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Nuke

Venezuela's Chavez, Iran's Ahmadinejad joke about big atomic bomb

Both leaders dismiss U.S. concerns about Iran's growing ties with Latin America
Image
© Venezuelan presidency/EPA
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, greets Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday.

Caracas, Venezuela - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez lavished praise on each other on Monday, mocked U.S. disapproval and joked about having an atomic bomb at their disposal.

The fiery anti-U.S. ideologues have forged increasingly close ties between their fellow OPEC nations in recent years, although concrete projects have often lagged behind the rhetoric.

Both leaders dismissed U.S. concerns about Iran's intentions in the Middle East and its growing diplomatic links with Chavez and his allies in Latin America.

"They accuse us of being warmongers," Chavez said during a joint press conference. "They're the threat."

As he often does, the theatrical and provocative Chavez stuck his finger right into the global political sore spot, joking that a bomb was ready under a grassy knoll in front of his Miraflores palace steps.

"That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out," he said, the two men laughing together.

Comment: There is an American Policy to create war with Middle Eastern Nations. It is the opposite of reality.

US: Panetta admits Iran not developing nukes

Western media, and those behind it, are the ones creating hatred, racism, managing perception and causing Middle Eastern and African wars.


Heart - Black

Iraq: A Country in Shambles

Sadr City, Bahgdad
© Dahr Jamail/Al Jazeera
In Sadr City, Bahgdad, the streets are cracked, filled with potholes, and strewn with refuse.
Baghdad, Iraq - As a daily drumbeat of violence continues to reverberate across Iraq, people here continue to struggle to find some sense of normality, a task made increasingly difficult due to ongoing violence and the lack of both water and electricity.

During the build-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration promised the war would bring Iraqis a better life, and vast improvements in their infrastructure, which had been severely debilitated by nearly 13 years of strangling economic sanctions.

More jobs, improved water availability, more reliable electricity supplies, and major rehabilitation of the medical infrastructure were promised.

But now that the US military has ended its formal military occupation of Iraq, nearly eight years of war has left the promises as little more than a mirage.

Ongoing water shortages

Hashim Hassan is the Deputy Director of the Baghdad Water Authority (BWA), and he admits to an ongoing shortage of clean drinking water for Baghdad's seven million residents.

People

The Gaza Music School: A Composition in Defiance and Harmony

Children hone their skills at the Gaza Music School
© Saleh Jadallah
Children hone their skills at the Gaza Music School, watched by staff.
It was damaged by an Israeli bomb - but the Gaza Music School is quickly becoming a symbol of resilience.

It is late afternoon and in a room darkening by the minute because of an all-too-familiar power cut, Shaden Shabwan, just 10 and a study in concentration, plays a Czech folk tune on an upright Yamaha piano as her teacher wills her to avoid mistakes. It is test day for piano students at the Gaza Music School, where Shaden is in her second year. Across the corridor, her classmate Abdel Aziz Sharek, also 10, is just as focused. Accompanied on ouds and tabla, he dexterously picks out a mesmerising classical longa on the qanun, the zither-like instrument that has been central to Arab music for a millennium or more. Abdel Aziz takes his regular studies as seriously as he evidently does the music. "I want to be a doctor," he explains. "But I will keep playing. I will be in a band at the same time."

Back in the piano room, Sara Akel plays two études by the Austrian composer Carl Czerny and a Bach Polonaise, with such confidence that you would never guess, if you shut your eyes, that she was only 12. Sara prefers music to academic subjects at school. "I really love it here," she says. "The teachers are so nice and talented. I'm really looking to be a professional musician." In Gaza? "Why not?"

It's a fair question. This centre of artistic excellence may conflict with Gaza's popular image. But it is already nurturing a young musical generation worthy of its peers elsewhere. Each of the 52 boys and 73 girls come three times a week after school for two sessions of learning an instrument and one for theory. While many have never touched a musical instrument before, they have all passed competitive tests of ear and rhythm to get in.

Eye 1

The US schools with their own police

male police officers supervise and keep an eye on students in South Texas high school
© Bob Daemmrich/Alamy
Male police officers supervise and keep an eye on students in South Texas high school
A policeman on the beat in a school in southern Texas.

More and more US schools have police patrolling the corridors. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising normal childhood behaviour?

The charge on the police docket was "disrupting class". But that's not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children were bullying her with taunts of "you smell".

"I'm weird. Other kids don't like me," said Sarah, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders and who is conscious of being overweight. "They were saying a lot of rude things to me. Just picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then they said: 'Put that away, that's the most terrible smell I've ever smelled.' Then the teacher called the police."

Heart - Black

US, Florida: 7 teens charged with beating classmate unconscious

school bus
© Courthouse News Service
Seven central Florida teenagers were arrested after authorities said they punched and kicked a 13-year-old until she was unconscious while on a school bus.

The victim told authorities that Friday was her first time riding the bus and no one would let her sit down. About 75 children were riding the bus bound for a middle school in Ocala, a rural city north of Orlando. The victim said someone threw a shoe at her and she threw one back, according to an arrest report.

One girl allegedly asked students if they wanted to hit the victim, then instructed the teens to form a circle and began hitting and kicking the victim. Several witnesses said they saw the girl fall to the floor and "appear to have a seizure and pass out," according to the arrest report.

The victim, who is not being identified, was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, severe bruising on her head and muscle spasms.

Seven teens, ranging in age from 12 to 15, were charged with battery and disorderly conduct. The Associated Press is not identifying the suspects because they are minors.

Evil Rays

US: 'If Fred Got Two Beatings Per Day...' Homework Asks

slavery homework
Third graders in in Gwinnett County, Ga., were given math homework Wednesday that asked questions about slavery and beatings.

Christopher Braxton told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta that he couldn't believe the assignment his 8-year-old son brought home from of Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross.

"It kind of blew me away," Braxton said. "Do you see what I see? Do you really see what I see? He's not answering this question."

Pistol

Gunman in Afghan uniform kills US soldier on base

Image
© Unknown
Afghan National Army Uniform
Kabul, Afghanistan - A man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on a group of Americans at a base in the south of the country, killing a U.S. soldier and wounding another, an Afghan military spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman was also killed in the shootout on Sunday. "Right now, an investigation is going on to determine whether he really was a soldier or someone using an army uniform. And if he was a soldier, what caused the shooting," Azimi said.

Similar attacks have raised fears of increased Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army as NATO speeds up the training of the security forces. In some cases the attackers were Afghan soldiers who turned on NATO troops. Others involved insurgents dressed in Afghan uniforms.

A NATO statement released late Sunday said only that a coalition service member was killed in the incident, apparently by an Afghan soldier, but provided no details on the location or the victim's nationality.

Radar

Stricken cargo ship breaks up off New Zealand coast

The stricken container ship, Rena, has started to break apart off the coast of New Zealand


A cargo ship grounded off the New Zealand coast since October has split into two pieces after being lashed by pounding seas, spilling sea containers and debris and sparking fears a fresh oil spill could wash ashore, maritime officials said on Sunday.

The officials said that the front section of the wreck remains stuck in its original position, but the stern section has broken off, slipped at least 100ft (30m) away from the bow and is "moving significantly," pounded by 19ft (6m) swells.

House

Pakistan's Musharraf to return this month

Image
© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, talks during the launch of his new political party, the "All Pakistan Muslim League" in central London, on Oct. 1, 2010.
Karachi - Former President Pervez Musharraf announced Sunday he would return to Pakistan later this month and prepare for elections, something that could add to political turbulence in an already tense atmosphere in the country.

Musharraf's first challenge may be to avoid arrest on his arrival.

On Saturday, state prosecutors said they planned to detain the former army chief on charges he failed to provide security for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto ahead of her assassination in 2008. While much remains unpredictable, commentators have speculated that the army will not allow Musharraf to be arrested, setting up fresh conflict between it and the unpopular government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Musharraf told several thousand supporters in Karachi by telephone on Sunday he would return between Jan. 27 and Jan. 30.

In apparent reference to the charges against him, he said: "I am coming to Pakistan, but there are attempts to scare me off. There are baseless cases against me, but we will face those cases in court."

People

Ignorance Is Bliss

You can't make this stuff up.
blind voter graphic
© n/a
Washington - The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

[Follow the link to read the paper (pdf warning).]

"These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss' approach to social issues," said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues."