UN high-level politics and how to simplify things....

This must be the picture of the month, if not of the year.

Addressing the UN General Assembly this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illustrated his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions, with a complex drawing.

I thought the US hit the UN's intellectual bottom when they came up with their fabricated evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, back in 2002. But Netanyahu showed one could go lower. (Full story)

Story filed under #KinderGardens and #HowToAddressWorldLeaders

Picture courtesy AP/Richard Drew

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US mass killings: good for gun sales

In the four days after the July 20 shooting in the Colorado movie theater, dealers in the state submitted 3,647 requests for state background checks required to buy a firearm, according to the FBI. That’s 41% more than during the same four days the prior week and a 38% increase over the first Friday to Monday in July. (Source)

I just crack up with this quote in the same article:
At a gun show in Loveland, Colorado (ed: no kidding, "A gunshow in Loveland"), two days after the shooting, customers bought rifles, scopes and ammunition from dealers such as Mike Ellis from Greeley.

Ellis, 43, said he regretted that no one in the theater crowd shot back.

“If there were several people carrying arms it probably wouldn’t have played out as it did,” Elllis said.

Thanks to GB for the tip.

Cartoon courtesy Bill Day / PoliticalCartoons.com

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From the past: expedition to Howland Island

Just by coindence, I found the video from our Howland island expedition on Youtube. Funny to look back at an adventure of almost 20 years ago.

Howland is a deserted island of about 1 square mile, smack in the middle of the Pacific, on the crossing of the dateline and the equator. If you'd ever heard of the island, then it must have been in connection to Amelia Earhart. She was the first woman to fly around the world, scheduled to refuel on Howland's make-shift airstrip, back in the 1930's. She never made it to the island. It is believed she crashed very close by, though the wreckage of her plane was never found.

Our expedition team was not that unfortunate, though I almost drowned, dragged to sea by an undertow (check the story), and a storm delayed our departure for a week.

Makes me think that people surely do some crazy shit in their lives.

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See Rio+20 and die...

Joao Luiz Telles Penetra
João Luiz Telles Penetra, one of the two murdered activists

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles “Pituca” Penetra were both leaders of the Associação Homens do Mar. AHOMAR (Association of Sea Men) is an organisation set up in 2009 to defend the rights of the fisher-folk working in Rio de Janeiro, and particularly those affected by the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras.

On June 19, both fishermen attended a meeting at Peoples' Summit, a RIO+20 side event in Rio de Janeiro, to discuss the impacts of big projects in the country. Three days later they disappeared.

On June 22, at approximately 4:00pm, Almir Nogueira de Amorim went to João Luiz Telles Penetra’s home in Ilha de Paquetá, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, to collect him to go fishing. When they did not return the following day, local fishermen and fire fighters began a search of the Guanabara Bay.

On June 24th, the body of Almir Nogueira de Amorim was found. he was tied to his boat. He had bruises on his neck and the boat had several holes in the hull.
The following day, João Luiz Telles Penetra’s body was found on the banks of Guanabara Bay. Both his hands and feet were tied with a rope.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim was a founding member and vocal activist of AHOMAR. João Luiz Telles Penetra was the leader of the association in Ilha de Paquetá and had been a key figure in a new campaign launched by the organisation. He led the struggle against Petrobras’ construction plans in Guaxindiba river, located within the Área de Proteção Ambiental Guapimirim (Environmental Protected Area of Guapimirim). The oil company wants to deepen the river to create a waterway, which would eliminate any possibility of fishing in these waters.

Since the founding of AHOMAR, the organisation its members have reported being subjected to death threats, physical attacks and killings. According to AHOMAR’s members, the attacks are perpetrated by people linked to death squads, security guards hired by the companies in charge of building pipelines and militias operating in the region.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra are not the first members of AHOMAR to be murdered. On 19 January 2010, fisherman and human rights defender Marcio Amaro was assassinated one day after a demonstration, organised by AHOMAR, took place in front of the Petrobras headquarters in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Prior to his killing Marcio Amaro had filed a formal complaint concerning the presence of unlawfully armed men in Petrobras construction sites in Guanabara Bay.

On 22 May 2009 Paulo César dos Santos Souza, former treasurer of the association, was killed in front of his wife and children after being shot in the head five times. The crime occurred six hours after a government inspection decided to stop the pipeline construction due to irregularities.

To date no one has been brought to justice for these killings. Even with the high rate of violence in the region of Mauá and all the threats faced by human rights defenders, the only police station covering the region was shut down on 13 February 2012.

Source: CounterCurrents.org

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Sahel: The world is waiting for pictures of starving children

When I see the dynamics of the "international aid", I get thoroughly disgusted at times.

Take the Sahel hunger crisis: Less than a year ago, the international humanitarian community got heavily criticized for their lack of advanced warnings, and preventive responses in the Somalia drought crisis.

While the first clear signals of a major drought in the Horn of Africa came as early as August 2010, it was not until a year later, in July 2011, that the international community reacted. The relief efforts mainly started after the UN officially declared a famine in southern Somalia, and the drought – finally – hit the international press.
Way too late for an adequate response though, states the post-factum Oxfam/Save the Children report. With disastrous consequences: Of the 13 million people at risk, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people died. More half of them were children under five, according to the same report.

I would not necessarily agree with all findings in the Oxfam report, but it was clear that "something did not work". According to me, it was not a lack of early warning signals, and not a lack of response from the humanitarian organisations. Nor was it a lack appeals for funding. It was a lack of response from the international community to provide sufficient funding to avoid a food security crisis to turn into a full-scale famine.

Anyways, in fall 2011, the humanitarian organisations humbly bowed their heads, screamed "Mea Culpa" and put ash on their forehead. "We will do better", they promised.

Of course, we did not have to wait long... A few months later, the Sahel drought hit, and this time, the humanitarians did everything according to the books: early warning signals of drought detected (tick), clear assessments (tick), clear targeting (tick), funding alerts issued (tick), media alerted (tick).

Result: already deep into the hunger crisis, the drought appeal for the Sahel is only 39% funded - check out this updated financial reporting for the common appeal (Source: OCHA). Individual sector such as education and human rights only have pledged funding covering 7% and 5% respectively.

Why? Why do donors not come forward with sufficient funding? According to me, the answer is simple: There is a dire lack of pictures from starving children. Misery sells. And people in the aid business know that nothing sells as well as the picture of a starving child on the breast of crying, underfed, exhausted mother. With a dry desert landscape in the background. Insert dead cattle corpses if possible.

There have not been sufficient pictures of starving children in the Sahel, thus funding does not arrive, thus the needs can not be fulfilled, thus people will die, thus awful pictures will come, thus people will get angry, thus donors will donate.

And once again, we will have put a plaster on a wooden leg. Just in time to prepare for the next drought famine in East Africa again. L'histoire se repète.

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Our microfinance team allocated its 1,666th loan

Would you even know where Kyrgyzstan is? Leave alone, been there? And would you even have thought to finance an entrepreneur there? Ever?

Well we did. On all three accounts: "Knew", "Visited", and "Financed"...

We just financed our 1,666th loan (that is one thousands six hundred and sixtysixthththth) loan with our Kiva micro financing team.

The loan went to Zaripakhon, 52 years and mother of three children. She is a cattle farmer since 2000 selling milk and dairy products. To order further develop her business, Zaripakhon requested a loan buy more livestock.

Zaripakhon was one of the 70 women from around the world we allocated our newest microfinance loans to. This loan was financed by a project on AidJobs, which raised over US$2,000 of funds.

Here are the latest micro finance loans we allocated, bringing our team total to almost US$60,000!

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KONY2012: Can Social Media Capture a War Criminal?

I blogged before about Kony, the infamous leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. For decennia, he has been terrorizing, first Uganda, and now, larger areas of the surrounding countries.

According to the guys from KONY2012, one of the reasons why Kony has not been captured, is lack of a lack of means and efforts. Those in turn, can only be possible if the public opinion pushes policy makers to allocate enough resources in order to smoke out an indicted mass murderer.

Thus, was the approach from KONY2012: "Make Kony Famous". And so came this video about. It has many stories, within the story. The story of the love of a father for his son, the impression an ex-child soldier and abducted Ugandan child, had on a film maker. How a mass movement can start with a single idea, loads of creativity. How one person can make a difference. And about the awesome power of social media.

This movie is the current Internet hit with over 52 million views, and counting.

Watch the movie, and sign the petition.

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Monsanto Go Away

As part of the Occupy Maui movement, The Human Revolution has a clear message for Monsanto.

More on Monsanto on The Road.

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