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Saturday, April 25, 2009


In Black Money, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates this shadowy side of international business, shedding light on multinational companies that have routinely made secret payments -- often referred to as "black money" -- to win billions in business.

"The thing about black money is you can claim it's being used for all kinds of things," the British reporter David Leigh tells Bergman. "You get pots of black money that nobody sees, nobody has to account for, ... you can do anything you like with. Mostly what happens with black money is people steal it because they can."

Sri Lankan civilians trapped in 'no fire zone'

April 25, 2009 - As the Sri Lankan government confronts the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), between 15,000 and 50,000 civilians are estimated to be trapped in the conflict zone - a four square kilometre pocket of land in the northeast.

Some civilians are now in about 40 overcrowded camps after fleeing LTTE-held areas. Thousands more have fled to the frontline coastal village of Puttumattalan, which until earlier this week, was in the so-called "no fire zone".

Friday, April 24, 2009

UMNO peralat undang-undang untuk kepentingan sendiri

April 24, 2009 - UMNO peralat undang-undang untuk kepentingan sendiri

Family At War Over Slumdog Child-Sale Claims

April 21, 2009 - Reports the father of a young girl who starred in the smash hit film Slumdog Millionaire tried to sell her have caused major rifts in the family.

Mumbai: Indian police are investigating claims and counterclaims by the parents of a child star in "Slumdog Millionaire" after a British tabloid alleged the father tried to sell the 9-year-old girl to an undercover reporter.

The accusations further complicated the lives of the families of the slum-dwelling child stars, who have come under intense scrutiny since the movie skyrocketed to Oscar-winning fame and grossed more than $300 million worldwide.

Khurshid Begum, the estranged mother of "Slumdog Millionaire" star Rubina Ali, filed a complaint with Mumbai police on Sunday after News of the World reported that the father planned to put her up for adoption. The British newspaper said the deal was allegedly offered to one of its reporters posing as a sheik from the Mideast.

The newspaper owned by News International Ltd., the main British subsidiary of News Corp., which also owns "Slumdog" distributor Fox Searchlight Pictures, said the father was demanding millions of rupees, worth the equivalent of $400,000.

"They should be punished," Begum said after getting into a physical confrontation with Rubina's stepmother. "No father should dare sell his daughter."

Police took the father, Rafiq Qureshi, and Rubina from their home in a Mumbai slum to a police station where he was briefly questioned.

Speaking to reporters outside the police station Sunday, Qureshi denied the report, saying he had been lured to a fancy Mumbai hotel by someone claiming they were moved by Rubina's story and wanted to help her.

"We had gone there to meet them in goodwill," he said. "But they have made false allegations about me and tried to frame me."

He said he was promised cash and "were talking of giving more too" if he gave up his daughter.

"But I refused," he said.

Qureshi said he told police he believed it could be a plot to regain custody by his ex-wife, who left several years ago, only to return and try to play a role in Rubina's life after the film's success.

"My children are with me, and I could give my life for them," Qureshi said. "I will never sell them to anybody, no matter how much money they offer me."

Police said they were investigating.

"There are claims and counterclaims made by the mothers and the father," police officer Nishar Tamboli told reporters. "We are probing the matter."

The newspaper quoted Qureshi as saying that Hollywood was to blame for forcing him to give her up for adoption.

"We've got nothing out of this film," Rafiq Qureshi was quoted as saying. "I have to consider what's best for me, my family and Rubina's future."

The children in "Slumdog Millionaire" were chosen with the local help of casting director Loveleen Tandan. To give the film a realistic view of the Mumbai slums, she and director Danny Boyle decided only weeks before shooting began to cast local kids who were not professional actors.

Decision shocks syariah lawyers

Friday, 24 April 2009| Staronline

PETALING JAYA: Courts must be allowed to remain free from interference from any party including the Government, said Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association (PGSM) deputy president Musa Awang.

“PGSM is shocked with the latest decision of the Cabinet. We view the decision as an interference of legislative matters. It threatens the freedom of the courts,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“PGSM demands that the decision be postponed and reviewed again with the input from all parties inclu­ding NGOs, the public and academicians.”

He stressed the freedom of the court and the legislative institution must be defended.

Musa was commenting on the Ca­bi­net’s decision on children of parents, where one of them opts to convert, must be raised in the common religion at the time of marriage.

The religious conversion issue came to the Cabinet’s attention on April 15 involving a specific case.

Indra Ghandhi had sought the help of the Hindu Sangam branch in Ipoh after her husband K. Patma­na­than, now Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, converted their three children without their presence and without informing her.

Common religion’ for children

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has decided that children be raised in the “common religion at the time of marriage” should one of their parents convert.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz said a spouse who had converted into Islam would also have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities and sort out issues according to civil marriage laws.

“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape marriage responsibilities. Conversion is not grounds for automatic dissolution of a marriage,” he told a press conference at Parliament House yesterday.

Nazri said the principles would apply to any disputes resulting from conversion, not necessarily just for conversions to Islam.

He said the effects of conversion should apply from the day of conversion.

“It was decided that conversion is not retrospective. Past acts should be resolved under the relevant civil laws. They should come clean as a convert,” he said.

Nazri said religious conversion must come with the innocent party being protected from being victimised besides giving protection under the new religion to the convert.

“The Cabinet feels there is constructive contract between the husband and wife as parties to the marriage that the children should be brought up in common religion at the time of marriage,” he said.

Nazri said the Cabinet instructed the Attorney-General to look at all relevant laws which needed to be amended in line with the decision.

For Islamic enactments, he said they would have to be brought up with Rulers as heads of religion in their respective states.

Nazri said the Cabinet made the decision following Indra Ghandhi’s case where her three children aged one, 11 and 12 were allegedly converted to Islam by her husband K. Patmanathan, now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, without her consent.

He allegedly used the children’s birth certificates to get them converted. The youngest child is said to be in the father’s custody.

Nazri said the Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Mej-Gen (R) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom would be meeting Patmanathan to settle the matter amicably in accordance with the Cabinet’s decision.

“When the youngest child, who is still being breast-fed by the mother, is taken away from her, it is definitely traumatic for the mother.

“This is not about conversion but being humane,” he said, adding that the baby should be returned immediately to the mother.

“We can immediately do what we have decided to do in areas where we are in control. However, where it involves the Perak Islamic Affairs, it will be beyond us.

“It is our hope that common sense will prevail and the issue can end tomorrow if common sense prevails,” he said.

He said the Cabinet would deal with outstanding issues by coming out with long-term and not piece-meal solutions.

He said the Government was willing to listen to feedback over its decisions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Guantanamo abuse claim

April 14, 2009 - A detainee at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay is claiming he was tear gassed and beaten by guards.

In a phone call to Al Jazeera, Mohammad al-Qaraani said the abuse continued this year, after Barack Obama, the US president, took power.

One of the first promises Obama had made was to close down the controversial prison within one year, and to stop the abuse of detainees

Monica Villamizar reports.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jews used human skulls in Talmudic era

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:10:26 GMT | PressTV

Babylon, present day Iraq

Archaeologists have found evidence suggesting that ancient Jews used human skulls in ceremonies, despite their religious beliefs.

Although there is a strict Halakhic prohibition on touching human remains, recently published findings suggest that ancient Jews might have ignored the rules.

Southampton University researchers said that human skulls were found in present-day Iraq (formerly Babylonia) that are believed to have been used during the Talmudic era.

According to researcher Dan Levene, some of the skulls bear Aramaic inscriptions and at least one of them seems to belong to a woman.

"When I presented these findings in Israel, people told me, 'It is not possible that this is Jewish,'" said Levene. "But it is certainly Jewish."

Levene says many desperate people used talisman in the past and skulls were also used to ward off ghosts or demons, Haaretz reported.

"The fact remains that belief in demons was widespread at this time among Jews as well as other peoples," writes Levene in a report published in Biblical Archaeological Review.

"Incantation bowls are known not only from Jewish communities but from other communities as well."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Real IRA's Chilling Warning to England

April 13, 2009 - Republicans have warned that they'll kill British soldiers and members of N.Ireland's police service. Speaking at a rally in Londonderry a Real IRA spokesman denounced the Sinn Fein leadership as traitors. Sky's Alastair Bunkall reports.

DUBLIN (AP) - Irish Republican Army dissidents threatened Sunday to kill top Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness and resume attacks in England as part of their efforts to wreck the IRA cease-fire and Northern Ireland power-sharing.

An Easter statement from the outlawed Real IRA distributed to Irish media branded McGuinness a traitor because he holds the top Irish Catholic post in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government with British Protestants.

The statement warned McGuinness _ a former IRA commander _ that "no traitor will escape justice regardless of time, rank or past actions. The republican movement has a long memory."

Supporters later read out the statement at small rallies beside the graves of IRA dead at cemeteries in Belfast and Dublin. Anti-terrorist detectives kept a discreet watch on both events.

McGuinness offered no response. He previously has appealed to the public to tell police about dissident IRA activities and says extremist threats won't deflect him from cooperating with Protestant past enemies.

The Real IRA also claimed responsibility Sunday for a long-disputed killing of a Sinn Fein official who was exposed in 2006 as a British spy. Denis Donaldson, Sinn Fein's former chief legislative official inside the power-sharing government, was shot to death at his rural hideaway in northwest Ireland four months after he confessed his duplicity at a Sinn Fein news conference.

An Irish weekly newspaper, the Sunday Tribune, published an interview with an unidentified Real IRA spokesman in which the official warned that the group intends to resume attacks in London. The group in the past has issued statements via the Sunday Tribune.

The Real IRA last launched attacks in the British capital in 2000, when it struck the headquarters of the MI6 spy agency with a rocket and detonated a car bomb outside a British Broadcasting Corp. office.

The Real IRA killed two unarmed British soldiers March 7 as they collected pizzas outside a Northern Ireland army base. They were the first killings of troops in the British territory since the IRA's 1997 cease-fire. Another splinter group, the Continuity IRA, killed a policeman March 9 in what was the first killing of a police officer since 1998, the year of Northern Ireland's Good Friday peace accord.

The dissidents oppose the IRA's 2005 decisions to renounce violence and disarm, and remain committed to the belief that Northern Ireland must be forced out of the Irish Republic. The Good Friday pact reinforced the right of Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom as long as most of its residents prefer this.

Easter for decades has been a special holiday for Irish republicans, who don white lilies on their lapels as they honor the rebel dead of past generations _ and offer conflicting claims about the lessons of Irish history.

The Republic of Ireland government and leaders of Sinn Fein, the major Catholic-backed party in Northern Ireland, also organized their own separate ceremonies Sunday to commemorate the Easter Rising, the 1916 insurrection in Dublin that inspired Ireland's later war of independence from Britain.

At midday, Irish President Mary McAleese laid a wreath in central Dublin as about 300 soldiers marched down O'Connell Street and its colonnaded General Post Office. It served as rebel headquarters during the weeklong rebellion, which left 450 dead and was a military failure _ but radicalized Irish opinion after Britain executed 15 rebel leaders.

Today's rival IRA factions and the two major Republic of Ireland political parties all claim direct descendance from the 1916 rebels.

Thailand civil disorder update

Mother lodges police report; Parliamentarians want IPCMC

April 12, 2009 - The mother of alleged police abuse victim lodges a police report against the police.

Parliamentarians and NGOs ask the new Home Minister, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). There have been too many case of police abuse of suspects and deaths whilst in police custody they say.

The Big Business of Piracy

CNN's Don Lemon talks piracy with retired military officers after the U.S. Navy rescues ship Capt. Richard Phillips.

Piracy big boon to Somalia economy; hotels, restaurants sprout in port of Eyl in pirates' presence

Modern-day piracy is growing quickly into big business - just take a look at the booming Somali pirate port of Eyl.

Big villas and hotels are sprouting, former subsistence fishermen are driving Mercedes-Benzes and gold-digging women are showing up. So are accountants.

After Somalia's civil war began in 1991, the impoverished coastal people turned to buccaneering, with huge success.

"In 2008 alone, Somali pirates made $125 million," said Michael Lee of McRoberts Maritime Security. "These guys are the wealthiest in the country. A lot of the women in Somalia are flocking to the ports to get themselves a pirate."

More than 30% of the world's oil goes through the narrow Gulf of Aden off Somalia. Taking the longer, safer way around would add 20 days and $1 million in fuel costs.

The heavily insured cargo vessels make easy pickings.

In small, unlit boats, the pirates sneak up to hulking ships at night, fling grappling hooks over the side and swarm aboard. They have learned that if they treat their hostages well, they can ransom the boats for millions.

Indeed, the BBC reported there are special pirate restaurants in Eyl to feed the kidnapped crews.

To the Somalis, where the average family lives on less than $1 a day, the lure of the black flag is intoxicating.

These are not the rum-drunk, eccentric, peg-leg pirates of yesteryear: The modern corsair is well-organized, disciplined and toting a satellite phone. They even have publicists to handle media calls.

There were 293 incidents of piracy worldwide last year, up 11% over 2007, according to International Maritime Bureau.

Forty-nine ships were hijacked and 889 crewmen were taken hostage. Eleven sailors were killed, 32 were injured and 21 are missing and presumed dead.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A rollback by Obama & ACTA

April 11, 2009 - Secret war on sharing! Obama embarked on policy laundering - copy write used to be a civil matter - now, Obama wants to criminalized it! This is digital rape! Will the world under the leadership of Obama be overtaken by surveillance.

An unexpected ending for Najib in Pattaya

PATTAYA, April 11,2009 — Bernama

An unexpected ending — that was the description by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the postponement of the 14th Asean Summit and related summits when he walked into the press conference with the Malaysian media here today.

When asked how his day had been, he said: "It has been a frustrating day. I was absolutely prepared to meet them (the other leaders at the summits), I was looking forward to meeting them.

"Unfortunately, that couldn't take place. We were unsure what was going to happen next, so I was in a state of flux," he said.

Najib said he was told of the postponement at about noon.

As the drama was unfolding, Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed were having lunch opposite the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel. A Malaysian official who was also present said they saw an unusually large numbers of armed soldiers entering the dining hall.

"When asked what was happening, the Thais simply said reassuringly that the soldiers were taking their lunch break," she said, adding that they were actually sent to provide extra protection to the delegates.

Asked whether he saw the demonstrators, Najib, who was staying on the fifth floor of the Royal Cliff Grand Hotel and Spa, said he could not because of the angle of his hotel room.

At the same time, security officials of the various leaders were running helter-skelter around the hotel to look at alternative arrangements to evacuate them if the situation warranted.

"I was told that they managed to get into the hotel lobby and there was a high degree of mayhem down below. My security boys told me that I could not go down for I was quite keen to go down and see," Najib said.

Najib, when asked if he would be taking a helicopter or a boat out of the resort, he said no.

"I will be taking the normal route... going by car (to the airport)," said Najib, who looked very relaxed despite having to go through the ordeal of preparing for the summits and subsequently the unexpected cancellation.

April 11, 2009 - The latest news from Al Jazeera.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

US budget deficit hits one trillion dollars

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 20:07:12 GMT | PressTV

The US budget deficit hits almost one trillion dollars in the first half of the current fiscal year, according to figures released by the Treasury.

The deficit for the first six months of the fiscal year which began on October 1 was 956.80 billion dollars, said the Treasury's monthly statement of receipts and outlays.

Much of the increase in outlays in March came from extraordinary investments by the government in banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, loans to credit unions, and increased spending from the stimulus package for unemployment insurance and Medicaid. Some of those investments should be repaid over time, but the government is booking them as cash expenses for now.

In March, Fannie Mae received $15.2 billion, Freddie Mac received $30.8 billion, and unemployment benefits totaled $10.6 billion.

Receipts during the six-month period to March 2009 period was 989.83 billion dollars while outlays amounted to nearly 1.95 trillion dollars, the data showed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

US Envoy Writes of Israeli Threats

07/04/2009 By Barbara Crossette -
The Nation April 05, 2009

In the wake of the accusation by Chas Freeman that his nomination to lead the National Intelligence Council was derailed by an "Israeli lobby," a forthcoming memoir by another distinguished ambassador adds stunning new charges to the debate. The ambassador, John Gunther Dean, writes that over the years he not only came under pressure from pro-Israeli groups and officials in Washington but also was the target of an Israeli-inspired assassination attempt in 1980 in Lebanon, where he had opened links to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Dean's suspicions that Israeli agents may have also been involved in the mysterious plane crash in 1988 that killed Pakistan's president, General Mohammed Zia ul Haq, led finally to a decision in Washington to declare him mentally unfit, which forced his resignation from the foreign service after a thirty-year career. After he left public service, he was rehabilitated by the State Department, given a distinguished service medal and eventually encouraged to write his memoirs. Now 82, Dean sees the subsequent positive attention he has received as proof that the insanity charge (he calls it Stalinist) was phony, a supposition later confirmed by a former head of the department's medical service.

Dean, whose memoir is titled Danger Zones: A Diplomat's Fight for America's Interests, was American ambassador in Lebanon in August 1980 when a three-car convoy carrying him and his family was attacked near Beirut.

"I was the target of an assassination attempt by terrorists using automatic rifles and antitank weapons that had been made in the United States and shipped to Israel," he wrote. "Weapons financed and given by the United States to Israel were used in an attempt to kill an American diplomat!" After the event, conspiracy theories abounded in the Middle East about who could have planned the attack, and why. Lebanon was a dangerously factionalized country.

The State Department investigated, Dean said, but he was never told what the conclusion was. He wrote that he "worked the telephone for three weeks" and met only official silence in Washington. By then Dean had learned from weapons experts in the United States and Lebanon that the guns and ammunition used in the attack had been given by Israelis to a Christian militia allied with them.

"I know as surely as I know anything that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was somehow involved in the attack," Dean wrote, describing how he had been under sharp criticism from Israeli politicians and media for his contacts with Palestinians. "Undoubtedly using a proxy, our ally Israel had tried to kill me."

Dean's memoir, to be published in May for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Memoir Series by New Academia Publishing under its Vellum imprint, has been read and approved for publication by the State Department with only very minor changes, none affecting Dean's major points. Its underlying theme is that American diplomacy should be pursued in American interests, not those of another country, however friendly. A Jew whose family fled the Holocaust, Dean resented what he saw as an assumption, including by some in Congress, that he would promote Israel's interests in his ambassadorial work.

Dean, a fluent French speaker who began his long diplomatic career opening American missions in newly independent West African nations in the early 1960s, served later in Vietnam (where he described himself as a "loyal dissenter") and was ambassador in Cambodia (where he carried out the American flag as the Khmer Rouge advanced), Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand (where Chas Freeman was his deputy) and India. He takes credit for averting bloodshed in Laos in the 1970s by negotiating a coalition government shared by communist and noncommunist parties.

He was sometimes a disputatious diplomat not afraid to contradict superiors, and he often took--and still holds--contrarian views. He always believed, for example, that the United States should have attempted to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge rather than let the country be overrun by their brutal horror.

As ambassador in India in the 1980s he supported then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's policy of seeking some kind of neutral coalition in Afghanistan that would keep the American- and Pakistani-armed mujahedeen from establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. For several years after the Soviet withdrawal, India continued to back Najibullah, a thuggish communist security chief whom the retreating Soviet troops left behind. After the mujahedeen moved toward Kabul, Najibullah refused a United Nations offer of safe passage to India. He was slaughtered and left hanging on a lamppost.

It was in the midst of this Soviet endgame in Afghanistan that Dean fell afoul of the State Department for the last time. After the death of General Zia in August 1988, in a plane crash that also killed the American ambassador in Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, Dean was told in New Delhi by high-ranking officials that Mossad was a possible instigator of the accident, in which the plane's pilot and co-pilot were apparently disabled or otherwise lost control. There was also some suspicion that elements of India's Research and Analysis Wing, its equivalent of the CIA, may have played a part. India and Israel were alarmed by Pakistan's work on a nuclear weapon--the "Islamic bomb."

Dean was so concerned about these reports, and the attempt by the State Department to block a full FBI investigation of the crash in Pakistan, that he decided to return to Washington for direct consultations. Instead of the meetings he was promised, he was told his service in India was over. He was sent into virtual house arrest in Switzerland at a home belonging to the family of his French wife, Martine Duphenieux. Six weeks later, he was allowed to return to New Delhi to pack his belongings and return to Washington, where he resigned

Suddenly his health record was cleared and his security clearance restored. He was presented with the Distinguished Service Award and received a warm letter of praise from Secretary of State George Shultz. "Years later," he wrote in his memoir, "I learned who had ordered the bogus diagnosis of mental incapacity against me. It was the same man who had so effusively praised me once I was gone--George Shultz."

Asked in a telephone conversation last week from his home in Paris why Shultz had done this to him, Dean would say only, "He was forced to."

About Barbara Crossette

Barbara Crossette, United Nations correspondent for The Nation, is a former New York Times correspondent and bureau chief in Asia and at the UN.

She is the author of So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1995 and in paperback by Random House/Vintage Destinations in 1996, and a collection of travel essays about colonial resort towns that are still attracting visitors more than a century after their creation, The Great Hill Stations of Asia, published by Westview Press in 1998 and in paperback by Basic Books in 1999. In 2000, she wrote a survey of India and Indian-American relations, India: Old Civilization in a New World, for the Foreign Policy Association in New York. She is also the author of India Facing the 21st Century, published by Indiana University Press in 1993

India's sold children

April 09, 2009 - For some families living in extreme poverty, children are seen as a commodity. Some are kidnapped, and there are syndicates that will sell the children elsewhere in other parts of the world.In this edition of 101 East, we look at how trafficking, adoption and surrogacy affect India's struggling families

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flu shot ingredients

GAZA: Behind the scenes

Following the outbreak of the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel on December 27, 2008 and then Israel's ground invasion of Gaza on Jan 3, Amnesty International delegates traveled to the region on Jan 8th. There, they began to research allegations of war crimes and others serious violations of international law by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

This video is about the preliminary findings of our fact-finding team in Gaza.

Is he going to war?

April 09, 2009 - While media plays up program cuts, total defense budget surpasses Bush by $20B

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

G20: day of rage rocks system

Tuesday 7 April 2009 © Socialist Worker

A range of protests against the G20 summit captured the public’s anger over the economic crisis. Socialist Worker was on hand to record the events

The City financial district in the heart of London was brought to a standstill on Wednesday of last week as thousands of protesters converged on the Bank of England to demonstrate against the recession, banks, war and climate change.

The “Financial Fools Day” event was part of a series of protests taking place around the G20 summit.

The Stop the War Coalition helped organise a march and rally in Trafalgar Square, while environmental campaigners held a “climate camp” on Bishopsgate, one of the main roads running through the City.

There were also protests the next day outside the summit’s venue, the Excel Centre in east London.

The mood of the protests was for the most part defiant and carnivalesque. But there was also anger – directed at the banks whose profiteering had helped bring on the recession, and at the police whose thuggish tactics were designed to intimidate and harass demonstrators. » G20 policing: Intimidation is their intention

The City protests in the morning started with four “horsemen of the apocalypse” setting off from separate central London tube stations, each followed by a train of protesters.

The horses, symbolising the four evils of war, financial chaos, climate change and homelessness, converged on the centre of the financial district.

The protesters were a diverse group, including many students and young unemployed workers, as well as peace activists and climate change campaigners.

One group of around 250 people followed the red horse from Moorgate station to protest against war. Stop the War delegations from Glasgow, Strathclyde and Aberdeen universities ensured the protest was loud and lively.

The green horse march against climate change started from Liverpool Street and attracted some 300 people. Jake, a student from south London, was one of them.

“The economic crisis is just the latest sign of capitalism tearing our world apart. People here have lots of different views, but we have to start coming together,” he told Socialist Worker.

Jasmine brought her children to the demonstration. “What’s happening to the climate is very scary,” she said. “It’s great to see so many young people here. We have to have a new generation of people who will defend our planet.”

The police turned up in absurdly large numbers in an attempt to overwhelm the demonstrators. Protesters were penned in – or “kettled” as the media have dubbed it – by lines of riot cops separating different groups of demonstrators.

Despite the police lockdown, some did manage to physically express their anger at an economic system that is creating havoc across the globe. They smashed the windows of a Royal Bank of Scotland branch in the City and briefly occupied the building.


But the levels of violence were nowhere near those predicted by police and quoted in the lurid press coverage that marked the run-up to the demonstration.

Later in the afternoon around 5,000 anti-war protesters gathered to demonstrate outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square. They marched to a rally in Trafalgar Square, which was addressed by Arthur Scargill and Tony Benn, among others.

“The government is giving billions to banks to give golden handshakes to bankers – I’d put them all in brass handcuffs and take them away,” said Scargill, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers who led the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. “We need a change in the system – capitalism has demonstrated its inability to deal with the issues at stake.”

The march called for an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, freedom for Palestine and the abolition of nuclear weapons. It was organised jointly by Stop the War, CND, the British Muslim Initiative and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The crackdown on opposition to the G20 summit continued as the evening went on. A counter-summit planned at the University of East London (UEL) on Wednesday was refused permission to take place by university authorities.

Attendees held a rally outside instead, which was addressed by speakers including Alex Callinicos and Mark Thomas. They expressed their solidarity with UEL professor Chris Knight, who was suspended for his role in organising the protests.

The following day riot police raided two squats in east London that were being used as “social centres” to coordinate the protests. The targeted venues included a building in Earl Street that had been occupied on Tuesday night, along with a long‑established centre on Rampart Street in Whitechapel.

But the repression did not deter large numbers of people from expressing their anger at the G20. Alpesh, a young worker, was one of those protesting later outside the Excel Centre venue.

“People are looking much more critically at capitalism,” he told Socialist Worker. “The system is bankrupt – it has nothing to offer us. I hope the protests over the past few days will raise people’s class consciousness and get working people seriously fighting back.”

The following should be read alongside this article:
» G20 policing: Intimidation is their intention
» G20: Photos of the London protests
» Will the G20 bailout work?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Same people protecting same interest responsible for reforms?

August 01, 2008 - What will real economic change look like?

Downturn and record high deficit mean next uS President must protect Americans from 'vagaries of the market'.

Will that happens - or the worrries of others in reaction to the G 20 submit - the like of Evo Morales of Bolivia or the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic?

Debt-fueled rat race drives economic crisis

Sunday May 4th, 2008 - Leo Panitch part 1: Truly democratic institutions are needed to direct investment.

As the US Federal Reserve once again cut interest rates on Wednesday in the hopes of stanching the economic bleeding in the US, The Real News Network senior editor Paul Jay sat down with economist Leo Panitch to discuss the causes of--and solutions to--the current economic crisis. Panitch says that the increase in the standard of living since the Reagan era has largely been fueled by growing debt and longer working hours, and suggests that the solution is to democratize economic institutions.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Public rage over perks for new Zimbabwe ministers

HARARE, April 4,2009 | Guardian

Zimbabwe's new unity government has sparked public outcry by accepting a succession of perks including a "retreat" to a luxury resort at Victoria Falls this weekend and a fleet of US$50,000 (RM185,000) Mercedes vehicles for ministers while the vast majority struggles to afford basic commodities.

The perception of officials feathering their nests is particularly awkward for former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his allies in the unity government, who spent years championing the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans during the economic collapse presided over by Robert Mugabe. It is also likely to raise questions about the government's spending priorities, coming just days after it issued an appeal for billions of dollars.

Officially billed as a brainstorming session on how to take the country forward, the weekend retreat will take place at a tourist resort famed for its five-star safari lodges and the spectacular "Mosi-I-Tunya" waterfalls, the "smoke that thunders" in the local Shona language. Many Zimbabweans see the trip as another junket for the politically privileged.

"It's just spitting in peoples' faces at a time when the cities are suffering and much of the countryside is starving," said Dumisani Moyo, 39, an office worker in the capital Harare.

The government has been quoted as saying the retreat will promote tourism, particularly as most foreign visitors have forsaken Zimbabwe for Zambia's side of the falls. But criticism came from the most unlikely of sources: the slavishly pro-president Mugabe state-owned Herald daily newspaper. In a rare show of dissent its political editor Mabasa Sasa wrote a column earlier this week asking why politicians needed to spend "untold sums" of precious foreign exchange to wine, dine and talk on the peoples' behalf when they could stay in the capital Harare.

Satirising the bon viveur politicians' new taste for luxury in a rebuke all the more stinging for its unexpectedness, Sasa said: "It would be interesting to find out how high the bar tab will be considering the penchant for Chivas Regal and other exotically named whiskies and cognacs that people acquire when someone starts addressing them as Shefu [chief]".

Barely seven weeks ago many of the ministers expected to attend were in opposition fighting for their political lives or facing the truncheons of President Robert Mugabe's security services.

But the excursion is the culmination of a series of perks. These include the new government's self-award of one Mercedes-Benz E-class for every minister at a time when most Zimbabweans are struggling to afford basic commodities such as cooking oil and the national maize staple mealie-meal.

Only one politician, MDC MP and Minister for Education David Coltart, refused the Benz. He said a Mercedes was not practical for negotiating the potholed roads of rural constituencies.

Zimbabwe's economic and financial needs meanwhile remain critical. The regional Southern African Development Community announced this week that it would assist Zimbabwe in trying to raise up to US$8.3 billion to rebuild its shattered economy.

The reforming MDC Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the country urgently needed US$2 billion in aid inflows within the next two weeks to meet its debt obligations and pay civil servants.

Important, if modest, economic and political reforms have already taken place under the combined auspices of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and their one-time enemies the Movement for Democratic change. But there are also deep misgivings.

Christopher Goche, 35, a taxi driver and MDC supporter, said he was worried that politicians were "feathering their nests when there is a long way to go".

Despite the national outpouring of sympathy for Prime Minister Tsvangirai, whose wife died in a car accident last month, there are fears that the former trade unionist is becoming co-opted by Mugabe much like one-time opposition leader Joshua Nkomo was in the 1980s.

Nkomo, once the president's most popular rival, was incorporated into a Mugabe-led government under Zimbabwe's "unity accord" in 1987.

"For the moment things are stable but one can't mistake growing disenchantment with the new unity government barely a month after its inception ... Tsvangirai is operating under a shadow of Nkomo," said Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a former Zanu-PF politician and Harare-based analyst.

Friday, April 3, 2009

'US economic plan, road to hell'

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 20:58:53 GMT | PressTV

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says that Washington's plans to fight the global economic crisis are "the way to hell."

"The path the United States has chosen is historically discredited," the head of the European Union told the European Parliament on Wednesday, advising Americans to "read dusty history books" so as to avoid repeating "the errors of the 1930s" and the Great Depression.

"Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market," Topolanek said.

Topolanek's remarks came a day after he was ousted by the Czech Republic's Parliament.

The Czech Republic currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency but its leadership is in question, with Topolanek hanging on to a caretaker government at home after losing a "no confidence" vote on Tuesday.

The comments by Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted Europe's simmering differences with Washington ahead of a key summit next week on fixing the world economy.

European leaders hope the new US administration will agree with them on tightening oversight over the global financial system - which they see as crucial to fixing the global economy.

Too rich for Bukit Gantang

Friday, 03 April 2009 - By Zainal Epi - The Malay Mail

IF you have it, flaunt it. But no, sirs. Not in Bukit Gantang, Perak.

Several Umno members who had just returned to Kuala Lumpur from the durian land, are cheesed off that Barisan Nasional members are making their rounds there in luxury cars and expensive attire.

The group said these campaigners had not learnt from past by-elections.

“Moving around in big luxury cars, wearing expensive attire but talking about daily survival of
kampung folks in a semi-urban surrounding doesn’t quite give the right impression about BN,” one of them said.

There is nothing wrong in having wealth and looking good, but who would be convinced when they talk about defending the kampung people’s rights?

The voters would be wondering how these campaigners would know what they are going through when they strut around in fancy cars and clothes; and have probably never lived in a village.

“Bukit Gantang’s predominantly Malay voters are still living in the kampung, some in dilapidated

These are simple people with simple needs. They cannot possibly identify with people with
luxury, even if these campaigners do not mean to project a high and mighty outlook.”

The Umno members also claimed that there seemed to be factions among Umno Youth followers
aligned to either new chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir or Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.

They claimed that factions loyal to Mukhriz and Dr Khir were carrying out their own campaign, despite the norm being to follow the chief’s itinerary.

The members also noted that other than the Perak takeover issues, the Opposition was using the three month suspension on Harakah and Suara Keadilan as an issue.

On the positive side, the group said the Wanita team were doing a good job.

It seems that the Wanita members are well received in their house-to-house rounds.

Water for Life not for Profit!

Water Rights Activists Blast Istanbul World Water Forum.

March 23, 2009 - Sunday was World Water Day and marked the close of a week-long gathering held in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss water policy at a time when over a billion people lack access to clean water and 2.5 billion people lack water for proper sanitation.

Activists from the Peoples Water Forum, an alternative formation representing the rural poor, the environment and organized labor, slammed the official event as a non-inclusive, corporate-driven fraud pushing for water privatization and called for a more open, democratic and transparent forum.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Border mayors debate drug war

April 01, 2009 - Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi speaks to the mayors of El Paso in the US and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, just a few miles across the border.

He began by asking both men how the drug trade could look so different in cities that are separated by mere metres.

Newstopia explains the Reserve Bank

UPDATE 2009-01-13: 50,000 views! Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

UPDATE: The day this video got picked up by a couple of left-wing blogs in the USA and Canada was, coincidentally enough, my birthday. I can't give enough thanks to everyone who has enjoyed the video so far. Spread the word!

"Shaun Micallef" (Shaun Micallef) and "Tony Froth" (Nicholas Bell) explain the role of the Reserve Bank of Australia and how to control inflation.

This was taken from the TV show "Newstopia" (Season 2, Episode 3, aired 12 March 2008). I'm uploading this to celebrate the launch of the third season of the show. This is one of my favourite moments from the second season.

I don't own the copyright to this - it belongs to the Australian TV channel, SBS. That said, there is plenty of Newstopia material on YouTube already, including an incomplete version of this material. In any case, I personally think the show deserves all the publicity it can get.

Visit the show's official website: http://www.sbs.com.au/newstopia.

Newstopia Explains the Reserve Bank - Funny blooper videos are here

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