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Showing posts from August, 2011

Take that Dick!

Ouch.....Robert Sheer, writing on truthdig, in "Deceit of Shakespearean Proportions", says it loud and clear what he thinks of Dick Cheney.

"Behold this unctuous knave, a disgrace to his nation as few before him, yet boasting unvarnished virtue. The deceit of Dick Cheney is indeed of Shakespearean proportions, as evidenced in his new memoir. For the former vice president, lying comes so easily that one must assume he takes the pursuit of truth to be nothing more than a reckless indulgence.

Here is a man who, more than anyone else in the Bush administration, trafficked in the campaign of deceit that caused tens of thousands to die, wasted trillions of dollars in resources and indelibly sullied the legacy of this nation through the practice of torture, which Cheney defends to this day. Still this villain claims that, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the horrid methods he endorsed were a necessary response to the threat of Osama bin Laden. How convenient to…

International Day of the Disappeared

August 30th has been declared by the United Nations as the International Day of the Disappeared.

The "Day" came about as a result of the many who disappeared in South America, notably Chile and Argentina

"As the world marks International Day of the Disappeared today, Reporters Without Borders notes that many countries are still violating international law on this matter, including the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 2006.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the universal ratification of this convention, which has so far been signed by 91 countries and ratified by 29. Combating enforced disappearance is vital in the struggle against dictatorships and arbitrary rule.

Enforced disappearance includes both secret imprisonment and secret house arrest, in which the families of the victims are denied any information about their fate or where they are being held. It is a form of abduc…

The end of "mass affluance"

The American middle class, concludes a new study from the ad industry’s top trade journal, has essentially become irrelevant. In a deeply unequal America, if you don’t make $200,000, you don’t matter.

"A small plutocracy of wealthy elites drives a larger and larger share of total consumer spending and has outsize purchasing influence."

Read a full piece from Too Much, here, of how advertising is going to change....and the losers.

The finger is pointed fair and square at the FBI

The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?

Mother Jones has investigated:

"Over the past year, Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found:

Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. (For more on the details of those 508 cases, see our charts page and searchable database.)

Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.

With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the la…

Homeland Security hits the bulleye.....in spending untold billions

From Salon, a piece highlighting the sheer and utter waste of money thrown at so-called Homeland Security in the USA - and doubtlessly replicated around the world:

"The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:

"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is…

Saudi Arabia a "basket case" waiting to happen?

The vision of Saudi Arabia is one of lots of desert, sheiks in flowing robes, women largely behind veils and untold riches thanks to an endless supply of oil under all that sand.

Not so...according to a piece "The Kingdom of Magical Thinking" on FP.

"Widely assumed to be a fabulously wealthy welfare state, Saudi Arabia is in fact an economic basket case waiting to happen."

****

"But in a recent report striking for the candor of its unpalatable conclusions, Saudi investment bank Jadwa laid out the kingdom's inexorable fiscal challenge: how to balance soaring government spending, rapidly rising domestic oil demand, and a world oil market that gives little room for further revenue increases. And that was before the recent economic turmoil knocked $20 per barrel off oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's government spending, flat since the last oil boom in the 1970s, is now rising at 10 percent or more annually. And it will rise faster still: The House of Saud's surv…

It all depends on who you talk to

Credited to Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, Utah

How does your city rate?

Each year the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Index Survey is released. How the evaluation is made is not all that easy to determine, but cities certainly vie for the title of Best City to live in.

Melbourne, Australia, has vaulted Vancouver to become the best city in the world to live.

Country City Rank Overall Rating (100=ideal)

Australia Melbourne 1 97.5

Austria Vienna 2 97.4

Canada Vancouver 3 97.3

Canada Toronto 4 97.2

Canada Calgary 5 96.6

Australia Sydney 6 96.1

Finland Helsinki 7 96.0

Australia Perth 8 95.9

Australia Adelaide 8 95.9

New Zealand Auckland 10 95.7



Bottom 10

Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan 131 45.9

Iran Tehran 132 45.8

Cameroon Douala 133 44

Pakistan Karachi 134 40.9

Libya Tripoli 135 …

An Anonymous "report" from Damascus

Regrettably we have little on-the-ground reporting from what is happening in Syria. It would certainly seem that there is internal upheaval and that Assad's "people" have been ruthless in cracking down on protestors.

Today's London Review of Books' LRB Blog provides a rare insight into at least one scenario in Damascus:

"More than five months into Syria’s uprising, at least 2200 people have been killed and thousands more detained. The activists involved in the protest movement have insisted on non-violence and non-sectarianism but it’s not clear how much longer that can last. I recently accompanied a doctor and an activist as they made their rounds of Harasta, a small town on the northern outskirts of Damascus.

In one of the low-rise blocks of flats, a middle-aged man, a manual worker who made friends with the doctor during the uprising, angrily argued that he wanted to fight. The activist, a young woman, said they mustn’t. ‘I know, I know,’ the man said. …

It pays [handsomely] to have financial clout

"The first-ever audit of the U.S. Federal Reserve has revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations."

From IPS a report which ought to have heads reeling....and people wondering what the hell is going on!

"From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars… in emergency loans to the financial sector to address strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial system," the audit report states.

"The scale and nature of this assistance amounted to an unprecedented expansion of the Federal Reserve System’s traditional role as lender-of-last-resort to depository institutions," according to the report.

The report notes that all the short-term, emergency loans were repaid, or are expected to be repaid.

The emergency loans included eight broad-based programmes, a…

Israel shows it's ugly side...yet again!

"There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel's separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel's arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem concluded that, "the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented".

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles bu…

Fear, Inc.

A revelation which not only deserves more coverage, and scrutiny, but concern in what it is fomenting.

Darth Vader [aka Dick Cheney] reveals even more about himself

Even his appearance makes some people cringe. The man looks positively creepy - and his "politics" are simply awful and downright dangerous. A book written by him, together with his no-less charming daughter, is about to hit the bookshops. Maureen Dowd, writing in The New York Times, gives her assessment of Cheney's scribblings.

"Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues.

Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

His knife-in-her-teeth daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, helped write the book. The second most famous Liz & Dick combo do such an excellent job of cherry-picking the facts, it makes the cherry-picking on the Iraq war intelligence seem picayune.

Cheney may no longer have a pulse, but his blood quickens at the thought of other countries he could have a…

The fruits [Apples] of Steve Jobs' labours

The first incarnation of an Apple in 1976......

Steve & Co. have sure come a long way!

Kafka alive and well at the US State Dept.

One might have thought that post the start of the WikiLeaks leaks, and the revelations from them, politicians, and their public service minions, might have become at least a tad more savvy. No such luck, as Glenn Greenwald reveals in his latest piece "Secrecy, leaks, and the real criminals" in Salon.

"Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government's torture program. He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA's interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror. He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret and others that have been publicly available for years, including …

Think again about a withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014

If you thought, or perhaps were misled by what politicians have been saying, that there would be a US withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014, think again. Recalibrate your think to a long haul presence until 2024.

"America and Afghanistan are close to signing a strategic pact which would allow thousands of United States troops to remain in the country until at least 2024, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The agreement would allow not only military trainers to stay to build up the Afghan army and police, but also American special forces soldiers and air power to remain.

The prospect of such a deal has already been met with anger among Afghanistan’s neighbours including, publicly, Iran and, privately, Pakistan.

It also risks being rejected by the Taliban and derailing any attempt to coax them to the negotiating table, according to one senior member of Hamid Karzai’s peace council.

A withdrawal of American troops has already begun following an agreement to hand over security for the co…

Getting reporting right

Yet again FAIR highlights how The New York Times has been wanting in reporting something, especially where it involves Israel.

"The coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza is following some predictable patterns. The New York Times has a headline today (8/26/11), "Israeli Strikes in Retaliation Kill Nine Gazans." Readers should ask: Retaliation for what?

It's widely understood that this violence stems from the attack last week in the southern Israeli town of Eilat. As the Times puts it: "The recent round of violence started a week ago, with a terrorist attack on southern Israel in which eight Israelis were killed."

The real question, though, is who committed these acts. The Times says:

Israeli officials said the perpetrators and planners of the terrorist attack were originally from Gaza, and Israel has retaliated with strikes that have killed at least 23 Palestinians. Gazan officials say they know nothing about the source of the attack.

That's a massive …

Libya headed for Iraq Mark II?

Veteran journalist Robert Fisk, writing in "History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh" in The Independent, predicts that the West is headed for Iraq Mark II in what is happening in Libya - despite Gaddafi's days there seemingly numbered.

"Doomed always to fight the last war, we are recommitting the same old sin in Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi vanishes after promising to fight to the death. Isn't that just what Saddam Hussein did? And of course, when Saddam disappeared and US troops suffered the very first losses from the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, we were told – by the US proconsul Paul Bremer, the generals, diplomats and the decaying television "experts" – that the gunmen of the resistance were "die-hards", "dead-enders" who didn't realise that the war was over. And if Gaddafi and his egg-headed son remain at large – and if the violence does not end – how soon will we be introduced once more to the "dead-enders…

Looks like they [Wall St] will simply walk away unscathed.......

Indefensible is the only word for it! It looks like Wall St. won't need to be concerned about any repercussions from its critical and major role in the 2008 GFC.

"They will get away with it, at least in this life. “They” are the Wall Street usurers, people of a sort condemned in Scripture, who have brought more misery to this nation than we have known since the Great Depression. “They” will not suffer for their crimes because they have a majority ownership position in our political system. That is the meaning of the banking plea bargain that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to negotiate with the titans of the financial world.

It is a sellout deal that, in return for a pittance of compensation by banks to ripped-off mortgage holders, would grant the banks blanket immunity from any prosecution. That is intended to short-circuit investigations by a score of aggressive state officials, inquiries that offer the public a last best hope to get …

A giant of a man

MPS is an Apple tragic! With that declaration out of the way, the news of Steve Job's retirement as CEO of Apple - not as Chairman - has swept around the world.

By all accounts the man is more than an astute, clever businessman. Visionary is a word which comes to mind. Think too of the impact Apple products have had on everyone's life, be they Apple users or not.

"When Steve Jobs resigned as the chief executive of Apple on Wednesday, his note to the public and the Apple board was short and classy. The gist was this: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

As you can imagine, this news is rocking the world — and not just the tech world. Mr. Jobs, after all, has almost single-handedly reshaped a stunning range of industries: music, TV, movies, software, cellphones, and cloud computing. The products he’s shepherded …

Did 9/11 teach the US anything?

What happened on 9/11, as it has come to be known, was downright awful and unpardonable. But as the 10the anniversary of the day approaches Dr. Paul Craig Roberts - who was appointed by President Reagan Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and confirmed by the US Senate - raises the question whether America has learned anything from the events of that day.

"In a few days it will be the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. How well has the US government’s official account of the event held up over the decade?

Not very well. The chairman, vice chairman, and senior legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission wrote books partially disassociating themselves from the commission’s report. They said that the Bush administration put obstacles in their path, that information was withheld from them, that President Bush agreed to testify only if he was chaperoned by Vice President Cheney and neither were put under oath, that Pentagon and FAA officials lied to the commission and that the…

Australia's shame

On the very day it was revealed that there are 12 million displaced persons in the world, these figures just out in Australia detail the situation in which asylum seekers to that country find themselves:

5,880 people were in detention by the end of June this year.
991 children were in detention on June 30 (including 513 in community detention).
316 days in detention is the average time it takes from arrival to receiving a visa.
240% increase in reported medical conditions including self-harm, hunger-strikes and suicide.
722 million dollars is how much the policy cost taxpayers in the last financial year.

A shocking indictment on the Government and people of the land Down Under.



Gaddafi was "our" friend just 2 years ago....with an offer of US military hardware

Remember John McCain, the US senator who ran against Obama in 2008? He continues a senator.

Oh, how cruel looking back can be. Leave aside all those sickening photos a few years ago of chameleon UK PM Tony Blair embracing Gaddafi, WikiLeaks reveals that McCain, and some of his cohorts, just 2 years ago offered US military hardware to the Libyian dictator. The Raw Story reveals the background.

"Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) promised to help former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi obtain U.S. military hardware as one of the United States' partners in the war on terror, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released Wednesday by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The meeting, which took place just over a year ago on Aug. 14, 2009, included other influential Americans, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Susan Collins (R-SC) and Senate Armed Services Committee staffer Richard Fontaine, the document explains.

McCain opened the meeting by characterizing …

As racial inequality deepens, so does the number of children living in poverty

The image of America for those outside the country is one of wealth and well-being. And comparatively for those in poor countries, like some in Africa or South America, that is probably the case. However, on closer examination Americans suffer wide-spread poverty, even if it is so-called rich nation. Racial inequality has not helped either. To think that some 33 million children in the US live in poverty is a disgrace.

"Today, one in five U.S. kids are living in poverty, says a new report on how kids are faring in the recession. Everything about the foreclosure crisis and recession and the attack on the public safety net that has made the last few years difficult for U.S. adults has also made things tough for U.S. children. But for kids of color, the numbers are much worse.

More than one in three black kids—a full 36 percent of black youth—live in poverty and 31 percent of Latino kids lives in poverty. And for many of the indicators of child welfare that the Annie E. Case…

And you want this man [Glenn Beck], of all people, to support you?

There are many who consider Glenn Beck, one-time commentator on Fox News, with considerable contempt and loathing. However, there are many who embrace his views. Strangely, even some Jews in Israel. Perhaps no wonder if you are an Israeli from the far Right, but is it in the interests of Israelis generally, or Jews overall, to give Beck any sort of credence?

From Haaretz:

"Israel's international standing and relationship with Jewish-Americans is threatened as Israel is increasingly linked to right-wing political agendas in the United States. This situation has been exacerbated as controversial American broadcaster Glenn Beck has tried to remake himself into Israel's champion. Beck, who is currently in Israel to lead his "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem, has become a marginal and toxic figure in the United States. So much so that Fox News ended his daily show earlier this year.

Beck has used his media platforms to promote secular anti-Semitic conspir…

Two sides of Gaza........

There is no doubting that the majority of people in Gaza are doing it very hard - to say the least. However, as this piece in Haaretz explains there are some who are doing quite well. A new rising middle class. That must, perforce, have consequences for the iron-fisted "rule" of Hamas.

"A budding middle class in the impoverished Gaza Strip is flaunting its wealth, sipping coffee at gleaming new cafes, shopping for shoes at the new tiny shopping malls, and fueling perhaps the most acrimonious grass roots resentment yet toward the ruling Hamas movement.

This middle class, which has become visible at the same time as a mini-construction boom in this blockaded territory, is celebrating its weddings in opulent halls and vacationing in newly built beach bungalows. That level of consumption may be modest by Western standards, but it's in startling contrast to the grinding poverty of most Gazans, who rely on UN food handouts to get by.


What do you think about this artic…

Knock, knock! Anyone out there in the world taking notice let alone doing something about it?

The New York Times reports:

"Hundreds of Turkish airstrikes and artillery assaults over the last week have killed at least 100 Kurdish separatists and injured more than 80, an army statement said Tuesday.

The airstrikes, aimed at militant bases, focused on the mountainous Qandil, Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan, Zap and Metina regions, the statement posted on the military headquarters’ Web site said.

The Turkish military said its operations would continue."

It was a simple and short news item.

Jeff Goldberg writing in "Turkey Kills Dozens of Kurds, World Shrugs" in The Atlantic raises something to consider......

"I'd organize a flotilla in support of the Kurds, but I'm afraid no one would join. Perhaps the world believes the Turkish military when it claims that only Kurdish rebels have been killed. Of course, there's this bit of information to suggest that Turkey's surgical operation isn't so surgical:

Turkish authorities have not responded to repor…

Whither Libya after Gaddafi

The media is full of news asserting the end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya. It seems a tad premature to break out the champagne just yet! Whenever the dictator's reign does come to an end, what has been exercising the minds of some is what happens then?

From The New Yorker's piece "Enigmas and Lies in Libya":

"The workings of the Qaddafi machine are shrouded in seven veils of obfuscation, and it is unlikely we will ever get the full story about what has gone on there, insofar as such a story is even knowable. Saying what will happen is an even dicier exercise; those who cannot know the past are destined to befuddlement, though things are looking pretty grim for the regime.

You did not have to be in Libya for very long to discover that Qaddafi was friendless; even the people on his payroll hated him. One of those former employees recently said to me in genuine bewilderment, “Who the hell are these people who are fighting for him?” The rebels have continued to …

Guilty until proven innocent

Yasmeen El Khoudary is a freelance writer based in Gaza, occupied Palestine. She graduated from the American University in Cairo with a BA in Political Science, and works now as a self-employed writer and researcher.

Her piece onAlJazeeraought to be read by all-fair minded people as a call to view events in Gaza, and how Israel deals with the 1.5 million people trapped in the tiny piece of land - imprisoned is probably more accurate - as a warning that the situation there cannot continue indefinitely.

"The mini war that Israel waged on Gaza following the turmoil in South Israel is just another perfect example of how Gaza is the Middle East's "Biggest Loser." Caught in a thorny network composed of selfish interests and different agendas, the 1.5 million people of Gaza are indeed the biggest losers when it comes to just about anything in the Middle East.

Our destiny does not lie within our hands. We do not have any control over even the smallest aspects of our lives. We…

Obama on a slippery slope......downwards

The voices are getting louder! The populace is unhappy with Obama - and perhaps with more than a degree of justification.

Three op-pieces, form different quarters, would seem to reflect the thinking in America. Of course, the opinion polls are excoriating Obama.

From The Daily Beast:

"With a stinging budget defeat behind them and unemployment in the black community soaring to 16 percent, members of the Congressional Black Caucus say they’re done waiting for Barack Obama to fight their battles for them.

Instead, the 43 African-American lawmakers say they’re taking matters into their own hands and will carry the fight to Tea Party Republicans, whom they blame for Obama’s latest lurch to the right.
“The Tea Party discovered something. That is if they organize, if they talk loud enough, if they threaten, if they register to vote and elect a few people, they can take over the Congress of the United States,” said Rep. Maxine Waters. “They called our bluff and we blinked. We should …

Let's just hope that it doesn't come to pass........

Credited to R.J. Matson, NY, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Roll Call

Unsocial social networking

More and more governments want to step in and inhibit freedom of movement and speech - and the inter-action between people. Witness recent events as highlighted in this piece from The Observer in the UK.

"After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and this summer's looting in England, there is no longer any doubt about the speed with which large crowds can be mobilised on to the streets. As flash-mobbing morphs into flash-robbing, the attention of British authorities is turning to the mobile phones and social media that empower everything from benign groups dancing in railway stations to the vandalism of entire high streets.

During the riots, two London MPs called for a BlackBerry Messenger curfew, proposing a 6pm to 6am shutdown of the service being used by gangs to organise looting. It was not implemented but in the aftermath, a review of police powers, including those to intervene in mobile communications, was announced. Theresa May is to meet Twitter, Facebook and Bl…

As if Assad cares a jot and tittle what Obama says!

Obama calls for President Assad, of Syria, to step aside. Yes, terrible, terrible things are happening in Syria. But it is hard top believe that someone like Assad will heed Obama's demand. As Robert Fisk points out in his latest piece "It's his fast-disappearing billions that will worry Assad, not words from Washington" for The Independent, Assad has more pressing things to concern himself with - his substantial horde of money.

"Obama roars. World trembles. If only.

Obama says Assad must "step aside". Do we really think Damascus trembles? Or is going to? Indeed, the titan of the White House only dared to go this far after condemnation of Bashar al-Assad by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the EU and Uncle Tom Cobley and all (except, of course, Israel – another story). The terrible triplets – Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel – did their mimicking act a few minutes later.

But truly, are new sanctions against Assa…

If that isn't unethical it's hard to know what is

The facts speak for themselves. The "hand" of Wall St., and especially those people at Goldman Sachs - remember, the ones who gave "shitty advice" to their clients before the GFC - at play yet again!

"No matter how bad you think the Republicans are, they can always surprise you by being even worse. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over regulatory affairs, including of the financial services sector of the economy. He has actually hired a former Goldman Sachs vice-president to work on his staff. That, by itself, would be worrisome. But the man is actually working under an assumed name. When he worked at Goldman Sachs he was known as Peter Simonyi. But, as he was leaving Goldman Sachs in 2009, he adopted his mother's maiden name. Why would someone do that? Why would a grown man change his name?

Initially, he went to work for the law/lobbying firm Brickfield Burchette Rit…

The increasing creep of surveillance

In his latest op-ed piece "A prime aim of the growing Surveillance State" for Salon, Glenn Greenwald highlights the increasing threat to us all stemming from governments, and others, surveillance.

"This is the point I emphasize whenever I talk about why topics such as the sprawling Surveillance State and the attempted criminalization of WikiLeaks and whistleblowing are so vital. The free flow of information and communications enabled by new technologies -- as protest movements in the Middle East and a wave of serious leaks over the last year have demonstrated -- is a uniquely potent weapon in challenging entrenched government power and other powerful factions. And that is precisely why those in power -- those devoted to preservation of the prevailing social order -- are so increasingly fixated on seizing control of it and snuffing out its potential for subverting that order: they are well aware of, and are petrified by, its power, and want to ensure that the ability to…

An Arab Spring coming to India?

India is a country hard to overlook, let alone ignore. After China it has the largest population in the world. And, unlike China, India is a democratic country.

Troubles are brewing in India because of the widespread corruption which is almost a way of life in the country. It is even suggested that India could face its own Arab Spring movement.

"An anti-corruption movement led by a feisty 74-year-old social activist is snowballing into one of the biggest challenges in decades for the ruling Congress party and if not contained risks sparking India's own version of an Arab Spring revolt.

While no one is expecting an Egypt-like overthrow in the world's biggest democracy, a galvanized and frustrated middle class and the mushrooming of social networking sites combined with an aggressive private media may be transforming India's political landscape.

Anna Hazare has quickly become a 21st century Mahatma Gandhi inspiration for millions of Indians fed up with rampant co…

George W Obama?

No comment called for.....any real differences between George Bush and Barack Obama? From TomDispatch:

"Those first acts of that first shining full day in the Oval Office are now so forgotten, but on January 21, 2009, among other things, Barack Obama promised to return America to “the high moral ground,” and then signed a straightforward executive order “requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year.” It was an open-and-shut case, so to speak, part of what CNN called “a clean break from the Bush administration.” On that same day, as part of that same break, the president signed an executive order and two presidential memoranda hailing a “new era of openness,” of sunshine and transparency in government. As the president put it, "Every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known."

Of course, nothing could have been more Bu…