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Studies have shown that the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be forced into child marriage. With many schools currently shut down and girls are not going to school, an increase in child marriage is expected. Credit: Ahmed Osman/IPS
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 3 2020 (IPS) - An additional 5.6 million child marriages can be expected because of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in a short-term increase in poverty and the shutdown of schools.
The current pandemic is also expected to have a massive impact on the projected growth of harmful practices on women’s bodies.
“A big protective factor in preventing child marriage is education,” Richard Kollodge, Senior Editorial Adviser of the report, told IPS. “Studies have shown that the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be forced into child marriage. [Now] if schools are shut down and girls are not going to school, that’s a loss of a protective factor and that could contribute to an increase in child marriages.”
Other contributing factors include people’s inability to go to work, which in turn is affecting livelihoods. In such circumstances, some parents might feel encouraged to marry off their daughter as it’s one less mouth to feed or because they believe it might be safer, Kollodge said.
It is significant then that this year UNFPA began its 10-year agenda to end harmful practices by 2030 in every country. IPS spoke with Tharanga Godallage, a results-based management advisor at UNFPA, on how the current pandemic affects this agenda and how it exacerbates the crises of FGM and child marriage across the world.
Tharanga Godallage, a results-based management advisor at UNFPA.
Inter Press Service (IPS): You report says, “Getting to zero harmful practices will require much faster progress. It demands a society-wide effort, where everyone who has a role in stopping these practices steps up to do so.” What steps can different actors in a society take to address this issue?
Tharanga Godallage (TG): The “harmful practices” are a multi-stakeholder commitment because no single stakeholder can solve this problem. It’s actually not only a country level problem — they exist across borders. For FGM in particular, cross-border stakeholder advocacy is really important.
In the eradication of FGM, and overall, the most important factor is strong political commitment from the government. The second one is law enforcement because we need to create new laws and policies if you really want to have sustained change.
The third one is the involvement of multiple ministries, because this is not a single-ministry show. The approach is to have the whole government involved.
Our observation and recommendation is to look at it in a more holistic way, especially the sustainable change.
There’s also the need for a change in social norms, which is the most critical and the most difficult as well. That’s why you need a huge advocacy campaign.
Social norm is the root cause of most of these cases, and that needs community level engagement, including leaders, who have a bigger role to play, and formal and informal community leaders.
And then there’s a socio-economic link to child marriage, and FGM, and son preference. We need to bring the policy makers and stakeholders together and have all these translated to policy change.
IPS: Your report says “If the pandemic causes a two-year delay in FGM-prevention programmes, researchers projected that two million female genital mutilation cases would occur over the next decade that would otherwise have been averted.” Can you break down how such a delay would lead to two million lives affected?
TG: Based on the historical trend and projections, we knew that the estimated FGM cases by 2030 without COVID-19 impact would be around 34 million.
Then we looked at the reduction of scale-up programmes and the new cases to determine how many cases those adjustments would lead to, and we projected 36 million.
Overall, this COVID-19 impact has been observed in two ways: one is the effect on scaling up prevention programmes, as we will not be able to do prevention programmes the way we planned, and then there might be new cases coming up on top of that.
IPS: What factors are you counting when accounting for this change in the projected number owing to COVID-19?
TG: The restrictions on group gatherings and travel have reduced availability of technical staff and delay of starting international programmes or prevention programmes.
The second one is economic impact. In the economic impact, according to the data we found, there was a 10 percent reduction on GDP overall and then because of the GDP [drop] there was an increase in poverty. Usually we know increased poverty has 32 percent impact on child marriage, it’s very closely related. Hence, because of the economic factor, and the short-term poverty increase because of COVID-19 that was factored into the modelling, there will now be an additional 5.6 million child marriages.
IPS: Your report says “Ending harmful practices by 2030 in every country and community—an objective of UNFPA, will require rapid changes in mindsets that still sanction violence against women and girls and deny their rights and bodily autonomy.” How has this target been affected by the pandemic, and how do you aim to go forward in these circumstances?
TG: So far we have done our internal analysis of overall challenges. So, community mobilisation related research is going to be a very big challenge especially as we are trying to see how to [address that], especially the commitments relating to community mobilisation like social norms change and the comprehensive sexual education programmes (i.e.informal education). Those kinds of programmes will be heavily affected, and data generation is going to be a challenge.
People are used to the new normal now and people have come up with alternative strategies: call centres, telemedicine, and e-meetings. These are new innovative alternatives so maybe over time we might come to a new normal in our approaches to address these issues.
Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association (ACA) and publisher of the organization’s monthly journal, Arms Control Today
Credit: United Nations
WASHINGTON DC, Jul 1 2020 (IPS) - Seventy-five years ago, on July 16, the United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexican desert. Just three weeks later, U.S. Air Force B-29 bombers executed surprise atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing at least 214,000 people by the end of 1945, and injuring untold thousands more who died in the years afterward.
Since then, the world has suffered from a costly and deadly nuclear arms race fueled by more than 2,056 nuclear test explosions by at least eight states, more than half of which (1,030) were conducted by the United States.
But now, as a result of years of sustained citizen pressure and campaigning, congressional leadership, and scientific and diplomatic breakthroughs, nuclear testing is taboo.
The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992, when a bipartisan congressional majority mandated a nine-month testing moratorium. In 1996 the United States was the first to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which verifiably prohibits all nuclear test explosions of any yield.
Today, the CTBT has 184 signatories and almost universal support. But it has not formally entered into force due to the failure of the United States, China, and six other holdout states to ratify the pact.
As a result, the door to nuclear testing remains ajar, and now some White House officials and members of the Senate’s Dr. Strangelove Caucus are threatening to blow it wide open.
According to a May 22 article in The Washington Post, senior national security officials discussed the option of a demonstration nuclear blast at a May 15 interagency meeting.
A senior official told the Post that a “rapid test” by the United States could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as the Trump administration tries to pressure Russia and China to engage in talks on a new arms control agreement.
Making matters worse, in a party-line vote last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to authorize $10 million specifically for a nuclear test if ordered so by President Donald Trump.
Such a test could be conducted underground in just a few months at the former Nevada Test Site outside Las Vegas.
The idea of such a demonstration nuclear test blast is beyond reckless. In reality, the first U.S. nuclear test explosion in 28 years would do nothing to rein in Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals or improve the environment for negotiations.
Rather, it would raise tensions and probably trigger an outbreak of nuclear testing by other nuclear actors, leading to an all-out global arms race in which everyone would come out a loser.
Other nuclear-armed countries, such as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea would have far more to gain from nuclear testing than would the United States. Over the course of the past 25 years, the U.S. nuclear weapons labs have spent billions to maintain the U.S. arsenal without nuclear explosive testing.
Other nuclear powers would undoubtedly seize the opportunity provided by a U.S. nuclear blast to engage in multiple explosive tests of their own, which could help them perfect new and more dangerous types of warheads.
Moves by the United States to prepare for or to resume nuclear testing would shred its already tattered reputation as a leader on nonproliferation and make a mockery of the State Department’s initiative for a multilateral dialogue to create a better environment for progress on nuclear disarmament. The United States would join North Korea, which is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in this century, as a nuclear rogue state.
As Dr. Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, said on May 28, “[A]ctions or activities by any country that violate the international norm against nuclear testing, as underpinned by the CTBT, would constitute a grave challenge to the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, as well as to global peace and security more broadly.”
Talk of renewing U.S. nuclear testing would dishonor the victims of the nuclear age. These include the millions of people who have died and suffered from illnesses directly related to the radioactive fallout from tests conducted in the United States, the islands of the Pacific, Australia, China, North Africa, Russia, and Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union conducted 468 of its 715 nuclear tests.
Tragically, the downwinders affected by the first U.S. nuclear test, code-named “Trinity,” are still not even included in the U.S. Radiation Effects Compensation Act program, which is due to expire in 2022.
Congress must step in and slam the door shut on the idea of resuming nuclear testing, especially if its purpose is to threaten other countries. As Congress finalizes the annual defense authorization and energy appropriations bills, it can and must enact a prohibition on the use of funds for nuclear testing and enact safeguards that require affirmative House and Senate votes on any proposal for testing in the future.
Eventually, the Senate can and must also reconsider and ratify the CTBT itself. As a signatory, the United States is legally bound to comply with CTBT’s prohibition on testing, but has denied itself the benefits that will come with ratification and entry into force of the treaty.
Nuclear weapons test explosions are a dangerous vestige of a bygone era. We must not go back.
ver historia personal en: www.cerasale.com.ar [dado de baja por la Cancillería Argentina por temas políticos, propio de la censura que rige en nuestro medio]//
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weblog.maimonides.edu/farmacia/archives/0216_Admin_FarmEcon.pdf - //
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