Friday, January 23, 2015

Titan rants and raves as usual

Mountains and Valleys on Titan with methane snow -180C Cassini image
Titan is back and is marching into the terrestrial northern hemisphere winter with a smile. His surface temperatures in winter or summer are in a totally different league.


For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

CHARITY CORNER 

This week Titan refers you to United against Genocide. In the wake of what is happening around the world, Titan thinks that this charity, which has a high rating from Charity Watch, is most worthy of your support. It started out as Save Darfur, but since has expanded worldwide. We quote its mission statement:
"United to End Genocide is dedicated to preventing and ending genocide and mass atrocities worldwide by building a powerful, lasting movement of community activists, faith leaders, students, artists, investors and genocide survivors, and all those who believe we must fulfill the promise the world made following the Holocaust: “Never Again!”"  Please help out.
Act Now for Peace, Security and Accountability in Sudan
Refugee camp in Darfur


We, of course, always do our charity donations for the right reasons..
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Jan/14/2015

CARTOONISTS RESPOND TO THE PARIS ATTACKS


The attack on Charlie Hebdo sent shock waves everywhere, not least to the community of cartoonists around the world. A satirical cartoonist has to take risks and his satire has to bite and indeed offend if it is to convey a message. Even if Charlie Hebdo crossed the line of good taste, it had every right to do so and any individual offended could go to the courts for redress. Certainly a Kalachnikov is not the proper means of response. Titan also takes issue with the Pope. There is no reason to give religion and religious institutions a free pass. Yes, we can regard satire about religion as vulgar and tasteless, but it is worth tolerating it in order to avoid the slippery slope of censorship. which can start with protection of religion and end up with full repression of freedom of speech. As the Jewish Forward puts it in an editorial, even if the content of Charlie Hebdo is "Awful. Offensive. Unfair. Even, perhaps, dangerous. And all we can and should do is swallow hard and accept that this is the steep but worthy price of allowing free speech in an open society." Indeed Fox News falsely maligned the city of Paris and the mayor threatens to sue. She will have little chance of prevailing since municipalities in the US cannot sue even if the allegations are false. The US Supreme Court ruled thus in 1964 in the  case, New York Times v. Sullivan. Justice William Brennan Jr. wrote that the court had to protect “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” public discussion, even if some of what was said was demonstrably wrong. “Erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate,” Justice Brennan suggested, and so “must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the breathing space that they need to survive.”
Titan agrees since the slope of censorship is indeed slippery. In Israel there is a draconian law, fortunately seldom enforced, criminalizing the act of "insulting a public servant," which is or course most antidemocratic. Now a social activist is being prosecuted under this law for unloading on a police officer on Facebook. Yes, better to allow tasteless, vulgar and even false discourse than to open the door to censorship by thin-skinned politicians and other functionaries with power.At the moment a satire series is running on state television in Israel in which the events and characters described in the Bible along with other events from Jewish history are parodied and ridiculed mercilessly. So far no one has been lynched. Those who know Hebrew are invited to see some of the episodes on youtube, where they are kept for 30 days after broadcast. The hilarious question and answer session that Moses conducted when he brought down the tablets with the Ten Commandments is as irreverent as can be. We also recall a comedy film The Pope Must Die in which the corruption in the Vatican is portrayed with gusto. It would be nice if Muslims and North Koreans would develop a sense of humor and some humility. Signe Wildenson uses a cartoon to get the point across.


Signe Wilkinson Cartoon for Jan/18/2015

TITAN RANTS ABOUT TIBET AND ARGENTINA 

In the final week of the year, three Tibetans burned themselves alive to protest China’s 56-year-long occupation of Tibet. This was the most concentrated burst of self-immolations in almost two years The brutality of the Chinese occupation and the total frustration of the younger generation of Tibetans, who no longer believe that the restraint policy of the Dalai Lama can do anything for them, have led to these acts of desperation.  It is alleged by the Tibetan Government in Exile that as many as 1.2 million Tibetans have died from Chinese actions. While this figure may be disputed, the truth is that Chinese rule has caused great distress to the Tibetan people and the influx of Han Chinese has made them a minority in their own country. To add further insult, Facebook refuses to allow graphic data on immolations to appear on its sites. We show you such an event (warning shocking graphic)


While Facebook claims to "be Charlie" its hypocrisy is apparent in its cozy relationship with the censors of China.

Something is indeed rotten in the state of Argentina and has been so for over two decades. In 1994, a suicide car bomber blew up the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and killed 85 people. The perpetrators, Hezbollah with Iranian backing, have never been brought to justice and the Argentinean government has been colluding with Iran to maintain a coverup. The investigation was starting finally to move under the leadership of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Now he is dead, found shot with a pistol alongside his body. He had filed a criminal complaint that that top Argentine officials, including President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had conspired with Iran to cover up responsibility for the bombing as part of a deal that would supply Iranian oil to Argentina. He died one day before he was scheduled to testify and it is broadly believed that the government had something to do with his death. The Argentinean Jewish community is up in arms and rightly so.
 
Titan strongly suspects that powerful interests will prevent the original crime from ever being elucidated.

OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADERS OF THE WORLD 

Two critical United Nations summits will take place this year. The first will be in September, when  the world must agree on new goals to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a more sustainable planet. The second is the climate summit in December where we must ensure that the well being of people today does not come at the expense of our children's futures.
Malala Yousafzai. (photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)
Malala Yousafzai. (photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)
A large group of celebrity activists, such as Malala Yousafzai, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others have written an open letter to the world leadership with copies to all of us. Titan hopes that someone will listen.

KING, HESCHEL AND A MOVIE 

This month we are marking the Yahrzeit (death anniversary) of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1973) and the birthday of Martin Luther King (1928-1968). Their lives were linked by their common commitment to human rights and human values. They marched together at Selma AL in 1965.

Heschel, second from right, King, fourth from right
Now a film has been made of the struggle of King for civil rights during that period. The film entitled "Selma" did not, for whatever reasons, get an Academy Award nomination and allegations of racism have been made. We hope to see the film when it is released for us. We link you to a review in Variety.


Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Jan/16/2015

THE POPE AGAIN MAKES SENSE 

Pope Francis has come out clearly on the side of responsible reproduction, while still supporting the traditional position on contraception. He says that people should be responsible in their family life and that "Catholics do not have to breed like rabbits."  Now we are told that he has clarified the comment on rabbits, presumably to avoid giving offense. 

A CRIMINAL GOES TO FACE JUSTICE 

Warrant for his arrest issued in 2005
Top Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen is being flown to The Hague to stand trial on war crimes charges.  We are all for it. We hope his boss Kony is found soon. We also note that both Uganda and the US, both of which are not supportive of the ICC, arranged this transfer.

PYRAMUS AND THISBE IN THE SAFARI PARK 

In the Safari Park in Ramat Gan, Israel there is a female porcupine, known to her friends as Dorit, who was orphaned as a young cub and adopted by the park. She has lived quietly with her friends the owls in an enclosure for the last eight years.
Heartthrob Dorit, the Ramat Gan Safari zoo's porcupine, who is still in her enclosure with her friends the owls. Photo by Tibor Jaeger
Now, Ruth Schuster, in Haaretz, tells us that Dorit has a suitor who comes at night and was discovered by his feces left behind (Thanks to Richard for calling this to our attention). The story contains a video of this Pyramus longing outside the fence, while Phisbe/Dorit languishes within. BTW, in Florida there is a law against having sex with a porcupine and a few Russian tourists found out the reason for the law the hard way. Poor souls, although it is hard to be sympathetic to idiots.

HOME SWEET HOME


TERROR ON A BUS 

A 22 year old Palestinian boarded a bus in Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour, armed with a knife, and began to attack the passengers, starting with the driver. The driver bravely resisted, but despite his efforts 13 people were injured, four of them seriously.

The attacker was apprehended by security people who happened to be nearby, as described in the linked article. This senseless act of terror and cruelty will do nothing to advance the cause of the people of Palestine nor will it do anything in Israel except possibly strengthen the arguments of those who claim that peace is not attainable and that only an iron hand over the Palestinian population can give us any hope of security. The celebration of the attack by Hamas (expected) and Fatah (who should know better) along with the silence of Abbas plays further into the hands of the right. Zahava Gal-on of Meretz, while strongly condemning the act,  says correctly that the way to deal with terror is to address the causes of the desperation that drives the terrorist. This is true both in Tel Aviv and in Paris.

ELECTIONS AND DRONE STRIKES

There  was a drone strike on Sunday in Syria that hit a convoy carrying Jihad Mugniyeh and commander Mohamad Issa, known as Abu Issa, in the province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing six Hezbollah members in all, a Hezbollah statement said. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Mohammed Allahdadi was also killed. UN observers report that the drones came from Israel. It is not really clear to anyone what purpose  was achieved by raising tensions on the northern border. Haaretz strongly suspects that this is related to the poor state of the government parties in the forthcoming elections. There is no way to prove this, but Titan shares the suspicion, since military actions before elections are a time-honored or dishonored ploy of Israeli governments down through the years.

CORRUPTION SCANDALS 


The press has been ringing during the past few weeks with the revelations of the depth of corruption in the government and public institutions. Last month a scandal hit the Israel Beiteinu party of our Foreign Minister Lieberman who certainly has PM ambitions. The focus was on corrupt cronyism that worked via appointing people from the party to positions that entailed control over large sums of money that came from the government but were essentially undocumented. The person at the center of all this is Ms Faina Kirschenbaum, the Deputy Minister of the Interior. Titan discussed this in general terms in his last blog. Now much more has come out.
(Photo: Erez Biton, Aviel Uzi)
Photo: Erez Biton, Aviel Uzi)
The latest blast is the raids on the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization that has been channeling public funds into West Bank settlements and various associations connected with them. The budget of this body has magically grown by 600% in the past year and all efforts by parliamentarians to make the financial picture transparent have come to naught. Ms Stav Shaffir of the Labor Party, the youngest member of the Knesset has made valiant attempts to dig out the details of the shady transactions and has encountered stone walls.
She  gave an interview to Newsweek recently that tells the story in English. Frankly, many of us who approve of her struggle against corruption would be happier if she also gave some attention to the evils of the occupation. She must understand that social justice and proper governance cannot stop at the border and are not attainable as long as the occupation is in place. For the Hebrew speakers, we present a three minute speech by MK Shaffir in which she responds fiercely to the accusations of the religious right who claim that the left are not really Zionists.  Well done, lady.


HERO IGNORED IN ISRAEL, HONORED IN FRANCE

Lassana Bathily
Lassana Bathily holds his French Passport following a ceremony at which was awarded French nationality in Paris on January 20, 2015. Photo by AFP
During the attack on the Kosher Supermarket in Paris, six people were saved from death by the actions of Lassana Bathily, a young immigrant from Mali, who hid them in a freezer and then turned it off. The French government honored him by granting him French citizenship for which he had applied in the past. We in Israel, on the other hand, have ignored him. Kobi Niv, writing in Haaretz, attributes this to our innate racism. Had he been a white Christian, he would have been feted at the Knesset and given a vacation in Israel. Being Muslim and black, put him on the Israeli list of unworthy and untouchable. People. Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Zionism equals racism. They later retracted it, but the statement, alas, in nonetheless true. Let us hang our collective head in shame.

SILLY TIME
What If? asks You are in a boat directly over the Mariana Trench. If you drop a 7kg bowling ball over the side, how long would it take to hit the bottom?

Doug Carter The answer is, as usual, interesting.

The Wizard does not understand that the issue is poverty and the poor girl cannot afford a dress with more cloth than the one she is wearing:


Wizard of Id Cartoon for Jan/21/2015

How Murphy was really brought up by his previous owners:
Non Sequitur Cartoon for Jan/14/2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Titan starts the New Year and wishes all a good one




Titan is back and would like to wish all his Eastern Christian readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy yourselves greatly

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.


CHARITY CORNER 

This week Titan refers you to Reporters Without Borders, who lead the fight worldwide in defense of freedom of the press. The events in France (see the next item) in which journalists were massacred by criminal fanatics show how important this struggle is. Please donate to help in the fight for freedom of expression.
Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Jan/08/2015

MASSACRE IN PARIS 


Titan is shocked by the news of the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people have been killed by masked gunmen. The paper has had threats because of cartoon portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. This is an act of wanton terror and we all hope that the perpetrators are caught quickly and punished appropriately.  Expressions of solidarity and mourning are coming from the public and from cartoonists around the world.
Who harmed Islam more?
In the meantime a huge manhunt is going on focused on a region northeast of Paris. France has observed a minute's silence for the 12 people killed at the office of the satirical magazine.

Earlier, a gunman shot dead a policewoman south of Paris and fled. It is unclear if the attack in Montrouge, in which a second person was seriously injured, was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, but French prosecutors say they are treating it as a "terrorist act",


FIGHT AGAINST RACISM IN GERMANY 

Titan cheers the people in Germany who have turned out in thousands against the PEGIDA movement, which is claiming that the liberal asylum policies of the German government are leading to an "Islamization" of Europe. Indeed there is Islamophobic prejudice in Europe including Germany, but it is encouraging to see that the mainstream rejects it.
People protest against PEGIDA in Hamburg, Germany, on Monday.
People protest against PEGIDA in Hamburg, Germany, on Monday.
Bodo Marks /EPA/Landov



CANCER MERCHANTS FIGHT BACK 

Uruguay has the highest proportion of smokers in Latin America. The government has been taking steps to reduce the incidence of smoking by banning it in public places and by regulation of the advertising of tobacco products. At the same time it has legalized cannabis. It is now being sued by Philip Morris, the huge tobacco concern, which shows what degree of chutzpa can exist in the corporate world. While it might seem inconsistent to legalize pot and crack down on tobacco, John Walsh, a drugs policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, says Uruguay’s trailblazing efforts to regulate marijuana and tobacco industries are consistent. “With tobacco they are bringing to heel a legal industry that is accustomed to operating with scant control, while with marijuana they are taking an industry out from the shadows and putting it under better control,” he said. In any case, cheers to the Uruguayan government for doing the right thing to protect the health of its people.

SEX, JAPAN AND THE WORLD ECONOMY 

The population of Japan is decreasing and aging which is an economic time bomb. We are told in an article by Max Fisher in the Washington Post, with reference also to an article in the Guardian on the same subject, that much of this derives from a lack of interest in sex on the part of young Japanese women and men.

Japanese women walk down a Tokyo shopping street. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The social mores of Japan are such that it is almost impossible for a woman to pursue a career and also be a wife and mother. When faced with such a choice a large number of educated women opt out of the family mode. The results will be catastrophic for Japan and its large trading partners around the world. Officials in Japan are keenly aware of how endangered they are by the country's low birth rate. National programs encourage young men and women to get together and politicians often debate how to create more Japanese babies. One prominent legislator, Seiko Noda, has worked on the issue since soon after taking office in 1993. In February, Noda proposed that Japan lift the birth rate by simply banning abortion.
Similar problems will certainly arise in Europe as birth rates decline and with them the economies of the EU member countries.

THE RANT 

This week Titan is again getting on his soapbox about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) and what it is doing to our planet. The lack of political will to deal with this terrible problem was demonstrated at the recent Lima conference on climate change. Nothing binding came out of it-- every country in attendance agreed to submit a plan for addressing their carbon dioxide emissions. However, the plans are only voluntary, and countries can promise to cut as much or little as they wish. Recent data published by leading scientists in the field indicate that there is very bad news for those living near coastlines around the world. One study was published in the peer-reviewed Nature Climate Change, the other in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The studies showed that existing computer models might have severely underestimated the risk to the Greenland ice sheet from warming global temperatures. Melting that ice sheet will raise sea level by about six meters. Yes, go ahead and shudder at the prospect. Titan refers you to a detailed report by Dair Jamail in Truthout. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but we are sitting by and letting the oil magnates destroy our planet. We are glad that the Pope is about to confirm his strong position with an encyclical and we hope other religious leaders will stand with him.
pope-francis-560.jpg
Pope Francis has become an outspoken critic of industries that harm the environment. (Associated Press)

ON SCIENCE AND EDUCATION 

If you are wondering why kids seem to come out of school semi-literate at best, note how they are being taught.
Then we have wisdom in the Arab world...


Before we snobs in the West get serious about making fun of Islamic "science" we should learn how to spell seismology...


RELIGION AS POISON 

Seriously, we have in Israel a school system funded by the state in which the core curriculum is not taught. Instead the boys learn Talmud and the girls presumably learn to cook and sew. Evolution finally got into the curriculum in secular schools here just this year, but it will not be taught with respect to primates. As we smile at the Muslims, a strong feeling of pots and kettles fills the air.

Worse than the usual orthodox corruption is the system of missionary activity called kiruv which means drawing close. It is based on the idea that anyone who is not ultra orthodox is living a meaningless life. It can be very toxic as described in this post by a woman who lost her daughter to these monsters.  Thanks to Rabbi Fink for raising an orthodox voice of protest.

ERASED DE KOONING 

In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg, a young, little known artist, took a box of erasers and set to rubbing out a densely layered drawing by Willem de Kooning, the king of Abstract Expressionism, and he did it with the Master’s permission. As Rauscheberg explained he was “trying to find a way to bring drawing into the all whites.” Mark Kersteter analyses the act in the context of Rauschenberg' subsequent career.

De Koonin's biographers describe it thus:
The young artist was engaged in a symbolic act of generational and Oedipal murder, at once comic and deadly serious. He was doing so in the joking language of Dada, a movement that did not respect the sanctity of the art object or celebrate the romantic passion of de Kooning’s generation. Rauschenberg would retain much of de Kooning for the future—his rude American vitality, his open-endedness, and his devotion to a process of permutation and change—but Rauschenberg had to escape from the air of Old World connoisseurship and private touch that was inevitably a part of a de Kooning drawing. Rauschenberg could not make conventional “drawings” or “paintings,” much as he loved them, because he did not believe they contained the contemporary truth. He had to erase that part of de Kooning.(de Kooning by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, pp 359-60)

The erasure hangs in SFMOMA and has resurfaced in the non-writing of our beloved Cynthia. What grade would you give her?

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Jan/04/2015

GREET THE NEO-NAZI FAN 

Steve Scalise, the Majority whip in the new US House of Representatives, admits to having addressed a neo-nazi racist group called EURO — the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. EURO was founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and perhaps the country’s most notorious white supremacist. We shall see whether he will be forced to resign. He might claim innocence...


Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Jan/01/2015

HOME SWEET HOME

CORRUPTION AND POLITICS 

Israel has elections scheduled for March 17 (who will get St. Paddy's vote?) and the turbulence has already begun. It is shocking that the Likud campaign is largely funded by donations from a few families in the US. We should have a law outlawing contributions from foreign sources, but in a corrupt country like Israel, that is too much to expect. What is happening is that the corruption is eating away at the foundations of democracy. Chemi Shalev blogging in Haaretz points out the dangers that lie ahead is. As he puts it:"Concurrently with the erosion of public confidence in corruption-tainted individuals and organizations, an increasingly militant right wing has waged an unrelenting campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary, chip away at the sanctity of free speech and emasculate Israel’s constitutional commitment to its non-Jewish Israelis. " We also have a population with no roots in democracy and a large sector, including the religious element, who oppose it adamantly. As Amir Oren notes, only pure masochism will cause the electorate to return the present bunch of politicians to power. Titan fears that may well happen since the Israeli public are a bit like North Koreans who worship idols. For Israelis, the chief idol is the army.

CHEERS TO THE UN AND THE ICC 

We are told by the UN that as of April 1 the Palestinians will be members of the International Criminal Court. This means that they can file criminal complaints against war crimes committed on their territory. Titan will rub his methane lakes in glee to see an Israeli general or politician (these are overlapping sets) giving an account of his crimes to an international tribunal. Israel has of course reacted by stealing the millions of shekels of tax revenues that it is required to pass on to the Palestinians. Other creative sanctions will certainly be found and the propaganda machine will swing into action. Zeev Sternhell has some good practical advice for the Palestinian leadership. It would be nice if they were smart enough to take it. They should have figured it out for themselves years ago.


SILLY TIME 

What If? asks How many fairies would fly around, if each fairy is born from the first laugh of a child and fairies were immortal?

—Mira Kühn, Germany

WuMo put fishing in the right perspective, but Titan gives you only the link lest WuMo sue him, although they invite you to email the cartoon. Odd indeed.

Titan and Pollyanna finally confess to you as a New Year's atonement how blogging works.
Wizard of Id Cartoon for Jan/04/2015








Sunday, December 28, 2014

Titan wishes all a belated Merry Christmas



Titan is back and would like to wish all his Western Christian readers a very (albeit belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy yourselves greatly


For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

CHARITY CORNER


This week Titan refers you to the Family Unification Campaign of Amnesty International  Australia. Around the world, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are torn apart because they have bravely stood up for human rights. This holiday season, your donation can help reunite a family.
In particular, we ask for your help for the family of Reeba Kadeer who was imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for speaking out for human rights and released in 2005 after a worldwide outcry. Now the life of a brave human rights defender, her son Ablikim Abdiriyim, hangs in the balance. Please support this effort.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Titan wishes to call your attention to the birthday of a great man whose life and works had an eternal effect on humanity. He refers, of course, to Sir Isaac Newton(1642-1727) who was born on Christmas day. Titan offers you a link to his biography.

FREEDOM FOR A "NON-HUMAN PERSON" 

A court in Argentina has ruled that keeping an orangutang in a zoo is a deprivation of rights. The orangutang involved will be moved to a sanctuary in Brazil. This decision may have major influence on the question of incarceration of animals. It is certainly food for thought.
Sandra the orangutan


An orangutan named Sandra, covered with a blanket, gestures inside its cage at Buenos Aires Zoo. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

TSUNAMI TEN YEARS ON 

On Boxing Day 2004 a 9.1 magnitude earthquake shook the seafloor of the Indian Ocean and generated a tsunami that in total killed 275,000 people. There was a worldwide response by both governments, NGO's and  private donors that totaled over US$6bn. The Guardian gives us a look at the most affected place, Aceh in Indonesia and a bit of perspective.
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque composite
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque two days after the Boxing Day tsunami destroyed much of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, above, and how it looks today, below. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

US-CUBA RECONCILIATION  

Titan is pleased at the news that Pres. Obama has put an end to the decades of embargo and ostracism to which the US has subjected Cuba. Most people are pleased that this is  happening, although there are a few discordant voices, including that of Israel. Titan suspects that the reason behind this is fear of offending Republican supporters in Congress.  He thinks there is nothing to fear since their support is bought and paid for by big shot Jewish billionaires and AIPAC. An apparent side effect of this is that a  unilateral, indefinite ceasefire has been declared by FARC – the Colombian rebel group, in whose negotiations with the Colombian government, Cuba has played a major role. Titan sincerely hopes that the civil war in Colombia that has been raging for over four decades will finally come to an end.

 ARMS TRADE TREATY TAKES EFFECT

Everyone should be glad that the Arms Trade Treaty went into effect on Dec. 24 after achieving the required 50 ratifications. Over 130 countries have signed on and now 60 have ratified. The treaty includes a number of robust rules to stop the flow of arms to countries when it is known they would be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or serious violations of human rights law. Governments that are part of the ATT will now have to carry out objective assessments to avoid an overriding risk that an arms export would be used to commit those atrocities. North Korea, Iran and Syria were the only three states to vote against the treaty. Others have resisted signing and ratification so the work of the NGO's must go on.

THE RANT 

This week the worldwide rant is about ISIS and all that it involves. We now have a report from a German journalist who was allowed to visit Mosul and return. 

Juergen Todenhoefer says he was confronted with 'the most dangerous enemy I have ever seen in my life'

 What Juergen Todenhoefer has to tell us is frightening, not only about women, but about the power of the Islamic State. He says it is almost impossible to defeat and that it has the power of a "of a nuclear bomb or a tsunami.” The outrages perpetrated by ISIS are innumerable and in particular the fate of women who are captured by them is horrendous. The group has gone so far as to publish a pamphlet of instructions on the treatment of female slaves! On the plus side, in September, 120 senior Muslim scholars and imams from around the world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, wrote an 18-page, open letter to ISIS, calling its members un-Islamic and condemning the treatment of Yazidi women. “It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings,” they argued. The question is what can be done about this? It appears that the West has no stomach for a major land war and indeed it would be taken as a continuation of the Crusades and just make ISIS mainstream in the Arab world. As Juergen Todenhoefer writes, this is a problem that the Arabs will have to solve on their own, with at most Western materiel backing and air support.

Of course, when we in the West berate others for their treatment of women, we can create a picture of pots and kettles. Indeed, we do not enslave women, but rape impunity is still with us. As the cartoonist Dommelly notes, women need a certain checklist:


 


HOME SWEET HOME


CORRUPTION AND POLITICS  
Israel has elections scheduled for March 17 and the turbulence has already begun. To spice things up we have two juicy corruption scandals to keep us from boredom. One of them involves the Israel Beiteinu political party headed by Avigdor Lieberman,  the Foreign Minister. The kingpin or queenpin if you will of this is Deputy Minister Faina Kirschenbaum who is tied to numerous bribes. Altogether more than two dozen suspects, including former minister Stas Misezhnikov, have been remanded in court for charges including bribery, falsifying documents, and obtaining fraudulent benefits. The sordid details are given by YNET for your reading pleasure. 
Top line, left to right: Misezhnikov, Kirschenbaum, Mesika, and Wiznitzer. Bottom line, left to right: Ranit Kirschenbaum, Kopple, Simchi, and Litvinoff. (Photo: Yaron Brener, Motti Kimchi, Oz Moalem, Atta Awisat, Avi Moalem)
Top line, left to right: Misezhnikov, Kirschenbaum, Mesika, and Wiznitzer. Bottom line, left to right: Ranit Kirschenbaum, Kopple, Simchi, and Litvinoff. (Photo: Yaron Brener, Motti Kimchi, Oz Moalem, Atta Awisat, Avi Moalem)

Yossi Verter writing in Haaretz speculates how this scandal might redraw the political map as election day draws nigh. The Jerusalem Post bemoans the fact that the previous major corruption scandal that
brought about jail sentences for a former PM and his associates did not vanquish political corruption. Titan is somewhat amused by this naivete--recall Jim Curley who was reelected mayor of Boston while serving time in prison for a felony conviction.

The military is also having its problems. The other scandal involves sexual misconduct and other forms of corruption in the elite Givati infantry brigade. A battalion commander in the brigade has been relieved of his command over sexual misconduct. Despite this action,  the brigade is not out of the woods yet. There is still a reasonable possibility that the suspicions of serious wrongdoing in the battalion – separate cases of sexual harassment and unbecoming relations, weapons theft, improper use of donations, cover-ups of road accidents, as well as suicides – will lead to a criminal indictment.
The charges of obstruction of justice against the brigade commander, Ofer Winter, have been dropped, but the fact that he chose to fire the whistleblower, the deputy battalion commander, on grounds of disloyalty to his immediate superior indicates that Mafia norms of omerta still prevail. Haaretz in an editorial calls upon the new Chief of Staff to clean the stables.

WATCH YOUR HAIR COLOR 

Ni Nati
Ni Nati, the woman who was evicted from a bus because of her dyed hair. (photo credit:FACEBOOK)

A woman who dyed her hair blue was kicked off a bus by the driver. This violation of privacy and human rights is an example of the conformity pressures that make up the fascist-like fabric of our society. We sincerely hope that the Kavim bus company fires this driver as sanction for his unacceptable behavior. He objected to the blue because  “What a disgrace to the State of Israel! How do you take the color of the flag and put it on your head? You despicable person! You vile human being! Don’t you have any parents that educated you? Did you grow up with gentiles? What a disgrace! Some shiksa thinks that they could do whatever you want here! Get out of here!”
Sue the bus company for its balls, Ms Nati.

 
SILLY TIME
Since there is no new What if? available, Titan searched Munro's archive for something equally silly or a stupid pun. The search was successful, but Titan disclaims any responsibility for this...

PERIOD


Period

For the record 438 nanohertz...

The we have Dilbert the therapist...
Dilbert Cartoon for Dec/21/2014