brad brace contemporary culture scrapbook

July 31, 2008

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:08 am


Filed under: General,global islands,intra-national,nicaragua,resource — admin @ 3:57 am

The Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (Spanish: Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América or ALBA – which also means ‘dawn’ in Spanish) is an international cooperation organization based upon the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agreement was initially proposed by the government of Venezuela as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA or ALCA in Spanish) proposed by the United States. While the ALBA itself has not yet become a hemispheric-wide trade agreement, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia have entered into a Peoples’ Trade Agreement (Spanish: “Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos” – TCP) which aims to implement the principles of ALBA between those four nations. However, Nicaragua is also a member of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

The adjective Bolivarian refers to general Simón Bolívar, who is revered as a hero throughout much of Latin America for his leadership of independence movements in South America against Spanish colonial power. In addition, Bolívar is a major figure in Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s hemispheric ideology Bolivarianism.

Unlike neoliberal free trade agreements, the ALBA represents an attempt at regional economic integration that is not based primarily on trade liberalization but on a vision of social welfare and mutual economic aid.

The Cuba-Venezuela Agreement, which was signed on December 14, 2004 by Presidents Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, was aimed at the exchange of medical resources and petroleum between both nations. Venezuela delivers about 96,000 barrels of oil per day from its state-owned petroleum operations to Cuba at very favorable prices and Cuba in exchange sent 20,000 state-employed medical staff and thousands of teachers to Venezuela’s slums.

President Evo Morales of poor but gas-rich Bolivia joined the TCP on April 29, 2006, only days before he announced his intention to nationalize Bolivia’s hydrocarbon assets. Newly elected President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, signed the agreement in January 2007; Venezuela agreed to forgive Nicaragua’s $31 million debt as a result. On February 23, 2007 Ortega visited Caracas to solidify Nicaragua’s participation in ALBA. Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, signed a joint agreement with Hugo Chávez, to become a member of ALBA once he becomes president, but as of 2008 Ecuador has not joined the organization.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, has hailed the signing of the trade agreement with Venezuela as a significant historical milestone in relations between the Caribbean and Latin America. He along with the Prime Ministers of Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed onto ALBA.

In January 2008, Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean, joined ALBA.

July 30, 2008

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:56 am

Bangladesh cracks down on ‘genie-powered godmen’

Filed under: bangladesh,General,global islands,ideology — admin @ 5:52 am

Five men who claimed they could solve any problem through supernatural powers and genies they had “domesticated” have been arrested by Bangladesh’s elite security force, an official said Wednesday.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) took the five into custody in a day-long operation on Tuesday after they were accused of swindling people out of large sums of money, captain Rezaul Karim said.

“Every day, these genie-powered godmen place ads in the newspapers claiming they can solve any problem on earth through supernatural powers and genies that they have captured and ‘domesticated,'” Karim said.

“They took large amounts of money from jilted lovers promising they would bring back the ones they love. They claim to have power to reunite separated couples in just 72 hours, win lotteries as far away as in Germany or boost sexual powers,” he said.

The RAB, the country’s top security force, which is normally assigned to fight Islamic terrorists or top Maoist outlaws, stormed dens of other alleged godmen, but many had gone into hiding, Karim said.

The so-called godmen have been flourishing in impoverished Bangladesh, and some of them have millions of followers. The arrests marked the first time the government has sought to rein in their activities.

The emergency government ruling Bangladesh has vowed to stamp out corruption before it holds national elections by the end of the year.

July 28, 2008

Just Say ‘No’ to Gov’t Arts Subsidies!

Filed under: art,corporate-greed — Tags: , — admin @ 8:55 am

Subject: Canada Council Club ref no 3215-06-0101 (fwd)

After 35 years, I knew damn-well that you creepy,
conspiring, incestuous, artworld-acolytes wouldn’t fund my
media project (even in this time of urgent-need), but
returning my audiovisual support material with a snotty
letter stating that the application was incomplete due to
missing audiovisual support material–and so wouldn’t even
be adjudicated, is a new low. Do you actually get paid (with
my tax-dollars) for this disservice?!


To: The Canada Council Arts Club
350 Albert Street POB 1047
Ottawa ON K1P5V8
cc: media

1) given your refusal of even marginal funding and hostile rejection of applications for over 35 years, subsequent applications will be filed only upon receipt of a $50,000 fee in advance

2) given your refusal of funding/validation (and consequently, employment and exhibition opportunities), for 35 years, your oppressive/restrictive current application requirements cannot possibly be entertained

3) a written apology and explanation of your past corrupt behaviour is also demanded

4) failure to reply within seven (7) days and submit fees may result in legal restitution procedures

July 22, 2008

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:24 am

The Shortage Isn’t Food, It’s Democracy

Filed under: corporate-greed,General,government,human rights,resource — admin @ 4:13 am

Progress on food security issues will only come when we begin to ask the right question and challenge the myths that trap us.
by Frances Moore Lappe

News broadcasts report a horrific “world food crisis.” But there is no food shortage. In fact, there’s more than enough food to make us all chubby—even counting only the “leftovers,” what remains after turning more than a third of the world’s grain and fish catch into feed.

The forecast for world cereal production in 2008 stands at a record 2,164 million metric tons, says the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s an increase of 2.6 percent over last year, the previous global high.

Again: The shortage is not of food. It is one of democracy. At its heart, democracy means power distributed so that citizens’ interests—our values and our common sense—show up in policies.

Yet, can you imagine citizens anywhere setting things up so that just one company, controlling a huge share of the entire world’s grain trade, could enjoy a 65 percent profit surge last year, while at the same time food price hikes are pushing 100 million more people into poverty and hunger? (The most recent quarterly Archer Daniels Midland profit surge came largely from the company’s financial division that makes money on price volatility via commodity futures trading.)

Or think about this: In a world where even before this historic price climb almost a billion people couldn’t afford enough to eat, what citizen would say, “Why don’t we start shifting prime farmland into agrofuel production and push prices still higher!?”

Neither could happen if citizens had real power. Each violates our common sense and our hardwired human need for fairness.

So this crisis makes me ask: Why are we playing Monopoly when we could be living democracy? In today’s deadly global Monopoly game, the biggest money players get ever bigger while most others get progressively knocked out of the game. We’ve seen it in the housing market and now we’re seeing it in the food market. In this game, what does growth mean? The 1990s saw considerable economic expansion, but for every $100 in growth only 60 cents went toward ending poverty. In Monopoly, after many long hours the game finally ends, and all but one player goes to bed “broke.” Everybody’s had fun. But in real life, it’s not fun. The outcome is premature death for millions of our fellow humans.

FOR 40 YEARS I’ve been asking why it is so hard for humans to see the needless misery we’re generating. Gradually I came to see that in large measure the answer is the power of ideas. One very dangerous idea perpetuating our global democracy crisis is this: We humans are so flawed that we have to turn over our fate to an infallible, almost mystical force: The Market. The danger is that this idea leaves us feeling powerless. We’re blind to the obvious fact that left to its own devices, unguided by democracy, a market inexorably concentrates wealth and power so tightly that it infects political decision-making. So we end up with, in effect, “privately held” government.

The result? Hunger-generating policies that no assemblage of real citizens would dream up.

For several decades, for example, countries in the Global South were encouraged by international lending, aid, and trade agencies to let go of the goal of food independence. While in the North many extol the goal of oil independence, comparable food independence was somehow deemed a bad idea. Aid was often proffered on conditions that undermined local producers. In 1986 John Block, Ronald Reagan’s agriculture secretary, called the idea of poor countries feeding themselves an “anachronism of a bygone era.”

Within a generation, countries in the Global South that had been food exporters became massive food importers. And today, as food prices jumped by almost half in nine months, poor people are living—or, more accurately, dying—from the consequences of this disastrous policy.

Peeling away the layers to grasp the roots of needless hunger, we find them in people’s lack of power—the lack of capacity to act on our values and in our interests. If hunger results from extreme power imbalances in human relationships, the questions before us are:

How do we empower more and more people, starting with ourselves?

How do we reshape relationships so everyone has the power to live in dignity and to meet their needs?

Through this new lens, removing the influence of money in political decision-making is not a separate political matter; it is essential to ending hunger on this abundant planet. In the past decade, for example, U.S. agribusiness spent almost $1 billion lobbying our government for policies, including massive farm subsidies, that are in many cases undermining poor people’s capacities to feed themselves. Such subsidies, for example, undermine smallholders, from corn growers in Mexico to cotton growers in Mali.

Many Americans have given up on reclaiming democracy from moneyed interests. They should not. It can be done; it is being done. We must crack open the best-kept secret in America: that public financing of elections is working statewide in three states. We can take that success national. (Visit Simulta­ne­ously, we can get behind candidates in this election year who commit to shifting support to family-scale sustainable farmers in all aid and trade legislation, domestic as well as in foreign, and who are willing to halt the deadly agrofuel program. (One third of U.S. corn production will go to ethanol this year.)

Through the lens of remaking power relationships, we also see food as a right of citizenship, one now inscribed—either for all citizens or for children—in 22 national constitutions. We know how to make this right real. And we can build on the proven anti-hunger policies of progressive taxation, a legal minimum wage that is a living wage, anti-monopoly enforcement, and protection of the rights of trade unions. In the same vein, we can back policies that encourage producer and consumer cooperatives, the kind that already create more jobs worldwide than do multinational corporations.

To prevent future crises, we can embrace the goal of food independence, as much as possible, at both the local and national levels. For how can any people feel free if they remain at the mercy of international market vagaries and mani­pulation?

Today’s food price rises are predictable outcomes of policies flowing from decades of anti-democratic decision-making. Each of us can explain to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and legislators that our crisis is human-made. Food scarcity is a myth; the deeper scarcity is of democracy. And we can spread the good news, too, that we each have the power to be part of creating real, living democracy.

Frances Moore Lappé, cofounder of the Small Planet Institute, is the author of 16 books, including, most recently, Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, & Courage in a World Gone Mad.

July 21, 2008

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:56 am

Tragedy as more immigrant boats arrive

The perils that African immigrants face as they try to cross the unforgiving Atlantic have again been highlighted. At least six lost their lives as a boat carrying 59 people tried to reach the Canary Islands last Friday. They were found dead as their boat docked on the Santiago beach in Alajero on La Gomera. The previous Wednesday, 15 immigrants, includng nine children, lost their lives off the Almerica coastline.

The authorities believe there could be as many as 6,000 immigrants waiting to do the crossing in search of a better life despite the treacherous conditions they would have to face. Another cayuco boat carrying 66 immigrants was also intercepted just a short distance from Puerto Colón on Tenerife. Three of the occupants had to be taken to hospital. There were two children among the 66 passengers, as well as three women.
Two days before, a small boat packed with at least 148 African migrants landed on a beach on the south coast.
The flimsy fibreglass vessel arrived at La Tejita beach as windsurfers were preparing to take to the sea. They, and tourists, alerted the police.
The occupants had tried to run inland when spotted but were rounded up and detained. One man, who was dehrydrated and suffering from hypothermia, collapsed on the beach and was taken to hospital.
Guardia Civil sources and several Non-Governmental Organisations have estimated that there are as many as 6,000 people from the Sub-Sahara area who are waiting; 2,000 in Mauritania and 4,000 in Morocco, to find an illegal crossing on a boat to Spain.
The travellers journey starts in countries such as Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria or Mali, and the longer Mauritanian route is favoured by some as there is no repatriation agreement in place with Spain.

July 16, 2008

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 7:35 am

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress