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2010 November 1 | Activist News

The Road to World War 3

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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »


U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

jeff olsen

Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »


The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Daily Archives: November 1, 2010

Kimberley Process: Demand End to Abuses in Diamond Trade

Human Rights Watch
November 1, 2010

(Jerusalem) – The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme should not allow further exports from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe until the government makes clear progress in ending abuses and smuggling, Human Rights Watch said today. Participants in the scheme, an international body that oversees the diamond trade, are scheduled to meet in Jerusalem from November 1 to 4, 2010.

Human Rights Watch research from July through September established that large parts of the fields remain under the control of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces soldiers, who harass and intimidate the local community and engage in widespread diamond smuggling.

In November 2009, the government of Zimbabwe and the Kimberley Process agreed to a joint work plan, in which Zimbabwe committed to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields, and for a monitor to examine and certify that all shipments of diamonds from Marange met Kimberley Process standards.

“The government made a lot of promises, but soldiers still control most diamond fields and are involved in illicit mining and smuggling,” said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Zimbabwe should mine its diamonds without relying on an abusive military that preys on the local population.”

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on Kimberley Process members to address human rights abuses in Marange and recognize human rights issues as a fundamental element of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme mandate.

At a special meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, in July, Kimberley Process members agreed to permit Zimbabwe to export two shipments of diamonds under supervision of the body’s monitors, on condition that the body would investigate conditions in the Marange fields. The agreement also tied all future exports of diamonds to clear and measurable progress in ending smuggling and abuses, and allowed for local civil society groups to participate in monitoring progress in the fields.

Human Rights Watch learned that the Kimberley Process team sent in to review conditions in the fields in August was routinely obstructed by government officials from conducting its activities and was unable to gather crucial information about conditions in the majority of diamond fields.

In recent investigations in Zimbabwe, Human Rights Watch researchers found that while violence had decreased in the fields, the army and police continued to commit abuses, which put Zimbabwe in violation of the minimum standards required for membership in the Kimberley Process:

  • The Zimbabwean army uses syndicates of local miners to extract diamonds. Local miners told Human Rights Watch that the army coercively recruits local people to help the army dig for diamonds. Many people are afraid to refuse, fearing that the soldiers will beat and harass them.
  • In July, a scuffle between police, soldiers, and local miners ended in the death of a miner, who was hit over the head with an iron bar by a policeman. There has been no investigation into the miner’s death.
  • Widespread smuggling of Marange diamonds has not ended. Scores of buyers and middlemen openly trade in Marange diamonds in the small Mozambican town of Vila de Manica, 20 miles from Mutare.

“The Kimberley Process should not allow the export of further shipments of diamonds from Marange until there is meaningful progress to end smuggling and abuses by the army,” Peligal said. “Without these kinds of reforms, international consumers risk purchasing ‘blood diamonds.’”

Full Article Here – http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/10/29/kimberley-process-demand-end-abuses-diamond-trade

Access to Drugs A Life Saver for People with HIV

November 1, 2010
By Irwin Loy 

KAMPONG CHAM, Cambodia, Nov 1, 2010 (IPS) – The monsoon rains soaked the ground beneath Mon Hol’s home until it turned to ankle-deep mud. The aged thatched-leaf roof of his hut, badly in need of replacement, provided little protection.

But despite these conditions at home, he and his wife were healthy; his three children had enough food to eat today. That was not always the case.

Just three years ago, Mon Hol’s world was spiralling out of control.

The results of a medical test came through: HIV-positive. His wife, Roun Ry, also tested positive. Mon could barely fathom what it meant.

His neighbours in this tiny village in rural Cambodia, however, had their own ideas. Word of his condition spread. Then came the taunting and the ridicule. He would ride his bicycle through the village and neighbours would point. Don’t talk to him; don’t even drink with him, they said. He has AIDS.

Then there was his health. He would need to take medicine every day to manage his condition, doctors told him. But the nearest clinic was an hour away. He could barely afford to feed his family as it was, let alone the cost of a motorbike taxi to pick up his medicine. How would he cope?
“I was scared,” Mon said. “I was afraid. I didn’t even know anyone who had HIV. Then I realised that I had it.”

Mon’s situation underscores just one of the challenges authorities in this South-east Asian nation face in addressing HIV. Countries have pledged to reduce the prevalence of HIV and offer life-saving anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to all those who need it as part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

But in rural Cambodia, far from even basic medical care and a world away from city hospitals, the best intentions abruptly run up against the realities of daily life.

Three years ago, there were few options for Mon. He knew little about the virus that had taken control of his body. There was no care in his remote village, no counsellors, no one to talk to about the illness. Cambodia’s health system did not reach as far as his village and few non-governmental organisations operated in the area.

The hospital in the provincial capital was an hour away. For a poor farmer living hand to mouth, it might as well have been in another country.

In 2009, however, a non-government organisation led by monks, the Buddhism and Society Development Association (BSDA), stepped in with a programme that Mon says has changed his life.

It linked people living with HIV, like Mon and his wife, with counselling and offered health education to them and their neighbours. More vitally, they have also made it possible for Mon to get his medication on a regular basis. BSDA’s support includes a monthly stipend that allows him to make the trip to the nearest clinic to pick up his treatment.

“People who live in the village are very poor,” said Pheaktra Lansamrith, a project coordinator with BSDA. “If they don’t have money, then some of them just won’t get the help they need.”

Cambodia offers free ARV treatment to people like Mon – those who are least able to afford them. In remote rural areas like this, extra measures are crucial to ensuring people living with HIV can get the help they need.

“HIV and AIDS is the big issue, the big challenge in Cambodia, especially in rural areas like Kampong Cham,” said Thorn Vandong, a monk and BSDA’s executive director.

Thorn said while authorities may embrace the importance of addressing HIV and AIDS, many villagers in poor rural areas have a poor understanding of it.

“They don’t think that HIV and AIDS is the biggest problem. They can have sex without condoms; they don’t care,” Thorn said. “In Khmer, we say ‘they’re not afraid of AIDS; what they are afraid of is not having sex’.”

Still, for a country still mired in poverty following decades of conflict, statistics suggest that HIV is one of the key areas in which Cambodia has taken significant strides. Cambodia committed to cutting the HIV prevalence rate among adults to 1.8 percent by 2015. Current estimates peg this at around 0.7 percent, ahead of target. 

Full Article Here – http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53415

DNA barcoding aims to protect species and food

November 1, 2010

Call it a DNA digital Dewey Decimal System for all life on Earth.

Every species, from extinct to thriving, is set to get its own DNA barcode in an attempt to better track the ones that are endangered, as well as those being shipped across international borders as food or consumer products.

Researchers hope handheld mobile devices will be able to one day read these digital strips of rainbow-colored barcodes — much like supermarket scanners — to identify different species by testing tissue samples on site and comparing them with a digital database.

The International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL), which says it is the world’s first reference library of DNA barcodes and the world’s largest biodiversity genomics project, is being built by scientists using fragments of DNA to create a database of all life forms.

“What we’re trying to do is to create this global library of DNA barcodes — snippets, little chunks of DNA — that permit us to identify species,” Alex Smith, assistant professor of molecular ecology at the University of Guelph’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, about 90 km (56 miles) west of Toronto.

So far DNA barcoding has helped identify the type of birds that forced last year’s emergency landing of a flight on the Hudson River in New York. The researchers also discovered nearly one in four fish fillets are mislabeled in North America after referring to the library, which has 7,000 species of fish DNA barcodes, allowing the scientists to identify fillets that have been stripped of scales, skins and heads.

To get the barcodes, scientists use a short section of DNA extracted from a standardized region of tissue. Once the barcode is created, it’s filed in the iBOL library.

Within a week, the barcode can be viewed publicly, online, by signing up for a free account at www.boldsystems.org, the site for Barcode of Life Datasystems (BOLD). Smith describes it as being like a label on a filing cabinet.

Just as the barcode scanner at a grocery store can identify lettuce, milk or steak, the DNA barcode sequence can be used to identify different species so that anyone who isn’t a specialist — from an elementary school student to a border patrol inspector — can identify the species, once technology to read the library is available.

The library has more than 87,000 formally described species with barcodes filed and more than 1 million total barcoded specimens.

Smith said humans live among at least 1.9 million named species, with total diversity within all those species adding up to millions more. Scientists estimate iBOL will have barcodes for all 10 million species of multicellular life within the next 20 years.

While the library is based in Canada, which led the early stages of DNA barcoding, 25 other countries are also involved.

“Most of life on the planet is not polar bears and Siberian tigers — most of life on the planet weighs less than a gram, is less than a centimeter long, and isn’t visual. It experiences the world through taste and smell and we’re not aware of its existence,” Smith said.

Full Article Here – http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20101101/tsc-life-us-dna-011ccfa.html

Russian Activists See Change in a Humble Protest

New York Times
October 31, 2010

MOSCOW — There was nothing grandiose about the demonstration in Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow on Sunday night.

The organizers stood on the back of a truck and spoke through tinny speakers. The audience was squeezed behind the metal fencing that has sliced up the plaza, a traditional gathering place for dissidents, so a parking garage can be built underneath.

But that was enough, for this one night.

For a year and a half, these activists have engaged in a standoff with Russian authorities as they have asserted their right to free assembly — demonstrating, essentially, for the right to demonstrate. Nine times the riot police have dispersed them and herded them onto buses.

This time, having gotten a permit in what appears to be a civics experiment for both sides, it was heady just to hear chants of “Russia without Putin” echoing off the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.

“I consider it the end of one stage and the beginning of the next stage of the struggle,” said Oleg P. Orlov, director of the Russian rights group Memorial. “Today we will hold a demonstration. The next time we will ask them to remove the fences. After that we will demand the right to march.”

Though the so-called Strategy-31 movement is a tiny one, commanding only a fraction of the pro-Western elite, it has forced Russia’s leaders to rethink their approach to opposition. The authorities here remain nervous about any kind of street protests, a fear stoked by the pro-Western color revolutions in recent years in former Soviet republics.

But the arrests of the Strategy-31 demonstrators — among them Lyudmila Alekseyeva, 83, the grande dame of Russia’s human rights movement — had become such a drag on Russia’s reputation abroad that it forced the country’s leaders to back down, said Aleksei A. Venediktov, the director of Ekho Moskvy, a liberal radio station.

“They think concession is weakness and weakness leads to catastrophe; that is their real belief,” he said. Advocates were able to convince them that demonstrating was “a normal constitutional right and not a threat or a provocation.”

“It was not easy to convince them,” he added.

Ten days ago, in the political shuffle that followed the ouster of Moscow’s mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, city authorities offered to allow 200 people to attend the rally, held on the 31st day of every month that has one.
The date honors Article 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly. After organizers complained, the city granted a permit allowing 800 protesters and 200 journalists.

Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/world/europe/01russia.html

Obama Waives Sanctions for Four Countries That Use Child Soldiers

published October 29, 2010
By Howard LaFranchi

Washington - As a senator, Barack Obama supported legislation requiring the United States to cut off military aid to countries recruiting and deploying child soldiers.
This week as president, Mr. Obama acted to ensure that four countries found to use child soldiers – but which are also considered key national security interests – do not lose their US military assistance. Obama heeded the recommendation of a State Department review and waived application of a year-old law on child soldiers in the case of Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen.
In a Oct. 25 presidential memorandum, Obama said he had “determined that it is in the national interest of the United States” to waive application of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act for the four countries.

The waiver, issued quietly this week, was another example of what some diplomatic analysts consider to be Obama’s pragmatic approach to foreign policy. But a number of human-rights and international-development groups say the waiver sends a bad signal.

“We are very concerned and disappointed with this decision,” says Jesse Eaves, policy adviser on children in crisis for World Vision, a nongovernmental aid organization with field programs in three of the four exempted countries. “It appears to send the message that you can get away with failing to stop using children in combat as long as your country is strategic enough to the US.”
White House: It’s a Warning
White House officials say the waivers serve as a wakeup call for the countries to clean up recruitment practices before the State Department delivers its next Trafficking in Persons Report. The annual report serves as the basis for determining which countries employ child soldiers.

Full Article Here – http://www.truth-out.org/obama-waives-sanctions-four-countries-that-use-child-soldiers64699

Hondurans Denounce Return of Death Squads

Prensa Latina
published October 29, 2010

San Salvador, Oct 29 (Prensa Latina) Death squads have reappeared in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 military coup, and they are targeting teachers, human rights activist Berta Oliva charged in El Salvador.

  Paramilitary groups like CAM (Comando Álvarez Martínez) are behind the selective murders of Honduran opposition activists, and teachers are their main victims, Oliva said, quoted by Co Latino newspaper.

Human rights violations, persecution and selective assassinations are everyday occurrences, showing that the military coup “continues,” she said.
Ten teachers have been murdered this year for their clear opposition to the current government, a continuation of the coup regime, said Oliva, general coordinator of the Committee of Relatives of Missing Detainees in Honduras.

Oliva made her comments at the 7th Herbert Anaya Sanabria International Human Rights Congress in the Salvadoran capital.

Fifty-six human rights activisits have been threatened by different armed groups, she said, urging the Organization of American States to urge the United States not to support the Honduran military while human rights violations continue.

Full Article Here – http://www.prensa-latina.cu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=233289&Itemid=1