New French president to limit CEO pay at state owned businesses

by

François Hollande’s 75% tax rate is still going to struggle due to the ease of moving out of France (or any country besides the US) but bringing a dose of fairness is going to be much easier. There will be plenty of complainers who will suggest how difficult it will be to attract top talent but there is even more evidence that shows paying top dollar (or euro) does nothing to attract top talent.

For years we have seen one company after another bump up pay to attract the next Steve Jobs or whatever other CEO of the day is being described as the greatest leader ever. The reality is there was only one Steve Jobs. The others command superstar pay but more often than not, they under-deliver. (We only need to look at Bankia as one recent example.) They’re always billed as the leader who will take the business to the next level, but the only thing going to the next level will be the executive pay.

Since Hollande is a Socialist, this change will no doubt trigger a storm of criticism and howling from the so-called free market “capitalists.” As in the same free market capitalists who all thought it was important to bail out the lifestyles of the bankers and keep the quantitative easing policies that have been all about free money for bankers to gamble. There hasn’t been anything close to a free market or raw capitalism for years so spare me any arguments about socialism. We’ve had it and it has been socialism for the 1%.

If we are ever going to bring some balance back to society, we’re going to need a lot more action like this. We’ve tried excessive CEO pay and it simply does not provide an acceptable ROI. More on fat cat pay from The Guardian:

Read more » America Blog
http://americablog.com/2012/05/new-french-president-to-limit-ceo-pay-at-state-owned-businesses.html

Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

by Joshua Holland

Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for The New York Times that Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.

It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonance, according to this report in The Guardian

Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. And Francis recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions.

Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: ”In 2012, the top 1% of earners in the US collected 19.3% of the country’s total household income–an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4% for the remaining 99%.

Continue reading Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

Timeline: Scotland’s road to independence referendum

Scottish independence: Alex Salmond outlines childcare ‘savings’

Childcare plans in the independence White Paper would see families save up to £4,600 per child each year, First Minister Alex Salmond has told MSPs.

During a debate on the newly published independence blueprint, he insisted the move would be “transformational”.

But the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Johann Lamont, challenged Mr Salmond to meet her so they could find the money now to deliver the policy.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-25114249

More details » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20546497

Defying China, U.S. bombers fly into East China Sea zone

By Phil Stewart and David Alexander | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers on a training mission flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing Beijing, defying China’s declaration of a new airspace defense zone and raising the stakes in a territorial standoff.

The flight did not prompt a response from China, the Pentagon said, and the White House urged Beijing on Tuesday to resolve its dispute with Japan over the islands diplomatically, without resorting to “threats or inflammatory language.”

China published coordinates for an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the weekend and warned it would take “defensive emergency measures” against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly in the airspace.

The zone covers the skies over islands at the heart of a territorial dispute that China has with close U.S. ally Japan.

“The policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in California, where President Barack Obama is traveling.

“These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically,” he said.

Two U.S. B-52 bombers carried out the flight, part of a long-planned exercise, on Monday night EST, a U.S. military official said.

The lumbering bombers appeared to send a message that the United States was not trying to hide its intentions and showed that China, so far at least, was unable or unwilling to defend the zone.

Read more » Reuters
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/u-aircraft-fly-over-east-china-sea-without-172248256.html

Pakistan deploys first home-made drones

Pakistan launched its first domestically produced drones on Monday, as police cracked down on demonstrators protesting US drone strikes targeting Islamic militants on Pakistani territory.

The new drones are called the Burraq and Shahpar and will be used by the Pakistani army and air force, the military said in a statement on Monday, although they did not specify if the drones will be armed or unarmed.

The statement from the military comes as the police prevented protesters trying to block trucks carrying NATO supplies to and from troops stationed in neighboring Afghanistan.

Continue reading Pakistan deploys first home-made drones

Pakistan’s silent revolution

By Suhail Yusuf

Charity for science

An imaginary circle of less than three kilometers encompasses what can safely be described as the hub for science in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. Built with funds donated by individuals and groups from across the country in the last 50 years, the five centers for research that dot this particular area of Karachi University are now torch bearers in their respective fields.

Of these five centers, one is the only institute for human clinical trials in Pakistan, the other a core of computational biology and the third provides consultancy to people suffering from genetic diseases.

Besides world class research, these centers are also engaged in creating competent academia, providing solutions to hundreds of industries, as well as lending a hand in addressing various domestic issues.

The centers and their growth have been working towards what has been termed as a ‘silent revolution’ and had been described by Professor Wolfgang Voelter of Tubingen University as a ‘miracle.’

The nucleus of chemistry

The Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry was only a small post graduate institute before a generous donation of Rs 5 million in 1976 set the center towards the path of excellence. Latif Ebrahim Jamal’s endowment, on behalf of the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Foundation, was the largest private funding for science in Pakistan at the time.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1058496/pakistans-silent-revolution

United States and Canada should unite ASAP – Diane Francis

Merger of the Century by Diane Francis: Review

The argument for Canada and the U.S. to unite

Diane Francis’s Merger of the Century, HarperCollins, 403 pages, $32.99.

By: Don Tapscott

If the creation of the European Union is evidence, trade agreements, common markets and economic unions can lead to political unions. So it’s not so preposterous that 20 years after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, someone has finally crafted a serious proposal for the political integration of Canada and the United States.

Best-selling author, writer and pundit (and dual citizen of both countries) Diane Francis argues that the United States and Canada should unite ASAP. She sets out the economic benefits of joining forces, how the deal could be fairly structured, and the political hurdles to overcome.

Continue reading United States and Canada should unite ASAP – Diane Francis

Sindhis Welcome Their Valiant Baloch Brothers ‘n Sisters in Sindh

By Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom

… Indeed, onward they marched from their beloved Motherland, Balochistan, to the Sacred ‘n Sanctified, hallowed and noble Land of Sindh! And, they marched on foot – men, women and children – some even without shoes or slippers! They marched in a glorious Caravan – the 25 families of missing sons of Balochisatn and finally reached Karachi, the worthy Capital of Sindh, on Friday 22nd November, 2013, covering 780 kilometres of an inhospitable landscape of Balochistan and Sindh!

This march of the Balochs for the Freedom and safe return home of their sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and even grandfathers, who had gone missing since their abduction by the barbarians Forces and venomous Intelligence Services will go down in the annals of bravado, courage and determination in the History of Mankind!

These families spent cold and freezing nights on roadsides shivering and just getting warmth from each other’s hugs and embraces. They spent days striding forward and carrying on – onward, forward and ahead through the : the journey, it seems, only hardened their commitment to remain steadfast in their cause.

These valiant and verdant Baloch families have pitched their tents in Karachi. However, their struggle for justice and peaceful protests against tyranny, terror and torment, is far from over. It will continue peacefully, according to the families spokesman, “until their beloved sons, fathers, brothers and grandfathers return.”

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) long march reached Karachi from Quetta on Friday 22nd November, 2013, after walking for 27 days. VBMP Long March culminates in Karachi, the struggle against abductions to continue: Qadeer Baloch. Read more here:

Brave Baloch families reached the Karachi Press Club, exhausted! Their shared with Press and all Sindhis who welcomed them the macabre tales of intimidation, threats and violence of the Intelligence Agencies. Families all are full of zeal, confidence and commitment to continuing their resistance against the repression.

Those who watched a Balochi language private TV channel saw a huge mass of around 20,000 people from 25 Baloch families participating in the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons protest rally in Karachi on Friday. Apart from Baloch activists, it is indeed, very heartening and inspiring to know, that a large number of Sindhi and other human rights and political activists also came to support the Baloch in their hour of pain and suffering.

750 kms March of missing Baloch’s kin ends at Karachi, Sindh. Verdant and veritable sons and daughters of Mother Sindh welcomed their brave Baloch brothers and sisters with great honour and dignity and presented gifts to the families with traditional honour of Sindhi Ajrak and Topee (cap) and showered them with flowers and garlands.

We raise our voice to condemn the barbaric behaviour of the agencies by continually abducting the innocent, peace-loving and simple sons of Balochistan! We appeal, plead and urge the United Nations, International and Asian Human Rights Organisations, the Super Power Nations of the World and the International Courts of Justice to please take note and Save Baloch people, Save Balochistan and STOP genocide being perpetrated by the savages of the failed state!

Sindh has always been a hospitable, welcoming and gracious Nation! The valiant, veritable and verdant sons and daughters of grand, great and glorious Mother Sindh must open their arms, hearts and souls to welcome these tortured, troubled and tormented Baloch families who are now camped in Karachi! Sindhi MUST provide sustenance, shelter, clothing and ALL the Support, Help and Assistance that they need.

Balochistan, we Love you! Long Live Balochistan! Long Live Sindh!

Courtesy: via Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, and facebook, 24th November, 2013.

– – – – – – – – –

For more details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2013/11/131124_baat_se_baat_rh.shtml

The bazaar bourgeoisie

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

MANY real and mythical actors animate narratives of modern Pakistani life, and particularly its politics: army officers, landlords, businessmen, mullahs, the ‘foreign hand’, and, of course, the proverbial awam.

The vast majority of these narratives place the rich and powerful at one end of the spectrum and the hapless awam at the other, with the occasional heroic general, judge or politician playing the role of game-changer.

Needless to say, the plot in real life is rarely this straightforward. A truly representative analysis of actually existing Pakistan requires us to move beyond the usual suspects and consider less invoked social forces that play major roles in shaping the social and political landscape.

Many scholars of Pakistan and other Muslim-majority societies have argued that small and medium-sized traders and merchants, or what some call the bazaar bourgeoisie, have greatly influenced the economic and political trajectory of these societies in the modern era.

For some the genesis of this class can be traced to the mediaeval period, while for others its modern manifestation is a phenomenon unto itself. Either way, the experts argue, there can be no gainsaying the importance of the bazaar.

Continue reading The bazaar bourgeoisie

Video clip from a Pakistani Movie ‘Slackistan’

Slackistan is an independent film directed by filmmaker, Hammad Khan. The film stars Shahbaz Hamid Shigri, Aisha Linnea Akhtar, Ali Rehman Khan, Shahana Khan Khalil, Osman Khalid Butt, Khalid Saeed and Rafey Alam. The film is distributed by Big Upstairs Films.

Courtesy: Spicy.pk
http://spicy.pk/video-from-movie-slackistan-which-was-banned-in-pakistan/

Sindhis welcome & express solidarity with Baloch brethren as they enter the borders of Sindh at the end of their historic long march from Quetta to Karachi.

By: Via Facebook

Sindhis welcome & express solidarity with Baloch brethren as they enter the borders of Sindh at the end of their historic long march from Quetta to Karachi. The long march is against the enforced disappearances of the Baloch people. The world must take notice of this highhanded-ness at the hands of  govt/forces/agencies. The atrocities against the Baloch must end.

Read more » A no ordinary long march »» by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Bulgaria Day 160 of ДАНСwithme Anti-Government Protest and OccupySU Students Joined by Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB.

An estimated 4,000 Bulgarian workers protested on Wednesday against low wages and a lack of jobs, a sign that opposition to the Socialist-led cabinet may be spreading beyond its student base. Wednesday is the 160th consecutive day of protests, which were triggered by a controversial cabinet nomination in June.

Wednesday’s protesters, led by Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB, marched through the capital Sofia to demand a 10 percent increase in public sector salaries and reforms in the inefficient and corruption-prone healthcare and energy sectors.

We want to see the economy turned to the problems of the workers. We want decent pay and jobs. If the government do not take note now, our next move will be to go to strike,” said CITUB leader Plamen Dimitrov.

The centre-left government has faced almost daily protests since taking office in May. Corruption was the main cause of disgruntlement at the outset of the demonstrations, which had until now been led by students and relatively well-to-do urban professionals who account for a small proportion of Bulgaria’s population. Their daily protests in front of parliament have focused less on bread-and-butter issues and more on what they say is the poor governance that still blights Bulgaria more than two decades after the fall of communism and six years after it joined the European Union.
Read more » Revolution News
http://revolution-news.com/bulgaria-day-160-anti-government-protest-and-occupysu-students-joined-by-bulgarias-largest-trade-union-citub/

Switzerland limits CEOs one month pay

A Proposal To Limit Swiss Executive Pay To 12 Times That Of Low-Paid Employees Has Fat Cats Worried

By Adam Taylor

On Nov. 24, Swiss voters will go to the polls to vote on a radical new idea — limiting the monthly pay of the highest earners in Swiss firms to no greater than the yearly pay of the lowest earners. It’s being called the 1:12 Initiative — and it sure has some people worried.

To understand the context of the vote, you need to know two things about Switzerland. First, the country has a relatively unique system of direct democracy — if 100,000 people sign a proposed change to the constitution, or “popular initiatives,” a referendum is held. If a majority of voters and cantons (Swiss states) agree with the proposal, the change can become law.

The second factor is how these Swiss initiatives have been used recently. Earlier this year Swiss voters agreed to an idea proposed by entrepreneur Thomas Minder that limited executive (in his words, “fat cat”) salaries of companies listed on the Swiss stock market. On the other end of the spectrum, a proposal to give every Swiss adult an unconditional income of $2,800 a month recently gained enough signatures to be voted on.

The 1:12 Initiative lies somewhere between these two extremes in terms of its radical ambition, but its core idea comes from the same place — an angst in Switzerland, a country most famous for centuries of private banking, that executive pay and income inequality are out of control.

To understand the thought process, Business Insider called David Roth, the leader of the youth wing of Swiss party the Social Democrats, and one of the architects of the plan. Roth explained that high executive salaries only became a big issue in 2002 or so, and by 2006/7 they became a public issue. The preparation for the 1:12 Initiative began in 2009.

Continue reading Switzerland limits CEOs one month pay

UN Calls on Israel to Open Nuclear Facilities

Resolution urges Israel to sign non-proliferation treaty ‘without further delay’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Monday calling on Israel to quickly open its nuclear program for inspection and backing a high-level conference to ban nuclear weapons from the Middle East which was just canceled.

Read more » http://www.twf.org/News/Y2012/1204-Israel.html

For Full Text » THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
http://www.timesofisrael.com/un-calls-on-israel-to-open-nuclear-facilities/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists; “The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine”

Seattle City Councilmember-elect shares radical idea with Boeing workers

By Gary Horcher

SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state

“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.

This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers.

On Monday night, she spoke to supporters of Boeing Machinists, six days after they rejected a contract guaranteeing jobs in Everett building the new 777X airliner for eight years, in exchange for new workers giving up their guaranteed company pensions.

Now Boeing is threatening to take those jobs to other states. “That will be nothing short of economic terrorism because it’s going to devastate the state’s economy,” she said.

Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.

Sawant says after workers “take-over” the Everett Boeing plant; they could build things everyone can use.

“We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.

Sawant says she was referring to “drones” when speaking of war machines. Still, she says even as they work on the lines, building airplanes daily, she believes Boeing workers are under siege.

“Workers have to realize, they have more power than they think,” she said.

Courtesy: Kirotv.com
http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-city-councilmember-elect-shares-radical-id/nbxbC/

Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo elected to Congress

Woman who led 2011 student uprising joins lower house as Michelle Bachelet comes top in first round of presidential election

By: Reuters in Santiago, theguardian.com

Camila Vallejo, who helped spearhead Chile‘s student uprising in 2011, has been elected to Congress alongside three other former university leaders, underscoring a generational shift in the country’s politics.

The 25-year-old communist shot to international fame as one of the most recognisable faces of a student movement seeking free and improved education in a country fettered by the worst income distribution among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 34 member states.

Vallejo’s victory is key for the presidential frontrunner Michelle Bachelet‘s attempt to have her Nueva Mayoria coalition gain a stronger foothold in both houses of Congress.

“We’re going to celebrate our triumph on the streets of La Florida,” Vallejo said on Twitter, referring to a district in Santiago.

Continue reading Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo elected to Congress

Who would have thought this is possible in the USA? Socialist wins seat on Seattle city council

Socialist wins seat on Seattle city council

Kshama Sawant, an Occupy Seattle member, hopes to raise minimum wage to $15 and levy a ‘millionaire’s tax’

Seattle voters have elected a socialist to city council for the first time in modern history. Kshama Sawant, a member of the populist Occupy Seattle movement, ran on a platform of raising Washington State’s minimum wage to $15 and levying a “millionaire tax” to pay for mass transit and public education.

Read more > aljazeera
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/11/16/socialist-wins-seatonseattlecitycouncilfirstinnearly100years.html

Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

The region became a great melting pot of races, ideas, civilisations and competing military campaigners

Like a delusive people, Muslims in general and we in Pakistan in particular are trapped in the numbing nostalgia of our past Muslim glory. Nostalgia helps one to reflect and reminisce, therefore by itself is not so debilitating but there are a few problems here. First, we tend to easily forget that history always has a context and is relevant to its time of occurrence; only its lessons last. Secondly, nostalgia-less, a matching will and means to re-perform is toxic and harmful. Without a proper understanding of these two imperatives, an urge to be highly regarded as before is dangerously flawed and can give way to undue bitterness. In order to understand this phenomenon we have to examine what kind of sentiment has been implanted in Pakistan.

Driven by our nostalgia, which has been eagerly fed by our romantic but somewhat falsifying historians, fantasising writers, educationists, politicians, self-serving mullahs and other story tellers, we go on glorifying our non-existent charm as the chosen followers of a great faith, members of a glorious race, descendents of ruling classes, future rulers of the world and what not. Unfortunately that track leads to nowhere. Folk stories are a good pastime but do not make communities, people or nations any greater. A longing that spurs effort to become greater is positive, but to merely slither around like an earth worm is a psychosis that leads to mental and moral debility.

One has been to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Iran, Turkey, Hijaz on the Red Sea, and a large number of European countries in addition to Malaysia, India, Thailand, US and UK. Our subcontinent, Italy, Greece and Iran had been the bastions of great civilisations, which held sway over vast territories and enjoyed magnificent power and prestige. Ukraine, Hijaz, Turkey, Thailand, Austria and Malaysia had been the honourable hosts for great civilisations and dutiful custodians of the passage. Nowhere did one hear a pining for the past glory more deafening than the neurotic chorus in India and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, our neurosis is manifold and is quite hopelessly mashed by the hooves of the frequent invaders who galloped down the passes of the Hindu Kush and Suleiman Mountains over the centuries. Why is it that we in Pakistan prefer to wallow in this thick, sticky stew of muddied history that is blinding us to the world around us and isolating us increasingly? We will see in a short while.

Continue reading Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

Book Review: Al Gore – “The Future – What are the drivers of Global Change.”

You can’t deny Al Gore’s knowledge & intelligence. A thought provoking book, every page of his book offers new insights. A must read book. In his book “The Future: What are the drivers of global Change”, he writes;  “The dominance of wealth & Corporate influence in decision making has so cowed most politicians that they  are scared to even discuss this existential threat in any meaningful way. (Page 323)

“With rare exceptions, the majority of legislators are no longer capable of serving the public interest because they are so dependent on Campaign Contributions from these corporate interests & so vulnerable to their non-stop lobbying.” — “It is profoundly troubling that special interests have been able to Capture Control of decision making & policy formation.” (page 326)

“ … Greece is only the best known of many examples of countries no longer able to make decisions for themselves. It must first get permission from the European Union, which supports it, and international Banks, which holds its debt.”

“U.S self-government is now about completely dysfunctional, incapable of making important decision necessary to realm control of its destiny.”

“The inequality in the distribution of wealth, property and income in the United States is now larger than at any time since 1929. The outbreak of the Occupy Movement has been driven by the dawning  awareness of the majority of Americans that the operations of democratic Capitalism in its current form are producing unfair & intolerable results. But the weakened state of democratic decision making  in the U.S. and the enhanced control over American democracy by the forces of wealth & corporate power, have paralyzed the ability of the county to make rational decisions in favour of politicians that would remedy these problems” (Page 121)

“Corporate “Persons” on the other hand now often seen to have little regard for how they can help the country in which they are based, they are only concerned about how that country can help them make more money.”

“Some political Scientists have asserted that the influence of corporations on modern governance is now almost analogous to the influence of the medieval Church during the era of feudalism” (page 125)

“Ruther Ford B – Hayes, to complain that, “this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is government of corporations, by corporations & for the corporations.” (Page 106)

“It is now common for lawyers representing Corporate lobbies to sit in the actual drafting sessions where legislation is written and to provide the precise language for new laws intended to remove obstacles to their corporate business plans – usually by weakening provisions of existing laws & regulation intended to project the public interest against documented excesses and abuses. Many U.S. state legislatures often now routinely rubber stamp laws that have been written in their entirely by Corporate Lobbies.

Having served as an elected official in the federal government for the last quarter of the 20th century, and having observed it closely before that period, and since, I have felt a sense of shock and dismay at how quickly the integrity & efficacy of American democracy has nearly collapsed. There have been other periods in American history when wealth & corporate power have dominated the operations of government but there are reasons for concern that this may more than a cyclical phenomenon particularly recent court decisions that institutionalize the dominance & control of wealth & corporate power. “(Page 104-105)

Bill Clinton: Violence in Myanmar sickens world

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said sectarian violence in newly opened Myanmar, also known as Burma, sickens the world as he met with political and civic leaders Thursday to discuss challenges facing the emerging democracy following a half-century of military rule.

The attacks on Muslims are a topic many in this predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million try to avoid. Soon after President Thein Sein formed a quasi-civilian government in early 2011 and began making sweeping political and economic changes, deep-seated prejudices against the Muslim minority started to surface.

In the past year, more than 240 people have been killed and 240,000 others forced to flee their homes, most of them Muslims hunted down by stick- and machete-wielding Buddhist mobs. Members of the security forces have been accused of standing by, at times even abetting rioters, in some cases, but none has been punished.

And the government — together with much of the population — has been largely silent.

Clinton said the world has been pulling for Myanmar. “The whole world cheers every piece of good news and is sick every time they read about sectarian violence,” he said. “Because everywhere on earth, people are tired of people killing each other and fighting each other because of their differences.”

Continue reading Bill Clinton: Violence in Myanmar sickens world

Muslims buried alive in Myanmar: UN report

Naypyidaw: United Nations (U.N) revealed in a report related to Anti Muslim riots in Myanmar that several Muslims were buried alive in the riots, ARY News reported.

United Nations in a report on Muslims genocide in Myanmar revealed that even security institutors were involved in the killings of Muslims.

Mass graves were discovered from several areas in which the bodies buried were found with tied hands and legs.

Bodies of 28 children were also found from these graves.

According to the report, the followers of Buddhism entered in the Muslim majority areas and caused huge damage to their properties and also tortured them. During this the local security institutions provided full support to the rioters.

Courtesy: ARY NEWS
http://www.arynews.tv/en/index.php/international/12333-muslims-buried-alive-in-myanmar-un-report

Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism

In buying debt so cheaply and writing it off, Occupy has revealed the illusory and circular nature of owing money

By

Across the United States, 2,693 people have received a letter in the last few months, which identified a debt and read: “You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else.” This is the work of the Rolling Jubilee project – a non-profit initiative which buys personal debt for pennies on the dollar in the secondary market (where debt is sold to companies who then resell it to collection agencies) but then simply cancels it.

When the Occupy movement came into being in the summer of 2011, its critics said that a lack of identifiable objectives and strategy for achieving them meant it was doomed to fail. This was a monumental underestimation of its potential impact. Two years on, the debate about the ethics of corporate capitalism in its current form, the fairness of the remuneration of those at the top, the widening wealth gap and the morality of tax avoidance is alive and well. The concept of the “99%” is now part of the collective consciousness. All this is, in no small part, down to the fuse lit by the Occupy movement.

However, another significant aspect of the movement – dismissed as being woolly – was that it brought like-minded people together and allowed a dialogue which identified common strands. This appears to have evolved into several focused and practical initiatives. One of the most significant, and perhaps the most threatening to the status quo, is the Strike Debt group, of which the Rolling Jubilee project forms part.

The idea is that, those freed from debt and those sympathetic to the movement, then donate into the fund to keep it “rolling” forward; hence the name. The fund has already raised $600,000 and has used $400,000 of this to purchase and cancel an astonishing $14.7m of debt, primarily focusing on medical bills. This strikes at the very heart of the system, not only by using its own perverse rules against it, but critically by revealing the illusory and circular nature of debt.

Capitalism requires a layer of cheap, flexible labour to operate optimally. It is not a coincidence that the most successful global economy, by any traditional capitalist measure, is an authoritarian quasi-communist state. Many, myself included, have been arguing that our current predicament is not crisis-consequent austerity, but a permanent adjustment. David Cameron on Monday confirmed as much. The great lie, peddled by Thatcher and Reagan, was the idea that we could all be middle class, white-collar professionals within a neoliberal economy. It was simply not true.

Continue reading Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism

Pakistani Women Take Over Cricket!

Pakistan women’s cricket has taken giant strides in last few years. Victory in the Asian Games and receiving the gold medal was a wonderful moment. It was Pakistan’s first in eight years in those games and for the Women’s team to win it was a great achievement. Pakistani women cricketers broke Pakistan’s hoodoo against India in World Cups too. The Pakistan cricket team had never beaten India in a World Cup and it was the women who did it in the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. They have also reached No 6 in the rankings, and defeated some top sides, including South Africa, who they hadn’t beaten for 15 years. They have reached new heights. Those teams, our team would previously consider unbeatable and it would always lose to, it has started defeating them. We feel very proud that our players are receiving a great recognition and are ranked highly on the world stage. A high point for women’s cricket this year has been the live coverage of Pakistani women’s matches on national TV in Pakistan. It is a great sign and it has increased awareness of the sport. After watching those matches, a lot of women who previously hadn’t ever considered playing cricket or even known that there was a women’s team, have gained awareness of our efforts. People are also able to judge the standards at which our girls play cricket. The TV coverage is a very big step. The stadiums in which women contest the matches are open to the public, which is a very good sign. There are a lot of fresh new players taking up the sport and they certainly have the ability, but fitness is still a challenge. We don’t focus on fitness at grass-roots level, as women do not tend to join gyms in Pakistan. New women players are urged to focus on fitness as it will help them to serve the national side far better.

Courtesy: Express 24/7 » YouTube via Facebook

Disappearing lives: the world’s threatened tribes

Drokpa, India/Pakistan: Around 2,500 Drokpas live in three villages in the Dha-Hanu valley of Ladakh, which is situated in Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The Drokpas are completely different from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh – tall and fair, with big, lightly coloured eyes, full lips and distinctive noses and eyebrows. Historians have identified the Drokpa people as the only authentic descendants of the Aryans left in India. For centuries, the Drokpas have been indulging in public kissing and wife-swapping without any inhibitions or consideration for marital relationships. Since the practice was banned by the authorities, the Drokpas now only conduct this passionate display in the absence of outsiders.

Read more » the gardian
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/gallery/2013/nov/08/disappearing-lives-worlds-threatened-tribes-in-pictures#/?picture=422002324&index=3

“Violent religious extremism is threat to security and stability of South Asia,” – World Sindhi Congress

WSC 25th International Conference Concluded

London, UK: Violent religious extremism patronized by Pakistan is threat to South Asia and the world. Sindhi nation because of its deep secular roots and strategic location can play a decisive role in the region to avert the threat. This was the consensus at the 25th International Conference on Sindh, organized by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), held in London on 9th November 2013.

Several distinguished scholars and activists from Sindh, USA, EU, Canada and UK gathered to present papers and speeches on the theme of ‘REGIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY IN SOUTH ASIA: ROLE OF SINDHI NATION.’

Dr. Hidayat Bhutto, the conference chair, opened the conference and said “the conference provide us an opportunity of a discourse on a plethora of inter-related issues such as violent religious extremism, dominance of military establishment in Pakistan, nuclear threat, human rights violations against Sindhi and Baloch people and finally last but not the least what role Sindhi nation can play to avert the threats to regional and global peace and security.’

Dr. Rubina Greenwood, Secretary General WSC, presented the report of activities for the year 2012-2013. She detailed the activities that WSC have carried out to plead the case of Sindhi nation on the international platform of UN, US Congress and European Union. She also delineated the cooperation between WSC and other Sindh and Baloch organisation.

I in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness

Some Alarming Facts About Mental Illness In America

By Pamela Engel

Mental illness is a increasingly widespread in the U.S., affecting around one in five American adults every year, according to survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Of the 45.6 million adults who had diagnosable mental illness in 2011, 11.5 million had serious mental illness. Other surveys put those numbers even higher.

Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

By Mubashir Zaidi

The latest statement from the military blasting chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami Munawar Hasan for undermining the sacrifices made by the soldiers fighting terrorists has shocked many in the capital. The JI traditionally, has been the mouthpiece for the military during the 1980s Afghan jihad and fighting in Kashmir. It’s also established that the army had used the Jamaat’s street power to put democratic governments under pressure through controlled or sometimes out of control protests. It is also believed that there is a huge following of JI in the armed forces. Even the arrests of Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the residences of JI activists has not affected the military-JI relations in the past.

So, is it a signalling of sorts that the military is trying to portray itself as a national army now as compared to its earlier image of an ideological force whose notion of jihad is similar to Jamaat-i-Islami?

But what prompted this strong reaction by the military needs to be examined. Even pragmatic military rulers like Pervez Musharraf had to seek help from the JI to prolong his tenure. Then why is it that the Jamaat and the military are finding themselves at the crossroads today?

The issue of missing persons that began in 2006 started the rift between the traditional partners when JI followers that included lawyers approached the courts for the release of what they claimed were innocent civilians who were arrested by military intelligence agencies on the allegations of supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The courts took up the cases and started questioning the role of the military behind these forced disappearances. JI-backed lawyers were pressurised by the military to drop these cases and to stop pursuing the matter. But the cases continued, despite the fact that they did not reach their logical conclusions.

Continue reading Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

Pakistan – Drowned, sinking deeper in debt

By: HUZAIMA BUKHARI AND DR IKRAMUL HAQ

Pakistan, drowned deep in debt, is sinking deeper and deeper with each passing moment. The situation, if not remedied on a war footing, will eventually lead the country to an economic collapse. During the last three months, the debt burden has soared by Rs 980 billion – an unprecedented increase pushing the total domestic debt up to Rs 15 trillion. This does not include borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a serious balance of payment crisis. The Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was very critical of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government for increasing the debt burden of the country by 100% in five years, but its own record during three months is more deplorable – adding Rs 11 billion a day is awfully gruesome!

On 30th June 2013, the federal government’s total domestic debt was Rs 14 trillion which as of today stands at Rs 15 trillion. Increase of one trillion in three months is terrifying. The total debt burden-internal Rs 15 trillion and external $62 billion-is not debated in the Parliament. The members seem more obsessed about arguing whether Hakimullah Mehsud, killed in a drone attack, is a martyr or not. For them drone attacks are violation of sovereignty but begging from USA, its allies and international donors is a matter of honour! One needs to remind them Allama Iqbal’s famous verse:

Taqdeer Ke Qazi Ka Ye Fatwa Hai Azal Se/ Hai Jurm-e-Zaeefi Ki Saza Marg-e-Mafajat!

[T’is the immutable decree of the Judge of destinies- That weakness is a crime, punishable by death].

Nobody in the National Assembly or Senate is worried about erosion of our resources consumed largely by debt servicing and how to come out of ‘debt prison’ that is main cause of political subjugation. They are wasting words and energies on non-issues.

Continue reading Pakistan – Drowned, sinking deeper in debt

Save Rain Water for the Use

Israel’s ‘Rain Man’ conserves school water

Science teacher Amir Yechieli has a side business showing schools how to capture and reuse the rainwater that collects on their roofs.

By Karin Kloosterman

It was a nightmare: Half of the school’s outlying wall was ripped off in a storm as rainwater runoff caused more than $150,000 in damage.

But science teacher Amir Yechieli, 61 and father of two, saw the disaster as a chance to save the day. Yechieli had studied storm water runoff in the Sinai Desert for a master’s degree. He knows how it flows.

Yechieli figured that the same vast amount of winter rain that ripped the school apart could bring it back together. It could be used to flush the toilets and help better the students’ future ecologically.

“When I saw this, I calculated how much rain there could have been and figured out that the school roof could supply six months of water to the school. I turned to the principal and she said, ‘Good idea,’ and referred me to some funds. I got the funding and the next year I built the first system in the country,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

That was 15 years ago. Now, more than 120 schools later and heading a new company called Yevul Mayim, Yechieli is helping the nation of Israel collect rain.

By day, he teaches science at several schools near Jerusalem. By afternoon, and whenever else he can, Yechieli works with students and teachers to set up rainwater collection systems on the roof. He often does this on his own dime.

Read more » Israel21c.org
http://israel21c.org/environment/israels-rain-man-conserves-school-water/?utm_source=Newsletter+11%2F6%2F2013&utm_campaign=November+6%2C+2013&utm_medium=email