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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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Journal Archives

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.

Flames of Resistance and Hope in Turkey

By Tariq Ali and Zeynep Bilgehan

Source: Counterpunch

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Zeynep Bilgehan: You released a solidarity message for the protestors from Ankara. First of all how long have you been in Ankara and what’s the purpose of your visit?

Tariq Ali: I was in Ankara for three days to give a public lecture at the invitation of the Cankaya municipality that had been agreed several months ago. Naturally I observed what was going on in the evenings. Unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators, the constant use of tear gas and water visited the Park and talked to the young people there.

ZB: What do you think about the recent incidents as a whole? From your point of view what happened or is happening in Turkey?

Tariq Ali: The mixture of a sharp intelligence, fearlessness and the rebirth of hope that I witnessed was very inspiring. It reminded me to a certain extent of Europe (Paris and Prague) in 1968, much more than the Arab spring. What is happening in Turkey is very clear. An elected authoritarian government, committed to neo-liberalisam and war, imagined that it could do anything it wanted because of its democratic status. This was a foolish mistake.

When I was in Istanbul a few months ago, it was difficult not to detect a pall of depression that had enveloped activists and oppositionists. The closure of one of the city’s oldest cinema on Istiklal had led to mild protestsd. So mild that the government imagined it could accelerate its select and destroy mission. They miscalculated badly. The Prime Minister, in particular, a veritable Sultan of the building industry refused to retreat and embarked on repression. This was the breaking point. People unconcerned with the proposed destruction of Gezi now came out to protest and in huge numbers. The more the repression, the more the protests grew, spreading to virtually the entire country apart from four Kurdish-dominated towns. A campaign to save a park had become a national uprising against an obstinate and thuggish regime.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/flames-of-resistance-and-hope-in-turkey-by-tariq-ali

Gagged by Big Ag

Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?
—By Ted Genoways | July/August 2013 Issue

SHAWN LYONS WAS DEAD TO RIGHTS—and he knew it. More than a month had passed since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had released a video of savage mistreatment at the MowMar Farms hog confinement facility where he worked as an entry-level herdsman in the breeding room. The three enormous sow barns in rural Greene County, Iowa, were less than five years old and, until recently, had raised few concerns. They seemed well ventilated and well supplied with water from giant holding tanks. Their tightly tacked steel siding always gleamed white in the sun. But the PETA hidden-camera footage shot by two undercover activists over a period of months in the summer of 2008, following up on a tip from a former employee, showed a harsh reality concealed inside.

The recordings caught one senior worker beating a sow repeatedly on the back with a metal gate rod, a supervisor turning an electric prod on a sow too crippled to stand, another worker shoving a herding cane into a sow's vagina. In one close-up, a distressed sow who'd been attacking her piglets was shown with her face royal blue from the Prima Tech marking dye sprayed into her nostrils "to get the animal high." In perhaps the most disturbing sequence, a worker demonstrated the method for eutha­nizing underweight piglets: taking them by the hind legs and smashing their skulls against the concrete floor—a technique known as "thumping." Their bloodied bodies were then tossed into a giant bin, where video showed them twitching and paddling until they died, sometimes long after. Though his actions were not nearly as vicious as those of some coworkers who'd been fired immediately, Lyons knew, as the video quickly became national news, that the consequences for him could be severe.

As we sat recently in the tiny, tumbledown house he grew up in and now shares with his wife and two kids, Lyons acknowledged—as he did to the sheriff's deputy back then—that he had prodded sows with clothespins, hit them with broad, wooden herding boards, and pulled them by their ears, but only in an effort, he said, to get pregnant sows that had spent the last 114 days immobilized in gestation crates up and moving to the farrowing crates where they would give birth. Lyons said he never intended to hurt the hogs, that he was just "scared to death" of the angry sows "who had spent their lives in a little pen"—and this was how he had been trained to deal with them. Lyons had watery blue eyes that seemed always on the verge of tears and spoke in a skittish mutter that would sometimes disappear all the way into silence as he rubbed his thin beard. "You do feel sorry for them, because they don't have much room to move around," he said, but if they get spooked coming out of their crates, "you're in for a fight."

Lyons had been trained in these methods of hog-handling (many of them, including thumping, legal and widely practiced), but a spokeswoman for Hormel—one of the largest food processors in the country and the dominant buyer of MowMar's hogs—had already called the video "appalling" and "completely unacceptable," and MowMar's owners had responded by vowing that any additional workers found guilty of abuse as authorities pored over the tape would be terminated. Still, it came as a surprise when his boss informed him that he had been formally charged and immediately fired. "We don't want to do it," the supervisor told him, "but we got to—because Hor­mel will quit taking the sows." He told Lyons to turn himself in at the courthouse.

Full article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/ag-gag-laws-mowmar-farms

It's Time For A Global Minimum Wage

By Jason Hickel

Source: Aljazeera

Friday, June 14, 2013

The real problem has to do with the way the global labour market works. Because of neoliberal economic policies imposed over the past few decades, companies now have the power to rove the globe in search of what CEOs refer to as the "best investment conditions". Poor countries like Bangladesh have to compete with other poor countries to attract much-needed foreign capital by offering the lowest minimum wages, the flimsiest safety standards, the cheapest taxes, and so on. Most economists justify this destructive "race to the bottom" under the banner of "comparative advantage".

As part of this deal, companies no longer have to bargain with local workers - they can opt out of the social contract whenever it suits them. If workers in Savar, say, got together to demand better wages or safety standards, the companies that use them would just start sourcing from somewhere else, leaving them unemployed. Such a move wouldn't take more than a mouse-click at the headquarters of Gap or Wal-Mart.

To put it bluntly, the global labour market is rigged in the interest of multinational companies; it is designed to allow them to pump value out of human bodies - mostly poor, brown, female bodies - as efficiently as possible. Those bodies generate the enormous wealth that flows into corporate coffers, but only a fraction of it goes back to them in wages - the vast majority gets pocketed as profits and CEO bonuses.

This process of appropriation - or theft, really - helps explain the shocking trends in global inequality that we have seen over the past few decades, to the point where the richest 200 people now have more wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion - more than half of the world's population.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/its-time-for-a-global-minimum-wage-by-jason-hickel
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