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Showing posts from December, 2012

Happy New Year

To those who celebrate the new year now, best wishes for 2013. Let's hope that the new year sees a better one for all us - with less (no more?) wars, terrorism, military skirmishes and peace and prosperity all round. Probably a vain hope, but one worth aspiring to.

In the meantime, to those who have been regular readers of this blog, thanks for coming on board. MPS will continue trying to post pieces which are as diverse and interesting as they can be in the coming year.

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FAIR's P.U.- litzer prizes for 2012

FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting - has once again awarded what it calls its P.U.-litzers for 2012 - or as it likes to call it, the "annual rundown of some of the stinkiest moments in American journalism." FAIR suggests its awards represent "just a sampling of the bias, spin and misinformation that we noted over the course of the year."

Here is one such sample:

Killing Their Four-Year-Old Girls to Save Ours Award: Joe Klein, Time

MSNBC's Morning Joe (10/23/12) had an unusually blunt discussion about U.S drone attacks. When host Joe Scarborough talked about "four-year-old girls being blown to bits," Time's Joe Klein responded:

"The bottom line, in the end, is: Whose four-year-old gets killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."

Another "beauty":

A Game That Needs Changing Award: PBS

In the first episode (4/11/12) of a four-part…

The pathetic US Senate

It is almost impossible to believe that the US Senate has failed to reach a solution to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff". The ramifications of this abject failure will have rippling effects, and not only in America. Perhaps, just perhaps, after the new year, fiscal responsibility will prevail in the USA. There is no such thing as a free lunch - which Americans, or certainly those in power, seem to have forgotten. And of course there are all those powerful CEO-types and monied people who will have nothing of seeing anything curbing the good life (be it tax benefits or whatever) they enjoy. Let the general public "eat cake" as was once so famously said by Marie Antoinette.

The New York Times provides a background to the present impasse...

"The titanic struggle over how to reach a broad Congressional tax agreement is not just the latest partisan showdown, but rather the culmination of two years of escalating fiscal confrontations, each building o…

Support of dictators......in the national interest?

More than a critical and valid valid question posed in this posting on The Future of Freedom Foundation. Can it really be said to be in the national interests of the USA so assiduously to both foster and support dictatorships and undemocratic regimes in many places around the world?

"The New York Times published an article on December 25 that exposes a harsh reality about U.S. foreign policy to mainstream Americans. The article, entitled “Bahrain, a Brutal Ally,” focuses on one of the principal dark sides of U.S. foreign policy: the U.S. national-security state’s ardent support of brutal dictatorships, this one being Bahrain.

Why is the U.S. government supporting the brutal dictatorship in Bahrain while opposing, say, the brutal dictatorship in Syria?

The answer is very simple. The dictatorship in Bahrain, where the U.S. military has one of its largest naval bases, is pro-U.S. The dictatorship in Syria is independent of the U.S. government at best and anti-U.S. at worst.

Among th…

Libraries 2012 style

As with so much these days, things are changing as technology impacts our lives. Take libraries. In the UK, foolishly, many libraries have been shut down as a fiscal measure. On the other hand, libraries are attempting to adapt to a new paradigm of what readers want and what the libraries can offer. This piece in The New York Timesexplains.

"As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores. They are increasingly adapting their collections and services based on the demands of library patrons, whom they now call customers.

Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries a…

Reflecting on that Hagel nomination

Stephen Walt (professor of international relations at Harvard) writing his regular blog-column on FP, reflects on the way the Obama Administration has fluffed the proposed nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defence, and the implications of Obama now backing down - in the light of the campaign being waged by the ubiquitous and ever-strident Israel Lobby against Hagel's appointment.

"The real meaning of the Hagel affair is what it says about the climate inside Washington. Simply put, the question is whether supine and reflexive support for all things Israeli remains a prerequisite for important policy positions here in the Land of the Free. Given America's track record in the region in recent decades, you'd think a more open debate on U.S. policy would be just what the country needs, both for its own sake and for Israel's. But because the case for the current "special relationship" of unconditional support is so weak, the last thing that hardliners …

The gaffes of 2012

The Age newspaper has listed the "best" gaffes for 2012. As one looks back at them many are as astounding as stupid...and just plain dumb and ignorant.

The political gaffes of the year are "awarded" to presidential contender, Mitt Romney...

"Gaffe-prone politician of the year

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had several clangers during the campaign.

In a CNN interview in February: "I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it."

At the Iowa State Fair in August, in response to someone in the crowd who said taxes should be raised on corporations: ''Corporations are people, my friend.''

At a closed fundraiser in Florida, leaked in September: ‘‘There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... my job is not to worry about those people.''

And at the second presidential debate in October: ‘‘I went to a number of women's groups…

Why BDS makes such simple, and peaceful, sense

The critics, and usual suspects, can howl as much as they want - and make the now customary allegations of anti-Zionism, anti-Israel and anti-semitism - about BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ) in relation to Israel, but as this piece in The Electronic Intifada so clearly shows, academia in Israel is closely aligned with anti-Palestinian activities.

"Dozens of academics from Israel and abroad, worried about the threat of academic boycott, have sent a petition to Tel Aviv University (TAU) requesting the cancelation of the university’s participation in the settler-run archaeological dig in the Silwan neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

The partnership between TAU and Elad’s project was revealed in October, and TAU’s Institute of Archaeology began digging in the “City of David” national park last week. Elad “is responsible for settling over 500 Israeli Jews throughout Silwan,” and the organization’s director “has himself been caught on tape admitting the digs he oversees …

Paranoia, plus 1984, at its very best

Most people will be more than surprised to read that the Occupy Wall Street Movement was seen as some sort of threat to the USA by the FBI. Bear in mind that this peaceful movement was almost immediately taken up from the USA in other countries around the globe. It is hard to believe that agencies, like the FBI,didn't emulate the tactics, and antics, in countries oveseas where the Occupy Movement took hold. All too sadly the movement appears to have petered out. Democracy Now tells us more

"Once-secret documents reveal the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a na…

Vietnam remembers.....whilst the West happily forgets

Being in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) one is reminded of the fact that the Americans, with Australians and other countries at their side, wreaked havoc on Vietnam - not that one feels any sort of animosity, as one well might, from the ever-charming Vietnamese people.

Viet Nam News reports on a legacy of America's devastating actions in Vietnam. The West may care to forget, but reflect on the enormity of just this one "action" by the US forces.

"A commemorative ceremony for the victims of US bombings in December 1972 took place yesterday at As many as 278 people, including 91 women, 40 elderly and 55 children were killed, while 178 children became orphans during the air raid. Thien Memorial Site in Ha Noi's central Dong Da District."

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"On the night of December 26, 1972, Ha Noi's densely-populated residential areas, including Kham Thien Street, the workers' living quarter in An Duong Street and even Bach Mai Hospital, were relentlessly…

Al Jazeera not all that it's cracked up to be

Anyone who has developed a liking for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network and the news it presents - on the basis that the coverage has been extensive and apparently un-biased - will be more than disappointed to read this from Glen Greenwald's latest op-ed piece in The Guardian.

(3) "The long-time Berlin correspondent for Al Jazeera, Aktham Suliman, recently resigned, and he explains in this rather amazing interview that he did so because the regime in Qatar, which owns the network, has been increasingly shaping and dictating the news network's coverage of events to advance the regime's interests. In particular, he cites Al Jazeera's coverage of the conflicts in Libya and Syria which, he says, has been systematically distorted in order to justify the wars which the Qataris seek against the dictators in those countries which they dislike:"Of course Muammar Gadhafi was a dictator, and of course he'd ruled for far too long. Of course there was a desire among …

A blunt message for Israel

MPD isn't a great admirer of op-ed writer (for The New York Times) and author, Thomas Friedman. His views are all too often American-centric, shallow and he assumes a worldly-knowledge all too often easily seen as devoid of depth or understanding of the topic at hand.

It is therefore somewhat refreshing to see Friedman weigh-in on the debate about the possible appointment of Chick Hagel as America's next Secretary of Defence. Friedman takes a big stick to the pro-Israel Lobby which is actively campaigning against the Hagel appointment.

"The disgusting thing is the fact that because Hagel once described the Israel lobby as the “Jewish lobby” (it also contains some Christians). And because he has rather bluntly stated that his job as a U.S. senator was not to take orders from the Israel lobby but to advance U.S. interests, he is smeared as an Israel-hater at best and an anti-Semite at worst. If ever Israel needed a U.S. defense secretary who was committed to Israel’s…

How wealth is apportioned in the USA. Badly!

Let it not be said that even with the GFC that America's rich are suffering. Just look at these stats in this piece from AllGov and it is clear who is doing well...and who isn't.

"For about thirty years now, the federal government has been implementing policies that take tax dollars from middle class Americans and give them to the rich, supposedly as a way to spur economic growth. Although Americans actually want greater economic equality, the net effect has been to redistribute wealth to the rich and create the most unequal developed society on earth.

According to aseries of reportsby Reuters, since 1989 inequality has risen all across the U.S. to levels not seen since before the Great Depression:

• Inequality has increased in every state except Mississippi, which is the poorest state in the Union;

• The poverty rate increased in 43 states;

• In 28 states inequality and poverty rose while median income fell;

• In every state, the richest 20% of households far outpaced the in…

Downtown Saigon

Let it not be said that Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - isn't a fascinating city. It's lively, bustling and fascinating all at the same time. It still retains the street-life of so many cities in Asia - although it is sad to see the KFC's and Pizza Huts around, as also shopping malls with all the usual up-market brands names.

Motor-bike riders, young and old, female and male, dominate the streets. It doesn't matter whether it's a family of four either. Dad will "drive" with Mum at the rear and 2 kids wedged, seemingly precariously, between them. For pedestrians it's a matter of literarily "launching" onto the street to cross.

And the food. Vietnamese value fresh produce. And everywhere one looks people are eating, no matter how seemingly basic the venue.

Add to the love of food the influence on Vietnamese cuisine of the now long-departed French colonials, and foodies are in for a treat.





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We're on the road....

Mahler's Prodigal Son has taken off travelling for the Summer vacation-period.

Postings will continue, although perhaps not as regularly and fully - but then again, from exotic spots along the way.

Continue coming on board at MPD for challenging posts....

In the meantime, for those celebrating the Festive Season, best wishes and for everyone celebrating the end of 2012, Happy New Year for 2013.

Let it not be said we haven't been warned

The naysayers can say and do what they want, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore - which we do at our own peril - the ever-increasing stats and warnings about climate change.    Another study just out, as reported on CommonDreams, details the latest findings.


"The litany of extreme weather events this year and the mounting discoveries supplied by climate scientists have made 2012 a year in which the realities of a warmer planet make ignoring the impacts of human caused climate change no longer possible. Map of Antarctica and annual spatial footprint of the Byrd temperature record. (Image: Nature Geoscience) Nearly routine record-breaking heat waveshistoric droughts and massive flooding destroyed croplands; fierce storms fueled 'surges' that destroyed homes and lives throughout North America; a late season typhoon wracked an island nation, killing nearly 1500; and the list goes on.
Even as author and activist Rebecca Solnit writes that 2012 has already "…

When a review isn't one

Those who have accessed Amazon in order to buy a book will have seen reviews of the particular book.  But are those reviews kosher?   In many cases it would seem not.

"After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.

Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

Is a review merely a gesture of enthusiasm or should it be held to a higher standard? Should writers be allowed to pass judgment on peers the way they have always done offline or are they competitors whose reviews should be banned? Does a groundswell of raves for a new book mean anything if the author is soliciting the comments?"




Read the full report "Giving Mom’…

Over-indulgence....and lots of unpardonable waste

It is the season, for many, to over-eat and drink, as they variously celebrate Xmas and/or the New Year.      What is troubling, though, is the enormous waste of food.    A piece in the SMH highlights the amount of food, and the value of it, wasted in Australia alone.   Just think about those less fortunate without food to eat regularly, let alone what the cost, worldwide, of wasted food must amount to.

"Australians have forgotten the art of turning leftovers into meals and we now throw out $8 billion of edible food each year, an advocacy group says.

Figures released by Do Something! founder John Dee show the average household bins $1036 of food yearly, about four million tonnes in total across the country.

This is enough to feed the average household for a month, and the wasted money could cover six months of electricity bills, Mr Dee says."





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"Throwing out edible food not only wastes the food itself, but has a wider impact that is not often considered, Mr Dee says.

&quo…

Murdoch's outrageous bidding behind the scenes

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).

His piece "Why the Washington Post Killed the Story of Murdoch’s Bid to Buy the US Presidency" on CounterPunch ought not only be compulsory reading for those who value a free press, and media in general, but of grave concern at how insidious it is that corporations can wield the power they do.

"Carl Bernstein, of All the President’s Men fame, has a revealing commentary in the Guardian today, though revealing not entirely in a way he appears to understand. Bernstein highlights a story first disclosed earlier this month in the Washington Post by his former journalistic partner Bob Woodward that media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to “buy the US presidency”.

A taped conversation shows that in early 2011 Mu…

The latest outrage in Pakistan

Benjamin Gilmour, author and film-maker, has travelled extensively (and lived) in Pakistan, and indeed, the entire region.    He writes - this, below, from his blog, but the piece was an op-ed piece in The Australian newspaper - about the implications of the murder of health workers in Pakistan the other day.  

"The  brutal murder this week of five Karachi health workers involved in a UN-backed polio eradication drive says more about the wider effect of misguided US policy in the area than it does anything new about the Pakistani Taliban.

Polio has become endemic in Pakistan and, according to the Lancet Medical Journal, accounts for 60% of polio cases worldwide. It is a serious and urgent threat. The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan stated recently that a failure to eradicate polio could lead within a decade to as many as 200,000 paralyzed children a year worldwide.

In a video address on the Gates Foundation website last month, Bill Gates himsel…

HRW attacks Israel for targetting journalists

Yet again the Israelis are the subject of trenchant criticism.    This time it's Human Rights Watch.   The complaint?    Targeting journalists during the recent attack by the Israelis on Gaza.   Go here for "Unlawful Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Media".

"Four Israeli attacks on journalists and media facilities in Gaza during the November 2012 fighting violated the laws of war by targeting civilians and civilian objects that were making no apparent contribution to Palestinian military operations.

The attacks killed two Palestinian cameramen, wounded at least 10 media workers, and badly damaged four media offices, as well as the offices of four private companies. One of the attacks killed a two-year-old boy who lived across the street from a targeted building.

The Israeli government asserted that each of the four attacks was on a legitimate military target but provided no specific information to support its claims. After examining the attack sites and interviewing wit…

First invade them...then "use" them...and then abandon them

What a condemnation of America on every level.   First it led the attack and war on Iraq.   Then, it "used" countless Iraqis in all manner of ways (such as as interpreters) followed by creating exiles and the displacement of people - and last but not least, effectively now doing nothing to assist in the plight of Iraqi refugees.

truthout reports:

"Five years ago the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) described the Iraqi refugee crisis as "the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948."

Not much has changed at the end of 2012, a year after US forces pulled out of Iraq. "Some one million people remain displaced throughout the country, of whom hundreds of thousands live in dire conditions," the UNHCR recently noted. "Most are unable to return to their areas of origin because of the volatile security situation, the destruction of their hom…

It might be his favourite game, but........

Credited to Osama Hajjaj, Cagle Cartoons, Abu Mahjoob Creative Productions

Inside the "drone" works

This piece, "The Woes of an American Drone Operator", from Spiegel International OnLine, examining the way drones are utilised by the US military, and everything that goes with it - including the way the "operators" operate -  is both troubling and of grave concern.

"Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it "more humane." It's the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors.

In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of milita…

Clash of the (computer) service-providing titans

We are all being corralled.       It is a slippery-slope as we become effectively "tied" to the computer behemoths, Apple, Google, etc.   

A little over a decade ago, just before the masses discovered the digital universe, the internet was a borderless new frontier: a terra nullius to be populated by individuals, groups and programmers as they saw fit. There were few rules and no boundaries. Freedom and open standards, sharing information for the greater good was the ethos.

Today, the open internet we once knew is fracturing into a series of gated communities or fiefdoms controlled by giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and to a lesser extent Microsoft. A billion-dollar battle conducted in walled cities where companies try to lock our consumption into their vision of the internet. It has left some lamenting the ''web we lost''.
The same firm in some cases now provides not just the content we consume but the devices we consume it on and a plethora of ot…

A mother's painful, sorrowful and poignant farewell

There is not much to say other than to steal oneself when reading this sad and poignant farewell of a mother to her son.

Veronique Pozner's eulogy for her six-year-old son Noah at one of the first two funerals held for the Newtown victims.

"The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.

Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.

You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old b…

So, who are Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood?

Outside the country, not much is really known about the Muslim Brotherhood - the party which has now seen Mohamad Morsi installed as Egypt's President.

The New Yorker sheds light on the organisation in this piece "Brothers' Keepers".

"Mysteries have surrounded the Muslim Brotherhood since its founding, in 1928. Nobody knows how many members there are, or how much money the organization receives, or where it all comes from. The chain of command is murky; the goals and the guiding philosophy are not clearly stated. The Egyptian revolution, which has rolled and lurched and staggered along for nearly two years, and which included Brothers among its original protesters, has failed to answer these basic questions. But the past year has solved one mystery: we now know how the Muslim Brotherhood behaves when it gets a taste of power.

The Brothers did give advance warning. The organization has never recognized the State of Israel, and it denies that Al Qaeda carried out th…

What Israel is doing to the Bedouins

It is bad enough that the Israelis treat the Palestinians the way they do, but it extends to Bedouin communities too.     These nomadic people are effectively put upon, as this piece (with photos) from AlJazeera so clearly shows.

"Khan al-Ahmar, occupied Palestinian territories - Israeli authorities recently approved plans to build more settlement units in an area known as E1, which links Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim.

Khan al-Ahmar is part of a cluster of Bedouin communities living in or near the E1 corridor, and is deemed one of the few remaining obstacles to long-held Israeli plans to link the holy city directly with the third-largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Eid Khamis is the head of Khan al-Ahmar, a community that was forced to leave the Negev Desert during the 1948 war.

These Bedouin of the Jahalin clan set up their homes in a dusty valley - now nestled between the Israeli settlements of Kfar Adumim and Ma’aleh Adumim - about 10km from Jerusalem.

Khamis, 47, said the…

Only in America!

Only in America!    This short piece from CommonDreams makes a punchy and direct point.....
"Worried about your kids? This holiday season, get them an Amendment II Ballistic Backpack, available in both Disney Princess and Avengers styles. Or wait. What about the Centurion Tactical Vest for Children, the Ballistic Plate backpack shield, the La Rue Tactical Backpack Shield, the "My Child's Pack" from Bullet Blocker? Yes. These things exist. Sales have been booming. We are lost, unless we change."

Obama's double-standards....par excellence!

No comment called for!  George Monbiot writing in The Guardian.

"Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change." Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world's concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.

If the victims of Mr Obama's drone strikes …

A dangerous trade-off

Anyone who has followed political affairs in relation to America, its Israel Lobby, Israel and the possible attack on Iran, won't be surprised in the least by this report on Business Insider.    It almost seems certain that 2013 will see some sort of "action" in connection with Iran and the threat it is supposed to pose with its nuclear capacity.

"In March President Barack Obama reportedly offered Israel bunker-buster bombs and other advanced weapons in exchange for a postponing an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities until 2013.

At the time the White House denied that any such agreement was proposed or reached.
Bunker-busters are essential for an attack on Iran's underground nuclear facilities since they can penetrate Tehran's world renowned reinforced concrete.

This week the U.S. Department of Defense notified Congress of a $647 million agreement to provide the Israel Air Force with 10,000 bombs — more than half of which are bunker-busters — along with 6,…

The sad plight of Aleppo

The war in Syria continues.    Such graphics one sees show a country being torn apart - and nowhere more so than in the historic city of Aleppo.    A report from Aleppo in The New York Times graphically details (including a video) the terrible state the city and its people are in.

"Winter is descending on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and the bloodied stage for an urban battle, now running into its sixth month, between rebels and the military of President Bashar al-Assad.

As temperatures drop and the weakened government’s artillery thunders on, Aleppo is administered by no one and slipping into disaster. Front-line neighborhoods are rubble. Most of the city’s districts have had no electricity and little water for weeks. All of Aleppo suffers from shortages of oil, food, medicine, doctors and gas.

Diseases are spreading. Parks and courtyards are being defoliated for firewood, turning streets once lined with trees into avenues bordered by stumps. Months’ worth of trash is piled high, …

Yep! Biggest miner in the world acknowedges there is climate change

Wow!    BHP Billiton, the largest miner in the world, has publicly acknowledged the existence of climate change.......

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that fossil fuels cause climate change and the extreme weather we’ve been seeing — and that the world needs to wake up and kick the fossil fuel habit.

Sure, those of us who call ourselves environmentalists take those as truths, but a major coal company? Yet that’s exactly what the Australian BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, has just copped to.

Explaining the company’s decision to retrofit one if its coal-exporting facilities against significant weather events, BHP Billiton executive Marcus Randolph was quoted as saying, “As we see more cyclone-related events … the vulnerability of one of these facilities to a cyclone is quite high. So we built a model saying this is how we see this impacting what the economics would be and used that with our board of directors to rebuild the facility to be more durable to c…

"Useless, useless, useless"

No surprises here.    The Palestinians have described - and labelled - Tony Blair and his Quartet "useless, useless, useless".    Blair has always been a show-pony with little intellectual fire-power.     As for substance.......!

"Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn't take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are "useless, useless, useless".

Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street. Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007. He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary.

After four years of r…

Memo to the USA: Do not do as you do!

The Americans are forever lecturing the world about any manner of things, especially about human rights, the rule of law, etc. etc.     And of course there is the GOP!    What can one say about them?       Read about their latest antics in this piece "Once Again, Senate Republicans Reject International Human Rights" from The Nation.

"On December 4, Republican Senators blocked US adoption of a global convention to protect the disabled. With that, the Republican right, whose election losses have taught them nothing about the changing face of American society or the evolving world role of the United States, signaled that it intends to stall or kill all international treaties sent to the Senate for ratification by the Obama administration. Even pleas from a frail Bob Dole in his wheelchair, and from Senator John McCain, a wounded and tortured war hero, failed to budge fellow Republicans in the name of humanity and justice.

The isolationist GOP is happy to bully other nations…