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Showing posts from March, 2013

Another disturbing dimension to Europe's financial crisis

We have all read about the current issue in Cyprus - the banks shutting their doors for days and days and residents denied access to their money - and the general economic woes across much of Europe (principally, Greece, Portugal and Spain) but this piece "Shredded Social Safety Net: European Austerity Costing Lives" on Spiegel OnLine International reports on a much wider issue confronting the peoples of Europe - a medically-related one.

"As the euro crisis wears on, the tough austerity measures implemented in ailing member states are resulting in serious health issues, a study revealed on Wednesday. Mental illness, suicide rates and epidemics are on the rise, while access to care has dwindled.

The rigid austerity measures brought on by the euro crisis are having catastrophic effects on the health of people in stricken countries, health experts reported on Wednesday.

Not only have the fiscal austerity policies failed to improve the economic situation in these countries, b…

4-6 trillion US dollars the projected cost of the Iraq and Afghan Wars

Here we are in a world where there is malnutrition, the availability of water is an issue, decent health eludes many and we continue to look for cures for diseases such as  cancer.    Just think how the projected cost - 4 to 6 trillion US dollars - of the failed Iraq and Afghan wars could be have been "profitably" directed.     And then there is the still on-going suffering of American and other country's service personnel and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.    Inter Press Service reports on a new report from a Harvard researcher on the cost of the 2 wars.

"Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run bet -ween four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history, according to a new report by a prominent Harvard University researcher.

While Washington has already spent close to two trillion dollars in direct costs related to its military campaigns in the two countries, that total “represents only a fracti…

Climate change is here right now! Now what?

A line of mud marks the height of flood waters that ravaged a seaside home after Superstorm Sandy wrought havoc on the Jersey Shore, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Point Pleasant, N.J. (John Minchillo/AP)
Encouraging to read at least one publication call a spade a shovel in describing the critical issue of climate change.    The Daily Beast calls it out bluntly and also, rightly, queries where to from here.
"To paraphrase Hemingway, climate change first comes gradually and then all at once. Now that the negative impacts of changing climate have become undeniable, there is also a dawning realization that—at this point—climate change is unstoppable. This puts into wistful perspective the developing consensus that we should do something about it.  Witness Obama’s bold statement in the State of the Union Address that he is prepared to use executive powers if Congress doesn’t act. A cautious politician, it’s doubtful that he would have been so bold unless he felt that he had the public’…

Iran: America's myopic approach

Whatever the West, the UN and Israel and the USA are "doing", Iran is still hanging in there and not bending to the will of those seeking to stop it develop its own nuclear capacity.

Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard, writing his regular blog on FP, suggests that America's way of dealing with Iran is myopic and that historians will look back in years to come and shake their heads at the incompetent approach taken.

"When historians of American foreign policy look back a few decades from now, they will shake their heads in wonder at the incompetence of the U.S. effort to deal with Iran. They will be baffled that the United States spent years trying to convince Iran to give up its nuclear enrichment program by making repeated threats of war, passing Congressional resolutions demanding regime change, waging a covert action campaign against the clerical regime, and imposing ever harsher economic sanctions. They will spend a lot of time explori…

Shotguns and spoons. Pretty much all the same?

To say that many of those in favour of uncontrolled access to guns in the USA are plain nuts is an understatement.    The latest idiocy.......that guns are really no more like spoons by comparison.    Don't get it?    Read the piece below from CommonDreams.

"Seeking to "take back our city" from crime and gun violence, an Armed Citizen Project affiliate in Tucson, Arizona - where Gabby Giffords was shot - has announced a brilliant plan to give away free shotguns in high-crime neighborhoods, an idea that people with brains and other critics are calling "pure idiocy" and "absolute lunacy." The intiative was organized by a GOP failed mayoral candidate known for giving away guns at every conceivable occasion, who argues that "protecting your family and your property is a personal right," and who believes that linking guns to gun violence is "like saying spoons are responsible for making people fat.” This, on a day that saw horrific new …

Sorry about that "love affair"....but not for 2 wars, torturing and drones

It just goes to show that even now he simply doesn't get it.    None other than the man so egregiously placed on a pedestal - General Petraeus - has now apologiesed for that "love affair".    But an apology for the misguided wars he led in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torturing under his watch or the deaths caused by drones?    Forget it!

"Retired Four-Star General David Petraeus is making headlines following his first public appearance since he resigned as head of the CIA last year amid revelations that he carried on an extramarital affair.

"Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago," Petraeus said to a crowd of mostly US veterans Tuesday night. "I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing. So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA a…

The smartest and dumbest US Presidents

There will never be any consensus on who was the smartest, and dumbest, US President.     Brianz has made its own assessment - here

They have also designated the idiot president.    Not hard to guess that none other than Dubya romps it in.







"Of course we saved the best for last. It isn’t really necessary to justify Dubya’s appearance in this section –and nor do we have the space – but it’s good fun to reminisce nostalgically over his well documented failings. Like Ford, Bush graduated from Yale (although he only managed a C-grade average ) and also like Ford, perplexing, contradictory or painfully banal self-evident observations (yep, they are a real pain in the ass) emerge, unchecked, from his mouth. But unlike Ford, the sheer rate and frequency of these mistakes were so incredible that recording them went beyond cheap political points-scoring: they demanded cataloging for posterity’s sake, lest future generations forget or disbelieve their existence. A neologism had to be coi…

The dire consequences of fracking

Fracking is all the go at the moment - especially in the USA.    No problems say the advocates!  And look at all the advantages!  Dangerous in many and varied ways say the naysayers.    Now this.........to support those against fracking.

"Scientists have linked Oklahoma's biggest recorded earthquake to the disposal of wastewater from oil production, adding to evidence that may lead to greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.

The 5.7-magnitude quake in 2011 followed an 11-fold bump in seismic activity across the central US in recent years as disposal wells are created to handle increases in wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University and the US Geological Survey, who published their findings Tuesday in the journal Geology, said the results point to the long-term risks the thousands of wells pose and shows a need for better monitoring and government oversight.

"There's not a magic bul…

Time to lay down some wine before global warming kills off the vines?

Climate change's ever-widening tentacles......

"Champagne produced in southern England? Bordeaux in the Loire Valley?

Climate change is threatening to redraw the world's wine-producing map, and the effects are already being seen in earlier harvests and coarser wines, experts told an international conference Friday.

"The consequences of global warming are already being felt. Harvests are already coming 10 days earlier than before in almost all wine-growing regions," said Bernard Seguin, the head of climate studies at France's INRA agricultural research institute.

He was speaking at the opening of the Second International Congress on Wine and Climate Change.

More than 350 experts from 36 countries, including France, Spain, the United States, New Zealand and Australia, are taking part in the two-day conference in Barcelona.

It concludes Saturday with an address by former US vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore.

"Wine and wine-producing will change in a …

Closing down a country

The Israelis would have it that the West Bank could, one day, become a Palestinian State.    At the moment Israel is an occupier of the Palestinian territory.     That said, closing the whole West Bank down?    Think of it for a moment.     Shutting down what is, in effect, a country!

"The Israeli army will impose a general closure of the West Bank during the Jewish holiday of Passover, the army said Sunday.

The West Bank will be closed from midnight Sunday until midnight Tuesday, the army said in a statement.

"Persons in need of medical attention, humanitarian aid or exceptional cases will be permitted to pass for care, with the authorization of the Civil Administration," the army added."

Same-sex case: Justices?...or cowards?

The fact that the US Supreme Court has been hearing a case in relation to the right of same-sex partners to marry, has attracted world-wide attention - and certainly much coverage in America. 

From what has been reported of the hearing itself it would appear that so-called 9 learned justices have been exceedingly reluctant to "do their job" of deciding the case.     Justices or cowards? is the question Maureen Dowd poses in her column in The New York Times.

"As the arguments unfurled in Tuesday’s case on same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court justices sounded more and more cranky.

Things were moving too fast for them.

How could the nine, cloistered behind velvety rose curtains, marble pillars and archaic customs, possibly assess the potential effects of gay marriage? They’re not psychics, after all.

“Same-sex marriage is very new,” Justice Samuel Alito whinged, noting that “it may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing.” If the standard is that m…

Cyprus. Author of its own misfortune

We all watch what is going on in Cyprus - and wonder what the fall-out beyond that island will be for both Europe and beyond.      The Cypriots say the Germans are to blame for their present plight.   But are they?   This piece in The Independent gives the low-down on how the Cypriots have no one else to blame but themselves for the predicament they now find themselves in.

"The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is, apparently, “a fascist”. He has earned this epithet from a Cypriot newspaper for making the following observation about the bail-out of that country: “Anyone who invests money in a country where taxes are low and supervision is weak should suffer the consequences when the banks and the country itself cease to be viable.”

Tough? Yes. Lacking in even a glimmer of sympathy? Afraid so. But fascist? Come off it. Yet this sort of language – pointedly linking the current government in Berlin to that of the Third Reich – is now pervasive. Thus the President of the Cypru…

Legitimate protest = possible dire and barbaric consequences

It is hard for anyone in the West, not of Muslim faith, to comprehend the consequences of one woman's protest in Tunisia.    The Age reports in this piece "Is this photo grounds for death?"

"Two weeks ago, a young Tunisian woman known only by the name “Amina” posted political self portraits to Facebook to protest the continued oppression of women in the Arab world’s first democracy.

Posing topless, one photo featured Amina smoking with the Arabic declaration “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of the honor of anyone” scrawled across her chest; the other showed Amina standing defiantly, her middle fingers raised to camera, and the English words “F--- your morals” blaring out from her body.

Today, Amina is in a psychiatric hospital, admitted there against her will by family members who’ve expressed shame over her actions. Her aunt appeared in a YouTube video to declare, “Amina does not exist anymore for me. She is responsible for her acts, and we are devastate…

The stark realities of inequality

True it is that the figures in this piece on AlterNet apply to the USA - bear in mind as you read the piece that this is supposed to be the country of equal opportunity - but almost certainly it will equally apply, perhaps with some variations, to other nations.

"Any of the ten richest Americans could pay a year's rent for all of America's homeless with their 2012 income.

The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.

1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour

Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by  $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week. They used some of the money to try to  kill renewable energystandards around the country.

Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more …

The real cost of industrialised food

Those living in so-called wealthy countries take the availability and variety of food as almost a given.     But there are all manner of costs associated with the food we eat.    Just reflect on the figures, and the nature and extent of them, as detailed in this piece on Other Worlds.

"The objective of much of our industrial food system is to provide a profit to shareholders and CEOs. Coca-Cola’s advertising budget was over $2.9 billion dollars in 2010, money well spent from a stockholder’s point of view: profits that year were $11.8 billion.

The current system, however, was not built only to amass wealth. Many policymakers and supporters, historically as today, have been driven by the conviction that industrial agriculture is the best way to produce massive amounts of affordable food. And in some ways it has accomplished this. People in the U.S. spend relatively little on food – about 7 percent of their total spending, as compared to 13 percent in France, 23 percent in Mexico, an…

What do those people in the Tea Party have in their tea, or whatever they're on?

If this isn't plain crazy, it's hard to think what betters it!    Fromtruthdig.

"The tea party is under the delusion—the latest in a series of a many—that Fox News, the right-wing’s treasured network for all things skewed and biased toward conservatives, is making a hard turn to the left (spoiler: It’s not). As a result, a number of tea partyers have begun boycotting the Republican-leaning news network.

They’ve also issued a list of demands that reads like a report from the satirical publication The Onion, including that Fox News “be the right-wing CBS News: to break stories, to break information, and to do what news organizations have always done with such stories: break politicians.” They also want the network to devote at least one segment to discussing last year’s deadly Benghazi attack on two of its prime-time shows every night and allot sufficient resources to investigating President Obama’s birth certificate.

“We need Fox to turn right,” boycott participant Stan Hj…

Don't like the story? Kill it!

There is little doubt that much of the media were boosters for and supporters for an  invasion of Iraq.   It is to their shame that they swallowed, hook, line and sinker, much of the rubbish and lies fed to them by the politicians.     Take The Washington Post as just one non-questioner of Bush and his cronies pronouncements before war was unleashed on Iraq. 

So, here we are 10 years after the start of the war- and some introspection.       It's obvious that The Washington Post certainly doesn't want people reminded of its failures as part of the Fourth Estate before the Iraq War.

"Following the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, The Washington Post thought it might be a good idea to have someone write about how the media's role during that time impacted the Bush administration's ability to galvanize a nation towards war. They thought it was a good idea, that is, until they were seemingly reminded how integral a part of that effort they themselves were …

Birth defects: America's shameful legacy in Iraq

The use of armaments which maim, and kill, is bad enough.  Using bullets and other arms which utilise chemicals is scandalous.    Step up USA military to what has been "left" in Iraq.

"Amidst the horrors we have visited upon the people of Iraq is this: Toxic contamination from depleted uranium munitions - bullets, bombs, explosives - is causing a sharp rise in unheard-of birth defects, along with cancer and a host of kidney, lung, liver, immune system illnesses and miscarriages. Officials estimate that between 2002 and 2005, U.S. armed forces expended six billion bullets, many filled with deadly metal contaminants - lead, uranium,  mercury - still in the environment. Of the resulting birth defects, doctors say "there are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we've never seen them until now." We concur: There are no words.    Warning: Very disturbing photos.

"I ask (people in the U.S.) to ask their government not to hurt pe…

Guns, guns and more guns

As truthdig rightly describes it, a "chilling" graphic and piece in The Huffington Post about gun deaths in the USA since Newtown .


"A chilling infographic by The Huffington Post shows 2,243 Americans have been killed with guns in the 98 days that had passed as of Friday since the massacre in Newtown, Conn. The deaths appear by name and location, and links are provided to the news articles that reported them."

Read The Huffington Post here.

Debunk and malign the messenger.....and ignore the message!

Name-calling seems to be the new paradigm.   Debunk and malign the messenger and ignore the message.    The Israelis and the Israel/Jewish Lobby are particularly good at it.    Throw up any epithet (anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist, self-hating Jew, etc. etc.) - just ignore the message.

It's a topic taken up my Glenn Greenwald in his latest piece "How Noam Chomsky is Discussed" in The Guardian.

"One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed "crazy", as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually "crazy" are the political orthodoxies t…

Two sides (really?) to drone deaths

Not for the first time does FAIR highlights how reporting is being distorted in the so-called responsible press.   This time it's The Washington Post.

"A March 15 piece in the Washington Post tells us that the UN's special human rights envoy found that the CIA's drone strikes in Pakistan violate that country's sovereignty. It also told readers that the drones had "resulted in far more civilian casualties than the U.S. government has recognized."

Unfortunately, that message was muddled by reporter Richard Leiby's he said/she said approach to the question of civilian deaths:

Estimates of total militant deaths and civilian casualties vary widely. Independent confirmation is difficult in part because the strikes often occur in remote, dangerous tribal areas where Taliban insurgents and Al-Qaeda and its allied militants are active.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London has estimated that at least 411 civilians–or as many as 884–were among some 2,5…

What do ya know! The Americans trained Iraqis for torture centres

On one level from left-field, but then again not at all surprising.     The country, America, which claims to be a bastion of decency, the rule of law, democratic principles, etc. etc. revealed as having trained Iraqis for torture centres.   And it even involves good ol' General Petraeus.

"A shocking new report by The Guardian and BBC Arabic details how the United States armed and trained Iraqi death squads that ran torture centers. It is a story that stretches from the U.S.-backed death squads in Central America during the 1980s to the imprisoned Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. We play extended excerpts of "James Steele: America’s Mystery Man in Iraq," which exposes the role the retired U.S. colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played in training Iraqi police commando units. "We spent maybe six months trying to track down young American soldiers who served in Samarra," says the film’s executive producer,…

Afghanistan: No mission accomplished (even remotely) there

Just reflect on the lives lost, the maimed and injured, lives disrupted, people simply uprooted and physical damage to property.   And that's just the beginning of what encompasses the Afghan war.   The whole thing can best be characterised as a disaster, on every level, and all too sadly the poor Afghanis left to pick up the mess.

"On the eve of the huge drawdown of US forces scheduled for next year, Afghanistan's police, military, judicial and financial institutions are inadequate and dysfunctional. President Obama's unspoken strategy is retreat from an unwinnable war, the perpetuation of which has actively damaged US interests and prestige in the region.

"We will declare victory and get out, just as we always do," said Graham Fuller, former vice chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, noting that a pervasive exhaustion permeates US thinking about the war. In other words, the United States is leaving with its "mission" not accomplis…

Only one way out of Gitmo. Dying!

America's, and Obama's, scandal and continuing shame....

"Death is increasingly looking like the only way out for detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison.

Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times on Friday:

"The United States Southern Command [SouthCom] has requested $49 million to build a new prison building at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for “special” detainees on top of other renovations it says are necessary since Congress has decided to keep it open indefinitely."

That $49 million is in addition to other multi-million dollar renovations at Guantánamo SouthCom listed as "necessary if the prison was to remain open for the indefinite future," Savage reports.

Despite signing an executive order to close the detention facility by January 2010, the new Obama administration "has actually abolished the office to close Guantánamo," and now "there's not even a person at the State Department trying to close it," said attorney Michael Ratner,…

The real Obama revealed. A poor record on most levels

There is now a body of informed opinion which holds that Obama is certainly no libertarian, that he is the worst president when it comes to the way whistle blowers are treated, he speaks much but delivers little and as a lawyer, many of the laws he has supported have curtailed liberties - and probably most importantly, he has failed his constituency over favouring the likes of Wall St.

"You have to hand it to Barack Obama when it comes to having it both ways: He never stops serving the ruling class, yet the mainstream media, from right to left, continues to pretend that he’s some sort of reincarnation of Franklin D. Roosevelt, fully committed to the downtrodden and deeply hostile to the privileged and the rich.

The president’s double game was never more adroit than during his most recent State of the Union address. Reacting to the speech, the right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer spoke on Fox News of Obama’s “activist government” beliefs and his penchant for “painting the Repub…

Obama speech in Israel. Nothing of note or consequence

+972 in "Obama's speech: Israel's Left and Right can be happy, and the occupation is here to stay" on Obama's main speech in Jerusalem.

"Still, without meaningful political actions, this was an empty effort. Everybody in Israel can be happy with the president’s speech: the Left heard all those niceties regarding peace, while the Right proved that the occupation has no cost, that the rift with the U.S. doesn’t exist and that denying the Palestinians their freedom is sustainable policy (examples here, here). At the end of the day, Netanyahu’s confrontational attitude has humbled the U.S. president and changed both his tactics and his goals on the Israeli/Palestinian issue. The prime minister payed a price for his politics, no doubt – seeing the president talking to Israelis over his head was surely unpleasant, and could further diminish his popularity – but Netanyahu was nevertheless able to maintain the status quo on the Palestinian issue, which is both someth…

No guns!

Credited to Pat Bagley, Cagle Cartoons, Salt Lake Tribune

These guys are looking for peace......

The media is beating up Obama's visit to Israel.     It's all hype and nothing will come of it.     Just look at the composition of the newly "minted" Israeli Cabinet, hurriedly sworn in barely in time before Obama's arrival.     Do any of them look like favoring peace with the Palestinians, let alone moving back from or out of the West Bank?

"Those who hoped that Barack Obama would be arriving in Israel to bang Israeli and Palestinian heads together, after four years of impasse in the peace process, will be sorely disappointed.

The US president’s trip beginning today may be historic – the first of his presidency to Israel and the Palestinian territories – but he has been doing everything possible beforehand to lower expectations.

At the weekend, Arab-American leaders revealed that Obama had made it clear he would not present a peace plan, because Israel has indicated it is not interested in an agreement with the Palestinians.

Any lingering doubts about Israel’…

Appalling billionaires

It's probably fair to say that many billionaires have reached that financial position because they are thoroughly disagreeable people, or even more likely, not all that kosher in their wheeling and dealing and business practices.

AlterNetprofiles 10 billionaires on the Forbes 2013 list.    It's not too-flattering a picture.    Let's just take two examples:

"It will hardly come as a surprise that the rich got richer in 2013. Didn’t happen to you, did it? The combined wealth of the world's billionaires hit an all-time high of 5.4 trillion, up from 4.6 trillion in 2012. 

The Forbes list of billionaires is brimming over with oligarchs, monopolists, thugs, miscreants, and hustlers. Not to mention right-wingers, narcissists, and parasitic predators. The only thing missing is the king of Mexian drug lords, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, whose assets were evidently too hard to calculate this year.

Putting together a list of the worst individuals in this group is a dau…

Ouch! Ignorant, clueless and dumb

Assuming the figures in this piece on AlterNet to be correct it is frightening to think how American's views and positions on anything - let alone who they vote for and based on what - are arrived at.  

"Six percent of Americans believe in unicorns. Thirty-six percent believe in UFOs. A whopping 24 percent believe dinosaurs and man hung out together. Eighteen percent still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Nearly 30 percent believe cloud computing involves…  actual clouds. A shockingly sad 18 percent, to this very day, believe the president is a Muslim. Aren’t they cute? And Floridian?

Do you believe in angels? Forty-five percent of Americans do. In fact, roughly 48 percent – Republicans and Democrats alike – believe in some form of creationism. A hilariously large percent of terrified right-wingers are convinced Obama is soon going to take away all their guns, so when the Newtown shooting happened and 20 young children were massacred due to America’s fetish for, obs…

A really long march....

The world has certainly changed.    There is even an Afro-American in the White House.

Just think and reflect on this......

On March 21, 1965, more than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began their march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

Nothing unknown here! We know the man is appalling

Who else but that awful man, Donald Rumsfeld - it's certainly not an "unknown" to know that he is an appalling man with no conscience or even grasp of the realities of the world - could tweet as follows?:

"As noted earlier, on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, marking a war that saw up to 134,000 Iraqi civilians killed and has cost the U.S. $2 trillion and counting, George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tweeted that “all who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”

Iraq War: Analysis, introspection, reflections and counting the cost

On one level it seems odd that it has taken the 10-year anniversary, this week, of the attack on Iraq, for there to now to be all the questioning, introspection, reflections and counting the cost of what on any view must be seen to have been, at the very least, bad judgement.   Of course we also now that what propelled the war were lies - principally those as enunciated by George Bush and his little acolyte Tony Blair.

A selection of some of the commentary:

From Democracy Now:

"On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we look at a massive new report by a team of 30 economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts and physicians about the Iraq War’s impact. "The Costs of War" report found the total number of people who have died from the Iraq War, including soldiers, militants, police, contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers and Iraqi civilians, has reached at least 189,000 people, including at least 123,000 civilians. Financially, the…

Obama in Israel: A mistake!

Obama arrives in Israel shortly.    Everyone seems agreed that the trip is useless.   The Palestinians are decidedly cool about it.   Informed commentary has it that the politics of the matter mean that nothing positive can come from the visit.     The New York Times even suggests that the Israelis are not going to be all that happy about how the West, including the USA, are considering dealing and negotiating something with the Iranians - whereas, as we all know, the Israelis would want to go into Iran and bomb its nuclear facilities.

Otherwise, Slate's take on the trip is more than "interesting".....

"Iran is accelerating its nuclear program. Syria’s gruesome civil war is beginning to bleed across its borders. Two years after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s political transition is, at best, dicey. And yet according to deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “more important” than all of that “in some respects” is that President Obama take this opportunity to “…

A bank.....for what?

Credited to Patrick Chappatte, Int. Herald Tribune

A blunt warning

The message and advice in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - rising temperatures will lead to more catastrophes like Katrina.    We are warned, wherever we might live.   It is, after all, only a small planet we all inhabit.

"Warming global temperatures have doubled the risk of "Katrina magnitude events," says a new study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By analyzing the dramatic and sudden increase in water levels—or storm surges—which occur as a result of fierce hurricane winds and low central air pressure, researchers have found that even a 'statistically downcast' estimate of a 1.8°F increase in global average surface temperatures would result in a two-fold to seven-fold increase in the risk of these devastating events.

The latest climate projections, however, are far more dramatic with estimates falling between 3.2°F and 7.2°F for global temperature increase by 2100.

“Our study shows tha…

The lie! They always knew!

With the tenth anniversary of the attack on Iraq this week, some navel gazing here and there, commentary and reflections on the war and the politicians who triggered it all - and some revelations.    The latest from The Guardian.    Look out for Tony Blair's response to a request for an interview.    Not only pathetic but highlights what a chameleon the man is and always was.

"Fresh evidence has been revealed about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein's foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.

Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was "active", "growing" and "up and running".

A special BBC Panorama programme aired on Monday night details how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD pr…

Rachel Corrie: A quest for justice after 10 years

This piece, from CounterPunch speaks for itself - and perhaps is apt to read as Obama visits Israel right now, the country always touted as the only democracy in the Middle East.  This piece should give the reader pause for thought about the so-called judicial "system" in  Israel.

"Ten years have now passed since we received the terrible phone call telling us our young friend Rachel Corrie was dead.  We had gone to see her off the drizzly winter day she left Olympia to work in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement.  We couldn’t know that we were seeing her for the last time, nor foresee the legacy she would leave as she said goodbye to her hometown, and stepped into history.

Rachel would be killed on March 16, 2003, crushed beneath an armored Israeli bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gazan border town of Rafah.

It seems likely that Rachel’s story would by now have faded from memory as just one more among the thousands…