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China to invest $900b in Belt and Road Initiative

By He Yini (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2015-05-28 15:11

China announces plans to boost the Belt and Road trade by creating economic corridors and investing nearly $900 billion in countries along the route.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said the country is mulling six economic corridors with countries along the Belt and Road trade route to better connect Asia and Europe with funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund.

Corridors are set to run through China-Mongolia-Russia, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Central and West Asia, China-Indo-China Peninsula, China-Pakistan, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, said Zhang.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Industry Dialogue on Connectivity Chongqing municipality on Wednesday, Zhang said such strong relationships were "a trend of the times and a global concern".

Full article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-05/28/content_20845654.htm

Financial Coup in Greece

By Stelios Kouloglou

May 31, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Le Monde Diplomatique " - Like the traditional Greek song, in Athens “everything changes and everything stays the same”. Four months after Syriza’s victory, the parties that had governed since the overthrow of the military dictatorship — the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and New Democracy (rightwing) — have been completely discredited. The first radical leftist government since the “mountain government” at the time of the German occupation is very popular (1).

Although the “troika”, hated because of its responsibility for the current economic disaster, is no longer mentioned, its three “institutions” — the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) — continue their policies. With threats, blackmail and ultimatums, a new “troika” is imposing the same austerity on the government of Alexis Tsipras.

With wealth generation down by 25% since 2010 and an unemployment rate of 27% (more than 50% for those under 25), Greece has an unprecedented social and humanitarian crisis. But despite the results of the January elections, which gave Tsipras a clear mandate to end austerity, the European Union continues to treat Greece as a naughty pupil who must be punished by the stern teachers in Brussels, to discourage daydreaming voters in Spain and elsewhere who still believe in the possibility of governments opposed to the German dogma.

This situation is like Chile in the 1970s, when US president Richard Nixon was determined to topple Salvador Allende to prevent leftwing contagion in America’s backyard. “Make the economy scream,” said Nixon, and when it did, General Augusto Pinochet took over.

The silent coup under way in Greece is using more modern tools, including credit rating agencies, the media and the ECB. Two options will remain for Tsipras’s government: to be strangled financially if it keeps trying to implement its programme, or to renege on its promises and fall, abandoned by its voters.

Full article: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42014.htm

The Rohingya - Adrift on a Sea of Sorrows

By Eric Margolis

May 31, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - When is genocide not really genocide? When the victims are small, impoverished brown people no wants or cares about – Burma’s Rohingya.

Their plight has finally commanded some media attention because of the suffering of Rohingya boat people, 7,000 of whom continue to drift in the waters of the Andaman Sea without food, water or shelter from the intense sun. At least 2,500 lucky refugees are in camps in Indonesia.

Mass graves of Rohingya are being discovered in Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). Large numbers of Rohingya are fleeing for their lives from their homeland, Burma, while the world does nothing. Burma is believed to have some 800,000 Rohingya citizens.

This week, the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace Prize winners call on Burma and its much ballyhooed ‘democratic leader,’ Aung San Suu Kyi, to halt persecution of the Rohingya. They did nothing.

Full article: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42008.htm

More than 100,000 Rohingyas tried to escape Burma on boats in the last year. (Photo/endgenocide.org)

Thailand wants no Rohyingas; Indonesia says only a few thousand on a temporary basis. Australia, which is not overly fond of non-whites, say no. Bangladesh can’t even feed its own wretched people. So the poor Rohyingas are a persecuted people without a country, adrift on a sea of sorrows.

What of the Muslim world? What of that self-proclaimed “Defender of the Faith. Saudi Arabia?” The Saudis are just buying $109 billion worth of US arms which they can’t use, but they don’t have even a few pennies for their desperate co-religionists in the Andaman Sea. The Holy Koran enjoins Muslims to aid their brethren wherever they are persecuted – this is the true essence of jihadism.

But the Saudis are too busy plotting against Iran, bombing Yemen, and supporting rebels in Iraq and Syria, or getting ready for their summer vacations in Spain and France, to think about fellow Muslims dying of thirst. Pakistan, which could help, has not, other than offering moral support. Neither has India, one of the world’s leading Muslim nations.

In the end, it may be up to the United States to rescue the Rohyinga, just as it rescued Bosnia and Kosovo. That’s fine with me. I don’t want the US to be the world’s policeman; I want it to be the world’s rescuer, its SOS force, its liberator.

We should tell Burma to halt its genocide today, or face isolation and sanctions from the outside world.


War in Yemen is pushing health-care facilities to the brink of collapse

Ameen al-Shirahi, his son Yusuf, and Nasser al-Shirahi, sit for a portrait in their home in Sanaa, Yemen on May 29. Nasser is suffering from severe kidney failure, heart problems, and brain hemmorhages. (Alex Potter/For The Washington Post)

By Ali al-Mujahed and Hugh Naylor May 31 at 3:30 AM

SANAA, Yemen — Two months of war have devastated Yemen’s health sector, aggravating a dire humanitarian crisis by depriving millions of people of urgent medical care and threatening outbreaks of diseases like polio and measles, according to doctors and international aid organizations.

Medicines, vaccines and basic medical supplies are running desperately low, while hospitals are scaling back services or closing, they say. Increasingly, they note, medical facilities are being attacked by warring militias and bombed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which launched an air war against Shiite insurgents, known as Houthis, in late March.

“Yemen’s health system is nearing collapse,” said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, who heads Yemen operations for Doctors Without Borders.

The Arabian Peninsula nation of more than 25 million people already struggled with grinding poverty and lack of access to basic health care before the start of the air campaign. The Saudi-led campaign has fueled fighting on the ground between the Houthis and forces aligned with Yemen’s now-exiled president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. In February, the Shiite militants toppled Hadi’s government in assaults that continue throughout the country.

Saudi Arabia accuses the Houthis of being proxies of its enemy, Shiite Iran — a charge denied by the militant group.

Yemeni child lays in a bed at a hospital in the capital Sanaa on May 12, 2015, a day after she was wounded in an air strike by Saudi-led coalition warplanes . (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)

Full article: http://world.einnews.com/article/268294065/qda2BoScDfaqJZAf

Saudi-led Yemen coalition still using cluster bombs: HRW

Human Rights Watch on Sunday published new evidence alleging a Saudi-led coalition is using internationally banned cluster bombs in Yemen, urging it to stop such attacks that were harming civilians.

The New York-based watchdog said it documented the use of three types of cluster munitions in Yemen, where Saudi-led warplanes have pounded positions of Shiite rebels and allies loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26.

"The Saudi-led coalition and other warring parties in Yemen need to recognise that using banned cluster munitions is very likely to harm civilians," said HRW's senior emergencies researcher Ole Solvang.

"These weapons can't distinguish military targets from civilians, and their unexploded submunitions threaten civilians, especially children, even long after the fighting," she added in a statement.


Sorry, Duplicate Secretive Deal Isn’t about Trade, but Corporate Control

But I'll leave it because it has comments.

Please see yesterday's with transcript here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017268677

Julian Assange on the TPP

by Democracy Now! / May 27th, 2015

As negotiations continue, WikiLeaks has published leaked chapters of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — a global trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries. The TPP would cover 40 percent of the global economy, but details have been concealed from the public.

Published on May 27, 2015


A recently disclosed "Investment Chapter" highlights the intent of U.S.-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company’s claimed future profits.


The Friends of Nukes are Losing

And the tail wagged the dog - but who cares?

by Gunnar Westberg / May 29th, 2015

The 2015 Review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended Friday May 22 in New York without a final document being accepted.


The outcome which a majority of the states desired, a plan for a total ban on nuclear weapons, as there is for chemical and bacteriological weapons, was unacceptable to the nuclear weapon states.

Consensus means in the NPT that the nuclear weapon states decide. They wish to keep their capacity to exterminate mankind for generations ahead.

No less than 159 states agreed that the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons would be so catastrophic that they must be abolished.

Even more important, 107 countries asked for legal measures for a prohibition of nuclear weapons – use, threat, production, storage.

Read the speeches by South Africa, or Costa Rica, in Xanthe Hall’s exellent account, referring to the three humanitarian conferences held in the last two years, which offer hope where NPT fails:

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/the-friends-of-nukes-are-losing/

International Physicians For The Prevention Of Nuclear War

Outcome? What outcome?

MAY 25, 2015

by Xanthe Hall

Every five years the same circus. With one big difference. This time 107 states endorsed the “Humanitarian Pledge” to work towards closing the legal gap. That means finding a legal instrument that would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. Civil society applauded this as the real outcome of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. Now all that remains is for these states to begin a new process. What better year to begin than the 70th commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Up in the gallery, we remained glued to our seats, hoping that South Africa would save the day with an announcement that we are all invited to Pretoria. But although the South African speech was by far the best of all the final speeches, they are keeping us waiting. The wheels of government turn slowly. Even with the support of the majority of states around the world to “close the legal gap”.

France took the final word, to everyone’s incredulity. A shame that South Africa’s applauded words comparing the NPT to apartheid, that has degenerated into the rule of the minority, where the will of the few will prevail even when it doesn’t make moral sense, were not the last and final ones of this cycle’s Review Conference. Instead we were forced, once again, to hear him say that France has an excellent record on disarmament. Calling this a disconnect is an understatement. Cognitive dissonance might sum it up better. Or, quite simply, lying.

Now I am back in Berlin and, sitting with my neighbours in our beautiful garden by the pond, they ask me: What was that all about? I find myself trying to capture the essence of a four-week long conference of 191 states with no outcome and see their eyes glaze over. It seems so far away from reality although it is just as real as the flowers around me. The saving grace is the vision of a ban and knowing that, although the media sees only an attention-seeking Israel and a failing international community that succumbs to blackmail, what we – civil society – have achieved is the real outcome of the last four weeks. As Costa Rica said in their closing statement: “The humanitarian conferences demonstrate that democracy has come to nuclear disarmament, even if democracy is yet to come to the NPT.” The NPT cannot deliver, it needs a new democratic process for a ban treaty to implement itself. Costa Rica finished their statement with these words, that we should take to our hearts:

“Despite what has happened at this Review Conference, there is no force can stop the steady march of those who believe in human security, democracy and international law. History honors only the brave, those who have the courage to think differently and dream of a better future for all. This is not the time to lament what has happened here, as lamentable as it may be. Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve. Let us all, boldly and finally, give peace a chance.”


Longest Floating Structure In History Sets Out To Clean The Ocean In 2016

May 29, 2015 by John Vibes

An ambitious new project is hoping to help clean the world's oceans with a trash collector that is reportedly the longest floating structure in recorded world history.

Back in 2013 we reported that a 19-year-old developed a plan to clean up the world’s oceans in just 5 years, removing 7,250,000 tons of plastic. However, last week, Boyan Slat (now 21), founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, announced that this awesome project will be deployed in 2016.

Slat’s invention consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Working with the flow of nature, his solution to the problematic shifting of trash is to have the array span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel as the ocean moves through it. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from smaller forms, such as plankton, and be filtered and stored for recycling. The issue of by-catches, killing life forms in the procedure of cleaning trash, can be virtually eliminated by using booms instead of nets and it will result in a larger areas covered. Because of trash’s density compared to larger sea animals, the use of booms will allow creatures to swim under the booms unaffected, reducing wildlife death substantially.

According to a press release published by the company:

The array is projected to be deployed in Q2 2016. The feasibility of deployment, off the coast of Tsushima, an island located in the waters between Japan and South-Korea is currently being researched. The system will span 2000 meters, thereby becoming the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean (beating the current record of 1000 m held by the Tokyo Mega-Float). It will be operational for at least two years, catching plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the proposed deployment location of Tsushima island. Tsushima island is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source.


Heroic Rats Sniff Out Landmines In Africa, May Save Thousands Of Lives Worldwide

May 30, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

These trained rats can effectively search 200 square meters in 20 minutes, saving plenty of time and thousands of lives.

Rats are a rodent you either adore or are can’t stand… But soon their stereotypical nature may be discarded, as a Belgian-based NGO is training the little critters to do a job that has potential to save thousands of lives every year, worldwide.

APOPO, the Belgian NGO, has been training giant African pouched rats to detect land mines since 1997; and soon, they believe, the rodents will be put to work detecting explosives elsewhere around the world.

Since the NGO was formed, it has been training rats to effectively search 200 square meters in 20 minutes. This is a stark difference from the 25 operational hours it takes humans with mine detectors to do the same.

And what may be most impressive is that no heroic rats have yet been harmed in the line of duty. Again, this is a grand contrast from the 9 mine-related human casualties reported per day in 2013.


The legacy of land-mines

Photo: Land-mines are catastrophic for children, whose small bodies are particularly vulnerable to the injuries they inflict. One of the mosts heavily mined countries in the world is Afghanistan. ©

Of all the weapons that have accumulated over years of war, few are more persistent and more lethal to children than land-mines . Hundreds of thousands of children, herding animals, planting crops or just playing, have been killed or maimed by these deadly devices.

Since 1975, land-mines have exploded under more than 1 million people and are currently thought to be killing 800 people a month. There seems little prospect of any end to the carnage. In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million land-mines still lodged in the ground—waiting.50 They remain active for decades. As one Khmer Rouge general put it, a land-mine is a perfect soldier: "Ever courageous, never sleeps, never misses."

There are basically two types of land-mines: anti-tank and anti-personnel. The most dangerous to children are the anti-personnel mines that explode even under the gentle pressure of a child's hand or foot. These come in a bewildering array of shapes and colours. Some look like stones, others like pineapples. But all can seem an interesting discovery for a curious child. One of the most infamous is the 'butterfly' mine, designed to float to the ground from helicopters without exploding, but with a shape and colour that also make it a deadly toy.

Virtually all combatants use land-mines. During the Persian Gulf war, the US and its allies laid about 1 million mines along the Iraq-Kuwait border and around the Iraqi city of Basra. And some 3 million have been laid in the continuing Balkan war. Some of the largest numbers lie in wait in Africa and Asia. The countries most devastated by land-mines are probably Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia. Afghanistan has an estimated 10-15 million mines in place.51 It is clear that many of these have been randomly scattered in inhabited areas precisely to cause civilian casualties and terrorize the population.52


Treaty in Detail

Sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention, the Mine Ban Treaty is officially titled: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. It was adopted in 1997 and it entered into force on 1 March 1999.

Landmine Monitor

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor (the Monitor), is the innovative civil society research and monitoring arm of the ICBL-CMC and provides the most up-to-date and relevant information on, and assessment of, the international community’s response to the problems caused by landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war.

The Monitor has provided this service to the international community since 1998. It produces annual online and/or hard copy publications of Landmine Monitor, Cluster Munition Monitor, Major Findings of Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor reports, individual country profiles for all countries of the world and the disputed areas, as well as topical and thematic Fact Sheets. It is renowned for its independent and impartial reporting, and its researchers and editors are internationally recognized and unbiased experts.

Click here to visit the Monitor website.


The Issues

Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted by 107 countries on 30 May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. The convention was opened for signature on 3 December 2008, and as of 20 March 2014 had been joined by 113 states and had 84 States Parties. The convention entered into force on 1 August 2010, six months after the 30th state submitted its instrument of ratification.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. It also provides countries with deadlines for clearance of affected areas and the destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions. It includes articles concerning assistance to victims of cluster munitions incidents.

Under the Convention on Cluster Munitions States Parties will be obligated to:

destroy their stockpile of cluster munitions within eight years of entry into force (Article 3);
undertake to clear and destroy cluster munition remnants located in cluster munition contaminated areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 10 years after becoming a State Party (Article 4);
provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance to cluster munition victims, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion (Article 5); and
submit annual reports on the Convention on Cluster Munitions implementation activities Secretary-General of the United Nations (Article 7).

Click here for the full text of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Impact of Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War

Landmines, unexploded submunitions, and explosive remnants of war (ERW) all pose a serious and ongoing threat to civilians. During and after conflicts, these weapons can be found on roads, footpaths, farmer’s fields, forests, deserts, along borders, in and surrounding houses and schools, and in other places where people carry out their daily activities. They can deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement, limiting people’s ability to participate in education or access medical care. Mine and ERW contamination may also prevent the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced people, and hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Mine and ERW-affected countries incur costs related to clearing mines, destroying stockpiles, and providing assistance to mine and ERW survivors. More generally, development and post-conflict reconstruction are hindered when access to resources is limited and when people sustain serious, long-term injuries due to mines and ERW.


Feces-Powered Bus Breaks World Speed Record

It is estimated that one dairy cow can produce up to 150 pounds of manure per day… So why not recycle that digested grass and put it to good use?

This is exactly what the company Reading Buses, based in the UK, has done.

The ‘Bus Hound’, the UK’s first poop-powered bus, has just set a speed record for a regular service bus with a top speed of 76.8 miles per hour (123.5kph). Powered by biomethane derived from cow manure, it is pushing the limits of sustainable technology and showing the world just what can be done with waste matter.

In good humor, the ‘Bus Hound’ (name inspired by the British Bloodhound supersonic car) is decorated with a black and white skin reminiscent of the Friesan cows used for milk production around Britain. It’s also said to sound like a Vulcan bomber.

Full article and video: http://www.trueactivist.com/feces-powered-bus-breaks-world-speed-record/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TrueActivist+%28True+Activist%29

Austerity Is the Only Deal-Breaker

By Yanis Varoufakis
Source: Project Syndicate
May 26, 2015

So, if our government is willing to embrace the reforms that our partners expect, why have the negotiations not produced an agreement? Where is the sticking point?

The problem is simple: Greece’s creditors insist on even greater austerity for this year and beyond – an approach that would impede recovery, obstruct growth, worsen the debt-deflationary cycle, and, in the end, erode Greeks’ willingness and ability to see through the reform agenda that the country so desperately needs. Our government cannot – and will not – accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease.

Our creditors’ insistence on greater austerity is subtle yet steadfast. It can be found in their demand that Greece maintain unsustainably high primary surpluses (more than 2% of GDP in 2016 and exceeding 2.5%, or even 3%, for every year thereafter). To achieve this, we are supposed to increase the overall burden of value-added tax on the private sector, cut already diminished pensions across the board; and compensate for low privatization proceeds (owing to depressed asset prices) with “equivalent” fiscal consolidation measures.

The view that Greece has not achieved sufficient fiscal consolidation is not just false; it is patently absurd. The accompanying graph not only illustrates this; it also succinctly addresses the question of why Greece has not done as well as, say, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, or Cyprus in the years since the 2008 financial crisis. Relative to the rest of the countries on the eurozone periphery, Greece was subjected to at least twice the austerity. There is nothing more to it than that.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/austerity-is-the-only-deal-breaker/
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