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Each political note has its own anchor in case you want to link to it.
My intention is to make links only to publicly accessible, stable URLs. If you find a link to a page that requires subscription, please report that as you would report any other broken link.
In a world with suffering and cruelty, "liberal guilt" is another name for not being a callous jerk.
Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar was forced to retire as deputy attorney general of Afghanistan because he tried to investigate corruption among the highest officials.
It is clear that Karzai does not intend that corruption be suppressed.
Russians are getting less willing to tolerate Putin's authoritarianism as poverty settles on the country.
US citizens: tell the Department of Education to protect students and taxpayers from ripoff for-profit schools.
Uri Avnery: To achieve peace requires separating the settlers that colonize the West Bank from the majority of Israel. A boycott of the settlements can forward this; a boycott of Israel as a whole backfires.
The Gates Foundation has large investments in Monsanto, which is hardly good news for poor farmers around the world.
Handing out bags of GMO corn is effectively sabotage of farmers. Corn pollen travels a long distance in the wind, so genes tend to spread and contaminate everyone's corn. Monsanto only has to wait a few years for this to occur, and then it can sue all corn farmers in the area for patent infringement.
So if the genetically modified corn died instead, the farmers are lucky.
The Bush forces now remaining in Iraq are not labeled "combat troops", but the chaos in that country would make it hard for Obama to resist pressure to send more.
Wyclef Jean's wish to run for president of Haiti distracts attention from real issues — such as, there is no reconstruction, not even cleanup.
60 Israeli actors said they would boycott theater performances in one of the illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank.
Obama should challenge Saudi Arabia to show tolerance for other religions.
Afghan women running for office face violence, and so do their supporters. And not only from the Taliban.
"Carbon upset" payments would reward any group that manages to lawfully shut down a large activity that releases much greenhouse gas emissions.
US citizens: support the campaign to turn off Faux News in stores, restaurants, airports, etc.
Coffee production is threatened worldwide by insects that thrive due to global heating.
The US Intelligence Science Board concluded that torture is not useful as a means of interrogation.
It's great for extracting confessions if they don't need to be true. Torturing Sakineh Ashtiani made her confess.
Bernanke quietly admits that the Federal Reserve can't prevent a further downturn in the US. That will require Congress to start spending.
With the Republican Party playing the part of Hoover, and the Democratic Party not daring to oppose this, it seems to me that Congress and Obama have already accepted the coming of a depression. Perhaps they even want one.
Al Shabab says it has launched a final offensive to defeat the "transitional government" of Somalia.
Calling it the "transitional government" is like calling a presidential candidate "the next president of the US": it reflects wishes, not certainties, let alone facts. This government was constituted by a faction of the Islamic Courts Movement. That movement broke up due to the US-backed Ethiopian intervention, and when the US realized that intervention was a failure, it tried to give power to one of the more moderate factions.
Maybe this was worth trying, but it did not work. Perhaps the foreign backing of that "transitional government" made it easy for those opposing it to recruit. In any case, there's no use pretending this government amounts to anything.
There is a way to end the fighting in Somalia: end foreign backing for the "government". It never had much support and now has effectively none.
If I could choose for Somalia to have and support a more moderate government, I would. But I am not in a position to choose that; and, it seems, neither is the US.
Julian Assange is still under investigation for "molestation", which is a Swedish legal term that does not have a sexual implication. "Assault" might be a closer English translation of that legal term.
I've read elsewhere that the two women who accused him got angry when they found he was sleeping with both of them. I do not sympathize with such possessiveness. However, if that's true, it doesn't prove whether Assange acted wrongly.
US citizens: call on the EPA to protect Americans from toxic coal ash.
Kyrgyzstan is breaking apart due to a rebellion in the south.
The rebels have carried out pogroms against the Uzbeks who live in the south.
The rebels may be financed by corrupt former president Bakiyev.
It is absurd, however, to speak of pressuring the Kyrgyzstan government, since it is surely doing whatever it can.
Police are using full-body scanners to scan cars.
It seems to me that this should require as search warrant.
The Aberdeen Airport protestors state why shutting down the airport was necessary and justified.
The pathologist who examined David Kelly's body says he looked hard for evidence of murder, but found none.
A UNEP report exonerating Shell from blame for most of the oil spilled in Nigeria was funded by Shell and was based on controversial data given by Shell.
Many girls in a school in Afghanistan fainted, and some remained unconscious for hours, possibly due to a poison attack by the Taliban.
Iraq Body Count criticized the UK's Chilcot inquiry for disregarding the killing of Iraqi civilians.
Iraq Body Count counts documented civilian deaths that can be specifically attributed to fighting. This number is useful, but only if we avoid the mistake of presenting or treating it as an estimate of the total. Since many civilian casualties were not suitably documented, the real number of civilians killed is far more than 100,000.
When you read about Iran's development of nuclear weapons, don't forget that millions of fanatical Christians in the US believe that destroying the environment and starting a war with all Muslims is the way to trigger resurrection.
Compared to these nuts, the Taliban are rational and gentle. So which is more dangerous: the possibility of nuclear weapons in Iranian hands, or the reality of nuclear weapons in US hands?
Bill O'Reilly and Faux News pressured Comcast to fire show host Barry Nolan.
This was because Nolan protested an award given to O'Reilly, by handing out a leaflet with O'Reilly's own embarrassing words.
US citizens: tell the deficit commission to cut military spending and end tax cuts for the rich, instead of cutting social security.
Millions of Haitians won't be allowed to vote because they lost their identification. But those are mostly the poor, and their party (Lavalas) has been excluded anyway, so the people in power don't care.
Activists in France destroyed an experiment with genetically modified grape vines.
This might be a safe and beneficial use of genetic engineering, especially if it is used only for making wine, not for grapes for eating, the change is unlikely to alter the wine. The fact that grape vines are perennials, and thus the quantities of seeds people plant are far fewer and each one can be carefully chosen, should reduce the issue of unintended contamination.
However, one relevant fact I don't know is whether pollen from grapes spreads long distances. Can GMO grapes be cultivated without widely spreading the modified genes? Will all grape growers be at risk from contamination of their crops by patented genes?
India's environmental ministry vetoed Vedanta's plan to build a mine on the Dongria Kondhs' land, though the decision could be appealed.
This shows that, when foreign attention is focused, the Indian government will uphold the legal rights of the tribals. (The rights of the poor are often totally ignored in India.) But this project is but one of many that have driven thousands of them to rebel.
Iran has sentenced the leaders of the Baha'i community to prison on absurd charges of spying.
Conservatives have a very effective strategy in blocking Obama (and Carter before him) from appointing judges. It allows them to influence how courts decide all legal issues.
The UK has greatly increased the percentage of young people that get college degrees. The consequence is that many jobs now require college degrees and the attendant debt.
This might all be worth it if the increase in college education has some other beneficial effect for society — for instance, if it makes the students cosmopolitan, tolerant, and sophisticated in their approach to political issues. However, I suspect that a lot of these students attend programs that are so specialized that they have no such effect.
As global heating melts the Arctic ice, it opens opportunities for more deepwater oil drilling. That means more oil spills and more global heating. If we humans are really stupid, we will seize on this opportunity to dig our graves deeper and faster.
More information on the accusations against Julian Assange.
Iran has ordered newspapers not to mention the names of opposition leaders, including the former presidential candidates.
Iranian journalist Isa Saharkhiz is suing Nokia/Siemens for giving the Iranian government equipment to track him down and imprison him.
A US court shut down all federally funded research with embryonic stem cells.
Hari Prasad proved that India's voting machines were vulnerable to tampering, so the embarrassed government had him arrested on absurd charges.
The UK has cancelled its annual review of human rights around the world, part of a plan to put trade (i.e., business profit) above human rights.
Germany will force all citizens to carry an ID card with an RFID.
The injustice is having national ID cards in the first place. Putting RFIDs in them only makes them dangerous.
The Green Party in Australia, which opposes Internet filtering, has made major gains.
Like samurai in feudal Japan, the police in the US can murder with impunity.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was falsely accused of rape, and then the charges were dropped.
He says this might be one the Pentagon's threatened dirty tricks.
The UK government is now well aware of peak oil, but still tries to keep its concern a secret.
Millions of girls are killed, enslaved or mutilated every year for being female.
In regard to the practice of letting female infants die, I presume those mothers would rather abort female fetuses, but they probably have no access to abortion or gender testing. If we cannot convince them to value daughters, we could at least provide them those facilities.
A book documents a Bush forces atrocity in which soldiers raped and killed a teenage girl for the hell of it.
I disagree with one point in the article: these acts were not just the consequence of a stream of bad luck. They were the natural result of a system which considered it "normal" that a soldier reported his only wish was to kill Iraqis. These acts were encouraged by the training that breaks soldiers' humanity, and the pressure to dehumanize the occupied populace. That same system led Bush forces soldiers to wantonly kill Iraqis on thousands of occasions. What's unusual about this occasion is that they were punished.
An interview with Emily Henochowicz, who was blinded in one eye when an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas cannister directly at her head.
Naturally, Israel's government lied about what had happened. That's the usual government response, in Israel as in the US, when soldiers commit violence against civilians.
Emily says that it is unfair that Palestinian protestors who are maimed or killed get less attention than she. It is partly true, in that they too deserve attention. However, she deserves all the honor she receives. There is something especially heroic about a person who protests to end the mistreatment of another people.
Police in the Philadelphia airport went through a woman's wallet and confiscated checks, supposing that she was stealing the money. All in the name of security for the flight.
The official US policy fails to address the problem it was supposed to correct. The TSA agent cannot search for evidence of possible crimes unrelated to flight security, but if she encounters any, she can invite the nearby cop to look at it and search further. If she sees some pot, for instance, the cop can arrest you.
Under these circumstances, the search is automatically a fishing expedition.
The only way blanket searches at airports can be excusable is if they are strictly limited to flight security, which means agents must not report anything they see unless it threatens the safety of the flight.
In the UK: Liberty says that plans for new "anti-terror" laws could result in condoning torture and banning many political and religious groups.
Global heating is probably responsible for a long-term increase in tornadoes in Minnesota, even if this year's record is a fluke.
Republicans dead set on impoverishing most Americans say budget cuts are needed so the US can continue borrowing. This problem is provably fictitious.
If the Democrats in Congress were really strongly opposed to this, why aren't they campaigning on it? Either they are foolish cowards, or they are working for the same business forces that the Republicans serve. The latter seems more likely to me.
In 2009, almost 120 homeless people were attacked in the US. Does that justify censorship?
Violent attacks against the homeless are striking examples of gratuitous cruelty. Indeed, cruelty must have been the main motive, since the victims couldn't harm anyone and had nothing valuable to steal. In revulsion against this cruelty, and lacking any practical way to find the perpetrators so as to punish them, one might feel the need to lash out against anything related, such as videos and a game.
That would be a grave wrong, because banning publication is censorship.
The US already has censorship based on sex, and this censorship ruins plenty of lives. Censorship of violence would be the obvious next step in limiting freedom of expression. Venezuela has already paved the way.
Next the government could censor crime news. It is well known that reporting of a crime can inspire copycats. It also makes people feel anxious, perhaps more than the real crime rate (which is decreasing, aside from crimes by corporations such as BP) could justify. They would feel so much safer if the news were censored.
In the end, 120 assaults in a year amount to a tiny fraction of the violence in the US, even if they are particularly gratuitous. Even if preventing violence could justify censorship, it would be absurd to abolish human rights for such a small reduction. Besides, this danger is a very small part of the problems homeless people face every day.
If our government wants to show compassion for them, how about giving them places to live? How about helping people not lose their homes? That wouldn't satisfy the urge to lash out. Do we want to lash out, or help people?
Global heating has reduced total plant growth on Earth, and thus has reduced the consumption of CO2 by plants.
It's true that more CO2 in the atmosphere, in and of itself, helps plants grow, but only if extracting carbon from the air was the limiting factor to their growth. And plants that are killed — by drought, or by floods, or by heat waves, or by pests that migrated towards the poles as the temperatures rose — don't consume any CO2.
Newspapers in Venezuela have been banned from publishing photos of murdered corpses and other victims of violent crime.
These newspapers seek to discredit Chavez by hook or by crook, and I am sure one of their motives for publishing these photos is the hope it will discredit him.
And it is their right to try that, by publishing true facts. If Chavez' supporters think he is being unfairly blamed, they have a right to say so — but not a right to censor.
The aim of "protecting children" is what censors usually say to justify their attacks on freedom. It is no excuse at all.
There is a big fuss that convicted airplane bomber al-Megrahi was released from prison with cancer and has not yet died. But the real scandal is that the UK government is suppressing a report that suggests he might have been innocent.
Mohamed Attaoui was summarily declared guilty of extortion, in the teeth of the evidence, because he exposed Moroccan government officials who winked at illegal logging.
Climate change protestors are targeting a large UK bank for making loans recently to the companies involved in the heavily polluting use of tar sand from Alberta.
The responses of RBS are paradigmatic examples of the usual fallacious excuses companies give for participation in harmful activities. "We didn't lend the money specifically for exploiting the tar sands." (When investigating the company that asked for a loan, they should have found out it was engaged in that business.) "The world isn't ready to entirely stop using fossil fuels." (But they could speed up the change instead of slowing it down.) "We provide support for businesses working across many industries." (If they are not selective in where to put their money, maybe they ought to be.)
We need to make these excuses derisive so that companies will stop thinking they will serve.
South Korea blocked access to North Korea's Twitter channel.
By blocking this and other North Korean sites, South Korea lowers itself to North Korea's level.
An undersea cloud of oil droplets extends around 20 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and is full of toxic chemicals.
David Stockman, official under Reagan, accuses the Republican Party of pervasive financial mismanagement.
US citizens: phone your senators and call on them to support the DISCLOSE act, which would make corporations identify themselves in political ads they pay for. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Also sign this petition.
The judge who wanted a higher fine on Barclays Bank was convinced to change his mind.
The UK law that punishes anyone who is the customer of someone who was forced into prostitution has been applied very little.
It is interesting that the state admits it has trouble establishing whether a prostitute was trafficked. If the state can't tell, how is the customer to know?
The answer is, he's not supposed to know. This law was intentionally designed so that people cannot tell whether they are violating it. That strikes at the basic idea of justice.
The problem of forcing people into prostitution needs another answer, and I have a suggestion. A country should give every foreign visitor who seems to be a plausible victim of trafficking some effective and usable advice on how to ask for help if they find themselves being forced into prostitution. And give asylum to any of them who testify against the culprits, so that going for help does not imply the punishment of deportation.
Meanwhile, visitors (in the UK at least) are also forced into domestic servitude, and it is just as bad. The same policies should apply there. Visitors authorized to enter a country for any sort of job should be checked on occasionally to see if their employers have taken their passports away, or kept them prisoner. If so, whoever sponsored their entry should have a case to answer.
Several groups of scientists report that spilled oil persists and remains dangerous in the Gulf of Mexico.
Israeli expansionists are planning courses on how to slip their views into Wikipedia without triggering resistance.
A prosecutor in the Hague is being investigated after witnesses say they were tortured and bribed.
Australia is considering censoring applications for the iGroan.
Apple's power over the iGroan makes its users more vulnerable to such censorship.
A judge rejected the plea bargain with Barclays Bank, saying the punishment was too small to fit the crime.
This plea bargain was a typical example of how the US government is weak in confronting business.
A Taliban leader condemned the killing of Western doctors in Afghanistan as murder.
This is not a position statement from the Taliban, but it is a positive step.
August 21 is Earth Overshoot Day — the day on which humanity has used (since January 1) a whole year's worth of nature's capacity.
Igor Sutyagin, exchanged against his will for Russian spies, was convicted of "spying" for telling British employers information that was already public knowledge.
This happens in the US too. Earlier this year, some journalists were banned from covering the Guantanamo kangaroo courts because their articles identified a witness. That witness had already publicly identified himself. These journalists were punished for repeating what was already public knowledge.
The US defense secretary has invited the government of Iraq to ask the Bush forces to remain past 2011.
Of course, the government of Iraq will ask — if it can figure out who is in charge there and can ask.
An Indian ministry committee said that Vedanta's mining plans display "total contempt for the law".
This reminds me of the contempt that Breakneck Polluter showed for US environmental protection and safety law. In the US case, the government connived at it; I expect that is just as true in India.
Yu Jie was threatened with imprisonment if he published a book abut China's Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao. Yu Jie published it anyway, saying the prime minister acts the "good cop" to the president's "bad cop".
Countries that don't protect their biodiversity now will face cultural and economic disaster in a few decades.
Stopping global heating is a necessary step for this; if temperatures keep rising, many species will no longer be able to live in the small reserves that they remain in.
The Taliban have proposed a joint inquiry into killing of civilians in Afghanistan.
Paul Craig Roberts: Deaf Dumb and Blind — US Treasury is Running on Fumes.
The US, with its real and potential wars, is driving itself to collapse.
The oil has stopped spilling, but the oil and dispersant already in the Gulf of Mexico are still causing waves of biological damage.
Various species of turtles, manatees, and birds face the possibility of extinction. Wetlands could physically disappear as oil kills the grass that holds them together; this could wipe out many migratory species.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to oppose warrantless searches of people's Internet activity records. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The Bill of Rights has been greatly undermined, and that is the biggest current threat to our freedom. We need to repeal parts of the U SAP AT RIOT act, not extend it.
The Prime Minister of India offered Kashmiris negotiations for everything except what they want (independence), and invited the Naxalite guerrillas to help speed up the "development" in which corporations kick them off their land in order to pollute it.
There is more pressure for an inquest into the death of Dr. Kelly, who supposedly committed suicide after expressing doubts about B'liar's phony intelligence that was used to justify the conquest of Iraq.
I think Kelly was murdered, and I hope his murderers can be found and punished.
Update (28 August 2010): It looks possible that David Kelly was not murdered, see this pol-note.
But it will be difficult to find them; the few officials who know about the arrangenements won't talk. Meanwhile, what is really important is to try Tony B'liar for the crime of aggressive war. For that, it is not necessary to identify who killed Dr. Kelly. It would be sufficient to publish the secret documents that have been withheld from the Iraq war inquiry.
The US government accepts almost 10% unemployment as normal, citing powerful economic interests supposedly too powerful to be defied.
When politicians offer such excuses, it is because they have other reasons they'd rather not admit. For instance, their campaigns have been supported by large corporations which they must obey. These corporations don't care whether Americans have work, and don't mind much if many Americans can't afford to buy from them. As long as they rule our country, we will suffer.
Mexico provides a rought idea of where this is headed.
An interview with Will Rockwell, editor of $pread, a magazine by sex workers for sex workers.
An international group has called on France to repay the ransom Haiti paid for its independence.
I am in favor of repayment; but it needs to be done in such a way that Haiti's corrupt ruling elite can't swipe it. If Aristide were president, I think he could do it.
US citizens: phone your senators to demand legislation to hold Big Polluter (and other oil companies) accountable for their pollution.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The next step in impoverishing most of America is to turn most American workers against the public sector workers who still have decent pensions.
Everyone: sign this petition to preserve the Pavlovsk botanical reserve from destruction. It preserves thousands of food plant varieties not found anywhere else.
US Citizens: support the Just Say Now campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana.
One good thing that the US has done is to take the lead in stopping the trade in minerals that fuel massacres in the Congo.
Nepal is starting to turn back Tibetan refugees fleeing Chinese control.
The UN wants to send more troops to Somalia to prop up the "government". This "government" rules part of Mogadishu, and has no popular support. Its only strength is the foreign troops that keep it in "power".
If Al Shabab controls 80% of Somalia, that means it has almost reached the point of ending the civil war. The right thing to do is stop blocking it from doing so. Thus, the foreign troops now in Somalia, and the additional ones that might be sent, are not in fact peacekeepers; their effect is rather to perpetuate the war.
In 2006, the Islamic Courts Movement succeeded in unifying Somalia, overcoming the foreign-backed "interim government" that had little popular support and never controlled much of Somalia. This could have meant peace and some stability.
However, Bush convinced Ethopia to intervene to reimpose that "government". That didn't work, but did manage to reignite civil war.
Then the US got a little smarter and recognized one of the fragments that split out of the Islamic Courts Movement as the "government". However, the US backing did not make up for its comparative lack of support, and now it is little different from the former "interim government".
Al Shabab will not respect human rights. It will practice cruel and mysogynist Islamic law, which nobody deserves. But nobody deserves constant civil war, either, and that is the most intervention in Somalia can achieve. There is no other faction in Somalia that would govern with human rights and has any chance of governing.
I am in favor in principle of military intervention to overthrow cruel regimes, but that can only give good results in very special circumstances. One of the necessary circumstances is that the people of the country wish for such intervention.
South Africa's government wants to censor the press, prohibiting publication of anything the government says is secret. Judging by what Zuma says, that will include anything scandalous about government officials.
US Senate Candidate Alvin Greene faces imprisonment for showing pornographic pictures to a college student, and asking her to go to bed with him.
To criminalize showing pictures is an act of mad tyranny. The matter should have ended once she told him no, but fanatical prudes (probably Christians) are trying to impose their twisted morality on everyone else.
Sri Lankan general Fonseka retired from the army to run against president Rajapaksa, and was tried for (or so it sounds) thinking about those steps before beginning to carry them out. In other words, for thought crime.
Then he was convicted without legal representation by failing to inform his lawyer when the trial would be. It also wasn't a real trial, because it was a military commission.
For several years, there have been massive protests in Kashmir for independence from India. These have been met with repression; 55 protestors have been killed in the past few months.
60 years ago, India promised the people of Kashmir a plebiscite about being part of India, but never carried out the promise. India ought to hold that plebiscite now.
I read recently that most Kashmiris prefer independence to being part of Pakistan. An independent Kashmir would not boost Pakistan vis-a-vis India, but would foster peace between those two powers by removing the principal cause of tension between them. Most inhabitants of Kashmir would be Muslims, but the country could be founded with a charter of respect for religious freedom for all positions (including Atheism), and this would set an inspirational example.
Iran is reportedly going to hang the people who were scheduled for stoning.
This is a positive step, in that it is a small reduction in the cruelty of the execution. However, the death penalty is always an injustice, and punishing people for adultery is an injustice.
Torturing people into confessing any crime is an injustice, whether the torturers are Iranian or American.
Floods in Pakistan have destroyed a billion dollars worth of crops. Put this together with the heat wave in Russia, which destroyed a large fraction of the crops there, and the result will be a world-wide rise in food prices, which will be exacerbated by speculation.
There is always a chance of disaster, but global heating tends to increase the frequency of them. A double hit like this one is still unusual, but 30 years from now, we may see several large disasters each year (though where they occur will still be random).
Drug companies distort science (and threaten people's health) by selectively publishing only the studies that give favorable results.
Other research shows that studies funded by drug companies are less likely to produce a negative result, suggesting that the funding undermines the scientists' objectivity. The solution is simple: tax these companies and use the money to fund the studies.
Calderon's war on drugs provided the excuse for a war on grass-roots opposition and a war on civil liberties in Mexico.
Russia arrested 35 would-be protestors to block a protest against the state-appointed mayor of Moscow.
Big Polluter was fined $87 million for failing to fix safety flaws that caused an explosion in 2005. It got the fine reduced to $50 million just by refusing to pay it.
This should not be possible.
An Iraqi army general asks the Bush forces to remain after 2011 when they were supposed to leave.
I would not be surprised if this schedule was meant to appease the US peace movement, not meant to be carried out.
Ludicrously, General Odierno says the Bush forces troops are in Iraq to "prevent foreign interference."
Intolerance towards Muslims is raging in the US.
Intolerance is wrong; burning copies of the Qur'an is nasty, and saying Islam is the devil is just irrational. But Terry Jones is entirely right in saying that (many) Muslim countries openly deny religious freedom. Muslims, as they think about this intolerance, ought to reflect on their own intolerance too, and consider that if they practice intolerance they will inspire intolerance.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani confessed on TV to murder, and appeared to have been tortured into the confession.
If you have a recent model car, you need to deactivate the wireless system that senses tire pressure, both in the wheels (so they don't track you) and in the car (so it can't be used to kill you).
Four UK police will face criminal charges because of attacking Babar Ahmad — 7 years after the attack.
This is a separate issue from the accusations against Ahmad. I don't know enough to have any opinion about them. But it is true that the US practice of keeping people in solitary confinement for long periods is too cruel for any prisoners. Many people become insane after that.
17 countries experienced record high temperatures this year.
If next year is not quite as hot as this year, that will not mean that global warming has ceased. It will be a random fluctuation.
Google and Verizon made a proposal about network neutrality which has some very bad points as well as some good points.
We've wiped out the tuna in the Mediterranean, so jellyfish that give painful stings are increasing in numbers.
Don't trust for-profit schools. Of 15 that were investigated, each and every one tried to deceive its customers.
Israel returned to Turkey one of the Gaza aid ships — repainted to hide the bullet holes.
It's the beginning of the end for antibiotics, as resistance spreads globally.
Although resistance has so far been found in just one species of bacteria, bacteria frequently transfer genes between species.
We can only guess whether this would have been averted by using antibiotics more carefully — for instance, not prescribing them out for colds, making sure ill-educated people took the whole dose, and not feeding them to cattle for increased profits.
Will peak oil save us from melting Greenland?
Not if high oil prices push the world towards more burning of coal and of oil from shale.
Why don't governments seem to be doing anything to reduce the economic shock of peak oil? It could just be folly. But since the US pressured the IEA to lie, that suggests it is malice. Perhaps some of the businesses that dominate the US government are planning to cause a crisis that will drive the public further into poverty.
India's repression of Kashmir led to massive protests, which India blames on Pakistan.
An Iranian reformer says that US pressure helps Ahmadinejad.
I'm sure Ahmadinejad gets some advantage from attacking the US, but I don't think it is crucial. His bloody crackdown on the opposition, while it was in the streets, did not crush it by associating it with the US, but by brute force.
Isolating North Korea has not brought democracy there. Trading with China almost without restrictions has not brought democracy there. There is no clear recipe to bring democracy to a country in the iron grip of tyranny.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government reaction to the latest sanctions suggests that it finds them quite painful. This might succeed in convincing the regime not to develop nuclear weapons. If so, the sanctions will have been worth while. But if Iran develops nuclear weapons anyway, it would be futile to maintain the sanctions.
A spokesman for Obama attacked progressive Americans who are dissatisfied with Obama, saying they must be on drugs.
I won't claim that progressives who are satisfied with Obama must be on drugs, but they are definitely out of touch if they think Obama is working for progressive goals.
Tomasky's article supposes that Obama wants to achieve progressive goals but can't get them through Congress. Why doesn't he try to pass them, then attack the Republicans for blocking them? Because he doesn't really advocate them.
Obama will inevitably disappoint progressives, because he doesn't share our goals — he just wants us to support him as if he did. Obama, like most Democrats today, has views that in 1970 would have been advocated by Liberal Republicans. He has not tried to implement most of the policies a progressive would support.
McCain might have been a little worse, but not much. I am proud to say I voted for Nader. If I couldn't elect a progressive, I could at least vote for one.
Al Qa'ida is bidding against the Bush forces for the support of Sunni militiamen in Iraq.
There is an evident discrepancy between this sort of purchase of support and the reports by Todenhofer in the book Why Do You Kill? I am not sure how to reconcile the discrepancy, but it's possible that some militiamen are ready to work for the highest bidder while others have principles. It is also possible that one or both reports is exaggerated. But I expect neither is outright false.
Part of the cause of the fatal Russian bog fires is a government that has sold out to business.
However, that doesn't let global warming off the hook. It's the two of them together.
10 more years of global warming could make the total melting of Greenland's ice inevitable.
That would imply flooding of cities around the world — not just New Orleans.
Austerity measures in the UK have knocked the economy into a further recession.
This is what the Republicans aim for in the US. If they can cause a further recession, they will channel the resulting anger at the incumbent democrats.
What I don't understand is why the democrats are playing into their hands. Of course, most of them are corporate sellouts too, but they still want to get reelected.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are rising, and 3/4 of them are killed by the Taliban.
In 1984, the US broke up the Bell System monopoly. Then, after the US government became totally dominated by business, it allowed all the pieces to merge, resulting in less competition than there was in 1983.
Allowing mergers between large companies is a clear sign of a government that has sold out to corporations.
Now the US government is about to sell us out again.
The Taliban murdered a group of eye surgeons in Afghanistan. They said it was because the surgeons were proselytizing for Christianity.
People are falling into a trap if they argue about whether these surgeons really were proselytizing, in addition to operating to cure blindness. People are falling into a trap if they argue that proselytizers ought to be just deported rather than killed. The trap is that these responses grant legitimacy to Muslim states which deny religious freedom to their citizens.
Instead, we should challenge Islamists to imagine if the same policy were applied in reverse. Would they like Western countries to execute anyone who preaches Islam, or merely deport him? If they don't like either one, then they should not practice either one.
A flood in Pakistan, a heat wave in Russia — while each single event isn't directly tied to global warming, the increasing frequency of such events appears to be due to global warming.
The heat wave is killing over 300 people a day in Moscow alone. Since the problem is not limited to the Moscow, I would estimate it is causing at least a thousand deaths a day, far more by now than the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, negotiations on averting disaster are stuck because Obama acts like Bush III.
Raja Petra, Malaysian blogger, now has to operate from exile for fear of being imprisoned without trial.
Malaysia is democratic in form but it does not permit criticism of the government. It also tramples basic religious freedom, since it forbids people of Malay ancestry to adopt any religious position other than Muslim.
The Merchants of Doubt documents how rich right-wing foundations and stink tanks spread lies to discredit the truth about environmental protection (including protecting civilization from global warming and flooding).
Declaring violent war on drug dealers repeatedly leads to lots of killing. By contrast, legalizing the possession drugs often leads to reduction in drug use.
Louise Perrett reports that her colleagues, responsible for judging applications for asylum in the UK, frequently expressed contempt for all applicants and intended never to grant asylum to anyone.
Drawing lessons about talking with the Taliban from other insurgencies that used terror tactics.
In the US: participate in or host a rally against corruption of democracy by business.
The UK made friends with Pakistan's president by advocating a "Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan."
In the Marshall Plan, the US provided enormous reconstruction aid to Western Europe after World War II. This was possible because there was peace then in Europe.
A similar plan of aid to Afghanistan might be a good thing, but peace is a precondition for it. So it doesn't offer a way to help achieve peace.
Meanwhile, tremendous sums have already been spent on "reconstructing Afghanistan", without a lot of benefit for the people, as humanitarian aid has been partially militarized.
I can imagine Afghans becoming cynical and looking at aid projects as a clumsy attempt to gain their support.
Colombia is spraying herbicides on illegal coca plantations, and in the process poisoning the rain forest, food crops, and people.
The government of Colombia doesn't care much about poisoning Colombians.
Obama has failed to address the injustice of Bush's US-Korea free exploitation agreement, which threatens to put foreign investors legally above the law.
The demonization of "child" pornography has endangered US national security by creating an opportunity to blackmail officials that look at it.
I put "child" in quotation marks because that word is part of the dishonesty. It is meant to suggest that only a pervert would find them attractive. Many of these "children" are old enough that they could legally get married in some states — and most normal adults will find them attractive.
The article says that downloading "child" pornography converted these people into security risks. In the past, when people could be blackmailed for being gay, the same was said against homosexuals: that their conduct made them security risks. We now understand that it was the prejudice against homosexuality which had that effect.
Note how the article calls it a "problem" that certain people could not be prosecuted because "it could not be established that the children had been abused." This shows the dishonesty of the claim that this is about protecting children. If that were their real goal, they would say, "We were pleased to discover in some cases that no children had been abused."
If people are seriously concerned not to let children have sex in making porn films, they could use the approach that has succesfully eliminated cruelty to animals in films. You have seen the statements certifying that "no animals were harmed in making this film." There could be a similar certification that "no minors had sex or were nude with adults in making this film."
The company that makes the Blackberry has surrendered to Saudi Arabia and will allow it to monitor users' messages.
Unconventional economics suggests that great disparities of wealth helped cause the fiscal crisis — and could cause another.
Anthony Graber faces 16 years in prison for making a videotape of a policeman waving a gun at a motorist.
CIA doctors wrote guidelines for torture, according to the Journal of the AMA.
China and India are now rivals in propping up the dictators of Burma.
The governments of China and India are both callous and unjust, even towards their own people. So neither is likely to unilaterally give up the competition for influence in Burma. I wonder if they might agree to a truce in Burma until it achieves democracy. Then they could resume their rivalry for influence there, and without being culpable for its dictatorship.
The kangaroo court in Guantanamo imposes a host of contradictory, unpredictable and almost intolerable rules on the press.
Perhaps they want to avoid press coverage but don't dare admit it.
These "military commissions" are total nonsense, and if anyone is convicted by them, we should presume him innocent as not having had a fair trial that could prove anything.
A US court ruled police must get a warrant before they can attach a GPS device to a person's car.
Everyone: sign this petition calling on Google not to make a deal to trash network neutrality.
Google says it has no such plans. The New York Times, which reported the plans, insists they are real. I don't know which one is true — and I don't need to know. I signed the petition in case this is real. Please join me.
Malta has criminalized criticism of the Catholic Church, as well as a wide range of fiction.
In Australia, the Liberal Party has rejected the internet filtering scheme (which was originally its proposal). To reject filtering is essential for freedom of speech in Australia, but Australia already has an Internet censorship system that applies to links. For the sake of freedom on the Internet, this must be abolished.
("Liberal" in Australia means supporting less regulation of business, not like Liberal in US terms.)
A right-wing group has secretly and dishonestly operated on Digg to downgrade the visibility of progressive articles.
The next Gaza aid ship will have a crew of all women.
Analysis: coal producers have sabotaged any attempt to limit global warming, condemning the world to disaster.
Global warming deniers systemically spread lies, for instance through the iGroan. Some of the liars have been funded by oil companies. I suppose coal companies fund them too.
Negotiations to follow on from the inconclusive Copenhagen meeting seem to be headed for failure. However, even if they succeeded, they would be ineffective because of all the loopholes already inserted at that meeting.
The disastrous decline of honeybees has been linked to certain pesticides.
Organic foods are no different in nutrition, but if they avoid the harm done by pesticides, that would be plenty of reason to switch to organic farming.
Wildfires caused by the heatwave have blanketed Moscow.
These fires are releasing lots of CO2 into the air. So this is an example of positive feedback, where global warming causes more greenhouse gas emission.
Some scientists say the US government is exaggerating when it says that the oil in the Gulf is no threat.
US citizens: sign this petition to repeal the "Defense of Marriage" Act which discriminates against same-sex marriages.
Part of this law was ruled unconstitutional a few weeks ago but that might be reversed on appeal. Repealing it is the right thing to do.
Bush forces troops say that Collateral Murder was nothing unusual. For instance, soldiers were punished by beatings if they expressed hesitation about killing civilian bystanders.
And they were ordered, when an IED went off, to shoot whoever was around.
Mere beatings of prisoners and civilians were standard practice too.
US citizens: phone your senators to urge them to support Elizabeth Warren for head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Wall Street wants someone pliant who won't do very much to protect consumers.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Elena Kagan's studies of Islamic finance show some interesting aspects of it. For instance, Islamic banks are forbidden to engage in the disasterous and corrupt practices that caused the financial crisis.
No wonder right-wingers hate them, and her. They want banks to be able to cheat and destroy the economy.
Ecuador asks to be paid to leave oil in the ground and preserve the Amazon forests over it.
Some US insect-eating bats face extinction from an alien fungus from Europe.
Obama is relabeling and privatizing the occupation of Iraq, and foreign oil companies are getting the prize, as patriotic Iraqis continue to fight back. In announcing this, he praised the conquest and occupation of that country.
The Bush regime's torture practices amounted to an illegal experiment on human subjects who did not consent. Physicians for Human Rights presented evidence and says this can be prosecuted.
California's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned in court.
Tom Ridge admitted in his book that he played with US "terror alert colors" for political reasons.
Greenhouse gases that trap heat cause increased temperature on the surface while cooling the upper atmosphere. This adds to the danger caused by garbage in space.
The NOAA says that the oil remaining from the Big Pollution is no longer an environmental threat, and that everything is now ok.
I hope that is true, but I am skeptical — skeptical of the claim that there are no underwater clouds of "dispersed" oil, skeptical of the claim that the dispersant is not dangerous, and skeptical of the claim that the beaches and marches have been cleaned, or can be cleaned.
The oil from the Ixtoc spill in Mexico over 30 years ago remains just slightly out of sight.
The US Chamber of Commerce now has a competitor that wants action to control US carbon emissions. Some local chambers of commerce may switch to the new organization. The US Chamber of Commerce's response, a private misleading smear campaign, is typical of that organization.
Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei has fled to Turkey for asylum.
The government of Iran has persecuted him for representing Sakineh Ashtiani.
The climate protection treaty proposed at Copenhagen has so many loopholes that the rich countries would be able to keep on increasing their emissions, while pretending to have agreed to decrease them.
US citizens: phone FCC chairman Genachowski and insist on network neutrality.
Mexico is considering legalization of drugs, because the war on drugs has caused 28,000 casualties since 2006.
Big Polluter says it has plugged the leaking underwater well.
I am glad it is plugged, but let us not let this lull us into thinking that these wells are safe.
Senators bought by the oil companies blocked an increase in liability for oil spills.
Fossil fuel consumption receives tremendous subsidies, dwarfing those for renewable energy.
In Iraq, anyone suspected or rumored to be gay is in danger of being tortured or disappeared by the police.
Prostitutes in China protested publicly for legalization.
The EPA disregarded its own scientists and others who warned about toxic dispersants.
The fallout contamination around Chernobyl has reduced biodiversity — apparently many animal species cannot tolerate even the low level radiation.
Microsoft deliberately undermined users' privacy in Internet Explorer 8 to help web ad companies track the users.
The fact that it was up to Microsoft to decide this is due to the proprietary nature of Internet Explorer. With free software, the users have control, and they can do what they wish.
Israel has agreed to an international inquiry into the attack on the Gaza aid ships.
In the US:
Boycott Target stores for paying a lot of money to support a right-wing candidate. Inform Target of your participation in the boycott with this petition.
Rwanda's President Kagame might be able to win a free election, but he can't tolerate opposition, so he has banned, imprisoned and killed his political opponents and the press.
Wikileaks revealed that UK troops systematically killed Afghan civilians, and these killings will probably now be investigated as possible war crimes.
Secretary of Defense Gates, a holdover from the Bush regime, accused Julian Assange of endangering some Afghans who cooperated with the US. Here is Assange's rebuttal.
I think his argument that it was the US' fault if any informants were identified is fallacious. The US could have prepared better for the possibility that these documents might be leaked, but it had no reason to expect such a leak. So that is not a valid criticism.
The right rebuttal to Gates' accusation is that, while concealing these documents would have protected a few Afghans, it would have endangered a lot more of them by failing to help end the war. Gates cites the smaller danger as an excuse to disregard the larger one. Assange presented this argument in connection with Kenya; it applies to Afghanistan too.
Wikileaks could have done it better: it could have obfuscated names and identifying features. That would have preserved the good effect while reducing the smaller harmful one. But that would have been a lot of work, and maybe it was not a feasible option.
Three cheers for Wikileaks!
The UAE and Saudi Arabia say they will ban the Blackberry because they cannot spy on users' communications.
Record heat, predicted by climate scientists, is killing people in the US and Russia.
But there are exceptions. Peru has been struck by record cold in the middle of the hottest year on record.
Global warming's effects are not uniform. Weather constantly creates local and temporary exceptions to the general trend which is the climate. For instance, 2009 was not quite as hot as a few recent years. We must not mistake these exceptions for proof there is no global warming.
Sgt. Zubaty's war: driving into Baghdad, the tanks destroyed every vehicle they met, all of them full of civilians.
How would you feel if someone "liberated" your country this way? Unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool pacifist, you would want to kill them. This sort of treatment, repeated for years, made many Iraqis feel that way.
In the book "Why Do You Kill", a German journalist (and former MP) reports on his interviews with members of the Iraqi resistance, from a visit to Ramadi in 2007. They were Sunnis, Shi'ites and Christians, fighting to liberate their country. They made it a point of honor not to kill civilians, and condemned terrorists such as al Qa'ida and the Shi'ite militias which targeted civilians, saying each was a form of foreign intervention.
Even if we assume they put their best side forward, it is clear they are better than the occupiers and the Bush-imposed Iraqi government.
If you buy the book, please don't buy it from Amazon.
A UK court ruled that products to jailbreak game consoles are illegal, because it can be used to run unauthorized copies of games. And never mind that it can also be used to do other things.
This is the opposite of the argument that the US court accepted when it ruled that jailbreaking as such is not illegal.
Of course, an unauthorized copy of a nonfree game is unethical. It is almost as unethical as an authorized copy.
What will happen if US troops leave Afghanistan?
Sinar Mas continues to cut down extensive rain forest areas for palm oil plantations.
Adam Keller: Is Israel singled out - and why?
The UK is systematically attacking Gypsies for camping on land that they own.
Some Hungarian Gypsies were awarded damages for school segregation against them.
The prejudice against Gypsies in Eastern Europe reaches amazing heights of irrationality. On my first visit to Romania, in the 1990s, my host was a teacher, educated enough to know that the Gypsies originated from India. And since she hated Gypsies, by extension she hated all things Indian. She refused to listen to a recording of Indian classical music, which I had brought along, saying it was because the Gypsies came from there.
In this case, her prejudice hurt only herself. However, often the targets of the prejudice are the ones who suffer.
When Jacob Appelbaum, who helps Tor and Wikileaks, returned to the US for a conference, he was "randomly" selected to have his computer searched.
Which is more unlikely — that he was chosen randomly by coincidence, or that the "authorities" lied?
Many governments across Europe are attacking Gypsies and expelling them.
The Wikileaks files disclose the working of a US death squad in Afghanistan, TF 373. It often operates by bombing houses or cars. Not surprisingly this tends to kill civilians. Sometimes the only casualties are civilians. The US government lies about the actions so as to evade responsibility.
Other US troops massacred civilians, and the investigation tried to cover it up by threatening journalists.
It looks like cover-up is still the response. If NATO were serious about avoiding this sort of thing, it would hold an investigation into what went wrong and publish the results, and discipline whoever was responsible at that time and place for preventing it. The failure to do this shows that what NATO really wants to avoid is the blame, not the killing.
A US court blocked parts of Arizona's "show your papers" law pending an appeal.
I do not object to limiting immigration into the US, but I do object to measures that have the effect of harming the rights of citizens.
A cry from Louisiana about the effects of the oil spill.
The disappearance of the floating oil slick is a good sign, but it does not mean that no more oil will arrive on threatend beaches and marshes.
Il Ducino's latest project is to make bloggers register, and require them to publish corrections within 48 hours on complaints.
Some sort of requirement about posting complaints might be just, but when applied to activities that are not professional, it must not demand response so fast that amateurs will be unable to comply.
Andrew Breitbart, exposed as culpable of dishonest smear attacks, is being lionized by Republican leaders.
By doing so, they admit that their party is the party of lies.
Armies have a positive duty to prevent civilian casualties — just saying they "were unintended" is not enough.
72 former prisoners in Abu Ghraib are suing a company which helped run the prison, saying its employees tortured them.
The US government says Wikileaks has "blood on its hands" for publishing what the US is really doing in Afghanistan.
The US government is an expert on bloody hands. US embassy staff just killed a few Afghans in Kabul with a car, and set off bloody riots.
The useless and unwinnable war will kill more Afghans the longer it continues. Since the Wikileaks revelations have a good chance of ending the war sooner, they will tend to prevent more Afghan casualties than they might cause.
The war continues to go badly. The NATO forces attacked a Taliban group which melted away, as intelligent guerrillas do before superior force.
NATO is trying to present this as a success, but its only consequence is likely to be that some NATO troops get killed by mines.
The US economy is heading for another downturn.
Republicans blocked all efforts to stimulate the economy so that they can blame Democrats for the resulting pain.
The big spill has broken up on the surface, but thanks to the dispersants, it is likely to linger underground.
Oil from the Ixtoc oil spill 40 years ago, likewise in the Gulf of Mexico, can still be found on beaches it polluted then.
China has imprisoned a webmaster. He tried to censor criticism of the Chinese government, but didn't quite get it all.
That should teach anyone who thinks that faithfully obeying the tyrant's orders will be rewarded.
Bangladeshi garment workers continued their protests, because the increase in minimum wage they were given doesn't compensate for increases in cost of living.
Please sign this petition in favor of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Gasoline truck drivers in Greece went on strike, and the government reacted with a conscription order.
It is interesting to note that the government's attack on this union was not directly a matter of reducing the deficit. In other words, it is using the deficit and IMF-imposed austerity as an excuse to attack working people in other ways.
The large deficit is a real problem, but the government should make the rich rather than the working class pay the costs of correcting it.
Tens of thousands of children in Africa are imprisoned or driven onto the streets after being accused of witchcraft.
South Africa is considering a law that threatens freedom of the press.
Andrew Breitbart, who smeared Shirley Sherrod, has a long history of dishonest smears.
Oil spills and other disasters have occurred repeatedly in the US in the last decade, despite repeated oil company claims that "it won't happen again".
Air pollution kills millions of people every year, and a large fraction of it comes from burning fossil fuels.
Obama wants to extend government surveillance without warrants, attacking civil liberties of Americans.
Protests in Bangladesh have brought about a big increase in the minimum wage.
Tariq Ali: Pakistan's contacts with the Taliban are part of maintaining a complex relationsip that could be needed to negotiate peace.
Almost half of Gaza's farmland has been put off limits or ruined by Israel.
A gang of Israelis seized by force a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem.
The successor of the KGB will now have the power to imprison anyone for 15 days for "obstructing an officer's duties", which in effect means "whenever they wish".
Australians: If you don't want Chinese-style Internet censorship, support the open internet campaign against censorship.
Also support the Green Party.
The UK may eliminate ASBOs, which enabled the state to jail people for a wide range of activities that were not crimes.
The evidence for global warming, from many different kinds of measurements, has been assembled in one place.
Warming of the oceans is probably responsible for the decrease in phytoplankton, which is the base of the ocean food chain. This has reduced the amount of fish.
Many fish species depend on coral reefs, especially when young. Acidification by CO2 may kill the coral, and that will give another big blow to fish available in the sea.
Legal Sea Foods is using an ad campaign that says, "There are plenty of fish in the sea." This is a false.
Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting as cruelty to animals.
Everyone: support the long-term diplomatic campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Health insurance companies have set aside millions to convince state governments not to enforce some of the new health insurance legislation.
The Iraqi electricity ministry has attacked the unions, in some cases seizing their offices and files.
Unions sponsored by the employer (the state in this case) are not usually zealous in defending workers' rights. Iraqi workers deserve independent unions. However, this manner of disconnecting the unions from the employer, seizing the unions' private files, is intended as intimidation and obstruction with the formation of independent unions.
The enormous military forces of the US have ceased to be a route to victory in war.
I would make the statement a little more specific. US military force can win victories over other armies, as it did in Iraq in 2003. What it cannot effectively do is defeat another people inclined to resist.
Israeli tanks attacked the al Said family home in Gaza using flechette shells, an indiscriminate weapon. Israeli troops had already stopped the al Said family from cultivating much of their land.
The Australian government has concealed nearly all of its plans for spying on the Internet, to avoid "premature unnecessary debate".
Australians, vote Green.
Anthony Graber is threatened with 16 years imprisonment for making a videotape of a policeman on a street.
Iraq's government is crushing unions and attacking union organizers, like Saddam, and prosecuting them for protests.
The Bush-created Iraqi government is becoming ever more tyrannical. It shoots peaceful protestors.
Which country will invade Iraq now to liberate Iraqis from this dictatorship?
The Bush forces are trying to find what happened to 8 billion dollars that were supposed to be spent on reconstructing Iraq's oil industry.
1500 Israeli police demolished a Bedouin village in order to plant a forest. The inhabitants were left homeless.
Israel is also demolishing a few houses built by fanatical Israeli "settlers" in violation of the construction freeze. (Other reports say there is a lot of construction; I think there are many exceptions to the freeze.) The fanatics protest this by harassing Palestinians.
While Netanyahu says the Bedouin pose a threat of rebellion, it is actually the "settlers" that do.
The strongest accusations against Pakistan's ISI may be unverified, but even if they are false, there are reasons to believe it supports the Taliban in some ways.
Wikileaks has revealed the war in Afghanistan as folly, doing nothing but harm to the states that know they cannot win it and are only doing harm.
If individuals were doing this, we would call it neurosis.
Survivors say a NATO rocket attack killed 52 civilians, and they say they think the NATO troops intentionally attacked civilians.
I am not sure that argument is valid. Malicious attacks on civilians were common in Iraq and maybe in Afghanistan, but error is common too. They may have jumped to a conclusion, ascribing to malice what might be explained by error.
If so, why did they do this? I expect, because they were already more sympathetic to the Taliban. That might be because the Taliban warn them to leave before there is fighting. Or because Karzai is corrupt and stole an election. Or both together.
In other places, the Taliban slaughter civilians intentionally. So why do they warn civilians in that village? Perhaps different tactics seem advantageous in different places. Or perhaps they are different groups of Taliban.
Philip Morris has used a toxic trade treaty to bully the government of Uruguay to back off some of its award-winning smoking reduction laws.
Swiss people should demand that their government adopt a policy that it will not enforce any trade treaties at the expense of measures to reduce smoking.
And countries such as Uruguay should terminate their free exploitation treaties.
Israeli police violently arrested protestors in Hebron, kicking them, stamping on them, even biting them.
Then the police arbitrarily banned some of them from participating in further protests.
French president Sarkozy, fresh from attacking Internet users, now plans to pick on Gypsies so as to look tough.
Participate in the "America's Got Net" competition.
Uniformed thugs in Egypt who attacked and killed anticorruption campaigner Khaled Said now face charges, but not murder charges.
Guards in a Mexican prison lend their rifles to prisoners who go out to murder.
The Afghanistan wikileaks show US military awareness that the ostensible plan to win in Afghanistan is not possible.
Interview with Jacob Appelbaum of Wikileaks about the Afghan intelligence logs.
Hackers replaced the EU's carbon-emissions trading site with a parody that explained the flaws of cap-and-trade.
This was an act of cracking because it involved breaking computer security. It was a hack because it was playfully clever (and pushing limits contributes too).
However, to "maximize the virtual damage" sounds bad to me.
USA-WMD: America's Covert Hiroshima in Iraq.
An Indian conglomerate is suing Greenpeace for copyright and trademark infringement over a game that criticizes one of its projects.
Sanctions on Iran seem to have made the regime more willing to negotiate.
With some more time we will see whether this is indicates a willingness to abandon the attempt to make nuclear weapons or just playing for time.
Leaked US intelligence logs quote informants' claims of Pakistani support for the Taliban, but those claims are unverified and could have been lies.
The logs show that the US often knowingly covers up killing of civilians. And most of these killings were not investigated.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are practicing terror against the whole population of Afghanistan.
Four al Qa'ida prisoners escaped from prison in Iraq with the help of the warden, who absconded.
India is cozying up to the dictators of Burma.
Since this is a competition between India and China, maybe they could be convinced to agree to jointly impose sanctions, postponing their competition until the dictators allow democracy.
China has imprisoned a Uighur journalist who warned that riots were coming.
CNN hypocritically attacks the social threat of anonymous statements. (That is sarcastic.)
Sakineh Ashtiani's lawyer was arrested and questioned. Then the Iranian dictatorship wanted to arrest him again, and took his wife hostage.
Iran's government is democratic in form, and for a time appeared to respect some kinds of democracy and legal rights, though tainted with the mysogyny and injustice of Islamic law. But now it is tearing up those rights, and becoming an outright dictatorship like that of the Shah.
US citizens: tell your senators to support the DISCLOSE act, which would require corporations to identify the political ads they fund.
And phone them too — a phone call carries more weight.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter and say, vote against the supplimental appropriation for the war in Afghanistan.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The Taliban have already offered to promise not to support attacks on other countries.
The Taliban offered in October 2001 to kick out Osama bin Laden if given evidence tying him to the 9/11 attacks.
In 1998 the Taliban isolated Osama bin Laden to stop him from participating from Afghanistan in attacks on the US, and even considered extraditing him to the US for the first World Trade Center bombing, but did not find the evidence of his involvement convincing.
A Federal court ruled part of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
Panama's government has launched repression against union leaders, after protests against right-wing give-back laws.
In Africa, paying people for not getting sexually transmitted diseases reduces the rate of infection. Even just giving small amounts of money to girls helps them avoid it.
Iraq is considering establishing a special court to try journalists, which would extend its attacks on freedom of the press.
The banks that caused the financial crisis also ripped off US states and municipalities for billions.
US citizens: call your senators to support renewable energy and protection against climate change.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Carne Ross says the UK foreign ministry is keeping secrets from the Iraq inquiry in order to protect the lies of witnesses, and that he was personally threatened and ordered to conceal some of these secrets from the inquiry.
The Yes Men are distributing their video through Bittorrent, because the US Chamber of Commerce is trying to prevent its distribution.
Saber Kushour has been convicted of "rape" for having sex with an Israeli woman while passing for a Jew.
The judge is not on the same planet as that woman. He said she lost the "sanctity of her body and her soul" because the man she quickly jumped into bed with was an Arab. People who have sex on such short acquaintance clearly don't regard the issue in such terms. People who have sex before getting to know their lovers should not complain afterwards that there was something they didn't know.
It does seem clear that Jews won't be arrested in Israel for failing to mention they aren't Arabs.
The US is moving towards witch hunts against illegal immigrants, fueled by false accusations against them.
All Americans are victims, since we all lose our freedom. I will not go to Arizona under these conditions, because I resent the requirement to carry papers to prove I am a US citizen.
Since this hysteria helps the right wing, I wonder if some of them looked forward to the economic crisis and intentionally blocked attempts to reduce it, just in order to build the crazy spirit they can use.
The problem for NATO is how to present withdrawal from Afghanistan as a success.
In the US, the lunatic right wing always condemns what moderates do. It will surely accuse Obama of having let the US "be defeated", and never mind whether that represents the reality. The only way to overcome them is to hit them hard; but Obama has no guts in confronting them. Like many Democrats who were not elected, he takes punch after punch and does not hit back.
The real lesson of the smear attack against Shirley Sherrod is that Obama has no guts to stand up to attacks from opposition.
We have seen more or less the same thing in legislation.
The US Senate passed a bill to defend Americans from UK libel law.
Israel has announced a reform of army practices to avoid atrocities.
This has the potential to make a big difference in future fighting, but it won't change anything unless there is political will for real change.
As the US removes most of the official US troops from Iraq, it is replacing some with mercenary troops. Thus it can pretend to have withdrawn more than it really has.
Stung by protests on behalf of Sakineh Ashtiani, Iran's government has acted like a shameless dictatorship, totally censoring the press and threatening her children.
It might be useful for opponents of the regime to start distributing tape cassettes, just as Khomeini did against the repressive Shah.
The head of the EPA has no idea what around 2 million gallons of dispersants will do to marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, or to people who will eat seafood caught there.
US citizens: sign this petition calling on the US to stop heeding the dishonest accusations from of right-wing smear campaigners.
The US Senate has given up on passing cap-and-trade for CO2 emissions.
Cap-and-trade has proved not very effective in reducing CO2 emissions, because the polluters can game the system rather than reducing pollution. Its weakness is that the bought senators' accusation is false — it isn't a true greenhouse gas tax. That tax is what we need.
Massachusetts citizens: phone your state representative to support the "right to repair" law.
I suggest saying it is not strong enough; that software sold in cars should be free software.
When the oil well exploded, alarms systems were shut off so workers could sleep. They had got lots of false alarms...
Managers careful about safety would have had the cause of the false alarms fixed. But that would have cost money, and they probably gave cost savings higher priority than safety.
The lesson is, high tech backup systems intended to provide safety in an activity that is intrinsically dangerous are less reliable in practice than in theory.
Brazil has made great strides in stopping illegal logging.
A giant oil-skimming ship was unable to collect oil from the Big Spill, because of Brainless Polluter's dispersants.
A proper spirit of precaution would have required such a giant skimmer to be made available in the Gulf in case any acident happened.
Fish caught in the Gulf are being tested for oil, but not for toxic dispersant.
US women: Obama is not your friend.
The policeman who attacked and killed protest bystander Ian Tomlinson will not be prosecuted. Not even for hitting a man with a stick for no reason.
Nobody will be prosecuted, because the police have protected their own.
After they lied to protect the killer, should we be surprised that they lost evidence to protect the killer, or that they confused the issue by arranging an autopsy by someone not trustworthy?
The policeman who killed Tomlinson probably did not plan for him to die. But those who are now granting police impunity for their killings are ensuring future deaths at the hands of these thugs.
Workers saw big safety problems on Bastard Polluter's drilling platform and were afraid they would be punished if they reported the problems.
Over and over one finds this sort of business conduct at the root of diasters.
Human Rights Watch concludes Chinese police shot Tibetan protestors and tortured prisoners.
As the rich rush to take control of the world's water supplies, a proposed UN treaty saying that people have the right to water to live is being blocked by the US and a few other countries.
Bullying Polluter is trying to buy scientists by funding their research but forbidding them to publish.
Tropical forests are being destroyed to grow soybeans to feed to cattle.
Other ways of feeding cattle may be better, but we shouldn't forget that we also need to grow less cattle and eat less meat.
Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5 (Security service), affirmed that the invasion of Iraq increased support for Islamic terrorism and allowed al Qa'ida to enter Iraq. And UK intelligents reports before the invasion warned the government this would be the result.
Cindy Sheehan has proposed automatic conscription of government officials, CEOs and war advocates into the armed forces.
Obama's proposed national oceans policy can potentially prevent oil spill disasters, but it's not inevitable. Existing regulations might have prevented the big spill, if only the government regulators had demanded strict compliance. Why didn't they? Did powerful bought politicians urge them to go easy? Or was it their own initiative?
Theoretically superior future policies could equally well be nullified if they are not properly enforced. And this is why a total ban on drilling is attractive. It would be much harder for officials to find a excuse not to enforce that.
NATO is starting to realize it has to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
If Americans want to talk with the Taliban from a position of partial strength, they had better start soon. The Taliban are getting more powerful every year.
Hundreds of starved dead penguins are washing up on Brazil's beaches. This raises concern that a collapse in small fish are the cause.
Two Christians in Pakistan who faced charges of "blasphemy" for distributing Christian pamphlets were murdered outside the courtroom.
I find those pamphlets annoying, so I can't blame Pakistanis for feeling annoyed too. But the annoyance of these pamphlets is no excuse for killing their distributors, or charging them with a crime. It is a simple part of freedom of speech — something Pakistan does not respect.
Most Islamic countries do not respect religious freedom or freedom of speech. They deserve to be rebuked persistently for this.
US citizens: call your congresscritter to support the Mine Safety Act. Or send email through this page (which also provides more information), but a phone call will carry more weight.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Reportedly blogetry.com was not shut down as part of the War on Sharing, but rather because some (one?) among the 70,000 contained copies of some al Qa'ida information (or maybe just a link to it) which made death threats against specific people.
The offending material remains available in al Qa'ida's own site from which it was obtained. Copying the threat could be wrong, but would have little effect on the danger to anyone who was threatened, so there was no need to rush and take drastic measures to remove the copy. Shutting off the whole site is equivalent to arresting the whole population of a small city because of an accusation against a few inhabitants. And why tell the site owner he could not have the data from the site?
If BurstNET did this on its own initiative, then should restore the rest of the site promptly or else be penalized.
The Israeli government is destroying the authority of its judiciary by repeatedly disregarding Supreme Court decisions that recognize legal rights of Arabs and Palestinians.
In another move towards fascism, fanatics in the government (as well as fanatical gangs they support) threaten to punish, even kill, teachers that criticize Israeli government policies.
When slightly loosening the siege of Gaza, Israel said it would allow in construction materials for UN projects. But it is not doing so.
A Libyan aid ship heading for Gaza landed in Egypt after Egypt agreed to forward its cargo and passengers (including construction supplies) into Gaza.
Egypt could solve the problem of construction supplies in Gaza by allowing them into Gaza all the time.
However, Egypt would not be able to help overcome another aspect of the siege: stopping Palestinians from travelling between Gaza and the West Bank.
Noise pollution from ships makes it hard for whales to talk with each other, and that can harm them.
Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu is being kept in total isolation, says Mairead Maguire, pleading for Israel to let him leave.
Unapproved genetic modifications in rice are spreading in China and getting into the food supply.
Tens of thousands of Bengali Dalit refugees were imprisoned, killed by police, and/or dispersed in poverty around India.
Speculation by hedge funds is driving up food prices and causing ruin for the poor.
The US government shut down a site with 73,000 blogs as part of its war on Internet users.
The site was shut down without a trial, which shows total disrepect for the rights of Internet users. Whatever complaint anyone had about this site, even if it were valid, summary punishment for secret reasons is tyranny.
Tony Nicklinson is paralyzed from the neck down, and hates living that way; his lawyers have gone to court to insist on his right to die.
Everyone: tell Costco to stop selling unsustainably caught fish.
The Home Affordability Modification Program is supposed to help US home-owners keep their homes. It occasionally does so, but mostly it just helps banks make money.
US citizens: support the pledge to fight corruption in Washington.
Bullying Polluters has a consistent attitude towards safety measures: disregard them whenever possible, to save money, and make contractors ignore them too.
Professor Kletz says it takes ten years for a company to alter a bad safety culture. That's because the sanctions used are not strong enough. I think government inspectors enforcing a zero-tolerance policy could make changes occur much faster. But that would require political will in the government to defy the pressure of large corporations — something today's US elected officials fail to have.
The secondary conclusion is that we should not allow an oil company to be as large as BP is. If a contractor takes safety seriously, BP will stop doing business with it, and they are afraid of that. If BP were chopped up into 10 competing companies, none of them would have so much power.
Growing animals for meat puts a tremendous strain on the environment.
Thus, people generally need to reduce their intake of meat.
Omar Deghayes says the British government is still covering up how its agents connived at torturing him.
US citizens: sign the petition for a real investigation of the Sep 2001 terrorist attacks.
They especially seek architects and engineers, but others are welcome to sign.
Singapore arrested Alan Shadrake for writing a book criticizing the death penalty in Singapore.
US citizens: sign this petition to appoint Elizabeth Warren to police Wall Street.
You can add a message calling for Geithner should be fired; I did.
A poll shows that Afghan men in Helmand and Kandahar expect and want the Taliban in power, and want NATO to go away.
There is nothing that the US can do to change this. Women might disagree, but they are not organized to fight or defend their rights, and we have no way to enable them to do so.
NATO's strategy in Afghanistan is failing, and could be making the Taliban stronger.
Both NATO and the Taliban kill civilians, but in different ways. NATO kills them by not valuing their lives enough to avoid it (some effort is being made now to change this), but the Taliban kill them deliberately, for intimidation.
If Karzai's government were capable of inspiring loyalty and support, the Taliban's actions would make people hate the Taliban and want to defeat them. But it isn't, so Afghans can learn about many Taliban atrocities without hating the Taliban enough to want to fight them.
US citizens: tell Obama not to ban abortion coverage for transitional health insurance pools.
EU commissioner Chris Patten condemns the siege of Gaza. He also says that Israel's supposed "settlement freeze" is bogus; construction is proceeding rapidly.
People are using kites and balloons to photograph the big spill, since the US government is helping Blood-handed Polluter keep journalists away.
The Afghan soldier who killed three British soldiers told the media that he was angry at killing of civilians — but forgives the Taliban for doing likewise.
Every army in war always kills civilians. Some armies do this gleefully, some try to avoid it, and others (such as the US in Afghanistan for a long time) give low priority to the issue. But even with strenuous efforts it still happens. The civilians accept these casualties as necessary if they regard the army as fighting for them or their country/tribe/group. This soldier's answers reflect his view that the Taliban, not NATO, is fighting for his country.
When people think that, there is no way NATO can win their support.
US citizens: tell your senators to support the Refugee Protection Act.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
A comic treatment of the danger of the surveillance state.
If you want to be sure a cell phone is not tracking you, or eavesdropping on you, you need to take out all the batteries.
China's industry is producing a crushing burden of pollution of every kind.
In 2002-2008, the US gave large subsidies to fossil fuels which were over twice the subsidies to renewable energy generation. But that underestimates how bad things are, because over half the subsidy for "renewable" energy generation was for corn-derived ethanol, which drives up food prices and uses lots of nonrenewable fertilizer. So the real ratio was over 7 to 1 in favor of nonrenewable energy.
Nothing is more threatening to Israel's occupation of Palestine than the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement. So Israel tries to deny and cover up the movement's existence.
Goldman Sachs got off easy: its .5 billion fine is just one week's revenue, and the financial reform bill will do nothing to restrain it from committing similar fraud again — or from causing another bubble and another financial crisis when it bursts.
The fascist Israeli right wing is attacking Israeli Arab members of Parliament, both by voting special laws against them and physically attacking them as they speak. The attacks threaten to spread to Jews as well.
The direct effect of the occupation/siege of Palestine is to cause suffering and death of Palestinians. Israelis are safe from this direct effect, but defending the indefensible occupation/siege leads to destruction of human rights for everyone in Israel.
The Big Pollution tentatively appears to have been capped.
So why didn't BP have this containment cap ready before drilling the well, just in case? Why wasn't it required to have this cap ready? As well as the equipment for every other method that was tried and might have worked? The failure to require these things was an instance of taking extra risk in order to cut costs.
Many countries have pledged aid for Haiti but most of them have paid nothing.
Adam Dillon says Bullying Polluter is keeping reporters away from cleanup workers and threatening to fire anyone that talks to the press.
This June was the warmest June ever recorded, capping the hottest first half year ever recorded. Greenland's glaciers are melting fast.
A record heatwave in Germany has destroyed a large fraction of the crops. Heatwaves come randomly, and Germany might not have one next year. But these random peaks start from a base that keeps rising.
The new Droid-X phone is designed to sabotage itself if users try to modify it. This should be illegal if it isn't already.
I cite this article for the facts about the phone, but I disagree with the author's general willingness to accept other, not quite so nasty practices to restrict users and stop them from changing their software. Nonfree software is always an injustice.
The article falls into deep confusion by talking about "intellectual property in software", a conceptual construct which does not correspond to reality.
"Intellectual property laws" is a misguided generalization that refers to a dozen or so laws that have, in their requirements and effects, nothing in common. It is a useless and distracting concept but at least it corresponds to a number of laws that are real. However, to postulate a single something, and say these unrelated laws are about it, is to take leave of reality.
The negotiation of ACTA continue in the most secretive and hypocritical manner conceivable.
If the "three-strikes" punishment-on-accusation proposal appears to be gone, it may just be disguised inside requirements about liability for ISPs.
The Taliban are carrying out a nasty intimidation campaign against women in Afghanistan.
The Taliban's oppression of Afghan women, together with somewhat looser but nonetheless oppressive restrictions on Afghan men, is why I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. The reason I no longer support it is that the government of Karzai also oppresses women, although less, and is too corrupt to inspire the loyalty to win a civil war.
Ultimately there is no force in Afghanistan that can defeat the Taliban now that the window of opportunity that started in 2001 has been squandered.
B'liar personally pushed to deport suspects to Egypt, disregarding warnings they might be tortured or executed there. Later he personally ordered the foreign office not to provide legal assistance to UK citizens imprisoned in Guantanamo.
Jack Straw, as minister, encouraged sending a UK citizen to Guantanamo; later he lied about it.
A Yes Men-style hoax web site announced that France would return to Haiti the enormous ransom that France extracted for allowing Haiti's independence.
Look at it soon, because it seems France is going to try to shut the site down.
France is more interested in avoiding attention for how it drove Haiti into poverty than in doing anything to correct the problem.
China has shut many blogs and is attacking blogging sites too.
Massachusetts citizens: call Senator Brown and insist that he support the DISCLOSE act, to make corporations identify the political advertisements they pay for.
You can find some advice here.
The world is ignoring genocide in progress in Darfur.
The next cause to fight for in Argentina is abortion rights.
The senate passed a financial reform bill which makes some improvement, but fails to do address the biggest problem: banks that are to big to fail. Apparently these banks are stronger than our democracy. We have to regard them as an enemy, and aim to defeat them.
The B'liar regime's ministers actively planned to send British citizens arrested in Afghanistan to Guantanamo.
UK agents explicitly threated Omar Deghayes with imprisonment in the US, where he was subsequently mutilated.
Now we understand why the UK was so mysteriously unwilling to campaign to protect the rights of those UK citizens.
Big Polluter pours dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico; nobody knows what effects they have. The EPA's tests to determine whether they kill fish were inadequate.
Russia is trying to blame the murder of Natalya Estemirova on a Chechen rebel fighter who is dead, apparently to protect the officials whose wrongdoing she exposed.
North Korea is experiencing starvation.
This is the result of North Korean government policies, and the real solution is regime change. Every empire falls eventually unless it is propped up. So I hope that humanitarian intervention won't be designed to prop this one up.
The US and Britain broke an agreement with the Iroquois to recognize their passports.
US citizens: sign this petition telling the EPA to strictly regulate toxic coal ash.
Toxic chemicals are ubiquitous and their cancer danger has been underestimated.
New Orleans police face criminal charges for shooting unarmed people for no reason at all, then covering it up.
I wonder if there is any investigation of how the police kept a large group of refugees without cars from fleeing to safety from New Orleans.
The world is running out of phosphate rock to use for fertilizer, and will need to get it by recycling waste.
This will need energy, and unless that energy is renewable, it will increase global warming.
Indonesia Declares Partial Halt to Deforestation; Will Obama Help?
Decreasing violence in Kashmir has opened the path towards deforestation.
Palestinian legislator Abu Teir remains in Israeli prison, refusing to accept arbitrary expulsion from Jerusalem where he lived.
US citizens: sign this petition to the USDA against approving genetically modified alfalfa.
Breaking the Silence's criticism has pressured the Israeli Army to investigate a few Gaza war crimes, but it still tries to deny and cover up the general orders which systematically led to killing of civilians in Gaza.
Syrian president Assad asked for peace with trade and normal relations with Israel, if it returns the Golan heights.
15 months after an Israeli soldier killed a nonviolent protestor in Bil'in, the army has agreed to investigate the killing.
Meanwhile, Adeeb Abu Rahma, a nonviolent protest leader from Bil'in, remains in prison indefinitely after a trial that was ridiculous.
Other nonviolent protest leaders have been imprisoned without trial. Child protestors (under ten years old) have been arrested and interrogated in cruel ways.
Gush Shalom's court case against Israel's inquiry into the attack on the Gaza aid ships achieved one gain: the inquiry will be allowed to question soldiers.
I doubt however that this will affect its conclusions, since the government has set up the inquiry to be inadequate in several ways and this only corrects one of them.
Documents prove the UK conspired to send its citizens to Guantanamo.
A new method of measuring poverty shows that poverty is much more widespread in India than previously believed.
The ACLU has sued to overturn a draconian Internet censorship law enacted in Massachusetts.
Afghan troops that serve Karzai are mainly motivated by money. It regularly happens that they run off to join the Taliban, sometimes killing NATO troops as they leave.
This reflects Karzai's lack of ability to inspire loyalty. It is hard for an army of people without loyalty to win a war.
Al Shabaab, one of the factions fighting to control Somalia, has carried out a deadly bombing in Uganda, which has troops in Mogadishu.
The US brought this about when it sent Ethipian troops to Somalia in 2006, overthrowing the Islamic Courts Movement which had finally united Somalia and brought peace.
That government was hardly a good one, since it applied Islamic law. Islamic law is fundamentally unjust, and is especially cruel to women. But there was no way a better government could exist in Somalia, and it was much better for the inhabitants than constant war. It also did not try to attack anyone outside Somalia.
Thanks to the US-backed intervention, Somalia has returned to constant war and now al Shabaab exports terrorism too.
However, since the attacks were targeted at an intervention in Somalia, it might stop when the intervention stops.
Genetically modified crops designed to produce pharmaceuticals risk disastrous contamination of food.
As shown by Bare-faced Polluter's repeated disasters, caused by cutting corners on safety and preparedness, we cannot trust companies to maintain safely. The only way these genetically modify plants can be safe is if a physical system ensures they do not contaminate our food.
Separation between farms is not enough to prevent contamination. Maybe these plants should be allowed only for indoor growing. However, it is also crucial to choose plants whose pollen does not spread very far. Maize is the worst possible choice.
Israel has demolished more Arab homes in East Jerusalem.
Send a letter to the Wall Street Journal saying it should stop promoting global warming denial, and stop covering up the news that the leaked emails did not show any flaw in the science that demonstrated global warming.
Massachusetts residents: phone your state assemblyperson and senator saying you condemn censorship of the Internet, and that they should not vote for any law that tries to censor Internet publication or access. Protecting our freedom is more important than "protecting" anyone from material that someone doesn't like.
Shahram Amiri, Iranian nuclear physicist, says he was kidnaped and taken to the US and interrogated.
It is plausible that Amiri was kidnaped, and also plausible he defected and later changed his mind. I don't believe that the US government would be stopped by principle from kidnaping an Iranian scientist, but I am a little surprised it would risk the scandal that this could produce.
Population growth still endangers civilization and the biosphere even though the birth rate has decreased.
Sudan's president Bashir has been charged with genocide in the ICC.
The ICC needs more support from the US in order to act effectively against genocide. Dubya made many countries promise not to subject US agents to ICC jurisdiction.
UK protestors who were attacked by police for no reason won a lawsuit against the police.
However, they will not really get justice until the thug who attacked them is put behind bars.
There is new pressure for attacking Iran.
Unpleasant as the idea of Iran's having nuclear weapons is, there is no way to prevent Iran from making them. Located underground, they can't simply be bombed. It would be necessary to occupy various parts of Iran, and that would be a much bigger war than Iraq.
Tunisia has made it a crime to give information to foreign human rights groups.
The US has weakened its position to criticize this Tunisian law by making it a crime to teach groups labeled "terrorist" how to respect human rights.
Carne Ross testified in the UK's Iraq war inquiry that previous witnesses had lied or concealed crucial information.
Will they be pursued to obtain the truth?
Next time you hear people speak admiringly of Mother Teresa, show them this article.
Some large African animals have lost 60% of their population, and are thinning even in protected parks.
Sri Lanka's government is arresting and killing journalists as well as dissidents.
A journalist blows the whistle on Seed Magazine, which censored a column about Bhopal in order to get advertising from Dow Chemical.
We often suppose this sort of thing happens often behind the scenes, but it is very interesting to have eyewitness testimony.
Over and over, US police shoot innocent Black people, and say "Oops!"
Israel's annexation wall has cut off the village of Al Walaja from most of its land. Next, instead of cutting off the rest, it will build a wall all around the village, making it hard for anyone to leave.
We can expect Israel will decide that some inhabitants are forbidden to leave.
Per capita annual income in Afghanistan, around $500. Per capita bribes paid, around $150.
There are ways a government can reduce corruption, but they require firm political will — something Karzai can hardly provide.
Australia has postponed its mandatory web filtering, but this is just a reprieve, not a victory.
The NSA is making sleazy deals to increase spying on the US internet.
The US government is protecting Big Polluter by threatening reporters with felony charges if they come near cleanup sites. Which is nearly the entire Gulf shore.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been granted a reprieve from execution by stoning, but she might still be executed in some other way.
Shaming Iran for stoning people to death is effective, so don't let up the pressure.
The US also practices the barbarity of capital punishment. Just as in Iran, a substantial fraction of the people executed had ridiculous trials, just not quite so evidently ridiculous.
Afghanistan is a catastrophic failure, which our leaders refuse to admit, because admitting defeat is unthinkable. They have to promise victory around the corner.
Similar denial occurred in Vietnam too.
One additional factor not mentioned here is the way most foolish Americans bowed to the pressure to "support our troops" in Iraq. To resist this distorted idea of patriotism is why I decided to call them "the Bush forces". They started out as the armies of the US and whichever other countries Bush was able to bully, but when handed over to him, they became the Bush forces. Manifestly what Americans owed them was simply to reclaim them.
Sri Lanka is moving further into total tyranny, as government-organized "protests" shut down the UN office to prevent investigation into government war crimes.
The rulers of Sri Lanka, while totally unscrupulous and willing to kill those who criticize them, might be sensitive to trade sanctions.
The UK has abolished the special powers that let police search anyone for no reason in certain rather large territorial areas.
Those laws were mostly applied against protestors and photographers, but proved inadequate to protect the UK from democracy or from photography.
The IMF called on most wealthy countries to maintain deficit spending.
This means the IMF agrees with Paul Krugman. This is an amazing reversal from the IMF, which is famous for imposing fiscal austerity even to the expense of making children pay to go to school.
Europe could eliminate 95% of its carbon emissions and pay for it by savings petroleum.
Increased income typically makes people judge their lives more favorably, but has much less effect on how happy they are.
Medic Andrew Duffy says that the Bush forces ordered medics in Abu Ghraib to give badly ill prisoners no medical care, to cover up torture, and even to participate.
And this was in 2006, long after torture was supposedly stopped there.
Abid Naseer, considered a terrorist suspect in the UK but with no valid evidence to prosecute him, has now been accused by the US of conspiring to plant bombs.
Although he remained at large in Britain, Abid Naseer as a suspect was watched sufficiently that he was caught before he could really do anything. With all the ways the police can monitor a person's actions today, which are legitimate given a court order which they had plenty of grounds to obtain in this case, a person in such a situation has little chance of doing significant harm even if he tries.
These events appear to vindicate the principle of not punishing people on mere suspicion and not deporting people to where they face torture.
Is there any discussion of abrogating the unjust and one-sided US-UK extradition treaty? Since the US never ratified it, the UK should simply say it never took effect.
Naseer may deserve to be extradited; if so, the previous, just extradition treaty will serve. It requires an extradition hearing, but if the US has real evidence linking him to this plot, it will have no trouble prevailing in that hearing.
Everyone: Wish the Dalai Lama a happy 75th birthday.
US citizens: thank Attorney General Holder for suing to overturn Arizona's "show your papers" law.
The UK will grant asylum to refugees who show they face danger because they are gay.
I applaud this decision. As for the economic burden of absorbing future refugees, that will not be a problem if other countries adopt a similar policy.
Israel expels thousands of Palestinian residents from Jerusalem every year on various pretexts. Now it has begun doing so explicitly for political reasons.
Iraqi Sunnis continue attacking religious processions of Shi'ites. This violence is surely fueled by resentment over the expulsion by Shi'ites of Sunnis from most parts of Iraq, including most of Baghdad.
To end the violence would require reconciliation between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which won't be easy, and a government dominated by Shi'ites is likely not to try.
Fahem Boukaddous faces four years in prison in Tunisia for covering protests.
The idea that this coverage was a threat to public order reminds me of some of the logic provided by neocons to excuse their attacks on human rights in the US and elsewhere.
Several investigations show that the Climate Research Unit's science was valid, but the scientists acted too defensively towards criticism and requests for data.
Dogmatic capitalists think that giving is just stupid, even giving what you got for free.
Israeli colonies have taken control of 42% of the land in the West Bank.
The UK government plans to put legal controls on access to its records of all car travel in the country.
This is an important step forward, but not enough to make the tracking and snooping acceptable. The system should not recognize any car unless there is a court order against it.
The UK has a long history of supporting Islamic militants for various reasons, and often this has backfired.
The same is true of the US, and even Israel, which promoted Hamas in the 1980s to undermine the PLO.
I think a few points in the article are invalid, or else based on 20-20 hindsight. Some of these groups were the only choice available for a crucial job. For instance, defeating the Soviet Union (a horrible empire) was very important; Afghanistan was the place this could be done. Everyone there is a Muslim of some kind, and anyone fighting the Soviet occupying forces was likely to be rather fanatical after if he didn't start that way. So there was little alternative to what the UK and US did.
If someone grisly is going to be in the next government in a country, then unless the UK plans to try to overthrow it (which is only occasionally wise, even if it is justified), making diplomatic contact with that next government is necessary.
But these don't invalidate the overall point of the article.
Prominent Israelis accused the police of dishonestly attacking Palestinian protestors in Jerusalem.
Copyright as censorship: Nevada Republican candidate Sharron Angle threatened to sue Democrats for posting her old web pages to show the views she published a couple of months ago.
The Israeli government set up a phony inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships, and Gush Shalom has sued demanding a real inquiry. The government has made a small concession hoping to relieve the pressure, but Gush Shalom will not drop the suit.
What accessing the Internet will be like in 2025.
The major US newspapers called waterboarding "torture" until they found out that Bush had ordered people to do it. Then they stopped.
Here's the study which established these facts.
Arizona plans to cope with the boycott over its "show your papers" law using the "change the subject" PR technique pioneered by the tobacco companies.
Tax-exempt charities in the US support Israeli seizure of Palestinian land in the West bank.
Some of Colombia's paramilitary thugs are helping find the corpses of the people they killed, in exchange for reduced sentences.
Among the crimes these paramilitaries committed were murders of union organizers in the Coca Cola plant. I think these murders continued past 2005. They were the motive for the worldwide boycott of Coca Cola Company.
US companies are heavily involved in China's censored search engine, Baidu.
Rangzieb Ahmed has won the chance to appeal his conviction for planning terrorism, on the grounds that he was tortured.
If crucial evidence was extracted from him through torture, it is clearly worthless. If that evidence was not needed to convict him, maybe his conviction should stand. But those guilty of conniving at his torture must be prosecuted.
Palin compared Obama to Hitler, for making BP pay for the damage of its pollution.
This is backwards, because Hitler was as kind to business as he was nasty to Jews and Gypsies.
Corporate executives who take risks with other people's lives and livelihoods should be punished like drunk drivers.
A witness who resigned from the UK foreign office testified that reports on Iraq were made by a series of distortions that added up to a lie.
George Monbiot: Conservative plans to deregulate the UK will cause billions of dollars, plus many lives, until eventually the government reregulates. But the Labour party has squandered the moral authority required to fight this through its own surrenders to business.
The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative faces threats from unjust treaties.
When I reported on the passage of the IMMI resolution, I was under the impression that it was a law, that the program was in effect. It appears that was only a decision to proceed to write and adopt laws that would actually protect freedom of the press.
The Lugano agreement seems to have made the unstated assumption that no signatory country would apply its jurisdiction to acts under the jurisdiction of another signatory country — an assumption that is false today. If the article is accurate, this treaty threatens freedom of the press all around Europe. It won't be the first disaster to human rights caused by European intergovernmental organizations.
The right fix to the Lugano treaty is to limit its scope, so that if country A issues a judgment over an act that took place in country B, to enforce that judgment in country B requires a hearing in country B to determine whether its laws would support the same judgment. This is comparable to the principle of "double criminality" that most extradition treaties uphold: country A won't extradite you to country B for an act which wouldn't be a crime in country A. (Did the unjust UK-US extradition treaty abandon this principle? Please tell me if you know.)
In the mean time, every government in Europe that values freedom — if there are any — must give freedom of the press clear priority, by declaring its refusal to recognize foreign judgments over domestic publication. In other words, "If you take issue with any publication done in this country, you must sue here under our law."
The UK is now considering libel law reform, which is overdue; but even if the UK eliminates this problem, any treaty allowing one country's laws to restrict publication in other countries is a disaster in waiting. The oil companies and MacDonalds only need to pay one government to adopt new laws under which companies could easily sue anyone that criticizes them, and they could impose censorship on all Europe.
A news photographer taking photos of a Big Polluter refinery was stopped by police and forced to show his photos to a Big Polluter agent.
Any real terrorist who wanted to photograph the refinery could easily disguise the activity, so these measures can only cause trouble for the press.
You can buy t-shirts that criticize security theater.
Talking with groups labeled as "terrorist" is necessary for figuring out which ones it is possible to make peace with.
Thus, the prohibition on "giving support" to these groups, which the insane US supreme court interpreted to include even explaining human rights law to them, tends to perpetuate rather than solve international problems. Whether intentional or not, this serves the purpose of those who can take advantage of continued conflict, even continued terrorism, by assuring them the "long war" they want.
Babar Ahmad has spent 6 years in prison in the UK, threatened with extradition to the US on bogus charges. Before Al Hamza can be extradited to the US, it has to promise to treat him humanely.
Ideally the US constitutional prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment" ought to be enough to assure this, but it has been interpreted in a weak and inadequate way. What the UK really needs to do is discard its extradition treaty with the US, which the US never ratified anyway, and go back to the old treaty.
Lloyds of London warns it is time to prepare for peak oil.
Will the response be conservation and renewables? Or will it be oil shale to hasten the following disaster of global warming?
Libya has sent a ship of aid to Gaza.
I don't trust the government of Libya to keep arms off a ship to Gaza. Also, Libya was (and may still be) in favor of destroying Israel; therefore its attempt to aid Gaza lends itself to the interpretation that it is aimed at that goal. Gaza aid ships should come from countries which are not enemies of Israel and can be trusted to ensure that the ships carry only civilian goods.
Cuba has freed 1/3 of its political prisoners.
It is a step in the right direction. Meanwhile, Russia has placed artists on trial for art that the state does not like.
Everyone: sign this petition demanding Bullying Poisoner allow cleanup workers to wear protective gear.
Brazil proposes a law against DRM that interferes with fair use.
There are 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and any of them may start to leak. The US government has given oil companies a pass on safety standards.
For the short term, this doesn't matter much — an additional small leak in the Gulf today would hardly be noticed. However, in the longer term, we must take the risk of future leaks into account as one more argument against further undersea drilling.
The wealthy world helped Haitians survive after the earthquake, but is doing very little for rebuilding. The people who were made homeless still live in camps.
Some economists argue that using the euro as their currency will force many years of bad times on some European countries.
A single currency for a region effectively means just one fiscal policy for the whole region. Whatever policy that is, it will be better for some parts of the region and worse for others. If the parts that gain make up the other parts' loss, they can all benefit. But the EU is failing to do that.
It looks like Israeli agents killed Ashraf Marwan in London in order to steal his unpublished memoires.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement really stings in Israel, and a proposed law would penalize anyone advocating a boycott. Not only statements of support would be penalized, but even publication of relevant information. Companies that manufacture products in the colonies in the West Bank have been known to lie and say these products were made in Israel. Would this law empower them to sue anyone that publshes the truth? This fascist proposal illustrates what Israeli peace activists have said for decades: that the occupation of Palestinian territory is corrupting their country at every level. Neve Gordon, one of those threatened by this bill, explains the aims of the BDS movement: not against Israel, but against Israel's occupation. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/11/israeli-academic-boycott-commentary
There are two versions of the consumer boycott: one that boycotts all Israeli products, and the other that boycotts only products made in the West Bank colonies. I've decided to support the latter one. My support is limited to words, however, since I never come across any Israeli products that I might have considered buying.
UK citizens: tell Ofcom how you think it should enforce the Dinosaur Economy Act.
Ofcom has asked a large number of rather narrow questions: it seeks suggestions about details of an activity that is fundamentally wrong. But you need not limit yourself to answers that Ofcom will consider helpful, and you need not base your answers on the supposition that the Dinosaur Economy Act's malicious intentions ought to be carried out. I suggest responding to each question in a sincere way based on your ideas of how to achieve the results that would be good for society.
You could also talk about this perverted advice on "internet safety" for chidren.
That page is full of lies; for instance, it says that copyright infringement is legally the same as theft. It then tries to blame] file sharing for various unrelated risks of internet use — like saying masturbation will make you go blind. Reputable free software for file sharing does not pose any risk of these problems.
But the dishonesty at the heart of that page is that it pretends to help you to protect your family, when its real purport is to threaten your family. It "protects" your family the way the mafia "protects" your business.
It is an outrage for a government to ask people to send Microsoft Word files. In effect, this means the UK government promotes Microsoft. So send your response in email, using plain ASCII (they won't have any difficulty reading that), and explain why you diregarded a very bad suggestion.
If you email your response to email@example.com it will be visible in http://stallman.org/dinosaur-economy.
Tiny floating pieces of plastic kill a million seabirds every year, and 100,000 marine mammals. And the ocean, compared with 60 years ago, is almost empty of fish.
I wonder if we could develop a solar-powered automated ship to recover these plastic pieces.
Uri Avnery: Three Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have taken refuge in the International Red Cross so that they cannot be arbitrarily expelled.
If Israel gets away with expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem for their politics, it will expel them all. It will spread the expulsions over a period of a decade or two, hoping that the world won't notice.
Everyone: sign this petition calling on Iran not to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and to end the practice of stoning.
Turks have gone to court to challenge Internet censorship.
Bradley Manning faces criminal charges for passing the Collateral Murder raw footage to Wikileaks.
I think there should be a campaign to give him the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserves it more than last year's winner.
Obama greeted Netanhayu as if begging for his approval.
Apparently the doubt in Washington about blindly supporting the Israeli hawks is still something Obama doesn't dare support.
The UK government will hold an inquiry into collaboration with torture carried out by the US, Pakistan, etc.
However, it will not prosecute anyone.
The government also plans a new law to block from the courts the evidence that revealed this torture, and thus created the need for the inquiry.
This law would grant UK agents impunity in practice, so they could safely conspire for future torture with no fear of another such inquiry. All to protect the reputation of the US.
Instead of pressuring the UK to help protect US torturers, Obama should make the US come clean about its torture activities, and end the practice once and for all.
1/4 of all species of flowering plants are threatened with extinction due to human activity. And that is without considering what global warming will do.
ATM vendors forced a security researcher to cancel a talk about security bugs ATMs which those companies have refused to fix.
100 Iraqis are campaigning for legal redress in the UK because they were tortured by British soldiers in the Bush forces.
Meanwhile, Obama has followed Bush in preventing US torture victims from getting heard by courts.
A former police chief says that the B'liar/Clown regime's attacks on human rights, carried out in the name of preventing terrorism, actually had the opposite effect.
Obama will sue to overturn Arizona's "show us your papers" law. I applaud the move, but the justification given fails to state what is really bad about this law: forcing people to carry papers and show them.
The law may well be racist in intent and in effect, but that is a side issue since it attacks the rights of everyone regardless of race.
A Sea Shepherd activist received a suspended sentence in Japan.
Nearly all Americans want a constitional amendment to limit corporations' influence on elections.
Global warming cools the ionosphere, which slows down the orbital decay of space junk, making it more dangerous.
Pakistan proposes to imprison journalists for "defaming" state agencies — essentially, for criticizing the government.
This would add to laws that impose the death penalty for criticizing Islam, producing a thoroughgoing tyranny.
Madagascar's government has eliminated restrictions on cutting down the forest, putting the island's future at risk as well as its lemurs.
The previous government was overthrown because it planned to accept foreign-directed oppression.
The ACLU published extensive documentation how police in the US systematically infiltrate and attack democratic activity.
The House of Representatives voted to cut aid to Afghanistan because Karzai has not allowed his cronies to be investigated for stealing a lot of the past aid.
Garment workers in Bangladesh have launched big protests against employers who don't pay them the meager salary they are supposed to get.
A preliminary EPA study concluded that dispersants didn't harm some mature animals. This was misreported as meaning they are safe.
If the dispersants are less toxic than oil, that would be directly pertinent if we had a choice between one and the other. However, the choice we have is between one and both. Moreover, it seems the dispersant helped the oil get under booms and into wildlife sanctuaries. Thus, in addition to its own toxicity, it extended the reach of the oil's toxicity.
Turkey has imposed filtering on the Internet for censorship purposes.
Smokers are suing a tobacco company to pay for regular scans to check for early stages of lung cancer.
The tobacco companies knew, from their secret research, that smoking caused various diseases, and concealed the results from the public while pretending this was not true.
US citizens: call on the US government to end ideological exclusion: refusing scholars and artists entry to the US because of their political views.
The US and its puppets (Peru and Colombia) are the only defenders of the coup-installed regime in Honduras.
A prominent Cuban historian criticized official corruption, and has been punished and silenced in various ways.
People who die in England may be buried in an artificial undersea reef that will provide shelter for young fish and crustacians.
This could be very important in the future. When coral reefs die due to excess acidity in the ocean, and lots of people die because there are few fish left in the sea, burying them in artificial reefs could enable fish to come back.
Climate models suggest most of the Amazon rainforest may disappear within a century, and large parts may become desert.
These models are not certain. The only way to be certain is to try the experiment and see. Who wants to risk disaster? (Megacorporations, don't all raise your hand at once.)
These senators, from states with over 10% unemployment, have repeatedly filibustered to block extension of unemployment coverage.
Undersea explorer Sylvia Earle says Blythe Polluter is still withholding crucial data from scientists, and the US government is not helping the scientists get it.
The UK government is investigating how its soldiers in the Bush forces tortured Baha Mousa to death, but refuses to answer questions about other specific prisoners also tortured to death. And there may have been hundreds victims.
The Peruvian colonial government has expelled Paul McAuley, who has helped indigenous peoples to organize to resist the destruction of their land to extract petroleum.
These peoples will be hit twice: whatever part of their forest is not destroyed by the drilling will dry up and burn due to global warming produced by the petroleum.
The US government, in ordering Peru to destroy its land this way, is keeping the world fixed on the path to destruction. A simple decision not to extract petroleum from those areas in Peru for 40 years would ensure higher oil prices and thus conservation, and then maybe the Amazon rain forest would not turn into desert.
Women in Iran are frequently sentenced to death for having sex.
This illustrates the thorough injustice of Islamic law. It is evil and nothing can excuse it.
The Supreme Court says that the fairness of company-imposed arbitration requirements can be decided by the company-imposed arbitrators.
Blind Polluter intends to draw only small lessons from the disaster it has caused. It says it will continue undersea oil drilling, and continue mining tar sands from Alberta.
The problem with tar sands is not the risk of a spill; it is the certainty of poisoning lots of water and contributing heavily to global warming. Improvements in safety precautions won't do anything about that.
US citizens: send a message to Obama against letting ACTA restrict the Internet.
There is a sentence in the page that makes me gag: "It's not because we're crypto-pirates looking to steal digital content." That sentence endorses the enemy's propaganda, referring to copying as "stealing" and people who share as "pirates". (Even referring to published works as "content" is foolish.) The second half of that sentence seems to grant legitimacy to putting shackles on the wrists of the "pirates". That's what happens when you use the enemy's propaganda terms: you start making foolish concessions.
However, this sentence is not in the message that people are invited to send to Obama, so I can still support the campaign.
When I sent a message, I changed the text. I replaced
I am discouraged by the news that around the world, different governments have been requiring ISPs to cut users off from the Internet if they are accused of infringing copyrights. Mistaken accusations have been made and innocent users have been cut off from a vital communication tool, without due process.
It is an outrage that some countries punish people accused of forbidden sharing by disconnecting them from the Internet. The fact that this happens without due process illustrates how the War on Sharing has contempt for the basic idea of justice.
This avoids suggesting that punishment by disconnection might be legitimate if only they held a proper trial to verify the user's "guilt".
I am discouraged by the news that around the world, different governments have been requiring ISPs to cut users off from the Internet if they are accused of infringing copyrights. Mistaken accusations have been made and innocent users have been cut off from a vital communication tool, without due process.
Police in London arrested a teenager for taking pictures of a parade.
Putting the issue of Internet pornography in context.
Despite the fuss made about porn with "extreme sexual violence", the porn I come across doesn't have it. I believe it exists, but it is just a subgenre.
If I saw it, I would probably find it as disgusting as the extreme nonsexual violence in Pulp Fiction. But disgust does not justify censorship.
Workers in China are starting to organize and strike.
So far, the opposition of the "workers'" state and party has prevented this from affecting a broad range of companies. A Chinese Communist leader famously said "some people have to get rich first", and some have done so. How hard will the party fight now, to prevent the rest of China from following them?
Forget the incompetent Russian spies in the US — the real spy threat comes from the US puppet government of Colombia.
Corporate-controlled senators have blocked any chance of legislation to try to stop global warming.
Senators who aim to prevent climate disaster should not make the mistake of dropping the issue. They should write a good bill and put the corporate flunkies in the position of blocking it, so that they can be made to pay for that in the election.
Redd is supposed to pay poor countries to reduce logging, but they have found ways to cheat and get paid while continuing or increasing the amount of logging.
The corruption of African politicians such as Kabila can't be blamed entirely on the evils of the former colonial regime.
However, the evils of foreign powers didn't stop when the Congo's independence. Since the US and Belgium supported Mobutu, their culpability continued till around 1997. It may not even have ended then. Does the US government support the companies that buy the minerals that fuel the civil war?
The US "Trusted Internet Identity" proposal is a
threat to privacy and anonymity on the Internet.
Labour in the UK is trying to move on from its invasion of Iraq,
without acknowledging or understanding the disastrous wrong it
Some of the history behind the US Declaration of Independence
that isn't usually mentioned.
It is anachronistic to condemn anyone in 1700 for slavery or trying to
disposses another people; we have only later learned that these are
wrong. The Declaration of Independence represented an advance in thinking
about government even if it did not raise these ethical issues.
By contrast, judging the conduct of George II based on how we
once condemned George III is entirely appropriate. He can't
present the excuse that such lessons were unknown in the past.
The ACLU has
sued to challenge the US No Fly list.
Why Patents Might Threaten Free Online Video.
To me, the no-cost license through 2015 smacks of a trap.
Iran is the
world leader in imprisonment of journalists. 3000
journalists in Iran cannot work because editors are afraid to hire
Washington is seriously
doubting its decades of unquestioning
support for Israeli expansionism.
A couple in the UK face a threat from the state for letting their
children bike to school for a few minutes unmonitored.
I am still not ready to ride a bicycle on a street with significant
car or pedestrian traffic, but when I was 6 years old I walked several
blocks to school in Manhattan, and didn't need anyone to hold my hand.
Unless Dulwich is a much more dangerous place than Manhattan, I think
this is a fine example of stultifying overprotectiveness.
The US Republican Party leader Steele faces flack from other Republicans for
it is foolish to try to win a war in Afghanistan.
When Steele calls it a "war of Obama's chosing", he's not entirely
wrong. Dubya started the war (which, I am obliged to acknowledge, I
supported because of the tyranny of the Taliban), then Dubya ignored
Afghanistan to invade Iraq, thus giving the Taliban a chance to come
back. Obama has no responsibility for all of that. But Obama decided
in 2009 to continue and escalate the war; now, a year and a half
later, it continues by his choice.
An official restudy of the IPCC report found several minor errors
but nothing to cast doubt on the conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions
are driving the world to disaster.
A study of world-wide climate policies says they are on track
for 4 degrees C of warming in this century, which would mean the
eventual collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.
The resulting rise in sea level would flood cities including New York
and Boston, as well as a large part of Bangladesh, Florida, etc.
Meanwhile, climate scientists in the US are
getting death threats for trying to prevent that disaster.
ethical for doctors to prescribe placebos? Although they have
no value as medicine, they do help some patients recover from real
Perhaps prescribing a placebo is acceptable when there is nothing
better to offer provided the doctor avoids claiming it is medically
eased the Gaza blockade somewhat. Most everyday use items will
be allowed in, but no exports are allowed, so what comes in will only be
deliveries of aid.
Israel still excludes building materials, with which people could
rebuild the homes destroyed by Israel's bombing and shelling in 2008.
The EU wants to
take notes on everyone's search engine use.
Privacy International's statement about this attack
on everyone's privacy.
break diplomatic relations with Israel unless Israel
accepts an international inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
Labour in the UK is trying to move on from its invasion of Iraq, without acknowledging or understanding the disastrous wrong it committed there.
Some of the history behind the US Declaration of Independence that isn't usually mentioned.
It is anachronistic to condemn anyone in 1700 for slavery or trying to disposses another people; we have only later learned that these are wrong. The Declaration of Independence represented an advance in thinking about government even if it did not raise these ethical issues.
By contrast, judging the conduct of George II based on how we once condemned George III is entirely appropriate. He can't present the excuse that such lessons were unknown in the past.
The ACLU has sued to challenge the US No Fly list.
Video Prison: Why Patents Might Threaten Free Online Video.
To me, the no-cost license through 2015 smacks of a trap.
Iran is the world leader in imprisonment of journalists. 3000 journalists in Iran cannot work because editors are afraid to hire them.
Washington is seriously doubting its decades of unquestioning support for Israeli expansionism.
A couple in the UK face a threat from the state for letting their children bike to school for a few minutes unmonitored.
I am still not ready to ride a bicycle on a street with significant car or pedestrian traffic, but when I was 6 years old I walked several blocks to school in Manhattan, and didn't need anyone to hold my hand. Unless Dulwich is a much more dangerous place than Manhattan, I think this is a fine example of stultifying overprotectiveness.
The US Republican Party leader Steele faces flack from other Republicans for acknowledging it is foolish to try to win a war in Afghanistan.
When Steele calls it a "war of Obama's chosing", he's not entirely wrong. Dubya started the war (which, I am obliged to acknowledge, I supported because of the tyranny of the Taliban), then Dubya ignored Afghanistan to invade Iraq, thus giving the Taliban a chance to come back. Obama has no responsibility for all of that. But Obama decided in 2009 to continue and escalate the war; now, a year and a half later, it continues by his choice.
An official restudy of the IPCC report found several minor errors but nothing to cast doubt on the conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions are driving the world to disaster.
A study of world-wide climate policies says they are on track for 4 degrees C of warming in this century, which would mean the eventual collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.
The resulting rise in sea level would flood cities including New York and Boston, as well as a large part of Bangladesh, Florida, etc.
Meanwhile, climate scientists in the US are getting death threats for trying to prevent that disaster.
Is it ethical for doctors to prescribe placebos? Although they have no value as medicine, they do help some patients recover from real problems.
Perhaps prescribing a placebo is acceptable when there is nothing better to offer provided the doctor avoids claiming it is medically active.
Israel has eased the Gaza blockade somewhat. Most everyday use items will be allowed in, but no exports are allowed, so what comes in will only be deliveries of aid.
Israel still excludes building materials, with which people could rebuild the homes destroyed by Israel's bombing and shelling in 2008.
The EU wants to take notes on everyone's search engine use.
Here is Privacy International's statement about this attack on everyone's privacy.
Turkey will break diplomatic relations with Israel unless Israel accepts an international inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
US citizens: phone your senators saying they should extend unemployment benefits.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: call on the US government to end ideological exclusion: refusing scholars and artists entry to the US because of their political views.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support H.R. 5652, which would crack down on phony abortion clinics that trick women. Or send an email through this page.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
UK citizens: use Clegg's "Your Freedom" project to call for repeal of the Dinosaur Economy Act.
The company OCTEL bribed foreign governments so it could go on selling toxic tetraethyl lead for use in gasoline. The plea bargain let it off with hardly any penalty.
Gazan lawyer Fatima Sharif, forbidden by Israel to travel to Ramallah for a course on human rights law, has gone to Israeli court to demand permission.
Israel had better change its policy, before people conclude that it is absurd to mention Israel and human rights in the same breath.
Fiji threatens to imprison journalists.
Documents show B'liar was informed that invading Iraq would be illegal, one day before he promised Bush to support the invasion.
B'liar should be put on trial, and so should Bush.
Methane coming from the leaking well is causing a dead area, with too little oxygen for a fish to live.
Protestors who sabotaged an arms factory in the UK were found innocent, on grounds they were preventing war crimes that Israel would commit using the arms it was buying.
US citizens: sign this petition for strong antitrust enforcement against concentration among milk distributors that is driving dairy farms bankrupt.
The Republican platform in Texas involves censorship, attacks on homosexuals, and punishment of anything but vanilla sex.
One key provision of the original patients bill of rights was killed by insurance company lobbyists.
Many of the steps forward in the recent bill won't take effect for several years. I think the insurance companies tried to buy themselves time to undo these changes before they ever take effect.
The US has accepted Israel's phony inquiry, designed to whitewash its attacks on the Gaza aid ships. But some Israelis have gone to court demanding a real investigation with the power to investigate.
A high level of disease and parasites in a country seems to correlate with low average IQ. Perhaps the burden of fighting off disease during childhood causes stunted brain development.
If this theory is true, it follows that failing to provide proper medical care for all children is stunting their minds for life.
People in the UK avoid getting tested for Huntington's disease because they fear higher insurance payments.
It makes sense for insurance companies to discriminate against people who predictably will get a disease. The idea of an insurance company is that customers pay for the insurance company to take on their risk. If you know the risk is higher, naturally you should pay more.
This is why medical care should be provided by a national health system, not by insurance companies. The idea of a national health system is not insurance, it is to give everyone care.
I think it should be mandatory to abort fetuses with Huntington's disease. Abortion is not wrong, because it is impossible to wrong a person who never actually exists. By contrast, to make a person exist and get Huntington's disease is a grave wrong. You should let some other potential person become real instead.
The CIA has given Blackwater another contract despite its history of misconduct.
What Panetta left unsaid about this decision was that it is the consequence of (1) not deciding to disqualify Blackwater, and (2) the continuing to hire mercenaries for such jobs.
US citizens: sign this petition calling on COSTCO to stop selling seafood from unsustainable fisheries.
When B'liar was seeking excuses to stop the UN arms inspectors from finding that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass distruction, he pretended that French President Chirac was unalterably opposed to the war.
B'liar used that lie as a premise for this argument, "Since France will certainly veto another UN resolution, we may as well attack without trying to one." The argument had another dubious premise: that it was legitimate to attack without UN approval.
The UK is reconsidering the US-style blind policy of imprisoning as many criminals as possible for as long as possible.
"Democracy" in the Congo (DRC) is really just a state based on plunder, which the world powers accept because they want the minerals.
The Toronto police arrested hundreds of protestors and bystanders, for little apparent reason; then kept then inhumane conditions, providing insufficient food, insufficient water (sometimes with urine in it), insufficient toilet facilities, sleep deprivation, and painful cold.
They were also denied access to lawyers. Then they were released on the street without their money, phones, credit cards, passports and shoes.
The article says the police specifically intimidated the people who were arrested. But it goes deeper than that. I think the whole purpose of this operation was intimidation: the Canadian government wants an intimidated people, on whom it can impose whatever laws the empire demands, people who will not say no.
Toronto police admitted they lied when they claimed special search powers near a fence around the G20 area.
The real regulation that actually was passed might have been legitimate if it had not been secret, but any secret law is automatically unjust.
Azerbaijan imprisons journalists and puts them in mental hospitals because of what they write.
Any system that gives soldiers bonuses for shooting people is likely result in such murders. Once they think of certain people as trash, they will proceed to think that it's good to kill any or all of them, and that's how they can reconcile the murder and the lies with their consciences.
Police in Toronto bottled up a group of protestors, plus lots of passersby and people trying to go home from work, attacked them, and squeezed them into a small area for 4 hours as a storm came down.
It is clear that the goal of this police action was to attack democracy. The Canadian government, like many others, regards the people as pawns to be used, and when they don't do as ordered, that is a nuisance to be put down.
We must never grant legitimacy to the dirty maneuvers that the police use to sabotage protests. Therefore, when Lisan was told "You should have left earlier", she should have replied, "Why should I have left at all? I had a right to be there, and I have a right to protest. Or are you claiming this is no longer a free country and we no longer have any rights? Are you being used to destroy our freedom?"
And when she was warned to stay away from protests for 24 hours, on pain of some unspecified punishment, she should have proposed immediately that everyone on the bus meet there the next morning. To fail to do so is to accept, in effect, that the police are entitled to order people arbitrarily to stay away from protests.
Undercover police in another protest were caught on video trying to start violence. Other protestors tried to stop them.
As usual, the police force is now lying about this.
I am told that a different group of protestors managed to burn some police cars. I find it hard to say that was wrong, but it probably undermined the effect of the protests. Perhaps they were undercover policemen too.
The banksters' congressional representatives put loopholes into the banking reform bill that will give them many more years of taking crazy risks with the economy.
Israel plans to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make an archeological park. Since Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in Jerusalem, these families will be unable to move even if they get compensation.
"Settlers" have seized and occupied two houses in the area, and Israeli troops regularly attack local residences to protect the thieves.
Police in Oklahoma tazered a bedridden old woman, after stepping on her oxygen hose to make her pass out. That was after they had thrown her grandson on the floor and handcuffed him. He had called 911 worried that she wouldn't take her medicine.
I wonder if next the police will charge both of them with crimes. That's what police usually do after they go on a rampage against someone innocent.
That this happened to that particular man and his grandmother was random chance, but the fact that it happened at all was due to the system that the police follow (including their training).
Israel has 200 Palestinian prisoners who have not been charged or tried.
Conservationists have succeeded in eradicating goats from one of the Galapagos islands, and reintroducing the tortoises which had been almost wiped out.
US citizens: sign this petition to Obama to reject imprisonment without trial.
A woman in Abu Dhabi has been sentenced to prison for telling the police that she was raped.
It is an injustice to punish victims of violence. It is also an injustice to punish people for having sex. These injustices reflect the basic cruelty and injustice of Islamic law.
Meanwhile, there is one aspect of this problem that everyone in the UAE can help to correct: the general condemnation of women that have sex. The way to change this is by saying you disagree with it.
The world faces risk of a long depression because of Hoover-style economic policies.
Here is what Krugman wrote: A crucial difference between now and 1932 is that then the Democrats offered a real alternative, whereas now the Democratic Party is a milder version of the Republican party.
We need to ask, What would FDR do?
Iran postponed further nuclear uranium negotiations to "punish" the UN.
What this shows is that Iran has no interest in reaching any agreement in the matter. In other words, the postponed negotiations will be a waste of time.
The fact that Iran is already enriching uranium beyond what is needed for nuclear reactors shows that its goal is to make nuclear weapons. It is probably impossible to prevent Iran from finishing the job.
I expect that Iran will be deterred from its using nuclear weapons by Israel's nuclear weapons, and that the main effect of Iranian nuclear weapons will be for propaganda effect, distracting fools in Iran from the tyranny their government exercises over them.
Amnesty International blasted Obama's lousy record on human rights.
A new approach in aid to the poor is to give money directly to poor people.
According to this article, what was done in New York was not simply giving money to poor people, but rather rewarding those who carried out certain actions: in this case, making their children go to school. Education is important, but compulsory schools have serious problems (see Instead of Education by John Holt). I am not sure how much education a school can provide to children that don't want to be there, but maybe some of them decided to study.
Policies like this one, applied to schools that don't act like prisons but rather tell students to leave if they don't try to study, might result in a net improvement.
However, what poor countries need most is a lower birth rate. If we can stabilize the world's population at 8 billion instead of 9 billion, many species might survive instead of being destroyed, we might have less ultimate global warming, and poverty will go down. So I suggest combining this idea with the one described a few weeks ago, by giving poor people a certain amount in each year in which they do not have a child.
Toronto police arrested many "key activists" in advance of protests against the G20, without letting them call lawyers or even read the warrants for their arrest.
Paris plans to set up hydroelectric generators under bridges on the Seine to raise awareness of the need for renewable energy.
Water mills were placed under the bridges of Paris in the 13th century. The bridges made the current speed up, so this was a good place to put the mills.
A year after the coup in Tegucigolpe, political resistance to the "elected" regime continues despite many assassinations. Naturally, the US backs this criminal regime.
The dishonest tactics of global warming deniers are revealed: they seized on a minor flaw in the IPCC climate change report (pointing to the wrong reference), and "exposed" it as if it were a major failing.
Iraq's Ancient Ruins Face New Looting. It would not surprise me if corruption were part of the cause.
Bankster congressmen such as Barney Frank put strategic loopholes into the banking reform bill.
In a formal sense, the bill makes progress, since it tightens the regulations on the banks. But I think the loopholes will enable the banksters to minimize the effect (bad for them, good for us) of the bill.
A new Toronto law allows police to harass everyone for the sake of preventing protests against the G20 meeting.
Pakistan has begun systematic Internet filtering, for purposes of religious censorship.
Censorship is a threat to freedom, and we must not tolerate filtering of the Internet on any pretext whatsoever.
"The polluter pays" needs to be established as a rule for business world-wide, not just in the US.
However, the US government works actively to protect corporations from this (as shown by its actions in regard to Bhopal) because its first loyalty is to the biggest business. It goes along with public condemnation in situations like Big Polluter when the public condemnation is too strong for the government to resist. Then it goes back to bowing down to business when it thinks the public isn't looking any more.
Police in the UK monitor dissidents — even dissidents that don't engage in civil disobedience — calling them "extremists".
Protests over the electricity shortage are shaking the Iraqi government.
It is a change for the better, that Iraqis are focusing their ire on an issue that can unite them all.
ICANN is setting up a domain .xxx for pornography, playing into the hands of plans for censorship.
EU governments want to use ACTA for a harsh crackdown on Internet users.
Then they will say, "It is impossible to ever change this, because it is a treaty."
What it shows is that these governments are traitors; they represent the empire of the megacorporations. The people they supposedly serve and represent, they really regard as property.
A UK court limited handing over prisoners to the Afghan government so that they won't be tortured.
Wouldn't it be nice if the US government did as much to avoid torturing people?
Rwanda's government is moving towards tyranny, as opposition parties have been excluded from the coming election. A leading journalist was assassinated, apparently by the state.
4000 people protested in Egypt against a murder by the police.
Police naturally tend to commit acts of aggression and lie about them, whenever the political situation supports such activity. Compare for instance the beating and subsequent prosecution of Peter Watts by US border police. The Egyptian emergency law gives police even more immunity and support, so they can go further.
Israel has relaxed the siege of Gaza a little, but still bans many things like cocoa powder whose uses are for making food.
Peru's right-wing president has vetoed a law to give rural people control over mining and oil drilling in their territories.
Garcia serves the megacorporations through their agent in Washington. He signed a trade treaty with the US that allows foreign corporations to mine, destroy and pollute; then he required Obama's permission to make concessions to avoid civil war. When he says that all Peruvians should have the same rights, he means the rights to be despoiled all alike.
Maybe Peru's congress should modify the law to apply to urban areas as well. Why shouldn't city dwellers also have control over extraction in their localities?
Barney Frank, often thought of as a Liberal, is now working for the Banksters.
Conservatives warn that Obama's deadline for starting to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is foolish. They are right about that, as far as it goes. To set a date two years in advance for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan while setting out to win the war was always absurd. It's like specifying that a straight line pass through three chosen points: usually there is no such line.
The surge in Iraq played little role in ending the fighting there and the idea makes little sense for Afghanistan. If there were any chance of winning the war, the deadline would indeed risk throwing it away.
But since there is no chance of winning, there is nothing to lose by withdrawing troops starting on some arbitrary date. How about 1 July 2010?
Citizens of Massachusetts: support sentencing reform, allowing parole and prison work and education programs for prisoners with mandatory sentences for drugs.
50 in Congress called on Obama not to approve a pipeline to bring oil from Canada where it would be made from tar sands. Making oil from tar sands produces a lot more greenhouse gas than just burning the oil. To use these tar sands is to refuse to divert the train off the track that goes over the cliff.
US citizens: Sign the ACLU's petition for a law requiring a court order for the police to look at your email, cell phone tracking records, etc.
Rangzieb Ahmed was sentenced to life in prison in the UK based on evidence that Pakistan wrung out of him by torture, at the UK's request. Now the UK government is trying to protect its torture policies from being judged in Ahmed's appeal.
Australia's Prime Minister Rudd proposed to tax mining companies more, so they drove him out of power.
I have no love for Rudd, who wanted to impose filtering on the Internet. (Maybe the new Prime Minister, Gillard, does too.) What is clear is that she's an opportunist who is willing to bow down to business. Australians were fools to be taken in by business threats.
The Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967 should have taught the lesson: don't use dispersants! They are toxic, and make the toxic oil more dangerous to marine life.
Governments should charge market prices for water beyond the basic amount people need for living.
Some years ago, South Africa had a market fundamentalist policy of charging even for all water use, and cut many poor people off the water supply. That caused an outbreak of cholera.
It seems that South Africa has corrected that abuse. Market fundamentalism is crazy and cruel, but markets are useful for conservation when the policy is properly designed for that.
Many parts of the US have water shortages and are depleting acquifers. This is a track headed for disaster. Auctioning irrigation water could be the solution.
Pakistanis are angry at the Pakistani army and elite and at the US. Workers have forced the government to reject an IMF-imposed austerity plan. Some of the demands are impossible. For instance, maintaining low electricity prices is hard to reconcile with ending shortages. Part of the answer to "How can I feed my children" has to be "have fewer children."
With so much pesticide and monoculture in rural areas, the city has become the safest place for bees.
Keeping bees alive in cities is not enough; it will not enable them to pollinate crops. Agriculture has to be reformed so bees can survive outside cities.
After Israel attack the Gaza aid ships, most mainstream media repeated a series of Israeli lies, and rebroadcast Israel-supplied photos, video and audio recordings. They were faked, doctored, or spurious.
US citizens: Sign this petition to stop Obama from distorting and ruining a law that would enable corporate stockholders to limit CEO salaries.
A politician must have sold out totally to the rich to do what Obama is doing now. When I was young, we had a word for such politicians: "Republicans".
Indians condemn Obama's double standard, condemning Big Polluter while shielding Dow and Union Carbide from responsibility for killing tens of thousands of people in Bhopal.
Perhaps Obama considers that dying from poison gas is a kind of torturer, and he always protects US torturers.
Israeli Arab human rights defender Ameer Makhoul, now a political prisoner, has been imprisoned without charges and without access to a lawyer. After 3 weeks he was permitted to have pen and paper and to write this letter.
Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were not granted Israeli citizenship when Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, only "residency permits". Israel can cancel these permits for many reasons, such as if the person goes to work abroad, or to study in the US. Then these people are forbidden to live where they were born.
Drug lord Christopher Coke, whose gang fought gun battles with Jamaican police, was arrested by them as he headed to the US embassy to surrender for trial in the US. Apparently he is afraid that he will be killed while in custody in Jamaica.
The ACLU asked South Carolina not to erase records of voting machines, because of the suspicion they were used to rig the Democratic primary.
US citizens: sign this petition to various US leaders to adopt a firm plan to move the US away from oil and nonrenewable energy.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support the DISCLOSE act, which would make corporations take responsibility for their political ads.
You can also sign this petition, but phone calls carry more weight.
Obama sacked General McChrystal for insubordination, and replaced him with General Petraeus to show this means no change in strategy. However, the result is more public doubts about the strategy. It's true that Taliban rule over Afghanistan would be a disaster for women, but the Karzai regime is not much improvement. RAWA condems them both, and rejects the idea that outside intervention is justified for Afghan women's sake.
A Federal judge ruled that Obama'a moratorium on oil drilling was illegal. It turns out he owns stock in oil companies doing undersea drilling.
Sarah Palin asked for "divine intervention" to end the Big Pollution in the Gulf.
Whatever god was on duty must not like her, because the cover which was collecting half of the newly spilled oil developed trouble, and had to be pulled off.
The whaling negotiations reached no agreement.
A new agreement could have led to reduced hunting of whales, but if it had been drawn up with loopholes, it could have backfired. I think Japan wanted to make it backfire.
Everyone: BP is preventing the rescue of sea turtles in an endangered species so it can kill them and they won't be counted. Sign this petition to allow rescue of the turtles. Burning the oil may be a good idea, since the oil that is burnt won't pollute beaches and marches. Whether it becomes substantially more toxic this way, I don't know. But they can let someone rescue the turtles first. More information
I hope the people on these boats are wearing gas masks.
A collossal statue of Jesus in Ohio was hit by lightening and totally destroyed.
The builders must have thought that a lightening rod was unnecessary since they counted on divine favor. Perhaps they made Zeus or Thor jealous.
Tibetan conservationist Karma Samdrup was tortured by his Chinese prison guards, with beatings, sleep deprivation and drugs.
Two factors causing decline of bees and butterflies are known: pesticides and destruction of wild habitat. So it is possible to take constructive action now in parallel with further research. In the US, replacing lawns with meadows or gardens will help. It is rare that a lawn is really needed.
The Democratic senate primary in South Carolina was apparently rigged. It was supposedly won by someone who was basically unknown and who did no campaigning. And there are more discrepancies. The defeated candidate, Rawls, will protest the result.
General McChrystal has more or less recognized that the current US strategy in Afghanistan is failing.
It is no surprise for me, since it never made sense to presume victory within one year. It's like sending firemen to a big fire and deciding in advance that they will have it under control in 3 hours.
I originally supported the invasion of Afghanistan because of the tyranny and fundamentalism of the Taliban. But some of the Taliban have mellowed, and Karzai's government is not much less bad. Negotiations are called for.
The idea of weakening the Taliban before the negotiations sounds logical. But the Taliban are a guerrilla force, not a state with an army, so what constitutes their strength is their ability to recruit, not their tactical situation. They don't care about casualties among their soldiers, or even among leaders, as long as they can recruit more. What areas they dominate is less vital for them than whether they can do damage.
The only thing that could truly weaken the Taliban is increased support among Afghans for the official government, but Karzai is not capable of inspiring such support. Afghans won't feel loyalty for Karzai, not in one year and not in ten years.
So the negotiations may as well start now.
The giant Ixtoc oil spill in 1979 off the Mexican coast was bigger than the current spill — so far.
Oil from the Ixtoc spill is still present a short distance under the surface of beaches and marshes, and still harming sea life. If it is true that most of the Ixtoc spill oil was collected, burnt, or dispersed, the total contamination of the shore may already be greater from this spill than from the Ixtoc spill.
Thus, calls for the US to restore the Gulf coast to what it was are futile. Nobody knows how to do that. Billionaire Polluter can compensate individuals for their specific losses, but there is no way it can make things right again.
Massachusetts citizens: contact your state senator to support the resolution in favor of a constitutional amendment saying that the first amendment pertains to people, not corporations. You can determine your state senator from this page.
If you carry a cell phone, it tells Big Brother where you are. Now Apple wants to hand out the information too.
Using the lever of "You have a choice, but unless you say yes, your old activities will stop working" is something that Apple has done before, with malicious "upgrades". Apple ostensibly doesn't force people to accept the new nasty thing; it just punishes them if they don't.
There are universities that follow the harmful practice of making their own materials available through iTunes. If you are at such a university you should organize with others to demand an end to the practice.
Iraqi police shot and killed protestors complaining about the inadequate electricity supply.
Everyone: sign this petition calling on India to hold Union Carbide responsible for negligence that killed 20,000 people in Bhopal.
Obama is completely opposed to justice for the victims of US torture, which is little different from being an advocate of torture.
Not surprising, given that Obama also continues US torture.
Brash Polluter presented itself as brave for taking risks of causing a catastrophe. But it did keep its investors in the dark about the specifics of these risks and dangers. The investors told it to do so.
The US supreme court ruled that offering human rights training to organizations officially labeled as "terrorist" is illegal.
These organizations must not be allowed to learn about human rights, because that would conflict with the "terrorist" picture that the government has applied to them (perhaps for political reasons).
However, the core injustice of this law consists of declaring groups "terrorist" without convicting them of a crime. This violates freedom of association.
"What Congress decided was when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs." That is the theory behind the siege of Gaza, which shows it is wrong, and causes me to lose some regard for Elena Kagan.
Reportedly even giving them legal representation is illegal. Can that really be true?
The UK government rebuked an organizition for making proposals for a serious effort to save many lives endangered by junk food.
If heart attacks and strokes kill 150,000 people a year in the UK, and if 10% of those deaths can be prevented by eating better, that's 15,000 lives saved per year. In the US, with its larger population, I'd estimate 100,000 lives saved per year.
Compare the government attitude towards this tremendous danger with its attitude towards the far smaller danger of terrorist attack. Terrorists killed just under 3,000 people in the US in 2001, in attacks which have never been properly investigated, and we got a "Global War on Terror" that was an excuse to take away our freedom. Fat and salt have killed a million people in the US since then, but the US government is no more eager than the UK government to do anything about it. The reason is obvious: the "War on Terror" was an excuse to do what Bush (and Obama too) wanted to do, while the War on Fat would be "bad for business."
Burmese rebel armies sell drugs for export to buy arms to fight the dictators.
I thought that methamphetamine was commonly made near the people who are going to use it. I am surprised to read it is getting transported so far. I don't know enough about its effects to have an opinion about it, but it can't be as bad as a military dictatorship.
I wonder if they would stop selling the drugs if we simply give them arms they need. It might be too late for that; once an organization gets hooked on drugs, it has trouble getting off. If so, it would be a sad missed opportunity.
The posthumous publication of Li Peng's memoir about Tiananmen has been blocked through copyright law.
Copyright and censorship have been linked ever since the first English copyright law, around 1550. Its primary purpose was censorship.
A press report which criticized the IPCC's finding that 40% of the Amazon rain forest could be threatened by global warming has been retracted. The IPCC's conclusion was based on properly conducted science.
The Times Square bomber says he acted in retaliation because the US is "terrorizing the Muslim nations."
Retaliating by attacking civilians is a war crime, and no more acceptable when the victims are American then when they are Iraqi, Israeli, or Palestinian. But we must face the fact that US attacks against various countries will inspire retaliation. If we want the US to be safe from retaliation of various kinds, we should stop the US from fighting unjust wars.
Either the Ethiopian government has an astounding level of popular support, or it rigged the election.
Right-wing economic "experts" are trying to cut Social Security based on bogus excuses.
Brash Polluter had been informed of a flaw in its blowout preventer but went ahead anyway.
Greenpeace will back a deal to legitimize commercial whaling, provided the deal has strict conditions likely to bring about a decrease in the amount of whaling.
I have confidence in Greenpeace to insist on the right conditions. I therefore expect that Japan will reject any deal that Greenpeace would accept.
If US companies build new nuclear reactors, will they be safe?
When these companies tell us the risks of their nuclear plants will be insignificant, remember that Big Polluter said the same thing about its undersea oil well. Big Polluter lobbied for and obtained weak safety standards; then it asked for and was granted waivers not to follow them; then it cut lots of corners. Its response plan for an accident was bullshit.
I don't trust our government to stand up to the nuclear power industry any better than it stood up to the oil industry or the banksters. It has fully accepted the idea of obedience and subservience to big business, so it tends to "let industry regulate itself". Whatever level of safety these reactors might be capable of in principle, I won't trust US business to build them.
Amory Lovins showed that nuclear energy is neither necessary nor cost-effective.
The UK fired its special envoy to Afghanistan for not believing that the US and NATO can win a military victory there.
Colombia's President Horrible has been replaced by another right-winger.
Anyone who says favorable things about Horrible is not likely to try seriously to change his support for right-wing thugs (paramilitaries).
Donate to support Wikileaks.
Franco, dictator of Spain, gave Germany a list of Jews in Spain for future execution.
Franco ultimately didn't join World War II and didn't kill those Jews, but he killed thousands of Spaniards who were accused of political opposition. Franco's old supporters still have substantial power in Spain, and strive to bury the memory of his crimes and rehabilitate his dictatorship.
Israel has agreed in principle to partly relax the siege of Gaza. However, experience suggests Israel will come up with some sort of catch.
Pills with RFIDs could report over the internet what you take.
It is scary that people don't react with disgust to such ideas.
The US is using the arrest of Private Manning to scare people away from helping Wikileaks in any fashion. Daniel Ellsberg says he considers Manning and Assange heroes, and I agree. The members of the US armed forces swear to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Manning has carried out his oath as a true patriot.
He was tragically foolish to tell Adrian Lamo about it — he should never have told anyone. But that doesn't diminish the honor he deserves.
Big Polluter apparently lied to Congress as well as the public about the rate of spilling of petroleum.
This sort of cover-up behavior is par for the course with large companies that do things that endanger public health. The tobacco companies likewise covered up what they knew about the dangers of smoking tobacco.
Right-wing politicians who believe that budget cuts implement a moral obligation to make people suffer risk pushing Europe into a prolonged economic slump.
Not just fishermen: taxi drivers, electricians and club owners now want compensation because Big Polluter has destroyed their livelihoods.
This is the biggest disaster the US has ever seen, and it threatens to devastate a region spanning several states.
Meanwhile, the oil companies cause and risk similar disasters around the world, and repress local people who protest.
6 months before Bloody Sunday in Derry, the same British army unit killed 11 unarmed protestors in Belfast. Now the relatives of those victims call for a similar investigation, and say that the Army should have known something like this could happen in Derry because it should have investigated the first such incident.
Shooting people is what soldiers are trained to do. Putting soldiers into a political disagreement is very likely to result in shooting people who are not trying to fight. This is what has happened over and over in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Naomi Klein: It was in contempt for other human beings and for forces of nature that BP caused catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
After the comparatively minor disaster of the September 2001 attacks, Bush launched a "War on Terror". But the terrorists he attacked were just secondary enemies.
This really big disaster shows who our main enemies are: arrogant megacorporations that think they own our government, that give the people empty promises while they strip the world clean.
So where is the War on Big Business? We don't have one, because Obama is on their side rather than ours.
Uri Avnery: Israel's two supports — the US and Jews in other countries — are starting to turn away, and they will continue to do so unless Israel starts to value peace.
An oil company was convicted of grave safety failures that caused an oil depot explosion.
It is clear that trusting oil companies to obey safety standards is asking for disaster. Perhaps an elite corps of inspectors, who have the power to shut down any oil-related installation until it fixes its safety violations, might make them behave.
Japan is trying to buy votes in the International Whaling Commission, much as Microsoft bought votes in ISO to approve its phony "open" standard, OOXML.
Japan's eagerness for this deal convinces me it must be a change for the worse.
Israel is holding over a million dollars worth of personal property it took from the activists on the Gaza aid ships, and several activists say their stolen credit cards have been used.
Since Israel attacked these ships in international waters, I believe this theft constitutes piracy.
Sea Shepherd ships released 800 illegally caught bluefin tuna from fishermen's nets.
Here's an article by one of the Sea Shepherd crew.
I am against surveillance and tracking of individuals in general, but surveillance is appropriate for certain activities that expose the world to special risk. So I think every ship involved in large scale fishing should be required to carry a GPS tracker and video recorders, so compliance with fishing rules can be positively checked.
Meanwhile, fishing for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean should be banned so stocks can recover. The current policy courts disaster to avoid making some businesses uncomfortable.
Big Polluter's stockholders have sued, claiming the management defrauded them by falsifying an adequate safety record to inflate the stock price.
It is also interesting that Hayward promised to focus "like a laser" on safety, but responded to safety-related questions in Congress by saying "I know nothink, nothink." If that's how he handles what he focuses on, he is evidently incompetent.
Hayward tried to pass the blame to the company that made the blowout preventer. Even if it was partly to blame, that doesn't absolve BP of responsibility for its corner-cutting, both in the drilling itself and in preparedness to respond to a leak.
The UK deported Iraqi refugees who fear being killed. Iraqi and British guards beat them up to make them leave the plane in Baghdad.
Kyrgyzstan's interim president Rosa Otunbayeva pledges to rebuild the city of Osh and invited the ethnic Uzbek refugees to return. World powers did nothing to help end the outburst of fighting and ethnic cleansing, and if it was engineered by ex-president Bakiyev, he may strike again in another city.
Lawn fertilizer and pesticides poison birds, fish, and sometimes children, and their production contributes to global warming. Replacing them with gardens, trees, wild vegetation, or even rocks is an improvement.
Almost half the European Union's budget goes to subsidizing large landowners.
This policy harms small farms, as well as wasting public money.
Israel has made the expected small step to loosen the siege of Gaza, but critics have not been fooled.
Prosecutors claim they the Times Square bomber received funds from the Pakistani Taliban.
The US has attacked the Pakistani Taliban dozens of times with missiles from drones, and I think the attacks continue every week. If they tried to counterattack with the weapons available to them, that should not be shocking.
This doesn't mean however that they hate us implacably. If we withdraw the US troops from Afghanistan, and stop the attacks in Pakistan, they will probably cease to be interested in us.
Is that a reason to withdraw the troops? If we were fighting for something important there, this would be no reason to stop. It would be craven to abandon a cause so important that it could justify a war, merely because the enemy fights back.
Obama is persecuting government whistleblowers more than any president before, even Dubya. He does not want us to know the truth. The search for Julian Assange of Wikileaks is therefore very much a threat to all of us.
Hunger has returned to India, as the rich half (hand in hand with big business) effectively colonizes the poor half.
US citizens: send a message to Obama about getting the US off its petroleum habit. I added the following two paragraphs as a personal message:
In practice it is impossible to stop the oil companies from passing along increased taxes to the public; but we should not wish to stop them, because higher prices will discourage use of oil, and we need that. We should increase taxes on all fuels that, when burnt, will release greenhouse gases.
Requiring new permit applications is not enough to make deep water drilling safe. Just as we require ships to take on pilots to navigate in certain congested waters, we should require deep drilling platforms to have pilots too. This means a government safety monitor must be on the platform (at the driller's expense) whenever certain operations are carried out, armed with the power to stop the drilling if he sees anything unsafe.
The NATO forces in Afghanistan have been unable to cope with attacks by IED. If it is impossible to win the war, that is not due to a single weapon. The weapon has its effect in a context. That context is that Afghans dislike the Taliban but corrupt Karzai inspires no loyalty.
Cleaning seabirds covered with oil is futile; nearly all will die soon anyway, and the handfull that don't die from the oil will have no place to go.
It might be worth cleaning birds of rare species so as to breed them in zoos. Maybe in 50 years they will be able to return to their former habitat.
A miner who told the press about dangerous conditions in a Massey mine (not the same one where workers had recently been killed) was fired just afterward. Massey has a history of unsafe practices; the accident in April was waiting to happen, and more will happen if there isn't a crackdown.
General Motors cars have built-in cell phones, and like many cell phones, they can be used for eavesdropping. A US appeals court ordered the FBI not to do this — only in certain states — for reasons based on the current design of the system.
I would not get a GM car if I were you. But then, maybe you carry a cell phone in your pocket which can also be used for eavesdropping. It has that feature because it has nonfree software in it: the phone company controls it, and you don't.
It is not just the police that can listen to you. Others can too.
Terrorists in Bangladesh tortured Gulam Mustafa, and threatened to kill his family "in a crossfire" if he didn't confess to their accusations against him.
These terrorists go by the name of "police". They accused Mustafa of planning terrorism in the UK, and it looks like they were acting for the UK government in torturing him.
Whether Mustafa was indeed planning crimes in the UK is impossible to determine from whatever he may have said under torture.
Meanwhile, doesn't it violate basic principles of justice to "freeze" (in effect confiscate with the possibility of return some day) a citizen's assets without convicting him of a crime?
Pakistan's intelligence agency denies having seats on the Taliban's board of directors, and Pakistan's government denies the president met with imprisoned Taliban leaders. However, if the reason Zardari doesn't meet with Taliban is that he has ceded control of Pakistan to the military, that is hardly an improvement.
If the Bush forces really do leave Iraq, they will leave behind toxic waste, in addition to the millions of refugees and government torture.
Homeopathy in the UK is on the run, as the evidence it is just a placebo becomes impossible to evade.
A whistleblower who calls himself "Mr Whale" says that most of the staff on the Japanese whaling fleet are there to steal and personally sell some of the whale meat.
Even nastier, the ships kill more whales than they admit, keeping the most salable parts and throwing away the rest of the whale carcasses.
Everyone: sign this petition against allowing a resumption of commercial whaling. Previously I read that the current proposal was meant to reduce whaling in exchange for legitimizing the reduced amount as commercial activity. That kind of compromise might have been a step forward. However, now that it seems Japan expects to increase whaling, I am sure the proposal was bad.
A Venezuelan journalist has been sentenced to prison for publishing an accusation against a public official.
I think these laws, which trample human rights and facilitate corruption, are old and predate Chavez' election; but if so, he still has the responsibility to eliminate them.
NASA says this year so far is the hottest year on record.
For the Big Pollution, as for the September 2001 attacks, the people trying to be help face danger from toxic fumes. We know that Big Polluter is mainly responsible for the disaster in the Gulf, although other companies might be responsible as well. We still don't know who was responsible for the September 2001 terrorist attacks — perhaps 20 Saudis, perhaps someone in the Bush regime, perhaps both, perhaps someone else, because Bush did not allow a real and honest investigation.
Afraid to return to their home countries and forbidden to stay in the UK, the homeless asylum seekers don't even dare beg. They eat what they can buy with their tiny Red Cross handouts.
Even if we could remove the excess greenhouse gas quickly, the already-warmed oceans would continue causing changed rainfall patterns (floods and droughts) for decades.
The UK government says it will refuse to subsidize new nuclear power plants. The other crucial question is, will it give an indirect subsidy by protecting them from liability or costs of handling the waste? Without some kind of large subsidy, nuclear power is totally uncompetitive and nobody will build it. Investments in renewable power and in energy efficiency are far more productive.
A blueprint for a zero-carbon-emissions Britain in 20 years involves substantial changes in agriculture, but life would be basically as now, without nuclear power.
Big Pollution is heading for Cuba as well as Florida. When the Cuban exiles in Florida and Cuba share a disaster, will they be able to become less hostile?
BP will put 20 billion dollars into a fund to pay damage claims.
I doubt this will be enough to cover the loss of decades of fishing, not to mention tourism.
Bill Gates cites copyright enforcement to justify Chinese censorship. Microsoft executives used to call us communists, but they are now clearly revealed as the ones who support communist-style dictatorship.
Bush took Maher Arar off a flight home to Canada and handed him over to Syria to be tortured. Obama told the courts to refuse to give him justice, and the Supreme Court agreed.
Until the US takes responsibility for its acts of brutality, it must be considered a rogue state.
International connections through the US only occasionally cause you to be tortured, but they are always a pain in the neck. I did this once and learned never to do it again. Why learn the hard way? Avoid connections through the US.
Don't volunteer to help in the cleanup in the Gulf unless you check that you have a proper breathing mask. It could cause you permanent lung damage,
The copyright industry has set up an "astroturf" or phony grass-roots campaign for an unjust Canadian copyright law. I think their strategy is to generate enough appearance of support for C-32, which cannot be provably and directly traced to them, so as to provide an excuse to the politicians who have been paid or bullied to support it. They will say, "The public seems divided on the issue, so why not do what the US demands?"
CDM Watch says that the system for trading carbon credits is being gamed by business and creates perverse incentives, failing in its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The right solution is to tax fuels that will release greenhouse gases.
One of the team that informed the public about a security flaw affecting the iBad has been arrested for drugs found by a police search. The police refused to state the reason for the search. I don't approve of selling cocaine (though prohibition makes things worse). But the specific concern here is that AT&T may have sent the police on a fishing expedition against him.
Iceland has adopted new laws to protect freedom of the press from foreign pressures for censorship.
In the US: sign this petition asking SuperPages and YellowPages to stop listing phony abortion clinics (run by religious extremists to give false information) under "abortion providers".
The latest estimate is that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are gushing each day in the Gulf.
HP is testing malicious functionality in printers.
HP says this program will be set up to respect privacy, but that cannot be true. Once HP has collected information about its customers, it won't throw that information away, and Big Brother (the US government) will be able to collect it without giving those customers a search warrant.
We must insist on printers that won't talk to anyone without our permission.
Normally, if a device is not a normally platform for installing software, and we don't install any software in it, we can ignore the question of whether it is implemented internally using software. But not when it can talk on the Internet on its own accord and implement malicious features. At that point, we must insist on only running free software inside it.
In the UK: attend the conference on digital rights on July 24.
Rwanda arrested the lawyer for the opposition presidential candidate, who had previously been imprisoned.
Israel has set up a phony inquiry into the attack on the Mavi Marmara. It's worse than biased — it's not even allowed to investigate the important questions. Israel hopes to pass this off as a real inquiry and thus neutralize international pressure to have one.
Israel also hopes that allowing jam, halvah, and shaving razors into Gaza will satisfy international pressure to end the siege, without any major change such as allowing people to rebuild their damaged homes. An Italian journalist on a Gaza aid ship says Israel took his passport, cameras, and credit card — and someone else then used the credit card, stealing his money.
Bullying Polluter lured cleanup helpers to sign secrecy agreements so that they could not tell the public what they see. But BP backed down from this when challenged in court.
Adeeb Abu Rahma faces criminal charges from Israel for nonviolent protests against the annexation wall, which cut him off from his land. Israel holds hundreds of other Palestinians prisoner without charges. Even if it's not as many as before, it is a violation of anyone's human rights.
Tell the Burmese dictators to free Aung San Suu Kyi.
Emily Henochowicz fell victim to the Israeli practice of attacking those who protest or witness protests.
Israel responds to international criticism of its inhumane policies by becoming increasingly strident and intolerant of dissent.
All the major oil companies had woefully inadequate plans for coping with disasters in the Gulf of Mexico. However, there are ways of containing an oil spill on the surface, and BP was not prepared to carry them out in a hurry. Its use of toxic dispersant may have made the damage worse.
The head of Israel's phony inquiry about its attack on the Mavi Marmara prejudged the conclusion before his appointment: certain people must not be found guilty.
I am surprised that their dishonesty is not better disguised.
Closing Big Polluter's escape routes, so it will pay for the harm it has done.
The brown pelicans of Louisiana were wiped out by DDT, then reintroduced. Now a few survivors are being rescued, covered with oil.
If the oil reaches the Florida coast, will that result in extinction of the species?
Greece has made a big deal with China.
Big Polluter repeatedly cut corners in drilling, increasing the risk of the explosion which ultimately happened, in order to cut costs.
Companies generally tend to do this unless they are convinced they will very likely be caught and punished. Thus, when the prevailing attitude of government is to bow down to companies and let them have what they want, the result is danger.
The UN warns that food prices are likely to rise by 40%, partly due to the stupid practice of growing crops for fuel.
A UK inquiry concluded that soldiers in Northern Ireland shot civilians in 1972 without justification.
Furthermore, the soldiers are exposed as having lied to fabricate justifications.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter and senators, calling on them to protect the Wall Street reform bill's strong derivatives provisions and close the derivatives enforcement loophole. Make sure to mention your name and address.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Three oil companies are accused of being involved in civil war and torture in Sudan.
A militia group attacked the Iraqi central bank to steal money.
Better-connected Iraqi militia groups have political connections, and can take money from the central bank without shooting.
The article does not say whether the robbers succeed in taking any of the funds. It should have been immediately obvious whether they had reached areas where substantial cash was stored.
Academics can support the cause of scientific freedom by deciding only to review articles for open-access journals.
It is important to be strict about the definition of "open access". The crucial point is publishing the articles under a license permitting redistribution of copies to the public.
97 percent of all the "flagrant" safety violations of oil companies in the US are by Big Polluter.
I wonder why BP has let hundreds of violations go on so long without fixing them. Is it because OSHA does not levy sufficiently heavy fines? Or is it that BP expects to use courts to delay paying them for so long they may as well be nothing?
A UK researcher says that Pakistan's intelligence agency actively supports the Taliban and Pakistan's president has meetings with them.
It was not Bush's "surge" that ended the Sunni-Shia fighting in Iraq, but rather the substantial completion of ethnic cleansing.
The UK limits junk food sales near schools.
Nicaragua's ban on abortion shows "chilling indifference" to the human rights of girls and women.
Don't be distracted by arguments about whether Big Polluter is a British company or an American company. The real issue (beyond punishing that company, and Halliburton, and all others responsible), is to reduce fossil fuel use.
To argue whether Big Polluter is a British company or an American company is irrelevant because the concept that such a company has a nationality is absurd. They don't think they belong to a country; they think every country belongs to them. It is up to us to teach them our countries are not for them to play with.
In other words, every large multinational company is a foreign company — no matter which country you are in.
Note that Big Polluter was totally responsible for failing to have the necessary equipment in place — in Louisiana, as in Alaska 20 years ago.
The Big Spill is a consequence of looking for oil in places that are ever more difficult to get at. The conclusion is, we need to move away from using oil.
For 10% of US fuel to be biofuel may not be a good thing. Biofuels made from crops that require water and fertilizer do not really improve matters; instead they cause starvation in other countries. If and when we can make fuel from plant waste or weeds, then biofuel will contribute to solving the problem.
Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan describes leaving Iran with tapes of interviews with the family of Neda Soltani.
Bashir, the genocidal president of Sudan, is attacking Darfur again, holding the independence referendum for southern Sudan as a hostage against any international pressure.
Perversely, superstitions can help irrational people succeed at a task, even though they are totally false: they provide instruments for people to fool themselves.
I don't want to lie to myself even if I would get some practical benefit by doing so. Meanwhile, if something is important, I can keep trying even if I don't feel confident.
BP may scrap its dividend, recognizing it may need to pay that money in fines and damages. The idea of defending a multinational company on nationalistic grounds is absurd. The idea of giving it immunity for criminal negligence because some of its owners are pension funds is also absurd.
Project Prevention pays drug addicts to get sterilized, thus averting the birth of thousands of children who would be damaged by the conditions and circumstances of their birth. A fetus is not yet a human being, but it could develop into one. If a hypothetical person could have come into existence but doesn't, there is no possibility of violating that person's rights. Thus, avoidance of reproduction — whether by means of abortion, birth control, sterilization, or abstinence from sex — does not violate anyone's rights. However, causing a fetus to be born with birth defects or an addiction brings a person into existence and violates that person's rights.
This project ought to be funded by governments, both domestically and as foreign aid in poor countries. In a world being greatly damaged by human overpopulation, and where most people remain in poverty, saving the planet and ending poverty requires a lot of people to have fewer or no children. Thus, if we are ever invited to feel sorry for people for not having children, we should consider the alternative, and decline.
Uri Avnery poses questions for Israel about its siege of Gaza and its attack on the Gaza aid boats.
The most interesting question for me is how Israel can claim the waters off Gaza are its territorial waters while not claiming Gaza is Israeli territory.
A new international organization will be launched to protect biodiversity.
Egypt now allows some Palestinians to get out of Gaza.
This makes a real difference. Hundreds of people in Gaza have died in recent years because Israel would not let them leave to get medical care. Now they have the possibility of going to Egypt for this care. Many others were blocked from studying at universities in Europe.
However, it does not amount to freedom to leave Gaza, which is a human right for the people who live there.
Blanche Lincoln took one progressive step to defeat her primary challenge, but now she has gone back to her usual corporate flunky self.
Americans, if a corporate flunky seems to be getting a little better just before an election, don't believe it. Replace the flunky anyway.
Big Polluter's chemical dispersants drive the oil underwater where it is harder to see, and make workers sick. And it looks like BP will try to deny responsibility for the illnesses this has caused.
China has imprisoned Tibetans for exposing environmental crimes.
Poor countries criticize a draft treaty to block global warming, saying that they should be allowed to keep on increasing their CO2 output after 2020 even though the rich countries will have to make large cuts both before and after that year.
That position is the result of short-term thinking. It is correct to stop poor countries from continuing to increase their greenhouse gas emissions.
Maybe this deal requires too little sacrifice of the rich counties. If so, that is where it should be changed. If the poor countries cannot afford the cost of limiting their emissions, the rich countries must pay that cost.
A new, cheap and very small car will get 100 miles per gallon, if a factory is built to make it.
UK police beat up and permanently injured protestor Harvie Brown, then accused him of being the "ringleader" of "rioters". He was acquitted.
Will the police who attacked these protestors be punished for their crimes?
Bullying Polluter's obstruction of reporting on the Big Spill has got worse, and police often participate in the obstruction.
Spain has proposed that the EU demand an end to the siege of Gaza.
US citizens: call your senators to oppose Jay Rockefeller's bill, which would delay the EPA for years from regulating CO2 emissions.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Relief wells are not guaranteed to succeed in shutting the Big Pollution.
Call your congresscritter and senators to sign Leahy and DeFazio's letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, to maintain the ban on GMO alfalfa. If this is allowed, it will contaminate other alfalfa crops.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
9000 people have been killed or disappeared in Colombia for protesting against Big Polluter's assaults on the environment.
Mercenary companies in Afghanistan, paid to guard NATO convoys, are instead bribing the Taliban; sometimes even staging fake battles with Taliban cooperation. If the Afghan government and the Taliban are this close, maybe they can make peace.
Several European countries are deporting people to Iraq, where the danger they fled from still exists.
Although Obama now talks tough about BP, he continues protecting US companies that kill people (even thousands of them) abroad.
Two Bosnian Serb officers have been convicted of ordering genocide at Srebrenica.
The opposition in Iran has abandoned plans for protests on the anniversary of the election.
This reminds us that civil society has no way to resist a sufficiently brutal attack by a government determined to crush freedom.
US citizens: sign this petition to the conference committee to make the bank reform bill stronger.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
A court ruled that UK police violated the human rights of thousands of people that they searched on the way to a protest.
Oil is piling up in marine wildlife sanctuaries, unimpeded by bungled protective and cleanup efforts. The birds and marine animals that don't die now will die in the coming months or years from the toxins.
This disaster was caused by a conspiracy of government and big oil companies. The oil companies convinced the US government to establish inadequate safety standards, and then convinced it not to enforce them. The relevant people in the government were either paid off somehow or convinced to worship the invisible hand.
Further back, the cause is the US's failure to use energy efficiently. That too is the result of government collusion with the oil companies ever since President Reagan.
We cannot survive the existence of companies big enough to gain effective control of government policy. We need to establish a climate in which government will not be seduced by the argument that letting companies do whatever they wish will benefit everyone through economic growth. That is just Reagan's "trickle-down economics" by another name.
Car accidents are heading for the main cause of death in poor countries, and car pollution in Southeast Asia has reached the point of harming health and agriculture.
Some senators in the conference committee are trying to weaken the banking reform bill in a sneaky and subtle way.
The US is working behind the scenes to protect Israel from a proper investigation of its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
The US has offered aid to rebuild schools in Gaza, but it is not clear how this can occur while Israel refuses to let in any building supplies.
If the US navy delivers building supplies, rebuilding could really get going.
The leaking BP well is possibly so broken-down by now that nothing could succeed in containing the spill.
The Supreme Court threatens to overturn Arizona's public campaign financing laws.
This would just about eliminate any hope for democracy in the US. If we cannot keep corporations' money out of politics, and cannot compensate for it, they will own the government totally.
I suppose that is what the right-wing corporate flunkies on the Supreme Court have in mind.
Terrorists can tie the US in knots by leaving "suspicious" bags in public places.
Or maybe the US is chasing its own tail now and terrorists are superfluous.
Europe, Russia and Australia are pushing a corrupt scheme for counting CO2 emissions from forests, so they can cut as much as they like and it won't be counted.
Activist Kenneth O`Keefe on the Mavi Marmara helped disarm some Israeli soldiers, but did not hurt them. Now Israel says he is a violent terrorist. European Jewish activists will send an aid boat to Gaza.
A member of the Israeli Parliament who was in the Gaza aid ships faces a campaign to revoke her parliamentary privileges.
The idea of the "privilege to leave the country" reminds me of the Soviet Union, which denied many Jews the "privilege" of emigrating. Isn't the right to leave a country part of normal human rights?
Turkey has blocked access to many Google services.
The UK government has tried to order judges not to review plans to deport refugees to Iraq.
To deport people to such a dangerous place is an outrage by itself. Not to mention that the UK helped make it so dangerous.
Sri Lanka's defense secretary, the brother of president Rajapaksa, threatened to execute defeated presidential candidate Fonseca for claiming said defense secretary ordered telling troops to commit war crimes.
Ironically, by making this threat, he demonstrated he would envision the sort of crime he was accused of.
I have no way of judging whether there is any valid substance to the accusations against Fonseca; but it hardly makes any difference after this.
Big Polluter says it has succeeded in collecting half, or perhaps more, of the oil gushing out of the spill.
In the process it has admitted that the spill rate is on the order of 20,000 barrels a day, much more than BP claimed before. This is significant because BP will be fined per barrel and has tried to deny the full amount of the oil.
I wonder if this might have been part of the motive for using a toxic dispersant: to hide the size of the spill.
US citizens: phone your senators calling on them to support offering abortions in military hospitals to women in the US military.
Or send email through this page.
US citizens: sign this petition to criticize the Democratic congresscritters that supported the big ISPs against network neutrality.
BP's emergency "response" plan for an oil leak shows it was aware of dangers which it in fact ignored.
Iraqi refugees haunted by horrors they left behind.
Physicians for Human Rights accuses the US of performing medical experiments on prisoners without their consent.
The US has arrested someone for leaking the Collateral Murder video.
Israel proposes to investigate how it attacked the Mavi Marmara, without any international involvement.
I don't think we can rely on Israel to do this honestly.
Republicans have packed the Supreme Court with judges who strain to favor business against people. Now Republicans are trying to block the appointments of judges that won't do that.
The Indian government is filming a large number of traditional yoga postures so that nobody can patent them.
In the wake of the Ethiopian intervention, Mogadishu is divided between battling factions that are all more or less fanatical Islamists.
One point that isn't made clear — and the previous articles I read did not say anything about it — is how Sharif Ahmed, formerly fighting against the US-backed Ethiopian army, became the head of a "government" which has US support. What happened to the previous "provisional government" that the US tried to impose despite its lack of domestic support?
Agribusiness lobbyists effectively took control of the UK's Food Safety Agency under the Clown regime.
Police and the US coast guard are helping Big Polluter block and control press access to areas affected by the oil spill.
Apparently Obama doesn't want people to feel how bad the spill is.
The US Chamber of Commerce pays for reports that claim the US has gained jobs due to "free trade" treaties. This conclusion is false, and the reports are full of errors.
I expect that the Chamber of Commerce is aware that the reports are false, but expects to make Americans believe them anyway by indirectly funding lots of TV ads.
There's no such thing as perfect safety, and we must reject the idea of making great sacrifices for a tiny amount of safety.
A friend who is helping to rescue birds in the Gulf of Mexico told me:
When they describe the smell on [TV] it doesn't come close to the horrible reality of the putrid hot tar odor in all directions. What would be a comforting ocean breeze carries the smell of a road being newly paved. I tried to sleep with my respirator on but had to switch to a bandanna as the other was too uncomfortable on my inflatable cot.
He asked me not to publish his name.
Israel seized the Rachel Corrie before it could reach Gaza.
Uri Avnery discusses a hypothetical book that might be called Exodus 2010.
After the US Supreme Court handed corporations control over politics by ruling they have the same freedom of speech as people, another court decided they have the same privacy rights as people.
I support efforts to counteract the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate activity in political campaigns.
However, the idea of treating corporations as persons is absurd in general, and needs to be changed in general.
The Gaza aid ship activists were shot multiple times; witnesses report seeing people shot at close range in the head.
I could hardly blame activists for rushing soldiers that were shooting people and dropping them down a hatch. The claims that some of the protestors were threatening to use knives is somewhat more of a concern — if it is true.
An independent newspaper will operate in Zimbabwe for the first time in 7 years.
150 cameras were installed in one neighborhood just to track all the movements of Muslims' cars, lest some of them be terrorists.
It does not surprise me that the UK government lied to the local government about the purpose of this. Now the challenge is to get rid of this, and the other car-tracking cameras all across the UK.
An HBO movie about Neda Soltani has become very popular in Iran despite jamming and electric power cuts designed to stop people from getting it. Iran's government calls this propaganda, and that in some sense is true; but Iranians know the information in it is basically accurate — unlike their own government's totally bogus version.
One remaining aid ship is now heading for Gaza, defying Israeli threats.
The strict rules limiting sales at the World Cup in Cape Town have meant that neither condoms nor safe sex advice can be distributed there.
This is probably a side effect; the goal of these rules was to limit the commercial benefits to certain companies and exclude poor South Africans.
Christian fanatics have found a new basis for organizing: denying global warming. This is, in effect, the beginning of an alliance opposed to all rational knowledge and dedicated to the destruction of the Earth.
US citizens: tell textbook publishers to stand up to the lies and bigotry mandated in Texas.
US citizens: call on Congress to end the tax preference for managers of hedge funds.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The US is protecting Israel in the UN from pressure for an international investigation of its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings accused the US of giving the CIA a "license to kill" using drones.
I see two issues arising directly from using drones to attack people in the attempt to kill them. First, is it justified to try to kill them at all? Second, are drones an acceptable method?
The general answer to the first is it is acceptable to kill the soldiers of an enemy army, but not mere criminals; states must at least try to arrest them first. The Taliban in Pakistan falls in a gray area between the two.
As for the method, that's a matter of how many innocent bystanders are likely to be hit. Drones are not alone in killing bystanders; rockets fired from fighter planes do it too, as was shown by a number of Israeli "targeted killings", and artillery does it too. They can all be unacceptable.
In the long term, the issue of the "playstation mentality" that Alston raised could be very significant. If killing comes to feel like nothing at all, people may kill a lot more. Drones are not alone in having this effect; other high tech and remote weapons do the same. But drones may take it to a new level.
Scientists who advised stockpiling swine flu vaccine had been paid by drug companies.
Reports say that Israeli troops shot at Turkish activists who had lined up to block entry with their bodies.
If so, that was nonviolent resistance, and the Israeli soldiers responded to it with violence.
Food processing companies are running distraction campaigns to prevent anything from being done to reduce the salt in packaged foods.
Some of the activists that were on the Gaza aid ships are Israeli Arabs. Unlike the international activists, they remain in prison and face prosecution. Israel tried to deliver some of the aid that was on the Gaza aid ships, but not the construction supplies, which are urgently needed to rebuild houses destroyed by Israel's attack. Hamas rejected wheelchairs demanding the construction supplies and freeing of those prisoners. Blocking delivery of supplies to rebuild homes is inhumane. Blocking wheelchairs that are available is also inhumane.
Christopher Monckton gives persuasive-sounding speeches claiming that the scientific evidence shows there is no global warming. Professor John Abraham tracked down the references cited by Monckton and found many of them to be misrepresentations. I wonder if the scientists who were misrepresented can sue Monckton for libel in the UK.
EU citizens: ask your MEPs not to sign (or to withdraw their names from) a letter advocating a new system of data retention for people's searches.
Israel sold a nuclear bomb trigger to South Africa in 1977.
Corrupt police are the main reason Afghans join the Taliban.
It is possible in principle for a corrupt and dishonest government to prevent corruption in the police force, but I doubt the Afghan government has the will to do so. It would have to pay them a lot more, and that would leave too little money for others to steal.
Big Polluter is planning to pay dividends of ten billion dollars to shareholders.
Perhaps the logic is, "pass the money along before the cops get you.'
Carefully controlled grazing can revive dying grasslands in Africa. Burning grass is not bad everywhere; in some places, such as Australia, plants are adapted to that. But Africa may be different.
I can hazard a generalization from this. Rapid technological progress implies that people do not have time to determine the long term consequences of the new methods they adopt. Many of them will therefore have harmful consequences, and they can build up to tremendous magnitude before people understand them.
Thus, rapid "progress" often is not really progress.
Arundhati Roy on 'War of People'.
Both BP and the US government neglected safety issues for the well that exploded.
The Gates Foundation supports GMOs for Africa.
The Taliban attacked Karzai's "Peace Jirga". The attack did not seriously disrupt the meeting, but shows that it has no chance of achieving much.
Israeli troops shot teargas cannisters directly at protestors' heads and blinded Emily Henochowicz in one eye.
Gaza aid ship activist Dimitris Gielalis says Israeli troops hit a camerman on the eye with a rifle.
Activist Aris Papadokostopoulos says he saw Israeli captors beat up many prisoners from the ships.
Israel claims there is no need for aid to Gaza because it allows adequate supplies to cross the border. Compare those claims with the facts.
Humans caused global cooling 13000 years ago by killing the mammoths and other large animals.
I don't know whether China's legal system has enough integrity to carry out this decision, but it is at least a step in the right direction. The US also has trouble carrying out this principle.
This year will have many hurricanes, and they will make the Big Pollution in the Gulf of Mexico do more damage. Perhaps we need to build a dam from Florida to Yucatan to keep the oil from polluting the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic.
Everyone: sign this petition for an independent investigation into Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza aid ships.
The government of Afghanistan has organized a conference about peace, but the Taliban are not invited, and the democratic opposition says it is a sham.
Bangladesh is torturing some terrorism suspects on behalf of the UK.
They might be guilty, but it is impossible to find out by torture.
Decommissioning bills have made the UK's nuclear power plants a lot more expensive than they were supposed to be.
Israel sabotaged two of the Gaza aid ships; they returned to Cyprus with similar unusual mechanical problems.
Americans have less empathy and kindness than 20 years ago. Relating this to the Internet is conjecture; I don't think we can tell what the cause is. But the consequences will clearly be harmful to everyone.
The government of Afghanistan is investigating many aid groups on suspicion that they are preaching Christianity, which is forbidden there. I have no love for proselytizing Christians, but discriminating between postures on religion violates human rights. It also violates human rights treaties. The US has no business fighting to support a government in Afghanistan unless it signs and follows these treaties.
Big Polluter has misled the US government about the spill in several ways.
Big Pollution has been unable to stop the oil spill by pumping in mud and golf balls. It could take two more months to stop the leak with relief wells (if they work).
The US is making contacts with Hamas, which suggests it would stop fighting Israel if Israel returns to its 1967 borders.
An insider's analysis of the failure of the Copenhagen talks.
Israeli commandos attacked the Gaza aid ships, killing and wounding the unarmed activists. Recent history suggests that the Israeli accounts of the events are likely to be lies. The Israeli army committed multiple atrocities in its attack on Gaza, then lied about them, obstructed investigations such as that of Judge Goldstone then tried to smear and threaten those who repeat the criticism. The activists knowingly risked their lives, in effect telling Israel, "You can keep Gaza in hunger over our dead bodies." But that doesn't make the activists responsible for the violence. The activists only tried to bring food, medicine and building supplies to the suffering people of Gaza; it was Israel that started the fight, and it cannot justify that.
Record high temperatures in India are killing people. Temperatures of 50 degrees C are forecast to come. Such high temperatures will become common in tropical areas due to global warming.
BP got special permission to use a kind of well casing that had a known risk of collapse.
BP had another big spill last week in Alaska, caused by skipping essential maintenance to save money. BP has hounded whistleblowers who tried to report its neglect of pipeline safety.
Republicans are using corporate money to stir up blind anger among citizens, so they can take power in order to serve the corporations.
Oil companies in Nigeria spill oil just about every day; the spills add up to around one Exxon Valdez per year. The oil poisons crops, fish and people, but corporate thugs attack them if the dare to protest. I agree that the executives together with all the staff personally responsible, including those in subcontractors, should be tried. If the oil companies block the trials, these companies should be declared "Wanted, dead or alive" and wiped out.
French journalist Baudouin Koenig and his sound assistant were arrested in Indonesia for filming a student protest in Wast Papua. Indonesia eventually allowed Koenig to remain in Indonesia and continue interviews — but not in West Papua. West Papua was taken over by Indonesia just as it was given independence by the preceding Dutch colonial power. Since then, a large number of Javanese colonists have moved there in a campaign to assure permanent control of the territory.
Pakistani Taliban attacked a mosque of the heretical Ahmedi sect and killed 90 people. Even if we treat the Taliban as an aberration, the previous persecution of Ahmedis shows how Muslim countries despise religious freedom, and shows a vicious trait in Islam. Christians and Jews have also engaged in such persecutions over history.
The president of the Maldives calls for street action to focus the US on stopping global warming.
The Big Pollution in the Gulf, which has not been stopped yet, is turning into Big Poison: blowing fumes or droplets make people sick. I don't know how to reconcile the current news that the leak isn't shut off with the previous report that the flow had been stopped.
Arundhati Roy risked being shot on sight by the police to visit and interview the tribals who have armed themselves to resist the Indian police and soldiers who want to take their land.
The US backed a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons in the Middle East in order to unjam the nuclear nonprolifieration negotiations.
Half a million Iraqis (estimated) are living in illegal squatter camps. The number of these squatters is growing rapidly.
When Iraqi refugees return from other countries, many of them end up in these camps. I would guess that they returned because they ran out of money and the other countries did not allow them to work or to squat.
US citizens: phone Obama at 202-456-1111 and say, "A six-month delay in new offshore drilling is not enough. We need to stop it entirely."
You can, if you wish, inform MoveOn about your call via this page.
Massachusetts citizens: call Senator Kerry and tell him to stop defending a tax loophole for managers of hedge funds.
The Big Spill has been shut off, but it is not permanently shut.
Repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the US military towards gays was approved by the Senate armed forces commitee. I favor repeal of this bigoted policy (which has been used to punish servicewomen who complained about being raped). At the same time, it is hard for me to be enthusiastic about helping the US armed forces, given the typical uses of US power.
Jamaicans report that soldiers shot and killed unarmed men and teenagers, even taking them from houses where they had fled.
Israel will no longer ban Palestinians from highway 443 through the West Bank. Instead it will establish so many checkpoints (stopping Palestinians only) as to make it useless for them.
The biggest threat to strong banking reform is from Obama and the Federal Reserve.
Business Power in the form of Republican senators blocked an attempt to increase BP's liability for the Big Spill. I disagree with the article about taxing oil. This tax is good since it would reduce oil consumption. It is true that oil companies will pass it on to the consumer as much as they can, but they would do the same with any other costs. Meanwhile, if consumers respond by driving less, the companies won't succeed in passing on all the cost to them.
Gulf cost marshes are going to be poisoned for decades, judging by the experience of a big spill near Saudi Arabia.
In Pakistan, even those who advocate more flexible censorship are condemned by fanatics. Freedom of expression is something no one dares advocate.
Islamic countries such as Pakistan do not respect freedom of speech. They also do not respect religious freedom, since they prohibit anyone who was Muslim from converting to any other position (perhaps even including Atheism). These laws are fundamentally unjust and deserve the strongest condemnation.
The biggest banks, and credit card companies, have set up a phony consumer group to lobby Congress against part of the banking reform bill, and pretend to represent the public.
A deceptive supposed archeological project near Jerusalem, funded apparently by the Israeli government, is undermining Palestinian buildings, as its founders also try seizing these buildings.
Obama's "moratorium" on new offshore drilling projects was not what it sounded like.
Police in Poland shot and killed a market trader who tried to stop them from beating up another trader. Then a further police attack started a riot.
Naturally the police won't be punished.
A secret Iraqi prison holds women prisoners, some used as hostages to be tortured to make their husbands confess.
Iran is to receive more sanctions as it continues pushing to develop nuclear weapons.
The proposed sanctions are justified, but I doubt they will achieve their aim. I don't think anything can achieve it, except perhaps to force Israel to the table to discuss its own nuclear disarmament.
1200 inhabitants of Sheikh Sa'ad are cut off from the world unless they walk down a steep hillside. One has already died because Israel did not let an ambulance come for him.
Some Italian supermarkets have rejected groceries from an Israeli company which fails to properly label goods made in Israel's illegal "settlements."
The ruling party of Ethiopia, having exiled and imprisoned the opposition, appear to have rigged an election.
Mordecai Vanunu has been jailed again, for going on a date.
BP will be fined in proportion to the amount of oil spilled. No wonder BP is trying to prevent independent estimation of the amount.
In Massachusetts: collect signatures for Jull Stein for governor. See jillstein.org.
Agriculture and Haiti's Long-Term Future: An Analysis.
Everyone: sign this petition to demand that BP make all its data available to scientists so that they can estimate the true extent of the Big Spill.
China plans a major hydroelectric plant on the Tsangpo river.
While the US and Europe talk about reducing CO2 emissions, China is really doing something about it.
The dam would make it easy for China to extract more water from the river, but it could do that without a dam, and it could build the dam without extracting a lot of water. So it is possible to separate the issue of water rights from the issue of the dam.
The sediment that now flows to India and Bangladesh will collect above the dam, and it will have to be dredged out. I wonder if it will be possible to put the sediment into the river below the dam, so that India and Bangladesh can still receive it.
The new UK government has cancelled plans to expand London area airports. Environmental campaigners are cheering. It is clear that the expansion plans were just a deal by the B'liar/Clown regime.
The contrast between real change and Obama's small change could not be more stark.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter and say to vote for the DISCLOSE Act which would regulate corporate spending on elections.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Facebook and other sites users give personal information to are not the only ones that collect it (and may give it out later).
We must use the Facebook scandal to build opposition to all systems of surveillance of the general public.
The Jamaican government is trying to capture Christopher Coke, accused drug trafficker, and it has come almost to war. I have no sympathy for Mr Coke, whose followers are not above using terror against bystanders. But this instance is part of a broader phenomenon: the War on Drugs, which systematically generates people like Mr Coke, and systematically encourages them to corrupt every government. If we don't end the War on Drugs, capturing this kingpin will only make another.
Corruption in the Afghan government makes flying unsafe.
You can track the progress of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which expects to arrive near Gaza on May 28. In case these relief ships are attacked by Israel, they are organizing protests outside Israeli embassies around the world.
A few Chinese investigative journalists report on corruption and disasters despite death threats and official opposition.
US citizens: tell the Secretary of the Interior to veto undersea oil drilling near Alaska.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: sign this petition demanding televized negotiations between the House and Senate about the bank regulation bill. The Senate bill is not as strong as it ought to be, but it is a step in the right direction. The point of this petition is not to let the banksters ruin it at the last minute.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Iranian influence is helping Maliki keep power in Iraq.
Bush must love this.
The Church of Scientology in Turin kept records of sex secrets of people it considered enemies, including people who had left the church.
Iraqi officials say that nearly all the prisoners released by the Bush forces have become terrorists. They even have some prisoners who have confessed to this.
Confessions obtained by Iraqi police don't really prove anything since they are probably obtained by torture. But given the way the Sunnis who supported the Bush forces got treated, I would expect all of them to start fighting the regime.
It is sad, though, if they do this by killing civilians. A long-term civil war in Iraq, or campaigns of murder, may yet be Bush's legacy.
Elvis Costello has cancelled a concert tour in Israel, rather than appear to accept the occupation of Palestine.
Facebook users: Quit Facebook Day is May 31.
The Conservatives in the UK refuse to repeal the Dinosaur Economy Act. But if Britons keep fighting it, they may succeed in getting rid of it.
The article describes copyrights as "intellectual property", apparently quoting the media dinosaurs that demanded this law. They use that term to confuse people, and confuse is what it does. People who don't agree with them often use this propaganda term when talking about them and what they want, thinking that it is somehow cute or appropriate to quote them. That is a bad mistake, since it spreads their propaganda.
Americans: sign this petition for Net Neutrality.
More information about the issue.
This cites some large companies as supporters of Net Neutrality. Most of those companies do other nasty things, but I would not hold that against Net Neutrality.
Israel offered to sell nuclear missiles to South Africa in 1975.
The Israeli negotiator in charge of the deal is now the president of Israel.
The UK Labour party's new leadership candidates denounce the invasion of Iraq.
Is it possible that a few hookworms in the gut will protect against allergies and autoimmune disease ?
We cannot be sure whether this remedy really works without a proper double-blind experiment to test the claim. It is a shame that this experiment is not being done. To wait decades for the mechanism (if there is one) to be fully understood and for drugs to be developed is no substitute for testing this remedy now.
Imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi may be freed due to an international support campaign.
Uri Avnery: Do some Israelis feel uncomfortable unless the world is anti-Semitic?
Berusconi has proposed a law to limit police eavesdropping . Unless there is some subtle difference that I have missed, these conditions are much like the ones that applied traditionally in the US, before "national security" was used as an excuse for more snooping on citizens. The FBI found them sufficient to convict gangsters. It is ironic that the impetus comes from Berlusconi, given the bad things he has done; but our disgust for him is no reason to allow police to plant bugs without sufficient evidence of a crime.
Australia has imposed searches on laptops of travellers and demands they all declare whether they have "pornography". It will be hard for them even to know the answer. Worse, it is an opportunity for further government censorship.
Thick sheets of oil have polluted marshes in Louisiana where migratory birds stop and many sea animals breed or mature. This could drastically change the ecology of the whole Gulf of Mexico, perhaps permanently. If some bird species migrate only via that pathway, they might go extinct.
The goods and services obtained from nature must be included in economic calculations to show society why it needs to protect nature. The disastrous consequences of the Big Spill will bring this home to people.
The Senate's financial reform bill substantially limits the banks, but falls short of restoring all the protections that we used to have.
"How have we established this new primitive religion — with the markets cast as a bloodthirsty god?"
A cartoon shows Mohammad complaining to his therapist that "Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!"
Unlike the Danish cartoons, this is really funny. I also love the cartoonist's unapologetic response: "get over it".
Republican activists' accusations against ACORN were refuted, but they destroyed ACORN anyway. Now they have targeted the Greenlining Institute , which makes banks obey laws against excluding poor neighborhoods from lending.
The US Army is illegally paying private contractors as spies in Pakistan.
We heard about Israel's refusal to let Chomsky go to the West Bank, because he is famous, but such refusals are regular occurrences and the government never says why.
The court order requiring the ministry to publish these policies has been ignored for 30 months.
A leading Israeli newspaper (normally not a supporter of peace) warns this is part of a trend towards fascism in Israel.
Israel rejected an offer to resume diplomatic relations with Qatar because of the condition: allow the reconstruction of Gaza.
The Rachel Corrie has departed from Ireland to bring aid to Gaza. Israel says it will block this ship and the 7 others that plan to travel to Gaza this month.
Israel can stop the ships, but it will pay a price: incraased international awareness of the siege of Gaza.
Since Israel cannot face the Goldstone report about war crimes in Gaza, Israel is trying to discredit him by saying he was a supporter of apartheid as a judge in the apartheid period. Nelson Mandela showed his evaluation of Goldstone's service by appointing him to the Supreme Court.
Fundamentalist "settlers" have burned Palestinian olive trees and mosques.
Iraqi police transported many Sunni prisoners in trucks with poor ventilation. Some of them died of suffocation , and their corpses showed evidence of torture. Some of the prisoners who died had been held for long periods based on no evidence.
The Palestinian Authority has prohibited sale of goods made in Israeli settlements. The settlers are outraged; "How dare they punish us for stealing their land? Israel should demand they buy from us!" The boycott of products of the settlements is already widely practiced in Europe, and has pressured major companies to move operations out of them.
The new UK government has decided to review whether to hand over accused cracker Gary McKinnon to the US for prosecution.
The article makes the common mistake of using the word "hacker" to mean "someone who breaks security". That is insulting to us hackers.
What really makes McKinnon's extradition an injustice is that it was done under a one-sided treaty with the US which bypasses the usual legal safeguards on extradition. Will the new UK government cancel this treaty?
Diane Abbot , the first black woman MP, seeks to lead the Labour Party and give support to civil liberties.
Prince William Sound has not recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill 20 years ago.
A Sa'udi woman fought back against a member of the religious police and gave him a thorough beating. This article assumes that the identity of that woman is known to the state, but it is not clear to me that she has been identified.
Global warming will cause the extinction of 20% of lizard species if it isn't stopped soon, because they will have to rest in the shade all day and and not eat. Polinating insects could have the same fate, which could be catastrophic.
A nun was excommunicated for saving a woman's life: she approved an abortion in a Catholic hospital. Without the abortion, both the pregnant woman and the fetus would have died. At 11 weeks of pregnancy, women in the US are allowed to have abortions at will, if the state or the hospital has not made it impossible.
US citizens: sign this petition for Congress to remove the limits on oil companies' liability for oil spills.
Many perfumes contain secret ingredients that can make the user sick.
A South Korean ship was torpedoed in March by a North Korean submarine.
US citizens: sign this petition calling on Obama to sign the treaty that bans land mines.
US citizens: phone your senators calling on them to hold a vote on Goodwin Liu , nominated for a judgeship. And/or use this page to send a message but a phone call carries more weight.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The UK will eliminate ID cards and limit some other surveillance programs. However, there is no word about the surveillance of car travel. It is important for the UK to bring this up now. And there is no mention of repealing the laws that make it a crime to be suspected of terrorism.
In an attack on everyone's privacy rights, Sarkozy wants to ban wearing garments meant to hide one's face in public.
I sympathize with the goal of freeing Muslim women from the pressure to wear veils, but I don't think banning them is just. I also expect the measure to backfire, because the victims of that pressure will become afraid to leave home. They will become more, rather than less, isolated from the rest of society.
But the way this is phrased, its impact is not limited to Muslim women. It attacks the rights of everyone that may want to be anonymous on the street; for instance, while protesting. Just as terrorists and pornography are used as excuses for censorship, surveillance, and other repressive measures, Islamic veils are the excuse to ban any resistance to the total surveillance state.
The Thai army attacked the protestors and seems to have crushed the protest. The human casualties reported seem few for such a large battle. However, I think democracy in Thailand is the other casualty. The current government cannot remain in power democratically and is unwilling to let go.
The UK's new energy minister rejects subsidizing new nuclear power plants. If Amory Lovins is right that they are totally uneconomical, this will kill them off.
Israel's refusal to consider nuclear disarmament threatens to wreck nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
Facebook has been blocked in Pakistan , ironically not for mistreatment of its users, but for allowing freedom of speech.
A protest is planned to pressure Facebook to respect users' privacy but I think the idea is hopeless. As explained here , Facebook's product is info about its users; its real customers are the companies that take advantage of that info. The pressure on Facebook to mistreat its users is greater than any possible pushback.
So just quit instead!
You know how to live without Facebook. You have done it already.
Obama continues Bush's unjust "military commissions" in Guantanamo, and has banned reporters from the "court" for publishing information they had already published before the "trial".
As the Big Spill grows, and fishing is banned in 1/5 of the Gulf of Mexico , the head of the MMS continues to defend increased undersea drilling. Under the current political system of Business Politics (BP), in which the oil companies use their power to keep the environmental standards weak and then procure a waiver so as not to follow them, we cannot allow any undersea drilling, just as we cannot allow construction of nuclear plants.
A gay couple in Malawi who came out publicly have been convicted of the crime of having sex. They face a possible 14 years in prison from bigotry.
US citizens: support the ACLU against the Arizona "show us your papers" law.
Reporters criticized the government of Kurdistan about undermining freedom of the press.
US citizens: call your senators and tell them to reject Senator Murkowski's Dirty Air Act.
Also sign this petition.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
A UK court ruled that two Pakistanis suspected of planning terrorism cannot be deported to Pakistan because they might be tortured by the government there. However, the court branded them as terrorists based on evidence they were not allowed to see, which could easily be worthless. And they face the threat of being placed under house arrest without a trial.
If there is evidence to suspect someone, that is grounds to search his house from time to time, read his mail, and so on. Under such circumstances he could not do much harm even if he tries.
Massachusetts citizens: phone your state representative in support of Rep Smizik's medical marijuana bill.
When the US kills many civilians in Pakistan, it must expect to inspire revenge attacks such as the attempted bombing in Times Square.
I don't think firing missiles from drones, rather than firing them from fighter-bombers or firing shells from howitzers, makes an inherently ethical difference. Any of these weapons can be used against an army, and any can be used to massacre civilians. What matters is whether they are accurately targeted at enemy belligerents, and whether this successfully protects civilians. The US argues that these drone attacks are legitimate war because they are aimed at specific belligerents, not at civilians. But is that really true?
The information in that article is not conclusive about that point. If drone attacks as of 2009 had killed 14 "terrorist" leaders (which we can take to mean leaders of an enemy army) and 700 civilians, were those civilians few compared with the combatants who were killed, or many?
Unless it is clear that most of those who are hit are belligerents, the US argument cannot be sustained. If what General McChrystal said about Afghanistan applies to these attacks too, that "none has proven to have been a real threat", it would seem the argument is invalid.
Faux News attacked Wikipedia for hosting "pornography", and Wikipedia's administrators reacted in panic with self-censorship.
Here is more information.
There's nothing wrong with sexually explicit images, whether they are for stimulation or information or whatever purpose. Wikipedia's purpose is to provide information, so any images which don't serve that purpose — sexually explicit or not — don't belong there. However, it would be a mistake to be overly strict in judging what serves the purpose of informing people.
Haitian farmers vow to burn Monsanto gift of seeds treated in toxic pesticides.
Pledge to boycott BP for at least three months.
British Bush forces' torture practices defied repeated orders from generals.
Federal agents arrested cameraman George Donnelly who was filming a FIJA leafletting activity. He was held overnight.
FIJA is the Fully Informed Juror's Association
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange faces cancellation of his passport.
The Thai government says it will order the army to attack the protestors. The protestors support Thaksin, who was elected several times and ousted each time by the elite. He seems to have the support of the Thai masses, but there are accusations of corruption against him, and he presided over campaigns of assassination against people accused of drug trafficking.
US citizens: sign this petition against some of the harmful parts of the Kerry/Lieberman energy bill. Here's a thorough explanation of the bad provisions of that bill. It amounts to a big handout to nuclear power, coal and oil.
Reggie Clemons is on death row after a trial so full of errors that it was absurd.
A Chinese man was freed from prison after the man he confessed to murdering turned up alive.
Torture is an effective means of making people confess. If they are not guilty, that's no obstacle; they confess anyway. Since anyone might be falsely accused, government torture is dangerous to everyone.
That is why political leaders who conspire to torture must be prosecuted. Obama, when will you carry out the US's responsibility?
Israel barred Noam Chomsky from speaking in a Palestinian university.
Obama is continuing Bush's policy of using bogus trials for prisoners in Guantanamo.
In addition, he is trying to impose censorship of facts already published.
An Afghan prosecutor wants to arrest a US officer saying that a US-trained militia killed a police chief. Given the corruption of Afghanistan, I will not say this accusation is unbelievable. However, if the militia accused the police of persecuting it, I would not find that unbelievable either.
A French professor who was imprisoned in Iran for participating in a protest has been freed, but Iranians accused of protesting are still in prison (or still dead).
Obama is keeping up the pressure on Egypt to stop persecuting dissent.
Large underwater oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico threaten to create new dead zones. The Gulf of Mexico already has a regular dead zone caused by agricultural fertilizer that flows into the sea.
The recount of the Iraqi election did not change the outcome, but Maliki seems to be trying to make an alliance with al Sadr so as to remain in power. I have not seen further information about Maliki's attempts to change the outcome by arresting and disqualifying the elected MPs of Allawi's party.
US citizes: phone your senators and ask where they stand on making banks separate out their risky betting. There's more information here and the page invites you to report what each senator says.
US citizens: Sign this petition to the US ambassador to Colombia to protect indigenous and union leaders from a new paramilitary gang. The old paramilitaries were sponsored by leading Colombian politicians. I would guess that these are too.
BP lobbied against stricter safety standards for undersea drilling.
The predatory Lord's Resistance Army, chased out of Uganda, now preys on several neighboring countries. A small amount of US help would enable the permanent defeat and elimination of the gang, but the US government never seems to have considered it. Perhaps because this gang is not Islamist.
Paramount, i.e. Viacom, demanded the deletion of a video that someone took with his own camera looking at the street outside his office. Viacom is one of the movie companies that are lobbying to take away your freedom. If you give these companies any money, you are paying them to attack you.
BP's drilling rig had a big gas explosion before April 20, and stopped it by pushing mud down the pipe. Then it decided to remove the mud for its convenience.
The head of BP says the big spill is small (compared with the total volume of the Gulf of Mexico).
This is pure distraction, because the volume of water is not important. What matters is how much oil will arrive on the coast and the sea bottom.
Then he says BP will fix the leak, and the only question is when. If it takes them till all the oil leaks out, the job will be easy.
Then he makes a comparison between a leaking oil well and an unexplained plane crash in the ocean. The plane crash killed only the crew and passengers; it did not poison the sea. If only the big spill were no worse than a plane crash.
Corporations claim the rights of persons. If BP were a real person, how would it be treated now?
Ivan Prado, organizer of the International Clown Festival in Spain, was going to Ramallah to organize a similar festival, but Israel deported him to Spain.
I suppose Israel wants to deprive the Palestinians of laughter as well as land and water.
Which senators are in the Bankster Party? Here's a list.
We should support primary challenges to those senators.
Making the Internet safe for free speech.
Ameer Makhoul, Israeli Arab human rights activist, was arrested and unofficially accused of knowing someone who knows someone who might be a terrorist.
Here's an article written by Ameer Makhoul a few weeks before his arrest.
The article lists a history of Israeli repression against Arab politicians.
Several major US banks are being investigated on suspicion of corrupting and misleading credit rating companies.
Obama has unilaterally postponed the Iraq withdrawal timetable which Bush unilaterally announced. Congress is now ignored.
The Iraqi resistance fighters that went over to the Bush side and fought al Qa'ida are now being hunted down by al Qa'ida, while getting only half-hearted support from Maliki's government.
The Thai army is heating up its attacks on the Thai protestors.
Genetically engineered BT cotton was supposed to protect the environment by reducing pesticide use, but instead it has become a sanctuary for pests that attack other nearby farms.
US citizens: send a message to the senate for a strong energy bill.
Here's the message I sent:
We need to promote renewable energy, not dangerous uranium and coal and petroleum. We should strengthen our laws for conservation, by adding a tax on carbon-containing fuel, not undermine existing measures such as the Clean Air Act and state laws.
Anything less is a surrender to BP (Business Politics).
Also sign this petition.
A courageous gay couple face 14 years imprisonment for holding a marriage ceremony in Malawi.
This illustrates Christian cruelty.
Judge Garzon, Spain's champion against dictators and terrorists, has been suspended for investigating the atrocities committed by Spain's dictator Franco.
For more information.
I am not surprised that Zapatero is trying to eliminate Spain's universal jurisdiction over atrocities. This is probably the result of US pressure. Obama must fear that he will be prosecuted for the disappearances carried out by his regime.
Indonesian police say they have uncovered an Islamist plot to assassinate the government and set up an Islamic state.
The accused plotters were arrested in Aceh, which was given the special privilege of establishing Sharia law, as part of a peace agreement that ended a long civil war. Sharia law does not respect basic human rights.
Aceh recently adopted a law censoring video and audio broadcasts which would prohibit anything that goes against Islamic values. The officials said this did not affect freedom of the press because 'the press means writing only".
Midwives have become illegal in New York City, almost offhandedly, and obstetricians are blocking moves to fix the problem.
Donate to The Yes Men .
India's electronic voting machines are vulnerable to centralized fraud. Several years ago, I read that India's voting machines did not have computers in them, and I thought this might make them safer. So I was surprised to read, in this article, that they contain programmable microcontrollers. I wonder whether perhaps what I read years ago concerned a previous generation of machines.
100 Jewish Jerusalemites signed an open letter correcting Elie Wiesel's mistaken notion of the situation in Jerusalem. This response, and Yossi Sarid's, should persuade a reasonable person who reads them. But they don't have rich supporters to present the truth in ads in US newspapers.
A former CIA officer says in August 2002 he was told the US had already decided to invade Iraq. He also gave information about CIA torture practices, and evidence that Libby and others gave false testimony about the Valerie Plame leak.
Some Iraqi refugees are returning to their homes.
Explaining the hypocrisy of Republican objections to appointing Kagan to the Supreme Court.
Democratic senators have proposed a weak CO2 reduction bill .
Following their standard practice, Democrats made the bill weak in the hope of Republican support, then did not get any Republican support. If they were serious, they would propose a strong bill, and if the Republicans block it, the Democrats could say, "We tried to do the right thing; vote those Republicans out of office so we can succeed."
So why don't they? Some suggested that the Democrats are using the Republicans as an excuse to surrender to business.
How Israeli settlers harassed and attacked Palestinians during the past couple of months. (It is a long list .)
Some of these attacks remind me of stories of how Jews were attacked by anti-semites in Eastern Europe.
Bil'in protest organizer Abdullah Abu Rahma, imprisoned for 5 months in Israel without charges, has been put in solitary confinement for talking to journalists in the courtroom. He was accused of possession of weapons after he collected the spent shell casings of rounds fired by Israeli soldiers, as evidence.
Israel has repeatedly arrested the organizers of nonviolent Palestinian protests.
A "conservation group" that the New York Times quoted, which minimized the importance of the Big Pollution spill, is really an oil industry group.
MI5 is working with Bangladeshi torturers.
Although the UK realized Paul Chambers had not meant to threaten anyone with his joke about a bomb in an airport, it prosecuted him because it could. A threat is a statement of an intention to harm someone, intended to cause fear or worry. Whether it is a threat is a matter of its real meaning, not its superficial form.
For instance, "It would be a shame if your building burned down" does not have the form of a threat. Superficially, it states a sentiment most of us would agree with. But we recognize that in certain contexts it might really be a threat. Contrariwise, "If you touch that cake before tonight I'll kill you" has the form of a threat, but you might say it to your friends knowing they will understand it is really not a threat.
Paul Chambers' tweet had the form of a threat, but everyone knows it wasn't really a threat. Even the prosecutors knew this. So why did they prosecute him? Anyone who read the news about Chambers' arrest would already think twice about saying such things on Twitter. Apparently the prosecutors were determined to make other Britons feel very threatened.
The banksters defeated a senate amendment to break up the largest banks.
Obama has given up criticizing Karzai over corruption, concluding it is useless.
I am sure such criticism is useless; Karzai is not going to give up his lucrative corruption over mere criticism.
He knows the US can't make him stop, so he just has to ignore the criticism. The only way to stop the corruption of the Karzai government is to take away Karzai's power; but the US can't do that, because it would puncture the idea that the Afghan government is sovereign and the US is only defending it.
Meanwhile, this article shows a tacit admission that training the Afghan police and army is not succeeding very well. They cannot even control Marja, which is an imaginary town in a rural area so they can hardly dream of controlling any place else.
The US may have to do what it did in Vietnam: declare that it is ok to leave, and let its toy government fall.
US citizens: phone your senators to call on them to protect the part of the banking reform bill requiring large banks to move their derivatives departments into separate subsidiaries which are not given Federal Reserve funds or FDIC insurance. Senator Judd Gregg and Senator Chambliss want to weaken it.
For more info. Also say you support the Merkley-Levin amendment to stop proprietary trading.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support the State Secrets Protection Act of 2009, which would limit the use of "state secrets" as an excuse to dismiss the lawsuits of people who have been tortured.
Also sign this petition but the phone call has more weight.
US citizens: sign this petition to Obama opposing imprisonment without trial. I replaced "indefinite detention" with "imprisonment without trial" in my message.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was made possible by arranging for Alaskan natives to sell their land cheap and become renters, then making commitments to Congress that have not been kept. This wasn't the first time that native land ownership was arranged so that they would lose their land.
The Obama gang continues rubber-stamping offshore drilling projects, waiving environmental reviews, even after the big spill.
What this shows is that the people running the Mineral Management Service are oil-company flunkies. They think their job is to give the oil companis what they want, not protect the public. Can anyone find out who appointed them and when?
Chicago police attacked a peaceful march on May Day.
The Taliban are preparing for lot of fighting in Kandahar, and threatening civilians too.
Civilians might be expected to resent the Taliban for this. I suspect their lack of respect for Karzai explains why they do not.
Miloshevic's atrocities in Kosovo have been confirmed by discovery of a mass grave in Serbia where corpses were hidden.
Allawi called on the Bush forces to prevent Maliki from overturning the results of the election.
BP spent a lot of money to pretend it was something other than an oil company. It was not quite 100% Bull Poop.
BP gave millions to Obama and other politicians over the past few decades.
I wonder why Obama spokesmen say he did not get money from BP. Is the article's claim false, or are they lying, or are they quibbling about a technicality, or what?
The power of right-wing premier Merkel may be cut by a state vote in Germany soon.
The Greens will probably show more respect for human rights and less support for the power of every big business.
The EU is planning strict limits on hedge funds.
The "most powerful man in Kandahar" is President Karzai's brother Ahmed.
Ahmed Karzai gets his patronage power from his personal relationship with the president. Thus, his corruption is a reflection of the president's corruption. What's more, it is the nature of this government — that the president personally controls so much — that makes it pervasively corrupt. If he were to listen to someone else instead of his brother, it would only change the identity of the crony.
But this is surely no accident. Karzai gathered the power into his own hands so that he could be the center of corruption.
Greeks feel their country has been invaded and occupied by the IMF.
Increasing tax collection from the affluent could be a way to reduce the austerity. I wonder if the government could offer that as a kind of deal: get us more tax collection and we can reduce the austerity.
Dan Gillmor: FCC hands Hollywood the keys to your PC, home theater and future.
The Free World will increasingly need to reject computers designed to be controlled by Hollywood, and use computers which were not designed to restrict their users. But these are unusual computers, and that is a problem for people who want to install a free operating system on a machine that was not chosen with freedom in mind. They find that the devices in the machine won't run without proprietary software. Often this is because Hollywood has demanded it.
This problem contributes to the popularity of nonfree GNU/Linux distros that include the nonfree drivers and firmware for those machines, distros that weaken our community by corrupting many of its members.
The Hollywood movie companies base their arguments on a false premise: that they deserve to be able to profit. Since they have attacked our freedom, what they deserve is to lose everything and cease to exist.
Think of this, next time someone suggests you pay to watch a Hollywood movie. It's feeding your enemies. If your children are going to watch, it is bad for them too.
EU countries are confiscating generic anti-HIV drugs made in India and being sent to various poor countries.
This article spreads confusion when it refers to patents as "intellectual property", using the terms interchangeably. (I am sure the author does not realize how harmful that term is as propaganda.)
The EU's attempt to confuse generic drugs with fake drugs is part of another propaganda campaign, which calls copying "counterfeiting". ACTA is an instance of that nastiness.
The governments which have confiscated the drugs are evidently more concerned with corporate profits than with human lives. Their actions as of this moment endanger people in poor countries, but I am sure they are just as glad to threaten the inhabitants of their own countries when they can get away with it.
Mexican paramilitaries (right-wing thugs) connected with the government of Oaxaca attacked a convoy of aid and human rights observers headed for the besieged town San Juan Copala.
Two were killed, and a journalist was shot and wounded.
Workers making iMoans are moaning from the effects of the toxic cleaning fluid they used.
I suppose Apple did not ask the factory to use that fluid. It just did not pay attention. With China's corruption, its censorship, and its general penchant for covering up abuses rather than correcting them, things like this will happen.
Since Apple produces in large quantities, it is in a position to check the factories and their manufacturing practices against global standards — if it makes the effort.
Perhaps the US should have a law holding the visible producer of a product — its "brand" — legally responsible for harm done by the manufacturing of the product and all parts made specially for that product or for that producer. These days, the "brand" gets the power but sheds the responsibility. With this law, it would have to take some responsibility too.
The Washington Post started a politics web site cosponsored by a shady coal industry front group.
Does this mean the site will be as "fair and balanced" as Faux News?
US citizens: sign this petition calling on Obama to issue an executive order focusing more US government attention on human rights.
In the first line of the message, I delete the text, "Although we appreciate your public commitment to these principles," because (as previous notes show) Obama's level of commitment to human rights so far has been disappointing. But that is no reason not to ask for improvement.
Massachusetts citizens: sign the ACLU's petition directed at reducing mandatory minimum sentences, reestablishing parole, and reducing the penalization of ex-cons.
The lower house has no specific bill yet, so this campaign is stated in general terms.
For South Africa's football World Cup, Fifa makes every accredited media organization agree to give Fifa broad censorship powers.
Fifa would be able to ban a topic, and then all accredited media organizations would have to stay away from it.
India sentenced the surviving Mumbai terrorist to death, arguing that this would deter other terrorists. The person who argues that the death penalty will deter people from suicide missions is not thinking very hard. The death penalty doesn't even deter ordinary murderers. India should demonstrate its moral superiority, by using life imprisonment instead.
Albanians accusing fraud in last year's election have started a hunger strike to demand an investigation.
A leaked audio recording from the last hours of Copenhagen negotiations shows China and India as opposing any strong measures to control greenhouse gas emissions.
White supremacists will be chagrined to learn that Neanderthal genes are found in all modern humans — except those of African descent.
BP's dispersant has made the oil so thin it goes under booms. So there is no way to protect vulnerable islands from the spill. Perhaps in 5 or 10 years, BP will argue, "All the wildlife is dead now, and by the time that oil is gone these islands and the current coast will be submerged, so let us drill without any precautions."
Greg Palast: BP has a policy of neglecting safety in order to save money. BP's negligence caused the disaster in Prince William Sound, and negligence caused the Gulf of Mexico leak to become a disaster too.
Various amendments could make the Senate's financial reform bill strong and effective, but they need public support.
South Africa's right-wing economic policies are spreading poverty and shortening life spans. The World Cup offers multinationals a great opportunity because scruffy local vendors are carefully kept away. The venue has been sanitized for foreign tourists by evicting the poor.
US citizens: sign this petition to Congress saying that prayer is not medical care.
Republicans in Orange County, CA, are systematically registering voters as Republican whether they want it or not.
US citizens: support the DISCLOSE act which would require corporations to identify their political messages.
Craig Murray was fired as the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan for complaining that the CIA was providing dishonest "intelligence" obtained through torture. The UK government told him that it was ok to get intelligence using torture.
The US government says, "We don't have the capability to dive 5,000 feet [1,500 metres] below the surface to do a survey" of a leaking oil well. So why doesn't it have this capability? It seems irresponsible to leave this up to the oil companies. The US government have such equipment ready, in every coastal region where there are offshore wells, as a safety precaution. It should make the oil companies pay the cost of buying and maintaining the equipment, and employing its crew.
Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, reportedly admitted links with al Qa'ida and the Taliban. If this is the Taliban's retaliation, it would have been tantamount to a pinprick on an elephant — insignificant compared to all the murders that occur daily in the US, let alone all the other premature deaths. We do want the police to investigate such attacks, but we should give them no leeway from respecting the rights of citizens.
Karzai has proposed a plan for peace with the Taliban, or at least some of the Taliban. I tend to doubt that the Taliban leaders will find exile a desirable conclusion.
A woman in Italy has been fined for wearing a burka. Now her husband says he won't let her leave the house. I sympathize with the wish to liberate women from the burka, but this direct approach does more to vent hostility than to cure the problem.
It is no coincidence that the Italian law was aimed at repression of dissent. Laws requiring people to leave themselves always open to identification are a threat to everyone's rights.
Bita Ghaedi, likely to be murdered or even executed if she is forced to return to Iran, has won a temporary reprieve from deportation at the last minute. That such a clear candidate for asylum has to fight in court demonstrates the cruel absurdity of today's asylum policies.
Americans should not give up any freedom or privacy on account of a failed car-bombing. (Or even if there were a successful one.)
The UK may be sued for participating in use of chemical and radioactive weapons in the destruction of Falluja. The US is the main culprit for this atrocity, but only the UK can be sued because the US government totally rejects its responsibility. While this policy was started by Bush, who was also responsible for the attack itself, its continuation is Obama's fault.
3,000 prominent European Jews call for an end to the occupation of Palestine, saying that the only way for Israel to survive is to allow a "viable and sovereign" Palestinian state and make peace with it.
Greek protestors occupied the Acropolis. More importantly, they have called a general strike. Only an evil government puts the burden of national sacrifice mainly on the poorest. But that's what the EU stands for.
Afghanis increasingly favor negotiations with the Taliban. The main obstacle is Obama.
US citizens: tell your senators you want no new offshore oil drilling.
While you're at it, you can also tell them not to limit the EPA's ability to regulate CO2 emissions, and not to limit the states' power to do so.
US citizens: phone your senators to support Sen. Sanders' amendment to audit the Federal Reserve Bank and see who it is giving money to.
Also sign this petition, but the phone call carries more weight. For two days: Also tell your senators to support the "Break up the banks" amendment of Senators Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufman.
Here's info about why we must chop up the big banks.
Thai protestors have won the promise of an election in 6 months.
The head of Blackwater made embarrassing admissions in a speech to his fans.
British fishing trawlers catch half as much fish as in 1889, despite working longer and having much more capable boats.
This is a measure of the damage done by overfishing.
Fanatical "settlers" attacked Palestinian villagers, so the police came and arrested the villagers.
This page also describes other flagrant injustices.
Israel continues imprisoning protestors against the annexation wall. And shooting protestors in the head with tear gas canisters. The soldiers know what they're doing — you don't hit people in the head by accident. But Israel's army lets them off the hook with investigations as phony as the 9/11 Commission.
Atrocities against Dalits are a regular occurrence in India. In Mirchpur, the caste Hindus burned down Dalits' homes because the Dalits had begun to enforce their rights.
Ahmad Asfour received permission to leave Gaza and go to a hospital in Israel for major medical problems. But at the crossing, Israelis arrested him. Now in prison, he is being denied the medical care to save his life.
Right-wing thugs vandalized the house of a liberal Israeli rabbi with posters calling him a terrorist.
In the mouth of a right-winger, "terrorism" is a curse word with no concrete meaning at all.
Declaring olive groves near Qalqiliya a "closed military zone" did not entirely prevent their Palestinian owners from growing and harvesting olives. So now the "settlers" have cut down the trees.
US citizens: join MoveOn meetings around the US to campaign to reduce the political power of business.
Lots of sea turtles were found dead on Mississippi beaches, and the oil spill is suspected.
US citizens: submit a comment on the US Climate Action Report to counter the global warming denialists.
AT&T supports a US imposed website blacklist and government punishment of people who share. It is probably no coincidence that the US government is pushing for something similar in ACTA.
This is very dangerous. The US government tends to pass the laws businesses want (and pay for), so the main obstacle to tyrannical restrictions on the network are the businesses that object.
Everyone: sign this petition against admitting Israel to the OECD until it complies with the Goldstone recommendations.
The film Lebanon gives a tank-soldier's eye view of in Israel's first invasion of Lebanon. The director is trying to expiate his guilt for killing someone (an enemy? a civilian?) with his tank gun. If you watch movies, it would be interesting to compare this with The Hurt Locker.
Mexicans planning to enter the US illegally say that they don't think Arizona's fascist law will stop them.
Greeks are beginning massive protests over austerity measures that crush workers and poor while sparing the rich.
The unexplained death of honeybee colonies is getting worse; in the US, one third of them died last winter.
Uri Avnery: extending Israel's construction on Palestinian land is fueled by corruption as well as ideology.
Shimer college democratically fought off a sneaky right-wing takeover attempt.
US citizens: call both your senators to support the Merkley amendment. It will eliminate a nasty provision in the Senate financial reform bill that would allow the US treasury to arbitrarily abolish state consumer protection laws for insurance. More info about this nasty provision is available in a pdf.
You can also send a message through this campaign but a phone call carries more weight.
Evidence that animals can have feelings should not make us rush to conclusions about what those feelings are. For instance, if some animals really do want privacy when mating, they might very plausibly care only about their own species, considering humans insignificant as long as we do not pose a threat.
If an animal does have feelings, that starts rather than ends the discussion of whether and when we ought to cater to those feelings. We don't believe we should cater to other humans' feelings in all cases; we have codes of when we ought to. These codes are based on putting ourselves in the other's place. Within one species, it is feasible more or less to do that. It becomes far more problematical with another species that we cannot talk with.
RAWA fights an underground battle for women's rights in Afghanistan. RAWA's integrity is demonstrated by its opposition to the Communist regime, to the warlords, to the Taliban, and to Karzai. All of them richly deserve it.
It is no surprise to me that some criticize RAWA for being "too radical" for standing by principles we all agree with, and call it "ineffective" even though it apparently achieves things no one else has been able to. Those are the standard criticisms to make against organizations that stand by their principles; the FSF receives them too.
Israeli troops intentionally killed a Palestinian by demolishing a house on top of him.
A worlds fair in Shanghai has become the occasion to attack human rights. The same was true of the Olympic games in Vancouver, but Canada did not go as far as China does.
The BBC made a cowardly apology for a comedian who criticized the Israeli occupation of Palestine. There was a small amount of validity in the criticism of his joke. By saying "an angry Jew" he added an element with shades of antisemitism. If he had said "an angry Israeli" he would have avoided it. However, I don't think this point is significant enough to call for an apology. It is just a suggestion.
Some forms of gonorrhea are becoming resistant to all the available antibiotics. While at one side, the bacteria are developing resistance to the antibiotics they encounter, at the other side the big pharma companies are not developing any new ones. No new antibiotics have been developed in a long time. A new antibiotic is not as profitable as a treatment which aleviates but doesn't cure a chronic condition. Liability factors also enter the issue.
The Boy Scouts protected pedophiles just like the Catholic Church. This seems to be a general phenomenon of institutional dynamics: the organization protects the people who work for it against accusations from the public they serve.
Greg Palast: the undeclared purpose of Arizona's "show us your papers" law is to stop poor Hispanic citizens from voting.
The oil spill from an undersea well near Louisiana has reached the coast, and could exceed the Exxon Valdes spill before it is shut off. Cleanup efforts are failing because the available methods don't work well.
Exxon never paid the damages levied against it for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It kept delaying for years and eventually got out of it. I wonder if BP will be able to do likewise. Meanwhile, the cleanup was not very effective; oil residue remained many years later, hidden under rocks. This specific disaster was an accident, but like most serious accidents, various acts of negligence paved the way for it. It seems that BP did not take all the usual precautions. However, offshore drilling inherently carries a risk, so it has to be recognized as dangerous. Obama wants to do more drilling, which means, more danger.
Agreed world targets for reducing the loss of biodiversity have not been met. The cause is probably a lack of the necessary efforts, since those would interfere with corporate profits.
If you have a Democratic senator, phone and say, "The Republicans don't support the climate bill anyway, so get rid of the foolish compromises put in for their sake. If you can't pass the bill, show Americans a bill worth fighting for. Take out the provisions that limit the EPA and the states."
US citizens: tell your state representative and governor (via the ACLU) that you oppose state laws like Arizona's that subjects people to arrest if they don't always carry their papers.
Corporate political campaigns focus on pushing emotional buttons with irrelevant points, and even outright lies — they have no scruples about what to say to gain their ends. Sometimes they heavily advertise web sites that frame issues in ways that define a problem as only individuals' fault, shifting responsibility away from the companies and laws that systematically encourage the problems.
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