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Renewable Energy Rises in Russia: The Early Steps

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 23:56
By Woodrow W. Clark II and Dimitri Elkin(*)

As renewable energy becomes more widespread, its "green" transformational impact can be seen in some of the most remote corners of the world. Here are two recent examples from Russia, a country not typically associated with the green energy industrial revolution. The EU countries, Asian nations and now China are all embarked on this green revolution. While the USA just started, Russia is moving ahead with its own green renewable energy industrial transformation.

Consider Oktyabrsky which is a small fishing village in the Far East on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, with a population of 1,685 that is next to one of the richest fishing areas in Russia, the Sea of Okhotsk that teems with salmon and crab. Oktyabrsky is also one of the most remote areas of Russia. The weather is harsh and unpredictable with frequent storms that batter the windswept shores and wet snow falls even in June. With global climate change, the weather is becoming even more severe. For local residents, reliable supply of electricity is key in their struggle to survive. For decades, Oktyabrsky's sole source of electric power consisted of several noisy diesel electro-generators that require prodigious amounts of fuel. Supply ships come only during the short summer navigation, and during long winter months, the shortage of fuel is a constant worry. Burned diesel exhaust energetically pollutes the air and water in what largely remains, for now, a pristine natural reserve. The fossil fuel is expensive, which accounts for the largest expense line item in the municipal budget.

In 2014, an unlikely sight appeared on the shores of Oktyabrsky. Several hundred feet high, Danish made wind generators were installed as part of Russia's ambitious plan to develop alternative renewable energy in the Far East of the nation. The appearance of these twenty-first century engineering marvels, against the bleak landscape of the post-Soviet desolation, was nothing short of surreal as the photo shows. But there was nothing phantom about the impact of the new industrial installation. Wind power now covers 30 % of the local Oktyabrsky electricity needs, thus reducing fuel expense and boosting reliability of green energy supply along with its less carbon and greenhouse emissions in the air and water. In an economically depressed area where the last new construction occurred decades ago, the small wind farm was a sign of life returning to one of Russia's most remote regions. The wind turbines are now the local residents' favored spot for wedding pictures and that site will hopefully soon be embroidered with new environmentally sound buildings, walk and bike paths, parks and areas for relaxation.

Here is another significant renewable energy story from another region. Lying beyond the Arctic Circle is Batagai, which is a small village in Eastern Siberia with a population of 3,800. Established during the Soviet times next to rich deposits of tin, it has the dubious honor of being one the coldest spots in the Northern Hemisphere, with recorded temperatures of minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This village is surrounded by marshy tundra and is reachable by car only during the winter. In the summer, roads turn into lakes, and for several months the residents live off the stored supplies of food and fuel. However, the one source of power that is plentiful during summer time is sunshine: the sun stays up in the sky 24 hours a day!!!

In June 2015, Batagai became an unlikely place where a notable advance in the field of renewable energy took place. Solar energy systems made a big step forward. The first stage is a solar farm with the target capacity of 4 MW that was opened by RAO Energy Systems of the East, a Russian energy utility company. Energy savings are immediate and considerable. Over several hundred tons of fuel are no longer needed to be hauled many miles across the frozen tundra. The solar plant also put Batagai on the map of global renewable energy achievements, especially as this is one of the largest solar power facilities located above the Arctic Circle.

These are just two small examples that illustrate an emerging trend in Russia: renewable energy installation popping up all over the country. Many of these energy producing facilities are much smaller than the massive solar farms now in US states of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, Japan and China, but their significance goes beyond their size. It is a sign that Russia has joined the global revolution in renewable energy power sector but for local on-site power at the local communities and cities, which are one of the key bases in the Green Industrial Revolution.

Renewable sector starts to move ahead with a powerful push from wind and sun
Despite signs of progress, Russia's solar and wind sectors are still in their infancy. By the end of 2015, Russia will have only 60 MW of solar power plants operating, a fraction of the 21 GW already installed in the US. Russia's wind power is doing somewhat better, with 1.7 GW of wind projects operating, but this is still tiny compared to Germany's 30 GW of wind power. The reasons for the slow progress are well known since Russia has plentiful supplies of hydrocarbons, including natural gas that allows the nation to keep domestic prices of energy very low.

Russia's image as an ecologically ignorant oil superpower is so well established that it may come as a surprise that during the Soviet period, Russia had many groundbreaking achievements in the renewable energy sector. For example, in the 1930s, USSR was the first nation in the world to construct utility-scale wind turbines. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union opened an ocean tidal electric plant and took the lead in building geothermal power plants. There are currently around 100 MW of geothermal power plants operating in Russia, and about 55 MW of more geothermal planned additional capacity in the near future.

Whatever progress the Soviet Union made with renewables, it was derailed by Russia's economic upheaval during the post-Soviet period (1991-2014), when electricity production fell by one third, creating plenty of spare capacity. During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-2000) when the USSR transformed into a new Russia, and then the first two terms of Vladimir Putin (2000-2008), the Russian government was preoccupied with delivering economic growth without considering its impact on the environment through the exploiting and exporting of coal, oil and now natural gas.

Today, after a decade and a half of economic growth that started in 2000, Russia's electricity production recovered but the old Soviet capacity has been used up. The social attitudes are also changing. Russia, just like other BRIC nations and developing countries around the world, is seeing a burgeoning middle class who now worries about their environment. And with the recent declines of the cost of renewable power, including solar panels, these renewable energy systems now seems a feasible solution for many energy consumers in Russia.

With its diverse geographic area that stretches from Arctic Circle to the subtropics, Russia sees an especially compelling opportunity for on-site power from renewable energy that is distributed through the country in cities and communities. Such "agile" (i.e., flexible) systems have been a key factor in the development of renewable energy in other countries. An increasing number of nations and regions around the world is adopting progressive environmental and economic policies similar to those started in 2004 in California.

While many areas of Russia will probably remain dependent on gas and coal for the foreseeable future due to central plant energy distribution, there are plenty of communities like Oktyabrsky and Batagai in Russia where renewables make economic and environmental sense.


(*) Dimitri Elkin is a Russian-American businessman and writer. He is a graduate of Moscow State University and Harvard University. His book Russia Turns the Page - Historical Sketches of the End of the Post-Soviet Period was recently published in Moscow.

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Hillary Clinton's Emails Give A Glimpse Of The Revolving Door

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 23:40

WASHINGTON -- During her trip to the United States in June 2010, Umit Boyner, the head of a Turkish business association, hoped to shed light on U.S.-Turkish relations from a private sector perspective. She spoke at an event sponsored by the Brookings Institution and met with Phillip Gordon, a top State Department official in charge of European and Eurasian affairs.

But perhaps her biggest get was a meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The meeting didn't come about by luck. Rather, it was the product of old-fashioned revolving-door lobbying, the type that makes clear why big firms pay high prices to put former public officials on their payroll. 

On May 5, 2010, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), wrote to Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, about a possible meeting for Boyner with the secretary of state. After leaving government service, Gephardt had founded his own lobbying shop and also did consulting work for bigger firms. In 2007, The New York Times reported that he was a top lobbyist for Turkey.

"I have been asked by the Turkish Embassy, who I represent, to request a meeting with Secretary Clinton for Mrs. Umit Boyner, a prominent Turkish business woman," wrote Gephardt in his email to Mills. "Such a meeting could be whenever and wherever you determine most convenient for the Secretary -- either in Washington, DC or Turkey." 

The message was one of the thousands of emails the State Department released Monday night from Clinton's private server, which has been the subject of so much controversy over the past few months. 

Mills forwarded the email to Gordon and Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan. Gordon replied that he thought the meeting was worth doing: "Recommend she do it. In fact we had arranged for a meeting in March but Ms. Boyner's trip was cancelled. We can send up a new meeting request."

Mills then sent the exchange to Clinton and asked if she was fine with it; she replied, "Ok."

Gephardt's message didn't necessarily change Clinton's agenda, but the high-powered connections made it easier for Boyner to get access.

Gephardt and Clinton haven't always had the closest relationship, however. Historian Taylor Branch quoted Clinton calling Gephardt an "asshole" in his 2010 book, The Clinton Tapes. When someone reminded her that Branch was recording the conversation, she reportedly shrugged and said, "Well, he is." 

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The Life Of Yogananda: Guru, Author Of 'Autobiography Of A Yogi'

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 22:51

Paramahansa Yogananda was a renowned yoga teacher, guru and author of the beloved spiritual text, Autobiography of a Yogi. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship, a spiritual center in Los Angeles, in the 1920s, and it has since expanded into over 500 temples, ashrams and meditation centers around the globe. 

AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is a new documentary that invites the public to take a deeper look at the man who reportedly initiated Mahatma Gandhi in the practice of Kriya Yoga and whose famous book Steve Jobs had distributed at his own memorial service.

Read an excerpt below from the film's companion biography by the same name, to be released September 1, 2015.

The following excerpts are from the biography of Paramahansa Yogananda featured in AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, the companion book to the documentary of the same name.

Paramahansa Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India, into a devout and well-to-do Bengali family. From his earliest years, it was evident to those around him that the depth of his awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary.

Both his parents were disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, the renowned master who was instrumental in reintroducing Kriya Yoga in modern India. When Yogananda was an infant in his mother’s arms, Lahiri Mahasaya blessed him and foretold: “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.”

In his youth Mukunda sought out many of India’s sages and saints, hoping to find an illumined teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest. It was in 1910, at the age of seventeen, that he met and became a disciple of the revered Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In the hermitage of this great master of yoga, who himself had been a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, he spent the better part of the next ten years….

At their very first meeting, and on many occasions thereafter, Sri Yukteswar told the young disciple that he had been chosen as the one to disseminate the ancient science of Kriya Yoga in America and worldwide.

After graduating from Calcutta University in 1915, Mukunda took formal vows as a monk of India’s venerable monastic Swami Order, at which time he received the name Yogananda (signifying bliss, ananda, through divine union, yoga)….

Yogananda began his life’s work with the founding, in 1917, of a “how-to-live” school for boys [in Ranchi], where modern educational methods were combined with yoga training and instruction in spiritual ideals….One day in 1920, while meditating at the Ranchi school, Yogananda had a divine vision showing him that now was the time to begin his work in the West. He immediately departed for Calcutta, where the next day he was invited to serve as India’s delegate to an international congress of religious leaders convening later that year in Boston…. 

The young swami arrived in Boston in September 1920. His first speech, made to the International Congress of Religious Liberals, was on “The Science of Religion,” and was enthusiastically received. That same year he founded Self-Realization Fellowship to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India’s ancient science and philosophy of yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. …

For the next several years, he lectured and taught on the East Coast; and in 1924 he embarked on a cross-continental speaking tour. Reaching Los Angeles in early 1925, he established there an international headquarters for Self-Realization Fellowship atop Mt. Washington, which became the spiritual and administrative heart of his growing work.

From 1924–1935, Yogananda traveled and lectured widely, speaking to capacity audiences in many of the largest auditoriums in America — from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium. The Los Angeles Times reported: “The Philharmonic Auditorium presents the extraordinary spectacle of thousands...being turned away an hour before the advertised opening of a lecture with the 3000-seat hall filled to its utmost capacity.”

Yogananda emphasized the underlying unity of the world’s great religions, and taught universally applicable methods for attaining direct personal experience of God. To serious students of his teachings he taught the soul-awakening techniques of Kriya Yoga, initiating more than 100,000 men and women during his thirty years in the West.

Among those who became his students were many prominent figures in science, business, and the arts, including horticulturist Luther Burbank, operatic soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, George Eastman (inventor of the Kodak camera), poet Edwin Markham, and symphony conductor Leopold Stokowski. In 1927, he was officially received at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge….

In 1935, Yogananda returned to India for a last visit with his great guru. (Sri Yukteswar passed away on March 9, 1936.) ….It was during this year that Sri Yukteswar bestowed on him India’s highest spiritual title, Paramahansa. Literally “supreme swan” (a symbol of spiritual discrimination), the title signifies one who is established in the ultimate state of union with God….In late 1936 he returned to America, where he remained for the rest of his life.

During the 1930s, Paramahansa Yogananda began to withdraw somewhat from his nationwide public lecturing so as to devote himself to the writings that would carry his message to future generations, and to building an enduring foundation for the spiritual and humanitarian work of Self‑Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India.

Under his direction, the personal guidance and instruction that he had given to students of his classes was arranged into a comprehensive series of Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons for home study.

A beautiful hermitage overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Encinitas, California, had been built for the Guru during his absence in India.…He also founded several Self-Realization Fellowship temples (Encinitas, Hollywood, and San Diego)….


 Yogananda’s life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, was published in 1946 (and significantly expanded by him in subsequent editions). A perennial best seller, the book has been in continuous publication since it first appeared and has been translated into many languages. It is widely regarded as a modern spiritual classic.

In 1950, Paramahansaji….dedicated the beautiful SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, enshrining a portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes in the ten-acre lakeside meditation gardens that have since become one of California’s most prominent spiritual landmarks.

Paramahansa Yogananda’s final years were spent largely in seclusion, as he labored intensely to complete his writings — including his voluminous commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the four Gospels...He also worked extensively with Sri Daya Mata, Sri Mrinalini Mata, and a few other of his closest disciples, imparting the spiritual and organizational guidance that would enable them to carry on his worldwide work after he would be gone.

On March 7, 1952, the great Guru entered mahasamadhi, a God‑illumined master’s conscious exit from the body at the time of physical death. He had just finished giving a short speech at a banquet honoring India’s ambassador to the United States, Dr. Binay R. Sen, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles….

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Daily Meditation: Spiritual Beings

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 22:49

We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these Daily Meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life.

Today's meditation features a video of spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer, who died on Saturday, Aug. 30. In the interview clip, Dyer says that we are all spiritual beings and that healing may come from within.


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FIFA Ruling Leaves Teenage American Soccer Starlets Stranded In Europe

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 22:25

Ben Lederman still gets up early for school every morning so he can be finished in time for soccer training. He still practices, every day, at La Masia, the famed youth academy of F.C. Barcelona. He still spends much of his time at a place where he occasionally crosses paths with stars like Lionel Messi.

But Lederman, whose entire family moved to Barcelona from California in 2011 hoping he would someday become the first American to play for the elite club, has not been allowed to play in an official game for Barcelona’s youth teams in more than a year. When FIFA penalized Barcelona last spring for what it called illegal international transfers, one less publicized piece of the fallout was the talented youth players like Lederman, playing abroad at clubs all over the world, who soon found their player registration cards revoked (or impossible to renew) as clubs and federations hurriedly hewed to eligibility rules they had long ignored.

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Toddler's Impassioned Rendition Of 'Les Mis' Classic Goes Viral

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 22:03

A toddler's viral rendition of "Do You Hear The People Sing?" is earning accolades from parents, "Les Misérables" fanatics and even Broadway stars. 

Mom Erin Frehner uploaded this brilliant video of her 3-year-old son Koen passionately belting out the famous anthem -- with his own adorable touches. Koen sings lines like "The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of Fwwwwance!" with enough fervor to make anyone want to join the revolution. 

The video has over 260,000 views on YouTube, and even the famous Jean Valjean actor Alfie Boe has taken note. "This is amazing. A future Enjolras," he tweeted.

We're hoping Koen gets his chance on the Broadway stage a little bit sooner. Heck, he'd make a great Gavroche.

H/T Today

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Why Germany Will Undergo Radical Change This Year

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 21:50

Not long ago, the world was looking upon our nation with admiration. During the soccer World Cup in 2006, Germany seemed like a cheerful university dorm; a place that welcomes strangers, where everybody can party exuberantly. In the following years, Germany even turned into a role model. While our European neighbors slid into recession, jobs were created here. Young people from all over the world came, because the future looked brighter here.
But then came the summer of 2015.

Suddenly Molotov cocktails were flying into asylum-seekers' hostels. Within the first six months of this year, there have been around 200 attacks on refugee hostels. In July and August alone, the Federal Criminal Police Office reported 131 similar attacks by right-wing extremists. Additionally, verbal and physical attacks against foreigners in subways are increasing, and in one especially gross reported case, Nazis publicly urinated on the kids of a refugee family. Hundreds of them demonstrate in front of refugee shelters like in Heidenau, Saxony, even yelling at Angela Merkel during her visit to one of the shelters, calling her a "traitor to her people," an especially vile term of Nazi propaganda.

It is shocking that something like this should happen in Germany. Because it has nothing to do with the nation that many of us are experiencing daily. It doesn't fit the cosmopolitan atmosphere of bigger cities like Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich.

This open, increasingly loud hatred against foreigners is mostly a small town phenomenon -- places with high unemployment, limited opportunities and a dangerous right-wing scene, in which the attackers are protected by others. One suspect in a recent attack, in which a refugee shelter was torched, is a fire fighter. A little later he helped to extinguish the fire.

Diapers are stacked in a holding area at Munich Hauptbahnhof main railway station on September 1, 2015 in Munich, Germany. (Lennart Preiss/Getty Images)

For years, media and politics have overlooked and underestimated how powerful the right-wing movement has become in some parts of Germany. They have ignored the fact that small towns in the East German states are "culturally controlled almost entirely by right-wing extremists": with murals in the style of the Nazi period, references to Hitler's birthplace, and an atmosphere of fear exaggerated by the far right extremists. In these towns, the right-wing culture dominates everything from high school to the carpenter's shop.

But there are also attacks on asylum-seekers' quarters in the South and West of Germany. Therefore, the radicalization of parts of German society is not a purely East German phenomenon. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution understands this as a threat, a new form of right-wing terrorism.

Sometimes, I just want to wake up from this nightmare. Is this really the country in which I want to raise my child? It is a country that I haven't known until now? My wife comes from Great Britain and has Indian roots. She came here and received a warm welcome from everyone -- like thousands of other immigrants. In our life, this other, ugly Germany didn't exist before.

Now, a small dissatisfied group has dismissed a broad cultural understanding: That, being one of the richest countries on earth, Germany is obliged to help people in need.

People line up to wait for registration at the reception center for refugees and asylum-seekers in central Berlin , Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

That is something we need to talk about. Forty percent of refugees coming to Europe, come to Germany. According to recent estimates of the government, it will be 800,000 people this year. That equals the number of people living in Frankfurt, Main. Many Germans are scared of that.

Many of these "concerned citizens," as they like to call themselves, are not concerned about the refugees. They worry about themselves. They are scared of economic decline, scared of old age poverty. Scared that something will be taken away from them.

And now they have found the reason for their fear: Refugess that come to Germany to take the last couple of Euros and benefits away from them.

The preachers of hatred and extreme right parties, which have mostly flown under the radar until now, use this fear. They have found their audience. They use the Internet to goad on the scared masses. They spread fake articles about refugees, who allegedly come at German school girls, only to later exploit our social system. According to these hatemongers, politicians and the press lie, so they construct their own reality. Following their sick logic, there is a "will of the people" that justifies violence against foreign fellow citizens. Therefore, we are not only experiencing one of the worst waves of right-wing terror since World War II, but also a gruesome peak of xenophobic propaganda.

To be clear: These people are a minority. There is no powerful anti-immigrant party in Germany either -- like there are in Denmark or Sweden. However, this could change, if the dangerous and vocal minority became more powerful, due to a lack of opposition. For a long time, the majority of Germans has been looking on in disbelief. Like Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been silent about the attacks against asylum seekers for way to long, many were hoping that the rage would pass like a heavy thunderstorm. To the contrary. The silence of the majority worked like a combustive agent. Suddenly, the minority were feeling like the majority. In the beginning, not enough people spoke up in this heated debate. The Huffington Post Germany was one of the first media outlets to take a clear stance: In a big feature story, 200 politicians, actors, professors, students and retirees stated:
"Welcome, dear refugees. We're glad you are here."

Whoever dares to take the refugees' side will really get to know this country's ugly side. We were pelted with emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls. They spoke of "dirty riffraff," "gas chambers" to solve the refugee problem, stating that refugees will bring nothing but "violence and diseases" to Germany.

But finally, a counter movement is forming now.

Students, actors, managers, bloggers and politicians are collecting clothing donations, getting involved in provisions for the refugees and using social media to oppose Nazi stupidity with strong arguments.

They see the situation for what it is: An extreme challenge for all of us.

"REFUGEES WELCOME". Banners draped across Germany's football stadiums this weekend. (@markito0171) pic.twitter.com/fJYq0xXrXe

-- Jack Moore (@JFXM) August 30, 2015

Even the tabloids dispel myths about refugees. Only a couple of years ago they poisoned the atmosphere with questionable "truths" about immigrants.

But this can only be the beginning. Next, we will be faced with an enormous integration challenge. By now, this has also dawned on Angela Merkel. In Monday's press conference, she compared the integration work of the coming years with the effort invested in "building up the East" after the German reunification.

In the coming months and years, we have to re-integrate two minorities at once: On one side, there are the refugees staying with us long-term and on the other side are the "concerned citizens," representatives of the culture of fear.

It's likely that the second group will be more difficult.

This is a historic challenge. How we master it will decide on where this country will be headed. It all boils down to the question: Does Germany want to remain the cheerful World Cup country that many of us would like to live in?

This blog post first appeared on HuffPost Germany and was translated into English.

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Stunning Camouflage Artist Turns The Human Body Into A Canvas

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 21:21

Our bodies are permeable shields, protecting our glorious, gushy insides from harm's way. They act as the barrier between our guts and veins and blood and the many wonders of the external world. Of course, get a little creative with your paint set, and this seemingly fixed blockade becomes far more muddled. 

Take performance artist and photographer Cecilia Paredes, for example. The Peruvian artist -- now based part time in Philadelphia -- weaves herself into the fabric of her surroundings using painstaking repetition and attention to detail. The chameleon artist becomes one with her surroundings, camouflaging herself against various mosaics, carpets and crumpled bunches of fabric. 

Paredes' hypnotic photo performances will soon be on view in Texas in an exhibition titled "Cecilia Paredes: The Wandering Flight." As the title implies, the show centers around the universal desire to fly -- and the ideas of freedom, rebellion and catharsis associated with such an act. Melding her body with unnatural representations of natural forms, Paredes toys with the common equations of nature and reality. "I think that in these works, aesthetics bind with the anthropologic in order to register fragments of personal and social memory," the artist explained in a statement.

Erasing the line between body and background, throwing what's real into question in both the artist and her backdrop, Paredes rips off the stable ground beneath her viewers' feet, in a way, inviting them to fly. 

"The Wandering Flight" is on view from Sept. 3 until Oct. 10, 2015 at Ruiz-Healy Art in San Antonio, Texas.


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Kosovo's Battle for Clean Air and Energy

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 21:00

Last year, $28 billion was collectively spent on climate finance from six large multilateral development banks (MDBs). That's no small feat, but 2,100 new coal plants slated for construction worldwide threaten to push us over our global 2°C carbon budget: 276 gigawatts are currently under construction and another 1,000 gigawatts are in different planning stages. These are numbers that should elicit additional energy investment scrutiny.

The World Bank serves as an ever-important actor at the intersection of development policy and investment, and will continue to play a critical role in executing clean energy strategies in the least resource-rich regions of the world. However, a particular proposal for a 600-megawatt coal-fired plant in Kosovo challenges the World Bank's broader objective to finance low-emissions energy development and may result as one of the "rare exceptions" to its pledge to stop funding new coal projects overseas.

A pending decision to fund this coal-fired plant in Kosovo is generating intense debate. The Kosovo C plant in question would be the third lignite coal plant in a country that produces approximately 98 percent of its energy capacity from coal. This is cause for concern. According to a 2012 World Bank report, air pollution in Kosovo causes 835 premature deaths, 310 new cases of chronic bronchitis, 600 hospital admissions and 11,600 emergency visits each year. And while the Kosovo C project has stagnated for over a decade -- accruing millions of dollars in sunk costs -- it is now undergoing its final environmental impact assessment, and the World Bank will likely vote on whether to authorize the project in fall 2015.

Local environmental advocacy groups like Kosovo's Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID) and international groups like the Sierra Club are advocating for cleaner, cheaper energy alternatives to the proposed plant. These groups point out that the proposed Kosovo C plant fails to comply with the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan. Moreover, the Sierra Club states in a report that the World Bank's "expert panel failed to adequately address several areas of non-compliance with the Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change (SFDCC) criteria. Specifically, the Kosovo Power Project does not meet the SFDCC criteria with respect to: development impact; assistance for low-carbon alternatives; assessment of efficiency options; assessment of externalized costs; and potential support for incremental costs."

The World Bank's proposed coal-fired power plant also complicates Kosovo's future as a potential member state of the European Union. This is because the country would struggle to meet ever-increasing EU renewable energy standards. At this stage, it is fair to question what it will take for Kosovo and the World Bank to reach an inflection point and consider more economical alternatives to coal.

Moving Kosovo Towards a Low Carbon Economy

For the past four years, the World Bank has eschewed investments in new coal facility generation, which is unequivocally a positive development. However, the proposed brown-coal fired plant uses one of the lowest grades of combustible rock, producing more carbon dioxide emissions and volatile matter than any other grade. In addition, it would be located only six miles from Pristina, Kosovo's most densely populated city. In this light, the Kosovo C Plant threatens to roll back recent gains the World Bank has made in its commitment to financing cleaner energy.

I visited Pristina in 2012, and it was clear then that the public health threats are real. Reckoning with the thick fetor of coal and the feeling of inhaling diluted soot when walking around town was an unfamiliar challenge. At the end of my trip, I had the luxury of being able to leave the city, but for the 198,000 residents who live in Pristina, long-term exposure to particulate matter build up is an everyday reality.

Back in California, a region with the some of strictest air quality requirements, Dr. Daniel Kammen, a UC Berkeley professor and former World Bank clean energy consultant, makes the case for adopting clean energy in Kosovo. In each scenario that his team modeled, they found that coal is more expensive to produce in the region than an amalgamation of renewable energy sources, such as: wind, solar, biomass, hydropower and potentially geothermal energy. "While the Kosovo story itself is significant, all of the nations in this part of Eastern Europe are dealing with 1950's Soviet era technologies and are seen by some as a region of laggards, but really this could be a region of clean energy leaders," said Dr. Kammen, as he addressed an audience of academics and professionals at an event in February. Right now, Kosovo sits astride vast potentials for alternative energy sources; it's just a matter of taking the first step.

Ten years ago, coal was the most affordable resource used to create energy security for Kosovars, which may be why the World Bank first considered the Kosovo C coal plant. Today, Kosovo has access to cost-effective clean energy alternatives that both address energy security and create new vehicles of economic growth in the face of climate change. With the average coal-fired power plant lasting up to 50 years and causing an array of local environmental and human health issues, I hope this isn't the energy legacy the World Bank wants to leave behind in Kosovo.

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Taiwan Metro Card With Picture Of Porn Star Yui Hatano Sells Out

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:59

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- A special edition swipe card for Taiwan's mass transit featuring the clothed image of a Japanese porn star sold out within hours overnight via a telephone hotline, despite a storm of opposition.

Taiwan's EasyCard Corp. said on its website that it sold its full run of 15,000 card sets by 4:18 a.m. Tuesday after phone orders started at midnight.

The stored value cards - also used for convenience store purchases - feature images of Yui Hatano, a 27-year-old Japanese woman who local media say likes Taiwan and wants to help the card company's charity donation scheme.

Hatano, also popular in Japan, is pictured from the elbows up and clothed. A pose on the cards' wrapper appears with the word "angels" and another is accompanied by the word "demons."

Critics, including parents, politicians and women's advocacy groups, campaigned against the cards, saying the images disrespect women and send inappropriate messages to children. Many stores declined to sell them, and the company ended up offering them via telephone hotline only.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, whose government is a 40 percent investor in the swipe card company, had asked that the cards avoid being "openly sold," such as at convenience stores or metro stations, deputy city spokesman David Huang said.

"The city government believes that because a controversy exists, there's no need to do this sale," Huang said Tuesday.

Taiwanese went for the cards because they look up to Japanese culture, one metro rider said. "It's culture worship, like when you're young and collect cards with cartoon stars like Doraemon," she said.

Japanese cultural icons commonly appear in children's books and on items such as stationery and smartphone cases. With nearly 3 million arrivals last year, Taiwanese rank as the top source of tourism to Japan, which was also its colonizer for five decades before the end of World War II.

The 15-year-old swipe card company, which has sold more than 20 million cards including co-branded editions, apologized online for the dispute and pledged to do an internal review.

"In the future we will continue to strengthen public service and social responsibility," the company said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

Local media say proceeds from the $15.4 card set sales will go to charity. Company spokespeople were not available for comment.

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Pilot Programs in Central, South America Find New Ways To Reduce Extreme Poverty

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:46

This fall is a pivotal time for the international-development community. We are shifting from a Millennium Development Goal that challenged the world to halve the global extreme-poverty rate, to a Sustainable Development Goal that asks us to build on that momentum and work toward a true end to extreme poverty.

Make no mistake, this will not be easy. We will need sustained, shared growth, with a special emphasis on agricultural growth in the poorest countries. We will need programs and policies that are equitable, ensuring that every child has the same opportunities to succeed in life, and that all citizens are able to benefit from fiscal and social systems and representative institutions. And we will need to ensure that those who live in extreme poverty, and those who are vulnerable to falling back in, are protected when global or local markets fail, and when disease and drought persist in their communities.

But alongside this, we will also need new ways of thinking about old problems. Although the global community made enormous efforts to meet MDG 1 five years early, it will be increasingly difficult to reach those who still live in poverty as the world works toward an end to poverty by 2030.

This week, I am in London at the International Behavioural Insights Conference, which focuses on a promising area of work that can help us more effectively impact the lives of those entrenched in poverty. The 2015 World Development Report on Mind, Society, and Behavior put a spotlight on how the stresses on those living in poverty can make existing barriers to their pathways out of poverty even harder to overcome. Now is the time to take this from theoretical study to practical application.

Fortunately, as a recent study on the chronic poor in Latin America shows, it is not always necessary to develop expensive, brand new programs: it is possible to integrate behavioral insights into existing programs, making small, cost-effective modifications that can help reach people who are left behind by traditional programs. Here are a few examples:

  • In rural Nicaragua, a program that provided business grants and training explicitly encouraged group interactions, creating a unique space for beneficiaries and local leaders to connect. This small modification had a big impact: it improved aspirations and business performance, increasing non-agricultural income by US3.30 per capita and the average value of a household's animal stock by US12. These may seem like small numbers, but consider the context: with the average baseline income from non-agricultural activities at 8.75 per capita, the additional income that can be attributed to social interactions and increased aspirations is quite significant -- 40 percent.

  • In Bogotá, Colombia, a pilot program looked at how stress shapes the way people see the future. Beneficiaries of a bi-monthly Conditional Cash Transfer program were randomly split into two groups. One group received the full payment as usual twice a month. The other received only two-thirds of the payment twice a month; the last third was put instead into a savings account and disbursed as a lump sum in December, just before children's school fees were due. This simple modification of timing was effective: while both payment schemes had similar impacts on school attendance, the "save for when you need it" approach made money available to parents when they most needed it, resulting in higher school re-enrollment rates.

  • In Peru, a program tackled the issue of financial inclusion and savings behavior. Early results showed that helping poor families open savings accounts was not enough to increase their savings rates. To address this, the program experimented with mobile text messages to encourage people to save more. Standard reminders, such as "remember to save" worked, increasing savings by six percent relative to those who simply had a savings account. Even more effective, however, was combining the reminder with goal-specific messages like "Remember to save so you reach your own savings goal of 20" -- this simple phrase increased savings rates by 16 percent.

Right now you might be asking yourself, "if this approach works, why isn't it used everywhere?" Simply put, it is not as easy as it looks to apply behavioral interventions broadly; they have to be tailored specifically to the different groups in different regions that make up the poorest of the poor. What we know was successful in Bogotá, for example, might not work in another Colombian city, let alone in a city across the world. So, one way to take this on is to make sure that policies and programs have the flexibility to address these differences, and to adopt successful approaches that work for the communities they are trying to benefit.

This is just one of the innovations that will move us toward achieving the World Bank Group's goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, a goal that now has the full weight of the international community behind it as we adopt the first Sustainable Development Goal. The challenge of reaching those remaining in poverty is daunting, but not insurmountable. It will be crucial for all of us -- governments, development institutions, local actors, civil society and NGOs -- to not only build on progress and effective policies and programs, but to also find new ways to move the world toward sustainable, smart, permanent poverty reduction.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

To find out what you can do, visit here and here.

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Tackle These Three Issues and Extreme Poverty Will Be History

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:45

Many people believe poverty to be one of the world's permanent features. Most find it hard to imagine that poverty could disappear altogether. But one of the most striking aspects of the modern global economy is the remarkable long-term decline in the world's worst forms of extreme poverty. We might actually be on the cusp of ending it.

The new Sustainable Development Goals, or "Global Goals" to be adopted by presidents and prime ministers at the UN later this month, will affirm the world's first formal target for actually doing so, by 2030.

To provide some context, over the past generation the share of humanity living on less than $1.25 per day (in purchasing-power parity terms), the technical benchmark for extreme poverty, has been dropping by roughly one percentage point per year. That rate of progress might seem pretty modest at first, but it translates to a decline from approximately 36 percent of the world living in extreme poverty in 1990 down to less than 12 percent today. These figures reflect the World Bank's most recent estimates, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Share of world living on less than $1.25 per day (PPP)
(dotted line indicates current trajectory to 2030)

Importantly, progress has been taking hold in every region. China has certainly driven a huge amount of the global gains. But even when excluding China from the calculation, the rest of the developing world is still estimated to be achieving, this year, the Millennium Development Goal to halve the rate of extreme poverty since 1990.

Many individual countries are recording tremendous achievements, including places once presumed to be "basket cases" without hope. In Ethiopia, for example, the share of people in extreme poverty saw a huge drop in only 15 years, from 63 percent in 1995 to 37 percent in 2010. The share in Cambodia plummeted from 32 percent in 2004 to 10 percent in 2011. Vietnam fell from 40 percent in 2002 to a remarkable two percent in 2012.

The overall progress is so great that, on current trajectory, the world's extreme-poverty rate will fall to around five percent of humanity by 2030, as shown by the dotted line in Figure 1. That represents extraordinary progress by any historical scale, although it also implies more than 400 million people still struggling to survive below the threshold. Of course trajectories should not be confused with predictions, and aggregate figures only tell one part of the story. Most worryingly, too many countries are still not seeing progress.

The pivotal question is therefore how to travel the last mile and get the numbers down to zero, everywhere. My best bet is that the challenge will boil down to tackling three big issues.

  • The first is the generalized challenge of boosting the farm-based economies of rural sub-Saharan Africa. This is fundamental because Africa is now home to the largest number of extremely poor people -- roughly 400 million today -- the majority of whom still live on farms. For many geographic and historical reasons, Africa remains the world's only region not yet to have experienced the initial jump in farm productivity that helps boost savings, investment, and ultimately even job prospects in cities. Some countries are showing early signs of such a "green revolution," but major government and business investments are still required to remove key hurdles.

  • The second issue is the complex challenge of promoting stability in societies struggling to escape downward spirals of conflict and poverty -- places like Burundi, Nepal, and Yemen. There are no silver bullets to any poverty challenge, but this one is probably the toughest. That said, countries like Cambodia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Vietnam all show that sustained development success is possible following protracted conflicts. Looking forward, one big part of a solution is to invest in resilience against economic shocks and even climate shocks. Compelling evidence shows that when the rains fail and crops fail, people are more likely to fight.

  • The third issue is perhaps the most exciting in its possibilities: deploying new technologies to provide subsistence-level income to every human being who needs it. There is growing evidence that one effective way to help people living with the smallest imaginable income is simply to provide them a bit of income. The digitization of money and fast-declining cost of sending it anywhere could open a world of new opportunities. Just as mobile phones proliferated worldwide over the past 15 years beyond most people's imaginations, over the next 15 years we might see mobile bank accounts and subsistence-income transfers made available to every person in the world who needs them. As with any big idea, hosts of subtleties need to be addressed in order for it to work. But the cost might amount to as little as 0.1 percent of global income.

Of course, these are just initial guesses as to how one of humanity's most epic long-term challenges might imminently be solved. One beauty of the new global goals is that they set a common reference for debate. In the coming years, we will likely discover new roadblocks alongside opportunities to jump forward. These should prompt ongoing course corrections as the world veers toward success. Thus the foremost priority as we set forth on these new global goals is ultimately very simple: to commit seriously, with open minds, to the imperative of actually reaching them.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

To find out what you can do, visit here and here.

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An Open Letter to the Generation That Will Grow Up With the Sustainable Development Goals

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:43

An open letter to a girl born into poverty in September 2015

I am writing to you because this month, the month of your birth, leaders from virtually every country are meeting about the shape of your future.

The 17 global goals they are committing themselves to achieving over the next 15 years -- the Sustainable Development Goals -- span everything from protecting the planet... to promoting a more peaceful world... to helping people everywhere live lives of dignity and security.

You can't yet know this, but every one of these goals is really about you. About the world in which you will grow up -- and the world you will leave someday to your own children.

Though all the goals are connected, the first goal -- ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere -- is especially critical. It is about you, your family, your neighbors.

It is about whether you -- and the more than 500 million other children who are living in extreme poverty -- will have what you need to make the most of your own life and contribute to your community and your society. About whether the gaps between your prospects in life and those who are better off are closing.

You have a right to all these things -- the same right as every child to a fair chance in life.

By committing to the global goals, the world is promising to do whatever it takes to give you that fair chance. But when world leaders come together this month, they will be doing more than agreeing to 17 goals. They will be coming together in common commitment to the hard, and sometimes politically difficult, work necessary to reach the global goals for every child -- rich or poor.

And I hope that someday, when you are old enough to know whether we are succeeding or failing, you will hold your leaders -- and all of us -- accountable. For if we fail you, we will fail ourselves.

An open letter to a boy not born into poverty in September 2015

Just a moment ago, I wrote a letter to another child. Like you, she was born in September 2015. Unlike you, she was born into extreme poverty. And as I write, the leaders of the world are committing to a set of global goals. The first one is to end poverty for her and for everyone, everywhere who is living in extreme need -- more than one billion in the world today.

But the global goals world leaders are agreeing to this month are not only for children living in poverty. The results they are trying to achieve will not only benefit people in need. They are universal goals -- reflecting universal rights, shared values and global challenges that affect every one of us.

Someday when you are old enough to be in school, as you read about the world, I hope you will not believe that our progress on these goals does not affect you. If hundreds of millions of children around the world are not lifted out of extreme poverty, your country's economy won't be as strong as it could be. If those children do not have more of a fair chance in life, society will not be as stable and prosperous, and your life will not be as secure and rewarding as it could be. And neither will the lives of your children.

That is one reason why the leaders of the world are agreeing to these global goals. And all of us -- including you -- must hold them accountable. By writing this, I am also challenging you to hold yourself accountable -- and to refuse to accept a world in which any child does not have a fair chance in life.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

To find out what you can do, visit here and here.

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How an Argentine Car Mechanic Might Prevent 250,000 Deaths

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:41

This month, world leaders will lock in the next set of global goals that will determine the development community's priorities over the next 15 years. Perhaps the boldest of all is Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1: end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Because poverty and health are so closely linked, improving health is a prerequisite to achieving this goal. But improving the health of the world's poorest people requires better tools that make care more affordable, accessible, and effective. This is where health innovations come in.

Health innovations were a big part of the 50 percent drop in deaths among children under age five -- going from 12.7 million deaths each year in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013. Vaccines. Bed nets. Vitamin A supplementation programs. Before these and other innovations were implemented, millions more children suffered and died from preventable and treatable causes.

Poor health still has a profound impact on the economic wellbeing of individuals, communities and entire countries. Sick children may never develop to their full physical or cognitive potential, and often earn lower incomes as adults. Families are burdened by medical costs and lost wages when a parent misses work to care for a family member. Too often, these factors push a family across the poverty line -- and keep them there. Multiplied across a country, the effects can ripple all the way through a nation's economy.

As the last 15 years show, breaking this cycle of poor health and poverty is within our reach. Our task now is to identify, develop and scale up the next wave of health innovations -- new solutions that are affordable, accessible and effective in low-resource settings and that empower families and communities to transform their own health and economic futures.

The IC230 Report Reimagining Global Health: 30 high-impact innovations to save lives
Graphic by PATH

Given the urgency of the challenge and limited resources available, we need better ways to identify innovations that will have the greatest impact. Innovation Countdown 2030, an initiative led by PATH, crowdsourced nominations from around the world of innovations with the potential to address the health needs of the world's vulnerable populations, particularly women and children living in poverty. Independent global experts analyzed submissions and selected 30 high-impact innovations -- devices, diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and therapeutics -- that could be game-changers for global health and the SDGs.

For example, a prototype device could help babies make their way through the birth canal during labor complications. This idea was conceived by a car mechanic in Argentina inspired by an online video about how to extract a cork from an empty wine bottle -- proving that innovation can come from anywhere in the world. Between now and 2030, this device could prevent an estimated 249,000 maternal and fetal deaths due to prolonged and obstructed labor.

There's also a new formulation of chlorhexidine -- a common antibacterial used in prescription mouthwashes. By preventing umbilical cord infections that lead to sepsis, chlorhexidine could save the lives of more than one million newborns over the next 15 years.

And there's an automated batch chlorinator, a rugged device that fits directly onto a hand pump or community tap and chlorinates water without electricity or need for manual operation. This technology could prevent an estimated 1.5 million deaths by 2030. That's a 16 percent reduction in child deaths -- from diarrhea mostly caused by unsafe drinking water. It is also expected to save a staggering US$1.2 billion in health costs that would have been incurred treating the diarrhea.

A device that automatically mixes chlorine into water in the correct proportions, regardless of the flow rate of the water.
Photo credit: Zimba

These are just a few of the promising innovations identified in this first report of the Innovation Countdown 2030 initiative.

Deepening the pipeline of smart innovations and taking them from bright ideas to affordable solutions is hard work and takes investment. As new investors, including those from private industry, philanthropies, and social impact groups come on board, leadership is needed from established R&D funders like the U.S. government to leverage and align funding. Policy and regulatory action will also be required to clear the way.

We know what's needed and what's left to do to have the greatest impact. Let's make it happen.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

To find out what you can do, visit here and here.

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Paving the Road to End Poverty Everywhere

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:39
Can you imagine a world truly free from poverty? What would the roadmap to get there look like?

The soon-to-be-accepted Sustainable Development Goals aim to pave this road, beginning with Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. I like an ambitious goal, and this is nothing if not ambitious.

But is it achievable? And, if so, what will it take to achieve it?

I believe it is, and I believe it is going to take an immense amount of collaboration and outside-the-box thinking to get there.

At the core of sustainably ending poverty is the ability of all people to meet their own needs in a manner that neither exploits others nor damages the environment.

At Heifer International, our focus is helping the smallholder farmers with whom we work achieve precisely what I have described above. And we do it for good reasons:

  • 75 percent of the world's poor live in rural areas, with most of them depending on agriculture for their livelihoods

  • Growth in the agriculture sector has been shown to be 2-4 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors

  • Achieving income gains in agriculture is no more costly than in other sectors

  • Smallholder farmers will largely be responsible for feeding the world's 10+ billion people in 2050

Investing in smallholder farmers not only helps eradicate the poverty in which they predominantly live; the benefits spill over into the health and wellbeing of the rest of the world's population.

Photo Credit: Heifer International

Yet smallholder farmers face a myriad of barriers preventing them from closing what we call "the gap" and achieving dignified livelihoods. Therefore, the investments we make must be targeted at eliminating these barriers. Three factors I would like to address are access to land, farm productivity and access to markets, and post-harvest losses.

A significant challenge for many farmers is land; specifically land rights. According to ActionAid, "Having the right to use, access, control, own, inherit, transfer and otherwise make decisions about land increases the ability of communities to feed themselves, earn a livelihood, adapt to climate change, and exercise their social, political and cultural rights."

We must support organizations like ActionAid and the Oakland Institute, which work to help vulnerable populations secure and maintain rights to the land they need to raise food for their families, their communities and the world.

A specific focus for Heifer International is helping farmers improve their crop and livestock productivity, as well as increase access to agricultural value chains, to foster self-reliance. In Nepal, for example, our Smallholders in Livestock Value Chains (SLVC) program, we are working to strengthen 138,000 families in the dairy and goat value chain enterprises. We are helping families improve their farm productivity by 50 percent and increase their incomes to at least $2,000 per year (Gross National Income per capita for Nepal is $730 per year). Moreover, our interventions through this project aim to decrease Nepal's reliance on imports by 30 percent for goat and 10 percent for dairy.

Following the earthquakes in the spring 2015, Heifer Nepal families quickly rebuilt their animal shelters, because of their livestock's rapid and significant cash-generating potential.

View larger version of the graphic here.

Graphic by Heifer International

With increased farm productivity comes an increased need for post-harvest food storage. Up to one-third of the food grown in the world is lost or wasted, which translates into massive losses in nutrition and income, as well as needless increases in greenhouse-gas emissions.

We need innovative solutions to reduce post-harvest losses. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) operates the SAVE FOOD initiative, in collaboration with donors, agencies, financial institutions and the private sector to tackle this growing problem.

Farming families must be able to provide for themselves, and they need livable incomes to do so. Secure access to land, increased productivity and access to markets, and innovative solutions to post-harvest losses are three important components to success. If we can help the world's 600 million smallholder farmers and herders achieve livable incomes through sustainable livelihoods, we will be well on our way toward reaching Sustainable Development Goal 1.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1.

To find out what you can do, visit here and here.

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Fulfilling Mandela's Dream

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:38
pIn February 2005, wrapped up against the cold in London's Trafalgar Square and wearing a magnificent fur hat, Nelson Mandela -- who had supposedly retired from public life -- gave one of the greatest speeches of this century or any other, a challenge that over the next month, as a new development agenda is adopted by the nations of the world, should motivate and inspire leaders and the millions who hold them to account. /pbr / br / p"Sometimes," Mandela said, "it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation." /pbr / br / pThe way to do so? By making poverty history, Mandela said, by recognizing that "Millions of people remain trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free."/pbr / br / pIn all the words that will be said in the next few weeks as we prepare for the U.N. to adopt a set of Global Goals for Sustainable Development, during all the demonstrations and concerts, the world will have failed if it does not take Mandela's charge to heart. /pbr / br / pThe 17 Global Goals amount to a set of organizing principles for a world hungry to act with courage and vision. They are a plan -- a strategy to rally around and a blueprint with which to build a world where kids don't go to bed hungry, where girls get the same opportunity to thrive as boys, and where people don't die of preventable diseases./pbr / br / pAll of these issues -- of health, and inequality, and gender opportunity, and many more -- are ones on which those who dream of a better world should campaign. But the Global Goals start with one overarching imperative, and are right to do so: This year, says the first goal, we will commit to ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. /pbr / br / pThe gobsmacking audacity of such an ambition prompts two questions. First: can it be done? And second: why would one want to commit oneself to such a thing? /pbr / br / pThe good news is, yes, it can be done. We know what works. The last quarter of a century -- a period I've dubbed a href="http://time.com/author/michael-elliott-2/" target="_hplink" The Age of Miracles/a -- has seen the greatest reduction in absolute poverty that humanity has ever known. Much of that, everyone understands, has been because of the extraordinary development of the Asian economies and societies, and anyone who has lived in east Asia -- as I have -- knows the sense of wonder that comes from the almost palpable improvement of families' lives as economies grow. /pbr / br / pBut it isn't just Asia. As we increasingly understand the key investments needed to end poverty and encourage economic growth -- in health, in agriculture and nutrition, in education, in improving the life chances of women and girls, in vital infrastructure -- so one can see poverty in retreat from favelas in Brazil to villages in Burundi. /pbr / br / pGetting to zero, to be sure, will be hard. The last billion of those living in extreme poverty will disproportionately live in places where conflict, violence, and everyday insecurity blight progress. War zones are poor zones. To answer the old song's question: There's nothing funny about peace, love and understanding. They make for a better life. But here, too, there are grounds for optimism. Despite the horrors and the headlines with which we are all familiar, war and violence are in retreat as a defining characteristic of our world./pbr / br / pSo if we bcan/b eliminate poverty -- and we can -- why should we bind ourselves to do so? /pbr / br / pThe conventional reasons are familiar. Because a more prosperous world is a safer world, one where young men and women don't have to go off and fight to protect their families, where the turmoil of tough regions doesn't spill over into the lives of those of us lucky enough to live in more placid climes. Because ending poverty is a self-perpetuating cycle: it creates more opportunity not just where it has happened, but everywhere else, as trade and investment grow. /pbr / br / pBut Mandela, as so often, got to the real answer of why we should seek to eliminate poverty. /pbr / br / pWe should do so because its continued existence is a stain on our shared sense of what it means to be human. Looking the other way while millions live in avoidable poverty means that we are acquiescing in something that diminishes ourselves; it means accepting that nothing other than an accident of geography -- the place where your mother gave birth -- determines how (and whether) you live. /pbr / br / pMandela knew better. "Like slavery and apartheid," said Mandela in Trafalgar Square, "poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice." /pbr / br / pWe should heed Mandela's lesson./pbr / br / pThis fall we should -- as we can -- commit to ending poverty. And we should do so for the sake of justice. /pbr / br / piMichael Elliott is President and CEO of ONE, the global advocacy organization working to end poverty and preventable disease. /i/pbr / br / br / piThis post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, b"What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals,"/b in conjunction with the United Nations' a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/"Sustainable Development Goals/a (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's a href="http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/"Millennium Development Goals/a (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/whats-working/"solutions-oriented journalism/a, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 1./i/pbr / br / piTo find out what you can do, visit a href="http://www.globalgoals.org/"here/a and a href="http://action2015.org/"here/a./i/p p-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terms.html/'terms./a It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website./pbr clear='all'/br/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/1/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/1/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/2/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/2/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/3/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/rc/3/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/a2.htm"img src="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/a2.img" border="0"//abr/a href="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/ach.htm"img src="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/ach.img" border="0"//aimg width="1" height="1" src="http://pi.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/a2t.img" border="0"/img width="1" height="1" src="http://pi2.feedsportal.com/r/238385072522/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c1/sc/28/a2t2.img" border="0"/img width='1' height='1' src='http://feeds.huffingtonpost.com/c/35496/f/677102/s/497975c1/sc/28/mf.gif' border='0'/
Categories: News Monitor

Poland Blocks Gold Hunters From Site Of Alleged Nazi Treasure Train

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:33
br / p class="ap-story-p"WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Polish authorities have blocked off a wooded area near a railroad track after scores of treasure hunters swarmed southwest Poland looking for an alleged Nazi gold train./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"The city of Walbrzych and its surrounding wooded hills are experiencing a gold rush after two men, a Pole and a German, informed authorities through their lawyers that they have found a Nazi train with armaments and valuables that reportedly went missing in the spring of 1945 while fleeing the Red Army./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"Inspired by a local legend since World War II, people with metal detectors and ground-penetrating equipment are combing the area and its still-used railway tracks. Some of them have arrived from Germany./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"The gold fever intensified after deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski said last week he had seen contours of the train on an image from a ground- penetrating device./pbr / div class="embed-asset embed" data-type="embed-asset" data-provider="Embed" data-title=""br / div class="embed-code"span class="js-fivemin-script"/spanscript type="text/javascript"(function(){var src_url="https://spshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?playList=519049170height=381width=570sid=577origin=SOLRresponsive=falserelatedMode=2relatedBottomHeight=60companionPos=hasCompanion=falseautoStart=falsecolorPallet=%23FFEB00videoControlDisplayColor=%23191919shuffle=0isAP=1pgType=cmsPluginpgTypeId=addToPost-toponVideoDataLoaded=track5min.DLonTimeUpdate=track5min.TC#38;onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL#38;onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC";if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") {src_url += "#38;siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += "#38;sponsorship="+commercial_video.package;}}var script = document.createElement("script");script.src = src_url;script.async = true;var placeholder = document.querySelector(".js-fivemin-script");placeholder.parentElement.replaceChild(script, placeholder);})();/script/div/divbr / p class="ap-story-p"The alleged site is somewhere between the 61th and the 65th kilometer of the tracks that wind their way between Walbrzych and Wroclaw./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"Provincial governor Tomasz Smolarz said Monday that police, city and railway guards are now patrolling the area and blocking treasure hunters to prevent any accidents with trains running on the tracks./pbr / p class="ap-story-p""A few hectares (acres) of land are now being secured. People have been barred from the woods" surrounding the site, he said./pbr / p class="ap-story-p""Half of Walbrzych's residents and other people are going treasure hunting or just for walks to see the site. We are worried for their security," police spokeswoman Magdalena Koroscik told The Associated Press. People walking down the tracks can't escape "a train that emerges from behind the rocks at 70 kph (43 mph)./pbr / br / p class="ap-story-p"A man taking a selfie on the tracks reportedly narrowly missed being hit, she said./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"Smolarz is also asking the military to examine the site with earth-penetrating equipment to look for any hidden train./pbr / p class="ap-story-p"Authorities said numerous previous reports of a find have only yielded rusty pieces of metal./p p-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terms.html/'terms./a It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website./pbr clear='all'/br/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/1/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/1/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/2/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/2/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/3/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/rc/3/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/a2.htm"img src="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/a2.img" border="0"//abr/a href="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/ach.htm"img src="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/ach.img" border="0"//aimg width="1" height="1" src="http://pi.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/a2t.img" border="0"/img width="1" height="1" src="http://pi2.feedsportal.com/r/238385072521/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c2/sc/11/a2t2.img" border="0"/img width='1' height='1' src='http://feeds.huffingtonpost.com/c/35496/f/677102/s/497975c2/sc/11/mf.gif' border='0'/
Categories: News Monitor

Militarism Run Amok: Russians and Americans Get Their Kids Ready for War

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:31
In 1915, a mother's protest against funneling children into war provided the theme of a new American song, "a href="http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4942/" target="_hplink"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier./a" Although the ballad attained great popularity, not everyone liked it. Theodore Roosevelt, a leading militarist of the era, retorted that the proper place for such women was "in a harem―and not in the United States." br / br / If Roosevelt were still around today, a century later, he would be happy to learn that preparing children for war continues unabated.br / br / That's certainly a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/09/russia-patriotic-education-rise-ukraine-military" target="_hplink"the case in today's Russia/a, where thousands of government-funded clubs are producing what is called "military-patriotic education" for children. Accepting both boys and girls, these clubs teach them military exercises, some of which employ heavy military equipment. Here children as young as five years of age spend evenings learning how to fight and use military weapons.br / br / These efforts are supplemented by the Voluntary Society of Cooperation with the Army, Air Force, and Navy, which prepares Russian high school students for military service. This society claims that, in the past year alone, it has held 6,500 military patriotic events and channeled more than 200,000 young people into taking the official "Ready for Labor and Defense" test. Government funding of the society's budget is lavish, and has grown dramatically in recent years.br / br / Russia's "patriotic education" also benefits from frequent military historical reenactments. The head of the Moscow branch of the All-Russian Military History Movement observed that groups hosting such reenactments help people "realize that they can't spend their whole life playing with Kinder Eggs or Pokemon."br / br / Apparently sharing that opinion, the Russian government opened a vast a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/vladimir-putin-opens-russian-military-disneyland-patriot-park" target="_hplink"military theme park/a in June 2015 in Kubinka, an hour's drive from Moscow. Frequently referred to as a "military Disneyland," Patriot Park was proclaimed "an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people" by President Vladimir Putin. On hand for the opening and backed up by a military choir, Putin also brought the good news that 40 new intercontinental missiles had been added to Russia's nuclear arsenal. According to a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/europe/2015/06/russia-unveils-military-park-children-150617162137052.html" target="_hplink"news reports/a, Patriot Park, when completed, will cost $365 million and draw up to 100,000 visitors per day.br / br / Those attending the park's opening found the rows of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and missile-launching systems on display, plus the riding of tanks and shooting of guns, a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/vladimir-putin-opens-russian-military-disneyland-patriot-park" target="_hplink"deeply moving/a. "This park is a gift to Russian citizens, who can now behold the full power of the Russian armed forces," declared Sergei Privalov, a Russian Orthodox priest. "Children should come here, play with the weaponry and climb on the tanks and see all the most modern technology." Alexander Zaldostanov, the leader of the Night Wolves, a violent biker gang planning a similar park, remarked: "Now we all feel closer to the army" and that is "a good thing." After all, "if we don't educate our own children, then America will do it for us." Vladimir Kryuchkov, a weapons demonstrator, admitted that some missile launchers were too heavy for very small children. But he maintained that smaller rocket-propelled grenade launchers would be perfect for them, adding: "All males of all ages are defenders of the motherland and they must be ready for war."br / br / They are certainly ready in the United States. In 1916, Congress established the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (a href="http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20657-americas-child-soldiers-jrotc-and-the-militarizing-of-america" target="_hplink"JROTC/a), which today flourishes in some 3,500 American high schools and enrolls well over half a million American children. Some government-run military training programs even operate in a href="http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/29_01/29_01_mcgauley.shtml" target="_hplink"U.S. middle schools/a. In a href="http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20657-americas-child-soldiers-jrotc-and-the-militarizing-of-america" target="_hplink"JROTC/a, students are taught by military officers, read Pentagon-approved textbooks, wear military uniforms, and conduct military parades. Some JROTC units even use automatic rifles with live ammunition. Although the Pentagon covers some of the expense of this costly program, the rest of it is borne by the schools themselves. This "youth development program," as the Pentagon calls it, pays off for the military when JROTC students come of age and join the armed forces -- action facilitated by the fact that U.S. military recruiters are often right in the classrooms.br / br / Even if high school students do not participate in JROTC activities, military recruiters have easy access to them. One of the provisions of the a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-11-02-recruits_x.htm" target="_hplink"No Child Left Behind Act/a of 2001 requires high schools to share students' names and contact information with military recruiters unless students or their parents opt out of this arrangement. In addition, the U.S. military uses a href="http://www.vice.com/read/war-is-rad-0000493-v21n11" target="_hplink"mobile exhibits/a -- replete with gaming stations, huge flat-screen television sets, and weapons simulators -- to reach children at high schools and elsewhere. GI Johnny, an inflatable, goofy-grinning doll dressed in Army fatigues, has been a great hit among young children. According to one military recruiter, "the little kids are very comfortable with Johnny."br / br / In 2008, the U.S. military, recognizing that video arcades with first-person shooter games were far more popular than its dreary recruiting centers in urban ghettoes, established the a href="http://thevisionmachine.com/2015/04/the-army-experience-center/" target="_hplink"Army Experience Center/a, a giant video arcade in the Franklin Mills mall just outside Philadelphia. Here children immersed themselves in hi-tech warfare at computer terminals and in two large simulation halls, where they could ride Humvee vehicles and Apache helicopters and shoot their way through waves of "enemies." Meanwhile, Army recruiters circulated through the youthful throngs, signing them up for the armed forces.br / br / Actually,a href="http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/the-road-to-militarization-paved-in-video-games#.VeNyxvlVhBd" target="_hplink" video games/a might do a better job of militarizing children than do the recruiters. Created at times in cooperation with major arms contractors, violent video games played by children dehumanize opponents and provide justifications for "wasting" them. They not only promote a level of ruthless aggression that the Wehrmacht might well envy -- see, for example, the immensely popular a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABj8muSxGhA" target="_hplink"Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter/a -- but are a href="http://www.polygon.com/2015/8/13/9149481/violent-video-games-aggression-research-review-report-apa-resolution" target="_hplink"very effective/a in warping children's values.br / br / How long will we continue raising our children to be soldiers?br / br / emLawrence S. Wittner (a href="http://www.lawrenceswittner.com/" target="_hplink"www.lawrenceswittner.com/a) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, a href="http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Going-UAardvark-Lawrence-Wittner/dp/1614681457/ref=sr_1_1?s=booksie=UTF8qid=1367263138sr=1-1keywords=What%27s+Going+On+at+UAardvark%3F" target="_hplink"What's Going On at UAardvark?/a br / /em p-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terms.html/'terms./a It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website./pbr clear='all'/br/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/1/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/1/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/2/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/2/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/3/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/rc/3/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/a2.htm"img src="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/a2.img" border="0"//abr/a href="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/ach.htm"img src="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/ach.img" border="0"//aimg width="1" height="1" src="http://pi.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/a2t.img" border="0"/img width="1" height="1" src="http://pi2.feedsportal.com/r/238385072520/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c3/sc/7/a2t2.img" border="0"/img width='1' height='1' src='http://feeds.huffingtonpost.com/c/35496/f/677102/s/497975c3/sc/7/mf.gif' border='0'/
Categories: News Monitor

Afghan Man, Woman Given 100 Lashes In Public For Adultery

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:17
br / pKABUL, Sept 1 (Reuters) - An Afghan man and woman found guilty of adultery received 100 lashes on Monday in front of a crowd who filmed their punishment, TV footage showed./pbr / pPublic lashings and executions were common under the Taliban, who enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia law from 1996-2001. The Islamist militant group was ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition and such punishments are now rare./pbr / pThe footage, taken in the western province of Ghor, showed a woman wrapped in a head-to-toe burqa and a man each receive the punishment from a man in a turban wielding a leather whip, watched by a group of mostly seated men./pbr / pThe two remained in a crouching position throughout and did not appear to cry out./pbr / pThe sentencing was backed by the government in Ghor province, where the trial took place./pbr / br / p"They had relations a long time ago but were arrested early this month," a spokesman for governor Seema Jowenda said. "Their punishment is based on Sharia law and will teach others a lesson."/pbr / pA local judge said the penalty was in line with the constitution and criminal law. A spokesman for the justice ministry was unavailable for comment./pbr / pThe foreign-backed government does not enforce Sharia law and generally condemns the practices of beating and stoning when they occur, particularly in areas under insurgent control./pbr / pEarlier this month, five people were arrested in the north for beating a man and his daughter for robbery. In May, a woman was beaten to death by a mob in the center of Kabul after being falsely accused of burning a Koran./pbr / pThat attack was widely condemned by rights groups and some of those involved in the killing have been imprisoned./pbr / pemstrongAlso on HuffPost:/strong/em/pbr / p-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terms.html/'terms./a It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website./pbr clear='all'/br/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/1/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/1/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/2/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/2/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/3/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/rc/3/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/a2.htm"img src="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/a2.img" border="0"//abr/a href="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/ach.htm"img src="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/ach.img" border="0"//aimg width="1" height="1" src="http://pi.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/a2t.img" border="0"/img width="1" height="1" src="http://pi2.feedsportal.com/r/238385072519/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/497975c4/sc/3/a2t2.img" border="0"/img width='1' height='1' src='http://feeds.huffingtonpost.com/c/35496/f/677102/s/497975c4/sc/3/mf.gif' border='0'/
Categories: News Monitor

Boko Haram's Young Victims Process Trauma Through Heartbreaking Drawings

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 20:11
pAfter Abeni, 16, escaped a href="http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/fear-follows-them-providing-mental-health-care-refugees-chad" target="_blank"Boko Haram#8217;s wrath in Nigeria/a, she hoped her increasing nightmare would come to an end./pbr / pThe terror group killed her parents and her neighbors, according to Doctors Without Borders. Abeni grabbed her little brother, nephew and four neighbors and eventually made her way to the Dar es Salaam refugee camp in Chad. But her troubles are far from over./pbr / pAbeni hasn#8217;t yet received her refugee card, so she and the children she arrived with aren#8217;t receiving any food./pbr / pAs of April, there were a href="http://blogs.unicef.org/2015/04/13/escaping-boko-haram-a-childs-journey-from-nigeria-to-chad/" target="_blank"126 other separated and unaccompanied children /aat the camp, according to UNICEF.#160;/pbr / pThe kids who have witnessed Boko Haram#8217;s horrors, which include#160;a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/boko-haram-rape_n_7311492.html" target="_blank"rape, kidnapping /aand brutal attacks, among other crimes, are at a high risk for psychological disorders. But they barely have the resources to survive, let alone to process their traumatizing experiences./pbr / br / pThat#8217;s why after developing a clinic in Dar es Salaam refugee camp in March, Doctors Without Borders introduced psychological support./pbr / pPart of that treatment includes giving young patients the opportunity to draw the atrocities they#8217;ve seen first hand./pbr / pAurelia Morabito, a psychologist who works in Lake Chad, told Doctors Without Borders she#8217;s counseled children who have drawn guns, helicopters and decapitated bodies, among other unspeakable images./pbr / pIn the six years that Boko Haram#8217;s tried creating an Islamic caliphate, a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/03/boko-haram-nigeria_n_7724410.html" target="_blank"thousands of people have been killed/a#160;and about 1.5 million have been displaced.#160;/pbr / pOver the course of a few days alone in May, the military reported rescuing more than a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/06/boko-haram-children-released_n_7221822.html" target="_blank"700 women and children /afrom Boko Haram.#160;/pbr / pEven after escaping, though, the children suffer feelings of instability because of the lack of structure and support in the camp./pbr / br / p"'Home' is now a gathering of exposed tents in the middle of a desert, where they may be vulnerable to future attacks," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement./pbr / pOf those seeking help at the Chad refugee camp clinic, one in four exhibit signs of depression. It#8217;s also common for patients to develop sleeping disorders and trauma-related anxiety, according to Doctors Without Borders./pbr / pGiving traumatized kids the opportunity to draw creates a safe environment for them to express their deepest worries./pbr / pa href="http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/fear-follows-them-providing-mental-health-care-refugees-chad" target="_blank"#8220;It is easier for children to express their fears through drawing,#8221;/a#160;Morabito told Doctors Without Borders./pbr / pThe psychologists then talk about the images, which helps them manage and control their fears./pbr / pSince launching the program, which includes individual, family or couples#8217; counseling, Doctors Without Borders has seen 524 patients./p p-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terms.html/'terms./a It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website./pbr clear='all'/br/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/1/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/1/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/2/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/2/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/3/rc.htm" rel="nofollow"img src="http://rc.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/rc/3/rc.img" border="0"//abr/br/a href="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/a2.htm"img src="http://da.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/a2.img" border="0"//abr/a href="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/ach.htm"img src="http://adchoice.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/ach.img" border="0"//aimg width="1" height="1" src="http://pi.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/a2t.img" border="0"/img width="1" height="1" src="http://pi2.feedsportal.com/r/238385078681/u/60/f/677102/c/35496/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/a2t2.img" border="0"/img width='1' height='1' src='http://feeds.huffingtonpost.com/c/35496/f/677102/s/4979b1d4/sc/7/mf.gif' border='0'/
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