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Sacred Ground: The Past and Present in Baghdad

Source: The New Internationalist

I am standing on sacred ground. Baghdad is a sharif city, with the graves of many Sufi saints buried in its much-contested soil. Near them are the graves of the Jewish prophets Ezekiel and Joshua. South of here, in Ur, the home of Abraham shares a barren plane with the site of the now reconstructed Sumerian ziggurat. And St Thomas sojourned in Basra, en route between Jerusalem and India.

But my friend Mohammed – a young Iraqi journalist who came of age during the invasion and the worst years of sectarian fighting – tells me, ‘We don’t visit the shrines so much these days. We are too busy visiting the graves of our loved ones.’ read more


Reading The Grapes of Wrath in 2010: Capitalism and Immigration

One of the most popular and well-written American books of all time, The Grapes of Wrath gives a very human perspective on the harsh lives of migrants, personified by the Joads - a family of poor sharecroppers from Oklahoma. Evicted from their family farm, just as the millions of Mexicans who have suffered enclosure from their land and become homeless and jobless because of NAFTA, the Joads travel to California in a desperate search of work, only to encounter the harassment of authorities and the hatred of the local population.


US Space Weapon Now Circling the Globe

The X-37 (Photo: USAF)
The US space weapon X-37 is now circling the globe in relative secrecy. It is an unmanned space plane that looks like a smaller version of the Space Shuttle and was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 22, 2010. This new weapon poses threats to global peace and risks sparking an arms race in space.

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The Battle for Thailand

Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

Nearly a week after the event, Thailand is still stunned by the military assault on the Red Shirt encampment in the tourist center of the capital city of Bangkok on May 19. The Thai government is treating captured Red Shirt leaders and militants like they’re from an occupied country. No doubt about it: A state of civil war exists in this country, and civil wars are never pretty.

The last few weeks have hardened the Bangkok middle class in its view that the Red Shirts are "terrorists" in the pocket of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, they have convinced the lower classes that their electoral majority counts for nothing. "Pro-Thaksin" versus "Anti-Thaksin": This simplified discourse actually veils what is – to borrow Mao’s words – a class war with Thai characteristics. read more

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US Environmental Protection Agency Should Ban BP

Source: The Progressive

As oil soaks the coast of Louisiana, the fingerpointing has begun. Government officials, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BP, executives are trading accusations. But the blame-sharing leads nowhere. A front-page story in The New York Times points to "the enduring laxity of federal regulation of offshore operations." The current disaster "has shown the government to be almost wholly at the mercy of BP . . . to stop the bleeding well."

Meanwhile, estimates of the size of the disaster keep getting worse. From the 5,000 barrels a day BP claimed and the media widely reported on the first day after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are now moving their estimates up to 25,000 to 80,000 barrels a day, with ten-mile-long plumes of oil spreading deep in the Gulf waters. No one knows for sure how much oil is pouring into the Gulf, but Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said on Good Morning America that there is no doubt it is the worst spill in American history. read more


Environment and Food in Haiti: Two Crises, One Solution

Peasant Movement Garden
In this interview, Haitian peasant movement leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste discusses the role that agriculture can play in Haiti in addressing both the environmental and food crises. The solutions he and many other Haitians propose reside in part in one set of policies and programs which can restore land and other riches of nature, and another set which can protect small-scale, sustainable agricultural production from agribusiness.