The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
Potato plants in the backyard of Lina Chingama, 44, from Zimbabwe's Norton town, 40 kilometres west of the capital Harare. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
- Shyline Chipfika, 26, is one of thousands of Zimbabwean women in urban centres who have struck gold by growing potatoes. And a lot of their success has to do with an import ban.
âI used to be a mere housewife, and my life has changed in a big way after I ventured into potato growing,â Chipfika told IPS.
Chipfikaâs husband, faced with joblessness, turned to hawking at a local commuter omnibus terminus in the capital, Harare, after the company he worked for shut down in 2008 owing to the hyperinflation that crippled many sectors of the economy.
Chipfikaâs rags-to-riches story is a very rare one in Zimbabwe, and she boldly declares she will not abandon the potato-growing venture anytime soon.
âI used to stay in a small apartment, but thanks to this venture, I have managed to extend my apartment into a respectable piece of property,â she said.
The potatoes do not require large amounts of land, just ordinary backyards, where the women plant seeds in sacks filled with fertile soil.
âThe potato growing method on urban yards by women here is very simple yet extremely productive, although since time immemorial, urban yards have often been wasted by many who have not seen any value in them,” agricultural extension officer Mike Hunde, based in Zimbabweâs Mashonaland East Province in Marondera, 70 kilometres outside Harare, told IPS.
The officers are engaged by the government to facilitate agricultural research that enhances productivity.
The government promotes potatoes for food security, and as a way of backing local producers like Chingama and many others. In 2013, it banned imports of this staple food, and the crop took off.
The U.S. government is in the final stages of weighing approval for an overhaul of regulations governing the countryâs poultry industry that would see processing speeds increase substantially even while responsibility for oversight would be largely given over to plant employees. The plan, which was originally floated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) two […]
The post U.S. Plans to Speed Poultry Slaughtering, Cut Inspections appeared first on Inter Press Service.
In much of the Arab world, women’s participation in the labour force is the lowest in the world, according to the United Nations, while women in politics is a rare breed both in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one of the few exceptions is Algeria, says Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of U.N. […]
As the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance, U.S. politicians from both parties have been scrambling to take advantage of the crisis. Republicans in Congress have slammed President Barack Obama for his âtrembling inaction.â Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has revived the hawkish approach of her pre-secretary of state years by comparing Russian leader Vladimir Putinâs […]
Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre, spotlights the economic crisis that emerging economies find themselves in.
The post New Economic Crisis Engulfing Developing Countries appeared first on Inter Press Service.
Farming, tourism, poor fishing practices along with misdirected policies are muddying the famous backwaters of Kerala, one of Indiaâs best known holiday destinations. Nowhere is this misuse more visible than in and around the 95-km-long Vembanad Lake. Bearing the brunt are small fishing communities which are caught between dwindling fish catch, worsening water quality and […]
Elena Smolenskaya doesnât hesitate a second when asked what she thinks about the Russian military intervention in Crimea. The 23-year-old Moscow student is convinced that President Vladimir Putin had no choice but to order troops into the country. âThe military action was right to protect Russian people in Crimea. This is why the majority of […]
Near the close of the harvest , local people in the Cuban municipality of San Juan y MartÃnez, which boasts the finest tobacco plantations in the world, are seeing their hopes of a plentiful season dashed by unexpected winter rains. âItâs been a bad year, a rebellious one as we call it. There was a […]
When the crisis in Ukraine moved into the august chambers of the Security Council last week, it was virtually dead on arrival. After two meetings last Saturday and Monday, the Council remained politically deadlocked, unable or unwilling either to adopt a resolution or come up with the lowest common denominator: a presidential statement with the […]
For years Joba Hemron, 50, prayed that her cough would go away. She was diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) in 2011. She was put on a Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS), provided free at a public health clinic in Bongaigaon district in Assam. But soon she began missing too many doses. âMy sons work in the […]
The Watar band at a performance in Gaza. Credit: Khaled Alashqar/IPS.
- Like almost everyone else in Gaza, these six are angry about the Israeli-imposed blockade and the resulting misery. Except, that they are expressing their anger through music âwithout the music itself sounding angry.
Thereâs much to say â or sing if you prefer to say it that way. More than a million-and-a-half people in Gaza are living under a tight blockade. Poverty and widespread despair have radically increased as a result.
Unemployment is reaching high levels particularly among graduate students. Dreams of a better and secure future lie shattered in the impoverished territory.
In these difficult circumstances, these six have chosen to sing through their Watar Band; Watar means âtuneâ in Arabic. The musical six mostly use Western instruments, and sing in Arabic, English and French.
Following the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2009 which led to the death of more than 1,400 people and massive destruction, Ala Shoublak, founder and leading member of the band, gathered musician friends to set up the band.
âEverything was destroyed, including schools, roads and buildings, and the only theatre in Gaza that belongs to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was bombed. We just decided to take our music instruments and sit on top of the destroyed theatre and sing for peace and freedom despite the ugly smell of death all around.â
After that brave start five years back, the band developed further and became more structured. They bought new instruments and began to do public shows.
The group has gradually become well known and attracts many fans, especially among school and university students in Gaza Strip. This is not surprising, because they sing the hopes and aspirations of youth for a better life, and for a peaceful future free of conflict and siege.
The band has two clear objectives, Ala Shoublak tells IPS: âTo resist first the occupation and the blockade through music which delivers messages of peace and freedom, and second, to communicate the hopes of the youth amidst suffering in Gaza to the outside world. Thatâs why we use English and French in our songs as well.â
Many women in Pakistan qualify to become doctors, and then do not practice. Credit: Fahim Siddiqi/IPS.
- On one of her many visits to Pakistan recently, Sarah Peck, director of the US-Pakistan Womenâs Council, spent some time talking to young women medical students in Pakistan. She was struck by their passion and commitment — and by the hurdles they face.
Left to right, medical student Saima Firdous, Dr Jamila Khalil, Sarah Peck, Dr Khalil Khatri Credit: Beena Sarwar
The US-Pakistan Womenâs Council is working with expatriate Pakistani doctors to find ways to encourage women qualifying as doctors in Pakistan to practice medicine.
Women outnumber male students in medical colleges across Pakistan, forming up to 85 percent of the student body in private universities and 65 percent in the public sector.
- Advocacy and accountability groups are urging the U.S. Congress to enact new mechanisms that would allow it to hold multinational corporations accountable for rights infringements abroad.
At a congressional briefingÂ on Thursday, legal experts and advocates from Amnesty International, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and Earthrights International proposed measures Congress could take to ameliorate corporate abuses abroad.
âInternational law itself requires a country to provide a remedy to individuals who are harmed by citizens,â ICARâs Gwynne Skinner, an associate professor of law at Willamette University College of Law, told IPS.
âSo weâre failing if weâre not providing any remedies to victims who are hurt by our citizens and of course corporations are citizens now, right?â (Skinner was referring to a 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to make unlimited political donations on the grounds that they are eligible for the same constitutional rights as individuals.)
Earthrights International and other legal advocacy groups have partnered to create a report card indexing the track record of each U.S. lawmaker on corporate accountability. Marco Simons, Earthrights Internationalâs legal director, noted Congressâs lacklustre record on the issue.
âUnfortunately, so far the results have not been very pretty,â Simons said. âThe average score in the Senate was 26.6 percent and 44.2 percent in the House. Twelve representatives and 45 senators received a score of zero.â
Representatives from Amnesty International called for increased transparency in corporate lobbying efforts.
âWe are looking at a proposal to deftly deal with the corporate-government relationship,â said Seema Joshi, Amnesty Internationalâs head of business and human rights. âWe understand that corporate lobbying is necessary, but at the same time there should be more transparency in that process in order to ensure justice.â
In particular, advocates are calling for reforms to the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a unique law that allows foreign nationals to sue human rights abusers in U.S. courts. Last year, the Supreme Court significantly limited the scope of the statute against multinational corporations in a case known as Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.
Pro-government âcolectivosâ on motorbikes follow behind National Police in central Caracas. Credit: Courtesy of an anonymous Twitter user
- Seven of the 20 people killed in the street protests that have shaken Venezuela since the second week of February were shot in the head, a testimony to the role being played by firearms in the political struggle in this oil-rich country.
The armed forces and the police, and a few thousand licensed civilians, carry legal firearms, but there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of illegal weapons, according to Amnesty International.
- When Phumzile Khoza* came to the central Johannesburg antenatal clinic on a chilly day in August 2013, she was feeling on edge. Not about the medical procedures â she already had two children â but about talking to the nurse.
One in four South African women experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy. Credit: Alisa Hatfield
This was her third pregnancy living with HIV, but the first with a new partner from whom she had been hiding her status for the past two years.
Forest women in Anantagiri forest in the south-east of India check out their solar dryer. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS.
- Chintapakka Jambulamma, 34, looks admiringly at a solar dryer. Itâs the prized possession of the Advitalli Tribal Womenâs Co-operative Society- a collective of women entrepreneurs that she leads.
She opens up a drawer in the dryer, scoops out a handful of the medicinal plant Kalmegh and exclaims, âLook, itâs drying so fast.â