Category Archives: International affairs

Lawmaker Says Women Need Time Off While Menstruating


Do women we need a menstruation Bill to to protect  their rights? 

 

A nationalist deputy from Russia‘s State Duma put forward legislation Monday entitling working women to two days holiday every month during the “critical days” when they are menstruating.

“In this period, the majority of women experience psychological and physical discomfort,” LDPR member and Moscow mayoral candidate Mikhail Degtyaryov, 32, said in a statement. “Often the pain for the fair sex is so intense that they are forced to call an ambulance.”

The disruption to working women caused by menstruation is so severe that it represents a problem for society, according to the draft bill submitted by Degtyaryov to the Duma.

“Strong pain induces heightened fatigue, reduces memory and work-competence and leads to colorful expressions of emotional discomfort,” reads a copy of the bill published on Degtyaryov’s website. “Therefore scientists and gynecologists look on difficult menstruation not only as a medical, but also a social problem.”

Obliging employers to provide a holiday for female employees will ensure “fair working conditions” for women and increase their “psychological health,” according to Degtyaryov.

It was not immediately clear, however whether the menstruation bill would have enough support to be passed by the Duma. Andrei Isayev, a member of the incumbent United Russia party and the head of the Duma’s Labor, Social Politics and Veteran Affairs Committee, said Monday that the legislation was “ill conceived.”

The nationalist LDPR party is known for its traditional, and sometimes outspoken approach to many gender

lifestyle and moral issues. Last month, party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that the new head of Russia’s Central Bank — Elvira Nabiullina — would struggle because the post demanded “male brains.”

Degtyaryov is the LDPR’s candidate in Moscow mayoral elections scheduled for September 8. Less than 1 percent of Muscovites are planning to vote for him, according to a July 17 poll by the Levada Center.

The Moscow Times

Comment

I am sure the above idea would appeal to many women . Maybe females  everywhere should be floating the idea with their elected representatives

via Lawmaker Says Women Need Time Off While Menstruating | News | The Moscow Times.

Austerity: The History Of A Dangerous Idea


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Canada has now been governed for some time by conservatives who allegedly care about deficits and debt, yet when the implosion of American banks dragged Canada into a recession, our government started spending far more, not less. Years later, we continue to spend into the red and our debt lurches ever higher. By contrast, even since the ascent of the Conservative Party in London, the U.K. has been biting a fiscal bullet. They have chosen to trim government spending in the hope of jump-starting future economic growth—in a word, austerity. According to Mark Blyth, this is a bad idea: “Austerity doesn’t work. Period.” Believing it only persists due to “epistemic arrogance and ideological insistence,” he sets out to trace the intellectual history of austerity, going back to its roots, from Adam Smith, David Hume and John Locke to more recent proponents like Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich Hayek and current German leader Angela Merkel. Then Blyth gives us a decidedly discouraging historical tour of austerity in action, which among other things makes us feel sorry for Great Britain’s prospects.

Blyth, a professor at Brown University, is an unusually gifted communicator of complex economic ideas. But though he pens such colloquial sentences—“Iceland, in many ways, was Ireland on crack”—this book is most suitable for readers with at least an intermediate familiarity with macroeconomics. Blyth does not pause long to explain the importance of bond yields. Yet his book provides a rich background for understanding the policy options facing those who would solve the ongoing Euro-crisis. Blyth also revisits the momentous American decision to bail out its banks, which continues to prompt Republican murmurings about the necessity for belt-tightening. Insofar as the United States and Europe have a debt crisis, it is partly the result of a banking crisis. Bank bailouts created much of the debt that we hear so much hyperventilating about. As for puny Iceland, it chose to let its toxic banks go bust, and its economy is now doing rather well.

Blyth is too rigorous to be an ideologue. He thinks austerity measures have their place, but only under the right conditions. Now, apparently, is not such a time.

via Austerity: The History Of A Dangerous Idea – Bookmarked, Books – Macleans.ca.

Croatia’s entry fee


Engineer Duje Kovai, who has worked in the shipyard at Split for 40 years, asks: “Why does Europe want to stop Croatia building ships?” He has no answer. The country has a long coastline and history of sailors, fishermen and shipbuilders, but EU membership will probably put an end to one of its oldest industries. The yards had to be completely privatised before Croatia officially joined the EU on 1 July.

Croatia had five shipyards, dating back to the 19th century: Uljanik in Pula, and 3-May at Rijeka, Kraljevica, Trogir and Split. They were the economic backbone of the coastal regions. Ships built in Yugoslavia used to sail the world, and for decades Dalmatia’s shipyards rivalled those of Trieste and Saint-Nazaire. Shipbuilding was key to the political imagination of the socialist years: Josip Broz Tito had worked as a mechanic at Kraljevica in the 1920s. Split’s history is linked with the shipyard: the famous Hajduk football club — which is to Croatia what Olympique de Marseille is to France — was founded by shipbuilders who joined the Communist partisans when Dalmatia was annexed by the Italian fascists in 1941.The termination of all public subsidies is stipulated in chapter 8 (Competition Policy) of the accession treaty admitting Croatia to the EU, and the European Commission has been monitoring the implementation of the “restructuring” programme. “All over the world, states help shipbuilding,” said Zvonko Šegvi, president of Split’s shipbuilders’ union. “In Italy, the Fincantieri shipyards are entirely in public hands; in France, the state is still a minority shareholder in the biggest yards such as STX-Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Even in South Korea, the world leader in naval construction, the state subsidises shipbuilding. What’s acceptable in every other country is forbidden in Croatia in the name of European integration.”

A few months before EU accession, the state put its shipyards up for sale. But this proved more difficult than expected: debts were underestimated and some potential buyers were put off by the requirement that they shoulder 40% of restructuring costs. Kraljevica didn’t find a buyer and went under. Only the privatisation of the small site at Trogir seems a comparative success: one pier will be turned into a marina and chandler’s yard, and shipbuilding will continue. It was bought by a Croatian businessman, Danko Konar. The state will contribute €60m ($80m) to its restructuring over five years, and the agreement includes cutting the workforce from 1,200 to 900. Slavko Bilota, an engineer, hopes though that as older workers retire new ones will be taken on.The yards in Split were purchased by the DIV group for the nominal sum of 500,000 kunas ($88,600). DIV, which is owned by the businessman Tomislav Debeljak, has not put forward any serious plan for getting them back in operation, and announced in June that almost all of the 3,500 workers would be laid off: 1,500 of these will be rehired on short-term contracts, but the selection criteria are unclear. DIV has also promised to recruit 500 former employees, also on temporary contracts.

Split is not going down without a fight, and DIV has brought charges against union leaders for alleged acts of violence and has had them banned from the site.The identity of Istria is likewise inextricably linked to the Uljanik shipyard at Pula. In this tiny region of 200,000 people, shipbuilding accounts for nearly 30,000 jobs, direct and indirect. Production has continued and the order book is full, despite a reduction in state aid since 2006. Uljanik even made a bid to buy the 3-May shipyard in Rijeka. But the future remains uncertain. The site is attracting attention for its touristic rather than industrial potential: the islet on which the shipyards are located is in the middle of Pula bay, visible from the promenade and the town’s Roman amphitheatre. For now, Pula’s tourist future is focused on Muzil, a former military base built in 1859 for the Austro-Hungarian fleet and used by the Yugoslav then Croatian navies until it was closed in 2007. Pula residents currently stroll, bathe, fish, and picnic on the site, which also hosts alternative festivals, but there are plans to privatise it and turn it into a tourist complex with a 2,500-bed hotel, golf course and marina.

The planned demise of the shipyards will complete Croatia’s deindustrialisation. But can the country rely on tourism? The coastal regions have the highest unemployment, with 22% officially out of work overall, and a third of those under 25. Many young people get by on casual work on the black market, earning as little as $250 a month. Zvonko Šegvi says Croatia is joining the EU “without any real preparation … our economy has been devastated, and all we can do is provide services to the rich countries in the north. In the EU, Croatia is going to be a second-rank country, like all the other states in the south.”

via Croatia’s entry fee – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition.

FARC, Meet The IRA: Colombian Rebels Get Advice On Peace From Ex Guerrillas – All News Is Global |


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BOGOTA – Negotiators for rebel group FARC — engaged now in historic peace talks with the Colombian government — received an interesting visit in Havana last month. During a pause in negotiations with Bogota officials in the Cuban capital, FARC loyalists met with a group of former members of the IRA.

Indeed, the veterans of Northern Ireland’s Irish Republican Army would have worthwhile experiences to share with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the guerrilla “people’s army” in search of a peace deal after a decades-long war with the Colombian government.

Putting emphasis on their disarmament strategy implemented in the early 2000s, which eventually led to the success of the Northern Irish peace process, IRA members shared their experience.

Of course, the transition to a post-conflict Northern Ireland was by no means easy. In his paper The IRA disarmament process in Northern Ireland: lessons for Colombia, Vicença Fisas, director of the School for the Culture of Peace at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, warns that the Good Friday Agreement — signed in 1998 and marking the official start of the Irish peace process — did not explain in detail how to proceed with regard to disarmament. Instead, the agreement limited itself to expressing the advisability of disarmament, and inviting the parties to collaborate with the International Independent Committee for Disarmament (IICD).

There was much skepticism, Fisas recounts, even though it was clear that resolving the problems surrounding disarmament was essential to the negotiations. The IICD was led by Canadian General Jon de Chastelain, who was responsible for overseeing the gradual disarmament process and the destruction of collected weapons. In total, the IICD supervised four IRA disarmament acts between October 2001 and September 2005.

Guerillas weigh in

But it is not just former IRA members who have been in discussions with the FARC negotiators. There has also been talk about the continued presence of former Central-American guerrillas — from the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador, now one of the country’s two main political parties following the 1992 peace process, and from the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, also now a main political party — as well as others from South Africa.

To advance discussions about demobilization and disarmament, the FARC has also made enquiries about another sensitive topic: pardons and reparations to victims. “The simple fact that we are discussing these topics already enables us to move negotiations forward and, for this reason, there are some who dare to say that the final agreement could be very close,” says a source close to the negotiating process.

Regarding the thorny issue of disarmament, one proposal purportedly gaining favor is the possibility of surrendering weapons to the custody of an international or humanitarian organization. The FARC may have warmed to this idea after their meeting with the IRA, particularly if they have taken into account the fact that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has signalled that he won’t allow the group to enter politics while they are still armed. The government has viewed very positively the fact that the guerrilla group is taking an interest in successful peace processes from around the world.

The FARC aims to re-enter politics

Whatever route the negotiations may take, everything is pointing toward a single overarching objective: establishing political participation. This would be the logical next step following disarmament and the signing of an agreement to end the conflict. And the government’s recent decision to return legal status to the Patriotic Union (UP), the FARC’s political wing, is intricately linked to what is happening in Havana. In fact, according to sources consulted by El Espectador, the FARC has apparently started to solidify plans to fully re-enter the political arena, focusing on the local and regional elections in 2015.

This is why many people have not been surprised that the discussion about peasant reserve zones — one of the points still waiting to be discussed, now that the first topic on the agenda, namely agricultural policy, has been closed — has migrated from Cuba to Catatumbo in the blink of an eye, becoming one of the most important issues for protest leaders in that region. Next week Catatumbo protestors will be joined by more striking miners, and it is believed that other agricultural sectors will also go on strike. These sectors are key for the guerrillas, who are trying to establish new topics for discussion to help guide their position at the negotiating table in Havana.

The aim is for these protests to mark the beginning of the FARC’s agenda for the elections to Congress next year — if negotiations reach a final agreement in time — or the local and regional elections in 2015. That said, the FARC must convince the other side to allow different conditions for its political wing, given that the law currently requires any movement or party to collect almost 450,000 votes in order to maintain its legal status. This figure is almost certainly unattainable for the FARC, but there is talk of creating a “special peace circumscription” that would aim to guarantee its political survival at a national level.

Regardless of how the situation is resolved, both the government and the FARC are well aware that the decision from the Council of State (which advises the Colombia government on administrative matters) to legalize UP has enabled the talks in Cuba to take several gigantic steps forward. And although nobody will admit it, discussions about the international “blind eye” — which needs to be turned to crimes against humanity, drug trafficking and money laundering for the sake of the peace process — have been underway for a little while.

U.S. looks to be on board

Peace is the ultimate goal, and it is believed that the United States would be willing to respect the compromises made to end the conflict in Colombia. For the time being, it is understood that the negotiations in Havana must cover many points and pass through many sets of hands, but the FARC wants to enter politics, and legally.

Speaking to El Espectador from Havana, leader of the FARC Jorge Torres Victoria — better known by his alias Pablo Catatumbo — declined to comment on any progress that may have been made on the topics of demobilization, disarmament or legal immunity for the guerrilla leaders. “Those issues will be discussed in depth in the future,” he says. “What we have said is that we will talk about them very seriously — but when the moment to do so arrives, according to the timetable established for the talks. For now, those topics aren’t on the table.”

But the FARC negotiator did mention the current crisis caused by the peasant strikes in Catatumbo in the north of Colombia: “We are concerned by the way the government has handled the protests, because it openly contradicts the message about laying down our weapons in order to defend our ideas in the public space. But when the peasants protest, they are stigmatized and repressed.”

via FARC, Meet The IRA: Colombian Rebels Get Advice On Peace From Ex Guerrillas – All News Is Global |.

Israel to escalate ethnic cleansing


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Bedouin protest in Rahat against the Prawer Plan.PHOTO: SHIRAZ GRINBAUM / Activestills.org

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) has approved the first reading of the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. More commonly known as the Prawer-Begin Plan, the bill allows for mass forced expulsions of the Palestinian Bedouin community from the Naqab (the Arabic name for the Negev desert).

According to the Israeli human rights group Adalah, if the plan is fully implemented it “will result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 [Palestinian] Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel and the destruction of 35 ‘unrecognised’ villages”.

Approximately half of the Palestinian Bedouin population – around 90,000 people – live in 46 towns and villages located on just 5 percent of the land in the Naqab region. Israel currently recognises only 11 of these villages, despite the fact that they have existed since prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Palestinian Bedouin living in these villages are treated as “trespassers on State land” and are denied access to infrastructure including water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. These services are deliberately withheld by the Zionist state as part of a war of attrition that seeks to “encourage” Palestinian Bedouin to leave their land. As a result, the Palestinian Bedouin community is one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged within Israel. According to Adalah, 67 percent of Palestinian Bedouin were classified as “poor” in 2009.

The original Plan was conceived by Ehud Prawer, the former Deputy Chair of Israel’s National Security Council, in 2011 – without any consultation with the Palestinian Bedouin community. In January, amendments to the bill were made by Benny Begin, the son of former Israeli PM Menachem Begin who had been a leader of the Zionist terror militia known as the Etzel (Irgun).

Begin’s amendments resulted in the removal of some of the more offensive language from the bill, which deemed Bedouins “squatters” on their own land, as well as legitimising the use of “reasonable force” to evict them. Both the original plan and the amended bill have been rejected by the Palestinian Bedouin community.

The Prawer-Begin bill will result in the largest single act of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel since the first decade following the creation of the Israeli state.

In 1948, Zionist terror militias carried out attacks on the Palestinian Bedouin living in the Naqab. Then the newly created Israeli military launched a full scale ethnic cleansing operation to expel Palestinian Bedouin from the region for “military reasons”.

Over the next two years between 70,000 and 90,000 Palestinian Bedouin were expelled from the region. This systematic ethnic cleansing would continue throughout the 1950s.

While the vast majority were pushed outside the boundaries of the Zionist state, approximately 10 percent would remain. They were evicted to the Siyag (meaning “fence” in Arabic) in the northern Naqab, where they were forced to live under military rule until 1966.

However, since the 1950s the Palestinian Bedouin have continually sought to return to their traditional lands. Israel has prevented their return both militarily and also by planting trees via the Jewish National Fund. While the JNF claims that it is rehabilitating the land, the main purpose of the tree planting is to ensure control of the land.

Haneen Zoabi, one of the 12 Palestinian Arab members of the Knesset, told the Jerusalem Post on 28 May that “This is not how a normal state or even a dictatorship treats its citizens because it is very obvious that the aim of this plan is to expel the Palestinian citizens from their land and develop the land for the Jewish population.”

“We didn’t immigrate to Israel, it was Israel that immigrated to us,” she added.

Since the Prawer Plan was first announced, Israel has demolished more than 1,000 Palestinian Bedouin homes in the Naqab, while at the same time announcing plans to plant forests, build military centres and establish new Jewish settlements in the place of Palestinian Bedouin villages that will be ethnically cleansed

via Socialist Alternative – Israel to escalate ethnic cleansing.

How Europe’s Solution for Economic Crisis is Actually the Problem


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Europe‘s current crisis is more than economic. Between the German government advocating a dangerous austerity policy and European authorities lacking any other suggestions, it is clear that the 2008 financial crisis is no longer solely responsible for the downward spiral of Europe.

The GDP for countries in Europe has fallen by a considerable amount: 5.3% for Greece3.9% for Portugal4.1% for Cyprus2.3% for Italy, and 2% for Spain. This is without even mentioning the recession into which France is entering. In the first quarter of this year, the European Union economy contracted by 0.7%, or one percent when only taking into consideration the eurozone.

If it was only the 2008 economic crisis that was responsible for all this, Europe would not be one of the only one to suffer so much. For example, the United States, the birthplace of this crisis, registered a 1.9% increase in their economy in 2013 [fr] while their unemployment rate was at its lowest in four years.

Europe, which for a long time has aimed to maintain growth that compares favorably with  United States, now finds itself completely lost among incoherent policies and disputes between countries[fr].

One of the main reasons for this current instability in Europe is the evident failure of the European policy authorities when their proposals seem more than enigmatic. Restricting interchange fees as proposed by Michel Barnier, the European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, is a perfect example of the Commission taking measures that will not have any concrete impact.

Capping interchange fees, bank charges paid by retailers when they make a card payment, would not only increase personal bank charges [fr], as the banks would want to recuperate the money lost by this cap, but the retailers profit margin will also increase, as they rarely lower their prices just because their costs have decreased.

The other significant issue which has notably accelerated the decline of Europe is the restricted austerity policy which the majority of EU countries have undertaken. It would be more logical for Europe to take inspiration from the countries that have pulled through, i.e. the United States, in order to stimulate the market rather than only focusing on reducing the deficit.

Le taux de chômage des jeunes en Europe de 2005-13 via Les crises, domaine public

Youth unemployment rate in Europe between 2005-2013 via Les Crises – public domain

The most frustrating aspect about this issue is that the majority of the European leaders agree on this point, but no one dares to confront the life-long defenders of austerity, also know as « Sparkurs » [de] in Germany and its strict chancellor, Angela Merkel [fr]. But there are also critics of austerity on the German side. Last week, Gilles Moëc, head economist at Deutsche Bank, admitted to the news outlet Agence France-Presse that “there were some errors” [fr] in the selected strategy.

However, it’s not as if the Merkel method was fully tried and tested, in fact, it was far from it. Portugal, for example, had never been in such a terrible state until it was subjected to the European austerity policy. In two years, its unemployment rate increased by 5.3%, its budget deficit by 1.1%. As for its public debt, it’s now 123% higher than its GDP.

Julio Salazar Moreno, Secretary-General of Spanish worker’s trade union, USO, believes that the countries within the European Union need to stop with the austerity policy [pt], according to online newspaper Público:

Os países da União Europeia (UE) têm de parar “de uma vez por todas” com a aplicação de medidas recessivas, porque os cidadãos, alerta, estão a viver no limite dos sacrifícios

The countries within the European Union (EU) must refrain from enforcing austerity policies “once and for all” because the alert citizens are living at the very limits of their possible sacrifices.

The sledgehammer approach is just as inefficient for Greece, claims Gregor Gyzi, a president from a left-wing parliamentary group in Germany, Bundestag, by addressing the Greek readers [el] of news247:

οι επιβληθείσες, κυρίως από την γερμανική κυβέρνηση, περικοπές σε μισθούς και συντάξεις, οι απολύσεις και οι ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, όχι μόνο ώθησαν την Ελλάδα σε βαθιά ύφεση και κοινωνικά προβλήματα, αλλά κατέστησαν και αδύνατη την επιστροφή των δανείων στο εγγύς μέλλον

Imposed primarily by the German government, salary and retirement cuts, redundancies and privatisations, are not only going to push Greece into a major recession and cause social problems, but its also going to make loan repayments equally impossible.

Emigration figures for Europe are also far from surprising. In two years, 2.5% of the Portuguese population left the country. Who would have said ten years ago that today many Europeans would leave the continent to work in countries like Angola or Brazil?

Facing this alarming development, it is even more depressing to hear the responses of others, like that of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, also the former minister of the Eurogroup, who recently gave his thoughts on the European crisis [fr] and concluded that what Europe needs is some “TLC”: a statement which speaks for itself.

Creative Commons License

Written by Laurent Delors · Translated by Hayley Warden

Bradley Manning Wins Peace Prize


U.S. whistleblower and international hero Bradley Manning has just been awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Bureau, itself a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning is a nominee this year.

A petition supporting Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize has gathered 88,000 signatures, many of them with comments, and is aiming for 100,000 before delivering it to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.  Anyone can sign and add their comments at ManningNobel.org

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) represents 320 organizations in 70 countries.  It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.  Over the years, 13 of IPB’s officers have been Nobel Peace laureates. See ipb.org

The Sean MacBride prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau, founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) – 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights.

The medal is made of “peace bronze,” a material created out of disarmed and recycled nuclear weapons systems, by fromwartopeace.com The prize will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at: PDF.

IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson said, “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the U.S. military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies – especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the U.S. claims to uphold.”

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire recently wrote: “I have chosen to nominate U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.”

Maguire explains how far-reaching Manning’s impact has been: “While there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred. In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning’s whistleblowing — the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments’ control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.

“. . . If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how U.S. forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq . . . Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict.”

Won’t you add your name to the petition now?

Mairead Maguire adds: “Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and ‘aiding the enemy’. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy — rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries.”

via Bradley Manning Wins Peace Prize.

Is Terrorism the New Boogeyman?


Below is the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of two words. Please keep in mind their meaning when reading the article. There is a relationship between the two words:

Boogeyman: a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children

Terrorism: Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. This word also rhymes with absurdism.

The boogeyman is the fictitious monster that haunts kids particularly when they are going to bed. In my case, he hid underneath my bed ready to grab my ankles and pull me under. To avoid him, I leapt into bed to avoid his reach. To avoid seeing him in case he came out, I covered my eyes with the blanket. I think my feelings and childhood fears of this imaginary creature are common.

Use of a boogeyman in the case of children could be to persuade them to go to bed early or eat their vegetables. “If you don’t do this, the boogeyman might get you”! None of as children wanted that, so we did as we were told. A boogeyman is also useful in the case of adults. In the past 75 years adults in the United States have been under the influence of three or more scary boogeymen. The media outlets and the US government kindly supply us with ever-scarier boogeymen. Whether intended or not, the use of a boogeyman works well in persuading and obtaining compliance (getting adults to do something).

The boogeyman 75 years ago was scary. However, he lived less than ten years, and we eliminated him. The boogeyman I refer to was one for my parents and grandparents: he was called the Nazis and he lived in Germany. He was a threat to the freedom and constitutional rights of Americans. He invaded countries and killed our friends (read allies). For some years my parents actually feared being bombed or invaded by that boogeyman. Note they lived in the Midwest and not the East coast. Had they thought it through, they too would have realized that was not possible due to logistical limitations then present in military aircraft (today they can refuel midair). Today it seems rather absurd that people could believe such a thing back then, but it was real to them.

Nonetheless, the government fanned the flames of fear (maybe use of terrorism) ,and almost all people believed what they were told by media and government back then. The citizenry, young and old alike, complied with government requests and did what they could do to help eliminate the threat. That boogeyman disappeared through a war that ended in 1945.

Only a few years passed before a new, more global, boogeyman emerged. He was the communists and the threat of communism. If we did not stop this boogeyman, he too, might take our liberty and freedom like the one before. We stared to fear this boogeyman shortly after World War II and into the 1980s. The communists were good boogeyman for decades, and represented the opposite of what we stand for. We were told they have no liberty or freedom, and this boogeyman does not want people of the world to have such inalienable rights like that.

Who would doubt this and not want to comply with government support in the elimination of this boogeyman? We largely complied, trillions of dollars were spent, and thousands of people were killed. We fought wars to ward off this boogeyman (Korea Vietnam, and other armed conflicts of smaller duration). We even helped some friends (read allies) fend off this boogeyman-Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, to name some examples.

The government softened its stand (ended the terrorism) on this boogeyman, and people don’t perceive it a threat any more. This might be due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the despair we are told of in Cuba, and widespread trading with China and Vietnam In fact, it does not seem to matter that China is a communist country, we can travel there, trade with them, but for some reason, Cuba is off limits.

The boogeyman of the modern era is terrorism. He came out in the late 1990’s and made his real debut on September 11, 2001. He is more nebulous than the former boogeymen, as he does not have a permanent address or place where we can easily find him like the Nazis or the communists. However, being so nimble and fast moving, he can be under your bed, like the boogeyman of childhood. He can be down the street and could be your neighbor. This new monster serves better than those of the past to incite fear and compliance. Lacking an address, we are inspired to chase him down in many places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and down the street from your house. He might even be in your home or office now. We even look for him at the airport every day.

The modern boogeyman has more places to hide, and a better strategy than his predecessors. This new boogeyman might even be friends of our friends (allies, or friends), as President George Bush warned us in his address on September 20, 2001 to a Joint Session of Congress

We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. – Bush, George W. (September 20, 2001). “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People”. The White House. Retrieved 2008-09-19.

Our government finds the current boogeyman scarier than his predecessors, as we have parked our constitution to pursue him. We have spent much money to catch him, and many are currently willing to be spied on to avoid him. As former President Bush said to congress, if you keep company with the boogeyman, we consider you an enemy. Obviously we are very serious about this newer boogeyman, and even willing to give up some things we fought boogeymen in the past for. That being our freedom and parts of the constitution (read Patriot Act).

Let us return to the definition of terrorism: It is systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Where did the latest boogeyman come from? Who is creating the fear and the real terrorist? Who wants to bring about a political objective?

Our prior two boogeymen were created by non-United States entities: German and Russian political movements. Maybe the current boogeyman was created because of our past and current follies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc. Is it really a boogeyman, or are the good folks that promote him (read terrorists) making him larger than he need be.

Maybe stopping our forays into other parts of the world will eliminate the current boogeyman. However, those wanting to make terror will not have an excuse to bring about a political objective and need this boogeyman. You decide- who are the real terrorists, and who wants political change? Who is who in this game? Is this not all absurdism?

via Is Terrorism the New Boogeyman? – OpenGov.US.

Fallout from NSA surveillance program disclosures spreads


The fallout from the recent disclosures of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs continues to spread.

Martin Rowson 10.06.2013

On Monday, the European Parliament Civil Liberties Commission voted overwhelmingly to investigate the privacy and civil rights implications of the NSA’s PRISM and other spy programs on European citizens, and demanded more information on the programs from U.S. authorities.

In a resolution, the Parliament called on member nations to also consider suspending any counter-terrorism related data transfer arrangements — such as airline passenger records — they might have with the U.S. until better protections become available for the data.

EPIC asks Supreme Court to stop NSA surveillance

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Washington-based rights group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the legal basis that the NSA is using to collect the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

EPIC’s petition asked the Supreme Court to immediately halt the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities saying the agency has no reasonable basis for conducting such surveillance.

The developments are the latest in a string of events that began when NSA contract worker Edward Snowden leaked documents describing secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. The documents describe various NSA data collection around the world, and have caused widespread concern about dragnet NSA surveillance activities not just within the United States but outside the country as well.

The EU resolution, which was passed by a margin of 483 votes to 98 (with 65 abstentions), is one measure of the concern stoked by Snowden’s revelations. It strongly condemned the NSA’s alleged activities and urged U.S. authorities to provide the EU with full information on the secret surveillance disclosed by Snowden.

“Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an ‘in-depth inquiry’ into the US surveillance programs, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year,” a statement from the Parliament noted. “It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on EU citizens’ right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy.”

The Snowden affair has strained Washington’s relationships with other countries as well. Over the weekend, Brazil for instance, expressed “deep concern” over a report in The Guardian newspaper about U.S. intelligence agencies tapping electronic and phone communications of Brazilian citizens.

In a press statement, the country’s Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota, said Brazil’s government has sought clarifications from Washington on the nature of the NSA surveillance activities in that country.

Several other Latin American countries have also expressed displeasure at Washington after a recent incident in which the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced into making an unscheduled stop in Austria on the suspicion that Snowden was on board.

U.S. relations with Russia and China too have taken a hit over the Snowden affair. The U.S. government has accused both countries of not doing enough to extradite Snowden when they have had the ability to do it. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has flatly said his country will not deport Snowden back to the United States.

Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he is evading U.S. authorities. He flew into Moscow from Hong Kong more than two weeks ago.

via Fallout from NSA surveillance program disclosures spreads – ComputerworldUK.com.

Zachary Gelevinger Kidnapped By PSNI –


This is being kept out of the media, both in Ireland and the USA: From the organization “HARK.” Zachary Gelevinger is a young man from Wisconsin who arrived in Belfast Wednesday to enjoy a long-timed planned first trip to Ireland, the home of his Grandmother and a lifetime dream that has turned into a nightmare. Zachary had been corresponding with Political Prisoner Christine Connor and as a gesture of kindness, had organised a visit with Christine on her birthday, arranged by Christine’s mother. This act of good will was forever tarnished when the visit was cut short and Zachary was taken out of the visit by the PSNI in handcuffs under suspicion of “Dissident Activity.” Please note again that Zachary had not stepped foot in Ireland until Wednesday. The American Embassy was not contacted as is proper procedure and in fact when outside sources contacted the US Stated Department at the Embassy, their calls to speak with Zachary weren’t allowed through…again violating International Law. Zachary suffers from epilepsy and may not have access to his medicines. His case has been picked up by the law practice of Madden and Finucane and just this morning the police were granted an additional 72 hours to hold Zachary for questioning by a Belfast Judge. What we have here is the arrogance of the PSNI at it’s most disgraceful. Citizens in the North of Ireland have lived with constant violations of human rights by the police for longer than anyone can remember, but now visitors to the North can be arrested and held for dissident activity, even if they have never set foot in Ireland before? By arresting a foreign citizen visiting Ireland on holiday, the PSNI have shown that as we’ve seen in the recent actions in the April appeal of Brendan McConville and John Paul Woottton, that they are answerable to no one, that they feel that they are above the law. In this new atrocity, in ignoring the US State Department and not following proper International procedure, they are showing that the feel they are even above International law. I beg you, do not remain silent in this case. Zachary Gelevinger came to Belfast to visit the land of his birth and sets in chains because he chose to reach out to a Political Prisoner on her birthday. A lot of words have been tossed around lately about this horror. Outrage. Unjust. Evil. There are no words to describe what this man in his early 20’s is going through and absolutely no description to describe the arrogance and vanity of the PSNI in arresting a visiting citizen from America. If a citizen from another country has no rights in the North of Ireland, how does NI ever expect to become anything but isolated and alone? We suffer enough in the fight to bring awareness of our own continuing human rights violations and governmental challenges to the rest of the world. We can not allow the same to start happening to visitors and tourists. You might as well lock the borders and toss away the key. Please share Zachary’s story everywhere you can. Caroline Ceallaigh via Zachary Gelevinger Kidnapped By PSNI – Indymedia Ireland.

Merkel highlights failings in Irish data protection ahead of EU action


“We have great data protection laws in Germany but if Facebook is based in Ireland, then Irish law applies”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday the ongoing Snowden controversy made clear that EU members should force US companies to explain what happens to user data when it leaves European computer servers

The Government faces pressure from Germany this week to improve oversight of how Irish-based companies like Google and Facebook process data they collect on European users.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday the ongoing Snowden controversy made clear that EU members should force US companies to explain what happens to user data when it leaves European computer servers. She has ordered her interior and justice ministers to adopt a “strict position” on data protection in Brussels talks on Thursday and Friday of this week and to end a stand-off over new common EU data protection rules.

“We have great data protection laws in Germany but if Facebook is based in Ireland, then Irish law applies,” said Dr Merkel on public television last night. “We wish that companies make clear to us in Europe to whom they give their data. This will have to be part of a [European] data protection directive.”

This turns the spotlight on the Portlaoise-based Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) which has front-line responsibility for policing whether companies based in Ireland adhere to EU data protection rules.

In recent years the DPC has been flooded with complaints from citizens around Europe that Facebook and other technology companies are collating information in violation of EU law.

via Merkel highlights failings in Irish data protection ahead of EU action – European News | Latest News from Across Europe | The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 15, 2013.

Power brokers exposed


Maybe Americans still cling to their fantasies about their country, the land of the free and that political leaders care about us.

What Pvt. Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the rest have done has alerted us to the fact that our corporate-controlled media outlets have stopped reporting the truth.

Charging that Manning endangered people’s lives is a lie, and it’s central to government’s censorship platform. Documents reveal three significant things: The United States was committing war crimes systematically; the U.S. government was lying in relations with other nations; and the U.S. was spying on diplomats at the United Nations and threatening governments on behalf of corporate clients, e.g. Hillary Clinton trying to force France to accept Monsanto’s genetically modified food or face retaliation.

Washington was outraged at the disclosure, not at the crimes depicted; outraged at the man who had the integrity and the patriotism to risk everything in order to alert his country about what was being done in its name.

Condemning through the media is an old tactic. Richard Nixon tried condemning Daniel Ellsberg over the Pentagon Papers regarding Vietnam. Don’t let it work. Stand up, be heard, that’s the American way.

Corruption cannot live in transparency, federally or locally.

via Power brokers exposed – Spokesman.com – July 7, 2013.

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