Jun. 18th, 2011

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TRIGGER WARNING: The IMF's activities are compared to rape further down in the article. Sorry I forgot that part. Johann Hari: It's not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial

The IMF’s official job sounds simple and attractive. It is supposedly there to ensure poor countries don’t fall into debt, and if they do, to lift them out with loans and economic expertise. It is presented as the poor world’s best friend and guardian. But beyond the rhetoric, the IMF was designed to be dominated by a handful of rich countries – and, more specifically, by their bankers and financial speculators. The IMF works in their interests, every step of the way.

Let’s look at how this plays out on the ground. In the 1990s, the small country of Malawi in south-eastern Africa was facing severe economic problems after enduring one of the worst HIV-AIDS epidemics in the world and surviving a horrific dictatorship. They had to ask the IMF for help. If the IMF has acted in its official role, it would have given loans and guided the country to develop in the same way that Britain and the US and every other successful country had developed – by protecting its infant industries, subsidising its farmers, and investing in the education and health of its people.

That’s what an institution that was concerned with ordinary people – and accountable to them – would look like. But the IMF did something very different. They said they would only give assistance if Malawi agreed to the ‘structural adjustments’ the IMF demanded. They ordered Malawi to sell off almost everything the state owned to private companies and speculators, and to slash spending on the population. They demanded they stop subsidising fertilizer, even though it was the only thing that made it possible for farmers – most of the population – to grow anything in the country’s feeble and depleted soil. They told them to prioritise giving money to international bankers over giving money to the Malawian people.

So when in 2001 the IMF found out the Malawian government had built up large stockpiles of grain in case there was a crop failure, they ordered them to sell it off to private companies at once. They told Malawi to get their priorities straight by using the proceeds to pay off a loan from a large bank the IMF had told them to take out in the first place, at a 56 per cent annual rate of interest.
The Malawian president protested and said this was dangerous. But he had little choice. The grain was sold. The banks were paid.

The next year, the crops failed. The Malawian government had almost nothing to hand out. The starving population was reduced to eating the bark off the trees, and any rats they could capture. The BBC described it as Malawi’s “worst ever famine.” There had been a much worse crop failure in 1991-2, but there was no famine because then the government had grain stocks to distribute. So at least a thousand innocent people starved to death.MORE



And then. And this is what makes me RAGE. Because the BBC and CNN and whoever the fuck else cover this shit DON'T TELL YOU that this is what's behind those famines and shit. OH NO. They take pictures of death and starvation that win prestigious awards and they write articles bemoaning how Africa just can't get itself together, that dark continent filled with incompetent (and tribal and dictatorial) Africans that it is... and they highlight all those charities and NGOs filled with white people who go down to Africa to help those poor people and volunteer their lives and aren't the Africans so grateful for their help...And so Africa is kept in a subordinate position, all the easier for the West to enrich itself on stolen goods. And when we're done we yell overpopulation. Because it is really those whom we have forced to live on less than $1 a day who are causing the overuse of the world's resources. Oh yes.

And of course, to actually point out that it is our countries' FOREIGN POLICY as enacted by the IMF and the World Trade Organization that helps in large part to cause this shit might just cut off the gravy train, wouldn't it? It might just convince the ordinary citizens of Western Europe and America that while we are doing that democracy thing, we might really want to pay some attention to foreign policy. Beyond the various wars that we are enacting. Or maybe I am giving them too much credit. And of course, you need to convince the denizens of the countries from which you are stealing everything from that its their fault entirely that they are suffering. You need to devalue their own perceptions of what the reality is, you need to colonize their minds and thus make them pliable to being stolen from, or at least to not realize that they are being stolen from. And if they get too uppity starve them, sicken them, murder them, empower fundamentalists by giving them guns and money and set them loose upon their political structures. Send in the CIA, the MI5, at the last resort, your armies... and glorify your murderers and infiltrators efforts in the movies so that you can find cannon fodder among your citizenry with which to enforce your murderous, rapacious will. And then of course, they  have the NERVE, the AUDACITY, the complete and utter EFFRONTERY AND GALL, to call themselves..."civilized".
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Inside Story: Greece protests at austerity measures


Inside Story with presenter Teymoor Nabili discusses with guests: Vagelis Agapitos, independent economist; Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens; and Fotis Boblas, an activist and protester.


The Economy of Greece (Wikipedia)

Analysis: In Greece, it's all about 'solidarity'

Solidarity is probably a word that you would not associate with Greece following the events of the past few days.

Read more... )


Millions strike in Greece over austerity plans

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June 13 The crisis in Greece intensifies

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June 16 Greece reaches the brink: Eric Ruder explains the issues underlying the massive protests shaking Greece.

Read more... )
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Move threatens homes of Israel's Bedouins




2010 Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel


Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved

I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund put up a big sign that reads: “GOD-TVFOREST, A Generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev.” GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: “I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs.”

The Jewish National Fund’s objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba.



MORE



June 17, 2011 Israel plans to forcibly transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens

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March 03, 2011 Bedouin reject compensation offer, accusing Israel of land grab

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Corruption scandal rocks Argentina rights group

A corruption scandal rocking one of Argentina's leading human rights organisation is now tainting the country's president, Christina Kirchner.

Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports.


Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Scandal 'Toxic' for President

BUENOS AIRES, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - Above and beyond the impact it might have on Argentina's Oct. 23 general elections, few doubt that the government of Cristina Fernández will feel the effects of the fraud scandal involving the alleged misuse of public funds by the former right-hand man of the head of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association.

The latest survey by pollster Enrique Zuleta found that nearly 53 percent of respondents believe the scandal is a serious problem that will have far-reaching consequences for politics and the country's institutions, and that the effects are not merely limited to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The Mothers, a world-renowned human rights group, emerged 34 years ago during the 1976-1983 dictatorship to protest the forced disappearance of their children.

The scandal involves Sergio Schoklender, who was the chief adviser to activist Hebe de Bonafini – the head of the Mothers Association – and the financial manager of the foundation set up by the human rights group.

Early this month the Association fired Schoklender and several of his associates after legal charges were brought against them for fraud, illegal enrichment and money laundering in relation to government funds that went to the foundation for the purpose of building low-income housing to replace slums.MORE

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