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Showing posts from June, 2012

The real perils in getting the news to us

Whilst we sit down and watch our TV news bulletin or read the latest news in a newspaper or on line, the sobering fact is that journalist's lives are very often on the line. The Columbia Review of Journalism has the facts. With 72 journalists killed so far this year, 2012 is on pace to be the deadliest on record, the International Press Institute (IPI) announced here on Sunday.The media freedom organization’s executive director, Alison Bethel McKenzie, choked up and struggled to speak as she addressed the group’s annual conference.“From Somalia to Syria, the Philippines to Mexico, and Iraq to Pakistan, reporters are being brutally targeted for death in unparalleled numbers,” she said.The most lethal year so far in the 15 that IPI has been keeping records was 2009, when 110 journalists died. Last year was the second worst, with 102 deaths.Syria, where peaceful protests have turned into a violent civil war, has been the most dangerous country in 2012, with 20 professional and c…

Two very different messages

Seen today in Croatia: No. 1: On a T-shirt - "I don't need Google......My husband knows everything". make of that what you will..... and No. 2: The please service the room type sign to hang on the door handle outside the room with not just the mundane "Please make up the room" but rather "We went out to seize the day". A great sentiment, especially on vacation.

Greed, avarice......and plain dishonesty

The fact that Barclays Bank has been fined a tremendous sum for manipulating the market may be welcome news on one level, but no less important is to reflect on what has caused the conduct in the first place. And who is going to be held accountable? Op-ed piece from The Independent putting it all into some context. High testosterone, class privilege and a lack of morals are a dangerous combination indeed. Reading through emails sent by Barclays traders to each other bragging about manipulating the Libor rate made me cringe, because there was something deeply familiar about the macho language. "Done… for you big boy," wrote one. "Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I'm opening a bottle of Bollinger,'" boasted another.It was deeply familiar because I knew these people: or, rather, people like them. The homoerotic lingo, the Americanisms, the champagne; all that was missing was describing each other as "legends". Going to …

A calm which cannot last

The realists know the present situation cannot last, yet the world - be it the USA and its allies or the European Union - avert their gaze from the intolerable situation which continues to exist in the West Bank and Gaza. People can take so much, and if they have nothing to lose, why not take action, whatever the consequences, to put an end to harsh repression and "living" in a totally unacceptable situation. The Economist puts things into perspective. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, dismissed an elected government run by the Islamists of Hamas and decided to rule instead by decree, the Palestinian Authority (PA) that oversees the West Bank is being dangerously challenged from within. In Nablus, the first city where Mr Abbas chose to fill the security vacuum with his American-trained national-security battalions, turf wars have recently erupted between rival commanders, puncturing four years of calm. The walls of Jacob’s Well, a local church, a theatre an…

Climate change naysayers take note

Those who still live in their own bubble and confidently assert that climate change isn't happening, ought to sit up and take note of the raging bush fires in Colorado - and what the experts say has caused them. In a word....climate change! “What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, referring to raging wildfires in the US west, in a press briefing on Thursday. "It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster... This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."Oppenheimer, speaking alongside other scientists, argued that shorters winters with less snow, coupled with earlier Springs, and extreme summer heat -- all contributors for the fires burning in Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico -- were also conditions that he and his colleagues at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predic…

Nora Ephron: A fitting tribute

The death of Nora Ephron, at 71, is sad. Leaving aside her perhaps initial fame as the wife of Carl Bernstein - they divorced long ago - she carved a career out for herself and in her own way created many benchmarks. She certainly brought pleasure to many. This tribute, amongst many, in The IndependentIf you pieced together all the Nora Ephron lines that appeared on Twitter yesterday, you'd probably have the entire script for When Harry Met Sally. You'd certainly have a complete edition of her book I Feel Bad About My Neck. The author/scriptwriter/director, whose death was announced yesterday, was that quotable.I need not rehearse all of them here, but I must mention the exemplary "Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim". In those 11 words is the summation of why Ephron herself was such a heroine. She turned her life experiences into witty, insightful entertainment, but almost as a side-product of just living a witty, insightful life. Ephron wasn…

Good reason for Assange to be concerned

Whilst Ecuador deliberates whether or not to grant WikiLeaks' Julian Assange political asylum, the debate on whether Assange is really at any risk in going to Sweden continues. Informed punditry suggests that Assange would almost certainly whisked to the US - and we know what is likely to happen there should that eventuate. MediaLens has looked at the issue of Assange being where he is now and quotes one eminent lawyer's opinion. Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, explained the risks associated with extradition to Sweden:‘Sweden does not have bail. Now, these are on allegations of sex charges — allegations, no charges — and they’re to interrogate Julian Assange. But despite that, he would have been in prison in Sweden. At that point, our view is that there was a substantial chance that the U.S. would ask for his extradition to the United States.‘So here you have him walking the streets …

Pursuing a dangerous policy in Yemen

One might have thought - perhaps hoped is the operative word - that the US has learnt something over the years about becoming involved with foreign States, or their leaders, or actually taking on attacking them in one form or other. Even more troubling has been the propensity of Administration after Administration to ignore informed advice from those in the know - with almost inevitable disasterous results and consquences. Now,Yemen is in America's sights And, again, informed opionion warns of going down that path and that it is downright dangerous to do so. From CommonDreamsA panel discussion organised by the National Council on US-Arab Relations on Tuesday  gathered experts to discuss the US-Yemen relationship. The message from experts, according to reporting by Inter Press Service, was that current US policy is not only short-sighted, but extremely dangerous.A singular focus on defeating Al Qaede in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was not only counter-productive, expert…

Palestinian children in irons. UK to investigate

Not for the first time does MPS wonder what sort of country it is when Israel so flagrently allows what can only be described as barbaric and inhuman behaviour to be undertaken by, amongst others, its IDF. No one has seemingly challenged Israel's actions. However, perhaps it's gone a bridge too far - as The Independent reports. The Foreign Office revealed last night that it would be challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons.In the first investigation of its kind, a team of nine senior legal figures examined how Palestinians as young as 12 were treated when arrested. Their shocking report Children in Military Custody details claims that youngsters are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, have their wrists bound behind their backs, and are blindfolded and made to kneel or lie face down in military vehicl…

Iran: Perhaps they're not that crazy....

Nicholas D Kristof, op-ed contributor to The New York Times, takes off for Iran - with his kids in tow....

"When I decided to bring two of my kids with me on a reporting trip to Iran, the consensus was that I must be insane. And that someone should call Child Protective Services!

That anxiety reflects a view that Iran is the 21st century’s Crazy Country, a menace to civilization. That view also animates the hawks who believe that only a military option can stop Iran.

Look, I have no illusions about Iran. On my last trip here, in 2004, I was detained and accused of being a spy for Mossad or the C.I.A. I’ve talked to people who have been brutally tortured. I think that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity and that, if it were to deploy those weapons, this would be a huge and possibly fatal blow to global antiproliferation efforts.

But we need a dollop of humility and nuance, for Iran is a complex country where we’ve repeatedly stumbled badly. For starters, consider for a moment…

Blair caught out.......yet again!

Former British PM, Tony Blair, is once again found out and shown up for the terrible so-called politician he was.     The difference here is that he committed the UK to the Iraq War - with all that involved in human and material cost.   The Guardian reveals the background in this piece "Blair blocked Cabinet from hearing legal advice on Iraq".
"MPs demanded an emergency recall of the Chilcot inquiry last night after new revelations that Tony Blair blocked the Government's most senior lawyer from explaining to Cabinet the legality of the war in Iraq.

According to the newly published full version of Alastair Campbell's diaries, the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wanted to "put the reality" to cabinet ministers that there was a case against, as well as for, military action in March 2003. But, according to his former spin doctor, the then Prime Minister feared that the legal opinion was too "nuanced" and would allow the war's ministerial crit…

The state of play in US politics?

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

What Americans think.....

Take whatever comfort you think from this piece, from Information Clearing House, detailing what the views of Americans are on a range of topics.  One ought to say that there is reason to fear what Republicans think....
"Yes, it’s apparently true: 63% of Republicans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded it in 2003. That, according to a remarkable new survey on foreign policy attitudes of self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and independents that was noted by Dan Drezner in his blog today and released by the main researcher, Benjamin Valentino at Dartmouth College. The detailed poll (65 questions), which queried a total of 1056 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.18%, was conducted by YouGov from April 26 to May 2.

It covers quite a broad range of topics and regions, but I was predictably most interested in the questions about the Middle East, particularly Israel. There was only one question (Q46) which dealt directly …

Definitely #1 truthdigger

The timing could not be more appropriate.....as Julian Assange awaits a decision whether he will be allowed asylum in Ecuador.     truthdig has, this week, chosen Assange as its Truthdigger of the Week.
"Few people have so fully devoted their lives to exposing abuses of power as WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

As the newsstands, Internet columns and blogs have chronicled, Assange has been camping out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since Tuesday in an effort to gain political asylum and avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations. If he loses that bid, he could eventually be extradited to the United States, where it’s a virtual certainty that officials would prosecute him for his work with WikiLeaks. Through that organization, Assange has published thousands of sensitive U.S. government documents.

On the basis of one such document, it is understood that the Justice Department already has a sealed indictment on Assange. Experts assume the government woul…

An effective BDS

The Israelis, and its rabid supporters, hate BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) being ever-widely imposed around the world against products manufactured in the West Bank - and sold as Israeli products - or companies seen to be complicit in Israeli's illegal actions.    The concept emanates from the effective anti-apartheid BDS against the then South African Government many years back.   

BDS is non-violent whilst at the same time highlighting Israeli's actions.     The latest victim of BDS is Caterpillar.

"Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.

“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign. "It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of…

Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff

The headline to the piece (above), by George Monbiot, in The Guardian says it all....


"In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth".

This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability."

****

"As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us …

Grrrr! Those drat emails.....

It is near-enough impossible to avoid the iniquitous email.    Like it or not we are living with an "invasion" into our space and onto our time.    

"People keep claiming that email will die, that some new technology will replace it. But it lives on. And on. And on.

Sure, email can be a great thing. But it can steal our lives if we let it. From killing our personal time to screwing up our work patterns, here are some of the ways email can really mess us up.

1. Kills Work/Personal Time Balance

StrategyOne, a market research firm, asked Americans how they feel about the balance of work and home life. Turns out that 89 percent of poll respondents were unhappy with the balance, and 54 percent called it a “significant” problem.

Work is dominating our lives even when we're not actually in the office. Job insecurity and the fear of not being perceived as performing chains us to our inbox, even if we work remotely.

Many of us live in a work culture where we feel we have to respo…

Continuing: The outrage of Gitmo and the US Supreme Court

"Of the 800 men and boys held at Guantanamo since 2002, 169 remain. Of those prisoners, 87 have had their release approved by military review boards established during the Bush administration, and later by the Guantanamo Review Task Force established by President Obama in 2009. Yet they continue to languish in the prison camp."
The travesty of any concept of justice, let alone any fairness or common decency, continues as a blight on the supposed rule of law in America.
Read this piece "Hope Dies at Guantanamo" from CounterPunch and marvel at how the US continues to assert that it has a decent judicial system - and that a so-called liberal President presides over it all.
"The tragic case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif hit a dead end when the US Supreme Court issued an order refusing to hear his case last week. Latif, a Yemeni man, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002, after being detained while traveling to seek medical treatment.

Latif had suff…

Bizarre.....and 1984 at its best

Shake your head time!  

From Abby Zimet at CommonDreams:

"Surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee how many Americans' emails and phone calls they're poking into without a warrant as part of its sweeping counterterrorism powers because such a review "would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons” - and besides, figuring that out is “beyond the capacity” of the NSA. Think Orwell's doublethiink.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."


Funding the Enemy

Let it not be said that we haven't been told.   This piece, from truthdig, discusses a new book, "Funding The Enemy" - a book detailing the vast sums of money being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq, the corruption there, the waste of of money, etc. etc.

"Three years into the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, Sen. Judd Gregg offered an unusual pronouncement on that year’s congressional budget negotiations. “This cannot afford to be a guns and butter term,” he told The Wall Street Journal, invoking the traditional trade-off between military and domestic spending priorities. “You’ve got to cut the butter.”

If Gregg’s prescription sounded harsh, the reality was even more dispiriting. In addition to its huge outlays on guns, the U.S. government was coating the entire country of Afghanistan in butter. For a decade now, we’ve spent $120 billion annually to occupy a nation whose GDP was less than one-tenth of that figure. Much of the funding has supported the military, of course…

Assange has everything to fear from the Americans

Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and sought asylum in Ecuador.    Having lost his last avenue of appeal in the UK is he justified fleeing Great Britain before being extradicted to Sweden?     Glenn Greenwald addresses the issue in a piece in The Guardian....

"If one asks current or former WikiLeaks associates what their greatest fear is, almost none cites prosecution by their own country. Most trust their own nation's justice system to recognize that they have committed no crime. The primary fear is being turned over to the US. That is the crucial context for understanding Julian Assange's 16-month fight to avoid extradition to Sweden, a fight that led him to seek asylum, Tuesday, in the London Embassy of Ecuador.

The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks viol…

Chilling...when the State goes rogue

When invoking "terrorism" to do whatever it thinks appropriate, the State's actions can be both chilling and more than troubling.     Read this searing piece "When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism" on The Nation with grave concern....

"My father, Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, was indicted on fifty-three counts of supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which had been designated by the government as a terrorist group. The conspiracy case, which involved three other Palestinian men, was based largely on my father’s charitable contributions, associations, speeches and other First Amendment–protected activities. Prosecutors would introduce as evidence books my father owned, magazines he edited, conferences he organized and, particularly bizarre, a dream one of his co-defendants had about him. My father faced multiple life sentences plus 225 years if convicted. The charges against him included conspiracy to kill and maim pe…

It's business as usual in Egypt

As things stand at the moment the Arab Spring in Egypt seems to have come to a spluttering halt.    The military, cronies of the Mubarak - remember, he whom the West, the USA in particular looked on as an ally and poured aid-money into the country - are back in power.  Veteran Middle East journalist and reporter Robert Fisk puts into perspective.....

"Today's military played an equally shrewd but different game: they insisted Mubarak go on trial – bread and circuses for the masses, dramatic sentences to keep their minds off the future – while realigning the old Mubarakites to preserve their own privileges.

The ex-elected head of the judges' club in Egypt, Zakaria Abdul-Aziz, has rightly pointed out that even if Mubarak was put on trial, the January-February 2011 killing went on for days, "and they [the generals] did not order anyone to stop it. The Ministry of Interior is not the only place that should be cleansed. The judiciary needs that."

It was Mubarak's s…

Muslims in Europe

Many Governments in Europe have banned women from wearing the niqab.      Meanwhile, going by the way the media reports things, Muslims in Europe pose a threat in many countries.    But is that right?  And what is the threat?    As this piece "Europe: Hotbed of Islamophobic Extremism" in The Nation so clearly shows perhaps the threat is the other way round.
"The response of Europe’s political class to the presence of Muslim minorities can be described most generously as a moral panic, and most accurately as a repressive legislative and rhetorical onslaught. A number of states from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean have gone to extraordinary lengths to ban what women can wear, what people can say, and where and how they can worship. Disproportionate in scale and disingenuous in conception, these laws—whatever their stated intent—were not about tackling any serious threat of Islamic extremism. Switzerland passed a referendum in 2009 outlawing the building of minarets; the …

Be alarmed!

Credited to Mr Fish at Harper's Magazine

How many weddings later?......

Pause to reflect as you read this excellent piece "How Many Weddings Does the U.S. Have to Bomb Before We Realize Our Destructive Ways?" on TomDispatch.   The US seems to weddings and funerals in Pakistan and Afghanistan with regular monotony - killing many and mostly in error.   Nary much is done about such actions.    Tom Engelhardt rightly asks how the US would react if the same happened on American soil.

"But just over a week ago, an analogous “incident” did happen in Afghanistan and it passed largely unnoticed here.  A group of Taliban insurgents reportedly entered a house in a village in Logar Province, south of Kabul, where a wedding ceremony either was or would be in progress.  American and Afghan forces surrounded the house, where 18 members of a single extended family had gathered for the celebration.  When firing broke out (or a grenade was thrown) and both U.S. and Afghan troops were reportedly wounded, they did indeed call in a jet, which dropped a 500-poun…

Elite Club helps itself

Who said that it doesn't help to be an insider and well-connected?

"Following the 2008 financial collapse, at least 18 former and current directors from Federal Reserve Banks worked in banks and corporations that got over $4 trillion in low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve - that is, they bailed out themselves. The findings of the Government Accountability Office report were released for the first time by the tireless Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“This report reveals the inherent conflicts of interest that exist at the Federal Reserve. At a time when small businesses could not get affordable loans to create jobs, the Fed was providing trillions in secret loans to some of the largest banks and corporations in America that were well represented on the boards of the Federal Reserve Banks. These conflicts must end.”

Obama's prof comes out swinging

From The Huffington Post:

"One of President Barack Obama's former professors appears to have turned against him, according to a recent YouTube video.

"President Obama must be defeated in the coming election," Roberto Unger, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School who taught Obama, said in a video posted on May 22. "He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States."

Unger said that Obama must lose the election in order for "the voice of democratic prophecy to speak once again in American life."

He acknowledged that if a Republican wins the presidency, "there will be a cost ... in judicial and administrative appointments." But he said that "the risk of military adventurism" would be no worse under a Republican than under Obama, and that "the Democratic Party proposes no new direction."






The plight of a people cut off from the world

A new documentary featuring two Al-Jazeera journalists, The World Around Us, who were inside Gaza during Israel’s onslaught in late 2008 and early 2009. They witnessed the horrors and won’t let the world forget.

And then there is this.....

"A report released today, the fifth anniversary of the blockade of Gaza, from the charities Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) describes how Gaza's water supply is heavily polluted by fertilizer and human waste, and states that nearly all of the water in Gaza is "unfit for drinking."

Gaza's broken sewage system, severely destroyed in Operation Cast Lead, has lead to open cesspits and waste-caused nitrate pollution.  The high levels of nitrates in the water, ten times the safe levels established by WHO, have been linked to anemia and some cancers, and are wreaking health havoc heavily upon children and pregnant women in Gaza, the reports details.

"The blockade is a blight on the lives of Gaza's civi…

The countries in which it is best to be a woman

Interesting piece from the IHT on the results of a survey of which is the best country in the world for women.....

"India, a country best-known for its rising economic might, is the worst place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies, and Canada the best, according to a survey of experts published Wednesday.

The Group of 20 survey by TrustLaw, a legal news service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, found that a combination of infanticide, child marriage and slavery left India at the bottom of the ranking, lagging even Saudi Arabia, where women are still not allowed to drive and only gained the vote in 2011.

The poll of 370 gender experts also held some surprises, finding that Canada’s policy mix giving women access to health care and opportunities and protecting them against violence made it more egalitarian than some European nations and the United States.

Canada and the United States may share a border, a language and much cultural affinity, but if women face broadly s…

She used the word XXXX....and got banned from speaking

Wowserism at its very best......and a State of the USA which evidently hasn't grown up yet!

"Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown (D) has been blocked from speaking on the House floor in an apparent attempt to punish her for using the word "vagina" on Wednesday during a debate on legislation on reproductive rights.

Speaking out against anti-abortion bills on the floor, Brown said “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina,” she said on the House floor. 'But no means no.'"

“I was either banned for being Jewish and rightfully pointing out that HB 5711 was forcing contradictory religious beliefs upon me and my religion,” Rep. Brown said in a Thursday press conference. “Or is it because I used the word ‘vagina,’ which is an anatomically, medically correct term?”

Rep. Barb Byrum was also banned from speaking."



Hopes for Arab Spring met with uncertainy and desperation

It seems only a while back that the so-called Arab Spring sprung into life.  It was early last year actually.  And hope abounded!      Now, there is much to give rise to concern that, as this piece from AlterNet, describes it, there is much uncertainty and desperation in the air.

"The "Awakening" is taking a turn, very different to the excitement and promise with which it was hailed at the outset. Sired from an initial, broad popular impulse, it is becoming increasingly understood, and feared, as a nascent counter-revolutionary "cultural revolution" - a re-culturation of the region in the direction of a prescriptive canon that is emptying out those early high expectations, and which makes a mockery of the West's continuing characterization of it as somehow a project of reform and democracy.

Instead of yielding hope, its subsequent metamorphosis now gives rise to a mood of uncertainty and desperation - particularly among what are increasingly termed "&…

Gaza: A devastating toll

Ma'an News Agency reports on a UN Report relating to deaths and injuries in Gaza.  The facts ought give us all a jolt.   And yet again, the toll on the ordinary people in Gaza highlights at least two things.  The complicity of foreign governments in turning away from doing anything about the situation of the Gazans and the outrageous actions of the Israelis.

"Israeli forces have killed nearly 2,300 Palestinians and injured 7,700 in Gaza over the last five years, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Thursday.

Some 27 percent of the fatalities in Gaza were women and children, the UN agency said in a report highlighting the effects of Israel's blockade.

The land, sea and air blockade of Gaza entered its sixth year on Thursday.

Under the blockade, exports have dropped to less than 3 percent of 2006 levels.

"The continued ban on the transfer of goods from Gaza to its traditional markets in the West Bank and Israel, along with the severe restriction…

The real kiss of death!

Credited to Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com

Amazon = Stranglehold

A graphic depiction of the stranglehold Amazon has......  What to do?   Buy local!


The GOP, the Democrats, Israel and ethics

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counter terrorism issues.

In a piece on The Passionate Attachment, Giraldi provides an analysis of who is who in the GOP and Democrats in the US Congress and Senate and their unyielding commitment to anything Israel-related.    Even a prospective Senate candidate for the Democrats - with a significant question of ethics hanging over her head - is also an unquestioning supporter of Israel.    

"It is ironic that the hard core supporters of Israel among the neoconservatives are hoping for a Republican victory in the fall even though the party that has passionate Israel firsters most deeply embedded continues to be the Democrats. To be sure, Eric Cantor, Republican majority leader in the House and the only Jewish congressman from the GOP, has done some heavy lifting for Benjamin Netanyahu, including advising the Israeli Prime Minister that congr…

Europe at a critical, and potentially dangerous, crossroad

Let it not be said that we haven't been warned.       Europe is in dire trouble on a number of levels.....and that ignores the possible disintegration of the European Union.    There is a more basic "fight" underway where certain countries, such as Greece and Spain, should go down along the path of austerity across the board.   
Spiegel On Line International has a sobering piece "This Time, Europe Really Is on the Brink".    As the piece points out, we ignore history at our peril.
"What is the situation today? Europe's periphery is in depression. According to the IMF, gross domestic product will contract this year by 4.7 percent in Greece and 3.3 percent in Portugal. Unemployment is 24 percent in Spain, 22 percent in Greece and 15 percent in Portugal. Public debt already exceeds 100 percent of GDP in Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. These countries, along with Spain, are now effectively shut out of the bond market.

Now comes the banking crisis. We h…

Giving multinational free rein care of Obama

truthdig reports on the revelation of secret free-trade negotiations with a number of Pacific nations.    All things aside, the secrecy of what has now been revealed again highlights why the likes of WikiLeaks are a necessity to "protect" the rest of us from politicians, their spin doctors and the vast bureaucracies around the world.

"A document from President Obama’s free trade negotiations that was leaked Wednesday morning revealed an administration proposal to allow multinational corporations doing business in the United States to police themselves via an international tribunal staffed by lawyers on the companies’ payroll. The scheme obliterates a 2008 promise by Obama to do just the opposite."

The Huffington Post:

"The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that e…

Confirmation of what you always knew....or suspected

You are likely to readily agree with the various matters detailed by Professor Juan Cole on his blog, Informed Comment.
"There are so many open secrets in our corporatocracy. But precisely because they are the open secrets of powerful multi-billion-dollar concerns with phalanxes of attorneys, which after all themselves own most “news” media, they are the secrets that dare not say their name.

But every once in a while, some evidence for these secrets is proffered to the public, perhaps because the corporation involved has been embroiled in a major (known) scandal and so is too weak to prevent it any more. So here are today’s “You always knew it, but…” revelations:

10. You always knew it, but yesterday former British prime minister John Major admitted that billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch came to his office and threatened him that if he did not change his foreign policy, Murdoch’s corporations “would not be able to support” him. Major confesses to having been overly frightened …

US Congress effectively sanctions war on Iran

Perhaps someone at the US Congress ought to have told its members that urging war on a member of the UN is a breach of the UN's Charter.    Mere trifle, as America is troubled by all sorts of economic strife, here we have a resolution resoundly passed by Congress in effect sanctioning war on Iran.    From Foreign Policy in Focus.....
"In another resolution apparently designed to prepare for war against Iran, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 401–11 vote, has passed a resolution (HR 568) urging the president to oppose any policy toward Iran “that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

With its earlier decision to pass a bill that effectively sought to ban any negotiations between the United States and Iran, a huge bipartisan majority of Congress has essentially told the president that nothing short of war or the threat of war is an acceptable policy. Indeed, the rush to pass this bill appears to have b…