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Pulled NBC Reporter Reassigned to Gaza after Protest

by Oui Sat Jul 19th, 2014 at 06:03:02 AM EST

In Afghanistan and Iraq we shoot to kill those pesky Al Jazeera reporters, in Egypt coup-president Sisi imprisons local Al Jazeera reporters 7-10 years for mingling with Islamists in Sinai and Msulim Brotherhood leaders, in the United States anno 2014 we just remove them for 'security sake' from the frontlines in Gaza. When Israeli NGO Monitors, MEMRI propaganda or CAMERA reports or IDF insist those journalists are risking Israeli lives. Nationalist fury after the succes of a film about Palestinian plight, nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film. IDF Soldiers Demand Prosecution of 5 Broken Cameras Director for Incitement.

Don't ever refer to Israeli scum as 'scum' while on camera, it'll get you fired - CNN correspondent Diana Magnay  removed after she refers to Israelis as 'scum'.

NBC Reportedly Pulls Reporter Who Witnessed Child Deaths From Gaza

(Business Insider) - NBC News has pulled Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza after the veteran journalist personally witnessed the death of four Palestinian boys.

"Mohyeldin's reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage; his reports have provided context to the conflict that is missing from most American reports and he avoids adopting Israeli government talking points as truth. As a result, neocon and 'pro-Israel' websites have repeatedly attacked him as a 'Hamas spokesman' and spouting 'pro-Hamas rants'."

The Gawker
Talkimg Points Memo

 

     « click for more info
    Facebook 'photo' of NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin - join the protest
    of Israel's continuoous murder of Palestinians as the world watches

    "Thank you to everyone's support over the past few days," Mohyeldin wrote on his Facebook page. "I'm returning to Gaza to report. Proud of NBC's continued commitment to cover the Palestinian side of this story."

NBC News Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin Returning To Gaza

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Setting the stage for British withdrawal

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 16th, 2014 at 05:49:41 AM EST

Jean-Claude Juncker has now been formally elected at President of the European Commission by a 422 to 250 vote in the European Parliament.  Most Prime Ministers in Europe can only dream of such a wide margin of victory.  That vote follows on from his 26 to 2 vote victory in the European Council (made up of national heads of government). And Yet Nigel Farage, leader of England's UKIP, can only rage at the undemocratic nature of his election.  

It is ironic that the most vehement objections to Juncker's election have come from the UK - a country which has a whole House of Parliament made up of unelected Lords and which has just nominated one of that number  - Lord Hill - to be Britain's next member of the Commission.  It seems democracy only becomes an issue when you don't get your own man appointed through some kind of back room deal. The UK's ignorance of and contempt for EU institutions has now come to bite it severely in the back-side.  

Cameron's influence in the EU is now at an all time low and will not be helped by his replacement of Foreign Secretary William Hague by the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond in a Government reshuffle which also sees a number of other prominent Eurosceptics promoted. When this is combined with the UK's likely loss of Baroness Ashton's (another ex-member of the House of Lords) post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, it looks as if the stage is being set for an ever more distant relationship between the EU and UK.

Why anyone in the EU (apart from Ireland) should now be bothered about anything Cameron has to do or say is beyond me. Should Scotland vote for Independence another barrier to England going it's own way and departing the EU will have been removed. Northern Ireland's constitutional status will again be destabilized, and who knows how that will play out - possibly for the better - but it could be a long and painful process. Cameron could yet be known as the Prime Minister who led England to the break-up of the UK. Certainly the EU will not be weakened by his antics.

Comments >> (61 comments)

Israel Exacerbating Settler Violence with Gag Orders

by Oui Sun Jul 6th, 2014 at 05:03:01 AM EST

Both Economy Minister Bennett and FM Liberman are inciting hatred and violence between Jews and Arabs. Last night, judeo-fascists were roaming the streets of Jerusalem chanting derogatory slogans against Arabs calling for their removal from the Jewish state. The results were beatings and more attempted kidnapping of Palestinian youth from East Jerusalem.

Former Shin Bet Chief Diskin: Delusional government brought us to this security deterioration

(Ynet News) - The escalation of violence in the territories, Jerusalem and the triangle (of Arab towns in central Israel) are the direct result of the policies of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin wrote late Friday in a harshly critical Facebook post.

In his lengthy comment, Diskin wrote that the rapid deterioration in the security situation has shattered the Israeli leadership's "illusion that Israel's frustrated Arab citizens will not at the end of the day take to the streets over the lack of response to their problems and the containment of the Palestinians in the West Bank, and will not react despite their frustration and the worsening economic situation."

This illusion, Diskin said, "worked perfectly for as long as the defense establishment succeeded in providing impressive calm in the defense arena. The rapid deterioration in the security situation was not only down to the brutal murders of Naftali, Eyal and Gil-Ad, but first and foremost it is the result of the illusion that the government's stagnation in every area was really keeping the situation in deep freeze."

Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet for six years, went on to define the various "illusions" that he says the government is propagating.

"The illusion that 'price tag' attacks are just a few slogans on the walls and not really racism; the illusion that everything can be solved with a little more force; the illusion that the Palestinians will just accept all that we are doing in the West Bank and not respond, despite their rage, frustration and worsening economic situation; the illusion that the international community will not impose sanctions on us; that Israel's frustrated Arab citizens will not ultimately take to the streets over the lack of treatment of their problems; and the Israeli public will keep submissively accepting the government's incompetent response to the social gaps that its policies have only worsened, when corruption continues to eat away at all that is good, and so on and so on."

Diskin concluded with a grave warning that there could still be worse to come.  

h/t Elizabeth Tsurkov @Tel Aviv U.

Interview Prof. Leibowitz: "There are Judeo-Nazis."

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Founding Fathers and God Given Rights of Palestinians

by Oui Fri Jul 4th, 2014 at 04:29:24 PM EST

Americans need to Answer: When Will Palestinians get their Fourth of July?

(Informed Comment) - The Palestinians do not have any of these rights, whether God wants them to or not. They were successively ethnically cleansed from their homeland of Palestine by militant Jewish settlers. (There were no Jews in Palestine to speak of as recently as 1800; Bonaparte found about 3,000 I think; Palestine was inhabited by Muslim and Christian Palestinians and as late as 1939 the British mandatory authorities envisaged a Palestinian state in 1949). Some 750,000 were expelled with no compensation and their land and property usurped in 1948. More tens of thousands were displaced in 1967. Their numbers have grown. Some 20 percent of Israel is remnants of the original Palestinian inhabitants, some 1.6 million persons. They are second class citizens in many ways.

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Palestinian refugee Shaher Alkhateeb, 73, who witnessed what the Palestinians call the "Nakba," or "catastrophe," poses for a picture in front of a wall painted with a mural depicting a prisoner jailed in Israel, in Kalandia refugee camp, between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

But the some 4 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza, and the several hundred thousand living in Lebanese refugee camps [and Syria, Jordan], are living lives the opposite of the ones Jefferson declared natural. They are stateless. In the West Bank they live under Israeli military rule; there are a few civil institutions, but all of these can be over-ruled by the whim of the Israeli army. Palestinians do not control their land, water or air. In Gaza, the Israelis have put them under siege, including the children and non-combatants in general. They aren't allowed to export virtually anything they produce. They have no port or airport (both bombed by Israel). They suffer from massive unemployment and even malnutrition. The Israelis have placed the Palestinians of Gaza in a huge open-air concentration camp. With American and European help.

...
So the Palestinians do not have a right to life. They have no liberty at all as the US founding generation conceived it. And they certainly have no right to pursue happiness. Their lives are constrained and made difficult by deliberate actions of Israeli officials and officers and armed squatters on their land who torment them. The Declaration of Independence insists that people have a right to elect their government.

U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Today I received an email notice from Lisa Pease (@BooMan aka Real History Lisa) about her new article.

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EC Public Consultation: TTIP Investment Rules [UPDATE]

by afew Wed Jul 2nd, 2014 at 08:35:05 AM EST

The European Commission is running a consultation on the investment parts of the TTIP.

The relevant document is here.

It looks, as EC consultations go, fairly open. Apart from the overall assessment (C), there are 12 questions. Each can be answered by freely-written text of up to 4,000 characters inc. spaces. Respondents are not obliged to answer all questions.

If we want to do something on this, we have little time, the deadline is 6 July.

Perhaps best to focus on what seem to us to be major questions. At a rough and ready guess, I'd say they'd be:

Question 1: Scope

Question 3: Fair and equitable treatment

Question 4: Expropriation

Question 5: The right to regulate

Question 6: Transparency

but YMMV.

DoDo and eurogreen have replied willing on this. Who else can join in, at whatever level? (Expert knowledge appreciated, if only in short, brilliant bursts).

Update [2014-7-7 3:27:52 by afew]: The submitted document (pdf) is available on site files here.

Comments >> (48 comments)

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment

by gmoke Tue Jul 1st, 2014 at 10:39:17 PM EST

I spent the Christmas weekend of 2010 with Henri Cartier-Bresson, watching the few documentaries he made and a few documentaries about him.  I've always liked his photographs, who could not?  His idea of capturing the decisive moment and his success in that make his black and white photos immediate and living.  In one documentary, he is shown photographing a street market in Paris, dancing to capture that instant when something, anything happens.  He is thin and dapper in his suit and as graceful as Fred Astaire.

His impatience with being called an artist and his work art resonates with me.  For him, the camera is an extension of his eye and the geometry of the image is what makes it work:
"The greatest joy for me is geometry, that means a structure.  You can go shooting for shapes or patterns and all this but it's a sensuous pleasure an intellectual pleasure at the same time, to have everything in the right place.  It's a recognition of an order which is in front of you."  When eye, heart, and mind are aligned in the shot, he has what reveals, what remains. His refusal to use light meters and flashes, his respect for the subjects of his regard is more than admirable;  it is necessary for the quality of his work and shines through it.

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Barracude-like Policy of Likud On Palestinian Land - Some Blowback

by Oui Tue Jul 1st, 2014 at 05:06:30 PM EST

During the search for three Israel teens kidnapped near Hebron, the IDF shot and killed nine Palestinians, razed homes, performed intrusive searches and jailed over 400 Palestinians. Some bloggers saw the IDF action as one of vengeance towards Hamas for its proposed union with the Palestinian Authority of Abbas. Netanyahu and his ministers did all possible to undermine and sabotage Kerry's effort in peace talks. President Obama refused to sanction Israel for its intransigence. The terror of the state of Israel continues.

Peace Talks and Zionist Optimism ... Gush Etzion and Palestinian Land - April 14, 2014

(Haaretz) - With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon declared the area "state land." The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha'avot, home to Ze'ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It's likely that this outpost will be "laundered" as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha'avot will see significant expansion.

Ya'alon's outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called "House of Contention," in the wake of the High Court of Justice's rejection of the petition by the home's former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

The Forward: Israel Grabs More Palestinian Land

In the Deaths of 3 Israeli Teens, Likud Policies are also Implicated

(Informed Comment) - If the Likud really wants an end to such incidents, then it should negotiate in good faith to bring about the kind of Palestinian state that could actually police Palestinian lives. Instead, Mr. Netanyahu, despite public denials, wants to make a Palestinian state forever impossible, because he sees it as a danger to his brand of Iron Wall Zionism, which is aggressive and expansionist and Jewish-supremacist. Netanyahu did everything he could to torpedo Secretary of State John Kerry's peace process. One side-effect of statelessness is lawlessness. Netanyahu is actively choosing it.

Likewise, the Likud Party (and its coalition partners, some more barracuda-like than even the Likud itself) is dedicated to a vast project of stealing Palestinian land and resources on the West Bank. They are building beehives of colonies, which are solely Jewish and racist in character, excluding the native Palestinians from dwellings built on their own territory. The intended end game here of people like Avigdor Lieberman is likely that once a majority of the population in the West Bank is Israeli, an incident like the one that just took place will be used as a pretext to simply chase all the Palestinians out to Jordan or Egypt and then lock them out of their own country- i.e. a repeat of what was done in 1948.

It should be fairly obvious that if you take adolescents into the middle of the Palestinian West Bank and steal Palestinian land and build houses on it and shoot at Palestinians trying to harvest their crops nearby and bulldoze down their homes or dig tube wells so deep as to cause the Palestinian wells to run dry- if you engage in this settler-colonial enterprise, then you are exposing those adolescents you drag with you into it to danger.

Pappe's discomfort with history of Zionism

... their bodies were found near the town of Halhul, just north of Hebron.

UPDATE: A 911 call was made by one of the teens but the border military did not react, assuming the call was a prank. Today the audio tape was released and the evidence indicates the teens were shot within minutes of their call, as gunshots rang out on the tape.

The three victims were hastily buried under rocks near the spot they were last seen hitchhiking, within a 10 minutes drive. It became clear Israel has meant there should be collective punishment for these murders. A Dutch female journalist attempted to balance a discussion about the Palestinian deaths, she was heckled and accused of being an anti-semitic.

Helpless against the might of the state: Rabbi Ascherman replies to a friend of Carmel

March 14, 2014 - The Bedouin village of Umm el-Kheir is just a stone's throw away from the Carmel settlement in the South Hebron Hills. Its residents live in huts and tents in abject poverty, without water hook-ups or electricity, while the residents of Carmel enjoy an existence resembling life in the suburbs of any Western country.

For a number of years, the shepherds of Umm el-Kheir have struggled against the settlers of Carmel who claim that part of Umm el-Kheir sits on the Jewish settlement. Recently, tensions came to the surface again as settlers planted trees on a ridge- a tactic used in the past to "claim"  their land. The trees were uprooted and as a result, the village shepherds were collectively punished by blocked access to their pastures. Additionally, Carmel settlers physically attempted to prevent the flocks from passing.

RHR has advocated for the rights of Bedouin at Umm el Kheir for years; recently, Rabbi Ascherman received an email from a friend of the Carmel settlement inquiring into the uprooting of the trees planted by the settlers on Tu B'Shevat. Their correspondence appears below ...

Reply in letter dated January 31, 2014:

    "You must, however, forgive me for the blunt way in which I am going to write. As much as I oppose the uprooting of trees, I am aware of a full and long history of events in which the residents of Carmel and their supporters have abused the residents of Umm el-Kheir, who are helpless against the might of the State, including last Friday (January 17 2014).

    I must say clearly and unequivocally that Carmel uses trees as soldiers against Umm el-Kheir. The residents of Carmel filed a development plan for the settlement according to which the ridge where the trees were planted is designated to become a site for massive building. Not one of these trees was intended to grow to maturity so that it could provide shade or yield fruit. They are there only to prevent the residents of Umm el-Kheir from accessing the area until the bulldozers arrive to level the hill so that Carmel can build a new neighborhood.

    I believe that it is wrong to plant seedlings there, and all the more so when there is still a legal dispute in court about the ownership of this ridge."

Israel mourns the loss of three bright teens, students at a Yeshiva school whose lives were cut short. When will violence stop and will the Israëli cabinet members have the courage to meet PA president Abbas for peace talks. As Haaretz wrote today:

    "There are a lot of loose ends, but one thing is clear: When Israel refuses to
    pay the price of peace, it can't avoid paying the price of no peace."

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Juncker: A triumph for European Democracy?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 03:23:45 AM EST

So. Juncker was the duly elected Spitzenkandidat for the post of President of the European Commission for the EPP, the party which won the most seats in the European Parliament elections. He subsequently gained the support of 26 out of 28 Heads of Government and State on the European Council.  And yet British Tories rage at the undemocratic nature of his election. Apparently he is an old school European who doesn't represent the will of the people as reflected in the outcome of the elections.  

Except he does.  This is the first time that voters could directly influence the choice of European Commission President with their vote.  The fact that many voters knew little of the Spitzenkandidat system is neither here nor there. People vote for a party for a variety of reasons, and not always because they like the party leader. Most Prime Ministers are not directly elected by the whole electorate either. Junker has greater democratic legitimacy than any candidate Cameron or a group of cronies on the Council could have come up with, and it is telling that they couldn't even come up with an alternative candidate:  Martin Shultz, Spitzenkandidat for the Socialists & Democrats, the second largest grouping in the Parliament would have been even more unacceptable to them.

front-paged by afew

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Why the Nazis Never Built an Atomic Bomb

by gmoke Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 03:00:25 PM EST

A few months ago, I found an old paperback book called Skis Against the Atom by Captain Knut Haukelid (London:  William Kimber and Company, 1954) and bought it.  As a lifelong skier with a father who served in the original US ski troops, the 10th Mountain Division, in WWII, I felt that I had to pick it up.  It is the memoir of a Norwegian soldier who fled Norway to England when the Germans occupied his country and then returned after training to commit sabotage and organize the resistance in his home country, far behind enemy lines.  Captain Haukelid was one of the soldiers who committed what some call the most successful act of sabotage in WWII:  they blew up the heavy water manufacturing facility in Vemork near the Rjukan Falls in the Telemark region and, later, destroyed the store of heavy water that it had produced while it was en route to Germany.  This small group stopped the Nazis from building an atomic bomb.

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Sweeping 'Patriot' Laws Passed As Jordan Fears Uprising and ISIS

by Oui Wed Jun 25th, 2014 at 06:22:02 AM EST

The most important succes of any terror threat is imposing fear. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have certainly left its legacy on the United States and the Western world measured by the political prowess of Fear Inc. USA, a broad group of Islamophobes. Although King Abdullah was a fervent supporter of the West to overthrow Assad in Syria, it's feeling the heat of an impending backlash as fighters return, bringing along some foreign mates.

Jordan's Islamists and the Rise of ISIS in the Hashemite Kingdom

Situated between viral conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Jordan's relative anonymity may be drawing to a close. A beacon of stability in the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom is perpetually challenged by the need to moderate between the monarchy's pro-Western orientation and the Islamist tendencies of the country's population. For decades the Muslim Brotherhood has remained the most prominent political rival of the Hashemite regime and its impact was significantly amplified in 2011-2013 by the organization's region-wide ascent following the uprisings of the Arab Spring. However, the deposition of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and suppression of the Brotherhood's pan-Islamic aspirations significantly diminished the organization's domestic influence. Now, al Qaeda-linked factions fighting in the Syrian civil war supply the most attractive brand of Islamist ideology for direct import into Jordan. As a result, the Kingdom faces immediate challenges from the country's nascent Salafist Jihadist Movement, and a long-term threat for the evolution of domestic Islamist militancy.

Reemerging in 2009, the Salafist Jihadist Movement in Jordan maintains a constituency of nearly 5,000 adherents, residing predominantly in the town of Zarqa, hometown of al Qaeda's former second-in-command and chief of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi. Claiming responsibility for three coordinated suicide bombing attacks targeting Amman hotels in 2005, Zarqawi was later killed in a joint U.S-Jordanian counter-militancy operation in Iraq. While recently non-violent, the war in neighboring Syria has provided Jordan's Salafi population with a training ground for militarization, with reports indicating that up to 2,000 Jordanian citizens are presently fighting in the ranks of hard-line Islamist factions, including the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). As a result, the Kingdom has implemented a series of U.S.-backed security protocols to limit the cross-border movement of militants between the two countries, highlighted by an April 16 Jordanian Air Force strike likely targeting an ISIS convoy attempting to infiltrate from Syria.

"Victory of the Islamic State," Battle Cry in Ma'an Jordan (Fallujah) during recent demonstration

However, recent events in the southern town of Ma'an suggest that the region's most notorious and emergent jihadist faction, ISIS, has found a base of support in the restive southern city, situated 40 km (25 miles) from the heavily visited destination of Petra. On April 23, clashes between local residents and central government security forces broke out in Ma'an.

True Jihadist Threat in Jordan

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The Misrepresentation of the Hacking Trial Verdicts (updated)

by ceebs Tue Jun 24th, 2014 at 09:06:32 PM EST

The Trial of the Century is mostly over, barring a couple of charges and the press would have it that Everyone has walked away apart from Andy Coulson and that the CPS has thus failed utterly in bringing a malicious prosecution against a group of upright citizens who should never have been there in the first place, on top of this they are claiming that the Crown have spent through lawyers and police a total of £30 million on an unnecessary trial.

This argument will be pushed by a whole selection of papers in the next few days as it is in their interest. If the charge can be shown to be spurious then much of the justification for the reforms suggested by Lord Leveson are obviously unnecessary.

However there are several details that the magicians of the press don't want you to look at while they trot out their card trick.

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Townhall Meeting Ms Clinton with CNN's Amanpour

by Oui Tue Jun 24th, 2014 at 02:38:04 PM EST

No surprise here, both Amanpour and Ms Clinton are advocates for neocon foreign policy and were trying to outdo each other. What expression is used when two women are in a contest of being more hawkish? I checked the transcript how often the progressive word peace was used during the long interview and Q&A session ... just once as in 'peace of mind.'

Hillary Clinton's CNN Town Hall, Joint Interview with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren

CNN Transcript

CLINTON: It's pub -- it's public information that they -- that the United States government, along with allies, are looking at ways to help support the -- the moderate -- what the moderate opposition is. They are badly outnumber by both the Assad forces and the extremists. I think now, there are more than 1,000 Europeans who are fighting in Syria...
AMANPOUR: Well...
CLINTON: -- for the extremists...

AMANPOUR: -- and I was going to ask you this, because I -- after all the reporting I've done on this and the blow-back and the back splash and all of those fears, the police commissioner of New York City summed it up the best recently, in a way that Americans can understand, that this is the most dramatic threat since 9/11 and perhaps even bigger...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- that there could be an attack on New York and the United States in general...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- and also around many foreign capitals.
You were turned down -- your idea and your plan, with all those national security officials that you mentioned, was turned down. Do you believe that if it hadn't been, you would have been able to prevent what's happening now, isolate the extremists, as you said was your goal...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- prevent them from going across to creating an al Qaeda state in Iraq...
CLINTON: Right.
AMANPOUR: -- 14 years after 9/11?

CLINTON: It's very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this. There were a lot of forces at work, as you well know. There were many different sources of -- of revenue coming into these disparate extremist elements -- Russia, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah were supporting Assad. There were already many players in this very dangerous space. [does this statement make any sense at all, Ms Clinton refuses to name the allies giving support to Salafist extremists: Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt (under Morsi), UAE, Kuwait and Qatar - Oui]

But I did believe then, and I believe now, that it is important for us to know what's happening on the ground in these places. And unless you build relationships with people who you think are at least hopefully sharing some of your same goals and objectives, you lose -- you lose contact. You don't know what's happening...
AMANPOUR: And this is (INAUDIBLE)...
CLINTON: -- and that leaves it even more dangerous.

AMANPOUR: -- your own ambassador, the person you appointed, Robert Ford, to Syria, resigned and he told me in his first interview that he did so in protest and on principle because he could no longer defend the Obama administration's policy. And we see where we are in the world because of this.

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Lakes & mountain-slides

by DoDo Mon Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:49:07 AM EST

In this last photo diary based on my two holidays in Switzerland last year, I show the northern side of the Alps, where the north-south Gotthard railway passes big lakes and dangerous mountain-sides.

A Swiss State Railways (SBB) RABDe 500 on a southbound InterCity-Neigezug (ICN) service tilts into the big curve below Wassen

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Welcome to the Pornocracy (Part One): the UK Economic Miracle

by ChrisCook Fri Jun 20th, 2014 at 11:07:19 AM EST

I am coming to the irresistible conclusion that the Coalition government is a modern day version of the late Byzantine Pornocracy - government by harlots. This facebook quote was the final straw.

You might not know that job centres and work programme providers are encouraging claimants to take up self-employed status on the basis they can pretend they're working, claim Working Tax Credit and get the same money as they would on Job Seekers Allowance but with no hassle or fear of sanction.

That's where all the new 'jobs' are coming from Cameron crows about, that's why there's a boom in so-called self-employment, and that's why productivity's so low per capita, these people aren't working at all. I assume this is why Ian Duncan-Smith still has a job despite the ongoing absolute chaos at the Dept of Work & Pensions as he's set this all up.

So as automation and austerity do for the UK middle class what Thatcher did for the working class we see an exponentially growing class of intellectual value flowing to a shrinking number of skilled workers (who are next in line for automation) and the holders of the relevant intellectual property.

This charade is of course fine to carry the Pornocracy through to the next election. After which, another crackdown on workshy shirkers while Serco, G4S or whoever is Blame-Taker of the Week.

Comments >> (27 comments)

Letter to my local Member of Parliament.

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 12:17:47 PM EST

Stephen Donnelly is one of five TD's (Members of Parliament) elected in my local constituency of Wicklow.  He is the sole Independent elected together with 3 Fine Gael and one Labour TD.  Remarkably neither Fianna Fail nor Sinn Fein won a seat, so he is the only opposition member from the constituency.  

Since his election he has shown a wide range of competence on economic and social issues  challenging the Government's austerity policies and representing an articulate voice for alternative policies.  Recently the Government screwed up and failed to secure a majority on the long delayed banking inquiry Dail Committee.  To rectify this situation, the Government later appointed two additional members. Stephen resigned in protest.

Whilst he had an arguable case, I think, on balance, he made a mistake. All Dail Committees are voted in by the Dail, and there is no constitutional bar to the Government holding a second vote if it manages to lose the first one.  Sure, the committee might have been seen as being more genuinely independent had it not had a Government majority, but at the end of the day all committee findings have to be approved and acted on by the governing Dail Majority.

Now, without Stephen Donnelly, the Committee will have a lot less credibility and impact. I don't think the short term gain of embarrassing the Government outweighs that loss. Stephen has also said he is thinking of joining a political party in order to gain more influence and power in politics.  I think that would be a major mistake at a time when Independents are gaining an ever greater share of the vote. Hence my letter to Stephen below:

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Israel Is Not Our Partner for Middle East Peace

by Oui Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 09:36:09 AM EST

Repeatedly US policy has aligned itself with Israel and repeatedly this has led to military and political failure. The last time the US decided otherwise was during the presidency of Eisenhower and the 1956 Suez crisis. Here we go again ...

BTW A strange message was sent by Israeli security reporter Yossi Melman:

    #Baghdad collapses. Shells on US & Iran Embassies
    Premier Maliki left. Chief of Staff escaped yo Germany.
    Heavy casualties to Iran forces.

NY Times - Sectarian violence returning to Baghdad with  extrajudicial killings and kidnappings

"The fighting is creeping closer to Baghdad and the offensive is being led by Sunni fighters drawn from the Sunni militant groups the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Islamic Army, according to an Iraqi Intelligence source. Both of those groups have long had a presence in Diyala Province and were involved in some of the bloodiest fighting during the sectarian battles of 2005-2007. The 1920 brigades was formed from disaffected Iraqi Army officers who were left without jobs after the Americans dissolved the military in 2003."

Israel concerned about any US-Iran cooperation over Iraq

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Humans and hierarchy

by das monde Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 09:49:41 AM EST

There was a brief incomplete discussion the other week here on macho dominance, hierarchy enforcement, power dynamics. I had lived pretty ignorant of social status games for long - but recently I realized that hierarchy interactions, instincts and emotions have to be taken seriously. Let me shake similarly your rational onlooker premises about power and human nature.

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Syria War and Shiite Government of Maliki to Blame

by Oui Sat Jun 14th, 2014 at 02:38:53 PM EST

In addition to a new article yesterday, the reporter followed the developments as the sectarian violence increased due to a failed policy of PM Maliki who has estranged the Sunni minority in Anbar province. Don't obfuscate the issue by denying the direct link to the Syrian civil war started three years ago. [Links added are mine - Oui]

See my earlier diary - Michael Ledeen from Trotsky to Mussolini - Our Freedom Betrayed.

What We Left Behind

(The New Yorker) Apr. 28, 2014 - When the last American soldiers left Iraq, at the end of 2011, the bloody civil war between the country's Sunni and Shiite sects had been stifled but not resolved. Now the sectarian violence had returned, with terrifying intensity. For more than a year, thousands of Iraqis, nearly all of them members of the Sunni Arab minority, had been gathering to rail against Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Although the protests were mostly peaceful, security forces responded harshly, detaining thousands of Sunni men without charges and, in one encampment, touching off a spasm of violence that left hundreds of civilians dead. Across the Sunni heartland, north and west of Baghdad, the town squares filled with angry crowds, and the rhetoric grew more extreme. In Ramadi, protesters raised black jihadi flags, representing the extremist Al Qaeda offshoot that had dominated the city during the American occupation. "We are a group called Al Qaeda!" a man shouted from a stage in the protesters' camp. "We will cut off heads and bring justice!" The crowd cheered.

Speaking into the television cameras on Christmas, Maliki ordered the protesters to disband. Largely ignoring his own men's excesses, he claimed that the protests were dominated by extremists. "This site has become a base for Al Qaeda," he said, filled with "killers and criminals." Maliki ended his speech with what for him was a flourish of emotion, lifting a hand from the lectern. "There will be no negotiations while the square is still standing." [Another dark Christmas for Iraq's Christians]

In the protests at Ramadi, a Sunni member of parliament named Ahmed al-Alwani had inflamed the crowds, accusing Maliki of being in league with the Iranian regime, the region's great Shiite power. "My message is for the snake Iran!" Alwani shouted into a microphone, jabbing his finger into the air. Referring to Maliki and those around him as "Safavids" and "Zoroastrians," terms that denote Iranian invaders, he said, "Let them listen up and know that those gathered here will return Iraq to its people!"

Obama, al-Maliki discuss fighting al Qaeda

Continued below the fold ...

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Sun Money

by gmoke Thu Jun 12th, 2014 at 08:53:48 PM EST

Solar is power and currency not only as energy, electricity, heat but also as politics,  economics, and sociology.  Solar energy is, by definition, local production, swadeshi, what Gandhi called the "heart of satyagraha," soul force, non-violent action.

Gandhi would spin for an hour each day, usually producing a hundred yards of thread, and helped develop a simple spinning wheel (charkha) that allowed many to do the same. He believed that spinning was the foundation of non-violence. I believe this type of practical labor has to be the core of any sustainable ecological action.

We need a solar swadeshi, an ecological practice on a daily basis that allows us to live within our solar income. Gandhi used the charkha, the spinning wheel. What would be an ecological charkha, a solar charkha?


from http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html

Could we do with electricity what Gandhi did with cloth, at least for emergencies and disasters? Can hand-made electricity, 21st century khadi cloth, provide real electrical power to the people and a survival level of energy independence and autonomy?
from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/10/919251/-Personal-Power-Production-160-Solar-from-Civil-Defe nse-to-Swadeshi

Here are some examples where solar energy is building economies that are closer to the practices of a Gandhian economics, a non-violent economics, a solar swadeshi, a kind of sun money.

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World Cup Betting

by DoDo Thu Jun 12th, 2014 at 03:41:54 PM EST

Which are your picks for group winners and second-placed?

What about the knock-out round?

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