Tag Archive | human rights

Why We Must Save Dying Languages*

Why We Must Save Dying Languages*

By Max J Rosenthal

Is Common Language Killing off Ancient Ecological Knowledge?

You probably know that much of the world’s environment is under threat. But a new study says languages are disappearing alongside plants and animals.

The study, from the World Wildlife Fund, measured the threat to languages using a scale that tracks how threatened species are. Not only are many languages steadily losing speakers, says co-author Jonathan Loh, but “the rate of decline, globally, is actually very close to the rate of decline in populations of wild vertebrate species.”

There’s the obvious threat of in-demand languages, which many people start speaking more and more, as the speakers of smaller languages dwindle.

“Thousands of indigenous languages spoken around the world are being replaced by one of a dozen or so dominant world languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese,” he says.

But Loh, who’s also a research associate at the Zoological Society of London, says that languages are dying off due to many of the same issues that plants and animals face. He comments:

“Some of the drivers that are driving the extinction of biodiversity — such as increasing global population, increasing consumption of natural resources, increasing globalization and so on — are applicable to languages as well…”

And that’s no coincidence. Loh explains that languages have a lot of specific local knowledge built in.

The vertical axis represents the number of nearly extinct indigenous languages; the number in blue its relation (in percent) to the total number of native languages still spoken in same country. (Source: National Geographic, 2013)

The Knowledge Embedded in Languages

“The cultures have evolved in a particular environmental context, so they have an extraordinary amount of traditional ecological knowledge — knowledge of the local species, plants, animals, the medicinal uses of them, the migration patterns of animals behaviour,”

So when the languages die off, much of that knowledge goes with them.

Then children stop learning the language, they also stop acquiring that traditional knowledge,” Loh says.

There are plenty of linguists who are studying and trying to preserve native languages, but Loh wants to see them work with biologists to make sure that valuable ecological history isn’t missed.

 “Linguists often don’t have the knowledge of natural history that’s necessary in order to be able to record an endangered language because so much of the lexicon is tied up with names of species or types of ecosystems,” he says.

He argues that:

“…if we can recognize that culture and nature are inextricably interlinked, then working on a biocultural diversity as a whole, as a subject, would be a more fruitful way of looking at conservation.”

The Link Between Culture and Nature

“One of the interesting findings was that where a species goes extinct — because the population of the species declines away to nothing — a language doesn’t go extinct because the population of speakers declines away to nothing, but usually because the speakers shift from their mother tongue to a second language, usually a more dominant one.”

An Aboriginal man from Laura, QLD; part of a Northern Australian ‘hotspot’ of dying languages.

 

Loh says languages are disappearing most quickly in Australia and the Americas.

“About three-quarters of the languages of the Americas are under the threat of extinction,” he says, and “95% of the indigenous aboriginal Australian languages are … declining extremely rapidly.”

“And, as with species,” he warns, “when a language is lost, it’s gone forever. You can never get it back.”

“There’s this extraordinary wealth of traditional ecological knowledge that’s bound up with a lot of the world’s indigenous languages, and I think it would be really useful to biologists in understanding how to manage natural ecosystems.”

Integrating Language and Knowledge

Over the past century alone, around 400 languages – about one every three months – have gone extinct, and most linguists estimate that 50% of the world’s remaining 6,500 languages will be gone by the end of this century, with some putting the figure as high as 90%. Today, the top ten languages in the world are spoken by around half of the world’s population. We could even be facing a future world where only one language is spoken globally, but while it’s important for everyone to understand each other, perhaps there’s a way we can preserve the wisdom of ancient languages at the same time.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

My Language is the Window to My Soul

Amazonian Elders Conclude Completion of First Indigenous Medical Encyclopaedia*

Muslims Launch the World’s First Islamic Sign Language Book*

Four Year Old Russian Girl Speaks 7 Languages, including Chinese and Arabic*

Indigenous Australia MP Gives Maiden Speech in Native Language*

Battle On To Keep Ambiguous Language about Family Out of Major UN Agreement*

Turkey-Iran: An Ancient Language Rediscovered

Basque: A 7,000 Year Old European Language and a People Exist

 

Greek Authorities to Launch Mass Confiscation of Safe Deposit Boxes, Securities, Homes in Tax-Evasion Crackdown*

Greek Authorities to Launch Mass Confiscation of Safe Deposit Boxes, Securities, Homes in Tax-Evasion Crackdown*

By Tyler Durden

Last week, the Greek parliament once again approved more austerity to unlock withheld Greek bailout funds in Brussels: a symbolic move, which has little impact without any actual follow through, like for example, actually imposing austerity. And while Greeks have been very good in the former (i.e. promises), they have been severely lacking in the latter (i.e. delivery).

That may be changing. According to Kathimerini, Greek Finance Ministry inspectors are about to start seeking out the owners of all local undeclared properties, while the law will be amended to allow for financial products and the content of safe deposit boxes to be confiscated electronically. The plan for the identification of taxpayers who have “forgotten” to declare their properties to the tax authorities is expected to be ready by year-end, according to the timetable of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.

What follows then will be a wholesale confiscation by the government of any asset whose source, origins and funding cannot be explained.

The Greek tax authorities will receive support from the Land Register to that end, as by end-September IAPR inspectors are set to obtain access to the company’s database to draw details on properties. Any taxpayers identified as having skipped the declaration of their assets to the tax authorities will be asked to comply and declare them, along with paying the tax and fines dictated by law. Should taxpayers fail to do so, the asset will be “sequestered.”

Kathimerini also notes that the IAPR is also waiting for Parliament to pass regulations permitting the mass confiscation of safe deposit box contents and financial assets such as securities.

To date the process has been conducted in handwriting and is therefore particularly slow in locating the assets of taxpayers who have either concealed incomes or have major debts to the state. It is about to get much more streamlined: once the necessary regulations are in place for the operation of an automatic system to collect debts, the tax authorities will be able to issue online confiscation notices and immediately get their hands on the contents of safe deposit boxes, confiscating cash, precious stones, jewelry and so on. They will also be able to confiscate shares and other securities.

This year the tax authorities will focus their efforts on confiscations as they try to reduce the huge pile of expired debts to the state. In this context the Independent Authority for Public Revenue will auction 27 properties belonging to state debtors by the end of next month, with the aim of collecting 2.7 billion euros by the end of the year from old debts and another 690 million euros of new debts from major debtors.

We will share the details of the auctions with readers as some notable bargains may emerge in the coming months.

Source*

Related Topics:

Greeks Paid €7bn More in Taxes in 2016, as Middle-Classes Vanish and Poverty Increases*

IMF to Greece: Sorry We’ll Destroy You*

There is a new U.S. “Marshall Plan” for Greece*

What Will Unfold as Greece Hires a Rothschild as Debt Advisor*

Greece Bans Cash*

Greece is now a Colony of the E.U.*

Europe’s Vindictive Privatization Plan for Greece*

How German and French Banks Helped Bankrupt Greece*

Two Thousand People March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Switzerland*

Two Thousand People March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Switzerland*

Peaceful demonstration in Basel calls for paradigm change in agriculture

 

In Basel, Switzerland, the home town of the chemicals giant Syngenta, the third March Against Monsanto and Syngenta was held on Saturday 20 May 2017. Two thousand people turned out to demonstrate against toxic pesticides, GMOs, and patents on seeds. They demanded an ecological and diverse agriculture which serves food security instead of profit.

The demonstration ended at the Syngenta headquarters and was accompanied by street artists, musicians, and children dressed as bees.

In front of the Syngenta headquarters, Fern Rosenstiel, an environmental scientist from Kauai, Hawaii, spoke about the use of highly toxic pesticides – pesticides that are banned in Switzerland – on Syngenta test fields in Hawaii. She said: “Syngenta must finally take responsibility for the health problems in Hawaii.”

Syngenta is currently caught up in legal battles over its farming of GM crops in Hawaii and is planning to sell its operations in the state.

This year the main focus of the protest was the increasing market power in the agrochemical industry. In addition to the planned acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina and the merger of Dow and Dupont, Bayer plans to take over Monsanto. Altogether, the three companies would control over 60% of the commercial seed and pesticide market.

“Syngenta is now Chinese but that does not mean that our resistance against the business practice of Syngenta stops now,” said Ueli Gähler from Multiwatch.

“Today, we protest in solidarity with smallholders in China and the rest of the world.”

The march against Monsanto and Syngenta in Basel was supported by more than 50 organisations from Switzerland and Germany, including Basel unions, the Green Party, and environmental, agricultural and development organisations such as Greenpeace, Uniterre and SWISSAID.*

Zoë Roth from the event’s organising committee drew a positive conclusion:

“The high turnout at the March against Monsanto and Syngenta in Basel confirms the desire for ecological farming.”

* The complete list of supporting organisations and more information are available at: www.marchagainstsyngenta.ch

Source*

Related Topics:

The GMO Agenda is Planned Sterilization of Humanity*

For Reducing Male Fertility New Protection Bill for Monsanto*

GM Foods and Fertility

GMOs Are Mutating Microorganisms and Spawning Deadly New Life Forms‏

World Bank Aims to Hand over Seed Industry to Agribusiness*

Iraq’s Agricultural Industry was Pillaged, Its Farmers Devastated, But It’s Still Free of GMO Seeds*

Canada’s New Food Labels won’t Include GMO Info.*

Largest-Ever GMO Crops Study Shows Massive Environmental Damage in U.S.*

White House Resorts to Blackmail Over GMOs in NWOs TTIP Trade Negotiations*

Embedding Transnational Agribusiness and GMO’s into African Agriculture*

Mexican Supreme Court Refuses to Review Monsanto Appeal on GMO Maize Permits*

Monsanto + Syngenta Lobby Tanzanian Government to Pass Law Jailing Farmers who Exchange their Traditional Seeds*

U.K. Gov’t Has Colluded with Monsanto by Treating Wales as a Monsanto Toxic Dump*

Monsanto Was Put on Trial for Ecocide at the Hague*

Trump’s First Budget Not Looking Good for Citizens*

Trump’s First Budget Not Looking Good for Citizens*

The money goes to war, war, and more war…

By Tyler Durden

Here are some of the highlights from the latest batch of trial balloons:

 

  • Trump’s budget will include a massive nearly $200 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, over the next 10 years – what amounts to a 25% reduction, according to The Washington Post.

 

 

  • The budget calls for about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid for fiscal year 2018, WaPo reported.

 

  • The budget also calls for $2.6 billion in border security spending, $1.6 billion of which will be earmarked for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.’s southern border.

The budget is also expected to propose major domestic discretionary spending cuts – an earlier version of the budget called for $54 billion in such cuts next year alone.

Predictably, Democrats are already up in arms over the proposal, even though a formal draft isn’t expected until Tuesday.

In a statement cited by Bloomberg, New York Senator Senator Chuck Schumer clumsily compared Trump’s campaign rhetoric to a “Trojan Horse.”

“This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colours: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class,” Bloomberg noted.

Well, at least Trump didn’t promise that if Americans liked their healthcare plan, they can keep it.

To be sure, Republicans have also expressed some discomfort with the cuts, particularly Trump’s plan to whack $54 billion in discretionary spending. Mitch McConnell even told Bloomberg that Congressional Republicans would ultimately end up writing their own budget, the same way Senate Republicans are rewriting Obamacare repeal.

Trump has promised to balance the federal government’s budget in 10 years, though, as Democrats have noted, the projection is dependent on economic growth accelerating to 3% following the passage of massive tax cuts, and no recession over the next decade, a rather bold assumption. Meanwhile, growth collapsed to an annualized rate of just 0.7% in the fist quarter, the slowest rate in three years, while loan demand has plunged to the lowest level in 6 years. Meanwhile, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget claims that rather than reining it in our national debt, Trump’s tax cuts would make the debt much worse.

Source*

Belgian Analyst: U.S. Born out of Violence Needs War to Survive*

Related Topics:

The U.S. is Back in Recession with Interest Rates Already at Zero*

Chinese Billionaire Says U.S. Wasted Trillions on Wars and Wall Street and Forgot about their Citizens*

Is U.S. Deep State in Deep Trouble?*

Trump To Continue Bankrupting The U.S. Through Foreign Wars*

Trump Wastes over $94mn in Taxpayer’s Money on Ineffective Syrian Airstrikes*

World Rushes to De-Dollarize Oil Trade Before U.S. Economy Crashes*

Puerto Rico’s $123 Billion Bankruptcy Is the Cost of U.S. Colonialism*

Rapidly Declining U.S. Exports*

The U.S. Spent a Half Billion on Mining in Afghanistan with ‘Limited Progress’*

U.S. Has Spent $11.5 Million A Day for Past 542 Days Straight in Fight against ISIS*

U.S. Navy Just Spent $2.1bn on a Fancy Transport Fleet That Sinks*

U.S. has Already Spent Five Billion Dollars to Subvert Ukraine*

U.S. Military is Building a $100mn Drone Base in Africa*

U.S.-U.K. Paid “White Helmets” Help to Block Water to 5 Million Thirsty Syrians*

Tens of Thousands March Across U.S. Demanding Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns*

U.S. Tax Dollars and Companies Support Sex Traffickers in Iraq*

The U.S. Looking for War

U.S. Government Admits Social Security Going Bankrupt*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

Venezuela represents everything that the U.S. opposes in the region: socialism, anti-imperialism, economic independence via energy exports and a viable ally for China, Russia, Iran and other countries that oppose the hegemonic designs of Washington.

By Eric Draitser

An anti-government protester wields a shotgun taken from security forces during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

 

The corporate media continues to churn out endless stories detailing repression, state violence and socioeconomic collapse in Venezuela. Conspicuously absent from their stories, however, is the fact that much of the turmoil in the Bolivarian Republic is a result of an economic and psychological war being waged against the country by right-wing elements inside Venezuela and their backers in the United States.

Naturally, this charge has been dismissed out of hand by the imperial stenographers at the New York Times, Washington Post and The Economist, who continue to insist that there’s nothing at all nefarious going on in Venezuela aside from the “corrupt dictatorship” led by President Nicolas Maduro.  Of course, were there real journalists covering Venezuela, they’d make note of the fact that a campaign of economic and psychological war, targeted assassinations, and corporate intrigue have helped plunge the country into an existential crisis.

Rather predictably, none of those factors are incorporated into a well-rounded analysis of the situation in Venezuela; instead, it is sensationalist headlines and narrowly defined issues that grab the media spotlight. And perhaps no concept is more taboo within elite media circles than the strategic imperatives of the U.S.-led system of global political and economic hegemony that dominates the world. No, for the yellow journalists employed by the likes of Newscorp, Comcast and Amazon, Venezuela is just another wayward child in need of a stern rebuke and hand-holding back to the path of the good little oil colony.

Ultimately, the empire’s beef with Venezuela is two-fold. First, it is a country that has attempted to free itself of the architecture of neo-colonial domination that the U.S. and other global powers use to control the Global South.  Secondly, Venezuela represents everything that the U.S. opposes in the region: socialism, anti-imperialism, economic independence via energy exports and a viable ally for China, Russia, Iran and other countries that oppose the hegemonic designs of Washington.

Regime change is the ultimate objective in the destabilization of Venezuela, a bringing to heel of the rogue state in order to serve Washington’s global objectives. The U.S. thirsts for the reversal of the Bolivarian Revolution and the legacy of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Target: Venezuela

A mural featuring an image of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was defaced in the Bronx borough of New York, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (AP/Seth Wenig)

 

There is a misconception spreading through the Beltway like an airborne virus, infectious in its obliviousness to reality: the idea that the administration of President Donald Trump is so bogged down by scandal and controversy that it cannot achieve any geopolitical and strategic objectives. In fact, the opposite is true. Like a cornered animal, Trump and his team are exceedingly dangerous, both in their unpredictability and, strangely enough, also in their predictability.

And when it comes to Venezuela, their strategy is transparent.

Oil reigns supreme in the minds of Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the rest of the administration. In the case of Venezuela, oil remains the lifeblood of its economy.  So in a very real sense, the White House and State Department’s interests converge with the economic imperatives of corporate America in the Bolivarian Republic.

Tillerson represents perhaps the perfect embodiment of U.S. government attitudes toward Venezuela. A slick oil man through and through, Tillerson has long sought to destabilize Venezuela in an attempt to reassert ExxonMobil’s supremacy in the country.

Venezuela’s recent rocky history begins with Chavez’s nationalization of the oil sector under the state oil company PDVSA in 2007. The Chavez government offered ExxonMobil book value for assets that it intended to assume control over, while the Tillerson-led company demanded market value, which they priced at roughly $15 billion.  Eventually, the World Bank’s arbitration court ordered Venezuela to pay $1.6 billion to ExxonMobil.

But ExxonMobil’s anger at Caracas was certainly not assuaged with that settlement agreement. In fact, the following decade saw ExxonMobil step up efforts to destabilize Venezuela’s socialist government using a variety of tactics.

None have been more potent than Venezuela’s border dispute with Guyana. At the heart of this border dispute is energy and the billions of dollars in profits likely to be extracted from the offshore territory. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “The Guyana Suriname Basin [is] 2nd in the world for prospectivity among the world’s unexplored basins and 12th for oil among all the world’s basins – explored and unexplored.” The basin, which stretches from eastern Venezuela to the shores of northern Brazil, is one of the major prizes in the world for energy corporations and governments alike.

Indeed, the USGS estimates that roughly 15 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 42 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves lie under the basin, just waiting to be extracted. Such staggering economic potential has made the territorial waters off Venezuela and Guyana highly sought after, especially since contesting border claims make legal obstacles to exploration far more surmountable, as they allow companies to deal with a compliant government in Georgetown, rather than an independent one in Caracas.

So it should come as no surprise that Tillerson and ExxonMobil have been backing the Guyanese government. Venezuelan officials say their support has included providing financial support to Guyanese President David Granger’s election campaign in 2015. Of course, ExxonMobil has denied these claims.  But the company cannot deny the fact that, as the Huffington Post reported:

“Under Secretary Clinton, the State Department set up a program called the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative. The program aims to both promote fossil development and prevent the ‘resource curse’ by providing ‘independent oversight’ of the oil and gas industry in nascent oil states. The program is currently helping the Guyanese government write profit sharing agreements, environmental regulations, and develop a strong rule of law to counterbalance corporate power.”

An effigy representing Judas Iscariot, with a sign that labels it also as “Mr. Exxon”, referred to the Texas-based Exxon Mobil oil corporation, is burned during Holy Week in Caracas, March 23, 2008. (AP/Howard Yanes)

 

In other words, the U.S. State Department oversees the program that is literally writing the regulatory and financial architecture that will govern energy extraction in Guyana. And Tillerson, the former CEO for ExxonMobil, is the top official at the State Department. The conflict of interest is clear as day.

Indeed, ExxonMobil has effectively made Guyana into a subsidiary.  As the Washington Post noted:

“…countries such as Guyana that have no existing oil industry are considered ‘frontier’ locations, and typically offer the most lucrative terms to foreign companies willing to invest.  Guyana’s foreign partners stand to earn 60 to 65 percent of profits… a far larger share than what more established nations are willing to offer investors.”

Does anyone really believe that the State Department is not going to target Venezuela when it is led by a man who has fomented conflict with Venezuela, is raking in billions from Venezuela’s neighbor and has a long-standing vendetta against the Bolivarian Republic?

In fact, Tillerson’s oil goons have already uncorked the champagne numerous times this year, having announced multiple oil finds off the coast that are worth billions. Naturally, this is as much political as economic. For Tillerson and Trump, every barrel of oil extracted from Guyana is a thumb in the eye of the Venezuelan government.

Oil as a geopolitical weapon

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fist bumps a worker of the state-run oil company PDVSA during a visit to the Orinoco oil belt in Venezuela in 2013. (Photo: Miraflores/AP)

 

However, it would be a mistake to assume that U.S. policy toward Venezuela revolves exclusively around the profits to be made by ExxonMobil and other oil companies. While that is undoubtedly a factor, ultimately it is about political leverage and strategy vis-à-vis rival powers and power blocs.

Consider the fact that Venezuela’s oil reserves alone account for roughly one-quarter (24.8%) of all proven crude oil reserves within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This makes Venezuela hugely influential when it comes to decisions about oil production and, consequently, global oil prices. And when you couple Venezuela with Iran, a key ally of the Bolivarian Republic, both countries together account for nearly 40% of OPEC crude.  Add to that non-OPEC member Russia, which accounts for 12.4% of global crude production, just behind Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and you begin to see just how significant these three countries are to global oil prices and production.

One must also consider Saudi Arabia, which closely trails Venezuela in terms of proven crude reserves (22% of OPEC reserves). The centrality of Venezuela should be immediately apparent. Installing a right-wing, pro-U.S. government in Venezuela would mean that the U.S. would effectively control, or at least have significant influence over, nearly 85% of OPEC production (Venezuela and the Gulf monarchies), thereby isolating Iran within the grouping. Put differently, Venezuela is the only thing keeping OPEC from being a plaything of Washington and Wall Street.

Russia and China also figure centrally in this calculation. With Venezuela under Washington’s boot, Moscow and Beijing would be significantly weaker, as they would have no influence over OPEC. Nor would they be able to satisfy each other’s needs alone – Russia needs consumer goods and imports far beyond what China can provide, and China needs energy and other raw materials far beyond what Russia can offer.

In effect, regime change in Venezuela would cut the legs out from under Moscow and Beijing.

An instructive example can be found in Venezuela’s neighbour, Brazil.  An oil exporter almost as large as Venezuela in terms of production – Brazil accounts for 3% of global crude production, while Venezuela accounts for 3.1%  – Brazil saw a quick political transformation in the form of a coup against the democratically-elected government of Dilma Rousseff, a coup that was orchestrated by right-wing elements in the country and their backers in the U.S.

And with the takeover of the government by the right wing and Goldman Sachs, Brazil’s oil exporting potential flipped overnight from a liability to an asset for Washington and Wall Street.  Trump and Tillerson seem to have a similar vision for Venezuela.

The Sino-Venezuelan partnership

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP/Andy Wong)

 

For decades, corporations in the U.S. saw Venezuela as little more than an American possession, an oil colony whose dependence on U.S. exports made it little different from a true colony in the traditional sense of the word. However, with the ascendance of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela ceased to be a dependent client of the U.S., and instead became a political adversary.

One key aspect of Venezuelan economic relations with other countries that has undoubtedly rubbed strategic planners the wrong way has been its ongoing partnership with China. Under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has signed countless deals with Beijing, many of which are based on an oil-for-credit framework wherein Venezuelan oil underwrites Venezuelan borrowing from Chinese banks. The Chinese cash has been used to stave off default and pay the financial obligations of the Venezuelan government.

Beyond that, Venezuela and China have inked agreements in the areas of energy, mining, finance, infrastructure and agriculture. There is also the Joint Chinese-Venezuela Fund, which finances infrastructure projects and economic development in the Bolivarian Republic.

In February 2017, China and Venezuela signed a raft of agreements, including the construction of a refinery in China that will process 400,000 barrels of crude per day, 70 percent of which will come from Venezuela. The deals totaled $2.7 billion.

China has also become one of the leading manufacturers of transportation in Venezuela, with taxis and buses being purchased or manufactured by the Chinese for the Venezuelan market. This tangible example of the Venezuela-China relationship illustrates the importance of Beijing to the daily life of Venezuela.

Unlike China, Russia has little need for Venezuelan oil.  However, the one other area of Russian economic might is critical for the Bolivarian Republic: weapons.

According to Rostec, a Russian state corporation involved in the sale of military hardware to Venezuela, the estimated value of Russia-Venezuela arms contracts is roughly $12 billion. From 2005 to 2013, Venezuela was the largest buyer of Russian weapons in Latin America, with roughly $11 billion in purchase contracts.

But Russia’s ties to Venezuela are not simply about mutual enrichment, there is also a somewhat predatory aspect to the relationship, one that is likely making observers in both Washington and Caracas wary.  Russia’s $1.5 billion loan to Venezuela in November 2016 came with the condition that the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA pledge a 49.9% stake in Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of PDVSA, as collateral for the loan.

This means that Russia’s state oil company Rosneft, run by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close friend Igor Sechin, could control much of Venezuela’s economic clout. Translation: Russia wants Venezuelan oil to use as leverage against the U.S.

Venezuela has become a geopolitical flashpoint in recent years. As the country has moved forward on the path of socialism and anti-imperialism, it has increasingly been targeted by a wide range of destabilization tactics, as well as the collapse of global oil prices in 2014 and 2015 that crippled the Venezuelan economy.

The future of the revolution?

A government supporter holds an image of Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez, during a march in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

 

Now, with Trump and Tillerson at the helm of the imperial warship, it seems that the target on Venezuela’s back has grown larger still. And with the right-wing resurgence throughout Latin America, strategic planners might feel that it’s only a matter of time before they achieve their objective: the destruction of the Bolivarian Revolution and a return to Venezuelan dependence on the U.S.

But while it seems that the U.S. is in control, there’s just one small issue – chavismo, the political ideology associated with the ideas and governing style of Hugo Chavez.

While Washington won’t officially admit it, there is a fear that any direct intervention in Venezuela could trigger a mass outpouring of anti-U.S., pro-Chavez sentiment.  The U.S. government hopes that Venezuela will collapse from within, thanks in large part to the millions of dollars spent by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy to fund the right-wing opposition and other anti-government interests.

The trouble is that, despite the economic instability and destabilization, tens of millions of Venezuelans have made it clear that they’ll never accept being put in colonial chains again. And as the right wing demonstrates and demonizes, defenestrates and destabilizes, the revolution continues.

The question in the coming months will be whether China and, to a lesser extent Russia and Iran, will recognize that relations with Venezuela are not simply about money and profit, but about gaining leverage against the U.S. Will Venezuela be seen in its proper context as the frontline in the fight against the U.S. empire? Or will it be left to fend for itself as the imperial dogs of war howl for the blood of the Bolivarian Republic?

Source*

Related Topics:

No Surprise – U.S. Behind Violence in Venezuela*

Venezuela Oil Union Workers Back Maduro’s Constituent Assembly*

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

Venezuela’s Opposition Activists Confess Being Paid to Promote Violent Protests*

U.S. Cries ‘Power Grab’ Following Venezuela Supreme Court Ruling*

Venezuela Maintains High Human Development Despite U.S. Engineered Economic Crisis*

Evo Morales Defends Venezuela against ‘Treacherous’ OAS Head*

World Bank to Reduce Venezuela Payout in Exxon Case*

The Caribbean Supports Venezuela against U.S. Interventionism*

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Blocks U.S. Regime Change*

One Way for U.S. to Keep More than an Eye on Guyana’s Oil*

How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

 By Go Paolo

Merriam-Webster defines art as “the use of skill and creative imagination in creating aesthetic objects such as paintings, music, and sculptures.”

But that is a superficial definition. Art goes beyond definitions but is what enriches life and touches each of us as individuals.  The rapid growths of technology and secularism have not deterred the importance of art but have made it more valuable as more people face stress and mental illness and are in need of the healing power of art:

How art helps heal mental illness:

A comprehensive study was done to prove the many benefits of the various forms of art on patients. Art forms such as music, visual arts, dance, and creative writing were used and produced encouraging results.

Reduces anxiety and stress

Music is one of the most powerful and moving art forms that even the great nihilist himself, Friedrich Nietzsche recognized its value. Listening to music was found not only to reduce stress but also anxiety. Noticeable improvements were made to patients’ well-being and relaxation and reductions in tension, cortisol levels, and heart rate. Making art also has similar effects as another

Making art also has similar effects as another study highlighted. This wasn’t limited to individuals who were excellent artists and the majority of the subjects admitted to having little experience when it came to any form of art. It harkens back to what Aristotle said that art isn’t about the outward appearance but the inward experience. Art is human expression and it’s now medically proven (to a degree) that it has health benefits.

Helps you focus on positive life experiences

Another study was conducted this time on the effects of visual art and it showed how patients; pain tolerance and threshold both increased when exposed to visual stimuli (and music). The study was inspired to help patients deal with the intimidating surroundings of a hospital.

Creating and being exposed to art helps generate positive thoughts. The American Journal of Public Health’s study described the impact of visual art on its patients as “filling occupational voids and distracting thoughts of illness” and “improving flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks.” A study from the University of North Carolina adds to this point emphasizing the healing power of positive emotions and how it forms and strengthens personal relationships and gives individuals more motivation to live.

Helps the body heal and stay healthy

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind – particularly your gut. Eating healthy, sleeping well, and doing physical exercises or yoga all contribute to a healthy bod. But you can also add experiencing magnificent visual imagery through art and nature to this list. A study from the University of California, Berkeley links this experience to boosting the immune system thus lowering chances of diabetes, heart attacks, and other illnesses, which may include mental illnesses.

Dr. Dacher Keitner of the university said, “the beauty promotes healthier levels of cytokines suggests the things people do to experience these emotions – walking in nature, losing oneself to music, beholding art – all have direct inlfuence upon health and life expectancy.”

Source*

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Will South Africa’s Downgraded Status Pull the Region Down?

Will South Africa’s Downgraded Status Pull the Region Down?

In April, Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded South Africa’s rating to junk status [GCIS]

Concern about the health of the South African economy and its impact on the rest of the continent has been mounting in recent days.

 

Following the sacking of revered Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in late March, South Africa’s markets went into a downward spiral as investor confidence took a beating.

A few days later, S&P Global Ratings cut South African foreign debt to sub-investment grade in April.

For its part, Fitch downgraded both the foreign and local currency debt to “junk” status.

Business experts believe that the downgrades will adversely impact the service sector in South Africa, already suffering from economic contraction of 0.3 per cent in Q4 2016.

Jessica Rees-Jones, executive director at civil society group Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, told Xinhua that about $10 billion will leave the country as investors search for more stable markets elsewhere.

Gordhan was well liked in the business community and his departure upset markets which saw his ouster as a threat to the strength of South Africa’s institutions.

He was replaced with 45-year-old Malusi Knowledge Nkanyezi Gigaba, who was previously the Minister of Home Affairs. He holds a Bachelor of Pedagogics in Education and a Master of Arts degree in Social Policy.

“The cabinet reshuffle [which included Gordhan’s firing] is an attack on the institution of the National Treasury (NT) and as such will trigger multiple downgrades,” warned Peter Attard Montalto, a prominent South African economist.

Such multiple downgrades will pressure South African companies, already reeling from a battered economy in the past three years, to decrease the level of investments they have in other countries in Africa.

Sectors such telecommunications service provision, retail, mining and real estate in neighboring countries are likely to suffer, experts warn.

For now, South African economists acknowledge that the country is in stagnation but are hoping to avoid a second quarter of contraction which technically would trigger a recession.

There are signs that the country will narrowly avoid a recession.

Official data showed that retail sales bounced back in March to 0.8 per cent year on year growth, beating forecasts of a 0.7 per cent contraction.

Better still, South Africa is emerging from one of its worst droughts and expects its maize harvest to jump 87 per cent this year.

The boost in maize output has pushed the International Monetary Fund to predict that South Africa’s GDP will grow by one per cent, not 0.8 as previously forecast, in 2017.

Source*

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