Your Search Results

Index March 2008

Comment first! »

The World Economy, Where To?

Comment first! »

Published on Voltairenet.org / Indicators, March 25, 2008.

Since the international insurance crisis, which started following the crisis of the real estate mortgage in the U.N., economists continue to decrease their expectations and estimations with regard to the economic growth rate. In its latest report, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Has decreased its expectations in relation with the American economic growth rate, pointing out that it will achieve in the first and second quarter 0,1% only.

4 Items:

  • 1): Syria Studies the Establishment of A Commission for Combating Monopoly and Stimulating Competition;
  • 2): The Saudi “al-Rajihi” will Enter the Kuwaiti Banking Market;
  • 3): Syria’s Tourist Face will Change in 2010;
  • 4): 1000 Telephone Lines for the Arab Summit.

The organization has expected also that the Euro zone to achieve a growth rate estimated at 0,5% in the first quarter of this year, without achieving any improvement in the second quarter. As for Japan, the organization has expected the Japanese growth rate to rise by 0.3 % in the first quarter, whereas it expected a growth rate of 0.2% in the second quarter.

Despite the Euro Zone and Japan have gotten benefit of the decline of the exchange rate of the American Dollar pposite to the Euro and the Yen, yet the rise of fuel prices and basic materials are additional pressing factors on the incomes of individuals in those countries.

1): Syria Studies the Establishment of A Commission for Combating Monopoly and Stimulating Competition: … (full text).

Auto Parts Workers Battle Demand to Cut Wages in Half

Comment first! »

Published on the monthly Labor Notes Magazine no. 349, by Wendy Thompson, April 2008.

Holbrook Avenue is a busy thoroughfare stretching from I-75 to downtown Hamtramck, a small town enclosed on all sides by Detroit. Cars honk in support of striking members of UAW Local 235 as they pass five picket lines filled 24 hours a day on both sides of the street along the large American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) complex.

There are five more lines going south on St. Aubin Street, and two to the north. Spirits are high, and strikers are dressed warmly to face the bitter tail of winter weather.

More than 3,600 American Axle workers have been on strike since February 26 at this plant and four other plants in Detroit and Three Rivers, Michigan, and two Buffalo suburbs, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda, New York. The plants produce the axles and parts for every General Motors light truck and SUV built in North America. Their chokehold on auto production was quickly felt: 28 GM plants at press time have stopped their lines as a result of the strike …

… UNION PROMISED CUTS

After the strike began, documents surfaced from negotiations showing that prior to the strike, the UAW International had been willing to cut both skilled trades and production workers’ wages by up to $5 an hour.

Continue Reading…

Western Double Standards and the new United Nations

Comment first! »

Linked with Anthony Ravlich – New Zealand.

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Anthony Ravlich, 13 March, 2006.

… What is rarely ever discussed is the reasons for prioritizing civil and political rights. Paul Hunt, presently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Health, quoted The great (African) jurist Chief Justice Dumbutshena of Zimbabwe, who delivered a speech at the 1990 Commonwealth Law Conference when he referred to the political nature of human rights in the West. He stated: Human rights is an ideology used to achieve power. It has been used hypocritically by the middle classes, in efforts to protect only their own rights (Human Rights – How are they Best Protected, ed Paul Hunt, publisher New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Dec 1999).

In essence there appears to be three human rights areas which reflect Western double standards:

Global food prices rise and famine increases

Comment first! »

Published on WSWS, by Barry Mason, 29 March 2008.

The United Nations body World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in global food prices will reduce its ability to feed hungry and malnourished people.

Speaking last month in Rome, where the WFP is based, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, Our ability to reach people is going down just as needs go up…. We are seeing a new face of hunger in which people are being priced out of the food market…. Situations that were previously not urgent – they are now.

In a press release, the WFP gave a new estimate for the funds needed for its work this year at nearly US$3.5 billion, half a billion more than estimated last year. This money is for approved projects to feed 73 million people in 78 countries throughout the world. It notes that this money is for projected feeding schemes and does not include unforeseen emergencies that may arise …

… The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it will cut the amount of food aid it provides. It blamed the recent sharp increase in commodity prices, which have left it with a US$120 million budget deficit.

Continue Reading…

In Booming India, Hunger Kills 6′000 Kids Daily

Comment first! »

Publihed on CNN-IBN, by Mridu Bhandari, 29 March, 2008.

Two million children in India die and turn into statistics every year. That’s about 6,000 deaths everyday. A CNN-IBN Special Investigation travelled to the rural heartlands of UP to document deaths and cases of malnutrition for a special edition of 30 Minutes. Here’s the first installment from UP’s Varanasi and Lalitpur districts.

Jaharunnissah lost her only son to hunger about two months ago. Four-year-old Khusbuddin was emaciated and weighed a mere 6.5 kg at the time of his death. Jaharunnissah lost her only son to hunger about two months ago. Four-year-old Khusbuddin was emaciated and weighed a mere 6.5 kg at the time of his death …

… Very often, there are no medical facilities. Primary health centres in many places are understaffed and almost non-functional.

Says Dr Sanjeev Kumar of Primary Health Centre (Hingora), PHC mein rehne ke liye doctors ko staff milna chahiye, ward boy hona chahiye, sweeper hona chahiye, nurses honi chahiye kuch bhi nahin hain. final toh patient ko hi face karna hoga (We need doctors, sweepers, nurses and ward boys to run a PHC. There’s nothing here. Ultimately the patient has to suffer).

Continue Reading…

Failed fascist states

Comment first! »

Linked with Pablo Ouziel – Spain, and with The Grim Reality of Economic Truths.

Published on Al Jazeera, by Pablo Ouziel, February 29, 2008.

When Hermann Hesse warned of the rise of fascism in Germany he was rejected by a majority of the population. The truth is that most people were experiencing first hand the benefits of fascist ideology. Today we look at that part of our global history with shame, asking ourselves how something like Auschwitz could be allowed to happen. The problem is that while we identify it in our past, we are reluctant to acknowledge it happening in our present.

During the rise of the short-lived Nazi empire, criticizing Hitler and his party to the average German civilian would have undoubtedly received strong rejection. Today the same holds true to critics of the mighty democratic empire, built by the U.S. with the submissive support of its client states.

As human beings we can justify our current state of affairs by looking at the past and indulging in the illusion that things today are better than yesterday, but holding on to that thought will only guarantee, as the Spanish would say, food for today and hunger for tomorrow. Arrogance and ignorance brought down Nazism but the lesson was not learned …

… When we understand that we are living in failed states, we can objectively acknowledge the fears surrounding the eminent failure of Pakistan and reflect on those facing our own western reality. Our failed banking system which is loosing billions of dollars a day, our debt ridden countries, our lost imperial wars against people who resisted more than we assumed.

Continue Reading…

Notes from a Dying Nation

Comment first! »

Number One, Part 3

Published on Atlantic Free Press, by Eric Larsen, March 23, 2008.

… Chapter 3: Terrorism:

It’s been said since antiquity that politics is dirty. But there is, even so, a highly significant difference between dirty politics and terrorism. Usually, dirty politics stops short of murder, torture, breach of international law, and ongoing crimes against humanity. As a rule, the dirty methods in dirty politics are not, do not become, and do not remain the sole means or method of gaining or holding power, nor the sole means of shaping or directing political change.

The Bush-Cheney administration is far beyond the realm of dirty politics and has been so from the very beginning of its so-called tenure. From the beginning, yes, even from before the beginning, it cheated and lied and deceived. It then very quickly – with 9/11 – resorted to mass murder, treason, and criminal destruction of extreme proportions. Seizing the advantage it had gained by terrifying the American public, the administration turned immediately to the use of torture, the elimination of habeas corpus and other constitutionally guaranteed rights, the breach both of international law generally and of international conventions of war particularly, and, making use again of lies, deceit, and terror, it illegally invaded two innocent nations, and in just one of them so has so far murdered 1,173,743 of its people, driven countless more from their homes and even from their country, has brought disease, poverty, and malnutrition to millions, and to countless others has brought the unspeakable horrors, suffering, and ruinous birth defects caused by the use of depleted uranium, or U-238, in weaponry, with its radioactive half-life of 4.51 billion years.

This entire program of systemic murder, ruin, criminality, and destruction has been made possible for the monsters seeking and executing it by means of one thing alone. That one thing is this group’s sole political tool, and it is through the use of this single, constantly reapplied, and incessantly visible and present tool that the group is now victorious. That one, single tool is the instillation of terror into people.

When terrified, people will do things that in other circumstances they would not, or very likely would not, do.
Continue Reading…

Forced marriages

Comment first! »

launching of CD: everything one needs to know about legal aspects of marriage

Published on l’express de Mauritanie, by Pauline ETIENNE, 26 mars 2008.

(A CD with (the french title) ‘La Loi Mariage’ as title was launched yesterday (what about a CD in english? This is not precised). This short film giving important legal explanations has been distributed to NGOs to inform would-be couples of their rights and duties):

  • Legal definition of marriage: Marriage is the union of two persons of different sex who decide to live together and found a family. Any person above 18 years old has the right to get married. The law also states that those aged between 16 and 18 years old have the right to marry but only with their parents’ consent;
  • Conditions for a civil marriage: To get married, the two future spouses should be free (not married or divorced); there must be free consent and no objection should be made by other parties within the ten days of publication;
  • Types of marriage: … (full text);

Links:

Continue Reading…

Monsanto

Comment first! »

This article is about one of the biggest world corporations …

Linked with Siv O’Neall – Sweden, and with Axis of Logic (both Sept. 26, 2007).

The Monsanto Company (NYSE : MON) is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup” … (wikipedia, first paragraphe);

Links:

Continue Reading…

Swiss brush aside criticism over gas contract with Iran

Comment first! »

Published on Business Times online, by Carl Mortished, March 24, 2008.

A multibillion-euro Swiss contract to buy natural gas from Iran has provoked threats from Washington, protests from Jewish groups and fuelled mounting concern about Europe’s energy security.

The deal between the Zurich utility Elektrizit’ts-Gesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) and National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) would bring gas from Iran to Europe as early as next year, the Swiss company said.

The contract, worth between $10 billion ($7.8 billion) and $20 billion, was signed last week in Tehran in the presence of Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss Foreign Minister, and President Ahmadinejad.

However, the deal to supply 5.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year for up to 25 years was condemned by the US State Department, which said that it would investigate the deal’s compliance with the Iran Sanctions Act …

Continue Reading…

EU told to prepare for flood of climate change migrants

Comment first! »

Published on The Guardian, by Ian Traynor, March 10, 2008.

In its half-century history, the EU has absorbed wave upon wave of immigrants. There were the millions of political migrants fleeing Russian-imposed communism to western Europe throughout the cold war, the post-colonial and “guest worker” migrants who poured into western Europe in the boom years of the 1950s and 60s, the hundreds of thousands who escaped the Balkan wars of the 90s and the millions of economic migrants of the past decade seeking a better life.

Now, according to the EU’s two senior foreign policy officials, Europe needs to brace itself for a new wave of migration with a very different cause – global warming. The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are engendering a new type of refugee, the “environmental migrant” …

… Europe, the officials imply, needs to get its act together if there is to be any chance of managing the apocalyptic scenarios outlined. What the report does not say is that if demographics are any measure of potential power, Europe’s task is that much harder.

The average European is currently aged 39 and Europeans, including Russians, make up some 11% of the world’s population of 6.7 billion.

Continue Reading…

Who Would You Help?

Comment first! »

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Tim Buchholz, 21 March, 2008.

The Federal Reserve recently announced they would be releasing an additional $200 Billion into the market to help ease the credit crunch brought on by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. They are releasing this liquidity in the form of Treasury Securities. The US Treasury’s website, www.treasurydirect.gov, describes Treasury Securities as part of the Public debt. They explain this debt as all federal debt held by individuals, corporations, state or local governments, foreign governments, and other entities outside the United States.

According to an article by Jeannine Aversa in AP called Fed Easing Liquidity in Foreign Markets, the Federal Reserve will offer this capital in auctions starting March 27 to big Wall Street investment houses and banks. These companies will be able to buy these Securities using their sub-prime mortgage loans as collateral. So, we are letting the banks use these bad loans to buy good loans backed by our tax dollars, and the Fed is offering our tax dollars (or future tax dollars) to bail out the banking industry.

Are the banks offering this same option to their customers? …

Continue Reading…

The Collapse Of American Power

Comment first! »

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Paul Craig Roberts, 21 March, 2008.

… From their inception, America’s 21st century wars against Afghanistan and Iraq have been red ink wars financed by foreigners, principally the Chinese and Japanese, who purchase the US Treasury bonds that the US government issues to finance its red ink budgets.

The Bush administration forecasts a $410 billion federal budget deficit for this year, an indication that, as the US saving rate is approximately zero, the US is not only dependent on foreigners to finance its wars but also dependent on foreigners to finance part of the US government’s domestic expenditures. Foreign borrowing is paying US government salaries–perhaps that of the President himself–or funding the expenditures of the various cabinet departments. Financially, the US is not an independent country.

Continue Reading…

The American Insanity Conundrum

Comment first! »

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Timothy V. Gatto, 21 March, 2008.

It just goes to show that some people will never get it. The Progressive Press has whipped up a cauldron of molten ire against George W. Bush’s statement that the war in Iraq was worth it. My God, how could he say such a thing? The Progressive Press remarks; Doesn’t he know that almost 4,000 Americans and untold Iraqi’s have died in a quagmire? Doesn’t he realize that the cost of this war is in the trillions? Doesn’t he realize that we are no closer to victory than we were five long years ago?

Sure he does. He just doesn’t really care. He feels that as long as the defense contractors are making windfall profits along with Halliburton and their subsidiary KBR, and are getting gigantic no-bid contracts, and the Federal Reserve pours trillions of dollars at interest into the economy, making the bankers rich, and as long as the oil companies can get their hands on that Iraqi oil, the world is a great place. If you believe that he sees anything as wrong or right, you have a problem with your perception.

The Neo-Con’s in Washington don’t give a flying Goddamn about who says what about anything. They feel that as long as they are in control and can prosecute this war, they are doing what is in the best interests of the Military Industrial Corporate Complex. That’s the long and short of it, the alpha and the omega. If you think you can shame them into ending this war you don’t know what you are up against. The corporations, the bankers, the Federal Reserve, the defense contractors and the oil companies want this thing to go on forever.

The only way that we are going to stop it, is to make them stop it … (full text).

Continue Reading…

Displaced women tell of misery in the chaos

Comment first! »

Linked with Judy Thongori – Kenya.

Published on Leadership for Change, by Rosemary Okello and Joyce Chimbi, January 20, 2008.

A group of women displaced by the on-going political chaos converged at Jamhuri Park grounds in Nairobi to share their experiences. They met under PeaceNet’s initiative dubbed Let the Women Talk.

According to one of the organisers of the forum, Mr Mortein Heise, the session provided the victims with an opportunity to exchange views on what caused the situation and possible solutions. “Providing space for women to express their views is a way of trying to find healing for them,” said Heise.

The session brought together more than 100 women. “I don’t even know where to begin, I have lost my two children, my husband and everything I ever worked for,” said Dorothy … (full text).

Asma Jahangir calls on J&K leaders

Comment first! »

Linked with Asma Jahangir – Pakistan.

Published on The Hindu, by Luv Puri, March 8, 2008.

Jammu: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, who is on a fact-finding mission to Jammu and Kashmir, called on Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday. The visit has attracted attention in the State and across the country as this is a rare occasion when the Centre has allowed a U.N. rapporteur to make a field assessment in Jammu and Kashmir. Ms. Jahangir, a prominent human rights activist of Pakistan, arrived on Thursday and met leaders of political parties, human rights activists and cultural groups. She visited the office of the National Conference and met its political brass. She also had a meeting with Gujjar leaders …

… She said: One must have a bigger perspective of the verdict of the Pakistan elections. It is not just a verdict for change in the political leadership of the country. People have voted with a specific agenda and the political elite of Pakistan must honour that verdict. Human rights institutions need to be strengthened in Pakistan. One must draw a distinction between democracy and governance. Governance is also important in a democratic system in ensuring human rights are not violated. (full text).

Links:

New Delhi (PTI): Holding out hope for Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, noted Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir on Wednesday said people at the “high levels” are working hard to secure reprieve for him (full text), March 19, 2008;

Continue Reading…

Tibetan Protest-Video

Comment first! »

Tibetan Uprising

According to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy TCHRD, a fresh demonstration erupted this morning (March 18) at around 10 AM (Beijing Time) in Labrang, Sangchu County, Kanlho “TAP” Gansu Province in the eastern part of the Tibetan area as a follow-up to yesterday’s demonstration staged by monks of Tashikyil Monastery which was later joined by thousands of Tibetans in the area … and more.

See more: Video of Protest in Amdo Labrang, Tibet, 4.19 min, posted March 15, 2008; March 15, 2008: 4000-5000 Tibetans gather in Amdho Labrang to demonstrate against the Chinese occupation of Tibet; Tibetan Uprising: Students for a Free Tibet; country summary for CHINA; (take action and learn more); still more about China; act on the current situation in Tibet; freedom of opinion & expression; freedom of religion & belief; OlympMics; protest; Tibet; uprising.

More Links:

Continue Reading…

Announcing the Orion Project

Comment first! »

Linked with Steven M. Greer – USA, and with The Disclosure Project.

Received by mail:

From: AERO Announcements
Date: 18/03/2008

(pasted just like that): A new non-profit research foundation named The Orion Project has been created to develop new, out-of-the-box energy solutions.

Based near the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, The Orion Project has been founded to bring together highly accomplished scientists, researchers, inventors and thinkers who have expertise in advanced energy generation and propulsion technologies. Their goal is to develop bold new energy generation technologies within the next two years that will completely replace the need for oil, gas, coal and nuclear power.

It is known that, since the time of Nicola Tesla in the early 1900s, advances in energy generation and propulsion systems have been developed, only to be ignored, actively suppressed or forgotten. The Orion Project’s Director, Steven M. Greer MD, notes that:

“In the past 18 years, our team has developed a database of scientific advances in new, clean tech energy systems that, if properly funded and supported, have the potential to completely revolutionize how we generate energy. These breakthroughs in physics- so-called Zero Point Energy, electro-gravitic propulsion and other systems- have, up to this point, been developed and hidden in illegally classified projects in the US, UK and elsewhere. The Orion Project has identified the most qualified brain-trust of scientists and inventors who understand this new science, and are ready to come together to help solve the energy and environmental crisis facing humanity today.”

Continue Reading…

Indian FAX ACTION about Coca-Cola

Comment first! »

CLOSE Bottling Plants in Kala Dera and Mehdiganj

Linked with India Resource Center, and with no water for peoples need.

Published by India Resource Center, March 17, 2008.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Support the communities of Kala Dera and Mehdiganj by sending the free fax below to the CEO of Coca-Cola and join the growing community resistance in India in demanding that Coca-Cola STOP Destroying Lives, Livelihoods and Communities in India and Internationally …

… Coca-Cola in India is Guilty of:

  • Causing Severe Water Shortages for Communities Across India;
  • Polluting Groundwater and Soil Around its Bottling Facilities;
  • Selling Drinks with Extremely High Levels of Pesticides.

A study funded by Coca-Cola and conducted by Coca-Cola’s ally has confirmed in January 2008 that Coca-Cola contributes significantly to water shortages and pollution. The study has also recommended the closure of the bottling plant in Kala Dera.

Communities in India need the critical support of the international community right now to pressure Coca-Cola to do the right thing.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Continue Reading…

Africa’s new colonialists?

Comment first! »

Published on Mining Exploration (pakuntaka.org), by Sapa-dpa, not dated.

When China signed trade deals worth $1.9bn with African countries last November, without any conditions on reforms and human rights, a German development official warned Africans they risked becoming Chinese subjects.

Our African partners really have to watch out that they will not be facing a new process of colonisation, Karin Kortmann, Parliamentary State Secretary at German Development Ministry, remarked …

… Promises of investment:

Promises of investment in refineries, power plants and agriculture were a condition for China getting oil rights in Nigeria, while in Angola, now China’s largest oil supplier, the Asian state granted $4bn in loans towards post-war reconstruction.

Sudan’s oil industry has also benefited from Chinese investment. The east African country now exports about $2bn in oil, half of which goes to China, explaining its refusal to condemn Khartoum over the Darfur crisis.

Of growing concern for institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the pace at which African countries are ratcheting up debt with China.

Continue Reading…

Malaysia’s democratic opening

Comment first! »

Published on OpenDemocracy, by Bridget Welsh, March 11, 2008.

The historic defeat of Malaysia’s ruling coalition represents a break with the closed, racialised politics that have dominated the country’s politics since independence in 1957, says Bridget Welsh.

… The final self-inflicted wound for the BN came in the last stages of the campaign, when it launched an all-out personal attack on Anwar Ibrahim; this backfired in the Malay community, the very ethnic base that the BN was depending on to win in a polity that has traditionally voted along ethnic lines. This reaction became part of a general trend as Malaysians abandoned the pattern of ethnic voting, with all groups voting for the opposition in large numbers; the largest anti-government swing was in the Indian Malaysian community, which has traditionally been loyal to the BN coalition.

Continue Reading…

Creating a Path To Peace in Kenya

Comment first! »

Published on The Green Belt Movement, by Wangari Maathai, (Source: Washington Post), February 8, 2008.

It’s make-or-break time for Kenya. After weeks of standoff, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, who both claim to have won the Dec. 27 presidential election, are engaged in negotiations. Each side in the talks, presided over by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, has agreed to a peace plan …

… Most Africans didn’t understand the new nation-state and remained largely loyal, and attached, to their micro-nationalities. The ruling elites, in turn, remained aloof and distant. Often they spoke a foreign language, adopted a foreign culture, and frustrated or dashed the hopes they’d raised before independence.

Even today, for ordinary Africans, a threat to their micro-nationality or those they consider their leaders resonates more than a threat to the nation. Tribal clashes are also fueled by poverty, corruption and a perception that national resources are not equitably distributed. Micro-nationalities yearn for one of their own to become president so the community will have its “time to eat.”

Continue Reading…

Beijing’s political tightrope-walk

Comment first! »

Published on OpenDemocracy, by Kerry Brown, March 12, 2008.

China’s leadership has reason to be afraid of China’s people as it navigates a difficult course in the path to the Olympics, says Kerry Brown.

China’s premier Wen Jiabao has said that he is the world’s most worried man. Across his desk pass reports on the many issues that could endanger the country’s stability and halt its steady growth: environmental damage, energy-supply problems, social unrest among them. At night, in the peaceful seclusion of the central Zhongnanhai compound next to Beijing’s “forbidden city”, the worries must if anything intensify. Wen’s years as a consummate political insider and survivor may have brought him to a commanding political position – but nothing can have prepared him (or indeed anyone) for the task of steering the mighty entity that the People’s Republic of China has become on a stable and sustainable course (see “China goes global“, 2 August 2008) …

… A balancing-act:

Continue Reading…

US/IRAN: Blowback of War Likely to Be Terrible

Comment first! »

Published on IPSnews, by Charles Davis, March 10, 2008.

… Since the release of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear capabilities last December, the prevailing conventional wisdom has been that the report’s finding that Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear weapons had derailed the possibility of the George W. Bush administration launching a military strike before leaving office.

In the months preceding the report’s release, the anti-Iranian rhetoric coming out of Washington had been increasingly bellicose, with President Bush suggesting that allowing Iran to gain “the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” could ultimately lead to “World War III”.

The release of the NIE – the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence services – and its conclusion that Iran halted efforts to pursue nuclear weapons “in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure” appeared to be a serious blow to proponents of military action.

Continue Reading…

Fallon’s No Iran War Line Angered White House

Comment first! »

Published on IPSnews, by Gareth Porter, March 7, 2008.

A new article on CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon confirms that his public statements last fall ruling out war against Iran last fall were not coordinated with the White House and landed him in trouble more than once with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In an admiring article on Fallon in Esquire, former Pentagon official Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that Fallon angered the White House by “brazenly challenging” Bush on his aggressive threat of war against Tehran. Barnett also cites “well-placed observers” as saying Bush may soon replace Fallon with a “more pliable” commander.

Barnett’s account, which quotes conversations with Fallon during the CENTCOM commander’s trips to the Middle East, shows that Fallon privately justified his statements contradicting the Bush policy of keeping the “option” of an unprovoked attack on Iran “on the table” as necessary to calm the fears of Egypt and other friendly Arab regimes of a U.S.-Iran war.

Continue Reading…

Women in Afghanistan

Comment first! »

Publised on the World Prout Assembly, by Christian Parenti, 28 November 2006.

Under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were severely oppressed. The idea of their liberation was used to sell the Afghan war as a war of liberation. But the condition of women in the new Afghanistan is precarious at best. While the Taliban’s members were oppressive moralists who forbade kite flying and listening to music and, at times, the education of women, they did at least impose a type of simple law and order. The new regime, in contrast, is marked by general insecurity in which women are the most vulnerable group.

In Kabul many professional women no longer wear the burka, but many still do. In the countryside a severe version of purdah – the Muslim principle of secluding and protecting women – is so strictly enforced that many men never touch or see a woman other than their mothers or pre-pubescent sisters and cousins until well into their late 20s.

Continue Reading…

Iraq: Women’s Day

Comment first! »

Surviving Somehow Behind a Concrete Purdah

Published on IPS, by Dahr Jamail, March 6, 2008.

… Iraq, where women once had more rights and freedom than most others in the Arab world, has turned deadly for women who dream of education and a professional career.

Former dictator Saddam Hussein maintained a relatively secular society, where it was common for women to take up jobs as professors, doctors and government officials. In today’s Iraq, women are being killed by militia groups for not conforming to strict Islamist ways.

Basra police chief Gen. Jalil Hannoon told reporters and Arab TV channels in December that at least 40 women had been killed during the previous five months in that city alone.

“We are sure there are many more victims whose families did not report their killing for fear of scandal,” Gen. Hannoon said …

Continue Reading…

Democracy in the network age: time to WeThink

Comment first! »

Published on Open Democracy, by Charles Leadbeater, March 5, 2008.

The new communications technologies are a toolkit for enriching and deepening democracy – and their greatest impact will be in the global south, says Charles Leadbeater.

There are a host of reasons for doubting that the collaborative culture of the web – which I call We Think – will be good for democracy.

More people being able to voice their views does not guarantee better debate. It could just mean more squabbling.

Democracy depends on creating public spaces where people of different minds debate and resolve their differences. Yet when people engage in political debate on the web they often talk to those they already agree with.

Instead of facing hardened, diligent journalists who know how to dig away at a scandal, politicians will lord it over a Lilliputian rabble of ill-equipped amateurs who can be easily ignored.

Continue Reading…

The Grim Reality of Economic Truths

Comment first! »

Linked with Pablo Ouziel – Spain, and with Failed fascist states.

Published on Global Research, by Pablo Ouziel, March 6, 2008.

An excerpt: … America’s “new business cycle” which began in the 1980’s has created as Thomas Palley ex Chief Economist with the US-China Economic Security Review Commission puts it, large trade deficits, manufacturing job loss, asset price inflation, rising debt-to-income ratios, and detachment of wages from productivity growth. It has used financial booms to support debt-financed spending, an easing of credit standards to support borrowing, and cheap imports to ameliorate the effects of wage stagnation. As Palley puts it, with “debt burdens elevated and housing prices significantly above levels warranted by their historical relation to income, the business cycle of the last two decades appears exhausted”.

According to the New York Times, the sound fundamentals Bush likes to refer to, are alarmingly parallel to the Japan’s lost decade, when the Japanese economy after a long boom in the 1990’s, was stopped by a sharp fall in the real estate market causing a stretch of stagnation which ended only a few years ago. Clyde V. Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, says “the American economy is very fragile now,” a sentiment which is echoed by Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, who warns that “the roughly $100 billion in bad loans reported by banks to date could increase nearly tenfold, as the defaults spread beyond the subprime mortgage loans to consumer loans, credit cards and corporate lending”.

Continue Reading…

Russian Blog roundup

Comment first! »

Linked with Peter Nalitch – Russian Federation.

Published on Siberian Light, The Russia Blog, by Andy, March 7, 2008.

There are so many high quality posts out there at the moment, that I think I might just manage to get through a whole roundup without mentioning the election … (follows a long list of Russian Blogs. Go there an see yourself).

Another video: Apple a day can’t help the devil away!, 2.22 min, September 07, 2007.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: power versus principle

Comment first! »

Linked with Fred Halliday – Ireland.

Published on Open Democracy, by Fred Halliday, March 5, 2008.

The rise of “sovereign wealth funds” signals the end of the neo-liberal model and challenges western states and financial institutions to develop a coherent and long-term response, says Fred Halliday.

Two excerpts: The world’s financial press has a new obsession to succeed the “sub-prime mortgage” craze of autumn 2007: “sovereign wealth funds”, those state-backed investment bodies whose accumulating assets (often fuelled by the high energy prices of the 2000s) are roaming the globe in search of businesses to invest in, partner – and perhaps devour.

The enormous capital assets of these funds, and their potential influence on western markets and business, make the focus (and to a degree the fear) understandable; but some at least of the reporting and discussion about these new behemoths in the western media has a bias towards misunderstanding.

Continue Reading…

Large Potential Albanian Oil And Gas …

Comment first! »

… Discovery Underscores Kosovo’s Importance

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Stephen Lendman, 20 February, 2008.

On January 10, Swiss-based Manas Petroleum Corporation broke the news. Gustavson Associates LLC’s Resource Evaluation identified large prospects of oil and gas reserves in Albania, close to Kosovo. They’re in areas called blocks A, B, C, D and E, encompassing about 780,000 acres along the northwest to southeast “trending (geological) fold belt of northwestern Albania” …

… In December 2007, Albania’s Council of Ministers allowed DWM Petroleum, AG, a Manas subsidiary, to assist in the exploration, development and production of Albania’s oil and gas reserves in conjunction with the government’s Agency of Natural Resources.

Continue Reading…

IRAN in the Crosshairs

Comment first! »

Published on FPIF, by Phyllis Bennis, February 28, 2008.

Dowonload the full report, 44 pdf-pages.

Excerpt of the Editor’s Note: … Just a couple of days before Bush’s January 2008 trip to Israel, the Pentagon reported an incident in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian speed boats had allegedly swarmed between and among three large U.S. warships heading into the Persian Gulf, broadcasting threatening messages that the U.S. ships were about to explode and dropping small box-like objects onto the seas. Just as the sailors were aiming their guns at the provocateurs, the Iranian boats reversed course and sped away.

Reuters described how the boats aggressively approached the U.S. ships. The Pentagon called it areless, reckless and potentially hostile, the White House reckless and provocative. Numerous Persian speakers pointed out that the voice making the threats did not sound like a Persian accent. The U.S. Navy itself acknowledged that they had no idea where the voice making the threats had actually come from. Quickly the words Tonkin Gulf incident were on many lips. Many remembered August 4, 1964, the attack on a U.S. Naval ship off the coast of Vietnam Lyndon Johnson used as a pretext for sending troops to Vietnam. Years later the world learned that the alleged attack had never occurred at all; it was cooked up. Would the swarming boat incident in the Strait of Hormuz serve as George Bush’s Tonkin Gulf? … (full text).

The auction-rate securities fiasco

Comment first! »

Published on Online Journal, by Peter Morici, Feb 29, 2008.

I don’t know how Broadway sells tickets these days when folly is in so plain array on Wall Street. Auction-rate securities drama provides the latest tale of greed and betrayal.

Investors are stuck with big losses, because investment banks miscalculated their own risks and are putting it to their clients, again.

Municipalities and public agencies, like the New York Dormitory Authority, require long-term financing for big projects …

… Rather than taking possession of unsold securities, bankers told investors their liquid investments are temporarily frozen and will be paid the lower penalty rates issuers are bound to pay if the market doesn?t clear.

Now, many investment banks are pulling back or withdrawing from the market.

Continue Reading…

Confessions Of A Gitmo Guard

Comment first! »

Published on Counterpunch, by Debbie Nathan, February 27, 2008.

A psychiatrist who has treated former military personnel at Guantanamo prison camp is telling a story of prisoner torture and guard suicide there, recounted to him by a National Guardsman who worked at Guantanamo just after it opened.

Dr. John R. Smith, 75, is a Oklahoma City psychiatrist who has done worked at military posts during the past few years. He is also a consultant for the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services, and is affiliated with the Veteran’s Affairs Administration Hospital in Oklahoma City. The court-appointed psychiatric examination of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, was conducted by Smith. A few years ago, he became a contract physician, treating active duty members of the US military in need of psychotherapy.

Continue Reading…

It does happen in America …

Comment first! »

… The political trial of Don Siegelman

Linked with Paul Craig Roberts – USA.

Published on Online Journal, by Paul Craig Roberts, Feb 29, 2008.

Don Siegelman, a popular Democratic governor of Alabama, a Republican state, was framed in a crooked trial, convicted on June 29, 2006, and sent to Federal prison by the corrupt and immoral Bush administration.

The frame-up of Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy is so crystal clear and blatant that 52 former state attorneys general from across America, both Republicans and Democrats, have urged the US Congress to investigate the Bush administration?s use of the US Department of Justice to rid themselves of a Democratic governor whom “they could not beat fair and square,” according to Grant Woods, former Republican Attorney General of Arizona and co-chair of the McCain for President Leadership Committee. Woods says that he has never seen a case with so “many red flags pointing to injustice.” [A Republican former AG says Gov. Don Siegelman's case raised red flags, Birmingham News, February 25, 2008].

Continue Reading…

America and Europe

Comment first! »

Published on Project Syndicate, by Joschka Fischer, January 2008.

Deeply frustrated by the Bush administration’s policies, many people and governments in Europe hope for a fundamental change in American foreign policy after the upcoming presidential election. But it would take a medium-sized political miracle for these hopes not to be disappointed, and such a miracle will not happen – whoever is elected.

The Bush administration made numerous foreign-policy blunders with far-reaching consequences. But Bush neither invented American unilateralism nor triggered the transatlantic rift between the United States and Europe. To be sure, Bush reinforced both trends, but their real causes lie in objective historical factors, namely America’s being the sole world power since 1989 and Europe’s self-inflicted weakness. As long as America remains the sole world power, the next US President will be neither able nor willing to change the basic framework of America’s foreign policy …

… So what are the Europeans waiting for? Why not start now to overcome the traditional tension between NATO and the EU – especially as French policy toward NATO under President Nicolas Sarkozy has been moving in the right direction? A regular mutual presence of the Secretary General of NATO and of the head of EU foreign policy in the councils of both organizations doesn’t require much time and effort.

Continue Reading…