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Sunday Roundup: Abyei, WOZA, Rwanda, DSK, Cannes


Today is International Day for Biological Diversity. The UN General Assembly expressedits deep concern about the continuing loss of the world’s biological diversity, and reaffirmed the commitment to the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and the appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and technologies, and by appropriate funding.’

It’s always baffling when stating the obvious seems, unfortunately,  necessary…

Not a good day for the environment but neither it is for #Sudan: Northern Sudanese troops appeared to have seized the contested town of Abyei on Saturday night, a UN spokeswoman said, increasing fears of conflict as the country’s south prepares to become the world’s newest country. We can read on this article: ‘Southern Sudanese army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said Saturday that the northern army was bombing the area near Abyei from the air for a second day. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan issued a statement earlier Saturday calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Abyei and urging the north and south to protect civilians in the areas where fighting may be ongoing.’

Southern Sudan’s independence has created apprehension of a resurgence of attacks for the control of disputed Abyei region. According to AFP, ‘France sharply condemned Sunday the Sudanese government’s seizure of Abyei and demanded it withdraw its forces from a town ceded by Khartoum under a 2005 peace deal.’

Not sure it will scare Omar Al Bashir

Market is vast for ‘conflict minerals,’ but damage to Congolese life is high. This is how starts the article about #Congo written by Heather Murdock for The Washington Times. The author writes: ‘In the remote Congolese countryside, a war that technically ended eight years ago still rages. Villages are looted, women are raped en masse, and children are forced to fight. At the same time, the region is one of the poorest in the world — and one of the richest. It is estimated that $24 trillion worth of minerals lies underneath Congolese soil, while 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Those minerals did not start the war, but they pay for the weapons and perpetuate the conflict.’

Again, it’s always baffling when stating the obvious seems, unfortunately,  necessary…

A follow up on #conflict minerals. Last week I mentioned the great work done by Investors Against Genocide. Their last action is explained in this article: Genocide and JPMorgan Chase — Ad Campaign Launched by Investors Against Genocide and according the Change.Org there is some good news: Genocide-Free Investing Gains Momentum at JPMorgan Chase. ‘The shareholder proposal stated that the problem of investments tied to genocide “is particularly important” to JP Morgan shareholders because JPMorgan “has been a large holder of PetroChina for years” and noted that a recent filing by JPMorgan showed holdings of 1,070,760,070 H-shares, worth $1.3 billion. The proposal further stated, “PetroChina, through its closely related parent, China National Petroleum Company, is internationally recognized as the worst offender helping fund the Government of Sudan’s genocide in Darfur.”

You want to help? Sign the petition: JPMorgan Chase: Stop Investing in Companies that Support Genocide.

Even more good news, in #Rwanda: One Laptop per child project (OLPC) gains ground.  ‘One laptop per child project run by the Ministry of Education was initiated in 2009 with a commitment to deploy 100,000 laptops across the country. Statistics indicate since project inception 65000 laptops have arrived in Rwanda of these 60000 already have been deployed, 35K more are expected by November 2011.

I can already hear some people say: ‘Isn’t there something more useful to do before deploying laptops across Rwanda?‘ And my answer would be, as always:  First, do something instead of criticizing. Second, tall oaks from little acorn grow.

Now #Zimbabwe. You can get arrested for depicting horror in your art just like Zimbabwean artist #Owen Maseko, or for protesting about electricity supplies. Sokwanele posted about it: ‘Six members, all women, were arrested along Khami Road in Bulawayo and detained at Western Commonage police station between 8 and 9pm Wednesday. The women are from Iminyela and Pelandaba suburbs. The members were arrested by police officers who accused them of painting messages on the road. The messages read- ‘power to poor people’ ; ‘no lengthy load shedding’ ; ‘prepaid meters now!’; focus on the electricity crisis in Zimbabwe.’

Those courageous women in Zimbabwe should have all our support, the article also says WOZA, a women’s movement identify electricity supply as directly targeting the role of a woman in the home and that 14 members were tortured while in custody in March 2011. Respect.

Women. In my previous roundup: Unhappy China, JPMorgan Chase, Jal, I mentioned the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and this week the guys at the Sama Gazette published a very good article about him, saying: ‘At this point, we of course can’t deny Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s rightful presumption of innocence but we must not forget there is also an alleged rape victim […] We hope things will calm down but we hardly think they will. Tomorrow he will appear in court at a new bail hearing, and maybe a trial will take place in the coming weeks or months. Whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn is found guilty or not, let’s hope the explosive political and social atmosphere will cool down soon…‘ This is exactly what I think.

I have read some interesting articles I wanted to share with you: on Foreign Policy, Affairs of StateThe French public may claim to be above prying into the personal lives of their leaders, but Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest isn’t the first time a politician’s sex life has made headlines. Also: French women attack misogyny in Strauss-Kahn caseAngry French feminists say local media have been awash with male chauvinist comments since the arrest of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges he attempted to rape a New York hotel maid. And another very good article by Lizzy Davies published on The Guardian : How Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest awoke a dormant anger in the heart of France’s women.

Again, the point is not to deny Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s presumption of innocence but many things are still left unsaid, wrongfully tolerated and incomprehensibly accepted in France. Maybe it’s time for a real change.

Support and believe in women and their strength. That’s what #Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn‘s book #Half the Sky is about. In my post: Half the Sky: Moving Individual Stories To Engage People, I explain how I organized a reading group and how the book inspired the readers. This week I’ve learned that ‘ITVS (Independent Television Service), along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has made a significant investment in Half the Sky, a primetime television special and multi-platform project based on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s widely acclaimed book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide‘. Don’t miss it!

Remember last week when I talked about Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung and the fact they edited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director for Counterterrorism Audrey Tomaso out of Situation Room photo? This time, former Brooklyn Paper writer Erica Sackin airbrushes the men out of the photo. You can see the result here. Thoughts?

I conclude this news roundup with two short reports by Rebecca Leffler during Cannes Film Festival: Campaigning for peace on the CroisetteChanting monks representing the Dalai Lama of Tibet have descended upon Cannes. Manuel Collas de la Roche, of Lotus Productions, tells Rebecca Leffler why the monks are here and unveils his latest project. And: Paul Haggis brings charity to CannesStars are giving charities high visibility at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Acclaimed screenwriter-director Paul Haggis is one of them. He’s on the Croisette to raise money for his charity “Artists for Peace and Justice”, which helps the children of Haiti.

Another side of what is also happening during Cannes Film Festival. It’s not only about movies and ‘wannabes’, but also about #Tibet and #Haiti.






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