Stories from Quick Reads and Economics & Business
Five companies are said to have misappropriated funds for fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone:
Here are the 5 companies who were awarded the biggest contracts to provide goods and services to Sierra Leone’s ebola response as listed in the Ebola Funds Audit Report covering the period from May – October 2014. The following contracts did not meet the country’s procurement laws and policies and documentation to support the awarding of these contracts were missing, and unaccounted for. This makes it possible for fraud, waste, and misappropriation of funds to occur therefore crippling the nation’s ability to quickly respond to the crisis.
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.
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.
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.
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 :-)
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:
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.”
Oilnews Kenya has been ranked as top blog in Africa on matters oil and gas, Kachwanya reports:
The website recently launched as first of its kind in Kenya aiming to give Kenyans insight in the oil and gas industry opening up information platform for explorers, investors and stakeholders in the sector.
Following increased interest from investors in the oil and gas sectors with a number of discoveries in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique that has seen the East African region now named the new oil frontier, Kamau Mbote founder of Oilnewskenya saw it fit to give exposure to the latter as well as provide Kenyans more information on the sector.
The website has been ranked 22 globally and 1st in Africa with a Visibility of 58%, Engagement of 41% and relevance rating at 100% according to a research by Inkybee a renown research company.
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!!
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.
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.
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.