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Showing posts from October, 2015

"Climate catastrophe" looming

For all the talk and huffing and puffing in relation to curbs on green house emissions and what each country will bring to the table at an international Climate Control Conference in Paris in December - apart from a lot of hot air from all the talking! and the millions of dollars spent in getting everyone to France - the UN says that an analysis it has" undertaken show that the controls on emissions fall short of saving us all from a "climate catastrophe" sooner than we might think.

"The latest United Nations (UN) analysis of the climate pledges of world governments reveals the commitments are not enough to avert "climate catastrophe," green groups warned on Friday.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and German State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth presented in Berlin on Friday their report (pdf) on the effects of 146 participating countries' Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)—representing 86 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions—sub…

Warped thinking!

Having a political position is one thing - but taking it to the lengths that US Senator Paul Kruz, and some of his colleagues want to, demonstrates warping thinking and is downright bizarre.     The New Yorker reports....


"Senator Ted Cruz and two dozen Republican congressmen, led by Representative Louie Gohmert, have a problem with Margaret Sanger’s head. Sanger, who helped found the American Birth Control League, the organization that became Planned Parenthood, is represented in the National Portrait Gallery, one of the Smithsonian museums, by a bronze bust. It is currently part of an exhibition called “The Struggle for Justice,” which records, through the faces of those involved, this country’s slow movement toward civil rights. Earlier this month, the legislators sent a letter to the museum which describes Sanger as a racist who was bent on carrying out a genocide, the “extermination” of black Americans—a charge for which, as at least some of them surely know, there is no sou…

Internet censorship on the rise

With such widespread use of the internet, it is more than troubling to read that a survey has shown that censorship of the net has increased to a significant degree around the world.  We are all the loser if this trend continues - and it should be fought!

"For the fifth year in a row, global internet freedom continued its downward trend in 2015, with more governments censoring information of public interest while simultaneously expanding surveillance and thwarting privacy tools, according to the annual assessment by the U.S.-based Freedom House released Wednesday.

Since June 2014, 32 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net (pdf) saw internet freedom deteriorate, according to the nonprofit, which monitors digital rights and advocates for democracy. Notable declines were documented in Libya, France, and—for the second year running—Ukraine, amid what Freedom House describes as "its territorial conflict and propaganda war with Russia." 

While the end is the same—in…

Slavery? In 2015? Yes!

Slavery conjures up a time past.    Chains....people suffering.     It is shocking to think, as this piece from the New York Times details, that slavery still exists today - only in a different, but no less horrifying.

"When readers hear about “modern slavery” in America or abroad, they may roll their eyes and assume that’s an exaggeration. Slavery? Really? Modern slavery?

If you’re one of the doubters, then listen to Poonam Thapa, a teenage girl I met here in Nepal, where she is putting her life back together after being sold to a brothel.

And if you think, as Amnesty International suggested recently, that the solution is to decriminalize the commercial sex trade around the world, then pay special heed."


Continue reading here.

Israeli PM's contemptible slur and falsehood

Coming from no lesser a person than the PM of Israel, Netanyahu's outburst in attributing the Holocaust to a Palestinian is not only bizarre and false, but utterly contemptible.    Even The New York Times, not known for anything but being partisan to Israel, editorialises how the PM has been outrageous. 

"The claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that a Palestinian persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe is outrageous.

It is outrageous because the Holocaust is far too terrible a crime to be exploited for political ends, especially in the state linked so closely to the tragedy of the Jewish people. It is outrageous because the only apparent purpose is to demonize the Palestinians and the current leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and to give the impression that their resistance is based solely on a longstanding hatred of the Jews, and not on their occupation by Israel or any other grievance. And it comes at a time of renewed tens…

Food sovereignty

Food!  We all need it to sustain ourselves.   It's very much taken for granted by too many people, especially in so-called affluent Western nations.    So, what is food sovereignty?   Janine Jackson, the coordinator of Other Worlds, a women-led education and movement-building collaborative in the USA, explains in a Q & A on FAIR.

JJ: What I wanted to ask you first is how you introduce people to the idea of food sovereignty; how do you explain what that means?

BB: There are two concepts that your listeners will probably be aware of, and I’ll just state them briefly. The first concept is food security, which means that everyone has the right to adequate quantity of food, to quality of food and to have food on time, that is, when people are hungry and need it.


It’s a great concept in moments of dire emergency, but it is all too often used to justify what is, in fact, dumping of taxpayer-supported US agribusiness-grown foods. And I’m thinking particularly of rice growers, but also w…

A new refugee crisis.....this time from Afghanistan

It is tragic enough that we are witnessing millions of people fleeing Syria, and other war-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa - witness the masses crossing Europe in search of at least safe sanctuary - but as this piece from The New York Times explains, given events in Afghanistan, we are probably about to see a new wave of refugees fleeing from that devastated country.

"With the war in Afghanistan heating up, thousands of Afghan refugees are fleeing their country. But Iran and Pakistan, which house most of the Afghan refugees from previous cycles of violence, are increasingly unwelcoming. So the new exodus has begun to flow toward Europe, already inundated with Syria’s refugees.

Yet these Afghans have attracted little attention from Western policy makers; they do not seem to recognize the Afghans’ desperation, and the challenges their flight poses for Afghanistan, its neighbors and Europe. For Afghans, it is a recurring nightmare. Like previous exoduses going back…

Here we go around the mulberry bush

Credited to Chattanooga, The New York Times

Caught red-handed! No surprises there.......Tony Blair lied

There are many, MPS being one of them, who have always regarded former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as a chameleon and a liar.      A report in the Daily Mail, today, "Smoking gun emails reveal Blair's 'deal in blood' with George Bush over Iraq war was forged a YEAR before the invasion had even started" shows, most clearly, the extent of his lying. 

"A bombshell White House memo has revealed for the first time details of the ‘deal in blood’ forged by Tony Blair and George Bush over the Iraq War.

The sensational leak shows that Blair had given an unqualified pledge to sign up to the conflict a year before the invasion started.

It flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

He told voters: ‘We’re not proposing military action’ – in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals." 

World Food Day

We already know that there isn't enough food to feed everyone in the world or that people in mnay parts of the world are simply starving or just getting by in the amount of food they consume.   

On this World Food Day, as the quint points out in this piece "Big Agri’ Doesn’t Serve Us: Reflections on World Food Day", the realities surrounding food are stark and grim....

"During the last half-century, agriculture and food systems lost their way, in the darkness and fog created by corporations that made chemicals for warfare, through myths and paid propaganda - that poisons and synthetic chemicals are necessary to feed the world. For the industry it was a matter of extending their sources of profits long after the war was over.

For the planet and people, the costs have been tragically high. 75 per cent of the earth’s biodiversity, soils, water have been destroyed, the climate has been destabilised, farmers have been uprooted, and instead of nourishing us, industrial fo…

Danger! Vanishing flowers

They may be used for or in all manner of ways, but we probably take them for granted.   Flowers!   But now, they too, are under threat, as this interesting op-ed piece in The New York Times explains.

"But now we are losing many flowering plants to extinction before we even knew they existed. An estimated 68 percent of the world’s flowering plants are now threatened or endangered. This staggering loss of diversity is due to anthropogenic causes, including habitat loss, degradation and invasive species.

Conversion of land for housing our ever-expanding human population and for new roads, mines and farms erases wildflowers’ living space and threatens yet more native plants. Invasive (weedy) plants populate new areas, competing for space, light and nutrients with those already growing there. It is these trends that are driving the massive loss of flowering species."

One event. Two differently reported versions!

It is difficult not to conclude that The New York Times has, yet again, displayed it's disposition to show bias in the reporting of an incident in Israel involving Palestinians - or else, the reporter is simply not up to the task of being a proper reporter.    Mondoweissreports - and you can decide.....

"On Friday, Israeli soldiers shot dead 6 Palestinians in Gaza, who were behind the border fence. In the New York Times, Jodi Rudoren said the Israeli troops “opened fire to quell crowds that hurled rocks and rolled burning tires close to the fence separating Gaza from Israel. . .”

Lower in the story, she added:

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said there were more than 1000 men ‘attempting multiple times and at multiple locations to storm the border fence throughout the day,’ hurling projectiles including a grenade.

Joel Greenberg, a veteran journalist, covered the same story for the Financial Times. Here are two paragraphs from Greenberg’s report:

Officials in Gaza sa…

Experts' warning: World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit

For all the talk - and not so much of it, rather more PR or pure boosterism, postering and politicking - in relation to the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris - the target of a 2% reduction in carbion gasses in  the atmosphere, isn't going to be reached - with repercussions and dire consequences to follow.  The Guardian reports in "World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn"

"Pledges by nations to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of those needed to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2C by the end of the century. This is the stark conclusion of climate experts who have analysed submissions in the runup to the Paris climate talks later this year.

A rise of 2C is considered the most the Earth could tolerate without risking catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, fishing, wildlife, deserts and water reserves. Even if rises are pegged at 2C, scientists say this will still destroy most coral reefs and glaci…

Look at who is stumping up millions to back US politicians

It certainly can;t be said that the average voter is really have a proper "say" in determining the outcome of US elections.    Just look at the small cabal of families who are supporting candidates with unprecedented amounts of cash.

"They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found.…

All of the things "wrong" with the TPP

No thanks to participating countries revealing their their citizenry details of the TPP agreement just concluded - for that we have to thank WikiLeaks - bottom line the sorts of incursions and restrictions the agreement brings with  it are are widespread.    CommonDreams reports....

"Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation "trade" deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)'s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm freedom of expression by bolstering monopolies while and injure public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines.

The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations.

Aside from the WikiLeaks publication, the vast majority of the mammo…

Indifference

A timely piece by Roger Cohen, op-ed writer for The New York Times:

“Indifference” is the word engraved on the stark wall at the entrance to Milan’s Holocaust memorial, housed beneath the central railway station from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi camps. The premises vibrate when trains depart overhead, as if mirroring the shudder the place provokes.

A survivor of the deportation, Liliana Segre, whose father, Alberto, was killed at Auschwitz, suggested that “indifference” was the most appropriate word to greet visitors to the memorial, which opened in 2013. Nobody had cared when, from 1943 onward, Jews were hauled through the elegant avenues of Milan to the station. They were unloaded from trucks and packed into wooden boxcars made to transport six horses but used for some 80 doomed human beings.

So it was perhaps inevitable that when Roberto Jarach, the vice president of the memorial, was asked if he could help with Milan’s refugee crisis, he saw that word flash th…

Double standards.....yet again!

It's now all too common story!    The US bombs the wrong place or through collateral damage, or sometimes even direct hits, kills innocent citizens in a foreign country.    The response?   "Sorry!".    It just isn't good enough.    And then there is this perfect example of double-standards......

"Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power marched to Twitter to proclaim: “we call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo[sition and] civilians.” Along with that decree, she posted a statement from the U.S. and several of its closest authoritarian allies – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UK – warning Russia that civilian casualties “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”

Early this morning, in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least 9 of the hospital’s medical staff, and seriously injured d…

Oxfam's dire warning. At least 10 million people worldwide face food insecurity

Yet another warning - this time not from scientists, but from Oxfam - that parts of the world are confronted with potentially 10 million people facing food insecurity because of El Niño in 2016-2017.

"At least ten million of the poorest people face food insecurity in 2015 and 2016 due to extreme weather conditions and the onset of El Niño, Oxfam has reported.

In Oxfam’s new report called Entering Uncharted Waters, erratic weather patterns were noted including high temperatures and droughts, disrupting farming seasons around the world.

Countries are already facing a “major emergency,” said Oxfam, including Ethiopia where 4.5 million people are in need of food assistance due to a drought this year.

Almost three million face hunger in Malawi as a result of erratic rains followed by drought. These conditions have caused a stifling in food production and a rise in food prices.

Christian Aid reported that the production of maize, Malawi’s staple food, has dropped by 30 percent in 2014, whil…

Americans and their guns

One might have thought that with an ongoing spate of killings involving guns that the Americans would say enough is enough!   We need some measure of controls introduced here.   No way, seems to be mantra still afoot from a robust lobby group, the NRA, supported by Republicans.

Some sobering stats from a piece on CNBC:

"$13.5 billion

Annual revenue of gun and ammunition manufacturing industry, with a $1.5 billion profit. (IBIS World)
$3.1 billion

Annual revenue of gun and ammunition stores, with a $478.4 million profit. (IBIS World)
10,847,792

The number of pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous firearms manufactured in the U.S. in 2013, the latest full year available. That's 4,441,726 pistols, 725,282 revolvers, 3,979,570 rifles, 1,203,072 shotguns, and 495,142 miscellaneous firearms. (ATF)

4%

Percentage of the above guns which were exported. Of those 10.84 million guns, 10,413,880 stay in America. (ATF)

270-310 million

Estimated of number of guns in the U.S. (Pew Res…