February TaxCast

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

The February TaxCast is out. Once again, I encourage readers to tune in to this excellent program produced by the Tax Justice Network. Hosted  by Naomi Fowler, each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show will feature discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

In this month’s show TaxCast asks: Are City of London Police really serious about prosecuting financial crimes? Are bankers paying fair taxes on their bonuses? And how Facebook is saving billions in tax via Ireland and Bermuda.

Of Love and Revolutions: A Lesson Un-Planned

February 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

by Huma Dar

From my desk.  photo credit: Huma Dar, 2007

Alif. Meem. Noon. From my desk. photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008

I am reminded of, yet once again,
if I ever forgot,
occupied with, all over again,
a crazy, intense
conversation with my students,
some weeks ago.
As Ibn ‘Arabi’s Moses,
we heard out of Time:
“take off thy shoes” (20:12).
Spurred by our reading
of Tayeb Salih’s tumultuous Season
of Migration to the North,
“a moment of ecstasy is worth the whole of life,”
Frantz Fanon’s Black tender Skin,
and the Whiteness
of colonial Masks that pierce us,
Occupy Oakland,
whirling with, in, and around us,
and the imprisonment
of four-hundred at San Quentin
— that notorious jail
sprung straight
from Hollywood’s dungeons.


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Journalists and activists killed in Homs shelling

February 23, 2012 § 7 Comments

Two foreign journalists have been killed in Homs, activists say, as shelling of a district of the Syrian city continued amid warnings of an escalating humanitarian crisis.

Omar Shakir, an activist in the city, told Al Jazeera that the deaths of Marie Colvin, a US reporter working for the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, and French photographer Remi Ochlik occurred as a building used by activists as a media centre was shelled on Wednesday.

In Memory of Mahmoud Darwish

February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

by Manash Bhattacharjee 

Mahmoud Darwish, portrait by Palestinian artist, Ismail Shammout (1971).

Mahmoud Darwish, portrait by Palestinian artist, Ismail Shammout (1971).

I learnt from your poems how
To wait upon death
And how waiting is a game as
Treacherous as death.
 
I learnt from you how the root
Of waiting is grasped in despair
And that there is no despair
More deceitful than hope.
 
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2013 Budget: “Difficult Cuts” for Americans, Gravy for Israel

February 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

by Josh Ruebner

Speaking before students at Northern Virginia Community College on February 13, President Obama unveiled his 2013 budget request, in which he proposed “some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren’t absolutely necessary.  But they are.”  These budget cuts are unavoidable, the President argued, because “the truth is we’re going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path.” In a sad commentary on the misplaced priorities of the Obama Administration, however, these “tough choices” will affect the delivery of basic services to U.S. citizens while the Israeli military hits the jackpot at taxpayer expense.

As part of its budget request, the White House released a 205-page document detailing the cuts, consolidations, and savings the Obama Administration is proposing.  These proposed cuts include $5 million to the USDA to analyze food-borne pathogens, potentially making the U.S. food supply even less safe than it already is after 30 people died last year after eatinglisteria-infected cantaloupe; a $359 million cut to the EPA to provide grants to states for water infrastructure projects when an estimated 1.7 million Americans shockingly lack access to basic water and sanitation services according to the Water Infrastructure Network; and a whopping $360 billion cut over ten years in Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs even though the World Health Organization rates the U.S. health system as only 37th globally in health care performance.

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Police Chief Timoney, Meet Bahraini Mothers

February 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

by Medea Benjamin

14-year-old Ali Jawad died when a tear gas canister fired at close range smashed his face.

John Timoney is the controversial former Miami police chief well known for orchestrating brutal crackdowns on protests in Miami and Philadelphia- instances with rampant police abuse, violence, and blatant disregard for freedom of expression. It should be of great concern that the Kingdom of Bahrain has brought Timoney and John Yates, former assistant commissioner of Britain’s Metropolitan Police, to “reform” Bahrain’s security forces.

Since assuming his new position, Timoney has claimed that Bahrain has been reforming it brutal police tactics in response to recommendations issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. He says that there is less tear gas being used and that while tear gas might be “distasteful,” it’s not really harmful.

I have no idea what country Chief Timoney is talking about, because it’s certainly not the Bahrain I saw this past week, a week that marked the one-year anniversary since the February 14, 2011 uprising.

I was in Bahrain for five days before being deported for joining a peaceful women’s march. During my stay, I accompanied local human rights activists to the villages where protests were raging and police cracking down. Every day, I inhaled a potent dose of tear gas, and came close to being hit in the head with tear gas canisters. Every evening I saw the fireworks and smelled the noxious fumes as hundreds of tear gas canisters were lobbed into the village of Bani Jamrah, next door to where I was staying. The villagers would get on their roofs yelling “Down, Down Hamad” (referring to the King). In exchange, as a form of collective punishment, the whole village would be doused in tear gas. I went to bed coughing, eyes burning, wondering how in the world the Bahrainis can stand this.

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NHS reform: Private health industry lobbying

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The government’s proposals to radically reform the NHS are being strongly opposed by doctors, nurses, unions and a majority of the public. Who then is behind them, pushing for these reforms? This short film by SpinWatch takes you on a tour of the offices of just some of the private healthcare companies, lobbying agencies and think tanks surrounding Parliament, all of which are circling the NHS, wanting a much bigger slice of its £100billion budget.

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