Wednesday, July 15, 2009

China is now an empire in denial

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (UK) (7-13-09)

[Gideon Rachman is the FT’s chief foreign affairs columnist.]

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it suddenly became obvious that the USSR had never been a proper country. It was a multinational empire held together by force. Might we one day say the same of China?

Of course, any such suggestion is greeted with rage in Beijing. Chinese politicians are modern-minded pragmatists when it comes to economic management. But they revert to Maoist language when questions of territorial integrity are touched upon. Supporters of Taiwanese independence are “splittists”. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, has been described as a “monster with a human face and an animal’s heart”. The Muslim Uighurs who rioted violently last week were denounced as the tools of sinister foreign forces.

According to David Shambaugh, an academic, the main lesson that the Chinese drew from studying the collapse of the USSR was to avoid “dogmatic ideology, entrenched elites, dormant party organisations, and a stagnant economy”.

It is an impressive list. But it misses out one obvious thing. The Soviet Union ultimately fell apart because of pressure from its different nationalities. In 1991, the USSR split up into its constituent republics.

Of course, the parallels are not exact. Ethnic Russians made up just over half the population of the USSR. The Han Chinese are over 92 per cent of the population of China. Yet Tibet and Xinjiang are exceptions. Some 90 per cent of the population of Tibet are still ethnic Tibetans. The Uighurs make up just under half the population of Xinjiang. Neither area is comfortably integrated into the rest of the country – to put it mildly. Last week’s riots in Xinjiang led to the deaths of more than 180 people, the bloodiest known civil disturbance in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989. There were also serious disturbances in Tibet just before last year’s Olympics.

In a country of more than 1.3bn people, the 2.6m in Tibet and the 20m in Xinjiang sound insignificant. But together they account for about a third of China’s land mass – and for a large proportion of its inadequate reserves of oil and gas. Just as the Russians fear Chinese influence over Siberia, so the Chinese fear that Muslim Xinjiang could drift off into Central Asia...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The World Future Counsil - For Sustainability, Justice, Ending Poverty & Working for Peace

Hans Lak posted an announcement to the cause Join and support the World Future Council;

Click on title above to go there;

The World Future Council, a group of 50 activists, politicians and thinkers from around the world, is focused on finding ways to prevent today’s actions from constraining tomorrow’s choices. The group just wrapped up a two-day symposium in Montreal at which more than 100 experts in international law explored ways to use legal tools, most of which are oriented toward doling out justice among those alive now, to avert what amount to crimes against the future.

These include such actions as driving species to extinction and adding long-lived greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in ways that have few impacts now, but could disrupt climate patterns, ocean ecosystems and coastal settlements in decades to come. In a news release, the council said that world leaders, through decades of statements on sustainable development, have pledged to balance current needs with the obligation to avoid impoverishing the future. “But the legal enforcement of these agreements is still very limited,” it noted.

In a news release, C.G. Weeramantry, a member of the council and former vice president of the International Court of Justice, described the group’s goal this way:

We are today using international law in a heartless fashion, for we think only of those who are alive here and now and shut our eyes to the rest of the vast family of humanity who are yet to come. This forecloses to future generations their rights to the basic fundamentals of civilized existence: acknowledging them as holders of rights in the eyes of our law.”

This harks back to a post here about a proposal for the creation of a government position of “ legal guardian of future generations.”

What do you think? Are we mature enough as a species to safeguard the rights of future generations without the threat of a day in court?

Hans Lak
One person can make a difference
Please add me if you like, and join one person!

View Announcement - Invite Friends

The Causes Team

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3M chemicals found in residents' blood

Tests of east metro residents shows 3M chemicals in their blood.

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: July 9, 2009 - 12:16 PM

Sorry, nojustice - 3M Co. Class Action Rejected

Stillwater MN: (Jun-20-07) Eastern Twin Cities area residents tried to file a class action against the chemical plant for private and city … read more well contamination. 3M Co. made perfluourochemicals (PFCs) for 50 years before stopping production in 2002. The chemicals do not break down readily in the environment and allegedly build up in human and animal blood. 3M disposed of waste materials containing PFCs at two landfills in Washington County in compliance with the applicable laws at the time. However, the chemicals were later found in private wells in the Lake Elmo area and in Oakdale's city well. The lawsuit sought to force 3M to take steps to prevent further contamination and remove the contamination that already exists, as well as monetary damages. Washington County District Judge Mary Hannon ruled that the plaintiffs failed to meet the extensive legal requirements under Minnesota law to get the lawsuit certified as a class action. [LA CROSSE TRIBUNE: PFC WELL CONTAMINATION REJECTED]


East metro residents who drank water tainted with 3M chemicals have retained trace levels of those compounds in their blood, according to a new state health study. Scientists tested blood from 196 volunteers in Lake Elmo, Cottage Grove and Oakdale and found that levels of three compounds were slightly above the national average. Those eligible for the study had to live in areas where private wells or city water was found to be contaminated.

Study participants have been notified of the results, and state health officials will hold two public meetings to explain the findings and to answer other questions.

The compounds, known as perfluorochemicals, were manufactured by 3M in its Cottage Grove plant for more than 50 years until 2002. They were used in Scotchgard, Teflon, firefighting foam and hundreds of other products. The company disposed of wastes in area dumps until the mid-1970s.

3M agreed in 2007 to clean up the chemicals in four locations. It has also financed hookups with city water for more than 200 households with contaminated private wells in Lake Elmo, and paid for Oakdale to install special filters for a city well that was tainted.

Little is known about the long-term health effects of exposure to the chemicals. 3M has reported that studies of its workers who made the perfluorochemicals have had no impact on their health. Studies on animals have shown effects on the liver, thyroid and pancreas, but it's unclear whether those problems are likely to affect humans and at what levels of exposure.

The public meetings will occur on July 21 at Skyview Elementary School in Oakdale, and on July 22 at Cottage Grove's city council chambers.

Both meetings begin with an open house at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

Click on title above for original article and place to comment;

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colorado River Infected with Deadly Virus?

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

In this update:
[1] HPS Arizona
[2] HPS New Mexico

[1] HPS Arizona
Date: Tue 23 Jun 2009
Source: [edited]

A Minnesota woman who died from a hantavirus infection may have
contracted the rodent-linked [virus] during a trip through the Grand
Canyon, authorities said.

The woman, whose name and hometown were not released, died 12 Jun
[2009] at a hospital outside Arizona, said Trish Lees, a spokeswoman
for the Coconino County Arizona Health Department.

The woman, in her early 50s, may have contracted the disease during a
family boating trip on the Colorado River in mid- to late-May 2009,
Lees told the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff in a story published Tue 23
Jun 2009.

It was the 1st hantavirus infection case linked to Arizona this year
[2009]. One case was reported last year [2008] in the state, Lees said.

Hantavirus infections are contracted by inhaling infected particles
from mouse droppings and urine. The woman told health officials she
wasn't aware of any recent contact with mice.

Communicated by:

[A report in NAZ Today of 22 Jun 2009

indicated that this was a case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
Several hantaviruses in the western hemisphere can cause hantavirus
pulmonary syndrome. Although this report does not indicate which
hantavirus is involved in this case, or in the one reported from New
Mexico below, most likely they are due to infection by Sin Nombre
virus. Its rodent host is _Peromyscus maniculatus_ (deer mouse, see

A map showing the location of the Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona
can be accessed at .

For the location of the states of Arizona and New Mexico, in the
southwestern USA, see
and the HealthMap/ProMED-mail
interactive map at . - Mod.TY]

[2] HPS New Mexico
Date: Thu 20 Jun 2009
Source: [edited]

The state health department reports that a 65-year-old San Miguel
County man has contracted a hantavirus infection, the 2nd confirmed
case of the year [2009]. The man has been hospitalized at the
University of New Mexico Hospital. The state health department is
conducting an environmental investigation to try to determine where
the man contracted the virus and whether people may be at risk.
Hantavirus infections can cause a potentially fatal disease that is
transmitted to humans by infected rodents through their urine,
droppings and saliva [which dry out and turn to dust, which can be
stirred up and inhaled - Mod.JW].

The deer mouse [_Peromyscus maniculatus_] is the primary carrier of
the virus. Symptoms of hantavirus infection include fever, muscle
aches, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
and coughing. Chances of recovery are better if treatment is sought
promptly, according to the health department.

[Byline: Reed Upton]

Communicated by:

A map showing the location of San Miguel County, in central New
Mexico, can be accessed at
Picture of deer mouse (_Peromyscus maniculatus_)

[see also:
Hantavirus update 2009 - Americas (06): USA (NM) 20090511.1753
Hantavirus update 2008 - Americas (22): USA (NM), Chile ex Arg.: susp
Hantavirus update 2008 - Americas (04): USA (NM) 20080308.0957
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (14): USA (NM) 20071201.3871
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (07): USA (NM) 20070621.2007
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (06): USA (NM) 20070531.1756]
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
Become a ProMED-mail Premium Subscriber at

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NASA's Kepler Mission: Search for a "New Earth"

Guess our gov't figures that when our own earth becomes un-inhabitable, It would be nice to have a "New Earth" in reserve waiting for us to take-over, plunder, pillage, exploit and destroy;Imagine that, disposable worlds!

Overview of the Kepler Mission

... NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets around other stars.

Importance of Planet Detection
The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars.

Click on title above for full story;

Friday, July 3, 2009

Can music change the world?

Here at Oxfam, we believe it can. That's why we've devoted an entire section of our brand new website to the work of volunteers and supporters in the music industry – including musicians (like Coldplay, Wilco, Angelique Kidjo, and Arcade Fire), labels, managers, and media – who are speaking out to support a global movement to overcome poverty and injustice. Check on title above to see who's involved, sign up to volunteer at a concert, and find out how you can join the movement.

Our belief in the power of music is also why we're out in force at major summer concerts this year, like this month's Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
Go here to read a first-hand account of Oxfam's outreach work at the major music event.

Take action on the go

Nestle' Wars: Crunching the Environment / Food & Waterworks Needs Our Help to Fight Them

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) has been battling corporate giant Nestlé for nine long years, but the group is running out of money and time.

Can you make an urgently needed donation to help the MCWC raise the $10,000 necessary to counter Nestlé's deep pockets?

Nestlé, which is the world's largest food and beverage corporation, has spent a fortune in legal battles over the years so that it can continue to pump water from Michigan streams and keep profiting at the expense of the environment.

This fight isn't just about Michigan- Nestlé's approach there is indicative of its attidude about control of water resources, and a loss in Michigan will surely encourage it to continue its practices elsewhere. Six years ago, a judge ordered Nestlé to stop its extraction of 400 gallons per minute from a Michigan wildlife preserve because the pumping had a negative impact on local streams and ponds. Rather than cease the pumping, Nestlé appealed the decision, and has kept the MCWC tied up ever since.

Now the MCWC has only a few days to secure the money needed to appear at a court hearing this Monday, July 6th. If the group can't make the hearing, it may have to drop the case.

MCWC and its 2000 members have funded this lengthy fight by having bake sales, raffles, and garage sales. But now they face defeat, simply because Nestlé has been able to outspend them.

Click on title above to go to our home site and give to make sure the MCWC's hard work hasn't been in vain.

Your entire contribution will go to the MCWC, and Food & Water Watch will update you on the outcome of this extremely important matter.

Thank you for your support.

Wenonah Hauter
Executive Director
Food & Water Watch

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Update Iran: Protest Gains Support as Ruler Gives Warning & Makes a (small) Concession

Iran – Khamenei throws the gauntlet, the workers start to

By Jorge Martín Saturday, 20 June 2009

As reports are coming in about clashes between protesters and police in
Tehran, it is clear that the movement against the fraud has reached a
critical point. Khamenei’s speech yesterday threw down the gauntlet to the
movement and threatened repercussions for continued protests but the
organised working class are now joining the struggle against the regime.

In his sermon on Friday prayers at the Teheran University Mosque, Iran's
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threw all his authority behind
Ahmadinejad and issued a strong warning against those protesting electoral
fraud. He rejected any claims of vote rigging and declared Ahmadinejad's
“definitive victory”. He also accused the West of meddling in Iranian
affairs. His sermon had two clear messages. One, the Islamic Republic cannot
be questioned. He said that “The dispute is not between groups within the
Islamic establishment and outside the Islamic establishment. This is not a
dispute between those for and against the revolution. This dispute is
between elements within the framework of the Islamic establishment. And the
people who voted for the four candidates did so by depending and trusting in
the Islamic establishment.” This was clearly a response to the fact that the
mass protests of the last week have started to question not only the
validity of the elections, but the system itself and this is very worrying.
The fact that Khamenei, who usually refrains from participating directly in
politics and moves the strings from behind the scenes, has come out in such
strong terms is a measure of how worried the ruling class is of the
challenge that the mass movement poses to the very existence of the Islamic

The second message was a strong warning against further mobilisations. “It
is wrong for some people to assume that by taking to the streets, they can
pressure the Islamic establishment, and pressure the officials into forced
compromise. It is a mistake to make such an assumption.” And he backed this
with a threat:

“Street challenges are not acceptable after the election. I want everybody
on all sides to put an end to this method. If they don't, the consequences
and the riots should be shouldered by those who don't put an end to it… If
there are any consequences, it will directly affect the leaders behind the

Not only demonstrations are not allowed, but there will be riots if they
continue, and by talking of the leaders behind the scenes, he was probably
referring to Rafsanjani, as well as Mousavi. For a whole week, hundreds of
thousands and probably even millions of people have participated in what
they knew were illegal demonstrations, which had not been authorised, and
the regime was powerless to stop them. Now the state has warned that it will
not tolerate this situation any longer. It cannot, at the risk of
undermining the basis of its own power.

Khamenei's warnings were backed by further threats by the state apparatus.
Iran's Security Council (part of the Interior Ministry) sent a letter to
Mousavi making him personally responsible for what happens today, when the
opposition has called for yet another mass rally. “It is your duty not to
incite and invite the public to illegal gatherings; otherwise, you will be
responsible for its consequences.” The orders from the Security Council to
Mousavi are explicit: “It is your responsibility to prevent the public from
attending such rallies instead of making accusations against the law
enforcement”. They also repeat an accusation made by Khamenei in his speech
on Friday: the people are manipulated by foreign agents: “We believe this is
an organized network which is most probably affiliated to foreign-related
groups and deliberately disturbs the peace and security of the public.” Any
oppressive regime thinks that the movement of the people is the work of
“foreign agents” and “agitators”, not being able to admit that any genuine
mass movement of the people has its roots in social and economic conditions.
As if more than a million people could be led by a small “organised network”
of “foreign groups”!!

The Security Council letter is also very explicit on what the security
forces will do if more demonstrations are held: “Of course we have already
ordered the law enforcement forces to deal with the issue”. This is the

But, as a matter of fact even Khamenei's address contained a “carrot”, a
“concession” designed to offer Mousavi a way out, that of pursuing his
allegations by legal means. On Saturday, Iran's Guardian Council made the
offer more concrete: “Although the Guardian Council is not legally obliged
... we are ready to recount 10 percent of the (ballot) boxes randomly in the
presence of representatives of the candidates”. Both Mousavi and Karroubi,
the two “reformist” candidates, boycotted the meeting of Guardian's Council,
to which they had been invited, and only “conservative” candidate Rezaei
attended. Rezaei alleged that he had really received between 2.5 and 7
million votes, instead of the 680,000 of the official results.

The problem is that a promise of a partial recount is too little too late
for the mass movement, which in any case is not under the control of Mousavi
at all. In fact, many of the demonstrations last week have followed this
pattern: a demonstration is announced by someone close to Mousavi, then it
is called off, but as the masses gather anyway, Mousavi makes sure he is
present and seen by the crowds in order not to lose his “leadership” of the

Already Tehran is full of rumours of the mass rally this afternoon having
been called off. The “reformist” Combatant Clerics Assembly, led by Khatami,
has announced that since no official permission has been granted, “there
will be no rally” today. But even if Mousavi himself announced the calling
off of the protest, it is likely to go ahead anyway and he would risk losing
control of the movement altogether. "Often these protests can take on a life
of their own and if the leaders call off the protest that does not mean the
people will not come out on the streets and their will not be a resulting
crackdown," said Reva Bhalla, an analyst with Stratfor, a global
intelligence firm.

Today is therefore a crucial day in the movement. It is clear that the state
cannot allow the demonstration to go ahead and they will use all forces at
their disposal to do so. Any revolution reaches a point where the masses are
no longer afraid of repression and when repression might back fire and
escalate the movement. This might be it. There have already been indications
in the last week of protests that sections of the police were sympathetic to
the protesters. It is likely that more reliable forces will be used against
today’s march.

In a crucial development, over the last few hours we have witnessed the
beginning of the entry of the working class into the mass movement as a
clear force with its own identity. On Thursday 18, the Vahed Syndicate of
Bus Drivers issued a statement in support of the mass movement. This is
significant since this is one of the most militant sections of the Iranian
working class, having carried out a protracted struggle for the recognition
of their trade union organisation despite brutal repression on the part of
the Islamic Republic. The Vahed Syndicate had correctly stated before the
elections that none of the candidates support the interests of the workers
of Iran, but now, also correctly recognises “the magnificent demonstration
of millions of people from all ages, genders, and national and religious
minorities in Iran” and states clearly that “the Syndicate of Workers of
Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company fully supports this movement of Iranian
people to build a free and independent civil society and condemns any
violence and oppression.” (The Field: Iran Bus Workers Join the

But even more important is the action taken by workers at the massive Khodro
car factory. The workers at this car company, the largest in the Middle East
with nearly 100,000 workers, 30,000 of them in one single plant, have
already taken strike action on Thur, 18, in support of the revolutionary
movement of the people. In a short statement that we reproduce in full they

“We declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran.

“Autoworker, Fellow Laborers (Laborer Friends): What we witness today, is an
insult to the intelligence of the people, and disregard for their votes, the
trampling of the principles of the Constitution by the government. It is our
duty to join this people's movement.

“We the workers of Iran Khodro, Thursday 28/3/88 in each working shift will
stop working for half an hour to protest the suppression of students,
workers, women, and the Constitution and declare our solidarity with the
movement of the people of Iran. The morning and afternoon shifts from 10 to
10:30. The night shift from 3 to 3:30.

“*Laborers of Iran Khodro*” (The Field: Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work
Slowdown to Protest the

These two statements and the strike action of Khodro workers are indeed
extremely significant. These are two of the most advanced sections of the
Iranian working class, at the vanguard of the new emerging trade union
movement. They are expressing the thoughts of millions of other workers who
have not yet put them in formal statements. As Alan Woods explained on

“The working class has a power that can paralyze society and the state.
Without its permission, not a light bulb shines, not a wheel turns, not a
telephone rings. We refer to the general strike. The idea of a general
strike has been raised but it has not been carried out. This is the key
question!” (Iran: how can the movement go

The strike of the Khodro workers could be the beginning of a strike wave. In
1979 it was the strike of the oil workers which finally brought down the
Shah. It is the duty of revolutionary Marxists to give full support to this
movement and particularly to its most advanced layers, the organised working


June 20
Home » Middle
» Iran

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

OSI Now Hiring / Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator
Office of The Regional Director for Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and the Baltics
OSI-New York

Application Deadline: August 31, 2009

The Open Society, a George Soros Foundation, ( an Institute that works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of marginalized people and communities.

Investor and philanthropist George Soros in 1993 created OSI as a private operating and grantmaking foundation to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSI has expanded the activities of the Soros foundations network to encompass the United States and more than 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Each Soros foundation relies on the expertise of boards composed of eminent citizens who determine individual agendas based on local priorities.

The Office of the Regional Director works to advance OSI's grantmaking in the Russian Federation, and to oversee and liaise with national foundations in Central and Eastern Europe. We solicit and evaluate proposals from NGOs across Russia and outside, and closely monitor the social, political and economic environment in the region. Our areas of focus are human rights, civil society, rule of law and access to information.

This position will report directly to the Regional Director.

Work with applicants to develop and finalize grant proposals.
Draft/edit correspondence and memoranda, letters to grant applicants, grant documentation and dockets;
Monitor grants through review of narrative and financial reports and other communication with grantees;
Liaise with relevant OSI departments and programs to ensure that the program's grantmaking activities are conducted in a seamless and timely manner;
Liaise with national foundations and through country visits; perform site visits of prospective and current grantees;
Liaise with program consultants and area specialists to identify opportunities for new projects or prospective grantees;
Assist in developing grantmaking strategy, priorities, and guidelines;
Translate from Russian to English and English to Russian on as-needed basis; Monitor Russian-language websites and disseminate relevant articles to program staff;
Provide general administrative support to the program.
BA required; background in international affairs, human rights, and/or civil society helpful;
3+ years of work experience in NGO program management; experience working in the former Soviet Union a plus;
Excellent written and oral English, excellent Russian reading ability;
Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously and independently on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
Attentiveness to detail and ability to work well under pressure;
Ability to travel internationally when required.
Start Date
As soon as possible

Commensurate with experience and ability. Excellent benefit package.

To Apply
Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements before August 31, 2009, to: Include job code in subject line: PC/Russia


Open Society Institute
Human Resources - Code PC/Russia
400 West 59th Street
New York, New York 10019

FAX: 212.548.4675

No phone calls, please. The Open Society Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Click on title above to go to OSI's website;