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Keeping Food Security on the Table at UN Climate Talks

Published on
Saturday, February 14, 2015
byInter Press Service
byDenise Fontanilla, Chris Wright

Farming in Kenya. (Photo: C. Schubert, Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security/flickr/cc)

While food security is a core objective of the U.N. climate convention, it has traditionally been discussed in relation to adaptation.

“Ask any African country what’s adaptation about – they’re going to say agriculture,” said Teresa Anderson of the international charity ActionAid. She added that 90 percent of countries who developed national adaptation plans identified agriculture as the key element.

Food security is referenced throughout the latest draft of the new climate agreement, which was released Feb. 12. One proposal for adaptation recognises the need “to build resilience of the most vulnerable linked to pockets of poverty, livelihoods and food security in developing countries.”

“What we have learned from the biofuel land grab, it is always the hungriest, the poorest, the most marginalised who suffer the most. In the end, they get pushed off their land and thrown into poverty as they can’t afford the price of food.”

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/14/keeping-food-security-table-un-climate-talks

New Anti-Poverty Mission, “Households of the Nation,” Gets Underway in Venezuela

By Lucas Koerner
Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
February 15, 2015

In a speech from Miraflores Palace on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his government would begin to implement its newest social program, known as the Great Household Mission of the Nation.

The stated aim of the new mission is to tackle extreme poverty and ensure the “total protection” of the Venezuelan family, from birth and child-rearing through to elderly care. The announcement comes in the midst of a severe recession, an economic war, and escalating U.S. sanctions, yet the government has said that it will not compromise its commitment to the country’s network of social missions developed over the past sixteen years.

The Great Household Mission is specifically targeted at the 500,000 Venezuelans currently living in extreme poverty, or approximately 7 percent of the population. A rate which has dropped significantly from 21% in 1998 thanks to a near doubling of expenditure on social programs such as the missions, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

According to the President, the Household Mission is intended to act as an umbrella project to “group together various missions and plans that are in development… in order to become a single action for the protection of the family.” Missions that will fall under the remit of the new project include Women of the Barrio, Children of the Barrio, and Children of Venezuela.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/new-anti-poverty-mission-households-of-the-nation-gets-underway-in-venezuela/

Noam Chomsky discusses Ukraine and Russia

Very, very interesting.

NATO: Creating Crises

Talk about a contrived crisis. NATO, in its ongoing struggle to create enemies and thereby provide itself with a reason to exist, is now calling Russia its greatest threat. In other words, there really is no threat, unless NATO provokes Moscow and in doing so, creates one. In the current period—one that was preceded most recently by almost complete military domination of the world by the United States—Russia’s recent and relatively mild reactions to its growing encirclement by US client regimes and NATO military forces has been ratcheted up to what NATO is calling the greatest threat faced by NATO since that its heyday. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the Soviet Union (SU) was ever the threat US citizens were told it was by their government, this recent statement by NATO is overblown and, more importantly, potentially quite dangerous.

During the final years of the Soviet Union, numerous discussions took place between officials of the SU under Mikhail Gorbachev and officials of the US and Germany. These discussions intensified after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. A part of these discussions focused on the continuing existence of NATO and its eastern European counterpart, the Warsaw Pact. Although NATO survived the dissolution of the so-called Soviet Bloc, the Warsaw Pact did not. An undertone of the ongoing discussions between Moscow and Washington was an understanding that NATO would not attempt to recruit nations that were previously in the Moscow-led alliance. According to the NATO newsletter NATO Review, this understanding was never written down and was therefore essentially meaningless. In fact, here is a quote detailing this perception from the journal’s spring 2015 edition:

Thus, the debate about the enlargement of NATO evolved solely in the context of German reunification. In these negotiations Bonn and Washington managed to allay Soviet reservations about a reunited Germany remaining in NATO. This was achieved by generous financial aid, and by the “2+4 Treaty” ruling out the stationing of foreign NATO forces on the territory of the former East Germany. However, it was also achieved through countless personal conversations in which Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders were assured that the West would not take advantage of the Soviet Union’s weakness and willingness to withdraw militarily from Central and Eastern Europe. It is these conversations that may have left some Soviet politicians with the impression that NATO enlargement, which started with the admission of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999, had been a breach of these Western commitments.

......Meanwhile, Kiev refuses to call the conflict a war. Instead, it is being termed a terrorist operation. Naturally, the reason is related to the neoliberal IMF loans Kiev has coming; such loans would be much more difficult to obtain if it was officially at war. The will of those being conscripted to fight in Ukraine’s military is less than enthusiastic, with draft resistance growing. Antiwar protests in both Russia and Ukraine are also growing in size. However, in the United States the citizens are allowing their politicians and generals to involve their nation in the conflict without any sizable protest.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/02/nato-creating-crises/

The Disaster in Libya

By Greg Shupak
Source: Jacobin Magazine
February 14, 2015

The title of Horace Campbell’s book on NATO’s 2011 Libyan intervention, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, is an allusion to a Guardian article by Seumas Milne entitled, “If the Libyan war was about saving lives, it was a catastrophic failure.”

Echoing Milne’s use of “catastrophic” is apt. Claudia Gazzini of the liberal NGO International Crisis Group points out that, if the casualty figures provided by Libya’s National Transitional Council are accurate, “the death toll subsequent to the seven-month NATO intervention was at least ten times greater than the tally of those killed in the first few weeks of the conflict” before NATO intervened.

As Campbell shows, while NATO claimed to be protecting human rights, it bombed Libyan civilians and enabled the Libyan opposition to persecute black African migrant workers and ethnically cleanse the black Libyan town of Tawergha. Less than four years after NATO attacked Libya, Bernadino Leon, the United Nation’s special envoy to Libya, says the country is “close to the point of no return.”

Perhaps as many as two million Libyan refugees have fled to Tunisia, though the exact figure is in dispute. In November, militants claiming affiliation with ISIS secured control of the Libyan city of Derna, where they have carried out public executions and assassinated activists.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-disaster-in-libya/

Gaza families live in rubble of their bombed homes

By Patrick O. Strickland and Ezz Zanoun
Source: Electronic Intifada
February 14, 2015

Deeb al-Aajleh, photographed above, has survived every Israeli war on Palestinians since the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

“I came back first and am the only one living on the first floor,” he explained. “Now my son and his children are moving back in on the second floor. It’s very difficult — there’s no electricity or water. We cannot cook or keep warm.”

The al-Aajleh family — originally from Jaffa, but displaced to Gaza in 1948 — had been waiting for financial assistance from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees.

Yet due to a budget shortfall, UNRWA last month halted aid to thousands of Gaza families like al-Aajleh’s whose homes were damaged or destroyed last summer. “We have had enough of our homes being destroyed,” al-Aajleh said. “Enough bullets, enough missiles.”

Approximately 2,257 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed in the summer onslaught, according to the UN monitoring group OCHA. More than 338,000 Palestinians were displaced, says the humanitarian coordination body Shelter Palestine.

“Nothing is improving:”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/gaza-families-live-in-rubble-of-their-bombed-homes/

Chomsky - The World of Our Grandchildren

By Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian
Source: Jacobin Magazine
February 14, 2015

Jacobin is proud to feature an interview with journalist David Barsamian and Professor Noam Chomsky. In it, Chomsky explains the roots of ISIS and why the United States and its allies are responsible for the group’s emergence. In particular, he argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq provoked the sectarian divisions that have resulted in the destabilization of Iraqi society. The result was a climate where Saudi-funded radicals could thrive.

The interview also touches on Israel’s most recent massacre in the Gaza Strip, putting it in the context of the vital role Israel has always played for the United States. Chomsky then turns to today’s racist scapegoating of Guatemalan immigrants, tracing the conditions that lead them to leave their homes to the Reagan administration’s brutal destruction of the country.

Finally, Chomsky shares his thoughts on the growing movement for climate justice and why he thinks it is the most urgent of our time. The full exchange will be broadcast by Alternative Radio.

Transcript: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-world-of-our-grandchildren/

Organize for Venezuela

By Michael Albert
Source: teleSUR English
February 14, 2015

............Second, also good, but very scary, in truth Venezuela is far more of a danger to the masters of war and purveyors of greed than Vietnam ever was. There are many reasons for this. Vietnam had considerable Tungsten but Venezuela has a whole lot of oil. More important, Venezuela is far better integrated into its local sector of the world, and indeed with gorwing connections of great depth throughout Latin America, than Vietnam was in Asia, so the good example of extrication threatens to spread much more easily in Venezuela’s case. But perhaps most of all, Venezuela is not just about escaping U.S. domination. No, Venezuela has been trying and to some degree succeeding, in being a good example for everyone, everywhere, in terms of domestic innovations as well. That is, Venezuela has been trying, and to some degree succeeding, in moving institution by institution, toward real public participation – toward enriched democracy and even self management for its populace – and toward a revamping of economics and kinship and culture all seeking and to a considerable degree attaining gorwing levels of equity, justice, and solidarity. This is hugely unpardonable. Councils? Communes? Imagine Washington contemplating that. Seriously they are seeking to build WHAT? This must be made invisible. This must be reversed.

Of course media lies like crazy to keep it all invisible, and they do this precisely because if the public were to understand that the Bolivarian movement hasn’t trampled democracy but has expanded it – that it hasn’t trampled equitable distribution but has promoted it – that it hasn’t diminished dignity but enlarged it – their eyes would examine the reality rather than the media falsehoods, and with that examination, the good example, the dangerous example, would spread. And what a receptive audience is emerging in Southern Europe!

So the U.S. media keeps lying about Venezuela to hold things in check, and the U.S. government and corporate elites world wide keep trying to stall and reverse the trends by squeezing economically. And then they even try to overthrow the Venezuelan government as a step toward repressing its social movements and annihilating its good example. But whenever coups fall short, which is sad from the point of view of the masters of war, these sadistic devils do not waste time weeping. No, they continue to try to polarize the Venezuelan public, to try to scare them, to try to intimidate them, to try to economically cajole them, and to try to ensure that around the world everyone thinks it is all the Bolivarians’ fault, until Venezuelans, desperate, make choices that will undermine their prospects of being a really threatening example, such as centralizing authority, utilizing force, etc.

...........U.S. tactics, in other words, are not narrow and simpleminded, nor do they have an expiration date. The masters of war certainly like to win big in a swooping violent thrust – yes, thank you, they might say. Good for war contractors. But mainly, good for scaring the shit out of those who might want to get uppity. So they will try bombs if they can, and, if the balance of forces precludes that, as so far it has and I suspect it will continue to, then they will try and try again to engineer a coup. They will do this by supporting thuggish allies within Venezuela, by spreading tool of violence to those thugs, and, even more so and most importantly, as once in Chile to overthrow Allende, by pummeling the society with economic pressure and blaming the ensuing immensely hurtful dislocations on the Bolivarians, of course, so that the broad public will grow tired, grow angry, and become more easily subdued. That is what current, recent, and past U.S. policy, since Chavez told the U.S. to go to hell, have been about.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/zcommentary/organize-for-venezuela/

Key points in Ukraine peace deal

By Staff Writers, teleSUR
Friday, Feb 13, 2015

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L, front), Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (2nd R, front), Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R, front) and France's President Francois Hollande (2nd L, front) walk during peace talks in Minsk, Feb. 11, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

With past agreements having failed to bring lasting peace, leaders hope this new agreement will stop the violence.

Ukrainian, German, French and Russian leaders reached a cease-fire deal Thursday to stem fighting between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels in the country's East, which has left over 5,000 people dead.

1. Immediate cease-fire in areas under control of rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which will take effect at midnight local time on Feb. 15, 2015.

2. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe will monitor the cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, which should occur within 14 days.

3. Heavy weapons with a caliber greater than 100 millimeters to be withdrawn in order to create a 50-kilometer safe zone.

4. On the day following troop withdrawal, discussions will be held to organize local elections in the area under rebel control, in accordance with Ukrainian law and the self-governing law approved in rebel-held areas in 2014.

5. A law providing pardons and amnesty that will prohibit the prosecution and punishment of people in connection to actions undertaken in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk shall be approved.

6. Parties are to guarantee the release and exchange of hostages and illegally-held prisoners, which should occur by the fifth day of the withdrawal.

7. The supply of humanitarian aid through international channels is to be guaranteed.

8. Determine the necessary conditions for the restoration of socioeconomic relations, including social services such as pensions.

9. Re-establish Ukrainian control of the Russian-Ukrainian border by the end of 2015.

10. Withdrawal of all foreign troops and the disarmament of all illegal armed groups under the supervision of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

11. Constitutional reform with the aim of the decentralization of power in Ukraine by the end of 2015.

12. The organization of local elections in the Donestsk and Lugansk regions shall be done in cooperation with representatives from the regions and will follow norms established by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

13. Increased effort by Russia, France, and Germany to ensure the peace agreement is carried out.


A German Broadcaster’s Gutter Journalism about Venezuela

By Joe Emersberger
Source: teleSUR English
February 13, 2015

.....DW shows part of El Universal’s front page for February 4, 2015, and below the snapshot tells readers “the front page of ‘El Universal’ has become a mouthpiece for government ministers.“ Had DW shown the entire front page, people who could read Spanish would notice that one of the headlines was “Merchants Reject Interventions.” That headline was for an article that conveyed only the views of the Caracas Chamber of Commerce about the government’s crackdown on practices allegedly responsible for shortages. The business group “warns that the crisis will deepen if rights are not respected,” according to El Universal’s report.


Like countless inaccurate (or deliberately dishonest) articles about Venezuela that appear in the international media, DW cites Reporters without Borders and Human Rights Watch (HRW) to supports claims that “journalists have taken to censoring themselves out of fear.”

Reporters without Borders applauded two years of very brutal dictatorship in Haiti that followed a U.S.-perpetrated coup in 2004 as a big step forward for press freedom. HRW very recently declared the United States to be “the most powerful proponent of human rights.” HRW can’t see a problem with the revolving door it has with U.S. government officials, and it is happy to have Javier Solana, a man who should be prosecuted for war crimes on its board for many years.

I am sometimes tempted (only tempted and only sometimes I should stress) to cut corporate journalists a tiny bit of slack for distorting Venezuela’s economic situation. Reporters may lack the confidence to challenge what big credit rating agencies and many establishment economists say. But even in that case, the global meltdown of 2008/2009, which exposed most “experts” in economics as incompetent or worse, should have taught reporters to cite them much more skeptically and to diversify their sources. Regarding Venezuela’s media, there is absolutely no excuse for spreading lies. Any reporter who is honest, hardworking and courageous enough to break from the media herd should be able to report accurately. Anybody can read newspapers and watch TV.

Recently, a former editor of a major German newspaper said he planted stories written for him by the CIA. I’m skeptical of the prevalence of that kind of corruption. I’ve discussed in the past why I believe even honest corporate journalists will spread lies. I don’t think Jan D. Walter’s article was written by the CIA, but it might as well have been.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/a-german-broadcasters-gutter-journalism-about-venezuela/

Not surprising to see who is bent on distortions and lies regarding Venezuela. It all plays into the same agenda. Sickening.
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