Saturday, December 29, 2012

(Video) Obama Watermelon Statue: 'he maybe was hungry round these parts'



Thursday, December 27, 2012

(note from the editor) new design for the new year

Dear Carnage Report readers,

As you can see the site design has changed which just one of the many things that will change on this blog. but what will stay the same is the quality of content we put out.

we will soon add a new page section to this blog so get ready for it.  Feel free to comment below on the new site design. Hate it or love it, we want to know!  

(Business) Smartphones: smartphone envy on the rise






Love them or hate them, smartphones are here to stay. The market growth of smartphones has been explosive over the last couple of years, and has swamped us with thousands of phones to choose from. Gone are the days when the sole purpose of a mobile phone was to make phone calls; today, your phone is a powerful computer that fits in your pocket. The usefulness and popularity of smartphones can’t be ignored with smartphone addiction becoming a major thing.

The continuous onslaught of newer and faster models of these smartphones have spawned a first world problem called ‘smartphone envy’. While all smartphones manufacturers advertise their latest model as the best phone ever made, how many customers actually feel so after buying it? Less than half, if recent studies are to be believed. No matter how expensive and advanced your phone is, pretty soon you’ll feel that it has become obsolete.

A survey reveals that one fifth of all iPhone owners suffer from smartphone envy. The biggest reason behind is that most people buy these expensive phones on a contract, which means that they are stuck with it for at least 2 years. So even if an iPhone is the best phone available, the allure of a newer phone keeps on nagging. Within 2 years, hundreds of new smartphone models flood the market, but people already on contract can’t buy them. While it is indeed possible to pay extra to get out of a contract for an early upgrade, the high cost is a major deterrent, forcing them to live out their contract with their obsolete smartphone.

Another major reason behind smartphone envy is the software itself. For example, if you’ve got an iPhone, you’re forced to use iOS, which has its own limitations. While most iOS users might boast about the stability and availability of awesome apps for the platform, they can’t overlook the extremely closed and inflexible nature of the operating system. Similarly, while Android users like the open source nature of the platform, they are envious of the exclusiveness and stability of iOS. Blackberry users used to boast about the exclusiveness of the BBM service until the gradual decline of RIM started. Blackberry users very envious of iOS and Android because of their stocked up app stores and touch based interface.

Many users believe their smartphone envy exists because of the lack of availability of apps for their smartphones. Windows phone users are right on the top in this department, because the number of people developing for this platform is almost nil. Microsoft so far has failed in its efforts to woo third party developers in a way Apple and Google have, and therefore its users suffer from the worst case of smartphone envy.

While Apple app store is safe, well stocked, and the most user friendly app store around, the closed structure and Apple’s vigorous censorship has put many people off. Apple users are envious of Android users because they have more freedom to install whatever they want on their device. But then, developers flock to Apple because of the higher income, and Android users miss out on some great apps which are available for iOS only. While this might be gradually changing, but for app developers the top priority platform is still iOS, and is expected to remain for quite some time.

The constant state of battle between major manufacturers adds fuel to the prevalent smartphone envy in customers. Even though a big majority of users do not use their smartphone to its full potential, the desire to remain up to date nudges them to splurge their money on the latest gadget. If you too are a victim of smartphone envy, do your research and, if possible, try out the new handset you desire and make an intelligent decision.

Monday, December 24, 2012

(note from the editor) Merry Christmas Carnage Report Readers!!!


Dear Readers,

The Carnage Report wishes all of you who have read this blog faithfully over the last few years a merry Christmas and a very happy new year.

2013 will be a big year for this blog as we plan add new and interesting content to this site and widen the blog's reach and brand.

We will still provide quality content for you, just more of it and at a faster pace. we want to become a more interactive blog so from now on, don't be afraid to share your thoughts with us as only with your input can The Carnage Report become a better blog.

This message will be the first post of the new 'Note From The Editor' feature that will update news of fresh developments on the blog as well as comment on the latest stories in the media from the editor. 

It will also you the chance to interact with the editor as we are more than willing to hear what you have say about our blog and the content we put out.

Thank you for reading

Alex Clarke
Editor
The Carnage Report 



  

  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

(Video) UK Bank Account: nationwide explain how to open a bank account


(Business) Bank Accounts: the world without one




For most of us would find it pretty difficult to imagine a world without a bank account. Think about it, no bargains on eBay, every transaction having to done face to face and cash in hand, but this a reality for a diminishing but still surprising number of people in the west and beyond.  

According to Business insider’s Tim Chen, “there are 30 million consumers, representing a quarter of US households, who earn a collective $1.3 trillion a year. But banks don’t want to serve them”[1]. The “unbanked and underbanked” segment of the US population have fallen victim to well-meaning new legislation enacted by congress that was “aimed at protecting them from high bank fees”, instantly making straightforward bank account unprofitable for banks[2].

With this gap in the market left right open, companies who offer cash in hand services have stepped to fill void such as “check cashers, payday lenders and pawnbrokers...”[3].  This new paradigm in banking has made rather unattractive for low income customers as banks have been hostile towards them to say the least as congress legislation has “slashed banks’ profits on debit card transactions

However, not everybody has been kept from having bank accounts because of banks hostility to low income customers. Due to Northern Ireland irrationally strict bankruptcy laws, people who have fell on hard times could end up spending a year without a bank account due to the strange fact that “no-one is legally entitled to a bank account”[4].  The real price however is inconvenience as it does require some legwork to get what should rather simple transactions sorted.

In the UK, the general mood of unhappiness of people and their banks was underlined by a report were members of the British public expressed their discontent in a YouGov and Henley Business Survey that revealed that “65 (percent) of customers that banks were failing to improve their customer service”[5]In sum opening a bank account in the UK or anywhere else is relatively simple but with the changes in the regulation of banks and what they can charge, banks can, and often will, become hostile towards the their least profitable customers, leaving a gap in the market for other less reputable players.   



[1] T. Chen, 2012, 30 million Americans Don’t Have A Bank Account Thanks to the Banks,  http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-01-06/news/30596697_1_overdraft-fees-durbin-amendment-bank-account
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] J. McCullough, 2012, Bankrupt man speaks of life without a bank account, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19260718
[5] E. Simon, 2012, 14 million would switch to another bank, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/banking/9625974/14m-would-switch-to-another-bank.html

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Backgrounder) Money Laundering: What Is Money Laundering?






Over the last few weeks, we have heard a lot banks about Banks Laundering money belonging to organized crime operations, rogue states and even terrorist networks. In this backgrounder, The Carnage Report will answer the question; what exactly is money laundering?

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is the process by which illegally attained funds are put through a series of transactions so that when it comes out at the end it becomes money that is attained legally. Typically the money is deposited into an off shore account, foreign bank, or business that keeps few records. This allows for the money to then be transferred back as a tax exempt legal currency.

The act of money laundering was established as a criminal act back in 1919 in the USA. However due to the lack of documentation banks were required to carry, many  instances of laundering went unnoticed. In 1970, the United States congress passed the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). Because of the Bank Secrecy Act, forms were introduced to create a paper trail for banks and the IRS to follow like bread crumbs. This allowed the IRS to disrupt and destroy many money laundering operations and organizations most notable related to the mafia, drug trafficking, and other less than reputable ventures.

Money Laundering Examples Relating to Current Affairs

There have been many money laundering operations that have come to light within this past few years. The RBS ( Royal Bank of Scotland) has been in trouble as recently as last July with the US Federal Reserve for suspected breaking of the American trade sanctions with rogue nations, including Iran. This probe derailed the sell-off of RBS's US subsidiary, Citizens to Santander a Spanish based bank. The well-known ING Bank back in June was slapped with a $619 million settlement for an investigation into compliance with the United States sanctions levied against Iran, Cuba, and numerous other countries.

At the time, it was the biggest fine ever paid by a banking institution to settle accusations, wrapped in facts, for money laundering. During the investigation by the Treasury Department, there were more than twenty thousand transactions found with deleted or manipulated information. This allowed individuals in countries under sanctions to move money into and out of the United States. Lloyds TSB reached a settlement with the United States and New York State back in January for $350 million. They admitted to moving more than $300mil for Iranian clients by stripping personal information to hide the identity of their clients.

Not to be out done, Credit Suisse has been laid with a $539 million in monetary penalties for its connection to violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and of course New York State law. The Swiss banking giant saw an increase in its dealings with Iranian financial firms by almost 400% from 2002 at about 49,000 transactions to 2005 reaching over 200,000 transactions. This was because in 2003 the Lloyds TSB stopped clearing activity for its Iranian clients. Those clients switched to the less regulated bank, Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse went from just stripping information to forming a team called the “specially designated payment team” that manually reviewed over 95% of all transactions from Iranian clients.  These are just some of the recent banks to settle or be fined for failing money laundering practices. However, there is one that must be talked about in detail as it is extremely recent in news.
           
The current biggest known money laundering case would be the HSBC snafu in which the settlement for the fine and forfeit of illegal moneys was estimated at around $1.92 billion. Back in July 2012, there was a 300 page report compiled for a United States Senate committee finding failure upon failure that HSBC was being used as an aqueduct for drug cartels and rogue nations to funnel money into the United States financial system. This led United States authorities to the nearly $2 billion fine against HSBC for failing to stop laundering under the banking systems. 

The most note-worthy to me would be the dealings with Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank. The Al Rajhi Bank was a member of Osama bin Ladin's “Golden Chain” of Al Qaeda financiers. The decades of dealings made it hard for HSBC to cut off their ties. Their own internal compliance offices asked for dealings to be terminated as early as 2005. The United States government even had hard evidence of the terrorist relationships that Al Rajhi Bank had, but HSBC still continued to do business with them until 2010.

In another branch, HSBC Mexico failed to close accounts of high-profile clients that were involved in drug trafficking. Both Mexican and United States authorities expressed deep concern over the ability of drug trafficker to circumvent the Anti-Money laundering regulations of US banks by first transporting US dollars to Mexico and then using HBMX 
(branch of HSBC in Mexico) to ship the money into the United States. To look further for an example, the HBMX shopped over $7 billion to the United States main body HSBC. 

Of course, HSBC classed Mexico as a low-risk country and continued to fail to adequately monitor its dealings and transfers of money into and out of the country. This is just part of the many money laundering problems that the HSBC had in the “closet”. Though this is a major blow to the money laundering practices around the world, it is still sad to see HSBC not be brought up on criminal indictment charges that would have further stressed the severe penalties for pursuing money laundering as an acceptable form of business. Still the criminal indictment was only dropped after attaining the high fines by the prosecutors.

Final Thoughts

Obviously everything here boils down to one simple thing. Greed. With so many banks around the world failing to enforce anti-money laundering practices, I find my trust and the trust of the people is being eroded to the point where it is becoming hard to maintain a positive outlook towards banks. Now, do not get me wrong. Banks are a needed commodity for business and clients from all walks of life, but the more failures and corruption are displayed for the world to see; the more it hurts the economic stability of the all nations. This is because banks are built on a type of trust. A trust that should be without doubt, but that is becoming an extremely rare commodity. So, I urge everyone to be wary and keep watch for money laundering is just the tip of the ice-burg in a far greater problem of rampant corruption in our financial institutions. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Video) Westboro Baptist Church: Unnatural Allies


(Video) Instagram Privacy: Privacy For Cash


(Opinion) Sandy Hook Massacre: Gun Control Legislation Cannot Be Denied Any Longer




Sandy Hook Massacre


This article will not recount the horror and carnage that took place on Friday December 14th as the events that transpired on that day are seared into the collective American consciousness and beyond. What this article will address in length is the reaction to such a tragedy as all that can be done now is to remember and bury the 20 children and 7 adults who perished and do everything possible to make such an act doesn’t happen again.  

President Obama has accomplished much in his four years in office, he has made sure women are paid the same amount as men for the same work, he has rid this world of the menace of Osama Bin Laden and a played a large role in saving the American automotive industry but has been disappointingly silent on the need for gun control.

Gun control is a difficult issue to negotiate for democrats and republicans as the democrats appear not have to have the stomach for a showdown with the powerful and influential gun lobby and the republicans operate as wholly owned subsidiary of it. However after the Sandy Hook Massacre, such excuses will not quell the ground swell across the nation calling for something to be done on guns.

Political expediency is no excuse to do nothing in the face of great tragedy, while this not the first mass shooting the president has done little to combat, with the death of  27 people, most of which were children, president Obama surely does not want to be known as the president who did nothing in response to the cold blooded murder of 27 American citizens.

The president has had the opportunity to address prevalence of guns in American society but has shirked the opportunity to act or even comment at any length on the need for gun control. Four major mass shootings have taken place under Obama’s Presidency, which is, obviously four too many. He must do everything to prevent there being a fifth tragedy, making inaction an national travesty and personal shame on the president as he, through doing nothing reneges on his first duty as president of the united states, keep his fellow citizens safe from all threats foreign and domestic.  

Obama must take on the powerful gun lobby and pro-gun republicans in coming up with smart and needed gun control legislation starting with a ban on assault rifles and automatic weapons as such weapons have only one function: to kill and maim whatever and whoever they are aimed at.

In conclusion, there are no excuses for the Obama Whitehouse and congress not acting on putting together reasonable gun control legislation in the face of unspeakable horror and pain simply because time, the American people will except nothing less than bold action, the price for the failure to act will serve as a vindication of why political institutions in America are hated by it citizens. It will also be a personal shame on a president who promised so much back in 2008 who would been seen by fellow citizens to have reneged on his highest duty as president above all else; to keep fellow Americans safe.              

(Video) Mike Huckabee: God and Guns


(Opinion) Fracking: Fracking-Yes or No?


Gasland Halliburton  300x168 ‘Gasland’ film blows the fracking top off US natural gas industry


What is Fracking?

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a process to extract natural gas from Shale rock layers that involves injecting chemicals, often toxic, and gallons of water under high pressure. Hydraulic fracturing is different than just drilling as it is injecting fluid in the veins of a rock and expanding them. With such a great amount of pressure and chemicals, the rock shatters releasing the gas flow.

By doing this it creates new channels in which the natural gases can be extracted from the rock. Unlike oil, cases that use this method are doing so because putting any type of drill into the rock instantly creates enough friction to produce sparks which could easily light the natural gases on fire. Send the whole project exploding. This is why the men are required to keep a constant vigil on the equipment and materials they use.

Use of Fracking

Fracking was started in 1947, now it is used extensively for extracting natural gas. Britain's government welcomes the resumption of fracking. Lancashire signals green to the company Cuadrilla resources. Government of Northern Ireland is considering fracking by an Australian company, Tamboran which has a license to explore the method of gas extraction in County Fermangh. In the US, California has yet to begin fracking in earnest. In Montery County, the Denver based Oil Company Venoco has been given a green signal. Fracking, though is yet to be used in many parts of the world, yet we come across many such massive uses of fracking globally.

Induced hydraulic fracturing is commonly used to either increase the flow or restore the flow of fluids in a rock like petroleum, water, and natural gas. Typically these are used on porous sandstone, lime stones or dolomite rocks and sometimes include shale or coal beds. Also, this tends to be used for rocks that are 1,000 – 6,000 miles below the surface as the depth may cause there to not be enough pressure to allow natural gas and oil to flow from the rocks into the well bore at the rates of the current economy. This method can cause super fracking which provides a wealthy yield of gases for about a year or two and then drops off at an extreme rate.

The way that this fluid is applied is it is poured down a hole and into the rocks below, spreading it to the rock bed below to make it exceed the pressure rate of the rock. Once the crack forms the fluid seeps further in to the rock and does not stop. The operator uses prop-pant to slow the rate of fracturing so that when the fluid stops the prop-pant stops the cracks from refilling and stopping the rate of fluid. Once the fluid begins to stop it needs to be controlled before it begins to change the geometry of the cracks of other rock beds and materials beside it, otherwise it could damage that areas fracture rate which would decrease product efficiency.


The equipment used with oils and natural gas is a more slurry blender with a high pressure fracturing pump with a monitor to watch it all.

Prop-pants consists of many things as prop-pant is just a generalized name including several different materials. These could be silica sand, resin-coated sand, or man-made ceramics. The type of prop-pant depends on the gradient that they are working with and the strength that is needed. While the most common is the silica sand, the man-made ceramics are more efficient in doing the job. Due to higher porosity of the fracture, more gases flow through and are collected.

Fracking Controversy

So, now that we know about what fracking, and what it is used for, let's talk about controversy. The controversy has been running since fracking was first implemented in 1947. There is always a chance of the chemicals escaping into under ground water sources. There are many diseases that can result from this because when it happens the contaminated water is left in a severely unhealthy state.

That being said, the news of the world has had a massive amount of coverage on this controversy lately. In the UK last year, fracking was put on hold due to the gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources being linked to a series of strong earthquakes. Now, the UK has given the go ahead for fracking to resume but only under super strict regulations. In the USA, there have been numerous displays of fracking gone bad. In Michigan, many gas explorer companies are renewing interest in the deposits there. California is still on hold to start fracking projects of their own.

Multiple states including Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Texas have had massive fracking projects run to.Sadly, in every place that has been listed, there have been multiple cases of chronic health problems due to the mishandling of waste, contamination of drinking water, and even the air. The off set of viable energy, money, and so forth is not a viable reason to me and certainly not to the people who actually have received health problems from this energy “boon”.

Look at the study done by professor Robert W. Howarth of Cornell University, in it he quotes that 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane escaping from shale-gas productions happens of the lifetime of the well. Breathing methane in small amounts is not very detrimental to the health of a person. However, at these rates the concentration is enough to cause many health problems like unstable emotions, nausea, vomiting, respiratory collapse, and in extreme cases death. I mention this because methane is a main ingredient in natural gas production. Many places that use fracking inversely effect the surrounding cities, towns, and landscapes because of this and the amount of chemicals and water being forced into places it was never meant to go.


In 2010, Josh Fox released the movie “Gas-Land” depicting the effects of fracking on different communities in the USA.  Because the U.S. Created this method, almost all the environmental impact studies have been based here. The is also a final concern about water consumption is arid places where it can affect water supplies. Here an average well's requirement is 3 to 8 million US gallons (11,000 to 30,000 m3) of water, typically within one week.


Conclusion

It is still an issue of debate whether using fracking is safe and should be allowed or not, yet the ever growing demand and pressing price of oil makes it nearly impossible to deny its use. There have been many conventions coming to argue that it is unsafe, and though it is, almost all of them are area based. Some areas experience more health issues than others, some have to repair the environment that they're in, but other areas are not even effected or phased by the fluid. The fact that the damage is so dependent on the area in which the fracking takes place makes it difficult to determine whether the whole of the regime is safe or not. However, with how unstable our world is becoming, it is time for us as people to find a better way of doing things for our future. We have the technology. So, why don't we use it wisely.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Video) Black Metrologist firing :when keeping it rational goes wrong


The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur and Anna Kasparian share their thoughts on a truly bizarre sacking of a African-American Meteorologist responding to online comment about her hair.  

(Opinion) Avigdor Lieberman: Good Riddance


While most politicians are met with suspicion or indifference, you cannot meet Avigdor Lieberman with either the former or the latter as he has said a comment that will leave you in no doubt that he is “one of the most unpleasant politicians in the middle east”(1).  From considering that Arabs in Israel should “sign loyalty oaths” and openly suggesting that the democratically elected “leaders of the Hamas militant movement in the Palestinian territories be assassinated”, Lieberman has allowed no room for observers to question where he stands in the middle peace process(2).

His ideology is making Jerusalem Israel’s capital has been antithetical to the peace process as further seizure of Jerusalem will  remove the two-state solution as a viable option. Lieberman has no problem sharing his opinion about Jerusalem as in “in addressing a groups of foreign diplomats” Lieberman stated that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel and that it will never be divided-neither directly nor indirectly”(3). Lieberman is fully invested in this vision as he is seen as a “champion of Jewish settlement in the West Bank and a settler himself”(4).

He has managed to antagonize allies as he told then Egyptian president and one of Israel’s best allies in the Middle East, Hosni Mubarak that he “should visit Israel or “go to hell”(5).  The use of language has been cited as divisive to the point that journalist Robert Fisk compared Lieberman’s language to “Mladic, Karadzic and Milosevic” as his language his rife with references “of executions-of drowning, of hell and legal oaths”(6).

So you can imagine the joy met with the news that Lieberman was resigning in lieu of a “financial scandal”(7). While Lieberman managed to escape the “more serious offences” against him, “including money laundering and bribery”, he did not escape lesser charges as prosecutors “charged Lieberman with the lesser offence of receiving official material from the investigation against him”(8).

However, unfortunately, this is likely not to be the last we will see of Lieberman because of the lesser charge and the lack of evidence of the eye catching indictments. In sum, the world would be a better place without him near a speakerphone or  even better, a diplomatic mission, anywhere.      




[1] R. Frisk, 2009, Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East,  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-avigdor-lieberman-is-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen-to-the-middle-east-1647370.html
[2] CBC News, 2009, Jewish settlers’ champion could be next Israel I foreign minister, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/03/16/avigdor-coalition.html
[3] B. Ravid, 2010,  Jerusalem is our eternal  capital, it will never be divided, http://www.haaretz.com/news/lieberman-jerusalem-is-our-eternal-capital-it-will-never-be-divided-1.284574
[4] CBC News, 2009, Jewish settlers’ champion could be next Israel I foreign minister, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/03/16/avigdor-coalition.html
[5] R. Frisk, 2009, Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East,  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-avigdor-lieberman-is-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen-to-the-middle-east-1647370.html
[6] Ibid
[7] BBC News, 2012, Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman charged with breach of trust,                                      
[8] Ibid

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(Video) Immortal technique: Immortal technique speaks at We Are Change Connecticut


Rapper/Activist Immortal Technique speaks to a captive We Are Change Connecticut audience with Cornell West  

(Video) Michigan 'Right to Work' laws: the slow death of the worker continues


The Young Turks reports on the response by workers to the newly enacted 'right to work' laws in Michigan. 

(Book Review) Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0 by Michael Taylor









More and more, we find ourselves in an age where we are inundated with information, most of which has no use to us. We are in need of a method or technique to frame our thoughts and control the flow of information we take in. Confronting this reality, this book helps us take in information and frame our thoughts through the method of mind mapping.


Mind mapping is a useful and deceptively simple tool to organize and frame our thoughts. It helps us think about things differently as we note information differently than the traditional way of note taking. It is designed to make its user record and use information the exact way our brains take in and interprets information.

Mind Mapping has positive implications for all of us in the information age as we seek to educate ourselves and learn about new subjects. Specially, as we come across new experiences shaping our thinking and ultimately how we react in the world.

In sum, this book is a must grab is it does what most books you encounter don’t; help you deal effectively with a new reality and, through some trial and error, adapt to it.

Get your copy of  Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 2.0 
here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

(Video) Oliver Stone: Young Turks Interview


The legendary writer/director talks to the Young Turks Cenk Uygur about his new book and TV project The Untold History of the United States




Check out The Untold History of the United States airing on showtime at 8 pm

(opinion) Egypt unrest: what’s in a constitution?





There are many things you can say about constitutions but one thing you can’t say is that they do not matter. While previous Egyptian governments have been less than faithful to the 1971 constitution, the referendum on the much disputed draft constitution will be a major event in the country’s history as the country reconfigures its social contract. In theory, the drafting of the Egypt’s politico-legal architecture should be rational process where all concerns are heard and considered in the final document; however we live in a world of fact and power struggles.

The draft constitution, largely written by the Muslim brotherhood, as you might expect, favour Islamic traditions and laws, secularist and liberals however see the draft constitution as an affront to the principles they fought for in getting rid of Hosni Mubarak and have subsequently boycotted talks with the brotherhood[1].  

However the concerns of secularists and liberals about the draft constitution soon to be subject to referendum as the document, for the most part, merely adds changes that further mainly Islamic interests while weakening traditional liberal rights free speech as while the new constitution mildly deviates from the 1971 constitution position stipulating that “the state shall guarantee the freedom of belief and the freedom of practice of religious rites”, the new constitution  while enshrining free speech in article 45 prohibits the “insulting (of) prophets and messengers” in article 44[2].

The real demarcations between the two constitutions are to be found over the rights of women. Article 11 of the 1971 constitution, actually recognizes the rights of women as the document ensures:

"The state shall guarantee the proper balance between the duties of women towards the family and their work in society, considering their equal status with men in the fields of political, social, cultural and economic life without violation of the rules of Islamic jurisprudence"[3].
While the draft constitution recognizes the rights of Egyptians, it falls short of a “explicit guarantee of women’s rights”[4]. To end on a good note, the draft constitution limits the ‘presidential mandate’ to four years from the 1971 constitution’s six while ensuring that presidents can only serve two terms instead of the “unlimited number of terms” in the 1971 constitution[5].

In sum, the power struggles will continue whether the draft constitution is ratified or not with pro-brotherhood forces calling for greater enshrinement of Islam in the constitution while liberals will demand more rights. In the end, as suspected, both sides will probably be disappointed with the results.  


[1] BBC News, 2012, Comparison of Egypt’s suspended and draft constitutions, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20555478
[2] Ibid, quoted by BBC News
[3] Ibid, quoted by BBC News
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid, quoted by BBC News

Sunday, December 9, 2012

(Video) Child Cruelty: when athiests have a point


(Video) 2016 Obama's America: An Oscar Omission You Can Live With


(Opinion) Osborne Autumn Statement: Moral Midgetry In The Form Of a Statement




The Conservative Party can be cruel, the Conservative Party can be cold, but what you can count on is that the Conservative party will be predictable. Surprise, surprise, chancellor George Osborne announced welfare cuts in the Autumn statement targeting the unemployed and working class as these cuts “will see most working age benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support, Child Tax Credit and the Working Tax Credits rise below inflation at one per cent for three years[1]

These cuts ironically hurts the institution conservatives appeal to the most (save the business community, of course) the family as they punish single parent families as “single parents stand to lose £330 of their 2011-12 income in their 2015-16 pay packets” while couples are less hit, they are hit nonetheless as “a couple who have children and rely on childcare are set to lose on average £217 and a couple with children in which only one adult works will lose £122”[2]

Many argue, mostly conservatives and new Labour relics, that the class wars are over, they’re right, but only because the rich and privileged have won. The chancellor, who is both rich and privileged has targeted the welfare system from the off for cuts as the conservative party have made it a point to tackle ‘scroungers’ but have done very little to tackle to regulate the excesses of corporate greed or even manage the economy efficiently.

The Labour party have dithered in their response to the Autumn statement, presumably coming up with a plan on how best not to look like they care about the plight of people who make up most of the country as according to a ‘senior Labour figure’, backing people who probably vote Labour may be “politically suicidal” as it leaves “the party open to charges that it sides with “scroungers” and is in denial over the need to cut the benefits bill”[3].

This reveals the cowardice of the Labour party which was created to represent the poor and disenfranchised which currently being led by a son of a Marxist who seems to have real anxiety over standing up for the poor and unemployed. While it is quite clear Labour will not return to the old social democratic position any time soon, it should at least be able to put up a serious defense of the working poor who mostly vote Labour in their droves.

In sum, the welfare cuts announced in the Autumn Statement was no shocks as the coalition government led by the Conservatives has proven from the get go that welfare cuts were on the menu and the working poor and the unemployed had better watch out. The lack of response from the Labour Party has shown that the Labour party have been cowardly in defending the poor as they try to avoid the conservatives accusing them of siding with the poor, which, more often than not opt for Labour as the conservatives, to be sure, have made clear who they are for and who they are against.  



[1] N. Simons, 2012, George Osborne’s Benefit Cut Hurts Single Mothers The Most, Research  Finds,  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/07/george-osbornes-benefit-cut-single-mothers_n_2260093.html
[2] Ibid
[3] T. Heim, 2012, Ed Miliband to wage war on George Osborne over benefit cuts,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/08/ed-miliband-george-osborne-welfare

(Opinion) Mohammed Morsi: too little, too late


Say what you want about politics as a profession or process but one thing that can be said about politics that would be true is that politics is not a game of half measures. Mohammed Morsi today has learnt this to his detriment as the Egyptian president “scrapped a decree… (that gave) him near-absolute powers”[1].Initially defending his move to usurp power Morsi has abandoned ‘sweeping powers’ that allowed Morsi to “declare emergency laws and him from judicial oversight”[2].

Morsi’s power grab has instantly split the country into two or at least the protesters in Cairo, Egypt’s capital. A prime example of the split manifested outside the presidential palace as “supporters and opponents of president Mohammed Morsi threw rocks and firebombs at each other” throwing the country into crisis[3]His usurpation of pharaoh-like power has been costly as it has sapped away any political capital Morsi may have had and sure not be forgotten due the death of seven Egyptians[4].

Mohammed Morsi must have seen this reaction coming as pulling power moves in a country with a healthy dislike for dictators is sure to spark widespread anger, just ask Hosni Mubarak. His mandate was narrow to begin with due to just beating a pro-Mubarak apparatchik narrowly as the nation effectively chose to go with the lesser of two hated but organized evils.

The only legitimacy Morsi had was to implement reforms that gave Egyptians more freedoms, the main reason, along with other factors, behind the revolution in the first place. Now he has to mend fences and make real concessions to bring the secular and liberal opposition to the table, probably starting with the draft constitution secular and liberal groups strongly disagree with as they contest that the document “only represents Islamists, disregarding the rights of liberals, women, workers, and Christians”[5].

In sum, Morsi has made a serious mistake in usurping ‘sweeping powers’ as he should have calculated that there would be a serious reaction to such news from a people who have grown a healthy appetite for protest and confrontation of power.



[1] A.R Hussein, 2012, Egypt: Mohammed Morsi cancels decree that gave him sweeping powers, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/09/egypt-mohamed-morsi-cancels-decree
[2] Ibid
[3] Guardian.co.uk, 2012, Morsi supporters clash with protesters outside presidential palace in Cairo, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/05/morsi-supporters-protest-presidential-palace-cairo
[4] The  Jerusalem Post, 2012, Morsi meets army chief, cabinet after clashes, http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=294891
[5] H. Maher, 2012, ElBaradei says Morsi’s’ legitimacy ‘hangs by thread’, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/59876/Egypt/Politics-/ElBaradei-says-Morsi%E2%80%99s-legitimacy-hangs-by-thread.aspx

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