Wednesday 28 November 2012

Democracy or Manipulation of the Masses?

Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”
The secret is a form of censorship more insidious than a totalitarian state could ever hope to achieve. The myth is the opposite. Constitutional freedoms unmatched anywhere else guard against censorship; the press is a "fourth estate", a watchdog on democracy. The journalism schools boast this reputation, the influential East Coast press is especially proud of it, epitomised by the liberal paper of record, the New York Times, with its masthead slogan: "All the news that's fit to print."
It takes only a day or two back in the US to be reminded of how deep state censorship runs. It is censorship by omission, and voluntary. The source of most Americans' information, mainstream television, has been reduced to a set of marketing images shot and edited to the rhythms of a Coca-Cola commercial that flow seamlessly into the actual commercials. Rupert Murdoch's Fox network is the model, with its peep-shows of human tragedy. Non-American human beings are generally ignored, or treated with an anthropological curiosity reserved for wildlife documentaries.
Extract of an article by John Pilger
Napoleon was to say: “the politics of the future will be the art of mobilizing the masses.” 

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Slavery Today

Millions of people are exploited and enslaved in the world today, forced to work without any pay, beaten, abused…  there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. 

Poverty makes slave “supply” today cheaper than ever before. If slaves get sick, injured, outlive their usefulness, or become troublesome, they are dumped or killed. New slavery is directly connected to the global economy. As in the past, most slaves are forced to work in agriculture, mining, textile industry, prostitution… From these sectors, their exploited labor flows into the global economy, and into our lives.

"Attention needs to be paid to the deeper causes of the increased "demand" which fuels the market for human slavery and tolerates the human cost which results." John Paul II

Friday 16 November 2012

The Truth about Helen Keller

"The world is moved not only by the mighty stories of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."  

Helen Keller

“So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”
—Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

Click here to Read the article: The Truth about Helen Keller, by Ruth Shagoury

Published in the Zinn Educational Project

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Dadaab Refugee Camp

A Somali refugee girl sits perched on a tree in Ifo camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: 

"I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. 

Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. 

One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." 

Paula Nelson

Friday 9 November 2012

Malala's best friend continues her heroine's fight for girls' education

The best friend of Taliban shooting victim Malala Yousafzai has said she is praying for her school friend and is calling for more education for girls in Pakistan.

Kainat Riaz, 16, who was shot in the arm when the gunmen attacked her and Malala as they were returning home from school last month, told ITV: ‘I miss Malala. I am praying for Malala.’
15-year-old Malala was left fighting for her life after being targeted by Taliban gunmen on October 9 for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls.
In the barbaric attack, which caused outrage around the world, Malala was shot in the head and neck at point-blank range.
Both Malala and Kainat live in north-west Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which was under complete Taliban control from 2007 to 2009.
Speaking over the internet from Swat Valley, Kainat told ITV that she was not afraid to return to school after the attack and is studying hard.
The teenager said: 'Education is very important for girls and we need education. More, more, more.