Saturday, October 18, 2014

Titan has seen the holiday season out

Hi says Titan
Titan is back with you again after a holiday season, during which we did our best to get the blogs out. Now that some semblance of normalcy has returned, you will be inflicted as usual.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Nearly two years have gone by without Miriam and we continue to realize what we have lost. She got usinto 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.

Ebola information poster in Monrovia, Liberia - 16 October
Liberia has the greatest number of deaths
This week it is Titan's turn to promote a charity. His choice is dictated by the Ebola epidemic. A heavy rant on the incompetence of those who are supposed to be looking after our health and well being will appear below. The international NGO staffed by volunteers, Doctors without Borders, is bearing the main burden now since the governments and the UN have fouled up completely. Titan recommends MSF or Mercy Corps as the most effective way of helping in this huge crisis.

MSF is spread too thin and cannot deal with this on its own. Now, with the virus spreading beyond its control, the group is starting to buckle, according to Dr. Joanne Liu, a Canadian pediatrician and the international president of MSF. “It’s not possible for us to deploy more. This should not lie in the hands of a private NGO,” she says. “We used the words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘out of control’ in the spring. Nobody budged. If people had have been deployed right away, we would have prevented what is going on.”
Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

What is going on is her idea of a worst-case scenario. Ebola is out of control in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; official estimates say it has killed 4,447 and sickened 8,914 people. But the actual number of those infected is thought to be 2½ times higher, and it’s doubling every three to five weeks. Recent research puts the mortality rate at 70% To get it under control, about 70% of the sick need to be protected from contact with others. As of late last month, as few as 20% were being isolated in some areas. If the epidemic were to continue at the current rate, the World Health Organization (WHO) says there will be up to 10,000 new cases per week by December. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control predicts 1.4 million cases by early next year. Many others are dying of common ailments because hospitals are overwhelmed.. Please open a link, open your heart and open your wallet,

Titan is foaming at the mouth over the failure of the world to respond properly to the Ebola crisis. Now
evidence has emerged suggesting there are concerns inside the World Health Organization that it failed to respond adequately to the outbreak earlier this year.

The Associated Press news agency says it has obtained an internal draft document in which WHO officials acknowledge failing to appreciate the seriousness of the situation as the number of cases grew.

"Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall," the document says, according to AP.

The memo blames a lack of information, and INCOMPETENT STAFF.

MSF warned last April that the spread of Ebola in West Africa was unprecedented and becoming uncontrollable - a position rejected at the time by the WHO.

The level of incompetence is in part a result of WHO’s appointment system in Africa. Heads of WHO country offices in Africa are “politically motivated appointments” made by the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, who does not answer to the agency’s chief in Geneva, Dr Margaret Chan, it said. As Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the Guardian last week: “What should be [the] WHO’s strongest regional office because of the enormity of the health challenges, is actually the weakest technically, and full of political appointees.”

The leaked document reveals that a teleconference in late April that included WHO, MSF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heard that some WHO experts were not bothering to send reports of Ebola cases to head office in Geneva.

WHO said it was “particularly alarming” that the head of its Guinea office refused to help get visas for an expert Ebola team to come in and $500,000 in aid was blocked by administrative hurdles.
In addition governments have severely cut WHO funding and the system is in real collapse. In the US, President Obama has appointed a Czar for the epidemic, possibly because of the failure of the Center for Disease Control to prepare properly and the incompetence shown in dealing with the case that surfaced in Texas.
 Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Oct/17/2014

On 8 August, the WHO director, Margaret Chan, finally declared Ebola an international public health emergency. There had been 1,711 cases and 932 deaths. “Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own,” she said. She urged the international community to provide support.

Everybody now agrees this should have happened much earlier. As economic recession has impacted on wealthy countries, global spending rather than national has usually been cut – and public health has lost out to hospital treatment. The Ebola outbreak will eventually end but there will be another virus – whether flu, SARS or something we have not yet seen. Experts say that public health, and the WHO, need to be built up if we are to face down these regular threats to the entire planet.

It has come out that IS has enslaved members if the Yazidi sect whom it has captured. They even justify it
in their English language publication quoted in the Atlantic:

   " In the article, "The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,"
    the magazine stated that "the enslaved Yazidi families are
    now sold by the Islamic State soldiers," adding that, "the
    Yazidi women and children were then divided according to
    the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who
    participated in the Sinjar operations."

    Referring to the Yazidis as "pagans" and "infidels," the
    article said, "Their creed is so deviant from the truth
    that even cross-worshipping Christians for ages considered
    them devil worshippers and Satanists, as is recorded in
    accounts of Westerners and Orientalists who encountered
    them or studied them."

A Yazidi refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraq.
Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
A detailed report on the actions of IS has been published by Human Rights Watch and makes hair-raising reading. The world must confront this movement quickly and decisively.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi for winning the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. It is noteworthy that she is Pakistani and he Indian, both heroes of the struggle for education and the rights of children. We quote the Nobel committee:

Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. He has  also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education. 

The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism. Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed. It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today. In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher. The world has come closer to the
goal of eliminating child labour.

The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realization of the “fraternity between nations” that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize."

The Nigerian government has announced what it says is a truce with Boko Haram militants and a deal to free
more than 200 abducted schoolgirls. If this turns out to be true it will be some of the best news Nigerians have heard for decades and we shall all be glad for the Chibok girls and their families.

Titan is sad and dismayed at the news of the death of 39 people (and counting) on the the Annapurna
Circuit in Nepal, a key Nepali hiking route, after it was hit by major snowstorms and avalanches earlier this week.
Helicopters are helping rescuers high in the Himalayas as they search on for missing trekkers, with fears that more bodies lie beneath the snow. Nepal earns huge revenues from the tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers who flock to the Himalayas every year. It remains, however, a very poor country and the authorities
there have struggled to cope with the scale of this disaster.

Titan raises a toast to the Pope for his statement on homosexuality. Rabbis are trying to "cure" gay people. They could learn a lesson in humanity from Pope Francis.

Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Oct/16/2014

HOME SWEET HOME            
A detailed article in Haaretz tells us the sad story of the military and governmental incompetence, or rather idiocy, that lead to the debacle of the tunnels in the recent war in Gaza.
Hamas operatives inside an underground tunnel in Gaza on August 18, 2014. (Reuters)
The fact that no one has really investigated nor have any  heads  wearing brass hats rolled tells you all you need to know about our vaunted IDF. The poor grunts on the ground were sent in to destroy tunnels by their commanders without adequate training, equipment or intelligence briefings. We have a security cabinet that cannot find its way to the men's room without a GPS, a defense minister who lacks even half a brain and an officer class that represents decades of filtering in which any young person showing talent was effectively deterred from a military career by those to whom mediocrity is an ideal. We are cutting our education budget to buy new and expensive toys for these dolts, e.g. a $35 million aircraft for chasing stone throwers, while anything more complicated than arresting a nine year old or pillaging a Palestinian home is beyond their abilities.   The public who elect these people and adore the army are far more concerned with the price of a chocolate
pudding. Yes, people have the leaders that they deserve and want.

A Facebook post by an Israeli comparing the price of a chocolate pudding in Tel Aviv to its price in
Berlin went viral and generated a demo that more or less fizzled.
Milky (left), the pudding snack that has triggered a consumer protest.
Milky (left), the pudding snack that has triggered a consumer protest. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
Nonetheless, the cost of living in Israel is higher than it should be, mainly because of profiteering. In 2011 people took to the streets to protest social injustice, the government appointed a commission, a few young noisemakers became  members of the Knesset (parliament) and nothing changed. As far as blame for the prices in Israel is concerned, industry and marketers snipe at each other. It is not only in food. Titan needed a charger cable for his smartphone. Cellcom Israel charges NIS200 or $50. He bought it on Ebay from Hongkong for $6.95 including shipping. A car that sells for $20,000 abroad sells for more than double that in Israel and do not blame duty. When custom duties were dropped on US cars, the importers pocketed the difference and there was no advantage to the purchaser. Nonetheless, people are emigrating for more substantial reasons than the price of food. It has to do with the inequality of distribution of wealth and with the lies that the government feeds the people. Titan thinks that the people who insist on electing our leaders apparently want to be poor and to be ripped off by tycoons. To quote Nadav Eyal in Haaretz "Our leaders don’t understand that their empty slogans no longer work; that for Israel to remain the choice of Israelis, it needs to provide a return. But our leaders have no idea what that compensation should be." We might mention the costs of the Occupation, the settlements and as noted above the bloated military establishment. A country that has no political horizon can have no economic and social horizon. The hi-tech industry is innovative and lucrative, but every development is quickly sold off in a profitable exit and no mainstream employment is generated. Have another Milky.

Titan would like to call your attention to three shady episodes from the past. They include the illegal incarceration and enslavement of Arabs after the War of Independence (under the supervision of Holocaust survivors who knew the techniques), the theft of babies from families of immigrants from Yemen in the early days of the state and the odious role of British intelligence officers in fomenting the 1948 war. The first two are described by Amira Haas in Haaretz. The role of the British in 1947-48 was exposed by French intelligence and relayed to the Israelis as part of the French struggle against Britain in the postwar Middle East. The article by Meir Zamir in  Haaretz makes fascinating reading and shows how poorly the British government controlled its agents in the MidEast and how a rogue agent could have a huge effect. The bottom line "Like Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who blamed Britain for conspiring to evict France from the Levant, Ben-Gurion accused it of trying to sabotage the establishment of a Jewish state and secretly provoking an armed invasion by Arab states. Syrian and Britisdocuments uncovered in French archives confirm de Gaulle’s accusations and reinforce Ben-Gurion’s charges. These documents and French intelligence reports reveal that the British-Arabist secret agents, who engineered France’s eviction from the Levant in 1945, took similar steps to prevent the formation of a Jewish state in 1947-48."

Dr. Eyal Reinich in Africa Photo by Pupane Kamara
Titan says cheers for the doctors from Israel who are helping to fight Ebola. There is no official or
military team going out, but there are individuals who are volunteering We can be proud of our humanitarian doctors. The fight is not only against the virus, but against the superstitions and customs of the local people.


What If asks If you stripped away all the rules of car racing and had a contest which was simply to get a human being around a track 200 times as fast as possible, what strategy would win? Let's say the racer has to survive.
Hunter Freyer
The answer is creative and amusing.


Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Oct/12/2014


Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/16/2014

Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/17/2014

Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/18/2014

1 comment:

  1. Alas, there are so many horrors on so many fronts.