India Land Grab: Forced Evictions in Orissa

on Jan 27, 2012

Police and security guards forcibly removed people from land earmarked for a Vedanta toxic waste dump.

Research by Amnesty International and other local and international groups documents the serious and continuing pollution caused by the refinery’s operations. Despite the string of decisions against Vedanta, the company has failed to remedy the pollution.

“This decision vindicates the ongoing peaceful protests by the local communities near Lanjigarh to prevent this expansion from going ahead as it would further pollute their lands and water sources,” said Amnesty International’s India researcher Ramesh Gopalakrishnan.

“The Indian authorities have remained silent on the issues of cleaning up the refinery and monitoring the health of local communities. They must act on this now,” he added.

by, January 31, 2012

India’s great land grab continues, with police forcibly evicting tribal villagers in Orissa from land sold to UK-based Vedanta Resources to use as a toxic waste dump, Amnesty International reports.

The evictions come amid a fraught battle between the mining industry and India’s tribal peoples, as well as environmental activists.  Orissa is among India’s poorest and least developed states, but its mineral riches have led to a breakneck race to strip the land of iron, bauxite and other metals needed to fuel the country’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.

To gain access to these riches, however, the state government has conspired with industry to run roughshod over the rights of its indigenous peoples, according to their advocates.  Local resentment has also helped to make Orissa one of the flashpoints in India’s simmering Maoist insurgency — a crisis that recently resulted in the deployment of some 50,000 police and paramilitary personnel. Continue reading

Afghanistan: The path from home

Out of Afghanistan: incredible stories of the boys who walked to Europe

The country is so dangerous it’s no wonder so many leave, travelling alone across the Middle East in search of a new life
by Caroline Brothers, The Observer, Sunday 29 January 2012
Behind the security bars of a spartan, white-tiled room, 25 youths are arranging bedrolls on the floor. The workers on the Salvation Army nightshift, who watch over these lone foreign teenagers in a shelter in a gritty corner of Paris, are distributing sheets and sleeping bags; there are a couple of boys from Mali and a contingent of Bangladeshis; the rest have travelled overland, by every conceivable method, from Afghanistan.

The road to peace: 13-year-old Morteza spent five months travelling from Kabul to Paris. His journey took him through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy Photograph: Ed Alcock/MYOP

The youngest are 13 years old, pint-sized cousins from Kabul who arrived that morning after a journey of five months. They take off their trainers and place them at the end of their bedrolls. One of them, Morteza, gingerly peels off his socks. The undersides of his toes are completely white.

I ask what happened to his feet. “Water,” he says. Where was he walking in water? Mohammed, the boy on the next bedroll who knows more English, translates. “In the mountains,” he says. Which mountains, I ask, thinking about the range that forms the border between Turkey and Iran. “Croatia, Slovenia, Italy,” Morteza says. Mohammed intervenes. “Not water,” he clarifies. “Snow.”
Suddenly I understand. Morteza’s feet are not waterlogged or blistered. He has limped across Europe with frostbite.
The next day I run into them watching the older Afghans play football in a park. Morteza’s 13-year-old cousin Sohrab, pale and serious beyond his years, recounts, in English learned during two years of school in Afghanistan, what happened. “Slovenia big problem,” he says, explaining how he and Morteza, “my uncle’s boy”, were travelling with eight adults when they were intercepted by the Slovenian police. Two members of their group were caught and the rest made a detour into the mountains. They spent five days in the snow, navigating by handheld GPS, emerging from the Alps in Trento, in the Italian north.
Morteza acquired frostbite on the penultimate part of a 6,000km journey that detoured through the Balkans: through Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. Their aim is to join their uncle who lives in Europe, the solution their relatives found after Morteza’s father was killed in an explosion. His mother died earlier “in the war”; Sohrab lost his own father when he was 11.

Waiting in hope: boys from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa line up in the hope of being offered a bed for the night Photograph: Ed Alcock/MYOP

Morteza and Sohrab are among the world’s most vulnerable migrants. Like scores of Afghan teenagers in transit across Europe, they are in flight from violence or the aftershocks of violence that affect children in particularly harsh ways. Those who turn up in Paris have spent up to a year on the road, on the same clandestine routes as adults, but at far greater risk.

No one knows how many unaccompanied Afghan children have made it to Europe. Paris took in just over 300 in 2011 – the biggest nationality among the 1,700 lone foreign minors in its care. Sarah Di Giglio, a child-protection expert with Save the Children in Italy, says that last year the number of Afghan boys – there are almost never girls – passing through a day centre in Rome had doubled from the year before, to 635.
Asylum statistics are another measure, though they give only a rough indication since many children never make a claim. Still, at 4,883, Afghans were the biggest group of separated foreign children requesting asylum in 2010, the majority in Europe.
While some are sent out of Afghanistan for their own safety, others make their own decision to leave. Some are running from brutality, or the politics of their fathers, or recruitment by the Taliban. Others have been pushed onwards by the increasing precariousness of life in Pakistan and Iran, countries that host three million Afghan refugees. Continue reading

Emirates ‘has security links with Israel’

[This is an interesting story from UPI about the economic and military ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates–a rare subject for news reports in the US press.  But don’t congratulate UPI for their investigative prowess–a critical read of the article will also find this disingenuous statement, offered by UPI as a reason for these Israeli-Arab Sheik relations:  “They have also found a common adversary in Iran, whose expansionist policies and contentious nuclear program are viewed as a major threat by the Arab states in the gulf and by Israel.”  UPI thereby states, without supporting data, that Iran has expansionist policies (and does not mention the truly expansionist Israeli appropriation of Palestinian lands, and the growing Israeli “settlements”).  UPI does not report that the Emirates have turned a blind eye to Israeli expansionism.  And that is not all.  The UPI writer cites the “contentious nuclear program” of Iran (focused on nuclear power as energy, not weaponry) as a mutual concern of the Jewish state and the Sheiks, but, once again, they do not mention the hundreds of “secret” Israeli nuclear weapons already in existence, which is apparently not a subject of concern to the Sheiks–nor to UPI. — Frontlines ed.]

United Press International, Jan. 27, 2012
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 27 (UPI) — The United Arab Emirates, an economic giant and rising military power in the Persian Gulf, is reported to have discreet ties with private security companies in Israel to protect its oil fields and borders.
The Intelligence Online Web site reports that the country’s Critical National Infrastructure Authority has had business dealings with several Israeli firms since it was established in 2007, even though the emirates has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
“Trade between the two countries, principally in the area of security, amounted to nearly $300 million last year,” Intelligence Online reported Jan. 12.
CNIA is based in Abu Dhabi, the main oil-rich emirate in the federation. It’s the capital of the United Arab Emirates and handles the federation’s military and security affairs. Continue reading

Rich Greeks balk at financial aid for homeland

[“National unity” and “patriotic sacrifice” are urged upon the masses everywhere, as the crisis continues to deepen.  But these words are rejected by the rich, as they and their bank deposits are taken to Swiss banks and other shelters.  Here, that attitude of the Greek bourgeois toward “saving Greece” is described:  “Why should I give my money to people I consider useless?” — Frontlines ed.]
————————————————————————
Jan 30, 2012

by Gabriele Ochsenbein, swissinfo.ch


Wealthy Greeks living abroad, including in Switzerland, are extremely wary about investing in their cash-strapped homeland to help create jobs and boost the economy.

Switzerland is home to several ultra-rich Greeks, like the granddaughter of the legendary shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, billionaire Spiros Latsis, who made his money through oil, housing and banking, and the heirs to shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation funds a number of social programmes in Greece, including food aid schemes, to help people hit by the financial crisis. But few rich Greeks living abroad are rushing to invest in their homeland.

George Koukis, a successful software entrepreneur who lives on the shores of Lake Geneva, told German television he was proud to be Greek but he was not considering investing in his country.

“Why should I give my money to people I consider useless? Others here think like me, although they might not say so,” he said. Continue reading

Going Underground in Hard Times

[As countries across the world sink deeper into capitalist crisis, and relief, though promised, only leads to more "austerity" measures--cuts in basic services, growing unemployment, higher taxes--growing numbers have moved to the "informal", "underground", "grey market" economy, outside of official and governmental review, regulation, and control.  In many countries this amounts to one-third to one-half of the economy.  This article about the underground economy in Portugal traces such growth in response to official crisis and bankruptcy. -- Frontlines ed.]

—————————————————–

By Mario Queiroz

LISBON, Jan 28, 2012 (IPS) – The underground economy in Portugal is booming thanks to the steep increases in taxation and prices demanded by a “troika” of international creditors to address the country’s economic crisis.

In May 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB) loaned Portugal the equivalent of 103 billion dollars as a financial rescue package.

In return, the troika imposed draconian conditions on middle- and lower-income sectors of the population, and headed by the IMF took on a supervisory role over this southern European country’s economy.

Sheer survival instinct among those most affected by the austerity measures is driving them further into the parallel economy, which according to recent official figures amounted to 24.8 percent of GDP in 2010.

And it is continuing to grow, owing to the severe economic crisis from which there seems to be no way out, a study from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto concludes. Continue reading

Ice News–News from the Nordics: “Class safari shocks Stockholm snobs”

30 January 2012

Residents of a wealthy Stockholm suburb have complained to the police about a tour agency’s plan to run ‘high-society safaris’ in their neighbourhood.

The bus trip, organised by Allt åt Alla (Everything for Everyone), aims to debunk the myth that Sweden is a classless nation by driving through the capital’s most densely populated area, Fisksätra, before taking their passengers to Saltsjöbaden to see how the other half live.

Not all of Saltsjöbaden’s well-to-do residents are happy about being a tourist attraction, however, and one has apparently filed an official complaint with the local police.

Not feeling much sympathy for the well-to-do, Ulla Krogh of Nacka Police told the local newspaper, Näcka-Värmdö Posten, that “Anyone is free to organise something like this”.

Highlights of the tour include a visit to the Grand Hotel, an ogle at the sea views from “Oscar’s” house, which featured in the comedy series Solsidan, and an audience with Rolf, the owner of Sweden’s most expensive home.

On its website, Allt åt Alla describes itself as a “revolutionary organisation” with an aim of developing a hate of the class system in sightseers. The Saltsjöbaden tours are proving popular and selling out quickly, according to the group.

Indian State’s war on the people, Stage Two: Army deployed for combat against Indian People

Announcement of Public Meeting in Delhi by Forum Against War on People

“Let’s Intensify our Opposition to the Indian State’s War on the People”

Speakers:

JAN MYRDAL the internationally acclaimed author will talk on the War on People in India

SUJATO BHADRA will speak on atrocities by Joint Forces in Jangalmahal in West Bengal

The Indian government’s war on people in central and eastern regions has entered its second phase with the deployment of the Indian army. The surreptitiously declared war on the people of this country codenamed Operation Green Hunt (OGH) which was launched in September 2009 by the Indian government is continuing unabated till today. In fact in the recent months, the ruling coalition at the Centre in connivance with political parties of all hues in power in the Central and Eastern states have intensified their brutal war on the poorest, most maginalized and oppressed people of the subcontinent. Contrary to the rhetoric of not deploying the Indian Army in direct combat, the Government of India has increased the number of troops in the region with the intent of crushing the growing people’s resistance against its policies. It is well known that the first batch of 2000 Army personnel were sent by the government to the forests of Narayanpur District in the Bastar on 3 June 2011 with a plan to occupy an area of 600 square kilometres, albeit in the name of Jungle Warfare Training. Just six months later, another 2500 personnel descended on the forests of Bastar on 4 November 2011. Though the Central and Chhattisgarh governments maintain that they have set up this so-called Jungle Warfare Training Centre in Bastar merely to put pressure on the Maoists and to dominate the region militarily, the real purpose is to hand over the vast swathes of mineral-rich forested lands to the Multinational Companies and to evict the people who have stood up to defend their jal-jangal-zameen, their very existence. Continue reading