Tag Archives: US

Arundhati Roy on NGOs

Arundhati Roy’s position on NGOs from here:

A SECOND hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context. In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. Continue reading

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US congressman: “If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States”

By Tom Eley writing at WSS

(3 October 2008)

In the wake of Monday’s vote in the US House of Representatives rejecting the $700 billion bailout package for the American financial industry, prominent voices in the US and international media have responded by denouncing the lower house of Congress and complaining that the American political system is too susceptible to popular opinion and insufficiently obedient to the will of the corporate and political elite.

The yearning for more authoritarian forms of rule was expressed by, among others, Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush. In a column in the Washington Post, he complained, “[I]t is now clear that American political elites have lost the ability to quickly respond to a national challenge by imposing their collective will.” The Times of London, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, was even more blunt, headlining a column, “Congress is the Best Advert for Dictatorship.” Continue reading

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Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides…

Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and More

We speak with world-renowned environmental leader and thinker, Vandana Shiva. A physicist and ecologist, Shiva is author of many books, her latest is “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.” [includes rush transcript]

In India, more than three hundred farmers climbed water tanks in the country’s central Vidarbha region, many of them threatening to commit suicide unless the government fulfilled their demands to lift them out of poverty. Throughout India, more and more troubled farmers are killing themselves. Up to three farmers a day swallow pesticides, hang themselves from trees, drown themselves in rivers, set themselves on fire or jump down wells. Many of them are plagued by debt, poor crops and hopelessness.
  • Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental leader and thinker. She is also a physicist and ecologist and the Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is the founder of Navdanya–“nine seeds”, a movement promoting diversity and use of native seeds. Dr. Shiva was the 1993 recipient of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize–the Right Livelihood Award. And she is the author of many books, her latest is “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.”
AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva remains with us, physicist; ecologist; director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology; in ‘93, awarded the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, the Right Livelihood Award; her latest book, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. There is an epidemic you write about in India of farmer suicides. Can you explain what’s happening and where this is happening?

VANDANA SHIVA: Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a large scale. It’s something totally new. It’s linked to the last decade of globalization, trade liberalization under a corporate-driven economy. The seed sector was liberalized to allow corporations like Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated, untested seed. They began with hybrids, which can’t be saved, and moved on to genetically engineered Bt cotton. The cotton belt is where the suicides are taking place on a very, very large scale. It is the suicide belt of India.

And the high cost of seed is linked to high cost of chemicals, because these seeds need chemicals. In addition, these costly seeds need to be bought every year, because their very design is to make seeds nonrenewable, seed that isn’t renewable by its very nature, but whether it’s through patenting systems, intellectual property rights or technologically through hybridization, nonrenewable seed is being sold to farmers so they must buy every year. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Food Security, Globalization, India, Inequality, Poverty, Social Protection, Uncategorized, World

World Bank and procurement: Development tool or TNC sop?

Source 

A new study on procurement reform suggests that the World Bank’s narrow focus on value for money may undermine the ability of governments to use procurement as a tool for development; meanwhile US and European corporate lobbyists continue to pressure the Bank to go slow on the use of country procurement systems.

Procurement refers to the purchasing, leasing or renting of materials, services or equipment by government agencies. The Bank plays a lead role in procurement reform, arguably the most controversial of so-called ‘good governance’ reforms. Countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda have all introduced new procurement legislation since 2001 in response to World Bank conditions.

Government procurement accounts for approximately 4.5 per cent of developing countries’ gross domestic product and governments tend to be the largest single consumers of goods and services in most countries. Globally, government procurement is big business, with annual spending estimated at more than $2 trillion. This, along with the fact that government procurement is the most significant sector excluded from multilateral processes, explains why procurement is increasingly on the agenda of trade negotiations. Continue reading

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Legal-aid firm swindled poor, suit alleges

LA Times reporting

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week alleges that a company that purports to offer legal services to low-income people nationwide instead preys on them.

According to the suit filed in Denver, the victims had asked for assistance from Legal Aid National Services of Aurora, Colo. — or one of a dozen related entities — thinking that they were dealing with a legitimate provider of services for low-income persons.

Those companies and 15 individuals affiliated with them have been operating fake legal-aid operations in 27 states, from California to New Hampshire, the suit alleges. In addition, the defendants also operate paralegal services in every state except Alaska, according to the complaint.

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Chomsky: Poorer Countries Find a Way to Escape U.S. Dominance

The World Bank is not the same institution, but there’s the same kind of conflicts and confrontations going on. In Bolivia, one of the major background events that led to the uprising of the majority indigenous population to finally take political power was an effort by the World Bank to privatize water. Take an economics course, they’ll tell you that you ought to pay the market price and so on. True value, yes, very nice, except that means poor people, which is most of the population, can’t drink. Well that’s called an externality; don’t worry about things like that.

Chomsky: Poorer Countries Find a Way to Escape U.S. Dominance
By Michael Shank, Foreign Policy in Focus
Posted on February 12, 2008, Printed on February 12, 2008

Noam Chomsky is a noted linguist, author, and foreign policy expert. On January 15, Michael Shank interviewed him on the latest developments in U.S. policy toward regional challenges to U.S. power.

Michael Shank: In December 2007, seven South American countries officially launched the Bank of the South in response to growing opposition to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other International Financial Institutions. How important is this shift and will it spur other responses in the developing world? Will it at some point completely undermine the reach of the World Bank and the IMF?

Noam Chomsky : I think it’s very important, especially because, contrary to the impression often held here, the biggest country Brazil is supporting it. The U.S. propaganda, western propaganda, is trying to establish a divide between the good left and the bad left. The good left, like Lula in Brazil, are governments they would’ve overthrown by force 40 years ago. But now that’s their hope, one of their saviors. But the divide is pretty artificial. Sure, they’re different. Lula isn’t Chavez. But they get along very well, they cooperate. And they are cooperating on the Bank of the South. Continue reading

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