Explaining Away Violence Against Women in Darfur, Sudan Gov’t at UN

The Sudanese government attempted an artful campaign of misinformation by way of its presentation at the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women last week in New York. The event, hosted by the Sudanese Women Parliamentary Caucus (SWPC), focused on a government-backed study that was designed to show Khartoum to be concerned about violence against women, willing to take great pains to combat it, yet unable to find evidence of many cases in war-torn Darfur.

Despite hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and reports of rapes per year exceeding 10,000, eve of the government supporting the use of rape as a “tool of war”, the study counted only those cases where the government’s narrow legal definition of rape (”proven” and documented prior to any investigation) permitted actual charges and an eventual conviction. Despite the session’s being advertised as focusing on “women in conflict”, not one aspect of conflict, in the abstract or the particular, was mentioned, save the sparing now-and-then references to “the camps”.

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UN Commission on the Status of Women Reviews ‘Pacific Realities’

The Pacific Islands region is comprised of 22 nations, with a combined population of roughly 9 million, more than half of which live in Papua New Guinea. The island nations present a range of complex and unique issues for development and gender-equality efforts, including entrenched social attitudes that limit women’s ability to pursue education and career performance equal to those available to men, benefitting women’s autonomy and society broadly.

A panel of presenters from several of the island nations spoke of the need to conceive “gender-responsive programs” that are able to grasp women’s real immediate interests and implement relevant strategies for improving conditions for them across Pacific island society.

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It’s Time for China to Start Defending those Victimized by Corruption

The best thing China’s ruling Communist party can do for itself, for its people and for the stability of the nation, is take seriously all petitions for redress of grievances, investigate all claims of official corruption, negligence or assault, give weight to collective or individual property claims by punishing officials who steal property, blaze a path toward transparency in banking, ban government cover-ups and establish a zero-tolerance policy for public officials who use their power to punish or intimidate citizens who come forward seeking justice.

It may sound like a tall order, or an overly optimistic thing to ask, considering China’s authoritarian history and authoritarian present, but there is really no point to such a level of centralization or state orchestration, other than the better legitimating of the claims of citizens against injustice or hardship.

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Stimulus is Needed & Will Mean Big Spending

Whether you are an avid supporter of Barack Obama, a perennial political skeptic, a critic, or a staunchly ideological opponent, it is clear that there must be some sort of vast, perhaps unprecedented economic stimulus put into effect in order to slow or reverse a now spiraling economic downturn. And, all have to admit as well, it is a very risky thing to gamble one’s political capital, at such a crucial moment in American history, on a huge spending package that might not have a very visible effect in the immediate short term.

Stimulus means spending, and that’s why it’s a gamble. It can mean spending by issuing cash tax-credit payouts, which consumers can then use as they please (this will likely lead only to the paying of already existing bills, which tends to be less stimulative, especially when banks are not issuing new credit freely). It can mean spending on public works, which will spur industrial output and is likely the most serious motivator of job-creation.

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Transparency Network as Means of Restoring Financial Confidence

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It may be that “a few bad apples” got the ball rolling on what has turned into a massive international financial disaster. Or, it may be that a few bad apples got their names in lights, while the entire system conspired unwittingly in a spectacular collapse. Either way, the best expression of the problem might be to say that markets have stopped working, in part, because they have been comprehensively modified to stop working like markets.

With capital vanishing, nearly $7 trillion in stock losses in just a few months, and banks refusing to lend even the tens of billions they were given precisely to lubricate the lending process, we are facing a crisis of confidence and an inability to conceptualize shared interest. The idea that self-interest motivates markets somehow developed, irresponsibly, into the idea that self-interest is more important than the functionality of market dynamics.

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Clintonistas, Busheviks & Obamaphiles: Beyond Labeling

ThoughtPossible.com :: The media are ablaze with speculation about whether President-elect Obama will be able to “control the Clintons”, whether his stature is so monumental and secure, after an admittedly meteoric rise, that the vanquished senator from New York will devotedly voice his foreign policy and look good doing it, whether the White House will be infiltrated by “re-treads” from the Clinton years, whether the socialist bailouts of George W. Bush’s own red October are enough to give Obama a pass on the anti-supply-side dictates of a potentially necessary “new New Deal”.

We hear at a constant clip the talk of “Clintonistas” coming “back to power”, of “Bushies” and “Busheviks” leaving a scorched earth behind them in Washington, with the entire potential for cross-party negotiation having to be restructured from scratch, of “Obamaphiles” calling down prophetic hopes from a blue sky vision of national renaissance, a 21st century reshaping of the messianic strain of Western thought. We are asked to believe that major policy initiatives are as easy to formulate or predict as a seating chart, as judged by résumés, for the first Obama cabinet meeting.

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Ripe for Change: What will this season of turning bring? (photos + essay)

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Seasonal photography, by Café Sentido editor J.E. Robertson, a visual essay about a season of historic, urgent & uneasy change

A “wave election”, with public sentiment clearly moving in a new direction, calling for principled governance, with a new focus on progressive aims… economic crisis, having built up over a decade, hidden in the esoteric workings of financial instruments reliant on advanced physics for mathematical proof of viability, worsened by unprincipled exaggerations and manipulations… the potential for a major swing in global opinions about the meaning of political systems… the climate is ripe for change, and we now face the problem of conceptualizing change, in order to see and understand its implementation.

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How a Generative Economic Strategy Trumps ‘Trickle-down’

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To understand the relevance and virtues of Barack Obama’s economic vision, we have to look at the long history of struggle between American laissez-faire capitalism and American middle-class capitalism. We are on the verge of what is likely to be a comprehensive philosophical shift in economic policy toward generative investment, which means counting as economic imperatives the resilience and productive expansion of the positive bases of economic growth, i.e. human and environmental health and well-being, resource-density and cyclical models of resource use and reproduction.

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The Transition to Governing: Reversing a Perfect Storm

Sen. Barack Obama, as president-elect, now faces the daunting task of staging a transition from campaign to governing, and from the Bush years to the Obama years, in what must be the most artful and adroit performance of the task seen in decades. Facing two wars, looming multifaceted economic crisis, and the need to overhaul national energy policy and fight environmental degradation on an unprecedented scale, Obama is faced not just with forming a cabinet and White House team, but formulating a strategy for enacting the change he has promised in a time of historic difficulty.

Reversing a perfect storm of crisis, deficit and discontent is the tall task that from day one threatens to distract Sen. Obama from his ambitious policy proposals to effect change across the board and restore institutional efficiency and fairness in American government. He will have to fashion solutions for a time of economic upheaval, real security problems relating to at least two wars, a policy approach to what appear to be Chinese and Russian expansionist ambitions, and do so within the context of his own policy proposals and campaign promises.

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