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Showing posts from January, 2013

Shamefully, Gitmo lives on!........

Obama has, once again, shown his true colors. Big on an announcement.......poor in execution, if any at all. Gitmo is just one example of talk and no action - as this piece on CommonDreamsso clearly spells out......

"With the appalling news that Obama's State Department is reassigning Daniel Fried, the envoy supposedly working to close Guantánamo, not replacing him and closing his office - in other words, abandoning all pretext that Gitmo will close any time soon, if ever - critics are blasting what Glenn Greenwald calls "vintage Obama: a pretty symbolic gesture designed to enable Democrats to feel good while retaining the core powers that constituted the injustice in the first place." More including Esquire's Charles Pierce, who nails it.

Obama's cowardice and Congress' obstinance, writes Pierce, "are only part of a systemic failure of faith in the institutions that we feel safe in bragging about to the world, but not in allowing them to work th…

Some comparison! Israeli occupation to that by Germany during WW2

Astounding reflections and positions taken by 6 formers heads of Israel's Shin Bet.

"Amidst a spate of killings by Israeli forces of unarmed Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, we turn to the stunning Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Gatekeepers." The film brings together six former heads of Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, collectively speaking out for the first time ever. They detail their methods against Palestinian militants and civilians in the Occupied Territories, including targeted killings, torture, recruiting informants, and the suppression of mass protests during two intifadas. But in doing so, they also criticize the occupation they were assigned with defending and warn that successive Israeli governments have endangered their country’s future by refusing to make peace. "We are making the lives of millions unbearable, into prolonged human suffering, [and] it kills me," Carmi Gillon says in the film. "[We’ve become] a b…

Snooping on unprecedented levels

It might only be in the USA at the moment, but be assured that other countries - if they haven't already engaged in it - will also embrace extensive snooping on their citizens. Of course so far as is known what the nature and extent of the surveillance is, it will all be justified on the by-now tiresome and done-to-death, mantra of the "war on terror".


The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Among other forms of intelligence-gathering, the NSA secretly collects the phone records of millions of Americans, using data provided by telecom firms AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
"As the US government depicts the Defense Department as shrinking due to budgetary constraints, the Washington Post this morning announces "a major expansion of [the Pentagon's] cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold." Specifically, says the New York Times this morning, "the expansion would incr…

Shameful! How Nazis were allowed to escape justice.

That many of the architects of Nazism were allowed to escape justice is revealed in a new book,a piece in The Independent reveals. As it happens today is not only Holocaust Day, but this week marks the 80th anniversary of the Hitler's ascension to power.

"As the world today remembered the horrors of the concentration camps, a new book has laid bare how many of its architects were able to escape justice for decades, and in many cases until death. Rauff, and dozens of other top Nazis who fled to South America after the Second World War, were sheltered by a “coalition of the unwilling” on both sides of the Atlantic.

German historian Daniel Stahl’s book, Nazi Hunt: South America’s Dictatorships and the Avenging of Nazi Crimes, published just as Germany remembers this week’s 80th anniversary of the Nazis’ accession to power and the world marks Holocaust Day, is based on extensive research in European and South American archives. It comes to the shameful conclusion that key offic…

Dead babies, detained children and murdered Palestinians

When will the world step up to the plate and stop Israel's murderous, barbaric and inhumane actions in relation to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Arabs in Israel (some 20% of the population in Israel proper)? Professor Juan Cole in his blog Informed Comment reflects on Israel's ongoing colonialism.

"The Palestinian West Bank has been illegally de facto annexed by Israel. This territory was not awarded to Israel even in the UN General Assembly partition plan of 1947, and indeed Israel’s possession of it is not recognized even by the US, much less the rest of the world. It was conquered by main force in 1967 and has been settled by hundreds of thousands of Israeli colonists, who have encroached on Palestinian orchards and farms, and have diverted Palestinian water. The Palestinians there have been kept stateless and without the rights of citizenship. They are sentenced in Israeli military courts. Israel controls their land, water and air space, and simply takes …

A new type drone coming somewhere near you sometime soon

As if the present-day drones weren't bad enough - and have already caused much untold damage - this piece from truthdig reports on the latest and even more invasive drones coming to somewhere near you sometime soon.

"The PBS show “NOVA” is funded in part by arch-conservative David Koch and defense companies like Lockheed Martin. It often smacks of TED-talk greasiness and rarely criticizes its subjects. But the series’ latest installment on unmanned aerial vehicles, “Rise of the Drones”, appears to contain new, genuinely valuable revelations.
Those unfamiliar with UAVs will find a concise summary of the current, publicly known state of play as well as a brief history of their development. What appears to be new are the details of a panoramic camera called Argus developed by Britain-based BAE Systems, the third-largest defense contractor in the world.“Today we’ve developed sensors that can watch, with an all-seeing eye, and see an area about the size of a small city. All at one …

Wall St. walks free

Who can forget the GFC and its aftermath?...and in some instances still reverberating. What has become clear is that Wall St. was up to its neck in creating the GFC. However, has anyone been prosecuted? Not in your life, as Glenn Greenwald explains in this op-ed piece from The Guardian.

PBS' Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of to…

That election in Israel........

The Israeli election has thrown up some "interesting" aspects - as explored by Max Blumenthal in this piece "Why the Israeli Elections Were a Victory for the Right" in The Nation.

"The story of the Israeli elections is not, as was expected, the dominance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud-Beiteinu coalition with former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Instead, it is the unlikely triumph of Yair Lapid, a media celebrity who managed to secure nineteen seats in the next Knesset, making his newly formed Yesh Atid, or There Is a Future, the second-largest party in Israel. In the coming days, Lapid will play a pivotal role in the formation of the next governing coalition, and he is certain to receive a ministerial role in any future administration.

The results were a stinging rebuke to Netanyahu, who had expected over forty seats and wound up with only thirty-one. But what do they mean for the status quo of the Israeli occupation and t…

A whistleblower goes to jail - for exposing what is illegal

To adopt that well-known phrase, there is something rotten in the State of Denmark. Here is a whistleblower who exposes the American's use of water-boarding - and he ends up going to jail. The actual perpetrators of the torture, let alone those who authorised it? Not even charged.......

"Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison for revealing in 2007 interviews that that Abu Zubaydah and other terrorism suspects were being waterboarded, making him the first CIA insider to confirm reports of torture during interrogation. He later spoke out forcefully against what he had witnessed: "There are things we should not do...One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture." Kiriakou, who did not take part in any torture, thus becomes the only former U.S. official to go to jail for torture. From an interview:

"I don’t think I am overstating this when I say I feel like we’re entering a second McCarthy era where the Justice…

Making money (lots!) from speculating on food staples

Scandalous? - or just plain ol' capitalism at work? The Independent reports in "Goldman bankers get rich betting on food prices as millions starve" how the Wall St. behemoth has made squillions of dollars from, in effect, the suffering of others."Goldman Sachs made more than a quarter of a billion pounds last year by speculating on food staples, reigniting the controversy over banks profiting from the global food crisis.Less than a week after the Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King, slapped Goldman Sachs on the wrist for attempting to save its UK employees millions of pounds in tax by delaying bonus payments, the investment bank faces fresh accusations that it is contributing to rising food prices.Goldman made about $400m (£251m) in 2012 from investing its clients' money in a range of "soft commodities", from wheat and maize to coffee and sugar, according to an analysis for The Independent by the World Development Movement (WDM).This contrib…

An unpalatable truth!

Quinoa has for the last years been the "new" food on the block for foodies. Known for its health properties, foodies the world over have taken to it. Many restaurants have added it to their menu. But, as this piece "Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?" from The Guardian so clearly details, the cost to Bolivians and Peruvians - from where quinoa hails - has been substantial.

"Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it's keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to "base your meals on starchy foods".

Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a c…

This is a new one! "Donating" a vote

There are all sorts of democracies. But "donating" a vote? Welcome to what some Israelis are facilitating to allow their Palestinian "neighbors" - otherwise unable to vote - to vote in Israel's election this week.

"As a Palestinian living in the West Bank, Mousa Maria has no legal right to vote in Israeli elections this week. But thanks to a protest initiative, an Israeli voter will be casting a ballot for him.

He's participating in the "Real Democracy" project, a joint campaign launched by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists in which Israeli citizens "donate" their ballot to Palestinians.

Maria will be voting through Shahaf Weisbein for the Arab-Israeli party Balad. He asked Weisbein to vote for the party to show support for its embattled member Hanin Zoabi, who faced attempts to disqualify her from the Knesset last month.

"The Israelis tried to stop her from being a member of the Knesset and I think that she needs sup…

The "real" Vietnam War revealed

There will be many who know virtually nothing about the Vietnam War back in the 1960's and 1970's. Then again there are many who see the Iraq War and the current Afghan War as reminiscent of the failed and disastrous Vietnam War.

truthdig reports on a new book which details that the incident at the infamous My Lai was by no means an isolated one.

"When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.deridedthe U.S. government for being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” in ananti-war speechhe delivered during the Vietnam War, the famed civil rights activist was met with a wave of vocal criticism. Time magazine condemned the remarks as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” while The Washington Post said that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” King had numerous reasons to voice his opposition to the war, including what he called “the more tragic recognition of reality ... that the war was doing far more …

At the Louvre

Mali......and double standards

Robert Fisk writes in The Independent on the outbreak of war in Mali and with the deaths of "our" boys, the double-standards we employ.

"Odd, isn’t it, how our “collateral damage” is different from their “collateral damage”. Speaking yesterday to an old Algerian friend in the aviation business, I asked him what he thought of his country’s raid on the In Amenas gas plant.“Brilliant operation, Robert,” he shouted down the phone. “We destroyed the terrorists!” But the innocent hostages? What about their deaths, I asked? “Poor guys,” he replied. “We had thousands of women and children killed in our war [in the 1990s] – terrible tragedy – but we are fighting terrorism.”
And there you have it. Our dead men didn’t matter in the slightest to him. And he had a point, didn’t he? For we are outraged today, not by the massacre of the innocents, but because the hostages killed by the Algerian army – along with some of their captors – were largely white, blue-eyed chaps rather than da…

The Shammies

The what? The Shammies! They are a new type of award, along the lines of the Oscars, the Tonys, etc. etc. which John Pilger - veteran commentator, author, journalist and film maker - explains in a piece in "Welcome to the Shammies, the Media Awards that Recognise Truly Unsung Talent" on Information Clearing House."There are awards for everyone. There are the Logies, the Commies, the Tonys, the Theas, the Millies (“They cried with pride”) and now the Shammies. The Shammies celebrate the finest sham media. “Competition for the 2013 Gold Shammy,” said the panel of judges, “has been cutthroat.” The Shammies are not for the tabloid lower orders. Rupert Murdoch has been honoured enough. Shammies distinguish respectable journalism that guards the limits of what the best and brightest like to call the “national conversation”.But one example Pilger cites:"The Shammy judges were especially impressed by a spirited campaign to rehabilitate Tony Blair. The winner will recei…

From Paris......pick your dessert!

The neo-con loonies are at it again

One might have thought that the neo-con loonies had learnt a lesson from their goading for war against and in Iraq and then Afghanistan. But, no! Now Iran is their target...as this Inter Press Service reports. When will the world - no, make that politicians! - wake up to the fact that wars don't solve anything. In the case of an attack on Iran the ramifications could be devastating on so many levels to be of grave concern - human, geographic, militarily and economic. " Four U.S. non-proliferation specialists are urging the Obama administration to impose tougher economic sanctions against Iran and issue more explicit threats to destroy its nuclear programme by military means.In a 155-page report, the specialists, who were joined by the head of a right-wing pro-Israel lobby group, the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies (FDD), said Washington should declare its intent to institute a “de facto international embargo on all investments in, and trade with” Ir…

Is this nuts or what?

Try as they might, for level-headed Americans to do something, anything, about curbing the availability of fire arms in the USA, would seem a lost cause when one reads the rather incredulous to read "report" in CommonDreams. To say that there is something really wrong with a culture which can continue to allow such widespread mayhem through the use of guns, is an under-statement."One month to the day after the Sandy Hook massacre, its grieving families have announced the creation of an anti-violence initiative. But there are distressing signs they have their hard work cut out for them. First and most mind-bogglingly, the NRA just released a new first-person, smart-phone shooter game for ages four and up. Yes. Then we have GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) going on the tee vee machine to denounce proposed gun-control measures because, she explained, hatchets, hammers, video games (which are violent, it turns out) cars and “psychotropic drugs” for the mentally ill - …

A change of facts on the ground

Israel has relentlessly been building settlements on Palestinian land. The world has tut-tutted but done nothing to stop what is now some 500,000 + Israelis living on Palestinian land.Now the Palestinians have taken up the Israeli's "game" - and the Israelis don't like it one bit!The (illegal) Israeli eviction of the 20 tents and 200 Palestinians of Bab al-Shams in the West Bank's disputed "E1" is not the end of the story, most observers say, but the beginning of a smart new form of popular resistance that turns the Israeli penchant for citing "facts on the ground" against itself. Photos, Twitter, and more on Israeli lawlessness, what the village means to the author of the original "Bab al-Shams," what it means to many others."Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to our return...For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the …

A tragic premature death

Much has already been written about the suicide-death of Aaron Swartz - a person most people not "connected" to the nerdy-world of computing had probably never heard of.The Independenthas a piece which encapsulates who Swartz was and his amazing accomplishments in his far too short 26 year life."At the heart of each of Aaron Swartz’s projects was a compulsion to form new systems for the flow of information in the digital era, and challenge those which had emerged already as inadequate. From his hand in developing the technological standards that underpin the internet, to work on news, reference material and copyright online, Swartz was a vocal advocate of the free flow of information and the dangers of allowing traditional corporations to play a disproportionate role in forming the information systems of the 21st century.Aged just 14 he assisted Tim Berners-Lee in founding RSS, one of the earliest ways that data on the internet was freed from the websites that provide …

You ought to listen what William Binney has to say.....

If you think you are safe in surfing the web, texting and emailing and using the internet, think again!You haven't heard of William Binney? Then go, here - to a piece in The New York Times - to view a movie/doco in which Binney details how the US has turned from international surveillance to "covering" its own American people. Posted with Blogsy

America's ongoing shame and disgrace

"To mark the 11th shameful year of Guantánamo, filmmaker Laura Poitras follows the journey home to Yemen of Adnan Latif, who has been called "the human face of indefinite detention." Held for ten years without charges and cleared at least three times for release due to an extraordinary lack of evidence - but never, finally, released - he was found dead in his cell last September in circumstances that remain cloudy. The film is still, largely silent, almost unbearably heartbreaking, and rage-inducing. From one of Latif's poems: "Where is the world?"

Go here to view the documentary. Moving and likely to induce rage..........

Posted with Blogsy

Guns in America: They just don't get it!

Sobering piece of news out of America how gun and ammunition sales are soaring as people fear restrictions being imposed post the recent shooting-killings at a school in Sandy Hook. Even more troubling is the stat that since the new Congress was sworn in some 10 days ago, no less than 446 children and teenagers have been shot at with a gun."As politicians in Washington have talks with "stakeholders" and convene "task forces" to review policy, gun violence continues apace and gun sales are surging. In addition, gun and ammunition sales—particularly of the most dangerous varieties—have skyrocketed across the US in recent weeks as Americans appear to be stockpiling semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity clips amid fears that lawmakers will respond to long-ignored calls for a ban on such items.Though Vice President Joe Biden is heading a national task force to address the renewed national outcry for gun safety laws in the aftermath the Sandy Hook massacre i…

Five Broken Cameras

Great news.....Small good news of the day: An Oscar nomination for the Israeli/Palestinian documentary Five Broken Cameras, which has been hailed as "a powerful act of witnessing." It tells the deeply personal and political story ofBil'in's resistance to the Separation Wall through the smashing of Palestinian farmer and filmmaker Emad Burnat's cameras through five years of protests, actions, jailings and IDF incursions. Interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Also nominated was the Israeli "The Gatekeepers," profiling former IDF officials critical of the Occupation. Will anyone listen and look a bit more closely? Maybe."When something happens, my instinct is to film it." - Burnat"Posted with Blogsy

Wow! US Congress less popular than cockroaches and traffic jams

Is it possible to be more on the nose, and less popular, than the US Congress? It seem not! From Public Policy Polling."Facing low approval ratings after a historically unproductive 112th session and a series of last-minute showdowns over fiscal matters, Congress is now less popular than root canals, NFL replacement referees, head lice, the rock band Nickelback, colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, Donald Trump, France, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and Brussel sprouts.When asked if they have a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things, voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34-37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen …

Profligacy and waste......

For Westerners there is basically an abundance of food available. It may not always be nutritious, or healthy, but it is essentially there for the taking. But, and it is a big but, the world is wasting a precious commodity - with all the implications that entails.Up to half of all food produced in the world is wasted, according to a new report, which also implicates wasteful practices in the global food system that squander the planet's water.The report released Thursday, Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not (.pdf), from the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers notes that the "staggering" amount of food waste also means waste of "precious resources, including land, water and energy."Photo: Garry KnightDr. Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers stated:The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as those in …

A simple and direct message: "Get out"

Malalai Joya is no stranger to controversy. This is the woman who has done so much to take on the powers that be in Afghanistan. In that country, of all places, a brave woman indeed. As presidents Karzai and Obama are about to meet in Washington, Roya has a simple message...."Malalai Joya has a simple message for US, NATO, and Afghan leaders: Get out. (Photo: Richard Mills/ The Times)'Get out' of her country, she tells those from the US and other western nations. And to the warlords, the Taliban, and the fundamentalists represented in the ruling government, she says 'get out of the way' of a peaceful and prosperous future for regular Afghans.As Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to meet with Barack Obama on Friday and speculation swirls about the future US role as 2014 slowly approaches, one of Afghanistan's leading peace advocates has a message that those in the US—increasingly cited for their war-weariness—rarely hear: Afghans themselves, caugh…

Author slams Netanyahu

Amos Oz is a respected and well-known author of many books. He has often been a critic of Israeli policies, but today, not many days out from a general election in Israel, he takes PM Netanyahu to task, as also his Government's policies. From Haaretz (only available via subscription).The writer and Israel Prize laureate Amoz Oz harshly attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich.Oz, a staunch Meretz supporter, made the comments at a parlor meeting at the home of friends in Tel Aviv. Speaking to about 30 academics who are considering voting for Meretz, Oz compared Israel to an apartheid state and made angry predictions about its future."In my mind, the Netanyahu government is the most anti-Zionist government Israel has ever had. It is doing everything so there will be not two states here, but one," said Oz. "It is striking Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] blow after blow - violent moral…

And it is this man Obama wants to appoint CIA chief?

That liberals and liberal-minded people are disenchanted with Obama is stating an oxymoron. Obama has very much followed in the foot-steps of his predecessor, George Bush (remember him? - the small brained inarticulate fellow) in pursuing policies which by any standard are either illegal or harsh and unconscionable. There has been little, if any, sign of the Harvard-trained lawyer or one-time law professor.
The appointment of a new CIA director has yet again put into the spotlight Obama's actions and values.

"When President Obama announced his nomination of John Brennan, he talked about Brennan’s integrity and commitment to the values that define us as Americans. He said Brennan has worked to “embed our efforts in a strong legal framework” and that he "understands we are a nation of laws."

A nation of laws? Really? Going around the world killing anyone we want, whenever we want, based on secret information? Just think of the precedent John Brennan is setting f…