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Showing posts from August, 2015

Refugees are not invaders

As the relentless flood of refugees in and to Europe continues, as Robert Fisk notes in a piece "In treating needy refugees like invaders, we risk losing our humanity"  in The Independent, it bears remembering what Winston Churchill wrote to his wife at the end of WW2 about the many refugees seeking refuge in Europe, especially from Germany and Poland.

"The Great Wall of China, the walls of Rome and every medieval city, the Siegfried Line, the Maginot Line, the Atlantic Wall; nations – empires, dictatorships, democracies – have used every mountain chain and river to keep out foreign armies. And now we Europeans treat the poor and huddled masses, the truly innocent of Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, as if they are foreign invaders determined to plunder and subjugate our sovereignty, our heimat, our green and pleasant land.

Barbed wire along the Hungarian border. Barbed wire at Calais. Have we lost the one victory which we Europeans learned from the Second World W…

A soldier, a little boy, some brave women - and a scandalous situation

From Mondoweiss:

"A radical scene unfolded Friday after Israeli forces intercepted the weekly protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, Palestine against the illegal confiscation of their land and spring. The courageous actions of the Tamimi women of Nabi Saleh rescuing their captured child spread immediately on social media after the UK’s Daily Mail published a series of breathtaking photographs taken at the scene. The event was captured on video by Bilal Tamimi and Roya News TV.

As a masked and armed Israeli soldier chases down a hillside you can hear voices yelling, then the unmistakable sound of a screaming child. The boy appears in view as he turns to face the soldier. Screaming, the boy pivots then rushes past the soldier and up the hill through a mass of boulders as the soldier finally catches up with the boy and captures him. Placing the boy in a chokehold the soldier forces the struggling child over a bolder as cameras close in on the scene and record what’s happenin…

America's disasterous post 9/11 plans

The aftermath of the actions of the Americans, its allies and NATO in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere continues - two, alone, being the extraordinary number of refugees "housed" in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon and the thousands fleeing daily to Europe.    Witness the tragedy of refugees unfolding in Europe every day and the untold numbers making their way to anywhere in Europe.

An analysis of America's actions post 9/11 is now available to assess, as detailed in this "Declassified CIA documents reveal how disastrous America’s post-9/11 plans really were" piece on The Independent.  It's sobering and far from encouraging!

"Scholars working on the contemporary Middle East are living through something of a golden age where evidence is uniquely plentiful for three reasons.

First, the disastrous failures of US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to an unprecedented programme of declassification of documents (some with significant redactions) as …

Food. Waste not!....

Those in the West who are so cavalier, and casual about throwing out food should read the piece below....

"If the amount of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished, according to the UN.

Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

Well-publicised attempts to combat the loss of food – such as recent laws in France that require supermarkets to distribute unsold food to charities – have highlighted the issue of food waste, identified by the UN as one of the great challenges to achieving food security.

Estimates suggest that by 2050 food production will need to have increased by 60% on 2005 levels to feed a growing global population. Reducing food wastage would ease th…

A civilian toll we don't hear about

The "war" against ISIS continues unabated.   It makes for good headlines.  And there is little doubting that IS is a scourge in many ways.   But in the "war" against ISIS, there are innocent civilians being killed.  The Pentagon owns up to 2 deaths.   The truth seems to be otherwise.

"As of this month, the US-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria for one year. So far, it has carried out over 5,900 strikes. In that time, the Pentagon has admitted to only two civilian deaths, continually insisting that its precision weapons have minimized civilian fatalities to a remarkable level—too remarkable to be believed. In June, Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, former combined forces air component commander, called the current air war against ISIS “the most precise and disciplined in the history of aerial warfare.”

However, in a report published this month, a monitoring group called Airwars has documented at least 459 civilian deaths that it says we…

A sign of the times?

“The boom in the tech sector has led us to hire job seekers from a range of backgrounds: poker players, bookkeepers, baristas—even women.”
Credited to The New Yorker magazine

Fished out?

We are seemingly hell-bent in not only destroying our planet - are you listening in-active politicians ignoring climate change? - but also challenging our ability to have food available to all.   Take fish stocks.......

"The world’s oceans – covering nearly two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, and on which much of human life depends – are under severe pressure, a report says.

Over-fishing has dramatically reduced fish stocks. The thousands of tonnes of rubbish dumped in the oceans wreak havoc on marine life, while climate change is warming and acidifying them, putting them under further stress.

These are the sobering conclusions of a wide-ranging study of the Earth’s ecosystems by the Worldwatch Institute, a US-based organisation widely rated as one of the world’s foremost environmental think-tanks.

“Our sense of the ocean’s power and omnipotence – combined with scientific ignorance – contributed to an assumption that nothing we did could ever possibly impact it”, says Katie Auth, a re…

Will the real terrorists stand up!

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

Upending politics in the USA and the UK

Politics in the West are on being roiled.     What was taken as "normal" as part of democracy is under challenge.   Whether it be changes in employment-opportunities, the distribution of wealth (a la the wealth in a community being in the hands of 1% of the population) or people going backwards financially, politicians cannot see themselves as secure in continuing the status quo.    Just think of political upheavals in Greece and other European countries.   And now we see the likes of a Donald Trump (in the US) and Jeremy Corbyn (in the UK) gaining considerable traction and support as they bid for the presidency and leadership of the Labour Party respectively.

"Very little appears to link Jeremy Corbyn, who has emerged from nowhere to become the favorite to lead the British Labour Party, with Donald Trump, the equally surprising front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Corbyn is a slight, quiet, parsimonious radical leftist who is anti-money, anti-meat, anti-war and pr…

Guns, guns and more guns! The Americans just won't learn!

Yet another tragedy in the USA at the hands of a gun-toting person.   Yet, here is a GOP presidential hopeful already challenging those who would place curbs on gun ownership.       When one looks at the stats relating to deaths through the use of fire-arms, the argument for restricting gun-ownership is beyond question or argument.

Nicholas Kristof writing in The New York Times:

"The horror isn’t just one macabre double-murder, but the unrelenting toll of gun violence that claims one life every 16 minutes on average in the United States. Three quick data points:

■ More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

■ More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.

■ American children are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Heme…

Can we sit back and watch this tragedy unfold? - daily

This has become more than a moral question.  How to address the issue of thousands upon thousands fleeing their home-countries and embarking on sometime hazardous journeys in order to save their lives - only to be confronted by closed borders, fences or people indifferent (if not hostile!) to their plight.

"Migrants will continue to arrive in southern Europe at the rate of 3,000 a day until November, the UN’s refugee agency has predicted, as record numbers of people crossed into Hungary.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said all EU member states should share the burden of Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the second world war, with an “equitable redistribution” of families seeking asylum.

According to the UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year – 181,500 to Greece and 108,500 to Italy. About 10,000 migrants arrived in Macedonia from Greece over the weekend despite the Macedonian authorities’ attempts to stop them.

“They ar…

Why use of the word "migrant" is probably wrong

In a piece "Why Al Jazeera stopped using the word migrant (and we probably should too)"  in The Independent, the paper explains how the Qatar-based newspaper came to determine to not use the term "migrant" in its reporting.

"In a post on Al Jazeera's website on Thursday, the news organisation said that it would no longer use the word 'migrant' to refer to people trying to cross the Mediterranean.

"The word migrant has become a largely inaccurate umbrella term for this complex story," online editor Barry Malone wrote.

The UN says that the majority of people drowning trying to get to Europe are escaping war and persecution in their home countries of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia, and they should be recognised as valid candidates for asylum.

Malone was one of the first people to tweet a picture by German photojournalist Daniel Etter of a Syrian family arriving in Greece last week, which subsequently went viral:

In the artic…

Leave school at 18....and then off to see the world (97 countries in fact)

It hard to imagine that there will be more than a tinge of envy when people read this post on the web site / bog boredpanda.

The subject in question is bannered:  "I Quit My Studies At The Age Of 18 And Traveled To 97 Countries Since Then".

"Bored from studies I quit everything when I was 18-years-old and started traveling around the world. Now I’m 27 and have visited 97 countries, From Nigeria in Africa to North Korea in Asia.

I always travel on a low budget and I never use guidebooks. Here are some of the hidden beauties around the world."

Go here to view fabulous photos taken by this adventurer.

USA challenged about providing use of cluster bombs in Yemen

As if Yemen doesn't have enough problems to deal with, it is now reported that the USA is providing "cover" for the insidious use of cluster bombs in the war-ravaged country.

"The United States is providing a thinly-veiled cover virtually legitimising the use of cluster bombs – banned by an international convention – by Saudi Arabia and its allies in their heavy fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Asked if cluster bombs are legitimate weapons of war, “if used appropriately”, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “If used appropriately, there are end-use regulations regarding the use of them. But yes, when used appropriately and according (to) those end-use rules, it’s permissible.”

“These weapons can’t distinguish military targets from civilians, and their unexploded sub-munitions threaten civilians, especially children, even long after the fighting.” -- Ole Solvang of HRW
But Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch told IPS the State Department offi…

The real troublemaker in the Middle East

A sober assessment in a piece "Who’s the Real Troublemaker in the Middle East?" on Counterpunch of who the real villian in the Middle East is.   And it's not Iran! 

"Except for maybe the Affordable Care Act, nothing gets Republican politicians fired up like Iran.

In the first GOP debate alone, Scott Walker promised that he’d tear up the Iran nuclear deal on day one of his presidency. Carly Fiorina blamed the countryfor “most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East.” Mike Huckabee vowed to topple the “terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”

Oddly, when the candidates complain about the “evil forces of radical Islam” or trouble in the Middle East, they never seem to mention Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s no democratic paradise. But on many counts, Washington’s Saudi allies are even worse. The Saudi royals crush dissent with an iron fist, spread extremist ideology, and invade their neighbors with impunity.

Domestically, the Saudi regime oppress…

Yemen. A forgotten and overlooked war and tragedy

Yet another example of the world looking away from, and ignoring, an unfolding disaster - Yemen!  

"In a situation that can only be described as 'beyond bleak,' the combined threats of war, food shortages, and an acute water crisis in Yemen have come together to put the Middle East's poorest nation on the brink of one of the world's most ignored humanitarian disasters.

Amnesty International said this week that likely war crimes on all sides of Yemen's ongoing fighting are leaving a "bloody trail of civilian death and destruction" in the poverty-stricken nation. In addition, the U.N. Food Program on Wednesday warned of famine while the international aid group UNICEF announced that young people are experiencing the brunt of the conflict with an average of eight children being killed or maimed every single day.

"This conflict is a particular tragedy for Yemeni children," said Julien Harneis, the UNICEF representative in Yemen. "Children are …

How the Boss manages your time........

Intrusions everywhere and bosses ever-increasingly monitoring their employees in one way or another.    This troubling piece "Data-Crunching Is Coming to Help Your Boss Manage Your Time" in The New York Times shows the extent to which bosses are now monitoring the time of their employees.

"You might be at work, but that hardly means you are working.

Mitesh Bohra thought that projects at his software company, InfoBeans, were taking too long. “Something was supposed to be done in a thousand hours and it would end up taking 1,500,” he said. “We were racking our brains to figure out where the time went.”

Increasingly, bosses have an answer. A new generation of workplace technology is allowing white-collar jobs to be tracked, tweaked and managed in ways that were difficult even a few years ago. Employers of all types — old-line manufacturers, nonprofits, universities, digital start-ups and retailers — are using an increasingly wide range of tools to monitor workers’ efforts, he…

Hacking: As if we haven't already got enough to worry about

Virtually daily we read and hear of hacking being done somewhere - and increasingly, the target being bigger and the information garnered ever-more critically important.

So, to read of the latest vulnerability - nuclear facilities - open to be hacked is more than scary.

"As hackers continue to rampage through closely-guarded information systems and databases with monotonous regularity, there is a tempting new target for cyber-attacks: the world’s nuclear facilities.

A warning has already been sounded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has urged the world community to intensify efforts to protect nuclear facilities from possible attacks.

“We need to drain the swamp and stop developing technologies that are vulnerable to catastrophic attacks." -- Randy Rydell
Pointing out the nuclear industry was not immune to such attacks, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano says there should be a serious attempt at protecting nuclear and radioactive material – since “reports o…

Refugees....and the world's indifference and shame

With the news today over yet another group of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean more than a timely piece in The New York Times puts the issue of refugees fairly out there...

"The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, a staggering 60 million people displaced from their homes, four million from Syria alone. World leaders have abdicated their responsibility for this unlucky population, around half of whom are children.

The situation is sadly reminiscent of that of refugees fleeing the destruction of World War II and the Nazi onslaught. Then, too, most governments turned their backs, and millions who were trapped perished."

In The Age, Paul McGeough, the paper's Chief Foreign Correspondent writes in "Migrant crisis: the problem with the West's refugee policies"....

"Pope Francis makes a plea on behalf of our "brothers and sisters … seeking a home where they can live without fear". But the privileged world - and shamefull…