The Iranian revolution continues:
Iranian women’s rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign, “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws,” which aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women, is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign will be officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled: “The Impact of Laws on Women’s Lives.”
But the authorities do not let them to hold their seminar & claimed that they should get permission from the ministry. According to the current law of Iran, holding seminars & peaceful demonstrations do not need any legal permission.
The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box.
This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government’s calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.
“It’s all going to be private enterprise before it’s over,” Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for Tropical Storm Ernesto, said in April. “They’ve got the expertise. They’ve got the resources.”
But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it’s time to take a look at where the privatization of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.
The first step was the government’s abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).
We saw the results in New Orleans one year ago: Washington was frighteningly weak and inept, in part because its emergency management experts had fled to the private sector and its technology and infrastructure had become positively retro. At least by comparison, the private sector looked modern and competent (a New York Times columnist even suggested handing FEMA over to Wal-Mart).
The Jewish establishment is clearly unprepared or unwilling to engage honestly with the Zionist cause and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. After last Sunday’s sold-out debate at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival – and the Australian Jewish News’ blatantly dishonest interpretation of the same event – today’s Melbourne Age features a letter from one of the usual suspects:
Robert Richter, Antony Loewenstein and Julian Burnside advise the Jewish community to promote freedom of thought and speech, find its collective voice, and be prepared to criticise Israel if it disagreed with its policies ( The Age, 28/8). However, their advice is gratuitous, unfounded and based on a nonsensical premise.
The Jewish community is about as democratic as it’s possible for a religious-ethnic community to be. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria consists of representatives of more than 50 organisations, encompassing a wide range of religious outlooks and political opinions.
The principal reason why there are no loud voices against Israel is that the community sympathises with Israel and understands the nature of the threat against it. If Loewenstein, or anyone else in the Jewish community, doesn’t share those sympathies and considers the threat not worth worrying about, they are free to hold and express those opinions.
As for the premise that Israeli policies and actions are responsible for promoting anti-Semitism, this is ludicrous. Actually, anti-Semitism is caused by anti-Semites. Tough Israeli policies — sometimes necessary in Israel’s fight for survival — merely provide an excuse for anti-Semites to feel free to spout their hatred.
Paul Gardner, executive member, Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Let me get this straight. People are anti-Semitic simply for no reason, a sickness borne out of a malignant hatred of Jews. Israeli actions are totally unrelated. To believe this is as deluded as believing that anti-Americanism is unrelated to US foreign policy in the Middle East. Furthermore, the wide variety of viewpoints in the Jewish community leadership is remarkably well hidden. When it comes to Israel, the default setting is switched on 100% of the time. Such intellectual laziness is dangerous for both Israel and the Jews.
As for Israel’s “tough policies”, I suppose the illegal occupation of Palestine and deliberate targeting of civilians is something the world just has to get used to. Thankfully, Gardner knows the global community is slowing turning against a nation that somehow believes Jewish history insulates it from criticism or censure.
Disaster profiteers make millions while local companies and laborers in New Orleans and the rest of the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast region are systematically getting the short end of the stick, according to a major new report from the nonprofit CorpWatch.
A CorpWatch analysis of FEMA’s records shows that “fully 90 percent of the first wave of (the post-Katrina reconstruction) contracts awarded – including some of the biggest no-bid contracts to date — went to companies from outside the three worst-affected states. As of July 2006, after months of controversy and Congressional hearings, companies from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had increased their share of the total contracts to a combined 16.6 percent.” The CorpWatch analysis shows that more federal reconstruction contracts have gone to Virginia and Indiana – usually large, politically connected corporations – than to any of the three Katrina-devastated states.
The CorpWatch report also exposes abusive “contracting charge pyramids” where the companies doing the actual reconstruction work often get only a tiny (and insufficient) fraction of the taxpayer money awarded for projects and widespread non-payment of local companies and laborers, including what has been alleged to be the deliberate and systematic exploitation of immigrant workers, including undocumented individuals.
“One year after disaster struck, the slow-motion rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region looks identical to what has happened to date in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see a pattern of profiteering, waste and failure – due to the same flawed contracting system and even many of the same players” says CorpWatch Director Pratap Chatterjee. “The process of getting Katrina-stricken areas back on their feet is needlessly behind schedule, in part, due to the shunning of local business people in favor of politically connected corporations from elsewhere in the U.S. that have used their clout to win lucrative no-bid contracts with little or no accountability and who have done little or no work while ripping off the taxpayer.”
The US government is very experienced at outsourcing war work.
When the mainstream media shamefully exaggerates the “terrorist threat” – thankfully critiqued by the Australian public broadcaster – it’s more than time to realise that corporate journalists should be strongly challenged by the general public.
Daniel Benjamin, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, examines the term “Islamo-fascism“:
“There is no sense in which jihadists embrace fascist ideology as it was developed by Mussolini or anyone else who was associated with the term,” he said.
“This is an epithet, a way of arousing strong emotion and tarnishing one’s opponent, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the content of their beliefs.
“The people who are trying to kill us, Sunni jihadist terrorists, are a very, very different breed.”
A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferencz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting “aggressive” wars – Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.
After the Iraqi war fraud, we are being set up again, this time over Iran.