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+++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++

 
BREAKING NEWS!!!
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05/06/2007 02:27 AM
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+++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
Saturday, May 05, 2007

Published on Thursday, April 26, 2007 by The Independent/UK
The Real Scandal At The World Bank
The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World
by Johann Hari

While the world’s press has been fixated on the teeny-weeny scandal over whether the World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz helped to get his girlfriend a $300,000-a-year gig next door, they have been ignoring the rancid stench of a far bigger scandal wafting from Wolfie’s Washington offices.

This slo-mo scandal isn’t about apparent petty corruption in DC. It’s about how Wolfowitz’s World Bank is killing thousands of the poorest people in the world, and knowingly worsening our worst crisis - global warming - every day.

Let’s start with the victims. Meet Hawa Amadu, 70-something, living in the muddy slums of Accra, the capital of Ghana, and trying to raise her grandkids as best she can. Hawa has a problem - a massive problem - and the World Bank put it there. She can’t afford water or electricity any more. Why? The World Bank threatened to refuse to lend any more money to her government, which would effectively make it a leper to governmental donors and international business, unless it stopped subsidising the cost of these necessities. The subsidies stopped. The cost doubled. Now Hawa goes thirsty so her grandchildren can drink, and weeps: “Am I supposed to drink air?”

She is not alone. Half a world away, in Bolivia, Maxima Cari - a mother - is also thirsty. “The World Bank took away my right to clean water,” she explains. In 1997 the World Bank demanded the Bolivian government privatise the country’s water supply. So Maxima couldn’t afford it any more. Now she has to use dirty water from a well her villagers dug. This dirty water is making her children sick, and she is sullen. “I wash my children weekly,” Maxima says. “Sometimes there’s only enough water to wash their hands and faces, not their whole body … This is not a nice way to live.” The newly elected socialist government of Evo Morales is planning to take the water back - and he is, of course, condemned and threatened by the World Bank.

Meet some more victims. I have met hundreds, from Africa to Latin America to the Middle East. Muracin Claircin is a rice farmer in Haiti - only he can’t grow rice any more. In 1995, the World Bank demanded Haiti drop all restrictions on imports. The country was immediately flooded with rice from the US, which has been lavishly subsidised by the US government. The Haitian government barely exists and can’t offer rival subsidies anyway: the World Bank forbids it. So now Muracin is jobless and his family are starving.

Some 5,000 miles away, Charles Avaala in Ghana is watching his tomatoes rot. He used to grow them for a government-owned community tomato cannery that provided employment for his entire community. The World Bank ordered his government to close it down, and to open the country’s markets to international competition. Now he can’t compete with the subsidy-fattened tomatoes from Europe. He, too, is starving.

How would Hawa and Maxima and Muracin and Charles feel if you told them none of this is considered a scandal, but business as usual?

These victims are not merely an anecdote soup; they are an accurate summary of the World Bank’s effect on the poor. Don’t take my word for it. The World Bank’s own Independent Evaluation Group just found that barely one in ten of its borrowers experienced persistent growth between 1995 and 2005 - a much smaller proportion than those who stagnated or slid deeper into poverty. The bank’s own former chief economist, Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, says this approach “has condemned people to death… They don’t care if people live or die.”

Why? Why would a body that claims to help the poor actually thrash them? Because its mission to end poverty has always been mythical. As George Monbiot explains in his book The Age of Consent, the World Bank was created in the 1940s by US economist Henry Dexter White to be a further projection of US power. The bank’s head is invariably American, the bank is based in Washington, and the US has a permanent veto on policies. It does not promote a sensible mix of markets and state action - the real path to development. No: the World Bank pursues the interests of US corporations over the poor, every time.

The bank’s staff salve their consciences by pickling themselves in an ideology - neoliberalism - that says there is never a conflict between business rights and human rights. If it’s good for Shell, it must be good for poor people - right?

This ideology also backfires on us in the rich world. In 2000, the World Bank was finally forced to undertake a review of its energy policies. It did its best to rig it, putting the former energy minister of the corporation-licking Indonesian dictator General Suharto in charge. Emil Salim was even serving on the board of a coal company at the time he was appointed. But - to everyone’s astonishment - Salim concluded by opposing the carbon-pumping oil and gas projects that make up 94 per cent of all the bank’s energy projects. He said they should be stopped altogether by 2008.

The bank’s response? It ignored its own report and carried on warming. The business climate, it seems, trumps the actual climate. Feel the heat.

While the elites huff and puff about Wolfowitz’s alleged small corruption and ignore his organisation’s proven immense corruption, there is something we - ordinary citizens - can do. In the summer of 2001, at the global justice protests in Genoa, I met Dennis Brutus, a former inmate of Robben Island prison alongside Nelson Mandela. He had been repelled by the bank’s actions in South Africa, and started his protests against them by asking a very basic question: who owns the World Bank? It turns out we do. Ordinary people in the West - through their trade unions, churches, town councils, universities and private investments - own it. The bank raises nearly all its funds by issuing bonds on the private market. They are often held by socially minded institutions, the kind who signed up to Make Poverty History. So, Brutus realised, we have a simple power: to sell the bonds and bankrupt the World Bank. “We need to break the power of the World Bank over developing countries just as the disinvestment movement helped break the power of the apartheid regime in South Africa,” he explained.

The campaign to make World Bank bonds as untouchable as apartheid-era investments has already begun. The cities of San Francisco, Boulder, Oakland and Berkeley have sold theirs. Several US unions have also joined. Even this small ripple has caused anxiety within the bank about the threat to its “AAA” bond rating.

In the Genoa sun, as tear gas fired by the Italian police hissed in the background, Brutus told me: “I lived to see the death of political apartheid. Now I want to live to see the end of global financial apartheid.”

This is the fight we should join. Not some petty squabble over which Washington technocrat is morally pure enough to lead the forces of subsidy-slashing and starvation.


[email protected] independent.co.uk

[link to www.commondreams.org]
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 03:47 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
Proverbs 30
The Words of Agur
1The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:
2Surely I am more (A)stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
3Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the (B)knowledge of the Holy One.
4Who has (C)ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the (D)wind in His fists?
Who has (E)wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has (F)established all the ends of the earth?
What is His (G)name or His son's name?
Surely you know!
5Every (H)word of God is tested;
He is a (I)shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6(J)Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.
7Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the (K)food that is my portion,
9That I not be (L)full and deny (M)You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be (N)in want and steal,
And (O)profane the name of my God.
10Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will (P)curse you and you will be found guilty.
11There is a [a]kind of man who (Q)curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12There is a kind who is (R)pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13There is a kind--oh how (S)lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.
14There is a kind of man whose (T)teeth are like swords
And his (U)jaw teeth like knives,
To (V)devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
15The leech has two daughters,
"Give," "Give."
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, "Enough":
16(W)Sheol, and the (X)barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, "Enough."
17The eye that (Y)mocks a father
And (Z)scorns a mother,
The (AA)ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young (AB)eagles will eat it.
18There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:
19The way of an (AC)eagle in the sky,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.
20This is the way of an (AD)adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, "I have done no wrong."
21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22Under a (AE)slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
24Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25The (AF)ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
26The (AG)shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
27The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in (AH)ranks;
28The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings' palaces.
29There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
30The lion which is (AI)mighty among beasts
And does not (AJ)retreat before any,
31The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.
32If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, (AK)put your hand on your mouth.
33For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of (AL)anger produces strife.

[link to www.biblegateway.com]
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 05:25 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
This here reminds me of what is happening now. This bit of history ultimately led to the drafting of the US Constitution. Banks and Bankers have always manipulated the masses into debt and poverty. Remember even Jesus said something about the money changers.

[link to en.wikipedia.org]

Daniel Shays's Rebellion was an armed uprising in western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebels, led by Daniel Shays and known as Shaysites (or "Regulators"), were mostly small farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes. Failure to repay such debts often resulted in imprisonment in debtor's prisons. A rebellion started on August 29, 1786. A Massachusetts militia that had been raised as a private army defeated the main Shaysite force on February 3, 1787. There was a lack of an institutional response to the uprising, which energized calls to reevaluate the Articles of Confederation and gave strong impetus to the Constitutional Convention which began in May 1787.
Contents

[edit] Background and causes

The rebellion was led by Daniel P. Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. The war's debt ultimately trickled down to individuals, in large part to small farmers. In addition, the tax system at the time — a direct capitation (poll tax) — was highly regressive, especially given the fact that there was a dichotomy in eighteenth century Massachusetts economy. Much of the western and central parts of the Commonwealth had a barter economy, as opposed to the monetary economy that existed in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Compounding the east–west dichotomy was the fact that certain mature western and central Massachusetts towns (such as Northampton or Hadley) possessed more developed monetary economies, whereas other towns (such as Amherst or Pelham) subsisted on a barter economy. As a result, to meet their debts, many small farmers were forced to sell their land, often at less than one-third of fair market price to eastern Massachusetts speculators. Loss of such property could reduce families to extreme poverty. It also often meant that such men might lose their right to vote since suffrage was often tied to property ownership.

Furthermore, Massachusetts rewrote credit schemes at the time to be administered by elected rather than appointed officials. These efforts were resisted and obstructed by wealthy and influential parties, led by men like Governor James Bowdoin. Governor Bowdoin had strong control of the government. Because of the property eligibility requirements for office at the time, when Bowdoin was elected governor many of the people in western Massachusetts were outraged by what they perceived as injustice.

As Scott Trask wrote,

[T]he nationalists took advantage of a propitious rebellion, that of Daniel Shays, a former Continental Army officer. Shays and other local leaders led an uprising of distressed farmers from western Massachusetts groaning under the load of heavy taxes assessed to pay the interest and principal (at face value in specie) of the state's wartime debt. During an economic depression, with farm prices low and foreign markets closed, the state government was taxing the farmers (payable in hard money only) to pay wealthy eastern creditors who had lent depreciated paper (accepted at full face value) to the state government for bonds during the war.

The farmers either could not or would not pay, and when they failed to do so, state judges were quick to confiscate their farms. The farmers organized into a militia and marched on the courts, which they closed. Seeing an opportunity, the nationalist leaders were quick to misrepresent the grievances and aims of the insurgents. They claimed that the Shaysites, and similar groups in other states, were radicals, inflationists, and levelers out to defraud their creditors and redistribute property, instead of being, what in truth they were, property-owning, anti-tax rebels who wanted to keep their farms.

Obviously, the nationalists wanted to scare the country into supporting a more vigorous government. George Washington was terrified. "We are fast verging toward anarchy and confusion," he wrote. His nationalist friends did their best to heighten his terror. Henry Knox wrote Washington of the Shaysites that "their creed is that the property of the United States" having been freed from British exactions "by the joint exertions of all, ought to be the common property of all." This was utterly false, but it did the trick. Washington agreed to be the presiding officer at the constitutional convention. Later, [James] Madison in Federalist No. 10 warned that without the strong arm of a vigorous central government, the states would be vulnerable to movements motivated by "a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property" and for other "improper or wicked project." The Massachusetts historian Mercy Otis Warren, a contemporary of these events, warned of "discontents artificially wrought up, by men who wished for a more strong and splendid government.[1]

[edit] Rebellion
The painting shows the Massachusetts "Regulators", Shays is seen sitting in front with his hat off.
The painting shows the Massachusetts "Regulators", Shays is seen sitting in front with his hat off.

Calling themselves "Regulators," men from all over western and central Massachusetts began to agitate for a change to a more democratic system. Initial disturbances were mostly peaceful and centered primarily on freeing jailed farmers from debtor's prisons. Shays gathered many outraged farmers for a meeting at Conkey's Tavern, where he vented his anger and said they should rebel. In the late summer of 1786, the conflict escalated into a statewide movement (excluding Boston) when armed Regulators shut down the unpopular debtors' courts in Northampton, Worcester, Concord, and elsewhere. Shays continued to hold meetings at Conkey's Tavern and encourage rebellion. Militia groups called out to confront the Regulators often refused to confront their neighbors or failed to muster.

What is striking about Shays' Rebellion is that, although there was a great deal of confrontation, there were few casualties or damages until the final battles. This was a political struggle of armed demonstrators. For example, in July, 1786, militia units had converged on Springfield, Massachusetts. There, instead of seizing the federal arsenal, they had merely paraded in the streets before a politely drawn up local militia.

The rebellious forces were led by a number of prominent local people. Although Daniel Shays, a farmer from East Pelham and a former captain in the Revolutionary War, was most often identified as the overall commander of these forces, in fact leadership was collective among a number of local leaders. For example, another key leader was Luke Day, the son of a wealthy family in West Springfield. This points to the fact that while the Regulators were usually characterized as rabble, they were, in addition to yeoman farmers and other small landowners, town leaders, members of prominent local families, and very often veterans of the Massachusetts Line including their officers. For example, in Amherst, virtually every key town leader was involved in the regulation in one form or another. Many had distinguished military records; Daniel Shays, for example, a former enlisted man who was eventually promoted to an officer, had been decorated by the Marquis of Lafayette and honored by George Washington himself.

Because of both the lack of a significant standing army and of statutory power to intervene in the affairs of the individual states under the government of the time, the Congress of the Confederation was prevented from sending federal forces. The state government had always relied on the militia for civil order, but it was helpless in the face of wholesale resistance. Due to a lack of funds and some empathy for the Regulators, the Massachusetts General Court was unwilling to approve the raising of a militia. After months of indecision and desperate for a solution, in late December 1786, Gov. James Bowdoin and a number of Boston-area bankers raised a pool of private money and hired some 4,400 mercenaries (later legitimized as a militia), under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln. When the Regulators heard about the army, they planned to return to the federal arsenal in Springfield for more weapons.

The rebels were divided into three widely separated regiments led by local leaders. Daniel Shays' unit was to the east in Palmer, Eli Parson's to the north in Chicopee, and Luke Day's across the Connecticut River in West Springfield. The plan had been to attack on January 25, but Luke Day decided to postpone that to January 26. His note informing his other commanders was intercepted. As a result, only two of the regiments arrived on the late afternoon of January 25, marching through some four feet of deep snow. Leading the small army were some four hundred "Old Soldiers" marching eight abreast.

Facing them were twelve hundred militiamen led by General William Shepherd, who had managed to keep the militia of Springfield and its environs from becoming Regulators. Shepherd had decided to seize the arsenal without authorization to keep it out of the hands of the rebels. He had deployed several of the arsenal's artillery pieces. As the rebels advanced, he ordered the guns to fire over the troops' heads. Instead of the rebels faltering as he hoped, they accelerated. However, the fire of the cannons panicked several inexperienced mounted troops behind the veterans, and more than a dozen fell from their horses. At that moment, Shepherd ordered his cannons to fire at "waistband height" as a hidden howitzer fired a load of grapeshot at their flank. Four men were killed — the first casualties of the rebellion — and many were wounded. The raw militia at the rear fled at that point, leaving the veterans alone. Seeing that they were now badly outnumbered, the rebels then retreated. The next morning, Lincoln's army of 4,400 arrived after a long march from Worcester through deep snow.

[edit] Defeat

Shays and his followers were pursued by Lincoln's now-legitimate militia to Petersham, where they were defeated on February 3, 1787. Shays and many of the leaders escaped to Vermont, where they were sheltered by Ethan Allen and other prominent Vermonters. Vermont Governor Thomas Chittenden is believed to have helped shelter these refugees, though he publicly condemned the practice. Shays himself was sentenced to death for treason, but he and many other leaders were pardoned by the newly-elected Massachusetts governor John Hancock. The breakup of this rebel army was followed by guerrilla warfare, including attacks on wealthy landowners, the freeing of jailed farmers, and arson. The last known battle of this kind was fought in South Egremont. In the end, only two men, John Bly and Charles Rose, were hanged for their part in the rebellion.

In exchange for amnesty, Shays' followers were banned from elected office for three years and were not allowed to serve on juries or vote. Eventually the force for the rebellion was dissipated both by an improving economy and by elections that replaced some incumbents with individuals sympathetic to the rebellion. These elections (despite the ban) included many of Shays's followers.

[edit] Effects

The rebellion was closely watched by the nation's leaders, who were alarmed at what they saw as an effort to "level" the inequalities the new nation was experiencing in the aftermath of the Revolution. George Washington, for example, exchanged dozens of letters through the fall and early winter of 1786–87, and it can be argued that the alarm he felt at the rebellion in Massachusetts was a strong motivation to bring him from retirement and work for a stronger central government.[2]. Most alarming for Washington and other early American elitists such as Samuel Adams and former general Henry Knox was the very real helplessness that the Confederation government had in the face of a rebellion that had nearly seized one of the few federal arsenals the country had. Adams was, in fact, so disturbed by the events of the rebellion that the once great advocate of revolution called for the deaths of the men rebelling against ostensibly similar oppression. He would state "In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of republic ought to suffer death."

However, not all founding fathers felt that the rebellion was a bad thing. On November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to New York senator William S. Smith saying,[3]

A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. …God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

In the aftermath of the Newburgh Conspiracy in 1783, the high cost of a standing army, and the country's discomfort with a standing army, the Confederation Congress had nearly completely demobilized the army. In the face of the increasing unrest through the fall of 1786, Knox ordered an expansion of the nearly completely demobilized Continental Army; by mid-January, he'd managed to recruit only 100 men.

Some of the nation's leaders had long been frustrated by the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. James Madison, for example, initiated several efforts to amend them, efforts that were blocked by small, but significant, minorities in Congress. Emboldened by his success in the Maryland-Virginia border dispute of 1784–5, Madison decided that decisions outside Congress were the only way for states to resolve their various commercial and other problems. Others within Congress worried that the government was too weak to turn back outside invasions, but the general sentiment against standing armies kept the power of the government small.

As an extension of process of working out problems between the states, Madison and others decided to call for a gathering of the states in the fall of 1786. The Annapolis Convention held in Annapolis, Maryland September 11 to September 14, 1786 initially earned the acceptance of eight of the states, but several including Massachusetts, backed out, in part due to suspicion at Virginia's motives. In the end, only twelve delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) appeared. The Convention did not accomplish much other than to endorse delegate Alexander Hamilton's call for a new convention in Philadelphia to "render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union."[4]

The events of Shays' Rebellion over the coming months would strengthen the hands of those who wanted a stronger central government, and persuade many who had been undecided as to the need for such a radical change. One of the key figures, George Washington, who had long been cool to the idea of strong centralized government, was frightened by the events in Massachusetts. By January 1787, he decided to come out of retirement and to attend the convention being called for the coming May in Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a new, stronger government would be created under the United States Constitution.
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 05:36 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
YOU'VE DISCOVERED THE REAL NATURE OF BUSINESS. SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
neti
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05/06/2007 05:39 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
I guess you know where that'll drive them next.
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 10:28 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
bump
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 10:31 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
the world bank
allows corporations to buy up water rights for WHOLE third world nations
then they people are required to pay half their income for the water they need to survive
and anyone who uses water without paying for it
is considered a criminal
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 11:24 AM
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bump
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 11:35 AM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
somebody needs to provide these people non electric water distillers!
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 01:24 PM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
there is a Mayan prophecy that says when water is being packaged the end will come. (it is being packaged now, but... as you see, this is becoming extreme form)
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 03:29 PM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
somebody needs to provide these people non electric water distillers!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 211081

or teach them how to make them
Anonymous Coward
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05/06/2007 03:33 PM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
If multi-nationals get richer monopolizing the natural resources of poor countries, their money will trickle down! Then they can buy water, make the multi-nationals richer, and more will trickle down. A virtuous cycle!
Anonymous Coward
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 205


Thank you for that little bit of American History. Such writings are severely lacking these days. This stuff has almost become forgotten history. Most Americans know more about the History of The Star Fleet Federation, or of the British Empire than they know about American History.
icey ice
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05/06/2007 05:18 PM
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Re: +++ The Bank is Killing Thousands of the Poorest People in The World+++
but but.. overpopulation! we're not doing it on purpose, but but... overpopulation! inflation! *insert other assorted abstract economic theory here*
Anonymous Coward
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05/07/2007 05:26 AM
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bump





GLP