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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,581

Journal Archives

The Real Purpose of International Aid to Haiti

By Yves Engler

Source: Counterpunch

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Step one for everyone trying to make the world a better place should be listening to those they wish to help.

This is certainly true in the case of Haiti, a longtime target of Canadian ‘aid’. But, while Haitians continue to criticize Ottawa’s role in their country, few Canadians bother to pay attention.

After Uruguay announced it was withdrawing its 950 troops from the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti last month, Moise Jean-Charles, took aim at the countries he considers most responsible for undermining Haitian sovereignty. The popular senator from Haiti’s north recently told Haiti Liberté: “Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are not the real occupiers of Haiti. The real forces behind Haiti’s military occupation — the powers which are putting everybody else up to it — are the U.S., France, and Canada, which colluded in the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’etat against President Aristide. It was then they began trampling Haitian sovereignty.”

For the vast majority of Canadians Jean-Charles’ comment probably sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person. When the media in this country focuses on Haiti, it is typically to highlight Canadian aid projects. Yet, here is one of Haiti’s most popular politicians telling the press (and audiences throughout South America) that Canada helped overthrow its elected government and continues to undermine its sovereignty.

Jean-Charles’ opinion is not uncommon in Haiti. Since Aristide’s government was overthrown in February 2004, Haiti Progrès and Haiti Liberté newspapers have described Canada as an “occupying force”, “coup supporter” or “imperialist” at least a hundred times. Haiti’s left-wing weeklies have detailed Ottawa’s role in planning the coup; destabilizing the elected government; building a repressive Haitian police force; justifying politically motivated arrests and killings; militarizing post-earthquake disaster relief; pushing the exclusion of Haiti’s most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participating in elections.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-real-purpose-of-international-aid-to-haiti-by-yves-engler.html

More Than A Plate of Food: Food Houses Serve Examples and Hopes of Life

By Mariana Serrano

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Although 18 people are living in the house, 100 plates of food are served daily at lunch. The house number is 83, which is barely enough to identify itself in the middle of a row of homes that line the street of the first alleyway in the area. The house has been converted to guarantee that one hundred people receive a plate of “hot and very tasty” food, prepared by the hands of women of the house who comprise the Liendo family.

The alarm sounds at 4:00 in the morning. Mrs Zaida Liendo is up first and her colleagues follow behind her: her daughters and granddaughters. Seasonings, vegetables and meats are chopped, and the assembled food is a balanced diet with a nutritional content equal to almost 50% of the caloric requirement of a person for a day. It's work that occupies at least seven hours a day.

From Monday to Friday, the women of the Liendo family prepare an amount of food equivalent to 100 plates of food a day, for a total of 500 servings per week and 2,000 per month.

This Friday, recognition from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO is its English abbreviation) reached the house of Mrs Liendo. This year the same organisation awarded Venezuela for its fight against hunger. For Mrs Liendo, having assumed the responsibility to help with her seasoning and dedication, there's a personal sense of satisfaction and a commitment to the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez.

“After my comandante died, I felt a greater commitment to this. Because he was a humanitarian, because he wouldn't allow his people to starve, because he, out of his heart would have given me and my family one or one hundred plates of food,” she said with the same certainty that her tears came with.

Full Article:


On the Road to Pushkar

Every fall, a small band of nomadic Indian traders descend on Rajasthan's great camel bazaar to sell their herd and buy new stock.


In November 2012, Hukuma Ram made the trek to the Pushkar with a group from his village, their many camels in tow. It took them nine days of walking through countryside and roads to reach their destination. It was not an easy journey; they often struggled without enough water or food and there were days when they did not eat at all. But they could not miss the holy pilgrimage to Pushkar Mela, the great camel fair.

Ram is Rabari, a nomadic people whose culture centers around their relationship to the camel. Each year, for five days around early November, camel traders bring some 20,000 camels from their villages to Puskar, a town in Rajasthan, India, for the Pushkar Mela where they buy and sell their camels, participate in religious ritual and celebration. This year's Pushkar Mela, which begins on Nov. 9 and lasts through Nov. 17, will see crowds of upwards of 200,000 people.

Above, Ram stands beside his camel, Ropal. Ram first started working with camels when he was 15 years old, learning the trade from his father and grandfather. Ram has 15 camels of his own; he uses the females primarily for milk and the males for transport and plowing his patch of land where he grows vegetables. "It's a hard, tiring life caring for our camels," he said, "but I love them."

Last fall was Ram's 20th consecutive year coming to Pushkar Mela. He went to both buy and sell. He remembered the first time he came to Pushkar when there were only as many as 12,000 camels and there was plenty of grass for camels to eat. In recent years, he's noticed that the grazing land is disappearing and traders now have to purchase food for their camels. Ram worried that Mela has become too commercial, that it has lost its sense of close-knit community.
Still, he said, "If camels are happy, we are happy."


Sorry if I posted this in the wrong place, I just thought the photos are so gorgeous.

Last moments of Lac-Mégantic: Survivors share their stories

Last moments of Lac-Mégantic: Survivors share their stories

The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Nov. 28 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Last updated Friday, Nov. 29 2013, 5:42 PM EST

Amazing stories and photos.



Inside the oil-shipping free-for-all that brought disaster to Lac-Mégantic


The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Dec. 02 2013, 6:00 AM EST
Last updated Monday, Dec. 02 2013, 3:17 PM EST

A shortage of oil pipelines in North America had created a new kind of railway industry traversing the continent. In just a few years, tankers carrying crude oil from the resource-rich West had grown from a mere 8,000 in 2009 to nearly 400,000, and Lac-Mégantic is located along one of the main routes to refineries in the East.

Despite this extraordinary boom in oil shipments, there was no change in regulatory oversight, or added safety measures, governing these veritable pipelines on wheels passing through hundreds of small towns across the country.

Related video: From the U.S. to Lac-Mégantic: Inside the massive growth of oil by rail

There were no new rules affecting the chain of 72 crude-laden tankers that barrelled toward the Quebec town on the night of July 6 – the same train that would explode in the worst rail disaster in modern Canadian history. The railway was not required to formulate a plan to deal with catastrophe, in the event the crude train derailed.

Such strategies, known as Emergency Response Assistance Plans, are the primary safeguard against materials designated as dangerous that move through communities. Though these plans are required for shipping everything from chlorine to gasoline, they do not apply to crude – even though regulators had ample opportunity to make that change. For years, Ottawa never saw crude, even in mass quantities, as such a dangerous product.



The deadly secret behind the Lac-Mégantic inferno

The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 03 2013, 5:31 AM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 03 2013, 10:14 AM EST

Emergency crews ran for cover when they heard the noise, as they fought blasts of burning oil during the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. The kettle-boil scream meant one thing: Oil vapours were shooting out of a derailed tank car and another fireball was about to rip from the broken train.

It wasn’t until four days after the July 6 derailment that the fires finally subsided. But even before the inferno was extinguished and the burned-out town counted its 47 dead, rescue workers and rail, petroleum and government officials were asking the same troubling question: Why was the oil so explosive?

The North Dakota crude that levelled Lac-Mégantic was classified as flammable, a long-standing practice for all oils moved by rail. Hazardous material experts and rail officials interviewed by The Globe and Mail say the risks of exploding crude were not scrutinized until the tragedy.



How Lac-Mégantic has left towns more resentful of rail’s power

The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 04 2013, 5:10 AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 04 2013, 5:36 AM EST

The tracks bisect the town. The hospital lies on one side, the fire station on the other. Over the past five years, as the oil boom escalated and more and more bitumen from Fort McMurray was shipped by rail, the oil trains grew long enough to block all the town’s railway crossings for extended periods of time.

“We’ve had blockings up to 45 minutes,” Mayor Aurel Langevin said. “If we have an ambulance that’s waiting to get to the hospital and it’s caught up in this traffic, there could be some very serious consequences.” And what is now a few trains a day will likely increase. “We’ve received some notice, some forecasts , that we can expect up to eight trains a day coming through our community – eight trains of 100 cars or more,” the mayor said.

One might think the town would have the ability to tell the railway to manage the crossings better. But the plight of Lac La Biche illustrates the problems that cities and towns face in dealing with railways in their own backyard: They have no power.



Meet the Woman Who Waged an Artistic War Against Her Street Harassers

Brooklyn oil painter Tatyana Fazlalizadeh got fed up with dudes invading her space. So she started telling them so—very publicly.
—By Nina Liss-Schultz | Wed Nov. 27, 2013 3:00 AM GMT

For many women, just walking down the street can mean being subject to harassment by men—from subtle comments to overtly hostile remarks. Back in 2012, fed up with such treatment, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, an oil painter by trade, decided to speak out: She produced an illustrated self-portrait with a caption—"Stop Telling Women To Smile"—and plastered copies all around her Brooklyn neighborhood. Since then, Fazlalizadeh has created countless posters, literally taking to the street to combat sexist harassment. Each piece features a different woman, with a caption that reflects her own experiences with public harassment. With $35,000 raised on Kickstarter, Fazlalizadeh has now taken her project, named after that first caption, on the road. In January, after traveling to Chicago and Boston to interview women there about how they experience public space, she'll be heading to the West Coast.

MJ: Yes, I've noticed that many of your poster subjects are women of color. Did you intend that as your focus?

TF: Not necessarily the focus, but it was important to have these images and voices in this project. I'm a woman of color. I've lived in black neighborhoods all of my life, and most of the time I get hit on in my neighborhood—and mostly by black men. And so I wanted to have my specific experience and my perspective on street harassment out there. I also feel like this is a feminist issue and is going to be a part of a feminist conversation, and I wanted images of women of color in that conversation—feminism historically has left us out. And I'm learning more about how race is a part of street harassment, and how the differences between what a woman looks like and who she is affects how she is treated outdoors. So black women, Mexican women, Indian women, mixed women and their stories have been part of the series, and as the project continues there will be even more diversity. There'll be queer women, trans women, all of these women who have different perspectives.

Full article: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/11/tatyana-fazlalizadeh-artist-street-harassment-stop-telling-women-smile

Something unique and powerful, I congratulate women like these who really are fighting back and affecting the disparity women do face daily. Education in a very real and public way, it's great to see.

aaand, as usual I messed up the title - fixed!

I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me

After meeting India's "sumangali girls," I'll never look at cute, cheap clothes the same way again.

—By Dana Liebelson | Fri Nov. 29, 2013 3:00 AM GMT

Aruna, 19, recalls that her bosses at the mill “said that we would get less work if we slept with them.” All photos by Redux

Aruna, a 19-year-old nurse I met in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a lot like some of my friends in Washington, DC—bright, single, self-assured, loves her job. She speaks quickly and eloquently, not stopping to drink her tea and hardly ever even pausing to breathe. When I first meet her in Coimbatore, a city known for its textile industry, she is on her lunch break, wearing her freshly starched white uniform and a traditional red bindi dot on her forehead.

In Tamil Nadu, many people know a girl like Aruna, someone who has been lured to work in the garment factories with the promise of earning a dowry. The scheme is so common that it even has a name: sumangali, the Tamil word for "happily married woman." A 2011 report by the Dutch watchdog groups Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and India Committee of the Netherlands found that sumangali factories employed an estimated 120,000 workers, some as young as 13, and supplied dozens of international companies, including Gap (which denied the allegation), H&M, American Eagle Outfitters, and Tommy Hilfiger.

In the garment industry the world over, it is common for workers to be locked into exploitative conditions until they fulfill contracts. But in India, the dowry tradition—which persists even though it's officially illegal—makes teenage girls especially vulnerable to these schemes. In part because of this, India has comparatively strong child labor regulations: It's illegal for children younger than 14 to work in factories there, and all workers must be paid double for overtime. Enforcing those laws, however, is another matter. Factories go to great lengths to cover up illegal practices. (Aruna recalls that when inspectors would come—she didn't know whether they were government or company auditors—factory supervisors would shove the younger girls into a special wing. If they were found, they were told to say that they were 18.)

And workers themselves hardly ever report abuse, in part because many come from lower castes, including the dalit, or untouchables. "People don't take up these issues with factory management because they are afraid of losing income and afraid of possible retaliation because they are in a vulnerable position in society," says Heather White, a fellow at Harvard's center for ethics who has researched global clothing supply chains. In her interviews with factory workers, she says she heard about "numerous cases of sexual harassment, which normally in the factory worker context means rape."

Full article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/india-garment-factories-sumangali

K&R. nt

You need to broaden the scope of your reading material a bit, when it comes to these drones, imho.

By Medea Benjamin

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


On October 29, the Rehman family—a father with his two children—came all the way from the Pakistani tribal territory of North Waziristan to the US Capitol to tell the heart-wrenching story of the death of the children’s beloved 67-year-old grandmother. And while the briefing, organized by Congressman Alan Grayson, was only attended by four other congresspeople, it was packed with media.

Watching the beautiful 9-year-old Nabila relate how her grandmother was blown to bits while outside picking okra softened the hearts of even the most hardened DC politicos. From the Congressmen to the translator to the media, tears flowed. Even the satirical journalist Dana Milbank, who normally pokes fun at everything and everyone in his Washington Post column, Example: covered the family’s tragedy with genuine sympathy.

The visit by the Rehman family was timed for the release of the groundbreaking new documentary Example Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation. The emotion-packed film is filled with victims’ stories, including that of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, a peace-loving, soccer-playing teenager obliterated three days after attending an anti-drone conference in Islamabad. Lawyers in the firm pose the critical question: If Tariq was a threat, why didn’t they capture him at the meeting and give him the right to a fair trial? Another just released documentary is Wounds of Waziristan, a well-crafted, 20-minute piece by Pakistani filmmaker Madiha Tahir that explains how drone attacks rip apart communities and terrorize entire populations.

Just as the visit and the films have put real faces on drone victims, a plethora of new reports by prestigious institutions—five in total—have exposed new dimensions of the drone wars.

Full article and more on the Global Drone Summit November 16-17 in Washington DC: http://www.zcommunications.org/drones-have-come-out-of-the-shadows-by-medea-benjamin.html

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

License to Kill, released by the Geneva-based group Al Karama

Adding to these well-researched reports by non-governmental organizations are two documents commissioned by the United Nations. One is by Christof Heyns, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The other is by Ben Emmerson, the special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.



Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA nominee John Brennan was briefly postponed to clear the room of activists from CODEPINK after they repeatedly disrupted Brennan’s testimony. One woman held a list of Pakistani children killed in U.S. drone strikes. Former U.S. diplomat Col. Ann Wright interrupted Brennan while wearing a sign around her neck with the name of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Wright and seven others were arrested. We speak to CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin, who also disrupted the meeting and recently visited Pakistan to speak with victims of drone strikes. "It’s not only the killing, it’s the terrorizing of entire populations, where they hear the drones buzzing overhead 24 hours a day, where they’re afraid to go to school, afraid to go to the markets, to funerals, to weddings, where it disrupts entire communities," Benjamin says. "And we are trying to get this information to our elected officials, to say, 'You are making us unsafe here at home,' to say nothing of how illegal, immoral and inhumane these policies are."

JOANNE LINGLE: 178 children killed by drones in Pakistan. And Mr. Brennan, if you don’t know who they are, I have a list. I have a list with all the names and the ages.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: All right, I’m going to—we’re going to halt the hearing. I’m going to ask that the room be cleared and that the CODEPINK associates not be permitted to come back in. Done this five times now, and five times are enough.

"Go to Sleep or I Will Call the Planes"

—By Adam Serwer| Wed Apr. 24, 2013 6:01 AM PDT

A week ago, activist Farea al-Muslimi was live-tweeting the aftermath of a drone attack on his childhood village of Wessab in Yemen. Monday, he was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the legality and impact of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. It was the first time Congress has heard from a witness with anything close to first-hand experience with being on the receiving end of a drone strike.

"Women used to say go to sleep or I will call your father," Muslimi said. "Now they say go to sleep, or I will call the planes."

Last week's strike killed Hameed al-Radmi, described by the US government as an Al Qaeda leader, and four suspected militants. But Muslimi told the Senate that Radmi had recently met with Yemeni government officials, and could easily have been captured, rather than killed in a strike that alienated everyone in the village.

"ll they have is the psychological fear and terror that now occupies their souls," Muslimi said of the residents of Wessab. "They fear that their home or a neighbor's home could be bombed at any time by a U.S. drone." President Obama received some backup from an unlikely source—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has spent the last week criticizing the Obama administration for handling the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in civilian court. Graham said although he would prefer to capture terror suspects, Yemeni officials couldn't be trusted to apprehend them. "The world we live in is where if you share this closely held information you're going to end up tipping off somebody," Graham told Muslimi.

Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/yemen-drone-strikes-senate-hearing


“Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many. Children have no place in war and all parties should do their utmost to protect children from violent attacks at all times.” Sarah Crowe UNICEF

US: Strikes Kill Civilians in Yemen Youtube video by Human Rights Watch

Remote Killing of Civilians

The US has used armed drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and recently in the Phillipines. Over 200 children have already been killed in these strikes since 2004. See The Bureau of Investigative Journalism


Cease deadly drone strikes that kill civilians in Pakistan.


"Real people are suffering real harm" but these civilian deaths by drones are being mostly ignored by governmental oversight agencies and also by the news media according to James Cavallaro of Stanford University, one of the authors of a study by Stanford and NYU in the report, "Living Under Drones". The results of this recent study reported on Sept. 25, 2012 concludes that only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders. Up to 884 civilians, including 176 children have been killed in Pakistan since 2004 due to drone strikes.

Voices From the Drone Summit:
On one occasion, Hale located an individual who had been involved with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The man was riding a motorcycle in the mountains early in the morning. He met up with four other people around a campfire drinking tea. Hale relayed the information that led to a drone strike, which killed all five men. Hale had no idea whether the other four men had done anything. Hale had thought he was part of an operation protecting Afghanistan. But when the other four men died – a result of “guilt by association” – Hale realized he “was no longer part of something moral or sane or rational.” He had heard someone say that “terrorists are cowards” because they used IEDs. “What was different,” Hale asked, “between that and the little red joy stick that pushes a button thousands of miles away”?

I learned all kinds of things. We were told that a lot of people killed by drones were people who would have been very easy to capture. We got examples of young men who were travelling and had just passed a checkpoint, and a mile after they were killed by a drone. Or people who were living right outside the capital city, Sana’a, and maybe would have turned themselves in to figure out why the US wanted to kill them, but they had no way of knowing.

The two drone strikes in November show that these attacks don’t just kill and maim individuals. They also blow up peace talks. They weaken democratically elected governments. They sabotage bilateral relations. They sow hatred and resentment.



Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

by Ellen Hodgson Brown / November 27th, 2013

“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. ”Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.


Message to Canada's Infinito Gold: Drop your outrageous billion-dollar lawsuit against Costa Rica

Joint Media Release
November 21, 2013

Calgary – More than 4,500 people in Canada, Costa Rica, and around the world are sending a message to Infinito Gold CEO John Morgan during the Canadian mining company’s annual shareholders’ meeting today in Calgary. They are asking that Infinito drop its $1-billion investment lawsuit against Costa Rica under the 1999 Canada-Costa Rica Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

Calgary-based Infinito is suing the Costa Rican government for over $1 billion because it rejected the company’s plan to build an open-pit gold mine in a tropical forest. Canadian organizations including MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers, Sierra Club Canada, Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL), the Council of Canadians, the United Steelworkers (USW), the Polaris Institute, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), have called on Infinito to drop its threat of international arbitration three times already this year, with no response.

MiningWatch Canada spokesperson Jamie Kneen says, “This case is another example of the damage corporations can do using investment protections in free trade and investment agreements to try and override the will of small, eco-conscious nations like Costa Rica. Yet the Canadian government continues to promote the entrenchment of corporate ‘rights’ in new trade and investment treaties like the new agreements with Honduras, China, the EU, and the countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

According to opinion polls, over 75% of Costa Ricans oppose Infinito’s project. In 2011, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court re-affirmed a presidential decree banning open-pit metal mining in the country. The Supreme Court of Costa Rica has denied the company permission to proceed with the open-pit gold mine on three occasions (2010, 2011, and 2013). In fact, Costa Rican authorities have indicated that Infinito owes Costa Rica some $10 million for damage already done to 300 hectares of tropical forest. The company has yet to pay.


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