Archive for November, 2012

OBAMA’S VICTORY: A TRIUMPH FOR THE AMERICAN COMMONS?

November 12, 2012

The euphoria that greeted President Obama’s victory is one pertinently unequalled, considering the recent few days of polarity-politics that demurely casted itself over America’s political landscape currently battling the offing surge of a daring and damaging hurricane. The beauty of history, has once again repeated itself in a nation well-regarded as one of, if not the best, on planet earth. Much as cynics, well as partisan all came out in droves to win for their own, America has once again shown the world that it is an epitome of healthy politics, not to say the least; an example of a truly progressive democracy where people’s Will takes the lead and where the common people’s voice is paramount. And if one were to go by the (7am UK time) victory speech of the President’s re-election, it won’t be long to discern why the spirit that carries America has always centred around their deeply held beliefs that marks their liberty, courage, willingness to work with opposition and a rear quality of doggedly fighting to give access to anyone that can ‘try’.

One thing for sure that strikes a cord in America, is the euphemism of the American spirit — that spirit that lay bares on the recognition to the ordinary men and women, to the indivisible polarity of black and white or blue and red, or Hispanic and Asian; the true fixation for the strong and the weak, that spirit that bears evidence to the long-standing bonding mien amongst a people that, no matter what, values love above hatred, that cherishes charity above politics, and one who are not afraid to explore together the benefits of differences to the advantage of all.

One thing for sure, whether he wins or not, Governor Romney has fought a good fight, and I salute his courage of fighting doggedly to the end, just because —- as President Obama puts it — both candidates believe America deserves a change — a change for the better. But one question that reverberates now that a new four-year phase reckons, is what does an Obama’s re-election means for Africa? What shots does it call-on for folks in the Middle East, Iraq, Tehran, Afghanistan and Pakistan? What hopes does his re-election portend for the black race? What glow will it bring to the livelihood and survival of the ordinary American commons? What does it mean to that middle-class volunteer who’s going from door to door around America because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift? What hope will it bring to the black African migrant young boy on the south-side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner? Where will Obama’s presidency take that furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president?  — Questions, begging for answers — that only four years in time can tell.

All-in all, for those of us, who usually advocate for the commons’ will, who would sacrifice anything — just like Obama and Romney — to see that the yearnings and the needs of the common people are always fulfilled, it is yet another lesson in moderation to know that a polished people’s-politics with distinctiveness in leadership qualities and personalities must rank highest amongst the diminutive factors necessary to for a healthy true democracy and progress of the Commons.

OBAMA’S VICTORY: A TRIUMPH FOR THE AMERICAN COMMONS?

November 12, 2012

The euphoria that greeted President Obama’s victory is one pertinently unequalled, considering the recent few days of polarity-politics that demurely casted itself over America’s political landscape currently battling the offing surge of a daring and damaging hurricane. The beauty of history, has once again repeated itself in a nation well-regarded as one of, if not the best, on planet earth. Much as cynics, well as partisan all came out in droves to win for their own, America has once again shown the world that it is an epitome of healthy politics, not to say the least; an example of a truly progressive democracy where people’s Will takes the lead and where the common people’s voice is paramount. And if one were to go by the (7am UK time) victory speech of the President’s re-election, it won’t be long to discern why the spirit that carries America has always centred around their deeply held beliefs that marks their liberty, courage, willingness to work with opposition and a rear quality of doggedly fighting to give access to anyone that can ‘try’.

One thing for sure that strikes a chord in America, is the euphemism of the American spirit — that spirit that lay bares on the recognition to the ordinary men and women, to the indivisible polarity of black and white or blue and red, or Hispanic and Asian; the true fixation for the strong and the weak, that spirit that bears evidence to the long-standing bonding mien amongst a people who, no matter what, values love above hatred, that cherishes charity above politics, and one who are not afraid to explore together the benefits of differences to the advantage of all.

One thing for sure, whether he wins or not, Governor Romney has fought a good fight, and I salute his courage of fighting doggedly to the end, just because —- as President Obama puts it — both candidates believe America deserves a change — a change for the better. But one question that reverberates now that a new four-year phase reckons, is what does an Obama’s re-election means for Africa? What shots does it call-on for folks in the Middle East, Iraq, Tehran, Afghanistan and Pakistan? What hopes does his re-election portend for the black race? What glow will it bring to the livelihood and survival of the ordinary American commons? What does it mean to that middle-class volunteer who’s going from door to door around America because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift? What hope will it bring to the black African migrant young boy on the south-side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner? Where will Obama’s presidency take that furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president?  — Questions, begging for answers — that only four years in time can tell.

All-in all, for those of us, who usually advocate for the commons’ will, who would sacrifice anything — just like Obama and Romney — to see that the yearnings and the needs of the common people are always fulfilled, it is yet another lesson in moderation to know that a polished people’s-politics with distinctiveness in leadership qualities and personalities must rank highest amongst the diminutive factors necessary to for a healthy true democracy and progress of the Commons.

FRESH WATER RESOURCES AND LIVELIHOOD

November 12, 2012

Fresh water is one of the world’s most critical resources, in many areas around the world it is under threat. Some places may be approaching the point of ‘pick water’ and therefore requires conservation effort for this critical resource to be sustained, without damaging the environment, economy and public health. All over the world, an estimated 2.8 billion face water shortages or scarcity by 2025. Local communities are left unable to cope with this challenge as it directly threatens their very livelihood. Fresh water resources have been affected by population growth, global warming, large scale agriculture, industrial manufacturing and waste water disposal. This is evidence of the fact that we are heading for a fresh water crisis.

The industrial use of fresh water resources and the disposal of waste water have been an issue of concern. Industries do not only create increasing competition among water users, waste water from manufacturing industries is a source of environmental pollution. Water pollution and sanitation are issues that are not only affecting the available fresh water sources, but also have huge repercussions for both local communities and the environment.

The Pacific region of Asia has in the last decade emerged as the world’s largest consumer of natural resources including water. In this region the distribution of fresh water resources remains a critical. Changes to global weather pattern and climate change is causing drought and floods in different areas in this region. These changes have cause increase challenges for efficient water resource management, not only for water managers, policy makers and business corporation (industrial and agriculture), but also for local communities whose very survival depends on this resource.

In 1999, Bolivia attempted to privatize water supply under the pretext of improving the management of a critical resource, this action met with stiff resistance that led to a popular uprising in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city. In its efforts to privatize all public enterprises the Bolivian government sold the airline, train service and electricity utility. When the policy was extended to water and sanitation system in Cochabamba, it ignited a water war.

The increase in water tariffs which follows and the combined effect of new legislation eroded local control over water sources that for centuries belong to the community. The uprising, spread over several months, finally forcing the government to terminate the contract. In April, 2000, water privatisation came to an end in Cochabamba city, following the privatisation in 1999.

The Cochabamba water war is not just a Bolivian story, wherever water is privatised, local communities lose control of a vital resource that is critical to their existence. Often this is accompanied by excess price increases to achieve profit targets and a lack of transparency. This raises questions over the wisdom of current initiatives for water privatisation, as promoted by international financial institutions. Community based initiative is therefore required to influence change, for the interest of the community. This is on the assumption that local solution will lead to improve sustainability. Water security is therefore expected to be one of the many global security concerns in the 21st century. The international community must intensify its effort to promote the issue of fresh water security, as part of a global policy.

FIFTY SHADES OF COMMONS AND ENCLOSURES

November 12, 2012

Ever since the Enclosure Act occurs in Britain since the 18th century, what is quite striking the most about the irony of the Commons is the inherent magnitude at which Capitalists and the monetary markets had been succeeding in manipulating and influencing the ranks and files of the Commons’ relationships. I find it particularly upsetting having to condone the notion of a few wealthy men owning over ¾ of the land and, also historically, or rather manipulatively, winning the vote on tax haven instead of the many peasants at the mercy of daily survival struggles, that earns them nothing closer more than ‘pennies-above-their-bread’.

If anything there would be — the events that gave muscle to the start of the industrial revolution took its roots from the activities undertaken by, and the incidents that led to, many of those peasants and poor labourers having to migrate to urban centres as they are being continually forced by landed aristocrats from their ‘village commons’ while enclosing it as their own properties. Reflecting back now, I do really think that, that ‘perverted’ practice of fencing-off common pastures and dispossessing the poor from their common-space could be likened to our contemporary experience of government interference and their ‘behind-the-scene’ policies and controls of social media and the creative commons in the UK —- a definitive indication that enclosures is still very much in the corners of the heart of contemporary governance, who daily struggle to poise themselves as open, fair and popular with regard to issues of social justice and equity.

Before I mention any expose of the newest social-media craze (most especially with facebook and twitter) that is presently blazing through the Internet, and the magnitude at which people are securing invites to the websites in droves, let me quickly note that although, there is something sometimes good about social media and sometimes there’s not. Creative Commons, especially those prevalent within the social media circuit were created, often, and most especially, to share software documentations, personal manuals, pieces and other innovative stuffs that can benefit collaborative works. Using these materials in an open interactive field within this learning conception, anyone using the software’s and manuals can extend the piece with their own original knowledge, and share further so that everyone benefits.

By using Creative Commons License, it becomes much easier to use or copy other people’s entire contents without modifications, so long as the authors are referenced and a link of the original source is acknowledged for the records. Although commercial use may not be allowed — changing a context, a line or an entire paragraph, or just simply adding several other parts of the documents or materials can still be encouraged — all in a spirit of promoting creative or knowledge commons (or in which ever parlance we want to call it), however, what we are experiencing today is a different ball game —there is a thin line and difference between USE and ABUSE — by simply using something with common sense, logic and without having to seek or exploit legal loopholes could count for proper use — anything beyond that can be discerningly regarded as an abuse, as evident in the deluge of cases of Internet trolls being spied upon by government agents and the Police.

What a lot of us versatile development students who follow current affairs and trends do know is, that in those days precluding the mad rush for social-media craze, only a few know that commons abuse was so plain and lucid that even some of the most determined supporters of enclosures find a way of demurely denouncing it emphatically, just like the 17th century English Levellers. But in this era of ‘fifty shades of everything’, the present challenge is how do we now begin to position ourselves as rural internet rebels hedging out and promoting enclosure riots? — A food for thought for all Enclosures and Commons students.

Greece: crisis, struggles, commons

November 7, 2012

Check this video out, made by the global uprising group. You’ll have a sense of how a country can fall in the midst of a massive economic crisis and big capital imposition of austerity measures, while at the same time, struggling and bringing down governments and developing alternatives.

‘’BIOPIRACY’’: A Modern form of Enclosure

November 7, 2012

The survival of Indigenous people have been threatened by logging, dam projects, urbanization, large scale agriculture and industrial expansion, sometimes leading to conflict. Issues ranging from economic globalization, to climate change, all have an impact on the survival of indigenous people and environmental sustainability. In the last two decade, Biological Piracy (Biopiracy) has emerged as an issue of concern among indigenous communities and conservationists, as biological resources which were once held in common become property of multinational corporations.

Quite recently, due to the growing influence of pharmaceutical industries local/indigenous communities are losing control of their forest and biological resources. They have been stripped off their right to use, control and manage these resources. In other parts of the world, such as India, Brazil, Thailand, and Malaysia, multinational companies have been accused of participating in what has come to be known as “biopiracy”. Biological resources used by indigenous communities for many generations have been patented away, leaving the local people deprived of their own way of life, without any forms of adequate compensation.

Farmers and indigenous peoples are outraged that plants that they developed and protect have being ‘hijacked’ by pharmaceuticals companies. It is with little surprise that diverse groups are now intensifying their campaign against corporate patenting of living things. A global opposition to biological piracy’ is creating awareness about big corporations reaping massive profits from using knowledge and biological resources of indigenous communities. There is growing public outrage about the granting of patents for products that uses genetic materials, plants and other biological resources that have long been identified, developed and used by farmers and indigenous peoples. Whilst the corporations stand to make huge revenues from this process, the local communities are unrewarded and in fact face the threat of losing control of the environment that holds their very survival in the future.

The knowledge and use of ‘biodiversity’ for centuries resides with farmers and indigenous people, who have shared their knowledge and plants freely. Yet through patent applications, the companies are now claiming the exclusive right to produce and sell ‘modified’ versions of plants and animals, with no regards to the people that own these resources. Indigenous communities now forced to pay high prices for materials, which they in some cases, have developed and preserved. The knowledge, innovation and efforts of these communities are not acknowledged when legal ‘intellectual property rights’ systems grant patents on genetic and biological materials to corporations. This injustice is now a course for concern to farmers, indigenous people and public interest groups. Legal concerns have been raised on the phenomenon of ‘biopiracy’ and indigenous groups and farmers are also getting together to protest these developments. Recently, legal challenges have been filed against Patents granted on Biological Products.

For centuries, indigenous people have accumulated important knowledge about the use of botanical/biological resources for traditions remedy and cure. This was and is still part of the culture that defines who they are and their ways of life. It allowed indigenous people to work with nature rather than destroy it. For the fact that they are dependent on their natural

DISPOSSESSION OF THE COMMONS: The Case of Indigenous Communities

November 7, 2012

As economic globalization continues to spread, the very existence of Indigenous people around the world is constantly under threat. The increasing need for natural resources: land, minerals, forest, water and a whole variety of other resources, Indigenous communities continue to lose control of their environment. This problem is worst in developed countries, wherein indigenous rights are not only denied, their voices have also been silenced. Governments do not only ignore such issues, but also prevent any open debate or discussion on them.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs’ (IWGIA) world report titled: ‘The Indigenous World 2006’, detailed the struggles of indigenous people around the world. . In many large countries, indigenous people are few and live in isolated areas, which give an indication of the global nature of the problem. The report mentioned that throughout the world indigenous people sit on the ‘frontline’ of global expansion. They live in the most remote places with abundant resources of forest, minerals, water and biodiversity. In their ferocious search for their resources, global corporations are pushing indigenous people off their land and dispossessing them of their very livelihood.

A 2008 Population distribution in the Arctic region shows that indigenous people remain a minority and their population is decreasing in proportion to the non-indigenous population.  This region is one of the most desolated and sparsely populated areas on the planet, with limited economic opportunities and very hostile climatic conditions.  Though they are a majority in their local communities,’ indigenous people are a tiny minority of the national population. This makes them particularly vulnerable to effect of migration by non-indigenous population into their communities as a result of economic expansion, industrial development and increase competition for resources.

The exploitation of natural resource such as forests for logging, dams, crude oil, mineral extraction and large-scale agriculture have been successful in generating vast revenues for multinational corporations across the globe. But the impact on minorities and indigenous peoples has been astronomical, especially when we consider the human cost. The annual publication, ‘State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012’, documents hundreds of case studies about marginalized groups who have been adversely affected by exploitation of the resources found on, or under, their ancestral lands. This publication also looked at the struggle for land rights by indigenous people around the world.

In both the global North and the global South, the poorest minorities and indigenous peoples live in some of the most resource-rich regions of the world. From the Oil and mineral rich Aboriginal Australian to, the lush African mines, coastal areas of Central America and the dense forests of India’s tribal peoples, minorities and indigenous peoples have lived in these areas for centuries and even millennia yet have been denied their rightful ownership. While the revenues of natural resource development are filtered out of these regions the minorities and indigenous peoples who live there are left dispossessed.  While the profit from these ventures is taken away the harms stay behind.

Environmental Sustainability by Protection

November 7, 2012

As part of a collective approach to tackling global environmental problems, the UN Millennium summit recognised the need to include environmental sustainability among the eight Millennium Development Goals. This declaration provides a platform for international Cooperation on the threat of global degradation.

But in as much as this is a welcome development, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that the environment is really protected. The international corporations whose activities, are exacerbating global degradation, must first take responsibility, and cut down the very activities that are affecting the environment and livelihoods. Furthermore, governments around the world must take decisive actions not only in making policies and legislations, but also to provide the mechanism to implement them.

The demand for natural resources has put increased pressure on the forest.  In addition to the impact of mining and oil exploration on the environment, illegal logging is one of the biggest threats to environmental sustainability through deforestation. As a result, the work of protecting these forests must be a priority to individuals, communities and governments alike. In recent years, this has been left largely in the hands of community volunteers and Conservation groups. These groups work with little or no government protection, which has exposed them to brutal attacks, leading to deaths and displacement, from agents of illegal logging.  Incidents like this have the potential to trample on common Rights, which are not protected by Human right.  The real ‘tragedy of the commons’ is the conflict between those wanting to protect the environment and those exploiting it.

Progress towards reducing illegal logging in Brazil, for instance, has been hampered by the brutal murder of environmental campaigners. This in itself is an enclosure of the commons.  Brazil had made considerable progress in halting the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The area of forest lost has been reduced from 10,500 square miles in 2005 to 2,300 miles in 2010.

Protecting the world’s forest remains one of the daunting challenges of environmental sustainability. The reason being that the majority of these forests remain out of reach to most environmentalists and conservationists. Government environmental officers only visit these areas, as part of armed operations, escorted with helicopter. Those who venture to live in these forests to protect them face the daily threat of been killed or kidnapped.

As part of the overall strategy for environmental sustainability, Governments all over the world must create appropriate policy and legislative frame work to provide robust forest patrol and protection for those who volunteer to protect the environment. In order to carry out our mission to protect the environment,  greed and capitalism has to be kept out of our forests. The good news is that has recognised Indigenous People’s right to use, own and control of their traditional lands and territories

women in the workplace

November 6, 2012

Women in the workplace

Gone are the days when women stay at home to take care of the family and the men bring in the money for the family. Due to urbanisation, women are now seen in the workplace. Sometimes, these women are harrassed, victimised or even exploited. Take for example, Bangdelesh. This is a country where the women are seen as a powerful economic force. It has opened the way for major issues due to this fact. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/nov/05/urbanisation-bangladesh-women

Globalisation: A threat to global commons

November 5, 2012

Globalisation in the oxford dictionary is defines as
“The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale” (Oxford University Press, 2012) http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/globalization .
The Global commons are the resources that belong to everyone and should be freely accessible. Examples of global commons are water and air (oxygen). These are a part of nature and price tags should not be placed on them.
If we look at the definition of globalisation closely we will notice that like most public affairs in the world of today, it has business in it. Globalisation like everything else in the world of Capitalism has an economic foundation. Globalisation is about making profits, profit maximisation. Industrialisation, Modernisation or Globalisation, call it what you want has more disadvantages than advantages.
What has been the result of Globalisation?
• Green house effect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zLuqSYF68E)

• Depletion of the ozone layer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nra9nAO4_PE)

• Climate change (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHP9Rh-ooh0)

• Spread of diseases especially infectious diseases quicker i.e. HIV/ SARS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH9_hZ9uomk)

• Air pollution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1nta1DOfHM)

Counter arguments state that globalisation is good because it offers
• Improved trade within the global company
• Countries have developed (i,e China) India etc
• Technology innovation
• Easy access to different countries
Globalisation is good to some extent, however we need to manage it by ensuring that there are minimal effects on the global commons. The global economy does not need to be in the middle of everything we do.
There needs to be a change in our mindset. We need to place the global commons in the middle of every global transaction we make.
We need to start asking the questions
• What will the impact of our actions have on the environment?
• What will the impact of our actions have on people?
• Are we making sustainable decisions?