Archive for April, 2012


Spanish Debt Crisis Pushing World Economy to the Brink

Human Wrongs Watch

By Nick Beams (WSWS*), 30 April – Barely four months after the European Central Bank (ECB) began its latest intervention into financial markets, making available a total of €1 trillion at ultra-cheap rates to cash-strapped banks, the European financial system is heading into a new crisis, with far-reaching global implications.

**Puerta del Sol, Madrid. Author: OsvaldoGago| Wikimedia Commons

The renewed market turmoil is a product both of the ECB measures under its Longer Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO) and the austerity program being imposed across Europe at the insistence of the financial markets.

Since the near-default of Greece threatened to set off a meltdown of markets at the end of last year, the eye of the financial storm has shifted to Spain, Europe’s fourth largest economy. Last week it was revealed that the Spanish unemployment rate had jumped to almost 25 percent.

The leap in the jobless rate was preceded by an announcement of a credit downgrade by the rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P), which warned of the dangers facing Spanish banks and forecast that the economy would fall deeper into recession. The credit downgrade on Spanish debt was the third in just seven months.

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Mali and the Tuareg

Human Wrongs Watch

By Rene Wadlow* – TRANSCEND – Since the fall of northern Mali to the forces of the Tuareg at the end of March 2012, the situation has grown in complexity.  The group of young officers, more or less led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, had taken control of the government buildings of the Central Government in Bamako on 23 March, but they had little idea of what else to do.

**Tuareg woman from Mali | Author: Alain Elorza | Wikimedia Commons

There was an immediate counter-reaction on the part of Western States such as France and the USA who provide most of the financial and technical assistance to Mali. Both France and the USA cut their aid to Mali— a country currently facing a sever drought and food shortages.

Likewise, the 15 states of the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS) called for a speedy return to the civilian government. Captain Sanogo saw the “handwriting on the wall” and agreed to  turn over the government to the President of the National Assembly who is the constitutional replacement when the President is absent.

In the meantime, the country is divided into two roughly equal areas — a north with the Tuareg holding the two major cities of Timbuktu and Gao, and the more populated south whose population provides most of the civil service, the army and the agricultural wealth of the country.

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130 Million People Seeking Job? Try Again in Two, Three, Four Years …

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – It is unlikely that the world economy will grow at a sufficient pace over the next couple of years to both close the existing jobs deficit, estimated in 50 million posts, and provide employment for the over 80 million people expected to enter the labour market during this period, says a new report.

Young people have protested around the world for more jobs and equality | UN

Over the past year, labour markets have been affected by the slowdown in global growth, according to the World of Work Report 2012, of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The trends are especially worrying in Europe, “where the unemployment rate has increased in nearly two-thirds of these countries since 2010;” but labour market recovery has also stalled in other advanced economies, such as Japan and the United States.

Elsewhere, employment gains have weakened in terms of the needs of a growing, better educated working-age population, as in China. And jobs deficits remain acute in much of the Arab region and Africa, adds the report. 

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Charles Taylor Trial: Justice For Whom, By Whom?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Robtel Neajai Pailey, Think Africa Press* – Much has changed since the first day of Charles Taylor’s trial on June 4, 2007. That day, he failed to show up to court, calling the case against him a “farce”. 


Yesterday [26 April], he was in full view, stoic, resolute and sombre. As I sat in the public gallery of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon building at The Hague, peering at the man portrayed as the most notorious African warlord in contemporary history, Taylor’s fate was solidified by one word: “GUILTY.”

After nearly nine years in limbo, Taylor was convicted on all eleven counts of crimes against humanity, committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war from November 1996 to January 2002.

Taylor, a former president of Liberia, is the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone was mandated in 2002 to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for the war that destabilised much of West Africa and stunted economic and political activity in the region. Taylor’s trial is the last of these.

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Greek… Elections?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Christoph Dreier, (WSWS*) 28 April – The Greek elections on 6 May will be contested by the greatest number of parties in any vote since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that 32 of 36 registered organizations are permitted to participate. But despite the many parties on the ballot, workers have no voice in this election.

**Photo: Konstantinos Stampoulis (el:User:Geraki)

Last week, EU Commission President Barroso announced the program which the EU intends to impose on the next Greek government. This “European Initiative for Growth and Employment” requires not only additional budget cuts, but also extensive privatization, affecting such sectors as the electric power company, and the liberalization of markets.

Moreover, Barroso announced government-imposed wage cuts in the private sector of at least 15 percent by 2014.

The previous attacks on the working class, which have led to a slashing of real wages by up to 65 percent, an official youth unemployment rate of over 50 percent, and long queues at soup kitchens, were directly ordered and organised by the troika of the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank.

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Chernobyl 26 Years After – Millions of People Still Suffering, Haunted By Fear

Human Wrongs Watch

Kiev – “The suffering went beyond the estimated 6 million people who still live in affected communities in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to “countless others haunted by fears of their health, their livelihoods, and their family’s future, UN secretary general Ban Ki moon said on April 26, marking the 26th anniversary of the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

*IAEA has about 245 inspectors who go on about 2,000 missions each year to verify over 1,100 nuclear facilities | UN

He called on the international community to generously support Chernobyl-affected regions “as they continue their efforts towards recovery and normalcy.”
One year ago, Ban became the first UN secretary-general to visit the Chernobyl site, witnessing first hand the “great resilience” being demonstrated by the people affected by the explosion that occurred at the plant in Ukraine in 1986.
“On this occasion, we remember the hundreds of emergency workers who risked their lives in responding to the accident; the more than 330,000 people who were evacuated from surrounding areas with little hope of return; the thousands of children who later contracted thyroid cancer; and the six million people still living in the affected areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine,” said a statement issued by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.

It’s Revolution Again in Egypt

Human Wrongs Watch

By Shahira Amin*, Cairo, 23 April – Tens of thousands of protesters returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a massive demonstration Friday [April 20] demanding that the ruling military generals immediately hand over power to a civilian government. The protesters also called for former regime members to be barred from running in next month’s presidential elections.

**Photo: Mona Sosh | Wikimedia Commons

Revolutionary forces had earlier called for a day of rage which they dubbed “Self Determination Friday”. They accuse the military generals running the country in the transitional phase of “hijacking the revolution” and hope to steer the country back on the right path of democratic reforms.

“The military council has only plunged the country into deep political chaos and has not carried out any of the aspired goals of our revolution,” lamented Hazem Mahmoud, an activist who works for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Trade.

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War Machines – There Are Two Bullets per Person

Human Wrongs Watch

By Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace*  – What would you do with $1,738 billion (US dollars)? If you were told you had to spend it this year on making people safer, what would you spend it on? $1, 738bn is how much was spent on the world’s military last year, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI).

With expenditure on military being one of the few areas not facing massive government cut backs we should ask: is our world becoming a safer place?

What consolation can be sought in the world’s awesome military might by the parents of the 7.6 million children under five who die each year, mostly in developing countries?

What consolation is it in a world where 925 m people do not have enough to eat, 98% of whom live in developing countries? What peace does it bring them?

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More War Drums in the Middle East – Now Syria and Iran?

Human Wrongs Watch

New war drums now resound in the Middle East. UN Security Council decided on April 21 to deploy 300 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor a cease-fire agreement between President Bashar al-Assad and anti-regime groups. The Western-led Friends of Syria front met on April 19 in Paris. And NATO met in Brussels on April 18 with Syria on the table of discussions. In few days, NATO heads of state will gather in Chicago. Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli military machines are heating up for a potential attack on Iran. Does U.S. President Barack Obama need a war in this electoral year?

**Photo credit: Bernd.Brincken | Wikimedia Commons

By Chris Marsden (WSWS*),  April 19 – Turkey is leading calls for a military attack on Syria on behalf of the United States. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attended yesterday’s (Apr 18) NATO meeting in Brussels and will attend the Paris meeting today [Apr 19] of the Friends of Syria—the Washington-led front, encompassing the European powers and Arab League states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that is leading the war drive against Syria. Also in attendance along with Davutoglu will be Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz.

Behind the smokescreen of the United Nations and Kofi Annnan’s ceasefire, plans are being finalised for intervention, including US involvement under the auspices of NATO. Turkey had said it would raise the issue of an alleged violation of its Syrian border at the NATO ministerial meeting and call for NATO to come to its “defence.”

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A U.S. Military Command to Grab Africa’s Natural and Mineral Resources

Human Wrongs Watch

By Robert Lacville – TRANSCEND* – In 2008, George W. Bush authorized the creation of AFRICOM, the Pentagon’s African Command. Why?

**A retouched image of Seal of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)

A paper written in 2002 by the influential, right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation, proposed that the Pentagon should create a unified command structure to assure American interests in Africa.

“With its vast natural and mineral resources,” wrote Heritage Foundation, “Africa remains strategically important to the West, as it has been for hundreds of years, and its geostrategic significance is likely to rise in the 21st century.”

According to the National Intelligence Council, “the United States is likely to draw 25 per cent of its oil from West Africa by 2015, surpassing the volume imported from the Persian Gulf”, the study reported.

The interests of the USA could be assured, wrote the authors, by using local allies to fight American battles. Any objective observer analyzing wars in Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, and now in the Sahara Desert might conclude that the Heritage Foundation strategy has been put into practice with great success for the USA.

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