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Saturday, July 31, 2010

West values pillage, plunder, war: “Barbarism” - Petras

Excerpt from Petras article at People's Voice
“Western societies and states are moving inexorably toward conditions resembling barbarism; structural changes are reversing decades of social welfare and subjecting labor, natural resources and the wealth of nations to raw exploitation, pillage and plunder, driving living standards downward and provoking unprecedented levels of discontent.…

“[B]arbarism has emerged as a defining reality, product of the ascendancy of a militarist and parasitic financial ruling class. The barbarians are here and now, present within the frontiers of Western societies and states. They are dominant and aggressively pursuing an agenda which is continually reducing living standards, transferring public wealth to their private coffers, pillaging public resources, savaging constitutional rights in their pursuit of imperial wars, segregating and persecuting millions of immigrant workers and promoting the disintegration and diminution of the stable working and middle class. More than at any time in recent history, the top 1 percent of the population controls an increasing share of national wealth and income.”
Source: “Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism” (James Petras), July 31st, 2010, http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2010/07/31/trends-to-barbarism-and-prospects-for-so#more12754. James Petras is a former professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, author of more than 62 books, his latest Global Depression and Regional Wars: The United States, Latin America and the Middle East (Clarity Press, September 2009), published in 29 languages; and hundreds of journal articles [jpetras@binghamton.edu; http://petras.lahaine.org/index.phps].

 Friday July 30 protests of U.S./Mexico militarization

The Border Network for Human Rights says militarization of the U.S./Mexico border is not without consequences. Increasing the number of armed agents and soldiers on the border does not enhance national security.

The rights group is protesting the deployment of National Guard troops on the U.S./Mexico border and has delivered a letter to U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes urging him to lead congressional opposition to further militarization of the border.

The U.S. National Guard ordered by the Obama administration in further militarizing the border ─ tantamount to yet another act of war ─ is due to arrive Sunday [from a July 30, 2010, report from El Paso, Texas, KTSM, http://www.ktsm.com/news/border-network-protests-troop-deployment]. Congressman Silvestre Reyes represents Texas' 16th congressional district.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lasting consequences

There is no escaping the protracted fallout of invasion and occupation. There is no cure apart from stopping invasion, ending occupation.
Re-reporting, editing, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett


9-11, 9-11! Call to war abandons U.S. victims
House Rejects Bill to Help Sick Ground Zero Workers
Soldier suicides ignored

The U.S. government has approved and sealed legislation hemorrhaging more deficit spending including $37 billion [pushing past a $ trillion] for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the U.S. House of Representatives “failed to pass a $7.4 billion bill to provide free healthcare and compensation payments to U.S. rescue and cleanup workers who were exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 attacks.”

Soldier suicide has risen above the rate among civilians since the Vietnam War. Between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009, 160 active-duty Army personnel committed suicide. A third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug. Fourteen percent of them take powerful painkillers. The U.S. Army report citing the figures “faulted commanders for ignoring rising mental health, drug and crime issues among soldiers.”



As the month ends, July goes on record as the deadliest (63 troop deaths) for the U. S.’s nearly nine-year invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The missing bodies of Navy sailor Jarod Newlove (Renton, Washington) and sailor Justin McNeley (Wheat Ridge, Colorado) were found earlier in the week.

KABUL: A NATO vehicle crash into a civilian car killing occupants of that car has led today to rioting outside the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Witnesses reported four passengers died when one of two military vehicles moving in convoy hit the civilian car. In 2006, a similar traffic incident led to massive riots that shook the capital and left at least 14 people dead. Young Afghan men responded by throwing stones and shouting ‘death to foreigners’ and “‘death to [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai.’”


Billions of U.S. deficit dollars pumped into Iraq’s reconstruction have failed to rebuild the country’s ravaged infrastructure. “Money was just spent,” British journalist Patrick Cockburn said today on Democracy Now. “Nobody quite knew where it went. This was happening well after we knew that fraud had been occurring everywhere... Up to quite recently, there seems to have been a free-for-all with Iraqi funds.…”

Moreover, Iraq’s children are sick and dying as Japan’s children suffered and died in the fallout of World War II. “A new medical study has found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia among people in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a city bombarded by U.S. Marines in 2004.

Infant mortality is more than four times higher than in neighboring Jordan, eight times higher than in Kuwait. Cancer rates exceed those reported by survivors of the U.S. atomic bombs dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Iraqi cases are “‘similar to the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionizing radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout.”

FALLUJAH west: One soldier died and five people suffered wounds when a bomb exploded on a parked motorcycle near an army checkpoint.

MOSUL north: One police officer died and another two suffered wounds near the convoy of a police chief

BAGHDAD north: Sixteen people died (among them nine security personnel) and 14 suffered wounds Thursday when several bombs hit Baghdad’s Sunni district of Al-Adhamiyah. Three soldiers died and 12 suffered wounds Thursday when a car bomb exploded near an army base in Al-Sharqat, north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province. On different routes to the scene of the attacks, 13 people died among them three soldiers and three police officers. Among the wounded were seven police officers and two civil members of civil defense.

Sources and links
Democracy Now headlines July 30, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/30/headlines
“Afghans riot in Kabul after deadly NATO crash Module body,” July 30, 2010,
“16 dead, 14 wounded in Baghdad attacks,” AFP July 30, 2010, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20100730/twl-iraq-unrest-575b600.html

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Immigrants, too, have rights, Protests yield progress

Edited excerpted by Carolyn Bennett

Isabel Garcia of the Tucson-based Human Rights Coalition and legal defender of Pima County, Arizona, spoke today with Democracy Now.

We are living a crisis, she said. It is a human rights crisis along this [Arizona/Mexico] border. People who are generally healthy as they approach the border eventually lose their lives within hours or days in one of the most horrific deaths imaginable.

More than two hundred people die on the U.S.(Arizona)/Mexico border every single year. Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition) has reported, “The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2009 has reached 153.” It is a deadly situation ─ the saddest deaths you can imagine. Among the 153 dead was a pregnant woman: her baby was number 153.

The Obama administration, the courts and everybody are political beings [but] they know what’s going on. They know that there’s massive political pressure, economic pressure ─ including massive historic mobilizations that have occurred in the state of Arizona. And national and international people have come in. There has been an impact on everybody involved.

Real major social change results after there has been mass mobilization in the streets and massive engagement by the population, guiding politicians, guiding other entities within our system to do the right thing. Protests have had a definite impact on everything that we are seeing going on today [Isabel G. Garcia, Pima County (Tucson, Arizona) Legal Defender].

Coalición de Derechos Humanos (‘The Human Rights Coalition’) is a grassroots organization that promotes respect for human/civil rights and fights the militarization of the Southern Border region, discrimination, and human rights abuses by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials affecting U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. The  goals of Coalición de Derechos Humanos are to:
Strengthen the capacity of the border and urban communities to exercise their rights and participate in public policy decisions.
Increase public awareness of the magnitude of human rights abuses, deaths and assaults at the border resulting from U.S. policy.
Seek changes in government policies that result in human suffering because of the militarization of the U.S. border region.
Sources and links
“On Eve of Major Protests, Federal Judge Blocks Key Provisions of Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law,” July 29, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/29/on_eve_of_major_protests_federal
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, http://www.nnirr.org/about/index.php
No More Deaths, http://www.nomoredeaths.org/
Legal Defender’s Office, http://www.pima.gov/legaldef/
Coalición de Derechos Humanos, http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net
http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net/index.php? option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=1&Itemid=46

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stop the Hemorrhage, Bring $Billions home

Re-reporting, editing by Carolyn Bennett
Some Members of Congress took a stand against more billions for war

To date “we have appropriated over $1 trillion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than $700 billion to Iraq and $300 billion for Afghanistan.” Borrowed money has paid for these wars.

“What’s happened with this bill [2010 supplemental appropriations, war funding bill] is a good indication of the tensions and the false choices that we face. The bill started in March as a domestic disaster relief and youth summer jobs bill. The Senate added war funding. Then, we tried to do something about other emergencies this year:
The loss of more than 100,000 teachers’ jobs because of devastating state and local budget cuts
Border security vulnerabilities
A shortfall in Pell grant funding because more students qualify for aid due to the economic recession
“The House tried to fund those emergencies – which were largely paid for with offsets to other programs. Now, true to form, virtually everything we have attempted to do this year to address the economic crisis and emergencies on the domestic side of the ledger has fallen by the wayside.

“On the current course, we will face the same situation again next year and the year following as well.

“Military experts tell us that it will take us at least 10 more years to achieve any acceptable outcome in Afghanistan. We have already been there 9 years ─ I believe it is too high a price to pay.

“To those who say we must pay it because we’re going after Al Qaeda, I would note that Afghanistan is where Al Qaeda USED to be.

“Today, there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which was publicly confirmed last month by CIA chief Panetta. Al Qaeda has relocated to other countries and regions.

“I have the highest respect and appreciation for our troops who have done everything asked of them. They are being let down by the inability of the governments of Afghanistan and in some instances Pakistan to do their parts.

“I would be willing to support additional war funding – provided that Congress would vote – up or down – explicitly on whether or not to continue this policy after a new National Intelligence Estimate is produced.

“But absent that discipline, I cannot look my constituents in the eye and say that this operation will hurt our enemies more than us.…”

U.S. Representative Dave Obey [7th Congressional District Wisconsin, July 27, 2010, on his decision to vote no on the 2010 supplemental appropriations bill, http://appropriations.house.gov/images/stories/pdf/Obey_Statement_on_the_Sen_Amendment_to_2010_Supplemental_-_7_27_10_2.pdf

Clarke of NEW YORK
“Unfortunately the Senate has decided to short change our school children, teachers and youth while continuing to pay for the fruitless war in Afghanistan. Senators stripped critical House-passed funding provisions from the legislation that would have provided for teacher jobs, summer youth employment, and college Pell grants.

Specifically, the Senate version of the War Supplemental bill stripped from the House-passed investments:
$10 billion for teacher jobs
$1 billion for summer youth employment
$5 billion for Pell grants
$701 million for border security

The bill also excludes critical funding to maintain first responder, police/firefighter positions despite the fundamental need for those jobs not only in Brooklyn but in every community in America.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke's Statement on the FY 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act,
July 27, 2010 7:13 PM Washington, DC- Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4899, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 with a vote of 308 to 114; Congresswoman Clarke released the statement on her decision to vote against the legislation, http://clarke.house.gov/2010/07/congresswoman-yvette-d-clarkes-statement-on-the-fy-2010-supplemental-appropriations-act.shtml

 Kucinich of OHIO
“Wake Up America.

“How can we solve the world’s problems if we cannot solve our own problems here at home?”

“Don’t we know enough now to begin to demand an end to these wars? Can we ignore the budgetary impact of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan ─ especially when there are so many pressing needs for jobs, housing, education, health care and retirement security here at home?

“Vote for H. Con. Res 301: The Kucinich-Paul Resolution to Withdraw from Pakistan. Vote Against the $33 Billion Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan War Supplemental.” Dennis J. Kucinich, 10th District Ohio, http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=200735

House Congressional Resolution 301: “Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan” was introduced by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich [OH-10], July 22, 2010. Cosponsors are Representatives Bob Filner [CA-51] and Paul, Ron [TX-14].

Related bill House Resolution 1556: “Providing for consideration of the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 301) directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan” [Sets forth the rule for consideration of the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 301) directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan] introduced by Representative James P. McGovern [MA-3] July 26, 2010.

Woolsey, Lee of CALIFORNIA
“We are running up record deficits with two wars,” California Representative Lynn Woolsey said, costing “the United States in blood and treasure.”

“Let’s not spend another dollar to escalate America’s longest war,” another California Congresswoman pleaded on the House floor. “The costs of this war are too enormous,” Representative Barbara Lee said.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved $58 billion for wars, despite Afghan leaks (Mark Matthews), July 27, 2010, http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/politics&id=7578874

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

U.S.- Afghanistan leaks

WikiLeaks’ latest ─ “What the files reveal”
Excerpting and editing by Carolyn Bennett

UPDATE By Thursday, the U.S. Defense Secretary was “[asking] the FBI to help investigate the leak of more than 90,000 classified military documents.”  In a Pentagon news conference, a seemingly angry Robert Gates threatened retribution and called the WikiLeaks’ releases “‘potentially severe and dangerous.’ “Pentagon asks FBI to probe leaks,” Al Jazeera reported their time July 30, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/2010729192033991507.html

UPDATE Friday July 30: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange responds to Gates:

“[U.S. Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates could have used his time, as other nations have done, to announce a broad inquiry into these killings. …
He could have announced specific criminal investigations into the deaths we have exposed.
He could have announced a panel to hear the heartfelt dissent of U.S. soldiers, who know this war from the ground.
He could have apologized to the Afghani people.…
“He did none of these things. He decided to treat these issues and the countries affected by them with contempt. Instead of explaining how he would address these issues, he decided to announce how he would suppress them.

“This behavior is unacceptable. We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses by this administration and others.” [Source and link: “Julian Assange Responds to Robert Gates Remarks,” Posted by admin on Jul 30th, 2010 and filed under North & South America, Morrison World Media Morning Post, http://morrisonworldnews.com/?p=20381; Also note: Letters to Washington program on KPFA, July 30, 2010, http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/62941]

The 90,000 secret U.S. military files released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks present a powerful indictment of the Pentagon, the Obama administration and the former Bush administration for failing to tell the truth about the war on Afghanistan. These files document U.S. and NATO troops’ killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians.

The files reveal that the Pentagon set up what amounts to a “death squad,” a secret commando unit called Task Force 373, made up of Army and Navy Special Operatives who seek to assassinate individuals from a list of 2,000 targets.

The released documents show a grim and repeating film of previously unknown incidents where U.S. and NATO troops have shot and murdered unarmed drivers and motorcyclists.

The documents reveal another incident from 2008 in which French troops used machine guns to strafe a busload of children. A military patrol machine-gunned another bus and wounded or killed 15 civilian passengers. In a revenge attack for an earlier insurgent assault, Polish troops in 2007 rained mortar fire on an Afghan village, killing members of a wedding party among them pregnant women.

WikiLeaks’ release confirms an obvious pattern of intensifying retaliatory bomb attacks against U.S. and NATO forces.

The decision by the Obama administration to send 60,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009 is exposed as nothing other than a decision to send more human beings to their death in an ongoing war … avoiding political responsibility for military setback. All U.S. policymakers use the tactic: No matter what, avoid the appearance of military defeat at the hands of an armed resistance.

The web of lies spun for months by the White House and Pentagon about the Afghan war has started to come undone.

Al Jazeera reports that the leaked U.S. military documents reveal “a worrying culture of ill-discipline and incompetence within Afghan ranks.”Afghan security forces have shot civilians, launched attacks on each other, held drug fuelled parties and stolen vehicles in mass desertions. The documents contain more than 70 records of so-called ‘Green on Green’ incidents in which Afghan security forces have not fought the Taliban but each other.

Dozens of reports in the leaked documents describe incidents suggesting the challenge in preparing Afghan forces to take the lead in the country’s security is larger than previously thought. Though Afghan president Hamid Karzai “wants his forces to take responsibility for his country’s security by 2014, the documents posted by WikiLeaks on Monday reveal a worrying culture of ill-discipline and incompetence within their ranks.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

“What we see is that the U.S. Army is an enormous boat that is extremely hard to turn around, and the cover-up of those sorts of crimes begins at the bottom and moves its way to the top so it is quite hard to enact a new policy and have it filtered down to a change in practice. A new policy by [President Barack] Obama does not mean a change of practice by the U.S. military any more than a new policy by [former U.S. Army General Stanley] McChrystal meant a change in practice by U.S. forces.…

“It’s important to understand, this material doesn’t just reveal abuses. This material describes the past six years of war, every major attack that resulted in someone being detained or someone being killed. That tells you how the war is going, where this happened, in what different parts of Afghanistan, what sort of weapon systems were used, which particular military units.

“Is there a killer—is there a killer unit in the United States military? Because there’s been histories of that. You can find out using this data. You can create a simple computer program. We haven’t done it yet, but any one of your technical staff can create a simple computer program to add up the kills by unit and get—and find a top kill unit so that’s an example of something that can be immediately extracted from this.

“You can really see how the war in Afghanistan is going and then compare that to government statements and government policy. This is the raw material that ends up on the big boards on the war room.…

“This is the raw ingredients that lead to Pentagon statistics about civilian casualties; that lead to graphs about how many insurgents are killed.

“We only ever normally see those figures in aggregate, but now we have all the events that are used to create those figures, and we can understand whether those aggregate figures are in fact accurate or are they distortions.

“We can see in many cases where we know what’s in this database and we have press sourcing or Afghan government investigation; we can see the disparity between these two so we can see, in fact, the aggregate figures are based on faulty data.”

“What the WikiLeaks files TRULY reveal,” ANSWER Coalition interview on breaking Wikileaks story, July 26, 2010, http://answer.pephost.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9719&news_iv_ctrl=0&abbr=ANS_
“Afghan forces’ flaws exposed” (Andrew Wander, Al Jazeera English) July 26, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/201072613456286509.html

Today July 27, 2010 on Democracy Now highlights from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Monday press conference in London at the Frontline Club.
“WikiLeaks Founder Says ‘Evidence of War Crimes’ in Afghan War Logs, White House Downplays Leak, Claiming ‘No Broad New Revelations,’” http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/27/wikileaks_founder_says_afghan_war_logs

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oil Corps’ silenced Niger Delta devastation

Re-reporting editing by Carolyn Bennett
Deutsche Welle spoke with Ben Amunwa of the “Remember Saro-Wiwa” Project and Prince Chima Williams of the Environmental Rights Action group in the Niger Delta about Big Oil’s rape of a priceless ecological gem and its people.


In the Niger Delta capital, Shell Oil workers live in a gated community that offers schooling, medical treatment, shopping, sporting facilities, a choir, a library, cookery classes ─ even a book club.

Across the fence from local people’s “normal community” with no light or water or hospital or good roads, “you see Shell where there is light almost 24 hours a day, an uninterrupted water supply, fine buildings and green vegetation.”

Black gold was discovered [officially] in the Niger Delta in the middle 1950s: Oil. Crude. Shell Corporation came to the Niger Delta’s Ogoniland region.

House roofs started turning brown. Researchers discovered that the brownish tone on the roofs was caused by acid rain. People came to realize that their lives and land and water and way of life were in danger. “Non-violent campaigner, writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa rallied against Shell’s degradation of the Niger Delta’s Ogoniland region until his controversial judicial execution in 1995.”

Shell pulled out of Ogoniland in 1993 but stayed along with several other big oil companies among them ExxonMobil and Chevron in occupation and plunder of the delta and its people. Collectively the oil giants “are responsible for some 10,000 kilometers of pipeline, much of which is aged and rusty and extremely prone to leak. The number of spills increases by the year ─ some say to as many as one every day. Cleanups fail to keep pace with spills.

The Niger region is full of water and spills spread way beyond an immediate site. “Up to 42 communities” can be affected by contaminated water, “water the people depend on for drinking, cooking and other every-day purposes.”

The Niger Delta’s estimated 30 million people “are being left to foot the bill with their livelihoods and their lives.… (Right now, an oil company is permitted to pay the Nigerian government $7,000, 5,700 Euros, not to clean up). The average lifespan in the Niger Delta is 40 years so the people are living and counting the days.”

Local people are no longer able to survive on the fruits of the earth and the bounty of the ocean. Local communities have become dependent upon fish imported from other parts of Nigeria or abroad. Pollution has rendered recognized farming untenable. In some communities, people grow what they can just to keep their families from starving. In other communities the pollution is so bad residents are forced to move, often into urban slums.

Activists and the local population want to see regulations that outlaw bad business ethics that have coated the delta’s mangrove swamps with crude. Binding regulations “compelling corporations of European and American origin to behave the same way they do in Europe irrespective of the strength or weakness of government or how corrupt those governments” might offer people of the delta a chance for significant change in the land, the water, the air, their lives.

The world fixes its gaze on the plight of those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill while millions of people at the far side of the Atlantic suffer the same fate and their stories are rarely heard.


“The Niger Delta has become a paradise lost.” From a dreamland of intricate creeks, rivers, estuaries, mangrove and fresh swamps and abundance of tree and fish species ─ 70,000-square kilometers (27,000 square miles) of wetland, one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in the world ─ an area farmed and fished and otherwise left to nature’s devices has become a nightmare.

Sources and notes
“The oil disaster the world prefers to ignore” (Author: Tamsin Walker, Editor: Rob Mudge), July 26, 2010, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5724143,00.html

Ben Amunwa is an expert and campaigner with the London-based Platform’s ‘Remember Saro-Wiwa’ project; Prince Chima Williams is head of legal resources with the Environmental Rights Action group in the Niger Delta.

“Remember Saro-Wiwa” is a coalition of organizations and individuals whose aims are to create a Living Memorial to activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in London, using art and activism to raise awareness and campaign for environmental and social justice in the Niger Delta. Funding the Remember Saro-Wiwa project are individual donations, the Arts Council England, and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation, http://remembersarowiwa.com/about/

The London, UK-based PLATFORM works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. The Remember Saro-Wiwa Project Team includes Ben Amunwa, David A Bailey (Curator), Richard Howlett, http://www.platformlondon.org/

PLATFORM brings together environmentalists, artists, human rights campaigners, educationalists and community activists to create innovative projects driven by the need for social and environmental justice. Their interdisciplinary approach combines the transformational power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigor of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures. Since 1996, PLATFORM’s work has focused on the impact of “the transnational corporation” on our minds, our bodies, our society and our environment. http://www.platformlondon.org/aboutplatform.asp

The topography of Nigeria generally consists of plains in the north and south interrupted by plateaus and hills in the center of the country. The Sokoto Plains are in the northwestern corner of the country. The Borno Plains in the northeastern corner surround the Lake Chad region. The Lake Chad basin and the coastal areas ─ including the Niger River delta and the western parts of the Sokoto region in the far northwest ─ are underlain by soft, geologically young sedimentary rocks. Gently undulating plains waterlogged during the rainy season are in these areas.

The characteristic landforms of the plateaus are high plains with broad, shallow valleys dotted with numerous hills or isolated mountains; the underlying rocks are crystalline, although sandstones appear in river areas. The Jos Plateau rises almost in the center of the country; it consists of extensive lava surfaces dotted with numerous extinct volcanoes and contains the peak of Shere Hill, which rises to an elevation of 5,843 feet (1,781 meters). Other eroded surfaces, such as the Udi-Nsukka escarpment, rise abruptly above the plains at elevations of at least 1,000 feet (300 meters). The most mountainous area exists along the southeastern border with Cameroon where the Cameroon Highlands produce the highest point in the country, Mount Dimlang, at 6,695 feet (2,042 meters) [Britannica].

Sunday, July 25, 2010

“Food dictatorship”—GMOs’ eco-disaster

Compiled and edited by Carolyn Bennett
A handful of gene giants (Monsanto, Syngenta, Aventis, Dow, DuPont) control agricultural biotechnology.
They control intellectual property and entrench patent monopolies over GM seeds and plants.
They stifle freedom of information and choice.
Genetically modified crops have spread where “farmers are denied freedom of information and freedom of choice because of corporate control and dependency,” writes scientist Vandana Shiva. “GM foods are entering the food chain where consumers are denied the right to know and the right to choose. U.S. farmers are the most trapped under corporate control of inputs and marketing.”

Corporations preventing the labeling of GM foods have denied U.S. citizens food freedom and food democracy.

In Europe and Japan, consumers have freedom of choice, freedom that prevented GM foods from flooding the market.

Famine caused by western powers is being used to market GMOs [genetically modified organisms] through food aid. The WHO [World Health Organization] was mobilized to force African countries to accept GM food. The U.S. government made the force-feeding of Africans with GMOs a major issue. In the closing plenary of the 2002 Earth Summit when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell representing the George W. Bush administration kept insisting that African countries import GM food from the U.S, both NGOs and governments heckled him.

Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [Africa] refused to accept GMOs in food aid. African farmers had come to the summit in Johannesburg with alternatives—small scale, indigenous-based farmers rights to land, water, and seed.

A democratic process led to Zambia’s refusal to accept GM food and the Zambian president condemned the FAO, WHO, and World Food Program for being irresponsible in supporting the U.S. ‘We may be poor and experiencing food shortages,’ the Zambian president said, ‘but we are not ready to expose people to ill-defined risks.’ He pleaded that Zambians not be used as guinea pigs.

African Civil Society groups of more than 45 African countries participating at the World Summit on Sustainable Development joined Zambian and Zimbabwean governments and peoples in “rejecting GE contaminated food [saying] ‘We refuse to be used as the dumping ground for contaminated food rejected by the Northern countries and we are enraged by [this] emotional blackmail of vulnerable people.’”

The introduction of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the complex ecosystems of our environment, Greenpeace writes, is a dangerous global experiment with nature and evolution. GE organisms (or GMOs: genetically modified organisms) pose unacceptable risks to ecosystems, and threaten biodiversity, wild life and sustainable forms of agriculture.

Genetically engineered organisms are a threat to crop diversity, which is critical to the continuing development of varieties resistant to new pests, diseases, and changing climatic and environmental conditions. The lack of genetic diversity has documented links to many major crop epidemics in human history. Diversity is essential for global food security.

Genetic diversity is all that ‘stands between us and catastrophic starvation on a scale we cannot imagine’ Botanist Jack Harlan

Sources and notes
Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology was speaking in 2003 and parts of her February 2003 speech presented at the Future of Life Summit were posted at Z Magazine: The spirit of resistance lives, April 2003,
Greenpeace, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/agriculture/problem/genetic-engineering/ge-agriculture-and-genetic-pol/

We women, in all our vibrant and fabulous diversity, have witnessed the increasing aggression against the human spirit, human mind and human body and the continued invasion of and assault upon the Earth and all her diverse species ─ and we are enraged, write Women for Diversity.

We demand that governments, international organizations, transnational corporations and individual men who share our rage address the crisis caused by the creation of monocultures and the reduction, enclosure, and extinction of biological and cultural diversity.

We insist that those who address the crisis listen to and take leadership from women, indigenous peoples, farmers, and all who have raised these concerns at the local level. We ask their heed of the wisdom, stewardship, knowledge and commitment that has preserved the diversity we celebrate today. Navdanya Women for Diversity’s Statement of Concern, http://www.navdanya.org/diverse-women-for-diversity/60

Saturday, July 24, 2010

U.S. Assaults Taliban, al-Qaeda, Africa to Aden

Path and consequences of aggression
Re-reporting, compiled and edited by Carolyn Bennett


Four U.S. soldiers died today when a roadside bomb exploded in southern Afghanistan. The number of foreign soldiers who have died so far in the seven months of this year is estimated to be 396 compared with 520 in the whole of 2009.

In Logar province in eastern Afghanistan, two U.S. soldiers who left their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle on Friday afternoon are reported to have been captured by the Taliban. Of the initial three soldiers captured, one is believed to have died.

Last summer in Paktika province the Taliban captured another U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl. Paktika is close to Logar in eastern Afghanistan.


Twelve (estimate) ‘militants’ died today when “a U.S. drone fired four missiles into a Dwasarak village compound, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Wana (South Waziristan district) in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt.”

Since last August 1,000 (estimated) people have died “in more than 100 drone strikes in Pakistan,” attacks which have “fueled anti-American sentiment in the country.… Militants based in the rugged tribal terrain attack US-led forces across the border in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Taliban are waging a nearly nine-year insurgency to evict the more than 140,000 foreign troops.”

In separate incidents on Saturday, a police officer died and four others suffered wounds when “suspected militants armed with guns and grenades attacked two police stations in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore.”

Eight million people live in Lahore, which sits close to the Pakistan/India border, the site of increasing “Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks in a three-year nationwide bombing campaign” that has left more than 3,500 people dead.


The one-year anniversary of the Nigerian Taliban uprising nears. Nigerians are scared and authorities are cracking down. The uprising last year began on July 26 and spread to four states but centered in Maiduguri, Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north. When the four-day uprising ended, the military and police had launched an assault that left 800 people dead. The police were accused of the massacre and of killing the up-risers’ leader, Mohammed Yusuf.

Members of the Nigerian Taliban are reportedly recruits who have dropped out of university studies, are unemployed youth, or are people “seeking to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state.” Of the continent’s 150 million people, an estimated 75 million (one half) are Muslim. The Nigerian Taliban also calls itself ‘Boko Haram.’ In the local dialect, the words mean ‘Western education is sin.’

AFRICA’S HORN - Middle East/Southwest Asia

At a rugby club and a restaurant on July 11, seventy-four people died when two bombs exploded in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Somalia’s al-Shabab group took responsibility saying the attacks were in response to the deaths of Somali civilians at the hands of AU (African Union) “peacekeepers.” The U.S. has branded al-Shabab an ally of “al-Qaeda.” The group is warning of more violence in Uganda and Burundi unless UN troops pull out of Somalia.

How many (est.) in two-theater
Casualty sites reporting
July 24-25, 2010 (accurate totals unknown)
• Anti-war dot com Casualties in Iraq since March 19, 2003
[U.S. war dead since the Obama inauguration January 20, 2009: 185]
Wounded 31,888-100,000
U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000
Suicides 18 a day
Latest update on this site July 2
Iraq Body Count figures
97,110 – 105,956
• ICasualties IRAQ: 4,413 U.S., 4,731 Coalition
AFGHANISTAN: 1,206 U.S., 1,966 Coalition

Sources and notes

Federal Republic of Nigeria, an area of 356,669 square miles (923,768 square km), Africa’s most populous country, is located on the coast of western Africa. To the north it is bordered by Niger; the east by Chad and Cameroon; the south by the Gulf of Guinea; and to the west by Benin.

Nigeria has abundant natural resources ─ notably large deposits of petroleum and natural gas. [Britannica]

Somali (Soomaaliya, Arabic As-Sūmāl) sits on the Horn of Africa, occupying an important geopolitical position between sub-Saharan Africa and the countries of Arabia and southwestern Asia. On its north Somalia is bounded by the Gulf of Aden; on the east by the Indian Ocean; from its southern point, its western border is bounded by Kenya and Ethiopia; and, to the northwest by Djibouti. Land divided by the colonialists still form the roots of conflict among Horn and Eastern African nations and peoples. Somalis are Muslim and about half follow a mobile way of life, pursuing nomadic pastoralism or agropastoralism. They are “an egalitarian, freedom-loving people, suspicious of governmental authority.”

Exploitable oil and natural gas have not yet been found in Somalia but its deposits of the clay mineral sepiolite in south-central Somalia are among the largest known reserves in the world. Sea salt is collected at several sites on the coast. Somalia’s most valuable resources are the natural pastures that cover most of the country. Another resource scarcely exploited is the abundant fish life in the coastal waters, still unpolluted by industrial waste. A potential source of hydroelectricity is the Jubba River. [Britannica]

“U.S, casualties on rise in Afghan war,” July 24, 2010, http://english.aljazeera War.net/news/asia/2010/07/201072412826954782.html
“Taliban captures two U.S. soldiers,”  July 25, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/2010724135650505835.html
“NATO soldiers 'reported missing' in Afghanistan”  (AFP), July 24-25, 2010,
“U.S. missile strike kills 12 militants in Pakistan” (AFP), July 24-25, 2010,
“Nigeria on alert for Taliban uprising anniversary,” July 24, 2010,
“AU nations to boost Somalia force,” July 23, 2010,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Entrenchment costs

Re-reporting, compilation, editing, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett
U.S. Government, Corporate Black gold corruption sets back policy, progress

Three in four oil and gas lobbyists worked for federal government
Washington Post July 22
A Washington Post analysis shows “Three out of every four lobbyists who represent oil and gas companies previously worked in the federal government, a proportion that far exceeds the usual revolving-door standards on Capitol Hill.… All told, more than 430 industry lobbyists once had jobs in the legislative or executive branches according to the Post analysis based on CRP [Center for Responsive Politics] lobbying data, employment histories and other records.” Records show “scores had ties to major congressional committees that shape federal oil policies or to lawmakers who supported industry priorities while in Congress.”

Bribes  abound ─ New York Times July 22
A four-member bipartisan subcommittee on Standards of Official Conduct has found evidence of U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel’s improper use of his position as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in supporting “a tax loophole worth more than half-a-billion dollars for an oil company” [Nabors Industries oil drilling company]. Allegedly the “oil company’s executive, Eugene Isenberg, had promised $1 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York..” As well, the committee has explored “whether Rangel broke ethics rules when he failed to report taxable income received from his Dominican villa.” At 80 years of age, this entrenched Member of Congress, reelected repeatedly by his constituency is slated to face an ethics violations trial.

Oil and gas and coal industries
Some of the most powerful lobbies in Washington ─ Kretzmann July 23
As the latest energy legislation misses the mark, Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International recalls today on Democracy Now that twenty Democrats including climate champions like Sen. John Kerry in earlier actions had “voted against removing subsidies to the oil and gas industry.” This was happening as 100,000 barrels a day were spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP again this week suspended cleanup due to weather.

Environment be damned
Friends of the Earth policy analyst Kate Horner on the Democracy Now program today spoke of the U.S.’s dangerously entrenched obstructionist and regressive energy policies. “I think that the position of the United States government in the negotiations is finally being made clear to the rest of the world,” she said. Of last year’s Copenhagen Climate Conference, she said, “No one really foresaw the extent to which the U.S. government would actually play such an obstructionist role.”

The biggest problem with the U.S. right now in the international negotiations is that they are actively trying to dismantle the international negotiations, trying to weaken the international architecture and replace it with a system of pledges, something far weaker, which is “not based on science and not based on equity.”

President Obama’s special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, has taken a stance whereby the government actively tries to undermine all of the relevant, important provisions in the international architecture ─ a most damaging stance.

We are in a place where the onus is on the rest of the world to continue to be leaders in their respective areas. Europe, for example, was the architect of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only existing international legally binding instrument. The questions are whether European leadership will put muscle behind it and support it; and whether the rest of the world will pressure the United States, isolate it in its obstructionist role.

Oil is King/Queen

U.S. in IRAQ
Militarizing [oil] “diplomacy” in Iraq ─
“One more step in the blurring of the lines between military activities and U.S. State Department or diplomatic activities,” Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security is reported by McClatchy Newspapers.

Under terms of a 2008 ‘status of forces agreement,” all U.S. troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011. But a sizable American civilian presence including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world, and five consulate-like ‘Enduring Presence Posts’ in the Iraqi hinterlands will remain. Therefore, the U.S. “State Department is laying plans for “diplomats to field an army… In little more than a year, State Department contractors in Iraq could be driving armored vehicles, flying aircraft, operating surveillance systems, even retrieving casualties if there are violent incidents and disposing of unexploded ordnance.”

Entrenchment hurts the globe: the earth, the air, the waters, the land, the people.

Sources and notes
“Three of every four oil and gas lobbyists worked for federal government” (By Dan Eggen and Kimberly Kindy Washington Post Staff Writer), July 22, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/21/AR2010072106468.html?hpid=topnews
“House Panel Will Try Rangel in Ethics Cases” (ERIC LIPTON and DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI), July 22, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/nyregion/23rangel.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=rangel&st=cse
“State Dept. planning to field a small army in Iraq” (Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers), July 21, 2010, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/21/97915/state-dept-planning-to-field-a.html#storylink=omni_popular
Democracy Now July 23, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/
“As Senate Dems Give Up on Climate Bill, What Does the Future Hold for US Energy Policy?” July 23, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/23/senate_dems_give_up_on_climate
“Three of Every Four Oil & Gas Lobbyists Worked for Federal Government,” July 23, 2010,

Friends of the Earth is an international network in seventy-seven countries around the world whose national groups put pressure on domestic governments for a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and very strong provisions for additional resources for developing countries.

Petroleum is Iraq’s most valuable mineral. This country has the world’s second largest known reserves. Before the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq was the second largest oil-exporting state. Oil production contributes the largest single portion to GDP and constitutes almost all of Iraq’s foreign exchange. Iraq is a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but disagreements over production quotas and world oil prices have often led Iraq into conflict with other members.

Because Iraq has such a short coastline, it has depended heavily on transnational pipelines to export its oil. Iraq’s narrow coastline is adjacent to that of Iran.

In 1985 Iraq constructed a new pipeline that fed into the Petroline (in Saudi Arabia), which terminated at the Red Sea port of Yanbu’. In 1988, that line was replaced with a new one but it never reached full capacity and was shut down, along with all other Iraqi oil outlets, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. In December 1996, the Turkish pipeline was reopened under the oil-for-food program. Later the gulf terminal of Mīnā’ al-Bakr also was revived. In 1998, repairs were begun on the Syrian pipeline. Following the end of the 2003 conflict, Iraq’s pipelines were subjected to numerous acts of sabotage by guerrilla forces.

Oil was first discovered in Iraq in 1927 near Karkūk by the foreign-owned Turkish Petroleum Company, which was renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1929. Finds at Mosul and Al-Basrah followed. Several new fields were discovered and put into production in the 1940s and ‘50s. New fields have continued to be discovered and developed. [Iraq notes from Britannica]

Kyoto Protocol
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by 154 nations at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro calls for voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Under the convention, international negotiations for stronger commitments to reductions in emissions led to the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement proposed in 1997. The Kyoto Protocol is named for the Japanese city in which it was negotiated.

The Kyoto Protocol has been the subject of intense debate and discussion, which tend to distinguish developed countries (which are included under the protocol) from developing countries (which are not included). Within developed countries, the protocol has its proponents, who seek to reduce the risks of future human-caused climate change; and its opponents, who seek to avoid the risks the protocol poses to economic development and growth. Debate has focused on the United States because it emits more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other country; and because, in 2001, the United States government rejected the protocol for economic reasons. Despite the lack of support by the United States, the protocol garnered sufficient participation to go into force in 2005 [Britannica].

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ART ─ a people’s spirit, disobedience, public discourse

Art collector Harald Falckenberg spoke today with Deutsche Welle Radio about art ─ and why he would

never hang a painting on a wall simply to look at it.
Excerpt and editing from Falckenberg’s responses with brief comment by Carolyn Bennett

Visual art is so interesting because it can show you the spirit of a society, the spirit of people, the development of history at one glance. There is a direct impact.

I look at art as changing my mind, as thinking about things, as a discourse about something, Falckenberg says. Not as something to pray to, praying is forbidden in my collection.

Art as Public Discourse
If I look for the discourse then I have to look for the public because then people come into my collection and say this and that; and I say, ‘No, no, no, no!’ Then, in the end, perhaps we compromise. People who are real private collectors … prefer to have [art] on the wall and look at it three times a day. I can’t do that.

One of the most famous artists [Marcel Duchamp] just wanted to say, ‘This is art because you look at it…you regard it as art or disregard it as art. You discuss it, and the longer you discuss it, the more valuable it is.’

Art as Civil Disobedience
Everyone should have a streak of civil disobedience. If you see governments all over the world, yes, you should be disobedient.

Well then
Given the critical, human, spiritual and interactive value of art
globally and domestically
Why have state and country officials repeatedly
defunded it, often diminishing or eliminating this creative core
school curricula and other cultural, social, civic and “educational” programs?
Why destroy the spirit of people.
Is there insidious motive in this madness?

Sources and notes
Harald Falckenberg is described as provocative, unadjusted and out of the ordinary with a particular taste for modern and contemporary art, holding a private collection in Hamburg, Germany, that comprises nearly 2,000 open-to-the- public works of art. Dr. Falckenberg, a former lawyer at the Constitutional court in Heidelberg, golfer, dancer, tennis and hockey player, began collecting art late in his life. He is now 67 years old and is among Germany’s most famous collectors, specializing in the “art of civil disobedience.”

French artist Marcel Duchamp (b. July 28, 1887, Blainville, France; d. October 2, 1968, Neuilly) receives credit for breaking down boundaries between works of art and everyday objects, irreverence for conventional aesthetic standards leading to an artistic revolution.

“‘Art works are teddy bears for grown-ups,’ says collector” (Deutsche Welle interviewer: Peter Zimmermann, editor: Kate Bowen, July 22, 2010, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5825383,00.html

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mrs. Clinton lectures Ancient cultures …

… On culture, governance, farming ─ a laughable ignorance rising from blind arrogance in a young nation of vacuous officials whose power is rooted in an equally arrogant and ignorant citizenry.
Compiled and edited with brief comment by Carolyn Bennett

ANCIENT CULTURES and geopolitics

In southwestern Asia bordered by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan (north), China (far northeast), Pakistan (east and south), Iran (west), Afghanistan, its capital and largest city Kabul, sits among great mountains and deserts, fertile valleys and rolling plains.

Most Afghan workers farm the land. Many use old-fashioned farming tools and methods. Some of the people are semi nomadic roaming the grasslands in the summer with their herds of livestock and spending the rest of the year farming. Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan.

Almost all of Afghanistan’s people are Muslims, Islam linking 20 ethnic groups with distinct languages divided into several tribes.

In southwestern Asia at the head of the Persian Gulf bordered by Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, Iraq is the world’s first known civilization. The ancient Greeks called part of Iraq and the surrounding region Mesopotamia (between rivers) because it rests between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Civilizations for thousands of years have depended on controlling flooding from the two rivers and on using their waters for irrigation.

Iraq became part of the Arab Empire in the A.D. 600s and absorbed Arab Muslim culture. Roughly, 75 percent of Iraq’s population is Arab. The economy of Iraq depends heavily on the export of oil.

Set among snow-capped mountains, green valleys, and barren deserts in the Middle East region of southwestern Asia ─ bordered by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea (north), Pakistan and Afghanistan (east), the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman (south), Turkey and Iraq (west), controlling a dozen islands in the Persian Gulf, about a third of its 4,770-mile (7,680-km) boundary, seacoast ─ Iran is one of the world’s oldest countries with history extending to the great Persian Empire, almost 5,000 years.

Many times in its long history, foreign powers have invaded and occupied Iran. The mid-600s brought one of the most important invasions; Muslim Arabs conquered the country. During 200 years of rule by Muslim caliphs (religious leaders), the Islamic faith spread throughout the country and in contemporary times most of its people are Muslim.

The discovery of oil in the early 1900s in southwestern Iran brought the country an enormous source of wealth.

Islamic Republic of Pakistan (capital Islāmābād) is bordered by Iran (west), Afghanistan (north), China (northeast), India (east and southeast), Arabian Sea (south). A Muslim nation in South Asia, religion was the chief reason for the establishment of independent Pakistan. Great Britain ruled the region that is now Pakistan in the 1800s and early 1900s and in granting independence to India in 1947, they separated Pakistan from India segregating along religious lines. The British carved Pakistan out of northwestern and northeastern India; the two sections of the new nation were over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) apart. The majority of the people of both regions of Pakistan were Muslims. The majority of the people of the remaining territory of India were Hindus. Approximately 97 percent of Pakistan’s contemporary population practices Islam.
Sources World Book 1999. Britannica 2010

What is the real story here?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Drug War entrenches global AIDS epidemic

Time for profound global policy change says Vienna Declaration
Re-reporting, excerpts with minor editing by Carolyn Bennett
Criminalization of illicit drug users fuels the HIV epidemic and results in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences mandating a full reorientation of policy.

“‘Rights Here, Right Now’ … emphasizes the right to health care, including access to all scientifically sound HIV prevention interventions, such as opioid substitution therapy and needle and syringe programs,” says Brigitte Schmied, President of the Austrian AIDS Society. “To this end, I urge each of you to add your voice to the growing call for the reform of illicit drug policies by signing the Vienna Declaration.

“‘Treatment, not prosecution, is demanded!’

“In our shrinking world, the goal of universal access and global health can no longer be viewed as a story about ‘others.’ These are our stories. Universal access is our responsibility. Holding our political leaders and ourselves accountable is our continued challenge. Let us meet this challenge with tenacity and fervor in the days and months ahead.”

The XVIII International AIDS Conference is meeting this week (July 18-23) in Vienna, Austria.

From the Vienna Declaration:
There is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use. The data also clearly demonstrate that the number of countries in which people inject illegal drugs is growing ─ with women and children becoming increasingly affected. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injection drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV. In some areas where HIV is spreading most rapidly ─ such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia ─ HIV prevalence can be as high as 70 percent among people who inject drugs. In some areas more than 80 percent of all HIV cases are among this group.

Governments, international bodies, organizations and individuals must acknowledge and address these (though not limited to these) harmful consequences of criminalization:
  • HIV epidemics fuelled by the criminalization of people who use illicit drugs and by prohibitions on the provision of sterile needles and opioid substitution treatment
  • HIV outbreaks among incarcerated and institutionalized drug users because of punitive laws and policies and a lack of HIV prevention services in these settings
  • Undermining of public health systems when law enforcement drives drug users away from prevention and care services and into environments where the risk of infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C & B, and tuberculosis) and other harm is increased
  • Crisis in criminal justice systems because of record incarceration rates in a number of nations. This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offenses are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the United States, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day ─ primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.
  • Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces political popularity of criminalizing drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts
  • Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labor, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.
  • Massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of $320 billion (U.S.) ─ profits remaining entirely outside the control of government; fueling crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities; destabilizing entire countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan
  • Billions of tax dollars wasted on a ‘War on Drugs’ approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.
Governments and international organizations including the United Nations should:
  • Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies
  • Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.
  • Decriminalize drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centers that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  •  Endorse unequivocally and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.
  •  Involve meaningfully members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.
  •  Ensure in measures implemented by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon that the United Nations system—including the International Narcotics Control Board—speaks with one voice to support decriminalization of drug users and implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.

“The hypocrisy of our federal [U.S.] drug policy has to be seen for what it is, Jesse Ventura writes in American Conspiracies. “When millions of dollars from illegal drug sales are being used to fund government agencies like the CIA and being laundered through our leading banks, isn’t it time to rethink this situation? The fact is, the ‘war on drugs’ is killing and imprisoning our citizens, way out of proportion to how it is helping anyone. Revamping a criminal justice system that incarcerates thousands of people for using ‘illicit substances’ ─ is a necessity.”

Sources and notes
Speaking in Vienna, Brigitte Schmied, AIDS 2010 Local Co-Chair and President of the Austrian AIDS Society, Austria [http://blog.aids2010.org/post/2010/07/19/Powerful-Words-at-Opening-Session.aspx]
The Vienna Declaration, http://www.viennadeclaration.com/the-declaration.html
The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. The declaration is the official declaration of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) held in Vienna, Austria, July 18-23, 2010.
The declaration was prepared through an extensive consultative process involving global leaders in medicine, public policy and public health. A team of international experts drafted the declaration and several of the world’s leading HIV and drug policy scientific bodies initiated it, among them: International AIDS Society, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) [http://www.viennadeclaration.com/about-the-declaration.html].
The term opioid has been adopted as a general classification of all of those agents that share chemical structures, sites, and mechanisms of action with the endogenous opioid agonists. Opioid substances encompass all the natural and synthetic chemical compounds closely related to morphine, whether they act as agonists or antagonists. Although interest in these drugs has always been high because of their value in pain relief and because of problems of abuse and addiction, interest was intensified in the 1970s and '80s by discoveries about the naturally occurring morphinelike substances, the endogenous opioid neuropeptides [Britannica].

American Conspiracies: Lies, lies, and more dirty lies that the Government tells us by Ventura, Jesse with Dick Russell. New York: Skyhorse Publishing 2010.


World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends [http://www.who.int/about/en/]

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Operating in all regions of the world, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. In the Millennium Declaration, Member States also resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism [http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/about-unodc/index.html?ref=menutop].

UNAIDS is the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, uniting efforts of the United Nations system, civil society, national governments, the private sector, global institutions and people living with and most affected by HIV. Its vision:
Zero new HIV infections
Zero discrimination
Zero AIDS-related deaths

Monday, July 19, 2010

U.S. ‘mangoes’ diplomacy, Iran wants freedom from big-power domination

Re-reporting, compilation, editing, minor comment by Carolyn Bennett

U.S. secretary of State Hillary Clinton today in Pakistan promised [mango trade] “massive aid” for that country and proposed building relations with this “wavering anti-terror ally.” The U.S. plan delivered by Clinton reportedly includes water dam projects in the areas of Gomal Zam, Satpara and Baluchistan; renovation of three hospitals in Karachi, Lahore and Jacobabad; and programs devoted to agriculture, training of farmers in dairy production and increasing production and export of mangoes.

Meanwhile, seriously, in
Former Iranian chief disarmament negotiator now speaker of Iran’s parliament said today “The current prevailing structure of power has not only been unable to secure international peace and security, but has also led to the emergence of such new phenomena as terrorism in a very dangerous and organized framework. No doubt this inability is due to the double standards and unilateral policies exercised by the big powers, including the USA,” Ali Larijani said. He was speaking to an audience that included U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

The U.N. Security Council [China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States] imposed new sanctions on Iran in June over its nuclear program. Russia and China supported U.S. proposals aimed at putting increased pressure on Tehran. Western powers believe Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is only for peaceful purposes.

Four foreigners died and five Iraqi civilians suffered wounds when a suicide bomb exploded into an armored vehicle and a British security company’s convoy in northern Iraq on Monday. Everyone inside the vehicle died.

Six Afghan police officers and two U.S. troops died and four others suffered wounds today when roadside bombs exploded in southern Afghanistan. The troops were traveling south by vehicle to Kandahar.

June was the deadliest month for U.S. and international forces. One hundred and three military personnel have died including 60 Americans. This month so far in Afghanistan 57 NATO troops have died including today’s deaths among them 42 from the United States.

Sources - Wire reports
“Attack on British security firm in Iraq kills 4,” July 19, 2010,
“Road bombs kill 6 Afghan policemen, 2 US troops,” July 19, 2010,
“U.S. to announce aid package to Pakistan,” July 18, 2010, http://uk.news.yahoo.com/18/20100718/twl-us-to-announce-aid-package-to-pakist-2802f3e.html; http://uk.news.yahoo.com/18/20100718/twl-us-to-announce-aid-package-to-pakist-2802f3e.html
“Iran calls for world body free of big power control,” July 19, 2010, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20100719/twl-oukwd-uk-iran-larijani-13abf6c.html
“U.S. announces new Pakistan aid,” July 19, 2010, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/2010719449787390.html

The United Nations Security Council is composed of five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The current ten non-permanent members (with year of terms’ end) are: Austria (2010), Japan (2010), Turkey (2010), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011), Lebanon (2011),  Uganda (2010), Brazil (2011),  Mexico (2010), Gabon (2011),  Nigeria (2011) [http://www.un.org/sc/members.asp].