Poor methods for cleaning oil spills in the oil rich Niger Delta in Nigeria is leaving the soil and river polluted and devastated. Constant pipe leaks are simply burnt and buried. What’s the problem here? You can’t burn crude at a normal fire temperature. And that is exactly what the local residents are finding out. When the rain comes, you just end up with black tainted runoff and all the plants and rivers are drowned in an oily sheen. Nigeria is supposed to be one of the richest countries in Africa because of its oil, but it’s committing suicide with its horrendous lax attitude to its own environment.
Archive for May, 2008
The failed so called “war on drugs” is an issue that is being ignored by our presidential wannabes. This “war” has always targeted minority groups and produces astounding statistics. More than 70% of those incarcerated for drug offences are Black or Latino. More astounding is the fact that the African American community is estimated at 15% of the national drug users, yet make up 37% of the arrest! While our current President is busy making new wars here, there and everywhere – maybe the next President should be thinking about dealing with some of our current “Wars” before claiming a new one.
If you were a teacher and only 1% of your classed passed, I’m sure you would be a little worried. No imagine how the parents in Peru feel when the government’s compulsory tests on public teachers were released. Only about 1% passed the criteria of 14/20 out of several thousand teachers! As a teacher in a private school in Lima, it’s no wonder that so many parents try to get their kids in institutions rather than really on the public schooling services. But this makes me worried for the children that can’t afford better schooling. Starting off with such a disadvantage is so heartbreaking, I just hope the government can educate the teachers so they can educate the children.
In a recent survey in the US, 59% of physicians backed the idea of a National Health System. These are the same people that we are paying our hard earned dollars to whenever we need medical advice. So if the people who have most to lose from a national coverage scheme think that it will be good for the US – surely the government should see that as well. The problem is always funding an aging population with national taxation. Maybe the idea of dealing with the immigration issue can go hand-in-hand with the funding of the medical coverage?
Pay a big enough fine, and you don’t do time. That’s the message from the latest celebrity escape. Micha Barton, from the O.C., is the latest celebrity to be released on a DUI charge without any jail time. It’s also handy to know that you can also have charges for marijuana possession dropped as long as you smoke enough so that there isn’t enough left for the cops to find. From The Bush girls to ranting Mel Gibson, the only message that seems to get through is this – be careful what you do, until you’re rich enough to do it recklessly.
Well, once again the demand for luxury goods has given rise to another boom in the poaching of elephants for ivory. The latest research out of America suggests that most of the demand is for things as worthless as trinkets and carvings. And it seems the hapless buyers are being fooled by the “made in China” stamp on the bottom as most of the ivory is coming from there. How can we be so naïve as to think that just because the item is not made in Africa, that the material is not made from the slaughter of elephants and rhinos. Do we think that the Chinese have learnt how to grow ivory on trees?
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the latest attempt by the Canadian governmental bodies to find an excusable avenue for the mindless slaughter of seal pups. Somehow, the scientists in Canada have a different idea to what exactly is a fish than the rest of the world. Seals in Canada are classified as “Fish”. Considering the biological differences between fish and mammals I find this truly remarkable. And why have they listed such a confounding statement – because animals on the Canadian fish list are not considered capable of feeling pain, suffering or fear. I fear what they teach in the biology classes in the schools there – but at least that feeling of fear means I wouldn’t be classed as a fish in Canada!
Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program and the National Institutes of Health. These institutions might not seem a likely group for animal activities to celebrate, but these three governmental bodies are embarking on an ambitious task of removing the need for animal testing. Their goal is to remove animal testing within 10 years, claiming that animal testing fails to produce effective and honest results while at the same time not being cost efficient. The designed replacement is human test tube cells and computer simulation. Hopefully they can succeed in their goal, and not end up running over budget and behind schedule like so many other governmental projects!
Scientists have recently theorised that over the next decade we will fail to see any significant increase in temperature from global warming. While the sceptics might claim this one, the same scientists suggest this is because the world will be entering a naturally occurring cooling stage during this time. The hope during this time is that the awareness gained over the past few years towards global warming will not be lost as people fail to see any difference from one year to the next. Especially because Global temperatures are then expected to rise quickly over the following years after the next decade – and we don’t have time to wait before we react.
Many people focus on South America, and Brazil in particular, as the major culprits of deforestation. But Africa is losing forest land just as quickly and mainly due to the desperation of the poverty stricken population. Coal is lighter, cheaper and easier to produce than other forms of fuel. 80% of fuel is still coal based in Africa, which leads to a huge amount of legal and illegal logging to supply the demand for fuel. And people will continue to log the forests until the find an alternative cheap fuel and income.
While we’re all focused on Bush and his mad drive for middle eastern oil, a character with just as much imperial desire is pushing to secure their own oil supply. Venezuela is one of the major oil producers in the world and has had an internal battle driven by Chavez to nationalise all the oil. Now that it is all under governmental control, this oil is being leveraged as a weapon against uncooperative governments. So when will this charismatic and aggressive ruler start looking at moving into the neighbouring areas with his newly purchased guns and ´copters?
We all already know that smog and pollution is bad for us. It affects our ability to breathe, some research suggests several cancers that are linked to pollution. It smells bad, it looks bad and now the latest research has found that living in a polluted city can increase you chances of blood clots. This research suggests that pollution can make the blood sticky and likely to clot. So next time you complain about second-hand smoke, think about the next time you use your car in the town centre where hundreds of people breathe in the fumes
There’s nothing like inherent corruption. Recently the housing minister was removed in Lima for giving houses designed for low income earnings to members of his own family. Of course, these houses were of better quality than the normal houses for low income earnings. So after removing the corrupt minister an instating a new one, one day later, the new minister was also relived of his position after abusing his position of housing minister. One week and two housing ministers later and the question is – how long is the new minister waiting before he thinks he can dip into the governmental pie?
With Chavez becoming ever more and more eccentric and provocative in his rule, the increased ties that Cuba is making with this country can surely only leave it being painted in an even more radical light? As Venezuela and Ecuador make threatening gestures to Columbia, Americas close ally, Cuba’s image of a refuge against the tyranny of Imperial America is at risk of becoming the right hand of Chavez and his Latin Empire building. Sure there are many ideals shared between the two governments, but Chavez shows far more aggressive and imperialist characteristics of his own – something the image of Fidel surely cannot whole heartedly accept.
While travelling through South America I continuous came across, what I consider, the worst type of forced child labour. Child begging. Obviously, people are more willing to give money out to a poor suffering child than an adult and if that poor child is homeless or with nothing it can be heartbreaking. But a regular thing that I came across was 2 or 3 children going from stranger to stranger begging while their mother or older brother or sister waited sitting in the shade. Not only will this make people lose faith in the plight of the children, the parents of the children are, to me, the lowest of the low.