Archive for May, 2012


Spanish Banking Crisis Threatens Global Finances

Human Wrongs Watch

By Andre Damon (WSWS*) — Fears that the euro zone is nearing breakup sent panicked investors to safe haven assets Wednesday, driving the yields on US government debt to their lowest levels since 1946.

**Spanish Prime Minister M. Rajoy. Photo: Iker Parriza

Investors fled from Spanish and Italian bonds after the European Central Bank made clear that it would now allow Spain to tap its financing to recapitalize Bankia, the country’s fourth-largest bank, which last week requested a €19 billion bailout from the Spanish government.

In response to the ECB’s statement, the Spanish government announced it would raise an additional €19 billion to bail out the bank.

Yields on Spanish 10-year bonds shot up 0.23 percentage points to 6.64 percent, bringing the country dangerously close to the 7.0 percent rates that forced Greece and Portugal to request bailouts from the European Union.

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Will Egyptian President Be an Islamist, a Leftist, Or the “Devil You Know”?

By Shahira Amin* – Cairo

Fifteen months after Hosni Mubarak ’s ouster, this week Egyptians headed to the ballot box to choose a new President in the country’s first multi-candidate Presidential election. Unlike previous polls when election results had invariably been foregone conclusions, the outcome of this historic vote is uncertain with analysts and voters unable to speculate who the likely winner may be.

**Hamdeen Sabahi. Photo credit: Hend.zeiada 

Braving soaring temperatures, voters  lined up in orderly queues at polling stations across the country on Wednesday 23 May  (the first day of the vote) displaying passion and a rare patience to put up with the bureaucracy and the long wait.

“I’ve been waiting three hours in line but will wait no matter how long it takes,” said 32 year- old housewife Walaa Dweedar, one of the scores of women waiting outside the Thanaweya Girls School in the upper class residential neighborhood of Maadi. “We’ve never had a chance to freely choose our President. In the past, the authorities had always fixed the results beforehand.”

She said she planned to vote for Hamdeen Sabahi, the left leaning social activist who’s fast becoming the “revolutionary” choice of many voters seeking change. Sabahi’s popularity has surged recently thanks to his campaign promise to bridge the vast gap between the country’s rich and poor. 

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The UN-Security Council “Out of Step, Unfit for Purpose”

Human Wrongs Watch

The courage shown by protesters in the past 12 months has been matched by a failure of leadership that makes the UN Security Council seem tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose, Amnesty International (AI) said as it launched its 50th global human rights report with a call for a strong global Arms Trade Treaty later this year.

**Security Council meeting room. Picture credit: Patrick Gruban

“Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General.

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The Perils of Nuclear Famine

Human Wrongs Watch

By Ernest Corea* (IDN-InDepthNews) – Support for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation suffered a set-back when Republican Senator Richard Lugar was defeated at a pre-election primary (May 8) in the state of Indiana. He was eliminated by a tea party supported contender, and will not be the Republican Party candidate for the Senate in November. Lugar has announced, as well, that he will not run as an Independent.

Picture Credit: IPPNW

This removes from the federal legislature a widely recognized and respected legislative activist on nuclear disarmament related issues that most of his colleagues would prefer to tuck under their mattresses and forget. Among them: a timely caution on the serious risk of nuclear famine.

Lesser beings are now left to focus on and bring good sense into decisions that impinge on security, stability, and survival.

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Burkina Faso: Families Eating the Seeds They Should Plant

Human Wrongs Watch

In Burkina Faso, “The drought and rising food prices have taken their toll. Many families have had to sell their livestock to cover their household food needs or they are eating the seeds that they should plant for the next season,”  the United Nations humanitarian chief alerted.

Armed conflict in Mali forced thousands to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Photo: OCHA/Nicole Lawrence

There is a need “to respond rapidly to the food and nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso, which is affecting some 2.8 million people,” the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said on 23 May at the end of a two-day visit to the country.

Burkina Faso is part of the Sahel region, in which there are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity. The region stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.

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‘How KFC Is Junking the Jungle’

Human Wrongs Watch

By Ian Duff  (Greenpeace)* May 23 — No matter what you think about fast food, you’ll no doubt agree that rainforests shouldn’t be trashed to make packaging destined for the trash. But  that’s exactly what’s happening. Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is supplying KFC with packaging products that are made from Indonesia’s rainforests.


Source: Greenpeace

The original Colonel Sanders couldn’t have imagined the company he founded in 1930 would be driving rainforest destruction half a world away from where he started it in Kentucky, USA.

But a new Greenpeace International report, ‘How KFC is Junking the Jungle’ shows just that. Thorough supply chain research and forensic testing has revealed how KFC is buying paper products made from rainforest fibre, supplied by APP.

APP sources rainforest logs from the habitat of the endangered Sumatran tiger. Last week the company made what it claimed were ‘new commitments’ to protect forests. In reality it will still continue to rely on rainforest clearance.

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Is Rwanda The Land of Gender Equality?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Didier Bikorimana* (Panos London/Think Africa Press) — With a female majority in parliament, women at all levels of government and equal literacy rates for boys and girls, Rwanda looks to be a model of equality.

Vice President of the Cocamu Coffee Cooperative leads a meeting about gender awareness in the agriculture sector. Photograph by UN Women.

Sitting under the shade of a mango tree, Agnes Uyisabye is reviewing a list of local beneficiaries of the country’s health insurance scheme.

Uyisabye, 35, is a grassroots leader in the Kansi sector of southern Rwanda. For the last nine years, she has been in charge of social affairs in the local umudugudu (Rwanda’s smallest administrative unit) overseeing its 896 residents spread across 204 households. It is an unpaid role, but Uyisabye does not mind.

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Youth to Politicians: ‘OK, You Talk About Our Problems… But We’re Not There’

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – There is a “growing disconnect between people and policy, people and government… Many people are saying ‘you are not taking my situation into account’ – this is particularly true in the case of youth and young people, whose feeling is often: ‘OK, you talk about our issues but we’re not there, we’re not there in the process.’

Image: United Nations

This is what the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Juan Somavia, said in an address to young men and women attending the opening of an ILO Youth Employment Forum in Geneva on 23 May. Somavia also warned of growing discontent “over the way the global economic crisis has been handled in Europe,” while hailing developing countries that followed a different track and increased social protection.

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The World Spends US$ 100 Billion on Nuclear Warheads… This Year

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva – Nuclear weapons spending in 2012 is likely to exceed US$100 billion –ten folds the United Nations’ yearly operational budget– despite continuing global financial strains and a renewed commitment by governments to achieve nuclear disarmament, according to a new report.

Source: ICAN

“Every dollar spent on nuclear weapons is a diversion of public resources away from health care, education and poverty alleviation,” said Arielle Denis, from the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“Any use of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic humanitarian harm and breach international law. Investing in these ultimate instruments of terror is patently unacceptable. It fosters investments in all other kinds of weapons.”

Worldwide, nuclear weapons spending in 2011 was around $105 billion – which is more than the gross domestic product of Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people.

One year’s nuclear weapons expenditure is equal to four decades of the regular UN budget of US$2.5 billion, or 14 years of UN peacekeeping missions, according to ICAN calculations.

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Exodus from Spanish Banks: 50 Billion Euro in 18 Months

Human Wrongs Watch

By Alejandro López (WSWS*) 21 May – The latest available statistics on bank deposits show that €50 billion euros have left Spain since January last year. This was announced as the German news agency DPA reported that almost €900 million was withdrawn by Greek savers on May 14 alone.

**Spanish Central Bank. Author Luis García (Zaqarbal) | Wikimedia Commons

According to data compiled by Thomson Reuters, Greek banks have lost around €72 billion (30 percent) in deposits since 2010. In Belgium, France and Italy, depositors have also taken flight from banks.

There are growing fears in Spain that the withdrawal of €50 billion (2.9 per cent of Spain’s deposits) will cause a bank run when customers who have lost confidence in their banks rush to take out their savings. The real magnitude of the current outflow of cash is unknown, as the data only includes the changes in deposit as of March of this year—the last month of published statistics.

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