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by Paul Craig Roberts / March 6th, 2014
According to a report in Kommersant-Ukraine, the finance ministry of Washington’s stooges in Kiev who are pretending to be a government has prepared an economic austerity plan that will cut Ukrainian pensions from $160 to $80 so that Western bankers who lent money to Ukraine can be repaid at the expense of Ukraine’s poor. It is Greece all over again.
Posted by polly7 | Fri Mar 7, 2014, 10:02 AM (1 replies)
Blood Phones and the Congo
By Kwei Quartey
April 7, 2013
The array of names by which the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been known over the years—the Congo Free State, the Belgian Congo, and Zaire, among others—bespeaks its long history of exploitation and conflict. In the ongoing fallout from the Second Congo War alone, well over 5 million people have been killed—approximately the population of Minnesota and approaching the number of Jews killed in the Holocuast. Even now, a deadly assortment of militias, M23 and Mai Mai prominent among them, continues to fight in the eastern DRC, where reports abound of horrifying acts of murder and rape in towns such as Goma, capital of North Kivu province on the border with Rwanda.
Although most of the developed world has long been unburdened with knowledge of the violence in the DRC, the slaughter is intricately linked to electronic components carried by millions of people in the United States and Europe. The tantalum capacitor is a reliable and stable component of electronic circuitry found in smartphones, DVD players, video game systems, laptops and tablets, hearing aids, pacemakers, and jet engines. Tantalum is extracted from coltan, short for columbite-tantalite, which is a dull, black, metallic ore mined in the DRC. Artisanal and small-scale miners do the work in filthy, dangerous, and taxing conditions. At the bottom of the supply chain, these workers earn a pittance, but the mining is often their sole income source.
In Goma and other eastern Congo towns close to Rwanda, coltan and conflict go hand in hand. Revenue from the mineral trade fuels the war. A 2001 UN Panel of Inquiry stated: “Here lies the vicious circle of the war. Coltan has permitted the Rwandan army to sustain its presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
My Search For A Smartphone That Is Not Soaked In Blood
By George Monbiot
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
If you are too well connected, you stop thinking. The clamour, the immediacy, the tendency to absorb other people's thoughts, interrupt the deep abstraction required to find your own way. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet bought a smartphone. But the technology is becoming ever harder to resist. Perhaps this year I will have to succumb. So I have asked a simple question: can I buy an ethical smartphone?
There are dozens of issues, such as starvation wages, bullying, abuse and 60-hour weeks in the sweatshops manufacturing them, the debt bondage into which some of the workers are pressed, the energy used, the hazardous waste produced. But I will concentrate on just one: are the components soaked in the blood of people from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo? For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region's minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.
While these elements are by no means the only reason for conflict there, they help to fund it, supporting a fragmented war that – through direct killings, displacement, disease and malnutrition – has now killed several million people. Rival armies have forced local people to dig in extremely dangerous conditions, have extorted minerals and money from self-employed miners, have tortured, mutilated and murdered those who don't comply, and have spread terror and violence – including gang rape and child abduction – through the rest of the population. I do not want to participate.
None of the campaigning groups wants companies to stop buying minerals from eastern Congo. Global Witness and FairPhone, for example, point out that mining supports many families in a country where 82% are considered underemployed. But they also insist that the trade can be dissociated from violence: if, and only if, companies ensure they're not buying minerals which have passed through the hands of militias. Given the potential damage to their reputations, you might have expected these firms to take the issue seriously. With a few exceptions, you would be wrong.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/my-search-for-a-smartphone-that-is-not-soaked-in-blood-by-george-monbiot
Congolese Women and Girls Suffering the Insufferable
by Emily Spence and Brian McAfee / January 12th, 2010
While in the eastern Congo last summer, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “With respect to companies that are responsible for what are now being called conflict minerals, I think the international community must start looking at steps we can take to try to prevent the mineral wealth from the DRC ending up in the hands of those who fund the violence here.”
In relation, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s UN supported armed assault against rebels in the eastern Congo has promoted widespread death, rape and other forms of brutality. Indeed, the decade long war has claimed at least 5.4 million lives — the most in any conflict since WWII. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of women and girls, including babies, have suffered rapes and sexual mutilation, often with weapons and tools used in the process. Further, it is thought that, in eastern portions of the Congo, up to seventy percent of Congolese women, along with children of all ages, have been sexually attacked, according to the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, a research center at Harvard University.
Moreover, some relief workers have estimated that up to twenty percent of new rapes have been instigated by police and civilians in urban rather than rural areas in that a culture of violence has set into much of the nation due to the long, drawn out conflict. At the same time, the attacks are so extremely violent that they have been described as sexual terrorism by medical workers at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu at which thousands of survivors have been treated each year.
Overall, it has emerged that all major groups involved in the warfare have committed these and other serious war crimes, including looting peasants, purposefully destroying homes and forcing the mass dislocations of more than a million terrorized people from their neighborhoods. On account, countless families and whole communities have been forced to live with constant fear, repeated migrations and insurmountable social turmoil.
The main reason that these minerals are in such high demand is because they are critical in the fabrication of digital cameras, laptops, cell phones, portable musical devices and video games. Yet, some of these battlefield minerals are not widely found over much of the world. Therefore, there is great competition for them in the Congo and some individuals will stop at nothing to get them.
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 07:11 PM (1 replies)
Her stories and recollections are horrible, but she's saving lives and providing hope for many. This fund drive has been going for a while now, I hope people write to their legislators and sign petitions as well. There really are things we can do.
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 07:03 PM (1 replies)
There is more to this video than the idea of "white men raping a white girl". The concept of using Caucasians is to present the everyday horrors people in the Congo suffer due to the blood minerals in a way we (the audience) can really see. By presenting this horrific action in a "white" setting, it helps us "1st world people" to understand how these things can and do happen to everyday people in the Congo, caught in the middle of the trade. War crimes can happen to all people, of all genders and races, and are not limited to one group or another. In this case, they chose to portray it with a white suburban family, in the hopes that people can empathize with the disgusting nature of sexual war crimes. Hope this cleared up any misunderstandings!!
For those of you who haven't picked up on it, or didn't read the details... This is a disambiguation of the acts that are being committed on an hourly basis across Africa, mainly in The Congo. This is a tactic used to instill fear to the surrounding communities so they abide by the guerrilla members. This is a demonstration video of a real problem. A "what if it was happening here in our country?", an eye opener into the subject, to get people's attention and create the ball that needs to get set rolling in order to help these people that need it. You see natural disasters on the news and help gets to them, that's awesome the world needs that. However, how often do you hear about rapes on the news? Now, how often do you hear about rapes in other countries? This is why the world needs videos like this, we have come so accustomed to getting our information over the Internet. Thumbs up to Phillip DeFranco, he lead me here. Hopefully more people are made aware of this, and more reading is done with less "oh it's just another fake video" because reading comments like that make me sick. This is HAPPENING. It is in no way fake.
The east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been engulfed in a brutal war since 1996. This is a war against women, where the most unimaginable violence is being perpetrated against women of all ages.
Masika is a survivor of this unimaginable violence and violation, but despite facing ongoing danger, she is tirelessly working to help others. She has set up a centre where other survivors can come for sanctuary. They have no where else to go, the majority of them have been rejected by their husbands, community, and even their own families.
'Surviving hell on earth'
Even in the dry season eastern Congo is lush. Fields of maize, swaying in the breeze, grow higher than you have ever seen; ferocious electric storms, light up the night sky in pink and blue, quenching the thirst of the land with enormous raindrops. The abundance of everything is extreme, including the violence. Nearly six million people have died since the first war began in 1996. Hundreds of thousands of women, children and men have been raped. And it is still going on.
It is the people who bring me back time after time, people who simply do not give up despite surviving hell on earth. Masika has been raped four times by gangs of soldiers and militia - often because of her work saving other rape survivors. Vivienne is one of them, although she does not know she is the product of rape. After the rape, her mother's family agreed to take her mother back, but refused Vivienne – she is a product of the enemy.
"Most of them, when they come here, have never worked in a field before. But given what they've been through, being stigmatised and neglected ... the field provides ... hope for a better life"
Masika takes me off the main road and down a narrow path, under the glare of the intense sun. An elderly couple squeeze past us. The man holds a multi-coloured umbrella over his wife to shield her from the heat. Masika has no such protector. Her husband, who she calls the "love of her life", was dismembered in front of her.
Out in the open, Masika stops by a field of crops, to catch her breathe and pick some small chilli peppers. Eating them raw she turns to me: "I never know when I may get my next meal," she says.
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 06:51 PM (0 replies)
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 10:33 AM (1 replies)
From temperatures as low as -32 in Russia to some of the wettest weather in the UK’s history, this map shows the extreme weather events of last month from around the world.
—By John Vidal and George Arnett
This story first appeared on the Guardian as is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Hover over each marker to see which World Meteorological Office station it was recorded at and all the details of the extremity. The data was sourced from the Japanese Meteorological Agency and covers all of January 2014.
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 09:57 AM (1 replies)
6 March 2014 Last updated at 05:47 ET
Five Afghan soldiers killed in Nato strike
At least five soldiers from the Afghan army have been killed in a Nato air strike in eastern Afghanistan.
They were killed in the early hours of Thursday in the Charkh district of Logar province.
Nato confirmed the "unfortunate incident" and said it was investigating the circumstances behind the attack.
Correspondents say it is likely to anger President Hamid Karzai, who has been deeply critical of international air strikes that have killed civilians.
He has previously ordered all coalition air strikes to end unless previously cleared by the Afghan defence ministry.
Full article: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26446269?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AAfPak%20Daily%20Brief&utm_campaign=South%20Asia%20Daily%203-6-14
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 09:51 AM (0 replies)
By Federico Fuentes
Source: Green Left Weekly
March 6, 2014
Below, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network activist Federico Fuentes, provides answers to common questions about recent events in Venezuela. Key facts are referenced, largely from media outlets that could not be identified as pro-government.
Is recent unrest in Venezuela due to government repression against peaceful protests?
No. This version of events, widely disseminated by the media, ignores the fact that security forces only acted after groups within the protests initiated violent actions. In the case of the first of the current round of protests that gained media attention, in Tachira on February 6, police only moved in after small groups of protesters attacked local governorship offices and home of the local governor. http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140206/maduro-quieren-apl…
When protests took place in Merida the next day, security forces intervened only after armed protesters had carried out actions such as hijacking trucks carrying food and medicine. http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140207/herido-estudiante-…
During protests in Caracas on February 12, which gained international media attention due to deaths on the day, there is clear evidence security forces only moved into action after a small group of protesters had them, destroyed the attorney-general’s office and burned five police trucks.http://www.elsoldemargarita.com.ve/posts/post/id:128117
None of this is to deny there were incidents of heavy-handed action by security forces, or to excuse the death of protesters. One fact the media has studious ignored is that 11 members of Venezuela’s security forces and three Bolivarian National Guard soldiers have been arrested and charged after evidence of wrongdoing......
Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/violence-in-venezuela-the-myths-versus-facts/
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 09:31 AM (31 replies)
by Paul Craig Roberts / March 5th, 2014
Glenn Greenwald points out the independence that RT, a Russian media organization, permits Abby Martin who denounced Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine, compared to the fates of Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC), both of whom were fired for expressing opposition to the Bush regime’s illegal attack on Iraq. The fact that Donahue had NBC’s highest rated program did not give him journalistic independence. Anyone who speaks the truth in the American print or TV media or on NPR is immediately fired.
For example, Martin’s denunciation of Russia for “invading” Ukraine is based on Western propaganda that Russia sent 16,000 troops to occupy Crimea. The fact of the matter is that those 16,000 Russian troops have been in Crimea since the 1990s. Under the Russian-Ukrainian agreement, Russia has the right to base 25,000 troops in Crimea.
The entire story that the presstitutes have told about the Ukraine is a propaganda production. The presstitutes told us that the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, ordered snipers to shoot protesters. On the basis of these false reports, Washington’s stooges, who comprise the existing non-government in Kiev, have issued arrest orders for Yanukovych and intend for him to be tried in an international court. In an intercepted telephone call between EU foreign affairs minister Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet who had just returned from Kiev, Paet reports: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” Paet goes on to report that “all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides … and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” Ashton, absorbed with EU plans to guide reforms in Ukraine and to prepare the way for the IMF to gain control over economic policy, was not particularly pleased to hear Paet’s report that the killings were an orchestrated provocation. You can listen to the conversation between Paet and Ashton here.
What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia’s help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia’s help..
Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/03/propaganda-rules-the-news/
Posted by polly7 | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 09:25 AM (3 replies)