Everything you need to know that the media is not telling you...
Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio - and winner of the 2012 Liberty Inspiration Award - breaks down the unspoken facts about the end of freedom, opportunity and trade in the modern United States. There will be no economic recovery, prepare yourself accordingly.
A €10 billion bailout required a 9.9% tax on anyone with deposits greater than €100,000, and 6.75% on those less than €100,000. Savers who lost money would be compensated by shares in commercial banks, with equity returns guaranteed by future revenues expected from natural gas discoveries. The president was elected weeks ago partly because he ruled out any kind of wealth tax.
According to one report, the IMF and EU were originally demanding a 40% wealth tax on bank account holders in Cyprus. What is so wrong with Cyprus? Unemployment is half that of Greece and Spain, debt to GDP is 87%, US has a debt to GDP of well over 100%. This is economic imperialism, a fundamental breach of property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers.
The European Central Bank has no money, it's exchanging paper for assets. Cypriot banks got into trouble after using €4.5 billion on they greet government bond holdings after Euro zone leaders decided to write down Greece's debt last year.
The Cypriot president said if he hadn't accepted the tax on bank deposits, the European Central Bank would have stopped providing emergency funds to the country's top two lenders which would have led to the collapse of the banking system, the bankruptcy of thousands of small businesses, massive job losses, and ultimately the country's exit from the euro.
Cenk Uygur sits down with Peter Joseph, founder of the Zeitgeist movement and creator of Zeitgeist, The Movie. The Zeitgeist movement's goal is to create global sustainability by changing established social systems. Can people save the world by changing socially? Is the market economy responsible for corruption, and is it serving its original purpose? Does the market economy leave room for true freewill, and is it truly possible to shed ourselves of material goods? Is Wall Street and its influence creating a sickness among mankind?
Cenk Uygur talks to Peter Joseph in-depth about the Zeitgeist movement, answering questions including how it would work, if it could work, and why the current social structure needs it to work.
During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally. He polarized Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, announced the death in a national television broadcast. He said Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time.
Chavez repeatedly proved himself a political survivor. As an army paratroop commander, he led a failed coup in 1992, then was pardoned and elected president in 1998. He survived a coup against his own presidency in 2002 and won re-election two more times.
The burly president electrified crowds with his booming voice, often wearing the bright red of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela or the fatigues and red beret of his army days. Before his struggle with cancer, he appeared on television almost daily, talking for hours at a time and often breaking into song of philosophical discourse.
Chavez used his country's vast oil wealth to launch social programs that include state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programs. Poverty declined during Chavez's presidency amid a historic boom in oil earnings, but critics said he failed to use the windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the country's economy.
Inflation soared and the homicide rate rose to among the highest in the world.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June 2011 to remove what he said was a baseball-size tumor from his pelvic region, and the cancer returned repeatedly over the next 18 months despite more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He kept secret key details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors.
"El Comandante," as he was known, stayed in touch with the Venezuelan people during his treatment via Twitter and phone calls broadcast on television, but even those messages dropped off as his health deteriorated.
Two months after his last re-election in October, Chavez returned to Cuba again for cancer surgery, blowing a kiss to his country as he boarded the plane. He was never seen again in public.
After a 10-week absence marked by opposition protests over the lack of information about the president's health and growing unease among the president's "Chavista" supporters, the government released photographs of Chavez on Feb. 15 and three days later announced that the president had returned to Venezuela to be treated at a military hospital in Caracas.
Throughout his presidency, Chavez said he hoped to fulfill Bolivar's unrealized dream of uniting South America.
He was also inspired by Cuban leader Fidel Castro and took on the aging revolutionary's role as Washington's chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere after Castro relinquished the presidency to his brother Raul in 2006.
Supporters saw Chavez as the latest in a colorful line of revolutionary legends, from Castro to Argentine-born Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Chavez nurtured that cult of personality, and even as he stayed out of sight for long stretches fighting cancer, his out-sized image appeared on buildings and billboard throughout Venezuela. The airwaves boomed with his baritone mantra: "I am a nation." Supporters carried posters and wore masks of his eyes, chanting, "I am Chavez."
Chavez saw himself as a revolutionary and savior of the poor.
"A revolution has arrived here," he declared in a 2009 speech. "No one can stop this revolution."
Chavez's social programs won him enduring support: Poverty rates declined from 50 percent at the beginning of his term in 1999 to 32 percent in the second half of 2011. But he also charmed his audience with sheer charisma and a flair for drama that played well for the cameras.
He ordered the sword of South American independence leader Simon Bolivar removed from Argentina's Central Bank to unsheathe at key moments. On television, he would lambast his opponents as "oligarchs," announce expropriations of companies and lecture Venezuelans about the glories of socialism. His performances included renditions of folk songs and impromptu odes to Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong and 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Chavez carried his in-your-face style to the world stage as well. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after Bush's address.
Critics saw Chavez as a typical Latin American caudillo, a strongman who ruled through force of personality and showed disdain for democratic rules. Chavez concentrated power in his hands with allies who dominated the congress and justices who controlled the Supreme Court.
He insisted all the while that Venezuela remained a vibrant democracy and denied trying to restrict free speech. But some opponents faced criminal charges and were driven into exile.
While Chavez trumpeted plans for communes and an egalitarian society, his soaring rhetoric regularly conflicted with reality. Despite government seizures of companies and farmland, the balance between Venezuela's public and private sectors changed little during his presidency.
And even as the poor saw their incomes rise, those gains were blunted while the country's currency weakened amid economic controls.
Nonetheless, Chavez maintained a core of supporters who stayed loyal to their "comandante" until the end.
"Chavez masterfully exploits the disenchantment of people who feel excluded ... and he feeds on controversy whenever he can," Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka wrote in their book "Hugo Chavez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President."
Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was born on July 28, 1954, in the rural town of Sabaneta in Venezuela's western plains. He was the son of schoolteacher parents and the second of six brothers.
Chavez was a fine baseball player and hoped he might one day pitch in the U.S. major leagues. When he joined the military at age 17, he aimed to keep honing his baseball skills in the capital.
But the young soldier immersed himself in the history of Bolivar and other Venezuelan heroes who had overthrown Spanish rule, and his political ideas began to take shape.
Chavez burst into public view in 1992 as a paratroop commander leading a military rebellion that brought tanks to the presidential palace. When the coup collapsed, Chavez was allowed to make a televised statement in which he declared that his movement had failed "for now." The speech, and those two defiant words, launched his career, searing his image into the memory of Venezuelans.
He and other coup prisoners were released in 1994, and President Rafael Caldera dropped the charges against them.
Chavez then organized a new political party and ran for president four years later, vowing to shatter Venezuela's traditional two-party system. At age 44, he became the country's youngest president in four decades of democracy with 56 percent of the vote.
Chavez was re-elected in 2000 in an election called under a new constitution drafted by his allies. His increasingly confrontational style and close ties to Cuba, however, disenchanted many of the middle-class supporters who had voted for him. The next several years saw bold but failed attempts by opponents to dislodge him from power.
In 2002, he survived a short-lived coup, which began after a large anti-Chavez street protest ended in deadly shootings. Dissident military officers detained the president and announced he had resigned. But within two days, he returned to power with the help of military loyalists while his supporters rallied in the streets.
Chavez emerged a stronger president. He defeated a subsequent opposition-led strike that paralyzed the country's oil industry, and he fired thousands of state oil company employees.
The coup also turned Chavez more decidedly against the U.S. government, which had swiftly recognized the provisional leader who had briefly replaced him. He created political and trade alliances that excluded the U.S., and he cozied up to Iran and Syria in large part, it seemed, due to their shared antagonism toward the U.S. government.
Despite the souring relationship, Chavez sold the bulk of Venezuela's oil to the United States.
He easily won re-election in 2006, and then said it was his destiny to lead Venezuela until 2021 or even 2031.
"I'm still a subversive," Chavez said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. "I think the entire world has to be subverted."
Playing such a larger-than-life public figure ultimately left little time for a personal life.
His second marriage, to journalist Marisabel Rodriguez, deteriorated in the early years of his presidency, and they divorced in 2004. In addition to their one daughter, Rosines, Chavez had three children from his first marriage, which ended before Chavez ran for office.
Chavez acknowledged after he was diagnosed with cancer that he had been recklessly neglecting his health. He had taken to staying up late and drinking as many as 40 cups of coffee a day. He regularly summoned his Cabinet ministers to the presidential palace late at night.
He often said he believed Venezuela was on its way down a long road toward socialism, and that there was no turning back. After winning re-election in 2012, he vowed to deepen his push to transform Venezuela.
His political movement, however, was mostly a one-man show. Only three days before his final surgery, Chavez named Maduro as his chosen successor.
Now, it will be up to Venezuelans to determine whether the Chavismo movement can survive, and how it will evolve, without the leader who inspired it.
I used to be able to justify using Facebook as a cost of doing business. As a writer and sometime activist who needs to promote my books and articles and occasionally rally people to one cause or another, I found Facebook fast and convenient. Though I never really used it to socialize, I figured it was OK to let other people do that, and I benefited from their behavior.
I can no longer justify this arrangement.
Today, I am surrendering my Facebook account, because my participation on the site is simply too inconsistent with the values I espouse in my work. In my upcoming book "Present Shock," I chronicle some of what happens when we can no longer manage our many online presences. I have always argued for engaging with technology as conscious human beings and dispensing with technologies that take that agency away.
Facebook is just such a technology. It does things on our behalf when we're not even there. It actively misrepresents us to our friends, and worse misrepresents those who have befriended us to still others. To enable this dysfunctional situation -- I call it "digiphrenia" -- would be at the very least hypocritical. But to participate on Facebook as an author, in a way specifically intended to draw out the "likes" and resulting vulnerability of others, is untenable.
Facebook has never been merely a social platform. Rather, it exploits our social interactions the way a Tupperware party does.
Facebook does not exist to help us make friends, but to turn our network of connections, brand preferences and activities over time -- our "social graphs" -- into money for others.
We Facebook users have been building a treasure lode of big data that government and corporate researchers have been mining to predict and influence what we buy and for whom we vote. We have been handing over to them vast quantities of information about ourselves and our friends, loved ones and acquaintances. With this information, Facebook and the "big data" research firms purchasing their data predict still more things about us -- from our future product purchases or sexual orientation to our likelihood for civil disobedience or even terrorism.
The true end users of Facebook are the marketers who want to reach and influence us. They are Facebook's paying customers; we are the product. And we are its workers. The countless hours that we -- and the young, particularly -- spend on our profiles are the unpaid labor on which Facebook justifies its stock valuation.
The efforts of a few thousand employees at Facebook's Menlo Park campus pale in comparison to those of the hundreds of millions of users meticulously tweaking their pages. Corporations used to have to do research to assemble our consumer profiles; now we do it for them.
The information collected about you by Facebook through my Facebook page isn't even shared with me. Thanks to my page, Facebook knows the demographics of my readership, their e-mails, what else they like, who else they know and, perhaps most significant, who they trust. And Facebook is taking pains not to share any of this, going so far as to limit the ability of third-party applications to utilize any of this data.
Given that this was the foundation for Facebook's business plan from the start, perhaps more recent developments in the company's ever-evolving user agreement shouldn't have been so disheartening.
Still, we bridle at the notion that any of our updates might be converted into "sponsored stories" by whatever business or brand we may have mentioned. That innocent mention of cup of coffee at Starbucks, in the Facebook universe, quickly becomes an attributed endorsement of their brand. Remember, the only way to connect with something or someone is to "like" them. This means if you want to find out what a politician or company you don't like is up to, you still have to endorse them publicly.
More recently, users -- particularly those with larger sets of friends, followers and likes -- learned that their updates were no longer reaching all of the people who had signed up to get them. Now, we are supposed to pay to "promote" our posts to our friends and, if we pay even more, to their friends.
Yes, Facebook is entitled to be paid for promoting us and our interests -- but this wasn't the deal going in, particularly not for companies who paid Facebook for extra followers in the first place. Neither should users who "friend" my page automatically become the passive conduits for any of my messages to all their friends just because I paid for it.
That brings me to Facebook's most recent shift, and the one that pushed me over the edge.
Through a new variation of the Sponsored Stories feature called Related Posts, users who "like" something can be unwittingly associated with pretty much anything an advertiser pays for. Like e-mail spam with a spoofed identity, the Related Post shows up in a newsfeed right under the user's name and picture. If you like me, you can be shown implicitly recommending me or something I like -- something you've never heard of -- to others without your consent.
For now, as long as I don't like anything myself, I have some measure of control over what those who follow me receive in my name or, worse, are made to appear to be endorsing, themselves. But I feel that control slipping away, and cannot remain part of a system where liking me or my work can be used against you.
The promotional leverage that Facebook affords me is not worth the price. Besides, how can I ask you to like me, when I myself must refuse to like you or anything else?
I have always appreciated that agreeing to become publicly linked to me and my work online involves trust. It is a trust I value, but -- as it is dependent on the good graces of Facebook -- it is a trust I can live up to only by unfriending this particularly anti-social social network.
Maybe in doing so I'll help people remember that Facebook is not the Internet. It's just one website, and it comes with a price.
Source: cnn.com - Author: Douglas Rushkoff writes a regular column for CNN.com. He is a media theorist and the author of the upcoming book "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now."
Campaigner and film maker Tony Rooke claimed a moral victory after a UK court gave him a conditional discharge even though he has refused to pay his BBC license fee. Over 100 supporters from as far away as Denmark and Norway cheered in front of the court house as independent media people conducted interviews and photographed the crowd. Court officials had booked their largest room for the case but were at a loss to find that well over 50 people could not be fitted in.
Tony said: "I am taken a back and hugely grateful for all the support." He is asking for at least one person to take up the campaign by refusing to pay or taking other legal action (see below).
Rooke argued that the BBC's coverage of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York has been so distorted that it amounts to giving aid and comfort to the unidentified terrorists who demolished three World Trade Centre buildings in 2001. Two hijacked planes were flown into the famous Twin Towers and a third tower WTC7 collapsed later in the day. The attacks were used as the pretext for a decade of wars and the introduction of police state measures across the NATO countries. Vast personal fortunes were made by White House and CIA officials who failed to thwart 9/11.
The official 9/11 story was promulgated by the US media within minutes of the first collision, based on anonymous sources in the Bush White House. Despite a mass of new evidence coming to light in the intervening years the story has never changed and holds that the destruction was entirely caused by a band of Muslim fanatics, they succeeded without any help, and were organised by the notorious Osama Bin Laden who it is admitted was once a CIA agent. A man described as Osama Bin Laden was captured, assassinated and deposited in the ocean by US forces in Pakistan two years ago.
Sceptics say that the collapse of WTC7 must have been the result of something more than limited fires and damage from the Twin Towers, hit by the two hijacked planes. Argument has revolved around the speed of the collapse. In the BBC Conspiracy Files series, which endorsed every aspect of the official 9/11 story, it was stated that the building did not collapse at free fall speed, but later US officials were forced by video evidence to admit that it did just that.
A large group of over 1500 architects and engineers known as AE911 say that free fall collapse implies that the building had all its supports removed at the same instant which can only happen with a controlled demolition. Tony Rooke's legal argument is that in failing to correct their free fall misinformation and many other misstatements of fact, the BBC are a party to covering up the terrorists who organised the controlled demolition of WTC7.
The BBC has also failed to publicise the finding of Richard Clarke, head of counter terrorism at the White House in 2001. Two years ago Clarke made a bombshell announcement: in the weeks before 9/11 a secret "decision" must have been taken at the CIA to over rule FBI officers who wanted to arrest some of the people who according to the official story went on to commit the attacks. Clarke says that if this decision had not been made the 9/11 attacks would not have happened. Before Clarke went public the BBC programme makers were adamant this was a "conspiracy theory". Afterwards they failed to give it any prominence and failed to reinterview any of the officials who, if Clarke is right, must have lied to them.
Back in Horsham Magistrates Court campaigners have been planning future tactics. Tony Rook's victory, helped by lawyer Mahtab Aziz, implies that the BBC has a case to answer, but expert witnesses including Danish associate professor Niels Harrit were not called due to legal technicalities. However the District Judge would have read their statements before the hearing and taken them into account.
Conditional discharges are often used in political cases to indicate that the accused, though technically guilty, occupies the moral high ground. In addition the case provides a yardstick that can be raised by future campaigners. On the other hand because he has not been convicted, Tony cannot appeal and force the courts to scrutinise the highly questionable activities of the BBC as a conduit for CIA propaganda.
It's now essential for Tony's campaign that at least one person should take up the baton, refuse to pay their licence fee and appeal any conviction. Anyone interested should contact him at
Christine Assange confirmed her son's candidacy on Wednesday after WikiLeaks tweeted the news. "He will be awesome," she said.
"In the House of Representatives we get to choose between US lackey party number one and US lackey party number two - between the major parties.
"So it will be great to 'Assange" the Senate for some Aussie oversight."
Queensland-born Assange, who founded the secret-leaking website WikiLeaks, announced his Senate ambition last December from Ecuador's London embassy.
He sought refuge there last June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Mr Assange fears if he goes to Sweden to be questioned over rape allegations, authorities will allow him to be extradited to the US to be questioned over WikiLeaks' release of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
He said last year he would run as a Senate candidate under a yet-to-be-formed WikiLeaks party banner and was recruiting others to stand with him.
Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall.
But these office blocks in one of London's most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.
Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.
Since then the international value of Mussolini's nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds Ł500m. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent Ł15m of those funds to buy 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.
The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions. The St James's Square office block was bought by a company called British Grolux Investments Ltd, which also holds the other UK properties. Published registers at Companies House do not disclose the company's true ownership, nor make any mention of the Vatican.
Instead, they list two nominee shareholders, both prominent Catholic bankers: John Varley, recently chief executive of Barclays Bank, and Robin Herbert, formerly of the Leopold Joseph merchant bank. Letters were sent from the Guardian to each of them asking whom they act for. They went unanswered. British company law allows the true beneficial ownership of companies to be concealed behind nominees in this way.
The company secretary, John Jenkins, a Reading accountant, was equally uninformative. He told us the firm was owned by a trust but refused to identify it on grounds of confidentiality. He told us after taking instructions: "I confirm that I am not authorised by my client to provide any information."
Research in old archives, however, reveals more of the truth. Companies House files disclose that British Grolux Investments inherited its entire property portfolio after a reorganisation in 1999 from two predecessor companies called British Grolux Ltd and Cheylesmore Estates. The shares of those firms were in turn held by a company based at the address of the JP Morgan bank in New York. Ultimate control is recorded as being exercised by a Swiss company, Profima SA.
British wartime records from the National Archives in Kew complete the picture. They confirm Profima SA as the Vatican's own holding company, accused at the time of "engaging in activities contrary to Allied interests". Files from officials at Britain's Ministry of Economic Warfare at the end of the war criticised the pope's financier, Bernardino Nogara, who controlled the investment of more than Ł50m cash from the Mussolini windfall.
Nogara's "shady activities" were detailed in intercepted 1945 cable traffic from the Vatican to a contact in Geneva, according to the British, who discussed whether to blacklist Profima as a result. "Nogara, a Roman lawyer, is the Vatican financial agent and Profima SA in Lausanne is the Swiss holding company for certain Vatican interests." They believed Nogara was trying to transfer shares of two Vatican-owned French property firms to the Swiss company, to prevent the French government blacklisting them as enemy assets.
Earlier in the war, in 1943, the British accused Nogara of similar "dirty work", by shifting Italian bank shares into Profima's hands in order to "whitewash" them and present the bank as being controlled by Swiss neutrals. This was described as "manipulation" of Vatican finances to serve "extraneous political ends".
The Mussolini money was dramatically important to the Vatican's finances. John Pollard, a Cambridge historian, says in Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: "The papacy was now financially secure. It would never be poor again."
From the outset, Nogara was innovative in investing the cash. In 1931 records show he founded an offshore company in Luxembourg to hold the continental European property assets he was buying. It was called Groupement Financier Luxembourgeois, hence Grolux. Luxembourg was one of the first countries to set up tax-haven company structures in 1929. The UK end, called British Grolux, was incorporated the following year.
When war broke out, with the prospect of a German invasion, the Luxembourg operation and ostensible control of the British Grolux operation were moved to the US and to neutral Switzerland.
The Mussolini investments in Britain are currently controlled, along with its other European holdings and a currency trading arm, by a papal official in Rome, Paolo Mennini, who is in effect the pope's merchant banker. Mennini heads a special unit inside the Vatican called the extraordinary division of APSA – Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica – which handles the so-called "patrimony of the Holy See".
According to a report last year from the Council of Europe, which surveyed the Vatican's financial controls, the assets of Mennini's special unit now exceed €680m (Ł570m).
While secrecy about the Fascist origins of the papacy's wealth might have been understandable in wartime, what is less clear is why the Vatican subsequently continued to maintain secrecy about its holdings in Britain, even after its financial structure was reorganised in 1999.
The Guardian asked the Vatican's representative in London, the papal nuncio, archbishop Antonio Mennini, why the papacy continued with such secrecy over the identity of its property investments in London. We also asked what the pope spent the income on. True to its tradition of silence on the subject, the Roman Catholic church's spokesman said that the nuncio had no comment.
Authors: David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou - Source: guardian.co.uk
The world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds has been selling genetically modified (GM) in India for the last decade to benefit the Indian farmers – or so the company claims.
In a country of more than 550 million farmers who are largely poor and uneducated and the agriculture market rife with inefficient business practices, the Indian government sought to reform the market by eliminating subsidies and loans to the farmers.
The government reform did not help the farmers. With pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indian government has “forced market liberalization on India which means the elimination of government subsidies and government-backed loans to farmers.”
Enter Monsanto with its “magic” GM seeds to transform the lives of the poor Indian farmers.
The U.S. agri-business giant took full advantage of its entry into the Indian market. It entered into an agreement with state governments including Rajasthan and Andhara Pradesh to introduce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that dictated the terms of disseminating the GM technology in Indian market.
For Monsanto, it is one thing to convince farmers to use artificial seeds for the purposes of enriching their lives, it is quite another to manipulate nature and technology to profit from them.
The irony is GM seeds have not been effective in India and the consequences are not as rosy as what Monsanto had promised to deliver. Scathing reports of mass suicides of Indian farmers broke out as recently as three years ago when scores of farmers took their own lives in order to escape the burden of high prices and failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds.
Monsanto offered its GM seeds to the farmers of India with hopes of reaping plentiful crops. Plain and mostly uneducated farmers thought Monsanto had come to provide a “magic” formula that would transform their lives. They had no idea what was coming.
Monsanto’s seeds in India did not produce what the company had promised and farmers hoped. The expensive seeds piled up debts and destroyed farming fields. In many instances, the crops simply failed to materialize. The farmers were not aware that the GM seeds required more water than the traditional seeds. And lack of rain in many parts of India exacerbated the crop failure.
With no harvest, the farmers could not pay back the lenders. Burdened with debts and humiliation, the farmers simply took their own lives, some by swallowing poisonous pesticides in front of their families. To date, an estimated 200,000 farmers have committed suicide all over India.
To add to the misery, wives inherited the debts along with the fear of losing their homes and lands. With no money coming in, they also had to pull their kids from the schools. The mass suicide among the Indian farmers is known as the “GM genocide.”
In its company website Monsanto declares that its pledge is “our commitment to how we do business.” And then there are the business philosophies with virtuous words like “integrity” and “transparency.”
Monsanto’s business practices in India quite remarkably live up to the company’s motto. It purposefully leverages its power and influence in government to penetrate farming markets with motive but without morale.
Using its colossal market power, Monsanto craftily penetrated into the Indian markets.
Monsanto convinced the Indian government that its GM seeds would produce better crops. According to a report by Farm Wars, one former Managing Director of Monsanto claimed that Monsanto manipulated research data “to get commercial approvals for its products in India.”
Indian regulatory agencies, instead of verifying the data, simply remained compliant with the findings of what Monsanto presented. “They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked,” the Farm Wars report says.
Government regulations worked in favor of Monsanto to monopolize the Indian seed market. For example, “Prime Minsiter’s Office” in India pressured various state governments to sign MOUs with Monsanto to privatize the seed market.
Through these “vested interests” with the Indian government, Monsanto eventually has monopolized the GM seed market for more than a decade.
Unable to purchase traditional seeds, the farmers had to pay a hefty price for the expensive GM seeds. Many farmers had to borrow money from the local lenders to buy Monsanto’s seeds. To cite an example of how expensive the GM seeds are, 100 grams of GM cost $15 to the farmers compared with $15 for 1000 grams of traditional seeds.
Vandana Shiva, a renowned scientist and activist in India, wrote that Monsanto had also planned to control water in India. Its aim was to control water supply through privatization. In other words, Monsanto sought to profit from water, a lifeline of Indian livelihood. By seeking control of water, Monsanto also seized the opportunity to benefit from the scarce water supply that plagues communities throughout India.
Manipulation and Misinformation
The failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds was palpable. The farmers held onto their hopes for better crops after they had planted the “magic” seeds. Their crops never came. Throughout the villages in India the harvest from the GM seeds failed. The parasites destroyed the so-called “pest-proof” GM seeds.
Monsanto uses methods of manipulation and misinformation to reap their own benefits and profits at the cost of the farmers who rely on organic methods to grow their crops and animals, a tradition that existed in India for centuries.
By a contractual clause, the farmers could not save Monsanto’s GM seeds for reuse after the first season.
Whether or not the farmers understood this legal binding would merit an examination to underscore the extent of Monsanto’s market power and conniving business practices. Misleading and forcing farmers to buy the GM seeds through government policy and market monopoly must be purged as part of reforming the Indian agricultural market.
Action Against GM seeds
Prince Charles does not like what Monsanto is doing or causing to the lives of farmers in India. He has expressed his contempt for the “bio-tech leaders” and “politicians” who have caused suicides among Indian farmers. His charity organization promotes “long-term benefits of sustainable agriculture” that would provide “decent returns” to the farmers.
Facing pressure from the anti-GM seed activists, NGOs, and local communities, the Indian government gave in. In 2010, Indian Environment Minister issued a temporary “moratorium” on Monsanto to introduce genetically engineered egg plant seeds in India. Only time will tell how long this policy effects will last.
In a country where money, politics, and business often go hand in hand, the farmers are at the mercy of their own fate.
Source: globalresearch.ca - Author: Iqbal Ahmed; he is a public policy graduate student at George Mason University, Arlington, VA. He completed a study abroad program at Oxford University, UK in summer 2011 on European Union (EU) policies. He has written for Foreign Policy Journal, Journal of Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy in Focus, Global Politician, Eurasia Review, and NPR’s “This I believe.”
This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops, the Church Times said.
The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said on behalf of the HoB it would be "unjust" to exclude anyone for consideration for the role of bishop who was "seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline".
He said: "All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England.
"But these, along with the candidate's suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case."
BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said given the tension surrounding the issue of sexuality, the Church's decision to allow men in civil partnerships to become bishops represented a major concession and one with considerable symbolic significance.
Evangelicals have warned they would be willing to bring in bishops from overseas to avoid serving under a gay bishop.
Rod Thomas, chairman of the evangelical group Reform, said the idea of appointing people in civil partnerships as bishops had not been agreed or debated by the wider Church.
"That would be a major change in church doctrine and therefore not something that can be slipped out in the news, it is something that has got to be considered by the General Synod."
He said there would be great divisions in the church if clergy in a civil partnership were appointed as a bishop.
Worldwide, anger over the appointment of actively gay men and women as bishops, especially in the US, has actuated the conservative Gafcon movement, through which conservative Anglican provinces in Africa and elsewhere have begun to function independently of the official Anglican Communion.
Gafcon has condemned those who preach a "false gospel" which "claims God's blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony".