(CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday of an unspecified illness. She was 71.
"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.
More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, new purpose. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.
In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.
"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.
Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.
She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.MORE
Kashmir: The militant in her: Women and resistance Kashmiri women defy state oppression by being on the frontlines.
Relegating women's engagement in conflict situations to the passive space of victimhood is an anticipated outcome of the unequal distribution of power in gender relations. However, this narrative obfuscates their role as active participants, which is of equal, if not greater, significance - and which has increasingly become an accentuating facet of their participation during the recent years of the conflict.
In the early stages of the armed struggle, broad-based support for the independence movement was apparent, and resulted in the creation of both dissident men and women. However, men and women formed their opposition to Indian rule largely in different ways. Men took to combat, women to facilitating the men's fight, or by registering their support for azadi through popular protest.
Women also became facilitators of combat by acting as couriers for arms, informers for militants, provided them shelter and food, and at times helped them escape capture during the sudden and dreaded Indian military raids or "crackdowns", which continue to happen in civilian areas. Their motivation came from the general feeling for independence running deep in the masses - as a result of which, the Indian Armed Forces were always looked at as the "other", and militants and other dissidents as their "own".MORE
via : ontd_political
Libyan Women Challenge Mindset Created by Tyranny
BENGHAZI, Libya (WOMENSENEWS)--While rebel fighters battle for a democratic future in the west of Libya, a handful of women back in the rebel capital of Benghazi are working on showing people what democracy actually means.
The small group, going by the name Abeer or Express, will be hosting its most ambitious project to date later this summer, after Ramadan is done--the First Libya Youth conference to spread the ideals of democracy.
The organizing group for Express is very small. It lists only six people as its core members--five young women and one young man--but its goal is ambitious: to ensure that democracy and personal freedom flourish in Libya.
For 42 years--since Col. Moammar Gadhafi's 1969 coup--the country has known mainly autocracy and secret police acting on the colonel's behalf.
Members of Express say Libyans crave democracy but aren't quite sure what it means.
Fourth-year medical student Halima ben Jomiah, 22, is the founder of the group. Two years ago, she stumbled across the subject of human development and self improvement in books like "Do Not Grieve" by Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni and "The Leader In You," the 1936 classic by Dale Carnegie. Ever since, she's been hooked, reading about psychology and how to realize human potential whenever she could find the time.
Ben Jomiah, her sister and her friends decided that for the revolution to succeed, people have to have correct attitudes about democracy: not being afraid to speak, but at the same time, having the respect to listen.
They called their group Express in order to focus on personal expression as a form of civic participation.
As a first step, the group has interviewed dozens of Libyans to get a sense of their hopes and dreams and what is standing in the way. Express has also solicited opinions from advanced researchers in human development, such as Egypt's Sherif Araba and Libya's Omar Gnaiber.MORE
Turkey The Muslim Women’s Media Archives: Kadınlar Dünyası
In Turkey and beyond, it is a common misconception that struggle for women’s rights is a new phenomenon. This struggle is thought of as not organic to the Muslim world, but imported from “the non-Muslim West.” This particular misconception has not only nurtured the neo-colonialist rhetoric of “liberating Muslim women,” but has also played an important role in the debate surrounding whether women’s rights or feminism can ever be “Islamic.”
Unfortunately, little has been done to research historical women’s rights movements in the Muslim world, even though there were many examples that clearly disprove this misconception and could provide a lot to the debate. For instance a simple research in the archives of periodicals that were published during the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire expose a great availability and diversity of women’s publications, some of which are very focused on women’s rights. One such magazine is Kadınlar Dünyası [“World of Women”]. While its name suggests an early-twentieth-century Cosmopolitan, it was famous for its radical rhetoric and strong emphasis on women’s rights at the time of its publication.MORE
'Indignant' Demonstrators Marching to Brussels to Protest Effects of Crisis
MADRID, Jul 30, 2011 (IPS) - Protesters from several European Union cities have begun to follow the example of hundreds of demonstrators from Spain who are marching from Madrid to Brussels, the bloc's de facto capital, in a growing protest against the effects of the economic crisis and the fiscal adjustment policies adopted to combat it.
The march - literally, on foot - began Tuesday Jul. 26 with half a dozen people at the Puerta del Sol, in Madrid, the "kilometre zero" point from which all distances in the country are measured. The "'Indignant' People's March" aims to cover the 1,550 km to Brussels by Oct. 8, one week ahead of the global demonstration planned for Oct. 15 by Democracia Real YA (Real Democracy Now!)
Marchers from other European cities will stop in Paris on the way to Brussels, to support the Occupy Wall Street initiative, aimed at occupying and disrupting what they call the "financial Gomorrah" of the United States.
Adbusters, a counter-cultural Canadian magazine, quoted Professor Raimundo Viejo of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona as saying: "The anti-globalisation movement was the first step. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf leading the pack, and others who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."
The Adbusters article calls on U.S. President Barack Obama to set up a presidential commission tasked with "ending the influence money has over (the country's) representatives in Washington."
It also proposes "dismantling half the 1,000 military bases (the United States) has around the world," among other pro-democracy measures.
But the May 15 Movement (15M), which emerged on that date with large demonstrations in the main squares of cities across Spain held to protest the political, economic and social system, is also drawing attention to issues not prominently covered by the international press, such as repossessions of the homes of those who fall behind on their mortgage payments. MORE
I wish them all good luck and will follow their shenanigans with interest!
A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change.
Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence.
There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, is expected to address the meeting on Wednesday.
But Germany, which called the meeting, has warned it is premature to expect the council to take the plunge into green peacemaking or even adopt climate change as one of its key areas of concern.
"It is too early to seriously think about council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, wrote in the Huffington Post.
"A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security," he wrote.
Bringing the security council up to speed on climate change could be a challenge, however.
The Pentagon and other military establishments have long recognised climate change as a "threat multiplier" with the potential to escalate existing conflicts, and create new disputes as food, water, and arable land become increasingly scarce.
Wittig seems to agree, noting that UN peacekeepers have long intervened in areas beyond traditional conflicts.
"Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal - but would dealing with the consequences of climate change - say in precarious regions - be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?" he wrote.MORE
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
As Greece battles economic collapse, protests in the country have been getting louder, bigger and more heated. Greeks on the streets have been demonstrating against the squeeze on their wages and pensions, but the media covering those protests have found some hostility directed at them as well.
The protesters accuse the media of stereotyping them, of being voices of the economic and financial elite and not reflecting the reality of the Greek worker. In our News Divide this week, we look at the Greek protests and how the media covered them.See awesome video which won't allow me to embed at the source
DEBTOCRACY: Causes of Greece's debt crisis and solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media [full length documentary]
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The struggle in the squares
Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou and his PASOK party government survived a June 21 confidence vote in parliament, but he will face continued mass protests as he pushes for yet more devastating austerity measures.
Greece is in the grips of a desperate economic crisis. The government has needed massive bailouts engineered by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, but they have come with the demand that the government slash spending, cut the wages and benefits of workers, and privatize public enterprises.
But a new mass movement has arisen to give voice to the anger of the mass of the population. Following the example of youth and workers in Spain--and before that, the Egyptian revolutionaries of Tahrir Square--the Greek "aganaktismenoi" ("indignants") have occupied public squares. On June 27 and 28, the so-called "movement of the squares" will demonstrate alongside the labor movement during a 48-hour general strike called as parliament is set to vote on yet more cutbacks.
Panos Petrou, a member of the socialist group Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) and a participant in the occupation in Athens' Syntagma Square, explains how this powerful new movement developed.
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In retrospect, it's a wonder that the convictions of Capt. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, M.D., didn't get her in trouble long before the GulfWar. A feminist and ERA advocate, a founding member of Kansas Physicians for Social Responsibility, an outspoken opponent of nuclear and biological warfare and of the Vietnam war, she also served five years of a seven year hitch in the Army, leaving with an honorable discharge in 1982.
Seven years later, the Berlin Wall fell and Huet-Vaughn— wife, mother of three and family doctor at Humana Health Care in Kansas City—suddenly remembered that, although she had been discharged, she really still owed the Army two years of service. "I wanted to be part of the 'New World Order,' " she told ON THE ISSUES.
She re-enlisted in the Army reserves. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Huet-Vaughn was called to active duty with her unit, the 410th Evacuation Hospital, set to deploy for Saudi Arabia.
Her military (and militant) background began to clash with a slowly emerging pacifism. Huet-Vaughan's father was a doctor; he was also a soldier. A Mexican immigrant who was raised as a staunch Catholic, she idolized Joan of Arc as a martyred soldier of faith. She and two friends had joined the Army Reserve in college partly to make ends meet, partly as an adventure and perhaps partly out of a family history of militant patriotism.
Stunning Change of Heart
The contradictions of Huet-Vaughn's history were not equal to a new world order that included war. Her life imploded; she went AWOL. And she went public, saying, "I am refusing orders to be an accomplice in what I consider an immoral, inhumane, and unconstitutional act, namely an offensive military mobilization in the Middle East. My oath as a citizen soldier to defend the Constitution, my oath as a physician to preserve life and prevent disease, and my responsibility as a human being to the preservation of this planet would be violated if I cooperate with Operation Desert Shield."
For refusing orders Huet-Vaughn was branded as a deserter by the army. She was held under house arrest for four months, court-martialed, and incarcerated in Fort Leavenworth for eight months of a thirty month sentence. She was one of at least 229 solider's to refuse service in the Gulf War. The only other member of the military to receive such a long sentence was Enrique Gonzalez, another Hispanic deeply involved in the Catholic church. Huet-Vaughn senses discrimination in those harsh sentences. She says she "never felt that Hispanics and Catholics had the standing in the eyes of the military that others do."MORE
There were pacifist deserters in "Desert Storm"? (What a fucking irritating name.) Met Crystal Eastman in Dale Spender's Women of ideas and am thinking of feminism and war and peace. Anyone have news links to women resisting wars?
Antiwar Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) filed suit in federal court Wednesday seeking to halt the U.S. military action in Libya, saying it is unconstitutional.
Kucinich and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, another longtime war critic, led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the latest challenge to the White House's authority to conduct the campaign without seeking congressional approval under the War Powers Act.MORE
White House sees no need for congressional approval on Libya
Calling the U.S. military operation in Libya "limited," the White House says that congressional authorization is not required to continue involvement in the coalition effort there.
That determination was explained in a 30-page memo sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, just shy of the 90th day of the engagement of U.S. assets in the Libya campaign.
Lawmakers have become increasingly uneasy over the administration's interactions with Congress about the scope and duration of U.S. involvement in the NATO-led mission.MORE
Truth dispatch: Updates from Libya
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In Libya's Gasoline Shortage, Women Get A Break
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Libyan rebels wrest western mountain villages
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African Leaders Demand Halt to NATO Bombing Campaign in Libya
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VIENNA, Jun 13, 2011 (IPS) - When Farah’s 16-year-old son began to disappear for several nights a week without saying where he went, she was naturally worried. After he returned one day and shattered the television screen in their Peshawar home, the mother of three decided it was time to quit her job as a teacher and to find out what was making her youngest child so angry.
To her horror, the schoolteacher - who requested that her real name not be published - discovered that her son was spending time in the company of people belonging to terrorist groups in Pakistan’s Swat Valley where Farah’s family originally comes from. The boy’s newly found friends were teaching him that it is a sin for his mother to leave home to work everyday and for his sister, a medical student, to talk to friends on the phone.
The teenager, whose name is also withheld for security reasons, was made to believe that it is a sin for good Muslims to watch television as it can distort their way of life and religion. He was being groomed to protect Islam - even if it meant with his life.
"This happened two years ago and I still don’t have the entire story from him," Farah told IPS. Farah was here along with six other mothers from Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, Israel and Palestine to participate in Mothers MOVE (Mothers Oppose Violent Extremism), a panel presentation hosted by the Vienna-based Women Without Borders (WWB).
"Farah is a perfect example of how educated mothers can act as an early-warning signal to stop radicalisation in its tracks," Edit Schlaffer, founder and head of WWB told IPS.
Farah agrees that more women must be educated to ensure that they are able to creatively guide their children away from dangerous influences. At present the literacy rate of women in Pakistan is 45 percent, in comparison to 69 percent amongst the male population of the country.
Farah appeared at the open house panel presentation in a veil that revealed little else but her eyes, and she told the audience that she would not reveal her real name as she does not want to attract the attention of those she has successfully stopped from brainwashing her son.
What is common amongst Farah and the other women who also shared their experiences with terrorism is the conviction that the personal is political, and that peace starts at home.
Rosemary Gonzalez was murdered in 2009, the victim of a war that ended in 1996. One day, 17-year-old Rosemary said good-bye to her mother Betty, walked out of their small house on the outskirts of Guatemala City and was never seen alive again.
Rosemary and Betty lived together in the poor neighborhood of Barcenas, under the constant shadow of violence. Across Guatemala, nearly 5,000 women have been killed in the past decade, attacked for the simple fact of being women. The women of Barcenas know well this fear—they live at the epicenter of this crisis.
In Guatemala, generations of women have faced murderous violence, but at its core is war. Now, the same dynamic is emerging in Iraq.
( Some description of rape and murder and torture under the cut. )
OSLO, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - Mass migration will inevitably be part of human adaptation to climate change, experts agree, since parts of the world will become uninhabitable in the coming decades.
Last year, 38 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.
"Human displacement due to climate change is happening now. There is no need to debate it," Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway's minister of foreign affairs, told over 200 delegates attending the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century in Oslo Jun. 6-7.
Governments and the humanitarian community need to understand this fact - and that it will get much worse in the coming decades, Støre said. MORE
Applying the ideas of Holocaust survivor Jean Améry to present day Rwanda, our author argues that reconciliation after genocide is just another form of torture.
“Reconciliation” has become a darling of political theorists, journalists, and human-rights activists, especially as it pertains to the rebuilding of postwar and post-genocidal nations. Nowhere is this more so than in the case of Rwanda. Numerous books and articles on the topic—some, though not all, inspired by Christian teachings—pour forth. It can plausibly be argued, of course, that in Rwanda—and in other places, like Sierra Leone and the Balkans, where victims and perpetrators must live more or less together—reconciliation is a political necessity. Reconciliation has a moral resonance, too; certainly it is far better than endless, corpse-strewn cycles of revanchism and revenge. Yet there is sometimes a disturbing glibness when outsiders tout the wonders of reconciliation, as if they are leading the barbarians from darkness into light. Even worse, the phenomenological realities—the human truths—of the victims’ experiences are often ignored or, at best, treated as pathologies that should be “worked through” until the promised land of forgiveness is reached. This is not just a mistake but a dangerous one; for it is doubtful that any sustainable peace, and any sustainable politics, can be built without a better, which is to say a tragic, understanding of those truths.
Rwanda—tiny and densely populated—faces a problem that no other country has or does: the Hutu murderers and Tutsi survivors of the 1994 genocide live, side-by-side, in unprecedented intimacy; however monstrous this may seem, Rwanda’s history clearly shows that all other options are worse. The government is dominated by formerly exiled Tutsis of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (imagine if Jews had ruled Germany after World War II); for reasons that are practical and perhaps moral, this government has mandated, from above, an official policy of national reconciliation, however subjectively grueling that may be. As Philip Gourevitch wrote in The New Yorker last year, Rwanda’s political requirements are “emotionally incomprehensible.”
Several years ago, in response to bulging jails and an overwhelmed, dysfunctional justice system, the government made two decisions. In 2003, it released forty thousand imprisoned génocidaires and sent them back to their villages. And it has reinstated the gacaca courts, community-based forums in which perpetrators and victims face each other and are judged by their neighbors; more than a million cases have been heard. These confrontations have been the subject of an enormous amount of international interest, and disputation, from journalists, anthropologists, NGOs, legal scholars, religious activists, and human-rights organizations; the gacaca trials have been praised as an “authentic” form of African justice and derided as kangaroo courts that elide modern legal procedures regarding rights and evidence.
What becomes clear—especially in the remarkable trilogy of books on post-genocide Rwanda by the French journalist Jean Hatzfeld—is that forgiveness and reconciliation are of far less interest to the victims than they are to perpetrators.
1. Riz Khan - War and peace in Quran and Bible
2. Dark passages: Does the harsh language in the Koran explain Islamic violence? Don't answer till you've taken a look inside the Bible
Unconsciously, perhaps, many Christians consider Islam to be a kind of dark shadow of their own faith, with the ugly words of the Koran standing in absolute contrast to the scriptures they themselves cherish. In the minds of ordinary Christians - and Jews - the Koran teaches savagery and warfare, while the Bible offers a message of love, forgiveness, and charity. For the prophet Micah, God's commands to his people are summarized in the words "act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). Christians recall the words of the dying Jesus: "Father, forgive them: they know not what they do."
But in terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. In fact, the Bible overflows with "texts of terror," to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery. The Koran often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races - of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted. One cherished psalm (137) begins with the lovely line, "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept"; it ends by blessing anyone who would seize Babylon's infants and smash their skulls against the rocks.
To say that terrorists can find religious texts to justify their acts does not mean that their violence actually grows from those scriptural roots. Indeed, such an assumption itself is based on the crude fundamentalist formulation that everything in a given religion must somehow be authorized in scripture. The difference between the Bible and the Koran is not that one book teaches love while the other proclaims warfare and terrorism, rather it is a matter of how the works are read. Yes, the Koran has been ransacked to supply texts authorizing murder, but so has the BibleMORE
Personally, one of the reasons I fled the Christian religion was reading more about the history of colonization, and then rereading the violent parts of the Bible. I couldn't reconcile with a god that would order people to take other people's land, and compounding all of that the Bible was used as justification for European colonization across the planet. Priests and preachers and other religious leaders and followers were all up in the colonization project and many of them still pulling that shit. For me, I cannot countenance a ruling power who advocated this kind of shenanigans, or who did not correct their followers if they were misquoting him. At the same time, the hypocrisy of Christians pretending as if Islam is the root of all evil makes me choke. So.
Egypt Plays Best Man at Hamas-Fatah Union
CAIRO, May 4, 2011 (IPS) - Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Wednesday, paving the way for the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. The move, say local analysts, reflects the changing political equation in the Middle East amid the ongoing wave of Arab popular uprisings.
"The revolutions currently sweeping the region - especially the fall of Egypt's Mubarak regime - have altered the strategic balance, particularly as it pertains to the Arab-Israeli file," Mohamed Megahid al- Zayat, assistant director of the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle-East Studies, told IPS.
On Wednesday, the two factions, along with 11 other smaller Palestinian groups, officially endorsed the agreement in Cairo. A formal signing ceremony on Thursday is expected to be attended by Fatah headman and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal.
Three joint committees have reportedly been drawn up to discuss means of integrating the two factions' security forces, restructuring the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to accommodate Hamas, and establishing a system and timetable for upcoming elections. The accord also reportedly calls for a prisoner exchange between the two sides. MORE
Indigenous and campesino (small-scale farmer) movements in the Andean nation of Bolivia are on the verge of pushing through one of the most radical environmental bills in global history. The "Mother Earth" law under debate in Bolivia's legislature will almost certainly be approved, as it has already been agreed to by the majority governing party, Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS).
The law draws deeply on indigenous concepts that view nature as a sacred home, the Pachamama (Mother Earth) on which we intimately depend. As the law states, “Mother Earth is a living dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living beings, who are all interconnected, interdependent and complementary, sharing a common destiny.”
The law would give nature legal rights, specifically the rights to life and regeneration, biodiversity, water, clean air, balance, and restoration. Bolivia's law mandates a fundamental ecological reorientation of Bolivia's economy and society, requiring all existing and future laws to adapt to the Mother Earth law and accept the ecological limits set by nature. It calls for public policy to be guided by Sumaj Kawsay (an indigenous concept meaning “living well,” or living in harmony with nature and people), rather than the current focus on producing more goods and stimulating consumption.
In practical terms, the law requires the government to transition from non-renewable to renewable energy; to develop new economic indicators that will assess the ecological impact of all economic activity; to carry out ecological audits of all private and state companies; to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to develop policies of food and renewable energy sovereignty; to research and invest resources in energy efficiency, ecological practices, and organic agriculture; and to require all companies and individuals to be accountable for environmental contamination with a duty to restore damaged environments.MORE
Corporate Control? Not in These Communities
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What’s So Special About Humans?
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Beyond Elections Documentary Part 1- Introduction
From Venezuela's Communal Councils, to Brazil's Participatory Budgeting; from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across the hemisphere- This documentary is a journey, which takes us across the Americas, to attempt to answer one of the most important questions of our time: What is Democracy? Directed by Sílvia Leindecker & Michael Fox. Estreito Meios Productions, 2008. Distributed by PM Press. WWW.BEYONDELECTIONS.COM
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 2 (Participatory Budgeting I)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 3 (Participatory Budgeting II)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 4 (Participatory Budgeting III)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 5 (Venezuelan Communal Councils I)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 6 (Venezuelan Communal Councils II)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 7 (Venezuelan Communal Councils III)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 8 (Cooperatives I)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 9 (Cooperatives II)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 10 (Social Movements)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 11 (Constitutional Assemblies)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 12 (In the Name of Democracy I)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 13 (In the Name of Democracy II)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 14 (International Organizations)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 15 (Democratizing Democracy I)
Beyond Elections Documentary Part 16 (Democratizing Democracy II)
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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 EarthThe people of the Six Nations, also known by the French term, Iroquois  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.  MORE
Wikipedia links to CriticismReviewing 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. 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.
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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Here's how it went down:
Gbagbo being held by Ouattara forces
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This after French and UN forces had been pounding Gbagbo's forces over the past couple of days:
UN and French forces pound Gbagbo loyalist camps in Ivory Coast
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Not a whole lot of people were pleased with French troops running around rampant during all of this April 7th
and questions like this have been bubbling up since April 5th. Côte d'Ivoire: Is Foreign Intervention Legal?
Al Jazeera's Listening Post talks about the media war between Gbagbo and Ouattarra that began after the election and ramped up as the war heated up, and the relatively low international media response to the whole conflict (with the exception of France) in this interesting April 9th episode
In the meantime: Have a quick look at Gbagbo's chequered political career
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WARNING, however. Ouatarra's hands are not clean: Manufacturing Cote d'Ivoire's 'good guy'
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1) What is the World Social Forum?
The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action. Since the first world encounter in 2001, it has taken the form of a permanent world process seeking and building alternatives to neo-liberal policies. This definition is in its Charter of Principles, the WSF’s guiding document.MORE
...took place in Dakar, Senegal in February this year.
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AS IT HAPPENED
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ANALYZING THE AFTERMATH
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These documents don't so much show death of the Peace process, but its evisceration - all the guts and none of the glory.
As Israeli blogger Noam Sheizaf wrote for 972 Magazine regarding the Palestine Papers, even we who were suspicious of the whole "we offered a bunch and they rejected it", the documents are shocking.
Reading the about the leak last night shocked me, not because I was surprised (though I was), but because this completely changes the playing field regarding the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Gaza is still under siege and as far as I can tell not being taken into account due to Hamas).
I don't feel I have much to add when it comes to in depth analysis. I've read a few bloggers who say they haven't lost hope in the two state solution and really, ideally, I'd like there to be two co-existing sovereign nations living side by side, but the asymmetry of this so-called co-existence can't ignored, especially not on light of these leaked documents in which Israel used it's considerable strength to be the "no partner" Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of being since Camp David in 2000.
To this I'd like to say:
Ehud Barak, you dirty stinking liar.
Tsipy Livni, you dirty stinking liar.
Ehud Olmert, you dirty stinking liar.
Bibi Netanyahu, you dirty stinking liar.
Avigdor Liberman, you batshit insane fascist.
The last one was for kicks.
As my dad said the whole affair is sad.
For the Palestinians this is a blow that I'm not sure the Authority can endure. The kowtowing and corruption, who knew... well, yeah.
Mahmoud Abbas, you dirty stinking liar.
Saeb Ereakat, you dirty stinking liar.
I was actually convinced I'd wake up to an uprising in the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority's police force are good at suppressing that sort of thing.
I've recently been called an optisemistic person - meaning, I'm a pessimist under a guise of optimism, I laugh while a tell you the bad news. A tad psychotic, but hey, whatever gets me through the day, right?
This me, laughing while I give you the news.
Those damn dirty liars. Ha ha.
On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.
:In January 2009, Tebani's teenage son Yahia was one of tens of thousands of people who joined demonstrations in London against the Israeli bombing of Gaza. At one of those demonstrations Yahia and many others were "kettled" -- surrounded by a police cordon and slowly let out in return for giving their names and addresses and for being filmed.
That was the last Yahia knew of it until the following April, when the family home was raided by 20 to 30 police at 5am. The front door was forced open and Badi Tebani and his family were ordered to lie on the floor. His four sons were all handcuffed. Three police officers knelt on the back of Hamza, 23. He was sleeping in shorts, but they refused to let him put on any clothes, even though they'd opened the windows, letting in the cold. Computers, mobile phones and clothes were all taken and the family car was broken into. Badi and Hamza described how police played games on the boys' iPhones and made themselves coffee in the kitchen.
Yahia was later charged with violent disorder, an offense which carries a jail term of up to five years. He says that during the demonstration he took a chair from a nearby Starbucks to sit on, but police alleged that the cafe was trashed and the furniture used as weapons. Yahia was advised that if he pleaded guilty to the charge he would get community service, so he followed his lawyer's advice. He didn't know that most of the protesters who did the same were being sent straight to jail, so he was shocked when a friend was handed a two-year sentence. Yahia is now serving a one-year prison term.
According to figures collated by Joanna Gilmore of Manchester University, Yahia Tebani is one of 119 individuals arrested at or after the demonstrations. The youngest person arrested was 12, although the average age was 18 or 19. Almost all of the demonstrators charged with violent disorder were Muslim, despite the mixed nature of the protests, which were supported by majority-white organizations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as well as by Islamic groups.
At least 22 persons have been given custodial sentences, with terms of up to 30 months. Most of these have come from Judge Denniss at Isleworth Crown Court in West London, who has made it clear that he is imposing "deterrent" sentences. A 15-year-old boy was given a non-custodial sentence which involves a curfew and an electronic tag, while a Palestinian who only days earlier had seen images in the newspapers of dead relatives in Gaza was given a two-year jail term. Contrast and compare with the treatment white protestors in larger, more violent anti-war and anti-capitalist protest.
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KABUL, Oct 18 (IPS) - ‘Give peace a chance’ may just be another cliché for many, but for women who have suffered the ravages of war, endless strife and other forms of conflict, joining hands to find meaningful solutions to their collective aspiration lends it a whole new meaning.
Within the South Asian region, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have for decades been torn by internal and external conflicts that have cried out for, but have not quite found, a lasting resolution.
"We waited for a long time to see what the men would do for peace," Zahira Khattak, a member the think-tank formed by Pakistan’s Awami National Party (ANP), told IPS.
Yemisi Ilesanmi: African governments are afraid of the advances in LGBT human rights in other countries.
LGBT rights in Africa
Nigerian LGBT activist Yemisi Ilesanmi stresses that the focus for LGBT activism in African countries should be on decriminalisation.
In Africa, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Somalia and Nigeria impose the death penalty for same-sex acts, according to the non-governmental International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and parts of Nigeria impose prison sentences ranging between life-long and 11 years.
Countries that impose sentences of between a month and 10 years are: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the Comoros, Libya, Egypt, Western Sahara, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritius and parts of Somalia. Countries that impose imprisonment without stating the period are Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Liberia.
Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation while South Africa allows marriage and joint adoption by same-sex parents.MORE
CAPE TOWN, Feb 3 (IPS) - In 2003, Alice Nkom made a decision that has put her on a collision course with the police, prosecutors and judges of Cameroon. Nkom, who has been a barrister at the Cameroonian Bar for 40 years, was chatting with some young men whom she considers her own children.
She realised they were gay. Not only that, having gone after school to France to study and only ever living there as out gay men, they were oblivious to the extent of the persecution they faced for expressing their sexuality in Cameroon. Extortion and unfair prosecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are common occurrences in the Francophone west African state.
They were handsome and full of life, talking passionately about their plans. She was struck by the injustice of their situation and felt she had a duty to do something, otherwise ‘‘coming back to Cameroon means having to choose to go to jail for who you are, to have one’s dignity trampled upon all the time, to be a victim of the police’’.
She founded the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals and has ever since been acting as defence lawyer for LGBT people in Cameroon. MORE