The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
Two marchers in Taiwan`s 11th annual LGBT Pride March in Taipei City Oct. 26 affirm that "I am proud to be gay; I'm not a sex refugee!" Credit: Dennis Engbarth/IPS
- To teenagers, running away can seem like the easiest answer to problems at home, but for Alex* it was his only option when his family refused to accept that he identified himself as a transgender male.
Although physically born a female, Alex always knew that he was a boy, but he grew up in an extremely homophobic and transphobic environment in Malaysia.
âOne of my first memories was of my grandmother when she sort of chastised me for peeing standing up. She kept beating me and saying ‘Be like a girl, be like a girl’,â Alex told IPS.
Alex and people in Asia who identify as lesbian, gaym, bisexual, or transsexual (LGBT) often find themselves victims of violence from family members, who in fact are often the main perpetrators, according to a recent report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
The report interviewed people from Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Philippines over three years.
The high level of violence from family members was one of seven key findings and had the greatest impact on the victims. This violence was not only physical, but also emotional and sexual.
At 17, when Alexâs parents found out he had a girlfriend, they restricted his movements and took to physical abuse.
âThey started controlling my movements, and Internet and phone usage. I could not go anywhere without somebody knowing where I was going and it was very saddening,â the 27-year-old student said.
âWhen my dad found out about my new passport, he confronted me and slapped me. He said it was his house and his rules. If I could not follow them then I should leave, and I did because I could not take it anymore.â
The Israeli offensive in Gaza has killed 1,050 people, mostly civilians, as of Jul. 26, 2014. Credit: Kanya DâAlmeida/IPS
- Thousands of New Yorkers tookÂ to the streets in multiple protests this past week against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has left at least 1,049 Palestinians dead and over 6,000 injured since Jul. 8.
Among demonstrators’ many demands was that the U.S. government end its massive flow of aid and arms to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), one of the worldâs most powerful militaries.
The Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation estimates that the United States has shelled out over 100 billion dollarsâ worth of military and economic aid since 1949.
Protests on Thursday, Jul. 24 drew over a thousand people, holding signs proclaiming U.S. complicity in the war on Gaza. Credit: Kanya D’Almeida/IPS
In 2007, the U.S. government pledged to provide 30 billion dollars worth of weapons to Israel in the decade 2009-2018. This year, according to the FY2015 budget submitted to Congress, the Barack Obama administration set aside three billion dollars for military aid.
The protests also had particular significance for New York City, whose former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced in 2011 his support for a 100-million-dollar partnership between Cornell University and Israelâs Institute of Technology (the Technion) that would allow the construction of a state-of-the-art new complex on Roosevelt Island.
Thousands of U.S. citizens have called on the government to end military aid to Israel. Credit: Kanya D’Almeida/IPS
An alliance known as New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT) says the Technion is âcomplicit in Israeliâs violation of international law and the rights of Palestiniansâ, namely its mandate to develop and design weapons and technologies that are used to enforce the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza.
- A group of developing countries brought a tectonic shift at the World Trade Organization on Friday by turning the tables against the industrialised countries, when they offered a positive trade agenda to expeditiously arrive at a permanent solution for food security and other development issues, before adopting the protocol of amendment of the contested Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and India inflicted a huge blow on the dominant actors in global trade by refusing to join consensus on the protocol required for full implementation of the TFA that is being pushed through the WTO with carrots and sticks.
âThis is unimaginable, that New Delhi would decide the fate of decisions at the WTO, which has been a preserve of the United States and the European Union for the last 50 years,â said a trade envoy from a Western country.
Only seven months ago, the industrialised countries were triumphant at the WTOâs ninth ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, after having succeeded in clinching the TFA. At one go, that agreement would harmonise customs procedures in the developing worldÂ on a par with the industrialised countries. It would offer enhanced market access for companies in the rich and leading developing countries such as China, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
According to former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, the TFA would cut tariffs in developing countries by 10 percent
The developing and poor countries, in return, were offered half-baked outcomes in the Bali package on agriculture and development, includingÂ an interim mechanism for public stockholding for food security with a promise of a permanent solution in four years, an agreement on general services in agriculture, transparency-related improvements in what are called tariff rate quota administration provisions, and most trade-distorting farm export subsidies and export credits.
The poorest countries, as part of the âdevelopmentâ dossier, secured a set of best endeavour promises concerning preferential rules of origin for exporting to industrialised countries, preferential treatment to services and services suppliers of least developed countries, duty-free and quota-free market access for least-developed countries, and a final monitoring mechanism for special and differential treatment flexibilities.
The TFA has witnessed perceptible progress since the Bali meeting, while other issues raised by developing and poor countries have taken a back seat at the WTO.Â The mismatch, in terms of progress, between the TFA on one side, and lack of credible movement in agriculture and development on the other, especially in arriving at a permanent solution for public stockholding programmes, has come into the open at various meeting in Africa and elsewhere.
“Even seven months after Bali, we do not have the required confidence and trust that there will be constructive engagement on issues that impact the livelihood of a very significant part of the global population,â Indian Ambassador Anjali Prasadtold WTOâs General Council, which is the organisationâs highest decision-making body, during the ministerial meetings, on Friday.
Prasad said âthe Trade Facilitation Agreement must be implemented on as part of a single undertaking including the permanent solution on food security.â Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela took the same stand as India that all issues in the Bali package have to be implemented on the same and equal footing.
Fish cages on the Nile River. Experts are calling for a more holistic approach to aquaculture. Credit: Cam Mcgrath/IPS
- Less than four percent of Egyptâs land mass is suitable for agriculture, and most of it confined to the densely populated Nile River Valley and Delta. With the nationâs population of 85 million expected to double by 2050, government officials are grappling with ways of ensuring food security and raising nutritional standards.
âWith the drive toward increasing food production and efficiency, Egypt is going to have to become smarter in how it uses water and land for food production,â says aquaculture expert Malcolm Beveridge. âIt would make sense to bring aquaculture together with agriculture in order to increase food production per unit of land and water.â
One possibility under study is to adopt integrated aquaculture, a holistic approach to food production in which the wastes of one commercially cultured species are recycled as food or fertiliser for another. Projects typically co-culture several aquatic species, but the synergistic approach also encourages the broader integration of fish production, livestock rearing and agriculture.
âAn integrated approach would seem the logical next step for Egyptâs aquaculture industry in that it can significantly reduce water requirements while increasing fish farmersâ revenues,â Beveridge told IPS.
- The official outlook for agriculture up to 2023 carries optimistic forecasts for agricultural productivity and commodity prices but it is unlikely that the benefits will be shared by the worldâs poorest.
The mix of good and bad news comes in the 2014-2023 Agricultural Outlook, issued jointly by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this month.
The OECD/FAO Agricultural Outlook examines trends regarding prices, dietary habits and other influencing factors such as production and demand, in addition to assessing the major policy challenges facing the sector.
This yearâs Agricultural Outlook, which is the 20th of its kind, “looks at the prospects for developing countries under the assumption that average weather patterns and current policies persist”, according to Holger Matthey, an economist at the Trade and Markets Division of FAO and team leader for the Agricultural Outlook.
“It gives an overview of the global market within the next 10 years, assuming that there are no disturbancesâ, Matthey told IPS
Crop prices are expected to stabilise significantly below recent peaks, although they will likely remain above pre-2008 levels, while meat and dairy prices will have reached record highs in 2013/14.
Equatoguinean President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has sidestepped accusations of human rights violations and won his country membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). Credit: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea/CC-BY-ND-2.0
- Evidently, oil talked louder. By unanimous resolution, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) admitted Equatorial Guinea as a full member, in spite of the CPLPâs ban on dictatorial regimes and the death penalty.
At the two-day summit of heads of state and government that concluded on Wednesday Jul. 23 in Dili, the capital of East Timor, Portugal was the last nation to hold out against the inclusion of the new entrant. Portuguese prime minister, conservative Pedro Passos Coelho, finally yielded to pressure from Brazil and Angola, the countries most interested in sharing in the benefits of Equatorial Guineaâs oil wealth.
Messages of sympathy adorn a street in Melbourne. Credit: Diana G Mendoza/IPS
- The 20th International AIDS Conference concluded today as the first in its history that remembered not just the 39 million people worldwide who have died of AIDS but also those who lost their lives in the crashed MH17 flight carrying six of its delegates, one of whom was the past president of the International AIDS Society (IAS).
The double memorial, however, did not hamper 12,000 scientists, researchers, advocates, lobbyists, and activists from 200 countries, including 800 journalists, from scrutinising a few advances and disturbing setbacks in HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention, treatment to prolong and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV, and compassion and care to those infected and people close to them.