Archive for December, 2006

‘The Final Word Is Hooray!’

by @ Saturday, December 9th, 2006. Filed under Anti-War Movement
iraq-bush-victory-speech-30-nov-afp-bg.jpgRemembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna Pundits Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War. "The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong." Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. (more...)

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A Socialist in the Millionaires’ Club: An Interview with Bernie Sanders

by @ Friday, December 8th, 2006. Filed under Politics & Elections
Senator Bernie SandersVermont's junior senator-elect has a modest proposal for Ted Kennedy's committee: Investigate "power and wealth in America." by James Ridgeway Money in America — who owns and controls wealth — has been a dead issue in Congress since the New Deal petered out in the 1960s. But the growing gap between rich and poor has put the topic back on the agenda for the new Democratic majority, and Vermont Senator-elect Bernie Sanders says he will propose an investigation of money and power when he joins Ted Kennedy's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in January. Though technically an independent, Sanders will caucus with the Democrats in the Senate, as he has in the House since he was first elected as Vermont's single representative in 1990. The Dems' one-vote margin should give him considerable leverage: Nobody seriously thinks he would routinely vote with the GOP, as fellow independent Joe Lieberman might well do on some issues, but Sanders is also not a party-line man and in the past has joined Republicans on votes against NAFTA, trade with China, and other issues. When I stopped by his office last week — still his old digs in the Rayburn House Office Building — Sanders, in his standard sport coat and slacks, first excused himself to make a quick phone call: "Hello," he said, "this is Senator-elect Bernie (more...)

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Chavez: Venezuela Backs Socialism Shift

by @ Thursday, December 7th, 2006. Filed under Latin America
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez distributes land titles by Christopher Toothaker President Hugo Chavez snubbed a U.S. overture for dialogue, saying Tuesday he doubts Washington sincerely wants to improve relations. Chavez, who overwhelmingly won another six-year term in elections Sunday, said if the U.S. really wants to take meaningful steps, it would halt the war in Iraq and extradite a jailed Cuban militant who is wanted in Venezuela for a 1976 airliner bombing. "They want dialogue but on the condition that you accept their positions," Chavez said at his first news conference since Sunday's vote. "If the government of the United States wants dialogue, Venezuela will always have its door open," he said. "But I doubt the U.S. government is sincere." (more...)

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Transforming Rural China: A Visit to Modern Socialist Villages

by @ Wednesday, December 6th, 2006. Filed under China
countryside.gifby Sitaram Yechury At our request, once again, we were taken to one of the relatively less developed areas to see the levels of development and the living conditions there. The delegation spent two days in Guiyang capital city of Guizhou province in China's south west region. As stated earlier, the per capita income here is 1/10th of that in Shanghai province. In terms of natural beauty, however, this is one of the spectacular areas in China with wondrous mountainous formations and spectacular waterfalls. Given this terrain, land for agricultural operations is very difficult to come by. A local saying goes as follows, "it doesn't go more than three days without raining and you wont find more than a square meter of flat land". Apart from visiting the natural landscape and the Huangguoshu waterfalls (the highest in Asia) the delegation had the (more...)

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US Interference

by @ Tuesday, December 5th, 2006. Filed under Philippines
Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld with Philippine President Gloria Arroyoby Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Phillipines Now the cat is out of the bag. Resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz recently revealed, in so many words, that the Arroyo administration contemplated declaring martial law last January in light of intelligence reports of a looming open rebellion in the military cum massive street protests calling for Mrs. Arroyo’s ouster. More telling is Mr. Cruz’ admission that the United States government, through then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US Director for National Intelligence John Negroponte, explicitly nixed the plan and signaled that the Bush administration would not support such a move. That Mrs. Arroyo eventually stopped short of declaring martial law but instead settled for the proclamation of a legally ambiguous “state of national emergency,” Presidential Proclamation 1017, last February 24, says a lot about whose word matters with her administration. (more...)

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GLOBAL NOTES #8

by @ Monday, December 4th, 2006. Filed under Globalization
1216aljazeera173.gifby Jerry Harris, SolidarityEconomy.net . Media competition from al-Jazeera Al-Jazeera will start broadcasting in English having concluded a string of 87 cable and satellite distribution deals. Al Jazeera has been actively recruiting Arab journalists laid-off by the BBC and says its aim is to provide global news from a developing world perspective without “western-centric” baggage. Beaming out of Qatar, the world’s richest nation in per capita terms. . Foreign Banks in China There have been a lot of foreign banks eager to enter China. But even with 70 foreign banks from 20 countries setting up 238 operating branches they still account for only 0.55 percent of China’s local-currency loans. (FT, 11/16/06, p. 1. “China paves way for foreign banks to offer more services.” Mure Dickie and Sundeep Tucker. (more...)

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Ought of Africa: A Report From the U.N. Climate Conference

by @ Saturday, December 2nd, 2006. Filed under Environment, Globalization
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretary Yvo de BoerGary Braasch reports from the latest U.N. climate-change convention in Nairobi, Kenya. Braasch has been photographing and reporting on climate change since 1999. His forthcoming book, Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World, will be published by the University of California Press next year. The seasonal rains have returned to southern Kenya, greening the countryside once again. But in the north and east, near the Somalian border, refugee camps set up for those who lost everything in a deep drought earlier this year are suddenly being flooded out by this season's unusually severe rains. Many see this rapid switch from drought to deluge as global warming in action -- more searing droughts and stronger rainstorms in an intensifying cycle that affects the world's very poorest. Not far away, in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, officials and observers from around the world gathered for this year's United Nations summit on climate change. Here, the severity and urgency of global warming should have seemed clearer to delegates than it did at last year's frigid Montreal summit. No continent is as vulnerable to climate disruption as Africa, and none harbors more poverty. That's why it's been a big deal to African nations that the 12th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change was held for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa. Many African nations sent large delegations. African luminaries like Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan shed light on the plight of Africans in the face of global climate change. Environmental groups presented papers on threats to the continent. (more...)

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Green Technology to Alleviate Poverty in Western China

by @ Friday, December 1st, 2006. Filed under China
Chinawater.jpgBEIJING, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Farmers living on the arid mountains bordering Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan in southwest China are being urged to consider growing a new crop from a local tree. From 2007, the Jatropha Curcas L tree, which grows wild, will be used to produce bio-diesel and prevent soil erosion. Farmers had traditionally used the tree to contain livestock and its uniquely fragranced seeds provided oil for lamps. Thanks to a United Nations project, more than 1.3 million farmers in three counties of the provinces with ethnic minorities comprising 45 percent of the population, will be extracting oil from the seeds of the Jatropha Curcas L tree to improve the ecosystem, increase their energy supply and annual incomes. Entitled "Green Poverty Reduction in China", the 8.58 million US dollar project, jointly established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese government, is targeting minority communities in ecologically fragile and remote regions of China. (more...)

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