COP 21 Learning

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Maryknoll Sr. Marvie Misolas was an official observer at the Paris Climate Summit (COP21) representing the Maryknoll Sisters. The following is her reflection, published in the January-February 2016 issue of NewsNotes, written on the last day of the talks, before the release of the final agreement.

Two weeks went by quickly at the Paris Climate Summit. This was the first time I attended a UN climate conference, though I have attended UN conferences on other topics. My official status was observer.

To my surprise, I did not have access to many discussions and meetings, which were limited to negotiators representing 195 countries. This was different from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, which was more inclusive of observers. Continue reading COP 21 Learning

El Nino and Drought Take a Toll On Zimbabwe’s Cattle

All Africa
By Marko Phiri

zimTsholotsho — Justin Dlomo watches his small herd of emaciated cattle scrounge for bits of dry grass with a growing sense of dread.

“I don’t even know what to do anymore,” he says.

Worsening drought in Zimbabwe has dried up water holes, crops and pasture, leaving farmers like 56-year-old Dlomo, who lives about 120 kilometers north of Bulawayo, unable to feed their animals – and unable to sell them for much either.

“We are all selling off our livestock. Better that than watch the cattle die,” Dlomo told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But because so many desperate farmers now have animals on the market, a cow that used to sell for $500 now fetches just $150 – or in some places as little as $50 – from buyers in the cities.

As climate change strengthens, drought is becoming more frequent and severe in southern Africa, and that – combined with this year’s El Nino phenomenon – is taking a heavy toll on rural lives and economies, experts say. Continue reading El Nino and Drought Take a Toll On Zimbabwe’s Cattle

Environmental Activist Killed on the Marañon River

Peruvian Times

An environmental activist was killed last Monday in Yagen, a village on the Marañon River in northern Peru, in the province of Celendín, Cajamarca.

Hitler Rojas, 34, a leading activist in the protest against a hydroelectric project, was shot five times by unknown assailants when he was walking towards his home.

President of the rural self-defense groups (rondas campesinas) in the area and recently elected mayor of Yagen, Rojas was one of the leaders in the area’s defense front against the building of the Chadin II hydroelectric plant, a huge project to be executed by Odebrecht of Brazil that will require the displacement of 1,000 residents from the area and the flooding of 32 square kilometers of villages and farmland along the river.  The area to be flooded is 10 times the size of New York’s Central Park, or three times the size of Lima’s San Isidro district. Continue reading Environmental Activist Killed on the Marañon River

Kenyan Teacher Jailed For Radicalizing pupils

News from Africa

A Kenyan Muslim teacher has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for radicalizing primary school children in Kilifi County in the coastal region.

Samuel Wanjala Wabwile alias Salim Mohamed was however acquitted on Thursday of being a member of and recruiting six children for Somalia-based militia group Al Shabaab.

Wabwile was accused of promoting extreme jihadism including violence as a means of advancing religious change by teaching children to fight at a mosque where he was an Imam.

In her judgment, Mombasa Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache said the accused preyed on the pupils’ feeble mind to impart his ideological beliefs.

“The accused took advantage of the poverty rate in the region by offering the children some food using it as a bait to trap them, most children walked bare feet and their uniforms were tattered,” said Ms Mochache, adding that Wabwile “deserves no mercy, he needs protection from himself, he has already sold his soul to the devil and was on the process of selling others  souls.” Continue reading Kenyan Teacher Jailed For Radicalizing pupils

Even Tumbling Fossil Fuel Prices Can’t Deter Clean Energy Revolution

Common Dreams

2015 saw ‘a global surge for wind and solar energy, which occurred despite oil, coal and natural gas selling at bargain rates.

Deirdre Fulton


One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the sharp decline of oil prices, which fell this year to levels not seen in more than a decade.

“After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30 percent in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

It was good news for fuel consumers—drivers who flocked to SUVs and pickup trucks in 2015, for instance—as well as for governments that import crude oil. Continue reading Even Tumbling Fossil Fuel Prices Can’t Deter Clean Energy Revolution

Humanity adrift

New Internationalist

On the front lines of Europe’s refugee crisis in Lesvos, Hazel Healy finds tragedy, hope – and answers.

mig3In a taverns overlooking Molyvos harbor, exhausted Greek coastguards have come off shift and are drinking in a huddle. They have just pulled 242 refugees out of the water, in the worst shipwreck off the shores of Lesvos since the refugee crisis began last year.

By 1.30am there is only one man left in the bar, Yanis Stipsanos, the vice-mayor of Molyvos. ‘Too many people have died at my place,’ he says, his face like thunder. ‘I didn’t kill them. Turkey killed them.’ He thinks for a moment. ‘Europe killed them.’ Pauses. ‘Fuck you, Europe, and take them. This is not Lesvos’s problem, it’s humanity’s problem.’

Outside, a scene of quiet devastation is unfolding. Wet, salty clothes are strewn about the large cobble stones. The floor of a tiny port-side Orthodox chapel is covered by survivors in blankets, trying to bed down for the night. Continue reading Humanity adrift

‘Crafted By and For Big Business’: TTIP Under Fire Across Europe

Common Dreams

‘TTIP is a bonanza for big business, but a nightmare for everyone else,’ says War on Want

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Since TTIP negotiations began in 2013, Europe has seen several mass mobilizations against the so-called “free trade” deal. (Photo: campact/flickr/cc)

A new UK coalition is sounding the alarm over how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently under negotiation between the U.S. and EU, would force European small businesses into unfair competition with U.S. firms with lower standards and lower costs.

“Together with thousands of our counterparts in other European countries, we are concerned that many European businesses risk being wiped out by unfair competition from U.S. corporations if TTIP is allowed to go through,” reads the statement from Business Against TTIP, launched over the weekend. Continue reading ‘Crafted By and For Big Business’: TTIP Under Fire Across Europe

Apple, Samsung and Sony face child labor claims

Jane Wakefield

Many of the children who work in the mining industry dig for cobalt in the discarded waste

Human rights organization Amnesty has accused Apple, Samsung and Sony, among others, of failing to do basic checks to ensure minerals used in their products are not mined by children.

In a report into cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it found children as young as seven working in dangerous conditions.

Cobalt is a a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.

The firms said that they had a zero tolerance policy towards child labor.

The DRC produces at least 50% of the world’s cobalt. Miners working in the area face long-term health problems and the risk of fatal accidents, according to Amnesty.

It claimed that at least 80 miners had died underground in southern DRC between September 2014 and December 2015. Continue reading Apple, Samsung and Sony face child labor claims

Obama Ends New Coal Leases On Public Lands

Think Progress
Jenny Rowland


The Obama administration announced Friday that it is stopping most new coal leasing on America’s public lands as it moves to modernize and reform the federal coal leasing program, which has not been updated in more than 30 years.

“Given serious concerns raised about the federal coal program, we’re taking the prudent step to hit pause on approving significant new leases so that decisions about those leases can benefit from the recommendations that come out of the review,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said Friday. Continue reading Obama Ends New Coal Leases On Public Lands

Western Powers Protect Arms Markets Ignoring Civilian Killings

InterPress Service
By Thalif Deen

peace-1UNITED NATIONS, Jan 14 2016 (IPS) – The West continues its strong political and military support to one of its longstanding allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia –- despite withering criticism of the kingdom’s battlefield excesses in the ongoing war in neighboring Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition has been accused of using banned cluster bombs, bombing civilian targets and destroying hospitals – either by accident or by design—using weapons provided primarily by the US, UK and France.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said last week the armed conflict in Yemen continues to take a terrible toll on civilians, with at least 81 civilians reportedly killed and 109 injured in December. Continue reading Western Powers Protect Arms Markets Ignoring Civilian Killings