September 10, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
The National Forestry Commission of Mexico in conjunction with the Swiss government recently held a conference to discuss the possibility of new, centralized climate change legislation. If enacted, the legislation will change the way Latin America governs its forests, and potentially set a precedent for how governments around the world manage their resources. But many at the conference expressed concerns that such legislation will end up benefiting a few wealthy elite while depriving local communities of their natural resources–all in the name of protecting the climate.
The REDD+ legislation–short for “reducing deforestation and forest degradation”–will require industrialized nations to pay developing nations to store carbon in their forests as well as manage them according to sustainable standards. Advocates say REDD+ will greatly benefit developing nations by helping to bring them out of poverty and end forest mismanagement.
Critics, however, say the legislation will do the exact opposite. By centralizing control of forest management, local communities and property owners in forest-rich nations like Brazil will be robbed of their resources, and a select few will have total control of these valuable resources.
The vast majority of Mexico’s 64 million hectares of forest, for instance, are currently owned by rural communities and local landowners who manage them well. Climate change legislation that takes this control away and gives to centralized governments will only devastate these communities and open up the floodgates for corruption.
“Mexico’s long tradition of community forest management provides a strong foundation for local action,” explained Jose Carlos Fernandez Ugalde, head of Mexico’s National Forestry Commission.
So rather than transfer control of Latin American forests and their resources to a select few in the name of protecting the climate, many experts are urging that such control remain in the hands of the people.
“If REDD+ is to succeed, it must not come from central government decrees that undermine rural communities,” stressed Christian Kuchli from Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment. “It must have local support and involve increased resource flows to rural areas, with adequate safeguards in a balanced regulatory framework.”
July 23, 2010
By: Pat Buchanan
On Monday, the Department of Agriculture demanded the resignation of Shirley Sherrod over a two-minute videotape where she appeared to describe to a cheering crowd of the Georgia NAACP how she denied assistance to a poor white farmer about to lose his land.
Declaring itself “appalled” at this “shameful” act of racism, the NAACP said it would investigate the Georgia crowd that cheered her and praised the Department of Agriculture for firing her.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was begging for Sherrod’s forgiveness, and the NAACP was burbling apologies.
For the video turned out to be an excerpt from a speech in which Sherrod described her growth from a bitter black woman whose father was murdered by a white man into one who found joy helping poor white folks keep their farms.
What was it that caused the rush to judgment by Vilsack, the NAACP and a White House that supported the ouster of Sherrod without talking to her or viewing the full tape?
Panic. The White House fears it is losing white America because of a false perception that it harbors a bias against white America.
Outrageous, rail those journalists who celebrated the NAACP’s accusation that the tea party is harboring racists and is too cowardly to confront them.
Yet, as things perceived as real are real in their consequences, if the White House does not eradicate this perception, its lease may not be renewed. Whence comes that perception? Several incidents.
First was the startling accusation by Attorney General Eric Holder, days after Barack Obama was inaugurated in a gusher of good feeling, that we are all “a nation of cowards” when it comes to facing issues of race.
A real icebreaker for a national conversation.
Second was the instantaneous verdict of the president, when asked about the arrest of Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge cop Sgt. James Crowley. With no knowledge of what happened, Obama blurted out that the cops had “acted stupidly.”
It took a White House beer summit to detoxify that one.
A third was the revelation that Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the “wise Latina” herself, had gone to extremes to see that the case of Frank Ricci and the New Haven, Conn., firefighters never got to the Supreme Court. Ricci and co-defendants had been denied promotions they had won in competitive exams solely because they were white and no black firemen had done as well.
The fourth was the Justice Department’s dropping of charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, whose intimidation of voters in Philadelphia had been captured on tape.
When a department official resigned in protest and went to the Civil Rights Commission to accuse officials at Justice of ordering staff attorneys not to pursue such cases, that explosive charge, too, was ignored by Justice.
Came then the NAACP smear that the tea party was harboring racists, which Joe Biden explicitly rejected on national television on Sunday, before the Monday firestorm over Sherrod.
Now, whatever one’s views on each of these episodes in which race played a role, white Americans are being forced to address them. And, surely, the White House understands this is bad news for Obama and the Democratic Party.
For though the black community remains solidly behind Obama and the white majority is shrinking toward minority status by 2042 or 2050, depending on which Census survey one uses, whites in America still outnumber blacks five to one. And if forced constantly to come down on one side or the other of a racial divide, most folks will wind up with their own.
In past elections, Democrats have raised race – allegations that black churches were being torched in the South, that George W. Bush’s opposition to a hate-crimes bill meant he was coldly indifferent to the dragging death of a handicapped black man – to solidify and energize the minority vote. And, today, that vote remains solid behind Obama.
Where the erosion is taking place is in white America, among working- and middle-class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries but took a chance with Obama in the fall. Now, every time some new incident erupts, these folks are being tarred.
Opposition to affirmative action is racist. Supporting the tea party gives aid and comfort to racists. Opposing health care puts you in league with folks who used racial slurs on Rep. John Lewis. To raise the issue of the New Black Panther Party is to play the race card.
One understands the bitterness of tea-party folks who carry signs that read: “What difference does it make what this placard says? You’ll call it racist anyway.”
As the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein has been reporting, white America is increasingly alienated and distrustful of all our major economic and political power centers – the banks, big corporations, the government.
And, for the first time in our lifetimes outside the South, white racial consciousness has visibly begun to rise.
June 24, 2010
The Business Insider
By Vincent Fernando
Deutsche Bank has a new and improved index of U.S. financial conditions, and this index just slumped back towards the lows of our recent crisis.
June 23, 2010
The New York Times
By Eric Dash
JPMorgan Chase emerged from the financial crisis as one of the strongest banks on American soil. Now it wants to make up lost ground overseas. The bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, announced a series of management changes toward that end on Tuesday, appointing one of his closest lieutenants to a new position with a mandate to start a global corporate banking business and scout out opportunities in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
The executive, Heidi G. Miller, was named president of the bank’s international operations and chairwoman of a new global advisory committee made up of about a dozen senior bankers and regional business heads. The new role should further cement Ms. Miller’s standing as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street.
Ms. Miller’s appointment set off other changes to the bank’s organizational chart. Michael J. Cavanagh, JPMorgan’s chief financial officer, will take over for Ms. Miller as head of the bank’s Treasury and Securities division, which focuses on back-office recordkeeping and securities lending for big institutional investors like hedge funds and pension funds.
Douglas L. Braunstein, 49, the head of investment banking for the Americas, will succeed Mr. Cavanagh, 44. Mr. Braunstein’s successor has not been named.
June 8, 2010
FARS News Agency
“The conditions we are experiencing today need planning for new orders in the world and (our) cooperation and co-thinking for organizing the conditions,” Ahmadinejad told reporters before departing for Istanbul, Turkey to take part in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
Reminding that major world and Asian players will take part in the Istanbul conference, the Iranian president underlined that “Iran, too, will have active participation in drafting the final statement, taking stances as well as mutual consultations” with participants in the conference.
Ahmadinejad said that his visit will take place at the invitation of Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and pointed out that he is slated to meet other foreign officials during the visit.
March 29, 2010
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed a new nuclear arms reduction treaty after months of negotiations.
The treaty limits both sides to 1,550 warheads, about 30% less than currently allowed, the White House said.
The deal replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The leaders will sign the pact in Prague on 8 April.
President Obama hailed the treaty as the most comprehensive weapons control agreement in nearly two decades.
“With this agreement, the United States and Russia – the two largest nuclear powers in the world – also send a clear signal that we intend to lead,” he said at the White House.
“By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities,” he said.
In Russia, President Medvedev’s spokeswoman told the Interfax news agency: “This treaty reflects the balance of interests of both nations.”
The treaty must be ratified by the US Senate and the Russian Duma.
In a speech in Prague last April, Mr Obama set out his vision of moving towards a world without nuclear weapons.
Both sides agreed to cut their arsenals last year, but disagreements on verification have held up a deal.
The US is said to have more than 2,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons, while Russia is believed to have more than 2,500.
The new agreement – which came in a phone call between the two leaders – limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads each.
The cuts are substantial – well over 30% for the Russians and around 25% for the Americans, whose current arsenal is smaller, says BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins.
Both sides would have seven years after the treaty’s ratification to carry out the reduction in long-range nuclear warheads.
The agreement also calls for cutting by about half the missiles and bombers that carry the weapons to their targets.
It limits missile delivery vehicles to 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons.
The cap on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine launched missiles is set at 700, the White House said.
The agreement includes a new verification mechanism that will ensure the “irreversibility, verifiability and transparency” of the reduction process, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency said.
Moral high ground
The pact establishes a “legally-binding” linkage between offensive weapons and missile defence systems, the Kremlin said in a statement, and “will demand the deployment of all strategic offensive weapons exclusively on national territories”.
Moscow has strongly opposed US plans to set up missile defences in Europe, and has insisted on explicit recognition of the link between offensive and defensive systems in any new strategic arms reduction pact.
The timing and symbolism of the deal are crucial, enabling both countries to claim some moral high ground going into next month’s Washington Summit on nuclear security, and the critical talks in May aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons around the world, our correspondent says.
Presidents Obama and Medvedev hope the new deal will increase pressure on Iran, in particular, to abandon any ambition to develop nuclear weapons, he adds.
The agreement – called the Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms – replaces the Cold War-era Start treaty signed in 1991 and the Moscow Treaty signed in 2002.
Both US and Russian officials expressed confidence that lawmakers would ratify the treaty.
March 22, 2010
US defence firm General Dynamics has won a contract to build a new light tank for the British army.
The firm, which plans to manufacture most of the new tank in the UK, beat rival bidder BAE Systems – where 500 jobs will now be lost.
The news is a blow for BAE’s factory in Newcastle, which was earmarked to build the company’s tank.
General Dynamics claims that the contract will safeguard or create 10,500 jobs in the UK.
The contract is reported to be worth £4bn ($6bn).
General Dynamics said its product was not only the best option, but was a patriotic choice too.
The programme is British to its bootstraps, delivering a military off-the-shelf vehicle with British design by British engineers to the British Army,” said Sandy Wilson, president and managing director of General Dynamics.
Welsh secretary Peter Hain said the deal would see 200 new jobs created at the company’s plant in Newbridge, south Wales.
A further 250 existing jobs will also be safeguarded at the plant, he said.
The new light tank is designed to replace the Scimitar scout vehicle, providing troops with more protection and firepower.
BAE had planned to build its contender at its Newcastle plant, protecting or creating 800 jobs in the region.
However following the tank decision 500 job losses, first announced last year, will now go ahead across England.
The firm had hoped to prevent the job losses if the new contract was secured.
The jobs will be lost at BAE sites in Newcastle, Leicester and Telford.
BAE has already announced the closure of its Telford and Leeds sites.
Announcing the tender decision, the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said replacing the older vehicles was “one of the highest equipment priorities for the Army”.
He said that General Dynamic’s bid had been favoured because it represented “value for money”.
He also said that the majority of manufacturing would take place in the UK, ensuring UK skills and capabilities in the armoured vehicle sector were retained.
November 2, 2009
By Paul Joseph Watson
When does yet another “mistake” become a flagrant official disregard for parental rights? Another three children have been injected with the swine flu vaccine against their parents’ wishes as schools institute mass inoculation programs with little concern about consent.
A girl in Brooklyn suffered an allergic reaction to the H1N1 shot after nurses injected her with the vaccine without the consent of her mother, Naomi Troy.
6-year-old Nikiyah Torres-Pierre takes medicine to control her epilepsy and for this reason her mother was waiting on doctors’ advice before signing the H1N1 consent form.
However, nurses administered the shot without even checking the girl’s name against a register of pupils who had received parental consent.
“My stomach was hurting, and I was itching,” Nikiyah said after she was released from the hospital,” reports the New York Post.
Officials at Public School 335 in Crown Heights then tried to get Troy to sign a consent form after the fact in a crude attempt to hide their culpability.
“I was insulted. I was really angry. ‘You just incriminated yourself even more,’” Troy recalled thinking.