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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

The Greek People Have Punctured the Smugness of the “Moneymen”

by Adnan Al-Daini / January 30th, 2015

.........Successive governments in Greece and elsewhere in Europe have abdicated their responsibility to serve the ordinary people. Instead they have faithfully served the moneyed super-rich. Contrast that with the actions of Syriza with barely 48 hours in power. Helena Smith in an article in the Guardian summarizes thus:

First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister, the radical leftwinger Alexis Tsipras, had got his first cabinet meeting under way. After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece.

This is true democracy in action, promises made and delivered in the first two days of being in power. Syriza has been elected and now Europe and particularly Germany have a duty to listen respectfully. Thus far Greece has been treated shabbily with hardly a thought for the extreme hardship and suffering inflicted on its people.

It is instructive to remember that half of Germany’s post WWII debt was written off in the London conference of 1953. This led to a sharp increase in Germany’s economic growth. Why not do the same for Greece, asks Syriza?

The Greek people have seen through the fog generated by the elite and the “moneymen”. They have seen austerity for what it is – a con-trick to transfer more wealth from the 99% to the already bloated 1%.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/01/the-greek-people-have-punctured-the-smugness-of-the-moneymen/

Syriza Victory Reveals Media’s One-Dimensional Backwardness

By Chris Spannos
Source: teleSUR English
January 31, 2015

Syriza’s sensational triumph in the recent Greek elections sent shock waves around the world and has whipped some international media into a frenzy.

Hours after being sworn in, the new Syriza government froze privatizations, re-instituted a monthly 751 euro minimum wage, promised immigrant children citizenship, canceled public sector layoffs, and more.

The New York Times questioned the ability of the Syriza government to succeed. The Independent asserted that Greece is doomed to failure. And the BBC and Reuters worried about market rumblings.

To these powerful media outlets Syriza’s actions — aimed at ensuring basic human well-being so that people have a decent income to guarantee access to shelter and food, for example — are backward. For them, the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank imposed economic austerity — which has caused 3 million Greeks to go without health insurance, soaring infant mortality, and an increase in suicides — is necessary to make the country competitive in the global market.

It is difficult to see how this view could be more irrational.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/syriza-victory-reveals-medias-one-dimensional-backwardness/

Henry Kissinger or CODEPINK: Who’s the "Low Life Scum"?

Published on
Friday, January 30, 2015
by Common Dreams

byMedea Benjamin

Alli McCracken, a peace activist with CODEPINK, shows former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a pair of handcuffs during a protest at a Senate hearing on Thursday. If there was justice in this world, argue human rights activist, Kissinger would be in prison for his role in perpetrating war crimes as opposed to sitting before the Senate Armed Services Committee to offer his assessment of world affairs. (Photo: Courtesy of CODEPINK)

A very angry Senator John McCain denounced CODEPINK activists as “low-life scum” for holding up signs reading “Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes” and dangling handcuffs next to Henry Kissinger’s head during a Senate hearing on January 29. McCain called the demonstration “disgraceful, outrageous and despicable,” accused the protesters of “physically intimidating” Kissinger and apologized profusely to his friend for this “deeply troubling incident.”

But if Senator McCain was really concerned about physical intimidation, perhaps he should have conjured up the memory of the gentle Chilean singer/songwriter Victor Jara. After Kissinger facilitated the September 11, 1973 coup against Salvador Allende that brought the ruthless Augusto Pinochet to power, Victor Jara and 5,000 others were rounded up in Chile’s National Stadium. Jara’s hands were smashed and his nails torn off; the sadistic guards then ordered him to play his guitar. Jara was later found dumped on the street, his dead body riddled with gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

Despite warnings by senior US officials that thousands of Chileans were being tortured and slaughtered, then Secretary of State Kissinger told Pinochet, "You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende."

Rather than calling peaceful protesters “despicable”, perhaps Senator McCain should have used that term to describe Kissinger’s role in the brutal 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which took place just hours after Kissinger and President Ford visited Indonesia. They had given the Indonesian strongman the US green light—and the weapons—for an invasion that led to a 25-year occupation in which over 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed or starved to death. The UN's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) stated that U.S. "political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation" of East Timor.

If McCain could stomach it, he could have read the report by the UN Commission on Human Rights describing the horrific consequences of that invasion. It includes gang rape of female detainees following periods of prolonged sexual torture; placing women in tanks of water for prolonged periods, including submerging their heads, before being raped; the use of snakes to instill terror during sexual torture; and the mutilation of women’s sexual organs, including insertion of batteries into vaginas and burning nipples and genitals with cigarettes. Talk about physical intimidation, Senator McCain!

More: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/30/henry-kissinger-or-codepink-whos-low-life-scum

Who Lives and Who Dies

By Paul Farmer
Source: London Review of Books
January 30, 2015

Posted in: Economy, Health, Human Rights

What is it like to be a passenger on a bus, or standing in a cheering crowd at the finishing line of a marathon, in the seconds after a bomb goes off, when you know you’re hurt but not where or how badly? What’s it like to be a child who finds a discarded toy and picks up what turns out to be a landmine? What’s it like to be giving birth at home, and see blood pooling between your legs, and look up at the ashen faces of a birth attendant, a midwife, a spouse? What’s it like to feel the earth tremble and see the roof and walls of your home or school fall towards you? More to the point, in terms of survival: what happens next? It depends. Not just on the severity of the injury, but on who and where you are. Death in childbirth, once the leading killer of young women across the world, is now registered almost exclusively among women living in extreme poverty, many of them in rural areas. Trauma is now the leading cause of death for children and young adults in much of the world. Who lives and who dies depends on what sort of healthcare system is available. And who recovers, if recovery is possible, depends on the way emergency care and hospitals are financed.

In the thirty years since I began my medical training in Boston, Massachusetts, I’ve cared for critically ill patients in Harvard’s teaching hospitals, as well as in Haiti, Peru, Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa. Study of healthcare financing was almost wholly absent from the curriculum at Harvard Medical School. But after working in rural Haiti I felt it was a necessary topic. I have seen patients grievously injured, often at the point of death, from a weapon or neglect or a weak health system or carelessness. Some died; those who had rapid access to a well-equipped hospital had a better chance of survival. I convinced myself, at first, that the differences in outcome must have been due to worse injuries, greater impact, more blood loss. But with time and broader experience, I was tempted to record the cause of death as ‘weak health system for poor people’, ‘uninsured’, ‘fell through gaping hole in safety net’ or ‘too poor to survive catastrophic illness’.

Our grandiose 1987 mission statement – most of us were still students – even promised to serve as ‘an antidote to despair’. Much of the despair we’d seen was generated by the ‘OOPS approach’ to sickness. ‘Out Of Pocket Spending’, a leading cause of destitution in countries rich, poor and in-between, was largely responsible for the stupid deaths we witnessed, since the care people paid for was expensive and mostly bad. PIH committed itself to the fight for healthcare as a human right. Such a right was in principle guaranteed by governments, even if they were unable, alone, to provide both healthcare and protection from destitution caused by a lack of health insurance. That meant PIH would try to help public health authorities to do their jobs, an aspiration dismissed as silly or worse by most other NGOs. We knew little about (and had nothing against) private health insurance, but we’d seen what it meant to be poor and sick or injured. The vast majority of Haitians had no insurance, public or private; they paid for their poor-quality healthcare, and inadequate education, with their own scarce cash.

A ‘minimum package’ presupposes the existence of a bigger, even a maximum package. If your child has leukaemia, then you’d better hope the package includes chemotherapy (it didn’t and, in most countries, still doesn’t, although its main components have long been off-patent). If you’re hit by a car and need surgical care, you’d hope – I merely assumed as much – that you’d get it (another big no). Most of the misfortunes that exclusively afflict the poor weren’t even on the Gobi agenda. The vaccines and drugs required to treat ‘emerging infectious diseases’ like Ebola do not yet exist because there’s no money to be made from them. The kind of care that ‘we’ receive isn’t ‘affordable’ or ‘sustainable’ for ‘them’ – the poorer inhabitants of indebted countries under pressure to shrink their public budget and healthcare payroll. Across sub-Saharan Africa, with a few notable exceptions such as Rwanda, hospitals are either private, expensive and out of reach of the destitute sick, or publicly financed, underequipped, understaffed and frequently avoided by the destitute sick, who know that the quality of care is dismal. They are often huge drains on the scant budgets of health ministries and offer little ‘value for money’. They are, in the words of experts in public health and development, ‘unsustainable’.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/who-lives-and-who-dies/

The Power of the Spectacle in Bolivia

The Power of the Spectacle in Bolivia

By Ben Dangl

January 29, 2015

A caravan of buses, security vehicles, indigenous leaders and backpackers with Che T-shirts wove their way down a muddy road through farmers’ fields last Wednesday to the pre-colonial city of Tiwanaku, where Bolivian President Evo Morales was ceremonially inaugurated into his third term in office. Folk music played throughout the morning as indigenous priests conducted complex rituals to prepare the president for his next term. The spectacle in the ancient city’s ruins was marked by its many layers of symbolic meaning.

“Today is a special day, a historic day reaffirming our identity,” Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, said in his speech in a stone doorway to Tiwanaku. “For more than 500 years we have suffered darkness, hate, racism, discrimination and individualism, ever since the strange [Spanish] men arrived who told us we had to modernize, we had to civilize ourselves… But to modernize us, to civilize us, first they had to make the indigenous peoples of the world disappear.”

Last October, Morales was re-elected with more than 60% of the vote. His popularity is largely due to his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party’s success in reducing poverty, empowering marginalized sectors of society, and using funds from state-run industries for hospitals, schools and much-needed public works projects across Bolivia.

For most of those in attendance, the event was a time to reflect on the economic and social progress enjoyed under the Morales’ government, and to recognize how far the country has come in overcoming 500 years of subjugation of its indigenous majority.

“This event is very important for us, for the Aymara, Quechua and Guarani people,” said Ismael Ticona Quispe of the Tupak Katari campesino federation of La Paz. “[Evo Morales] is our brother who is in power now after more than 500 years of slavery. Therefore this ceremony has a lot of importance for us… We consider this a huge celebration, especially for the Aymaras.”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-power-of-the-spectacle-in-bolivia/

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

By Ramzy Baroud

January 29, 2015

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/dear-syria-from-one-refugee-to-another/

Roos: Socialism or Barbarism

By Jérôme Roos
Source: teleSUR English
January 29, 2015

Today, however, with leftist parties poised to take power in Greece and Spain, the notion of a two-speed Europe has rapidly attained a very different meaning. Suddenly, we will have a progressive periphery pushing for debt cancellation, social reforms, popular empowerment, migrant rights and an end to the fiscal masochism of austerity — squaring off against a reactionary core governed by an extreme center that keeps insisting on further budget cuts and that desperately tries to appease the rising anti-immigrant sentiments of the far-right.

This is a remarkable reversal that turns the ideological narrative of Europe’s neoliberal cosmopolitan project upside down. Powerful EU figures like Wolfgang Schäuble and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission, have long delighted in the self-congratulatory view that the countries of the North are somehow more prudent and more advanced than their weak and profligate cousins in the South. The only way the latter can advance, it was argued, would be for Greece and Spain to become more like Germany and the Netherlands.

Of course we have been here before. A century ago, the German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg made a poignant statement that turned out to be tragically prophetic: “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads,” she wrote in her Junius Pamphlet of 1915: “either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.” As the left rises in the South and the far-right takes the North by storm, the neoliberal cosmopolitans of the extreme center have made it clear where they stand at this juncture: if given the chance, they will take us all back into the Dark Ages.

Today, only a radical cosmopolitan project emerging from the grassroots and the periphery can cast a different light on the notion of human progress and carry the Old Continent forward into a promising new direction. As another German revolutionary once wrote, it is time to “turn Hegel back from his head on his feet, so we can start walking again.” From Athens to Madrid, and then to Berlin.


Davos’ “dangerous delusions” slammed by new report

Wednesday, 21 January, 2015

While world leaders gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, our new report and interactive infographics have slammed what we call the “dangerous delusions” of the summit.

In 2014 Bill Gates, a regular attendee at Davos, made a widely reported statement that, “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.”

However, the report shows that since 1981, the number of people living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (under $2) has doubled from 288 million to 562 million. Simultaneously, the global rich have become much richer. The world’s richest 300 people increased their wealth by 16% in 2013, while new research from Oxfam shows that 80 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population.

Provocatively titled “The Poor Are Getting Richer and Other Dangerous Delusions,” the report uses a mixture of research, analysis and infographics to undermine seven different assumptions about economics and development promoted by political and business leaders at Davos, including:

The poor are getting richer
Big business runs things better
We need to have faith in the market to solve our problems
All you need is growth
Everyone wins under free trade
Africa needs our help


#noTTIP Train to transport 100 UK activists to confront trade negotiations in Brussels

Tuesday, 27 January, 2015

On Tuesday 3 February, 100 people from across the UK and different walks of life will be travelling together to Brussels on the Eurostar to protest at the next round of negotiations of the controversial trade deal being pushed by the EU and the USA – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Over the course of two days, the #noTTIP delegation will lobby their MEPs, take part in a demonstration at the European Commission, network with other campaigners and activists from across Europe and take part in a corporate lobby tour of Brussels.

Guy Taylor, the trade campaigner for Global Justice Now and the #NoTTIP train organiser said:

“It’s unheard of to see so many people travelling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is wilfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned.”


Nigerian farmers forced off land for massive rice plantation project backed by DFID aid initiative

Wednesday, 28 January, 2015

Farmers in Nigeria's north eastern state of Taraba are being forced off lands they have farmed for generations to make way for US company Dominion Farms to establish a 30,000 ha rice plantation.

The Dominion Farms project forms part of the UK-backed New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa and the Nigerian government's Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which are both ostensibly intended to enhance food security and livelihoods for small farmers in Nigeria. A new report, however, finds that the Dominion Farms project is having the opposite effect.

The report shows how the lands provided to Dominion Farms are part of a public irrigation scheme that thousands of families depend on for their food needs and livelihoods. The local people were not consulted about the Dominion Farms project and, although the company has already started to occupy the lands, they are still completely in the dark about any plans for compensation or resettlement. Dominion Farms is involved in a similar land grab for a rice farm in Kenya that has generated conflicts with local communities.


The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a G8 initiative backed by the UK, in which certain African countries receive aid money and corporate investment but in return have to commit to changing agricultural laws and policies. Global Justice Now argues that the New Alliance acts as a means of restructuring African agricultural markets to make it easier for multinational companies to take control of Africa’s land, seeds and markets.

The report was produced by two Nigerian NGOs, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) and Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), with the support of Global Justice Now and GRAIN. It is based on field investigations and interviews conducted with local farmers, community leaders and government officials.

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