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marmar

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 64,693

Journal Archives

Juan Cole: Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future


By Juan Cole


A Hamas rocket hit and destroyed a house in Yahoud, a town only a mile from Ben Gurion Airport in Israel on Tuesday, raising severe alarm in among the international airlines and leading most of them to cancel flights to Tel Aviv. The US Federal Aviation Administration called for a 24 hour moratorium on US flights to Israel, and United Airlines, U.S. Airways and Delta Air lines said they would cease flying there “until further notice.” The European Aviation Safety Agency likewise cautioned European airlines from flying to Israel, and Lufthansa and other major carriers cancelled their flights.

Israel’s Transportation Ministry, in its charming way, stridently denounced the airlines as accomplices of terrorists, saying “there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize…” In fact, the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine is obviously the context for the airlines being spooked. And, if a rocket can land one mile from the airport, it can land on a plane at the airport just as easily.

Israeli tourism brought in $11 billion last year, some 4.5% of its nominal GDP. Tourism employs 100,000 workers, two-thirds of them in the hotel industry. In other words, a full loss of tourism would cost Israel $30 mn a day and could idle nearly 3% of the country’s workforce. (Since El Al is still flying, there hasn’t been a full loss of tourism, but El Al is probably flying many planes that aren’t full and may take an economic hit on that account alone; jet fuel is expensive and nowadays full planes are necessary to avoid losing money).

Here are the major countries of origin for the tourists last year:

US: 623,000
Russia: 603,000 tourists
France 315,000
Germany 254,000
United Kingdom 217,000
Italy 173,000
Ukraine 134,000


A quarter of all visitors described themselves as pilgrims. Over half said they were Christians and a little over a quarter were Jewish. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/devastates-fragile-apartheid.html



US Accused of Forcing EU to Accept Tar Sands Oil


from Inter Press, via Truthout:



Washington - Newly publicised internal documents suggest that U.S. negotiators are working to permanently block a landmark regulatory proposal in the European Union aimed at addressing climate change, and instead to force European countries to import particularly dirty forms of oil.

Environmentalists, working off of documents released through open government requests, say U.S. trade representatives are responding to frustrations voiced by the oil and gas industry here. This week, U.S. and E.U. officials are in Brussels for the sixth round of talks towards what would be the world’s largest free-trade area, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“These documents show that the U.S. is simply not interested in an open, transparent (negotiation) process,” Bill Waren, a senior trade analyst with Friends of the Earth U.S., a watchdog group, told IPS. “Rather, U.S. representatives have been lobbying on the (E.U. regulatory proposal) in a way that reflects the interests of Chevron, ExxonMobil and others.”

The oil industry has repeatedly expressed concern over the European Union’s potential tightening of regulations around transport fuel emissions, first proposed in 2009 for what’s known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Yet according to a report released Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, the sector now appears to have convinced the U.S. government to work to permanently block the implementation of this standard. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25088-us-accused-of-forcing-eu-to-accept-tar-sands-oil



Juan Cole: Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?


Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?
By Juan Cole | Jul. 22, 2014 |


Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal points to the overwhelming bias in US media against the Palestinians, calling NBC to account for having tried to remove an Arab-American reporter from Gaza after he reported the Israeli navy’s deliberate killing of children on the beach. She also points to the stranglehold the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby has on congressional politics toward Israel. She doesn’t mention but should the pressure organizations like CAMERA, well-heeled and powerful fanatics devoted to punishing American journalists who tell the truth about Israel and Palestine. I actually think NBC is better than some others on this issue, so it is a little unfortunate that they should take the brunt of Jebreal’s understandable frustration.

I don’t think either of the people she was talking to understood the problem. The show begins with Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and promises more of him. No Palestinian leader is interviewed or apparently considered for an interview! It is alleged to Jebreal that her being allowed to complain on air at all is a mercy (she isn’t actually allowed to say much about the war). It is also alleged that just reporting on all the children the Israeli military has killed is somehow even-handed; in fact if the killings are represented as necessary that isn’t true. Almost no US media admits that indiscriminate fire in civilian areas is a war crime.

There isn’t actually any doubt about US media bias against the Palestinians. Yousef Munayyar looked at CNN’s coverage of the 2012 Gaza flare-up.

Mohamad Elmasry summarizes the study:

” It revealed that a total of 45 Israeli officials were interviewed by CNN, compared to just 20 Palestinian officials. An ongoing, but incomplete, analysis of this year’s violence by the Palestine Center shows that this is happening once more. Between 30 June and 9 July , CNN interviewed a total of 17 Israeli officials, but just one Palestinian official.”


As Greg Philo notes below, it isn’t just a matter of who is interviewed and how often, though that is important. It is also a matter of history and context. From most American media you would assume that the Israelis were minding their own business and the Palestinians of Gaza just irrationally started firing rockets at them. With rare exceptions, we aren’t told that most truces have been broken by Israel, not Hamas. We aren’t told that over 70% of Gaza’s population used to live in Israel and was ethnically cleansed and left penniless. We aren’t told that Israel has a blockade on Gaza that does not allow it to export most of what it produces, that this blockade has thrown 40% of the working population into unemployment and left 56% of families food insecurity (just on the verge of going to bed hungry). We aren’t told that Israeli occupation has left 90% of people in Gaza without potable water. We aren’t told that Gaza’s Palestinians demand an end to being kept in a big concentration camp. If Israelis were being treated as the Palestinians are, what do you think they would do about it? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/jebreal-against-palestinians.html



Libertarian Belief in Absolute Property Rights Leads to Climate Change Denialism


Libertarian Belief in Absolute Property Rights Leads to Climate Change Denialism
Posted on July 20, 2014 by Lambert Strether


By David Collyer, Policy Director at Prosper Australia.

Cross-posted from Macrobusiness.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government do not believe in climate change. They have erased all of the measures Rudd and Gillard introduced to shift Australia to a low-carbon future.

If they merely doubted climate change, they would simply zero-price the behavior-changing settings and await more information. This is usually what cautious, evidence-based conservatives do. But no, their beliefs trump the science and they are acting boldly to turn those beliefs into law.

Does ignoring science seem as bizarre to you as it does to me?

When anti-abortionists talk of beliefs, they refer to the biblical injunction “thou shalt not kill” and, agree or not, there is a certain logic and coherence to their views. Yet underlying values seem absent from climate change denier rhetoric, or at best remains unexplained. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/libertarians-unable-see-climate-change.html



The Untold Story In the NSA Spying Scandal: Blackmail


via Naked Capitalism:



Cross-Posted from Washington’s Blog



The Untold Story In the NSA Spying Scandal: Blackmail


It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people.

The Express reported last month:

British security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.

***

Whistleblower Mr X, whose identity we have agreed to protect, became a very senior figure in local government before retiring a few years ago.

***

He has given a formal statement to that effect to detectives from Operation Fernbridge ….

***

“And he said was being funded at the request of Special Branch which found it politically useful to identify people who were paedophiles….”


Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 made gross indecency a crime in the United Kingdom, which included male gay sex. The Amendment was so frequently used to blackmail gay Brits that it was dubbed the “Blackmailer’s Charter“.

There is widespread speculation that Pope Benedict resigned because of sexual blackmail.

And the American government has a long history of blackmailing people – including high-level officials- with knowledge of their sexual peccadilloes.

.....(snip).....

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds alleged under oath that a recently-serving Democratic Congresswoman was secretly videotaped – for blackmail purposes – during a lesbian affair. There have been allegations of blackmail of gay activities within the U.S. armed forces for years.

And even the raw data on American citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel. This likely includes Congress members and other politicians, as well. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/exclusive-high-level-nsa-whistleblower-says-blackmail-huge-unreported-part-mass-surveillance.html



The Brink of Mass Extinction


Dahr Jamail | The Brink of Mass Extinction

Monday, 21 July 2014 09:24
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis


"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."
- Native American proverb


March through June 2014 were the hottest on record globally, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. In May - officially the hottest May on record globally - the average temperature of the planet was .74 degrees Celsius above the 20th century baseline, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The trend is clear: 2013 was the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperatures, and since the Industrial Revolution began, the earth has been warmed by .85 degrees Celsius. Several scientific reports and climate modeling show that at current trajectories (business as usual), we will see at least a 6-degree Celsius increase by 2100.

In the last decade alone, record high temperatures across the United States have outnumbered record low temperatures two to one, and the trend is both continuing and escalating.

While a single extreme weather event is not proof of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the increasing intensity and frequency of these events are. And recent months have seen many of these.

A record-breaking heat wave gripped India in June, as temperatures hovered at 46 degrees Celsius, sometimes reaching 48 degrees Celsius. Delhi's 22 million residents experienced widespread blackouts and rioting, as the heat claimed hundreds of lives.

Also in June, Central Europe cooked in unseasonably extreme heat, with Berlin experiencing temperatures over 32 degrees Celsius, which is more than 12 degrees hotter than normal. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/25051-dahr-jamail-the-brink-of-mass-extinction



David Sirota: Is Cheap, Public Internet Possible?


Is Cheap, Public Internet Possible?
Major broadband companies face a new competitor in local government.

BY DAVID SIROTA


(In These Times) The business lobby often demands that government get out of the way of private corporations, so that competition can flourish and high-quality services can be efficiently delivered to as many consumers as possible. Yet, in an epic fight over telecommunications policy, the paradigm is now being flipped on its head, with corporate forces demanding the government squelch competition and halt the expansion of those high-quality services. Whether and how federal officials act may ultimately shape the future of America’s information economy.

The front line in this fight is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where officials at the city’s public electric utility, EPB, realized that smart-grid energy infrastructure could also provide consumers super-fast Internet speeds at competitive prices. A few years ago, those officials decided to act on that revelation. Like a publicly traded corporation, the utility issued bonds to raise resources to invest in the new broadband project. Similarly, just as many private corporations ended up receiving federal stimulus dollars, so did EPB, which put those monies into its new network.

The result is a system that now provides the nation’s fastest broadband speeds at prices often cheaper than the private competition. As the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted a few years back, “EPB offers faster Internet speeds for the money, and shows equal pep in both uploading and downloading content, with Comcast and AT&T trailing on quickness.” Meanwhile, EPB officials tell The Washington Post that the utility’s telecom services have become “a great profit center”–an assertion confirmed by a Standard & Poor credit upgrade notice pointing out that the utility “is now covering all costs from telephone, video and Internet revenue, as well as providing significant financial benefit to the electric system.”

This is great news for local businesses and taxpayers–but it is terrible news for private telecom companies, who not only fear being outcompeted and outperformed in Chattanooga, but also fear the Chattanooga model being promoted in other cities. In response, those telecom firms have been abandoning the standard argument about the private sector. Indeed, as the Times Free Press reported last week, rather than insisting the private sector has inherent advantages over the public sector, the firms have gone to court insisting “that EPB, as a public entity, would have an edge when competing against private companies, which would be at a disadvantage when facing an entity owned by taxpayers.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16970/The_Future_of_Internet_in_the_Public_Sector


TomDispatch: Requiem for the American Century


from TomDispatch:


Requiem for the American Century
Turning 70, Paragraph by Paragraph

By Tom Engelhardt


First Paragraphs on Turning 70 in the American Century That Was

* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, called on his countrymen to “create the first great American Century.” Luce died in 1967 at age 69. Life, the pictorial magazine no home would have been without in my 1950s childhood, ceased to exist as a weekly in 1972 and as a monthly in 2000; Time, which launched his career as a media mogul, is still wobbling on, a shadow of its former self. No one today could claim that this is Time’s century, or the American Century, or perhaps anyone else’s. Even the greatest empires now seem to have shortened lifespans. The Soviet Century, after all, barely lasted seven decades. Of course, only the rarest among us live to be 100, which means that at 70, like Time, I’m undoubtedly beginning to wobble, too.

* The other day I sat down with an old friend, a law professor who started telling me about his students. What he said aged me instantly. They’re so young, he pointed out, that their parents didn’t even come of age during the Vietnam War. For them, he added, that war is what World War I was to us. He might as well have mentioned the Mongol conquests or the War of the Roses. We’re talking about the white-haired guys riding in the open cars in Veteran’s Day parades when I was a boy. And now, it seems, I’m them.

* In March 1976, accompanied by two friends, my wife and I got married at City Hall in San Francisco, and then adjourned to a Chinese restaurant for a dim sum lunch. If, while I was settling our bill of perhaps $30, you had told me that, almost half a century in the future, marriage would be an annual $40 billion dollar business, that official couplings would be preceded by elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and that there would be such a thing as destination weddings, I would have assumed you were clueless about the future. On that score at least, the nature of the world to come was self-evident and elaborate weddings of any sort weren’t going to be part of it.

* From the time I was 20 until I was 65, I was always 40 years old. Now, I feel my age. Still, my life at 70 is a luxury. Across the planet, from Afghanistan to Central America, and in the poverty zones of this country, young people regularly stare death in the face at an age when, so many decades ago, I was wondering whether my life would ever begin. That’s a crime against humanity. So consider me lucky (and privileged) to be seven decades in and only now thinking about my death.

* Recently, I had the urge to tell my son something about my mother, who died before he was born. From my closet, I retrieved an attaché case of my father’s in which I keep various family mementos. Rummaging around in one of its pockets, I stumbled upon two letters my mother wrote him while he was at war. (We’re talking about World War II, that ancient conflict of the history books.) Almost four decades after her death, all I had to do was see my mother’s handwriting on the envelope -- “Major C. L. Engelhardt, 1st Air Commando Force, A.P.O. 433, Postmaster, New York 17, N.Y.” -- to experience such an upwelling of emotion I could barely contain my tears. So many years later, her handwriting and my father’s remain etched into my consciousness. I don’t doubt I could recognize them amid any other set of scribblings on Earth. What fingerprints were to law enforcement then, handwriting was to family memories. And that started me wondering: years from now, in an electronic world in which no one is likely to think about picking up a pen to write anyone else, what will those “fingerprints” be? .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175870/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_future_is_not_ours_%28and_neither_is_the_past%29/



The Brink of Mass Extinction


Dahr Jamail | The Brink of Mass Extinction

Monday, 21 July 2014 09:24
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis


"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."
- Native American proverb


March through June 2014 were the hottest on record globally, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. In May - officially the hottest May on record globally - the average temperature of the planet was .74 degrees Celsius above the 20th century baseline, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The trend is clear: 2013 was the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperatures, and since the Industrial Revolution began, the earth has been warmed by .85 degrees Celsius. Several scientific reports and climate modeling show that at current trajectories (business as usual), we will see at least a 6-degree Celsius increase by 2100.

In the last decade alone, record high temperatures across the United States have outnumbered record low temperatures two to one, and the trend is both continuing and escalating.

While a single extreme weather event is not proof of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the increasing intensity and frequency of these events are. And recent months have seen many of these.

A record-breaking heat wave gripped India in June, as temperatures hovered at 46 degrees Celsius, sometimes reaching 48 degrees Celsius. Delhi's 22 million residents experienced widespread blackouts and rioting, as the heat claimed hundreds of lives.

Also in June, Central Europe cooked in unseasonably extreme heat, with Berlin experiencing temperatures over 32 degrees Celsius, which is more than 12 degrees hotter than normal. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/25051-dahr-jamail-the-brink-of-mass-extinction



Must Modern Economies Nurture Narcissism?


from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:


Must Modern Economies Nurture Narcissism?
JULY 19, 2014

To really take on grandiosity and greed, a new report from a prestigious CEO pay watchdog suggests, we may need to shove onto the global political stage the notion of a maximum wage.


By Sam Pizzigati


Narcissists don’t happen to be particularly nice people. They preen. They grab. And they never ever really feel our pain.

Narcissists, some fascinating new business school research reminds us, also don’t make for particularly effective corporate CEOs.

This new research — out of the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona — examines the impact of CEO narcissism on corporate tax policies. That impact turns out to be fairly robust. The corporations that America most narcissistic CEOs run seem to be prone to engaging in highly risky corporate tax-avoidance maneuvers.

How did the authors of this new research, Kari Joseph Olsen and James Stekelberg, identify the narcissists in America’s top CEO suites? They used a variety of yardsticks, everything from the pay gap between CEOs and their fellow execs to the prominence of CEO photos in corporate annual reports.

In the end, the two business school researchers had no problem finding a statistically significant subset of CEO narcissists within the Fortune 500. And that hefty number of narcissist CEOs begs a rather obvious question: Do narcissists just naturally gravitate to America’s corporate pay summit or do the incredibly cushy rewards at that summit turn otherwise normal people into narcissists? .................(more)

- See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/must-modern-economies-nurture-narcissism/#sthash.hDZV5EuD.dpuf



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