June 26, 2019  

Two new flags will be flying high at the Olympic Games in Rio.

For the first time, South Sudan and Kosovo have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo, which was a province of the former Yugoslavia, will have 8 athletes competing; and a good shot for a medal in women's judo: Majlinda Kelmendi is considered a favorite. She's ranked first in the world in her weight class.

(South Sudan's James Chiengjiek, Yiech Biel & coach Joe Domongole, © AFP) South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, will have three runners competing in the country's first Olympic Games.

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)



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



CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au)


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Entries in CGI (3)


The Annual Clinton Lovefest: A Disconnect Between Rich and Poor? (PERSPECTIVE)

by Themrise Khan

CGI 2011 Plenary Session: Redefining Business As Usual

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton at CGI 2011. CREDIT: CGI/Paul Morse

(HN, September 26, 2011) - It was three days of self-praise, self-glorification and self-affirmation. The outlying message at the end was, “we are good people doing good for others, but we need more money to do it”.

This was the seventh annual Clinton Global Initiative, aka CGI, in New York -  a collection of many men in suits and some women in heels. A globally respected event, which has also recognized Pakistani social entrepreneurs in the past, the theme of this years gathering was, “The World at Seven Billion”.

It was an astonishingly busy week in New York, with the CGI sharing limited Manhattan space with the opening of the UN General Assembly, where Palestinian statehood took a rude beating, as expected. Mid-town Manhattan was in lock-down and gridlock as heads of state moved between one glorified political event to another, followed by a slew of black SUV’s containing a frightening number of some very mean looking people. For five days, the apocalypse had come to visit New York City. Manhattan looked like a showroom for GMC Suburban SUVs.

And an apocalypse of sorts it was, as political royalty rubbed shoulders with aristocratic royalty. There were strategically placed Saudi princes and princesses, talking about ending violence against women and global poverty. The Arab presence was not complete without a fleeting appearance by the stately Queen Rania of Jordan, at the special session on Change in the Middle-East and North Africa.

One of the highlights of the forum this year, was Burma’s very own Aung San Suu Kyi speaking live via satellite from Rangoon, to a completely smitten Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. We suspect Clinton must have pulled some strings to convince the Burmese generals to allow Suu Kyi to go live on air.

Gridlock in Manhattan during the opening of the UNGA. CREDIT: HUMNEWSPresident Barack Obama dropped by as well, to embrace his dear friend President Bill Clinton on stage, while subtly trying to woe the uber-rich audience towards his looming but not so booming election campaign. Speaking about America’s creaking infrastructure, including the ageing LaGuardia Airport in New York City, Obama said that the chief of the discount carrier, Southwest Airlines, told him that fuel bills could be cut drastically if only modern GPS were installed at US airports. “Maybe they will start serving peanuts on flights again.”.

There were also other presidents, former and current, prime ministers, ministers, corporate CEO’s, media moguls, New York’s rich and famous who realistically came to life off the pages of Vanity Fair and Vogue, fashion statements, furs and all. However, it seemed that the hotel lobby and bar were the real action was though, as deals were made, partnerships discovered and just plain old people watching gave the likes of the mere mortals like myself, an adrenaline high.

But despite the heady attendance of global heavy weights, it was hard to put a finger on exactly what this year’s conference had set out to achieve. For one, the sessions had nothing to do with the title. It was supposedly an ode to improving the lives of women and girls in the developing world, as a laudable initiative on eliminating child-brides was launched. But there was also a hint of the prevention of non-communicable diseases, a smattering of climate change and food security and a very, very, heavy dose of the connection of corporate philanthropy as a solution to all of this and more.

Members of organizations working with the help of CGI funds, such as the Desert Research Foundation in Namibia, shared the stage with the CEOs of PepsiCo and Unilever, who strenuously explained how their companies were helping the impoverished with food security issues around the developing world.  PepsiCo, for example, explained how it was sharing excess food products, such as high-protein chickpeas, with the World Food Programme (WFP).

In another session, the Dreamers for Tomorrow Association in Egypt, the poster-child nation of the Arab Spring, who laid bare their hope for peace in the Arab world, alongside a the diamond encrusted Princess Ameerah of the Al-Waleed Foundation and the CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who are apparently the ones to watch out for where ‘doing good” is concerned.

Clinton himself, freshly trim from a non-meat diet, showed some very visible signs of a disconnect with his supposed “target audience”, was the most baffling outcome of this forum.

Case in point. In allowing young girls to access education and schools, what attempts can be a made to prevent their harassment and sexual molestation as they walk the long distances to schools in Africa. Clinton’s response; more law-enforcement along those paths and more street lights to that fewer girls are raped in the evening hours. A surprising declaration from a man who makes it his business to spend as much time as possible in the field.

It didn’t help that this year, the press (of which this scribe was a member), were kept sequestered in a basement with no access to any of the small group discussions or breakout sessions, save a few “by permission only” sessions. Frankly, one may as well have stayed home and watched it all on YouTube.

To me, CGI 2011 was a stark reminder to most of us from the marginalized world that we are still - and will be for many decades to come - mere pawns in the games of the rich and famous for greater wealth and power (CGI members and corporate participants pay up to US$20,000 to attend the event). The solutions to global poverty and security are mostly the result of political and corporate misgivings. As such, might the CGI is simply a way to absolve any pangs of guilt the well heeled in the western world may have about it?

The Clinton Global Initiative is an annual conference that brings together philanthropists and world leaders to inspire, connect and forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since it was established in 2005, nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of CEOs, heads of foundations, nonprofits and major philanthropists have made nearly 2,000 commitments impacting over 180 countries, the lives of over 300 million people, and commitments upwards of $60 billion.


Women & Girls Economic Empowerment Gets Attention at Clinton Summit (REPORT)

By Pilar Stella Ingargiola

CGI 2011 Breakout Session: Designing Technologies for Economic Empowerment

Geena Davis speaking at the CGI panel. Credit: Adam Schultz / Clinton Global Initiative

As part of the recently Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York, there was a heavy focus was on empowering women and girls through economic empowerment, violence reduction, health and environmental equity.

A session on Day Three on Designing Technologies for Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls featured panelists including Geena Davis who recently founded The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Neil Bellefeuille of The Paradigm Project , Toshi Nakamura of The Kopernik and Dr. Angel Cabrera, President of Thunderbird School of Global Management with Chelsea Clinton as the moderator.

Davis’s research with The Institute is the only of its kind exploring gender inequality in portrayals by the media and may serve as a “a wake-up call” to educate Hollywood on the negative images and stereotypes that media promotes of women and girls.

Research found that there is only one female for every three males portrayed in the media and crowd scenes include only 17% women as compared with 83% men.

Not only is the representation of women imbalanced, but their portrayal as Davis noted is “sidelined and hypersexualized.” The study found that there is the same percentage of nakedness portrayed in G rated shows as R rated shows.

There are few to no women portrayed in jobs, with over 81% of jobs held by men in the media. “Women serve as eye candy,” said Davis, rather than being portrayed in business, law, medicine and other professions. She explained that for women and girls, “If they can see it, they can be it.” So if there are more positive images and role models of women in media, then more women can see themselves in those roles and the more “acceptable” it can be to men as well. If not, then it leaves few to no models of what is possible.

With 80% of the media consumed worldwide created in the U.S., there is a need to shift this “narrow stereotyping and hyper sexualization.” As Davis emphasized, “We can use media to cure media.” That is, media from this narrow perspective limits the ways in which the public – both men and women – see women. The more TV girls watch the more they think they can’t achieve what they want and the more boys watch, the more likely they are to be sexist. Davis’ institute seeks to raise awareness for Hollywood and beyond to help make the case for a shift in the portrayal of women and girls.

Cabrera from Thunderbird highlighted the nuance of the power of narratives. That is, that not only the images we project, but the language we use furthers the pervasive stereotypes.

For example, Cabrera explained that even terminology such as ‘microentrepreneurs,’ being used predominantly for women entrepreneurs is “condescending.” “In the U.S. we would call these start ups,” but with women and global entrepreneurs we call them “microentrepreneurs.” Cabrera reiterated the need to be conscientious not only in our images but also in our language and education of entrepreneurs.

Davis further emphasized the critical opportunity that this research provides to educate and empower Hollywood and the media to turn the corner in shifting the images and opportunities for women that can truly translate to economic empowerment.

The Clinton Global Initiative is an annual conference that brings together philanthropists and world leaders to inspire, connect and forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since it was established in 2005, nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of CEOs, heads of foundations, nonprofits and major philanthropists have made nearly 2,000 commitments impacting over 180 countries, the lives of over 300 million people, and commitments upwards of $60 billion.

---The author, Pilar Stella Ingargiola, MPH, is the CEO & Founder of OneGiving (www.onegiving.com), a global organization that empowers, inspires and connects people in giving to create change on the planet. Pilar is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur who has been working towards social change and making a difference on the planet through every endeavor she has embarked on over the past 15 years.


Aung San Suu Kyi: "The World Needs to Know What is Going on in Burma" (NEWS BRIEF)

By Themrise Khan in New York

CGI 2011 Plenary Session Conversations on Courage(

Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, Addresses the Clinton Global Initiative in New York today, live via satellite from Yangon. CREDIT: CGI

(HN, September 21, 2011) - Two of the world's famous freedom fighters sat face-to-face this morning in New York City - or as was as close as possible under the circumstances.

Live on stage in New York,  in front of a packed plenary on the second day of the Clinton Global Summit, was Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

A world away, via satellite and sitting comfortably in her home on the banks of Inya Lake in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was the renowned opposition leader in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Aung San Suu Kyi.

The fact that technology could link these two Nobel Peace Prize winners is, in these times, unremarkable. What was astonishing was that the Burmese military regime allowed Suu Kyi's conversation to take place, uncensored.

It's not clear what type of diplomatic handywork or meaneuvering went on behind closed doors by former US President Clinton, the host of the meeting, to get the Burmese generals to agree to the broadcast. But for a man who has rescued stranded celebrity journalists from North Korea, and has accomplished other seemingly impossible feats, this may have been received as just another challenge.

The broadcast was billed as Suu Kyi's first live conversation since her release in 2009.

Little wonder the atmosphere in the hall was nothing less than euphoric. Tutu, who made no secret of his admiration for his colleague a world away, appeared smitten and almost child-like at her elegant and articulate responses.

It was a rare site.

As moderator Charlie Rose pointed out more than once, audience members were witness to “something going on here, mutual admiration society and more”.

But the humorous banter did not hide the seriousness of the issue at hand. At issues was the struggle for freedom of a nation, a topic which very few around the world seem to know very little about.

Despite her long and painful incarceration, Suu Kyi sounded very optimistic about Myanmar’s future, especially that of its youth. She was confident of the possibility of change, citing that when she was freed in 2009, there were many, many more youth out to greet her than at any of the previous times, she had seen. “That showed me that some change was going on within the people”, she said.

To Suu Kyi, awareness of the situation for the Myanmar people, and for the whole world, was one of the most important elements of bringing change. “If the world wants to help Burma, the world needs to know what is going on in Burma”, she said. “ We would like the world to keep an eye on what is happening here”.

Responding to a question on whether neighbours, India and China. can do more to help the political situation in Myanmar, Suu Kyi was adamant that people must first listen to the voices of ordinary Burmese, to what the people want. Then they can help Burma.

“We have always been good neighbors, but times have changed and to continue to be good neighbors certain policies will have to change”, she said.

Unfortunately, Myanmar is still far away from uprisings like the Arab Spring. In answering Rose’s question about the use of social media, Suu Kyi pointed out that Myanmar has no where near the media access that participants in the Arab Spring had. Young people in Myanmar need to be better prepared to face the modern world starting with education.

“I could never have been speaking to you like this seven years ago”, she said. Not letting fear sap her energy all these years, Suu Kyi has remained a controlled and passionate fighter for the cause. A fighter, that fellow fighter Tutu, looks forward to seeing inaugurated as head of the government, when he visits Myanmar in the future.

When you stand out in a crowd it is only because you are standing on the shoulders of others," said Tutu.

CGI 2011 Plenary Session Conversations on Courage

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of The Elders, could hardly hide his excitement sharing the stage today with Aung San Suu Kyi. CREDIT: CGI