Apr 27, 2013

We Don’t Need Genetically Engineered Bananas For Iron Deficiency

Nature has given us a cornucopia of biodiversity, rich in nutrients. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency results from destroying biodiversity, and with it rich sources of nutrition.
The Green Revolution has spread monocultures of chemical rice and wheat, driving out biodiversity from our farms and diets.
And what survived as spontaneous crops like the amaranth greens and chenopodium (bathua) which are rich in iron were sprayed with poisons and herbicides. Instead of being seen as iron rich and vitamin rich gifts, they were treated as “weeds”. A Monsanto representative once said that Genetically Engineered crops resistant to their propriety herbicide Roundup killed the weeds that “steal the Sunshine”. And their RoundUp Ads in India tell women “Liberate yourself, use Roundup”. This is not a recipe for liberation, but being trapped in malnutrition.
As the “Monoculture of the Mind” took over, biodiversity disappeared from our farms and our food. The destruction of biodiverse rich cultivation and diets has given us the malnutrition crisis, with 75% women now suffering from iron deficiency.
Our indigenous biodiversity offers rich sources of iron. Amaranth has 11.0 mg per 100gm of food, buckwheat has 15.5,neem has 25.3,bajra has 8.0,rice bran 35.0,rice flakes 20.0bengal gram roasted 9.5,Bengal gram leaves 23.8 ,cowpea 8.6,horse gram6.77, amaranth greens have upto 38.5,karonda 39.1,lotus stem 60.6, coconut meal 69.4,niger seeds 56.7,cloves 11.7,cumin seeds 11.7.mace 12.3,mango powder (amchur) 45.2,pippali 62.1,poppy seeds 15.9,tamarind pulp 17.0,turmeric 67.8, raisins 7.7……..
The knowledge of growing this diversity and transforming it to food is women’s knowledge. That is why in Navdanya we have created the network for food sovereignty in women’s hands - Mahila Anna Swaraj.
The solution to malnutrition lies in growing nutrition, and growing nutrition means growing biodiversity, it means recognizing the knowledge of biodiversity and nutrition among millions of Indian women who have received it over generations as “Grandmothers Knowledge”. For removing iron deficiency, iron rich plants should be grown everywhere, on farms, in kitchen gardens, in community gardens, in school gardens, on roof tops, in balconies….Iron deficiency was not created by Nature. And we can get rid of it by becoming co-creators and co-producers with Nature.
But there is a “creation myth” that is blind to nature’s creativity and biodiversity, and to the creativity, intelligence and knowledge of women. According to this “creation myth” of capitalist patriarchy, rich and powerful men are the “creators”. They can own life through patents and intellectual property. They can tinker with nature’s complex evolution over millennia, and claim their trivial yet destructive acts of gene manipulation “create” life, “create” food, “create” nutrition. In the case of GM bananas it is one rich man, Bill Gates, financing one Australian scientist, Dale, who knows one crop, the banana, to impose inefficient and hazardous GM bananas on millions of people in India and Uganda who have grown hundreds of banana varieties over thousands of years in addition to thousands of other crops.
The project is a waste of money, and a waste of time. It will take 10 years and millions of dollars to complete the research. But meantime, governments, research agencies, scientists will become blind to biodiversity based, low cost, safe, time tested, democratic alternatives in the hands of women.
Bananas only have 0.44mg of iron per 100 grams of edible portion. All the effort to increase iron content of bananas will fall short of the iron content of our indigenous biodiversity.
Not only is the GM banana not the best choice for providing iron in our diet, it will further threaten biodiversity of bananas and iron rich crops, and introduce new ecological risks.
First, the GM banana, if adopted, will be grown as large monocultures, like GM Bt cotton, and the banana plantations in the banana republics of Central America. Since government and Aid agencies will push this false solution, as has happened with every “miracle” in agriculture, our biodiversity of iron rich foods will disappear.
The idea of “nutrient farming” of a few nutrients in monocultures of a few crops has already started to be pushed at the policy level. The finance Minister announced an Rs 200 crore project for “nutri farms” in his 2013 budget speech.
Humans need a biodiversity of nutrients including a full range of micronutrients and trace elements. These come from healthy soils and biodiversity.
Second, our native banana varieties will be displaced, and contaminated. These include Nedunendran, Zanzibar, Chengalikodan, Manjeri Nendran II

Table varieties
Monsmarie, Robusta, Grand Naine, Dwarf Cavendish, Chenkadali, Poovan, Palayankodan,Njalipoovan, Amritsagar, Grosmichel, Karpooravalli, Poomkalli, Koompillakannan, Chinali, Dudhsagar, Poovan, Red banana

Culinary varieties
Monthan, Batheea Kanchikela Nendrapadathy
Njalipoovan, Palayankodan, Robusta.

There is a perverse urge among the biotechnology brigade to declare war against biodiversity in its centre of origin. An attempt was made to introduce Bt brinjal into India which is the centre of diversity for Brinjal. GM corn is being introduced in Mexico, the centre of diversity of corn. The GM banana is being introduced to the two countries where banana is a significant crop and has large diversity. One is India, the other is Uganda, the only country where banana is a staple.
Fourth, as recognized by Harvest Plus, the corporate alliance pushing Biofortification, there could be insurmountable problems with the biofortification of nutrients in foods as they: “... may deliver toxic amounts of nutrients to an individual and also cause its associated side effects (and) the potential that the fortified products will still not be a solution to nutrient deficiencies amongst low income populations who may not be able to afford the new product and children who may not be able to consume adequate amounts." (Food Biofortification: no answer to ill-health, starvation or malnutrition By Bob Phelps http://www.freshfruitportal.com/opinion-biofortification-is-an-obstacle-to-food-justice)

Fifth, Australian scientists are using a virus that infects the banana as a promoter. This could spread through horizontal gene transfer. All genetic engineering uses genes from bacteria and viruses. Independent studies have shown that there are health risks associated with GM foods.

There is no need for introducing a hazardous technology in a low iron food like bananas (which brings us many other health benefits )when we have so many affordable, accessible, safe and diverse options for meeting our nutritional needs of iron.

We have to grow nutrition by growing biodiversity, not industrially “fortify” nutritionally empty food at high cost, or put one or two nutrients into genetically engineered crops.

We don’t need these irresponsible experiments, that create new threats to biodiversity and our health, imposed by powerful men in distant places, who are totally ignorant of the biodiversity in our fields and thalis, and who never bear the consequences of their destructive power. We need to put food security in women’s hands so that the last woman and the last child can share in nature’s gifts of biodiversity.

Apr 4, 2013

How the Government Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
03 April 13

efore scoffing at this headline, you should know that in 1999, in Memphis, Tennessee, more than three decades after MLK's death, a jury found local, state, and federal government agencies guilty of conspiring to assassinate the Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader. The same media you would expect to cover such a monumental decision was absent at the trial, because those news organizations were part of that conspiracy. William F. Pepper, who was James Earl Ray's first attorney, called over 70 witnesses to the stand to testify on every aspect of the assassination. The panel, which consisted of an even mix of both black and white jurors, took only an hour of deliberation to find Loyd Jowers and other defendants guilty. If you're skeptical of any factual claims made here, click here for a full transcript, broken into individual sections. Read the testimonies yourself if you don't want to take my word for it.
It really isn't that radical a thing to expect this government to kill someone who threatened their authority and had the power to organize millions to protest it. When MLK was killed on April 4, 1968, he was speaking to sanitation workers in Memphis, who were organizing to fight poverty wages and ruthless working conditions. He was an outspoken critic of the government's war in Vietnam, and his power to organize threatened the moneyed corporate interests who were profiting from the war. At the time of his death, he was gearing up for the Poor People's Campaign, an effort to get people to camp out on the National Mall to demand anti-poverty legislation – essentially the first inception of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The government perceived him as a threat, and had him killed. James Earl Ray was the designated fall guy, and a complicit media, taking its cues from a government in fear of MLK, helped sell the "official" story of the assassination. Here's how they did it.
The Setup
The defendant in the 1999 civil trial, Loyd Jowers, had been a Memphis PD officer in the 1940s. He owned a restaurant called Jim's Grill, a staging ground to orchestrate MLK's assassination underneath the rooming house where the corporate media alleges James Earl Ray shot Dr. King. During the trial, William Pepper, the plaintiff's attorney, played a tape of an incriminating 1998 conversation between Jowers, UN Ambassador Andrew Young, and Dexter King, MLK's son. Young testified that Jowers told them he "wanted to get right with God before he died, wanted to confess it and be free of it."
On the tape, Jowers mentions that those present at the meetings included MPD officer Marrell McCollough, Earl Clark, an MPD lieutenant and known as the department's best marksman, another MPD officer, and two men who were unknown to Jowers but whom he assumed to be representatives of federal agencies. While Dr. King was in Memphis, he was under open or eye-to-eye federal surveillance by the 111th Military Intelligence Group based at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. Memphis PD intelligence officer Eli Arkin even admitted to having the group in his own office. During his last visit to Memphis in late March of 1968, MLK was under covert surveillance, meaning his room at the Rivermont was bugged and wired. Even if he went out to the balcony to speak, his words were recorded via relay. William Pepper alleges in his closing argument during King v. Jowers that such covert surveillance was usually done by the Army Security Agency, implying the involvement of at least two federal agencies.
Jowers also gave an interview to Sam Donaldson on "Prime Time Live" in 1993. The transcript of the interview was read during the trial, and it was revealed that Jowers openly talked about being asked by produce warehouse owner Frank Liberto to help with MLK's murder. Liberto had mafia connections, and sent a courier with $100,000 to Jowers, who owned a local restaurant, with instructions to hold the money at his restaurant.
John McFerren owned a store in Memphis and was making a pickup at Liberto's warehouse at 5:15 p.m. on April 4th, roughly 45 minutes before the assassination. McFerren testified that he overheard Liberto tell someone over the phone, "Shoot the son of a bitch on the balcony." Other witnesses who testified included café owner Lavada Addison, who was friends with Liberto in the 1970s. She recalled him confiding to her that he "had Martin Luther King killed." Addison's son, Nathan Whitlock, also testified. He asked Liberto if he killed MLK, and he responded, "I didn't kill the nigger but I had it done." When Whitlock pressed him about James Earl Ray, Liberto replied, "He wasn't nothing but a troublemaker from Missouri. He was a front man ... a setup man."
The back door of Loyd Jowers' establishment led to a thick crop of bushes across the street from the Lorraine Motel balcony where Dr. King was shot. On the taped confession to Andrew Young and Dexter King, Jowers says after he heard the shot, Lt. Earl Clark, who is now deceased, laid a smoking rifle at the rear of his restaurant. Jowers then disassembled the rifle, wrapped it in a tablecloth and prepared it for disposal.
The corporate media says it was James Earl Ray who shot MLK, and he did it from the 2nd floor bathroom window of the rooming house across the street from the Lorraine Motel. The official account alleges the murder weapon was dropped in a bundle and abandoned at Dan Canipe's storefront just before he made his getaway. But even those authorities and media admit that the bullet that tore through MLK's throat didn't have the same metallurgical composition as the bullets in the rifle left behind by James Earl Ray. And Judge Joe Brown, a weapons expert called to testify by Pepper in the 1999 trial, said the rifle allegedly used by James Earl Ray had a scope that was never sighted in, meaning that the weapon in question would have fired far to the left and far below the target.
The actual murder weapon was disposed of by taxi driver James McCraw, a friend of Jowers. William Hamblin testified in King v. Jowers that McCraw told him this story over a 15-year period whenever he got drunk. McCraw repeatedly told Hamblin that he threw the rifle over the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, meaning that the rifle is at the bottom of the Mississippi river to this day. And according to Hamblin's testimony, Canipe said he saw the bundle dropped in front of his store before the actual shooting occurred.
The Conspiracy
To make Dr. King vulnerable, plans had to be made to remove him from his security detail and anyone sympathetic who could be a witness or interfere with the killing. Two black firefighters, Floyd Newsum and Norvell Wallace, who were working at Fire Station #2 across the street from the Lorraine Motel, were each transferred to different fire stations. Newsum was a civil rights activist and witnessed MLK's last speech to the striking Memphis sanitation workers, "I Have Seen the Mountaintop," before getting the call about his transfer. Newsum testified that he wasn't needed at his new assignment, and that his transfer meant that Fire Station #2 would be out of commission unless someone else was sent there in his stead. Newsum talked about having to make a series of inquiries before finally learning that his reassignment had been ordered by the Memphis Police Department. Wallace testified that to that very day, while the official explanation was a vague death threat, he hadn't once received a satisfactory answer as to why he was suddenly reassigned.
Ed Redditt, a black MPD detective who was assigned to MLK's security detail, was also removed from the scene an hour before the shooting and sent home, and the only reason given was a vague death threat. Jerry Williams, another black MPD detective, was usually tasked with assembling a security team of black police officers for Dr. King. But he testified that on the night of the assassination, he wasn't assigned to form that team.
There was a Black Panther-inspired group called The Invaders, who were staying at the Lorraine Motel to help MLK organize a planned march with the striking garbage workers. The Invaders were ordered to leave the motel after getting into an argument with members of MLK's entourage. The origins of the argument are unclear, though several sources affirm that The Invaders had been infiltrated by Marrell McCollough of the MPD, who later went on to work for the CIA. And finally, the Tact 10 police escort of several MPD cars that accompanied Dr. King's security detail were pulled back the day before the shooting by Inspector Evans. With all possible obstacles out of the way, MLK was all alone just before the assassination.
The Cover-Up
Around 7 a.m. on April 5, the morning after the shooting, MPD Inspector Sam Evans called Public Works Administrator Maynard Stiles and told him to have a crew destroy the crop of bushes adjacent to the rooming house above Loyd Jowers' restaurant. This is particularly odd coming from a policeman, since the bushes were in a crime scene area, and crime scene areas are normally roped off, not to be disturbed. The official narrative of a sniper in the bathroom at the rooming house was then reinforced, since a sniper firing from an empty clearing would be far more visible than one hidden behind a thick crop of bushes.
Normally, when a major political figure is murdered, all possible witnesses are questioned and asked to make statements. But Memphis PD neglected to conduct even a basic house-to-house investigation. Olivia Catling, a resident of nearby Mulberry Street just a block away from the shooting, testified that she saw a man leave an alley next to the rooming house across from the Lorraine, climb into a Green 1965 Chevrolet, and speed away, burning rubber right in front of several police cars without any interference. There was also no questioning of Captain Weiden, a Memphis firefighter at the fire station closest to the Lorraine, the same one from which Floyd Newsum had been transferred just a day before.
Memphis PD and the FBI also suppressed the statements of Ray Hendricks and William Reed, who said they saw James Earl Ray's white mustang parked in front of Jowers' restaurant, before seeing it again driving away as they crossed another street. Ray's alibi was that he had driven away from the scene to fix a tire, and these two statements that affirmed his alibi were withheld from Ray's guilty plea jury.
The jury present at Ray's guilty plea hearing also wasn't informed about the bullet that killed MLK having different striations and markings than the other bullets kept as evidence, nor that the bullet couldn't be positively matched as coming from the alleged murder weapon. Three days after entering the guilty plea, James Earl Ray unsuccessfully attempted to retract it and demand a trial. Incredibly, James Earl Ray turned down two separate bribes, one of which was recorded by his brother Jerry Ray, where he was offered $220,000 by writer William Bradford Huey and the guarantee of a full pardon if he would just agree to have the story "Why I Killed Martin Luther King" written on his behalf.
The Deception
One of the 70 witnesses that William F. Pepper called to testify in King v. Jowers was Bill Schaap, a practicing attorney with particular experience in military law, with bar credentials in New York, Chicago, and DC. Schaap testified at great length about how the government, through the FBI and the CIA, puts people in key positions on editorial boards at influential papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. He describes that although these editorial board members and news directors at cable news outlets may be liberal in their politics, they always take the government's side in national security-related stories. Before you write that off as conspiracy theory, remember how people like Bill Keller at the New York Times, as well as the Washington Post editorial board, all cheerfully led the march to war in Iraq ten years ago.
Another King v. Jowers witness was Earl Caldwell, a New York Times reporter who was sent to Memphis by an editor named Claude Sitton. Caldwell testified that the orders from his editor were to "nail Dr. King." In the publication's effort to sell the story of James Earl Ray as the murderer, the Times cited an investigation into how Ray got the money for his Mustang, rifle, and the long road trip to Tennessee from California. The Times said that according to their own findings as well as the findings of federal agencies, Ray got the money by robbing a bank in his hometown of Alton, Illinois. In Pepper's closing argument, he says that when he or Jerry Ray talked to the chief of police in Alton, along with the bank president of the branch that was allegedly robbed, neither said they had been approached by the New York Times, or by the FBI. Essentially, the Times fabricated the entire story in order to sell a false narrative that there was no government intervention and that James Earl Ray was a lone wolf.
So for the following 31 years after King's death, nobody dared to question the constant reiteration of James Earl Ray as the murderer of Martin Luther King. Even 13 years after a jury found the government complicit in a conspiracy to murder the civil rights leader, the complicit media continues to propagate the false narrative they sold us three decades ago and vociferously shout down any alternative theories as to what happened as "conspiracy theory," framing those putting forth such theories as wackjobs undeserving of any credibility. It's strikingly similar to how the Washington Post defended their warmongering in a recent editorial commenting on the invasion of Iraq, and had one of their reporters defend the media's leading of the charge into Iraq.
As we remember Dr. King and the important work he did, we should also reject the official account of his death as loudly as the government and media shout down anyone who tries to contradict their lies. AsEdward R. Murrow said, "Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit."

Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Jun 29, 2012

Review: The Walls of Delhi

Roz Ward

Review: The Walls of Delhi
Review: The Walls of Delhi. Uday Prakash (Author), Jason Grunebaum (Translator). UWA PublishingMarch, 2012
Uday Prakash’s three short stories pull back the curtain on life in 21st century India, a place where poverty and exploitation are the daily reality for millions of people. These are by no means just stories that lament the tragedy of poverty; they are compelling, comic and full of life.
Prakash’s storytelling, in the Hindi tradition, will take you on a journey into the lives of three characters whose experiences come to represent a greater reality. The rich descriptions of the hardships endured by the men, women and children paint a vivid picture of the depravity of modern capitalism and the hopefulness of the human spirit that survives in even the most desperate situations.
The first of three novellas, “The Walls of Delhi”, centres on Ramivas, a down and out cleaner who one day discovers a fortune that transforms his life. The description of his time among the street vendors, beggars, cleaners, and lowly paid workers of Delhi gives a truly sensual experience of what life is like for those who were hidden away when the Commonwealth games visited.
It brings to mind the wilful blindness of Western presenters on tourist shows who gush about how breathtaking the “local” markets are in these far flung lands. Yet, the story is not just about individual characters and the trials they face just trying to stay alive, it pulls together pieces to show you something of the whole. In one passage, the narrator ponders:
every time I do a bit of soul searching to try to figure out what’s wrong with me and why I have such bad luck, I come face-to-face with every single rotten thing about this whole system we live in – a system surely created by some underworld gang.
The characters are aware that some small minority is dominating the majority and making their lives a misery. It doesn’t come as a surprise then, to discover that Prakash was once a member of the Communist Party of India. Although he now describes himself as “apolitical” his work, for anyone with progressive or left wing politics, is woven through with the underlying themes of social injustice, corruption, class, and inequality.
In the second story, “Mohandas”, a man who starts out with a belief in fairness and justice gets brutally disavowed at every turn. Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do. Top of his grade at college, Mohandas secured a degree that he thought would lead him and his family out of poverty, to security, and even to freedom. Although centred on one person’s individual ambition and disillusionment, the story again weaves in so many interconnections that you can’t help but see the bigger picture.
Sometimes the politics is not even underlying, it is right out in the open. At one point, in a step back from the story at hand, the narrator comments:
You may think this is some 125 year old tale, in the tradition of Hindi fiction, it is not. It is a tale of a time right after 9/11…a time when two sovereign Asian nations were reduced to ash and rubble. It’s a tale of time when anybody worshipping gods other than the god of the US and Europe were called fascists, terrorists, religious fanatics. Gas and oil, water, markets, profit, plunder: to get all of this, companies, governments, and armies were killing innocent people every day all over the world.
The final story “Mangosil” is perhaps the most tragic of all. Chandrakant, the servant of a disgusting police inspector, runs away with Shobha, a woman suffering brutal abuse, to start a new life. They make their home in a “half flat” under the stairs of an apartment building with planks of wood for a door, one tap to serve all their needs, and an open sewer stinking two feet below the window. When they are finally able to have a child to create the family they long for, he is born with a condition that poverty has caused, and that only the rich could hope to cure. The boy, Suri, comes to represent a pained wisdom and calm amongst the ravages of everyday life. The narrator describes how one day Suri said to him:
Uncle, there’s no such thing as the Third World. There are only two worlds, and both of them exist everywhere. In one live those who create injustice, and all the rest, the ones who have to put up with injustice, live in the other.
Prakash is a controversial figure in the world of Hindi literature. His work has raised many political debates about the contradictions and catastrophes of contemporary India. This book gives you a real insight into these questions in a way that is both painful and hopeful. For those of us who fight to see an end to injustice, this book is well worth a read.

Jan 3, 2012

Joseph: the Victim of Ancient Human Trafficking

Man Who Brought a Food Security Bill and Made Egypt a Super Economic Power
By Madhu Chandra


Joseph’s story is not just a Biblical narrative.  It gives us insight into the human condition. In this narrative it is the issue of selling human beings for money and subsequent slavery. The world has declared that human trafficking is the largest crime next to armed drug trafficking.  The story of Joseph will help people to understand the grave concerns involved with the victims of human trafficking.  It can also serve to encourage the anti-trafficking initiatives.

For Joseph, it was God who helped him throughout, from the cistern, to being sold to the Midianite merchants, to slavery in Potiphar’s house, to enduring sexual abuse by family members, to being falsely accused and imprisoned. For Joseph, it was God’s intension that he testifies to his brothers when they asked for his forgiveness.

Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob and first son of his mother Rachael, was a victim of ancient human trafficking. He also became head of the 11th tribe of Israel and a unique part of Israel’s history. Joseph was abducted, trafficked for domestic work, brutalized, sold and resold to bounded labor, a victim of attempted rape repeatedly by a woman, abused, imprisoned, and ignored, yet became a man who brought a food security bill for the whole Egyptian nation and made the nation a super economic power during years of severe famine.

The narration of Joseph found in the Bible is often thought of as a Biblical story and not connected with the contemporary issues facing us around the world today. Reviewing Joseph’s narrative, not from a theological and evangelical perspective, will throw light on the challenges of modern slavery systems and human trafficking. Perhaps, it will be helpful for those who are struggling to accept the challenges of human trafficking from Christian or Biblical perspectives.

His stepbrothers misled Joseph, which is similar to many cases in current human trafficking. People familiar with the victims mislead them with false promises of giving jobs and free education etc. Joseph, being thrown into a cistern by his stepbrothers, indicates the confinement that victims experience in most human trafficking cases.

His stepbrothers sold him to Midianite merchants for twenty shekels of silver. Twenty shekels of silver is equivalent to eight ounces of silver. Today, twenty shekels is approximately equal to $143. Perhaps, this was the first recorded instance of selling human beings for money. The Midianite merchants resold Joseph to Potiphar, an official of Pharoh. He became the captain of the guard as a slave.  His sole purpose was domestic work as a bounded laborer. He was faithful to the service of his master, found favor in the eyes of Potiphar, and was thus given charge of his household.

Like many domestic female servants, Joseph was sexually abused. His master’s wife attempted to rape him repeatedly day after day. Because of his commitment to his master and fear of God, he overcame these rape attempts. When Potipar’s wife saw that she could not succeed, he was charged with an allegation of sexual abuse, which landed him in prison for years.

In prison he met two government officials of Pharaoh, a cupbearer and a baker, who were facing serious allegations against them.  They were depressed due to these allegations, lost jobs, and justice denied. Joseph the interpreter of dreams at his father’s house, in the prison, and Pharaoh’s court, consoled the cupbearer and convinced the baker by interpreting the dreams that they each had. The baker was executed for the crimes he committed as Joseph foretold, and the cupbearer was reinstated into Pharoh’s court. Interestingly, the cupbearer forgot the consolation received from Joseph for two years until someone was needed to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, and Joseph was summoned.

Finally, Joseph was rescued from bounded labor when he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams of seven years great abundance and seven years severe famine. Joseph found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and was appointed as governor of Egypt.

Joseph, the dreamer, made a food security bill for Egypt and the surrounding tribal nations after he was rescued from human trafficking. A bill of agriculture was issued for a tax in order to prepare and store food grain from all over the land of Egypt during the abundant seven years so that the nation would not fall to ruin during the seven years famine. Joseph stored up quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea. It was so much, that he stopped keeping records.

Indian government managed to introduce a must awaited Food Security Bill 2011 on December 22 and it needs to go through both upper and lower houses before it becomes a law for the nation to secure food for over one billion people in India. Joseph knew the importance of the bill in order to save lives of many under his care.

Then the seven years famine began and spread all over the land of Egypt and surrounding nations. No food stores were left in the region accept in Egypt, and people from all over the region came to Egypt to buy food including his stepbrothers and his father Jacob. Egypt became a super economic power due to these great reserves of grain.

Joseph’s story is not just a Biblical narrative.  It gives us insight into the human condition. In this narrative it is the issue of selling human beings for money and subsequent slavery. The world has declared that human trafficking is the largest crime next to armed drug trafficking.  The story of Joseph will help people to understand the grave concerns involved with the victims of human trafficking.  It can also serve to encourage the anti-trafficking initiatives.

For Joseph, it was God who helped him throughout, from the cistern, to being sold to the Midianite merchants, to slavery in Potiphar’s house, to enduring sexual abuse by family members, to being falsely accused and imprisoned. For Joseph, it was God’s intension that he testifies to his brothers when they asked for his forgiveness.

But for modern man, hundreds of thousand who are trafficked into forced sexual bondage, bounded labor, domestic work, and mafia thugs, who will be their voices and who care to redeem them?  Who is there to restore hope to their lives?

Seema (name changed) a 13 years old girl, now 15, is a victim of Orissa’s Kandhmal communal violence, which took place in 2008-09. Hundreds of home, churches, and lives were destroyed. Thousands were rendered homeless and displaced. Seema’s parents were displaced, and her village and home destroyed. A known villager with false promises of work deceived her and her 19-year-old sister, along with two other girls.  They were sold and brought to a placement agency in Delhi in early 2010.

They were sexually abused and raped repeatedly for five days by different people in the placement agency before they were sent to work as domestic workers in different homes. They worked without pay or proper food, and were abused by family members.

An anti human trafficking team rescued them after 9 months when the matter was reported to the All India Christian Council. Three of them were rescued from Delhi and a neighboring state. Seema’s sister is still untraceable even after the Delhi High Court ordered the Delhi police to find her. Two of Seema’s friends have been restored to their families in Orissa after they were rescued.  Seema continues rebuilding her life under the care of the All India Christian Council’s shelter home in Delhi.

Seema’s future is finally being restored after she has been given coaching class to read and write in English and half way through a beautician vocational training. Once she completes her course, will able to get a livelihood for herself and her poor parents living in an isolated village in a think forest in Orissa.

Indian Dalit and tribal women and children are vulnerable to human trafficking. North Eastern communities are in great danger at the hands of human traffickers. The issue remained unchallenged with the current socio-economic, educational, and employment crisis in the North East India region. More challenge will face in the region, when the International Highways are soon opened as per as Indian government’s “LOOK EAST” policy with ASEAN countries, where the region could become a hub for entry and exit of human trafficking.

With care and concern, many victims of human trafficking, like Seema, can find hope and a future like Joseph, who became a man rescued, made a food security bill for the nation and helped to make Egypt a super economic power.

Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi. 

Jan 2, 2012

Wishes for 2012 : The New Year

Helena Hagglund

There is no Christmas calm in Egypt. The protests and marches continue, as do the attacks and killings by the army. The second wave of revolution continues.
In less than a month, Egypt will celebrate the anniversary of the January 25th uprising. The Supreme Army Council is said to be planning its own festivities that day, something that the revolutionaries cannot accept. Many fear new controversies.
The scenes in Tahrir Square and its neighbouring streets are scary: people getting abused and killed, choking on tear gas, dying from gunshot wounds. The list of martyrs grows longer. It is easy to see pictures of this and wish for an end to the unrest.
And an end to the unrest is precisely what the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are looking for. They exhort to calm and claim to be looking for a peaceful democratic electoral process. Calm is also what the ruling military council says it wants. In a time of crisis it is easy to play the stability card if you already have institutionalised power and influence.
But for those who dedicated their lives for the revolution, for those who quit their jobs, for those whose friends or sons or daughters have been killed, for those imprisoned - for all of them calm would be devastating. If they surrender their demands for the downfall of the military council in order to gain calm and stability, the struggle will be lost. Even Mubarak offered calm and stability.
"Stability" is something the powerful incessantly call for. Stability means an end to visible violence but nothing when it comes to ending the silent violations of human rights: the starvation of the poor, the murder of the unwanted in police cells, the daily abuse and exploitation. A calm and quiet people who do not collectively organize themselves in protests are a people easy to control. Hence every dictator this year has pointed out the stability and the calm that he can provide as an opposite to the rowdiness of the revolutionaries. Calm and stability is good for business and rich and powerful nations needs calm to plan and guarantee business deals.
But stability is devastating. If this was the goal, no revolutions would have ever occurred, there would be no real political change. Chaos, unrest and instability is necessary in creating a new future. A subdued people know to expect the onward grind of oppression. But a people ruling themselves do not have a clue what the future will bring, the only thing they know is that they are taking power from the powerful.
That is why the revolutionaries of Egypt are continuing to fight. They know that a revolution is more than overthrowing a dictator. They know that it will probably take years of uncertainty and unrest to ensure that their demands of freedom, justice, social equality and bread are met. The Left in Europe needs to follow their lead and listen to their demands, and not fall for media narratives of "successful elections" or "a gradual transition to a new Egypt".
So this is why I hope for a 2012 that follows on from what the Arab Spring started. I hope for a boiling, unstable 2012 that continues to change the world.
Helena Hagglund is a freelance journalist based in Cairo and Stockholm. The piece was first published in Swedish on www.seglorasmedja.se 

Mar 21, 2011

Beyond Fukishima

 By Danny Schechter


What will it take for our world to recognize the dangers that nuclear scientists and even Albert Einstein were warning about at the “dawn” of the nuclear age?
 Amy Goodman reminds us of the prophetic statement by Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett who tried to find words to describe the horror he was seeing in Hiroshima in 1945 after the bomb fell.
  “It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts ... as a warning to the world.”
 The world heard his warning, but seems to have ignored it. In fact, what followed has been decades of nuclear proliferation, the spread of nuclear power plants and the escalation of the arms race with new higher tech weaponry.
 As Hiroshima becomes yesterday’s distant memory and Fukishima the current threat, the full extent of the casualties and body count are not yet in, partly because the Japanese government and the power companies don’t want to alarm the public.
 Years earlier, a similar cover-up was in effect at Thee Mile Island complex in Pennsylvania where reports of the damage people suffered from a serious accident was minimized, never examined in depth by some of the very same media outlets who are today criticizing Japan for a lack of transparency.
On August, 6, 2008, the anniversary of the dropping of the first nuclear bomb, Alternet.org reported that the government and media were complicit in minimizing public awareness of the extensive suffering that did take place:
 “But the word never crossed the conceptual chasm between the "mainstream" media and the "alternative." Despite a federal class action lawsuit filed by 2400 Pennsylvania families claiming damages from the accident, despite at least $15 million quietly paid to parents children with birth defects, despite three decades of official admissions that nobody knows how much radiation escaped from TMI, where it went or who it affected, not a mention of the fact that people might have been killed there made its way into a corporate report”
 Was this just accidental or is there a deeper pattern of denial? The great expert on psycho history, Robert J. Lifton, wrote a book, Hiroshima In America, with journalist Greg Mitchell about the aftermath of Hiroshima in America exploring what they call  “50 years of denial.”
 One reviewer explained, “The authors examine what they perceive to be a conspiracy by the government to mislead and suppress information about the actual bombing, Truman's decision to drop the bomb, and the birth and mismanagement of the beginning of the nuclear age. The authors claim that Americans then, and now, are haunted by the devastating psychological effects of the bomb.”
Lifton and Mitchell are evidence-based writers, not conspiratologists, but they could find no other explanation for how such a seminal event could have been distorted and misrepresented for a half century.
 Nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been sold to the public relentlessly, in the first instance as necessary, and the second, as safe. Rory O’ Connor and Richard Bell coined the term “Nuke Speak” to describe the Orwellian methods deployed by the nuclear industry’s PR offensive in a book length analysis of a well funded campaign that continues to this day using euphemistic language to mask its real agenda.
And today, as the world watches the dreadful and even Darwinian struggle for survival by the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, as information about the extent of the nuclear danger trickles out, President Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to build new nuclear plants.
Others stress more parochial concerns.  The TV Production community fears a shortage in Japanese made magnetic and recording tape. Consumers are being told that they may face a delay in ordering new iPads so get your orders in now. And, the Israeli new service YNET says people there worry about a sushi shortage.
 Meanwhile, in Germany, more than 50,000 activists took to the streets in protest, but, so far, there has been no organized outcry here in the U.S. At the Left Forum in New York, the issue was barely addressed in the opening plenary.
 On the right, flamboyant talking head/provocateur Ann Coulter defended the imagined health benefits of a release of radiation to counter what she calls the alarmism of the environmentalists. She calls it a “cancer vaccine.”
 In a talk during a recent visit to Iran, which insists it is not making nuclear weapons, I raised questions about what their government said they want to do: expand their nuclear power plants. When I questioned the wisdom of  that approach, I was jeered because they felt I was challenging their “right” to have what other countries have, their right to “progress.” The thought that the plants could be dangerous was dismissed,
 What they don’t seem to know and what millions in Japan are finding out is this technology—with spent rods that are never “spent” and the nuclear waste that will outlive us all-- is inherently unsafe.  Jonathan Schell makes this point well in a recent essay in the Nation:
 “The chain of events at the reactors now running out of control provides a case history of the underlying mismatch between human nature and the force we imagine we can control. Nuclear power is a complex, high technology. But the things that endemically malfunction are of a humble kind.
 The art of nuclear power is to boil water with the incredible heat generated by a nuclear chain reaction. But such temperatures necessitate continuous cooling. Cooling requires pumps. Pumps require conventional power. These are the things that habitually go wrong—and have gone wrong in Japan. A backup generator shuts down. A battery runs out. The pump grinds to a halt. You might suppose that it is easy to pump water into a big container, and that is usually true, but the best-laid plans go awry from time to time. Sometimes the problem is a tsunami, and sometimes it is an operator asleep at the switch.”
As the “incident” records of our own Nuclear Regulatory Agency make clear, these are not just Japanese problems.  The Christian Science Minitor reports, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to resolve known safety problems, leading to 14 'near-misses' in US nuclear power plants in 2009 and 2010, according to a new report from a nuclear watchdog group.”
 We don’t even know the full of the extent of the accidents, unintentional releases of radiation and other problems in this country much less in others with fewer rules and less oversight. No one expected Chenobyl to explode, claiming so many lives; no one knows where the next disaster will occur.
 Bernie Sanders is calling for a full investigation of nuclear safety here. Ralph Nader writes, “"The unfolding multiple nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan is prompting overdue attention to the 104 nuclear plants in the United States - many of them aging, many of them near earthquake faults, some on the west coast exposed to potential tsunamis."
 The global nuclear roulette game goes on. Even moderate and restrained criticisms are dismissed until there is an “event” that cannot be denied. Nuclear energy supporters promise that  “Gen 4,” the next generation of reactors, will be much safer. 
 Problem solved?  Not everyone thinks so. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists carries an assessment by Hugh Gusterson on “The Lessons of Fukishima.”
 “To this anthropologist, then, the lesson of Fukushima is not that we now know what we need to know to design the perfectly safe reactor, but that the perfectly safe reactor is always just around the corner. It is technoscientific hubris to think otherwise.
 This leaves us with a choice between walking back from a technology that we decide is too dangerous or normalizing the risks of nuclear energy and accepting that an occasional Fukushima is the price we have to pay for a world with less carbon dioxide. It is wishful thinking to believe there is a third choice of nuclear energy without nuclear accidents.”
 We are still debating if nuclear power is worth the risk as irradiated clouds float over Los Angeles and there is a panicked run in the public to buy iodine pills.  The industry’s marketing machine is in crisis response mode and hasn’t missed a beat, while many of us look on with a sense of impotence as we are told, once again, what’s in our best interest.
 (News Dissector Danny Schechter began covering nuclear power plant controversies in the early 1970’s. He blogs for Mediachannel.org. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org)