Aug. 27th, 2011

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Chile's Commander Camila, the student who can shut down a city:
Camila Vallejo's call for better and cheaper education has seen student protests transform into a two-day nationwide shutdown


Not since the days of Zapatistas' Subcomandante Marcos has Latin America been so charmed by a rebel leader. This time, there is no ski mask, no pipe and no gun, just a silver nose ring.

Meet Commander Camila, a student leader in Chile who has become the face of a populist uprising that some analysts are calling the Chilean winter. Her press conferences can lead to the sacking of a minister. The street marches she leads shut down sections of the Chilean capital. She has the government on the run, and now even has police protection after receiving death threats.

Yet six months ago, no one had heard of Camila Vallejo, the 23-year-old spearheading an uprising that has shaken not only the presidency of the billionaire businessman Sebastián Piñera, but the entire Chilean political class. Opinion polls show that 26% of the public support Piñera and only 16% back his recently ousted Concertación coalition.

Wednesday saw the start of a two-day nationwide shutdown, as transport workers and other public-sector employees joined the burgeoning student movement in protest.

"There are huge levels of discontent," said Vallejo in a recent interview. "It is always the youth that make the first move … we don't have family commitments, this allows us to be freer. We took the first step, but we are no longer alone, the older generations are now joining this fight."

Elected as only the second female leader in the 105-year history of the University of Chile's student union, Vallejo, who is also a member of the Chilean Communist party, is the face of a movement the likes of which has not been seen since the last years of Augusto Pinochet in the 80s.

 

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In Chile, Dissent Has A Woman’s Face

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Ya know? Yes, she's beautiful. And the fact that the media are falling all over themselves to note that, ignoring that they would have ignored her if she wasn't? PISSES ME OFF. Also, teh GUardian keeps going "protests turned violent" completely erasing who turns the protests violent ...THE FUCKING POLICE.


We are prepared to give our lives for education
High school kids on hunger strike
SANTIAGO, Aug 25, 2011 (IPS) - As students and teachers continue their massive protests in the streets of Chile's cities, one of the most extreme methods of demanding higher-quality, free public education is the hunger strike being undertaken by 28 youngsters at secondary schools across the country, four of whom have not taken food for nearly 40 days. One teenage girl in the south of Chile had to be urgently admitted to hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 24 in unstable condition, and last week another young woman in Santiago required medical attention. Several of the hunger strikers have lost 10 kg or more.

The government of rightwing President Sebastián Piñera, under heavy pressure from the ongoing demonstrations, is attempting to pass on responsibility for solving the crisis to Congress. Its proposals have so far been characterised as insufficient by the teachers and students fighting for radical changes to the education system. To cap Piñera's problem, social grievances have expanded beyond the issue of education, and Thursday was the second, and last, day of a nationwide general strike called by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, the main union federation, to demand structural changes in the political and economic system, that was also joined by 80 other social organisations and opposition parties. The protest by students and teachers has lasted over three months so far, making it the longest demonstration since 1990, which marked the end of a 17-year dictatorship that in its dying days imposed the present education structure, which subsequent democratic administrations have left unmodified.

Education Minister Felipe Bulnes was particularly critical of the hunger strike, saying it "does not solve any of our problems; in fact, it only complicates the situation." Francia Gárate, an 18-year-old in her final year of secondary school, joined the hunger strike over a week ago and told IPS they were fasting "so that they take us seriously." "I would ask (Piñera) to realise that we are not playing games; he should wake up, because what we are doing is not a game, and we are prepared to give our lives for education," Gárate emphasised. MORE
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Chilean teenager shot dead during protests
Boy, 16, dies in hospital after sustaining gunshot wound during mass demonstrations against Chile's president, Sebastián Piñera



A Chilean teenager has died after being shot in the chest during huge protests against the president, Sebastián Piñera, in the capital.

Local media said the 16-year-old boy was shot near a security barricade as protesters fought police in Santiago on Thursday – the second day of a two-day strike against Piñera, which was marked by violent clashes and sporadic looting.

"The youth died from a bullet impact in the chest. He died in hospital," a police spokesman said.

Local media said witnesses blamed police for firing the shots.

"The death of any citizen is a very serious situation," Rodrigo Ubilla, an interior ministry official, said..

Led by students demanding free education, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent months to call for wider distribution of the income from a copper price boom in the world's leading copper-producing country.

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Seeking Social Justice Through Education in Chile


The ongoing student protests in Chile are an unwavering accomplishment aimed at combating the social injustice riddling the country's education system. What started out as a series of peaceful protests has become a manifestation of unity between students, artists and much of the general population in a stance defying the current government’s position regarding social class, cultural difference and political division with regard to education.

Upon assuming power in a military coup that ousted President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet implemented a series of policies that spelled poverty for the working class. To this day, remnants of the military dictatorship are evident in Chile. Upon Milton Friedman’s advice, Pinochet altered the education system in Chile. Responsibility for public schooling was transferred from the Ministry of Education to public municipalities. Private schools were financed by the voucher system in proportion to student enrolments. The elite families began enrolling their children into schools which charged for enrolment. No effort was made on behalf of the government to improve the curriculum, education quality or management, resulting in a society which, for decades had to contend with social class division within education.

Private universities meant excessive tuition fees, causing students and their families to incur debts whilst education quality was barely improved. Universities were mostly attended by students from the middle class and higher income families. Impoverished areas had no access to quality education, with low income families obliged to send their children to public schools where no incentives, such as better working conditions for teachers were offered, to promote and enhance student educational performance. Discrepancy in Chile’s education system led to society incurring yet another split. The current system exploits class as well as cultural differences. Low income families have no option but to send their children to public municipal schools. Mapuche people living in rural areas having to contend with an inferior education as well as lack of intercultural awareness.
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For instance, if the protests were being held by a Mapuche girl, I wonder what the response to her by the world's media would have been?
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Nigerian satellites are picture perfect

Nigeria's latest Earth observation satellites have returned their first pictures.

The spacecraft, launched on 17 August, give the African nation a powerful new capability to map its own lands and other parts of the globe.

NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X will also assist the Disaster Monitoring Constellation.

This UK-managed fleet of spacecraft is used to picture regions of the Earth gripped by natural calamities.

These might be catastrophic floods or a big earthquake. Images sent down from space will often be critical to organising an effective emergency response.

The first picture released from the Nigerian pair is of New Zealand's biggest city, Auckland.

It was acquired by NigeriaSat-X, and reveals the buildings and the landscape surrounding this major urban centre.

It is just possible to see the wakes of ships passing under the harbour bridge that joins downtown Auckland with North Shore City.

The satellite is equipped with a multi-spectral imager for general mapping, agricultural monitoring and disaster relief work.

Nigerian engineer at SSTLNigerian engineers built NigeriaSat-X with the help of their British counterparts

The resolution in this picture is 22m per pixel. Vegetation is picked out in red.

Both NigeriaSat-X and NigeriaSat-2 were designed and built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, UK.

What is interesting about NigeriaSat-X is that the work was undertaken by Nigerian engineers themselves. The skills they have learnt will now be taken home so that they can build future spacecraft in their own country

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via fyeahAfrica
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Oscar Pistorius will become the first amputee athlete to compete at the able-bodied World Championships, after being named in South Africa’s squad.


Oscar Pistorius will become the first amputee athlete to compete at the able-bodied World Championships, after being named in South Africa’s squad.

The 24-year-old double-amputee, who competes on carbon fibre legs, will race in the 400m and 4x400m relay

The event begins in Daegu, South Korea on 27 August.

Women’s 800m world champion Caster Semenya, who was cleared to run last year after an 11-month lay-off because of gender tests, is also in the squad.

Pistorius said: "I have dreamt for such a long time of competing in a major championships and this is a very proud moment in my life.

"It will be a great day for me when I set out on the track in Daegu and I hope to do my country proud.

"This will be the highest-profile and most prestigious able-bodied event which I have ever competed in, and I will face the highest-calibre of athletes from across the planet."

An International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) ban was overturned in 2008, allowing Pistorius to compete against able-bodied athletes.

The IAAF's ruling that his "blades" gave him an unfair advantage was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Pistorius clocked a personal best time of 45.07 seconds in Italy last month to qualify just inside the cut-off time.


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Via fyeahAfrica which has pics.
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The Olympics and the uprising

Only a few miles from Tottenham, the epicenter of the recent London riots, and between the east end of Hackney and the west end of Stratford--neighborhoods where rioting quickly spread to--sits London's Olympic Park, home to the main Olympic Stadium and Athletes' Village, as well as a multitude of other venues for next summer's 2012 Summer Olympics.

As the British government imposes austerity measures on its poor and working-class citizens, it has dumped billions of dollars into these venues and security for the 2012 Games. As the riots in London escalated, many in the media began to question what impact it would have on the Games--with the fear that tourists might stay away or more rioting might occur.

Bob Quellos spoke with anti-Olympic activists Debbie Shaw, of London's Counter Olympics Network, and Martin Slavin, of the GamesMonitor.org website, about the impact preparations for the Olympics have had on London's poor and working-class neighborhoods.


THE GOVERNMENT has spent billions on building the venues for the 2012 Olympics while people in surrounding neighborhoods are suffering the effects of austerity measures. Can you describe the dynamic in these neighborhoods?

Debbie: It's no coincidence that the riots kicked off in Tottenham following the murder of yet another Black man who just happened to get on the wrong side of the police. And it's also no coincidence that Monday's activities kicked off in Hackney, one of the five Olympics boroughs, with a long history of insurrection and large Black and homeless populations.

A Hackney resident interviewed by one of the news networks said, "This is an Olympic borough. There's a lot of money been spent here recently, but none of it is trickling down." There's a video on YouTube right now where a masked woman coming out of a shop is asked what she's doing, and she says, "Just getting my taxes back."

It's also no coincidence that the majority of the people involved are from the generation that are suffering most from the cuts to government spending. They're the same kids who got politicized last year when they marched to demand the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the money allocated to poor families to help teenagers study for university. MORE
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BRAZIL: Fight for Gay Rights Making Strides

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 25, 2011 (IPS) - Brazil is making progress in cracking down on homophobia and upholding the rights of homosexuals. The latest step was the introduction in Congress of a bill on sexual diversity, sponsored by the bar association in consultation with civil society.

The 109-article bill, which would reform 132 legal provisions, was drafted by a special commission of experts set up by the Federal Council of the national bar association (OAB), who received some 200 suggestions and contributions from activists and social movements over the last four months.

The chief aim is to guarantee the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) population, protect freedom of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender equality, as well as the right to form a family, and fight discrimination, lawyer Maria Berenice Dias, who presides over the OAB's Special Commission on Sexual Diversity, told IPS.

"So far there is no law recognising LGBT rights. I have been working in the area of gay rights for 10 years," said Dias, who set up the OAB commission on Apr. 15.

"We saw the need for broad legislation on this question in Brazil, which has laws protecting children, people with special needs and others, but not homosexuals," she said.

But she noted the historic unanimous ruling handed down by the Supreme Court on May 5, recognising same-sex civil unions.

The verdict helped paved the way for homosexual couples to gain access to rights like a pension, inheritance, and the adoption of children. "It took a decade to achieve that legal recognition by the courts," said Dias.MORE

Huh.

Aug. 27th, 2011 09:09 pm
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PORTUGAL:Young Professionals Flee Crisis - to Former Colonies

LISBON, Aug 22, 2011 (IPS) - Thousands of young people from Portugal are joining an emigration flow that never trickled to a stop but is turning into an exodus now due to the severe economic crisis plaguing this southern European country. And the main destinations of those looking for a better future abroad are former colonies, especially Brazil.

The new emigrants are overwhelmingly young university graduates or skilled technicians, who have failed to find opportunities for personal and professional development at home. Many are drawn by the buoyant optimism prevailing in Brazil, in contrast to the disillusionment and fatalism hanging over Portugal.

The enormous investment this country has made in education in the last two decades seems to be going down the drain – or to Brazil, and to a lesser extent, to other former Portuguese colonies, in Africa and Asia.

For the less-skilled migrants, especially truck drivers, construction equipment operators, construction workers and electricians, the promised land is Angola, where oil and diamonds have made the southwest African country one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Macau, a former Portuguese enclave on the southern coast of China, 70 km southwest of Hong Kong, has also begun to look attractive to victims of the crisis.

The tiny territory, which returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999 after five centuries of Portuguese rule, is often referred to as the Las Vegas of Asia. Besides the robust growth of its travel and tourism market and the presence of a number of Portuguese companies, Macau is attractive to Portuguese investors and traders as a gateway to China.

But it is in Brazil where the Portuguese tend to feel most at home, in terms of cultural identity. "It's like leaving Portugal without really going abroad," Mafalda Assenção, who has a degree in humanities from the University of Lisbon and plans to head overseas, told IPS.

The common language as well as ties with the thriving Portuguese community in Brazil make the country look promising to young people seeking to flee the recession in Portugal.

Young Portuguese professionals who feel they have nothing to lose in a country that offers them neither jobs nor ongoing unemployment benefits find a world of opportunities in moving to the planet's eighth largest economy, which is 94 times the size of Portugal's and has a population 18 times larger than this country.

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Soooo...what will happen to the locals in terms of the job market? And how will this work out in terms of class and race?

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