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Archive for the tag “Al Jazeera”

Give it your all Brazil

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In the previous post, ‘Jumping over the Bandwagon, I had mentioned that it is really crucial that the people of Brazil rose up now because the world is watching the country in anticipation of the World Cup.  Besides hosting the World Cup there are several reasons why we should be watching Brazil: it is the largest economy in Latin America, it takes the seventh position when it’s economy is compared to the rest of the world and it has arguably the best international soccer team in the world. If you look at the growth of Brazil in the recent years you will see that it has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world, according to Trading Economics, this is due to it’s export potential. The country benefits from its diversity in agriculture as well as manufacturing production. Not to forget the country has an enormous supply of natural resources, all these factors helps the country lure in foreign investors. But all this growth is worth nothing if the country is plagued by a weak infrastructure, a failing education system, corruption, greed, and inequality.

940783-130622-brazil-protestsThe Brazilian people know that the country is growing and changing; they currently have in office the first female president, Dilma Rousseff leading the country.  So it is only natural that the people want their livelihood to grow with the country; this is one of the reasons why they are protesting.

The World Cup is going to attract the attention of the public and potential investors, which means growth for Brazil. But who is going to benefit from the growth? According to the article, ‘Grumbling in the Terraces,’ found at The Economist, one of the biggest demands made by the Brazilian people, is that schools, hospitals, and other public service facilities, reach the same building standards that stadiums currently in Brazil are reaching.

Two months back the country hosted the Confederations Cup, during that time, FIFA, took over management of the stadiums. Bringing in money, volunteers and order, many would argue that this was a good thing. I would agree as well but the problem is that it does not last, when the show is over no one cares.  If you want to see how fast things change, here is a quotation from the same article mentioned above, found at The Economist:

The 52,825 people who watched Flamengo play Coritiba on July 6th were treated rather differently to the elites who paid top prices to attend the inaugural Confederations Cup match three weeks earlier. Gone were the neat concession stands, the hundreds of volunteers and the top-class facilities for media. Instead, fans and press had the kind of experience that is depressingly familiar at Brazil’s football grounds.

The internet didn’t work, the radio reporters were forced to narrate the game from the stands, and fans were tossed drinks from a big fridge rather than served from behind counters. Even getting to the stadium was difficult: whereas busy avenues were closed to traffic during the Confederations Cup to improve access to the venue, fans now have to run a gauntlet of cars in order to reach the turnstiles. The promised tramlines have yet to materialise.

Complaints are not aimed at FIFA, which during the Confederations Cup provided a level of service to match the ticket prices. Rather, it is aimed at the Brazilian stadium managers who seem to be incapable of providing the same treatment.

The quotation above shines light on one of the problems that surrounds competitions like the World Cup or the Olympics. These games/competitions bring money and build stadiums but they also have a dark side that negatively affects the poor people in the hosting country.

Housing-rights-workshop-300x275A Geneva-based advocate group, Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), publicized in 2007 that it had an on-going three year study that covered seven past and at that time future events hosted by the Olympics. These events took place Beijing, Atlanta, Seoul, Sydney, Athens, London, and Barcelona; the topics covered included homelessness, crime, and cost of housing.

The study included very credible information which would be crucial in bringing justice to events like these:

For the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, 720,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes and homeless people were rounded up and detained in facilities outside the city, the report said. Development and urbanization led to unaffordable housing.

Leading up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, more than 400 families were displaced to make room for the Olympic Village, 20 families were evicted from the site of the Olympic stadium and 200 other families were displaced for the construction of ring roads. Housing prices and rents increased 139 and 149 percent respectively during the six-year period before the games and the lack of affordable housing forced low-income earners out of the city.

For the 1996 Atlanta Games, some 30,000 poor residents were displaced due to gentrification. About 2,000 public housing units were demolished.

Legislation was introduced to criminalize homelessness, the report said.Legislative measures also were introduced ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics to simplify the expropriation of private property. Hundreds of Roma were evicted from their settlements.

 Because the main sporting complex for the 2000 Sydney Games was built on surplus government wasteland, no one was directly evicted or displaced for those games. But the city’s gentrification caused housing prices to more than double between 1996 and 2003. Rents soared 40 percent, forcing many to move to the city’s fringe.

The quotation is from COHRE’s study. You can see that the in justice is something that is not new. Erica Brazil protest 1 RTBulman (2007) wrote in an article for USA Today, that COHRE’s same study had details about 1.5 million people being displaced in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics. The media following this were few because we are talking about China (the countries censorship is ridiculous) this is why the upraising in Brazil is necessary; because the world is watching.

The world was watching South Africa but corruption being the blame for many problems in Africa discourages many from expecting any change in Africa. You know that excuse that some people use when the words change and Africa are put in the same sentence. But I will be the first to admit that corruption does run deep in the South African government but the same goes for the Olympics and World Cup organization.

In an article by Gary Anderson called, “South Africa to kick homeless off  streets before the World Cup (2010),” written for Global Research. Mr Anderson wrote this:

More than 800 tramps, beggars and street children have already been removed from Johannesburg and sent to remote settlements hundreds of miles away.

And in Cape Town, where England face Algeria on June 18, up to 300 have been moved to Blikkiesdorp camp where 1,450 families are crammed in a settlement of tin huts designed for just 650 people.

Johannesburg councillor Sipho Masigo was unrepentant. “Homelessness and begging are big problems in the city,” he said. “You have to clean your house before you have guests. There is nothing wrong with that.

You can see that the fault is on both sides, both are necessary for the system to continue. Some of these stadiums in South Africa, which cost at least 30 million US dollars, were only used four times throughout the whole competition. If Sipho Masigo was homeless he would have a problem with being relocated instead of being taken care of.

Mbombela-Stadium-006

Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, is kept up by 18 orange iron, ‘giraffes.’

The article, “Human cost of the World Cup (2010),” posted by Al Jazeera, provided more proof of the collaboration of local officials and the representatives of the Olympics and the World Cup. The article showed corruption in England, “In Britain, 400 people were forced out of the Clays Lane estate, which was demolished to make way for the 2012 Olympic Park in East London.” So far it seems like it does not matter where they go these people continue to prey on the vulnerable.

There was some positive news in the article posted by Al Jazeera (2010), the news is that Chicago ahead of the 2016 Olympic bid pledged to be the first city to disallow evictions. The city lost the bid of course but what a moment.

Give it all you got Brazil;Peace!

Reference:

Anderson, Gary. (2010, March 28). South Africa to kick Homeless off streets before World Cup. Global Research. http://www.globalresearch.ca/south-africa-to-kick-homeless-off-streets-before-world-cup/18401

Bulman, Erica. (2007, June 5). Rights group: 1.5 million people displaced by preparations for 2008 Beijing Olympics. USA Today. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2007-06-05-3431055449_x.htm

Smith, David. (2010, June 2). Nelspruit’s brutal inequalities test World Cup’s legacy. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2010/jun/03/nelspruit-world-cup

http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/2010/03/20103816395976656.html

Would you have done what Bradley Manning did?

Finally After 3 years the trial of the accused whistle blower Bradley Manning begins. It is not overall a good thing because Manning should be praised and given a medal for his courage and not sentenced to prison. I think this trail is absolutely ridiculous, a complete waste of time. How can people continue to pursue his persecution, I mean, just look at the information he released. Everyone on this planet needs to know what the American military does. Especially because it has at least seven hundred foreign military bases around the world. America has its fingers and whole arm( up-to the shoulders) in everything.

For those of you who do not know Bradley Manning was an intelligence analyst in the American military. He in 2010 released millions of important documents to Wikileaks some included information about how top officials lied and mislead Americans into war. There was also the controversial video of an American Fighter helicopter, “Crazy Horse one-eight,” killing about 12 civilians including two Reuters News Agency  staff members; the video is called, “Collateral Murder.” If you want more on Bradley manning go here: the Bradley Manning Support Website.

Bradley Manning is really a tough person.

We support people who take pride in speaking the truth, no matter what.

The first video is about Bradley Manning giving his story, it is found on Democracy Now  and it was posted on March 13, 2013.

The second video is features people who support Bradley Manning; the program host: The Young Turks.

The third video is about the trial, it was on Democracy Now, posted on June 4, 2013.

Take action  and help Free Manning!

Peace!

Reference:

Johnson, Chalmers. (2004, June 15). America’s Empire of Bases.  http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0115-08.htm

Economic Inequality in America: The Mentally Ill are Easily Looked Over Con’t

Below is a video found on Al Jazeera, called, “The War Within,” it was posted on April, 20, 2010. The video focuses on US war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But it is important to recognize that most people in the military today come from low-income, working-class, and middle-class families. This is because the military provides, ‘perks,’ for joining, for example, ‘free,’ education or a check twice a month. The relationship today between the less-fortunate and war is interesting to me because I believe the this is another example of how the powerful elite influence our everyday lives.

If you did not know, war is really profitable if you are in the right place in society. Companies from, General Electric, to McDonalds benefit from war, I mean millions of dollars. These companies are the same companies that you will see paying lobbyist money to force their agenda. Did you forget that we were looking for weapons of mass destruction?

When you have economic inequality you do not need a draft. People who have no other option but to join the army because, they can get tax free housing or family supplemental sustainability allowance. Will risk their lives to better the condition of their family.

I do not hesitate to say that the powerful elites are very smart people. They provide a economic environment, if I can put it that way, that automatically supplies them able bodies because that is all they really want is bodies. To fight in wars killing people who they do not like for whatever reason and they make an enormous profit from it. These lobbyist do not care one bit about the people in the military, this video can shine some light on this. I recall watching a documentary awhile back, I do not remember the name of it or when it was; I do remember it was on Al Jazeera, so maybe I will find it later. Nonetheless, the part of the video that stood out to me went something like this: the footage was of a soldier complaining that at his base in Iraq or Afghanistan, his soldiers can at any given time of the day go to the canteen and get McDonalds but they can not get ammunition or special vehicles. Well at least at that point the US was an advocate of, Food Not Bombs.

So soldiers here leave to fight a war that they do not understand at all. Look at how many soldiers leave the wars in the middle east, asking why was I there killing people? There is no justification. Not to forget that the soldier leaves the battlefield a totally different person, mentally and in some cases physically.

This question and psychological trauma that war puts on people contributes to the statistic that comes about month after month, that more US soldiers took their own lives than died in battle.

Below is a video on Democracy Now, it features a program called, “Military Suicide Epidemic: More U.S. Soldiers Have Killed Themselves Than Died on Battlefield in 2012,” posted on June 13, 2012. the special program begins at 42:03.

Peace!

Reference:

Guina, Ryan. (2008, July 9). Do Military Members Get paid Enough. http://themilitarywallet.com/do-military-members-get-paid-enough/

http://www.aljazeera.com/focus/2010/02/20102685951740629.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/5/on_afghan_war_11th_anniversary_vets

Economic Inequality in America: The Mentally Ill are Easily Looked Over

The discussion of homelessness cannot take place without the inclusion of the topic of the mentally ill. I am sure that at some point in your life you have casually passed by a homeless person who was definitely talking to themselves or acting in a way that you might find obnoxious. During these times, I bet that you probably concluded on two reasons for why that person is talking to themselves: either the person is on drugs or the person is mentally ill. I believe too often the first option is chosen because the average individual does not know the trials and tribulations that affect the mentally ill. Very few know how much mentally ill people suffer and how much this society directly and indirectly neglects them.

In America the streets are covered with the mentally ill. Some studies show that 50% (it could be as high as 80%) of all homeless people are mentally ill.

Below is a video that looks at the lives of some mentally ill people in America. It is a very good video to introduce this topic. I like the positive aspect of the video that shows people who understand mentally illness and are using their knowledge and solidarity to help the homeless.

The video is found on Al Jazeera, it is called,”Lost and Found,” and it was posted on November 21, 2010.

Below is text from the Al Jazeera website:

Filmmaker: Peggy Holter

According to the US’ substance abuse and mental health services sdministration “as many as 700,000 Americans are homeless on any given night. An estimated 20 to 25 per cent of these people have a serious mental illness”.

The number of people who are homeless in the US has always been a stunning statistic that seems to run counter to the promise of the American Dream. In the past two years, compounded by the deep recession, it is a statistic that has only gotten substantially worse.

There has long been a public policy debate about whether it is homelessness that leads many of those who are mentally ill to wind up on the street or if because they are already an at-risk population and their mental illness grows more severe by the difficult reality of living on the street with no support, no family care and few viable solutions.

A large and growing homeless population is evident in every major city in the US. In Washington, DC it is seen as especially remarkable because so much of it is visible from the halls of power where government entities are meant to find solutions to these issues. Instead the nation’s capital has one of the largest homeless populations – about 40,000 people.

Among that number there is a seemingly equally intractable issue, the mentally ill homeless. For the past 30 years this number has grown substantially as the support services provided to them have been eroded. It is now believed that the percentage of those among the homeless who are mentally ill is close to 40 per cent across the country.

During the 1980s, the indigent mentally ill would be institutionalised by court order until they were successfully treated or other resources could be found to support them. When that policy ended it led to a surge in the number of mentally ill homeless and that has continued to grow in the following decades.

Vagrancy charges were frequently used to get many of the homeless, including the mentally ill, off the streets. But this led only to short-term housing solutions with no connection to long-term mental health care. Further, it led to petty crime cases clogging court dockets.

Some alternative health care solutions are available, including short-term stints under a doctor’s care and prescriptions for medication to treat many of the disorders that are most common among this population, such as schizophrenia. But being homeless and without any long-term financial support often means that regular access to prescriptions and maintaining a schedule with a therapist is almost impossible.Over the years countless efforts have been made to address this issue at governmental and charity levels. But there is a conflict between those who believe that providing housing should be a primary concern because mental illness exists regardless of whether or not somebody has a home and those who believe that only when the reasons behind homelessness – be it mental illness, substance abuse or economic need – are resolved, can stable housing be provided by the government.

It is in this swirl of debate that we found David and Nellie – each with their own troubled journey and issues. Their cases are different, as are the solutions outlined in this film.

There are a number of initiatives that are being pursued in Washington. One is a court-based programme that is devoted strictly to providing a non-incarceration route for the mentally ill who have been arrested for petty crimes.

Another solution that is outlined in this film is part of a non-profit organisation called Pathways to Housing. It was founded in the early 1990s by Sam Tsemberis and now operates in a number of cities across the US. Its goal is to provide stable and ultimately affordable housing to those in greatest need among the homeless, whether they are mentally ill, recovering from substance abuse or simply navigating the difficult transition back from economic ruin.

Peace!

Reference:

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2010/11/201011166511982384.html

In Honor of All Mothers

Below is a video from Ted.com, it is called “Mother and Daughter Hero Doctors: Hawa Abdi and Deqo Mohamed.” It was filmed on December 2010 and posted on February 2011.

“…women and children are the ones affected most by civil war.”

This is an important statement because it is very true. Women and children have always suffered in times of conflict and ultimately since the existence of human beings. But times have been changing as you can see here is one example.

“No man can beat his wife.”

This is still a global problem.

“We will call the eldest people…if the defy this case..we never release him”

This is an old tradition that is rarely practiced in Western society. Older people have the potential to have so much wisdom and a sense of the way the world works or should work. So, it is ingenious to harness that wisdom.

“Women are most strong, person, all over the world.”

True that.

The people of the community came up with the two rules; democracy?

“I saw how my mother was helping and how she really need the help and how is the care is essential to healthcare…”

I believe that sometimes parents forget that they are the first and in many cases the only example for their children. I mean that children learn how to treat others, how to take care of themselves, how to work hard, how to be a good person, etc; from their parent(s)/guardian(s).

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Below is a video from Al Jazeera, it is called, “Shabeena’s Quest.” I believe it was posted on November 2012.  Shabeena is a principal at a school in Pakistan. Under the governing of the Taliban, Shabeena, shuns old-age traditions that prevent girls and women to go to school. Shabeena shows courage and dedication to do what I believe, is right. The video also follows two girls who attend the school: Afshan and Zarina.

Afshan comes from a family with six daughters and they All go to school. On a family salary* that would make your head spin. Truly, for anyone who knows what it is like to live poor in a third world country,  you know how amazing that is. Especially in a Taliban dominated environment; imagine.

Zarina, comes from a family that is comparable to Afshan’s but the difference is that her family wants to marry her off at the age of 14. Zarina of course wants to stay in school; she has to fight to learn.

Throughout the video you will really see the hearts and minds of the future generation. I hope at least one the children there rises up to really bring change some where in the world; you cannot deny even at their young age they know what needs changing.

I wanted to say that this post features women who are doing things that many would consider courageous and dangerous. But all women are important in order for this planet to function peacefully. And every mother is important to someone in the world. Bless All mothers.

*Average annual salary in Pakistan $4,650.00 this is based on the 2012/2013 survey.

Peace!

“Only my body is here because I am thinking about what is happening around the world.”-Mumia

References:

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2012/11/2012112612156945376.html

http://www.averagesalarysurvey.com/article/average-salary-in-pakistan/30182840.aspx

Tobias and Angus the Clown

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When is the last time that you called upon a clown for assistance? For many children a clown represents fun, happiness, and laughter. This is probably due to the fact that some people hire clowns for children’s birthdays and and parties. But in difficult environments such as a hospital, clowns are crucial in the comfort, well-being and in some cases clowns help decrease the recovery time for ill children. The family of the children also benefit from the presence of a clown in the hospital this is due to  many reasons. For example the families feel better if they see their children laughing and in some cases the people who need cheering up are the other family members.

The documentary below is about Angus, a clown who works in the children’s oncology department at a teaching hospital in Denmark. And his relationship with Tobias, a cancer patient at the hospital. The documentary covers their relationship over a period of one year and a half. In the documentary it states that Tobias has a deadly type of cancer, people with this cancer have a 30% survival rate. This documentary forces me to cherish life more and more. The complete documentary is found on Al Jazeera English under the program called Witness, link to documentary found here.

Meet Tobias and Angus

Our blessings go out to anyone who is suffering in every way, shape or form.

Peace

“Love is the most powerful force in the universe.”-Mumia

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