Archive for July, 2012

31/07/2012

Who Will Benefit from East Africa’s Oil and Gas?

By Thembi Mutch, Think Africa Press*,  Mikindani, Tanzania — In the small village of Mikindani on the south-eastern coast of Tanzania, World Bank-funded roads sit alongside shattered coral from dynamite fishing and poor sewerage facilities.
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**Oil tanker leaving Dar es Salaam Harbour. Photograph by Wayan Vota | Source: Think Africa Press

John, 15, points to the four ships in the distance. “They’re all here because of the oil and gas”, he says. “Sometimes the wazungu[foreign staff] come in on helicopters. They’re not allowed to meet us; there’s a ten-mile exclusion zone around their compounds in case they get kidnapped.”

Like millions of teenagers mired in poverty across East Africa, John harbours dreams of change; to escape from the under-developed, politically-marginalised area he calls home, and for a better life for himself and his family.

30/07/2012

Food: Less Production, More Demand, Higher Prices, Growing Hunger

Human Wrongs Watch

While demand for food will increase due to population growth, urban migration and other factor, agricultural output growth will slow to an average of 1.7 per cent annually over the next 10 years, increasing resource constraints and environmental pressures, as well as driving up food prices, according to a new report. The UN called on academics to get involved in essential research to help reduce rural poverty and assist small-scale farmers. 

Researchers have much to contribute towards fighting rural poverty. Photo: FAO

The Organization of Economic Co-operation (OECD) and Development and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) state in the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, adds “Higher demand will be met increasingly by supplies that come to market at higher cost.”

With farmland area expected to expand only slightly in the coming decade, additional production will need to come from increased productivity, including by reducing productivity gaps in developing countries,” it says.

30/07/2012

Fukushima Disaster “Could Have Been Foreseen and Prevented”

By Justin McKeating, Greenpeace* – A series of startling investigative reports into the Fukushima disaster have made it clear the crisis was both human-made and could have been avoided.
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**Image: Satellite image showing damage at Fukushima 1 Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant after an earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Source: Greenpeace.

The question is, will the Japanese government and the wider world take heed?

A report released earlier this week from Japan’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations was especially scathing in its findings.

It said the operator of the Fukushima reactors, TEPCO, and Japan’s nuclear watchdogs were fatally complacent.

The company “mishandled its response to the crisis and nuclear regulators failed to prepare sufficient disaster-mitigation measures as they were ‘overly confident’ about the safety of nuclear power”.

27/07/2012

Of Egypt and the Tricky Transition

Human Wrongs Watch

By Ernest Corea*, IDN-InDepth News, Washington — Nobody said it was going to be easy. The transition from a military dictatorship of several decades to a democracy is never a straightforward out-in arrangement, as countries which attempted the change have realised. Egypt is now absorbing that lesson of political realism: Transition is tricky.

**The Nile at Cairo. Photo credit: Raduasandei | Wikimedia Commons.

The difficulty has to be proportionately greater when the parties involved in managing the transition have very little real-life experience in coming to terms with the nuts and bolts of a system about which Churchill said: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

27/07/2012

Turkey’s Economy ‘Rebounded Vigorously’ Following Global Crisis

Human Wrongs Watch

Turkey’s economy rebounded vigorously following the global crisis, but in the process external and domestic macroeconomic imbalances emerged. Growth averaged close to 9% in 2010-11, with strong job creation, says a new report.

*Originally a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia was first built by the Byzantines in the 6th century. Credit: Robster1983 at English Wikipedia.

At the same time, the current account deficit widened to around 10% of GDP and consumer price inflation rose to over 10%, adds the Economic Survey: Turkey 2012, elaborated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which groups 34 industrialised countries spanning the globe, from North and South America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

26/07/2012

Greenland’s Mineral Rush ‘Could Lead to Independence’ from Denmark

By EurActiv* – Courted by multinational companies and foreign heads of state over its rare minerals and potential oil resources, Greenland could win full independence from Denmark and join the European Union as a free state, according to one expert on the Arctic.

Greenland’s leader Kuupik Kleist is boxing above his weight when it comes to foreign policy.

Although the premier represents an autonomous island of just 57,000 people, within the last couple of months he has met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and representatives from the Chinese government.

Greenland is a self-ruled territory in the Kingdom of Denmark. Although it was granted home rule in 1979, the Danish government is still in charge of foreign affairs, defence, police and justice, as well as financial policy.

Denmark also provides the territory with an annual subsidy of 3.4 billion crowns (€457 million).

25/07/2012

Troika Already Discussing Greece Withdrawal from Euro Zone?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Christoph Dreier (WSWS*) 25 July – A withdrawal of Greece from the euro zone is increasingly likely. In recent days, representatives of the “troika”—the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission, and the European Central Bank (ECB)—have signalled that they are willing to force Greece into bankruptcy if it does not impose further austerity measures.

**Credit: Quizimodo | Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday [24 July] representatives of the Troika returned to Greece to review the progress of the austerity measures. According to media reports, continuing popular resistance, and especially the suspension of the austerity measures during the election campaign, led to a delay in the implementation of social cuts demanded by Greece’s creditors.

The new Greek government had asked that the austerity measures ordered be extended by two years and be implemented incrementally, because it saw no possibility of implementing the cuts as planned against the population. According to news magazine Spiegel, such a delay would require an additional €10 billion to €50 billion, so as to finance Greece’s debt burden.

25/07/2012

Massive Smuggling of Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn and Great Apes

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva, 24 July – The massive smuggling of elephant ivory and rhino horn, tiger conservation and the illegal trade in great apes are among the issues on the agenda of a United Nations-backed meeting taking place in Geneva from 23 to 27 July.

A forest elephant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: UNESCO

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Some 350 participants are participating in the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
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The Committee oversees the implementation of rules for the international trade in protected wildlife on behalf of the Conference of the 175 member countries of CITES, the UN reported.
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Elephant issues, including rising levels in the illegal killing of elephants and ivory smuggling, features high on the agenda of the week-long meeting, as does the drivers behind the “exploding” demand in rhino horn, according to a news release issued by the CITES secretariat, which is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
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24/07/2012

Half a Million Palestinian, Iraqi Refugees Victims of Violence in Syria

Human Wrongs Watch

Violence and threats have forced more than 10,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria to flee the country over the past week, the UN refugee agency said, with the majority returning to their home country in spite of security concerns. Meanwhile, the UN expressed “grave concern” over the implications of the violence in Syria for the 500,000 Palestinian refugees across the country.

Outreach worker registering a displaced Syrian family in Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/D. Khamissy

“Thousands of Iraqi refugees have had to relocate from the Damascus suburb of Seida Zeinab to other suburbs, the UN reported on 24 July.

Some cited direct threats to their safety, while others expressed a fear of being caught up in the violence,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, said in Geneva.

24/07/2012

Turkey: Will AKP Government Crack Down On Military’s Business Interests?

Human Wrongs Watch

, July 24, 2012. By Dorian Jones — One of the defining achievements of Justice and Development Party’s tenure in power in Turkey has been forcing the country’s once omnipotent army firmly back into the barracks and out of political life. Yet the military’s economic power has been largely left untouched.

Turkey. Source: Eurasia.net

Whether you buy a chocolate bar, insurance, or a car in Turkey, it is likely that it was produced by a company linked to the OYAK, the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance and Pension Fund.

“It remains a bizarre, unaccountable institution,” said Lale Kemal, an expert on the Turkish army and Ankara bureau chief of the Taraf newspaper, a national publication critical of the military’s previously unchecked power.

“It is like the old days of Latin American countries, or in China or in Egypt, where you have the army owning companies, which has nothing to do with the rule of law or democracy.”

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