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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Global Countdown: Take action!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

protestequipment

By William Zhang

2008 has been a year of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis and of course elections, both here and abroad. But we want to do something about the issues we are facing, so check out our ideas for taking action!

10. Drugs

Take Action:

9. Human Rights

Take Action:

8. Global Food Crisis

Take Action:

7. Healthcare

Take Action:

  • Don’t wait until you’re sick - be proactive and make healthy choices every day. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.
  • Support The Global Fund www.theglobalfund.org, which works for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, by buying (RED) products www.joinred.com.

oilfree_photo6. The Oil Crisis

Take Action

  • Leave the car at home whenever possible - walk, bike, catch the bus or take the train.
  • When buying a car, pay attention to its fuel economy rating www.fuelsaver.govt.nz. Not only will it save you money, it’ll also help conserve the world’s finite oil supplies.
  • Read Life after Oil (another Just Write article) about preparing for the peak oil crisis.

5. Global Security

Take Action

  • Stay informed on the latest issues in global security. There’s a lot of hype out there, so if you want to go straight to the source, www.globalsecurity.org is one of the most trusted on the net.
  • Find out more about what you can do from the Global Security Institute, www.gsinstitute.org an organisation promoting security through the elimination of nuclear weapons.

4. Education

Take Action

  • Volunteer as a peer support worker at your school and help a fellow student get more out of their education.
  • Don’t take your education for granted - millions in the developing world aren’t as lucky. Make the most out of your school’s resources like libraries and computer labs…and (the most valuable resource of all) teachers!
  • Find out more about the UN’s Education for All programme and how you can support their goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

3. Climate Change

Take Action

  • Go to www.globalcool.org or www.4million.org.nz for loads of ideas on reducing your carbon footprint - from unplugging appliances to setting up community composting projects.
  • Support New Zealand businesses which have proper climate change policies, like Meridian Energy (or if you don’t pay the bills, ask your parents).
  • Put the pressure on businesses and the government to give climate change a higher priority - write letters, use parents’ networks and join lobby or environmental activist groups.

peace_trees2. Violence and Conflict

Take Action

  • Live by the principles of non-violence, followed by Te Whiti and Tohu, Ghandi and Martin Luther King. (Download this resource Parihaka and the gift of non violent resistance for more information.)
  • Help out the victims of violence and crime in New Zealand by donating to or volunteering for the Victim Support service.
  • Check out the Peace Foundation’s new youth website, www.enact.org.nz, to find out how you can be an advocate for peace in your community.

1. The Economy

Take Action

  • Take money out of the equation. Bartering was the original form of trade, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. Independence from money means that bartering systems prosper in difficult economic conditions. Try it for yourself, set up a class bartering system, or register with www.justfortheloveofit.org and share your time and skills with your whole community.
  • If you, or your parents, are forced to cut down on donations to charity, consider replacing them with a contribution of your time with volunteer work. Try www.volunteer.org.nz or www.volunteernow.org.nz for current opportunities in your community.
  • Anchor down. Don’t spend beyond your means - maxed out credit cards are not the best idea in an economic downturn. But most importantly, think positive! The news may be full of gloomy stories about job cuts and lost savings, but don’t let that get to your head. Remember that “after the storm, the sun shines its brightest”.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.


Global countdown: Global meltdown?!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

By William Zhang

The year of 2008 was one of financial meltdowns, chaotic weather, a global food crisis, and of course, elections both here and abroad. If you get depressed easily, you might want to stop here. If you want to keep up and get ahead with the issues that will affect us most through 2009 though, read on. This is my Top 10 countdown for the issues of 2008 and 2009.

Just to show you I am not a complete pessimist the Top 10 list is followed by the actions you can take on each issue.

10. Drugs

Drugs continue to be a global problem. Annually the US alone spends $35 billion on its ‘War on Drugs’. 2009 will mark a century of international cooperation on drug control. In 1909 leaders from around the world met in Shanghai to discuss the drug problem of the time - the Chinese opium epidemic. In Aotearoa New Zealand, 2008 has been the Year of the Drug Bust. The aptly named Operation Viper saw the New Zealand Police make almost a hundred arrests, following numerous drug busts throughout September. The following month, a $28 million shipment of pseudoephedrine (a component of P), was intercepted by Customs - and that’s only the third largest drug bust in New Zealand history!

9. Human Rights

human_rights_chinaFor human rights campaigners around the world many milestones were made in 2008, such as the signing of an international treaty which bans the use of cluster bombs after years of campaigning by peace and disarmament groups. We also witnessed the spectacle (and sport) of the Beijing Olympics, which was accompanied by protests over China’s human rights record, raising some much needed awareness and generating media coverage around the world. 10 December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a chance to celebrate achievements and focus on the upcoming challenges for 2009 and beyond.

8. Global Food Crisis

Millions of people in some of the world’s poorest nations face starvation in 2009 and beyond, due to skyrocketing crop prices and food shortages. Last year, over 25 000 farmers committed suicide in India alone, disillusioned by the debts they had been driven into by grain shortages and soaring costs. 2008 was the International Year of the Potato, but while the world celebrates the virtues of this staple food, the issue of hunger in developing countries remains as significant as ever.

7. Healthcare

global-healthcare1Globally over a billion people are still living without access to basic healthcare, with huge numbers dying from preventable diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria. Locally too, the healthcare system was stretched to its limit in 2008, with red - and even purple - alerts flying everywhere, indicating shortages of hospital bed space. And let’s not forget the many overworked doctors and nurses around the country. 2009 may see further challenges, with many governments struggling to maintain expenditure on healthcare given the global economic slowdown and falls in GDP.

6. The Oil Crisis

In July, the price of petrol was thrust above $2 a litre, reaching new all time highs. While the price may have come down significantly since then, once economic growth takes off again when the world emerges from the economic slump, petrol prices are likely to soar once more - look out for new highs by 2010. In the long-term future, the peak oil crisis is coming. We’ll start to experience oilcost-photoa decline in the availability of cheap and easily accessible oil sources, with some predictions picking petrol prices to surpass $10 a litre within a decade. (And to think we were complaining when it hit $1 a litre back in April 2000!)

5. Global Security

Both Iran and North Korea are carefully nurturing their nuclear programmes going into 2009. In the case of Iran, retaliatory action from other countries, such as the US or Israel, threatens to throw the Middle East into further turmoil. The picture looks a little brighter for North Korea though, with agreements made to dismantle their central nuclear complex in return for financial aid from the US. Meanwhile, terrorism continues to remain a risk to global security as we head into 2009, with the prospect of biological weaponry being used against civilian targets a very real threat according to US National Intelligence Agency.

4. Education

Millions of children worldwide don’t even have access to the most basic forms of education. Over a billion people will enter 2009 unable to even read a book or sign their name. In 2009 progress will be made towards addressing this issue, with US$ 4.5billion pledged to support Education For All, a UN programme with the goal of meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. In Aotearoa New Zealand, over 20% of students leave secondary school without any formal qualifications. While the solution to this is debated, the merits of NCEA continue to draw harsh criticism for not being challenging enough; with over 10% of New Zealand schools opting to offer Cambridge or IB instead - the list is growing steadily going into 2009.

cyclonenargis3. Climate Change

The Aotearoa New Zealand winter was full of extremes, with the coolest May since 1992, followed by higher than average temperatures in June and July, and of course the ‘weather bombs’ of August. Globally, Australia was hit by record droughts in early 2008, and South-East Asia was hit by record storms later in the year. This trend may turn out to be a title page for what’s to come in future years, with many scientists claiming climate change is responsible for this extreme weather and that things are likely to get worse. But its not just weather we have to worry about. A recent report found that the impact on ecosystems of climate change is already very severe, with falls in krill population caused by rising sea temperatures even being attributed to cannibalism among polar bears in the Arctic - nasty!

2. Violence and Conflict

According to the 2008 Global Peace Index, a system used to rank countries by their levels of conflict, Iraq is the least peaceful country, with the most internal conflict. Most of this can be attributed to US-led occupation of the region, with much of the violence being targeted at coalition forces. Meanwhile, Iceland took out the top spot as the most peaceful country. Aotearoa New Zealand was ranked fourth most peaceful, down two places from last year. 2008 saw violent crime in New Zealand rise, despite the overall crime rate going down. What seemed to be an endless string of senseless murders throughout the year left the country shaken and demanding action. Yet, this violence may be a dramatic symptom of deeper social issues, such as poverty, education and unemployment. If so, such issues will have to be addressed in 2009 before the issue of violent crime can be tackled successfully.

1. The Economy

tillCrises in the financial markets have dominated the news, election campaigns, and conversation since September. Aotearoa New Zealand is in a gloomy recession going into 2009, and many economists believe that the world’s going to join us soon. The underlying issues to the economic crisis are yet to be untangled though, so 2009 is looking to be a year which will be financially difficult for people throughout the world, including many New Zealanders. Sure, could have lower interest rates, but troublesome things may also be ahead - job cuts for example. This issue is also likely to have spill-over effects into several other areas. For instance, the climate change issue will likely take a back seat in the face of economic uncertainty. Likewise, those in poverty will be hit especially hard, as the willingness of governments and individuals to contribute financial aid and support may diminish.

2009 is going to be a rollercoaster of a year
The year of 2008 may have looked pretty gloomy, but there is still hope for the future. The United States has a new President and New Zealand has a new government. Will 2009 see Obama’s vision of “change we can believe in”, or the new government’s promise for a “brighter future” realised? Let’s hope so.


TAKE ACTION

William has lots of ideas for ways to take action Check them out here.

This article was originally published in Tearaway Magazine.


Material World - A Global Family Portrait

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Peter Menzel

material_photo11For the photos in this stunning book, photographers spent one week living with a “statistically average” family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a “big picture” shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods. Statistics and a brief history for each country are included as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!


Trade Aid

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.tradeaid.org.nz

What do they do?
Trade Aid is a New Zealand founded, alternative trading organisation which has been working with craft producers and small farmers in developing countries around the world for 35 years. Trade Aid currently has 32 retail shops in both the North and South Islands and runs an extensive public education programme which aims to equip New Zealanders to speak out for greater justice in world trade.

How can I get involved?

Shop at Trade Aid! =D

Volunteer for Trade Aid - At Trade Aid there are opportunities to be a retail volunteer, speaker about Trade Aid issues to community or school groups, campaigner, education team member or a trustee. Get in touch with your local shop and see what you can get involved with today, sign up on-line at www.tradeaid.org.nz or pop in for a chat.

Jubilee Aotearoa

Friday, February 20th, 2009

jubilee
www.debtaction.org.nz

What do they do?
Jubilee Aotearoa is campaigning to cancel the unpayable debt of poor countries and to end the harmful conditions on loans from the international financial institutions including the IMF and World Bank.  It grew out of a meeting of agencies and individuals meeting in 1997 who jointly campaigned for a special one-off effort to mark the millennium in 2000.  Jubilee Aotearoa continues to meet regularly with government to discuss debt related issues, the agendas and programmes of the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank and from time to time organizes campaign actions.

How can I get involved?
Check out the website: www.debtaction.org.nz for more information.  Follow the links to find up-to-date international news on the current situation.

Invite a speaker or borrow resources (DVDs and videos).

Write a letter or ask a question of a political candidate regarding debt.  Jubilee is producing some background material and questions which will be available on the website soon.

Join the email list and attend the meetings with government.  Contact: gillian.southey@cws.org.nz to find out how.

Get Jubilees help to organise a stall, a petition or a local action asking the NZ government to take a stronger stand on debt cancellation.

Caritas

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

caritas

www.caritas.org.nz

What do they do?

Caritas is the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is part of Caritas Internationalis, which is a confederation of 154 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies from around the world. Caritas agencies work in over 198 countries: delivering aid, supporting development, and working for justice.

How can I be involved?

Donate!

Campaigning – Caritas are involved in many campaigns, including Aid, Children, Cluster Munitions Crime and Punishment, Debt, Environmental Justice, HIV and AIDS, Human Rights Make Poverty History Millennium Development Goals, Submissions to NZ Government, and Trade. They offer excellent resources on their website to help you join with them to take action on these issues.

A year volunteering in South Africa

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Interview by Tessa Johnstone

felicitygibsonFelicity Gibson, 22, was interested in understanding other countries — not just seeing them through a camera or tour bus window. That’s why she took a year out from her degree to volunteer in South Africa and “gain a new perspective on the world.”

Felicity spent a year volunteering through an initiative organised by New Zealand Aotearoa-based Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) and University of Otago’s Geography Studies faculty. She worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, based in Students Partnership Worldwide’s (SPW) East London, South Africa office and regularly traveling to communities in the Eastern Cape to support volunteers working in the field.

SPW runs youth empowerment programmes in South Africa, primarily with the Xhosa people, in which local and international volunteers are paired up together and provide health education and awareness, training for job and life skills, help to set up clubs and activities for the community, set up resource and library centres, and facilitate peer education.

Felicity’s job was to go into the communities where the youth empowerment programmes were run, and come up with a good system to look at how the programmes were working for the community and the volunteers.

Youth is an extra bonus groupof4

Volunteering gives you a lot of work experience and job skills, which Felicity points out is invaluable for young people. Young people, as well, offer a lot to the organisations and communities they volunteer with.
“I think being young meant I had the right attitude going in to the experience. Many of the older volunteers I talked to were worried about how they were going to handle the different working environment and lack of resources.
“But because I had very little working experience, I had nothing to compare my job to and so was very adaptable to the environment and willing to give things a try.
“This lack of experience also meant that I did not go in their thinking that there was only one right way to do things and did not try and do every thing my own way. I was happy just to go with the flow and learn from others.
“I think volunteers must be open-minded to the fact that people have different sets of knowledge and be prepared to learn and share. It is very important that volunteers remember that they are there to help, not hinder an organisation.”

Daily life is an experience
Felicity feels lucky to have experienced both life in the South African office and that of her fellow international volunteers working in villages.
“I think all of us international volunteers had very rewarding experiences and each faced challenges unique to our situation. Most importantly we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs together.”
Felicity lived in a small apartment in East London, but experienced the living conditions of volunteers working in smaller communities as well.
“Living in South Africa was certainly not easy. For example, while we lived in town, we could not leave the house after dark as we had no car and it was too dangerous to walk anywhere.
“In the rural communities, volunteers were placed in rondavels [mud huts] with a host family. Rondavels usually had one room where sleeping, eating and cleaning all occurred.”
All SPW volunteers experience very basic living conditions, often with no running water, though most have some electricity. Travel is done by shared minibus or taxi, which Felicity describes entertainingly as “long bumpy trips crammed with people”. There is no fridge, which limits volunteers to a vegetarian diet which includes a lot of local dishes.

Being the “Young White Girl”
spwvolunteersandypOne of the most difficult challenges for Felicity was adjusting to a different culture in South Africa.
“Things looked and felt like home in South Africa, but I was expected to act differently. For example, no one ever worried about running late. This was always frustrating to me when we were holding an event and I expected to arrive early to set up but everyone always arrived after the event was meant to start as they knew that all the people attending would be even later than that.”
Felicity also observed a lot of racism, which she says was very challenging.
“There is still a lot of cultural division in South Africa and I was amazed at the extremely racist comments dropped casually into a conversation by a taxi driver, waiter or my neighbour. While there are racists in New Zealand, most people hide it. In South Africa, people who were racist were very open about it.”
Some South Africans also had skewed perceptions of Felicity, as a “Young White Girl”.
“People’s perception of white people from overseas had often been formed from the movies and so I gained somewhat of a celebrity status. As there were not often young, white girls walking round where I lived or visited I got stared at and whispered about a lot. Some people thought I had a lot of money and could therefore give them my possessions.
“However, in other settings I could feel there was a lot of trepidation about a young, white girl coming into a community with a fear I was going to tell people how to live their lives.”

The biggest learning?
Felicity says the biggest learning for her was “the most obvious”.
“I learnt about how people with little money and resources live and how hard it is for people without opportunities, like I have had, to move forward in their lives.
“Take, for example, computers. You can go to a community and many people have never seen a computer. You may then go to a township where there might be ten old computers for a school of 800 pupils. Then you might find young university students who use computers as part of their school work, however because they have never had the opportunity to use them like we do, their skills are still very low. And then you get the minority at the top that a live life like we do here in New Zealand where using a computer is an everyday occurrence. This range extends to all parts of life, with the minority at the top gaining all the experience and education and more able to take advantage of opportunities than those at the other end of the scale.”

Coming home - with new perspectives and confidence

outsideworkshopFelicity got what she wanted in a travel experience, gaining insight into what South Africa was really like.
“I was very scared of travelling to South Africa because of the horror stories I’d heard. But the country I discovered was very different to those preconceptions. For the most, everyone in South Africa was so friendly and positive. I found it quite a shock to return to New Zealand which I had always thought of as being laidback to find that I now see us as quite a melancholy country. I also learnt about the many different cultures that make up South Africa, especially the Xhosa people.”
Felicity says she came back from South Africa a more mature person.
“Throughout the year I faced so many challenges that I am really quite a different person to the one I used to be. I have a very different perspective on the world and view things in different ways. I definitely am a lot more grateful for the life I live and therefore am more determined to make the most of what I have.”
Eric Levine, founder of SPW and long-time volunteer himself, says the experience also gives you a huge amount of confidence.
“Volunteers always tell me: I came thinking I was going to teach and I learned and took away much more than I taught’,” Eric says.
“They come away with confidence times 10 to a factor of 100 — to work in difficult, under-resourced, complicated situations and be successful in change — no matter what you do in your life, people constantly are like, I am capable, I have skills, I can figure out how to do stuff’.

Felicity is back at Otago completing her Geography degree in Development Studies, though she’s not sure what will happen after that.
“I definitely believe that I was very lucky to be born in New Zealand, and that gives me a sense of social responsibility to help others who were not so lucky, whether they are from developing countries or in New Zealand itself.”
spwtshirts
To find out more about Students Partnership Worldwide (SPW), who are working with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) to place New Zealanders aged 18 — 28 in volunteer placements for six to nine months in Southern Africa, or the VSA/Otago University Univol programme, go to www.vsa.org.nz or www.spw.org.

The top photo shows Felicity with fellow SPW volunteer Greer Lamaro carrying water up from the stream in the village. All other photos courtesy of SPW volunteer training.


TAKE ACTION!

Want to volunteer, but not sure how to go about it ethically? Download VSA’s Volunteering Overseas Guide (1.6MB) or check out the ethical volunteering site for things to think about and tips on how to find a good organisation. And you can download Dev-Zone’s magazine, Just Change Issue 11: Good Intentions - The Ethics of Volunteering.


LEARN MORE:

South Africa country profile
Xhosa entry on wikipedia
http://allafrica.com/ news from Africa.

    What’s wrong with the G20’s neo-liberal agenda?

    Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

    Omar Hamed

    anti-capitalism signThe premier item on the G20’s agenda at it’s next meeting in Melbourne, in November 2006, is the reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Fifty Years is Enough Network describe them as two US-controlled institutions that for the last fifty years have been,

    “imposing economic austerity policies in the countries of the so-called “Third World” or “global South.” Once Southern countries build up large external debts, as most have, they cannot get credit or cash anywhere else and are forced to go to these international institutions and accept whatever conditions are demanded of them. None of the countries has emerged from their debt problems; indeed most countries now have much higher levels of debt than when they first accepted IMF/World Bank “assistance.”(1)

    The IMF and World Bank have been under pressure from a number of different corners in recent years, including the Argentinean uprising (between 2001 and 2002), mass mobilisations across the planet against neo-liberalism, and campaigns for the rich nations and these international finance institutions to drop the debt’ that many developing nations owe them.

    The IMF is losing its grip over much of the developing world with Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Uruguay and Turkey seeking to pay back their loans as fast as possible, and high global commodity prices which have cut the IMF’s outstanding debt from over $70bn in 2003 to currently just over $20bn.(2) With the legitimacy of the Bretton Woods consensus under fire, and more and more nations refusing to take up its loans, the rich nations will be seeking a way to prolong the new world disorder they seek to build via the Washington consensus However, the iron grip of the IMF remains on many poor nations, such as Papua New Guinea, who are forced into “liberalising their economies and reducing social spending” by the IMF and World Bank. (3)
    hand holding dollars
    Barry Coates, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand wrote that, “Because of its debts, Papua New Guinea has few resources to fund HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care… HIV infections are increasing by up to 50 percent per year and, if the epidemic follows the path of Zimbabwe, by 2020 the working age population in PNG will be 40 per cent smaller than it is today.”(4)

    Oxfam and the Make Poverty History coalition think that if debt relief was offered to all 62 developing countries that need full debt cancellation to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) then progress will have been made. However, many of us who will hit the streets in Melbourne in December 2006 to protest against the G20 believe that the IMF and World Bank cannot be reformed, and that because of the stranglehold that the United States has over these institutions, the only way forward is to abolish both the World Bank and IMF, for developing nations to stop repaying their loans and for a new and fair institution to be set up to manage loans to nations.

    As Global Exchange points out, “voting power at the World Bank and IMF is determined by the level of a nation’s financial contribution. Therefore, the United States has roughly 17% of the vote, with the seven largest industrialized countries (G-7) holding a total of 45%.” (5)


    The WTO straightjacket’

    The G20’s agenda of neo-liberalism and privatisation has been accurately described as “capitalism with the gloves off”. The G20 is pursuing neo-liberal economic reforms across the world, particularly in vulnerable developing nations such as those in the Pacific. Australia, aided by New Zealand, is working towards a free trade area in the south Pacific, while the European Union is seeking to impose free trade agreements with its former colonies and could, with its economic power, very easily crush Pacific economies through its Economic Partnership Agreements’. Add into this the predatory behaviour of many of the G20 nations in the WTO and World Bank towards developing nations and you have a very disturbing picture painted of many of the G20 nations acting in an imperialist nature as each seeks to carve out its own slice of the world.

    The WTO aims to fit nations into a straightjacket of privatisation and deregulation which, in reality, will be dominated by corporate power and characterised by a loss of indigenous sovereignty and the “marginalisation and impoverishment of vulnerable sectors of populations”, as the nation-states involved move towards full compliance with the World Trade Organisation’s neo-liberal trade regime. (6)

    The recently averted accession to the WTO by Tonga demonstrates the disastrous consequences that joining the WTO has for developing nations. Oxfam New Zealand, in its report, Blood from a Stone, exposed the reality of Tonga’s accession. Tonga will be allowed tariffs at no more than 20%, resulting in tariff cuts that are expected to “affect Tonga’s ability to provide basic health care, education, water supply and other essential services for its people.” (7)

    “What can we do? We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass.” (Arundhati Roy)

    Neo-liberalism must be stopped. Subcomandante Marcos of the Mexican Zapatista movement said: “what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there…”
    police and protestors
    The only way to a humane and fair world where global poverty really is history is to mobilise people, especially young people and students, to struggle for a better world and against the corporate agenda that will be promoted at the G20. Our, and everyone else’s, future is not for sale. We will join forces to resist the rule of the market, the cutting of social spending, deregulation, privatisation and the global push to make us forget about that thing called “community”. (8)

    In December 2006, we will dance through the streets of Melbourne to oppose the G20 and the World Bank and IMF and the stooges of imperialism, like Paul Wolfowitz, that run them.

    “Against the single economic blueprint where the market rules, we represent diverse, people-centred alternatives. Against the monoculture of global capital, we demand a world where many worlds fit…
    Resisting together, our hope is reignited: hope because we have the power to reclaim memory from those who would impose oblivion, hope because we are more powerful than they can possibly imagine, hope because history is ours when we make it with our own hands.” (9)

    References:
    (1) Fifty Years is Enough, RESIST THE IMF & WORLD BANK! STOP CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION!
    (2) Gabriel Kolko, AN ECONOMY OF BUCCANEERS AND FANTASISTS
    (3) Oxfam’s Questions and Answers on Debt
    (4) Drop the Debt by Barry Coates
    (5) Global Exchange : World Bank / IMF Questions and Answers
    (6) Professor Jane Kelsey, A People’s Guide to PACER, Commissioned by the Pacific Network on Globalisation, Suva, August, 2004.
    (7) Oxfam International Briefing Note, Tonga: Blood from a Stone, December 15, 2005.
    (8) Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcà­a, What is “Neo-Liberalism”? A Brief Definition, February 26th, 2000.
    (9) Notes from Nowhere, We are Everywhere, 2003, London.

    LEARN MORE

    Read Omar’s other article on the G20, and about why he plans to protest against the G20 in Melbourne, Get Up! Stand Up! Say No to the G20

    Websites:
    Global exchange
    Focus on the Global South
    Fifty Years is Enough
    Oxfam New Zealand
    Make Poverty History
    ARENA

    DVDs:
    The Fourth World War!
    The Take
    (both available to borrow from the Just Focus library)

    Books:
    No Logo” by Naomi Klien
    “Empty promises : the IMF, the Word Bank, and planned failures of global capitalism”

    TAKE ACTION!

    DRUGS: Nobody’s is winning the war

    Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

    Phoebe Borwick and Amy Donohue

    opium poppiesThe trade behind cocaine (or coca, as the plant of origin is known) and heroin (which comes from opium poppies) is a global issue. An estimated four million people depend on income derived from the cultivation of illicit drug crops. In the year 2000, the global drug trade was estimated at a value of US$400 billion. It’s an issue worth more than the price of feeding the planet over the same period of time.

    From the rainforests of South America to the remotest parts of Afghanistan to Pete Doherty’s honker, we trace the journey of the most profitable crops in the world.

    From the dark ages…
    Way back when we were still running around with leaves covering our lower regions, South Americans chewed the leaf of the coca plant. Often incorrectly considered a narcotic, cocaine is actually a stimulant and when chewed suppresses hunger, while increasing strength and energy.

    Cue the Spaniards arriving in South America and branding coca a plant that the devil invented for the total destruction of the natives’. Or, that’s what one prominent Catholic artist declared.
    They changed their minds a bit when they discovered it really did stimulate quite nicely thus legalising it and charging a nifty little tax for their own economic benefit. For a time, coca was even the main source of income for the Roman Catholic Church. Sneaky, sneaky!

    …to today…
    Ironically, the two most fatal drugs are still legal today and taxed to the hilt by governments around the world. Alcohol and tobacco kill more people than illicit drugs every year and are both widely accepted and available.

    The very fact that other drugs are illegal increases the profit to be made. With criminals running the show, the prices skyrocket.

    …to leafy fields…
    Cocaine is an economical crop for farmers not only because of its high selling cost and ever-present demand, but its quick maturation period. Within one to two years of planting the seed, the coca plant’s leaves will be ready to harvest with a drying period of only six hours. And opium poppies have an even quicker yield.

    …to environmental destruction…
    More than 30 years ago, the US came up with the superhero tactic to rid the world, and especially their own country (where the demand was coming from), of the evil empire of narcotics. They called it the War on Drugs.
    george bush
    The most widespread method of destroying the coca plant in the 90s, and the opium poppy still today, was to manually pull up every single plant in a field. Time consuming and tiring, there must have been an easier way?

    Consequently, air eradication with herbicides became rather popular. In as little as ten days after spraying, the plants are stripped bare of their leaves and within around 70 days, the plant will be completely dead. RIP, indeed. US-sponsored Plan Colombia was, to effect, an aerial fumigation of this country — the second most ecologically diverse in the world. Spraying caused poisoning and environmental damage.

    Herbicides have been linked to diarrhoea, hair loss and skin rashes on children. Also, legal crops like bananas, coffee and pineapples are often destroyed along with the coca plant. Yes, we have no bananas. Not quite the lycra and rippling muscles the US had envisaged. In Afghanistan, post the US-led invasion, local and international troops are enlisted in eradicating poppy crops — as are schoolchildren in some provinces. This is dangerous work.

    Imagine you’re a farmer who’s invested cash and time in a poppy field. How would you feel if you saw it being literally stamped out? Might make you want to protect your only chance of making a living. Where’s that gun that’s been lying around since the war? Further problems arise as more coca plants and poppies are eradicated. Demand for the drug remains constant (or grows) while there are fewer crops, resulting in the existing crops becoming more lucrative. More farmers then begin to grow the plant to take advantage of the price increase. What a conundrum!

    …to poverty…
    With secrecy comes vulnerability and international drug rings are not covered by fair trade agreements. Globalisation of the drug trade has led to even greater exploitation of the crop farmers along with cheaper and easier international trafficking. The globalisation of the drug trade forms a connection between organised crime, small arms, terrorism, human trafficking and all kinds of criminal and seedy life.

    In 1999, nearly 80 per cent of opium cultivation took place in Afghanistan. Chances are, a gram of coke purchased in the US, Europe or New Zealand comes from a coca bush grown in the Andean countries. In fact, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru account for more than 98 per cent of the world supply. Already in poverty, working with poor soil and unempowered to change their circumstances — not to mention the influence of drug lords and anti-government groups — farmers often have no choice if they want to keep food on the table.

    Yet, the War on Drugs is not being won. The US’ efforts to strip Latin America and Afghanistan of their coca and poppy crops are also stripping the livelihood of millions. While thrill-seekers in the west demand the drugs, and their governments react by trying to stop the supply, farmers will continue to grow the illicit crops unless they are offered a real alternative way to make a living.

    ….to terrorism…

    gun
    Yes, that’s right. Terrorism. Stop or they’ll shoot (up). The links between terrorism, drugs and war are extensive and very real. In 2001, just weeks before two planes barrelled into the Twin Towers, the US pledged a further $1.5m to plump out the reported $140m in ‘humanitarian’ aid it sent to Afghanistan. Why?

    Because western methods of enforcing drug cultivation laws proved ineffective, but groups with violent means available to them could whip out grenades and guns willy nilly, without a thought for morality. The Taliban was limiting drug production by threatening to shoot farmers of illicit crops. Thus, they were held in high American esteem until everything went to custard on September 11.

    But the corruption ran deeper. After the attacks, the Taliban turned tail to force farmers to grow the poppies. They, and other anti-government organisations, act as trafficking middlemen and a defence force, making profit out of the trade and protecting drug smugglers with weaponry and vehicles.

    Still wanna get high, butterfly?
    So, you still down with shovelling that candy up your nose this Friday? Are you quite content to continue your involvement with one of the world’s deadliest industries? You don’t need to rent Traffic, Requiem for a Dream or Maria Full of Grace to understand the true repercussions of your habit on the developing countries of the world. And if you still don’t get it, then you must be wasted. Go blow your nose and have an OJ.

    LEARN MORE

    Afghanistan country profile
    Colombia country profile
    Drugs: an overview
    Drug Policy Alliance is America’s leading organisation working to end the war on drugs.
    The worldwide collective of committed scholar-activists at Transnational Institute
    Illegal Drugs: Scourge or Globalization’s Great Equalizer? by Baylen J. Linnekin

    This article was originally published in Tearaway magazine as part of the Global Focus project.

    The Future of Food - Review

    Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

    By Lena Stahlschmidtfutureoffood_photo

    The information that the film presents is so interesting and terrifying that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Although the format is what some may call a little dry’ the movie had my full attention the entire time. This is the type of film that you’d expect to see in class; educational, informative and no Hollywood action scenes’.

    The movie presents food in the 21st century: the way we grow it, the way we mess with it and the current corruption, deceit, and dangers that exist. It also gives an even dimmer outlook of our planet’s future related to food. The movie looks at the many aspects of genetic engineering ranging from the cellular make-up to its global impact. The main focus is on the lack of studies, precautions, and knowledge about the effects of GE and the role that the American government and agriculture companies played in the development of GE food.

    It is a documentation of corruption, deceit, money, and power that has lead to our generation being the guinea pig in the fight for the global control over food. The issues raised in this movie are crucial to the sustainability of our planet and existence.

    Stars: 4 ****

    Find out more.
    Learn more about where New Zealand stands in genetic engineering Here is what another Just Focus members had to say.

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