Serco bring in the robots, body and soul
03 Nov 2010

First they privatise hospitals and then they call for cost cutting to increase “efficiency”:

Robots, instead of human staff, would provide some essential services at WA’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital under a plan that unions warn could cost hundreds of jobs.
Serco the company the WA Government wants to provide privatised services at the hospital has already introduced the robots for day-to-day tasks in a hospital it runs in Scotland.
Thirteen “automatically guided vehicles” carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs at Serco’s Forth Valley Royal Hospital. A Serco spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the company was hoping to use “similar innovations” at FSH.
The company already manages Australia’s migration detention centres and some private prisons.
Health Services Union secretary Dan Hill said the robots could cost hundreds of jobs.
“The public expects to be cared for by a team of professionals, not treated by robots because the private operator of the hospital is trying to make as a big a profit as possible,” Mr Hill said.
The State Government recently named Serco as the preferred firm to provide privatised non-clinical services at FSH, which is due to open in 2014.
The $2 billion hospital in Murdoch will have 643 beds when it opens and has been billed as the saviour of the state’s struggling health system.
In 2006, a UK parliamentary committee found Serco was part of a consortium that milked taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the consortium, which financed and built hospitals in Norfolk and Norwich, geared up the hospital projects’ borrowing in a bid to make refinancing gains of more than $100 million.


Israel firsters rejoice in US at taming of Obama
03 Nov 2010

Well, the Zionist lobby is pleased:

One prominent pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington is already praising the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives as a net benefit for Israel.
“While Democrats are likely to keep control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans will take over the U.S. House of Representatives following Tuesday’s elections. This is likely to have implications for Israel-related issues such as Israel’s relationship with the United States and the push for sanctions against Iran,” said an e-mail blasted out by The Israel Project only minutes after news stations called the turnover of House control a certainty.
“The takeover of the House by Republicans is great news for Israel and her supporters,” the email quotes Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman under President George W. Bush, as saying. “The House leadership and almost every single GOP member is rock-solid behind Israel. At times like this, Israel needs friends everywhere.”
But the Israel Project’s e-mail then quickly turns on its head and praises Congressional Democrats in the House and Senate for their staunch support of Israel.
“The House Democratic leadership has been powerfully supportive of Israel, and Speaker Pelosi has been nothing short of passionate in her successful pursuit of biting sanctions against Iran – a key interest of the pro-Israel community,” The Israel Project quotes David Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, as saying.
So which is it? Is The Israel Project saying that Republicans or Democrats are better for Israel?
“American voters on both sides of the aisle support Israel,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, says in the e-mail.
The Israel Project identifies several key Congressional changes that could impact the Israel debate on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who the Project calls “staunchly pro-Israel,” will likely be the next Speaker of the House and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) could become Majority Leader, “the highest-ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress,” the e-mail points out.
The Project also points toward Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), who could become the new head of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, non-proliferation, and trade, and whoever will replace Barney Frank (D-MA) as head of the Finance Committee, “a key avenue for sanctions against Iran.” The top three contenders for chairman are Spencer Bachus, (R-AL), Pete King (R-NY), and Royce.


Americans just love being American
03 Nov 2010

Why is it that when many Americans are pleased with a politician – such as during today’s big Republican win in the mid-terms – they start shouting in unison “USA! USA! USA!?
I’m sure the Iraqis and Afghans are cheering every time an American soldier drops a bomb on their village.


Hamas is flailing on all fronts
02 Nov 2010

Haidar Eid is a writer and activist based in Gaza. I met him there last year and his determination and passion was striking. He’s one of the key leaders behind the BDS movement.
His latest piece damns Hamas for failing, in his view, to prepare for a democratic future in Palestine:

Despite its somewhat fiery statements, Hamas’s impulse and willingness to deal with American propositions are indeed astonishing. Two letters were sent, as far as I know, to the new Obama administration after the term of former US President George W. Bush ended. The Americans emphasized that they declined to accept the first letter. However, it is the content of the letters and how they reflect the aspirations of Palestinians — both in all of historic Palestine as well as in the Diaspora — that is significant.
The content of these letters along with statements made by senior Hamas leaders indicate to the US Hamas’s acceptance of and commitment to the two-state solution; i.e. the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Yet many Hamas leaders simultaneously accentuate their refusal to recognize the State of Israel and accept the two-state solution! Simply put, the Palestinian leadership elected by the majority of one-third of the Palestinian people, i.e. the population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is announcing its commitment to a racist solution that disregards the rights of 6-7 million Palestinian refugees, and the national and cultural rights of 1.4 million Palestinians in Israel.
The experience of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip offers a miniature model of an Islamic state, whereas the West Bank stands as the Bantustan state to be declared in November 2011. It is common knowledge that Gaza has recently undergone ideological social transformations through laws that are enforced without being enacted. Such laws target individual freedoms, particularly those of women, who are no longer allowed to smoke water pipe in public or ride behind their spouses on motorcycles. Likewise, female students are now forced to wear the jilbab and the hijab, while female lawyers must wear the hijab. Of course, these practices claim to “protect our customs and traditions,” but is there a traditional text that bars women from smoking, for instance? The democracy that provided the foundation for the 2006 elections is based on guaranteeing individual freedoms. Many statements made by Hamas leaders inside and outside of Gaza before the elections emphasized that those leaders would respect such freedoms if elected.
The transformation of many members of the resistance, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their homeland and who exerted impressive efforts to defend Gaza in 2009, into religious police like those in Saudi Arabia requires a serious and critical revision by Hamas.
Therefore, it is obvious that Hamas is unable to realize that the war on Gaza in 2009 has created a new political reality whereby Israel pulled the trigger on the racist two-state/two-prison solution. Hamas insists on adopting this approach and claims it is a temporary tactic until the balance of power shifts, as the movement assumes it will within the truce period of ten or twenty years. During this time, it plans to build a state after its model in Gaza. This only indicates the lack of a clear strategic vision to end the conflict, a vision that draws on past global struggles against colonialism, particularly against the abhorrent South African apartheid regime, which collapsed resoundingly in 1994.
Unfortunately, there has been no indication, based on my reading of many statements made by Hamas leaders, of a clear understanding within the movement either of the apartheid nature of the State of Israel or of the tools used by the South African anti-apartheid movement. One such tool is the international boycott campaign, without which the apartheid regime would not have ended. This demonstrates Hamas’s failure to understand the role of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). As a recent report by the Israel-based Reut Institute indicates, even the Israelis themselves are concerned about the momentum the BDS movement is gaining. There is no statement whatsoever, either in public speeches of Hamas officials or in its literature, which indicates an understanding of these efforts which, as Reut claimed, served to “delegitimize Israel” and “pose a threat to its very existence.”


Being gay in Israel (with two Jews)
02 Nov 2010

You certainly wouldn’t be seeing this on mainstream TV in most of the Middle East (but then again, if Israeli and Palestinian women wanted to appear, the racism towards the Arab would be massive):

In identical net costumes and with matching long, blonde tresses, a television presenter and a professional dancer will tonight glide on to the set of Israel‘s Dancing with the Stars to become the first same-sex couple to perform in the global television dance phenomenon.
Gili Shem Tov, an openly-gay anchor on one of Israel’s main TV channels, made a female dance partner a condition of competing in the show, which pairs celebrities with professional dancers.
Based on the UK’s Strictly Come Dancing, the Israeli show is now in its sixth series.
“This is my way of life and this is my agenda, and I wanted to express it,” she told a press conference today at television studios in Newe Ilan, near Jerusalem.
“If even just a few people become more tolerant and open-minded as a result, then I have achieved something.”


New Delhi and Tel Aviv get all cosy
02 Nov 2010

The growing friendship between Israel and India.
In a post-US century, the Jewish state can’t simply rely on Washington for backing.


Those WMDs must be somewhere safe, reflected Bush
02 Nov 2010

Causing mass carnage in Iraq? Oh, that was a shame:

Former US President George W Bush still has “a sickening feeling” about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, US media report.
The revelation comes in his memoir, “Decision Points”, to be published next week.
He also reveals that he temporarily considered replacing Vice President Dick Cheney, calling him the “Darth Vader of the administration”.
But he has no comment on his successor in the White House, Barack Obama.
In the autobiography, Mr Bush defends his decision to invade Iraq, according to advanced copies of the book.
He argues that both America and the Iraqis are better off without former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, whom he calls a “homicidal dictator”.
But Mr Bush admits that he was shocked when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
“No one was more shocked and angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons,” he writes. “I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.”
The former president also describes how he considered an offer by Vice President Dick Cheney to step down in 2003 so that Mr Bush could pick a different running mate for the 2004 election campaign.
“He had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left,” Mr Bush writes.
“He was seen as dark and heartless.”

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