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The Sticky Situation Surrounding Plumpy'nut


Afro-Leo is pleased to bring you a guest post by Isaac Rutenberg, PhD, Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP in San Francisco, CA, USA. If you would like to contact Isaac directly, he can be reached at rutenberg@bozpat.com.

Is intellectual property always harmful to poor people? Plumpy’nut has been cited as an example that supports the case against allowing patent rights in matters of humanitarian aid. On the contrary, Plumpy’nut is a shining example of how proper use of intellectual property protections could have significantly enhanced international aid and development work.
A recent article in the NYTimes describes the row that has developed over Plumpy'nut. In short, Plumpy'nut is a revolutionary peanut-based product with the potential to end or significantly reduce severe acute child malnutrition. Developed by Dr. Andre Briend, a "crusading pediatrician" who became tired of traditional (frequently unsuccessful) solutions to acute malnutrition, Plumpy'nut is a simple product that is remarkably effective and practical.

So why the row? Turns out that the Plumpy'nut formulation has been patented in 38 countries, including the US, France, and much of Africa. The owner of the patent, the French company Nutriset, appears to be bent on commercializing not just the miracle product but the entire process of combating acute malnutrition. Nutriset and Nutriset's collaborators (including a US for-profit company manufacturing Plumpy'nut in New Jersey for distribution to USAID) have defended their approach and their product, taking steps to prevent others from producing similar products. Criticism of Nutriset has been unsurprisingly harsh: non-profits worldwide say that Nutriset is trying to profit on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable children. Inevitably, there is the claim that intellectual property is to blame for this disaster.

I say, not so fast. The NYTimes article says that Nutriset obtained the patent rights because Dr. Briend "signed a consulting agreement" with Nutriset after developing Plumpy'nut, since he "never knew anything about manufacturing food." This is somewhat vague, but according to a United States Patent and Trademark Office database, Dr. Briend and a co-inventor assigned (i.e., sold) the patent to Nutriset. This left Nutriset entirely in charge of the patent – Dr. Briend has no say in how it is used.

Why didn't he open source copyright the formulation?


You should read the New York Times article. Just be prepared to RAGE. The Peanut Solution
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If you needed another reason to side-eye the hell of out Freud and many of his relatives... like Edward Bernays. A seething mass of desires: Freud's hold over history


Tyrrell: The Century of the Self was for me and many others I've spoken to, by far the best TV series for a long time. In four 60 minute programmes on BBC2, you showed how the ideas behind psychoanalysis were responsible for the development of mass consumerism and self absorption in western society. You also explored the link between consumerism and politics in ways that were terrifying to contemplate. How did you come to piece this amazing history together?

Curtis: I'm a journalist who stumbled over a story, not a historian. For me it began when I came across the intriguing information that Freud's nephew Edward Bernays had invented public relations, specifically using his uncle's ideas about human beings and human nature. From there came the idea that I should look at how Freud's ideas have been used generally in social and political ways, not telling the history of psychoanalysis but the history of how psychoanalytical ideas have been applied. When I started to research this I found lots of different stories about the application of psychoanalytical theories which had been missed out in the history of it, largely because psychoanalysis, as I am sure you know, is a very hermetic world …

Tyrrell: … a closed system of thought.

Curtis: Yes, both in the way it treats patients and also in the way psychoanalysts think of themselves. So what I did was to pull together various stories about how psychoanalysis was applied in different ways by some powerful 20th century figures in both business and politics.

As that started to come together, I began to make connections with another idea I was working on — about how today we all talk about our 'selves'. A hundred years ago, people didn't do that — a few rich people did, and you read about it in novels, but most people didn't. The question lurking at the back of my brain was "Why do we now always have this obsession with the self?" MORE


The Century Of The Self 1 of 4 | One: Happiness Machines
Read more... )

The Century Of The Self 3 of 4 | There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed
Read more... )

The Century Of The Self 4 of 4 | Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

Read more... )


When I consider this in conjunction with Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Beyond Elections docu, I start making some interesting connections. Milton Friedman's shenanigans start making more sense to me. I need to reread The Shock Doctrine then rewatch this. And I will say that as I watched the first episode, one of my thoughts were: "Well damn. They treated their own people like shit. No wonder they thought that American people of color were less than dust beneath their feet. Nevermind the people of color who had the misfortune to reside in places with natural resources that these elitist, greedy assholes could steal! I mean DAMN that shit got spelled out for me in this series!
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THERE IS A SHIP THAT SAILS THROUGH LOOPHOLES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW...Vessel


TEDxAmazônia - Diana Whitten sobre aborto e hipocrisia - Nov.2010



Women on Waves

Women on Waves: The Abortion Rights Movement Sets Sail

Approximately 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with very restrictive abortion laws. The majority of these countries are located in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In Chile, for example, an illegal abortion is a criminal offense punishable by jail time. These anti-abortion laws are rooted in Pope Pius IX’s decree in 1869 that ensoulement occurs at conception. Thus, laws in the 19th century prohibited the termination of pregnancy. These laws from two centuries ago form the basis of the legislation against abortion that still exists in numerous developing countries today. While many developed countries relaxed their abortion laws in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s with the rise of human rights movements, the countries in which abortion is still illegal retained their colonial era laws.

Rebecca Gomperts founded Women on Waves in 1999 to ease the suffering of women in these countries who had no means of obtaining abortion services. She developed a mobile abortion clinic that can be easily transported onto a ship. Aboard the ship, WoW also provides contraceptives, information, training, and workshops in addition to safe and legal abortions. When the ship is in international waters, at least 12 miles off the coast, the local anti-abortion laws do not apply. Gomperts’s strategy is to stir up controversy with her visit and to ignite debate that may eventually lead to a reversal in the legislation against abortion.

Read more... )
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Andy Carvin of NPR spoke with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt for a few minutes. Per the conversation, Schmidt acknowledges/states that "G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information."

Identity Service != Social Network, Eric Schmidt. And you're billing G+ as a social network. Just sayin'.

Todd Vierling looked into the Profile Real Name issues. He discovered that these issues are about more than just G+. It looks like the endgame will end up involving most, if not all, of Google Products.

[reposted from my journal]
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Data Shows All of Earth's Systems in Rapid Decline

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS) - Protecting bits of nature here and there will not prevent humanity from losing our life support system. Even if areas dedicated to conserving plants, animals, and other species that provide Earth's life support system increased tenfold, it would not be enough without dealing with the big issues of the 21st century: population, overconsumption and inefficient resource use.

Without dealing with those big issues, humanity will need 27 planet Earths by 2050, a new study estimates.

The size and number of protected areas on land and sea has increased dramatically since the 1980s, now totaling over 100,000 in number and covering 17 million square kilometres of land and two million square kilometres of oceans, a new study reported Thursday.

But impressive as those numbers look, all indicators reveal species going extinct faster than ever before, despite all the additions of new parks, reserves and other conservation measures, according to the study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

"It is amazing to me that we haven't dealt with this failure of protected areas to slow biodiversity losses," said lead author Camilo Mora of University of Hawaii at Manoa.

"We were surprised the evidence from the past 30 years was so clear," Mora told IPS.

The ability of protected areas to address the problem of biodiversity loss - the decline in diversity and numbers of all living species - has long been overestimated, the study reported. The reality is that most protected areas are not truly protected. Many are "paper parks", protected in name only. Up to 70 percent of marine protected areas are paper parks, Mora said.

The study shows global expenditures on protected areas today are estimated at six billion dollars per year, and many areas are insufficiently funded for effective management. Effectively managing existing protected areas requires an estimated 24 billion dollars per year - four times the current expenditure. MORE


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U.S. Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians



WASHINGTON, Jul 27, 2011 (IPS) - Amidst growing fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default next week, a key Republican-led Congressional committee Wednesday approved deep cuts in foreign aid and contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions next year.

While leaving some eight billion dollars in President Barack Obama's requests for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan relatively untouched, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to the rest of the developing world by an average of around 25 percent.

It also made major cuts in U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. and some of its specialised agencies, and some international financial institutions (IFIs).

It sliced a total of 600 million dollars from the administration's 3.5-billion-dollar request for the U.N. and its peacekeeping operations, for example.

It also halved Washington's 143-million-dollar 2012 pledge to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and zeroed out U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rejected proposed capital increases for IFIs that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

It cut the operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 35 percent, essentially reversing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts to build up the ranks of both agencies.

Moreover, it made significant cuts to major programmes designed to help some of the world's most vulnerable people.

It cut 18 percent – to just over seven billion dollars – from Obama's request for global health projects, which had been one of former President George W. Bush's signal foreign-policy achievements.

It cut Obama's requested family-planning programmes worldwide by 40 percent, from 770 million dollars to 461 million dollars, and reinstated the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services.

And it cut development assistance by 12 percent, from 863 million dollars this year to 758 million dollars in 2012, and emergency refugee and migration assistance by 36 percent, from 50 million dollars to 32 million dollars. ...

On the Middle East, the bill calls for 1.3 billion dollars in aid to Egypt, provided that the secretary of state can certify that its government is adhering fully to the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel and that no part of its government is controlled by a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation".

The latter condition also applies to Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, while any Palestinian government that forms an agreement with Hamas would not be eligible to receive U.S. aid. Lowey, the ranking Democrat, indicated support for the Middle East provisions of the bill. Earlier this month, she co-signed a letter with Granger to PA President Mahmoud Abbas warning him that his pursuit of recognition for Palestine at the U.N. would likely cost him all of the nearly 500 million dollars Washington provides to the PA. MORE
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People & Power: Freedom from Pain




For much of the Western world, physical pain ends with a simple pill. Yet more than half the world's countries have little to no access to morphine, the gold standard for treating medical pain.

Freedom from Pain shines a light on this under-reported story. "For a victim of police torture, they will usually sign a confession and the torture stops," says Diederik Lohman of Human Rights Watch in the film. "For someone who has cancer pain, that torturous experience continues for weeks, and sometimes months on end."

Unlike so many global health problems, pain treatment is not about money or a lack of drugs, since morphine costs pennies per dose and is easily made. The treatment of pain is complicated by many factors, including drug laws, bureaucratic rigidity and commercial disincentives.

In India, the first stop in the film and the world's largest grower of medicinal poppy for developed countries, there are severe restrictions to the use of morphine domestically. In 27 out of 28 states in India, narcotics laws are so strict that doctors fear prescribing it, and patients literally scream for relief. Drug companies have little incentive to manufacture morphine for the domestic market because of reporting requirements and small profit margins.

In the Ukraine, the film reveals that access to pain medication is halted by outdated, Soviet-style bureaucracy, arbitrary limits on doses, and a lack of oral morphine. As a result, many patients experience prolonged bouts of untreated pain, particularly in rural areas. In the Ukraine, we learn that Artur, a former decorated KGB colonel suffering from prostate cancer, sleeps with a gun under his pillow - his only way out, should he decide his pain is too great. MORE


Poppies for Pain Relief


Millions of individuals worldwide suffer from acute or chronic painwithout adequate access to pain medication. The problem is particularly acute in the developing world, as Time Magazinechronicled last year:

Whether you will have access to pain treatment depends largely upon where you live. Africa, which has most of the world’s AIDS victims, is a painkiller wasteland. In India, more than a million cancer and AIDS sufferers die each year in extreme pain as cumbersome regulations and paperwork make it nearly impossible to get prescription painkillers. (India produces much of the world’s legal opium, yet nearly all of it is exported to Western pharmaceutical companies.)

The geography of pain relief is so skewed that the seven richest countries consume 84% of the world’s supply of legal opiates, according to the International Narcotics Control Board, an independent agency that enforces U.N. conventions. For the estimated 10 million people who are suffering from untreated pain, relief is often found only on the black market, or in death

This gaping unmet need and global inequity is becoming the subject of various calls for change, by pain experts, by cancer treatment advocates, by international organizations, and by the human rights community. As Brent Foster explains in this podcast, the reasons behind the inequitable global distribution of pain medication are complex – like many intractable global social problems that get too little attention by policymakers.

However, a significant (and solvable) aspect of the problem is simply the relationship of supply to demand: the need for analgesics like morphine far outweighs the available supply. In part, this is due to the fact that such analgesics are produced from opium, the sap of the poppy. Since the same plant extract can also be used to produce heroin, a significant amount of political effort is now being expended worldwide to actually inhibit, rather than encourage, opoid production. This fuels shortages of analgesics.MORE



Getting Relief in Wartime: Opioids, Pain Management, and the War on Drugs

Profile from the War on Drugs: Joseph Casias

The Government's Cruel War On Pain Medication

The Pain Relief Network Archives


ETA: Depending on narcotics via [personal profile] annaham
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Why Disability Tropes Matter: Supercrips and Accommodations

Last year at FWD/Forward, I wrote about the role that the good cripple archetype has in accessibility and accommodations denials. The idea that people with disabilities should be meek and quiet and grateful for what they have plays directly into why it can be so difficult to get accommodations. Either you must be a good cripple and not ask for them, because it would be a bother, and you’d hate to do that. Or you ask for them and they are denied because you are not being nice and nonthreatening:
The bad cripples raise the stink. The bad cripples are the ones who point out accessibility issues, who call ahead before going places to see if they are accessible, who write angry letters, who force businesses to comply with at least the bare minimum of the law. The bad cripples kick up a fuss, a nuisance, make a mess. I wouldn’t want to be like one of them, attracting all that attention.
There’s another disability archetype that plays an important role in discussions about accommodations, and that is our old friend the supercrip, covered excellently by Annaham at Bitch Magazine:MORE
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

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UN Agency: Women Bow Out of Snarled Justice Systems

NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.

In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.

One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.

Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.


Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.

To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
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Why the News of the World Scandal is relevant to you no matter where you live

To the general public, all of this might seem very domestically British, very distant and while certainly a political misfortune, a series of events that hold little weight for the rest of us, non British residents. Except that our every day lives, no matter where we are, what our socio economic background is, are shaped by this scandal. Because you see, News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the man you can hold accountable for not being able to access an abortion provider. The man you can hold accountable for the increase of intolerance and xenophobia sweeping the entirety of the Western World. Rupert Murdoch, the man who gave us Sarah Palin’s political career, Gert Wilders international fame, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the erosion of civil rights presented as a necessity and the demonization of Islam and the Middle East. Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns your mass media.
  • When AskMen.com publishes an article stating that women should be “shamed” into losing weight, thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Anchor babies and the demonization of immigrant women? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Act like a lady, think like a man and the pervasive stereotyping of gender and “how women should behave”? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The rise of the Tea Party and the mainstream radicalization of the Western world? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The constant portrayal of immigrants, asylum seekers, refuges and economic migrants as a threat to Western values? Thank Rupert Murdoch
Because, in case you weren’t aware (and there is a conscious effort to obscure these facts), Rupert Murdoch owns a significant, influencing, far reaching media empire. His outlets include (but are not limited to):
  • Publishing house HarperCollins
  • Film Studio (and subsidiaries) 20th Century Fox
  • Fox News (and all subsidiaries)
  • Cable TV networks Sky Italia and Sky Germany
  • AskMen.com
  • Dow Jones & Company
  • The Wall Street Journal
(I urge you to check the link above to gasp at the extent of News Corp reach and influence).
Now, I am not going to be so naive as to blame the Murdoch media empire for all the ills in the world. But let me clear: it might not be the sole responsible actor in our current sad state of affairs but it has played a very significant, prominent role in it. MORE
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UN security council to consider climate change peacekeeping

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
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2009 The failed promise of aid in Africa: Review of Dead Aid and Ending Aid Dependence

Ama Biney reviews two recent books, united in their call for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency, but with sharply contrasting ideological visions for how to do this and to what end: Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa and Yash Tandon’s Ending Aid Dependence.

What these two books have in common is firstly that they have exceptionally compelling titles for those interested in their subject matter. Secondly, is the obvious fact that they are concerned with aid and Africa. Thirdly, these books will interest those students, policymakers and government officials who ostensibly claim to be interested in eradicating aid. However, this is where their similarities end. The two authors have sharply contrasting ideological visions for Africa’s disengagement from aid dependency. This is indisputably on account of their backgrounds. Moyo has worked at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, studied at Harvard and Oxford universities, whereas Tandon is a radical scholar, public intellectual and former director of the South Centre (an intergovernmental think tank of the developing countries). In other words, their different experiences not only inform their analysis of aid, but their wholly differing prescriptive solutions to Africa’s myriad problems, which they agree are rooted in aid dependency.

Both authors eloquently illustrate how aid has failed to deliver the promise of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Africa. Moyo’s caustic attack is greater than Tandon’s. She forcefully argues that not only has aid often been stolen by corrupt governments, it has often been unproductive; it has led to indebtedness and as President Paul Kagame of Rwanda poignantly states, since 1970, much of the US$300 billion allocated to Africa was spent on creating and sustaining client regimes of one type or another, with minimal regard to developmental outcomes on the continent (p. 27). Moyo claims that aid ‘is the silent killer of growth’ (p. 48). In chapter four she gives a cogent critique of the damaging effects of aid in that it reduces savings and investment as a result of the ‘crowding-out effect’ of aid; it discourages private finance capital; causes inflation; stifles the export sector and inculcates an aid dependent psychology in African people (pp.61-66).

On the other hand, Tandon’s ‘aid taxonomy’ is a far greater analytical breakdown of the five different types of aid, compared to Moyo’s simplistic three forms (humanitarian or emergency aid, charity aid and bilateral/multilateral forms of aid). Using a colour classification Tandon identifies purple aid as based on the principle of solidarity; green/blue aid encompasses humanitarian aid and transfer of technical assistance; yellow aid is given on the principle of geo-strategic and security interests; orange aid are concessionary grants given for commercial gain – and in Tandon’s opinion should not be considered as aid – and lastly red aid is given on the basis of ideological principle to influence countries to implement the policies of the Washington Consensus (pp. 18-22). Tandon contends that it is this latter aid that permeates and dominates the kinds of aid given by the DCD-DAC. MORE





2009 Why Aid to Africa must Stop



Ending aid dependence: Asserting national autonomy: Yash Tandon

Read more... )



Humanitarian Aid 101: #1 – Aid cannot and will not fix anything


Read more... )
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U.N. Women's Agency Being 'Strangled at Birth'


UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.

But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.

Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.

"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.

Addressing the first regular meeting of the 41-member executive board of UNW early this week, he said: "We must not be oblivious of the fact that activities enumerated in the Strategic Plan need resources."

The Strategic Plan envisages financial requirement of nearly 1.2 billion dollars in 2011-13.

"If we have to ensure that U.N. Women stands for action, the donor community has to make generous contributions to U.N. Women," said Ambassador Puri.
MORE
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EXCLUSIVE: Worker rights deteriorating post-GFC, says Burrow

For global union leader Sharan Burrow, a short visit to her home country of Australia is a peaceful oasis away from a world where the situation for working people is going backwards fast.

A rising tide of youth unemployment and lack of social protections across much of the world pose the biggest challenges to working people, Burrow has told R@W News in an exclusive interview.

The Brussels-based General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation says that while the role of unions in the Arab Spring has been inspiring, elsewhere “the world’s in a really bleak space”.

And the former ACTU President has urged workers in Australia to join international campaigns for rights at work in the expanding global economy.

Burrow, who took office as General Secretary of the ITUC a year ago after a decade as ACTU President, said people in Australia probably did not appreciate the ongoing impact of the Global Financial Crisis on workers in other parts of the world.

“The world’s in a really bleak space of unemployment at record highs, and youth unemployment in particular now is a social risk for every nation in the world, not just developing countries where youth unemployment can be as high as 70% in places like Yemen, but go to the heart of Europe, Spain it’s now more than 50%, France and Germany 20%-plus,” Burrow tells R@W News.MORE
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TRIGGER WARNING: The IMF's activities are compared to rape further down in the article. Sorry I forgot that part. Johann Hari: It's not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial

The IMF’s official job sounds simple and attractive. It is supposedly there to ensure poor countries don’t fall into debt, and if they do, to lift them out with loans and economic expertise. It is presented as the poor world’s best friend and guardian. But beyond the rhetoric, the IMF was designed to be dominated by a handful of rich countries – and, more specifically, by their bankers and financial speculators. The IMF works in their interests, every step of the way.

Let’s look at how this plays out on the ground. In the 1990s, the small country of Malawi in south-eastern Africa was facing severe economic problems after enduring one of the worst HIV-AIDS epidemics in the world and surviving a horrific dictatorship. They had to ask the IMF for help. If the IMF has acted in its official role, it would have given loans and guided the country to develop in the same way that Britain and the US and every other successful country had developed – by protecting its infant industries, subsidising its farmers, and investing in the education and health of its people.

That’s what an institution that was concerned with ordinary people – and accountable to them – would look like. But the IMF did something very different. They said they would only give assistance if Malawi agreed to the ‘structural adjustments’ the IMF demanded. They ordered Malawi to sell off almost everything the state owned to private companies and speculators, and to slash spending on the population. They demanded they stop subsidising fertilizer, even though it was the only thing that made it possible for farmers – most of the population – to grow anything in the country’s feeble and depleted soil. They told them to prioritise giving money to international bankers over giving money to the Malawian people.

So when in 2001 the IMF found out the Malawian government had built up large stockpiles of grain in case there was a crop failure, they ordered them to sell it off to private companies at once. They told Malawi to get their priorities straight by using the proceeds to pay off a loan from a large bank the IMF had told them to take out in the first place, at a 56 per cent annual rate of interest.
The Malawian president protested and said this was dangerous. But he had little choice. The grain was sold. The banks were paid.

The next year, the crops failed. The Malawian government had almost nothing to hand out. The starving population was reduced to eating the bark off the trees, and any rats they could capture. The BBC described it as Malawi’s “worst ever famine.” There had been a much worse crop failure in 1991-2, but there was no famine because then the government had grain stocks to distribute. So at least a thousand innocent people starved to death.MORE



And then. And this is what makes me RAGE. Because the BBC and CNN and whoever the fuck else cover this shit DON'T TELL YOU that this is what's behind those famines and shit. OH NO. They take pictures of death and starvation that win prestigious awards and they write articles bemoaning how Africa just can't get itself together, that dark continent filled with incompetent (and tribal and dictatorial) Africans that it is... and they highlight all those charities and NGOs filled with white people who go down to Africa to help those poor people and volunteer their lives and aren't the Africans so grateful for their help...And so Africa is kept in a subordinate position, all the easier for the West to enrich itself on stolen goods. And when we're done we yell overpopulation. Because it is really those whom we have forced to live on less than $1 a day who are causing the overuse of the world's resources. Oh yes.

And of course, to actually point out that it is our countries' FOREIGN POLICY as enacted by the IMF and the World Trade Organization that helps in large part to cause this shit might just cut off the gravy train, wouldn't it? It might just convince the ordinary citizens of Western Europe and America that while we are doing that democracy thing, we might really want to pay some attention to foreign policy. Beyond the various wars that we are enacting. Or maybe I am giving them too much credit. And of course, you need to convince the denizens of the countries from which you are stealing everything from that its their fault entirely that they are suffering. You need to devalue their own perceptions of what the reality is, you need to colonize their minds and thus make them pliable to being stolen from, or at least to not realize that they are being stolen from. And if they get too uppity starve them, sicken them, murder them, empower fundamentalists by giving them guns and money and set them loose upon their political structures. Send in the CIA, the MI5, at the last resort, your armies... and glorify your murderers and infiltrators efforts in the movies so that you can find cannon fodder among your citizenry with which to enforce your murderous, rapacious will. And then of course, they  have the NERVE, the AUDACITY, the complete and utter EFFRONTERY AND GALL, to call themselves..."civilized".
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Another Push for Reproductive Rights

WASHINGTON, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) - By 2015, women demanding family planning products and services in the developing world will likely reach 933 million, a terrific increase from the current 818 million women demanding access to these basic reproductive commodities.

In addition, according to the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC), the number of family planning users will soar from 603 million to 709 million - an increase of 64 million users across 66 developing countries, and 42 million spanning 89 middle-income countries - by the middle of the decade.

The increased cost associated with this skyrocketing demand is an estimated 5.7 billion dollars per annum for both low- and middle-income countries - including the expenses of procuring more contraceptive commodities, securing transportation for the products, expanding communication capabilities to educate the public, and stepping up training for health providers to distribute reproductive products and services.

"Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception," John Skibiak, director of the RHSC, wrote earlier this month. "This is, without a doubt, a horrifying figure. But the greatest tragedy for us - those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to ensuring global access to family planning - is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades… Each step forward is more than matched by comparable increases in demand in new users, [so] despite our best efforts, we are caught in a deadlock."MORE
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
So I'm doing it now:

Changing the Framework: Disability Justice: How our communities can move beyond access to wholeness

Our communities and movements must address the issue of access. There is no way around it. Accessibility is concrete resistance to the isolation of disabled people. Accessibility is nothing new, and we can work to understand access in a broad way, encompassing class, language, childcare, gender-neutral bathrooms as a start.

We must, however, move beyond access by itself. We cannot allow the liberation of disabled people to be boiled down to logistics. We must understand and practice an accessibility that moves us closer to justice, not just inclusion or diversity.

As organizers, we need to think of access with an understanding of disability justice, moving away from an equality-based model of sameness and “we are just like you” to a model of disability that embraces difference, confronts privilege and challenges what is considered “normal” on every front. We don’t want to simply join the ranks of the privileged; we want to dismantle those ranks and the systems that maintain them.

In no way am I saying that accessibility is not important—it most definitely is. We cannot have disability justice without it, but we want to question a culture that makes inaccessibility even possible. Just because disabled people are in the room doesn’t mean there is no ableism (a set of beliefs that favors non-disabled people) or that people won’t pretend we’re invisible. MORE



Access Intimacy: The Missing Link


Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else “gets” your access needs. The kind of eerie comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level. Sometimes it can happen with complete strangers, disabled or not, or sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met. It is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access. Some of the people I have experienced the deepest access intimacy with (especially able bodied people) have had no education or exposure to a political understanding of disability.

Access intimacy is also the intimacy I feel with many other disabled and sick people who have an automatic understanding of access needs out of our shared similar lived experience of the many different ways ableism manifests in our lives. Together, we share a kind of access intimacy that is ground-level, with no need for explanations. Instantly, we can hold the weight, emotion, logistics, isolation, trauma, fear, anxiety and pain of access. I don’t have to justify and we are able to start from a place of steel vulnerability. It doesn’t mean that our access looks the same, or that we even know what each other’s access needs are. It has taken the form of long talks into the night upon our first meeting; knowing glances shared across a room or in a group of able bodied people; or the feeling of instant familiarity to be able to ask for help or support. 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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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
LABOUR Neither Servants nor Family Members, Simply Workers

GENEVA, Jun 16, 2011 (IPS) - The world's tens of millions of domestic workers finally won international recognition that they have the same basic labour rights as other workers, in a convention adopted Thursday at the annual meeting of the ILO.

The landmark treaty, approved by an overwhelming majority at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, states that "domestic workers are workers," said ILO (International Labour Organisation) director general Juan Somavia. "They are neither servants nor members of the family."

That is the main point of the Convention on Domestic Workers, and was the biggest obstacle in the discussions, Karin Pape, coordinator of the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), told IPS.

It means "domestic workers are not helpers. We are not maids, and we are not servants. Certainly none of us should be slaves. We are workers," said Pape.

Although the convention was approved by a vote of 396 to 16, with 63 abstentions, it was not an easy task.

Discussing the difficulties in reaching agreement on the new convention, ILO legal specialist on working conditions Martin Oelz said "It's a new topic. This is a group of workers that is excluded in many countries from the labour legislation for various reasons - historical reasons, cultural reasons."

That was a hurdle that had to be broken down, and "it took some time," he said. The ILO, which has a tripartite system of government – trade unionists, employers and governments – began to deal with the issue as far back as 1965, he pointed out.MORE
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Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

We need to move beyond the shock and titillation of sex crimes. We need to move beyond any scintilla of belief that some men—elite economists, for example—couldn’t possibly be perpetrators and some women—prostitutes, for example, or wives—couldn’t possibly be victims. Haven’t the scandals involving Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Peace Corps workers, heads of state, and UN Peacekeepers taught us at least this? Haven’t the statistics and personal accounts and visual evidence of the sexual victimization of half of humanity—from infant girls to the most fragile elderly women—taught us at least this? The ubiquity of sexual violence points to some very stark realities about the mundane lives of “ordinary” women and girls, and men and boys.

[...]

William Simmons and Michelle Tellez conducted a study in Arizona and northern Mexico that documented the multiple sexual victimizations endured by undocumented migrant women and girls on their journeys to the United States. Though this phenomenon is shockingly widespread and fairly well documented, it is rarely reported in the mainstream media or even among scholars. While estimates of prevalence are difficult to verify, it is clear that hundreds if not thousands of migrants are the victims of violent sexual assaults each year in Arizona. If such crimes were perpetrated against Anglos, or citizens, or visitors from Europe, or just about anyone other than poor, Latina, undocumented migrants, it would be front-page news for weeks.

Far more is known about the horrendous sexual violence in the Eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo than is known about the crimes against migrant women and girls in the United States. Somehow it is easier on our consciences to show outrage at the mass rapes in Eastern Congo than it is to pay attention to chronic sexual violence perpetrated against our migrant neighbors. Clearly, as media coverage of the DSK scandal has illustrated, it is a more intriguing spectacle to focus on sexual violence (allegedly) committed by a high-ranking French economist than to focus on an epidemic of terror and violence in our own communities.
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Millions May Soon Be Fleeing the Floodwaters

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
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Religion, Revolution and Two Languages


NEW YORK, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS) - The elderly Venerable Tep Vong, the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist community in Cambodia, traveled to Jaffna in Sri Lanka in the midst of the recent civil war. In a broken city under siege, he joined others - Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians - to try to bring a peaceful end to the violent separatist conflict.

The force of his quiet Buddhist resolve was unmistakable. Yet, he never quoted a single Buddhist scripture. He spoke, instead, in the plainest of ordinary words.

Who would have thought that speaking plainly in ordinary language is revolutionary? But for many religious communities, it is. The revolution is the growth of multi-religious action based upon ancient religious meanings but using new ways to communicate across religious lines.

The evidence, if you look, is everywhere: war zones, places of extreme poverty, school and regular neighbourhoods. Religiously fanatical forces capture headlines, but the big story is that religious communities are actively cooperating on a scale until recently unimaginable.

Shoulder-to-shoulder on the front lines of today’s challenges, multi- religious cooperation is mainstream and it’s growing. MORE

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