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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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Journal Archives

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.

Since 2011, Libya has been ripped apart, its social fabric torn asunder and its state structure largely absent. Nato’s bombardment precipitously destroyed the state and handed over the country to warring militias.

The threat to the refugees is a direct outcome of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, ironically under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) banner. A new UNSC resolution is not going to be about the protection of the refugees, but to use force to destroy their lifeline. R2P has been ground under by the West’s behavior in Libya.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/trapped-in-libya-the-flotsam-of-the-wests-wars/

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/

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.


Canadian man killed in Amtrak train derailment

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:09PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 13, 2015 11:27PM EDT

One of at least seven people killed in an Amtrak train derailment Tuesday was a Canadian.

He has been identified as Abid Gilani, a senior vice-president with Wells Fargo in New York.

A relative says he was heading home from a funeral when the derailment occurred.

Diane said she heard about the train crash early Wednesday. Concerned for her husband, she got in her car to drive to Philadelphia, and was just outside the city limits when she was told she was needed for identification.


So horrific for all who were killed, injured and involved in this. Very sad.

Bombardier layoffs in Montreal, Toronto, Belfast

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, May 14, 2015 7:04AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 14, 2015 11:04AM EDT

Bombardier Business Aircraft has announced it is cutting 1,750 jobs, including 1,000 in Montreal and another 480 in Toronto.

The Montreal-based company said that current economic conditions and political turmoil in Russia, China, and Latin America have impacted the entire industry and has meant the company has had to reduce production of its largest business jets, the Global 5000 and Global 6000.

Masluch added that, despite the layoffs, the rest of Bombardier's business jet models continue to perform well.

"We've delivered the most business aircraft in Q1. So overall, our outlook is still very strong," he said from Montreal.
Bombardier has been struggling with sales of its large business planes in key emerging markets such as Russia, China and Brazil. Jet sales in Russia had been booming, but slowed after oil prices plunged and Canada, the U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.


This Solar Road Generates Enough Electricity To Power An Entire Household For A Year

May 14, 2015 by John Vibes

As we reported several months ago, a bike trail in Amsterdam was fitted with an operational solar roadway. Now a new press release has indicated that the solar road is working out even better than expected, and generating even more energy than expected.

Sten de Wit, spokesman of SolaRoad, said that the road has far exceeded their expectations.

“We did not expect a yield as high as this so quickly. The bike road opened half a year ago and already generated over 3,000 kWh. This can provide a single-person household with electricity for a year, or power an electric scooter to drive of 2.5 times around the world. If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70 kWh per square meter per year, which we predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year,” he said.

In addition to providing energy, the panels also work as a road surface. Since the opening, more than 150.000 cyclists crossed SolaRoad.

It all started with Scott and Julie Brusaw who created the one-of-a-kind road surface using solar panels in 2010.


Bad News For SeaWorld: 103-Year-Old Orca Recently Spotted Thriving In The Wild

May 12, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

As you might be aware, the release of controversial documentary BlackFish did nothing to gain the the marine park new supporters, and in the wake of several lawsuits recently filed in the US, a growing number of concerned citizens are joining in the boycotting of SeaWorld until it either closes down, or improves the treatment of its orcas.

Of course, SeaWorld denies mistreating its whales, and is adamant that in captivity the orcas live longer, healthier lives than they might in the wild.

But since a 103-year-old orca was spotted thriving off the western coast of Canada, some of the ‘facts’ SeaWorld has stated to allay public concern no longer hold true – and this is a big problem for the marine park.

Why is this such bad news for SeaWorld?

Quite simply, because SeaWorld has made previous claims that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live.” With Granny as a living example – albeit a rare one – of how long orcas might be capable of thriving in the wild, the average whale’s life expectancy of only 20 -30 years in captivity (according to SeaWorld) is now being perceived as unacceptable.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation project, whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old on average. Perhaps it is because the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages that they experience such reduced lifespans.

Full article: http://www.trueactivist.com/bad-news-seaworld-103-year-old-orca-spotted-thriving-wild/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TrueActivist+%28True+Activist%29

Your call to customer service can make or break my paycheck

By Anonymous. Anonymous
Source: The Guardian
May 12, 2015

Your call is very important to us. It’s a trite phrase, but to the customer service representative on the other end of the line it’s actually true – just not in the way you think. Your call, as well as the 50-60 other calls I will take in any given shift, could make or break my paycheck and budget.

Customer service jobs typically pay just above minimum wage per hour. I have worked as a customer service representative for several companies over the last 5 years and my hourly wages have amounted to $18,000-$21,000 per year. But hourly wages aren’t why anyone takes a job working in call centers. We are seduced by recruiters promising a pot of gold at the end of the month in the form of a performance-based pay bonus. This arrangement, known as “pay for performance”, can add several hundred dollars a month to our paycheck. But its a very precarious way to make ends meet.

One of the most important performance metrics is handle or resolution time. This is the number of seconds you are on the phone with me, from the moment I greet you to the moment you hang up. Handle time is something almost every rep is measured on because, if we can each shave 2-3 seconds off of it and drop our department-wide average, the company will save tens of thousands of dollars. It may sound easy, but it’s not. One long call with a particularly needy customer, and your handle time for the day is toast.

There are other metrics I must meet in order to obtain a monthly bonus. Have you ever wondered why customer service reps can be so quick and efficient at resolving your problem and then suddenly try to sell you something while you’re still feeling all warm and fuzzy? The things I sell to you when you call in with a problem help pay for my job: managers often refer to it as earning our keep, because the things we sell to you offset the cost of maintaining a customer service department. This doesn’t mean we necessarily get commission for what we sell you, but we are required to offer you our products in every phone call. If no-one is buying, we may not get our bonus.

More: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/your-call-to-customer-service-can-make-or-break-my-paycheck/

Yemen’s War Is Redrawing the Middle East’s Fault Lines

Published on
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
by Foreign Policy In Focus

Saudi Arabia's ongoing war in Yemen does more to highlight the kingdom's isolation than its power.

byConn Hallinan

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, bereft of resources, fractured by tribal divisions and religious sectarianism, and plagued by civil war.

And yet this small country tucked into the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula is shattering old alliances and spurring new and surprising ones. As Saudi Arabia continues its air assault on Yemen’s Houthi insurgents, supporters and opponents of the Riyadh monarchy are reconfiguring the political landscape in a way that’s unlikely to vanish once the fighting is over.

The Saudi version of the war is that Shiite Iran is trying to take over Sunni Yemen using proxies — the Houthis — to threaten the Kingdom’s southern border and assert control over the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait into the Red Sea. The Iranians claim they have no control over the Houthis and no designs on the Strait. They maintain that the war is an internal matter for the Yeminis to resolve.

The Saudis have constructed what at first glance seems a formidable coalition consisting of the Arab League, the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Turkey, and the United States. Except that the “coalition” isn’t as solid as it looks — in fact, it’s more interesting for whom it doesn’t include than whom it does.

Long-time Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk says the Saudis live in “fear” of the Iranians, the Shia, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, U.S. betrayal, Israeli plots, even “themselves, for where else will the revolution start in Sunni Muslim Saudi but among its own royal family?”

That “fear” is driving the war in Yemen. It argues for why the U.S. should stop feeding the flames and instead join with the European Union and demand an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and a political solution among the Yemenis themselves.

More: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/05/12/yemens-war-redrawing-middle-easts-fault-lines

German Firestorm Rises about Angela Merkel’s Lies

by Eric Zuesse / May 11th, 2015

The news-report further says: “Publicly, the Federal Government still gives the impression, a no-spy deal will come. Regarding the status of the negotiations, the Government refers to the confidentiality of the talks.” In other words: this lie continues, and “the talks” are imaginary — that’s just another lie from the Chancellor’s office.

The next day, on Saturday May 9th, Der Spiegel headlined, “Lüge über No-Spy-Abkommen: SPD fordert Erklärung von Kanzleramt,” or “Lie about No-Spying Agreement: SPD demands Explanation from the Chancellery,” and Spiegel revealed that Merkel’s chief official who was handling this matter had said just days before the 22 September 2013 parliamentary elections: “Clearly, for electoral reasons, an untruth must be told.”

On Sunday, May 10, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, a normally pro-Merkel magazine, bannered, “No-Spy-Abkommen: SPD wirft Kanzleramt Täuschung vor,” or “No-Spying Agreement: SPD accuses Chancellery of deception,” and reported that the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party, and the Left Party all intended to raise the issue of this ongoing lie by the nation’s leader in the coming political campaign season.

Already, Spiegel had run a major news story, on May 4, “America’s Willing Helper: Intelligence Scandal Puts Merkel in Tight Place,” detailing instances in which the Obama Administration and the George W. Bush Administration before it, had used this snooping in order to obtain commercial advantage for U.S.-based firms against firms that are based in Germany. For example: “By 2010 at the latest, the Chancellery had received indications that the NSA had attempted to spy on European firms, including EADS, the European aerospace and defense company that is partly owned by German shareholders.” Moreover, “It appears that the terms of the agreement were largely forgotten,” or, at any rate, they were ignored by the U.S. Government — and this still is the case.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/german-firestorm-rises-about-angela-merkels-lies/

Ahead of Proposed Ceasefire, Saudi Arabia Pummels Yemen with Heavy Bombing

Published on
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
byCommon Dreams

Escalating airstrikes come as humanitarian crisis mounts and UN official warns 'Hundreds of thousands of people across Yemen are struggling to meet their basic needs'

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Children play near damaged buildings in the Al-Ora's neighborhood of Zinjibar. (Photo: UNHCR/A.Al-Sharif)

Just hours before a five-day humanitarian ceasefire is set to take place, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday pummeled Yemen with airstrikes, hitting the capital Sanaa and the southern port of Aden, according to witnesses.

Backed by Washington, the bombings are in-step with escalating attacks in the lead-up to the planned temporary truce. On Monday, the coalition launched fresh airstrikes on Sanaa, reportedly killing at least 90 people and wounding 300, in one of the deadly such attacks since the air war began on March 26.

The latest barrage comes amid mounting concerns that the ongoing bombings by the Saudi-led coalition, in addition to a naval blockade, are creating an increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the country as supplies of food, water, and medicine dwindle.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Tuesday that it has delivered a shipment of aid to the Yemen port of Hodeida in hopes of delivering it during the planned ceasefire, with more shipments slated to follow if the truce holds.

Arriving in Sanaa on Tuesday, the new United Nations envoy to Yemen, Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, declared that there is no military solution to the country's crisis. "We are convinced there is no solution to Yemen's problem except through a dialogue, which must be Yemeni," he reportedly said.

More: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/05/12/ahead-proposed-ceasefire-saudi-arabia-pummels-yemen-heavy-bombing

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