Archive for ‘Middle East’

02/10/2014

Five Garbage Patches Occupy a Total of 15, 915, 933 Square Kilometers of Ocean

Human Wrongs Watch

The steady build-up of garbage in the world’s oceans is a “tremendous challenge” and a growing threat to the planet’s marine ecosystems with the potential for “significant socio-economic consequences,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 1 October 2014  heard. 

Marine litter affects communities and seas in every region of the world, and negatively impacts biodiversity, fisheries and coastal economies. Photo: UNEP GRID Arendal/Lawrence Hislop

In the final day of the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, held in Athens, Greece, scientists, policymakers and delegates gathered amid growing global concern over the accumulation of plastic waste in oceans and seas – a problem that could pose an estimated $13 billion in damage to marine life and habitats, and which demands a comprehensive remedy.

01/10/2014

Israeli airline criticized over Orthodox Jews ‘bullying’ women passengers

Human Wrongs Watch

By Russia Today (RT)*, 1 October 2014 — Israel’s national airline El Al has been petitioned to “stop the bullying, intimidation and discrimination against women” on its flights by ultra-Orthodox Jews who refuse to be seated next to women on religious grounds.

**Image: To accommodate Haredi Jews, many coastal resorts in Israel have a designated area for separate bathing. |  Source:  File derived from Beach2654.JPG | Author:  Beach2654.JPG: יעקב  - derivative work: Chesdovi | Wikimedia Commons

**Image: To accommodate Haredi Jews, many coastal resorts in Israel have a designated area for separate bathing. | Source: File derived from Beach2654.JPG | Author: Beach2654.JPG: יעקב – derivative work: Chesdovi | Wikimedia Commons

A petition on Change.org has been issued following the last week’s scandal when a transatlantic flight from the US to Israel turned into an “11-hour nightmare,” as one female passenger put it, because of a group of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) traveling to Israel to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

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.

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.*

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…”

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.

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.*

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”.

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.

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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