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Showing posts from December, 2016

Happy New Year....not?

Credited to Mike Luckovich the radar

Whilst the media concentrates on reporting on Syria, another tragedy has befallen the people of Yemen.

As reported by AlJazeera, UNICEF has issued a report detailing the plight of the Yemenese, especially its children.

"More than 400,000 children are at risk of starvation in Yemen, with nearly 2.2 million in need of urgent care, according to the UN children's agency UNICEF.

New figures indicate that hunger among children has reached an "all-time high", with at least 462,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition - a drastic increase of about 200 percent since 2014.

In a report published on Monday, UNICEF said at least one child dies every 10 minutes because of malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory-tract infections."

How Israel takes Palestinian land

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."

Continue reading here.

Olive groves of the village of Salem on both sides of the bypass road to Elon Moreh, Palestinians are not…

Canada's Oscar Schindler?

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…

Trump's attack on Freedom of the Press

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…

Pretence vanquished. US will show it's true position

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…

Now the Americans can know how the Chileans felt

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 …

Retire? Who me?

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.…

Shamefully "forgetting" history...

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…

The Mediterranean refugees. All those people.....

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......

Trump. Man or Madman of the Year

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…

Syrian war: We can't say we didn't know

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…

Shredding Trump, Romney and Gore

Andrew Rosenthal, in an op-ed piece "Donald Trump’s Big Idea: Don’t Blame Me" on The New York Times, doesn't spare Trump, Romney and Al Gore from totally justified trenchant criticism......

"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.


And this man is advising Trump?

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…

Speak up Donald....or at least tweet!

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…

A "Muslim Register"

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…

Donald T: First seduced..... then betrayed!

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 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 figures speak for themselves

The figures tell one all - as this graphic from TheWall Street Journal shows......

Snooping..... at its worst

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…

Dire warning of effects of climate change

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…