Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkey Devastated by a 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake

Rescuers continue digging with heavy machinery, as well as their bare hands, in the villages of Van and Ercis Monday morning as Turkey gets hit by a massive earthquake that has left more than 270 individuals dead and 40,000 homeless.

The 7.2 magnitude quake, which struck on Sunday morning, had the most severe effect in Ercis, a town of around 75,000 people.

"It is a very urgent situation," Hakki Erskoy, a disaster manager for the Turkish Red Crescent, told the Guardian. He said his organisation was dealing with 40,000 homeless people, adding: "Right now, we are facing a race against time to provide shelter for people."

Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who toured the devastated region by helicopter - told reporters that the buildings in the area are made of mud brick, and are therefore more prone to earthquakes.

Although 24 individuals were rescued from the rubble within the first two hours of the quake, many of still missing including many university students in Ercis.

"University students are said to be living here," Mustafa Bilgin, a mine rescue expert, said. "We don't know how many of them are still inside – we've reached their computers, clothing but we did not see anyone."

A number of countries have offered assistance with both relief aid and search and rescue efforts. This immediate reaction is appreciated by the people of Turkey, and shows how government assistance can change when a natural disaster occurs. This response can be viewed in Jennifer Hyndman's new book Dual Disasters when she describes what happens when “man-made” and “natural” disasters meet.

As of yet, there have been no talks about civil wars breaking out since the quake, as those fight for their safety, homes, loved ones and own lives.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

KP Author Louis Picard on AFRICOM and the LRA

A few days ago, Obama sent U.S forces into Africa to confront Lord's Resistance Army. Below is Kumarian Press author Louis Picard's response to the AFRICOM situation against the LRA:

From its beginning in 2008 the United States African Command (AFRICOM), part of the American geographical defense system has been controversial and it remains so. Initial concerns focused on the impact of AFRICOM on African conflicts, on African sovereignty and debates about human security. This was followed by the increasing debate about the special forces of AFRICOM and its increasing involvement in Somalia and the fight against Al Shabaab, and Al Qaeda linked organization. It has also been engaged with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, parts of West Africa and especially in Nigeria (with Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group). AFRICOM also brought us the first ten days of the Libya invasion. Now the African Command is to engage in the struggle against the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. To gain a better understanding of the complexities of the African Command and African security read African Security and the African Command by Terry Buss, Donald Goldstein, Joseph Adjaye and Louis A. Picard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Protesting Leads to War Not Peace

Washington, DC is a symbol for democracy, growth and empowerment; and what would the district be without its common protesters?

For those that have not been following the news: Washington, DC has received another tirade from angry protesters ( “October 2001/Stop the Machine” ) fighting with those that will listen, in an effort to end all wars (ironic, isn't it?). This only came two weeks after the NYC protest which lead to 700 arrests.

But, 2pm yesterday marked the end of the protesters' alloted time to stand blocks away from the White House gates to fight for the freedom of our troops.

Police were ready to arrest yesterday at 2pm - and the protesters were ready to be arrested - stating that they would fight for their cause. But, protesters received an offer yesterday from police announcing that the protesters would be allowed to march for another four months. And, after hours of consideration, they politely accepted.

“It was a no brainer,” said Mr. Kauff, adding that protesters are willing to share with such groups as those participating in the dedication this weekend of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. However, he was unsure how long protesters would stay.

Margaret Flowers, another organizer, called the offer a “transformative moment.”

“And I mean that 100 percent,” she said.

These anti-war advocates won the battle this week; but what happens when advocates fight for a cause such as anti-sweatshop labor which should be heard across the globe? We don't hear about it much in the States, but it is common in Asia and in Central Asia, mainly used on child workers and women. Advocacy Across Borders reveals the relationships that Northern-based NGOs forge in order to exert influence on powerful actors in the sweatshop industry. Shae Garwood’s study of these organizations points the way forward for civil society actors reaching across borders to advocate for a better world.

Our right to protest comes with its own cost. Protesting ignites the fire and only spreads the flame. We seem to be the cause of our own war. African Security and the African Command discusses how the US created a new military presence in Africa, thus taking it upon ourselves to help Africa by enforcing our own ways of thinking. Some would suggest we only made the Africans more westernized, spreading our way of life onto them. But, does this make Africa better, or were we only trying to act as the Supreme Power?

Overall, protesting may make leaders listen, but is it worth having a civil war to end the ultimate war?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are Impact Investors Creating a Real Impact?

According to the World Bank, there are approximately 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty - making less than $1.25 a day, and approximately 2.6 billion people living in moderate poverty - making less than $2.00 a day. The majority of these individuals live in South Asia, a population density that exceeds Africa's total population.

These groups, like everyone on the planet, need fuel, lightening, affordable heathcare and more; but sadly they do not have the means to do anything about it. With numbers this high, are Impact Investors not doing enough to reduce global poverty? After all, most government agencies are corrupt, with leaders stealing money from their patrons. India, for example, has had approximately 50-70% of welfare stolen by selfish government officials plaguing individuals to receive quality [health]care services that were promised to them. (Upcoming Kumarian Press book, Detecting Corruption, talks about how corruption can be eliminated for the benefit of the citizens. More on that coming soon.)

But, when government officials fail to meet the needs of citizens, who best to turn to but the Impact Investors. So, why aren't they doing enough to hault corruption and help reduce poverty?

The microfinance industry is known by many as a loans savior to those living in extreme poverty, or to those in need. The industry started in ther late 1980s in Bangladesh, India by Microfinance Legend, Mohammad Yunus and his founding of the nonprofit Grameen Bank. But recently, despite many successes, the Microfinance Industry has been under scrutiny, tackling concerns about where the industry's money is going; and who it is most benefiting. Not surprisingly, exploiting the poor is one of the main concerns. In India, credit histories cannot be shared, and "appropriate consumer-protection code and a nationwide regulatory framework are still lacking." (The Microfinance Catalyst, Project Syndicate) Confronting Microfinance talks about the recent concerns in the industry, and discusses the sacking of Yunus from the Grameen Bank, which lead to a huge uproar.

Now, NGOs supporting microfinance loans are under the gun, gearing up for high supervision by government officials."Although impact investors can lay the groundwork for commercial investors, they must also work in unison with government authorities to ensure well-functioning market systems. Only when such systems are firmly established will the poor be able to participate in today’s vast global economy." (The Microfinance Catalyst)

Until this gets more mediated control by the government, what can we do but ask: Whose sustainability really counts?