Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bronx:FIAT 500c -- J. Lo not really there

A recent commercial for Fiat shows Puerto Rican singer and actress, Jennifer López, riding a white Fiat 500c on the streets of the Bronx, New York, where she was born and raised. López talks about being from the neighborhood and how the place inspires her.
The video has been posted on the official Fiat YouTube page:
Puerto Rican blogger Ed Morales from happens to live in the neighborhood. He was present during the shooting of the commercial and had wondered at the time who the real celebrity the body double was for. He writes about it in his article ‘Jenny Absent From My Block‘:
… in fact the woman sitting in the car was so nondescript despite the fact that she seemed to be playing a lead role that I had a strong suspicion that she was a body double. But for whom?
Ed even took photos of the shoot including a moment when the car actually malfunctioned. After watching the commercial on TV and realizing this was the same production he had witnessed, he published his post alerting that López was never there. His photos were picked up by The Smoking Gun and his post is also mentioned in the New York Times.
Broken down Fiat being repaired with body double for Jennifer Lopez at the driving wheel. (Photo by Ed Morales)
Broken down Fiat being repaired with body double for Jennifer Lopez at the driving wheel. (Photo by Ed Morales)
Puerto Rican digital news site Noticel reported on Morales' story [es] and states that Fiat was forced to admit the use of a double to accommodate López's schedule.
Written by César Santiago Global Voices

Japan: I am Isolated in My Workplace

The Internet can be a saving grace if you’re isolated in your school or workplace.” - This was a remark from my recent interview with Izumi Mihashi from Lingua Japanese. I was reminded of it when chancing upon a poignant cry in the form of an anonymous blog entry [ja].
Bullying doesn’t stop at the schoolyard.
by Flickr user
Note: This post was translated in its entirety. Please note that the original text does not give any indication of gender for any of the characters, but the translation assumes that the blogger and colleague are male for brevity's sake.
Today, I realized yet again that the treatment I receive at my workplace is really acrimonious. I went to work in the morning, checked my e-mail, and got chewed out by four people for four different things within the first hour. When I was alone, I couldn’t help but quietly laugh with bitterness.
I feel that if I can just find one positive thing to latch onto, I can work out some of these issues as long as I apply myself to it. The thing is, I can’t help but think that I’m just being cut off completely.
After the troubles that morning, I ended up with some free time on my hands. I went up to one of the people that had gotten angry at me and quietly asked, “Is there anything I can help with?”. He replied “No”, with a very tired face. That he couldn’t trust me with anything was written all over his face.
I felt extremely sorry, embarrassed, and so many other emotions mixed together. From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to say, “I’m so sorry for making you feel this way.” It was all I could do to force a smile and say, “Please let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.” After going back to my seat, I reviewed my past work to see if there was anything to do. There were many errors, so I went to work on fixing them.
It’s cold at my window seat so I got some hot tea from the vending machine and sat back down, trying to warm myself. The person next to me furiously shouted, “Don’t bring anything that smells to your seat. What are you thinking!?”. I begged forgiveness - almost on my knees - and escaped to the coffee room.
Feeling depressed, I looked out the window from the coffee room and thought about ways that I might improve myself. The only plan that I could come up with in my current state was very general - there’s nothing that I can do except take extra care with my actions and do my best.
This kind of life has been going on for more than three months. In all honesty, I want to quit this company. I think it’s time.
Sometimes, I think I shouldn’t be here. Still, quitting without making personal improvements feels like running away. I can’t do that. Me breaking down mentally, or my colleagues’ patience reaching the limit… which will come first?
I’m so sorry that I’m such a miserable person. I’m just so sorry.
And, I’ve caught a cold. But I can’t take a day off.
Written by Tomomi Sasaki Global Voices

Peru: Conga Mining Project Fails to Public Pressure

The region of Cajamarca, located to the north of the Peruvian Andes mountains, continues its protest [en] against the Minas Conga mining project [en], considered to be the largest mining investment in the history of Peru, that according to its opponents threatens to destroy some 20 lagoons, which serve as a foundation for local ecosystems and a source of water for farming communities.
The regional strike has so far left five residents and three police officers injured, although no number has officially been confirmed, and different figures have been circulated: the blog Mariátegui, Revista de las ideas reports up to 18 injured.
Las autoridades de salud del departamento Cajamarca informaron a la prensa local que el choque entre las autoridades policiales y los manifestantes dejaron un saldo de 18 heridos, de los cuales 12 son civiles y seis uniformados…
Cajamarca health officials informed the local press that the clashes between authorities and protesters left 18 people injured, of whom 12 were civilians and six were uniformed officers…
Stencil art against the Yanacocha mining company, ever a theme in Cajamarca. "Yanacocha contaminates and kills you, become aware of it" Photo: Jorge Gobbi (CC BY 2.0)
At the time of this article's publication, on the sixth day [en] of regional push back in Cajamarca, the Yanacocha mining company announced the suspension [en] of Conga project operations; residents, however, have declared that they are hoping not for a move such as this from the company, but for the Peruvian government to declare the mining project ‘unfeasible' [en], which would, it is thought, cancel it definitively.
The protests in Cajamarca arose some time ago, led by farmers and other residents of the watershed that would suffer the direct impact of this project, since the lagoons not only serve as a foundation for ecosystems and a source of water for irrigation, but also provide water for human consumption; and the conflict has been exasperated in the last weeks, after Peruvian President Ollanta Humala made statements that he “is not anti-mining,” but that he “works to make sure that mining serves the population,” calling the Conga project “important for Peru.”
As detailed earlier in the blog Palabras van y Vienen:
se supone que Conga (ubicado en los distritos de Huasmín, Sorochuco y La Encañada, producirá entre 580 mil y 680 mil onzas de oro por año; que creará alrededor de cinco mil nuevos puestos de trabajo, y que generaría entre US$ 800 a 1000 millones en regalías y canon minero para la región y los gobiernos locales de Cajamarca.
It is supposed that Conga, located in the Huasmín, Sorochuco and La Encañada districts, will produce between 580 and 680 thousand ounces of gold per year; that it will create around five thousand new jobs, and will generate between US$ 800 and 1,000 million in royalties and mining taxes for the region and the local governments of Cajamarca.
The residents of Cajamarca not only oppose Conga but also ask for the Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Carlos Herrera Descalzi, to renounce the project. So far, the only one to renounce the project is the Vice Minister of Environmental Management, José de Echave, after encountering a report from the Minister of Environment that specified that the beginning of the Conga project “will transform the headwater of the water basin in a significant and irreversible way as well as make various ecosystems disappear.”
But what exactly, in environmental terms, are we talking about? The blog El Maletero - Red Verde Cajamarca pins down the facts about the at-risk lagoons:
…las 8 lagunas que en una primera etapa del Proyecto Conga se destruirían (o trasvasarían, según el eufemismo minero) son: El Perol, con una superficie de 16.48 hás.; Cortada, 3.64 hás.; Alforja cocha, 19.10 hás.; Azul lagoon, 4 hectores; 3 hectores; Mamacocha, 19.74 hectores.; Lipiac, 1.08 hectores; and Chica lagoon, 1.35 hectores. En total son 68.39 hás de lagunas repletas de agua. ¿Se imagina usted cuantos litros o metros cúbicos de agua están contenidas en semejante extensión hídrica? y ¿cuántas hectáreas de papa, maíz, trigo, cebada, arveja y pastos se dejarían de sembrar? (…) si le ponemos valor económico a todas estas pérdidas (…) ni todos los miles de millones de dólares de ganancia que acumularían en 20 ó 30 años alcanzaría para comprarnos el agua y los animales y productos agrícolas que se obtienen con dicho [sic] gracias al elemental líquido…
…the 8 lagoons that in the first stage of Project Conga would be destroyed (or diverted, according to the mining euphemism) are: El Perol, with an area of 16.48 hectares; Cortada, 3.64 hectares; Alforja cocha, 19.10 hectares; Azul lagoon, 4 hectares; 3 hectares; Mamacocha, 19.74 hectares.; Lipiac, 1.08 hectares; and Chica lagoon, 1.35 hectares. In total, there are 68.39 hectares of lagoons replete with water. Can you imagine how many liters or cubic meters of water are contained in a similar stretch of water? And how many hectares of potatoes, corn, wheat, barley, peas, and grass would cease to be sown? (…) if we put an economic value to everything that is lost (…) not the thousands of millions of dollars in revenue that would accumulate in 20 or 30 years would pay us for the water and animal and farmed products that are gained thanks to this elemental liquid…
A Yanacocha company poster: "What does really contaminate water? Throwing trash in the river contaminates water; modern mining does not contaminate. Taking care of the water in Cajamarca is everyone's responsibility". Photo: Participatory Learning (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Even though the Minister of Energy and Mines has already given his approval to the project, the Minister of Environment has asked that a more exhaustive evaluation of the Environmental Impact Study (EIA), which the project had presented, be completed.
Attorney Emma Gómez writes on the blog SEVINDI:
el caso Minas Conga pone nuevamente sobre el tapete la credibilidad de los EIA y sus procesos de aprobación, pues es insostenible que sea el propio promotor de la inversión en el sector minero quien apruebe los EIA. Tal como ha sido propuesto por el Ministro del Ambiente, esa competencia tendría que pasar al Ministerio del Ambiente.
The Minas Conga case puts the credibility of the EIA and its process of approval back on the table, since it is illogical that the very promoter of the investment in the mining sector is the one who approves the EIA. As has been proposed by the Minister of Environment, that matter would have to go through the Minister of Environment.
Among netizens, there are both those in favor of the Conga project, and those who are against it.
On Twitter, Felipe (@marcielmarciano) commented:
Asi son los radicales RT @perucom: [VIDEO] Paro seguirá hasta retiro de proyecto Conga
That's the way the radicals are RT @perucom: [VIDEO] Strikes will continue until the retreat of Conga project
OsOptimus (@OsOptimus) said, also on Twitter:
@el_observante_Like 500 years ago: The priest gives the Bible to the Inca, the Inca casts it away because he doesn't understand, today = the Atahualpas will be defeated [ed. note: Atahualpa was the last emperor of the Incan Empire who was executed by the Spanish]
To this El Observante (@El_Observante) retorted:
@OsOptimus El Peru no se puede detener por un grupo de gente q quiere solo posicionamiento politico a costa del progreso de Cajamarca.
@OsOptimus Peru cannot be held up by a group of people that only wants political positioning at the cost of the progress of Cajamarca.
Peruvians continue to watch for developments and an outcome in this case, which has become the first significant crisis that the government of President Ollanta Humala will have to resolve.
Written by Isabel Guerra · Translated by L. Finch  Global Voices

Атака т.н. "НТВшников" на офис ГОЛОСа за "компроматом"

With less than a week to go until Russia's parliamentary elections, the Golos [ru] election monitoring association has been experiencing unprecedented pressure, including a break-in by an NTV television team, accusatory articles in major newspapers, and a call for the organization's closure signed by three parliament deputies.
The main reason for this pressure? Its popular crowdsourced Election Violation Map (, developed by together with
“You're Surkov's Propaganda”
On November 26, 2011, newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta published [ru] an almost stereotypical accusatory article about Golos' associations. The article implied that Golos is a “fifth column” and an agent of United States foreign policy:
An example of electioneering violation. Photo by on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
An example of electioneering violation. Photo by on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Среди партнеров “Голоса” называют такие структуры из США, как Агентство по международному развитию (USAID), Национальный фонд за демократию (NED), Национальный демократический институт (NDI). Более того, в организации не скрывают, что существуют на деньги, приходящие из-за рубежа.
Among the partners of “Golos” are institutions from the United States such as the United States Agency for International Development, National Endowment for Democracy, and National Democratic Institute. Moreover, the organization doesn't hide that it exists due to the funds that come from abroad.
On November 28, while Golos held a press conference in the Independent Press Center, a team of NTV journalists broke into the organisation's offices expecting to shoot footage that would be later used in an accusatory TV programme. Similar cases have previously involved independent politician Yevgeniy Roizman, former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov [ru], Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko [ru] and many others.
Grigoriy Melkonyants, deputy chairman of Golos, managed to counter the aggressive (and still anonymous as their names are not disclosed) television journalists. He recorded everything and used the Internet-born technique of trolling (repeating the same slogan continuously and almost zombie-like to confuse one's opponent) saying “You're Surkov's propaganda” [Vladislav Surkov - first deputy chief of the presidential staff responsible for handling political issues].
The same day YouTube user videogolos uploaded the video [ru] of the break-in (~301,000 views so far):
In the video Melkonyants repeats the slogan 86 times. Later it transformed into a Twitter hashtag #высурковскаяпропаганда [ru]. As Alexander Morozov, chief editor of, noted [ru]:
это просто гениальный какой-то пример “встречного телевидения”. Снимая, видимо, на телефон или на любительскую камеру с руки, активист “Голоса” замучил юного корреспондента НТВ. Одной этой съемкой и мантрой “вы - сурковская пропаганда” этот великий человек мало того, что развалил атаку на “Голос”, но он еще и создал уникальный прецедент борьбы “альтернативного телевидения” с “традиционным”…
This is a brilliant example of “counter-television.” By shooting video, probably on a smartphone or an amateur camera, the Golos activist talked the NTV journalist's head off. Through only this footage and the mantra “You're Surkov's propaganda”, this great man not only dismantled the attack on Golos but also had created a unique precedent of the fight between “alternative” and “traditional” television…
True test of the Opposition
The attack on Golos would not be complete if no one had called for the organization's closure. Three deputies have written an appeal to the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor's Office, to investigate the activity of the foreign-sponsored election monitoring NGO.
Surprisingly, only one deputy, Andrey Nazarov, belonged to the dominating United Russia party, whilst Anton Belyakov came from A Just Russia, and Maksim Rohmistrov from LDPR.
The appearance of other parties to support the call, parties which are usually the object of violations themselves, was considered by many as a proof of the tight control exercised by the Kremlin over political parties, even those that are considered to be opposing.
Popular journalist Oleg Kashin wrote [ru] that the reaction towards this letter was “the true test of the ‘oppositionness'” of those parties:
чтобы доказать, что они действительно хотят всерьез бороться за голоса, им нужно всего лишь исключить Белякова и Рохмистрова из фракций.
In order to prove that they really want to fight for the votes, they just need to exclude Belyakov and Rokhmistrov from their fractions.
The reaction of the two Opposition parties was quite different. Within 24 hours of the revelation of the conflict, all leaders of A Just Russia party had condemned Belyakov's support of the call for closure (although no one has dismissed Belyakov yet). LDPR simply ignored the case.
Gennadiy Gudkov, deputy chairman of A Just Russia's faction in Duma, tweeted [ru]:
Заявляю,подпись Белякова-его личная инициатива,идущая против линии партии(см.мое выступл.от 18.11 от фракции).Мы поддерж.все общ.орг-ции>
I announce, the signature of Belyakov is his private initiative, which goes against the party line (see my statement on November 18). We support all NGOs
Promotional banner for the Violation Map (deleted from
Promotional banner for the Violation Map (deleted from
Disappearing banner and the “Streisand effect”
Early on 30 November, bloggers noticed that, the partner of the Golos association on its Violation Map, had removed a banner promoting the map project from its website.
Alexander Kynev, an election expert, wrote [ru]:
Думаю она - карта нарушений - и есть главный объект движухи. Им нужно уничтожить канал аккумулирования информации о нарушениях. Так что объем давления можете представить
I think that the Violation Map is the main object of the action. They need to destroy the channel of accumulation of information about [election] violations. So, you can imagine the amount of pressure.
Mikhail Kotov, editor in chief of, and one of the creators of the Violation Map, explained [ru] away the removal of the banner with commercial reasons:
сейчас такой период, это коммерческое место стало востребовано коммерческой рекламой. Но с «Голосом» мы по-прежнему партнеры.
Right now we have such a period that this advertisement place is needed for commercial advertisement. But we're still partners with Golos.
The political undercurrent of the decision to remove the banner surfaced very quickly. Roman Badanin, deputy chief editor, resigned [ru] right after Kotov's interview, explaining that the Violation Map was among those things he had curated personally. After it became evident that the Violation Map “no longer suited the leadership and the owners of the website”, Badanin said to [ru], it would have been “cowardice” to continue the work.
It is important to note that two days earlier, Grigoriy Okhotin, editor in chief of, a portal that translates foreign articles about Russia into Russian, resigned after RIA Novosti (the owner of asked him to avoid political and negative topics. RIA Novosti in return has filed a lawsuit against Okhotin.
Again, the ease of interconnections and alliances enabled by networked technology, prove that even the loss of a main media partner is not a disastrous failure. Almost simultaneously with Badanin's resignation,, a popular blog platform (~1 million unique visitors monthly), announced [ru] itself as the main media partner of and placed the banner as one of its rotating ads.
It seems that induced the ‘Streisand Effect‘, whereby any attempt to contain the spread of information results in the opposite reaction. As popular blogger Oleg Kozyrev tweeted [ru]:
Почему у единороссов такие недальновидные деятели? Ведь очевидно, что теперь про Карту нарушений будет знать полстраны
Why are “United Russia” representatives so short-sighted? It is evident that now half of the country will know about the Violation Map.
A deeper trend
The Violation Map incident is just an indicator of a much deeper trend - the growing will for the need of change, exercised by free, non-falsified elections. In previous election cycles, most journalists would not have resigned and no big portal would have been brave enough to advertise election violation monitoring.
Aside from the deeper sociological undercurrent, technology plays a crucial role in all presented stories. Without trolling, Grigoriy Melkonyants would not have been able to confuse the experienced accusatory journalist from NTV. Without social networks, political party A Just Russia wouldn't have been able to denounce Belyakov's actions in calling to close Golos as fast as it did.
Finally, none of these events would actually have happened if Golos and had not united in producing the Violation Map. Golos has had an election violation database since 2008, but it never was as influential as it is now.
This suggests the success of the project relies heavily on its online mapping element (if any event gets concrete geographic coordinates it automatically gets more real and more appealing) and having a proper media partner.
Written by Alexey Sidorenko
· Print version

Marx's Theory of Economic Crisis

China: Invests Wisely to Avoid West-style Collapse

Corporate Crime and Public Punishment: Someone in China is laughing...

2011 is slowly taking ground, while America is in the midst of an ideological War that offer no solutions to any of the painful point of the troublesome Economy:

-The Taxes Debate that is reaping the Nation in and out:

The President cut a Deal with the GOP, extensions of the Bush tax cuts and more to it!
The bill went trough the Senate with the speed of light,  probably they all raise the Champagne glasses in their chambers to cheer the Presidential Stroke of Genius that took the huge burden out of their shoulders:
Their Campaign Donors will Love the Presents they Deliver for them for Christmas!
The House give a little better Resistance...fiery speeches and performances on both side...and it also pass!
Finally We sew some true bipartisanship!
- Bravo indeed!
Another bill that will make a Budget whole so huge that the Medicare Donut whole will look like a well fitted ring on a sunny day!

Now let drop the curtains on the stage, turn off the glorious beam and let see the daylight, let see the Real Reasons behind the Theater we just witnessed...

If anyone wonder why the Congress deliver a Christmas Tree to The Wealthy, don't!
There is not one reason alone, there are  two Trillions reasons Why!
We hear that Number so many time, but We never really bother to stop and think of the Straight it represent:

Two Trillions dollars is the Number of Cash Stash Corporate America has!

Fat that Corporate America has and We The People Don't!

Fat that Corporate America can survive on while  We The People can starve out looking for employment we don't have!

Fat that Corporate America has and it is bigger then the yearly deficit Our Federal Government have to run in order to cover Our Social Security checks and Unemployment checks, pay our Medicare dues or Pay Our Soldiers Salaries Oversea...

Roll those Numbers until their sad reality sink into the conscience with their full painful Consequence:
- Cash Stash that Corporate America has it is Bigger then Our Budget Deficit For A Whole Year...
Or You can roll those Numbers this way:
- Corporate America has more Cash then the 2009 Stimulus package, and the newest Tax Cuts deal combined!
The Corporate Media did a good job indeed: no one report the obvious pathetic downside of the Capitol Hill!
The Irony gets worse:
-Corporate America while well awash in all that cash, still serve the ball to the Federal Government not just to borrow to keep in order the Need of the Society, but also pass the Long overdue Wage Increase: cause Payroll tax cuts for the People are nothing but the long overdue raise that Corporate America will not give to its employees!
-Middle Class is vanishing in the distance like a rainbow of unfulfilled expectations, while Corporate Media is filling the air with the notorious Lie:
- Unemployment is here to stay: Prepare Yourself for The New Normal!

It is very hard for me to say this but I will:
-What We Witnessing those days is a Capitulations of American Federal Government affront  of the Corporate America!
Pure and simple Capitulation!

To assume that the Corporate America have now incentive to invest their Corporate cash on American ground is well beyond a naivete:
- Beyond the Neighborhood Retail Plaza, Leisure Resort or Boutique Hotel to simply expect Corporate America To invest in any kind of Production or even Research and Development, while they can do that Oversea for a dime on a dollars is economical suicide and Corporate America is not a desperate fellow!

Simply said they will not, it is a pure, logical and economically justified fact!

Those of You who still believe that is not so, that some sort of Morality, Loyalty or Patriotism will bend them toward Us, cause they are after all Our Corporate...well, believe!

Meanwhile the World is standing still, every other Nations out there do nothing to get ahead of the curve of Progress...
Yeah, We Wish...
The New Congress will take over tomorrow and what is their number one Idea: Repeal of the Health Care bill!
If the notion is not so tragical it will be comedy worthy of a Shakespearean plot:
The fresh Idea that the Tea Party is bringing to Capitol Hill: lets go back to the free Market Economy that did not work in the 18 Century, but it will work in the 21 Century starting with the Health Care System left alone...
What a joke!
Our Congressional leaders are utterly stuck in Impotent Ideological Wars of equally Impotent Idea:
-Keynes economics can't deliver on his full employment Promises cause the Government is not the Investor, it is Distributor of the Resources and they are melting between the Local Officials and Local Entrepreneurs in the Power play of the Local Politics!
-Freedman economics can't deliver cause The America is not the Playing field of his Theories but The World: the wealth trickle down,  not in our backyard, but Oversea were the Productive Investments are happening, simple as that!

Instead Our Congressional leader should start looking for the alternative in Ideologies:

-"It does not matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches a mouse!"

If the Economy is in a crise let open our mind, shred our Ideological prejudice and spell the Truth:
- Our Stimulus did not work so well, the New Stimulus will not work so well, and here is Why:

Cause Taxes cuts & Taxes raise are happening in the domain of individual Income bracket, to say the best will stimulate the Consumptions, although for a very short time!

 That is so 20 Century Solutions of the Economic Maladies!

 21 Century Solutions Are:
-Where Do We Invest The Taxes Revenues?

In the Third  Millennium The World will be shape not by the Power of the Guns, Germs and Steel, but by Knowledge, Present and Future, and The Nations Who get to adjust to that simple Fact will rose to be The Leaders of the Future Wealth of the Nations!

Both America and China in 2009 put up forward a Stimulus package, but what a world of different they were:
- Our was hitting a resistance every step of the way and ended up being a goodies bag consistent on tax cuts, unemployment Benefits and States Financial Budget support, while this is how the Chinese Stimulus of 2009 look a like:

source: ECONOMIC OBSERVER English edition of the weekly Chinese newspaper 2009

Recently The Government in China bring forward a sweeping 1.5 trillion $ Stimulus bill also!
Yeah...they did, as so did we:  double on our stimulus, except what a World of difference the New Chinese bill stand For:
Instead of make up finesse on the previous bill, China turn the ship toward the real Solutions:

Productive Investment in those arias:
- Alternative energies
- Biotechnology
- New generation information technologies
- High end equipment manufacturing
- Advance materials
- Alternative fuel cars
- Green, environment friendly technologies

Government Investments: building Factories that will absorb the skilled labor that will productively supply employments for decade to come!
It is also a first step toward the shifts from intensive labor Manufacture Economy toward a high tech, high paid top skilled jobs of tomorrow...

All that will be accomplished in five years with is an average time span of an Architectural Project: simply said China is building China!

Wake up and smell the coffee, cause someone in China is laughing on our bickering, on our ignorance and our pathetic ideological blindness!

Now more then ever it is a time for action...
If the Knowledge is The Power To Be, in the era of Internet failure to communicate and spread the Knowledge is a simple crime of the mind: we are all Paul Revere, We Should all talk, and connect, and talk and connect, so we will see that we actually search for the same: a better life, time to spend with our families and Love ones without stress and worries, and if it is that simple then the Divisions on Progressive and Conservative and all the Colors in between are just artificial inventions of the Powers who are turning us into a modern slaves chained to a political affiliations that don't have our best interest in mind cause they are also slaves to a Few very Wealthy individuals...

Slavery: Standing on the Edge of Extinction?

Like other types of crime, slavery has changed over time [GALLO/GETTY]
Outside Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, India is a centre where child slaves are brought after they have been freed.

Here I met Raj. Kidnapped at the age of six, he was enslaved to make carpets that are sold in the US and Europe.

Locked in a hut with a carpet loom, he was fed little, beaten often and paid nothing. The man who ran the looms exercised total violent control over the children he had enslaved. Raj's slavery lasted for five years.

Bending over the loom, his spine curved. Breathing fine wool dust, his lungs clogged. In the dark shed, his eyes failed. The rescue workers freed a stunted, sick, confused and frightened little boy. Every part of Raj - his body, mind and spirit - needed immediate help.

He is not unique, he is one of thousands of children in the same situation. Raj is just one of the lucky few who are rescued.

An old industry in new forms

Slavery has been with us for thousands of years. It has been present in most cultures at one time or another, taking slightly different forms. Like other types of crime it has changed over the centuries, but for many people slavery means what happened in the 19th century. The public often believes slavery ended with the campaigns that brought an end to legal slavery. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Slavery means controlling someone completely using violence, paying them nothing and exploiting them economically. By this measure there are 27 million slaves in the world. Many are kept in a new form of slavery that has emerged since 1945. This slavery is different in one crucial way: Slaves are cheaper today than at any time in human history. Slaves were major capital purchases in the 19th century, today they are so cheap they are disposable. How has this come about?

Three things have pushed slavery through this rapid change. Firstly, the world's population has tripled since 1945, with the bulk of this growth being in the developing world. Secondly, the economic changes of globalisation, combined with war or environmental destruction, have driven people in the developing world both into cities and into desperation.

These impoverished and vulnerable people are a bumper crop of potential slaves. But to turn the vulnerable into slaves you need government corruption. When a bribe can make police turn a blind eye, those with the means of violence (sometimes the police themselves) can harvest slaves. Once harvested, these slaves are different in some ways from those of the past.

Consider slavery in the American South in 1850. At that time, an average slave cost about $1,000; that is about $40,000 today. For that price, clear ownership was expected, and care was taken to protect the investment. The profits to be made were relatively low, but a slave's value meant slaves and masters were bound in long-term, often life-long, relationships.

Compare that to a 14-year-old girl sold into a working class brothel in Thailand today. Her initial purchase price might be less than $1,000. In the brothel, she will be told she must re-pay eight times her purchase price to gain her freedom, as well as rent, food and medicine costs. This is one form of debt bondage slavery.

Despite having sex with 10 to 15 men a night (the normal rate), her debt will keep expanding through false accounting. The profit that her 'owners' make from her can be as high as 800 per cent. Her annual turnover, the amount men pay for her, is around $75,000, though she will not see a penny of that. Her owners will be lucky to get three or four years of use from her since HIV is common in the brothels. But because she was so cheap to begin with, she is easily replaced. If she is ill or injured or just troublesome, she is disposable.

Investing in slavery

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The brothels of Thailand are just one place we find contemporary slavery. Slaves tend to be used in simple, non-technological and traditional work. Most work in agriculture. But slaves are also found in: brickmaking, mining and quarrying, textiles, leather working, prostitution, gem working and jewellery making, cloth and carpet making, working as domestic servants, clearing forests, making charcoal, and working in shops. Most of this work is aimed at local sale and consumption, but slave-made goods filter throughout the global economy and into our homes.

Studies have documented the slave origins of several international products, such as carpets, cotton, shrimp and fish, sugar, tantalum (a mineral used in mobile phones) and jewellery. We may be using slave-made goods or investing in slavery without knowing it. Slave-produced cocoa, for example, goes into the chocolate we buy. Rugs made by slave children in India, Pakistan and Nepal are mainly exported to Europe and the US.

Business has also been pressed to deal with recent revelations about slavery among their suppliers. Filming of slaves on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast led to calls for a boycott of chocolate. The Ivory Coast produces about half of the world's cocoa.

In a unique response, the chocolate industry reached an agreement with anti-slavery and anti-child labour groups to bankroll work to remove slavery from their supply chain. The resulting international cocoa initiative is a true public-private partnership that has moved millions of dollars into preventing child labour and slave labour in West Africa.

The good news ...
If there is good news about modern slavery, it is the strange paradox of its existence today and the unique historical moment in which we live. The 27 million slaves are, in fact, the smallest fraction of the world population to ever live in slavery. The $40 billion they generate as profits for slaveholders is tiny compared to other industries, and is the smallest proportion of the global economy ever represented by slavery. It is so small that no national economy, no industry, would fail if slavery were suddenly ended; only the criminals that control slaves would suffer.

Slavery has been pushed to the dark edges of our global society, it stands on the edge of its own extinction; never has there been a better time to end it once and for all. With slavery illegal in every country and universal agreement on the human right of freedom, the stage is set for complete eradication. This is a special moment in history. Over the past 10 years slavery has come to an end for thousands of people. In different places, different kinds of slavery have been attacked and wiped out.

To fight slavery the growing anti-slavery movement has tried many things, some have failed and some have succeeded, but every attempt taught important lessons. In fact, when it comes to testing the methods of liberation, proof of concept is now complete. Today we know how to get people out of slavery. The question is no longer: Can we get people out of slavery? The question is: How many can be freed and how quickly? And the answer to that question is all about the resources that can be devoted to freeing slaves.

By any measure the cost of liberating and helping freed slaves to rebuild their lives, is a real bargain. It is so remarkably low because most slaves live in countries, like India, where incomes and costs are low. If you calculate the cost of liberation for all 27 million slaves in the world it totals just under $11bn that will need to be spent over a period of 25 to 30 years. That is a lot of money, but in global terms it is small change. It is the cost of the bridge Hong Kong is building across the Pearl River, or what the city of Seattle will spend on its light-rail and monorail system.
Sadly, the sums actually spent on ending slavery, on enforcing their own laws, by all governments range from pathetic to insulting, and are nowhere near what is spent on other serious crimes. Which is all the more frustrating because ending slavery saves money. Careful research on freed communities show a rapid increase in the local economy and a decline in costly environmental destruction and political corruption. There is a clear freedom dividend when slavery ends, liberation soon pays for itself.

We stand at a moment in human history when our economies, governments, understanding, moral beliefs and our hearts are aligned in a constellation that can bring slavery to an end. Our work is limited only by our imaginations, and guided by our common dream, we will achieve a world without slavery.

Kevin Bales is the president of Free the Slaves, the US sister organisation of Anti-Slavery International, and a professor of sociology at Roehampton University in London. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, published in 1999, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Occupy Wall Street's anarchist roots - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Occupy Wall Street's anarchist roots - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Not a protest, but a movement

Tea Party Doomed Deemed too Radical

Washington Monthly, Colin Woodard

Look at America's Geography Shows That the Tea Party Is Doomed

Even as the movement's grip tightens on the GOP, its influence is melting away across vast swaths of America, thanks to centuries-old regional traditions.
2010 Political Map
When 2011 began, the Tea Party movement had reason to think it had seized control of Maine. Their candidate, Paul LePage, the manager of a chain of scrappy surplus-and-salvage stores, had won the governor’s mansion on a promise to slash taxes, regulations, spending, and social services. Republicans had captured both houses of the state legislature for the first time in decades, to the surprise of the party’s leaders themselves. Tea Party sympathizers had taken over the GOP state convention, rewriting the party’s platform to demand the closure of the borders, the elimination of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Department of Education, a prohibition on stimulus spending, a “return to the principles of Austrian Economics,” and a prohibition on “any participation in efforts to create a one world government.” A land developer had been put in charge of environmental protection, a Tea Party activist was made economic development chief, and corporate lobbyists served as the governor’s key advisers. A northern New England state’s rather liberal Democrats and notoriously moderate Republican establishment had been vanquished. 
Or so they thought.

Less than a year later, it’s Maine’s Tea Party that’s on the wane. Prone to temper tantrums and the airing of groundless accusations, Governor LePage—who won office by less than two points in a five-way race, with just 38 percent of the vote—quickly alienated the state party chair and GOP legislative leadership. His populist credentials were damaged when it was revealed that much of his legislative agenda— including a widely condemned proposal to roll all state environmental laws back to weak federal baselines—had been literally cut and pasted from memos sent to his office by favored companies, industrial interests, or their lobbyists. His economic development commissioner was forced to step down after allegedly insulting several (previously friendly) audiences, while a court ruled that his environmental protection nominee violated conflict-of-interest provisions. He triggered international media coverage, a lawsuit, and large protests after removing a mural depicting the history of Maine’s labor movement from the Department of Labor because an anonymous constituent compared it to North Korean “brainwashing.” Eight of twenty GOP state senators blasted the governor’s bellicose behavior in an op-ed carried in the state’s newspapers, the largest of which declared in April that “the LePage era is over.” Power in the state’s diminutive capital, Augusta, now resides with the senate president, a Republican moderate who was Senator Olympia Snowe’s longtime chief of staff.

The Tea Party itself has been all but destroyed in Maine by its association with the debt ceiling hostage takers in Washington, according to Andrew Ian Dodge, founder of the organization Maine Tea Party Patriots and the state movement’s most high-profile activist. “There were people saying, ‘Yes, I think we should default,’ and there were the rest of us saying, ‘You’re insane,’ ” says Dodge, a dark-horse challenger to Snowe. “Now I’m emphasizing my Tea Party links even less because a lot of people think they are the crazy people who almost drove us off a cliff.”

Indeed, in much of the northern tier of the country, the Tea Party has seen a similar reversal of fortune. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—who won by just 6 percent— has faced powerful resistance to his deregulatory, antiunion, antigovernment agenda, including the recall of two of his senatorial allies; his political future is uncertain. In Massachusetts, Tea Party-backed Senator Scott Brown has emerged as a moderate Yankee Republican along the lines of Snowe. In New Hampshire, Tea Party organizer Jack Kimball stepped down as state party chair this September after losing the confidence of the state’s leading Republicans. “This is the establishment Republicans versus the Tea Party that helped get them into office,’’ one angry Tea Party activist said of Kimball’s departure. “They rode us in, now they’re bringing us back to the barn.’’

Citigroup Tries a Fast One on SEC

Citigroup and the SEC

Hallowed by history, but not by reason

Nov 29th 2011, 8:20 by T.E.| NEW YORK
CitiIT WOULD be hard to imagine a more thorough rebuke of how America’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tries to discipline financial firms. In a ruling issued on November 28th, New York District Judge Jed Rakoff rejected a deal between Citigroup and the SEC settling charges over garbage mortgage securities. He called the settlement not just a betrayal of the public interest, but the product of an approach “hallowed by history but not by reason”. It allowed firms to settle allegations without ever acknowledging guilt. This not only failed investors, but—by obscuring the truth—society.
Otherwise, too, the opinion was scathing. Mr Rakoff faulted the SEC for prosecuting Citigroup for negligence when a fraud prosecution was warranted; for failing to provide the court with “any proven or admitted facts upon which to exercise even a modest degree of independent judgment”; for erroneously contending that “public interest…is not part of [the] applicable standard of judicial review”; and for wrongly arguing that “if the public interest must be taken into account, the SEC is the sole determiner”.
“The court concludes, regretfully, that the proposed Consent Judgment is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest,” Mr Rakoff wrote.
Citigroup had agreed to pay a fine of $285m for having issued a mortgage bond that quickly exploded—but provided the bank with $160m in fees. Mr Rakoff called the settlement ludicrous when compared to investor losses of more than $700m. The penalty, he wrote, would likely be regarded by Citigroup as merely a cost of doing business and to “maintain a working relationship with a regulatory agency”.
It is hard to discern, wrote Mr Rakoff, “what the SEC is getting for this settlement other than a quick headline.” Victims of Citigroup’s actions, he added, had their legal prospects wacked multiple times. Above all, private litigation was made difficult by the lack of an admission of guilt. The only transgression mentioned was negligence, which cannot be the basis for a private claim.
Mr Rakoff also attacked a second condition of the settlement. Citigroup had agreed to operate under a court injunction if it ever violated the deal, which could lead to contempt charges. Whatever threat this carried, Mr Rackoff wrote, it was mitigated because Citigroup, as other financial firms, had been cited similarly over the past decade—and never faced any consequences. The threat of a court injunction should rest on “cold, hard, solid fact, established either by admissions or by trials.” Merely establishing the authority of the court without firm cause, “serves no lawful or moral purpose and is simply an engine of oppression.”
By not pushing to link the settlement with a possible crime, Mr Rakoff concluded, the transparency of the financial markets has been compromised. “The SEC, of all agencies, has a duty, inherent in its statutory mission, to see that the truth emerges,” he wrote.
In the absence of an agreement, Mr Rakoff ordered a trial to begin on July 16th. Citigroup and the SEC have the option of striking a new deal or appealing to a higher court. Citigroup put out a brief statement saying it disagreed with the court’s ruling on the fairness of the settlement and noted its divergence from “long-established legal standards”. It added that it was prepared to present “substantial factual and legal defenses” in a trial.
The SEC also issued a statement, but it was far longer and much more testy. It claimed the settlement was in the public interest, fair and in line with decades of precedent. If there was a difference in tone, the reason was that the court’s decision had little to do with Citigroup—and everything with how the SEC understands its mission. Collectively, the statements read as the first step of an appeal—not only to a higher judicial court, but to public opinion.
 Schumpeter, Economist

‪The Humanitarian Crisis of the Gaza Mall‬‏

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1% see crushing of 99% as a morality tale

Perhaps, Americans can better relate to the European crisis if they cast Germany in the Wall Street [1%] mode. Wall Street castigates the Club Med nations [99%] for profligate living using their homes as ATMs. The German govt [GOP] believe the 'immoral' 99% deserve punishment in the form of a Great Depression.

Germany: punishes Europe for World War losses

Perhaps, Americans can better relate to the European crisis if they cast Germany in the Wall Street [1%] mode. Wall Street castigates the Club Med [99%] for profligate living using their homes as ATMs. The German govt [GOP] believe the 'immoral' 99% deserve punishment in the form of a Great Depression.

Perhaps the worst of the policy errors during the post-World War I period was the insistence of the Allies that Germany pay war reparations — reparations that went far beyond anything that the defeated Germans could afford. As the victors, the Allies felt that it was only fair for Germany to pay for the terrible war it had waged, and they didn’t much care about whether such payments would cripple the German economy.
Which, of course, they did; by the early 1930s, the country was effectively bankrupt. And the Allies’ unrelenting demand for reparations bred immense resentment among the German people. There is not much doubt that this combination of public anger and economic distress helped facilitate the rise of Adolf Hitler.
Today, it is Germany that is making policy moves that seem insane. Locked into their modern-day orthodoxies, German politicians look at Greece with something akin to contempt. Aid to Greece — aid that is given grudgingly, when it is given at all — must be accompanied by severe austerity measures, the Germans believe, because the Greeks need to learn how to live within their means, the way Germans do.
For months, Germany has strongly supported the European Central Bank’s unwillingness to do the one thing that might have stemmed the euro crisis: buy and guarantee large amounts of distressed sovereign debt. When I asked Martin Wolf, The Financial Times columnist whose crisis coverage has been indispensible, why the E.C.B. was reluctant to act, he theorized that it “accepts the German view that monetizing government debt is inherently immoral.” As a result, though, what should have been a small crisis centering on Greek debt has turned into a full-fledged European contagion.
You would think that all of this would be obvious to the Germans. But it is not. Germany can’t get past the fact that it is being asked to bail out “club med” countries where no one pays taxes and everyone retires at the age of 50. From the German perspective, it doesn’t seem fair. And that overwhelms even the most powerful economic arguments that bailing out Greece and the other distressed countries also helps Germany.
The Germans, of course, are hardly alone in allowing their sense of righteousness to get in the way of sensible policy. 
Joe Nocera, The New York Times

Perhaps, Americans can better relate to the European crisis if they cast Germany in the Wall Street [1%] mode. Wall Street castigates the Club Med [99%] for profligate living using their homes as ATMs. The German govt [GOP] believe the 'immoral' 99% deserve punishment in the form of a Great Depression.

Ohio: Say good-bye to potable water

Kasich, Koch and Big-Industry Bucks: Why Ohio Is the Next Fracking Frontier
Mike Ludwig, Truthout: "Fracking opponents in southern Ohio won a victory last week when the United States Forest Service (USFS) withdrew more than 3,000 acres of public lands from a federal oil and gas lease sale scheduled for December 7, 2012. The USFS announced that it needed more time to review the potential effects of fracking after receiving petitions and letters from local leaders who used the old-fashioned method of collecting signatures to catch the attention of government officials."
Read the Article

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream - Watch Now - Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream - Watch Now - Al Jazeera English

Egypt: Beautiful Photos of Cairenes

My former neighbor, Miguel Angel Sanchez, is featured by the NYT's photography blog. I've been talking to Miguel about his project for years, and stupidly have not yet taken up his offer of a portrait. Check out the slideshow here.
On the right, Amm Rabia, a super-friendly bawaab on our street, now immortalized.
The Arabist

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Signs Own Death Warrant

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 01:45 AM PST
Today Egyptians are voting for their new parliament, and the Muslim Brotherhood is widely expected to garner more votes than any other party.

Reader Alice has found what appears to be a legitimate Muslim Brotherhood "Election Program" published on the web, in English.

Some highlights:

...We seek to play an active and influential part:

Affirming the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their land, and highlighting the duty of governments and peoples of Arab and Muslim countries, especially Egypt, to aid and support the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance against the Zionist usurpers of their homeland.
This means all of Israel, and the wording hardly limits itself to "non-violent" resistance.

Endeavouring to achieve full integration and cooperation in all fields with Sudan in order to ensure its safety and territorial integrity and achieve security, stability and development, including the activation of the Four Freedoms Agreement, so that we can attain true unity as a nucleus for achieving historically desired Arab unity.
The MB does not like independence for South Sudan and wants to roll back that achievement - next door to Egypt.

We appreciate the importance of restoring the role of Egypt in the Islamic domain and the need to strengthen relations with Islamic countries, especially Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, etc.
No Sunni/Shi'a issues here. The MB loves Iran, and vice versa.
Securing Egypt's quota of Nile water and defeat Zionist plots in this regard.
There is some background behind this one. For years, there has been talk in southern Sudan to create the Jonglei Canal, which would increase the amount of water available to the Nile by 10-15 billion cubic meters. It has never been completed. According to a report last year, Israel offered to complete this project - where everyone would gain more water - in exchange for the right to purchase a percentage of that water at a discount. I have no idea whether this report was true. But Egyptians were upset at the very idea of selling Israel any water - even if they would gain water as a result!

Encourage the film industry, both financially and morally.
Emphasis on the freedom of the press and freedom of publication of newspapers, magazines,and various other paper and electronic publications without any legal or administrative obstacles, as long as the publication abides by the Constitution and the law and takes account of public morality.

Apply a "code of honour" for the use of the internet that depends on a culture of self-immunisation rather than external censorship; to assist the protection of public morality and values in Egyptian society, with emphasis on the prevention of pornography downloads or uploads, and use of all technical and legal ways to achieve this
Ah, the "Freedom" and Justice Party.

[I]t is of paramount importance to restore to Egypt its religious leadership position in Arab, Islamic and global domains.
Yes, this is a political platform.

The family is the oldest institution on earth. It‟s also the first incubator for breeding and upbringing of humans. To realise the importance of focusing on the construction of the family unit as a means for making and shaping the good Egyptian citizen, let's look at the outcome of the previous decades of exposure systematic corruption implemented by several parties, especially the National Council for women, the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and a whole list of civil society organisations that receive foreign funds from suspicious sources. Those were helped along down that slimy slope with a package of corrupt laws passed not due to public demand, but were the result of international dictates imposed on us by international conventions signed under the previous regime.

Thirty years ago, Egypt joined an international convention for women called the "Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)" although this Convention controls the most private of the marital relationship details. Do any members of our great public know that Egypt is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which allows a child to choose the family to live with? Do Egyptians realise that they are obliged to accept homosexuals and treat them in the best and kindest way possible, in compliance with those agreements?? Not to mention the legalisation of adoption in ways strictly forbidden in Islamic law?! Was it not our right as citizens in this country to have referenda on such conventions and agreements that control the finest details of our lives and our family relationships? Since this was not done at thetime these conventions were signed, it is our right – as a people proud of their identity and religion
– to insist on re-consideration of those agreements. Then they should be re-evaluated in terms of suitability to our culture, traditions and established values. We should have the first and last word on accession to those conventions.
Surprisingly, however, the platform does not call for Egypt to cut off natural gas shipments to Israel, but rather to increase the price of the gas to bring in some $18 billion of additional revenue annually.
Elder of Ziyon

Germany: 70th anniversary of Hitler's pact w Mufti

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 04:30 AM PST
Germany stands for an uncompromising struggle against the Jews. It is self-evident that the struggle against the Jewish national homeland in Palestine forms part of this struggle, since such a national homeland would be nothing other than a political base for the destructive influence of Jewish interests. Germany also knows that the claim that Jewry plays the role of an economic pioneer in Palestine is a lie. Only the Arabs work there, not the Jews. Germany is determined to call on the European nations one by one to solve the Jewish problem and, at the proper moment, to address the same appeal to non-European peoples....At some not yet precisely known, but in any case not very distant point in time, the German armies will reach the southern edge of the Caucasus. As soon as this is the case, the Führer will himself give the Arab world his assurance that the hour of liberation has arrived. At this point, the sole German aim will be the destruction of the Jews living in the Arab space under the protection of British power.
---Adolf Hitler to Haj Amin Al-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem, November 28, 1941

The Mufti of Jerusalem was the undisputed leader of Palestinian Arab nationalism from the 1920s through the 1940s, and his hatred of Jews pervaded all he did.

It will be recalled that the Mufti was given his position by the British because he was regarded as a "moderate." This is what gave him the platform to start his career of inciting against and murdering Jews in earnest.

He was responsible for the anti-Jewish pogroms in Palestine in 1920, 1921 and 1929; he initiated the deadly riots from 1936-1939, and he initiated contact with the Nazis as soon as they came to power in order to come up with ways to work together with them to get rid of the Jews.

Not only that, but towards the end of the war, he pulled out all the stops to murder Jewish children rather than have them rescued - even when the desperate Nazis were considering swapping them for money or for German prisoners. Meaning that his desire to murder Jews exceeded even that of Hitler himself.

The Mufti was an unrepentant anti-semite and desired nothing less than the complete genocide of the entire Jewish people, every man, woman and child.

Today, November 28th, is the anniversary of the Mufti's seminal meeting with Hitler where the Fuehrer explained his genocidal plans in detail to his kindred anti-semite.

Today, the Mufti of Jerusalem is considered a hero among Palestinian Arab leadership.

One year ago, Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech,
We must also recall the outstanding [early] leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Palestine -- Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, who sponsored the struggle from the beginning, and sponsored the struggle and was displaced for the cause and died away from his home."

The Mufti isn't a Palestinian Arab hero despite his Jew-hatred.

He is a hero because of it.

Elder of Ziyon

Iran: Huge Explosion Rips Isfahan Home to Nuke Program

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 08:49 AM PST
FARS News is reporting on a huge explosion in Isfahan, Iran. No details yet.

Isfahan hosts a Nuclear Technology Center, a Uranium Conversion Facility and a Zirconium Production Plant that helps make alloys for nuclear reactors.

According to the article, it happened at 2:40 AM.

For the occasion, a poster:

UPDATE: The FARS story has disappeared. Here's what the autotranslate looked like before it went down the memory hole:

Twitter updates/rumors:

A BBC reporter tweets his father in Isfahan heard the explosion.

Israel's Channel 10 reports that an explosion was at Shahab 4 ballistic missile site; unclear if it is the same one or where they got the information from.

Second Iranian news source confirms it, unclear if it was 2:40 AM or PM.

And another confirmation.

Iranian tweeters are all saying it was either an arms depot or an ammunition depot.

Isfahan's governor is now claiming that it was from a "military exercise."

Deputy governor says, "I dunno."

I've seen a few stories saying it happened near the gate to Shiraz University.

Mehr claims it was from a gas station explosion.

PressTV quotes officials denying the story altogether. 
Elder of Ziyon

Syria:army shoots at family trying to flee to Jordan

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:20 AM PST
From Jordan Times:
Shots rang out at the Jordanian-Syrian border late Sunday as Syrian forces attempted to prevent civilians from entering the Kingdom, hours after an Arab League decision to impose sanctions on Damascus.

Syrian soldiers opened fire on a married couple and their young child as they attempted to enter the Kingdom late yesterday near the Jaber border crossing, some 90 kilometres north of the capital, according to Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Rakan Majali.

The Syrian family arrived in the Kingdom and received emergency medical attention, Majali indicated.

Incidents like this one, which occurred hours after the Arab League endorsed a series of economic sanctions targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, have become “commonplace” over the past few months, he said.

“This has now become a very normal incident that happens nearly every day, but often without notice,” Majali told The Jordan Times.

According to Majali, the woman was rushed to Mafraq Military Hospital where medical sources indicated she was listed in serious condition as of late yesterday, adding that her husband and child were not injured in the incident.

The incident will not register a response from the Jordanian government, the spokesperson said, noting that the Kingdom will continue to extend efforts to “ensure the humanitarian protection” of Syrian civilians.

The humanitarian impact of the Syrian crisis has become an increasing concern for Jordan, which has hosted thousands of civilians fleeing violence since mid-February, with over 1,500 Syrians registered with the UN refugee agency.
Jordan has been keeping a very low profile in regards to Syrian refugees; we hear about the ones who fled to Turkey and Lebanon but not much about Syrians who flee to Jordan. I'm surprised that there are 1,500 of them.
Elder of Ziyon

Egypt: stone thrower arrested; had 50 shekels

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 12:45 PM PST
Al Ahram reports that a stone thrower in Alexandria was arrested - and found to have 50 shekels in Israeli currency on him.

Michael Awad Hanna , 21, is a clothing salesman from the Giza governate, and was apprehended while throwing stones. He said that another protester gave the money to him.

The implication, of course, is that Israel is fomenting riots in Egypt.

To their credit, the commenters are mercilessly ripping apart the story, asking if the Mossad is so stupid as to pay in shekels, which are pretty worthless in Egypt, rather than euros or dollars.
 Elder of Ziyon