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Freedom of expression on line in 2014

Troubling reading for those who care to have the news they read unrestrained by and from government censorship.    Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on the state of play around the world in 2014.

"In the midst of the global surveillance debate, talk of online censorship has often taken a backseat. Yet, all around the world, the inalienable right to freedom of expression is violated on a regular basis. While in 2014, issues such as terrorism and online harassment generated new discussions of speech rights, censorship of political and religious speech—as well as “obscenity” and content deemed a risk to “national security”—remains all too common.

A recent Guardian editorial declared online freedom to be “under attack” all around the world. Citing examples from serial offenders China and Russia, the authors state that “repressive techniques are being mimicked from one country to the next” and “repressive regimes have seized upon [surveillance by the US and UK] to introduce more on…

FAIR's 2014 P.U.-litzers

Thank God for FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).....

Each year FAIR looks back at the year and recalls some of the stinkiest media moments.   FAIR has just announced its 2014 P.U.-lizers.    Go here to read the entire List, but below just 2 samples....

We Are Awesome Award:  Andrea Tantaros, Fox News Channel
"The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome. We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome."
--Fox host Andrea Tantaros (12/9/14), on the release of the Senate investigation of CIA torture."

Wrong Victims Award: Diane Sawyer, ABC News
"On July 8, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer brought viewers the latest on the Israel/Gaza war: "We take you overseas now to the rockets raining down on Israel…. And here an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can, one woman …

Christmas Greetings.....kinda of!

I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to all my friends, but it is difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone....

So I met with my lawyer yesterday, and on his advice I wish to say the  following:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2015, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make o…

Another black youth is shot dead...and it's the same old story

Unless the Americans take decisive action to curb their gun laws and the police, there to enforce the law, not shoot to kill, are curbed in their shooting of young Afro-American young men, the US is going to be in for a torrid time as unrest rises in communities across the country.    The latest episode only highlights the issue....


"You hear someone say that at the scene of the death of yet another black teenager, Antonio Martin, shot by a cop at a Missouri gas station just two miles down from Ferguson; in newly released surveillance video, Martin appears to point a handgun at the cop before being gunned down, but many questions remain. Because we have been here before, the rest plays out, grim and stale: Martin  lay on the ground for two hours without medical attention; his mother wasn't allowed to see him; the cop had a body camera and dash-cam, both turned off, and a taser he chose not to use; the police chief said "bad choices were made" but the cop “responded …

A reflection for Christmas Day.....

Not everyone celebrates Christmas - although everyone, believer or not or of another faith, knows it is supposed to be a time of goodwill, peace and putting out a hand to one's neighbour.

Reflect, then, at this supposed time of goodwill, on the plight of the children of Aleppo, so graphically captured in this piece "For Innocents Lost" from Der Spiegel.


"The children of Aleppo have ears trained for the noises that accompany death, especially those who play in Salaheddin's last playground. It lies directly on the front. The next street over is in the firing line of regime snipers, which is why a barrier has been erected at the intersection next to the playground. The playground wall facing that side of the city is like a borderline between life and death. The odor of decomposing bodies sometimes hangs in the air nearby.

Peculiar rules for survival have been established in Syria. One of those is that the closer you are to the front, the lower the risk is from "…

Food sovereignty affects us all

Food and climate go in hand-in-hand.     Grain has analysed things and provides an eye-opener that every one ought to seriously reflect on.   It's our planet and we do want food to eat!

"How the industrial food system contributes to the climate crisis

Between 44% and 57% of all GHG emissions come from the global food system

Deforestation: 15-18%

Before the planting starts, the bulldozers do their job. Worldwide, industrial agriculture is pushing into savannas, wetlands and forests, ploughing under huge amounts of land. The FAO says the expansion of the agricultural frontier accounts for 70-90% of global deforestation, at least half of that for the production of a few agricultural commodities for export. Agriculture's contribution to deforestation thus accounts for 15-18% of global GHG emissions.

Farming: 11-15%

It is generally acknowledged that farming itself contributes 11-15% of all greenhouse gasses produced globally. Most of these emissions result from the use of industria…

So much for the Allies' success in Afghanistan

In recent weeks we have seen revelations of how the US - with the undoubted complicity of its allies - used torture as part of its war on terrorists.   We also know that even the pundits now acknowledge that it was all for nought.    No less troubling is the fact that having invaded, first Iraq, and then Afghanistan, that the whole enterprise has been a disaster on every level.   The allies might have withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan - well, in a fashion - but what they have left behind is disaster writ large.    The New York Times reports today on how the Taliban is back in Afghanistan - in an area the Americans thought secured.

"In a large swath of the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan, government centers are facing a long-dormant concern this winter: Four years after the American troop surge helped make such places relatively secure, they are back under threat from the insurgents.

The fighting in Helmand Province in the south has been particularly deadly, with over 1…

Where to post that Sony hack?

We are all acutely aware of hacking into Sony very recently, the personal email iclouded files of movie stars, the widespread hacking of bank and commercial company's web sites, etc. etc.   But what does all that mean in our daily discourse using the net?      Frank Bruni has reflected on it, as he discusses it in this piece "Hacking our Humanity" in The New York Times.

"But there’s a bigger picture, and it’s terrifying. We’re all naked. The methods by which we communicate today — the advances meant to liberate us — are robbing us of control. Smartphones take photos and record audio. Voice mail is violable. Texts wind up in untrustworthy hands (just ask Anthony Weiner). Hard drives and even the cloud have memories that resist erasure. And the Internet can circulate any purloined secret fast and infinitely far.

“Nothing you say in any form mediated through digital technology — absolutely nothing at all — is guaranteed to stay private,” wrote Farhad Manjoo, a technology…

It depends on with whom the relations are......

Credited to Nick Anderson, truthdig

Israel at the crossroads

There have been an increasing number of articles here and there dealing with how the upcoming Israeli election in March will be decisive in determining what is to become of the country.   All too sadly, the prognosis isn't good.   The latest piece "What Will Israel Become?" from today's New York Times is by regular columnist Roger Cohen.

“There is a growing uneasiness, social, political, economic,” Amos Oz, the novelist, told me in an interview. “There is a growing sense that Israel is becoming an isolated ghetto, which is exactly what the founding fathers and mothers hoped to leave behind them forever when they created the state of Israel.” The author, widely viewed as the conscience of a liberal and anti-Messianic Israel, continued, “Unless there are two states — Israel next door to Palestine — and soon, there will be one state. If there will be one state, it will be an Arab state. The other option is an Israeli dictatorship, probably a religious nationalist dictato…

US "Group Think" - Total absence of wise heads about Russia

You have to wonder!    Yes, Putin and his minions are up to no good here, there and everywhere, but is the path to trying to rein him in or reach some detente with him to bludgeon the Russian economy?   Obviously the US Congress, goaded on my Washington's neo-cons (the very people whose policies almost inevitably lead to disaster a la Iraq, etc .etc.) doesn't think so.  Take him and those pesky Russian on!    Might been seen as "doing something"....but wise?  

"Has anyone in Official Washington thought through the latest foreign policy “group think,” the plan to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia? All the “smart” people, including the New York Times editors, are rubbing their hands with glee over the financial crisis being imposed on Russia because of the Ukraine crisis, but no one, it seems, is looking down the road.

This reckless strategy appears to be another neocon-driven “regime change” scheme, this time focused on Moscow with the goal to take down Russian Pre…

It's downright dangerous being a journalist

We might like having the news brought to us in our living rooms - be it via TV, radio or the print media - but the dangers facing the journalists working out there to bring us that news has risen greatly.   The will come a time when unless they are foolhardy, journalists just won't venture into various countries or areas.

"2014 has been a grim year for journalists. Two leading press freedom groups have released their annual reports on the abuse and imprisonment of journalists around the globe and the evidence paints a world increasingly "barbaric" for those seeking to report on global events.

Reflecting what the group says is a "global surge in authoritarianism," the annual census by the international nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists has found that, for the third year in a row, more than 200 journalists are behind bars.

The CPJ report, published Wednesday, says that 220 journalists are currently in government custody, marking the second highest numb…

Doctors damned! What Hippocratic Oath?

Doctors are there to help people who are sick, physically and mentally.  What then to make of the various medicos so closely involved with the torturing of "prisoners" of the CIA?   Not much, say a group of medicos who have issued a damning indictment about their colleagues involved in or associated with the CIA's torturing activities.

"A group of doctors and ethicists has released a searing report (pdf) slamming medical professionals for playing an "essential" role in the CIA's torture program, thereby violating "the most fundamental duty of the healing professions" and potentially committing crimes against humanity.

Published by Physicians for Human Rights, the analysis comes a week after the release of the partially-redacted executive summary (pdf) of the Senate report on the CIA's widespread torture program—which includes water-boarding, sleep deprivation, killing by hypothermia, and the act euphemistically referred to as rectal feeding…

Wall St. gets its revenge

Outrageous is one word which comes to mind when one reads what the Republicans in the US Congress have done to secure the rogues (aka known as many of the banks supporting the GOP) on Wall St.

"On Wall Street, 2010 was the year of “Obama rage,” in which financial tycoons went ballistic over the president’s suggestion that some bankers helped cause the financial crisis. They were also, of course, angry about the Dodd-Frank financial reform, which placed some limits on their wheeling and dealing.

The Masters of the Universe, it turns out, are a bunch of whiners. But they’re whiners with war chests, and now they’ve bought themselves a Congress.

Before I get to specifics, a word about the changing politics of high finance.

Most interest groups have stable political loyalties. For example, the coal industry always gives the vast bulk of its political contributions to Republicans, while teachers’ unions do the same for Democrats. You might have expected Wall Street to favor the G.O.P., whi…

What irks air travellers

Who hasn't cursed about one or more of the following when traveling on a plane?

"If you don't bother to bathe before heading to the airport, you kick the back of the airline seat in front of you or you let your kids run wild in the cabin, you may be the most hated passenger on your flight.

Such behaviours were among the most annoying violations of airline etiquette cited in two separate studies released last week.

The second annual Airplane Etiquette Study, based on a survey by the travel website Expedia, named "rear seat kickers" as the most annoying etiquette violator, followed by "inattentive parents" and "aromatic passengers."

The Travel Pet Peeves Survey by Honeywell Aerospace listed the "smelly traveller" as the most offensive passenger.

The survey also found that 37 per cent of those who were questioned said they believe children should be placed in a designated section of the plane on flights longer than two hours.

Women were more…

A country, people and media which still has a lot to learn

There can be no denying that the siege in Sydney was a tragedy.     However, as this excellent piece "The Narrative Must Shift" from New Matilda so clearly shows, there is still a lot to be learnt by Australians about their Muslim compatriots.   As for the media, especially the scurrilous Murdoch press, the less said the better!

"The exploitation by media and some in our community of the events of the Lindt Cafe siege compel a different response, writes Randa Abdel-Fattah.

It’s an ISIS flag. No it’s not. It’s a flag with Islamic writing. Wait Islamic isn’t a language. Sydney is under siege. Well, actually a man has taken hostages in a chocolate cafe in Sydney. The police are working on the situation. No Ray Hadley is… no the police are… no Ray Hadley… Devices have been planted around the city. We’re not sure how we know this because no contact has been made with the gunman but let’s whip people into a frenzied panic anyway. People have evacuated nearby buildings… except …

Security gone awry - and illegal to boot!

Yes, there has been a hostage taking in Sydney with a tragic outcome, but that does not mean that countries can simply take the law into their hands and engage in the sort of conduct revealed in the recently released Report on the CIA's activities.   An excellent analysis on TomDispatch.com.

"It came from the top and that’s never been a secret.  The president authorized the building of those CIA “black sites” and the use of what came to be known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has spoken of this with a certain pride. The president’s top officials essentially put in an order at the Department of Justice for “legal” justifications that would, miraculously, transform those “techniques” into something other than torture.  Its lawyers then pulled out their dictionaries and gave new meaning to tortured definitions of torture that could have come directly from the fused pens of Franz Kafka and George Orwell.  In the process, they even managed to leave the definition of tor…

In Gallup Poll, The Biggest Threat To World Peace Is ... America?

Now this will come as a surprise to many, especially Americans.   America is the greatest threat to peace.  Double-standards - witness the recently released report on the CIA's activities to name but one example - cannot help but lead to Americans being seen for what they are.   Exceptionalism (which the US comes for itself) just won't fly in 2014!    Will things be better in 2015?  Unlikely!

"Is the most dangerous country in the world the United States of America? According to a new poll from WIN and Gallup International, the U.S. represents the largest threat to world peace today.

In their annual End of Year poll, researchers for WIN and Gallup International surveyed more than 66,000 people across 65 nations and found that 24 percent of all respondents answered that the United States “is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Pakistan and China fell significantly behind the United States on the poll, with 8 and 6 percent, respectively. Afghanistan, Iran, Israel…

Bush and Obama: Eyes wide Shut

Birds of a feather - Bush and Obama.      Troubling reading...... 

"On the second day of Barack Obama’s presidency, he prohibited most forms of physical torture. On the third, a CIA drone strike he authorized killed up to 11 civilians.

Those two data points explain one of the most remarkable aspects of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary of its report on torture and also likely point to what should be the report’s larger lesson: the purported absence of presidential leadership behind either the torture or the drone programs.

The 525-page executive summary of the Senate’s report, which was released to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 9, provides the most comprehensive description of the torture conducted as part of the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program in support of the war on terror. (The full 6,000-page report will remain classified for decades.) The summary portrays brutal torture that was also largely counterproductive for intelligence-gathering purposes. …

Freedom on the net in 2014

We almost take the internet, and ready access to it, for granted.   All too sadly, the Freedom House 2014 Report on internet freedom worldwide highlights how restrictions, limitations, etc are creeping in - in a loss, in all manner of ways, for all of us.

"Over the past decade, the influence of the internet as a means to spread information and challenge existing media controls has rapidly expanded. As events in the Middle East in 2011 demonstrated, the internet has also emerged as a crucial medium through which citizens can mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform. Fearing the power of the new technologies, authoritarian states have devised subtle and not-so-subtle ways to filter, monitor, and otherwise obstruct or manipulate the openness of the internet. Even a number of democratic states have considered or implemented various restrictions in response to the potential legal, economic, and security challenges raised by new media.

In order to illuminate these…

John Pilger: The Media and Propaganda

From New Matilda:

"The fourth estate has been sold off to private interests. What's needed is a fifth estate, one that watches the watchers and practices real journalism, John Pilger writes from London.

"Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted …

Egypt and Israel implicated in CIA's torture activities

Not really surprising that 2 nations the USA funds to a substantial degree, Egypt and Israel, are implicated in the CIA's torture activities - as now revealed in the Senate Report released yesterday.

"That the release in Washington of a dense 450 page report on CIA torture conducted a decade ago would provoke massive demonstrations in the Middle East all along struck me as unlikely. It could perhaps provoke small terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, but those groups are already plotting out attacks on US embassies and it is a little unlikely that they would suddenly be more motivated by this report, which doesn’t contain anything they did not already know or suspect.

Washington has invented its own ersatz Middle East, which bears little resemblance to the actual one, and which is mainly used to score points in inside-the-Beltway debates.

Most Egyptians appear to have been traumatized by the year (2012-2013) of Muslim Brotherhood rule, and support for the Brotherhood is li…

The 7 most shocking things from the CIA Report

Well, wadda you know!.......the CIA has been up to no good - aided and abetted by the likes of George Bush, Dick Cheney & Co.

To most observers the revelations of the CIA misconduct will come as no surprise.   It's egregious actions are simply catalogued in this piece from AlterNet.

1. Some detainees died as a result of interrogation.

In November 2002, an otherwise healthy detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility. The CIA's leadership acknowledged little knowledge of advanced interrogation techniques at the detention site where he was held.

2. The techniques were far more brutal than previously known.

Multiple CIA detainees subjected to the techniques suffered from hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and tried to mutilate themselves, the report says. On one occasion, a high-value al Qaeda suspect named Abu Zubaydah became completely unresponsive after a period of intense waterboarding. He had &qu…

The plight of 230 million children around the world

It is an oxymoron, but it is always the innocents who suffer.  And so it with children around the world caught up in one conflict or another, famine or now the Ebola epidemic.    The latest UNICEF Report paints a bleak picture for some 230 million children worldwide - said to be the worst situation ever.

"Charging that the world has largely looked the other way, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Monday released a new report which concludes 2014 was one of the worst years on record for the overall welfare of children, with over 15 million young people directly harmed by the world's worst conflicts and hundreds of millions more indirectly harmed.

According to the UNICEF statement (pdf), worsening unrest throughout many parts of the world has exposed increasing numbers of children to extreme violence, with war, disease, and other crises leading many to become targets of groups in conflict with one another, often recruiting them as soldiers or selling them into sla…

"Seeing" the world with blinkers on

Wherever we live, we all ought to be concerned as conference after conference in relation to climate change takes place somewhere in the world - a good excuse politicians and bureaucrats to roam around the world at taxpayer's expense - but nothing concrete is being done to alleviate, let alone attack, the ever-growing issue from our "spoiling" our planet.    All too sadly there simply isn't the will to do anything.    We will all lose out - as many are already are with wild fluctuations in weather patterns.

"There is nothing in history even remotely as momentous as what humankind is now doing in full knowledge of the facts – gradually destroying the habitability of large parts of the Earth for humans and other species by burning fossil fuels in ever-increasing quantities to meet our ever-increasing energy needs. Judging by present behaviour, our generation, while living in unprecedented material comfort, is leaving the task of adapting to an Earth four or six deg…

Bush Admin. spent billions on Iraqi army - with 50,000 "ghost" soldiers

Ah, how good to see the taxpayer's money flushed down the toilet.     And then governments claim they haven't money for health care, education, spending on infrastructure, etc. etc.

As if the Iraqi wasn't bad in itself - starting with the lies for launching it in the first place, ending with the tragedy which has befallen the country and the poor Allied military who fought there, apart from the huge cost of it all - an example of money wasted by the Bush Administration as detailed by Juan Cole in his newsletter informed COMMENT.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi announced to his parliament on Sunday that inspectors had uncovered 50,000 non-existent soldiers in four divisions of the Iraqi Army. Their pay was presumably being diverted to the officers in the division. This ziggurat of corruption was one reason the army collapsed on June 9, allowing Daesh (what Arabs derisively call ISIL) to take Mosul. The officers had many thousands fewer men than they claimed, and …

A bedroom sans gadgets = a happy relationship

The dratted mobile phone has intruded into everything, everywhere.   We have become a 24/7 life tethered to mobile phones and captive to being unable to "escape" to some solitude, smelling the roses and perhaps enjoying a meaningful relationship with a partner or one's children.

Now research shows that keeping gadgets out of the bedroom helps to have a happy relationship with one's partner.   Yeah!

"Sound the alarm: The good old-fashioned relationship is under attack from technology.

That seems to be the message from a growing body of psychology research examining how technology is affecting our love lives and friendships.

For many couples, technology is a double-edged sword. The “his” and “hers” towels have been replaced by smartphones that allow people to stay tethered all day, whether it’s to share shopping lists or heart-shaped emoji. But those same couples get into tiffs when one person pulls out a cellphone at dinner or clicks on the iPad before bed, forgoing…

Increase in deaths from chronic disease in poorer countries

Medicine has made gigantic strides in the last years - certainly in the West and other more affluent countries.    It therefore still surprises to read that a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations records an increase in deaths from chronic diseases in poorer countries.  Yet another example of the divide between rich and poor.

"Chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease are rising fast in low- and middle-income countries, striking far younger populations than in rich countries and causing much worse outcomes, according to a new report.

Deaths from chronic diseases have risen by more than 50 percent in low- and middle-income countries over the past two decades, according to the report, by the Council on Foreign Relations. The increase is part of a shift in global mortality patterns in which infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, have declined substantially and are no longer the leading cause of death in the developing world."

****

"Wor…

The tragic toll of the war in Syria

A man carries a young girl who was injured in a reported barrel-bomb attack by government forces on June 3, 2014 in Kallaseh district in the northern city of Aleppo
 The world's focus on what has been happening in Syria has moved to some disaster elsewhere - which doesn't mean that the ongoing war in Syria has lessened in any way.      France 24 provides an update of the tragedy that has befallen the people of Syria.

"We have documented the killing of 202,354 people since March 2011," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding that more than 130,000 of them were combatants.

"Of the total, 63,074 of the killed were civilians, including 10,377 children," said Abdel Rahman.

"Among the anti-regime fighters, 37,324 were Syrian rebels, while 22,624 were non-Syrian jihadists," he added.

"On the regime side, there were 44,237 soldiers, 28,974 members of the (paramilitary) National Defence Force, 624 members of (Lebanon…

Bribery: Top management is into it big time

The usual spin from corporations and governments when bribery raises its ugly head is that it was engaged in by a few rotten apples.   Not so, says a new report from no lesser a body than the OECD.

"The full scale of corruption involving multinational companies has been revealed by the west’s leading thinktank in a study that found most bribes were paid in developed countries and with the full knowledge of senior management.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said its examination of 400 deals over the past 15 years had shown the average bribe was worth almost $14m (£8.9m) – typically 11% of the value of the transaction.

Bribes were usually paid to win contracts from state-owned or controlled companies in the west, rather than in the developing world, and most bribe payers and takers were from wealthy countries, the 34-nation OECD said.

“Most international bribes are paid by large companies, usually with the knowledge of senior management,” th…

The GOP and the US Senate show how absurd they are

Wonderment at what people populate the GOP and are members of America's Senate.

"Congressional climate wars were dominated Tuesday by the U.S. Senate, which spent the day debating, and ultimately failing to pass, a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While all that was happening, and largely unnoticed, the House was busy doing what it does best: attacking science.

H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those pesky scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.

The bill is being framed as a play for transparency: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.

But the White House, which threatened to veto the bill, sa…

Tony Blair: The chameleon is given what award?

Save the Children in America either has blinders on or is simply bog ignorant.    To have given an award to Tony Blair as the Fund just has, has rightly drawn an avalanche of criticism and a large petitition, already, to revoke the award.

"International charity Save the Children is facing uproar, including from internal staff, for granting the "global legacy award" to former UK Prime Minister and Iraq War architect Tony Blair.

The award was given to Blair by the U.S. arm of the organization at a gala in New York City last week. Save the Children, which claims "protecting children from harm" as a key mission, lauded Blair for his alleged role heading anti-poverty initiatives at the 2005 Group of Eight summit in Scotland and for his "continued commitment to Africa."

The move unleashed a torrent of criticism, including a petition, with over 90,000 signatures so far, calling on Save the Children to revoke the award on the basis that Blair is seen by many as…

The new poor

Economists may well say that economies around the world are on the mend, but the realities on the ground seem markedly different.    Just look at Europe and the umemployed - and significantly so amongst young people.   And then there is the increase in poverty in the USA.   All around the world people are losing jobs in manufacturing as robots and lower-costing Asian nations do all manner of work sort at wages a fraction payable in the West.  

A new Report out in the UK shines a spotloght on what are being described as the new poor.   One can readily conclude that what is said to be the situation in England is replicated around the world in Western nations.

"In the 20th century, social reformers who wanted to find out more about “the condition” of the poor didn’t have to look far. In London, they took themselves off to the East End, in Glasgow, to the Gorbals. Of course, Britain had its genteel poor, whose plight was mined by a host of writers, from Trollope to Orwell. Generally, h…