Category Archives: World Stories

Is The Threat Of The Dakota Access Pipeline Real? I thought pipeline accidents were rare. Turns out, they happen all the time – Nitin Gadia. 

A couple months ago, I attended a protest against. the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was being constructed near my town of Ames, Iowa. As I watched friends getting arrested in nonviolent demonstrations, I had so many questions: does this pipeline really pose a threat to land and water?

With the controversy over the recent denial of the permit to cross the Missouri River at Standing Rock, and the requirement for the pipeline to undergo an environmental review, and with the prospects of efforts to build new pipelines after the Trump administration takes office, answering this question is as important now as ever.

My suspicion was that pipeline accidents are rare, but as I investigated, I found that they actually happen all the time. In the last 30 years, there have been over 8,700 liquid pipeline spills in the US, averaging nearly one every day.

One, in fact, happened recently only 150 miles from Standing Rock, where over 4,200 barrels (180,000 gallons) spilled into a river.

And the spills add up: if the 4.2 million barrels (176 million gallons) that have spilled in the last 30 years were counted as a single spill, it would be the third largest in history, right under the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, when 4.9 million barrels spilled in the Gulf of Mexico.

Huffington Post 

“I Know Nothing!” Rest In Peace Manuel. 

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86. 

Manuel in the British Sitcom has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.

“It was just a part I was playing and people seemed to laugh.”


Fidel Castro, a South African Hero – by Mac Maharaj. 

To South Africans who suffered under apartheid, he was a beacon of freedom.

There is no in-between space where Castro can be ignored or dismissed. He was either loved or loathed. To his enemies, he was a dictator. But to South Africans who suffered under apartheid, he was a beacon of freedom.

The bonds between Castro and Mandela, between the Cuban and the South African people, go back to the late 1950s.

In 1956, the apartheid regime indicted 156 rights leaders, including Mandela, from all walks of life and every corner of the country on charges of high treason for mobilizing peacefully against white minority rule. The trial dragged on for four years, and South Africa remained trapped in a cycle of repression and resistance for more than 30 years.

On Jan. 1, 1959, we woke up to the news that the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had fled, that Castro and his July 26 Movement had triumphed. Although it had failed in its immediate goal, the Moncada Barracks attack became a recruiting tool and a major part of the success of the July 26 Movement.

Thus began the leadership of a man who indeed found no passion in playing small, who lived his life on an impoverished island at the doorstep of the mighty United States yet left an imprint on the history of the world.

New York Times 

Burning the Stars & Stripes, a Tradition. 

YouTube, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969

Jonathan Jones, The Guardian 

America’s wacky plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. 

To some Fidel Castro was a revolutionary hero who beat back American imperialists from the shores of Cuba.

To others a ruthless dictator who suppressed human rights and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

But there’s no doubting one clear success the late Castro achieved in his 90 years – not being killed despite an orgy of American assassination plots.

For the US, having a Communist dictatorship just south of Florida which, at one point, served as a launching point for nuclear missiles designed to hit American cities, was just not on. By means fair or foul, they wanted rid of him.

A 1975 investigation by the US Senate, called the Church Committee, found that between Castro’s rise to power in 1959 and 1965 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to kill the Cuban leader at least eight times.

However, some claim the assassination attempts were far more numerous. Fabian Escalante, who headed up Cuba’s secret service, estimated there had been a staggering 634 attempts on Castro’s life.

NZ Herald 

Fidel Castro was a ‘champion of social justice’ despite obvious flaws. 

As the US embarked on a decades-long attempt at destabilisation, Castro’s fight for survival became synonymous with his country’s battle for autonomy.

Many on the left of British politics feared that the CIA was intent on regime change across Central and South America, and started to champion the Caribbean island and its charismatic leader, whose influence and appeal grew with each day that he remained in power.

“Fidel himself became a beacon of resistance, demonstrating that there was the possibility for a small people to win their power and hold on to their power despite every possible provocation and blockade. The fact that Cuba still stood independent despite the deprivations is a real, lasting legacy.

Today, people are looking for alternatives, something different, and the relevance of the politics – socialism, if you like – in the Cuba embodied by Fidel, by Che, is becoming more interesting to people. They’re fed up with the current political infrastructure, which doesn’t really empower most people to play an active part within their societies. At a time of austerity, people will look for alternatives, and Cuba is one of those alternatives. I’m not saying it’s the only one or the best one, but it’s one we can look at.” – Rob Miller

“Although responsible for indefensible human rights and free speech abuses, Castro created a society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling US siege. His troops inflicted the first defeat on South Africa’s troops in Angola in 1988, a vital turning point in the struggle against apartheid.” – Lord Hain

“Fidel Castro’s death marks the passing of a huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th-century socialism, for all his flaws Castro will be remembered as an internationalist and a champion of social justice.” – Jeremy Corbyn 

“Of course, Fidel did things that were wrong. Initially he wasn’t very good on lesbian and gay rights, but the key things that mattered was that people had a good education, good healthcare, and wealth was evenly distributed. He was not living as a billionaire laundering money off into a Panamanian bank account or anything like that – he was good for the people.” – Ken Livingstone

The Guardian 

Humanity has less than 1000 years left until extinction. – Professor Stephen Hawking. 

Humans have less than 1000 years on Earth before we are wiped out in a mass extinction.

This grim outlook was delivered by Professor Stephen Hawking during a speech addressing the universe and the origins of humans at Oxford Union. The leading theoretical physicist said the only way for humankind to avoid the very real possibility of extinction was to find another planet to inhabit.

“We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1000 without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

This bleak outlook on the humanity is nothing new for the 74-year-old, who earlier this year predicted technology would lead Earth to a virtually inevitable global cataclysm. 

NZ Herald 

Do we have just 1000 years left on Earth? 

‘Why say tree when you can say sycamore?’ Bic Runga on stalking, memorising and meeting Leonard Cohen. 

In 2010, Kody [Nielson] and I spent six days on the road as his support act for his New Zealand tour. At the first show at Vector Arena, Leonard came out to meet us before we went on and watched side of stage. Anyone who’s ever played support for a big act knows that this seldom happens, but this seemed less to do with us and more about his basic respect for people around him, how this would simply be the right thing to do as a host.

Weeks earlier we had booked flights to get to the other shows around the country, but we never ended up using them, because after the first night we were invited to travel with him on his chartered plane. This was, of course, uncommon and very special. I got to have a handful of conversations with Leonard, and all I can say is that he was every bit as present, gracious and cool as you might imagine.

I cried a couple of times hearing the news of his death. It was a special honour to have met him. I think it’s fair to say that he elevated the art of popular songwriting as high as it could go; his lyric writing sets the bar. I couldn’t possibly say what my favourite Leonard Cohen song is, there are too many, but to go out on ‘You Want It Darker’ is quite the master stroke.

The Spinoff

The Dutch Have Built an Elevated Roundabout Just for Bikes. 

We love

The Netherlands is frequently cited as a cycling heaven on Earth, and now there’s another reason to believe so. While most other European countries are still avidly discussing how to incorporate cyclists into their urban plans and their visions of subsidised commuting in the near future, Dutch people talk less and work more.


Titantic II Is Almost Ready to Set Sail. 

You’ll Be Able to Vacation on a Replica of the Titanic in 2018

106 years after the original vessel sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, a new version of the RMS Titanic is set to launch in 2018.

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer—who has apparently never seen the movie—came up with the idea for the Titanic II, along with his shipping company, Blue Star Line, Palmer announced the project in 2012 in hopes of launching in time for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s fateful voyage, but the sail date was pushed back due to a series of delays.

The boat promises to be fully functioning replica, looking virtually identical to the 1912 counterpart—save for the fact that it promises to stock enough lifeboats for all its passengers, along with modern marine evacuation systems.

Travel and Leisure 

Refugees in Greece. ‘We’re never getting out of here’. European Solidarity?

On June 26, 2015, as asylum seekers were rushing into Europe in growing numbers, EU leaders met until the wee hours in Brussels. Two countries were bearing the brunt of the crisis – the Mediterranean entry points of Greece and Italy. In what leaders heralded as a remarkable show of “solidarity,” the rest of the EU agreed to share the burden.

The EU would relocate 40,000 refugees – mostly Syrians – to member countries from Portugal to Finland. They would be given shelter, aid and a chance to rebuild their lives. As the number of asylum seekers surged, the EU later boosted its pledge – promising to relocate up to 160,000.

But 16 months after its initial decision, the EU has lived up to only 3.3 percent of that pledge, relocating 5,290 refugees – 4,134 from Greece and 1,156 from Italy. NZ Herald 

“I’ve seen a lot of death, but not this thing. This is shocking and this is what makes you feel you are not living in a civilized world”

These horrifying pictures are the product of global economic inequality, victims of a world where 71% of the world owns only 3 percent of global wealth. People come from all over Africa. Some are fleeing extremist violence from groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram or Somalia’s al-Shabaab. Others are simply people without opportunity or any hope for bettering their lives and their families in home countries where jobs are nonexistent and money is funneled to the ruling elites, who guard their wealth jealously. Occupy Democrats 

Covert madness at work. Best we don’t get too distracted.

Obama’s highly presentable, seemingly rational and incredibly lethal. I have no doubt that a President Hillary Clinton, a proven hawk, will more than carry on her predecessor’s legacy, and will do so with dignity and aplomb. She’ll be taken seriously and not be called ‘deranged’, or any variation thereof, by the fourth estate. They’ll probably go so far as calling her ‘hysterical’ from time to time because she does have a vagina. We expect that. NZ Herald 

Oktoberfest 2016 in Pictures

The taps are open at the world’s biggest beer festival in Germany that runs until Oct 3rd. The event dates to 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese and the people of Munich were invited to attend the festivities. Boston Globe 

A Racist Liar for President?

The big question going into the the first US presidential debate – an 90-minute encounter that had the power to decide the future of the world – was which Donald Trump would show up. 

Would it be the subdued, disciplined candidate, seeking to prove his credentials for the highest office in the land, or would it be street fighter who brawled and bullied his way to victory in the Republican primaries?

Within moments of the debate getting underway, it was clear it was the latter. 

The Independent 

Hijab wearer appears in Playboy. 

Playboy magazine and a hijab-wearing Muslim woman don’t usually go hand-in-hand. But American journalist Noor Tagouri has changed all that, appearing in the magazine’s October “Renegades” issue wearing her hijab proudly. NZ Herald

CEOs can now be tried under international law at The Hague for environmental crimes

The International Criminal Court is looking to clamp down on infractions such as land grabbing, a practice that has seen multinationals take over large areas of foreign land to exploit its natural resources without benefiting the local inhabitants. 
The move could reshape how business is done in developing countries. The Independent

Germany Stands By Its Commitment In The Refugee Crisis. –  Peter Wittig, German Ambassador to the U.S. 

“Contrary to what some populists claim, the security situation in Germany remains stable. Crimes committed by migrants dropped by more than 36 percent between January and June of 2016. And many of the crimes were more of the petty sort, such as attempting to ride a train or bus without a ticket. The crime rate is especially low among refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the countries from which most new refugees in Germany come.” Huffington Post

Chinese Government guilty of gross human rights violations in it’s prisons. 

Jintao Liu’s body shuddered in pain as he endured yet another day of extreme torture. He had woken to pins being pushed into his nails before he was forced to stand still in a yard for some 18 hours. If he moved, he was beaten viciously and within an inch of his life. Each excruciating second of the gruelling punishment caused his legs to swell as his body threatened to buckle under the pressure. He was given “no toilet breaks”, and shown no mercy. Time had become his enemy – but not his worst.

That was a typical day for Mr Liu during a lengthy stint in a series of Beijing detention centres and labour camps between 2006 and 2009. There, he was subjected to electric shocks, medical tests, forced feedings, beatings, violent sexual assaults and other barbaric forms of torture designed by prison guards to humiliate and inflict maximum pain.

The Chinese government has been carrying out these human rights atrocities,  including forced organ removal for harvesting purposes, on innocent citizens and convicted criminals for the best part of the past two decades. And it’s still happening today.

NZ Herald

The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources. 

British companies now control Africa’s key mineral resources, notably gold, platinum, diamonds, copper, oil, gas and coal.
War On Want

Aaaw Poor Kim Can’t Handle It! In NZ we say ‘Harden The F–k Up!

North Korea bans sarcasm ………….. 

All That Is Interesting

You’ll never have perfection amongst humans. Barack has been up there with the Greatest. 

40% Discount for Samsung Note7 users? 

Samsung plans to issue a software update for its recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that will prevent them from overheating by limiting battery recharges to 60 per cent. Stuff

CIA torture report. A portrait of Extreme Hypocrisy. 

​Taking power drills to the heads of captured men; making them stand with their arms stretched above their heads for days at a time; leaving at least one of them naked until he froze to death; waterboarding them to the point of catatonia as bubbles rose from their open mouths; and inserting pureed food into their rectums while claiming it was necessary for delivering nutrients. The Guardian

Tribeswomen escape back to forest

In December 2014, three “non-contacted” Amazon tribespeople – a young man, his mother and an elder female relative – were led out of the forest they had lived in their whole lives and taken to a village. A year and a half later, in an extraordinary twist, the two women have escaped back to the forest – taking just an ax, a machete and their pet birds. NZ Herald

Amid the horror of 9/11, taking this photograph changed my life

​Fifteen years after the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, a photographer tells the dramatic story behind her famous image of the day all hell broke loose. The Guardian

Time to use the toilet. 

​India’s government has been on a public toilet building spree. Now, it’s trying to shame people into using them.
An aggressive new campaign ridicules those who are no longer poor but continue to defecate in the open – a practice that remains common in rural India despite its growing wealth and trappings of modern life.
Television commercials and billboards now carry a message that strike at the heart of the Indian contradiction of being the world’s fastest-growing major economy and also where relieving oneself in the open is the norm in most villages.

NZ Herald –