Monthly Archives: January 2019

Congressman Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party, president of the National Assembly since Jan. 5, was sworn in on Jan. 23 before a crowd as Venezuela's (disputed) interim president. Credit: National Assembly of Venezuela

Organizing a coup in Venezuela

The Venezuelan opposition is trying to change/overthrow the present government of Venezuela headed by President Maduro. The United States government is playing a central role in this effort by strongly and openly supporting the ouster of the Maduro government, using diplomatic resources to convince those in the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro, and using its economic power–the United States buys 40 percent of Venezuelan oil–to impose crippling economic sanctions. The Venezuelan military is also of crucial importance, as, in the array of political forces, it is the one with sufficient power to oust a current president by means of a coup.
Photo: Congressman Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party, president of the National Assembly since Jan. 5, was sworn in on Jan. 23 before a crowd as Venezuela’s (disputed) interim president. Credit: National Assembly of Venezuela

This is not humanitarian aid: A Maduro critic in Venezuela slams U.S. plan to push regime change February 22, 2019

Venezuela’s crisis reveals disputes between power brokers at home and abroad Max Fisher and Amanda Taub January 31, 2019

This article says that the discussion over who is the legitimate president of Venezuela is not really about legitimacy but are “elaborate games of maneuvering and signaling among military leaders, civilian leaders and foreign governments who have the power to determine the country’s fate — but only if enough of them can come together to force their way.”  See the controlling government section of Understanding Exploitation for further explanation.

Venezuela: Call it what it is—a coup. The power grab of the right’s Juan Guaidó is brazenly unconstitutional. George Ciccariello-Haher The Nation January 25, 2019

U.S. targets Venezuela with tough oil sanctions during crisis of power Edward Wong and Nicholas Casey New York Times January 28, 2019

On Venezuela, Rubio assumes U.S. role of Ouster in Chief Peter Baker and Edward Wong New York Times January 26, 2019

The history – and hypocrisy – of U.S. meddling in Venezuela Bret Wilkins Telesur January 28, 2019

How Venezuela got here: a timeline of the political crisis Luc Cohen Reuters January 28, 2019

Photo: Children from rural areas and disempowered homes are ideal targets for trafficking in India and elsewhere. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

Discrimination against women 2019

Women are fleeing death at home. The United States wants to keep them out. Azam Amhed New York Times August 18, 2019.
“To win asylum in the United States, applicants must show specific grounds for their persecution back home, like their race, religion, political affiliation or membership in a particular social group. Lawyers have sometimes pushed successfully for women to qualify as a social group because of the overwhelming violence they face, citing a 2014 case in which a Guatemalan woman fleeing domestic violence was found to be eligible to apply for asylum in the United States. But Mr. Sessions overruled that precedent, questioning whether women — in particular, women fleeing domestic violence — can be members of a social group. The decision challenged what had become common practice in asylum courts.”

Teenage brides trafficked to China reveal ordeal: ‘Ma, I’ve been sold’ Hannah Beech New York Times August 17, 2019

In Pakistan, a feminist hero Is under fire and on the run Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times July 23, 2019

Afghan women waiting to vote in 2009 elections.
Afghan women waiting to vote. Credit UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein. Photo ID 406878. 20/08/2009. Kabul, Afghanistan Also see Flickr.

‘Women here are very, very worried’ Susan Chira New York Times March 22, 2019
Afghan women used to be championed by almost everyone. Now they’re all but forgotten.

Many firms in developed countries, countries which have significant worker protections, contract out parts or all of their production to contractors in developing countries, where labor protections are much less. Here is an example.
Made for next to nothing. Worn by you? Elizabeth Paton New York Times February 6, 2019 br>See full report Tainted Garments. The exploitation of women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector by Siddharth Kara (60 page PDF file)

Sex trafficking is a horrible example of forced labor.
‘The Monsters are the men’: Inside a thriving sex trafficking trade in Florida Patricia Mazzei New York Times February 23, 2019
“The sweep led to criminal charges last week against several rich, prominent men, including Robert K. Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots; John Havens, former president and chief operating officer of Citigroup; and John Childs, founder of the private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates. Beyond the lurid celebrity connection, however, lies the wretched story of women who the police believe were brought from China under false promises of new lives and legitimate spa jobs. Instead, they found themselves trapped in the austere back rooms of strip-mall brothels — trafficking victims trapped among South Florida’s rich and famous.
“I don’t believe they were told they were going to work in massage parlors seven days a week, having unprotected sex with up to 1,000 men a year,” said Sheriff William D. Snyder of Martin County, whose office opened the investigation. “

Asia’s expanding illicit market: brides Tharanga Yakupitiyage Inter Press Service January 25, 2019

She wanted to drive, so Saudi Arabia’s ruler imprisoned and tortured her Nicholas Kristof New York Times January 26, 2019 (opinion)

An 11-year-old pleaded for an abortion after she was raped. She was forced to give birth. Michael Brice-Saddler Washington Post February 28, 2019

Shedding light on forced child pregnancy and motherhood in Latin America Mariela Jara Inter Press Service January 14, 2019
Research and campaigns by women’s rights advocates are beginning to focus on the problem of Latin American girls under the age of 14 who are forced to bear the children of their rapists, with the lifelong implications that entails and without the protection of public policies guaranteeing their human rights.

Recorded increase in human trafficking, women and girls targeted Tharanga Yakupitiyage Inter Press Service January 9, 2019

Photo: Children from rural areas and disempowered homes are ideal targets for trafficking in India and elsewhere. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS See accompanying story.

Photo: Hamilton Lopes and his daughter, members of the Guarani indigenous community, stand in front of their hut. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Control of land and natural resources 2019

Bitter aftertaste? Food companies could face costly disputes over land in Africa Adela Suliman Thompson Reuters Foundation February 24, 2019

Brazil to open indigenous reserves to mining without indigenous consent Sue Branford and Maurício Torres Mongabay March 14, 2019

Brazil agriculture minister wants to open indigenous land to commercial farming Jake Spring and Anthony Boadle Reuters January 18, 2019

Indigenous people, the first victims of Brazil’s new far-right government Mario Osava Inter Press Service January 10, 2019

Photo: Hamilton Lopes and his daughter, members of the Guarani indigenous community, stand in front of their hut, where their family lives a precarious existence on land that has not been demarcated, where they face threats of expulsion, on Brazil’s border with Paraguay. Large landowners seize the lands of the Guarani, the second-largest native community in the country, causing a large number of murders and suicides of indigenous people. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS See original article.

Argentina’s indigenous people fight for land rights Daniel Gutman Irin News January 12, 2019

Image: Mary Tembo displays her homegrown organic seeds at her farm in Chongwe, Zambia. Credit: Timothy A. Wise
Image: Mary Tembo displays her homegrown organic seeds at her farm in Chongwe, Zambia. Credit: Timothy A. Wise

Image: Mary Tembo displays her homegrown organic seeds at her farm in Chongwe, Zambia.
In December, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 
Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas The declaration formally extends human rights protections to farmers whose “seed sovereignty” is threatened by government and corporate practices. Credit: Timothy A. Wise

U.N. backs seed sovereignty in landmark peasants’ rights declaration Timothy Wise Foodtank December, 2018
“On December 17, the United Nations General Assembly took a quiet but historic vote, approving the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, by a vote of 121-8 with 52 abstentions. The declaration, which was the product of some 17 years of diplomatic work led by the international peasant alliance La Via Campesina, formally extends human rights protections to farmers whose “seed sovereignty” is threatened by government and corporate practices. ”

Gas price hikes spur violent protests in Zimbabwe

Revolt and repression in Zimbabwe Crisis Group Mail & Guardian January 19, 2019

“On January 12, in response to persistent fuel shortages compounded by manipulation and mismanagement of a currency crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a fuel price hike of over 200% to $3.31 per litre — making the country’s petrol price the highest in the world….Control over the country’s fuel supply is in the hands of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and the huge financial benefits that come with it are reportedly causing factional rivalry. There is widespread public speculation that the shortages are caused by inter-elite squabbles or even deliberately engineered. “

Conflict 2019

Looking at the model of conflict developed by Hershleifer and others (see the section “Conflict theory” in Understanding exploitation) , we see that conflict is modeled as a rational activity where each side can produce goods for consumption or for conflict, and the costs and benefits of each strategy are considered by each side and the best alternative adopted. Thus conflict here is rational, though certainly overall output of consumption goods is reduced. Nonetheless it appears that this is not the model for much of real life conflict. It appears that there are two (or more) groups that engage in conflict, while there is (usually a much larger) group that suffers from the conflict. The two groups can be elites of two countries, or rebels and the government, yet there are many that are caught up in the struggle, and their suffering seems to dwarf any gain of the contending sides.

The Infinity War. We say we’re a peaceful nation. Why do our nation’s leaders always keep us at war? Samuel Moyn and Stephen Wertheim Washington Post December 12, 2019

What did the United States get for $2 trillion in Afghanistan? Sarah Almukhtar and Rod Nordland New York Times December 9, 2019

The secret history of the war in Afghanistan Craig Whitlock Washington Post December 9, 2019 A six-part series.
Part 1 At war with the truth–U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress in Afghanistan. They were not, confidential documents show, and they knew it.
Part 2 Stranded without a strategy. Bush and Obama had polar-opposite plans to win the war. Both were destined to fail.
Part 3 Built to fail. Despite vows the U.S. wouldn’t get mired in “nation-building,” it has wasted billions doing just that.
Part 4 Consumed by corruption The U.S. flooded the country with money — then turned a blind eye to the graft it fueled.
Part 5 Unguarded nation. Afghan security forces, despite years of training, were dogged by incompetence and corruption.
Part 6 Overwhelmed by opium. The U.S. war on drugs in Afghanistan has imploded at nearly every turn.

Massacred at home, in misery abroad, 730,000 Rohingya are mired in hopelessness Hannah Beech New York Times August 22, 2019

The two-year Rohingya crisis in three timelapse satellite GIFs Irwin Loy The New Humanitarian August 22, 2019

What ‘victory’ looks like: A journey through shattered Syria Vivian Yee New York Times August 20, 2019
On an eight-day visit, New York Times journalists given rare access to Syria found ruin, grief and generosity. What was missing after eight years of civil war? Young men and a middle class.

Number of people fleeing conflict Is highest since World War II, U.N. says Nick Cumming-Bruce New York Times June 19, 2019

The exceptionally American historical amnesia behind Pompeo’s claim of ‘40 years of unprovoked Iranian aggression’ Brett Wilkins Common Dreams June 20, 2019
” From a CIA coup and supporting the Shah’s brutality to enabling chemical attacks, shooting down a civilian airliner and training terrorists,‘aggression’ between the US and Iran is overwhelmingly one-sided.”

The UN has failed civilians Tharanga Yakupitiyage Inter Press Service May 24, 2019
“According to the UN, more than 22,800 civilians were killed or injured in 2018 alone across just six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. All five permanent Security Council members are parties to many of these conflicts, and are thus responsible for the failure to protect civilians.”

The US is spending $1.25 trillion annually on war William D. Hartung and Mandy Smithberger Truthout May 7, 2019

Do we need a global convention of common principles for building peace? Thalif Deen Inter Press Service May 17, 2019
Susan Wilding of CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organizations, said that what is missing is a clear focus on human rights. “How can we expect to prevent conflict if we do not first focus on the prevention of human rights abuses…If we do not start to see the link between human rights, civic space and the humanitarian, development and peace agenda, we will surely fail in our endeavors to reach any of the goals.”

Niger, part 1: At the centre of a brewing militant storm Giacomo Zandonini and Francesco Bellina The New Humanitarian March 28, 2019

Preaching world peace by day, peddling lethal weapons by night Thalif Deen Inter Press Service March 11, 2019

Trump administration steps up air war in Somalia Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage New York Times March 10, 2019

What happened to 4 starving Yemeni children since The Washington Post visited their village in December Sudarsan Raghavan and Ali Al Mujahed Washington Post February 27, 2019

Photographing the Yazidis in Iraq as they struggle to rebuild their lives Photographs by Emilienne Malfatto Text by Sara Aridi New York Times January 22, 2019

The problem with memorializing our war dead without honest accounting of history C.J. Chivers New York Times February 22, 2019

Coup attempt in Gabon is thwarted, government says Dionne Searcey New York Times January 7, 2019

Body Count: Casualty figures for the war on terror after 10 years (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) Physicians for Social Responsibility March 2015 (101 page PDF file)

For further discussion, see Understanding exploitation, especially the sections “Conflict theory” and “Power and exploitation.”