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Trump Sanctions on Venezuela Will Cause More Harm PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 28 August 2017 16:18

Trump Sanctions on Venezuela Will Cause More Harm


by Mark Weisbrot

This article was published by The Hill on August 28, 2017. If anyone wishes to reprint it, please let us know by replying to this message. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe to CEPR's email lists here


The Trump administration announced new, unprecedented sanctions against Venezuela on Friday that are designed to cut off financing to Venezuela. The Trump team pretends that the sanctions are only directed at the government. But as any economist knows, this is clearly false. By starving the economy of foreign exchange, this action will harm the private sector, most Venezuelans, the poor, and the vulnerable.

These sanctions will deepen the severe depression that Venezuela’s economy has been in for more than three and a half years, which has already shrunk income per person by more than a third. They will worsen the shortages of food and essential medicines. They will exacerbate the country’s balance of payments crisis, and therefore feed the spiral of inflation (600 percent over the past year) and depreciation of the currency (on the black market) that has been accelerating since late 2012.

And they will further polarize an already divided country. Opposition leaders who support the sanctions, or are associated with them because of their longstanding ties to the US, will be seen as treasonous ― much as Republicans in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, are portrayed by those who believe they collaborated with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.

Trump’s sanctions are also illegal under both US and international law. They violate the charter of the Organization of American States (Chapter 4, Article 19) and other international treaties that the US has signed. To comply with US law, the president also has to lie and say that Americans are suffering from a “national emergency” due to an “unusual and extraordinary threat to national security” posed by Venezuela. This is obviously ridiculous.

The sanctions do their damage primarily by prohibiting Venezuela from borrowing or selling assets in the US financial system. They also prohibit CITGO, the US-based fuel industry company that is owned by the Venezuelan government, from sending dividends or profits back to Venezuela. In addition, if Venezuela wanted to do a debt restructuring, so as to reduce debt service during the current crisis, it would be unable to do this because it wouldn’t be able to issue new bonds. Basically, Trump’s executive order will cut off most sources of potential financing, other than from Russia or China. This would cause imports, which have already fallen by more than 75 percent over the past five years, to fall further. This means more shortages and further economic decline, since much of Venezuela’s domestic production is dependent on imports.

The executive order carries an exemption for oil imports from Venezuela.

Why would Trump do something that even his right-wing allies in Latin America, and most of the Venezuelan opposition did not support when Trump threatened to do this last month? As with many apparently irrational decisions by this president, it’s not that easy to know for sure. But it seems that the strategy is to further destroy the economy to the point where people will rise up and overthrow the government, or perhaps to provoke a military coup.

In the last few weeks, the violent street protests have died down. Most of the opposition leaders have agreed to participate in the long-delayed October regional elections. This is a positive development for those who would like to see a peaceful resolution of the conflict. But for regime-change extremists like Marco Rubio, whom Trump seems to be listening to on Venezuela, peace is bad news, especially for the media strategy of “if it bleeds, it leads.” They may see exacerbating the economic crisis and suffering to their advantage, hoping to bring people back into the streets and away from the negotiations that will be necessary to settle the conflict.

Finally, we cannot discount the possibility that Trump has also issued this order as yet another distraction from his bad political fortunes at home. Distraction has been his modus operandi since his presidential campaign last year. In this case it is particularly dangerous because he has also threatened military action against Venezuela, and US sanctions of this magnitude have often been followed by military attacks.

As Trump’s disgraced presidency continues to putrefy, the urge to rescue it with war will certainly grow. Venezuela is not the best target for public relations purposes because the “security threat” is a tough sell. But Trump and his advisers may see it as less risky than some of the alternatives, such as North Korea, Iran, or Syria.

 

 
World Still Lagging on Indigenous Rights 10 Years After Historic Declaration, UN Experts Warn PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 07 August 2017 10:06

By Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Albert K. Barume and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz|

Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine is Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Albert K. Barume is chairman of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

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Women from Nepal's indigenous tribe. Credit: Mallika Aryal/IPS

GENEVA / NEW YORK, Aug 7 2017 (IPS) - The world’s indigenous peoples still face huge challenges a decade after the adoption of an historic declaration on their rights, a group of United Nations experts and specialist bodies has warned. Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, the group says States must put words into action to end discrimination, exclusion and lack of protection illustrated by the worsening murder rate of human rights defenders.

The joint statement from the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples reads as follows:

Read more...
 
Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Naomi Klein about creating a better world PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 21 July 2017 09:07

creating-better-world - Green Left Weekly/July 18, 2017

"Social justice isn't copyrighted," British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told Naomi Klein in an  on Thursday Common Dreams said that Klein, a left-wing writer and activist whose new book is  No Is Not Enough, spoke to the socialist Labour leader about discuss [sic] Labour's stunning results in last month's elections,the Trump administration, Bernie Sanders, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Grenfell Tower and much more.

Despite attacks from his own party establishment and hostility from all the corporate media, Corbyn led Labour to win the reatest rise in proproption of vote for Labour in any election since the end of World War II (with Labour winning almost 10% more than in the 2015 elections).

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 July 2017 01:17
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Venezuela Needs Dialogue and Negotiation to Avoid Civil War; Not Trump-Supported “Regime Change” PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 20 July 2017 12:44

This column was written for Tribune News Services, in response to the question, "Should the United States support regime change in Venezuela?" It was distributed by the Tribune Content Agency on July 19, 2017, and published by the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers.

The question of what role Washington should play in Venezuela’s crisis is a simple one, given its recent history. The answer is the same as it would be with regard to the role we would want the Russian government to play in US politics and elections: none at all.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:35
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World Rejects Nuclear Weapons in 122-1 Vote at UN PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 07 July 2017 22:25
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project
by john halam
 
World Rejects Nuclear Weapons in 122-1 Vote at UN
 
At the United Nations in New York, a meeting convened by a December 2016 vote of the UN General Assembly has voted to make nuclear weapons illegal.
 
The decisive vote of 122 'yes' to 1 'no' vote took place this morning in the vast and packed Conference Room 1 just off the first sub-basement of the UN, after the Netherlands called for a vote. They were the sole 'NO' vote though Singapore abstained.
 
The vote was followed by prolonged cheers and clapping both from the many nongovernmental organisations present in the completely full Conference room 1 and in an overflow room, also completely full.
 
The President of the conference, Ambassador Elaine Whyte-Gomez of Costa Rica, could be seen with a number of other delegates, wiping away tears as the numbers flashed onto the electronic voting board.
 
As the vote was announced, she announced that there was a very long list of Governments that wished to speak about the decision. In fact as I write this release in the lunch-break that list has not been exhausted. 
 
The vote followed three weeks of often agonizing negotiations, as well as two days of preliminary negotiations in March. 
 
The Nuclear Prohibition Treaty arguably reinforces what is already implicit in both International Humanitarian Law and in article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), namely that nuclear weapons are illegal.
 
While it could be argued that nuclear weapons are already illegal this treaty for the first time provides an explicit multilateral legal instrument that outlaws them.
 
In taking the floor, country after country noted the historic nature of what was being done. Other weapons of mass destruction such as biological weapons and chemical weapons, as well as landmines, are illegal. Yet until today, a specific instrument outlawing nuclear weapons has not been in existence. Now, there is one. Governments also noted the critical role of civil society in bringing about this result, as well as its existential necessity.
 
People for Nuclear Disarmament's nuclear weapons campaigner John Hallam, who has been present for the full three weeks of the negotiation as well as participating in some of the conferences leading up to it, noted that:
 
" Nuclear weapons remain the only weapon that can destroy both civilization and much of the biosphere in less than a couple of hours and can do so by mistake - a mistake that has nearly taken place on upwards of a dozen terrifying occasions already."
 
"To eliminate nuclear weapons completely is an survival imperative that civilization cannot evade. Its clear that the overwhelming majority of the worlds Governments understand that narrow considerations of so called 'national security' cannot override the imperative of the survival of civilization and of the human species, which nuclear weapons place in jeopardy. We call on all Governments without exception, including especially the Governments of the 'official' nuclear weapon states and other states that possess nuclear weapons, to do their moral duty to the rest of the planet and to join the treaty and eliminate their nuclear arsenals."
 
"Ultimately, if we completely fail to eliminate nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons will eliminate us. Nuclear abolition is not a 'feel-good some-century' ambition. It is an urgent survival imperative and needs to be prioritised as such. The majority of the worlds Governments have shown that they understand that very well. Now the states that have nuclear weapons must come on board"
 
"We call on all Governments without exception, no matter what kinds of military alliances they may be involved with, to join the Treaty and to make the necessary changes in their security policies."
 
John Hallam,
 
People for Nuclear Disarmament
 
Human Survival Project
 
United Nations
 
Last Updated on Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:05
 
Latin America’s Rural Exodus Undermines Food Security PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 30 June 2017 15:39

BiodiversityCombating Desertification and DroughtDevelopment & AidEditors' ChoiceEnvironmentFeaturedFood & AgricultureGlobal GovernanceHeadlinesIPS UN: Inside the GlasshouseLatin America & the CaribbeanPoverty & SDGsProjectsRegional CategoriesTerraViva United Nations

 

Reprint |    | alt Print |  |En español

This article forms part of special IPS coverage for the World Day to Combat Desertification, celebrated June 17.

In Latin America and the Caribbean a number of factors contribute to soil degradation and to a rural exodus that compromises food security

Livestock seek shade on a small farm in the arid centre of the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero, where men are forced to migrate to cities or to seek seasonal work in more fertile regions, fleeing from drought and poverty. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

BUENOS AIRES, Jun 16 2017 (IPS) - In Latin America and the Caribbean, which account for 12 per cent of the planet’s arable land, and one-third of its fresh water reserves, a number of factors contribute to soil degradation and to a rural exodus that compromises food security in a not-so-unlikely future.

These figures, and the warning, emerge from studies carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ahead of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, celebrated on June 17. This year’s theme is “Our land. Our home. Our Future,” highlighting the link between desertification and rural migration, which is driven by the loss of productive land to desertification.

Over the past 50 years, the agricultural area in Latin America increased from 561 to 741 million hectares, with a greater expansion in South America, from 441 to 607 million hectares. This growth led to intensive use of inputs, degradation of the soil and water, a reduction of biodiversity, and deforestation.

Fourteen per cent of the world soil degradation occurs in this region, and it is worst in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and Central America), where it affects 26 per cent of the land, compared to 14 per cent in South America.

“This vicious circle has to do with the historical backwardness of Latin American rural areas, where vulnerability to climatic phenomena aggravate other factors that drive people to migrate, due to the lack of opportunities and because what used to be their main economic activity, agriculture, no longer allows them to survive with dignity,” Saramago said from FAO’s regional office. -- André Saramago

 

“As the soil degrades, the capacity for food production declines, jeopardising food security,” explained FAO forestry officer Jorge Meza from the organisation’s regional office in Santiago, Chile.

According to Meza, soil degradation depends on factors such as the extent and severity of the degradation, weather conditions, the economic conditions of the affected populations and the country’s level of development.

He told IPS that the first reaction of people trying to survive is intensifying the already excessive exploitation of the most accessible natural resources.

The second step they take, he said, is selling everything they have, such as machinery, to meet monetary needs for education and healthcare, or to put food on the table.

“The third is the fast increase in rural migration: adult men or young people of both sexes migrate seasonally or for several years to other regions in the country (especially to cities) or abroad, looking for work. These survival strategies tend to generate a breakdown of the community and sometimes of the family,” he added.

“The outlook for the future is that as climate change advances and rural populations, particularly vulnerable ones, fail to become more resilient, these figures could significantly increase,” warned the FAO expert.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), some 28.4 million Latin Americans live outside the countries where they were born, nearly 4.8 per cent of the total population of 599 million people.

Central America is the area with the most migration, with nearly 15 million migrants, who represent 9.7 per cent of the total population of 161 million people.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) defines “environmental migrants” as people or groups who are forced or choose to leave their communities due to sudden or gradual shifts in their environment that affect their livelihoods.

But for André Saramago, a FAO consultant on rural development, rural migration has multiple causes such as poverty, a lack of opportunities and, in some cases, such as the countries that make up the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America – Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – soaring rates of violence crime.

And these elements are now compounded by the vulnerability of homes to phenomena aggravated by climate change, such as increasingly intense and frequent droughts, he told IPS.

“This vicious circle has to do with the historical backwardness of Latin American rural areas, where vulnerability to climatic phenomena aggravate other factors that drive people to migrate, due to the lack of opportunities and because what used to be their main economic activity, agriculture, no longer allows them to survive with dignity,” Saramago said from FAO’s regional office.

According to the expert, reverting this phenomenon requires comprehensive responses, to manage land in a sustainable manner, preventing degradation and promoting recovery. He said, however, that this would not be enough to combat rural migration.

“Strategic investment in rural areas is key, in order to generate public assets that enable farmers, particularly small-scale family farmers, to overcome longstanding limitations,” he said.

These are the tools, he said, “to reverse the vicious circle; it is crucial to recover and rethink the concept of rural development, where the joint elaboration of policies and the capacity to tackle the problem in a multidisciplinary and multisectoral manner are key.”

For his part, Meza said that one of these actions is improving the management and distribution of water. Over the last three decades, water use has doubled in the region – a much faster increase than the global rate. The agricultural sector, and particularly irrigation farming, represents 70 per cent of water use.

“From a social perspective, rural poverty is also reflected in a lack of access to water and land. Poor farmers have less access to land and water, they farm land with poor quality soil that are highly vulnerable to degradation. Forty per cent of the world’s most degraded land are in areas with high poverty rates,” he said.

 

The expert noted that there are numerous experiences that combine production and preservation of biodiversity, particularly indigenous and traditional agrifood systems, as well as management of shared resources and protection of natural resources, which provide a methodology and systematisation of practices and approaches.

Norberto Ovando, president of the Friends of the National Parks of Argentina Association and a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, described some of the experiences in his country, where 70 per cent of the territory is threatened by desertification.

Eighty per cent of Argentina’s territory is dedicated to agricultural, livestock and forestry activities. Erosion is most acute and critical in arid and semi-arid areas that make up two-thirds of the territory, where the fall in productivity translates into a decline in living conditions and displacement of the local population.

“Currently many farmers in the world and in Argentina are using the drip irrigation system, which should be replicated around the world, and governments should adopt it as a state policy, assisting farmers with soft loans for installing it. With this system, up to 50 per cent of water can be saved, compared to the traditional system,” the environmental consultant told IPS.

Novando also said that the system of production of clean, varied and productive food, known as integrated polyculture agricultural-livestock-fish farming, currently widespread in Asia, should be adopted in the region.

“Public policies that promote support for family farming and that promote rural employment are essential,” he added.

“It could be said that in Latin America and the Caribbean hunger is not a problem of production, but of access to food. For this reason, food security is related to overcoming poverty and inequality,” he said.

“Effective management of migration due to environmental causes is indispensable in order to ensure human security, health and wellbeing and to facilitate sustainable development,” he concluded.

 
Latin America’s Rural Exodus Undermines Food Security PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 30 June 2017 15:31

By  alt

This article forms part of special IPS coverage for the World Day to Combat Desertification, celebrated June 17.

Livestock seek shade on a small farm in the arid centre of the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero, where men are forced to migrate to cities or to seek seasonal work in more fertile regions, fleeing from drought and poverty. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

BUENOS AIRES, Jun 16 2017 (IPS) - In Latin America and the Caribbean, which account for 12 per cent of the planet’s arable land, and one-third of its fresh water reserves, a number of factors contribute to soil degradation and to a rural exodus that compromises food security in a not-so-unlikely future.

These figures, and the warning, emerge from studies carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ahead of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, celebrated on June 17. This year’s theme is “Our land. Our home. Our Future,” highlighting the link between desertification and rural migration, which is driven by the loss of productive land to desertification.

Over the past 50 years, the agricultural area in Latin America increased from 561 to 741 million hectares, with a greater expansion in South America, from 441 to 607 million hectares. This growth led to intensive use of inputs, degradation of the soil and water, a reduction of biodiversity, and deforestation.

Fourteen per cent of the world soil degradation occurs in this region, and it is worst in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and Central America), where it affects 26 per cent of the land, compared to 14 per cent in South America.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 July 2017 22:13
Read more...
 
Sanders: Corbyn Surge in UK Shows World Rising Up Against Austerity, Inequality PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 09 June 2017 11:58

 

"People in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere want governments that represent all the people, not just the 1%," Sanders said

by
 
alt

Sanders said he has been "impressed" by Corbyn's "willingness to talk about class issues." (Photo: Getty)

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/06/09/sanders-corbyn-surge-uk-shows-world-rising-against-austerity-inequality

Responding to the results of the U.K. election, which commentators have already deemed a "political upset" for the ages and a stunning backfire for Prime Minister Theresa May, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday congratulated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the British people for "rising up against austerity and massive levels of income and wealth inequality."

"Globalization has left far too many people behind." —Sen. Bernie SandersPeople "all over the world" are fighting the same battle, Sanders added, concluding:

People in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere want governments that represent all the people, not just the 1%. I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn for running a very positive and effective campaign.

Corbyn's strong run—which culminated in an additional 31 seats for Labour and a hung parliament—was, in many ways, reminiscent of the Sanders "revolution" in the United States, which posed a stark challenge to "the billionaire class" and a political establishment flush with corporate money. Sanders himself drew the comparison between his campaign and Corbyn's recently on a three-day U.K. speaking tour, during which he praised the Labour leader's "willingness to talk about class issues."

"These problems are not unique to the U.S.," Sanders noted. "Globalization has left far too many people behind. Workers all over the world are seeing a decline in their standard of living. Unfettered free trade has allowed multinational corporations to enjoy huge profits and make the very rich even richer while workers are sucked into a race for the bottom."

Corbyn utilized similar messaging. Under his leadership, the Labour Party this year published one of the most left-wing manifestos in its history, adopting a slogan Sanders backers surely recognized: "For the many, not the few."

It is unsurprising, then, that British voters were seen donning Sanders apparel as they cast their ballots for Labour.

Peter Bloom, writing for Common Dreamsargued the campaigns of Sanders and Corbyn both successfully harnessed similar forces, and thus "exposed the beginnings of a potentially new political mainstream."

Bloom concluded:

Corbyn's strong campaign is no small political achievement. Historically, he has altered the public discussion on major issues of the economy and foreign policy. He has also shown that a full throttled progressive agenda is not only not suicidal but potentially downright popular.

For many, Corbyn's remarkable surge in recent weeks and his performance in an election that was prematurely viewed as a landslide opportunity for the Conservatives is a strong indicator of the electoral viability of left populism and of the strong desire for systemic change.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 June 2017 14:21
 
Saving the Oceans, Saving the Future: Officials Tackle Marine Pollution PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 06 June 2017 06:13

 

Opening Ceremony of UN Ocean Conference. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

 

Opening Ceremony of UN Ocean Conference. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

 

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 6 2017 (IPS) - The oceans’ health is only getting worse and the cycle of decline must be reversed, said representatives at the opening of a high-level UN conference.

Approximately 5,000 representatives from governments, civil society, and the private sector from around the world have gathered at the UN for its first ever Ocean Conference, a high-level meeting which aims to address and mobilize action to improve the state of oceans.

“The health of our oceans and seas are inextricably linked with the health of our planet and all life on earth,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the full General Assembly hall.

Read more...
 
Bob Mueller - Special Counsel in Russia Investigation PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Dragonslayer   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 14:37

The US Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced on Wednesday that he has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election.  He will have the power to look into anything he wants including Trump's tax returns.  He will also be able to call the President to testify and persure criminal proceedings.

- sources: - NYT and CNN Wed May 17.2017

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 14:56
 
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