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Showing posts from February, 2017

Amnesty International calls it out for what it is in the world

The Report is blunt.   Amnesty International calls it out for what it is!

"Politicians wielding a toxic, dehumanizing “us vs them” rhetoric are creating a more divided and dangerous world, warned Amnesty International today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world.

The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights around the world, covering 159 countries. It warns that the consequences of “us vs them” rhetoric setting the agenda in Europe, the United States and elsewhere is fuelling a global pushback against human rights and leaving the global response to mass atrocities perilously weak.

“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s. Too many politicians are answering legitimate economic and security fears with a poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity politics in an at…

Donald may do us all a favour

That the media are far too cosy with the powers-that-be is nothing new.    How can one be objective, and preserve those unattributed leaks, unless one stays on the "right" side of the politician?

Trump has turned things on its head by declaring the media "an enemy".    

Juan Cole, at Informed Comment in a piece "Spurned Reporters Should Dump Trump Briefings and Turn to Investigative Journalism" (republished on truthdig) says that perhaps now the press will do its job and fulfil its proper role....

"Something is broken in American journalism.  Maybe it is the “inverted pyramid” whereby US reporters put the “most important thing” first in the article.  It has been pointed out that this way of organizing the article gives an unfair advantage to a duplicitous administration, since anything the president says goes first in the article.  Bush and his people used this principle to game the press all the time.  (When the scandal about US personnel torturing pri…

Trump: He ain't no savior!

Spot-on piece by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times...

"Dear Trump Voters,

You’ve been had. President Trump sold you a clunker. Now that he’s in the White House, he’s betraying you — and I’m writing in hopes that you’ll recognize that betrayal and hold him accountable.

Trump spoke to your genuine pain, to the fading of the American dream, and he won your votes. But will he deliver? Please watch his speeches carefully. You’ll notice that he promises outcomes, without explaining how they’ll be achieved. He’s a carnival huckster promising that America will thrive with his snake oil.

“We’re going to win, we’re going to win big, folks,” Trump declared Friday at the CPAC meeting, speaking of his foreign policy.

Great! Problem solved. Next? He then outlined his take on drug trafficking and what will surely be his outcome:

“No good. No good. Going to stop.” Wow! Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

Similarly, all looks rosy for tax outcomes: “We’re going to massively lower taxes on the mid…

A cry (no, a plea!) for 20 million people

Just reflect on what governments waste money on, daily - start with armaments - and one has to cry, and be ashamed if one is a caring person, to think that are presently some 20 million people in the world who are starving.

The UN reports:

"Sounding the alarm on behalf of more than 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and north-east Nigeria facing devastating levels of food insecurity, Secretary-General António Guterres joined other top United Nations officials today calling for “strong and urgent” action from the international community to help the already-fragile countries avert catastrophe.

“Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan. Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are already facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe,” said the Secretary-General, stressing: “This is preventable if the international community takes decisive action.”

Briefing the press at UN Headquarters in Ne…

Trump's first step to becoming a tin-pot dictator?

It is hard to believe that we are only 5 weeks into the Trump presidency - how those words stick in one's craw! - but aside from the almost daily extraordinary behaviour, outbursts, tweets and actions, today a new dimension.    Banning certain media from a press briefing.   A small step towards becoming a tin-pot dictator?    This is seriously dangerous!

"By the measure of his spokesman Sean Spicer, Donald Trump is tracking towards dictatorship – how else to explain Spicer barring "enemy" reporters from a White House media briefing, just weeks after he said open media access was "what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship".

The unprecedented exclusion of CNN and The New York Times, among others, marked an escalation in Trump's war on the media and on a particular government agency that has provided sensational leaks on his presidency – the FBI.

On a day when the White House press office was corralling reporters on the basis of who were frien…

Misused power got USA nowhere in the Middle East

In the latest piece on Tom Dispatch.com the point is validly made that America has misused its power in the Middle East and in the process got nowhere.....

"The United States has already lost—its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all…

The U.S. Rejected Would-Be Refugee Anne Frank—Let’s Not Make a Similar Error Now

Well worth reading - especially by the Trumps of this world! - this piece on truthdig by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan is republished here in full.....

"Anne Frank would be 87 years old had she not perished in Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. What words of wisdom might she offer the Trump administration as it crafts its latest iteration of its Muslim and refugee ban? Anne Frank is known for her famous diary, written while she and her family hid from the Gestapo in a “secret annex” of a house in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. Long before the family went into hiding, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, desperately sought visas to bring his family to the United States. Like tens of thousands of other European Jews at the time, they were repeatedly denied.

Anne Frank and her family were betrayed and sent to the concentration camps. Only her father, Otto Frank, survived. He went on to publish her writing as “The Diary of a Young Girl,” which has entered the canon of resistance…

Turkey's censorship on a grand scale

The West, as is often the case - take Israel as a good example when it is steps out of line in its actions - is looking the other way with regard to many of the things now happening in Turkey.     Turkey is an ally...of sorts!   Condemnation ought to be the operative word.    Just look at The Forward reveals about the rampant censorship well and truly in place in Turkey.

"According to a report by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the magazine Girgir, at one time Turkey’s most successful satirical magazine, was shut down today after the publication of a cartoon depicting Moses. The AFP wrote that the cartoon showed “the bearded Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, with his companions complaining and using vulgar curse words.” Girgir’s publishers stated that they “did not approve of the ‘unpleasant’ cartoon” and have fired the magazine’s staff."

****

"The magazine, which has a history of secularism and of criticizing the Erdogan regime, is the latest casualty in Turkey’…

No more Two State Solution....and moving on to apartheid & ethnic cleansing

No further comment is called for to this self-explanatory piece from CommonDreams on how Israel's actions are destined to entrench it as country engaged in apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

"Empirical historical evidence combined with a little common-sense are enough to tell us the type of future options that Israel has in store for the Palestinian people: perpetual Apartheid or ethnic cleansing, or a mix of both.

The passing of the 'Regularization Bill' on February 6 is all we need to imagine the Israeli-envisaged future. The new law allows the Israeli government to retroactively recognize Jewish outposts built without official permission on privately-owned Palestinian land.

All settlements—officially recognized settlements and unauthorized outposts—are illegal under international law. The verdict has been passed numerous times by the United Nations and, more recently, pronounced with unmistakable clarity in UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Israel's response was th…

The doctor is able to consult with you about keeping firearms at home!

If one ever wanted to see madness personified - and the power and influence of the NRA coupled with blind stupidity of legislators and their constituents - it must be the act passed in Florida prohibiting medicos from talking about the keeping of firearms at home......

"Information saves lives. That’s not a complicated idea, especially when it comes to medical care. A doctor’s educated advice can make all the difference to a patient who may not fully appreciate health or safety risks.

Florida lawmakers seemed to think otherwise. In 2011, they passed a law barring doctors from talking to their patients about one specific topic: whether the patients keep firearms at home. Health care practitioners who violated the gag rule faced fines of up to $10,000 and the possible loss of their medical licenses.

As the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held on Thursday in striking down the key parts of the law, this is an obvious violation of the First Amendment, which generally…

"Unhinged, unmoored and unglued".....

One can be forgiven for being almost fixated on the spectacle of Trump lurching from disaster to disaster and lie to lie.     The man knows no bounds of decency or honesty let alone any integrity or understanding of the high - and responsible - office he now occupies.

As a non-American there is almost a fascination watching the reaction of Americans to their new President.    Take David Brookes - arch-conservative - who writes a weekly column in The New York Times......

"I still have trouble seeing how the Trump administration survives a full term. Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.

Trump’s White House staff is at war with itself. His poll ratings are falling at unprecedented speed. His policy agenda is stalled. F.B.I. investigations are just beginning. This does not feel …

USA: GOP says its OK for the mentally impaired to own a gun

Can there be any doubting that the Americans - well, certainly the GOP and Trump - are crazy.     New laws passed by Congress and the Senate and almost certain to be sanctioned by Trump, will allow the mentally impaired to buy a gun.    

"For all their dysfunction, the Republican Senate and House have managed to act with lightning speed in striking down a sensible Obama administration rule designed to stop people with severe mental problems from buying guns.

President Trump, who championed the National Rifle Association agenda as a candidate, is expected to sign the regressive measure. This, despite the Republican mantra that tighter control of mentally troubled individuals — not stronger gun control — is the better way to deal with the mass shootings and gun carnage that regularly afflict the nation.

The Senate voted Wednesday to join the House in revoking the rule. It would have required the Social Security Administration to add about 75,000 people, currently on disability support…

Brand Trump is tanking

Anyone who is even remotely across the daily news, will know that Trump in the White House is doing far from well. 

This piece on The Age- reprinted from The Washington Post - puts into context how really, really bad things are for brand Trump.....

"The White House is perhaps the best imaginable venue for product placement. But despite the fact that it now commands a presidential seal, the Trump brand seems less attractive than ever.

Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and even discount retailers such as Kmart are dropping daughter Ivanka's fashion line. Companies such as Uber face backlash for merely giving the impression of being pro-Trump. Professional athletes, those traditional arbiters of cool, are turning their backs: So far, six of the New England Patriots have declined to meet the president, and beloved Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry mockingly described President Trump as an asset - "if you remove the 'et.' "


The "brash business mogul" bra…

Trump & Crew = Clash of Civilisations

This piece from the Financial Times (reprinted in the Australian Financial Review) by op-ed writer Gideon Rachman, ought to give one serious pause for thought....and to be most concerned where things are headed with the "crew" in the White House.

"Donald Trump's travails with his " Muslim ban" make it easy to dismiss the whole idea as an aberration that will swiftly be consigned to history by the judicial system and the court of public opinion. But that would be a misreading.

The ban on migrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries was put together clumsily and executed cruelly. But it responded to a hostility to Islam and a craving for security and cultural homogeneity that is finding adherents across the western world - and not just on the far right.

Even if Mr Trump's ban is withdrawn or amended, it will probably be just the beginning of repeated efforts - in the US and Europe - to restrict migration from the Muslim world into the west.

There…

Silencing protest

It hasn't been all that surprising that many of the action of President Trump (just writing that sticks in the throat!) have evoked protests across the USA - and even outside it.    It is also not all that surprising that the GOP wants to clamp down on those protests.

The New York Timeseditorialises.....

"A bit of silver lining at the onset of the Trump administration has been the groundswell of activism by hundreds of thousands of Americans taking to the streets to face off against a president, and a Republican establishment, they see as reckless, divisive and destructive.

But Republican lawmakers have been so alarmed by the size and intensity of the demonstrations — for women’s rights, immigrants and the environment — and by protests around the country before the election, that they have introduced measures in at least 10 states to intimidate free speech by criminalizing it.

While their proponents say the bills and initiatives are needed to protect public safety and ensure civi…

Trump analysed

Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant and winner of several journalism awards.

In a piece on CommonDreams he analyses Trump.....

"Last October, before he was elected President of the U.S., I, among others, put forward the hypothesis that Mr. Donald Trump was a narcissist. I based my interpretation on the fact that he fulfilled practically all the criteria included in the classification of narcissism established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in many countries all over the world.

The symptoms of this syndrome include the following: Grandiosity; fantasies of power and personal attractiveness; self-perception of being unique; needing constant admiration form others; sense of entitlement; exploitation of others for personal gain; intensely envious of others and pompous and arrogant demeanor. His behavior at the time, which became eve…

Searching for a "Reichstag Fire"

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

He writes on AlJazeera on what is known as the "Reichstag Fire"....

"Donald Trump and his top Islamophobe nomenklatura gathered at the White House, now led by the militant crusader Stephen Bannon, are on a desperate lookout for their "Reichstag Fire" and their favourite propaganda outlet, Fox News, is franticly searching for it - even in Canada.

"Reichstag Fire" was an arson attack on the Reichstag, the German parliament, in Berlin on February 27, 1933. The incident was soon abused by Adolf Hitler and his gang to demand a suspension of civil liberties in systematic preparation for his putsch for total fascist power.

Ever since, the term "Reichstag Fire" is used metaphorically to mark a dreadful event abused by any proto-fascist movement to blame an amorphous internal enemy, to be coupled with an external enemy, and rapidly from t…

The blight of unemployment

Two pieces on unemployment - one relating to the USA and the other to Europe - paint a grim picture of the world we now live in, and how "life" generally - leaving politics and isms aside - has changed and will do so in the future.

The USA:

"Even at so-called full employment, some 20 million Americans are left behind.

They’re looking for work, out of the labor force but unhappy about it, or report working part-time when they’d prefer more hours, according to data released last week. Their plight comes even as the U.S. flirts with what economists consider the maximum level of employment for the first time since before the recession, having added 15.8 million jobs since the start of 2010. While some of America’s jobless are simply between gigs, those persistently stuck out of work are called the structurally unemployed.


President Donald Trump said wrongly last month that 96 million people are looking for work, having included Americans who are still in school, retired, or jus…

Look where Steve Jobs' father came from.....

MPS isn't a great fan of Thomas Friedman, who writes for The New York Times.

His latest column "Connecting Trump’s Dots" excoriates Trump - and he makes out a strong case.   Not that that is all that hard! 

At the conclusion of his column Friedman writes....

"Trump wants to partner with Vladimir Putin to defeat ISIS in Syria — a worthy goal. But Putin hasn’t been trying to defeat ISIS. He’s been trying to defeat democracy in Syria to keep the genocidal pro-Russian dictator there in power.

Will that be our goal, too? And who are Putin’s allies in Syria? Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite mercenaries from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Will they be our allies, too? No. We will enlist Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis to help us, says Trump. Really? But he just barred them from entering the U.S. How cooperative will they be?

And whom else might this ban keep out? Remember Steve Jobs? His biological father was Abdulfattah “John” Jandali. He came to America as a student in the 1950s and studied at…

So, who is the enemy now?

Tom Dispatch has an interesting take on who the Americans now see as their enemy...

The introduction to a piece by Ira Chernus (see here) on Tom Dispatch says, commenting on events post 9/11, this....

"Fifteen disastrous years later, having engaged in wars, occupations, or conflicts in at least seven countries in the Greater Middle East, having left failed or failing states littered in our path and spurred the spread of terror groups throughout that region and beyond, we now find ourselves in the age of Trump, and if it isn’t obvious to you that everything remains dangerously out of whack, it should be. Consider the set of former military men and associated figures the new president has appointed to run the national security state.  As TomDispatch regular and professor of religious studies Ira Chernus points out today, they uniformly believe -- shades of GWOT -- that our country is in a literal “world war” at this very second, and they seem to believe as well that its fate and the …

Trump gives Aussies the flick!

There is simply no stopping Trump - and to think he will be in office for another 4 years!   The latest outrage is discussed by Roger Cohen in his op-ed piece "United States to Australia: Get Lost"  in The New York Times.

"Let’s imagine for a moment Rex Tillerson, the newly installed secretary of state, awakening to this tweet from President Trump about an important American ally:

“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

First, the “illegal immigrants” are in fact desperate people fleeing conflict whose status as refugees has in most cases been officially recognized. Second, as refugees, they have the right, under the Geneva Conventions, of which the United States is a signatory, to be treated “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.” Third, the “thousands” are in fact about 1,250 of the 2,500 men, women and children who, for more than three years…

Remembering what the Holocaust is

Perhaps under the radar in the media generally, there has been considerable debate in the last days relating to the memorialising of the Holocaust.   Starting with the Statement from the White House said to be commemorating Holocaust Day on 27 January, the Right has been having a field day distancing Jews from the Holocaust.    In this new "age" of pushing "facts" and "alternate facts" out there - looking at you Donald Trump and the awful team around you - the world needs to be on guard that the revisionists of history out there and those simply peddling lies doesn't take hold.    It is to be borne in mind that many people see Google as the source of all manner of information...and that is a worry when one reflects on the sort of web sites out there.

"We need to de-judaify the Holocaust apparently. That’s the latest from ‘alt-right’ poster boy Richard Spencer. Spencer, who by all accounts is the personification of a bacterial infection, feels tha…

Now this is something to emulate.....

This piece (re-published here in full) from Huffington Post - the photo in which has gone viral - should serve as a lesson and example to all of us.

"As protesters gather at airports and public spaces to oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim countries, one powerful image has emerged to spread a message of empathy and hope.

On Jan. 30, Chicago Tribune photographer Nuccio DiNuzzo captured a moment between two fathers and their children at a protest at O’Hare International Airport.



The photo shows Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell of Deerfield, Illinois talking to a Muslim father named Fatih Yildirim, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. Both men’s children ― 9-year-old Adin and 7-year-old Meryem ― sit on their shoulders.

Bendat-Appell, who works for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, told The Huffington Post that he only just met Yildirim and his family that day …

The threat of war

As if it isn't bad enough to observe the antics of Trump since he assumed office (which must now be regarded as so sullied as not to be funny!) now comes a report on the views of the man one heart-beat away from Trump...Steve Bannon.    War with China and in the Middle East in the not too distant future.   Most comforting.....not!

"The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in th…