How Barclays is Misbehaving in Africa

The biggest UK bank in Africa is encouraging its clients to use tax havens.

When companies don’t pay their fair share of tax, this can deny some of the world’s poorest people access to vital funds for schools and hospitals.

Join ActionAid and tell Barclays to clean up its act on tax havens.After recent scandals, Barclays Bank boss Antony Jenkins has got himself in a bit of a lather trying to polish the bank’s image.

Barclays wants to be seen as a responsible business as it expands its operations in Africa. But responsible businesses don’t promote tax havens.

Whether you bank with Barclays or not, we can all be a part of the Big Clean and help convince Barclays to smarten up on tax havens. Email Antony Jenkins and let him know you want him to clean up Barclays.

Developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year – vital funds that could be spent on essentials like healthcare and education.

Please take some time, as I’ve done, to email Barclays’ boss and tell him to clean up the bank’s act on tax havens. After all the recent banking scandals, Barclays want to be seen to be doing the right thing – now it’s time for real action.

Find out more and email Barclays boss Antony Jenkins at http://po.st/BarclaysBehave

Thanks

I Must Have Justice Or I’ll Destroy Myself

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Fyodor Dostoevsky (as Ivan) on Justice and Forgiveness
Except from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV,
CONSTANCE BLACK GARNETT, TRANSLATION.
(MODERN LIBRARY: 1977), P. 254.

“To be shot,” murmured Alyosha, lifting his eyes to Ivan with a pale, twisted smile. … Ivan for a minute was silent, his face became all at once very sad.

“Listen! I took the case of children only to make my case clearer. Of the other tears of humanity with which the earth is soaked from its crust to its centre, I will say nothing. I have narrowed my subject on purpose. I am a bug, and I recognise in all humility that I cannot understand why the world is arranged as it is. Men are themselves to blame, I suppose; they were given paradise, they wanted freedom, and stole fire from heaven, though they knew they would become unhappy, so there is no need to pity them. With my pitiful, earthly, Euclidian understanding, all I know is that there is suffering and that there are none guilty; that cause follows effect, simply and directly; that everything flows and finds its level — but that’s only Euclidian nonsense, I know that, and I can’t consent to live by it! What comfort is it to me that there are none guilty and that cause follows effect simply and directly, and that I know it?

I must have justice, or I will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I haven’t suffered simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure the soil of the future harmony for somebody else. I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer.

But then there are the children, and what am I to do about them? That’s a question I can’t answer. For the hundredth time I repeat, there are numbers of questions, but I’ve only taken the children, because in their case what I mean is so unanswerably clear. Listen! If all must suffer to pay for the eternal harmony, what have children to do with it, tell me, please? It’s beyond all comprehension why they should suffer, and why they should pay for the harmony. Why should they, too, furnish material to enrich the soil for the harmony of the future? I understand solidarity in sin among men. I understand solidarity in retribution, too; but there can be no such solidarity with children. And if it is really true that they must share responsibility for all their fathers’ crimes, such a truth is not of this world and is beyond my comprehension. Some jester will say, perhaps, that the child would have grown up and have sinned, but you see he didn’t grow up, he was torn to pieces by the dogs, at eight years old.

Oh, Alyosha, I am not blaspheming! I understand, of course, what an upheaval of the universe it will be when everything in heaven and earth blends in one hymn of praise and everything that lives and has lived cries aloud: ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed.’ When the mother embraces the fiend who threw her child to the dogs, and all three cry aloud with tears, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ then, of course, the crown of knowledge will be reached and all will be made clear. But what pulls me up here is that I can’t accept that harmony. And while I am on earth, I make haste to take my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may happen that if I live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps, may cry aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the child’s torturer, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ but I don’t want to cry aloud then. While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for.

They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.

I don’t want the mother to embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for the immeasurable suffering of her mother’s heart. But the sufferings of her tortured child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what becomes of harmony? Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don’t want harmony. From love for humanity I don’t want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it’s beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket.”

Russia Today (RT) American Presenter Quits ‘Live’ on Air over Ukraine Crisis

Liz Wahl
The video below was published on 5 Mar 2014. Did Liz spell out her reasons in a convincing manner or was it nothing more than a personal publicity stunt? Watch this clip and decide for yourself. WASHINGTON (AFP)

Liz Wahl, an American anchor for the Moscow-funded Russia Today (RT) television network resigned “live” on air on Wednesday in protest at the deployment of Russia-backed forces in Ukraine.

Ms Liz Wahl said during a broadcast that she could no longer work for the network, which she accused of “whitewashing” moves by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“My grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces,” she said. “Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin.

“I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning.”

Abby Martin
In a related incident Russia Today anchor Abby Martin speaks out against Russian invasion of Crimea and Ukaraine

The Struggle

by Christian Mahai
In an essay about Kafka, David Foster Wallace wrote the following words, “the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. [...] our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.”

Now, he was talking about Kafka’s works, but I think that phrase pretty much sums up what life is all about.

As a writer, as an artist, I’m interested in people. It’s not only about empathy, but also about understanding how things work. That’s something you can’t really learn. Or read about in a book. You either have it or you don’t.

Now, about this phrase. The journey, not the destination.

Yes, I believe it’s true, and I believe that the main theme in art could be the question, “who am I becoming?” We never become someone, we’re always in the process of becoming someone, and there’s always something deeply embedded in your souls that remembers us where we came from.

It’s all about the struggle: to establish a human self, to figure out who you are, to figure out who you want to be. To find a place in this world.

There are no trivial pursuits in life. Or art for that matter. They may seems trivial to us, at one point or another, but they’re not.

You know, a lot of people think all these popular novels about vampires are just commercial fiction. Light literature, some of you might call them. But I guess that to a great deal of those who actually wrote them, it’s about some important aspect of their personalities: someone wanting to be immortal, and strong, and fast, and beautiful. That’s a dream. Impossible? Maybe. But a dream nonetheless.

I believe we all write a great deal about ourselves. About our own struggles, about the parts that are missing, or the parts that we think are missing. About what we want or what we need, all that stuff.

In the end, what we write about tells others a great deal about who we are. Maybe more than we could ever be able to tell them directly.

Perhaps it’s all about the struggle. That impossible journey towards a home we dream about, and we can picture it in our heads so clearly, even though we’ve never seen it. Consciously, we don’t know how it looks like. In the day to day world of petty frustrations and stupid arguments, and countless bills and troubles, we don’t have time to see these sort of things. We don’t have time to figure out who we want to be.

But when we make art, that’s when we can see the dark and twisted road that is our home. Never-ending and cruel, but we’re so certain that we’re headed the right direction that we can’t help ourselves and smile.
Read original post at

The Struggle.

Overconsumption—A Look at How Unsustainable Our Eating Habits Have Become

By Dr. Mercola

The featured video, Overconsumption, is a segment of a longer, completely non-verbal documentary called SAMSARA, which was filmed over a period of five years, across 25 countries.

“By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.”

Indeed, the effect is striking. This clip, which focuses on overconsumption, highlights just how unsustainable our eating habits have become. Modern food production also involves animal cruelty on a scale never seen before in the history of mankind.

Read more here

Letter to the EU on Zimbabwe

My name is Vincent Musewe, I am an African who happens to have been born in Zimbabwe.

BY VINCE MUSEWE

For the last 34 years, I have watched my country, Zimbabwe, become what I never imagined it could be, because good men kept quiet and did nothing, while most sought profit from our pain as you do now.

In my country, I have seen President Robert Mugabe retain power and control for its own sake. The dictatorship I have seen has devastated the aspirations in millions of innocent souls whose only sin was to be born in Zimbabwe in these times. That is hugely unfair.

I have seen millions of my brothers and sisters being denied their inalienable right to self-determination. Most can never live up to their full potential and pursue their dreams without limitation because their “liberator” has become their oppressor.

I have met war veterans, despondent and hopeless because what they truly sacrificed their livelihoods for has been usurped, twisted and adulterated to secure the vested material interests of a few. Our leaders have claimed entitlement to political power through the sacrifice of the sweat and blood of our veterans. That can never be countenanced.

I have watched old men and women, now pensioners, reminisce about the past with a twinkle in their eyes, while they remain disillusioned about a future they once imagined. Their wishes of an old age characterised by their dignity and security have been demolished because of the greed and selfishness of the same people you now have exonerated from their responsibility in propping up a dictatorship. That is the truth.

I have seen little black children in the ghetto getting used to being poor and playing in the mud not out of choice, but because they happen to have been born in these times and are oblivious to the fact that they deserve better. We owe them much.

Poverty breeds poverty.

I have met many of my brothers and sisters who left their motherland and must brave the unfriendly, harsh conditions of life as refugees in Europe, the United States, Canada Australia and South Africa. I know they all wish that one day they could be back home where they belong; that one day a man or woman who understands that all of us are born equal and entitled to equal opportunity, freedom and the right to pursue happiness in their own country will rule in Zimbabwe.

My country Zimbabwe will never live to its full potential and we all know why this is so. The wealth of our country has been usurped by those who claim to have liberated us. The values of our society are shameful.

My country Zimbabwe has all its needs; it has the resources which you desperately want, even at the expense of us achieving our dreams. It has all the human capital and capacity to surpass many African countries and yet today, we must import what we eat and survive on a dollar a day.

Today, our graduates sell airtime at street corners, drive kombis or choose to stay drunk with cheap alcohol to while away their time and soothe the pain of unmet expectations. Their dreams have been deferred.

At times, I sit and wonder what Zimbabwe could have become. I know that we are much more than what those in Zanu PF can dare to imagine. We still hold fast on that dream that we saw in 1980 at our independence. It has been delayed not because it was unrealistic, but because those we gave the responsibility to create that dream have cheated us.

I expected more from you, European Union, a union founded on the basis of opportunity, freedom and justice for all. I imagined that you would want for us what you want for your citizens. I was wrong.

The choice made by you to ease the sanctions on Zimbabwe and those responsible for our nightmare cannot be justified or supported by those of us who know that this government of Zimbabwe neither cares for its people nor is it accountable to them and feels responsible for their development.

Of course, we cannot blame you Europeans for the circumstances that we have been complicit in creating. We have created our own dictatorship through inaction and fear. However, we expected unwavering commitment by yourselves to the principles that hold your European nations together: Equity, liberty, justice and freedom. We were wrong.

Africa is weak and its business as usual for them. This is while they quietly compete with us and seek to gain advantage from our economic decline, while they quietly encourage our current political leadership to stay on the course which they have chosen.

A course only informed by their vested interests which continue to limit our opportunities; a course that disrespects our aspirations and limits our potential as ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe; a path that has cost lives and has resulted in hopelessness, poverty and regression; a path which you Europeans continue to justify in your minds, as long as you get your diamonds and gold from us.

That is wrong.

Your removal of sanctions does not contribute to our freedom and the achievement of our hopes. Your humanitarian aid is much appreciated and I know that you continue to have concern for the poor and sick and the hopeless and the helpless. For that I am grateful. However, we need you to support democratic forces in our country than to give us handouts. We need your moral support of uprooting this dictatorship more so now than ever. We need you to strengthen our people so that they may fight for what is right. That is the right thing to do.

Let this letter force these truths into your minds: Zimbabweans will never be free as long as Zanu PF is in power; my country will never be free until we have a leadership that respects and is accountable to its people; it will never be free until it has leadership that puts Zimbabwe and its people first. No removal of sanctions or millions in humanitarian aid will change these facts.

The people come first!

Source: News Day Zimbabwe 

Video: Whats going on in Venezuela in a nutshell

The 2014 Venezuela protests are a series of protests against the government of Venezuela and president Nicolás Maduro. Reasons for the protests include chronic scarcity of basic oods and high levels of criminal violence. The inflation rate for 2013 was 56.2% and the scarcity index had been near 20% throughout 2013. In response to the inflation Maduro has increased the minimum wage, the legal minimum for full-time workers and for pension, by the same percentage as the inflation: 59% between May 2013 and January 2014.

The Venezuelan government’s economic policies, including strict price controls, have led to the highest inflation in the world, and have caused severe shortages of food and other goods. President Maduro instead blamed an “economic war” being waged against his government; specifically, he has blamed capitalism and speculation.

Protests began in early January 2014, after actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was killed during a roadside robbery with her five-year-old daughter in the car. Ongoing student protests coincided with the commemoration of the Battle of La Victoria on 12 February 1814, during the Venezuelan War of Independence, when the independence forces armed thousands of college and seminary students at the shortage of troops. This day is also known in Venezuela as the National Youth Day. Protests have taken place in several cities around the country. Six people have been killed, 66 injured as of 13 February, and 138 more on 19 February;and approximately 100 arrested as of 16 February, and 89 still detained as of 19 February.

The former presidential candidate of the MUD, Henrique Capriles, condemned the violence of some anti-government groups, saying “We condemn the violence. Violence will never be our path. We are sure that the large majority reject and condemn this!”