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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,487

Journal Archives

Propaganda: “The Dominant Grand Narrative Of Our Time”

by Media Lens / January 28th, 2014

‘Propaganda’ sounds like an old-fashioned word from a bygone era. It evokes images of the Nazis in WW2, particularly Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, or Soviet leaders in the Cold War and dictators in ‘Third World’ countries. Propaganda is something spewed out by official enemies of the West, and surely not a vile practice indulged by ‘our’ politicians and business leaders. This is a convenient illusion that serves powerful Western elites very well indeed.

The Russian-born filmmaker Andre Vltchek, who has travelled the world extensively in making his documentaries, relates his experience of appearing in the media in different countries. He observes that when he speaks in China, he does so uncensored:

I was on CCTV – their National TV – and for half an hour I was talking about very sensitive issues. And I felt much freer in Beijing than when the BBC interviews me, because the BBC doesn’t even let me speak, without demanding a full account of what exactly I am intending to say. 1

Vltchek continued:

… people in the West are so used to thinking that we are so democratic in terms of the way our media is run and covers the stories. Even if we know it’s not the case, we still, subconsciously, expect that it’s still somehow better than in other places and it is actually shocking when we realize that a place like China or Turkey or Iran would run more unedited or uncensored pieces than our own mainstream media outlets. Let me put it this way: Chinese television and newspapers are much more critical of their economic and political system than our television stations or newspapers are of ours. Imagine ABC, CBS, or NBC coming on air and beginning to question the basics of capitalism or the Western parliamentary system. 2

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/propaganda-the-dominant-grand-narrative-of-our-time/

How Junk Economists Help the Rich Impoverish the Working Class

by Paul Craig Roberts / January 29th, 2014

Last week, I explained how economists and policymakers destroyed our economy for the sake of short-term corporate profits from jobs offshoring and financial deregulation.

That same week Business Week published an article, “Factory Jobs Are Gone. Get Over It,” by Charles Kenny. Kenny expresses the view of establishment economists, such as Brookings Institute economist Justin Wolfers who wants to know “What’s with the political fetish for manufacturing? Are factories really so awesome?”

“Not really,” Kenny says. Citing Eric Fisher of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, Kenny reports that wages rise most rapidly in those states that most quickly abandon manufacturing. Kenny cites Gary Hufbauer, once an academic colleague of mine now at the Peterson Institute, who claims that the 2009 tariffs applied to Chinese tire imports cost US consumers $1 billion in higher prices and 3,731 lost retail jobs. Note the precision of the jobs loss, right down to the last 31.

In support of the argument that Americans are better off without manufacturing jobs, Kenny cites MIT and Harvard academic economists to the effect that there is no evidence that manufacturing tends to cluster, thus disputing the view that there are economies from manufacturers tending to congregate in the same areas where they benefit from an experienced work force and established supply chains.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/how-junk-economists-help-the-rich-impoverish-the-working-class/

Iraq: Revisiting the Pottery Barn Rule

By John Feffer, January 22, 2014

As I stood in front of this photograph, I thought about Colin Powell and Iraq. You might remember Powell’s famous quip about Pottery Barn. In his advice to President George W. Bush prior to the Iraq invasion, Powell warned the president of the Pottery Barn rule: you break it, you own it. The United States would be responsible, Powell implied, for whatever wreckage the military incurred in its headlong dash to unseat Saddam.

The real Pottery Barn rule—the same rule that all retailers have—is to write off the broken merchandise as a loss. And that is what we have done to Iraq.

The latest violence in Iraq rivals the levels last seen during wartime. Last year, between 8,000 and 10,000 civilians were killed, the highest number since 2008. According to one recent study, half a million Iraqis have died from war-related causes since the 2003 invasion, a figure that includes indirect casualties from the breakdown of the country’s social structure.


Tomgram: Greg Grandin, The Terror of Our Age

Posted by Greg Grandin at 4:00pm, January 26, 2014.

Okay, Big Oil's latest quarterly profits weren’t the highest in history. That would be the combined $51.5 billion the top six companies hauled in during a single quarter in 2008. In the third quarter of 2013, thanks to somewhat lower oil prices, the Big Five made a mere $23 billion in profits or $175,000 a minute -- slightly lower, in fact, than the same quarter in 2012. In a similar spirit, the average temperature for 2013 set no records either. It was in the range of 58.12 to 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on how you do the figuring), indicating that the year will fall somewhere between fourth and seventh hottest since global records began being kept in 1880.

In other words, it was just another humdrum year for the oil executives powering the most profitable corporations in history, as they continue to lend a hand to the warming of the only inhabited planet we know of. In the meantime, a recent draft report from the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that we have just 15 years left to rein in fossil fuel carbon emissions -- which could be considered the effluent of energy industry profits -- before a global crisis looms that will be “virtually impossible to solve with current technologies.”

So on the one hand, profit; on the other, destruction at an almost unimaginable level, involving the very habitability of this planet. The pitilessly profit-driven logic of those energy execs, TomDispatch regular Greg Grandin points out, is hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, he’s just written a stunning new history, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World, that lays out how, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a similar logic drove other kinds of extractive destruction in what was then known as “the age of freedom,” the period in which millions of Indians and Africans were chewed up in the transnational slave trade. Think of Grandin’s tale as an old one with a distinctly modern twist, or as the O. Henry story from hell. Tom

The Two Faces of Empire
Melville Knew Them, We Still Live With Them
By Greg Grandin

A captain ready to drive himself and all around him to ruin in the hunt for a white whale. It’s a well-known story, and over the years, mad Ahab in Herman Melville’s most famous novel, Moby-Dick, has been used as an exemplar of unhinged American power, most recently of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq............


Latest Human Rights Watch Report: 30 Lies about Venezuela

By Tamara Pearson

Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

January 28, 2014

"In the six pages that HRW dedicates to Venezuela in its World Report 2014, released this week, it manages to tell at least 30 serious lies, distortions, and omissions. Pointing out these lies is important, because many people believe that HRW is a neutral authority on human rights, and the mainstream press publish articles and headlines based on HRW report conclusions. Here are some of the headlines in both English and Spanish (translated to English) that have come out of the 2014 report:

Global Post – Venezuela intimidates opponents, media: HRW report , PanAm Post – Human Rights Watch: A black eye for Latin America , AFP – HRW criticises Venezuela in its annual report on human rights, El Economista – HRW: Democracy in Venezuela is fictitious, El Universal – Human Rights Watch report denounces persecution of media in Venezuela, El Siglo – Human Rights Watch: Venezuela is an example of “fictitious democracies”, El Colombiano: HRW describes Venezuela as a fictitious democracy , NTN24 – HRW warns that Venezuelan government applies “arbitrary” measures against media that is critical of its policies

The headlines which talk about a “fictitious” or “feigned” democracy, are referring to the start of the report, where HRW put Venezuela, along with other countries, under the category of “abusive majoritarianism”. There, HRW provides a very limited definition of democracy; “periodic elections, the rule of law, and respect for the human rights of all” and argues that Venezuela has adopted “the form but not the substance of democracy”. HRW cites Diosdado Cabello not letting legislators who didn’t recognise democratically elected President Maduro speak in parliament – yet the punishment seems soft, considering the crime.

Below, I’ve grouped the lies and omissions according to HRW’s own subheadings in its chapter on Venezuela. Unlike with other countries such as the US, HRW omits all of Venezuela’s human rights achievements in its assessment, and in reality a range of other subheadings would be deserving, such has right to have access to housing, people’s right to be consulted about policy, right of the poorer people to be heard in the media, right to education, the right to health care, to land, and so on. Of course, nowhere in the report does HRW mention the economic crimes committed by the business sector against Venezuelans’ right to access affordable goods (hoarding, speculation, etc)."

15 lies and distortions:


15 omissions:


Rest of article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/latest-human-rights-watch-report-30-lies-about-venezuela/

Population and Sustainability: Addressing the Taboo

by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall / January 22nd, 2014

Population control is a taboo topic in most sustainability circles. It shouldn't be. According to a University of Oregon study, childbearing is the number one carbon intensive activity. Having just one has twenty times the impact of a lifetime of carbon frugality.


The Good News

The good news is that fertility rates are already dropping. According to the CIA (the official source of international fertility data), the current global fertility rate is 2.45 births per woman. This is down from 2.50 in 2011 and 2.90 in 2006.

Demographers attribute the drop in third world fertility rates to massive urbanization and the entry of women into the workforce. In the developed world, declining fertility rates seem more closely linked to worsening economic conditions. In Japan, which has been in continuous recession for two decades, the fertility rate is 1.39. In Greece it’s 1.40, in Italy 1.41.

Dropping Fertility Rates: A Capitalist’s Worst Nightmare

The bad news is the enormous pressure Wall Street exerts to keep birth rates high. Declining population growth threatens the robust economic growth our current economic system relies on.

Like a pyramid scheme, monopoly capitalism is based on the continual creation of new debt. Perpetual economic growth is essential to repay this ever increasing debt. Without it, the pyramid collapses.

Full Article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/population-and-sustainability-addressing-the-taboo/

Kyrgyz Woman Abducted for Marriage Tells Her Story on Twitter

Posted 23 January 2014 17:50 GMT

Although bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan is a criminal offence punishable by up to seven years in prison, the practice remains a common occurrence throughout the country. Many Kyrgyz, particularly rural men, view the practice of ala kachuu as a national ‘tradition’ and a birth-rite. Therefore, witnesses and victims rarely report the practice to police, and many police officers are reluctant to punish perpetrators.

Yet the situation is changing in Kyrgyzstan, with individual victories gradually helping to root out the practice of bride kidnapping. A young woman, Roza, was recently kidnapped in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, by a group of men who tried to force her to marry their friend. The woman was saved after a person who had witnessed the kidnapping called police. Following her release, Roza told the story on Twitter (@katale_ya). Below are some of her tweets that rapidly went viral in Kyrgyzstan.


It's Slash and Burn for Russia's Indigenous

Posted 23 January 2014 17:25 GMT

The sacred sites

Sasha is a 30-year-old entrepreneur who is trying to develop green ethnic tourism in the land where he was born. And besides that, Sasha is a Khanty. This is perhaps why he understands, unlike most Russians, that one of the world’s largest economies can’t be based for long on just draining natural resources.

Yet today he and his family are spending most of their time defending their right to the familial pasture grounds. The Aypins, also known as the Clan of the Beaver, belong to the indigenous Khanty people that inhabit Russia’s North-Western Siberia. This small indigenous group numbers around 30,000 men and women, many of whom still practice traditional crafts like reindeer farming, hunting, and fishing. The Aypins revere a local goddess, the Patroness of Agan, and ward many sites that the Khanty deem sacred, in the woods and on the banks of the river Agan. Unfortunately for the Khanty, their sacred sites are located right by a “shrine” of another kind. This part of Siberia provides around one half of the Russian overall oil extraction output, and oil is the principal resource that keeps the country’s ruling class afloat.

The failed deal

“Khanty people can’t exist without their deer, and the deer can’t exist without the moss,” Sasha explains the origins of the conflict. During Sasha’s father Semion’s lifetime, their family had to leave their home and camp sites and move to another place no less than five times, because of oil drilling and fires. They will leave no more, and they can leave no more.

Last spring, Lukoil West Siberia decided to build a road for further oil drilling precisely through this last spot. The road could effectively destroy the fragile reindeer moss ecosystem while oil drilling and spills will pollute the remaining woods and rivers, once a Khanty microcosm. On top of that, oil extraction and its continued use entail further global climate change, which will likely make large-scale forest wildfires even more frequent.

Full Article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/23/its-slash-and-burn-for-russias-indigenous/

Who Actually Lives in the Houses Built After Haiti's Earthquake?

Posted 21 January 2014 13:17 GMT

This is an edited and condensed version of an original report by Haiti Grassroots Watch on January 8, 2014 and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content sharing agreement.

Four years after the January 12 2010 earthquake, questions haunt the four main post-disaster housing projects built by the governments of René Préval and Michel Martelly. Who lives in them? Who runs them? Can the residents afford the rents or mortgages? Are the residents the earthquake victims?

By some estimates, the catastrophe killed some 200,000 people and made 1.3 million homeless overnight. But the new projects do not necessarily house earthquake victims, over 200,000 of whom still live in tents or in the three large new slums called Canaan, Onaville and Jerusalem.

An investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch involving over 20 interviews and many visits discovered that, even though there are newly housed families, many – probably the majority – are not necessarily victims of the earthquake. Several others are plagued with lack of services and persistent acts of vandalism, theft and waste.

Homes Too Expensive

On July 21 2011, President Martelly, former US President Bill Clinton and then-Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive inaugurated the Housing Exposition: a fair featuring about 60 model homes in Zoranje.

Full Article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/21/who-actually-lives-in-the-houses-built-after-haitis-earthquake/

Government-Funded Israeli Groups Attack John Kerry With Scatological Parody Video

As the US secretary of state tries to nudge forward the peace process, Israeli right-wingers deride him.

—By David Corn | Fri Jan. 17, 2014 9:16 AM GMT

As Secretary of State John Kerry strives to revive the Middle East peace process, while also toiling to craft a nuclear deal with Iran and achieve a resolution to the Syrian conflict, he has come under attack in an unusual manner. An Israeli group funded by the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government is mounting an anti-Kerry campaign by promoting a video that employs a scatological joke to lampoon and deride the United States' top diplomat.

In the video, which is in Hebrew, an Israeli fellow sitting on a toilet discovers there's no toilet paper. What to do? But there's no need for him to worry; Kerry—that is, an actor playing Kerry—is there, and he is holding in his hands the solution to the man's problem: a porcupine. Yes, Kerry counsels the Israeli to use this small animal as a TP substitute. The man dutifully follows the advice and ends up with a distressed bum. Well, Kerry has the solution to that problem: a pink tutu. "You can walk around the office feeling free and open," he tells the Israeli, who is next seen strolling awkwardly about his workspace in a tutu. And there's a new problem: His officemates tease him. And Kerry has a new solution: a resignation letter. You cannot be the object of scorn, he says to the man, "if you're not here, right?" The next scene shows the Israeli fellow out on the street, apparently jobless. Kerry quips, "We don't have good solutions, but we have to do something, right?" He then tosses the man a few dollars and says, "Okay, lunch, guys."

The point: Kerry is a dunce eager to promote stupid solutions that would leave Israelis worse off.

The video is part of campaign being run by the Yesha Council, which represents the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and another settlers group; both receive regular funding from the government. On its website, the Yesha Council, which has previously mounted efforts to undermine negotiations for a two-state solution, explained this campaign: "The main message: Israel's deep friendship with the US does not require us to give in to pressures that lead to solutions that threaten our country and its people." And its tool is mockery. The site these groups set up—John Kerry Solutions Inc.—features the video but also lists everyday questions for Kerry and his supposed answers. Here's one: "I fell off a ladder while trying to hang a picture and now I'm lying on the floor with a mild concussion and I cannot call for help. What to do?" Kerry's answer: Hang the picture lower.

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