Keep Our NHS Public Rally 01/11/2006

October 28th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Playing at Politics

October 27th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Gotta practice before I take on the world for real…

Labels: Odds and Sods, Politix

Copyright Row That Cost Ethiopia £47m

October 27th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Starbucks, the giant US coffee chain, has used its muscle to block an attempt by Ethiopia’s farmers to copyright their most famous coffee bean types, denying them potential earnings of up to £47m a year, said Oxfam.

The development agency said the Ethiopian government last year filed copyright applications to trademark its most famous coffee names – Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable the impoverished African country to control their use in the market and allow farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price.

The move would have increased its annual export earnings from coffee by 25%.

But Oxfam said Starbucks, which enjoyed a 22% rise in annual global turnover to £7.8bn in the year to October, has acted to block Ethiopia’s application to the US patent and trademark office. The USPTO has denied Ethiopia’s applications for Sidamo and Harar, creating serious obstacles for its project.

Here comes some maths…

“We (Oromia coffee farmers cooperative union in Ethiopia) sell organic coffee for less than £1 a pound but that pound can make 52 specials in coffee shops selling for £2 each, meaning the retailer is selling it for £104. The people who are producing this in Ethiopia don’t have enough food, clean water or health centres.

“Farmers are losing out while others in the chain are making huge amounts of money. That is hugely unfair.”

Full article

Labels: Capitalism

World silent as fascists join Israel government

October 25th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

In a frightening but long expected move, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has brought the Yisrael Beitenu party into his coalition government. The party’s leader, Avigdor Lieberman, is to be vice prime minister and, as “Minister for Strategic Threats,” a key member of Israel’s “security cabinet” in charge of the Iran portfolio.

Yisrael Beitenu is a dangerous extremist party with fascist tendencies that has openly advocated the “transfer” of Palestinians, including the transfer of Arab towns within Israel to a Bantustan-like future Palestinian entity. It has made clear that a Jewish supremacist state is more important than a democratic one. The party, whose strongest base is among Russian immigrants brought to Israel in the 1990s, surged at the Israeli election earlier this year, taking eleven seats in Israel’s 120 seat Knesset.

Last summer, Israel launched a disastrous war of destruction against Lebanon, and continues its siege and onslaught against Palestinians in the occupied territories which has killed nearly three hundred people in three months and left hundreds of thousands without sufficient food, water and electricity. Lieberman has advocated even more harsh and criminal measures against the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors.

It is dismaying that the European Union, a key international actor, seems set to maintain warm, normal relations with this extremist government, thus giving it encouragement and legitimacy.

This bit, it’s a good ‘un:

“You will understand that we cannot interfere with the setting up of a foreign government. This is a matter for which the concerned State alone is responsible,” wrote Cristina Gallach, the official spokesperson for Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for foreign policy, in an email responding to a query about whether the EU would impose sanctions on Israel if Yisrael Beitenu joined the government.

Nearly laughed my nuts off, I did.

Labels: Israel, Palestine

Gaza: Mystery Injuries After Israeli Attack

October 18th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

I thought the Israel would be interested in the Silent Guardian, but it looks like they have something even more effective:

Doctors in Gaza have reported previously unseen injuries from Israeli weapons that cause severe burning and leave deep internal wounds, often resulting in amputations or death.
The injuries were first seen in July, when Israel launched operations in Gaza following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.

Doctors said that, unlike traditional combat injuries, there was no large shrapnel found in the bodies and there appeared to be a “dusting” on damaged internal organs.

“Bodies arrived severely fragmented, melted and disfigured,” said Jumaa Saqa’a, a doctor at the Shifa hospital, in Gaza City. “We found internal burning of organs, while externally there were minute pieces of shrapnel. When we opened many of the injured people we found dusting on their internal organs.”
It is not clear whether the injuries come from a new weapon. The Israeli military declined to detail the weapons in its arsenal, but denied reports that the injuries came from a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (Dime), an experimental weapon.

In Gaza, Dr Saqa’a said the small pieces of shrapnel found in patients’ bodies did not show up under x-ray. “We are used to seeing shrapnel penetrate the body making localised damage. Now we didn’t see shrapnel, but we found the destruction,” he said.

Most of the injuries were around the abdomen, he said. The doctors also found that patients who were stabilised after one or two days suddenly died. “The patient dies without any apparent scientific cause,” he said.

In the interests of being unbiased, here’s the other side (my emphasis):

Isaac Ben-Israel, a professor at Tel Aviv University and a retired Israel air force general who was involved in weapons development, had seen some of the photographs of the dead and injured and said he believed that the wounds came from ordinary explosives. “I can tell you surely that no one in Israel ever developed such a Dime weapon. It doesn’t exist at all,” he said.

…not developed, but used…?

Full article here.

Labels: , , Palestine, Weapons

Daily Commute

October 17th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Labels: Israel, Palestine

David ‘Itchy Finger’ Blunkett

October 17th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

And I thought the Americans were trigger happy:

Guns: The Times Online

Labels: ,

Air passengers ‘could be tagged’

October 15th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Which reason was thought of first and which was the afterthought?

But potentially, said Dr Brennan, the tags could aid security by allowing airports to track the movement patterns of passengers deemed to be suspicious and prevent them from entering restricted areas.

It could also aid airports by helping evacuation in case of a fire, rapidly locating children, and finding passengers who are late to arrive at the gate.

Labels: War On Terror

Clouded Judgement In Oxford

October 13th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink


Part of Israel’s Racism

October 11th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

The Telegraph, 24/09/06:

Israel has been accused of “blatant racism” by Arabs in the north of the country, who are being paid less compensation following the war in Lebanon than their Jewish neighbours.

The Israeli finance ministry has begun giving handouts to thousands of business owners near the border with Lebanon whose incomes were hit by the 34-day war against Hizbollah.

It has designated a “frontline” zone, up to six miles from the border, within which the owners are to be fully compensated for their losses during the hostilities.

But four villages, whose residents are Arab Israeli, have been excluded from the zone, despite their proximity to Lebanon. Samuel Dakwar, a lawyer who is acting for some of the affected Arab businesses, said: “This is racism. I tried to find other reasons, besides discrimination against Arabs, that could cause a rational being like the finance minister to make such a miserable and irrational decision. I could not find them.

Electronic Intifada, 11/10/06:

The Arab-Israeli minority rights group Adalah has submitted a legal claim on behalf of the four Arab villages, demanding the government change its stand on giving them only partial, not full, compensation.

“The Hezbollah missiles didn’t distinguish between Arabs and Jews, so there’s no reason for the compensation to do so,” said Adalah lawyer, Sawsan Zaher.

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