Occupy Wall St. demo Sept. 17, 2011. Marchers leave Zucotti Park to attempt to enter blocked off Wall St. At 55 Wall St. they find the wealthy at play and a faceoff begins.
Occupy Wall St. demo Sept. 17, 2011. Marchers leave Zucotti Park to attempt to enter blocked off Wall St. At 55 Wall St. they find the wealthy at play and a faceoff begins.
By Hwaa Irfan
It is not often that government policies lead to sustainable development in these times at least, especially when it pertains to the environment, but this has been the case of Rwanda, an African country that has it fair share of strife.
Recognized for this achievement as winner of the Gold Future Policy Award for 2011, Rwanda has succeeded to increase its forest by 37%. Days before the acclaimed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai died from cancer Wangari observed that:
“Rwanda has sought not only to make its forests a national priority, but has also used them as a platform to revolutionise its stances on women’s rights and creating a healthy environment.”
The prize is administered by the German-based World Future Council, who seek to inspire good leadership.
Rwanda won hands down, not even a slim margin was present to contest the claim of a country that despite growing pressure from a growing population, Rwanda’s massive reforestation program focused on planting indigenous species by means of the local population. A campaign of forestry awareness, and management was undertaken, bringing many benefits from improved and better water supply, reduced land erosion, improved standard of living, and a better quality of life. What more could anyone ask for when it comes down to what is really important and essential to life. This included land tenure reforms, which gave Rwandan women the equal right to inherit land.
Rwanda is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan African which was not an artificial creation of colonialism. It is home to 97 species of mammals, 665 species of birds, 31 amphibians, 206 reptiles, and to date 2,288 species of plants. The country of a thousand hills, and stunning beauty was fighting for survival. Difficult choices are to be made when one’s population growth starts cutting into one’s arable land. With a 90% population involved in agriculture, the population growth was outstripping one’s ability to provide food. The saving grace in this dilemma was not having the resources to import food on a large scale as in the case of Egypt which imports 50% of its demand for wheat undermining its own food security and making it prone to global prices. As a land-locked country, the only source of food is the land, and the air. Even hilly areas were intensively cultivated, which is quite desperate given the angle of the slopes are at a 50 degree angle. Then there is increasing soil erosion as a result of farming on the hilly slopes at high elevations, deforestation due to use of wood for fuel, and the flooding of Rwanda’s wetlands.
Farmers compensated for lack of needed land by growing more than one crop on the same land, but using short cycles in order to create speedy harvests, but the result was increasing land infertility due to lack of natural fertilizers. Inevitably, with time, the land was conceiving less food due to exhausted soil. Added to this was the growing conversion of pasture land into cropland.
The U.N’s Food, and Agricultural Organization, FAO classified Rwanda’s forests as primary forest, the most biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest. The forests regulates local climates, control diseases, and ensures water quality all the way to the Atlantic.
The only areas to not be subjected to this onslaught was the Nyabarngo Valley, and the Akagera Park along with the natural forests Nyungwe, Gishwati and the Mukara which once constituted 30% of the country, but was reduced to 7%. The delicate biodiversity was being imbalanced, for instance increasing loss of wildlife, and the absorbing and at the same time slow release of rainwater by the Gishwati Forest, which also acted as a filter, producing organic material enough to enrich the soil, and preventing loss of topsoil that in turn prevents dangerous landslides.
There are few leaders in the world who have the kind of fortitude to state the following:
“We are creating a ‘forest of hope’ that transcends the restoration of biodiversity – it is about the people of Gishwati and improving their lives in harmony with nature. We are determined to reverse the history of human-induced environmental abuse in the Gishwati area, and this program is an opportunity for members of the global community to build partnerships with Rwanda and address these important challenges.”
That was said by President Paul Kagame.
“Without a sustainable environment we cannot develop. That is the reality,” said the minister of land and environment Stanislas Kamanzi
A National Forest Policy, was enacted in 2004, and a 2008 law relating to the prohibition of the manufacture, import, use and sale of polythene bags. Illegal logging was monitored by the World Wildlife Foundation, which also subsidized the manufacture of energy efficient ovens that use 30% less fuel than the ovens that were in circulation. Forest rangers were trained along with a vigorous replanting of indigenous species with the participation of the Rwandan people.
Potential for exploitation though still exists, but not from within. As external forces eye Rwanda’s forests as a valuable source of biomass, a threat lingers as WWF aim to link up with NASA to ‘measure’ the size of the forests with data provided by LIDAR. If Rwanda has been successful in reversing the process of deforestation, how will the World Resources Institute benefit Rwanda further by looking for effective strategies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, REDD, when those who need to measure are the developed countries themselves, as well as their effect on developing countries. Why would Rwanda want to earn carbon credits by engaging in green carbon sequestering, which is another term for biomass! They aim to divide the Congo Basin which Rwanda is a part of up into zones, zones, that are protected, and zones that can be used by man, which can also be interpreted as zones that can be used for biomass without being seen/blamed as a major cause of deforestation!
The Silver Award was won by the Gambian Community Forest Policy
Beck. B. B. “Forests and Rwanda’s Future.” http://www.greatapetrust.org/media-center/news-releases/forests-and-rwanda-s-future
Leahy, S. “Rwanda Wins Gold for Forest Conservation Blueprint.” http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/09/rwanda-wins-gold-for-forest-conservation-blueprint/
By Hwaa Irfan
Poverty, hunger, and homelessness has become the new reality for millions (not thousands) of Americans as an increase of 1 million children now live in poverty since 2009 (15.7 million poor children in 2010)! As a growing number of U.S. citizens realize in these times that they have to take more responsibility for their lives, along with that reality comes the creative spirit and the imagination.
Riding on the wave of creative initiatives is the Recirculating Farms Coalition based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Their focus is to promote locally grown fresh food, and to create jobs in the process. Executive Director of Recirculating Farms Coalition commented:
“The current U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, and about one in six people are struggling to buy food. Building recirculating farms in diverse communities nationwide can provide fresh, local food and create stable jobs in a sustainable business, two things the U.S. very much needs right now.”
Unlike the establishment that has increasingly used artificial means to produce food, the Recirculating Farms Coalition is promoting sustainable eco-friendly farming. Clean, recycled water will be used instead of soil! The how of this, are water-based plants called hydroponics, as well as fish. Experts will include everybody from educationalists, farmers, fishermen (of course), and even chefs, as well as non-profit organizations that focus on accessible, but sustainable and healthy food. These are exciting times for anyone whose talents can be developed by putting them to use in favour of the greater good. To add to c challenge, wide open spaces of land is not a criteria, instead one can grow aquatic foods on one’s desktop. They consider that a well run farm re-uses 99% of its water, and recycles waste without antibiotics, and chemicals growing much needed fish, vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and even flowers to brighten the spirit.
The states that are already participating in the program include Wisconsin, New York, Texas, Louisianna, and California.
training for farmers, build a model farm for teaching and demonstration and actively engage the public on recirculating farming issues. Recirculating Farms Coalition will also provide training for farmers, and to build a model farm to show how it has worked for years. Just to prove the point, fourth generation farmer co-founder and president of Premier Organic Farms in Texas, Susan Bedwell informed:
“I am a fourth generation farmer, and I converted to recirculating agriculture over six years ago. People are now recognizing the many advantages of these farms,”
“We farmers are joining together with others – academics, chefs, fishermen – in this coalition to raise awareness about using clean recycled water to grow food locally, virtually anywhere, year-round. This is a very significant step in changing the quality of our food here in the U.S.”
Want to know more contact Marianne Cufone:
(813) 785-8386, (813) 785-8386
Be the change you want to be said Mohatma Gandhi!
University of New Hampshire (2011, September 23). One million more U.S. children living in poverty since 2009, new census data shows.
Morgan Freeman, and the Republican Tea Party
Actor Morgan Freeman told CNN’s Piers Morgan that the Obama presidency made racism in this country worse and tea partiers are targeting Obama.
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while” the Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs” the Mexican said.
“But” the American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said: “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed: “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you could buy a bigger boat and, with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked: “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied: “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said: “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO – an Initial Public Offering – and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly: “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
From Jewish Voice for Peace
Today, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, presented a bid for the state of Palestine, based on the 1967 borders, to be considered by the Security Council for full membership in the United Nations.
Shortly afterward, he addressed the General Assembly, where he reviewed, from the 1948 Nakba until today, the multitude of ways in which Israel has suppressed Palestinians’ rights. While the question remains if the UN statehood bid adequately addresses the larger issue of Palestinian rights, Abbas’ address importantly gave voice to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. While there is no uniform support for this UN bid, today was undoubtedly a historic and moving day. After over 63 years struggling for global recognition, it was moving to see the countries of the world represented in the UN general assembly give President Abbas a rousing standing ovation.
Not so for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who spoke shortly after Abbas. Netanyahu responded to the Palestinian leader with diversion and doublespeak instead of honest engagement, and peace slogans couched in hostility, aggression, and denial of Palestinian claims—a continuation of the standard Israeli tactic. We know from history that this empty rhetoric has been used by Israeli government for decades and will only mean further pain and oppression for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and all over the world.
As a Jewish-American organization, we believe it is important to remain focused on our primary responsibility: having an impact on U.S. policy. As such, we will continue to speak out strongly against the U.S. using its veto power in the Security Council to reject this bid for statehood.
We know now that President Obama will not do the right thing. Speaking at the UN on Wednesday, Obama lauded the Arab Spring—but rejected the Palestinian Autumn. The president retreated from his earlier positions that demanded Israeli accountability for its military occupation, and he did not acknowledge the ongoing role of the U.S. in maintaining that imbalance through its extraordinary economic, military, and diplomatic support for Israel, even when its actions violate international law, human rights, and U.S. policy. And he didn’t acknowledge that twenty years of the “peace process” has brought only a more entrenched occupation. Instead, Obama merely said that both sides should “sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears.” (1)
While this week has not been an easy one, we at JVP actually feel a redoubled assurance in the promise of our strategy to change the dynamics on display at the United Nations. We know now, more than ever, that the President or Congress will not change on their own. The array of power and money is simply too strong—for now. We know, as with the examples of the civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement, to name just two, that it is movements like ours that force our governments to change their policies. It was the steadfastness, the creativity, the demonstrations, the local organizing, and the BDS tactics that helped these movements and so many others for social justice eventually succeed. So we’ll let the politicians play their games, and meanwhile, our work will continue.
By Starla Muhammad
A Chicago mother recently filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education alleging a Chicago Public School security guard handcuffed her young son while he was a student at George Washington Carver Primary School on the city’s far south side. In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 29 LaShanda Smith says the guard handcuffed her son March 17, 2010 which resulted in “sustained injuries of a permanent, personal and pecuniary nature.”
According to media reports, Michael A. Carin, the attorney representing Ms. Smith says the youngster was among several six and seven year olds that were handcuffed by the guard for allegedly “talking in class”. The students were also allegedly told they would never see their parents again and were going to prison.
In a another incident April 13 of this year in Queens, New York a seven-year-old special education student in first grade was handcuffed and taken by ambulance to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after he reportedly became upset because he did not like the color of an Easter egg he decorated. The school says the child was spitting, would not calm down and was “threatening”.
In New Orleans, Sebastian and Robin Weston were plaintiffs in a 2010 class action lawsuit alleging their then six-year-old son was handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security guard after the boy argued with another student over a chair.
“This must stop now. Our children are not animals and should not be treated this way,” Mr. Weston said in a statement.
Are these incidents, in which young Black boys are treated like common criminals in America’s schools subconsciously, preparing them instead for life behind bars in the criminal justice system?
“The school system has been transformed into nothing more than a prison preparation industry,” says Umar Abdullah Johnson, president of National Movement to Save Black Boys.
“The job of the school district is to prep the children for prison just like a chef preps his food before he actually cooks it,” Mr. Johnson, a nationally certified psychologist, told The Final Call.
“Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education” states Black Male students are punished more severely for similar infractions than their White peers. “They are not given the same opportunities to participate in classes with enriched educational offerings. They are more frequently inappropriately removed from the general education classroom due to misclassifications by the Special Education policies and practices of schools and districts,” says the report.
In Chicago Public Schools, Black boys make up less than 25 percent of the student population but made up 57 percent of expelled students in 2009 according to Catalyst Chicago an online news magazine that reports on urban education. “In Chicago, Black Boys are 51 percent of those suspended at the elementary level,” noted Catalyst Chicago.
Mr. Johnson says a false image has been created that suggests Black boys are not interested in being educated which is not true he argues. The emotional and psychological effects on a six and seven -year-olds from unfair and out-of-control disciplinary action like handcuffing is setting them up for criminality he explains.
“The first thing that type of behavior does is it socializes the boy at a very young age into criminal consciousness. He is nurtured by the school into an understanding that his role in society is that of a criminal,” says Mr. Johnson, a Pennsylvania certified school principle, lecturer and motivational coach. These methods and practices of handcuffing young Black boys takes away the stigma, sting and fear of incarceration he adds.
Overly harsh disciplinary policies sets the tone for students to become bored and frustrated with school which leads to increased drop-out rates and in many cases leads to greater involvement in the criminal justice system say youth advocates. Mr. Johnson agrees.
“When you put handcuffs on a six or seven year old there’s no need for that six or seven-year-old to fear incarceration when they’re 17 and 18-years-old,” he says.
Schools are the number one referral source to jail and juvenile hall for Black children and teens therefore Mr. Johnson urges parents to meet and establish a relationship with their child’s teacher. “Once you meet with a teacher, just the vibration from that teacher be they Black or White are going to let you know whether they’re there to get a paycheck or whether they’re there to teach your child.”
*Republished under “Content Exchange” the original can be found on New American Media
From Ricken, Emma, Wissam, Nicola, David and the whole Avaaz team
On Wednesday night, US President Obama met with Palestinian President Abbas, and likely heavily pressured him to avoid a full vote of the United Nations assembly, a vote that Palestine would certainly win. Yesterday, the pressure seemed to be working, with the Palestinians backing off a vote.
It will be a tremendous disappointment to the world and Palestinians for this moment to pass with nothing accomplished. It will undermine peace and feed hopelessness, extremism and violence. But we can still turn it around. In hours, Avaaz will bring a ‘flotilla’ of ships up the river
next to the UN, covered in massive banners. Another boat of journalists from the world’s major media will film the flotilla and interview our spokespeople.
If we can say that in just 12 hours, 250,000 people have called on Abbas to stand strong and let the world vote, it will help define this moment in the media — influencing Abbas’ decision about whether he can answer the call of history.
This week, Avaaz met with several foreign ministers and our rally in New York to deliver our 1 million-strong petition made news everywhere, but the US lobbying is furious – we urgently need to call on Abbas to stand strong and each of our countries to stand with him. Click below to
sign the petition and urgently message/telephone/facebook/twitter key governments and leaders, or leave comments on key press articles to shape the media narrative of this moment. We have just hours before President Abbas addresses the UN with his decision.
The bid for statehood is a peaceful, moderate, diplomatic attempt to move towards peace and give Palestinians hope after 40 years of occupation, oppression and colonization by Israeli ‘settlements’. It would provide for a more balanced and fair peace process between two equal and
legitimate states. Avaaz-sponsored polls and others show that large majorities of people across the world support this move. But Israel’s extremist government, with its powerful US political lobby, is determined to kill this sensible proposal and keep Palestine weak, offering instead more years of fake peace talks while they colonize more Palestinian land. Ironically, these extremists threaten Israel even more than they do Palestine, since growing numbers of Palestinians are giving up on two states and deciding to embrace a long term struggle — one they liken to South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle — for a single secular democratic state with equal rights for all ethnicities and faiths — effectively the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Something big is going on here. President Obama says a Palestinian state can only be granted out of negotiations with Israelis. But when Israel applied to the UN for statehood, the US didn’t require that Palestinians agree to it. The US rhetorically backs pro-democracy demonstrations in Libya and Syria and elsewhere, but when Palestinians seek freedom, Washington does everything they can to block it. That kind of bias, where a staunch, even blind Israeli ally is the only ‘peacemaker’ we have is partly why this conflict has persisted for decades. But finally the world has had enough — 127 nations, including Brazil, India, China and, now, France have stood up to call for a new direction. If others join them, the era of US/Israeli
hegemony over this conflict may be coming to an end, with a much wider and wiser set of global and regional voices, especially the voices of the people themselves, to replace it. It all comes down to the next few hours…
Abbas is likely to present his bid for statehood and UN membership to the UN Security Council
tomorrow, but that small body is controlled by a US veto, and the US can refer his request to a technical committee that will bury it for months. But in the UN General Assembly of all nations, the US has just one vote like any other country. The General Assembly can’t fully admit Palestine to the UN, but it can declare Palestine a state, with access to a range of international
organizations, like the International Criminal Court, that will improve the rights of Palestinians. UN recognition of statehood will also give greater international legitimacy to non-violent Palestinian efforts to disrupt the Israeli military occupation and illegal colonisation of Palestinian land.
President Abbas is right now preparing to deliver his speech. The hopes of the Palestinian people are riding on a man who, after being repeatedly betrayed and undermined by the US, is losing hope himself. But a large majority of the world, and 80% of his own people, support his goal.
Let’s ask him to put his hope in the world and the call of his people, let the world vote to recognize Palestine, and then trust the world and his people to help that new state flourish.
Avaaz protests in front of the UN get international coverage
Detailing pressure on
Abbas and his frustration (NYT) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/world/at-un-a-moment-for-abbas-to-shed-arafats-shadow.html
Avaaz poll showing
support for Palestinian independence (Guardian) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/12/recognising-palestinian-state-public-approval
Polling of Israeli
and Palestinian support for UN vote (Jerusalem Post)
French support for statehood bid (France 24)
diplomats: Recognize Palestine (YNET) http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4080609,00.html