From RobertsCourt.com :
...The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menaces of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell - and some justice on their side.
Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” - from 1650 to 1730 - the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: Pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't?
In his book “Villains of All Nations,” the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then - plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry - you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the cat o' nine tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.
The words of one pirate from that lost age - a young British man called William Scott - should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.”...
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
From RobertsCourt.com :
Our medium is our message!
"With a single glance at the underside of my tongue the teacher would control if I had spoken the forbidden language at home. When I was a child I still spoke my native tongue“ H.K., Diyarbakir
To stick out your tongue is more than a universal sign of disobedience.
The Errorist project is centred on the search for failures. Its art project „qwx - show ur lingua“ aims to counter the politics which homogenise the subjectivity of people living within the boundaries of Turkey, people who have a variety of ethnic and cultural identities. By prompting people to upload images of their tongues sticking out „qwx - show ur lingua“ aims to create a space of resistance.
Within Turkish society subjects who resist and who live in opposition to the politics of homogenisation are regarded as traitors and are demonised by the Turkish state and by society at large. This demonization is not only a recourse to a mythical being to shape the political and historical perception of the other but also a symbol embedded into everyday language that invokes the unknown, the threatening, and the unintelligible.
Sticking out your tongue deforms the submissive and pleasing expression power and authority expects to see. The face that sticks out its tongue disrespects power and authority by breaking codes of communication that are accepted socially. It provides the demonised other with the means to adopt an image attributed to him/herself and to re-signify it in a way that makes visible its internal other.
Our medium is our message!
The aim of the project is to combine the universal meaning of sticking out your tongue, disobedience, with the demands of the subjects which do not identify themselves as Turks and whose native tongues are not the official language. Those demands are the recognition of their difference and the right to education in their own languages.
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This unprecedented H1N1-H5N1 flu outbreak implicates the Ango-American Vaccine Pipeline, says world leading consumer health protector, Dr. Leonard Horowitz
Consider the skyrocketing stock values of Novavax, Inc., precipitated by dozens of alleged flu deaths in Mexico. Then investigate the leading Anglo-American network of genetic engineers manipulating, mutating, and distributing these viruses. The evidence compels you, for the benefit of public health and safety to seriously consider, even decree, a conspiracy to commit genocide, according to this Harvard trained expert in emerging diseases.
Here, Dr. Horowitz urges an investigation of Dr. James S. Robertson, Englands leading bioengineer of flu viruses for the vaccine industry, and avid promoter of U.S. Government funding for lucrative biodefense contracts, along with collaborators at the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). These suspects helped Novavax, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland, produce genetically-modified recombinants of the avian, swine, and Spanish flu viruses, H5N1 and H1N1, nearly identical to the unprecedented Mexican virus that is allegedly spreading to the United States at the time of this posting. The outbreak was precisely timed to promote the companys new research and huge vaccine stockpiling contracts.
Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are implicated through collaborations and publications involving private contracts with Novavax, a company that obtains its biosimulars through CDC Influenza Branch director, Ruben O. Donis, and Dr. Rick Bright, previously working with Donis at the CDC, now Novavaxs Vice President of Global Influenza Programs.
Descriptions of this virus is pathognomonic, or diagnostic, of a virus that came from Robertsons circle of friends, Dr. Horowitz charges. No other group in the world takes H5N1 Asian flu infected chickens, brings them to Europe, extracts their DNA, combines their proteins with H1N1 viruses from the 1918 Spanish flu isolate, additionally mixes in swine flu genes from pigs, then reverse engineers them to infect humans. The end product could only have ended up in Mexico via the United States from Britain in care of the CDC. The CDC had to have sent them to Novavax, where Rick Brights team is now implicated in a conspiracy to commit genocide—the mass killing of people for profit.
"This 'demo in 64 kilobytes' and winner of the demoparty Mekka-Symposium 2002 is with no doubt a must see when you are interested in computer art. After the 6 minutes you'll probably ask yourself how they put all that stuff in just 64k? But since the appearance of Conspiracy we know that even more is possible ;) "
New York Times bestselling author Mark Albion's 3-minute animated movie "The Good Life" produced with Free Range Studios (The Story of Stuff; The Meatrix) and based on Mark's new book, More Than Money.
"The Good Life" takes you to a chance meeting between an MBA and a fisherman on a small island. As the MBA tries to teach the fisherman about business, the fisherman teaches him about life.
Military Intelligence Leads to Eight Men Detained, Tortured, Charged with Organized Crime in Disputed Agua Azul Region
In an operation that bears all the marks of drug war-style repression, state and federal police detained six adherents to the Other Campaign, one Zapatista, and one unaffiliated man in Agua Azul, Chiapas. The military was also involved; it shot six warning shots into the air with live ammunition at a protest blockade, and it provided military intelligence that Chiapas state officials say was used to detain the men.
The Agua Azul region is an area that in recent years has been the site of violent attacks against Zapatistas perpetrated by members of the paramilitary Organization For Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC). OPDDIC members allegedly participated in the operation.
The state government reports that it intends to charge the detained men with aggravated robbery, assault, and organized crime. Additionally, the government intends to charge the man without organizational affiliation, Juan Alfredo Gomez Moreno, with the kidnapping of a Guerrero senator. The senator, David Jimenez Rumbo, wrote a letter to the national daily La Jornada explaining that he was never kidnapped and that he never filed any charges to that effect.
Troubles began on April 13 when an Other Campaign adherent from San Sebastian Bachajon in the Agua Azul region, Jerónimo Gómez Saragos, went to the city of Ocosingo with five other residents from his ejido (communally owned land) to run errands. The group agreed to meet up at the Caballo Negro store in Ocosingo to leave for their community together. Jerónimo never arrived. At 4pm fellow edijadatario Carlos Hernández Bilchis informed the group that he saw state police grab Jerónimo.
That night, a commission made up of Antonio Gómez Saragos, Miguel Demeza Jiménez, Sebastián Demeza Deara, Pedro Demeza Deara, and Gerónimo Moreno Deara (also referred to as Jeronimo Deara Junto) set out from the Bachajon ejido to investigate Jerónimo's arrest. According to ejido authorities, state police pulled them over in Temó (Chilón municipality), severely beat the five men, and took them to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez where some of them were tortured.
Once the men were in Tuxtla, the state government announced that it had detained a gang of robbers that operated along the highway between the Palenque and Agua Azul tourist destinations. The men, the government claims, stopped busses and robbed passengers at gunpoint.
In paid inserts designed to look like newspaper articles, the government printed large pictures of the detained men and the "weapons" it claims it confiscated from them: pliers, balaclavas, machetes, a walkie-talkie (there is no phone service available in many indigenous communities), and car keys. The paid inserts, which appeared in the national daily La Jornada and the Chiapas newspaper Cuarto Poder, were designed to look like newspaper articles announcing the detention of drug barons.
It is worth noting that the government has not announced the decommission of the guns it claims the men used in the robberies: .9mm and .38 caliber pistols.
In President Felipe Calderon's fight against organized crime, "organized crime" is commonly assumed to refer to Mexico's notorious drug trafficking organizations. However, as documented in the Narco News article "Regime of Exception: Mexico's Two-Track Justice System," Mexico's legal system distinguishes between organized crime and other crimes, ceding significantly fewer rights to the former. Human rights organizations have criticized the system, saying that a two-track justice system that separates suspects into citizens with rights and supercriminals without rights leaves everyone at risk for violations of internationally consensed-upon due process and human rights.
Because the six men have been accused (though not formally charged) with organized crime, the government has put them under arraigo, or pre-charge detention, for a period of 30 days. The Chiapas-based Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) says that it has "repeatedly denounced that the State Attorney General's Office systematically uses arraigo as an instrument of subjugation and torture in order to extract confessions, not only against members of organized crime, but also against social organizations and movements." Under Mexico's recent judicial reform, which has yet to be fully implemented, arraigo is reserved for people accused of organized crime, rape, homicide, kidnapping, violent crimes, and crimes against national security.
Jerónimo Gómez Saragos told Frayba that his torture begin the moment he was detained. He said that when the state police grabbed him, they punched him in the throat and back. They also planted a cell phone and a camera in his pants pocket (presumably to accuse him of having robbed them from a bus). After the police took him to Tuxtla Gutierrez, they blindfolded him. Utilizing a torture method that sounds strikingly similar to waterboarding, they put a wet towel over his nose and put a bag filled with water over his head. When the government finally permitted human rights observers to see Jerónimo, he had difficulty moving his left arm and he walked with a limp. He says government agents forced him to sign a confession that they didn't read to him. Jerónimo's first language is Tseltal, and he doesn't speak Spanish well. The government says that the confession Jerónimo signed says he participated in at least 20 highway robberies.
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From Miracles of Life: J.G. Ballard's pre-posthumous memoir by Mark Dery :
Still, shrinks abound in Ballard's work, many of them poker-faced mouthpieces for the author's ironic polemics: Dr. Wilder Penrose in Super-Cannes (2001), arguing that “a perverse sexual act can liberate the visionary self in even the dullest soul”; Dr. David Markham in Millennium People (2003), coolly observing that in Blair's England “a vicious boredom ruled the world for the first time in human history, interrupted by meaningless acts of violence”; Dr. Tony Maxted in Kingdom Come (2006), opining that psychopathy is “the only guarantee of freedom from all the cant and bullshit and sales commercials fed to us by politicians, bishops and academics.”
Illustration by Kyle T. Webster
In a very real sense, Ballard did become a psychiatrist, albeit a dryly ironic one, at ease with his philosophical bipolar disorder — now profoundly moralistic, now exuberantly amoral, now both. All of his dystopias are in truth pathological utopias; Ballard rejoices in the breakdown of bourgeois morality and the Return of the Repressed. Like the Freud of Civilization and Its Discontents, he can always hear the scrabbling of our sublimated instinctual drives behind Western society's liberal-humanist facade. But unlike Freud, and like R.D. Laing, Norman O. Brown and other radical Freudians of the '60s, Ballard is equally wary of the soft fascism of our master-planned, socially engineered age, with its megamalls and Club Meds, its gated communities and New Urbanist retrovilles. “In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom” is a copyrighted Ballard quote.
Ballard's genius lies in his metaphoric use of scientific jargon and an antiseptic tone, somewhere between the dissecting table and the psychopathic ward, to psychoanalyze postmodernity. Long before deconstructionists like Jacques Derrida were slinging around references to the “decentered” self, Ballard is talking, in his trenchant introduction to Crash (1973), about “the most terrifying casualty of the century: the death of affect” and about “the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods.” Before postmodernists like Jean Baudrillard were announcing the Death of the Real and its unsettling replacement by uncannily convincing media simulations, Ballard is claiming that “we live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind” — advertising, “politics conducted as a branch of advertising,” P.R. “pseudo-events,” et al. — where “Freud's classic distinction between the latent and manifest content of a dream, between the apparent and the real, now needs to be applied to the external world of so-called reality.” And before neo-Marxists like Fredric Jameson and Mike Davis were pondering the deeper meanings of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Frank Gehry's Hollywood library, Ballard is pondering the psycho-spatial effects of the built environment: the experience of swooping around a freeway cloverleaf; of walking through a cavernous, empty multistory parking garage; of waiting, alone, in an airport departure lounge; of walking the privately policed streets of an obsessively manicured exurban community. How, Ballard wonders, is our sense of our selves as social beings and moral actors — our very understanding of what it means to be a self — being transformed (deformed?) by the whip-lashing hyperacceleration of technology and the media, the blurring of the distinction between real and fake? Ballard was the first to ask how we became posthuman.
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Wednesday, 29 April 2009, 2:11 pm
Press Release: Rajan Zed
Hindus Ask Australia To Urgently Develop A “Bill Of Rights”
Hindus have asked Australia to create a “bill of rights” as a high-priority.
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Australia was one of the few Western countries that did not have a charter of rights.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says that although Australia does have a National Action Plan for Human Rights, but according to a report of Australia Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a statutory organization that reports to the federal Parliament, this “plan however does not adequately identify positive, forward-looking measures to address the human rights issues…”
Rajan Zed argues that Australia human rights framework needs urgent reform. A recent report by AHRC highlights “a lack of constitutional protection against racial discrimination in Australia” and talks about “absence of any entrenched guarantee against racial discrimination that would override the law of the Commonwealth”.
AHRC report further says, “There is currently no requirement that the legislative, executive or judicial arms of the Australian state take human rights into consideration in the exercise of their respective powers… There is no Federal law to address religious discrimination or vilification… Serious acts of racial hatred or incitement to racial hatred are not criminal offences under federal law… Racial Discrimination Act 1975 does not contain a duty on government agencies to promote equality… Without effective control over proposed developments native title and land rights remain a sham… ethnic minority groups are targeted as an obstacle to social cohesion and stability…etc.”
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Bank of America reported its fiscal first quarter 2009 earnings today in a fraudulent sham and spectacle rigged to exaggerate profits while hiding losses. It was an old page torn from the remarkably thin play book called Masters Shaft the Universe. Once again, America's decrepit financial sector has proved that it's better to have weak competition than good business practices.
The bank reported that it earned $4.2 billion net income — or 44 cents per share after preferred dividends, including $402 million to the U.S. government — in Q1-2009. By earning more in the first quarter than in all of fiscal 2008, the bank sent the clear and false message that the worst of the credit crisis was past and it was safe to throw your money at Bank of America again. It was roughly the sort of thing that had always worked in days of credit bubbles past, but now a large public investor class shredded by the shock wave of the bubble burst would have none of it. They immediately seized upon the fact that the gains were nothing of substance or sustainability, and once it was laid bare, the balance sheet was simply bad.
BofA reported better than expected earnings today, but a quick glance at the income statement shows those profits aren't related to its core banking operations. Strip out trading and the company's pretax profit disappears
BofA reported profit of 44¢ per share. Analysts had been expecting 4¢. But if you back out trading profits, earnings were a paltry 2¢ per share.
…, keeping in mind that it may be impossible to trust the company's calculation of TCE, tangible leverage did improve slightly compared with last quarter, to 43x from 48x.*That's still remarkably high. It means BofA still has a tiny cushion to absorb losses from the asset side of the balance sheet. Assets need only decline 2.3% in order to wipe out what's left of tangible common equity…
What the profits are related to is one time trading gains, proceeds from costly and divisive acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial. The bank dumped $2 billion worth of its holding in China Construction Bank, Countrywide contributed mortgage refinancing volume and Merrill Lynch tacked on another $2 billion by seeing the value of it's structured notes take a beating.
But Bank of America's results were helped by some one-time items that analysts said pushed results into positive territory from break-even. Those included a $1.9 billion pretax gain on the sale of shares in China Construction Bank shares, in which the bank continues to hold about a 17 percent stake.
Bank of America also benefited from changed valuations of some investments. In particular, it gained $2.2 billion from an adjustment to the value of structured notes at Merrill, and a benefit of about $1.5 billion in its trading books.
And as those structured notes burn on the balance sheet, management hopes the stench will blow away when the smoke lifts from the accounting forgery, but don't count on it.
Accounting rules enable Bank of America to book the gain on the expectation that it will eventually repurchase the debt at a lower price.
The accounting rule that permits this kind of fraud is SFAS 157. It says the bank can't lose for losing, but even at the Bank of America they know better.
The provision for credit losses of $13.4 billion rose from $8.5 billion in the fourth quarter and included a $6.4 billion net addition to the allowance for loan and lease losses. Reserves were added across most consumer portfolios reflecting increasing economic stress on consumers. Reserves were also increased on commercial portfolios. Nonperforming assets were $25.7 billion compared with $18.2 billion at December 31, 2008 and $7.8 billion at March 31, 2008, reflecting the continued deterioration in portfolios tied to housing. The 2009 coverage ratios and amounts shown in the following table include Merrill Lynch.
The $6.4 billion build up in loan loss reserves speaks louder than any talk of recovery. The build up accompanied a $7 billion write-down on non-performing loans, up 20 percent from the fourth quarter.
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From Citizens for Legitimate Government :
KBR awarded Homeland Security contract worth up to $385M
By Katherine Hunt
Last update: 12:19 p.m. EST Jan. 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- KBR, the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton Co., said Tuesday it has been awarded a contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security to supports its Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in the event of an emergency. The maximum total value of the contract is $385 million and consists of a 1-year base period with four 1-year options. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005. The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs, KBR said. The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster, the company said.
Quarantine decision will be left to the locals
Involuntary isolation an option if swine flu explodes into major epidemic
By Linda Carroll
updated 5:33 p.m. ET April 28, 2009
Quarantine may seem the stuff of mediocre melodramas, but if the swine flu explodes into an epidemic, involuntary isolation could become a reality for more than a few unlucky Americans.
So far the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 68 documented cases of swine flu in the United States, with at least seven people hospitalized. And New York Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced that "many hundreds" of New York City schoolchildren are sick with suspected cases of swine flu. Across the country, in Los Angeles, the coroner's office is investigating two possible deaths.
But states say they are ready to protect the public if the infection intensifies.
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A very successful protest march in support of squats yesterday afternoon brought out many (estimated between 2,500-4,500) anarchists, leftists and other supporters. Ordinary passersby and shopkeepers along the way were very supportive, as was a trolley driver who refused to stop as commanded by the police when a young man threw a bottle at them from the public vehicle. Street and bank surveillance cameras were trashed.
The police were piqued and came out in force, gathering at various points armed to the teeth (witnessed fingers on machine guns in many cases).
Later in the night a squad protecting the old offices of the PASOK socialist party headquarters was attacked with firebombs so the cops put up a show of force along the perimeter of the anarchist quarter. The newly formed 'Delta Force' bike squad - best known for getting group illegal parking tickets while out on a quest for frappe lattes - gave a mass display of their riding skills.
It looks like this will be an interesting May Day celebration.
*** photo from Athens IMC
Great minds think alike, come up with same quote: "Wherever you go, there you are."
According to the Buckaro Banzai FAQ Home Page, it is also attributable to:
According to Karl Williamson, "I heard this in the '70s from the People's Guide to Mexico. I have a '76 edition, but the first edition is shown as 12/72. I've always thought that this quote came from Carl Franz, author of the book.
According to Chris Abalo, it is the title of a song by Luka Bloom
According to Joseph Savitski, The quote "Where ever you go, there you are" is used in the opening pages of P.J. O'Rourke's political commentary book "Give War a Chance", published in 1992.
According to Charlie English : My father, whom is now dead, used to use the subject phrase, "Just remember wherever you go, there you are". When I was an 11 year old boy, I told him the phrase when he was about to leave on a road trip. This would have been in 1959. My father really got a kick out of the comment (phrase) and started saying it. Dad was involved in early TV and created what became TV Guide, then known as TV Weekly. He loved Art Linkletter, Arthur Godfrey, and others and their crazy things kids say and would talk it up around channels 2-4-5 in Salt Lake in the late 50's. My dad added to the phrase and said: " And if you don't watch out...you'll get there." As an adult, I've said this expanded phrase to countless contacts in my sales work. I was telling someone in our office the phrase, and he remembered your version and your website. He wanted me to relay the story to you. Many people have the same thoughts I guess. At eleven, I didn't really know what I was saying but to tease my father who was leaving on another extended road trip. My father passed it on. He died when I was 19 and I've passed it on for 43 years since I uttered it. Anyway, I told my colleague I would write your site to tell my version of your famous phrase, "No matter where...". Enjoy.
According to Chuck Henderson aka Superchuck : On the B-52's 1986 album entitled Cosmic Thing there is a song called The Girl From Imponema goes to Greenland. Towards the end of the song they sing a line that goes: "Remember whereever you go, there you are." Great album, great song and when I first heard it I said, "Hey, those chicks just quoted Buckeroo!, pretty cool, I wonder if they are gonna open for the Cavilers on the next tour." It never happened to my knowledge but I bet it would still be a great show.
According to Crose61514: "I believe that the quote "wherever you go, there you are" is originally a Zen Buddhist ideal, whch seems natural, giving that Buckaroo's father was Japanese."
According to Brian Kelly : "In the beginning of the video for Vertical Horizon's "Everything You Want", the lead singer is in a taxi. There's a sticker on the divider that says "Wherever you go, there you are."
According to RT Gault : "I was reading your faq and came to the section about the line "No matter where you go, there you are" This is a variation of the final line from Lord Buckley's monologue known as "Jonah and the Whale" which dates from the 1050s. It goes:
"Which only goes to prove, as Confushi said, 'If you get to it, and you can't do it....? There you jolly well are, aren't you!'
Richard "Lord" Buckley (1906-1960) was a big cult fav among beatniks and hippies and the line has been borrowed, redressed, and recycled many times over the years. I believe than many of the examples sited on the faq page are really paraphrases of Buckley rather than paraphrases from the Buckeroo."
According to E : "I actually first saw the qoute in a book titled "Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball", by Paul Zindel. Imagine my surprise when I happened to pick up Buckaroo and he quoted my favorite line!"
According to Jeffrey S. Legg : "The saying "No matter where you go, there you are" was said by the character, PigKiller, in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome."
According to Sam Dingman : "It's right at the start when Arnold goes into Recall for a vacation and the salesman says something like (I was gonna check exactly, but I can't seem to find my copy of Total Recall) (to Arnold) "What's the same thing about every vacation you've ever been on?" Arnold looks confused, then the sales man says "You! ..... No matter where you go, there you are!" then procedes to give a little schpiel about how fun it would be to have a vacation as someone else."[ ... ]
According to Mike : "In Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me, Felicity and Austin say "No matter where we go, there we are."[ ... ]
According to the Buckaroo Banzai Trivia and References Page (http://kumo.swcp.com/synth/text/bb.references/) maintained by by Vince Mora : "(All info obtained from Denise Tathwell, director of the now-defunct Buckaroo Banzai Fan Club at 20th Century Fox.)
In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the starship Excelsior's bridge dedication plaque bore the motto "No matter where you go, there you are."
In Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, one of the characters uses the line "No matter where you go ... there you are ..."
According to Katie : "A Very Brady Sequel was on the same night that I saw BB for the first time. I flipped channels right after Pa Brady said, "and remember kids, a very wise man once said, 'wherever you go, there you are.'"
Scott Tate had the following correction to the above information : "In regards to your newly-added question about references to the oft-quoted "No matter where you go" line, I have a correction.
Katie cites an occurance in A Very Brady Sequel. I suspect this was a slip of the tongue and she meant to cite 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie, not 1996's A Very Brady Sequel. The always-useful Internet Movie Database corroborates this and, additionally, that particular clip of dialogue is available on the Brady Bunch Movie soundtrack."
According to Aaron Zimlich : "No matter where you go, there we are." That is the new slogan for Nations Bank. Coincidence?? Nahhh!
24 Apr, 2009
More and more countries invest in foreign agriculture to build 'food security' at home. Feeding the rich might end up starving the poor as foreign-owned farms threaten the livelihood of native farmers, says Patrick Seale.
Over one billion people go hungry every day -- that is to say, one sixth of the world's population of 6.5 billion. They are not just hungry from time to time. They are chronicallyhungry. They can never find enough food to feed their children or meet their own needs. Their number is growing.
What is the world doing about it? The answer is: very little.
The problem is too big, too widespread and -- and also, in a sense, too slow moving -- for rich countries to give it the priority it deserves. World hunger did not feature among the top concerns of the G-20 at their recent summit meeting in London.
Yet, it is beginning to be realised that food insecurity poses a threat to global stability. Meeting in Italy last weekend, agriculture ministers of the G8 industrialised countries recognised the extent of the problem. They pledged to continue fighting hunger. But beyond calling for increased public and private investment in agriculture, the final communiqué was short on fresh proposals. The only good news was the announcement by the Obama Administration that it would double US aid to agriculture in poor countries to $1bn next year.
The ministers were given a report by the Italian presidency which warned that, if widespread starvation was to be avoided, global agricultural output had to double by 2050 -- when the world's population would reach a staggering 9 billion. The report called for “immediate interventions.” But nothing immediate was suggested.
When prices of agricultural commodities surged in 2007-2008, some thirty countries -- from Haiti to Egypt to Bangladesh -- were shaken by food riots. Illegal migration to Europe increased from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Piracy off the Somali coast captured the world's attention, but few were prepared to recognise that its roots lay in poverty.
Many diverse factors lie behind the world-wide increase in hunger. They include a soaring world population, which is said to be increasing by 80 million a year; a shortage of water and arable land, notably in the dry Middle East; highly volatile food prices; financial constraints which prevent some governments from continuing to subsidise food prices at former levels; a flight of young people from the land; and -- that new and terrifying imponderable -- climate change.
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that an injection of 30 billion Euros a year into family farming across the world could hold hunger in check, and even reverse it. But the FAO appeal has largely fallen on deaf ears.
As collective action by world powers is unlikely, countries with the means to do so are outsourcing the problem of food security by buying or leasing vast tracts of arable land outside their borders.
Saudi Arabia, for example, has already secured 1.6 million hectares of agricultural land in Indonesia. As it is phasing out its own wheat production to conserve finite water resources, it is planning to invest heavily in agricultural projects abroad. A state-owned organisation -- the Saudi Company for Agricultural Investment and Animal Production, with an initial capital of $800m – is trying to interest private Saudi investors in foreign farm projects by providing credit and by negotiating deals with Australia and Argentina, as well as with countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Many such contracts have been concluded or are in prospect. Something like a world-wide scramble for land is taking place. The United Arab Emirates has secured 1.3 million hectares overseas, mainly in Sudan and Pakistan. Indeed Pakistan, according to a Reuters report this week, has offered to sell or lease large tracts of farmland to countries anxious to secure their food supplies. Qatar has land holdings in Indonesia; Kuwait has similar holdings in Burma; while Libya is about to sign a large contract for farmland in Ukraine. Jordan has set its sights on Sudan.
South Korea -- a resource-poor but heavily populated country -- has acquired over one million hectares in Sudan, Mongolia, Indonesia and Argentina. Just last week, the Financial Times reported that a South Korean company, Hyundai Heavy Industries, planned to lease 50,000 hectares of farmland in Russia's far-east.
China, too, has long been interested in the undeveloped lands of Russia's far-east. According to the French daily Le Monde, between 400,000 and 700,000 Chinese peasants have already settled permanently in that Russian region, which is geographically closer to Beijing than to Moscow. It is also estimated that a million Chinese peasants might find their way to Africa over the next year or two.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, China feeds 20 per cent of the world's population with just 10 per cent of the world's agricultural land and about six per cent of the world's water resources.
One of the problems of these new semi-colonial plantations is that much of the food produced there will not be consumed on the spot but will be exported to the countries that put up the money -- to China, South Korea and the Arab world. This might actually increase food scarcity in the host countries. Foreign-owned farms could also threaten the lives of native farmers. Often without title to ownership, they face the threat of expulsion by the newcomers.
Feeding the rich might end up starving the poor.
Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.
~ Middle East Online ~
Why are people still dying of starvation in this world when there are mountains of food rotting in warehouses?
Unfortunately, the Food Mountains of which I speak are in one place, and the starving people are in another. Perishable food is just that, so it cannot be transported anywhere. Some of it can be dehydrated and sent to areas where it is needed but this costs money for the processing, packages, transport and distribution. Although some companies may give away their extra food, others may not have the funds available to do all this.
It is not only third world countries that have this problem. Even in a country with as much abundant resources as the United States, people of all ages go days without eating. In this country especially, one would think that there is enough food to go around for everyone. I guess it does not matter that the food is out there if the poor cannot afford to buy it, and there is no money to be made in giving food away, right?
[ ... ]
Globally, between 13 and 18 million people die each year from malnourishment or starvation-related causes. This means that there are nearly as many people dying each day as Americans who died in the entire Vietnam War. In today's world, starvation should no longer be an issue.
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A footnote that was included as part of the Bush torture memos uses this justification for starvation techniques employed for the purpose of information gathering: “. . . we note that widely available commercial weight-loss programs in the United States employ diets of 1,000 kcal/day for sustained periods of weeks or longer without requiring medical supervision. While we do not equate commercial weight loss programs and this interrogation technique, the fact that these calorie levels are used in the weight-loss programs, in our view, is instructive in evaluating the medical safety of the interrogation technique.”
This quote is a flawless example of two things: One, the way the Bush Administration viewed torture, and two, the way our society has been conditioned to think about dieting.
First – and this seems strikingly obvious – people do a lot of things voluntarily that could hurt their bodies, and do it without medical supervision. They shoot heroin, they inflict self-harm in the form of cutting, they have unprotected sex, they go to tanning beds and fry their skin. Does this mean raping prisoners, injecting them with drugs, forcing them into casket-like devices and blasting them with UV rays is an ethical way to torture, too? Voluntary self-harm is problematic in its own way in terms of one's mental health and well-being, but when detainees are forced into it, another dimension is added that cannot be overlooked.
The Bush Administration hoped to trivialize their torture techniques by looking to commercial diet plans, but such a comparison also leads one to consider that, because 1,000 calories a day was employed as a means of torture, the human body will suffer if it is subjected to such methods, even if voluntarily. Mentally, it's not the same as being forced to starve. But physically, the effects are likely quite similar. And yet we do it all the time. In fact, fat people are told that if they don't do it, then they are killing themselves, or at least “letting themselves go.”
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UJALA is starving to death. She is four months old but weighs only 1.5 kilograms, about a third of what the World Health Organisation says is normal for her age.
The sagging skin on her tiny limbs and her grossly distended stomach are signs of acute malnutrition. Her hip bones protrude like gross deformities and her face winces with a hacking cough.
It is an image often associated with famine in Africa. But Ujala is not from Africa but India, a nation destined to be an economic and political super power. For some years India has been one of the fastest growing economies and average incomes have risen steadily.
Economic reforms initiated in the early 1990s have been good to the rich. The 2009 Forbes Rich List, released this month, named two Indians among the world's 10 wealthiest individuals. India also has a rapidly expanding middle class. According to some estimates more than 200 million Indians now have spending power to rival that of consumers in developed countries such as Australia and the US.
But India is also home to a quarter of the world's hungry - about 230 million people - according to a World Food Program report released last month. More than 455 million Indians survive on $US1.25 a day or less, compared with 420 million in 1981.
A towering symbol of these two Indias is adjacent to Ujala's village in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India - a telecommunications antenna. So while Ujala wastes away, her family's mud hut has perfect mobile reception and wireless internet access.
Despite the economic boom, progress in reducing child malnutrition has been slow. About 42 per cent of children under five are underweight compared with 7 per cent in China, India's neighbour.
The Washington thinktank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, says almost a fifth of India's population is "food insecure".
In Ujala's state about 60 per cent of children under five are malnourished and almost one in 10 infants die before they reach the age of five. That ranks Madhya Pradesh alongside Chad and Ethiopia for child malnutrition, the institute says.
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New Delhi : A recent article in the New York Times by Somini Sengupta points out that despite galloping economic growth in India, we have one of the worst malnutrition rates in the world. Sub-Saharan Africa, which conjures up images of famines and emaciated babies, has almost half our percentage of underweight children.
So why is there little discussion in the Indian media on the whole issue of malnutrition? When you speak of malnutrition, the response is often glazed eyes and a bored look. In journalism slang, subjects which excite a reader's attention instantly are termed "sexy", those which do not evoke immediate interest are termed "turnoffs". For instance, people respond immediately when they read about starvation deaths during famines and disasters. But it is less easy to evoke sympathy and support when the plight of the victims does not hit you squarely in the face. Ninety per cent of malnutrition cases in India are of the chronically undernourished, where there are not necessarily obvious outward symptoms. Nevertheless this malnutrition doubles our infant mortality rate, making the child twice as susceptible to disease because of lowered immunity.
In India, we suffer largely from "hidden hunger" which does not always manifest itself in an emaciated appearance. It is a hunger caused by the constant or recurrent lack of food of sufficient quality and quantity. It is the deprivation of vitamins and minerals, essential micronutrients which are necessary for proper growth, physical fitness and mental development. Seventy per cent of Indian children suffer from anaemia (iron deficiency) and over 50 per cent suffer from serious vitamin A deficiency.
If hidden hunger is a not a sexy subject, debates on how to fight this malady are even more of a turnoff. This perhaps explains why articles on nutrition programmes in India focus generally on the only sexy solution, the need for hot cooked meals. There is a tendency to look with suspicion on other nutrition initiatives, acceptable worldwide, to combat malnutrition. Sometimes writers even hint darkly that other initiatives promoted by reputed international bodies are simply conspiracies to favour corrupt contractors or business interests.
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...Levac (L–Brant), Klees (PC–Newmarket-Aurora) and DiNovo (NDP–Parkdale-High Park) come from three different parties, so their collaboration was as novel as it was uplifting. Together, they had drafted the province's first-ever tri-sponsored private members' bill. And it had just passed third reading to establish the fourth Saturday in November each year as Holodomor Memorial Day.
The memorial day, Levac said, will provide an opportunity to reflect on and to educate the public about crimes against humanity that occurred in Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 under the Stalin regime, when as many as 10 million people perished in a man-made famine and genocide.
In winning passage of the bill, there was, Levac said, a compelling human imperative at play – an obligation to "speak of the unspeakable."
There was no better bill than this to have produced such historic collaboration, DiNovo has said.
"A very ugly silence has been broken," she said. Voices have been raised around the world now in Ontario to say "This happened."
During debate on the bill, DiNovo told of how a member of the Toronto congregation at which she was pastor once came to her and asked: "Do you think God will forgive me?
"I couldn't imagine what this sweet little old lady had ever done," DiNovo said. "And she said, `I would ask forgiveness for having tasted, having eaten, human flesh.'
"Because it was during the Holodomor that families who were trying to keep their children alive had to," DiNovo told the House. "They were driven to engage in cannibalism of those who had dropped by the wayside.
"Imagine being confronted by that," she said. "What I don't think God would understand is if we keep silent about it, if we do nothing about it.
"The very bones of the victims cry out for this day to be acknowledged, for this genocide to be named."
The name speaks for itself, based on two Ukrainian words — "holod," meaning hunger, starvation, famine; and "moryty," to induce suffering, to kill.
Klees said a tragedy in which, at its worst, 25,000 people died every single day in a region considered the Soviet Union's breadbasket, traumatized a nation, leaving its people "with deep social, psychological, political" scars.
To be sure, famine wounds a people's soul forever. Nothing, not even massacre, says the writer Thomas Keneally, has the effect on the folk memory that famine does.
The memory of hunger, he said, might be worse than the memory of terror. Generations on, the fear of it echoes down ancestral lines, those who've heard the stories never confident the worst of losses won't recur. Memories of African famines of contemporary times will last, Keneally predicted, "into the 22nd century."...
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Rolls-Royce is consulting its lawyers after Chinese carmaker Geely unveiled a copycat version of the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
With its monumental proportions, vast classical radiator and with a Flying Lady figure on top, the Chinese version looks exactly like the luxurious British car. But its price of just £30,000 is a fraction of the £250,000 of the original.
~ Independent.ie ~
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