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By Linda Milazzo
Los Angeles gets a bad rap. It's assailed for being shallow and rarely acknowledged for its good heart. But Los Angeles has a huge heart - at the center of which is pulsating non-stop activism dedicated to ensuring all people are granted human rights. Just name any of the 30 human rights designated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I guarantee you there are groups and individuals in Los Angeles who are working to enforce them - locally, nationally and globally.
The U.S. (and Britain) began bombing the Afghan capital of Kabul on October 7, 2001 with Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and submarines and bombs dropped from warplanes and shortly thereafter American special forces began ground operations, a task that has been conducted since by regular Army and Marine units. The bombing and the ground combat operations continue more than eight years later and both will be intensified to record levels in short order.
The combined U.S. and NATO forces would represent a staggering number, in excess of 150,000 soldiers. By way of comparison, as of September of this year there were approximately 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and only a small handful of other nations' personnel, those assigned to the NATO Training Mission - Iraq, remaining with them.
"Secretary Gates has made clear that the conflicts we're in should be at the very forefront of our agenda. He wants to make sure we're not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing....For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business."
Over the past ten years citizens of the United States and other Western nations, and unfortunately most of the world, have become accustomed to Washington and its military allies in Europe and those appointed as armed outposts on the periphery of the "Euro-Atlantic community" engaging in armed aggression around the world.
Wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and lower profile military operations and surrogate campaigns in nations as diverse as Colombia, Yemen, the Philippines, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Ossetia and elsewhere have become an unquestioned prerogative of the U.S. and its NATO partners. So much so that many have forgotten to consider how comparable actions have been or might be viewed if a non-Western nation attempted them.
AFRICOM Year Two: Taking The Helm Of The Entire World
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site
"The developments come as the White House seeks grounds to establish a major military presence in Africa....[A]nalysts caution that similar pretexts were used to justify the US invasion of Afghanistan, the missile attacks in Pakistan, and its waning military operations in Iraq, where the civilian population continues to bear the brunt of the US intervention."
"AFRICOM facilitates the United States advancing on the African continent, taking control of the Eurasian continent and proceeding to take the helm of the entire globe."
October 1st marked the one-year anniversary of the activation of the first U.S. overseas military command in a quarter of a century, Africa Command (AFRICOM).
AFRICOM was established as a temporary command under the wing of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) a year earlier and launched as an independent entity on October 1, 2008.
Its creation signalled several important milestones in plans by the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to expand into all corners of the earth and to achieve military, political and economic hegemony in the Southern as well as the Northern Hemisphere.
If, as Alice Walker reminds us in her new book, “hard times require furious dancing”, David Alan Harris knows the hard times and the furious dancing. For the young men and boys he encountered in Sierra Leone, he provided warmth and the container for fury, through a process called Dance/Movement Therapy.
Harris will share stories of the boys he worked with in a keynote address as a part of the University of Maryland’s Semester on Peace:
Atrocities, Resilience, and Healing:
Peace-Building Lessons from African Child Soldiers
Wednesday October 14, 2009
Stamp Student Union, Colony Ballroom
University of Maryland, College Park
Join him as he inspires us all to dance with each other, and join us afterwards at the UMUC Marriott Inn and Conference Center to put all of our energy to music, in a celebration of resilience and healing!
Oldest human skeleton offers new clues to evolution By By Azadeh Ansari | CNN
The oldest-known hominid skeleton was a 4-foot-tall female who walked upright more than 4 million years ago and offers new clues to how humans may have evolved, scientists say.
Scientists believe that the fossilized remains, which were discovered in 1994 in Ethiopia and studied for years by an international team of researchers, support beliefs that humans and chimpanzees evolved separately from a common ancestor.
"This is not an ordinary fossil. It's not a chimp. It's not a human. It shows us what we used to be," said project co-director Tim White, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed "Ardi," is a hominid species that lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Aramis, Ethiopia. That makes Ardi more than a million years older than the celebrated Lucy, the partial ape-human skeleton found in Africa in 1974.
Ardi's 125-piece skeleton includes the skull, teeth, pelvis, hands and feet bones. Scientists say the data collected from Ardi's bone fragments over the past 17 years push back the story of human evolution further than previously believed.
"In fact, what Ardipithecus tells us is that we as humans have been evolving to what we are today for at least 6 million years," C. Owen Lovejoy, an evolutionary biologist at Kent State University and project anatomist, said Thursday.
Analysis of Ardi's skeleton reveals that she weighed about 110 pounds, had very long arms and fingers, and possessed an opposable big toe that would have helped her grasp branches while moving through trees. Read more.
U.S. Supreme Court to Review Human Rights Case Against Former Somali DEFENSE MINISTER
Somali Defense Minister Seeks to Evade Accountability for Atrocities;
Survivors Continue to Seek Their Day in Court
Washington, D.C., September 30, 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the first human rights case ever filed addressing human rights abuses committed in Somalia during the brutal Siad Barre regime. The key issue under review is whether the defendant in the case, Fairfax Virginia resident and former Somali General and Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Samantar, is immune from civil suit in the U.S. for human rights abuses committed in Somalia. No person has ever been held legally responsible for the abuses committed by the military government against the civilian population of Somalia in the 1980s.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.
An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.
Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?
But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.
DC Preps for Exotic Evening of Dance, Art and Music Benefiting the International Lifeline Fund Thurs. 9/24, RSVP Now!
The International Lifeline Fund is a non-profit humanitarian relief organization based in Washington, D.C. In the three short years since it became operational in 2006, this cutting edge organization that has found ways to dramatically reduce human misery and environmental destruction at remarkably low cost. In an effort to get the most bang out of every buck, Lifeline has been promoting cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining programs, which give vulnerable individuals the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of their societies.
Lifeline’s signature initiative involves the promotion of sustainable fuel technologies in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, which, in the past two decades, have lost approximately one-third of their forest cover. Literally half of this loss is attributable to cooking on an open fire – a method that is extremely hazardous to human health and that retards the living standards of women who must spend countless hours collecting wood. In an effort to address these and other problems associated with open fire cooking, Lifeline has provided some 50,000 fuel-efficient clay stoves to women who have been displaced by violence in Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Northern Uganda. At a cost of as little as $2 each, these stoves have profoundly improved the lives of scores of thousands and slowed the pace of deforestation by greatly reducing the amount of wood needed for cooking.
Shareholders urged NOT to protest genocide
By Catherine Danielson
Here's a story I doubt you will hear all about anywhere else...
American Funds is one of the largest families of investment funds ($700 billion), owned by Capital Group Companies, a huge group of investment management companies. There was a shareholder proposal made recently requesting the board to "institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egrigious violations of human rights."
I'm a shareholder in American Funds, so I received the proxy letter requiring me to vote on a number of proposals for the upcoming board meeting (on October 27th in LA). First, there was a list of very boring-sounding proposals about electing trustees, updating this, approving that, blah blah blah. The shareholder proposal request came LAST, and it was #8. What came FIRST was this:
AFRICOM: Pentagon's First Direct Military Intervention In Africa
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO
The 2009 World Population Data Sheet published by the Washington, DC-based Population Reference Bureau states that the population of the African continent has surpassed one billion. Africans now account for over a seventh of the human race.
Africa's 53 nations are 28% of the 192 countries in the world.
The size and location of the continent along with its human and natural resources - oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, chromium, platinum, timber, cotton, food products - make it an increasingly important part of a world that is daily becoming more integrated and interdependent.
Namibia, in southwest Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a high rate of AIDS and many of its 2.1 million people living on less than $1 a day. But it may be leading the world in showing a way to end hunger and poverty.
The German magazine Der Spiegel has an article about the remarkable successes of a Basic Income Grant experiment in the village of Otjivero. I’ve been following the program since shortly after it began in January 2008, and I contributed money to help fund it. It’s scheduled to run through the end of this year, and the organizers hope it will become a model for the nation, the continent, and the world.
With its Record of Rape, Don’t Send the U.S. Military to the Congo to Give “Sensitivity” Training to the Congolese Military
With its Record of Rape, Don’t Send the U.S. Military to the Congo to Give “Sensitivity” Training to the Congolese Military!
By Ann Wright, US Army Reserves Colonel, Retired
On Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s August, 2009 trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), she announced $17 million in new funding in the U.S. Government’s contribution to international efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC.
200,000 Women and Girls Raped in the DRC Congo
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the coordinating agency for work on sexual violence in Congo, estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been the victims of sexual violence since 1998. In 2008, UNFPA recorded that nearly 16,000 women and girls had been raped in the Congo. 65 percent of the victims were children, mostly adolescent girls.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
When he travels abroad, Barack Obama is the consummate pitchman. He tells stories, he cracks jokes, he delivers mini-lectures with a light touch — all in the service of selling product. It's not an easy job. Imagine trying to sell GM cars after Ralph Nader's attack on its Corvair in the 1960s, or shilling for Nestlé after the infant formula boycott of the 1970s and 1980s. Obama's product — America — has taken a beating in the marketplace over the last eight years or so. The president has to do some serious rebranding.
Like any good ad-man, Obama does two things. He makes the audience feel good. But the people listening to him must also feel that something is missing in their lives, something that only Obama and his product can give them. If I get his product, the potential consumer thinks, perhaps I'll be as young, handsome, talented, and powerful as he is.
In his address over the weekend to the Ghanaian parliament, the president was careful to emphasize that "Africa's future is up to Africans." The United States is all about respecting self-determination. "America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation," he intoned. "The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny."
We're not telling you what to do, Obama insisted. But still, you have to get rid of your dictators, your corruption, and your bloody conflicts. And boy, do we have just the product for you!
Obama didn't "apologize for the CIA's role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966 to satisfy Cold War strategic interests," as Foreign Policy In Focus contributor Charles Abugre recommended in What Obama Should Say in Africa. "While he's at it," Abugre writes, "he should apologize for the role the CIA played in removing Patrice Lumumba from power in 1960 and the resulting mess that is today's Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Obama saw no need to apologize for past product defects. He's not peddling the ugly old empire that tortured people at the Guantánamo detention facility and the Abu Ghraib prison, meddled in elections past, and is embroiled in its own bloody and expensive conflicts. It's Empire 2.0.
Well, of course, he didn't say "empire." That's what rebranding is all about. Consider what the president had to say about one of the new services that Empire 2.0 offers: the Pentagon's new U.S. African Command (AFRICOM). "Our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa, and the world," Obama said.
Partnership sounds nice. But as FPIF contributor Gerald LeMelle argues in Revealing the Real Africa Policy, the administration's Africa agenda make "no reference to the recent FY 2010 budget that doubles the size of AFRICOM's funds. Nor does it mention the doubling of financial support for counterterrorism projects throughout the continent — including increasing funds for weapons, military training, and education at a time when U.S. foreign aid money is stagnating." Read more.
Because we must have principles.
A team of journalists investigating the global electronic waste business has unearthed a security problem too. In a Ghana market, they bought a computer hard drive containing sensitive documents belonging to U.S. government contractor Northrop Grumman.
The drive had belonged to a Fairfax, Virginia, employee who still works for the company and contained "hundreds and hundreds of documents about government contracts," said Peter Klein, an associate professor with the University of British Columbia, who led the investigation for the Public Broadcasting Service show Frontline. He would not disclose details of the documents, but he said that they were marked "competitive sensitive" and covered company contracts with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Transportation Security Agency.
The data was unencrypted, Klein said in an interview. The cost? US$40.
Northrop Grumman is not sure how the drive ended up in a Ghana market, but apparently the company had hired an outside vendor to dispose of the PC. "Based on the documents we were shown, we believe this hard drive may have been stolen after one of our asset-disposal vendors took possession of the unit," the Northrop Grumman said in a statement. "Despite sophisticated safeguards, no company can inoculate itself completely against crime." Read more.
AMID THE media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France's ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world's most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.
Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio's sprawling favelas.
Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development....
Dreyfus and Dreyer were on their way to Geneva to present the latest edition of the Small Arms Survey handbook, of which Dreyfus was a joint editor. It was to have been their latest step in their relentless fight against evil. Read more.
Five members of Congress were arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington Monday as they demonstrated against the situation in Darfur.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur in western Sudan in what the U.S. State Department has described as genocide.
More than 100 people were arrested during a series of demonstrations in Washington yesterday, including five members of Congress who were part of a group that gathered outside the Sudanese Embassy to condemn the expulsion of aid agencies from Darfur.
All told, police squared off with demonstrators at three unrelated protests that began in the morning and continued into the afternoon. Eight people were arrested outside the embassy, seven Greenpeace activists were arrested near the State Department, and 91 others were arrested during a demonstration by disability rights advocates outside the White House.
The activities followed a weekend of other protests connected to the meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Yesterday began with a show of civil disobedience that snarled rush-hour traffic as seven Greenpeace activists scaled a construction crane at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW, near the State Department, and unfurled a huge banner to call attention to global warming. The crane was on the site of a future institute for peace.
Sometimes, it seems as if all U.S. global geopolitics boils down to little more than a war for money within the Pentagon. In the best of times, each armed service still has to continually maintain and upgrade its various raisons d'être for the billions of dollars being poured into it; each has to fight -- something far more difficult in economic hard times -- to maintain or increase its share of the budgetary pie. The remarkable thing is that we are now in the worst of economic times and yet, for one more year, the Pentagon can still pretend that it just ain't so. After eight years in which the Bush administration broke the bank militarily, an already vastly bloated Pentagon budget will miraculously rise once more, even if by a relatively modest 4%, in the coming fiscal year. But don't for a second think that the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy aren't already scrambling for toeholds suitable for a more precarious future.
Our unchallenged imperial Navy rules the sea lanes of the planet. Its 11 aircraft carrier battle groups, those vast water-borne military bases, roam the oceans of the world without opposition. But there's a problem. Right now, as John Feffer, co-director of the invaluable website Foreign Policy In Focus and TomDispatch regular, points out below, the American war of note is on the ground in (and in the air over) the Af-Pak theater of operations, which leaves the Navy scrambling for meaning -- that is, future money.
By Johann Hari, San Francisco Bay View
Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the U.S. to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth.
A US ship, owned by a Pentagon contractor with ‘Top Security’ Clearance, was seized off the Somali coast. Reports say the US crew has retaken the ship. But the question remains: Why are the pirates attacking?
In a move sure to stoke a diplomatic frenzy, the United Arab Emirates, with U.S. interests, may be the first Arab state with a civilian nuclear-energy program.
U.S. President George W. Bush signed a treaty with the United Arab Emirates during his last week in office to give American companies the opportunity to enter into nuclear trade relations in the Emirates, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The United Arab Emirates would purchase nuclear fuel from approved contractors for the facility rather than rely on controversial autonomous uranium enrichment.
Washington sees the United Arab Emirates deal as a model of nuclear energy in the Gulf region and could put legislation before Congress as early as next week, the Journal reports.
The Darfur the West Isn’t Recognizing as It Moralizes About the Region
By Howard W. French | NYTimes | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
For many who survey an African landscape strewn with political wreckage, nowadays merely to raise the subject of European colonialism, which formally ended across most of the continent five decades ago, is to ring alarm bells of excuse making.
Clearly, the African disaster most in view today is Sudan, or more specifically the dirty war that has raged since 2003 in that country’s western region, Darfur.