31 Dec 2011

Cucumbers Too Sexy for Women

An Islamic cleric living in Europe reportedly has warned Muslim women not to get too close to bananas, cucumbers or other produce -- to avoid having “sexual thoughts.”

The unnamed cleric, whose directive was featured in an article in el-Senousa, a religious publication, purportedly said that if women wanted to eat these foods, a third party -- preferably a male related to them, such as their father or husband -- should cut the items into small pieces before serving, the Egyptian website Bikya Masr reported.


Carrots and zucchini also were added to the alleged cleric's list of forbidden foods for women. News of the statement quickly spread online, leaving many liberal Muslims embarrassed and angry, evoking a flurry of mockery in online forums.

Fox Nation (So it is not fair, but biased)

America’s 11 Funniest Late Night Moments Of 2011

(part 2 of the video above here, Part 3 here, Glenn Beck here)

Every weekday morning we look forward to bringing you the best that late night comedy shows offered the night before, so when it came time to choose our favorite clips of the year, we knew we had done our homework.

While it was hard to choose, we've narrowed down the funniest moments in late night of the year to just 11 -- but don't worry, we've included several runners-up for each show to make sure we've covered all the bases.

12 (?!) more videos on Huffington Post

Dead Fish Videos 2011

Complaints of Wukan protesters were valid

Residents of a south China village who tested the ruling Communist Party's control with more than a week of protests had "legitimate complaints" over a land grab that sparked the rebellion, state news agency Xinhua has said. Ten days of protests over confiscated farmland and the death of a protest organizer in Wukan in booming Guangdong province earlier this month drew widespread attention as a rebuff to the stability-obsessed government.


The standoff ended after authorities offered concessions in a rare example of the government backing down to mobilised citizens. The residents had "legitimate complaints against officials over wrongdoing concerning land use and financial management," Xinhua said in a report released late on Friday, citing a provincial investigation team. "In terms of land use, the provincial investigators ... found that Lufeng Fengtian livestock company used more land than was officially approved," it cited investigator Yang Junbo, deputy head of Guangdong's Land and Resources Department, as saying.

Reuters - WantChinaTimes.com

Why does any Jew who criticizes Israel automatically become an anti-Semite?

In mid December, Ron Dermer, a senior advisor to Israel’s prime minister, sent a letter to one of the New York Times’ editors. The letter was polite and bordered on flattery, yet it was meant to serve as a declaration of war. The New York Times offered Netanyahu the opportunity to write an opinion piece. Dermer declined the offer on Netanyahu’s behalf. The explanation given: Last May, the newspaper published, without qualifications, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ distorted version regarding the historical events that preceded the State of Israel’s inception.


Dermer was also unpleased by the positions expressed by some New York Times columnists. He looked into it and discovered that out of 20 columns written about Israel in recent months, 19 criticized Netanyahu and his government, and only one (written by Richard Goldstone) was positive. “We wouldn't want to be seen as ‘Bibiwashing’ the op-ed page of the New York Times,” Dermer wrote. The letter was not meant only for the eyes of the recipient, of course. The Prime Minister’s Office quickly leaked it to the Jerusalem Post, a newspaper whose website is read by many US Jews. The objective was to silence criticism of Netanyahu in the American media, and mostly criticism leveled by Jews.

The means to do so was to delegitimize media outlets that publish such criticism. Those who dare write against Netanyahu are anti-Semites. A Jew who dares write against Netanyahu is a Jewish anti-Semite. Every loyal Jew must shut up. The New York Times is without a doubt the world’s most prominent newspaper. Any head of state given the opportunity to share his thoughts with the paper’s readers would jump at it: There is no global platform that is more important or influential. Yet Netanyahu prefers boycotts.

Ynetnews - See 'Bibi's Brain' on TabletMag

Korean Girl with Cover of Adele's 'Rolling In The Deep'

Park Ji Min may only be 15 years of age, but there's no doubting her singing talent, with a jaw-dropping cover of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" wowing the judges of Korean TV talent show, KPop Star. (Huff. Post)

WeAreChange Best of 2011

We Are Change Youtube Channel - We Are Change

Ancient Aliens

30 Dec 2011

Egyptian forces raid NGO offices in Cairo

Egyptian prosecutors and police raided offices of 17 pro-democracy and human rights groups in what rights defenders described as a campaign against them by the military rulers.

Rights groups, a driving force behind the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February, have become increasingly vocal in criticizing the army’s heavy-handed tactics in dealing with street unrest and demanding a quicker handover of power to civilians.


The official MENA news agency said the groups had been targeted as part of an investigation into foreign funding of such organizations.

“The public prosecutor has searched 17 civil-society organizations, local and foreign, as part of the foreign funding case,” MENA cited the prosecutor’s office as saying. “The search is based on evidence showing violation of Egyptian laws including not having permits.”

The Globe and Mail

Ron Paul’s Campaign Touts Endorsement Of Pastor Who Advocates Killing Gay People

Four years ago, the Ron Paul campaign generated controversy by not repudiating the endorsement of the neo-Nazi group Stormfront, but at least back then they didn’t actually promote the fact that they had received the endorsement. This time, though, they seem pretty proud about getting the support of a Nebraska Pastor who has made some pretty vile comments:

Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law.

RonPaul DrewIvers

“Difficulty in implementing Biblical law does not make non-Biblical penology just,” he argued. “But as we have seen, while many homosexuals would be executed, the threat of capital punishment can be restorative. Biblical law would recognize as a matter of justice that even if this law could be enforced today, homosexuals could not be prosecuted for something that was done before.”

Outside the Beltway

But also this:

Thatcher government toyed with evacuating Liverpool after 1981 riots

Margaret Thatcher's closest ministers came close to writing off Liverpool in the aftermath of the 1981 inner-city riots and even raised the prospect of its partial evacuation, according to secret cabinet papers released on Friday.

liverpool 1981

They told her that the "unpalatable truth" was that they could not halt Merseyside's decline and her chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, warned her not to waste money trying to "pump water uphill" and telling her the city was "much the hardest nut to crack".

The cabinet papers released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule reveal Thatcher's closest advisers told her that the "concentration of hopelessness" on Merseyside was very largely self-inflicted with its record of industrial strife.

The Guardian

US finalizes $30bn Saudi arms deal

The US has formally announced a 30-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia which is set to create around 50,000 job opportunities for Americans grappling with an ailing economy.

The deal had been signed on Saturday in Saudi capital Riyadh but was announced by US officials in Hawaii on Thursday. According to the agreement, the US will provide the Saudi military with 84 new Boeing F-15SA fighter jets and modernize 70 existing warplanes. The deal also includes munitions, spare parts, training and maintenance contracts, US officials said.

saudi jet

The jets will be manufactured by the US aviation firm Boeing. The deal will create 50 thousand jobs and have a $3.5 billion annual economic impact in the US, the White House said. According to senior Pentagon official James Miller, "The F-15SA will have the latest generation of computing power, radar technology, infrared sensors and electronic warfare systems." The deal is part of a ten-year arms agreement between Washington and Riyadh unveiled in October 2010 and worth a whopping $60 billion.


Big Cats In Britain Cover Up By Ministry Of Defence

Big cats are stalking the country lanes of rural Britain, but their existence is being covered up by Ministry of Defence, a new book claims. Rick Minter, author of Big Cats: Facing Britain's Wild Predators, claims that the body of a large black cat was carried into an RAF Base in North Yorkshire, and the corpse is now being kept in a MOD vault.


"It is at RAF Fylingdales that we have Britain's Roswell moment on big cats," claims Minter in his book, referring to the reported alien crash landing in New Mexico, which conspiracy theorists believe was covered up by the US air force. "Retired staff apparently talked about a 'body on the table' and a witness outside the base reported a puma-like creature being trundled off in the scoop-arm of a tractor."

Big cat sightings in the UK are common according to Mark Fraser who runs the website Big Cats In Britain. However no corpse of a puma or leopard has ever been found.

North Yorkshire seems to have the dubious distinction of being a hotbed of puma and panther sightings. A spokesperson for the North Yorkshire police told the Huffington Post UK

29 Dec 2011

Israeli FM ‘Enraged’ at EU for Noting Discrimination in Israel

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is “enraged” today, according to reports, after the existence of a confidential European Union memo was revealed which noted that Arabs inside Israel face discrimination.


A Foreign Ministry spokesman issued a statement on Lieberman’s behalf condemning the EU and complaining that the memo was written “behind our backs” and without having asked the Israeli government for permission first.

The document focused on a number of measures being pushed in Israel’s parliament limiting criticism of the government and efforts, which are being pushed by Lieberman’s party, to strip Arabs of citizenship if they do not swear a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish” state.


Turkish air strike kill Kurds near Iraq

Turkish warplanes killed (more then) 23 Kurdish villagers in an air strike near the Iraqi border Thursday when smugglers were apparently mistaken for PKK militants, a pro-Kurdish official said. Provincial officials found 23 bodies at Ortasu village in Sirnak province, said Ertan Eris, a local councillor of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BPD).

turkish killer jet

Local security sources said the dead were among a group smuggling gas and sugar into Turkey from northern Iraq and may have been mistaken for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels. Sirnak governor Vahdettin Ozkan said an investigation was under way into what he described as an "incident" in which more than 20 people had been killed. "A crisis centre has been set up in the area and prosecutors and security officers have been sent there," Ozkan said.

AFP - Officials say Turkish air strikes kill 35 Kurds near the Iraqi border (Al Arabiya) - euro news

Total Internet Censorship

The Stop Online Piracy Act is not intended to make the internet more secure or even to protect copyrighted material. Its sole purpose is to codify First amendment killing actions already being undertaken by an out of control federal government.


Media talking heads and bloggers alike continue to debate the technicalities of the legislation, however, it is clear that SOPA and PIPA, (Protecting IP Act) the Senate version of the bill, form a double pronged attack on the free and open internet. The bills constitute weapons of mass destruction in the infowar, a huge leap forward for the long running agenda to completely re-structure and centralize the internet under government control.

As detailed in depth in an excellent article today in The Globe and Mail, should the legislation be signed into law in January, it will provide the U.S. government, through the office of the Attorney General, the power to pursue court orders against any site believed to be engaging in or ‘facilitating’ ‘copyright infringement’. The problem being that the bill’s definition of such terms is so broad that entire web sites could come under threat of being effectively seized and shut down for merely displaying one offending hyperlink.

Infowars - The “Stop Online Piracy Act” is insane on Coffee Loving Skeptic

Has the US developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has questioned whether the US has developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America. Treated for cancer this year, Mr Chavez was speaking a day after news that Argentina's president had the disease.


Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and her predecessor Lula da Silva have also had cancer. Mr Chavez said this was "very strange" but stressed that he was thinking aloud rather than making "rash accusations". But he said the instances of cancer among Latin American leaders were "difficult to explain using the law of probabilities". "Would it be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it?" Mr Chavez asked in a televised speech to soldiers at an army base.

Mr Chavez noted that US government scientists had infected Guatemalan prisoners with syphilis and other diseases in the 1940s, but that this had only come to light last year. And he joked that he would now take extra care of the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador - Evo Morales and Rafael Correa - lest they also be diagnosed with cancer.

BBC News

Perry To Oppose Abortion Even For Victims Of Rape Or Incest

US presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) declared that he’d experienced a “transformation” following an anti-abortion film and now no longer supports allowing women to get an abortion if they are victims of rape or incest.


Perry joined Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum at the screening of The Gift Of Life, a pro-life film produced by Citizens United, in Iowa last month. Though the 61 year-old Texas Governor had long supported allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest before yesterday, Perry said the movie prompted a change of heart and he now opposed abortions without exceptions for rape or incest.


28 Dec 2011

Richard Nixon Had Gay Affair

Watergate was only one of several scandalous aspects of former President Richard Nixon's life, according to a new book by a former White House correspondent.

Nixon's Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America's Most Troubled President by Don Fulsom (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99), former correspondent for United Press International, makes several eye-catching accusations, including that the former president had a gay affair with Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, a banker apparently with ties to the mob.


The allegation is especially noteworthy because, as gay news website Queerty reports, Nixon was known to have made homophobic remarks. From Queerty: When a close aide to President Johnson was caught having sex with a former sailor in a YMCA bathroom, Nixon called the man "ill," and added that such people "cannot be in places of high trust."

The new book also alleges that Nixon beat his wife and that his aides referred to him as "our drunk."

The Daily Mail reports that Nixon's alleged secret lover also had a shady history of his own. According to the Mail, the FBI claims Rebozo had ties to mob bosses Santo Trafficante and Alfred 'Big Al' Polizzi. He also ran a bank that, a former mobster claims, was used to launder money.

Huffington Post Canada

PETA Names Celebrity Grinches of 2011

Time for the most animal-unfriendly celebrities of the year. Here are the Top (Bottom?) Three Celebrity Grinches of 2011:

When Janet Jackson had her infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, at least the flesh that popped into view was her own—unlike the stolen animal skins that she drapes herself with, which are as dead as her taste in fashion (not to mention her career). Ms. Jackson, you're just plain nasty.


The others are Cameron Crowe for We Bought a Zoo, which relied on the performing-animal industry—in which the "actors" are routinely neglected and even abused and Kim Kardashian for wearing fur.


27 Dec 2011

Israeli gender segregation

A shy eight-year-old schoolgirl has unwittingly found herself on the front line of Israel's latest religious war.

Naama Margolese is a pale, blue-eyed, ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls' school for fear of ultra-Orthodox men who have spat on her and called her a "whore" for dressing "immodestly".
After media attention to the young girl's plight, thousands are expected to protest at 6pm local time on Tuesday against gender segregation and violence against women at a rally in Beit Shemesh, 30km to the west of Jerusalem.
Mickey Rosenfeld, a police spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that they would deploy a large number of security forces for the march, following attacks on media and police on Sunday and Monday by members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Al Jazeera English

Sociopathic & Psychopathic Police

"Why Do All The Girls Have To Buy Pink Stuff?"

Five-year-old Toddler Riley Barry has been caught on camera delivering an impassioned speech against gender stereotyping in toy shops. Standing against a backdrop of pink baby dolls, Riley Barry says it isn’t fair “for all the girls to buy princesses and all the boys to buy superheroes.”

Huff. Post

Scour the moon for ancient traces of aliens

Hundreds of thousands of pictures of the moon will be examined for telltale signs that aliens once visited our cosmic neighbourhood if plans put forward by scientists go ahead. Passing extraterrestrials might have left messages, scientific instruments, heaps of rubbish or evidence of mining on the dusty lunar surface that could be spotted by human telescopes and orbiting spacecraft.


Though the chances of finding the handiwork of long-gone aliens are exceptionally remote, scientists argue that a computerised search of lunar images, or a crowd-sourced analysis by amateur enthusiasts, would be cheap enough to justify given the importance of a potential discovery.

Prof Paul Davies and Robert Wagner at Arizona State University argue that images of the moon and other information collected by scientists for their research should be scoured for signs of alien intervention. The proposal aims to complement other hunts for alien life, such as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti), which draws on data from radiotelescopes to scour the heavens for messages beamed into space by alien civilisations.

"Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artefact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration," the scientists write in a paper published online in the journal Acta Astronautica.

The GuardianMore about the picture here and here

25 Dec 2011

Santa and the Magic Mushroom

merry christmasHave you ever wondered why on Christmas we cut down/carry evergreen trees inside our houses, decorate them with fancy ornaments, and place presents underneath them?

"So, why do people bring Pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (Red and White) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other and as representations of the love of God and the gift of his Sons life? It is because, underneath the Pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ Substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.”
James Arthur, “Mushrooms and Mankind

The Amanita muscaria is the red and white magic mushroom that grows almost exclusively beneath Pine trees. Their main psychoactive ingredient is 'muscimol,' as well as trace amount of DMT, an entheogen naturally produced in the brain’s pineal gland. The pinecone-shaped pine-al gland is an organ that produces the same DMT found in this pine tree fungus, and much more.

The Atlantean Conspiracy

American children to pose with Santa... and a fire arms


It's definitely one way of making sure Christmas goes off with a bang. A gun club in Scottsdale, Arizona is inviting children to pose for pictures with Santa Claus – and a high-powered firearm. Mail Online

Signing to Freedom

A Film about the Syrian uprising featuring: Noam Chomsky and others. Signing to Freedom Part 2

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti


Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". Modern scholars have argued that the festival was placed on the date of the solstice because this was on this day that the Sun reversed its southward retreat and proved itself to be "unconquered". Some early Christian writers connected the rebirth of the sun to the birth of Jesus.


Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)


24 Dec 2011

The Right Thing

By Moby

Obama Called "Skinny, ghetto crackhead" on Fox

More on Alter Net: Fox News' Latest Racist Attack

Mystery Space Ball Makes Crash Landing In Namibia

A hollow sphere that apparently crashed into Earth from space has left authorities scratching their heads. The mystery ball left a 13ft wide crater and locals claimed to have heard several explosions before the discovery , near a village in the north of the African nation, 480 miles from the capital Windhoek.

Space ball

Police forensics director Paul Ludik told the AFP news agency the sphere had a diameter of 14 inches, a rough surface and appears to be “two halves welded together”. He added: “It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow.” The discovery, made in November, but not made public until now, has prompted speculation over whether the mystery sphere is evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

Huff Post

Sailors Make History After Sharing US Navy's Traditional First Kiss

Two female sailors have made history after becoming the first same-sex couple to publicly share the US Navy's traditional first kiss. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, 23, stepped off the USS Oak Hill in Virginia and planted a kiss on the lips of her girlfriend, Citlalic Snell, also a naval officer.

first navy gay kiss

The passionate embrace comes after the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule, which prevented gay personnel from being open about their sexuality, was repealed earlier this year. Petty Officer Gaeta, who was just home from 80 days at sea, was selected as the crew member to make the traditional "first kiss" ashore after buying $50 worth of $1 tickets in a raffle. Petty Officer Snell, of Placerville, California, told the newspaper the kiss would "open a lot of doors not just for our relationship, but for all the other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military".

Sky News

The Caganer figure

crapping elf

The caganer is one of the most characteristic and beloved figures in popular Catalan Christmas imagery. The placement of this uninhibited and controversial figure in the crèche is a counterpoint which adds a human side to the representation of the mystery of Christmas. This down-to-earth symbol makes for a marvellous synthesis which harmonizes its transcendent and supernatural message with material reality and the biological condition of our organism.

Amics del Caganer

Let It Snow

De Staat

23 Dec 2011

Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented through wholesale massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally held to have been between 1 million and 1.5 million. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.

armenian genocide

It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as scholars point to the systematic, organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust. The word genocide was coined in order to describe these events.

Wikipedia - armenian-genocide.org - armeniapedia.org (pictures) - Turkey slams France over genocide debate

Medvedev warns 'Provocateurs'

President Medvedev has said Russia "needs democracy not chaos" in the wake of recent protests over alleged election abuses. In his fourth and final state of the nation address as president, he proposed a set of reforms to liberalise the political system.


He said the government would strongly resist any foreign pressure and would not allow external influences to undermine stability. "We won't allow provocateurs and extremists to drag society into their adventures, and we won't allow any outside interference into our domestic affairs," he said.

Mr Medvedev's words follow mass demonstrations since the December 4 parliamentary election, in which the opposition believes Vladimir Putin's party, United Russia, cheated its way to victory. Independent monitors said the ruling party only managed to retain its majority through fraud.

Sky News

Chinese activist jailed for nine years for 'subversive writing'

A Chinese court has sentenced a veteran democracy activist to nine years' imprisonment for inciting subversion, in what appears to be the most severe punishment handed down in a crackdown on dissent this year.


Chen Wei was convicted of incitement to subversion over four essays he wrote and published online, according to one of his lawyers. He was detained in February amid an extensive government crackdown in response to anonymous online calls urging Chinese to imitate protests in North Africa and the Middle East.

Attorney Liang Xiaojun said the trial at a court in the city of Suining in south-west China lasted about two and a half hours and the sentence was handed down 30 minutes after the trial concluded.


"We pleaded not guilty. He only wrote a few essays. We presented a full defence of the case, but we were interrupted often, and none of what we said was accepted by the court," Liang said. Liang said that after the sentence was handed down, Chen said: "I protest, I am innocent. The governance of democracy must win, autocracy must die."

The Guardian

Santa doesn't do poor countries


5 years in prison for being gay

Jonas is 19 years old. Francky is 20. And a judge in Cameroon just sentenced them both to 5 years in prison for being gay.

cameroon gay

Cameroon has several laws that criminalize homosexuality -- at least 10 people have been arrested this year alone. Last July, Jonas and Francky were arrested outside a club on suspicion of violating these discriminatory anti-gay laws.

“Violence against gay people in Cameroon has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels: the situation is quickly becoming a crisis," says human rights attorney Alice Nkom. “The president of Cameroon can put a stop to this and, if he feels enough pressure, he will do so."

Stephane Koche is a Cameroonian LGBT rights activist working with the organization ADEFHO (Association of Defence of Homosexuals) to free Jonas and Francky. Stephane started a petition on Change.org demanding that Cameroonian president Paul Biya free Jonas and Francky immediately. Please sign Stephane's petition today.

ilga.org - also see: writingrights.org

22 Dec 2011


SEED website

Death and Disappearance Still Stalk Libya

People are vanishing in broad daylight in Libya, as the country’s new rulers continue to settle accounts with their opponents. Widespread insecurity means the families of the kidnapped can do no more than hope that their loved ones are still alive.

­Libya’s conflict is over, and the man who stood in the way of Western-style democracy is dead. Yet atrocities against Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists continue. The images emerging from Libya are disturbing.

Against this distressing background, Russia is demanding a probe into civilian casualties in Libya caused by NATO bombings. That's Moscow’s reaction to a report by human rights groups which claims dozens were killed in air strikes – despite the alliance saying its operation was almost flawless.


North Koreans will 'die from malnutrition within months'

Humanitarian groups fear that the death of Kim Jong-il could worsen North Korea's dire food situation, after the US postponed a decision on potential aid. The country has relied on foreign supplies since the devastating famine of the mid-90s killed hundreds of thousands of people. But the World Food Programme (WFP) and NGOs have warned that the situation is particularly bleak this year.

north korea

Aid groups warned that North Koreans would die from malnutrition within months unless donations increased. The WFP launched an emergency programme in April, but has received less than a third of the funding it needs. "We are concerned. Time is of the essence," said Ken Isaacs of Samaritan's Purse, a US-based NGO that helped to distribute the last American food aid in North Korea, almost three years ago.

David Austin of Mercy Corps, who visited flood-hit regions in September, warned: "The longer you delay this decision, the more suffering there's going to be." He said it would take six weeks to three months to set up new deliveries, and warned that based on current conditions, people's food rations would be cut "quite substantially" by April. "As that goes on and on, you'll see the effects of stunting in people's growth and their development. You'll see children dying," he said.

The Guardian

South Sudanese 'press-ganged' by rebels in Khartoum

Young South Sudanese men living in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, are being forcibly conscripted by militia groups, numerous sources have told the BBC. It is alleged they are forced to fight for rebels in South Sudan, which split from the north in July.


South Sudan's information minister believes Khartoum is directing the rebel groups and the kidnappings. A senior official in Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's party told the BBC the accusation was "nonsense". It is feared the alleged abductions will worsen the already fragile relationship between the two countries.

According to South Sudanese community leaders, church workers in Khartoum and politicians in South Sudan, men have been snatched from universities, the streets and even their homes by armed gangs. "The attitude of recruiting South Sudanese university students into the military by the Khartoum regime is an irresponsible exercise," South Sudan's Minister of Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin has said.

BBC News

21 Dec 2011


Bob Marley - Natty Dread 1974:

“It takes a revolution (revolution) to make a solution;
Too much confusion (aaa-aaah), so much frustration, eh!
I don't wanna live in the park (live in the park);
Can't trust no shadows after dark (shadows after dark), yeah-eh!
So, my friend, I wish that you could see,
Like a bird in the tree, the prisoners must be free, yeah! (free)
Never make a politician (aaa-aaah) grant you a favour;
They will always want (aaa-aaah) to control you forever, eh!
(forever, forever)”

Homeless People Are Dying 30 Years Before Average Person

Homeless people can expect to die 30 years before the average person, new British research has found. A study showed that homeless men are dying at an average of 47 years old and homeless women at 43 years old. This is in stark contrast to the average age of death for the general population - which is 77.


The research, carried out by Sheffield University on behalf of homelessness charity Crisis, found that drug and alcohol abuse counts for just over a third of all deaths among homeless people. Suicide is also nine times more likely among people living rough than the general population. Meanwhile, it found that deaths as a result of traffic accidents are three times as likely, infections twice as common and that falls are more than three times as likely to result in death.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: "It is shocking, but not surprising, that homeless people are dying much younger than the general population. "Life on the streets is harsh and the stress of being homeless is clearly taking its toll. Ultimately, it shows that homelessness is killing people."

Sky News

Egyptian women protest in Cairo against brutal treatment

Hundreds of women have taken to the streets of Cairo to protest against military rule and the brutal treatment of female protesters by Egypt's security services. The women rallied outside a government office complex in Tahrir Square, the scene of violent clashes earlier on Tuesday in which at least four demonstrators were shot dead by military police. Dozens of men joined the demonstration out of sympathy with the women. They acted as a protective cordon and chanted: "Egyptian women are a red line."

The protest came after soldiers made another violent attempt to evict demonstrators camped in the square, during the fifth day of bloody confrontation between the military and opponents of army rule.

blue bra girl

It also followed condemnation of the treatment of female activists in Egypt by Hillary Clinton. The US secretary of state said she was appalled by the treatment being meted out to female protesters – particularly by a photo showing a young woman, stripped to her bra and jeans, being kicked and dragged along the ground by two police officers. "This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people," Clinton said. She added: "Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago."

More on The Guardian

20 Dec 2011

John Pilger answers Obama's claim that US military is "finest fighting force in history"

Announcing the Iraq war was ended, Barack Obama told US troops on 14 December 2011, "The United States military is the finest fighting force in the history of the world." What he didn't say is that since 1945 the US military has been directly responsible for the deaths of over 10 million people and that America has in that time overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, and intervened in at least 30 more. John Pilger has something to say about that.

Prosecutors claim Bradley Manning wanted to remove 'the fog of war'

US army prosecutors claim to have found email correspondence between alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website. Manning is said to have expressed hope in an email to Assange that publishing a file of hundreds of thousands of classified reports on Iraq and Afghanistan would prove "one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare".


Prosecutors made the allegation on the fourth day of a hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on whether the suspect will face a court-martial for alleging leaking thousands of classified documents while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. The email is said to have been discovered on a memory card found in the soldier's belongings after they were shipped back to his aunt's house. It contained 400,000 records of "significant activities" from Iraq and 91,000 from Afghanistan.

The Guardian - The Telegraph - Bradley Manning Support Network


From a period of increasing corruption and instability that lasted until 1970, when Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk was deposed by dictator Lon Nol, to the domination of the capital Phnom Penh by the revolutionary movement Khmer Rouge in 1975, situation in the country has developed to brutal social restructurings and civil war.
Aiming to transform Cambodia into an agrarian cooperative, the Khmer Rouge, under Pol Pot's leadership, forced the entire population of the capital and provincial towns – including the sick, elderly and infirm – to march out to the countryside and undertake forced labor for 12 to 15 hours a day. Tortures, humiliations, isolation and starvation of the people during the regime challenge the limits of imagination. Leaders, intellectuals, executives and those who opposed the movement were systematically killed. The massacre – which lasted until 1979, when the Vietnamese invasion forced the Khmer Rouge to leave Phnom Penh – resulted in the execution of approximately 2 million people.
The implications of this atrocity still exist today and will continue to impact the country for a long time to come. The segment of the population necessary for the carrying forward of the society and development of Cambodia was wiped out leaving the country to illiterates and less educated people to take over after the Khmer Rouge era.


Democracy US-style

Father Nathan Monk tells the City Council, "We have the right to redress our government without fear of being arrested," and is nearly arrested. Read the article

19 Dec 2011

Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, dies

Kim Jong-il, the "dear leader" still venerated by many in North Korea but reviled abroad, has died aged 69, state media announced on Monday morning. The official KCNA news agency described his young son and heir apparent as "the great successor", urging the nation, people and military to rally behind and "faithfully revere" Kim Jong-un.

Experts say there is increasing domestic cynicism about the regime, which has proved incapable of meeting basic economic needs while exerting rigid control. Collective punishment has left an estimated 200,000 people in prison camps and last year the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea described the country's situation as "sui generis", adding: "Simply put, there are many instances of human rights violations which are both harrowing and horrific."

But people in the streets of Pyongyang burst into tears (video) as they learnt of Kim's death, Associated Press reported. At a North Korean restaurant in Beijing, staff wept hysterically when told what had happened.

The Guardian

Now he can’t look at things anymore… kim jong-il looking at things

US CEO pay jumps 36.5%

Who says American salaries are stagnating.
After two years of lower pay packages, chief executives at the nation's major companies enjoyed a 36.5% jump in pay last year, according to a leading survey of CEO compensation.


The average pay hike is for the top executive at each of the Standard & Poor 500 companies, according to GMI, the research group formerly known as the Corporate Library. A broader survey of CEO pay at 3,000 companies posted an average 27% increase.

Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at GMI, said the sharp rise in pay was out of line with the relatively modest improvement that companies typically achieved in profits or share price during 2010.
The most lucrative sector for CEO pay was health care.


David Cameron Criticised By Richard Dawkins For Comments To Clergy On Christianity

Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised by leading atheist author Richard Dawkins for suggesting that a revival of traditional Christian values could counteract Britain's "moral collapse". Mr Cameron told senior Church of England clergy that a belief in "live and let live" had too often become "do what you please".

This "passive tolerance" of immoral behaviour had helped fuel the summer's riots, City excess, MPs' abuse of expenses and Islamic terrorism, he said at an event to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

But the remarks were dismissed by Professor Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion, who said the Bible was good literature but an "appalling moral compass".

Sky News

18 Dec 2011

Meanwhile in Egypt

Czech Dissident And Former President Vaclav Havel Died

Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic's first post-communist president, has died. He was 75-years-old. According to his assistant Sabina Dancecova, the playwright, who was a leading member of the country's dissident movement, passed away on Sunday morning following a long bout of ill heath.

Vaclav Havel

The hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which saw non-violent protests topple the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, died at his house in the north of the country.

During the 1960's, Havel became increasingly interested in politics, using theatre to critique the regime. Following the collapse of the soviet system and the end of the Cold War, Havel spent 13 years in power, overseeing the country's often bumpy transition from Stalinism to capitalism. He left power during the country's peacefully split in 1993, but returned following the consequent birth of the Czech Republic.

Huffington Post

Unreal Faces and Bodies

Of all the things to criticize about women’s magazines and fashion advertising, nothing is more universally reviled than the airbrush. The world of the digital photo retoucher is that of a beauty-standard Frankenstein: normal-sized women are made to look wan and waifish, older women are remade into ageless nymphs, limbs are lengthened, breasts are enlarged, skin is whitened.


Men aren’t exempt, either: wrinkles are massaged out, guts and love handles whisked away. Even those we perceive to be nigh-perfect are often altered to be ridiculous, obviously fake, and robotic. But as it becomes more prevalent, and more people are interested in tracking it — whether for feminist or tabloid purposes — is it possible that the era of the obscenely Photoshopped image could be reaching an end?

More on AlterNet

17 Dec 2011

State of emergency after Kazakhstan clashes

The Kazakh president has declared a state of emergency and curfew in western oil city of Zhanaozen. Violence erupted on Friday as hundreds of angry oil workers went on the rampage and clashed with police in Zhanaozen, a town in the Mangistau region of west Kazakhstan, where a ceremony was being held to mark the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence.


The presidential decree bans strikes and public protests, restricts freedom of movement around Zhanaozen and limits access to and from the city for 20 days. Reuters reported.

An independent source in Astana put the death count as high as 70, with more than 500 wounded, when police fired on protesters. The violence is a setback for Nursultan Nazarbayev, the authoritarian president of Kazakhstan, who hosted lavish independence day celebrations in Astana this week to burnish his country’s image as a global oil power and safe destination for foreign investment. Analysts said the unrest was likely to bring a security crackdown in Kazakhstan which is preparing to hold a parliamentary election next month.


Falsely humanized Muslims in America

Last week Lowe’s Home Improvement pulled its ads from the TLC show All-American Muslim in response to an organization claiming the show "falsely humanized Muslims in America.” The Lowe’s controversy has exposed more Islamophobia in America. This issue falls directly in line with what the My Fellow American project is trying to prevent and overcome in America.

All American Muslim

This week, whether intentionally or not, Kayak.com followed the poor example set by Lowe's, when it, too, decided to pull future advertising from the TLC program "All-American Muslim." Of course advertisers have the right to decide where they run their ads, but it is disappointing to see a company feed into the fear mongering facing the American Muslim community.

No company can argue it is not taking a political stand when it yanks advertising from a TV program because of the religion of the people portrayed on the show and the unfortunate and unnecessary political controversies surrounding them. Kayak.com's decision to cease running ads on TLC during broadcasts of "All-American Muslim" is evidence not only that the travel website's leadership would rather sacrifice publicity and potential sales than risk being seen as supportive of a certain segment of the American population, but more importantly, that it sends a message that it may not respect the diversity of faiths that define and enrich our country, despite what Kayak officials might say to the contrary.

Huffington Post - My Fellow American

Rabbi Jack Bemporad and Sheik Yasir Qadhi On Lowe's and Islamophobia

Bradley Manning hearing: defence lawyer turns fire on military accusers

Eighteen months after his arrest in Iraq for allegedly orchestrating the largest leak of state secrets in American history, Bradley Manning has faced his military accusers for the first time, immediately turning the guns against them.


At the start of a preliminary hearing to establish whether the US soldier should face a full court martial for allegedly passing more than 250,000 US embassy cables to WikiLeaks, Manning issued a dramatic challenge to the investigating officer – the military equivalent to a judge – implying that the proceedings were biased and effectively rigged against him.

His lawyer, David Coombs, demanded that the investigating officer, Lt Colonel Paul Almanza, recuse himself from the case on the grounds that he works as a prosecutor for the US department of justice. The DoJ is involved in a criminal pursuit of Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, to which Manning is alleged to have transferred a huge trove of US embassy cables and other confidential materials.

At the end of a day of stuttering proceedings in which the court spent more time in recess than in active session, Almanza ruled that he would not remove himself from the case and that proceedings would continue on Saturday, Manning's 24th birthday. Almanza said that under the rules of military justice, a "reasonable person" would not conclude that he was incapable of conducting an impartial investigation into the charges against Manning.

The Guardian

Bradley Manning Support Network. Aims to help the US Army private who stands accused of leaking the "Collateral Murder" video to Wikileaks. Bradley Manning Trial In Depth on BradleyManning.org