Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Institute for Policy Studies
Phyllis Bennis

Photo by Javier Manzano/ AFP
Photo by Javier Manzano/ AFP

The allegations of chemical weapons being used in Syria have given rise to a whole escalating campaign for direct US military intervention. That’s a very dangerous problem.

First, even though this issue is usually relegated to secondary or even tertiary consideration, let’s start with the “even if” argument. Use of chemical weapons is certainly a war crime; there are separate international laws prohibiting such weapons, and any use is undoubtedly illegal. But just what would be accomplished by escalating the rest of the war with more arms to the opposition side, or creation of a Libya-style US (or US-NATO) “no-fly zone,” widely understood as a way towards regime change? First step in imposing a no-fly zone, in the words of Robert Gates, then secretary of defense during the US-NATO Libya intervention, is an act of war. This time around, that means bombing Syria to destroy its anti-aircraft system. How many civilians would die in that bombing campaign, given the widespread presence of anti-aircraft batteries across the country? Continue reading Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Nigeria: Cardinal says country in ‘jeopardy’

Independent catholic News
By: John Newton

Cardinal John Onaiyekan
Cardinal John Onaiyekan

Nigeria’s leading bishop has told the European Parliament and other politicians that his country is being jeopardised by “the twin monsters of corruption and insecurity”.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need invited Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto to meet with officers of the European Union to reveal the scale of the problems facing one of the EU’s three priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cardinal Onaiyekan told the delegates: “Growing corruption and religious violence jeopardise the west African country of Nigeria”. Continue reading Nigeria: Cardinal says country in ‘jeopardy’

Q&A: The Security of a Nation Is Its Women

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Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA, said that further economic and social empowerment was needed to change the lives of women in Africa. Credit: Ravi Kanth Devarakonda/IPS

Ravi Kanth Devarakonda interviews NYARADZAYI GUMBONZVANDA, human rights lawyer and general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA.

GENEVA, May 7 2013 (IPS) – Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer and the general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA, knows what it is like to struggle against poverty and violence: she herself comes from a poor family in Magaya village in Murewa district, which lies northeast of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

But Gumbonzvanda has travelled a long way from her home. And she has spent much of her life trying to change the lives of women who were not as fortunate as she was. Continue reading Q&A: The Security of a Nation Is Its Women

U.S. Reforms Could Slash African Immigration Levels

Carey L. Biron
WASHINGTON, May 6 2013 (IPS) – Advocates for the African diaspora in the United States have stepped up a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress not to end a longstanding visa programme aimed at boosting immigration from “underrepresented countries”.

The programme, known as the diversity visa lottery, has in recent years been sharply tilted towards African immigration. Since 2008, immigrants from African countries have made up nearly half of the 55,000 randomly awarded U.S. work visas annually awarded.

Yet under a landmark bipartisan proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, released in mid-April and currently being debated in the U.S. Senate, the so-called DV lottery would be eliminated (see Section 2303 of the [ http://www.schumer.senate.gov/forms/immigration.pdf ]draft bill). Instead, it would be replaced with “merit-based” visas aimed at opening U.S doors to higher-skilled workers, particularly in the science, technology and engineering fields. Continue reading U.S. Reforms Could Slash African Immigration Levels

Rich Countries Drag Feet at Climate Talks

Stephen Leahy

 Floods devastated the Mauritian capital, Port-Louis, on Mar. 30 but locals can expect the island to be affected by more floods, landslides and cyclones in the coming years because of climate change. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Floods devastated the Mauritian capital, Port-Louis, on Mar. 30 but locals can expect the island to be affected by more floods, landslides and cyclones in the coming years because of climate change. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 7 2013 (IPS) – Another week of international climate negotiations ended in Bonn, Germany last Friday, but there was little mid-level bureaucrats could do when world leaders remain in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, say environmentalists.

“The main barrier to confronting the climate crisis isn’t lack of knowledge about the problem, nor is it the lack of cost-effective solutions,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Continue reading Rich Countries Drag Feet at Climate Talks