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Tuesday:  November 25, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in West Bank (2)

Tuesday
Nov292011

Google & Mercy Corps Partner to Help Young Palestinian Entrepreneurs (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN, November 29, 2011) - Google and Mercy Corps have formed a partnership to spark technological entrepreneurship among young Palestinians.

In an innovative venture called the Arab Developer Network Initiative (ADNI), the global private sector entity and NGO have come together to tap the "brain trust" of the vast numbers of young people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Says Mercy Corps: "Through a combination of training in technical and business essentials, peer-to-peer learning, mentorship, and an initial seed fund for high potential startups, capitalized at $500,000, ADNI will help build a critical mass of Palestinian youth who are competent in multiple programming platforms and able to create and run successful web-based businesses."

As in much of the Middle East and North Africa, the Palestinian population is young, well-educated, and chronically unemployed. The World Bank reports that at the end of 2010, unemployment among those between the ages of 15-29 was an estimated 26 percent in the West Bank and 53 percent in Gaza - though some reputable sources cite much higher figures of unemployment.

The potential is not lost on Google, which has commited $2 million so far to the territory.

"Palestinians have such a unique position," Gisel Kordestani, Google's director of new business development, told Fast Company. "They're well educated. They have strong English-language skills. With 88 million people in the [Middle East and North African] region getting online, they have the opportunity to build something for the Arab world."

Says Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer: "One of the biggest challenges to economic growth in Gaza and the West Bank is that people can't move freely or easily cross borders. But there's an incredible brain trust of educated young people in the region. Unlike most other industries, web-based businesses are not limited by the physical movement of goods or people. Fuelled by young talent, the tech sector here is just waiting to take off."

The Source of Hope Foundation and Google.org are the main backers of the project.

- HUMNEWS staff, Mercy Corps

Sunday
May292011

Palestinian Territory: A Spring Forgotten (PERSPECTIVE)

By Ronit Avi

Responding to the rising tide across the Arab world in his speech on May 19, President Obama aptly directed his focus away from politicians and toward the people, from the "raw power of the dictator" to the "dignity of the street vendor." It was a convincing argument, driving home the President's message that the United States has "a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals."Waiting for their Arab Spring: feelings of hopelessness and isolation among young people in the Palestinian Territory are well documented. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw

Yet when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Obama curiously fell back on language about governments and treaties rather than individual freedom and human dignity. While he acknowledged that in an increasingly democratic Middle East peace cannot be made by leaders alone, Obama failed to grant the same recognition that he gave to demonstrators standing up for freedom across the Arab world to the thousands of Palestinians and scores of Israelis who are doing the same on a daily basis in places like Nabi Saleh, Al-Walajeh, Bil'in, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

It was a striking omission in light of Obama's call in his Cairo Speech in 2009 for Palestinians to adopt nonviolence, and was particularly disheartening given the urgency of the moment.

Only a few weeks ago, Bassem and Naji Tamimi, two leaders of the nonviolent movement in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, were arrested on dubious charges aimed at crushing the resolve of a village that has been struggling without arms to prevent the encroachment of nearby Israeli settlements upon its land and water supply. These arrests come as part of a broader crackdown that the Israeli army has been implementing against nonviolent Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. Faced with the prospect of a broadening unarmed movement against occupation, the Israeli military has apparently decided to hunker down and deter protestors through a process of intimidation, repression and attrition.

This is bad news for any of us who value the universal rights Obama laid out in his speech, and it is especially alarming given the highly charged atmosphere on the ground. As we've seen across the region, where nonviolence fails, bloodshed follows. Those of us who wish for a peaceful end to the conflict and to the occupation, and who oppose a return to the violence of recent years, cannot afford to ignore the voices of those in places like Budrus and Bil'in who assert that the most effective and courageous response to oppression is not suicide attacks or rockets, but rather unarmed protest and collective organizing.

In recognizing the bravery and resolve of these Palestinians and Israelis, President Obama would have sent an important message of support to those who believe that a nonviolent path is the most constructive way forward -- even in the absence of real negotiations. Instead, a fragile and increasingly threatened movement is met with silence from an American President who is willing to press Arab allies into uncomfortable corners. The same Obama who tells the leadership of Bahrain that "you can't have real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail" is seemingly looking the other way when unarmed Palestinian and Israeli protestors are routinely met with violence and face arrest, often without credible charges.

What's more, those protests taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem often bring Israelis and Palestinians together, creating powerful bonds around a common cause of justice, peace and dignity. The President was right to reference Israelis like Yitzhak Frankenthal of the Parents Circle-Bereaved Families Forum, profiled in our first film Encounter Point, and Palestinians like Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who despite unimaginably painful losses actively pursue reconciliation rather than revenge. Yet equally important, and especially crucial at this volatile time are the Israelis and Palestinians who join forces and take direct nonviolent action against injustices on the ground. Whether they succeed, as they did in the village of Budrus, or fail, the common struggle has an unmistakably humanizing impact. In places like the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which we focus on in our upcoming documentary film, Israelis from increasingly diverse political, social and religious backgrounds are joining Palestinian residents in a common struggle for justice. 

These are the kind of grassroots partnerships that will give real meaning to agreements signed on paper, and that will develop the trust necessary for any peace accord to endure. Rather than ignoring them, the President should be placing them front and center in his vision for the region. As he so eloquently stated, "we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just." This is true for all those across the region who employ nonviolence to bring about a better future, and Palestinians and Israelis certainly deserve no less. 

Ronit Avni is the Founder & Executive Director of Just Vision, which researches and documents Palestinian and Israeli nonviolence and peacebuilding efforts. She recently produced the award-winning film, Budrus. Her opinion piece is reproduced here with permission.