Sunday, September 26, 2010

FYI: GMOs that drink your blood

Below the fold, a letter from Pesticide Action Network Asia/Pacific on the application by the Malasian Institute for Medical Research to release GM mosquitoes into the wild.
We refer to the public announcement by the National Biosafety Board of Malaysia about the application by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) for the release of genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Pahang and Melaka (referred to as Living Modified Organisms or LMOs of the OX513A strain) (Reference No. NRE(S) 609-2/1). We have serious concerns and objections.
First of all, there is a lack of transparency and information about the genes involved in the genetic engineering of the mosquito. For example, how is this male LMO ‘created’? Is there not the risk of a margin of error that might allow female LMOs to be selected in the process? What are the sources of the molecular marker and the ‘lethal’ gene that will make the offspring of the LMO and a female Aedes aegypti die? This is very critical.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

GOP ‘Pledge To America’ Is An Oath To Big Oil

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund.
House Republicans just released “A Pledge to America,” its agenda for the 112th Congress if they take charge. The Republicans claim that their document — written byformer Exxon lobbyist Brian Wild — is “one in which the people have the most say and the best ideas trump the most entrenched interests.” When it comes to energy policy, the GOP leaders actually ignore public opinion, ignore science, and instead promote the same old ideas flogged by big oil lobbyists and other energy interests. The entire Republican energy policy is a single sentence:
We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national “cap and trade” energy tax.


 As the Huffington Post's Sam Stein revealed yesterday, the GOP's new "Pledge to America" was directed by a staffer named Brian Wild who, until early this year, was a lobbyist at a prominent D.C. firm that lobbied on behalf of corporate giants like Exxon. Moreover, the insurance industry is the leading contributor to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican who led the effort. "Instead of a pledge to the American people, Congressional Republicans made a pledge to the big special interests to restore the same economic ideas that benefited them at the expense of middle-class families," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer argues. Consistent with itsdesire to placate lobbyists, the pledge omits any mention of a key Republican mantra: a ban on earmarks. When it comes to energy policy, the GOP leaders ignore public opinion and science, instead promoting the same old ideas flogged by Big Oil lobbyists and other energy interests: more oil drilling ("increase access to domestic energy sources") while disregarding pollution ("oppose attempts to impose a national 'cap and trade' energy tax"). The GOP pledge would also halt clean energy investments made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and block new safety, health and environmental rules. "Rather than listening to the American people, the pledge listens to polluter lobbyists," describes Center for American Progress Action Fund senior fellow Daniel J. Weiss.

The Scam On America

With great fanfare, House Republicans unveiled their "Pledge to America" yesterday, a document comprised primarily of attacks on legislation passed under President Obama. "The 45-page booklet explaining the Pledge contains archaic fonts reminiscent of the founding texts," writes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. "Yet for all the grandiosity, the document they released is small in its ambition." Further investigation of the final release -- once the attacks on an "arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites" and the full-color photographs of the House Republican elite are overlooked -- reveals that the "2010 Republican Agenda" is little more than a re-affirmation of the "Party of No."Yesterday's Progress Report noted that the entire economic platform of the pledge is a return to Bush's tax cuts and spending levels, the failed policies that brought us the worst recession since the Great Depression. The promised combination of regressive tax cuts, deficit reduction, and new spending in the Pledge is "fuzzy Washington math," charges Newsweek's Ben Adler. Energy policy is dispatched in one sentence. The Republican plan on health care is to replace the Affordable Care Act with provisions from the Affordable Care Act. "The Pledge to America should have been called the Scam on America because it does nothing to help Americans," writes the Examiner's Maryann Tobin, "unless of course they are CEOs of big oil companies, drug companies, or Wall Street bankers." Conservatives found the document risible as well. "It is a series ofcompromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama," charged right-wing blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson. "We're not going to be any different than what we've been," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said at the Pledge's revealing. "It's not even a sequel!" the Daily Show's Jon Stewart responded. "It's like a shot-by-shot remake."

Is The New GOP ‘Pledge’ A Way To Bring Ryan’s Radical Budget Plans In Through The Backdoor?

Today, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” a document styled after 1994’s Contract with America that the GOP claims is “an outline of the party’s targetsin the final weeks of the legislative session.” We’ve already explained how the Pledge promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with portions of the Affordable Care Act and how it represents a blood oath to Big Oil, so let’s turn to another aspect: its effect on the deficit.

Of course, the Pledge includes a promise to extend all of the Bush tax cuts — including those for the richest two percent of Americans — for a total price tag of $4 trillion over the next decade, while laying out spending cuts that, even if the numbers are taken at face value, don’t come close to covering that cost. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — the ranking member of the House Budget Committee — to explain how the GOP can square its desire for huge, regressive tax cuts with its supposed commitment to deficit reduction:

Cost of War: you can play with the numbers: Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ProPublica is reporting more private contractors than soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months. This marks the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields. More than 250 civilians working under US contracts died in the war zones between January and June. In the same period, 235 soldiers died. George Washington University Law School Professor Steven Schooner said, “It’s extremely likely that a generation ago, each one of these contractors’ deaths would have been a military death. As troop deaths have fallen, contractor deaths have risen. It’s not a pretty picture.”

At UN Summit, Brazil Criticizes US Invasion of Iraq

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim spoke at the UN and openly criticized the US invasion of Iraq.

Celso Amorim: "When President Lula first spoke in this hall in 2003, the world lived under the shadow of the invasion of Iraq. We hope that we learned the lessons from that episode. The blind faith in intelligence reports tailored to justify political goals must be rejected. We must ban, once and for all, the use of force inconsistent with international law."

Democrats Put Off Vote on Repealing Bush Tax Cuts

If the tea party/GOP is the party of "no" then the democrats are the party of "no, not now":

Democrats Put Off Vote on Repealing Bush Tax Cuts Senate Democrats have put off a vote on whether to extend President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy until after the midterm election. President Obama and his Democratic allies have proposed extending the cuts for two years, but not for households earning over $250,000 a year. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, regardless of income.

Muslim Workers Face Increasing Employment Discrimination

The New York Times reports a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination. Federal data reports the number of complaints filed jumped 60 percent between 2005 and 2009. And the number of complaints filed in 2010 are expected to be even higher. Although Muslims make up less than two percent of the US population, they now account for about one-quarter of the religious discrimination claims filed. Mary Jo O’Neill of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said, “There’s a level of hatred and animosity that is shocking. I’ve been doing this for 31 years, and I’ve never seen such antipathy toward Muslim workers." Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the meatpacking company JBS Swift on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants, saying supervisors and workers had cursed them for being Muslim; thrown blood, meat and bones at them; and interrupted their prayer breaks.

Pakistani Scientist Sentenced to 86 Years in US Prison

A US judge has sentenced Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui to eighty-six years in prison for shooting at her American interrogators while in detention in Afghanistan. Her conviction and sentencing has been widely criticized in Pakistan, where Siddiqui is believed to have been innocent and mistreated in US detention. US authorities said Siddiqui was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, but many human rights groups have alleged that Siddiqui was forcibly disappeared by Pakistani authorities in 2003 and interrogated and tortured at the behest of the United States. In her testimony, Siddiqui claimed to have been held in a US secret prison. In Pakistan, Aafia Siddiqui’s sister Fauzia criticized the eighty-six-year sentence.

Fauzia Siddiqui: "We had no better expectations from this judge. I mean, anything less than a hundred would be clemency on his part, I would say. He has proven—he has proven today to the whole world that the American justice system, the American justice system that America used to pride on, no longer exists."

Tea Party Backer David Koch Becomes Wealthiest New Yorker

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is no longer the wealthiest New Yorker according to Forbes Magazine. Tea party backer David Koch is now number one after his income soared from $16 billion to $21.5 billion in 2009. The New Yorker magazine recently revealed that David Koch and his brother Charles have quietly helped bankroll the tea party movement and dozens of other right-wing causes. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported the Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Obama edges to the dark side

In possibly the most dramatic mea culpa in Presidential history, Bill Clinton, newly appointed as UN Special Envoy for Haiti, admitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US policy of compelling poor developing countries to buy US agricultural products at subsidised prices, which destroyed local agricultural sectors, was a disaster.
“I did that. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did. Nobody else."
For where Clinton helped lay the groundwork for the re-militarisation of America's political and economic systems through his uncritical embrace of neoliberalism (which, despite the "liberal" in the label, inevitably leads to neoconservatism and war), Obama, with the greatest of care and deliberation, is heading to the 'dark side' that the millions of Americans who voted for him did so with the justified expectation that he'd avoid.
Politics of insanity?
The warning signs that President Obama's trajectory would depart from his campaign rhetoric were clear from the beginning. Like when the newly minted President chose for his senior economic advisor's men like Lawrence Summer, Clinton's one time Treasury Secretary, who were responsible for the policies that besides destroying Haiti's rice crop, also enabled a million and one corporate get rich schemes such as the sub-prime mortgage bonanza whose collapse has left the country in its current disastrous condition.

UN holds food talks

The UN is holding a special emergency summit in Rome to calm fears of hunger and unrest because of rising food prices following a series of environmental disasters.
Friday's meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Italian capital is expected to discuss Russia's grain export ban, imposed after a severe heatwave and wildfires devastated fields of crops.
UN officials said Russian grain company executives will be among those attending the summit, the AP news agency reported.
Flooding in Pakistan and China has also ruined wheat crops, adding to the pressure on the market.

In the poorest country in the world, India, he government spends $6 billion on sports

The Commonwealth Games should never have been awarded to India, Australia's Olympic chief has said, pouring more fuel to a controversy sparked by chaotic planning and execution of the event.
John Coates' remarks come as Indian authorities struggle to complete venues, forcing some teams to take up temporary accommodation at hotels.
"I don't think it is a cultural thing. When you agree to host [the Games], you are required to provide the basics in terms of health and hygiene for the athletes," Coates said on Friday.
"The Games shouldn't have been awarded to Delhi in hindsight."
Athletes have complained about dirty accommodation, shoddy construction and security fears.
A portion of false ceiling in the weightlifting venue caved in on Wednesday, a day after the collapse of a footbridge at the main stadium, injuring 27 workers. In another incident, armed men shot and wounded two foreign visitors near a historic mosque in Delhi on Sunday in a suspected terrorist attack.
Scheduled to begin on October 3, the event is expected to cost Indian taxpayers close to $6bn.

Study: Majority of US Tax Breaks, Incentives Benefit the Wealthy

A new study shows that tens of billions of dollars in US government tax breaks and other incentives mostly went to the wealthiest Americans last year. Of nearly $400 billion in spending to spur growth in home ownership, retirement savings, business start-ups and education, more than half benefited the wealthiest five percent of taxpayers. The study was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Corporation for Enterprise Development. The authors conclude: "We can ill afford a federal wealth-building strategy that primarily helps those who are already wealthy."

aid reform...... that's not what we meant

owing Foreign Aid Reform, Obama Pushes Foreign Investment

Earlier in the day, Obama appeared before the UN with a vow to reshape how the US delivers foreign aid. Obama criticized what he called an aid culture of "dependence" and said the US will encourage foreign investment as a means to spur development and sustainability.
President Obama: "Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty. We know that countries are more likely to prosper when they encourage entrepreneurship, when they invest in their infrastructure, when they expand trade and welcome investment. So we will partner with countries like Sierra Leone to create business environments that are attractive to investment."
...dear mr obama please consider:

FAO Chief: Corporate Influence Undermining Development

Obama will again the address the UN with a speech before the General Assembly today. His comments on aid come as the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has said that corporate influence is undermining sustainable development worldwide. Speaking at a farming summit in London, Dr. Samuel Jutzi said, "I have now been twenty years in a multilateral organization which tries to develop guidance and codes for good agricultural practice, but the real, true issues are not being addressed by the political process because of the influence of lobbyists, of the true powerful entities."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Change we can never believe in...

The news comes as President Obama fielded questions about his handling of the economy in a televised appearance on the business news network CNBC. Speaking before a Town Hall-style audience, President Obama criticized Republican efforts to maintain the Bush-era tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

President Obama: "What the Republicans are proposing is that we, in addition to that, provide tax relief to primarily millionaires and billionaires. It would cost us $700 billion to do it. On average, millionaires would get a check of $100,000. And, by the way, I would be helped by this, so I just want to be clear. You know, I’m speaking against my own financial interests. This is a—it is an irresponsible thing for us to do."
Obama also took questions from audience members, including a financial executive who said Wall Street has felt vilified by the White House. Obama responded that he thinks a large majority of the population "feels like I’ve been too soft on Wall Street." An audience member who described herself as middle-class said Obama has failed to deliver on his campaign slogan of "change."
Questioner: "I’m one of your middle-class Americans, and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet.

Leaders Gather for Poverty Talks at UN: Time for the South to abandon the North

The United Nations has opened a round of talks on pledges to reduce poverty under the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. Over a hundred world leaders are in New York for the sessions, which come as part of the annual General Assembly. On Monday, Bolivian President Evo Morales called for ending what he called Northern domination of the South.

Bolivian President Evo Morales: "If we wish to make progress, it is our obligation to reach the Millennium Development Goals. And in order to reach these goals, the South has to stop financing the North. This millennium should see the closure of the open veins of the South that are bleeding towards the North."
Morales went on to propose the nationalization of natural resources as well as companies that provide basic services and utilities. He also renewed calls for the creation of a "Bank of the South" stretching from the Americas to Asia.
Outside the UN, a group of protesters rallied Monday to call on rich countries to uphold their pledges on combating poverty and funding treatment for HIV/AIDS. In New York’s Times Square, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty unveiled a "Maternal Death Clock" to track maternal mortality during childbirth.
Salil Shetty: "If we don’t have a very strong focus on the poorest people on the planet, the women, indigenous people, the people who are excluded and left behind, we are going to find ourselves in the same situation in 2015, where the averages look good, but the people who need these goals the most—the women, the poorest people—are going to be left out."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fuck Patience

Renewed instability in global food markets requires urgent response – UN expert

7 September 2010 – An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on governments and the international community to promptly tackle the renewed instability of global food markets, noting the related social unrest that has hit some countries in recent weeks.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is convening a special meeting in Rome on 24 September to examine the recent spike in wheat prices and help avoid any repeat of the recent global food crisis.
Wheat prices experienced their biggest monthly rise in almost a year in August, according to the FAO’s Food Price Index, climbing by 5 per cent following persistent drought in Russia – a major producer – and that country’s subsequent restriction on sales.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, called on the Rome meeting to “move beyond words” and prepare measures on speculation and food reserves. He also urged donors to step up their support to poor food-deficit countries.

Iraq and Afghanistan

At Least 56 Killed in Iraq Violence

In Iraq, at least fifty-six people were killed Sunday in a string of attacks. Six car bombings were carried out in Baghdad, and a suicide bomber struck in Fallujah. More than 100 people were wounded. It was Iraq’s worst day of violence since the US declared the nominal end of combat operations earlier this month. 

NATO Bombing Kills 7 in Afghan Village

In other Afghan news, at least seven people were killed in a NATO bombing hours after the polls closed. The US-led NATO force says the victims were Taliban militants, but local residents said at least some, if not all, of the dead were civilians. One man said he had just helped an elderly victim cast his vote in the elections earlier that day.
Villager: "The government asked us to come and vote to put a candidate in parliament, but why are they bombing us? Yesterday I carried this old man to cast his vote, and this is the result: they dropped a bomb on him."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Red Shirts

Thailand's anti-government protestors are back on the streets, and so are armed troops. Here we go again.

September 19 marks the fourth anniversary of the 2006 military coup which saw the prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra removed from power. To mark the occasion his supporters, the red shirts, are once again holding rallies around the country.

Get Your Guns the Poor are Angry

The angry poor

Why Mozambicans took to the streets

FOLLOWING recent riots in Maputo, the capital, and in other cities in Mozambique that have left at least a dozen dead and more than 400 injured, the government has called off a 30% increase in the price of bread. Police said they had to resort to live ammunition against protesters after running out of rubber bullets. The government has apologised, saying it had never authorised the use of lethal force.
Shops and banks were looted, cars stoned and roads barricaded with rocks and burning tyres during three days of alcohol-fuelled rioting that paralysed the capital and shut down the main airport. Nearly 300 demonstrators were arrested, including nine accused of “incitement” for sending out mobile-phone text-messages urging people to join the protests against rising utility, transport and food prices.

Is Mozambique a Success Story?

Just how much of an African success story is Mozambique?
I've spent the past few days travelling around the country, thinking about that question.
On the face of it, the country deserves all the praise it gets. The economy has grown at around eight per cent per annum for 15 years now.
I lived in Mozambique in the early 1990s, and I can see the sometimes dramatic differences between then and now.

Protecting Democracy and its advocates: Supporters Launch International Days of Action for Bradley Manning

Rallies are being held nationwide today in support of the alleged military whistleblower Bradley Manning. An Army intelligence analyst, Manning is being held on charges he leaked classified documents, including a video of a US military helicopter killing a group of innocent Iraqis, as well as thousands of Afghan war logs. The website WikiLeaks published both the video and the war records earlier this year. The Bradley Manning Support Network says it will hold rallies in nineteen cities today as part of a three-day series of events to urge the US government to drop all of Manning’s charges. On Thursday, dozens of people gathered in Oakland, California, to launch the International Days of Action for Bradley Manning. The Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg addressed the crowd.
Daniel Ellsberg: "He is disloyal to the empire and to the emperor, as I have become. And without more Bradley Mannings and people like you who will support him with money in a concrete way and with your support by being here tonight—with more Bradley Mannings, there’s a chance that we will have the democratic constitutional republic we were meant to have, and may sometime be."

Record Number of Americans Below Poverty Line, Uninsured

New figures show the number of Americans living in poverty and lacking health insurance has reached the highest levels on record. According to the Census Bureau, 43.6 million people—about one in seven—lived below the poverty level of $22,000 for a family of four in 2009. It was the largest number since the census began keeping track fifty-one years ago, and an increase of four million people from 2008. The numbers pushed the national poverty rate to a fifteen-year high of 14.3 percent. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the number of people in poverty would have been higher by 3.3 million were it not for unemployment benefits. The number of Americans with incomes less than half the poverty line also hit a record high of nearly 20 million, or 6.3 percent of the population. More than one in five children lived in poverty—one in three for African American children. The number of uninsured Americans meanwhile grew for the first time on record, from 46.3 million people in 2008 to 50.7 million people last year. The proportion of Americans with employment health coverage reached its lowest rate in twenty years, at nearly 56 percen

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Obama unveils infrastructure plan

Barack Obama, the US president, has unveiled an ambitious plan to revamp US transport infrastructure in a bid to kickstart the country's ailing economy ahead of forthcoming mid-term congressional elections.
Obama is expected to face intense pressure over the economy in the run-up to the November 2 election, which could see his Democratic Party lose control of Congress under a barrage of Republican criticism.
The $50 billion plan, which was formally announced by Obama on Monday, outlines improvements to the US road system, an acceleration of high speed rail projects, and establishes a centralised "Infrastructure Bank" to coordinate planning and funding the projects.

It targets rebuilding 240,000 kilometres of roads, adding 6,400 kilometres of rail and replacing 240 kilometres of airport runway. The plan is designed to answer critics who have said the American highway network is in poor condition and to create jobs at a time of high unemployment in the US. Almost one in ten Americans out of work and the economy shedding jobs every month.

Blair Cancels London Book Signing over Antiwar Protests

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has canceled a book signing in London this week over fears of a large turnout from antiwar protesters. Peace groups had vowed to protest Blair as he signed copies of his new memoir at a major London bookstore. Blair has continued to defend the 2003 US-British invasion of Iraq as justified. The cancellation comes just days after three people were arrested for throwing eggs and shoes at Blair as he arrived for a book event in Dublin. Richard Boyd-Barrett of the Irish Anti-War Movement said Blair should be held to account for the consequences of his policies.
Richard Boyd-Barrett: "We’re here to give voice to the victims of Blair’s policies and his wars—the countless tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis who’ve died as a result of the wars he launched and the lies that he told to the world, and indeed the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer at the hands of Israel, where Tony Blair, as the UN Middle East envoy, does nothing to restrain or sanction Israel, in fact gives cover to Israel for its actions."
Peace activists have attempted to disrupt Blair’s book sales with a guerrilla campaign to move copies of his memoir into the "Crime" section of stores where it’s sold. Former President George W. Bush’s memoirs come out in November.

Bahrain Intensifies Crackdown on Opposition, Human Rights Groups

In Bahrain, a government crackdown on opposition and human rights activists has escalated with a new round of arrests. Over the weekend, twenty-three people were detained on charges of plotting the violent overthrow of the Bahraini government. The suspects include prominent members of the Shia opposition as well as human rights activists. As many as 250 people have been arrested in the crackdown in less than a month. Speaking to Democracy Now!, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said he is facing arrest after being publicly named a terrorist in the Bahraini media.
Nabeel Rajab: "It’s getting very dangerous working on documentation of human rights. On a daily basis, you see my picture in the newspaper as a terrorist or supporting terrorism and all that; attacking me on the radio by a program just made an hour, an hour and a half, two hours, accusing us, accusing me of contacting international organization, giving false information to international organization to overthrow the government. If they arrest me, I’m not better than the others. I mean, I know this is also the cost of the work, the human rights work, the documentation, the reporting for international organizations that’s getting the government angry. And this is the cost of our work, and we are willing to pay for it."
Nabeel Rajab went on to discuss the US role in backing the Bahraini government.
Nabeel Rajab: "The] Bahrain government is a friend of the Western countries—and the European and the American. They are very influential in this part of the world. Unfortunately, for the past many years with all these violations against human rights, European Union and the United States government did not play a positive role. There, always economics and the flow of oil were a priority, and the rights of human—the last thing they would talk about [is] the rights of people here."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Warnings against Quran burning plan

US military commanders in Afghanistan have said that a small Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks could endanger the lives of American troops.
Two senior US commanders in Afghanistan said on Monday the proposed burning of the Muslim holy book risked undermining President Barack Obama efforts to reach out to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.
They said it could also trigger retaliation against US forces serving in Afghanistan.
The warnings come amid angry protests by several hundred people in the Afghan capital, Kabul, who chanted "Death to America" as they denounced the planned burning event by the Dove World Outreach Centre church in Gainesville, Florida.
The centre, calling itself a "New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church", says it will go ahead with the torching of the Quran on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 2001 attacks against the US.
Gainesville authorities have said the event will contravene fire safety rules.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," David Petraeus, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement to US media organisations.

And we still cant revolt?

WASHINGTON — Turns out politics, for all its focus on the gloomy economy, is a recession-proof industry.
This year's volatile election is bursting with money, setting fundraising and spending records in a high-stakes struggle for control of Congress amid looser but still fuzzy campaign finance rules.
Based on the latest financial reports, House and Senate candidates in this election cycle raised nearly $1.2 billion, well ahead of the pace for contests in 2008, 2006 and 2004.

Ecological Debt and African Conflict

A recent bbc article discuses a published study claiming that "climate change is not responsible for civil wars in Africa". The mentioned study "challenges previous assumptions that environmental disasters, such as drought and prolonged heat waves, had played a part in triggering unrest. Instead, the study says that "traditional factors - such as poverty and social tensions - were often the main factors behind the outbreak of conflicts."  Now maybe there is no need to seperate these factors. Maybe the "climate changes" responsibly and "poverty" and social tentions are more related then this article, and the study, give credit to. I would make reference to another study: The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities

Ecology of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is an elusive place. You won't find it on maps, there are hardly any guide books and there are certainly no signs.
But out of the Valley have come ideas and inventions that have changed our world. The region has spawned an endless list of successful companies like Intel, Facebook and Apple, creating vast wealth and thousands of jobs in the process.
In a rather laidback Californian way, the place crackles with enterprise.
If there's one address that defines the things that happen in Silicon Valley, it's 165 University Avenue, a low-rise office building in the town of Palo Alto that has been rented - and outgrown - by tech giants like Google, PayPal and Logitech.

Direct talks ... let the countdown begin

Spend as much time in the Middle East following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as I have over the years and you begin to notice a sad pattern.
The two-state solution based on the Israeli-Palestinian equation of 'land for peace' has brought neither land nor peace but violence.
Now that the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians have begun, so too, many are afraid, has something else: the countdown to the next round of violence in the region.
God forbid it happens. Those of us who live in this part of the world know how much of a human toll this conflict has taken on the people of the region.

But there is a truth that must be said, and while most in the media, particularly the Western media, have failed to mention it, the reality of the violence that follows the failure of such talks always looms present.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rim Banna - Sarah

Sarah Sarai was taking her first steps on the soil of Palestine
And her laugh was covering, covering the sky of Palestine

The sniper took her by surprise with a shot in the head, in Sarah's little head

Take the blindfold off of Sarah's eyes so she can see the face of her killer

ريم بنا – سارة

كانت سارة ساراي تدرج أولى خطواتها على تراب فلسطين
وكانت ضحكتها تغطي تغطي سماء فلستطين
غافلها القناص بطلقة في الراس في رأس سارة الصغير
سارة ساراي

ارفع العصبة عن عيون سارة حتى ترى وجه قاتلها

This time Sodexo caves and signs Fair Food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Danny Glover arrested at SEIU protest against Sodexo, 4-2010
In April 2010 SEIU mounted a labor protest against Sodexo that gained considerable press coverage with celebrities including Holly Near and Danny Glover involved in the protest. Fast forward to August and Sodexo was clearly not interested in more bad press.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers--August 23, 2010
Saying, "Sodexo is committed to protecting and upholding the rights of all workers, whether employed directly by us or by our business partners and suppliers,” Arlin Wasserman, Sodexo vice president for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, announced today that his company has signed an agreement to work with the CIW to improve wages and working conditions in the fields of its Florida tomato suppliers.

The Right to food

Crooks and Liars have observed this typically dry press release from the United Nations. The short of it is that there was a vote on the right to food at the UN. In favour – 180 countries. Against: The United States.
Seriously. And in a related vote on the right to development, 177 countries voted for. Against: The United States. Abstaining: Canada, Israel.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Food Rebellions: Mozambicans Know Which Way the Wind Blows

It has been a summer of record temperatures – Japan had its hottest summer on record.[1] Same with South Florida and New York.[2] Meanwhile, Pakistan and Niger are flooded, and the Eastern US is mopping up after Hurricane Earl. None of these individual events can definitively be attributed to global warming, as any climatologist will tell you. But to see how climate change will play out in the twenty-first century, you needn’t look to the Met Office. Look instead to the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique’s ‘food riots’ to see what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with our unjust social and economic systems.
The immediate causes of the protests and in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and Chimoio about 500 miles north, are a 30-percent price increase for bread, compounding a recent double-digit increase for water and energy.[3] When nearly three quarters of the household budget is spent on food, that’s a hike few Mozambicans can afford. So far, the death toll hovers around ten, including two children. The police claim that they had to use live ammunition against protesters because ‘they ran out of rubber bullets’.[4]

Violent Resistance to Nazis

Nazi-sponsored persecution and mass murder fueled resistance to the Germans in the Third Reich itself and throughout occupied Europe. Although Jews were the Nazis' primary victims, they too resisted Nazi oppression in a variety of ways, both collectively and as individuals.
Organized armed resistance was the most forceful form of Jewish opposition to Nazi policies in German-occupied Europe. Jewish civilians offered armed resistance in over 100 ghettos in occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. In April-May 1943, Jews in the Warsawghetto rose in armed revolt after rumors that the Germans would deport the remaining ghetto inhabitants to the Treblinka killing center. As German SS and police units entered the ghetto, members of the Jewish Fighting Organization (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa; ZOB) and other Jewish groups attacked German tanks with Molotov cocktails, hand grenades, and a handful of small arms. Although the Germans, shocked by the ferocity of resistance, were able to end the major fighting within a few days, it took the vastly superior German forces nearly a month before they were able to completely pacify the ghetto and deport virtually all of the remaining inhabitants. For months after the end of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, individual Jewish resisters continued to hide in the ruins of the ghetto, which SS and police units patrolled to prevent attacks on German personnel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Status of Female Farmers Rises During Food Crisis

Women produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food in poorer countries.

A Ugandan woman near her home in the rural town Busia, near the Kenyan border.(WOMENSENEWS)--The women who grow more than half the world's agricultural produce have gained international recognition and aid since the start of the global food crisis in 2007.
Instead of being seen as a minor, vulnerable group, international aid agencies have begun keeping sex-specific data and reaching out to them as development partners, said Jeannette Gurung, director of the Washington-based Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.
The reason: high food prices three years ago strained food-aid suppliers, causing them to look for cheaper, more flexible sources. In a policy shift that was also aimed at helping local economies, they began turning to small farmers, who are predominantly women.

Let Us Count the Ways: How Factory Farms Make You Sick

Factory farms makes you sick.

Let us count the ways.

Just last week, more than half a billion eggs recalled.
Salmonella poisoning.
More than 1,300 people sick.
Just last week, a recall of more than 380,000 pounds of deli meat products distributed nationwide to Wal-Mart stores.
Possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
The bacteria can cause listeriosis – a rare but potentially deadly disease.
Move over Animal Farm.
Here comes Animal Factory.
And the animal factories are dominating the agricultural landscape.
Making us sick and poisoning the environment.
The Obama administration, which ran on a platform to confront factory farming, has done little to confront the problem.

Neosecessionists: Too Much Talk And Too Little Action

When the Second Vermont Republic was launched in 2003, there were no books available on secession, few articles on the subject, and only a handful of websites devoted to specific secession movements such as those in Alaska and Hawaii.  Seven years later the country is awash with books, articles, and websites extolling the virtues of secession.  Secession is definitely on the national radar screen.  Although a lot of people are talking about it, precious few are actually doing anything to make it happen.

Unfortunately, most of what is currently being written about secession focuses on its constitutionality, arguably the least important aspect of this provocative topic.  Ultimately, as was the case with the American Revolution, whether or not a state is allowed to secede is neither a legal question nor a constitutional question, but rather a matter of political will.  The ultimate test of sovereignty lies with the people themselves:  How strong is the will of the people of the departing state to be free and independent of the control of the larger nation it was a part of?