13 June 2010

Humanity does not ask us to be happy

Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf. Survival first, then happiness as we can imagine it.
-Mazer Rackham, Ender’s Game

Did Reuters Crop a Photo to Remove a Peace Activist's Weapon?

Another Cropped Reuters Photo Deletes Another Knife - And a Pool of Blood

Turkey flays Israel over killings
Turkish leaders have criticised Israel further over their deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

"I am speaking to them in their own language. The sixth commandment says "thou shalt not kill". Did you not understand? I'll say again. I say in English "you shall not kill". Did you still not understand? So I'll say to you in your own language. I say in Hebrew 'Lo Tirtzakh'."

Those troublesome Jews
The blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.

Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

As sanctions loom, is Iran sending peace signals to the US?
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei declared on Monday that countries around the world “thirst” for Iran’s message of “values, humanity and deliverance of nations from the grip of domineering powers.”

As viewed from Tehran, positive Iranian steps in recent weeks include Iran’s decision to embrace a nuclear fuel swap deal – a plan to export 1,200 kg of Iran’s homemade low-enriched uranium. Iran rejected a similar plan last October, when it was backed by the US and the UN, but accepted it last week after intense mediation with Turkey and Brazil.

But Washington’s “answer,” as described by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was that the permanent five UN Security Council members had agreed on “strong” sanctions package against Iran.

Iran sanctions cripple the UN
Most commentators agree that Resolution 1929 is so watered down - as a result of Chinese and Russian efforts - that it will have little or no impact on Iran’s nuclear energy programme or Iranian trade and economic development.

To the great majority of the people of Iran and the wider world, the UN Security Council is growing increasingly irrelevant and biased.

The US' games have in effect crippled the UN.

South Carolina head scratcher: More curiosities in election of Alvin Greene

[Cool or fraud? His winning on mostly-military absentee ballots doesn't necessarily indicate fraudulent activity considering his background, but it does sound pretty shady...]
Is he a working class hero, proof that anyone can make it in politics? Or did someone put Alvin Greene up to it, paying his way to sabotage the Democratic statewide primary to take pressure off South Carolina Republican incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint?

As calls for an investigation into Mr. Greene's surprise election widened on Saturday, more irregularities cropped up as details emerged about a US Senate race that, in essence, pitted a well-known candidate, Charleston County Council member Vic Rawl – who logged nearly 17,000 miles on the campaign trail – against a jobless guy who lives with his dad and who described his own campaign as "nothing fancy." Greene came away with 59 percent of the vote, to Rawl's 41 percent.

So far, there are far more questions than answers in the curious case of Alvin Greene, the Senate candidate with $114 in his campaign chest.

Obama's National Security Strategy: Is 'I'm not Bush' ending?
President Obama’s first National Security Strategy, to be unveiled by the administration this week, is being summed up in some circles as a repudiation of President Bush’s reliance on “unilateral” American power.

“Every presidency starts off defining itself by trumpeting the opposite of whatever its predecessor did, and that’s been true in spades going from George W. Bush to Obama,” says Robert Lieber, a professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University in Washington. “But at a certain point that gets old, and we’re at a point where the overplayed ‘we’re not Bush’ mantra is raising anxieties among friends and allies in Asia and the Middle East.”

GOP: No notice on tanning tax?
When the IRS made about $40 billion in tax credits available for small businesses in accordance with the health care overhaul, it sent out 4 million postcards informing likely participants about the credit.

Now, Republicans are asking why a similar campaign isn’t in the works to inform tanning salons and customers that they’re about to get hit with a 10 percent tax on their services.

“Every tanning salon or other business that offers separately-priced tanning services will be forced to administer this new tax and every consumer receiving services subject to this new tax will be required to pay it, regardless of their income levels or other characteristics,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote Friday to IRS commissioner Douglas H. Shulman. “Please describe what similar measures (e.g., mailing postcards) the IRS plans to take to notify potentially affected businesses and consumers about this new $2.7 billion tax.”

Report: WHO overstated H1N1 threat

[While I have no doubt that they trumped it up, I will definitely tell you that it is not a complete sham. IT IS REAL! And the symptoms are NOT "mild..."]
A joint report into the handling of the H1N1 outbreak has found that some scientists who advised governments to stockpile drugs, had previously been on the payroll of big drug companies.

Laboratory tests have confirmed more than 18,000 deaths from H1N1 infection, according to WHO figures, but the virus has turned out to be less deadly than feared.

A report by the Council of Europe, also released on Friday, accused the WHO of a lack of transparency over the pandemic announcement - saying it wasted huge sums of money and provoked "unjustified fears".

S Korea seeks UN action over ship
South Korea has filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council over the March sinking of one of its warships in disputed waters in an incident it has blamed on North Korea.

"If we are to once again tolerate North Korea's blatant act of violence, then I believe that will not promote but endanger the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and that of Northeast Asia.

Russia terror attack kills six, wounds dozens in North Caucasus
An explosion killed at least seven people and wounded more than 40 others Wednesday evening in Stavropol, a southern Russian city that had seemed immune from growing violence in the north Caucasus.

The explosive used in the attack appeared to be homemade, reports Russian video news outlet RT, and was packed with shrapnel. A 12-year-old girl was among those killed.