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Showing posts from March, 2016

Turkey descending down the slippery slope to dictatorship.....

The abject failure of the West to take Turkey to task for increasing activities more consistent with a dictatorship than a democracy, clearly demonstrates politics, at its worst, in action.    This piece from counterpunch explains....

"This interview was published in the Istanbul daily BirGun, on 25 March 2016. Onur Erem the journalist interviewing Tariq Ali has already been charged in court with insulting the leaders of the state, but the Judge ruled that the reference to Erdogan as a ‘tinpot dictator’ by Tariq Ali was within the limits of political debate. However, referring to the Prime Minister Davutoglu as a ‘joker’ was ruled unacceptable. Erem could face 14 months in prison, but he has appealed and is awaiting a final ruling. Meanwhile, newspapers are being banned by the regime and journalists harassed and imprisoned. Turkey is a member of NATO and currently being paid billions by the European Union to keep the Syrian refgugees and not let them travel to EU countries. This h…

Thank goodness for people like Pardiss Kebriaei

From truthdig:

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.

"When a United States detention center is hundreds of miles off the coast, it can be difficult for Americans to imagine the plight of the people who have been held there for the past 15 years. The harrowing accounts that we have all heard about torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, blur together, creating an unshakeable malaise, partly because we hear more often about the methods of torture than about the suffering of the human beings who experience the terror tactics.

Perhaps this is why the articles of Pardiss Kebriaei, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, can unexpectedly move us to tears. In a 2015 Harper’s Magazine arti…

Discrimination writ large

Americans pride themselves as having all sorts of freedoms people in other countries don't enjoy.    There is freedom seemingly to say whatever one wants thanks to the US Constitution, etc. etc.    How, then, to reconcile those freedoms with this piece of outrageous legislation just passed into law in North Carolina.....which is #101 in discrimination.

"North Carolina just wrote, passed, and signed into law the most anti-LGBT measure of the past decade—and it was all based on a lie. 

The state has undone not just local ordinances protecting transgender people, but all LGBT nondiscrimination provisions across the state. Literally overnight, people in Charlotte and across North Carolina can now be fired from their jobs for being gay, turned away at hotel chains for being gay, and even forced to show their genitals to a police officer if the cop thinks they might be transgender.

And unlike in Georgia, where a constellation of businesses has arrayed to oppose an anti-LGBT bill, bigo…

Why the 99% are getting increasingly restless and angry

From BloombergBusiness:

"From the supporters of Donald Trump to the street protesters of southern Europe, voters around the world are mad as hell. Inequality, immigration, and the establishment's perceived indifference are firing up electorates in a way that's rarely been seen before. As these charts show, the forces shaping the disruption of global politics have been building for years and aren't about to diminish."

Go here to see relevant facts and figures - which lend more than credible and compelling support for the above.

Some "team" (!) Ted Cruz has around him

If one wanted to gain an insight into the people around a politician advising him or her - and this case a presidential contender in the USA, Ted Cruz - look no further than this piece from The Intercept.    It very much looks the "team" that Cruz has demonstrates that this politician's views are just as extreme as those of his nemesis Donald Trump.

"GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz has unveiled a foreign policy team full of conspiracy theorists and arch-neoconservatives who support policies just as belligerent as those of Donald Trump. While Cruz has been supported by some Republican figures (most recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham) who consider him a relatively moderate alternative to Trump, the foreign policy advisers he has assembled show him to be running as an extremist. 

Read the complete list here - but one "sample"....

"Frank Gaffney: Gaffney is the president of the famously Islamophobic Center for Security Policy. He has developed a number of the…

The times we live in

Credited to John Spooner, The Age

Politicians......avoiding being blamed for terrorism

Patrick Cockburn is a well known, and respected, political commentator and author.   

Here, in a piece in Counterpunch, he makes more than compelling points how politicians, worldwide, have avoided being blamed for the terrorism we see around us.

"The capture of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the sole surviving planner of the Paris massacre, means that the media is focusing once again on the threat of terrorist attack by Islamic State. Questions are asked about why the most wanted man in Europe was able to elude the police for so long, even though he was living in his home district of Molenbeek in Brussels. Television and newspapers ask nervously about the chances of Isis carrying out another atrocity aimed at dominating the news agenda and showing that it is still in business.

The reporting of the events in Brussels is in keeping with that after the January (Charlie Hebdo) and November Paris attacks and the Tunisian beach killings by Isis last year. For several days there is blanket…

Apple is fighting for all of us....

Electronic Frontier Foundation sent the following to its supporters:

"Dear Friend of Digital Freedom,

President Obama’s advisors may be split on the encryption issue, but we’re not. We believe all of us are stronger and safer because end-to-end and full-disk encryption exist. We want to create a world with more encryption, not less. That’s exactly why we’re supporting Apple in the battle against the FBI.

The fight is not about just one iPhone—it implicates the security of all technology users.

If Apple can be compelled to create what would effectively be a master key to unlock this iPhone, then the barrier will be substantially lowered for the government to order any company to turn its products into tools of surveillance—compromising the safety, privacy, and security of all Americans.

With your help, we were able to gather 100,000 signatures on our SaveCrypto petition—surpassing the threshold for an official response from the White House.

It’s been 143 days since our petition passed t…

El Niño wreaks worldwide havoc

Let it not be said that we aren't being warned - in all manner of ways and from various responsible bodies and institutions  - that our universe is in grave peril from global warming.   Now WHO adds its voice to alerting us how El Niño is wreaking havoc worldwide.

"In rural villages in Africa and Asia, and in urban neighborhoods in South America, millions of lives have been disrupted by weather linked to the strongest El Niño in a generation.

In some parts of the world, the problem has been not enough rain; in others, too much. Downpours were so bad in Paraguay’s capital, Asunción, that shantytowns sprouted along city streets, filled with families displaced by floods. But farmers in India had the opposite problem: Reduced monsoon rains forced them off the land and into day-labor jobs.

In South Africa, a drought hit farmers so hard that the country, which a few years ago was exporting corn to Asian markets, now will have to buy millions of tons of it from Brazil and other South A…

We may all benefit from an Oscar win

The stars, directors and all manner of people may get award of an Oscar for some film or other, but one winner, this year, may see us all benefit.    Read on.....

"Most people don’t know a journalist. They only know journalists are rated at the bottom of trust polls along with used car salesmen. They only hear presidential candidates trashing reporters daily from the stump.

Spotlight, which just won the Oscar for best picture, allows viewers to peek behind the byline, authentically portraying the tediousness of strong investigative reporting, the fierce determination of reporters, the bravery of top editors and how persistence can bring about real change – as long as management has your back.

That’s why it’s a great thing for journalism that Spotlight won the Oscar for best picture. Highlighting the Boston Globe’s 2002 expose of the Catholic Church’s systemic cover up of priest molestation, Spotlight is this generation’s version of the 1976 movie All the President’s Men.

The win shou…

Poetic justice?

No one likes to see people hurt!   But is one to say when an advocate for allowing children to have access to guns - in the US of course! - is herself shot by her 4 year old son?

"This week, in my country, considered by some of its more embarrassing denizens to be the “greatest country in the world”, an outspoken Florida “gun rights” advocate left a loaded .45 calibre handgun in the back seat of her car and was promptly shot and wounded by her four-year-old child."


"In the US in 2015, more people were shot and killed by toddlers than by terrorists. In 2013, the New York Times reported on children shot by other children: “Children shot accidentally – usually by other children – are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable.”

And I’m supposed to believe that frightened Syrian refugees – or whomever becomes the next right wing scapegoat du jour – are the real threat to my children?…

Looking beyond Trump to the GOP

Bill Moyers is a truly veteran and respected American commentator.    In his post "Blowing the Biggest Political Story of the Last Fifty Years" on Moyers & company addressing the Trump phenomenon, the sub-heading to the piece - "The shocking story isn't the rise of Donald Trump but how the GOP slowly morphed into a party of hate and obstruction" - says it all!

"But here is what no one in the GOP establishment wants you to know, and no one in the media wants to admit: Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals."

Read this well worthwhile piece, in full, here.

Fukushima Five Years On

It is hard to believe that what has become known as the Fukushima disaster happened 5 years ago this week.    The question to be asked is what has been the fallout (no pun intended!) and what has the Japan, and the world, learned.     Not much, if one is to go by this report "Fukushima five years on, and the lessons we failed to learn " in The Guardian.

"Fukushima went from being the name of a provincial Japanese city to becoming global shorthand for a costly and contaminating nuclear disaster.

Fukushima means “fortunate island” but the region’s luck melted down along with the reactors on March 11, 2011. The subsequent system failure, meltdown and uncontrolled release of large volumes of radiation at the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has become one of the defining events of our age."


The March 11 Great Eastern earthquake and tsunami devastated much of Japan’s eastern seaboard. It also breached the safety and back-up systems a…

Britain's shameful and disgraceful treatment of its refugees

Ignore the pious, pompous words of Britain's PM, David Cameron - how it is the UK does things things humanely and with compassion - and read how what is supposed to be a civilised First world country treats its refugees.    Shameful and disgraceful.....

"Children forced to sleep on a concrete floor, patients with diarrhoea denied access to showers, trafficking victims locked up without food, a naked woman allegedly beaten in a detention centre: this is how government officials are accused of treating asylum seekers in 2016. And it’s not in war-torn Libya or cash-strapped Lebanon, but in Britain.

A new report accuses officials of gross negligence or abuse in their treatment of asylum seekers. Written by the chief inspector of prisons, the study finds that hundreds of asylum seekers, including those from Syria, were held in “wholly unacceptable” conditions on the floor of a freight shed in Kent.

Separately, the Home Office is investigating claims that a woman at the Yarl’s Wood de…

Global warming will affect the poor

Another piece of research which shows, from a different perspective this time, what global warming will affect society.....

"Climate change could seriously redistribute resources and reallocate wealth – but not in a fair way.

In a reverse of the famous Robin Hood folklore, it could rob from the poor to give to the rich, according to researchers. Yet even the rich may not feel any richer.

In one clear instance, as scientists have repeatedly warned, fish stocks are likely to move away from the equator and towards the poles, as the tropics heat up and expand.

This means that at least one valuable resource will move away from some of the world’s poorest nations, and in the direction of societies that are relatively wealthier − if only because economic power has for so long been vested in the temperate zones. And this shift will have economic consequences.

Eli Fenichel, assistant professor of bioeconomics and ecosystem management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in …

The dark side for women (and girls) on this International Women's Day

As the world "celebrates" International Women's Day this 8 March, this report from UNICEF makes for sobering reading - and an appreciation and understanding that the place for women in many societies is far from secure, safe and "free".

"Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. Yet among women aged 20 to 24 worldwide, one in four were child brides.  Many factors interact to place a girl at risk of marriage, including poverty, the perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’, family honour, social norms, customary or religious laws that condone the practice, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country's civil registration system. Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement and placing her at increased risk of domestic violence. Child marriage …

It's damn hot out there

It is hard to believe that there are still many climate deniers out there.    Even if what is being said in this piece "“The Old Normal Is Gone”: February Shatters Global Temperature Records" on Salon is half right, the world has a huge problem on its hands.

"Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.

There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month.

Using unofficial data and adjusting for different base-line temperatures, it appears that February 2016 was likely somewhere between 1.15 and 1.4 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and about 0.2 de…

An outsiders's view of a President Trump

For every critic or detractor of Donald Trump, there are many who see him as becoming the next US President.    As this piece (re-printed here in full) in Australia's The Age newspaper clearly shows, at least one outsider fears what will become of the world with Trump in the White House.  

"This year started with one of those fanciful, off-the-wall, left-field, way-out-there possible 'black swan' events - Donald Trump becoming president of the United States.

Two very long months later, that's no longer so fanciful.

I've just spent three weeks in the US and President Trump is looking more pervasive wild duck than exotic black swan.

Tonight, with the Super Tuesday bunch of US state primaries, there's a probability the boastfully racist, sectarian, protectionist Trump will take a very big step closer to winning the Republican nomination. It is his to lose.

The presumed Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, is ahead of Trump in the polls but the result of the two-ho…