Friday, December 19, 2014

Wealth gap in America widens to record level...

The wealth gap between middle- and upper-income households has widened to the highest level on record, says a new report.

Using the latest Federal Reserve data, the Pew Research Center said Wednesday that the median wealth for high-income families was $639,400 last year — up 7% from three years earlier on an inflation-adjusted basis.

For middle-income families, the median wealth — that is, assets minus debts — stood at $96,500 last year, unchanged from 2010.

The result is that the typical wealth of the nation's upper-income households last year was nearly seven times that of middle-class ones. By Pew's calculations, that is the biggest gap in the 30 years that the Fed has been collecting statistics from its Survey of Consumer Finances.

 "The latest data reinforces the larger story of America's middle-class household wealth stagnation over the past three decades," Pew said. "The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families' wealth, and the economic 'recovery' has yet to be felt for them." Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Number of global billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis...
  2. Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth...
  3. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Bill Gates's wealth...
  4. The amount of money hoarded by the uber elite will astound you...
  5. The politics of class warfare: from Sydney to Washington, the gulf is deepening...

Kill the banker...

A little violence can sometimes work to defend against predatory bankers. Consider the farmers of Le Mars, Iowa. The year was 1933, the height of the Great Depression.

A finance bubble on Wall Street had crashed the economy, the gears of industrial production had ground to a halt, and 13 million Americans had lost their jobs. Across the Corn Belt, farmers couldn't get fair prices for milk and crops, their incomes plummeted, and their mortgages went unpaid. Seeing opportunity, banks foreclosed on their properties in record numbers, leaving the farmers homeless and destitute.

So they organized. Under the leadership of a boozing, fist-fighting Iowa farmer named Milo Reno, who had a gift for oratory, several thousand farmers across the Midwest struck during 1933, refusing to sell their products. "We'll eat our wheat and ham and eggs" went the popular doggerel of the movement. "Let them"—the bankers—"eat their gold."

 They called it a farmers' holiday and named their group the Farmers' Holiday Association. In speeches across the Midwest, Reno inveighed against "the destructive program of the usurers"—by which he meant, of course, the ruinous policies of Wall Street and the banking industry. Farmers, he said, had been "robbed by a legalized system of racketeering." He said that the "forces of special privilege" were undermining "the very foundations of justice and freedom upon which this country was founded." He compared the farmers' fight to that of the Founders, who had taken up arms. He warned that the farmers might have to "join hands with those who favor the overthrow of government," a government that he considered a servant of corporations. "You have the power to take the great corporations," he said, and "shake them into submission." One of his deputies in Iowa, John Chalmers, ordered FHA men to use "every weapon at their command." "When I said weapons," Chalmers added, "I meant weapons." Full story...

Related posts:
  1. "Riddles" surround 36th dead banker of the year...
  2. Iceland jails former Landsbanki CEO...
  3. The real bank robbers got away...
  4. HSBC awards 15 top bankers £7.1m in move to sidestep bonus rules...
  5. Iran hangs billionaire over $2.6billion bank fraud...

Senthil and Sok Hwee, an uncommon Singapore friendship...

Qatar hires ‘$8 fake fans’ to fill empty stadiums...

Migrant workers in Qatar get one dollar an hour for sitting in the stadiums and pretending to have fun, to applaud and to do the wave, AP reports. Sometimes they even were asked to dress like Qataris in white robes and head-scarves.

"Qatar has a true passion for sports. Everything in our country revolves around sport," Aphrodite Moschoudi, Qatar presenter in 2019 world championships host selection, said in November.

However, Qataris do not attend matches so often. A poll published this year by Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics says two-thirds of Qataris surveyed did not attend any football matches during the previous season, while two-thirds of respondents said fake fans were one of the reasons to keep them away from a stadium.

That is why Qatari officials need someone to fill the empty places in stadiums, according to the Associated Press. 30 Qatari riyals, equivalent to eight American dollars for migrant workers, though, is good money and some of them even enjoy their “work.”

"Shaking my body all over ... being in the crowd and shouting and dancing," Adu, a worker from Ghana told the agency. "Being there and getting paid is a plus for me." Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Authorities arrest laborers striking over low pay in Qatar...
  2. Qatar World Cup: migrants wait a year to be paid for building offices...
  3. Nepal workers pay terrible price in Qatar World Cup build-up...
  4. Qatar's deadly World Cup...
  5. Qatar maids detained by authorities after having passports confiscated...
  6. More than 450 Indian workers died in Qatar in just one year...

Apple 'failing to protect Chinese factory workers'

Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation.

Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken.

It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories.

Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions.

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.

One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. 'Even worse than Foxconn': Apple rocked by child labour claims...
  2. Low cost iPhone leading to worker abuse in Apple factories in China...
  3. High stress, high security: the price of an iPhone made in China...
  4. Investigation finds widespread abuses at Apple China factories...
  5. Dozens arrested after riot at Foxconn plant in Chengdu...
  6. China: Two hundred Foxconn workers threaten suicide...
  7. Scathing report about working conditions in Apple's Foxconn...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Selfie shame: People queue to pose for pictures of themselves at scene of Sydney terror...

Tourists have always taken selfies of themselves at Sydney's most iconic landmarks, but on a day that has horrified the city many people are taking macabre snapshots for old times' sake as well.

All day people were uploading selfies of themselves on Twitter from as close as possible to where the hostage siege was taking place.

Just to make the photos more authentic some even took them with television cameras in the background. Two onlookers even looked like they were taking a 'celebration selfie' than one at a hostage siege. Others smiled happily as if they were standing in front of Sydney Opera House instead of a chilling hostage crisis that could yet end in tragedy.

The hostage siege has been going since 10am on Monday with as many as 30 people believed to be held against their will by a gunman in a central Sydney cafe.

Not that it stopped people taking selfies in the area. However, the thoughtless actions have created a huge backlash on Twitter, with many users berating the people for putting up the tasteless selfies. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Australian police say three dead, four hurt in Sydney siege...
  2. The ‘selfie’ obsession: a chronic, narcissistic mental disorder...
  3. 'About to land, but selfie first': Instagram-addicted pilots defy cockpit rules...
  4. What the Beatles can teach the selfie generation...
  5. Mandela memorial selfie: If President Obama acts like this, don’t blame teenagers...

Australian police say three dead, four hurt in Sydney siege...

Three people are dead after a hostage drama in a Sydney cafe ended in heavy gunfire as security forces stormed the building, Australian police said on Tuesday.

Local media reports said the hostage-taker was among those killed.

Heavy gunfire and blasts from stun grenades filled the air shortly after 2 a.m. local time (10.00 a.m. ET on Monday) at the Lindt cafe in central Sydney, bringing to an end a siege that had lasted more than 16 hours.

A 50-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man had died, New South Wales police said. Two people were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while a police officer was being treated after being hit in the face with gunshot pellets. A woman was being treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder, police added. Source...

Related posts:
  1. What really happened in Nairobi's Westgate?
  2. Understanding Kenya’s Westgate mall attack...
  3. 'All Muslims leave... we only want to kill non-Muslims.' The Nairobi attack...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Desperate in crisis, Spaniards turn to fortune-tellers...

After years looking for a job in a country where one in four is unemployed, this 48-year-old mother of two has turned to alternative ways to try and improve her fortunes.

Around her neck hangs a necklace of shungite -- a shiny black mineral from Russia, said by occultists to bring emotional stability. In her bag she has a statue of a smiling Buddha and another of a three-legged frog -- Asian charms reputed to bring wealth.

They are her latest purchases at Magic International, a spirituality fair in crisis-hit Barcelona where crowds browse over magic stones and spiritual tomes and countless fortune-tellers seek new clients.

"Any kind of help is welcome," said Izquierdo, who has curly dark hair and bags under her eyes.

 "In our house, we've had enough. My husband can only find temporary, badly-paid jobs. My eldest son can't find anything and neither can I." Full story...

Related posts:
  1. 50,000 Spanish families lose homes in 2013...
  2. Spain's 'starving' school kids shock Europe...
  3. Hungry Spanish pupils flock to summer school for free lunch...
  4. Spaniards flock to Australia to escape economic woes...
  5. The hungry in Spain forage thrash bins for their next meal...
  6. More and more Swiss turning to unscientific "healers..."

Kung-Fu cabs: female-only taxi firm teaches drivers karate...

Corrupted and defeated by our own shameful cruelty...

There is nothing more dangerous in the world than a man who thinks he is doing good. Such men are capable of the most dreadful horrors.

And it was such men who allowed and carried out the shameful torture which we now know for certain was inflicted by ‘our’ side in the great unending battle against ‘Al Qaeda’ or ‘ISIS’ that we are constantly told we are fighting.

This is why – as a patriotic Christian conservative from a Service family – I strive so hard to puncture and mock the ridiculous rhetoric of the ‘war on terror’.

The truth remains that it is more likely that an eagle will drop a tortoise on your head from the sky than that you will be affected by terrorism in your entire life. And in any case Mrs Theresa May and MI5, MI6, the CIA and GCHQ can’t protect you from either of these remote dangers.

If we continue to believe this self-righteous anti-terror rubbish, we will in the end be destroyed by our own hypocrisy. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. American Inquisition...
  2. The CIA torturers started at the top...
  3. UN official wants US administrators involved in torture to be prosecuted...
  4. Report on CIA details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations...
  5. CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects close to the point of death by drowning
  6. Guantanamo Bay: Untold history of torture & resistance...
  7. The barbaric world that the United States has shaped since 9-11...
  8. These vainglorious fools will march us into another inferno...

The ‘selfie’ obsession: a chronic, narcissistic mental disorder...

(...)

Everyone is taking selfies now. Should we really be worried about this trend, or is it just a case of people being empowered on a microblogging platform like Twitter, or Instagram? Writer Donna Highfill explains, “I have run into at least 10 people recently who have stopped on fast-moving, heavily-populated sidewalks to take a #selfie. There is no historical building behind them, no beautiful landscape, no real reason to take a picture of themselves other than the fact that they can reverse the camera on the phone, gaze at their own visage, and then share it on social media so the rest of the world can gaze upon it as well.”

“If smartphones were ponds, a large portion of our population would have already drowned.”

No one is immune. Even celebrities who you’d think are already getting enough face time are still drawn to the cheap narcissistic released provided by the selfie.

Yesterday, the digital oligarchs at Twitter declared 2014 as the ‘Year of the Selfie‘. According to executives there, the most popular, the most retweeted, ‘tweet’ of the year was by comedian Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscar awards last March – with her celebrity ‘friends’, including Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, and Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Her Tweet was ‘favorited’ over 2 million times and retweeted 3.3 million times. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. 'About to land, but selfie first': Instagram-addicted pilots defy cockpit rules...
  2. Singapore's elderly and selfies...
  3. What the Beatles can teach the selfie generation...
  4. Mandela memorial selfie: If President Obama acts like this, don’t blame teenagers...

American Inquisition...

Torture is a crime under both American and international law. The Bush administration repeatedly broke the law from 2002 to 2006 by unleashing a wave of torture, kidnapping, and murder, all under the banner of its faux “war on terror.”

“Terror” is a wonderfully useful propaganda term developed by the Israelis and adopted by the Bush administration to dehumanize and delegitimize America’s violent enemies who were opposing US presence in much of the Muslim world.

The US Central Intelligence Agency, created to gather and assess information, was turned into a ruthless paramilitary hunter of America’s real or imagined enemies. Of course, America had to be protected from another 9/11-type attack. But, just as much, the Bush administration was seeking revenge for the 9/11 attacks that caught the tough-talking president asleep on guard duty. CIA was given the dirty job and then chivvied without relent by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Muslims had to be taught a dire lesson. The Guantanamo gulag, the freezing rooms, beatings, contorted positions, waterboarding – all tortures favored by the old Soviet secret police – were to serve as a stark warning to disobedient miscreants in America’s Mideast Empire, which I call, the “American Raj.” Humiliation and degradation techniques developed by Israel to turn Arab prisoners into informers were applied full force by US military jailers at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Amazingly, some idiots at CIA actually paid two quack psychologists $81 million to develop tortures. Any self-respecting Moroccan or Serb policeman would have happily done job for $100 cash. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. The CIA torturers started at the top...
  2. UN official wants US administrators involved in torture to be prosecuted...
  3. Report on CIA details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations...
  4. CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects close to the point of death by drowning
  5. Guantanamo Bay: Untold history of torture & resistance...
  6. UN report documents torture, police violence in US...
  7. US violates Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo prison...
  8. The road from Abu Ghraib: a torture story without a hero or an ending...
  9. Here are some of the torture photos that Obama does not want you to see...

'About to land, but selfie first': Instagram-addicted pilots defy cockpit rules...

The temptation of flying high in social media inspires dozens of cockpit crewmembers to shoot and post stunning aerial views and selfies, while on duty. They do so despite it being against the rules, and even at critical moments of takeoff and landing.

Instagram has been monitored for six months by Quartz reporters, who surfed the social network for pictures with hashtags like #pilotlife, #pilotsview or #cockpitview. They found hundreds of examples.

Some of the sky-high images have garnered hundreds of likes and followers.

Social media popularity, however, comes at a price of violating safety rules, adopted in the US and in Europe. These bar airline pilots from using electronic devices for personal reasons while on duty in the cockpit.

 There’s also an even stricter requirement of a so-called "sterile cockpit" – a ban on doing anything unrelated to operating the plane - while the aircraft is in the process of takeoff or landing at altitudes below 10,000 ft (3,000 m). Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Singapore's elderly and selfies...
  2. What the Beatles can teach the selfie generation...
  3. Mandela memorial selfie: If President Obama acts like this, don’t blame teenagers...
  4. Pilots were sleeping when Air France flight crashed...
  5. Jet Airways pilot was asleep, co-pilot was on iPad, both suspended...
  6. Airline pilots 'so reliant on computers they forget how to fly'

Toilet or divorce: Maharashtra woman's ultimatum to husband...

Toilet or divorce - that's the choice Vandana Thorat has given her husband Santosh, a farmer in Maharashtra's Beed district. She has even slapped a legal notice making her demand amply clear: She wants a toilet built within one month.

"We feel ashamed to defecate in the open. For two years I have been telling him. My daughter said to leave him. We had to squat on the roads. So I sent him the notice," Vandana said.

Santosh recently built a new brick and mortar house in the Pangri village, but without any toilet. They have a daughter and the women have to resort to open defecation which compelled Vandana to push her 17-year-old marriage to the brink.

"I got the notice which says if I don't build a toilet within a month, she will divorce me," said Santosh.

In a similar incident in May, a woman in a Bihar village demanded a divorce from her husband for not constructing a toilet in their house. She was upset over being forced to make her way to an open field every day under the cover of darkness to defecate.

"Since 2009, my husband has been promising and assuring me to construct the toilet but it is yet to be built. Whenever I insisted for it, he thrashed me. Now I have decided not to live with him," the woman said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day speech, had stressed on the needs for toilets as much as digital India. Mr Modi also urged all parliamentarians to invest their constituency funds into building toilets in every school. Source...

Related posts:
  1. Man in India building toilet to save marriage!!!
  2. India's anti-pissing tanker...
  3. India faces stinking reality on Toilet Day...
  4. Photo pose with toilet to get married in India!!!
  5. Indian government launches 'no lavatory, no bride' campaign...
  6. Woman in India leaves husband because house had no toilet...
  7. "No toilet, no bride" Indians fight for better hygiene...
  8. India is the world's largest open air toilet, says minister...
  9. Girls drop out of schools in India because of lack of toilets...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Kabul's Kung Fu kid fights for better future...

The CIA torturers started at the top...

(...)

The distinguisheRE American jurist, Robert Jackson, who would preside as prosecutor over the Nuremburg War Trials of Nazi leaders, said he was “dedicated to the principle that international law must apply equally to all nations. I am not willing to charge as a crime against a German official acts which would not be crimes if committed by officials of the United States,” he said. He added that “we must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow.”

Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and many more including the head of the CIA and his top assistants apparently have forgotten, or in Bush’s case probably never knew, given his :”gentleman’s C” while serving as a cheerleader at Yale, Jackson’s statement that history will judge the US on the principles enunciated then.

Sadly, nothing is going to happen to them. George Bush is painting and cutting brush on the ranch. Cheney is traipsing around Washington characterizing the report as nonsense. Fox News, in a remarkable episode, excoriated the Senate Intelligence Committee and its head, Diane Feinstein, for releasing the report and characterized it as politics – as a report that would have been exposed as Democratic posturing by an incoming Republican Senate majority.

It has been argued on the pages of the New York Times that the perpetrators should at least be pardoned so that a record will stand that they were pardoned from the crimes they committed. One can argue vainly that they belong in the Hague, in the international court of justice formulated as a result of the Nazi atrocities and trials. They will never get there, But that isn’t any reason for saying they shouldn’t. .Just as the Stanford students needed someone to tell them to stop, so did the CIA. And there was nobody there to do it. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. China accuses US of human rights ‘double-standards’
  2. Report on CIA details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations...
  3. CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects close to the point of death by drowning
  4. Guantanamo Bay: Untold history of torture & resistance...
  5. UN report documents torture, police violence in US...
  6. US violates Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo prison...
  7. The road from Abu Ghraib: a torture story without a hero or an ending...
  8. Here are some of the torture photos that Obama does not want you to see...

Four Rajinikanth fans from Japan have landed in Chennai to watch their superstar's Lingaa from ground zero...

Four Rajinikanth fans from Japan have landed in Chennai to watch their superstar's Lingaa from ground zero.

Outside the Kasi theatre in the city which is showing Lingaa, Yasuda Hidetoshi and three other Japanese fans from Osaka drew a lot of attention, wearing Rajini t-shirts and holding Lingaa placards in the shape of hand fans. (Also Read: Rajinikanth's Lingaa Releases Today, Chennai is Beside Itself)

Yasuda, who even speaks Tamil, lists out more than 20 films of Rajinikanth that he has watched. He adds, "I love Rajnikanth's style, action and humility. I have come to Chennai just for Lingaa".

His three Japanese team members, including two women, sing the Tamil superhit number Cauvery Aarum Kaikuthal Arasiyum from Rajini's previous blockbuster Endhiran with so much of enthusiasm and excitement. One of them says, "I love Rajini's Chandramukhi film. Happy birthday, Thalaiva." Today is the actor's 64th birthday. (Also Read - Rajinikanth, Happy Birthday: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Him)

 Rajinikanth has a huge fan following in Japan with at least 20 halls screening Lingaa reportedly running houseful. Yasuda says, "I am going to Albert theatre, the ground zero for Rajini mania, to experience Lingaa there. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Rajnikanth tops them all!!!
  2. Kollywood's SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth...
  3. Tamil superstar Rajnikanth in hilarious commercial!!!
  4. Don't mess around with Tamil superstar, Rajnikanth!!!
  5. Japanese dude mimicking Rajnikanth!!!
  6. Japanese kids dancing to a Tamil song... 

Pope Francis refuses to meet with Dalai Lama, apparently to avoid upsetting China...

A gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates opened in Rome on Friday, overshadowed by a dispute with the Vatican over reports that Pope Francis had refused to grant an audience to the Dalai Lama, the 1989 laureate, for fear of offending China.

The pope’s action, reported by news agencies and by the Dalai Lama’s followers, seemed to represent a further success for China in its efforts to isolate the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who is regarded as one of Beijing’s principal political nemeses.

The laureates’ gathering was initially set to take place in Cape Town in October, but the government of President Jacob G. Zuma, which has close economic ties with China, refused to grant the 79-year-old Dalai Lama a visa.

The action provoked a boycott by other Nobel laureates. Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, the South African winner of the 1984 prize for his battle against apartheid, responded to Mr. Zuma’s action by saying he was “ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, was quoted in news reports on Thursday as saying that “Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates.” Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Norway criticised over snub to Dalai Lama during Nobel committee visit...
  2. Swiss government avoids Dalai Lama...
  3. No visa Dalai Lama cancels visit to South Africa...
  4. China can't remember Dalai Lama's birthday!!!
  5. The Dalai Lama, the Chinese and the West...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

China accuses US of human rights ‘double-standards’

China has accused the United States of having double standards on human rights, ahead of the release of a controversial Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture in the years following the September 11 attacks.

The 480-page US Senate intelligence committee report is due to be released on Tuesday and is expected to lay bare how the CIA used “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding in an attempt to obtain intelligence from terror suspects.

Even before its release Xinhua, China’s official news agency, published a lengthy editorial detailing what it said were the United States' human rights failings.

The US' behaviour at home and abroad – including “attacks on foreign soil in its anti-terror campaigns” had "drawn international concern,” Xinhua noted.

 "America is neither a suitable role model nor a qualified judge on human rights issues in other countries, as it pertains to be,” the Beijing-run outlet added. “Yet, despite this, people rarely hear the US talking about its own problems, preferring to be vocal on the issues it sees in other countries, including China.” Full story...

Related posts:
  1. UN official wants US administrators involved in torture to be prosecuted...
  2. UN report documents torture, police violence in US...
  3. Singapore tells the US to sweep its own floor first on human rights...
  4. Pot calling the kettle black: China hits back at U.S. on human rights issue...
  5. Obama ignores Saudi human rights record in meeting with King Abdullah...
  6. North Korea releases list of U.S. ‘human rights abuses’: ‘The U.S. is a living hell’

UN official wants US administrators involved in torture to be prosecuted...

Following the publication on Tuesday of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on Bush-era CIA interrogation practices, a top United Nations expert has called for US officials involved in torture to be prosecuted — and he says that they can be tried in any country.

"It is now time to take action," Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, declared in a statement. "The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes."

Emmerson noted that the primary responsibility to prosecute lies with the US Department of Justice and the US Attorney General's Office, but added that "the perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to."

"Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction," he said.

Senate torture report finds the CIA was less effective and more brutal than anyone knew. Read more here.

After more than four years of political wrangling, the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 500-page summary of its 6,000-page investigation into the CIA's secret post-9/11 interrogation tactics. The committee found that the CIA misled the White House and Congress about its treatment of terrorism suspects, and concluded that its methods — including waterboarding, which led to "series of near drownings," and the subjection of detainees to "rectal rehydration," or rectal feeding, as a form of behavioral control — were far more brutal than the agency admitted. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Report on CIA details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations...
  2. CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects close to the point of death by drowning
  3. Guantanamo Bay: Untold history of torture & resistance...
  4. UN report documents torture, police violence in US...
  5. US violates Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo prison...
  6. The road from Abu Ghraib: a torture story without a hero or an ending...
  7. Here are some of the torture photos that Obama does not want you to see...

Report on CIA details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations...

The CIA carried out "brutal" interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, a US Senate report has said.

The summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the CIA had misled Americans about what it was doing.

The information the CIA collected this way failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.

In a statement, the CIA insisted the interrogations had helped save lives.

"The intelligence gained from the programme was critical to our understanding of al-Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day," director John Brennan said.

However, the CIA also acknowledged mistakes in the programme, especially early on when it was unprepared for the scale of the operation to detain and interrogate prisoners. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects close to the point of death by drowning
  2. Guantanamo Bay: Untold history of torture & resistance...
  3. UN report documents torture, police violence in US...
  4. US violates Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo prison...
  5. The road from Abu Ghraib: a torture story without a hero or an ending...
  6. Here are some of the torture photos that Obama does not want you to see...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Rohingyas risk lives to escape from Myanmar...

Amnesty reveals Saudi tactics to repress Internet users...

Amnesty International has published a report which reveals some of the Al Saud regime’s repressive tactics to silence online activists in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

On Saturday, the renowned rights group published an interview with an unnamed Saudi online activist, who warned that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have stepped up their crackdown on dissidents through “investigations, arrests and short-term detentions of journalists, athletes, poets, bloggers, activists and tweeters.”

The blogger further said the Riyadh regime seeks to stifle dissidents by resorting to its so-called Terrorism Law and blames the people who contact human rights organizations as “terrorists.”

Riyadh is also using the “shameful” Terrorism Law to exercise censorship “at its maximum” level and apply surveillance methods to hack and monitor activists’ accounts.

“Courts issue prison sentences of 10 years or more as a result of a single tweet,” he said. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Saudi Arabia: assault on online expression...
  2. Why the US is ignoring four Saudi princesses being starved to death...
  3. Saudi Arabia beheaded 59 people so far this year but hardly anyone...
  4. Saudi Shia leader sentenced to death for role in anti-govt protests...
  5. Amnesty: Saudi officials on ruthless campaign of persecution...
  6. Thousands behind bars in Saudi Arabia, activist says...
  7. Saudi women's rights activist arrested for 'insulting Islam'

"Riddles" surround 36th dead banker of the year...

52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack - a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals - was described as 'impeccable', 'sporty', 'cared-for', and 'successful' and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrpunded by riddles...

Tack disappeared on November 5th...

(...)

Geert Tack worked as a private banker for ING and managed portfolios of wealthy clients. The Belgian had a lot of respect in the financial world and was known as an up and top professional. His sudden disappearance was also smashed like a bomb. "If Tack himself was having trouble he has managed to keep it well hidden", say colleagues.

Nobody then could have guessed that the man would not return on Wednesday, November 5th to his wife in their villa Vondelen.

... and was found dead this weekend off the coast of Ostend... Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Another Deutsche banker and former SEC enforcement attorney commits suicide...
  2. 52 year-old French banker jumps to her death in Paris ...
  3. BNP banker, his wife and nephew murdered in Belgium...
  4. Ex-ABN banker Schmittmann, wife, daughter found dead at home...
  5. The baffling death in Singapore of young CEO with Bitcoin ties...
  6. Young banker's suicide becomes twelfth in financial world this year...
  7. NYC trader suicide becomes 11th this year in financial community...

Ukraine: The great lie of our time...

In all International Relations (IR) classrooms throughout the English-speaking world, something called the democratic peace theory is taught. The theory holds that countries are less likely to go to war if they are democracies, and that installing democratic regimes is therefore the path to peace and security in the world. Paradoxically, the theory is more often applied to justify wars than to end them.

Democratic peace theory is a large part of the underlying rhetoric behind the United States’ commitment to “democratization” in the world’s conflict zones, particularly the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. While the US supplies arms to dictatorships it falsely labels “democracies,” it works to overthrow governments that were actually democratically elected.

Hurling feeble accusations that truly elected rulers are sliding into autocracy, the United States continues on a slippery slope of its own by arming some of the world’s most sordid military dictatorships. It is astonishing that anyone can really be convinced by their reasoning.

In Ukraine, the United States proved its hypocrisy more clearly than in any other relationship it managed to strap together. Its initial cause for involvement in Ukraine was about “democratization.” Accusing democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovych of sliding into autocracy, the United States favored violent protests to overthrow this regime in the name of US-guided democracy. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Putin's speech in Valdai that went unreported by US & British media...
  2. Russia at U.N. accuses U.S., allies of bossing world around...
  3. What the US media won't tell you about Ukraine...
  4. Putin: US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya distorted international law...
  5. The media war behind the Ukraine crisis...
  6. 15 years on: Looking back at NATO's ‘humanitarian’ bombing of Yugoslavia...
  7. The hypocrisy is unbearable: Iraq vs. Crimea, can you spot the difference?

Pilger: War by media and the triumph of propaganda...

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

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

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war - with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an "invisible government". It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media - a surreal assembly line of obedient clich├ęs and false assumptions. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Pilger: Breaking the last taboo - Gaza and the threat of world war in Ukraine...
  2. Pilger: Break the silence: a world war is beckoning...
  3. The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq can't be 'countered' indefinitely...
  4. Following fools blindly into war...again and again!
  5. When propaganda fail, humanity awakens ... the fall of the mainstream media...
  6. The media war behind the Ukraine crisis...

India's new comic superhero: Priya the rape survivor...

A new Indian comic book has a female rape survivor as its ‘superhero’ who fights gender-based sexual violence around the world.

The comic, Priya’s Shakti, tells the story of rape survivor Priya who fights against the patriarchy and misogyny alongside the Goddess Parvati.

It was inspired by the highly-publicised gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, who later died.

The website, where the comic can be dowloaded for free, states: “The project centres on the Goddess Parvati and Priya, a mortal woman devotee and survivor of rape and is rooted in ancient matriarchal traditions that have been displaced in modern representations of Hindu culture.

 “It creates an alternative narrative and voice against [gender-based violence] in popular culture through the Hindu mythological canon.” Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Meet Burka Avenger: New Pakistani superhero fights for girls' education...
  2. The Silver Scorpion, Muslim comic book superhero on the way...
  3. Female superhero Redbud Woman appears in Beijing to help homeless...
  4. India: An attack on love...
  5. Angry mob in India cut off man’s penis for attempting rape of a girl...
  6. UN: 77% of teenage Indian girls endure sexual violence...

Neil deGrasse Tyson - "Do you believe in god?"

Singapore: Hacker jailed for defacing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's website...

A Singaporean court has jailed a blogger for two months for defacing the website of the country's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The attack on Loong's website took place during a spate of cyber attacks in the country last November.

Mohammad Azhar bin Tahir, an unemployed 28-year-old, pleaded guilty to "unauthorised modification" of a page of Loong's website on which were displayed messages and pictures making fun of the Singaporean leader from the hacker group Anonymous.

Tahir was jailed for another four months for an unrelated charge under Singapore's Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, a court spokeswoman told AFP news agency.

The section that was hacked by Tahir showed the message "ANONYMOUS SG WAS HERE BIATCH", after the hacker had put computer code into the server of Lee's website.

Earlier this year, another blogger, Roy Ngerng, was found guilty of defaming Loong in a blog post despite raising more than $55,700 (£35,640) for his legal costs through a crowdfunding effort.

A letter from Loong's lawyer requested that Ngerng apologise to the prime minister and remove the blog article which he claimed "impugns his [Lee's] character, credit and integrity." Source...

Related posts:
  1. Singapore PM wins defamation case against blogger...
  2. Blogger sued by Singapore PM fired from job...
  3. Social media uprising in Singapore: the Roy Ngerng affair...
  4. Singapore: Blogger removes posts under threat from prime minister...
  5. The data hackers: mining your information for Big Brother ...
  6. The growing hacker epidemic...

Hong Kong mother 'starved and tortured' her maid...

An Indonesian maid accused her former employer of subjecting her to a horrifying campaign of abuse and "torture" on Monday on the first day of a high-profile trial in Hong Kong.

Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother-of-two and former beauty parlour worker, faces a lengthy jail term if found guilty of 20 charges including grievous bodily harm and assault.

On Monday, a court in the former British colony heard allegations that Ms Law had used domestic implements including mop-handles, hangers, a ladder and even a vacuum cleaner to physically assault her former maid.

"[Law] threatened to kill my parents back home if I told people about the torture," Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a 23-year-old migrant worker, told the court, according to the South China Morning Post.

Ms Sulistyaningsih's case sparked global outrage last year after pictures showing her badly bruised body went viral on the internet, underlining the often harsh realities faced by the estimated 300,000 domestic workers in Asia's most important financial hub. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. 'Tortured' Indonesian maid in Hong Kong listed on Time's top 100...
  2. Abusing maids is Hong Kong's shame...
  3. Filipina maid in Saudi Arabia rescued after video plea...
  4. Maid's horrible torture by Saudi woman shocks Indonesia...
  5. A Burmese maid's ordeal in Singapore...
  6. Shopping mall in Singapore found to be selling housemaids like commodities...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Make in India? Okay, first sort out visas...

India is a country I know reasonably well. Although I have never lived there, I have been visiting regularly since 1960. Also, a quite high proportion of my closest friends are Indians, whether they still live there or are members of the extensive Indian diaspora.

I have also worked with various Indian institutions, including academia, NGOs, business and government. Finally, I have quite a fascination for Indian culture – perhaps 30% or more of my readings of contemporary literature are Indian authors.

In short, fundamentally I have great affection – and, in many respects, admiration for India.

I realize, of course, that India has its faults. Some are quite serious: The injustice of the caste system, violence against women, widespread corruption, terrible infrastructure, high and unacceptable levels of poverty, shocking rates of illiteracy. There are more illiterate women in India than in the rest of the world combined.

All this by way of preface to say that what follows is going to be considered by some as quite critical. However, as I know many Indians themselves will agree, this is also an incredibly frustrating society. After all, they are the ones to experience most of the first-hand fallout from that in their daily lives. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. India launches new visa rules to boost tourism...
  2. Why do so few tourists visit "Incredible India?"
  3. Democracy in India, democracy in Switzerland...
  4. India 94th on corruption index, Afghanistan most corrupt...
  5. Jawaharlal Nehru 'would be ashamed of today's greedy, corrupt India'

Fisk: Isis? Islamic State? Daesh? Who exactly is the greatest threat to civilisation?

Well, heaven preserve us: the most useless “peacemaker” on earth has just used an Arabic acronym for the greatest threat to civilisation since the last greatest threat. Yup, ol’ John Kerry called it “Daesh”, which is what the Arabs call it.

It stands for the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”. We prefer Isis or Isil or the Islamic State or Islamic Caliphate. Most journos prefer Isis because – I suspect – it’s easier to remember. It’s the name of an Egyptian goddess, after all. It’s the name of a university city’s river. And of course, it’s the name of Lord Grantham’s dog in Downton Abbey.

Many an American scribe has questioned why Kerry should be using this goddam Arabic lingo – although we use Fatah for the PLO. It, too, is an acronym which, translated, means “the Party for Palestinian Liberation”. And in 2011 we called Tahrir Square in Cairo “Tahrir”, only occasionally reminding readers and viewers that it, too, meant “liberation”.

None explained why the place was important: because this was the square mile of Cairo in which was based the largest British barracks and into which the Brits – during their much loved occupation of Egypt – refused to allow any Egyptian to walk without permission. That’s why it was called Tahrir – liberation – when the Brits left. That’s why Hosni Mubarak’s attempt to prevent the protesters entering the square in 2011 placed him firmly in the shadow of Egypt’s former colonial masters. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. The politicians are scaring you again...
  2. Meanwhile, whatever happened to Al Qaeda??
  3. Canada, at war for 13 years, shocked that ‘a terrorist attacked its soldiers..."
  4. Ron Paul: US war achievements; a mountain of corpses and ripped-off Americans...
  5. Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. 
  6. “TheTerrorists R Us.” The Islamic State “Big Lie”
  7. Following fools blindly into war...again and again!
  8. William Engdahl: 'ISIS is CIA false flag op, pretext for war inside Syria & Iraq'

Theresa May’s child sexual abuse inquiry faces new storm...

Two members of Theresa May’s panel inquiring into child sex abuse are facing calls to resign after being accused of sending threatening or insulting emails to victims who had criticised the inquiry.

Lawyers for one abuse survivor have written to the home secretary to complain of a string of unsolicited communications, including an allegedly threatening email sent two days before an official meeting that both panellists and an abuse survivor were due to attend.

The victim, who is on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder, was left too anxious to attend the “listening meeting” in November. The development will be a huge embarrassment to May, who has already seen two chairs to the inquiry stand down since it was launched in July, both over conflicts of interest. A source close to the inquiry’s secretariat said the emails should not have been sent, leaving the fate of the panel members in doubt.

The inquiry has been set up to consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales from 1970 to the present day. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. VIP paedophile ring 'abused teenage boy INSIDE Buckingham Palace and...
  2. Retired Scotland Yard detectives back up claims that paedo MPs murdered
  3. Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases’
  4. Paedophile orgies in luxury flats and claims three boys were murdered by VIPs...
  5. Father claims police covered up son’s murder by Westminster paedophile ring...
  6. 'I watched Tory MP murder a boy during depraved Westminster VIP...
  7. Thatcher 'personally covered up' child abuse allegations against senior ministers...
  8. Jimmy Savile interviews censored by police to remove references to Royals...

The post-antibiotic future is here: Superbugs are killing India's newborns -- and the entire world's at risk...

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and factory farms is pushing us ever closer to the day when our miracle drugs will no longer be effective. Maryn McKenna memorably laid out the stakes of our imminent arrival in the post-antibiotic era as a terrifying hypothetical:

Before antibiotics, five women died out of every 1,000 who gave birth. One out of nine people who got a skin infection died, even from something as simple as a scrape or an insect bite. Three out of ten people who contracted pneumonia died from it. Ear infections caused deafness; sore throats were followed by heart failure. In a post-antibiotic era, would you mess around with power tools? Let your kid climb a tree? Have another child?

In India, that future is already here. The New York Times has a distressing report on the epidemic of antibiotic resistant “superbugs” killing the country’s newborns by the tens of thousands:

“Five years ago, we almost never saw these kinds of infections,” said Dr. Neelam Kler, chairwoman of the department of neonatology at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of India’s most prestigious private hospitals. “Now, close to 100 percent of the babies referred to us have multidrug resistant infections. It’s scary.”

These babies are part of a disquieting outbreak. A growing chorus of researchers say the evidence is now overwhelming that a significant share of the bacteria present in India — in its water, sewage, animals, soil and even its mothers — are immune to nearly all antibiotics.
 Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Bicycle pumps, reused needles & gloves: Hideous Indian sterilization ...
  2. Last year’s flu vaccine killed and injured over 93,000 US citizens...
  3. 14 infants die in 24 hours in West Bengal's Burdwan Hospital...
  4. 36 infants die in five days at govt-run Kolkata hospital in India...

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Bahrain: more bloodshed...

Vietnam writer Nguyen Quang Lap 'arrested over blog'


An award-winning Vietnamese writer has been arrested, reportedly for publishing criticism of the Communist government on his blog.

Nguyen Quang Lap was taken into custody after police searched his home in the city of Ho Chi Minh on Saturday.

His wife and his brother said police had accused him of publishing articles that went against the authorities.

Mr Lap is the second prominent blogger to have been detained recently, in an apparently renewed attack on dissent.

Last week, police in Ho Chi Minh took blogger Hong Le Tho, 65, into custody on charges of anti-state activity. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Vietnam jails blogger for critical posts...
  2. Vietnam just banned doing pretty much anything online...
  3. A starving blogger's Vietnam crusade...
  4. Vietnam to ban sharing of news stories on social media...
  5. Vietnam arrests third blogger in less than a month in intensifying crackdown
  6. Vietnamese anti-corruption bloggers jailed...
  7. Vietnamese dissident bloggers unfazed by 20-year jail threats by the State...

Epic fail: Jon Stewart lies in Ferguson skit, gets slammed by CA dstrict attorney...

It turns out that Stewart has a lot to learn about reporting the truth.

In their bid to come up with new material each day, Stewart writers and producers will, more often than not, gravitate towards what they believe are the easiest targets to poke fun at, and will always take extra care to test the wind and make sure they are within the majority public opinion within their audience demographic on each single issue they turn into a skit. So it’s no surprise they would run with mainstream mythology regarding Ferguson and NYC – namely, that both incidents were racially motivated and then proceeded to flash up on screen the faces and names of ‘noteworthy’ black victims of police shootings in America.

Stewart believes that he’s safely above any critical judgement of the obvious politics he and his team inject into their ‘comedy sketches’. He hides behind the cloak of comedy because he doesn’t want to commit to doing hard news and having to deal with all the reality and course politics which come with that. He’s a latter-day court jester to the establishment, nothing more, nothing less.

For the show’s producers, their Ferguson ‘race angle’ seemed like a safe, shallow angle to take, but according to all available evidence and testimonies about those incidents – there was no racial discrimination involved either case. But that’s not the worse gaffe in this skit… Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Jon Stewart paid $30 million a year by media giant NBC to mislead and amuse...
  2. Jon Stewart's brother is Chief Operating Officer at the NYSE
  3. Jon Stewart - America's new Messiah?
  4. Fat, dumb and not so happy...
  5. The deliberate dumbing down of America...

Global Internet freedoms on decline...

Internet freedom around the world has tumbled for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 assessed countries showing negative trends as more governments resort to repressive measures that stifle online use.

A multiple of factors, including repressive laws, government surveillance and regulatory controls over online discussion are just some of the ways that Internet freedoms are slowly being chipped away, according to a survey by Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organization.

Of the 65 countries analyzed in the study, entitled ‘Freedom on the Net 2014,’ 19 adopted new legislation that “increased surveillance or restricted user anonymity.”

 This Orwellian atmosphere of ubiquitous over-the-shoulder surveillance has had a chilling effect on internet freedoms, not to mention personal liberty, since more people are now facing prison sentences for not conforming to the new wave of laws governing internet use. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Democracies US, UK and India listed among enemies of internet freedom
  2. Hungary scraps its internet tax after protesters attack prime minister for...
  3. Mass internet surveillance threatens international law, UN report claims...
  4. Turkish president proclaims “I am increasingly against the internet every day”
  5. India: Turning back the clock on freedom of expression...
  6. Berners-Lee urges citizens to secure web’s future...
  7. Exclusive: inside America's plans to kill online privacy rights everywhere...

India: 210 women tortured to death for 'witchcraft' in Chhattisgarh, many await justice...

Even as Chhattisgarh witnessed around 1,500 incidents and 210 deaths of women assaulted for practices witchcraft in last few years, three women wait for justice after suffering assault, paraded naked, tonsured and forced to consume urine over similar accusations 13 years ago at Gariyaband's Lachkhera region.

The women Teerath Bai, Shyama and Bisahin Bai had hit national headlines in October 2001 after they underwent torture by more than 20 persons and sustained grievous injuries.

A case was registered against 20 persons then of which two are already dead, while the three women still await justice, the women who were in state capital said. They narrated the story about how they were forced to hold live electric wire to prove they were not 'witches' and were dragged by hair on streets before tonsuring them.

 Taking cognizance of atrocities, a city based doctor fighting against blackmagic and superstition has approached state government and plans to step up pressure demanding to put such cases in fast-track court. "Humiliation for these women doesn't end with lodging an FIR, they are kicked out of family and village, forced to spend life in isolation. In most cases, the women die waiting for justice or see the accused die his own death. I will launch a campaign to get these cases to fast-track courts so the pained women get justice in time," Dr Dinesh Mishra of Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti — an NGO said. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. Indian athlete Debjani Bora beaten in 'witch hunt'
  2. India woman killed in 'witch hunt'
  3. Woman in India branded witch, beaten to death...
  4. 'Witches' of India suffer agonies of superstition...
  5. Nepal woman attacked as "witch", stripped naked, forced to eat excrement...
  6. India: 3 young men beat mother to death in exorcism ritual...
  7. Cultural killings of women in India: perpetrators seldom punished as society...