Arthur Neslen & Gibby Zobel
From all over Europe and beyond they came, idealists, activists, dreamers and revolutionaries, but their sights were set on events in the Middle East. The streets of Paris were brought to a halt in a blaze of colour, music and optimism as 100,000 people demonstrated against capitalist globalisation at the end of the second European Social Forum (ESF). “The message of our protest is that we want a Europe that has rights for all its citizens, in a world without war,” Pierre Khalfa, a march organiser said on Saturday.
The world should form a world solidarity movement against capitalist-dominated globalisation - this was the message of more than 60,000 delegates from 1,750 non-governmental European organizations meeting in Paris, amid much fanfare between Tuesday and Friday this week.
There is a clear indication that counter-terrorism measures have subsumed the spirit of Monterrey and dashed hopes for international cooperation on financing for development, and the prospects for the equitable and sustainable development of the South are bleak.
A seven-mile dam is being built with the support of the World Bank across a northern section of the shrunken and dying Aral Sea in Central Asia, which is already described as the world’s worst environmental disaster. This latest move would sound the region’s economic and ecological death knell, condemn millions to poverty and ill health, and could spark off a region-wide war.
Thirty years ago the British physician, Julian Tudor-Hart published his famous ‘inverse care law’: “those who most need medical care are the least likely to get it.” Modern pharmaceutical research is playing Dr. Hart’s law out on a macabre global scale. While the debilitating diseases of the poor - such as malaria, tuberculosis and sleeping sickness - have few or no treatments, the drug companies are busy working on cures for a ballooning set of ‘made-up’ diseases of the rich and privileged.
For those who think that hollywood and the fashion industry don’t care about world poverty, think again. This hilariously satirical review of a recent back-passage motion picture, shows that the corporate world not only cares about starving children, they positively love the idea.
International targets to reduce child poverty are going to be missed because globalised trade and cuts to aid budgets are creating an ever-greater chasm between the richest and poorest countries.
World Food Day, which is today, seems an appropriate occasion to consider both where our food comes from and also who’s hungry in the world. Rich countries spend hundreds of billions a year subsidizing their farmers, making it almost impossible for poor nations to compete. By blocking access to the market, rich nations end up depriving poor nations of an opportunity to improve their living standards.
The number of people seeking refuge as a result of environmental disaster is set to increase dramatically over the coming years. Ironically, given current attitudes, we in Britain will resist accommodating them, and yet they will have become refugees as a direct result of the way we in the west live. Global warming - more than war or political upheaval - stands to displace millions. And climate change is being driven by our fossil fuel-intensive lifestyles.
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