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Why do we need an Occupy Australia?

Many Australians have questioned the need for an Occupy movement of our own. In contrast to the US, we’re not struggling in quite the same way, economically, having never slipped into recession or been caught up in the Eurozone debt crisis. There are no largescale cuts to public jobs as in Europe or the U.S. At The Referral, Kimberley Ramplin points out that the Australian economy is quite healthy, comparatively speaking:


5.2 per cent unemployment in September 2011. As the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Measures of Australia’s Progress 2011 report shows, pretty much everything (barring productivity) has improved since 2000. Including unemployment. The bad news? That increase applies to threatened animal species due to climate change. The average weekly income per full-time employed adult is $1,305. The average hourly income is between $29.70 and$33.10 (the disparity? Female wages c.f. men) (Source: ABS)

I’ve lived in Australia and the U.S and I know from personal experience that the substantially lower standard of living in the U.S is something few Australians can truly understand. Things are not perfect in Australia economically – not with the astronomical housing prices – but we can’t say that the middle class has collapsed in the same way as in the U.S.


We do ourselves no favours when we uncritically mimic American models without changing them to suit local conditions. The cultural cringe is no more useful in activism than it is in other areas. The 99/1% slogan is powerful stuff indeed but doesn’t adequately address the income distribution of Australia as accurately in the United States. Activism must respond to local needs to be successful.

So what's wrong with Australia? A lot, as it turns out


But the interesting thing is what she decided to leave out...that awesome economic bubble somehow manages to miss the Aborigines. Apparently this isn't a local need? Of course, that capitalist system was immeasurably boosted by colonization, stealing, killing and otherwise exploiting said Aborigines and their land, which brings up the whole issuetastic problem with the name Occupy and what it reveals about the terms of debate anyway.
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Gold or Water: The Fight Goes on in El Salvador

At this moment, unbeknownst to most of the world, the government of El Salvador is in the midst of a decision that could make it the first country in the world to ban gold mining. Corporate eyes are trained on this tiny nation, hoping it will decide that mining revenues are too lucrative to forgo. So too should those of us who believe that people and their ecosystems come first be doing our part to make sure that corporate interests do not determine what should be a democratic decision among Salvadorans.

Earlier this year, we traveled to El Salvador for The Nation to learn more about how the first progressive government (led by the FMLN party) in El Salvador in decades was deliberating over its choices. As part of its 2009 election promises, the government of Mauricio Funes had announced it would grant no new mining permits during its five-year term and that it was considering a permanent ban. Once elected, the Funes government initiated a major “strategic environmental review” to help set longer-term national policy on mining.

So, we found ourselves at the Ministry of the Economy, which along with the Environment Ministry, is leading the review. (Can you imagine the U.S. Treasury Department and EPA joining forces to do a collaborative review of U.S. policy?) With us was the man overseeing the review process from the economy ministry: engineer Carlos Duarte. Duarte explained that the goal was to do a “scientific” analysis, with the help of a Spanish consulting firm.

We pushed further, trying to understand how a technical analysis could capture the two sides of such a high-stakes issue. On one hand, El Salvador is a country of deep poverty, with people desperately in need of jobs. How could it not be tempted by visions of earnings from gold exports, especially now that gold’s price had skyrocketed from under $300 an ounce a decade ago to over $1,500 an ounce at the time of our meeting with Duarte? This view is perhaps best epitomized by former Salvadoran finance minister and mining company economic adviser Manuel Hinds, who said that “renouncing gold mining would be unjustifiable and globally unprecedented.”

On the other hand, there is the environmental cost. Here we quoted to Duarte from Maria Silvia Guillen, the head of the Salvadoran human rights group FESPAD: “El Salvador is a small beach with a big river that runs through it. If the river dies, the entire country dies.”MORE
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Secret Cables: Big Pharma's Prints Cover US Foreign Policy


Among the hundreds of thousands of secret US State Department cables recently released by WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblower website, a cache reveals US diplomats defending the interests of big pharmaceutical companies, even at the risk of the hosting nation’s own public health priorities. The memos dutifully detail the many embassy meetings with local Big Pharma reps, during which US officials are presented with laundry lists of issues to raise with one or another local government ministry. Invariably the goal of the exercise is for pharma to pressure the US to pressure the host country to give favorable treatment to expensive brand name drugs, typically by preventing in-country manufacturing or marketing of far cheaper generic versions.

Separate cables show such industry profiteering tactics threatening to taint US diplomatic relations in emerging nations such as Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and India. Overall, a familiar picture emerges of a diplomatic corps if not held hostage by, at least a captive audience to, the financial interests of the biggest American pharma companies as they come into covert conflict with developing nations that quite naturally prioritize the health care of their people over the high margins that Big Pharma has come to expect. With several hundred drugs and vaccines in development to treat addiction, the scourge of hundreds of millions worldwide, the affordability and accessibility of these innovative (and, no doubt, expensive) medicines will become a pitched battle in global public health over the next decade. The outcome of the skirmishes sketched in the WikiLeaks cables will help decide whether profits or people prove victorious.

The cables by no means paint a uniform portrait of government lackeys doing industry's bidding. Many memos betray a between-the-lines irritation at pharma's monomaniacal self-interest. Still, there is a disturbing silence on the obvious moral or ethical objections to industry demands for high price, long patents, and other protections despite the cost in human lives. Only a single cable—from the outgoing US ambassador to Poland in 2009—lays bare the vast greed that drives these complex, highly technical negotiations.

The developing nations, contrary to what you might expect, in many ways hold the best cards in this political game. Emerging nations have the fastest-growing economies, the most upwardly mobile middle classes, and the biggest untapped markets in the world. And in their impressive pushback against Big Pharma, India has been the 800-pound gorilla over the past decade. A democracy with well-educated but relatively inexpensive brain power, the pharma industry views India not merely as a market but as a potential new hub of drug development and testing.

Aware of its advantage, India has played hardball, starting with its approval of local generic HIV drugs for its hundreds of thousands of citizens with the virus—a defiant challenge to Big Pharma, which had refused to discount its own brand-name AIDS drugs to affordable levels. (In the US, HIV treatment costs as much as $15,000 a year; the Indian generic knocked out knockoffs with a $350 price tag.) In addition, India’s supreme court has been fearless in shooting down foreign pharmas when they sue for patent infringement by Indian generic companies. When an emerging nation's entire legal and legislative apparatus unite to oppose industry interests, the company can either fold its hand or fold up its tent. When drug companies retaliated by boycotting India and refusing to sell new drugs there, they attracted universal opprobrium for denying sick people medicines.


MORE

YES!!!

Oct. 3rd, 2011 07:46 pm
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Supreme Court ruling opens doors to drug injection clinics across Canada Sit DOWN conservatives!!


The Supreme Court of Canada has opened the door to supervised drug injection clinics across the country in a landmark decision on Friday that ordered the federal government to stop interfering with Vancouver’s controversial Insite clinic.

The Court was persuaded by evidence that drug addicts are considerably safer administering their own injections under medical surveillance rather than obtaining and injecting hard drugs on the streets of the city’s troubled Downtown Eastside.

In its 9-0 decision, it said the federal government has the jurisdictional right to use criminal law to restrict illicit-drug use – but that the concerns it cited in an attempt to close Insite were “grossly disproportionate” to the benefits for drug users and the community.

“During its eight years of operation, Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada,” the Court said. “The effect of denying the services of Insite to the population it serves and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users is grossly disproportionate to any benefit that Canada might derive from presenting a uniform stance on the possession of narcotics.”

In ordering the Harper government to exempt the clinic from prosecution for its activities, the Court said that the government cannot simply close down clinics based on its own distaste for legally sanctioned drug injections.

It said that the consequences of interrupting the work of the clinic could have such “grave consequences” that only a direct court order can be assured that the spirit of the judgment would not be circumvented. MORE
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Cuba Announces Release of the World's First Lung Cancer Vaccine

From the island nation known for the quality of its cigars comes some pretty big news today: Xinhua reports that Cuban medical authorities have released the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer. CimaVax-EGF is the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology, and it could make a life or death difference for those facing late-stage lung cancers, researchers there say.

CimaVax-EGF isn’t a vaccine in the preventative sense--that is, it doesn’t prevent lung cancer from taking hold in new patients. It’s based on a protein related to uncontrolled cell proliferation--that is, it doesn’t prevent cancer from existing in the first place but attacks the mechanism by which it does harm.

As such it can turn aggressive later-stage lung cancer into a manageable chronic disease by creating antibodies that do battle with the proteins that cause uncontrolled cell proliferation, researchers say. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are still recommended as a primary means of destroying cancerous tissue, but for those showing no improvement the new vaccine could be a literal lifesaver.MORE

Uhm

Aug. 28th, 2011 06:34 pm
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Wikileaks has released some new cables. One particularly disturbing in this one: GERMANY REQUESTS ASSURANCES ON VIRUS EXPORT, in which a German firm has the intention to export dangerous viruses to the U.S. army.

A German firm has applied for the approval of the export of
184 genetic elements with nucleic acid sequences of viruses
for the production of recombinant viruses. The viruses will
be used in optical imaging to identify host factors required
for viral replication. The recipient in the USA is,
according to the enclosed end use certificate, the Department
of the Army "US Army Medical Research Institute for
Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)" Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Specifications in English about the goods, the recipient and
end use can be seen from the end use certificate.
The goods are controlled by the Australia Group and are
subject to compulsory export approval (List position
C1C353A). This matter concerns the complete genome of
viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria
Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which
are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the
world. The delivery would place the recipient in the
position of being able to create replicating recombinant
infectious species of these viruses.


I don't know. Can someone give me a good explanation for this?
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U.S. Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians



WASHINGTON, Jul 27, 2011 (IPS) - Amidst growing fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default next week, a key Republican-led Congressional committee Wednesday approved deep cuts in foreign aid and contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions next year.

While leaving some eight billion dollars in President Barack Obama's requests for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan relatively untouched, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to the rest of the developing world by an average of around 25 percent.

It also made major cuts in U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. and some of its specialised agencies, and some international financial institutions (IFIs).

It sliced a total of 600 million dollars from the administration's 3.5-billion-dollar request for the U.N. and its peacekeeping operations, for example.

It also halved Washington's 143-million-dollar 2012 pledge to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and zeroed out U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rejected proposed capital increases for IFIs that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

It cut the operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 35 percent, essentially reversing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts to build up the ranks of both agencies.

Moreover, it made significant cuts to major programmes designed to help some of the world's most vulnerable people.

It cut 18 percent – to just over seven billion dollars – from Obama's request for global health projects, which had been one of former President George W. Bush's signal foreign-policy achievements.

It cut Obama's requested family-planning programmes worldwide by 40 percent, from 770 million dollars to 461 million dollars, and reinstated the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services.

And it cut development assistance by 12 percent, from 863 million dollars this year to 758 million dollars in 2012, and emergency refugee and migration assistance by 36 percent, from 50 million dollars to 32 million dollars. ...

On the Middle East, the bill calls for 1.3 billion dollars in aid to Egypt, provided that the secretary of state can certify that its government is adhering fully to the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel and that no part of its government is controlled by a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation".

The latter condition also applies to Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, while any Palestinian government that forms an agreement with Hamas would not be eligible to receive U.S. aid. Lowey, the ranking Democrat, indicated support for the Middle East provisions of the bill. Earlier this month, she co-signed a letter with Granger to PA President Mahmoud Abbas warning him that his pursuit of recognition for Palestine at the U.N. would likely cost him all of the nearly 500 million dollars Washington provides to the PA. MORE
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People & Power: Freedom from Pain




For much of the Western world, physical pain ends with a simple pill. Yet more than half the world's countries have little to no access to morphine, the gold standard for treating medical pain.

Freedom from Pain shines a light on this under-reported story. "For a victim of police torture, they will usually sign a confession and the torture stops," says Diederik Lohman of Human Rights Watch in the film. "For someone who has cancer pain, that torturous experience continues for weeks, and sometimes months on end."

Unlike so many global health problems, pain treatment is not about money or a lack of drugs, since morphine costs pennies per dose and is easily made. The treatment of pain is complicated by many factors, including drug laws, bureaucratic rigidity and commercial disincentives.

In India, the first stop in the film and the world's largest grower of medicinal poppy for developed countries, there are severe restrictions to the use of morphine domestically. In 27 out of 28 states in India, narcotics laws are so strict that doctors fear prescribing it, and patients literally scream for relief. Drug companies have little incentive to manufacture morphine for the domestic market because of reporting requirements and small profit margins.

In the Ukraine, the film reveals that access to pain medication is halted by outdated, Soviet-style bureaucracy, arbitrary limits on doses, and a lack of oral morphine. As a result, many patients experience prolonged bouts of untreated pain, particularly in rural areas. In the Ukraine, we learn that Artur, a former decorated KGB colonel suffering from prostate cancer, sleeps with a gun under his pillow - his only way out, should he decide his pain is too great. MORE


Poppies for Pain Relief


Millions of individuals worldwide suffer from acute or chronic painwithout adequate access to pain medication. The problem is particularly acute in the developing world, as Time Magazinechronicled last year:

Whether you will have access to pain treatment depends largely upon where you live. Africa, which has most of the world’s AIDS victims, is a painkiller wasteland. In India, more than a million cancer and AIDS sufferers die each year in extreme pain as cumbersome regulations and paperwork make it nearly impossible to get prescription painkillers. (India produces much of the world’s legal opium, yet nearly all of it is exported to Western pharmaceutical companies.)

The geography of pain relief is so skewed that the seven richest countries consume 84% of the world’s supply of legal opiates, according to the International Narcotics Control Board, an independent agency that enforces U.N. conventions. For the estimated 10 million people who are suffering from untreated pain, relief is often found only on the black market, or in death

This gaping unmet need and global inequity is becoming the subject of various calls for change, by pain experts, by cancer treatment advocates, by international organizations, and by the human rights community. As Brent Foster explains in this podcast, the reasons behind the inequitable global distribution of pain medication are complex – like many intractable global social problems that get too little attention by policymakers.

However, a significant (and solvable) aspect of the problem is simply the relationship of supply to demand: the need for analgesics like morphine far outweighs the available supply. In part, this is due to the fact that such analgesics are produced from opium, the sap of the poppy. Since the same plant extract can also be used to produce heroin, a significant amount of political effort is now being expended worldwide to actually inhibit, rather than encourage, opoid production. This fuels shortages of analgesics.MORE



Getting Relief in Wartime: Opioids, Pain Management, and the War on Drugs

Profile from the War on Drugs: Joseph Casias

The Government's Cruel War On Pain Medication

The Pain Relief Network Archives


ETA: Depending on narcotics via [personal profile] annaham
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

Read more... )
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Why the News of the World Scandal is relevant to you no matter where you live

To the general public, all of this might seem very domestically British, very distant and while certainly a political misfortune, a series of events that hold little weight for the rest of us, non British residents. Except that our every day lives, no matter where we are, what our socio economic background is, are shaped by this scandal. Because you see, News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the man you can hold accountable for not being able to access an abortion provider. The man you can hold accountable for the increase of intolerance and xenophobia sweeping the entirety of the Western World. Rupert Murdoch, the man who gave us Sarah Palin’s political career, Gert Wilders international fame, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the erosion of civil rights presented as a necessity and the demonization of Islam and the Middle East. Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns your mass media.
  • When AskMen.com publishes an article stating that women should be “shamed” into losing weight, thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Anchor babies and the demonization of immigrant women? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Act like a lady, think like a man and the pervasive stereotyping of gender and “how women should behave”? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The rise of the Tea Party and the mainstream radicalization of the Western world? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The constant portrayal of immigrants, asylum seekers, refuges and economic migrants as a threat to Western values? Thank Rupert Murdoch
Because, in case you weren’t aware (and there is a conscious effort to obscure these facts), Rupert Murdoch owns a significant, influencing, far reaching media empire. His outlets include (but are not limited to):
  • Publishing house HarperCollins
  • Film Studio (and subsidiaries) 20th Century Fox
  • Fox News (and all subsidiaries)
  • Cable TV networks Sky Italia and Sky Germany
  • AskMen.com
  • Dow Jones & Company
  • The Wall Street Journal
(I urge you to check the link above to gasp at the extent of News Corp reach and influence).
Now, I am not going to be so naive as to blame the Murdoch media empire for all the ills in the world. But let me clear: it might not be the sole responsible actor in our current sad state of affairs but it has played a very significant, prominent role in it. MORE
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Monsanto in Haiti

Last week, thousands of farmers and supporters of Haitian peasant agriculture marched for hours under the hot Caribbean sun to call for more government support for locally grown seeds and agriculture.

The demonstration was organized by the Peasant Movement of Papay and other farmer associations, human rights and women’s groups, and the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Haitian online agency AlterPresse reported from the march. The official theme of the peaceful demonstration was “Land Grabbing is Endangering Agricultural Sovereignty.”

Singing slogans like “Long Live Haitian Agriculture!” and “Long live local seeds!” the crowd – wearing straw hats and red T-shirts – wound its way on foot, donkeys, and bikes through this dusty provincial capital. The demonstration ended at a square named for farmer Charlemagne Péralte, who lead the “Caco” peasant revolt against the U.S. army occupation from 1916 until 1919, when U.S. Marines assassinated him.

One year ago, thousands of farmers covered the same march route to protest the import of a “gift” of seeds from Monsanto. The farmers burned some of the seeds, calling them a “death plan” for peasant agriculture.

Last spring, in violation of Haitian law, the Minister of Agriculture gave the agribusiness giant Monsanto permission to “donate” 505 tons of seeds to Haiti. The first shipment of 60 tons, reportedly of maize and vegetable seeds, arrived in May 2010. Some of the seeds were coated with a chemical (Thiram)[1] so toxic that the EPA forbids its sale to home gardeners in the U.S.. Monsanto announced its $4 million gift was “to support the reconstruction effort” in Haiti.
What has become of the seeds that Monsanto gave? And how real was the fear of Haitian farmer organizations that the donation was a Trojan horse?


Haiti Grassroots Watch explored the impacts in a three-month investigation, “Seeding Reconstruction or Destruction?” and “Monsanto in Haiti.” Excerpts from the report follow.MORE

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via [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political:


What a drag … Iceland considers prescription-only cigarettes


Tobacco bill proposes outlawing shop sales, with only doctors allowed to prescribe cigarettes to addicts unable to kick habit

Iceland is considering banning the sale of cigarettes and making them a prescription-only product.

The parliament in Reykjavik is to debate a proposal that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes in normal shops. Only pharmacies would be allowed to dispense them – initially to those aged 20 and up, and eventually only to those with a valid medical certificate.

The radical initiative is part of a 10-year plan that also aims to bansmoking in all public places, including pavements and parks, and in cars where children are present. Iceland also wants to follow Australia's lead by forcing tobacco manufacturers to sell cigarettes in plain, brown packaging plastered with health warnings rather than branding.

Under the mooted law, doctors will be encouraged to help addicts kick the habit with treatments and education programmes. If these do not work, they may prescribe cigarettes.

...


The tobacco proposal also says that nicotine should be classed as an addictive substance. "It's as hard to give up nicotine as heroin, not in terms of the side effects, but in terms of the cravings and how quickly one becomes addicted," said Gudnason.

"We also want the government to license cigarettes like a medicine, which would mean they would have to go through the same rigorous trials as any other drug. I doubt cigarettes would ever get on the market now that we know the side-effects – lung cancer, heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

Gudnason said 300 out of the 1,500 deaths in Iceland each year were caused by one of those three conditions.

"That's 20% of all deaths. We think that our proposals could lead to a significant reduction in smoking-related deaths – perhaps down to just 100 annually."

The proposal also suggests that tobacco smoke should be treated as a carcinogenic substance, and that it should be restricted in a similar way to other known carcinogens, because of the known effects of passive smoking. MORE



Bhutan has banned smoking??? And Finland wants to ban it too? Interesting! Thoughts?

BTW: List of smoking bans by country
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Witness: Witness: To the Last Drop


Residents of one Canadian town are engaged in a David and Goliath-style battle over the dirtiest oil project ever known.


The small town of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta is facing the consequences of being the first to witness the impact of the Tar Sands project, which may be the tipping point for oil development in Canada.

The local community has experienced a spike in cancer cases and dire studies have revealed the true consequences of "dirty oil".

Gripped in a Faustian pact with the American energy consumer, the Canadian government is doing everything it can to protect the dirtiest oil project ever known. In the following account, filmmaker Tom Radford describes witnessing a David and Goliath struggle.

I shot my first film, Death of a Delta, in Fort Chipewyan in 1972. I shot it with a hand crank Bolex camera with a maximum 26-second wind. I had to make sure people knew what they were talking about. There was no time for red herrings. In our new film, To the Last Drop, the latest in digital HD and Cineflex cameras capture the landscape of northern Alberta as never before.

But while technology can go through multiple revolutions in 49 years, the issue that drives both our films remains the same: the rights of downstream communities, and the need to recognise those rights, no matter how powerful their upstream neighbours.

Death of a Delta documented the fight of Fort Chipewyan to have a voice in the construction of a massive hydroelectric project on the Peace River, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. At stake was not only the survival of the oldest community in Alberta, but the protection of a World Heritage site, the Peace Athabasca Delta, a convergence of migratory flyways and the greatest concentration of waterfowl on the continent.

In the David and Goliath struggle that ensued, David won. Water was released from the dam and water levels in the Delta returned to normal. The unique ecology of the region was saved. The town survived.

Today, that same David, the collective will of the thousand residents of Fort Chipewyan, is fighting an even more imposing Goliath. The Alberta oil sands is arguably now the world's largest construction project. Its expansion will have an estimated $1.7 trillion impact on the Canadian economy over the coming decades. An area of boreal forest the size of Greece will be affected by industrial activity.MORE
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Another Push for Reproductive Rights

WASHINGTON, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - By 2015, women demanding family planning products and services in the developing world will likely reach 933 million, a terrific increase from the current 818 million women demanding access to these basic reproductive commodities.

In addition, according to the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC), the number of family planning users will soar from 603 million to 709 million - an increase of 64 million users across 66 developing countries, and 42 million spanning 89 middle-income countries - by the middle of the decade.

The increased cost associated with this skyrocketing demand is an estimated 5.7 billion dollars per annum for both low- and middle-income countries - including the expenses of procuring more contraceptive commodities, securing transportation for the products, expanding communication capabilities to educate the public, and stepping up training for health providers to distribute reproductive products and services.

"Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception," John Skibiak, director of the RHSC, wrote earlier this month. "This is, without a doubt, a horrifying figure. But the greatest tragedy for us - those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to ensuring global access to family planning - is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades… Each step forward is more than matched by comparable increases in demand in new users, [so] despite our best efforts, we are caught in a deadlock."MORE
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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.
benchamp



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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I don't know how many people have been reading the Guardian's NHS reforms blog, but I've been completely hooked on it - it's wrapping up for the summer now, after posting every weekday for two months. It's covered a great variety of topics and had featured interviews with people from policy analysts to patient advocates, with generally masses of fascinating material that doesn't make it into the dead-tree paper. Yesterday it had reports from a heart operation at Great Ormond Street on a two-week-old baby, which I found genuinely awe-inspiring - there were some queriesut whether it was unnecessary, or voyeuristic, which I understand, but I love good reporting that acts as a snapshot of the extraordinary within daily life.
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PERU: Humala Pledges Justice for Sterilisation Victims


LIMA, Jun 10, 2011 (IPS) - Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala will push the legal system to investigate and prosecute those responsible for a massive forced sterilisation campaign targeting poor indigenous women carried out by the government of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), said the spokeswoman for Humala's party, Aída García Naranjo.

"Humala will live up to the Peruvian state's commitment to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to prevent impunity in the case of victims of female and male sterilisations, which we consider a crime against humanity," García Naranjo told IPS.

"Democracy is not possible in a country where an absence of justice and a sense of collective amnesia are promoted," said the representative of the Gana Perú party.

Under a friendly settlement agreement reached in 2003 with the IACHR, the Peruvian state acknowledged its responsibility, recognised the abuses committed under the family planning programme, and undertook to investigate and bring to trial the government officials who devised and implemented the campaign that carried out tubal ligations and vasectomies among mainly impoverished native rural highlands populations.

In 2010, however, the representative of the Peruvian government announced to the Washington-based IACHR that the attorney general's office had shelved the case. MORE
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ETA, if you have to read just one article, read this. It gives context: What's next in Humala's Peru?

HUMALA INHERITS a country that is extremely polarized. The vast majority of the population struggles just to survive, sometimes literally. Accoring to Peruvian sociologist Jorge Lora Cam, only 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product comes from wages, and the informal sector has mushroomed. This year, the poverty rate "went down" to 36 percent.

In Lima, over 1 million people lived without running water as of 2008. In the city of Ayacucho, 25 percent of the population faces the same lack.

The signing of bilateral free trade agreements, not only with the U.S. but also with China, has lead to increased sweatshop exploitation in the cities and to an exponential rise in multinational and foreign investment in metal and fuel mining, which in turn displaces peasant and indigenous communities and pollutes the ecosystem, whose land the government now claims the right to sell off.

Those fighting the conglomerates have been at the forefront of struggle in recent years. As the elections took place, the border between Peru and Bolivia was being blocked by indigenous people taking on mining companies. In Cocachacra, Arequipa and the area around these two southern towns, protesters against the Tía María mining project have been shot and killed, but have refused to accept a truce until after the elections take place.

MORE


Left candidate wins election in Peru


The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru's election is a "big fucking deal", as Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered to Obama on national TV in another context. With respect to US influence in the hemisphere, this knocks out one of only two allies that Washington could count on, leaving only the rightwing government of Chile. Left governments that are more independent of the United States than Europe is now run Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. And Colombia under President Manuel Santos is now siding with these governments more than with the United States.
This means that regional political and economic integration will proceed more smoothly, although it is still a long-term project. On 5 July, for example, heads of state from the whole hemisphere will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, to proceed with the formation of Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). This is a regional organisation that includes all countries except the United States and Canada, and which – no matter what anyone says for diplomatic purposes – is intended to displace the Organisation of American States. The new organisation is a response to the abuse of the OAS by the United States (which controls most of the bureaucracy) for anti-democratic purposes, most recently in the cases of Honduras and Haiti.
These institutional changes, including the vastly expanded role of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) are changing the norms and customs of diplomatic relations in the hemisphere. The Obama administration, which has continued the policies of "containment" and "rollback" of its predecessor, has been slow to accept the new reality. As a result, it does not have ambassadors in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.MORE





Hope in the Andes: What Ollanta Humala’s Victory Means for Peru

Fried pork rinds, fish, potatoes and eggs were sold by street vendors outside polling stations on election day in Lima, Peru. By nightfall, thousands of people gathered in a central plaza waving the white flags of Ollanta Humala’s political party.


Ollanta is an Incan name meaning “the warrior everyone looks to.” Indeed, all eyes were on the leftist president-elect as he greeted the crowd just before midnight with the words, “We won the elections!”


Humala, a former military officer who led a failed military uprising in 2000, lost the elections in 2006 to Alan Garcia. On the June 5th presidential elections this year, he narrowly defeated Kieko Fujimori, the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who was jailed in 2007 for corruption and crimes against humanity. If elected, Kieko would have likely worked to release her father from jail, and carry on his administration’s capitalist and repressive policies.

This election puts Humala among a growing number of leftist presidents in Latin America and offers hope to the poorest sectors of Peruvian society.
The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 percent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. In Sunday’s elections, it was the impoverished rural areas that went for Humala over Kieko Fujimori.


"You cannot speak of Peru advancing if so many Peruvians live in poverty,” Humala said in his victory speech, explaining that he would work to make sure that the government functioned “above all for the poorest people in the country.”MORE



June 2 Peru's Presidential Election: A Battle Over Memory and Justice

When Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori arrived at a plaza in the city of Cajamarca for a recent campaign speech, she was met by a barrage of eggs thrown by activists who opposed her candidacy and called her a “murderer and thief.”

The activists were referring to the legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who was Peru’s president from 1990-2000 and jailed in 2007 for a quarter century sentence after being found guilty of corruption and ‘crimes against humanity’.

Read more... )


Ppl, the free market reforms that Fujimori did were not separate from the massacres and other fuckery he got up to. it was part and parcel of it, to make sure his opponents would stfu and stfd while he got on with capitalism. This thing is from The Economist and I'm linking for the info that it provides, but...jsyk k?



Victory for the Andean chameleon: Having reinvented himself as a moderate, Ollanta Humala has an extraordinary opportunity to marry economic growth with social progress

Read more... )

I mean to say there! Taxing mining companies!!! Allowing Amerindian nations to have veto power on mining on their own LANDS!!!! What IS this world coming to!!!
the_future_modernes: (fields of gold)
[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Millions May Soon Be Fleeing the Floodwaters

OSLO, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - Mass migration will inevitably be part of human adaptation to climate change, experts agree, since parts of the world will become uninhabitable in the coming decades.

Last year, 38 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.

"Human displacement due to climate change is happening now. There is no need to debate it," Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway's minister of foreign affairs, told over 200 delegates attending the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century in Oslo Jun. 6-7.

Governments and the humanitarian community need to understand this fact - and that it will get much worse in the coming decades, Støre said. MORE
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
[personal profile] nagasvoice
Received via email in response to a petition I signed...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 4, 2011



Congresswoman Matsui Votes Against H.R. 3
Legislation Would Prohibit Women from Accessing Family Planning Services and Place Burdens on Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (CA-5) voted against H.R. 3, legislation that would for the first time place abortion coverage restrictions on women who purchase insurance in the private market with their own money and small businesses who provide health care to their employees. As a result, this unprecedented attack on a women's right to choose would limit a woman's ability to receive health care services, in addition to adding new burdens for their employers.

"This bill is nothing more than a misnamed attack on American women in order to pursue a politically driven ideological agenda," Congresswoman Matsui said. "It is clear that this legislation is not about preventing taxpayer dollars from going towards abortion procedures, because that is already prohibited by current law. H.R. 3 is really about restricting a women's right to choose by altering business tax codes."



H.R. 3, referred to as the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," would in fact go much further than the title implies. Federal law already prohibits any federal funds from going towards abortions, and health care plans that receive federal funds must keep those funds separate from any funds for abortion services.



In addition to this bill's many shocking provisions and potential tax increases, it would add significant obstacles to small business job growth. Last year, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, small businesses became eligible for a tax credit to assist them in providing private health care coverage to their employees. But H.R. 3 would erase this benefit for small businesses by eliminating the health insurance tax credits for any health insurance plans that include coverage for abortion.

This would not only add a financial burden onto the backs of small businesses, but an administrative one as well. Every small business owner would have to sort through pages of fine print on their insurance plan before applying for this tax credit, instead of spending valuable time growing their business and creating jobs.

Small businesses that do determine that their health insurance policy does in fact cover even one abortion related service would be financially punished in one of two ways. They could either keep their present policy and lose thousands of dollars in tax credits - or they would have to give up their current health insurance plan and most likely have to pay higher premiums for a new plan.

"This bill represents greater intrusion into personal health care matters that should be only between a woman, her doctor and loved ones," added Matsui. "It is dangerous, punitive, and wrong. I strongly oppose H.R. 3 and will continue to fight to protect a woman's right to choose, protect the privacy of all Americans, and fight to improve health care services for all."





# # #


Note: Please do not respond directly to this e-mail. To serve my constituents most effectively, I have dedicated a portion of my website to constituent e-mails. To write me, please visit http://matsui.house.gov/email.asp.
the_future_modernes: (chris pine fuck you)
[personal profile] the_future_modernes
WARNING: This post is...upsetting. Humanity continues to be...shitty.


So I saw this ad, from the World Food Programme:

UN World Food Programme: We Feed people


And I wondered WTF and who on earth thought corn-soybean mush was a good idea. That shit ain't healthy, not by a long shot!

And then. I saw this.

2010: NEED TO KNOW | The silent epidemic of malnutrition | PBS


I...am incoherent with RAGE. This. is. bullshit. I am sorry but not only can we do SO MUCH BETTER (less fucking wars and weapons. More nutritious freaking FOOD. And don't TELL ME the US spends too much on foreign aid, we spend less than one percent. LESS THAN ONE PERCENT. We can do Less tax cuts for the wealthy, and drop less million dollar bombs AND MAKE THE CORPORATIONS PAY THEIR FUCKING TAXES.) Also? Where the fuck are the rest of the world? Europe? The oil-rich states? Canada? What the fuck is this??? And I am not blaming the World Food Programme at all, because they have to take what they get and they are chronically underfunded. But countries of the world? This is NOT OK. NOT. OK. We can do SO MUCH BETTER. WTF is this???


RAGE!!!!!!
the_future_modernes: (Default)
[personal profile] the_future_modernes
2011 Goldman Prize for North America: Hilton Kelley, Texas, USA



Hilton Kelley
USA Toxic & Nuclear Contamination


Now leading the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hilton Kelley fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries.

Port Arthur, Texas
Located among eight major petrochemical and hazardous waste facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast, the largely African-American West Side neighborhood of Port Arthur has long suffered as a result of the near constant emissions spewing from smokestacks ringing the community. Port Arthur is noted by the EPA as having some of the highest levels of toxic air releases in the country, and the companies operating the local plants have been cited with hundreds of state air pollution violations.

The West Side’s asthma and cancer rates are among the highest in the state, while the community’s income levels are among the lowest. As industry has grown, local property values have plummeted. Few jobs exist in the plants for West Side residents. At the end of each workday, a stream of cars heads away from Port Arthur’s industrial facilities toward the more affluent towns nearby as the gas flares continue to burn within sight of the West Side’s schools and federal housing projects.

The facilities operating in the area include the Motiva oil refinery, the Valero refinery, the Huntsman Petrochemical plant, the Chevron Phillips plant, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation’s petroleum facility, the Total Petrochemicals USA facility, Veolia incinerator facility and the BASF Fina Petrochemicals plant.MORE



2003 The Ungreening of America: No Clear Skies

SHORTLY AFTER 4:30 P.M. ON MONDAY, April 14, 2003, the power went out at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The massive plant shut down instantly and, as is common when something goes wrong at a refinery, the "product" in the pipes -- tens of thousands of pounds of highly pressurized liquids and gases -- was released through the smokestacks. In this particular incident, 256,653 pounds of toxic chemicals were hurled into the air over the next 24 hours.

Read more... )


A Love Letter to Hilton Kelley


I applaud you for your tenacity. You decided shortly after your visit that since there was no one to step up and fight for the survival of your town, it had to be you. And so, incredibly, you moved back, and you took on the fight. And you became known as the man who doesn't give up, who won’t take no for an answer, and who has made an enormous positive impact on environmental protections for Port Arthur. The list of your accomplishments is awe-inspiring:

Read more... )

This is what we mean when we talk about environmental justice. This toxic stuff keeps on getting located in poor poc backyards. And then next thing you know, politicians are yelling about welfare and overloading hospitals and not doing well in school and the like. This is bullshit. Enough with poisoning people already. Renewable ways of doing things please.
trouble: Wee little kitten, mouth open, with "rar!" in the corner (Rar!)
[personal profile] trouble
Text here for archiving purpose - the article this is from is no longer available online.

United Way cuts funding to Planned Parenthood Ottawa

By Kelly Patterson, The Ottawa Citizen April 12, 2011 7:18 AM Comments (2)

Despite skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted infections in the area, Planned Parenthood Ottawa has had to shut down its main sex-education program for young people after the United Way unexpectedly cut funding for the workshops.
Read more... )

Further Reading:
Planned Parenthood Ottawa closes sex-ed program

United Way is the spiritual successor to "Community Chest" programs. Basically one donates to United Way, and United Way divides the money amongst member groups that apply for it. Often they receive in-kind donations, or support for specific programs.

Planned Parenthood Ottawa. If you wish to support this program, you can make donations there.

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