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Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 13,706

Journal Archives

The slaughter of Palmyra's citizens begins:

First images emerge from Syrian city over-run by ISIS... and show rows of people beheaded as terror group celebrates freeing Islamists from state prison


. Jihadis have entered 2,000-year-old ruins but no reports of destruction yet
. Seized air base, spy HQ and claimed to have liberated hundreds prisoners
. First time ISIS has claimed city directly from Syrian army and allied forces
. Terror group now controls HALF of all territory in the war-torn country

Pro-government forces beat a hasty retreat late last night after 100 fighters were slaughtered in violent clashes in just a few hours.

It is the first time ISIS has claimed a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces, which have already lost ground in the northwest and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks.

Beibares Tellawi, an activist in Homs province, said the militants had reached Tadmur prison, where thousands of Syrian dissidents have been imprisoned and tortured over the years.

The fate of the prisoners was not immediately known, although pro-ISIS Twitter accounts shared a image claiming to show inmates celebrating with militants after being set free.

Full article: http://world.einnews.com/article/266826843/dr6KaRrpxoHVO1FR

Myanmar rescues two migrant boats at Bangladesh border

Myanmar's Information Ministry said on its Facebook page that the boats were found in Bangladeshi waters

It was Myanmar's first such rescue. It has faced strong criticism for not doing enough to aid those stranded at sea and stem the migrant crisis.

Most stranded migrants are Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar; others are economic migrants from Bangladesh.

More than 3,000 have landed in neighbouring Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which have offered aid.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, said these migrants were rescued on Friday morning.

The Facebook posts referred to the migrants as 'Bengalis' - Myanmar's term for Rohingya Muslims

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to stop towing boats out to sea and will provide temporary shelter to those who have landed.
Thailand only said it would stop rejecting boats.

Full article: http://world.einnews.com/article/266819079/11fhvs9IxiSuSE-B

From Belfast to Baltimore Bad Police Tactics Spread. So can Justice.

By Laura Flanders
Source: GRITtv
May 22, 2015

It’s an old adage but it’s true, especially when it comes to policing: an injury to one really is an injury to all. That’s because like a bad movie, bad police tactics spread the globe. Accountability can go global too, but as in a recent case out of Ireland, justice moves more slowly.

Shortly after the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, a leaked police document claimed that a prisoner transported with Gray heard him “banging against the walls” of the vehicle as if he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

That prisoner quickly refuted the story, but not before it brought to my mind very similar claims from police in Northern Ireland.

“Throwing oneself down stairs…punching own face and poking own eyes…injury to the neck by attempted self-strangulation.”

That’s how investigators explained injuries sustained in police custody in Ireland according to documents recently dug up by human rights investigators. They’ve spent years getting beneath the spin, and now we know that while they fed the public guff about “self inflicted” harm, internally British ministers sanctioned torture .

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/from-belfast-to-baltimore-bad-police-tactics-spread-so-can-justice/

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Threat To Global Health?

By Deane Marchbein
Source: Health Affairs
May 22, 2015

Lost in the political discussions over the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement currently being negotiated in secret between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific-Rim nations—is the very real negative impact it would have on global health.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works in over 60 countries, and our medical teams rely on access to affordable medicines and vaccines. We are deeply concerned that the TPP, in its current form, will lock-in high, unsustainable drug prices, block or delay the availability of affordable generic medicines, and price millions of people out of much-needed medical care.

The public health repercussions of this deal could be massive. The negotiating countries represent at least 700 million people, and U.S. negotiators refer to the TPP as a “blueprint” for future trade deals. The TPP attempts to rewrite existing global trade rules and would dismantle legal flexibilities and protections afforded for public health.

We are told that the only way to ensure that people receive the medicines they need is by increasing intellectual property provisions, such as those encapsulated in the TPP. In reality, the existing monopoly-based innovation system that the TPP is attempting to standardize has left us with more patents and fewer medical breakthroughs.

The most recent and dramatic example of this failure in innovation played out just last year, when Ebola raged through West Africa. Doctors Without Borders and other global health actors were ill-equipped to fight a disease that was identified 40 years ago but for which there are still no adequate diagnostics, treatments, or vaccines.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-trans-pacific-partnership-a-threat-to-global-health/

Canadian Media Finally Discovers Mass Graves of Indigenous Children

by Kevin Annett / May 22nd, 2015

It was eighteen years ago this month that I first handed to a Vancouver Sun newspaper editor a list of possible mass grave sites of Indian residential school children on Canada’s west coast, based on government documents and statements from eyewitnesses who buried children there. I and these witnesses were flatly ignored: not only then, but every other time over the subsequent years that we presented such evidence to the same newspaper.

Year after year, despite all our public protests, forums, and documenting of the location of the mass graves of these children, the Vancouver Sun‘s indifference to the worst crime in Canadian history continued. And this same blind eye approach was replicated by every other “mainstream” media outlet across Canada — even when, in December of 2011, these media received from me evidence of bone and clothing samples unearthed from the Brantford residential school mass grave.

But lo and behold! Suddenly this past week, as if I’d never spoken to them, the Sun newspaper finally reported on residential school graves! I wasn’t mentioned in their article, of course; nor was the word “genocide”, or any of the hundreds of witnesses to these crimes that our work has given voice to since 1997.

Instead, a young, fresh faced graduate student nobody’s ever heard of received front page billing for her supposed “identifying” of children’s graves at the United Church residential school in Brandon: one of the very sites we had named to an oblivious Sun newspaper in March of 2008.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/canadian-media-finally-discovers-mass-graves-of-indigenous-children/

They Say “Peace” But It Is Really War

by Andre Vltchek / May 22nd, 2015

They say “may peace prevail on earth”, but every night, there are fires burning in the terrible slums of Nairobi, Jakarta, Guatemala City and Mumbai.

The World Education Forum is now taking place in Seoul, South Korea. UNESCO and Korea organized this colorful event. Everyone is talking, others are singing, and a few are dancing.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is talking peace, and the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is talking peace.

Peace, peace, peace! It has been turned into one of those cliché words that are repeated in every political speech, words like “freedom” and “democracy”.

The military top brass claims it exists to defend peace. Leaders, who are giving orders to destroy entire nations, killing millions, demand peace. Neocon economists, financing war and profiting from it, demand peace. It seems like, these days, whoever murders, bombs, mutilates and robs is obsessed with, peace. ...........

More: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/they-say-peace-but-it-is-really-war/

Twisting the ‘lessons of history’ to authorise unjustifiable violence: the Mediterranean crisis

By Various Contributors
Source: open democracy
May 21, 2015

More than 300 slavery and migration scholars respond to those advocating for military force against migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. This is no slave trade. Where is the moral justification for actions that cost lives?

European Union political leaders have announced that their response to the staggering loss of life amongst migrants crossing the Mediterranean in unseaworthy vessels will be the use of force to smash the so-called ‘networks’ that operate out of Libya to orchestrate the perilous sea crossings. How? On May 11, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated that “No one is thinking of bombing. I’m talking about a naval operation,” but two days later, the Guardian reported on a leaked strategy paper for an EU mission in the Mediterranean and in Libyan territorial waters proposing an air and naval campaign. This, the paper said, would lead to ‘collateral damage’. In other words, adults and children boarding or aboard the vessels under attack might be killed. With or without bombs, such ‘collateral damage’ is already a known product of the measures being employed by the EU to push back, deter, and divert migrants, including those seeking asylum.

Where is the moral justification for some of the world’s richest nations employing their naval and technological might in a manner that leads to the death of men, women and children from some of the world’s poorest and most war torn regions? A dangerous perversion of history is being peddled to answer this question.

In recent years, policy on unauthorized movement across borders has drawn a distinction between the activities of ‘people smugglers’ and those of ‘human traffickers’. Smuggling involves voluntary, consensual arrangements, but trafficking is said to entail coercion or deception, and has been repeatedly likened to the transatlantic slave trade by politicians, journalists, and even some contemporary anti-slavery campaigners. The dangers of the analogy are now made manifest, with the terms ‘smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’ being employed interchangeably in relation to migrants crossing the Mediterranean. And it is this elision that makes it possible for EU leaders to discuss the use of military force on the North African coast as if it were a moral necessity. “Human traffickers are the slave traders of the 21st century, and they should be brought to justice”, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi recently wrote. When the problem is framed in this way, their vow to “identify, capture and destroy” the vessels of those who move migrants looks like a ‘tough choice’ forced upon EU leaders by the sudden appearance of a far greater evil—a modern slave trade.

But this is patently false and entirely self-serving. As scholarship on the history of slavery makes painfully clear, what is happening in the Mediterranean today does not even remotely resemble the transatlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans did not want to move. They were held in dungeons before being shackled and loaded onto ships. They had to be prevented from choosing suicide over forcible transportation. That transportation led to a single and utterly appalling outcome—slavery.

Today, those embarking on the journey to Europe want to move. If they were free to do so, they would be taking advantage of the flights that budget airlines operate between North Africa and Europe at a tiny fraction of the cost of the extraordinarily dangerous sea passage. And it is not ‘slavers’ or ‘traffickers’ who are preventing them from accessing this safe route.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/twisting-the-lessons-of-history-to-authorise-unjustifiable-violence-the-mediterranean-crisis/

A Migrant's Journey Begins

West African family heartbroken after sending child on treacherous journey to seek a better life in Europe.

By Nicolas Haque


The Boat Of Starving Rohingya Refugees That No Country Will Take In

The emaciated faces of hundreds of refugees found adrift in Thai waters on Thursday spoke volumes about the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Asia.

Reporters on Thursday found about 400 refugees from Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority crammed aboard a wooden fishing boat in the Andaman Sea, desperate for food and water.

The refugees said they had been at sea for almost three months and had fled persecution in their home country. They had hoped to reach Malaysia but were turned away by Malay authorities. Six days ago, smugglers abandoned their ship, and ten people had already perished onboard, refugees said.

Christophe Archambault, a photographer for Agence France Presse, captured the harrowing scenes onboard the ship, and the desperate scramble for supplies that were eventually dropped by the Thai military.


Trapped in Libya: the flotsam of the West’s wars

By Vijay Prashad
Source: al-Araby
May 14, 2015

Next week, the EU will launch work on its plan to tackle the Mediterranean migrant crisis. The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has asked the UN for help to dismantle the smuggling networks.

European ambassadors have drafted a UN resolution, under chapter VII (which allows use of force), to tackle the crisis. For them the military option is the brightest light. As Mogherini said, the EU wants the authority to “use all necessary means to seize and dispose of the vessels.

“Thus far in 2015, over 60,000 people have tried to cross from Libya to Europe. Of them, close to two thousand have died – a death toll 20 times higher than in 2014,” it continues.


Baroud - The Arab Boat - It’s an Arab-Palestinian Nakba, and We Are All Refugees

by Ramzy Baroud / May 13th, 2015

A recent report by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) finally placed the crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc, in a larger context, accentuating the collective Arab tragedy. “These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” according to Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, the organization behind IDMC.

War and conflicts have resulted in the displacement of 38 million people, of whom 11 million were displaced last year alone. This number is constantly fortified by new refugees, while the total number of people who flee their homes every single day averages 30,000, a third of those are Arabs who flee their own countries.

Yes, 10,000 Arabs, are made refugees every day according to IDMC. Many of them are internally displaced people (IDPs), others are refugees in other countries, and thousands take their chances by sailing in small boats across the Mediterranean. Thousands die trying.

“I am a Syrian refugee from the Palestinian al-Yarmouk camp in Damascus,” wrote Ali Sandeed in the British Guardian newspaper. “When I was small, my grandmother used to tell us how she felt when she was forced to flee to Syria from her home in Palestine in 1948, and how she hoped that her children and grandchildren would never have to experience what it feels like to be a refugee. But we did. I was born a Palestinian refugee, and almost three years ago I became a refugee once more, when my family and I had to flee the Syrian war to Lebanon.”

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/the-arab-boat/


The wretched of the sea: An Algerian perspective

By Hamza Hamouchene
Source: Middle East Eye
May 10, 2015

In the last few weeks, the EU neighbourhood and the Western foreign policies alongside the ongoing economic domination of the African continent have yet again shown their deadly consequences in the immigration tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea.

Thousands of people, mainly from Africa and Syria, risk their lives every year crossing the sea in fragile boats to flee war-torn areas, poverty, persecution and misery in order to reach the shores of Europe for a better and safer life. Sadly a significant number of them perish in the attempts to do so or end up in humiliating camps and prisons in southern European countries only to be deported and returned and see their dreams shattered.

What distinguishes this year’s tragedy from the previous ones is the sheer scale of it as the death toll of drowning this year now stands at over 1,500 – 50 times more than at the same point in 2014. This can be explained mainly by the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali as well as the inhumane decision by several European Union (EU) governments to refuse funding to the Italian-run rescue operation Mare Nostrum, preferring thus to let migrants die, something that was claimed would act as a deterrent for unwanted people who are trying to reach fortress Europe.

Harga in a way represents the pursuit of a future that came to a dead-end in the home-country. It is a means to overcome the restrictions on freedom of movement, precariousness of employment and the marginalisation by clientelist networks – in a nutshell everything that makes life unsustainable, in order to realise a life project that we think is impossible to achieve in Algeria given present conditions. One inhabitant of a marginalised village, Sidi Salem in Annaba, eastern Algeria, declared to his Harrag brother: “I lost the keys of my future in a cemetery in Algeria called Sidi Salem.”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-wretched-of-the-sea-an-algerian-perspective/


Behind Every Refugee Stands an Arms Trader

by Jan Oberg / April 28th, 2015

“Seeking a better life”?

Add to that the now often repeated but totally misleading wording – that these refugees are coming ”to seek a better life” in Europe – as if their lives were already good but they want it better.

It’s plain nonsense. The issue is not what they flee to but what they flee from. Refugees are on the run from some version of hell.

Civilisation: What about this instead?

Imagine EU leaders had instead stated something like this:

“We have found that refugee numbers are increasing due mainly to arms trade and wars and therefore we are going to invest in early conflict warning and violence-prevention, in educating experts in these fields, in using smart civilian means including dialogue, mediation and negotiations.

Further, we shall increasingly put up arms embargoes instead of intensifying arms deliveries to these and future conflict areas.”

Humankind has abolished slavery, absolute monarchy, cannibalism and, in principle, child labour. To solve, or at least reduce, the mounting refugee problem, we should begin to discuss how to increase human civilisation by criminalising arms trade and by abolishing war – as stated in the UN Charter Preamble.

But there are taboos on such common sense ideas in all the countries which consider themselves civilised compared with the morally weak and uncivilised countries they destroy, one after the other.


Myanmar rescues two migrant boats at Bangladesh border

Myanmar's Information Ministry said on its Facebook page that the boats were found in Bangladeshi waters

It was Myanmar's first such rescue. It has faced strong criticism for not doing enough to aid those stranded at sea and stem the migrant crisis.

Most stranded migrants are Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar; others are economic migrants from Bangladesh.

More than 3,000 have landed in neighbouring Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which have offered aid.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, said these migrants were rescued on Friday morning.

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to stop towing boats out to sea and will provide temporary shelter to those who have landed.
Thailand only said it would stop rejecting boats.

The Facebook posts referred to the migrants as 'Bengalis' - Myanmar's term for Rohingya Muslims

Full article: http://world.einnews.com/article/266819079/11fhvs9IxiSuSE-B

Colombia Bans Monsanto’s RoundUp From Being Sprayed On Coca Plants

May 20, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

It’s true. Colombia is removing glyphosate chemicals from their coca crops – the raw materials used to make cocaine.

Don’t the irony be lost on you. That means that while it is completely legal for glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide) to be sprayed on all sorts of crops in the US – including the apples your kids take bites from or the corn which is used in the nation’s ever-increasing junk food diet, glyphosate-free drugs will soon be available in Colombia.

According to BBC, glyphosate has been used in US-sponsored crop-spraying anti-narcotics programs in South America. But as stated by President Manual Santos, anti-narcotic officials will now have until October of this year to find another glyphosate-free method to care for their coca crops.

The president told reporters:

“I am going to ask the government officials in the National Drug Council at their next meeting to suspend glyphosate spraying of illicit cultivations . . . The recommendations and studies reviewed by the Ministry of Health show clearly that yes, this risk exists.”


Ecuador Just Set The World Record For Reforestation

May 19, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

More than 45,000 people came together last weekend and set the Guinness World Record for single-day reforestation efforts.

Credit: islamicinvitationturkey.com

You often hear saddening statistics about the rate of deforestation from ecologically-minded friends and the news, but how often do you hear about the good that is being carried out to reverse environmental damage? Not as often, that’s for sure.

Therefore relish this news story, which features more than 45,000 people coming together to set the Guinness World Record for single-day reforestation efforts.

Credit: BusinessInsider

As stated by Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, “Ecuador broke a world record for reforestation Saturday, as thousands of people pitched in to plant 647,250 trees of more than 200 species.”

On May 16, 2015, thousands of people gathered to volunteer and reforest the Earth. They planted 220 different species of flora on almost 5,000 acres of land, setting a new Guinness World Record.

As Ecuador has set a national target to conserve and restore more land than what is deforested between 2008 and 2017, such a project will no doubt help the country maintain its vision.

Credit: ThinkProgress.org

Full article: http://www.trueactivist.com/ecuador-just-set-the-world-record-for-reforestation/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TrueActivist+%28True+Activist%29

A Migrant's Journey Begins

West African family heartbroken after sending child on treacherous journey to seek a better life in Europe.

By Nicolas Haque


May 20, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Al Jazeera" - Abdou Diallo has been training to be a mechanic in Senegal's capital, Dakar, for six years - since he was 10 - hoping to one day get a paying job.

But knowing that his life would likely be spent struggling to earn a small wage, the 16-year-old's parents have taken out a huge loan and sold all of the family possessions so that Abdou can try and make the treacherous journey to Europe.

While the visa to most European nations cost about $100, Abdou and his family know that Africans are rarely able to obtain such visas.

So they are paying people smugglers $3,000 to organise the trip, which will include an overland trip into Libya and then onto a boat to cross the Mediterranean.

It is a trip fraught with danger. Nearly 2,000 migrants are thought to have drowned trying to reach Europe so far this year and more than 10,000 have been rescued.

Full article: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41915.htm
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