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The Great Jamaican/Haitian Language Wars

Well, I’ve always known that my views on Jamaican Creole or Patwa, the native language here, were contentious but sound. Still for all those who’ve doubted what i’ve written on the subject please read what Michael DeGraff, an MIT Associate Professor of Linguistics, Syntax, Morphology, Language Change, Creole Studies, and Haitian Creole has to say on the subject. Here’s an excerpt from a Boston Globe article on him and his work:

The Power of Creole
Beneath Haiti’s problems lies a deep conflict with its own language. An MIT professor has a bold plan to fix that.

When Michel DeGraff was a young boy in Haiti, his older brother brought home a notice from school reminding students and parents of certain classroom rules. At the top of the list was “no weapons.” And right below it, DeGraff still remembers: “No Creole.” Students were supposed to use French, and French only.

It was like this all over the country, and still is. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Haitian children grow up hearing and speaking exclusively Haitian Creole–the language used in their villages and homes, in their music, and in their proverbs, jokes, and jingles–the minute they start school they are forced to start all over in a language they don’t know. French is the language of Haiti’s tiny ruling class, and for children who come from that world, this poses no problem. But for all the others, being forced to use French makes it nearly impossible to learn. Many students just stop talking in class, going silent. And according to an estimate from the Ministry of Education, less than a third of students who enter first grade reach sixth grade, and only 10 percent of those who start high school pass the exam that is given at the end….

“Haiti will never be able to rise to its potential if you have 90 percent of Haitians who cannot be instructed properly,” DeGraff said. “Once you open up that reservoir, what can happen? So many things can happen….Imagine how many well-prepared minds you would have to try to solve the country’s problems.”

Were you to substitute Jamaican Patwa for the words Haitian Creole, the article would still be accurate because the situation DeGraffe describes is exactly the one that prevails here. Read what i’ve said on the subject before and see what i mean:


Jamaican Bible: 'It preserves the dignity of the Jamaican people'
Courtney Stewart of the Bible Society of the West Indies talks to Riazat Butt about a project to translate the Bible into Jamaican patois
(Four minute audio at the link. No transcript though)

2008 The Bible in Jamaican

It is, of course, a tremendously ambitious project, for there is no such thing at the moment as Standard Jamaican Creole. Different dialects are spoken in different parts of Jamaica. One immediately thinks of those in the west who say: "Him ben a come" while others (from the east) say: "Him a come". Both are 'correct', but they are different, and since I do not expect the translators to produce more than one translation, they are going to have to make choices about which variations they will use. And there are many variations. People from deep rural St Thomas speak slightly differently from people in deep rural Portland, and again differently from those in upper Clarendon. There is uptown Jamaican Creole and downtown Jamaican Creole, not to mention the Rastafarian variation. Into whose Jamaican Creole will the Bible be translated?

There is a danger that, with the hegemony of the big city, the translators will produce an uptown St Andrew Creole Bible, the Mona Version, which may defeat their purpose. I remember the disdain with which many in the ghetto treated the UptownReggae of Pluto Shervington and Ernie Smith in the 1970s. If the idea is to reach the Jamaican people with a creole Bible, which Jamaican people will be targeted?


Patwa Rights and Wrongs

Believe it or not, the Jamaican Constitution covertly acknowledges the fact that 'Patwa' is, indeed, a national language. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees 'Patwa' speakers basic rights in the legal system. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself the relevant sections:

Chapter III of the Jamaican Constitution (2011), Section 14 (2):

(2) Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right:

(b) at the time of his arrest or detention or as soon as is reasonably practicable, to be informed, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest or detention;

(c) where he is charged with an offence, to be informed forthwith, in a language which he understands, of the nature of the charge;

Section 16 (6):

(6) Every person charged with a criminal offence shall:

(a) be informed, as soon as is reasonably practicable, in a language which he understands, of the nature of the offence charged;

(e) have the assistance of an interpreter, free of cost, if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;

The Constitution doesn't explicitly state the fact that the language of the court is English. Nor does it openly admit that the first language of the vast majority of Jamaicans is not English, but Jamaican. To concede this gross disparity would be an admission of the fundamental inequity of the justice system. So, instead, we have compromised justice.MORE

Should Creole Replace French in Haiti's Schools?

Creole is the mother tongue in Haiti, but children do most of their schooling in French. Two hundred years after Haiti became the world's first black-led republic, is the use of French holding the nation back?

"The percentage of people who speak French fluently is about 5%, and 100% speak Creole," says Chris Low.

"So it's really apartheid through language."

Ms Low is co-founder of an experimental school, the Matenwa Community Learning Center, which has broken with tradition, and conducts all classes in Creole.MORE

Colonization has been a hell of a thing.
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OP-ED Language Becomes a Political Weapon in Israel

TEL AVIV, Sept 1, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Speaking to the U.S. congress in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu boasted that his country is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, that it is the only place where Arabs "enjoy real democratic rights".

It's true that Palestinian citizens of Israel have some democratic rights, like the vote. But, as Netanyahu told congress: the "path of liberty is not paved by elections alone." And the summer months have seen an acceleration of worrisome anti-democratic trends.

First, the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law, a move that was widely condemned as a strike against free speech and democracy. Even some of Israel’s staunchest supporters expressed concern.

Now lawmakers have introduced a bill that proposes to change the definition of Israel as "Jewish and democratic" to "the national home of the Jewish people".

If passed, the legislation would become part of Israel's Basic Laws, which are used as a working constitution.

Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. According to Haaretz, the proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, "a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts". And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with "special status".

Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel's citizens. It has been an official language of the land since 1924, when the British mandate set three: English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Linguistic marginalisation

When the state of Israel was established in 1948, English was struck from the books. While Arabic remained an official language, it has always gotten second class treatment- as have the citizens who speak it.

Many government forms - including those for Social Security and National Insurance - come in Hebrew only. Arabic-speakers are under-represented in the public sector. So if a Palestinian citizen has weak Hebrew, he or she may be deprived of services or benefits they are legally entitled to and desperately need.

The results are sometimes devastating.


Aug. 27th, 2011 09:09 pm
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PORTUGAL:Young Professionals Flee Crisis - to Former Colonies

LISBON, Aug 22, 2011 (IPS) - Thousands of young people from Portugal are joining an emigration flow that never trickled to a stop but is turning into an exodus now due to the severe economic crisis plaguing this southern European country. And the main destinations of those looking for a better future abroad are former colonies, especially Brazil.

The new emigrants are overwhelmingly young university graduates or skilled technicians, who have failed to find opportunities for personal and professional development at home. Many are drawn by the buoyant optimism prevailing in Brazil, in contrast to the disillusionment and fatalism hanging over Portugal.

The enormous investment this country has made in education in the last two decades seems to be going down the drain – or to Brazil, and to a lesser extent, to other former Portuguese colonies, in Africa and Asia.

For the less-skilled migrants, especially truck drivers, construction equipment operators, construction workers and electricians, the promised land is Angola, where oil and diamonds have made the southwest African country one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Macau, a former Portuguese enclave on the southern coast of China, 70 km southwest of Hong Kong, has also begun to look attractive to victims of the crisis.

The tiny territory, which returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999 after five centuries of Portuguese rule, is often referred to as the Las Vegas of Asia. Besides the robust growth of its travel and tourism market and the presence of a number of Portuguese companies, Macau is attractive to Portuguese investors and traders as a gateway to China.

But it is in Brazil where the Portuguese tend to feel most at home, in terms of cultural identity. "It's like leaving Portugal without really going abroad," Mafalda Assenção, who has a degree in humanities from the University of Lisbon and plans to head overseas, told IPS.

The common language as well as ties with the thriving Portuguese community in Brazil make the country look promising to young people seeking to flee the recession in Portugal.

Young Portuguese professionals who feel they have nothing to lose in a country that offers them neither jobs nor ongoing unemployment benefits find a world of opportunities in moving to the planet's eighth largest economy, which is 94 times the size of Portugal's and has a population 18 times larger than this country.

Soooo...what will happen to the locals in terms of the job market? And how will this work out in terms of class and race?
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Palestinians Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons

EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

"I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes," Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. "All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis."

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated. MORE

2010 The People Speak

GAZA CITY, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - The focus on people's movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel's separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.

In July, 2010, the United Nations IRIN news reported that roughly 39,000 Palestinian children from Gaza would not have schools to attend, following the destruction or severe damage of some 280 schools and kindergartens during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and the continued inability to repair or rebuild due to the severe Israeli-led siege on Gaza and lack of construction materials.

The UN also reports that 88 percent of UNRWA schools and 82 percent of government schools operate on a shift system as a result, still resulting in serious overcrowding. MORE

2010 Divided we Educate

Due to the endemic poverty in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children are forced on to the streets by parents who are living below the poverty level in a desperate bid to eke out a few extra dollars to help their families survive.

These children should be in school securing a better future for themselves but Israel's discriminatory education policies between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem is driving these youngsters out of school – if they are lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place.

Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Jamal Zahalka claimed earlier in the year that "educational provision for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is worse than anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria."

More than 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem do not attend school at all. The dropout rate for Palestinian school students in East Jerusalem is 50 percent, compared with about 12 percent for Jewish students.

"The rate of school dropouts, and the level of poverty amongst Palestinians in East Jerusalem, is frightening," Orly Noy from the Israeli rights group Ir Amim told IPS.

"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," adds Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

The two Israeli human rights organisations accused the Israeli authorities of deliberate discrimination in a report titled 'Failed Grade – The State of the Education System in East Jerusalem'. MORE

2009 Textbooks Become a Dream

A chronic shortage of school supplies, and severely overcrowded classrooms are crippling Gaza's educational system as tens of thousands of children begin a new school year.

Israel's hermetic sealing of the strip, as part of its blockade against Hamas, has prevented most supplies of paper, textbooks, notebooks, ink cartridges, stationery, school uniforms, school bags, and computers and their spare parts.

"Through our education system the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is spreading the message of universal respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence and tolerance in an atmosphere that since the blockade has become increasingly desperate and radicalised," says UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

"The best way for Israel to prevent us spreading that message to the 200,000 Gazan children at our schools is to block us sending in educational supplies," Gunness told IPS.MORE
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The Arab World’s Forgotten Rebellions: Foreign Workers and Biopolitics in the Gulf

The Arab world is undergoing a potentially world-historical transformation. The Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-imolation, following mistreatment by state authorities in late 2010, sparked a deluge of populist anger and activism that has toppled the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, soon to be followed by street demonstrations and battles across the region. At the time of this writing, Libyan rebels in alliance with a NATO coalition are battling Qaddafi and his loyalists. Bahrainis, Omanis, and Yemenis, and most recently Syrians, have taken to the streets en masse, and have been met by the bullets and security thugs–and in Bahrain’s case, Saudi troops–pressed into service by regimes desperately trying to maintain the grip on power of entrenched one-family states. The analogy has been made between these events and the Prague Spring of 1968, both with its hopes for popular challenges of illegitimate state power, and its warnings about the cunning and brutality of such power arranged against popular movements. Yet before these rebellions came others, arguably more modest in their aims and undeniably less noticed by the world media. For years, workers, predominantly South Asians, have been taking to the streets in the United Arab Emirates. What have these protests been about and why have they been ignored? How might they inform future scholarship on the Gulf?MORE
It would be enlightening I think to see the differences and similarities between the immigration debate here in the USA and whats going on in the Gulf.
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Zelaya Returns to Honduras but there is a long way to go before democracy returns to Honduras


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Massive Turnout for Zelaya Launches New Chapter of Honduran Struggle

'Largest gathering in Honduran history' receives deposed leader's return, but where to now for Honduran resistance movement?

Produced by Jesse Freeston.

For More Visit


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The Word on Women - Emotions high over Reproductive Health bill in the Philippines

BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Two female presidents have governed the Philippines, an achievement its neighbours have yet to match. The country also has high-profile female politicians, activists and entertainers who have made names around the world.

Yet these powerful women who run countries and companies successfully have not been allowed to access family planning policies according at will. They cannot go through procedures like tubal ligation without their husbands’ consent or take contraceptive pills without being reminded it is, as the Catholic Church termed it, “intrinsically evil.”

Or, like an outspoken commentator said, “The absurdity is that Filipinas are free to vote, be doctors, lawyers and soldiers, run a business, a political party or the whole country, but cannot even take the Pill. Or we can, but we’re told we’ll go to hell for it.”

This could all change, if Noynoy, as the current president Benigno Aquino III, son of democracy heroine Corazon Aquino, is better known, gets his way in getting the Reproductive Health (RH) bill approved in Philippines’ parliament.

But first he has to get past the country’s most powerful institution, the Catholic Church, which has threatened civil disobedience and likened him to ousted dictator Marcos for warning against such actions.

The bill is currently in second reading and the heated debate over it will continue when Congress resumes in late July.


Around 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic. A poll last year showed seven out of 10 would support an RH bill that does not decriminalize abortion. The Church however opposes access to and information about contraception methods,

One Archbishop called the proposed RH bill a “Sex Bill” where the end products “are promiscuity, insensibility, amorality.”

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Spain's 'Indignant Ones'

While “Europe’s slow-motion financial collapse” – as Mother Jones magazine described it in a June 6tharticle – continues to unravel, Spain, like other European states continues to implement anti-social-neo-liberal policies with strong opposition from the citizenry.

It has been one month since the country’s ‘Indignados’ (Indignant Ones) movement claimed nonviolently sixty city-squares in cities across the country, calling for economic democracy, political justice and peace. Since then, much has happened within Spanish borders, and what is happening there is clearly spreading across Europe, where we have already witnessed social movements making similar demands. We have seen the Bastille in Paris, taken nonviolently by French ‘Indignados’ only to be quickly reclaimed by the country’s police force. We have observed the rise of a parallel movement in Portugal where most city squares have also been camped on by ‘Indignados’, and where only hours before the country’s general elections protestors in Lisbon were attacked and beaten by police. We have witnessed how on that same night, in Athens, Greece, 80,000 protestors congregated in the city’s main square in opposition to the country’s ‘austerity measures’, waving banners in solidarity with the ‘Indignados’ of Spain and of other European country’s. MORE

May 28th 2011 'Democracia Real Ya': When the People in Spain Remind the Government Who They Work for

Anyone who was there during the protest would tell you that they didn’t see it coming. As a matter of fact, how can we explain this movement? Perhaps a little context is necessary for us to understand, even though one does not always find clear answers to that.


On September 29th 2010, thousands of people were asked by the main labor unions to join a protest in the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and all the other major cities, in protest for the austerity measures anounced by the Zapatero government. However, this general strike, deemed a failure by many, left most people disenchanted with traditional politics and the general atmosphere was one of frustration, defeat and a growing sense of individualism, palpable in the streets of Madrid, and also a general mistrust, conveyed in public opinion polls regarding banks, social groups and the political class across the spectrum, as well as a pessimistic view of their future.

So, in other words, nothing at the time would make any observer anticipate what was to happen, nor its magnitude. So the question is, what happened in between? What are the main causes that could explain this phenomenon? MORE

Protests Evolve But Tensions Continue

The mobilizations that started on May 15 in Spain have gradually evolved into local meetings, gatherings and different kinds of initiatives all over the country. Most activists are not focusing on the camps any more. Campers have decided to leave the Madrid square “Puerta del Sol” on June 12, 2011. It became the physical symbol of the people's unease with their political representatives. Netizens are calling this shift “Sol se mueve” (Sol is moving), and using the tag #solsemueve on Twitter.

This does not mean that the movement has died. Assemblies and reunions co-exist with specific actions, like the marches towards city councils on June 11 to protest against the investiture of politicians charged with corruption. In Madrid, the capital city, a sit-in ended up with police charging against demonstrators, which can be seen on the videos widely shared online, like this one by journalist Juan Luis Sánchez of Periodismo Humano [es]:

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The End of Capitalism and the Wellsprings of Radical Hope

But the iniquity of capitalism goes deeper than its injustice as a political economy, its amoral ingenuity in technical prowess or its rapacious relationship to the natural world. However lissome its face or benign its manner, capitalism compels us to be greedy, callous and petty. It takes what the Greeks called pleonexia—an endless hunger for more and more—and transforms it from a tawdry and dangerous vice into the central virtue of the system. The sanctity of “growth” in capitalist culture stems from this moral alchemy, as does the elevation of market competition into a model of human affairs.

The truth is that people matter more than money. While most everyone would agree with that statement, few of us direct our lives guided by the principle.

Conscripting us into an economic war, capitalism turns us into soldiers of fortune, steeled against casualties and collateral damage, ransacking the earth to fill the shelves and banks with plunder. Capitalism stands condemned most profoundly not by its maldistribution of wealth or its ecological despoliation but by its systematic cultivation of people inclined toward injustice and predation. And I think we on the left need to start dismissing as utterly irrelevant the standard apologetic riposte: the material prosperity and technological achievement generated by capitalist enterprise. No amount of goods can compensate for the damage wrought on human nature by the deliberate nurturance of our vilest qualities. The desecration of the values we claim to hold most dear is the primary reason we should want to abolish, not reinvent, capitalism.MOR

Personally, I'm beginning to agree.
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Venezuela: Debates on laws and Identities

May, the month of “Afro-Venezuelan” culture, ended this year with a new law against racial discrimination and a proposal to create a ministry for African descent. The news shot up largely in the Venezuelan blogosphere, as some shared opinions regarding one of the most complex and confusing aspects of the country: identity.
In the last few years, Hugo Chávez's government and his standard for inclusion has brought back profound discussions regarding equality and social justice. Historically, the process of interracial mixing and immigration has made Venezuelan society look at itself as tolerant and egalitarian before different ethnicities, particularly in comparison to other countries, in which coexistence has resulted in significantly more unstable consequences.

Wikipedia article, “Immigration to Venezuela,” [es] presents an introduction to understand this phenomenon [es]:


La Inmigración en Venezuela, ha sido constante desde la independencia del país en 1830. Con anterioridad, al inicio de la época colonial la población predominante era de origen indígena, española y africana. Con el tiempo aumentaron los mestizos de las tres razas, los cuales se convirtieron en la población mayoritaria en el siglo XVIII. La población indígena disminuyó en el siglo XVI, el siglo de la conquista por parte de España, no solamente a consecuencia de la propia conquista sino por la introducción de enfermedades.
Venezuela recibió una gran cantidad de inmigrantes entre 1948 y 1961 cuando aún era un país de apenas 5 millones de habitantes por lo tanto el proceso de mestizaje ha sido muy intenso.

Immigration to Venezuela has been constant since the country's independence in 1830. Previously, upon the start of the colonial era, the population predominantly was of indigenous, Spanish and African origins. With time, mestizos of three races emerged, and formed a majority in the population in the 18th century. The indigenous population diminished in the 16th century, the century of Spanish conquest, not only as a result of the conquest but also due to the introduction of diseases.

Venezuela received a large quantity of immigrants between 1948 and 1961 when it was still a country of barely 5 million people and, as such, the process of interracial mixing has been quite intense.
Nevertheless, the social inequalities that separate the different ethnicities have been signaled more diligently in recent years. It remains despite the fact that many think that Venezuelan society does not suffer from these problems, there are discriminatory practices very present in the country's daily life, though they may not necessarily be openly acknowledged.Juandemaro explains it further in his post “A los negros les llegó su día” [es] (The day for blacks has arrived):MORE
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SPAIN:Protest Movement Spreads to Neighbourhoods, Small Towns

MALAGA, Spain, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - The May 15 Movement (15-M) which sprang up as huge rallies in public squares in Spain's largest cities to protest against the political, economic and social system, is multiplying as assemblies in local neighbourhoods in provincial capitals and other municipalities.

"The idea is for the movement to decentralise and carry on working in the neighbourhoods and small towns," Laura Rueda, a 29-year-old unemployed journalist and one of the spokespersons for the movement, told IPS in the southern city of Málaga, where they are still debating whether to continue camping in the central Constitution square. MORE
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Spain: Nobody expects the Spanish Revolution

Spain | Nobody expects the Spanish revolution
In Spain there's definitely something going on: starting last May 15th thousands have taken to the streets to protest against corruption, unemployment, and the current political system.

People organized themselves in peaceful sit-ins, first in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, then in many other Spanish cities and towns. They spread the word using social networks and they are using mostly Twitter to ask for technical and practical things to help the permanent gatherings.
The most popular hashtags are #acampadasol, #nonosvamos, #spanishrevolution
The Twitter account of Democracia Real Ya has 37.000 followers, more than the combined followers of the accounts of PSOE and PP, the two main Spanish parties.


From ontd_political = Nobody expects the Spanish Revolution: Maybe that's why scarce coverage is to be seen, specially on Spanish media but also some at major international sources.

We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us.

Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.
This situation has become normal, a daily suffering, without hope. But if we join forces, we can change it. It’s time to change things, time to build a better society together. Therefore, we strongly argue that:


- The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness.

- These are inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.

- The current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress.

Tens of thousands of protesters defy ban in Spain

(AP) MADRID (AP) — Tens of thousands of people are defying a pre-election ban on demonstrations and protesting unemployment in squares around Spain in defiance of an order to quit at midnight.

The government has avoided saying if it would order police to break up the crowds on Saturday.

People are angry over Spain's high unemployment rate and what they see as the national political parties' ineptitude in dealing with a deep economic crisis. Protesters built a camp in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square Sunday, a week ahead of nationwide elections.

Friday was the last day for candidates to campaign for the election for municipal and regional government positions nationwide. Citing the mandatory end of campaigning, the national election commission banned protests Saturday.

Spain: 'Yes We Camp', Mobilizing on the Streets and the Internet We Camp

According to the Madrid Election Board there are“no special or serious reasons” [es] for the urgent call for mass demonstrations. These declarations show the gap between the official discourse and citizen demands, and has swelled opposition against the two main political parties. Protests have spread across the country and the Internet, with hundreds of thousands demonstrating in different cities like Málaga, Granada and Tenerife, and users sharing updates and supporting each other through social media, especially Twitter:
#acampadasol Mojándose por la democracia y por unos derechos y unos deberes más justos. Mucho Ánimo desde #acampadasegovia #nonosvamos

#acampadasol Getting wet for democracy and for more equitable rights and duties. Much Encouragement from #acampadasegovia

#nonosvamos Events in solidarity with Spain have also been organized, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, in front of Spanish embassies in different cities like London or Jerusalem.
@Anon_Leakspin: At 19:00 a camp at Spanish embassy at London (UK) will start. #spanishrevolution #europeanrevolution #yeswecamp #acampadasol”
Citizens have organized efficiently into legal, communications, cleaning, food, health, and even music committees. There was so much food brought to the camps out that organizers had to look for somewhere to store it. Also, dozens continue to volunteer to translate documents and the committee's decisions into English, French, Arabic and sign language. MORE
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WARNING: All the Videos contain disturbing images of hurt and dead people.

Report from Land Occupations in Post-Coup Honduras
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Brutal Repression in Honduras Targets Teachers, Popular Resistance

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Honduran Students Defend Occupied National University / Estudiantes Defienden La UNAH en Raw Footage

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Towards the Reconstruction of the Country:
The Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Black People of Honduras

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March 1 Military Coups are good for Canadian Business: The Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement

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With Increased US Aid, Honduras Militarises Anti-Drug Fight

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Zelaya says he fears being killed in Honduras even after arrest warrants dropped

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Has Lesotho bridged the gender gap?

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MOZAMBIQUE Educator in the foothills of her political career

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BOTSWANA: Women in Politics – A House Divided… But Determined

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ECUADOR Trees on Shaky Ground in Texaco’s Rainforest

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EL SALVADOR-HONDURAS Forgotten People of the Border Pact

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EWAMT:Yemeni Women in Protest

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Empowerment of Women Activists in Media Techniques -Yemen

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Deaf seek level field on disability

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The Word on Women - Rehabilitation cuts no ice with India's sex workers\

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A wild weekend of rebellion and repression
Three journalists among those arrested, with deportation proceedings against a La Prensa columnist:Martinelli sends in cops, lashes out at anti-mining protesters

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Preliminary report on human rights violations during the days of protest against mining reform in Panama, January to March 2011 PDF Format

Rival leaders assert claims in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca

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US citizen remains a political prisoner in Panama:WikiLeaks highlights, worsens US-Panamanian relations

Read more... )

WikiLeaks: Colombian company, subsidiary of Panamanian company, was doing Plan Colombia and US Defense Department subcontracting despite many reputed drug cartel ties

Read more... )


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No family in Britain will escape George Osbourne's cuts Read more... )Diary of a disability benefit claimant Read more... )

'The medical was an absolute joke'

Read more... )

USA update

Mar. 26th, 2011 01:00 am
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Vermont House passes Single Payer!!! Woootttttt!!!! Vt. House passes single-payer health care bill Read more... )

Eyewitness at the Triangle
Read more... )


On a related theme, daily kos user dsteffen has an ongoing series called How regulation came to be. I keep hearing a whole lot of people talking utter nonsense about how regulations are bad for business because how dare the consumer be kept safe at the expense of the almighty dollar, and the free market will keep us safe, blah blah blah. Such people need to be hit over the head with historical cluebats. 
And you know what? Mr. Dsteffens has a GREAT selection: Read more... ) Black Kos' Week in Review features black scientists and artists. 

Makeshift Magazine's newest issue is now out 

General Electric, btw, paid no taxes this year
 None. Zip. nada. Despite make a grand worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, of which $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. But they did get a tax credit! Guess how much? 

Have some news of radical childcare collectives in an article originally published in Make/shift mag Read more... )


This is from the rather pro-business and low taxes Wall Street Journal. Proceed with that in mind:Insolvency Looms as States Drain U.S. Disability Fund Read more... )


Unsurprisingly :Disability Claims in Puerto Rico Get New Scrutiny I want to see more about this situation, will keep you posted as to developments. 

In more happy-making news:Workers With Epilepsy, Diabetes Gain Under Obama Disability Rule Read more... )


U.S. Hispanic population tops 50 million Read more... )
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Migrant Refugees Swept into Revolutions in Libya and Bahrain
Over the past several weeks, the images emerging from the Middle East and North Africa have shocked and awed Western audiences, who had never seen, or bothered to notice, the massive potential of people power to challenge the rule of ossified dictators. But the protest movements across the region have also shed light on less glorious struggles that pervade stratified Arab societies. If the young protesters represent the rise of civil society forces, the imported migrant laborers caught in the crossfire reflect the often-hidden economic and ethnic dimensions to the region's power struggles.MORE
Foreign Laborers Targeting throughout Bahrain
MANAMA, Mar 25, 2011 (IPS) - As protests in Bahrain continue, increasingly migrant workers are being victimised in violent hate crimes. "We expats are victims of hate crimes because we didn’t leave the country or become part of the general strike called by the opposition to keep Bahrain on hold," Nastufi Sharma, and Indian who has been working in Bahrain since 1997, told IPS. "To stop locals from going to work, roads were blocked… we were attacked."

... Eight migrant workers died and approximately 49 sustained various injuries since Mar. 17 when the government with the support of Cooperation Council of the Arab Gulf States (GCC) peninsula shield troops started cracking down on demonstrations blocking roads in Manama - the financial capital of Bahrain. The government has also declared a three-month state of emergency to be enforced by the Bahrain Defence Force. Most expats are not yet considering leaving the country, hoping for the situation to revert to normal. They fear of losing their jobs and not finding new ones back home. MORE
Revolts bypass domestic workers
The uprisings sweeping the Arab world have been provoked by long injustice, low income, police brutality, and lack of social security. While the world looks at this, the suffering of up to three million maids across the Arab world remains wrapped in silence. Victims of abuse, confinement and rape, migrant domestic workers are often invisible because they suffer in places that remain hidden to the public eye, mostly private homes. A freelance Indonesian domestic worker in Jordan says, "If you go to the Indonesian embassy in Jordan you will see hundreds of women who ran away from their employer. "I also ran away after mistreatment. I want to go back to Indonesia but the embassy has no money to send us."MORE

Bahrain protests Victim vs. victim

Migrant workers and the Shia community comprise two victimised populations in Bahrain; a new system that truly aims to be just and representative must not pitch them against each other.
“They were beating me so hard I could no longer see, there was so much blood running from my head.” These were the words of Bahraini physician Dr Sadek Al-Ikri to BBC reporters about the security forces’ crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain. But this was not all. Dr Al-Ikri also told the journalists that the men beating him refused to stop even when he told them that he was a doctor and that he spoke Urdu. The role of Pakistani migrant workers in the protests in Bahrain has since been highlighted by other international news outlets too. A report in the Guardian said that Bahrainis resent the fact that many riot police and security forces do not speak Arabic and denounce them as mercenary soldiers with little empathy for the common people. The Canadian press reported that a majority of participants in pro-government demonstrations were Sunni Arabs and Pakistanis who have recently been granted citizenship in Bahrain. In the words of one regime supporter, Abdelrahman Ahmed, a 21-year-old student born in Bahrain of Pakistani parents, “We always support the government and they are always on our side.”MORE
2011-03-05 Cables: The Vulnerability of Black African Migrant Workers in Libya
A cable from December 2007 features Gaddafi Development Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yusuf Sawani discussing trans-national terrorism threats and security with US diplomats. The director talks about the fact that a million sub-Saharan African guest workers are resident in Libya and says it should be a “cause of concern.” The workers are a concern because Dr. Sawani believes any of those individuals could possibly commit an act of terrorism. In recent days, many of those guest workers have fled, as Libyans have grown suspicious and attacked a number of black Africans due to reports that Leader Muammar Gaddafi hired “black African mercenaries.”

The latest from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicates 191,000 or more have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. A previous report estimated around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, 2,000 Nepalese and other African and Asian migrant workers are hosted by the country.

OCHA reports have been tracking the risk of violence migrant workers face.MORE
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Here are a few links. After I've finished with my school day, I'll look for some good articles. For now:

Three older dictators bowing under the stress of freedom demands?

Former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in grave condition in hospital

Egypt domino effect: Hosni Mubarak 'very sick'

There were reports around the time that Mubarak was being thrown out that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was sick with the stress. I don't see much of those reports anymore so maybe they were rumours...

Al Jazeera English

Live Blog - Libya Finally!

Live Blog - Bahrain

The Guardian:

Middle East protests - Live Which include updates on Iran, Iraq and Algeria plus Yemen.

The Arabist

The Arabist Blog looks interesting.

The LA Times
and they link to the fact that Jordan is still having protests too.

LIBYA: Google map marks protest, violence, deaths

Global Post

Feb 17..Have Yemen protests reached a turning point?:In biggest showing yet, thousands of anti-government protesters turn out in Sanaa

Link to stuff you have seen!

ETA: A cautionary note: Learning from past revolutions

[On Feb 20]: Morocco protests will test regime's claims to liberalism:Facebook groups are calling the country's youth on to the streets of cities including Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangier on Sunday to demand constitutional reform and proper democracy

ETA 2 NEw Yorker says Bahraini Protests have been going on since the eighties

The Bahraini opposition—some of whose factions have been influenced by Iran, but which, in total, is by no means a proxy for Tehran—has persisted with its resistance and illegal street protests. The street battles this week are typical of what has been going on in Bahrain, without much attention, on and off since the nineteen-eighties.

Read more Bahrain’s Long Revolution

And One MORE thing: Mass protests as Egyptians mark "Victory Day" (Roundup)

Oh GOD. The last thing I SWEAR /o\ Blogpost by Saudiwoman, which has been recced to me more than once, and was linked to the Guardian page: The Arab Revolution Saudi Update Please note that Saudi Arabia is suspected to be all up in the Bahraini revolution because it fears that its Shia population would be encouraged to start demanding rights.

Saudi Arabia has a Shiite minority concentrated in its eastern oil-producing hub that also complains of discrimination. Any spread of unrest into the world’s biggest oil exporter risks pushing crude prices above the 2 1/2-year high reached this week. Authorities arrested 38 people after clashes involving Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Medina two months ago.MORE
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Lets just link to the demographic breakdown of Egypt posted on Wiki as a starting point.

Time Magazine notes in its report on the Egyptian Uprising that:

And a prominent Bedouin smuggler in the Sinai peninsula told TIME that Bedouin are now in control of the two towns closest to the Gaza Strip, and that they planned to press on to attack the Suez Canal if Mubarak does not step down. He also said that police stations in the south Sinai would be attacked if Bedouin prisoners were not released.


As for Mubarak himself, shouts would go up among the crowds in Tahrir Square every time a rumor rippled through that he had left the country. It is widely believed, however, that the president remains in his vacation home in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik in the south Sinai — the very spot the Bedouin have their eyes on.


Egypt police shoot Bedouin protester dead -sources

CAIRO Jan 27 (Reuters) - Security forces shot dead a Bedouin protester in the north of Egypt's Sinai region on Thursday, eyewitnesses and a security source said.

The 22-year-old man, Mohamed Atef, was shot in the head while demonstrating in the town of Sheikh Zoweid, they said. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters.

Bedouin kill 3 Egyptian police in attack on building

ISMAILIA, Egypt Jan 29 (Reuters) - A group of Bedouin on Saturday attacked state security headquarters in the town of Rafah near Egypt's border with Israel, killing three policemen, witnesses and a security source said.MORE

So Why are the Bedouin pissed off?

Read more... )


Jul. 14th, 2010 01:36 am
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via: [personal profile] pecunium Anonymous group stalks Latinos in Utah and makes list of 1300 people it claims are illegal immigrants This is reprehensible oh my god, people who did this? You are evil bastards and should feel bad.

An anonymous group says it quietly watched Hispanics in their neighborhoods, schools, churches and "public welfare buildings" to compile a list of 1,300 people it says are illegal immigrants living in Utah. The group sent the list to law enforcement agencies and news media demanding that those named "be deported immediately."

It is not known who produced the list, although Gov. Gary Herbert has called for an investigation to see if the list was compiled by someone with access to state databases containing personal information. The list contains birthdates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers. Names of children are included. Several pregnant women have their exact due dates listed. All the names seem to be Hispanic.

"This is a way to terrorize people," said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino and a former state director of Hispanic affairs.

He spent much of Tuesday calling people on the list to warn them and to figure out who may have collected the information.

"I'm nauseated," he said through tears. "All of these people are terrified. I don't have words to describe how scared they are. It just breaks my heart what they are telling me."

While some are worried about deportation, others fear that "crazy people" could use the list to hurt them or their families, Yapias said.

He said wording of the letter has made some Hispanics wonder if they are being followed.MORE scary shit at the link



Meantime back in Arizona :30 Protests in 30 Days for Arizona Activists

We Won't Play in Arizona, Say Latino Baseball All Stars

Janet Murguia, President of NCLR, urges Bud Selig to move the MLB All-Star Game

The six governors of Mexico's border states have basically said there's no way in hell they're stepping foot in Arizona for the annual meeting of border governors.

Feds suing Arizona Over SB 1070
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The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age

Homo sapiens is aging fast, and the implications of this may overwhelm all other factors shaping the species over the coming decades - with more wrinklies than pimplies, more walking frames than bike stabilisers, more slippers and pipes than bootees and buggies, and more grey power than student power. The longevity revolution affects every country, every community and almost every household. It promises to restructure the economy, reshape the family, redefine politics and even rearrange the geopolitical order over the coming century.


Non-celebrities also remain active, assertive and independent as they age. They fill library and seminar halls once crammed with callow youths. They run picket lines - or marathons. Far from being a weight round society's neck, many of them look like a new human resource waiting to be tapped. Millions of the middle-class retired continue working at everything from lucrative consultancies to teaching literacy or finally finishing that PhD. They are often more valuable than the young workers the demographers imagine are supporting them: in fact, the growing number of society's most qualified, most experienced individuals is potentially a huge demographic dividend.

In future, old people will be expected to stay in the formal economy for longer. The idea of a retirement age was invented by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s, when as chancellor of Germany he needed a starting age for paying war pensions. He chose the age of 65 because that was typically when ex-soldiers died. But today in developed countries, and soon in poorer ones, women can expect nearly 30 years of retirement, and men 20 years.

There is a deal to be done: longer working in return for more, and more powerful, legislation to outlaw the ageism that blights the working lives of many in late middle age. The old will also expect a society that does not marginalise them; they will consider it a right to live in homes, cities and workplaces redesigned to meet their physical requirements.

Some worry that an older workforce will be less innovative and adaptable, but there is evidence that companies with a decent proportion of older workers are more productive than those addicted to youth. This is sometimes called the Horndal effect, after a Swedish steel mill where productivity rose by 15 per cent as the workforce got older. Age brings experience and wisdom. Think what it could mean when the Edisons and Einsteins of the future, the doctors and technicians, the artists and engineers, have 20 or 30 more years to give us.MORE
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When we last left Honduras, there was an agreement signed that Zelaya at least, believed would have led him on a path back to power. The United States helped to scuttle that agreement a day after I posted that:

U.S. State Department Sells Out Honduran Democracy for Senate Confirmations

In one of the lowest points in U.S. diplomatic history, the State Department announced a turnabout in its Honduran policy and stated it will recognize the results of Nov. 29 elections even if held under the military coup.

The new strategy to promote elections without first assuring a return to constitutional order torpedoes the accord that the State Department itself brokered and was signed by President Manuel Zelaya and coup leader Roberto Micheletti on Oct. 29.

On Nov. 4, just days after Secretary of State Clinton anounced a major breakthrough in resolving the Honduran political crisis, Asst. Secretary of State Thomas Shannon stated in an interview with CNN that “the formation of the National Unity Government is apart from the reinstatement of President Zelaya” and that the Honduran Congress will decide when and if Zelaya is reinstated. His surprise declaration scuttled the point of reinstatement in the agreement, leaving the matter up in the air while confirming that the U.S. government will recognize elections anyway.

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Lewis Anselem and Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens confirmed this new position. At the OAS meeting, Anselem, whose disparaging remarks toward Latin American countries have alienated many southern diplomats, criticized the other nations’ refusal to recognize elections staged by a coup regime, “I’ve heard many in this room say that they will not recognize the elections in Honduras… I’m not trying to be a wiseguy, but what does that mean? What does that mean in the real world, not in the world of magical realism?”

Llorens also portrayed the new policy as pragmatism, stating on Nov. 8, “The elections will be part of the reality and will return Honduras to the path of democracy.”

The repeated use of "reality" as the justification for the policy change shows an attempt on the part of the State Department to unilaterally impose a definition of Honduran reality—contrary to its own previous definition and that of the international community. This unilateral diplomacy harks back to Bush foreign policies that many Americans and Latin Americans believed had been thrown out with the incoming Obama administrationHow the fix went down

Read more... )

Oh Canada!

Oct. 6th, 2009 08:42 am
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[personal profile] stoneself

So, first there was this:Expecting (swine) flu assistance, reserves get body bags from Ottawa

Aboriginal leaders said they were outraged and confused when dozens of body bags were delivered to remote Manitoba reserves after native communities demanded federal resources to fight a second wave of the H1N1 flu outbreak.

Chiefs interpreted the grim shipments as a dire prediction of what Ottawa expects will happen during this flu season to natives, who were hardest hit by swine flu in the spring.


And now, we find this:Alcohol worries kept hand sanitizer from flu-hit reserves
OTTAWA -- Federal officials spent days debating whether to send hand sanitizers to First Nations communities struggling with swine flu outbreaks because of their alcohol content, a Senate committee heard Tuesday.MORE



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