Canada: Government failure on research of Bitumen spill effects

Bitumen spill effects unknown: draft federal government report

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
February 2, 2015
The federal government has been trying to hide legitimate concerns about the consequences of oilsands pipelines by keeping under wraps a report on the possible environmental threats such projects pose, critics say.
“We are being sold a bill of goods by this government,” said New Democrat environment critic Megan Leslie.
“If this report has been around since 2013 and not been released, then it makes me think they must be trying to hide something.”
The unpublished report on environmental threats from oil and bitumen pipelines says little is known about the potential toxic effects of oilsands products in oceans, lakes or rivers.
“In particular, research on the toxicology of bitumen is lacking,” says the draft report, commissioned in response to concerns raised at the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings.
The document comes as Canada debates pipeline proposals for moving large amounts of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to refineries and ports on both coasts and into the United States. It was obtained by Greenpeace under freedom-of-information legislation.
A spokesman for the department of Fisheries and Oceans said a more complete, peer-reviewed version of the report will be published in the coming months.
But Canadians need that information now, said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace. He said the fact the Harper Tories approved Northern Gateway in spite of important knowledge gaps shows a dangerous lack of caution.
“The fact they’re saying full speed ahead even though they know it’s a lot more dangerous than they’ve been letting on publicly should be a cause for concern,” he said. “It throws into question the regulatory approvals process, when they withhold this kind of information.”
An early draft of the report lays out 10 specific “knowledge gaps” about bitumen and the various substances used to dilute it when it’s pumped through pipelines.
“Very little information is available on the physical and chemical characteristics of oilsands-related products following a spill into water,” it says. “Research on the biological effects of oilsands-related products on aquatic organisms is lacking.”
“A better understanding of the fate and behaviour of these products is critical for assessing the potential risk to aquatic organisms.”
More research is needed on what happens to heavy metals in bitumen in a spill. There is a “lack of information” on how condensate — a lighter hydrocarbon used to dilute bitumen — behaves in water.
The understanding of how chemicals in bitumen would interact with fish should be improved, the report says. Specific research in different water bodies is needed.
The impact of sunlight, which can make some chemicals in bitumen vastly more harmful, is also unknown. The combined effect of bitumen and dispersants — chemical agents used to break up oil spilled in water — hasn’t been studied.
The draft finds that Orimulsion, a Venezuelan product about two-thirds bitumen and one-third water, is “highly toxic to fish” — 300 times more toxic to embryos than heavy fuel oil.
The 61-page draft includes 14 pages of references to peer-reviewed academic studies as well as government and industry publications. They date from 1976 to 2013 and include articles from a wide variety of scientific journals.
The government spokesman said funding has already been provided for five research projects on possible bitumen effects on fish and shellfish.
One new federal report, released Jan. 14, echoes many of the concerns from the unreleased review. It concluded little can be said about how bitumen changes as it weathers, how it interacts with sediments or whether it would float or sink.
“Research regarding how bitumen products will further biodegrade in the environment is insufficient,” it concludes. Source

July 25, 2010 The pipeline carries diluted bitumen (dilbit), a heavy crude oil from Canada’s Athabasca oil sands to the United States. They estimated the spill to be in excess of 1 million US gallons. For more details go to the  Source

For more information check the link below.
Kalamazoo River spill

Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare

Recent

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

 

 

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Published in: on February 3, 2015 at 4:08 am  Comments Off on Canada: Government failure on research of Bitumen spill effects  
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Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

The Growing Global Challenge to Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

May 25, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The common problem we face is the power of concentrated wealth and monopolistic corporate interests. This has created a crony capitalist economy that uses government to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the people, often threatening our basic necessities for life. A clear example of this is found in the behavior of the chemical and seed corporation, Monsanto.Monsanto threatens the world’s food supply; this is a major challenge of our era. This struggle is central to the global ecosystem, economy and energy crises. Monsanto also pushes poisonous chemicals into the environment and promotes agricultural practices that exacerbate climate change.

Monsanto’s actions truly affect each of us. They put their profits over the need for healthy foods, diverse seed supplies and the stability of the agricultural economy. They employ a variety of tools to control access to seeds and aggressively push genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic chemicals despite serious safety concerns about them. And they accomplish this with great help from the US government.

When President Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the “food czar” (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) – avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment – it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence.

A global grassroots movement is building to challenge Monsanto as more people realize that we are in a struggle for our survival. May 25 is a global day of action against Monsanto taking place in hundreds of cities and 41 countries. Monsanto must be stopped before its unfettered greed destroys our health and environment. We urge you to join the effort to stop Monsanto.

Monsanto: A Threat to Public Health and the Environment

Monsanto’s products increase the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, water and energy. At a time when the world needs to be making a transition away from the destructive impacts of energy and chemical-intensive agriculture toward local and organic food and farming, Monsanto is pulling the world in the opposite direction.

Monsanto began as a chemical company in 1901. In the 1930s, it was responsible for some of the most damaging chemicals in our history – polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB’s, and dioxin. According to a Food & Water Watch corporate profile, a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, produced 99 percent of PCB’s until they were banned in 1976. PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to multiple organs and systems. They are still illegally dumped into waterways, where they accumulate in plants and food crops, as well as fish and other aquatic organisms, which enter the human food supply. The Sauget plant is now the home of two Superfund sites.

Dioxin is the defoliant used in Vietnam known as Agent Orange. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals known, a highly toxic carcinogen linked to 50 illnesses and 20 birth defects. Between 1962 and 1971, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam. A class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange was settled for $180 million. And a Monsanto plant that made dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri, poisoned the area so greatly that the town has been wiped from the map. Thousands of people had to be relocated and it is now also a superfund site. Consistent with their method of operation, Monsanto has denied responsibility for the harm these chemicals have caused.

Their biggest selling chemical worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate, sold under the name RoundUp. Monsanto markets it as a safe herbicide and has made a fortune from it. Sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto’s total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers genetically modified seeds, branded as “Roundup Ready,” to resist Roundup so that the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy these seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been Monsanto’s most successful genetically modified product line and have made Roundup the most widely used herbicide in the history of the world.

Roundup is toxic, known to cause cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, birth defects and infertility. A 2012 European Report found that the, “Industry has known from its own studies since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses” and that industry has known “since 1993 that these effects also occur at lower and mid doses.” This information was not made public, and both Monsanto and the European government misled people by telling them glyphosate was safe – as did the US government.

In response to Monsanto’s denial of this toxicity, Earth Open Source explicitly pointed to studies, including some funded by Monsanto, that showed “glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals” and also causes “cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption and other serious health effects. Many of these effects are found at very low, physiologically relevant doses.”

Before the use of glyphosate-resistant seeds, farmers used lower quantities of Roundup for fear of killing their own plants (since the herbicide kills anything green). But, a 2012 report found that with resistant seeds, “the herbicide can be sprayed in massive amounts, often from planes, near homes, schools and villages, resulting in massive increases in cancer and birth defects.”

In addition, farmers are discovering Roundup resistant “super weeds” that are not killed by the herbicide. An Arkansas farmer tells US News “This is not a science fiction thing, this is happening right now. We’re creating super weeds.” Indeed, there are now 24 Roundup resistant weeds that have been reported. In response to the appearance of these weeds, a report found: “farmers … use progressively more glyphosate as well as mixtures of other even more toxic herbicides.” In fact, farmers who grow genetically modified crops use about 25 percent more herbicides than farmers who use traditional seeds.

Monsanto produces a variety of pesticides that are less well known. Author Jill Richardson reports that these include “a number of chemicals named as Bad Actors by Pesticide Action Network.” They include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other toxins such as Alachlor, Acetochlor, Atrazine, Clopyralid, Dicamba and Thiodicarb.

Not only does Monsanto never take responsibility for the impact of its poisonous chemicals, but they do their best to prevent research showing toxic effects. For example, in 2011, Monsanto acquired Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides was to blame for dwindling bee populations.

Monsanto also threatens the sustainability of agriculture because its products require the use of larger quantities of water and fossil fuels in farming. While genetically engineered crops are supposed to be more drought resistant, the opposite turns out to be true. Don Huber, a science expert, notes “It takes twice as much water to produce a pound of a Roundup-ready crop soybean plant treated with glyphosate, as it does with soybean plant that’s not treated with glyphosate.”

Monsanto is a major threat to climate change due to its energy-intensive agricultural model and promotion of ethanol as a fuel source. The Organic Consumers Association adds it all up: “All told, the production and processing of Monsanto’s GMO crops, from deforestation to fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, polluting factory farms, and fuel-intensive food processing and distribution, is estimated to produce up to 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

As a result of Monsanto’s marketing, there are a lot of myths about GMOs. The truth is that GMO foods are different from traditional foods and are neither more nutritious – nor have they been proven to be safe to eat. Limited studies so far indicate that GMO foods may cause kidney and liver damage. GMO crops do not produce larger crop yields or make farmers’ lives easier, nor are they a key to feeding the world. The use of GMO seeds does environmental damage by increasing the use of pesticides, fossil fuels and water. And they make the world’s biggest environmental problem, climate change, worse.

Monsanto: A Threat to Biodiversity and Independent Agriculture

One of the keys to sustainability and durability in times of environmental stress is biodiversity. This means the existence of many varieties of plants and the insects, fungi and bacteria they require for survival so that food can be produced under different conditions. With climate change upon us, the environment is in a state of great stress: more extreme weather, new varieties of insects moving from south to north and new weeds are becoming common. This is a time when biodiversity is more important than ever.

Yet years of chemical-based agriculture have poisoned the air, water, soil and food supplies, which has killed many living things and decreased biodiversity. In addition to causing disease in humans, the use of herbicides and pesticides is contributing to a rapid species extinction of beneficial plants, insects and animals.

Monsanto is pushing agriculture toward less biodiversity by concentrating the world’s seed supply under its control. Through promotion of their genetically altered crops, contamination of traditional seeds and the practice of monopolization, Monsanto is rapidly dominating our global food system.

Monsanto’s genes are currently found in 40 percent of the crops grown in the United States. A March 2013 report found 86 percent of corn, 88 percent of cotton and 93 percent of soybeans farmed in the US are now genetically engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult. As GE crops spread and infect or mix with traditional crops, it is becoming harder to preserve traditional seeds. This creates a great problem because, as we discussed above, GE crops are unsustainable for a variety of reasons.

Monsanto’s efforts to dominate the market began with buying up the competition as early as 1982. In the decade after the mid-90s, Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 businesses contributing to the decline of independent seed companies. One of the big purchases that consolidated the market was a 1997 purchase of Holden Foundation Seeds and two Holden seed distributors for $1.02 billion. Holden was the country’s last big independent producer of foundation seed. The company was in the Holden family for three generations. They produced seed that was planted on about 35 percent of the acreage set aside for corn and were the biggest American producer of foundation corn, the parent seed from which hybrids are made.

Jill Richardson describes how aggressively Monsanto uses their market power “to get seed dealers to not stock many of their competitors’ products … they restrict the seed companies’ ability to combine Monsanto’s traits with those of their competitors. And, famously, farmers who plant Monsanto’s patented seeds sign contracts prohibiting them from saving and replanting their seeds.” They promised rebates to farmers who ensured that Monsanto products made up at least 70 percent of their inventory to keep competitors out of the market. As a result of this, through either purchases or forcing competitors into bankruptcy, the number of independent seed producers has dropped from 300 to under 100 since the mid-90s. Monsanto also required that their Roundup Ready seeds be used only with Roundup, thereby keeping generic, less expensive competitors out of the market.

The result has been increased prices for farmers and consumers. Since 2001, Monsanto has more than doubled the price of soybean and corn seeds and farmers have been told to expect prices to keep increasing. According to a March 2013 report, from 1995 to 2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent. The rising cost has had a deadly effect in India, where more than 270,000 farmers who grew Monsanto’s Bt Cotton committed suicide, many by drinking pesticides, because of endless growing debt. Nonetheless, the greatest threat from the loss of biodiversity in the seed markets is the ability to adapt to increasingly unpredictable climate changes. As Salon reports: “Many of the seed breeders and retailers Monsanto purchased were regional experts, familiar with the soil and adept at breeding crops suited to the vagaries of local pests and climate. That sprawling network of local knowledge and experimentation has been severely thinned.” Richardson adds, when crops are “too genetically homogenous, then they are vulnerable to a single disease or pest that can wipe them out.”

A March 2013 report, Seed Giants vs. US Farmers, found that Monsanto’s seed dominance is also shrinking the number of independent farmers. According to the report, as of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states. Some of these farmers are sued because pollen brings Monsanto products onto their farms. There are so many cases it is impossible to summarize them in this article, but the Organic Consumers Association has an excellent web site for more information on this and other Monsanto controversies.

Monsanto: Leading Example of Corrupted Government Unable to Operate in the Public Interest

You would think this concentration of industry would lead to antitrust litigation. In fact, shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began an antitrust investigation, taking over from several states that were looking into the market practices of Monsanto. The investigation was announced with much fanfare, but last November, without even a press release, the Department of Justice closed the investigation, leaving us to conclude that it may have been a tactic to thwart state efforts.

At the beginning of the antitrust investigation, there was hope that a marketplace with more diverse seed sources and competition could exist in the future, but with the Obama administration’s decision to drop the investigation, Monsanto domination of the market has been given the imprimatur of legality and the abusive practices Monsanto uses to buy or destroy competition have been ratified.

Monsanto exemplifies political connections, the revolving door, bought-and-paid-for corporatist governance and so much that is wrong with the way the US government operates. Open Secrets reports Monsanto is one of the biggest spenders in Washington. It spent $6 million lobbying in DC in 2012, the biggest agribusiness spender. The next was Archer Daniel Midlands, spending just over $1 million.

Monsanto epitomizes the revolving door between industry and government. At least seven Monsanto officials have served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current “food czar,” where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows’ milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.

Other door revolvers include high level officials: Arthur Hayes, commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983 and consultant to Searle’s public relations firm, which later merged with Monsanto; Michael A. Friedman, former acting commissioner of the FDA, who later went on to become senior vice president for clinical affairs at Searle; and Virginia Weldon, a member of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as vice president for public policy at Monsanto.

It is not only the FDA where the Monsanto revolving door has influence. On the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas used to be a lawyer for Monsanto. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against a farmer who was sued by Monsanto, ordering the farmer to pay $84,000 in damages.

But it is not only the revolving door that is the problem. It is also that some top government officials “work” for Monsanto while they are in office. One example took place during the Clinton administration when the French government was reluctant to allow Monsanto’s seeds on French soil. First the US Trade Representative Charlene Barschefsky urged the French government to allow the seeds. When that did not work, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lobbied for Monsanto in France. When that failed, President Clinton himself took up the task of giving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin “an earful” about Monsanto. Even that did not work. Finally, Vice President Gore pushed Jospin – who finally gave in.

This is just one example of many in which the US government foreign policy apparatus operated on behalf of Monsanto. Five years of WikiLeaks diplomatic cables during the Bush and Obama administrations reveal that the State Department lobbied for Monsanto products worldwide and pushed genetically modified foods wherever it could. It is almost like the US government is a marketing arm for Monsanto and genetically modified foods. Indeed, in August 2011, WikiLeaks exposed that American diplomats requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in “target countries” in areas like Africa and Latin America.

There is no doubt that in the new massive trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the trade agreement being negotiated with Europe, the United States will seek to include protections for Monsanto and GMOs. Europeans involved in every aspect of agriculture or food safety are very concerned that lowered trade barriers will allow GMOs into Europe. In Europe, GMOs are currently grown on less than 1 percent of farmland.

When people try to use democratic tools to change Monsanto’s behavior, Monsanto and its allies spend millions to confuse voters and create fear. That was clear in the California initiative in November 2012 in which tens of millions were spent to prevent the requirement that foods be labeled so consumers would know whether they contained GMOs or not. Consumer groups continue to push for labeling. Another vote will be held in 2013 in Washington State, and Vermont may become the first state to pass a law requiring labeling.

Although labeling of foods that contain GMOs is required in Europe and US corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s comply with these rules in Europe, Monsanto and its allies are taking the fight to prevent labeling in the United States to new levels. As more state-level battles and an energized grass roots develop, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association reports Monsanto and allies are trying to subvert these efforts by getting the corrupt federal government to pass a law forbidding states to pass labeling laws.

Impossible, you think? Well, Monsanto has done the seemingly impossible before. Most recently, one legislative victory that enraged people was the Monsanto Protection Act (actually misleadingly named the Farmer Assurance Provision) which was buried in a spending bill earlier this year and which protects Monsanto from the courts. For example, under the new law, federal courts are not allowed to stop the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. There are now efforts to add a rider to the farm bill to repeal this measure.

Stopping Monsanto and Moving to Sensible Agricultural Policy

The first step to stopping the entrenchment of genetically modified foods in our food supply is labeling. As noted above, states are moving forward on that front, despite the efforts of Monsanto to stop them. This is the big battle because when foods are labeled, consumers have the power of knowledge and can choose not to buy them. Cummins reports that in Europe, the labeling of foods was the key to stopping the development of genetically modified foods.

One of the tools we must use is the boycott. Large food and beverage corporations that sell billions of dollars of organic and natural foods bankrolled the industry opposition to GMO labeling in California. Brand names like Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Bear Naked, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Naked Juice and others need to be told that we will not buy their products if they continue to fund ignorance by blocking GMO labeling.

To protect our food and health, the United States needs to adopt the precautionary principle, which means products must be proven to be safe before they are allowed on the market. The US applies a sham standard of “substantial equivalence” which avoids the need to test for safety. Applying the precautionary principle to Monsanto’s products would mean a moratorium on them until their safety can be demonstrated by independent (non-corporate-funded), long-term tests for food safety as well as safety for agriculture. Our health should come before Monsanto’s profits.

People need to be empowered not just with credible information about genetically modified foods and how to avoid them – that is, buy organic and non-processed foods – but also with access to courts to sue if agriculture, the environment or their health is damaged by GMOs. The repeal of the “Monsanto Protection Act” is a first step in that direction, but people also need to have a greater ability to sue corporations that harm them.

We advocate a two-path approach – protest what you do not like and build what you want. That means that while we encourage community-supported agriculture, organic and local gardening, preparing your own non-processed foods and working to change laws, we also urge protest. This May 25, nearly 300 protests are being held all over the world against Monsanto in the March Against Monsanto organized by Occupy Monsanto. Join these protests.

As it is with many other issues, the future of the world’s food supply boils down to the people vs. concentrated wealth and corporate power. It highlights the corruption of government and the need for a real democracy in which people are allowed to make choices for themselves on basic issues like what kind of food they eat and what kind of plants they want to grow. Popular resistance to concentrated wealth is growing as more people demand the right to control their own lives.

You can learn more and hear our interview with Ronnie Cummins, Patty Lovera and Adam Eidinger, “Reasons to Protest Monsanto” at Clearing The FOG

This article was first published on Truthout.

 Source

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35070.htm

300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide due to Monsanto crop failure, Debt etc.

March Against Monsanto.

For Details and locations of each March

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page.html

Published in: on May 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm  Comments Off on Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed  
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Data leak exposes offshore financial secrets A world wide problem

This will be a long ongoing story. Reporters have a couple of million document to sift through. This is just a tiny sample of what has been found so far.

Added an update for April 5th at the bottom.

April 4 2013

They sought the utmost secrecy in offshore tax havens. But now some of the world’s wealthiest citizens are having their undisclosed financial records laid bare.

An unprecedented leak of documents is revealing the closely guarded investment information of more than 100,000 people around the world, including hundreds of Canadians.

In what is believed to be one of the largest ever leaks of financial data, the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has received nearly 30 years of data entries, emails and other confidential details from 10 offshore havens around the world.

CBC News has partnered with the ICIJ over the last seven months to gain exclusive Canadian access to the information. Thirty-seven media outlets in 35 other countries are also involved.

“This secret world has finally been revealed,” said lawyer and international tax expert Art Cockfield, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“I find it absolutely fascinating to get a look at this data dump. I think this is the very first time where people like myself, and maybe even government officials, have had access to this information.”

The files contain information on over 120,000 offshore entities — including shell corporations and legal structures known as trusts — involving people in over 170 countries. The leak amounts to 260 gigabytes of data, or 162 times larger than the U.S. State Department cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

“What we found as we started digging in the records is a pretty extensive collection of dodgy characters: Wall Street fraudsters, Ponzi schemers, figures connected to organized crime, to arms dealing, money launderers,” said Michael Hudson, a senior editor at the ICIJ, who worked with a team for months to sort through the information.

“We just found a lot of folks involved in questionable or outright illegal activities.”

There was also plenty of information related to legal offshore dealings. Offshore investments aren’t illicit as long as they are not used to evade taxes or launder money.

As reported by CBC News yesterday, the files show that a Canadian senator and her husband, one of the country’s most prominent class-action lawyers, were beneficiaries of a confidential offshore account in the Cook Islands that was used to make investments via Bermuda.

The leaked data also contains revelations about:

  • Elite Russian scammers who stole $230 million from the country’s treasury in a deadly heist that sparked a diplomatic row with the U.S.
  • The fraudster hit with the second-biggest fine in history from Ontario’s stock-market regulator.
  • Top German, French and Swiss banks that set up thousands of secretive companies in offshore havens for such clients as Thai and Pakistani politicians.

In many cases, the leaked documents expose insider details of how agents would incorporate companies in Caribbean and South Pacific micro-states on behalf of wealthy clients, then assign front people called “nominees” to serve, on paper, as directors and shareholders for the corporations — disguising the companies’ true owners.

Often the companies were set up through intermediary law and accounting firms, as well, adding a further layer of anonymity for investors.

“These people have no idea whatsoever about the activities of the companies that they are apparently responsible for. Now, this is a complete travesty,” said John Christensen, director of the Tax Justice Network, an international coalition that campaigns against offshore finance.

“But it is actually crucial to this process of not revealing who the real person is behind the company.”

Sometimes these methods were used by figures with known links to organized crime, arms dealers and ex-mercenaries. In other instances, documents reveal tax dodgers funnelling money offshore, beyond the eyes and arms of their nation’s treasury.

Canadians at top

Many of the leaked records consist of emails between employees and customers of specialty firms that set up and administer tens of thousands of offshore companies.

One of those firms — Commonwealth Trust Ltd., based in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean — was founded and, until 2009, run by a Toronto native, Tom Ward. The company’s senior ranks included a number of other Canadians. It mainly sets up corporations in the BVI for the wealthy, charging around $2,000 a year per account for its services.

Another agency, Portcullis TrustNet, has offices on tropical islands around the globe, including in the Cook Islands near New Zealand, as well as the BVI, the Caymans, Mauritius, Samoa, Singapore and Hong Kong. A former senior manager at the company is a Canadian lawyer.

Not all the firms’ leaked emails are strictly business. There’s also hundreds of intra-office missives about cricket, after-work drinking plans and the latest internet memes.

“I am getting some very funny looks as I sit here crying with laughter at that one,” a TrustNet employee messages a co-worker after watching a YouTube video that was sent around.

Another colleague describes a recent Monday evening trip to the bar in an email to her mom: “What started out as being just one drink ended up being 3 double bourbons and hello?! Can I just get drunk?! Haha.”

Up to $32 trillion stashed offshore

Offshore tax havens have existed for at least 100 years. While there’s no firm definition, the International Monetary Fund says most of what it officially calls “offshore financial centres” are distinguished by:

  • A banking sector that primarily serves non-residents.
  • Low to no taxation on foreign firms and people.
  • Tight financial secrecy.

By those terms, there are up to 80 tax havens in the world, including such countries as Panama, Liechtenstein and Switzerland but also tiny island territories like Jersey, Malaysia’s Labuan, the Isle of Man and the Turks and Caicos.

Publishing decision

CBC Editor Jennifer McGuire explains why CBC News isn’t publishing all 450 Canadian names.

Worldwide, the Tax Justice Network estimates that between $21 trillion and $32 trillion of private wealth is held offshore, out of reach of national treasuries (a more conservative estimate by the Boston Consulting Group puts the figure at $8 trillion). The international organization says that translates to up to $280 billion a year in lost taxes — twice what the world’s richest countries spend combined on foreign aid.

Canada’s share of that, assuming it’s the same as the country’s proportion of global GDP, would be about $7 billion, or a quarter of the federal government’s projected 2012 budget deficit.

Countries have discussed ways to stem the tax drain to offshore havens for years, but so far have been unable, or unwilling, to fully plug the leak.

In last month’s federal budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised to set up a system for tipsters to report offshore tax cheats. Informants would get 15 per cent of the recouped tax in cases where the Canada Revenue Agency recovers more than $100,000. The government estimates it could recover hundreds of million in revenue. But the Tories also cut $47 million a year from the budget of the Canada Revenue Agency. Source

This is a fun little Interactive toy to play with. It also has the names of many of the countries used as tax havens.

Do try it out and get educated on how the rich hide their money to avoid paying taxes like the rest of us.

BUYING SECRECY Interactive: How offshore havens attract the wealthy 

France‘s former budget minister admits lying about secret offshore account

Jérôme Cahuzac plunges Hollande’s government into crisis after shock confession to hiding €600,000 for more than 20 years Source

 PM of Georgia among owners of secret firms in British Virgin Islands among owners of secret firms in British Virgin Islands

His Offshore company: Bosherston Overseas Corp

Details: Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman, became prime minister of Georgia in 2012. Listed from 2006-9 as director of the BVI company, administered via an agent in Panama, incorporated in 2006 and still active.

Source

More than 175,000 UK companies have offshore directors

Figures raise concern about scale of offshore secrecy arrangements by British businesses

There is more on this HERE

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and family

Offshore Companies: Arbor Investments; LaBelleza Holdings; Harvard Management; Rosamund International

Three BVI entities set up in 2008 in the names of the president’s daughters, Arzu and Leyla,. They list as a director wealthy local businessman, Hassan Gozal. His construction company has won major contracts in Azerbaijan. Another BVI entity set up in 2003, lists the president and his wife Mehriban as owners. More HERE

The extraordinary range of people using offshore hideaways

Records represent the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organisation More HERE

Apparently there has been about $32 Trillion stashed in off shore sites. Then used to launder money, tax evasion or other things by many. Not all are bad people but many are.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

For the past 15 months, journalists from over 40 countries have worked together to shed light on financial secrecy jurisdictions. For much more information go HERE

April 5 2013 update

Canadian’s firm used in huge Russian tax scandal Caribbean agency helped set up offshore companies connected to $230M scam

It’s a tale with the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of a Hollywood thriller: a $230-million heist, corrupt Russian police and government officials, prison beatings, a dead lawyer, Kafkaesque trials and a diplomatic spat between international superpowers.

And now, for the first time, secret files obtained exclusively in Canada by CBC News reveal how a Canadian-run offshore company in the Caribbean enabled the transfer of some of that money into a labyrinth of shell corporations around the world in a scandal known as the Magnitsky affair. For more go HERE

 

Related

Many hid their money in Cyprus. Some must have had some inside information as apparently there has been about 175 billion Euro sent to other off shore banking havens in the Month of March. Obviously some one told them. Some reports claim the IMF warned a few of the wealthy people. Either way some how they knew enough to get their money out of the EU countries.

Cyprus Banks steal Depositors money

Many of the Rich hide their money in off shore countries and the poor foot the bill for taxes etc.

Personally the only place anyone from any country should be allowed to keep all their money is in the country, where they reside and no where else. There should not nor ever have been secret places to hide your money as a tax dodger.

 

Published in: on April 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm  Comments Off on Data leak exposes offshore financial secrets A world wide problem  
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Cyprus Banks steal Depositors money

This is rather a long read. It is important that we all know the facts. If banks were properly regulated this would not have happened. It all started back in 2008 in the US and is still continuing. The question we all should be asking is, why is it those who created the problem never get punished?

Cyprus Steal The West’s Premeditated Bank Robbery

By Jeff Nielson 04/01/13

VANCOUVER, Canada (Bullions Bull Canada) — The veils have been removed. The open criminality of Western regimes is now on display for all the world to see. Bank robbery is now official government policy across the West with no debate and no voting.

As was noted in my original commentary on this government-perpetrated crime, it was immediately obvious that this was an entirely staged/scripted event. To fully comprehend the premeditated nature of this crime requires a detailed examination of the chronology.

December 10, 2012:

The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the UK Bank of England jointly release a “position paper” titled “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” Sounds wonderful: “resolving.” They are finally coming up with a plan to put the “Too Big To Fail” fraud factories out of our misery. Wrong.

This document is a blueprint for precisely the opposite: propping up these TBTF monstrosities forever. This manifesto was simply coming up with new “proposals for financing” — i.e. feeding the Beast. And one of these proposals was the “bail-in.”

…[Item 19] The introduction of a statutory bail-in resolution tool (the power to write down or convert into equity the liabilities of a failing firm)… [emphasis mine]

Why was there no rioting in the streets of the U.S. and UK? Why were there no scathing condemnations from our wonderful “free press?” In fact, why did the media not even mention the “bail-in” was now government policy for the U.S. and UK?

And what about our “leaders,” the politicians? Why did not a single one of these stalwarts in the U.S./UK utter so much as a “peep” about bank robbery becoming official government policy in the United States and United Kingdom?

Because when these traitor governments made this their “official policy” they never fully defined what they really meant by “bail-in.” Here is as close as the FDIC/Bank of England come to telling the truth:

…A bail-in tool would enable the U.K. authorities to recapitalize an institution by allocating losses to its shareholders and unsecured creditors…[emphasis mine]

Why were no UK politicians protesting the “bail-in?” Because when the Bank of England spoke of “allocating losses to…unsecured creditors” no one would have dreamed that what this central bank really meant was stealing the money out of peoples’ bank accounts.

It should be noted that while that provision was explicitly designated as applying only to “the U.K. regime” that it can be implicitly understood that it applies to the U.S. as well. While the provisions for “the U.S. regime” do not use the term “bail-in,” here is the vague language which was employed:

…Title II [of the Dodd-Frank Act] requires that the losses of any financial company placed into receivership will not be borne by taxpayers, but by common and preferred stockholders, debt holders, and other unsecured creditors… [emphasis mine]

December 10, 2012:

The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the UK Bank of England jointly release a “position paper” titled “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” Sounds wonderful: “resolving.” They are finally coming up with a plan to put the “Too Big To Fail” fraud factories out of our misery. Wrong.

This document is a blueprint for precisely the opposite: propping up these TBTF monstrosities forever. This manifesto was simply coming up with new “proposals for financing” — i.e. feeding the Beast. And one of these proposals was the “bail-in.”

…[Item 19] The introduction of a statutory bail-in resolution tool (the power to write down or convert into equity the liabilities of a failing firm)… [emphasis mine]

Why was there no rioting in the streets of the U.S. and UK? Why were there no scathing condemnations from our wonderful “free press?” In fact, why did the media not even mention the “bail-in” was now government policy for the U.S. and UK?

And what about our “leaders,” the politicians? Why did not a single one of these stalwarts in the U.S./UK utter so much as a “peep” about bank robbery becoming official government policy in the United States and United Kingdom?

Because when these traitor governments made this their “official policy” they never fully defined what they really meant by “bail-in.” Here is as close as the FDIC/Bank of England come to telling the truth:

…A bail-in tool would enable the U.K. authorities to recapitalize an institution by allocating losses to its shareholders and unsecured creditors…[emphasis mine]

Why were no UK politicians protesting the “bail-in?” Because when the Bank of England spoke of “allocating losses to…unsecured creditors” no one would have dreamed that what this central bank really meant was stealing the money out of peoples’ bank accounts.

It should be noted that while that provision was explicitly designated as applying only to “the U.K. regime” that it can be implicitly understood that it applies to the U.S. as well. While the provisions for “the U.S. regime” do not use the term “bail-in,” here is the vague language which was employed:

…Title II [of the Dodd-Frank Act] requires that the losses of any financial company placed into receivership will not be borne by taxpayers, but by common and preferred stockholders, debt holders, and other unsecured creditors… [emphasis mine]

The official policy of the U.S. government is precisely the same as that of the UK (hence the joint “position paper”). The FDIC simply didn’t articulate its own plans for bank robbery to the same degree. Put another way: There were seven sections detailing how the UK would “resolve” these “systemically important institutions” (but no mention of bank-robbery) versus only two sections for the U.S.

Now we come to the remainder of the chronology, which not only proves that the Cyprus Steal was planned (at least) as far back as December 2012, but that the fix was in: our traitor governments had already reached agreement with the traitor government of Cyprus to perpetrate this crime.

March 15:

The EU banking cabal and its puppet politicians “surprise” the world by announcing a plan to steal money out of the bank accounts of ordinary people in order to “recapitalize” a private bank in Cyprus, while a publicly owned bank would be liquidated and also fed to the private bank. Victimizing the people twice in order to temporarily prop up another reckless/insolvent fraud factory.

As noted previously, this was obviously a proposal intended to fail in this silly, two-act theater. This was proven by the zealous insistence of the European Central Bank that the original proposal must “magnify the hit” on smaller depositors. This would ensure maximum public outrage, and guarantee that the politicians would vote against it.

The ECB is the third member of the Western Troika, along with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. They were solely responsible for the final language of the original proposal; solely responsible for its rejection.

March 19:

Cyprus politicians (government and opposition alike) unanimously reject the “bail-in.” What a surprise!

March 21:

Stephen Harper, leader of Canada’s Conservative government officially tables the 2013 Canadian Budget, which makes the “bail-in” the official law of Canada.

[page 145] The Government proposes to implement a bail-in regime for systemically important banks…

As with the U.S. and UK, the Canadian document contains nothing but weasel-words that never fully define what “bail-in” really means — i.e. robbing peoples’ bank accounts to temporarily prop-up reckless/parasitic banks.

Is Stephen Harper the most stupid politician in the Western world? Two days after the government of Cyprus unanimously rejects bank robbery as a means to “recapitalize banks,” Harper makes this the official law of Canada. Would he really want to go into the next election as “Stephen Harper: Bank Robber of the West” or did Harper know something then, almost no one else knew?

March 25:

The government of Cyprus approves the “new and improved” Cyprus Steal amid reports that the Big Money had already been warned about this bank robbery, and had moved their own money out weeks/months ahead of time.

Now our picture is complete.

We have our traitor governments planning this bank robbery months in advance and warning the big-money oligarchs so they would not be affected. We have them then staging an “emergency.”

The TG’s then tell us that because of this “emergency” they need to instantly raise a lot of money, and so they don’t have time to fairly and systematically “tax” people with some broad, general levy; rather, they “need to” simply seize wealth from a particular group of targeted victims.

This time it was stealing money out of bank accounts. Next time it might be confiscating pensions. The blueprint (i.e. script) is now firmly in place:

  • (Secretly) plan the robbery.
  • Warn the Big Money (so all their wealth is moved to safety).
  • Announce/stage an “emergency.”
  • Perpetrate the theft.

The criminality of the West’s traitor governments is now a matter of record. Their written confessions are contained in official, public documents.

The question then becomes: What will be the response of the Sheep — i.e. the pseudo-citizens of these regimes? Will they simply sit back and submit to a “taxation regime” that has now abandoned even the pretense of legitimacy?

If the answer to that question is “yes” then one can only conclude the Sheep deserve to be robbed. They elect these traitor governments. They continue snoozing when the politicians publicly announce they plan on openly stealing from them. They allow themselves to be robbed.

You can’t help victims who refuse to help themselves.

What about the rest of us, the remaining citizens of these once-legitimate regimes? We have no choice but to protect ourselves — not with guns, but with our brains.

With first “MF Global” and now the Cyprus Steal we have incontrovertible proof that no paper asset is safe in the West. Period.

We must therefore divest ourselves of as much paper as possible, with “physical” gold and silver bullion being the best/safest option. Do not pump every last penny of your wealth into our “bubble” real-estate markets. They are all doomed to suffer major crashes.

Obviously, we will receive no further “warnings” from our governments. Source

 

‘It’s robbery!’ New Cyprus bombshell as Britons are told they may lose EVERYTHING over £85k

  • Bank of Cyprus will see 37.5% of deposits over £85k converted into shares
  • Laiki Bank customers are also reported to be facing the loss of 80%
  • Experts say there is a good chance that shares will be worthless

By Dan Atkinson And Ian Gallagher

March 31 2013

British expats in Cyprus face a near-total wipe-out of any deposits over £85,000 as the full nightmare  of the stricken island’s EU bailout became clear yesterday.

Although it was known that the wealthiest savers would take a  large hit from last week’s €10 billion (£8.5 billion) EU rescue deal, the loss is far greater than feared.

The blow will fall on customers of the country two biggest banks – Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank.

Bank of Cyprus savers will see 37.5 per cent of any deposits over €100,000 (£85,000) converted into shares in the bank, with a strong possibility that these will prove worthless. Another 40 per cent will be repaid only if the bank does well in future, while 22.5 per cent will go into a contingency fund that could be subject to further write-offs.

Laiki Bank customers are also reported to be facing the loss of 80 per cent of their deposits above the £85,000 limit.

An early bailout plan – highlighted by The Mail on Sunday two weeks ago – would have seen the losses shared across all bank customers, regardless of their balance.

However, that plan was voted down by the Cypriot parliament, leaving the country in urgent need of a new solution to raise its €5.8 billion contribution towards the bailout.

The deal – which was clinched last Monday between Cyprus, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund – made clear that richer bank customers would shoulder a much larger bill.

Although it is not known how many of the 60,000 British expats living  on the island have deposits of  more than £85,000, it is likely that a considerable number will be caught in the net.

Neil Hodgson, 48, who moved to Paphos, on the south-west coast of the island, six years ago, said he has lost nearly £200,000. The former farmer, who has two accounts with Bank of Cyprus, added: ‘I had more than €300,000 in my deposit account and €20,000 in my current account. When I went to the bank the other day I was told the total balance for both is €100,000.

‘They were unable to explain how this had been worked out but indicated I might get some back at a later stage.

‘I checked online and it confirmed that the €20,000 in my current account remains, but that I only have €80,000 in my savings account. It’s robbery, plain and simple.’

Laiki Bank customers are also reported to be facing the loss of 80 per cent of their deposits above the £85,000 limit

Banks in Cyprus are open for normal business but with strict restrictions on how much money their clients can access, after being shut for nearly two weeks

Mr Hodgson, from Newcastle upon Tyne, whose wife died two years ago, said he moved to Cyprus believing he was destined for a ‘happy life of semi-retirement’.

‘Our farm in Ayrshire was bought by a mining company and I came into a lot of money,’ he added. ‘We moved to Cyprus for the sunshine and easy life but it has turned into  a nightmare.

‘My big mistake was to move all my money here, but at the time things were very stable. Most of  the Brits here had the foresight to move their money in the last few months, but I genuinely thought it would be OK. I’m not sure what the future holds now.’

The Treasury has said it will  compensate any of the 3,000 British Service personnel facing losses.
Those hit hardest include thousands of wealthy Russians who  have deposited millions of euros on the stricken island. Peter Dixon, strategist at European bank Commerzbank, said: ‘These suggested new sacrifices being demanded of better-off depositors sound even worse than we assumed.

‘The problems in Cyprus are twofold. First, the central bank ignored the huge build-up of debt. There was a problem of mismanagement.

‘Secondly, the Cypriots essentially imposed these tough solutions on themselves and the eurozone rubber-stamped them.’

Last week markets took fright at suggestions that the Cyprus model could be a blueprint for future  bailouts elsewhere in Europe.

Those with less than £85,000 in the bank have also seen themselves hit by the bailout. Temporary capital controls have been imposed to stop residents taking cash off the island, including capping cash machine withdrawals at €300 a day.

At the same time, businesses have been told they will be unable to transfer more than €5,000 abroad without approval, while no one, including tourists, can leave the island with over €1,000 in cash.

Meanwhile, the spotlight has now swung to Slovenia, another small member of the single currency in which investors are losing faith.

Last week, the price it had to pay to borrow money jumped sharply as markets began to take account of the risk that the country may default on its debts. However, on Friday, finance minister Uros Cufer insisted: ‘We will need no bailout this year. I am calm.’

 

Dan Atkinson: How the euro turned into the biggest theft in history

For a currency that promised to provide a sure bet on a glorious future, the euro is turning into the biggest theft of people’s savings in Western Europe since the war.

Greece, Ireland, Portugal  and Spain were among the first  to be crushed by the fallacy of  a one-size-fits-all currency.  Now it is Cyprus’s turn, and the scale of losses for some savers  is eye-watering.

Last week, the latest Cypriot bailout proposals hinted at a 40 per cent levy on all deposits of more than €100,000, or £85,000. This weekend, it emerged that the true cost for those better-off depositors could be much closer  to 80 per cent. British expats feature prominently among those who will suffer from an effective confiscation of their assets.

Claims that the victims are shady Russian oligarchs have  a nasty whiff to them, and even  if some of the cash that will be taken is of doubtful provenance, that cannot justify the burden now being placed on the tiny island economy.

Smaller savers may not have been hit by a levy on their bank accounts, but they will be swept up in the economic storm that is sure to descend  on Cyprus as a result of such draconian measures.

It’s tempting to wonder why any troubled eurozone country like Cyprus was ever let into what was obviously a rich man’s club.

But that is unfair – the poorer members were welcomed with open arms, with the assurance that the euro would turn them into German-style economic titans. It was like persuading  a pauper to join a casino.

Yes, Cyprus let its banking sector balloon wildly and, yes, it is the Cypriot government that has dreamt up some of the more masochistic features of the various bailout plans.

But all this human sacrifice in the eurozone – austerity, mass unemployment, arbitrary bank account levies – is about saving the euro. You wonder how much pain there has to be before someone realises that what must be sacrificed is the euro itself. Source

Morici: The Insanity of the Cyprus Crisis

By Peter Morici 03/28/13

NEW YORK Cyprus did not manufacture its banking crisis. The European Central Bank and European Union bear that responsibility. Yet, Cypriots will pay the price for their dysfunctions.

Until recently, Cyprus was a prosperous island economy with robust tourism, shipping and a significant international banking sector. Its big banks, like others in Europe, attracted large overseas deposits and invested heavily in sovereign debt. In Cyprus, much of the money came from Russia and was invested in Greek bonds.

Like the United States, the large banks are subject to stress tests but with an important distinction. The Federal Reserve is responsible both for undertaking those tests and sustaining the operation and protecting depositors of large money center banks in a crisis. During the recent financial meltdown, the Federal Reserve printed billions of dollars to purchase souring bonds and the U.S. Treasury borrowed to inject new capital into large banks when their mortgage-backed securities failed.

In the eurozone, the European Banking Authority undertakes those stress tests, and in 2010 and 2011 — well aware of their considerable holdings in Greek bonds — determined Cypriot banks had plenty of capital to withstand a financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Greece was in the throes of a financial crisis. In February 2012, the European Central Bank and European Union, along with the International Monetary Fund, imposed a 53.5% haircut on all private bondholders — for all practical purposes, that sunk the large Cypriot banks and manufactured their crisis.

Unlike the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank lacks the authority to print money to rescue failing banks. European Banking Authority is an arm of the European Union, which lacks the borrowing authority of the U.S. Treasury and the taxing capacity to back up bonds. Hence neither the ECB nor EU is in a position to bail out the Cypriot banks without substantial contributions and consent from the largest and healthiest European economy, Germany.

Germany might be willing to extend ECB the authority to print money and the EU to borrow and tax to save banks in Frankfurt but not in Cyprus or just about anyplace outside Germany. Domestic politics prevent the German government from borrowing and taxing to bail out other troubled European banks and governments without extracting a high price from private actors. In Greece, those were private bondholders, which included banks spread throughout Europe but most heavily those in Cyprus.

Simply, Cypriot banks hardly have enough capital to cover their losses on Greek sovereign debt, and their economy is too small to afford the Cypriot government the borrowing and taxing capacity to rescue them.

In exchange for 10 billion euros in aid, the ECB and EU are demanding that Cypriot banks be downsized — banking in Cyprus can be no larger than the average for the entire European Union. Moreover, under eurozone rules, championed by Germany, austerity — cuts in government spending and strict limits on deficits — will be required.

In Cyprus, the loss of international banking will impose double-digit unemployment of perhaps as high as 20% because this small island economy cannot devalue its currency to attract new investment, as Iceland did after its crisis. Most laid-off workers, whose native tongue is generally Greek, have few employment options elsewhere in Europe.

Thanks to a crisis manufactured by the European Central Bank and European Union, with the help of the International Monetary Fund, Cyprus will join Spain, Portugal and Greece in a permanent recession.

Spain suffered a similar banking crisis premised on foreign money inflows and real estate loans and similar problems engineering a recovery. The contrast between Spain and Cyprus, which are locked into the euro, and Iceland, which has its own currency and recovered, plainly illustrates the euro does not make sense for these economies.

Germany’s prescription for all these economies is austerity. Observing failed experiences with those policies across the Mediterranean recalls the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

The bailout terms and prescriptions for restructuring imposed on Cyprus are nothing short of insane, and the only sane course would be for Cyprus and the other Club Med states to negotiate an orderly withdrawal from the euro. Source

The Great Cyprus Bank Robbery

Ron Paul

After Cyprus, the EU’s Attention Turns to Tiny Luxembourg

By Peter Coy

March 29, 2013

It’s getting hot in Luxembourg, a nation that’s something like Cyprus on steroids. Its population is smaller and its banking sector is bigger. If you thought it was risky for banks in Cyprus to have assets about eight times the national gross domestic product, then what is one to make of Luxembourg, where the multiple is nearly 23?

Worryingly for Luxembourg, there’s a new idea afloat that European Union nations, even small ones, should take responsibility for saving banks operating within their borders, instead of falling back on the EU for help. This week, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is president of the euro zone group of finance ministers, had tough words for the likes of Luxembourg and Malta in a joint Reuters-Financial Times interview:

Deal with it before you get in trouble. Strengthen your banks, fix your balance sheets, and realize that if a bank gets in trouble, the response will no longer automatically be: We’ll come and take away your problems. We’re going to push them back. That’s the first response that we need. Push them back. You deal with them.

Dijsselbloem later said that he did not intend to say that the original Cyprus plan to tax depositors of Cypriot banks should be a template for other bailouts.

Seemingly in response, the government of Luxembourg warned that the European Union risks hurting financial stability if it moves to isolate banking systems within national borders. “Luxembourg will therefore not adhere to policies that intend to renationalize elements of the single market,” the government said in an e-mailed statement, according to Bloomberg News.

In a March 27 statement, (PDF) the Luxembourg government said it is “concerned about recent statements and declarations” on financial systems and the “alleged risks” of over-dependence on banks. It pointed to the “very high solvency ratios” of the mostly international banks, insurers, and asset managers operating on Luxembourg soil.

Luxembourg has a population of about 520,000 people, making it no bigger than Albuquerque, N.M. It relied on financial services for 23.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2011, the highest proportion in Europe, according to the European Union’s statistics office. The figure for Cyprus was 8.9 percent. Assets of its banks are nearly 23 times as big as the national gross domestic product. That compares with a little over eight for Cyprus. Still, Luxembourg’s banks are far healthier than those of Cyprus, which were overexposed to Greece.

There’s no realistic way for Luxembourg to rescue its banking sector if serious trouble develops. That’s why for Luxembourg, shoring up the commitment to shared responsibility for bank bailouts is a matter of life and death. Source

 

European Austerity Costing Lives:

As the euro crisis wears on, the tough austerity measures implemented in ailing member states are resulting in serious health issues, a study revealed on Wednesday. Mental illness, suicide rates and epidemics are on the rise, while access to care has dwindled. Source

 

Financial Wars:

Attack is the Best Form of Defence

By Alexander GOROKHOV

The US has been using its best endeavours to create a Free Trade Zone with the European Union with a view to finally removing the remaining barriers to the penetration of American capital into Europe and, after engineering the collapse of the euro, to buy up Europe’s tastiest morsels using vastly inflated dollars under the pretext of saving the EU’s economy.Source

The criminals are protected and everyone else pays.

Believe me when I say no one wants to live in a Free Trade Zone.

 

Published in: on April 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm  Comments Off on Cyprus Banks steal Depositors money  
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Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority Discovery “Something was Missing”

This is a rather weird story. All the talk about horse meat has been going on for some time. Consumer’s being lied to, is bad thing. This story, however stuck me as rather funny.

Of all the things one might find, this was just not what one would expect. I just have to share it. Maybe others will find it amusing as well.  Food for thought. What is in our FOOD? Maybe what isn’t could be important as well.

Congratulations to those who found the problem. They didn’t find what they were looking for, but they certainly did find a problem.

So for all my followers, the next time you pick up a fork to dig into your food, you could be doing a bit of wondering. How many other companies might do this, to boost their profits?  It’s a big world.

The tests carried out by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) had a surprising result: there was no beef in the Icelandic beef pies tested, despite being labeled as containing 30 percent beef.

Magnús Nielsson, co-owner of Gæðakokkar in Borgarnes, the company which produces the brand of pies, told mbl.is that he is dumbfounded.

On visir.is he was quoted as stating that, the testing must have been inaccurate as his company buys prime beef from SS and use beef stock to make them.

Magnús, however, admits that they have stopped mixing beef with lamb, when making their Italian lamb mince meatballs and that the labeling, stating that there is also beef in the product, needs to be updated.

Kjartan Hreinsson at MAST told ruv.is that the latest equipment and strictest standards are used in the testing and the results are repeated if there is the slightest doubt in accuracy.

As reported last week, the results from the testing of 16 Icelandic products carried by different stores in the country found that they did not contain any horse meat, but only beef and lamb, as stated on the labels.

MAST has since been examining the samples closer regarding their ingredients and labeling. Source

Recent

UK police in Hot Water

Forced Birthcontrol

Historic Case Against the BBC’s Cover Up of 9/11 Evidence

Nuclear Dump in Washington Leaking Radioactive Waste

US going from Police State, To Military State

U.S. meningitis cases rise to 64

Update
Fungal meningitis causes more deaths in U.S.
New Jersey 10th state to report an illness
Oct 10, 2012

CDC: Multistate Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

The number of Americans sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has now reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count on Tuesday.

New Jersey is the 10th state to report at least one illness. The other states involved in the outbreak are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.

Officials have tied the outbreak of rare fungal meningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. At least one contaminated vial was found at the company.

The company recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, and later recalled everything it makes. Source

Seven die from outbreak after getting back pain shots

Oct 6, 2012

External Links

CDC: Multistate Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

U.S. health officials say the death toll in a rare fungal meningitis outbreak across several states has risen to seven as the outbreak has spread to more than 60 people.

In updated figures posted to its website Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak has is now in nine states. The latest cases have been confirmed in Minnesota and Ohio. And, the number deaths has gone up from five to seven.

Health officials have been busy identifying the medical clinics across the country that received steroid shots for back pain now linked to the illnesses.

Authorities took the step to help identify everyone who may have gotten sick — or may still get sick — in the outbreak.

“All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately,” said Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate antifungal therapy, lives may be saved,” he said in a statement.

The CDC said the number of cases of the rare fungal meningitis reached 64 cases as of Saturday afternoon. According to the CDC’s website, the number of infections and deaths according to state is as follows:

  • Florida: 4 cases
  • Indiana: 5 cases
  • Maryland: 3 cases, including 1 death
  • Michigan: 8 cases, including 2 deaths
  • Minnesota: 1 case
  • North Carolina: 2 cases
  • Ohio: 1 case
  • Tennessee: 29 cases, including 3 deaths
  • Virginia: 11 cases, including 1 death

Investigators have focused on a fungal meningitis made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. All the outbreak patients had gotten shots of the steroid for back pain, a common treatment, and inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus.

On Friday, officials said they have found fungal infections in nine sick patients. They weren’t able to identify what types of fungus in every one of those patients, but did distinguish at least two types — Aspergillus and Exserohilum.

The first known case in the meningitis outbreak was diagnosed about two weeks ago in Tennessee, and the steroid was recalled last week by the pharmacy, New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

Steriod used in 75 facilities in 23 states

About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid were covered in the recall. On Friday, the government released the names of about 75 facilities in 23 states that got recalled doses between July and September.

It’s not clear how many were sent to clinics, how many were used, or even whether everyone who got one will get sick. Once infected, it can take as long as a month for symptoms to appear.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

At the prompting of government officials, clinics are notifying all the patients who got shots from the recalled lots.

“There’s a massive effort to contact all the patients,” said Marsha Thiel, the chief executive officer of MAPS, a company that owns surgery center clinics in Minnesota.

She added, “If there’s any question at all, they’re being directed to go to their physician.”

As a precaution, the Food and Drug Administration urged doctors not to use any of the company’s products, and released a list Friday that included other steroids, anesthetics and a blood pressure medicine. The company, which is now closed, said in a statement Thursday that despite the FDA warning, “there is no indication of any potential issues with other products.”

The steroid is known as preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, which the compounding pharmacy creates by combining a powder with a liquid.

There are FDA-approved versions of the drug, sold by the brand name Depo-Medrol, in good supply. So patients who need the medicine should not encounter a shortage, the FDA said Friday.

Most of the anxiety now involves patients who got steroid shots for back pain and are worried about becoming seriously ill.

“Our phone is ringing off the hook this morning. Patients are calling. Of course, they’re concerned,” said Paulette Fry, practice manager at Wellspring Pain Solutions in Columbus, Ind., about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. She said the clinic was sending out letters to about 300 patients who received spinal injections with the drug.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common forms. The types of fungus linked to the outbreak are all around, but very rarely causes illness. Fungal meningitis is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital. Source

UN’s World Food Programme, to buy fish from Japan, to feed school children, in poor countries

A year on from Fukushima, Japan is struggling to convince consumers that fish from contaminated areas is safe. With new limits imposed on radioactive substances in food, the government is sending canned fish to developing countries to feed children.

­A year on from Fukushima, Japan is struggling to convince consumers that fish from contaminated areas is safe. With new limits imposed on radioactive substances in food, the government is sending canned fish to developing countries to feed children.

As of April 1, 2012, the ceiling on radioactive Cesium in food has been lowered from 500 becquerels per kilogram to 100. With stricter regulations in place, authorities in the Tohoku and Kanto regions said Friday they are ready to increase the number of food tests to win the trust of consumers.

The food aid program will be carried out jointly by the Japanese government, Britain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), reports Sankei Shibun news website.

Last week, the Japanese government exchanged letters with WFP so that processed marine products made in the areas affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami could be used as food aid for people in developing countries. The program is specifically designed for fisheries from the disaster-affected areas, so that they could eliminate “reputational damage” caused by consumer fears.

According to Sankei Shibun, canned fish from Tohoku region will be shipped to five developing countries and used to feed schoolchildren. Five recipient countries are discussed, however, the only one named is Cambodia.

One billion yen’s (that’s just over 12 million dollars’) worth of canned sardines and mackerel will be purchased by WPF from factories in Aomori, Iwate, Ibaraki, and Chiba Prefectures. The money was allocated to WPF in 2011 by Japanese government. Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Toshiyuki Kato in the ceremony of exchanging letters said that “fish processing companies in the disaster area were severely damaged, however, they are making an effort towards resuming full operation”.

Not everyone supports the ODA initiative. Several citizens’ groups have opposed the move, saying that they do not trust the safety of food that comes from disaster-affected areas. Top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs brushed off the doubts, saying all necessary radiation tests will be taken and only those products that do no raise any concerns will be exported. Source

Cesium is not the only radiaocative thing in the fish. Giveing this to children is the worst possible senerio. Children are the most vunerable when it comes to radiation.

Radiation has harmful effects on child development.

In Japan: The standard is 40 becquerels or less per kilogram for radioactive substances contained in the lunches, and will essentially be used as a regulation threshold. Source

Well seems the regulations in Japan are one thing, but for poor people in another country it is different.

This fellow explains the different types of Radiation.

Video Gundersen Discusses Various Types of Radiation Experienced at Fukushima

Gamma, Beta and Alpha radiation

Radiation (from here, we will use the word ‘radiation’, to mean nuclear radiation) can destroy molecules, including the molecules in our bodies. When DNA-molecules in our cells are destroyed, this creates a run a risk of developing cancer. Radiation is therefore called carcinogenic: it causes cancer. The specific problem with radiation, compared to other carcinogenic substances (i.e. chemical etc.) is that there is no ‘safe dose’ below which there is no effect.


 

Basics of Radiation

Understanding Radiation:
Becquerels and Sieverts

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Federal Judge: FDA Must Act to Stem Antibiotics Overuse in Animal Feed

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Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm  Comments Off on UN’s World Food Programme, to buy fish from Japan, to feed school children, in poor countries  
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Federal Judge: FDA Must Act to Stem Antibiotics Overuse in Animal Feed


Public Health Victory: FDA Must Act to Stem Antibiotics Overuse in Animal Feed

NRDC: “The rise of superbugs that we see now was predicted by FDA in the 70’s”

By  Common Dreams staff
March 23, 2012

Yesterday a federal judge in New York ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act on the growing human health threats caused by the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed.

The FDA had started proceedings in 1977 over concerns that antibiotics, including commonly used tetracyclines and penicillin, could promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people, but the proceedings were never completed, leaving the use of the antibiotics appoved.

If the makers of the drugs can’t provide evidence that their use is safe, the FDA must withdraw their approval, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ruled yesterday.

Roughly 70% of all U.S. antibiotics are used for livestock.

The decision results from a lawsuit filed last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Margaret Mellon, senior scientist with UCS’s Food & Environment Program, stated, “This ruling is an important victory for public health.”

“The rise of superbugs that we see now was predicted by FDA in the 70’s,” said NRDC attorney Jen Sorenson. “Thanks to the Court’s order, drug manufacturers will finally have to do what FDA should have made them do 35 years ago: prove that their drugs are safe for human health, or take them off the market.”

* * *

Union of Concerned Scientists: Judge Rules FDA Must Act to Protect Americans from Overuse of Antibiotics in Livestock
Statement by Margaret Mellon, senior scientist with UCS’s Food & Environment Program:

“This ruling is an important victory for public health. The FDA has known since the 1970s that the routine use of powerful antibiotics in livestock leads to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which cause infections that are more difficult to treat in both people and animals.

“For the past 35 years, while advocates and citizens alike have been urging FDA to take action, the problem has steadily worsened and FDA has sat on its hands, which begs the question of whose interests the agency is protecting.

“This ruling changes the landscape at FDA, making it clear that the agency has a statutory obligation to use its legal authority to cancel the approvals for uses of veterinary drugs the agency has found to be unsafe. The ruling calls into question policies that rely on companies to voluntarily withdraw label claims.

“The glacial pace of the FDA response on animal antibiotics is unacceptable. The agency needs to curb the unnecessary uses of vital antibiotics in animal agriculture. Peoples’ lives depend on it.”

* * *

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): Court Orders FDA to Address Antibiotic Overuse in Livestock and Protect Effectiveness of Medicine for Humans

NEW YORK – March 23 – The Food and Drug Administration must act to address the growing human health threats resulting from the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed, according to a federal court ruling issued last night. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) last year.

“For over 35 years ago, FDA has sat idly on the sidelines largely letting the livestock industry police itself,” said Avinash Kar, NRDC health attorney. “In that time, the overuse of antibiotics in healthy animals has skyrocketed – contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that endanger human health. Today, we take a long overdue step toward ensuring that we preserve these life-saving medicines for those who need them most – people.

“These drugs are intended to cure disease, not fatten pigs and chickens,” Kar said.

* * *

In February, David Wallinga, M.D., of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy gave a TEDX talk “Raising Pigs & Problems: Saying No to Antibiotics in Animal Feed.”
Physician, writer and full-time advocate, David Wallinga, M.D., represents the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) as a de facto doctor to the nation’s ailing food system. Through his work, Dr. Wallinga sheds a spotlight- and a public health lens- on the less savory side of the food system, like mercury in high fructose corn syrup, or arsenic being fed to chickens and turkeys. His 2010 essay on farm policy and the obesity epidemic in Health Affairs helped launch unprecedented interest in the health of the 2012 Farm Bill; subsequently, dozens of the nation’s medical and public luminaries have signed onto IATP’s Charter for a Healthy Farm Bill . Dr. Wallinga has also served as the only physician on the steering committee of Keep Antibiotics Working : The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse since 2000.  Source


More information at http://www.tedxmanhattan.org

Factory Farming is the cause, for the use of Antibiotics.

There a number of videos on Factory Farming in the link  below. One should see how animals are treated. Not a pretty sight. Very cruel.

McDonald’s drops U.S. egg supplier over ‘disturbing’ animal-cruelty video

This also happens to the animals. Be sure to check it out.

Side affects of Antibiotics in Humans

Antibiotics also kill all bacteria, even the Frendly Bacterisa

This of course would also happen to all animals fed Antibiotics in their food.

Antibiotics, one of the wonder drugs of the 20th century, have helped overcome many diseases that previously may have resulted in death or disablement. However, we now know that antibiotics have limitations and their use and misuse has frequently led to ill health. There are a number of bacteria that have developed partial or total resistance to some antibiotics. Furthermore, broad-spectrum antibiotics don’t distinguish between “bad” and “good” bacteria. They kill the probiotics along with the bad bacteria and this may be one of the worst side effects of using antibiotics. The pathogenic bacteria will invade the digestive tract and multiplies in high numbers. This disturbs the delicate balance between the good, beneficial probiotics and bad bacteria.

Probiotics not only collectively provide profound health benefits, such as vastly improved digestion and nutrient absorption, but probiotics also provide superior protection against the invasion of foreign pathogens and other infectious agents.

  • improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • dramatically improve human immune function.
  • protect against invasion of foreign pathogens and other infectious agents and enhance the immune system’s ability to fight infections;
  • provide a main source of Vitamin K;
  • lower cholesterol by metabolizing it;
  • control bowel toxicity and decrease the risk of bowel cancer; and
  • reduce gas production by non-disease-producing microorganisms.
  • protect the body from the potentially devastating effects of accumulated toxins and carcinogenic substances.
  • produce short chain fatty adds that are converted into energy.
  • help protect against unhealthy cholesterol buildup that could lead to cardiovascular disease and even death.

There are negative effects resulting from loss of probiotics:

  • Loss of probiotics lead to the overgrowth of detrimental, disease-causing bacteria & yeasts e.g. Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Clostridium dificile, Yersinia enterocolitica, etc
  • Loss of probiotics contribute to digestive problems such as leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease, diverticulitis etc
  • Loss of probiotics allow specific detrimental bacteria to thrive that have been proven to cause severe health problems. E.g. E. Coli may lead to problems with insulin and blood sugar function. Yersinia enterocolitica, a pathogenic bacterium, produces substances that cause the over-production of the thyroid hormone. This detrimental bacterium, reportedly, contributes to autoimmune diseases.
  • Loss Of probiotics lead to the production of endotoxins in the digestive tract, which contributes to conditions like lupus erythematosus, pancreatitis, psoriasis and other skin conditions
  • Loss of probiotics allow entry of partially digested proteins to the bloodstream contributing to eczema, nervous system disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other immune system disorders  Source

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Florida says NO to Private Prisons

Florida Lawmakers Defeat Prison Privatization amid National Push for For-Profit Jails

The Florida State Senate has defeated a measure to privatize at least 27 prisons, which would have created the largest corporate-run prison system in the country. Despite the vote, Republican Gov. Rick Scott could still privatize the prisons through executive authority. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of prisoners being added to privately run jails is outpacing the overall prison population by 17 percent compared to 4 percent. The nation’s largest operator of for-profit prisons, Corrections Corporation of America, recently sent letters to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons in exchange for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least at 90 percent capacity. We discuss prison privatization with two guests: Florida Republican State Senator Mike Fasano, who led the charge against the bill to handover South Florida’s state prisons to private companies, and ACLU of Ohio spokesperson Mike Brickner, co-author of the report, “Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization.” [includes rush transcript]

Guests:

State Senator Mike Fasano, Florida Republican who led the charge against the bill to hand over South Florida’s state prisons to private companies.

Mike Brickner, communications and public policy director at ACLU of Ohio. He co-authored the report “Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization.”

 

Rush Transcript


 

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Florida State Senate has defeated a measure to privatize at least 27 prisons, which would have created the largest corporate-run prison system in the country. Despite the vote, Republican Governor Rick Scott could still privatize the prisons through executive authority. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of prisoners being added to privately run jails is outpacing the overall prison population by 17 percent compared to 4 percent.

Meanwhile, the nation’s largest operator of for-profit prisons recently sent letters to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons. In exchange, Corrections Corporation of America is asking for 20-year management contracts, plus an assurance that the prisons would remain at least at 90 percent capacity. A CCA spokesperson touted prison privatization as a cost-saving initiative.

CCA SPOKESPERSON: This company, CCA, we are the leader and the largest in the world, as far as private prisons and jails. We’re highly rated in the stock market. It hones your ability to do it less expensively, because we have to earn a profit.

AMY GOODMAN: Corrections Corporation of America has been a swiftly growing business, with revenues expanding more than fivefold since the mid-’90s.

Well, for more, we’re joined now by two guests. On the phone, we’re joined by Florida Republican State Senator Mike Fasano. He led the charge against the bill to hand over South Florida’s state prisons to private companies. And in Cleveland, Ohio, we’re joined by the ACLU of Ohio’s spokesperson, Mike Brickner, co-authored a report called “Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization.”

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! State Senator Mike Fasano, let’s begin with you. Why did you oppose this measure in Florida?

STATE SEN. MIKE FASANO: Well, first and foremost, I’m a true believer, as many of my colleagues are, that you don’t privatize public safety. You do not put, in my opinion, public safety in the hands of private corporations to make a profit.

Secondly, it is my belief that you do not put hardworking men and women, like our correctional officers and their families, out of work. We have a 10 percent-plus unemployment rate in the state of Florida, and the last thing we should be doing is moving prisons that were paid for by the taxpayers into the hands of corporations, that would probably put many of these families out of work, who have mortgages to pay, homeowner’s insurance to pay, food on the table. This would be devastating to—not only to their families, but also to the community they live in.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Senator Fasano, you suffered repercussions from your own party as a result of your leading this fight, this successful fight. What happened?

STATE SEN. MIKE FASANO: Well, it wasn’t the party per se. It was the president of the Senate, Mike Haridopolos, that pushed this issue for the last year and a half since he’s been president of the Senate. I had made it clear last year, when he made me chairman, appointed me chairman of the committee that oversaw the Department of Corrections budget, that I could not support the expansion of privatization of our prison system in the state of Florida. He removed me from that position.

The good thing is that the vote that killed the bill that would expand the privatization in Florida was a bipartisan vote. We had 10 Republicans that joined 12 Democrats to defeat the bill 21 to 19 this past week.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response, State Senator Fasano, to your governor, Rick Scott, who talked about his support of efforts to privatize the prisons of South Florida.

GOV. RICK SCOTT: What the bill says is that if we don’t save at least 7 percent, we don’t do prison privatization. But why wouldn’t we put ourselves in a position that, if we can save money, to put the money in the programs that we know we need to fund, whether that’s education or whether that’s Medicaid or any of our other programs—why wouldn’t we—why wouldn’t we take this opportunity to save the money? So, I’m hopeful that the House and Senate will approve it, because it’s the most logical way to save some money.

AMY GOODMAN: State Senator Fasano, could Republican Governor Rick Scott still privatize the prisons through executive authority? And your response to his saying this is how we could save money?

STATE SEN. MIKE FASANO: Well, it’s my understanding that he can, that he can and does have the ability, through statute, to privatize prisons. To the extent that this legislation would have allowed it, I’m not sure about that. But that’s why I asked for a study. The original amendment that I had on the bill, before we killed the bill, was to—would have required an in-depth study, economic study, to find out if there’s true savings there, but also to find out if—by privatizing, does it impact of our correctional officers, their community, and the economy of the state of Florida as a whole?

You know, they keep saying that—and the Governor refers to this 7 percent savings. I’ve not seen it. I used a perfect example on—during our debate, when we stopped the bill from moving forward. We talked about per diem. I used a public facility versus a private facility that was similar, comparable, and yet the public facility run by the state, the per diem per day was about $10 less than what the private company is charging the taxpayers. So I respectfully disagree with Governor Scott.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Mike Brickner of the ACLU in Ohio, you’ve been studying the privatization of prisons. What about this issue that they’re cheaper, and what are some of the other problems that you’ve seen in your studies?

MIKE BRICKNER: Well, I think, first of all, it is the great myth that private prisons will provide any type of cost savings. Here in Ohio, we have—by statute, they’re required to save at least 5 percent. But there have been multiple studies that have shown that they did not save 5 percent. And in some years that we’ve had private prisons here in our state, they actually cost more than public prisons. And other states like Arizona have found that, as well. So, really, they don’t save much money at all.

We’re concerned on a number of different issues. Here in Ohio, we’ve had a very spotty past as far as safety with private prisons. Back in 1999, we had a private prison, a federal penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio, and within 14 months of it being opened, there were 13 stabbings, two murders and six escapes. It got so bad that the city of Youngstown had to sue to close down the private prison and have them comply with their safety concerns. So, what we saw was, eventually, they had to comply with the safety concerns, and once they did that, it was no longer profitable for them to remain open.

The main way that they save money with the private prisons is that they cut staff benefits and pay. That means that they have less experience, less knowledgeable staff. That leads to higher turnover. And then they are not equipped to deal with the issues that occur when there is a riot or violence in a prison. And then we see an uptick in safety issues. Studies have shown, at similarly security-level prisons, private prisons have a 50 percent higher inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assault ratio than public prisons do.

AMY GOODMAN: State Senator Mike Fasano in Florida, who are the forces behind the push for privatization? How much money is involved here, and who’s getting it?

Ah, it looks like we just lost State Senator Mike Fasano. We’re going to go for a moment, if we can—we may have lost also Mike Brickner at the ACLU of Ohio, speaking to us from Cleveland.

The “Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization,” your report—were you surprised by this letter that went out from the CCA? Talk about the significance of this and the push around the country in this election year.

Ah, I think he isn’t able to hear us, so we’re going to leave it there. We’re going to link to Mike Brickner’s report

with the ACLU of Ohio, called “Prisons for Profit.” And I want to thank Florida Republican State Senator Mike Fasano for being with us from Florida. Source

Some politicians get a lot of money from the private prison folks. They line their pockets and the people get shafted.

Also on this topic

The Prison Industry in the United States Costs Taxpayers Billions

 

Published in: on February 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm  Comments Off on Florida says NO to Private Prisons  
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The Prison Industry in the United States Costs Taxpayers Billions

 

Just added February 18 2012

The actually cost more and are more of a danger to the public.

A couple of thing from report.

A 1992 study by the New

Mexico Corrections Department showed that guards at a private CCA-run women’s correctional facility were pressured to issue disciplinary infractions to inmates that resulted in prolonging their incarceration out of a desire on the part of CCA executives to maximize quarterly dividends.

Prison-for-profit inmates were more likely to report a lack of structure in their day. The difference stems from the fact that public prisons force its inmates to participate in rehabilitation activities while the prisonfor- profit does little to promote these programs. another benefit to the private prison industry, because rehabilitated offenders do not fill private prison beds and therefore do not generate profits.

There fore private prison promote prisons to re-offend costing tax payer more money in the end.

Sometimes private prison operators are so greedy for revenue-generating human beings to fill their cells that they bribe judges to sentence children to serious jail time for the most minor and trivial of offenses.

The IRS sued CCA in 2002 after its audit of the company suggested it was abusing tax loopholes to avoid paying its share of federal taxes.

Some do not even pay their taxes. So they have to be sued to get them to pay them which cost tax payer more money.

Privatizing prisons remove responsibility from the state’s elected representatives and makes it more difficult for the facilities to be held accountable by the public.

Less Guards  working for less money caused safety issues for the guards, who are also not well trained either.

Not mentioned in the report.

There is also a job lose issue which was not mentioned. There are fewer Guards per capita working in private prisons then in state run ones. Privatization caused job losses.

The less people working the less income tax that is paid. The smaller wages also mean those guards are paying less taxes as well.

There is much more to read ans everyone should understand what has been happening so read the report and be informed.

A report of the Privatization of Prisons in the US

 

So lets start with a report from 2008.

There were only 2 million prisoners then.

The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

by Vicky Pelaez

March 10, 2008

El Diario-La Prensa, New York

Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP

According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:

. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.

. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.

. Longer sentences.

. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.

. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.

. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.

HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.

During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. “Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex,” comments the Left Business Observer.

Who is investing? At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

[Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”

PRIVATE PRISONS

The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.

IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES

Profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, the CCA signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits. According to a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly magazine article, this program was backed by investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state’s governor, Ann Richards, followed the example of Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into private prison profits.

After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering “rent-a-cell” services in the CCA prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.

STATISTICS

Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness. Source

Billions Behind Bars – Inside America’s Prison Industry Part 1-3

Billions Behind Bars – Inside America’s Prison Industry Part 2-3

Billions Behind Bars – Inside America’s Prison Industry Part 3-3

The links below may explain why there are many innocent people in Jail.

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We fabricated drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas, former NYPD detective testifies

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Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the U.S. Criminal Justice System -Prison Corruption

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Powell receives 18-month sentence in prison corruption case

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Judge: Guerra can’t re-indict

The Nov. 17 indictments that a grand jury returned charged Cheney and Gonzales with profiting from private prisons, neglecting conditions and stopping inquiries into assaults/

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From December 2006 7,000 a Year Die in U.S. Prisons

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In 2009:  People

  • On Probation 4,203,967
  • On Parole 819,308
  • In Jail  760,400
  • In Prison 1,524,513

Grand Total  7,225,800

In 2001

  • The average annual operating cost per state inmate in 2001 was $22,650, or $62.05 per day; among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it was $22,632 per inmate, or $62.01 per day.
  • In 2001 the average annual cost for state prisons per U.S. resident was $204, up from $49 in 1986.

Executions during 2009   52

Executions during  2010 46

Number of prisoners under sentence of death   3,173

Source

  • One out of 100 American adults are behind bars
  • One out of 32 Americans are on probation, parole or in prison.

This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spends about $74 billion a year on corrections.

I tried to find the cost of the average trial, but couldn’t find much information on it. I imagine it would be  a lot.


From 2002 I did find this on Death Penalty Trials

Counties Struggle With High Cost
Of Prosecuting Death-Penalty Cases

January 9, 2002

By RUSSELL GOLD

When a Utah police chief was shot to death in July after responding to a call about a domestic dispute, tiny Uintah County’s decision to seek the death penalty was easy. “It was a law-enforcement officer in the line of duty,” says county attorney JoAnn Stringham.

Now comes the hard part: paying for the trial. So far, the county hopes to avoid raising taxes on its 25,959 citizens by spreading the as-yet undetermined costs over three fiscal years.

Other counties haven’t been as lucky. Jasper County, Texas, ran up a huge bill seeking a capital-murder conviction of three men accused of killing James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death in a 1998 case that attracted national attention. (Two were sentenced to death; the third got life in prison.) The cost — $1.02 million to date, with other expenses expected — has strained the county’s $10 million annual budget, forcing a 6.7% increase in property taxes over two years to pay for the trial. County auditor Jonetta Nash says only a massive flood that wiped out roads and bridges in the late 1970s came close to the fiscal impact of the trial.

As a growing number of local governments are discovering, there is often a new twist on an old saying: Nothing is certain except the death penalty and higher taxes.

Just prosecuting a capital crime can cost an average of $200,000 to $300,000, according to a conservative estimate by the Texas Office of Court Administration. Add indigent-defense lawyers, an almost-automatic appeal and a trial transcript, and death-penalty cases can easily cost many times that amount.

The cost, county officials say, can be an unexpected and severe budgetary shock — much like a natural disaster, but without any federal relief to ease the strain. To pay up, counties must raise taxes, cut services, or both.

In research published last summer, Dartmouth College economist Katherine Baicker found that counties that bring a death-penalty case had a tax rate 1.6% higher than those that didn’t. Her statistical examination of 14 years of budget data from all 3,043 U.S. counties showed those with a death penalty also spent 3.3% less on law enforcement and highways. Ms. Baicker’s analysis found that the same pattern of raised taxes and spending cuts hits all death-penalty counties regardless of size.

In Texas, Dallas County is struggling to pay for concurrent cases against six prison escapees accused of killing a suburban policeman last year. Gov. Rick Perry gave the county $250,000 from discretionary funds to help.

The fiscal fallout can linger for years. In Mississippi, Quitman County raised taxes three times in the 1990s and took out a $150,000 loan to pay for the 1990 capital-murder trials of two men that went on for years. Now, the county is having trouble attracting a new tenant to a vacant warehouse because it has higher property taxes than any nearby county. A death-penalty case “is almost like lightning striking,” says county administrator Butch Scipper. “It is catastrophic to a small rural county.”

The issue has become more pressing as death-penalty case costs have pushed higher, says Jay Kimbrough, criminal-justice director for Gov. Perry. Among the causes: DNA tests and appellate-court decisions that require longer jury selection and more expensive defense attorneys.

Now local officials are pressing state governments for relief. In Texas, Jasper County’s experience helped persuade lawmakers last year to expand a program to help counties pay for the “extraordinary costs” of prosecuting capital-murder cases. (The discretionary funds given Dallas County last April were not part of this program.) State Rep. Bob Turner, who sponsored the legislation, says he was worried that smaller counties were “downgrading cases” — pursuing lesser charges rather than the death penalty — “to preclude the tremendous drain on the county budget.” While Mr. Turner says he knows of no specific examples, he says he often heard about the cost pressures during meetings with officials from the 17 mostly rural counties he represents.

A Trial ‘s TallyJasper County,Texas,spent more than $1.02 million bringing death penalty cases against three men for the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. A breakdown of expenses:
Court-appointed defense attorneys 28.3%
Telephone, travel and misc 20.6
Salary for extra prosecutors 17.3
Jury, courthouse security, court reporter 15.5
Investigation 15.4
Psychiatric evaluation 2.9

Costs notwithstanding, county officials say they pursue the death penalty when the crime warrants it. “It is very expensive and it is very burdensome on communities, so that gives people pause,” says Arthur Eads, who was the district attorney in Killeen, Texas, for 24 years. But, he says, “I never felt the heat to do it or not to do it because of the money.”

Polk County, in east Texas, was the most recent county to receive state help. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the sentence of Johnny Paul Penry, convicted of fatally stabbing a woman in 1979, and sent the case back to Polk County for a third trial. County officials toted up the likely costs: $250 to $350 per hour for the forensic psychiatrist to review and testify about Mr. Penry’s medical records; $700 to copy his 1,500-page prison record; $20,000 to pay for hotels, meals and mileage for prosecutors, investigators and support staff when the trial is moved to a different county, as expected.

Total estimated cost: at least $200,000. In December, Polk received $100,000 from the state to help pay the bill.

Other states have begun to set up what amount to death-penalty risk pools, allowing counties to pay in annually and receive funds in the event of a death-penalty case. Utah created one of the first such pools in 1997 after “the legislature got tired of bailing out counties,” says Mark Nash, director of the Utah Prosecution Council.

Uintah was one of six Utah counties that didn’t participate in that state’s risk pool. The county, in the northeast corner of the state, had never had a death-penalty case until Roosevelt City police chief Cecil Gurr was shot and killed in July, just a few feet inside the county line.

Now, as the county struggles to pay for prosecuting the case, local officials are convinced the insurance is a good idea. In August, Uintah paid $21,500 to join the state risk pool — for the next death-penalty case. Source

So how much did it cost for all the trials. Do the math.

Executions during 2009   52

Executions during  2010 46

Number of prisoners  sentence of death   3,173

More on the cost of Death Penalty Trials in Washington State and other Goodies.

Documenting the high costs of pursuing the ultimate punishment in Washington state

Prison Legal News

Crime Statistics > Prisoners > Per capita (most recent) by country

Population in China was 1,330,044,544  in 2008 – about 4 times more people live in China then in the United States.

Population in United States was  303,824,640 in 2008

Both populations are a bit higher now.

Think about that when you check the statistics in the link below.

Crime Statistics > Number  of Prisoners  (most recent) by country

Guantanamo detainees must also be included ad the price of keeping them is high as well.

Is it physically possible to hang yourself when bound, masked and gagged.

More on  Guantanamo Bay

Marijuana: Public Enemy #1

by Robert C. Koehler

November 10, 2011

“Play faster!” he cried, wildly, over and over. “Play faster!”

The dame who was tickling the ivories complied, out of control herself. The music revved to a dangerous velocity — oh, too fast for decent, sober, well-behaved Americans to bear — and . . . well, you just knew, violence, madness, laughter were just around the corner. The year was 1936 and, oh my God, they were high on marijuana, public enemy number one.

The scene is from Reefer Madness, arguably the dumbest movie ever made — but smugly at the emotional and ideological core of American drug policy for the last three-quarters of a century. The policy, which morphed in 1970 into an all-out “war” on drugs, has filled our prisons to bursting, created powerful criminal enterprises, launched a real war in Mexico and presided over the skyrocketing of recreational drug use in the United States. The war on drugs just may be a bigger disaster than the war on terror.

“The war on drugs, as it has been waged, has not only failed to curtail drug use; it has become a major public health liability in its own right,” writes Christopher Glenn Fichtner in his comprehensive new book on our disastrous war on a plant, Cannabanomics: The Marijuana Policy Tipping Point (Well Mind Books).

Fichtner, a psychiatrist — he served as Illinois Director of Mental Health for several years — takes a long, hard look at the politics of irrationality and lays out a compelling diagnosis: “essentially, social or mass psychosis.” You can also throw in racism. The war on drugs is simply a race war by another name, fueled by fear of Mexican and African American culture, with the weight of law brought down on African Americans with wildly disproportionate severity:

“. . . during a period when the number of prison sentences for drug-related convictions increased dramatically for all drug offenders,” Fichtner writes, citing Illinois statistics between 1983 and 2002, “it increased for African Americans at roughly eight times the rate of increase seen for Caucasians.”

But reading Cannabanomics kept leaving me with the sense that there was a deeper irrationality to our anti-marijuana crusade than even the racism. For instance, “Examples abound,” he writes, “in which the application of mandatory minimum sentences has led to harsher penalties for marijuana offenses than for violent crimes ranging from battery through sexual assault and even to murder.”

And the violent enforcement of zero tolerance hasn’t been limited to the pursuit of recreational potheads. Those using cannabis medicinally have also been harassed, arrested and sometimes treated with such shocking violence you have to wonder whether the official paranoia about marijuana use — that it leads to mental derangement and violent behavior — is sheer projection.

For instance, early in the book Fichtner relates the story of Garry, a California man who used marijuana to relieve arthritic pain. Despite the fact that this was legal under state law, his house was raided by federal agents: “As he opened his front door, he was greeted by a battering ram and a physical takedown maneuver that left him with a dislocated left shoulder, right hand fractures, blunt head trauma, and a back injury that aggravated the arthritis for which he grew cannabis in his garage in the first place.”

Much of Cannabanomics is devoted to the extraordinary medicinal uses of marijuana, which has been called one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to the human race. It has been used, usually with little if any side effect, to alleviate chronic pain and chemo-induced nausea and relieve the symptoms of a stunning array of illnesses and conditions, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy, diabetes, hepatitis C, AIDS, cancer, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s. The list goes on.

The herb has been “part of humanity’s medicine chest for almost as long as history has been recorded,” according to Dr. Gregory T. Carter, writing on the NORML website.

In light of this, our war against it — at extraordinary human and economic cost — illuminates a crying need for us to change the way we govern and look after ourselves. Another story Fichtner tells is about an Illinois man named Seth, who had suffered from epileptic seizures most of his life. He reluctantly tried using marijuana — one inhalation a day — because his prescribed medications weren’t helping much, and soon reduced the incidence of grand mal seizures from several per week to one or two per month.

The amazing part of this story, Fichtner notes, is that none of his doctors were willing even to discuss the therapeutic use of marijuana, though they were quick to recommend invasive procedures, including temporal lobe surgery. “. . .we Americans,” he writes, “live in a society in which it is acceptable practice for surgeons to destroy a piece of someone’s brain in order to prevent seizures but where use of marijuana for the same purpose . . . is a criminal offense.”

To my mind, it all smacks of the military-industrial metaphor that rules the American roost. We’re quick to seize on something as the enemy and organize ourselves blindly around its destruction, never stopping to notice that what we’re destroying is ourselves. In the case of the war on drugs, our “enemy” is our greatest ally. Source

Top 3 things YOU need to know about the private prison money scheme:

1) The victims: Private prisons don’t care about who they lock up. At $200 per immigrant a night, this is the “perfect” money scheme.

2) The players: CCA, Geo Group and MTC — combined currently profit more than $5 billion a year.

3)The money: These corporations spend $20 million a year lobbying legislators to get anti-immigrant laws approved and thus more inmates.

Join The Virtual Vigil and Occupation
Shut Down Stewart  http://mycuentame.org/immigrantsforsale/

Roberto Martinez-Medina died in CCA’s Stewart Detention Center in Georgia in 2009.

Medina had been arrested a month earlier for not having a driver’s license.

CCA profited off of Medina’s incarceration, and ensured a greater profit by denying him critical health care.

CCA has gone to great lengths to hush Medina’s death.

Sign the petition to demand an investigation into Medina’s death: http://immigrantsforsale.org
Pedro Guzman spent 19 months at CCA’s Stewart private detention because he missed an immigration order.

Authorities showed no mercy after Guzman explained the court order was sent to an old address.

CCA profited approximately $72,000 from Pedro’s detention.

Guzman’s wife Emily and only son Logan endured a painful and debilitating struggle to survive while they fought for Pedro’s release.

Doesn’t Pedro deserve to be reimbursed for his unjust detention? Tell CCA To Pay Pedro Back: http://tinyurl.com/paypedroback

Immigration detention: fastest growing incarceration system in the U.S.

The Harper Government in Canada wants to create Legislation similar to the Drug offenses in the US. Lets hope Canadians do not get coerced into this. Marijuana is not that bad. It has many uses medically and fewer violent crimes if any are committed because of it. Alcohol is far worse as far as crimes.  Those who use Marijuana are non violent.

If a police officer had a choice of going into a room with 20 Marijuana users or 20 drunk people the room with the Marijuana uses would be a much safer room. Drunk people are much more violent and much more dangerous. Marijuana users would be listening to music and eating. They don’t even bother to argue they just enjoy themselves. Drunk people fight and argue and alcohol is addictive where as Marijuana is not.

So I have to say Harper’s bill is wrong on many counts. If anything Marijuana should be legalized and the Government could regulate it and make profits/taxes on it. Open stores to have it sold etc.

It would eliminate grow ops and many other problems now associated with Marijuana.

If individuals grew their own or buy it from a Government store there would be no need for dealers and all the other problems now faced by police at this time.

Then the police could spend their time looking for dangerous criminals.

It would save a lot of money and make a lot of money.

End of a lot of problems.

Check the link below and get some insight as to how Medical Marijuana helps people and it is safer then many Pharmaceuticals.

It will even get rid of a headache.

The lobby groups who want to prevent the legalization of Marijuana are the Pharmaceutical companies. Not because it is dangerous, but because it would cut into their profits.

Medical Marijuana

The Harper Government in Canada wants to pass some of the similar laws  used in the US. Most pertaining to Drugs.  They are not affective in the US and will not be affective in Canada. The crimes committed in Canada have dropped. There are enough laws to cover all crimes in Canada as it is, so no new laws are necessary.  This will just put people a select group of people in prison longer, no stop crime.  Go to the link below and check it out. If you know any Canadians pass this on to them.  Seems Harper’s  Gov. passes many Bills and Canadians know nothing about them.

Canada: Stop Harper’s cruel crime bill

Legalizing Marijuana  would create a lot of jobs something we all can agree on is needed. Maybe the drinkers would take up smoking Marijuana and make the world a safer place especially for women who are beaten by their drunken spouses.

Hemp growing and use has created many jobs.

Hemp was kept illegal and it is not even a drug because of Oil companies.  If there is one thing oil companies did not want it is Hemp on the market. Finally Hemp is making a comeback.

Hemp is not legal to grow in the U.S. under Federal law all because of the Oil lobby. How foolish American are. Gas can be made from Hemp as can plastics and are better for the environment.

The US government would rather go to war for oil, kill millions while they do it, destroy everything in their path and pollute the land for years to come.

Hemp as fuel is safer to produce then it is to drill for oil.

Hemp does not need Pesticides or Herbicides either.

Ceasefire in the War on Drugs?

CIA Drug Trafficking over 50 years

Why do you think American troops are Guarding the Poppy Fields in Afghanistan? Afghanistan went from no Heroin to tons of Heroin.

Plus the US got their pipeline.

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

Cost of the war on Drugs in US

There have been over 4,000  Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested.

Police Brutality is becoming a growing problem.

Did You Know In the Wealthy United States of America, there were 1.3 million homeless as of December 30 2010. Guess what there are more now. Each year the homeless numbers grow in the US.

Check the link below for more information.

Occupy Wall Street Updates

How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police

By Arthur Rizer & Joseph Hartman

Nov 7 2011

Over the past 10 years, law enforcement officials have begun to look and act more and more like soldiers. Here’s why we should be alarmed. 

At around 9:00 a.m. on May 5, 2011, officers with the Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff’s Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) team surrounded the home of 26-year-old José Guerena, a former U.S. Marine and veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, to serve a search warrant for narcotics. As the officers approached, Guerena lay sleeping in his bedroom after working the graveyard shift at a local mine. When his wife Vanessa woke him up, screaming that she had seen a man outside the window pointing a gun at her, Guerena grabbed his AR-15 rifle, instructed Vanessa to hide in the closet with their four-year old son, and left the bedroom to investigate.

Within moments, and without Guerena firing a shot–or even switching his rifle off of “safety”–he lay dying, his body riddled with 60 bullets. A subsequent investigation revealed that the initial shot that prompted the S.W.A.T. team barrage came from a S.W.A.T. team gun, not Guerena’s. Guerena, reports later revealed, had no criminal record, and no narcotics were found at his home.

Sadly, the Guerenas are not alone; in recent years we have witnessed a proliferation in incidents of excessive, military-style force by police S.W.A.T. teams, which often make national headlines due to their sheer brutality. Why has it become routine for police departments to deploy black-garbed, body-armored S.W.A.T. teams for routine domestic police work? The answer to this question requires a closer examination of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy and the War on Terror.

Ever since September 14, 2001, when President Bush declared war on terrorism, there has been a crucial, yet often unrecognized, shift in United States policy. Before 9/11, law enforcement possessed the primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the United States. Today, the military is at the tip of the anti-terrorism spear. This shift appears to be permanent: in 2006, the White House’s National Strategy for Combating Terrorism confidently announced that the United States had “broken old orthodoxies that once confined our counterterrorism efforts primarily to the criminal justice domain.”

In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a “soldier’s mentality” among their ranks. Though the reasons for this increasing militarization of American police forces seem obvious, the dangerous side effects are somewhat less apparent.

Undoubtedly, American police departments have substantially increased their use of military-grade equipment and weaponry to perform their counterterrorism duties, adopting everything from body armor to, in some cases, attack helicopters.  The logic behind this is understandable. If superior, military-grade equipment helps the police catch more criminals and avert, or at least reduce, the threat of a domestic terror attack, then we ought deem it an instance of positive sharing of technology — right? Not necessarily. Indeed, experts in the legal community have raised serious concerns that allowing civilian law enforcement to use military technology runs the risk of blurring the distinction between soldiers and peace officers.

This is especially true in cases where, much to the chagrin of civil liberty advocates, police departments have employed their newly acquired military weaponry not only to combat terrorism but also for everyday patrolling. Before 9/11, the usual heavy weaponry available to a small-town police officer consisted of a standard pump-action shot gun, perhaps a high power rifle, and possibly a surplus M-16, which would usually have been kept in the trunk of the supervising officer’s vehicle. Now, police officers routinely walk the beat armed with assault rifles and garbed in black full-battle uniforms. When one of us, Arthur Rizer, returned from active duty in Iraq, he saw a police officer at the Minneapolis airport armed with a M4 carbine assault rifle — the very same rifle Arthur carried during his combat tour in Fallujah.

The extent of this weapon “inflation” does not stop with high-powered rifles, either. In recent years, police departments both large and small have acquired bazookas, machine guns, and even armored vehicles (mini-tanks) for use in domestic police work.

To assist them in deploying this new weaponry, police departments have also sought and received extensive military training and tactical instruction. Originally, only the largest of America’s big-city police departments maintained S.W.A.T. teams, and they were called upon only when no other peaceful option was available and a truly military-level response was necessary. Today, virtually every police department in the nation has one or more S.W.A.T. teams, the members of whom are often trained by and with United States special operations commandos. Furthermore, with the safety of their officers in mind, these departments now habitually deploy their S.W.A.T. teams for minor operations such as serving warrants. In short, “special” has quietly become “routine.”

The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the “men in blue” from “peace officer” to soldier. This development is absolutely critical and represents a fundamental change in the nature of law enforcement. The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to “keep the peace.” Those whom an officer suspects to have committed a crime are treated as just that – suspects. Police officers are expected, under the rule of law, to protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even the “bad guys.” For domestic law enforcement, a suspect in custody remains innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, police officers operate among a largely friendly population and have traditionally been trained to solve problems using a complex legal system; the deployment of lethal violence is an absolute last resort.

Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups — the enemy and the non-enemy — and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier’s mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, “try” not to kill the non-enemy. Indeed, the Soldier’s Creed declares, “I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.” This is a far cry from the peace officer’s creed that expects its adherents “to protect and serve.”

The point here is not to suggest that police officers in the field should not take advantage of every tactic or piece of equipment that makes them safer as they carry out their often challenging and strenuous duties. Nor do I mean to suggest that a police officer, once trained in military tactics, will now seek to kill civilians. It is far too easy for Monday-morning quarterbacks to unfairly second-guess the way police officers perform their jobs while they are out on the streets waging what must, at times, feel like a war.

Notwithstanding this concern, however, Americans should remain mindful bringing military-style training to domestic law enforcement has real consequences. When police officers are dressed like soldiers, armed like soldiers, and trained like soldiers, it’s not surprising that they are beginning to act like soldiers. And remember: a soldier’s main objective is to kill the enemy. Source

José Guerena was innocent of any crime and yet the police shot him 60 times.  That say’s a lot about the reality America’s live in now.

Wake up America.  You live in a Violent Police State.

US Lawmakers Corruption “Busted”

Recent

Over 7,000 prisoners are held in Libya

ICC to Probe NATO, NTC War Crimes in Libya War

US, NATO and Rebel war crimes in Libya

The Libya American’s never saw on Television

The Iran you will never see on American Television

Canada: Mohawk Elders looking for mass graves of Children that died in Residential Schools

Deaths in Afghanistan 5.6 million due to war

Blackwater Worldwide/Xe Services formed a network of 30 shell companies

September 4, 2010

WASHINGTON — The security company Blackwater Worldwide formed a network of 30 shell companies and subsidiaries to try to get millions of dollars in government business after the company faced strong criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, The New York Times reported Friday.

The newspaper said that it was unclear how many of the created companies got American contracts but that at least three of them obtained work with the U.S. military and the CIA.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has asked the Justice Department to see whether Blackwater misled the government when using the subsidiaries to gain government contracts, according to the Times.

It said Levin’s committee found that North Carolina-based Blackwater, which now is known as Xe Services, went to great lengths to find ways to get lucrative government work despite criminal charges and criticism stemming from a 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. A committee chart outlines the web of Blackwater subsidiaries.

Messages left late Friday with spokespeople for the Michigan Democrat and Xe were not immediately answered.

The 2007 incident and other reports of abuses by Blackwater employees in Iraq led to criminal investigations and congressional hearings, and resulted in the company losing a lucrative contract with the State Department to provide security in Iraq.

But recently the company was awarded a $100 million contract to provide security for the agency in Afghanistan, prompting criticism from some in Congress. CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the CIA had no choice but to hire the company because it underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concluded that the contractor had cleaned up its act.

Last year, Panetta canceled a contract with Xe that allowed the company’s operatives to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan, and shifted the work to government personnel.

However, the Times quoted former Blackwater officials as saying that at least two Blackwater-affiliated companies, XPG and Greystone, obtained secret contracts from the CIA to provide security to agency operatives.

The newspaper said the network of subsidiaries, including several located in offshore tax havens, were uncovered as part of the Armed Services Committee’s examination of government contracting and not an investigation solely into Blackwater. But Levin questioned why Blackwater would need to create so many companies with various names to seek out government business, according to the Times.

The report quoted unidentified government officials and former Blackwater employees as saying that the network of companies allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials and the public, and to ensure a low profile for its classified activities. Source

Recent

Pentagon declined to investigate hundreds of purchases of child pornography

Published in: on September 5, 2010 at 4:45 am  Comments Off on Blackwater Worldwide/Xe Services formed a network of 30 shell companies  
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Warning Facebook Strikes again, this time a Virus

March 24 2010

Facebook Sent someone elses Password and a Virus

Today I received two emails from Facebook.

This one was sent to me with my email address on it. But I don not have a Facebook account and it had a Virus to boot. Not very impressed. I can’t say for sure these emails came from Facebook or from somewhere else. Don’t know, don’t really care. So either there is a scam going on or Facebook really messed up. Do be warned however this can happen. So if you get something from Facebook it may contain a Virus.
Click on screen shot to enlarge.

This was sent to me, but had another persons e-mail address on it. I have sent said person and e-mail to inform them of the mistake. This time of course there was no virus in it. Yes I checked. So now one has to wonder why I received the password for someone else. Click on screen shot to enlarge.

Seems odd that the new passwords comes in a Zip File as well. I didn’t open it to see what was actually in the file. Don’t really want someone’s password for Facebook anyway. So if and When the other person gets back to me, if they are even a real person or not is yet to be known. They like myself may not even have a Facebook account. If they do get back to me, I will update this and let you know what is happening. Until then be aware something fishy is going on.

Source

Facebook Virus

This post was written by admin on November 9, 2009

Many users are receiving emails or links to the Facebook virus and the UPS virus which, once downloaded and extracted, compromise users PC Security. There is nothing new about these but the contents do vary.

Emails apparently from ‘Facebook Security‘ inform users that their password has been changed and they need to open the attached .zip file for the details, or from ‘Your Facebook Support‘ informing users that users must ‘ submit a new, updated account agreement‘ and again need to open the attached .zip file.

Sadly, many are doing just that and finding that their computer security has been compromised.

The UPS virus also comes in a .zip file attached to an email. I have received a number of these and in the past 24 hours have received no less than 9 of them, all informing me that ‘a parcel from 20th June could not be delivered to the addressee’……not that I was expecting one anyway!

Unsuspecting users download the .zip file to ‘fill in the details‘ only to find that there are no details but they do get a malware infection.

Source

Seems this Virus is still getting around.

Some have also complained that Facebook has sent them e-mails to update their accounts as well.  Be careful.

Related

Facebook: What you don’t know about it could get you in a whole lot of trouble

Recent

American Civil Rights Org Fights Against Israeli Desecration of Ancient Cemetery

Britain expelled Israeli diplomat over fake passports used in Dubai

Today is World Water Day, Did You Know?

Canada: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Democracy

US Congress passes health care reform bill huge victory for Obama

Attempted Citizen’s Arrest of Alleged War Criminal George W. Bush in a Canadian Court

Hiba Al-Shamaree, Iraqi Female Blogger sentences to 3 years

Obama blocks delivery of bunker-busters to Israel

Farm Groups Want Action On Monsanto

Netanyahu Takes His Siege Against Human Rights NGOs to the US

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Comments Off on Warning Facebook Strikes again, this time a Virus  
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Today is World Water Day, Did You Know?

Today is World Water Day: How did Americans begin to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap???
Annie Leonard: The Story of Bottled Water
March 22, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.

Our production partners on the bottled water film include five leading sustainability groups: Corporate Accountability International, Environmental Working Group, Food & Water Watch, Pacific Institute, and Polaris Institute.

Source

The story of bottled water

Inside the Bottle

“The Story of Cap & Trade”

Bottled Water often much worse than Tapwater !

Report on the World Water Forum in Mexico

Water shortage in Fiji, not for US Water Corporation however

Fiji Water Burning Trash?

Q: When is a lake not a lake?

A: When the Canadian Government says it should be a dump for mine waste.

Lakes across Canada are being destroyed by mining waste. Lakes that would normally be protected as fish habitat by the Fisheries Act are now being redefined as “tailings impoundment areas” according to a 2002 “schedule” added to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Act. Once added to Schedule 2, healthy freshwater lakes lose all protection and become dump sites for mining waste. Mining companies have the go-ahead to dump their tailings into perfectly healthy bodies of water, such as Sandy Pond in Newfoundland and Fish Lake in British Columbia. Twelve pristine water bodies are currently slated for destruction under this law.

Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Ltd is proposing to drain Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) in B.C. in order to stockpile solid waste and use Fish Creek and Little Fish Lake as tailings impoundment areas for a gold-copper mining project called Prosperity Mine. Read more about Teztan Biny here and find out what you can do to help save this lake.

Sandy Pond, near Long Harbour, N.L., is also on the hit list. The mine tailings that Vale Inco plans to dump into the lake will destroy the lake, causing irreversible damage.

Click here for Environment Canada’s list of 12 lakes proposed for destruction.

We also have the pop industry which uses water and uses plastic which is also a real problem. Pop has no real value other then flavor. There are few facts about then in the thread below.

PepsiCo to stop selling pop in schools worldwide

Recent

Canada: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Democracy

US Congress passes health care reform bill huge victory for Obama

Attempted Citizen’s Arrest of Alleged War Criminal George W. Bush in a Canadian Court

Hiba Al-Shamaree, Iraqi Female Blogger sentences to 3 years

Obama blocks delivery of bunker-busters to Israel

Farm Groups Want Action On Monsanto

Netanyahu Takes His Siege Against Human Rights NGOs to the US

March 11-17 2010 Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israeli Military Investigator Admits Failures in the Military Investigation of Rachel Corrie’s Killing

China renews call for diplomacy on Iran

Erroneous Reports Deny our Veterans Benefits

Full El Al flight took off on 9/11 from JFK to Tel Aviv

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 12:25 am  Comments Off on Today is World Water Day, Did You Know?  
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China renews call for diplomacy on Iran

March 18  2010

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang says China is holding talks with relevant parties to find a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.

“A peaceful solution through diplomatic means is the best way and complies with the interests of all parties,” Xinhua quoted Qin as saying on Thursday.

“China is in close contact with the relevant parties and strives to promote peaceful negotiations,” he added.

He Yafei, China’s ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva, said Wednesday that China has been engaged in regular talks with Tehran to urge the Islamic Republic to agree to a proposal put forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a first step to resolve the nuclear issue.

Under the proposal, most of Iran’s existing low-enriched uranium (LEU) should be shipped to Russia and fromt here to France, where it would be processed into fuel rods with a purity of 20 percent.

The nuclear fuel would then be transported back to Iran for the use at Tehran research reactor.

“I think the door of compromise through negotiations, the door of diplomacy, is not closed,” He said.

Tehran approached the proposed deal with skepticism, maintaining that it will not send out the bulk of its LEU without guarantees that it would receive the 20 percent enriched uranium later on.

Iran needs the 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces radio medicine for cancer patients.

The country has been promised nuclear fuel for over 30 years now. Despite being a 10-percent shareholder and hence entitled to the European Gaseous Diffusion Uranium Enrichment Consortium (Eurodif)’s output, Iran has never received enriched uranium from France.

Tehran and Paris have also signed a deal, under which France is obliged to deliver 50 tons of uranium hexafluoride to Iran — another obligation France has failed to meet.

Source
I am guessing France cannot be trusted to keep a deal.  Seems to me Iran is not the problem.
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Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 5:22 am  Comments Off on China renews call for diplomacy on Iran  
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PepsiCo to stop selling pop in schools worldwide

March 6 2010

AP

NEW YORK — PepsiCo plans to remove sugary drinks from schools worldwide, following the success of programs in the U.S. aimed at cutting down on childhood obesity. The company said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft drink producer. Both PepsiCo Inc., the world’s second-biggest soft drink maker, and No. 1 player Coca-Cola Co. adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006. The World Heart Federation has been negotiating with soft drink makers to have them remove sugary beverages from schools for the past year as it looks to fight a rise in childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes, heart problems and other ailments. PepsiCo’s move is what the group had been seeking because it affects students through age 18, said Pekka Puska, president of the group, a federation of heart associations from around the world. He said he hopes other companies feel pressured to make similar moves. “It may be not so well known in the U.S. how intensive the marketing of soft drinks is in so many countries,” Puska said in an interview from Finland. He added that developing countries such as Mexico are particularly affected by this strong marketing. Coca-Cola this month changed its global sales policy to say it won’t sell any of its drinks worldwide in primary schools unless parents or school districts ask. The policy does not apply to secondary schools. The World Heart Federation wants all drinks with added sugars removed from schools with children through age 18. Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, did not immediately return a request seeking comment Tuesday. PepsiCo’s policy requires co-operation from its bottlers, vending companies and other distributors who take the company’s products to schools worldwide. The company said it did not have exact figures for sales in schools around the world but said they did not make up a major portion of sales. In primary schools, PepsiCo will sell only water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and juice with no added sugar. In secondary schools, it will sell those drinks along with low-calorie soft drinks, such as Diet Pepsi. Sports drinks are permissible when they’re sold to students participating in sports or other physical activities. In the U.S., the industry has swapped lower-calorie options into schools to replace sugary drinks. Sales of full-calorie soft drinks fell 95 per cent in U.S. schools between fall 2004 and fall 2009, the American Beverage Association reported last week. The industry voluntarily adopted guidelines in 2006 as part of an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of former president Bill Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association. Puska said defeating childhood obesity isn’t as simple as just removing sugary drinks from schools. Students must also exercise and eat better, not just at school but at home as well. Students should learn these habits at schools, he said.

Source

Related

US-COLOMBIA: Activists Target “World of Coca-Cola”

The environmental toll of plastics

Evidence is mounting that the chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that might harm people and the environment. And its production and disposal contribute to an array of environmental problems, too. For example:

• Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
• Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.

Plastic bottles poison pop and water

People chug bottled water as if it’s healthier than what spills from a sink. But evidence is piling up that plastic bottles are not only bad for the environment, but they might also make you sick. Have you ever noticed an odd taste in, say, a water bottle left in the car on a hot day?

The pollution aspect of plastic. Now imagine how many plastic bottles are used for pop around the world?
* Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting
* 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself
* 80% of plastic bottles are not recycled
* 38 million plastic bottles go to the dump per year in America from bottled water (not including soda)
* 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles
* The average American consumes 167 bottles of water a year
* Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method ever used to supply water
* Bottled water is the second most popular beverage in the United States
http://greenupgrader.com/3258/plastic-bottle-facts-make-you-think-before-you-drink/

Oil needed for plastic and pollution to the environment.

Wars happen to create plastic, simply to get the oil to make the plastic. War Pollution is horrific and many millions die, so the oil can be accessed to make the plastic. Is that a problem well of course it is. Even the creation of weapons for war devastates the environment.

Pollution is one of the main concerns of those who want to protect the environment. Even the Tar Sands in Canada is a horrific disaster, environmental wise.

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New York Times and the ACORN Hoax

Egypt : 42 electoral candidates and 145 protestors arrested in one day

Children of Gaza are Suffering, Scarred, Trapped

Report: U.S. vows to halt Israeli building in East Jerusalem

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

“This Time We Went Too Far” Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

Migrant workers used and abused becoming an epidemic world wide. A few story’s on the topic.

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

March 12 2010

By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs Editor

Foreign labourers employed in the meat and poultry industry face physical and racist abuse by British staff, an investigation has found.

Many workers reported being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers, said investigators from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Some of the worst abuses were committed against pregnant women who were also forced to continue to undertake work that posed risks to their health, including heavy lifting and extended periods of standing.

The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories – some of which supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets – and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.

The report said: “Physical and verbal abuse were not uncommon, with a fifth of workers interviewed reporting being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers; over a third of workers interviewed said they had experienced, or witnessed verbal abuse, often on a daily basis.”

It added: “Workers also reported being refused permission to take toilet breaks, and subsequently urinating or bleeding on themselves at the production line.”

Responding to the report, union leaders said “Britain’s Supermarkets should hang their heads in shame”.

Unite Deputy General Secretary, Jack Dromey said: “The EHRC report exposes labour practices in the supermarket supply chain that are an affront to human decency – physical and verbal abuse, a lack of health and safety protection, shameful treatment of pregnant women and a culture of fear. The report says, and rightly so, that there are reputable employers but they are undercut by the rogues.”

The inquiry, which was launched in October 2008, examined the employment and recruitment practices in the sector to identify differences in pay and conditions between agency and temporary workers and employees with permanent or directly employed status.

One third of the permanent workforce and over two thirds of agency workers in the industry are migrant workers. At one in six meat processing sites involved in the study, every single agency worker used in the past twelve months was a migrant worker. This is in part due to difficulties in recruiting British workers to what is physically demanding, low paid work. It may also be due to perceptions amongst employers and agencies that British workers are either unable or unwilling to work in the sector.

More than eight out of ten of the 260 workers that gave evidence said that agency workers were treated worse than directly employed workers. Seven out of ten workers said they thought they were treated badly in factories or by agencies because of their race or nationality.

Neil Kinghan, Director General of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The Commission’s inquiry reveals widespread and significant ill-treatment in the industry. We have heard stories of workers subjected to bullying, violence and being humiliated and degraded by being denied toilet breaks. Some workers feel they have little choice but to put up with these conditions out of economic necessity.

Source

This happens in other countries as well. The UK is not alone on this one.

New Center Report: Foreign Guestworkers Routinely Exploited by U.S. Employers

From 2007

Guestworkers who come to the United States are routinely cheated out of wages; forced to mortgage their futures to obtain low-wage, temporary jobs; held virtually captive by employers who seize their documents; forced to live in squalid conditions; and denied medical benefits for injuries, according to a new report released by the Center today.

The report  Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States comes as Congress is about to begin debating immigration legislation that could greatly expand guestworker programs to cover hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new temporary foreign workers.

“Congress should reform our broken immigration system, but reform should not rely on creating a vast new guestworker program,” said Mary Bauer, director of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project and author of the report. “The current program is shamefully abusive in practice, and there is almost no enforcement of worker rights.”

The 48-page report, based on interviews with thousands of guestworkers and dozens of legal cases, describes the systematic abuse of workers under what is known as the H-2 system administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program was created in 1943 to allow the sugar cane industry to bring in temporary workers and was revised by Congress in 1986 to include non-agricultural workers.

Employers in 2005 “imported” more than 121,000 temporary H-2 guestworkers  32,000 H-2A workers for agricultural work and 89,000 H-2B workers for jobs in forestry, seafood processing, landscaping, construction and other non-agricultural industries.

“Guestworkers are usually poor people who are lured here by the promise of decent jobs,” Bauer said. “But all too often, their dreams are based on lies, their hopes shattered by the reality of a system that treats them as commodities. They’re the disposable workers of the global economy.”

Hugo Martin Recinos-Recinos, a former guestworker from Guatemala, borrowed thousands of dollars to pay recruiting fees for a forestry job in the United States. “I had to leave the deed to my home,” he said. “When I got to the U.S., I was always underpaid, living in small hotel rooms and working 10-hour days. The debt from my recruitment and travel to the States made the low pay even harder to bear. When I filed a lawsuit about the conditions, my family and I were threatened. The guestworker program was abuse from beginning to end.”

The most fundamental problem with the H-2 system is that employers hold all the cards. They decide which workers can come to the United States and which cannot. They decide whether a worker can stay in this country. They usually decide where and under what conditions workers live and how they travel.

Guestworkers are typically powerless to enforce their rights. “If guestworkers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting or other retaliation,” the report says.

“Guestworkers don’t enjoy the most basic protections of a free labor market the ability to change jobs if they are cheated or abused by their employer,” Bauer said.

The rights that H-2 workers do have exist mostly on paper. The federal government has failed to protect them from unscrupulous employers, and most cannot obtain private legal assistance to enforce their rights through the courts.

The report concludes that the H-2 guestworker program should not serve as a model for immigration reform, but in fact should be overhauled if allowed to continue. It offers specific recommendations to remedy the worst abuses.

“The mistreatment of temporary foreign workers in America today is one of the major civil rights issues of our time,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “For too long, we’ve reaped the economic benefits of their labor but have ignored the incredible degree of abuse and exploitation they endure.

“Congress now has an opportunity to right this terrible wrong. As part of the reform of our broken immigration system, Congress should eliminate the current H-2 system entirely or commit to making it a fair program with strong worker protections that are vigorously enforced.” Source

Apparently they have been attempting to get things changed.

US firms ‘paid Colombia militias’
Also from 2007

The right-wing paramilitary groups were formed
as private armies in the 1980s

A paramilitary commander has accused US companies which buy Colombia’s bananas of financing illegal right-wing militias that have killed thousands of people in more than a decade. In testimony to investigators, jailed commander Salvatore Mancuso named Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte as having made regular payments to the paramilitaries, according to Jesus Vargas, a lawyer for victims of paramilitary violence who was present at the hearing.The hearing was closed to the press.

Mancuso testified that “each one paid one [US] cent for each box of bananas they exported”, according to Vargas.
‘War taxes’

Mancuso’s lawyer, Hernando Benavides, confirmed his client’s testimony.

Mancuso did not specify why the companies paid the illegal militias but paramilitaries commonly exact “war taxes” from businesses and ranchers in areas where they operate.

Across the country, the paramilitaries countered leftist rebel extortion. They also served as union busters, and killed hundreds of labour rights activists.

A spokesman for California-based Dole Food denied the accusation.

“Recent press accounts implicating Dole with illegal organisations in Colombia is absolutely untrue,” said Marty Ordman.

A Del Monte spinoff, Del Monte Fresh Produce, has a subsidiary in Colombia that buys bananas. It did not immediately return phone calls from the Associated Press.

Chiquita Brands International has previously acknowledged that a subsidiary, Banadex, paid paramilitaries $1.7m over six years.

The Colombian chief federal prosecutor’s office says a Banadex ship was also used to unload 3,000 Kalashnikov rifles and more than 2.5 million bullets in 2001.

It agreed to pay a fine of $25m in a deal with the US justice department.

Chiquita says the payments were made to protect the safety of its workers but Colombia’s chief prosecutor has said companies that made such payments shared the responsibility for paramilitary murders.

Labour and human rights activists say Colombia companies and multinationals routinely paid paramilitaries to act as union busters and kill union leaders.

Mancuso, testifying as part of a peace deal with the government, also accused Colombian beverage and coal companies of paying “taxes” to the paramilitaries.

Wealthy landowners and drug traffickers first created the paramilitaries in the early 1980s to protect them from rebel extortion and kidnapping but the groups have since largely degenerated into murderous gangs.

The paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, were listed as a “foreign terrorists organisation” in 2001 by the US government.

The prosecutor’s office estimates the paramilitaries left at least 10,000 bodies across this war-scarred terrain in mass graves. Source

So if you can’t abuse them in yhour own contry abuse them where they live.

One has to wonder how many other countries do this?

Related

US-COLOMBIA: Activists Target “World of Coca-Cola”

From November 2009

They had eight union leaders murdered. We’ve been augmenting their legal suit,” Friedman said.

“There’s plenty of evidence that shows the plant managers were very cozy with the paramilitaries,” he added.

New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

Report condemns treatment of migrant workers in Canada

Rampant exploitation of women’s labour, sexuality

March 10 2010

One hundred years after the world recognised the role of women in society, women are still robbed off their rights.

On the occasion of the 100th year anniversary of International Women’s Day yesterday, Caram Asia calls upon governments in both sending and receiving countries to protect the rights of migrant women who constitute more than half of the migrant population in the world today.

Migrant workers in Slovenia hunger strike for unpaid wages

March 2010

Contractor by the name of Perkovič has not compensated them for the work they have done in the past 15 months.

Italy: migrant workers strike!

Submitted on 9 March 9, 2010

March 1 2010 will go down in history as the date when tens of thousands of the four and a half million immigrant population of Italy threw down the gauntlet to the racist government of Silvio Berlusconi and the ever-widening persecution emanating from the pores of a society deep in crisis, by going on strike. It was a challenge to a society that in the time-honoured capitalist manner is increasingly forced to survive by sowing and maintaining divisions among the majority it exploits, scapegoating its weakest and most vulnerable.

The above are just the tip of the iceburg..

Seems not much has changed over the years.

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of SlaveryTell them your giving them a job, ship them off to a war zone, take their passports and force them to work

Another war realated Story about migrant workers

Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking

Even Call Centers are bad employers in many countries, Seems they don’t like to pay their employees either. August 27, 2008 What has changed not much. They love to exploit workers world wide.

Call centers lawsuits

Call center (BOSS) Burnout stress syndrome

Human Issues in Call Centers – A Report

February 16 2010

Call Centers has given many gifts to People , few of them are: High Stress Level, Number of other Illnesses, Broken Marriages Etc.

How Haiti’s Quarter Million Slaves Will Survive The Quake

Slavery and Human Trafficking Crimes

An estimated 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working around the world according to the International Labor Organization.

Trans Fair

Like all great social change movements, Fair Trade is a messy and imperfect project.

A grassroots movement that for some emerged in opposition to global free trade eventually gave rise to an ambitious labeling and certification system that has now grown into a complex global organization. A simple yet powerful idea that began with small scale coffee farmers now spans a vast range of products that includes soccer balls and soon artisanal gold.  From the 1988 launch of the world’s first Fair Trade labelling initiative, Stichting Max Havelaar is today part of a worldwide network of twenty-three certifying bodies, that includes TransFair Canada, and three producer networks within the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International.

Check to see if what you buy is Fair Trade Goods or those done by slave labor or unscrupulous employers who abuse their workers.. Always check for the logo on goods you purchase. Fair Trade Labeling International

Recent

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Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

“This Time We Went Too Far” Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Water shortage in Fiji, not for US Water Corporation however

Rachel Corrie’s parents Get Nasty Letter from professor at Haifa University

Dubai police chief to seek Netanyahu arrest

Israel “blackmails Gaza’s patients to turn them into collaborators”

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm  Comments Off on Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers  
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Water shortage in Fiji, not for US Water Corporation however

Only cyclone can fix water woes: Prasad

By Elenoa Baselala
February 20, 2010

A TROPICAL depression or cyclone is what it would take to end water supply shortages in the country.

Director of the Fiji Meteorological Office, Rajendra Prasad, said a tropical depression or cyclone would get us out of the situation.

While February is regarded as part of the wet season, he says it has only rained in some parts of the country.

“There are places where the grass has turned green while there are others where the grass is still brown,” he said.

“We are still receiving below average rainfall and it was not as widespread as we had expected.”

Mr Prasad has urged companies that rely on rainwater to prepare themselves. He said reservoirs and dams could have a trouble with supply this season. The dry season begins in May.

Last month, the weather office classified certain areas to be under a “meteorological drought”.

These areas were Navua, Koronivia, Nausori, Labasa, Savusavu, Taveuni and Lakeba. Those in the “warning” stage are Yasawa-i-rara, Viwa, Vatukoula, Ba, Tavua, Sigatoka, Dobuilevu, Dreketi, Seaqaqa, Suva, Nabouwalu, Kadavu and Udu Point.

A meteorological drought is declared if rainfall is well below expected levels for an extended period.  Source

Update March 17 2010:

Well they got a Cyclone. I really do not see how this will help anyone however. Other then maybe some reporters will make it into the disaster area to survey and talk to the people. Seems Reporters have a hard time in Fiji however.

Cyclone Tomas hits Fiji 165 MPH Winds

Of course Guess who makes huge profits at the expense of all concerned.

They take the resources and the hell with the people who should have access to them.

Fiji Water: So cool, so fresh, so bad for the environment?

By SARAH GILBERT

August 24 2009

The story of Fiji Water, as detailed in a startling investigative piece in Mother Jones magazine this month, seems familiar. Leafing through the story, I found myself trying to remember where I’d read this tale before; like an old melody at the back of my brain, it hovered, just beyond memory.

Suddenly it came to me: it’s Dole, it’s United Fruit, it’s West Indies Sugar Corporation, it’s the old, old story. A company located in a lush, tropical location with a totalitarian government that welcomes foreign interests with deep pockets. It doesn’t tax them, gives them access to the country’s most precious natural resources, and stands by with heavy artillery in hand, protecting them while they strip the country.

Meanwhile, the country’s citizens struggle with terrible poverty, hunger and squalid conditions. The only part of the story that Fiji Water has not yet repeated is the inevitable depletion of the resource — in this case, a 17-mile-long aquifer to which Fiji Water has “near-exclusive access” — and the subsequent abandonment of the country.

What makes this story so difficult to swallow is how eagerly the U.S. seems to have embraced Fiji’s co-owners Stewart and Lynda Resnick. On this side of the Pacific, the pair cheerfully line the pockets of any political figure in sight (they supported both McCain and Obama in the past election) while selling Fiji’s best, cleanest water at a huge profit. On the other side of the ocean, the people of Fiji suffer under terrible water conditions that have led to outbreaks of typhoid and parasitic infections.

It appears that America adores the Resnicks: Lynda brags that she knows “everyone in the world, every mogul, every movie star.” These relationships have proven handy, as the Resnicks have reaped $1.5 million a year in water subsidies for their almond, pistachio and pomegranate crops in the U.S.

These agricultural water subsidies must be viewed in context: the stress from travelling to pollinate the almond “monoculture” crops like the ones the Resnicks grow, along with the pesticides they sell, are considered to be some of the major reasons that bees are succumbing to colony collapse disorder. And the Resnicks control an enormous amount of California water infrastructure that was built by public funds. They have a 48 percent interest in the Kern Water Bank, which was meant to collect water from aqueducts and the Kern River and to redistribute this water in times of drought.

%Poll-33708% The Resnicks and their Paramount Farms and Paramount Citrus could use the water to irrigate their fields (which are already subsidized by the government), or they could sell it to municipalities. According to critics, the Resnicks are “trying to ‘game’ the water market the way Enron gamed the energy market.”

So the Resnicks are not known for their even-handedness with politicians or water, and their practices in the U.S. are not the greenest of all possible greens. In fact, they could share responsibility for many of our environmental woes. They could have a hand in California’s future water shortages, during which they could profit gloriously. All the while, they are loudly and proudly marketing Fiji Water as the most environmentally friendly bottled water company in the world.

This, of course, is not saying much. Bottled water is notorious for its position in top five lists of “what not to do” for the planet. One day, future civilizations will look back on this decade and wonder in disbelief why it was that we pumped water out of one part of the planet, encased it in plastic, then encased it again for shipping, and spent many many non-renewable resources to bring it to another part of the planet where clean water was already plentiful. It’s patently ridiculous.

The story is disturbing because of the truths it tells us about ourselves and our society. It’s not just the water thing. It’s the marketing. Lynda Resnick has been repeatedly described as a marketing genius for her ability to transform Fiji Water into a must-have accessory for environmentally-conscious celebrities and politicians, despite its heavy use of plastic and questionable commitment to environmentally sustainable practices. And oh, we are drinking the marketing at far greater rates than we are drinking the water. Our celebrities both enormous (Obama, Paris, and their ilk) and minor (the geekarati at the SXSW festival) can’t live without it. So neither can we. Whatever celebrities sell us? YUM. Damn the consequences.

It’s troubling, at the end of the story, that the company is not, as Anna Lenzer writes in her follow-up to the story (after Fiji Water spokesman Rob Six defended his company) doing anything about the military junta now controlling Fiji. “A UN official . . . in a recent commentary . . . singled out Fiji Water as the one company with enough leverage to force the junta to budge.”

The commentary, by the way, was titled “Why Obama should stop drinking Fiji water.”

Update: A spokesman for Roll International Corporation, the parent company of Fiji Water, contacted DailyFinance, claiming that there are factual errors in the piece. Roll International maintains that Fiji Water is not profitable, and that the company does not receive subsidies from the state of California.

Source

One has to wonder how many other Corporations are stealing Fiji Resources?

Considering the Poverty one would think any company or corporation would be a bit more responsible. Seems of course this is not the case however.

What is Poverty in Fiji

Poverty is a difficult concept to understand and maintain an objective perspective.

Poverty in Fiji identifies those households, which cannot afford the basic minimum nutritionally adequate and palatable diet. It also define as that situation in which people are unable to obtain sufficient amounts of food, water, shelter, clothing, education and health care to meet their basic needs.

This  poverty line is simply a certain level of income or expenditure below which an individual or family will be deprived of the basic necessities of life for a specified time  and period. It is calculated in terms of expenditure for a nutritionally adequate diet plus expenditure for non-food items such  rent, clothing, fuel etc.

Overview  of  Poverty in Fiji

In a recent study in Fiji it was found that one quarter of the household’s were classified as poor, but many more were in constant danger of sliding into poverty or destitution because their household income was so small. The study also found that the poor were not a homogenous group –poor people were not necessarily subsistence farmers, the unemployed or the lazy.  Most poor households had someone in employment. The basic needs poverty line in Fiji was $83 (gross income) per week at national level. Source

Of course with poverty comes Prostitution.

Poverty linked to prostitution

Monday, February 15, 2010

Prostitution can not be wiped out in Fiji as long as poverty exists, says the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) co-ordinator Shamima Ali.

Ms Ali says tougher laws on prostitution will impact but it will still exist.

“There are higher chances that prostitution will be pushed into being an underground activity,” she said.

“It is a very old profession and goes back so many years, and the poverty and lack of education for women is not helping either.”

Ms Ali said prostitution was fuelled by men’s desire for sex.

She said the Crime Decree was a good approach to fight sex crimes and the sex trade.

But, she said, the root of the problem was poverty and this had to be eradicated first.

Ms Ali said the level of poverty in some areas of the country was extreme and the FWCC was aware of cases where wives turned to prostitution to earn money for the family.

She said the sex trade provided easy and more money than legal employment.

Meanwhile, police, on the other hand, will crackdown on all those involved in the sex trade industry.

Police suspect that massage parlours and some hotels are involved in the trade.

An investigation by the police has come up with startling revelations that people are getting much more than just a massage at parlours, said the police spokesman, Sergeant Suliano Tevita.

“Our investigations have shown us that people are given rooms in massage parlours and we suspect that this is for the purpose of prostitution.”

Sgt Tevita said the implementation of the new anti-prostitution law in the Crimes Decree had given the police power to prosecute people associated with the sex trade industry.

“Similarly, hotel and motel owners and management can also face charges if police find them facilitating prostitution in their establishments,” he warned.

The Crimes Decree states that people who make a living off prostitution are liable for a jail term of six months, while people caught hiring prostitutes can get jail terms of up to 12 years.

Anyone found operating a brothel or services which procure prostitution are liable for prosecution. The penalties are harsher when the crime involves people under the age of 18.

Under the new decree, this crime is punishable by a prison sentence of 12 months. The decree also states that any person residing with a prostitute is also liable.

Punishment in regards to prostitution ranges from 12 years to three months in jail and also includes fines.  Source


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Monsanto seed business role revealed is squeezing out competitors

By Christopher Leonard

December 13 2009

ST. LOUIS – Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.’s business practices reveal how the world’s biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.

With Monsanto’s patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., the company also is using its wide reach to control the ability of new biotech firms to get wide distribution for their products, according to a review of several Monsanto licensing agreements and dozens of interviews with seed industry participants, agriculture and legal experts.

Declining competition in the seed business could lead to price hikes that ripple out to every family’s dinner table. That’s because the corn flakes you had for breakfast, soda you drank at lunch and beef stew you ate for dinner likely were produced from crops grown with Monsanto’s patented genes.

Monsanto’s methods are spelled out in a series of confidential commercial licensing agreements obtained by the AP. The contracts, as long as 30 pages, include basic terms for the selling of engineered crops resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, along with shorter supplementary agreements that address new Monsanto traits or other contract amendments.

The company has used the agreements to spread its technology — giving some 200 smaller companies the right to insert Monsanto’s genes in their separate strains of corn and soybean plants. But, the AP found, access to Monsanto’s genes comes at a cost, and with plenty of strings attached.

For example, one contract provision bans independent companies from breeding plants that contain both Monsanto’s genes and the genes of any of its competitors, unless Monsanto gives prior written permission — giving Monsanto the ability to effectively lock out competitors from inserting their patented traits into the vast share of U.S. crops that already contain Monsanto’s genes.

Monsanto’s business strategies and licensing agreements are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and at least two state attorneys general, who are trying to determine if the practices violate U.S. antitrust laws. The practices also are at the heart of civil antitrust suits filed against Monsanto by its competitors, including a 2004 suit filed by Syngenta AG that was settled with an agreement and ongoing litigation filed this summer by DuPont in response to a Monsanto lawsuit.

The suburban St. Louis-based agricultural giant said it’s done nothing wrong.

“We do not believe there is any merit to allegations about our licensing agreement or the terms within,” said Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles. He said he couldn’t comment on many specific provisions of the agreements because they are confidential and the subject of ongoing litigation.

“Our approach to licensing (with) many companies is pro-competitive and has enabled literally hundreds of seed companies, including all of our major direct competitors, to offer thousands of new seed products to farmers,” he said.

The benefit of Monsanto’s technology for farmers has been undeniable, but some of its major competitors and smaller seed firms claim the company is using strong-arm tactics to further its control.

“We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,” said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades. “The upshot of that is that it’s tightening Monsanto’s control, and makes it possible for them to increase their prices long term. And we’ve seen this happening the last five years, and the end is not in sight.”

At issue is how much power one company can have over seeds, the foundation of the world’s food supply. Without stiff competition, Monsanto could raise its seed prices at will, which in turn could raise the cost of everything from animal feed to wheat bread and cookies.

The price of seeds is already rising. Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.

Monsanto’s broad use of licensing agreements has made its biotech traits among the most widely and rapidly adopted technologies in farming history. These days, when farmers buy bags of seed with obscure brand names like AgVenture or M-Pride Genetics, they are paying for Monsanto’s licensed products.

One of the numerous provisions in the licensing agreements is a ban on mixing genes — or “stacking” in industry lingo — that enhance Monsanto’s power.

One contract provision likely helped Monsanto buy 24 independent seed companies throughout the Farm Belt over the last few years: that corn seed agreement says that if a smaller company changes ownership, its inventory with Monsanto’s traits “shall be destroyed immediately.”

Another provision from contracts earlier this decade_ regarding rebates — also help explain Monsanto’s rapid growth as it rolled out new products.

One contract gave an independent seed company deep discounts if the company ensured that Monsanto’s products would make up 70 percent of its total corn seed inventory. In its 2004 lawsuit, Syngenta called the discounts part of Monsanto’s “scorched earth campaign” to keep Syngenta’s new traits out of the market.

Quarles said the discounts were used to entice seed companies to carry Monsanto products when the technology was new and farmers hadn’t yet used it. Now that the products are widespread, Monsanto has discontinued the discounts, he said.

The Monsanto contracts reviewed by the AP prohibit seed companies from discussing terms, and Monsanto has the right to cancel deals and wipe out the inventory of a business if the confidentiality clauses are violated.

Thomas Terral, chief executive officer of Terral Seed in Louisiana, said he recently rejected a Monsanto contract because it put too many restrictions on his business. But Terral refused to provide the unsigned contract to AP or even discuss its contents because he was afraid Monsanto would retaliate and cancel the rest of his agreements.

“I would be so tied up in what I was able to do that basically I would have no value to anybody else,” he said. “The only person I would have value to is Monsanto, and I would continue to pay them millions in fees.”

Independent seed company owners could drop their contracts with Monsanto and return to selling conventional seed, but they say it could be financially ruinous. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene has become the industry standard over the last decade, and small companies fear losing customers if they drop it. It also can take years of breeding and investment to mix Monsanto’s genes into a seed company’s product line, so dropping the genes can be costly.

Monsanto acknowledged that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are seeking documents and interviewing company employees about its marketing practices. The DOJ wouldn’t comment.

A spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the office is examining possible antitrust violations. Additionally, two sources familiar with an investigation in Texas said state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office is considering the same issues. States have the authority to enforce federal antitrust law, and attorneys general are often involved in such cases.

Monsanto chairman and chief executive officer Hugh Grant told investment analysts during a conference call this fall that the price increases are justified by the productivity boost farmers get from the company’s seeds. Farmers and seed company owners agree that Monsanto’s technology has boosted yields and profits, saving farmers time they once spent weeding and money they once spent on pesticides.

But recent price hikes have still been tough to swallow on the farm.

“It’s just like I got hit with bad weather and got a poor yield. It just means I’ve got less in the bottom line,” said Markus Reinke, a corn and soybean farmer near Concordia, Mo. who took over his family’s farm in 1965. “They can charge because they can do it, and get away with it. And us farmers just complain, and shake our heads and go along with it.”

Any Justice Department case against Monsanto could break new ground in balancing a company’s right to control its patented products while protecting competitors’ right to free and open competition, said Kevin Arquit, former director of the Federal Trade Commission competition bureau and now a antitrust attorney with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York.

“These are very interesting issues, and not just for the companies, but for the Justice Department,” Arquit said. “They’re in an area where there is uncertainty in the law and there are consumer welfare implications and government policy implications for whatever the result is.”

Other seed companies have followed Monsanto’s lead by including restrictive clauses in their licensing agreements, but their products only penetrate smaller segments of the U.S. seed market. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene, on the other hand, is in such a wide array of crops that its licensing agreements can have a massive effect on the rules of the marketplace.

Monsanto was only a niche player in the seed business just 12 years ago. It rose to the top thanks to innovation by its scientists and aggressive use of patent law by its attorneys.

First came the science, when Monsanto in 1996 introduced the world’s first commercial strain of genetically engineered soybeans. The Roundup Ready plants were resistant to the herbicide, allowing farmers to spray Roundup whenever they wanted rather than wait until the soybeans had grown enough to withstand the chemical.

The company soon released other genetically altered crops, such as corn plants that produced a natural pesticide to ward off bugs. While Monsanto had blockbuster products, it didn’t yet have a big foothold in a seed industry made up of hundreds of companies that supplied farmers.

That’s where the legal innovations came in, as Monsanto became among the first to widely patent its genes and gain the right to strictly control how they were used. That control let it spread its technology through licensing agreements, while shaping the marketplace around them.

Back in the 1970s, public universities developed new traits for corn and soybean seeds that made them grow hardy and resist pests. Small seed companies got the traits cheaply and could blend them to breed superior crops without restriction. But the agreements give Monsanto control over mixing multiple biotech traits into crops.

The restrictions even apply to taxpayer-funded researchers.

Roger Boerma, a research professor at the University of Georgia, is developing specialized strains of soybeans that grow well in southeastern states, but his current research is tangled up in such restrictions from Monsanto and its competitors.

“It’s made one level of our life incredibly challenging and difficult,” Boerma said.

The rules also can restrict research. Boerma halted research on a line of new soybean plants that contain a trait from a Monsanto competitor when he learned that the trait was ineffective unless it could be mixed with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene.

Boerma said he hasn’t considered asking Monsanto’s permission to mix its traits with the competitor’s trait.

“I think the co-mingling of their trait technology with another company’s trait technology would likely be a serious problem for them,” he said.

Quarles pointed out that Monsanto has signed agreements with several companies allowing them to stack their traits with Monsanto’s. After Syngenta settled its lawsuit, for example, the companies struck a broad cross-licensing accord.

At the same time, Monsanto’s patent rights give it the authority to say how independent companies use its traits, Quarles said.

“Please also keep in mind that, as the (intellectual property developer), it is our right to determine who will obtain rights to our technology and for what purpose,” he said.

Monsanto’s provision requiring companies to destroy seeds containing Monsanto’s traits if a competitor buys them prohibited DuPont or other big firms from bidding against Monsanto when it snapped up two dozen smaller seed companies over the last five years, said David Boies, a lawyer representing DuPont who previously was a prosecutor on the federal antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

Competitive bids from companies like DuPont could have made it far more expensive for Monsanto to bring the smaller companies into its fold. But that contract provision prevented bidding wars, according to DuPont.

“If the independent seed company is losing their license and has to destroy their seeds, they’re not going to have anything, in effect, to sell,” Boies said. “It requires them to destroy things — destroy things they paid for — if they go competitive. That’s exactly the kind of restriction on competitive choice that the antitrust laws outlaw.”

Quarles said some of the Monsanto contracts let companies sell their inventory for a period of time, rather than be required to destroy it. Seed companies also don’t have to pay royalty fees on the bags of seed they destroyed.

“Simply put, it was designed to facilitate early adoption of the technology,” he said.

Some independent seed company owners say they feel increasingly pinched as Monsanto cements its leadership in the industry.

“They have the capital, they have the resources, they own lots of companies, and buying more. We’re small town, they’re Wall Street,” said Bill Cook, co-owner of M-Pride Genetics seed company in Garden City, Mo., who also declined to discuss or provide the agreements. “It’s very difficult to compete in this environment against companies like Monsanto.

Source

Boycotting Monsanto would be the thing to do. They do everything they can to dominate the world food supply.

For more information on Monsanto and other GM Companies

Millions Against Monsanto Petition

Related Article

GM crops are not superior, as we are lead to believe.

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Monsanto seed business role revealed is squeezing out competitors  
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Iran approves Uranium exchange plan

October 29, 2009

Iran has agreed to a plan to export its reserves of enriched uranium to have them processed into nuclear fuel rods, but it wants further negotiations over some details.

The news comes from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was speaking on Thursday on national TV.

“We welcome the fuel exchange, nuclear cooperation, building of power plants and reactors and we are ready to cooperate,” he said.

He added that Tehran’s commitment to the deal is a response to the international community’s abandoning of the “politics of confrontation” over Iran’s nuclear dossier.
However, once again, Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic will not give up its rights to have nuclear power. “As long as this government is in power, it will not retreat one iota on the undeniable rights of the Iranian nation,” the Iranian president declared.

Iranian negotiator Ali Asghar Soltanieh has delivered Tehran’s response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna. He also announced that some “important technical and economic amendments” to the draft agreement have been proposed by Iran. However, no further details have been made public yet.

According to Iranian media reports, Tehran will want two changes to the initial plan. Firstly, the Iranians will offer to transfer their low-enriched uranium abroad in small portions rather than all at once. The second modification would insist on transferring enriched fuel back to Tehran’s research reactor soon after every batch of low-enriched uranium is sent abroad.

The question is whether the international community and the IAEA would agree to such amendments.

According to the initial deal – which was sponsored by the IAEA and negotiated between Iran, Russia, France and the United States last week – most of Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium will be shipped to Russia for further enrichment. France will then produce fuel rods from the material, using American technology.

Iran needs fuel rods to run a research reactor built in the country before the Islamic Revolution. Its current fuel load will soon run low.

Meanwhile, the IAEA monitors returned Thursday after visiting Iran’s recently revealed uranium enrichment facility, known as Fordo, near the town of Qom. The inspectors are now preparing a report on their findings which will be announced in November. The fact that the Iranians did let the inspectors into the facility, which was kept secret up until September 21, is seen as Tehran’s readiness to cooperate.

Thursday’s news relaxes tension over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has insisted that it is purely for peaceful purposes, but several countries including Israel, the United States and Great Britain suspect that Iran wants to make a nuclear weapon.

Western powers have called for imposing harsher sanctions against the Islamic Republic and there have even been speculations of a possibility of Israel launching a preemptive strike against Iran. Russia, however, has insisted on a diplomatic approach to the problem and negotiations.

Source

Considering what Israel and NATO have done they should be the ones being sanctioned.  They are the ones polluting the planet with Toxic, Poisonous, Radiation not Iran.

Israel, the United States and Great Britain are all guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Anything they say is irrelevant until they clean up their own Nuclear weapons and have those who are responsible for war crimes charged and jailed.  Until then their word means absolutely nothing. They are hypocrites.

Iran has not started any wars as the above three, nor have they killed millions of people. NATO is not innocent either.

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America: Arms dealer to the stars! Who’s the number one weapons broker in the world, again? Take a guess

By Mark Morford

September 9, 2009

And then along comes one of those stories that makes you cringe down to your very core, that makes you see our semi-fine nation and the world around it through a bleak and unforgiving lens indeed. No matter how hard you try and how you spin the story and flip it around and try to forcibly shape it into something less slightly nauseating, all you can do is realize that sometimes ugliness and violence win the day, the year, the planet.

So it is that a new report has just emerged, announcing with a sort of drab and bitter capitalistic glee that America is once again the number one weapons dealer in the world. It’s true: We sell more guns, more major weaponry, tanks and rocket launchers, fighters and Gatling guns and all sorts of brutal devices specifically designed to destroy human life and induce fear and dread and all manner of sadistic horror, than any other developed nation on the planet. By a long shot.

But that’s not all. Despite the bleak economy, despite what you might expect to be a major downturn in such transactions, sales of American-made guns and weapons of mass annihilation worldwide are actually way up. As far as U.S.-made weapons are concerned, it appears to be a boom time for war and death and conflict. Isn’t that fun to swallow with your hopes and dreams for a peaceful and calmly evolving future?

So far ahead in weapons sales to the world are we, it’s not even a contest. We own the game. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, while overall weapons sales were indeed down due to global economic blight, sales of U.S. weaponry rose more than 50 percent in a single year, totaling about $37 billion, up from $25 billion the year before.

Translation: the U.S. now owns a whopping 68 percent of the arms games worldwide. We’re just like Wal-Mart, if Wal-Mart sold Browning M2s and Stingers and flamethrowers. Isn’t that reassuring?

Sure, you can water it down a bit, maybe propose to your exhausted soul that we only sell said weapons to our friendly, peace-seeking allies so they may protect themselves from various evildoers and swarthy terrorists whom we also detest and wish death and hate upon, or you could tell yourself that most of said weaponry is really for defense and for shielding babies and puppies and virgins from the darker nature of man.

You can even go so far as to suggest that our arms deals are not promoting war, per se, but actually promoting peace, in that inverse, bad-is-good, multiple-wrongs-make-a-right sort of way. It’s the classic, ridiculous NRA argument: if everyone owns a few thousand warheads, no one will shoot anyone simply because they don’t want to get shot themselves. It’s pathetic nonsense, but hey, whatever gets you through, right?

Sad fact is, capitalism trumps all rational arguments, all notions that we are out only to promote good in the world, and we will sell weapons to just about anyone anywhere short of Al Qaeda itself. Guerrillas? Dictators? Drug lords? If they somehow serve our global agenda, hell yes. We sell billions in arms to our pals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, regimes second only in oppression and totalitarianism to the Taliban. We buy their oil, we turn around and sell them fighter jets and grenades and sniper rifles. It’s a win-win, where everybody loses.

Of course, it’s all nothing new. America has always been the world’s foremost arms dealer. Who can forget one of the classic hypocrisies of all time, Bush’s pathetic wail that we must stop the development of weapons of mass destruction in countries we do not like, when of course the United States owns more WMD than any developed nation on the planet? We argue it’s all about intent, all about protecting our vital interests. Which may be partly true. The other truth is, it’s also all about profit, ethics and morals bedamned.

I can’t help but recall that cute little scene in Iron Man, when Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark character, a cocky, heartless arms dealer, finally realizes the horrible human consequences of his trade, what sort of mayhem and death he has helped promote, and decides to turn his life around and fight for justice and help save the world.

Isn’t that a charming little cartoon fable? Isn’t that just ridiculous, ultraviolent fantasy? Don’t we nevertheless love to rub such childish ideological balm all over ourselves and think that’s really what America is all about, that selling death to oppressive regimes is merely a necessary evil and, gosh golly, if we could, we’d put a stop to all such sales tomorrow in favor of ensuring a peaceful and utopian future? Sure we do. In many ways, such a mass delusion is the only way we can really get out of bed in the morning.

I’m not exactly certain how you counterbalance such bleak data. I’m not sure where to look for an equally powerful story to battle the dour fact that we are, at heart, a rather ruthless capitalist military juggernaut that will gladly sell a sharpening stone to an axe murderer if it serves our purposes and makes Lockheed Martin a tidy profit.

Where do you look for proof that $37 billion in weapons sales does not, in fact, exert a simply massive downward thrust on the desire to imagine humanity is moving in an ultimately positive, hopeful, nonviolent direction? The green movement? Solar power? Hybrid cars? As if.

Maybe you don’t look at all. Maybe there is no such story, no way to offset the fact that war and violence are a major engine of capitalism, and always will be. Maybe you only swallow it whole, hope it doesn’t tear a permanent gash in your spirit, and eagerly await Iron Man 2.

Source

Weapons that do things like in the two links below

Each link contains numerous links. Seeing what these weapons do should be enlightening.

America promotes wars. They do it for profit. Politicians take donations at election (bribes) to help promote wars all over the world.

Some Politicians have stocks in the war industry. Profits for them as long as there is war.

If not that they have stocks in oil and gas companies, or like Cheny’s Haliburton.  All war profits in their pockets. Corruption running rapid for profit.

All this at the expense of the innocent victims who die, the destruction of countries and the theft of their resources.

The war machine is also one of the main polluter on the planet leaving behind things like radiation from DU, cluster bombs, land mines etc. The list goes on an on for an eternity.

Then American companies go in and take over anything and everything they possibly can. More profit.

Stop war starve the war machine.

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Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 3:21 am  Comments Off on America: Arms dealer to the stars! Who’s the number one weapons broker in the world, again? Take a guess  
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IMF confirmed international loan to Latvia

By Nina Kolyako, BC, Riga,
December 24 2008

Yesterday evening, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) board confirmed an international loan to Latvia.

Latvia will receive EUR 7.5 billion (LVL 5.27 billion) worth of financial support, writes LETA.

The European Union plans to allocate a medium-term loan to Latvia worth up to EUR 3.1 billion (LVL 2.18 billion).

Also participating in issuing Latvia the loan is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – EUR 1.7 billion (LVL 1.19 billion), Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway – EUR 1.8 billion (LVL 1.27 billion), and the World Bank – EUR 0.4 billion (LVL 0.28 billion).

The European Reconstruction and Development Bank, the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia will allocate Latvia another EUR 0.5 billion (LVL 0.35 billion), which is a total of EUR 7.5 billion (LVL 5.27 billion).

The loan will be issued to Latvia gradually over the next three years.

Source

Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 4:38 am  Comments Off on IMF confirmed international loan to Latvia  
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Madoff investor found dead of possible suicide, authorities say

December 23 2008

By ADAM GOLDMAN

NEW YORK

The founder of an investment fund that lost millions with Bernard Madoff was found dead Tuesday at his Madison Avenue office of a possible suicide, authorities said.

Authorities found the body of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet just before 8 a.m. ET at his office of Access International Advisors, located on Madison Avenue a couple of blocks from Rockefeller Center.

A French newspaper is reporting that the 65-year-old de la Villehuchet committed suicide. The New York medical examiner spokeswoman says it has not determined the cause of death yet.

Madoff is accused of running a US$50-billion Ponzi scheme that wiped out investors around the world, with big funds like de la Villehuchet’s $1.4-billion Access International Advisers being especially hard hit.

A former business partner said that de la Villehuchet came from a long line of aristocratic Frenchmen, with the Magon part of his name referring to one of France’s most powerful families.

His fund enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe’s high society and jet set to garner clients. Among them was Philippe Junot, a French businessman and friend who is the former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.

De la Villehuchet, the former chairman and CEO of Credit Lyonnais Securities USA, was also known as a keen sailor who regularly participated in regattas and was a member of the New York Yacht Club.

He lived in an affluent suburb in Westchester County with his wife. There was no answer Tuesday at the family’s two-story house, which has a majestic view of a pond.

“He’s irreproachable,” said Bill Rapavy, who was Access International’s chief operating officer before founding his own firm in 2007.

De la Villehuchet’s death came as swindled investors began looking for ways to possibly recoup their losses. Hedge funds, which lost big to Madoff, are also coming up against investor lawsuits, since they had a fiduciary responsibility to protect their clients.

A handful of lawsuits have already been filed, all claiming that the hedge funds failed to properly vet Madoff and overlooked some red flags that could have steered them away.

Associated Press Writers Rachel Beck and Joe Bel Bruno in New York and Jim Fitzgerald in New Rochelle, N.Y., contributed to this report.

Source

FBI diverts anti-terror agents to Bernard Madoff $50 billion swindle

Madoff house arrest ordered as European banks reel

Madoff victims threaten legal action

UK: Council’s pension fund ‘caught up in Bernard Madoff’s Wall Street fraud’

Bank billions at risk from Wall Street Fraud

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm  Comments Off on Madoff investor found dead of possible suicide, authorities say  
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FBI diverts anti-terror agents to Bernard Madoff $50 billion swindle

December 22 2008

Brian A Pounds/Connecticut Post

From left; Doug Chavenello, president of Firefighters Union Local 1426, and Bob Smith, secretary, listen to the meeting of the Joint Retirement Board at Independence Hall in Fairfield. The town’s pension fund may have lost over $40 million in a scheme by Wall Street hedge fund manager Bernard Madoff

The FBI has been forced to transfer agents from its counter-terrorism divisions to work on Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion fraud scheme as victims of the biggest scam in the world continue to emerge.

Only ten days after Mr Madoff confessed to his two sons that he had created a giant fraud, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Wall Street regulator, have narrowed the focus of their inquiries to ascertain which individuals and funds helped him. They are questioning other employees of Madoff Securities and are also examining the role of feeder funds that provided Mr Madoff with clients and capital.

It is understood that the US authorities believe it would have been impossible for the financier to have sustained a fraud of such magnitude over a number of years without significant assistance.

While the FBI and SEC trawled through documentation seized from three floors of the Manhattan headquarters of Mr Madoff, 70, more individuals and organisations who had fallen prey to the scheme were discovered. Members of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, on the wealthy Upper East Side of Manhattan, are estimated to have lost about $2 billion (£1.4 billion) between them. Of these Ira Rennert, the chairman of the synagogue board, had about $200 million invested in the fund.

It is believed that J. Ezra Merkin, the president of the synagogue, introduced clients to Mr Madoff and gave him access to prominent Jewish charities and universities. The fund of Mr Merkin, Ascot Partners, had about $1.8 billion invested in the schemes.

At the weekend it emerged that Burt Ross, a former banker at LF Rothschild, and once the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, was another victim. Mr Ross estimated that he had lost about $5 million, the bulk of his personal wealth.

Two classes of victim are emerging in the Madoff scandal: those who had a direct relationship with him and fund of funds investors, where one hedge fund invests in another. The biggest of the latter – so far – appears to be Walter M. Noel, who founded Fairfield Greenwich Group in 1983. Mr Noel marketed his investment services to the upper crust of the financial elite, introducing his international clients to Madoff funds.

Mr Noel ran his business from Connecticut, but about 95 per cent of his business was derived from overseas money. It is estimated that Fairfield Greenwich stands to lose $7.5 billion from the collapse of the Madoff scheme.

At the other end of the spectrum the town pension scheme in Fairfield, Connecticut — apparently unconnected to the fund belonging to Mr Noel – suffered a $45 million loss for its firefighters, police officers and teachers.

American regulators have sought to compile evidence against Mr Madoff, who is now electronically tagged and this weekend was placed on 24-hour curfew in his East 64th Street New York apartment.

The FBI and SEC are under increasing pressure from Washington to explain how they could have allowed a scam of such magnitude to operate and flourish – especially after a preliminary inquiry within the SEC found that it had been tipped off several times in the past decade about Mr Madoff’s schemes.

Harry Markopolos, a derivatives expert who once worked for a rival fund, spent ten years urging the SEC to investigate Mr Madoff. In numerous reports, including a 19-page document written in November 2005 entitled The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud, Mr Markopolos picked apart the investment strategy of Mr Madoff.

Some claims by Mr Markopolos were anecdotal – “I have spoken to the heads of various Wall Street equity derivative trading desks and every single one of the senior managers I spoke with told me that Bernie Madoff was a fraud” – but vast chunks of his accusations involve detailed analysis of Mr Madoff’s investment strategy. He questions the way that Mr Madoff charged for commissions and alleges that Mr Madoff used the names of leading investment banks such as UBS and Merrill Lynch to lend credibility to his schemes.

He also claims that the overall investment strategy of Mr Madoff would have been impossible to carry out. Mr Madoff sought to lure investors with the promise of 12 per cent returns by buying blue-chip stocks and insuring against the possibility that their value would fall by selling derivatives – a process known as hedging. Mr Markopolos argues, however, that for Mr Madoff to have fulfilled such a strategy he would have regularly done more business than the entire New York market in those securities.

Barack Obama, the President-elect, has accused US regulators of being “asleep at the switch” after it emerged that Mr Madoff had been questioned by the SEC in 2006 but no fraud had been discovered.

Mr Madoff’s business has now been liquidated. He has been charged on one count of fraud and awaits trial.

THE BIGGEST LOSERS

Fairfield Greenwich Group (investment management firm) $7.5 billion

Tremont Group (hedge fund) $3.3 billion

Banco Santander (Spanish bank) $2.87 billion

Bank Medici (Austrian bank) $2.1 billion

Ascot Partners (hedge fund founded by J. Ezra Merkin) $1.8 billion

Access International Advisors (New York investment advisers) $1.4 billion

Fortis Bank Nederland (Dutch bank) $1.35 billion

Union Bancaire Privée (Swiss bank) $1 billion

HSBC (British bank) $1 billion

RBS (British bank) $599 million

Natixis (French investment bank) $554 million

Carl Shapiro (founder of Kay Windsor) $545 million

BNP Paribas (French bank) $431 million

BBVA (Spanish bank) $369 million

Man Group (British hedge fund) $360 million

Reichmuth & Co (Swiss private bank) $327 million

Nomura (Japanese broker) $304 million

Maxam Capital Management (fund of funds based in Connecticut) $280 million

EIM (European investment firm) $230 million

Aozora Bank (Japanese bank) $137 million

AXA (French insurer) $123 million

Yeshiva University (private, New York) $110 million

UniCredit (Italian bank) $92 million

UBI Banca (Italian bank) $86 million

Swiss Life Holding (Swiss insurer) $78.9 million

Great Eastern Holdings (Singapore insurer) $64 million

Nordea Bank (Swedish bank) $59 million

M&B Capital Advisers (Spanish broker) $52.8 million

Hyposwiss (Swiss private bank) $50 million

Banque Bénédict Hentsch & Cie (Swiss private bank) $48.8 million

Fairfield, Connecticut (town pension fund for firefighters, policemen and teachers) $42 million

Source

Bad for investors, good for lawyers

City regulators probe Madoff’s London firm

Madoff’s UK arm holding £100m assets

Madoff house arrest ordered as European banks reel

Bush considering ‘orderly’ auto bankruptcy

By Jennifer Loven
December 18 2008

WASHINGTON

The Bush administration is looking at “orderly” bankruptcy as a possible way to deal with the desperately ailing U.S. auto industry, the White House said today as carmakers readied more plant closings and a half million Americans filed new jobless claims.

With General Motors, Chrysler and the rest of Detroit anxiously holding its breath and waiting for a federal rescue, White House press secretary Dana Perino said, “There’s an orderly way to do bankruptcies that provides for more of a soft landing. I think that’s what we would be talking about.”

President George W. Bush, asked about an auto bailout, said he hadn’t decided what he would do but didn’t want to leave a mess for Barack Obama, who takes office a month from Saturday.

Bush, like Perino, spoke of the idea of bankruptcies orchestrated by the federal government as a possible way to go — without committing to it.

“Under normal circumstances, no question bankruptcy court is the best way to work through credit and debt and restructuring,” he said during a speech and question-and-answer session at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “These aren’t normal circumstances. That’s the problem.”

Perino said the White House was “very close” to a decision — though she wouldn’t give a timetable. She emphasized there were still several possible approaches to assisting the automakers, including short-term loans from the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout program.

The Big Three automakers said anew that bankruptcy wasn’t the answer, as did an official of the United Auto Workers who called the idea unworkable and even dangerous. GM said a report that it and Chrysler had restarted talks to combine was untrue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Capitol Hill that grim new unemployment data heightened the urgency for the administration “to prevent the imminent insolvency of the domestic auto industry.”

The California Democrat said Bush has the legal authority to act now, and should attach the accountability standards that were included in a $14 billion House-passed and Bush-supported carmaker bailout that died in the Senate last week. That plan would have given the government, through a Bush-appointed “car czar,” veto power over major business decisions at any auto company that received federal loans.

Pelosi spoke after the government announced that initial claims for unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 554,000 last week.

The comments in Washington came a day after Chrysler announced it was closing all its North American manufacturing plants for at least a month as it, General Motors and Ford Motor await word on government action. General Motors also has been closing plants, and it and Chrysler have said they might not have enough money to pay their bills in a matter of weeks.

Prices of GM and Ford stocks were down sharply today after the remarks out of the White House. Ford, unlike General Motors and Chrysler, is not seeking billions in federal bailout loans, but a collapse of the other two could hurt Ford as well.

Alan Reuther, the United Auto Workers’ legislative director, said the union urged the administration during a meeting this week to follow the provisions included in the House-passed auto aid bill.

Congressional aides in both parties who have been closely following the discussions suggested the talk of bankruptcy could be a tactic to extract more hefty concessions from the companies and union in exchange for granting short-term loans from Treasury’s financial industry rescue fund.

Perino said one factor preventing an announcement of action by the administration is that discussions continue with the various sides that would have to sign on to a managed bankruptcy — entities such as labor and equity holders in addition to the companies themselves.

A senior administration official said the talks between Bush officials and the Big Three and their stakeholders amount to information-gathering, not negotiating.

The White House has repeatedly emphasized its opposition to “disorderly bankruptcy” — presumably a Chapter 7 filing that would effectively shut down a company and require liquidation of assets. That has left on the table the possibility of forcing one or more automakers into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows a firm to keep operating while under a court’s purview.

Harlan Platt, who teaches corporate turnarounds at Northeastern University in Boston, said the government may be waiting for an offer of an ownership stake in the companies, much as it received in return for capital plowed into banks. “You really have to ask the question: If this is good enough for Wall Street, why isn’t it good enough for Detroit?” he said.

Today, spokesmen for Chrysler, GM and Ford generally referred to their previous comments that bankruptcy was not a workable solution. The car companies argue that no one would buy a vehicle from a bankrupt company for fear that the company might not be around to honor warranties.

“We continue to work with the administration to find a solution to this liquidity crisis,” said GM spokesman Tony Cervone.

Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan noted previous statements against bankruptcy by CEO Robert Nardelli. Financing for even a prepackaged bankruptcy would be difficult to get in the current tight credit market, Chrysler has said.

The National Automobile Dealers Association also spoke out against bankruptcy for car companies “in any way shape or form, orderly or disorderly, prepackaged or unpackaged, managed or unmanaged,” said spokesman Bailey Wood.

Bush said the auto industry is “obviously very fragile” and he is worried about what an out-and-out collapse without Washington involvement “would do to the psychology” of the markets.

“There still is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

At the same time, the president said anew that he is worried about “putting good money after bad,” meaning taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to prop up companies that can’t survive the long term.

He revealed one other consideration — that Obama will become president in just over a month.

“I thought about what it would be like for me to become president during this period. I believe that good policy is not to dump him a major catastrophe on his first day in office,” Bush said.

———

Writers Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Ken Thomas in Washington and Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this story.

Source

Auto workers rally in Jackson

Canadian Governments willing to help Auto Industry

Auto jobs are also being affected abroad as well.

Workers protest massive wave of job cuts

The Top Ten Ethics Scandals of 2008

December 18 2008

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released its year-end list of the “top” 10 ethics scandals of 2008. Why isn’t the recent criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the list? Well, for one, it’s not a Washington-centered problem. But Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, adds that while the Blagojevich case may be the flavor of the week right now, she thinks the scandals on her administration’s list will have more of an impact in the long run. Here they are:

1. “Unchecked Congressional Ethics”: CREW wants Congress to have a high-powered ethics office with subpoena power. MoJo Blog covered the vote on this earlier this year; we looked at this issue last year, too.

2. “No Guarantee that Bush Administration Records will be Properly Archived”: We’ve been keeping you up to date on the ongoing missing White House emails problem.

3. “Speech or Debate Clause”: Lots of politicians who are charged with crimes seek to have their indictments dismissed under the “Speech and Debate” clause of the Constitution, which they claim protects anything in their congressional office from being used against them in court on the grounds that its “legislative material.” Sloan says that this may be the biggest of the ten scandals her organization highlighted. If Blagocevich had been a member of congress, Sloan says, he would have been protected from much of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation. Law enforcement would not have been able to tap his office phone or include anything he did in the course of his legislative work as part of an indictment, Sloan says. And both Democrats and Republicans are protecting this hard-line interpretation of the speech and debate clause. “This is a bipartisan issue of protecting members accused of corruption from investigation and prosecution,” Sloan says. Mother Jones covered this problem as early as 2006, with the raid on the offices of now ex-Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson.

4. “The Pay-to-Play Congress”: You’ve heard about this from John McCain and Barack Obama, who both talked about the power of earmarks to corrupt the legislative process. Every year, CREW notes the most egregious instances of earmark abuse, when campaign donors get earmarks from the politicians who they support. We wrote about corruption expert Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress effort and will have more with Lessig next week.

5. “Enriching Family with Campaign Cash”: CREW has released two reports on this problem, “Family Affair – House” and “Family Affair – Senate.” We noted the most recent offender, Charlie Rangel.

6. “Controversial Presidential Pardons”: The president’s pardon power is essentially unlimited, and that has CREW worried about what President Bush will do with it before he leaves office. Elizabeth Gettelman wrote about the hypocrisy of commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence but ignoring Marion Jones. And Bruce Falconer asked if pardoning “all those involved in the application of what [the Bush] administration called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques'” would be wise.

7. “VA Officials Intentionally Misdiagnosing PTSD”: CREW broke a story earlier this year about VA officials being pressed to misdiagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a cost-cutting measure. In September, Bruce Falconer wrote a story for the print magazine about whether the Bush administration had “maxed out the military.”

8. “Bailout Oversight”: The government spent $700 billion and all you got was a few bank failures. We’ve covered the hearings and brought you the latest. Most recently, we looked at the Fannie/Freddie bailout and asked about Treasury’s blank check.

9. “Political Calculations Dictate Border Fence Placement”: Ray L. Hunt has land that falls on both sides of the border fence, but CREW says he’s getting special treatment because he’s a Bush “pioneer.” That kind of suction wouldn’t be unusual for Hunt: in July, Laura Rozen wrote about how Hunt seems to have almost unlimited access to the White House (and, in this case, to Kurdish oil.)

10. “A Politicized Bush Justice Department”: To prevent the abuse of the courts for political ends, the DOJ was traditionally the least-politicized of all the executive branch departments. That all changed when Bush took office. In 2007, Daniel Schulman was among the first to document how the conservative Federalist society may have influenced personnel decisions at the DOJ. Stephanie Mencimer covered another interesting aspect of this story in May when she examined the Justice Department’s reluctance to release documents from the 2002 GOP phone-jamming in New Hampshire. And Stephanie was also there for the most unsurprising moment of the DOJ politicization saga: Karl Rove’s failure to show up for a hearing on the subject in July.

It seems unlikely that the first year of the Obama administration will match up to the last year of the Bush administration in terms of ethics-scandal-potential. But we’ll be here, keeping an eye on everyone, Barack Obama included. Stick with us.

(You can find a PDF version of CREW’s full report on the “top ten” scandals here)

Source

And of course we must not forget more recent revelations.

UK: Council’s pension fund ‘caught up in Bernard Madoff’s Wall Street fraud’

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

Media Search in the US

Write your local paper and denounce any possible planned pardons for crimes committed in the “war on terror”. Here are some sample letters and talking points you can follow.

Lie by Lie:  Iraq War Timeline

Madoff victims threaten legal action

Banks and investment firms blamed for introducing clients to ‘$50bn fraudster’

By Stephen Foley in New York
December 17 2008

The victims of the world’s biggest fraud are raising harsh questions about how Bernard Madoff was able to run his $50bn (£33bn) scam for so long without his staff, the authorities or his trading partners noticing.

A firestorm of legal action is gathering as individuals who lost their life savings and charities threatened to pursue the banks and investment firms that made their ill-fated introduction to Mr Madoff.

“If this were a traditional bank robbery, the eyewitness reports would say Mr Madoff walked out with billions of dollars as someone held the door open for him,” said Jeffrey Zwerling, a lawyer representing some of the victims. “There is just no way that this happens without help of some kind.”

The fall-out from Mr Madoff’s arrest on Thursday is being felt around the world as banks, hedge funds, charitable organisations and thousands of well-to-do individuals tot up their losses. With each passing hour, new victims come to light, often in the tight-knit world of Jewish philanthropy, where Mr Madoff managed cash for numerous charities and for many of their biggest donors.

Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US financial regulator, said last night that he was “gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade” and that he had ordered “full and immediate review of the past allegations regarding Mr Madoff and his firm and the reasons they were not found credible”.

More European finance houses confessed to losses, including Crédit Mutuel, France’s second-largest bank. Regulators in Spain said 224 investment funds in the country had been exposed and faced losses of €107m (£97m). Among the celebrity victims revealed yesterday is Uma Thurman. Her husband, Arpad Busson, had £145m invested with Mr Madoff through his hedge fund. A charity connected to Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood director, was already among the list of victims. UK banks HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander – owner of Abbey and Alliance & Leicester – have previously admitted exposure of more than $5bn between them.

The breathtaking fraud, committed over many years by one of Wall Street’s best-respected investment managers, was uncovered only when Mr Madoff confessed to his two sons a week ago that he was “finished”. In a criminal lawsuit filed the next day, public claims that Madoff Investment Securities was managing $17bn of client money and had made double-digit returns every year for almost a decade were “all just one big lie”, he had told them.

Mr Madoff was running a giant pyramid scheme, paying out to existing investors with money coming in from new ones. But as the credit crunch began to bite, investment dwindled and there was a surge in requests to cash out. It proved to be his undoing.

Lawyers said the investment managers who recommended that their clients invest with Mr Madoff should have investigated his methods, which he had shrouded in mystery. They pointed to red flags going back as far as 1999, when Harry Markopolos, a securities industry executive, urged the SEC to investigate Madoff Investment Securities. Last year, investigators hired by potential investors urged them not to invest because they were suspicious.

The New York Law School – which fears losing $3m of its endowment fund – launched a lawsuit against one of its financial managers, Ascot Partners, Ascot’s boss, Ezra Merkin, and the auditor, BDO Seidman. The defendants “recklessly or with gross negligence caused and permitted $1.8bn, virtually the entire investment capital of Ascot” to be handed over to Mr Madoff, according to the suit. Separately, Yeshiva University said it was considering its options after it lost about $110m.

Mr Madoff is due in court today for a bail hearing. He was released on a $10bn bond last week but has failed to find the required three co-guarantors. Meanwhile, details are emerging of the two separate sets of books he kept: ones showing the real losses, the other detailing the fictitious trading and profits, which he would mail to investors.

Mr Madoff has told the FBI he acted alone. His sons, Andrew and Mark, work in a different part of the business and the Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, did not suggest his brother Peter was involved.

The victim: A charity devoted to the poor

As well as the super-rich circling Mr Madoff in his playgrounds of Palm Beach, Florida, and Long Island, New York, there are scores of philanthropic victims of his record-breaking fraud, the JEHT Foundation among them. Since it was formed in 2000, it has given away $62m to fund research, to lobby for progressive reforms, and to prop up projects in some of the most deprived areas of the US. It harnessed the fortune of the late real estate mogul Norman Levy, but the family’s money was invested with Mr Madoff, and is probably now gone.

Source

Bank billions at risk from Wall Street Fraud

Workers protest massive wave of job cuts

Holding a banner reading, “Destruction of employment,” Japanese workers shout slogans during a protest rally against job cuts by top Japanese companies in front of the headquarters of Nippon Keidanren, Japan’s largest business federation, in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec . 16, 2008. About 200 protesters accused Japanese corporate leaders of sacrificing their jobs to protect their profits amid the global slowdown. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Holding a banner reading, “Destruction of employment,” Japanese workers shout slogans during a protest rally against job cuts by top Japanese companies in front of the headquarters of Nippon Keidanren, Japan’s largest business federation, in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec . 16, 2008. About 200 protesters accused Japanese corporate leaders of sacrificing their jobs to protect their profits amid the global slowdown. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

A group of Japanese women workers participate in a protest rally against job cuts by top Japanese companies with banners and placards in front of the headquarters of Nippon Keidanren, Japan’s largest business federation, in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec . 16, 2008. About 200 protesters accused Japanese corporate leaders of sacrificing their jobs to protect their profits amid the global slowdown. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

TOKYO

Hundreds of unionized workers rallied in Tokyo on Tuesday to protest massive job cuts, accusing the country’s biggest companies of sacrificing jobs to protect profits.

The global financial crisis has forced some of Japan’s corporate giants to take drastic measures including job cuts, suspending production, postponing projects and closing factories. Sony Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. are among the major employers to trim thousands of workers from their payrolls.

About 200 protesters waved banners and shouted slogans through loudspeakers outside the headquarters of the Nippon Keidanren — Japan’s largest business lobby group — in Tokyo’s main business district.

“Toyota, stop cutting seasonal workers! We workers are not disposable!” they chanted. “Sony, stop massive firing!”

Most of the job cuts have targeted temporary contract workers, but lately they have included full-time salaried workers.

Speakers at the protest said some newly unemployed contract workers also lost their company-owned housing, leaving them jobless and homeless.

“We do not accept job cuts in the name of the economic crisis,” said Kazuko Furuta, a representative of New Japan Women’s Association, a women’s rights group that organized the rally with dozens of labor unions. “Shame on the Japanese companies that dump their workers like objects.”

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai told reporters Tuesday that the government was doing its “utmost to support small businesses and ensure job security.”

Fujio Mitarai, head of Keidanren and also chairman of Canon Inc., said the influential lobby “will cooperate with the government” to implement job security measures.

Japanese exporters have been hit hard by slowing consumer demand from abroad and the yen’s appreciation, which erodes their overseas earnings.

Sony announced plans to slash 8,000 jobs around the world — about 5 percent of its work force — and lowered its full-year earnings projection 59 percent from the previous year.

Major automakers including Toyota and Nissan have terminated contracts with thousands of seasonal workers at their factories and parts makers.

Citing their own tally, union members say more than 18,800 people, mostly contract workers, have lost their jobs in recent months.

The government last week announced a 23 trillion yen ($256 billion) stimulus package to shore up the economy, including measures to encourage employment.

Source

Renault workers in Spain protest work reduction plan

December 13 2008

MADRID

Thousands of Renault workers braved heavy rain to march through the central Spanish city of Valladolid Saturday to protest a work reduction plan by the French automaker at its four plants in the country.

Renault management in Spain on December 3 proposed the 2009 cuts at its two factories in Valladolid, one in the nearby town of Palencia and another in the southern city of Sevilla.

Workers at one of the Valladolid plants are also waiting for Renault to assign it a new vehicle for production that would ensure its survival.

The protesters, who numbered 25,000 according to unions and 16,000 according to police, marched through the city in driving rain before a statement was read out calling on Renault to guarantee staff levels, Spanish media said.

“If this isn’t resolved, war, war and war,” the protesters chanted.

Renault employs around 11,000 people in Spain, Europe’s third-largest automaker, of whom 9,800 work in its four factories.

The company proposed a 60-day work reduction plan at one Valladolid plant and a 30-day cut at the other three factories.

The company blamed “the strong and continued fall in European markets, the main destinations of Renault Spain products” for its decision.

The auto manufacturing sector accounts for just under 10 percent of Spain’s economic output and 15 percent of exports.

Several large automakers in the country have already taken measures to cut their workforce, such as Japan’s Nissan and US group Ford.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero late last month announced an 800-million-euro cash injection for the country’s auto sector, part of an 11-billion-euro (14.3-billion-dollar) stimulus package to help the country cope with the global financial crisis.

Source

Auto workers rally in Jackson

December 16 2008

JACKSON, MS

The debate over whether the big three automakers should be bailed out by congress was brought to the Mississippi capitol.

United Auto Workers Union members marched through the capitol joined by state lawmakers and supporters. They voiced the opinion that if Wall Street was bailed out why not the automakers. The worry is that if Ford, GM and Chrysler aren’t given money from Washington the companies could go under and take thousands of American families with them.

Robert Schaffer of the MS AFL-CIO says, “It’s getting to the point to where it’s fine for them to make decisions about everybody else’s welfare, but if we were in a situation where they were losing their jobs and they were losing their health care off those fat salaries in Washington DC. They would have a different out look on everything trust me.”

A bill to bailout auto makers passed the house, but failed in the United States senate. President Bush and the white house says they are working on a plan-B that all sides can agree on.

Source

Canadian Governments willing to help Auto Industry

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 12:17 am  Comments Off on Auto workers rally in Jackson  
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Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking

Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of trafficking

A group of Nepalese men living rough near Baghdad airport in the hope of finding work at a US military base are victims of human trafficking, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said yesterday.
The Geneva-based body is also looking into the case of another 1,000 workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Nepal who were kept in three, drab warehouses in the airport zone for up to three months by a subcontractor to Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a service provider to US forces.
“I am very much worried because we have been highlighting this problem for some time,” Rafiq Tschannen, the IOM’s Chief of Mission to Iraq, told The Times.
Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad6
These eight people live in the small shack behind them

The 58 Nepalese men and a handful of Indians were brought in by agents in their home country who took about 5,000 dollars off each person in exchange for flights to Baghdad and the promise of work, which never materialized.
Instead the agents disappeared and the men have been forced to live for weeks in makeshift shelters of wooden planks, cardboard and blankets. They survive on food and water donated by passing Iraqis and fellow migrants who have jobs.
“These are trafficking cases,” Mr Tschannen said. “It looks like they have been smuggled into the country in the hope that KBR would pick them up.”
Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad8
Two men cook rice donated by sympathetic passers-by

The IOM provided eight of the destitute Nepalese men with plane tickets home and is ready to help more, although some have found work in the secured airport zone, which is home to a large US military base and a number of other entities.
A lack of funds, however, means the IOM is unable to assist larger groups of migrant workers such as the 1,000 men in the warehouses who were brought to Iraq, also by agents, to work for Najlaa International Catering Services, a Kuwait-based subcontractor to KBR.
These men were left in an overcrowded warehouse compound with poor food, broken toilets and no salary after contracts, anticipated by Najlaa, to provide catering services at US military dining halls fell through.
Mr Tschannen said cases of human trafficking by agents are common place throughout the world, with many migrant workers choosing to travel to European shores on the promise of employment only to end up jobless and penniless.
Nepalese_and_indian_squatters
About 20 people are living rough under this shelter

European governments have mechanisms in place to help, he said, an option that is not so readily available in a conflict zone like Iraq. Also, “in the case of Iraq, it is not like they can go to town and look for a job themselves”, he added.
The prospect of a salary of up to 800 dollars a month, a good wage in their home country, entices thousand of Asian workers to risk the perils of war and come to Iraq. They provide a range of services at US bases, such as catering and laundry, freeing up soldiers to concentrate on other tasks.
Nepalese_squatter
One Nepalese man sits in his makeshift home

Mr Tschannen said the migrant workforce is just “like any other commodity”. Agents bring in excess numbers, he explained, to be able to provide firms with labour instantaneously rather then having to wait to fly them in from overseas.
“These people should only be brought in when they have the final contract from the people who will be using them,” he said.
He plans to report the case of the in the warehouses to IOM headquarters in the hope of being able to encourage donor countries to offer funds to help such people, while noting that it was ultimately the responsibility of the contractor.
The best option would be to give each person trafficked to Iraq, but unable to find work, a ticket home and extra money to erase any debts incurred paying an agent to travel to Baghdad in the first place. This money would also help a person to reintegrate into his community, Mr Tschannen added.

Nepalese_squatters_in_baghdad3
A Nepalese man uses water to wash clothes.

Source

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of Slavery From August 29 2008 Video and Story

Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm  Comments Off on Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking  
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