Showing posts from June, 2007

Crime Rates in Canada

So in Canada big cities are not that bad especially compared to the US. I find I am in the highest murder rate area, rural prairies. Perhaps it is because most rural people will have a gun handy when they get mad!

Crime rates higher in small cities: Statistics Canada
Last Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2007 | 12:45 PM ET
CBC News
New statistics suggest overall crime rates in Canada are highest in small urban areas, perhaps debunking the assumption that big cities are more dangerous.

The overall crime rate in small urban areas — home to at least 1,000 people — was 43 per cent higher than in large urban areas with a core of at least 100,000, indicates the Statistics Canada study of 2005 crime rates that was released Thursday. Only in Quebec were crime rates higher in bigger cities.

Rates of total violent crime, total property crime and break-ins were also highest in small urban areas, while robbery and motor vehicle theft were more common in large cities, the federal agency reported.

Robbery r…

Potsdam Plotz

It seems that global trade agreements will remain mired in conflict unless the developed countries are willing to offer underdeveloped countries more incentives. It seems that developing and undeveloped countries do not trust the promises of the developed countries as well. The promises may very well not be politically doable and perhaps critics are correct.

Potsdam plotz

“Lies,” said the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim of the promises made by the EU and the U.S. — India and Brazil refuse unfair world trade.

>by Duncan Cameron
June 28, 2007

In the summer of 1945, the allied victors (the USSR, UK and U.S.) met in Potsdam to decide the fate of defeated Germany. Last week, meeting in Potsdam, the U.S., the EU, Brazil and India (a.k.a. the G4) failed to revive world trade talks, known within the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the Doha round, which were suspended a year ago.

The G4 meeting broke up in anger after only three days of the scheduled six-day encounter. The EU and t…

Internet Radio Stations to protest new royalty rates

This will be a disaster for small niche broadcasters, only a few large commercial internet stations will survive. In fact I understand that even some of the larger classical broadcasters may be badly hurt by the changes. I wonder what is happening in other countries than the US.

Internet radio stations to protest royalty hikes
They will replace music with silence today to fight royalty rate hikes.
By Jim Puzzanghera, Times Staff Writer
June 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — Across the Internet, the music will die today.

It's a protest staged by online radio stations to preview what they say will happen when substantially higher royalty rates kick in next month, silencing for good stations that can't afford them.

Thousands of webcasters will replace their music streams today with periods of silence and occasional messages about the dispute, urging people to press Congress to reverse the royalty rate and fee increase set by a federal board. But despite growing support, Congress is unlikely to ac…

Appeal recommended for convicted Libyan bomber.

As I recall there is evidence against al-Megrahi being the bomber as well. It seemed as if there was a strong desire to convict him, show that Libya was involved, and close the books on the case. As the article mentions even some of the families of victims were troubled by the trial and verdict. Libya was anxious to co-operate it seems in order to help its international reputation.

Convicted Lockerbie bomber wins right to appeal
Last Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2007 | 8:20 AM ET
The Associated Press
A judicial panel recommended Thursday that an appeal be granted to the man convicted of the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission described the evidence used to convict Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, shown heading into court in 1992, as unreliable.
(Jockel Fink/Associated Press)
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, is serving a life sentence for the bombing that claimed the lives of 270 people.

However, the long…

The Numbers Surge

Tom Engelhardt almost always provides excellent articles on his website.
There is a wealth of numbers in this article that cumulatively give a good snapshot of the havoc in Iraq.

Tomgram: The Numbers Surge in Iraq

Iraq by the Numbers
Surging Past the Gates of Hell
By Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.

This January, President Bush announced his "surge" plan for Iraq, which he called his "new way forward." It was, when you think about it, all about numbers. Since then, 28,500 new American troops have surged into that country, mostly in and around Baghdad; and, according to the Washington Post, there has also been a hidden surge of private armed contractors -- hired guns, if you will -- who free up troops by taking over many mundane military…

THe Palestinian Follies

This is another interesting analysis of the Palestine situation perhaps a rather surprising analysis for someone usually noted for his rather right wing views and his involvement in the plundering of the assets of the former Soviet empire by enterprising entrepreneurs under the guidance of Americans such as Sachs himself. He was part of what might be called the Harvard University Deconstruction Crew. He also is famous for using shock therapy policies to solve crises of the collapse of socialist economies in countries such as Poland. He later worked on global poverty issues and was employed by the UN supposedly pro bono but actually paid 75 k a year to solve his own poverty problems until someone found out!

The Palestine follies

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

American foreign policy in the Middle East experienced yet another major setback this month, when Hamas, whose Palestinian government the United States had tried to isolate, routed the rival Fateh movement in Gaza. In response, Israel sealed…

Divide and Rule Israeli-Style: Jonathan Cook

I found this to be one of the better analytical articles on the situation in Palestine. Cook lives in the area. His articles are usually quite perceptive IMHO.
Cook has his own website. He is a freelance journalist.

Divide and Rule, Israeli-Style
Can the Arab world be turned into
Gaza's jailers?
by Jonathan Cook
The boycott by Israel and the international community of the Palestinian Authority finally blew up in their faces with Hamas' recent bloody takeover of Gaza. Or so argues Gideon Levy, one of the saner voices still to be found in Israel. "Starving, drying up, and blocking aid do not sear the consciousness and do not weaken political movements. On the contrary… Reality has refuted the chorus of experts and commentators who preached [on] behalf of the boycott policy. This daft notion that it is possible to topple an elected government by applying pressure on a helpless population suffered a complete failure."

But has Levy got it wrong? The faces of Israeli and Amer…

Taliban using Soviet era weapons

Surely the Taliban buy from wherever they can. It is ironic that the Taliban would be using Soviet era weapons. They were abandoned due to the success of the Taliban and other jihadists funded by the west to drive the Evil Empire out of Afghanistan. This is a type of blowback.
Imagine one of the worst warlords Dostum is still quite active in the new democratic Afghanistan. He is even military adviser to Karzai.

Officials: Soviet-Era Caches, Not Iran, Arming Taliban

by Tahir Qadiry
MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan - While United States officials accuse Iran of arming a resurgent Taliban, officials here say the weapons are actually part of vast caches left behind by the Soviet army that fought a nine-year war in Afghanistan before withdrawing in 1988.

Ustad Basir Arifi, secretary for the Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program in northern Afghanistan, told IPS that weapons abandoned by the Soviet Union there are now being moved by professional smugglers to the southern provinces …

Castro targeted for assassination by CIA

This confirms what was often conjectured years ago. I wonder if Chavez is now in the sights of the CIA? Birds of a feather get along together as the billing and cooing of the CIA and the Mafia illustrates.

CIA tried to get mafia to kill Castro: documents
Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:45PM EDT

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA worked with two of the country's
most-wanted criminals in a botched attempt to assassinate Cuban
President Fidel Castro in a "gangster-type action" in the early 1960s,
according to documents released by the CIA on Tuesday.

The CIA declassified hundreds of pages of long-secret records that
detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years
of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping.

The documents are known in the CIA as the "Family Jewels," and some
describe the agency's efforts to persuade Johnny Roselli, believed to
be a mobster, to help plot the assassination of Castro.

A CIA official at the time…

Situation not ripe for a new oil law in Iraq

This is an interesting analysis of the draft oil law in Iraq. I am not sure how privatizing would necessarily mean accountability as opposed to govt. ownership but much of his article makes many good points.

Situation Not Ripe for a New Oil Law in Iraq
Khalil Zahr Al-Hayat - 20/06/07//

Any one who is following up on the ongoing debate among Iraqi oil officials and experts of different walks over the country's oil law cannot help but feel upbeat on the future of the country despite the current bloody situation because of the spirit of objectivity and affirmativeness that dominates the attitudes of a majority of those involved in drafting the oil law and their unmistakable keenness to uphold the unity of Iraq and its higher national interests.

What is hard to grasp, however, is the fact that efforts to study the particularities of this law and the demands for its passing come amid a set of highly unfavorable and oppressive conditions that drastically reduces the chances for arr…

Mubarak in fanatasy land.

Mubarak is in fantasy land. Imagine he even asks that no external party should intervene between the factions while Abbas cools down! Haha! What of the arming of Fatah by the US and Israel of the release of 250 FATAH prisoners and the release of tax money only to Abbas. What of the recognition given to the new govt. set up by Abbas with Hamas excluded. Get real!

Mubarak predicts Fatah, Hamas will be reconciled
26 Jun 2007 13:23:35 GMT
Source: Reuters
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Israeli-Palestinian conflict
More CAIRO, June 26 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak predicted on Tuesday that the two main Palestinian factions -- Fatah and Hamas -- would soon patch up their differences through dialogue and said that Egypt was willing to mediate. In an interview with Egyptian state television, Mubarak said repeatedly that the two sides needed a period of calm to come to their senses and resume dialogue.

"I believe that after a period …

Blair to be named Envoy to Mideast region?

What more appropriate neutral mediator could there be than a retired lapdog to Bush?

Mideast Quartet poised to name Blair envoy
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | 6:06 AM ET
CBC News
Representatives from the Quartet of Mideast negotiators met Tuesday amid speculation that outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair could get a new role in reviving the stalled peace process.

The meeting of the envoys from the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia marked the Quartet's first gathering since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force two weeks ago.

The Quartet is expected to name Blair as a senior envoy to the region, media reports quoting unnamed diplomats as saying.

Blair is stepping down Wednesday after more than a decade in office, with new Labour Leader Gordon Brown set to assume the premiership.

A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Israel, Karen Kaufman, would not confirm the reports.

Earlier this week, Blair deflected speculation about…

The Triumph of US/Israeli policy in Palestine

This is just a part of a longer article available at .Counterpunch
In contrast to some other commentators Loewenstein thinks that US/Isreali policy is triumphing. However, she claims that Fatah and Abbas have not had much benefit from being supported by Israel and the US. By the way it is not long ago that Fatah under Arafat was a terrorist organisation that could not be bargained with. As usual there are the good terrorists (Fatah) and the bad ones (Hamas). Western media just seem to play along changing the wording to meet the new situation. As this article points out at one point references to the fact that Hamas was elected with a majority in the Authority will be less and less mentioned.

The Triumph of US/Israeli Policy in Palestine

Contrary to the many claims that the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip represents the failure of US and Israeli policies in Palestine, the violent civil infighting that has dominated the Gaza Strip over much of the la…

The Sins of Tony Blair

I thought that Blair was a bit more progressive with respect to his internal politics than this article indicates. I read in a different article that he had decreased poverty but this article claims otherwise. I find it hard to believe that Blair did not lose his labor base given his record.

Tony Blair's seven lefty sins
>by Jim Stanford
June 25, 2007
Tony Blair exits Britain's political stage next week. Which side he is leaving from, however, is open to question. Having won three consecutive majorities, he's the country's most successful left-wing prime minister ever. Or is he?

I adhere to the old-fashioned notion that what a politician does in office is more important than the number of elections won. By this standard, it's hard to conclude Mr. Blair was a lefty at all: Britain went backward during his era in the things that matter most to our side of the political spectrum. Britain is a leaner, meaner, more unequal society than when Mr. Blair came to power. And …

The Olmert-Abbas meeting: A Lebanese view

This is from a Lebanese newspaper. It sounds pro-Hamas. Certainly it gives a different slant from the almost universal pro-Abbas effusions in the mainstream Western press. I imagine that Abbas is happy enough that a considerable number of Fatah Israeli prisoners will be released. It will do nothing to help the Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

Olmert's summit gesture to Abbas was more insult than overture
By The Daily Star Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Israeli officials worked hard to play down expectations ahead of Monday's four-way summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert worked just as hard to meet them by sharply limiting what were unconvincingly advertised as his efforts to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. With Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II on hand to lend credibility as Arab "moderates," the best Olmert had to offer was a commitment to put a proposal before his Cabinet to free 250 membe…

Hamas holds the high cards?

I find Scheer almost always interesting and perspective but I really find it difficult to think that Hamas holds the high cards. The present drift towards civil war between Hamas and Fatah is absolutely disastrous for the Palestinians. It may have the virtue of showing that Fatah is willing to be a puppet of Israel and the US in order to gain a few crumbs for the Palestinians but for Scheer to think that Israel or the US would ever allow empowerment of the Palestinians is sheer fantasy.
Fatah is already moving to wipe out Hamas in the West Bank and it would not be surprising if Israel takes military action against Hamas in Gaza. The prospect is for more Palestinian losses. No doubt Hamas will try to strike Israel as well. There was a truce and no suicide bombings within Israel but that may be history as well if Hamas is attacked.

Hamas Holds the High Cards

Posted on Jun 19, 2007


By Robert Scheer

Forty years ago, I entered the Gaza Strip—soon after Israel had conquered that teeming caldro…