Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The world IS changing. This talk on individual international human rights is important. Please watch:


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Marketplace of Life and death- food shortages and the causes

Recent increases in basic food prices are severely impacting vulnerable populations worldwide.
Proposed causes such as shortages of grain due to adverse weather, increasing meat consumption in
China and India, conversion of corn to ethanol in the US, and investor speculation on commodity
markets lead to widely di ering implications for policy. A lack of clarity about which factors are
responsible reinforces policy inaction. Here, for the rst time, we construct a dynamic model that
quantitatively agrees with food prices. The results show that the dominant causes of price increases
are investor speculation and ethanol conversion. Models that just treat supply and demand are
not consistent with the actual price dynamics. The two sharp peaks in 2007/2008 and 2010/2011
are speci cally due to investor speculation, while an underlying upward trend is due to increasing
demand from ethanol conversion. The model includes investor trend following as well as shifting
between commodities, equities and bonds to take advantage of increased expected returns. Claims
that speculators cannot in
uence grain prices are shown to be invalid by direct analysis of price
setting practices of granaries. Both causes of price increase, speculative investment and ethanol
conversion, are promoted by recent regulatory changes|deregulation of the commodity markets,
and policies promoting the conversion of corn to ethanol. Rapid action is needed to reduce the
impacts of the price increases on global hunger

READ the entire article here:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brewing Happy Employees


THIS is a good talk by a practical woman on Brewing happy employees.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mathematical predictions for cities and for companies

An economist asks if democracy is bad for business

Brazillians are fed up with corruption

Brazilians rally against corruption

Protesters wearing clown noses whistle and shout during the march against corruption in Brasilia, Brazil, 7 September 2011The protesters say corrupt politicians are the real clowns

Thousands of people have joined anti-corruption demonstrations in Brazil, as the country marks its Independence Day.
Wearing face paint and clown noses, protesters joined crowds watching the traditional military parade in the capital, Brasilia.
Similar protests were held in other cities across Brazil.
Three government ministers have left office amid corruption allegations since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January.
Dozens of government officials have also lost their jobs or been arrested, and several other ministers have been accused of corruption, though all deny wrongdoing.
Some of the protesters chanted slogans in support of President Rousseff, who has promised a zero-tolerance approach to corruption.
Others gathered outside government ministries and the Congress with buckets and mops in a symbolic gesture to wash away corruption.
The demonstration in Brasilia - dubbed the March Against Corruption - had no political party affiliation.
Many of the protesters were students, who organised the demonstration using social networking websites.

Start Quote

We all have a duty to combat corruption and the president supports this”
Eduardo CardosoJustice Minister
The protest was backed by Brazil's College of Lawyers, the Brazilian Press Association, and the National Bishops' Conference.
"Corruption in our country is a pandemic which threatens the credibility of institutions and the entire democratic system," the three organisations said in a joint statement.
Justice Minister Eduardo Cardoso also voiced support.
"We all have a duty to combat corruption and the president supports this," he said.
"I think it is a legitimate demonstration and an opportunity for everyone to fulfil their role as citizens."
Multiple scandals
President Rousseff's chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, resigned in June after media reports questioned his rapid accumulation of wealth.
President Rousseff waves to the crowds from her car during Independence Day celebrationsPresident Rousseff's drive against corruption has strained her governing coalition
Since then, the ministers of agriculture and transport have resigned after corruption allegations surfaced, though like Mr Palocci, all deny wrongdoing.
A fourth minister, Nelson Jobim at defence, also departed, after making disparaging remarks to the media about colleagues.
President Rousseff has won widespread praise for her firm reaction to the successive corruption scandals.
But her determination to clean up her administration had put severe strain on her governing coalition, which is made up of more than a dozen parties.
Some Brazilian political parties have traditionally given their support to the government in return for official jobs for their members and for money - either for personal gain or for party funding.
Taken directly from BBC on-line.

How to deal with Corruption

Corrupt Indian official's house turned into school

Children from Musahar community expressing joyThe slum children are delighted at their new school building

The house of a senior Indian civil servant on trial for corruption has been turned into a school for slum children.
Shiv Shankar Verma had his property in the Bihar state capital, Patna, confiscated under new state laws.
Mr Verma denies amassing wealth disproportionate to his income.
It is thought to be the first time such a law has been used in this way in India, which has been hit by a series of corruption scandals.
The school opened on Thursday to the delight of about 100 children, mainly from the Dalit (formerly untouchable) community.

Start Quote

Our previous school building was dilapidated and stinking from every corner”
Amit KumarStudent of new school
Mr Verma's three-storey house in the Rukunpura area of Patna was seized on Sunday as part of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's drive against corruption in Bihar, one of India's poorest states.
The civil servant is charged with accumulating more than $335,000 in illegal wealth.
"The palatial house is now a government primary school," said a senior government official, Anjani Kumar Singh.
Most of the pupils at Primary School Rukunpura are from the Musahar (rat catcher) community. They were visibly excited at their new premises.
"Our previous school building was dilapidated and stinking from every corner… this one is quite new and well-maintained. We'll enjoy coming here every day to study," said Amit Kumar who is in his third year at primary school.
Shiv Shankar Verma's house turned into schoolThe new school is much bigger than the pupils' old one
Under the Bihar Special Courts Act 2009, the state government is empowered to confiscate the property of any official charged with corruption - even while the trial is under way and a conviction has yet to be secured.
Officials from Bihar's State Vigilance Unit raided Mr Verma's house in July 2007 and found large amounts of gold and foreign currency.
Mr Verma is currently suspended from his post at the state's irrigation ministry.
Neither he nor his lawyer were available for comment following the confiscation of his house.
He has appealed against the decision to confiscate his assets in the Supreme Court.
"If he gets relief from the apex court and wins the case the state government under the new act has to return the properties of the official with 5% interest," said an official of the state government.
Bihar officials have lodged corruption cases against nearly 20 other government officials, including a former state police chief.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to fight computer viruses

This TED talk lets us know the route to fighting computer viruses. The talk is by Mikko Hypponen.

Cross Industry Transformation

Ways to make progress in tough issues when bringing stakeholders together to solve big problems.
Using generative approaches is moving away from personal experience and past learnings. This can help us to see things freshly and holistically.

Unified Communications

Well, if the hype is to be believed, unified communications (UC) may have saved the day.
Tech talk
Jargon like this can seem daunting to those uninitiated in the dark arts of IT and telephony.
But what it actually means is bringing together all of the communication tools you use on a daily basis - phone, email, messaging, even video conferencing and social media - and running them from a single platform. This should allow you to see where your staff are, if they're available, if a colleague can help instead - in the office and also when they're on the move - all from one simple interface.
You can then choose how you contact staff and customers.
Dial it in
Lebara provides low-cost international telephone calls.
UC and a niche contact centre package is crucial to their customer services says Rodney Sheriff, Lebara's head of customer service. "We like to think of ourselves as best in class from a customer service perspective. " They use technology provided by UC specialists Avaya. And having an integrated service means that the customer service centre is integrated with the back office operation.
"We can route customers calls to the best person to deal with their enquiries.
"We can leave messages for common-place queries so people can get fast access to that information, and if there is a problem it becomes very visible to us.
"The suite gives us instantaneous reporting so we can easily see that marketing, for example, have sent a message that's been misunderstood by our callers, we can see a spike in calls in literally seconds, and we can respond right away."
When agents aren't busy, they can be redirected to customer courtesy calls, through a sophisticated "blended dialer" system. Customers can give feedback on the experience, and Lebara are able to analyse call data to make sure they have enough agents serving each country they operate in.
Matt Kemp is head of operations for customer services and he says that contrary to expectations, the system is easy to use.
"One of the beauties of the system is that I can probably train anyone to record a message and put it on in 10 minutes."
"If we have a major issue we can get a message on there immediately."
Avaya's Nigel Moulton says this niche use of UC is just one of many.
"If you think about the different elements of UC, and you apply it to a business scenario here at Lebara, you have a front office and back office operation that need to be tightly integrated.
"If you have elements of the business that aren't integrated, you end up with an ineffective way of dealing with customers, and perhaps a cultural set-up within the company that doesn't allow you to be as flexible as you would like."
Mr Moulton believes that the principles of UC can be applied to most businesses.
"If you think about the average day for the knowledge worker in any organisation - the things they have to process on an average day - email, voicemail, team meetings, collaboration, messaging, all of these things are now pretty prevalent on every employees desktop and they also by and large exist on mobile phones.
"If you want teams to be as productive and collaborative as they can be then you need to give them a common set of tools and applications to use on a daily basis, and these should integrate as seamlessly as possible with their telephony systems and messaging systems."
The company's latest offering is the Avaya Flare user experience that can be used with an optional desktop video device. The plan is to roll this out to other devices such as tablets and mobiles.
Choices, choices
There are no shortage of UC options - Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are just some of the big names to choose from.
BT offers its own service, and also works with a range of UC providers.
"We think of ourselves as the great integrators," says Steve Masters, head of global unified communications.
For him, collaboration is the key benefit of a UC system.
"[It's really about] bringing your organisation far closer together, the ability to then extend that externally and have greater communications and collaboration with your partners."
He acknowledges that cost can be a big consideration for smaller businesses. "[That] market and the corporate markets are very different. "They're diametrically opposed almost. The corporate world views UC as a way of saving money, because there will be so much cost involved in running all these disparate systems." For a big multinational one factor is being able to move away from using the different technologies provided in different countries by telecoms providers.
"It's not unknown for organisations to have voicemail systems in the hundreds across their organisations.
"So there there's a need to move to a UC one to get better collaboration in the organisation but also to drive cost down in the business.
Mr Masters says that for a small single office operation however, the costs could be prohibitive with limited return on that investment.
He sees video as the next big growth area for the market.
"The analysts are all predicting great things for video over the next three years.
"When people are working remotely you can really enrich the dynamics of a remote meeting through having video."
Changing minds
Duncan Clark is UC specialist with analysts Canalys. He says although UC is nothing new, consumerisation - the drive from people inside companies to have technology that mirrors what they use at home - is changing perspectives.
"I guess people think of consumerisation in terms of people bringing in their own devices or going on the internet and using their own tools, I think it runs much deeper than that it's actually the whole experience that people expect from their workplace that
"I think that's what's changed, and what's really changing the focus, making UC more marketable to a wider audience."
For companies considering adopting the technology, he says that cost doesn't have to be a barrier.
"The beauty of UC is that it's not necessary that you take the whole package, and I think that's the thing that gets misunderstood."You don't have to implement everything, it's about saying what tools do I need to make the business work.""The reality is UC can make a huge difference but it's something that's difficult to measure in real terms."But he does have a few words of warning.
"The key thing for businesses is to really get the background information. I think there's a severe lack of understanding about what the different aspects of UC will actually bring to your business.
"For example, you may think that video conferencing will bring benefits, but when you actually deploy it you find people aren't using it.
"You need to look at what specific solution you choose, and how you implement it and use it in the business."

Greening the world one strand at a time.

Taken from the BBC report Sept 11, 2011
Jute, a vegetable fibre that can be spun into sackcloth, used to be the 'golden fibre' of Bangladesh.
It brought much-needed foreign income to the impoverished nation.
But it lost its lustre in the 1980s after synthetic materials like polythene and plastics were introduced.
Now the natural fibre has made a spectacular comeback.
Exports of jute and jute products from Bangladesh this fiscal year crossed a record billion dollars as demand for the natural fibre is steadily increasing.
JuteJute is grown all over Bangladesh
With growing environmental awareness, jute, which is bio-degradable, has become the preferred alternative to polluting synthetic bags.
Jute is considered to be the second most important natural fibre after cotton in terms of cultivation and usage. It is mainly grown in eastern India, Bangladesh, China and Burma.
Until recently the fibre was used mostly as a packaging material. With a diversification of jute products, the demand for jute has increased.
"By processing the fibre mechanically and by treating it chemically, now jute can be used to make bags, carpets, textiles and even as insulation material," says Mohammad Asaduzzaman, a scientist at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute in Dhaka.
Jute being soakedAfter harvesting, the jute is stored in water until it begins to rot
When synthetics like polythene bags came into widespread use, the demand for jute declined and many jute mills in countries like Bangladesh were shut down.
Thousands lost their jobs and farmers shifted from jute to more profitable rice cultivation.
Today, as demand increases, more farmers are returning to this traditional crop.
It is estimated that nearly five million farmers are involved in jute plant cultivation in Bangladesh. It plays a key supportive role to the rural economy of Bangladesh.
Once the jute plants are harvested they are bundled together and immersed in running water and allowed to rot.
Jute being separatedOne it has become soft, the jute fibre is separated by hand
Then the fibres are stripped from the plant. The stripped fibre is dried and later sent to mills for processing.
Golam Moazzam, a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, in Dhaka says: "It is important to note that policy support also contributed to its widespread use of jute both locally and internationally.
"For example, the Bangladeshi government has made it compulsory to use jute bags for packaging of food grains."
New uses
Jute is also versatile, strong and long-lasting and scientists say they are discovering more uses for it in different sectors.
For example, Geotextiles, a diversified jute product, is used for soil-erosion control and also used in laying roads to give more durability. The natural fibre is also used to make pulp and paper.
Jute bundlesOnce dry, the jute fibres are bundled and sent to factories to be processed
Bangladeshi scientists are now working on an ambitious project to blend jute fabric with cotton to produce denim fabric.
They say if the jute plant is harvested earlier than the usual period of 120 days, then it gives a softer fabric.
"If this special quality of fibre is chemically modified and bleached then it becomes softer. If we can blend it with cotton then we can manufacture denim fabric and diversified textile products," says Mr Asaduzzaman
If this process can be commercialised, he says, it will bring down the demand for cotton, which is also becoming dearer day by day.
The price of fabric can be reduced by a half, bringing benefits to the country's garment sector.
Jute deliveryThe resurgence of the jute industry has created jobs for many local people
However, there are bottlenecks.
Special machines are required to blend this fibre with cotton and they are yet to be produced commercially. Scientists hope spinning factories will be able to install these machines in the near future.
"Unfortunately, there is not much research going on in terms promoting diversified jute products," says Mr Moazzam.
"Countries like Bangladesh and India, who are the major jute exporting countries, should conduct collaborative research to find out diversification of jute products."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sáez: Why next IMF chief must come from developing world

By Lawrence Sáez,

for CNNMay 20, 2011 -- Updated 0909 GMT (1709 HKT)

London (CNN) -- The accusations on the alleged criminal behavior of the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), are causing a great deal of public relations damage to an international institution that was already in serious need of an image overhaul.

As a result of the scandal surrounding DSK, there are already unofficial candidates discreetly nudging to replace him. In my part of the world, for instance, the name of Gordon Brown resonates quite strongly. He was a very capable Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) and later, as prime minister of the UK, he was credited for taking a leadership role in addressing the recent global financial crisis. Of course many would argue that he responded capably to a crisis that he helped create, but that is another story.

The names of other potential candidates to replace DSK have emerged, notably Christine Lagarde, France's current finance minister. What is at issue here is that the only people available to replace DSK are Europeans. Why is this the case? When the three most prominent international financial institutions were created at the Bretton Woods conference, the informal agreement was for the precursor to the World Bank (then known at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to be headed by an American. The IMF, instead, would be headed by a European. Since then, this informal pact has been sustained. So far, 10 European technocrats (including DSK) have served as the IMF chief. Frankly, none of them memorable (except DSK), most of them outright dull.

In the aftermath of World War II it may have made sense to involve Europeans in the formation of new international institutions. Although devastated by the war, Western Europe remained at the heart of the international economy in the postwar era. At the time, the world's monetary stability depended on the re-emergence of European nations. However, the world has changed since the end of the World War II and the postwar arrangements are clearly anachronistic.


The emergence of China, India, and other large emerging markets has diminished the importance of Europe in absolute terms. For instance, if the province of Jiansu (China) were a country, it would have a GDP equivalent to Switzerland. If measured in GDP per capita terms, the Chinese province of Shanghai would have a GDP per capita equivalent to Saudi Arabia. To think that Europe matters a great deal is an illusion.

In light of the new realities, the IMF needs to refresh its outlook and consider that the large countries in the developing world are critical to the global economy. One way to recognize this change would be to appoint an IMF managing director from the developing world. There are many reasons why the IMF should pursue this option. First and foremost, the bulk of the IMF's lending activities are geared to low and lower-middle income developing countries. However, these countries have negligible voting power and no presence on the IMF's executive board. Given that the IMF has such a large impact on developing countries, it is appalling that developing countries have no representation in this institution.

Over the years, as stated in its Articles of Agreement, one of the self-stated core functions of the IMF is to "to give confidence to members by ... providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity." In achieving this mission, the IMF has failed spectacularly in its ability to demonstrate why some macroeconomic policy options (negotiated with countries that have received IMF assistance to repair balance of payment maladjustments) need to be pursued.

Although the IMF has to proscribe very tough macro-economic measures, it has in turn become a pantomime villain in many developing countries. Even appropriate policy responses to repair balance of payments crises are perceived as being imposed from above, from some obscure imperialistic organism. As a result, IMF-inspired policy prescriptions are politically very unpopular in developing countries and they are often derailed. Therefore, the effectiveness of IMF measures is highly constrained.

The IMF would benefit from having a managing director who exhibits greater awareness of the difficulties of managing a fragile economy: in other words the IMF needs to be represented from someone from the developing world. This would not be a touchy-feely symbolic act to appease some malcontents. It would serve very pragmatic goals because there is certainly no lack of outstanding talent from developing countries. Kemal Dervis, Turkey's former finance minister, or Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, are highly capable and respected policy makers. If I had a magic wand, I would appoint Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist and a brilliant professor of finance at the University of Chicago.
Any of these individuals would be able to demonstrate that the IMF is not the enemy of the developing world. This is essential at a time in which the IMF itself is in crisis.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lawrence Sáez.

Tim Hortons CEO exits company abruptly

The board of Tim Hortons made the announcement Wednesday. Executive chair Paul House, who once held the top job in the company, will take on the role again on a temporary basis, the board said. Tim Hortons 3-month stock chart Tim Hortons would not elaborate to CBC News on the sudden departure of the CEO. But one analyst, who did not want to be named, said Schroeder's abrupt departure appeared to be against his will.

A release from Tim Hortons hinted at the internal strife.

"Don Schroeder has made significant contributions to Tim Hortons during his 20 years of service, and although a transitional arrangement could not be reached, we appreciate his leadership as president and CEO since his appointment in 2008," interim CEO Paul House said in a release."We have a talented, experienced and highly capable executive group, and we will continue to drive execution of our established strategic growth plans and initiatives, which are designed to capitalize on market opportunities, as the board concludes the process to appoint a new CEO."
Two weeks ago, Tim Hortons reported quarterly results that missed analysts' expectations, disappointing investors. The stock price promptly tumbled by more than four per cent. At the time, Schroeder noted that Canadian same-store sales were affected by higher redemptions for food and beverage prizes in the company's popular Roll Up the Rim to Win promotional contest.
The Tim Hortons board said it was already engaged in comprehensive succession planning for the CEO position as part of its strategic planning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Law of Mother Earth” set to pass in Bolivia:

“Law of Mother Earth” set to pass in Bolivia: Will President Morales’ indigenous values save the economy?

by Three Sonorans on May. 22, 2011, under Headline news

Bolivia is a very important country in South America, historically, politically, and for the future.The popular and indigenous President Evo Morales has brought in a series of reforms that some US Economists hate, but that his people love, which has led to a better standard of living for the poor. Now Morales is set to pass the historic “Law of Mother Earth.”With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth, which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.
A decade ago Bolivia was the poorest country in South America, and Bolivia is the country where Che Guevara was captured and killed.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The “Chicago boys” from the Milton Friedman school of capitalism were unleashed up South America, using countries as a live lab for their economics experiments that affected the poorest of the poor drastically.Bolivia was one such country and its response to this attack by American economists may be a model for other countries.To begin with, a whole volume of books can be written about the next statement I will make, but put simply, what Americans believe about their economic system is mostly delusional. People who love their police and fire departments, schools, libraries, and roads and bridges and clean water in their tap, along with government programs such as Medicare are sometimes the first to bash “socialism” without realizing they are directly benefiting from “socialist” government programs.
The top employers in Tucson, Arizona are all “socialist”, with the University of Arizona, State of Arizona, Pima County, and City of Tucson making up 4 of the 5 top employers. The top employer is Raytheon, which gets most of its money from the US Government, unless private citizens in Tucson are going up to the Raytheon shopping line and buying Patriot missiles. Even private construction firms get paid by the government to build roads and bridges and schools, etc. Americans also fail to factor in the very real advantage that slavery has on the economy. With zero labor costs, its not necessary capitalism but slavery impacting the economy, and with exploitation of labor overseas in sweatshops and locally with immigrant labor, and the extraction of natural resources from other countries using the US Military as the security firm to protect these corporations (such as from oil) as they do so, with the permission of the US puppet put into office to run that country… let’s just say it’s the “invisible hand of the market” seems to be worn by Big Brother in the United States.

Back to Bolivia

Pretending that the riches the United States has comes solely from capitalism, the US decided to try some disastrous economic experiments in South America using the World Bank as its main tool.The World Bank is the Payday Loans of the Third-World. At least Arizona, even under Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce, got rid of the predatory loan targeting the poor. What would the World Bank do? They would lend money to the poorest of the poor with certain requirements (usually privatization of some natural resource) that would always allow the country to be further exploited by multinational corporations.
In Bolivia, the resource that was privatized was water. Rather than view water as a right of all people, a public good, water was privatized and was now owned by Aguas de Tunari, which was owned by a company you may have heard of, the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. As soon as the water was privatized, the cost of water doubled. Cochabamba is a town of 800,000 situated high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. Two years ago, a popular protest there turned into a deadly riot. The army battled civilians in the streets on and off for three months, hundreds were arrested, a seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed, the government of Bolivia nearly collapsed. The issue was water.

The spark was privatization. A private consortium, dominated by the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, had taken over Cochabamba’s water system and raised water rates. Protestors blamed Bechtel for trying to “lease the rain.” New Yorker writer William Finnegan traveled to Cochabamba to learn about the water war and to see what lessons could be drawn about privatization, globalization and the growing anger in Latin America over economic inequality.

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. 70% of its people live below the poverty line. Nearly one child in ten dies before the age of five. The Bolivian economy, never strong, was wrecked by hyperinflation in the 1980s. Desperate for relief, Bolivia has been faithfully following the dictates of the international lending community for the past fifteen years — selling its airline, railroads, mines and electric company to private — usually foreign-controlled — companies. The economic shock therapy tamed inflation but led to severe recession and massive unemployment.

What made this even more egregious was that peasants could not even collect rainwater. ALL the water in Bolivia was now privately owned, and the cost of it just doubled, now costing the average person a quarter of their monthly income. The Frontline – PBS excerpt I linked to above has some video news stories during this time.

President Evo Morales.

The people in Bolivia finally had enough, and in 2005 elected the Aymara-descended indigenous President Evo Morales.The socialist President brought in many needed reforms. Bolivia actually has many natural resources, and need not be the poorest country in South America. But when the country sells it all to an American company to exploit, then the people on that land are left behind in poverty.President Morales is now using many of Bolivia’s natural resources to benefit the people first, not multinational corporations that are already rich enough.Now the Native American President has put Mother Earth in her proper place, the source of all life, and our life, viewed not just as resources to be exploited, mined, a polluted, but as (from above): as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities

Trees have a right to live also, and deforestation should not take place just so a few people can become billionaires. Mountains which are homes to millions of lifeforms, trees, bugs, insects, birds, etc, should not be blown up just so that we can get a few of the shiny rocks inside. Protecting the wilderness is not a wild idea, but the best idea. Yes, the economy suffers as consumerism drops, but then again, pretty soon it is going to drop anyways once the oil runs dry and clean water no longer available to many in desert communities (such as Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas). Even desalination will be nearly impossible due to the super-high energy costs.

Indigenous communities in the United States

There are many Third World communities in the United States also, and many are right here in Arizona.
The Navajo reservation is one of them, and it is being exploited like Bolivia was, and every single person living in surrounding states, from El Paso to Los Angeles, are all guilty of this exploitation that takes place to this very day.

The Navajo Generating Station and the Three Sisters of Destruction.

The Navajo reservation is a prime example of environmental racism, and even Democrats are guilty of this in Arizona, such as former “blue dog” Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick who represented the Navajo Nation until 2011, who favors mining over what Native Americans have to say, including siding with Resolution Copper over the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Hualapai, Yavapai Apache, Camp Verde, and Tonto Apache Tribes. There are many highly-coveted natural resources to be found near the Four Corners area all the way to the beginning of the Grand Canyon and including top tourist spots such as Monument Valley (the famous formations Ford filmed in his westerns were once uranium mines).

Coal-powered electrical generating plants, such as the one that powers Tucson from the Irvington/Alvernon/I-10 plant get coal from Peabody Coal, which comes from the Navajo Nation.
Not only do we get coal from the Navajo Nation to burn here in Tucson, we also benefit from the electricity that is generated up north with coal that is mined from nearby. Among the coal plants you will find on the Navajo Nation are the dirtiest and top carbon-oxide emitters in the entire country, from the Four Corners Plant to the Navajo Generating Station.The pollution is so bad that sometimes a haze covers the Grand Canyon and can burn the eyes of the tourist.

Not only is there lots and lots of coal, but there is lots of uranium to be found there, and the home of the largest nuclear power plant in the United States is the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant outside of Phoenix. It is also the only nuclear power plant not near a body of water in our country, but instead uses 20,000,000,000 gallons of water a year from groundwater and other scarce sources of Phoenix water.All the water that comes to Tucson via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which pumps water uphill over 300 miles from the Colorado River near Parker, AZ to Avra Valley west of Tucson is powered by the Navajo Generating Station.

Navajo home near the uranium mines. Photo: Rachel Wise

Just as egregious as in Bolivia, the water supply in Northern Arizona has been tapped into by the mining companies and is being sucked dry, and to add insult to injury, many homes on the Navajo reservation have zero power running to them, even with huge power lines running nearby.Cassandra Begay knows what it’s like to be without power. Her home is just 1 1/2 miles away from Arizona Highway 264 where electric transmissions lines hang so near, yet so far away.Another five families live in the area – all without electricity.

“We use kerosene lamps at night, and then some of us that can afford it, we have generators for electricity,” Begay said.For heat, the family uses wood-burning stove. For cooking, the family uses propane. For refrigeration, Begay puts the food outside when it’s cold.“Other than that, I go out daily and get some meat. Just like right now, we went out and got some meat, and we have to cook the whole thing today,” she said pointing to two packages of beef on the kitchen table.
Without electricity, the family can’t pump water, either, assuming they had water to pump.
Asked whether she would like to have electricity, Begay said, “Oh, that would be wonderful.”

Imagine not having a refrigerator in Arizona. Imagine there being no place to charge up your laptop, your iPhone, no internet, no lights, and in the summer, no air-conditioning. How would you feel if everyone was getting energy from the land you live on, siphoning away natural resources while you live in poverty?As bad as things were in places like Bolivia with water privatization, things are just as bad even here in Arizona, and it is the same cycle of oppression, of the exploitation of indigenous peoples that continues to this day, and we are all a part of it. And it is not just the Navajo, but even Tucson’s Santa Rita mountains have already been sold to a Canadian mining company which will profit from the Rosemont Copper mine as Tucson’s economy falls and in a few years we will be left with an environmental disaster, less water, and not even a scenic site to enjoy anymore south of town.
Sometimes those that exploit end up getting exploited themselves, and the cycle continues.