Afghan Children Being Sold Into Forced Labor/Slavery

Four-year-old Farid was sold by his mother to a relative eight months ago.
September 12, 2011

KABUL — Endemic poverty in parts of Afghanistan is forcing many poor families to sell their children in order to survive, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Human rights officials say dire economic conditions have forced many families in the northern Jawzjan Province — one of the most undeveloped regions in Afghanistan — to sell their kids.

The International Save the Children Alliance, an NGO dedicated to eradicating child labor worldwide, said in a 2010 report that some 28 percent of all children between the ages of 5-15 in Jawzjan have been sold by their parents or guardians.

Farid, a 4-year-old boy in Jawzjan, was sold to a relative eight months ago following the death of his father. His mother, who remarried, received 12,000 afghanis ($280) for her son with the expectation that he would work for the relative.

Farid currently lies on a bed in the children’s hospital in Jawzjan with severe burns to his arms and feet. Covered in bandages, he cries in pain.

“When he was brought to the hospital a week ago, the burns on his body were badly infected and swollen,” Dr. Khalil Hidari, the head of the hospital, told RFE/RL. “He was suffering from malnutrition and was in very poor health.”

Farid’s grandmother told RFE/RL the family was not responsible for his poor health or current condition, maintaining that the boy sustained his injuries when he accidentally set a plastic bag alight.

But doctors at the hospital are skeptical of that explanation, with some believing someone may have tried to kill Farid because he was not useful or they could no longer afford to feed and care for him.

“Unfortunately, many Afghans do not know their own rights or those for children and women,” says Maghferat Samimi, head of the provincial office in Jawzjan for Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission. “The resulting levels of violence that accompany this are very concerning to us all.”

Despite being a signatory of the UN Convention on Children’s Rights, child labor in Afghanistan is rampant, with impoverished families selling their children into forced labor, sexual exploitation, and early marriage. Many of the children — who can be as young as 3 — are overworked and are subject to malnutrition and disease.

The Afghan government, which is obliged to stop the selling and trading of children under the convention, is ill-equipped to curb the increasing trend of children being sold into child labor. Source

This happens everywhere the Americans and NATO attacks.

None of these children had anything to do with 9/11 nor did anyone else in Afghanistan.

This is of course the end result.

Slavery of children. How Old school but slavery is alive and doing well through out the world.

This is how NATO and the US help people.

The attack a country kill, murder and maim their people, destroy everything in sight, take over the country and enslave the people.

That is what they do. They done nothing to ever help anyone but the profiteers that the US and NATO support. They do nothing for the innocent victims of their war crimes.

Slavery and Human Trafficking Crimes

Slavery as American as Apple Pie, with a touch of Israeli for flavor.

War by Deception Director’s Cut (911 and Iraq lies from the same cabal)

4,000 Israeli/Jewish  did not go to work at the Tower’s on the day of 9/11. 3,000 others did.

Some of the US/Israeli ‘s who hold duel citiezenship that work/worked for the US Government

While Washington claims it has a “good neighbor” policy with Mexico, the U.S. does not permit Mexicans to hold dual nationality. The US makes them become either U.S. or Mexican — you can’t be both. But the U.S., in its special relationship with Israel, has become very sympathetic to allowing Israeli-Americans to retain two nationalities and allowing U.S. citizens not only to hold public office in Israel, but to hold US government positions as well! No other country holds this special exception to our laws of citizenship.

So, you might ask, are there any other dual Israel-American citizens who hold US government positions that could compromise American security? Yes. Consider the following list that I obtained on the web:

Michael Mukasey
Recently appointed as US Attorney General. Mukasey also was the judge in the litigation between developer Larry Silverstein and several insurance companies arising from the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.

Michael Chertoff
Former Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, at the Justice Department; now head of Homeland Security.

Richard Perle
One of Bush’s foreign policy advisors, he is the chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. A very likely Israeli government agent, Perle was expelled from Senator Henry Jackson’s office in the 1970’s after the National Security Agency (NSA) caught him passing Highly-Classified (National Security) documents to the Israeli Embassy. He later worked for the Israeli weapons firm, Soltam. Perle came from one the above mentioned pro-Israel thinktanks, the AEI. Perle is one of the leading pro-Israeli fanatics leading this Iraq war mongering within the administration and now in the media.

Paul Wolfowitz
Former Deputy Defense Secretary, and member of Perle’s Defense Policy Board, in the Pentagon. Wolfowitz is a close associate of Perle, and reportedly has close ties to the Israeli military. His sister lives in Israel. Wolfowitz came from the above mentioned Jewish thinktank, JINSA. Wolfowitz was the number two leader within the administration behind this Iraq war mongering. He later was appointed head of the World Bank but resigned under pressure from World Bank members over a scandal involving his misuse of power.

Lawrence (Larry) Franklin
The former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst with expertise in Iranian policy issues who worked in the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and reported directly to Feith’s deputy, William Luti, was sentenced January 20, 2006, “to more than 12 years in prison for giving classified information to an Israeli diplomat” and members of the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Franklin will “remain free while the government continues with the wider case” and his “prison time could be sharply reduced in return for his help in prosecuting” former AIPAC members Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, [who] are scheduled to go on trial in April [2006]. Franklin admitted that he met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information, including information about potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. Rosen and Weissman would later share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials.” (source: sourcewatch.com).

Douglas Feith
Under Secretary of Defense and Policy Advisor at the Pentagon. He is a close associate of Perle and served as his Special Counsel. Like Perle and the others, Feith is a pro-Israel extremist, who has advocated anti-Arab policies in the past. He is closely associated with the extremist group, the Zionist Organization of America, which even attacks Jews that don’t agree with its extremist views. Feith frequently speaks at ZOA conferences. Feith runs a small law firm, Feith and Zell, which only has one International office, in Israel. The majority of their legal work is representing Israeli interests. His firm’s own website stated, prior to his appointment, that Feith “represents Israeli Armaments Manufacturer.” Feith basically represents the Israeli War Machine. Feith also came from the Jewish thinktank JINSA. Feith, like Perle and Wolfowitz, are campaigning hard for this Israeli proxy war against Iraq.

Feith was investigated by the FBI under suspicion of leaking classified information to Israel, being that he was Larry Franklin’s boss when Franklin leaked those documents to Rosen and Weissman of AIPAC. For that he was forced to leave the National Security Council. Feith was also investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee for sexing up ‘intelligence’ that was used to justify invading Iraq.

Edward Luttwak
Member of the National Security Study Group of the Department of Defence at the Pentagon. Luttwak is reportedly an Israeli citizen and has taught in Israel. He frequently writes for Israeli and pro-Israeli newspapers and journals. Luttwak is an Israeli extremist whose main theme in many of his articles is the necessity of the U.S. waging war against Iraq and Iran.

Henry Kissinger
One of many Pentagon Advisors, Kissinger sits on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle. For detailed information about Kissinger’s evil past, read Seymour Hersch’s book (Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House). Kissinger likely had a part in the Watergate crimes, Southeast Asia mass murders (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), Installing Chilean mass murdering dictator Pinochet, Operation Condor’s mass killings in South America, and more recently served as Serbia’s Ex-Dictator Slobodan Milosevic’s Advisor. He consistently advocated going to war against Iraq. Kissinger is the Ariel Sharon of the U.S. Unfortunately, President Bush nominated Kissinger as chairman of the September 11 investigating commission. It’s like picking a bank robber to investigate a fraud scandal. He later declined this job under enormous protests.

Dov Zakheim
Dov Zakheim is an ordained rabbi and reportedly holds Israeli citizenship. Zakheim attended Jew’s College in London and became an ordained Orthodox Jewish Rabbi in 1973. He was adjunct professor at New York’s Jewish Yeshiva University. Zakheim is close to the Israeli lobby.

Dov Zakheim is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and in 2000 a co-author of the Project for the New American Century’s position paper, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, advocating the necessity for a Pearl-Harbor-like incident to mobilize the country into war with its enemies, mostly Middle Eastern Muslim nations.

He was appointed by Bush as Pentagon Comptroller from May 4, 2001 to March 10, 2004. At that time he was unable to explain the disappearance of $1 trillion dollars. Actually, nearly three years earlier, Donald Rumsfeld announced on September 10, 2001 that an audit discovered $2.3 trillion was also missing from the Pentagon books. That story, as mentioned, was buried under 9-11’s rubble. The two sums disappeared on Zakheim’s watch. We can only guess where that cash went.

Despite these suspicions, on May 6, 2004, Zakheim took a lucrative position at Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the most prestigious strategy consulting firms in the world. One of its clients then was Blessed Relief, a charity said to be a front for Osama bin Laden. Booz, Allen & Hamilton then also worked closely with DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is the research arm of the Department of Defense.

Judicial Inc’s bio of Dov tells us Zakheim is a dual Israeli/American citizen and has been tracking the halls of US government for 25 years, casting defense policy and influence on Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Judicial Inc points out that most of Israel’s armaments were gotten thanks to him. Squads of US F-16 and F-15 were classified military surplus and sold to Israel at a fraction of their value.

Kenneth Adelman
One of many Pentagon Advisors, Adelman also sits on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle, and is another extremist pro-Israel advisor, who supported going to war against Iraq. Adelman frequently is a guest on Fox News, and often expresses extremist and often ridiculus anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views. Through his racism or ignorance, he actually called Arabs “anti-Semitic” on Fox News (11/28/2001), when he could have looked it up in the dictionary to find out that Arabs by definition are Semites.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby
Vice President Dick Cheney’s ex-Chief of Staff. As chief pro-Israel Jewish advisor to Cheney, it helps explains why Cheney is so gun-ho to invade Iran. Libby is longtime associate of Wolfowitz. Libby was also a lawyer for convicted felon and Israeli spy Marc Rich, whom Clinton pardoned, in his last days as president. Libby was recently found guilty of lying to Federal investigators in the Valerie Plame affair, in which Plame, a covert CIA agent, was exposed for political revenge by the Bush administration following her husband’s revelations about the lies leading to the Iraq War.

Robert Satloff
U.S. National Security Council Advisor, Satloff was the executive director of the Israeli lobby’s “think tank,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Many of the Israeli lobby’s “experts” come from this front group, like Martin Indyk.

Elliott Abrams
National Security Council Advisor. He previously worked at Washington-based “Think Tank” Ethics and Public Policy Center. During the Reagan Adminstration, Abrams was the Assistant Secretary of State, handling, for the most part, Latin American affairs. He played an important role in the Iran-Contra Scandal, which involved illegally selling U.S. weapons to Iran to fight Iraq, and illegally funding the contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He also actively deceived three congressional committees about his involvement and thereby faced felony charges based on his testimony. Abrams pled guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service. A year later, former President Bush (Senior) granted Abrams a full pardon. He was one of the more hawkish pro-Israel Jews in the Reagan Administration’s State Department.

Marc Grossman
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He was Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources at the Department of State. Grossman is one of many of the pro-Israel Jewish officials from the Clinton Administration that Bush has promoted to higher posts.

Richard Haass
Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and Ambassador at large. He is also Director of National Security Programs and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He was one of the more hawkish pro-Israel Jews in the first Bush (Sr) Administration who sat on the National Security Council, and who consistently advocated going to war against Iraq. Haass is also a member of the Defense Department’s National Security Study Group, at the Pentagon.

Robert Zoellick
U.S. Trade Representative, a cabinet-level position. He is also one of the more hawkish pro-Israel Jews in the Bush (Jr) Administration who advocated invading Iraq and occupying a portion of the country in order to set up a Vichy-style puppet government. He consistently advocates going to war against Iran.

Ari Fleischer
Ex- White House Spokesman for the Bush (Jr) Administration. Prominent in the Jewish community, some reports state that he holds Israeli citizenship. Fleischer is closely connected to the extremist Jewish group called the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidics, who follow the Qabala, and hold very extremist and insulting views of non-Jews. Fleischer was the co-president of Chabad’s Capitol Jewish Forum. He received the Young Leadership Award from the American Friends of Lubavitch in October, 2001.

James Schlesinger
One of many Pentagon Advisors, Schlesinger also sits on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle and is another extremist pro-Israel advisor, who supported going to war against Iraq. Schlesinger is also a commissioner of the Defense Department’s National Security Study Group, at the Pentagon.

David Frum
White House speechwriter behind the “Axis of Evil” label. He lumped together all the lies and accusations against Iraq for Bush to justify the war.

Joshua Bolten
White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Bolten was previously a banker, former legislative aide, and prominent in the Jewish community.

John Bolton
Former UN Representative and Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Bolton is also a Senior Advisor to President Bush. Prior to this position, Bolton was Senior Vice President of the above mentioned pro-Israel thinktank, AEI. He recently (October 2002) accused Syria of having a nuclear program, so that they can attack Syria after Iraq. He must have forgotten that Israel has 400 nuclear warheads, some of which are thermonuclear weapons (according to a recent U.S. Air Force report).

David Wurmser
Special Assistant to John Bolton (above), the under-secretary for arms control and international security. Wurmser also worked at the AEI with Perle and Bolton. His wife, Meyrav Wurmser, along with Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military intelligence, co-founded the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri),a Washington-based Israeli outfit which distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light.

Eliot Cohen
Member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle and is another extremist pro-Israel advisor. Like Adelman, he often expresses extremist and often ridiculus anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views. More recently, he wrote an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal openly admitting his rascist hatred of Islam claiming that Islam should be the enemy, not terrorism.

Mel Sembler
President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. A Prominent Jewish Republican and Former National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The Export-Import Bank facilitates trade relationships between U.S. businesses and foreign countries, specifically those with financial problems.

Steve Goldsmith
Senior Advisor to the President, and Bush’s Jewish domestic policy advisor. He also served as liaison in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (White House OFBCI) within the Executive Office of the President. He was the former mayor of Indianapolis. He is also friends with Israeli Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and often visits Israel to coach mayors on privatization initiatives.

Adam Goldman
White House’s Special Liaison to the Jewish Community.

Joseph Gildenhorn
Bush Campaign’s Special Liaison to the Jewish Community. He was the DC finance chairman for the Bush campaign, as well as campaign coordinator, and former ambassador to Switzerland.

Christopher Gersten
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families at HHS. Gersten was the former Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Husband of Labor Secretary.

Mark Weinberger
Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Public Affairs.

Samuel Bodman
Deputy Secretary of Commerce. He was the Chairman and CEO of Cabot Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bonnie Cohen
Under Secretary of State for Management.

Ruth Davis
Director of Foreign Service Institute, who reports to the Office of Under Secretary for Management. This Office is responsible for training all Department of State staff (including ambassadors).

Daniel Kurtzer
Ambassador to Israel.

Cliff Sobel
Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Stuart Bernstein
Ambassador to Denmark.

Nancy Brinker
Ambassador to Hungary

Frank Lavin
Ambassador to Singapore.

Ron Weiser
Ambassador to Slovakia.

Mel Sembler
Ambassador to Italy.

Martin Silverstein
Ambassador to Uruguay.

Lincoln Bloomfield
Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs.

Jay Lefkowitz
Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Ken Melman
White House Political Director.

Brad Blakeman
White House Director of Scheduling.

I don’t know about you, but dual citizenship is fine with me for an ordinary citizen. But if you hold an official position that demands that you put American interests above all else — if you should look transparent and fair to the rest of the world regarding your formation of Middle East foreign policies, then this is a dangerous trend. Even if there were no pro-Israeli agenda, the fact that decision makers have a bias or an allegiance to one of the parties involved in the current conflict should have raised red flags long before now.

If you think we’re being unfair here, ask yourself: How you would react to the Head of Homeland Security if he or she were a dual national with citizenship in Iran, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia? Ask yourself why you don’t feel the same about Israeli dual citizenship. Then you will understand how powerful the Israeli lobby has been in “adjusting” your acceptance of their special status. Source

The US government is being run by Israeli’s.

All wars the US wages are in fact waged by Israel, for Israel.

Children are also becoming drug addicts thanks to NATO/US war in Afghanistan. Many are getting Cancer or children born are deformed.

Link below has answers.

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

Recent

Criminal State – A Closer Look at Israel’s Role in Terrorism

Racist murders in Libya at the hands of rebel forces/NATO and US supporting the Rebels who are actually terrorist on the US/NATO Terrorist list. I thought the war was against terrorist not to help them. I guess they have been helping the Terrorists all along. Anything to keep the wars going for the profiteers.

Israel angers Egyptian Protesters

Advertisements
Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm  Comments Off on Afghan Children Being Sold Into Forced Labor/Slavery  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Israel’s middle class launches mass protest at rising cost of living

Reports of 300,000 on streets across country as pressure for reform grows on Netanyahu

By Catrina Stewart

August 8 2011

Over a quarter of a million Israelis staged the country’s biggest protest in decades over the weekend, calling for far-reaching social reform to ease the financial burden of the increasingly straitened middle class.

Israeli media reported the numbers of protesters at over 300,000, most of them in Tel Aviv, where hundreds of youths have been camped out for nearly four weeks in tents and wigwams in protest at soaring living costs, the original source of frustration.

Since their modest beginnings, the protests have mushroomed into a nationwide movement addressing a whole range of issues that have brought together Israelis from both ends of the political spectrum in a rare show of unity. Personal politics have taken second place to gripes over high taxation, soaring food and petrol costs, the divide between the rich and poor, and shrinking social services.

Related articles

They also represent a critical challenge for Israel’s right-wing government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, a proponent of free-market reform. His fractured coalition has struggled to present concrete solutions to the diverse set of demands, many of which call for the kind of sweeping change that harks back to Israel’s early socialist principles.

In an effort to defuse the protests, Mr Netanyahu yesterday formed a panel of economic experts and cabinet ministers to study ways to bring down the cost of living, which has soared at the expense of stagnant salaries even though Israel’s economy is thriving. While promising “real dialogue”, he warned that “we won’t be able to please everyone”.

But protest organisers seemed reluctant to embrace the government’s measures, wary that it would fail to translate into actual social reform. “I want to be sure… we will not be given the runaround for three months, at the end of which we will not emerge with real solutions,” Itzik Shmuli, a protest leader, told Israel Radio.

On Saturday night, Tel Aviv’s main thoroughfares were thronged with people holding banners with slogans including “We want a welfare state”, and “Israel is dear”. “There has been nothing like this for decades – all these people coming together, taking to the streets, demanding change. It’s a revolution,” Baruch Oren, a 33-year-old protest leader, told Reuters. But not all felt themselves caught in the embrace of the protesters. Amid the hundreds of tents catering to different social causes, only tent No 1948 addresses issues linked to Palestinians and the Israeli Arab community. Critics claim that protest organisers have explicitly avoided turning the protests into a referendum on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for fear it will be seen as leftist and lose support. “Perhaps if I was a Jewish Israeli, I [would] be proud of the July 14 movement. … [But] I am Palestinian,” Abir Kopty, an Israeli Arab activist, wrote on her blog. “I want to speak about historical justice, I want to speak about occupation … and I want to speak about them in the heart of Tel Aviv.”

In the occupied West Bank, too, Palestinians are following the protests with interest, but argue that Israelis are seeking rights that the Palestinians can only dream of. “For us Palestinians, it isn’t a housing crisis we are facing but a housing ban,” Nariman al-Tamimi, a Palestinian woman from Nabi Salih, a village in an Israel-controlled part of the West Bank, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Her home is under threat of demolition after the family, unable to secure permits to build, added an unauthorised extension.

Others predicted that protesters would start linking the deterioration of their economic condition with the Jewish West Bank settlements, considered illegal under international law, into which successive Israeli governments have invested huge sums of money in the shape of tax breaks and cheap loans.

“In due course, [the protesters] will reach the conclusion that the money for the major reforms they demand can only come from stopping the settlements and cutting the huge military budget by hundreds of billions – and that is possible only in peace,” wrote Uri Avnery, an Israeli former politician, in a weekly letter.

Q & A:

War on cheese prices turns into a wider class struggle

Q. How did the protests in Israel begin?

A. Organisers say that a Facebook campaign against a rise in cottage cheese prices in June provided the inspiration for collective action. However, the protests actually started when a young woman was evicted from her apartment in central Tel Aviv because she had failed to pay her monthly rent. She erected a tent on the city’s stylish Rothschild Boulevard, prompting hundreds of others struggling with high rents to join her.

Q. What are the demonstrations about?

A. They were initially about the high cost of rented accommodation, which has risen much more quickly than the average Israeli income. The protests now embrace issues ranging from high taxation, the cost of childcare, low salaries for doctors and nurses and calls for improvements to social services, which have shrunk in recent years. Many people have directed their anger at the country’s wealthiest families, who are seen as growing rich at the expense of ordinary Israelis via monopolies that have pushed up the cost of goods.

Q. So who is actually doing the protesting?

A. Broadly speaking, it is Israel’s middle class. They pay high taxes but receive few of the welfare benefits that are extended to the poor.

Q. What is the government doing about the problems?

A. The government has struggled to meet the diverse demands of the protesters. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, pushed through a housing reform Bill last week, which protesters said would benefit the rich and damage the environment. The government’s latest step is to set up a Cabinet-level economic task force to look at ways to bring down prices. It has a month to reach its conclusions.

Source

I GUESS YOU GET WHAT YOU VOTE FOR.

A VOTE FOR WAR IS A VOTE FOR THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO POVERTY.

Will anything change? Of course not, the rich will get richer and the poor will get very much poorer. After all someone must pay for all the war toys. Just like the USA the poor there pay for all the wars and the poor are the ones who also pay with their lives. The poor are nothing more then cannon fodder.

This is an older report, but the cost to those who live in Israel is staggering. No wonder they are poor.

P.S. They spend even more now.

Foreign Arms Supplies To Israel/Gaza

Israel get weapons from everyone and their dog.

Also I don’t know if anyone has noticed but every time the the US starts a new war the price of Oil/Gas goes up way up which drives up the cost of everything else.  Now isn’t that special?

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 3:53 am  Comments Off on Israel’s middle class launches mass protest at rising cost of living  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In Shining India, Over 5,000 Children Die Every Day From Hunger And Malnutrition

By Devinder Sharma

September 9, 2010

The startling figure still resonates in my memory. Some 25 years back, I remember reading a report in one of the major dailies which said that some 5,000 children die every day in India. Today morning, my attention therefore was automatically drawn to a news report: 1.83 million children die before fifth bithday every year: Report (Indian Express, Sept 8, 2010).

I immediately took out a pen and paper to find out the per day child mortality rate. I wanted to know whether the child mortality rate has come down, and by how much, in the last 25 years or so. My disappointment has grown. The calculations shows that every day 5,013 children are succumbing to malnutrition. Given that a half of all children in India are under-nourished as per the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06), of which over 5,000 die every day I think every Indian needs to hang his/her head in shame.

Globally, 14,600 children die every day. This means that India alone has the dubious distinction of having more than a third of the world’s child mortality. This is ironically happening at a time when food is rotting in the godowns.

Yes, India is surely an emerging economic superpower, but building an Empire over hungry stomachs! Mera Bharat Mahaan!!

A new global report “A fair Chance at Life” by the international child rights organisation Save the Children is not only a damming indictment of the supplementary nutrition programmes that have been running for several decades now, but also is an eye-opener in many ways. While it tells us how hollow the global claims under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are, nationally it shows us the stark hidden realities. A country which doesn’t get tired of patting itself in the back for creating an impressive list of 50 billionaires, and off and on does bask under the fictitious glow of Shining India, the dark underbelly remains deliberately hidden from the media glare.

Let us look at what the report says: “Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas.”

Half of these children actually die within a month of being born. In other words, nearly 2,500 children of those who die have not even survived for more than a month. This is an indication of not only the inability of the parents to provide adequate nutrition to their new born, but more than that is a reflection of the impoverished condition of the especially the mother. Does it not tell us to what extent poverty and hunger prevails in this country? Do we need to still work out more effective parameters to measure hunger and malnutrition? Do we really need to find a new estimate of people living below the poverty line (BPL)?

Madhya Pradesh tops the list, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh. The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

I am reproducing below a news report from the pages of The Hindu (Sept 8, 2010):

‘Children from poorest section 3 times more likely to die before age of 5 than those from high income groups’

Children from the poorest communities are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of 5 than those from high income groups, Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation has said.

In a global report titled A Fair Chance at Life, the organisation said the policy to lower child mortality in India and elsewhere appeared to focus on children from better-off communities, leaving out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The 41 percentage decline in child mortality over the last two decades masks a dangerous expansion of the child mortality gap between the richest and poorest families in India,” Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy said.

Child mortality is often described as the best barometer of social and economic progress. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, there has been no visible pattern between per capita income growth and the rate of reduction of child mortality rates. In 2008, 5.3 lakh children under 5 died in the lowest income quintile in comparison to 1.78 lakh among the wealthy quintile. The rate of decline between 2005-06 and 1997-98 among the lowest income quintile is 22.69 per cent, compared to 34.37 per cent among the high income quintile for the same period.

Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas,” Mr. Chandy said.

The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

“Every child has the right to survive and the Indian government has an obligation to protect them. Save the Children’s research shows that prioritising marginalised and excluded communities, especially in the States lagging behind, is one of the surest ways that India can reduce the number of children dying from easily preventable causes. The National Rural Health Mission, for example, should have a clear focus on social inclusion of Dalits and adivasis in terms of access to healthcare,” he said.

Save the Children’s report comes two weeks before a high-level U.N. summit in New York from September 20-22 to assess progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

By demonstrating a political will and the right policies, MDG4 could be achieved in India. The good schemes in place needed to be matched by effective implementation. And there was enough experience in India proving that low-cost interventions can make the difference between life and death for a child, the report said.

Huge inequity in child mortality rates: Survey
http://www.thehindu.com/news/article617626.ece

Source

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

Recent

The boycott of Israel is “gaining speed”

The next big thing in autos: a hand-cranked hybrid?

More birds dying in Alberta oil sands than first reported

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

Pentagon declined to investigate hundreds of purchases of child pornography

Poorer Canadians less likely to survive cancer

August 2, 2010

Cancer patients from poor communities have lower survival rates than those from more affluent neighbourhoods, a new Canadian study has found.

What’s more, the research team discovered that the explanation for similar disparities in U.S. research — that patients from poorer areas are more likely to be diagnosed when their cancer is at a later stage — did not hold true.

The researchers, led by Dr. Christopher Booth at the Cancer Research Institute at Queen’s University in Ontario, found that poorer patients had a greater chance of dying prematurely from their disease even though cancer stage at the time of diagnosis was similar across socioeconomic groups.

“Contrary to what has been reported in studies from the U.S., we have found that stage of cancer at time of diagnosis does not account for any substantial component of the difference in survival across social groups,” Booth said in a statement.

The findings, though only gleaned from Ontario data, suggest other factors play a role in survival, including the unique biology of each patient’s disease, the presence of other illnesses, access to treatment and overall quality of care.

The study was published Monday in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society.

For the study, the research team compared median household income data from the 2001 Canadian census with diagnosis information from the Ontario Cancer Registry. The team analyzed all cases of breast, colon, rectal, non-small cell lung, cervical and laryngeal cancer diagnosed in the province between 2003 and 2007.

Their findings include:

  • The chance a woman from a poor community will be alive five years after a breast cancer diagnosis is 77 per cent, compared to 84 per cent for a wealthy woman.
  • Fifty-two per cent of patients with colorectal cancer from poor neighbourhoods are still alive five years after diagnosis, compared to 60 per cent of patients from wealthy communities.

The team said the fact that stage of disease at the time of diagnosis was similar across socioeconomic groups may be explained by universal health coverage in Ontario, “which may facilitate access to primary care physicians and/or cancer screening,” Booth said.

However, the disparity in survival rates, while they seem small, “are important and meaningful differences,” he told The Canadian Press.

“If we had a form of chemotherapy or cancer treatment that led to an improvement or difference in five-year survival of seven, eight, nine per cent — the order of magnitude we’re seeing with these differences — it would be a blockbuster home run as far as cancer treatment advances,” Booth said.

The team said further research is needed to identify the specific factors that are leading to the disparities in survival, which will then allow experts to devise strategies to reduce those disparities. Source

Poverty means less food, more stress and worry.

You can have the best medical treatment in the world but if you don’t have proper food you will be less likely to recover from many illnesses not just cancer.

People living in poverty are under a great deal more stress as well. Their day to day lives are filled with things like can I afford rent, heat and hydro. They have less of an ability to get to treatments, (Cost is always a factor which adds to their stress and anxiety).

So do they buy groceries are go for treatments? Well what would you do?

People living in poverty are also more prone to illnesses as they are under stress and do not have proper food to start with.

One doesn’t have to be a genius to figure out what the problems are.

Even the stupidest person should be able to figure that one out.

Recent

Fox News moves up to the front row in the White House briefing room

Most Jerusalem Palestinians Live in Poverty

Most Jerusalem Palestinians Live in Poverty: Israeli Study
May 10 2010

Jerusalem.
Most Palestinians in east Jerusalem, including three out of four children, live below the poverty line, an Israeli rights group said on Monday, accusing Israel of neglect and discrimination.

“A unified Jerusalem does not exist,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a report released as the Jewish state begins celebrations to mark the 43rd anniversary of its 1967 capture of Arab east Jerusalem.

“The truth is, two cities exist side by side,” the report said, challenging Israel’s claim that it unified the Holy City after annexing the Arab sector in a move not recognized by the international community.

Seventy-five percent of Palestinian children in east Jerusalem live in poverty compared with 45 percent of the city’s Jewish children, the report said.

“Over 95,000 children in east Jerusalem live in a perpetual state of poverty,” ACRI said.

Despite the rampant poverty, only 10 percent of east Jerusalem’s 300,000 Palestinians have access to social services, it added.

The neglect extends to just about every sector of life in the Arab sector, and ACRI blamed this on the authorities.

“Israel’s policy for the past four decades has taken concrete form as discrimination in planning and construction, expropriation of land, and minimal investment in physical infrastructure and government and municipal services,” the report said.

The office of Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, told AFP it had no immediate comment on the report.

Israel has expropriated more than one-third of east Jerusalem land which was privately owned by Palestinians, on which it has built more than 50,000 homes for the Jewish population.

Virtually no permits for Palestinian housing construction have been issued for decades, there is a shortage of about 1,000 classrooms and rubbish collection is sporadic at best, as are postal services, the report said.

The annual budget allocation per elementary school child in east Jerusalem was 577 shekels (152 dollars) compared with 2,372 shekels (627 dollars) in west Jerusalem.

About 160,000 Palestinian residents have no suitable and legal connection to the water network and 50 kilometres (30 miles) of main sewage lines are lacking, the report said.

At the end of 2009 approximately 303,429 Palestinians lived in east Jerusalem, which equals around 36 percent of the city’s total population of some 835,450.

Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its “eternal” capital, while Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The status of the Holy City, as well as that of Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land, have long been among the thorniest issues in Palestinian-Israeli efforts to reach a peace deal.  Source

Israel building 14 units in al-Quds

May 10 2010

Settler groups have started building 14 new units in the Palestinian neighborhood near an old police station in Ras al-Amoud, in al-Quds (East Jerusalem).

The Israeli far-left Peace Now organization revealed on Sunday that 1,900 settlers already live in 119 units in that area and own them.

It added that since elected as the mayor of East al-Quds in 2008, Nir Barkat has remained “faithful” to the settlers in al-Quds. It warned that the increasing number of settlers in occupied al-Quds would lead to a future of no political deal with the Palestinians.

It is not known if the settlers have obtained permits for the new construction. As per reports, the settlers have received 1,213 permits, while only 136 permits have been issued to the Palestinians in the same neighborhoods.

An expert on the settlement and maps, Khalil al-Tufkaji, said: “The construction in Ras al-Amoud settlement is one of the most dangerous plans in al-Quds, especially when the Israeli occupation seeks to establish a large settlement there.”

The Israelis have plans to build more units in the area and to integrate the settlements of Ma’aleh Oztenem consisting of 200 units, and the settlement of Givat David with 104 units, al-Tufkaji pointed out.

This plan obstructs any possibility of a Palestinian capital in the holy city, he added.

As the proximity talks began on Sunday, this is a clear message to the Palestinians that al-Quds is outside the framework of any negotiations, and construction in the city is “just like the construction in Tel Aviv,” as Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.  Source

Settlers can get permits but Palestinians cannot. Bigotry/Discrimination at it’s finest.

The whole idea is to make the lives of Palestinians as horrid as possible. Israel wants all their land.  Seems they don’t care who or how many live in poverty or are removed from their land and homes.

Related

Israel And Apartheid: By People Who Knew Apartheid

Recent

Why won’t Israel allow Gazans to import coriander?

What I Learned in Afghanistan – About the United States

Total number of suspected Mossad agents involved in Dubai assassination reaches 32

Interrogator says Khadr was told he’d likely be raped in U.S.

Judge dismisses scores of Guantanamo habeas cases

Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes’

US Senate votes to ban big bank ‘bailouts’

Canada: McTeer accuses Tories of putting women’s lives at risk

TIME SQUARE BOMB HOAX, Israeli Intel Group Shows It’s Hand

May Day protests draw millions worldwide

Can You Pass The Iran Quiz

Canada and the European Union: Advancing the Transatlantic Agenda

April 1 2010

By Dana Gabriel

Although there is a need for Canada to expand its trade horizons, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated with the European Union (EU) appears to be based on the flawed NAFTA model. Many view it as an opportunity to decrease its trade reliance on the U.S., but it could serve to accelerate the corporate takeover of the country.

The deal would exceed NAFTA in its scope and with the third round of negotiations scheduled for April 19-23 in Ottawa, there are lingering concerns regarding its lack of transparency. A Canada-EU CETA could be used to expand NAFTA, strengthen U.S.-EU economic relations and further advance the transatlantic agenda.

Some believe that the recent Canada-U.S. Agreement on Government Procurement is an important step in providing protection for future bilateral trade relations, but in the process it opens up provincial and municipal contracts to foreign corporations.

Maude Barlow and Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians criticized the Conservative government for giving up too much and receiving too little. In an collaborative article they emphasized that, “The provinces have been loath to sign the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement and did not agree to include subnational procurement in NAFTA because they could lose too much say in how public money is spent without getting any new access to the U.S. market.” They went on to say, “We believe the Buy American controversy provided Harper and the provinces, who are actively engaged in ambitious free-trade talks with Europe, with an opportunity to restructure the Canadian economy to reduce the role of our communities in setting spending priorities.”

As part of the proposed CETA with Canada, one of the EU’s top objectives includes gaining access to procurement and services in areas of health, energy, water, as well as other sectors. The Canada-U.S. Buy American deal is an extension of NAFTA and has set a precedent which could further reinforce EU demands.

In mid-December 2009, Internet law columnist Michael Geist reported that the EU had proposed negotiating an intellectual property chapter which could reshape Canadian copyright law. He stated that, “While the leaked document may only represent the starting European position, there is little doubt there will be enormous pressure on Canadian negotiators to cave on the IP provision in return for ‘gains’ in other areas.” This also ties into Canada’s participation in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations which also include the EU, U.S. and other nations. With respect to the Canada-EU CETA, Geist also acknowledged that, “When combined with ACTA, the two agreements would render Canadian copyright law virtually unrecognizable as Canada would be required to undertake a significant rewrite of its law. The notion of a ‘made-in-Canada’ approach – already under threat from ACTA – would be lost entirely, replaced by a made-in-Washington-and-Brussels law.” Both the U.S. and the EU have singled out Canada for criticism on intellectual property and are pressing for copyright along with other reforms. Conceding to such demands could severely compromise Canadian interests.

Opposition to the scope and process of Canada-EU trade negotiations is increasing. The talks have been marred by secrecy, with little disclosure on the part of the Canadian government and hardly a mention from the mainstream media. Sighting serious concerns, groups such as the Council of Canadians are calling for full transparency They are also demanding a comprehensive impact assessment, protection for public services and procurement, along with the exclusion of any investment chapter. There are fears that a Canada-EU CETA could include provisions such as NAFTA’s Chapter 11, which gives corporations the power to challenge governmental laws and regulations that restrict their profits. NDP International Trade critic Peter Julian recently berated Canadian negotiators for using the obsolete and harmful NAFTA template. He proclaimed, “We need to push the Canada-EU negotiations towards a much more progressive fair trade model.” Julian admitted, “It is regrettable that it seems to have been pushed aside for a NAFTA-style agreement that would decrease most Canadian incomes, encourage lower standards and lead to the loss of democratic sovereignty.” A Canada-EU CETA would further promote transatlantic ties and could later include the U.S., as well as Mexico.

In 2007, the U.S.-EU reached a deal on a new Transatlantic Economic Partnership in an effort to work towards eliminating trade barriers, increasing investment and streamlining harmonization on regulations. The agreement established the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) as a permanent body. Trade policy analyst, Daniella Markheim compared the TEC to the now defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America. “Both the SPP and the TEC address property rights protection and enforcement, effective inspections and data sharing on food safety, border measures affecting trade, and other economic and security concerns.” She also added, “Both of these are forums that enable the U.S. and its significant trade partners to find new avenues to improve the flow of commerce and promote greater coherence and consistency in trade rules and regulations.” A Canada-EU free trade agreement would deepen transatlantic economic integration and advance plans for a common market in the region.

Negotiations are proceeding quickly which could lead to a Canada-EU CETA being signed by 2011. The deal would be subject to compatibility with the terms of NAFTA and could help revive and expand the trilateral accord. In addition to further liberalizing trade in goods, services, investment and procurement, it could also include a labour mobility provision. Interlocking superstates are the foundation for global governance and much like the formation of the EU, a North American Union is being created incrementally. Take NAFTA, along with the SPP agenda which is still moving forward through other initiatives, combine it with the TEC, as well as a Canada-EU CETA and you have the basis for a Transatlantic Union.

Source

Because of NAFTA hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in Canada.

In the first month alone over 100,000 jobs were lost. They have continued to vanish. It was and still is a crappy agreement. Oh sure there were jobs created ones that payed much less however. The descent jobs vanished and people were driven into poverty. Worker safety declined as well. Workers rights went down as well.  Hiring agency’s moved in. They suck the big one.

Lots of privatization happened, which also drove down wages. Work for welfare happened also driving down wages. Nothing like a good slave working for free. People were abused and still are all the time. Some people really love slaves.  Of course when you have free labor you also loose more jobs to the free slave labor and more people end up in extreme poverty. Many end up up working for welfare and they too become slaves. Good for Canada for being so stupid. Makes for lots of desperate workers however.

Even a lot of farmers went out of business. One should always protect the people that feed you.

Safety standards for products also disappear.

Free Trade agreement are terrible. Your standard of living will get worse and the stuff you buy is more times then not, just  junk.  Quality bottoms out.

The cost of living goes up. Privatization drive the cost of living way up. Heat, hydro, water, food  etc. goes up drastically.  Few profit and more are driven into poverty. This has happened in all countries, that participate in Free Trade. The rich get richer and the poor get very much poorer.

If Harper isn’t doing things to take Canadian jobs away, as Free Trade agreements actually do that, he is attempting to remove Canadians freedom of speech.

Israel: Attempting to take away Canadians Freedom of Speech

Or not being truthful to the Canadian public.

Canada: Heavily edited Afghan documents prove need for inquiry

Or does anyone remember this one

Stephen Harper hid the actual cost of the War

Do Canadians now know the true cost of the War. No of course not.

Because of the war Canadians are now in Debt.  A war based on lies I might add.

Canada is going down hill. Not the wonderful place it once was.

Canada: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Democracy

The Harper government has obstructed the issuance of a visa to Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, resulting in the cancellation of Dr. Barghouti’s upcoming speaking tour in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.  Dr. Barghouti applied for a visa on March 5th, for entry into Canada on March 19th, yet despite the urgency of the issue being brought directly to high-level officials in Foreign Affairs and Citizenship and Immigration, the government delayed the issuance of a visa to the point where Barghouti missed two key flights, resulting in a cancellation of Barghouti’s visit.  In addition to being a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and a former presidential candidate, Dr. Barghouti is a recent Nobel Peace Prize nominee.  In the past, Dr. Barghouti has received a visa to Canada within 24 hours after applying.

Source

This one is beyond appalling
Respect MP George Galloway has been blocked from visiting Canada because of his support for Hamas, the country’s immigration office has said.
Opposition New Democratic Party MP Olivia Chow accused the government of “censorship” for not allowing Mr Galloway to tout his anti-war messages in Canada.

Denying him entry to this country is “an affront to freedom of speech” and shows the Canadian government “is frightened of an open debate on an unpopular war,” she said. Source

George Galloways only crime is he care about the people of Gaza and the fact they are suffering from lack of everything. Food, medical care etc etc etc. That is no reason to ban him from a country any country.

I am guessing this Jewish British MP Sir Gerald would be banned from Canada as well. He wasn’t to pleased with Israel either.

Canada certainly has changed since Harper was elected and not for the better.

Even his party members need permission to talk to the press. How sad, even they do not have freedom of speech.

Proroguing parliament twice in as many years, has not sat well with Canadian either.

Harper is shooting himself in the foot.

He is suppose to respect and work for Canadians, but that  is not what is happening.

Recent

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

Foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula obtained through fraud and Israeli involvement

Mossad using Spanish passport Arrested in Algeria

British MPs call for review of arms export to Israel

Australia: Fraser calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats

Israel to Allow Shoes into Gaza Strip After Three Year Ban

UK warns of Israel travel amid passport scandal

Tony Blair’s attempt to keep his Iraqi Oil Profits a secret

Women in Iraq Miss Saddam

Israel condemned at Arab summit over Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 5:34 am  Comments Off on Canada and the European Union: Advancing the Transatlantic Agenda  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China publishes report on U.S. human rights

The U.S. uses torture to “defend human rights” in Iraq and around the world.

March 14 2010

The following is from Xinhua. For the full report, go to Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009

China Friday retorted U.S. criticism by publishing its own report on the U.S. human rights record.

“As in previous years, the (U.S.) reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory,” said the Information Office of the State Council in its report on the U.S. human rights record.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 was in retaliation to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 issued by the U.S. Department of State on March 11.

The report is “prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States,” said the report.

The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2009 from six perspectives: life, property and personal security; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; rights of women and children; and the U.S.’ violation of human rights against other countries.

It criticized the United States for taking human rights as “a political instrument to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests.”

China advised the U.S. government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

This is the 11th consecutive year that the Information Office of China’s State Council has issued a human rights record of the United States to answer the U.S. State Department’s annual report.

“At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the U.S. subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the U.S. government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity,” the report said.

Spying on citizens

While advocating “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press” and “Internet freedom,” the U.S. government unscrupulously monitors and restricts the citizens’ rights to freedom when it comes to its own interests and needs, the report said.

The U.S. citizens’ freedom to access and distribute information is under strict supervision, it said.

According to media reports, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) started installing specialized eavesdropping equipment around the country to wiretap calls, faxes, and emails and collect domestic communications as early as 2001.

The wiretapping program was originally targeted at Arab-Americans, but soon grew to include other Americans.

After the September 11 attack, the U.S. government, in the name of anti-terrorism, authorized its intelligence authorities to hack into its citizens’ mail communications, and to monitor and erase any information that might threaten the U.S. national interests on the Internet through technical means, the report said.

Statistics showed that from 2002 to 2006, the FBI collected thousands of phones records of U.S. citizens through mails, notes and phone calls.

In September 2009, the country set up an Internet security supervision body, further worrying U.S. citizens that the U.S. government might use Internet security as an excuse to monitor and interfere with personal systems.

The so-called “freedom of the press” of the United States was in fact completely subordinate to its national interests, and was manipulated by the U.S. government, the report said.

At yearend 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a bill which imposed sanctions on several Arab satellite channels for broadcasting contents hostile to the U.S. and instigating violence.

Racial discrimination a chronic problem

Racial discrimination is still a chronic problem of the United States, the report said.

Black people and other minorities are the most impoverished groups in the United States.

According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, the real median income for American households in 2008 was 50,303 U.S. dollars, but the median incomes of Hispanic and black households were roughly 68 percent and 61.6 percent of that of the non-Hispanic white households.

And the median income of minority groups was about 60 to 80 percent of that of majority groups under the same conditions of education and skill background, the report added.

Ethnic minorities have been subject to serious racial discrimination in employment and workplace, the report said.

Minority groups bear the brunt of the U.S. unemployment. According to news reports, the U.S. unemployment rate in October 2009 was 10.2 percent. The jobless rate of the U.S. African-Americans jumped to 15.7 percent, that of the Hispanic rose to 13.1 percent and that of the white was 9.5 percent, the USA Today reported.

The U.S. minority groups face discriminations in education. According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, 33 percent of the non-Hispanic white has college degrees, proportion of the black was only 20 percent and Hispanic was 13 percent.

Racial discrimination in law enforcement and judicial system is very distinct. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, by the end of 2008, 3,161 men and 149 women per 100,000 persons in the U.S. black population were under imprisonment.

And a report released by New York City Police Department said that of the people involved in police shootings whose ethnicity could be determined in 2008, 75 percent were black, 22 percent were Hispanic; and 3 percent were white.

Ethnic hatred crimes are frequent. According to statistics released by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, a total of 7,783 hatred crimes occurred in 2008 in the United States, 51.3 percent of which were originated by racial discrimination and 19.5 percent were for religious bias and 11.5 percent were for national origins.

Widespread violent crimes

Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people, the report said.

In 2008, U.S. residents experienced 4.9 million violent crimes, 16.3 million property crimes and 137,000 personal thefts, and the violent crime rate was 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons aged 12 or over.

About 30,000 people die from gun-related incidents each year. According to an FBI report, there had been 14,180 murder victims in 2008, the report said.

Campuses became an area worst hit by violent crimes as shootings spread there and kept escalating. The U.S. Heritage Foundation reported that 11.3 percent of high school students in Washington D.C. reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the 2007-2008 school year.

Abuse of power

The country’s police frequently impose violence on the people and abuse of power is common among U.S. law enforcers, the report said,

Over the past two years, the number of New York police officers under review for garnering too many complaints was up 50 percent.

In major U.S. cities, police stop, question and frisk more than a million people each year, a sharply higher number than just a few years ago.

Prisons in the United State are packed with inmates. About 2.3 million were held in custody of prisons and jails, the equivalent of about one in every 198 persons in the country, according to the report.

From 2000 to 2008, the U.S. prison population increased an average of 1.8 percent annually.

The basic rights of prisoners in the United States are not well-protected. Raping cases of inmates by prison staff members are widely reported, the report said.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, reports of sexual misconduct by prison staff members with inmates in the country’s 93 federal prison sites doubled over the past eight years.

According to a federal survey of more than 63,000 federal and state inmates, 4.5 percent reported being sexually abused at least once during the previous 12 months.

Poverty leads to rising number of suicides

The report said the population in poverty was the largest in 11 years.

The Washington Post reported that altogether 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty by the end of 2008, an increase of 2.6 million from that in 2007. The poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, the highest since 1998.

Poverty led to a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the United States. It is reported that there are roughly 32,000 suicides in the U.S. every year, double the cases of murder, said the report.

Workers’ rights not properly guaranteed

Workers’ rights were seriously violated in the United States, the report said.

The New York Times reported that about 68 percent of the 4,387 low-wage workers in a survey said they had experienced reduction of wages and 76 percent of those who had worked overtime were not paid accordingly.

The number of people without medical insurance has kept rising for eight consecutive years, the report said.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed 46.3 million people were without medical insurance in 2008, accounting for 15.4 percent of the total population, comparing with 45.7 million people who were without medical insurance in 2007, which was a rise for the eighth year in a row.

Women, children frequent victims of violence

Women are frequent victims of violence and sexual assault in the United States, while children are exposed to violence and living in fear, the report said.

It is reported that the United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Reuters reported that based on in-depth interviews on 40 servicewomen, 10 said they had been raped, five said they were sexually assaulted including attempted rape, and 13 reported sexual harassment.

It is reported that 1,494 children younger than 18 nationwide were murdered in 2008, the USA Today reported.

A survey conducted by the U.S. Justice Department on 4,549 kids and adolescents aged 17 and younger between January and May of 2008 showed, more than 60 percent of children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly.

Trampling upon other countries ‘ sovereignty, human rights

The report said the United States with its strong military power has pursued hegemony in the world, trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and trespassing their human rights.

As the world’s biggest arms seller, its deals have greatly fueled instability across the world. The United States also expanded its military spending, already the largest in the world, by 10 percent in 2008 to 607 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 42 percent of the world total, the AP reported.

At the beginning of 2010, the U.S. government announced a 6.4-billion-U.S. dollar arms sales package to Taiwan despite strong protest from the Chinese government and people, which seriously damaged China’s national security interests and aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people, it said.

The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have placed heavy burden on American people and brought tremendous casualties and property losses to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report.

Prisoner abuse is one of the biggest human rights scandals of the United States, it said

An investigation by U.S. Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the U.S. army-controlled Afghan armed forces, the report said.

The United States has been building its military bases around the world, and cases of violation of local people’s human rights are often seen, the report said.

The United States is now maintaining 900 bases worldwide, with more than 190,000 military personnel and 115,000 relevant staff stationed.

These bases are bringing serious damage and environmental contamination to the localities. Toxic substances caused by bomb explosions are taking their tolls on the local children, it said.

It has been reported that toward the end of the U.S. military bases’ presence in Subic and Clark Philippines, as many as 3,000 cases of raping local women had been filed against the U.S. servicemen, but all were dismissed, according to the report.

Source

Related

More Pictures from Abu Ghraib

U.S. on List of UNICEF’s Worst Countries for Kids

February 14, 2007

A new report from the U.N. Children’s Fund says the United States and Britain are the worst countries in the industrialized world in which to be a child. UNICEF says an examination of 40 factors, such as poverty, deprivation, happiness, relationships, and risky or bad behavior puts the United States and Britain at the bottom of a list of 21 economically developed nations.

The UNICEF report sought to assess children’s well-being in developed countries by measuring a number of factors, including health, education, poverty, family relationships, and bad or risky behavior. Children were also asked to say whether they were happy.

In the overall table of children’s well-being, the Netherlands comes out on top, followed closely by the Scandinavian countries, which also have highly developed welfare systems. At the bottom are the United States at No. 20, and Britain at No. 21.

It’s not that developed welfare states necessarily have happier children, says David Parker of UNICEF.

“I think what we know from history in the U.S.,” Parker says, “is that it’s not necessarily how the welfare is provided but the nature of the support. One of the key things is that the role of government is important, but the entire society must have at its heart the idea of improving child well-being.”

The United States fared worst of all 21 countries in health and safety, measured by rates of infant mortality and accidents and injuries.

The United States and Britain were lowest overall in the category of behavior and risks, meaning that American and British children are more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol and be sexually active than children elsewhere.

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw from the University of York in England led the research into the project. He was scathing about the failures of successive British governments.

“We’ve failed to invest in child health, in child education, in child care,” Bradshaw says. “It’s the result of neglect, which other countries have not done… they’ve just spent more on their children, despite the fact they’re not as rich as we are.”

In almost all the categories, poorer nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic fared better than the United States and Britain.

Source

There are a few stories on Human Rights Violations in the US at the links below as well.

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

2.5 million Iraqi women were widowed by Iraq war

Doctors report “unprecedented” rise in deformities, cancers in Iraq

America’s Most Wanted The Top 50 US War Criminals

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Iraq War Images

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Israel and US were behind the Georgian Attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Who profits from WAR?

This is a list of countries that have US Nuclear Weapons.

US Nuclear weapons in Europe

There is more Happy  Hunting

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Recent

Tough-on-crime policies don’t work, study finds

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

Trial Witness ‘I saw Israeli bulldozer kill Rachel Corrie’

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


Recent

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”

Hiba Al-Shamaree Iraqi Female Blogger Trial set for March 3 2010

Canadian students participate in Israeli Apartheid Week

8.8-magnitude Earthquake in Chile

Outpouring Of Concern For Homeless Children From HuffPost Community

September 11. 2009

By Matthew Palevksy

On Wednesday, Arianna wrote about the human cost of the millions of foreclosures taking place across America. She focused on the surge in school children whose families have been evicted from their homes – and are struggling to learn while dealing with the instability and inherent distress of homelessness.

Inspired by Erik Eckholm’s reporting in the New York Times, Arianna tore up a speech she had prepared for a big education conference and instead talked to the gathered dignitaries about the crisis of homeless school kids.

Arianna’s post elicited an outpouring of concern and empathy from the Huffpost community.

“I actually cried while reading this article,” wrote BabeLush. “So much of us take for granted what we have. Being a victim of Hurricane Katrina I know how quickly your life can be turned upside down.”

And BabeLush was not alone. Dozens of people said the story moved them to tears while others were enraged by the absence of social justice. A commenter by the name PlainsWoman wrote:

“The effect of homelessness/poverty on our children is not only devastating to their academic achievement, it is also a civil rights issue. While the CEO’s get richer, we have children going without food and shelter every day.”

“To paraphrase a quote that has been attributed to Marcus Borg: ‘Charity is about helping victims, justice is about asking why there are victims.’ Where is the justice for these children and families?”

Among the outpouring of empathy, some have also contributed their own stories of homeless children in their community. Commenter Eilish wrote:

“My daughter-in-law had nine homeless students in her 1st grade class. The school was in chaos, feeding dozens of students free breakfast – that they hadn’t expected. These children slept at their desks, some cried because they were afraid their parents wouldn’t be able to find them after school. Some had head lice; some asked if they could wash in the bathroom. More than one sneaked some lunch into a napkin, and if noticed were extremely anxious…”

“Call a school near you and find out if they need help. Call your governor and ask where you can volunteer (that’ll get ’em thinking). There are food banks & shelters that are desperate for donations of food and money.”

“We’ve been offering our RV as a temporary stopgap for families who need time to get to a point where they have a secure place to go.”

Eilish was not alone in calling for action. As Arianna mentions in her blog, there are steps that the government can and should take to mitigate foreclosures and provide assistance to homeless school children. But we also have an individual responsibility to help our neighbors. Many have expressed an eagerness to aid children like Cody and Charity, but don’t know how to volunteer or which organization deserves their contribution. It seems that it’s too often the case that once you read a story about hardship, the inspiration to affect change is stymied by a lack of information about how best to lend a hand.

The Huffington Post wants to break down this barrier to getting involved. In early October, we are launching a new section called Impact in partnership with Causecast.org that will empower people concerned about social ills like child homelessness to make a difference. Impact will offer the community ways to take action, contribute and get involved.

We would like to hear from you. How do you think people can be part of the solution to the pressing issues of our day? If you have a story that you would like to share on the Huffington Post, or have tips on how people can get involved, write to us at impact@huffingtonpost.com.

If you are one of the many readers who saw Arianna’s post on homeless school children and thought, “How can I help?” sign up below to join the Impact mailing list. You will be kept up to date on ways you can contribute on both a local and national level:

Impact: Homeless School Children

In early October we will be launching a new feature called “Impact” in partnership with Causecast.org. Impact will empower people concerned about social ills like child homelessness to make a difference. Sign up now to get involved!

Source

This should be everyone’s concern. Anyone can become homeless.

Spending less on war and more on people would be a wonderful idea don’t you think?

There are over  one million schoolchildren who are homeless.

There are many children who are not in school who are also homeless.

I wonder how many there are all together?

New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.

200,000 War Veterans homeless in US

Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm  Comments Off on Outpouring Of Concern For Homeless Children From HuffPost Community  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lucky few leave Gaza, Israel planned attacks six months ago

Iranian clerics wearing shrouds chant slogans during an anti-Israeli demonstration after the Friday prayers at Palestine square of Tehran Jan. 2, protesting Israel's continuing bombardment of Gaza.`
Iranian clerics wearing shrouds chant slogans during an anti-Israeli demonstration after the Friday prayers at Palestine square of Tehran Jan. 2, protesting Israel’s continuing bombardment of Gaza.`
Photograph by: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

GAZA – They boarded buses in the pre-dawn murk on Friday, lucky foreign passport holders allowed by Israel to escape from seven days of Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip.

“The situation is very bad. We are afraid for our children,” said Ilona Hamdiya, a woman from Moldova married to a Palestinian. “We are very grateful to our embassy,” she said in lightly accented Arabic.

Between 350 and 450 foreigners were authorised by Israel to leave Gaza if they wish, via the forbidding concrete corridor that ushers them into Israel’s fortified crossing point and its panoply of security scanners to detect hidden suicide bombs.

Five busloads headed out on the short trip to the border, one of American passport holders and four of mainly East Europeans.

They left behind 1.5 million Palestinians unable to escape the conflict which has killed 414 people since it began last Saturday. Four Israelis have been killed by Gaza rockets.

Gaza city was waking up to another day of Israeli air strikes, flickering electricity and long queues for bread. Aside from the bakeries, the almost deserted streets were cold and dirty, littered with a week’s bombing debris.

Morning air strikes hit six houses. A Palestinian girl of about 14 died apparently of a heart attack, terrified by an explosion which rocked her house, neighbours said.

In the south an Israeli missile killed three children aged 8 to 12, as they played in the street in southern town of Khan Yunis. One was decapitated. At Shifa hospital in Gaza City, doctors could not disguise their anger.

“These injuries are not survivable injuries,” said Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon unable to save one boy who had both feet blown off. “This is a murder. This is a child,” he said.

At the UN Beach Distribution Centre, teenagers with rickety trolleys and men with horses and carts collected sacks of flour and other food aid from a warehouse replenished the day before by 70 aid trucks allowed in via Israel.

“Only God can get us out of this mess,” said one old man waiting to buy his ration of unleavened loaves.

DIE BEFORE GOD

At Jabalya refugee camp to the north, boys inspected the twisted concrete left by one of the Israeli air force’s latest targets, the so-called Mosque of Martyrs which Israel says was a a hidden arsenal and command post for fighters of the Islamist Hamas group which rules the Gaza Strip.

The air force supplied black and white cockpit video of the strike to underscore the large number of secondary explosions which it said proved its case.

Several mosques that would normally be busy before Friday prayers were still closed in the morning because they had been warned by Israel’s army that they would be bombed.

Nine have been hit since the attack began on Saturday.

“I will pray at home. You never know, they may bomb the mosque and destroy it on our heads,” said one man buying humus from a street stand. Another was defiant: “What better than to die while kneeling before God?” he said.

Gaza markets, normally bustling on a Friday, were deserted.

“It is an adventure to get out of your house to fetch a kilo of tomatoes or something,” said Abu Yasser, a father of four.

“But I must take my chances because my children are not to blame for this and they do not understand why all this is happening,” he told Reuters.

Hundreds of families say they have had telephone calls warning their houses would be bombed, and they have left to stay with relatives or friends. Some of their neighbours have packed up and gone as well, wary of becoming “collateral damage”.

Duct tape has been in heavy demand by Palestinians who tape up their windows hoping to protect against flying glass from the heavy explosions.

Hamas police moved about mostly in plain clothes, with no guns on display. Merchants were warned against war profiteering.

Source

The True Story Behind this War Is Not The One Israel Is Telling

By Johann Hari

December 29 2008
The world isn’t just watching the Israeli government commit a crime in Gaza; we are watching it self-harm. This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide vests or rockets. Israeli leaders have convinced themselves that the harder you beat the Palestinians, the softer they will become. But when this is over, the rage against Israelis will have hardened, and the same old compromises will still be waiting by the roadside of history, untended and unmade.

To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other, jobless and hungry, in vast, sagging tower blocks. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean, and Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall – as they are doing now with more deadly force than at any time since 1967 – there is nowhere to hide.

There will now be a war over the story of this war. The Israeli government says, “We withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and in return we got Hamas and Qassam rockets being rained on our cities. Sixteen civilians have been murdered. How many more are we supposed to sacrifice?” It is a plausible narrative, and there are shards of truth in it, but it is also filled with holes. If we want to understand the reality and really stop the rockets, we need to rewind a few years and view the run-up to this war dispassionately.

The Israeli government did indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – in order to be able to intensify control of the West Bank. Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser, Dov Weisglass, was unequivocal about this, explaining: “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians… this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely.”

Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders, so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn’t have been my choice – an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions – but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 per cent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 per cent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long, long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.

Rather than seize this opportunity and test Hamas’s sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. It announced that it was blockading the Gaza Strip in order to “pressure” its people to reverse the democratic process. The Israelis surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine – but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped that the Gazans were being “put on a diet”. According to Oxfam, only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza last month to feed 1.5 million people. The United Nations says poverty has reached an “unprecedented level.” When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food.

It was in this context – under a collective punishment designed to topple a democracy – that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when it has been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.

The American and European governments are responding with a lop-sidedness that ignores these realities. They say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate while under rocket fire, but they demand that the Palestinians do so under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank.

Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, “they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware that this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on “their” side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: “Israel’s war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth… If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas’s court – it is in ours.”

Source

The video also states that Israel planned the attacks over six months ago.

Live Video Coverage Of Israel’s Attack On Gaza.

If anyone thinks the US cares about Gaza you are wrong.
US gives Israel free rein on whether to invade Gaza

WASHINGTON

January 3 2008

US President George W. Bush, in remarks to be broadcast Saturday, urged all able parties to press Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel and secure a lasting ceasefire, after a week of heavy Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

His administration meanwhile gave Israel free rein over whether to send ground troops into Gaza, despite growing criticism over its handling of a conflict that has killed at least 436 Palestinians and left 2,290 others wounded.

At least 75 of those killed have been children, according to emergency services inside Gaza.

“The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that is fully respected,” Bush said in his weekly radio address, the text of which was released by the White House in advance.

These were his first remarks since the conflict erupted a week ago.

He said “I urge all parties to pressure Hamas to turn away from terror, and to support legitimate Palestinian leaders working for peace,” including Mahmud Abbas, president of the US-backed Palestinian Authority.

He said he has been in contact with Abbas as well as King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel.

Bush, who hands the White House to his successor Barack Obama in just 18 days, blamed Hamas for the latest violence and rejected a unilateral ceasefire that would allow Hamas to continue to attack Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas shared power with the Palestinian Authority for a period after winning parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006 but the arrangement collapsed and Hamas seized power outright in Gaza in June 2007.

“This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas — a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel’s destruction,” Bush said.

Bush said the Israeli strikes were in self-defense after Hamas let a six-month ceasefire lapse on December 19 and fired rockets at Israel.

He also accused Hamas of putting Palestinian lives at risk by hiding among them.

White House deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe earlier said the United States has urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties in their military operations, whether they involve continued air assaults or a ground incursion.

“Those will be decisions made by the Israelis,” he said when asked if Israel would be justified in launching a ground assault.

Israel has thousands of troops massed for a ground offensive on Gaza that would aim to deal a hammer blow to Hamas and re-establish Israel’s military credentials with its other foes, experts said.

After briefing Bush earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington sought a “ceasefire that would not allow a re-establishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza.”

She added: “It is obvious that ceasefire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a ceasefire that is durable and sustainable.”

Rice has had a flurry of consultations with her counterparts from Israel, Arab countries as well as Russia, Britain and the European Union, officials said. Johndroe added that Rice has also spoken to Obama in the last week.

Asked if she planned to travel to the Middle East to broker an end to the crisis, Rice replied: “I have no plans at this point.”

The Israeli offensive has prompted condemnation from around the world, but particularly from Arab and Muslim countries.

In New York, Amnesty International sent a letter to Rice berating the administration for its “lopsided” support for the Israeli assault and urged it to suspend weapons deliveries to Israel.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser for US president Jimmy Carter, told CNN television that Rice’s remarks “clearly show that the US policy right now is completely bankrupt” and the Israeli offensive “will further radicalize the Palestinians.”

He said Obama, whom he supports, will have to make a “fresh start” when he succeeds Bush on January 20.

But the US president-elect has kept silent on the latest phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with his aides saying their boss was “monitoring” the situation.

Source

The bottom line is Israel wants all of “What use to be Palestine”.

That has been the plan from the beginning. The US has been helping them do this.
Don’t be fooled by Israel or the US pretending to negotiate anything. They lie. Both have been lieing for years.
This will also lead to the destabilization of the Middle East in general. The on going war is for power and profiteering.
Just a pitty Israel leaders are so blind to the fact, they are being used by the US for their own self serving agenda.
When a county like the US give billions of dollars to a country for weapons, be  suspicious very suspicious. Israel is just doing the dirty work for the US as did Saddam way back when the US helped Iraq, only to attack Iran of course. Somethings are so obvious if you know a bit about history.

U.S. Government Uses Al-Qaeda To Attack Iran
Bush authorizes group formerly headed by alleged 9/11 mastermind to be bankrolled & armed by CIA for covert regime change

May 28, 2007
Paul Joseph Watson & Steve Watson

Recent revelations illustrating the fact that the U.S. government is using a Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorist group formerly headed by the alleged mastermind of 9/11 to carry out bombings in Iran undermines the entire war on terror as a monumental hoax that is being exploited purely to realize a geopolitical agenda.

“President George W Bush has given the CIA approval to launch covert “black” operations to achieve regime change in Iran, intelligence sources have revealed. Mr Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.””The CIA is giving arms-length support, supplying money and weapons, to an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, which has conducted raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan,” the London Telegraph reported yesterday.

Jundullah is a Sunni Al-Qaeda offshoot organization that was formerly headed by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even if you believe the official story of 9/11 to the letter, the fact that Bush has personally authorized U.S. support for this group completely dismantles the facade of the war on terror.

The group has been blamed for a number of bombings inside Iran aimed at destabilizing Ahmadinejad’s government and is also active in Pakistan , having been fingered for its involvement in attacks on police stations and car bombings at the Pakistan-US Cultural Center in 2004.

The U.S. government is arming and directing a Sunni Al-Qaeda group to carry out bombings in Iran and yet Bush has the temerity to grandstand during his Rose Garden speech last week and wave the Al-Qaeda bogeyman to strike the fear of God into American citizens.

“As to al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda is going to fight us wherever we are. That’s their strategy. Their strategy is to drive us out of the Middle East. They have made it abundantly clear what they want. They want to establish a caliphate. They want to spread their ideology. They want safe haven from which to launch attacks. They’re willing to kill the innocent to achieve their objectives, and they will fight us. And the fundamental question is, will we fight them? I have made the decision to do so. I believe that the best way to protect us in this war on terror is to fight them,” Bush said on Thursday.


Arms cache belonging to Jundullah – the Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorist group being funded by the CIA with President Bush’s approval.Bush’s definition of fighting Al-Qaeda is apparently to lend them all the funds, weapons and tactical know how they need to carry out attacks against innocent civilians in Iran, and let us not forget that America’s allies the British have also been caught training insurgents in Iraq to carry out hi-tech bombings that are later blamed on Iran – just as the SAS worked with U.S. special forces to train the KLA in Kosovo , which was also an Al-Qaeda chapter having been financed directly by Bin Laden himself.

But in the world of newspeak and the lowest common denominator propaganda that cloaks the real agenda of the “war on terror”, anyone who rises up against occupation, be it a kid who throws a rock in Baghdad or a car bombing on behalf of an increasingly Shiite-led insurgency, the natural enemies of the Sunni “Al-Qaeda,” are terrorists and are Al-Qaeda members.

A cruel irony exists whereby anyone and everyone who opposes military occupation is smeared as an Al-Qaeda terrorist and yet the only real Al-Qaeda terrorists are being bankrolled, armed and directed by the CIA itself, with Bush’s explicit approval.

Since President Bush didn’t know the difference between Sunni & Shiite Muslims until two months before the invasion of Iraq and the incoming chairman of a congressional intelligence committee said Al Qaeda prominently came from the Shia branch of Islam, we can’t hold out much hope for Joe Public and this is why the simplest propaganda is always the most effective.

They’re the bad guys, we’re the good guys – black and white with no shades of gray.

In reality, Al-Qaeda only exists within intelligence circles coordinated by the highest echelons of the U.S. government, and is being used yet again as a tool for destabilization in nations targeted for regime change by the Neo-Cons.

Jundullah is not the only anti-Iranian terror group that US government has been accused of funding in an attempt to pressure the Iranian government.

Multiple credible individuals including US intelligence whistleblowers and former military personnel have asserted that the government is conducting covert military operations inside Iran using guerilla groups to carry out attacks on Iranian Revolution Guard units.

It is widely suspected that the well known right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, is now working exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and carrying out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.

After a bombing inside Iran in March, the London Telegraph also reported on how a high ranking CIA official has blown the whistle on the fact that America is secretly funding terrorist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear program.

Source

Could it be that the US is using Israel to get a war going with Iran yet again as they did with Saddam in 1980. Are they really telling  Israel they can secure all of what was known as Palestine? Yes to both I would guess.

Never underestimate the nasty deeds of the US.  Gaza is being used to anger everyone and it is to date working very well.

The US wants Iran to help those in Gaza just so Israel will be able to attack them as well.  How much you want to bet I am right?

When Israel rammed the boat going into Gaza with medical supplies, I am guessing they thought it was the one from Iran.  Israel has been itching for a war with Iran as much as the US is and has been for some time.

Gaza is part of a bigger picture I think.

Would I trust either the US or the Israeli Government at this point.

NO absolutely not.

The US has vetoed every resolution brought forth by the UN to resolve the the Israel- Gaza situation.  They have vetoed over 40 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the council since 1972. Anything the US says at this point is  pure propaganda, lies and BS.

If Hamas Did Not Exist

Ontario man’s Gaza trip an extended nightmare, he is trapped in Gaza

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, Israelis-Palestinians

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

Global protests against Israel

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

Israel Responsible for Genocide by Starvation in Gaza

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty

Pro-Obama Haitian-Americans want help

Pro-Obama Haitian-Americans want help
December 30 2008

LAUDERHILL, Fla.,

Haitian-American leaders who turned out the vote for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Florida say they expect him to help ease crises in their homeland.

Members of a Broward County, Fla., branch of Haitians for Obama, which worked hard to canvass ethnic communities for the president-elect, say that while immigration and the economy are big issues for them, they also expect Obama’s administration to work more closely with Haitian leaders to help their impoverished native country, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

“Our country is in a permanent crisis,” group member Aude Sicard told the newspaper. “We’re not simply asking for humanitarian aid, but we want this country to send technicians and engineers and see a true path for development in Haiti.”

Saying they’ll continue to build on the activism established to elect Obama, the Haitian-Americans have vowed to continue to lobby for temporary protected status, which would grant undocumented Haitian immigrants in the right to work in the United States legally until their homeland becomes more stable, the Sun-Sentinel said.

Source

U.S. Haiti policy senseless, deadly
By Myriam Marquez
December 31, 2008

Two years ago, Louiness and Sheryl Petit-Frere were newlyweds celebrating their good fortune. Both from Haiti, they had found love and each other in Miami.

Today, Louiness, a 31-year-old baker, waits at the Glades detention facility in Central Florida to be sent to a country he hasn’t seen in a decade, where no one waits for him.

His 27-year-old bride in Miami tries to make sense of a senseless immigration law that would deport an otherwise law-abiding, working man because he had an old asylum petition denied.

Never mind that he is married to a U.S. citizen, that he had, in good faith, filed for legal status and had shown up for the interview at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office when he was hauled away like a common criminal.

Petit-Frere’s mother and five siblings are all permanent U.S. residents, including his brother, Sgt. Nikenson Peirreloui, a U.S. Marine with a war injury to show for his two tours in Iraq. But none of that matters.

The U.S. government deems it imperative to deport Petit-Frere, who has no criminal record, to a place decimated by four back-to-back storms this summer, with thousands of starving, dehydrating children left homeless and adults facing no prospects for jobs.

“It seems terrible,” his mother, Francina Pierre, told me Saturday while she waited for her daughter-in-law to get off work as a grocery store clerk.

“He has nobody left in Haiti,” she said. “My mom died, my dad died, my sister died. And my two brothers live here. One is a U.S. citizen and the other is a permanent resident. We have no more family living in Haiti, no more.”

The Bush administration had sensibly put deportations to Haiti on hold after a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms destroyed parts of the island, leaving thousands without work or home. But the president stopped short of granting temporary protected status, or TPS, to Haitians living in the United States without proper documentation.

Natural disasters generally qualify for TPS consideration — as Central Americans with TPS can attest. But Haitians can never seem to catch a break.

U.S. immigration officials decided recently that it would be just dandy to deport Haitians while recovery efforts on their part of Hispaniola proceed in spurts and stops, as children die of malnutrition and mudslides continue to impede reconstruction.

“How can this nation in good conscience send children and families to face the terrible conditions that exist in Haiti?” Cheryl Little, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center’s executive director, said in a statement. “People could die because of this decision.”

She’s not crying wolf.

The conditions in Haiti cry out for solutions — not asinine deportations that only exacerbate an already untenable situation.

As President Bush looks through his list of pardons to wipe the slate clean for criminals, he should move to do more for the common man, people like Louiness Petit-Frere. Why not grant TPS for Haitians who have no criminal record, so they can stay and work here until conditions improve in their country?

Those who do have family in Haiti can send money and goods back to help the reconstruction and rev up the economy.

TPS was designated for catastrophic situations like Haiti’s. There’s no reason to deny Haitians TPS. Only racist excuses.

Source

Thrice-built house embodies Haiti aid shortfalls
By JONATHAN M. KATZ
December 30 2008

GONAIVES, Haiti

The farmer camps in a crude tent of broken sandbags as he guards the foundation of his destroyed home and his last possessions: a pickax, a hoe and some charcoal.

This is the third time Olisten Elerius is preparing to build his tiny cinderblock house. Four years ago, Tropical Storm Jeanne flooded it and drowned his father, sister and nephew. Then, late this summer, Tropical Storm Hanna swallowed it along with his daughter and another sister. It could happen again.

After Jeanne struck in 2004, more than $70 million in aid went to immediate relief such as food, medical aid and jobs, but little went to flood control, according to an Associated Press review of relief spending. Despite pledges to prevent such devastation in the future, few projects to build drains, fix roads and stop erosion were even attempted.

In other parts of Haiti, U.S. officials launched an ambitious flood control project. But it took 3 1/2 years to plan and was not placed in Gonaives because of a lack of funding.

So when four major storms hit within a month this year, nothing stopped the La Quinte River from roaring over its banks again. It inundated farmers like Elerius on its way to the center of Gonaives, where men, women and children swam for miles through swirling waters to escape. The storms killed 793 people and caused $1 billion in damage.

“The authorities were always coming here to take pictures and measure things,” Elerius said. “The words in their mouths said they would help, but they never did anything.”

Top officials agree that efforts fell short.

“I think we were very successful in getting Gonaives back on its feet,” Alexandre Deprez, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said of the work after Jeanne. “But it is true that we didn’t put the time and the resources to do what needs to be done in the longer term.”

___

Haiti’s floods are not natural disasters, but a direct result of widespread deforestation, erosion and poverty. Farmers cut trees for charcoal and plant shallow-rooted crops. Rains that would be forgotten elsewhere can kill thousands.

In 2004, Elerius was working in the neighboring Dominican Republic when Tropical Storm Jeanne came twisting like a wounded animal out of the northern sky, sending a wall of water through his cinderblock home and sweeping away his father, sister and nephew. Gonaives residents fled to their rooftops as rivers broke their banks, overflowing morgues with bloated corpses.

A horrified world pledged to help. Elerius returned home just as the money and the white SUVs of non-governmental organizations began flowing into Gonaives, in the north of Haiti.

The U.N. appealed for $37 million in flood relief. Washington would donate more than $45 million, first for emergency food and supplies and then through USAID for the two-year, $34 million Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program.

Disaster officials, newspapers and aid workers called for well-planned, well-financed, long-term aid. Haitian officials told the agencies to spend the money on projects that would save lives: secure rivers, fix roads, design better canals, build homes with better drainage to the sea.

But the U.N. member states, distracted by the Indian Ocean tsunami four months later, raised less than half their funding target.

Work was hampered by violence and insecurity. The Inter-American Development Bank provided about $10 million in loans, mostly for construction of a small drainage system. That project was abandoned by Haitian contractors after bandits stole the cement and steel, IDB representative Philippe Dewez said.

Washington sent money mostly for short-term projects: cleanup, restoration and repair of basic services such as schools, health clinics, roads, bridges and homes. In 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that U.S. organizations cleared more than 2 million cubic feet of mud and restored the livelihoods of 48,000 people. But the GAO said they failed to meet an already reduced target for houses and completed no roads or bridges.

Elerius rebuilt his family’s flimsy home at Mapou, a flat plain on the outskirts of the city, just 50 feet from the La Quinte River after it descends from barren mountains toward the sea.

On the denuded hillside, USAID said projects to grow plant cover and build terraces have restored 3,700 acres of the La Quinte watershed — 2 percent of the basin. But few trees are visible, and local officials said most saplings were eaten by goats.

Corruption watchdogs with Transparency International said public funds — nobody seems to know exactly how much — were distributed with little oversight by the U.S.-backed interim government.

Soon after Jeanne, USAID commissioned a study of Haiti’s watersheds, which led to an ambitious $18 million effort to reduce flooding. Work did not begin until February 2008.

The report recommended action in high-risk flood areas, including Gonaives. But the U.S. Congress only gave enough money for the agency to start in two smaller, less populated watersheds — Limbe in the north and Mountrouis in the west, both more than 40 miles away from Gonaives. Some money went to a project on a Port-au-Prince river this year.

“With the funding that we were given we said to ourselves, ‘Why go into a place where you’re not going to make a difference?’ ” Deprez told The Associated Press. “Go into a place where you can focus and make a difference and test the approach that was recommended.”

It will take five years to know the effects of the pilot flood-control programs. Officials then hope to replicate them elsewhere.

But the storms didn’t wait.

___

Starting in mid-August, Tropical Storm Fay hit Haiti, followed by Gustav, Hanna and Ike. They destroyed thousands of homes, devastated crops and set the country back decades. Starving families, whose plight had fueled April riots, got even hungrier.

On the dark afternoon of Sept. 2 in Gonaives, there was no warning as mountain run-off began to gather in ravines. Officials were not given orders to evacuate, and in any case no plan was in place. There was nobody to clear fallen trees that had jammed a bridge on the La Quinte River and caused it to divert the day before.

Elerius was in town getting supplies when he heard radio reports about a new storm. Even as rain fell in Gonaives, radio broadcasts in Port-Au-Prince, the capital, repeated predictions that it would veer to the north, away from Haiti.

It was only word of mouth that sent Elerius running home. There he found the river had again become an ocean, his family submerged and his house disintegrating.

He dived into the water and pulled his mother and 4-year-old son Jonslay to safety. Then he yelled for his 6-year-old daughter, Joniska, and his 21-year-old little sister, Jimele.

Neither called back.

This time, without a network of roads that could withstand the flooding, Gonaives was trapped. A Haitian-funded causeway needed to connect it to the capital, 80 miles away across the cactus plain of Savanne Desolee, was left half-finished, denying scores of families a way out. Refugees climbed its scaffolding to escape the rising waters.

Others were stranded on their rooftops. It took four days for the U.N. to bring in ample food aid by ship.

Some development workers say the reduced death toll this year — in the hundreds instead of thousands — validates their efforts. But survivors and local officials say more survived this time because the memory of Jeanne sent them running for higher ground.

Today in Gonaives, homeless families crowd tent neighborhoods. Men scrounge for fish in stagnant floodwaters. Schoolgirls wear sunglasses and surgical masks to block the clouds of dirt that cover the city. The road to Port-au-Prince is still blocked by an enormous lake.

As former Gonaives disaster management coordinator Faustin Joseph said, “Everybody failed.”

The craggy roads of Gonaives are filled again with white SUVs. The U.N. issued a $107 million appeal, of which it has raised about half, and is now requesting $20 million more. The World Food Program has delivered more than 11,000 tons of food. The Haitian government has set aside $198 million for rebuilding roads, fortifying river beds and restoring agriculture.

The U.S. government pledged more than $30 million in immediate relief. Another $96 million from Congress is on its way.

President Rene Preval told the U.N. General Assembly in September he feared that “once this first wave of humanitarian compassion is exhausted, we will be left as always, truly alone, to face new catastrophes and see restarted, as if in a ritual, the same exercises of mobilization.”

Some in Gonaives have become restless.

“If things go like they did after Jeanne again, and it looks like people are doing nothing, we might get up and start burning things down,” said Odrigue Toussaint, 40, who has not worked since he lost his motorcycle to Hanna. “We will let the authorities know it can’t happen again.”

Elerius sent his son, mother and siblings to live with neighbors. He never found the bodies of his sister and daughter.

He sleeps on the dirty ground under the plastic tent. Inside it’s stiflingly hot during the day but cooler at night.

The La Quinte River gouged a shallow canyon through what was once his farmland, where he planted onions, plantains and potatoes. The topsoil washed to the streets of Gonaives, encasing the city in mud.

Haitian construction crews put the river back into its bed a week after Hanna, just as they did after Jeanne, and built temporary levies with gravel and sandbags that Elerius pilfered to make his tent. The bags were falling apart anyway, he said.

The farmer who keeps losing everything is resigned.

“Whatever they do now we’ll accept it,” Elerius said. “I just wish they would have already done more.”

Source

The Rebirth of Konbit in Haiti

Haiti’s road to ruin

Starvation slams Haiti: Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock

Haitian children died from severe malnutrition

Top Ten Myths About Iraq, 2008

By Juan Cole
December 26, 2008

1. Iraqis are safer because of Bush’s War. In fact, conditions of insecurity have helped created both an internal and external refugee problem:

‘ At least 4.2 million Iraqis were displaced. These included 2.2 million who were displaced within Iraq and some 2 million refugees, mostly in Syria (around 1.4 million) and Jordan (around half a million). In the last months of the year both these neighbouring states, struggling to meet the health, education and other needs of the Iraqi refugees already present, introduced visa requirements that impeded the entry of Iraqis seeking refuge. Within Iraq, most governorates barred entry to Iraqis fleeing sectarian violence elsewhere.’

2. Large numbers of Iraqis in exile abroad have returned. In fact, no great number have returned, and more Iraqis may still be leaving to Syria than returning.

3. Iraqis are materially better off because of Bush’s war. In fact, A million Iraqis are “food insecure” and another 6 million need UN food rations to survive. Oxfam estimated in summer, 2007, that 28% of Iraqi children are malnourished.

4. The Bush administration scored a major victory with its Status of Forces Agreement. In fact, The Iraqis forced on Bush an agreement that the US would withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, 2009,and would completely withdraw from the Country by the end of 2011. The Bush administration had wanted 58 long-term bases, and the authority to arrest Iraqis at will and to launch military operations unilaterally.

5. Minorities in Iraq are safer since Bush’s invasion. In fact, there have in 2008 been significant attacks on and displacement of Iraqi Christians from Mosul. In early January of 2008, guerrillas bombed churches in Mosul, wounding a number of persons. More recently, some 13,000 Christians have had to flee Mosul because of violence.

6. The sole explanation for the fall in the monthly death rate for Iraqi civilians was the troop excalation or surge of 30,000 extra US troops in 2007. In fact, troop levels had been that high before without major effect. The US military did good counter-insurgency in 2007. The major reason for the fall in the death toll, however, was that the Shiites won the war for Baghdad, ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from the capital, and turning it into a city with a Shiite majority of 75 to 80 percent. (When Bush invaded, Baghdad was about 50/50 Sunni and Shiite). The high death tolls in 2006 and 2007 were a by-product of this massive ethnic cleansing campaign. Now, a Shiite militiaman in Baghdad would have to drive for a while to find a Sunni Arab to kill.

7. John McCain alleged that if the US left Iraq, it would be promptly taken over by al-Qaeda. In fact, there are few followers of Usamah Bin Laden in Iraq. The fundamentalist extremists, if that is what McCain meant, are not supported by most Sunni Arabs. They are supported by no Shiites (60% of Iraq) or Kurds (20% of Iraq), and are hated by Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan, who would never allow such a takeover.

8. The Iraq War made the world safer from terrorism. In fact, Iraq has become a major training ground for extremists and is implicated in the major bombings in Madrid, London, and Glasgow.

9. Bush went to war in Iraq because he was given bad intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities. In fact, the State Department’s Intelligence & Research (I & R) division cast doubt on the alarmist WMD stories that Bush/Cheney put about. The CIA refused to sign off on the inclusion of the Niger uranium lie in the State of the Union address, which made Bush source it to the British MI6 instead. The Downing Street Memo revealed that Bush fixed the intelligence around the policy. Bush sought to get up a provocation such as a false flag attack on UN planes so as to blame it on Iraq. And UN weapons inspectors in Feb.-Mar. of 2003 examined 100 of 600 suspected weapons sites and found nothing; Bush’s response was to pull them out and go to war.

10. Douglas Feith and other Neoconservatives didn’t really want a war with Iraq (!). Yeah, that was why they demanded war on Iraq with their 1996 white paper for Bibi Netanyahu and again in their 1998 Project for a New American Century letter to Clinton, where they explicitly called for military action. The Neoconservatives are notorious liars and by the time they get through with rewriting history, they will be a combination of Gandhi and Mother Teresa and the Iraq War will be Bill Clinton’s fault. The only thing is, I think people are wise to them by now. Being a liar can actually get you somewhere. Being a notorious liar is a disadvantage if what you want to is get people to listen to you and act on your advice. I say, Never Again.

See also my article in The Nation, “Iraq: The Necessary Withdrawal,” and this piece in the Toronto Star.

Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute – Visit his website http://www.juancole.com/

Source

Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 5:37 am  Comments Off on Top Ten Myths About Iraq, 2008  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IDB helps, ICE hurts Haiti:Mr. President, are you listening?

IDB helps, ICE hurts Haiti KUDOS TO IDB

The decision by the Inter American Development Bank to offer Haiti an additional $50 million in assistance next year may be the best news that beleaguered Caribbean country has received in a long time. In a nation as poor as Haiti, that extra aid should make a difference in the lives of some of the neediest people.

”Haiti is the most fragile of our member countries,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno when he announced the grant last weekend. “No other nation in Latin America and the Caribbean is as vulnerable to economic shocks and natural disasters. As such, it requires extraordinary assistance from the international community.”

He’s right. Simply giving Haiti more money won’t put it on a stable footing, but the level of destitution is such that the country can’t even begin to think about stability or rebuilding until it can improve its ability to feed and house its people and restart the economy.

That requires foreign aid. Other nations and international organizations should follow the IDB’s example.

ICE: THUMBS DOWN

If the IDB is part of the solution for Haiti, the U.S. government agency that enforces immigration is part of the problem. By any measure, Haiti is ill-prepared to care for more destitute people, yet Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE — has resumed deportations after a brief respite because of the devastation wreaked by this year’s storms.

This wrongheaded decision makes no sense at all. The country remains in dire straits, a nation suffering from hunger, misery and a host of associated ills, yet ICE cited ”the circumstances in Haiti” as the basis for resuming deportations.

Six South Florida members of Congress — three Democrats and three Republicans — have appealed to the White House to adopt a more compassionate position. ”Sending Haitian nationals back to Haiti is both inhumane and unsafe,” Republican lawmakers Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in their joint letter.

Mr. President, are you listening?

Source

Poverty crushing the People of Haiti

Haitian children died from severe malnutrition

Starvation slams Haiti: Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock

Haiti’s road to ruin

The Rebirth of Konbit in Haiti

Published in: on December 19, 2008 at 6:25 am  Comments Off on IDB helps, ICE hurts Haiti:Mr. President, are you listening?  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Rebirth of Konbit in Haiti

Soros Cyclone over Haiti
The rebirth of Konbit in Haiti

01

Thousands of Haitians demonstrated throughout Haiti on December 16, 2008. The date commemorated Haiti’s first free and democratic elections in 1990 that signaled the birth of the Lavalas political movement.

02

ON Dec. 16, 2008- Demonstrators demanded the return of Aristide who now lives in exile in the Republic of South Africa. They also demanded an end to the UN occupation, the release of all Lavalas political prisoners who still remain behind bars, and an end to the rampant profiteering by Haiti’s predatory wealthy elite that has resulted in growing misery and hunger.

By Kevin Pina

The US, France and Canada worked to oust the democratically elected government of Haiti in 2004 in a coup that was purposely cloaked in a so-called domestic rebellion. To this day an uncritical international press, that was itself culpable in hiding the truth behind Aristide’s ouster, continues to parrot ridiculous assertions about the reality behind his overthrow and the intense campaign of political repression against his Lavalas movement.

During 2004-2006, thousands of Haitians were murdered by the police, jailed or forced into exile. What emerged was a wholesale campaign of violence waged against Lavalas that was largely maintained through the silence of human rights organizations and the international press.

The unfortunate truth is that the police and their operatives in the Haitian state were often aided and abetted; at first, by U.S, Marines, Canadian Special Forces, French Foreign Legion; and later by U.N. forces in Haiti. The ultimate purpose and intent of this violent campaign has been all too clear, to mutilate Lavalas and alter, through violence, Haiti’s political landscape.

Yesterday, December 16, was the 18th anniversary of Haiti’s first free and democratic elections that gave rise to the Lavalas movement which catapulted Aristide into the presidency in 1990.

Thousands of Haitians took to the streets throughout the country to commemorate that day and to demand the return of Aristide who now lives in exile in the Republic of South Africa. They also demanded an end to the UN occupation, the release of all Lavalas political prisoners who still remain behind bars, and an end to the rampant profiteering by Haiti’s predatory wealthy elite that has resulted in growing misery and hunger.

The event stood as a stark reminder to those policy makers who were behind the coup, and those who continue to maintain order based upon its outcome, that the Lavalas movement in Haiti is far from dead.

This reality raises several important questions. The first question is to those who supported the coup and the violent campaign against the Lavalas movement: can you honestly say that Haitians are better off today than they were before February 29, 2004?

Did you really expect the intervention to improve Haiti when, in fact, all indicators are that Haitians are suffering today from levels of malnutrition and infant mortality that are considered high even by Haitian standards?

For everyone concerned about Haiti today: as the presidential elections approach in 2011 and Lavalas reorganizes as a serious contender, once again representing the poor majority, will democratic elections be realized?

Or will Haiti have to endure this endless cycle of foreign intervention all over again?

Can real democracy prevail even as powerful interests, from foreign governments and Haiti’s wealthy elite to a plethora of non-governmental organizations, risk losing their investments in altering the political landscape and turning the page on the Lavalas movement?

If history is any indicator, the current supporters and apologists for the cynical nation-building and social engineering project Haiti has become in the international community, have dug their tentacles deep into the flesh of Haiti’s body politic.

As an indicator of just how deep, the president of the Haitian Senate, Kely Bastien, said earlier this week that the majority of Haiti’s national budget (provided by the international community) is managed by non-governmental organizations. Still, they should know, the concepts of self-determination, freedom and liberty in Haitian culture runs more deeply to the bone.

Konbit and the concept of Haitians working for the benefit of Haitians, is not dead in Haiti. It quietly resides in the consciousness of the Haitian people and waits for the right moment to awaken.

Yesterday’s commemoration of December 16 is but one of several reminders that Haitians have not forgotten what it is like to run their own country and tend to their own affairs.

Contrary to popular belief, Haitians were not always forced to live off charity and rely upon the largess of foreign patrons.

For most Haitians, their dream is that this nightmare will soon come to an end, and for better or worse, that they will once again be free to rise and fall based upon their own strengths and efforts. That simple freedom, which many of Haiti’s patrons claim for themselves and take for granted, is the wellspring of dignity and self-sufficiency for any people. It is the real message of December 16 in Haiti.

Source

They need help they have been through many tragedies the 4 storms have made things much worse. One never sees anything on the News about Haiti like it is a secret. Where they have been and what they have been through should not be hidden , the rest of the world should know what is happening to them. Ignoring their plight is not acceptable.

To many are dieing. To many are starving.

They are getting some help  but it certainly isn’t enough.

Why is the world media ignoring them? One really has to wonder.

Few are helping Haitians recover from natural disaster-and still fewer see the bigger problem.

Haiti’s road to ruin

Education not enough to fix Native disparities

December 11, 2008
By Carlito Pablo

Anyone who has paid attention to the plight of Native people knows that their average educational levels are low compared to other social groups. The lack of schooling is often cited as one reason why many Natives are poor.Closing the educational gap between aboriginal and nonaboriginal peoples is often cited as a key step in bridging the income disparity
between them.

However, a working paper by two professors who are also brothers—one in Vancouver and the other in Ottawa—offers a sobering conclusion that this equation doesn’t seem to fit nicely.

In “Aboriginal Income Disparity in Canada”, SFU economics professor Krishna Pendakur and University of Ottawa assistant professor of public and international affairs Ravi Pendakur observe that even Native persons “who attain high levels of education still face substantial earnings disparity”.

“We find little evidence of high returns to education for Aboriginal people in any of our groups,” the Pendakurs write in the still-unpublished academic work. “Although Aboriginal incomes do rise with increased education, this finding suggests that even those Aboriginal people with high levels of education face considerable economic disparity.”

In a phone interview, SFU’s Pendakur argued that this finding has potentially significant policy implications.

“You might have thought that they [aboriginal people] were just part of the kind of bottom end or unlucky end of Canadian ethnic diversity,” Pendakur told the Georgia Straight. “But, in fact, they’re so far below the bottom end of nonaboriginal disparity that you kind of start worrying about aboriginal people, and it’s not worth worrying about anybody else. All policy approaches to inequality and poverty have to face aboriginal issues head-on.”

In a 2007 article that the Pendakurs cited in their working paper, the professors established that Canadian-born blacks and South Asians fare poorly in terms of income compared to other persons of similar education, age, and city of residence.

Canadian-born South Asian and black men earn 16 percent less than others, except Natives, while South Asian and black women face an income disparity of six percent and 12 percent, respectively.

In their new paper, the Pendakurs note that aboriginal people actually fare worse that South Asians and blacks.

For one thing, Native persons registered under the Indian Act earn 20 percent to 50 percent less than the rest of the population. Aboriginal persons who do not register under the Indian Act but self-identify as Métis, Inuit, or a member of a First Nation earn, on average, 10 to 40 percent less.

Those who neither register nor self-identify but who acknowledge aboriginal ancestry are the “least disadvantaged”, but they face an earning disparity of 10 percent to 20 percent, which is no better than South Asians and blacks.

“From a comparison of these findings, it appears that a little ‘Aboriginality’ is associated with very poor labour market outcomes,” the Pendakurs note in their paper.

They also warn that with Natives comprising the fastest-growing but poorest ethnic group in Canada, the disenfranchisement of aboriginal people “faces considerable risk of growing over time”.

Amidst all this, the educational prospects of aboriginal people continue to worsen.

Two months ago, the C. D. Howe Institute, a Toronto-based think tank, released a paper about the growing education gap between aboriginal and nonaboriginal peoples, as reflected in the 2006 census.

Author John Richards, a professor in SFU’s graduate public-policy program, writes in Closing the Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal Education Gaps that although high-school graduation is almost universal among non-Native groups, 40 percent of young Natives aged 20 to 24 lack high-school certification. Among Natives aged 25 to 44, some 32 percent have not finished high school.

In his paper, Richards recalls that in November 2005, then Liberal prime minister Paul Martin concluded the Kelowna Accord with provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders. The succeeding Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose to ignore this pact. One of the agreement’s stated goals was to close the aboriginal and nonaboriginal high-school completion gap in a decade.

However, Richards notes that based on the current record of Canada in kindergarten to Grade 12 school performance, the Kelowna Accord’s educational goal is a “chimera”.

Ken Clement was elected as a new member of the Vancouver school board in last month’s civic election, and he feels an added weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders.

As a trustee, Clement is expected to help ensure that the school district’s resources are managed well for all students and other stakeholders in the city. But there’s more. As a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation, Clement is also the first Native politician to be elected in Vancouver. As such, there is much expectation that he will provide a voice for Native people amid the widening educational gap between them and the non-Native population.

“We need to strengthen the aboriginal involvement in the school system,” Clement told the Straight as he prepared for the new school board’s inaugural meeting on December 8.

Source

UNICEF Reports 2008

Drowning, other accidents kill 800,000 kids a year

By BEN STOCKING

December 11 2008

HANOI, Vietnam

Simple things like seat belts, childproof medicine caps and fences around pools could help prevent half of the 2,000 child deaths worldwide that occur every day because of accidents, UN officials said Wednesday.

More than 800,000 children die each year from burns, drowning, car crashes, falls, poisoning and other accidents, with the vast majority of those deaths occurring in developing countries, according to experts and a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Tens of millions more suffer injuries that often leave them disabled for life, said the report which was launched at a meeting of global health experts in Hanoi. The World Report on Child Injury Prevention 2008 does not include injuries caused by domestic violence.

The problem is most acute in Africa and Southeast Asia, but no country is immune, conference participants said, issuing an urgent call for action.

“The price of failure is high,” said Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, speaking in a videotape shown at the conference. “On current estimates, unintentional injuries claim the lives of around 830,000 children worldwide every year.”

Many parents in developing countries share the double burden of childcare and work, making it difficult for them to watch their children all the time.

In Vietnam, about 10 kids drown a day, and drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children over one year of age.

Basket weaver Nguyen Thi Chung’s 2-year-old daughter fell into a river near the family’s house in the Mekong delta two years ago and nearly drowned — prompting the family to put up bamboo fences around the house.

“We should have done that before. We were too busy with making baskets. We need to work hard if we are to earn enough to feed our children,” Chung was quoted as saying in a UNICEF statement. “Our thoughtlessness almost cost the life of my daughter.”

The world’s poorer countries and communities often lack basic safety education programs and quality healthcare, said Chan of the WHO. When its available, life-saving health services can be economically devastating.

“The costs of such treatment can throw an entire family into poverty,” Chan said.

The report calls on countries around the world to issue prevention measures such as seatbelt and helmet laws, child-safe medicine bottles, water heater controls and safer designs for nursery furniture and toys. It also recommends various traffic safety improvements and putting fences around pools and ponds to prevent drowning. A child-friendly version with safety tips was issued at the conference and online.

Such steps have been taken in many high-income countries and have reduced child injury deaths by up to 50 percent over the last 30 years, the report says.

Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF’s executive director, said unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children between 9 and 18 years old and 95 percent of these injuries occur in developing countries.

“More must be done to prevent such harm to children,” she said, also speaking via video.

Source

Childcare is bad for your baby, working parents are warned
A Unicef study suggests that government policy is at odds with the developmental needs of children under 12 months

A child painting at a children's centre in London

By Alexandra Frean

Parents and governments are taking a “high-stakes gamble” with the long-term wellbeing of children by subjecting them to long hours of formal childcare from a very young age, according to a Unicef report.

The study, which has prompted Beverley Hughes, the Children’s Minister, to complain to the UN agency, recommends that all children should where possible be cared for by parents at home during the first 12 months of life. Children from the poorest homes face the double disadvantage of being born into material deprivation and receiving sub-standard childcare, Unicef says.

The research, which draws on a wealth of scientific and psychological studies, as well as government data, is bound to reignite the fraught debate on whether overexposure to formal childcare is bad for very young children.

It is also likely to provoke concerns over whether growing political, social and economic pressure on parents, particularly those on low incomes, to return to work soon after their child is born is at odds with emerging research into children’s brains showing the importance of stable one-to-one care in the first year of life.

So this is it. Unicef has finally pronounced on childcare and its verdict is damning. Mothers who tear their babies from their breasts, squeeze themselves back into a suit and return to work before their darlings are old enough to say “Mummy stay home” are in danger of damaging their child for life.While nurseries lined with cots and feeding charts may not be quite as cruel as Romanian orphanages, they are harming babies under 2 who need one-to-one contact with an adult to thrive.

Unicef’s league table ranks countries by the type of care that they provide for young children in “their most formative years” and Britain languishes near the bottom half. The report suggests that babies need constant love as a foundation for intellectual as well as emotional development, that stress (presumably from being separated from their mothers) can disrupt their developing brain and that children’s early interaction with their family establishes “the patterns of neural connections and chemical balances” that profoundly influence what they will become.

The guilt. Mothers clutching their lattes as they rush from school to work still absent-mindedly holding their child’s book bag will feel sick as they watch the stay-at-home mothers cruising back on their son’s scooter, baby strapped to their front. Have they disadvantaged their children by going back too soon? Will their daughter go to university after being left with a series of Bulgarian au pairs? Will their child ever be invited on playdates if they never go to those coffee mornings with the other mothers? Do they really need the money so much that they have sacrificed their son’s wellbeing for a bigger house and mortgage?

The last time Unicef produced a report into children’s happiness it didn’t take long for British parents to begin flagellating themselves with their daughters’ skipping ropes. This country came at the bottom of the happiness league. The Archbishop of Canterbury said it was shocking, a new post of children’s commissioner was created, and children’s writers weighed in. It didn’t matter that the statistics were skewed, that North Korean children, when asked by their cane-wielding teacher, are bound to say that they are content and that the Americans refused to add in any statistics on teenage pregnancies. British mothers are tortured about how to bring up their children. This country tops the world league in childcare manuals.

The latest Unicef report says that more than half of all British mothers now go back to work when their child is under 1 but the Government’s statistics show that it is just under half and that the number of women in full-time work is actually dropping. Many employees are now taking advantage of a year-long maternity leave and flexitime to diversify or modify their careers so they can spend more time making cupcakes with their families. There has been a 40 per cent drop in women in senior management roles at UK FTSE 350 companies in the past five years and the majority of working women are part-time.

Middle-class children don’t suffer from a moderate amount of high-quality childcare, whether they are reading The Gruffalo with an au pair, a nanny, a grandmother or in a nursery. It is their mothers who become anxious, racked by remorse at leaving their babies with someone who soon knows more about their shoe size and their preference for sweetcorn-and-honey sandwiches. Mothers leave strict instructions about only feeding their little ones organic beetroot compotes and not watching DVDs. But even if their children do inexplicably seem to prefer pies to polenta and know all the lyrics for Bob the Builder, the statistics show that as long as they were looked after by loving adults, they will not be psychologically harmed.

There has never been a golden age of childcare. Even in the 1950s when the majority of women saw being a wife and mother as their primary role, most were distracted by a constant round of shopping, washing and cooking.

The real problem, as the report admits after a great many pages, concerns children from poorer backgrounds who may already be disadvantaged. These children, particularly those who have English as a second language or who come from deprived homes, are likely to thrive if they integrate with other children from the age of 3, which is why so many resources have been poured into the Sure Start programme for pre-school children.

However, for children below that age the picture is very different. For those who attend large, underprovided nurseries the result is likely to be slower development and underachievement at school. A study of children using government-funded childcare in the UK showed that those in “group care” before the age of 3 tended to show higher levels of antisocial behaviour at school.

The Australian psychologist Steve Biddulph suggested last year that the best nurseries could cater for the needs of the very young but that the worst were “negligent, frightening and bleak, a nightmare of bewildered loneliness that was heartbreaking to watch”. A recent Ofsted report backed his findings, stating that more than half of the childminders and nurseries in some London boroughs were “inadequate”, with many staff being unqualified and uncommitted.

So this report is more valuable to the Government than to anxious middle-class parents who obsessively vet their nurseries and nannies. Yesterday ministers announced reforms to the welfare state that will encourage mothers with children over the age of 1 to “prepare” for the job market.

Yet it is clear that there is little point in forcing the least well-off mothers back into work if their baby is going to be looked after by another poorly paid worker in charge of several babies. Either the Government must help these mothers to recognise that looking after their young children is a serious job or they must provide these children from deprived backgrounds with highly skilled, well-paid nursery teachers who can help to improve their chances in life not damage them.

Meanwhile, all those earnest, well-meaning, nervous middle-class mothers should relax. The most significant Unicef research shows that the happiest mothers create the most contented children; so whatever decision you make, stop worrying and your child will be fine.

Source

TORONTO

Canada fails to meet nine of out 10 proposed standards aimed at ensuring children get the best start in life through education and support programs, tying for last place among affluent countries, an analysis released Wednesday by UNICEF concludes.

The UNICEF benchmarks are crucial for children in their formative years, says the United Nations organization.

“We over-invest in remedial action down the line when kids reach their teen years and under-invest in the early years when their behaviour, their comportment, their learning can really be set for the rest of their lives,” said Nigel Fisher, head of UNICEF Canada.

The benchmarks, which UNICEF calls practical and reachable, include providing a year of parental leave at 50 per cent or more of salary and spending one per cent of gross domestic product on childhood services.

Sweden was the only country to meet all 10 standards and Iceland met nine among the 24 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Slovenia, which scored six out of 10, was the only non-OECD country assessed.

At the bottom, Canada and Ireland were found to reach only one benchmark: half of staff in accredited early-education services have proper post-secondary qualifications. The United States met three.

Martha Friendly, director of the Toronto-based Childcare Resource and Research Unit, said Canada’s poor showing came as no surprise.

“The child-care transition . . . is being facilitated by public policies in most countries,” Friendly said.

“In Canada, this has been left to be a private family responsibility. We have very weak public policy and that would be at the national level and at the level of most of the provinces.”

Friendly said the federal government needs to send an “emergency signal” showing it considers the issue important by making commitments in its budget next month.

The UNICEF report argues that many OECD countries need to almost double current levels of expenditure on early childhood services to meet minimum acceptable standards.

Canada, for example, spends roughly 0.2 per cent of its GDP on child supports, Fisher said.

The report notes that most children in the developed world are spending their earliest years in some form of care outside the home.

About 80 per cent of children aged three to six are in some form of early childhood education and care outside the home.

About one in four under the age of three are also cared for outside the home – with the proportion rising to one in two in some countries.

“What we are now witnessing across the industrialized world can fairly be described as a revolution in how the majority of young children are being brought up,” the report states.

“To the extent that this change is unplanned and unmonitored, it could also be described as a high-stakes gamble with today’s children and tomorrow’s world.”

The report emphasizes advances in recent years in scientific research show the long-term importance of giving kids a good educational and emotional start in life – something especially key for marginalized or otherwise disadvantaged children.

The report can be found at www.unicef.ca.

UNICEF proposed benchmarks and rankings for early child care

TORONTO – UNICEF has issued a report ranking 25 countries against 10 proposed benchmarks when it comes to early childhood services.

Among proposed minimum standards:

Entitlement to paid parental leave of at least one year at 50 per cent of salary

A national plan with priority for disadvantaged children

Subsidized and regulated child care for 25 per cent of children under three

Subsidized and regulated child care for 80 per cent of children aged four

Accredited training for 80 per cent of child-care staff

Staff-to-children ratio of 1:15 in groups of under 25

Public funding for children under six of one per cent of GDP

Top five and bottom five affluent countries in terms of meeting early child-support standards:

Sweden: 10

Iceland: 9

Denmark: 8

Finland: 8

France: 8

Switzerland: 3

United States: 3

Australia: 2

Canada: 1

Ireland: 1

Source

Profiting from Abuse.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children assumes many forms and has many faces. Children are enslaved by a chain of actors, all of whom profit in some way. [Download a PDF copy]

The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival

The State of the World’s Children 2008 provides a wide-ranging assessment of the current state of child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children. It examines lessons learned in child health during the past few decades and outlines the most important emerging precepts and strategies for reducing deaths among children under age five and for providing a continuum of care for mothers, newborns and children.

The State of the World’s Children 2008: Executive Summary

The State of the World’s Children 2008 examines the current state of child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children – and outlines strategies for reducing under-five deaths and providing a continuum of care. The pocket-sized executive summary provides an overview of the full report and includes regional summary indicators.

The State of Africa’s Children 2008

The State of Africa’s Children 2008 is a regional edition of UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2008 report. Complementary to the global report, it examines the state of child survival in Africa and highlights the need to position child health at the heart of the region’s development and human rights agenda. It also outlines possible solutions – programmes, policies and partnerships – to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

The State of Asia-Pacific’s Children 2008

The State of Asia-Pacific’s Children 2008 is a regional edition of UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2008 report. Complementary to the global report, it examines child survival in Asia-Pacific and highlights the need to place child health at the heart of the region’s development and human rights agenda. It also outlines programmes, policies and partnerships that can accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

The State of Latin American and Caribbean Children 2008

The State of Latin American and Caribbean Children 2008 is a regional edition of UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2008 report. Complementary to the global report, it examines child survival in Latin America and the Caribbean and highlights the need to place child health at the heart of the region’s development and human rights agenda. It also outlines programmes, policies and partnerships that can accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 1:12 pm  Comments Off on UNICEF Reports 2008  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Banking on Bloodshed: UK high street banks’ complicity in the arms trade

Banks, Corporations and Conflict

The arms trade provides the destructive hardware used in conflicts across the world. It undermines development, contributing to the poverty and suffering of millions.

A new report by War on Want, Banking on Bloodshed: UK high street banks’ complicity in the arms trade has exposed, for the first time, the extent to which the five main British high street banks are funding this violent trade.

Banking on Bloodshed

High street banks are using our money to fund companies that sell arms used against civilians in wars across the world, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are financing an industry that sells arms to countries committing human rights abuses such as Israel, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.

Money from our savings and current accounts is being used to fund companies that produce pernicious weapons like depleted uranium and cluster bombs.

As a result of the financial crisis there are now unprecedented calls for regulation of the banking sector.

War on Want is calling on the government to ensure that all banks are made to publish the full details of their loans, holdings and other banking services to the arms trade. The government must also introduce regulation which prevents high street banks from supporting the arms trade.

Download report

Download report:
Download a PDF version of Banking on Bloodshed.

Source

Who profits from WAR?

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 11:51 am  Comments Off on Banking on Bloodshed: UK high street banks’ complicity in the arms trade  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Poverty crushing the People of Haiti

By Dawn House
November 28 2008

Poverty is so crushing in Haiti that a simple cut or broken bone can become so infected in slums plagued with filth and raw sewage that the only remedy is amputation.

Adding to the misery in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation are hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike this year left 790 people dead and hundreds more injured, and now facing life-threatening infections.

But amputation can be a death sentence in Haiti, which depends on manual labor for survival, said Salt Lake City physician Jeff Randle, who has treated Haitians for a decade. It’s not uncommon for impoverished families, sometimes believing the injured are under a voodoo curse, to abandon disabled adults and children in the streets.

Randle, who first witnessed such despair while on an LDS Church mission, founded Healing Hands for Haiti in 1998. The nonprofit charity, based in Salt Lake City, has become the only agency in Haiti to provide wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and braces for people who have lost limbs or were born with a disability.

The group needs donations, medical supplies and health-care professionals willing to volunteer a week or two to help staff its clinic in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

The first year, 14 volunteers headed by doctors and social workers from LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City paid their own way to Haiti, where they provided rehabilitative therapy for more than 300 patients in 10 days. Despite political unrest and corruption in the country, almost all signed up to go the second year.

In the ensuing years, Randle has been joined by medical teams from 16 states. Most, including Randle, pay their own way while donations help with travel costs for the younger professionals. Last year, 21 medical workers from Canada raised $39,000 to finance their trip and fund treatment and training projects. The volunteers filled 42 large hockey bags with equipment and supplies and used 112 donated teddy bears as padding.

Healing Hands for Haiti has grown to a paid staff of 40 at its 7-acre compound in the foothills of Port-au-Prince. The group supports a clinic, school and shop where Haitians are trained to make prosthetic limbs and provide therapy for disabled adults and children. The group also conducts classes for workers from orphanages in taking care of their disabled charges, and lobbies schools to accept disabled children.

The annual budget is $180,000, “and each year I have no idea where the money is going to come from,” said Randle, who chairs the foundation. “But somehow, it comes.”

Said the group’s executive director, Jim Stein of Minneapolis: “Our most immediate need is money to support our staff in Haiti and to buy equipment and supplies.”

Last year alone, 399 wheelchairs were distributed throughout the island. And recently, an anonymous donor gave $250,000 to help jump-start the construction of what will be Haiti’s first rehabilitation hospital.

Recently, Healing Hands gave seminars after the November collapse of a ramshackle school on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, where more than 90 people, many of them children, were killed and more than 160 were injured. Haitians were taught about evacuation planning, survival skills and managing emotions in a country where little attention has been paid to building codes.

The need is desperate.

In October, a top United Nation’s official warned that the devastation from this year’s hurricane season has dealt a severe blow in efforts to combat poverty, according to the U.N. News Service.

Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said that the four successive hurricanes have left an estimated 1 million people needing humanitarian relief and major recovery assistance.

Even before the storms, 80 percent of the island’s population lived under the poverty line and more than half in abject poverty, according to a report from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on small-scale subsistence farming and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters made worse by the country’s widespread deforestation in lands cleared for food and fuel. The report said that inadequate supplies of potable water and soil erosion remain major environmental problems.

Source

They need a lot more help then they are getting.

Don’t turn your back on girls – Sexual violence in Haiti

27 November 2008

Sexual violence against girls in Haiti is widespread and pervasive and, although already at shocking levels, is said to be on the increase. While information on the true levels remains scarce, there is much evidence of sexual violence both in the family and within the wider community, particularly by armed gangs.

Public security and the legacy of sexual violence
Against a backdrop of kidnappings, criminal violence and gang warfare, violence against women and girls in the community has soared. One trend is the prevalence of rapes involving groups of armed men.

For the three years that followed the military coup in 1991 when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted, rape was used as a political weapon to instil fear and punish those who were believed to have supported the democratic government. During this time, there were widespread reports of armed men raping women.

Since the fall of the military regime, this has become a common practice among criminal gangs. In run up to Haiti’s annual carnival in February last year, 50 cases of rape were reported in just three days in the capital against women and girls in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Violence in the family is also prevalent and often hidden. Children often lack the resources and support they need to report violence in which family members participate or collude. The result of the failure to acknowledge and address this problem is a social climate in which violence in the family is seen as normal and inevitable.

Poverty in Haiti is extreme and plays a major role in putting girls at greater risk of sexual violence. Girls are bribed to remain silent by perpetrators, who are able to give them money to pay their schools or accommodation fees. Others who go in search of a public place with lighting by which to do their homework because their home has no electricity are attacked by groups of men.

Girls who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence find themselves at risk due to the lack of adequate healthcare. Only one in every four births in Haiti is assisted by qualified health personnel and large numbers of women and girls are dying as a result of pregnancy related complications.

The consequences of sexual violence on girls are profound and lasting. In addition to immediate physical injuries, survivors may have to face unwanted pregnancy; sexually transmitted diseases; and mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

These consequences can have particularly series long term effects on girls, who are at higher risk of dying during childbirth or pregnancy and may also find their education disrupted, or find themselves excluded from school due to pregnancy.

One girl who raped when she was eight years old said: “I was going to school, but I left after I came here [to a shelter] because my father raped me. I was in the first year. I loved copying the lessons, writing. When I grow up I would like to be a doctor.”

Barriers to justice
Girls are often unwilling to report cases of rape, largely due to shame, fear, and social attitudes that tolerate male violence. Another major disincentive to reporting is the lack of confidence that girls will experience a positive and supportive response from law enforcement officials.

In some rural areas, the sole representative of the justice system is the justice of the peace. It is not uncommon for the justice of the peace to encourage girls who have faced violence accept an “amicable settlement” with the family of the perpetrator.

The justice system in Haiti is weak and ineffectual. The Police unit in charge of protecting minors is woefully under-staffed. In March 2008, the unit had 12 officers to cover the entire country and not a single vehicle. It is not surprising that so many of those who attack girls are never brought to justice, and so many girls feel there is no purpose in reporting crimes of sexual violence.

The authorities in Haiti have taken steps in recent years to address the problem of violence against women and girls. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs was established in 1994 and has been involved in important initiatives to address the problem.

In 1995, a National Plan of Action to Combat Violence Against Women was adopted. If implemented, this could bring about significant improvements in prevention and punishment.

The Haitian authorities face major challenges posed by the ongoing public security crisis, a succession of humanitarian disasters, and high levels of poverty and marginalization. These important concerns cannot be allowed to drown out the needs of Haitian girls.

Amnesty International is calling on the Haitian authorities to take immediate action to safeguard the rights of girls:

  • Collect comprehensive data on the nature and extent of violence against women and girls. The lack of data currently stands in the way of devising effective solutions;
  • Investigate and prosecute all complaints of sexual violence;
  • Ensure that police provide a safe environment for girls to report sexual violence, and ensure that all complaints are promptly and effectively investigated.

Source

Sanctions have played a role in the poverty. Recovery could take decades or longer unless outside help is increased.

Haiti Sanctions

Study Says Haiti Sanctions Kill Up to 1,000 Children a Month

By HOWARD W. FRENCH,  November 9, 1993

International Sanctions on Haiti Fueled Repression, UN Official Says

By Don Bohning,  March 1, 1999

Seems to me Sanctions are a form of extermination, of innocent people.

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Published in: on November 29, 2008 at 5:09 am  Comments Off on Poverty crushing the People of Haiti  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Help For Zimbabwe with Cholera Epidemic is on the Way

The Zimbabwe Government finally reached out for some help.

China has pledged vaccines worth $500 000 to fight cholera in Zimbabwe, the country’s Herald newspaper reported today.

China’s deputy head of mission in Zimbabwe He Meng said his government would bring the vaccines as soon as talks with the ministry of foreign affairs had been concluded.

“We are sympathising with the Zimbabwean people and we want to help as best as we can to stop the spread of the cholera disease that has killed many people in this country,” he was quoted as saying.

China would also give Zimbabwe food to help ease shortages.

World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate said containing the outbreaks with the prevailing poor water supply and sanitation was difficult.

The WHO – a United Nations agency – was helping the government co-ordinate partner contribution, support case investigation and manage and set up cholera treatment centres.

Cholera kits worth more than $900 000 were handed to the ministry of health and child welfare before the outbreak as strategic stocks.

Mandlhate said the WHO would procure different items valued at $400 000 to replace the stocks that were running out.

The latest report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs indicated that so far 366 people had died of cholera in Zimbabwe, 108 of them in Harare.

A further 8,887 cases were attended to countrywide, with Harare topping the list with 4,697 cases.

Cholera cases in South Africa and Botswana had also been reported.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president, Chief Fortune Charumbira, has called on the government to embark on “spirited” cholera awareness campaigns in the rural areas.

He said most rural people remained vulnerable to the disease because of lack of knowledge, the Herald reported.

Source

I did note that on just about every story I read the number of those who have died has varied from one to another. Seems the truth on that may never be known for sure.

The number of those infected also varied from one to another.

There are about 9,000 people infected give or take a few hundred one way or the other.

Those number can grow rapidly and those who are infected can die quickly if not treated.

The bacteria Vibrio cholerae is excreted by an infected person in the stools and vomit. It can then be spread directly to other people if they touch the patient and then fail to wash their hands before eating. The germ can also contaminate food or water supplies. In the latter case this will cause an explosive outbreak because many people will ingest the vibrion in a short period of time.

Once inside the intestine, the organism multiplies and produces a toxin. This toxin causes the cells lining the intestine to secrete massive volumes of fluid and leads to diarrhea and vomiting. A patient under treatment can lose more than 50 liters of fluid during a bout of cholera.

A person who is not treated will die of dehydration well before this. In fact, death usually occurs when 10 to 15 per cent of the total body weight is lost. In severe cases this may take only a couple of hours. From  Doctors Without Borders

SOUTH AFRICA, China and the United Nations and concerned Non-Governmental Organisations sympathetic to the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe are at the forefront of fighting cholera.

Yesterday the South African Limpopo Health Services Department — in partnership with Gift of the Givers Foundation, a non-governmental organisation — yesterday donated equipment worth R1,2 million to Beitbridge District Hospital for use in combating the cholera outbreak.

Gift of Givers Foundation is an independent African NGO established in August 1992. Since it was founded the NGO has delivered 200 Million Rand of aid in a 14 year period to 23 countries, and millions of people have benefited.It currently operates in over 15 countries including Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

The NGO is involved in disaster relief, primary health care clinics, feeding schemes, water purification and waterwell provision, distribution of new blankets, new clothing and food parcels, bursaries, educational support, toy story, agricultural self help schemes, job creation, counselling services, a drug rehab, HIV/AIDS workshops, skills development and life altering workshops.

The equipment donated to Zimbabwe by Gift of the Givers Foundation spokesperson Mr Allauddin Sayed comprised 25 water tanks (each with a capacity of 10 000 litres), water treatment tablets, a generator and a consignment of medical and food supplies.

“We had to come in with this kind of assistance following appeals by the South African government on the problems faced by our brothers in Zimbabwe dealing with the cholera outbreak,” said Sayed.

“As an organisation, we are passionate about Africa, especially Zimbabwe being our neighbours and therefore we will continue to assist in whatever way so that we complement the efforts being made by their Government,” he added.

South Africa’s Department of Health and Social Development is also heavily involved in the fight against cholera in Zimbabwe after concerns raised during Sunday’s stakeholders meeting involving health officials from Zimbabwe and South Africa in Beitbridge.

The department will assist the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) in water purification and sewer treatment. Te two authorities say they will target water supply and sewer reticulation, particularly where effluent is flowing into the Limpopo River, which is the main source of water for both Beitbridge and Musina residents.

South Africa entered into an agreement with the Musina Municipality to help in transporting adequate clean water to Beitbridge.

Once the water treatment starts functioning properly, the water tanks would be connected to the Zinwa purification plant through the main pipeline.

This week the United Nations launched the consolidated appeal for 2009 for a total of $550 million, the highest appeal ever for Zimbabwe. Last year’s appeal was under $400 million and according to the U.N. had been “very well subscribed”, and was, at this point, 75 per cent funded.

Together with South Africa, the United Nations is part of a task force within Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health set up to coordinate the response to the cholera situation.

The U.N. World Food Program appealed in October for $140 million to help 4 million Zimbabweans. The agency said earlier this month that international donors had not responded, forcing it to start rationing cereal and beans. It warned that food aid will run out by January unless it gets new funds.

So far only China and South Africa have made pledges for food aid beyond 2008.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged all donors to disregard their political views on Zimbabwe and provide money for critically needed food and to help battle the cholera outbreak.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said on Tuesday “The secretary-general urges all parties (NGOs) to support and provide humanitarian assistance leaving political considerations aside.”

Food aid and humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe has been heavily politicized.

The Zimbabwean government in June this year temporarily banned all NGOs from carrying out relief work in the country accusing them of helping the opposition MDC to carry out political activities in remote areas.

The ban was lifted a month later. Very few NGOs, many of whom were calling for the lifting of the ban, have resumed work in the country.

A government official told the Zimbabwe Guardian that many of these NGOs had not been forthcoming during the outbreak of cholera and quietly waited for the crisis to deepen.

“Many NGOs that were at the forefront of calling for a lifting of the ban have not been forthcoming. Their statements were not altruistic but were meant to discredit the Government of Zimbabwe,” said the official adding that “our true friends, China and South Africa have been at the forefront of fighting the cholera outbreak”.

While South Africa, China and the U.N. are helping Zimbabwe to battle the cholera outbreak, Botswana on Wednesday called for neighbouring countries to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe to drive President Robert Mugabe out of power.

Speaking on BBC’s HardTalk programme, Botswana’s foreign minister called on neighbouring African nations to bring down the government of President Mugabe.

Phando Skelemani said mediation has failed to remove President Mugabe and African nations should impose sanctions to force that removal.

“If no petrol went in for a week, he can’t last,” Skelemani said on Wednesday.

CHOLERA OUTBREAKS

In less than a year Monrovia (Liberia), Conakry (Guinea), Bissau (Guinea Bissau), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Lusaka (Zambia) and now Luanda in Angola are dealing with cholera outbreaks.

Source
Sanctions however I think are a problem, sanctions can do as much human damage as war.
They do more harm to civilians then most realize. A point of interest. Zimbabwe is already being Sanctioned by the US and the EU.
Fortunately in spite of it all, finally they may get the help they so desperately need.
They need all the help they can get.

3,000 dead from cholera in Zimbabwe

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Hugo Chavez wins Venezuela election

November 25 2008

By Redmond O’Neill

With all of the votes officially counted the results of Venezuela’s regional and municipal elections on November 23 are clear and of some interest.

Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venuezuela won 17 states and a large majority of the national vote. The opposition won five states and the mayoralty of capital Caracas.

Contrary to the dire predictions in some sections of the British and US media, both the president and opposition accepted the results with good grace. This confirms the meticulous respect for democracy, confirmed in the latest survey by the widely respected Latinbarometro, which found that satisfaction with democracy in Venezuela is the second highest in Latin America.

However, the elections illustrated two new aspects of Venezuela’s political landscape. First, in the country as a whole, Chavez gained a large margin of support over the opposition, of around 1m additional votes or roughly 20%.

That is a dramatic shift in comparison to the referendum on constitutional reform last year, which Chavez lost by roughly 1%. This suggests that, while Venezuelans rejected some of the proposed constitutional changes, Chavez retains broad overall majority support. No doubt this is due to the way his government has given the majority of the people access to free education for the first time, eradicated illiteracy, massively expanded access to free education at every level and raised the living standards of the impoverished majority.

At the same time, the opposition won Caracas and the interlocking state of Miranda, the main oil-producing state Zulia, and Carabobo, an important industrial region. These are the three biggest urban regions in the country.

The loss of Caracas, in particular, is a symptom of the acute problems of massive shanty towns, crime, traffic congestion, waste and inadequate public transport, which are now primary concerns of people in the big cities.

There can be little confidence that the opposition has any answers to these problems, as their policies of plundering national resources for the benefit of a tiny minority created this situation of urban decay in the first place.

Under the old regime, continued in the key backers of today’s opposition, Venezuela started 1950 with an average income that was nearly three times that of the main eight Latin American countries. By the time Chavez came to power, this lead had almost been eliminated by policies that gave Venezuela a rate of growth less than a quarter of the average of those eight countries for 48 years.

Once he tackled those controlling the national oil company in 2003 and was able to put its resources to productive use, Chavez achieved a sustained rate of economic growth outstripping that of most of Latin America and he put these resources to use tackling the most acute issues of poverty, health and education.

These elections show that Chavez now faces a more specific but equally imperative challenge, that of radically improving the infrastructure, and with it, the efficiency and quality of life in the country’s main cities.

What has been achieved so quickly, with such success, in the fields of health and education gives some confidence that this can be achieved, but only if the government takes on these issues with the same single-minded commitment.

Source

Published in: on November 27, 2008 at 12:23 am  Comments Off on Hugo Chavez wins Venezuela election  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Financial System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

November 22 2008

The System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

by Robert Weissman

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor’s annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year.

In the 20 years that we’ve published our annual list, we’ve covered corporate villains, scoundrels, criminals and miscreants. We’ve reported on some really bad stuff — from Exxon’s Valdez spill to Union Carbide and Dow’s effort to avoid responsibility for the Bhopal disaster; from oil companies coddling dictators (including Chevron and CNPC, both profiled this year) to a bank (Riggs) providing financial services for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; from oil and auto companies threatening the future of the planet by blocking efforts to address climate change to duplicitous tobacco companies marketing cigarettes around the world by associating their product with images of freedom, sports, youthful energy and good health.

But we’ve never had a year like 2008.

The financial crisis first gripping Wall Street and now spreading rapidly throughout the world is, in many ways, emblematic of the worst of the corporate-dominated political and economic system that we aim to expose with our annual 10 Worst list. Here is how.

Improper political influence: Corporations dominate the policy-making process, from city councils to global institutions like the World Trade Organization. Over the last 30 years, and especially in the last decade, Wall Street interests leveraged their political power to remove many of the regulations that had restricted their activities. There are at least a dozen separate and significant examples of this, including the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which permitted the merger of banks and investment banks. In a form of corporate civil disobedience, Citibank and Travelers Group merged in 1998 — a move that was illegal at the time, but for which they were given a two-year forbearance — on the assumption that they would be able to force a change in the relevant law. They did, with the help of just-retired (at the time) Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who went on to an executive position at the newly created Citigroup.

Deregulation and non-enforcement: Non-enforcement of rules against predatory lending helped the housing bubble balloon. While some regulators had sought to exert authority over financial derivatives, they were stopped by finance-friendly figures in the Clinton administration and Congress — enabling the creation of the credit default swap market. Even Alan Greenspan concedes that that market — worth $55 trillion in what is called notional value — is imploding in significant part because it was not regulated.

Short-term thinking: It was obvious to anyone who cared to look at historical trends that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble. Many in the financial sector seemed to have convinced themselves that there was no bubble. But others must have been more clear-eyed. In any case, all the Wall Street players had an incentive not to pay attention to the bubble. They were making stratospheric annual bonuses based on annual results. Even if they were certain the bubble would pop sometime in the future, they had every incentive to keep making money on the upside.

Financialization: Profits in the financial sector were more than 35 percent of overall U.S. corporate profits in each year from 2005 to 2007, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Instead of serving the real economy, the financial sector was taking over the real economy.

Profit over social use: Relatedly, the corporate-driven economy was being driven by what could make a profit, rather than what would serve a social purpose. Although Wall Street hucksters offered elaborate rationalizations for why exotic financial derivatives, private equity takeovers of firms, securitization and other so-called financial innovations helped improve economic efficiency, by and large these financial schemes served no socially useful purpose.

Externalized costs: Worse, the financial schemes didn’t just create money for Wall Street movers and shakers and their investors. They made money at the expense of others. The costs of these schemes were foisted onto workers who lost jobs at firms gutted by private equity operators, unpayable loans acquired by homeowners who bought into a bubble market (often made worse by unconscionable lending terms), and now the public.

What is most revealing about the financial meltdown and economic crisis, however, is that it illustrates that corporations — if left to their own worst instincts — will destroy themselves and the system that nurtures them. It is rare that this lesson is so graphically illustrated. It is one the world must quickly learn, if we are to avoid the most serious existential threat we have yet faced: climate change.

Of course, the rest of the corporate sector was not on good behavior during 2008 either, and we do not want them to escape justified scrutiny. In keeping with our tradition of highlighting diverse forms of corporate wrongdoing, we include only one financial company on the 10 Worst list. Here, presented in alphabetical order, are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008.

AIG: Money for Nothing

There’s surely no one party responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis.

But if you had to pick a single responsible corporation, there’s a very strong case to make for American International Group (AIG).

In September, the Federal Reserve poured $85 billion into the distressed global financial services company. It followed up with $38 billion in October.

The government drove a hard bargain for its support. It allocated its billions to the company as high-interest loans; it demanded just short of an 80 percent share of the company in exchange for the loans; and it insisted on the firing of the company’s CEO (even though he had only been on the job for three months).

Why did AIG — primarily an insurance company powerhouse, with more than 100,000 employees around the world and $1 trillion in assets — require more than $100 billion ($100 billion!) in government funds? The company’s traditional insurance business continues to go strong, but its gigantic exposure to the world of “credit default swaps” left it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Government officials then intervened, because they feared that an AIG bankruptcy would crash the world’s financial system.

Credit default swaps are effectively a kind of insurance policy on debt securities. Companies contracted with AIG to provide insurance on a wide range of securities. The insurance policy provided that, if a bond didn’t pay, AIG would make up the loss.

AIG’s eventual problem was rooted in its entering a very risky business but treating it as safe. First, AIG Financial Products, the small London-based unit handling credit default swaps, decided to insure “collateralized debt obligations” (CDOs). CDOs are pools of mortgage loans, but often only a portion of the underlying loans — perhaps involving the most risky part of each loan. Ratings agencies graded many of these CDOs as highest quality, though subsequent events would show these ratings to have been profoundly flawed. Based on the blue-chip ratings, AIG treated its insurance on the CDOs as low risk. Then, because AIG was highly rated, it did not have to post collateral.

Through credit default swaps, AIG was basically collecting insurance premiums and assuming it would never pay out on a failure — let alone a collapse of the entire market it was insuring. It was a scheme that couldn’t be beat: money for nothing.

In September, the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson reported on the operations of AIG’s small London unit, and the profile of its former chief, Joseph Cassano. In 2007, the Times reported, Cassano “described the credit default swaps as almost a sure thing.” “It is hard to get this message across, but these are very much handpicked,” he said in a call with analysts.

“It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions,” he said.

Cassano assured investors that AIG’s operations were nearly fail safe. Following earlier accounting problems, the company’s risk management was stellar, he said: “That’s a committee that I sit on, along with many of the senior managers at AIG, and we look at a whole variety of transactions that come in to make sure that they are maintaining the quality that we need to. And so I think the things that have been put in at our level and the things that have been put in at the parent level will ensure that there won’t be any of those kinds of mistakes again.”

Cassano turned out to be spectacularly wrong. The credit default swaps were not a sure thing. AIG somehow did not notice that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble, and that it was essentially insuring that the bubble would not pop. It made an ill-formed judgment that positive credit ratings meant CDOs were high quality — even when the underlying mortgages were of poor quality.

But before the bubble popped, Cassano’s operation was minting money. It wasn’t hard work, since AIG Financial Products was taking in premiums in exchange for nothing. In 2005, the unit’s profit margin was 83 percent, according to the Times. By 2007, its credit default swap portfolio was more than $500 billion.

Then things started to go bad. Suddenly, AIG had to start paying out on some of the securities it had insured. As it started recording losses, its credit default swap contracts require that it begin putting up more and more collateral. AIG found it couldn’t raise enough money fast enough — over the course of a weekend in September, the amount of money AIG owed shot up from $20 billion to more than $80 billion.

With no private creditors stepping forward, it fell to the government to provide the needed capital or let AIG enter bankruptcy. Top federal officials deemed bankruptcy too high a risk to the overall financial system.

After the bailout, it emerged that AIG did not even know all of the CDOs it had ensured.

In September, less than a week after the bailout was announced, the Orange County Register reported on a posh retreat for company executives and insurance agents at the exclusive St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. Rooms at the resort can cost over $1,000 per night.

After the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlighted the retreat, AIG explained that the retreat was primarily for well-performing independent insurance agents. Only 10 of the 100 participants were from AIG (and they from a successful AIG subsidiary), the company said, and the event was planned long in advance of the federal bailout. In an apology letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, CEO Edward Liddy wrote that AIG now faces very different challenges, and “that we owe our employees and the American public new standards and approaches.”

New standards and approaches, indeed.

Cargill: Food Profiteers

The world’s food system is broken.
Or, more accurately, the giant food companies and their allies in the U.S. and other rich country governments, and at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, broke it.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries produced enough food to feed themselves [CHECK]. Now, 70 percent are net food importers.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries had in place mechanisms aimed at maintaining a relatively constant price for food commodities. Tariffs on imports protected local farmers from fluctuations in global food prices. Government-run grain purchasing boards paid above-market prices for farm goods when prices were low, and required farmers to sell below-market when prices were high. The idea was to give farmers some certainty over price, and to keep food affordable for consumers. Governments also provided a wide set of support services for farmers, giving them advice on new crop and growing technologies and, in some countries, helping set up cooperative structures.

This was not a perfect system by any means, but it looks pretty good in retrospect.

Over the last three decades, the system was completely abandoned, in country after country. It was replaced by a multinational-dominated, globally integrated food system, in which the World Bank and other institutions coerced countries into opening their markets to cheap food imports from rich countries and re-orienting their agricultural systems to grow food for rich consumers abroad. Proponents said the new system was a “free market” approach, but in reality it traded one set of government interventions for another — a new set of rules that gave enhanced power to a handful of global grain trading companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, as well as to seed and fertilizer corporations.

“For this food regime to work,” Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, told the U.S. House Financial Services Committee at a May hearing, “existing marketing boards and support structures needed to be dismantled. In a range of countries, this meant that the state bodies that had been supported and built by the World Bank were dismantled by the World Bank. The rationale behind the dismantling of these institutions was to clear the path for private sector involvement in these sectors, on the understanding that the private sector would be more efficient and less wasteful than the public sector.”

“The result of these interventions and conditions,” explained Patel, “was to accelerate the decline of developing country agriculture. One of the most striking consequences of liberalization has been the phenomenon of ‘import surges.’ These happen when tariffs on cheaper, and often subsidized, agricultural products are lowered, and a host country is then flooded with those goods. There is often a corresponding decline in domestic production. In Senegal, for example, tariff reduction led to an import surge in tomato paste, with a 15-fold increase in imports, and a halving of domestic production. Similar stories might be told of Chile, which saw a three-fold surge in imports of vegetable oil, and a halving of domestic production. In Ghana in 1998, local rice production accounted for over 80 percent of domestic consumption. By 2003, that figure was less than 20 percent.”

The decline of developing country agriculture means that developing countries are dependent on the vagaries of the global market. When prices spike — as they did in late 2007 and through the beginning of 2008 — countries and poor consumers are at the mercy of the global market and the giant trading companies that dominate it. In the first quarter of 2008, the price of rice in Asia doubled, and commodity prices overall rose 40 percent. People in rich countries felt this pinch, but the problem was much more severe in the developing world. Not only do consumers in poor countries have less money, they spend a much higher proportion of their household budget on food — often half or more — and they buy much less processed food, so commodity increases affect them much more directly. In poor countries, higher prices don’t just pinch, they mean people go hungry. Food riots broke out around the world in early 2008.

But not everyone was feeling pain. For Cargill, spiking prices was an opportunity to get rich. In the second quarter of 2008, the company reported profits of more than $1 billion, with profits from continuing operations soaring 18 percent from the previous year. Cargill’s 2007 profits totaled more than $2.3 billion, up more than a third from 2006.

In a competitive market, would a grain-trading middleman make super-profits? Or would rising prices crimp the middleman’s profit margin?

Well, the global grain trade is not competitive.

In an August speech, Cargill CEO Greg Page posed the question, “So, isn’t Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?” Here is how he responded:

“I would give you four pieces of information about why our earnings have gone up dramatically.

  1. The demand for food has gone up. The demand for our facilities has gone up, and we are running virtually all of our facilities worldwide at total capacity. As we utilize our capacity more effectively, clearly we do better.
  2. Fertilizer prices rose, and we are owners of a large fertilizer company. That has been the single largest factor in Cargill’s earnings.
  3. The volatility in the grain industry — much of it created by governments — was an opportunity for a trading company like Cargill to make money.
  4. Finally, in this era of high prices, Cargill over the last two years has invested $15.5 billion additional dollars into the world food system. Some was to carry all these high-priced inventories. We also wanted to be sure that we were there for farmers who needed the working capital to operate in this much more expensive environment. Clearly, our owners expected some return on that $15.5 billion. Cargill had an opportunity to make more money in this environment, and I think that is something that we need to be very forthright about.”

OK, Mr. Page, that’s all very interesting. The question was, “So, isn’t Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?” It sounds like your answer is, “yes.”

Chevron: “We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies”

The world has witnessed a stunning consolidation of the multinational oil companies over the last decade.

One of the big winners was Chevron. It swallowed up Texaco and Unocal, among others. It was happy to absorb their revenue streams. It has been less willing to take responsibility for ecological and human rights abuses perpetrated by these companies.

One of the inherited legacies from Chevron’s 2001 acquisition of Texaco is litigation in Ecuador over the company’s alleged decimation of the Ecuadorian Amazon over a 20-year period of operation. In 1993, 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians filed a class action suit in U.S. courts, alleging that Texaco had poisoned the land where they live and the waterways on which they rely, allowing billions of gallons of oil to spill and leaving hundreds of waste pits unlined and uncovered. They sought billions in compensation for the harm to their land and livelihood, and for alleged health harms. The Ecuadorians and their lawyers filed the case in U.S. courts because U.S. courts have more capacity to handle complex litigation, and procedures (including jury trials) that offer plaintiffs a better chance to challenge big corporations. Texaco, and later Chevron, deployed massive legal resources to defeat the lawsuit. Ultimately, a Chevron legal maneuver prevailed: At Chevron’s instigation, U.S. courts held that the case should be litigated in Ecuador, closer to where the alleged harms occurred.

Having argued vociferously that Ecuadorian courts were fair and impartial, Chevron is now unhappy with how the litigation has proceeded in that country. So unhappy, in fact, that it is lobbying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to impose trade sanctions on Ecuador if the Ecuadorian government does not make the case go away.

“We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies like this — companies that have made big investments around the world,” a Chevron lobbyist said to Newsweek in August. (Chevron subsequently stated that “the comments attributed to an unnamed lobbyist working for Chevron do not reflect our company’s views regarding the Ecuador case. They were not approved by the company and will not be tolerated.”)

Chevron is worried because a court-appointed special master found in March that the company was liable to plaintiffs for between $7 billion and $16 billion. The special master has made other findings that Chevron’s clean-up operations in Ecuador have been inadequate.

Another of Chevron’s inherited legacies is the Yadana natural gas pipeline in Burma, operated by a consortium in which Unocal was one of the lead partners. Human rights organizations have documented that the Yadana pipeline was constructed with forced labor, and associated with brutal human rights abuses by the Burmese military.

EarthRights International, a human rights group with offices in Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, has carefully tracked human rights abuses connected to the Yadana pipeline, and led a successful lawsuit against Unocal/Chevron. In an April 2008 report, the group states that “Chevron and its consortium partners continue to rely on the Burmese army for pipeline security, and those forces continue to conscript thousands of villagers for forced labor, and to commit torture, rape, murder and other serious abuses in the course of their operations.”

Money from the Yadana pipeline plays a crucial role in enabling the Burmese junta to maintain its grip on power. EarthRights International estimates the pipeline funneled roughly $1 billion to the military regime in 2007. The group also notes that, in late 2007, when the Burmese military violently suppressed political protests led by Buddhist monks, Chevron sat idly by.

Chevron has trouble in the United States, as well. In September, Earl Devaney, the inspector general for the Department of Interior, released an explosive report documenting “a culture of ethical failure” and a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” in the U.S. government program handling oil lease contracts on U.S. government lands and property. Government employees, Devaney found, accepted a stream of small gifts and favors from oil company representatives, and maintained sexual relations with them. (In one memorable passage, the inspector general report states that “sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length.”) The report showed that Chevron had conferred the largest number of gifts on federal employees. It also complained that Chevron refused to cooperate with the investigation, a claim Chevron subsequently disputed.

Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators

Although it is too dangerous, too expensive and too centralized to make sense as an energy source, nuclear power won’t go away, thanks to equipment makers and utilities that find ways to make the public pay and pay.

Case in point: Constellation Energy Group, the operator of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland. When Maryland deregulated its electricity market in 1999, Constellation — like other energy generators in other states — was able to cut a deal to recover its “stranded costs” and nuclear decommissioning fees. The idea was that competition would bring multiple suppliers into the market, and these new competitors would have an unfair advantage over old-time monopoly suppliers. Those former monopolists, the argument went, had built expensive nuclear reactors with the approval of state regulators, and it would be unfair if they could not charge consumers to recover their costs. It would also be unfair, according to this line of reasoning, if the former monopolists were unable to recover the costs of decommissioning nuclear facilities.

In Maryland, the “stranded cost” deal gave Constellation (through its affiliate Baltimore Gas & Electric, BGE) the right to charge ratepayers $975 million in 1993 dollars (almost $1.5 billion in present dollars).

Deregulation meant that Constellation’s energy generating assets — including its nuclear facility at Calvert Cliffs — were free from price regulation. As a result, instead of costing Constellation, Calvert Cliffs’ market value increased.

Deregulation also meant that, after an agreed-upon freeze period, BGE was free to raise its rates as it chose. In 2006, it announced a 72 percent rate increase. For residential consumers, this meant they would pay an average of $743 more per year for electricity.

The sudden price hike sparked a rebellion. The Maryland legislature passed a law requiring BGE to credit consumers $386 million over a 10-year period. At the time, Constellation was very pleased with the deal, which let it keep most of its price-gouging profits — a spokesperson for the then-governor said that Constellation and BGE were “doing a victory lap around the statehouse” after the bill passed.

In February 2008, however, Constellation announced that it intended to sue the state for unconstitutionally “taking” its assets via the mandatory consumer credit. In March, following a preemptive lawsuit by the state, the matter was settled. BGE agreed to make a one-time rebate of $170 million to residential ratepayers, and 90 percent of the credits to ratepayers (totaling $346 million) were left in place. The deal also relieved ratepayers of the obligation to pay for decommissioning — an expense that had been expected to total $1.5 billion (or possibly much more) from 2016 to 2036.

The deal also included regulatory changes making it easier for outside companies to invest in Constellation — a move of greater import than initially apparent. In September, with utility stock prices plummeting, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy announced it would purchase Constellation for $4.7 billion, less than a quarter of the company’s market value in January.

Meanwhile, Constellation plans to build a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs, potentially the first new reactor built in the United States since the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979.

“There are substantial clean air benefits associated with nuclear power, benefits that we recognize as the operator of three plants in two states,” says Constellation spokesperson Maureen Brown.

It has lined up to take advantage of U.S. government-guaranteed loans for new nuclear construction, available under the terms of the 2005 Energy Act [see “Nuclear’s Power Play: Give Us Subsidies or Give Us Death,” Multinational Monitor, September/October 2008]. “We can’t go forward unless we have federal loan guarantees,” says Brown.

Building nuclear plants is extraordinarily expensive (Constellation’s planned construction is estimated at $9.6 billion) and takes a long time; construction plans face massive political risks; and the value of electric utilities is small relative to the huge costs of nuclear construction. For banks and investors, this amounts to too much uncertainty — but if the government guarantees loans will be paid back, then there’s no risk.

Or, stated better, the risk is absorbed entirely by the public. That’s the financial risk. The nuclear safety risk is always absorbed, involuntarily, by the public.

CNPC: Fueling Violence in Darfur

Many of the world’s most brutal regimes have a common characteristic: Although subject to economic sanctions and politically isolated, they are able to maintain power thanks to multinational oil company enablers. Case in point: Sudan, and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

In July, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo charged the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, with committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The charges claim that Al Bashir is the mastermind of crimes against ethnic groups in Darfur, aimed at removing the black population from Sudan. Sudanese armed forces and government-authorized militias known as the Janjaweed have carried out massive attacks against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa communities of Darfur, according to the ICC allegations. Following bombing raids, “ground forces would then enter the village or town and attack civilian inhabitants. They kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes. They burn and loot the villages.” The ICC says 35,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million displaced.

The ICC reports one victim saying: “When we see them, we run. Some of us succeed in getting away, and some are caught and taken to be raped — gang-raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. … These things are normal for us here in Darfur. These things happen all the time. I have seen rapes, too. It does not matter who sees them raping the women — they don’t care. They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers.”

Governments around the world have imposed various sanctions on Sudan, with human rights groups demanding much more aggressive action.

But there is little doubt that Sudan has been able to laugh off existing and threatened sanctions because of the huge support it receives from China, channeled above all through the Sudanese relationship with CNPC.

“The relationship between CNPC and Sudan is symbiotic,” notes the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First, in a March 2008 report, “Investing in Tragedy.” “Not only is CNPC the largest investor in the Sudanese oil sector, but Sudan is CNPC’s largest market for overseas investment.”

China receives three quarters of Sudan’s exports, and Chinese companies hold the majority share in almost all of the key oil-rich areas in Sudan. Explains Human Rights First: “Beijing’s companies pump oil from numerous key fields, which then courses through Chinese-made pipelines to Chinese-made storage tanks to await a voyage to buyers, most of them Chinese.” CNPC is the largest oil investor in Sudan; the other key Chinese company is the Sinopec Group (also known as the China Petrochemical Corporation).

Oil money has fueled violence in Darfur. “The profitability of Sudan’s oil sector has developed in close chronological step with the violence in Darfur,” notes Human Rights First. “In 2000, before the crisis, Sudan’s oil revenue was $1.2 billion. By 2006, with the crisis well underway, that total had shot up by 291 percent, to $4.7 billion. How does Sudan use that windfall? Its finance minister has said that at least 70 percent of the oil profits go to the Sudanese armed forces, linked with its militia allies to the crimes in Darfur.”

There are other nefarious components of the CNPC relationship with the Sudanese government. China ships substantial amounts of small arms to Sudan and has helped Sudan build its own small arms factories. China has also worked at the United Nations to undermine more effective multilateral action to protect Darfur. Human rights organizations charge a key Chinese motivation is to lubricate its relationship with the Khartoum government so the oil continues to flow.

CNPC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple

Starting in 1988, the Philippines undertook what was to be a bold initiative to redress the historically high concentration of land ownership that has impoverished millions of rural Filipinos and undermined the country’s development. The Comprehensive Agricultural Reform Program (CARP) promised to deliver land to the landless.

It didn’t work out that way.

Plantation owners helped draft the law and invented ways to circumvent its purported purpose.

Dole pineapple workers are among those paying the price.

Under CARP, Dole’s land was divided among its workers and others who had claims on the land prior to the pineapple giant. However, under the terms of the law, as the Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) explains in an October report, “The Sour Taste of Pineapple,” the workers received only nominal title. They were required to form labor cooperatives. Intended to give workers — now the new land owners — a means to collectively manage their land, the cooperatives were instead controlled by wealthy landlords.

“Through its dealings with these cooperatives,” ILRF found, Dole and Del Monte, (the world’s other leading pineapple grower) “have been able to take advantage of a number of worker abuses. Dole has outsourced its labor force to contract labor and replaced its full-time regular employment system that existed before CARP.” Dole employs 12,000 contract workers. Meanwhile, from 1989 to 1998, Dole reduced its regular workforce by 3,500.

Under current arrangements, Dole now leases its land from its workers, on extremely cheap terms — in one example cited by ILRF, Dole pays in rent one-fifteenth of its net profits from a plantation. Most workers continue to work the land they purportedly own, but as contract workers for Dole.

The Philippine Supreme Court has ordered Dole to convert its contract workers into regular employees, but the company has not done so. In 2006, the Court upheld a Department of Labor and Employment decision requiring Dole to stop using illegal contract labor. Under Philippine law, contract workers should be regularized after six months.

Dole emphasizes that it pays its workers $10 a day, more than the country’s $5.60 minimum wage. It also says that its workers are organized into unions. The company responded angrily to a 2007 nomination for most irresponsible corporations from a Swiss organization, the Berne Declaration. “We must also say that those fallacious attacks created incredulity and some anger among our Dolefil workers, their representatives, our growers, their cooperatives and more generally speaking among the entire community where we operate.” The company thanked “hundreds of people who spontaneously expressed their support to Dolefil, by taking the initiative to sign manifestos,” including seven cooperatives.

The problem with Dole’s position, as ILRF points out, is that “Dole’s contract workers are denied the same rights afforded to Dole’s regular workers. They are refused the right to organize or benefits gained by the regular union, and are consequently left with poor wages and permanent job insecurity.” Contract workers are paid under a quota system, and earn about $1.85 a day, according to ILRF.

Conditions are not perfect for unionized workers, either. In 2006, when a union leader complained about pesticide and chemical exposures (apparently misreported in local media as a complaint about Dole’s waste disposal practices), the management of Dole Philippines (Dolefil) pressed criminal libel charges against him. Two years later, these criminal charges remain pending.

Dole says it cannot respond to the allegations in the ILRF report, because the U.S. Trade Representative is considering acting on a petition by ILRF to deny some trade benefits to Dole pineapples imported into the United States from the Philippines.

Concludes Bama Atheya, executive director of ILRF, “In both Costa Rica and the Philippines, Dole has deliberately obstructed workers’ right to organize, has failed to pay a living wage and has polluted workers’ communities.”

GE: Creative Accounting

General Electric (GE) has appeared on Multinational Monitor’s annual 10 Worst Corporations list for defense contractor fraud, labor rights abuses, toxic and radioactive pollution, manufacturing nuclear weaponry, workplace safety violations and media conflicts of interest (GE owns television network NBC).

This year, the company returns to the list for new reasons: alleged tax cheating and the firing of a whistleblower.

In June, former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston reported on internal GE documents that appeared to show the company had engaged in long-running effort to evade taxes in Brazil. In a lengthy report in Tax Notes International, Johnston cited a GE subsidiary manager’s powerpoint presentation that showed “suspicious” invoices as “an indication of possible tax evasion.” The invoices showed suspiciously high sales volume for lighting equipment in lightly populated Amazon regions of the country. These sales would avoid higher value added taxes (VAT) in urban states, where sales would be expected to be greater.

Johnston wrote that the state-level VAT at issue, based on the internal documents he reviewed, appeared to be less than $100 million. But, “since the VAT scheme appears to have gone on long before the period covered in the Moreira [the company manager] report, the total sum could be much larger and could involve other countries supplied by the Brazil subsidiary.”

A senior GE spokesperson, Gary Sheffer, told Johnston that the VAT and related issues were so small relative to GE’s size that the company was surprised a reporter would spend time looking at them. “No company has perfect compliance,” Sheffer said. “We do not believe we owe the tax.”

Johnston did not identify the source that gave him the internal GE documents, but GE has alleged it was a former company attorney, Adriana Koeck. GE fired Koeck in January 2007 for what it says were “performance reasons.” GE sued Koeck in June 2008, alleging that she wrongfully maintained privileged and confidential information, and improperly shared the information with third parties. In a court filing, GE said that it “considers its professional reputation to be its greatest asset and it has worked tirelessly to develop and preserve an unparalleled reputation of ‘unyielding integrity.’”

GE’s suit followed a whistleblower defense claim filed by Koeck in 2007. In April 2007, Koeck filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections (rules put in place following the Enron scandal).

In her filing, Koeck alleges that she was fired not for poor performance, but because she called attention to improper activities by GE. After being hired in January 2006, Koeck’s complaint asserts, she “soon discovered that GE C&I [consumer and industrial] operations in Latin America were engaged in a variety of irregular practices. But when she tried to address the problems, both Mr. Burse and Mr. Jones [her superiors in the general counsel’s office] interfered with her efforts, took certain matters away from her, repeatedly became enraged with her when she insisted that failing to address the problems would harm GE, and eventually had her terminated.”

Koeck’s whistleblower filing details the state VAT-avoidance scheme discussed in Johnston’s article. It also indicates that several GE employees in Brazil were blackmailing the company to keep quiet about the scheme.

Koeck’s whistleblower filing also discusses reports in the Brazilian media that GE had participated in a “bribing club” with other major corporations. Members of the club allegedly met to divide up public contracts in Brazil, as well as to agree on the amounts that would be paid in bribes. Koeck discovered evidence of GE subsidiaries engaging in behavior compatible with the “bribing club” stories and reported this information to her superior. Koeck alleges that her efforts to get higher level attorneys to review the situation failed.

In a statement, GE responds to the substance of Koeck’s allegations of wrongdoing: “These were relatively minor and routine commercial and tax issues in Brazil. Our employees proactively identified, investigated and resolved these issues in the appropriate manner. We are confident we have met all of our tax and compliance obligations in Brazil.GE has a strong and rigorous compliance process that dealt effectively with these issues.”

Koeck’s Sarbanes-Oxley complaint was thrown out in June, on the grounds that it had not been filed in a timely matter.

The substance of her claims, however, are now under investigation by the Department of Justice Fraud Section, according to Corporate Crime Reporter.

Imperial Sugar: 13 Dead

On February 7, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, near Savannah.

Tony Holmes, a forklift operator at the plant, was in the break room when the blast occurred.

“I heard the explosion,” he told the Savannah Morning News. “The building shook, and the lights went out. I thought the roof was falling in. … I saw people running. I saw some horrific injuries. … People had clothes burning. Their skin was hanging off. Some were bleeding.”

Days later, when the fire was finally extinguished and search-and-rescue operations completed, the horrible human toll was finally known: 13 dead, dozens badly burned and injured.

As with almost every industrial disaster, it turns out the tragedy was preventable. The cause was accumulated sugar dust, which like other forms of dust, is highly combustible.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government workplace safety regulator, had not visited Imperial Sugar’s Port Wentworth facility since 2000. When inspectors examined the blast site after the fact, they found rampant violations of the agency’s already inadequate standards. They proposed a more than $5 million fine, and issuance of citations for 61 egregious willful violations, eight willful violations and 51 serious violations. Under OSHA’s rules, a “serious” citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to occur, a “willful” violation is a violation committed with plain indifference to employee safety and health, and “egregious” citations are issued for particularly flagrant violations.

A month later, OSHA inspectors investigated Imperial Sugar’s plant in Gramercy, Louisiana. They found 1/4- to 2-inch accumulations of dust on electrical wiring and machinery. They found 6- to 8-inch accumulations on wall ledges and piping. They found 1/2- to 1-inch accumulations on mechanical equipment and motors. They found 3- to 48-inch accumulations on workroom floors. OSHA posted an “imminent danger” notice at the plant, because of the high likelihood of another explosion.

Imperial Sugar obviously knew of the conditions in its plants. It had in fact taken some measures to clean up operations prior to the explosion.

Graham H. Graham was hired as vice president of operations of Imperial Sugar in November 2007. In July 2008, he told a Senate subcommittee that he first walked through the Port Wentworth facility in December 2007. “The conditions were shocking,” he testified. “Port Wentworth was a dirty and dangerous facility. The refinery was littered with discarded materials, piles of sugar dust, puddles of sugar liquid and airborne sugar dust. Electrical motors and controls were encrusted with solidified sugar, while safety covers and doors were missing from live electrical switchgear and panels. A combustible environment existed.”

Graham recommended that the plant manager be fired, and he was. Graham ordered a housekeeping blitz, and by the end of January, he testified to the Senate subcommittee, conditions had improved significantly, but still were hazardous.

But Graham also testified that he was told to tone down his demands for immediate action. In a meeting with John Sheptor, then Imperial Sugar’s chief operating officer and now its CEO, and Kay Hastings, senior vice president of human resources, Graham testified, “I was also informed that I was excessively eager in addressing the refinery’s problems.”

Sheptor, who was nearly killed in the refinery explosion, and Hastings both deny Graham’s account.

The company says that it respected safety concerns before the explosion, but has since redoubled efforts, hiring expert consultants on combustible hazards, refocusing on housekeeping efforts and purchasing industrial vacuums to minimize airborne disbursement.

In March, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the hazards posed by combustible dust. The head of the Chemical Safety Board testified about a 2006 study that identified hundreds of combustible dust incidents that had killed more than 100 workers during the previous 25 years. The report recommended that OSHA issue rules to control the risk of dust explosions.

Instead of acting on this recommendation, said Committee Chair George Miller, D-California, “OSHA chose to rely on compliance assistance and voluntary programs, such as industry ‘alliances,’ web pages, fact sheets, speeches and booths at industry conferences.”

The House of Representatives then passed legislation to require OSHA to issue combustible dust standards, but the proposal was not able to pass the Senate.

Remarkably, even after the tragedy at Port Wentworth, and while Imperial Sugar said it welcomed the effort for a new dust rule, OSHA head Edwin Foulke indicated he believed no new rule was necessary.

“We believe,” he told the House Education and Labor Committee in March, “that [OSHA] has taken strong measures to prevent combustible dust hazards, and that our multi-pronged approach, which includes effective enforcement of  existing standards, combined with education for employers and employees, is effective in addressing combustible dust hazards. We would like to emphasize that the existence of a standard does not ensure that explosions will be eliminated.”

Philip Morris International: Unshackled

The old Philip Morris no longer exists. In March, the company formally divided itself into two separate entities: Philip Morris USA, which remains a part of the parent company Altria, and Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris USA sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the United States. Philip Morris International tramples over the rest of the world.

The world is just starting to come to grips with a Philip Morris International even more predatory in pushing its toxic products worldwide.

The new Philip Morris International is unconstrained by public opinion in the United States — the home country and largest market of the old, unified Philip Morris —and will no longer fear lawsuits in the United States.

As a result, Thomas Russo of the investment fund Gardner Russo & Gardner told Bloomberg, the company “won’t have to worry about getting pre-approval from the U.S. for things that are perfectly acceptable in foreign markets.” Russo’s firm owns 5.7 million shares of Altria and now Philip Morris International.

A commentator for The Motley Fool investment advice service wrote, “The Marlboro Man is finally free to roam the globe unfettered by the legal and marketing shackles of the U.S. domestic market.”

In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new report on the global tobacco epidemic. WHO estimates the Big Tobacco-fueled epidemic now kills more than 5 million people every year.

Five million people.

By 2030, WHO estimates 8 million will die a year from tobacco-related disease, 80 percent in the developing world.

The WHO report emphasizes that known and proven public health policies can dramatically reduce smoking rates. These policies include indoor smoke-free policies; bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; heightened taxes; effective warnings; and cessation programs. These “strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic,” says WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

Most countries have failed to adopt these policies, thanks in no small part to decades-long efforts by Philip Morris and the rest of Big Tobacco to deploy political power to block public health initiatives. Thanks to the momentum surrounding a global tobacco treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2005, this is starting to change. There’s a long way to go, but countries are increasingly adopting sound public health measures to combat Big Tobacco.

Now Philip Morris International has signaled its initial plans to subvert these policies.

The company has announced plans to inflict on the world an array of new products, packages and marketing efforts. These are designed to undermine smoke-free workplace rules, defeat tobacco taxes, segment markets with specially flavored products, offer flavored cigarettes sure to appeal to youth and overcome marketing restrictions.

The Chief Operating Officer of Philip Morris International, Andre Calantzopoulos, detailed in a March investor presentation two new products, Marlboro Wides, “a shorter cigarette with a wider diameter,” and Marlboro Intense, “a rich, flavorful, shorter cigarette.”

Sounds innocent enough, as far as these things go.

That’s only to the innocent mind.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Philip Morris International’s underlying objective: “The idea behind Intense is to appeal to customers who, due to indoor smoking bans, want to dash outside for a quick nicotine hit but don’t always finish a full-size cigarette.”

Workplace and indoor smoke-free rules protect people from second-hand smoke, but also make it harder for smokers to smoke. The inconvenience (and stigma of needing to leave the office or restaurant to smoke) helps smokers smoke less and, often, quit. Subverting smoke-free bans will damage an important tool to reduce smoking.

Philip Morris International says it can adapt to high taxes. If applied per pack (or per cigarette), rather than as a percentage of price, high taxes more severely impact low-priced brands (and can help shift smokers to premium brands like Marlboro). But taxes based on price hurt Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris International’s response? “Other Tobacco Products,” which Calantzopoulos describes as “tax-driven substitutes for low-price cigarettes.” These include, says Calantzopoulos, “the ‘tobacco block,’ which I would describe as the perfect make-your-own cigarette device.” In Germany, roll-your-own cigarettes are taxed far less than manufactured cigarettes, and Philip Morris International’s “tobacco block” is rapidly gaining market share.

One of the great industry deceptions over the last several decades is selling cigarettes called “lights” (as in Marlboro Lights), “low” or “mild” — all designed to deceive smokers into thinking they are safer.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control says these inherently misleading terms should be barred. Like other companies in this regard, Philip Morris has been moving to replace the names with color coding — aiming to convey the same ideas, without the now-controversial terms.

Calantzopoulos says Philip Morris International will work to more clearly differentiate Marlboro Gold (lights) from Marlboro Red (traditional) to “increase their appeal to consumer groups and segments that Marlboro has not traditionally addressed.”

Philip Morris International also is rolling out a range of new Marlboro products with obvious attraction for youth. These include Marlboro Ice Mint, Marlboro Crisp Mint and Marlboro Fresh Mint, introduced into Japan and Hong Kong last year. It is exporting clove products from Indonesia.

The company has also renewed efforts to sponsor youth-oriented music concerts. In July, activist pressure forced Philip Morris International to withdraw sponsorship of an Alicia Keys concert in Indonesia (Keys called for an end to the sponsorship deal); and in August, the company was forced to withdraw from sponsorship in the Philippines of a reunion concert of the Eraserheads, a band sometimes considered “the Beatles of the Philippines.”

Responding to increasing advertising restrictions and large, pictorial warnings required on packs, Marlboro is focusing increased attention on packaging. Fancy slide packs make the package more of a marketing device than ever before, and may be able to obscure warning labels.

Most worrisome of all may be the company’s forays into China, the biggest cigarette market in the world, which has largely been closed to foreign multinationals. Philip Morris International has hooked up with the China National Tobacco Company, which controls sales in China. Philip Morris International will sell Chinese brands in Europe. Much more importantly, the company is starting to sell licensed versions of Marlboro in China. The Chinese aren’t letting Philip Morris International in quickly — Calantzopoulos says, “We do not foresee a material impact on our volume and profitability in the near future.” But, he adds, “we believe this long-term strategic cooperation will prove to be mutually beneficial and form the foundation for strong long-term growth.”

What does long-term growth mean? In part, it means gaining market share among China’s 350 million smokers. But it also means expanding the market, by selling to girls and women. About 60 percent of men in China smoke; only 2 or 3 percent of women do so.

Roche: Saving Lives is Not Our Business

Monopoly control over life-saving medicines gives enormous power to drug companies. And, to paraphrase Lord Acton, enormous power corrupts enormously.

The Swiss company Roche makes a range of HIV-related drugs. One of them is enfuvirtid, sold under the brand-name Fuzeon. Fuzeon is the first of a new class of AIDS drugs, working through a novel mechanism. It is primarily used as a “salvage” therapy — a treatment for people for whom other therapies no longer work. Fuzeon brought in $266 million to Roche in 2007, though sales are declining.

Roche charges $25,000 a year for Fuzeon. It does not offer a discount price for developing countries.

Like most industrialized countries, Korea maintains a form of price controls — the national health insurance program sets prices for medicines. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs listed Fuzeon at $18,000 a year. Korea’s per capita income is roughly half that of the United States. Instead of providing Fuzeon, for a profit, at Korea’s listed level, Roche refuses to make the drug available in Korea.

Korea is not a developing country, emphasizes Roche spokesperson Martina Rupp. “South Korea is a developed country like the U.S. or like Switzerland.”

Roche insists that Fuzeon is uniquely expensive to manufacture, and so that it cannot reduce prices. According to a statement from Roche, “the offered price represents the lowest sustainable price at which Roche can provide Fuzeon to South Korea, considering that the production process for this medication requires more than 100 steps — 10 times more than other antiretrovirals. A single vial takes six months to produce, and 45 kilograms of raw materials are necessary to produce one kilogram of Fuzeon.”

The head of Roche Korea was reportedly less diplomatic. According to Korean activists, he told them, “We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business.”

Says Roche spokesperson Rupp: “I don’t know why he would say that, and I cannot imagine that this is really something that this person said.”

Another AIDS-related drug made by Roche is valganciclovir. Valganciclovir treats a common AIDS-related infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV) that causes blindness or death. Roche charges $10,000 for a four-month course of valganciclovir. In December 2006, it negotiated with Médicins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and agreed on a price of $1,899. According to MSF, this still-price-gouging price is only available for poor and very high incidence countries, however, and only for nonprofit organizations — not national treatment programs.

Roche’s Rupp says that “Currently, MSF is the only organization requesting purchase of Valcyte [Roche’s brand name for valganciclovir] for such use in these countries. To date, MSF are the only AIDS treatment provider treating CMV for their patients.  They told us themselves this is because no-one else has the high level of skilled medical staff they have.”

Dr. David Wilson, former MSF medical coordinator in Thailand, says he remembers the first person that MSF treated with life-saving antiretrovirals. “I remember everyone was feeling really great that we were going to start treating people with antiretrovirals, with the hope of bringing people back to normal life.” The first person MSF treated, Wilson says, lived but became blind from CMV. “She became strong and she lived for a long time, but the antiretroviral treatment doesn’t treat the CMV.”

“I’ve been working in MSF projects and treating people with AIDS with antiretrovirals for seven years now,” he says, “and along with many colleagues we’ve been frustrated because we don’t have treatment for this particular disease. We now think we have a strategy to diagnose it effectively and what we really need is the medicine to treat the patients.”

Source

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

Toronto working poor need pay hike: Study

November 18, 2008 

TORONTO – In Canada’s most expensive urban area, Ontario’s minimum wage falls far short of what families need for a decent standard of living, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, A Living Wage for Toronto, estimates two working parents raising two young children would need to earn $16.60 an hour each, with both parents working full-time and year-round, to be able to live adequately within the Greater Toronto Area.

“There’s a big difference between having enough to survive – and Ontario’s minimum wage doesn’t even do that – and having enough to participate in the life of the community” says study co-author Hugh Mackenzie, CCPA research associate. “The living wage is the income threshold a family has to cross to avoid being marginalized.”

The study takes into account the major costs facing families raising children in the GTA, and estimates how high their wage should be in order to have a decent standard of life.

“We held focus groups with families in the GTA to confirm our estimates reflected the reality of everyday living,” says co-author Jim Stanford, CCPA research associate. “We discovered that while it covers the basics, our living wage number is still quite modest.

“So many GTA families struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table. They’re working hard, making a major contribution to our economy. It’s only fair that the work they do lifts them out of poverty, and allows them to lead a healthy, full life.”

The study is released in advance of this weekend’s Good Jobs Summit, being organized by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council to improve the quality of jobs in Toronto.

Download the Report/Study:

Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Source

Poverty in Canada is Very Real and Rising

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 2:17 am  Comments Off on Toronto working poor need pay hike: Study  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

World Bank Promotes Fossil Fuel Pollution

One thing leads to another and yet another. One story can lead to some valuable information.

Anyone who has been reading “Did You Know” has noticed there are many things on the IMF and the World Bank. Their policies have contributed to Social problems and Corporations being allowed to go into countries and do some rather devastating damage, to countries who receive the loans.

Monsanto has devastated Indian cotton farmers for example. Of course they have also been involved in many other  problems as well.

There are other corporations that are equally as bad but, for the moment I will just use them as an example.

The World Bank and IMF in many cases, as a part of the agreement to get a loan,  stipulate the markets in the recipient country must open their markets up to some of these not so wonderful corporations, among other stipulations which can vary from one recipient country to another.

In Iceland they had to raise their interest rates to 18%. Of course this I found rather odd, considering during the Financial Crisis of late every other country is lowering them.

After reading the story below I of course went for a wander and found a few things.

So I am sharing my findings with you.

I love to share especially when it comes our planet and our environment.
Time to see green in the red
By James Blunt
November 17, 2008

This year, I have visited more than 180 cities on my world tour, and wherever I went — from Aberdeen to Auckland — one thing never failed to amaze me: air conditioning. It was blasting at sub-arctic levels in nearly every hotel I stayed, when most times it would have been just as easy — and better for the environment — to open a window.

To me, hotel air conditioning is a small but telling reminder of the luxuries we have grown so accustomed to in an age of prosperity but could often do without. They are things — like SUVs, or fish caught half a world away or even disposable hand wipes — that barely improve our daily lives but, altogether, are taking a terrible toll on our planet.

So, as we read  in newspapers like Metro about the economic slowdown, I wonder if there might be a silver lining in such grim news: The possibility that after a period of so much consumption, we might cut back a bit on extravagances we don’t need, and give our over-worked planet a bit of a breather?

I realize that many people roll their eyes when a celebrity preaches about the environment — or rescuing baby seals, or any other worthy cause. (I don’t like preaching, either, and — contrary to what you might have read in the tabloids — I don’t think of myself as a celebrity).
As an army officer and a musician, I have had the privilege of seeing some of the planet’s natural treasures. Sadly, I have also seen the way that we abuse it by dropping bombs and building shopping malls.

I don’t pretend to be an environmental expert, but I am learning. Before my concerts, we screen a preview of An Inconvenient Truth, the remarkable documentary by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore

I am installing solar panels at home, and for every ticket to one of my concerts sold online, we plant a tree.

I’m a supporter of The Big Ask.

It is a campaign by Friends of the Earth to get govern­ments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — the main cause of global warming. Thanks to them, the European Union is now debating laws that would force members to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. If approved, it would be the most ambitious plan in the world, and just might convince the U.S., China and others to come aboard.

Unfortunately, some politicians are pointing to the economy and saying that now is not the time to fight global warming. I think they have it backwards: We cannot afford to wait any longer. Global warming is a problem that is only going to get worse, and more costly to fix, the longer we delay. By joining The Big Ask, you can remind our leaders that the environment should not depend on the stock market.

And one more thing: next time you switch on the air conditioning, think about cracking a window open instead.

Source


Well I had to go and see what the “The Big Ask” was all about. Curiosity you know.

Seems the Friends of the Earth do numerous things.
Fuel Poverty being one of them.
November 13

Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged have lodged an appeal today (13 November 2008) against last month’s High Court ruling that the Government has not broken the law over its failure to tackle fuel poverty.

The High Court gave Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged permission to appeal because the case raised difficult and novel legal questions.  The organisations have asked the Court of Appeal to reconsider the issues and order that the Government release previously secret fuel poverty documents.
Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said:

“We believe the Government has acted unlawfully by failing in its legal commitment to end the suffering of fuel poverty. The Government must introduce a massive programme to cut energy waste, slash fuel bills and ensure that people heat their homes and not the planet.”

Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser for Help the Aged, said:

“The intention of Parliament to end fuel poverty was very clear in legislation – it must happen.  The Government has to come up with a fresh fuel poverty strategy immediately to end the suffering of millions of vulnerable people.  Low income households need crisis payments simply to get through the coming winter, but in the longer term, the energy efficiency of our homes must be improved.”

Although the Government is legally bound to do all that is reasonably possible to eradicate fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010 and for all households by 2016, five million households in the United Kingdom will struggle to heat and power their homes this winter. The number of households in fuel poverty has now reached the highest level in ten years.
Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth and are calling on the Government to develop a far more effective and comprehensive programme of domestic energy efficiency to simultaneously end suffering from fuel poverty and tackle climate change.

Unfortunately this problem is not limited to just the UK.  It is a problem in many other countries as well.

This I found to very interesting.

Brown urged to U-turn on $1.6bn contribution to disastrous climate funds

April 11 2008

Civil society groups from around the world are today (Friday 11 April 2008) calling on the World Bank to withdraw its proposal to establish climate investment funds ahead of this weekend’s spring meetings in Washington, due to concerns the fund will be used for carbon offsetting schemes including industrial-scale tree plantations, coal projects and other polluting, energy-intensive industries and could undermine international efforts to tackle climate change.

The World Bank this week detailed its plans for the funds, which are being set up outside the United Nations Frame Convention on Climate Change [1] and into which the UK will channel its $1.6 billion Environmental Transformation Fund.

Friends of the Earth International climate campaigner Joseph Zacune said: “Gordon Brown’s decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on the World Bank’s disastrous climate funds is set to do much more harm than good by undermining UN, developing country and community-based efforts to address climate change.

“The World Bank is responsible for major emissions through its financing of dirty fuel projects around the world – putting it in charge of multi-billion dollar climate funds is like putting a mafia don in charge of law and order.”

The World Bank Group is the largest multilateral lender for fossil fuel projects, spending around $1 billion per year in financing for the oil and gas industry. This week the Bank approved a $450 million loan for the 4,000 megawatt Tata Mundra coal project in Gujarat, India which is expected to emit 23 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The World Bank’s climate investment funds are expected to be worth between $7 and $12 billion. The US, UK, and Japan originally proposed the funds with a view toward their approval at the G8 summit in Japan in July 2008.

The Bank’s funds are also earmarked for tropical rainforest countries taking part in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. This global offsetting scheme would allow rich countries and their corporations to buy up carbon locked in developing country forests in order to pollute as usual at home. The proposals have been opposed by Indigenous Peoples who would have their land rights undermined.

The Group of 77 and China criticised the proposed funds at UN climate talks in Bangkok last week.

The World Bank’s own Extractive Industries Review (EIR) in 2004 recommended that the Bank “phase out investments in oil production by 2008”.

Notes

[1] Details on these new climate funds became available this week on the World’s Bank website

[2] Bernaditas Muller, chief negotiator for the Group of 77 and China, stated, “The governance of these funds is also donor-driven. There is clearly money for climate actions, which is the good news, but the bad news is it is in the hands of institutions that do not necessarily serve the objectives of the Convention.”

[3] A new report “World Bank: Climate Profiteer” from the Institute for Policy Studies, shows how the World Bank’s growing engagement in carbon markets is dangerously counter-productive. The Bank’s $2 billion, and growing, carbon finance portfolio is forging a path through the $60 billion international carbon market toward a dirty energy future. While the World Bank continues to fund greenhouse gas-emitting coal, oil and gas projects, it skims an average 13% off the top of carbon deals. The report is available on the IPS website

(There are a number of reports at the IPS website , about the World bank worth reading. ( Challenging Corporate Investor Rule ) is one of them. There are about 5 or 6  reports on the World Bank . They do help pollution increase. There are other reports on pollution like (Radiation) as well.

Do be sure to check it out. There is a wealth of information there.

[4] More information is available including Third World Network’s critique on these funds.

See also Bretton Woods Project “World Bank climate funds: a huge leap backwards” .

Source

The Environment belongs to all of us and we must protect it.

Then we also have this type of pollution as well. War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Poverty in Canada is Very Real and Rising

November 18 2008

Poverty in Canada

In 2006, the value of goods and services produced in Canada was over a trillion dollars – amounting to an estimated $35,600 in wealth generated for every man, woman and child in the country, or $142,400 for a family of four.  Despite this vast wealth, there is an ever-widening gap between high-income and low-income individuals and households in Canada. This “growing gap” is contributing to a widening social divide in Canada: a comparative few have unlimited opportunity to fulfill their dreams and potential; many more citizens strain to meet their basic needs. (For excellent detailed information on the growing gap, maintained by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, check here .)

At least 3.4 million people – or about one in ten Canadians – lived in poverty in Canada in 2006. They included an estimated 760,000 children and youth. Demographic groups most susceptible to poverty include Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, single parents (primarily women) and their children, recent immigrants to Canada, and those toiling in low-paying jobs.

To live in poverty in Canada is to live with insufficient and often poor quality food. It is to sleep in poor quality housing, in homeless shelters, or on city streets. It is to be at much greater risk of poor health. It is to be unable to participate fully in one’s community and greater society. And it is to suffer great depths of anxiety and emotional pain, borne by young and old alike.

The persistence of poverty and income inequality, and their negative impacts on health, social cohesion and economic prosperity calls out for vision, leadership and unwavering determination to tackle the root causes of these problems. The National Anti-Poverty Organization is dedicated to this agenda.

Did You Know?

There is no official definition of poverty in Canada and no official “poverty lines” for the nation. However, there are several measures of “low income” which are often used as proxies for poverty lines.  These measures include the Low Income Cut-off (LICO), the Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). For a short review of these measures, check here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).   NAPO

Since 2006 the poverty rates in Canada have increased a great deal.

One in five children live in poverty or more.  Canada does not keep very good statistics in this area.

I do believe the Government wants to hide the truth form it’s citizens.

There are more full time working homeless people then ever before.

There are more Homeless then before 1995.

Ontario for the first time in history has become a have not province.

Of course Mike Harris and de-regulation and numerous other policies had a profound affect on the necessities such as heat, hydro and housing.  All drastically increased.

His legacy lives on in Ontario. Seems his policies played a great role in the problems Ontario now faces today.

Affordable housing is a thing of the past.

Cutting welfare rates by 20% had a dramatic affect on people. It also took out money from the economy and job losses did occur because of the cuts. Less people spending money means job losses.

Implementing the Work For Welfare also played a great role in lowering wages and punishing the jobless. Working for six months and then one is moved on to the next employers. The employer gets free labour. So why would they hire a person when they can get a new free worker in six months?

Employers also abuse the work incentive programs. Hire an employee and you get a percentage of the wages for the employee from the Government. Many times the employee is fired after the six month period and the Employer hires another employee and gets well you said it a portion of their wages for yet another six month period and the cycle continues.

Abusive employers are common.

His policies on the working people, also decreased wages workers received, and their safety.

Less people spending money, causes job losses.

Many of the Harris policies have been implemented in other provinces as well.

Canadians are not the wealthy strong country it once was.

Many of the policies implemented were in the Free Trade agreement.

Cutting Social programs, destroying labour, lowering wages, reducing environmental protections, de-regulation, etc.

Homelessness and hunger in Ontario

By Lee Parsons

23 October 1998

Several reports over the past weeks have drawn attention to the growth of hunger and homelessness across Canada, and in Ontario in particular.

One such study conducted by the Canadian Association of Food Banks, called “Hunger Count 1998,” reveals that the number of people forced to use food banks has increased dramatically in the past several years. More than 700,000 people used one of 2,141 food banks last year in Canada, an increase of 5.4 percent over 1996. The sharpest rise was in Nova Scotia, which saw an increase of 40 percent. Food bank use in Ontario, while climbing only 2.1 percent, has recorded an increase of over 30 percent in the last three years.

The Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto is the largest of its kind in Ontario and has become a permanent necessity since its establishment nearly 20 years ago. While the food bank issues reports regularly, the approach of winter in Ontario has focused media attention on a number of its recent publications that look at the broader effects of poverty in one of the wealthiest cities in North America.

While a good deal of attention, legitimately enough, has been paid to the plight of poor children in Ontario, who account for 41.5 percent of food bank users, the poverty of their parents and other adults is often overlooked. Revealing statistics in one report from Daily Bread, “Who goes hungry?,” show that among adults polled who use food banks, the majority were childless and a disproportionate two-thirds were in their thirties or forties–prime earning years. With incomes of between 25 to 50 percent below the government low-income cutoff or poverty line, the percentage of those counted as the poorest of the poor is increasing.

Another study reveals the connection between poor health and hunger, as well as other important features of systemic poverty in Ontario and in its largest urban center in particular. Entitled “No Apples today … maybe tomorrow,” the report declares that with almost one-third of those who use food banks suffering poor health, hunger is a health issue. While it may come as no surprise that those who lack adequate nutrition are also more likely to have poor health, this report is valuable in elaborating concretely the impact of the decline in living standards in the province. However, as the study itself states: “Food banks are not a viable option for addressing the long term problem of poor health and hunger.”

On another front the Toronto disaster relief committee issued a report last week calling homelessness a national disaster that should be treated like last winter’s devastating ice storm. Ontario Premier Mike Harris responded by saying, “I don’t know whether it’s a national state of emergency at this point of time. I don’t know whether it’s any worse than last year.”

Advocacy groups have raised the issue of homelessness in anticipation of a large shortfall in available space. Current shelters are filled to capacity. Last year in Toronto 26,000 people used emergency shelters, and that number is expected to increase over the next 12 months. It is estimated that 700 new beds will have to be found to meet the demand even if it stays at last year’s level. Some 4,700 individuals are currently homeless in Toronto, with about 4,200 of them staying in emergency shelters and the rest sleeping outside. The city has set up a task force to find a long-term solution, but without adequate funding officials are pressed simply to meet immediate needs.

Responding to a task force report on homelessness commissioned by her office, Ontario Social Services Minister Janet Ecker stated that the cuts to welfare would help Ontario’s homeless people to build a life off the streets (What BS that was). According to Ecker, the government is out of the subsidized housing business, which she declares is not the only answer to the problem. The report, while outlining the extent of the crisis, offers no solutions and places the responsibility on municipalities.

Ecker applauded the report and went on to boast that there are 133,000 fewer children on welfare today than in 1995 (many ended up homeless). The reason for this change is not that poor families have fared any better over that period, but that changes to welfare eligibility and a 21.6 cut in benefits have removed welfare as a means of support for thousands of poor families. Ecker’s ministry is reportedly seeking to expand the “workfare” program which is currently in place only for public sector and nonprofit agencies.

Opposition critics called the 22-page study pitiful, pointing out that while it calls for cities to get people off the streets and into hostels, the hostels are already full. In Toronto an advisory committee on homelessness has suggested setting up tent cities and trailer parks to solve the growing crisis. The solutions offered resemble measures taken in 1946 when the city faced a housing crisis resulting from the return of soldiers from the Second World War.

Referring to the destruction of social programs by both provincial and federal governments, Councilor Jack Layton, who heads the committee, stated, “The hostels are full, affordable housing programs have been canceled, rents are being allowed to go up–we really are stuck here, and we’ve been abandoned totally by Ottawa and Queen’s Park.” Ann Golden, head of Toronto’s homelessness task force, said the report ignores issues of poverty and the housing market, and the shortage of supportive housing needed to keep the mentally ill off the streets.

NDP Member of the Provincial Parliament Rosario Marchese stated, “This is a man-made crisis that can only be corrected by the provincial government taking the lead–and that means housing.” When the NDP was in power it pioneered the workfare program and quashed plans to build 20,000 nonprofit housing units, measures that contributed to the current social crisis.

Actions taken by every level of government have helped swell the ranks of the poor. The federal Liberals have cut billions from transfer payments to the provinces that finance social programs, while posting a surplus of nearly $20 billion in employment insurance since restricting eligibility and reducing rates last year. Over the last 10 years the proportion of the unemployed who actually qualify for benefits has fallen from 83 to 42 percent.

In Ontario the provincial Conservative government has deepened its victimization of the poor since slashing welfare rates three years ago. Hospital closings and cuts to health care have thrown thousands of mentally ill people into the streets to fend for themselves. Waiting lists for subsidized housing now extend years into the future, with no new housing being built and existing shelter being privatized.

In Toronto tuition hikes and a shortage of decent paying jobs have worsened conditions for thousands of young people. In typical fashion bureaucrats at city hall last summer launched a campaign to criminalize the so-called “squeegee kids,” youth who make money by washing car windshields.

The harsh economic reality is about to get worse. While the full impact of government cuts to welfare, social programs and subsidized housing are now making themselves felt, it is clear that the anticipated economic downturn will place whole new sections of the population in jeopardy.

The expressions of concern from the various parliamentary parties are hypocritical. The Liberals, Tories and NDP have each, over the past period, contributed to the growth of poverty in response to the demands of big business to divest government of social responsibility and leave the poor at the mercy of the market.

Source

Jobs outsourced to other countries also played a role in job losses as well. Many were out souced after the Free Trade Agreement was signed.

Those on welfare are more prone to illness caused by malnutrition and poor living conditions.

Job losses, low wages and lack of safety for workers have a profound impact on all concerned.

The fewer jobs, the more people have to depend on welfare. It’s a vicious circle.

Canada needs a change for a better future.

Canada is not alone in this however there are other countries, who have had increased poverty.

All the talk of Free Trade helping people out of poverty is just fabricated propaganda.

Free Trade gave Corporations everything they wanted. Cheap slave labour, more profit and the ability to pollute.

What Free Trade is Really About

From the original Canada-US free trade agreement and NAFTA to the WTO agreements and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, these international treaties are about making it easier for the world’s largest corporations to lower their costs. It allows them to seek out the cheapest workers, the most lax environmental laws and to use the threat of relocation to get what they want. The notion that any country, its workers or consumers benefit from such agreements is a myth.

‘Millions’ of UK young in poverty

Nearly 30% of US Families Subsist on Poverty Wages

New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.

Links to Numerous Anti-Poverty Organizations around the world

New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.

CHICAGO

November 17, 2008

This 2007 Study Fails To Reflect Current Economic Crisis

USDA reported today that 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are food insecure. The Study paints a stark picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. But Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization, warns that the actual number of Americans forced to skip meals and survive without adequate nutrition is even greater today, prompting a national appeal for help in feeding hungry men, women and children.

“It is important to note that the USDA numbers released today are 2007 figures and do not take into account the unprecedented economic crisis that our country is currently facing,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “While the numbers reported are tragic, our network typically experiences trends as direct service providers before they are officially reported.

We believe that this is just the beginning of a downward trend and we expect things to get worse before they get better.”

“We serve more than 200 food banks that provide food to the vast majority of food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency feeding centers across the country – more than 63,000 in total,” added Escarra. “These are faith-based organizations, community centers, mobile food pantries set up in parking lots, where more than four million people stand in line every week for just a few bags of groceries to help feed themselves and their families. While emergency food assistance is vital to helping people who have to make tough choices between food and other basic necessities, it’s often times barely enough to make ends meet. We see increases in the number of people in need at the end of the month when our clients have run out of food stamp benefit and spent their meager income on paying necessary bills.”

“Our food banks are calling us every day, telling us that demand for emergency food is higher than it has ever been in our history. They are serving a significant number of new clients – people who were once their donors, middle class workers who can no longer make ends meet, many of the half-million people who have lost their jobs in just the past two months as unemployment has climbed to 6.5 percent,” Escarra said.

Last spring, Feeding America conducted a research study to determine increased need. Across the board, food banks were witnessing an average increased need of nearly 20 percent. In many areas, the percentages were doubled over the previous timeframe in 2007.

“If the data we are reviewing today reflected food insecurity data from the last 12 months, it would be even more shocking,” said Escarra. “Unemployment rates and healthcare costs continue to soar, and there is not an end expected in near sight. The number of middle class working families seeking food is where we are seeing the most growth. We don’t expect the lines to get any shorter at local food pantries anytime soon, and we won’t know how bad it really is until the future USDA numbers is released next year.”

“Hungry Americans and food banks are desperately in need of relief from Congress in an economic recovery package. Food stamp benefits must be increased to enable low-income Americans to purchase adequate food which is a direct economic benefit to the economy. Additionally, food banks inventories are unable to keep pace with the skyrocketing demands for emergency food assistance. We urge Congress to allocate additional dollars for the purchase, storage and transportation of USDA commodities to ensure that our Network is able to continue feeding the millions of additional people in need right now as a result of a weakening economy.”

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks operate 63,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.

Source

Hunger Fact Sheet
Who We Are
America’s Second Harvest — The Nation’s Food Bank Network is now named Feeding America. We are the country’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, with a network of more than 200 regional member food banks serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Each year, we provide food to more than 25 million low-income Americans, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

The Feeding America network secures and distributes nearly 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. Our efforts support approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 70,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes.

Who We Help
The Feeding America Network provides emergency food assistance to more than 25 million Americans in need every year.
Ethnic Background of Clients

  • 40%are white
  • 38% are African American
  • 17% are Hispanic
  • 5% are American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • 0.5% are native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • 1.0% are Asian

Poverty

  • According to our most recent hunger study, 66% of all Feeding America client households have annual household incomes at or beneath the poverty line. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • 17.5% of all client households have annual incomes between 100% and 185% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • 6.2% have annual incomes of 186% of poverty or more. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • The number of people below the poverty threshold numbered 36.5 million in 2006, a rate of 12.3% of all Americans.  (U.S. Census Bureau,  Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006)
  • The average annual income in 2004 among client households served by the Feeding America Network was $11,210. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1 )

Food Insecurity

  • An estimated 35.5 million Americans are food insecure; meaning their access to enough food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • 41.5% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network reported having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or heat within the previous 12 months. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • More than one-third (35%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • Nearly one-third (31.6%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • 5.9% of households with seniors (1.59 million households) were food insecure. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)

Children

  • Over 9 million children are estimated to be served by the Feeding America Network, over 2 million of which are ages 5 and under, representing nearly 13% of all children under age 18 in the United States and over 72% of all children in poverty. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N)
  • According to the USDA, an estimated 12.6 million children lived in food insecure households in 2006.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, particularly for low-income children. 62% of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program, but only 13% participated in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1 )
  • 51% of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1)
  • Nearly 41% of emergency food providers in the Feeding America Network reported “many more children in the summer” being served by their programs. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 10.9.1)
  • Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families. In 2002, over half of the nonelderly families that accessed a food pantry at least once during the year had children under the age of 18. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)

Seniors

  • The Feeding America Network serves nearly 3 million seniors age 65 and over each year, 2 out of every 10 households served by our network contains at least one member age 65 and over (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N).
  • 83.3% of all households with seniors served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.3.5)
  • 30.8% of client households with seniors had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities and heating fuel. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
  • Among client households with seniors, nearly 30% have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
  • Among client households with at least one senior member, 27.4% are served at program sites located in center cities, 25% are served at program sites located in suburban areas, and 18.1% are served at program sites located in rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.3)

Working Poor

  • Nearly half of all non-elderly low-income families that used a food pantry in 2001 consisted of working families with children. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)
  • 36% of client households served by the Feeding America Network include at least one employed adult. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.7.1)
  • The average monthly income of client households in 2005 was $860, or 75% of the federal poverty level. Overall, clients indicated that a job was the main source of income for their households for the previous month. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.2.1 and Table 5.8.3.1)
  • 66% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below the federal poverty line for 2004.
  • 46% of client’s households do not have access to a working car. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.9.2.1)

Rural Hunger

  • 42.6% of adult clients served by programs in the Feeding America Network reside in suburban or rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.2.1)
  • 28.5% of client households served in nonmetropolitan areas reported that their children often or sometimes did not eat enough during the past year because there was not enough money to buy food. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.1)
  • 12% of rural households are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated 2.3 million households.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • 17.5% of all rural households with children are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated over 1 million children.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • According to ERS, more than one out of every three persons living in nonmetro families that are headed by a female is poor. The highest poverty rate by type of family is for female-headed, nonmetro families. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)
  • Counties with disproportionately high rates of persistent poverty are often rural, with 340 of 386 persistent poverty counties primarily rural. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)

Food Facts
The Feeding America Network of over 200 food banks and food rescue organizations distributed nearly 2 billions pounds of food and grocery products in 2005.

  • 529 million pounds from national product donors
  • 478 million pounds from US Government programs
  • 904 million pounds from local product donors
  • 206 million pounds from purchase programs

The USDA estimates 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year in the United States.

Source

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 9:34 pm  Comments Off on New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

November 14 2008
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
A U.N. official says Israel is holding up planned food aid shipments to Gaza.

Official Chris Gunness says this means the U.N. Relief and Works Agency won’t be able to deliver food to 750,000 Gaza residents beginning on Friday.

Israel has kept its crossings sealed with Gaza for nine days. The closure came in response to ongoing Palestinian rocket and mortar fire at Israel.

Israel said small quantities of food aid would be allowed in on Thursday. But Gunness says Israel told him the crossings would not be opened.

Military spokesman Peter Lerner said the crossings stayed shut because Palestinian militants fired mortars and rockets at Israel early Thursday.

Source

This is one war that needs to be halted. The sooner the better.

Chart showing that approximately four times more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis.

American news reports repeatedly describe Israeli military attacks against the Palestinian population as “retaliation.” However, when one looks into the chronology of death in this conflict, the reality turns out to be quite different.

Source

Of course this changes every day as more die.

Fatalities and more information

29.9.2000-31.10.2008
Occupied Territories
Israel
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces
2969 1791 4760 69
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians
4 41 45 2
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
39 198 237 490
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
97 148 245 90
Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians
10 7 17 37
Foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces
4 6 10
Palestinians killed by Palestinians
459 135 594
Additional data (included in previous table)
Occupied Territories
Israel
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
634 318 952 3
Israeli minors killed by Palestinians
4 35 39 84
Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing
Palestinians who were the object of a targeted killing
150 82 232
Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel
11 109 120
Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces
1198 467 1665 60
Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces ( not including the objects of targeted killings).
1382 840 2222 5
Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities
389 484 873 4
Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 6:42 am  Comments Off on U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Global Starvation Ignored by American Policy Elites

November 12 2008

By Peter Phillips

A new report (9/2/08) from The World Bank admits that in 2005 three billion one hundred and forty million people live on less that $2.50 a day and about 44% of these people survive on less than $1.25. Complete and total wretchedness can be the only description for the circumstances faced by so many, especially those in urban areas. Simple items like phone calls, nutritious food, vacations, television, dental care, and inoculations are beyond the possible for billions of people.

Starvation.net logs the increasing impacts of world hunger and starvation. Over 30,000 people a day (85% children under 5) die of malnutrition, curable diseases, and starvation. The numbers of unnecessary deaths has exceeded three hundred million people over the past forty years.

These are the people who David Rothkopf in his book Superclass calls the unlucky. “If you happen to be born in the wrong place, like sub-Saharan Africa, …that is bad luck,” Rothkopf writes. Rothkopf goes on to describe how the top 10% of the adults worldwide own 84% of the wealth and the bottom half owns barely 1%. Included in the top 10% of wealth holders are the one thousand global billionaires. But is such a contrast of wealth inequality really the result of luck, or are there policies, supported by political elites, that protect the few at the expense of the many?

Farmers around the world grow more than enough food to feed the entire world adequately. Global grain production yielded a record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4% from the year before, yet, billions of people go hungry every day. Grain.org describes the core reasons for continuing hunger in a recent article “Making a Killing from Hunger.” It turns out that while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control the global food prices and distribution. Starvation is profitable for corporations when demands for food push the prices up. Cargill announced that profits for commodity trading for the first quarter of 2008 were 86% above 2007. World food prices grew 22% from June 2007 to June 2008 and a significant portion of the increase was propelled by the $175 billion invested in commodity futures that speculate on price instead of seeking to feed the hungry. The result is wild food price spirals, both up and down, with food insecurity remaining widespread.

For a family on the bottom rung of poverty a small price increase is the difference between life and death, yet neither US presidential candidate has declared a war on starvation. Instead both candidates talk about national security and the continuation of the war on terror as if this were the primary election issue. Given that ten times as many innocent people died on 9/11/01 than those in the World Trade centers, where is the Manhattan project for global hunger? Where is the commitment to national security though unilateral starvation relief? Where is the outrage in the corporate media with pictures of dying children and an analysis of who benefits from hunger?

American people cringe at the thought of starving children, often thinking that there is little they can do about it, save sending in a donation to their favorite charity for a little guilt relief. Yet giving is not enough, we must demand hunger relief as a national policy inside the next presidency. It is a moral imperative for us as the richest nation in the world nation to prioritize a political movement of human betterment and starvation relief for the billions in need. Global hunger and massive wealth inequality is based on political policies that can be changed. There will be no national security in the US without the basic food needs of the world being realized.

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research group.

Source

Starvation is profitable for corporations. How about we take their profits away.

Should the US Experts be trusted?

November 12 2008

By Jeremy Gaunt and Alex Richardson

LONDON/SINGAPORE

A number of deals designed to cure the global financial crisis were in danger of unravelling on Wednesday, with losses mounting at banks and economies deteriorating.

The International Monetary Fund withheld official backing for a $6 billion (4 billion pounds) bailout plan for Iceland, the Financial Times reported, putting loans to the North Atlantic island nation at threat.

Some of banking giant Barclays’ biggest shareholders have threatened to vote against a planned 7 billion pound capital raising unless it improves the terms of the deal, British newspapers said.

The latter follows a row over the crisis-driven planned purchase of lender HBOS by Lloyds TSB with leading banking figures arguing a more competitive deal should be sought.

Aides to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, meanwhile, were playing down reports of tension with the Bush administration over help for the stricken car industry.

A feud within Japan’s cabinet over whether rich people should get payouts as part of a stimulus package looked set to be put aside after delaying the plan for weeks.

Questions are also beginning to be asked about just how much help governments can give.

“The U.S.’ financial resources are already stretched and a flood of news demands may overwhelm a government already staring down at a record budget deficit next year,” UBS economists said in a note.

Financial markets were rocked again under the combined pressure of a global economic downturn and the worst financial crisis in 80 years.

European shares rose 1.6 percent after losing more than 4 percent on Tuesday, reflecting the sharp volatility currently infecting investors.

There were more corporate profit warnings with General Motors shares falling on Tuesday to levels not seen since World War Two.

“Whether it’s economic indicators or company news, it’s just too awful,” said Takashi Ushio, head of the investment strategy division at Marusan Securities in Tokyo.

DECLINE AND FALL

The financial industry showed more pain with Dutch group ING posting its first-ever quarterly loss as impairments on stocks and bonds, counterparty losses and property writedowns ate into its income.

ING Group NV had projected the loss in October before agreeing to a 10 billion euros (8.2 billion pounds) cash injection by the Dutch government to shore up its core capital.

Its net loss for the third quarter was 478 million euros, after writedowns totalling 1.5 billion euros. ING posted a profit of 2.3 billion euros a year earlier.

Insurer Swiss Life said third-quarter premium volumes fell 11 percent to 3.075 billion Swiss francs (1.7 billion pounds) and warned it would not meet its full-year net profit guidance.

This came against a background of continuing decline in world economies.

China’s retail sales data on Wednesday pointed to slowing consumption and the World Bank said more countries were seeking its help. The head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, said there was room for further interest rate cuts in the stagnating euro zone.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said global trade may drop next year for the first time in more than a quarter of a century as the worldwide credit crisis cuts into trade financing.

“It is our estimate that trade could actually fall, not grow more slowly or have growth fall, but actually fall next year, for the first time since 1982,” Zoellick said in an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting of world leaders.

Zoellick said the bank expected its lending to increase to $35 billion this year from $13.5 billion last year, adding that countries such as Mexico, Indonesia and Colombia were tapping its contingency financing fund amid worries about access to credit.

Investors, meanwhile, were looking to a summit of world leaders in Washington on Saturday for solutions.

President-elect Obama, however, is steering clear of the meeting.

“I think he wants to have a free hand after the inauguration,” Dale said. “If he gets too closely associated with the summit, he might find himself associated with views with which he might not necessarily agree,” said Reginald Dale, a scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

(Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Source


My rant for the day.

For all the Geniuses in the Financial Field, I really have to wonder if they know anything at all. They pretend to be such experts, but it seems they aren’t such geniuses.

This mess was created in the US, so their experts are not so brilliant. That speaks for itself.

Their advice should be scrutinized very carefully.

We should trust them because???????????? ,

Why so they can drag us into yet another one if their capitalistic nightmares.

Their rhetoric and propaganda is nauseating to say the least.

George Bush and all his so called advisors are not to be trusted.

Free Trade, deregulation, pandering to profiteering Corporations, listening to lobby groups and the cost of war have all played a great part to the demise of the US economy.

The so called experts fail to actually see the problem as a whole.

All countries around the world should be taking care of their people.

America is not the most wonderful place in the world.

They do not have the most intelligent people taking care of them.

They do not take care of their people. They just pretend a lot.

Over the years and observing the ups and downs of America and their leaders the two most intelligent people I have noted to date are Ron Paul and Barack Obama.

One of the notes I have taken on both of them is they actually seem to care about the people. When they speak they actually know what they are talking about.

That is special. Considering some of the slop we have had to listen to over the years.

When Bush or Cheney open their mouths, I want to scream at the stupidity of it all.

Hide under my bed in fear of yet another war.

Their wisdom is not wisdom at all it’s just full blown ignorance.

Their fear mongering and rhetoric should have been stopped years ago.

Instead everyone pandered to their garbage.

They turned America into the most hated nation in the world and with good reasons.

They threaten, course and lie. We are trapped on the planet with them until January 2009.

They should be in jail for crimes against humanity yet they are still allowed to run free and attempt to destroy what is left of the world with their so called expert advice.

Spare me the agony.

The Bush Administration has done little or nothing to improve the lives of the American people. They certainly are very adept at destruction not only of their own people but in destroying the rest of the world, whether is be through war of the financial blundering of this administration.

Their advice is not to be trusted. If they are such experts why is their country where it is today?

Their Health Care leaves a lot to be desired. It is horrible, costly and doesn’t serve the people only the profiteering, insurance companies.

Their wars are destroying millions of lives.

Their financial crisis is destroying the world.

Oh yes they are very cleaver indeed.

Their free trade agreements are more like give the profiteering, Corporations cheap, slave labour, massive profits and if they pollute no big deal. They want to take over the naturel resources of each and every country. They want to steal their water and privatize everything they can get their grubby hands on to the demise of the people in said country as well. Live becomes unaffordable for many and poverty rises as does the cost of living.

Privatization is just profiteering at the expense of people. Free Trade agreements drive farmers out of business as it does other homegrown businesses.

The Corporations move in and take over. This practice has to be addressed by all countries. Those who fight back are called evil among other things.

The American media more times then not jump on the propaganda band wagon.

Ensuring the American people never get the truth.

Universal Health Care is apparently a horrible thing in the US. Just ask any one.

Well the American people have been lied to for years over that one.

Michael Moore has tried to tell the Americans things could be different.

He had the guts to go up against the propaganda machine.

When one takes that one Example and really thinks about it that alone says a lot about the lies Americans have been told.

If America cared one iota about their citizens it would have given them Universal Health care years ago. Instead they were spoon fed propaganda and lies. Their media has played in great part a very large role in this and they of all should be telling the American people truth. That is apparently their job. Apparently they are not doing their job very well. .Instead they pander to the insurance companies. They pander to the Government officials who gets loads of money from insurance companies. How very disappointing it all is.

The Bush administration reminds me of a two year old temper tantrum throwing, brat that should be given a good sound spanking and have their privileges taken away.

If my child behaved in such a manner I would ground them for years.

Should they be trusted? They are like and infectious disease.  Spreading their illness world wide. Much like the plague.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm  Comments Off on Should the US Experts be trusted?  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

A little History

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

August 2008

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the most powerful international financial institutions in the world. They are the major sources of lending to African countries, and use the loans they provide as leverage to prescribe policies and dictate major changes in the economies of these countries. The World Bank is the largest public development institution in the world, lending over $24 billion in 2007 – of which over $5 billion (or 22 percent) went to Africa.

The World Bank and IMF are controlled by the world’s richest countries, particularly the U.S., which is the main shareholder in both institutions. The World Bank, headquartered in Washington, DC, follows a “one dollar, one vote” system whereby members with the greatest financial contributions have the greatest say in decision making. The U.S. holds roughly 17% of the vote in the World Bank and the 48 sub-Saharan African countries together have less than 9% of the votes. The Group of 7 rich countries (G-7) control 45% of World Bank votes. This system ensures that the World Bank and IMF act in the interest of the rich countries, promoting a model of economic growth (called neo-liberal) that benefits the richest countries and the international private sector.

Over the past two decades, the poorest countries in the world have had to turn increasingly to the World Bank and IMF for financial assistance, because their impoverishment has made it impossible for them to borrow elsewhere. The World Bank and IMF attach strict conditions to their loans, which give them great control over borrower governments. On average, low-income countries are subject to as many as 67 conditions per World Bank loan. African countries, in need of new loans, have had no choice but to accept these conditions.

The World Bank and IMF have forced African countries to adopt “structural adjustment programs” (SAP) and other measures which cut back government spending on basic services. They have required African governments to reduce trade barriers and open their markets, maintaining their economies as sources of cheap raw materials and cheap labor for multinational corporations.

As a result of World Bank and IMF policies, average incomes in Africa have declined, and the continent’s poverty has increased. Africa’s debt crisis has worsened over the past two decades, as the failure of World Bank and IMF intervention has left African countries more dependent than ever on new loans. These institutions have also undermined Africa’s health through the policies they have imposed. Forced cutbacks in spending on health care, and the privatization of basic services, have left Africa’s people more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related diseases.

The policies of the World Bank and IMF have come increasingly under fire, for the negative impact they have had on African countries. But these institutions, and the U.S. and other wealthy countries that control them, refuse to address these concerns. Instead, they continue to use Africa’s debt as leverage to maintain control over the economic policies of African countries. Even as Africa faces the worst health crisis in human history, these institutions insist that debt repayments take priority over spending on the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. African countries continue to spend up to five times more on debt servicing than on health care for their populations.

In response to growing criticism of their policies, the IMF and World Bank have continuously repackaged their structural adjustment programs over the last two decades. In 1999, the institutions began a funding system that requires a country to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which purports to outline programs that will promote growth and reduce poverty over the next several years. Through the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF), which disburses funds, the World Bank and IMF approve and then finance these poverty reduction programs. While the World Bank and IMF claim that this allows greater flexibility for countries receiving assistance, the degree of ownership that countries have in PRSPs is exaggerated. Parliaments and civil society are often excluded from developing and adopting PRSPs.

In 2005, the IMF created the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). PSIs do not provide financial assistance to the countries that choose to participate. Rather, the IMF provides economic policy advice to a country, and then monitors it to determine whether or not the country has earned the IMF’s endorsement. Creditors and donors can then base their decision to offer loans or grants to a country on the IMF’s PSI assessment. In practice, this program continues to enforce IMF economic reforms and compromise the ability of African governments to decide on their development path.

To address the external debt crisis of poor countries, the IMF and World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in September 1996. Designed by creditors, this initiative was intended to extract the maximum in debt repayments from poor countries. It has failed even to meet its stated objective of reducing Africa’s debt burden to a “sustainable” level, and the strict HIPC eligibility requirements prevent many countries from receiving much-needed assistance.

In July 2005, the Group of 8 (G-8) proposed a debt cancellation deal for 18 countries, 14 of which are in Africa. That September, the World Bank and IMF approved this deal through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI grants debt cancellation to countries that meet certain eligibility requirements, including adherence to economic policies and programs that the World Bank and IMF deem satisfactory. As of December 2007, the World Bank and IMF have approved MDRI debt relief for 25 countries, 19 of which are in Africa. Although the MDRI provides some progress on the issue of debt, it still leaves many African countries trapped under the burden of illegitimate debt. Furthermore, it establishes the precedent that future debt cancellation will only be offered to countries that have submitted their economies to the draconian dictates of the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment policies.

The benefits of debt cancellation have been proven repeatedly. While in 2003, Zambia was forced to spend twice as much on debt payments as on health care, partial debt cancellation allowed the government to grant free basic healthcare to its population in 2006. In Benin, more than half of the money saved through debt cancellation has been spent on health. In Tanzania, the newly available funds were used to eliminate primary school fees, increasing attendance by two-thirds. Uganda is currently using the $57.9 million of savings it gained from debt relief in 2006 to improve primary education, energy and water infrastructure, malaria control, and healthcare. Cameroon is using its $29.8 million in savings for poverty reduction, infrastructure improvement, and governance reforms.

Since 2007, there has been talk of the IMF selling its gold reserves to offset its growing administrative budget deficits. In order for the IMF to sell any part of its gold reserves, the sale must be approved by an 85% majority of its members. The United States controls about 17% of this vote, giving it an effective veto over this action. In February 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced that it would support the sale if the IMF takes part in a package of reforms that would put more emphasis on surveillance and financial stability and less on lending.

By law, however, the U.S. Congress must authorize the sale of IMF gold before the U.S. Executive Director may support such a decision. This puts Congress in a unique position to greatly influence the future actions and operations of the IMF. In contrast with Treasury’s modest reform proposal, Congress could seize this opportunity and condition its approval of the IMF’s gold sales on a bold reform agenda that eliminates IMF policies that have restricted investments in health, education and HIV/AIDS spending. Specifically, gold sales should be approved only if the IMF ceases use of overly restrictive deficit-reduction and inflation-reduction targets, eliminates budget ceilings for the health and education sectors and de-links debt cancellation from such harmful macroeconomic conditions. Gold sales could also be used to finance expanded debt cancellation.

African countries must have the power to shape their own economic policies and to determine their own development priorities. This requires the cancellation of all of Africa’s illegitimate external debts, and an immediate end to the harmful policies the World Bank and IMF have imposed in Africa.

Source

South Africa: IMF Can Only Bring Misery

by Trevor Ngwane and George DorThe Sowetan
July 12 2000

Last Friday, Horst Koehler, newly-appointed head of the International Monetary Fund, received a hostile response from the anti-privatisation forum, Jubilee 2000, the campaign against neoliberalism and the South African Communist Party. We are trained to be hospitable in the African tradition, but this was a fair exception.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum includes two campaigns. The first is the anti-Igoli Forum which opposes Johannesburg’s “iGoli 2002” plan to privatise our city. The second is the Wits University Crisis Committee, which opposes a similar strategy, “Wits 2001,” which has led to massive job losses and the decline of arts education at South Africa’s main university.

The campaigns oppose the privatisation of social goods, like water and education, that in a just society should be under the control of communities, workers and students. The unity of our struggles is all the more urgent in view of this week’s Urban Futures Conference, at which the powers behind iGoli 2002 and Wits 2001 are hoping to showcase the sale of our city and our university.

If Horst Koehler thought his visit to South Africa would be widely applauded, he should know that workers, community activists and students in Johannesburg have been protesting his institution for many years.

The last such visit by an IMF leader was in October 1996, when Michel Camdessus came to meet workers, community activists and students, as requested by finance minister Trevor Manuel. But our leadership in Cosatu, Sanco and Sasco boycotted the meeting on grounds that the IMF would do harm to South Africa.

The subsequent events in East Asia, which shamed Camdessus, proved that a firm stand against the IMF was correct. We know that firsthand in our country and our continent, where for more than two decades people have suffered immensely, due to IMF interference.

The IMF made billions of dollars of loans to apartheid South Africa during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our allies in the Jubilee 2000 South Africa movement have demanded that these loans, which were repaid by South African society during one of the most repressive, bloody periods in our history, now in turn be the basis for reparations by the IMF to a democratic South Africa.

During the late 1980s, when the apartheid regime began to sell state assets to white-owned conglomerates and raised interest rates to the highest levels in our history, the IMF was prodding it to do so. The IMF consistently argued that South African workers were overpaid, and that South Africa should implement a Value Added Tax to shift the burden of tax payment further to lower-income people. The apartheid regime generally followed this advice and was applauded by the IMF for doing so.

In December 1993, the IMF granted a US $750 million loan (about R5,1 billion) which was purportedly for drought relief. Actually, the drought had ended eighteen months earlier. The loan carried conditions such as a lowered budget deficit to prevent a new government spending more on social programmes, and lower wages for civil servants. These conditions have subsequently become government policy in the form of Gear. The loan was a secret agreement, only leaked to the business press in March 1994.

Again and again in Southern Africa and across the Third World the IMF’s free-market economic advice and conditions on loans have been disastrous. These disasters have led to a profound crisis of legitimacy for the Washington institution. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the April 2000 New Republic magazine that the IMF is populated by “third-rate economists.”

One reason for the IMF’s crisis of legitimacy is the control exercised by the US government. This power is based on ownership of 18% of the IMF’s shares, enough to veto anything the US disagrees with.

The IMF remains a profoundly undemocratic institution, whose economic policies have been roundly condemned for the misery caused throughout the Third World and especially in East Asia, Russia and Latin America when “emerging market crises” occurred during 1997-99.

The IMF’s fraternal institution, the World Bank, has had an especially obnoxious role in Johannesburg. Bank staff were responsible for a 1995 infrastructure policy which recommended low standards and high prices for household water and electricity, even though the Reconstruction and Development Programme mandated the opposite. Bank staff recommended that low-income households be not given flush toilets but instead use pit-latrines, without considering the public health risks of excrement leaking into Johannesburg’s water table through its dolomitic rock.

When a similar scheme was established in Winterveld in 1991, hundreds of people got cholera as a result.

The Bank also promoted privatisation of municipal services across the country. In Johannesburg, it took the lead on research to promote a one-sided, pro-corporate perspective on iGoli 2002. It is no wonder that the Johannesburg privatisation plan has been renamed “E.Coli 2002”.

For all these reasons, the visit of Horst Koehler and the ongoing role played by the World Bank in Johannesburg represent very serious dangers to poor and working-class people and the environment.

When 30,000 people joined in protest against these institutions, in their hometown Washington DC in April, it was clear they were not listening to us but we all are surprised by how quickly they have followed us back to Johannesburg to do their damage. They must not be allowed to arrange the junk-sale of our university, our city, our country and our continent.

Trevor Ngwane is a Johannesburg councillor and Wits master’s degree student, while George Dor is chairman of the campaign against neoliberalism in South Afric. Both are affiliated to the Alternative Information and Development Centre in Johannesburg.

Source

Is Africa being bullied into growing GM crops?

David Fig

27 June 2007

Africa must not let multinational corporations and international donors dictate its biotechnology agenda, says David Fig.

Africa is rapidly becoming a focal point for multinational crop and chemical corporations clearing the way for the extended uptake of their products and technologies. In particular, African governments are facing enormous pressure to endorse and adopt genetically modified (GM) crops.

Organisations like the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa — bankrolled by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations — are partly to blame through their heavy investment in infrastructure aimed at supporting the development and distribution of GM crops and seeds.

But the African Union (AU) itself is now also encouraging the adoption of GM technology. Working in tandem with its development wing, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the AU’s High Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology is soon to release a Freedom to Innovate plan — the clearest expression yet of the trend to back this controversial and risky technology. And it does so uncritically, rather than taking a more rational precautionary position that would safeguard Africa’s rich biodiversity and agriculture.

The AU is also engaged in efforts to revise the carefully crafted African Model Law on Biosafety, which outlines the biosafety provisions necessary for African environmental conditions.

The revisions emanate from those seeking to make the biosafety content less stringent, placing Africa under even more pressure to conform to the needs of the gene corporations.

Saying no to the GM bandwagon

Support for GM technology, though, is by no means universal across the continent. The AU’s efforts in shaping the Freedom to Innovate plan and model law contrast with the leadership role that the Africa Group took in developing the Cartagena Protocol to ensure more stringent biosafety precautions.

Indeed, a number of African governments and civil society organisations are increasingly speaking out against the pressures from gene companies — and the foundations that back them — to adopt their technologies.

For example Angola, Sudan and Zambia have resisted pressure to accept GM food aid, while nongovernmental groups such as the African Biodiversity Network, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, defend community and farmers’ rights to reject GM seed. At one stage Burkina Faso implemented a moratorium on the planting of GM crops.

The Freedom to Innovate document does little justice to the debate raging around Africa. Instead it seeks to institutionalise the pro-GM position of larger countries like Nigeria and South Africa for the entire continent.

Offering unbiased advice

There is no question that Africa needs technology to develop. But it must be appropriate to a country’s chosen path of development.

New technologies aimed at development must be evaluated in depth by, among others, scientists with no vested interests.

Natural scientists must assess GM technology’s likely impacts on both the environment and human and animal health. Social scientists must also examine the potential socio-economic consequences of such innovation — such as impacts on local food security, trade or indebtedness. Stakeholders, including those who safeguard traditional knowledge, could further enrich such assessment by indicating proven alternatives.

This model of technological assessment could serve Africa very well. It could enable governments to formulate appropriate policies and development priorities.

Most importantly, if a technology is found to be questionable or negative in terms of its impacts — or if there are no clear development benefits to be derived from its adoption — a precautionary mechanism must exist that can delay and carefully regulate its introduction.

The freedom to choose

The Freedom to Innovate plan tries to advocate the idea that all biotechnology benefits Africa and fails to analyse the risks attached to their adoption. While some aspects of modern biotechnology might prove useful in African agriculture, this does not mean that one aspect of this — GM crops — can increase continental food security and farmer prosperity.

GM technology forces Africa into high-input, chemical-dependent agriculture which impacts on biodiversity and creates debt burdens for small farmers.

In addition, the regulatory steps required for control of GM crops are so demanding of resources that, even when other budgetary areas relating to food security may need more pressing attention, Africa is forced to prioritise their set up.

Gene corporations, together with the scientists that work for them, have invested a lot of time, effort and money in developing GM crops. Not surprisingly, they are the ones who propound the idea that transgenic crops can rescue Africa from poverty and underdevelopment.

But Africa must not let itself be bullied into accepting a technology that has yet to prove itself as appropriate for solving the continent’s hunger problems. The AU’s role should be one of providing governments with well-reasoned technological evaluation, rather than acting as a proxy for promoting a specific industry’s commercial needs.

David Fig is an independent environmental policy analyst based in Johannesburg, and a trustee of Biowatch South Africa.

Source

Africa and the IMF: In Defense of Economic Correction

August 6 1993

Regarding “To the World Bank and IMF: Africa Has Its Own Agenda” (Letters, July 1) from Hassan Sunmonu:

The writer, secretary-general of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, suggests that World Bank and IMF-supported economic adjustment programs in Africa have increased African indebtedness and poverty. This assertion flies in the face of the evidence wherever these programs have been carried out in a sustained manner.

It also ignores the fact that the pace of progress achieved has varied across countries, depending on the nature and the severity of the pre-existing economic conditions, the effects at times of unfavorable external developments (such as worsening terms of trade and drought), and domestic political realities.

Mr. Sunmonu calls on the IMF and the World Bank to abandon their “anti-people and anti-development programs,” accept the rights of all countries to formulate their own development plans, give to African governments sovereign authority over their economic policies, withdraw all experts from African central banks and finance ministries, and compensate African countries for the harm done them and write off their debts.

Such extreme views ought not to go unanswered.

IMF-supported macroeconomic and structural adjustment programs aim at helping countries attain higher growth, lower inflation and improved balance of payments and external debt positions. In most cases, the IMF is called upon for assistance when economic imbalances become very severe and growth has slackened, or even turned negative.

In assisting member countries to develop policies to restore economic health, the IMF is, together with the World Bank, helping them direct public spending away from nonessential or unproductive uses, including excessive military spending, to social, infrastructural and other priority needs. It is only through successful stabilization of their economies and determined structural adjustment – to expand supply capacities – that countries will eventually generate resources to promote development and reduce poverty, strengthen debt-servicing capacities and withstand external shocks.

Because the IMF is fully aware that adjustment policies may have temporary adverse effects on some of the poor, it is helping countries design social safety nets and otherwise formulate targeted social programs to assist the poor during periods of adjustment. It takes great care to tailor its macroeconomic policy advice to the individual needs and circumstances of each member country. At the request of several African member countries, the IMF has assigned a small number of resident representatives and technical experts in specific areas.

The IMF currently has committed more than $4 billion under its concessional loan facilities to 30 African countries. Writing off IMF loans to African countries would be counterproductive. IMF loans are drawn from a limited revolving pool of funds, and are made available temporarily to countries in balance of payments needs. If loans were written off, the pool would contract, with the risk of depriving other countries in need – many in Africa – of IMF financing.

I certainly share Mr. Sunmonu’s disappointment at the slow and uneven pace of economic progress in Africa. While those countries with records of determined implementation of strong reform policies have shown progress on growth and inflation, there is still indeed a long way to go. Far too many of the countries that have embarked on programs of economic correction have let them slip at the first hurdle.

MAMOUDOU TOURE,

Director.

African Department.

International Monetary Fund.

Washington.

Director

Source

World Bank pushes Malawi agriculture privatisation

April 5 2004

The World Bank is demanding the privatisation of the Malawian agricultural marketing board as a condition of its latest structural adjustment loan. The way the Bank has manoeuvred to persuade Malawi’s parliament to accept this shows the limits of ‘country ownership’. It also demonstrates key weaknesses in one of the World Bank and IMF’s new tools, Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) studies which are supposed to outline likely consequences of key reforms so as to enable a better debate on policy design. A Malawian civil society campaign coalition which has mobilised against these planned reforms expressed its concern with how the World Bank and other donors have pushed their agenda on this issue “at the expense of the food security of the poor”.

The privatisation of the state marketing board in Malawi (ADMARC) has been an objective of the World Bank for 10 years. It represents a central element in an approach to agriculture that holds that full liberalisation of the sector will be best for poor women and men. This approach has been increasingly questioned in Malawi and other countries in the region, particularly in the context of the recent food crisis. Many commentators believe the full liberalisation of other elements of the agriculture sector under Bank and Fund advice was a major cause of the food crisis and the subsequent deaths in 2002.

Because of the controversy over the proposed reforms, including studies by civil society groups, the Bank agreed to commission a Poverty and Social Impact Analysis. This research showed that ADMARC’s important role in supporting the lives of poor women and men would be destroyed by privatisation. But, presumably embarrassed by the results, the Bank delayed publication of the study for two years, withholding it until just after the Malawian parliament had agreed to the reforms.

In late December 2003 legislation was rushed through a special parliamentary session turning ADMARC into a limited company, the first stage in the privatisation process. This session was boycotted by many MPs, partly because they had already expressed opposition to the privatisation of ADMARC in two previous hearings. Civil society campaigners expressed concern that ADMARC privatisation was being “used as a carrot for grants and loans”. This was borne out by the Bank’s response to the parliamentary vote, a February announcement of a new $50 million structural adjustment credit with the privatisation of ADMARC as one of its conditions.

The civil society and official impact analysis studies agreed that ADMARC is clearly in need of reform, but demonstrate that it plays a vital social role in ensuring market access for the rural poor by running subsidised markets country-wide. These markets would close under privatisation and the small and weak private sector would be unlikely to fill this gap, leaving a dangerous vacuum in service provision that directly threatens people’s livelihoods.

Civil society groups have mobilised to publicise these issues, with a major campaign during 2002 against the privatisation of ADMARC. An active media campaign resulted in a series of high-profile national debates. Parliament was closely involved, and in particular the Agriculture committee which carried out its own analysis showing the harm that privatisation would cause to the poorest.

The decision-making process and its outcome are being declared unacceptable by Malawian civil society groups. They are “demanding that any conditionality regarding ADMARC is immediately removed from the new loan” and encouraging civil society groups in other countries to take action in their support. Groups pushing the Bank to conduct Poverty and Social Impact Analyses will also need to ensure far greater control over the process of commissioning, reviewing and disseminating such studies, to ensure that they enrich debate rather than sit on shelves until the World Bank or IMF browbeat parliamentarians to accept their agendas.

Source

A few years back it was well known what was going on.

50 Years is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice

50 Years Org

Had a Call to Action for Mobilization
in Washington, DC

Reasons being:

For six decades, the World Bank and IMF have imposed policies, programs, and projects that:

  • Decimate women’s rights and devastate their lives, their families, and their communities;
  • Subjugate democratic governance and accountability to corporate profits and investment portfolios;
  • Trap countries in a cycle of indebtedness and economic domination;
  • Force governments to privatize essential services;
  • Put profits before peoples’ rights and needs;
  • Abet the devastation of the environment in the name of development and profit;
  • Institutionalize the domination of the wealthy over the impoverished – the new form of colonialism; and
  • Facilitate corporate agendas through the economic re-structuring of countries enduring conflict and occupation, such as East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In the 60th anniversary year of the IMF and World Bank, we demand the following measures from the institutions and the governments which control them. Add your voice, endorse the demands:

  • Open all World Bank and IMF meetings to the media and the public;
  • Cancel all impoverished country debt to the World Bank and IMF, using the institutions’ own resources;
  • End all World Bank and IMF policies that hinder people’s access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and right to organize. (Such “structural adjustment” policies include user fees, privatization, and economic austerity programs.);
  • Stop all World Bank support for socially and environmentally destructive projects such as oil, gas, and mining activities, and all support for projects such as dams that include forced relocation of people.

We furthermore recognize the urgency of the world’s most catastrophic health crisis, the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We assert the culpability of the international financial institutions in decimating health care systems of Global South countries, and reject the approach of fighting the pandemic with more loans and conditions from these institutions. We call on the world’s governments to best deploy their resources by fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We demand the elimination of trade rules that undermine access to affordable life-saving medications.

Help end global economic injustice driven by the policies and programs of the international financial institutions!

A few Projects Related to Pollution

1. Guinea

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Northern Guinea

The Project aims to reduce occupational health and environmental hazards of artisanal (small-scale) gold mining communities in northern Guinea. The total population of the area covered by the project is estimated at 150,000 of which over 40,000 people are involved every year in gold mining activities. The unregulated burning of mercury amalgam is the primary method for gold extraction. It is widely reported that this method yields 1 kg of gold for every 1.3 kg of mercury employed.

2. Guinea

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Conakry, the capital, is a bustling, colorful and vibrant city of about 2 million struggling with the side effect of urbanization—pollution.
The lack of sewage and water treatment directly impacts human health in the city. Only a fraction of households, primarily in the wealthiest neighborhoods, have reliable access to running water at all, while well water is contaminated by bacteria and parasites. The city has no wastewater treatment facilities, and only 8% of households are connected to a piped municipal sewage system. The overwhelming majority of households have only basic latrines; in better homes, the floor is tiled and the hole is deep. As a result, diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, cholera, and meningitis run rampant.

Major Environmental Concerns

 Air Pollution – From leaded gasoline, automobile exhaust, traffic jams and old cars. Also from fuel sources: charcoal, plastic bags and tires used to cook, and the burning of garbage. Leads to elevated cases of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

 Water pollution – Lack of sanitation services pollutes coastal marine ecosystem, contaminates food supply , increases instance of waterborne diseases (malaria, diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, skin diseases, cholera, meningitis), and renders water undrinkable.

 Lack of Infrastructure and Public Services – Residential and commercial garbage collection is just beginning to be put into place. No waste water treatment plant exists, although plans are afoot to install a sewage treatment facility in the western part of town. Human waste, when collected, is disposed of directly into the ocean or local dump.

3. Guinea

PCB Clean-up and Removal

Abandoned PCB capacitors from France, England, Germany and the US have contaminated approximately 3 acres in the center of Conakry. There have been significant observed impacts on human health and the environment because the water is entirely saturated with PCB waste. The black PCB oil runs directly through the site into a shallow channel that empties into the ocean. The site is within 100 yards of a village that relies on the water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

4. Mozambique

Center for Environmental Research and Advocacy

The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, lies on Maputo Bay. City residents rely on considerable amounts of fishery resources, both for consumption and economic reasons. Maputo Bay beaches also serve many residents and tourists as a leisure spot throughout the year. Yet despite its beauty, there is growing evidence that the waters inside the bay are polluted by untreated sewage coming from new developments in the city that are not connected to the existing sewage and drainage facility and water treatment plant.Groundwater contamination from pit latrines and storm water effluent is polluting the bay to the extent that swimming is inadvisable in all but the most distant areas of the bay. The Ministry of Health tests fecal coliform levels regularly, and there is a general ban on the consumption of shellfish from the bay.

5. Mozambique

Environmental Journalists Group

Although pollution from industry, automobiles and domestic waste continue to adversely affect the quality of life in Maputo and in Mozambique in general, the majority of the population lacks education and awareness of pollution issues and their relation to human health. A lack of public debate on the subject means a general lack of pressure on relevant institutions to act where human health is threatened by pollution contamination. The media, and especially the radio, is an important source of environmental information and education due to national coverage and transmission in local languages.

6. Mozambique

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Manica, Mozambique

This project seeks to contribute to the reduction of occupational health hazards of small-scale gold miners in the Manica District of Mozambique by promoting the use of mercury retorts, while at the same time leading to overall reduction of environmental degradation in the region. Manica is a district of Mozambique in the Manica Province with a population of 155,731 people. Manica District borders with the Republic of Zimbabwe in the west, the District of Gondola in the east, the District of Barué to the north through the Pungué River, and the District of Sussundenga in the south, which is bounded by the Revué and Zonué Rivers. In the Manica District of Mozambique, more than 10,000 people are directly and indirectly involved in artisanal (small-scale) gold mining activities (garimpagem) as their main source of income.

7. Mozambique

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Mozambique, like many other developing countries, uses leaded gasoline. While the adverse health effects of lead have been well-documented and many of the world’s countries have either completely phased out use of leaded gasoline or lowered lead concentrations, Africa remains as a bastion of leaded gasoline use. The primary lead exposure pathway is via airborne lead and lead in dust and soil. In congested urban areas vehicle exhaust from leaded gasoline accounts for some 90 percent of airborne lead pollution.

8. Senegal

AfricaClean

Air pollution in Dakar, the capital, is a source of concern for local authorities. Large quantities of atmospheric pollutants emitted by vehicles are starting to pose serious environmental and public health problems, especially for the most vulnerable population (children, pregnant women, people suffering from diseases and respiratory complications such as: tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancers, bronchitis, asthmas, and allergies). Common pollutants emitted are: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and suspended particles.

9. Senegal

Baia de Hanne, Senegal

This project takes the first steps to initiate the clean up of the most polluted region of Senegal – Hann Bay. The bay wraps around the industrial zone of the city of Dakar, Senegal. It is highly populated area, with local residents bathing in the water, and numerous fishing boats along the crowded shore. Industrial pollution along the banks from 1968 – 1997 has rendered the bay exceedingly toxic. This work will fund and support a group both within the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Environment to create a credible implementation plan that will install an industrial waste treatment plan for the factories of the Hann region. Once the effluent treatment plant is in operation, work can begin to remediate legacy contamination from historical toxins.

10. Swaziland

Bulembu Legacy Asbestos Mines

Havelock is a town on the northwest border of Swaziland and is home to one of the world’s largest asbestos mines, which is now closed. The town and mine are dominated by Bulembu, Swaziland’s highest peak. The asbestos mine in Bulembu operated from 1939 to 2001 and was closed without rehabilitation of the environment. The mine dumpsite has contaminated the Nkomazi River and poses a grave contamination risk to the multi-million dollar Maguga dam, which is about ten kilometers away. Huge fiber-rich dumps dwarf the school, which is less than 200 meters from the old mill.

11. Tanzania

ENVIPRO

EnviPro is an environmental engineering NGO working on a project in the neighborhood of Vingunguti, in Dar es Salaam, to manage waste effluent from Vingunguti Abattoir, a local slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse is dumping waste directly into the Msimbazi River, posing a significant health risk to residents of Dar es Salaam and surrounding areas, and EnviPro has designed a plan to install a wastewater treatment program for the plant.

12. Tanzania

Environmental Management Trust

Mikocheni, a neighborhood in Dar es Salaam, is home to four heavily polluted streams that run directly into the Indian Ocean. Untreated industrial and domestic waste is dumped into the waterways upstream, or into storm drains. Environmental Management Trust (EMT) is undertaking a project to monitor and stop this pollution of marine habitats and breaches. The project goals are to make wastewater treatment mandatory for all polluting industries, to stop residential houses from releasing waste from septic tanks into streams, and to ensure that sewers, storm drains and pumping stations are properly maintained to prevent leaks into the stream.

13. Tanzania

Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out, Tanzania

The government of Tanzania has developed a leaded gas phase-out action plan and it was discussed at a national stakeholders’ meeting in Dar es Salaam in September, 2003. The country’s planned phase-out of leaded gasoline is part of a larger initiative to ban the use of leaded gasoline in Sub Saharan Africa, as stated in the Dakar Declaration of 2001.

14. Tanzania

Msimbazi River Action Network

The Msimbazi River flows across a third of Dar es Salaam City and eventually discharges into the Indian Ocean. The river is an important water resource for residents of some of Dar es Salaam’s poorest neighborhoods. Residents use the water in various ways – for drinking, bathing, support for agriculture and industry, and as an environmental buffer. Nevertheless, many industries continue to pour unwanted end products from human and industrial activity into the river, threatening most of its functional benefits, and even its usefulness as an irrigation source.

The Msimbazi River Action Network (MRAN) brings together current Blacksmith partners (EMT, Envipro and LEAT) in an effort to organize clean-up and oversight activities focused on the Msimbazi River in Dar es Salaam. This network connects community and government representatives with the aim of minimizing industrial and domestic pollution sources on the river, and to protect the over 100,000 people living on the river from heavy metal contamination as well as deadly diseases such as cholera.

15. Tanzania

Pollution Prevention in Lake Victoria

The Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) works in Mwanza and surrounding regions with community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the Mwanza City Council to identify problems and educate both polluters and victims of pollution about environmental laws. LEAT also conducts public interest litigation to force the cessation of polluting activities by both local factories and Mwanza City authorities. And LEAT works with surrounding towns and villages affected by polluting industries. Village and municipal leaders and residents have been educated about existing environmental laws used to combat environmental pollution, and they have been briefed on the Village Land Act of 1999 which stipulates rights of villagers regarding their land and other natural resource laws.

16. Zambia

Advocacy and Restoration of the Environment

Zambia is a land-locked country in Central/Southern Africa with a population of about 10 million people. About 1.25 million people inhabit the capital, Lusaka, with another 2 million in the northern Copperbelt region. Major pollution-related problems are due to mining and industrial waste. In 2001, Blacksmith Institute helped to found ARE, an NGO focusing on a heavily polluted industrial area on the Kafue River. The Kafue River, part of the Zambezi basin, is a source of potable water for over forty percent of Zambia’s population. It is also host to wildlife and birds. For decades, industries such as copper mines, metallurgical plants, textile plants, fertilizer factories, sugar processing plants, cement factories, various agricultural activities, and the Kafue Sewage Treatment Plant (KSTP) have polluted the river. Mineral deposits, chemicals, and suspended solids have led to overgrowth of aquatic weeds, choking river life. The continuous discharge of raw sewage into the Kafue River from the KSTP has contributed to the steady supply of nutrients (ortho-phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, etc.) ensuring the proliferation of various types of weeds, like the Salvina molesta, thereby causing eutrophication. Both aquatic life and human health are in danger. High incidences of environmentally mediated disease, such as gastro-enteritis, intestinal worms, and diarrhea diseases mostly in children have been reported from communities around the river and have been linked to drinking water from certain parts of the river. The raw sewer pollution of Kafue River could inadvertently lead to outbreaks of epidemics like cholera.

Bata Tannery uses various chemicals in tanning animal skins. Amongst these chemicals is chromium sulfate, which can easily be converted to either hexavalent or trivalent chromium. The effect of these chemicals on human and aquatic life is potentially lethal. Equally, the yeast production from Lee Yeast results in high concentrations of both chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater. The net effect is the reduction in the river system’s oxygen concentration, leading to toxic anaerobic conditions.

17. Zambia

Kabwe Environmental Rehabilitation Foundation

For almost a century, Kabwe, a city of 300,000 in Zambia, has been highly contaminated with lead from a government-owned lead mine and smelter, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). Although the mine has been closed since 1994, residents continue to get sick and die from the contamination due to a lack of cleanup efforts on the part of the company and the government.

Lead is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to humans. When breathed in, lead directly attacks the central nervous system. It is particularly damaging to infants and children, and can cross the mother’s placenta, putting unborn and nursing infants at risk. Yet, remarkably, the citizens of Kabwe have until recently been completely unaware that they are living in one of the most poisoned cities on earth. Blacksmith founded a local NGO, Kabwe Environmental and Rehabilitation Foundation (KERF), that has been bringing educational services to the community on how to limit exposure to lead, and nursing support for those who are ill.

18. Zambia

Kabwe Lead Mines

Kabwe, the second largest city in Zambia with a population of 300,000, is located about 130km north of the nation’s capital, Lusaka. It is one of six towns situated around the Copperbelt, once Zambia’s thriving industrial base. In 1902, rich deposits of potentially dangerous lead were discovered in the mine and smelter located in the center of the town. Ore veins with lead concentrations as high as 20 percent have been mined deep into the earth and a smelting operation was set up to process the ore. Mining and smelting operations were running almost continuously up until 1994 without the government addressing the potential danger of lead. The mine and smelter, owned by the now privatized Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines, is no longer operating but has left a city with poison and toxicity from deadly concentrations of lead in the soil and water.

During the operation there were no pollution laws regulating emissions from the mine and smelter plant. In turn, air, soil, and vegetation were all subjected to contamination, and ultimately, over some decades, millions of human lives were also affected. Some recent findings reveal the extent to which one of the most potent neurotoxins to man, lead, has affected the health of Kabwe citizens. In the U.S., normal blood levels of lead are less than10 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter). Symptoms of acute poisoning occur at blood levels of 20 and above, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and leading to muscle spasms and kidney damage. Levels of over ten are considered unhealthy and levels in excess of 120 can often lead to death. In Kabwe, blood concentrations of 300 micrograms/deciliter have been recorded in children and records show average blood levels of children range between 60 and 120 mcg/dl.

Children that play in the soil and young men that scavenge the mines for scraps of metal are most susceptible to lead produced by the mine and smelter. A small waterway runs from the mine to the center of town and had been used to carry waste from the once active smelter. There is no restriction to the waterway, and in some instances local children use it for bathing. In addition to water, dry and dusty backyards of workers’ houses are a significant source of contamination for the locals. One of the most common ways that workers and residents become exposed to toxic levels of lead is through inhalation of contaminated soil ingested through the lungs.

19. Zambia

Maamba Coal Mines

The only coal mine in Zambia is located in Maamba where coal is extracted by open-pit quarrying. Since 1967 coal has been continuously produced by the Maamba Collieries in Southern Zambia near Lake Kariba. Although it has a production capacity of one million tons of coal per year, actual production is less than half this capacity.

Related ArticlesHow the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

 

Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

The most recent victims of IMF and World Bank because of the Financial Crisis.

World Bank lends to Bulgaria to tackle poverty, jobless

Ukraine may borrow $2 bln from World Bank

Hungary’s Letter of Intent to the IMF

Serbia seeks new IMF deal

IMF approves $16.5 billion Ukraine loan

Big deficits may force Turkey towards IMF

Iceland lifts interest rates to record 18% to secure IMF $2bn loan

And this Happened in India

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

(Jamaica) IMF decimating one country after another

Once in debt you are their slaves. They go in destroy the agriculture and make your country depend on their subsidised food imports. What happens if they decide not to provide the food? Mass famine or should I say mass depopulation.

Added November 3 2009

Life and Debt is a feature-length documentary which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica.

Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.

4 Videos detailing the problems

Cause and affect.

Network Platform & Demands to the IMF and World Bank at 50 years is enough

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

By Barry Mason
November 5 2008
Aid charities and the United Nations estimate that 5 million people in Zimbabwe, half the population, face starvation.

A USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) alert issued September 24 warned of insufficient cereal imports. It stated, “Zimbabwe could face a critical shortage or exhaustion of cereals as early as the first week of November… The current in-country supply of agricultural inputs for the upcoming planting season is insufficient… Late planting could aggravate the impact of forecast below-normal rainfall in the second half of the season (January-March 2009) in the country’s main crop producing regions, increasing the potential for a poor harvest and the continued need for imports in 2009.”

A Christian Aid press release on October 14 emphasised the stark social conditions facing millions in Zimbabwe. The dire statistics indicate that “over 85 percent of the population is unemployed, 90 percent are living on less than £1 a day and 15 percent of adults are living with HIV with some 3,500 dying every week of related diseases… (Zimbabwe) has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 years for men and 32 years for women.”

Speaking to the BBC News web site at the beginning of October, John Holmes, the United Nations humanitarian chief, described the situation as grave and deteriorating:

“Planting season for the next harvest starts in five or six weeks’ time, at least for maize, and there is a massive shortage of seeds and fertilizers in the country because of the economic situation…

“We’re looking to see whether we can accelerate even at this late stage and get some of those seeds and fertilizers and other imports into the hands of small farmers.”

An October 17 Africa Confidential newsletter quoted a senior UN World Food Programme (WFP) official describing the situation as “very, very bad,” noting that the next harvest was six months away. Africa Confidential continued, “The WFP reckons that 28 percent of children under five are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. Many rural families get one meal a day—typically sadza, maize-meal with no protein… The hungriest fill their stomachs with umtopi, baobab (tree) roots pounded into a paste.”

The article noted research by Professor Ian Scoones of Sussex University who showed that whilst it is small farmers on communal land who provide most of the food in rural areas, their productivity has been greatly reduced following several successive droughts and their inability to afford fertilizer, etc., to improve their land.

An October 24 article in the Times of London reported on the eastern province of Manicaland. The reporter said she found “a country whose reserves of food are exhausted and where the diseases of hunger—kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra—are appearing to a degree never seen in the country before.”

The Times described emaciated children dying in hospital. Greg Powell, chairman of the Zimbabwe Child Protection Society, said, “In the 32 years I have worked in Zimbabwe as a paediatrician I have never known a more serious situation. We can predict an exponential increase in cases of kwashiorkor and malnutrition over the next six months.”

Geoff Foster, a paediatrician at Mutare hospital, said, “Malnutrition is a silent emergency that affects young children… There is a famine situation prevailing and it is desperate.”

The threat of a cholera epidemic is also mounting. A UN IRIN news report carried by Reuters on October 20 stated there have been 120 deaths so far due to cholera, with most being in the Mashonaland Central province. The report blamed the collapse of health and municipal services, lack of potable water and no rubbish collection or proper sanitation system. People had to resort to digging shallow wells to obtain water, but these often became polluted by sewerage spills.

The report added: “The state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has pumped raw sewerage into Lake Chivero, one of the reservoirs providing Harare with water; residents with access to piped water often have to contend with a smelly greenish discharge from their taps.”

An Inter Press Service article carried on AllAfrica.com October 16 quoted a statement released by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA). It said: “The water and sewer management problems have seen some residential areas going for years, months and weeks without water and unattended sewer bursts respectively. The shortage of water dictates that residents fetch water from unprotected sources, thus diseases like cholera breed easily. CHRA has so far received countless cases of cholera and diarrhoea.”

A US GMA television news report of October 30 reported one person in Harare has died from cholera and 20 other people had succumbed to the disease. It quoted one resident of Eastern Harare who said that his neighbourhood had been without piped water for a year and described how the smell and smoke from the burning of uncollected rubbish was making people ill. People had to resort to digging their own wells, but he was concerned that “When the rains come all the filth will flow into our well.”

The dire social and economic situation is being exacerbated by the ongoing deadlock over the power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe is intent on controlling the important ministries, thus sidelining the MDC. The talks have been brokered by Thabo Mbeki, but his loss of the South African presidency has rendered him politically impotent.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for a larger regional summit to try to reach a deal.

Source