OnewWorld reports that the peace treaty signed in January in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is beginning to come apart as violence continues to plague the war-torn country. Recent outbreaks have killed 200 people and displaced 150,000. Child conscription are rape are once again being used as weapons of war, with over 2,200 rapes reported in North Kivu in June alone.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Oxfam America is warning that the global food crisis is reaching catastrophic proportions in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Recent droughts, food price inflation, pest infestations, and rising fuel costs have combined with already-chronic poverty and insecurity in the region to put as many as 13 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance:
In Somalia, the cost of imported rice increased by up to 350 percent between the beginning of 2007 and May 2008. In areas of Ethiopia, the price of wheat has more than doubled over a six-month period and food prices are expected to remain prohibitively high for many until the next harvest in October. In the areas of East Africa heavily dependent on food imports, such as Somalia, global food price rises are making food more expensive.
Although factors such as weather, pests, and biofuel food stock diversion certainly play a role, Africa's World Bank and WTO-enforced dependency on imported goods is by far the biggest culprit for the crisis, according to a new report by Food & Water Watch. Since the WTO went into effect in 1995, staple cultivation slowed while arable land was diverted to inedible cash crops. As an illustrative example, the growth in acreage of cocoa beans and cotton outpaced corn three to one, and millet three acres to two.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Nearly half of all women in Egypt, both foreign and local, are subjected to sexual harassment, according to a new study by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights. Harassment happens most often in public places such as streets or public transportation, and the vast majority of the victims are veiled, according to the study:
31.9% of women who reported sexual harassment were dressed... wearing a blouse, long skirt and veil. 21.0% of women were wearing a longer blouse, pants, and veil... Figure 4 was third, where women were wearing a cloak and veil (20%) then figure 6 [wearing a full headcovering and cloak] (19.6%). These results disprove the belief that sexual harassment is linked to the way women dress (women are sexually harassed when dressed "indecently" or are not veiled - in the words of some participants), since 72.5% of victims surveyed were veiled.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
OneWorld has an excellent article today on the looming global water crisis, a threat that will make the food crisis and oil crisis and climate crisis pale in comparison. At this moment, over 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and half of the world lacks access to basic sanitation. Yet despite efforts to bring this issue to public attention the water crisis is not mentioned by either U.S. presidential candidate. Why? Money, according to the authors:
The water crisis is not on the presidential agenda because there is no easy solution. Water is not free. The UNDP Human Development Report estimates that an additional $4 billion will have to be spent on clean water and sanitation projects each year for the next seven years to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without access to safe water by 2015. This is a conservative estimate. The British Department for International Development predicts that an additional $9.5 billion needs to be invested each year until 2015, while the World Health Organization believes an additional $11.3 billion needs to be spent on water projects each year for the next seven years.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Famed science denier and upper-class twit Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is adding even more comedy to his recent science-denying stunt in the non-peer-reviewed newsletter of the American Physical Society. After attempting to spin the fact that the APS printed his debunked, half-baked argument as "proof" that the American Physical Society had suddenly changed their views on the scientific consensus on climate change, the Viscount had the rug promptly pulled out from under him when APS added the following disclaimer to his article:
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions.
After having been thoroughly trounced by the weight of his own poor argument, the Viscount is now fighting this injustice using the tried-and-true science-denier technique of whining about it in uproariously twittish fashion:
If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the "overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community"; and, tertio, that "The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions"?
Monday, July 21, 2008
Human Rights Watch is urging the government of Iran to either release or charge Kamiar and Arash Alaei, two prominent physicians who have been fighting AIDS and drug use in Iran for the past two decades. Since June 22, when they were seized by authorities, Kamiar and Arash Alaei have been detained in an undisclosed location, without access to counsel and without any charges being brought against them. These actions are in blatant violation of Iran's responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. From the HRW press release:
Arash and Kamyar are well known in Iran and internationally for their contributions to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. For more than 20 years, the Alaei brothers have been active in addressing problems relating to drug use, with a focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS, and have played a key role in putting these issues on the national health care agenda. They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programs in prisons. They have also worked to share their expertise with neighboring countries by holding training workshops for Afghan and Tajik health care professionals.