5 Year Anniversary of BP's Deepwater Disaster- Houston Indymedia Radio- April 17th 015

 April 20th marked the 5 year anniversary of the start of BP's Deepwater Horizon massive leak into our Gulf. The BP owned, Transocean opperated oil rig leaked for 87 days, pouring at least 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, the largest marine oil spill ever. The initial explosion resulted in the death of 11 workers on the rig whose bodies were never found.

For the entirety of this show we talk about the effects of the spill. We are joined by Jayeesha Dutta from The Gulf Future Coalition, and Sheri Foytlin from Louisiana who was arrested April 15th, '015 during an action at BP's US Headquarters here in Houston.

Texas State Testing and the Opt Out Movement- Houston Indymedia Radio

Information on Texas State Testing and the Opt-Out Movement


Audio File #1 (April 24th show)

*announcements -
1:20 - 3:45

*State Testing
Interview with Bob Schaeffer ( and Dan Kotch
3:45 - 12:30
17:30 - 30:00


Audio File #2 (April 10th show)

*Opt Out Movement
1:45 - 16:49

*Educators Speak Out Against English Language Learners and Special Education Students Taking High Stakes Testing
16:50 - 21:29

*Palestine Today
21:30 - 24:35

*This Week in Under-reported Headlines
24:35 - 30:00

Interview with Baltimore Activists- Houston Indymedia Radio- May 1st 015 show

Interview with Baltimore activists Marian (adjunct professor at Maryland Institute College of Art), Micheal (queer/trans and racial justice activist)

Find what you want to hear fast:

update on letter to Houston Independant School District parents from Dan Gohl
1:50 - 2:55

May Day this year &
history of May Day
2:55 - 8:44

Interview with Baltimore activists
8:45 - 30:00


Please support Houston Indymedia and Houston Pacifica.
Help keep us on the air!



World Bank and IMF Announce $1.1 Billion in Debt Relief for Chad

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank announced $1.1 billion in debt relief for Chad. The money comes through the IMF and World Bank's two major debt relief programs: the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Chad is the 36th country to receive HIPC relief and the first since 2012. Chad is the fourth-least developed country in the world. More than half its population lives in poverty.

"Debt relief for Chad means an investment in education and healthcare," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA Network, which advocated for the IMF and World Bank debt relief programs. "This is an important way to give Chad's people help."

As of 2013, Chad owed $2.2 billion to foreign lenders and spent over $100 million annually paying off debt. Prior to receiving debt relief, Chad owed around $800 million to the World Bank and $400 million to the African Development Bank. Chad also owes approximately $500 million to other governments. Under the relief plan, Chad receives $18 million in debt relief from the IMF, nearly $600 million from the World Bank and $236 million from the African Development Bank. Thirty-nine countries are eligible for HIPC debt relief. Qualifying countries must meet certain criteria and implement poverty reduction plans. Chad was granted relief even though it didn't meet all criteria. Critics of these plans argue that to qualify for debt relief, countries should not reduce any budget areas that protect vulnerable populations. The three other qualifying countries yet to receive relief are Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Barely one-third of Chad's people are literate and life expectancy is just 50 years. It has the third highest mortality rate for children under five years old. Chad's people endured a civil war from 2005 to 2010 that required a United Nations peacekeeping intervention. Chad also faces significant regional challenges. Chad's military recently intervened in Nigeria's battle against Boko Haram militants and more than 260,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur conflict live in camps inside Chad.

"Debt doesn't exist in a vacuum," noted LeCompte. "Chad has immense challenges and its debt burden worsens all of them. Less debt means more hope."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest


Armenians mark centennial of genocide in Lebanon

BEIRUT -- Lebanon’s third largest minority group marched to recognize the centennial of the Armenian Genocide north of Beirut today.

Armenian GenocideDemonstrators Stream into 5-lanes of Traffic

Tens of thousands of Armenians, Lebanese and supporters walked in the main highway running north of Beirut. They carried banners boasting “Armenian genocide we will never forget” written in Arabic, Armenian and English as hundreds of Armenian flags were raised.

The forget-me-not flower, emblematic of the Armenian’s quest for recognition, adorned clothes of participants and signs. Though 20 European and South American countries have recognized the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. Turkey continues to label the murders by the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1923 as violence part of the larger world war.Demonstrators carry signs, flags and the forget-me-not flower

The United States collectively has not recognized the events as a genocide, though 43 of the states have deemed it so. Senator Cruz (R-TX) called for the events to be considered what they were, a genocide. If Cruz initiates Texas’ recognition, only Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Wyoming remain.

While running for president, Obama campaigned to recognize the massacres as a genocide, but since has referred to it as Meds Yeghern, the Armenian words for “Great Catastrophe.” The State Department has warned against labelling the events as a genocide, which Turkey is sensitive to hear.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican last week when Pope Francis explicitly called the massacre a genocide. Turkey argues that the Ottoman Empire was collapsing at this time and that it, too, lost up to 8 million people in the battles of World War I.

Those who survived the genocide are few, but, multiple generations participated in the remembrance events which are occurring across the world.

Talar Adourian, 22, is an Armenian from Aleppo who has fled Syria to Lebanon. She recounted the tale of her grandparents-which is similar to many Armenians: “In 1915 my grandparents were living in [a] village called Birecik near to Anteb city in Turkey now. By walking from the deserts of Syria-Der el Zor-they arrived to Aleppo.”

Graziella Seif presents a wreath at the eternal flame outside the Holy See of Cilicia Catholic ChurchThe genocide began on April 23rd, 1915, when Ottoman Turks killed up to 300 intellectuals and political leaders in Istanbul. The following day Armenian men were massacred in villages across the Ottoman empire. Women and children were removed from the villages, forced to march through the Syrian deserts without food and water. Adourian’s grandparents survived the death marches, but, others were not as strong. She told me of the starvation and thirst many experienced on the route, some were pushed into rivers, others burned and more killed.

The Armenian community was approximated to be 2 million before the Great Catastrophe. Despite losing up to 75% of its population, today Armenians number 8,000,000, with the largest populations in Russia, the United States, France and Lebanon.

Basil Barsoumian spoke to me about the rewards of seeing multiple generations involved in Lebanon’s remembrance ceremony. “When you see a new generation and they are so interested. You are excited.” Barsoumian himself returned to Lebanon from Holland-where he has fled to during the start of Lebanon’s Civil War 40 years-to be with friends for the event.

“We celebrated the 24th of April here today.” Jack Semerdijan stated, as Barsoumian lamented not being in Armenia for the commemoration. “Armenian peoples didn’t forget that genocide and we will never forget about it.” Jack continued to paint a picture of how the memories are passed between generations: “It was amazing, you saw new generations, old generations, everyone walking. I saw a father who had his child held on his shoulder and this child was singing. This father is middle-aged and I’m sure he gives the history over to his son who is 6, 7 years old.”

Lebanon’s ceremonies involved many generations and are part of a larger year-long project of the Armenian Genocide Centenary Central Committee of Lebanon (AGCCCL) which has worked to involve not only Armenians but also Lebanese.

Music Antranik, a branch of the Armenian General Benevolence Union marches from Antelias to Bourj Hammoud in Beirut

“We had one scientific archive research seminar on archives all around the world. A scientific meeting was held at Haigazian University with public and middle east records found during the investigation,” Vatdre Nadarian with the AGCCCL stated. “We are not asking for a person to be held responsible, we are asking for recognition and retribution.”

The asks of the AGCCCL align with other Armenian communities in diaspora. The community wants the souls of those who have died to be recognized, but, they also want back the churches which are now in Turkey, as well as the land their families once had.


World Bank Announces Package of Aid and Loans to Ebola-Affected Countries

As the Spring International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings open, the World Bank announced $650 million of new grants and concessional loans to the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. About $220 million will be aid in the form of grants and the remainder will be in the form of highly concessional loans. Currently the three countries owe a combined $518 million to the World Bank. Liberia owes $105 million, Guinea $186 million and Sierra Leone $227 million.

“We urge the World Bank Group to consider bolstering their commitments with a new debt relief package for the impacted countries,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. “We applaud the new aid for the affected countries and hope that the World Bank can come up with some rapid response plan to address this kind of crisis much faster in the future.”

The new financing is through the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). The IDA determines its lending terms based on the borrowing country's risk of "debt distress."  The new IDA financing will be distributed as approximately 50% grants to Sierra Leone and Guinea and 100% as loans to Liberia. The loans will be repaid over 25 to 38 years. In February, the IMF announced $100 million in debt relief for the three West African countries and called on governments to contribute $70 million more. The IMF also set up a new debt relief fund for poor countries struck by natural disasters or health crises. 

"As a development institution, we need the World Bank to respond faster," said LeCompte, who serves on United Nations expert groups on debt. "It's ironic that the innovation for dealing with this crisis and future crises is coming from the IMF, whose mission is not development. World Bank innovation would look like a permanent facility to solely administer grants when the poorest countries face crisis."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people.

IMF Reports Debt and Human Crises Drive Uneven Growth; Global Stability and Economic Outlook Reports Released

 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its Global Financial Stability Report, noting "increased financial stability risks" in the global economy. The report notes that large-scale economic shocks are particularly concerning to global stability. It argues that such risks are greatest for countries with high debt levels and that emerging market countries must be prepared for external shocks. Particular concern is raised on the consequences of currency volatility, the shadow financial system and high corporate debt.

Grenada Reaches Debt Deal as Caribbean Mired in Debt Problems

Grenada Could Influence Global Debt Negotiations

Grenada agreed to a debt plan with its Caribbean island investors that will result in a 50% reduction in the value of existing Grenada investment bonds. The deal offers investors a portion of future revenues from a government program designed to attract foreign investment. Although the deal addresses about $262 million in debt, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that Grenada's total debt tops $907 million. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, nearly 40% of Grenada's population lives below the poverty line.

"Grenada's debt deal is a significant step in the right direction," said Reverend Sean Doggett, a spokesperson for the local Catholic Diocese and a founding member of Grenada's Jubilee Committee. Because of the correlation of debt levels to high poverty rates, Grenada's Jubilee Committee was organized by the Conference of Churches in Grenada to influence debt negotiations between investors, the IMF and the government of Grenada. "The Conference of Churches in Grenada continues to engage in this process and work with its partners in the region."

Other Caribbean islands are also dealing with unsustainable debts or attempting to renegotiate their debt levels. These islands include Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica and Jamaica. Jubilee USA supported Grenada's Jubilee Committee and last year religious leaders across the small islands formed the Caribbean Debt Network (CDN) to join debt negotiations on all islands facing crisis.

Due to the involvement of Grenada's Jubilee Committee and the Conference of Churches, Grenada's debt negotiations over the last two years with the IMF and with bond investors included provisions to protect the poor and stem austerity policies. Legislation to ensure budget transparency and responsible borrowing are moving forward on the island. A homegrown plan to curb corporate and professional tax avoidance was designed to protect public sector jobs. Additionally, those close to the negotiations say new investment bonds will include a "hurricane" clause as much of the island's economic woes are traced to a 2004 hurricane.

"Grenada is still dealing with high debt burdens," noted Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the anti-poverty group Jubilee USA. "This debt deal is a step forward as we work for more comprehensive solutions in the region."

Through various United Nations processes, including the Financing for Development process, Jubilee USA and Caribbean Ambassadors have argued for the establishment of a comprehensive and transparent global bankruptcy process to resolve the regional crisis.


Dwell Time...A Conversation With Eric Foner

"The meaning of "interdependence" requires a concept of dependency, "white"depends on the definition of black, and the meaning of "freedom" on the definition of unfreedom", writes Eric Foner in his introduction to his, The Story of American Freedom. "No study of a subject as complex and multifaceted as freedom", he continues, "can claim to be definitive." And it's his exploration of freedom, that delicate balance of its themes and vivid disassociations which run continuously through his writings.


« February 2016 »

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