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Journal Archives

'The Afghan People Are Fed Up': An Interview with Malalai Joya

By Malalai Joya and Elsa Rassbach

Saturday, March 02, 2013

In 2007 she again spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament and was thereupon suspended from the parliament. Since then she has survived many assassination attempts. She travels in Afghanistan with armed guards and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women and to end the occupation of her country.

There are many reports that the U.S. and NATO want to keep a significant "troop presence" in Afghanistan well after 2014. But if all the foreign troops were to leave, would there be civil war in Afghanistan?

There is already a civil war, a dangerous civil war. Whether the foreign troops stay or leave, war is going on. The presence of foreign troops only makes our struggle for justice harder, because the occupiers empower reactionary warlords -- and now also empower Taliban, along with killers from the past Russian puppet regime. At least if the foreign troops leave, one of the biggest evils will be gone. Then we will face internal enemies. If the occupation leaves, at least the Taliban will not get more powerful. If the troops honestly leave, the backbone of these terrorists will break. They will become like orphans, because their godfather is the U.S., which was also the godfather of Al Qaida.

So the first request of the people is: Leave Afghanistan and stop supporting our enemies.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-afghan-people-are-fed-up-an-interview-with-malalai-joya-by-malalai-joya

Photo Essay: When a Kid's Bedroom Isn't a Room

By James Mollison | Fri Nov. 23, 2012 3:08 AM PST

A few years ago, James Mollison began taking photos of children around the world and their rooms. "I soon realized that my own experience of having a 'bedroom' simply doesn't apply to so many kids," he recalls in his book Where Children Sleep, which collects his images from 18 countries. Striking and unsentimental, Mollison's work shows that wherever a child lies down at night is not so much a retreat from as a reflection of the world outside.


TIMELINE: Shell's Year of Arctic Screwups

—By Tim McDonnell| Fri Mar. 1, 2013 3:06 AM PST

Last August, Shell got a long-awaited go-ahead from US regulators to begin exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic. It's a potential gold mine for the company—up to a fifth of the world's untapped oil resources are in the Arctic. But instead of rolling in cash, Shell ended up getting rolled by one disaster after another, culminating in the crash in January of drilling rig and a subsequent investigation by the feds. And that was only the next act in a comedy of errors that's been unfolding for over a year, and that finally ended—for now, anyway—this week, when the company announced it would "pause" its Arctic operations. Here's a look back at Shell's tumultuous run in the Arctic, featuring coverage by our Climate Desk partners:

Timeline & Photos: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/shell-arctic-drilling-timeline

Venezuela’s Social Missions Progressing

By Tamara Pearson

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Despite some private international media reporting “economic chaos” and that social missions have ground to a halt with President Hugo Chavez still recovering from cancer surgery, the missions continue working.

Recently there have been advances in freely available high cost medicine and the development of the social welfare programs for children and the elderly, with all education and health facilities continuing to function normally.

Attention to children and the elderly

The two social missions for older people and for children living in poverty will begin their fourth stage since their launch in 2011, which involves training some 2,000 volunteers and 3,000 professionals.

Yadira Cordova, vice-president for the social work area for the Venezuelan national executive announced yesterday that the training in community work and pedagogy will be done through a special masters degree specifically designed for these missions.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/venezuela-s-social-missions-progressing-by-tamara-pearson

This is the Way of the Ancestors: Idle No More and Indigenous Resistance

By Eric Ritskes

Source: New Left Project

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It’s important because it is settler colonialism that is at the heart of the problems that Idle No More has risen to address. Settler colonialism relies on occupation and home-making of settlers on Indigenous land and a perceived legitimacy of the settler to the land that is settled. For settler colonialism to legitimate itself, Indigenous peoples must be removed. This removal can be ideological, as seen in how colonial doctrine emptied the ‘New World’, deeming Indigenous peoples as sub-human and Indigenous land, subsequently, virgin, uninhabited, and available for the taking. The removal can be physically; estimates of Indigenous populations on Turtle Island (America) range as high as fifty million people which, in short time, was reduced to the hundreds of thousands. This removal can also be cultural; residential schooling in Canada and the United States was based on an ideology of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” an ideology that sought to decimate Indigenous cultures, languages, and ways of life, which were deemed barbaric and savage.

Settler colonialism demands Indigenous erasure for the purpose of claiming Indigenous land, it is the symbolic and real replacement of Indigenous peoples with settlers who attempt to claim belonging. Indigeneity cannot simply be about ‘who was here first’ - as if we are all Indigenous to some place – or about merely long-term occupancy. Indigeneity stands in marked opposition to the imperial agenda. Indigeneity is contentious, disruptive and insurgent. But it is also healing and loving, working to restore and resurge right relationships within communities, between communities, with the land, and with the self. This is the way of the ancestors.

What is Idle No More about?

As Idle No More erupted across Canada and North America, beginning in December, many in the media were quick to point out similarities to the recent Occupy movement, particularly similarities in how media and mainstream pundits were unclear about the ‘demands’ of the movement and what it is they hoped to accomplish. What is Idle No More about? While the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ was the Canadian government’s strong arm tactics in pushing through Bill C-45, an omnibus bill that threatened to decimate protection of both land and waterways that Indigenous communities depend on, as well as decimate some of the last collective rights Indigenous communities had enshrined in Canadian law, there are much more complex and inherent problems that undergird the Idle No More movement.

I can’t speak to all of diverse demands within Idle No More; I’m not sure any one person can. It’s about protesting the ongoing ecological destruction of land and waterways, particularly through the Canadian government’s ongoing insistence on building oil pipelines to transport oil from Alberta’s tar sands, deemed some of the world’s ‘dirtiest oil’. It’s about the failure of Canadians to honor and uphold the original treaties that were signed with the sovereign Indigenous nations within what are now their borders. It’s about the ongoing violence and destruction of Indigenous peoples, livelihoods, nations, languages and cultures - the violence that allows thousands of Indigenous women to be murdered and missing without so much as a ripple in the peaceful façade of Canadian multiculturalism. It’s about resisting against the ongoing settler colonialism, which seeks to erase Indigenous peoples in any way possible. It’s about a long history of oppression, a long history of violence, and a long history of marginalizing, making invisible, and physically erasing Indigenous peoples. It’s about all of these things and more.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/this-is-the-way-of-the-ancestors-idle-no-more-and-indigenous-resistance-by-eric-ritskes

With Tasers And Placards, The Women Of Egypt Are Fighting Back Against Sexism

By Laurie Penny

Source: New Statesman

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Egypt has tolerated a culture of misogyny for many generations. In the past year, however, there has been a change in mood. Women from all walks of life are afraid to go out in the street at all, whether they’re marching to bring down the government or popping to the shop for a pint of milk. Even Tahrir Square, the symbolic political heart of the nation, has become all but impassable to any woman without a hefty male escort.

One of the groups fighting back is Op - AntiSH – pronounced “Oppantish” and standing for Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment – a gang of volunteers, some of them men and many of them women who have been raped and assaulted. OpAntiSH physically stops assaults in Tahrir Square and the surrounding areas, using Tasers, spray paint, fists, force, sticks, anything they can put their hands on to protect women from “mob attacks”. They divide into task-teams with specific jobs: some to summon rescuers to the scene of an assault, some to grab the victim and take her to safety, some to distribute the contents of emergency packs containing spare clothes, water and blankets. It’s all down to them, because the police are far more concerned with attacking protesters than protecting women.

Egypt is not the only country where women are bearing the brunt of social frustration and public anger. But the women of Egypt and their allies have understood what the rest of the world has failed so far to grasp – that meaningful social progress cannot exclude women. Western journalists using the sex assault pandemic to imply that Egypt somehow isn’t ready for regime change, to imply that Egyptian men are out of control, have fundamentally misunderstood what this revolution is, and what it can be.

“The question is, whose revolution?” says Amr Gharbeia, one of OpAntiSH’s many young male volunteers. “For conservatives, the revolution has been victorious – it has put them in power. For some people, it stops at just a bit more freedom. But, for some, the revolution has to go further – it has to include freedom for women.”

Full Article:


When I saw all those pictures of the uprising and protests, there were so many brave women standing shoulder to shoulder with the men. I really hoped things would be so much better for them, and that Egypt would be an example of a revolution that included full equal rights. Now, human rights organisations are saying that gender equality has taken a step backwards.

But more worrying, says Kamel, is that the Muslim male-dominated constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution for Egypt is in a position to enshrine discriminatory limitations on women in the national charter. Not only are women almost entirely excluded from the constitution writing process, the assembly is stacked with Islamist figures who activists claim are attempting to impose their conservative religious values on all Egyptian society.

Many of the constituent assembly’s liberal and secular members resigned in objection to what one described as “a set will to produce a constitution that would be the cornerstone of a religious state, which will preserve the principles of the fallen regime and ignore the pillars of the Egyptian uprising of freedom, dignity and social justice.”

One particular point of contention is the wording of Article 68 in the draft constitution, which states that women are equal to men in political, economic, and social life provided that equality does not contradict the provisions of Sharia (Islamic law). Rights groups have opposed the article’s ambiguous religious framing.

Nehad Abu Komsan, director of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights (ECWR), explains that Sharia has in many instances been used to reinforce negative social attitudes towards women and impose restrictions on their freedom. Linking women’s rights to undefined provisions of Islamic law “opens the door to radical interpretations that can be used against women.”


Think There's No Alternative? Latin America Has A Few

By Seumas Milne

Source: The Guardian

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ever since the crash of 2008 exposed the rotten core of a failed economic model, we've been told there are no viable alternatives. As Europe sinks deeper into austerity, governing parties of whatever stripe are routinely rejected by disillusioned voters – only to be replaced by others delivering more welfare cuts, privatisation and inequality.

So what should we make of a part of the world where governments have resolutely turned their back on that model, slashed poverty and inequality, taken back industries and resources from corporate control, massively expanded public services and democratic participation – and keep getting re-elected in fiercely contested elections?

Despite their differences, it's not hard to see why. Latin America was the first to experience the disastrous impact of neoliberal dogma and the first to revolt against it. Correa was originally elected in the wake of an economic collapse so devastating that one in 10 left the country. Since then his "citizen's revolution" has cut poverty by nearly a third and extreme poverty by 45%. Unemployment has been slashed, while social security, free health and education have been rapidly expanded – including free higher education, now a constitutional right – while outsourcing has been outlawed.

And that has been achieved not only by using Ecuador's limited oil wealth to benefit the majority, but by making corporations and the well-off pay their taxes (receipts have almost tripled in six years), raising public investment to 15% of national income, extending public ownership, tough renegotiation of oil contracts and re-regulating the banking system to support development.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/think-theres-no-alternative-latin-america-has-a-few-by-seumas-milne

Mass Demonstrations Against Financial Coup In Spain

By Jérôme E. Roos

Source: roarmag.org

Monday, February 25, 2013

With unemployment hitting a shocking 26 percent, with over 400.000 families evicted from their homes since the start of the crisis (amounting to a mind-numbing 500 families per day), and with another 53,272 families projected to lose their homes this year alone, an acute humanitarian crisis is presenting itself. Meanwhile, with the excuse of “balancing the budget”, salaries are being slashed, employees laid off, hospitals privatized, pensions cut, tuition fees hiked, taxes raised, and social spending decimated.

Last year, a quarter of the government budget went to servicing the public debt, while 100 billion euros were wasted to bail out Bankia, itself a conglomerate of bankrupt savings houses. Despite the lavish provision of public funds and the extravagant bonuses of Bankia’s executives (one of whom was given 6.2 million euros to go into “early retirement”), the bank will next week reveal total losses amounting to more than 19 billion euros, constituting the largest corporate losses in Spanish history.

All the while, the elephant in the room is a sickening corruption scandal that continues to plague Rajoy’s conservative government. Last month, Spain’s biggest newspaper El País published secret documents revealing years of endemic corruption at the highest levels of the governing party. Luis Barcenas, the treasurer of the Partido Popular, kept a double account from which secret contributions by Spanish businessmen were redistributed to leading party members. Among the benefactors of the scandal are former Bankia executive and IMF official Rodrigo Rato, as well as Prime Minister Rajoy, who for 10 years netted over 250.000 euros in illegal side-payments.

To make matters worse, much of this money appears to have originated from the construction sector, which experienced a huge boom during the build-up of the Spanish real estate bubble, suggesting that leading politicians greedily took bribes to allow private investors to bypass construction regulations and build on protected lands. In the process, thousands of building projects scarred the Spanish landscape, leaving behind hundreds of uninhabited ghost towns and destroying much of the country’s once pristine beach lines. When the bubble finally burst, millions of workers in the construction sector lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands lost their homes — while politicians, bankers and businessmen made windfall profits.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/23f-mass-demonstrations-against-financial-coup-in-spain-by-j-r-me-e-roos

The Dismantling of Probation: Who Will Profit?

By Michael Teague

Source: New Left Project

Saturday, February 23, 2013

After 105 years of world-class rehabilitative intervention, the probation service in England and Wales is about to be effectively dismantled. This essential component of our civic society is about to be sacrificed on the altar of shareholder profit.

What is the context of the planned changes? In England and Wales, the risk of becoming a victim of crime is now lower than at any point since the mid-1990s. Probation’s rehabilitative work has played a key role in this reduced risk. The service also provides substantial fiscal value to taxpayers. Out of the whole National Offender Management Service annual budget of £3.7 billion in 2011-12 (which includes the cost of imprisonment), slightly less than one fifth was spent on probation. It cost £37,648 to accommodate a single prisoner in 2011-12,[1] a sum which would fund around nine community orders. In terms of staff numbers, the probation service is relatively small. With just 16,710 employees, it is around one third of the size of the prison service, and a ninth of the size of the police. Its remarkably small workforce notwithstanding, probation was in September 2012 responsible for supervising some 227,339 people, around three times the size of the current prison population of 83,999 inmates in England and Wales, which serves to underline the scale of probation’s accomplishment on relatively limited resources. The agency has not just achieved its targets, it was even awarded the British Quality Foundation’s Gold Medal for Excellence – the first time a public sector organisation has won this prestigious award. In short, probation already provides real value.

Nevertheless, the de facto privatisation of probation has been made a key component of the Coalition government’s ‘rehabilitation revolution’, which the Ministry of Justice defines as the establishment of ‘an offender management system that harnesses the innovation of the private and voluntary sectors, including options for using payment by results, to cut reoffending’.[2] Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, fresh from implementing the Work Programme as employment minister, is making a concerted push for payment by results in probation. Efforts have been made to sugar the privatisation pill by emphasising the potential of charities and voluntary groups to perform rehabilitative work currently undertaken by probation. The Ministry of Justice’s 2013 consultation document, ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’,[3] outlined plans to allow private companies and charities to manage a range of services, including community supervision.

Who will profit?

Probation may have a substantial history of embracing the rehabilitative ideal, but private companies focused on shareholder profit are not oblivious to the fact that, in England and Wales, it represents an industry worth some £820 million a year (the total budget allocated to the existing 35 probation trusts each year). The potentially lucrative contracts for probation work will be worth a substantial proportion of that total. The financial resources required to back successful bids will inevitably bestow a significant advantage on those bigger private companies with the resources and infrastructure to support their bid. This means that that large multinational companies like Serco, Sodexo and G4S – already enriching shareholders via privatised incarceration – will be ideally positioned to take over the bulk of probation’s core public sector work.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-dismantling-of-probation-who-will-profit-by-michael-teague

Oscar Pistorius and the Global System of Deadly Misogyny

By Dave Zirin

Source: The Nation

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A professional athlete; a home with an arsenal of firearms; a dead young woman involved in a long-term relationship with her killer. In November, her name was Kasanda Perkins and the man who shot her was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Now her name is Reeva Steenkamp, killed by Olympic sprinter and double amputee Oscar “the Blade Runner” Pistorius. We don’t know whether Pistorius is guilty of murdering a woman he claims to have deeply loved or is guilty merely of being an unbelievably irresponsible gun owner, firing four bullets into the door of his bathroom in an effort to hit an imagined burglar. We do know that this is either an all-too-familiar story of a man and the woman he dated and then killed, or it’s the story of a man who thought a burglar had penetrated the electrified fence that surrounded his gated community to break into his house and use his toilet.

Just as with Belcher and Perkins, we will learn more than we ever wanted or needed to know in the weeks to come about the nature of Pistorius and Steenkamp’s relationship. We will learn about the “allegations of a domestic nature” that had brought police to his home in the past. We will learn about Pistorius’s previous allegedly violent relationships with women. We will learn about the variety of guns he kept at close hand. We will surely discuss male athletes and violence against women: the sort of all-too-common story that can create commonality between a football player from Long Island and a sprinter from Johannesburg. We might even ponder the way these gated communities, one of which was also the site of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin’s murder a year ago, become throbbing pods of paranoia and parabellums. We will learn about everything except what actually matters: there is a global epidemic of violence against women, and South Africa is at its epicenter.

Two days before Steenkamp’s death, there were protests outside of the South African parliament about the failures of the state to adjudicate the unsolved rapes and murders of women across the country. As the executive director of the Rape Crisis Centre Kathleen Dey said on February 12, “There are no overnight cures to the scourge of rape that is affecting South Africa. We have the highest instance of rape in the world and we cannot continue in this way.” The official statistics are shocking. Every seventeen seconds a woman is raped in South Africa yet just one out of nine women report it and only 14 percent of perpetrators are convicted. The Rape Crisis Centre and other organizations are starved for funds, with the demand for social services, counseling and even HIV tests far outstripping their capacity.

There have also had to be demonstrations against what the Women’s League of the African National Congress has termed “femicide.” In this country of 50 million people, three women a day are killed by their partners. When news of Steenkamp’s death became front-page news across the country, it pushed out ongoing headlines of the February 2 Western Cape gang rape and mutilation of a 17-year-old girl named Anene Booysen. Before her death, Booysen identified one of her perpetrators: it was someone she both trusted and knew.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/oscar-pistorius-and-the-global-system-of-deadly-misogyny-by-dave-zirin
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