - dealing with the upheavals in Ferguson and beyond - on the divide in America between white and black.

"The dispiriting saga from Ferguson, Mo., provides another tragic window on decades of indifference to economic disparities — and on those fatal split seconds when police see black men as violent criminals rather than citizens. Ferguson raises anew the question of how many more unarmed black men must die before the nation declares this an all-American problem.

As unjustified as the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown was, and as much as it has dominated the news, white America has barely shrugged its shoulders. Evidence of that indifference came Monday when the Pew Research Center released a national survey of attitudes about Ferguson and its meaning.


Illegal, inhuman and immoral

Israel is forever touting its IDF is the most moral army in the world.     Good for PR  - but a blatant lie!     So, what to make of an Israeli Major-General, no less, advocating stopping the flow of food and water to Gaza's 1.8 million people?

"Israeli Major-General Giora Eiland has urged that all food and water be cut off to Gaza’s nearly 1.8 million Palestinian residents – a major war crime and precisely the “starve or surrender” policy which the United States has condemned when used in Syria.

Eiland, the Israeli government’s former national security advisor, argues that Gaza should be considered an enemy “state.”

“Since Gaza is in fact a state in a military confrontation with us, the proper way to put pressure on them is to bring to a full stop the supplies from Israel to Gaza, not only of electricity and fuel, but also of food and water,” he wrote in a Hebrew-language op-ed on Mako, a website affiliated with Israel’s Channel 2 television.

“A state cannot simultaneously atta…

Thanks for serving for your country, but.....

So much for looking after your service personnel and for them putting their lives on the line for their country.....

"This month, the US military announced that the air force had delivered more than 110,000 meal rations to stranded Yazidi refugees in Iraq, in a mission that prompted President Obama to hail “the skill and professionalism of our military, and the generosity of our people.”

Also this month, a new report found that the nation’s food pantries serve 620,000 families with a member in the military—another troubling indication that service members battling against poverty must often rely on the generosity of our charities.

The stunning figure, which represents roughly a quarter of the households of military members on active duty, the Reserves or National Guard, shows that even as the United States purports to wind down its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and soldiers return to civilian life, they are resettling into a hostile economic climate, on a precarious landscape o…

Which military plan?

Credited to Clay Bennett

Israel in the (legal) firing line

It was almost bound to happen.   With the seemingly disproportionate bombardment of Gaza, there are now moves afoot to bring Israel to account for committing war crimes.

"The push to engage the International Criminal Court in an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel for it military attacks on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip is gaining steam among Palestinian political factions as well as members of the international legal community.

On Friday, an international coalition of legal advocacy organizations wrote to the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urging her to initiate an investigation into serious crimes committed by Israeli forces during it ongoing military operation against Palestinians living in Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge.

And on Saturday—as Israeli airstrikes and bombing appeared to intensify once again—Hamas made it known that it will now support an effort by the Palestinian Authority to formally join the ICC."


"The le…

Ferguson: Just waiting to happen

The outrage following the shooting of a young black man by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, ought not come as a surprise given what we know how the Afro-American community is still treated in the USA.     One can only hope that there might be a positive outcome from the tragedy of what occurred in Ferguson.    All too sadly, racism remains rife in the USA despite progress having made on some fronts to eradicate it.    Just look at the epithets directed at the country's own President.  

This piece from Bloomberg BusinessWeek puts things into context.

"Early this year, before the summer weather in Ferguson, Mo., turned to a fog of tear gas and a hail of rubber bullets, before the downscale suburb began to share national airtime with Sierra Leone and Iraq, a legal aid firm called ArchCity Defenders prepared a white paper that accused several municipalities in St. Louis County of stopping black drivers disproportionately for traffic violations, fining them in court sessions that …

Alert! The Artic and Antartic

The sceptics can question however and whatever they like, but most of us know - witness the odd and out character patterns around the world - that we are confronted by climate change.   The overwhelming scientific evidence is in.  The only problem is the failure by politicians to take decisive measures to counter what is upon us and for generations to come.     Further evidence of the effects of climate change comes today.

"The effect of climate change on the world’s two polar regions looks like a stark contrast: the Arctic is warming faster than most of the rest of the Earth, while most of Antarctica appears to remain reassuringly locked in a frigid embrace.

But an international scientific team says the reality is quite different. The Antarctic is warming too, it says, and the southern ice could become the main cause of global sea level rise during this century − far sooner than previously thought.

The study, led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany…

Meanwhile in Syria and Libya.....

All too sadly one trouble spot or issue flares up somewhere in the world at any given time - with the result that the media moves on too, and we, the public, lose focus on still present and ongoing conflicts and the like.    Two good examples.   The "war" in Syria and Libya effectively falling apart, if it hasn't already.

First, Syria:

"The number of dead in Syria’s civil war more than doubled in the past year to at least 191,000, the United Nations human rights office said Friday. The agency’s chief, Navi Pillay, bluntly criticized Western nations, saying their inaction in the face of the slaughter had “empowered and emboldened” the killers.

In its third report on Syria commissioned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 191,369 deaths from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to April 2014, more than double the 92,901 deaths cited in their last report, which covered the first two years of the conflict.

“Tragically, it is probably an …

Oz PM: Irresponsible whipping up of hysteria

As if it wasn't bad enough that there is enough anti-Muslim feeling whipped up, with the outrageous beheading of the American journalist, one would have thought that reflective comments would be made by political leaders.    Not Australia's PM - sometimes dubbed "the Mad Monk" - who went into irresponsible over-drive with absurd statements about the killing of journalist Foley and what might follow in countries like Australia.

"Horrific acts of terrorism such as the ''truly sickening and utterly evil'' beheading of journalist James Foley could happen in Western countries including Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said.
Speaking in Melbourne on Thursday morning, Mr Abbott said the revelation that Mr Foley's killer appeared to be British was a reminder that such atrocities were not distant events.

''As for the apparent truth that the murderer was a British citizen, it just goes to show that while these events are taking place far …

Skewing....or worse still, ignoring the news

A good example (thanks to FAIR highlighting it) of how a newspaper keeps its readers in the dark - especially in America where the media is singularly absent, or deficient, in reporting on the news, more particularly if it relates to something outside the USA.

"After more than a decade of criticism, the New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced (8/7/14) that when the paper reports on US torture, it will call it "torture" (FAIR Blog, 8/8/14).
But what if the paper decides that well-documented evidence of US torture is not fit to print?

On August 11, Amnesty International released a lengthy report about abuses in Afghanistan committed by US forces and others, including Afghan security. The report includes serious allegations about US Special Forces torturing Afghan civilians.

The Amnesty report has received some attention in US outlets, including the LA Times (8/11/14), Washington Post (8/11/14), the Daily Beast  (8/11/14) and CBS News (8/12/14).
But it has yet to …

GMOs? Savour for feeding a hot world?

Stark realities confronting us all....

"Eduardo Blumwald’s genetically modified plants don’t look much like “Frankenfood.” Filling four modest greenhouses in a concrete lot behind Blumwald’s laboratory at the University of California, Davis, the tiny seedlings, spiky grasses, alfalfa, and peanut and rice plants in plastic terracotta-colored pots look exactly like the ordinary varieties from which he and his fellow researchers created them. Blumwald’s lab lies just ten miles from Monsanto’s 90,000-square-foot vegetable seed building, a glassy edifice larger than the hangar for a 747. The Monsanto facility is one of the largest centers in the world for plant breeding and genetic engineering. But in the fourteen years that Blumwald, a professor of cell biology, has worked here studying the DNA of crop plants, he has hardly ever spoken to anyone from Monsanto."

Blue-eyed and round-faced, with a lilting Argentinian accent, Blumwald grows exasperated when he talks about the so-calle…

What the......?

It can probably be fairly said that there has been universal condemnation of the way in which Israel bombed Gaza and shot at its civilians in the latest "war" between Hamas and Israel.     However, one person was not even prepared to utter a word of criticism!     Step up to the plate Hilary Clinton.......

"Israel’s best spokesperson is none other than our very own former secretary of state, according to Haaretz columnist and professor Peter Beinart, who argues that Hillary Clinton’s empathy for Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisions is exactly why she “gets so much wrong” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Beinart’s recent piece for the Israeli newsaper, he breaks down claims Clinton made in an interview Sunday with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg to show why Israel’s latest “lawyer,” as the Haaretz headline refers to her, is endorsing the wrong guy.


Most remarkable of all, Clinton tells Goldberg that, “If I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I …

Reflecting on Robin Williams......and all those others out there

Credited to Nick Anderson, truthdig

How very timely

One might be accused of being more than cynical, but looked at objectively the facts speak for themselves.

"Last week, the Obama administration latched onto the plight of Iraq’s Yazidis who were being persecuted by those awful ISIS folks – just in jolly good time to divert attention from the massacre in Gaza.

How handy. All three US networks and the increasingly shackled BBC were ordered to drop Gaza reporting and refocus their camera teams on the suffering Yazidis and, all of a sudden, Iraq’s fleeing Christians.

This was a brilliant media ploy. The world, which was furious at the US for enabling Israel’s savaging of Gaza and killing of almost 2,000 Palestinians, switched its attention to the hitherto unknown Yazidis, and to Iraqi Christians. No one in the US had ever heard of Yazidis but that was ok. Uncle Sam to the rescue.

No mention was made that Iraq’s Christians had been safe and sound under President Saddam Hussein – even privileged – until President George Bush invaded and de…

Salute to a dignified and principled protester

Could there be a much more dignified and compelling protest?

"As protests continue against the Israeli assault in Gaza - including the arrest of Australian protesters who stormed a subsidiary of an Israeli arms manufacturer in Melbourne - another singular, dignified protest: Henk Zanoli, a 91-year-old Dutch man declared Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jewish child during the Nazi occupation - during which his family worked with the Resistance and his parents perished in death camps - returned his medal after six of his relatives were killed by an Israeli bomb in Gaza. In a letter to Ambassador Haim Davon, Zanoli explained that he and his family had strongly supported the idea of a Jewish homeland, but "over more than six decades I have however slowly come to realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist element in it."

“Against this background it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the m…

Grave and dire humanitarian crisis ignored by the world

The poor people of Africa.     Yes, Africa is a continent so often besieged with one "problem" or the other - famine and wars to name but two - but again, today, with the world concentrating on a multitude of issues in the Middle East and the Ukraine (and that's only two of them), the world has seemingly ignored the people of South Sudan who are confronted with a really dire humanitarian crisis.

--> The United Nations says the deepening humanitarian emergency in South Sudan is the "worst in the world" and warns 50,000 children could die this year unless the aid effort is scaled up. But it’s largely a forgotten crisis, overshadowed by strife in other parts of the world including Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. Aid agencies say they've found it difficult to raise money to fund operations in South Sudan, despite a growing threat of famine.

Caitlin Brady, an aid worker with Save the Children in South Sudan, said about 4 million people in the country are …

Gaza: A devastating aftermath

As more and more evidence emerges of how the Israelis targeted Gazans generally - as distinct from so-called Hamas terrorists - and infrastructure in Gaza (power and water supplies, factories and farmlands) in the recent bombardment of Gaza, this piece from Forward details the breadth and effect of the Israeli onslaught.     Killing people, many of them innocent civilians, and children to boot, was bad enough, but the widespread devastation otherwise will take years to be made good.

"The conflict in Gaza has caused serious damage to crops, herds and fishing as well as greenhouses and irrigation systems, bringing food production to a halt and sending prices sharply higher, the United Nations food body said on Thursday.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement that virtually the entire local population of about 1.8 million was dependent on food aid and significant long term help would be needed for local farms to recover."


"Food prices …

Reflecting on the tragic death of Robin Williams....and suicide

The world, justifiably, mourns the death, at the age of 63, by his own hand, of the much-talented actor and comedian Robin Williams.      All too sadly Williams suffered depression, a malady which afflicts many - as this piece in The New Yorker, reflecting on Williams' death, details.    The figures for suicide in the USA and other Western countries are truly alarming.

"Every forty seconds, someone commits suicide. In the United States, it is the tenth most common cause of death in people over ten years of age, far more common than death by homicide or aneurysm or AIDS. Nearly half a million Americans are taken to the hospital every year because of suicide attempts. One in five people with major depression will make such an attempt; there are approximately sixteen non-lethal attempts for every lethal one. The rate of suicide is going up, especially among middle-aged men. These statistics get dragged out over and over again, but they bear the endless repetition. Suicide may be …

No justice by the Americans for the Afghanis

It is a blight on America that it has treated the Afghanis so appallingly - if this report from Human Rights Watch is to be believed.     For a country forever lecturing the rest of the world about democracy and a decent judicial system, yet again America is more than sadly lacking in its own dealings with a fraught situation in Afghanistan.

"There has been no justice for thousands of Afghan civilians killed and countless injured by U.S. and other international forces in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013, according to a report released late Friday by the human rights group Amnesty International.

The report, Left in the Dark: Failures of Accountability for Civilian Casualties Caused by International Military Operations in Afghanistan (pdf), focuses on operations carried out by U.S. Special Forces and troops under the command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the large majority of which are from the U.S. The study found that even apparent war crime…

Iraq: Paying for the folly of Bush, Blair & Howard

A spot-on editorial from Crikey (Australian on line daily publication):

"The decision of the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Iraq in defence of Yazidi refugees and what is, for all intents and purposes, the new independent Kurdish state against Islamic State forces is the correct one. But it also demonstrates the extent to which Iraq has been left as an unviable state in the wake of the attack on Saddam Hussein. The most powerful symbol of this was when US airstrikes destroyed the Humvees of Islamic State forces. These US-supplied vehicles were captured from fleeing Iraqi army forces in June.

All of this is the product of the vast historical tragedy of the Iraq War. It is a war that has so far cost nearly US$2 trillion and, according to American estimates, will eventually cost up to US$4 trillion by the time the last veteran of the conflict dies and the ongoing medical bill associated with treating veterans is finalised. That cost does not include the over 5000 alli…

Enter Pyongyang

 “Enter Pyongyang” is another stunning collaboration between city-­branding pioneer JT Singh and flow-motion videographer Rob Whitworth. Blending time-lapse photography, acceleration and slow motion, HD and digital animation, they have produced a cutting‐edge panorama of a city hardly known, but one emerging on the visitor’s landscape as North Korea’s opening unfolds.

Enter Pyongyang from JT Singh on Vimeo.

Tragically, all too true

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

Chomsky on the attack on Gaza

"It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call "mowing the lawn." That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them, after which you go to a period of what’s called "ceasefire," which means that Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, while Israel continues to violate it. Then it’s broken by an Israeli escalation, Hamas reaction. Then you have period of "mowing the lawn." This one is, in many ways, more sadistic and vicious even than the earlier ones."

Noam Chomsky appearing on Democracy Now.   View the interview with him here.

And another tragic dimension and long-lasting effect to the indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, as detailed in this piece in The Independent.

"As with all wars, the war in Gaza is being measured by its dead. Accord…

Time for the US to get out of the Middle East?

Time for the United States to get out of the Middle East?    Stephen Walt, professor of International Relations at Harvard, in a sober and well-argued case in a piece on his blog on FP, suggest it should.

"The Syrian civil war grinds on. Israel and the Palestinians spent the last month in another pointless bloodletting (most of the blood being Palestinian). ISIS keeps expanding its control in parts of Iraq, placing thousands of members of the Yazidi religious sect in peril and leading the Obama administration to consider airstrikes or some form of airborne humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, officials back in Baghdad snipe mostly at each other. Libya continues to unravel, belying the high-fives that liberal hawks gave themselves back when Qaddafi fell. A U.S. general was shot and killed in Afghanistan, and another disputed election threatens democracy there and may give the Taliban new opportunities to make gains at Kabul's expense. Turkey's Prime Minister Recip Erdogan has been…

The New York Times catches (wakes?) up

Torture is torture!   The Obama Administration has been loath to acknowledge that the Americans have engaged in torturing people.    The New York Times has gone along with the absurd euphemism of "enhanced interrogation techniques" a la what the Government has described it as.  But, no longer....

"In an announcement on Thursday, the New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet said the widely-read newspaper—at the urging of reporters in the newsroom—will end its  long-held and widely criticized practice of calling torture  by the U.S. government "enhanced interogation techniques" and instead call it by its "common" name: torture.

In his statement posted on the paper's website, Baquet said:

Over the past few months, reporters and editors of The Times have debated a subject that has come up regularly ever since the world learned of the C.I.A.’s brutal questioning of terrorism suspects: whether to call the practices torture.

When the first revelati…

Prime Minister and Attorney-General: Dumb and dumber

To think that these 2 men - PM Abbott and his Attorney-General Brandis - are not only supposed to be leaders of Australia but to be across critical issues such a security and the like.

From The Age newspaper:

"It’s been called "excruciating" and "the most embarrassing interview you'll ever be likely to see".

Attorney-General George Brandis struggled to explain live on Sky News on Wednesday afternoon the details of his government's controversial "data retention" postigating crime."

Go here to watch the interview....and cringe!

A terrorist....when you're not!

The insiduous nature of snooping and keeping of records is yet again highlighted in this revelation "Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers" on The // Intercept.     There can be no doubt that people must resist and fight this ever-pervasive intrusion into their lives with all that means - including, quite possibly, being classified a terrorist when one is not.

"Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept.

Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number…

The criminality of the CIA and those who lead it

These revelations will hardly come as a surprise.    The criminality of the CIA and those who have, or are, leading it.  Trouble is that those responsible will never be brought to account.

"Former US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson discussed in detail, as a guest Sunday on Background Briefing with Ian Masters, a “major cover-up” in progress, with the US Central Intelligence Agency altering a still unreleased Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture.

The alterations, Wilkerson explains, are intended to protect people, including high level CIA and State Department officials Cofer Black, John Brennan, and George Tenet, who Wilkerson thinks participated in war crimes “unlike some stalwarts and courageous people at CIA [who] refused to participate” in the torture program.

Given that the CIA has its hands on the report, Wilkerson, an RPI Academic Board member, predicts the report will have significantly reduced value when it is finally made public, saying:

Ultimately, we’ll have t…

A rabbis mourns for the murderous ways of the Israelis and his People

A sorrowful and heartfelt piece by no less-a-person than a rabbi mourning for his people in the way Israel - and its one-eyed supporters - have sullied Judaism and its principles.

"My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis. All my life I’ve been a champion of Israel, proud of its many accomplishments in science and technology that have benefited the world, insistent on the continuing need for the Jewish people to have a state that offers protections from anti-Semitism that has reared its head continuously throughout Christian and Islamic societies, willing to send my only child to serve in the Israeli Army (the paratroopers unit-tzanchanim), and enjoying the pleasures of long swaths of time in which I could study in Jerusalem and celebrate Shabbat in a city that weekly closed down the hustle and bustle of the capitalist marketplace for a full 25 hours. And though as editor of Tikkun I printed articles challeng…

The realities of being on the ground in Gaza

No comment called for.   This report, published on Mondoweiss, speaks for itself....

"31 July:

I am in the Gaza Strip since the 22nd of July and still cannot believe what is happening here. I am experiencing the worst days of my life. All people in Gaza experience the worst days of their lives. Such massive attacks on Gaza are without precedent. Behind these words hide human tragedies. The humanitarian catastrophe has reached its peak.

The war in Gaza is a war against civilians. I am not the only one saying this, but also the people in Gaza alongside all the journalists that I speak to, who have covered all the wars of the past 10 years (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc…). What is happening here has a new quality.

Rockets strike everywhere. In residential houses, where families are living, in mosques where people are praying. During the early evening hours of July 30th an F16 jet bombarded the residential building just across the street from our house. We were just sitting on t…

Well, whadda you know! The Americans did torture captives

Despite all the righteous indignation at the allegations that the Americans tortured people post 9/11 and outright statements that they did not do such things, today the truth is out!    Yes, they did torture people!   

"In remarks made during a White House briefing on Friday, President Obama summarized the history of CIA abusive practices in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by asking people to remember "how afraid people" were at the time after he acknowledged plainly, "We tortured some folks."

The comments come amid growing anticipation and new controversy surrounding the upcoming—though only partial and highly redacted—findings of a Senate investigation into CIA abuses during the Bush years.

"I have full confidence in John Brennan," Obama said in response to questions by reporters who noted that leading Senators in his own party have called for the CIA chief's resignation over admissions that his agency did, in fact, spy on the investigative panel t…