October 2008

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The Demand for the Export of Agrofuels Threatens Livelihoods in Southern Africa

Picture: subcomandanta Michelle Pressend - More than 80 percent of the population is still dependent on biomass for energy in the Southern African region, particularly, wood, cow dung and coal. It is mainly women and children in rural areas that bear the brunt of the lack of access to modern, safe and affordable energy. They are the ones that collect wood and search for coal in and around operating and abandoned mines.  As a consequence of no access to modern, safe, clean and affordable energy -- such as electricity -- many...

Amartya Sen on the Global Arms Trade

The reality of unequal economic and political power is a serious one, argues Armatya Sen. Rich nations of this world make the most money out of both legal and illegal arms sales. More than 85% of armaments in the world are sold by G7 countries. More than 80% of these arms are sold by five permanent members of the UN security council. More than half of the armaments sold by rich countries go to the developing world.

Is the Internet an Effective Forum for Public Debate?

Much has been said about the development of the Internet as an organic platform that has increased public debate. However, Alexander Cockburn argues that the Internet is not a public space. It is private commercial space, which means that any website can be pulled down by a corporate or government decision, at any time. A lot of the stuff about the web is hype. But the core thing, if you are talking about politics and power, is that it's resolutely private, contends Cockburn.

A Family Feud Unfolding

Picture: www.csmonitor.com John Reynolds - Is it not ironic that we may soon have to call on Thabo Mbeki to be the 'mediator' in the political fall-out between the ANC and the break-away faction led by Lekota and Shilowa? Of course, we should be concerned by the nastiness of the fall-out, but we shouldn't be surprised. Like in all families – which very often political parties become – arguments and break-ups tend to take a more vicious form precisely because they are more personal. It's not strangers fighting, where there...

South Africa Must Address Social Justice

Picture: www.uwyo.edu Marlese von Broembsen and Dennis Davis - Early in its new democracy, South Africa successfully rose to the challenge of ensuring political justice. It developed a progressive and ground-breaking constitution enshrining rights for all of its citizens.  Much attention, debate and litigation has taken place around civil and political rights, and these have been further interpreted and secured. However, the expectations of many of the country’s poor and marginalised for a better life have been largely unmet, and the...

Ida Tarbell's Warning: The Foul Ethos of Corporate Culture

Picture: www.explorehistory.com Saliem Fakir - Ida Tarbell is long forgotten and very few know of her. Tarbell left us with a seminal work -- a piece of investigative journalism that led to the publication of the first expose of the doings of the Standard Oil Company. She carved a new style of investigative journalism in which personal ethics played a big role. Tarbell was also a feminist and undertook some insightful appraisals of the working of corporations and the business world. Tarbell was one of the few brave investigative...