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Index February 2008

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Feed the world?

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We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits … Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation

Published on the Guardian, by Julian Borger, February 26 2008.

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”.

“We will have a problem in coming months,” said Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). “We will have a significant gap if commodity prices remain this high, and we will need an extra half billion dollars just to meet existing assessed needs.”

With voluntary contributions from the world’s wealthy nations, the WFP feeds 73 million people in 78 countries, less than a 10th of the total number of the world’s undernourished. Its agreed budget for 2008 was $2.9bn (£1.5bn). But with annual food price increases around the world of up to 40% and dramatic hikes in fuel costs, that budget is no longer enough even to maintain current food deliveries …

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The OECD’s Export Credit Division …

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… facilitates work relating to the policies and practices of OECD Member governments who provide Officially Supported Export Credits

Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

Published on credits/, not dated.

What’s NEW?

Principles and Guidelines to promote Sustainable Lending practices in the provision of Official Export Credits to low income countries – 16-Jan-2008:

The provision of official export credits to public and publicly guaranteed buyers in low income countries should reflect Sustainable Lending practices (lending that supports a borrowing country’s economic and social progress without endangering its financial future and long-term development prospects). ECG Members agree to apply principles to obtain reasonable assurances that their commercial lending decisions are not likely to contribute to debt distress in the future in relation to any official export credit with a repayment term of one year or more.

Renewable Energy and Water sector projects under Annex IV of the Arrangement – 08-Jan-2008: … (full text and many more items).

Structural Violence as a Form of Genocide. The Impact of the International Economic Order

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(Violencia estructural como una forma de genocidio. El impacto del Orden Economico Internacional)

Linked with, and with Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed – England & Bangladesh.

Published on, by Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq, 40 pdf-pages, Fall 2007.

Abstract: Structural violence is rarely seen as a form of genocide. Significant deficiencies in existing conceptualizations of both genocide and structural violence suggest that this is unwarranted. The concept of genocide must be expanded to include a wider variety of target human groups, whereas the concept of structural violence must be extended to include a greater appreciation of the role of agential intent in the production and reproduction of unequal violent structures. This reveals logical and analytical connections between structural violence and genocide in several historical cases, including episodes of capitalist imperialism and communist collectivization. Applying this theoretical framework to an analysis of the structural violence of the international economic order indicates that its impact possesses distinctly genocidal features … (full text, 40 pdf-pages).

Washington v. Cuba After Castro

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… Cuban and American Elections:

Linked with The Long Ordeal Of Sami Al-Arian, with The harm at home and abroad, with US Presidents critical thoughts about money barons, with America’s War on Terrorism reviewed, and with John Pilger: Freedom next time.

Published on, by Stephen Lendman, Febr. 25, 2008.

A short excerpt of a long text:

… Cuban and US elections have marked similarities and differences. Cuba is a one party state. So is America the way Gore Vidal describes it: the Property or Monied Party with two wings. There’s not a dimes worth of difference between them that matters so Americans have no choice. That’s not how things are in Cuba, and here’s the difference.

Cubans overwhelmingly support their government. They remember or learned what went on before Castro and won’t tolerate going back to how people once were treated so the rich could profit. Under Fulgencio Bastista, conditions were nightmarish as a de facto US colony – a combination police state and casino/brothel linked to US crime syndicates. There was systemic corruption, indifference to social needs, disdain for the common good, brutal exploitation, subservience to corporate interests, and a regime keeping power through brute force. When Cubans vote, they remember, and how it works would puzzle Americans. On the local/municipal level:
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Darfur and it’s children

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Linked with Darfur: Militia Leader Implicates Khartoum, with … again Darfur and its children, and with Will 2008 be another year of death in Darfur?

Published on UNICEF, Febr. 22, 2008.

As violence continues in Darfur, children go missing and families are torn apart: SIRBA, Sudan, 22 February 2008 – Hundreds of children are unaccounted for, following militia attacks on villages in Sudan’s West Darfur region.

There are an unknown number of children aged 12 to 18 who are missing, especially boys. Nobody knows what has happened to these children, said UNICEF’s Head of Office for West Darfur, Naqibullah Safi.

UNICEF and its UN partners sent an assessment mission to the towns of Sirba and Abu Surouj following government-backed militia attacks in West Darfur’s northern corridor earlier this month. The team found that thousands of residents had fled their homes in the towns after multiple buildings were burned in the attacks … (full text).

More links:

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Nepad is Not in the Construction Business

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Linked with Jerry Okungu – Kenya.

Published on AfriMAP, by Jerry Okungu, July 25, 2006.

… First, the world needs to be reminded that Nepad was founded in Lusaka, Zambia in July 2001, exactly five years this month. Since then it has produced three annual reports, the first one being in July 2003.

Nepad was formed specifically to tackle the challenges facing Africa then and now and these challenges included persistent political conflicts, civil conflicts, governance problems, poverty, underdevelopment and declining investment levels.

To tackle the above problems, the African Heads of State, Abdoulaye Wade included, gave Nepad guidelines to tackle Africa’s myriad problems.

It was expected to formulate, create and promote policies and programmes to eradicate poverty and inequality, place the continent on the path of growth and development, halt the continent’s marginalisation, accelerate women’s empowerment, harness African ownership and leadership, accelerate regional and continental integration and create new partnerships among Africans and between Africa and the rest of the world.

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Burundi: Heavy rains and floods

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Published on ReliefWeb, by International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies, Februar 21, 2008.

(The International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund DREF is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation’s disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters).

Download the DREF Operation No. MDRBI002 Final Report:


CHF 122,000 was allocated from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) (CHF 62,000 on 20 December, 2006 and CHF 60,000 on 19 January, 2007) to support the National Society in delivering assistance to some 2,100 beneficiary households.

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Can an African country defy America

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and get away with it? – An East african perspective

Published on The New Vision, by JERRY OKUNGU (E-mail), 21st February, 2008.

2 excerpts: In my village, we have a say when a village strongman steps on your mother’s smoking pipe, you dare not challenge him to a fight; or if a government official arrests your mother, it is time you turned a blind eye lest you be locked up too!

President George Bush has been in the neighbourhood for six good days; a very long time for the most powerful man on earth to be next door. And by the look of things, he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go home. He started with Benin, came dangerously close to Kenya in Tanzania from where he dispatched his Condoleezza Rice with a special message to Kenya before flying to Paul Kagame’s Rwanda.

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The battle for Labour’s soul

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This week may see the biggest Labour backbench revolt since Iraq

Linked with Johann Hari – England.

Published on Johann, by himself, (first publication on The Independent, Febr. 18, 2008, titled: Will Labour show it cares about workers?).

Excerpts: … There is a toxic loop-hole in British employment law, which 1.5 million people have been lassoed by. If I go to work for Joe Bloggs Ltd, after a short period I begin to acquire employment rights. I get sick-pay, holiday leave, and the right to not be arbitrarily dismissed from my job. But if I go to work for an employment agency that then places me in exactly the same job at Joes Bloggs Ltd, my employment rights never come. I can work there for twenty years and still be given no sick pay and no paid holidays, and be sacked in a second. They are financially trapped: they can’t get credit, never mind a mortgage …

… So Gordon Brown has a choice. He can be dragged into a draining, demoralising row with his own party, which he may well lose – or he can make this a bright, populist dividing line between Labour and the Conservatives.

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Day of Reckoning in the US Glasshouse

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Linked with Share The World’s Resources STWR.

Published on Share The World’s Resources STWR, by Jospeh Stiglitz, January 22, 2008.

There is a growing consensus: America is going into a marked slowdown, if not a downright recession. There will be a large gap between potential growth – usually estimated at 3 per cent to 4 per cent – and actual growth, meaning lost output of hundreds of billions of dollars. America actually faces three separate but related problems; a credit crunch, a debt crisis and a macroeconomic problem. A decade ago, America roundly criticised the countries of East Asia for their lack of transparency and inadequate regulation. But, as the old aphorism goes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Money was lent to hundreds of thousands of Americans beyond their ability to pay. What was called financial innovation meant that borrowers didn’t even have to pay the accrued interest; at the end of the year, they owed more than at the beginning. Liar mortgages had been invented, requiring no evidence of income or ability to pay.

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The Maddness of the Global Economy

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Picked up on Share The World’s Resources STWR and its Newsletter.

Published on STWR Share The World’s Resources, by Media Lens, 6th February 2008.

2 excerpts: … The Neoliberal Nightmare: To complement the above picture, and in contrast to corporate media coverage, we must also critically describe the political-economic process summed up by that innocuous-sounding word, neoliberalisation. This serious attack on democracy, the latest stage in advanced capitalism, took root in the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980s, and has accelerated ever since. Proponents of neoliberalism tell us that human well-being flourishes best within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade. But what has it meant in practice? …

… A persistent and deep-rooted characteristic of neoliberalisation has been its strong tendency to worsen social inequality, as we will see later. Social progress achieved during neoliberalisation of previously poor countries has not been sustained. Typically, state intervention has been required to maintain any semblance of a social welfare safety net – or the net has simply been left to fray in the chill winds of economic progress.

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The Japanese parliament asks Thierry Meyssan’s questions

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… on September 11, 2001 attacks

Published on, from Tokyo/Japan, February 8, 2008. (First on [Jeff Rense]: Transcript Of Japanese Parliament’s 911 Testimony, from Benjamin Fulford, 1-14-8).

January 11th, 2008 audition of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (Senate), Japanese Diet (Parliament).

Some Japanese TV viewers had the privilege, on January 11th, 2008 to watch a surprising live Senate Commission broadcast: one of the parliamentary commissions’ chairman turned to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Defense to have them acknowledge that 6 years after the September 11th attacks, they are still unable to explain the facts and confirm that the attacks were organized from an Afghan cave. Our readers can find the full transcript of this lése-majesté crime below … (full long text).

And also (scroll down): The original video of this audition, with English sub-titles, can be viewed here in a sequel of 8 clips!

The Small Business Act

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The European Commission’s commitment to small enterprises

Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

Published on European Commission/Newsroom.

On 31st of January, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the content of a European “Small Business Act”. Its objective is to put small and medium sized enterprises SME at the forefront of decision-making in the EU and to introduce concrete measures to unlock the SMEs’ growth potential. It will include new initiatives to reduce regulatory burden on SMEs, facilitate access to Single Market/public procurement, help provide necessary financial/human resources for SME development and help SMEs face the challenge of globalization and climate change.

The Small Business Act (Public Law 85-536, as amended): Art. 1 – 36 … (full long text).

EU’s press release, Febr. 1, 2008.

Global Employment Trends 2008

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Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

Published on, 60 pages, January 2008.

… This year’s Global Employment Trends are published at an essential point in time for, at least, three reasons:

Reason 1: Globalization and rapidly changing technical progress continues to impact labour markets around the world. Signifi cant challenges accompany these changes, but the changing economic environment also brings with it greater opportunities for individuals striving to improve their way of life. For the fi rst time, probably, turbulences in one economically strong region (namely, the Developed Economies & the EU region and upfront the United States as a result of higher oil prices and the US housing market turmoil) have, so far, not impacted on other regions. Th is can be attributed to the greater economic strength of other regions in the world, as a result of less dependence of any one region on another, as well as greater regional ties and, thereby, more independence. However, risks for the global economy in 2008 have to be carefully watched. A severe global slowdown is not expected, but the important question is how labour markets worldwide will react towards even slightly slower growth or possibly growing uncertainty.

Reason 2: … (full long text /60 pages).

éducation 2.0: les blogueurs de science se prennent en main

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Publié dans Agence Science-Presse, avec la collaboration spéciale de Pascal Lapointe et de Josée Nadia Drouin, le 25 janvier 2008.

Toutes ces notions, ces faits, ces connaissances, qu’un prof a toujours souhaité aborder en classe, mais qu’il a dû écarter, faute de temps : Internet, et tout particulièrement le blogue, le permet ! Et des profs de science sont de plus en plus nombreux à le découvrir.

Lancer les étudiants sur des recherches, démarrer des discussions, susciter des tempêtes d’idées, explorer de nouvelles façons de communiquer … Là où beaucoup de ces pistes se rejoignent, c’est dans la possibilité qu’elles offrent au prof de ’sortir du programme’, un élément qui a retenu l’attention des participants à l’atelier ‘Teaching Science’, organisé le 19 janvier, en Caroline du Nord, dans le cadre d’un congrès intitulé ‘Science Blogging’ – les blogues en science …

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Will 2008 be another year of death in Darfur?

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Linked with Eric Reeves – USA.

Published on the morning call, by Hans M. Wuerth, January 28, 2008.

An excerpt: … The massive genocidal assaults in Darfur during 2003 and 2006 appear to have diminished, but a number of ominous events prompted Prof. Reeves to write on January 15 that ”a vast cataclysm of human suffering and destruction seems virtually inevitable.” Indeed, there are several alarming developments.

First, the much reported UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) calls for the deployment of a peacekeeping force of some 26,000 troops. However, only 9,000 soldiers and policeman are currently deployed. Some observers doubt if the UNAMID force will ever be realized.

Second, the current force is under-equipped, under-manned and thus incapabable of protecting the more than 2.6 million Internally Displaced Persons. (300,000 more people were displaced in 2007.) On Jan. 7, a UNAMID convoy allegedly was attacked by Sudan Armed Forces, but UNAMID did not return fire. It still lacks sufficient transport aircraft and vehicles.

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Genocide prevention: 60 years of abject failure

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Darfur reinforces the impotence of this UN mandate

Linked with Eric Reeves – USA.

Published on The Christian Science Monitor, by Eric Reeves, January 30, 2008.

2 excerpts: … This year marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 9, 1948, the Convention reflects the tireless work of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish linguist and Jew who had survived the Holocaust. But in the long and too often darkened years that followed, the Convention has never prevented a single genocide, even as “prevention” receives pride of place in the ponderous convention title. Despite the many instances in which international action was desperately required, the demanding words of the Convention have always rung hollow:

“The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and punish” …

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New Challenges for Nomadic Civilization and Pastoral Nomadism in Mongolia

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Linked with International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations IISNC.

Published on IISNC, by Acad. B. Enkhtuvshin, not dated.

3 excerpts of 19 pages: The present paper is to demonstrate the results and conclusions of three international research expeditions named Transformation of the Central Asian Nomads, Cultural Anthropological and Ecological Comparative Study of Nomadic Life and Cultural Heritage of the Central Asian Nomads- organized by the International Institut …

… Socio-economic and civilizational changes: The international expeditions in charge of socio-economic and civilization changes aimed at a broad target of labor division of pastoral nomadism and nomadic herders, standard of their living and the tendency of the transformation in the Central Asian nomadic civilization.

Considering the similarities and distinctions of socio-economic and civilization factors in Russia, Mongolia and China, the researchers in the team established the methods and principles of the research work.

As for Mongolia and Buryatia of the Russian Federation, (Selenge, Tuv, and Khentii provinces of Mongolia and Khyagt, Selenge and Ivolge regions of Russia) the general similarity is that both of them are in the transition period from socialism into market economy. In other words, both Mongolia and Buryatia are making their transition from centrally planned economy into the free market relations. But as with the social problems in rural areas and the way of dealing with them, difference is visible.

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Endgame: Unregulated Private Money Creation

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The Financial Tsunami – Part IV

Published on Global, by F. William Engdahl, February 8, 2008.

3 excerpts: … The New Finance was built on an incestuous, interlocking, if informal, cartel of players, all reading from the script written by Alan Greenspan and his friends at J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and the other major financial houses of New York. Securitization was going to secure a “new” American Century and its financial domination, as its creators clearly believed on the eve of the millennium …

… Deregulation, TBTF and Gigantomania among banks:

In the United States, between 1980 and 1994 more than 1,600 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) were closed or received FDIC financial assistance. That was far more than in any other period since the advent of federal deposit insurance in the 1930s. It was part of a process of concentration into giant banking groups that would go into the next century …

… Off the books:

The entire securitization revolution allowed banks to move assets off their books into unregulated opaque vehicles. They sold the mortgages at a discount to underwriters such as Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Citigroup, and similar financial securitizers. They then in turn sold the mortgage collateral to their own separate Special Investment Vehicle or SIV as they were known. The attraction of a stand-alone SIV was that they and their potential losses were theoretically at least, isolated from the main underwriting bank. Should things ever, God forbid, run amok with the various Asset Backed Securities held by the SIV, only the SIV would suffer, not Citigroup or Merrill Lynch.

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a piece of Nanda Rani’s live

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Linked with Nanda Rani Das – Bangladesh.

Published on nijera kori, by Tamanna Rahman, 3 May 2006.

… The news reached our office the next evening. It came to me secondhand, or perhaps third or fourth, trickling down through a series of grave whispers: “Have you heard?” We all heard, in bits and pieces, details emerging, amassing, slowly: Nanda Rani and her family had been attacked. Neighboring landowners, incensed by some trifling falling out, had descended on Nanda Rani’s home and ruthlessly beaten everyone they could find. At least ten members of the family were in the hospital. This was all we knew at first. Over the next couple days, information about the incident grew, and with it, as what I soon realized to be a matter of course, the determination to take action.

To understand what happened after the attack took place, it is necessary to understand who exactly Nanda Rani is and what she means to her community. Nanda Rani was born to a low-caste Hindu fisherman family struggling beneath the multiple oppressions of crippling poverty, religious marginalization in a predominantly Muslim society, and caste discrimination within the Hindu community. As a woman navigating the overlapping spheres of these systemic inequalities, she faced the added pressures of gender prejudice and patriarchal control. When Muslim landholders forced her family from their own village, they fled to Zharabarsha, where they began living as refugees and where Nanda Rani first became involved with the landless women’s groups …

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A Truly Emancipated Woman

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Linked with Ebadon Bibi – Bangladesh.

Published on, by arrangement with Women’s Feature Service & Sangat, October 9, 2005. (See also: articles on this Boloji’s pages discuss issues concerning women, and Inspiring Stories about women on One World South Asia).

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most crowded countries, with about 1,763 people attempting to survive on each square mile. About 85 per cent of all Bangladeshis live in rural areas …

… Ebadon was born in 1945 in Sekhahati Gram, Bogra district. Her father, a farmer, owned a very small plot of land. Although the family was not rich, they considered themselves more fortunate than many others. Although Ebadon was a bright young girl and her father wanted his daughters to get an education, there were no schools in the locality. Looking back, she realizes that her childhood was special because her parents were impartial with their affection and care; they treated their girls just like they treated the boys.

As was the custom in those days, Ebadon was married at a very young age (when she was only 11 years old). After marriage, she moved to her husband’s village, Pairaband in Rangpur district. The couple worked as daily-wage laborers. Even their combined earnings were far from adequate. To add to the expenses, Ebadon became a mother when she was very young. Although she bore six sons and a daughter, three of her sons died of various illnesses.

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The Trouble With Manji

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Linked with Irshad Manji – Canada & Uganda.

Published on, from Tehelka Magazine Vol 5, Feb 11, 2008.

Irshad Manji walks a dangerous path, claiming her right as a believer to criticise and interpret Islam.

SALIL TRIPATHI talks to her after the release of her new film

Irshad Manji moved to Canada when she was four, a refugee from the tyranny of Idi Amin’s Uganda, when Asians were given sixty days to pack up and leave the country. The daughter of an Indian father and an Egyptian mother, Manji settled into her new home, her family seeking the migrant’s comfort from the familiar certainties of the community and the faith.

But Manji was a spunky child (and now she is a spunky adult), and she was quick to notice the contrast between her secular, public school, and the religious madrasa which she attended on weekends. Early in her controversial best-seller, “The Trouble With Islam Today,” she notices a contrast. A senior teacher disapproves of her locker displaying stickers supporting the Ayatollah’s revolution in Iran. He bristles at her insubordination, but does not stop her, or discipline her, grudgingly respecting her right to defy. And then there is the religious teacher, who sternly admonishes her each time she questions particular religious passages that bother her. Hers was not to reason why; hers but to obey and cry. Or else.

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Education against bird flu

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Published on France24, February 07, 2008.

The nineteenth victim of the bird-flu was an Egyptian woman. She was infected by home-raised poultry. For the authorities, it became very important to inform people of the dangers this behaviour involves. But, bad habits die hard. In developing countries, breeding poultry is one of the most practical ways to survive. Chickens and other stock farming birds provide food for the poor on a daily basis, and they can eventually sell what’s left …

… The Egyptian government – in association with UNICEF and Japanese authorities – has started a vast information campaign to try to prevent further deaths. Its goal is to explain to people living in the country what precautions should be taken to minimise the risks of infection. Thus, 13′000 educators are traveling all around Egypt. Knocking on nearly everyone’s door … (full text).

Fury Over MP’s Muslim ‘Inbreeding’ Claim

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Published on Daily Record, Feb 11 2008.

3 excerpts: A NEW Islamic row broke out last night after a minister accused British Muslims of inbreeding.

Environment Minister Phil Woolas said there was a problem with Muslims having children with cousins through arranged marriages …

… But Woolas was backed by medics and Labour MPs who said it was a real issue.

Woolas, who has a large number of Muslims in his Oldham constituency, said: “If you talk to any primary care worker, they will tell you that levels of disability among the Pakistani population are higher than the general population.

“And everybody knows it’s caused by first cousin marriage” …

… But the Muslim Public Affairs Council called for him to be sacked, adding: “These comments are racist and typical of the Islamophobia we have witnessed recently”.

Research shows British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have genetic disorders than the general population … (full text).

My comment: Really, Muslims, you HAVE TO LEARN to face the reality of facts … and to stand them. You can not make the whole humanity be blackmailed for the bubble of your dreams.

The world crisis of capitalism

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… and the prospects for socialism

Published on WSWS World Socialist Web Site:

Below we are publishing the first part of the opening report given by Nick Beams to an international school held by the International Committee of the Fourth International ICFI and the International Students for Social Equality ISSE in Sydney, Australia from January 21 to January 25, 2008.

Nick Beams is a member of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia …

Part one, 31 January 2008;

Part two, 1 February 2008;

Part three, 2 February 2008;

Part four, 4 February 2008;

Part five, 5 February 2008.

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U.S. agency criticized for withholding Great Lakes health risk report

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Published on Michigan Live, by The Associated Press, February 8, 2008.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A report describing potential health threats near the Great Lakes region’s most heavily polluted sites will be made public after changes are made to fix flaws with draft versions, a federal official said Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drawn criticism from members of Congress, scientists and a U.S.-Canadian agency for withholding the report. It had been scheduled for release last summer.

Reviewers inside and outside the CDC found “a number of problems” with the study, CDC spokesman Glen Nowak said. “It’s being worked on.”

The roughly 400-page document uses statistics from a variety of health and environmental databases to assess risks for more than 9 million people living near 26 areas on the U.S. side of the lakes that are polluted with toxins such as PCBs, mercury and dioxins.

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Report: Beleaguered borrowers not finding help

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Published on Boston Herald, by Jay Fitzgerald, February 8, 2008.

Attention struggling homeowners facing possible foreclosure: You’re largely on your own.

That’s the conclusion of a new report that says the vast majority of financially hard-pressed borrowers aren’t getting help to avoid foreclosures, despite vows by politicians and industry groups to assist people burdened by high-interest-rate mortgages.

Seven out of 10 seriously delinquent borrowers are either not assessing ways to prevent foreclosure or can’t cut through the confusing bureaucratic morass to cut deals with mortgage servicers, according to the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group.

The report by the group, which is an initiative of 37 states’ attorneys general and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, said there has been some progress made in reaching out to those facing foreclosures …

… Both the mortgage industry and government are to blame for not doing enough, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

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Crise à la Banque mondiale et au FMI

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Publié sur, par Eric Toussaint, le 2 février 2008.

Les soubresauts à la tête des grandes institutions financières internationales ne doivent pas être interprétés comme des affaires de personnes, mais comme les révélateurs d’une profonde crise du système. Or, les réformes proposés par les nouveaux patrons de la Banque mondiale et du FMI, Robert Zoellick et Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ne sont que des replâtrages visant à prolonger le plus longtemps possible le contrôle états-unien. Le moment est venu d’auditer ces institutions et de les repenser dans l’intérêt des pays en développement.: La Banque mondiale et le FMI vivent une grande crise de l’gitimité … (long texte entier).

World Vegetarian Congress 2008

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July 27-August 2, 2008 in Dresden, Germany: 38th IVU World Vegetarian Congress.

The countdown has begun: The Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands e.V. VEBU is organising the 38th IVU World Vegetarian Congress in the regional capital under the motto 100 Years of Food Revolution.

Prof. Dr. Eugen Drewermann, the famous church critic and vegetarian will attend.

A very special centenary will be celebrated in Dresden in the summer of 2008 – and the preparations are already in full swing: A World Vegetarian Congress returns to the German regional capital after exactly 100 years. Besides many other prominent vegetarian speakers, Eugen Drewermann, probably the best known contemporary German theologist and animal rights’ protagonist will lecture at the congress.

Together with the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) the “Vegetarier- Bund Deutschlands (VEBU) is organising this extraordinary congress that will take place in Dresden’s cultural palace. The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) is assisting the organisors.

The motto “100 Years of Food Revolution” reflects the increasing popularity of innovative, meat-free nutrition up to the current day.

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Who Was Milton Friedman?

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Published on New York Review of Books, by Paul Krugman, February 15, 2007.

The history of economic thought in the twentieth century is a bit like the history of Christianity in the sixteenth century. Until John Maynard Keynes published The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money in 1936, economics’ at least in the English-speaking world – was completely dominated by free-market orthodoxy. Heresies would occasionally pop up, but they were always suppressed. Classical economics, wrote Keynes in 1936, “conquered England as completely as the Holy Inquisition conquered Spain.” And classical economics said that the answer to almost all problems was to let the forces of supply and demand do their job.

But classical economics offered neither explanations nor solutions for the Great Depression …

… Milton Friedman played three roles in the intellectual life of the twentieth century. There was Friedman the economist’s economist, who wrote technical, more or less apolitical analyses of consumer behavior and inflation. There was Friedman the policy entrepreneur, who spent decades campaigning on behalf of the policy known as monetarism finally seeing the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England adopt his doctrine at the end of the 1970s, only to abandon it as unworkable a few years later. Finally, there was Friedman the ideologue, the great popularizer of free-market doctrine.

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Obama versus Clinton

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To understand what I mean please listen first the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

I write you this text in the morning of Super-Tuesday, meditating about a difference between the two democrat champions. As a Swiss citizen I look at this question with a view for the whole humanity, with in mind what John Perkins tells us.

For me it is obvious that not only third world presidents are blackmailed, as John Perkins tells us, for me ALL US Presidents have always lived the same threat. So, one of the question is:

Who, Obama or Clinton, has more chance to resist the threats of the worldwide financial hawks, having a secure basis in the US (as in many other countries). Continue Reading…

A lesson in how to create Iraqi orphans

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… and then how to make life worse for them

Published on The Independent, by Robert Fisk, 24 January 2008.

It’s not difficult to create orphans in Iraq. If you’re an insurgent, you can blow yourself up in a crowded market. If you’re an American air force pilot, you can bomb the wrong house in the wrong village. Or if you’re a Western mercenary, you can fire 40 bullets into the widowed mother of 14-year-old Alice Awanis and her sisters Karoon and Nora, the first just 20, the second a year older. But when the three girls landed at Amman airport from Baghdad last week they believed that they were free of the horrors of Baghdad and might travel to Northern Ireland to escape the terrible memory of their mother’s violent death …

Continue Reading…

Updated WTO trade statistics online

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(also in french and spanish)

Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

The WTO has released two updated statistical publications. This year’s edition of the annual International Trade Statistics, and an updated Trade Profiles, which offers a quick but comprehensive look at WTO members’ trade statistics and policy measures as well as those of countries negotiating WTO membership.

Download the complete International Trade Statistics 2007 file in pdf format;

International Trade Statistics 2007;

Order paper version from online bookshop;

Guide to downloading files from the WTO website;

Homepage for the public.

Call for Applications

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Linked with WITNESS.

The WITNESS Video Advocacy Institute VAI, the first of its kind, is an innovative program that trains human rights defenders to successfully integrate video advocacy into their campaigns. The 2008 VAI will be held in association with Concordia University’s Communications Studies Program and Documentary Centre in Montreal, Canada from July 19 – August 2, 2008 …

This intensive and participatory training program will provide an immersive introduction in video advocacy for a group of 25-30 dedicated human rights advocates from across the globe working on some of the most challenging human rights issues facing our world today. Specifically, the VAI is aimed at:

  • Advocacy-focused staff members in human rights organization. They will develop a project during the VAI and implement the project through production, editing and strategic distribution after the course;
  • A limited number of individual activists with a record of successful collaboration with human rights organizations.

… (full text).

… more information about:

Should you have any questions about WITNESS or the VAI, please do not hesitate to write us by e-mail.

Link: go to Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter, and find there some websites which may interest you:

… and many more.

The price of free speech

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Linked with Shereen Sazawar – Afghanistan.

Published on The Independent, leading article, 31 January 2008.

The idea that any individual in any country should face execution for downloading information from the internet is as abhorrent as it is incomprehensible. That this should be happening in a nation whose government benefits from the military and financial support of Western countries, Britain included, should give us great pause for thought. Pervez Kabaksh, 23, is a student at an Afghan university and a journalist. He was arrested last year after downloading material about the role of women in Islamic societies. We can well imagine that the material was not flattering to, or particularly consonant with, some of the precepts of Islam. Mr Kambaksh was charged, and last week convicted, of blasphemy. He had pleaded not guilty … (full text).

Oxfam International on Economic Partnership Agreements in 2008

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Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter, and linked with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Published on OXFAM uk, by Amy Barry, January 9, 2008.

We are disappointed that the EU has succeeded in pressuring so many African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to initial free trade deals, which we fear may have negative implications for development in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Developing countries were forced to choose between guaranteeing existing exports to the EU on the one hand, and safeguarding small farmers’ livelihoods and future economic growth on the other. It was an impossible choice.

Those countries that have initialed interim deals have done so under enormous pressure, with their backs against the wall. The negotiation process has been undemocratic and untransparent, with the European Commission resorting to threats and brinkmanship to get countries to fall into line. Member States that opposed the Commission did too little too late …

… For more information, contact Amy Barry on 01865 472313 or 07980 664397. (full text).

12th UN Conference on Trade and Development

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Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

UNCTAD XII will be held at ministerial level next April, 20-25, 2008 in Accra, Ghana. The conference is not only about defining UNCTAD�s programme but also about what is important for developing countries: a kind of development and trade paradigm which is later sometimes used, or abused by official institutions and donors. As developing countries have more say than at the WTO, there are some interesting positions being taken, sometimes reflected in the outcome which can be useful for NGOs. NGOs will have an official speaking slot at the conference, opportunities to lobby, to network and hold workshops. Obeserves can get accreditation at UNCTAD XII.

CSO/NGO Accreditation: Civil society organizations that do not have observer status but that wish to participate and to contribute to the conference and its preparatory process are encouraged to indicate to us their interest in being accredited at UNCTAD XII.

In order to be accredited, NGOs/CSOs which do not have observer status with UNCTAD are kindly requested to: read the Accreditation Procedures and complete the online Accreditation Questionnaire.

Important: the deadline of 31 January 2008 has been extended to 18 February 2008.

Video-debates about Economy and Society

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Linked with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Some of this videos may interest you:

WEF – Davos Annual Meeting 2008:

Some more videos about Economy: