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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 20,582
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By Paul Buchheit
Source: Common Dreams
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
In this dream world of global capitalism, young people are going from zero income on the farm to a few dollars a day on a 12-hour factory shift, and as a result, based on the World Bank's poverty threshold of $1.25 per day, they're no longer "in poverty." So the media piles on praise for free markets. The Economist proclaimed that "poverty is declining everywhere." The Washington Post gushed that "a billion people have been lifted from poverty through free-market competition."
But the reality is very different. Inequality continues to grow, both between and within countries. Poverty levels haven't changed much in 30 years, with almost half of humanity, up to three billion people, living on less than $2.50 a day. A quarter of the world's children - over 170 million kids under age five - are growing up stunted because of malnutrition.
It may be time to update the company's quote: "We don't have an obligation to solve the world's problems."
Even if there were no obligation to help solve the world's problems, there IS an obligation to pay for global energy consumption and infrastructure usage and industrial pollution. Yet a review of 25 multinational companies shows clear negligence in meeting that responsibility. The 25 companies, with almost a half-trillion dollars in 2011-12 income, paid just 8% in taxes to the U.S. and 9% to foreign countries. A 35% tax -- paid to ANY country or countries -- would have generated another $90 billion over two years, four times the amount needed to battle malnutrition.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-globalization-of-hypocrisy-by-paul-buchheit
Posted by polly7 | Thu May 23, 2013, 10:13 AM (0 replies)
By Jérôme E. Roos
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In recent weeks, European leaders somewhat belatedly seem to have become mightily interested in the issue. Italy’s new Prime Minister Enrico Letta called youth unemployment the most serious problem facing his country and called for an EU plan to “combat” it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, flag-bearer of the European austerity movement, similarly considers youth unemployment to be “Europe’s biggest challenge.” Meanwhile, a new campaign by Big Think somewhat naively asks “what’s causing youth unemployment and what can fix it?”
The real reason European leaders are suddenly so concerned about youth unemployment — while they remain unmoved by the plight of Greek AIDS patients, for instance, who now can’t get their anti-retroviral drugs — is simply that they are terrified by the prospect of social unrest. As the New York Times reported today, “it is clear that policy makers are seriously worried that millions of frustrated young job seekers pose as much of a threat to the euro zone as excessive government debt or weak banks.” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble literally admitted that “We will have to speed up in fighting youth unemployment, because otherwise we will lose the support, in a democratic way, in some populations of the European Union.” What they fear, in other words, is a continent-wide youth uprising. At its worst, their plans to “fix” youth unemployment serve to distract us from the obvious class dimension at play, promoting the illusion that the social crisis we face is just a series of economic problems that can be fixed without radical changes to the political status quo.
The inconvenient truth is that unemployment is an integral element of the neoliberal policy response to the crisis pursued by the European Union and the IMF. This, in itself, is nothing new. IMF austerity programs in the developing world have long involved dramatic reductions in wages and rises in unemployment. Careful quantitative analysis of the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s has shown that “the most consistent and statistically significant impact of Fund programs in Latin America … was the reduction in labor share of income.” Even official IMF studies recognize that its austerity programs “boost unemployment and lower paychecks.” Most importantly, the authors of a 2011 IMF report, Painful Medicine, conclude that austerity causes not just short-term but “particularly long-term unemployment.”
In other words, asking for austerity measures without youth unemployment is like insisting on the medieval practice of blood-letting without the blood-loss. It is not only brutal, but also practically impossible. Austerity and unemployment are like Siamese twins, conjoined at the hip, designed to strengthen and reinforce one another. As long as the EU and IMF keep imposing these highly destructive adjustment measures, unemployment will keep on rising. The only genuine “solution” to unemployment, therefore, would be to break free from the shackles of austerity and to default on the foreign debt. This is the reformist vision pursued by SYRIZA in Greece, and despite the lack of revolutionary imagination of this quasi-Keynesian approach, there is certainly something to be said for it from a humanitarian point of view.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/why-europe-can-t-just-fix-youth-unemployment-by-j-r-me-e-roos
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 15, 2013, 08:41 AM (2 replies)
In a Paraguay slum, a children's orchestra makes do with what it's got—with inspiring results.
—By Zaineb Mohammed | Mon May. 13, 2013 2:30 AM PDT
Close your eyes and listen to Juan Manuel Chavez launch into the Prelude of Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, and you would never guess that, instead of spruce and maple, his instrument is crafted from an old oil can, a beef tenderizing tool, and a discarded pasta making device—all of it scavenged from the landfill that surrounds his home in Paraguay.
Chavez is a cellist in the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra in Cateura, an Asunción slum where bottle caps, door keys, and paint cans have been given new purpose. Under the supervision of local musician Favio Chávez, these utterly impoverished kids make beautiful music on instruments constructed almost entirely out of materials reclaimed from the dump.
Filmmaker and Asunción native Alejandra Nash first heard about the phenomenon back in 2009, and decided to produce a documentary about the kids—she and her co-producers are aiming for a 2014 release. She'll have plenty of support. The teaser she posted online last November quickly went viral, with 2 million views on Vimeo, and nearly 1 million on Youtube. It's inspiring. Check it out...
Now her project's Facebook page has more than 125,000 likes. And a Kickstarter campaign Nash launched in April to help fund the film's completion has raised almost $200,000, well over the $175,000 she'd asked for. Beyond funding post-production work, the additional money will help finance a world tour for the orchestra, and an expansion of what has come to be known as the Landfill Harmonic Movement.
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 15, 2013, 08:34 AM (2 replies)
May 15 marks the commemoration of Nakba Day. The Nakba, which means "the catastrophe" in Arabic, refers to the forcible expulsion of 700,000-800,000 Palestinians from their land in the time leading up to and following the creation the state of Israel in 1948. Contrary to claims that the Palestinians decided to leave, author and journalist Ben White points out that "those who left did not do so of their own volition." The cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine was part of deliberate strategy on the part of Zionist leaders. According to University of Exeter Professor Ilan Pappe, "Zionist leaders decided that the best means of making the vision of a Jewish Palestine possible was by forcefully dispossessing the Palestinians from their homeland."
The Israeli army prevented a march to mark the 65th anniversary of Nakba, May 14, 2013.Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of hundreds of thousands of their brethren from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948.
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 15, 2013, 01:51 AM (0 replies)
By Ben Anderson
When he had finished, the elders raged about the bombings, saying that the Taliban were often far away by the time the bombs were dropped, that security was getting worse, and that more civilians would soon start joining the Taliban if things didn’t change. “Life has no meaning for me anymore,” said one man. “I have lost 27 members of my family. My house has been destroyed. Everything I’ve built for 70 years is gone.”
Metal containers were brought in, placed on tables in front of the group, and opened. The elders were given bricks of 500-afghani notes, signing for them by dipping their right thumbs in ink and making prints. They received roughly $2,000 for each family member killed.
“I lost 20 people, and I was given 2 million afghanis ,” said one man. “It was before 12:30 at night, when your forces came to our area. They were involved in a fight, but the Taliban retreated. Later, a jet came and dropped bombs on our house. Two rooms were destroyed. In one of the rooms, my two nephews and my son were there. My son survived. I rescued him from the debris. Six of my uncle’s family were in the other room. All became martyrs. They were buried under the soil. I moved the children away and came back to rescue those under the debris. While we were trying to do that, the children were so frightened they started running away. The plane shot them one by one.
“All we want is security, whether you bring it or the Taliban. We are not supporting war. We support peace and security. If you bring peace and security, you are my king. If they bring security, they are our kings.”
Full Article: http://www.vice.com/vice-news/this-is-what-winning-looks-like-part-1
For more misery and hopelessness from Afghanistan, watch Ben Anderson’s new film, This Is What Winning Looks Like, airing this Wednesday on VICE.com.
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 15, 2013, 01:19 AM (0 replies)
Lethality Beyond the Pale
By Nick Turse
Monday, May 13, 2013
In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.
This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.
Iranian cities -- owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities -- are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, “Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,” published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region.
Its scenarios are staggering. An Israeli attack on the Iranian capital of Tehran using five 500-kiloton weapons would, the study estimates, kill seven million people -- 86% of the population -- and leave close to 800,000 wounded. A strike with five 250-kiloton weapons would kill an estimated 5.6 million and injure 1.6 million, according to predictions made using an advanced software package designed to calculate mass casualties from a nuclear detonation.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/nuclear-terror-in-the-middle-east-by-nick-turse
Posted by polly7 | Mon May 13, 2013, 08:54 AM (3 replies)
By Ramzy Baroud
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Considering the rampant corruption and Bangladeshi's dire need for foreign funds which are partly secured through the $20 billion (£13bn) per year industry, expectations are low that the government will do much to right this ongoing injustice.
Attempts at unionizing garment factory workers have not been successful. Respected workers' rights activist Aminul Islam was reportedly harassed by the police, had his phone tapped and "domestic intelligence agents once abducted and beat him," reported the New York Times last September.
When he disappeared for few days on April 4 last year there was a general understanding of who might have been the culprit.
Days later his body was discovered. He had been tortured to death. His small office once stood amid towering buildings - some surely constructed without permit.
Full Article - http://www.zcommunications.org/the-pain-of-bangladesh-t-shirts-made-with-blood-and-tears-by-ramzy-baroud
Posted by polly7 | Sun May 12, 2013, 10:04 AM (0 replies)
—By Tom Philpott
Wed May. 8, 2013
Last week, the European Commission voted to place a two-year moratorium in most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides, on the suspicion that they're contributing to the global crisis in honeybee health (a topic I've touched on here, here, here, and here). Since then, several people have asked me whether the Europe's move might inspire the US Environmental Protection Agency to make a similar move—currently, neonics are widely used in several of our most prevalent crops, including corn, soy, cotton, and wheat.
Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/05/7-dodgy-foodag-practices-banned-europe-just-fine-here
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 8, 2013, 12:02 PM (3 replies)
40 years of blunt, simple, and often goofy contraception ads —Text by Hannah Levintova/Photos from National Library of Medicine
Just a few months ago, a Michigan state representative was banned from speaking on her own legislature's floor after saying "vagina." In Virginia, a squeamish lawmaker simply called it "V." This year, several states also enacted laws mandating that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes, bringing to 26 the total number of states with such policies. Meanwhile, Todd "legitimate rape" Akin schooled us in medieval biology. 'Nuff said.
Somehow, we've arrived at a place where euphemisms are preferable, ignorance is tolerated, and politicians are seeking to turn back the clock on a woman's right to dictate the terms of her personal and professional future.
So, in recognition of World Contraception Day, we put together this slideshow. Pulled from archives at the National Institutes of Health, these vintage contraception ads from around the globe date back as far as 1969. They tell it like it is—with humor, a few tacky hairdos, and a bluntness that will surely please anyone who's tired of the talk-arounds.
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 8, 2013, 11:57 AM (0 replies)
Jamie Choi - Avaaz.org <firstname.lastname@example.org>
4:39 AM (1 hour ago)
Hundreds of Bangladeshi women have been burned or crushed to death while making *our* clothes! In days, major fashion companies could sign an agreement that will either be a strong safety code or a weak PR ploy. If 1 million of us get the CEOs of H&M and GAP to back a life-saving code, the rest will follow:
We've all seen the horrific images of hundreds of innocent women burned or crushed to death in factories while making our clothes. In the next few days we can get companies to stop it happening again.
Big fashion brands source from hundreds of factories in Bangladesh. Two brands, including Calvin Klein, have signed a very strong building and fire safety pact. Others, led by Wal-Mart, have been trying to wriggle out of signing by creating a weak alternative that was pure PR. But the latest disaster has triggered crisis meetings and massive pressure to sign the strong version that can save lives.
Negotiations end in days. H&M and GAP are most likely to flip first to support a strong agreement, and the best way to press them is to go after their CEOs. If one million of us appeal directly to them in a petition, Facebook pages, tweets, and ads, their friends and families will all hear about it. They'll know that their own and their companies' reputations are on the line. People are being forced to make *our* clothing in outrageously dangerous buildings -- sign on to make them safe, and forward this email widely:
The recent tragic collapse fits a pattern. In the last few years, fires and other disasters have claimed a thousand lives and left many others too injured to work. Bangladesh's government turns a blind eye to dismal conditions, allowing suppliers to cut costs to make clothes at a pace and price that global fashion giants expect. The big brands say they check up, but workers say the companies' own audits can't be trusted.
The worker-backed safety agreement calls for independent inspections, public reports about supplier factory conditions, and mandatory repairs. It’s even enforceable in courts of the companies’ home countries! Full details of which companies were buying from the factory that collapsed weeks ago aren't yet known, and there's no evidence H&M or Gap did so. But workers have died in other H&M and GAP supplier factories in Bangladesh and getting them onboard now would put tremendous pressure on other companies to follow.
The companies are making up their minds right now. Let’s call on the CEOs of H&M and GAP to lead the industry by signing the safety plan. Sign your name then share this email widely -- once we reach 1 million we’ll take out ads that they can’t miss:
Time and time again, Avaaz members have come together to fight corporate greed and support human rights. Last year, we helped 100 Indian workers safely return home when a Bahraini corporation refused to let them leave. Let's now take a stand to stop the deadly race to the bottom in factory safety.
With hope and determination,
Jamie, Jeremy, Alex, Ari, Diego, Marie, Maria-Paz, Ricken and the Avaaz team
PS - Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue - local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=23917
Collapse renews calls for safety agreement (Wall Street Journal)
15 May deadline set for Bangladesh safety plan (Industriall)
Western companies feel pressure as toll rises in Bangladesh (NBC News)
Avoiding the fire next time (The Economist)
Bangladeshi garment factory death toll rises as owner arrested on border (The Guardian)
Bangladesh factory safety under scrutiny after collapse (CBC)
Hazardous workplaces: Making the Bangladesh Garment Industry Safe (Report, Clean Clothes campaign)
This was an email I received ... please sign the petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/crushed_to_make_our_clothes_ss/?bXOraab&v=24793
Posted by polly7 | Mon May 6, 2013, 08:17 AM (1 replies)