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Showing posts from April, 2013

The devastating effects of austerity

We might all recognise that austerity will have its consequences on the people of any country, but a report just released brings the effect into sharp focus.   We ignore the fall-out and knock-on effects at our own peril.  Reuters reports:

"Austerity is having a devastating effect on health in Europe and North America, driving suicide, depression and infectious diseases and reducing access to medicines and care, researchers said on Monday.

Detailing a decade of research, Oxford University political economist David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine and an epidemiologist at Stanford University, said their findings show austerity is seriously bad for health.

In a book to be published this week, the researchers say more than 10,000 suicides and up to a million cases of depression have been diagnosed during what they call the "Great Recession" and its accompanying austerity across Europe and North America.

In Greece, moves like cutting HIV prevention …

Principles - some of have it, others not

Canada, somewhat surprisingly given it ignoring other instances of human rights being abused - think, countries in the Middle East, notably Israel - has called for a boycott of the CHOGM Conference slated for later this year in Colombo, Sri Lanka.    A principled stand.   

On the other hand, Australia, quite unprincipled, has declared that it will attend the Conference.    Both political parties favour attending.

So, what will Australia, and other like-minded countries, make of this Report issued by Amnesty International today?

"The Sri Lankan government is intensifying its crackdown on critics through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

The document, “Assault on Dissent,” reveals how the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is promoting an official attitude that equates criticism with “treason” in a bid to tighten its grip on power.

Journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and opposition p…

Suitcases of cash with the compliments of the CIA.....

What a way to win hearts and minds!   Shovelling bucket-loads, or suitcases, of cash to Afghani officials seems to be the way the Americans (and Iranians by the way) have sought to have their way with, and influence, members of the corrupt Karzai regime.   

"For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.

All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

“We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new account…

Congress and Obama protect (of all companies!) Monsanto

A new act will require the USDA to issue temporary permits allowing farmers to continue planting genetically modified organisms.
Obama again shows his true colours in protecting big business to the detriment of the general populace.      To think of Monsanto, of all companies, given any sort of "protection" makes the mind boggle.   And that ignores the potential risk to health to which everyone is going to be subjected.   IPSreports.

"Food safety advocates are outraged over revelations that U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama approved an act that includes a provision purporting to strip federal courts of the ability to prevent the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue temporary permits allowing the continued planting of GMOs by farmers, even when a court rules that the agency erred in its environmental impact review of t…

French ambassador in Kabul says it as it is.......

Plain speaking from the departing French ambassador to Afghanistan.     It stands in stark contrast to what the PR machine at the Pentagon, and elsewhere, is churning out.   Only an ostrich would even half believe some of the tripe being pedalled.

The New York Times reports on an "interesting" soiree / cocktail party......

"After the white-coated staff passed the third round of hors d’oeuvres, Mr. Bajolet took the lectern and laid out a picture of how France — a country plagued by a slow economy, waning public support for the Afghan endeavor and demands from other foreign conflicts, including Syria and North Africa — looked at Afghanistan.

While it is certainly easier for France to be a critic from the sidelines than countries whose troops are still fighting in Afghanistan, the country can claim to have done its part. It lost more troops than all but three other countries before withdrawing its last combat forces in the fall.

The room, filled with diplomats, some senior sol…

Ralph Nader reflects on the Boston Marathon bombings

All too tragically Americans are inward looking and in most respects so introverted that they care little - and know less - about the outside world.     It's the mantra of #1 USA all the way.....

Ralph Nader, writing on CounterPunch, reflects on the Boston Marathon bombings and on how "others" see the Americans.

"In watching the massive media coverage and the reaction to the brutal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the wise poem “To A Louse…” composed in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns came to me:

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!”

English translation:

“And would some Power the small gift give us

To see ourselves as others see us!”

What must the “ithers” in the Middle East theatre of the American Empire think of a great city in total lockdown from an attack by primitive explosives when Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Yemenis experience far greater casualties and terror attacks several times a week? Including what …

Internet surveillance (aka snooping) coming to somewhere near you.....

There can be little denying that governments have increasingly intruded into our freedoms post 9/11 - all under the guise of the "war on terror".  

The latest outrage on snooping (euphemistically called surveillance) on the use of the internet has arrived in the USA.    Rest assured it will be followed around the world.

"Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on portions of networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.

The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors' Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.
"The Justice Department is helping …