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The WDM Death Counter

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Linked with Mohau Pheko – South Africa, with The World Development Movement WDM, with The International Gender and Trade Network IGTN, and with New social justice movements in a changing reality.

The WDM Death Counter
– Published on World Development Mouvement/News on December 1, 2006.

Second life residents told to keep it real

A large death counter has been placed in a prominent place in, 3 dimensional virtual world ‘Second Life’ by global anti-poverty campaigners the World Development Movement (WDM). The digital counter records the number of children who have died as a result of preventable global poverty since Second Life was founded. The figure currently stands at over thirty six million, one hundred and ninety seven thousand. The organisation has already started a group in Second Life and plans to hold public meetings on global poverty issues. WDM is the first campaigning organisation to establish a permanent presence in Second Life.

Peter Taylor, Web Officer at WDM said:

“Millions of people are now spending more and more of their time in Second Life or similar virtual environments. We are here to remind them that they can’t escape the problems of the real world.

“One child dies unnecessarily of poverty every three seconds. That’s a crime – a crime committed by those wealthy and powerful enough to prevent it.

We need to keep up the pressure on the governments of the wealthy nations to deliver real change for the world’s poor. Having a presence in Second Life is just one way of helping us get this message out to everyone who needs to hear it.”

The World Development Movement is calling on Second Lifers to join the online group to help campaign for an end to global poverty and a cut in carbon emissions by rich country governments.

See also: Second Life URL.
And: Whose rules rule? African answers.

Primary Education in Spain – Pupils may choose

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Published on Euroresidentes, on December 07, 2006 – Reforms in primary education in Spain: The government has announced reforms in primary school education. The new decree is called Minimum Teaching in Primary and will come into force in the next academic year. The biggest changes with respect to the current system is that primary school pupils will be able to choose whether or not to study Religious Education, and those who choose not to will have the right to study an alternative subject.

This is already the case in most state schools, but many private schools with religious connections offer no substitute to the traditional Religious Education classes in Spain, which teach children the ins and outs of Catholic beliefs. All schools will be obliged to undertake the “organizational measures” necessary to offer the alternative to its pupils, ensuring that no pupils will be discriminated against whether they choose one option or the other. This means that whether or not a student has studied Religious Education will no longer be taken into account when he or she applies for a place at university or a higher education grant. (Read the rest on Euroresidentes).

no more any Human Rights teachings in Zimbabwe

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Published on The Zimbabwean, on Dec. 7, 2006.

HARARE – The Zimbabwean government has suspended the teaching of human rights and democracy in secondary schools and announced the setting up of the Chitepo Ideology College, poised to indoctrinate youths in Zanu (PF)’s socialist policies.

This is in addition to Border Gezi youth militia training – already a prerequisite for admission to tertiary institutions, including the Journalism School at the Harare Polytechnic.

The government has been implementing a pilot project to include human rights and democracy education in the syllabi of secondary schools in three provinces. The project was to be extended to the remaining seven provinces next year.

Documents in possession of The Zimbabwean show that the government has directed that the pilot project be withdrawn immediately and all teaching of human rights and democracy suspended. No reasons were cited in the education ministry’s circular to the affected schools.

The move comes at a time when teachers and principals in Gokwe have been forced by gun-toting youths to form Zanu (PF) branches and cells at schools. The youngsters, headed by notorious gang leader Toki Marufu, brutally assaulted five teachers – one of them a pregnant woman – at a primary school in Gokwe about two weeks ago after the teachers failed to produce Zanu (PF) cards. (Read the whole article on The Zimbabwean).

Africa: Enhancing Human Rights Courses in the Commonwealth

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Published on All’Africa.com on December 6, 2006, from the Commonwealth News and Information Service.

A new model curriculum, designed to assist teachers in developing human rights courses, will be unveiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat on International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2006. The publication – developed by the Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit – aims to help raise the quality and quantity of human rights courses in Commonwealth law schools, colleges and universities.

“Ignorance and prejudice are the enemies of our collective progress,” Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Florence Mugasha said in London ahead of the launch of the publication, which will be made available at the 16th Commonwealth Education Ministers Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 11 December. “There is a responsibility and a challenge for teachers and educators in the Commonwealth to motivate, inform and respond to their young people and students on issues of human rights,” Ms Mugasha added.

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about African foster girls

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Published on Journalists for Human Rights JHR, on November 19, 2006.

Rukaya, a 16-year-old girl, has been living with her aunt since she was five. Her cousins go to school. They don’t lift a finger at home. Rukaya’s biological mother still has some of her own children in her home. She visits Rukaya on occasion.

“But I want to go home,” Rukaya says. “My sisters at home don’t have to do chores all day. My work is too difficult.”

Rukaya left school in Primary 4. According to Mahama Abukari, who is currently taking his Masters in Human Rights and writing a thesis on “Fostering,” foster mothers only put foster children in school in their early years for daycare. “When they are old enough to perform duties at home, their aunties will pull them out of school,” he says. In 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was established in Ghana. It states that “Children shall have time to rest and play, equal opportunities for cultural and artistic activities. States shall protect economic exploitation and work that may interfere with education or be harmful to health and well-being.” The panellists say, like so many laws and written conventions in Ghana, they are aspirations but never implemented.

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Education has become a traded service

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by KATARINA TOMAŠEVSKI, Professor of International Law and International Relations at Lund University, Sweden, and founder of the Right to Education Project, published on Right to Education on April 5, 2004.
(Excerpt): … When the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was drafting its general comment on the right to education, it had to conclude that it had received not a single one of detailed plans of action, although almost half the countries reporting to the Committee had to acknowledge that education was neither free, nor compulsory, nor all-encompassing. So indeed, the right to education is neglected and there are too many reasons for this. The first reason for this is [that] requiring governments to adopt detailed plans of action to put primary education into practice without providing them with any assistance is simply not a feasible proposal. So the reason why there are no plans of action is that the government would have to invest its resources to create a plan of action which would remain unfunded. There are plans of action, not for the right to education but for the accomplishment of primary education under poverty reduction strategy papers, which means institutions which do not follow the right to education approach, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, get from heavily indebted countries their poverty reduction strategy papers which have to include allocation for primary education and primary health care. But this is not the right place. There is no guarantee that education should be free; if it is not free then it can’t be compulsory, and if it is neither free nor compulsory, it is not all-encompassing. So what happens is that we get most action and funding for education completely outside United Nations human rights bodies … (Read the whole interview on this page).

more education and less weapons

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Published on hrea.org on December 5, 2006 – Costa Rican president’s proposal to invest more in education and less in weapons gets OAS (Organization of American States) backing. Secretary General José Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States (OAS) said today that the OAS “enthusiastically” supports an international initiative spearheaded by Costa Rican President and Nobel laureate Oscar Arias to create a hemispheric mechanism to provide debt forgiveness and international funding for developing countries that invest more in education, health and housing, and devote less to military spending … // …

In his remarks, the Costa Rican leader explained that a UN working group studying the creation of such a treaty will presents its recommendations within a year. “This is only a small victory. The road ahead for this initiative is long, and the support of OAS member countries is vital for this to become reality,” Arias said. The President also referred to the grave problem of poverty in the Americas. “Hungry people have no real power,” he said. Arias underscored the importance of a basic truth: “While prosperity and growth alone are not sufficient to uphold democratic regimes, without them maintaining our freedoms becomes a titanic effort.” Temptations to become autocratic, he added, arise more easily where hunger, ignorance and frustration provide fertile ground for messianic voices … // …

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… a way of talking about “systems thinking”

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Linked with Karl-Henrik Robèrt – Sweden, and with The Natural Step TNS.

Excerpts of the ‘SCHUMACHER LECTURE 1995′: … A system, as everyone knows, is constructed according to a set of overall principles. For example, in football there are eleven players in each team. In this game-system, there is one ball, two goals and a bunch of other rules. We don’t approach the referee before the match: “Please could we have fourteen players in our team today . . .?” The players all understand the overall principles of football, and these rules are non-negotiable at least for the duration of the match. There are also people with different skills in the team: a goalkeeper, strikers, and so forth. They work together as an intelligent team because they share the same mental model … // … HOWEVER, THE LAST century has seen a drastically increasing linear flow of materials, powered by fossil fuel sources. The end products from rubbish bins, chimneys, exhaust pipes, drains and sewage treatment works, do not simply disappear – nothing can disappear. Any of this which is not recruited into new resources, by either society or nature, will accumulate as waste whilst at the same time the available resources will diminish.

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about the European Civil Society

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Linked with Maria Szyszkowska – Poland.

Towards a Supranational European Civil Society

The subject of this short paper will focus on the development towards a new supranational European form of civil society. I seek to shed light on the current rediscovery of the concept of civil society and on that of European constitutionalism. Some general aspects of European supranational order, which is characterized by its capacity to accommodate diversity will be looked into. Then I shall discuss legal aspects of Union citizenship as a principle of supranational civil society, which reflects the multilevel character of governance within Europe in more detail.

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India-China: Tibetans’ Human Rights Are Not Negotiable

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Published on Human Rights Watch (not dated). New Delhi, November 17, 2006, – Indian Officials Must Raise Rights Concerns With Visiting Chinese President. The Indian government should publicly reverse its decision to ban peaceful protests against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao and rescind its threat to deport those protestors, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. President Hu arrives in New Delhi on Monday to discuss common strategic and economic interests.

Local officials in Dharamsala, home to thousands of Tibetan refugees, have this week told activists that they may not fly banners bearing phrases like “Free Tibet” and discouraged them from leaving the town, presumably to prevent them from protesting near the leaders’ meetings in New Delhi.

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Delhi blasts accused killed in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Dec 1 (IANS) The Indian Army Friday claimed to have gunned down a key accused in the serial blasts in the national capital on Diwali eve last year that killed nearly 60 people.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. A.K. Mathur told IANS that security forces gunned down Ali Baba alias Abu Huzefa, deputy commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in an operation at Kreeri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, 40 km from here.

“On specific information provided by locals about the presence of Ali Baba in fields in Kreeri, troops of Rashtriya Rifles launched an operation when the rebel was trapped in a gorge and engaged in a gunfight before being gunned down,” Mathur said.

Several arms, ammunition and documents were recovered from the slain guerrilla.

“He was involved in the pre-Diwali serial blasts in New Delhi and also in atrocities on locals here. He was a resident of Pakistan’s Sindh province and was active in Pattan Sopore area for the past two years,” Mathur said. (Read on planet guru).