The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.

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By Dipti Bhatnagar and Susann Scherbarth
“Poor and rural communities are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. It is them – who did the least to create this problem – who are suffering the most from it”. Photo credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
“Poor and rural communities are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. It is them – who did the least to create this problem – who are suffering the most from it”. Photo credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka

Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice & Energy Co-coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, and Susann Scherbarth, Climate Justice & Energy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, argue that the commitments made by the world's governments so far are well below what science and climate justice principles tell us is urgently needed to avoid hitting climate tipping points.

“Poor and rural communities are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. It is them – who did the least to create this problem – who are suffering the most from it”. Photo credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka

BRUSSELS/MAPUTO, Apr 1 2015 (IPS) - World governments expect to agree to a new global treaty to combat climate change in Paris in December. As the catastrophic impacts of climate change become more evident, so too escalates the urgency to act.

Mar. 31 should have marked a major milestone on the road to Paris, yet only a handful of countries acted on it. Unfortunately, the few plans that were announced before that date show that our leaders lack the ambition to do what it takes to tackle the climate crisis.

National plans for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will most likely form the basis of the Paris agreement. These plans – known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – are meant to indicate a government’s self-stated commitment to solve the global climate crisis through domestic emission reductions as well as through support for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

“People on the frontline of climate impacts are burning while governments fiddle. People are paying and will pay for the devastation of climate change with their lives, livelihoods, wellbeing, communities and culture”

This architecture will result in an agreement that is weaker than each country being legally mandated to reduce emissions based on their fair share, determined through science and equity.

Yet, even with this architecture, the idea was that national governments would declare these plans by the end of March so that they could then be scrutinised.

Only six pledges had been received by the United Nations by the deadline – from the European Union, the United States, Norway, Mexico, Russia and Switzerland. These nations, with the notable exception of Mexico, are among the worst historical carbon emitters, yet these pledges do not reflect that immense historical responsibility and do not show any real willingness to address the scale of the climate crisis.

The commitments are well below what science and climate justice principles tell us is urgently needed to avoid hitting climate tipping points. The European Union announced target to cut emissions by ”at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030” is merely re-hashed from last year’s announcement.

The United States has cobbled together a plan for a meagre reduction of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025. If these insignificant pledges are an indication of what is to come, we are on track to a world which will be 4-6°C warmer on average. To put this into context, the climate impacts we are facing today are the consequence of a planet which is only 0.8°C warmer than it was.

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March 31,2015 2:46 AM
In this column, Joaquín Roy, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the European Union Centre at the University of Miami, looks at the geopolitical context within which the normalisation of relations between the European Union and Cuba is likely to place following the recent visit to Cuba of the Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, and the scheduled visit of French President François Hollande in May.
March 30,2015 8:13 PM
The deadly five-year-old Syrian military conflict, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 mostly civilians, including women, children and aid workers, has not spared the United Nations either. The world body has been mourning the loss of 17 of its staffers, with an additional 30 missing, probably held in detention either by the Syrian […]
March 30,2015 3:04 PM
It calls itself the ‘world’s largest democracy’ but the 380 million working-aged women in India might disagree with that assessment. Recent research shows that only 125 million women of a working age are currently employed, with the number of women in the workforce declining steadily since 2004. Experts say these figures should serve as a […]
March 30,2015 11:23 AM
Joni Seager is a Professor at Bentley University, Deepa Joshi is an Assistant Professor at Wageningen University and Rebecca Pearl-Martinez is a Research Fellow at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.
March 30,2015 11:19 AM
The U.N. investigation into Israel’s devastating military campaign against Gaza, from July to August 2014, has been delayed until June and in the interim Israel and the Palestinians are waging a media war to win the moral narrative as to why so many Palestinian civilians were killed during the bloody conflict. The postponement of the […]
March 30,2015 4:34 AM
In this column, Yilmaz Akyüz, chief economist at the South Centre in Geneva, looks at the role of international debt workout mechanisms in debt restructuring initiatives and argues, inter alia, that while the role of the IMF in crisis management and resolution is incontrovertible, it cannot be placed at the centre of these debt workout mechanisms because its members represent both debtors and creditors.
March 29,2015 4:27 AM
As Singapore mourns the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, the late prime minister’s vision of a dynamic and vibrant state is being reflected in a major arts festival in France. ‘Singapour en France – le festival’ was launched Mar. 26 in Paris, against the backdrop of a massive out-pouring of grief in Lee’s homeland, following […]
March 28,2015 7:41 AM
U.N. anniversaries are occasions for stocktaking – not all of it positive. But there is a lot of good that the U.N. has done and is doing and there are many good, dedicated people working silently but effectively within the U.N. system where I have also worked for a part of my long diplomatic career. […]
March 28,2015 4:46 AM
Tatenda Chivata, a 16-year old from Zimbabwe’s Mutoko rural district, was suspended from school for an entire three-month academic term after he was found with a used condom stashed in his schoolbag. Regerai Chigodora, a 34-year-old prisoner at a jail in Harare, had his 36-year sentence stretched to 45 years after he was caught with […]
By Ivet Gonzalez
Two women hugging at a Day Against Homophobia in Havana organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS
Two women hugging at a Day Against Homophobia in Havana organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Two women hugging at a Day Against Homophobia in Havana organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

HAVANA, Apr 1 2015 (IPS) - In addition to other forms of discrimination, lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba face unequal treatment from public health services. Their specific sexual and reproductive health needs are ignored, and they are invisible in prevention and treatment campaigns for women.

Many lesbian and bisexual women are afraid of gynaecological instruments and procedures which they experience as particularly distasteful given their sexual orientation. Many are unaware of their risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI) and postpone attending gynaecology appointments in order to avoid questions about their love life, activists and health experts told IPS.

Dayanis Tamayo, a 36-year-old education specialist who lives in Santiago de Cuba, 862 kilometres from Havana, feels that health professionals are judgmental when they discover that her partner is a woman. They make lesbophobic comments and give her disapproving looks.

“Sometimes I get by unnoticed because I don’t fit the stereotype of a butch lesbian, but otherwise I always feel judged,” said Tamayo, who is engaged in research at Universidad de Oriente.

Recent studies back up Tamayo’s statement, pointing to prejudice against lesbian and bisexual women among the country’s health personnel, and ignorance about their particular sexual health needs.

Cuban psychiatrist Ada Alfonso presented a report on “Salud, malestares y derechos sexuales de las lesbianas” (Lesbians’ sexual health, illnesses and rights) at the 2014 Cuban Day Against Homophobia. She said that when they go to see the doctor, these women are asked more about their sexual experiences than about their reason for seeking treatment.

“If we look at women’s health through the lenses of inequality, the gap between lesbians and heterosexuals in regard to health services has a lesbophobic subtext hidden behind the discourse on ‘social needs’,” said Alfonso, an expert with the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX).

In her view, social pressure on women who are not heterosexual, amounting to homophobia, causes various forms of psychological and sexual malaise.

Alfonso interviewed women in several of the island’s provinces. She found that ethical deficiencies in the system are leading women to postpone clinical tests until they can see a doctor who has been recommended, or a health professional sharing their own sexual orientation.

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By Fernando Cardim de Carvalho
Fernando Cardim de Carvalho
Fernando Cardim de Carvalho

In this column, Fernando Cardim de Carvalho, economist and professor at the Federal University of Río de Janeiro, looks at the political and economic context within which newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff is operating and argues that Brazil is living through a very dangerous period, with neither the government nor the parliamentary opposition led by leaders that the population trusts.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 1 2015 (IPS) - Even moderately well-informed analysts knew that the Brazilian economy was in dire straits as President Dilma Rousseff initiated her second term in office in January.

Unlike her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), Rousseff had not the same luck with the situation of the international economy. But also, unlike Lula, Rousseff showed herself a poor saleswoman for Brazilian goods and an even poorer manager of domestic economic policy.

Fernando Cardim de Carvalho

There was a strong suspicion that economic policy, especially in the last two years of her first term, had been conducted in ad hoc ways and that serious adjustments would be needed to steer the economy back to working condition anyway. Still, the situation seemed to be even worse than most analysts feared.

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By Thalif Deen
More than 12 million people inside Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Credit: European Commission DG ECHO/CC-BY-ND-2.0
More than 12 million people inside Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Credit: European Commission DG ECHO/CC-BY-ND-2.0

More than 12 million people inside Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Credit: European Commission DG ECHO/CC-BY-ND-2.0

KUWAIT CITY, Mar 31 2015 (IPS) - When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stood before 78 potential donors at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait Tuesday, his appeal for funds had an ominous ring to it: the Syrian people, he remarked, “are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”

Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation, he said.

And the devastated country, now in its fifth turbulent year of a seemingly never-ending civil war, has lost nearly four decades of human development.

Nearly half the world’s top donors didn’t give their fair share of aid to the Syrian humanitarian effort in 2014 based on the size of their economies. --Oxfam
A relentless, ruthless war is destroying Syria, the secretary-general continued. “The violence has left so many Syrians without homes, without schools, without hospitals, and without hope,” Ban added.

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By Josh Butler

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 31 2015 (IPS) - The lead author of a United Nations water report has spoken out about media depictions of his findings, denying the report lays out a “doom and gloom” scenario.

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015, released on Mar. 20 in conjunction with World Water Day, lays out a number of troubling findings.

The report predicts a world water shortage of 40 percent by 2050, largely due to a forecasted 55-percent rise in water demand, spurred by increased industrial demands.

It is estimated 20 percent of the world’s aquifers are over-exploited, and that shortages may lead to increased local conflicts over access to water. Water problems may also mean increased inequality and barriers to sustainable development.

Despite the grim outlook, the report’s lead author, Richard Connor, laid out a different picture at the U.N. headquarters in New York Monday.

“Most of the media attention [on the report] has focused on one message, a bit of a doom and gloom message, that there is a looming global water crisis,” Connor told a U.N. press briefing.

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By Lisa Vives

NEW YORK, Mar 31 2015 (IPS) - Showing a “commendable determination to register their vote and choose their leaders,” Nigerians by the hundreds of thousands lined up at polling stations across the country to select the next president and National Assembly of their country, U.S. and British witnesses to the hotly-contested presidential polls observed.

In a joint statement by the British Foreign Secretary and the U.S. Secretary of State, the observer governments “welcomed the largely peaceful vote on March 28.”

Concerns over the possibilities of fraud were quietly swept away when the national election commission called the winner of the country’s presidential poll as Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari edged out his rival by around two million votes. A phone call from the defeated president, Goodluck Jonathan, reached Buhari’s headquarters about five minutes before five with congratulations on the victory.

After 35 of the 36 states’ vote totals were tallied, Buhari appeared to have captured 14.9 million votes compared to Jonathan’s 12.8 million.

The massive balloting and collection was marred by missteps as the new voter cards failed, sensitive materials were snatched, election officials were held captive, and protestors were tear-gassed.

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By Sean Buchanan
Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0
Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0

ROME, Mar 31 2015 (IPS) - Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy reversed a two-year dip last year, brushing aside the challenge from sharply lower oil prices and registering a 17 percent leap over the previous year to stand at 270 billion dollars.

These investments helped see an additional 103Gw of generating capacity – roughly that of all U.S. nuclear plants combined –around the world, making 2014 the best year ever for newly-installed capacity, according to the 9th annual “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments” report from the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) released Mar. 31.

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