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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,471

Journal Archives

Swaziland: Born HIV-free


1.Girly, Musa and Dudu
–– Swazi stories
With 26 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49 HIV–positive, Swaziland is the country with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world. This animation tells the stories of people affected by the disease.

In Swaziland, where more than 40 per cent of pregnant women are HIV–positive, an innovative approach is being rolled out to keep mothers healthy and babies HIV–free.

Swaziland: MSF rolls out innovative medical approach to prevent mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission

Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their children is an essential step in curbing the disease’s epidemic in Swaziland.

Since February 2013, an innovative approach, commonly referred to as PMTCT B+ (prevention of mother-to-child transmission, option B+), is being rolled out by Médecins Sans Frontičres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Ministry of Health in the Nhlangano area, in the south of the country. It aims to place 2,000 HIV-positive pregnant women on treatment over the next four years, as soon as possible after their diagnosis. So far, more than 200 women have joined the programme.

Why Didn’t Arab ‘Civil Society’ Discuss Human Rights at IGF?

Posted 30 October 2013 13:00 GMT

At no point during the 90-minute session did panelists mention how Saudi Arabia recently jailed seven activists for organizing protests on Facebook. Nor was there comment on how Kuwait jailed a writer for tweets ‘defaming’ an ex-prime minister. The Whatsapp message of “Sisi is more criminal than Bashar” on the phone of a Jordanian, that sent him to a state security court under charges of “disrupting relations with foreign countries,” went under the radar. And so did the arrest of an Algerian blogger for posting a caricature mocking the Algerian President on Facebook. There was no discussion of why Bahrain was named “enemy of the Internet” in 2012 (a Bahraini blogger was tortured in Bahrain). There was no comment on the popular online magazine editor who was arrested in Morocco for publishing an article about an Al-Qaeda video.

Panelists did not go over recently proposed legislation in Qatar and Kuwait which targets and incriminates online freedoms of speech. They did not touch on new media laws in Jordan that require sites to seek governmental approval before launching, a policy that has resulted in the blocking of over 200 websites. Nor did they broach Saudi Arabia’s plans to connect Twitter accounts with a national identification card. They did not speak of the countless old-school unregulated acts of online censorship in Bahrain and Oman.

It was only at the very end of the panel, during the question and answer period, that attendees from Jordan and Morocco were able to break the problematic facade created by the panel. Addressing the Arab League representative, we questioned the evidence of the feel-good concept of “multistakeholderism” in states that incriminate online expression. The Arab League representative insisted that civil society was more present on the panel than governments, but the absence of civil society representatives attending the panel left this narrative unchallenged. In an attempt to conclude the discussion, the representative exclaimed, “how can I give you internet freedoms if you are threatening my national security?”

It was depressing to to see that while Latin American countries and Indonesia are developing data protection and privacy laws to protect online users’ privacy and right of access, the Arab world is still debating online freedom of speech. It was also astonishing to see how the presence of civil society alliances (on a local level like in Indonesia, or a regional like in Latin America and East Asia) across panelists and audience members prevented governments or enterprises from spreading propaganda without contestation.

Full Article: http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/10/30/why-didnt-arab-civil-society-discuss-human-rights-at-igf/

Yelling and Fist-banging at UN Review of Uzbekistan's Torture Record

Posted 30 October 2013

The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 1995, but torture remains a “systematic practice” in the country according to a recent report . As the UN anti-torture committee met to review Uzbekistan's implementation of the CAT, Steve Swerdlow (@steveswerdlow) tweeted live from Geneva.

Below are just some of Swerdlow's tweets, indicating that the Uzbekistani authorities prefer to deal with allegations of torture, forced sterilization of women, and use of ‘slave labor’ to harvest cotton primarily through yelling, screaming, and insulting experts:

Selected tweets:

Steve Swerdlow @steveswerdlow
Head of #Uzbek govt: "We don't care that European Ct of Hum Rts has repeatedly found torture in #Uzb is systematic. We are an Asian country"

Steve Swerdlow @steveswerdlow
Head of #Uzbekistan delegation again screaming and yelling at Committee against Torture experts.

Steve Swerdlow @steveswerdlow
#Uzb official categorically declares: "The issue of the #Andijan massacre of 2005 is closed for us. We will never return to this issue!"

Steve Swerdlow @steveswerdlow
#Uzbek official screaming at top of his lungs at internationally respected experts on torture-Good strategy to deflect from damning evidence


Justice for "Liz"

Liz is a poor young 16 year old teen who was walking home from her granddad’s funeral. She was ambushed by a group of six young men who took turns to brutally rape her and then toss her unconscious body down a deep toilet sewerage pit. Liz was able to pick at least three of the abusers out of a line up. Of course the boys were punished – they had to mow a lawn at the police station and then let go!!! Is this justice??!!!

The rape was so brutal that Liz now requires a wheel chair to get around. When toss in the sewer, her back was broken. She also has internal injuries that cause her to leak urine and stool. She has sustained very severe injuries and the perpetrators are back out on the streets to commit the crimes all over again. The Police Commander Halima Mohamed is investigating into why the officers responded to this case as they did. When the girl was discovered by passersby and brought to her mother, police told the woman to clean up Liz “so that the vital forensic evidence would be destroyed” and not used against the suspects! This is indeed very shocking and unbelievable.

People of Kenya are outraged because these kids and the police who seemed to condone their actions have yet to be brought to justice. The police failed this young girl as they have many other similar cases. Because of the lack of Kenya laws deterring sexual assault and punishing the abusers, the acts continue on a regular basis.

Reports are that rapes have escalated to about 338 rapes this year compared to the same time in 2011 where there were 297 reported cases and 232 incidents in 2012. The numbers are estimated to be much, much higher because many situations go unreported. Raped children are 78 percent of those incidents. As long as there are no repercussions for the rapes by these abusers, it will not cease. Officials and Kenya’s Coalition on Violence Against women are working to change the laws; get laws enacted against such abuse and find justice for victims like “Liz” who will never have a normal life again! On top of it, she is also denied justice!

Full article and petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/552/997/081/justice-for-liz-tell-kenya-to-prosecute-16-year-olds-rapists/?z00m=20657366

My apologies, I didn't see this thread by niyad: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11383171

Global Wealth Inequality: Top 1% Own 41%; Top 10% Own 86%; Bottom Half Own Just 1%

By Michael Roberts

Source: Michael Robert’s Blog

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just 8.4% of all the 5 billion adults in the world own 83.4% of all household wealth (that’s property and financial assets, like stocks, shares and cash in the bank). About 393 million people have net worth (that’s wealth after all debt is accounted for) of over $100,000, that’s 10% own 86% of all household wealth!

But $100,000 may not seem that much, if you own a house in any G7 country without any mortgage. So many millions in the UK or the US are in the top 10% of global wealth holders. This shows just how little two-thirds of adults in the world have – under $10,000 of net wealth each and billions have nothing at all.

This is not annual income but just wealth – in other words, 3.2 billion adults own virtually nothing at all. At the other end of the spectrum, just 32 million people own $98 trillion in wealth or 41% of all household wealth or more than $1 million each. And just 98,700 people with "ultra-high net worth" have more than $50 million each and of these 33,900 are worth over $100 million each. Half of these super-rich live in the US.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/global-wealth-inequality-top-1-own-41-top-10-own-86-bottom-half-own-just-1-by-michael-roberts.html

Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Apartheid

By Norman Finkelstein

Source: Normanfinkelstein.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finkelstein comments: The European Journal of International Law has published a landmark article by John Dugard and John Reynolds entitled “Apartheid, International Law and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” (2013). Dugard is the leading authority on the legal aspect of South Africa’s apartheid regime, and is also a respected international jurist. Below are some highlights from the article.

Today it is clear that security is at best a secondary justification for the wall. Its primary purpose is the annexation of land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that accommodates Jewish settlements…. Israel’s wall and its associated infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints reveal an intention to impose a system of permanent enclaves in which residence and passage are determined by racial identities–within the context of the occupation while it persists, and ultimately facilitating the annexation of large swathes of the West Bank. This will leave for Palestinians, at best, the possibility of a Bantustan-type state in the remaining reserves. (p. 900)

The West Bank, for Palestinians, is…reduced to a series of dismembered enclaves. (p. 901)

The only inference that can be drawn from the institutionalized and systematic regime of inhuman acts and discrimination (unashamedly premised on an ideology of entitlement) towards the Palestinian people is that Israel intends to secure the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians. (p. 911)

Israel leaves the welfare of the occupied people to international donors and has created a cycle of aid dependency. Israel’s lack of regard for the needs of the Palestinian people stands in contrast to the action taken by South Africa’s apartheid regime to improve material living conditions in the Bantustans it created. (p. 911)

A system of apartheid has developed in the occupied Palestinian territotry. Israel practices in the occupied territory are not only reminiscent of–and in, in some cases, worse than–apartheid as it existed in South Africa, but are in breach of the legal prohibition of apartheid. (p. 912)

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/israel-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-and-apartheid-by-norman-finkelstein.html

Malala and Eartha Kitt: Words that Matter

By Richard Falk

Source: Richardfalk.com

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Of course, so long as Malala’s exploits validated an anti-Islamic and pro-American slant, it is a no brainer to celebrate her achievements, even lamenting the oversight by the Nobel Prize selection committee, and generally commend a campaign that wants to see girls everywhere empowered by education. The harder part is being able to listen to a critical comment that touches on a life and death issue such as the terror wrought by drones in Pakistan. In my view, for Obama to ignore that part of Malala’s message is to dishonor her visit, and exploit it for his own public relations purposes! It is somewhat odd that Obama failed to listen to Malala whole message. After all, only recently did the United States Government announce that it is ceasing drone attacks on Pakistan due to the adverse reactions among Pakistanis. Obama seemed able to listen to Medea Benjamin a few months ago when she disrupted his drone talk at the National Defense University. Obama might have used this occasion to acknowledge that he was listening and heeding the cries of anguish coming from distant communities facing the terrorizing threats of drone warfare, but then again, I should know better. Our warrior presidents always seem afraid of appearing weak if they show the slightest compassion for the victims of our militarism, while proudly standing tall while weeping over the bodies of those victimized by the enemy as in relation to the recent.

Malala’s experience reminded me of another White House event 45 years earlier. Eartha Kitt, a beloved African American singer who whispered her sensual lyrics into the microphone, earning her the alluring label of ‘sex kitten,’ was invited to the White House as one of fifty prominent women to discuss the rise of urban crime among American youth with the President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, Ladybird. It was January 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War, which was casting a dark shadow over the LBJ’s presidency, so much so that he would shock the country a few months later by decreeing a bombing pause in the war and announcing his completely unexpected decision not to seek a second presidential term in office. When Eartha Kitt was given the opportunity to speak a few words she seized the moment, saying what any reasonably sensitive person well understood, that there were connections between sending young Americans off to risk death in a senseless war and the alarming drug/crime scene in the country’s cities. But for the mostly white and august women at this White House luncheon it was a shocker. The rest of the guests, apparently without exception, were reported to react in “embarrassed silence” to what the NY Times condescendingly described as “an emotional tirade against the war.” Worse yet, Ladybird Johnson was “stunned” and “in tears,” presumably realizing that her ‘do good’ luncheon had collapsed before the desert had even been served. This smart Texas First Lady was personally bold and liberal, inviting popular cultural figures such as Eartha Kitt along with her more reliably loyal cohort to discuss a national issue. But what does Eartha Kitt do, but spoil the occasion by refusing to play along, and treat urban crime as some sort of domestic disorder that could be delinked from the Vietnam War. Such delinking was absurd, considering that it was the poor and minorities who were doing most of the fighting and dying in Vietnam.

Eartha Kitt’s comments at the White House luncheon are worth recalling: “You send the best of the country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the streets. They take pot…and they will get high. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.” Perhaps, not the most eloquent statement, but it was authentic, replete with genuine feelings. She was made to pay dearly for these words of truth telling. In a chilling aftermath, Eartha Kitt’s career came virtually to an end. Many contracts to appear at clubs were cancelled, few new opportunities for performances or recordings emerged, her career was severely damaged, if not destroyed. Nothing was forthcoming from the White House in her defense. To her credit, despite these cruel pressures and harsh backlash, Eartha Kitt never backed down, never apologized.

I connect Malala and Eartha Kitt in my mind because both seized the moment to speak truth to power, probably sensing that it meant they would never be invited back, and for Eartha Kitt it was worse than that. It seems almost certain that neither of these fearless women would have been invited in the first place if their intentions to speak out had been known in advance. America is a democracy so long as its dirty laundry is kept from public view, but when such obvious moral failures as the Vietnam War or drone attacks are exposed, the response from on high is one of shocked hurt, anger, or at best, silence and deflection. Revealingly, for Earth Kitt the response was vindictive, but for Malala it is likely to be one of moving on, ignoring the drone comment, and refocusing on the liberal part of her mission as a crusading advocate of education for women as a matter of right (while suppressing the more radical part that condemns warmaking and military intervention). Happily for the White House, the media played along, emphasizing how Malala giggled like a young and innocent adolescent when she met the queen in Buckingham Palace a few days later.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/malala-and-eartha-kitt-words-that-matter-by-richard-falk.html

Inequality Is a Choice

By Joseph Stiglitz

Source: New York Times

Monday, October 21, 2013

And Europe seems all too eager to follow America’s bad example. The embrace of austerity, from Britain to Germany, is leading to high unemployment, falling wages and increasing inequality. Officials like Angela Merkel, the newly re-elected German chancellor, and Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, argue that Europe’s problems are a result of a bloated welfare spending. But that line of thinking has only taken Europe into recession (and even depression). That things may have bottomed out — that the recession may be “officially” over — is little comfort to the 27 million out of a job in the E.U. On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerity fanatics say, march on: these are the bitter pills that we need to take to achieve prosperity. But prosperity for whom?

Asymmetric globalization has also exerted its toll around the globe. Mobile capital has demanded that workers make wage concessions and governments make tax concessions. The result is a race to the bottom. Wages and working conditions are being threatened. Pioneering firms like Apple, whose work relies on enormous advances in science and technology, many of them financed by government, have also shown great dexterity in avoiding taxes. They are willing to take, but not to give back.

Inequality and poverty among children are a special moral disgrace. They flout right-wing suggestions that poverty is a result of laziness and poor choices; children can’t choose their parents. In America, nearly one in four children lives in poverty; in Spain and Greece, about one in six; in Australia, Britain and Canada, more than one in 10. None of this is inevitable. Some countries have made the choice to create more equitable economies: South Korea, where a half-century ago just one in 10 people attained a college degree, today has one of the world’s highest university completion rates.

For these reasons, I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/inequality-is-a-choice-by-joseph-stiglitz.html

Mean Tweets - Musician Edition

Critics assail Monsanto as winner of World Food Prize

by Gavin Aronsen @garonsen

October 18, 2013 12:00PM ET

Prestigious award’s legitimacy called into question by some, while others say genetically modified food feeds the world

Often hailed as the Nobel Prize of food, the World Food Prize has received as much attention this week for its ties to industrial agriculture and genetically modified (GM) crops as it has for honoring those who feed the world’s poor. The prize has been a lightning rod for international criticism since June, when it announced as one of its laureates Robert Fraley, an executive at the biotech corporation Monsanto, which has been at the center of a number of controversies over GM crops. Fraley shared the honor with Syngenta scientist Mary-Bell Chilton and Plant Genetic Systems co-founder Marc Van Montagu, fellow pioneers in the development of high-yield GM crops resistant to disease, pests and harsh climates.

“To me, from a PR perspective, it was a bad decision to have all three of the recipients of the award from the corporate world,” said Frederick Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames. “They should have expected this was going to raise serious questions about whether or not they were giving the impression that the solution (to fighting hunger) is just intensifying industrial agriculture.”

Wielding influence

From 1999 to 2011, Monsanto donated $380,000 (PDF) to the World Food Prize Foundation in addition to a $5 million contribution in 2008 to help renovate the Hall of Laureates, a public museum honoring Borlaug. The donations have prompted accusations that Monsanto essentially bought Fraley’s award — a charge denied by the foundation

The foundation’s other major advocates and funders, which include the United States government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have supported the modern equivalent of the industrial agriculture model that ushered in the Green Revolution in the 1960s. Borlaug won the Nobel Prize for his work fighting famine in the developing world before the advent of GM crops through large-scale, single-crop farming techniques similar to those promoted by Monsanto. These techniques, critics argue, reduce biodiversity and require excessive use of pesticides while focusing too little on local food systems.

Full article: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/18/critics-assail-monstanoaswinnerofworldfoodprize.html

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