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Index December 2009

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What’s your Issue for a better world? CHILDREN

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Published on The Better World Movement, as a statment, not dated.

In the past, children were all too often viewed more as property than people. Many victories for children’s rights have been won in the last 100 years, such as child labor laws, protecting children from having to work long hours in unsafe conditions; public education, allowing all children to have access to learning; and laws preventing child abuse. On November 20, 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child spelling out specific rights to which all children should be entitled, and on the same date in 1989 the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, creating a legally binding agreement on rights for children.  Continue Reading…

Women 14% of US Armed Forces and 5% of Homeless Vet Population

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Published on War and Peace, by Daniel J. Gerstle, December 28, 2009.

[If you haven't seen Ilona Meagher's website focused on combat-related post-traumatic stress among US soldiers and veterans, go here: Combat Clips, A Selection of OEF/OIF Veteran Statistics, December 2009 (a look at some of this month's news on returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans)].

Meagher wrote a book called, Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops.  Continue Reading…

In praise of George Eliot’s Adam Bede on its 150th anniversary – Part 1

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Published on WSWS, by David Walsh, 30 December 2009.

(4 short excerpts of a long text): This year marked the 150th anniversary, widely and deservedly celebrated, of the publication of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking On the Origin of Species. Marx, who immediately recognized the significance of Darwin’s work, published his own A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that same year … //

… A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens appeared in 1859, as did Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov. Gustave Courbet was the acknowledged, if embattled, leader of the Realist current in painting. He held a Grand fête du Réalisme at his studio in Paris in October, writing a friend two months later that “Realism is very much under attack at the moment…we must marshal new forces and do everything we can.”

Before 2009 comes to an end, the publication of George Eliot’s novel Adam Bede early in 1859 also deserves to be noted.  Continue Reading…

Gaddafi’s playboy son attacked model wife in £4,000 Claridge’s suite

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Update July 12, 2010: See 2010-07-12: Sujet: Incorrect and defamatory article about our client. See also: Comment (July 13, 2010): Dear Sirs, sorry, but this article, written by Rebecca Camber, Tamara Cohen and Neil Sears, is a copy from Mail online, December 30, 2009, last updated 10th February 2010, and today can still be read on this newspaper’s website.

Published on The Daily, by Rebecca Camber, Tamara Cohen and Neil Sears, last updated at 9:29 AM on 30th December 2009.

The playboy son of Colonel Gaddafi was at the centre of a police inquiry last night over claims he attacked his wife in a top London hotel on Christmas Day. Moutassim Gaddafi – known as Hannibal – was staying with his wife, the model Aline Skaf, 29, and their children in a luxury suite at Claridge’s when the fight broke out. Continue Reading…

Why Aren’t the NYT and WaPost Covering the International Gaza Freedom March?

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Linked on these blogs with The Lap Bomber Mystery, with Just foreign, with Justin Raimondo – USA, and with

Published on Just Foreign Policy, December 2009.

JFP’s Robert Naiman is in Egypt this week participating in the International Gaza Freedom March. But the Egyptian government has blocked the marchers from even approaching the Egyptian border with Gaza. Egypt is also blocking an aid convoy that has the support of the Turkish government from entering Egypt at Nuwieba. Even a peaceful protest at UN offices in Cairo was largely walled off from public view by Egyptian policy.  Continue Reading…

Special CSETI Winter Retreat – February 7-12, 2010

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Linked on our blogs with Steven M. Greer – USA, with The Disclosure Project, and with The Orion Project. See also directly The Orion Project’s Homepage. – Published on CSETI, December 16, 2009.

Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to join Dr. Steven Greer in Boca Grande, on the Grand Barrier Island called Gasparilla, located on the southwest coast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico! Seven miles of pristine white sand beaches stretch along the entire Gulf side of this tranquil island that boasts no high rise buildings and no traffic lights, a 104-year-old lighthouse, and a street with 80-year-old Banyan trees. It’s a perfect location to find dark, starry skies and practice the CSETI ET Contact Protocols while learning to be an Ambassador to the Universe. – Registrations are Limited to 40 people – It’s Filling Up!

More encounters and retreats on above link.

Pope passes special Vatican copyright

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giving him exclusive right to use his name, title, image

Published on boingboing, by Cory Doctorow, December 19, 2009.

The Pope has created a special (and weirdly incoherent) copyright in his name, image and symbols. This “copyright” appears to prohibit using these words and symbols to denote goods or services (”Pope Secondary School,” “Pope Soap,” “Pope Burgers”), all of which are covered already under trademark and fraud laws, and need no copyright to protect them …  //

… “Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,’ must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See,” concluded the message released to the press. (full text).

Barbara Ehrenreich on pessimism

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Listen to this audio, published on The Economist, 14.15 min.

Lexington speaks with the author of “Bright Sided” on America’s addiction to optimism, and the joys of a half-empty glass.

Neo-liberalism and Charter Schools

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Published on Dissident Voice, by Danny Weil, December 27, 2009.

The Los Angeles Board of Education, little more than a managerial club belonging to LA Mayor Villaraigosa and his privatized charter crew, including Green Dot Schools, other educational maintenance organizations (EMO’s) and deep pocket entrepreneurs approved a resolution in August of 2009 to turn over 12 long-struggling campuses and 18 new ones to bidders from inside or outside the district, including some charter operators.1 The effort is all part and parcel of the capitalist “reform of education” that is sweeping the nation below the radar screen of any national news. It includes using the government, which the neo-liberals say they abhor, to asset strip the public realm; in this case to orchestrate the legal seizure of actual public buildings that house public schools paid for over the decades by public taxpayers.  Continue Reading…

Peak Of Magalomania – The Tower Of Dubai

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Published on Free Internet Press, by Intellpukee,  December 17, 2009.

The world’s tallest skyscraper will open soon in Dubai, even as the emirate continues to be battered by the financial crisis. Is Burj Dubai an expression of failed megalomania or proof of Dubai leader Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s stunning vision?

The view is clear, the air is soft and silky, and only a thick strip of red separates the sky and the sea at sundown. The boundary between grandeur and kitsch becomes blurred here, halfway up the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower.  Continue Reading…

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada LRWC

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Sex, science and statistics

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Published on boingboing, by Maggie Koerth-Baker, December 23, 2009.

(Read in Google docs: Casual Sex and Psychological Health Among Young Adults: Is Having “Friends With Benefits” Emotionally Damaging? By Marla E. Eisenberg et al, in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health).

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across yet another news story about how young people no longer date—they just have friends with benefits—and how those hookups are liable to lead to emotional and psychological damage. But recent research suggests that picture may be wrong. Published in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, the new research was based on surveys answered by a diverse group of more than 1300 Minnesotans in their late teens and early 20s. Not only were the majority of these people having sex within a relationship, but whether they were or not had no bearing on their mental health. The casual-sex havers were every bit as happy and healthy as the kids who were only doing it with a committed partner.  Continue Reading…

16 demands to end violence against women

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Published on Pambazuka News, by Salma Maoulidi, 2009-12-23.

Annual campaign ‘16 Days of Violence Against Women’ has raised the profile of violence against women through Tanzania’s local media, Salma Maoulidi writes in this week’s Pambazuka News, but there’s no guarantee that greater visibility of the issues will change attitudes and spark political to stop violence against women. Raising alarm over the ‘intolerable multi-dimensional culture of violence’ that women experience, Maoulidi makes a series of sixteen demands ‘to underscore fundamentals in changing an ideology and deeply seated culture of violence against women’. Continue Reading…

Torture: The Transfers of Afgan Prisoners

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Letter to Canada’s House of Commons – Linked on our blogs with Lawyers Against the War LAW.

Published on Global, by Lawyers Against the War, by Lawyers Against the War, December 22, 2009.

Open letter to the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan (Chair: Rick Casson, Vice-chair: Bryon Wilfert, Members: Jim Abbott, Ujjal Dosanjh, Francine Lalonde, Claude Bachand, Laurie Hawn, Dave MacKenzie, Paul Dewar, Greg Kerr, Deepak Obhrai)

Dear Committee Members, Lawyers against the War (LAW) urges the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan to recommend:

  • The immediate cessation of transfers of people taken prisoner in Afghanistan (prisoners) by Canada, to third countries, including Afghanistan; and,
  • That Canada immediately undertake effective protective and remedial measures with respect to all prisoners already transferred by Canada to third countries; and,
  • The creation of a judicial inquiry mandated to inquire into allegations that the transfers violate Canadian and international law and to recommend the civil and criminal remedies required by law.  Continue Reading…

Since Obama Is Not Going to Save Us, What Shall We Do?

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Published on Dissident Voice, by Doug Page, December 22, 2009.

There is a new documentary movie inspired by Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. It is a liberal film maker’s attempt to understand how nice rural people who are being badly hurt by neocon economic policies can nevertheless vote for neocons because of their profound opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and gun control. The tone of the movie, like the title to the book and the movie, suggest a subtheme: “Why can’t they be smart like us?”

But what is so smart and energetic about us? We too are being badly hurt by neocon policies, and yet we can not organize or mobilize ourselves to stop them. We are trapped by our own addiction to material comforts, and by our firm dedication to our liberal principles of supporting women’s choice on abortion, the right of gay’s to a same sex marriage, and of the removal of guns from our midst. Continue Reading…

From cynicism to hope, it takes a conscience

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Linked on our blogs with Peace of the Actions. – Published on Online Journal, by Missy Beattie, Dec 21, 2009.

In February of 2008, Michelle Obama delivered a speech in which she said about her husband: “He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism.”

I know what cynicism is. I felt it during the eight, long years of the homicidal Bush-Cheney tyranny. And I recognized it, piercingly, when Barack Obama referred to Afghanistan as the “right” war. I experienced it, again and again, before the election, especially, when Obama chose as his running mate the ardent Zionist Joe Biden along with consultants from the corporate sector.  Continue Reading…

An interview with Eva Golinger about Chávez’s Venezuela

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Published on Online Journal, by Mike Whitney, Dec 21, 2009.

Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American attorney from New York living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press), “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion,” “La Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and “La Agresión Permanente: USAID, NED y CIA.”

Mike Whitney: The US media is very critical of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He’s frequently denounced as “anti-American,” a “leftist strongman,” and a dictator. Can you briefly summarize some of the positive social, economic and judicial changes for which Chavez is mainly responsible?  Continue Reading…

The Power Gap

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Published on Our Kingdom, by Daniel Leighton, 17 December 2009.

Lord Acton famously held that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet if having unaccountable power to rule over others induces hubris and narcissism, lacking power to rule our selves corrupts in its own way, inducing alienation, depression and resignation to the way things are. The Demos Power Map is a first attempt to quantify the power capabilities people have in their every day lives. In the words of Amartya Sen everyone should have the capabilities they need to “live a life they have reason to value.” A capability is the “power to do something”.  Continue Reading…

Women Soldiers Forced to Resort to Back-Alley Abortions

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Why Are Their Reproductive Rights Denied? – Published on AlterNet, by Kathryn Joyce, Religion Dispatches. December 21, 2009.

Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress and other culture warriors, female soldiers are not protected by the Constitution they defend. “You hear these legends of coat-hanger abortions,” a 26-year-old former Marine sergeant told me recently, “but there are no coat hangers in Iraq. I looked.” Amy (who prefers not to use her real name) was stationed in Fallujah as a military journalist two years ago when she discovered she was pregnant. As a female Marine, a distinct minority in the branch, Amy was fearful of going to her chain of command to explain her situation. Continue Reading…

Too Damn Old!

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Published on ZNet, by Dick Meister, December 20, 2009.

Racism and sexism we know plenty about. But what of ageism? Ageism can strike anyone once they reach a certain age — sometimes as early as 40 — and it can make the victim feel unwanted, unneeded and oppressed by all in this work and youth oriented society. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, brown or Asian, man or woman. What matters is your age.

Federal law and several state laws say employers cannot consider your age in deciding if you should be hired, fired, retired, promoted, laid off or whatever. But the laws are widely violated, and sometimes invalidated by courts. Some of the court decisions have been downright bizarre. One recent ruling, for example, found that an employer who told a worker he was being fired because “you’re too damn old for this kind of work” was not violating the law. Another court said a boss who told a worker he had to make way for younger workers was simply stating “a fact of life.” Continue Reading…

Three actual concerns

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Watch these three videos, published all on Brasscheck TV:

1): Is this what we’re fighting for? The Hashish Army, Afghanistan, 6.28 min (the video may be blocked in some countries).- No, this is not a spoof or a put on. This is what’s actually going on in the field. What kind of psychopathic criminals would send American troops to fight and die under conditions like this? By the way, the US and UK news media rants on and on about the Taliban supporting themselves with opium and heroin trading. Since the invasion, Afghanistan now provides at least 80& of the world’s opium. It’s a $3 billion business. Note that the Taliban’s take is around $200 million. For people who can do math, that’s less than 10% of the total score. So who’s getting the rest? (Friends of Uncle Sam).  Continue Reading…

Africa: Not all cultural traditions are worth keeping

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Published on Pambazuka News, by William Gumede, 2009-12-10.

… Yet, the bigger challenge for all communities in South Africa – from whatever colour – remains: To honestly re-examine all their cultural, traditional and religious assumptions and practices. To reduce such a call as an all or nothing battle between so-called ‘modernists’ versus ‘traditionalists’, or Western ‘civilisation’ versus African ‘backwardness’; or as an attempt to ‘denigrate’ African cultural beliefs’, is simply wrong.

Of course, as Africans we have experienced first-hand the barbarism of Western cultures that have portrayed themselves as ‘civilised’, ‘enlightened’ and ‘superior’ compared to African cultures, but that in practice have oppressed vast numbers in the most dehumanising ways imaginable.  Continue Reading…

Does terrorism work?

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A new book offers a sober corrective to some recent misconceptions about terrorism, says Islamist expert Malise Ruthven

Published on Prospect, by Malise Ruthven, November 18, 2009.

Does terrorism work? For years scholars and military experts have been debating this question with a view to formulating the appropriate responses of governments. The answers are both complex and ambiguous …

… In English’s view, the most serious danger posed by terrorists is their capacity to “provoke ill-judged, extravagant, and counter-productive state responses” rather than the actual damage caused by their actions. As a tactic, in other words, terrorism’s impact is more psychological than physical. Continue Reading…

Sandwich Theory And Operation Green Hunt

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Published on Countercurrents, by Radha D’Souza, 17 December, 2009.

I was piqued by the phrase ‘sandwich theory’ when I first heard it from Delhi students. They were referring to the views of a section of articulate, influential, middle India in the wake of the controversies over Sadwa Judum in Chattisgarh and now Operation Green Hunt. The ‘theory’, if we may call it that, holds that the Adivasis and rural poor are caught in the crossfire between armed Maoist ‘terrorists’ on the one side and a militarised Indian state on the other (see Report of the Independent Citizen’s Initiative on Chattisgarh for example). It is the duty of middle India, according to the ‘sandwich theory’, to ‘rescue’ the hapless Adivasis and rural poor from the armed combatants. Both combatants have ulterior motives: the Maoists wish to take political power through the barrel of their guns, and the India state wishes to grab Adivasi lands and natural resources and hand them over to corporations, foreign and domestic … //

… Middle India And The Freedom Struggle:   Continue Reading…