Tag Archive | Africa

World Press Freedom Day – a dying industry, one journalist at a time

On World Press Freedom Day today we can happily express our opinion of just what we think of our head of state, our parliament and pretty much anyone we want. Satire is welcomed. But not all countries enjoy such liberties.

world press freedom day Some of the biggest, or most powerful countries globally are either censored, or practice self-censorship so as not to become a target of oppression or be seen to rock the boat that floats the middle class and the elite.

South Africa and Africa generally are taking strain under the oppression of dictatorships, drought, epidemic, famine, warring extremists and more, so it’s perhaps a blessing that China is so kindly investing energy into African infrastructure. China is in every country in most of sub-Saharan Africa in some enterprising form or another. Why is China looking so promising compared to western investment. Perhaps the west has a bad history of colonialism in Africa, and human rights abuses, but is China any different. Are we going from the frying pan into the fire?

China is the classic dictatorship, since Mao. “You cant let 800 million peasants vote” is their attitude, while only 200 million enjoy the middle class semi-capitalist market opportunity, with over a thousand McDonalds. Yet 80% of college graduates cannot find a job every year. The civil service and army have had record intakes as a result. Also the education system is geared toward conformist learning so people struggle to think outside the box and thus innovation is behind imitation. Nobody dissents because the middle class are benefiting from capitalism. It’s consumerism in a one party system.

Still a planet of peasants and serfs

Like South Africa and much of Africa, the vast majority of the people of China are peasants. Trapped in transition, they don’t know who they are, communist yet capitalist. “A flock of sheep who follow the deep grass and the whip of their ruler.” Tibet’s human rights abuses are tolerated by the entire world because to do otherwise is bad for business, for profit. Nobody can speak openly about their dislike of the regime because they never know whose listening amongst them at a dinner gathering for example. Free speech and press is out of the question. Within the government corruption amounts to 15% of GDP a year lost. 12 of the top 16 worst polluted cities in the world are in China. 750 thousand people die prematurely every year, based on 2009 stats, from pollution-related illnesses for the past 15 years now. In Beijing sometimes you don’t see the Sun for days due to smog. Yet the middle class know better and are told not to encourage the mob. So like in Africa, a dictatorship can form where the top 1% make the most, the middle 20% capitalist business and civil servants make a lot all the time too, even by corrupt means, and the 79% suffer, voiceless, and with minimal human rights. Well give them 9 or 10 years and we will all be learning Mandarin as China becomes the world superpower it once was some centuries ago. But this time the empire consists of the entire planet. When last has that happened, I wonder?

world press freedom day3For the people, as one can see in China, self-censorship may be one’s own worst enemy, when the people become afraid to speak out, either because dissent is punished, or because they don’t want to lose the little they do have compared to how it was under a worse tyrant in the past regime. Even in Hong Kong, the business tycoons consort with the government at the expense of the masses in a kind of “corporatocricy” to rival even the west. Even academics who used to be the activist voice of the people are too well paid to rock the gravy train that feeds them. Watch and learn, fellow Africans, so that the moral milestones are not also missed here in our own march to economic freedom. China had its Tiananmen moment, and we had our Marikana moment, but after the dust has settled, was it really worth it for the people?

One difference between us and China is that there if you don’t cause trouble you are free, but here causing trouble is the new way to get yourself into parliament. The ANC did it, The EFF are following suit. A red overall boiler suit at that. The colours of Red China by any other name still blaze just as bright. Plenty of financial backing from the comrades back east to install a healthy socialist regime that will keep the western imperialists at bay. Well at least we are free to choose our imperialists theses days. Who needs democracy when communism will pay just as well – for the elite that is.

Singapore- comfortable model

world press freedom daySingapore is also a Dictatorship, with no free press whatsoever, where any opposition is punished, yet this is tolerated because of huge economic gains and wealth available in the capitalist marketplace to its citizens all round. Actually it’s the best economy in Asia, And as a result China is trying to emulate. So the rights that I have, to research and write what I like, is totally missing in the best economy in the East. The internet is heavily sanctioned. Can they even read these words of concern there? Therefore those of us with the facility and liberties to see the world for what it is and to communicate freely have a duty of sorts to aid in getting the message across to still more people. Journalists and activists are one of the guardians of the guardians, along with the judiciary, and general parliament, and when they are gagged the people are easy to oppress. China may be as bad as North Africa, Mexico and the Middle East, but nowadays they are also more subtle. As China becomes a world top power in coming years, freedom of speech may be one of the last liberties to go. When it does know that it’s only a matter of time before life as we know it is soon to follow.

Reference: Freedom for sale – How we made money and lost our liberty

by John Kampfner 2009

Source: https://julescape.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/world-press-freedom-day-a-dying-industry-one-journalist-at-a-time/

Earth Day 2016 – feeling the heat

The recent full moon of April 22 happened to be a momentous day for our beloved, yet ailing Planet Earth, for it just happened to be the annual “Earth Day” event.

Earth Day

Villagers search for water

Although founded in 1970 already, it seems as if humanity is finally waking up to the idea that our Earth also desperately needs a day of remembrance, when environmental issues are discussed and implemented. This year was particularly significant because more than 155 countries committed to signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN headquarters in New York. The agreement was approved by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in COP21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015. Countries – including yours and mine – pledged to limit the temperature rise overall to below 2 degrees Celsius, which happens to be the cut off point for extinction, to put it bluntly. Only 7 years ago the UN General Assembly decided to designate April 22 as “International Mother Earth Day”, presumably because world leaders saw the undeniable trend that Planet Earth is heating up and if we don’t do something about it, we will reach a tipping point (2*C) after which our inevitable roast is unavoidable.

Planet Earth is known in different cultures by names like Gaia, Pacha Mama and Bhumi devi. She is seen as sentient, as our source of life and sustenance, and thus respected as our mother. Already 5000 years ago, at the end of the previous age, and the start of our current Kali Yuga, as described in the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts, she was being mistreated by demonic or tyrannical despots and took the form of a cow to approach those who could help her out of her desperation. The Iron age was setting in then already, and it seems things are continuing to worsen for her and thereby for us her dependants. And naturally the most vulnerable feel the abuse of Mother Earth the worst. Let’s look at the current situation today…

Earlier this month America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released stats showing that this year, 2016, is so far the hottest for Mother Earth on record in the 163 years of data available, breaking the record for the previous hottest year, namely last year. So far they are recording the past 11 months as the hottest ever 11 straight months in a row to date. Now that is some scary shift because, not only is this the longest streak of such record-breaking heat, month after month, but last month (March) the average global temperature departure from the norm takes us to 1.22 degrees Celsius hotter, and therefore over halfway to the extinction tipping point of 2 degrees. And this is not based on some localised heatwave or drought anomaly, but is an all-pervading global phenomena. Apparently we are heating up even faster than scientists originally warned some years back. And this is, as we all know, man made. In other words greedy tyrants who are aware of the consequences of their actions, continue to torture Mother Earth, and more particularly the vulnerable living entities on her surface. Plants, animals and humans are dying by the million due to the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions, which are the result of men greedy for more wealth, regardless of the consequences to life on Mother Earth.

For example, according to the online newspaper http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/over-100-dead-in-india-as-killer-heat-wave-continues/1/647879.html a quarter of India’s population, 330 million people (out of the total of 1.2 billion) are suffering with severe water shortages and drought.Earth Day “Thousands of distressed farmers have committed suicide, tens of thousands of farm animals have died, and crops have perished, with rivers, lakes and ponds drying up and groundwater tables sinking.” And this is the second year in a row. April temperature are up to 45 C. Now I have been in India in June when temperatures were 45 C, and fled for my sanity. But it is still only April, two months before that peak summer heat. So I understand the conditions on the ground here. Then there’s Australia where, for years already, drought is actually the new norm. The average temperature for last month (March ‘16) was the highest in their 107 year period of recording. In other words records are being broken yearly now, like clockwork, as we approach the global 2 degrees Celsius tipping point of no return.

Then there’s Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, currently hit with worst drought in 90 years. Along with Haiti, where millions face starvation as their drought s tretches into its third year. Simultaneously Venezuela, where the long-running drought has driven water levels to historic lows, just this week has had to implement 4 hour a day electricity cuts due to the lack of dam water for their hydro-electric plants. Not only has Venezuela put on a 3-day weekend, but the entire beer industry has shut down in the country. All due to drought brought on by the same El Nino which is hitting Mother Earth now.

Then in Africa, the most severely affected continent of all, Lake Kariba (between Zambia and Zimbabwe) is only 14% full. Actually the entire Southern Africa region is affected. Here is a list of the countries to declare a state of emergency in the past 6 months:

22 Dec Lesotho

5 Feb Zimbabwe

18 Feb Swaziland

15 Mar Southern Africa Development Community

12 Apr Malawi

Zambia had critical drought in 2003 already which has affected the country for generations to come. Ethiopia, due to fear of chasing away investment and confidence, won’t even openly admit that it is in crisis, a worse level of famine crisis than that which inspired Sir Bob Geldorf in 1984 to rally global donations at his “Live Aid” pop concert. It’s the worst drought in 50 years there, with 90% crop failure and 1 million dead cattle. 18 million Ethiopians are in need of aid. “The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases…” according to a charity there. But Sir Bob and the eyes of the world are now probably too focused on other disasters closer to home to put on another concert. This drought is worse that the one of 1984 that put Ethiopia on the map, but today no-one is even aware, by comparison.

Earth DayObviously it’s not just weather conditions brought on by climate change that are to blame for the humanitarian disaster. Especially in Africa, the AIDS pandemic, along with corrupt, greedy government leaders, war and seasonal El Nino shifts all add to the perfect storm. In Zimbabwe reports say that nearly 200 000 tonnes of food aid is unaccounted for – enough to feed 4 million people for a month – probably sent to the black market to fetch 10 times the normal price. Such is the action of despotic tyrants that exploit Mother Earth, as they have done for millennia, except that now the consequences are exponentially increased. Even the relief efforts that do reach their intended goal are like “spitting in the wind” according to red Cross/Crescent workers. “The stark message is this crisis is not going to go away. We will have a perpetual crisis,” said a World Food Programme’s spokesperson in Nairobi, Kenya. “We are seeing a redefinition of famine, of humanitarian crises as we know them.”

Even in my own country, South Africa, the supposed new economic sanctuary of countless refugees from up North, the biggest economy in Africa, just two days after the Earth Day UN signing last week, the municipality of Durban on the East coast, made an unannounced water shut off from 9pm to 4am the next morning. Residents were apparently unable to reduce consumption themselves, so the government, seeing that water could be totally depleted in a matter of months, just cut it off for the night. The next rains are only due in October, six months away. So this is the new norm it seems, wherever you are. Even the recent rain in California is not really enough to ease the water shortage there.

And thus basic human rights like the right to food and water are being eroded by corporate and government leaders unwilling to put human life above personal profit. For the solutions are there for all to see when it comes to saving water, ending fossil fuel dependency and the concomitant air pollution, as well as ending factory farming with its methane emissions and unsustainable water use. It seems famine and starvation are the new norm in this iron age of Kali Yuga, unless we have a global revolution of consciousness, a collective enlightened moment, an insight into our collective humanity, the sanctity of all life as children of Mother Earth, who needs more than just one day, but needs every day to be respected, protected and nurtured, for the sake of the future of all who live here.

Source: https://julescape.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/earth-day-on-full-moon-april-2016-feeling-the-heat/