Iran: a war is coming

The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of “buying time” for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a “surge” of American troops in Iraq, George W Bush identified Iran as his real target. “We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria”, he said. “And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

“Networks” means Iran. “There is solid evidence,” said a State Department spokesman on 24 January, “that Iranian agents are involved in these networks and that they are working with individuals and groups in Iraq and are being sent there by the Iranian government.” Like Bush’s and Blair’s claim that they had irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons of mass destruction, the “evidence” lacks all credibility. Iran has a natural affinity with the Shia majority of Iraq, and has been implacably opposed to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United States in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others, including British military officials, have concluded that Iran is not engaged in the cross-border supply of weapons. General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said no such evidence exists.

As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition grows, “neocon” fanatics such as Vice-President Cheney believe their opportunity to control Iran’s oil will pass unless they

— source johnpilger.com | john pilger | 1 Feb 2007

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New Mandi Law Proves Costly for Madhya Pradesh’s Farmers

Mandi ke bahar ek vyapari ko becha hai to pichle panch mahino se paise ke liye daur raha hun, FIR bhi kiya, per paise nahi mila, (I sold my produce to a trader outside the mandi and have been running around since five months for payment. I even lodged an FIR but to no avail), says Manoj Dhakar (25), one the 13 farmers who say they have been cheated by a trader in Madhya Pradesh’s Guna district.

Hoping to get a better price for their crops aided by the new farm laws enacted by the Madhya Pradesh government, 13 farmers of Jamra village of Guna, like Dhakar, sold their produce worth Rs 20.02 lakh to a trader in June, however, over five months have passed but their wait seems unending.

Such cases of traders vanishing without paying have also propped up in districts like Jabalpur, Gwalior, Balaghat, Barwani and Hoshangabad. In Hoshangabad, Barwani and Jabalpur, the administration came to rescue of the cultivators after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted, while in Gwalior and Balaghat, the matter is still unresolved.

Dhakar has spent the past over five months running between the offices of the district collector and superintendent of police, seeking their assistance in somehow recovering the Rs 1.20 lakh that

— source newsclick.in | Kashif Kakvi | 22 Dec 2020

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Millions Could Lose Homes Amid COVID Pandemic

As U.S. hospitalizations from COVID-19 hit another record high, we begin today’s show looking at the crisis of evictions and how millions across the country could be forced to leave their homes in the middle of the pandemic if Congress does not extend the federal eviction moratorium that’s due to expire at the end of the year. Congress is expected to extend the moratorium by one month, to January 31st, in the $900 billion stimulus bill currently still being debated in Washington. But this is just a temporary fix. The U.S. Census Bureau reports one-third of U.S. households are behind on rent or mortgage payments and will likely face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Meanwhile, many have already faced eviction despite the national moratorium.

New research finds more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 11,000 deaths resulted from evictions, after many states allowed eviction moratoriums to expire over the summer.

Tara Raghuveer talking:

It’s important to realize that the federal moratorium that’s due to end wasn’t good enough to begin with. It didn’t come until September, and that was months after people in places like Kansas City had been evicted and forced to the streets in the middle of a global pandemic. The CDC moratorium only

— source democracynow.org | Dec 18, 2020

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Loujain al-Hathloul to 5+ Years in Prison for Her Activism

In Saudi Arabia, authorities have sentenced prominent women’s right activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison on charges of agitating for change, pursuing a foreign agenda and using the internet to harm public order. Al-Hathloul was arrested in 2018 after leading a movement to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Her family says she has been held in solitary confinement and was subjected to abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. Al-Hathloul’s sister says authorities may suspend part of her sentence, making her eligible for release in two months. She’s also banned from traveling for five years.

— source democracynow.org | Dec 28, 2020

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New energy conversion layer for biosolar cells

A research team from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), together with colleagues from Lisbon, has produced a semi-artificial electrode that could convert light energy into other forms of energy in biosolar cells. The technique is based on the photosynthesis protein Photosystem I from cyanobacteria. The group showed that they could couple their system with an enzyme that used the converted light energy to produce hydrogen. The results were published online in advance in October 2020 in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

— source Ruhr-University Bochum | Dec 21, 2020

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Survivors of ICE Medical Abuse Speak Out

Dozens of immigrant women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia have joined a class-action lawsuit against ICE over allegations they were subjected to nonconsensual and invasive gynecological procedures and surgeries that were later found to be unnecessary, and in some cases left them unable to have children. The lawsuit cites sworn testimony from at least 35 women about their treatment by Mahendra Amin, a physician in Ocilla, Georgia, and describes retaliation and threats of deportation for speaking out. “We have more than 40 women who filed sworn testimony in court despite consistent attempts by ICE to silence them,” says Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South and co-counsel for women at Irwin who say they were subjected to these procedures. We also speak with two women who say they underwent unnecessary medical procedures: Wendy Dowe, who was deported to Jamaica after she says her fallopian tubes were removed without her consent, and Elizabeth, who is detained at the Irwin County ICE jail and who says she faced retaliation for speaking up about her unnecessary medical treatment.

— source democracynow.org | Dec 28, 2020

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Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work but Build-Up Does

How should the huge financial costs of the pandemic be paid for, as well as the other deferred needs of society after this annus horribilis?

Politicians rarely want to raise taxes on the rich. Joe Biden promised to do so but a closely divided Congress is already balking.

That’s because they’ve bought into one of the most dangerous of all economic ideas: that economic growth requires the rich to become even richer. Rubbish.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once dubbed it the “horse and sparrow” theory: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

We know it as trickle-down economics.

In a new study, David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London lay waste to the theory. They reviewed data over the last half-century in advanced economies and found that tax cuts for the rich widened inequality without having any significant effect on jobs or growth. Nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, the rich have become far richer. Since the start of the pandemic, just 651 American billionaires have gained $1 trillion of wealth. With this windfall they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Don’t hold your breath.

— source robertreich.org | Robert Reich | Dec 20, 2020

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The W.T.O. Is Having a Midlife Crisis

If the World Trade Organization were a person, it would be that dude at the bar drinking the afternoon away in his business suit and wondering where it all went wrong. He used to be a big shot.

When the W.T.O. was created in 1995 to write the rule book for international trade and to referee disputes between countries, it was popular and powerful. Unlike most international bodies, it has a dispute-resolution mechanism that was widely used. Its decisions had teeth. If W.T.O. judges decided that a country wasn’t playing by the rules, judges could authorize retaliatory tariffs so that victims could recoup their losses. Even a superpower like the United States generally obeyed the rulings of its seven-member Appellate Body. If a member nation had a law that ran afoul of the W.T.O. treaty, then that law had to go.

But now the W.T.O. is all washed up. Like Rodney Dangerfield, it gets no respect. Its two biggest economies — China and the United States — are in a trade war, issuing tit-for-tat tariffs that violate its rules. No one fears the wrath of its Appellate Body anymore because that body has ceased to function. No new judges have been appointed to replace the old ones whose terms expired. Member states are actively floating alternatives. Its director general resigned in frustration a year before his term was up.

It’s tempting to believe that Mr. W.T.O. ended up drunk at this bar because he got punched in the nose by President Trump. There’s some truth to that. Mr. Trump did cripple the W.T.O. when he refused to appoint new judges so he could get out of having to abide by decisions he didn’t like. But the W.T.O.

— source nytimes.com | Farah Stockman | Dec. 17, 2020

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When Revocation of Palestinians’ Residency Really Means Expulsion

My thankless task this time is to explain why the following statistic is disgusting: In 1994 Israel revoked the residency status of 25,645 Palestinians born in the West Bank. That is almost one-fifth of the number of Palestinians whose residency status was revoked after the occupation of the territories in 1967: 140,000.

In our times, when the threshold of what is disgusting keeps mounting, and when the demonstrations near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence exhaust Israel’s critical energies, the task at hand is particularly difficult. But we’ll try anyway.

So where were we? In 1994. The prime minister is Yitzhak Rabin, the defense minister is Shimon Peres, the government is comprised of a coalition of Labor, Meretz and Shas. It’s the year of accelerated negotiations for an interim agreement with the Palestinians, on the way to a final status phase, which was still being called “peace” by believers. In May that year the Palestinian Authority was established. There was talk of disbanding the Civil Administration.
And still, from January to October 1994, the well-oiled machine of the administration – the executive arm of Israeli governmental policy in the occupied Palestinian territory – categorized more than 25,000 West Bank Palestinians as “ceased being a resident.” An order from above? A local initiative? We don’t know.

It’s only clear that right before the handling of the population registry was transferred from the

— source Jews For Justice For Palestinians | Amira Hass | Dec 21, 2020

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