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Showing posts from September, 2015

Gender eqaulity would boost GDP by as much as $28 trillion

Now here is a straight-forward way to boost no less than $28 trillion, if a Report, from McKinsey & Co., as reported by Bloomberg, is right.

"Denying women full participation in the global economy is costly. McKinsey & Co. has now calculated by just how much.

Full gender equality would add 26 percent, or $28 trillion, to global gross domestic product in 2025, according to a new report by the consulting firm’s research and economics arm.

While capturing that potential may not be realistic in the short term, boosting women’s equality at the same rate as the fastest-improving nation in a region -- bringing Bangladesh to the level of Singapore, for instance -- would increase annual GDP by $12 trillion in 2025, the study said.

“Women are such a crucial part of society and they are an undertapped resource,” said Anu Madgavkar, a McKinsey Global Institute senior fellow and a lead author of the report. A $28 trillion increase in GDP roughly matches the U.S. and Chinese ec…

Saudi Arabia and Human Rights Council. Surely a perverse joke!

Credited to Tom Janssen, The Netherlands. Cagle Cartoons

Special Ops big, big time

The revelations and details in this piece "A Secret War in 135 Countries" from TomDispatch about the reach of US special ops around the world is rather breathtaking.    Leaving to one side the enormous cost of it all - in human terms and monetarily - the question which needs to be asked is why the reach of these operations is necessary in the first place.

"This year, U.S. Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  That’s roughly 70% of the countries on the planet.  Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar. As part of a global engagement strategy of endless hush-hush operations conducted on every continent but Antarctica, they have now eclipsed the number and range of special ops m…

The solution?

Credited to Danziger in The New York Times

Coalition of the Willing's devastating legacy in Afghanistan

Not only are we seeing the repercussions of the ill-fated Iraq War, the attack on Libya in order to oust Qaddafi and the general upheaval and turmoil created in the Middle East - just look at the steady stream of refugees making their way to Europe and then marching across the continent - but the Coalition of the Willing (led by Bushs' US, Blair's UK and Howard's Australia) have left Afghanistan in a state which can only be described as tragic and appalling.

"Nearly a decade and a half of U.S. occupation has resulted in a country so dangerous that, according to the latest United Nations report on Afghanistan, “Civilians continued to bear the brunt of the Afghan conflict in the first half of 2015,” and “casualties are projected to equal or exceed the record high numbers documented last year.” In fact, civilian casualties spiked a whopping 60 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2014. The U.N. explained that the rise was “mostly due to…

Disaster capitalism writ large

Disaster capitalism on display yet again.    CommonDreams reports in "Million-Liter Cyanide Spill in Argentina Highlights Canadian Mining Crimes" on a Canadian miner, already with a terrible track, wreaking havoc for locals in Argentina.

"Highlighting how corporate extractivism and lack of accountability is driving the destruction of Latin American communities, a Canadian mining company has now confirmed that more than one million liters of cyanide solution spilled from the Barrick Gold Veladero mine in San Juan, Argentina this month—making the spill more than four times larger than originally estimated.

The Toronto-headquartered mining company initially said it had spilled just 224,000 liters of the toxic liquid, used to leach gold from processed rocks, into the Potrerillos River. On Wednesday, the corporation amended its statement (pdf) and said that in fact 1.072 million liters of a cyanide and water solution were spilled due to a failure in one of the valves in the mi…

The Pope tells Congress a thing or three

There must have been - or should have been! - some people listening feeling uncomfortable when the Pope addressed the American Congress.

So many home-truths........

"Pope Francis’ address to Congress was almost certainly not what John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and other congressional leaders had in mind when they invited the pope to speak.

It probably wasn’t what they were all thinking about during the last standing ovations. But here was Pope Francis, revered as the People’s Pope, calling out war profiteers and demanding an end to the arms trade. Just as simple and as powerful as that.

It came near the end of his speech — after his calls to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees, end the death penalty, preserve the planet from the ravages of climate change, and defend the poor and dispossessed.

“Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world,” the pope said. Th…

More on those (not so nice) Saudis

Sadly, it is reported that over 700 people were yesterday trampled to death in Mecca during the annual Haj there.

In a piece quite unconnected to the tragedy in Mecca, Medea Benjamin in a piece "Ten Reasons to Oppose the Saudi Monarchy" on CommonDreams provides an insight into regime which the US, and other Western nations, regard as their "close friend".    It doesn't make for "pretty" reading!

"During the discussion on the Iran nuclear deal, it has been strange to hear US politicians fiercely condemn Iranian human rights abuses while remaining silent about worse abuses by US ally Saudi Arabia. Not only is the Saudi regime repressive at home and abroad, but US weapons and US support for the regime make Americans complicit. So let’s look at the regime the US government counts as its close friend.

1. Saudi Arabia is governed as an absolutist monarchy by a huge clan, the Saud family, and the throne passes from one king to another.The Cabinet is appoin…

"You Betrayed Us!" Shame on Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Symantic, et al

Each of us, as users of the internet, ought to be up in arms and protest, loud and long, on this outrage - and the duplicitous position taken by the likes of Apple and Microsoft to facilitate spying by government on sharing private data with government authorities.   CommonDreams reports in "Tech CEOs Branded Privacy Traitors For Their Quiet Push to Pass CISA"....

"Internet users are calling out a dozen tech giants for their sudden turnaround on a controversial privacy bill, launching an email campaign this week with the plain message, "You betrayed us."

The chief executive officers of Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Symantec, and other companies, along with Salesforce web hosting service, quietly sent a letter (pdf) to U.S. Congress earlier this month endorsing the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that would allow tech companies to share user information with the government in cases of "cybersecurity threats"—which privacy advocates …

And we call the Saudis our allies and friends?

Not only does the US provide aid, of one sort or another, to the Saudis but they are regarded as allies of the West.  The fact that it is a barbaric and backward country on so many levels - women aren't even allowed to drive cars! - seems to trouble no one.

The latest outrage and barbarism, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, is utterly, utterly appalling.   And this from and in country which has just been appointed as the Chair of a UN human rights panel.

"An international campaign calling on Saudi Arabia to halt the beheading and "crucifixion" of a young man arrested when he was still at high school is growing, but there are fears he could be killed at any time.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was 17 when he was arrested after attending a protest in the midst of the pro-democracy Arab Spring unrest of 2012.

Mr al-Nimr, now 21, the nephew of a high-profile Shiite cleric, was reportedly tortured, denied access to a lawyer before his trial and coerced into confessing to a ran…

US attacks on ISIS. Corrupting the reports on the outcome

Yes again we see the military - no doubt happily supported by the politicians - seek to corrupt the message, or at the very least massage it, on how the attacks on ISIS are faring.    The Daily Beast reports in "This Is the ISIS Intel the U.S. Military Dumbed Down".

"Senior intelligence officials at the U.S. military’s Central Command demanded significant alterations to analysts’ reports that questioned whether airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS were damaging the group’s finances and its ability to launch attacks. But reports that showed the group being weakened by the U.S.-led air campaign received comparatively little scrutiny, The Daily Beast has learned.

Senior CENTCOM intelligence officials who reviewed the critical reports sent them back to the analysts and ordered them to write new versions that included more footnotes and details to support their assessments, according to two officials familiar with a complaint levied by more than…

".....dignity and decency can be preserved, even through the hardest times.”

Roger Cohen, op-ed columnist for the International New York Times, principally stationed in Europe, writes in "Battered Greece and Its Refugee Lesson" about the refugees flooding into Europe, especially into Greece.

"Here’s a rough guide to the modern world: More efficiency, less humanity. Technology is principally at the service of productivity. Acts of irrational grace are not its thing. They have no algorithm.

Greece has made me think about everything statistics don’t tell you. No European country has been as battered in recent years. No European country has responded with as much consistent humanity to the refugee crisis.

Greater prosperity equals diminishing generosity. Device distraction equals inability to give of your time. Modernity fosters the transactional relationship over the human relationship. The rules are not absolute, but they are useful indicators.

More than 200,000 refugees, mainly from Syria, have arrived in a Greece on the brink this year, almost half …

Those antibiotics may not be effective much longer

Anyone concerned about their health, would have to be alarmed that antibiotics may have run their course in being effective as part of our health management.

"In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin, which transformed modern medicine. Later that year, the bacteriologist issued a prescient warning: The miracle medicine could one day come with dangerous side effects. If antibiotics were overused, he told the New York Times, bacteria would develop resistance and spur a new generation of bugs impervious to the drugs' power.

In the last 60 years, Fleming's advice has gone largely unheeded. Antibiotic consumption continues to grow even as health officials around the world sound the alarm over rising numbers of resistant bacteria. Now, a new report from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), a multidisciplinary research organization, paints a harrowing picture of where we stand in the arms race against antibiotic res…

Kill motorists - escape prosecution

One has to wonder.    Here is a multi-national corporation which has been out in the market-place knowingly selling faulty motor vehicles - attributable to at least 174 deaths  - and it, and any principal individuals involved, escape prosecution.     Well known consumer advocate, Ralph Naderexplains...

"Yes, it’s official. General Motors engaged in criminal wrongdoing for long knowing about the lethal defect in its ignition switch that took at least 174 lives and counting, plus serious injuries. At least 1.6 million GM cars – Chevrolet Cobalt and other models – hid this danger to trusting drivers, according to the Center for Auto Safety ( Corporation executives who lie to or mislead the federal government violate Title 18 of the federal code, and risk criminal penalties.

"But, the long-mismanaged automaker was not required by the Justice Department to plead guilty at all. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney from New York, and Attorney General Loretta L…

Cause and effect......


Exxon exposed. Denying its own research on CO2

And these are the large corporations who plunder, wreak havoc, fiddle their tax liabilities and act with wanton disregard for the peoples of this earth.     On this occasion it's Exxon caught this piece on inside climate change reveals.

"At a meeting in Exxon Corporation's headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world's use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

"In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black told Exxon's Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.

"It was July 1977 when Exxon's leaders received this blunt as…

Two in touch and the other not!

The "election" of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour opposition Party in the UK has rocked many.     Here is a man to the far Left - and who does not fear speaking his mind.     He is also a man with many passionate ideas and ideals, agree with them or not.    

With the first Question Time in the House of Commons as the leader of the opposition, Corbyn showed who he was.    On the other hand, PM David Cameron showed himself up as being out of touch.

"I doubt many people woke up this morning envious of Jeremy Corbyn. After promising to change the ‘theatrical’ nature of Prime Minister’s Questions and faced with the initial task of reducing 40,000 submitted questions to six, the new Labour leader had his work cut out for him. All eyes were on him - and not many of them friendly.

What a relief, then, that he triumphed with a set of razor-sharp questions focused on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. Fortunately for Corbyn, of course, this is an area that the Conservati…

When the alleged threat of terrorism, racial profiling and bigotry meet

This piece, "Arrest of 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Sustained Fearmongering and Anti-Muslim Animus" from The Intercept, clearly highlights what happens, and the absurd consequences, when governments and authorities continue to ramp up the so-called terrorism threat - and then add into the mix racial profiling and bigotry.

"There are sprawling industries and self-proclaimed career “terrorism experts” in the U.S. that profit greatly by deliberately exaggerating the threat of Terrorism and keeping Americans in a state of abject fear of “radical Islam.” There are all sorts of polemicists who build their public platforms by demonizing Muslims and scoffing at concerns over “Islamaphobia,” with the most toxic ones insisting that such a thing does not even exist, even as the mere presence of mosques is opposed across the country, or even as they are physically attacked.

The U.S. government just formally renewed the “State of Emergency” it declared in the …

Not such a friendly welcome!

Credited to Patrick Chappatte, The New York International Times

US bases.....and lots of them!

This piece "Garrisoning the Globe" on makes the valid point that despite what Americans probably think that now the US has withdrawn its bases from Iraq and Afghanistan - well, in theory anyway - that the US now has a limited presence elsewhere around the world.     Nothing could be further from the truth!

"With the U.S. military having withdrawn many of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans would be forgiven for being unaware that hundreds of U.S. bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops still encircle the globe. Although few know it, the United States garrisons the planet unlike any country in history, and the evidence is on view from Honduras to Oman, Japan to Germany, Singapore to Djibouti.

Like most Americans, for most of my life, I rarely thought about military bases. Scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson described me well when he wrote in 2004, “As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or d…

"Life" in Syria - devastating and getting worse

Such "cleverness" for the Americans, and its acolyte allies, to bomb Syria targeting ISIS.      The death and destruction which that will bring about - plus yet more refugees fleeing the already war-ravaged country - simply makes no sense on any level.   "Life" in Syria is already devastatingly and heart-breakingly hard enough now, as this piece on The International New York Times so graphically details.

Syrians walked amid rubble after air strikes in Douma on Aug. 30. Credit Abd Doumany/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
"Every morning, at the dawn call to prayer, women and children move silently from the Damascus suburb of Douma to the surrounding farm fields, seeking safety from the day’s bombardments by the Syrian government.

The walk is part of a surreal routine described by the fraction of Douma’s residents who remain: shopping on half-demolished streets, scavenging wild greens, carrying out mass burials. But not even the fields are safe; recently, medics …

Once all those fossil-fuels are burnt....

In a conference call with reporters last month, NASA scientists expressed alarm about the pace at which both Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice.
Now almost daily, scientists, around the world, come out with predictions of how climate change is already, and will at apace, disrupt our world in all manner of ways - floods, rising oceans, challenges to growing food, increased bush fires, etc. etc.    And then there have also been challenges to countries allowing the continued use of fossil fuels not being curtailed.     As against that politicians seem incapable, or unwilling, to take up the challenges confronting mankind - that is, our planet.

The New Yorker reports in "If We Burned All the Fossil Fuel in the World" on a new report on fossil-fuels.

"What would happen if we burned through all of the fossil-fuel resources known to exist? In a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, a quartet of German, American, and British researchers take on this question…

Contributor to one's early death? Poor diet!

There is clearly something in the saying that you are what you eat!    It may also be that your poor diet makes you a candidate for an early death.     In fact, poor diet is the #1 contributor to early death of people around the world.

"Poor diet has emerged as the biggest contributor to early death around the world, according to new analysis from the leading authorities on the global disease, with red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages among the foods implicated in 21% of global deaths.

Smoking cigarettes still carries the highest risk factor of premature death in the UK, followed by high blood pressure and obesity. But the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) in the US says that a combination of dietary factors, from eating too few fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains to too much sodium and cholesterol, is taking a toll on health in the UK and across the globe.

The IMHE’s study found that the biggest contributor to early death globally is high blood pressure, i…

Introducing Britain's new Labour Party leader - Jeremy Corbyn

In yet another example of an electorate thumbing its collective nose at the establishment and all political parties, the British Labour Party has just elected a rank outsider as their new Leader.     Talk about a turn to the Left!...but a man who, on the surface, appears principled.   Now there aren't many politicians, anywhere, one can say that about.

"As if to underline the magnitude of the political earthquake that struck Britain this morning, Jeremy Corbyn, the newly-elected leader of the Labour Party, said that his first official act would be to attend a “Refugees Welcome Here” rally today in London. A 100-to-1 outsider when he entered the race at the beginning of the summer, the veteran left-wing MP and chair of the Stop the War coalition had trouble scraping together the 35 nominations from his fellow Labour members of parliament. Branded a fringe figure by the media and party insiders, Corbyn’s forthright opposition to austerity—he was the only one of the four leadersh…

And you reckon Donald Trump can't be elected?

Mother Jones on why Donald Trump shouldn't be written off as possibly pulling off becoming the next US President.....

"If you can't believe that Donald Trump is still the GOP front-runner, then consider this: America has elected the likes of The Donald before. There are, deep in our history, plenty of men who brazenly exploited nativist sentiments to win the White House or strengthen their grip on the office. Here are five US presidents who, if they lived today, might, in Trump's words, "make America great again."

Continue reading here.

Bombing Syria = 1 million more fleeing refugees

That there is sense in bombing Syria has to be doubted...especially when one reads an assessment by a Senior UN official in Syria that bombing the already war-ravished war-torn and partly devastated country will only lead to some 1 million more refugees fleeing the conflict.

Displaced people queue up to receive aid food in Aleppo, Syria. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
"Another million Syrians will flee their homes before the end of the year if the war continues unabated, a senior UN official has said.

Yacoub el-Hillo, the humanitarian coordinator in Syria, said that unless urgent action was taken to resolve the escalating conflict, refugees would also continue to flow out of the region.

He said that more than a million people had already been displaced from their homes already in 2015, and called for greater international aid efforts to help Syrians survive the winter in their own country.

“Unless something big is done to resolve this conflict through political means, the human train th…

Europe, Hungary and absent memory.......

Aah, how convenient to forget history.   Think Hungary, a country whose PM is now openly not letting seeking to prevent  that flood of refugees passing through his country by erecting a fence to keep those pesky non-Christians out.    Roger Cohen, op-ed writer for the International New York Times provides a timely reminder to the fascist Hungarian PM.

"Oh, Europe, the Mediterranean, cradle of civilization, is a watery grave. At the side of an Austrian highway, 71 nameless refugees perish, asphyxiated in a modern-day boxcar. Czech authorities, armed with indelible markers but bereft of a sense of history, inscribe identification numbers on the skin of 200 migrants. Others are duped by Hungarian police with promises of “freedom” and find themselves in a “reception” camp (where presumably they are offered a shower).

Oh, Europe, Slovakia wants only Christian refugees, not the Muslims of Syria or Afghanistan. Viktor Orban, the puffed-up little Putin serving as Hungary’s prime minister, …

A timely and appropriate plea

Yes, one might be a tad sceptical about the Malala Yousafzi bandwagon - and how she has been "used" by many -  but the message she has sent out there is more than timely and appropriate.

From Foreign Policy magazine:

"Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban after fighting for her right to go to school, called on the United States and other leading powers Monday to devote more money towards providing educational opportunities to needy children around the world.

“World leaders…are only focusing on six years of education, or nine years,” she said at a panel event co-hosted by Foreign Policy, Vital Voices, and the Malala Fund at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. “This is not how we are going to achieve success in our future. It is necessary we provide 12 years of quality education to every child.”

Yousafzai has become the face of the global movement for women’s education and in 2014, when she was just 17, became the youngest e…