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Haiti: “Earthquake Relief” Helps Build New Luxury Hotel

Weekly News Update on the Americas | December 18, 2012

The Clinton Bush Fund, which former presidents Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George W. Bush (2001-2009) established shortly after Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, is closing down on Dec. 31, the group’s vice president for marketing and communications said on Dec. 7. The fund will have disbursed all of the $54.4 million it raised, she indicated. The organization says on its website that its goal was “to assist the Haitian people in building their own country back better.” The group says it has “[d]irectly created or sustained 7,350 jobs and counting” and “[d]irectly trained 20,050 people and counting.” (New York Times 12/7/12 from AP)

One of the fund’s projects—the Oasis Hotel in Pétionville, a suburb southeast of Port-au-Prince—opened on Dec. 12 with a soiree and 800 invitation-only guests. Munching hors-d’oeuvres and sipping “free-flowing wine,” the Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles wrote, the participants observed “the bamboo, locally grown orchids and sexy white furniture that lined the expansive courtyard.” The 128-room hotel cost $35 million to build; $2 million was provided by the Clinton Bush Fund [see Update #1080]. President Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) called the hotel “a symbol of the new Haiti.”

According to Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, Martelly’s government has approved a $161 million hotel project that will bring a total of 1,200 new hotel rooms to the country next year. A 106-room Best Western and an El Rancho with 72 rooms and 13 apartments are set to open in the coming months; Comfort Suites and Marriott are also planning hotels in Port-au-Prince. (Miami Herald 12/13/12)

On Dec. 10, two days before the Oasis opening, the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA), a grassroots housing coalition, issued a press release charging that Port-au-Prince area mayors, police agents, justices of the peace and property owners—some with questionable land titles—were continuing forcible evictions of people left homeless by the 2010 earthquake. Some 150 families were threatened, according to the group, which said the displaced persons camps at risk were Vilambeta at Caradeux in the northeastern suburb of Tabarre; Camp Gaston Margron, in the Mariani Zone of Carrefour, southwest of the capital; Fortuna Guery in Port-au-Prince; and Camp Cr3, at Delmas 60, a neighborhood in the Delmas commune east of downtown Port-au-Prince. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 12/10/12)

Some 360,000 people are still living in the camps or other temporary shelters almost three years after the earthquake—4% of Haiti’s population, according to Johan Peleman, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Haiti.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Iran discovers massive gas hydrate reserve in Sea of Oman

Press TV – December 18, 2012

Iran’s Research Institute of the Petroleum Industry (RIPI) says it has discovered giant gas hydrate reserves in the country’s territorial waters in the Sea of Oman.

“Based on the latest surveys conducted in the Sea of Oman… we have discovered gas hydrate reserves equaling the country’s total conventional oil and gas reserves,” RIPI project manager for exploration of hydrate gas reserves in Sea of Oman, Naser Keshavarz, said on Monday.

Keshavarz underlined the importance of using gas hydrate as replacement to fossil fuels, saying “After exploitation, every cubic meter of gas hydrate will produce heat equal to 164 cubic meters of gas.”

Gas hydrate is a crystalline water-based solid physically resembling ice, in which small non-polar molecules (typically gases) or polar molecules with large hydrophobic moieties are trapped inside ‘cages’ of hydrogen-bonded water molecules.

Iran, which sits on the world’s second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, has been trying to enhance its gas production by increasing foreign and domestic investments, especially in its South Pars Gas Field.

The South Pars Gas Field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers, i.e. the North Dome, are in Qatar’s territorial waters.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | 1 Comment

America’s Addiction to Violence

Our Major Global Export

By MARK GRAHAM | CounterPunch | December 18, 2012

The United States is the number one supplier of weapons on the planet, its military the world’s largest employer. Violence has become America’s major export to the world and we have reaped the financial rewards. The only problem is we’re addicted to the drug we’re peddling beyond our borders. The addiction passes on to the next generation through the discursive bloodstream and into the collective womb of culture. Throughout their early years we saturate our children with violent images and language: First person shooter games. Action heroes. Military heroes. Heroes with guns. Men with guns. Men using guns on other men and women and children and animals. We teach them the path of aggression, competition, and the joys of humiliating your opponents. Our entertainments provide orgies of righteous vengeance and self-piteous victimhood. And when one of our children unleashes his monstrous hate on other children we should be horrified—but we should not be surprised. We have taught our children well.

As a teacher and a parent, I could readily imagine the full horror of the massacre in Connecticut. I struggle to keep my children safe from any kind of danger. At my job, I have had to practice lockdowns and deal with bomb threats. I also know how fragile our sense of security is. Inevitably in the wake of tragedies like this, people call for stricter security. Make us safe, they implore.  Add more cops, more metal detectors, more guns to protect us from guns. All in vain. No matter how much we surrender our freedom for safety, how much we try to turn our homes and schools into fortresses, we will never be able to keep death from making that appointment in Samarra with us if he’s hell-bent on being there.

In the wake of the tragedy, my wife and I went out for some mindless entertainment—the latest James Bond film. Despite the critical accolades, it left a bad taste in our mouths.  Fifty years of James Bond, the film proclaimed in the final credits—and I wondered why I still bother to entertain myself with such tedious and joyless orgies of violence. It has become a habit—one acquired over decades of constant exposure—an addiction that no longer provides pleasure or even numbness. It’s more on the order of a repetition compulsion. The Dream Machine plays back the same spectacles of hypermasculine bodies and pyrotechnic destruction from one year to the next. The events in Connecticut make it easier than ever to see these films are lies: Shots fired and no pain, no disfigurement, no real danger. War with no fear, no trauma, no lingering nightmares.

The most warlike nation with the least number of people ever having felt the terrible impact of war, America entertains itself with killing. Our sports feel like combat, while the fantasies of combat we consume look like sport.  The mascot of the school district where I teach in rural Pennsylvania is a bullet.  Not a bulldog or huskie or owl or canary. A bullet—the same thing that killed twenty-six people in another school on Friday. Where I work many of us try our best to promote peace and tolerance, to expose students to different points of view, different cultures, different visions for the future. Nearby my school, there’s a shooting range.  When I go for walks during my lunch break I can almost always hear someone firing automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles, the gunshots echoing off my school’s feeble walls.

Inevitably and appropriately, voices rise up in the wake of these mass murders and cry out for gun control laws, for an end to violence, for America to wake up. Their counterparts froth at the mouth over the sacredness of the Constitution (which in all other cases they’re all too willing to discount). The feedback loop stumbles along with the old gun control versus liberty debate. The intractable points of view make for predictable and quickly-forgettable copy in the opinion columns. Soon we let the matter die.

The Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist in discussing the origins of genocide wrote, “It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.” So watch Obama weep as he proclaims: “Our hearts are broken today. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them…” Then ask yourself why he doesn’t weep for the children who die at his orders from drone attacks in Pakistan—eight times the number of children horribly murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Why are we surprised when the violence we wreak on the rest of the world should plant its poison seeds in the hearts of our children, turning them into murderers of children? If this tragedy means anything, it’s that America must confront its addiction to violence, to entertainments that equate manhood with killing, and to an entire political and economic system that privileges war-making over the future—and the precious lives—of our own children.

Mark Graham is a high school teacher in the Lehigh Valley. His books include: How Islam Created the Modern World and Afghanistan in the Cinema.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia: No blue helmets should enter Syria

Press TV – December 18, 2012

Russia has opposed any possible deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has been cited as saying, “There is neither peace [in Syria] for peacekeepers to keep, nor truce for them to monitor.”

The UN has been reportedly planning to deploy 10,000 peacekeepers inside Syria.

The Russian official has stated that “there is no clear separation line between the conflicting sides” in Syria.

Gatilov has also said Moscow would veto any UN Security Council resolution aimed at military intervention in Syria and criticized previous Security Council resolutions passed on the situations in Iraq and Libya, saying that those resolutions were misused to allow unilateral military interventions.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of Army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

Several international human rights organizations have accused the foreign-sponsored militants of committing war crimes.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

   

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