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May 31, 2010

Some facts about Israel's siege of Gaza

Gaza's real humanitarian crisis - Focus - Al Jazeera English
Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law. Israel usually allows 81 items into Gaza, a list which is subject to revision on a near-daily basis. It is riddled with contradictions: Zaatar, a mix of dried spices, is allowed into the territory; coriander and cumin are not. Chick peas are allowed, while tahini was barred until March 2010. "Luxury goods," things like chocolate, are prohibited altogether. So are most construction materials, though Israel has relaxed this prohibition slightly over the last few weeks. The United Nations refugee agency has resorted to constructing houses out of mud because other building material are unavailable. And those products allowed to enter Gaza are permitted only in modest quantities. In January 2007, Gaza received more than 10,000 truckloads of goods each month; by January 2009, that number was down to roughly 3,000. A 2008 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that 70 per cent of Gaza's population suffered from "food insecurity." As Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported last week, the Israeli authorities allow little meat and fresh produce into Gaza, leading to widespread malnutrition in the territory.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law. Israel usually allows 81 items into Gaza, a list which is subject to revision on a near-daily basis. It is riddled with contradictions: Zaatar, a mix of dried spices, is allowed into the territory; coriander and cumin are not. Chick peas are allowed, while tahini was barred until March 2010. "Luxury goods," things like chocolate, are prohibited altogether. So are most construction materials, though Israel has relaxed this prohibition slightly over the last few weeks. The United Nations refugee agency has resorted to constructing houses out of mud because other building material are unavailable. And those products allowed to enter Gaza are permitted only in modest quantities. In January 2007, Gaza received more than 10,000 truckloads of goods each month; by January 2009, that number was down to roughly 3,000. A 2008 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that 70 per cent of Gaza's population suffered from "food insecurity." As Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported last week, the Israeli authorities allow little meat and fresh produce into Gaza, leading to widespread malnutrition in the territory.

May 21, 2010

Mythbusting: Was the Civil War really fought over slavery?

Archaeology Myth Conceptions | Archaeology Restoration | Chicora Foundation It's a common claim these days that the Civil War wasn't fought over slavery--or that slavery was one tangential reason the war was fought. That's bullshit. As the article below makes clear. When South Carolina seceded from the Union they issued a statement as to why. The statement is pretty damn clear about the reason.
Myth Conception 1. The Civil War wasn't fought over slavery -- most Southerners didn't even own slaves. This one is almost (but not really) true. In South Carolina, for example, only about 47% of the families owned African American slaves on the eve of the Civil War. So in that sense "most" didn't -- but that tells only part of the story. What did Southerners themselves say about the cause of the Civil War? The South Carolina Secession Convention adopted the Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina, written by Christopher G. Memminger of Charleston. In this document the secession of South Carolina from the Union was rested squarely on two factors: * the North's hostility toward slavery, and * the North's refusal to enforce the fugitive slave laws. In fact, in a 4-1 vote, the convention refused to even consider adding other issues, such as the tariff! One of delegates, Thomas Jefferson Withers, had earlier written: "The true question for us is, how shall we sustain African slavery in South Carolina from a series of annoying attacks, attended by incidental consequences that I shrink from depicting, and finally from utter abolition? That is the problem before us - the naked and true point." So the members of Convention pretty clearly realized that they weren't concerned about any issue other than their right to maintain, buy, and sell human property -- African American slaves.

May 16, 2010

White Primaries

White primaries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A bit from the history books. We're only one or two generations away from the South being a place where only white people were allowed to vote. It's easy to forget that sometimes.
White primaries were primary elections in the Southern States of the United States of America in which any non-White voter was prohibited from participating. White primaries were found in many Southern States after about 1890 and through the mid-1960s The use of white primaries were first used by Southern Democratic Parties in the late 19th century. Since the South was virtually a one-party system with Democrats being the dominant party, exclusion from the primaries was a de facto exclusion from the decision-making process. The white primaries were made law in many states in a "selectively inclusive" system that stated that only whites may vote in the primaries—or by legally considering the general election as the only state-held election and giving the party control of the decision-making process within the party.