01/10/2014

Loss amid the Rubble in Gaza

Human Wrongs Watch 

By Catherine Weibel (UNICEF*) – For a young girl who lost her father and sister in the recent conflict in Gaza, returning to school is one step in a long process of recovery.

© UNICEF Gaza/2014/El Baba

© UNICEF Gaza/2014/El Baba

GAZA, State of Palestine, 30 September 2014 — Ten-year-old Shaima lives in Shuja’iyeh in eastern Gaza City, a crowded neighborhood now mostly reduced to a vast expanse of rubble. The threat of explosive remnants of war looms around every corner.

An estimated 18,000 houses were destroyed in Gaza during the last round of hostilities, which left 506 children dead and more than 3,000 injured. On piles of what once were homes, banners bear the former occupants’ names and phone numbers, in case someone wants to reach them.

At the end of a dusty street filled with sewage, a different kind of banner hangs on a wall. With a life-size image of a smiling man and a little girl, it marks the entrance to the home where they were killed.

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01/10/2014

‘Returning to a Basic Level of Trust in Relations between Russia and the West’

Human Wrongs Watch

By Lars-Erik Lundin*, 30 September 2014 (SIPRI)

At the height of the cold war, during summits between the Soviet Union and the United States, US President Ronald Reagan frequently made reference to the Russian proverb ‘Доверяй, но проверяй’, or ‘Trust but verify’.

Barack_Obama_and_Prime_Minister_Vladimir_Putin

**Barack Obama meets with Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, July 2009  | Author: Pete Souza of the Official White House Photostream | Wikimedia Commons

Now, some 30 years later, few would expect Western leaders to use the same expression in negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the threat of nuclear war during the cold war era was all too real, in one sense the world is worse off now: even the notion of rebuilding trust on the basis of international commitments is seen as idealistic and unrealistic, or as a liberal fantasy.

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01/10/2014

Europe Must Help Combat Hunger, Malnutrition — Failure Will Only Boost Migration, Stoke Conflicts

Human Wrongs Watch

European governments must help combat hunger and malnutrition on a global level, as failure to do so will only boost migration flows and stoke conflicts, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

The faces behind the numbers | Source: FAO

The faces behind the numbers | Source: FAO

“Food insecurity and conflict go hand in hand” he said, noting that extreme climatic events, troubles in Africa and the Near East and now the Ebola outbreak in West Africa tend to spill over national borders and into other regions in a globalized world, often through forced migration.*

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30/09/2014

Ah, If I Were 25

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*, 29 September 2014, TRANSCEND Media Service– Research shows that one of the most often used words in Hebrew is “Shalom”. Israelis greet each other with “shalom” and many of them do the same when parting. (The others use the two slang words “yallah bye”, the one Arabic, the other English.)

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Shalom is not a synonym of the European word “peace”, as many believe. It is far more. It is based on the root “whole” and conveys the sense of wholeness, safety, wellbeing. In no European language can you say “our soldiers attacked the enemy and returned to their base in shalom”.

In Arabic, Salaam has the same meaning.

But even in its restricted meaning for peace, shalom expresses a profound human longing. From antiquity, people craved for peace and dreaded war. “Dona nobis pacem” – “(God) give us peace” – is part of the Catholic mass. Several composers have set it to music. I remember singing it as a child.

Yet in today’s Israel, using the word “peace” in political discourse is almost indecent. A four-letter word (as indeed it is in Hebrew and Arabic). One may still express a wish for a “political settlement”, but even that sounds a bit suspicious.

It has become fashionable to say that the peace movement is moribund. That the “Two-State solution” is dead, while the so-called “One-State solution” is stillborn.

The safest way to put it is “I am all for peace, but…”

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30/09/2014

Not a Single Child Untouched by Recent Gaza Conflict — UN Human Rights Expert

Human Wrongs Watch

There is not a single child who has not been adversely affected by the recent conflict in Gaza, where children suffer from bedwetting, difficulties in sleeping, nightmares, a loss of appetite, and display more aggressive behavior at school, an independent United Nations human rights expert on 29 September 2014 said.  

Palestinian children weep at the funeral for their loved ones in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (15 July 2014). Credit: UNICEF/El Baba

At the end of his first mission to the region, Makarim Wibisono, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, expressed alarm at the terrible cost paid by Palestinian civilians, especially children in Gaza, as a result of Israel’s military operation that lasted 50 days in the summer of this year.

According to a press release on his findings, the latest round of violence from 7 July to 26 August 2014 has left 1,479 civilians, including 506 children dead. A staggering 11,231 Palestinian civilians, including 3,436 children were injured, many, now struggling with life-long disabilities. Tens of thousands of children live with the trauma of having witnessed the horrific killings of family members, friends, and neighbours before their own eyes.

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30/09/2014

‘Devastating’ Effects from Ongoing Destruction of Mangrove Forests

Human Wrongs Watch

The world is losing its mangroves at a faster rate than global deforestation, the United Nations on 29 September 2014 revealed, adding that the destruction of the coastal habitats was costing billions in economic damages and impacting millions of lives.

Mangroves are cut down in Hera, Timor-Leste, 16 km from capital Dili, where frequent trash dumping threatens the area’s natural plant and wildlife. UN Photo/Martine Perret

In a new report launched today at the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, held in Athens, Greece, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that the deforestation of the planet’s mangroves was exceeding average global forest loss by a rate of three to five times, resulting in economic damages of up to $42 billion annually and exposing ecosystems and coastal habitats to an increased risk of devastation from climate change.*

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30/09/2014

The Environment: Very Holistic, Very Dialectic

Human Wrongs Watch

By Johan Galtung*, 29 Sep 2014 – TRANSCEND Media Service – “Trees won’t save the planet” is the title of an article in INYT (21-22 Sep 2014) by Nadine Unger, professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale University. Her thesis: The conventional wisdom–that planting trees serves carbon capture–is wrong; it is all much more complex.

**The General Sherman Tree is thought to be the world's largest tree by volume. | Source: Sherman Tree | Author: Jim Bahn | Wikimedia Commons.

**The General Sherman Tree is thought to be the world’s largest tree by volume. | Source: Sherman Tree | Author: Jim Bahn | Wikimedia Commons.

Photosynthesis is only one factor. Another factor for global warming is how much of the solar energy is absorbed by the earth’s surface and how much is reflected. Trees, being dark, absorb; the net balance may be chilling in the tropics and warming elsewhere.

But there is more to it. Trees emit VOCs, “volatile organic compounds”, for their own protection. Mixing with pollution from cars and industry “an even more harmful cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals is created”, producing methane and ozone. Research at Yale seems to indicate that this affects global climate on a scale similar to surface color and carbon storage capacity.”

Trees and soil also breathe oxygen and release CO2. The Amazon forest produces oxygen during the day and reabsorbs at night; a closed system. Moreover, eventually trees die or burn and “the carbons finds its way back into the atmosphere”.

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30/09/2014

Spain: Jobless Rate Still Over 24 % — Youth Unemployment Exceeds 50 %

Human Wrongs Watch

The Spanish economy requires “comprehensive” measures to boost lagging job creation and lower its rate of chronic unemployment, among the highest in Europe, a new report by the United Nations labour agency has warned.

Youth unemployment | Photo: ILO

Youth unemployment | Photo: ILO

The report, entitled Spain: Growth with Jobs and released on 29 September 2014 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), urges the Spanish Government and other stakeholders to develop “an employment action plan” to stimulate an uptick in the country’s economy and avoid the stagnancy of “jobless growth” – a dreaded scenario which would continue to have deleterious effects on the living standards of Spaniards.

“Financial analysts may consider that the crisis is almost over,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a news release accompanying the report.

“However, it is still very much a reality for millions of jobseekers in Spain, especially youth. Even if the fast pace of job creation witnessed in the second quarter of 2014 were to continue, it would still take until 2023 to restore employment to 2007 levels.”

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29/09/2014

Less Chemicls, More Agro-ecology, Climate-smart Agriculture, Bio-technology and GMO to Feed Nine Billion People

Human Wrongs Watch

Rome — In order to move towards more sustainable agriculture, a broader approach is needed to overhaul the world’s food system, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 29 September 2014  said, as he pressed for a global reduction in the quantity of chemicals and water in contemporary agriculture.

Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann | Source: FAO

Speaking at the opening of the 24th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in Rome, Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for a “paradigm shift” in global attitudes on agriculture, adding that only by decreasing the amounts of “inputs,” such as water and chemicals, could the sector move towards a more sustainable and productive long-term path.

“We cannot rely on an input-intensive model to increase production,” Graziano da Silva declared. “The solutions of the past have shown their limits.”

Pointing to options such as agro-ecology, climate-smart agriculture, biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms, the Director-General emphasized that global food production would need to grow by 60 per cent by 2050 in order to meet the expected demand from an anticipated world population of nine billion.

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29/09/2014

“It’s the Devil’s Excrement” – Where Fossil Fuels Lurk, Corruption Creeps

Human Wrongs Watch

By Marina Lou* – 29 September, 2014, Greenpeace – When it comes to resource extraction and the political process — the issue is a global one. Have a look at some of the recent coal-ruption stories that have been breaking all around the world.

Photo: Greenpeace

Photo: Greenpeace

Australia

In the state of New South Wales, an independent corruption inquiry has revealed questionable dealings between the founder of the Australian coal mining giant Whitehaven Coal, the owner of the Maules Creek mine and the state government.

The sheer volume of political figures involved in a trail of political donations resulted in Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, publishing its own infographic.

The federal senator for the Greens Party in Australia has called for a national commission against corruption, citing as a case study that the approval process for Whitehaven Mine at Maules Creek was corrupt from the beginning.

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