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Showing posts from January, 2010

Not an Apple for the Teacher!

Credited to Cameron [Cam] Cardow

Smothering America's political "system"

Johann Hari, who usually writes for Britain's The Independent, writing in "This Corruption in Washington is Smothering America's Future" for The Huffington Post, posits that the recent decision of the US Supreme Court allowing corporations to run and pay for political adverts will be disastrous for the political "system" in the US. As he says, it is already bad enough having all those lobbyists crawling all over the place in Washington.

He gives but one example what lobbying - just think what will happen with wealthy corporation funding extensive political advertisement! - can do to corrupt the system.

"To understand the impact this will have, you need to grasp how smaller sums of corporate money have already hijacked American democracy. Let's look at a case that is simple and immediate and every American can see in front of them: healthcare. The United States is the only major industrialized democracy that doesn't guarantee healthcare f…

Is it all the [unbiased] News Fit to Print?

The NY Times prides itself on its standards as a newspaper of repute.

It's coverage isn't always that great but as newspapers go it is in many respects above the rest. Certainly it leaves most US newspapers in the dust! But.....as FAIR reports there is more than a slight issue in relation to the Times' Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Ethan Bonner.

"The New York Times refuses to confirm or deny a report that its Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, has a child who is an enlisted member of the Israeli Defense Force--even though such a relationship would pose a serious conflict of interest.

The Electronic Intifada website (1/25/10), following a tip, asked Bronner whether it was true that he had a son in the IDF. EI got a reply from Times foreign editor Susan Chira:

'Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner's son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At the Times, we have found Mr. Bronner's coverage to …

You gotta believe this......

Hard to believe, but yes, a school district in southern California has banned the DICTIONARY!

Abbey Zimet reports in "Can You Spell c-e-n-s-o-r-s-h-i-p?" on CommonDreams:

"Picking up where "Catcher In the Rye" left off, a southern California school district has banned Merriam-Webster's Dictionary after some poor, no-doubt-now-traumatized kid stumbled on the term "oral sex" - defined, aptly if clinically, as "oral stimulation of the genitals." Menifee will now form a committee to plow through its 470,000-plus entries and decide if all dictionaries containing all sexual definitions should be banned. While they're at it, we hope they check out the meanings of "repression," "ignorance," "fear," and "open marketplace of ideas." If they want to take a break from their virtuous labors, they could help out the homeless in a nearby town who just lost their only impromptu shelter, set up at a church where…

Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward

Whatever what one might otherwise say, the Chilcot inquiry presently underway in Britain [looking into Britain's involvement in the Iraq War] has shed light on something we rarely see - how the Sir Humphrey syndrome of the public service and Cabinet ministers "works".

George Monbiot, writing in The Guardian'sComment is freeis more than blunt when he urges that former British PM Tony Blair ought to be arrested.

"The only question that counts is the one that the Chilcot inquiry won't address: was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression".

And:

"So today I am launching a website – www.arrestblair.org – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of t…

Wanna join the ranks with an iPad?

Apple has done it again! Or has it? Whatever, the newest device released [or at least revealed] by Apple today will have a ripple effect no matter what.

From The Slate'sThe Big Money:

"They should have called it the iDisrupt. Steve Jobs’ big reveal today was more impressive for its ripple effects than for the device itself. This computer is the climax of a decade’s worth of technological change. For the last 10 years, industries have been coping with how the Internet and mobile computing are changing their business models. And now we have a computer that does not just promise to drive a final stake in the way things once were, but offers a new path forward. Steve Jobs has never been more of a beneficent dictator.

That’s not to say that this thing is perfect. In fact, it’s this writer’s opinion that the device is a moderate disappointment. It’s missing a webcam, Adobe (ADBE) Flash support, non-AT&T (ATT) compatibility, the ability to run two apps at the same time, and a…

Authorised to kill Americans - by no lesser person than the Pres!

Amazing!

Read the latest piece "Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens" from Glenn Greenwald on Salon - and be more than astonished:

"The Washington Post's Dana Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people." That's no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.

But buried in Priest's article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret "hit list" of …

Obama: Time Running Out

Bob Herbert in his latest piece "Obama’s Credibility Gap" in The NY Times does more than some straight-talking about where Obama stands at the present time:

"Americans are still looking for the answer, and if they don’t get it soon — or if they don’t like the answer — the president’s current political problems will look like a walk in the park.

Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map: the anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist.

Mr. Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted. He is creating a credibility gap for himself, and if it wi…

Terror at firsthand

Paul McGeough, journalist and author of the excellent book "Kill Khalid" [a must read by the way] writing for the Fairfax press in Australia reports in "Suriving Terror" on being caught up in the bombings in Baghdad the other day.

"You'll hear on arriving in Baghdad these days that there's the odd bombing, but the Iraqi capital is safer than it has been for years. Signs of this new sense of security are everywhere.

They are misleading".

And:

"About 3.40pm, I was in my eighth-floor room at the Hamra Hotel in the Jadriya district, when an ominous, dull thud drew me to a window - a thin plume of smoke was rising above the cheek-by-jowl towers of the Sheraton and Palestine hotels on the banks of the Tigris River, about seven kilometres to the north-east.

Putting it down to the same-old, same-old of a violent city from which I had been absent for a couple of years, I returned to my desk. But minutes later the entire Hamra moved on its foundations as a …

Time to move on George!

George Mitchell, the US President's Middle East special envoy, has been shuttling back and forth for almost a year now attempting to get something underway [even just talks] in the on-going Palestinian-Israel conflict, let alone having achieved anything at all. He, as Obama, has been trumped at at every turn, principally by Israel's actions, mostly defiant to America's position and in breach of international law.

Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard - and author of "The Israel Lobby" - in a piece "Time for George Mitchell to reign"on his blog on FP well worth reading for its analysis says it's time for Mitchell to move on:

"Why should Mitchell step down now? Because he is wasting his time. The administration's early commitment to an Israeli-Palestinian peace was either a naïve bit of bravado or a cynical charade, and if Mitchell continues to pile up frequent-flyer miles in a fruitless effort, he will be remembered…

Iraq: Some legacy! Cancer and lack of water

We don't read or see all that much about Iraq anymore - the "news" has shifted elsewhere - but the invasion of Iraq and all the years of fighting have left more than a disturbing legacy. Cancer!

The Guardian reports in "Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds":

"More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels or radiation and dioxins, with three decades of war and neglect having left environmental ruin in large parts of the country, an official Iraqi study has found.

Areas in and near Iraq's largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, whi…

Can't let aid to the Haitians stand in the way of Hilary's pantsuit

Jesse Hagopian, a teacher from Seattle, was in Haiti with his wife (who works on HIV education in the country) and one-year-old son when the earthquake hit.

He writes on CommonDreams in "Occupation in Humanitarian Clothing":

"Everything you need to know about the U.S. aid effort to assist Haiti in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake can be summed up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's touchdown in Port-Au-Prince on Saturday, January 16: they shut down the airport for three hours surrounding her arrival for "security" reasons, which meant that no aid flights could come in during those critical hours.

If there was one day when the Haitian people needed aid to flow all day long, last Saturday was it because the people trapped under the rubble on Tuesday evening couldn't survive much beyond that without water.

Defenders of Clinton will say that her disimpassioned, monotone, photo-op speech was needed in Haiti to draw attention to the plight of the Hai…

The Pope says you have to do it......blog!

"Pope Benedict XVI has a message for priests of the Catholic Church: they must proclaim the gospel by not only having a website, but by blogging and utilizing new web communication tools.

The 265th Pope of the Catholic Church has been an unexpectedly strong proponent of social media. Last year, he launched a YouTube channel, and six months ago, he released Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. It looks like that he hopes Catholic priests will follow his digital example.

In his message, the Pope acknowledges that priests face new challenges due to cultural shifts that have brought the conversation online. Thus, priests must do more than just take the Word of the gospel to the web."

From Mashable, The Social Media Guide. Continue reading here......

Iran's "human rights disaster"

No surprise that Human Rights Watch has, in a Report just released, condemned Iran for its violation of human rights post the disputed presidential elections last June.

Reuters reports:

"Iran witnessed its worst internal strife since the Islamic revolution in 1979 when supporters of opposition candidates who lost to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the streets, leading to violent clashes with security forces.

Thousands were detained. Most have been freed but more than 80 were jailed for up to 15 years and five were sentenced to death.

The Human Rights Watch report said the post-election crackdown had turned into "a human rights disaster."

"The Iranian judiciary's show trials of hundreds of demonstrators and dissidents ranks among the most absurd displays of prosecutorial abuse I have witnessed in recent memory," HRW's Middle East Director Joe Stork said at a news conference in Dubai to announce its annual report.

The Human Rights Watch report…

That obscene Wall......and its effects

The Israelis call it a "fence". It's a joke, of course, for the Wall which the Israelis have built, at huge cost, is even higher, more extensive and sturdier than the one the East Germans built in the 1960's.

Mondoweiss - a site always worthwhile accessing if one wants to stay across what is happening in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank - reports:

"We are excited to share an excerpt from A Wall in Palestine, a new book by French journalist Rene Backmann. Backmann is a foreign affairs columnist for Le Nouvel Observateur.

The book tells the story of the Separation Wall in the West Bank, its history and devastating impact. The book puts a human face on this massive project, and shows what it has meant for people’s day to day lives. The excerpt below tells one of those stories. Terry Boullata is the principal of an elementary school in Abu Dis, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem that has been bisected by the Wall. The excerpt discusses how the Wall has impacted the scho…

'We Can Never Have Complete Air Travel Security'

The security at airports now being engaged in borders on the ludicrous. It reflects an over-reaction to the obvious threat caused by the recent so-called underpants bomber. MPS can testify to having recently undergone an absurd pat-down and security check at Calgary Airport en-route to the USA. It took minutes.....but did they pick up a wallet in a security pouch hanging from MPSs' belt? No!

Spiegel OnLine International addresses the issue of airport security in the light of an alarm at Munich Airport the other day. The general consensus seems to conclude that one can never have compete air travel security.

The piece quotes from the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung:

"What has been happening in international airports for years is nothing but window-dressing. Pure symbolism. The misrepresentation of false security. People take off their shoes and reveal the holes in their socks. They give up their nail files and present the see-through plastic bag with the potion ag…

The Pillars of Afghanistan’s Economy: Drugs and bribes

There is an element of ho-hum with regard to the news about Afghanistan. Obama has committed more military, there are some issues about the Karzai Government reported from time to time, but otherwise things seem to plugging along in the war torn country. Obviously news like that related to the Haiti earthwork ensures that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and military actions in Pakistan and Yemen are relegated to the back of the news, if reported at all.

Ken Silverstein, writing in Harper's Magazine, reports on what a UN Report has thrown up:

"Poverty and violence are usually portrayed as the biggest challenges confronting Afghanistan. But ask the Afghans themselves, and you get a different answer: corruption is their biggest worry. As revealed in this new UNODC report, for an overwhelming 59% of the population the daily experience of public dishonesty is a bigger concern than insecurity (54%) and unemployment (52%).

The report says that bribery and drugs generate nearly $…

No, they still don't get it......but, did they ever?

"How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.

The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many"

writes Bob Herbert in his latest op-ed piece for The NY Times. He is right. All the signs aren't all that good, yet the Obama fiddles whilst Rome [er, America] burns!

"A new study from the Brookings Institution tells us that the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. is in the suburbs. You don’t hear about this from the politicians who are always so anxious to tell you, in between fund-…

Hey! Don't click that photograph so quickly

In the age of the "fight against terrorism" - which seems to be all pervasive and ever-intrusive in our daily lives - another dimension to the idiocy of viewing just about everything from an anti-terrorist perspective.

CommonDreams reports in "Recording History":

"Following a series of high-profile detentions under new British anti-terrorist legislation, including the arrest of an architectural photographer and the stop-and-search of a BBC photographer, the group I'm a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! is holding a mass action Saturday in London to protest the abuse of terror laws.

"Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer...We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it."

Covering Haiti: When the Media Is the Disaster

TomDispatch makes the valid point that the resources which the US media has thrown into the Haiti disaster borders on the "obscene" - and goes on to say that those very people reporting from the devastated nation would have done well to have read Rebecca Solnit's piece on his blog site.

"Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.

I’m talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from …

World Health Agencies Condemn Israeli Blockade of Gaza (Again); Obama's Biggest Mideast Failure

Too true.!....are the only words in response to this clearly argued case as put by Juan Cole in his piece "World Health Agencies Condemn Israeli Blockade of Gaza (Again); Obama's Biggest Mideast Failure" on his Informed Comment blog:

"When a relief plane for the Physicians without Borders isn't allowed to land by US military authorities at the airport in Port-au-Prince, there is an outcry.

But Israeli military authorities will not allow any relief planes at all to land in the Gaza Strip (the Israelis destroyed Gaza's airport in 2001).

We cheer when a Haitian child is rescued from the rubble, but ignore the thousands of Gazan children who are suffering malnutrition and being buried by Israeli policy, a policy that is a war crime. I am of course not the only to be struck by this contrast: see also Phil Weiss and others quoted at his essential site.

On Wednesday, 80 international aid groups called upon Israel to change its policy of blockading civilians in Gaza, be…

Hope this isn't correct!

Credit to Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

Fisk: Another war looming

Robert Fisk, veteran of reporting from the Middle East - he has lived in Beirut upwards of 30 years - writing his latest piece for The Independent foreshadows what he sees as yet another war coming between Israel and Lebanon:

"It looks like a hop, skip and a jump. There's the first electrified fence, then the dirt strip to identify footprints, then the tarmac road, then one more electrified fence, and then acres and acres of trees. Orchards rather than tanks. Galilee spreads beyond, soft and moist and dark green in the winter afternoon – a peaceful Israel, you might think. And a peaceful Lebanon to the north, tobacco plantations amid the stony hills, just an occasional UN armoured vehicle to keep you on your toes. "Major Pardin says you cannot take pictures," a Malaysian UN soldier tells me. Then a second one says the same. Then along comes a Lebanese army intelligence officer and stares at our papers. "OK, you have permission," he declares, and I snap away…

More on those deaths at Gitmo

That there ought to be an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the 3 Gitmo prisoners [referred in an earlier posting "More scandal at Gitmo" here on MPS] - remember, not charged with anything, just incarcerated - is beyond question. It goes without saying that how this is played out, especially in the Arab world, can only be seen as disastrous.

Kenneth Olberman discusses the case and interviews Scott Horton:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There are certain truths which cannot be denied

Anyone who follows current affairs and watches even the odd White House press conference, will be familiar with the seemingly crusty elderly lady, Helen Thomas, sitting in the front row of the press corp. She is actually the doyen of the Washington press corp. She also asks the hard questions....

Writing an op-ed piece "Accepting various truths" for timesunion.com she raises some home truths and facts which cannot be brushed under the carpet. The piece is reproduced here, in full, because it is worthy of being read in its entirety and full context:

"No one in the Obama administration is going to acknowledge that our foreign policy in the Middle East has alienated many Arabs.

The U.S. pro-Israel policy and our shocking neglect of the beleaguered Palestinians underlie almost every initiative or tactical tilt that comes out of Washington.

President Obama and his predecessors in the White House have scored domestic political points by embracing this world view. This is…

Post that electoral loss, where to now Mr President?

The victory by the GOP of the former Ted Kennedy Senate seat in the election just concluded will send commentators providing an analysis for days to come. The White House will surely have to sit up and take notice!

The Editor of The Nation in her Editors Cut has her say"

"Election results rarely have a single explanation.

Yet it's pretty clear that Scott Brown's special election win in a state that last sent a Republican to the Senate in 1978 is an indicator of the turbulent national political mood a year after Obama took office.

There is a generalized anti-establishment anger at loose in this country, reinforced by a White House team that has delivered for Wall Street but not enough for hurting communities. It is an anger also fueled by often savage right-wing anti-government attacks."

Read on here.

More scandal at Gitmo

Obama announced the closure of the infamous Gitmo within 12 months of his inauguration. That is now not going to happen. When remains an open question.

Meanwhile, The Independent reports in "Claims of US cover-up over Guantanamo deaths" - based on a lengthy report in Harper's Magazine - on another scandal involving Gitmo, this time, the alleged suicides of 3 prisoners. If one reads the way in which the US claimed the inmates died it beggars belief!

"Three inmates at Guantanamo Bay who, according to a report by the US Navy died after all committing suicide on the same day, in fact died from suffocation inflicted during interrogation sessions, a US magazine has claimed.

In its March edition, Harper's magazine accuses the US government of perpetrating a cover-up to conceal the true cause of the deaths of the three men – Salah Ahmed al-Salami, 37, a Yemeni, and two Saudis, Talal al-Zahrani, 22, and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, 30 – who died in June 2006.

The maga…

Yet another by-product of the Haiti disaster - Trafficking of Children

As if Haiti wasn't confronted with enough woes and the suffering of its people, The Atlantic in a piece "Island of Lost Children" raises the troubling issue of what will doubtlessly become a trade in the trafficking of children now that many have lost their parents:

"In Haiti’s unstable post-quake atmosphere, at least one industry is poised to flourish. For those who buy and sell children for sex and cheap labor, Haiti is ripe with opportunity.

When the earthquake struck the impoverished island country last Tuesday afternoon, human traffickers suddenly gained access to a new population of displaced children. With parents dead, government offices demolished, and international aid organizations struggling to meet life-or-death demands, these kidnappers are in a unique position to snatch children with very little interference.

In today’s world, the twin causes of human slavery—poverty and vulnerability—increase exponentially after natural disasters. When the tsunami hit I…

Is Gaza on anyone's radar?

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Wright writes in a piece "Israel and Egypt continue to Squeeze the Lifeblood out of the People of Gaza" on Common Dreams:

"Two weeks ago, almost 2,000 internationals came to Egypt and Gaza in a massive show of civil society support for the people of Gaza. 1,362 persons representing 44 countries in the Gaza Freedom March and over 500 persons with the Viva Palestina Convoy let the people of Gaza know of their concern for the tragic consequences of the actions of their governments in support of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Yet, two weeks later, with the apparent approval of governments (United States, Eur…

Remembering Marthin Luther King

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the US. It is a public holiday - of sorts.

The Atlantic publishes a letter of Kings to mark the day:

"King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," published in The Atlantic as "The Negro Is Your Brother," was written in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. It stands as one of the classic documents of the civil-rights movement.

"While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer you…

Haiti: The US response wasn't all that speedy.....notwithstanding the hype

Greg Palast has been a trenchant critic of governments for many years now. His reporting and commentary is fearless - and seemingly always well researched.

His latest missile, on Information Clearing House, is directed against the US in its "response" to the crisis and devastation in Haiti. It wasn't all that great despite the hype, spin and PR from the President downwards.

"1.
Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama?

2.
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans.

3.
A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her …

Jack Straw’s secret warning to Tony Blair on Iraq

Anyone who watched events unfold before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 would have been across Tony Blair, then Britain's PM, rushing headlong into invading Iraq alongside his buddy George W.

The evidence is slowly seeping out that Blair was even warned about not going to war and that it could not be justified. Perhaps Blair, still seen by some as someone to listen to, will end up the war criminal that he, and people like Bush and Australia's PM Howard, clearly were.

The TimesOnLinereports:

"A “SECRET and personal” letter from Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, to Tony Blair reveals damning doubts at the heart of government about Blair’s plans for Iraq a year before war started.

The letter, a copy of which is published for the first time today, warned the prime minister that the case for military action in Iraq was of dubious legality and would be no guarantee of a better future for Iraq even if Saddam Hussein were removed.

It was sent 10 days before Blair met George …

Hate is a Growth Industry: The Right-wing Media React to Haiti

Read this piece "The right-wing media react to Haiti" from MediaMatters for America to gain an insight how the likes of Fox News [news?] and the conservative right wing of politics have reacted to the crisis in Haiti. It is hard to believe that - yes, anyoneanyone! - could give these sort of people any time. They live in a parallel universe, of sorts!

For example:

"Fox News Channel's highest-rated shows, for example, all but ignored the disaster, according to a new Media Matters study:

On January 13, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 -- The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck -- devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck's hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly's discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity's advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown's Senate campaign."

And:

"Limbaugh s…

George W. Obama

There is no doubting that Obama is getting a bad press and surveys show him as being seen as the least popular president in the first year of office. The "yes we can" man is seen as wanting on so many fronts that his credibility has been severely spiked.

Writing in Village Voices, Nat Hentoff, points out:

"Before President Obama, it was grimly accurate to write, as I often did in the Voice, that George W. Bush came into the presidency with no discernible background in constitutional civil liberties or any acquaintance with the Constitution itself. Accordingly, he turned the "war on terror" over to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—ardent believers that the Constitution presents grave obstacles in a time of global jihad.

But now, Bush's successor—who actually taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago—is continuing much of the Bush-Cheney parallel government and, in some cases, is going much further in disregarding our laws and the internation…

China not alone in net censorship

Rebecca MacKinnon is the co-founder of www.GlobalVoicesOnline and a former CNN Beijing bureau chief.

Writing in The Guardian in "Censorship is alive in the free world" [republished in The Age] she points out that whilst there is all the controversy about Google in China at the moment, that China is by means alone in net censorship. MPS can report that even this site was subjected to a Net Filter when visiting Syria a few weeks ago. The site was simply not be accessible.

"GOOGLE'S stand against Chinese censorship and surveillance will be rightly lauded by defenders of human rights. But when it comes to Google's vow not to ''do evil'' by its users, China is by no means the company's only headache. And we should remember that the Chinese are not the only ones putting pressure on Google in ways that are arguably harmful to freedom of expression.

According to the Open Net Initiative, the number of countries that censor the internet has go…

Going where others fear to tread

For anyone, Jewish or non-Jewish, in the MSM to criticise Israel is to invite the wrath of the very loud and vocal pro-Israel lobby. Jews will attract opprobrium and offensive epithets whilst non-Jews will be labelled anti-semitic or anti-Zionist.

It is therefore more than encouraging to see Andrew Sullivan - one of America's foremost and popular bloggers - on his The Daily Dish, go where others fear to tread:

"The Netanyahu government has all but declared war on the Obama administration and then openly disses a vital ally, Turkey. The slow cultural shifts in Israel - toward ever more arrogance, more fundamentalism, more Russian immigrant racism, contempt for the Muslim world, military adventurism, and the daily grinding of the Palestinians on the West Bank and pulverization and inhumane blockade of the people of Gaza ... well maybe some others can explain it.

All I can say is: it saddens me, as a longtime lover of the Jewish state. It does not represent the historic mainstre…

The naked truth!

Credit to Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com

Yes Virginia, those Wall St. bankers are "clueless"

Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman makes more than some valid, and critically important points about the US economy - and by implication the world-wide economy - in his latest op-ed piece "Bankers Without a Clue" for The New York Times.

"The official Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — the group that aims to hold a modern version of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, whose investigations set the stage for New Deal bank regulation — began taking testimony on Wednesday. In its first panel, the commission grilled four major financial-industry honchos. What did we learn?

Well, if you were hoping for a Perry Mason moment — a scene in which the witness blurts out: “Yes! I admit it! I did it! And I’m glad!” — the hearing was disappointing. What you got, instead, was witnesses blurting out: “Yes! I admit it! I’m clueless!”

O.K., not in so many words. But the bankers’ testimony showed a stunning failure, even now, to grasp the nature and extent of the current crisis. And that’s impor…

Yemen: Wrong Support, Wrong Message

As America seems to be opening another front on its war on terror, this time in Yemen - in other words, another war in addition to those already in Iraq, Afghanistan and partly in Pakistan - wiser heads are suggestion caution, not the least because of the impact in the wider Arab world.

McClatchy reports in "Obama aid to Yemen could risk backlash in Arab world":

"President Barack Obama's decision to boost U.S. aid to Yemen to help the small Arabian Peninsula country fight al Qaida risks tying the U.S. more closely to an autocratic ruler whose repression of economic and political grievances is strengthening the terrorists and pushing his impoverished nation toward breakup.

"Any association with the (Yemeni) regime will only confirm al Qaida's narrative, which is that America is only interested in maintaining corrupt and despotic rulers and is not interested in the fate of Arabs and Muslims," warned Bernard Haykel, a Princeton University professor.

The Stat…