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Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 20,582

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Online Media and Technology to the Service of Refugees

Refugees: Online Media and Technology to the Service of Refugees
Posted 29 April 2012 5:29 GMT


Two different organizations are focusing on the benefits and advantages of online media and technology to aid refugees and improve their lives. The first, Refugees United, uses online databases that can be accessed through mobile platforms to reunite refugees who have lost track of family members and the next, HKRefugeeInfoChannel provides legal and welfare information to refugees in Hong Kong through YouTube videos.

Refugees United started off as a pilot in Northern Uganda that is now spreading to other African countries and other areas of the world where natural disasters, political unrest and violence have caused massed evacuations and people to get separated from their kin and loved ones. Through an anonymous database, refugees can create a profile where they can share details about their lives that will be recognizable by kin who go online through a computer or using cellphones.

In Lost and Found, four refugees tell their stories of escape and loss, and what it is like for them to go on with their lives not knowing about their loved ones, not even if they are alive or dead. Although different NGOs have done efforts in the past to reunite refugee families, handwritten papers and photographs aren't easily shared by multiple organizations and across international borders. With the ability to have an online repository that different organizations and individuals can join and search through, the possibility to unite families is increased.

Alone: India's Farmer Widows

Alone: India's Farmer Widows
India's ongoing water crisis has driven 200,000 farmers to suicide. As water dwindles, that number grows, and farmer widows are left to pick up the pieces. —Photos by Michael Francis McElroy/Text by Noella May Hebert


Over the past decade, India has been gripped by a devastating water crisis. Farmers make up an estimated 70 percent of the country's population, and for them the consequences of the drought have been dire: Overwhelmed by chronic lack of water, failed crops, and growing debts, more than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997.

Their families often find them either hung or poisoned by pesticides they've chosen to ingest. The widows left behind struggle to support their children, working as landless laborers for as low as 100 rupees ($2) a day and battling creditors that come to collect money they claim to have lent their husbands. This slideshow features portraits of widows from Maharashtra, one of the three most suicide-ridden states in the nation. They represent only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands left behind.

Why Drones Have Become The Weapon Of Choice

Why Drones Have Become The Weapon Of Choice
By Danny Schechter

Source: Paltalk.comSaturday, April 28, 2012


It’s easy to understand why presidents, politicians and the military love robots. They don’t talk back. They follow orders. You press a button and they kill, kill, kill. They are considered so efficient, so surgical and so deadly.

It's all science fiction turned science ‘faction.'

Robots and drones don’t burn Korans or pose with the heads of their captives. There’s no drama, only total destruction.

And that’s why drone warfare has become such a weapon of choice. You have video game jockeys sitting on their asses in front of consoles of digital displays at an Air Force base outside Las Vegas, targeting houses in Afghanistan. After a couple of quick kills, they take the rest of the day off
more ...

Self-delete, dupe.

The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives' Favorite -- And Most Dangerous -- Fiction


Armchair Warriors: Why Are Conservatives the Biggest Warmongers?

Oxford University Press / By Corey Robin

Armchair Warriors: Why Are Conservatives the Biggest Warmongers?

Conservatives in government have fetishized violence. Why?

April 23, 2012 |


The following is Part 2 of an excerpt from Corey Robin's book "The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin." You can find Part 1 here. http://coreyrobin.com/2012/04/22/protocols-of-machismo-on-the-fetish-of-national-security-part-i/

This is a long but very interesting article. IMHO.

European, US Austerity Drive is Suicidal: Nobel Economist Stiglitz

Published on Friday, April 27, 2012 by Common Dreams


European, US Austerity Drive is Suicidal: Nobel Economist Stiglitz

'The Occupy movement has been very successful in bringing those ideas to the forefront of political discussion.'
- Common Dreams staff

Europe is headed down the same path that most Republicans -- and many Democrats -- are suggesting for the US: reductions in the public sector, cuts in benefits, slashing investments in infrastructure and education.

Austerity is suicidal public policy warns US economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Nobel Prize-winning U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz speaking in Vienna, Austria Thursday night said that it's a suicidal path for Europe -- and that such a policy has never worked in any large country.

Youth unemployment in Spain has been at 50 percent since the crisis in 2008 with “no hope of things getting better anytime soon,” said Stiglitz, who is a professor for economics at Columbia University. “What you are doing is destroying the human capital, you are creating alienated young people.”

Published on Friday, April 27, 2012 by The Progressive

Austerity is Killing Europe

by Amitabh Pal


The austerity fetish of those making economic decisions is killing Europe’s economy.

The last few days have provided further proof.

“Spain officially slipped back into recession for the second time in three years Monday, after following the German remedy of deep retrenchment in public outlays, joining Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic,” the New York Times reported this week.

And more bad news has followed.

“Britain slid back into recession in the first quarter of the year, according to official figures released Wednesday, undercutting the government's argument that its austerity program was working,” says today’s Times.

But those in charge seem to be eternally clueless.

Democracy Now! airs an exclusive excerpt of "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre,"


Democracy Now! airs an exclusive excerpt of "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre," featuring interviews with U.S. soldiers, Iraqi doctors and international journalists on the U.S. attack on Fallujah. Produced by Italian state broadcaster RAI TV, the documentary charges U.S. warplanes illegally dropped white phosphorus incendiary bombs on civilian populations, burning the skin off Iraqi victims. One U.S. soldier charges this amounts to the U.S. using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people. [includes rush transcript]

JEFF ENGLEHART: The gases from the warhead of the white phosphorus will disperse in a cloud. And when it makes contact with skin, then it’s absolutely irreversible damage, burning of flesh to the bone. It doesn’t necessarily burn clothes, but it will burn the skin underneath clothes. And this is why protective masks do not help, because it will burn right through the mask, the rubber of the mask. It will manage to get inside your face. If you breathe it, it will blister your throat and your lungs until you suffocate, and then it will burn you from the inside. It basically reacts to skin, oxygen and water. The only way to stop the burning is with wet mud. But at that point, it’s just impossible to stop.

REPORTER: Have you seen the effects of these weapons?

JEFF ENGLEHART: Yes. Burned. Burned bodies. I mean, it burned children, and it burned women. White phosphorus kills indiscriminately. It’s a cloud that will within, in most cases, 150 meters of impact will disperse, and it will burn every human being or animal.
more ....

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre


Military and War75 Comments

This war can not have witnesses. It can not have witnesses because it is based on lies. The Americans have permitted only embedded journalists to go to Fallujah. Despite that, for example the image of the marine that shoots the wounded and unarmed warrior inside the Fallujah Mosque has gone out. And exactly because this image has gone out, we do not know how, and because it has circulated all over the world, the NBC journalist that has recorded it has been immediately expelled from the embedded body. Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre is a documentary film by Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta which first aired on Italy’s RAI state television network on November 8, 2005.

The film documents the use of weapons that the documentary asserts are chemical weapons, particularly the use of incendiary bombs, and alleges indiscriminate use of violence against civilians and children by military forces of the United States of America in the city of Fallujah in Iraq during the Fallujah Offensive of November 2004.

Watch the full documentary now

Robert Fisk: The Children of Fallujah - families fight back
Special Report day three: Abandoned and afraid, the parents of Iraq's suffering children wait in vain for help


Back story: The evidence was clear, but no one cared – except you

It's the same old story. Know nothing. See nothing. Say nothing. When children died in a plague of cancers in southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, the Americans and the Brits didn't want to know about it. Nor, of course, did Saddam Hussein. If children had been poisoned by our depleted uranium munitions, then Saddam would lose face, wouldn't he? Independent readers contributed $250,000 for medicines for the children we met in Iraq who were suffering from cancers and leukaemia after that war.

Margaret Hassan of Care – later murdered by unknown killers months after her kidnapping, following the "liberation" of Iraq – helped us distribute the medicines from our readers across the country. No thanks from Saddam, of course. And all the children died. And not a word from our masters, armaments manufacturers and jolly generals.

It's the same again in Fallujah today. The doctors talk of a massive increase in child birth deformities. The Americans used phosphorous munitions – possibly also depleted uranium (DU) – in the 2004 battles of Fallujah. Everyone in Fallujah knows about these deformities. Reporters have seen these children and reported on them. But it's know nothing, see nothing, say nothing. Neither the Iraqi government nor the US government nor the British will utter a squeak about Fallujah. Even when I found in the Balkans a 12-year-old Serb girl with internal bleeding, constant vomiting and nails that repeatedly fell out of her hands and feet – she had handled the shrapnel of depleted uranium munitions after a Nato air strike near Sarajevo in 1995 – Nato refused to respond to my offer to take a military doctor to see her.

Already, I had discovered that up to 300 Serb men, women and children who had lived close to the Nato target in the Sarajevo suburb of Hadjici, had died of cancers and leukaemias over the five years that followed the bombing. As for southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, the less said, the better.

Measuring Wars by a Loss of Principles

Article by WN.com Correspondent Dallas Darling


Literally over night in May of 1970, President Richard M. Nixon's ill-planned and ill-fated invasion of Cambodia revived the dwindling antiwar movement to vigorous life. Whether it was his verbal barrages of "Peace with Honor" or his "Vietnamization" euphemism that lulled pro-life protesters to sleep, when President Nixon announced he was ordering a military "incursion" into Cambodia to "clean out" bases the enemy had been using for "its increased military aggression," a crescendo of anti-war demonstrations across America occurred. Anger at the draft, false optimism about the endless military occupation in Vietnam, and combat footage of atrocities in the nightly news all had an impact on antiwar protesters. But nothing infuriated them more than escalating the war with Cambodia.

Hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters marched on, and then occupied, Washington DC. Millions participated in small rallies and pro-life marches on college campuses nationwide. Military rage and insanity was being met by a more peaceful and more sane and principled movement. Some protesters were willing to even sacrifice their own lives to assure the U.S.-Vietnam/Cambodia War was brought to an end and that senseless killings, killings that had cost the lives of four million Vietnamese and fifty-thousand U.S. troops, would not happen in Cambodia. On May 4, the National Guard opened fire on antiwar protesters at Kent State killing four students. Ten days later at Jackson State, police fired into a women's dormitory with automatic weapons killing two black students.

But since the U.S.-Vietnam War, most military engagements and occupations have been measured only by the loss of American soldiers. Principles, like increasing technological savagery, psychological distress and political repression, or the disregard for murdering thousands of non-Americans, or even one, has been ignored. The preemptive wars against Iraq and Afghanistan killed hundreds of thousands of people. Millions have become refugees. Prior to these military interventions and even though very few American troops died, sanctions against Iraq killed over 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children and the elderly. Past incursions into Central America, the Caribbean and Africa have also created mass carnage, maiming and killing thousands of people while causing hardship for millions.

Instead of measuring America's wars by how many U.S. soldiers have been killed, why not base them on universal principles that have somehow been lost. If a principle is an important rule, law and guideline which other rules or judgments are derived, why not measure wars on how many non-Americans are killed or the utter disregard for national sovereignty? Since principles denote moral decisions that are required for civilizations to thrive, even survive, should not individuals-especially in wartime-guard against the loss of democratic rights and life? And if the character of a nation is founded on principles and moral beliefs too, instead of self-interest or the tyranny of the market why not: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "Do no harm" values?(1)

Fisk: The Children of Fallujah - The Hospital Of Horrors

By Robert Fisk

Source: The IndependentFriday, April 27, 2012


The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi's administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.

"We see this all the time now," Al-Hadidi says, and a female doctor walks into the room and glances at the screen. She has delivered some of these still-born children. "I've never seen anything as bad as this in all my service," she says quietly. Al-Hadidi takes phone calls, greets visitors to his office, offers tea and biscuits to us while this ghastly picture show unfolds on the screen. I asked to see these photographs, to ensure that the stillborn children, the deformities, were real. There's always a reader or a viewer who will mutter the word "propaganda" under their breath.

But the photographs are a damning, ghastly reward for such doubts. January 7, 2010: a baby with faded, yellow skin and misshapen arms. April 26, 2010: a grey mass on the side of the baby's head. A doctor beside me speaks of "Tetralogy of Fallot", a transposition of the great blood vessels. May 3, 2010: a frog-like creature in which – the Fallujah doctor who came into the room says this – "all the abdominal organs are trying to get outside the body."

This is too much. These photographs are too awful, the pain and emotion of them – for the poor parents, at least – impossible to contemplate. They simply cannot be published.
more ....

ETA: No pictures at link.

Afghan Screams Aren’t Heard

Afghan Screams Aren’t Heard

By Kathy Kelly and Hakim

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Last weekend, in Kabul, Afghan Peace Volunteer friends huddled in the back room of their simple home. With a digital camera, glimpses and sounds of their experiences were captured, as warfare erupted three blocks away.

The fighting has subdued, but the video gives us a glimpse into chronic anxieties among civilians throughout Afghanistan. Later, we learned more: Ghulam awakens suddenly, well after midnight, and begins to pace through a room of sleeping people, screaming. Ali suddenly tears up, after an evening meal, and leaves the room to sit outside. Staring at the sky and the moon, he finds solace. Yet another puzzles over what brings people to the point of loaning themselves to possibly kill or be killed, over issues so easily manipulated by politicians.

I asked our friend, Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, if ordinary Afghans are aware that the U.S. has an estimated 400 or more Forward Operating Bases across Afghanistan and that it is planning to construct what will become the world’s largest U.S. Embassy, in Kabul. Hakim thinks young people across Kabul are well aware of this. “Do they know,” I asked, “that the U.S. Air Force has hired 60,000 – 70,000 analysts to study information collected through drone surveillance? The film footage amounts to the equivalent of 58,000 full length feature films. The Rand Corporation says that 100,000 analysts are needed to understand ‘patterns of life’ in Afghanistan.”

Hakim’s response was quick and cutting: “Ghulam would ask the analysts a question they can’t answer with their drone surveillance, a question that has much to do with their business, ‘terror’: “You mean, you don’t understand why I screamed?” .....
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