If you want to know why this is such a big deal, and a big need, this post featuring seven graphic illustrations from Todd Moss and Madeleine Gleave at the Center for Global Development offers an excellent overview.
The authors note that 600 million Africans today live without power, seriously undermining their lives on all sorts of fronts – health, economic opportunity, safety and efficiency. But the solution won’t just be about bringing more power to the poor; Moss and Gleave make it clear rich countries need to make some changes as well.
Here’s one of the graphics from the post by Moss and Gleave:
Read the entire (short) post at CGD and take a look at the other six illustrations. A great and easy-to-digest overview of the global energy landscape.
A South Sudanese government soldier inspects the body of a dead woman lying the street in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan.
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, may be unraveling and one of the few journalists actually on the ground there says the media’s characterization of the conflict – usually done remotely, by telephone – is bit one-sided, if not off-target completely.
Robert Young Pelton
Machot Lat Thiep
“We’ve spent the last few days with Riek Machar and the so-called rebel forces,” journalist and author Robert Young Pelton said to Humanosphere by telephone today.
As we reported in late January, Pelton and a Seattle man, a Costco supervisor and former Sudan Lost Boy named Machot Thiep, are in South Sudan partly to truth-check the standard narrative. “What we’re seeing and learning is very contradictory to the official line.” Continue reading →
A survivor of a suspected Anti-Balaka grenade attack waits to go to hospital with the help of MISCA.
Laurence Geai/NurPhoto/Sipa USA
Extreme violence persists on a daily basis across the Central African Republic.
The inability to protect civilians affected by targeted violence is evidence that the international community is failing the Central African Republic, said humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today.
MSF says it has treated more than 3,600 people for injuries caused by gunshot, grenade, machete and more, since December 5.What little that is being done falls well below acceptable humanitarian standards.
When regular violence returned the country that has been in crisis for nearly a year, in December, people had few options for humanitarian assistance. Medical aid was the only form of assistance many people received for roughly four weeks, claimed Hurum. She described the situation in the Central African Republic as the “roughest mission” in her eight years with MSF.
“There is an exceptional situation going on. I’ve never seen such a high level of violence, in the last few years,” agreed Dr Joanne Liu, President for MSF International.
SOCIALISM! COMMUNISM! THREATENING! OH NO SCARY STUFF! ARGHGH!
We’re all familiar with the fear-mongering that goes on when it comes to socialism, communists, and anyone deemed outside the “mainstream” of American politics. The right-wing is fond of calling President Obama a socialist – even as he pushes for a massive, corporation-friendly free-trade agreement – without explaining why that would be a bad thing. Perhaps we can chalk up most of the hysteria against further-left-than-liberal figures to the Cold War.
But it’s 2014. It’s time to move on.
In Seattle, economics professor Kshama Sawant ran on an openly socialist platform against a longtime capitalist, Democratic incumbent in November. And she won.
Today, we explore with Sawant why her campaign was successful, why socialism seems to be gaining momentum, and her analysis of global poverty – including how her views are informed by her upbringing in India, where she says extreme poverty was rampant right alongside staggering wealth. Why was one person rich, and someone living next door destitute? Like many in the development sector, “I was obsessed with this question,” Sawant says. But it drew her to socialism and politics, not aid.
And no discussion of the humanitarian industry is complete without a mention of the world’s largest philanthropic institution, based here in Seattle: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While Sawant has some strong words for Gates, there’s also some common ground between this socialist and the billionaire on the question of what kind of aid works. Tune in!
The word from the hollowed halls of Congress is that there’s bipartisan agreement on a new five-year Farm Bill that makes some cuts in food stamp payments and farmer subsidies, outraging both special interests in the agriculture industry along with advocates for the American poor.
Almost totally ignored is the fact that the proposed bill also means millions more of the poor overseas will not get American food aid.
Humanosphere has reported extensively (such as here, here and here) on the U.S. government’s uniquely self-serving, incredibly inefficient and arguably immoral approach to delivering food assistance to the poor or those in a disaster overseas. In sum, we are the only nation to require that most of the food we give to the poor and suffering be grown in America and also be shipped and delivered by Americans.
Many humanitarian groups have supported the Obama Administration’s proposal to at least relax those requirements and allow organizations engaged in famine or disaster relief to buy food closer to the crisis area – getting more barley for the buck and also supporting local economies. That push appears to have faded away into oblivion. Shame. Continue reading →
The Oxfam report Working for the Few quoted former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”
Everyone knows the richest today are fabulously wealthy and even Oxfam accepts that some level of inequality is necessary – and good, as a reward for innovation and initiative. But… Continue reading →
Editor’s note: Humanosphere has noted before that there are two Rwandas – one an African success story celebrated by the humanitarian sector for its stunning improvements in health and poverty reduction; the other a nation quietly suffering from oppression, authoritarianism and state-sanctioned violence. The recent murder of a former close colleague of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame supports the concerns raised by the latter camp.
This is a guest post by Judi Rever, a Montreal-based journalist who has reported extensively in Africa and is now working on a book about war crimes in Rwanda.
Rever recently wrote about her research for Foreign Policy Journal and, below for Humanosphere, makes the case for the West to adopt a more realistic – less simplistic and celebratory – view of Rwanda and Paul Kagame’s government.
It was New Year’s Day when the body of a Rwandan dissident was found at a luxury hotel in South Africa.
Patrick Karegeya, a former spy chief for President Paul Kagame, was apparently strangled. The chilling symbolism of his death – a critical voice forever gagged – sent another wave of terror among Rwandans that dare to speak out against a man whose political reach is nothing short of astonishing.
Rwanda’s opposition has cried foul, but skeptics have said it is premature to point to a culprit before South African police complete an investigation. Human Rights Watch cautiously concurred, yet conceded there has a been a pattern of attacks, assassinations and attempted assassinations against Rwandan dissidents abroad that is ‘extremely alarming.’
Only a handful of Western critics are willing to be blunt about the force behind the targeted killings of Rwandan dissidents.
“There is no place that Kagame would not strike. And he does it so bare-faced,” concludes Stephen Smith, a formerly journalist with the French newspapers Le Monde and Liberation, who now teaches at Duke University in North Carolina. Smith appears in the trailer of a new film called the Rwanda Gambit by Andre Vltchek.
“Any Mobutu or Idi Amin Dada looks like an apprentice in comparison,” Smith says of the former dictators of Zaire and Uganda. “Because at least they had sort of red lines they would not cross.”
“You would not try to kill someone once, miss him and try it again going through official embassy people. You would not kill an opposition figure in London, Paris or New York. You would just wait for them at the very minimum to be in Kinshasa,” Smith added.
Karegeya’s murder in Johannesburg has cast a long shadow over the legacy of Kagame — a hitherto poster boy for international development aid and a former rebel leader credited with halting the 1994 genocide by Hutu extremists against the country’s minority Tutsi. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, politicians in Uruguay voted to make the South American nation the first in the world to legalize marijuana – a bold move aimed at regulating the use of pot and disrupting the criminal drug trade.
But they might not have had it not been for a little help from Washington state, in the form of Alison Holcomb, a civil rights attorney in Seattle who led the successful citizen’s initiative here in the (appropriately named) Evergreen state that de-criminalized recreational use of pot.
Here in the U.S., where our policymakers tend to be as bold as lukewarm soup, it is largely the public (fed up with the failed War on Drugs, surveys say) that has been pushing for our political leaders to adopt a more rationale alternative to dealing with drug use.
In Uruguay, it was the politicians pushing the public. President José Mujica had decided that legalizing marijuana would reduce the harm, and the violence, caused by the drug cartels.
“But a poll done in 2012 showed that 64 percent of Uruguayans were opposed to the idea,” said Holcomb, who works for the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. As I noted earlier at this year’s colorful, sickly sweet-smelling August gathering of Seattle Hempfest, Washington state’s legalization of pot continues to have global implications. Continue reading →