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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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Fisk - Syria Crisis: "In Sacred Maaloula, Where They Speak The Language Of Christ,

War Leads Neighbours Into Betrayal"

By Robert Fisk

Source: The Independent

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Diab family can never return to Maaloula. Not since the Christians of this beautiful and sacred town saw their Muslim neighbours leading the armed Nusrah Islamists to their homes. Georgios remembers how he peered over his balcony and saw Mohamed Diab and Ossama Diab and Yasser Diab and Hossam Diab and Khaled Turkik Qutaiman – all from Maaloula – walking in the street with men whom he said were dressed in Afghan-Pakistani clothes. “One of them had a Kalashnikov rifle in one hand and a sword in the other,” he says, shaking his head in disbelief.

Twenty years ago, identical tragedies destroyed the villages of Bosnia. Now they are being re-enacted in Syria. “We knew our Muslim neighbours all our lives,” Georgios says. He is a Catholic. “Yes, we knew the Diab family were quite radical, but we thought they would never betray us. We ate with them. We are one people.

“A few of the Diab family had left months ago and we guessed they were with the Nusra. But their wives and children were still here. We looked after them. Then, two days before the Nusra attacked, the families suddenly left the town. We didn’t know why. And then our neighbours led our enemies in among us.”

Not one of the 5,000 Christian residents – nor a single member of the 2,000-strong Muslim community – has returned. Maaloula is, almost literally, a ghost town. Only Georgios and his friend Hanna and a few other local Christian men who joined the “national defence” units to defend their homes, are left. At least 10 Christians were murdered when the Nusra militia began its series of attacks on Maaloula on 4 September, some of them shot – according to Hanna – when they refused to convert to Islam, others dispatched with a knife in the throat. And there is a terrifying historical irony about their deaths, for they were slaughtered within sight of the Mar Sarkis monastery, sacred to the memory of a Roman soldier called Sergius who was executed for his Christian beliefs 2,000 years ago.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/syria-crisis-in-sacred-maaloula-where-they-speak-the-language-of-christ-war-leads-neighbours-into-betrayal-by-robert-fisk.html

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

By Zoltan Grossman

October 2013

The U.S. and its allies have long been complicit in the manufacturing and use of biological and chemical weapons, yet have targeted other countries for alleged possession and use of these same weapons. This partial chronology is intended as a starting point for critical research and analysis of bio-chemical weaponry and foreign policy.

400s BC: Spartan Greeks use sulfur fumes against enemy soldiers.

256 AD: Sasanian Persian Empire may have used toxic smoke against Roman soldiers in a tunnel

1346: Tatars catapult plague-infected corpses into Italian trade settlement in Crimea.

1500s: Spanish conquistadors use biological warfare against indigenous peoples in the Americas.

1763: British General Jeffrey Amherst advocates use of smallpox blankets against Native peoples during Pontiac’s Rebellion. Smallpox blankets are given to Native delegates during talks at Fort Pitt.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-pot-calling-the-kettle-black-by-zoltan-grossman-1.html

edit to add: I in no way am making excuses for the use of any of these hideous weapons in Syria or anywhere else .... by anyone.

Four Decades After the First 9-11 in Chile

By Roger Bybee

October 2013

In short, the Chilean 9/11 resulted in the death of the democratically-elected president, ended a lengthy tradition of constitutionalism unique in Latin America, unleashed a startling reign of murder and torture in a peaceful nation, enthroned the cruel and avaricious dictator Augusto Pinochet, and provided Pinochet and his supporters among international corporate elites a free hand to establish the most extreme version of what came to be known as “neo-liberal” capitalism. Chile, in effect, shifted from an experiment in democratic socialism to a testing-ground for a “shock therapy” form of unregulated capitalism which—especially under the conditions of a repressive military dictatorship—was overtly dedicated to enriching multinational corporations and local elites while crushing and fragmenting unions and other forms of democratic organization among the increasingly impoverished working class and poor.

As Naomi Klein wrote in her classic Shock Doctrine, “the shock of the coup prepared the ground for economic shock therapy, creating an unstoppable hurricane of mutually reinforcing destruction and reconstruction, erasure and creation. The shock of the torture chamber terrorized anyone thinking of standing in the way of the economic shocks.” This paved the way for the introduction of ruthless policies labeled as “free-market” capitalism, which in practice actually meant state subsidies and support for major corporations and investors, while government assistance to workers and the poor was vastly reduced or eliminated.

Ultimately, four decades later, what the CIA called the “indelible residue” of poison remains in the bloodstream of Chilean society. Chilean labor remains constrained by Pinochet-era restrictions, average real wages are lower than in 1973, and Chile ranks as one of the most inegalitarian nations in the world.

This is a long, but good read imo. Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/four-decades-after-the-first-9-11-in-chile-by-roger-bybee.html

Hundreds of Bangladesh Garment Factories Shut Down as Women Take to Streets in Dhaka

By Laura Gottesdiener

Source: Waging Nonviolence

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Exclusive stores in Manhattan, London and Milan are busily stocking shelves with the one-shouldered dresses and Miley Cyrus-esque crop tops that were on display earlier in September at New York City’s Fashion Week.

But half a world away, in the city where the western world’s clothes are actually made, the sewing machines have stopped.

More than 300 garment factories are currently shut down in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as hundreds of thousands people — mostly women — take to the streets in the third day of sweeping protests for wage increases in the notoriously exploitative industry.

The latest round of protests began on Saturday, when approximately 50,000 women rallied in Dhaka to demand a wage increase to just over $100 a month. The rally appeared to have been aimed at actually stopping production rather than making appeals to public officials or the international community. About 10,000 women blocked the highway about 18 miles north of the capital city, halting traffic. Many of the remaining 40,000 women rallied outside various factories, forcing them to close operations for the day.

The demonstrations continued to grow on Sunday. By Monday, the police chief of the region’s industrial district reported that about 200,000 people employed in the garment industry were demonstrating in the streets, prompting the closure of some 300 factories that supply clothing to Walmart and other western companies. The desired wage increase, up to $103 a month, would represent a more than doubling of the women’s current salaries, which averages about $38 a month.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/hundreds-of-bangladesh-garment-factories-shut-down-as-women-take-to-streets-in-dhaka-by-laura-gottesdiener.html

India's Food Security Act: Myths and Reality

By Vandana Shiva

Source: Aljazeera

Monday, September 23, 2013


Reforms not working

However, both the food crisis and the economic crisis are a result of the so-called reforms. More people are denied their right to food because, on the one hand the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers are being destroyed to carry out the reforms of corporatising the agriculture sector, with corporate seeds and chemical products, and corporate procurement instead of public procurement. The result is debt, hunger and despair.

One out of every four Indians today is a victim of hunger. And half of the hungry are farmers who cannot eat what they grow, either because they are planting cash crops such as cotton; or they're growing costly crops such as rice, wheat and corn, which they have to sell in order to repay the loans they get to buy seeds, fertilisers, etc.

That is why lowering the cost of production and increasing the livelihood sustainability of small and marginal farmers must be the first step in building food security. However, the Food Security Act is totally silent on production, procurement, and farmers' livelihood and food rights. This in my view is its biggest failing.

The silence on production makes many people feel that the Food Security Act could increase India's dependence on food imports. We are already spending millions of dollars in importing and subsidising pulses - grain legumes - and edible oils. Until the Green Revolution, India was the biggest producer and exporter of oilseeds and pulses.The Greed Revolution which is based on rice and wheat production has destroyed our self-sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds, and the globalisation and libralisation of the food trade has made it worse. We need to introdruce tariffs on imports of edible oils and pulses, both to give our farmers a level playing field, and to reduce our trade and budget deficits.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/indias-food-security-act-myths-and-reality-by-vandana-shiva.html

The Winds of Change

By Mike Small

Source: Bella Caledonia

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It’s often sidelined in the media, but the energy focus we should be having – because it’s about our future – has just taken a massive step forward. Scotland now has the world's biggest wave farm and the largest tidal energy project in Europe.

It should be on every newspaper front page but isn’t because it doesn’t fit with the print media’s narrow agendas and obsessions.

Yesterday it was announced that the largest tidal energy project in Europe will be launching soon after permission was granted for the first stage in the Pentland Firth. It’s the first commercial deployment of tidal turbines in Scottish waters. A demonstration project will be built between Orkney and the mainland following the decision by the Scottish Government.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Today we have granted consent to MeyGen Limited to develop the largest tidal turbine array in Europe and the first commercial project off these shores.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-winds-of-change-by-mike-small.html

Sliding Back to a Victorian Age

By Roberto Savio

Source: Other News

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A recent report by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics has recently called attention to the fact that, at the present rate of inequality, by the year 2025, the United Kingdom will have returned to the unequal society of the end of the 19th century. In other words, we are going back to the times of Queen Victoria!

In 2010, the incomes of the chief executives of the 100 largest companies in the U.K. increased by 49 percent, while the average pay rise was just 2.7 percent. According to a European Banking Authority report, in 2010 and 2011, 2,436 U.K. bankers earned more than one million euro per year, against 162 in France and 36 in the Netherlands. Nearly 50 percent of the funding of Britains Conservative Party comes from the financial sector. No wonder that British Prime Minister David Cameron is obliged to choose the City over Europe.

The world trend is exactly the same. In China, there are 1.3 million millionaires. In its last report, Forbes, the magazine for the rich, happily informs its readers that the 2013 Forbes Billionaires list now boasts 1,426 names - including 122 in China - with an aggregate net worth of 5.4 trillion dollars, up from 4.6 trillion dollars. “We found 210 new ten-figure fortunes,” it says.

In other words, we could fill a 300-seat plane with the 300 richest persons in the world, yet their wealth exceeds the combined wealth of three billion people: nearly half of humankind.

So the real question is: in a vastly unjust society, does democracy work? Or does it become just a formal mechanism to accommodate those inside the system, and ignore the excluded? Do those 300 sitting in the plane of extreme wealth have the same view of the world as the 3 billion poor left on the ground? And if not, does their view of the world counts as much as that of the 300 people on the plane?

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/sliding-back-to-a-victorian-age-by-roberto-savio.html

It's only raining money and jewels and bonds and dividends on the top 1%.

And they aren't pulling out their umbrellas; they are stashing their money overseas and moving their factories to slave wage workforces in other nations.


Walk Free: The Movement to End Modern Slavery


Across the globe, an estimated 27 million people are currently living in modern slavery. Stripped of their dignity and humanity; forced to work effectively without pay; trapped behind bars and worse. The world’s most vulnerable sentenced to a lifetime of rape, abuse and extreme labor.

Those who perpetuate modern slavery count on our silence to drive their profits. They survive on secrecy and stigma. Without the attention of world leaders, they have been able to enslave more people today than at any point in history.

If we take a stand now, we can make ending slavery a global priority, ensuring those trapped in the silent web of slavery are not ignored.



Just a little helpful reminder that could save your Pet's life.


A Very Perfect Instrument

By Andrew Cockburn

Source: Harpers.org

Friday, September 13, 2013


Not until five months after the armistice that ended WWI did the Allies allow Germany to import food — not out of concern for the ongoing death and suffering, but out of fear that desperate Germans would follow the Russians into Bolshevism. By the time it was lifted, the peacetime blockade had killed about a quarter of a million people, including many children who either starved or died from diseases associated with malnutrition. A survey of 600 young Nazis on their motivations for supporting Hitler suggested that a major influence was their vivid memories of childhood hunger and privation.

Reality gives the lie to these assertions. Simply put, licenses and waivers are irrelevant, because the excision of Iranian banks from the global financial system makes it practically impossible for anyone exporting medical supplies to Iran to get paid. The U.S. campaign to scare banks out of dealing with Iran under any circumstances has seen to that. And while Levey, like Cohen, insists that “U.S. sanctions carve out transactions for medicine and agricultural products,” Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based researcher who has made the deepest study of this issue, argues otherwise. He quotes a senior Iranian pharmaceutical executive who flew to Paris to present a French bank with documents showing a trade was fully legal, only to be told: “Even if you bring a letter from the French president himself saying it is okay to do so, we will not risk this.”

So, years pass. We “squeeze, and then squeeze some more” with no end in sight. I am told that there were high-level intelligence briefings in Washington late last year predicting popular unrest in Iran due to hardships inflicted by the sanctions. I myself saw evidence of this misapprehension in a chance dinner conversation with a very senior State Department official and a wealthy Iranian-American businessman.

“The Iranians will respond to pressure,” said the official confidently.

I repeated this remark to the Iranian sitting beside him, whose eyes promptly widened in astonishment. “Oh no, not at all,” he replied. “You should meet my aunts in Tehran. They are from the old regime, nothing to do with the government, and yet they are so angry about the sanctions, they demonstrate for a nuclear Iran.”

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/a-very-perfect-instrument-by-andrew-cockburn.html
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