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Seeds of suicide

By Vandana Shiva
Source: Asian Age
May 26, 2016

The UN appointed me on the expert panel for the framework for the biosafety protocol, now adopted as the Cartagena protocol on biosafety. I was appointed a member of the expert group to draft the National Biodiversity Act, as well as the Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act. We ensured that farmers rights are recognised in our laws. “A farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce, including seed of a variety protected under this act, in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this act”, it says.

We have worked for the past three decades to protect the diversity and integrity of our seeds, the rights of farmers, and resist and challenge the illegitimate IPR monopolies of companies like Monsanto which do genetic engineering to claim patents and royalties.

Patents on seeds are unjust and unjustified. A patent or any intellectual property right is a monopoly granted by society in exchange for benefits. But society has no benefit in toxic, non-renewable seeds. We are losing biodiversity and cultural diversity, we are losing nutrition, taste and quality of our food. Above all, we are losing our fundamental freedom to decide what seeds we will sow, how we will grow our food and what we will eat.

Seed as a common good has become a commodity of private seed companies. Unless protected and put back in the hands of our farmers, it is at risk of being lost forever.

Humanity has been eating thousands and thousands (8,500) of plant species. Today we are being condemned to eat GM corn and soya in various forms. Four primary crops — corn, soya, canola and cotton — have all been grown at the cost of other crops because they generate a royalty for every acre planted. For example, India had 1,500 different kinds of cotton, now 95 per cent of the cotton planted is GMO Bt Cotton for which Monsanto collects royalties. Over 11 million hectares of land are used to cultivate cotton, of which 9.5 million hectares is used to grow Monsanto’s Bt variety.

Monsanto and the biotechnology industry challenged the government order. We were impleaded in the Karnataka high court. On May 3, Justice Bopanna gave an order reaffirming that the government has a duty to regulate seed prices and Monsanto does not have a right to seed monopoly. Biodiversity and small farmers are the foundation of food security, not corporations like Monsanto which are destroying biodiversity and pushing farmers to suicide. These crimes against humanity must stop. That is why on October 16, International Food Day, we will organise a Monsanto Tribunal at The Hague to “try” Monsanto for its various crimes.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/seeds-of-suicide/

Big Ag Is the Biggest Obstacle to Global Food Security: Here's What Can Turn It Around

The primary obstacle to sustainable food security is an economic model and thought system, embodied in industrial agriculture, that views life in disassociated parts, obscuring the destructive impact this approach has on humans, natural resources, and the environment. Industrial agriculture is characterized by waste, pollution, and inefficiency, and is a significant contributor to climate change. Within so-called free market economics, enterprise is driven by the central goal of bringing the highest return to existing wealth. This logic leads inexorably to the concentration of wealth and power, making hunger and ecosystem disruption inevitable. The industrial system does not and cannot meet our food needs. An alternative, relational approach—agroecology—is emerging and has already shown promising success on the ground. By dispersing power and building on farmers’ own knowledge, it offers a viable path to healthy, accessible food; environmental protection; and enhanced human dignity.

People yearn for alternatives to industrial agriculture, but they are worried. They see large-scale operations relying on corporate-supplied chemical inputs as the only high-productivity farming model. Another approach might be kinder to the environment and less risky for consumers, but, they assume, it would not be up to the task of providing all the food needed by our still-growing global population.

Contrary to such assumptions, there is ample evidence that an alternative approach—organic agriculture, or more broadly “agroecology”—is actually the only way to ensure that all people have access to sufficient, healthful food. Inefficiency and ecological destruction are built into the industrial model. But, beyond that, our ability to meet the world’s needs is only partially determined by what quantities are produced in fields, pastures, and waterways. Wider societal rules and norms ultimately shape whether any given quantity of food produced is actually used to meet humanity’s needs. In many ways, how we grow food determines who can eat and who cannot—no matter how much we produce. Solving our multiple food crises thus requires a systems approach in which citizens around the world remake our understanding and practice of democracy.

Today, the world produces—mostly from low-input, smallholder farms—more than enough food: 2,900 calories, amounting to three to four pounds of food, per person per day. Per capita food availability has continued to expand despite ongoing population growth. This ample supply of food, moreover, comprises only what is left over after about half of all grain is either fed to livestock or used for industrial purposes, such as agrofuels.1

The seed market, for example, has moved from a competitive arena of small, family-owned firms to an oligopoly in which just three companies—Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta—control over half of the global proprietary seed market. Worldwide, from 1996 to 2008, a handful of corporations absorbed more than two hundred smaller independent companies, driving the price of seeds and other inputs higher to the point where their costs for poor farmers in southern India now make up almost half of production costs.13 And the cost in real terms per acre for users of bio-engineered crops dominated by one corporation, Monsanto, tripled between 1996 and 2013.

Not only does the industrial model direct resources into inefficient and destructive uses, but it also feeds the very root of hunger itself: the concentration of social power. This results in the sad irony that small-scale farmers—those with fewer than five acres—control 84 percent of the world’s farms and produce most of the food by value, yet control just 12 percent of the farmland and make up the majority of the world’s hungry.14

Recent studies have dispelled the fear that an ecological alternative to the industrial model would fail to produce the volume of food for which the industrial model is prized. In 2006, a seminal study in the Global South compared yields in 198 projects in 55 countries and found that ecologically attuned farming increased crop yields by an average of almost 80 percent. A 2007 University of Michigan global study concluded that organic farming could support the current human population, and expected increases without expanding farmed land. Then, in 2009, came a striking endorsement of ecological farming by fifty-nine governments and agencies, including the World Bank, in a report painstakingly prepared over four years by four hundred scientists urging support for “biological substitutes for industrial chemicals or fossil fuels.”16 Such findings should ease concerns that ecologically aligned farming cannot produce sufficient food, especially given its potential productivity in the Global South, where such farming practices are most common.

Democratizing Farming

Ecological agriculture, unlike the industrial model, does not inherently concentrate power. Instead, as an evolving practice of growing food within communities, it disperses and creates power, and can enhance the dignity, knowledge, and the capacities of all involved. Agroecology can thereby address the powerlessness that lies at the root of hunger.

Applying such a systems approach to farming unites ecological science with time-tested traditional wisdom rooted in farmers’ ongoing experiences. Agroecology also includes a social and politically engaged movement of farmers, growing from and rooted in distinct cultures worldwide. As such, it cannot be reduced to a specific formula, but rather represents a range of integrated practices, adapted and developed in response to each farm’s specific ecological niche. It weaves together traditional knowledge and ongoing scientific breakthroughs based on the integrative science of ecology. By progressively eliminating all or most chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agroecological farmers free themselves—and, therefore, all of us—from reliance on climate-disrupting, finite fossil fuels, as well as from other purchased inputs that pose environmental and health hazards.

Lessons from Ethiopia

Case studies in some of the world’s hungriest regions can illuminate the potential of agroecology to meet global needs. The experience of Tigray, Ethiopia, an extremely cash-poor region of almost five million people with degraded soils and poor crop yields, offers one promising example. In part because of the region’s low rainfall, the “hunger season” for the poorest farmers has typically lasted more than half the year, and climate change has intensified such hardships. In 1996, national and regional agencies took action. Working with the Institute for Sustainable Development, they launched a transformational strategy with the goal of restoring soil fertility as well as developing community-environmental governance.21

The Tigray Project worked with farmers to infuse a few basic agroecological practices, like composting, into their work. Unlike chemical fertilizers, which require application every year, good compost can increase and maintain soil fertility for up to four years. Thanks to healthier soil, farmers began achieving higher yields, with fewer challenging weeds, and their crops became more resistant to disease and pests. Stopping the uncontrolled grazing of livestock allowed for the revegetation of degraded lands, including steep slopes and gullies not suitable for agricultural production. This previously “useless” land now provides biomass for livestock feed or compost, thereby returning nutrients to the soil. In just five years, from 2000 to 2005, farmers doubled yields of cereals grown on compost-treated soil. The project incorporated other innovations as well, such as the creation of small trenches along the bunds (low earthen ridges) between fields to catch rain and soil runoff, and tree planting and the nurturing of tree regrowth.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/food/big-ag-biggest-obstacle-global-food-security-heres-what-can-turn-it-around

Noam Chomsky & Joel Bakan on the Psychopathic Propaganda Machines That We Call Corporations

People need to become savvier about the systems we’re creating, more aware of how propaganda works and how public discourse gets polluted.

By James Hoggan / New Society Publishers May 19, 2016

Propaganda is a polluting and polarizing behavior that is arguably as vast and destructive as any other cultural or social forces. What’s more, in the case of modern corporations, deregulation has legitimized the use of unbridled propaganda and created a regulatory, legal and financial system that virtually demands it.

In his book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, author, filmmaker and law professor Joel Bakan traced the corporation’s rise to dominance, right back to its origins centuries ago. Balkan illuminated how these juggernauts are required by law to elevate their own interests above those of others and pursue their goals with rampant self-interest, sometimes without regard for moral limits.

Bakan’s work does not seek to vilify or analyze the people who run corporations or work for them. He critiques the institutional nature of the corporation as legally created, saying it is an invention that has been imbued with characteristics that, if observed in a human being, would swiftly be diagnosed as psychopathic.

This view initially seemed a little extreme to me, as I built my business around representing successful corporations and never saw anything remotely like this in the companies I worked with. But then Bakan outlined the characteristics of a psychopath: including callous unconcern for the feelings of others; incapacity to maintain enduring relationships; reckless disregard for the safety of others; deceitfulness, repeated lying and cheating people for profit; incapacity to experience guilt; failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior. Looking at this list in relation to the excesses on Wall Street, the guiles and machinations of big banks, the environmental record of oil and gas companies, the misinformation campaigns surrounding climate change and the lies and lack of guilt in the tobacco industry, I began to see Bakan’s point.

“Not only have we created an institution in the image of a psychopathic human being, but we’ve actually conferred personhood on it . . . and as a society we’ve given it immense power to govern every aspect of our lives,” Bakan said. Increasingly, corporations have limited legal obligation to be concerned about the environment but are compelled to do what’s best for their shareholders, whether that means investing to ensure a favorable scientific environment, favorable public opinion environment or favorable political environment so that they can lower production costs and increase profits.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/books/noam-chomsky-joel-bakan-psychopathic-propaganda-machines-we-call-corporations

60,000 US War Veterans Suffering from Health Problems the Govt Wants to Ignore - The Toxic Legacy of

Burn Pits

The burn pits may have claimed the life of at least one celebrated veteran: Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden.

By Joseph Hickman / AlterNet May 23, 2016

There are over 60,000 U.S. veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are now sick and dying. But the Pentagon denies there is such a health crisis, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is denying these suffering men and women the benefits they desperately need and deserve.

These veterans are not the victims of enemy fire. They are suffering from medical ailments associated with the open-air burn pits that were constructed on over 230 military bases across Iraq and Afghanistan. These fiery pits, which were hastily dug in violation of the military’s own health and environmental regulations, were used to dispose of the mountains of trash created by war. Every type of refuse imaginable was thrown into these burn pits, including such toxic materials as plastics, metals, medical waste, batteries, tires, old ordnance and even human body parts.

The open-air burn pits were massive in size—some as large as 10 acres—and many were built in close proximity to where military members were housed. They burned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with each pit incinerating as much as 50 tons of trash a day. Soldiers stationed on these bases grew accustomed to the black plumes that filled the sky and the clouds of ash that sometimes enveloped them. The noxious pollutants wafted everywhere in these camps. In a desperate effort to block the foul-smelling fallout, some soldiers blocked the vents in their barracks with towels when they went to sleep, waking in the morning to see the once-white towels blackened with soot.

The burn pits were built and operated by KBR, which was then a subsidiary of Halliburton, the huge energy services company once headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney. For seven years, the pits went completely unregulated, seemingly exempt from all government oversight. Only after service members barraged their representatives in the Senate and Congress with complaints did the Government Accountability Office launch an investigation into the burn pits, finally prompting the Defense Department to put in place pollution-control measures in 2009. During that investigation, the GAO discovered that the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan were releasing over 1,000 toxins and carcinogens into the air.

Soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began complaining as early as 2004 to the Veterans Health Administration, the vast medical network operated by the VA, about illnesses they felt were related to burn pit exposure. I began researching these complaints in 2011 after receiving a phone call from a former solider who had served at Camp Taji. Throughout our conversation, I heard him wheezing and coughing, until he finally was wracked by a coughing fit that lasted for minutes. When he finally recovered, he said, “Excuse me, I brought some of the burn pit back from Iraq with me.”

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/investigations/60000-burn-pits

Hillary and the Corporate Elite

By Paul Street
Source: teleSUR English
May 17, 2016

The language was a perfect match for Hillary and Bill Clinton’s politico-ideological history and trajectory. After graduating from the venerable ruling class training ground Yale Law School, the Clintons went to Bill’s home state of Arkansas. There they helped “lay…the groundwork for what would eventually hit the national stage as the New Democrat movement, which took institutional form as the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)” (Doug Henwood). The essence of the DLC was dismal, dollar-drenched “neoliberal” abandonment of the Democratic Party’s last lingering commitments to labor unions, social justice, civil rights, racial equality, the poor, and environmental protection and abject service to the “competitive” bottom-line concerns of Big Business.

The Clintons helped launch the New (neoliberal corporatist) Democrat juggernaut by assaulting Arkansas’ teacher unions (Hillary led the attack) and refusing to back the repeal of the state’s anti-union “right to work” law – this while Hillary began working for the Rose Law firm, which “represented the moneyed interests of Arkansas” (Henwood). When the Arkansas-based community-organizing group ACORN passed a ballot measure lowering electrical rates residential users and raising them for commercial businesses in Little Rock, Rose deployed Hillary to shoot down the new rate schedule as an unconstitutional “taking of property.” Hillary joined the board of directors at the low wage retail giant Wal-Mart.

During the Clintons’ time in the White House, Bill advanced the neoliberal agenda beneath fake-progressive cover, in ways that no Republican president could have pulled off. Channeling Ronald Reagan by declaring that “the era of big government is over,” Clinton collaborated with the right wing Congress of his time to end poor families’ entitlement to basic minimal family cash assistance. Hillary backed this vicious welfare “reform” (elimination), which has proved disastrous for millions of disadvantaged Americans. Mr. Clinton earned the gratitude of Wall Street and corporate America by passing the arch-global-corporatist North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act (which had mandated a necessary separation between commercial deposit and investment banking), and by de-regulating the burgeoning super-risky and high-stakes financial derivatives sector. Hillary took the lead role in the White House’s efforts to pass a corporate-friendly version of “health reform.” Along with the big insurance companies the Clintons deceptively railed against, the “co-presidents” decided from the start to exclude the popular health care alternative – single payer – from the national health care “discussion.” (Barack Obama would do the same thing in 2009.)

The Clinton White House’s hostility to “big government” did not extend to the United States’ giant and globally unmatched mass incarceration state or to its vast global military empire. Clinton’s 1994 crime bill helped expand the chilling expansion of the nation’s mostly Black and Latino prison population. Clinton kept the nation’s “defense” (Empire) budget (a giant welfare program for high-tech military corporations) at Cold War levels despite the disappearance of the United States’ Cold War rival the Soviet Union.

Mrs. Clinton’s service to the rich and powerful has continued into the current millennium. As a U.S. Senator, she did the bidding of the financial industry by voting for a bill designed to make it more difficult for consumers to use bankruptcy laws to get out from crushing debt. As Secretary of State (2009-2012), she repeatedly voiced strong support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a secretive, richly corporatist 12-nation Pacific “free trade” (investor rights) agreement that promises to badly undermine wages, job security, environmental protections, and popular governance at home and abroad. In Australia in November of 2012, she said that “TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements for open free, transparent, [and]fair trade…”

Bernie Sanders supporters like to claim that they’ve been moving the eventual Democratic nominee Hillary “to the left.” But nobody actually moves a dyed-in-the wool Goldman Sachs-neoliberal-top-of-the Ivy League-Council of Foreign Relations Eisenhower Democrat like Hillary or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama to the left. All that might shift somewhat to the portside is such politicians’ purposively deceptive campaign rhetoric. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce knows this very well. A top Chamber lobbyist calmly observed last January that Mrs. Clinton will be on board with the unpopular TPP after the 2016 election. The Chamber understands that she has no choice right now but to pose as an opponent of the measure as part of her unavoidable election year job of impersonating someone who cares about the working class majority.

Nobody grasps the Machiavellian nature of her campaign rhetoric better than Hillary’s Wall Street funders. A report in the widely read insider online Washington political journal Politico last year was titled “Hillary’s Wall Street Backers: ‘We Get It.’” As Politico explained, “Populist rhetoric, many [of those backers] say, is good politics – but doesn’t portend an assault on the rich…It’s ‘just politics,’ said one major Democratic donor on Wall Street…many of the financial-sector donors supporting her …say they’ve been expecting [such rhetoric] all along.” One Democrat at a top Wall Street firm even told Politico that Hillary’s politically unavoidable populist rhetoric “is a Rorschach test for how politically sophisticated [rich] people are…If someone is upset by this it’s because they have no idea how populist the mood of the country still is.”

It’s nothing new. In his bitter and acerbic book on and against the Clintons, No One Left to Lie To (2000), the still left Christopher Hitchens usefully described “the essence of American politics” as “the manipulation of populism by elitism.” It’s a story that goes back as far as the 1820s but nobody has perfected the game more insidiously and effectively in the neoliberal era than the Clinton machine.

Partisan liberal Democrats don’t like to hear it, but, there’s nothing all that surprising about the Koch brothers turning to Hillary over Trump. It’s not at all difficult to believe that Bill Clinton will succeed in his recently reported efforts to court support from other Republican billionaires. It’s not at all surprising that Wall Street and corporate America prefer the good friend they know.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/hillary-and-the-corporate-elite/

Just a few examples of Clinton's "Love and kindness" (to the rest of the world, for those that

don't give a crap for anyone beyond U.S. borders, probably boring and unimportant).

The Foreign Policies of Sanders, Trump, and Clinton: America and the World In 2016 and Beyond

By Joanne Landy
Source: New Politics
May 25, 2016

Several progressive and left wing writers have scrutinized Clinton’s foreign policy history, and reminded us of her dreadful record. For example, Greg Grandin wrote a Nation article “A Voters Guide to Hillary Clinton’s Policies,”[48] recounting her anti-democratic policies in Mexico, Paraguay, El Salvador, Panama and Colombia and Honduras, where she helped to legitimize the 2009 coup against the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya.

On El Salvador, Grandin writes, “In 2012, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, acting through its ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, threatened to withhold critical development aid unless El Salvador passed a major privatization law. . . . It wouldn’t be the only time that Ambassador Aponte, a political ally of the Clintons, menaced Salvador’s leftist FMLN government. Recently, she warned Salvadorans about the need to buy corporate manufactured GMO seeds, insisting that the FMLN’s seed-cooperative program violates the terms of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).[49]

Beyond Latin America, Stephen Zunes reminds us of Clinton’s obscene comment on Egypt’s dictator just before his fall, “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” (She surely hopes we will forget that gaffe.) Zunes notes that “After Saudi Arabian forces joined those of the Bahraini monarchy in brutally repressing nonviolent pro-democracy demonstrators the following month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton had emerged as one of the ‘leading voices inside the administration urging greater U.S. support for the Bahraini king.’ She has long considered a ‘top priority’ the promotion of arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, which is not only one of the world’s most repressive regimes but has been using U.S. jets and ordinance in air strikes in Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians. In her last visit as secretary of state to Uzbekistan—a brutal dictatorship that has gunned down hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators, boiled opponents to death in oil, and sends hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren annually into forced labor in the cotton fields —she declined to meet with leading human rights activists. Instead, she emphasized ‘the importance of Uzbekistan to the region and to our national interest.’”[50]

On Libya, Jo Becker and Scott Shane note in The New York Times that Hillary Clinton’s voice was critical in persuading a hesitant President Obama to join in bombing Gaddafi’s forces. They write, “In fact, Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, would later say that in a ‘51-49’ decision, it was Mrs. Clinton’s support that put the ambivalent president over the line.”[51]

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-foreign-policies-of-sanders-trump-and-clinton-america-and-the-world-in-2016-and-beyond/

Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece

by Robert Hunziker / May 23rd, 2016

The economy, the people, the heart and soul of Greece have been demolished by a lower order of bureaucratic seizure that plagues the world. It is scorched-earth economic warfare, ordinarily referred to as neoliberalism.

The newest twist/manipulation in negotiations with Troika for Greece survival (demise) in order to provide the country with €86 billion of which 90% pays off debt, 10% to the state, demands Greece cut pensions (again), raise taxes (again), privatize state assets (for a song), and deregulate (squelch) labor. Inspirational?

The country has already unloaded state assets like ports and airports at bottom-feeder prices. Gee whiz, after essentially giving away prized state assets, which “define the Greek economy and define the people,” GDP is expected to grow. How?

Bottom line, the people are stripped of assets in lieu of paying debts from which they benefitted very little. The upshot, according to Mr. Galbraith, a spirit of rebellion is growing and spreading, likely beyond Greece to Portugal, Spain, and Italy.

Since in Greece there is no longer a political outlet, it will become more unpleasant as the fires burn. That’s the price ultimately that both Greeks and Europeans will bear from accepting a set of policy recommendations dictated by economists, driven by ideology, utterly disconnected from the reality of what it takes to restore a viable economic and social entity. (Galbraith)

By all appearances, the Troika group is not clever enough to help Greece by any means other than slashing and burning and stomping on its lifeblood. Which brings to mind Chile in the 1970s under General Augusto Pinochet, dictator 1973-1990, a student of Milton Friedman and Henry Kissinger and of how neoliberal tendencies have been superlatively perfected over the ensuing decades. Troika’s 100-proof.

“There will be more resistance,” Galbraith warns. “It’s the only sensible thing. The Greek people are being maneuvered into a position where they cannot pay their mortgages, and they are being dispossessed from their homes. For what? For debts that were incurred under previous governments for completely useless things where the benefits went to German construction companies and French arms firms. The notion that this debt should be paid is absurd.”1

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/05/troika-heat-seeking-missile-destroys-greece/

The Financial Invasion of Greece

By Michael Hudson and Sharmini Peries
Source: The Real News
May 24, 2016

HUDSON: The IMF says it will not reduce Greece’s debt by a single penny. It will keep the debt in place. The problem is the way that the European central banks keep their balance sheets, if it breaks down Greece’s debt owed to the IMF then the countries Germany, France, and other countries whose banks are bailed out will have to take a loss and they refuse to lose a single penny. So the IMF has not made a creative proposal. It has repeated what it said a year ago without changing a single word. It says okay, we’re going to keep every penny of debt in place but we’re going to give you a fudging number. We’re only going to charge you 1.5% interest and you won’t have to pay the debt for 25 years. So you get a debt mark [ ] you won’t have to pay interests for 25 years and we’ll charge you only a little bit of interest.

There’s only one kicker. You’re going to have to cancel your pensions, write them down, impose austerity, privatize your government, and you’re going to have to shrink your economy so that it will shrink by about 1, 2, 3% a year so that the 1.5% interest that we’re charging as little as it is, is going to absorb all the income growth you have. Every penny of growth of have from the next 25 years you’ll have to end up paying the German banks. Now we know you can’t do it. We know that when you cancel the pensions you’re going to shrink. We know your labor’s on strike. We know they’re going to immigrate.

But there’s a way out. You can sell your ports, your land, your public utilities, your railroads, your airports, anything you have you can sell to the Germans and at the end of this time you won’t have a single thing and all we ask is that all you Greeks get out of our country, now that we own you. That’s what the IMF is saying. It’s not creative, it’s absolutely brutal. That’s why the Greeks are out on strike.

HUDSON: Because they’re using finance as the new means of war. There is a war going on in Europe but it’s not a military war anymore. They’re now using finance instead of war and they’re using finance to say, we can grab your country. We can put you out of work. We can control you and we don’t have to kill you, we can just make you immigrate by taking away your pensions and taking all your money. There’s a land grab just as if it were an invasion to grab Greece’s ports, to grab Greece’s railroads, and to grab everything else. This is war.

The IMF is preparing to bail out Ukraine, to say you don’t have to pay your debts that you owe to Russia or any governments that the U.S. doesn’t like. You have to sell off your land to George [Sherouse] and the people who the U.S. government does like. Look at the duel standard that the IMF is imposing on Greece compared to what it’s doing for the Ukrainian government. You see that the IMF has become a tool of the New Cold War and the Syriza people and the Greeks can do is point out how unfair this is and to try to let the world know that what is happening is a movement way to the right wing of the political spectrum and that finance is war.

So the IMF says that we’re going to break the rules of that and we’re going to lend, essentially because the U.S. tells us to do that and Greece is going to have to pay so we can demonstrate that if Spain tries to stand up and pay its pensions to people, if France pays its labor, if Italy pays its labor, we’re going to smash their economies, we’re going to smash their labor unions, and we’re going to smash their labor just as we do to Greece. Greece is a demonstration very much like when the Nazis bombed Spain, in the Picasso drew the great drawing for. This is the IMF’s version of the Nazi bombing of Spain to say, this is what’s going to happen to labor throughout Europe if you don’t surrender.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-financial-invasion-of-greece/

By Yanis Varoufakis and Amy Goodman
Source: Democracy Now

Published on Apr 28, 2016
http://democracynow.org - As the White House is backing calls for Greece to continue to implement widespread austerity measures, we spend the hour with former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Earlier this week, negotiations between Greece and international creditors hit an impasse over the bankers’ demands for extra austerity measures. The International Monetary Fund is demanding cutting Greek pensions and eliminating income-tax exemptions if Greece does not hit its budget targets. "Cutting down pension is not reform. It’s like confusing butchery for surgery," says Varoufakis. He served as the Syriza party’s first finance minister after the left-wing party took power in 2015, after promoting an anti-austerity platform. He is in the United States promoting his new book, "And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future." Earlier this year, he launched a new pan-European umbrella organization called Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM25.

Published on Apr 28, 2016
http://democracynow.org - We continue our conversation with former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as the White House is backing calls for Greece to continue to implement widespread austerity measures, following President Obama’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week. Greece and its international creditors are once again negotiating the terms of the bailout and the extent of the austerity measures creditors can impose. Varoufakis responds to the German government’s claim that the majority of Germans oppose giving more money to Greece, and addresses the previous bailouts. "What happened to that money? It wasn’t money for Greece. It was money for the banks," Varoufakis says. "The Greek people took on the largest loan in human history on behalf of German and French bankers." He notes the conditions of the loan "guaranteed our national income would shrink by one-third. So it was impossible to repay that money." He says he opposes taking additional funds until the country’s economy is more stable.

Published on Apr 28, 2016
http://democracynow.org - The International Monetary Fund is demanding additional austerity measures from Greece if it does not hit its budget targets. It’s the latest impasse in years of fierce political clashes between Greece and international creditors. We are joined by a man who had a front-row seat to these battles: the former Greek finance minister for the anti-austerity Syriza party, Yanis Varoufakis. In his new book, "And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future," he describes how he helped lead Greece’s battle against European Central bankers and a historic referendum in which Greeks resoundingly voted down austerity. But only days after the "no" vote, he resigned. Varoufakis elaborates on the resignation statement he issued last July, when he wrote, "Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners', for my … 'absence' from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the ministry of finance today." He famously said at the time, "I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride."

(bbm) WTF interest does the White House have in this?? These people are really suffering already. Suicides spiked a few years ago, people are hungry and many have lost homes and employment, health coverage, etc. Why on earth push for further austerity?

'We Wanted to Make a Film About Our Nation’s Failure. This Is Our Opportunity ... as a Society ... t

Thousands of people jailed for petty crimes were finally released when voters repealed the draconian three-strikes law in 2012.

By Kali Holloway / AlterNet May 20, 2016

After several violent crimes committed by former felons garnered high-profile attention, Californians voted to pass the three-strikes law in 1994. The draconian legislation resulted in thousands of non-violent offenders receiving lengthy sentences, some for life, for minor violations such as petty theft and possession of drugs. In 2012, voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of amending the law, shortening the sentences of those currently serving time.

A new documentary titled The Return offers an up-close look at how the passage of Prop 36 impacted the lives of “those on the front lines—prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law.” The film is a riveting, moving portrait of the human toll our system of overincarceration exacts on millions of lives.

“We wanted to make a film about our nation’s failure,” says Kelly Duane De La Vega, who with filmmaker Katie Galloway codirected the documentary. “This is our opportunity as a nation, as a society, as a people to redeem ourselves from essentially warehousing people of color, people born into poverty, in these horrible, horrible institutions. So one of the themes that The Return is about that really matters to us is redemption, but it’s our redemption, it’s our nation’s redemption, it’s our society’s redemption.”

The Return won the Audience Award for Documentary at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and kicks off the new season of awardwinning POV documentary series on PBS on Monday, May 23 at 10pm. In the exclusive clip below, we follow Kenneth Anderson, who was sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense under the three-strikes law, in the emotional hours following his release.


Inside the West's Cynical Plan to Keep Refugees out of Europe by Trapping Them in Libya

Western countries are willing to funnel arms into a war-torn country to keep refugees out of Europe.

By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet May 21, 2016

Western countries’ callous response to the greatest crisis of human displacement since World War II has reached new heights with the latest push to fashion—and arm—a Libyan state in part so that it can help trap refugees in that country and prevent them from reaching European shores.

European heads of state have already unleashed a brutal crackdown on people fleeing war and poverty, including through the EU’s “Operation Sophia” military force in the Mediterranean, which was established last May to prevent refugees stranded in Libya from journeying to the continent in search of sanctuary.

In other words, politicians and the figures behind Operation Sophia argue that intercepting and destroying refugee boats in international waters is not, in fact, preventing displaced people from attempting the voyage. In order to offshore the Libyan crisis from Europe, they insist, refugees must be prevented from leaving that country’s waters, and that requires an effective state.

This evaluation sheds light on the new international push, led by western nations, to arm Libya’s “Government of National Accord,” which may or may not actually exist.

Western countries’ callous response to the greatest crisis of human displacement since World War II has reached new heights with the latest push to fashion—and arm—a Libyan state in part so that it can help trap refugees in that country and prevent them from reaching European shores.

Funneling Arms Into a Humanitarian Crisis

In a joint communique released Monday following a ministerial meeting in Vienna, world powers declared their intention to carve out an exception to the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, which has been in place since 2011.

In public statements, U.S. officials have dubiously claimed that this initiative will help defeat ISIS. “The international community will support the [Libyan] Presidency Council as it seeks exemption from the U.N. arms embargo to acquire those weapons and bullets needed to fight Daesh [ISIS} and other terrorist groups,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

In fact, NATO’s military intervention in 2011 played a critical role in unleashing the conditions that led to ISIS’s rise in Libya. Yet, the U.S. has continued its failed military intervention with a new wave of bombings and troop deployments. There is no evidence that funneling arms into Libya will somehow help stem the violence and chaos that western military campaigns have helped create.

In other words, the U.S. is planning to help arm a Libyan faction that has not emerged as a legitimate government—and is instructing Libyan people to embrace that non-existent state. It is doing so in a country that it has already inflicted profound harm upon through a wrong-headed military intervention.

What It Means to Trap Refugees in Libya

While it is not apparent exactly what form western collaboration with a Libyan faction to tackle migration would take, all of the available evidence suggests that the plan is aimed at preventing displaced people from journeying across the Mediterranean.

This amounts to trapping refugees in dire conditions in Libya, which has no domestic refugee laws or asylum procedures. In an international briefing published last May, Amnesty International outlined the abuses that refugees stranded in Libya are forced to endure, from rape to torture to slave labor:

Torture and other ill-treatment in immigration detention centers have remained widespread. In many cases, migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea have been subjected to prolonged beatings in such facilities following their interception and arrest by the Libyan coastguard or militias acting on their own initiative in the absence of strong state institutions. Women held in these facilities, which lack female guards, are vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment.

… Research conducted by Amnesty International reveals that migrants and refugees are increasingly exploited and forced to work without pay, physically assaulted and robbed in their homes or in the streets. Religious minorities, in particular Christian migrants and refugees, are at highest risk of abuses, including abductions, torture and other ill-treatment and unlawful killings, from armed groups that seek to enforce their own interpretation of Islamic law and have been responsible for serious human rights abuses. They also face widespread discrimination and persecution from their employers, criminal groups and in immigration detention centers. In some cases, the detention and abuse of foreign nationals, in particular sub-Saharan Africans, have been motivated by a fear of illnesses, which was exacerbated by last year’s outbreak of Ebola.

To keep the refugee crisis away from Europe’s shores, western states are willing to funnel arms into a war-torn country to shore up a government whose stablity is suspect at best. Behind the potentially catastrophic gambit lies a plan to trap survivors of violence and poverty in deplorable conditions. If those refugees manage to escape from the conflict zone, they will be met not by humanitarian relief, but by hostile military patrols. Beyond the walls of Fortress Europe, a vast, aquatic graveyard may soon expand.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/wests-cynical-plan-offshore-refugee-crisis-will-flood-libya-more-weapons?akid=14286.44541.f7473B&rd=1&src=newsletter1057021&t=12

Venezuela's Government Must Carry Revolution To Its End

By Jorge Martin, Marxist.com
Popular Resistance
Monday, May 23, 2016

The assault against the Bolivarian revolution has intensified in the recent days and weeks. Editorials and front pages in US and Spanish newspapers are screaming about hunger in Venezuela and demanding the removal of the “dictatorial regime”. Ongoing scarcity problems have led to instances of looting. The right-wing opposition is attempting to trigger a presidential recall referendum, but is also threatening violent action and appealing to foreign powers, including in some case for military intervention. What is really happening in Venezuela and how can these threats be faced?

On Friday May 13th, Venezuelan president Maduro extended the “Economic Emergency Decree” which had given him special powers in January, and further decreed a 60-day State of Emergency which includes sweeping powers to deal with foreign military threats and to deal with problems of food production and distribution.

As was to be expected, the world’s capitalist media joined in a chorus of denunciation, screaming about a “dictatorship”, while one of the main right-wing opposition leaders, Capriles Radonski made a public appeal to disobey the decree. The threats, however, are very real. It is worth giving a few examples. A month ago,an editorial in the Washington Post openly called for “political intervention” by Venezuela’s neighbours. At the weekend, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, at a “Concordia Summit” in Miami, made an open call for the Venezuelan Armed Forces to carry out a coup or, failing that, for foreign military intervention against “the tyranny”.

The Venezuelan right-wing opposition has made repeated appeals for the Organisation of American States to use its “Democratic Charter” to intervene against president Maduro. They feel emboldened by the successful removal of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and want to go down the same road as soon as possible, by any means necessary, legal or illegal. Influential Venezuelan right-wing journalist and blogger Francisco Toro (editor of the Caracas Chronicles) has just written an article openly discussing the pros and cons of a coup, which he says would be within the constitution and “The Opposite of a Crime”.

Full, long article: http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_74104.shtml

This is a good read. These right-wing freaks have, and are doing everything possible to destroy Venezuela's economy to gain control and stop the people's revolution. Every dirty, ugly and very familiar trick in the book.
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