During the last 24 hours there have been various reports of attacks on Syria
launched by Israel.
The latest Saturday is that Israel has admitted attacking a site believed to house advanced missiles in Syria. Israeli officials claim that the weapons were "game changing ones" destined for Hezbollah in the Lebanon.Earlier this week
US President Obama went on record to say that any sign of chemical weapons being used in Syria would be a "game changer". They could lead the USA to direct intervention in Syria which as we are all well aware could easily escalate into a global conflict. Certainly the UK would be in there with the Americans, as where they go we follow like lambs to the slaughter. We have surely paid back any World War Two debt by now?Why Israel are choosing to act now is debatable. Are they acting independently or on behalf of the USA? Is it a way for the US to become involved and sell another conflict to its citizens? Are the Israelis purely acting out of a perceived need to defend their lands from what they view as an Arab threat?
There are many questions and few honest answers.President Obama made a surprise visit to the region, including Israel, as April drew to a close. What was said behind closed doors we wonder? Said face to face so that no prying eyes could see nor ears hear?Reports of Friday's attack vary with some reports still claiming that checial weapons were involved. The Telegrpah reports that "
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that Israel
would be prepared to take military action if chemical weapons or other arms were to reach Hezbollah". Of course as far as we are aware they have not reached Hezbollah but were merely suspected of heading out that way.Opinion:Once again America and Israel play the hypocritical game. Both countries have huge arsenals with a range of destructive weapons. Pre-emptive strikes by Israel will be largely ignored by the west but condemned or even lead to military action if launched by a country such as Syria or Russia.
The USA arms Israel to the teeth choosing to class this as a defensive measure. Now that Israel is taking the initiative and launching pre-emptive attacks will America withdraw its weaponery from Israel? Of course not.The whole region which includes Israel and Syris is set to implode or explode. We in the West can pat ourselves on the back and take some responsibility for that. Attempting to bring our politicis to tribal areas, assuming that our ways are always the best, was bound to end in tears. Countries such as Libya are on the brink of civil war, courtesy of western involvement in the Arab Spring.Perhaps we should have let the Arab Spring, a civil war, remain in house. Perhaps we should have done the same with Syria
but we have already overstepped that mark.Sources showing different views of Israel and its attacks follow:The TelegraphAl JazeeraThe American Spectator
2013 is turning out to be an argumentative year on the world stage. International conflicts and disagreement is widespread, economies are shot to pieces, regime leaders such as North Korea's Kim Jong-un are running riot and in the thick of most disputes is America.Saturday there are reports that following
an American ban on visas for some Russians the administration in Russia has reciprocated. !8 prominent Americans have been banned with the reason form some blamed on Guantanamo Bay and its human rights breeches. As the Guardian
On Friday, the US Treasury announced financial sanctions and visa bans on 18 Russian officials, the majority of whom were implicated over the arrest and death of the corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009, after being arrested by the same officers he was investigating over a $230m fraud. He was reportedly beaten and denied medical treatment while behind bars.
The case sparked an outcry in the US and led to the passage of a controversial bill requiring Washington to impose sanctions against those deemed responsible for the Russian whistleblower's death. The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law last year, led to immediate counter measures by Moscow, which imposed a ban on US adoption of Russian children.
Futrther on the report says .Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was quoted Saturday as saying that the two countries' lists differed in fundamental aspects. "On the Russian list, including the closed part, are people actually responsible for the legalisation of torture and indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo, for arrests and unjust sentences for our countrymen," he reportedly said.
US President Obama claims he wants to restore good relations with the Russian authorities but the move has done anythng but. This is no doubt another complicated affair with blame on both sides. American hypocrisy is blatant and these days does not go unnoticed. Full report here at the Guardian
The latest news from Cyprus is that those investors with more than 100,000 euros in accounts will take a 40% hit. A so-called "haircut" of their savings, in the form of a one-off tax, will snatch a large chunk of their money and in return the investors will receive shares in the bank. Worthless shares at this time and probably in the future. Banks on Cyprus remain closed till at least Thursday as E.U. thieves iron out the final details of the financial bail-out. Cypriots will pay a huge price for the incompetence of others.OpinionMost sensible people in Europe have known for some time the E.U. is finished. How to wind it down is now the problem. Members of the new world order, the elite in society, want to protect their own assets and have a vested interest in dragging the death of the E.U. out for as long as possible. President Obama in the U.S., and American politicans, want the joke shop E.U. to continue but it should not be down to people across the Pond who do live in Europe to decide its fate.Perhaps someone should have heeded a few tried and tested adages during the early days of the European Community. Ones such as: do not put all of your eggs in one basket, too many cooks spoil the broth and beware of Greek's bearing gifts.The last one may sound a low blow but it has to be said. However Cypriots are being asked to pay too big a price for financial mismangement by others. Why is Cyprus a special case? The E.U. has thrown good money after bad at Greece with less strings attached.E.U. leaders in Brussels, Chancellor Merkel in Germany and I.M.F
., chiefs will have seen this one coming for some time. Surely in a so-called community we should be looking after our neighbours, offering precautionary advice and more. Instead it seems in this case we wanted the people of Cyprus to act as lemmings, diving off a cliff to certain death.A community? Don't make me laugh, it is every man, woman and child for themselves, and set to get worse.Related reading: Cyprus bank deal is theft says Kremlin
Are you one of those people that believe the Banking crisis in Cyprus is no big-deal? Cyprus may be a small island but it has a place in the European Union. As such the domino effect is liable to kick in. EU countries are heavily dependent on each other in the 21st Century and if you choose the ostrich approach, sticking your head in the sand until the crisis is over, you could get caught out. Stock markets soon tumble and the value of your currency can easily plummet.For the people of Cyrpus, who was to blame for the crisis is a side issue. Yes if there is blame then those responsible should be held to account. However, one way or another the people of Cyrpus will have to fund this crisis.Maybe you think the people should have accepted the government raid on their bank accounts. A one off tax to help the bail-out. Put yourself in the shows of Cypriots though and you will soon change your mind. The one-off tax would not be the only measure. Austerity measures must follow.The unfairness of the one-off tax though, imposed for the first time, is hard to escape. How come Greece, Portugal, Spain, Northern Ireland and Italy had no such tax?The idea of the tax is grounded, at least for now, thanks to people power.
That does not mean it is gone forever. In the UK there is some government protection over a limited amount of money held in bank accounts. However, before you smile smugly and thank your lucky stars you are in the UK remember governments can easily and quickly change legislation.Certainly the west is trying to instil confidence in economies and banking sectors. Germany is often seen as the villain of the piece. You may say well Merkel has to look after her own, and that is we agree the right thing to do. However, when one leader wields such power it is open to abuse. Let's face it if she spearheads a knock in confidence in banks the UK will be hit harder than Germany. Britain relies heavily on its commerce howver m
ost people in the UK no longer trust banks and bankers. Bank has become a true four-letter word.That said only this week, amidst the Cyrprus banking crisis
, there were reports of banking greed. Nine fatcats, reported the Daily Mirror,
including Braclays boss Rich Ricci pocketed a windfall in shares worth £44mil. Fatcat Ricci pocketed £18mil alone. As the Guardian
reports, Ricci's bonus is worth 656 times the average UK salary, and remember many people live on much less than the average. Yes, and he immediately cashed the shares in, protecting his back if a UK banking crisis hits home. A year ago, as profits at the bank dived, the former banking boss Bob Diamond refused to discuss his share package with the BBC.
It was around the £3mil mark.News of this year's bonus payments, or should that be theft from the bank's customers, was announced on Budget day in the UK. Although Barclays hoped to bury the news it still made shocking headlines.So as one bank looks set to crumble, another continues to pay obscene bonus payments.
The banks lackeys, the coalition government will do nothing to intervene. This same government will stop at nothing though to rob the vulnerable in the UK of paltry sums of money. They continue to sell government pain to others, reaching out to people's greedy streaks, which we all have at times. Voters need to look beyond vague help to buy schemes which may never come to fruition. Last year George's budget promises to the UK failed to materialise in many cases.So back to CyprusIf you have ever visited Cyprus you will know that Cypriots are warm-hearted people, or rather they were. This crisis will have hit the country hard. Friday
PM Christos Stylianides told reporters in Nicosia " any solution involves pain" without giving details. Perhaps bankers bonuses should go into a global pot for such eventualities. Of course we all know that without a huge incentive bankers cannot work properly. UK PM Cameron said as much when he defended bionus payments.Most workers do their best because it is their job, without added bonuses.
If the bankers deserve these bonuses through hard work how come the banks are floundering?The BBC has the latest news on the Cyprus banking crisis.
If the banks do not receive a bail out they will not reopen. If and when they reopen expect a run on the banks. Would you act differently? That will worsen the crisis. Cyrpus has reached out to Russia for help, much to the anger of Germany and Merkel. With a huge number of Russian investors in Cyrus banks, can you blame them? As they say, any port in a storm.On This Week, in the UK the Cyrpus banking crisis was likened to the assassination that led to World War One. A failry unknown man in a small place but it rocked the world. Although most do not see Cyrpus initiating a global war the criris will have far reaching implications. On the island of Cyprus today the PM is in talk with representatives of the
"troika", which is made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank
(ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to the BBC
"Russia gave Cyprus an emergency loan
of 2.5bn euros in 2011. Mr Siluanov said that no new Russian loan had been on the table with Mr Sarris because of limits imposed by the EU on Cypriot borrowing". Yes the EU wants to be in control of this one.Updates to follow in due course.............Related reading:EU may not find a solution
The news that Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez had died aged 58 rocked his nation. The outpouring of grief this week is genuine even without comparing it to the pathetic attempts at grief in North Korea, after Kim Jong-Un's father died in 2011.
Chavez rose from poverty to become the most powerful person in Venezuela and one feared by some in the west, notably the USA.
Now that he has died Venezuelans who left the country due to the Chavez take-over set their eyes on their homeland. Many of them cheered the death of Chavez which was a sorry sight to see. Those ousted from Venezuela would have included the corrupt, as in the Cuban revolution. Those people making fortunes on the back of the poor. There will have been innocent casualties too, of course.
The US is sneakily casting side-long glances at the south American country also. Surely the US is interfering in enough countries abroad already? With involvement in, interests in or sanctions against Mali, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Cuba and North Korea little wonder that the USA has an economic downturn. In truth the USA is wasting money as if it was going out of business, which of course has a ring of truth. Paper money is becoming worthless.
Look online to read a little about the death of Chavez, his life, his rule and his country and it is easy to spot the left, the right and the American.
Once again US hypocrisy is ironic. If it was not so sad it would be hilarious. The USA has shown in the 21st Century that it is happy to suck up to and support any revolutions and rebels that meet with their approval. Revolutionaries in Libya, Egypt and now Syria are being re-classified as official leaders of countries, whether the people want them or not.
On a basic level the US is acting as a busybody nation but on higher level they are attempting to manipulate world events and people for their own ends.
It strikes this writer as both odd and sad that a once great nation, the USA, wants to embrace rebels, such as those in Syria and Libya, but lets old wounds is South American countries, such as Cuba and Venezuela, fester away.
The US sanctions against Cuba have lasted for half a century or more. Respect to that country, its leaders and its people that they have managed to ride out these damaging sanctions.
The US stance on Venezuela, Cuba, Castro and Chavez is all about people power and communism. Capitalist North America still runs scared of the C word. For most of us the C word means cancer and it is fair to say that is how the US views communism.
We all learned years ago that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We learned that from a famous commie. We also learned years ago that Communism does not work as mankind's failings and greed usually defeat the object sooner or later.
Hugo Chavez' regime had tightened its grip on the people of Venezuela in recent years but he still had the support of his people. How many western leaders can claim to have as much support?
The US has supported a brutal regime in Colombia and is happy to do with business with that regime. What was so different about Chavez? Of yes he was a commie.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil is heading into Gaza today. It is to be hoped that he is not acting as a puppet of the West. With the USA, and the UK following suit in parrot fashion style, support for Israel risks involving countries in yet another war. Countries such as Syria, Iran, Russia and Egypt are likely to support the Palestinians.
The EU announced a huge financial helping hand to Egypt earlier this week which could be seen as a pay off of sorts. The new Egyptian leaders are being supported by Washington which puts them in danger of being seen as simply a tool of the West much like the ousted President Mubarek.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahou has announced a cease fire for three hours whilst the Egyptian PM is in Gaza. Israel is still sabre rattling though this time with words. Hamas has also spoken but it is still talking of revenge. Last night Israel launched more than 150 missiles on Gaza. Hamas may have been attacking Israel throughout the year but that is a huge amount for a relatively small area and short space of time.
Yes civilians have been hit in Israel but they have in Gaza. At one time the Arabs of Gaza lived under siege by Israel for three years. If you listen to some knowledegable people on both sides there is always a marked difference in their approach. Israels rarely give any credit to the Palestinians or accept that there are two sides to any such conflict.
The media today are reporting on the three hour cease fire either saying that Prime Minister Kandil is showing support for Hamas or that he is trying to broker a ceasefire. We wonder if it is possible to do both? Probably not.
Phone lines between London and Washington, Washington and Israel and more will have been on fire late into last night. It is in all our interests that War is averted. That should not be at the expense of either the Israelis nor the Palestinian people. Both deserve the right to exist and to live in peace.
Reuters has reported that in the last two days, "Israeli air strikes have killed 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning." Israel were the first to attack when they assassinated a Hamas militant leader. They did not stop there though and went on to bomb areas of Gaza killing civilians.
Across many countries of Europe today coordinated protests have took place. Economic gloom and doom is depressing economies and populations. A lack of real jobs, homelessness and a future of austerity is what these people are facing. For the young generation they are facing years of poverty. For the older generation their final years will be far from comfortable.The Elite will be cushioned from the worst of this.
They always are. The effect on them will be limited. The great divide between those at either end of the economic spectrum continues to grow.Protests have taken place in Portugal
, Greece, Spain and Italy with reports of planned rallies in Germany, Belgium and the UK. As night fell the crowds in Spain swelled. Inevitably violence has erupted. Protests in Portugal were less volatile, perhaps partly due to the response of the authorities but eventually tempers frayed.Barricades were put in place and fires have burned. In Italy six police officers were injured. There are reports that one officer was beaten with a stick and baseball bats by around 20 men.
In Spain rubber bullets were fired by the police and arrests followed. So much for the laughable Nobel Peace Prize award 2012 to the EU
.Spain is facing a huge challenge. So are other countries but Spain is the latest EU country to begin to sink into economic oblivion. This week we have seen reports of one woman committing suicide as she was about to be evicted from her home in Spain.
She is not the first such suicide. She is not the first eviction either of course. Spanish banks have strict policies which have led to many, many evictions. Homelessness is on the increase. It is winter in Spain and the weather will not be conducive to street living. It never really is.The message which the protesters of Europe want to send to leaders is that enough is enough. They have been bled dry. Whilst many accept that austerity measures may be necessary it is about who experiences the cuts first hand, the speed of budget cuts and the need for a safety net for the most vulnerable of society.It is also a call with one voice that the current system has failed. The banks, the elite and governments
have made the wrong choices. There policies helped bring about the current pain in Europe. So why should more of the same cure the ills of the EU? The answer is it wont.Today November 14 Spanish workers went on strike. A general strike. This has led to the cancellation of flights from the UK to Spain. It will have hit other countries too. This will add to the economic woes of Spain but people are angry. They need to voice their concerns. A strike in Portugal has also hit airports with flights in and out of the country being cancelled.
Public transport has been hit. Protests invariably turn violent and there have been scenes of violence by both the police and the protesters in Spain and Greece. The police who are on duty may still face job cuts and salary cuts. Inevitably this will affect their position during such protests.As the day moved one activists and police clashed. As the economic problems continue to grow more people will no doubt become "activists" The people of Europe are speaking but the question is "who is listening" . Nobody? Someone needs to listen and act accordingly, before it is too late.
Both the UK and the US have been debating the tax returns of government ministers, leaders and election hopefuls. The need appears to have stemmed from some dodgy dealings. It is however also because of the political propaganda machine.
Late last week President Obama made his tax return public amongst allegations that GOP hopeful Mitt Romney had something to hide in his past tax returns. In the UK there have also been calls for more transparency. After a UK Spring budget that attacked pensioners and charities there have been calls for prominent Coalition members to step up to the mark and reveal their tax returns.
The problem for politicians in the UK is that they have been shown to "bend the rules" in the past as far as expenses go. We are getting to the stage when most people in the UK no longer trust politicians at all. The most common phrase heard around the workplace, the pub or where ever is "they are all the same". This understandable attitude will in the long term have a dire effect on UK governments and open the door to extremist groups as the majority of the population opt not to vote.
Speaking on Andrew Marr on the BBC Sunday April 15 Ed Miliband reiterated that he had no problem making his tax returns public. He did however feel that calls for people such as Nick Clegg's wife to make public her tax returns were a step too far.
It seems to this blogger sad that public trust in politicians has sunk so low. Of course they only have themselves to blame but of course as usual the majority will suffer for the few. Tax returns are private. When you complete yours do you make sure that you keep a photocopy to show any person who demands access? No. Should the financial affairs of politicians wives be up for scrutiny too? No.
The trouble of course is the funding of political parties and the abuse of the system by some. In the US it appears that the tax system carries flaws which result in the richest people in society paying a lesser rate of income tax. That has to be wrong. Most right minded people who are wealthy would agree. The greedy of society may not but that is expected.
The recent furore of Peter Cruddas in the UK all but offering policy change for cash proved that our party funding needs to be overhauled. It needs to be done fairly. If the current coalition do it in a way to stack the odds against Labour and other parties then it will simply reinforce most people's perception that they are intrinsically corrupt.
Whilst opposing political parties, on both sides of the Pond, play childish games and search for a political edge the general public move ever further away from faith in them. Groups such as the Occupy Movement may be considered a joke by many but they have the passion needed for change. Perhaps governments ought to consider some of the alternatives that people may trun to in despair such as the BNP, Communism or Fascism.
So do we need to see our politicians tax returns which overall show that they have more money than is necessary and in some cases is obscene? In some cases yes we do. However that is only because over the years they have all proved themselves lacking as far as politics and fairness goes. What we do need is a tightening upmof the system to remove tax loopholes and corruption. Anything less is simply a smokescreen and nothing will change.
Tags: Tax returns, Obama tax rate, Romney tax rate, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg wife, UK political sleaze, politics
Heard the expression, "it's all smoke and mirrors?" Know what it means and its history? No? Well let's see if we can address that.as It could be a phrase that you hear and see a lot these days, as so much that is currently going on around the world is "All smoke and Mirrors"
A strict definition of the phrase is "Trickery or deception, often in a political context"
The phrase however has its origins in Magic. A conjurer on the stage attempting to fool the audience into believing his "trick" would use smoke and mirrors. This would deceive the eye of the beholder and enable the magician to fool the audience. A bit like all politicians around the word do at times.The "trick" would truly appear to be Magic.
In more recent times this phrase has been used to describe politics and, as it is so often called these days, political spin, plus conflicts and war. Whilst this is now common practise it does make it hard to know just what to beleive. Reading a good cross section of reports can help but that is time consuming. Even then so often views are subjective rather than objective.
Into the pot we also need to add the fact that these days foreign agents often infiltrate countries and organisations in order to manipulate what is happening. More smoke and mirrors. A prime example of smoke and mirrors right now is the 2012 US election and possibly Syria. Not that the UK is a stranger to this. Political leaders these days employ spin doctors to weave a web of whatever. Some would say a web of deceit. After all a clear, honest manifesto would be more appropriate but would it prove as useful?
American journalist Jimmy Breslin is generally attirbuted with the modern usage of the phrase. In his "Notes from Impeachment Summer" in 1975 he wrote,
"All political power is primarily an illusion... Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors... If somebody tells you how to look, there can be seen in the smoke great, magnificent shapes, castles and kingdoms, and maybe they can be yours." "The ability to create the illusion of power, to use mirrors and blue smoke, is one found in unusual people." Since then the phrase has been adopted by many.
Today, February 4, 2012, the people of Nevada will vote for their GOP preferred candidate. For many of them they will make their choice based on smoke and mirrors. It will have been the hype and the televised debates which will have had an impact. In truth none of this will enable the voter to know what sort of GOP leader or President the men will make. It does not show a clear manifesto of their believes. It is in effect all smoke and mirrors.
Today Pakistan has closed part of its border with Afghanistan. It has done this in response to an alleged attack by NATO led forces during the early hours of the morning. NATO helicopters are reported to have hit a military checkpoint in a tribal region of Pakistan.
The closing of this border is significant. It is here that supplies are transferred for use by NATO led troops in Afghanistan. The alleged hit killed 26 Pakistani soldiers. NATO has said that it will investigate thoroughly and has offered its condolences. Unbelievable.
Pakistan has in recent months felt the force of the US as drones have killed individuals in that country. As no war has been declared all of this action makes for uncomfortable reading. They may claim that such strikes are preemptive but others will claim that they are inflammatory and aggressive.Pakistan has claimed that this latest attack was both indiscriminate and unprovoked.
The fact that the media are reporting this incident ominously shows that the report has at least a ring of truth.
Gen John R Allen of the ISAF said the incident "has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts. "My most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan Security Forces who may have been killed or injured." For many these will be empty words.Pakistani relations with the US have been low this year, especially after the action which led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. Breaking the rules seems to be classed as acceptable in the West when it suits. However such a belief tends to back fire sooner or later. The countries involved can hardly complain if the situation becomes reversed.For now the allegations are just that. Until an investigation is held accountability will
be missing. If it is proved to be true it will damage US Pakistan relations even further.RIPUPDATES:19.00pm GMT November 26, 2011:
- Pakistan is more than plain old angry with the US. It is quite rightly outraged. Pakistan has now demanded that the US vacate an airfield in Balochistan province within the next 15 days.
- Aljazeera has reported that a NATO spokesperson issued a statement saying,"Close air support was called in, in the development of the tactical situation, and it is what highly likely caused the Pakistan casualties,"
- As relations between the US and Pakistan continue to slide the US Ambassador in Islamabad was summoned to the foreign ministry so that "a strong protest" could be lodged.
- As aljazeera also reported, ""This is an attack on Pakistan's territorial sovereignty," said Masoud Kasur, the governor of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Such cross-border attacks cannot be tolerated any more. The government will take up this matter at the highest level and it will be investigated"".
- NATO have promised an investigation.
- The death toll is now thought to be 24 with at least 13 others injured.
- NATO supply trucks and the like have been turned back at the border since this latest attack
World Wars have been started over less. The US may feel that it has the upper hand due to its strength but that is simply bully boy tactics. Opinion: The world has gone mad.