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Archive for April 30, 2012

A New Record is Set for Military Spending.

By Lawrence S. Wittner  April 23rd 2012.  Find Full Article Here:-

THE SHAME OF NATIONS

On April 17, 2012, as millions of Americans were filing their income tax returns, the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its latest study of world military spending. In case Americans were wondering where most of their tax money — and the tax money of other nations — went in the previous year, the answer from SIPRI was clear: to war and preparations for war.

World military spending reached a record $1,738 billion in 2011 — an increase of $138 billion over the previous year. The United States accounted for 41 percent of that, or $711 billion.

 

Categories: News of the moment

London Frieze braves backlash to fly the flag of British culture in Manhattan.

By , New York 28th April 2012.  Find Full Article Here:-

The fair faces the threat of protests by the Occupy movement against art commercialisation as it makes its first trip abroad.

Detail from Michele Abeles work

Detail from Michele Abeles’ “Red, Rock, Cigarettes, Newspaper, Body, Wood, Lycra, Bottle” (2011) at the Frieze New York 2012.

The Frieze art fair is set to plant the flag of British culture and commerce on Manhattan soil in its first overseas expansion of the brand.

But while organisers plan to shake up the cosy world of New York art fairs, and draw thousands of buyers and fans of contemporary art to a snaking, architecturally unique tent on Randall’s Island, Frieze arrives as art critics and curators detect a significant shift in art practice away from the overtly market-orientated and commercial.

At the same time Frieze is drawing the attention of the Occupy protesters. The movement, gearing up for a city-wide day of demonstration, has vowed to picket Frieze over its use of non-unionised labour, as well as stage a general protest against art as a luxury for the rich. Members of the subgroup Occupy Museums plan to protest at what it calls “the rampant financialisation of art”. Part of their objection, the group says, is that fairs such as Frieze benefit a small number of artists but not the larger arts scene. “We want to un-Frieze art,” says representative Noah Fischer.

Besides waving placards, they plan to trade art for objects in kind, even tickets for the fair itself. Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp says she’s not necessarily against the Occupyers, but senses the protest is based on false expectations.

“Over the last 10 years, the art world has tracked global economic change. In America there is a more politicised awareness of inequality between class and wealth. At the same time, more people have decided that art can be a career. They’ve seen art reality TV shows and they think they can make a career purely out of their work. That’s an unrealistic expectation so a lot more people feel disenfranchised,” she says.

The fair features 180 galleries from around the world in a tent designed by New York-based SO – IL Architects. Among attractions are a sculpture park featuring works by Cerith Wyn Evans and sound installations by Marin Creed and writer Rick Moody that VIP guests will listen to as they are ferried to the fair in cars provided by sponsor BMW.

Occupy’s positions are not far from an emerging view among New York curators and critics sounding the death knell for the era of conspicuous art consumption in which wealthy collectors were celebrated for spending money.

Nicolas Sarkozy faces renewed claim Gaddafi agreed to fund 2007 campaign.

By   29th April 2012.    Find Full Article Here:-

Investigative website publishes document it says was signed by Gaddafi’s foreign intelligence chief.

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy is running for re-election and faces a runoff vote against the Socialist François Hollande on 6 May. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a renewed claim that Muammar Gaddafi agreed to donate up to €50m to his last presidential campaign.

The investigative website Mediapart published what it called “compelling new evidence” that the Libyan regime decided to help finance Sarkozy’s successful election campaign in 2007. A document that it said was signed by Gaddafi’s foreign intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, stated that the regime had approved a payment of €50m (£40m).

Sarkozy said the document was a fabrication and a disgrace, and accused the French left of using the reports “to create a distraction”.

The letter, written in Arabic and dated December 2006, said Tripoli had agreed to “support the electoral campaign” of Sarkozy.

It said an agreement on “the amount and method of payment” had been reachedat a meeting two months earlier involving Brice Hortefeux, a close ally of Sarkozy and then minister for local government.

The, meeting on 6 October 2006,was said to have been attended by Gaddafi’s spy chief, Abdullah Senussi, the head of Tripoli’s African investment fund, Bashir Saleh, and the Franco-Lebanese arms broker and businessman Ziad Takieddine.

SEE ALSO   Find Full Article Here:-

Gaddafi put up 50M euro for Sarkozy’s presidential bid

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to fund French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign – to the tune of 50 million euro, a new report says.

The Paris-based investigative website Mediapart published “documentary evidence” that Gaddafi was ready to stump up tens of millions of dollars to help Sarkozy win the French presidential race.

Mediapart claimed Saturday that the 2006 document was provided by “former senior [Libyan] officials, who are now in hiding.”  They further claim the document came “from the archives of the secret service,” and was signed by Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief and later foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

Farmers demand the World Bank and Wall Street stop grabbing their lands.

23rd April 2012.  Find Full Article Here:-

Peasants from the Bajo Aguán valley, Honduras, which is witnessing an alarming situation of violence and repression against peasant communities. On April 17, 2012, the International Day of Peasant Struggle, Honduran peasants started massive land occupations, with about 3000 farm families occupying more than 12,000 ha in at least six departments.  (Photo: CC HondurasBlog via Flickr)

(Photo: CC HondurasBlog via Flickr)

Peasants from the Bajo Aguán valley, Honduras, which is witnessing an alarming situation of violence and repression against peasant communities. On April 17, 2012, the International Day of Peasant Struggle, Honduran peasants started massive land occupations, with about 3000 farm families occupying more than 12,000 ha in at least six departments. (Photo: CC HondurasBlog via Flickr)

The World Bank is playing a leading role in a global land grab, say farmers’ movements and their international allies.[1] The World Bank’s policies for land privatisation and concentration, have paved the way for corporations from Wall Street to Singapore to take upwards of 80 million hectares of land from rural communities across the world in the past few years, they say in a collective statement released today at the opening of the World Bank’s Conference on Land and Poverty in Washington DC.

“Rural people are losing control over land and water because of this global land grab,” says Honduran farmer leader Rafael Alegria of the international farmers’ movement La Via Campesina. “We want the land grab stopped and the lands taken to be returned to the local communities. In Honduras, we demand that the law for rural modernisation promoted by the World Bank be canceled and that a new law for agricultural transition be adopted”.

The World Bank will be meeting with government officials and private sector investors during its annual conference, where they will discuss large-scale farmland acquisitions by foreign corporations in developing countries. The World Bank will be promoting its controversial Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI).

Signed by Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, FIAN International, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, GRAIN, La Via Campesina, and the Transnational Institute – 23 April 2012

Bradley Manning: a show trial of state secrecy.

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24th April 2012.  By             Find Full Article Here:-

The US government’s suppression of all accountability and transparency in prosecuting the WikiLeaks suspect is totalitarian.

Bradley Manning arrives in Fort Meade

Bradley Manning is seen arriving for a motion hearing in the case United States v Manning at Fort Meade in Maryland. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

On 24 April, a hearing in one of the most important court martial cases in decades will take place in Fort Meade, Maryland. The accused faces life in prison for the 22 charges against him, which include “aiding the enemy” and “transmitting defense information”. His status as an alleged high-profile whistleblower and the importance of the issues his case raises should all but guarantee the proceedings a prominent spot in major media, as well as in public debate.

Yet, in spite of the grave implications, not to mention the press and public’s first amendment right of full and open access to criminal trials, no outside parties will have access to the evidence, the court documents, court orders or off-the-record arguments that will ultimately decide his fate. Under these circumstances, whatever the outcome of the case, the loser will be the transparency necessary for democratic government, accountable courts and faith in our justice system.

In the two years since his arrest for allegedly leaking the confidential files that exposed grand-scale military misconduct, potential war crimes and questionable diplomatic tactics, army private Bradley Manning has been subjected to an extremely secretive criminal procedure. It is a sad irony that the government’s heavy-handed approach to this case only serves to underscore the motivations – some would say, the necessity – for whistleblowing like Manning’s in the first place.

The most well-known of the leaked files, a 39-minute video entitled “Collateral Murder”, depicts three brutal attacks on civilians by US soldiers during the course of just one day of the Iraq war. The footage, recorded from the cockpit of a US Apache helicopter involved in the attacks, shows the killing of several individuals, including two Reuters journalists, as well as the serious injury of two children. Beyond the chilling images of US soldiers eagerly pleading for chances to shoot, the release of this footage placed a spotlight on the military’s blatant mischaracterization of the events, in which a spokesman claimed that there was “no question” that the incident involved engagement with “a hostile force”, and underscores the vital role that public scrutiny plays in government accountability.

UK Ministry Of Defence Next To Be Privatised.

March 28th, 2012  By Malcolm Massey          Find Full Article Here:-

David Cameron’s mission to privatise all that we once owned continues with Bernard Gray’s hushed plan to privatise the MoD.

Bernard Gray

There will not be many of us unable to see that the handing over our national defence to corparations with foreign interests is national suicide.

That is unless you are Bernard Gray, the Chief of Defence Materiel at the Defence Equipment and Support branch of the Ministry.

Whilst acting as an advisor to the Ministry of Defence in 2009, Gray compiled a review of  defence acquisition, in which he strongly recommended the privatisation of the Defence Equipment and Support Branch, by creating what is termed a Go-Co partnership.

Go-Co entities are typically government facilities run by the private sector, such as is used in the Atomic Weapons Establishment which includes the involvement of such infamous companies as Lockheed Martin and Serco, and allows the contractor access to sensitive military information.

Gray was special advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence between 1997 and 1999, during which time he submitted an earlier report – the Strategic Defensive Review – which highlighted the need to ‘modernise’ the forces.

But it was his late 2009 report to Parliament recommending privatisation of the DE&S branch which subsequently led to his appointment in December 2010 as Chief of Defence Materiel.

In 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that Bernard Gray would be handling the finance department of the branch; it will surprise few of you to know that Mr Gray has a history of working in the banking sector for a number of years, with ties to the Bankers Trust and Chase Manhatten.

Categories: News of the moment

Feathers fly at the police station over gallery’s ‘bestial’ Leda and the Swan.

By Louise Jury 27th April 2012.   Find Article Here:-

There were no complaints from the public when a Mayfair gallery exhibited a dramatic modern rendering of the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the swan in its window.

A Fool for Love: Derrick Santini’s take on the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan

But the sensitive souls of the Metropolitan Police took a different view when they spotted Derrick Santini’s photograph of a naked woman being ravished by the bird.

An officer took exception as he passed  the Scream gallery in Bruton Street on a bus. He alerted colleagues and two uniformed officers from Harrow arrived to demand the work be removed.

Jag Mehta, sales director at the gallery owned by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood’s sons Tyrone and Jamie, said: “We asked them what the problem was and they said it suggested we condoned bestiality, which they said was an arrestable offence. The show, Metamorphosis, had been running for a month and was really well received.”

The final day of the exhibition was on Saturday and the gallery was taking down the artworks when police arrived. Ms Mehta pointed out that for prim Victorians, the myth of how Zeus, in the form of a swan, raped young Leda and produced Helen of Troy, was an acceptable form of erotica. But the explanation that the picture was based on a legend that had inspired countless generations of artists failed to cut the mustard with the police, she said.

“They didn’t know anything about the myth. They stood there and didn’t leave until we took the piece down. They asked us whether we had had complaints and we said quite the contrary. Lots of people were intrigued by it.”

She admitted she did not know what they would have done, had the officers arrived before the exhibition was over. “I guess it would have been a discussion with the artist and the owners to see whether we changed the work in the show. I don’t know the law. I would like to think we wouldn’t have shied away from it but it’s difficult to say.”

Jamie Wood said Santini’s work, called A Fool for Love, was on display for a month and received only positive comments from the public. “It was not meant to deliberately shock or offend. However, the purpose of art is to provoke debate and Derrick’s piece has certainly done this.”

He said they honoured the police request as they were due to install work by a new artist. “We would of course have fought to keep the piece up otherwise. If anyone wants to view it, we still have it at the gallery.”

It is understood that the incident was not recorded by police as a crime.

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