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Archive for 4 December 2011

You’ll have a free market – even if it KILLS you!

4 December 2011 19 comments

This is perhaps the clearest example of neo-liberalism forcing itself on nations that cannot resist the influence of western corporatism – even when it places people at risk from unsafe products,

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Whilst WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that Samoa’s enytry into the WTO would  “enable Samoa to participate more fully in the global economy and will provide the country with a predictable and stable basis for growth and development” – Otago Medical School Associate Professor, Nick Wilson,  was less than enthusiastic,

From a public health perspective the decision to allow turkey tails … will fuel the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease that are hitting Pacific Island nations.

Mean, a spokesperson for our Trade Minister, Tim Groser, supported lifting the ban.

Trade bans on selected items are unlikely to be effective in addressing obesity and health issues.”

Really?! So if a government allows an unhealthy product to be put on their supermarket shelves; and is then consumed by members of the public – Tim Groser is saying that’s ok?

That sounds like a fairly good rationale for legalising and selling heroin.

After all, it could easily be said that banning heroin is   “unlikely to be effective in addressing …health issues.”

Just what the South Pacific needs: more unhealthy food by-products distributed and sold cheaply, and which will ultimately result in yet more Pacifica peoples dying from obesity-related diseases.

Are we in the West proud of  ourselves, yet?

The greatest irony is that, in the 1970s,  New Zealand fought a diplomatic war against the French to stop atomic weapons-testing in the South Pacific, because of fears that radiation would harm the environment and ourselves.

What is even more obscene is that US corporate interests are quite open in their campaign to market unhealthy, destructive foods to low-income, under-developed societies,

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council welcomed the end on the ban, telling Bloomberg that it was the “consumers’ right to determine what foods they wish to consume, not the government’s.

Under the guise of “free choice”, corporate interests will peddle their cheap, toxic, foodstuffs to Pacifican people – and will reap profits, whilst local governments pick up the social costs of dealing with diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related diseases.

Surely by now, we in the West must be revelling in pride at this accomplishment.

This is the raw, naked face of unfettered free market capitalism that is not bound by morality, nor concerns for human welfare. This is profit-making without due regard to consequences.

And this time, the blood of Pacificans are on our hands as well; “Fiji banned mutton flap imports in 2000 and New Zealand responded by threatening to refer the issue to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).   New Zealand later withdrew plans to approach the WTO and the ban still stands (as of March 2009)”,

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I wonder how we might feel if another nation exported unhealthy products into our country – perhaps targetted at our young people – and we were powerless to stop it?

How would we feel, for example, if all restrictions on alcohol and tobacco products had to be removed at WTO insistence – because companies that manufactured those products were unhappy that their profits were being undermined?

We’d be pretty pissed, I’d guess.

But it’s ok if we do it to another country; to our neighbours in the Pacific?

WTO critics claim the Washington based International Food and Beverage Alliance, formed by Kraft, Coca-Cola and General Mills, is behind the pressure to end food type bans.

“This is not true,” spokeswoman Jane Reid said.

“(The Alliance) has had no involvement whatsoever in this issue.”

Yeah, right.

It is high time that New Zealand led by example and halted the sale of unhealthy meat by-products to our Pacific neighbours. Otherwise we are practically conducting war-by-poor-nutrition against the peoples of the Pacific.

It is time that New Zealand led an international  campaign in the WTO against rules that allow toxic foods to be sold without restraint.

International trade rules that favour corporate “rights” and unfettered trade are anathema to the values that we hold dear.  In the final analysis, governments are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their peoples – not to corporations and their profits.

Perhaps Tim Grosser; the National Government; the WTO; the International Food and Beverage Alliance; the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council; et al; would care to dine out on mutton flaps and turkey tails for a few years?

I guess not.

After all, they can all afford proper, nutritious food.

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Previous blogpost

Why did the fat kiwi cross the road?

Additional Reading

New Zealand’s impact on health in the South Pacific: scope for improvement?

Trade in Everything: Turkey Tails

Critics challenge exports of mutton flaps, turkey tails and expired eggs to Samoa

Nutrition Facts: Turkey Tail

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Racism, Rape, and Religion

4 December 2011 21 comments

Just when you thought the human race couldn’t possibly be any more insane than it already is, we find two stories. One is from the most technologically advanced, wealthiest nations on planet Earth. The other is from a semi-failed state that is like taking a Tardis trip 1,000 years into the past.

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Members at the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church voted Sunday on the resolution, which says the church “does not condone interracial marriage.”

The church member who crafted the resolution, Melvin Thompson, said he is not racist and called the matter an “internal affair.”

“I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil about a race,” said Thompson, the church’s former pastor who stepped down earlier this year. “That’s what this is being portrayed as, but it is not.”

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Melvin Thompson is adamant that  he is not a racist or prejudiced.

Of course not. Basing your beliefs on the colour of one’s skin isn’t racism. We all know that. Racism happens somewhere else.

Personally, I’m happy to dispense with the term “racism” and just use alternative terms. Like, ignorance.

There you go, Mr Thompson; you’re not racist, you’re just plain ignorant. Happy?

And from the other side of the planet, far removed from rural Kentucky, the human capacity for infinity craziness and cruelty carries on,

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Karzai’s office said in a statement that the woman and her attacker have agreed to marry. That would reverse an earlier decision by the 19-year-old woman, who had previously refused a judge’s offer of freedom if she agreed to marry the rapist.

Her plight was highlighted in a documentary that the European Union blocked because it feared the women featured in the film would be in danger if it were shown.

More than 5,000 people recently signed a petition urging Karzai to release the woman. She had the man’s child while in prison and raised her daughter behind bars, which is common among women imprisoned in Afghanistan.

A statement released by Karzai’s office says that after hearing from judicial officials, the decision was made to forgive the rest of the sentence she received for having sex out of wedlock, a crime in Afghanistan. The presidential statement did not say when the woman was to be released or how much prison time had been pardoned.

The woman told The Associated Press in an interview last month that she had hoped that attention generated by the EU film might help her get released. With the film blocked, she said that she was losing hope and considering marrying her rapist as a way out. She said her attacker was pressuring her to stop giving interviews.

About half of the 300 to 400 women jailed in Afghanistan are imprisoned for so-called “moral crimes” such as sex outside marriage, or running away from their husbands, according to reports by the United Nations and research organizations. Fleeing husbands isn’t considered a crime in Afghanistan.

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Ever wondered what a society ruled by  misogynistic village idiots would look like? Welcome to Afghanistan, circa 2011AD. Or 1011AD. Or 11AD. (Makes no difference, really.)

The only difference  between these two stories is that our American cuzzies have no excuse. They have unfettered access to education and 21st century communications. And when even Presidential candidates indulge in a bit of outrageous racism, is there really that much difference between the two cultures?

It’s amazing the depths of ignorance human beings can plumb, especially when they claim to have a god on their side…

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