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Contextualizing Obama’s Visit to Africa

By Horace Campbell

Source: Pambazuka

Monday, July 01, 2013

The nervousness and anxiety of the West over the future of the U.S. financial dominance was quite clear from the communique issued after the recent 2013 G8 meeting in Ireland. Most of the points in the communique issued by the White House (the Lough Erne Declaration) dealt with the challenges coming out of Africa and the role of transnational corporations plundering African resources without paying taxes.[8] Prior to the G8 meeting, the 2013 Report of the Africa Progress Panel headed by former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, called on the same G8 leaders to police their corporations. The Panel had called for inter alia:

• The G8 and the G20 to establish common rules requiring full public disclosure of the beneficial ownership of companies, with no exceptions.
• Companies bidding for natural resource concessions to disclose the names of the people who own and control them.[9]

The destructive extraction of resources from Africa is old and has taken new forms, as Patrick Bond reminds us in Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation.[10] For the past six decades the World Bank domination of economic arrangements in Africa has seen the period of dramatic capital flight from Africa.[11] The multi-billion dollar enterprise of looting Africa was at the foundation of an international system that increasingly worked on the basis of speculative capital. The World Bank and the IMF understood that the real foundations of actual resources were to be found in Africa. To conceal the looting and plunder, the West disguised the reality that Africa is a net creditor to the advanced capitalist countries (termed “donors” in neo-liberal parlance). For this reason (and to perpetuate the myths of “spurring economic growth and investment”), the United States government has been caught in a losing battle where new rising forces such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey, South Korea and other states offer alternatives to the structural adjustment and austerity packages. Barack Obama is going to Africa to boost the armaments culture of the United States at a moment when details of the massive corporate-government spy operations has exposed the surveillance of citizens in all parts of the world in the name of fighting extremism. Citizens are finding out that the gathering of intelligence ultimately serves the interests of capital equity groups such as the Carlyle group that is involved in armaments, intelligence and the stock market.[12]

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/contextualizing-obama-s-visit-to-africa-by-horace-campbell

Originally posted in this thread:


Aaaand .... a little more on the mad rush to carve up Africa:


Monbiot: Corporate Carve-Up

June 10, 2013

Under the pretext of preventing hunger, the rich nations are engineering a new scramble for Africa.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th June 2013

That African farming needs investment and support is indisputable. But does it need land grabbing? Yes, according to the deals these countries have signed. Mozambique, where local farmers have already been evicted from large tracts of land, is now obliged to write new laws promoting what its agreement calls “partnerships” of this kind(6). Cote d’Ivoire must “facilitate access to land for smallholder farmers and
private enterprises”(7). Which, in practice, means evicting smallholder farmers for the benefit of private enterprises. Already French, Algerian, Swiss and Singaporean companies have lined up deals across 600,000 hectares or more of this country’s prime arable land. These deals, according to the development group GRAIN, “will displace tens of thousands of peasant rice farmers and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of small traders.”(8) Ethiopia, where land grabbing has been accompanied by appalling human rights abuses, must assist “agriculture investors (domestic and foreign; small, medium and larger enterprises) to … secure access to land”(9).

And how about seed grabbing? Yes, that too is essential to the well-being of Africa’s people. Mozambique is now obliged to “systematically cease distribution of free and unimproved seeds”, while drawing up new laws granting intellectual property rights in seeds which will “promote private sector investment”(10). Similar regulations must also be approved in Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire.

Strangely missing from the New Alliance agreements is any commitment on the part of the G8 nations to change their own domestic policies. These could have included farm subsidies in Europe and the US, which undermine the markets for African produce, or biofuel quotas, which promote world hunger by turning food into fuel. Any constraints on the behaviour of corporate investors in Africa (such as the Committee on World Food Security’s guidelines on land tenure(12)) remain voluntary, while the constraints on their host nations become compulsory. As in 1884, the powerful nations make the rules and the weak ones abide by them. For their own good, of course.

The West, as usual, is able to find leaders in Africa who have more in common with the global elite than they do with their own people. In some of the countries which have joined the New Alliance, there were wide-ranging consultations on land and farming, whose results have been now ignored in the agreements with the G8. The deals between African governments and private companies were facilitated by the World Economic Forum, and took place behind closed doors(13).

Full Article: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/06/10/corporate-carve-up/

Are African Land Grabs Really Water Grabs?

By Jennifer C Franco and Lyla Mehta and Gert Jan Veldwisch

Source: CNN Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(CNN) -- Millions of hectares of land have been acquired in the past few years across Africa by investors who are moving into large-scale agriculture to take advantage of potential windfall gains. Popularly these deals have become known as "land grabbing," but they could just as well have been framed as "water grabs."

All around the world powerful actors (transnational as well as national) are pointing out that the lands in which they invest are "marginal" and "unproductive" lands. This has been shown to be untrue for many cases; either the land is already used by small-scale food producers, or is of prime quality and associated with good (potential) access to water.

Full Article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/are-african-land-grabs-really-water-grabs-by-jennifer-c-franco/



Global Land And Water Grabbing



In 2010, a former Wall Street trader flew into war-torn Sudan to negotiate a deal with a thuggish general. He had his eye on a 1 million acre tract of fertile land fed by a tributary of the Nile in the southern section of the country, a region that later claimed its independence as South Sudan. The investor, who planned to profit by developing and exporting agricultural commodities, boasted about how the region's instability was a principal variable in his financial model: "This is Africa," he told reporter McKenzie Funk, who shadowed him for a riveting piece in Rolling Stone (PDF). "The whole place is like one big mafia. I'm like a mafia head."

Over the last decade (and especially during the last four years) wealthy nations have increasingly brokered deals for huge swathes of agricultural land at bargain prices in developing countries, installed industrial-scale farms, and exported the resulting bounty for profit. According to the anti-hunger group Oxfam International, more than 60 percent of these "land grabs" occur in regions with serious hunger problems. Two-thirds of the investors plan to ship all the commodities they produce out of the country to the global market. And droughts, spikes in food and oil prices, and a growing global population have only made the quest for arable land more urgent, and the investments that much more alluring.


Data within the PNAS report also indicate that the "mafia head" approach of targeting vulnerable countries for investments is not just the strategy of a lone land-grabbing cowboy, but standard practice. It's easier to wrest land and displace small-scale farmers in countries with a weak rule of law, according to Oxfam. In many cases, the land is developed to export crops or commodities for biofuels, and in other cases, left to sit idle so it can increase in value before it's sold.

Of the countries that lost the highest percentages of their cultivated land, nine out of 10 have malnourishment rates of 5 percent or more (see chart below). And according to Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace's Failed States Index, all the states in the graph below, with the exception of Uruguay, are categorized as unstable.

The Real Invasion Of Africa Is Not News, And A Licence To Lie Is Hollywood’s Gift
By John Pilger

Source: johnpilger.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Thanks for this xchrom. nt.

William Blum: Eavesdropping on the Planet

By William Blum

Source: The Anti-Empire Report Saturday, June 29, 2013

The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee

Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.

Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.

Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.

Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/eavesdropping-on-the-planet-by-william-blum

No big deal, right? "Everybody spies on each other". Europe has fought so hard to avoid GMO's force-feeding of freak seeds and pesticides ..... how much of the data gotten against them is now in the hands of corporations like Monsanto? If anyone thinks this data collection and spying on supposed 'allies' is harmless, I have a bridge for them.

From Tahrir to Taksim: West Reserves Right to Interfere

Saturday, June 29, 2013

By Ramzy Baroud

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Intellectual opportunism however is not a distinct phenomenon, but a reflection of a wider western conception of political opportunism. Once the ‘Arab Spring’ was recognized as an opportunity of sorts, the US, Britain and France were quick to capitalize on it, either to politically reshape the Middle East region or to ensure that the outcome of the revolutionary fervor was to their liking.

While Arab dictators brutalized mostly peaceful protesters, wars, in the full sense of the word, didn’t actualize until the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries began meddling. In Libya, they guided an uprising with a limited armed component to a full-fledged war that resulted in the death, wounding and disappearance of thousands. The war in Libya had changed the very demographic landscape of parts of the country. Entire communities have been ethnically cleansed. Benghazi, whose fate British Prime Minister David Cameron seemed particularly worried about, is now savaged by numerous militias vying for influence. Following recent clashes in the city, the interim head of the Libyan army, Salem Konidi, warned on state Television on June 15, of a ‘bloodbath’. But this time, such a warning barely registered on NATO’s radar.

While selective ‘humanitarian interventions’ is a well-known western political style, the recent protests in Turkey demonstrate that western countries’ appetite to exploit any country’s misfortunes to its advantage is insatiable. The Turkish government however has itself to blame for providing such an opportunity in the first place.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/from-tahrir-to-taksim-west-reserves-right-to-interfere-by-ramzy-baroud

Frances Moore Lappe, Vandana Shiva Blast Award for GMO Scientists

By Andrea Germanos

Source: Common Dreams

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"In fact, to take advantage of these seeds, small farmers who are among the hungriest people in the world, have to take out loans to buy the costly products that are required—the seeds, the fertilizers... and the pesticides that are required" for the GMO seeds.

"So in fact the honorees ... are actually contributing the problems that keep us locked... in hundreds of millions of people in a world where there is plenty of food," concluded Lappe.

The World Food Prize explained that the GMO work by the new winners has "contributed significantly to increasing the quantity and availability of food."

Not so, says Shiva.

"The evidence is so clear," she says, that "GMOs have not increased production, there's a failure to yield." In addition, "they have not reduced use of chemicals. Worse, they have increased the use of chemicals because they have created superpests and superweeds."

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/frances-moore-lappe-vandana-shiva-blast-award-for-gmo-scientists-by-andrea-germanos

All Talk In The Middle East

By Jamie Stern-Weiner

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

Thursday, June 27, 2013

For Israel and the US, negotiations with the Palestinians have never been about achieving a resolution of the conflict, which can only happen on terms all Israeli governments have rejected. Rather, their primary function has been to reduce international pressure on Israel without it having to make political concessions.

Israeli governments have consistently embraced negotiations as a relief valve for international pressure to end the occupation, provided that they are not based on international law, reach no decisive conclusion and can be extended unto eternity. This understanding of the peace process is the only way to make sense of the current situation, in which an Israeli government that explicitly rejects a two-state settlement is pushing for negotiations, against the resistance of a Palestinian leadership that officially accepts it.

Negotiations began in the early 1990s as a response to the first Palestinian intifada, which dramatically increased the costs of occupation for Israel. The 1993 Oslo Accord, which launched the peace process, was the product of secret discussions that subverted the official negotiations being conducted at the time. Whereas official Palestinian representatives, riding the wave of the intifada, demanded the fulfilment of Palestinian rights under international law, the Oslo Accord and the peace process it initiated neglected even to demand the dismantling of Israeli settlements. The result was predictable: over the next decade, as Israeli and Palestinian diplomats talked, Israeli settlers built - nearly doubling in number. "By creating a calm environment", they "were able to complete" their work.

In the wake of Rouhani’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been particularly forceful in urging the international community to maintain pressure on Iran and avoid "drawn out" negotiations that simply allow Iran to "gain time". For its part the US has been clear that, as a National Security Council spokesperson put it this week, "the window for diplomacy is not open indefinitely". "We are open to negotiation", Secretary of State John Kerry has explained, but "not an open-ended, endless negotiation". Both the US and Israel are well aware of the risk of dialogue being used as a fig-leaf to enable destructive behaviour. They should know.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/all-talk-in-the-middle-east-by-jamie-stern-weiner

Mother Jones - El Salvador's Children of War

Photographer Donna De Cesare spent decades amid brutal conflict, refugees, and violent gangs. —Photographs by Donna De Cesare. Text by Jeremy Lybarger

From 1979 until 1992, El Salvador was mired in a civil war that left 75,000 people dead and untold numbers displaced or unaccounted for. It was a conflict marked by extravagant violence: On December 11, 1981, in the mountain village of El Mozote, the Salvadoran army raped, tortured, and massacred nearly 1,000 civilians, including many children. News of the killings didn't reach the United States until January 27, 1982, the same day the Reagan administration announced El Salvador was making a "significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights." Washington continued to pump aid into the regime—$4 billion over 12 years.

Part of what made the war so complicated, at least for US interests, was the ultimatum it seemed to present: Defeat the guerillas at any cost or lose the country to communism. In the twilight of the Cold War, any threat of a domino effect in the region—Nicaragua had already fallen to the Sandinistas—was too ominous for Washington to bear. By backing El Salvador's right-wing junta and, by extension, its paramilitary death squads, the United States created a conundrum for journalists: how to document a war whose maneuvers and motivations were kept deliberately murky?

Photographer Donna De Cesare traveled to El Salvador in 1987 to "witness and report on war, with all the earnest idealism and naïvete of youth," as she puts it in her new photo book Unsettled/Desasosiego. What she couldn't have known at the time was how the experience would shape the next 20 years of her life. She visited refugee camps in Honduras, Jesuit killings on the campus of Central American University, a morgue in Guatemala City. Her work—like that of Larry Towell and Susan Meiselas—is essential to understanding a chapter in Central America's history that is too often whitewashed or denied.

De Cesare's work is essential to understanding a chapter in Central America's history that is too often whitewashed or denied.

Full photo essay: http://www.motherjones.com/photoessays/2013/04/donna-decesare-el-salvador/death-squads

Trans-Pacific Partnership and Monsanto

By Barbara Chicherio

Source: Nation of Change

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed. Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food. Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs. This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia. In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs. Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.

In April 2013, Peru placed a 10-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants. This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru's agricultural diversity. The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn. What will become of Peru's moratorium if the TPP is passed?

There is a growing resistance to Monsanto's agricultural plans in Vietnam. Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam. Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto's product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.

Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/trans-pacific-partnership-and-monsanto-by-barbara-chicherio

“As usual, in every scheme that worsens the position of the poor, it is the poor who are invoked as beneficiaries.”
― Vandana Shiva

Syria and the Monarchs: A Perfect Storm

By Conn Hallinan

Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As Ramzy Mardini, a former U.S. State Department official for Near Eastern affairs, recently wrote in the New York Times, “What’s the point of negotiating a political settlement if the outcome is already predetermined?”

While the Syrian civil war started over the Assad regime’s brutal response to demonstrators, it has morphed into a proxy war between Syria, Iran, Russia, and

Iraq on one side, and the United States, France, Britain, Israel, Turkey, and the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the other. The Council includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and new members Morocco and Jordan.

The GCC is playing banker and arms supplier to the insurgency, much the same role it played in Libya’s civil war. Qatar has poured more than $3 billion into the effort to upend Assad, and, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, helped shift Egypt from its initial support for a diplomatic solution to backing a military overthrow of the Damascus regime.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/syria-and-the-monarchs-a-perfect-storm-by-conn-hallinan

How many of these players care one bit about the actual people of Syria and true peace.
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