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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 10,804

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Millions Mobilize As General Strike Brings Spain To Standstill

Millions Mobilize As General Strike Brings Spain To Standstill
By Jérôme E. Roos


Source: Roarmag.orgFriday, March 30, 2012

Millions of Spaniards are walking off their jobs today in a massive general strike and a series of protest marches against the proposed austerity budget and labor reforms of Prime Minister Rajoy’s 4-month old conservative government. As the Spanish debt crisis deepens — at 23 percent, unemployment is the highest in the Western world — financial markets and EU leaders are demanding even more far-reaching reforms and austerity measures than in Greece.

As a result, the Spanish government is set to vote tomorrow on Europe’s most dramatic austerity budget, with another 40 billion euros expected to be cut on top of 15 billion in cuts already announced three months ago. The austerity measures come after a series of radical labor reforms enacted last month that make it much easier for employers to lay off workers, cut wages and modify pre-existing labor agreements.

Owing to the profound unpopularity of these measures, labor unions claim a massive participation of 85-90 percent, with industry and transport most heavily affected. Many large cities ground to a halt as trains and buses only run at 30 percent of capacity, picketers blocked access to stations, and hundreds of protesters occupied a major access road to Madrid. Riot police were deployed in a desperate attempt to allow large main street shops to open.

A city that runs on itself

A city that runs on itself

by Patrick Condon

Published Mar 28 2012 by Our World 2.0, Archived Mar 28 2012


This article is part of a series published by The Tyee and authored by professor of landscape architecture Patrick Condon of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, drawing from the book A Convenience Truth: A 2050 Plan for a Sustainable Vancouver.

The research and future-focused design was done by 17 students in the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning.

What happens when you ask 14 landscape architecture and three planning students to cut the energy use and consequent greenhouse gas (GHG) production in the city by at least 80 percent — by 2050? How is this to be done?

We started by looking at the city of Vancouver as it is now, finding the places where energy use was high and where it was low, and trying to understand why.......

On To The Next War!

On To The Next War!

By Saul Landau

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) want war with Iran and refuse to learn lessons from the futile wars this country has perpetrated since US troops landed in Korea in 1950.

They begin with “facts not in evidence,” as lawyers say. “The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world, including particularly the U.S., and its destabilizing consequences are not containable.” Huh?

The Iranian government denies it has a weapon or is close to getting one. Both the International Atomic Energy Agency and American intelligence agree with the Iranian assessment. Ironically, even Israeli intelligence concurs.

Compare their bellicosity with Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Cleric’s remarks: “the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.”

Happy World Water Day !

"There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.

When a billion people in the world already live in chronic hunger and water resources are under pressure we cannot pretend the problem is ‘elsewhere’. Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:"


World Water Day: What’s your water footprint?

...."And, the average water footprint for a Canadian is 6,392 litres a day — that’s the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services we consume.

Here’s the down low on H2O:

70 per cent of the world’s water is used for agriculture

1,755 litres of water required to make one sausage.

160 litres of water is used to produce one large banana

230 litres of water are used to make one 200-ml glass of apple juice.

1,040 litres of water are used for 1 kg of potato chips

50 litres of water is used to produce one tomato; about 530 litres to produce 1 kg of tomato ketchup

500 litres of water goes into producing 100 grams of cheese

1,260 litres of water goes into one margherita pizza

120 litres of water is used to make a 125-ml glass of wine

74 litres of water is used to make a 250-ml glass of beer

30 litres of water is required to grow enough tea leaves to make a single cup of tea

30 percent of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted every year.

50 per cent reduction of food losses and waste at the global level would save 1,350 cubic kms of water a year. (By comparison, the volume of Lake Ontario is 1,640 cubic kms.)

Sources: United Nations, Canada Water Week, Water Footprint Network and One Drop"


Statement: Challenging the World Water Forum to protect water from corporate control
Statement by Shayda Naficy, Senior Organizer, Challenge Corporate Control of our Water

For Immediate Release:
March 12, 2012

Christine Chester, 617-695-2525
Sarah Holzgraf, 011-33-637850670

This week, the World Water Forum (WWF) will convene representatives of the water industry, other major corporations and government officials in Marseilles to shape international water policy such that it prioritizes for-profit models of water delivery, and profit-oriented allocation of the world’s most essential resource. At the same time, over 2000 people from global civil society will be converging on Marseille to challenge the official forum and propose an alternative, democratic space for policymaking. The World Water Forum and its illegitimate declarations are being used to undermine recent advances in the recognition of the human right to water at the United Nations, and to promote commercialization of water in development goals and commitments.

While water for domestic purposes is a recognized human right, today nearly 900 million people lack consistent, safe access. Corporate control and management has proven a failure in addressing this tragic shortfall, instead diverting the investment dollars and political will required to reverse this global crisis.


Occupy World Street – a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform: review

Review of what sounds like a very interesting book.


Published Mar 19 2012 by Feasta, Archived Mar 19 2012
Occupy World Street – a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform: review
by John Jopling

The political/economic system, which Jackson calls the Empire, both within countries and globally, is run for the benefit of the rich. That truth is, in my experience, seldom recognised by writers with expertise in economic and environmental fields comparable to that of this author.

The conclusion at the end of the first half of the book is that the present economic system lacks any concept of limits to growth. “That system is driving our planet to ruin and must be replaced by a new economic system that is more in line with science and the real needs of people.” This, Jackson asserts, will require “completely new international institutions to regulate law, trade, environmental protection and real development in the developing countries.” And as the existing institutions are incapable of reform, “We must begin with a clean slate. We must design new institutions to deal with international finance that respect the needs of all states on a more equal basis. This must include better control of destabilising international speculation, and a critical review of the role of the US dollar, which is a major pillar supporting the Empire’s power structure”. And at the domestic level, safeguards are required to prevent a takeover by elements (commercial companies, for example) whose interests are not aligned with the vast majority.

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

Capitalism: A Ghost Story
By Arundhati Roy

Source: OutlookIndia.comTuesday, March 20, 2012


Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “Pay your respects to our new Ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I had read about this most expensive dwelling ever built, the twenty-seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the six hundred servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn—a soaring, 27-storey-high wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches; bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, Trickledown hadn’t worked.

But Gush-Up certainly has. That’s why in a nation of 1.2 billion, India’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP.

The word on the street (and in the New York Times) is, or at least was, that after all that effort and gardening, the Ambanis don’t live in Antilla. No one knows for sure. People still whisper about ghosts and bad luck, Vaastu and Feng Shui. Maybe it’s all Karl Marx’s fault. (All that cussing.) Capitalism, he said, “has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, that it is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells”. .........

Food as a Commodity

Food as a Commodity
By Fred Magdoff

Source: Monthly ReviewTuesday, March 20, 2012


However, there is a critical contradiction when any basic human need is produced and sold as a commodity, whether we are considering food, health care, drinking water, or shelter. Capitalism naturally produces a stratification of wealth that includes the unemployed, the working poor, a better-off working class, a middle class, and a relatively small group of very rich individuals. The bottom strata of society—encompassing the members of what Marx called the reserve army of labor—are absolutely essential to the smooth working of the system. It allows easy access to labor when the economy expands and helps keep wages down, as workers are aware that they can easily be replaced.1 Even in a wealthy country such as the United States the numerous unemployed and those in low-paying jobs cannot afford all of their basic living costs—rent, electricity, transportation (irrational patterns of development plus inadequate public transportation means that cars are frequently needed to get to work), clothes, medical care, food, etc.

In some parts of the global South, of course, conditions are far worse. The commodity nature of food results in food price levels far above many people’s meager means, producing a lack of adequate nutrition. The United Nations estimates that there are close to one billion people worldwide who suffer from malnutrition. This leads to severe health problems and death for millions. Food deprivation, though falling short of severe malnutrition, is still a very serious condition. Hence, a sense of injustice associated with rising food prices and unequal access to food was a major factor spurring revolts in the Arab world over the last year.

Because food products are commodities, and the whole point of the food/agriculture system is to sell more and make more profits, there is massive advertising surrounding food, especially the most profitable sector—processed foods. High caloric but low nutritional-value foods, such as sugary breakfast cereals, are pushed on children. And because these processed foods are relatively inexpensive and available at local convenience stores that often do not carry higher quality food like fruits and vegetables, the commodity nature of food is part of the explanation for the surge in obesity, especially among the poor.

......However, the only way to guarantee that food reaches all people in sufficient quantity and quality is to develop a new system that considers food a human right and no longer considers it a commodity. Only then will we be able to fulfill the slogan, “Food for People, Not for Profit.”

No Justice Without Peace

No Justice Without Peace

By David Swanson

Source: Warisacrime.orgMonday, March 19, 2012


"The Military Industrial Complex is a banker bailout every year.
It's over a trillion dollars a year through various departments and as much as all other nations' militaries combined. It's over half of federal discretionary spending every year. And that's not counting the sales to foreign democracies and dictatorships that make the United States the top weapons supplier to the globe and allow our military the odd distinction of fighting most of its wars against weapons produced in the Homeland formerly known as our own country. But it IS counting the weapons we give to other countries. Yesterday even the Washington Post said we should stop arming Egypt. It made no mention of Israel. And it IS counting the transformation of our local police forces into mini-militaries. With due respect to Mayor Bloomberg the NYPD is not the seventh largest military in the world, but it thinks it is. And we don't get the trillion dollars a year back. In fact, we borrow it and pay interest on it, hollowing out our economy, creating a giant trade deficit with China, keeping interest rates super low, and periodically crashing Wall Street and bailing it out. And when we have big wars we borrow and spend more money on top of the standard budget. The trillion dollars is to make us ready in case we have a war, but then the war costs are extra.".....

Losing Fear

Losing Fear

By Robert Fisk and Paul Holmes

Source: TVNZMonday, March 19, 2012

A short time ago, about an hour ago, I spoke to Robert Fisk, Middle East expert, Middle East historian, author and columnist with Britains Independent newspaper, in Beirut, and I asked him about that suicide bombing overnight and the troops said to be massing outside Damascus. What did he make of it?

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