Tuesday, August 28, 2012

United Nations called upon to mediate Syria's humanitarian crisis

UN urged to act toward improved Syria humanitarian access
The United Nations Security Council is being asked by aid agencies and global leaders, including The Elders, to take action to deliver humanitarian assistance to more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians being "held hostage to the ongoing deadlock at the political level," the groups said in a letter. Among the few aid groups operating there is Doctors Without Borders, which announced Tuesday that a seven-person team, in secret, has been treating rebel fighters and civilians. Wounds have worsened since security forces increased use of heavy weapons. Reuters (8/21) The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (8/21) AlertNet/Reuters (8/21) BBC (8/21

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

World Humanitarian Day 2012

The World Humanitarian Day site provides examples of how we can do something good for someone else. These examples include: helping someone with their groceries, making a homeless person a sandwich, mowing your neighbors yard, or even cooking a new mother a meal. So much of our day-to-day happenings occur in our self-contained bubbles. We’re either hustling to work or picking up the kids from camp or using tunnel vision while grocery shopping or yelling at the jerk in front of us in traffic. As a community of human beings we don’t take enough time to simply find the good in others by doing something good for them. Today is about doing good just because we should.

This may not sound like a big deal but those enlightened to the power of social media cause campaigns can tell you, this is huge. Social media cause campaign expert, Clarence Wardell III, PhD. shares, "We're seeing the power of large collections of individuals in online environments to make a significant impact on policy and humanitarian related causes. Going forward, particularly through organizations like Causes, Change.org, and HopeMob"

Beyoncé performing "I Was Here"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Decision Protects Health of Future Generations

Court upholds EPA rules on climate pollution

Landmark legal decision will protect public health.

Protecting future generations is at the heart of why Environment Defense Fund supports greenhouse gas limits.

In a major victory for clean air, a federal appeals court in June 2012 upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s first nationwide protections limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles and large new industrial sources. The decision deals a decisive blow to companies and states that have fought for years to delay steps to address climate change.

“This ruling confirms that EPA’s common sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law,” said EDF president Fred Krupp. “This landmark decision will help secure a healthier and more prosperous future for all Americans.”

The U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed an array of lawsuits from industry groups and states such as Texas and Virginia that would have undermined vital clean air protections.

“This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

The science-based foundation for EPA’s emission limits on climate pollution was the so-called Endangerment Finding, in which EPA determined that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions constitute a danger to public health and could thus be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

The court upheld three related regulations as well:
  • Clean Car Standards, which is aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks while improving fuel efficiency.
  • The Timing Rule, which addresses the timetable for large new industrial sources to deploy best-available cost-effective pollution controls for greenhouse gases.
  • The Tailoring Rule, which focuses the requirement to implement the best-available controls on new, large industrial emitters (like power plants) first while shielding smaller emitters.
In a unanimous opinion, the three-member panel of the appeals court, led by Chief Judge David Sentelle (a Reagan appointee), found that EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act provisions in question was “unambiguously correct” and that the agency had based its case on careful research and sound science.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is it FOOD or GAS?

Food Shortage
Washington, Aug 6 (Reuters) -

Drought in the U.S. farm belt may result in higher prices for poor people around the world, according to the head of an agricultural think tank who on Monday also recommended a halt to ethanol production from corn.

Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, said the global spike in food prices in 2008 showed how poor crops and tight supplies have wide impact. IFPRI is the analytical arm of a coalition of agricultural research facilities.

Fan suggested six steps to rein in prices and head off out-of-control prices caused by this year's drought.

More than 60 percent of the continental United States, including prime grain territory, is under moderate to exceptional drought. The Agriculture Department was scheduled to make its first estimate of the fall harvest on Friday. Some private analysts say the corn crop could be the smallest in a decade.

"Food crop demand for biofuels, particularly in the United States and European Union must be cut substantially, as should mandates for ethanol content in fuel, to help relieve the pressures on both domestic and global food markets," Fan said in a release.

Ethanol production accounts for about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop.

He also urged nations to avoid export bans, to be ready to use their stockpiles to address food emergencies, and continued aid to expand food production in developing countries.

The United States is often the world's largest exporter of corn, wheat and soybeans, so this year's drought would be felt among its overseas customers as well as at home, where food prices are forecast to rise. For example, Mexico and Egypt are among the four largest buyers of U.S. corn, said Fan.

"Poor and vulnerable groups in developing countries are hard hit by high and volatile prices of the agricultural commodities they depend on for their primary daily caloric intake," Fan said. "As experienced during the 2007-08 global food price crisis, price movements in domestic markets can have significant impacts on global markets, and vice-versa."

World food prices fell for the past three months and are 15.4 percent below the record set in February 2011 on a price index calculated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO was scheduled to update the index on Thursday. FAO said deteriorating U.S. crop prospects bolstered grain prices in late June. (Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Monday, August 6, 2012

When will we put down our weapons of war?

During the treaty negotiations, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged members of the UN Global Arms Committee to “work in good faith”.  Each year, 750,000 innocent people fall victim to armed conflict and violence as a result of illicit arms trading, boosting corruption and generally undermining development throughout the poorer parts of the world.

The UN Global Arms Treaty sought to establish common standards for global arms trade, to regulate a $60 billion dollar trade in conventional weapons: a six-year campaign organized by non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam.

The treaty deadline was July 31.  No agreement was reached, due to the fact that any draft treaty must be approved unanimously - effectively giving all countries the power of veto. If a treaty is vetoed, it moves to the 193-member UN General Assembly for adopted with a two-thirds majority. 

The United States has long opposed reporting ammunition exports in any treaty, in addition to the bipartisan group of 51 US senators threatening to oppose any agreement that infringed on the constitutional right to bear arms.  China does not want small arms included, and both Russia and China have also sought restrictions to references to humanitarian law.
Many leading arms markers had reservations about any international deal. The U.S. and Russia are among the world's largest exporters of weapons, as well as China, Germany, France. Other countries expressing concerns about the treaty package were Syria, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Algeria. 
We cannot be both the world's leading champion of peace and the world's leading supplier of the weapons of war. Jimmy Carter

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What Mother Earth has suffered

We, the peoples of Earth: 

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth gives us life, nourishes and teaches us and provides us with all that we need to live well;

recognizing that Mother Earth is an indivisible community of diverse and interdependent beings with whom we share a common destiny and to whom we must relate in ways that benefit Mother Earth;acknowledging that by attempting to dominate and exploit Mother Earth and other beings, humans have caused severe destruction, degradation and disruption of the life-sustaining communities, processes and balances of Mother Earth which now threatens the well-being and existence of many beings; www.rightsofmotherearth