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EcoMobility Gaining Ground, Step by Step

CHANGWON, South Korea, Nov 1, 2011 (Tierramérica) - Berlin is a big capital city of a country famed for making excellent automobiles, but it can no longer afford roads and is now moving people by transit, bike and especially through walking.

Berlin is not alone. Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogotá, New York City and other major cities simply cannot afford the cost, the pollution, the noise and the congestion of more cars. They are embracing a new concept called EcoMobility - mobility without private cars.

"EcoMobility is not only walking, cycling and public transportation. It is about these three systems clicking together: connectivity is the key," Gil Peñalosa, former director of parks and recreation in Bogotá, Colombia, told those attending the EcoMobility Changwon 2011 congress.

The congress on Mobility for the Future of Sustainable Cities was organised by the South Korean city of Changwon and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an association of local government members from more than 1,220 cities in 70 countries.

"The famous Times Square in New York City is now a permanent pedestrian mall. Who would have believed that could happen just three years ago?" Peñalosa commented to Tierramérica.

"Five years ago who would have thought Paris would have over 22,000 bikes as part of a tremendously successful bike sharing system?" added Peñalosa, who is now the executive director of 8-80 Cities, an NGO based in Toronto that promotes walking, cycling, parks and urban trails to improve the public life of cities. MORE
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2010 Could a rusty coin re-write Chinese-African history?



It is not much to look at - a small pitted brass coin with a square hole in the centre - but this relatively innocuous piece of metal is revolutionising our understanding of early East African history, and recasting China's more contemporary role in the region.

A joint team of Kenyan and Chinese archaeologists found the 15th Century Chinese coin in Mambrui - a tiny, nondescript village just north of Malindi on Kenya's north coast.

In barely distinguishable relief, the team leader Professor Qin Dashu from Peking University's archaeology department, read out the inscription: "Yongle Tongbao" - the name of the reign that minted the coin some time between 1403 and 1424.

"These coins were carried only by envoys of the emperor, Chengzu," Prof Qin said.

"We know that smugglers would often take them and melt them down to make other brass implements, but it is more likely that this came here with someone who gave it as a gift from the emperor."

And that poses the question that has excited both historians and politicians: How did a coin from the early 1400s get to East Africa, almost 100 years before the first Europeans reached the region?

When China ruled the seas

The answer seems to be with Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho - a legendary Chinese admiral who, the stories say, led a vast fleet of between 200 and 300 ships across the Indian Ocean in 1418.

Until recently, there have only been folk tales and insubstantial hints at how far Zheng He might have sailed.

Then, a few years ago, fishermen off the northern Kenyan port town of Lamu hauled up 15th Century Chinese vases in their nets, and the Chinese authorities ran DNA tests on a number of villagers who claimed Chinese ancestry.

The tests seemed to confirm what the villagers have always believed - that a ship from Zheng He's fleet sank in a storm and the surviving crew married locals, meaning some people in the area still have subtly Chinese features.

MORE


via the Blasian Narrative.
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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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ETA: [personal profile] akuma_river has a wealth of links for Libya

US commander warns of Libya stalemate

Mike Mullen says ousting Gaddafi is not the goal of the military operation in Libya, but a no-fly zone is now in place.


Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, has said the military operation in Libya called for by the UN Security Council is not aimed at regime change - adding that a "stalemate" could well exist, leaving Muammar Gaddafi in power.

The 64-year-old admiral also said that no-fly zone had "effectively been established", as Gaddafi's planes had not taken to the skies following Saturday's overnight shelling of dozens of targets in northern Libya.

"In the first 24 hours, operations have established the no-fly zone. French air planes are over Benghazi as we speak and will do that on a 24/7 basis. The operations have taken out some ground forces near Benghazi, taken out air defences, some of his control nodes, some of his airfields,
I don’t have all damage assessments, but so far [it's been] very very effective," he said.

Gaddafi "was attacking Benghazi and we are there to stop that ... we are ending his ability to attack us from the ground, so he will not continue to execute his own people.

Mullen, the most senior officer in the US military, denied that any civilians had been killed in the bombardment, which saw some 110 cruise missiles being shot from American naval vessels in the Mediterranean sea.

Libyan state TV has reported that death toll from the air strikes has risen to more than 60.


It's understood that 20 of 22 Libyan targets were hit in the overnight assault, "with varying levels of damage", a military source told Reuters.

Mullen also said the US would be handing command of the operation to "a coalition" of militaries, with support coming from the Arab world, as well as NATO members.

"There are forces, airplanes in particular from Qatar, who are moving into position as we speak.
There are other countries who have committed - I'd rather have them publicly announce that commitment.MORE




Here's the Al Jazeera liveblog

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Deaths reported in China quake see map at link

At least 25 killed and more than 250 injured in earthquake near border with Myanmar.
The epicentre of the 5.4-magnitude quake, which struck at 12:58pm (0458 GMT), was located about 225km west-southwest of Dali in Yunnan province, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported on Thursday.
China Central Television said the quake hit while many people, including students, were home for a customary midday rest. The report said at least two students were among those killed, but didn't give details.
The state broadcaster showed several buildings with concrete foundations that had cracked and buckled.
On Friday, tremors from a separate quake off Japan's Pacific coast could be felt in Beijing, Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reported. No injuries or damage was immediately reported in China from the massive quake, which has devastated much of northeastern Japan.
CCTV reported that about 100 armed police, firefighters and soldiers were using three excavators to try to rescue a man and a girl trapped inside a four-story building that had partially collapsed in Thursday's quake.MORE




Read more... )
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Because everyone likes to talk about it in a "clash of superpowers" sort of way, always carry your salt with you when reading stories like the following...

A man convicted of selling military secrets to China is due up for a potential life sentence. His defense was that he did help design some systems for companies in China, but that the designs he used were not marked secret and were older technology.

Steel from a Chinese firm was convincingly tied to nuclear plants in Iran, which can only make people who think sanctions and blockades work tear their hair out at how much China appears to be for sanctions, and then turns around and sells to Iran anyway. Not that other countries are blameless - the United States offers plenty of waivers to do business with organizations and countries that they're technically banned from.

Perhaps the one that will raise the fear-hackles the most (for those prone to that kind of fear), the possibility that the newly unveiled stealth fighter from China uses technology reverse-engineered from a United States craft shot down in the Kosovo region.

If you're in the United States, all of these things and the general "clash of superpowers" narrative means that you're going to be bombarded with messages saying that defense spending can't be cut just in case China gets worldwide domination ambitions and goes on a conquering tear. Why they would want to, we're not sure, but it probably has something to do with the fantasy that they'll leverage debt holdings to crush the United States and then send all their young men out to conquer and destroy.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program of anti-government demonstrations on the African continent.
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Silicon Sweat Shops

[Editor’s note: Silicon Sweatshops is a five-part investigation of the supply chains that produce many of the world’s most popular technology products, from Apple iPhones, to Nokia cell phones, Dell keyboards and more. The series examines the scope of the problem, including its effects on workers from the Philippines,Taiwan and China. It also looks at a novel factory program that may be a blueprint for solving this perennial industry problem.]

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hourly wages below a dollar. Firings with no notice. Indifferent bosses. Labor brokers that leech away months of a worker's hard-earned wages. A corporate shell game that leaves no one responsible.

Such conditions are widespread at the contract factories cranking out some of the most popular gadgets on the holiday season’s gift lists, according to labor rights activists and workers interviewed by GlobalPost.

Whether it's your cherished iPhone, Nokia cell phone or Dell keyboard, it was likely made and assembled in Asia by workers who have few rights, and often toil under sweatshop-like conditions, activists say.

[China's labor suicides: China worker suicides: a lost generation? and Foxconn suicides: Why higher pay won't work]

...

By the time a gadget reaches Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City or any other U.S. retailer, it may have passed through the hands of a heavily indebted Filipina migrant worker on the graveyard shift in Taiwan, a Taiwanese "quality control" worker who'll soon be fired without warning, and a young Chinese worker clocking 80-hour weeks on a final assembly line, at less than a dollar an hour.

Recent years have seen a drumbeat of reports on such abuses. In 2006, in an audit following a British media report, Apple found that workers in a factory assembling iPods in China were working excessive overtime hours.

Earlier this year, the Pittsburgh-based National Labor Committee, a nonprofit human rights group, alleged that workers at a supplier to Microsoft, Dell and other brands in Dongguan, China, were clocking mandatory 81-hour weeks, on average. (Dell said in an email that a "corrective action plan" has since been developed after a joint audit of the firm with other customers. A Microsoft spokesperson said it was investigating the supplier firm and would make any "necessary improvements.")

Embarrassed companies have vowed to do better. They've drafted "codes of conduct" for their Asian suppliers, and promised more factory audits to catch abuses.

 

here's the problem
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How a Tiny Town Sent an International Water Giant Packing:In the fight for water independence, Felton, California has become a symbol of what can be achieved.


In 2008, weeks after communities all over the United States celebrated the Fourth of July, the tiny town of Felton, Calif., marked its own holiday: Water Independence Day. With barbecue, music, and dancing, residents marked the end of Felton’s six-year battle to gain control of its water system. The fight, like the festivities, was a grassroots effort. For when a large, private corporation bought Felton’s water utility and immediately raised rates, residents organized, leading what was ultimately a successful campaign for public ownership and inspiring other communities nationwide.MORE


World's Water Supply: Here Are the Haves and Have Nots

British-based risk consultancy Maplecroft has released a new report showing which countries have the most precarious and stable water supplies. The report is intended to help guide investors, underscoring just how serious water supply is getting when it comes to the world economy. From farming to manufacturing, investors in various industries are starting to seriously weigh where they put their money based on how secure water supplies are or will be, and companies with interests in areas with unstable water supplies are having to put water efficiency in a place of priority. Though it focuses on areas of risk, the report also reveals whole new areas in water where investors may want to pile in funds.
Reuters reports, "African nations led by Somalia, Mauritania and Sudan have the most precarious water supplies in the world while Iceland has the best, according to a survey on Thursday that aims to alert companies to investment risks... A "water security risk index" of 165 nations found African and Asian nations had the most vulnerable supplies, judged by factors including access to drinking water, per capita demand and dependence on rivers that first flow through other nations."MORE


The Price of Water: A Comparison of Water Rates, Usage in 30 U.S. Cities

A first of its kind survey of residential water use and prices in 30 metropolitan regions in the United States has found that some cities in rain-scarce regions have the lowest residential water rates and the highest level of water use. A family of four using 100 gallons per person each day will pay on average $34.29 a month in Phoenix compared to $65.47 for the same amount in Boston.

The survey, conducted by Circle of Blue over the last several months, also found that average daily residential water use ranged from a low of 41 gallons per person in Boston to a high of 211 gallons per person in Fresno, Calif.MORE


Philippines: Manila Water Crisis

Metro Manila, the national capital region of the Philippines, is now experiencing a water shortage crisis with millions enduring water supply rationing. Desperate for a bath, disgruntled residents have taken to breaking a water pipe in Malabon City. Filipino bloggers try to make sense of the crisis. Blackshama's blog finds the fact this rationing is done during the rainy season worrisome.
August is historically the wettest month. Unless weather patterns change, next month may be the driest August. September is the last month of the wet season and then the dry begins. The only thing to be done is to lessen water use.
MORE


Will Drinking Water for Millions be Devastated by Natural Gas Drilling?

The ordinary tap water available to 12 million residents in the New York Metropolitan area has been reliably clean and flavorful since 1842, when an aqueduct was built to bring pristine water from upstate to the city. For years the prideful city's water is a consistent winner in blind taste tests. Easy to take for granted, it comes as a shock to learn it is now endangered by natural gas drilling.

For a couple of years there have been media reports from Pennsylvania to Texas of drinking water so tainted that folks are able to light the water from their kitchen tap on fire. There have been more than 300 instances of contaminated water in Colorado since 2003, and more than 700 instances in New Mexico, according to Bruce Baizel, senior staff attorney with Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project. In West Virginia a once lushly forested area has been transformed into a dead zoneMORE


Community Water Solutions in Action in Laos

XIENG NGEUN, Laos -- With just 13.4 percent of the country’s 6.3 million people having access to piped water at present, Lao authorities would have to work more than double time if the rest of the population are to have clean and safe water within a decade.

Here in Xieng Ngeun however, no one is waiting for the government alone to provide the townspeople with their water needs.

Located 25 kilometres south of the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang and part of the province of the same name, Xieng Ngeun boasts of having Laos’s first water-supply and sanitation project in which the community has taken part in all its stages, from planning to implementation.
MORE


One Year After Ontario Ban: Over 80 Percent Decline of Pesticides in Surface Waters

In April 2009, it became illegal to sell or apply pesticides for cosmetic lawncare in Ontario, Canada. It seems like a no-brainer risk versus benefits analysis: the benefit is ...hmmm, just cosmetic...while the risks are real, documented, and pervasive. But somehow the allure of a green, weed-free lawn keeps conquering rationality. A year later, does the preliminary data on the effectiveness of Ontario's cosmetic pesticide ban prove it is a good idea?

The scope of the pesticide ban is described on the News Ontario website:

Pesticides cannot be used for cosmetic purposes on lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, patios, driveways, cemeteries, and in parks and school yards. There are no exceptions for pest infestations (insects, fungi or weeds) in these areas, as lower risk pesticides, biopesticides and alternatives to pesticides exist. More than 250 pesticide products are banned for sale and over 95 pesticide ingredients are banned for cosmetic uses.


If you are a World Cup fan or a golf player, you might be asking yourself: but what about a perfectly groomed playing field? The Ontario ban provides for the continued use of some banned pesticides for special applications, under strict oversight of the Ministry of the Environment. Other exceptions include combatting poisonous plants or disease-carrying insects.MORE



In New Mexico, Ancient Traditions Keep Desert Waters Flowing

New Mexico has a spiritual power emanating from the landscape -- its rios, mesas, llanos, sierras -- that informs our traditional cultures.

Native Americans live each day in a vibrant relationship with everything around them. For them, New Mexico is not just a place to live. It is a way to live.

Similarly, Indo-Hispanos have created an intimate relationship with the landscape over the past three or four centuries. They built acequias -- communal irrigation systems—not only to sustain an agricultural lifestyle, but also to caress and sustain the Earth and its natural creatures.

Acequias evolved over 10,000 years in the deserts of the Middle East and were introduced into southern Spain by the Moors during their nearly 800-year occupation. Spanish colonizers took acequias to the New World. Acequias included specific governance over water distribution, water scarcity plans, and all other matters pertaining to what was viewed as a communal resource. The mayordomo, or watermaster, of the acequia made decisions about water distribution among community members, with the consent and advice of the acequia members.

This communal system of irrigating was a response to the scarcity of water in arid regions and was key to the survival of agricultural communities. In many instances, the acequia governance system was also used to settle other community conflicts, especially in areas like New Mexico, located far from the seat of government in Mexico City. The irrigation system that evolved over centuries and that was implemented in New Mexico was created to ensure a formal civil process to resolve water-rights issues, especially in dry times. Each irrigator had one vote to elect the mayordomo. The mayordomo had ultimate authority over water disputes and his word was final. He derived his authority from the communal power vested in him by all of the irrigators.MORE



Ugandans Return Home to a Demolished Water Infrastructure

AUSTRAILIA: The Biggest Dry is Global Warning of Water Scarcity

The Price of Hydropower Pursuits in Patagonia

War on Water: A Clash Over Oil, Power and Poverty in the Niger Delta

The Himalayas, A Special Report
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Listening Post / Listening Post - Yemen news coverage



Media coverage of Yemen and terrorism, Macau ten years since the handover of Macau to China.


Listening Post / Listening Post - Copenhagen Climate Summit / Iranian blogosphere




Media coverage of the Copenhagen climate summit and news seeping out of Iran through its blogosphere

Listening Post / Listening Post - Italian media / Egyptian blogosphere




Silvio Berlusconi, Rupert Murdoch and the media in Italy and an extended interview with renowned blogger Wael Abbas on the Egyptian blogosphere
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A road to Hajj - China - 24 Nov 09 - Pt 1



Mecca undergoes expansion project - 24 Nov 09


Saudi fears H1N1 spread at Hajj - 24 Nov 09


As many as three million Muslims have been gathering in Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

As well as the usual security concerns that come with dealing with such huge crowds, Saudi Arabian authorities have mobilised thousands of health workers due to concerns about the possible spread of the H1N1 flu virus.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Mecca.

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