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Venezuela Launches School for Human Rights & People’s Power


Last week, the Venezuelan Public Defender’s Office launched a school for human rights education that will be run by the state-funded Juan Vives Suria Foundation in Caracas and will carry out seminars in twelve of the country’s 23 states.

The new school will aim to “dismantle the liberal, reductionist, and individualist vision of human rights”, said Gabriela Ramirez, Venezuela’s chief public defender, during a press conference at the foundation, which is named after a Catholic Priest famed for his activism in defense of human rights.

“Our vision is not just to train the staff of the Public Defender’s Office, but rather to build an enduring culture of human rights, just as our constitution calls for, and that it be the communities themselves that have the capacity and the competence to defend their rights”, said Ramirez.

Social workers and community activists who have already been leading human rights campaigns or who have denounced human rights violations will be the initial participants in the school. While enrolment is free of charge, aspirant students must submit a proposal outlining a social problem in their community and how their human rights education will help them solve it. The school will also offer a certificate of training in the new Anti-Corruption Law for local advocates who can vigil the behaviour of government institutions and of their own communal councils.MORE


Venezuela has got issues but I am really curious as to what comes out of this.
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Chilean girls stage 'occupation' of their own school in education rights protestFor five months, girls demanding free university education for all have defied police to occupy their state school


Sleeping on a tiled classroom floor, sharing cigarettes and always on the lookout for police raids, the students of Carmela Carvajal primary and secondary school are living a revolution.

It began early one morning in May, when dozens of teenage girls emerged from the predawn darkness and scaled the spiked iron fence around Chile's most prestigious girl's school. They used classroom chairs to barricade themselves inside and settled in. Five months later, the occupation shows no signs of dying and the students are still fighting for their goal: free university education for all.

A tour of the school is a trip into the wired reality of a generation that boasts the communication tools that feisty young rebels of history never dreamed of. When police forces move closer, the students use restricted Facebook chat sessions to mobilise. Within minutes, they are able to rally support groups from other public schools in the neighbourhood. "Our lawyer lives over there," said Angelica Alvarez, 14, as she pointed to a cluster of nearby homes. "If we yell 'Mauricio' really loud, he leaves his home and comes over."

For five months, the students at Carmela Carvajal have lived on the ground floor, sometimes sleeping in the gym, but usually in the abandoned classrooms where they hauled in a television, set up a private changing room, and began to experience school from a different perspective.

The first thing they did after taking over the school was to hold a vote. Approximately half of the 1,800 students participated in the polls to approve the takeover, and the yays outnumbered the nays 10 to one.

Now the students pass their school days listening to guest lecturers who provide free classes on topics ranging from economics to astronomy. Extracurricular classes include yoga and salsa lessons. At night and on weekends, visiting rock bands set up their equipment and charge 1,000 pesos (£1.25) per person to hear a live jam on the basketball court. Neighbours donate fresh baked cakes and, under a quirk of Chilean law, the government is obliged to feed students who are at school – even students who have shut down education as usual.

So much food has poured in that the students from Carmela Carvajal now regularly pass on their donations to hungry students at other occupied schools.

Municipal authorities have repeatedly attempted to retake the school, sending in police to evict the rebel students and get classes back on schedule, but so far the youngsters have held their ground.

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Secret Cables: Big Pharma's Prints Cover US Foreign Policy


Among the hundreds of thousands of secret US State Department cables recently released by WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblower website, a cache reveals US diplomats defending the interests of big pharmaceutical companies, even at the risk of the hosting nation’s own public health priorities. The memos dutifully detail the many embassy meetings with local Big Pharma reps, during which US officials are presented with laundry lists of issues to raise with one or another local government ministry. Invariably the goal of the exercise is for pharma to pressure the US to pressure the host country to give favorable treatment to expensive brand name drugs, typically by preventing in-country manufacturing or marketing of far cheaper generic versions.

Separate cables show such industry profiteering tactics threatening to taint US diplomatic relations in emerging nations such as Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and India. Overall, a familiar picture emerges of a diplomatic corps if not held hostage by, at least a captive audience to, the financial interests of the biggest American pharma companies as they come into covert conflict with developing nations that quite naturally prioritize the health care of their people over the high margins that Big Pharma has come to expect. With several hundred drugs and vaccines in development to treat addiction, the scourge of hundreds of millions worldwide, the affordability and accessibility of these innovative (and, no doubt, expensive) medicines will become a pitched battle in global public health over the next decade. The outcome of the skirmishes sketched in the WikiLeaks cables will help decide whether profits or people prove victorious.

The cables by no means paint a uniform portrait of government lackeys doing industry's bidding. Many memos betray a between-the-lines irritation at pharma's monomaniacal self-interest. Still, there is a disturbing silence on the obvious moral or ethical objections to industry demands for high price, long patents, and other protections despite the cost in human lives. Only a single cable—from the outgoing US ambassador to Poland in 2009—lays bare the vast greed that drives these complex, highly technical negotiations.

The developing nations, contrary to what you might expect, in many ways hold the best cards in this political game. Emerging nations have the fastest-growing economies, the most upwardly mobile middle classes, and the biggest untapped markets in the world. And in their impressive pushback against Big Pharma, India has been the 800-pound gorilla over the past decade. A democracy with well-educated but relatively inexpensive brain power, the pharma industry views India not merely as a market but as a potential new hub of drug development and testing.

Aware of its advantage, India has played hardball, starting with its approval of local generic HIV drugs for its hundreds of thousands of citizens with the virus—a defiant challenge to Big Pharma, which had refused to discount its own brand-name AIDS drugs to affordable levels. (In the US, HIV treatment costs as much as $15,000 a year; the Indian generic knocked out knockoffs with a $350 price tag.) In addition, India’s supreme court has been fearless in shooting down foreign pharmas when they sue for patent infringement by Indian generic companies. When an emerging nation's entire legal and legislative apparatus unite to oppose industry interests, the company can either fold its hand or fold up its tent. When drug companies retaliated by boycotting India and refusing to sell new drugs there, they attracted universal opprobrium for denying sick people medicines.


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YES!!!!!

Sep. 20th, 2011 12:59 pm
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Chevron loses latest stage of Amazon pollution battle


New York appeals judge unfreezes $18bn damages award over contamination of indigenous tribe's land in Ecuador.


A US court has dealt oil giant Chevron a severe blow after lifting a ban on an $18bn judgment against the firm for contaminating the Amazon.

A New York appeals court has reversed an earlier order freezing enforcement of the record damages award. It is the latest reversal in a nearly two decade-long legal battle over pollution in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador.

In February, a judge in Ecuador ordered Chevron to pay damages to the plaintiffs, but both Chevron and the residents appealed, and the case has yet to make its way to Ecuador's highest court.

In anticipation of the judgment, however, Chevron had filed court papers asking district judge Lewis Kaplan to freeze any possible enforcement of payment anywhere outside Ecuador. Kaplan, who presides over a chunk of the litigation in Manhattan federal court, issued the now-reversed preliminary injunction in March.

Karen Hinton, spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, said the appeals court order meant it had recognised that Kaplan had acted too fast in issuing an injunction. "Chevron abused the law, and Judge Kaplan rushed to judgment without considering the overwhelming evidence against the oil giant," she said in a statement.

"We can now at least dream there will be justice and compensation for the damage, the environmental crime, committed by Chevron in Ecuador," lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, Pablo Fajardo, told the Associated Press.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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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
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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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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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Wikipedia: 2011 Student Protests Naturally the Heritage Foundation would be defending this crap. I wonder how fast the US system will devolve to this?

Students demand the end of the school voucher system in pre-school, primary and secondary levels and the end of the current public university financing policy, that mixes deliberate underfinancing, a shadow toll called "Indirect State Payment" (Aporte Fiscal Indirecto, in Spanish), high parents' payments even in public universities (tuition fees in private and state universities are about the same), and a state-guaranteed loan scheme that allow private banks to finance already high tuition fees. The Chilean system, although defended by researchers linked to the Heritage Foundation, is criticized by researchers like Martin Carnoy[5], blaming on it the tremendous inequalities across all the Chilean educational system, measured by OECD's standards. Chile only spends 4.4% of GDP on education, compared to the 7% of GDP recommended by the UN for developed nations.[6]

The students want those systems replaced by a true publicly financed and managed education system, covering from pre-school to tertiary education.[6]Some segments of the student movement have called for other changes, such as a new constitution or the renationalization of Chile's copper resources in order to fund public education.[7]

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Chilean Students Lock Lips for Love of Schools and use other varied and different methods of protest.

In Chile, months of student demonstrations across the country have given way to mass protests in the capital of Santiago. Nearly 900 protesters have been arrested today in the crackdown against the demonstrations, the New York Times reported.

Tens of thousands of the nation’s high school and college students have been demonstrating for two months against a higher education system that was largely privatized under General Pinochet and since left students in serious debt. Students have called on President Sebastián Piñera to support reforms promising high-quality and free compulsory education and an overhaul of the university system.

But in Chile, protests are not limited to walkouts and marches and hunger strikes, though there have beenplenty of those too. The New York Times reports that at any one time two to three protesters can be seen jogging outside the presidential palace. They’re attempting to reach 1,800 laps to symbolize the $1.8 billion that they want the country to invest in the education system. They have dressed up as superheroes and choreographed dance routines. They’ve staged collective suicides, with lines of people collapsing into the streets at once.

They’ve also staged kiss-ins. Protesters have paired off and started kissing marathons, smooching in the streets to bring attention to their cause.

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I am irritated with the way that a lot of mainstream American and European media has been characterizing the protests (when they haven't been ignoring them) and the whole zomg they are so surreal bit is irritating the fuck out of me in this article. The protesters gave reasons for the fucking things they do. Tell us what they are and stop going OMG what are those crazy ppl doing?!?!?! Chile student protests explode into violence Riot police clash with protesters calling for education reform as anger with Sebastiàn Piñera's government boils over

But on Thursday these surreal protests exploded into violence as school and university students clashed with police and seized a TV station, demanding the right to a live broadcast in order to express their demands.

The Chilean winter, as it is being called, appears to have captured the public mood, just as the Arab spring did six months ago.

After a day of street clashes, 874 people had been arrested and department store in the capital was smouldering after being attacked by protesters. Outrage against the rightwing government of Sebastiàn Piñera boiled over, with polls showing he is more unpopular than any leader since the fall of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Striking school students led the charge as they tried to march on the presidential palace early on Thursday, only to be thwarted by hundreds of police in riot gear and clouds of teargas. Tucapel Jiménez, a member of the Chilean congress, called for sanctions against government authorities who authorised what he called "brutal repression" by riot police.

"This is unacceptable, the centre of Santiago is a state of siege," said university student leader Camila Vallejo, tears rolling down her face after being doused in teargas. "The right to congregate has been violated."

"I don't see any other solution than a general referendum," said Giorgio Jackson, president of the Catholic University student union as he described the distance between student demands and the government offer. "There are some points of agrement, but clearly there are other points that are very relevant and in which we have grand differences." News coverage of students being gassed and hauled off buses by police squads led Vallejo to call for the resignation of Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Chile's interior minister. Government officials insisted the students did not have a permit to march and defended the police reaction as necessary to maintain business as usual in Santiago. Government spokesman Andrés Chadwick estimated vandalism damage at $2m.MORE


Dude. FUCK you and your "business as usual". And FUCK your "permit to march" BULLSHIt too. The point, you specious ass; is that the people are rejecting business as usual. And democracy and the right to air one's grievances are not dependent on a fucking PERMIT. The government serves the people, NOT the other way around.





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We didn't have our sons and daughters for war:Indigenous Peoples From Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Mexico Meet in Cauca, Colombia

North Cauca, Colombia, June 24, 2011: The first meeting of indigenous women in resistance for the survival and autonomy of their peoples concluded on Friday, after taking place at a shelter in Huellas Caloto in the Bodega Alta district in the Cauca department of Colombia. For four days, women and men from northern Cauca, joined with around 26 national and international organizations, discussed “weaving a memory with words,” and finished the event with a march to the town of Santander de Quilichao.

At the meeting, attendees discussed the need for autonomy with their food, and resistance from women. Seeds and traditional agricultural products were exchanged to reflect truth, justice, reparation and law for both indigenous women and a peace proposal. They also denounced and discussed the armed conflict that the country is living in.


In 1971, indigenous people from northern Cauca formed the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which was made up of nine chapters. Currently there are 19 chapters. They fight for their land, food, education, work opportunities and to live in harmony with mother earth. Nelson Lemus Consejero de Paz, with the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN in Spanish initials), said that “the multinational corporations want to dispossess us of our land through war.”

The people have organized cooperatives, including a trout hatchery, yogurt business, crafts market, and more. They are nonviolent, but for many years they have lived with harassment from soldiers. On May 28, 2001, they decided to organize and create what they call the Indigenous Guard, or, Kiwe Thegnas in the Nasa Yuwe indigenous language. The three goals of the group are to “care for, protect, and defend the people,” said Don Germán Valencia and Luis Alberto Mensa, coordinators with the Guard. MORE
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BRAZIL: Rainbow of Colours and Gender Equality at Innovative School


SÃO PAULO, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In the last three years there have been no teen pregnancies among the youngsters at Casa do Zezinho, an extracurricular educational and cultural facility in Brazil attended by 1,500 children and young people from favelas or shantytowns on the south side of São Paulo.

A unique experiment in the sex education workshops has helped prevent teen pregnancy, a problem that tends to lead to school dropout and fuels poverty. Three years ago, a few boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 20 were selected to be the "pregnant" ones in class, and to wear a plastic belly for a few months that grows as the pregnancy advances.


The selected youngsters miss out on activities that pregnant women would normally have to avoid, such as engaging in sports like football – especially frustrating for the "pregnant" boys – or swimming in the pool on the Casa do Zezinho's 3,200 square metre property.

"All they could do was practice yoga," Dagmar Garroux, the founder and president of the institution who is known as "Tía Dag" or Auntie Dag, laughingly comments to IPS.

After the youngsters wear the growing belly month to month, the baby – a papier maché doll they have made themselves – is "born" and they have to care for the new infant, nursing and bathing it and changing the diapers – all of the responsibilities faced by young parents.

And they continue to miss the dances and parties organised at the Casa, just like adolescent mothers in the favelas, Garroux said.

Thanks to these and other creative initiatives, "the cycle of teenage pregnancy was broken" and the use of condoms increased among the youngsters attending the Casa, she said.


...
When she came to the area to live and work, Garroux was a teacher who was dissatisfied with the "stupid" conventional teaching methods "stuck in the 19th century," which made her switch schools "every three months." In 1994, she founded Casa do Zezinho.

She developed what she calls the "rainbow teaching system", used in all activities at the centre, which is attended by youngsters from the surrounding favelas. The method is based on equal treatment for everyone, girls and boys as well as teachers and students, and on the concept that educating is love and sharing.

The day that IPS visited the Casa, the teachers stressed that they did not treat boys and girls, or gauge their academic progress, differently, since the goal is to strengthen their autonomy and personalities – somewhat revolutionary in a community where many parents still believe it is a "waste of time" for their daughters to go to school.

Garroux has had to convince many mothers that staying in school is the only way their daughters can have a chance at a better life than they themselves have had, and can have the same opportunities as boys and men – although she clarifies that they will still face widespread sexist discrimination and stereotypes.

"But they will have a much better opportunity to leave behind the cycle of violence, submission and poverty," said Tia Dag, who has become an expert at detecting signs of violence or sexual abuse among girls, and along with her team and social workers helps find solutions and therapy for the perpetrators and the victims.MORE
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Peru cancels mine after 6 killed in clash.

Peru's government canceled a Canadian-owned silver mine in the southern highlands Friday after six people were killed and at least 30 wounded when police fired on mostly indigenous protesters opposing the project.

Protesters also attacked a police station and a state bank in a second city.

The bloodshed occured when police turned back protesters who tried to take over an airport near the city of Juliaca in Puno state, an area they have paralyzed with road blockades since May 9 in a bid to cancel the Santa Ana mine as well as a proposed hydroelectric project on the Inambari river.

The outgoing government of President Alan Garcia announced after leftist military man Ollanta Humala won the presidential election June 5 that it was scrapping the Inambari project. In April, it canceled a huge copper mining project in another southern state after three protesters died in clashes with police.

Mining accounts for two-thirds of Peru's export earnings and has been the underpinning of a decade of robust economic growth, but the rural poor have benefited little from mining and complain it contaminates their water and crops.

Dr. Percy Casaperalta, who directed the evacuation of wounded after Friday's clash at Manco Capac airport, said at least 4,000 protesters were involved. He provided the toll of six dead and at least 30 wounded by telephone from the local hospital Carlos Monge Medrano.


Gracía's government is still at it.
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Women gain power in Brazil's Planalto palace

Brazil's first woman president now has ten women in her cabinet, two short of her 30 per cent target.

By appointing women to two key ministries this month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has nearly met her goal of having a cabinet comprising at least 30 per cent women, with women in predominant roles at the Planalto Palace, the seat of government.

Rose Marie Muraro, a writer and pioneer of Brazil's feminist movement in the 1970s who, like Rousseff herself, inspired many of the women in politics today, is enthusiastic.

"The hard core of power is in the hands of women, and that is very important," said Muraro, who was declared by law a "National Patron of Feminism" by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010).

Muraro is also a role model for women such as Gleisi Hoffmann, who was appointed chief of staff on June 7.

A lawyer and former senator, Hoffmann is nicknamed "the tractor" in the capital's political circles because of her hard work and ability to get things done. She replaced Antonio Palocci, forced to resign over questions about the sudden 20-fold expansion of his personal fortune.

Although there is no proof of illicit enrichment, Palocci's position as Rousseff's "right-hand man" became politically untenable for the governing Workers' Party (PT) and its allied political forces.

The president, who on July 1 will complete her first six months at the head of a moderate left-wing government, surprised politicians again on June 10 by transferring Ideli Salvatti, one of the most combative PT leaders, from the Fisheries Ministry to the key Institutional Relations Ministry where she will serve as Rousseff's chief liaison with Congress.

Brazil's first woman president now has ten women in her cabinet of 38 ministers, so she needs two more to meet her self-imposed target of 30 per cent. MORE
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xposted:

The Chilling Beauty of Brazil's Green Desert

A catastrófica monocultura de eucalipto pelas empresas privadas nas cabeceiras dos rios e riachos, além de envenenar o solo, expulsou a fauna e flora do local, secou as nascentes e o lençol freático. O deserto verde do eucalipto tornou-se uma calamidade socioambiental. A região já foi auto-suficiente em alimentos essenciais, cultivados pela agricultura familiar, integrados com a natureza. A situação mudou radicalmente, exibindo riachos completamente secos, sem olhos d’água, rios cada vez mais baixos e assoreados, praticamente toda a alimentação proveniente de distribuidores em Belo Horizonte, pastos abandonados. Enquanto isso, as transnacionais de eucalipto e celulose engordavam os lucros.


The disastrous concept behind growing company-owned eucalyptus monocultures in river and stream sources not only poisoned the soil, but also destroyed local flora and fauna and dried up streams and the water table. Consequently, the eucalyptus green desert became a social and environmental calamity. The region already produced essential foods in a sustainable manner, as food was grown using integrated farming, but the situation changed radically. The streams completely dried up, there were no freshwater springs, water levels gradually decreased, silt levels increased, farms were abandoned and practically all food came from distributors in Belo Horizante. Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and cellulose transnational corporations were making huge profits.

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Or maybe its this: "Exploitation by Any Other Name (Might be Monsanto)"

Whoever titled the sections had a definite sense of humor...



GMOS and Peru: The Debate Continues


In Peru, the debate over the introduction of GMOs into the country has been very public, involving a plethora of participants such as scientists, chefs, farmers, restaurant owners, politicians, and far-ranging members of civil society. Several Peruvian regions, including Cusco, Lambayeque, Huánuco, Ayacucho, and San Martín, were the first to declare themselves “GMO-free zones.”[i] Lima soon joined as the newest GMO-free zone in late April.[ii] This move came just days after President Alan García and former Peruvian Minister of Agriculture Rafael Quevedo had signed Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG on April 15.[iii]

The decree, which was actually drawn up two years ago, set up an agency to regulate the research, production, and trade of GMOs.[iv] Rafael Quevedo, who has since resigned from office due to intense criticism surrounding his stance on GMOs, claimed that the order was merely “a regulation which tries to eliminate errors, control the use of genetically modified organisms, and make sure they don’t come into the country if they are found to be a risk.”[v] However, many citizens felt that the decree paved the way for a flood of transgenic products into the country, which could hurt its rich biodiversity and its growing market for high quality organic products. The immediate backlash against the signing of the decree indicated that there, indeed, existed widespread support for a GMO-free Peru. Such indications were soon confirmed, as Peru’s Congress recently repealed the decree on June 8 by a 56 to 0 vote, with two abstentions.[vi] The bill has placed a “10-year moratorium on the entrance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation and breeding or any other type of transgenic products.”[vii] However, the transgenic battle in Peru is far from decidedly won, as the moratorium simply puts the heated spar on a temporary hold.


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Corruption scandal rocks Argentina rights group

A corruption scandal rocking one of Argentina's leading human rights organisation is now tainting the country's president, Christina Kirchner.

Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports.


Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Scandal 'Toxic' for President

BUENOS AIRES, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - Above and beyond the impact it might have on Argentina's Oct. 23 general elections, few doubt that the government of Cristina Fernández will feel the effects of the fraud scandal involving the alleged misuse of public funds by the former right-hand man of the head of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association.

The latest survey by pollster Enrique Zuleta found that nearly 53 percent of respondents believe the scandal is a serious problem that will have far-reaching consequences for politics and the country's institutions, and that the effects are not merely limited to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The Mothers, a world-renowned human rights group, emerged 34 years ago during the 1976-1983 dictatorship to protest the forced disappearance of their children.

The scandal involves Sergio Schoklender, who was the chief adviser to activist Hebe de Bonafini – the head of the Mothers Association – and the financial manager of the foundation set up by the human rights group.

Early this month the Association fired Schoklender and several of his associates after legal charges were brought against them for fraud, illegal enrichment and money laundering in relation to government funds that went to the foundation for the purpose of building low-income housing to replace slums.MORE
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The End of Capitalism and the Wellsprings of Radical Hope

But the iniquity of capitalism goes deeper than its injustice as a political economy, its amoral ingenuity in technical prowess or its rapacious relationship to the natural world. However lissome its face or benign its manner, capitalism compels us to be greedy, callous and petty. It takes what the Greeks called pleonexia—an endless hunger for more and more—and transforms it from a tawdry and dangerous vice into the central virtue of the system. The sanctity of “growth” in capitalist culture stems from this moral alchemy, as does the elevation of market competition into a model of human affairs.

The truth is that people matter more than money. While most everyone would agree with that statement, few of us direct our lives guided by the principle.
benchamp



Conscripting us into an economic war, capitalism turns us into soldiers of fortune, steeled against casualties and collateral damage, ransacking the earth to fill the shelves and banks with plunder. Capitalism stands condemned most profoundly not by its maldistribution of wealth or its ecological despoliation but by its systematic cultivation of people inclined toward injustice and predation. And I think we on the left need to start dismissing as utterly irrelevant the standard apologetic riposte: the material prosperity and technological achievement generated by capitalist enterprise. No amount of goods can compensate for the damage wrought on human nature by the deliberate nurturance of our vilest qualities. The desecration of the values we claim to hold most dear is the primary reason we should want to abolish, not reinvent, capitalism.MOR



Personally, I'm beginning to agree.
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2010 Chicago’s $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy: For the first time in the U.S., the city’s 49th Ward lets taxpayers directly decide how public money is spent.


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The start: 2002 Porto Alegre's Budget Of, By, And For the People

Fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre—poor and middle class, women and men, leftist and centrist—now take part in the participatory budgeting process for this city of a million and a half people, and the numbers involved have grown each year since its start in 1989. Then, only 75 percent of homes had running water.

Today 99 percent have treated water and 85 percent have piped sewage. In seven years, housing assistance jumped from 1,700 families to 29,000. In 12 years, the number of public schools increased from 29 to 86, and literacy has reached 98 percent. Each year the bulk of new street-paving projects has gone to the poorer, outlying districts. In addition to these achievements, corruption, which before was the rule, has virtually disappeared.

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Wikipedia article:Social Movements practicing Partiscipatory Democracy

The Six Nations:Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth

The people of the Six Nations, also known by the French term, Iroquois [1] Confederacy, call themselves the Hau de no sau nee (ho dee noe sho nee) meaning People Building a Long House. Located in the northeastern region of North America, originally the Six Nations was five and included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, migrated into Iroquois country in the early eighteenth century. Together these peoples comprise the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. Their story, and governance truly based on the consent of the governed, contains a great deal of life-promoting intelligence for those of us not familiar with this area of American history. The original United States representative democracy, fashioned by such central authors as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, drew much inspiration from this confederacy of nations. In our present day, we can benefit immensely, in our quest to establish anew a government truly dedicated to all life's liberty and happiness much as has been practiced by the Six Nations for over 800 hundred years. [2] MORE


Wikipedia links to Criticism

Reviewing the experience in Brazil and Porto Alegre a World Bank paper points out that lack of representation of extremely poor people in participatory budgeting can be a shortcoming. Participation of the very poor and of the young is highlighted as a challenge.[6] Participatory budgeting may also struggle to overcome existing clientelism. Other observations include that particular groups are less likely to participate once their demands have been met and that slow progress of public works can frustrate participants.[6]
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From this World Bank paper: PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING IN BRAZIL* Quick and easy read btw



Liberty Tree's 2004 Prospects for Participatory Democracy in the USA


The Participatory Budgeting Project


In light of the ongoing lets gut the poor to feed the rich trends happening around the world, what do you guys think of this alternative?
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ISRAEL

Workers' Strikes and Protests in Israel
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Israel – Social workers’ strike, confronting a privatized state

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LIBERIA-COTE D' IVOIRE
LIBERIA-COTE D'IVOIRE Border Villages Sharing the Little They Have

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HONDURAS

CODEMUH: Women's Resistance in Honduras


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LIBYA

Something that I missed a couple of weeks ago

On March 10 : Libyan Women March In Support Of Rebellion
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SYRIA

Syrian cabinet to resign next week: informed sources: Syria to announce constitutional reform: sources

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BRITAIN <Do you remember Olive Morris? Red Chidgey reports on a collective of women using the internet to reactivate forgotten activist histories

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War on Want: Poverty is political:On the occasion of War on Want’s 60th anniversary, Sue Branford looks at the turbulent history of this uniquely left-wing charity

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BANGLADESH

Laia Blanch spoke to Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh

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UNITED NATIONS

Patriarchy and Fundamentalism Two Sides of the Same Coin

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PAKISTAN

Divided Between the Mullah and the Model

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Pakistani Actress Defies Mullah Accusing Her of Immoral Behavior on an Indian Reality TV Show

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CHINA

Death Sentence Looms for Filipino Drug Mules in China


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BRAZIL

Women Workers Determined to Ride the Wave of Mechanisation

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MEXICO

We Have Everything And Lack Everything: In Mexico, Community Police Resist Mining Companies

The southern Mexican state of Guerrero in the 1980's and 90's saw rising violence and insecurity due to government neglect, and in some cases involvement, and a corrupt judicial system. The problem came to a head in 1995 when state police massacred 39 campesinos at Aguas Blancas.

That same year, a series of regional assemblies were held in the Costa Chica and Montaña area in southeast Guerrero leading to the decision that the communities would start their own police force comprised of volunteers. In 1998, in addition to patrolling and detaining suspected criminals, the communities began their own justice and community reeducation program to deal with offenders. The CRAC (Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities), as this effort was christened, is now comprised of over 60 communities and around 100,000 people, and counts on the assistance of 750 volunteer police from the communities themselves. It acts as a parallel authority to state and local government, dealing with almost all aspects of community life through traditional assemblies and consensus.And then came the mining companies...




ATF’s PR Gun Busts Perpetuate Drug-War Fairy Tale

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Women Human Rights Defenders Risk Death, Discrimination

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Meet the 41 Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholars, Class of 2011 :These Talents of Social Conscience Will Come Together for Ten Days of Intensive Training in Mexico in May

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BOLIVIA

From Red October to Evo Morales: The Politics of Rebellion and Reform in Bolivia

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Bolivian President Uses Former DEA Agent’s Book to Send Message to the World


Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this week held up a book, titled “La Guerra Falsa,” for the world to see.



COLOMBIA


Celebrating Popular Struggle in Cauca, Colombia

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Colombia Students talk about sexual diversity

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BAHRAIN and SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi soldiers sent into Bahrain
Saudi troops and police from UAE deployed to Gulf neighbour to help protect government facilities after weeks of unrest.

Hundreds of Saudi troops have entered Bahrain to help protect government facilities there amid escalating protests against the government.

Bahrain television on Monday broadcast images of troops in armoured cars entering the Gulf state via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

The arrival of the troops follows a request to members of the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) from Bahrain, whose Sunni rulers have faced weeks of protests and growing pressure from a majority Shia population to institute political reforms.

The United Arab Emirates has also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister.

The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.MORE




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[personal profile] azuirehas links and commentary including ways to help.

Massive tsunami devastates Japan

Coastline swamped and hundreds dead as biggest quake in centuries sends wave crashing ashore and puts Pacific on alert.


Hundreds of people are dead after one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Japan, triggering a devastating 10-metre-high tsunami along parts of the country's northeastern coastline.

The massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday afternoon local time, creating gigantic waves which swept away cars, boats, homes and people as the surging water overwhelmed coastal barriers.

Widespread fires burned out of control and Japan's nuclear industry was on alert as reactors shut down automatically as a safety precaution. Millions are reported to be without electricity, airports are closed and public transport in Tokyo and other cities has come to a halt as Japan reels amid the twin devastations.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai where hundreds of buildings have collapsed. Japan's NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned. Police said another 88 were confirmed killed and 349 were missing.

Thousands of people living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture were ordered to evacuate after the reactor developing a cooling fault. Officials said the move was a precaution and there was no evidence of leaking radiation.

Meanwhile, countries around the Pacific basin are on tsunami alert amid warnings that a wall of water could completely wash over low-lying islands.MORE


Why Japan is prone to earthquakes

Al Jazeera's senior meteorologist Steff Gaulter gives insight into why earthquakes and tsunamis strike the island nation of Japan:

To put the effects of the latest earthquake in Japan in context, it could help to compare it to other recent quakes: the Haiti earthquake was 7.0 magnitude; the Chile one was 8.8 and the New Zealand one was 6.3.

"So, this as an 8.9, bigger than any of those. It is the seventh-most powerful earthquake that has ever been recorded. So we are talking about a massive earthquake there.

The reason for this activity is because of where Japan is situated, on the joint of four different plates.

"So we have got the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate to the east; and to the west, we have got the North America plate and the Eurasian plate. And what is happening is that the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate are heading towards the west; they are going underneath the other two plates and that is what is causing all the problems.MORE
Video too at link


From California to Chile, residents prepare for waves


Nicaragua: The government issued a green alert for the Pacific area, which makes up 427 coastal kilometers and is home to 100,000 people early this morning. The Chief of Civil Defense, Mario Perezcassar mobilized units to the area, though he has not yet ordered evacuation.

(More on TIME.com: See stunning video of the Japan quake)

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and ordered evacuation of the entire coastal region as well as the Galápagos Islands, taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. “If nothing happens, then that's great, but we can't take any risks,” Correa told reporters. Ecuador's heavy crude oil pipeline operator suspended oil shipments.

Colombia: Issued an alert, though no evacuation was ordered. Luz Amanda Pulido, the director of the National System for Disaster Attention and Prevention had a higher alert for the four Pacific coastal regions of Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.


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Still a Ways to Go, After Historic Ruling Against Chevron

QUITO, Feb 16, 2011 (IPS) - The plaintiffs in the case against Chevron tried in Ecuador, who won a historic 9.5 billion dollar verdict after a nearly 18-year struggle over environmental and health damages caused in a quarter-century of oil operations in the Amazon jungle, are not disheartened by the road still ahead.

Chevron announced that it would appeal the sentence handed down Monday by Judge Nicolás Zambrano in Nueva Loja, the capital of the northeastern Ecuadorian province of Sucumbíos, which found the U.S. oil company guilty of an environmental disaster in the Amazon jungle, as locals have been arguing in legal action that began in 1993.

"This was a trial on behalf of the people, and the beneficiaries are not just the (30,000) plaintiffs but all of the inhabitants of the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana," some 223,000 people, Juan Pablo Sáenz, one of the members of the plaintiffs' legal team, told IPS.MORE



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Disabled Women Activists are Loud, Proud and Passionate!

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development. As part of their 30th anniversary celebration, they created this "Loud, Proud and Passionate!" video. They filmed it during their 5th International Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) - here's how they describe it:Signing and singing with passion in Arabic, Spanish and English, 54 disabled women activists from 43 countries celebrate the achievements, pride and solidarity of women with disabilities around the world. These leaders are revolutionizing the status of women and girls worldwide. MORE


BANGLADESH



2009 article:Women with disabilities in Bangladesh marching forward

Women with disabilities (WWD) have been marching forward with capabilities and commendable role in different arenas of development in Bangladesh. They are gaining prominence day by day and lighting the way forward.

Ranjana selected as International Bridge Builder of Harvard University
Umme Kulsum Ranjana, has been prestigiously selected as one among ten International BridgeBuilders of Harvard University for her contribution in organizing women with disabilities’ rights movement in Bangladesh. Ranjana is a woman with physical disability and the President of Protibondhi Narider Jatio Parishad (National Council of Disabled Women-NCDW) a nation-wide network of organizations working with the women with disabilities in Bangladesh. Now Ranjona is participating in the International Conference of Bridge Builders at Harvard University, USA to deliver her speech on Experiences of Mobilizing Women with Disabilities in Rural Bangladesh held on 6-10 April 2009. Ranjona is the first Bangladeshi woman who has been selected for this award.



....






Masuma’s 13th Solo Painting Exhibition is going on

13th Solo Painting Exhibition ‘My Dream’ of Masuma Khan started at Gallery Zoom of Alliance Francaise de Dhaka on 3April 2009 and will continue until 17 April 2009. Masuma Khan, a woman with severe physical disability, who has been recognized as a renowned painter in Bangladesh. She started painting at her very childhood at the age of three. Previously she was awarded President’s Medal as a talented child artist; Jaycees Prize; Anonna Award as the recognition of one among ten best women personalities in Bangladesh. Masuma got her graduation degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.MORE

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