Who do Bono and the ONE campaign really represent: the very poor or the very rich?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian | 18th June 2013

Bono and Tony Blair

Bono and Tony Blair

It was bad enough in 2005. Then, at the G8 summit in Scotland, Bono and Bob Geldof heaped praise on Tony Blair and George Bush, who were still mired in the butchery they had initiated in Iraq(1,2,3). At one point Geldof appeared, literally and figuratively, to be sitting in Tony Blair’s lap. African activists accused them of drowning out a campaign for global justice with a campaign for charity.

But this is worse. As the UK chairs the G8 summit again, a campaign that Bono founded, with which Geldof works closely(4), appears to be whitewashing the G8’s policies in Africa.

bono and George W. Bush

Bono and George W. Bush

Last week I drew attention to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in the US when it chaired the G8 meeting last year(5). The alliance is pushing African countries into agreements which allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolise their food markets. Ignoring the voices of their own people, six African governments have struck deals with companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta, Nestlé and Unilever, in return for promises of aid by the UK and other G8 nations.

A wide range of activists, both African and European, is furious about the New Alliance(6). But the ONE campaign, co-founded by Bono, stepped up to defend it(7). The article it wrote last week was remarkable in several respects: in its elision of the interests of African leaders and those of their people, in its exaggeration of the role of small African companies, but above all in failing even to mention the injustice at the heart of the New Alliance – its promotion of a new wave of land grabbing. My curiosity was piqued. Continue reading

Bangladesh: Neo-Colonial/Corporate-Terrorist Criminals on Damage Control, restoring Business as Usual

Bangladesh bosses plead to Western firms after tragedy

The heads of Bangladesh’s textile companies pleaded with foreign retail giants to keep doing business with them after a recent factory collapse that killed nearly 400 people. Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry is the second largest in the world behind China.

Bangladesh building collapse

[Bangladesh building collapse]

Bangladeshi textile bosses pleaded Monday with Western clothing giants to keep doing business with them after nearly 400 people died in a factory collapse as hopes of finding more survivors faded.

Organizers of the mammoth rescue effort ordered in cranes on Monday to clear the ruins of what was once an eight-story factory compound before it caved in five days ago while some 3,000 textile workers were on shift.

As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid her first visit to the tangle of concrete, the confirmed number of dead stood at 382.

But the toll is expected to shoot up now heavy lifting equipment is being used. Rescuers had earlier been wary of using anything but hand-held drills, over fears that machinery could force more masonry to collapse onto survivors.

Emergency workers, who have been battling the stench of rotting corpses, were shattered by the death late Sunday of a female garment worker who had clung to life against the odds before being overwhelmed by a fire at the scene.

The tragedy has once again focused attention on the poor safety conditions in the $20 billion Bangladeshi garment industry, which is the world’s second biggest after China.

Britain’s Primark and Spain’s Mango have acknowledged their products were made in the block. Italy’s Benetton acknowledged having its clothes made in Rana Plaza recently, but claimed it was a “one-time order”.

Worried that Western firms could look elsewhere, manufacturers met with representatives of leading brand names on Monday in a bid to assure them about safety standards.

Shahidullah Azim, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association which represents more than 4,500 factories, said firms such as H&M, Gap, C&A and Li and Fung would be present at the meeting in Dhaka. Continue reading

Africa: Rio+20 Summit Under Corporations’ Undue Influence

18 June 2012, Friends of the Earth (London) –press release

Rio De Janeiro — On the eve of the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit [1] on June 20-22, Friends of the Earth International warns world leaders that multinational corporations such as oil giant Shell have an undue influence over the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

According to a briefing released today by Friends of the Earth Netherlands [2], the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell is influencing the Rio+20 Summit thanks to senior company representatives in several corporate lobbying groups active in the Rio+20 negotiations, including: the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the International Emissions Trading Association

“It is not acceptable that companies like Shell who cause massive pollution and human rights abuses should be in the driving seat of processes for sustainable development. That is a recipe for disaster for our planet and peoples. Corporate polluters should not help making laws, they should face the law,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. Continue reading

3 Songs for an Un-Thanksgiving Weekend — from one season of struggle to another

Buffy Sainte-Marie: No No Keshagesh

from the album “Running For The Drum” on Cooking Vinyl Records, http://cookingvinyl.com/

(Keshagesh means Greedy Guts. It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own and then wants everybody else’s.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “No No Keshagesh” Lyrics:

I never saw so many business suits.
Never knew a dollar sign that looked so cute.
Never knew a junkie with a money Jones:
He’s singing, “Who’s selling Park Place. Who’s buying Boardwalk”?
These old men they make their dirty deals.
Go in the back room and see what they can steal.
Talk about your beautiful and spacious skies.
It’s about uranium; it’s about the water rights.
Put Mother Nature on a luncheon plate.
They cut her up and call it real estate.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They make a war over it: Blow things up for it.
The reservation now is poverty row.
There’s something cooking and the lights are low.
Somebody’s trying to save our mother earth.
I’m gonna help them to save it,
To sing it and bring it

Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)

Ole Columbus he was looking good,
When he got lost in our neighborhood.
Garden of Eden right before his eyes.
Now it’s all spy ware: now it’s all income tax.
Ole’ brother Midas looking hungry today.
What he can’t buy he’ll get some other way.
Send in the troopers if the natives resist.
Old, old story boys, that’s how you do it boys.
Look at these people; ah they’re on a roll.
Gonna have it all, gonna have complete control.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They’ll break the law for it: Blow things up for it.
When all our champions are off in the war,
Their final rip off here and is always on.
Mr. greed I think your time has come.
We’re gonna sing it and pray it and live it then say it.

Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more) Continue reading

Global Report: Unsafe Abortions Kill 70,000 Women a Year

[We are reposting this article to go along with yesterday’s article about the prosecution of women in Mexico whose abortions are charged as “homicides.”–ed.]


Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 a year, harm millions

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Increased use of contraceptives has pushed global abortion rates down, but unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women each year and seriously harm or maim millions more, a global report said on Tuesday.

Despite easier access to abortion with restrictions being relaxed in many countries, the number of abortions fell from an estimated 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, the report by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute said.

But the study found a stubbornly high number — almost 20 million — of unsafe abortions, mostly in poorer countries and often carried out by the women themselves using inappropriate drugs or herbal potions, or by untrained traditional healers.

“It is significant and tragic that while the overall rate of abortion is on the decline, unsafe abortion has not declined,” said Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, a think-tank which studies sexual and reproductive health.

“Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening, they just make the procedure dangerous. Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access,” she told a news conference in London.

CONTRACEPTION CHEAPER

The researchers said 40 percent of women still live in nations where abortion is highly restricted, and called for greater effort to improve access to contraception to prevent some of an estimated 76 million unwanted pregnancies each year.

They also said that in the developing world as a whole, healthcare for women harmed by unsafe abortions costs an estimated $500 million.

“Behind every abortion is an unwanted pregnancy,” said Akinrinola Bankole, the Guttmacher’s international research director.

He said developing countries and donor nations should look at the figures, which he said clearly demonstrated that “preventing unwanted pregnancy is cost-effective”.

In Nigeria, for example, a recent study showed the costs of treating women for complications caused by botched abortions were some $19 million, while it would cost only $4.8 million to provide contraception for those who wanted it.

The researchers said preventing the need for abortion entirely was unrealistic, but said eliminating unsafe abortion by improving access to contraception and increasing pressure to lift abortion restrictions was a worthwhile and achievable goal.

“Women will continue to seek abortion whether it is safe or not as long as the unmet need for contraception remains high,” Camp said. “With sufficient political will, we can ensure that no woman has to die in order to end a pregnancy she neither wanted nor planned for.”

Camp pointed to the Netherlands as an example of best practice and said she hoped to see global abortion rates come down from the current rate of 29 per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44 rate, to the Dutch rate of around 10 per 1,000.

“It’s a long way off, but it’s not impossible,” she said.