Just Focus Youth Focus for a Just World Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:26:38 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1 en hourly 1 E-NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2010 /2010/12/e-newsletter-december-2010/ /2010/12/e-newsletter-december-2010/#comments Wed, 22 Dec 2010 22:35:01 +0000 jennieod /?p=7580 Well, 2010 is coming to an end. This year has gone so FAST! You may have noticed things have been pretty quiet on the website over the last few months. This is because, as I am sure many of you are aware, Global Focus Aotearoa has lost its funding and consequently Just Focus faces a very uncertain future.

ict_picsmallOne thing we can be sure about though, is that since its establishment in 2005 the Just Focus project has offered a unique space for young people who are passionate about global issues. Every year, through events like Media that Matters Aotearoa, our journalism programme, Just Write and this awesome website, we have helped make sense of the complex, crazy world we live in and offered thousands of  young New Zealanders opportunities to take action and create positive change.

inkling-cover2010 has been no exception!!  We launched the first issue of inkling at Parliament, hosted by the Hon Tariana Turia; got involved with the Regeneration Network and took part in Summer Jam, as well as helping to plan an EPIC road trip for 2011 (details here); Will represented Just Focus at the World Youth Congress in July, which was attended by almost 1000 young people; and the Just Write teams published loads of articles on the Just Focus website, in Tearaway magazine and other youth media.

In fact, the current Just Write team has just finished producing the second issue of inkling. It looks choice! It will be going out to every secondary school in the first term of 2011, but if you want a copy for yourself, just email us at info@globalfocus.org.nz

At this stage we really don’t know what 2011 is going to look like, but we hope to be able to keep Just Focus going in some way.

In the meantime we would like to extend a HUGE thank you to all the people who have been involved with Just Focus over the years, from the original youth advisory group to former Pouhoutakawa treecoordinators, but mostly to all you awesome young people who have contributed your time and energy. We have had a great time and are immensely proud of what has been achieved, but we know there is always more to do…so we hope to see you again soon!

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful and safe summer.

Ka kite anō

Will and Jennie

Climate justice update from NZYD /2010/11/climate-justice-update-from-nzyd/ /2010/11/climate-justice-update-from-nzyd/#comments Thu, 04 Nov 2010 03:59:29 +0000 jennieod /?p=7544 Check out the latest news from the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD), NZYD is a group of twelve passionate young people engaging with New Zealand’s youth on climate change issues and bringing a youthful perspective to the international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in November this year (COP16).

For more information or to check out their blog go to the NZYD website.

Haiti cholera deaths rise sharply /2010/11/haiti-cholera-deaths-rise-sharply/ /2010/11/haiti-cholera-deaths-rise-sharply/#comments Thu, 04 Nov 2010 03:48:50 +0000 jennieod /?p=7542 Poor sanitary conditions after January’s earthquake have made the people of Haiti vulnerable to cholera, which is caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.

The number of people known to have died from a cholera epidemic in Haiti has increased markedly. Health officials say 105 more people have died since Saturday, bringing the total to 442.

Check out the full report on the BBC.

Report adds to economic case for biodiversity protection /2010/10/report-adds-to-economic-case-for-biodiversity-protection/ /2010/10/report-adds-to-economic-case-for-biodiversity-protection/#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 22:47:37 +0000 Toni /?p=7518 moneyfire

Timed to coincide with UN biodiversity talks in Nagoya, Japan, the document’s publication on Wednesday (20 October) seeks to increase the awareness of global decision-makers to the wide array of free ’services’ provided by nature.

For the rest of the article see euobserver.com

Photos by USDA Forest Service - Rocky Mountain Region Archive and purpleslog

A new imperialism /2010/10/a-new-imperialism/ /2010/10/a-new-imperialism/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 05:33:34 +0000 jennieod /?p=7501 by Nick Mutch

One of the words that’s been thrown around ad nauseum for the past century is the word Imperialism. An expression notoriously hard to define, but one that is nevertheless usually taken to mean something along the lines of a major, industrialised, usually Western power (the key culprit  usually being the United States, although France, Britain, Japan and Russia have been  equally guilty) preying on a poorer, less developed nation for its wealth, natural resources or cheap labour. They usually do this through direct military intervention or using superior economic muscle to bully less powerful nations.

080218-F-5677R-101Recently it has been the US invasion of Iraq that has achieved the largest outcry among the press for being ‘the new imperialism,’ with the finger squarely pointed at America’s obsessive desire to control Middle Eastern oil resources. We should be mindful that this conflict is making the headlines, it actually conceals another form of imperialism that is happening around the world right now, one which barely gets a mention in the mainstream media (as stories that do not involve criminals, blood or sex scandals often do not). It is the highly controversial activity known as ‘land grabbing’.

Put simply, land grabbing is the buying up of huge plots of undeveloped or semi-developed land by governments or corporations usually for purposes of cheap food production, and of course, profit. This is a murky issue, clouded by rhetoric from both sides, what is seen by some to be sinister capitalist imperialism is seen by others as merely an efficient and benevolent use of land that is not being put to proper use. Seen under the Western notions of private property, simple transactions of land seem quite harmless, and a sign of healthy economic activity, but the flipside to this is that much of the land being bought by large Western corporations is land that’s been used by indigenous populations for their own food production for hundreds of years, threatening them with not only hunger, but displacement from their homelands as well.

A little recent history is first necessary. It was not nearly as noticeable in Aotearoa New Zealand, although there were grumblings about small increases in grocery prices, but 2007-2008 saw a major crisis in the price of common foodstuffs around the world. Wheat, for instance, nearly doubled in price between February and December 2007, and in US, the Consumer Price Index saw the largest one year jump in nearly 20 years. In response to this, many governments and corporations begun turning to cheap land purchased from poor countries such as Sudan or Ethiopia, in order to grow food for their own countries. An Observer investigation noted that over the last few years, nearly 50 million hectares has been bought or leased in private deals.  To put that in perspective, that is more than twice the size of New Zealand, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

cornandskyIn Ethiopia for example, nearly 3 million hectares of land has been sold, mostly to Saudi Arabia. As one of the world’s poorest nations, it can be easily understood why its government would be willing to sell land, but with over 10 million Ethiopians suffering from poverty and hunger, it must seem like a mean spirited joke.  It is not difficult in a case like this to decide what shouldn’t be done. More difficult is to decide what should be done. One of the key arguments for this kind of agricultural investment, as supporters would refer to it as, is that with modern farming techniques yields on current farms can be improved by 3-4 times. In a world that’s projected to have a population of 9.1 billion by 2050, these advancements could prove invaluable. The caveat though of course is a significant one. The arguments against this kind of development is as simple as asking if we want the future of the planet’s food supply entrusted to a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy).

The World Bank recently held a conference on this exact issue, giving rather vague sounding guidelines about ‘respecting the environment’ and ‘honouring the rights of existing landowners.’ Vague guidelines, with no real enforcement procedures do not exactly compel people to follow them, especially when high levels of profit are involved.  While the issues themselves cannot be seriously simplified, there is only one solution. The individuals and communities whose land is being bought and sold, often without their consent, need a VOICE.

blogcomputerIt is hard for some like me who can wax lyrical about relationship dramas, unfinished assignments and weekend parties on blogs and Facebook and Twitter updates, to believe that there are people who have little or no access to the technology to spread any kind of information. But this is often the case and is demonstrated clearly when you do a google search for ‘landgrab’, and find just a few passing references or short articles in reputable news sites, and the odd anti-capitalist rant. What is harder to find is any kind of truly democratic representation for people whose living spaces and livelihoods may be vanishing before their eyes. We take it for granted, whilst millions of people who desperately need to tell their story are being marginalized. In the words of Harlan Ellison (American writer), they want to scream, but have no mouth to do so.

I will therefore use the opportunity I have, to put on a tinfoil hat*for a few minutes, and say that ‘land grabbing’ is the face of the new imperialism that threatens prosperity today. The new imperialists are not afraid of word of their activities spreading, because they trust that we will be too distracted to care about it beyond a few minutes of moral outrage. We are bombarded with such an overwhelming amount of facts and figures about war, climate change dictatorships and face questions about bioethics, ecology and democracy, that an obscure debate over property in countries far away seems to pale in comparison. Yet we can’t use this as an excuse to bury our heads in the sand.  We shouldn’t avoid this, or all the other issues we will have to face in the future.  Put simply, we can’t.

* The concept of wearing a tin foil hat for protection is associated with conspiracy theorists.

Pakistan now faces malaria outbreak /2010/10/pakistan-now-faces-malaria-outbreak/ /2010/10/pakistan-now-faces-malaria-outbreak/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 05:23:43 +0000 jennieod /?p=7510 Survivors of the recent flooding in Pakistan are now facing a new threat. Experts fear a massive outbreak of malaria in the coming months could affect more than two million people.

Check out this video report by Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October /2010/10/international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty-17-october/ /2010/10/international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty-17-october/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 05:15:29 +0000 jennieod /?p=7507 Since its creation, October 17th is a day for those living in extreme poverty to speak about their efforts and those of others in fighting extreme poverty and exclusion. The day invites all people to consider how they can contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty in partnership with those experiencing poverty and exclusion on a daily basis.

For more information and for details about events happening all over the country check out www.oct17.org/en

1 billion people live in chronic hunger and I’m mad as hell /2010/10/1-billion-people-live-in-chronic-hunger-and-im-mad-as-hell/ /2010/10/1-billion-people-live-in-chronic-hunger-and-im-mad-as-hell/#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2010 00:11:06 +0000 Will /?p=7496

Join the growing mass of voices that are demanding an end to chronic hunger. It’s time to get mad!

What do the commonwealth games and polio have in common? /2010/10/what-do-the-commonwealth-games-and-polio-have-in-common/ /2010/10/what-do-the-commonwealth-games-and-polio-have-in-common/#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2010 05:25:46 +0000 jennieod /?p=7513 Polio is now a distant nightmare in the west. But in four remaining polio-endemic countries – India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria – it continues to maim and kill.

Three of these – India, Pakistan and Nigeria – were proudly present at the Commonwealth parade. Nothing can be more antithetical to an event that celebrates the power and grace of the human body than a disease that cripples children.

Full story on The Guardian website.

The meaning behind a little girl’s handshake /2010/09/view-bottom-of-the-pyramid-bop-solutions-for-the-bottom-two-billion-by-michael-oluwagbemi-on-sep-22-2010-0-comments-2-people-like-this-image-last-week-i-discussed-the-problem-of-the-gr/ /2010/09/view-bottom-of-the-pyramid-bop-solutions-for-the-bottom-two-billion-by-michael-oluwagbemi-on-sep-22-2010-0-comments-2-people-like-this-image-last-week-i-discussed-the-problem-of-the-gr/#comments Thu, 23 Sep 2010 04:53:50 +0000 Will /?p=7489

She is only 12 years old. A pupil at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School in Soweto, an urban area of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa. She has never been on an airplane until last week. Yet, now she stands thousands of miles from home at the UN Summit in New York; speaking at an event hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan and with an audience that includes former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She is small in size, yet her message is big and loud: education is a right for all…

Her name is Nthabiseng Tshabalala, the Global Campaign for Education’s youngest 1GOAL ambassador. As she stands at the podium—her height supported by a single foot stool—she declares “education is important for all kids my age. But, not just children in South Africa—or even all of Africa—but in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America and everywhere in the world.” The whole room is humbled; her passion for education gives her more height than the foot stool ever could…….

Read the rest of the article here.