brad brace


Fertility Rate Alarming

Filed under: disease/health,fiji,philippines,tuvalu — admin @ 4:12 am

The United Nations Fund for Population Development has revealed that Fiji is rated in the same category as the Philippines and Tuvalu in terms of teenage fertility and this is an alarming rate as young mothers are at high risk of losing their babies or their lives.

Fiji, the Philippines and Tuvalu fertility rate is currently at 40 percent, with the young mothers likely to lose their babies or their lives through their young age or through the lack of qualified professionals especially in developing countries.

Following concerns about the shortage of nurses and doctors, UNFPA Sub Regional Director, Najib Assifi said the shortage should not be taken lightly as the matter concerns lives.

The Fiji School of Medicine had recently started their Reproductive Health Training Programme where Acting Dean Robert Mould said that they are trying to address the issue of having trained professionals to attend to births.



Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:22 am

Papua New Guinea Urged by Human Rights Group to Check Police Abuses

Filed under: global islands,png,police — admin @ 4:55 am

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a Washington based group, has called for Papua New Guinea police officers to be held accountable for use of torture and sexual assault. HRW has written a letter to the government addressing their concerns.

HRW’s letter is based on information from its reports in 2004 and 2005 that show “regular police torture, rape, and use excessive force against children; police commonly committing acts of sexual violence, including against female sex workers, and men and boys suspected of homosexual conduct; police harassing persons found carrying condoms, which undermines efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; police routinely detaining children with adults in police lock-ups; and police rarely being punished for these acts.” According to HRW, these actions violate Papua New Guinea laws and regulations and also breach international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The most applicable sections of the ICCPR are Articles 7 and 10 which prohibit the use of torture and require that detainees be treated with respect.

HRW spokesperson Zama Coursen-Neff has said it is important to focus on both short and long term measures to address the abuse of powers by police officers. She has also called on Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi and Police Commissioner Gari Baki to charge any member of the police force who used excessive force while on duty. Ms. Coursen-Neff thinks actions should be pursued against the officers both administratively and criminally.

HRW has also, however, commended Papua New Guinea in its recent steps towards guaranteeing respect for fundamental human rights with its accession to international conventions, including the above-mentioned ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Ms. Coursen-Neff has said, “The current Police Commissioner is beginning to speak openly about human rights and talk about the need to clean up the police force. And the Ombudsman Commission is actually now involved in some of the more serious cases, however this has simply not translated into an expectation among police that if they beat up children, if they rape girls, if they steal things from street vendors, then they’re going to be prosecuted.”

HRW is an independent, nongovernmental organization that started in 1978 and tracks progress in over 70 countries throughout the world.


Crocodiles enjoy gun-free Solomon Islands

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands,wildlife — admin @ 4:06 am

Attempts to turn Solomon Islands into a gun-free society has had an unintended deadly side effect.

It’s lead in part, to an increase in the number of fatal crocodile attacks.

Guns were banned on Solomon Islands following racial tensions and the arrival in 2003 of the Australian lead Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI.

Solomon Islands Acting Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, said at least six people have been killed by crocodiles in the past 18 months.

“We have various reports from around the provinces in Solomon Islands… of crocodiles entering into locations where fishermen are present or where children are bathing or where families are bathing and the reports that we are getting is that the number of crocodiles is increasing,” he said.


The Iraq War Will Cost $3 Trillion, and Much More

Filed under: corporate-greed,usa,wealth — admin @ 4:43 am

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.

Some people will scoff at that number, but we’ve done the math. Senior Bush administration aides certainly pooh-poohed worrisome estimates in the run-up to the war. Former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey reckoned that the conflict would cost $100 billion to $200 billion; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld later called his estimate “baloney.” Administration officials insisted that the costs would be more like $50 billion to $60 billion. In April 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, the thoughtful head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said on “Nightline” that reconstructing Iraq would cost the American taxpayer just $1.7 billion. Ted Koppel, in disbelief, pressed Natsios on the question, but Natsios stuck to his guns. Others in the administration, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, hoped that U.S. partners would chip in, as they had in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or that Iraq’s oil would pay for the damages.

The end result of all this wishful thinking? As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Iraq is not only the second longest war in U.S. history (after Vietnam), it is also the second most costly — surpassed only by World War II.

Why doesn’t the public understand the staggering scale of our expenditures? In part because the administration talks only about the upfront costs, which are mostly handled by emergency appropriations. (Iraq funding is apparently still an emergency five years after the war began.) These costs, by our calculations, are now running at $12 billion a month — $16 billion if you include Afghanistan. By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we’ll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.

But the costs to our society and economy are far greater. When a young soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her family will receive a U.S. government check for just $500,000 (combining life insurance with a “death gratuity”) — far less than the typical amount paid by insurance companies for the death of a young person in a car accident. The stark “budgetary cost” of $500,000 is clearly only a fraction of the total cost society pays for the loss of life — and no one can ever really compensate the families. Moreover, disability pay seldom provides adequate compensation for wounded troops or their families. Indeed, in one out of five cases of seriously injured soldiers, someone in their family has to give up a job to take care of them.

But beyond this is the cost to the already sputtering U.S. economy. All told, the bill for the Iraq war is likely to top $3 trillion. And that’s a conservative estimate.

President Bush tried to sell the American people on the idea that we could have a war with little or no economic sacrifice. Even after the United States went to war, Bush and Congress cut taxes, especially on the rich — even though the United States already had a massive deficit. So the war had to be funded by more borrowing. By the end of the Bush administration, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the cumulative interest on the increased borrowing used to fund them, will have added about $1 trillion to the national debt.

The long-term burden of paying for the conflicts will curtail the country’s ability to tackle other urgent problems, no matter who wins the presidency in November. Our vast and growing indebtedness inevitably makes it harder to afford new health-care plans, make large-scale repairs to crumbling roads and bridges, or build better-equipped schools. Already, the escalating cost of the wars has crowded out spending on virtually all other discretionary federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and federal aid to states and cities, all of which have been scaled back significantly since the invasion of Iraq.

To make matters worse, the U.S. economy is facing a recession. But our ability to implement a truly effective economic-stimulus package is crimped by expenditures of close to $200 billion on the two wars this year alone and by a skyrocketing national debt.

The United States is a rich and strong country, but even rich and strong countries squander trillions of dollars at their peril. Think what a difference $3 trillion could make for so many of the United States’ — or the world’s — problems. We could have had a Marshall Plan to help desperately poor countries, winning the hearts and maybe the minds of Muslim nations now gripped by anti-Americanism. In a world with millions of illiterate children, we could have achieved literacy for all — for less than the price of a month’s combat in Iraq. We worry about China’s growing influence in Africa, but the upfront cost of a month of fighting in Iraq would pay for more than doubling our annual current aid spending on Africa.

Closer to home, we could have funded countless schools to give children locked in the underclass a shot at decent lives. Or we could have tackled the massive problem of Social Security, which Bush began his second term hoping to address; for far, far less than the cost of the war, we could have ensured the solvency of Social Security for the next half a century or more.

Economists used to think that wars were good for the economy, a notion born out of memories of how the massive spending of World War II helped bring the United States and the world out of the Great Depression. But we now know far better ways to stimulate an economy — ways that quickly improve citizens’ well-being and lay the foundations for future growth. But money spent paying Nepalese workers in Iraq (or even Iraqi ones) doesn’t stimulate the U.S. economy the way that money spent at home would — and it certainly doesn’t provide the basis for long-term growth the way investments in research, education or infrastructure would.

Another worry: This war has been particularly hard on the economy because it led to a spike in oil prices. Before the 2003 invasion, oil cost less than $25 a barrel, and futures markets expected it to remain around there. (Yes, China and India were growing by leaps and bounds, but cheap supplies from the Middle East were expected to meet their demands.) The war changed that equation, and oil prices recently topped $100 per barrel.

While Washington has been spending well beyond its means, others have been saving — including the oil-rich countries that, like the oil companies, have been among the few winners of this war. No wonder, then, that China, Singapore and many Persian Gulf emirates have become lenders of last resort for troubled Wall Street banks, plowing in billions of dollars to shore up Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other firms that burned their fingers on subprime mortgages. How long will it be before the huge sovereign wealth funds controlled by these countries begin buying up large shares of other U.S. assets?

The Bush team, then, is not merely handing over the war to the next administration; it is also bequeathing deep economic problems that have been seriously exacerbated by reckless war financing. The US faces an economic downturn that’s likely to be the worst in more than a quarter-century.

Until recently, many marveled at the way the United States could spend hundreds of billions of dollars on oil and blow through hundreds of billions more in Iraq with what seemed to be strikingly little short-run impact on the economy. But there’s no great mystery here. The economy’s weaknesses were concealed by the Federal Reserve, which pumped in liquidity, and by regulators that looked away as loans were handed out well beyond borrowers’ ability to repay them. Meanwhile, banks and credit-rating agencies pretended that financial alchemy could convert bad mortgages into AAA assets, and the Fed looked the other way as the U.S. household-savings rate plummeted to zero.

It’s a bleak picture. The total loss from this economic downturn — measured by the disparity between the economy’s actual output and its potential output — is likely to be the greatest since the Great Depression. That total, itself well in excess of $1 trillion, is not included in the estimated $3 trillion cost of the war.

Others will have to work out the geopolitics, but the economics here are clear. Ending the war, or at least moving rapidly to wind it down, would yield major economic dividends.

As we head toward November, opinion polls say that voters’ main worry is now the economy, not the war. But there’s no way to disentangle the two. The United States will be paying the price of Iraq for decades to come. The price tag will be all the greater because we tried to ignore the laws of economics — and the cost will grow the longer the U.S. remains.


Artificial Islands of Malaita

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands — admin @ 4:47 am

If you think that artificial islands could only be found in Dubai, then you are wrong.

Apparently, you could also find artificial islands in the Solomon Islands that existed many generations before.

Malaita Province is known to be the most populous island in the Solomon Islands. Because of this, Malaita also caters for a large number of artificial islands especially found on the LangaLanga and Lau lagoon.

According to some people, artificial islands were built by outcasts of inland villages or some were said to have been built because of the growing population

It was said that villagers usually collect or dive for boulders or stones to throw on top of the raised reefs, depending on how high and wide they want the island to be. The activity is usually supervised by the elders of the village.

According to some people from Malaita, these artificial islands were skills from their ancestors which had been passed down through generations.

Over time, more artificial islands were built and even expanded to cater for the growing population. Surprisingly, trees also grow on these islands.

“We have direct fresh air when we are on the island and it is also easier to catch sea food and although we have to travel to the mainland for water, living on the artificial island is what we are used to and prefer,” said Mr. Matthew Kaonia from Malaita province.

It has been estimated that almost 12,000 Malaita people in the Langalanga and Lau Lagoon live on the artificial islands.

And over time, the artificial islands have become an icon for the Solomon Islands just like that of the Bamboo Bands, Kennedy Island in Western Province, the Marovo Lagoon and Lake Tengano in the Rennell Bellona Province.


Some Lau historians remember the beginning this way:

The ancestors, who were descended from worms, lived on a mountain above the jungled folds of Malaita. One day, a hero named Golo’au ventured forth from the mountain to discover the promised land, which was not land at all but a vast, reef-protected lagoon fringing the island’s northwest coast. Golo’au and his kin built rafts from bamboo and they paddled out onto that calm water. They pulled hunks of coral rock from the shallow bottom and piled them upon each other until they had created islands on which they could build thatch houses. The Lau raised their children on the water, safe from the headhunters and mosquitoes that populated the bush. Fish filled their nets. Life was good. When the ancestors died, their spirits did not leave the lagoon. Instead, they inhabited the bodies of sharks and birds and, together with other spirit creatures, they were able to protect their descendants with their magic.

For centuries the Lau people honoured the spirits by following their edicts and killing pigs for them. The priests of the Rere clan offered regular blood sacrifices to the speckled octopus that inhabited the reef near the island of Foueda, ensuring the octopus would protect them from the dangers of the sea. “The octopus took care of people,” the man with the scarified cheeks told me. “If they were lost at sea, he would bring them home. If they were drowning, he would save them.” Sometimes the octopus would crawl right up out of the sea into a priest’s canoe to let him know it was time for a sacrifice. It would crawl onto land, too. If you left a basket of food outside your door, the octopus would plunk himself down on top of it and engulf it. He preferred pork to fruit.

The Rere priests had kept the octopus’s name a secret so that lay people, fools, and enemies could not abuse its power.

You could call this story a myth, which is to say that historical accuracy is irrelevant to its truths. The archipelago that surrounds the Lau Lagoon has gained a reputation as a veritable Disneyland for anthropologists interested in this kind of narrative. The big guns of early twentieth century anthropology—Bronisaw Malinowski, W. H. Rivers, Maurice Leenhardt, and others—were convinced by their time in Melanesia that the real function of mythic stories was not to entertain but to serve as vehicles for moral and existential truths. They carried rules for living, values, messages from the ancestors. They told islanders about the most essential parts of themselves. They were metaphors, yes, but they were always sustained by lived experience. And as far as the islanders were concerned, whenever they obeyed the rules set out by their ancestors, they prospered.

But in an era of global cultural convergence, myths can shift as fluidly as the tides that push in and out of the Lau Lagoon. Waves of Christian evangelists have now convinced most Pacific islanders, including the Lau, to trade their guiding myths for those of the Bible.

The Lau had a complex and dangerous relationship with the spirit world. Life was governed by strict taboos handed down by the ancestors. Women were associated with the earth and fertility; life-giving power flowed from their vaginas. Men were associated with the sky, and they were careful not to violate the cosmic order by coming into contact with menstrual blood or by placing themselves below a woman’s pelvis. The people built walls in their villages to protect the most sacred aspects of life. Women retreated to their sanctuaries to menstruate and give birth. Male priests made their sacrifices at rock shrines and skull pits in their own enclosures.


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 9:10 am

Tok Pisin = English

tok baksait = gossip about
tok bilas = ridicule
tok bilong bipo yet = fable / myth
tok bilong ol tumbuna = tradition of ancestors
tok bokis = secret language / parable
tok grisim = flatter
tok gude = greet
tok gumi = tall tale
tok hait = secret
tok insait = conscience
tok pait = controversy
tok ples = local language
tok tru = speak the truth / truth
toktok = talk / conversation
tokautim sin / confess
tokim = tell
toksave = advertisement / information / explain
tok save long = explain
toktok long = talk about
toktok wantaim = converse with
tokwin = rumour

U.N. watchdog denounces police killings in Brazil

Filed under: brazil,police — admin @ 5:11 am

Police frequently kill criminal suspects and ordinary citizens in Brazil, driving up the homicide rate in what is already one of the world’s most violent countries, the United Nations said on Monday.

In a 49-page report, the U.N. Human Rights Council also concluded that a sizable portion of the Brazilian population in high-crime areas supports extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice in the absence of an efficient criminal justice system.

While police killings are commonplace all across the South American country, the problem is most pronounced in the tourist mecca of Rio de Janeiro, according to Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on unlawful killings, who visited Brazil at the invitation of the government.

“In Rio de Janeiro, the police kill three people every day. They are responsible for one out of every five killings,” Alston said in the report, which was based on a 10-day fact-finding mission to Brazil last November.

The report found that on-duty police officers using deadly force are only part of the problem. A large number of off-duty officers routinely moonlight as members of death squads and take part in other forms of organized crime, it said.

The report singled out the proliferation of so-called militias as especially worrisome. These groups, mostly made up of off-duty and retired police officers, originated as private security providers in Rio’s violent slums but evolved into extortion rackets that frequently mete out summary justice.

“A remarkable number of police lead double lives,” Alston said. “While on duty, they fight the drug gangs, but on their days off, they work as foot soldiers of organized crime.”

Another hot spot for police violence is the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where Alston estimated that 70 percent of all homicides are committed by death squads made up of off-duty and retired officers.

The report identified a handful of factors that may drive police to take part in organized crime, such as poor salaries and a shift structure with long hours that is followed by several consecutive days off.

But the most important factor contributing to police killings may be Brazil’s shabby criminal justice system, which seldom achieves convictions even in ordinary murder cases. The report found that, in Sao Paulo, only 10 percent of homicides ever go to trial.

Alston also offered some recommendations on how to reduce police violence. They included higher salaries for police, better forensics, an improved witness protection program and a series of measures aimed at holding officers accountable for unlawful behavior and the use of excessive force.


Over 600,000 people stranded in Bangladesh floods

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands,weather — admin @ 6:27 am

At least 600,000 people have been stranded in Bangladesh in serious flooding.

The army has been called in to help people trapped by the floods.

Much of the country is under water as a result of the monsoon rains, which have caused the rivers to breach their banks.

The worst-hit areas are the districts of Sirajaganj and Bogra, where 14,000 people have sought shelter in relief centres.

The neighbouring Indian state of Bihar has also been affected by flooding, which has been caused by the monsoon rains of the past weeks.

So far nearly 100 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless.


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 9:46 am

Weathering Winds of Change

Filed under: weather — admin @ 9:27 am

The situation is really now quite alarming for the pastoralist community, especially where I come from, explains Jane Naini Meriwas, a Yaaku from Kenya (Africa). Traditionally, we say that in this season it is rain, in this other season it is dry. So the community makes plans. As my community is nomadic, we move with the livestock. If it will be a very long dry spell, then we use a traditional set-up where we select places where animals can graze, and other places that we will protect. And then other times, we will move. So when it is dry, people migrate. However, if you cross from your own district to this other district, there are already people there. We border with the Samburu, Borana and Bantu. The people here do agriculture. Also we border with other settlers. The lands that are actually left to graze have become really limited. In 2000, we really experienced a lot of drought. For a whole year there was no rain. It was terrible. The drought forced the community to migrate. It was so alarming that the government had to open the very big Park Mount Kenya where they gave the pastoralists permission to take their animals. But to move to Mount Kenya, you have to walk 100 km along a fenced road. The animals are weak and because it’s fenced, they don’t have water or grass. So thousands of animals died along the road. You can find many carcasses when you go to Mount Kenya. Since 2001 the rain pattern has now changed completely. When the rain pattern changes, there is no way to prepare the community.

In my own part of the country, the winters are clearly not as cold as they used to be. Nor is there as much snow, reports Doug Kiel, an Oneida Indian from Wisconsin, USA (North America). Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes are a tremendously important natural resource and we usually fish them year-round, even after they freeze over in the winter. But the winters are getting warmer, and in recent years this has not always been possible. When I was a child, the lakes froze over in December and did not thaw until nearly April. Now, the lakes do not freeze until much later into the winter – if at all – and the ice is often dangerously thin. And now when the lakes do freeze, they don’t stay frozen. The water is getting warmer during the summer months as well, and this threatens the walleye and trout, two of our most important cold-water fish species.

Before the fifties, we used to depend on the knowledge of our old folks, observes Iteli Tiatia from Samoa (South Pacific). These old people know what wind is blowing just by feeling the wind or looking up at the tree tops. They have names for winds from any direction, like the TO’ELAU, LA’I, LA’ILUA, TUA’OLOA and many others. But wind patterns have dramatically changed, the direction but also the timing. For example, the old folks know in which months hurricanes are possible: Late January, February and March were the worst months; November and December used to be the best. But Hurricane Valerie, one of the most destructive in Samoa, was in December 1991. Moreover, in the past, a hurricane used to come in one direction and eventually fade out once you hear strong lightning and loud thunder. That’s when these old folks would say in Samoan “Ua taliligia le matagi – the hurricane is being shaken”. However for Hurricane Valerie in 1991, it did not end till it covered the four directions and it did not end despite strong lightning and heavy thunder while at its most destructive power.

Pre-emptive Police Attacks

Filed under: government,human rights,police,usa — admin @ 4:17 am

In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention, the FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force actively recruited people to infiltrate vegan groups and other leftist organizations and report back about their activities. On May 21, the Minneapolis City Pages ran a recruiting story called “Moles Wanted.” Law enforcement sought to pre-empt lawful protest against the policies of the Bush administration during the convention.

Since Friday, local police and sheriffs, working with the FBI, conducted pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. Glenn Greenwald described the targeting of protesters by “teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.” Journalists were detained at gunpoint and lawyers representing detainees were handcuffed at the scene.

“I was personally present and saw officers with riot gear and assault rifles, pump action shotguns,” said Bruce Nestor, the president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who is representing several of the protesters. “The neighbor of one of the houses had a gun pointed in her face when she walked out on her back porch to see what was going on. There were children in all of these houses, and children were held at gunpoint.”

The raids targeted members of “Food Not Bombs,” an antiwar, anti-authoritarian protest group that provides free vegetarian meals every week in hundreds of cities all over the world. They served meals to rescue workers at the World Trade Center after 9/11 and to nearly 20 communities in the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.

Also targeted, were members of I-Witness Video, a media watchdog group that monitors the police to protect civil liberties. The group worked with the National Lawyers Guild to gain the dismissal of charges or acquittals of about 400 of the 1,800 who were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Pre-emptive policing was used at that time as well. Police infiltrated protest groups in advance of the convention.

Nestor said that no violence or illegality has taken place to justify the arrests. “Seizing boxes of political literature shows the motive of these raids was political,” he said.

Further evidence of the political nature of the police action was the boarding up of the Convergence Center, where protesters had gathered, for unspecified code violations. St. Paul City Council member David Thune said, “Normally we only board up buildings that are vacant and ramshackle.” Thune and fellow City Council member Elizabeth Glidden decried “actions that appear excessive and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

“So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do,” Greenwald wrote on Salon.

Preventive detention violates the Fourth Amendment, which requires that warrants be supported by probable cause. protesters were charged with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely-used statute that is so vague, it is probably unconstitutional. Nestor said it “basically criminalizes political advocacy.”

On Sunday, the National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality filed an emergency motion requesting an injunction to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cellular phones used to document their conduct.

During Monday’s demonstration, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. At least 284 people were arrested, including Amy Goodman, the prominent host of “Democracy Now!,” as well as the show’s producers, Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. “St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city to be,” Greenwald wrote, “with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.”

Bruce Nestor said the timing of the arrests was intended to stop protest activity, “to make people fearful of the protests, but also to discourage people from protesting,” he told Amy Goodman. Nevertheless, 10,000 people, many opposed to the Iraq war, turned out to demonstrate on Monday. A legal team from the National Lawyers Guild has been working diligently to protect the constitutional rights of protesters.


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:01 am

African migrants die on route to Spain’s Canary Islands

Filed under: canary islands,global islands,intra-national — admin @ 4:32 am

Fourteen African migrants died, mostly of hypothermia, trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands by boat after they became lost at sea several times, local officials said Wednesday.

The wooden fishing boat carrying 46 passengers and the bodies of 13 others was spotted by a police patrol boat in the early hours of Wednesday which escorted it to the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria, a spokesman for the regional government said.

Later, the body of an African man was found not far from the area where the ship was first spotted and “everything indicates” that the deceased has been on the vessel.

“We believe they had a very difficult crossing, they may have been at sea for eight to 12 days and they got lost several times and the motor broke down,” said the head of the Red Cross in Las Palmas, the capital of the Canaries.

“They spent much time adrift, most people died from hypothermia,” he told public radio RNE.

Four of the 46 migrants were taken to hospital while 10 others were treated by the Red Cross at the port after they disembarked from the fishing boat.

The archipelago off the Atlantic coast of northwest Africa has been a magnet in recent years for African migrants aspiring to reach Europe.

Migrants traditionally attempted to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to get to the Spanish mainland but a crackdown there has led traffickers to increasingly use longer and more dangerous routes, including to the Canary Islands.

Authorities fear many of the thousands of Africans who attempt the perilous journey to Spanish soil each year die of thirst, hunger or exposure, although there is no way of knowing the exact numbers.

A Spanish humanitarian group, the Organisation for Human Rights in Andalusia (APDH-A), estimates a total of 921 would-be illegal immigrants have died at sea from thirst, hunger or exposure, or in boat accidents, as they tried to reach Spain.

Spain has worked with other European Union nations to increase air and sea patrols and it has signed repatriation agreements with several African nations that have made it easier to send back clandestine migrants.

During the first seven months of this year, 7,165 migrants reached Spain by boat, a nine percent drop on the same period last year, and a decline of nearly 60 percent on 2006, according to interior ministry figures.

Six dead in shooting rampage

Filed under: rampage,usa — admin @ 4:23 am

Police Wednesday held a Washington man with a history of mental problems in a series of shootings that killed six people, including a sheriff’s deputy.

Isaac Zamora, 28, of Alger, Wash., was being held in the Skagit County Jail after surrendering to police following a shooting rampage Tuesday that left two people wounded in addition to the six dead.

Police said the shootings began after 2 p.m. Tuesday near the home of the suspect’s mother. Two bodies, including that of sheriff’s deputy Anne Jackson, 40, were found there. Two construction workers had been shot to death nearby and another body was found a few houses away, police said.

Zamora allegedly drove away and “was just going down the road shooting at people,” Trooper Keith Leary said. One motorist was killed and two others wounded in those shootings.

Police said they chased the suspect at speeds of up at 90 mph on Interstate 90 before he surrendered about two hours after the initial shooting reports.

The suspect’s mother said her son was “extremely mentally ill” and had been living in the woods on and off for years.

Dengue fever outbreak in Fiji

Filed under: disease/health,fiji,global islands — admin @ 4:17 am

The medical authorities in Fiji confirmed a national dengue fever outbreak, the Fiji Times reported on Wednesday.

Sources close to the Health Ministry said divisional teams had been activated after a marked increase in cases reported at hospitals and health centers throughout the country.

It is understood that more than four cases of dengue per day have been reported at public and private health facilities over the past few weeks.

Interim Health Minister Jiko Luveni said as of Friday, 53 suspected cases of dengue had been reported throughout Fiji.

Luveni advised the general public to destroy all mosquito breeding places.

She said those who are suspected to be suffering from the disease should drink plenty of fluids.

But the Health Ministry has not made a public statement on the disease despite a meeting of senior doctors in the Western Division

Medical teams could soon begin massive spraying campaigns in an effort to kill the aedes aegyptii mosquito which carries the dengue virus.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease and has the potential to kill if patients are severely dehydrated or begin to lose blood.

Dengue fever symptoms include headaches, joint pains and bleeding from the mouth. The origins of the word dengue are not clear, but one theory is that it is derived from the Swahili phrase “Ka-dinga pepo”, which describes the disease as being caused by an evil spirit. The Swahili word “dinga” may possibly have its origin in the Spanish word “dengue” (fastidious or careful), describing the gait of a person suffering dengue fever or, alternatively, the Spanish word may derive from the Swahili. It may also be attributed to the phrase meaning “Break bone fever”, referencing the fact that pain in the bones is a common symptom.


The Real Drug Lords: A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade

Filed under: government,usa — admin @ 4:57 am

1947 to 1951, FRANCE

According to Alfred W. McCoy in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates in Marseille to wrestle control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks — ideal conditions for cementing a long-term partnership with mafia drug distributors, which turned Marseille into the postwar heroin capital of the Western world. Marseille’s first heroin laboratones were opened in 1951, only months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.


The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world’s largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the ClA’s principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia. (See Christopher Robbins, Air America, Avon Books, 1985, chapter 9)

1950s to early 1970s, INDOCHINA During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many Gl’s in Vietnam became addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was used to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention, Southeast Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world’s illicit opium and the major supplier of raw materials for America’s booming heroin market.

1973-80, AUSTRALIA

The Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of US generals, admirals and CIA men, including fommer CIA Director William Colby, who was also one of its lawyers. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S., Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking, money laundering and international arms dealings. In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt. (See Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and the CIA, W.W. Norton & Co., 1 987.)

1970s and 1980s, PANAMA

For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated ”guns-for-drugs” flights for the contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug cartel otficials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials, including then-ClA Director William Webster and several DEA officers, sent Noriega letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking (albeit only against competitors of his Medellin Cartel patrons). The U.S. government only turned against Noriega, invading Panama in December 1989 and kidnapping the general once they discovered he was providing intelligence and services to the Cubans and Sandinistas. Ironically drug trafficking through Panama increased after the US invasion. (John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991; National Security Archive Documentation Packet The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations.)


The San Jose Mercury News series documents just one thread of the interwoven operations linking the CIA, the contras and the cocaine cartels. Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the traffickers gave support to the contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the Kerry committee) concluded a three-year investigation by stating:

“There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots mercenaries who worked with the Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region…. U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua…. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. govemment had intormation regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter…. Senior U S policy makers were nit immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.” (Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and Intemational Operations, 1989)

In Costa Rica, which served as the “Southern Front” for the contras (Honduras being the Northern Front), there were several different ClA-contra networks involved in drug trafficking. In addition to those servicing the Meneses-Blandon operation detailed by the Mercury News, and Noriega’s operation, there was CIA operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua were the main staging area for the contras. Hull and other ClA-connected contra supporters and pilots teamed up with George Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian drug trafficker who later admitted to giving $3 million in cash and several planes to contra leaders. In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew the CIA operative to Miami, via Haiti. The US repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull back to Costa Rica to stand trial. Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Amencans whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the contras. Many had long been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking They used contra planes and a Costa Rican-based shnmp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to move cocaine to the U.S. Costa Rica was not the only route. Guatemala, whose military intelligence service — closely associated with the CIA — harbored many drug traffickers, according to the DEA, was another way station along the cocaine highway.

Additionally, the Medellin Cartel’s Miami accountant, Ramon Milian Rodriguez, testified that he funneled nearly $10 million to Nicaraguan contras through long-time CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, who was based at Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador. The contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots, airstrips, warehouses, front companies and banks) to these ClA-linked drug networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug trafficking received US govemment contracts to carry non-lethal supplies to the contras. Southern Air Transport, “formerly” ClA-owned, and later under Pentagon contract, was involved in the drug running as well. Cocaine-laden planes flew to Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other locations, including several militarv bases Designated as ‘Contra Craft,” these shipments were not to be inspected. When some authority wasn’t clued in and made an arrest, powerful strings were pulled on behalf of dropping the case, acquittal, reduced sentence, or deportation.

1980s to early 1990s, AFGHANISTAN

ClA-supported Moujahedeen rebels engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported govemment and its plans to reform the very backward Afghan society. The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and leading heroin refiner. CIA supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. US officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operabon because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies. In 1993, an official of the DEA called Afghanistan the new Colombia of the drug world.

MlD-1980s to early 199Os, HAITI

While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power, the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients’ drug trafficking. In 1986, the Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian organization, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN was purportedly created to fight the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in the trafficking, a trade aided and abetted by some of the Haitian military and political leaders.

William Blum is author of Killing Hope: U.S Military and CIA Interventions Since World War ll available from Common Courage Press, P.O. Box 702, Monroe, Maine, 04951

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