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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kiva, sounds like hope

Kiva, Loans that change lives. The microloan groundswell that began just 2 years ago is making a difference one loan at a time to small business and individuals worldwide again this year with record numbers of small lenders like you and your neighbor investing as little as $25 at a time.

Kishwer Azam's family business is just one of many helped by these peer to peer loans. Over the months to come we'll report back regularly on how the micro loan has fullfilled its purpose and the experiences of those involved.

From 7 P.M. EST Christmas evening it took less than 45 minutes for the Azam family's loan to be granted from lenders in British Columbia to Columbia, Maryland.

Kishwer's story

I have one son and live with my family in Multan, a medium-sized city in Pakistan. My son is too young to attend school. My husband operates a fruit business that he would like to expand. He is requesting a loan of $250 for this purpose. He intends to buy seasonal fruits in bulk with your loan. We hope we will able to give our child a sound economic future.

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7:50 PM

Friday, December 14, 2007

War hurts... more than just lives

War hurts, we've looked at the environmental impact of war many times before this and it's notable that the U.S. Army now mandates a response to the impact of warfare operations on the environment through the U.S. Army Environmental Command, USAEC initiative, but elsewhere war goes on, other countries other conflicts and the record over the years has been dismal, the effects, catostrophic. From the destruction of Dresden during WW II to "Agent Orange" deforestation in Vietnam, the results of man's institutionalized homocide is often equally an act of ecocide.

Modern warfare tactics, as seen in Vietnam, the Rwandan and Congolese civil wars, and the current war in Iraq, have greatly increased the world’s capacity to destroy our natural landscape and produce devastating environmental effects on the planet, according to Sarah DeWeerdt, author of "War and the Environment," January/February 2008 issue of World Watch.

Wartime destruction of the natural landscape is nothing new; however the scope of destruction seen in more recent conflicts is unprecedented. "For one thing, there is the sheer firepower of current weapons technology, especially its shock-and-awe deployment by modern superpowers. The involvement of guerrilla groups in many recent wars draws that firepower toward the natural ecosystems-often circumscribed and endangered ones-where those groups take cover," writes DeWeerdt.

The deliberate destruction of the environment as a military strategy,known as "ecocide” is exemplified by the U.S. response to guerrilla warfare in Vietnam. In an effort to deprive the communist Viet Cong guerrillas of the dense cover they found in the hardwood forests and mangroves that fringed the Mekong Delta, the U.S. military sprayed 79 million liters of herbicides and defoliants (including Agent Orange)over about one-seventh of the land area of southern Vietnam. By some estimates, half of the mangroves and 14 percent of hardwood forests in southern Vietnam were destroyed during Operation Trail Dust, threatening
biodiversity and severely altering vegetation.

Less deliberate, but still devastating, were the environmental effects that stemmed from the mass migration of refugees during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Nearly 2 million Hutus fled Rwanda over the course of just a few weeks to refugee camps in Tanzania and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, making it the most massive population movement in history. Approximately 720,000 of these refugees settled in refugee camps on the fringes of Virunga National Park, the first United Nations World Heritage site declared endangered due to an armed conflict. The refugees stripped an estimated 35 square kilometers of forest for
firewood and shelter-building materials. The dense forests also suffered as a result of the wide paths clear-cut by the Rwandan and Congolese armies traveling through the park to reduce the threat of ambush by rebel groups.

The long term ecological effects of the current war in Iraq remain to be seen. Looking to the effects of the recent Gulf War as a guide, scientists point to the physical damage of the desert, particularly the millimeter-thin layer of microorganisms that forms a crust on the topsoil, protecting it from erosion. Analysis of the area affected by the Gulf War has already shown an increase in sandstorms and dune formation in the region and one study suggests that desert crusts might take thousands of years to fully recover from the movement of heavy vehicles.

"Warfare is likely to have the most severe, longest-lasting effects on protected areas that harbor endangered species, and slow-to-recover ecosystems such as deserts. Even in the most fragile environments, sometimes nature-and people-can surprise us," writes DeWeerdt. "But turn and look in another direction and you are likely to see warfare's enduring scars."

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6:28 PM

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gore's Nobel lecture, calling for a new time table

For those present in Oslo today to hear Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture it may have seemed the Nobel Laureate was in fact preaching to the choir but the fact is, the assembled audience was no ordinary choir; heads of state, scientists and activists like Uma Thurman one would expect should not be surprised by Gore's rhetoric, he's been warning the world about global warming for almost 20 years now and that is the message he reiterated today with one difference.

Gore called for a revival of the moral determination that allowed the "Greatest Generation" to defeat Fascism last century, Gore challenged world leaders to overcome their squeamishness, take up the role of leadership and come away from the Environmental Congress in Bali next month with a new resolve to wage war on global warming.

Saying, "We must step up our efforts to counter global warming just as the cumulative effects of the warming process have accelerated," Gore suggested the schedule for full compliance with the Kyoto Accords be put forward to 2010 rather than the current goal of 2012. Gore went on to insist that the leaders at the Bali Conference should step up and individually take responsibility for the accords even suggesting that as a body they ought to meet every 3 months until the agreement is ratified.

Of course, Gore is a politician first and foremost but that doesn't automatically disqualify him from leading the discourse on global warming as some of his critics suggest; political leadership should in fact be the staging point for any mass movement not just war and revolution, civil reform and humanitarian resolve too can have their roots in political soil.

Gore said most correctly that the world must face the fact that the global environmental crisis is not just science and statistical measurement but rather a real process seen in the changing fortunes of the world's economy and the harsh reality of an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Gore's particular talent and the one he will be remembered for rather than his political leadership will be his ability to have connected poverty, disease and rising global tension to the state of a diseased, threatened environment and having the moral courage to say that you can not fix one without addressing the other.

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8:57 AM

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The color of AIDS

In the United States, HIV/AIDS is no longer just a disease affecting white, gay men. The percentage of cases of women living with HIV has tripled in the past 20 years, and women of color are most affected. Yet outdated perceptions about the epidemic drive government prevention work, from the way data is collected to who gets tested.

On this edition, those on the frontlines of the grassroots HIV/AIDS movement bring the discussion about HIV risk up to date. They say generating more relevant prevention models is literally a matter of life and death, especially for women of color.

Greener Magazine

Click to playFeaturing::

Silvia Martei, HIV positive woman in Oakland, CA; Naina Khanna, W.O.R.L.D. community outreach coordinator; Silvia Lopez, Co-Founder of the Women Rising Project; Waheedah Shabazz-El, ACT-UP Philadelphia member, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project and Philadelphia FIGHT community organizer/trainer; Kenyon Farrow, Prevention Justice Mobilization Communications coordinator and Queers for Economic Justice board member; Ginger Virago, harm reduction specialist and Saint James Infirmary board member and case worker at “Positive She,” a University of San Francisco program for HIV-positive women; Esther Lucero, San Francisco Native American AIDS Project HIV case manager; L. Nyrobi N. Moss, Sister Love sexual health educator; Dazon Dixon Diallo, Sister Love intervention specialist founder/chief executive officer; Lisa Diane White, Sister Love program manager.

Senior Producer/Host: Tena Rubio
Managing Show Producer: Pauline Bartolone
Associate Producer: Puck Lo
Contributing Producer: Noah Chandler
Interns: Samson Reiny, Joaquin Palomino and Elena Botkin-Levy

Bonus Audio::

At an October 22nd, 2007 Washington, DC press briefing called "Women and AIDS: Federal HIV-reporting policy and its impact on women," HIV organizations spoke to the need to make changes in the Centers for Disease Control's HIV surveillance system:
Colin Flynn, Chief of Surveillance and Epidemiology at the Maryland Dept. of Health and Hygiene's AIDS administration, presented the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists HIV surveillance position paper.

Carrie Broadus, Executive Director of the Women Alive Coalition, presented the National Women and AIDS Collective (NWAC) position paper.

Emerging radio producers Renita Pitts and Shanina Shumate created this 10-minute web segment:
Fighting AIDS in Oakland, a report on AIDS and African-American women featuring the voices of U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dr. Robert Scott, Anita Schools of Women Overcoming Life Threatening Diseases (WORLD), Bishop Dr. Yvette Flounder, and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

For more information::

Sister Love
PO Box 10558
3709 Bakers Ferry Road, SW
Atlanta, GA 30331
404-505-7777; 866-750-7733

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
PO Box 22439
Philadelphia, PA 19110

414 13th Street, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
510-986-0340 x306

Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project
32 Broadway, Suite 1801
New York, NY 10004

Prevention Justice Mobilization

St. James Infirmary
1372 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Native American AIDS Project
1540 Market Street, Suite 130
San Francisco, CA 94102

Truth AIDS
PO Box 147
New York, NY 10035

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333

National Association of People with AIDS
8401 Colesville Road, Suite 750
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Philadelphia FIGHT
1233 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Queers for Economic Justice
16 West 32nd Street, #10H
New York, NY 10001

Additional information::

Black Coalition on AIDS
2800 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

The Philadelphia AIDS Consortium
112 North Broad Street, 9th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Prevention Point Philadelphia
Trans Health Information Project (TIP)
166 Lehigh Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19133

AID Atlanta
1605 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

Harm Reduction Coalition
1440 Broadway, Suite 510
Oakland, CA 94612

New York State Black Gay Network
103 East 125th Street, Suite 7E
New York, NY 10035

HIV/AIDS Amongst Women

Ms. Foundation
The National Women and AIDS Collective

For a free video contact::
HIV Positive Voices


De La Soul - "Hey Love Love"
Ghetto Muffin - "Tsanana"
Unknown Artist - "Balm in Gilead"


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