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Showing posts from May, 2016

Vale Michael Ratner

A belated tribute to Michael Ratner who died earlier this month.   There are few men, so principled, prepared to take on the powerful when injustice, prejudice and breaches of the law are apparent and who seek redress.

The Nation magazine's tribute to Ratner encapsulates the man...

"Several years ago, I asked the civil-rights lawyer Michael Ratner, who died on May 11 at age 72, whether he thought he had any chance of prevailing when, with the Center for Constitutional Rights, he sued George W. Bush in early 2002 on behalf of some of the first Guantánamo detainees. “None whatsoever,” he replied. “We filed 100 percent on principle.” The law was against him; the Supreme Court had ruled in World War II that prisoners of war could not challenge their detention in US courts. And the politics were even worse; the World Trade Center cleanup was still ongoing, the detainees had been declared “the worst of the worst,” and, as alleged foreign terrorists, the detainees elicited little symp…

The prospects for peace recede even further

If ever there was a piece expressing despair, this article "How Israel Lost its Latest Chance for a Peace Process" by  Bernard Avishai in The New Yorker is it.    The appointment of this new Defence Minister in Israel, can, objectively, only be seen as  disastrous for Israel.

The sad fact is that there are still politicians both in Israel and elsewhere, talking of a Two State Solution in the intractable Israel - Palestinian conflict.   It's a myth that there could be such a resolution given the facts on the ground - especially as Israel relentlessly, and without any ready sanction, proceeds to build and expand with so-called settlements in the West Bank.    Add to the above, the cynical approach of the US, even if somewhat critical of Israel in its actions, nevertheless ramping up its military aid to Israel.  

"Last Friday, after weeks of political maneuvering, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Avigdor Lieberman to be his defense minister. A longtime…

60,000 jobs, in a single factory, go in one fell swoop

A sign of things to come - not only in China....and not to be welcomed, given the fallout.

"Apple's primary manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has replaced 60,000 people with robots at a single factory in Kunshan, China, a report said on Wednesday.

The factory's workforce shrunk from 110,000 people to just 50,000, the South China Morning Post said, noting that as many as 600 companies in Kunshan have similar plans. It's worried that automation could potentially have a devastating impact on the region's population, comprised mostly of migrant workers.

Foxconn has been working to deploy robots in its factories for some time. Although each machine is expensive upfront, the benefit to management is reduced labor costs, which can in turn mean stable prices for client electronics corporations like Apple.

The Post did not say what Foxconn manufactures at its Kunshan plant, but last year companies in the area are said to have built approximately 51 million laptops and 20 million…

Whilst in town: Er....addressing the Vietnamese

Credited to Mr Fish, truthdig

The President (Obama) goes to Japan

A visit to Japan by President Obama might present the perfect opportunity for him to apologise for the havoc wreaked on the Japanese when the US dropped those nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945.    But he won't!    In fact he won't address other concerns the Japanese have with the Americans - one being the ongoing naval bases on Japanese soil.

"President Obama heads to Japan this week for an historic visit to Hiroshima, site of the world’s first use of a nuclear weapon, and one of the United States’ most enduring shameful acts. The corporate media has hailed the visit as an important step in strengthening bilateral relations between the US and Japan. Indeed, it certainly is that as the US seeks to reassert its hegemony in an Asia-Pacific region increasingly being seen as the sphere of influence of China.

However, Obama’s arrival in Japan also highlights the deeply hypocritical and cynical attitudes of US policymakers, and President Obama himself, when it c…

Houston (no, Israel!) we have a problem!

When a newspaper editorialises, as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has (see below) in relation to the savage bashing of an Arab supermarket employee by 3 border policeman, you know that the country has a real problem.       

"This injustice is natural in a country where the prime minister makes a supportive phone call to the parents of a soldier who shot dead a dying Palestinian terrorist in violation of the rules of engagement, and in which that soldier is considered by many to be a national hero; in a country where the defense minister, who defended the rules of engagement, is ousted in favor of someone who demonstrates support for the entry of barbaric anarchy into the military’s ranks, and in a country where a senior opposition figure meant to offer an alternative government says that everyone who takes out a screwdriver should be shot. Such injustice is natural in a country that uses violence against Palestinians across the Green Line every day, and that promotes popular and in…

Onwards to the Right

Credited to Latuff, Mondoweiss

At what cost security?

Credited to Mike Luckovich

Trump: Lying - to no effect

Trump lies!     Who cares?    

"Donald Trump is a serial liar. Okay, to be a bit less Trumpian about it, he has trouble with the truth. If you look at Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning site that examines candidates’ pronouncements for accuracy, 76 percent of Trump’s statements are rated either “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire,” which is to say off-the-charts false. By comparison, Hillary Clinton’s total is 29 percent.

But if Trump doesn’t cotton much to the truth, he doesn’t seem to cotton much to his own ideas, either. He waffles, flip-flops and obfuscates, sometimes changing positions from one press appearance to the next, as Peter Alexander reported on NBC Nightly News this past Monday — a rare television news critique of Trump.

I say “rare” because most of the time, as Glenn Kessler noted in The Washington Post this week, MSM — the mainstream media —  just sit back and let Trump unleash his whoppers without any pushback, even as they criticize his manners and atti…

Muslim women...and sex!

A subject rarely openly spoken about, but plaudits to The New York Times for publishing this op-ed piece "Sex Talk for Muslim Women" about the frustrations and challenges Muslim women face in relation to sex.

"Countless articles have been written on the sexual frustration of men in the Middle East — from the jihadi supposedly drawn to armed militancy by the promise of virgins in the afterlife to ordinary Arab men unable to afford marriage. Far fewer stories have given voice to the sexual frustration of women in the region or to an honest account of women’s sexual experiences, either within or outside marriage."

"Brazil’s Democracy to Suffer Grievous Blow as Unelectable, Corrupt Neoliberal is Installed"

The title of this post (above) is that of Glenn Greenwald writing on The Intercept in relation to what was then the imminent ouster of President Dilma Rousseff.   Bold, for sure!  And seemingly spot on for what has happened in Brazil.    Let Greenwald background the new President......

"Her successor will be Vice President Michel Temer of the PMDB party (pictured, above). So unlike impeachment in most other countries with a presidential system, impeachment here will empower a person from a different party than that of the elected President. In this particular case, the person to be installed is awash in corruption: accused by informants of involvement in an illegal ethanol-purchasing scheme, he was just found guilty of, and fined for, election spending violations and faces an 8-year-ban on running for any office. He’s deeply unpopular: only 2% would support him for President and almost 60% want him impeached (the same number that favors Dilma’s impeachment). But he will faithfully…

It's a matter of perspective.....

Credited to The New Yorker

The absolute devastation of Iraqi society, especially its children

Reflect on George Bushes - and his 2 principal acolytes, the UK's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard - when the US unleashed the war of "Shock and Awe" on the Iraqis......and then ponder what has happened to the people of Iraq, especially its children.    We now know, courtesy this piece in global post, the devastation the war has wrought on children, and how many, now coming of age.....

"While the United States promised freedom, security and prosperity, young Iraqis have known very little of any of those things. The figures are staggering. Analysts believe more than 800,000 Iraqi children have been orphaned by conflict since 2003. Two million children are out of school and more than a million more are at risk of dropping out, according to UNICEF. Three million of Iraq’s 35 million people are now displaced inside the country — more than half of them children. The Association of Iraqi Psychologists says anxiety over violence has affected millions of Iraqi chil…

It's not a bailout for the Greeks at all

We are forever hearing and reading about how the Europeans have, and are again, seeking to bail the Greeks out of their debts crisis, etc.    Problem is the European banks are are doing no such thing.    What those banks have done is to ensure that they are being repaid whatever monies are owing to them - as as this piece "Greece Bailout Was for EU Banks: Study Confirms That Rescue Loans Didn’t Serve the Greek People" on truthdig details.

"A new study offers more confirmation that the so-called bailout packages the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delivered to Greece primarily served European banks rather than the Greek people.

The study released Wednesday by the Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) analyzed where funds from the two aid bailout deals—received on the condition of imposing harsh austerity measures—since 2010 went.

“Contrary to widely held beliefs,” ESMT states, of the €215.9 billion (roughly $246 billi…

One dare not contemplate it!

Credited to Mike Luckovich

Trump v Clinton: An appalling choice

What a bleak, depressing thought.   The US presidential race between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

Allister Heath, writing in "Trump v Clinton: America now faces 'a truly appalling choice" in The Telegraph, London (and reprinted in The Age newspaper) reflect on the 2 candidates and the current mood in America - not a rosy one by any stretch of the imagination.

"It is remarkable how a country that is so good at business, science, the arts and just about everything else can be so bad at politics. There are now 318 million Americans, including many of the world's most creative and brilliant people: the US electorate ought by rights to be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing its president.

Yet from this immense talent pool, the American political system has managed to narrow the race down to two supremely flawed human beings, neither of whom remotely deserves to be in the White House.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... t…

A contemptible Australian Immigration Minister

The actions of the Australian Government in banishing people who have reached the country in small boats - often risking life and limb to do so - to Manus Island or Nauru is disgraceful enough - particularly as many have been found to be genuine refugees - but for the Immigration Minister to accuse refugee advocates of encouraging asylum seekers to self harm is more than contemptible.    The man isn't fit to be a Minister of the Crown.   And to see one person die last week because they set themselves alight and another in hospital for the same reason, this week, is beyond tragic.    

This op-ed piece "Refugees don't self-harm because of me, Peter Dutton, they self-harm because of you" in The Guardian, rightly takes the Minister to task.

"Peter Dutton, what do you do between the hours of midnight and 5am? Do you sleep? If so, I really must ask – how can you?

Dozens of Australians sit up all night, every single night, comforting asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nau…

Not even remotely what you could describe as success!

The Americans, and its allies, aimed to rid Afghanistan of poppy growing and vanquishing the Taliban.   This piece, "Bountiful Afghan Opium Harvest Yields Profits for the Taliban" from The New York Times, would suggest abject failure on both counts.

"It is spring that determines how a year turns out, according to an Afghan proverb. And if the Helmand poppy fields this spring are any indication, the Taliban will have a very good year.

As the opium harvest winds down across Helmand Province, Afghanistan’s largest in territory and poppy cultivation, farmers and officials are reporting high yields. The skies were generous with heavy rainfall, and the Afghan government with its cancellation of annual eradication campaigns. It had lost much of the territory in Helmand to the Taliban anyway.

So it was with peace of mind that farmers, and thousands of seasonal laborers who had traveled to Helmand, scraped the gum from the opium bulbs. Taliban fighters were just around the corner t…

Edward Snowden reflects.......

Edward Snowden - could one ever forget him and what he did? - has just written the forward to a new book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program, by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept.     His reflections......

I’VE BEEN WAITING 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much — and to be irrevocably changed — by revealing secret truths.

One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being …

Gideon Levy calls out 83 US Senators as ignoramuses

Gideon Levy is more than a gadfly.    He is a regular op-ed write for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz - and regularlycalled a spade more than a shovel in excoriating Israel for its actions over the years, notably it's attacks on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, the Gaza Wars, the Occupation and the failure to even attempt making peace with its Palestinian neighbours.

His latest op-ed piece - unfortunately behind a paywall - is no less charitable.   This time it is aimed at 83 US Senators.

"The 83 U.S. senators who urged the president to increase military assistance to Israel are 83 ignoramuses and their letter is a disgrace. Israel of all countries? Military assistance of all needs?

Increasing military aid won’t add one iota of security to Israel, which is armed to the teeth. It will harm Israel. Those 83 out of 100 senators base their extraordinary demand on “Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges.”

What are they talking about? What “rising challenges”? The rise in the use…