Haiti: After the Quake

It is documentaries like this that set Al Jazeera apart from other major news networks. Sebastian Walker examines why a system that was designed to help actually ended up exacerbating Haiti’s misery.

Continue reading “Haiti: After the Quake”

Showdown in Peru: Indigenous communities kick out Canadian mining company

(Photo: Shantala Robinson)

by Benjamin Dangl

This article appeared at The Dominion.

Earlier this spring, an anti-mining Indigenous movement in Peru successfully ousted a Canadian mining company from their territory. “In spite of government repression, if the people decide to bring the fight to the bitter end, it is possible to resist the pressure of mining and oil companies,” Peruvian activist and journalist Yasser Gómez told The Dominion.

The David and Goliath scenario of this anti-mining uprising highlights the vast economic inequality that has beset Peru. The country’s economy has been booming for the past decade, with a seven per cent growth expected this year—one of the highest growth rates internationally. Sixty-five per cent of the country’s export income comes from the mining industry, and investors are expected to spend over $40 billion in the next 10 years on mining operations.

Yet this growth has not benefited a large percentage of the population. The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 per cent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. Today, there are over 200 communities organized against mining across Peru.

Continue reading “Showdown in Peru: Indigenous communities kick out Canadian mining company”

An Élite Not Unlike Ours! Who’d Have Guessed?!

By Huma Dar

Rakhshanda Jalil writes in The Hindu, 27 February 2011, about “that elusive connect with India when she was least expecting it” on a visit to Karachi, Pakistan.  The title of her piece is “A city not unlike home.”

I am always amused when Indians are surprised and taken aback by Pakistanis (whether in Karachi or Lahore or elsewhere) who “speak Urdu and English with almost equal aplomb” or by their “silk sarees and natty blazers” or by their possible cosmopolitanism!!! (Class is class, unfortunately, and the élite exhibit their privileges in similar ways all over the region!)  Does it not, if just remotely, smack of the loaded “praise”: “Gee! Obama is so articulate!” — also known as “the racism of lowered expectation”?  Why would Indians expect otherwise from their class-affiliates on the other side of the border?  Or is it that Bollywood’s Pakistan-bashing fantasies are actually swallowed uncritically — hook, line, and sinker —  even (or perhaps especially) by the educated Indians, eliciting “fears about Kalashnikov-toting Taliban and marauding Muhajirs.”

And by the way, Pakistanis are not all “tall, well-built, good-looking people,” especially under the normative definition of “good-looking” in South Asia (fair-skinned or with a “wheatish complexion”) — thank god for the latter!  Sadly, the former two ascriptions, of course, too easily go awry given malnutrition due to poverty. Continue reading “An Élite Not Unlike Ours! Who’d Have Guessed?!”

Global food (in)justice

With more than one billion people around the world considered overweight, why are so many others still starving and struggling to fill their plates? And what can be done to make the global food system more equitable?

Riz Khan interviews the brilliant Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy.

Mozambique’s Food Riots – the True Face of Global Warming

Thirteen people were killed and hundreds wounded last week in Mozambique when police cracked down on a three-day protest over a 30 percent hike in the price of bread. The UN says the riots in Mozambique should be a wake-up call for governments that have ignored food security problems since the global food crisis of 2008, when countries around the world saw angry protests in the streets over the rising prices of basic food items. In this extremely informative interview on Democracy Now!, Raj Patel connects the dots between climate change, financial speculation, land grabs across Africa, food sovereignity and global hunger.

Also check out Johann Hari’s recent article on the “speculation-starvation-bubble” behind the 2008 global ‘food crisis’, below the fold.

Continue reading “Mozambique’s Food Riots – the True Face of Global Warming”

A Class War by Any Other Name

IDF Economics: Keynote Speaker Chief of the IDF General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi addressing the audience at the Friends of the IDF 2010 National NY Gala Dinner, where 20 million dollars was raised

About a month ago I wrote an article about a bill proposition to heavily fine initiators and encouragers of a boycott directed at the state of Israel. On Wednesday, I joined a “Non Violence Short Course”. Today a friend posted an article on my Facebook wall [translation of important parts below] about the inflated “security budget”. I’m an activist in Israel, so naturally the boycott, nonviolence and the IDF budget all fall within my interest span. But this morning, as I read this very not-new news article about wining and dining generals, the assumptions tickling at last month’s article were driven home like a punch in the gut: Class war.

Continue reading “A Class War by Any Other Name”

Let them have F-16s II

Pakistan has been battling a growing problem of drug addiction in the country. Most users rely on local NGOs for treatment and rehabilitation, but these are often weighed down by a lack of funds. Now, a leading charity has shut down after a dispute with the government cut off vital support for thousands of people. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports.

In related news, President Zardari told reporters the newly acquired F-16s from the US will not upset the regional balance of power.

Let them have F-16s

A poverty-stricken Pakistani woman and her child wait in an impoverished locality of Khori Garden for free distribution of food items at the same place where earlier a stampede killed 20 women and children queuing for food handouts in an impoverished district of financial capital Karachi. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

On June 16, in Lahore, a rickshaw driver, his wife, and three children took poison, driven to despair by extreme poverty. Only the wife survived. On June 17, another young man committed suicide pushed over the edge by poverty and unemployment. On June 18, the Pakistani information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira advised people who are killing their children because of dire poverty to instead hand them over to the Baitul Mal (the Islamic treasury which serves as a social support system). Today in Raheem Yar Khan, a woman in her early thirties jumped in front of an approaching train along with her three children, ages 2 to 7. All died on the spot…

In related news, Pakistan received a shipment of the first three of its order of 18 new F-16 fighter jets from the United States. It has also received over $10 billion in military aid since 2002. It’s to keep Pakistanis safe, you see.

The world cup of economic and military warfare

By Kathy Kelly and Joshua Brollier

Bike Shop near Charikar, Afghanistan

June 2, 2010, Islamabad — “Our situation is like a football match. The superpower countries are the players, and we are just the ball to be kicked around.” This sentiment, expressed by a young man from North Waziristan, has been echoed throughout many of our conversations with ordinary people here in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Most are baffled that the United States, with the largest and most modern military in the world, can’t put a stop to a few thousand militants hiding out in the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Just about everyone we have spoken with, Pashtuns included, has little to no sympathy for the Taliban or their tactics. Many people have lost limbs, homes and loved ones to the brutal assaults of suicide bombers or the indiscriminate violence of IEDs. Yet, people expressed frustrated confusion over uncertainties regarding U.S. government goals in relation to the Taliban. Some believe that the United States might be working with the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Services) or at least not working against them, to enable continued Taliban resistance. If there is no resistance, according to this view, a military presence in the region cannot be justified. Nor can a so-called humanitarian presence further flood the Pakistani and Afghan economies with millions of dollars in aid that most often lines the pockets of the politicians, elite bureaucrats, and United States corporations involved in construction and security.

Continue reading “The world cup of economic and military warfare”