Fundamental Human Rights

The Right to a Sustainable Future [Filtered & blocked by Google!]

Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Image of the Day: Another Obscene Extravaganza in UAE

Posted by terres on November 26, 2008

An Obscene Extravaganza Launches an Environmental Nightmare

As more and more US citizens line at food banks, Dubai throws a $20 million party to launch an environmental nightmare, a luxury resort on an artificial palm-shaped island in a collapsing ecosystem.


Atlantis Hotel opening in Dubai – Locals watch the fireworks at the $20 million launch party of Palm Resort and its flagship Atlantis, at the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial palm-shaped island in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2008. Photo: JOEL RYAN/AP. Image may be subject to copyright.


Philadelphia Food Bank (Undated photo. Source). Image may be subject to copyright.


People lined up Friday outside the Church of the Nazarene in Mid City (San Diego, Calif) for the monthly distribution of food. August 6, 2008. EDUARDO CONTRERAS/Union-Tribune. Image may be subject to copyright.


Families wait in line Saturday to pick up food supplies at Tukwila Pantry, near Seattle, Washington. June 1, 2008. (Source) Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in ecocide, environment, environmental nightmare, food banks, ocean pollution | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Elementary Wedgwood, it’s the exponential growth economy!

Posted by terres on October 23, 2008

submitted by a reader

Red Alert: What went wrong in the capitalist casino

Stating the obvious, Tony Benn argues the banking disaster is the result of too much economic power being exercised by too few individuals. He prefers the socialist version of the exponential growth economy.

In his capacity as a prominnet member of the establishment [it would be too unkind and unnecessary to call him a “gatekeeper,”] he neither criticizes nor highlights root cause of the banking problems, the exponential growth economy. He never mentions the need for a ‘radical’ change to the system of political economy that is driving humanity and most other species toward oblivion.

The following excerpts are from Benn’s article Red Alert: What went wrong in the capitalist casino, which first appeared in the Tribune Magazine:

“THE great inter-war slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic state, They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.”

These words are from the 1945 Labor manifesto Let Us Face The Future which brilliantly identified the very same crisis which is now described as a “credit crunch” as if it were a mere hiccup in an otherwise wonderful neo-liberal globalized world which could be corrected with a vast subsidy from the taxpayers to put the Wall Street casino and its partners worldwide back into profit. It reminded me of the fact that when slavery was abolished it was the slave owners, and not the slaves, who received compensation from the government of the day.  Read more …

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Posted in environment, human rights, McCain, Obama, politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

And the Nobel War Prize for 2008 goes to …

Posted by terres on October 10, 2008

The dreaded Olympics comes every four years; the agony of Nobel Pe*ce Prize is annual!

Martti Ahtesaari won the prize for 2008. It really makes sense, in a perverted sort of way, when you think about it!

Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari (born on June 23, 1937) is a former President of Finland (1994–2000) and a United Nations diplomat and mediator, who thought the Iraqi invasion was a good thing!

Henry Kissinger won the prize 35 year ago today. Like Martti Ahtisaari, he, too, was a warmonger and a member of the Bilderberg group.

And his award of Nobel Peace Prize was just as controversial as Ahtisaari’s. In fact the award was so contentious two disgusted Nobel Peace Prize Selection Committee members resigned.

Wikipedia entry for Ahtisaari has a section under the the heading of ‘Criticism.’ It reads: “The Finnish intellectual and the professor of history, Juha Sihvola, who thinks current Iraq’s war was not justified, criticized Ahtisaari’s conclusions about the morality of the war saying that they were ‘astounding’.[15]

“Norwegian founder of peace studies, Johan Galtung, has criticized heavily Ahtisaari’s way to handle peace processes. Galtung claims that ‘Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries’. He further says that Ahtisaari ‘let’s EU to abuse himself’. According to Galtung Ahtisaari does not hesitate to favour solutions that bypass United Nations and international law.[16] [Emphasis added.]

“The Finnish branch of Friends of the Earth and Finnish intellectual and philosopher Thomas Wallgren have criticized Ahtisaari’s actions in Finnish companies that were chopping rain forests in Indonesia.”

Unfortunately references [13][15] and [16] point to documents that are written in Finnish.

In another section of Ahtisaari entry Wikipedia says: “Ahtisaari strongly defended the actions of United States at the crisis that preceded the current war of Iraq.[13] After the war had started, Ahtisaari issued a statement in November 2003: “Since I know that about million people have been killed by the government of Iraq, I do not need much [of] those weapons of mass destruction”.[14] (Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were the primary reason the USA gave to justify its attack).”

But you don’t have to learn Finnish to understand what’s happening.

The Next time a Finn packs his Walther P22 and incendiary grenades in a rucksack and heads toward school … you know where the confusion came from!

Posted in bilderberg, bush, environment, human rights, Iraqi genocide | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Gangster Resigns Japan Govt. over Tainted Chinese Rice

Posted by terres on September 19, 2008

Japan minister quits in rice row

(BBC-UK) 04:08 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008

Seiichi Ota. File photo.

Mr Ota only took over his portfolio in August this year

Japan’s farm minister, Seiichi Ota, has tendered his resignation because of a food scandal involving tainted rice.

Mr Ota’s ministry has admitted it was told in January 2007 that a food company was distributing rice tainted with pesticide.

Mr Ota had earlier said he saw no need to make “too much of a fuss over it”.

It has since emerged that the rice, destined for industrial uses, was resold as a food product and served to the elderly.

The rice has been found to be tainted with pesticides and mould, and was known to be unfit for human consumption.

No-one has been reported as ill as a result of eating the rice; a government official said this was because the density of contaminants was low.

“I met Prime Minister [Yasuo] Fukuda and told him my decision to resign, considering the seriousness of the tainted rice problem for the society,” Mr Ota said.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said his resignation had been accepted.

Japan faces general elections soon, possibly as early as next month.

Contamination spreads

As information trickled out, it became clear that the bad rice was sold to more than 300 firms, including brewers, food ingredient wholesalers and sweet makers.

Rice. File photo.

Mr Ota had played down the effects of the rice in the food chain

A government report released this week showed that the rice was imported from China, Vietnam and elsewhere, and intended for use in the making of glue and other industrial products.

Instead, the Osaka-based Mikasa Foods company sold the rice on to firms which used it for making foods that have been distributed to hospitals and care homes.

Young people have also been affected as the bad rice was used in making some snacks sold in convenience stores, and in school lunches.

Japanese media reported that police said on Wednesday that the president of one of the small companies that had bought the rice from Mikasa Foods, had committed suicide by hanging himself.

When Mr Ota’s ministry first heard of the tainted rice entering the food chain, he said it was unable to uncover any wrongdoing.

Mr Ota only took over the portfolio in August this year.

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the minister has come under fire after admitting his ministry “overlooked” the illegal distribution of rice unfit for human consumption.

Our correspondent says Mr Ota is known for his slips of the tongue, such as his expressed confidence that no-one would die from eating tainted rice and that no fuss was necessary.

The senior bureaucrat at the agriculture ministry had already resigned.

Copyright BBC. See Fair Use Notice!

[Submitted by a reader]

Posted in environment, politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Haiti: An Unending Nightmare of Humanitarian Crisis

Posted by terres on September 14, 2008

The Haiti Nightmare

“I have never seen anything so painful,” as what he has just seen in Haiti. — Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer is a professor of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Partners in Health.  http://pih.org. He is the author of The Uses of HaitiInfections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor and From Outrage to Courage: Women Taking Action for Health and Justice

Recent interview: Haiti Struggles with Humanitarian Disaster in Aftermath of Deadly Storms

The catastrophe in Haiti

“The catastrophe in Haiti is only a partly natural disaster. It is not natural that Haiti will once again suffer more deaths in the storms than all the other countries in the storm paths, combined. The deadly combination of poverty, weak governance and foreign interference has left the country unable to enforce laws on cutting down trees, install adequate drainage systems or effectively execute disaster planning and response. Haiti has never recovered the governmental capacity it lost in the U.S.-supported coup d’état in 2004, and we are now seeing the consequences.

“Although the international community’s emergency help is needed now, it is even more important in the long term for the donor countries to let Haiti develop its governmental capacity, so it can respond to the next, inevitable natural disaster. This means no more undermining of Haitian governments, even if we do not like their policies; canceling Haiti’s unfair debt to the International Financial Institutions like the World Bank; and implementing trade policies that allow Haiti to develop a broad-based, sustainable national economy.” —BRIAN CONCANNON

Brian Concannon,  is the Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. http://www.ijdh.org.

Posted in bush, environment, GENOCIDE, human rights, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

End the war in Iraq, invest in our future!

Posted by terres on September 14, 2008

Please forward widely.

1 million doors. 1 million conversations. 1 million voters.

Be one of the 25,000 peace activists to knock on a Million Doors for Peace on Saturday, September 20.

United For Peace and Justice is joining with other major national organizations and scores of local groups across the country to send a message to Congress: End the war in Iraq, bring all our troops home, and start investing in our country’s future!

We have marched in massive numbers, but now we are using a new model for organizing a movement with long-term staying power at the grassroots level.

On Saturday, September 20, in all fifty states, we will knock on a million doors to:

  • Talk to our neighbors about the war and its costs to our communities
  • Ask that they sign a petition to Congress that calls for an end to the war
  • Discuss what we can do in this important election year to build up the antiwar movement in our own neighborhoods

When you sign-up here, you will get:

  • 40 names of registered voters in your zip code
  • Hand-outs and petitions
  • Talking points and tips for effective door-knocking

In some areas, peace and justice groups will be hosting a gathering of volunteers for a brief training and to pair up volunteers who prefer to canvass in a team. If this is being organized in your direct or nearby area, you will receive a Million Doors for Peace email with the meet-up information.

Help us take the next step in building the antiwar movement! September 20 is the day to engage one-on-one with our neighbors to strengthen the movement to end the war. Sign-up right now at the Million Doors for Peace website here.


UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
www.unitedforpeace.org | 212-868-5545
PO Box 607; Times Square Station; New York, NY 10108


Posted in bush, environment, GENOCIDE, human rights, Israel, politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kucinich renews impeachment call

Posted by terres on September 14, 2008

ImpeachBush top
ImpeachBush_bottom
Rep. Kucinich, ImpeachBush press conference renews impeachment call

Kucinich and Miller
Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Radhika Miller of ImpeachBush.org

Yesterday, representative Dennis Kucinich submitted 50,000 more names to the clerk of the House demanding impeachment. On Tuesday, Rep. Jim McDermott (D.-WA) spoke on the House floor in favor of impeachment. As Rep. Kucinich said yesterday, more than 2 million Americans have signed petitions demanding impeachment, making it one of the greatest exercises in grassroots democracy in recent times.

Impeachment has become an unavoidable issue on the floor of the House of Representatives, despite the efforts to take impeachment “off the table.” This amazing development is the result of the work of ImpeachBush.org and others who are petitioning, and joining rallies in cities and towns across the country to demand impeachment. Please make a donation right now to keep up this momentum.

Excerpts from Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s remarks from yesterday’s press conference:

“Standing with me here today are representatives of organizations who have been part of a national grassroots impeachment movement which has collected over a million signatures.  Nationally over two million people have signed impeachment petitions.  I want to thank the leaders for their efforts and work with them to continue to build a movement for truth.

“9/11 is the day the world changed.  We want today, September 10, 2008 to be a new beginning in our efforts to change the world.  For my part, I am going to ask those grassroots leaders who have channeled their energies into defending the Constitution and the rule of law to join me in this new endeavor.”

Radhika Miller of ImpeachBush:

Good afternoon, my name is Radhika Miller. I am here representing ImpeachBush.org that was formed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark on January 18, 2003 from the stage of a rally of 500,000 people who were demonstrating on the National Mall just across the street to demand no war of aggression against Iraq. Today, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi have died and tens of thousands of US service members have been killed or badly wounded. These horrific casualties took place because George W. Bush was allowed and not punished for initiating a war of unprovoked aggression.

Since that time, more than one million people have voted at ImpeachBush.org in favor of impeachment. Volunteers from around the country collect these ImpeachBush petitions.

We want to thank Dennis Kucinich for having the courage and honesty to introduce 35 articles of impeachment in June of this year. Representative Kuncinch speaks for tens of millions of people who insist that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and all officials be held accountable for criminal misconduct, breaking the peace in an unprovoked war of aggression and for shredding the Constitution.

The fact that Bush has four months left in office does not matter one bit when it comes to violating the Constitution. As one speaker after another made clear in the July 25 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee hearing: impeachment is a constitutionally mandated duty and not a matter of partisan politics.

If Congress refuses to carry out its obligations it sends a message to all future presidents, from either Party, that the Constitution has been stripped of all meaning. We have a duty to act and we will.

Please make a donation
Please make a donation right now to keep up this momentum.


Posted in environment, GENOCIDE, human rights, Israel, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Protecting the Crown’s Extrafinancial Investments in Afghanistan?

Posted by terres on September 12, 2008

submitted by a NZ reader:

Heaven knows what the New Zealand SAS are doing in Afghanistan

The British journalist Robert Fisk visiting New Zealand this week to promote his new book spoke to a local journalist in Wellington about western military presence in Middle East:

Concerning New Zealand’s special forces, who are based in Afghanistan, he said:

“Heaven knows what they (the SAS) are doing and Afghanistan is a disaster anyway.”

He said New Zealand was under no threat from any country in the Middle East.

“There are no Syrian soldiers on the streets of Wellington.

“(Western nations) have no business to be there, historically it is a disaster. We never have any business there, we’re always going to the Middle East with huge armies.

The morally castrated New Zealand “Defence Minister”, Phil Goff, immediately declared: “I’d say Mr Fisk should talk to the Hazara people whose civic leaders were executed in the market place, whose 2000-year-old cultural heritage, the Bamyan statutes of Buddha, were destroyed.”

Ah, so the New Zealand SAS are not there to protect the poppy fields and the thriving opium business and the drug warlords, they are there playing Bamyan Buddha dolls with the local kids!

The following is an excerpt from The SAS (SPECIAL AIR SERVICE): Prince Philip’s manager of terrorism,  by Joseph Brewda.

SAS methods and procedures

According to the British Army handbook, the SAS is “particularly suited, trained, and equipped for counter-revolutionary operations,” with a specialization in “infiltration,” “sabotage,” “assassination,” as well as “liaison with, organization, training, and control of friendly guerrilla forces operating against the common enemy.” From its inception in World War II, Special Air Services was detailed to run sabotage behind enemy lines and to organize popular revolt, at first in North Africa, and then in the Balkans, where another Stirling cousin, Fitzroy Maclean, ran British operations.

At the end of the war, SAS was disbanded, but it was soon revived to crush the Malay insurgency in Malaysia, and the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya. The principle employed was to take over the insurgency from within, and use it to destroy the native population. In his 1960 book Gangs and Countergangs, Col. Frank Kitson boasted that the British were covertly leading several large-scale Mau Mau units, and that many, if not all Mau Mau units had been synthetically created by the colonial authorities. As a result of this practice, 22 whites were killed during the insurgency, as compared to 20,000 natives.

Based on this principle, SAS emphasized recruitment of natives, as it received increasing responsibilities for overseeing counterinsurgency within the postwar empire, as well as organizing insurgencies elsewhere. In New Zealand, 30% of SAS was drawn from the indigenous Maori tribes, later supplemented by Sarawak tribesmen from Indonesia. By the 1960s, New Zealand SAS was active throughout Southeast Asia, organizing tribal revolts against the Burmese government, and stirring similar movements in Northeast India. Similarly, SAS squadrons based in Rhodesia ran the 1960s tribal separatist insurgency in Zaire. They later recruited and deployed natives in terrorist raids in Mozambique and Zambia.

Today, there are three known SAS regiments, comprising 4,500 highly trained commandos in total. Training exercises for 15-man teams simulate terrorist assaults, in order, it is said, to “know the mind of the terrorist.” Such teams are often sent abroad, to train British Commonwealth and other military units in the techniques of terrorist assault, as well as the use of tribal auxiliaries in covert warfare. Through such means, SAS has built an extensive terrorist control capability, especially in its former colonies. Its soldiers currently serve officially in some 30 countries.  Full article is available here.

Afghanistan, Opium and the Taliban

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (February 15, 2001 8:19 p.m. EST)
(Source)
U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan — once the world’s largest producer — since banning poppy cultivation last summer.

A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation’s largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year.

“We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields,” said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier — a sea of blood-red poppies. (Full report)

End of Taliban will bring rise in heroin

By Richard Lloyd Parry in Islamabad
The Independent (Source)
Date: 19 October 2001

The defeat of the Taliban would result in a surge in opium production, which has beenvirtually halted in Afghanistan by the Kabul regime over the last year, United Nations officials have warned.

A new UN survey reveals that the Taliban have completed one of the quickest and most successful drug elimination programmes in history.


Vice creeps back to Kandahar. Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press – (Source) Image may be subject to copyright.

The area of land given over to growing opium poppies in 2001 fell by 91 per cent compared with the year before, according to the UN Drug Control Programme’s (UNDCP) annual survey of Afghanistan. Production of fresh opium, the raw material for heroin, went down by an unprecedented 94 per cent, from 3,276 tonnes to 185 tonnes.

Almost all Afghan opium this year came out of territories controlled by America’s ally in the assault on Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance. Because of a ban on poppy farming, only one in 25 of Afghanistan’s opium poppies was being grown in Taliban areas. (Full story)

Fisk on Israel-led US Foreign policy:

Having studied for 30 years the United States’ Middle East policies, I can tell you that regardless of whether Barack Obama or John McCain won the upcoming American presidential election, the new president would not bring peace to the area, Fisk said.

“Every time there’s an American presidential election the Arabs say `Ah, maybe there’ll be change in the Middle East. Maybe America will be fairer, maybe it will concern itself with the security of the Arabs as well as the Israelis’.

“And then afterwards there’ll be a war in the Middle East and the President will call upon both sides to exercise restraint and there’ll be billions of dollars of weapons sent to Israel to bomb Lebanon, or whoever they are bombing.

“My experience over 32 years is whoever’s in the White House, the bombs go on falling. And they will.”

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Posted in bush, environment, GENOCIDE, human rights, Israel, new zealand, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Image of the Day: Premature Relief

Posted by terres on September 11, 2008

Time to Abolish Thai Monarchy!


Anti-government demonstrators celebrate a court ruling ordering Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to stand down, at the Government House in Bangkok September 9, 2008. Protesters occupying Thailand’s Government House to force the resignation of Samak vowed on Tuesday to continue their sit-in despite the court verdict against Samak.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif.

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Posted in environment, human rights, politics, poverty, prostitution | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Image of the Day: The Unreality!

Posted by terres on September 6, 2008

Hiding Behind the Monkey Mask


Riot police face off with demonstrators as the police block a bridge into downtown St. Paul to keep protesters from getting close to the site at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota September 4, 2008.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj – Image may be subject to copyright!

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Posted in biden, bush, environment, human rights, McCain, Obama, palin, politics, presidential election, Riot Police | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to Abolish the Monarchy in Swaziland

Posted by terres on September 2, 2008

Mswati III of Swaziland

Mswati III (born on April 19, 1968) of Swaziland is the king of Swaziland, and head of the Swazi Royal Family. He succeeded his late father, Sobhuza II, in 1986.

He is one of many sons of King Sobhuza II (he had 70 wives and at the time of his death left over 1000 grandchildren).

  • The king has 13 wives and 23 children.
  • In 2005 he purchased a $500,000 luxury car.
  • The King earns a high salary as Head of State, has investments within the country and elsewhere, owns an unspecified amount of shares in different companies within Swaziland.
  • The King has received large amounts of criticism for his mishandling of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has devastated much of Swaziland. In the year 2000, he announced in a parliamentary debate that all HIV+ people should be “sterilized and branded”.
  • In 2001, he tried to respond to the crisis by introducing a five year ban on sex in the country, to curb the tide of the growing pandemic.
  • The king himself did not respect the ban; he took several new wives over the following five year period.
  • The ban amounted in an increase in prostitution, decline in marriage, and an increase in abortions and infanticide.
  • At a time when more than one third of the country was HIV+ and more than one third of the population was at risk of starvation, King Mswati attempted to use $45 million of the government’s money to buy a private jet. The amount was equivalent to the amount the government spent on health care for the whole country in a two-year period.
  • There have also been accusations that the King holds his future brides against their will, and they have no real say in whether or not they will marry King Mswati.
  • For a number of years now the international media and community have labeled the King of Swaziland an “absolute monarch”, and tended to regard him as a dictator.
  • In January 2006, Mswati’s elder brother, Prince Mbuyisa Dlamini, was sent to jail for the rape of his nine-year-old niece, his sister’s grandchild.

Swaziland

Rural Poverty Portal reported: Swaziland is ranked as a lower middle-income country. Yet income distribution within the country is extremely unequal. The wealthiest 10 per cent of the population account for nearly half of total total consumption and there is an ever-widening gap between urban and rural development. There are clear signs that poverty and unemployment are on the rise. About 84 per cent of the country’s poor people live in rural areas, where per capita income is about four times lower than in urban areas, and food consumption is two times lower. A large proportion of rural households practice subsistence agriculture. About 66 per cent of the population is unable to meet basic food needs, while 43 per cent live in chronic poverty. When drought hit Swaziland in 2004 and 2005 more than one quarter of the country’s population required emergency food aid. In 2007 Swaziland experienced one of its worst droughts which led to major food insecurity.

  • Population: 1.14 million
  • GNI per capita (US$), 2003: $1,350 [IFAD]
  • Population living below the national poverty line (%), 1995: 40  [World Bank]
  • Swaziland has one of the world’s highest Gini Coefficients with the top 10% of the population controlling about 50% of wealth, while the bottom 40% of the population controls less than 14% of the wealth. [UNDP]
  • Poor economic growth, a rapidly expanding population and an increasingly uneven distribution of resources are factors that contribute to the growing number of Swaziland’s rural poor people. Other factors aggravating poverty are the rise in unemployment, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the fact that large parts of the country are vulnerable to drought and climate change. Environmental fragility is beginning to affect food security. Overgrazing has caused soil depletion, while drought and periodic floods have become persistent problems.
  • Swaziland is experiencing a major increase in child-headed households as a result of HIV/AIDS pandemic. [Source]

Bare-breasted virgins compete for Swaziland king

King Mswati III (front) arrives at Ludzidzini, the royal palace in Swaziland, during the annual Reed Dance. The Reed Dance allows Mswati to choose a wife, if he wishes. Mswati currently has 13 wives. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SWAZILAND). Image may be subject to copyright.
LUDZIDZINI ROYAL VILLAGE, Swaziland (Reuters) – September 2, 2008

Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins competed for Swaziland King Mswati III’s eye on Monday in a traditional Reed Dance.

Walking through the dense crowds in a leopard skin loin cloth, Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch was expected to choose his 14th wife.

Critics say Mswati, who has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in poverty, sets a bad example by encouraging polygamy and teenage sex in a country where about 40 percent of adults live with HIV.

Some of the women did not seem to mind, hoping to escape from the southern African nation’s hardships for the easy life.

“I came here to dance. I wish the king would have chosen me because it’s nice at the king’s place. The wives live a nice life,” said Tenene Dlamini, 16, in a traditional brown skirt.

“Everything is done for them. They don’t work. They earn.”

The Reed Dance has been a big date on the Swaziland cultural calendar since Mswati began the ceremony in 1999.

But he may not be as relaxed this year among the throngs of young half-naked women.

Political groups seeking democratic reforms have become more active in a country where the opposition has been effectively banned since 1973 by royal decree.

They are critical of plans to hold next weekend’s celebrations of the king’s 40th birthday in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Britain.

Still, some of Swaziland’s women came to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to show their admiration for the monarch.

“I respect the king and I respect my culture,” said Nontobeko Sdidlamini, 16, carrying a shield made of animal skin and wearing an orange bracelet which read “Sex Can Wait”.

Some said they would not want to be part of a polygamous arrangement with the king and were taking part in the ceremony to prove their virginity. Others fear they lost out.

“My sister is the king’s tenth wife. I don’t think he can choose me because he has already chosen my sister,” said Zandisile Ntentesa, a 21-year-old prison employee.

The king, flanked by bodyguards with pistols and sticks, may face pressure from emboldened critics. But he can take comfort from the wealth which wins him tributes and songs at the reed ceremony.

Last month, Forbes magazine listed him as the 15th-richest monarch in the world. He was the only African on the list.

During the reed festivities, one of the king’s wives drove up in a fancy BMW . Policemen told people to look the other way. (Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood). Copyright author or respective news agency.

Posted in dictatorship, environment, human rights, politics, poverty | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Indian PM: Floods ‘a national calamity’

Posted by terres on August 29, 2008

The River of Sorrow, Kosi River, Breaches its Banks

About 55 people have died and at least two million others have fled their homes after massive floods inundated India’s eastern state of Bihar, said local officials.


Flood affected villagers board boats to move to relief camps in Madhepura District in Bihar state, India, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008. The death toll from this year’s monsoon has already climbed past 800, and now some 1.2 million people have been marooned, and about 2 million more affected in the impoverished state of Bihar, where the Kosi river has burst its banks, breached safety embankments and submerged all roads leading to the region. (AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui). Image may be subject to copyright.


An aerial view shows the Kosi river flooding the villages in east Nepal August 23, 2008. Indian army troops helped evacuate more than 120,000 people from floods in eastern India, but more bad weather raised fears that rivers would to continue to overflow, officials said on Thursday. The flooding, which officials say are the worst in 50 years, was caused after the Kosi river broke a dam in Nepal where it originates, unleashing huge waves of water that smashed mud embankments downstream in Bihar state. Photo taken August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer (NEPAL). Image may be subject to copyright.

An aerial view of a flood affected Madhepura town is seen, in north Bihar state, India, Wednesday, Aug.27, 2008. Indian officials rushed soldiers and air force helicopters Wednesday to flood-ravaged parts of northern India to provide aid to the more than 1 million people stranded by a surging river. The death toll from this year’s monsoon has already climbed past 800, and now some 1.2 million people have been marooned, and about 2 million more affected in the impoverished state of Bihar, where the Kosi river has burst its banks, breached safety embankments and submerged all roads leading to the region.
(AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui). Image may be subject to copyright.


An aerial view shows a damaged and submerged railway track in the flood-affected area of Kusaha in the eastern Indian state of Bihar August 27, 2008. The Kosi river in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, smashed through mud embankments and changed course last week, unleashing huge walls of water that inundated hundreds of villages and towns. Food riots also erupted on Wednesday in eastern India, where more than two million people have been forced from their homes and about 250,000 houses destroyed in what officials say are the worst floods in 50 years. Photo: BBC/AFP. Caption: Reuters. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Japan Has NO Right to Dokdo !

Posted by terres on August 29, 2008

Time to End Japan Imperial Aspirations!

S Korean emotions run high over island dispute

By HYUNG-JIN KIM – August 27,2008

SOUTH KOREA-CONTROLLED DOKDO (AP) — A rifle-toting South Korean stands guard on the remote and rocky islet of Dokdo, gazing out over the expanse of blue ocean toward Japan for any potential challenge to his country’s control.

Kim Eun-taek is part of a 40-member police contingent that has been on high alert since mid-July, when long-simmering tensions between the two countries over the volcanic outcroppings located roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan, spiked anew.

“I always hated Japan and I’ve come to hate it more these days,” said Kim, whose unit is tasked with safeguarding South Korea’s control of the islets, which Japan also claims and calls Takeshima.

A South Korean coast guard boat passes by Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, in South Korea, Monday, Aug. 25. 2008. The dispute heated up following Japan’s announcement it would recommend that a government teaching manual refer to its claim to the area, which is mostly uninhabited but rich in marine life. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The dispute heated up following Japan’s announcement it would recommend that a government teaching manual refer to its claim to the area, which is mostly uninhabited but rich in marine resources.

South Korea and Japan have been arguing about the islets for decades in a dispute made all the more complex by Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945.

No incidents, such as the appearance of Japanese coast guard ships, which South Korea says sometimes sail near the islets, were reported Monday during a brief trip for foreign media organizations arranged by the South Korean government.

A group of seagulls peacefully flew in bright, sunny skies over the territory, composed of two main islets and 89 other rocks and reefs. Besides the police, the only civilian residents are an elderly South Korean couple.

“I explode with anger whenever they say it’s their territory,” Kim Sung-do, 68, who fishes for a living with his wife, said of Japan’s claim.

It is hard to overstate the emotional impact the dispute over the tiny islets — which if placed in New York’s Central Park would occupy just 0.5 percent of its total area — has for South Koreans.

Dokdo’s location and distance from nearest landfalls. (Source)

During this year’s spat, the country temporarily recalled its ambassador from Tokyo and increased the number of coast guard boats patrolling the islets to three from two. Civic activists staged near-daily protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and South Korean businesses took out newspaper ads backing the government’s position.

From South Korea’s perspective, the islets were the first Korean territory to be taken by Japan, when they were incorporated into Shimane prefecture in 1905, five years before the entire peninsula was colonized.

Tokyo has cited historical evidence it says back Japan’s sovereignty since at least the 17th century. South Korea has countered that it has far older historical evidence.

South Korean experts say the squabbling is not a simple territorial dispute but an emotional issue bound up with history that can affect the future of bilateral relations.

“Japan’s past wrongdoing and its colonial rule are condensed in these tiny islets,” said Ha Jong-moon, a Japan expert at Hanshin University near Seoul.

North Korea has also joined South Korea’s criticism of the Japanese moves, despite rising tension with the South over its government’s hard-line policy on the communist country.

In Japan, the dispute appears not to arouse anywhere near the same level of public emotion as in South Korea, though it remains a favorite cause of the vocal right wing and among fishermen on Japan’s western coast who want greater access to the rich waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

The Japanese government says the timing of its announcement on the teaching manual had already been determined long in advance, calling the latest tension with South Korea “clearly undesirable.”

Right-wing groups in Japan protest against Korean policy regarding Dokdo. (Source)

“Japan is of the view that both sides should respond calmly to this issue recognizing the differences in positions between our countries as differences in positions,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in e-mailed answers to questions posed by The Associated Press.

Two major newspapers in South Korea have published war game scenarios, suggesting Japan would eventually defeat South Korea for control of the islets, owing to its superior air and naval power.

Some members of South Korea’s ruling party have proposed permanently stationing marines there.

Any chance of an armed clash appears remote, at least in the near future, in view of broader economic, trade and cultural ties, as well as the countries’ cooperation in trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

Still, Japanese coast guard patrol boats approach the islets about 70-90 times a year without sufficiently explaining their purpose, South Korea’s coast guard says.

Following last month’s dispute, in particular, Japanese ships have increasingly appeared near the islets at unusual times, such as before dawn or even when a high wave advisory was issued, said Kwag Young-han, skipper of the Sambong-ho, a 5,000-ton-class South Korean coast guard vessel patrolling the islets.

All eventually moved away, though most did not respond to South Korean radio messages, said Kwag, whose ship is equipped with two 20mm Vulcan cannons, 37 M60 machine guns and a helicopter.

Kim, the police guard, said he is proud to serve his country, but acknowledged duty on the islets has its challenges.

“The hardest thing about serving here is loneliness,” the black-clad Kim said near the lighthouse.

[Article submitted by a reader ]

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World Bank: Poverty ‘more widespread’

Posted by terres on August 29, 2008

Main Entry:

What We Always Believed, World Bank Finally Confirms

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “Wake Up America!”

Posted by terres on August 28, 2008

Don’t you just wish Kucinich was an independent candidate?

“Wake up, America. In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added $4 trillion of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil, and twice what we paid for health care.”

“Did the Democrats miss something along the way from the only man with the courage to introduce a resolution in June to impeach President George W. Bush and whose speech reminded those gathered who their fight actually was with?”

Must Watch Video: Click here!

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