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‘Entire villages disappeared’: Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone ‘under-reported’

RT | November 1, 2014

Ebola’s toll on Sierra Leone is much greater than previously thought, with entire villages killed off by the virus. This means up to 20,000 people could have succumbed to the disease by now, a senior coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) believes.

According to Rony Zachariah, coordinator of operational research for MSF, the Ebola impact on Sierra Leone is in fact “under-reported,” AFP quotes.

“The situation is catastrophic. There are several villages and communities that have been basically wiped out. In one of the villages I went to, there were 40 inhabitants and 39 died,” Zachariah told the agency. “Whole communities have disappeared but many of them are not in the statistics. The situation on the ground is actually much worse.”

The latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) put the total number of dead at 4,951 out of 13,567 recorded cases.

But the real total could be up to 20,000 people dead, Zachariah argues. “The WHO says there is a correction factor of 2.5, so maybe it is 2.5 times higher and maybe that is not far from the truth. It could be 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000.”

Zachariah also highlighted the shortage of healthcare workers in the country.

“You have one nurse for 10,000 people and then you lose 10, 11, 12 nurses. How is the health system going to work?” he said.

Even at this point, the pace of dealing with Ebola is slow, he added. “We might get a vaccine and a treatment… but even now we need to go much faster because the clock is ticking…We want action now.”

Meanwhile, the latest cases of Ebola in Spain and the US have sparked fears of an even bigger outbreak, prompting Canada to step up its border security so as to limit the risk of infection spreading into the country.

The federal government announced on Friday it is suspending the processing of visa applications for residents and nationals who have been in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the last three months. The same goes for permanent residence applications. … Full article

READ MORE: Canada imposes visa ban on Ebola-hit African countries

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

Canadian police attack anti-austerity rally in Montreal

Press TV – October 31, 2014

Police have attacked thousands of demonstrators protesting against government spending cuts in the Canadian province of Quebec.

The anti-austerity protesters gathered outside the office of Quebec’s Premier Philippe Couillard in Montreal on Friday to condemn the local government’s plan to cut $3 billion from the province’s budget.

The Canadian police used force to disperse the anti-austerity protesters, saying the demonstration, which was dubbed “Austerity: A Horror story”, was unauthorized.

The demonstration, which started at 11 a.m. and ended at around 3 p.m. local time, was organized by a coalition of student unions, including Quebec House of Labour (Centrale des syndicats du Quebec), independent teachers’ federation, as well as Quebec Solidaire, a provincial political party.

“On the one hand, they’re very clear in their intention to cut. On the other hand they’re very clear in their intention not to get any money from people who actually have money,” said Joel Pedneault, a spokesperson for the coalition.

Pedneault further stated, “The orientation behind that is they just want to cut social spending. It’s an orientation against social spending and against our social programs which we fought so hard for in Quebec.”

Several demonstrators were arrested in the crackdown. The demonstration also caused heavy traffic in the area.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | 1 Comment

Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | October 31, 2014

Here is some more help for climate scientists suffering from pre-traumatic stress syndrome.

Via brainpickings, a very nice post A liberal decalogue: Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments  of teaching.  Excerpts:

From the third volume of The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1944-1969 comes this remarkable micro-manifesto, entitled A Liberal Decalogue — a vision for responsibilities of a teacher, in which Russell touches on a number of recurring themes from pickings past — the purpose of education, the value of uncertainty, the importance of critical thinking, the gift of intelligent criticism, and more.

It originally appeared in the December 16, 1951, issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

28 injured as clashes rage across Jerusalem overnight

Ma’an – 01/11/2014

JERUSALEM – At least 28 Palestinians were injured as clashes with Israeli forces continued into the late hours of the night on Friday across Jerusalem, as anger over a series of killings by Israeli police boiled over into the streets of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods.

Clashes broke out in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, al-Issawiya, al-Tur, and Wadi al-Joz, as hundreds marched and fought pitched battles with security forces in anger over the killing of Mutaz Hijazi, 32, early Thursday, as well as the killing of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, the week before.

Both men were suspected by authorities of involvement in violent incidents targeting Israelis. But Palestinians have been outraged by their killings, highlighting that instead of being arrested both were shot dead by police on sight.

An autopsy on Friday revealed that Mutaz Hijazi, 32, was shot 20 times by different officers and left to die on his rooftop, as Israeli police refused to allow locals to reach him — and later forced an ambulance to surrender his body, before returning it to the family late Thursday.

On Friday evening, Israeli forces raided the area around Hijazi’s home al-Thawri neighborhood in Silwan, and locals told Ma’an that soldiers attacked a tent set up by the mourning family where friends and relatives were dropping in to offer condolences.

Israeli forces reportedly fired stun grenades, tear-gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at mourners gathered at the tent, and several men and women suffered severe tear gas inhalation while many others were injured by rubber-coated bullets.

Activist Jihad Oweida told Ma’an that one mourner, Attiya Shabbaneh, was injured by shrapnel from stun grenades in his face and was taken to al-Maqasid Hospital for treatment.

In the Bir Ayyub neighborhood, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters at more than 200 Palestinian youths who had gathered to visit the mourning tent set up in Hijazi’s home.

Many suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation and one was injured and received a fracture in his foot. A Palestinian youth identified as Rami Salah was detained by Israeli forces.

An official responsible for ambulance and emergency services at the Palestinian Red Crescent, Amin Abu Ghazaleh, told Ma’an that 28 Palestinians suffered from light injuries, including from rubber-coated steel bullets injuries and tear-gas inhalation, while three were taken to hospitals after they were hit at close range with rubber-coated steel bullets in the head, legs, and stomach.

In the al-Issawiya neighborhood, meanwhile, dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters heavily during clashes that erupted as Israeli forces detained an unidentified Palestinian.

Clashes also erupted in the Sur Baher village, Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood, and other neighborhoods in the Old City of Jerusalem.

An Israeli police spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Old City security tight

Also on Friday, Israeli police released the director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Jawad Siyam, along with Yazan Siyam, Muntaser Faraj and Mahmoud Gaith who were all detained Friday on charges of “assaulting” Israeli settlers in September.

It was unclear why the arrests had taken place more than a month after the alleged assault, but some have speculated that the arrests were related to the political nature of the work of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, which focuses on resisting settler encroachment in the neighborhood of Silwan.

The four were released on the condition to pay a 500 shekels bill each, and were sentenced to house arrest until next Monday.

The clashes and arrests across Jerusalem came after days of intense security across the city, where Israeli police have deployed heavily amid four months of tensions between local Palestinians and occupation authorities.

Police, some in riot gear, guarded a series of checkpoints leading from the Old City’s outer gates all the way to the Al-Aqsa compound, an AFP correspondent said.

They checked identity papers of people passing between the barricades, both those on their way to pray and those who worked nearby.

Zuheir Dana, 67, said he was unable to get from his shop to his home.

“I wanted just to get home, which is about 50 meters (yards) away from the Al-Aqsa compound, but police didn’t let me through,” he said.

“It’s been bad every day here since Ramadan,” he added, referring to the Muslim holy month that fell in July.

Markets in the Old City, normally bustling on a Friday morning, were nearly deserted due to the security measures.

The security measures followed the unprecedented complete closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam — for the first time since 1967, which ignited protest across the Arab world and even from the United States.

Palestinian community officials say the wave of unrest gripping the city is fueled by a sense of hopelessness resulting from Israel’s policies in occupied East Jerusalem, which have left many young people with a sense that they have nothing to lose.

The arrests of hundreds over summer for participation in protests against Israel’s massive assault on Gaza — which left nearly 2,200 dead in the tiny coastal enclave — has only added fuel to the fire.

Although Palestinians in East Jerusalem live within territory Israel has unilaterally annexed, they lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as “residents” whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.

They face discrimination in all aspects of life including housing, employment, and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel’s separation wall.

East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate abroad.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Report: Israeli settlements have doubled in the last four years

MEMO | October 31, 2014

The number of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land have doubled in the last 54 months, UN Commission on Human Rights member Cees Flinterman said today.

Flinterman presented the fourth stage of a report monitoring activity of Israel’s practices in Palestinian territory at a press conference held at the United Nations in Geneva.

He said: “We are concerned by the level of violence that settlers are using against Palestinian civilians and property owners in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

The UN official asked Israel to halt settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land adding: “We have yet to receive an official response from Israel in regards to the increased number of settlements in the West Bank.”

Flinterman also expressed his disappointment at the fact that the Israeli government refuses to recognise that torture is a crime. “The committee is greatly disappointed in Israel for not recognising that torture is a crime. The torture and mistreatment that Israel practices in detention centres is a serious problem and we call on Israel to address them within a year’s time.”

Nigel Rodley, president of the UN Commission on Human Rights, pointed out that the situation in the region has not changed despite the number of international efforts in the region; very few changes have been implemented. Rodley also pointed out that the UN Commission on Human Rights criticised the latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and called on Tel Aviv to conduct the necessary investigations into human rights violations.

The UN committee’s report stressed the need to investigate Israeli violations in the 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014 wars on the Gaza Strip.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Argentina warns US against slandering Buenos Aires over debts

Press TV – November 1, 2014

ArgentinaArgentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has warned the United States against the serious consequences of what she called US officials’ slandering Buenos Aires over its debts.

In a harsh five-page letter on Friday, the Argentina president criticized US President Barack Obama’s choice of hire for a high-level advisory position in his administration.

“Could this be a case of namesakes?” Fernandez asks her American counterpart, referring to Nancy Soderberg, a politician who Obama appointed as head of a board at the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), while also holding co-chair position at the American Task Force Argentina (ATFA), the most prominent well-funded lobby group in opposition to Argentina’s debt refinancing efforts.

According to the letter, the ATFA, which has spent millions of dollars lobbying against Argentina, is “an entity specifically created to attack and slander the Argentine Republic and its President.”

The Argentina president said it is a conflict of interest for Soderberg to give sound advice to the president and other US officials because Soderberg’s organization has received payments from one of the vulture funds.

“If confirmed by you, [this] would have grave implications for relations between our two countries,” Kirchner wrote in her letter.

“As you are certainly aware, the functions of the PIDB encompass sensitive issues of national security and include giving advice to the president and to other US executive branch officials,” she added.

Argentina is currently contesting its disputed debts in US courts.

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Will the EU and IDB Fund Human Rights-Free Zones in Honduras?

By Dan Beeton | CEPR | October 31, 2014

Karen Spring of the Honduran Solidarity Network writes that in a recent meeting

… Juan Orlando Hernández (President of Honduras), Daniel Ortega (President of Nicaragua), and Salvador Sánchez Cerén (President of El Salvador) defined their nation’s [sic] interests in projects that would develop the [shared area of the Gulf of Fonseca] and came to an agreement on investments in the following sectors: Infrastructure, tourism, agroindustry, and renewable energy.

The meeting declaration mentions, among other projects

… the “implementation of a Employment and Economic Development Zone (ZEDE) [known as a Model City] that includes a logistics park.” The idea is to convert the Gulf into a “Free Trade and Sustainable Development Zone.”

Radio Progreso has noted that the Honduran government is courting investment for the projects from “the European Union [and] the Inter-American Development Bank and is seeking investors in Panama and the United States.”

The ZEDEs, or “model cities,” are areas in which large portions of the Honduran constitution will not apply, including various sections that apply to fundamental and internationally-recognized human rights.

A National Lawyers Guild (NLG) delegation recently traveled to Honduras to investigate the legal implications of the proposed ZEDEs. In a report released in September, the NLG described how few articles of the constitution residents of the ZEDEs would actually enjoy:

Chapter I, Article 1 of the ZEDE law states that Articles 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 19 of the Constitution are fully applicable. These provisions define the territorial limits of Honduras, obligate Honduras to international treaties and forbid the ratification of treaties that damage Honduras’ territorial integrity or sovereignty. The remaining sections of the Honduran Constitution, a document of 379 articles, will have only the effect that they are given by an agreement between the Committee for the Adoption of Best Practices (CABP), the independent governing board of the ZEDEs and the corporate promoters seeking to develop the land. [Emphasis added.]

Many fundamental rights of Honduran citizens who live within the borders of ZEDEs are not protected under the new ZEDE law. These rights include: the right to Habeas Corpus or Amparo 20 , Article 183; the inviolability of a right to life, 65; guarantees of human dignity and bodily integrity, 68; the guarantee against the extraction of forced labor, 69; freedom of expression, 72; protections for a free press, 73; freedom of religion, 77; guarantees of assembly and association, 78, 79, and 80; freedom of movement, 81; the right to a defense, to court access, and to counsel for indigents, 82 and 83; and freedom from non-legal detainment, 84 and 85.

Who is this CABP who will govern the ZEDEs and determine which basic human rights will be granted to their residents?

The 21-member CABP, which was announced in February 2014, includes nine US citizens, three Europeans and only four Hondurans. The CABP is dominated by neoliberal and libertarian activists, several with close connections to former President Ronald Reagan [including Grover Norquist and Mark Klugmann].

Ironically, the ZEDEs are being promoted by some libertarian intellectuals and “activists” as perhaps “the freest cities in the world” despite the fact that the zones will shred another fundamental right, and one usually considered sacred to libertarians: property rights. The NLG explains:

A further particularly troubling aspect of the ZEDE law relates to the provisions that allow for the placement of ZEDEs in areas of “low population density,” and in municipalities in the departments adjoining the Gulf of Fonseca and the Caribbean Sea, without prior consultation with the affected communities.

As an example, the report cites the historic Garifuna community of Rio Negro at Trujillo in Colón, which was disrupted by shady land deals ahead of foreign investment. “ZEDEs have created an increased the fear of such incidents in the future,” the NLG states.

Further down, the report elaborates that “ZEDEs do not present Hondurans with authentic choice because they can be imposed on unwilling communities without any referendum,” and that “If the Honduran National Statistics Institute declares the area to have a lower than average population density for a rural area, Congress may impose a ZEDE on any existing communities in that area without even the basic protection of a referendum.”

The NLG notes that “These provisions … violate international law.”

As both the NLG report and Radio Progreso describe, communities in Zacate Grande and Amapala are among those threatened with losing property to ZEDEs that might be “imposed” on them. As attorney Lauren Carasik, one of the authors of the NLG report, wrote in Foreign Affairs in August, “If Zacate Grande is subsumed into the first ZEDE, the island’s 5,000 inhabitants will lose the right to help determine what happens to its land or its resources.”

This is why, as Spring reported,

Last week on October 23, communities and individuals from all over Southern Honduras (El Transito, Nacaome, Amapala, Zacate Grande, Tegucigalpa, etc) crossed the beautiful Gulf of Fonseca – from Coyolito to Amapala – to participate in a march against the ZEDE project proposed for the area. While some participants handed out copies of the ZEDE law, over 500 people marched from the Amapala dock to the municipality office.

Amapala and neighboring communities are being sidelined from the decision-making process that could lead to ZEDEs in their region of Southern Honduras. Radio Progreso reports that while the Korea International Cooperation Agency is funding a feasibility study for the Gulf of Fonseca region, the study has not been presented to the mayors of the relevant municipalities, Alianza, Nacaome and Amapala en Valle. Residents of the areas being considered for ZEDEs are being told very little. NLG investigators explain that

Virtually everyone in the Gulf of Fonseca region who spoke with the delegation voiced concerns about the government’s unwillingness to explain the effects that ZEDEs will have on existing communities within their borders.

…despite the ZEDEs’ potential to nullify existing labor contracts and labor laws in their territory, members of the union of workers at the port that operates in the Gulf of Fonseca have been told nothing. They fear that the arrival of a ZEDE will spell the end of their jobs when a proposed port at Amapala replaces their livelihood.

The Gulf is just one of 14 “potential zones” the Honduran government is considering.

As Radio Progreso notes, the Liberty and Refundation (LIBRE) party is hoping to see the repeal of the constitutional amendment and the organic law facilitating establishment of the ZEDEs. Instead, LIBRE is proposing forms of investment that don’t involve “the surrender of national sovereignty and territory.”

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporate Destruction of Free Markets Rules Us

By Ralph Nader | October 30, 2014

The ruling dogma of our political economy is corporatism. Corporatism claims to draw legitimacy from the free market theory that all vendors who do not meet market demands will go under. Corporatism uses this illusion to exert power over all aspects of our political economy.

Free markets, corporatists believe, are the best mechanism to allocate resources for the exchange of goods and services. They believe markets free of regulation, taxation or competition from government enterprises produce the best results. Their favorite metaphor is Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people by the exertions of many willing sellers and many willing buyers (Adam Smith, they neglected to add, favored public works, public education and social safety nets like decent wages and public welfare as needed.)

Many things intrude on free market theories including military expenditures, wars, taxation, public infrastructure, health and safety regulation and governments’ emergency duties. What financier George Soros has called “market fundamentalism,” is opposed to any interference with free markets. Yet, corporatism makes massive exceptions that rig markets and tilt the seller-buyer balance heavily in favor of the former who become bigger and bigger global corporations.

Market critics call this hypocrisy. Corporations push for larger military budgets, which have concentrated power in ever fewer military contractors. What are less recognized and more part of the culture of acceptance are the other interferences with free markets, which corporate power has entrenched so deeply that they are rarely part of any political or election-time debate.

Let this point be made in the form of questions rarely asked and therefore rarely answered.

Can there be a free market without freedom of contract? Corporatism has stripped consumers of freedom of contract with fine-print standard-form contracts that become more dictatorial every decade. They now often take away consumers rights to go to court for their grievances via compulsory arbitration clauses. They stipulate that the vendors can change the contract anyway they want – called unilateral modification – which takes away the last vestiges of consumer bargaining power. An example is the unilateral changes in what you have to pay in penalties, late fees or any hundreds of fees hidden in the fine print. And you can’t shop around because companies don’t compete over the fine print. (See faircontracts.org.)

Can there be a free market if workers cannot join together to bargain with large employers whose investors have expanding freedom to form companies, holding companies, subsidiaries, joint ventures and partnerships to advance their bargaining power? Moreover, in comparison with the freedom of investors, workers are besieged with union-busting intimidations, lockouts and a system of corporate-driven labor laws that present far more obstacles to go through than is the case with the labor laws of other Western nations.

Can there be a free market without strong and comprehensive anti-monopoly, anti-cartel and other laws against the myriad of anti-competitive practices that Adam Smith alluded to back in 1776 when he warned of the motives when businessmen gather together?

Today, the antitrust laws are weak, dated and little enforced with puny budgets.

For example, thousands of joint ventures between direct competitors are being formed without concern of the moribund antitrust police. There is globalization of businesses without globalization of law enforcement. Big companies can leverage the differences between nations in a race to the bottom to unfairly gain market power against buyers, workers and small businesses.

Can there be a free market without a free market of retaining lawyers to pursue wrongful injuries and fraud by both direct negotiation with the perpetrators or resorting to open, public courts? In our country, such private disputes are not socialized by government. They are given over to a market system of legal and other supplementary services. Yet corporatism strives strongly to block or limit, through captive legislators, access to the courts or tie the hands of judges and juries, the only people who see, hear and evaluate the evidence in each case.

Can there be a free market when corporatists produce crony capitalism or torrents of corporate welfare tax escapes, subsidies, handouts and bailouts that rig markets against other smaller businesses that are playing by the rules of the market?

Can there be a free market when corporate-managed trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO), subordinate civic efforts to secure better labor, environmental and consumer treatments to the supremacy of commercial trade? (Seehttp://www.citizen.org/trade/.)

Finally, can there be a free market when the banks fund and control the powerful, secretive Federal Reserve that tightly regulates interest rates and can buy trillions of dollars in bonds (aka quantitative easing – QE) to juice the stock markets and the banks, while tens of millions of savers receive less than half of one percent in interest on their savings? Libertarians, to their credit, have noted this abuse by this corporate government more clearly than have many liberals.

There are other corporate controls against the free market, such as politically extending already lengthy patent monopolies to ward off competition by, for instance, generic drug producers.

Suffice it to say that the American people have enough evidence to abandon the ideological hypocrisy that corporatism uses to control them.

Corporatism, in reality, is the corporate state – a tyranny, greased by big money in elections – never envisioned by the framers of our Constitution when they started its preamble with “We the People.”

Wake up call, anyone? (See citizen.org for more information.)

 

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics | , | 1 Comment