In the following video piece, Maude Barlow, head of the largest public advocacy group in Canada, the Council of Canadians, speaks out against the growing injustices in the world, as well as giving voice to the ecological catastrophe being wrought upon the world for the sake of ‘civilization.’
Left out is also is the disaster in our relations with the American Indians with who we broke treaties with, stole their land and subjected them to live in impoverished conditions within a concentration camp without locks.
~Russell Means, Chief Facilitator, Republic of Lakotah
19 March 2010
On March 13, China’s Information Office of the State Council published a report titled, “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009.”
This document was clearly intended as a rebuttal to the annual US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009, released two days earlier.
The Chinese report quite legitimately notes that the US government “releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse other countries, and takes human rights as a political instrument to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. This fully exposes its double standards on the human rights issue…”
Delivering the US government a well-deserved dose of its own medicine does not, of course, absolve the Chinese regime of its own gross violations of human rights. It rules autocratically over 1.3 billion people, most of them desperately poor peasants and super-exploited workers.
That being said, the Chinese report is an eye-opening document—factual, sober, even understated, drawn entirely from public government and media sources in the United States, with each item carefully documented. It presents a picture of 21st century America as much of the world sees it, one which is in sharp contrast to the official mythology and American media propaganda.
Not surprisingly, the report went unmentioned in the US mass media.
The 14-page report is divided into six major sections: Life, Property and Personal Security; Civil and Political Rights; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Racial Discrimination; Rights of Women and Children; US Violations of Human Rights Against Other Nations. The cumulative picture is one of a society in deep and worsening social crisis.
A few of the facts and figures cited on violence and police repression in the United States:
• Each year, 30,000 people die in gun-related incidents.
• There were 14,180 murders last year.
• In the first ten months of 2009, 45 people were killed by police use of tasers, bringing the total for the decade to 389.
• Last year, 315 police officers in New York City were subject to internal supervision due to “unrestrained use of violence.”
• 7.3 million Americans were under the authority of the correctional system, more than in any other country.
• An estimated 60,000 prisoners were raped while in custody last year.
On democratic rights, the report notes the pervasive government spying on citizens, authorized under the 2001 Patriot Act, extensive surveillance of the Internet by the National Security Agency, and police harassment of anti-globalization demonstrators in Pittsburgh during last year’s G-20 summit. Pointing to the hypocrisy of US government “human rights” rhetoric, the authors observe, “the same conduct in other countries would be called human rights violations, whereas in the United States it was called necessary crime control.”
The report only skims the surface on the socioeconomic crisis in the United States, noting record levels of unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness, as well as 46.3 million people without health insurance. It does offer a few facts rarely discussed in the US media:
• 712 bodies were cremated at public expense in the city of Los Angeles last year, because the families were too poor to pay for a burial.
• There were 5,657 workplace deaths recorded in 2007, the last year for which a tally is available, a rate of 17 deaths per day (not a single employer was criminally charged for any of these deaths).
• Some 2,266 veterans died as a consequence of lack of health insurance in 2008, 14 times the military death toll in Afghanistan that year.
The report presents evidence of pervasive racial discrimination against blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, the most oppressed sections of the US working class, including a record number of racial discrimination claims over hiring practices, more than 32,000. It also notes the rising number of incidents of discrimination or violence against Muslims, and the detention of 300,000 “illegal” immigrants each year, with more than 30,000 immigrants in US detention facilities every day of the year.
It notes that the state of California imposed life sentences on 18 times more black defendants than white, and that in 2008, when New York City police fired their weapons, 75 percent of the targets were black, 22 percent Hispanic and only 3 percent white.
The report refers to the well-known reality of unequal pay for women, with median female income only 77 percent that of male income in 2008, down from 78 percent in 2007. According to the report, 70 percent of working-age women have no health insurance, or inadequate coverage, high medical bills or high health-related debt.
Children bear a disproportionate burden of economic hardship, with 16.7 million children not having enough food at some time during 2008, and 3.5 million children under five facing hunger or malnutrition, 17 percent of the total. Child hunger is combined with the malignant phenomenon of rampant child labor in agriculture: some 400,000 child farm workers pick America’s crops. The US also leads the world in imprisoning children and juveniles, and is the only country that does not offer parole to juvenile offenders.
US foreign policy comes in for justifiable criticism as well. A country with so many poor and hungry people accounts for 42 percent of the world’s total military spending, a colossal $607 billion, as well as the world’s largest foreign arms sales, $37.8 billion in 2008, up nearly 50 percent from the previous year.
The Chinese report notes the documented torture of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, the worldwide US network of military bases, the US blockade of Cuba (opposed by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 187 to 3), and the systematic US spying around the world, utilizing the NSA’s “ECHELON” interception system, as well as the US monopoly control over Internet route servers.
The report also points out the deliberate US flouting of international human rights covenants. Washington has either signed but not ratified or refused to sign four major UN covenants: on economic, social and cultural rights; on the rights of women; on the rights of people with disabilities; and on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The report does not discuss the source of the malignant social conditions in the United States—nor should that be expected, since that would require an explanation of the causal connection between poverty, repression and discrimination and the operations of the capitalist profit system, something that Beijing is hardly likely to undertake.
The preceding was first published on Indybay
20 Ways to Save Mother Earth and Prevent Environmental Disaster
By Evo Morales, International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Posted December 15, 2008.
Capitalism’s glorification of competition and thirst for limitless profit are destroying the planet.
Sisters and brothers, today our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years.
Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer; the extinction of animal and plant species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.
One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.
Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.
Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death … and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under capitalism. And even “climate change” itself has become a business.
“Climate change” has placed all humankind before a great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries and economies in transition committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below the 1990 levels, through the implementation of different mechanisms among which market mechanisms predominate. Until 2006, greenhouse effect gases, far from being reduced, have increased by 9.1% in relation to the 1990 levels, demonstrating also in this way the breach of commitments by the developed countries.
The market mechanisms applied in the developing countries have not accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions. Just as well as the market is incapable of regulating global financial and productive system, the market is unable to regulate greenhouse effect gas emissions and will only generate a big business for financial agents and major corporations. The Earth is much more important than the stock exchanges of Wall Street and the world.
While the United States and the European Union allocate $4100 billion to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less, that is to say, only $13 billion.
The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More resources are directed to reduce emissions (mitigation) and less to reduce the effects of climate change that all the countries suffer (adaptation). The vast majority of resources flow to those countries that have contaminated the most, and not to the countries where we have preserved the environment most. Around 80% of the Clean Development Mechanism projects are concentrated in four emerging countries. Capitalist logic promotes a paradox in which the sectors that have contributed the most to deterioration of the environment are those that benefit the most from climate change programs. At the same time, technology transfer and the financing for clean and sustainable development of the countries of the South have remained just speeches.
The next summit on climate change in Copenhagen must allow us to make a leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth and humanity. For that purpose the following proposals for the process from Poznan to Copenhagen:
Attack the structural causes of climate change:
1) Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity, solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that we adopt will be palliatives that will limited and precarious in character. For us, what has failed is the model of “living better”, of unlimited development, industrialization without frontiers, of modernity that deprecates history, of increasing accumulation of goods at the expense of others and nature. For that reason we promote the idea of Living Well, in harmony with other human beings and with our Mother Earth.
2) Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption — of luxury and waste — especially the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach $150-250 billion, must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.
3) Agro-fuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings. Agro-fuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests and biodiversity, generate mono cropping, promote land concentration, deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy than is produced. Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that are met.
4) Strict fulfillment by 2012 of the commitments of the developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below the 1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted the planet throughout the course of history make statements about larger reductions in the future while not complying with their present commitments.
5) Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050, taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.
6) Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of savage industrialization that has brought us to the current situation. To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite, finance and technology transfer.
Address ecological debt:
7) Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism to support developing countries in: implementation of their plans and programs for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; the innovation, development and transfer of technology; in the preservation and improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.
8. This Integral Financial Mechanism, in order to be effective, must count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries and other contributions from taxes on oil and gas, financial transactions, sea and air transport, and the profits of transnational companies.
9) Contributions from developed countries must be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channeled through organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside the UNFCCC cannot be considered as the fulfillment of developed country’s commitments under the convention.
10) Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programs of the different states and not to projects that follow market logic.
11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering the impact of climate change.
12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development banks; its management must be collective, transparent and non-bureaucratic. Its decisions must be made by all member countries, especially by developing countries, and not by the donors or bureaucratic administrators.
Technology transfer to developing countries:
13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within the public domain, not under any private monopolistic patent regime that obstructs and makes technology transfer more expensive to developing countries.
14) Products that are the fruit of public financing for technology innovation and development of have to be placed within the public domain and not under a private regime of patents, so that they can be freely accessed by developing countries.
15) Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory licenses so that all countries can access products already patented quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and intellectual property rights as something “sacred” that has to be preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for public health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.
16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples’ practices in harmony with nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries.
Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people:
17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the participation of local communities and indigenous people in the framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but conscious, motivated and well organized human beings endowed with an identity of their own.
18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.
A UN for the environment and climate change:
19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organization to which multilateral trade and financial organizations are subordinated, so as to promote a different model of development that environmentally friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment. This organization must have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning mechanisms to ensure that the present and future agreements are complied with.
20) It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.
In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always promoted the defense of Mother Earth.
Humankind is capable of saving the Earth if we recover the principles of solidarity, complementarity and harmony with nature in contra position to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural resources.
 Due to the “Niña” phenomenon, that becomes more frequent as a result of the climate change, Bolivia has lost 4% of its GDP in 2007.
 Known as the Clean Development Mechanism
 At the present there is only one adaptation fund with approximately $500 million for more than 150 developing countries. According to the UNFCCC secretary, $171 billion is required for adaptation and $380 billion is required for mitigation.
 Stern report
 Kyoto Protocol, Art. 3.
 The Stern Review has suggested one percent of global GDP, which represents less than $700 billion per year.
 According to UNCTAD (1998), public financing in developing countries contributes with 40% of the resources for innovation and development of technology.