Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jatiyo Sramik Party Press release

Manob Bandhan of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Optical Traders Association

Are We Giant Suckers? While the US Blows Money on the Military, Europe Spends Dough on Social Programs




Hawks simultaneously argue that lavish U.S. military spending subsidizes Europe’s social welfare programs, and that we’re the smarter party in this deal.
June 17, 2011 |



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Last week, during his final European visit before retiring, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates blasted our NATO allies for spending too little on their militaries.

“The blunt reality,” he told an audience in Brussels, “is that there will be dwindling appetite” in the U.S. “to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources … to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.’’

It's not uncommon for American hawks to whine about those soft Europeans not shelling out enough dough on weapons systems. But let's take a look at what "defense" actually means in this context.

On average, wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development spend 2.5 percent of their economic output on their militaries. That's not peanuts with very large economies. Europe is shielded by nuclear arms in the hands of the UK and France (not counting the nukes we “lend” to Germany, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands under a NATO agreement). There are no nation-states likely to attack the continent anytime soon.

So Gates isn't talking about being “capable partners in their own defense” at all – not as long as the word “defense” maintains its meaning. Whatever one thinks about the intervention in Libya, for example, one can't argue that we're actually defending ourselves. What he's saying is that they're not ponying up enough to engage in far-flung conflicts in service of Western hegemony. In this, he is accurate – they enjoy the fruits of an international system dominated by the West without paying through the nose for it.

We do. The U.S. devotes 5.1 percent of its economic activity to "defense," but that only counts the Pentagon's annual budget. It doesn't include military and homeland security spending tucked into other areas of the federal budget. Just a few examples: the costs of maintaining our nuclear arsenal are part of the Department of Energy budget; caring for veterans is in the Department of Veterans' Affairs budget; foreign military assistance falls under the State Department's budget. It also doesn't include the costs of maintaining troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those conflicts will run us $170 billion this year -- enough to offer insurance to 35 million low-income people or provide renewable energy to 100 million households, according to the national priorities project.

American hawks accuse Europe of essentially using the United States' enthusiasm for spending a fortune on its military to subsidize Europe's more generous social safety net. And it is true that in 2008, the EU accounted for 26 percent of the world’s military spending, while the U.S., with an economy that‘s around 7 percent smaller, accounted for 46 percent of global military spending. And in 2007, we forked over 16.2 percent of our economy to finance our social safety net, which was 3.1 percentage points below the OECD average.

For their tax dollars –or euros -- they get universal health care, deeply subsidized education (including free university tuition in many countries), modern infrastructure, good mass transit and far less poverty than we have here at home. That may help explain why we have Tea Partiers screaming for cuts while Europe is ablaze with riots against its own "austerity" measures.

And while we outspend everyone on our military, among the 20 most developed countries in the world, the United States is now dead last in life expectancy at birth but leads the pack in infant mortality—40 percent higher than the runner-up. We also lead in the percentage of the population who will die before reaching age 60. Half of our kids need food stamps at some point during their childhoods. There's certainly a modest difference in priorities dividing the Atlantic, but common sense suggests that we're the ones who have it all wrong.

Turkey’s election, and democracy's shadow Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF versionFacebookTwitter Gareth Jenkins, 21 June 2011

The third successive victory of Turkey’s ruling party confirms its domination of the country’s political landscape. But a close study of the AKP's evolving methods of rule reinforces grave doubts about the direction of Turkish democracy, says Gareth Jenkins.
About the author

Gareth Jenkins is a non-resident senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, a transatlantic research and policy initiative between the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. He has been based in Istanbul since 1989, working as journalist, author and analyst; his special fields of interest are civil-military relations, terrorism and security issues, energy and political Islam

Gareth Jenkins’s publications include Context and Circumstance: The Turkish Military and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2001); Turkey and Northern Iraq: An Overview (Jamestown Foundation, February 2008); Political Islam in Turkey: Running West, Heading East? (Palgrave, 2008); and Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation (Silk Road Paper, August 2009)

In the general election of 12 June 2011, Turkey’s ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) won a third successive term in power, taking nearly half of the popular vote and 326 seats in Turkey’s 550-member unicameral parliament. The result is a personal triumph for prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for nearly a decade.

But it is debatable whether, as AKP officials enthusiastically proclaimed in the days following the polls, it is also a “victory” for what they describe as their party’s commitment to “advanced democracy”. Indeed, there are reasons to fear that, far from advancing democracy in Turkey, the size and nature of the AKP’s electoral victory could accelerate democracy’s continuing retreat.

The campaign ambition

The victor in the election of 12 June 2011 was never in doubt. In recent years, there has been a marked consolidation in Turks’ voting preferences. The once large number of floating voters has dwindled in favour of greater allegiance to a particular political party. All of the main opinion polls suggested on the eve of the election that the AKP would win with 45%-50%. The only question was whether it would secure enough seats in parliament to be able to draft its own constitution. Under Turkish law, a new constitution can be promulgated through parliament if it is supported by 367 of the assembly’s members. If it has the support of 330 deputies, then it can be put to a public referendum.

Nobody doubts that Turkey’s current constitution, which was promulgated in 1982 during a period of military rule, needs to be overhauled. The issue is what will come in its place. Since the referendum over constitutional amendments in September 2010, Erdogan has repeatedly made it clear that he believes that the new constitution should include a transition from a parliamentary system to one in which political power is concentrated in the office of the presidency; after which he plans to have himself elected president for two successive five year-terms.

Turkey has an exceptionally high electoral threshold of 10%. As a result, Erdogan’s hopes of being able to draft a tailor-made constitution depended not so much on the AKP’s own vote as on the performance of the main opposition parties: the social-democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) and, particularly, the Turkish ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which opinion-polls suggested was running at 11%-12%. As a result, the AKP’s election campaign was built on targeting the MHP; its leaders instructed AKP supporters to do whatever was necessary to drive the MHP below 10%.

From reform to regression

After it first came to power in November 2002, the AKP pushed through a series of democratising reforms in order to meet the criteria for the opening of European Union accession negotiations. The changes also served to weaken the power of the secular Kemalist establishment, particularly the Turkish military, which had overshadowed Turkish politics for more than forty years (during which time it had overthrown four elected governments).

In 2007, after a clumsy attempt by the then chief-of-staff General Yasar Büyükanit to prevent the AKP foreign minister Abdullah Gül from being appointed to the currently largely titular position of president, Erdogan called an early general election. This was held on 22 July 2007, and resulted in a landslide victory for the AKP with 46.6% of the popular vote. Gül was appointed president in August 2007. In March 2008, the other bastion of the Kemalist establishment, the higher echelons of the judiciary, made a similarly clumsy attempt to ban the AKP on the grounds that it was trying to eradicate secularism. This too was unsuccessful.

Büyükanit’s failure to prevent Gül from becoming president demonstrated what many in the military already knew: namely that the generals’ once irresistible political power had diminished to the point where it was little more than bluster. Nor, although they remained an irritant, were the Kemalists in the higher echelons of the judiciary able to assert their control over the government. Thus, through late 2008 and 2009, did the AKP begin to realise - gradually at first, but then increasingly - that, for the first time since the 1950s, Turkey had a government which was not only in office but also in power. Freed from the fear of a military intervention, it was the first real opportunity for the AKP to prove the sincerity of its avowed commitment to democratic values. The results have been alarming.

Corruption and nepotism - always a problem in Turkish politics - accelerated and became more blatant. The AKP resisted pressure from the EU to make the awarding of public contracts transparent. State banks provided soft loans to enable AKP supporters to buy out the second largest media group in the country. The largest, the Dogan Group, was hit with over $2.5 billion in tax fines. In an attempt to avoid bankruptcy, the group immediately began to tone down its criticism of the AKP and to dismiss its most outspoken columnists.

Even more disturbing has been what has come to be known as the Ergenekon investigation. By June 2011, over 300 actual or suspected opponents of the government had been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation called Ergenekon, which is allegedly dedicated to the use of violence to try to destabilise the AKP. The investigation has been deeply flawed from the onset, riddled with abuses of due process and absurd conspiracy theories; and no convincing evidence has yet been produced that the organisation exists, much less that the accused are members.

The critics of the case allege that it is being run by pro-AKP elements in the police force, particularly followers of the exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen. But voicing such claims publicly has meant risking threats, smear campaigns and - for people ranging from a respected police chief to left-wing journalists - arrest and imprisonment on charges of belonging to Ergenekon. Most Turkish journalists, faced with the twin threats of tax-fines and imprisonment, now (unsurprisingly) exercise self-censorship.

More flagrant has been what has become known as the Sledgehammer investigation, which was launched in January 2010. It claims that a cabal of military officers drew up a plan to stage a coup in 2003. The evidence that the documents on which the claims are based are forgeries is clear and irrefutable. But no attempt been made to identify the culprits; and even worse, over 200 serving and retired officers have been arrested and imprisoned in pursuit of the “investigation”.

The last throw

It was in this context that the general election was called for 12 June 2011. The last date for the submission of the parties’ candidate-lists was 25 April 2011. Two days after the deadline, two secretly-recorded videos showing MHP candidates engaging in extra-marital sexual relations were broadcast on the internet. Over the next four weeks, eight other MHP candidates suffered a similar fate. The videos had all been recorded on cameras hidden in private houses; something that would have required considerable resources in terms of personnel and expertise. But the police made little attempt to trace those responsible. Instead, in campaign rallies, Erdogan rigorously exploited the videos, claiming that they proved the MHP’s immorality and thus its unfitness to govern.

On 18 May 2011, Erdogan delivered a speech in which he warned of the consequences if people did not show him sufficient respect, noting that a general who had not stood up for him in March 2004 was now “paying the price”. The reference was to Lieutenant-General Engin Alan, who is currently in prison on charges of complicity in the alleged Sledgehammer plot.

At an election rally on 1 June 2011, Erdogan announced that there was an audio-tape of two Kurdish nationalists discussing whether to tell their supporters to try to reduce the AKP’s representation in parliament by voting for the MHP. The recording duly appeared on the internet two hours later. Under Turkish law, secretly bugging a private conversation without a court order is a criminal offence; as is publicising its contents when made with a court order. Erdogan made no attempt to explain how the secret recording of his political opponents had come into his possession.

On 12 June 2011, the AKP won 49.9% of the vote and 326 seats, ahead of the CHP with 25.9% and 135 seats, and the MHP with 13.0% and fifty-three seats. The remaining thirty-six seats were won by a bloc led by the pro-Kurdish Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), whose members had run as independents to overcome the 10% threshold.

An authoritarian turn?

The election results were greeted with relief by many who had been alarmed by the prospect of the AKP singlehandedly drafting a new constitution. Further reassurance came in the form of Erdogan’s declarations after the polls that the AKP would consult with the parliamentary opposition during the drafting of a new, more liberal constitution. But there are three reasons to suggest that such optimism is misplaced.

First, Erdogan made a similar vow after the 2007 election, promising to serve equally those who had voted for the AKP and those who had not; although the reality of the last four years has been very different. Indeed, on 12 September 2010, the AKP put a package of twenty-six amendments to the existing constitution to a referendum. Most of the proposed changes were genuinely liberalising. However, the AKP bundled them together with more controversial measures which would increase the government’s control over the higher echelons of the judiciary. The reforms were duly approved by a margin of 57.9% to 42.1%. The changes for the judiciary were implemented almost immediately, with the result that the higher echelons are now controlled by AKP-appointees. None of the other truly liberalising amendments have yet been implemented.

Second, even if Erdogan does initiate a process of consultation with the opposition parties, the latter are all vehemently opposed to at least some of his key demands - not least his desire for a presidential system. It is difficult to see how an agreement could be reached. It is possible that, after going through the motions of consultation, the AKP will attempt to persuade individual members of the opposition to defect to the government and give it the 330 seats that it needs.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the question of whether the letter of the law is still relevant in modern Turkey. All of the abuses which have characterised the AKP’s growing authoritarianism are illegal under Turkey’s existing laws and constitution. But they are still occurring. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the AKP’s election victory is not that it won but that it increased its vote. Although he will have been disappointed not to have secured 330 seats, Erdogan will also have noted that his growing authoritarianism has not lost him any public support. At a time when he is increasingly disinclined to listen to admonitions from the international community, including the European Union, Erdogan would appear to have little incentive to be any less authoritarian over the years ahead. 
 


Open Democracy

Proposals for a 'voluntary' web-blocking scheme leaked Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF versionFacebookTwitter Peter Bradwell, 22 June 2011

Ed Vaizey MP, the UK's Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries, has been hosting discussions for some months about how to take on policy for the creative industries. The main topic under discussion at these roundtables, which primarily involve copyright holders, ISPs and Internet companies such as Google, is a possible website blocking scheme for sites that allegedly facilitate copyright infringement. At issue in these talks are the rules that will govern what people are allowed to do and see online.

This week leaked documents from the discussions were sent to James Firth's blog, and published by Open Rights Group.

If confirmed as genuine, they outline proposals put forward by rights holders as to how such a scheme would work. They describe a 'voluntary' process that involves expedited court procedures with less-than-robust legal oversight, no definition of or evidence for the exact problem being addressed, and no consideration of the technical considerations and consequences of trying to block websites.

Exactly who would make the decisions in the proposed 'expert body' and council about what requires blocking is unclear, as is the role of the court in rubber-stamping those decisions.

It short, the proposals look at best unworkable and at worst, a dangerous and unaccountable infringement of liberty.

The core issue at stake is getting a proper legal framework for such decisions. This concerns more than just the rights of 'sites that facilitate infringement' or those running them. Copyright holders should have the ability to enforce their rights. But this has to happen in a proportionate way, in response to a clearly identified and articulated problem, involve proper due process and be considered in an open and accountable way.

The proposals do not provide the necessary safeguards and due process, failing to add up to transparent, necessary and proportionate measures. There is the risk that the wrong content or legitimate sites would be blocked, with insufficient recourse for those affected when that happens.

Where there is a danger of too much power being given to some interests over what is accessible, and where there are dangers that the wrong content is blocked, there is a tangible affect on what everybody can see online.

The Internet has become one of the primary mechanisms through which people express themselves and organise. The rules that govern the flow of information need to be water tight, fully respecting due process and in doing so respecting everybody's rights to freedom of expression. This is why the UN Special Rapporteur sounded his 'alarm' at measures in his recent report, echoing concerns about how censorship schemes work.

Clumsy, quasi-judicial and unaccountable website blocking is dangerous for exactly that reason. One hardly needs to look far to see examples of why a robust, clear legal framework for any website blocking proposals is crucial to ensure that rights to freedom of expression and access to information are not abused.

Slapdash proposals raise the risk of schemes that create a worrying precedent for how decisions about content blocking will be handled. Internationally, the filtering and blocking of content appears increasingly attractive to those wishing to curtail any democratising potential technology holds.

The UK should be taking a lead in developing responsible Internet policies that set an example to the rest of the world. That can only happen through clear, accountable and proportionate processes through which decisions are made about what all of us are allowed to see and do on the Internet. There is every chance to do so by rooting these proposals in evidence and a respect for due process and fundamental rights.

This is why we at the Open Rights Group asked for rights groups to be involved in the discussions right away. So far the roundtables have largely involved only rightsholders and Internet companies. It was only the most recent meeting that involved a consumer rights representative, Consumer Focus (their response to the blocking proposals they discussed is here. We are unsurprised to see proposals that do not properly take such concerns on board.

We are asking people to write to their MPs to ask them to sign EDM 1913, which calls for the government to take on board what the UN have said and reconsider the Digital Economy Act and its many proposed website blocking schemes.

We hope that as the government considers how to take forward its digital policy making, it draws on the fullest range of expertise and debate. It is not the right to steal music that is at stake, but the principles of freedom of expression that affect everyone.

Open Democracy

Support Our Efforts to Protect Wild Animals from Cruelty




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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Congratulating Newly Elected General Secretary of Chattra League(Kuwait Maitri Hall)Dhaka University

WE CONGRATULATE NEWLY ELECTED SANTA AKTER SEEMA AS GENERAL SECRETARY (KUWAIT MOITRY HALL), DHAKA UNIVERSITY.

ON BEHALF OF VANGA BASHI, FARIDPUR WE WISH HER EVERY SUCCESS AND PARTICIPATING DEVELOPING ROLE FOR COUNTRY AND NATION.


AKM AZAD
EK DOFA SATRA SAMAJ

Jatiyo Chttra Samaj Press Release

Press Release from Jatiyo Juba Sabghati

5 WikiLeaks Revelations Exposing the Rapidly Growing Corporatism Dominating American Diplomacy Abroad


One of WikiLeaks' greatest achievements has been to expose the exorbitant amount of influence that multinational corporations have over Washington's diplomacy.

June 21, 2011 |



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One of the most significant scourges paralyzing our democracy is the merger of corporate power with elected and appointed government officials at the highest levels of office. Influence has a steep price-tag in American politics where politicians are bought and paid for with ever increasing campaign contributions from big business, essentially drowning out any and all voices advocating on behalf of the public interest.

Millions of dollars in campaign funding flooding Washington's halls of power combined with tens of thousands of high-paid corporate lobbyists and a never-ending revolving door that allows corporate executives to shuffle between the public and private sectors has blurred the line between government agencies and private corporations.

This corporate dominance over government affairs helps to explain why we are plagued by a health-care system that lines the pockets of industry executives to the detriment of the sick; a war industry that causes insurmountable death and destruction to enrich weapons-makers and defense contractors; and a financial sector that violates the working class and poor to dole out billions of dollars in bonuses to Wall Street CEO's.

The implications of this rapidly growing corporatism reach far beyond our borders and into the realm of American diplomacy, as in one case where efforts by US diplomats forced the minimum wage for beleaguered Haitian workers to remain below sweatshop levels.

In this context of corporate governmentIn this context of corporate government corruption, one of WikiLeaks' greatest achievements has been to expose the exorbitant amount of influence that multinational corporations have over Washington's diplomacy. Many of the WikiLeaks US embassy cables reveal the naked intervention by our ambassadorial staff in the business of foreign countries on behalf of US corporations. From mining companies in Peru to pharmaceutical companies in Ecuador, one WikiLeaks embassy cable after the next illuminates a pattern of US diplomats shilling for corporate interests abroad in the most underhanded and sleazy ways imaginable.

While the merger of corporate and government power isn't exactly breaking news, it is one of the most critical yet under-reported issues of our time. And WikiLeaks has given us an inside look at the inner-workings of this corporate-government collusion, often operating at the highest levels of power. It is crystal clear that it's standard operating procedure for US government officials to moonlight as corporate stooges. Thanks to WikiLeaks, here are five instances that display the lengths to which Washington is willing to go to protect and promote US corporations around the world.

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One of the most significant scourges paralyzing our democracy is the merger of corporate power with elected and appointed government officials at the highest levels of office. Influence has a steep price-tag in American politics where politicians are bought and paid for with ever increasing campaign contributions from big business, essentially drowning out any and all voices advocating on behalf of the public interest.

Millions of dollars in campaign funding flooding Washington's halls of power combined with tens of thousands of high-paid corporate lobbyists and a never-ending revolving door that allows corporate executives to shuffle between the public and private sectors has blurred the line between government agencies and private corporations.

This corporate dominance over government affairs helps to explain why we are plagued by a health-care system that lines the pockets of industry executives to the detriment of the sick; a war industry that causes insurmountable death and destruction to enrich weapons-makers and defense contractors; and a financial sector that violates the working class and poor to dole out billions of dollars in bonuses to Wall Street CEO's.

The implications of this rapidly growing corporatism reach far beyond our borders and into the realm of American diplomacy, as in one case where efforts by US diplomats forced the minimum wage for beleaguered Haitian workers to remain below sweatshop levels.

In this context of corporate government corruption, one of WikiLeaks' greatest achievements has been to expose the exorbitant amount of influence that multinational corporations have over Washington's diplomacy. Many of the WikiLeaks US embassy cables reveal the naked intervention by our ambassadorial staff in the business of foreign countries on behalf of US corporations. From mining companies in Peru to pharmaceutical companies in Ecuador, one WikiLeaks embassy cable after the next illuminates a pattern of US diplomats shilling for corporate interests abroad in the most underhanded and sleazy ways imaginable.

While the merger of corporate and government power isn't exactly breaking news, it is one of the most critical yet under-reported issues of our time. And WikiLeaks has given us an inside look at the inner-workings of this corporate-government collusion, often operating at the highest levels of power. It is crystal clear that it's standard operating procedure for US government officials to moonlight as corporate stooges. Thanks to WikiLeaks, here are five instances that display the lengths to which Washington is willing to go to protect and promote US corporations around the world.

1. US officials work as salespeople for Boeing. The merger of state and corporate power is striking in a slew of cables detailing US State Department officials acting as marketing agents on behalf of one lucky corporation. Earlier this year the New York Times revealed details about how US diplomats have actively promoted the sale of commercial jets built by the US company Boeing.

Hundreds of cables from WikiLeaks show that Boeing had a sales force of US diplomats that went up to the highest levels of government, even going as far as sabotaging sales for Boeing's European rival Airbus. Enticing deals for the jetliners were offered to heads of state and airline executives in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkey and other countries. The WikiLeaks documents also suggest that demands for bribes, or at least payment to suspicious intermediaries, still take place.

In a deal that was valued at about $3.4 billion, the US Embassy in Istanbul pushed for the sale of Boeing jetliners to Turkish Airlines (THY), according to a cable from January 2010. In return, the president of Turkey asked the Obama administration to let a Turkish astronaut sit in on a NASA space flight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011




The Sexual and Reproductive Health of Younger Adolescents: Research Issues in Developing Countries
This publication reviews quantitative and qualitative evidence on adolescents' sexual and reproductive health from a number of developing countries and, where possible, highlights findings for boys and girls aged under 15 years in those studies. The review is organized around six interwoven processes that mark girls' and boys' passage through adolescence, with an emphasis on the early years. The concluding section brings together a number of research topics and approaches that could form the basis of a coordinated multicountry research agenda for young adolescents' sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Download

Speaking Out
Speaking Out: A Toolkit for MSM-Led HIV and AIDS Advocacy
Speaking Out is an advocacy toolkit created to address the urgent need for men who have sex with men (MSM) everywhere to engage in advocacy locally, nationally, and globally to end the HIV epidemic and promote their human rights. The toolkit equips individuals and organizations with tools and techniques that enable them to become advocates right now, whoever and wherever they happen to be.
Download

Opportunity in Crisis
Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV From Early Adolescence to Early Adulthood
This report, published by UNICEF with UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, ILO, WHO and the World Bank, describes the state of the epidemic in young people, the evidence for effective responses that address behavioural, social and structural challenges and prevent new HIV infections in young people.
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Health Rights and Gender Equality in Health Sector Strategies
Human Rights And Gender Equality In Health Sector Strategies: How To Assess Policy Coherence
This tool, developed in collaboration between WHO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is designed to support countries to strengthen national health strategies by applying human rights and gender equality commitments and obligations. It poses critical questions to identify gaps and opportunities in the review or reform of health sector strategies. Analysis tables include critical questions rooted in international human rights and gender equality principles to trace country commitments and obligations
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training Other Resources

Contraceptive Technologies: Responding to Women's Needs

This report, produced by the Guttmacher Institute, focuses on the three regions that together account for the majority of women in the developing world with an unmet need for contraception. The findings suggest that substantially bringing down unintended pregnancy rates in these developing regions will require increased investment in the development of new methods that better address women's concerns and life circumstances.
Download

What's Faith Got To Do With It? A Global Multifaith Discussion On HIV Responses
This collection of essays include responses from different faiths responding to HIV and engaging in discussions related to sex, sexuality and gender.
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HIV, Health And The Law
This paper, prepared by the Commonwealth HIV & AIDS Action Group and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, aims is to increase understanding of the legal frameworks that undermine the ability of countries to respond effectively to HIV.
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Unequal in Exile: Gender Equality, Sexual Identity and Refugee Status
'Gender equality' has become a mantra of the international humanitarian community. Organisations from United Nations entities to non-governmental and civil society groups are tasked with promoting gender equality in their policies and programmes. The rhetoric and guidance developed, however, continue to exclude gender in its broadest sense, for the dialogue, inclusive of LGBT persons.

Shock News:The Death News of Our National Press Culb President's Mother's Death

Yesterday we lost our another mother. She was mother of Bangladesh National Press Club

President's Mr. Kamal Ahmed Sobuz, suffered in serious ill and leave us yesterday.We

express from Muktidooth Media our deep shock for this news and pray to her departed

soul. Her dead body was graved in village Feni own residence. We urge to our all

followers, readers and well wishers to pray for her departed soul.


All journalist and media personnel expressed their deep shock on this news. Secretary General Mr. Abdal and other officials were present on that time.

Muktidooth Media

Monday, June 20, 2011

The dark side of democracy: autochthony and the radical right Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF versionFacebookTwitter Nira Yuval-Davis, 20 Ju

Racialised and forced migrants are the spectre of the 'other' in the autocthonic dream of the 'pure' otherless universe which we must confront. This border-zone is our political as well as our analytical challenge, says Nira Yuval Davis
About the author
Nira Yuval-Davis the Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London. Her latest book The Politics of Belonging:Intersectional Contestations will be published by Sage November 2011. She is an Israeli dissident and a founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and Women In Black, .

In 1990 Nora Rätzel and Anita Kalpaka organised an international conference on racism and immigration in Hamburg, Germany. The aim of the conference was to bring to Germany international scholars and activists against racism in order to point out that what was happening in Germany at the time - especially against Turkish migrants - was not ‘xenophobia’ but racism. As the term ‘racism’ was associated in Germany with Nazism, there was an obvious reluctance to use the same terminology in ‘new democratic’ Germany. Xenophobia, in comparison with racism, seems to be almost excusable – a ‘natural’ tendency of people to be suspicious of anyone they do not know or understand. However, the organisers of the conference – and rightly so – thought that by contextualising what was happening in Germany in the 1980s in both German history and similar international phenomena, and ‘calling a spade a spade’, it would be easier to confront and struggle against what was happening.

I’m not sure that their efforts actually resulted in lessening racism in Germany, which reached new heights after reunification, but in terms of coordinating European wide anti-racist activism and policies, as well as in terms of the hegemonic discourse in Germany itself, this conference made a significant contribution to the growing acceptance that racism was the appropriate term to use.

This was so, especially because as scholars like Balibar (1990), Phil Cohen (1988), David Goldberg (1990) and others (Anthias & Yuval-Davis, 1992) have argued, racism should not be identified just with constructions of ‘race’, but can take place whenever there are clear signifiers of boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – whether it in terms of skin colour, accent, religious dress, etc. Racialisation discourse, in other words, can use any construction of ‘immutable’ boundaries for the purpose of its two alternative but most often complementary logics: of exclusion (ultimately genocide) and exploitation (ultimately slavery). Scholars like Martin Barker (1981), Taguieff (1985) and Modood (1997) talked in the 1980s and 90s about the emergence of a ‘new’, ‘differentialist’ ‘cultural’ kind of racism, which, while historically and discursively echoed with heritages of race, colonialism, cultural and religious wars, essentialised the unassimilable cultural ‘other’ as endemically inferior and/or dangerous.

Interestingly, these days, we see again the rise of the term ‘xenophobia’ when attempting to describe the common elements of the rising ‘new European Right’ - such as in the article on openDemocracy by Back and Rhys-Taylor. In this the writers collude with the ambition of the leaders of these movements to detach themselves from the ‘old Right’, discarding race, descent and even culture as primarily signifiers of ‘the other’, replacing them with notions of strangers and outsiders, who do not belong, as they do not share both loyalties and values with those who do.

When we examine the literature on ‘the stranger’ we can see that Simmel (1950) and Schutz (1976) established two different constructions of actual relationships of strangers with the communities in which they live - of deviance and of ignorance. But as Sarah Ahmed pointed out in her book Strange encounters, the 'stranger' is a fetish, empty of any concrete content and can be filled by the imagination of the racist ‘insider’- already there before actually encountering the stranger. So the important task is not just to establish that growing populist movements throughout Europe and beyond have been blaming ‘the strangers’, the ‘asylum seekers’, and above all – ‘the Muslims’ for all the miseries and the real and imaginary threats on their lives, but to situate this phenomenon both historically and globally.

To do this I would like to introduce the term ‘autochthony’ which Peter Geschiere defines as ‘the global return to the local'. While ‘old racism’ basically constructed ‘the other’ as essentially racially different, and the ‘new racism’ constructed her/him as essentially culturally different, autochthony is a racist discourse which uses origin, culture and religion as signifiers of immutable boundaries like other forms of racism, but its focus is spatial/territorial, a mode of what Immanuel Castells called ‘defensive identity communities’, except that these days it often applies to majoritarian as well as minoritarian community discourses.

Part of neo-liberal governmentality is to remove expectations from most people, let alone guarantees of long term employment in the same place, or even in the same kind of work, or of having regular holidays and sufficient funds to live on in their pension. Other elements of the ‘risk society’ (Beck 1992) follow, including housing and place of living, networks of friends and even membership in a family unit. All these push people into memberships in Castellian ‘defensive identity movements’. These anxieties by majoritarian members of the society are also important, however, for policy makers who are using the deprivation of migrants and refugees rights as an easy way to appease these anxieties, and to reinforce a weakening sense of national ‘cohesion’. The basic underlying political issue here, however, is what the boundaries of belonging are, and to what extent the construction of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ in this debate continues to be naturalised. This is the context in which the rise of extreme right autochthonic movements needs to be analysed.

The UN, in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, has accepted autochthony as the French equivalent of indigeneity. However, given the way the term is often used in Francophone languages but also, for example, in Dutch, where the people are divided to ‘autochthones’ (those who belong) and allochthones (those who do not). I was persuaded to follow Geschiere’s differentiation between the two and this is the reason I do not follow Ruth Wodak's use of the term 'nativist' in her article on openDemocracy. Indigeneity will remain the discourse of marginal racialised people in settler societies claiming rights, while autochthony will be used in relation to the discourse of privileged hegemonic majorities defending access to privileges and resources. However, I would argue that these two constructions interpenetrate each other and one cannot totally differentiate between them in many historical locations. Although, as is the case with other political projects of belonging that construct notions of ‘custom and tradition’ and claim that their version is the only true version, autochthonic political projects of belonging claim to be eternal and pre-modern, they are as selective and contemporary as other political projects of belonging which celebrate pluralism and conviviality of difference.

Autochthonic political projects of belonging, however, are not only far from celebrating the conviviality of difference, but, as carriers of the claim of being ‘autochthone’ – ‘of this soil’, who really belong, they are not prepared to tolerate the ‘others’. They see in them a threat - which kind of threat or combination of threats changes in different locations – cultural, political, economic, genetic - and construct the relationship with them as a ‘zero-sum’ game: it’s either ‘us’ or ‘them’.

Geschiere rightly claims that ‘autochthony’ can be seen as a new phase of ethnicity, although I argue that in some sense it even surpasses ethnicity. While ethnicity is highly constructed and relationally and situationally circumscribed, there are limits to these reconstructions of name and history. Autochthony is a much more ‘empty’ category and thus more elastic. It states no more than ‘I was here before you’ and, as such, can be applied in any situation and constantly redefined and applied to different groupings in different ways. As Nadia Fadil in a recent IRR conference on Islamophobia, pointed out, in Belgium people of western origin like white Americans are not usually identified as allochthones.

On the other hand, a few years ago, a local theatre in my neighbourhood in London, the Arcola, ran a play called Crime and Punishment in Dalston which was based on dialogues the theatre director David Farr heard when he worked with local youth, which had to do with the enmity between Afro-Caribbeans, Turkish and Kurdish refugee communities in Dalson, in which the Afro-Caribbeans constructed themselves into the autochthones of Dalston . I heard similar discourses from some of my local black students when I was teaching the sociology of racism. The repudiation – accompanied by various ‘descriptions’ of the refugees such as dirty, lazy, and “have come to take our housing and our jobs” – was of a very similar character to the descriptions the white working class used in order to repudiate black people and their families fifteen or twenty years earlier. This of course is not a unique phenomenon, and the growth in gang warfare among different groups of youth from both majority and various minority groupings in most global cities can be seen as one form of expression of such autochthonic politics of belonging.

While the spatial/territorial notion of autochthonic politics of exclusion and belonging is very important when we come to understand specific local geographies of fear, it is crucial when we attempt to understand the specificity of contemporary extreme right politics in Europe and elsewhere, whose supporters continuously argue that they are not racist, although they are very much against all those who ‘do not belong’. The British National Party (BNP), for example, which used to be identified with older versions of racism, now describes itself in the party's constitution as the party of ‘the indigenous people’ of Britain who just happen to be white, getting their so-called scientific backing from the booklet by Arthur Kemp – Four Flags: the indigenous people of Great Britain’claiming that the genetic purity of the indigenous British people is higher than anywhere else in Europe – except that other similar parties in Europe make similar claims re their people.

On the other hand, in cases like the English Defence League, the organisation has formally both Jewish and gay sections and also includes Sikh, Hindu and Afro-Carribean members, something unimaginable in the older kind of extreme right organisations with neo-Nazi ideologies. For them, the line which separates between the autochthones and allochthones is different. As Trevor Kelway, the EDL spokesman, claimed: ‘An all-white group doesn’t look good. They can join the EDL as long as they accept the English way of life… those with multi-identities do not belong here...Stop the Islamisation of Europe!’ Interestingly, as we can see, the changes in the construction of the boundaries of belonging are not just ethnic and cultural but also sexual. The ‘pioneer’ of this change has been the gay leader of the Dutch rightist party Pim Fortuyn, who was murdered in 2002. Another significant development is that these days three of the leaders of this kind of extreme right parties in Europe are women, signifying a wider change of gender politics among the ranks of these parties.

Autochthonic politics of belonging can take very different forms in different countries and can be reconfigured constantly. Nevertheless, like any other forms of racialisation and boundary construction, the discourse always appears to express self-evident or even ‘natural’ emotions and desires: the protection of ancestral heritage, the fear of being contaminated by foreign influences and so on, although, as Geschiere points out, they often hide very different notions of ancestry and contamination.

The discourse of autochthony is closely related to that of indigeneity, although, as we have seen in the case of Dalston and the EDL, it expresses a politics of belonging that can also be adopted by those who would not necessarily be considered by some as indigene. To be an indigene means to ‘really’ belong to a place, and to have the most ‘authentic’ claim to rights over it.

The discourse of the multi-local and international movement which has been claiming recognition of the rights of indigenous populations in settler and many other pluralist societies is being co-opted, as we have seen with the case of the BNP, by movements of hegemonic majorities who find themselves threatened and injured by various facets of neo-liberal globalisation before, and especially after the global economic crisis, which creates conditions of existential, physical, emotional and cognitive insecurity for a growing number of people, from the hegemonic majorities as well as from migrant and racialised minorities, in the North as well as in the South.

The claim of indigeneity by members of autochthonic political movements is being used as an exclusionary mechanism of governmentality, aimed at establishing a double sense of promise of security and retainment of entitlement, which is conditioned by the containment and fixity of imaginary homogenous bounded reality from which all those ‘who do not belong’ are excluded. Politically this can lead to demands to block migration, deny citizenship to those who are already here, deport, and in its most extreme form, exercise a policy of ‘ethnic cleansing’. In such a discourse, the immutable links of people, state and territory is formulated in its most racialised forms.

It is important to emphasise, however, that this phenomenon should not be seen as confined only to the West. When I visited the Gujarat in India in 2002 as part of an international feminist delegation to investigate the gendered effects of the inter-communal violence there, I repeatedly heard the claim by Bharatiya Janata Party supporters that the Muslims have no legitimate place in the Indian society, as they are not indigenous but rather came there as invaders 500 years ago. Even less surprising, such claims of indigeneity are common in post-colonial societies, among the recent and most virulent ones have been those promoted by Mugabe in Zimbabwe, as well as in other societies in the South torn by different forms of ethnic conflicts.

Moreover, they can also become major forms of contestations among groupings of indigenous collectivities claiming rights – so much so that it is not uncommon for AmerIndian groups to use DNA tests in order to prove that certain groupings of indigenous people do not ‘really’ belong but were displaced from elsewhere – it is not their ancestors buried in these place and therefore they cannot claim the use of collective resources such as mineral rights for the local indigenous people. Such political dynamics can easily explain the preoccupation of people in many locations with archaeology as well as with ceremonies of burial, whether it’s campaigning for museum in the West to return skulls and skeletons taken during colonial time or Palestinians fighting for the right to be buried in the lands of their villages of origin (e.g Hajjaj’s 2007 film ‘The Shadow of Absence’).

Migrants, especially forced migrants, challenge the naturalised equation between people, territory and political community. Most develop practical, as well as emotional, multi-layered belonging/s claiming inclusion in the new territories and spaces to which they have migrated. Many, of course, are prevented from gaining spatial security rights where they live – they are denied permits to stay, to work and to gain formal citizenship. However, even if they gain these rights, their attachment to the societies from which they, or their parents and ancestors came from, do not usually disappear. The communication and transport revolutions of the age of globalisation have reinforced these tendencies. However, they have also reinforced what Michael Mann has called ‘the dark side of democracy’ which produce impetus towards ethnic cleansing and autochthonic spaces which are ‘otherness free’.

Hannah Arendt (1943) and, following her, Agamben (1994) claimed that refugees – and I would add, other ‘people on the move’ especially the undocumented ones – embody the border-zone between the citizen and the human. All too often the human rights of people are respected only if they also have formal state citizenships, and even among them, there is local and global stratification among those who ‘really’ belong and those who do not. Migrants, especially racialised and forced migrants, are the spectre of the ‘other’ in the autochthonic dream of a ‘pure’ otherless universe which we have to confront. This border-zone is our political, as well as analytical challenge.

Nira Yuval-Davis's new book The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestation

JAPA News of Newly Joined Political Secretary

News of joining in Jatiyo Party: Ruhul Amin Howleder, MP

Sunday, June 19, 2011

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The drug war is a failure, and it's time to bring it to an end.

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News on announced Strike/Haratl of the Committee to Protect Gas, Energay and National Interest of Bangladesh

Press Release from Jatiyo Party: Ruhul Amin Howleder, MP