Using U.S. Dollars, Zimbabwe Finds a Problem: No Change

New York Times
HARARE, Zimbabwe — When Zimbabweans say they are waiting for change, they are usually talking about politics. After all, the country has had the same leader since 1980.

But these days, Robson Madzumbara spends a lot of time quite literally waiting around for change. Pocket change, that is. He waits for it at supermarkets, on the bus, at the vegetable stall he runs and just about anywhere he buys or sells anything.

“We never have enough change,” he said, manning the vegetable stall he has run for the past two decades. “Change is a big problem in Zimbabwe.” Continue reading Using U.S. Dollars, Zimbabwe Finds a Problem: No Change

Coming Together for Environmental Restoration in Haiti

Beverly Bell and Alexis Erkert interview YVES-ANDRÉ WAINRIGHT, Haiti’s former two-time Environment Minister*

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Apr 24, 2012 (IPS/Other Worlds) – In honour of Earth Day, we run an interview with Yves-André Wainright, who discusses ways that poor governance and the role of foreign donors have contributed to the country’s environmental catastrophe.

He also lays out a blueprint for what could turn the situation around, effectively mobilising both government and the population to begin restoring the environment.

Yves-André Wainright served twice as Haiti’s minister of environment. Trained as an agronomist, Yves-André’s work has focused on environmental management, especially management of natural resources and waste.

His comments follow:

My approach towards management of the environment is to have Haitians who face (the same environmental) challenges come together. We might not all share the same economic interests, but if we work together, we can reach a compromise where one’s interest won’t trump another’s.

Current poverty levels can’t be used as an excuse for environmental mismanagement, like deforestation of watersheds or the poor construction of rural roads. More than an issue of technology or of funding, the challenge with environmental management in Haiti is a matter of governance. Continue reading Coming Together for Environmental Restoration in Haiti

North, South, East, and West: Austerity Revolt Felt Across Europe

Common Dreams
Europe’s austerity backlash gains steam in challenge to German-driven program
All over Europe, where austerity policies have gripped ruling governments, a broad backlash is growing and as elections appear on the horizon for many incumbents public anger is becoming harder to ignore. (Image: STV)A full 60 percent of French voters who turned out for the first round of presidential elections on Sunday — whether on the right, the center-left, or the far left — agreed on one thing: more austerity is not the direction they desire for France.  Nicolas Sarkozy, the staunchly pro-austerity candidate and sitting president, received less than 27 percent of the vote, and if he loses the presidency in a run-off with Socialist Francois Hollande it will speak loudly about about the growing backlash against austerity taking place across the Eurozone. Continue reading North, South, East, and West: Austerity Revolt Felt Across Europe

Ecological Conservation: A Mission Imperative

Maryknoll Magazine
Maryknoll Sisters sign a legal agreement to conserve a portion of their property
By Mary Ellen Manz, M.M. and Margaret Gaughan
In this centennial year of their founding, the Maryknoll Sisters are leaving an ecological gift for future generations. Through a legal agreement, or easement, the Sisters are preserving in perpetuity 42 acres of wetland and woodland area on their 67-acre center in New York. Continue reading Ecological Conservation: A Mission Imperative

Free Your (Eco)Mind

YES Magazine
Gradually it’s dawned on me: We humans are creatures of the mind. We perceive the world according to our core, often unacknowledged, assumptions. They determine, literally, what we can see and what we cannot. Nothing so wrong with that, perhaps—except that, in this crucial do-or-die moment, we’re stuck with a mental map that is life-destroying.

And the premise of this map is lack—not enough of anything, from energy to food to parking spots; not enough goods and not enough goodness. In such a world, we come to believe, it’s compete or die. The popular British writer Philip Pullman says, “we evolved to suit a way of life which is acquisitive, territorial, and combative” and that “we have to overcome millions of years of evolution” to make the changes we need to avoid global catastrophe. Continue reading Free Your (Eco)Mind

The unpalatable reality of working for Apple

New Internationalist
Since the death of Steve Jobs, allegations have surfaced accusing Apple of exploiting it's workers. Under a CC Licence A fresh wave of reports unveiling exploitation in the iPad empire are forcing Apple to clean up up its act, reports Mark Engler.
‘Help wanted: factory worker to install small components into items manufactured by hand – iPhones and iPads. Shifts may average 12 hours per day, six days per week. You may be expected to stand throughout. Some exposure to hazardous chemicals. Base pay: $42/week. Additional benefits: shared dorm room with five other employees; safety netting at facility to catch attempted suicides. Please note: applications will be checked against blacklist of union sympathizers.’
Continue reading The unpalatable reality of working for Apple

The Northern Question and the Way Forward for Change

Presentation at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
by Yasir Arman, Secretary General, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N)
Secretary of External Affairs, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) April 20-21, 2012

What is the Northern Question?  What is the Sudan Question?

  • Sudan is often perceived in terms of dichotomies of North-South, Muslim-Christian, Arabs-Africans; these are oversimplification of the Sudanese question. After the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, the North could now be seen as an entity of its own.  It should be seen as the Sudan question.   Continue reading The Northern Question and the Way Forward for Change

Brazil Must Do More for Rio+20, Former Ministers Say

By Fabiana Frayssinet
RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 20, 2012 (IPS) – Former ministers, lawmakers and environmental experts in Brazil are urging the government to take a more proactive stance to prevent the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the country will host in June from falling short of the standard set by the preceding summit. Continue reading Brazil Must Do More for Rio+20, Former Ministers Say

South Africa’s Smallholders Lose Battle for Seed Security

By Kristin Palitza
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Apr 23, 2012 (IPS) – In an almost ceremonial manner, Selinah Mncwango opens her big plastic bag and pulls out several smaller packets, each filled with different types of seeds: sorghum, bean, pumpkin, and maize. They are her pride, her wealth, the “pillar of my family,” says the farmer from a village in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Continue reading South Africa’s Smallholders Lose Battle for Seed Security

US Bishops join call to ban landmines

Independent Catholic News
'Small Targets: Children & Landmines in Mozambique' American bishops have joined a call from 76 nongovernmental organizations to President Obama, urging the United States to relinquish antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty without further delay.

The United States is one of only 37 countries in the world that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty and the only country in the Western Hemisphere aside from Cuba that has not joined. Continue reading US Bishops join call to ban landmines