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Showing posts from July, 2015

Why one man supports BDS of Israel

Chris Hedges, who now writes regularly for truthdig, was the one time Bureau Chief of the New York Times' Jerusalem office.

In his latest column for truthdig, he spells out, and makes out a compelling case, for supporting BDS - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - against Israel.   It is the very same peaceful and non-violent action which was taken so successfully to bring down the apartheid movement in South Africa.

"The Palestinians are poor. They are powerless. They have no voice or influence in the halls of power. They are demonized. They do not have well-heeled lobbyists doling out campaign contributions and pushing through pro-Palestinian legislation. No presidential candidate is appealing to donors—as Hillary Clinton did when she sent a letter to media mogul Haim Saban denouncing critics of Israel—by promising to advance the interests of the Palestinian people. Palestinians, like poor people of color in the United States, are expendable.

Justice for Palestine will never c…

Obama's last chance in Africa

As Obama wraps up his lightening visit to Africa, an assesment of his "achievements" in relation to the strife-torn continent - be it fighting, disease or hunger - by Foreign Policy In Focus in "Obama’s Last Chance in Africa", gives him a poor rating.   Very poor, judged even by what President George Shrub did.

"President Obama needs to unveil a new foreign policy initiative on Africa during his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia or risk going down in history as the worst president for Africa in recent memory.

It would be a shame if the first American president of African descent ranks last in meaningful engagement with Africa when compared to other presidents in the recent past. Although both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came under intense criticism for doing nothing in the face of genocide and war crimes, they were able to recover somewhat by launching signature initiatives during their second terms.

During his first term, Bill Clinton pulled out of Somalia in a s…

#1 Sleeze

Credited to Nick Anderson - truthdig

Mayo Clinic takes on the pharmaceutical companies

All too sadly we are plagued by sicknesses which require medication.   Enter the multi-national pharmaceutical companies developing drugs - and in the process, in effect, gouging governments and individuals to pay for the medication.   It's a problem world wide!

Therefore, all power to the Mayo Clinic for throwing down the gauntlet to the pharma companies.

"Americans diagnosed with cancer are at risk of losing their life savings because cancer drug costs are escalating almost as fast as the worst forms of the disease, according to a Mayo Clinic medical journal article decrying these costs signed by scores of nationally known oncologists.

“In the United States, the average price of new cancer drugs increased 5- to 10-fold over 15 years, to more than $100,000 per year in 2012,” the article said. “The cost of drugs for each additional year lived  (after adjusting for inflation) has increased from $54,000 in 1995 to $207,000 in 2013. This increase is causing harm to patients with ca…

Susiya - Continued

Not nearly as well known as The New York Times, a web site TimesWarp has its by-line that its objective is
"What The New York Times doesn't tell you about Palestine and Israel".

So, if you read the post, here, yesterday, in relation to Susiya and the outrageous actions of the Israelis in relation to the small Palestinian outpost of some 340 people, this report from TimesWarp pays reading.....

"Susiya, a West Bank village under threat of demolition, has now made it into the pages of The New York Times news section, and we are permitted a view of how Israel wants us to see this disturbing story: All the fuss about Susiya is little more than the result of clever marketing on the part of the villagers.

Thus we find a story today by Diaa Hadid titled (in the online version) “How a Palestinian Hamlet of 340 Drew Global Attention.” This primes readers from the start to expect a tale of simple villagers who devised a winning media strategy, and it distracts from the real iss…

Israel's thuggery - and illegal actions - on show

No lesser a newspaper than The New York Times - a booster for Israel if there ever was one - details the disgraceful, thuggish and illegal conduct of the Israelis in relation to a small village of only 340 (Susiya) in the occupied West Bank.

"How did a hamlet of 340 Palestinians in a dusty corner of the southern West Bank find its way onto the global stage? Residents point to a chain of events that began two decades ago with visits from sympathetic foreigners and that have now made Susiya a symbol for pro-Palestinian activists of how Israel has sought to maintain control over large parts of the West Bank.

“We could not have imagined all this,” Mr. Nawajaa said as two of his 12 children argued over a toy helicopter.

“The Israelis used to destroy our village, and we slept in the wild, in the rain, and nobody knew anything about us.”

Three times in the past 30 years, the village has been displaced, and residents are faced with ejection once again. Unless the Israeli Supreme Court orders…

Why not to be surprised by the village idiot's (aka Donald Trump) popularity

In a piece on AlterNet "Why the Political Press Totally Didn't See Donald Trump's Surge Coming" examing why the media is now so surprised by the seeming success of Donald Trump - is there anyone more pathetic than this individual? - as front-runner amongst Republicans (and what does that tell you about the GOP?), some very useful background to the state of play in US politics, including the insidious nature of Fox News.  

"But is Trump’s run really that surprising? It shouldn’t be if you’ve been paying attention to the radical, obstructionist turn both Republican politics and the right-wing media have taken over the last six-plus years. Yet during most of that span, the D.C. media stoically pretended the GOP hadn’t taken an ugly, radical turn. And that’s why so many seem baffled by Trump’s rise.

Increasingly, Trump represents Fox News’ Republican Party. He’s holding up a mirror. But many journalists seem slow, or unwilling, to acknowledge that.

Some Beltway analys…

Are we already in the danger-zone?

Although there seems to be almost universal agreement amongst scientists that we must be concerned about the effects of climate change on our planet, what hasn't been so clear has been how close we are getting to a danger-zone.   A Paper to appear in the next days will, evidently, tell us that it is much closer than we might imagine.

"How much does the climate have to change for it to be “dangerous”? This question has vexed scientists ever since the first climate models were developed, back in the nineteen-seventies. It was provisionally answered in 2009, though by politicians rather than scientists. According to an agreement known as the Copenhagen Accord, which was brokered by President Barack Obama, to avoid danger, the world needs “to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius” (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Now a group of climate modellers is arguing that the danger point is, in fact, a lot lower than that. In a paper set to appear online this week in Atmos…

To delete.....or not?

Aah, all those addresses we have accumulted down the years and never deleted from our mobile device.

Should we?   It's a subject analysed in this piece "My Digital Cemetry" in International New York Times.

"MY digital address book lists 2,743 contacts. This is not because I’m popular or extroverted; I’m neither. It’s because this collection of names stretches back two decades, the oldest contacts tracing to a 1996 Palm Pilot and preserved through transfers involving more devices than I care to remember. It covers life in four cities and work on countless reporting projects. The idea of organizing and pruning this slow-motion data dump is by now unthinkable.

One result is that when I start to tap in the name of someone I’m looking for, I often turn up several others as well. Maybe an expert source on a subject I’ll never write about again. Or the best plumber in a place where I no longer live. Possibly a former colleague I have since learned actively dislikes me. Proba…

Our planet!

"Interesting" exchange in the Portland Press Herald......relevant to everyone of us living on this planet.

"This column is a collaboration between a retired engineer and a university student regarding our perceptions of climate change.

Allen Armstrong: As a 75-year-old grandfather, I represent the latest generation responsible for the Earth as it is, to be passed down to Iris, a 20-year-old student, and, later, to the generation of my grandchildren. What sort of stewards have we been? What sort of Earth will we be leaving?

When I was Iris’ age, in 1960, the average temperature of Earth was 1.5 degrees cooler than it is today. Carbon dioxide was 305 parts per million in the atmosphere; it’s now 400.

Fossil fuel emissions are now three times as great. Sea level has risen 7 inches.


The ocean has become more acidic, coral reefs are dying, we have overfished the oceans and our fertilizer runoff has created dead zones that didn’t exist when I was young. Glaciers ar…

The tragic Bush, Blair and Howard legacy in Iraq

Yes, Hussein was a dictator of sorts, but his people basically lived in peace, Iraqis had a decent education system and women pretty-well had equal rights to men.  

All too sadly the Shock and Awe war unleashed on Iraq by Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard - who, many would say, should be indicted as war-criminals - continues to this day.    

"The conflict in Iraq has taken a terrible toll on civilians with nearly 15,000 killed and 30,000 wounded during a 16-month period ending on April 30, by the Islamic State group, Iraqi security forces and others, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

The U.N. mission in Iraq and the U.N. human rights office said in the report that violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses by the Islamic State group, which controls large swaths of Iraq's north and west, may in some cases amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.

Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of …

America's use of drones: No effective or positive outcome 13 years later

We don't hear all that much about the USA's use of drone warfare, but Pratap Chatterjee on TomDispatch discusses the issue in "No Lone Rangers in Drone Warfare" - and concludes that after 13 years using drones it can't be said that there has been a successful reduction in terrorism.

"Since November 2002, when a CIA drone strike destroyed the SUV of “al-Qaeda's chief operative in Yemen,” Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi (“U.S. kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen”), it’s been almost 13 years of unending repeat headlines. Here are a few recent ones: “U.S. drone strike kills a senior Islamic State militant in Syria,” “Drone kills ISIL operative linked to Benghazi,” “Drone kills four Qaeda suspects in Yemen,” “U.S. drone strike kills Yemen al-Qaida leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi,” “U.S. drone strikes target Islamic State fighters along Afghanistan-Pakistan border.” Those last strikes in Eastern Afghanistan reportedly killed 49 “militants.”  (Sometimes they are called “terr…

Greece isn't the only problem in Europe

The woes of the Greeks, the negotiations to stave off Greece defaulting in repaying its debts and the political impications for the Greeks have dominated the news.    What has not been so readily reported on are the issues confronting countries, other than Greece, in Europe.    Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner, writing in The New York Times recently, details the many issues confronting Europe in general.

"It’s depressing thinking about Greece these days, so let’s talk about something else, O.K.? Let’s talk, for starters, about Finland, which couldn’t be more different from that corrupt, irresponsible country to the south. Finland is a model European citizen; it has honest government, sound finances and a solid credit rating, which lets it borrow money at incredibly low interest rates.

It’s also in the eighth year of a slump that has cut real gross domestic product per capita by 10 percent and shows no sign of ending. In fact, if it weren’t for the nightmare in southern Europe, the…

Laura Poitras: Confronted by a Kafka-like world

All power to Laura Poitris for taking on the US because of the way she has been treated at US airports.    So much for the land of freedom and justice!    CommonDreamsreports....

"Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras on Monday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. intelligence agencies for subjecting her to what she called "Kafkaesque" harassment at airports throughout the U.S. and the world on dozens of occasions.

Poitras, who won an Academy Award last year for Citizenfour, the documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said she has been detained, searched without warrant, interrogated for hours, and had vital belongings confiscated more than 50 times over the course of six years—without ever being charged with a crime.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit names the DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and demands the release of all records from …

A very unhappy (and tragic) anniversary

It's not an anniversary deserving of much, if any, celebration.    It's South Sudan's 4th anniversary of its "existence" as the newest State in the world.     All the signs are more of a failed State.    The New York Times explains.....

  A market in Juba, South Sudan. Prices are rising as the country's economy struggles.
'The laborers, hundreds of them, were hard at work, busily fixing roads, painting buildings and making the parade grounds sparkle.

At first glance, it might appear that the economy of this nation, one of the world’s poorest, is humming back to life.

It is not.

The work was being done in preparation for Thursday, when the governing party led by President Salva Kiir will celebrate the fourth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence.

The day after the festivities, residents say, the work will stop.

It is a Potemkin celebration, they say, marking an occasion that was greeted with such great hope in 2011 but that now rings hollow for many as the …

A Very Different Blog: The Bondy Blog

There are dime-a-dozen blogs.     But this is a slightly different one.    We all know that France, and Paris in particular, has all manner of social issues, not least the disenfranchisement of African immigrants.     This blog - which The New York Timesreports on - seeks to address a number of social issues....

"They gather every Tuesday for a staff meeting, bloggers, journalists and young people from the impoverished Paris suburbs, at the offices of the Bondy Blog, named for the surrounding neighborhood. The subject of a recent meeting: how best to challenge the leader of the Socialist Party, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, during his appearance on a monthly talk show, “The Bondy Blog Café.”

“Like in every love story, there is disillusion,” Nordine Nabili, the publisher of the blog, told his rapt audience, crammed around a table in one of the offices last month.

The Socialists received a large share of the vote in Bondy and in other banlieues, as the suburbs are known, in the 2012 ele…

On 4 July - The absolute patriot and truthdigger

No comment called for.....  

Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.

"Chelsea Manning is a patriot.

Today, on the most patriotic of days, she should be celebrated for her heroism. But unlike most Americans enjoying the Fourth of July by barbecuing or watching fireworks, Manning will spend the nation’s birthday within the dreary confines of a prison cell.

That’s because we seem to have a very slippery notion of what it means to love one’s country. Symbolized in our post-9/11 world by homicidal antiheroes like “American Sniper” Chris Kyle or misdeeds like the Patriot Act, America’s savagery is too often rendered as patriotism.

 For exposing some terrible truths, Manning has endured imprisonment, torture, humiliatio…

Billionaires getting the wake-up call?

It should have only been a matter of time before the über rich woke up to the fact that for them to control 1% of wealth isn't healthy for a working, healthy democracy.   Needless to say there is more than an element of self-preservation in all of this, but seemingly a growing number of billionaires are recognising that something needs to be done to redress the 1%-99% balance.

“The messenger matters,” Mr. West said. “When people of modest means complain about inequality, it usually gets written off as class warfare, but when billionaires complain, the problem is redefined” — in a helpful way, he added — “as basic fairness and economic sustainability.”

This is not to say that the current crop of concerned tycoons is working purely out of altruistic motives. “There’s been a major backlash against inequality,” Mr. West said. “And some wealthy individuals have felt a pressure to address it.”

Given the political groundswell for decreasing wealth disparity, Mr. West added, “There’s a reali…

The modern naming of diseases

Perhaps the medical profession has, finally, caught up with how to address diseases and be less blunt in explaining the prognosis to a patient.    Telling a patient that cancer is incurable?   A disease is "fatal?" etc. etc.

"If the World Health Organization has its way, celebrity through nosology—the classification of diseases—may soon go the way of consumption, dropsy, and other outdated diagnoses. In May, the W.H.O. released a set of best practices that prohibits the use of eponyms in the naming of new illnesses. The idea is to avoid creating stigmas that might affect trade or tourism or lead to social awkwardness. “I’m rather personally glad that I’m not Mr. Creutzfeldt,” Kazuaki Miyagishima, a W.H.O. director, told me, referring to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain disorder. Having such a name, he said, might take a lot of explaining, along the lines of, “There is nobody suffering from the disease in my family. If you want to marry me, you can marry me…

Barbaric, wanton and ignorant destruction

One has to wonder what motivates the ISIS people when one reads of the totally wanton, barbaric and ignorant, destruction of artifacts, many of them going back for centuries.

"Islamic State militants indulged in new public displays of artifact destruction this week, sledgehammering a half-dozen statues said to have been stolen from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

The militants also broke up a hidden 2,000-year-old lion statue they discovered in a Palmyra museum garden and demolished a 13th-century tomb near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

The destruction, publicized in photographs and statements posted by the Islamic State on social media and corroborated by officials and antiquities experts, underscored the risks to the archaeological heritage sites in Syria and Iraq, as well as the impunity of the militants now in command of large parts of both countries.

On Thursday, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, said it had smashed at least six statues from Palmyra seized …

Vale Sir Nicholas Winton

Vale Sir Nicholas Winton - an almost overlooked hero in every sense of the word.    The New York Times explains....

 A family picture of Nicholas Winton with one of the hundreds of Jewish children whose lives he saved during World War II.
"Nicholas Winton, a Briton who said nothing for a half-century about his role in organizing the escape of 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, a righteous deed like those of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, died on Wednesday in Maidenhead, England. He was 106.

The Rotary Club of Maidenhead, of which Mr. Winton was a former president, announced his death on its website. He lived in Maidenhead, west of London.

It was only after Mr. Winton’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic of their home in 1988 — a dusty record of names, pictures and documents detailing a story of redemption from the Holocaust — that he spoke of his all-but-forgotten work in the deliverance of children who, like the parents who gave them u…

A true Greek tragedy

Credited to Chappatte in The International New York Times

The sorrowful and pitiable state of affairs in Iraq

No comment called for - other than to say that what the West has wrought in Iraq is unpardonable.

"Two days ago an email came from an Iraqi doctor in Baghdad in response to a brief greeting I sent for the month of Ramadan.

“Thanks so much for remembering us…In fact we are the same if not worse. Our hearts are broken at the organized ruining of our country. We are targeted by those criminals and gangs coming from everywhere, even from the west who are all witnessing this drama and, if not supporting it, are keeping silent. We wonder what sin we committed to face this gloomy black fate. In fact, what is going on is beyond words. “

This courageous woman doctor never left the side of gravely ill children despite the great exodus of doctors due to kidnappings, assassinations and threats to their lives and families. Sadly she reports that another of her siblings has cancer, and she needs to leave the medical students for some days. This happens she says regretfully in “the critical time o…

Now, if Islamic State had done this!.......

Yet another example of how the West (looking at you, America, in particular!) is hypocritical and double-standards abound......    Just imagine, if you will, had Islamic State perpetrated what has occurred in the US in the last week.

"Seven African-American churches have burned down in the past week and at least four of these southern Black churches were victims of deliberate arson, and possibly six were.

This news is being reported tentatively and in the passive mood.  The churches burned or were burned.  But that arson directed at an African-American church in the South after the Roof murders is likely the work of white supremacists is only hinted at.  The ambiguity of thunderstorms is typically brought in, quoting local authorities.  But there are lots of thunderstorms all the time in the South and churches have lightning rods.  Why would a church that had stood for decades suddenly succumb to a single storm?

Shouldn’t the headline be “Suspected White supremacists burn down at le…

China's Report Card on US human rights

Now here is a classic case of calling the kettle black!     In a reversal of things, here are the Chinese issuing a Report Card on US human rights in the USA.   It doesn't make for happy reading!    Information Clearing House reports....

"On June 25 local time, the State Department of the United States released its country reports on human rights practices once again, making comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record. Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems. While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more "red cards" in the international human rights field.

The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrenc…