Soaring food prices drive hunger around the world-by John Malvar

The 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on Thursday, revealed soaring levels of hunger among the poor and working populations around the globe.

The foreword, written by the heads of Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, the organizations responsible for the GHI, stated that the report “points to a dire hunger situation, a result of the toxic cocktail of the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly severe and protracted conflicts.”

Rising food prices are a critical contributing factor in the growth of world hunger over the past year. Rapidly mounting inflation and the disruption of the supply chain networks of global capitalism are driving up the prices of all basic consumer goods. The U.S. Energy Information Authority reported that nearly half of all US households who use natural gas to heat their homes will pay an average of 30 to 50 percent more this winter for heating than last year.

Cars line up for food at the Utah Food Bank’s mobile food pantry at the Maverik Center Friday, April 24, 2020, in West Valley City, Utah [Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]

Why Taiwan is an explosive flashpoint for a US-China war- by Peter Symonds

As the Biden administration ramps up its aggressive confrontation with China, Taiwan is rapidly becoming the most immediate and dangerous flashpoint for war between the world’s two largest economies—both armed with nuclear weapons.

The status of Taiwan has long been highly contentious and potentially explosive. However, for four decades, after the US and China established diplomatic relations in 1979, tensions over Taiwan were largely managed and contained within the framework of delicately balanced arrangements.

Beginning with the Trump administration, those agreements, diplomatic protocols and tacit understandings increasingly have been torn up—a process that Biden is accelerating. The most egregious step, so far, has been the provocative leak this month via the Wall Street Journal that US special forces have been on Taiwan training troops for more than a year.

In 1979, the US, as part of its arrangements with China, withdrew all of its military forces from Taiwan, broke off diplomatic relations and ended its military treaty with Taipei. The stationing of US troops on Taiwan is a flagrant breach of what has been the status quo for decades and calls into question the basis for US-China diplomatic ties.

To understand the great dangers posed by the Biden administration’s deliberately inflammatory actions it is necessary to examine the historical background. To justify its menacing military build-up in the region and the inflaming of this sensitive flashpoint, the US portrays Taiwan as a thriving democracy confronted with a growing Chinese threat of aggression.

In reality, US imperialism has never had the slightest concern for democracy on Taiwan or anywhere else in the region. Following Japan’s World War II defeat in 1945, the US helped install the dictatorial Kuomintang (KMT) regime of Chiang Kai-shek as the government of China. In October 1945, the US Navy transported KMT troops to Taiwan, which had been a Japanese colony following China’s defeat in the 1895 Sino-Japanese war.

The UK and the Pandora papers: A cesspit of the super-rich by Thomas Scripps

 

No one in the UK needed to be told that the Johnson government is beholden to the interests of the super-rich. Indeed, it is a government significantly made up of the rich and the super-rich.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has a reported personal wealth of £200 million, mostly in property. His wife has £430 million, mostly in shares in technology corporation Infosys, making her richer than the queen.

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hedge fund has brought him a personal fortune of well over £100 million.

Some way behind, new Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi has an estimated property portfolio of £25 million. Health Secretary Sajid Javid clocks in at £8 million.

What the Pandora papers add to this picture are the sordid details of the world in which such fortunes and ones vastly larger are made, hoarded and hidden with the UK at the centre of a network of legalised criminality. They confirm the utterly parasitic character of a ruling class which lives by looting the rest of society, to the tune of billions of pounds, while tossing chump change to its “elected representatives” for favours.

Three major donors to the Conservative Party have come under particular scrutiny.

Corporate lawyer and businessman Mohammed Amersi has donated £525,000 since 2018. His partner, Nadezhda Rodicheva, donated £250,000 in 2017 and 2018.

 

 Mohamed Amersi speaking at an online meeting of the Horasis think tank (Creative Commons)

 

The Pandora papers show that Amersi was working for Swedish telecoms company Telia during its involvement in one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals, involving millions of pounds paid to Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the then president of Uzbekistan, through an offshore company to secure influence with the country’s mobile licensing regulator.

Amersi handled the negotiations with Karimova’s offshore company. A Telia invoice for “success fees” for “Project Uzbekistan” records a payment of £500,000.

BBC Panorama has seen internal Telia documents referring to a consultant named as “Mr XY” paid more than $65 million over six years, including between one and two million a year for “lavish corporate entertainment”. Former Telia executive Michaela Ahlberg told Panorama that the consultant was Amersi.

In 2006, according to the Financial Times, Amersi was accused of seeking to “extort” $2 billion from a businessman on behalf of a Russian oligarch. In 2005, he received $4 million dollars for helping First National Holding acquire St Petersburg-based telecoms company PeterStar. The deal involved the “misappropriation” of Russian state assets, according to a Swiss arbitration tribunal. First National Holding was owned by Leonid Reiman, then Russia’s telecoms minister.

Another donor exposed in the Pandora papers is Viktor Fedotov, a former oil executive, whose companies Aquind and Offshore Group Newcastle have donated £700,000 since 2016. His business partner at Aquind, Alexander Temerko, has also gifted £700,000.

The papers show that Fedotov was a secret owner, through layers of offshore companies, of VNIIST, which several years ago made millions from an allegedly corrupt deal with Russian state-owned oil and gas pipeline company Transneft. VNIIST’s two other owners were Transneft executives.

Aquind is currently seeking UK government approval to build a £1.2 billion undersea power interconnector between Portsmouth and France.

The third Tory party donor cited in the Pandora papers exposure is Lubov Chernukhin, who has given £2.1 million since 2012. Lubov is married to husband Vladimir, a billionaire Russian businessman who served as a deputy finance minister between 2000 and 2002. The pair organise their financial affairs through a huge network of offshore companies.

These exposures follow the revelations earlier this year that Conservative Party co-chairman Ben Elliot has built on the longstanding “Leaders Group” of elite Tory donors, who donate a minimum of £50,000 a year and are rewarded with regular private dinners with senior government ministers. Elliot’s innovation is an even more exclusive “Advisory Board”, open to those who pay £250,000 a year, given access to monthly meetings with Johnson and Sunak.

Elliot, a nephew of Prince Charles, has raised £70 million for the Tory party, including a record £37 million during the 2019 general election. He is named in the Pandora papers in connection with using an offshore company to help fund a cricket documentary he produced with Ben Goldsmith, brother of Tory minister Zac Goldsmith, both heirs to their father Sir James Goldsmith’s billion-pound fortune.

A hue and cry has gone up in the British media over the Pandora papers, “access capitalism”, the offshore industry and the government’s turning a blind eye to corruption. The Guardian, which played a leading role in breaking the story, has insisted on the need “to hold politicians and their backers to account” and expose “conflict of interest when it comes to reforming the offshore economy.”

But there is nothing remotely reformable about the world glimpsed through this latest scandal.

The Guardian cheers the fact that previous leaks, the Panama and Paradise papers, enabled “governments to recoup more than $1.36bn in back taxes and penalties.” But it acknowledges in the same editorial that tax havens cost the world’s governments “anywhere between $400bn and $800bn (£293bn to £586bn) every year”. That is previous devastating revelations of corruption and the supposedly remedial action of the world’s governments clawed back a maximum of 0.34 percent and a minimum of 0.17 percent of the estimated total loss of taxes from global offshore operations.

The paper notes throughout its coverage, “there was nothing illegal about the transaction” and “there is no suggestion of wrongdoing” in reference to the lawful loopholes used to dodge billions in tax and avoid public scrutiny.

The figures named in the Pandora papers are only individual manifestations of a criminal social order, in which theft is routine and what does not count as corruption only reflects the extent of the legal privileges available to corporations, financial institution and the super-rich.

Britain is at the centre of this global racket. More than two-thirds of the companies identified in the Pandora papers are registered in the British Virgin Islands. The Tax Justice Network reported last November that the UK and its “spider’s web” of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were responsible for 29 percent of lost corporate tax worldwide. Including private taxes, the UK network is responsible for 37.4 percent of global tax losses.

Billions of pounds worth of dark money are invested in the UK’s property market. The Pandora papers revealed the owners of at least £4 billion worth of real estate held through offshore companies, including the King of Jordan and the president of Kenya.

Several million pounds of proceeds from Unaoil, run by the Ahsani brothers, fixers for multinationals in Asia, the Middle East and Africa involved in the “world’s biggest bribery scandal”, were also found to have been invested in property across the UK.

The family and associates of the president of Azerbaijan, repeatedly accused of corruption, have traded £400 million in UK property through offshore companies in the past 15 years. One £67 million building was sold to the queen’s Crown Estate.

Only a fraction of the truth has been revealed.

Over £170 billion of UK property is held overseas. Last December, a Home Office and Treasury Report moved the risk assessment for money laundering through the property market from “medium” to “high”. The document stated, “Corrupt foreign elites continue to be attracted to the UK property market, especially in London, to disguise their corruption proceeds.”

This is undoubtedly true, but the largest single group of owners exposed by the Pandora papers, over a quarter, were British. Among them is Tina Green, wife of retail billionaire asset-stripper, pension-raider and tax-dodger Sir Phillip Green, who is listed as the beneficial owner of 47 different British Virgin Islands companies.

Also referred to is former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, who quite legally avoided paying £312,000 in stamp duty when purchasing a £6.45 million property in London as an office for her business. The Blairs were able to do this by purchasing the offshore firm that owned it.

Coming on the heels of a major corruption scandal involving former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, Johnson and many of his senior ministers, the Pandora papers show the true face of capitalist “democracy”. An oligarchy gorging itself on the wealth of society, waited on by drooling politicians scrambling for a tip.

Workers in Vietnam forced to work to maintain profits of US companies by John Braddock

 A revealing article in the New York Times last month gave some insight into the way in which US corporations dictate the conditions under which the lives of workers around the globe are sacrificed for capitalist profit.


Garment workers in Vietnam [Credit: Chau Doan/United Nations Industrial Development Organization]

 “Retailers’ Latest Headache: Shutdowns at Their Vietnamese Suppliers,” by Sapna Maheshwari and Patricia Cohen, published on September 29, details how COVID shutdowns in the Southeast Asian country are affecting apparel and footwear supplies to US retailers as they head into their “all-important holiday season.”

Vietnam is the second-biggest supplier of apparel and footwear to the US after China. The pandemic, however, has forced many Vietnamese factories to close or operate at reduced capacity. American firms are facing disruptions of supplies, along with higher prices from shortages, labour restrictions and skyrocketing shipping costs.

164 children killed by COVID-19 across the US over the past two months- By Renae Cassimeda

The latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report shows that 22 children died from COVID-19 across the US during the week ending October 7, bringing the country’s official pediatric death toll to 542 since May 2020. Coinciding with the bipartisan push to fully reopen schools this fall, 164 children have died from COVID-19 over the past two months alone, with an average of 20 child deaths each week or roughly three each day.

The AAP report notes that last week there were 148,222 official COVID-19 infections among children in the US, a slight decline from the previous week but still as high as during the major surge of infections last winter. A closer look at the data shows that the only significant decline in cases occurred in the South, where cases dropped from an estimated 75,000 to 50,000 cases, still horrifically high numbers.

 

 PS 245 elementary school in New York City, September 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

 Ongoing infection in children has had devastating reverberations for families, including child deaths as well as hospitalizations and deaths among family members. A recent study revealed that an estimated 140,000 children in the US have lost a caregiver to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, while the global figure stands at more than 1.56 million.

The Wuhan lab libel: The Washington Post teaches America to hate -by Andre Damon

 

On Monday, the Washington Post published an editorial reviving the discredited claim that COVID-19 is a biologically engineered virus created in China by the world’s leading coronavirus researchers, Shi Zhengli and Dr. Peter Daszak, with funding by the National Institutes of Health under Dr. Anthony Fauci.

According to this libel, the genetically engineered virus was accidentally released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the event was covered up through a conspiracy of the Chinese government and all reputable scientific authorities, who allegedly colluded to dismiss the lab leak “theory.”

 

 A view of the P4 lab inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen after a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

There is not a word in this editorial (“To prevent the next pandemic, we must find the source of covid-19. China’s stonewalling is unacceptable”) that has not been repeatedly disproven by scientists, international bodies and even the US government itself.

ராஜா மகேந்திரன்: ஊடக தாதா, அரசியல் தரகன் - சபார் அஹமட்

 

இலங்கையின் தொழில்துறையின் முன்னோடியான ராஜா மகேந்திரனின் மறுபக்கம் கசப்பானது. ஊடக தாதா. அரசியல் தரகன். தமிழ் பேசும் மக்களின் அரசியலுக்கு எதிரி. ஸ்ரீலங்காவின் Murdoch



மகாராஜா குழுமத்திற்கும் பாராளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் சுமந்திரனுக்கும் இடையில் லடாய் என்று சொல்கிறார்கள். மகாராஜா குழும சேனல் ஒன்றில் கடைசியாய் முழு செய்தியறிக்கை ஒன்றை எப்போது பார்த்தேன் என்று ஞாபகத்தில் இல்லை. 2010 களிலேயே இந்தக் கெட்ட பழக்கம் வழக்கொழிந்து போய்விட்டது. சாரத்தைத் தூக்கிக் கொண்டு நிர்வாணம் தெரிய கத்திக் கொண்டிருக்கும் குடிகாரனைக் கடந்து செல்வது போல அவசரமாய் ரிமோட் பட்டன் தாண்ட முன்னர் முடிந்தது. ஆனால் இப்போது சமூகவலைத்தளங்கள் கோலோச்சுவதால் இந்த ஓநாய் மலத்தையும் சகித்துக் கொண்டு கடந்து செல்ல வேண்டி இருக்கிறது. ஓடி ஒளிய முடியவில்லை. ஐ.ரீ. என் இல் கோபி கடே பார்த்துவிட்டு ரூபாவாஹினியில் செய்தி பார்த்துவிட்டு இந்த நாட்டு மக்கள் தூங்கச் சென்ற 90களில் தான் இந்த ஊடக மாபியா இலங்கையில் தடம்பதித்தது. இலங்கையில் முதல் தனியார் எப்.எம் வானொலி 'சிரஸ' ஆர்ப்பாட்டமாய் அறிமுகமாகியது. இது எப்படி என்றால் இறுக்கமான கட்டுப்பாட்டுக்குள் இருந்த ஒரு கம்யூனிஸ தேசம் ஒரே நாளில் தாராளமயமாக்கப்பட்டது போல அத்தனையும் மாறிப் போயின. எம்.டீ.வீ வந்தது. 98 இல் சக்தி டீ.வி வந்தது. கூடவே சன் டீ.வி நிகழ்ச்சிகள் குத்தகைக்குக் கொண்டு வரப்பட்டன. சிங்கள டிராமாக்களையே அதுவரை பார்த்து வந்த சிங்கள சனத்தின் வீடுகளில் சிரஸ டி.வி வழியாக ஹிந்தித் தொலைக்காட்சி சீரியல்கள் சிங்களம் பேசிக் கொண்டு நுழைந்தன. பளபளக்கும் ஆடைகளுடன் பங்களா வீடுகளில் நடமாடும் இக்கதை மாந்தர்கள் கோடிகளில் பிஸ்னஸ் பேசினர். பட்டுப் புடவையுடன் இரவு தூங்கச் சென்றனர். குக்கிராமங்களில் சீத்தைத் துணியுடன் இதைப் பார்த்த 80'S, 90'S கிட்ஸ்கள் வாய் பிளந்து நின்றன.  

இப்போது செல்லாக்காசாய் இருக்கும் சிரஸ அந்நாளில் அதீத பணப்புழக்கத்தால் கண்டதை எல்லாம் இறக்குமதி செய்து இங்கே திணித்து பாமர மக்களின் செல்வாக்கைப் பெற்றுக் கொண்டது. சமாந்திரமாக செய்திகளிலும் தனி அஜெண்டாவுடன் நுழைந்தது. 2000 ஆம் ஆண்டுகளில் ஆரம்பமாகியது மகாராஜா- சந்திரிக்கா சண்டை. ஒரு வருடத்தில் சந்திரிக்கா அரசு வீடு செல்ல மறைகரம் அப்போது மகாராஜா. 

2001 இல் ரணில் வந்தார். மகாராஜா-ஜேவிபி சண்டை களைகட்டியது. இன்று தேசாபிமான வேடம் போடும் மகாராஜா அன்று ரணில் -புலிகள் ஒப்பந்தத்தைக் கண்டு கொள்ளவில்லை. சிரஸ டீ.வி இல் வேலை செய்பவர்கள் எல்லாம் புலிகள் என்றார் விமல் வீரவன்ச. இரண்டு வருடம் வீரவன்சவை வைத்துக் கேலிச் சித்திரம் கீறியது சிரஸ. 

Soaring food prices drive hunger around the world-by John Malvar

The 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on Thursday, revealed soaring levels of hunger among the poor and working populations around t...