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Showing posts from February, 2015

What the US pays out for destroying Afghan lives

Forget anything humanitarian about it - let alone any decency or justice about it all.    The // Intercepthas published the tally and rate of what the US pays in dollar-terms to Afghans for destroying their lives.     CommonDreams reports in "The Destruction of Afghan Lives, Captured in US Dollars"....

"New reporting by The Intercept published Friday offers a rare window into the death and destruction caused by the U.S. military in Afghanistan since 2001 by reviewing the records of so-called "condolence payments" disbursed to Afghan victims and family members killed or harmed by the ongoing war and military occupation.

As journalist Cora Currier reports:

Many of the payments are for mundane incidents such as traffic accidents or property damage, while others, in flat bureaucratic language, tell of “death of his wife and 2 minor daughters,” “injuries to son’s head, arms, and legs,” “death of husband,” father, uncle, niece.

The databases are incomplete, reflecting f…

We have net neutrality

Thankfully, we are now certain to have net neutrality.    The fight against changing that situation has been won.     It is also a victory for a type of civil rights action.

"Net neutrality is a civil rights issue – and it appears the FCC will soon implement real net neutrality protections, thanks in large part to civil rights activists.

Media and communications technology has always been an important factor in activism, because it mediates how activists can communicate with each other and to the world. During the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, organizers used phone trees and mimeographed pamphlets to distribute information and coordinate collective action. Black radio stations served as community bulletin boards and disseminated information about marches, police roadblocks, and voter registration.

Today’s civil rights activists have a much more powerful tool at our disposal – the open Internet. Our ability to be heard, counted, and visible in this democracy now depends o…

So much for making peace

We are forever hearing about how Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians - and what now must, realistically, be seen as the never-possible so-called 2 State solution - the reality "on the ground" in Israel's actions gives the lie to Israel's bona fides.     Just look at the illegal, according to international law, incursions into the West Bank, as revealed in this piece from JTA.

"The number of new housing starts in Jewish settlements in the West Bank rose by 40 percent last year, the activist group Peace Now said.

Some 68 percent of the new construction is in settlements that are outside the blocs Israel likely will keep in any future peace deal, Peace Now said in its report issued Monday.


The group’s figures are higher than the estimates from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, which according to Peace Now does not include illegal construction and relies on reports from local authorities. The Israeli government as of Tuesday evening had not commented on the P…

Iraq: An acknowledgement by Obama - and forgetting one salient fact

A point well made in this piece "US Spin on Middle East Violence Must Be Changed" on Common Dreams - that whilst Obama has acknowledged that the Iraq war has created a terrorist problem in the Middle East, what he has failed to say is it was the US, and its allies, who started that War.

"Truly, US President Barack Obama’s recent call to address the root causes of violence, including that of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) and al-Qaeda was a step in the right direction, but still miles away from taking the least responsibility for the mayhem that has afflicted the Middle East since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The link is undeniable,” Obama said in a speech at the State Department on 19 February “When people are oppressed and human rights are denied - particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines - when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism. It creates an environment that is ripe for terrorists to exploit.”

Of course, he is right. Every word. However,…

When politics trumps principle

Australia's PM, Tony Abbott, is on the skids as PM and many see him as a dead man walking.   As but one demonstration of politics trumping principle - and the absence of any integrity or remote decency in the Abbott government - a revelation of what was agreed with Sri Lanka with regard to stopping refugees heading off for Australia is proof positive of moral bankruptcy.     Eureka Street explains.

"There is a myth that labelling an issue as one of 'national security' somehow removes it 'beyond politics'. Salus reipublicae suprema lex, the safety of the state is the supreme law, as the old Latin tag has it, and all must rally to the flag.

Nothing illustrates the shallowness of this fiction better than Monday’s story by Amanda Hodge in The Australian.

In it, she quotes the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, as claiming that Australia’s silence on Sri Lanka’s appalling human rights record was the price for Sri Lanka taking extra measures to pre…

You can't believe what this man says!

There is more than a certain irony in the fact that the Israeli PM, who has for years been exaggerating this or that as a threat to Israel, has now been caught out lying by his own country's spy agency, Mossad.   Who can forget Netanyahu's speech to the UN which was so derided at the time?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presenting to the United Nations in New York in September 2012. (Photo: Getty Images/AFP)
"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim three years ago that Iran was within close reach of possessing a nuclear bomb was denied by his government's own spy agency, Mossad, a top secret document obtained by Al Jazeera and the Guardian reveals.

In a September 2012 address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Netanyahu claimed that Iran was 90 down the road to developing an atomic weapon and would do so within the year. "By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium …

AI looms......but for what good?

From a Guardian piece "What will happen when the internet of things becomes artificially intelligent?":

"When Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk all agree on something, it’s worth paying attention.

All three have warned of the potential dangers that artificial intelligence or AI can bring. The world’s foremost physicist, Hawking said that the full development of artificial intelligence (AI) could “spell the end of the human race”. Musk, the tech entrepreneur who brought us PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX described artificial intelligence as our “biggest existential threat” and said that playing around with AI was like “summoning the demon”. Gates, who knows a thing or two about tech, puts himself in the “concerned” camp when it comes to machines becoming too intelligent for us humans to control.

What are these wise souls afraid of? AI is broadly described as the ability of computer systems to ape or mimic human intelligent behavior. This could be anything from recognizing…

A truly worthy Oscar

Yeah!    The doco Citizenfour has won an Oscar - as it ought to have done.    Do go and see it.   A movie as gripping as a John La Carre novel - and a wake up call to us all how governments are committed to intrude into our lives.




 Laura Poitras (second from left) speaks after accepting the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for "Citizenfour" at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2015. The others, from left to right, producer Dirk Wilutzky, journalist Glenn Greenwald,  Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills, and producer Mathilde Bonnefoy. (Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)
"Citizenfour, the film chronicling the decision made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to expose wrongdoing to the world by leaking details of the agency's top-secret global surveillance operation to journalists, was awarded the Best Documentary Film award at Sunday night's Academy Award.

"My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be ins…

What ISIS really wants

ISIS is clearly evil and the bogeyman as far as the West is concerned.     Sanctity of life and morals do not seem to be part of the group's culture.    But what is ISIS after?    This piece in The Atlantic has a few answers.

"What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

The group se…

Eat less meat, help save the planet.....

If you want to save our planet, there is one way you can......easily!  And derive a health-benefit too.

"To prevent ruinous climate change and stave off an influx of preventable chronic diseases, Americans must reduce their meat intake and switch to a sustainable, plant-based diet, the top U.S. nutritional panel has announced for the first time.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which convenes every five years, released its newest report Thursday calling for Americans to change the way they think about food and make the health of the planet as much of a priority as their own well-being.

According to the report, "The average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and energy use," compared to vegan, vegetarian, and Mediterranean-style diets, which favor fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes over red meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods.

"Access to sufficient, nutritious…

Libya: West scores yet another failure

The news today of the slaughter of some 40 people by IS in Libya today, yet again highlights how the invasion of that country by NATO / Western forces has been an absolute disaster.   Yet another one!   Just reflect on that when reading this piece "Hailed as Model for Successful Intervention, Libya proves Just the Opposite" by Glenn Greenwald on The // Intercept.

"When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by U.S. forces, Iraq War advocates boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents (Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, for instance, gleefully exploited the event to demand that Howard Dean admit his war opposition was wrong). When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of U.S. intervention played the same game (ThinkProgress gleefully exploited the occasion to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorizat…

Unlawful monitoring of communications between lawyer and client

It is sacrosanct - almost an eleventh commandment, certainly in common law countries - that communications between client and lawyer are not only confidential but sacrosanct.     It has now been revealed, in the UK of all places - remember, the supposed bastion of law and order and everything associated with the rule of law -  that intelligence agencies have been listening in on communications between lawyers and their clients.    It's scandalous - and a severe infringement of people's rights.   

"The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the hee…

Jeb Bush: Like the recurrance of measles?

Credited to  Mike Luckovich, truthdig

4 wars later.....with nothing to show for it and at a huge cost (monetarily and in human terms)

The US seems intent to continue war, or perhaps even wars, in the Middle East, and elsewhere, if Obama has his way given his seeking approval from Congress to wage war.    In the meantime, as this piece on Mother Jones highlights, America has been involved in 4 wars in the Middle East alone - with no material outcome, but at a huge cost monetarily, and more so, in human terms. 


"So here's my scorecard for American military interventions since 2000:

Afghanistan: A disaster. It's arguable that Afghanistan is no worse off than it was in 2001, but after losing thousands of American lives and spending a trillion American dollars, it's no better off either.


Iraq: An even bigger disaster. Saddam Hussein was a uniquely vicious dictator, but even at that there's not much question that Iraq is worse off than it was in 2003. We got rid of Saddam, but got a dysfunctional sectarian government and ISIS in return.


Libya: Another disaster. We got rid of Muammar Qaddafi, but got a So…

US and UK Intelligence Agencies: No bounds to the extent of spying

Hacking, illegal access to cloud-based documents and spying, in one form or other, has become ubiquitous.    Now, with more documents released by Edward Snowden, we find that the US and UK spy agencies have infiltrated SIM manufacturers stealing encryption keys.   The ever excellent The // Intercept reports in "The Great Sim Heist - How Spies stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle".

"American AND British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to…

Chomsky: Grim future for our grandchildren

The warning couldn't be more blunt or dire.   On a range of topics, Noam Chomsky, paints a grim picture of what confronts us all, and in particular our grandchildren.     What makes the piece well worth reading - from an interview with Chomsky - is the basis and reasoning for the MIT professor's views.

"Jacobin is proud to feature an interview with journalist David Barsamian and Professor Noam Chomsky. In it, Chomsky explains the roots of ISIS and why the United States and its allies are responsible for the group’s emergence. In particular, he argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq provoked the sectarian divisions that have resulted in the destabilization of Iraqi society. The result was a climate where Saudi-funded radicals could thrive.

The interview also touches on Israel’s most recent massacre in the Gaza Strip, putting it in the context of the vital role Israel has always played for the United States. Chomsky then turns to today’s racist scapegoating of Guatemalan immig…

Press freedom in USA worse under Obama Administration

That so-called liberal President, Obama,  sn't that at all - with yet another piece of evidence to show.   This time it's press freedom.   Reporters Without Borders reports that the USA has dropped to 49th in world ranking for press freedom, and that it has been worse under the Obama Administration.  Glenn Greenwald reports on The // Intercept.

"Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th.

That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.

Some of the U.S.’s closest allies fared even worse, including Saudi Arabia (164), Bahrain (163), Egypt (15…

Some of the biggest lies by politicians in 2014

It can almost be taken to go with the job" that politicians are lying - although one has to wonder whether they are so inured to doing so or forgotten that there are video clips of what has been said by them previously or that they don't understand the difference between hyperbole, exaggeration and outright lying.

A roundup of some of the best lies in 2014 in a piece "The Lies Heard Round the World" in The New York Times.

"Lying may be an age-old part of politics, but it’s becoming easier to spot the fibs, fictions and falsehoods. A growing army of fact-checkers around the world is busy debunking falsehoods from presidents, prime ministers and pundits — and if their results are indicative, 2014 was a banner year. Some of the claims were so absurd that fact-checking groups honored them with awards, like Australia’s Golden Zombie and Italy’s Insane Whopper of the Year.

Such lies are fun to read, but identifying them is serious business: Misinformation, unchecked, ca…

AP Investigation: Palestinian deaths caused by 2014 Israeli bombardment of Gaza

Associated Press (yes! - they will now be accused of being anti-Israel, or worse, anti-semitic) has undertaken an independent investigation and analysis of the deaths and injuries causes by Israel's attack on Gaza last year.    Not pretty reading!

"At least 844 Palestinians were killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer attack on Gaza, an Associated Press exclusive analysis has revealed.

The review published Friday found that 508 of the dead—just over 60 percent—were children, women, and older men, all presumed to be civilians. "Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group tracking militants among the dead said it has no evidence women participated in combat," AP notes.

Among the additional findings:

Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.


In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.


Among t…

What money can buy

The Koch Brothers in the USA have used their immense wealth, and connections, to drive their political agenda.   Tea Party stuff plus, plus!  

With their significant wealth the Kochs have actively sought to direct things in the political sphere.   And the other day, at a  recent retreat, the Kochs managed to raise US$249 million.The plan is to spend US$889 million in the next 2 years in order to try and influence the upcoming Federal and State elections.

"At their most recent retreat in Southern California two weeks ago, the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch and 450 of their donor-allies announced plans to spend $889 million over the next two years to influence state and federal elections and shape the national discourse. The money would go to bankrolling political activity, funding think tanks and academic research, and fueling grassroots organizing efforts around the country—all in support of the Kochs' pro-business, free-market-centric ideology. That eye-popp…

Obama seeks an open chqeue to wage war - anywhere, anytime

The blank cheque Obama seeks from Congress to pursue military intervention anywhere, is dangerous to say the least - as Peter Certo argues in a piece on Foreign Policy in Focus.

"At long last, the Obama administration has submitted a draft resolution to Congress that would authorize the ongoing U.S.-led military intervention against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The effort comes more than six months after the U.S. began bombing targets in Iraq and Syria. Since then, some 3,000 U.S. troops have been ordered to Iraq, and coalition air forces have carried out over 2,000 bombing runs on both sides of the border."


****


As an ardent supporter of “hamstringing the commander in chief” in this particular case, let me count the ways that my concerns have not been eased by this resolution."

1. Its vague wording will almost certainly be abused.

For one thing, the administration has couched its limitations on the use of ground forces in some curiously porous language.

How long is an “enduri…

Let us, the people, take action on climate change

With Global Divestment Day this weekend, a simple and straight-forward message from a farmer:

"Nothing is more important to farmers like me than the weather. It affects the growth and quality of our crops and livestock, and has a major impact on global food supply.

The world’s weather is being messed up by global warming, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which releases heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

If your bank lends money to coal, oil and gas projects, then take your business to one that doesn’t. It will put a smile on your face.
Every national science organisation in the developed world agrees that global warming is real and caused by human activities. That’s good enough for me.

If we keep on burning coal, oil and gas at ‘business as usual’ levels, our grandchildren will inhabit a planet some 5 degrees Celsius hotter by the end of the century – rendering large parts of it uninhabitable, including many currently densely populated areas, which will be under wat…

A rudderless United Kigdom

And we think that the politicians know what they are doing.    Exhibit #1 (below) of a country totally rudderless - and frighteningly in relation to the war in Iraq and the whole mess in the Middle East.  Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn explains where things are at (and not!) in the United Kingdom in this piece "Isis in Iraq: Britain has no plan for tackling the militants, and no idea who's in charge" in The Independent.

"The traumatic experience of Britain’s participation in the 2003 Iraq war led the Government to have as little to do with the country as possible. By the spring of 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) prepared its great offensive that would capture a third of Iraq, the political section of the British embassy in Baghdad consisted of just three junior diplomats on short-term deployment. The British consulate in Basra, the city that had been the base for UK military operation between 2003 and 2007 and is the centre of Iraq’s oi…

Australia's shame

People seeking asylum in a foreign country is a worldwide issue.     Just look at what is happening in the Mediterranean where so many boats have sunk with loss of life as people try to make it to Europe.

Australia has not been immune from people seeking asylum.   What is disgraceful in Australia is the way asylum seekers have been treated, is the detention of children.        A report, The Forgotten Children, from Australia's Human Rights Commission released yesterday is replete with details of the absolute trauma and other effects these children have suffered - and continue to do so.

The Report couldn't be clearer in highlighting Australia's shame - which can be laid at the feet of both major political parties.



A child's drawing of life in detention
"Professor of paediatrics at the University of Sydney Elizabeth Elliott was horrified by the conditions for children in detention on Christmas Island.

Many had physical illnesses such as skin and respiratory infections a…

Getting the terror "we" give?

There can be no question that ISIS are an evil bunch - morally and otherwise bankrupt!    "We" in the West are entitled to condemn the barbarism of IS.    But a momentary reflection of what "we" in the West "do" is worthy of reflection.      A piece "The Terror We Give Is the Terror We Get" on truthdig by Chris Hedges, one time Bureau Chief of the NYT in Jerusalem puts things into context.

"We fire missiles from the sky that incinerate families huddled in their houses. They incinerate a pilot cowering in a cage. We torture hostages in our black sites and choke them to death by stuffing rags down their throats. They torture hostages in squalid hovels and behead them. We organize Shiite death squads to kill Sunnis. They organize Sunni death squads to kill Shiites. We produce high-budget films such as “American Sniper” to glorify our war crimes. They produce inspirational videos to glorify their twisted version of jihad.

The barbarism we condemn…

An apology - of sorts!

Credited to Nick Anderson, truthdig

South Sudan: Another disasterous country in Africa

South Sudan is the newest country in the world.   In fact, only 4 years old.   And all too sadly a disaster on many levels.     Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, about to retire after 5 years in the position, visited South Sudan a few days ago.    A report in The Guardian.

"Valerie Amos has joined calls for an arms embargo against South Sudan, the most senior UN official to back growing international demands for action against the country as it enters a second year of civil war.

“Anything that takes weapons off the streets, out of countries and out of communities will help us because ultimately for us it’s about bringing peace,” the UN humanitarian chief told the Guardian. “If there are no weapons, it’s harder for people to fight, peace will come sooner and we can get more aid to the people who so desperately need it.”

The United States has so far resisted efforts to implement an embargo, although the secretary of st…

The Shame of US Journalism: The Destruction of Iraq, not Fake Helicopter Stories

All the hoo-ha surrounding the NBC anchorman and what would appear to be his blatant lies is one thing, but as pointed out in this piece from CommonDreams overlooks what might be correctly described as the shame of US journalism generally.

"The news that NBC’s Brian Williams was not, in fact, on a helicopter in 2003 that came under fire from an Iraqi Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) should come as a surprise to no one. Williams had repeated the lie on several occasions over the course of a decade until a veteran, who was on the actual helicopter that was attacked, had enough of Williams’ war porn and called the TV host out on Facebook. In a quite pathetic effort to cover his tracks, the anchor — who makes in excess of $10 million per year — claimed that his fairy tale was, in fact, “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women” who had served in Iraq. Twelve years, it seems, is enough time for Williams to confuse being on a h…

Aron Swartz: Hounded to a tragic death

Most people will not have heard of the man.....but read on.   Here was a genius, hounded to his death.

"On Monday, BBC Four screened a remarkable film in its Storyville series. The Internet’s Own Boy told the story of the life and tragic death of Aaron Swartz, the leading geek wunderkind of his generation who was hounded to suicide at the age of 26 by a vindictive US administration. The film is still available on BBC iPlayer, and if you do nothing else this weekend make time to watch it, because it’s the most revealing source of insights about how the state approaches the internet since Edward Snowden first broke cover.

To say Swartz was a prodigy is an understatement. As an unknown teenager he was a co-designer of tools – like RSS and Markdown and of services like Reddit – that shaped the evolution of the web. He was also the kid who wrote most of the code underpinning Creative Commons, an inspired system that uses copyright law to give ordinary people control over how their digit…

Ever-diminishing job opportunities

Let it not be said that this isn't scary - ever-diminishing job opportunities - especially when the divide between the haves and have-nots is increasing apace.

"How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots' owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that's unpredictable - odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours - and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we're now barreling toward.


They're Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel's on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap's on-line doctors.

They're Mechanical Turks.

The euphemism is the "share" economy. A more accurate term would be the "share-the-scraps" economy.

New software technologies are allowing almost any job to…

When politics ignores reality

All too true!....especially when it's all craven.

"It's always a tricky moment for the corporate media when a foreign leader dies. The content and tone need to be appropriate, moulded to whether that leader fell into line with Western policies or not".

So begins a piece on MediaLens relating to the death of the Saudi prince recently.

"Coverage of the death of Saudi Arabian dictator King Abdullah on January 23 fits the usual pattern. Given the Saudi kingdom's longstanding role as a key US client state in the Middle East, in particular the West's dependence on the country for oil and as a market for arms sales, coverage was pitched to reflect a suitably skewed version of reality. Thus, news articles and broadcasts dutifully relayed the standard rhetoric of US Secretary of State John Kerry who declared:

'This is a sad day. The United States has lost a friend ... and the world has lost a revered leader. King Abdullah was a man of wisdom and vision.'

As Ke…

Anne Frank: 10 beautiful quotes from The Diary of a Young Girl

Last week saw the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.    

Timely then that The Guardian had a piece with 10 quotes from the diary of Anne Frank.    And to think that there are still revisionists out there who deny the Holocaust!




"The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 is “keep the memory alive”, and today we want to remember Annelies Marie Frank, better known as Anne Frank, who started her diary Diary of a Young Girl at the age of just 13, while hiding from the German occupation of Amsterdam during the second world war. Anne wrote her diary in hiding in a secret annex of an old warehouse for the next two years. The diary stops abruptly in August 1944, when her family are betrayed and eventually sent to Auschwitz death camp. Only Anne’s father Otto survived and published his daughter’s Anne’s diary in 1947.

Even if you haven’t read the diary, you will probably have heard of Anne Frank, seen one of the many film adaptations of Diary of a Young Girl, or even visited th…

Yes, there is a bottom line to climate change

Sceptical some may be, and governments seemingly reluctant to take any positive steps to address climate change, but as this piece from The New York Times shows, there are people out there who readily and fully recognise what befalls us if we don't tackle climate warming.

"It was 8 degrees in Minneapolis on a recent January day, and out on Interstate 394, snow whipped against the windshields of drivers on their morning commutes. But inside the offices of Cargill, the food conglomerate, Greg Page, the company’s executive chairman, felt compelled to talk about global warming.

“It would be irresponsible not to contemplate it,” Mr. Page said, bundled up in a wool sport coat layered over a zip-up sweater. “I’m 63 years old, and I’ve grown up in the upper latitudes. I’ve seen too much change to presume we might not get more.”

Mr. Page is not a typical environmental activist. He says he doesn’t know — or particularly care — whether human activity causes climate change. He doesn’t give …