While the news this week is rife with rumours of coups and possible new elections coming to Ukraine, another test of democracy is unfolding on this side of the world. Earlier this month, El Salvador held its presidential election.
The tiny, Central American nation was infamous, in the 1980's especially, for a distinct lack of democracy, with US-supported right-wing death squads terrorizing the people, and triggering an armed rebellion that led to civil war.
El Salvador's violent history, and timorous democratic reemergence, has been watched closely by international human rights organizations, with many sending delegations down at election time to ensure the game is played squarely. This year was no exception.
Cory Greenlees, is a Victoria resident and member of the Mining Justice Action Committee and Victoria Peace Coalition. Cory answered the local FMLN Committee call for volunteers, and travelled south to act as an election observor.
She'll be presenting a slide show and talk this Friday at the Central American Support Committee, CASC's, monthly Cafe Simpatico coffee house at 1923 Fernwood Rd, in the heart of the Fernwood community.
Cory Greenlees in the first half.
And; few believe a farmer's life is an easy one; the vagaries of weather, diminishing soil quality, market instability, transport and input cost variability all conspire to ensure this is no business for the faint-hearted. Perhaps more worrisome though than all these is when government, captured by corporate Agribusiness behemoths, conspire to undermine the latter's little competitors.
It can hardly be a surprise then to discover Mr. Harper's New Government, a regime marked by, if nothing else, its irrational exuberance for the corporate philosophy and a business-first devotion to the magic of the invisible hands of the market, is in bed again with those interests to push through the Agricultural Growth Act.
Within Bill C-18, yet another Tory Omnibus Bill, is language the National Farmers Union fears would jeopardize their right, and that of the next generation of farmers to come, to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seed.
Jan Slomp is president of the NFU, a quote: "[D]irect-membership organization made up of Canadian farm families who share common goals." Jan and the Union have some serious concerns about what Bill C-18 could mean for both Canadian farmers on the land today, and in the future.
Jan Slomp and for whom the Agricultural Growth Act springs in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's going on, good and otherwise, around our town and beyond in the coming week. But first, Cory Greenlees and taking a trip to the polls down El Salvador way.
Protest Coverage in Haiti and Venezuela Reveals U.S. Media Hypocrisy
by Kevin Edmonds - The Other Side of Paradise The media coverage of the events unfolding in Venezuela provides a troubling example of how the imperial ambitions of the United States can magnify crises—especially when contrasted with the current political situation in Haiti.
Both Venezuela and Haiti have been facing anti-government protests, with the respective oppositions citing poor leadership, corruption, electoral fraud, and a deteriorating economy as their primary motivations in calling for change. However, the international media’s escalation of the Venezuelan crisis and their complete silence when it comes to Haiti, raises some important questions about the United States’ inconsistency in upholding the values of human rights and democracy.
Haiti has been enduring a political crisis since the highly controversial election of President Michel Martelly, who received his mandate from only 16.7 percent of registered voters, and has been running the country without a fully functioning government in order to avoid dealing with constitutionally mandated checks and balances.
For the third year in a row, Martelly has promised to hold elections to fill legislative and local seats without yet following through.
by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch They are already sewing your funeral gown, Venezuela.
They are now ready to welcome you back to that world of the lobotomized, destroyed nations that are fully submissive to Western political and economic interests – Indonesia, Philippines, Paraguay, Uganda, Kenya, Qatar, Bahrain, and almost the entire Eastern Europe. There are so many places like that – it is impossible to list them all.
They want you back in their deadly embrace; they want you to be corrupt and hopeless, as you were before the “Bolivarian Revolution”.
They want you to be the top oil exporter, but with all those horrific slums hanging, like relentless nightmares, over your cities.
They want your elites and your military top brass to speak English, to play golf, to drive luxury cars and to commit treason after treason, as they used to commit treason for decades, before your brave predecessor, President Hugo Chavez, began serving and literally saving the poor, in Venezuela and all over Latin America.
Those who are planning to destroy you, those who belong to the so called ‘opposition’, in their heads, are already apportioning you; they are dividing your beautiful body – fighting over which parts should be taken where and by whom.
They are arguing which pieces of you should stay at home, and what should be taken abroad – a leg, an arm, and your deep melancholic eyes, the color of the profound pools under the mighty waterfalls of Canaima. They want to sell your jet-black hair, as black as those evenings in the mountains, or like that endless night sky above Ciudad Bolivar.
They want everything, all that is under your skin as well as what is deep inside your body. They want your skin, too, as well as your heart.
by David Swanson - War is a Crime Annie Jacobsen's new book is called Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America. It isn't terribly secret anymore, of course, and it was never very intelligent. Jacobsen has added some details, and the U.S. government is still hiding many more. But the basic facts have been available; they're just left out of most U.S. history books, movies, and television programs.
After World War II, the U.S. military hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler's closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial.
Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution.
On February 29, 2004 the US, France, and Canada overthrew Haiti’s elected government. As my first two articles in this series outlined,1 Ottawa helped plan the coup and was heavily implicated in the human rights disaster that followed.
But the most shocking aspect of the intervention was the role played by purportedly progressive non-governmental organizations. A slew of NGOs received tens of millions of dollars from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to advance Ottawa’s anti-democratic policy in Haiti.
A few months prior to the February 29, 2004 coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time, Montreal-based Rights & Democracy (R&D), which was widely viewed as an NGO even though it was created by an act of Parliament, released a report that described Haiti’s pro-coup Group of 184 as “grassroots” and a “promising civil society movement.”
The truth is that the Group of 184 was spawned and funded by the International Republican Institute (funded by the U.S. government) and headed by Haiti’s leading sweatshop owner, Andy Apaid. Apaid had been active in right-wing Haitian politics for many years and, like former Group of 184 spokesperson Charles Henry Baker, is white.
“The repo market wasn’t just a part of the meltdown. It was the meltdown.” – David Weidner, Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2013.
Ask your average guy-on-the-street ‘what caused the financial crisis’ and you’ll either get a blank stare followed by a shrug of the shoulders or a brusque, three-word answer: “The housing bubble.”
Even people who follow the news closely are usually sketchy on the details. They might add something about subprime mortgages or Lehman Brothers, but not much more than that. Very few people seem to know that the crisis began in a shadowy part of the financial system called repo, which is short for repurchase agreement.
In 2008, repo was ground zero, the epicenter of the meltdown. That’s where the bank run took place that froze the credit markets and sent the financial system into freefall. Unfortunately, nothing has been done to fix the problems in repo, which means that we’re just as vulnerable today as we were five years ago when Lehman imploded and all hell broke loose.
Very little mention has been made of the non-disclosure agreements Coleman has with 12 or so companies lined up to exploit BC’s massive natural gas reserves – but that apparently does not stop him from admonishing his critics for being “totally uninformed.”
After missing his third self-imposed deadline to finally let the rest of us in on his non-disclosed, high-level negotiations, Coleman continues to hold his cards close to his chest.
Syrian Regime Solidifies Recent Gains: ‘Coalition of the Willing’ Promotes No Fly Zone
by Franklin Lamb
Damascus - Since around Valentine Day, and aided by truly magnificent warm weather for this time of year, the dozens of parks in Damascus have been receiving unusually large numbers of visitors, not least of whom are Syrian soldiers on leave, enjoying the green space with girlfriends, families and friends.
At the large garden with dozen of benches and sculptures, called Al-Manshia (Presidents Bridge) public park, and located between two five-star hotels, the Dama Rose and the 4-Seasons, some soldiers, presumably from out of town and with many appearing utterly exhausted, can be seen simply laying on the grass fast asleep under the warm healing sunshine.
Soldiers joke, laugh and seem pleased when citizens approach them to offer their thanks for the army’s service to the Syrian Arab Republic and to inquire about how things are going personally and if there is some help the citizen might offer the soldier.
Such is the nature of Syrian nationalism and connection with Mother Syria that this observer has remarked about before and is strikingly rare from his experience. I love my country but frankly do not feel the pride and deep connection that Syrians appear to exhibit about their country’s 10,000 year history as the cradle of civilization. I would defend my country and fight for it if there were to be a legitimate war which frankly has not been the case in my lifetime.
Obama's Nuke-Powered Drone Strike on America's Energy Future
by Harvey Wasserman - EcoWatch So the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.
A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.
While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.
Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.
The U.S. media, echoing the sentiments of the U.S. government, is openly encouraging violent regime change in Venezuela. An emblematic story from yesterday was aired in what is considered a "liberal" media source, National Public Radio (NPR).
In short, this piece featured claims of Venezuela at the precipice of "economic collapse," and spoke in glowing terms of the opposition's hopes for a "coup" to overthrow President Maduro. This type of reporting is not only irresponsible, but it is deeply misinformed.
While the U.S. government and media have been portraying Venezuela as a basket case ever since Hugo Chavez took office in 1999, this is far from the truth. Indeed, if we look at the UN's Human Development Index, which measures several key indicators of the health of a country's citizenry (e.g., life expectancy, income, education, equality), we see that Venezuela has actually experienced a steady growth in such human development indicators since Chavez took office with a total Human Rights Index score of .662 in 2000, and rising to .748 in 2012. See, Table 2 at p. 149 of the UN Report.
Significantly, Venezuela had a huge relative increase in this index during that time, jumping nine (9) rankings in the HDI chart from 80 to number 71 in the world.
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque It is no secret that Barack Obama is one of the supreme illusionists of modern times. The disconnect between his words and his deeds is so profound as to be almost sublime, far surpassing the crude obfuscations of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Their projections of unreality were more transparent, and in any case were merely designed to put a little lipstick on the pig of policies they were openly pushing.
For example, they openly wanted to conquer Iraq and expand the militarist state, they openly wanted to redistribute national wealth to the elite, so they just gussied up this unhidden agenda with some fantasies about WMD and the occult magic of "tax cuts," whereby enriching the rich and degrading all notion of the common good would somehow create a utopia of prosperity (for deserving white folk, at least).
There was a disconnect between their rhetoric and reality, to be sure, but it was easily seen through (except, of course, by the highly-paid credulous cretins of our national media). Indeed, the Bushists seemed unconcerned by how threadbare their lies were; they delivered their lines like bored performers at the end of a long stage run, not caring whether they were believed or not -- just as long as they got to do what they wanted.
But Obama has taken all this to another level. He is a consummate performer, and strives to "inhabit" the role and mouth his lines as if they make sense and convey some sort of emotional truth. Also, most of the time his rhetoric, his role, his emotional stance are in stark opposition to his actual policies. He is not just gilding his open agenda with some slap-dash lies; he is masking a hidden agenda with a vast array of artifice, expending enormous effort not to prettify an ugly reality but to create an entire counter-reality, an alternate world that does not exist.