Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

Conservatives: We Didn’t Just Lose a Race. We Lost Our Bearings.

November 9, 2008

It is not exactly a blinding insight to note that the Republican Party has lost its way. The election of Barack Obama was simply the result of an intellectual decline that began with the start of President Bush‘s reelection campaign in the summer of 2003 and continued unabated, culminating in Gov. Sarah Palin‘s unabashed appeals this year to resentful, blue-collar Republican culture warriors.

By Dov S. Zakheim
The Washington Post
Palin’s error, John McCain‘s error and the GOP‘s error was to assume that a shrinking slice of the U.S. population could constitute an increasingly large and influential faction of the party. There are simply too few culturally conservative whites to sustain a national political party. At most, that community can contribute to a larger coalition; it cannot constitute that coalition on its own.

How did we lose our bearings so badly? In late 1998, when I joined then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s foreign policy team (famously dubbed the “Vulcans”), I was going to work for a man who stood for five key principles that many of us thought would underpin a national Republican majority for decades to come. Last week’s failure stemmed from my party’s failure to hew to these values.

The first and best-known of these was “compassionate conservatism,” exemplified by the insistence that no child be left behind in poverty and despair — a reflection of President Bush’s determination to improve the lot of underprivileged Americans, especially minorities.

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Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Created Economic “Disaster,” Now Considers Defeat

April 1, 2008

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was hailed then for his policies of racial reconciliation and development that brought education and health to millions denied those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe’s economy thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco.The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken over by weeds.

Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another third has fled the country as economic and political refugees and 80 percent is jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years and shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and fuel are chronic.

Today the ruling party may be facing ouster by the voters, if the election is honest….

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Brit World Bank Official: Vietnam Tackling Poverty

February 19, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – The well-known UK’s Banker magazine in February 2008 edition run an article in which the author, the World Bank’s country director for Vietnam, Ajay Chhibber said that the declining poverty rate in Vietnam is due to the country’s policy of inclusive development.

Over the past 15 years, Vietnam has achieved one of the world’s fastest declines in poverty. The country’s poverty rate-measured as the percentage of people who live below 1 USD a day-has declined from about 58% in 1993 to 16% in 2006 and 34 million people have come out of poverty. He wrote: “Steady and rapid growth in income (about 7-8% a year) has been a key factor in this reduction”.

But what marks Vietnam out from other-fast growing economies-such as China and India-is the combination of spectacular growth with limited increase in inequality. The Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has increased from 0.34 in 1993 to 0.36 in 2006-lower than in other emerging economies-which helps explain the dramatic poverty reduction. He said: “The depth of poverty, measured by what proportion of the poor are close to the poverty line, is declining rapidly, so we could expect many more people to escape poverty in the near future”.

He pointed out causes leading to the success in Vietnam

The secret of success

Firstly, unlike in many other countries, growth and poverty reduction has occurred in both rural and urban areas. While urban poverty is much smaller-about 4% of the urban population in 2006-rural areas have also seen rapid poverty reduction. In 1993, two-thirds of the rural population was considered poor, declining to one-fifth today.

Secondly, the reduction in poverty has occurred in all parts of the country. It is much lower in the Mekong and Red River delta than in other areas, but the decline in poverty has also been felt in the Northern Mountain and Central Highlands, where poverty is relatively higher. No region has been left out. Thirdly, poverty is much lower among the Kinh and Chinese people compared to other ethnic minorities. But even among ethnic minorities, while poverty remains high, it has shown a steady decline in the past 15 years,

Three factors have led to Vietnam’s inclusive growth so far-literacy, trade and infrastructure. Vietnam’s drive towards literacy began as early as 1945 and picked up through the 1970s and 1980s. A final major push for universal literacy was made in the 1990s, when provincial and commune-level literacy campaigns were launched.

He noted: “Today the country has achieved more than 95% literacy, higher than China and India, which has been a key factor in achieving inclusive growth”.

Vietnam’s openness to trade-at more than 150% (its trade ratio defined as exports plus imports over GDP) is one of the highest in the world and has been another key to inclusive growth. From a food deficit country in the early 1990s, Vietnam has emerged as a big exporter of agricultural products. Vietnam’s far-sighted bilateral and the World Trade Organisation trade agreements have also helped bring in huge levels of foreign direct investment-almost 16 billion USD, more than 20% of GDP in 2007-and made it a major exporter of apparel and light industrial products and wood products with huge employment benefits to the economy.

Finally, infrastructure-especially connectivity to rural areas, with one of the world’s most impressive rural electrification and rural roads programmes-has ensured that remote areas are not left behind.

Today, almost 95% of Vietnamese households have electricity connections, compared to only 50% in the early 1990s, and 90% of the population are within two kilometers of an all-weather road. This has allowed connectivity between rural and urban areas, to the major ports and transport networks, and access to radio and television, even in remote areas.

As Vietnam races toward an average income of 1,000 USD and middle-income status by 2009, the big question is whether the inclusive development pattern so far can be sustained.

The country must help its citizen access higher education, ensure that rural productivity is lifted as it industrializes further and that its ethnic minorities are provided opportunities to develop so they are not left behind. It must also build modern social safety nets for those who could be left behind and ensure that its growth does not come at the cost of its environment.

“But as it meets these challenges, Vietnam has left behind a record of inclusive development which others can learn from”, Mr Ajay Chhibber concluded.

–From the Communist, state-controlled media in Vietnam. 

Japan’s economic boom preys on young working poor

February 7, 2008
By Harumi Ozawa

TOKYO (AFP) – When Shuichiro Sekine tried out one of the new jobs being created in Japan, the world’s second richest country, he found himself at a warehouse sifting through industrial debris by hand.
“I was told to get on a mountain of industrial waste, full of a foul odour and dust, and separate it piece by piece by hand,” said union activist Sekine, recalling his undercover investigation.

“I was sent to a workplace like that as a total layman, without any instructions or safety measures,” he said. “Then I was told it was my own responsibility to protect myself.”

For an eight-hour day of tough, dangerous work in suburban Tokyo, Sekine earned 6,900 yen (60.50 dollars), just more than the minimum wage, after the company that dispatched him deducted a 500-yen commission.

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China’s Population of Severely Poor Equal To Entire U.S. Population

January 13, 2008
January 13, 2008
YANGMIAO, China — When she gets sick, Li Enlan, 78, picks herbs from the woods that grow nearby instead of buying modern medicines. This is not the result of some philosophical choice, though. She has never seen a doctor and, like many residents of this area, lives in a meager barter economy, seldom coming into contact with cash.
 “We eat somehow, but it’s never enough,” Ms. Li said. “At least we’re not starving.”In this region of southern Henan Province, in village after village, people are too poor to heat their homes in the winter and many lack basic comforts like running water. Mobile phones, a near ubiquitous symbol of upward mobility throughout much of this country, are seen as an impossible luxury.
People here often begin conversations with a phrase that is still not uncommon in today’s China: “We are poor.”

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The Insidious Nature of Human Trafficking: Vietnam

January 12, 2008
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 12, 2008
The government of communist Vietnam and a lot of their fellows in business with Vietnam are not going to like this much but it should be known that Vietnam is a state sponsor of human trafficking.The veneer of “disgust over human trafficking by the government of Vietnam” looks like this: a crackdown on human trafficking covers over Vietnam’s worst offenses. The article from Than Nien News on December 26, 2007 (see the article “Human Trafficking Crackdown in Vietnam” below) is a fine example of how the official, state controlled media paints a picture of righteousness and propriety against human trafficking inside Vietnam.The truth is that the communist government of Vietnam sanctions and profits from human trafficking.

Just yesterday, January 11, 2008, an article ran in Nhan Dan, a Vietnamese Communist State News Service, under the banner headline “Vietnam and Qatar Sign Labor Co-Operation Pact.”

The article states, in part, that an “agreement was inked by Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Qatar Minister of labour and State Social Affairs Sultan Bin Hassan Al-Dhabit Al-Dosari.”

Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan is a criminal who made a lot of money on this deal. She is a madam if you prefer kindness. In fact, she is a slave trader.

The article continues, “The Qatar government has licensed its businesses to recruit an additional 25,000 Vietnamese workers besides the current 10,000. The country plans to increase the number of Vietnamese guest workers to 100,000 within the next three years.”

There is no mention of any people from Qatar traveling to Vietnam to work.

Here is what happens to a “guest worker” who arrives in Qatar. Upon arrival, the “guest worker’s” passport and other papers are confiscated. The best looking young women are assigned to work in brothels and other businesses that are hidden by a veneer of propriety. Many of the girls are told they are “entertainers.” It doesn’t take long to realize this means prostitute.

Other women are assigned as “domestics” and work as maids in private households. These women are routinely raped or expected to “service” the master of the house regularly.

Anyone attempting to escape from this system of state sponsored exploitation will find his or her photograph published in the newspaper with a caption like this: “Hong Nguyen has run away from her rightful employer at 5623 Persian Gulf Way. She is a Vietnamese national without passport or travel documents. She is an illegal alien in Qatar. Any person coming into contact with this criminal should notify the police at this phone number: ( ****). Her employer has offered a reward for her return to lawful work in the guest worker program.”

When I passed the main state police station in Qatar, one of my hosts opined, “That is the building where people go in and never come out.”

Men who arrive in oil-rich Arab nations like Qatar suffer a similar fate. They work 14-20 hours a day in the most miserable conditions. American dogs have a MUCH better life than these human beings.

Another of Vietnam’s state sponsored human trafficking scams is the marriage brokering business. Young women are promised better lives, good money and a nice life style if they marry a foreigner. Foreign men line up to look over hundreds of pretty, young, naïve, willing and submissive women. The men are often from South Korea, China, or Taiwan.

The government of Vietnam makes a little money from every “marriage.” The men pay a fee gladly.

Once the Vietnamese “wives” are in their new homes in Taiwan or elsewhere, their passports are confiscated and they often become sex slaves. Abuse of these young people is terrible — too terrible to describe here.

If the young “wife” escapes, she has no local language skills and is unlikely to find a decent job because she has no documents and is obviously an illegal alien.

So it is our suggestion that readers dismiss the glowing reports from Vietnam and other countries engaged in exporting human beings for profit. That is called human trafficking and is one of the most despicable crimes against humanity.


“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
— Winston Churchill

Human Trafficking Crackdown in Vietnam 

Local authorities will intensify their operations in 2008 to stop the trafficking of women and children across the Chinese/Cambodian

Ministry of Public Security Vice Director of Social Order and Crime Investigations, Colonel Dang Quoc Nhat, said, women and children smuggling in Vietnam is very serious and complicated, requiring increasingly cunning methods.

As many as 900 human trafficking cases involving 1,600 traffickers and 2,200 smuggled women and children were detected from 2005-2007.

Police and border guards have also uncovered several rings that trafficked women and children from Vietnam via Laos to Thailand, Africa or Europe to be sex workers. Economic difficulties, unemployment and poor education, especially in mountainous and remote areas, were the major factors in the trafficking increase.

Adapted from: “Human Trafficking Crackdown.” Thanh Nien News, 26 December 2007.


Vietnam and Qatar sign labor co-operation pact

Vietnam to send 100,000 migrant workers to Qatar

Memo to Ellen: In ¼ of the World People Eat Dogs

October 20, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 20, 2007

Poverty. Homelessness. Disease. Death. War. Genocide. I can think of a lot of reasons to shed tears over the cruelty, injustice and violence of the world.

A repossessed dog doesn’t move me to tears.

In America “dog food” refers to something one feeds to a dog.  In other lands, the dog is people food.

The wealthiest nation and people on the face of the earth spend far too much time, effort and money in nail shops, hair salons and on Starbucks coffee. But what we Americans spend on our four legged buddies is staggering.

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) confirms the full scope of American “pet prowess.” For starters, few other nations even have a pet products association.

According to the APPMA, pet spending has more than doubled in America from $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $38.4 billion in 2006.

In 2006, American spending on pets was higher than ever:
–$15.2 billion for food
–$9.3 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medications
–$9.4 billion for veterinarian care
–$1.8 billion for live animal purchases
–$2.7 billion for other services

Many elderly folks now have their pet medications delivered right to their door.

Here are some additional facts from the APPMA:
–Total pet spending in America during 2005 was larger than projected with total sales coming in at $36.3 billion.
–Both veterinary care and other services had stronger than anticipated performances in 2005.
–New and expanded veterinary services such as joint replacement surgeries, delicate eye procedures, and senior health care helped increase total spending by almost 8 percent over 2004.

Other innovative new services continue to increase market penetration with pet spas and hotels, grooming, pet therapy and related services.

Hey, in China, dogs are people food.

“Both of these segments should maintain strong performances this year as pet ownership continues to increase especially among key demographic sectors including baby boomers and young professional couples,” said Bob Vetere, President of APPMA.
–Growth in the pet food sector performed as forecasted at 3.5 percent over 2004. “It is interesting to note that food continues to show growth not only in the expected high-end areas with vitamin fortified formulas, gourmet lines and natural/organic food but with the value-priced portion of the segment as well,” said Bob Vetere.

This has been a banner year for American dogs. Michael “Vick Dog” Vick, who raised animal cruelty to new heights, prompted the news media to shed light upon the cruel and abusive world of dog fighting. In a way, “Vick Dog,” though an unexpected bit of serendipity, helped publicize the dark world of dog fighting — and maybe this will in the long run make this evel practice obsolete.

For the past several days some Americans have been immersed in Ellen’s dog tragedy.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried said, “And we wasted so much time on the World Trade Center!”

Gilbert Gottfried

We recommend, if people really want to open their hearts and their wallets, that there are plenty of good causes that help people around the globe. And people are worth crying over sometimes.

Dogs: Not.

Note to Ellen: at the American chicken restaurant “Chic-fil-A,” the motto is “Eat more Chicken.”  In some parts of the world, they gladly say, “Eat more dog.”

Dog Rights in America versus Human Rights in Vietnam

Referendum leaves Thailand deeply divided

August 20, 2007

Bangkok – Thailand’s first-ever referendum has endorsed a new military-backed constitution for the kingdom but it was no landslide victory.

According to a final count of ballots cast, only 57 per cent of the people who bothered to vote Sunday supported the new charter, with 42 per cent rejecting it. And despite being the country’s “first-ever” referendum, the novelty value was insufficient to draw the masses to the polling stations.

Only 57.6 per cent of the eligible voters voted, far below the usual turnout at general elections. More worrisome for Thailand’s current leadership, some 62 per cent of the population in the north-east region rejected the charter.

The north-east, the most populous and most impoverished of Thailand’s regions, is also the political heartland of former populist prime minister Thaksin Shinwatara who was deposed by a military coup on September 19, 2006.

Bangkok, the central plains and the southern provinces, where the anti-Thaksin movement was strongest, approved the constitution while the north was nearly 50/50. Army commander-in-chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, head of the junta that ousted Thaksin, conceded that the referendum outcome in the north-east was “a lesson for the government to study.”

Political observes say the message is pretty clear.

“The problem is that after this result they (the military) are going to be very worried about the general election,” said Chris Baker, a political analyst and co-author of Thaksin The Business of Politics in Thailand. “If those who voted against the constitution were sending a protest against the junta and saying that they are going to vote for pro-Thaksin parties, then that is about 40 per cent of the constituency,” noted Baker.

Thailand is expected to hold a general election on December 16, this year, in keeping with the post-coup timetable set by the junta. Since the coup, the Council of National Security – as the junta styles itself – and its appointed “interim” cabinet have done their best to remove Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai Party from Thailand’s political equation. The military overthrew Thaksin on charges of mass corruption, undermining democratic institutions and dividing the nation.

Thaksin has been living in self-exile in London for the last year where he has kept himself busy, and in the news, by buying the Manchester City football club, which just happened to win its first game against Manchester United on Sunday – referendum day. In Thailand, Thaksin faces an arrest warrant for failing to testify in an abuse-of-power case against him and his wife Potjaman. Other corruption charges are pending.

Thailand’s Constitution Court on May 30 disbanded the Thai Rak Thai Party and banned its 111 executives, including Thaksin, from politics for the next five years. The old  TRT clique, however, includes another 200 formerly elected members of parliament, who are now gearing up to contest the December polls under new non-Thaksin banners. But the junta has already done its best to make sure that neither Thaksin nor some Thaksin-like politician will ever be able to rise to such a pinnacle of elected power again.

The referendum-endorsed 2007 charter, drafted by a military-appointed committee, has essentially weakened Thailand’s elected politicians and strengthened the hand of the bureaucracy and the military.

For instance, the 2007 charter mandates that nearly half of the Senate body will be appointed by a seven-person committee selected from Thailand’s judiciary. Besides dragging the judiciary into Thai politics, this will also give the Senate tremendous clout over the elected Lower House, including the right to launch impeachment motions.

“This will be a way of bring the elite into control,” said Jon Ungprakorn, a former senator under the elected system.

“The senate will become a place for retired civil servants,” he predicted.

Even more worrisome than the 2007 constitution is the pending National Security Act, also being pushed by the military, which promises to give the army commander in chief martial law powers above and beyond the prime minister.

“This act will allow the military to institutionalize themselves,” warned Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Thailand’s Institute of Security and International Studies.

One good outcome from the referendum’s lukewarm mandate for the charter, is that the military may now think twice about pushing through its frightening national security act. “I think they will be careful not to do something now that is going to stir people up, because now the country is totally divided, much more so than it was before the referendum,” said Baker.

Special Report: Laos

August 11, 2007

By Clifford McCoy
Asia Times
August 11, 2007

VIENTIANE – State-sanctioned tourism literature would have foreign visitors believe that your average Lao chooses to live a laid-back life surrounded by their beautiful temples, tall, verdant mountains, and colorful hill tribes.

But the growing number of Lao migrating from their villages to bigger towns and cities and on to Thailand seeking work either to support their families or in pursuit of the accoutrements of more modern living puts the lie to this idyllic image.

Somnolent, communist-run Laos has in recent years slowly but surely opened its once hermetically sealed economy to the outside world. That loosening, combined with the country’s crushing poverty, has provided a wide new opening for the region’s human-trafficking syndicates to integrate Laos into their illicit trade.

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