zaterdag 29 december 2007
' Worms infect more poor Americans than thought
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Roundworms may infect close to a quarter of inner city black children, tapeworms are the leading cause of seizures among U.S. Hispanics and other parasitic diseases associated with poor countries are also affecting Americans, a U.S. expert said on Tuesday.
Recent studies show many of the poorest Americans living in the United States carry some of the same parasitic infections that affect the poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a tropical disease expert at George Washington University and editor-in-chief of the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Writing in the journal, Hotez said these parasitic infections had been ignored by most health experts in the United States.
"I feel strongly that this is such an important health issue and yet because it only affects the poor it has been ignored," Hotez said via e-mail.
He said the United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defend against bio-terrorism threats like anthrax or smallpox or avian flu, which were more a theoretical concern than a real threat at present.
"And yet we have a devastating parasitic disease burden among the American poor, right under our nose," Hotez said.
He noted a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented in November, found that almost 14 percent of the U.S. population is infected with Toxocara roundworms, which dogs and cats can pass to people.'
Lees verder: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN2526656920071226
En als de commerciele massamedia in Nederland hier nu eens over berichten, en niet nagenoeg al hun aandacht zouden besteden aan de polder, dan zou de massa hier beter geinformeerd zijn en intelligentere keuzes kunnen maken.
OUR MONITORING DESK
EARLY next year, US special forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counter-terrorism units, according to American defence officials involved with the planning, reports Washington Post.These Pakistan-centric operations will mark a shift for the US military and for US-Pakistan relations. In the aftermath of Sept 11, the US used Pakistani bases to stage movements into Afghanistan. Yet once the US deposed the Taliban government and established its main operating base at Bagram, north of Kabul, US forces left Pakistan almost entirely. Since then, Pakistan has restricted US involvement in cross-border military operations as well as paramilitary operations on its soil.But the Pentagon has been frustrated by the inability of Pakistani forces to control the borders or the frontier area. And Pakistan’s political instability has heightened US concern about extremists there.According to Pentagon sources, reaching a different agreement with Pakistan became a priority for the new head of the US Special Operations Command, Adm Eric T Olson. Olson visited Pakistan in August, November and again this month, meeting with President Pervez Musharraf, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Tariq Majid and Lt Gen Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. Olson also visited the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a separate paramilitary force recruited from Pakistan’s border tribes.Now, a new agreement, reported when it was still being negotiated last month, has been finalised. And the first US personnel could be on the ground in Pakistan by early in the new year, according to Pentagon sources.US Central Command Commander Adm William Fallon alluded to the agreement and spoke approvingly of Pakistan’s recent counter-terrorism efforts in a recent interview. “What we’ve seen in the last several months is more of a willingness to use their regular army units,” along the Afghan border, Fallon said. “And this is where, I think, we can help a lot from the US in providing the kind of training, assistance and mentoring based on our experience with insurgencies recently and with the terrorist problem in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think we share a lot with them, and we’ll look forward to doing that.”
It’s an ancient tradition derived
De Guardian bericht:
As the US economy heads south, food banks are experiencing severe shortages - just as the number of Americans reliant on them is rising
There's a debate raging in America as we head toward a new year: are we or aren't we in a 1970s-style recession, one involving a stalled economy combined with strong inflationary pressures?
The measures are ambiguous. The housing market is about as deep in the hole as it has ever been, but jobs are still being created - albeit at a snail's pace. The stock market's gone all squirrelly, but depending on the day Wall Street is still capable of delivering stockholders a triple-digit Dow Jones gain. Inflation is rearing its ugly head, largely driven by the upward march of oil prices, and the dollar's lost getting on for 20% of its value in the past couple years. But at the same time consumer spending is pretty robust (albeit sustained, increasingly, by a holiday season reliance on credit cards rather than on refinanced homes and lines of credit tied to house values).
But there's one measure that's not in the slightest bit ambiguous: hunger in America is on the march.
Throughout the 2000s, year in and year out - with the exception of one blip downward in 2005 - the number of hungry people has been increasing. By 2006, the US department of agriculture estimated that 35.5 million Americans worried about how to put food on the table, and over 11 million actually went hungry at times.
Actually, let me rephrase that: in 2006, the US government decided not to call these 11 million people "hungry". Instead, in an Orwellian slight of hand, they were deemed to have "very low food security". Saying there are hungry people in the country, people with bellies rumbling, people who go to bed at night unfed, children whose only hot meal is the lunch they get weekdays at school, might actually result in anger - anger that the richest country on earth is so badly failing its poorest citizens. By contrast, saying there are "food insecure" people tamps down that emotion rather well
No thanks to the government and its language manipulation, until the current economic turmoil threw more people into poverty and reduced the ability of many others to donate to charities, in many instances it actually was true that people were worrying more about hunger than actually experiencing it as a chronic condition of life. The reason was that until this year private charities - churches and food banks, in particular - were doing a pretty good job of throwing up safety nets for all these "food insecure" individuals. Swallow your pride, stand in line at a food bank and ask for free food, and like as not you were going to go home with a box of food large enough to tide you over until your next pay check or welfare payment. A year ago, when I reported on hunger in Sacramento, the city I have lived in for the past three years, the food banks were doling out incredible quantities of food, both fresh and canned, to needy people citywide.
Recently, however, as the broader economy has headed south, the amount and quality of food being donated to food banks has fallen off - just when the number of people reliant on these institutions is rising. And, according to researchers in Georgia and elsewhere, the hungry are not exclusively the unemployed and homeless, but also working, even middle-class folks. Increasingly, people who over-extended themselves to buy houses are finding themselves trapped by the collapsing housing market and unable to raise the cash to feed their families.'
vrijdag 28 december 2007
'In So Many Cases, Democracy Rises from Catastrophe, Naomi Klein Argues
By John Freeman
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
According to economists in the University of Chicago school of thought, free-market ideas spread across the planet in a series of natural if sometimes painful historic developments. And the unprecedented (and highly lucrative) access Western capital enjoyed to these emerging markets is essential to kick-starting democratic reform.
In this towering polemic, Naomi Klein demolishes this narrative, arguing that the evidence tells a different story. Skipping across several decades and numerous U.S. administrations of both parties, Klein shows how the free-market ideas associated with Milton Friedman have spread often through catastrophe (as in Thailand, post-tsunami, and in New Orleans, post-Katrina) and at the point of a gun (as in Chile in 1973 and Iraq today).
Klein, a journalist whose book, "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" was translated into 28 languages, argues here that the violence necessary to foster such free-market reforms will only increase.
Many decades ago, Marxist historian Walter Rodney labeled a similar phenomenon "the underdevelopment of Africa," describing a deliberate molding of developing economies by imperialism to serve its own needs. Today, Klein calls it "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." She takes her cue from the role shock and awe, in all forms, plays in getting the local populace to cooperate: book-burning, bombing, widespread arrests and roundups - even torture.
Readers of Howard Zinn's "A People's History" will recognize an ideological stance at work here. But Klein is not simply a woman with a bullhorn. A fierce writer whose prose has the metaphorical gusto of Susan Sontag's in its best moments, Klein manages to weave a narrative out of a large variety of historical events that is equal parts cultural commentary and investigative journalism.
Her most powerful segments deal with events of recent years. Take, for instance, her ability to encapsulate the mess that is Iraq. Among other things, "The Shock Doctrine" shows how the growing role of civilian contractors, Abu Ghraib, the insurgency, and the constant, spooky presence of Halliburton in so many recent projects (which include the building of Guantanamo and the reconstruction of New Orleans) all stem from the shock doctrine.
For instance, in describing how so much money gets spent and so little done in Iraq, Klein creates this daisy-chain sentence. "The big contractors set up offices in the Green Zone, or even Kuwait City and Amman, then subcontracted to Kuwati companies, who subcontracted to Saudis, who, when the security situation got too rough, finally subcontracted to Iraqi firms, often from Kurdistan, for a fraction of what the contracts were worth."
Klein reminds us that, contrary to his public statements, Dick Cheney will profit enormously from his continued association with Halliburton. Here is why this book, angry as it is, deserves such a wide audience. It reminds us that the purpose of government is to serve the most people as best it can. Under the shock doctrine, Klein argues, the opposite occurs: One class of people comes up with the plan, another does the fighting, and a third, way at the bottom, deals with the fallout.
If you accept this assessment, it's not hard to see why such policies earn what the CIA calls "blowback."
Freeman is president of the National Book Critics Circle.'
donderdag 27 december 2007
woensdag 26 december 2007
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation -- oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.
-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti
dinsdag 25 december 2007
maandag 24 december 2007
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 24 December 2007
Once upon a time, back when America had a strong middle class, it also had a strong union movement.
These two facts were connected. Unions negotiated good wages and benefits for their workers, gains that often ended up being matched even by nonunion employers. They also provided an important counterbalance to the political influence of corporations and the economic elite.
Today, however, the American union movement is a shadow of its former self, except among government workers. In 1973, almost a quarter of private-sector employees were union members, but last year the figure was down to a mere 7.4 percent.
Yet unions still matter politically. And right now they're at the heart of a nasty political scuffle among Democrats. Before I get to that, however, let's talk about what happened to American labor over the last 35 years.
It's often assumed that the U.S. labor movement died a natural death, that it was made obsolete by globalization and technological change. But what really happened is that beginning in the 1970s, corporate America, which had previously had a largely cooperative relationship with unions, in effect declared war on organized labor.
Don't take my word for it; read Business Week, which published an article in 2002 titled "How Wal-Mart Keeps Unions at Bay." The article explained that "over the past two decades, Corporate America has perfected its ability to fend off labor groups." It then described the tactics - some legal, some illegal, all involving a healthy dose of intimidation - that Wal-Mart and other giant firms use to block organizing drives.
These hardball tactics have been enabled by a political environment that has been deeply hostile to organized labor, both because politicians favored employers' interests and because conservatives sought to weaken the Democratic Party. "We're going to crush labor as a political entity," Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist, once declared.
But the times may be changing. A newly energized progressive movement seems to be on the ascendant, and unions are a key part of that movement. Most notably, the Service Employees International Union has played a key role in pushing for health care reform. And unions will be an important force in the Democrats' favor in next year's election.
Or maybe not - which brings us to the latest from Iowa.
Whoever receives the Democratic presidential nomination will receive labor's support in the general election. Meanwhile, however, unions are supporting favored candidates. Hillary Clinton - who for a time seemed the clear front-runner - has received the most union support. John Edwards, whose populist message resonates with labor, has also received considerable labor support.'
Lees verder: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/24/opinion/24krugman.html?ref=opinion Of: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122407N.shtml
Net zoals onder andere de Nederlandse regering de drugsbaronnen van Afghanistan aan de macht houdt, zo steunt Washington met belastinggeld Pakistaanse gangsters. De New York Times bericht:
'US Officials See Waste in Billions Sent to Pakistan By David Rohde, Carlotta Gall, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger The New York Times
Monday 24 December 2007
Islamabad, Pakistan - After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped.
In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they believed that much of the American money was not making its way to frontline Pakistani units. Money has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said, adding that the United States has paid tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs.
"I personally believe there is exaggeration and inflation," said a senior American military official who has reviewed the program, referring to Pakistani requests for reimbursement. "Then, I point back to the United States and say we didn't have to give them money this way."
Pakistani officials say they are incensed at what they see as American ingratitude for Pakistani counterterrorism efforts that have left about 1,000 Pakistani soldiers and police officers dead. They deny that any overcharging has occurred.
The $5 billion was provided through a program known as Coalition Support Funds, which reimburses Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism. Under a separate program, Pakistan receives $300 million per year in traditional American military financing that pays for equipment and training.
Civilian opponents of President Pervez Musharraf say he used the reimbursements to prop up his government. One European diplomat in Islamabad said the United States should have been more cautious with its aid.
"I wonder if the Americans have not been taken for a ride," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lawmakers in Washington voted Thursday to put restrictions on the $300 million in military financing, and withheld $50 million of that money until Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies that Islamabad has been restoring democratic rights since Mr. Musharraf lifted a state of emergency on Dec. 16. The measure had little effect on the far larger Coalition Support Funds reimbursements.'
Lees verder: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/24/world/asia/24military.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin Of:
'Zaak-Eric O. beïnvloed door maatjesgeest
"De waarheid raakt bij mariniers ondergeschikt aan de groepsregels."'
Aldus Trouw. Verbaast u dit? Mij ook niet. De waarheid ondergeschikt aan andere belangen? Dat is in de politiek ook zo, en in het dagelijks leven. En daarom is de enige juiste conclusie uit deze waarheid als een koe dat men geen oorlog moet beginnen. Want oorlog voeren is niets anders dan moorden. Of wist men dit nog niet? En wat men zeker niet moet doen is pathologische gevallen als Eric O. een wapen geven.
'De cultuur bij het korps mariniers werkt het afleggen van valse verklaringen in de hand. Dat ontdekte militair juriste Annelies Wesstra. De zaak-Eric O. is een voorbeeld.
Luitenant-ter-zee 3 Annelies Wesstra werkt als militair juriste bij de Koninklijke marine. Zij schreef de scriptie ’De militaire getuige: maatjesgeest of in de geest van de waarheid?’ Ze heeft naar aanleiding van de zaak Eric O. literatuurstudie gedaan naar de invloed van de cultuur en organisatie van de krijgsmacht op het waarheidsgehalte van verklaringen van militaire getuigen.
Die vraag is actueel door het opduiken van geluidsopnamen waaruit valt op te maken dat getuigen mogelijk valse verklaringen hebben afgelegd. De directe commandant van O. pleitte hem voor de rechtbank vrij van schuld aan de dood van een Irakees, maar verklaarde later dat hij O. de hand boven het hoofd heeft gehouden om de reputatie van het korps mariniers niet te schaden. Het in oktober afgeronde onderzoek van Wesstra bevestigt dat mechanisme. Elite-eenheden als het Korps Mariniers hebben een sterk ontwikkelde cultuur om de vuile was niet buiten te hangen. Dat kan leiden tot afwijkende normen. De wettelijke plicht om ’de gehele waarheid en niets anders dan de waarheid’ te spreken, raakt er ondergeschikt aan de informele regels van de groep. „Door een combinatie van zwijgen en het sluiten van de gelederen en de neiging van direct leidinggevenden om eventuele misstanden intern af te doen, kan niet meer van zichtbaarheid van gedrag en transparantie gesproken worden”, aldus Wesstra.'
zondag 23 december 2007
'Lakota group secedes from U.S.
Political activist Russell Means, a founder of the American Indian Movement, says he and other members of Lakota tribes have renounced treaties and are withdrawing from the United States.
"We are now a free country and independent of the United States of America," Means said in a telephone interview. "This is all completely legal."Means said a Lakota delegation on Monday delivered a statement of "unilateral withdrawal" from the United States to the U.S. State Department in Washington.The State Department did not respond. "That'll take some time," Means said.Meanwhile, the delegation has delivered copies of the letter to the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa. "We're asking for recognition," Means said, adding that Ireland and East Timor are "very interested" in the declaration.Other countries will get copies of the same declaration, which Means said also would be delivered to the United Nations and to state and county governments covered by treaties, including treaties signed in 1851 and 1868. "We're willing to negotiate with any American political entity," Means said.The United States could face international pressure if it doesn't agree to negotiate, Means said. "The United State of America is an outlaw nation, we now know. We've understood that as a people for 155 years."Means also said his group would file liens on property in parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming that were illegally homesteaded.The Web site for the declaration, "Lakota Freedom," briefly crashed Thursday as wire services picked up the story and the server was overwhelmed, Means said.Delegation member Phyllis Young said in an online statement: "We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren." Young was an organizer of Women of All Red Nations.Other members of the delegation include Rapid City-area activist Duane Martin Sr. and Gary Rowland, a leader of the Chief Big Foot Riders.Means said anyone could live in the Lakota Nation, tax free, as long as they renounced their U.S. citizenship. The nation would issue drivers licenses and passports, but each community would be independent. "It will be the epitome of individual liberty, with community control," Means said.'
Sanford, North Carolina -
"Maybe finaly I can get some peace," said the 20-year-old, misspelling "finally" but writing in a neat hand.
His parents didn't find out about the note for well over a year, and only then when it showed up in a government envelope in his father's rural North Carolina mailbox.
The one-page missive was among hundreds of pages of documents the soldier's family obtained and shared with The Associated Press after battling a military bureaucracy they feel didn't want to answer their questions, especially this: Why did Jason Scheuerman have to die?
What the soldier's father, Chris, would learn about his son's final days would lead the retired Special Forces commando, who teaches at Fort Bragg, to take on the very institution he's spent his life serving - and ultimately prompt an investigation by the Army Inspector General's office.
The documents, obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests filed by Chris Scheuerman, reveal a troubled soldier kept in Iraq despite repeated signs he was going to kill himself, including placing the muzzle of his weapon in his mouth multiple times.
Jason Scheuerman's story - pieced together with interviews and information in the documents - demonstrates how he was failed by the very support system that was supposed to protect him. In his case, a psychologist told his commanders to send him back to his unit because he was capable of feigning mental illness to get out of the Army.
He is not alone. At least 152 U.S. troops have taken their own lives in Iraq and Afghanistan since the two wars started, contributing to the Army's highest suicide rate in 26 years of keeping track. For the grieving parents, the answers don't come easily or quickly.
For Jason Scheuerman, death came on July 30, 2005, around 5:30 p.m., about 45 minutes after his first sergeant told the teary-eyed private that if he was intentionally misbehaving so he could leave the Army, he would go to jail where he would be abused.
When the call came out over the unit's radios that there had been a death, one soldier would later tell investigators he suspected it was Scheuerman.
Scheuerman spent his early years on military posts playing GI Joe. The middle child, he divided his time after his parents' divorce between his mother's house in Lynchburg, Va., and his father's in North Carolina where he went to high school.
He was nearly 6 feet tall and loved to eat. His mother, Anne, said sometimes at 10 p.m. she'd find him defrosting chicken to grill.
Likable and witty, he often joked around - even dressing up like a clown one night at church camp, said his pastor, Mike Cox of West Lynchburg Baptist Church. But he had a quiet, reflective side, too, and sometimes withdrew, Cox said.'
'So what have we done to them
by Nehemia Shtrasler
December 20, 2007
An old Jewish joke tells of a devoted mother who briefs her son before he sets out to battle: "Kill a Turk and rest," she advises. But the son asks: "And what happens if in fact the Turk tries to kill me?" She opens her eyes wide in surprise: "Why would he want to kill you? What have you done to him?" This is exactly the kind of self-righteousness that accompanies our attitude toward the Palestinians. It is evident in the reports on the television, radio and in the newspapers -- which paint only a partial picture of the conflict. Because when considerations of ratings and just plain cowardice determine coverage, the information the public gets is biased. In this way an extremist public opinion is created, which believes that all of the justice is on our side only, because "what have we done to them?" Last Wednesday, the media reported the severe rocket attack on Sderot. Twenty rockets landed on the city and Mayor Eli Moyal resigned on live radio. The broadcasts, on all three television channels, were dramatic. Reporters interviewed furious residents who demanded immediate and harsh military action in the Gaza Strip. One of the Qassams hit the home of Aliza Amar, and she was taken in moderate condition to Barzilai Medical center in Ashkelon.
It is clear that the situation in Sderot and the Gaza-envelope locales is very difficult and is deserving of comprehensive coverage. However, the story also has other angles -- which the television channels are not presenting at all. None of the channels saw fit to remind its viewers that several days prior to the attack on Sderot, the Israel Defense Forces had begun an extensive action in Gaza, the second largest since the disengagement. Last Tuesday, the day before the barrage on Sderot, three people were killed in Gaza by a tank shell fired into a house southeast of Khan Yunis. Two more were killed by a bomb dropped by a plane on their car and another "met his death" in the area of Beit Hanoun. According to the IDF, all of the dead were terror activists, members of the Islamic Jihad. A total of 13 people were killed in the action and 40 were arrested for interrogation. The Islamic Jihad announced that it would take revenge and the following day the barrage of rockets landed on Sderot. The connection is clear. But it doesn't film well. To talk about Arabs "avenging" their dead really does not serve the ratings. It is much easier and popular to show only one side of the story, the suffering of Sderot's inhabitants. That way the story becomes simple: bad and irrational Arabs who are firing on us for no reason.'
Lees meer over dit college over zionisme: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=14546