Category Archives: Action

The rural Kenyan school that collects water for the community

THE GUARDIAN

(Lucy Bullivant is the editor-in-chief of the webzine Urbanista.org.)

ab335fed-7d88-4300-9894-9b2d5885eea1-2060x1236A new school in Kenya’s central highlands harvests rain for pupils, teachers and their families, but can the project be repeated in other arid regions?

Abrupt flash floods for a few weeks, then months of drought. Repeat. Water problems suffered by people living in the semi-arid regions of Kenya adversely affect whole areas of their lives, causing ill health, conflict and food insecurity.

The Endana secondary school complex includes dormitories (such as the one above), and a sports stadium which can collect and store 1.5 million litres of water. Photograph: PITCH Africa
The Endana secondary school complex includes dormitories (such as the one above), and a sports stadium which can collect and store 1.5 million litres of water. Photograph: PITCH Africa

But the opening of a school in rural Laikipia in the central highlands will hopefully break that vicious cycle for 300 children, their teachers and the wider community. More than just a simple building, the Waterbank School is a living infrastructure that harvests rainwater – 360,000 litres over the course of two rainy seasons – as well as being an education centre.

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London: Campaigners hold prayer vigil at Foreign Office over deaths of refugees in Mediterranean

ICN/INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS

miggrntMore than 40 international religious peace activists highlighted the deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and the culpability of the UK government on Friday. The gathering consisted of a silent procession to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a public prayer vigil, and a symbolic representation of the deaths at the Home Office.

Since January 1, 2015 over 65,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe. So far this year at least 1,800 men, women and children have drowned in their bid to reach Europe; a direct result of the indefensible decision to disband Mare Nostrum, the search and rescue operation. These include refugees fleeing oppression, poverty and war, forced to submit to acts of desperation and the risks of human trafficking in their search for a better life.

In the face of this crisis, European governments, including the UK, have reduced search and rescue operations leading to the death toll increasing ten times that of the same period in 2014 (according to the International Organisation for Migration).

Last month, under humanitarian pressure… More…

The secret corporate takeover of trade agreements

THE GUARDIAN
by Joseph Stiglitz

Rural workers in a potato field in Villapinzon, Colombia. Increasingly, free-trade agreements meant to protect countries are leaving them at the mercy of rich and litigious corporations. Photograph: Fernando Vergara/AP
Rural workers in a potato field in Villapinzon, Colombia. Increasingly, free-trade agreements meant to protect countries are leaving them at the mercy of rich and litigious corporations. Photograph: Fernando Vergara/AP

The US and the world are engaged in a great debate about new trade agreements. Such pacts used to be called free-trade agreements; in fact, they were managed trade agreements, tailored to corporate interests, largely in the US and the EU. Today, such deals are more often referred to as partnerships, as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But they are not partnerships of equals: the US effectively dictates the terms. Fortunately, America’s “partners” are becoming increasingly resistant.

It is not hard to see why. These agreements go well beyond trade, governing investment and intellectual property as well, imposing fundamental changes to countries’ legal, judicial, and regulatory frameworks, without input or accountability through democratic institutions.

Perhaps the most invidious – and most dishonest – part of such agreements concerns investor protection. Of course, investors have to be protected against rogue governments seizing their property. But… More…

Thousands protest against US airbase in Japan’s Okinawa

ALJAZEERA NEWS

Massive rallies aim to pressure Tokyo to halt construction of base in island as decades-long row continues.
Massive rallies aim to pressure Tokyo to halt construction of base in island as decades-long row continues.

Thousands of people have protested in Okinawa against a controversial US marine airbase in the southern Japanese island, as a two-decade-long row over the relocation of the site deepens.

The massive demonstrations on Sunday aimed to pressure Tokyo to halt building work for the military base that has continued despite vehement opposition from the local government in Okinawa.

Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel stationed in Japan as part of a defence alliance, a proportion many of the island’s residents say is too high.

Washington announced plans to move the Futenma airbase in 1996, hoping to ease tensions with the host community after the gang-rape of a schoolgirl by servicemen.

But locals have pushed to block the relocation of the base within the island, insisting the facility should be fully removed instead. The demonstrations have soured relations between Tokyo and Okinawa – a once independent kingdom that was annexed by Japan in the 19th century. More…

US court orders release of three anti-nuclear activists

BBC

_73074911_nunA US federal appeals court has ordered the immediate release of three anti-nuclear activists, including an elderly Catholic nun, the group’s lawyer says.

Attorney Bill Quigley says he hopes they will be released within days.

Last week, sabotage convictions against Sister Megan Rice, 85, Michael Walli, 66, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59, for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear facility in 2012 were overturned.

But it upheld guilty verdicts for damaging government property.

Sister Megan was jailed for nearly three years for entering the Oak Ridge facility, which stores uranium.

The other two protesters were each sentenced to more than five years in prison.

The July 2012 incident prompted security changes at the Y-12 site. More…

Crisis at Sea

NEW YORK TIMES
by Nicholas Kristof

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh at a police station in Malaysia. Many are fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Credit European Pressphoto Agency
Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh at a police station in Malaysia. Many are fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Credit European Pressphoto Agency

One of the world’s most beautiful regions, the seas of Southeast Asia — home to sparkling white beaches and $7,000-a-night beach villas — is becoming a scene of a mass atrocity.

Thousands of refugees from the persecuted Rohingya minority in Myanmar, fleeing modern concentration camps at home, have fled to sea in boats, and many have drowned. Fearing a crackdown, smugglers have abandoned some of those boats at sea, and neighboring countries are pushing the boats back to sea when they try to land.

The Obama administration, which has regarded Myanmar as one of its diplomatic successes, is largely unhelpful as this calamity unfolds. More…

U.S. Bishops Committee Issues Report on Immigrant Detention, Calling for a “Transformation” of the System

IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK
by ISN Staff
May 11, 2015

Unlocking-Human-DignityWASHINGTON—The U.S. immigrant detention system, which treats vulnerable immigrant detainees as criminals, needs extensive reforms, said representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Center for Migration Studies, May 11, as they released a report and policy recommendations. They urged Congress and the administration to build a system that affords due process protections, honors human dignity and minimizes the use of detentions.

“It is time for our nation to reform this inhumane system, which unnecessarily detains persons, especially vulnerable populations, who are no threat to us and who should be afforded due process and legal protections,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. Such vulnerable groups include asylum-seekers, families and children, and victims of human trafficking.

The report, “Unlocking Human Dignity:  A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System,” was written and produced by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), a Catholic-based educational institute that studies migration, and Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB. More…