With all the hubbub surrounding the Resolution of the UN Security recently condemning Israel for its establishment and expansion of so-called settlements, this piece from B'Tselem -The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories -provides a timely explanation of how Israelis take over Palestinian rural land.
"This report tells the history of the process of fragmentation imposed on Palestinian rural land in the West Bank through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District – ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem. What these communities have experienced since 1980, when Israel established the Elon Moreh nearby, is but one illustration of broader developments taking place throughout the West Bank. Their story is similar to that of hundreds of Palestinian communities on whose lands Israeli settlements were established."
There are those who make a splash about their good deeds - and then there are those who fly under the radar, but whose humanitarian work and generosity is so very helpful to so many.
Introducing Jim Estill, a Canadian in Guelph, who could well qualify as Canada's Oscar Schindler. Toronto Life reports on this remarkable human being......
"When Jim Estill decided to sponsor 50 Syrian refugee families, he didn’t tell anyone about it at first—not his accountant, not his friends, not even his wife. It was the summer of 2015, and the death toll in Syria had reached a quarter of a million people, while another four million had fled the country. All summer long, the news reported horror stories of Syrians drowning in the Mediterranean. Humanitarian aid programs were being cut across the Middle East.
As he watched the news, Estill got worked up. “I didn’t want to be 80 years old and know that I did nothing during the greatest humanitarian crisis of my time,” he says. Estill was di…
One can look askew at Trump, regard him as a buffoon, dislike his appointments to office with derision and dismay, but we should not overlook his attack on freedom of the press. Consider these matters in this piece CommonDreams....
"Historically, tyrants have tried to control the press using 4 techniques that, worryingly, Donald Trump is already using.
1.Berate the media and turn the public against it. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” When Trump lies – claiming, for example, “massive voter fraud” in the election, and that he “won in a landslide” – and the media call him on those lies, Trump claims the media is lying. Even televised satires he labels “unfunny, one-sided, and pathetic.”
2.Limit media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. (His two predecessors had news conferences within days of being declared president.) He’s blocked the media from traveling with him, and even from knowing with whom he’s meeting. His phone call wi…
As Gideon Levy, writing in "The U.S. Is Finally Out of the Closet" in Haaretz, rightly points out, with Trump having appointed a far-right Jewish fellow as the next ambassador to Israel, the US Congress and Senate - and the American people - will, likely, not understand that with the position to be taken by the US vis-a-vis Israel, any pretence of the USA being an honest broker in seeking a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict will immediately disappear.
"President-elect Donald Trump has decided to appoint an anti-Israeli and racist lawyer as ambassador to Israel. That is, of course, his prerogative. With David Friedman’s appointment last Thursday, the United States has finally come out of the closet. From now on, it officially supports the establishment of an Israeli apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Friedman is not the first Jewish ambassador to Israel – a matter that has always sparked questions of dual loyalty – but he is the…
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American writer. His books have been published in over 40 languages and his plays staged in more than one hundred countries. He is the author of Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Dorfman writes on CommonDreams how, given the interference by the Russians in the recent presidential election, Americans can now perhaps understand how Chileans feel about the US intervention in their democratic processes during the Allende period back in the 1970's.
"On the morning of Oct. 22, 1970, in what was then my home in Santiago de Chile, my wife, Angélica, and I listened to a news flash on the radio. Gen. René Schneider, the head of Chile’s armed forces, had been shot by a commando on a street of the capital. He was not expected to survive.
Angélica and I had the same automatic reaction: It’s the C.I.A., we said, almost in unison. We had no proof at the time — though evidence that we were right would eventually, and …
The figures speak for themselves.....and again show how politicians, and the so-called upper-echelons of society, simply don't get that the general populace will, sooner or later, say enough is enough and demand something be done to redress these obvious disparities in society. This piece "100 CEOs Have as Much Retirement Savings as 116 Million Americans" on CommonDreams explains....
"While many Americans are facing a "frightening retirement reality," 100 CEOs are looking at "colossal nest eggs" and can look forward to monthly retirement checks of over $250,000 for the rest of their lives.
The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) puts a spotlight on this massive savings gap in its new report (pdf), "A Tale of Two Retirements."
"While slashing jobs and benefits for ordinary workers, CEOs of large companies have been feathering their own nests," stated Sarah Anderson, report co-author and director of the IPS Global Economy Project.…
Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent, takes the US ambassador to the UN to task - for what stands out as wilful hypocrisy, amnesia, forgetfulness, double-standards or revisionism of history - or whatever you want to call it.
"So there was Samantha Power doing her “shame” bit in the UN. “Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?”, America’s ambassador to the UN asked the Russians and Syrians and Iranians. She spoke of Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica “and, now, Aleppo”.
Odd, that. For when Samantha talked about “barbarism against civilians” in Aleppo, I remembered climbing over the dead Palestinian civilians massacred at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, slaughtered by Israel’s Lebanese militia friends while the Israeli army – Washington’s most powerful ally in the Middle East – watched. But Samantha didn’t mention them. Not enough dead Palestinians, perhaps? Only 1,700…
As is so often the case, the world has moved on from the plight of those crossing the Mediterranean seeking refuge in Europe.
Medecins Sans Frontieres reports that the UNHR says that 131,432 people have arrived in Italy via the central Mediterranean between January and September this year. It is estimated that 3,501 people are said to have died attempting the journey, compared to 2,794 in all of 2015.
What a plight we are witnessing on all levels......
It doesn't say much for Time magazine to have chosen Trump as Person of the Year. Low-brow perhaps, or even Madman, as Charles Blow, writing on The New York Times, would have it.
"So, Time magazine, ever in search of buzz, this week named Donald Trump Person of the Year. But they did so with a headline that read, “President of the Divided States of America.” The demi-fascist of Fifth Avenue wasn’t flattered by that wording.
In an interview with the “Today” show, Trump huffed, “When you say divided states of America, I didn’t divide them. They’re divided now.” He added later, “I think putting divided is snarky, but again, it’s divided. I’m not president yet. So I didn’t do anything to divide.”
Donald, thy name is division. You and your campaign of toxicity and intolerance have not only divided this country but also ripped it to tatters.
This comports with an extremely disturbing tendency of Trump’s: Denying responsibility for things of which he is fully culpable, while claim…
Everyone in the world ought to hang their heads in collective shame as we watch the never-ending tragedy in Aleppo. That the UN, or countries with backbone and principles - evidently none! - haven't stepped up to stop the wanton carnage and death and destruction is a disgrace. And we all know what is going on!
Sophie McNeill of Australia's ABC reports in "Syrian war: We can't say we didn't know":
"The Syrian regime and the Russian Government are ignoring calls for urgent humanitarian evacuations from Aleppo, as terrified civilians trapped inside the city send out desperate calls for help.
"Never again" is happening right now in Aleppo — right in front of the world's eyes and in real time.
Because while they have run out of hospitals, medicine and food, the people of Aleppo can still manage to get messages out online.
Each day this week, I have received desperate SOS messages from civilians in East Aleppo who are stuck inside what sounds…
"Whatever kind of president Donald J. Trump turns out to be, he will surely be no Harry S. Truman. Instead of the sign that Truman kept on his desk declaring that “The Buck Stops Here,” Trump should get one that says, “Don’t Blame Me” — embellished perhaps with the phony coat of arms he plastered on his Scottish golf course.
A month after he won the presidential election, Trump is happy to take credit for things he likes — like the recent rebound in the stock market or the jobs that may be saved at that infamous Carrier plant thanks to millions of dollars the taxpayers of Indiana are going to pay.
But he’s also showing the world that he has no intention of taking responsibility for the hard stuff. Don’t blame Trump, he said on Wednesday, for the deep divisions in American society.
It's hardly surprising that Trump's appointment of Michael Flynn as his Security Advisor is attracting flack from many quarters. This piece from CommonDreams puts into context why.....
"Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor "is a frightening prospect for anyone who values America's national security," more than 50 organizations wrote to President-elect Donald Trump on Monday demanding he rescind the appointment "immediately."
The letter points to Flynn's "history of bigoted and deceitful statements," opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, penchant for "regime change," and his "alarming ties to foreign governments" as evidence that he is "a completely inappropriate choice to serve in the most senior national security position in the White House."
Given these concerns, the 53 progressive, religious, and peace groups, including American Friends Service Committee, Campaign for America's F…
It was bound to happen.....the fall out, and regrets, from and by those who, stupidly, voted for Donald T.
"Just under a month since Donald Trump was elected to the US Presidency, it seems many of his supporters - including high profile individuals who endorsed him to the public - are already deeply regretting their decision.
And one Tumblr user, racked with schadenfreude, is gathering their moments of realisation together on a blog they have titled Trumpgrets, so the rest of the world can join in saying "I told you so".
Somehow, even political pundits are surprised that the President-elect has not in fact "drained the swamp" as he promised, but rather gone fishing in it for his appointments. As Trumpgrets points out, perhaps the likes of Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and former Congressman Joe Walsh should have done some more research before they endorsed him.
Nor does the President-elect appear to actually plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton or build a wall, despite h…
For those who have watched, mostly in horror, not only that Trump winning the election, but also the circle of people (prospective Cabinet Secretaries and others) around him, this op-ed piece "The Trump Tweets I Want to Read" on The New York Times (reproduced here in full) is more than relevant.
"White nationalists have been captured on video raising their hands in a Nazi salute while shouting “Hail Trump.” Hate crimes have surged across the country — the Southern Poverty Law Center gathered reports of 867 in just the 10 days after the election. Yet, unlike his predecessors, our president-elect has been mostly silent in condemning the hate talk and violence being done in his name.
In an interview with this paper, Donald J. Trump said that the alt-right is “not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why,” seemingly unable to fathom that the reason they are “energized” is because of him and the thing he needs to “look in…
Outrageous is the word which immediately comes to mind - the idea of a Muslim Register which Trump has floated. And how and by or through whom would this Registry comes into being? Let The Intercept explain.....
"Every American corporation, from the largest conglomerate to the smallest firm, should ask itself right now: Will we do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals? Or will we resist?
This question is perhaps most important for the country’s tech companies, which are particularly valuable partners for a budding authoritarian. The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.
Shortly after the election, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote a personal letter to President-elect Trump in which she offered her congratulation…
All those supporters of Trump - who, heaven's only knows, got him headed for the White House - are in a for more than a rude awakening and shock. Whatever Trump "promised" is just not going to happen....as Paul Krugman so clearly spells out in his latest op-ed piece "Seduced and Betrayed by Donald Trump" in The New York Times.
"Donald Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote) on the strength of overwhelming support from working-class whites, who feel left behind by a changing economy and society. And they’re about to get their reward — the same reward that, throughout Mr. Trump’s career, has come to everyone who trusted his good intentions. Think Trump University.
Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed.
The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trum…
The Brits have just brought in legislation which allows for unprecedented "snooping" in a Western democracy - says Edward Snowden. Let truthdig explain....
"On Tuesday, the United Kingdom instated the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, a piece of legislation described by whistleblower Edward Snowden as “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.”
The law, informally known as the “Snooper’s Charter,” spent over a year in Parliament before it was passed. The Guardian reported:
"The new surveillance law requires web and phone companies to store everyone’s web browsing histories for 12 months and give the police, security services and official agencies unprecedented access to the data.
It also provides the security services and police with new powers to hack into computers and phones and to collect communications data in bulk. The law requires judges to sign off police requests to view journalists’ call and web records, but the measure has been descri…
Now "rich" nations need to sit up, take notice and actually "do" something.....for as this piece on Forbes so clearly spells out, climate change is already, and most certainly will in the future, lead to all manner of diabolical consequences.
"There is broad scientific agreement that the burning of fossil fuels is leading to warmer weather, and a slew of negative climate changes. These include decreased rainfall, desertification, deforestation, melting polar ice caps, higher ocean levels, stronger storms, and transboundary haze. Climate effects, in turn, will cause geographically widespread and frequent food and water shortages that lead to population displacement. The resulting migrants are, in a simple but controversial phrase, “climate refugees.” Climate refugees are the latest group of the global poor to clamor at the gates of the developed world. But they are largely ignored by the international community.
Natural disasters displaced 36 million people in 20…
Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph.D. program in communications at Columbia University.
Writing in "Trumping the Times"on truthdig, Gitlin puts into perspective (including calling out Trump for what he is - a " profoundly disturbed ignoramus") the New York Times, newspapers in general and journalists in relation to Trump and his treatment of the media.
"We have plunged into an emergency, and one reason is that journalists who are supposed to supply a picture of the world failed to do so. Not the only reason, but one reason, which is enough to prompt serious rumination.
I wrote last week about journalists searching their souls, trying to figure out what they did wrong in this appalling campaign. Like the rest of us — nobody deserves a free pass in an endangered world — they’re obliged to think deeply about what to do better. Is it too impossibly high-minded and do-goody to insist that their reason for being is to offer t…
The world - certainly those in the West or in so-called First World countries - risk community upheaval if the tide of wealth disparity continues unabated, as now. The latest stats on wealth disparity make for sober reading and are truly shocking - even if not surprising!
"Global wealth inequality continues to rise, according to a new study from Credit Suisse, with the richest 10 percent now owning a full 89 percent of all global assets.
The annual assessment (.pdf) from the Zurich-based financial services company finds that while the world was trending toward greater equality until 2008, the financial crisis halted that trajectory. The report reads:
Our calculations indicate that the top 1 percent of global wealth-holders started the millennium owning 49.6 percent of all household wealth. This share declined slowly and steadily until it reached 45.4 percent in 2009. The downward trend then reversed and the share rose each year, passing the 2000 level in 2014. We estimate that th…
We may all marvel at and love how the internet is useful in all manner of ways - connectivity being one of them - but the reality is that the whole "internet thing" is seemingly out of control. Hacking is rife, cyber security appears to be little understood, let alone successfully in place at most corporations and now governments are in on the act of accessing the internet of other countries or even targeted persons in another country.
It is high time that governments, corporations and individuals start to tame an out-of-control monster.
"Google is warning prominent journalists and professors that nation-sponsored hackers have recently targeted their accounts, according to reports delivered in the past 24 hours over social media.
The people reportedly receiving the warnings include Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Stanford University professor and former US diplomat Michael McFaul, GQ correspondent Keith Olber…
"I’ve just visited the hiding place of some troublesome refugees who should make Donald Trump very angry. It’s not the first time I’ve called at the little house on the old canal, but you only have to glance at the family’s papers to see how they fall under Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. They fled a dangerous country full of extremists – a nation which threatened its own neighbours – and they sought their first new home for “economic reasons”. Worse still, they even tried to enter the United States. They were turned away – on the grounds that even if they had good reason to flee their persecutors, they didn’t have good enough reason to choose America as their place of …
25 November is marked as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
If it were only so.... that violence against women is receding if not eradicated altogether. The grim reality is otherwise, as this piece from Inter Press Service reports.......
"Each year on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is commemorated. A commemoration in essence is an opportunity to reflect on the challenges, prove that progress can be made and celebrate victories. It is also a reminder of the obligations and the responsibility we all must own at both the private and the public level to ensure that every woman, every girl, in all corners of the world lives in a world free of violence and fear. They must be enabled to enjoy their most fundamental right to physical integrity and security.
The reality today is grim. In every country, in every city or village, in conflict zones and refugee camps, in health pandemics like HIV or Ebola and h…
Bad enough that ol' Donald T was elected President, but it seems his hideous family is part of the package. The whole Trump circus - with all that entails - as he goes about picking his Cabinet and advisers, must give one more than cause for concern.....if not downright alarm!
"The Trump brain and its fabulous functioning will fascinate researchers long after POTUS 45 leaves the Oval Office. But as he arrives, we can only wonder at where Donald Trump sits on a great American continuum - at one end, sweet innocence and Willy Wonka; at the other, the ethical netherworld of Don Corleone.
There's an element of the Wonka chocolate factory in the crowds that queue around the block at Trump Tower in Manhattan, patient and wide-eyed as they wait to shell out $US100, even $US200, for a swag of hot new presidential memorabilia at the gift kiosk, which is sandwiched between the Trump Ice Cream Parlour and the Trump Grill on the ground floor.
Pierre Tristam is a journalist, writer, editor and lecturer. He is currently the editor and publisher of FlaglerLive.com, a non-profit news site in Florida. A native of Beirut, Lebanon, who became an American citizen in 1986, Pierre is one of the United States' only Arab Americans with a regular current affairs column in a mainstream, metropolitan newspaper.
Writing in "It'll Be Alt-Right" on CommonDreams, Tristam makes more than valid points about Trump, the election campaign, post Trump's election, Republicans, the Trump appointments and the press.....
"I keep reading that the press didn’t do its job. I disagree. This was the most fact-checked campaign in history. We knew pretty much all there was to know about both candidates to make informed decisions. And it’s not as if Trump takes after obscure post-modernist French intellectuals who need armies of academic translators to figure out what he’s saying. He’s not into big policy statements or overarching …
With the revelations now coming to light of fake news having abounded during the US election campaign, the result of a study by Stanford University that students are unable to readily distinguish what is fake news, and what is not - let alone to be trusted - is troubling.
"Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.
Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.
What does it say about the man, when one sees not only the people Trump is appointing to significant positions in his upcoming administration but the so-called advisers around him. He is downright awful and confirming all the preposterous things he was saying on the campaign trail. It is also apparent that neither Trump nor some of his potential nominees - think Mick Romney - have any scruples or integrity.
"Early signs of what the Trump administration may look like: A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be White House chief strategist; a man rejected for a judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow will be national security adviser.
No, this is not satire.
I’ve repeatedly noted that my side lost this election, that elections have consequences, and that President-Elect Donald Trump should be given a chance. He seems intent on blowing that chance.
"What was evident during the campaign is more apparent after Donald Trump’s election: Mr. Trump is deeply ambivalent about becoming president. He’d rather stay in his lavish New York penthouse. Policy is a headache. It requires concentration. There are annoying laws against nepotism. Trump won 4.1 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia. Washington does not pine for him.
It all began as a game, turned into an ego trip and ended in a strange apotheosis. Trump has uncanny instincts but no firm ideas. He knows the frisson authority confers. A rich boy from Queens who made good in Manhattan, he understands the galvanizing force of playing the outsider card. A man who changed his past, purging German lineage for “Swedish,” he understands America’s love for the outsized invented life. For his victory he depend…
Let it not be said that we haven't been warned.....and are sitting on our hands doing very little to ameliorate the present fossil fuel's emissions problem and what looms. Future generations won't thank us of our inaction - and our plain idiocy.
"Unabated fossil fuel emissions will cost the global economy a staggering $12 trillion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations.
"The report predicts a temperature rise of 2.5ºC by 2050 if climate change continues on its current course, compared to the 1.5ºC temperature rise that was the goal of the emissions reduction plans laid out in the Paris climate accord. The world's gross domestic product will fall by $33 trillion in the "business-as-usual" scenario, the report found, and by $21 trillion under the 1.5ºC scenario—a difference of $12 trillion.
The report, Pursuing the 1.5ºC Limit, was published by the United Nations Development Programme along with "a group of 43 developing countri…
"Flynn was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. After the ouster, he frequently lashed out in public against President Obama and blamed his removal on the administration’s discomfort with his hard-line views on radical Islam.
Spurning the decorum traditionally expected of retired U.S. flag officers, Flynn became a fervent campaigner for Trump and was given a high-profile role speaking before the GOP convention, an appearance in which he led the crowd in “lock her up” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Flynn’s behavior drew the ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrys…
It will probably come as no surprise to those who follow these things, but not unexpectedly Trump has chosen Stephen Bannon as his Chief Strategist.
Needless to say that has seen outrage from certain quarters. Forward "covered" the appointment this way, here. The Guardian dealt with this way, here.
The New York Times has this - "Stephen Bannon and Breitbart News, in Their Words".......
"The appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as chief White House strategist for President-elect Donald J. Trump has been condemned by civil rights groups, Democrats and some Republicans, because of Mr. Bannon’s record as chairman of Breitbart News, the hard-right news and opinion site.
Here, in his own words, are a selection of Mr. Bannon’s public statements about the country, the Republican Party and his own political philosophy."
Continue reading, here, the litany of appalling things said by this advisor to Trump. Ugly!