25 October 2007

Did you know?

Did you know that around 70 per cent of the 1.3 billion people who live in extreme poverty (on less than one dollar a day) are women and girls?

Did you know that women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn only ten per cent of the world’s income, and own less than one per cent of the world’s property?

Did you know that two-thirds of children denied primary education are girls, and 75 per cent of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women?

Did you know that women hold only 14 per cent of parliamentary seats worldwide, and only eight per cent of the world’s cabinet ministers are women?

Did you know that domestic violence is the biggest cause of injury and death to women worldwide, and that gender-based violence causes more deaths and disability among women (aged 15 to 44) than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war?

Did you know... ?

WomenWatch, UN
Gender Equality, Oxfam
Gender Guide, OneWorld
Women's Rights, Global Issues

19 October 2007

The Shock Doctrine

Short film by Alfonso CuarĂ³n and Naomi Klein.

The Shock Doctrine

18 October 2007

Nobel laureate banned over racist claims

James D. Watson, born in 1928 in Chicago Illinois (USA), is a molecular biologist renown for the discovery of the structure of DNA (together with his colleagues Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, based on the work by Rosalind Franklin), which revolutionised modern biology and genetics.

In 1953, they published their work in the journal Nature, revealing the double helix structure of the DNA. In 1962 they received the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material". In 1968, Watson wrote the book "The Double Helix", on which he wrote not only about the scientific discovery itself, but also about the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding their work. The book changed the way the public viewed scientists and the way they work.

Nevertheless, he has never been shy of controversy, his public utterances leading to him being accused of sexism, racism, homophobia, sizeism and, occasionally, of being simply mad.

In 1997, he told a British newspaper that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual. He later insisted he was talking about a "hypothetical" choice which could never be applied. He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, positing the theory that black people have higher libidos, and argued in favour of genetic screening and engineering on the basis that " stupidity" could one day be cured. He has claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would great."

In 2000, he delivered a lecture at the University of California at Berkeley. Its intensely racist content surprised the academic establishment. Watson proposed that "blacks are genetically prone to laziness, obesity, and have more active sex drives than do whites". Watson's presentation was considered so sexist and racist that many people in the audience walked out.

Today he was banned from speaking at London's Science Museum after saying black people were less intelligent than whites. Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Critics of Dr Watson said there should be a robust response to his views across the spheres of politics and science. Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments. I am sure the scientific community will roundly reject what appear to be Dr Watson's personal prejudices.

Anti-racism campaigners called for Dr Watson's remarks to be looked at in the context of racial hatred laws. A spokesman for the 1990 Trust, a black human rights group, said: "It is astonishing that a man of such distinction should make comments that seem to perpetuate racism in this way. It amounts to fuelling bigotry and we would like it to be looked at for grounds of legal complaint."

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson's remarks "in full".

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962
James D. Watson, Wikipedia
Black people 'less intelligent' scientist claims, The Sunday Times
Fury at DNA pioneer's theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners, The Independent
Science museum bans DNA genius at centre of race row, Daily Mail
A Rogue's Gallery of Academic Racialists, JBHE, No. 31. (2001), pp. 108-111

15 October 2007

Guerrilla Gardening

The concept of Guerrilla Gardening was first used in the 1970's by the activist group Green Guerillas based in New York, USA.

It refers to a form of non-violent direct action, which consists on making use of public urban spaces, many times squandered (like vacant lots, edges of alleys and walks next to buildings, edges of parking lots, etc.), and turning them into community gardens by there planting flowers or vegetables.

Being a grassroots movement, it can involve initiatives aimed at engaging youth and supporting neighbourhood coalitions, this way outlining the power-to-the-people campaign for greening our cities. These community gardens many times serve as outdoor environmental, education and cultural centres, where activities, meetings and events can be held. It can also tackle the issue of food security, by growing food in the cities (where it is most needed) and sending it to emergency food providers.

In the early days, guerrilla gardening was primarily a means of protest. Nowadays, it offers endless possibilities of expression, less destructive than graffiti tags but no less effective. It is the day-by-day use of plants and other visible events to surprise people and make them re-evaluate their position within the natural world...

The Guerrilla Gardening Homepage
Green Guerillas
Guerrilla Gardeners: Resistance is fertile
Guerilla Gardening: How did it start?
Guerilla Garden in Guantanamo

Blog Action Day

"On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future."

Blog Action Day

12 October 2007

Goat tracks...

Another blog is created, which is nothing new. The same way as this one blog is not supposed to bring anything new. It is simply aimed at sharing existing views of the world.

It is based on the belief that there is not only one truth, one way, one perspective. That there is not just right or wrong, good or evil... That the world has many truths, as many as there are living beings, and that they should all be considered…

This way, also this blog will reflect certain truths or interpretations of the reality, not assuming to be better than any other. Nevertheless, it will reflect concerns about the world today. Try to explore the minor tracks, like goat tracks, which no matter how permanent or ephemeral, allow us to cross the reality landscape through routes different from the main information highways. This way giving value to the pluralism and the multitude of opinions, and trying to give voice, in the best way possible, to ideas and perspectives that may otherwise not reach further.