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Showing posts from April, 2014

Executions go unchallenged let alone questioned

It's a dangerous and slippery slope when we learn (?) that people have been killed - by drones in a foreign country - with no explanation for that from the government and the media complicit, or plainly disinterested, in pursuing the matter by asking relevant questions of the powers-that-be.

"The news that the US had killed two Australian “militants” in a drone strike was announced in mid-April. Christopher Havard and “Muslim bin John”, who also held New Zealand citizenship, were allegedly killed by a CIA-led airstrike in eastern Yemen in November last year.

Readers were given little concrete information, apart from a “counter-terrorism source” who claimed that both men were foot soldiers for Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, though they may also have been collateral damage (the real target being other terror heads).

The Australian government claimed ignorance of the entire operation. “There was no Australian involvement in, or prior awareness of, the operation”, a spokesman sa…

One bigotted sleeze.....

Credited to Mike Luckovich

The shifts in employment in America

One suspects that what emerges from this piece in The Age ( reproduced from The New York Times ) - the shift in employment in the USA - mirrors the situation elsewhere.    

"The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish American recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.

In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analysing employment trends four years into the recovery.

"Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal," said Michael Evangelist, the report's author. "If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?"

The rep…

Forget about transparency

Things only get worse about people knowing what there government is up to.   Witness this example.

"The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Obama administration agree on this: the American people should not know the number of people killed by U.S. drone attacks overseas, nor should they hope to understand the circumstances under which such lethal killings are authorized or executed.

This high-level agreement was confirmed on Monday after a "modest" provision designed to add transparency to the US drone assassination program was killed in the Senate committee following objections by the Obama administration's intelligence chief.

“How many people have to die for Congress to take even a small step toward transparency? It's stunning that after all these years we still don't know how many people the Obama administration has killed with drones." —Zeke Johnson, Amnesty International

As The Guardian reports:

At the behest of the director of national intelligence, …

29 April comes and goes

You may not recall, but 29 April was the then projected end-date for the conclusion of the so-called Peace Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.      The informed view was that the talks would fail - as they have!     Of course, for the Israelis it has been convenient to protract the talks.    If one ever wanted evidence of how Israel has moved things along "on the ground" in the West Bank contrary to international law - even during the talks - proof comes to light today.

"Israel approved the construction of nearly 14,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during nine months of peace talks, the dovish Peace Now NGO said in a report released Tuesday, the day marking the formal expiration of the crisis-stricken Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

In a report published Tuesday morning, the left-wing watchdog Peace Now claimed that during the nine months of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s orchestrated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, t…

"Demented Tony Blair" loses grip on reality

Patrick Cockburn is a respected journalist, well-versed in the Middle East, having worked there for many years, who writes for The Independent.      In this piece in the newspaper "Demented Tony Blair recites the Saudis' creed in his latest speech" he rightly pillories Tony Blair - who seems to show himself up more and more as the empty chameleon he has always been - about his latest pronouncements.

"Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the core group of al-Qa'ida, may well chortle in disbelief if he reads a translation of Tony Blair's latest speech on the Middle East delivered last week. If Blair's thoughts are used as a guide to action, then the main beneficiaries will be al-Qa'ida-type jihadist movements. Overall, his speech is so bizarre in its assertions that it should forever rule him out as a serious commentator on the Middle East. Reading it, I was reminded of a diplomat in Joseph Conrad's Secret Agent called Mr Vladimir who fancies himself …

The effects of climate change there to be seen - on Mt Everest

Whilst the majority of scientists (said to be some 97%) maintain that there is a clear evidence of climate-change underway, and effecting all manner of things (from temperatures to the growth of crops or decimation of grape vines, etc) to actually see what climate change has wrought isn't always that easy.     Step up to the plate Mt Everest.



"I think we’re all still a little used to thinking of our Earth’s processes – including geology and climate change – as vague and temporally distant phenomena. But if you want to witness how they actually play out everyday, spend a couple of seasons on a glaciated mountain. On Everest, it’s as simple as this: Snow and ice are the glue that holds the route up the south col together. When that glue melts, things literally start to fall apart. And while scientists say global temperatures have risen .75 degrees C (1.4 degrees F) in the last century, studies show temperatures in the Himalaya have risen at a rate three times that.

The avalanche …

The internet as we know it under real threat

If you value the internet, and your ready access to it, be aware that there are moves afoot to change things quite dramatically - and in the next weeks.

"....the FCC will say – loud and proud – that it is fixing the open-web problem while actually letting it get worse, by providing a so-called "fast lane" for carriers to hike fees on sites trying to reach customers like you and me. Which, inevitably, would mean you and I start paying more to use those sites – if we aren't already.

This is a potentially tragic turning point in American politics and policy. We are on the verge of turning over the internet – the most important communications system ever invented– to telecoms that grew huge through the government granting them monopoly status. Barring a genuine shift in policy or a court stepping in to ensure fair treatment of captive customers – or better yet, genuine competition – companies like Verizon and Comcast will have staggering power to decide what bits of infor…

Transparency goes AWOL in Washington

The politicians and bureaucrats are increasingly moving to prevent government policies and departmental decisions seeing the light of day.   The latest outrage - in Washington of all places where Obama once vowed that he is for more open government - that will letting us know what is going on even harder.   The Guardian reports in "DC Thinks It Can Silence a New Snowden, But the Anti-Leak Hypocrisy is Backfiring"

"After Edward Snowden caught the US government with its pants down, you would think the keepers of this country's secrets might stand up for a little more transparency, not bend over backwards trying to control the message.

Instead, this week we found out the Most Transparent Administration in American History™ has implemented a new anti-press policy that would make Richard Nixon blush. National intelligence director James Clapper, the man caught lying to Congress from an "unauthorized" leak by Snowden, issued a directive to the employees of all 17 …

Israeli postering - and lies coming up

The inevitable has happened.  Those supposed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians - brokered by the less-than-neutral Americans - have not only floundered but look like being totally off the rails for the foreseeable future.

Writing in "Bibi's Peace-Talk Halt: Bad Tactic — or Bad Faith?" in Forward J. J. Goldberg says that "Israel’s decision today to suspend peace talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization, in response to yesterday’s Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, is really three distinct decisions. One is sensible. The second is understandable if questionable. The third is inexcusable."

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"Still, it’s the third part of today’s Israeli security cabinet decision, as reported in the Israeli press, that spells real danger. That’s the tentative plan, according to Ynet, Nana10 and other outlets, to “launch an international media campaign aimed at blackening the name” of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.

Accord…

We may have to think about birds..... without the bees. An SOS!

"Bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in ecosystems. A third of all our food depends on their pollination. A world without pollinators would be devastating for food production.

Who would pollinate all the crops? Hand-pollination is extremely labour-intensive, slow and expensive. The economic value of bees’ pollination work has been estimated around € 265 billion annually, worldwide. So, also from a purely economic point of view, it pays to protect the bees."


So, starts a campaign by Greenpeace to save the bees around the world.

The Situation
Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of bees, and report unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies.
The Causes
Insecticides in particular pose the most direct risk to pollinators. As their name indicates, these are chemicals designed to kill insects, and they are widely applied in the environment, mostly around cropland areas.

Two insights into India as it goes to the polls

As we know, India is a very large country and is said to be the largest democracy in the world.    Even so, it is still dogged with old attitudes and customs.

Two pieces provide an insight into modern-day India as it goes to the polls in an election.

First, from an Indian journalist writing in The Age in "Indian election: Hidden wife is a good wife":

"The ideal woman does not assert herself, merely accepts what comes her way.

This belief explains why any woman who is the antithesis of this image – attractive, wears sexy clothes, goes out at night, socialises with men – gets no sympathy if she is sexually assaulted or raped.

An under-age rape victim in Kerala was recently given short shrift by her community because she was raped after going to see an evening show at the local cinema with her sisters. She had no business going out for an innocent pleasure.  

The victim of the Delhi gang rape, had she lived, would also have been criticised in many quarters for going out in the …

The Ukraine: Who's the "intellectual" pygmy here?

How to resolve issues between countries - not!   Senator John McCain - who, thankfully, didn't make it into the White House - makes a bog-ignorant statement about the present issues in and with the Ukraine.    Dumb and dumber!  The writer of this piece in Information Clearing Housesuggests a way through the Ukrainian impasse.

"President Putin keeps bringing up history to justify his assertive policies towards Ukraine and Crimea. This annoys Americans, who know little about history and refuse to accept Russia as a great power- and certainly not as an equal.

Recently, Sen. John McCain, the voice of America’s ignorant right, sneered that Russia was merely “a gas station masquerading as a country.” Gas stations do not produce the likes of Tolstoy, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, or the very smart Vlad Putin. They do, however, produce puny intellects like McCain.

Just as Russia provided the US with a diplomatic exit from blundering into a war with Syria, so the Kremlin is again …

The ever-present problem...

Credited to R.J. Matson, editorial cartoonist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Roll Call.

Tragic! Austerity in Greece leads to suicide

Tragic!    New research concludes that austerity - now so prevalent in many countries, especially in the so-called West, around the world - leads to many people in Greece committing suicide.   As we witness many countries with 99% having the wealth whilst the 1% are poor and even "going backwards", Governments are on notice that they can't turn a blind eye to austerity.

"As governments across the world slash public goods in the name of austerity, a new study finds that such measures in Greece directly correspond with a rise in suicides among males.

"Entitled The Impact of Fiscal Austerity on Suicide: On the Empirics of a Modern Greek Tragedy, the study was published in April by University of Portsmouth researchers in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

The torrent of austerity measures following the 2008 global recession led to an increase in male suicides. According to the findings, between 2009 and 2010, 551 men in Greece took their lives "solely due …

The F.... You Protest

A protest set to deservedly not only make a strong point but be noticed!

"If You Thought Keystone Was Bad Dept: If approved, Keystone will emit about 24.3 million tons of greenhouse gases, or 1.2 billion over its 50-year life. If approved, two mega coalmines in Austraia will emit triple that, or 3.7 billion tons. In honor of that appalling figure and an upcoming National Day of Divestment, action groups have released a terrific new video announcing the coal industry's new Fuck You policy, a "philosophy where we are able straddle the dichotomy between what we know is true and how we can benefit by ignoring that truth."

"As one of the major contributors to co2 emissions and as we begin to contend with the real world effects of climate change, we have to prepare ourselves for the next step in addressing our corporate responsibilities in this area. We recognize what we call "The Gap" - the problem of simultaneously holding two contradictory positions. On on…

Condi Rice.....a woman worthy of condemnation

Paid US$150,000 to give a 45 minute address at a University?    Who?  None other than Condi Rice, one-time Secretary of State in the George Bush Administration.    But wait, it gets worse...


"Like most of the other thugs of her era, Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is much in the profitable public eye these days. She just made an appearance at the University of Minnesota - as part of a civil rights-themed lecture series called “Keeping Faith with a Legacy of Justice,” yet - despite student protests, attendees dressed in Gitmo jumpsuits, and a petition signed by 200 faculty charging she bears "bears responsibility for substantial violations of civil liberties and civil rights." Paid $150,000 for her 45-minute speech, she casually alluded to the ongoing controversy about “things we were involved in" but argued, “We kept the nation safe,” except for that little incident at the World Trade Centers, which got no mention. She is also a  recently announced n…

Acting with impunity.....and immunity from prosecution

Hard-hitting piece "Too Big to Jail? - Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washington" on TomDispatch how members of the national security state in the US are fairly much free to act however they wish without any checks - and with almost certain immunity from prosecution.

"With Cartwright as a possible exception, the members of the national security state, unlike the rest of us, exist in what might be called “post-legal” America.  They know that, no matter how heinous the crime, they will not be brought to justice for it.  The list of potentially serious criminal acts for which no one has had to take responsibility in a court of law is long, and never tabulated in one place.  Consider this, then, an initial run-down on seven of the most obvious crimes and misdemeanors of this era for which no one has been held accountable."

Here come the oligarchs

One need not look far to see that what is being put here (see below) isn't that far-fetched.   All around the world - notably in Europe, the UK and the USA - there are large numbers of unemployed people (many of them young) and the rich getting richer by the day (in inverse proportion to the other 99% of the polulation who are treading water or going backwards financially) so that capitalism, as we know it, may not be a long-term survivor.

"The median pay for the top 100 highest-paid CEOs at America’s publicly traded companies was a handsome $13.9 million in 2013. That’s a 9 percent increase from the previous year, according to a new Equilar pay study for The New York Times.

These types of jumps in executive compensation may have more of an effect on our widening income inequality than previously thought. A new book that’s the talk of academia and the media, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows …

The New York Times wanting - yet again!

The position of The New York Times in relation to what it reports with respect to Israel is, yet again, shown to be sorely wanting.    Not a newspaper of record - and certainly not adhering to its own banner and tag of "All the News Fit to Print".

"The New York Times made a rare admission that it submits to Israeli state gag orders, fueling charges from critics that the globally-influential publication plays fast-and-loose with journalistic ethics to give favorable coverage to Israel.
The revelation emerged when the The Times delayed its coverage of the Israeli detention of a Palestinian journalist, due—as it turns out—to a gag order from an Israeli court.

The blackout came to light when journalists who did not heed the gag order exposed the detention and media censorship. The Times's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, then elicited an admission from her own publication that it complies with Israeli media blackouts as a matter of policy.

Gagging Coverage of Journalist&#…

No Christian charity (Easter or otherwise) from these men.....

Australia's Age newspaper reveals today (see here) that half of the Australia's Federal Government cabinet is of the Catholic faith.   Hard to reconcile brotherly love and charity said to be part of the credo of these cabinet ministers, with what The Age also publishes today in an article about the absolutely scandalous, callous, inhumane and appalling way in which asylum seekers - which the PM and his Ministers continue to call "illegals" - are treated on Christmas Island, and other detention centres.     One would have thougth that Pope Francis would not be supporting his Catholic brethren's policies and conduct Down Under.

"Christmas Island is a remote island, surrounded on all sides by vast expanses of ocean, and is much closer to Indonesia than mainland Australia. Health services are extremely limited. Despairing at who to turn to, many parents showed us their babies’ symptoms and asked for our help to have them treated. At least one family has been told…

Making big money from climate change

It's a subject very much under the radar, but a recently published book reveals how many corporations, and individuals, are already looking to,and are, lever off climate change as an avenue to making a lot of money.    Author McKenzie Funk in The Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, details what is actively going on right now.  TheScientific American explains what the book addresses as follows:

"Can climate change make for good business? Entrepreneurs all over the world are counting on it, claims journalist Funk in his new book Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming. The effects of a shifting climate, he says, can be divided into melt, drought and deluge (that is, rising sea levels), each of which would mean big paydays for different industries. From companies in Israel using by-products of massive desalination plants to capitalize on ski resorts in need of fake snow, to private firefighters working for California insurance companies, to Dutch architect…

Memory......and justice delayed is justice denied

Justice simply cannot be left to pass because of the passage of time - and memory - as this op-piece in The New York Times so clearly shows.

"In most countries, there is no statute of limitations for murder. Should there be one for torture? In Spain, neither charge can be brought against anyone who worked for the harsh, long-lasting regime of Francisco Franco, because of an amnesty law that eased the country’s transition to democracy after the dictator’s death in 1975.

But the case of Antonio González Pacheco, a notorious torturer from the last years of Franco’s military rule, is raising thorny questions. A former prisoner named José María Galante was startled last year to discover that Mr. Pacheco, alive and spry enough at 67 to be a long-distance runner, was living not far from him in Madrid.

Mr. Galante wants justice: He says Mr. Pacheco beat him on the genitals, waterboarded him and punched him while he was suspended from the ceiling in handcuffs. But the amnesty law means that …

The "missing" women in Iraq's election

Whether Iraq will have what might be considered a truly democratic election is a moot point, but as this piece in Le Monde diplomatique details, the position of women in that election - and the wider "life" of Iraq  - is extremely poor, to say the least.

"Women MPs have not just approved regressive laws, they have failed to raise essential issues such as that of women prisoners who have been detained illegally and subjected to torture, beating, and sexual and personal abuse. According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report for 2014 (titled “No One is Safe in Iraq”), the number of women prisoners and detainees in Iraq is 4,500. The report also says that women suffer a double burden due to their second-class status in Iraqi society.

The abuse of women by the Iraqi security forces and violations of their rights by the judiciary have become increasingly contentious issues. When this was raised in parliament, after campaigns by HRW and other international organisations, some wom…

The New Yorker nails it!

The New Yorker in "The Snowden Pulitzer" on the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to The Washington Post and The Guardian...

"Awarding the Pulitzer for public service to the Guardian and the Washington Post should go down as about the easiest call the prize committee has ever had to make. It would have been a scandal, this year, if there had been no Pulitzer related to the documents that Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, leaked to several reporters. This was a defining case of the press doing what it is supposed to do. The President was held accountable; he had to answer questions that he would rather not have and, when his replies proved unsatisfying to the public—and, in some cases, just rang false—his Administration had to change its policies. Congress had to confront its own failures of oversight; private companies had to rethink their obligations to their customers and to law enforcement; and people had conversations at home and at school and …

Kerry fails! Then what?

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah and serves as a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. Tony Klug is a veteran Middle East analyst and a special advisor to the Oxford Research Group.

Writing in Le Monde diplomatique they raise a not unimportant question.   If Secretary of State Kerry fails in his peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, then what?    The authors make some sensible suggestions.

"Suppose the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, fails to cajole the Israeli and Palestinian leaders into finally ending their conflict. What would happen next?

A tsunami of pent-up animosities is likely to be unleashed, with each side holding the other responsible for the failure and calling for retribution. Attempts to indict and isolate each other would gather pace and violence might return with a vengeance. The toxins let loose will inevitably have global spillover.

For over twenty years process has trumped outcome, but it …

Kick back and relax.....

Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover or nothing at all, kick back and enjoy the Easter-break.....and reflect on the beauty of the scene below and how great it would be to be there.


Afghanistan: Not ready to govern on its own

It is no wonder that the US State Department tried to hide a report which concludes that Afghanistan isn't ready to govern on its own.    A real surprise?    Hardly!    The Washington Times reports...

"Confidential U.S. assessments, which the State Department tried to hide from the public, show nearly all Afghan Cabinet ministries are woefully ill-prepared to govern after the U.S. withdraws its troops, often describing the gaps in knowledge, capability and safeguards as “critical” and describing an infrastructure in danger of collapsing if left to its own accord.

The State Department USAID reports, obtained by The Washington Times, paint a sobering portrait about the impact of the billions of dollars the U.S. has spent on nation-building over the past decade.

Treated as a whole, the reports suggest that the U.S. spending has yet to create a sustainable civilian government in Afghanistan and, in some cases, has been diverted to corrupt politicians or extremists looking to destabi…

An ever-diminishing Amazon

Almost every day sees a revelation of something, somewhere, in the way in which there has been defoliation of our planet.    The latest, as emerges from this piece from The New York Times.

"A global forest mapping system developed by a team of scientists from the University of Maryland, Google and the United States government is now able to pinpoint exactly where and at what rate deforestation is occurring around the world. The results are alarming. The world is losing the equivalent of 50 soccer fields of forest every minute. In Brazil — home to 60 percent of the Amazon rain forest and a major component of the planet’s climate system — the rate of deforestation jumped 28 percent during 2012-13. Environmentalists say a 2012 change in Brazil’s regulations governing forest conservation is partly responsible.

Brazil had been making good progress. From a high of 10,588 square miles in 2004, deforestation dropped to 1,797 square miles in 2011; the number of metric tons of carbon dioxide…

Britain's shocking food poverty

One has to wonder how long people will accept the rich getting richer (vastly!) whilst a significant pocket of the population is suffering from food poverty.   Aside from the inhumanity of it all, and plain indecency about such a situation coming about, the fallout, on a variety of levels, of food poverty cannot be under-estimated.   The latest shocking state of things in Britain, is revealed in this piece in The Independent.

"The shocking scale of food poverty in Britain is exposed today by new figures showing record numbers of people are reliant on handouts because of punitive benefits sanctions.

More than 900,000 people were given emergency food in the past year, an increase of 163 per cent, according to figures from the Trussell Trust, the biggest food bank charity. The explosion in demand has coincided with an increase in those seeking help following a benefit sanction.

A coalition of anti-poverty charities, including the Trussell Trust, claims the figures show that the UK is b…

Sorely missing! Responsibility, priorities and decency - amongst others

Only one thing to do when one reads this..... Gasp!    From CommonDreams.

"Surreal: Charging that possible perps "broke the law and should be prosecuted,” aggrieved  Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein is investigating, and calling on the Department of Justice to investigate, the dastardly leak to McClatchy of conclusions of the still-unreleased, $40 million, 6,600-page report that contradicts pretty much everything the CIA has ever said about its infamous torture program - a report that finds the CIA repeatedly lied about torture “brutal and far worse” than previously known, entailing years of practices “inconsistent with (U.S.) public policy positions regarding human rights" that would likely legally and morally "be deemed wanton and unnecessary," never mind that "measuring (their) effectiveness was challenging," which is to say, the torture didn't work. Still, now the Senate is scandalized not by the crimes committed in our nam…

The Americans in the Ukraine

From RuNet Echo, aGlobal Voices project to interpret the Russian language internet:

"Tensions are high in eastern Ukraine, where the first bullets are flying in what could become a major armed conflict. The violence might be only starting, but an information war between Russia and the West has raged for months now. Clearly frustrated with Moscow’s actions in eastern Ukraine, the US State Department openly denounced Russian propaganda yesterday, April 13, 2014, listing ten “false claims about Ukraine” by the Kremlin. The American government published a similar list last month, on March 4, criticizing Russian claims about Crimea.

The biggest audience for “the Russian propaganda machine,” as the State Department calls it, is undoubtedly Russia's own population. US officials showed little interest in appealing to Russian speakers, however, publishing both lists in English only. There appears to be no official Russian translation of the press release, though several media outlets h…

The Right in Europe

From

Are Iran and Israel trading places?

The headline to this piece may surprise, but this op-ed piece in The New York Times raises more than interesting questions of how things are changing in both Iran and Israel.    Needless to say, those changes may well reflect the on-going shift in the geo-political situation in the Middle East.

"Although the Israeli and Iranian governments have been virtually at war with each other for decades, the two countries have much in common.

Both are home to some of the oldest civilizations on earth, and both are primarily non-Arab states in a mostly Arab region. In the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion’s Israel and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s Iran were bastions of secular nationalism; the shah pushed authoritarian modernization, while Ben-Gurion advanced a form of nonreligious Zionism. Only after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran did radical Islam all but eclipse this secular brand of politics. It held on for much longer in Israel but is now under threat.

Both Iran and Israel are now entering pote…

A well-deserved award

There will be many who will be outraged by the award - think governments like the US, UK and Australia to name a few - but plaudits to The Guardian for winning a Pulitzer for publishing the Snowden revelations.

"The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden."

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"The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

Snowden, in a statement, said: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their co…

The very ugly side of politics in Greece

"Nearly 80 years after the end of World War II and the downfall of Adolf Hitler, Nazism is very much 'alive and kicking' right across Europe.

In fact, neo-Nazi groups are on the rise again.

They're well-organised, often violent and they're muscling into mainstream politics.

Nowhere more so than in Greece, where the economic crisis has offered fertile ground for neo-Nazis.

The extremist Golden Dawn group is now a dangerous political force, in the country that invented democracy."


Go here to see an Australian 60 Minutes report on Golden Dawn.   Frightening!

Desmond Tutu's call to arms

The message is loud and clear......from none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner......

"Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse. No more can it be dismissed as science fiction; we are already feeling the effects.

This is why, no matter where you live, it is appalling that the US is debating whether to approve a massive pipeline transporting 830,000 barrels of the world's dirtiest oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Producing and transporting this quantity of oil, via the Keystone XL pipeline, could increase Canada's carbon emissions by over 30%.

If the negative impacts of the pipeline would affect only Canada and the US, we could say good luck to them. But it will affect the whole world, our shared world, the only world we have. We don't have much time.

This week in Berlin, scientists and public representatives have been weighing up radical options for curbing e…

Er, yes!

Credited to Mike Luckovich

An example to follow......unplugging!

As we kick back over a weekend, there is surely a lesson to be learned here......

"French IT staff at Google, Facebook and other companies have won new protections against burnout: the right to unplug.

A new agreement with employers gives more than 300,000 tech-sector workers added guarantees that the "always connected" lifestyle enabled by smartphones won't infringe on their rights under France's famous 35-hour workweek.

Union official Michel de la Force said the deal didn't mean staff would be forced to turn off their phones at 6pm, as some media have reported.

"They haven't read the agreement," De la Force said.

The deal gives workers at risk of burnout a right to disconnect, but does not change their working hours. The deal also only covers workers, such as consultants, who already have flexible schedules, not employees on fixed shifts.

The agreement between two French unions and two employers' federations for the technology and consulting in…

A timely call to John Kerry

Hardly a group of people to ignore, write, in effect, an open letter to John Kerry - on Politico Magazine- in relation to the now, once again, so-called peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
"We commend Secretary of State John Kerry’s extraordinary efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian talks and negotiations for a framework for a peace accord, and the strong support his initiative has received from President Barack Obama.

We believe these efforts, and the priority Kerry has assigned to them, have been fully justified. However, we also believe that the necessary confidentiality that Secretary Kerry imposed on the resumed negotiations should not preclude a far more forceful and public expression of certain fundamental U.S. positions:

Settlements: U.S. disapproval of continued settlement enlargement in the Occupied Territories by Israel’s government as “illegitimate” and “unhelpful” does not begin to define the destructiveness of this activity. Nor does it dispel the impressi…

It's all in the painting!

Credited to Bob Englehart, Cagle Cartoons, The Hartford Courant

Some "interesting " background to the publication of the NSA material

All power to The Guardian and journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras for making the running with the Snowden revelations in relation to the NSA and other snooping bodies.

And congrats to the two journalists for being awarded Polk Awards in New York overnight.   The New York Times reports.......

"The journalists had been threatened, cajoled and condemned by the British and American governments. Their work together had set off a hunt for their source and a debate on both sides of the Atlantic about government surveillance.

But they had never met — until Friday.

That was when Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, lawyer and civil liberties crusader, and Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian newspaper, finally shook hands after months of working remotely on articles based on material from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. The two were in New York for the prestigious Polk Award presented to Mr. Greenwald and his colleagues, Laura Poitras and Ewen M…