Mar 29, 2015

American Millennials Among World's Least Skilled People, Global Study Finds

March 29, 2015
American Millennials Among World's Least Skilled People, Global Study Finds   

Though the youngest Americans seem to be the most tech-savvy generation in history, their skill sets might not match up to the par set by their international peers. Researchers at the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service administered test, sponsored by the OECD, designed to measure the job skills of adults born after 1980, aged 16 to 65, in 23 different countries. When they analyzed the results by age group and nationality, the results were shockingly bad for young Americans. According to the study, despite the fact that American millennials are now the most educated generation ever, they scored far below their international peers in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE).
America's Millennials: Well 'Educated' But Unskilled

Bad news ahead for the American workforce: Its Millennial generation is flunking the basics. Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) ... It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level ... In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said. "A decade ago, the skill level of American adults was judged 'mediocre'," the report said. "Now it is below even that ..."
U.S. Needs to Increase R&D Spending or Cede World Economic Leadership

The United States is losing its edge. It is surrendering the research and development advantage that has fueled its economy for six decades. China now performs more R&D than the United States, and South Korea and Germany have greater annual growth in R&D expenditures. Industrialized nations competing in the world economy understand what's needed -- except for ours. For all of Silicon Valley's wealth and ability to innovate, it can't maintain its technological edge unless the United States renews its once-strong commitment to funding basic scientific research.Article Text Goes Here
Netanyahu Unmasks Israel

... Desperate to win reelection, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stripped off Israel's mask and exposed the ugliness that has deformed his country over the past several decades. He abandoned the subterfuge of a two-state solution, exposed the crass racism that underlies Israeli politics, and revealed Israel's blatant control of the U.S. Congress. For years, these realities were known to many Americans, but - if they spoke up - they were condemned as anti-Semites, so most stayed silent to protect their careers and reputations ... Rational Americans are confronted with a difficult moral choice. Either continue supporting Netanyahu in brutalizing the Palestinians and in his looming war against Iran (using the U.S. military to carry it out) or insist that the U.S. government reassess its relationship with Israel.
Why Netanyahu's Victory is as Bad as It Looks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has scored a dramatic victory, far outpacing the pre-election and exit polls. The consequences for Israelis, Palestinians, and the rest of the world could be very grave ... If things looked hopeless before for any kind of diplomacy [regarding Palestine], they're absolutely dismal now ... The only, very thin, hope is that the United States and Europe are finally so fed up with Netanyahu and the Israeli right's adamant refusal of peace that  they'll finally exert significant pressure. Although it seems likely that the United States and European Union will do something, it's far less likely that they'll do anywhere near enough for either the Israeli government to feel the pressure or for the Israeli populace to grow concerned enough to take action.
Top White House Official Calls for End of Israel's '50-Year Occupation,' Renews Pledge of US Support for Israel  

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough called for the end of Israel's "50-year occupation" and doubled down on the Obama administration's critique of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a warmly received speech to the lobbying group J Street in Washington Monday. Speaking to the dovish group's national conference, McDonough became the latest in a series of Washington officials to highlight the administration's displeasure with Netanyahu, while also talking up the permanence of US-Israel ties, repeating Washington's commitment to continued military, security and intelligence cooperation. "No matter who leads Israel, America's commitment to Israel's security will never waiver," McDonough said.
Without US Cover at UN, Israel Could Face Diplomatic Avalanche

It would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago for the White House to consider furling up the diplomatic umbrella it had used for decades to shield Israel at the UN ... While the administration insists it has made no changes to US policy yet, officials say that President Barack Obama strongly is considering backing Palestinian moves at the United Nations Security Council ... Israel is already in violation of nearly 100 Security Council resolutions, most of them calling for a withdrawal from occupied territory, so another resolution could easily be added to the list and filed away by Jerusalem. While there are many other countries that ignore Security Council resolutions (most of them US allies), Israel holds the record, a 2002 study found.
When Some High-Ranking Americans Opposed the Creation of Israel

... In the aftermath of World War II, President Harry Truman was faced with two competing camps at loggerheads over how to deal with the question of Palestine ... One camp favored the Jewish Agency's desire to create Israel, a Jewish state ... The other camp, represented by [Secretary of State George] Marshall, sided with the British proposal to cede Palestine  to U.N. trusteeship, or administration ... The [Pentagon] Joint Chiefs of Staff had issued numerous reports on Palestine, some of which concluded that a Jewish state would present a headache for future American policy ... Another JCS report published on March 31,1948, warned that a fledgling Israeli state would involve the United States "in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives."
Recalling Truman's Fateful May 1948 Decision to Recognize Israel

... An "insider's account" of the discussions leading up to these [1947-1948] decisions has been published by former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, one of the few living parties to the discussions leading to partition ... Clifford's story once again disproves the assertion that American diplomatic or military personnel ever viewed Israel as a " strategic asset." The foreign policy establishment, 43 years ago as today, saw Israel as a geopolitical liability that owes its US support to the extraordinary clout of its apologists within the American Jewish community and the American political system.
Why President Truman Overrode State Dept. Warning on Palestine-Israel

On Sept. 22, 1947, Loy Henderson strongly warned Secretary of State George C. Marshall that partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states was not workable and would lead to untold troubles in the future. Henderson was director of the State Department's Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, and his memorandum ... stands as one of the most perceptive analyses of the perils that partition would bring. Henderson informed Marshall that his views were shared by "nearly every member of the Foreign Service or of the department who has worked to any appreciable extent on Near Eastern problems."

—Susan Sontag, the week after 9/11 2001:

The disconnect between last Tuesday’s monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a “cowardly” attack on “civilization” or “liberty” or “humanity” or “the free world” but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word “cowardly” is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.

Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.

Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. “Our country is strong,” we are told again and again. I for one don’t find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that’s not all America has to be.

Camille Paglia on Susan Sontag 1993

1992 Camille Paglia trashes Gloria Steinem wing of feminism

The Long History of Hate Speech

After a Twelve Year Mistake in Iraq, We Must Just March Home 

Twelve years ago last week, the US launched its invasion of Iraq, an act the late General William Odom predicted would turn out to be "the greatest strategic disaster in US history." Before the attack I was accused of exaggerating the potential costs of the war when I warned that it could end up costing as much as $100 billion. One trillion dollars later, with not one but two "mission accomplished" moments, we are still not done intervening in Iraq ... We recently gained even more evidence that the initial war was sold on lies and fabrications ... It is hard to believe that in a society supposedly governed by the rule of law, US leaders can escape any penalty for using blatantly false information - that they had to know at the time was false - to launch a pre-emptive attack on a country that posed no threat to the United States. 
Is a War of Aggression a War Crime or Not?
Jacob G. Hornberger - The Future of Freedom Foundation.

... What about the war crime known as a "war of aggression"? That's a type of war where one nation initiates an unprovoked attack on another nation. A war of aggression was declared a war crime at Nuremberg. Did the principles that were set forth a Nuremberg apply only to Germany, or were they universal? I think most people would respond that the Nuremberg principles are universal ... It is an undisputed fact that Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. It is also undisputed that the president failed to secure the congressional declaration of war against Iraq that the Constitution mandates. 
Pres. Bush Made Intel Fit Iraq Policy, Secret British Memo Shows
W. P. Strobel, J. Walcott - Knight Ridder

A highly classified British memo, leaked in the midst of Britain's just-concluded election campaign, indicates that President Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy. The document, which summarizes a July 23, 2002, meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair with his top security advisers, reports on a visit to Washington by the head of Britain's MI-6 intelligence service. The visit took place while the Bush administration was still declaring to the American public that no decision had been made to go to war ... "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD," weapons of mass destruction. The memo said "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."  
Syria War Was Planned In Advance, Because Syria is Anti-Israel, Says French Ex-Foreign Minister Dumas

The war in Syria was planned years in advance, and the motive was to overthrow a regime that Israel regards as hostile, says former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas. "I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria," said Dumas in a recent interview with French television LCP. "This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and organized ..." Responding to a question on the motive behind the war, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Dumas said, "Very simple! With the very simple aim! To overthrow the Syrian government, because in the region, it's important to understand, that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance. Consequently, everything that moves in the region -- and I have this from the former Israeli prime minister, who told me 'We'll try to get on with our neighboring states, but those who don't get along, we will take them down'."
Iraq: A War For Israel

So if the official reasons given for the war were untrue, why did the United States attack? Whatever the secondary reasons for the Iraq war, the crucial factor in President Bush's decision to attack was to help Israel. With support from Israel and America's Jewish-Zionist lobby, and prodded by Jewish "neo-conservatives" holding high-level positions in his administration, President Bush - who was already fervently committed to Israel - resolved to invade and subdue one of Israel's chief regional enemies. 
Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline: Recalling US Media Deception
FAIR - Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (New York)

It's hardly controversial to suggest that the mainstream media's performance in the lead-up to the Iraq War was a disaster. In retrospect, many journalists and pundits wish they had been more skeptical of the White House's claims about Iraq, particularly its allegations about weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, though, media apologists suggest that the press could not have done much better, since "everyone" was in agreement on the intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons threat. This was never the case. Critical journalists and analysts raised serious questions at the time about what the White House was saying. Often, however, their warnings were ignored by the bulk of the corporate press. This timeline is an attempt to recall some of the worst moments in journalism, from the fall of 2002 and into the early weeks of the Iraq War.
Syria's President Criticizes Western Media's Distorted Coverage in Recent Interview 

President Bashar Assad sharply criticizes the western media for what he regards as its systematically distorted portrayal of the conflict in his country and of the origins and role of the "Islamic State." In this English-language interview, the Syrian leader is articulate and self-possessed. This 26-minute interview with a Portuguese television journalist was conducted on March 4, 2015.
The Long History of Hate Speech 
M. Alison Kibler - History News Network

... Americans have regularly supported legislation against hateful speech, although the contexts of the regulation have shifted dramatically over the course of the twentieth century ... The censorship of motion pictures, constitutional until 1952, often included bans on racial ridicule in the early twentieth century. Pennsylvania's State Board of Censors of Motion Pictures, founded in 1913, banned racial ridicule for several years, as did state censorship boards in Kansas and Maryland. ... The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), established in 1909, spearheaded the prohibition of racial ridicule in motion pictures.
The Morning After: Looking Beyond the Israel Election Results 

... Benjamin Netanyahu's victory, unexpected and unequivocal, will usher in another coalition of right wing zealots, nationalists, and the religious ... The two-state solution is clinically dead. It's time to think about the alternative. Does anyone know of an alternative to the two-state idea other than one state? Does anyone really believe that Israel will be able to go on with the status quo, which has never been a real status quo, for another fifty years? Another fifty years of cruel, brutal, illegal occupation, without counterpart anywhere in the world ... Another fifty years of Jewish settlements and Palestinian disinheritance? 
The End of the Liberal Zionist Façade

... There is, however, one clear advantage to the election results: clarity. At least now there will be no liberal Zionist façade, camouflaging Israel's unwillingness to dismantle its colonial project. The Israeli refrain that a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians cannot be achieved because the Palestinians lack leadership will ring even more hollow. Finally, the claim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East will be exposed for what it is: a half truth. While Israel is a democracy for Jews it is a repressive regime for Palestinians.

Michael Santomauro
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