August 2008

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The Global Power Elite

The international superclass are people with a hugely disproportionate share of global power - who are these people and how much power do they wield? Their rise to power owes much to the effects of globalisation and the gradual reduction of trade and information barriers throughout the world. Al Jazeera asks: Does the global superclass make our governments and legal systems obsolete?

No Good Guys in Russia-Georgia War

Picture: www.progressive.org Matthew Rothschild - Russia and Georgia must immediately agree to a ceasefire, and Russia must withdraw its troops from Georgia. Both sides must also respect the lives of civilians. That is the bare minimum required by international law. There are no good guys in this conflict. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was reckless to send in the military to subdue the Russian-leaning province of South Ossetia on Friday. And Russia, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, responded...

China, the Olympic Games and Human Rights

The international community seems unwilling to use the opportunity provided by the Beijing Olympic Games to demand greater respect for human rights from China. There are at least 15000 religious and political prisoners in Chinese jails and labour camps, while imprisonments, torture and deaths are on the rise. There are still said to be 130 people in prison since the Tiananmen Square protest 19 years ago.

Is the Call for the Death Penalty Justified?

Picture: prize_for_thought.com Saliem Fakir - One of the enduring images I have of the death penalty, when I think of it, is a sort of revenge - this desire to extinguish another’s life with the hope to cleanse the earth of a lingering rot by an act of violence as reprisal. It may well be one of our primordial cultural traits from the by-gone days when tribal law required that we preserve our honor by taking a life-for-a-life. When we did not have good social skills we relied on the symbolic power of brute force to keep the...

The Solution to Shack Fires is Electrification, Not More Training

Picture: max_thinks_sees Richard Pithouse - Despite all the confident government talk about ‘eradicating slums by 2014’ the fact is that the number of people living in shacks is growing. Recent statistics show that the percentage of the population living in shacks has now increased to 15.4 percent from 12.7 percent in 2002. South Africa is not the first country where the government has simply announced a date by which shacks will be ‘eradicated’. In 1968 the military dictatorship in Brazil declared that shacks...

HIV at the Workplace

A shop steward talks about HIV on the factory floor, highlighting challenges facing poor workers who are unable to afford treatment. She argues that it takes three months for workers to qualify for their sick benefits. Given the high cost of HIV drugs, poor workers continue to die despite the fact that they contribute to the economy.