Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 22nd, 2015

Images that prove that we are in danger

I posted many of these photos. A repeat is great to strike our imagination

From BizLifes

Sometimes every word is superfluous.

These pictures say more than a thousand words.

1. The view over the overdeveloped metropole of Mexico City (with more than 20 million inhabitants).

Pablo Lopez Luz

2. An elephant killed by poachers left to rot.

3. The rainforest in flames – goats used to graze here.

Daniel Beltra

4. Trails of excessive air traffic over London.

Ian Wylie

5. A massive truck delivers a load of oil sands for processing.

Oil sand is considered the energy source of the future.

Garth Lentz

6. A simple herd farmer cannot withstand the stink of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia.

Lu Guang

7. A waste incineration plant and its surroundings in Bangladesh

M.R. Hasasn

8. A fire storm plows through Colorado – increased incidences of wild fires is a result of climate change.

R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

9. The scars left behind from the mining of oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Garth Lentz

10. A nighttime spectacle in downtown Los Angeles – the energy demand is incalculable.

Mike Hedge

11. In Oregon, this thousand year old forest fell victim to the chain saw for a new dam.

Daniel Dancer

12. The area around Almeria in Spain is littered with greenhouses as far as the eye can see – simply for a richly filled dinner table.

Yann Arthus Bertrand

13. Poachers pose proudly with the coat of a Siberian tiger.

Steve Morgan/Photofusion

14. The Mir Mine in Russia, the largest diamond mine in the world.

Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

15. A dead albatross shows what happens when we litter. A living dumpster.

Chris Jordan

16. And yet another megatropolis – a bird’s eye view of New Delhi (over 22 million inhabitants).

Google Earth/2014 Digital Globe

17. Paradise almost lost: the Maldives, a popular vacation spot that is threatened by rising sea levels.

Peter Essick

18. The beginning of Black Friday at an electronics store in Boise, Idaho.

Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

19. Tons (literally) of broken electronics end up in developing countries and are stripped for precious metals by using deadly substances.

Peter Essick

20. The blunder of the Brazilian rain forest is being repeated here in Canada.

Garth Lentz

21. A landfill for worn-out tires in the desert of Nevada.

Daniel Dancer

22. While the entire world watched the events of Fukushima, a massive heat and power station was burning just a few miles away. All attempts to extinguish it where fruitless.

Mainichi Newspapers/AFLO

23. This polar bear starved to death in Svalvard, Norway. Disappearing ice caps are robbing polar bears of both their living space and food.

Ashley Cooper

24. To the last drop: an oilfield in California and the merciless overexploitation of humans.

Mark Gamba/Corbis

25. A massive waterfall from melting pack ice.

These masses are the only meltwater and the undeniable proof how swiftly climate change is advancing.

Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

26. A lignite power plant contaminates the air with its discharges.

Jason Hawkes

27. The Indonesian surfer Dede Surinaya rides a wave of filth and trash (Java, Indonesia).

Zak Noyle

“When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money.”

This prophecy is becoming a more and more brutal reality. But, even today, not every person is aware of the horrible effects our lifestyles have on nature. So share these evocative pictures with everyone.

What Last-minute lack of transparency can do? Would it weakens sustainable development goals?

On Sunday 2 August, the 193 countries which make up the UN agreed to a document that will shape the next 15 years of international development policy and action.

Hailed “the people’s agenda” by UN secretary-general Ban-Ki moon, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), have taken some two years to negotiate.

The SDGs in their final form will be agreed to by all governments at a special summit this September.

Yet, the final 48 hours leading up to this milestone moment were marked by closed-door deals and bad faith, I believe.

As a civil society advocate working on the SDGs, I have been witnessing the negotiations since March 2013.

The negotiations had, until the evening of Friday 31 July, been a genuinely open and inclusive process. They were open to observers, included opportunities for civil society and the private sector to speak directly to the governments and were webcast on the UN’s own live TV channel.

But that weekend, as the 17 goals and 169 targets were being debated for the last time, observers were kept out and information was relayed by a small handful of specific negotiators to a small handful of civil society advocates such as myself.

After the negotiations stalled, the US delegation laid down an ultimatum, asking for changes to the language of the final outcome document, without which they refused to adopt the SDGs.

The US asked to replace the word “ensure” with the word “promote” in two targets (2.5 and 15.6, both about equitable benefits from natural resources) which, when applied would see rich nations – whose corporations and research institutions extract the vast majority of world’s natural biodiversity – share fairly the profits and patents reaped from those resources with the countries and communities from which they are extracted.

The legal agreement on biodiversity, published in 2011, clearly uses the word “ensure” but by insisting on the much weaker word “promote”, the US has diluted hard-won legal language and replaced it with something that is nebulous at best, and unenforceable at worst.

In response, a statement was delivered from the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

These countries stressed that the legal language was vital to maintain, as it is an international commitment stipulated in the Nagoya Protocol that must not be weakened.

This last minute, take-it-or-leave-it deal – proposed despite the fact that countries had repeatedly stressed that the goals must not be reopened to debate – filled the air of the UN conference room with distrust and tension.

A second alteration was made on Saturday 1 August, this time by the EU, which negotiates as a block in the UN.

They inserted the following text into the specific paragraph that addresses debt management: “Maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries … ”

It is plainly obvious why this language is harmful and, given the situation in Greece, callous for the EU to even propose it.

If debt is the sole responsibility of the borrower, then the role of the lender in exacerbating the debt burden and setting countries up to default and crisis, as has been evident in Greece’s financial meltdown, is undermined.

Talk of debtors and creditors simply “working together” ignores existing UN agreements, dating back to 2002, that clearly recognise the joint responsibility of both the lender and borrower.

It was particularly disappointing to see human rights and non-discrimination, a cornerstone of the global goals, become a bargaining chip in the final hours.

African and Arab countries (who negotiate within blocks called the African Group and the Arab Group) attempted to delete language on.

While the specific words “human rights” were thankfully kept in the final document, “discrimination” was demoted to “distinction” and “fulfil” was reduced to “promote”. In both instances, these words are vague and inconsistent with established international human rights language, which will make it difficult to monitor progress and change.

Mention of discrimination on the basis of categories such as ethnicity, migration status, culture, economic situation or age as a protected status were also scrapped from the document, in an attempt to appease the African and Arab groups.

However, race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status managed to survive.

The way in which the SDGs have been adopted leaves a sour taste in the mouth and mirrors the bullying and blackmailing I witnessed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa.

The UN is supposed to be the a democratic and universal institution, one in which every nation has a vote, unlike the rich country-dominated IMF or World Bank. Backroom deals and pressure campaigns inevitably throw the legitimacy and fairness of international negotiations – not to mention the political will of governments to take the sustainable development goals seriously – into question.

The new global development agenda has captured the imagination of civil society, international institutions and many governments – rich and poor – because they have the potential to make ambitious and universal change to our economies, societies and environments. But the process by which we arrive at this new deal is important.

What transpired in the first weekend of August should cause all who are serious about the mantra to “leave no one behind” to reflect on the reality of vested interests and the unequal power between negotiating governments. If we cannot address this, we are left with the same system under a different name.

Bhumika Muchhala is a senior policy analyst at the Third World Network.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

If people are skeptical about govts as honest brokers: US weakens language on biodiversity and natural resource extraction, EU adds text that maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of debtor nations, while Arab and African nations (unsuccessfully) try to remove language on human rights and non-discrimination

The back room deals and pressure campaigns at the end of SDG negotiations call into question the legitimacy of the goals, says Bhumika Muchhala

Students Losing Health Insurance: The Affordable Care Act?

On Friday, many University of Missouri graduate students found out via email they would no longer receive help from the university to pay for their health insurance.

The response on social media was strong and on Monday graduate students from across campus gathered to discuss their concerns and plan for their next step.

Graduate students received this news little more than 14 hours before graduate student health insurance coverage lapsed.

This decision affects graduate students from every department who work for MU as teaching assistants, research assistants and library assistants.

One of the graduate students affected is Jennifer McKinney Wilson, a fifth year PhD candidate in the sociology department. She spoke during the graduate student forum held today – which more than 400 students attended.

“When we found out on Friday that we lost our insurance, I was 22 days away from my delivery date,” McKinney Wilson said.

Now she says she is 19 days away, already in labor, and has had no health insurance since Friday.

“Being a graduate student has always been a little difficult and challenging,” Mckinney Wilson said. “I mean you have to make sacrifices to be here. Most of us took cuts in pay and things to come here. So up until today there were sacrifices, but they were doable. And now it doesn’t seem so doable.”

MU’s decision to stop giving grad students subsidies for their health insurance comes after an IRS rule that took effect July 1.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the IRS will fine employers who give their employees subsidies to help them buy their own insurance. The fines are $100 per day, per employee.

MU is offering the more than three thousand students affected a one-time fellowship to help offset the costs of health insurance.

The fellowship is up to $1200, just under half of what a health insurance subsidy from the University was worth.

Graduate students shared ideas of what to do next – including unionizing and walking out of classes they are scheduled to teach next week.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Under the Affordable Care Act, the IRS will fine employers who give their employees subsidies to help them buy their own insurance.

The fines are $100 per day, per employee.”

On Friday, many University of Missouri graduate students found out via email they would no longer receive help from the university to pay for their health
kbia.org|By Rebecca Smith

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