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VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Do You Read Ecolabels When Shopping?

Rut Abrain Sanchez on her blog Esturirafi defines and identifies legal and volunteer product labels. Among the latter we find ecologic labels, “so manufacturers show us they are abiding by a series of requirements and for the consumer to be able to identify products environmentally more sustainable”.

There are Type I, Semi-type I, Type II and Type III ecolables. Abrain Sanchez mentions the first two of them, the most common:

Ecoetiquetas (Tipo I). Son sistemas voluntarios de etiquetado ambiental que identifican y certifican de forma oficial que los productos que la llevan tienen un menor efecto sobre el medio ambiente.

A nivel europeo existen sistemas nacionales de ecoetiquetado como el Ángel Azul de Alemania, AENOR Medio Ambiente de España o la Etiqueta Ecológica Europea (conocida como flor europea).

Etiquetado semi-tipo I. Estas ecoetiquetas suelen pertenecer a organizaciones sociales, asociaciones sectoriales, agrupaciones de empresas fabricantes, etc. cuyo principal objetivo es conseguir que la mayor cantidad de productos posibles se certifiquen bajo su sistema, para lograr el mayor reconocimiento posible por parte de los consumidores.

Dentro de este tipo se encuentran las etiquetas de agricultura ecológica, pesca sostenible, consumo energético, uso de madera (FSC, PEFC), productos textiles… Las que solemos encontrar en muchos productos que compramos a diario. A partir de hoy te vas a fijar mucho más :-)

Ecolabels (Type I). a volunteer system of environmental labelling that officially identifies and certifiies that products bearing it have a lesser effect on the environment.

In Europe, there are ecolabelling national systems, such as Blue Angel in Germany, AENOR Environment in Spain or Ecologic Label (known as European flower).

Semi-type I label. These ecolabels usually belong to social organizations, sectorial associations, groups of manufacturing firms, etc. with the aim of having the most possible products certified under this system, to achieve that most consumers recognize the products.

This type contains labels from ecologic farming, sustainable fishing, energetic use, wood (FSC, PEFC), textile products… We find these labels in many products we purchase on a daily basis. From now on, you'll sure look more in depth at labels :-)

Rut has been previoulsy quoted here. Her social networks are Twitter, G+ and Flickr.

This post was part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

Infographic: 5 Facts About Sri Lanka’s Tamil Community in the North

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a civil society think tank in Sri Lanka, has recently conducted a top line survey on “Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka 2014“. The results show that difference of opinion on the reconciliation still exists between the Tamil and the Sinhalese people after the Sri Lankan civil war.

The findings from the survey with regard to the Tamil community is very significant. Their key issues are poverty and unemployment and they feel deprived having very little say about the affairs of the country. Here is an infographic depicting their plights:

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

Infographic courtesy of Centre For Policy Alternatives

Blogger Argues Corporate Sponsorship Cheapening Bangaldeshi Folk Culture

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, also known as Lalon Shah (c.1774–1890), a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Cheuria, Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

If we look back the history of Bangladesh, we see examples of ancient kings and land lords who sponsored cultural activities, making literature, music and art flourish in the region. In the present era, we see affluent corporations, mostly telecom companies in Bangladesh, taking their place.

They have been going the extra mile to sponsor a wide variety of cultural pursuits, including a rural festival celebrating Fakir Lalon Shah (c. 1774–1890), a popular Bengali baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and thinker, but not always with positive reception.

Zahid Islam at the blog Alal O Dulal explains how corporations are selling the Lalon culture:

In 2007 for the first time in history, Lalon Phokir’s Dol Uthshob (Lalon's Dol Festival) was held under sponsorship, with promotion campaigns so aggressive and ill designed it disgusts me to even remember it. Since then Grameenphone and Banglalink (telecom brands) took turns in sponsoring the festivals.

He also mentions that Lalon festival is getting a modern shape under corporate banner:

The first time around, those of us who had been visiting Cheuria for many years, were shocked to find the sponsorship junks.

And the need to protect their sanctity:

There are many people and organisations, home and abroad, that feel we need to “protect” the baul way of life. I do not necessarily agree with this notion. Rather I feel our intervention is what creates most of the “problems.”

Chinese Outbound Foreign Direct Investment in Europe

This five-minute video created by ESADE business school shows where Chinese capital is invested in Europe and examines the various motivations Chinese companies have for investing overseas (via the China Observer).

Online Entrepreneurship: Interview With Ana Bizarro from ‘Acción Alegría’

Andrea Collazo, who we already know from her blog Profesora de Informática (Computing teacher), shares an interview with entrepreneur and creator of accionconalegría.com, Ana Bizarro.

Bizarro's website aims to provide support to “entrepreneur parents, with children and no time, this is, people who are responsible for their lives”. There is no age, gender, condition, let alone religion that may prevent someone to become an entrepreneur, claims the interviewee and discusses the advantages of online entrepreneurship:

La primera, como he adelantado en la primera pregunta, el coste: hace 15 años invertí 20.000€ e hipotequé mi vivienda ¡hoy no lo haría ni loca!

La segunda, el estilo de vida: con una simple conexión a internet y un ordenador puedo trabajar desde cualquier lugar ¡La bomba! Una herramienta vital para la conciliación laboral.

La tercera: el efecto palanca. Me explico, con un simple artículo puedes conseguir 1000 visitas en una semana, o incluso en un día. Eso era algo impensable en la era analógica. ¡¡Ni los mejores comerciales!!

The first one, as I've already mentioned on the first question, the cost: 15 years ago, I invested 20.000€ and got a mortgage on my house. Today, this wouldn't even cross my mind!

The second one, lifstyle: with a simple connection to the Internet and a computer, I can work from anywhere. Great! A vital tool for conciliation.

The third one: the lever effect. This is, with a simple piece, you can get 1000 views in a week, or even in a day. This was inconceivable in the analogic era. Not even the best commercials!!

You can follow interviewer Andrea Collazo on @ascollazo, and interviewee Ana Bizarro on @bizarroana73

This post was part of the twenty-ninth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 17, 2014.

Colombian Economic Deceleration, Is the Government Aware of This Situation?

On a review of what is going on with Colombian economy, Daniel Bustos writes on his blog Trayectoria Económica an analysis of what he calls ‘skinny cows’ or lean times.

Although the economy is still standing thanks to public and private investment and the construction industry, the oil barrel price is lower and tax evasion hasn't stopped. Enough problems, as to wonder: ¿Is the government aware of this situation? Bustos answers:

Parece ser que no, o por lo menos quieren disimular la cuestión a cualquier precio, [...] ¿Que pasa en la economía colombiana si el precio del petróleo sigue cayendo? El país depende demasiado del petróleo, eso se puede observar claramente en las proyecciones de ingresos para los próximos años donde se situaba el precio del petróleo cercano a los 100 dólares para lo cual, con base en esto se realizaron las proyecciones de presupuesto para el mediano plazo pero con las recientes fluctuaciones del precio del crudo dichas proyecciones deben ser re-diseñadas, y los ingresos faltantes deben ser buscados de alguna parte; aunque por otro lado si el precio del dólar sigue subiendo como lo esta haciendo en este momento, sería interesante saber si este aumento de alguna forma ha amortiguado este déficit o incluso los lograra cubrir, desafortunadamente esto solo lo dirán los mercados.

Apparently, it isn't so, or at least they want to hide the issue, whatever the cost [...]. What will happen with Colombian economy if oil prices keep going down? The country relies too much on oil, as we can clearly observe on the income projections for coming years, where the oil price was close to 100 dollars, and over that base, budget mid-term projections were made, but with recent fluctuations in the crude oil, those projections should be redesigned and the income shortage should come from somewhere else. Although on the other hand, if the dollar keeps increasing as it's doing, it'd be interesting to know if this increase has somehow softened the deficit or will even cover it. Unfortunately, only market will tell.

You can follow Daniel Bustos on his account on Twitter or G+

This post was part of the twenty-ninth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 17, 2014.

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

An Indian Photoblogger's Lone Fight Against Plagiarism

Term of copyright in photographs:- Length of copyright -50 years. Graphics by Anirban Saha. Used with Permission.

Term of copyright in photographs:- Length of copyright -50 years. Graphics by Anirban Saha. Used with Permission.

Indian photoblogger Anirban Saha points to a growing problem in India — plagiarism of intellectual property online. A number of his photos were used in a poster for a theatre festival, on a cover of a book, in an advertisement by the state government, in political banners, in magazines in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and a school publication without his consent.

He writes that Indian copyright laws protect intellectual property, but there is not much awareness:

We can spread the awareness of intellectual property rights, share contact details of lawyers who have already fought similar cases. We should be more aware of safeguarding our creations and spreading the awareness to create a better world. Read about Indian Copyright Act 1957. More than the artists who still now are a minority, it is you readers who can make a difference. You need to be aware and spread the awareness.

Anirban Saha also publishes a number of graphics to make the Indian copyright laws easier to understand.

Security Risks Exposed at Amusement Park in Dhaka

During the Eid holidays, Carnival Park at Jamuna Future park welcomed a large number of visitors. On October 7, 2014, one of its attractions, the 360-degree shuffle ride, stopped in the middle of a ride. Everyone on-board was stuck in their seats for about an hour. The ride had no emergency backup system, preventing a normal shutdown, delaying the release of its riders. Rescue workers had to free every individual manually, in a rather painstaking process.

Facebook user Sultanul Nahian Hasnat was present at the mishap and later uploaded to Facebook two videos (click her to watch the 1st and the 2nd), which went viral. These are now available on YouTube, also.

There was no mention of this incident in the local mainstream news.

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