September 2009

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Manuel's 'Vision 2025': Is Civil Society Up to the Challenge?

Picture: Sagarbardon Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen - Often civil society activism seems like a mixture of dissatisfaction and hope without much impact on the real world. Activists are usually conscious of the formidable odds against “change” because of the all encompassing and rarely adequately defined structures of power. Underlying this idealism is the idea that planting the seeds for alternatives today will flower into something new at some undefined point in the future. In other words, in spite of all the work, the likely...

What We Don't Know Can 'Kill' Us: Without Access to Information There Can Be No Real Democracy

Picture: Himmelskratzer Dale T. McKinley - A large part of the political, social and economic edifice of the apartheid system in South Africa was built on, and sustained by, the control of information and enforced secrecy.  This was at the heart of the anti-democratic character of the apartheid system. It was the glue that held together the institutionalised violation of the basic human rights of South Africa’s majority. The struggle against apartheid was fundamentally, a struggle for the democratic reclamation of those...

The Right to Water in South Africa: Unlimited for the Rich, Prepaid Meters for the Poor

On the 2nd & 3rd of September 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa heard the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging prepaid water meters and insufficient free basic water.  The Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution guarantees the right of access to sufficient water. However, poor communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water and do not receive the same water service as the richer suburbs. This six year legal...

The Racial Wealth Divide: America's Story

Meizhu Lui talks at a seminar (in 2006, but still extremely relevant today) about issues covered in a book she co-authored with four others, The Colour of Wealth, which examines the racial wealth divide in contemporary America. Lui is currently director of the "Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative" at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.  In the presentation featured in this post, Lui traces the historical antecedents of the racial...

The War on Drugs: Is It Time to Change?

Picture: Splifr Glenn Ashton - South Africa has one of the highest rates of drug abuse in the world. The most commonly abused drugs are alcohol and dagga (cannabis). The abuse of chemical stimulants such as tik (methamphetamine) has recently soared. Other synthesised drugs like cocaine, heroin and mandrax remain deeply problematic, both to users and society. The drug scourge is an historical international problem linked to globally connected and well resourced criminal enterprises. Russian, Italian, Columbian, Chinese,...

Japanese Voters Oust Conservative Party, PM-Elect Hatoyama Critical of US 'Market Fundamentalism'

Picture: Nofrills Democracy Now - Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous talk to Steven Clemons about the recent elections in Japan where voters have ousted the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, after fifty-five years of nearly uninterrupted governance. In elections on Sunday, the populist Democratic Party of Japan captured a record 308 of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament. Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama, who is expected to become Japan’s new prime minister, has...