Monday, October 11, 2010

'Chinese Warhol' Famed Artist Ai Weiwei Celebrates Dissident Liu Xiaobo Nobel Prize Win

Prominent Chinese artist and human rights activist, Ai Weiwei, on Friday celebrated the Nobel peace prize being awarded to his friend, jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.Ai was speaking in London, where he is soon to exhibit some of his work at the Tate Gallery.

The wife of the Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo comments on his trial with a verdict sentencing him to 11 years of jail that won him [the] Nobel Peace Prize.

'Another Way: Food Security through Food Sovereignty'

From In Kenya, Farmers Grow Their Own Way by Heather Day, Travis English, YES! Magazine

But the new green revolution ignores groups like the Tumaini Women's Group: the thousands of grassroots, African-led efforts that, like AGRA's programs, are designed to boost production and generate income, but which—unlike AGRA—use methods that nourish the soil, cool the planet, build community, and empower farmers. As members of the Seattle-based campaign AGRA Watch, we came to Kenya to see some of this work firsthand.

Again and again, the farmers we met discussed the importance of controlling their own food sources—what the international peasant movement La Via Campesina calls “food sovereignty."

Food sovereignty, as defined in the "Declaration of Nyéléni," a document produced by a gathering of farmers in Mali in 2007, is the “right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”  Food sovereignty requires the democratization of our food system, with people, not corporations, in control.

Florence is the leader of the Tumaini Women's Group and the hostess of the seed-saving workshop we had come to witness. At 72 years of age, she has transitioned away from chemical farming and transformed her land into a demonstration farm where others come to learn. She took us on a tour and proudly showed off her robust maize crop, one of over 30 crops she was growing.

Florence explained that the Tumaini women's group consists of 23 widows, ranging from 72 to 102 years old, who collectively care for 73 orphans. The women lost their husbands and many of their children to the AIDS epidemic and are now responsible for the younger generation of grandchildren. She explained the importance of teaching the children how to grow their own food using sustainable, locally controlled methods: “We are getting old, and as the orphans grow up, we want them to sustain themselves, so we are teaching them how they can be self-sustaining through agriculture and other business.”

It was Florence who asked Samuel Nderuti, our guide, to teach her and the other members of the Tumaini group about another approach to agriculture. Samuel and his wife, Peris, are the directors and founders of Grow BioIntensive Agricultural Centre of Kenya, or GBIACK. Both are graduates of the Manor House Agricultural Centre in Kitale, Kenya, which, unlike many agricultural schools, teaches students ecological farming methods and gives them tools to organize whole communities to become self-sufficient and food secure. A key component of this approach is its emphasis on self-reliance: Farmers are taught how to grow sufficient food for themselves and their families using locally available, affordable resources, while also generating income to send their children to school and pay for other necessities.

~ more... ~

Inside The Global Banking Intelligence Complex, BCCI Operations

By David DeGraw, The Public Record

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of David DeGraw's new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” Read the introduction here. Part I can be read here.

To get a more complete understanding of our current crisis, we need to look at the history of events that led up to it. We need to peer deeply into the inner workings of the Global Banking Intelligence Complex. Without acknowledging and exposing the covert forces that are aligned against us, we will not be able to effectively overcome them.

In the past I have shied away from going too deeply into the details of the intelligence world out of fear of being written off and dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. If I hadn't spent the majority of the past 20 years investigating global financial intelligence operations, I certainly wouldn't believe half of this myself. Given the severity of our current crisis and the imminent devastating implications, I now realize that I must go deeper into covert activities than I publicly ever have. The information I am about to report is very well-sourced and documented, and needs to be covered before we can proceed to exposing present operations.

I: All Roads Go Through BCCI

Here is a partial list of the economic and political scandals that I investigated throughout the 1980s and early '90s:

  • The Savings & Loan scandal;
  • Stock market manipulation and money laundering;
  • Iran-Contra Affair;
  • The October Surprise and Iran hostage crisis;
  • Iraqgate-BNL and the rise and funding of Saddam Hussein;
  • Pakistan's nuclear program and the selling of bomb-making technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea;
  • The rise and funding of the Afghan Mujahideen (founding and funding of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network);
  • Illegal weapon sales to Iran and Saudi Arabia;
  • The proliferation of Middle Eastern terrorism;
  • The international drug trade run by people like Manuel Noriega and Pablo Escobar.
  • All of these scandals had one vital thing in common, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

    ~ more... ~

    Lawmakers Struggle to Address Foreclosure Fiasco

    Congressional lawmakers are struggling to come up with a quick fix to the foreclosure fiasco that has threatened the economic recovery and thrown a monkey wrench into their re-election campaigns.

    Hearings. Investigations. Court orders. Moratoriums. These are among the many options being floated by members of Congress as they try to demonstrate their sensitivity to the problem and eagerness to address it. The latest housing mess has handed them a new dilemma just when it seemed the economy couldn't be more of a drag on incumbents. And while some warn a heavy-handed government response could make a bad situation worse, others are calling for across-the-board government intervention.

    "The fundamental fairness of the entire foreclosure process is now in serious doubt," the bipartisan members of Maryland's congressional delegation, along with Gov. Martin O'Malley, wrote in a letter to the state's highest court Sunday. They requested a minimum 60-day foreclosure suspension in their state.

    Others are calling for a national freeze.

    The calls for immediate action come after some of the nation's biggest banks put foreclosures on hold following revelations that lenders may have used flawed paperwork to evict homeowners.

    ~ more... ~

    U.S. system to find, help victims of human trafficking is broken

    By Mike McGraw and Laura Bauer, The Kansas City Star

    Sebastian Pereria told a friend last year about his life in America.

    How he wanted to see his wife and children in India, but his boss kept his identification papers and wouldn't let him go.

    Other waiters who worked with him at a Topeka restaurant told of how they were forced to work 13-hour days, six days a week. They talked of how the boss underpaid them and pocketed their tips.

    In the end, Pereria, 46, got his wish. He finally arrived home last year.

    In a coffin.

    The U.S. government could not help Pereria, even though they said he fit the criteria for being a human trafficking victim. Other waiters he worked with got help and were rescued from the Globe Indian Restaurant. But for Pereria, even in death, a judge remained unconvinced.

    America declared war on human trafficking nearly a decade ago. With a new law and much fanfare, the government pledged to end such human rights abuses at home and prodded the rest of the world to follow its example.

    But an investigation by The Kansas City Star found that, in spite of all the rhetoric from the Bush and Obama administrations, the United States is failing to find and help tens of thousands of human trafficking victims in America.

    ~ more... ~

    ~ The complete series of articles: Human Trafficking in America ~

    Economic Thought in Ancient Greece

    Jesús Huerta de Soto writes: The intellectual odyssey that laid the foundations for Western civilization began in classical Greece. Unfortunately, Greek thinkers failed in their attempt to grasp the essential principles of the spontaneous market order and of the dynamic process of social cooperation which surrounded them. While we must acknowledge the important Greek contributions in the areas of epistemology, logic, ethics, and even the conception of natural law, the Greeks failed miserably to see the need for the development of a discipline, economic science, devoted to the study of the spontaneous processes of social cooperation that comprise the market.

    What is even worse is that when the first intellectuals emerged, so did the symbiosis and complicity between thinkers and rulers. From the beginning, the great majority of intellectuals embraced statism and systematically undervalued and even criticized and denigrated the society of trade, commerce, and crafts that flourished around them.

    It may be too much to ask that, from the very dawn of philosophical and scientific knowledge, the Greeks would comprehend even the basics of political economy, a discipline that is still among the youngest of all the sciences and seeks to study a reality as abstract and difficult to understand as the spontaneous market order. However, it is worth noting that the Greek philosophers, like today's intellectuals, could not avoid the scientistic conceit of believing themselves qualified to impose their own points of view on their fellow citizens via systematic government coercion. History repeats itself over and over, and even today we have progressed very little in this sense.

    [ ... ]

    A Brief Note on Taoism.

    Lastly, it is very interesting to note that, during the same era when classical Greek thought was being forged (from the 6th to the 4th century BC), ancient China saw the beginnings of three great currents of thought: that of the so-called "Legalists" (who supported the centralized state), that of the Confucianists (who tolerated it), and that of the Taoists, of a much more liberal bent and extremely interesting for historians of economic thought. Chuang Tzu (369–286 BC) goes as far as to say that "good order results spontaneously when things are let alone." In his criticism of the interventionism of rulers, he describes them as "robbers." Also, according to Rothbard, Chuang Tzu was the first anarchist thinker in history. In fact, Chuang Tzu wrote that the world "does simply not need governing; in fact it should not be governed at all."

    Chuang Tzu adhered to the individualistic, liberal views of Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, and took them to their most logical conclusions. In Confucius's day (from the 6th to the 5th century BC), Lao Tzu concluded that government oppressed the individual and was always "more to be feared than fierce tigers."

    ~ more... ~

    Debts Wiped Out for 140,000 Payday Loan Customers

    It took six years, 17,000 billable hours, three law firms and three public justice organizations, but in the end they managed to wrestle a payday loan company  in North Carolina into a settling with thousands of unhappy customers. “We have had great reaction from clients,” says Paul Bland, with the Public Justice organization in Washington, DC. “The settlement was a compromise. But we faced enormous legal challenges and we made the decision that this was a good settlement compared to the risks going forward.”

    The payday loan industry is notoriously hard-nosed and has deep pockets when it comes to fighting lawsuits. However, Advance America, the largest payday lender in the US, agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle a class action suit that argued it had contravened North Carolina's state usury laws. Class members—about 140,000 Advance America customers in North Carolina—will get back at least some of the lending costs they paid out.

    According to the suit, Advance America was charging annual interest rates of somewhere between 350 and 500 percent. “We had one client, for example, who borrowed $200. They made $2000 in payments to Advance America and still owed the principle,” says Bland, who took or read at least 50 depositions in the case against Advance America and talked to dozens of expert witnesses.

    ~ more... ~


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