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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 14,266
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 14,266
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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)
→ Human Rights, Military, Politics
Photos: Stark Scenes From the Guantanamo Hunger Strike
Military photographs show guards throwing away uneaten food and the "feeding chair" where detainees are force-fed.
—By Dave Gilson | Sat May. 4, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
A "feeding chair" in the Guantanamo medical wing where hunger-striking detainees are force fed. Sgt. Brian Godette, Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment
For more than two weeks, 100 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba have been on hunger strike to protest conditions at the prison and their indefinite confinement. First denied and downplayed by the military, the strike has now become a full-blown emergency, as the Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly reports:
Twenty-three detainees are currently being force-fed. At least twice a day, guards in riot gear tie each detainee to a chair or bed, and medical personnel force a tube up his nose and down his throat, and pump a can of Ensure or other dietary supplement into his stomach. There are so many detainees being force-fed that Guantanamo's medical personnel are working around the clock to keep up with the demand, and approximately 40 additional medical personnel just arrived in Guantanamo to help deal with the growing crisis.
Though they do not show any of these frantic scenes, recently released military photos offer a window onto how Guantanamo has been dealing with the unprecedented protest: A "feeding chair" where detainees are force-fed sits next to a tray of feeding tubes and a bottle of butter pecan Ensure; guards deliver meals through "bean holes" in detainees' cells, only to throw away the uneaten food; hospital beds behind chain-link fences with rings for shackles beside them.
Other images in the series, taken in early April by Sgt. Brian Godette of the Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment, depict scenes from Camps V and VI, where most prisoners are held: a sign asking soldiers to respect praying detainees, a stuffed recliner in the "media room" that looks almost normal until you notice the ankle restraints. Original photo captions are in quotes. (h/t Public Intelligence)
Posted by polly7 | Sat May 4, 2013, 09:48 AM (4 replies)
By Shamus Cooke
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
"The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion...The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria."
Thus, yet another secular Middle Eastern government — after Iraq and Libya — is being pushed into the abyss of Islamist extremism, and the shoving is being done by the United States, which The New York Times discovered was funneling thousands of tons of weapons into Syria through U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We now know that these weapons were given to the Islamist extremists; directly or indirectly, it doesn't matter.
Even after this U.S.-organized weapons trafficking was uncovered, the Obama administration still has the nerve to say that the U.S. is only supplying "non lethal" aid to the Syrian rebels. Never mind that many of the guns that the U.S. is transporting into Syria from its allies were sold to the allies by the United States, where the weapons were manufactured.
Now, many politicians are demanding that Obama institute a "no fly zone" in Syria, a euphemism for military invasion — one country cannot enforce a no fly zone inside another country without first destroying the enemy Air Force, not to mention its surface to air missiles, etc. We saw in Libya that a no fly zone quickly evolved into a full scale invasion, which would happen again in Syria, with the difference being that Syria has a more powerful army with more sophisticated weaponry, not to mention powerful allies — Iran and Russia.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/obama-and-u-s-military-divided-over-syria-by-shamus-cooke
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 1, 2013, 12:01 PM (0 replies)
By George Monbiot
Source: The Guardian
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
What this illustrates is that these trials have taken place far too late: after the toxins have already been widely deployed. The use of neonicotinoids across Europe was approved before we knew what their impacts might be.
Experiments in laboratory or "semi-field" conditions, free from contamination, suggest that these toxins could be a reason for the rapid reduction in bee populations. We still know almost nothing about their impacts on other insect pollinators, such as hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and midges, many of which are also declining swiftly.
Walport went on to suggest that the proposed ban would cause "severe reductions in yields to struggling European farmers and economies". Again, this is simply incorrect: in its exhaustive investigation, published last month, the House of Commons environmental audit committee concluded that "neonicotinoid pesticides are not fundamental to the general economic or agricultural viability of UK farming". In fact they can prevent a more precise and rational use of pesticides, known as integrated pest management. The committee reports that all the rape seed on sale in this country, for example, is pre-treated with neonicotinoids, so farmers have no choice but to use them, whether or not they are required.
He then deployed the kind of groundless moral blackmail frequently used by industry-funded astroturf campaigns. "The control of malaria, dengue and other important diseases also depends on the control of insect vectors." Yes, it does in many cases, but this has nothing to do with the issue he was discussing: a partial ban on neonicotinoids in European crops. This old canard (if you don't approve this pesticide for growing oilseed rape in Europe, children in Mozambique will die of malaria) reminds us that those opposed to measures which protect the natural world are often far worse scaremongers than environmentalists can be. How often have you heard people claim that "if the greens get their way, we'll go back to living in caves" or "if carbon taxes are approved, the economy will collapse"?
But perhaps most revealing is Walport's misunderstanding of the precautionary principle. This, he says, "just means working out and balancing in advance all the risks and benefits of action or inaction, and to make a proportionate response". No it doesn't. The Rio declaration, signed by the UK and 171 other states, defines it as follows: "Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." This, as it happens, is the opposite of what his article sought to do. Yet an understanding of the precautionary principle is fundamental to Walport's role.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/beware-the-rise-of-the-government-scientists-turned-lobbyists-by-george-monbiot
Posted by polly7 | Wed May 1, 2013, 11:50 AM (1 replies)
By Tom Hayden
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Dear Mr. President,
Your Guantanamo choice – to release the hunger strikers or let them die – reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s similar choice in 1981 when “the Iron Lady,” as her admirers called her, allowed 10 Irishmen to slowly starve to death because she would not recognize their most basic human rights. Thatcher’s stubborn reputation was preserved. But the whole world was watching. One of the strikers, Bobby Sands, was elected to parliament as he lay dying. The agony caused massive sympathy for Irish Republicans and led directly to the political success of Sinn Fein and the Good Friday peace agreement.
You alone face a similar crisis. Despite your original vow to close Guantanamo, members of Congress, Democrats included, have blocked your every effort. It is understandable that you would hesitate to unilaterally release detainees held in Guantanamo by your own administration. But your policy of brutal force-feeding is an abhorrent example of torturing prisoners to “save” them. But if the alternative is to send an estimated 17 men to their deaths as martyrs, after excruciating treatment at the hands of their guards, under a global media spotlight, I believe that some in the White House are reconsidering the options. They must do so quickly.
The White House has the power to reframe the issue. Your political opponents and many moderate voters define the detainees as terrorists who deserve their fate, and who, if released, will return to the battlefield against the United States. The facts are these: the total number at Guantanamo has declined from 240 to 166 since your promise to close the facility. There are 86 already designated for transfer, 56 of them from Yemen. You have the power, on a case-by-case basis, to release them, although many in Congress will complain vociferously. Sen. Diane Feinstein, however, already has called on you to lift the ban. Not only will such a step ease the Guantanamo crisis, it may facilitate the stalled talks with the Taliban. The release of one US prisoner held by the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has been blocked by House Republicans objecting to an exchange for some Taliban detainees in Guantanamo; the exchange was meant to be a step toward a negotiated settlement.
The principle reason the Guantanamo detainees are willing to die is that that they believe, on the basis of all they know and have experienced, that there is no hope whatever for release in their lifetimes. While suicide bombers have committed their bodies as weapons, these prisoners are using their bodies nonviolently in a form of radical suicide.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/guantanamo-s-death-row-by-tom-hayden
Posted by polly7 | Tue Apr 30, 2013, 11:04 AM (0 replies)