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Category: 1206DC (June)
What can we do? What is the next step? (June 30th 2012) What can we do? What is the next step? (June 30th 2012)

Mario Draghi the 64 year old Italian banker, economist and President of the European Central Bank has told European politicians that they should do a lot more to tackle the debt crisis, according to an Aljazeera article. The article states “He says the current setup is unsustainable and has urged member states to take immediate action towards developing a clear vision for the next few years. …warn[ing] that the structure of the euro currency union has become unsustainable and criticised political leaders, who, he said, had been slow to respond to a European debt crisis now well into its third year. “Can the ECB fill the vacuum or lack of action by national governments on the structural front? And again the answer is no, structural reforms don’t have much to do with monetary policy,” Draghi said, adding: “Can the ECB fill the vacuum left by the lack of euro area governance? And the answer is no. So, let’s ask: What can we do now? What is the next step? The next step is basically for our leaders to clarify what is the vision for a certain number of years from now.” …All of this has taken a toll on the value of the euro currency. It fell to its lowest level in almost two years against the dollar.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source World Economic Forum

Invest in Afghan people not foreign contractors (June 29th 2012) Invest in Afghan people not foreign contractors (June 29th 2012)

Michael Shank the American Vice-President at the Institute for Economics and Peace has co-published an article on Aljazeera with Congressman Mike Honda titled ‘Invest in the Afghan people not foreign contractors – The country’s post-withdrawal development plan should be handled by those who know Afghanistan best – the Afghans’. The article states “The truth is that development in Afghanistan is currently in the wrong hands. Tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money have been spent over almost 12 years in Afghanistan on development projects which were largely managed and implemented by foreign contractors and with little regard for long-term localised viability. It is now clear for anyone intimately involved in the reconstruction and stabilisation process that the key to building a strong state lies not in foreign contractors, but rather local village efforts connected to a Kabul command. To achieve a crucial state of regional stability, Afghans need peace, security and the right to self-determination based on their own social, cultural and religious values. In this spirit, it is problematic that the Afghanistan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development’s National Solidarity Program – out of which the highly effective Community Development Councils are run – remains stunted due to limited financial capacity…”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source

Wage Theft: A Crime Without Punishment (June 28th 2012) Wage Theft: A Crime Without Punishment (June 28th 2012)

Ruth Milkman the 57 year old Professor of Sociology “likes to tell the story of a hotel housekeeper and her tip-stealing boss because it brings together so many features of the phenomenon of wage theft, the subject of her research” according to Katha Pollitt in her article titled ‘Wage Theft: A Crime Without Punishment?’ published in The Nation magazine. Pollitt states ““She was an undocumented Mexican immigrant with four kids, very humble, and she worked in a brand-name Los Angeles hotel, …she worked more than forty hours a week, but was paid only for forty hours—minimum wage. The law says supervisors and managers can’t get any part of your tip, but she said her supervisor would go into hotel rooms and take the tips before the housekeepers came in to clean. She complained about not getting paid for all her hours and was fired.” Female, undocumented, low-wage, not paid for all her hours, fired when she complains—it’s an all-too-typical story. Low-wage workers in the United States face many harsh and demeaning circumstances—not being entitled to paid sick days, for instance. But there’s something particularly shocking about wage theft, an element of insult added to injury: not only does your boss pay you as little as he can get away with; he keeps a nice chunk of it for himself, just because he can.”


Inspired by The Nation image source

Small-donor base that was Greenpeace-proof (June 27th 2012) Small-donor base that was Greenpeace-proof (June 27th 2012)

Joseph Bast the president and CEO of the climate-change denial Institute ‘The Heartland’ is seeking to re-grow his sponsorship base following the effective campaign against his organization by conservation groups. Bill McKibben in an article for Toms Dispatch titled ‘The Planet Wreckers – Climate-Change Deniers Are On the Ropes — But So Is the Planet’ states “…Joe Bast, complained that his side had been subjected to the most “uncivil name-calling and disparagement you can possibly imagine from climate alarmists,” which was both a little rich — after all, he was the guy with the mass-murderer billboards — but also a little pathetic.  A whimper had replaced the characteristically confident snarl of the American right. That pugnaciousness may return: Mr. Bast said last week that he was finding new corporate sponsors, that he was building a new small-donor base that was “Greenpeace-proof” …it’s a hard fight, up against a ton of money and a ton of inertia. Eventually, climate denial will “lose,” because physics and chemistry are not intimidated even by Lord Monckton. But timing is everything — if he and his ilk, a crew of certified planet wreckers, delay action past the point where it can do much good, they’ll be able to claim one of the epic victories in political history — one that will last for geological epochs.”


Inspired by Tom Dispatch image source whoami-whoareyou

Cartels have a lot of bosses (June 26th 2012) Cartels have a lot of bosses (June 26th 2012)

Javier Sicilia the 56 year old Mexican poet, journalist and activist who launched a grassroots movement with aims to end the ‘War on Drugs’ after his 24 year old son was murdered by a drug cartel, has been interviewed by Connor Guy and Umar Farooq for The Nation magazine. Sicilia states “Cartels have a lot of bosses. We are talking now about fifteen cartels [in Mexico].  And they have multiplied since President Calderón’s [2006 military] strategy to make war on them. …A path to peace is to change the national security law to a human law for peace. And the allowance of regulated drug use, because its not a national security issue, it’s a public health issue, and attacking drug abuse is causing a tremendous harm to the country. …The US has forbidden drug use, which should be a public health issue. And then they set up for us this war. Over $2 billion have been invested in this war [on drugs]—mostly for guns, for weapons and military intelligence. …if we can get support from the media, we would be able to put this on the politicians’ agendas, because it’s a problem in the US and Mexico. It’s a bi-national problem. Not only that, it is a continental problem, and if we are really serious, it is a world problem.”


Inspired by The Nation image source Twitter

Brazil the next cop on the beat in Africa (June 25th 2012) Brazil the next cop on the beat in Africa (June 25th 2012)

Nikolas Kozloff the American writer and Latin American historian has published an article titled ‘Is Brazil the next cop on the beat in Africa? The Pentagon seems to hope so’ in which he argues that ‘any action Brazil takes in Africa should be based on peaceful cooperation and not military escalation’. Kozloff’s article on Aljazeera states “Facing budgetary constrictions and overstretched resources, the Pentagon knows that it cannot effectively patrol the entire globe on its own. …in Rio, Panetta [Pentagon] emphasized Brazil’s long held ties to Africa. Historically, Brazil was the largest destination of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and today a sizable portion of the country’s population is of African descent. …WikiLeaks cables suggest that some within the Brazilian political elite want to redirect Brazilian foreign policy toward Africa …Nevertheless, given all of the controversy about the US role in Africa, Brazil should firmly reject Panetta’s calls for closer military collaboration in the region. This doesn’t mean that Brazil should outright withdraw from Africa, and if anything the WikiLeaks documents serve to highlight the many shortcomings of the South American giant’s foreign policy on the continent. Hopefully, Brazil will become more engaged in Africa in the long-term, not less.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

Piyasvasti Amranand the 58 year old Thai former Energy Minister and President of Thai Airways International until his dismissal from this post by the board, has been profiled by aviation expert Tom Ballantyne in Orient Aviation. Ballantyne states “After cleaning up a carrier noted for its corruption and cronyism, and returning it to profit, THAI president, Piyasvasti Amranand, was sacked last month. Now he may take his board to court to restore his reputation. …The sacking, he said, was “politically influenced”. He didn’t stop there. It was possible his firing resulted from investigations into graft at THAI, and his punishment of corrupt staff who might have sought help from some powerful figures, he claimed. The suggestion was they could have been from within government. …“The board has the right to end my employment, but it must explain [the reasons] why clearly to the public,” he said. “It is a pity. The management will suffer setbacks from now on. …The shock sacking has angered THAI staff and prompted a stinging attack on the chairman from the airline’s union. Jamsri Sukchotirat, president of the THAI labour union, said Piyasvasti had regularly talked to workers about various issues, especially financial performance and profitability.”


Inspired by Orient Aviation image source Wikipedia

Larbi Sadiki the Tunisian writer, political scientist and senior lecturer recalls his meeting with Egyptian Aboul Fotouh in 1992 while a fresh doctoral candidate at the Australian National University. The subject of Sadiki’s investigation at the time was notions of democracy in the discourse of four Islamist movements. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (EMB), Tunisia’s Nahda Party (NP), Jordan Islamic Action Front (IAF), and Sudan’s Islamic Front led then by Hassan Al-Turabi. Sadiki states “Of all of the Islamists I met and engaged with in discussion over democracy during that period, coming soon after the Algerian debacle, Aboul Fotouh was amongst the limited number of interlocutors who felt at ease with that concept and the whole notion of good government. Then, the concept was not as yet popular with most Islamists. Not even the creative Rashid Ghannouchi, whom I sat with and interviewed many times for the purpose of my PhD and beyond, had at the time acquired a firm grip on the term. It was largely considered for being a specifically Western concept underpinned by Western values. At the time, ‘democracy’ in Islamist parlance, lacked the scruples and rigour of shura, Islam’s consultative ethos, even though the likes of the innovative Hassan Al-Turabi in Sudan sought a move towards defining a shura-democracy synthesis.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Studiahumana

Steve Chapman the 58 year old American columnist on National affairs published an article on Reason Magazine titled ‘Chinese Communists No Longer Put Much Stock in Communism – China has gone from Mao to ‘money worship.’ In the article Chapman states “Mao was dedicated to class struggle and the elimination of property. He created a totalitarian society in which everyone wore the same clothes, chanted the same slogans and—as far as anyone knew—thought the same revolutionary thoughts. Mao’s “new man” was barely recognizable as human. Purported to be selfless, tireless, austere and indifferent to pleasure, he lived for the revolution alone. Skeptics mocked these subjects as “blue ants,” for their drab, uniform dress and unquestioning obedience. But that way of life is extinct and apparently un-mourned… Not that communism is entirely dead. The party remains in firm control of the government, and many enterprises are partly state-owned. Party committees operate in corporate workplaces, where they play the odd role of celebrating those who diligently serve the interests of shareholders. …Even Communists no longer put much stock in communism. Today, it’s the consumer who rules, and it’s buying and selling that dominates economic life. Mao’s visage still dominates Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, but his people seem to have more in common with Calvin Coolidge. …it’s clear that the business of China is business.”


Inspired by Reason image source Washington Examiner

Daniel Gros the German Director of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, and former economic adviser to the European Commission, believes that only determined action by EU governments that is strongly supported by their citizens will save the common currency. Gros published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Democracy versus the eurozone‘ in which he states “The reality is that the larger member states are more equal than the others. Of course, this is not fair, but the EU’s inability to impose its view on democratic countries might actually sometimes be for the best, given that even the Commission is fallible. The broader message from the Greek and French elections is that the attempt to impose a benevolent creditors’ dictatorship is now being met by a debtors’ revolt. Financial markets have reacted as strongly as they have because investors recognise that the “sovereign” in sovereign debt is an electorate that can simply decide not to pay. This is already the case in Greece, but the fate of the euro will be decided in the larger, systemically important countries like Italy and Spain. Only determined action by their governments, supported by their citizens, will show that they merit unreserved support from the rest of the eurozone. At this point, nothing less can save the common currency.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source World Economic Forum

Andrew Paolo Napolitano the 62 year old American former Superior Court Judge and current political and senior judicial analyst, has published an article on Reason Magazine titled “Where Is The Outrage Over the Domestic Use of Drones? And where have all the Jeffersonians gone?” In the article Napolitano states “…what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government. Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.””


Inspired by Reason image source Gage Skidmore

Melinda Taylor the 36 year old Australian lawyer has been arrested along with three other members of a delegation from the International Criminal Court for allegedly trying to pass “dangerous” documents to Saif al-Islam, the son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Michael Vincent for the Australian ABC News reports the Libyan government spokesman Mohamad Al-Hereizi states “We don’t have anything against this woman. Just we need some information from her, after that she will be free.” …the ICC demanded her immediate release, along with that of the other three members of the ICC team. Libyan officials say Ms Taylor and the three other ICC staffers have been put in what they describe as “preventive detention” for 45 days while they are investigated. [Australian] Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who has sent a senior diplomat to Libya to look into the case, says it is essential that Australian embassy staff be granted immediate access to her. Her boss at the ICC, Xavier-Jean Keita, has told the ABC that Ms Taylor is an ethical person and says her arrest is illegal. “They are ICC staff with privilege and immunity,” he said. ICC spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah said he was trying to find out why members of the team will be held for up to 45 days.”


Inspired by ABC image source whatsonningbo

Elon Musk the 41 year old South African business magnate engineer and co founder of SpaceX has come under intense criticism from former astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan as a result of SpaceX’s incursion into the USA space program. In response Musk in an interview with 60 Minutes stated “I was very sad to see that because those guys are heroes of mine, It’s really tough. I wish they would come and visit, and see the hardware we’re doing here. And I think that would change their mind.” Tim Cavanaugh published an article on Reason giving a broader perspective, stating “A more divine view, we might say, is that Earth is not a prison or a curse but the promise of an infinite future, an invitation to consider a possibility that’s beyond our imaginations but also naturally fulfilling of who we really are. Think of the approach to space travel and interstellar colonization a culture could achieve if that was its point of departure! That’s too deep for me, but I agree that thinking space is going to be the place our species escapes to requires you to ignore the immeasurable worse-ness of space relative to even the harshest environments on this planet. “


Inspired by Reason image source Brian Solis

Mark Hertsgaard the American journalist reports on ‘the biggest climate victory you never heard of’ in an article he published on Aljazeera about ‘the fight against coal in the US [that] has achieved great success due to activists’ passion and commitment’. Hertsgaard in the article states “Coal is going down in the United States, and that’s good news for the Earth’s climate. …the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive conventional fossil fuel, generated only 36 per cent of US electricity in the first quarter of 2012. That amounts to a staggering 20 per cent decline from one year earlier. …a persistent grassroots citizens’ rebellion that has blocked the construction of 166 (and counting) proposed coal-fired power plants… At the very time when President Obama’s “cap-and-trade” climate legislation was going down in flames in Washington, local activists across the United States were helping to impose “a de facto moratorium on new coal”… Like the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Beyond Coal [activist] campaign has shown that the status quo is not all-powerful. When large numbers of people unite around a compelling critique of the existing order and build political power at the local level, they can change the world. And perhaps even the planet.”

Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

Mirza Shahzad Akbar the Pakistani lawyer and director at the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, renowned for his legal action against the USA for drone strikes in Pakistan, has criticized the USA for authorizing drone strikes in Yemen. In an article by Jason Koebler on Aljazeera, Akbar states “They can’t kill them if they know someone is a low value target, however they can kill if they don’t know that person… They have a checklist, and here’s what they’re looking for—Are they carrying weapons? Do they have a beard and a turban? Are they traveling with a large group of people? Well, everyone in that area carries a weapon, a beard is part of the religion, turban is part of the culture. As for traveling in a group, well, it’s a society that has bigger families. If you’re looking for a pattern like this, you’re killing citizens and civilians. …The CIA is, so far, the only source of information. Look at the quality of the information they give you—it’s nothing. Who are they killing? Who are these people? What are their names? They say they’re taking out the bad guys, but the facts on the ground are very different, there are a huge number of women, children, elderly and incapacitated people. …Once people learn what’s really happening, they’ll complain. People need to make an informed decision.”

Inspired by Jason Koebler image source Twitter

Charles H. Lineweaver the Australian Astrophysicist and Senior Fellow at the Planetary Science Institute believes finding planets outside the solar system that can sustain life should be made a top priority, and may be crucial for our survival as a species. Lineweaver profiled by Darren Osbourne stated “Determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy, It’s probably one of the biggest, most confusing, and important issues that planetary scientists are going to have to deal with in the next 10 to 20 years. …Over the past few decades our exploration of the Earth has turned up life in all kinds of weird environments where we didn’t think life could be in, and we’re finding all types of extraterrestrial environments that we didn’t know about before, as these two groups expand they start to overlap in big ways, and that’s where habitable planets will be found. …Life, by managing its own environment, makes a planet habitable. It has produced adaptive features as a result of Darwinian evolution to live in colder and warmer environments. …The next step will be to develop a satellite that can look at the atmospheres of these planets, which will be able to give us some information about whether there is life there or not, …and if we don’t find one, maybe we’ll go extinct.”

Inspired by Darren Osborne image source Facebook

Matthew Cardinale the American founder and News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News has published an article on IPS News titled ‘Targeting Right-Wing Extremism, Citizens Challenge Corporate Ties’. In the article Cardinale states “A coalition of advocacy groups is targeting corporate support for the right-wing Heartland Institute after the organisation took out a controversial billboard in Chicago comparing people who believe in global warming to a serial killer and mass murderer. …The coalition includes such organisations as, Forecast the Facts, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and Sum of Us. …Over the last two months, the coalition has been successful in convincing some eleven companies to withdraw their support for Heartland Institute, including Allied World Assurance, the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, BB&T, Diageo, Eli Lilly, General Motors, PepsiCo, RenaissanceRe, State Farm, USAA and XL Group. …[Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, states] “The main thing we’re upset by is the corporate sponsorship of the Heartland Institute’s extreme climate denial. The billboards are just the latest example of the Heartland Institute’s attacks on science and the science of climate change and people who believe in reality, that’s why…corporations like Pfizer and Comcast need to cut their ties with the group”.

Inspired by IPS News image source Facebook

Ian O’Neill the Space Science Producer for Discovery News, and founding editor of Astroengine, has published an article on Aljazeera questioning if there is life on one of Jupiter’s moons Europa, where it is thought to have conditions that are ‘ripe for life’. In the article O’Neill states “Jupiter: the largest planet in the solar system, “protector” of the terrestrial planets, host to 66 moons and, potentially, home to life. The Jovian system is therefore one of the most intriguing and enigmatic targets for future space missions. And now, nine years after our most recent robotic foray to Jupiter, NASA has a mission powering its way through interplanetary space. …since life started to form on Earth over the past four billion years, a long period of calm has allowed life to evolve from single-celled microorganisms to the thriving ecosystem we know today. …It is thought that Jupiter’s largest moons, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, have extensive sub-surface oceans that may make ideal habitats for life. The most interesting moon of the trio is Europa, a world that is long thought to host the conditions ripe for life. …internal heating of the moon keeps a subsurface ocean in a liquid state, cycling it toward the surface, replenishing the surface ice through the cracks.”

Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Ban Ki-moon the 67 year old South Korean former diplomat and current Secretary-General of the United Nations has expressed frustration at the minimal progress on a plan of action for the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as the Rio+20 summit. This conference follows-up on the 20 year earlier 1992 Earth Summit that was also held in Rio, and renowned for affirming the integration of environment concerns into the U.N.’s development agenda. The plan of action titled “The Future We Want” is anticipated by Ban to have been well progressed prior to the summit, however fears are held the summit is being hijacked by corporate lobbyists particularly in the USA and Canada. Ban states “I am disappointed with the negotiations. They are not moving fast enough. We have an ambitious plan for real progress. But we need agreement on the tough issues. We cannot wait until they get to Rio, success will mean light in homes where people live in darkness. It will also mean food for families that are now hungry, It will create progress across our planet.” Martin Nesirky a spokesperson for Ban, also stated “It is a major and a very important conference, the aims of which are obviously also profoundly important for the whole of humankind.”

Inspired by Thalif Deen image source Gobierno de Chile

Ahmed Daak the Sudanese lecturer of medical biochemistry along with Harry Verhoeven a specialist researcher on conflict, development and environment in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region has published an article titled ‘The battle for the soul of the Islamic world’. The article published on Aljazeera discusses the Islamists and Salafis battle ‘for prominence in forging new political realities in the Islamic world’. They state in the article “The new realities emerging from the Arab Spring are demonstrating that Islam will occupy a key position in the political debate from Morocco to Indonesia. Yet what remains unclear is whether this will lead to greater societal cohesion or increased tensions within the Islamic world and between it and outside actors. To understand what the future might look like, we must analyse the struggle within the camp of the pious believers: reformist Islamists versus archconservative Salafis. …For all their differences, important similarities exist between Salafis and Islamists. The choice is not between “Westernisation” and “traditional Islam”: neither camp belongs to the caricature categories of the GWOT [Global War on Terror]. Both are products of modernity, who think about politics and religion in deeply modern ways and who respond to modernisation through discourses, institutions and ideas that are solidly rooted in 21st century imaginations.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Hamdeen Sabahi the 57 year old former member of parliament and leader of the Dignity Party finished third place with 21.5% of the vote. As the opposition leader, Sabahi was jailed for political dissidence 17 times during the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak presidencies. Sabahi has been profiled by Evan Hill in an article on Aljazeera, where he states “Sabahi’s campaign has reflected his likable persona. He is the only major candidate whose posters show him smiling, and his slogan, “one of us,” reflects a more populist appeal than the vagueness of the Brotherhood’s “renaissance is the will of the people” or the sternness of Moussa’s “Egypt needs the work of every Egyptian” or Shafiq’s “deeds, not words”. He has received broad support from Egypt’s journalism and media communities – his headquarters is housed in the office of popular director Khaled Youssef – and his campaign claims that it has run haphazardly on a shoestring, with donors buying billboard and newspaper ad space where they can. …Yet by the first day of voting on May 23, Sabahi had ascended into the national debate. From taxi drivers to pensioners to well-educated consultants, his emphasis on justice and the poor had resounded.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Egyptian Society

Abderrahim El Ouali the Moroccan social writer on political and environmental issues has published an article on IPS News stating that Morocco is still divided over marriage of minors. In the article, El Ouali states “The widespread practice of marrying minors continues to be one of the most incendiary legal and political issues in Morocco today, causing open confrontations between hard-line Islamists and moderates throughout the country. …30,000 minor girls are married every year – roughly 10 percent of the 300,000 marriages recorded… A campaign to gather one million signatures to forbid the marriage of minors is already in progress, sparked by the death of Amina Filali, a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist. …Sheik Mohamed El Maghrawi, a well-known Moroccan Muslim scholar, published a Fatwa reiterating families’ right to marry off their daughters over the age of nine. His position provoked a major scandal but the scholar suffered no consequences. …El Maghrawi even expressed his attachment to his position, “based on the Quran and the words of the Prophet ” according to him. However, opposition to this particular reading of Sharia’a law has become widespread. “All the laws that go against the dignity of women must be amended or even abolished “, said the president of the Chamber of Councilors in Moroccan parliament.”


Inspired by ips news image source Twitter

Hilal Elver the Research Professor of Global Studies and the co-director of the Climate Change, Human Security and Democracy Project, writes that diplomats at climate change talks in readiness for Rio+20 appear unlikely to draft a workable legal document on CO2 reduction. Elver in an article published on Aljazeera states “shortly after this meeting a major summit of UN Sustainable Development, Rio+20, will be held. The 1992 summit in Rio de Janeiro was a turning point in global awareness for several reasons. Major environmental law documents were produced – the Rio Declaration, a Global Policy of Sustainable Development for the 21st Century, and Agenda 21 – and two important global framework conventions on climate change and biological diversity were agreed upon. The Earth Summit was by far the biggest international conference ever convened. More than 100 heads of states took part. Rio+20 will not be nearly as successful. Many important leaders from the United States, Germany and France, will not be attending. A few months ago the UN organisers announced that the main agenda will not be climate change. The focus will be placed on green development, green energy, job creation, and sustainability. The objective is to lay the groundwork for a new phase of the global economy, almost a second industrial revolution. Therefore many NGOs are very sceptical about this prospect. They worry that the Rio+20 is being hijacked by the corporations to showcase the “new green sector”, a colour normally associated with making profits…”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Shahin Najafi the 31 year old Iranian musician singer and social activist residing in Germany, has gone into hiding following Iranian clerics placing a $100,000 bounty on his murder. Najafi has been condemned for violating a ‘fatwa’ that calls for the execution of anyone who blasphemes Ali an-Naqi, one of the 12 imams or religious figures revered by Shia Muslims. Najafi released a song “Naqi” that takes its name from Ali an-Naqi, its lyrics oppose the oppression and human rights abuse following the 2009 contested Iranian presidential election. Its lyrics call on Naqi to intervene and save the country. Najafi’s songs generally touch on sensitive issues such as “theocracy, poverty, sexism, censorship, child labor, execution, drug addiction and homophobia”. The Independent reports the “The Iranian religious website, Shia-Online, put a $100,000 bounty on the singer’s head and said he deserved to die for “grossly insulting” Ali an-Naqi. More than 100 people have joined an online “campaign to execute Shahin Najafi”. Mr Najafi is popular within the 120,000-strong Iranian community in Germany. Brought up in a small port in southern Iran, he fled to Germany in 2005 after being threatened, apparently by Iranian intelligence, for staging underground concerts. Tehran has so far made no comment on the fatwas against Mr Najafi.”


Inspired by The Independent image source Wikipedia


Mohammed Abdelmawla al-Hariri the Syrian journalist who regularly provided updates to Al Jazeera has been sentenced to death. al-Hariri known as the ‘Citizen Journalist’ had the death sentence handed down on grounds of “high treason and contact with foreign parties”, however human rights activist groups claim the sentence is a further attempt to repress dissidents. The DOHA Centre claim “The Syrian League of the Defense of Human Rights dismisses the charges as “null and void”… The organisation claims that Hariri was tortured from the first day of his arrest and was forced to confess. “They broke his backbone and authorities refused to give him the proper medical care”… According to the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, Hariri was tortured to the point of being partially paralysed. He has now been moved to the Saidnaya military prison north of Damascus. Local and international groups have criticised the death sentence of Hariri and demand it be revoked… Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is targeting the media in order to control what information is being broadcast out of the country. Foreign journalists are generally not allowed to enter the country. Other journalists who were already working in Syria had their accreditation revoked, faced arrest or were even tortured, trialed or killed.”


Inspired by DOHA Centre image source Skeyes

Paolo Gabriele the 46 year old personal butler to Pope Benedict XVI has been arrested and charged with the illegal possession of embarrassing secret documents he had leaked exposing to the world at large corruption from within the Vatican. Gabriele a layman who resides within the Vatican City with his wife and three children, is alleged to have leaked the press with documents that highlight the Vatican finances, operations and concerns with corruption. The scandal known as “Vatileaks”, continued to embarrass the Vatican seen as a scandal-plagued tax haven by the world financial community. Speculation continues that Gabriele was not working alone in the leaks, and investigations continue in efforts to identify any leadership from co-offenders potentially in any internal power struggle. Gabriele was being held in a “secure room” at the Vatican’s tiny police station inside the Vatican as there is no jail, until further investigation could be conducted in regard to any co-offenders. Pope Benedict XVI’s No 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone the Vatican secretary of state has been centre stage of the scandal with many of the leaked documents portraying him negatively, and for having “begged” to retain his position after exposing corrupt practices within the Vatican’s contracts for services.


Inspired by The Daily Beast image source NY Daily News

Shakil Afridi the Pakistani physician who assisted the CIA run a fake vaccine program in Abbottabad Pakistan, in order to obtain DNA samples confirming Osama bin Laden’s presence, has been imprisoned for 33 years on charges of treason. Afridi was tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulations that govern Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal region. The trial took place over several days without Afridi being present in the court nor given the opportunity to defend himself. The trial heard by Nasir Khan, the assistant political agent in Khyber, Afridi was sentenced for offences against the state, conspiracy and attempting to wage war against Pakistan and working against the country’s sovereignty. Human-rights organisations have criticised the FCR for not providing suspects due process of law, as there is no right to legal representation, to present material evidence or cross-examine witnesses. However humanitarian organizations including Médecins Sans Frontières protested the use of a medical charity for espionage purposes believing it would cause suspicion of such organizations in the future.  Details of Afridi’s activities emerged during the Pakistani investigation of the raid on Bin Laden’s residence, and confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, who was then CIA Chief Leon Panetta.


Inspired by Rahimullah Yusufzai image source Deccan Chronicle

Tim McDonnell the American senior fellow on the Mother Jones Climate Desk has published an article titled ‘As Austerity Falters, European Economists Say “Price Carbon!”’ In the article McDonnell states “Turmoil over budget cuts roils Greek streets. France elects an anti-austerity president. Even Germany’s Austerity Queen Angela Merkel faces electoral backlash. It appears Europeans are getting sick of tightening their belts. But when you can’t cut any more, there’s little else to do but hustle up more cash. For governments allergic to raising income taxes, a European Climate Foundation analysis shows there’s a less painful way to slash deficits—one that could save the planet as it saves the economy: a carbon tax. The report argues that reforming how Europe taxes energy could, by 2020, cut some countries’ 2011 deficits in half. … As a bonus, the report found that carbon taxes improve energy security and can reduce climate-changing emissions by up to 2.5 percent. …But the tradeoff is that revenue could be looped back to Granny in the form of increased social services; under a similar scheme about to commence in Australia, over half the money raised from taxing carbon will be sent back to households via tax cuts and other assistance.”


Inspired by Mother Jones image source Twitter

Evi Pappa the Greek Professor of International Macroeconomics and Monetary and Fiscal Policy believes a Greek exit from the euro could have wide-ranging consequences for other European countries. Pappa in an interview with Sam Bollier for Aljazeera, states “The Greek election results express the anger of the Greek population. They had somehow to punish the two political parties that have been in power the past 20 years. So they voted in anger and in protest… I think that most of them realise that leaving the euro is going to be disastrous for Greece. …You would expect three things if Greece leaves the euro: inflation, devaluation, and banking collapse. …Inflation is sometimes good. But the problem is that Greece is not going to experience inflation. It is going to experience, most likely, hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is not good at any time. …Modern Greece, like Antigone [Classic Greek tragedy of Sophocles], is condemned to the austerity measures of the European Commission, burying it alive, and it looks like, when the Europeans come to her mercy, it might be too late – and Greece might commit suicide by deciding to leave the eurozone. I don’t have a lot of hope for Greece.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source uab

Tracey Karima Emin the 48 year old British artist, part of the group known as Britartists or YBAs (Young British Artists), has been featured by novelist Jeanette Winterson in The Independent under the title ‘The evolution of Tracey Emin’. Winterson states from a discussion with Emin, ““Wherever I am, I am aware of where I am, and the me that is in the where I am. So I am always a little bit outside of anywhere, and wondering about it.” But Tracey, what happens when the iconoclast becomes an icon? “I’m a role model, yeah, but that doesn’t mean I belong.” But doesn’t fame and fortune put you in the elite, not the outsiders? …Warhol began the idea of artist as artwork. At its most corrupt it has become celebrity culture where making news is a much more important activity than making anything worthwhile. It is vacuity and spin. Tracey Emin does make things; she has made a lot of things, and recently in her continual re-visions of hand and eye, body and brain, her work has suffered a sea-change into something rich and strange. The ugly feral shock of My Bed. The defiant beauty of the blue nudes. It’s all Tracey Emin – she can see that. Look at her.”


Inspired by Jeanette Winterson image source Tyrenius

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