Category Archives: Social Justice

Mystery: No one knows what’s causing the big bee die-off

Every third bite of food we consume depends on pollination by bees. But the bees are disappearing and no-one seems to know why.

News of a mass die-off of bees first broke in 2006. By the spring of 2007 it was clear that the newly dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder was widespread. A quarter of all U.S. beekeepers had suffered losses and more than 30 percent of all bee colonies in the country were wiped out. Huge die-offs also came in Australia, Canada, Brazil, China, Europe and other regions. In Britain, losses averaged more than 30 per cent over 2007-08.

Is Globalization to blame?

Read more in The New Internationalist


UNCF: Yemeni child bride dies of internal bleeding

 A 12-year-old Yemeni bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after she was married off to an older man, the United Nations Children’s Fund said.

The death is the latest in a series of child marriage cases in Yemen, where the minimum age for marriage  is still under debate.  The girl was married to a man at least twice her age, said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The girl’s death is “a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon,” Kaag said.

Read more from CNN.

Brazil’s politicians blamed for floods that killed 105

RIO DE JANEIRO — As the torrential rains began to recede over Rio de Janeiro today, following the state’s worst floods since 1966, one question was stamped onto every newspaper front-page in Brazil: Why?

Why was Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s second largest city and one with a history of tropical rainstorms and flooding – not better prepared for the catastrophe that struck on late Monday and Tuesday this week, when an estimated 11 inches of rain crashed down onto the iconic city and and its neighboring towns in just 24 hours?

With rescue attempts continuing in several of Rio’s hillside slums, the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, tried to duck questions about why the floods, which have officially claimed at least 105 lives and which brought much of the city to a standstill on Monday night and Tuesday, caused such havoc.

But urban planning specialists and environmentalists have been quick to react – blaming Rio’s politicians for decades of poor spending, confused housing policy, and even outright corruption.

“This was an tragedy foretold,” says Sergio Ricardo, a leading Rio environmentalist. “To this day, the city does not have any kind of alert or prevention system – something that is common in other cities that are as vulnerable as Rio.” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor.

Did American conservationists go too far in Africa?

Then, as they say, things went horribly wrong.
” ‘ ‘The Owenses earned a reputation in the valley for their intolerance of local people. “Their whole attitude was ‘Nice continent. Pity about the Africans,’ ” said another European who knew them.
P. J. Fouche, a professional hunter who manages a hunting concession in a game-management area near where the Owens couple lived, said that Mark Owens developed a proprietary feeling about the park’s wildlife. “He didn’t want them”—the Africans—“to be anywhere near his animals. That’s how he saw the animals, as his.’ ” Read more in The New Yorker.

Oil company gave millions to fund misinformation on climate change

Greenpeace says Kansas-based Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates oil pipelines, paid 35 conservative and libertarian groups –  and more than 20 congressmen and senators – to spread misinformation about climate science and  fossil fuel alternatives.

The company donated nearly $48 million to climate opposition groups from 1997 t 2008. From 2005 to 2008, it donated $25 million  to groups opposed to climate change, nearly three times as much as ExxonMobil. Koch also spent $5.7 million on political campaigns and $37 million on direct lobbying to support fossil fuels, Greenpeace says. Read more in The Guardian.

Cap and Trade: Devils in the details

Here’s another one from Annie Leonard of the “Story of Stuff” project.

This one’s “The Story of Cap and Trade.”  Watch it.

Burmese rock for a life without fear

YANGON – Myanmar is a country where owning a fax machine is illegal without a permit, where even spontaneous gatherings of more than five people are technically banned and where critics of the government are regularly locked away in prison for decades.

Despite this repression, or perhaps partly because of it, young people are pushing the limits of what the military government, let alone their parents, considers acceptable art and entertainment.

Art exhibitions, some featuring risky hidden political messages, open nearly every week in Yangon. Yangon has a festival of underground music, including punk bands, twice a year. Fans of the most popular musical genres, hip-hop and electronic dance music, wear low-slung baggy pants to the concerts.

“We live in fear,” he said. “We live under a dictatorship. People need fresh air. They release their anger, their energy,” said one popular artist. Read more from The New York Times.