Letters Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.
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NI 450 March 2012 www.newint.org
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Photo update from Yasuní Should assisted suicide be legal?
Blue bras and mettle – Egypt’s women stand firm
Street-rooted storytelling from Foreign Beggars
Time for a fair economy
How Josie Long found activism
Road map to a fairer future Is the Green New Deal dead?
Reference point I enjoyed your ‘Roadmap’ to a fairer economy (NI 450), and I thought there were a lot of good suggestions in it (and some very interesting statistics). However, I thought the suggestion to ‘kick the addiction to “economic growth” and adopt economic and environmental sustainability’ that was hidden away in Section 5 could have been given a far greater, overarching status. Without that core re-evaluation, all the rest of it is just so much tweaking of a system that is fundamentally structurally dependent on inequality, and inherently unsustainable. Until we remind ourselves that money is a representation, not an intrinsically valuable thing in itself, our economy will continue to serve f inancial aspirations rather than real material needs. Oliver Arditi Suffolk, England
Repeat offenders Re: Haiti two years on, NI 449. It’s interesting that international donors make the same mistakes over again. Whatever happened to community participation and the ‘bottom up’ approach, which is always sustainable. ‘They’ always think they can do it better, especially with managing funds, but people l iving in developing countries understand the climate better. I believe investments made in capacity-building of local organizations will reduce the amount to be donated in case of future emergencies and improve emergency response. Mazhim Suwa Nigeria
The uncomfortable facts Reading Sara Grimes’ letter (‘Tone it Down’, NI 449) reminded me exactly why I read New Internationalist. Far from the homogenous bias which can be read into most news stories in other sources, NI provides the uncomfortable facts. Some articles may be presented as opinion pieces but even these we have so few sources presenting an alternative view, it is very easy for the multitude of newspapers and periodicals to overwhelm us with any spin they choose to put on a story. They just make it seem rational.
I do not suggest there is collusion by the media; rather, we Westerners are most often limited by our own upbringing and economically focused lifestyle, and we read and write material which reinforces our expectations.
It has been challenging over the years to read some of the information in NI, but this does not make it less honest. Diane Evers Albany, Australia
We Westerners are most often limited by our own upbringing and economically focused lifestyle, and we read and write material which reinforces our expectations present their bias with honesty.
Much information may appear irrational when compared to the writings provided by the mainstream media to anyone who accepts the desires for wealth and power as rational. But irrational does not make it any less true.
Impression of legitimacy In the map associated with your Country Profile of Papua New Guinea (NI 449), the western part of the island of New Guinea is labelled ‘Indonesia’. For West Papuans certainly and probably most readers of your progressive publication this is deeply
‘Put equality first’, Vanessa Baird, NI 450 @cc4hope: On the alternatives to an economy based on debt. @dad2thenoyz: A very powerfully argued case – lot of sense here.
‘Obama’s broken resolutions’, Mark Engler, NI 450 @adammaanit: ‘Lord save us all from... a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.’ ~Mark Twain
Papua New Guinea, Country Profile, NI 449 @aka_deano: I’ve learnt more about the world from these country profiles in 6 months than I have in 15 years of reading the corporate press.
‘Is the European Union damaging to democratic rights?’, Argument, NI 449 @waronwant: Who do you trust: the 99% or the Brussels bubblecrats?
offensive because it conveys an impression of legitimacy to the genocidal occupation of West Papua by Indonesia. Perhaps this could be rectified by profiling West Papua in a subsequent issue. Janfrie Wakim Auckland, New Zealand/Aotearoa We regret this oversight; New Internationalist supports the West Papuan struggle for freedom. – Ed.
Independence Re: your Papua New Guinea Country Profile, NI 449, which makes it appear as if Michael Somare was instrumental in the achievement of independence. In 1972 the Australian people elected a Labour government for the first time since World War Two. One of its ideological planks was the immediate granting of independence to PNG. In 1975 independence was thrust on PNG, and Michael Somare was able to use that to his political advantage.
New Guinea had been a United Nations Trust Territory placed under Australian administration until it was ready for independence (generally expected to be towards the end of the 20th century). Papua, which Queensland had taken possession of to provide a buffer against German expansion, was being administered and prepared for independence jointly with the Trust Territory of New Guinea.
Under international law, Australia could have chosen to grant independence only to the Trust Territory of New Guinea: either keeping Papua as an Australian territory; or making it a State of Australia; or it could have held a plebiscite of Papuans to determine their wishes.
I have family and friendship links with Papuan people dating back to the mid-1960s and believe they probably would have chosen
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Haiti twoyears on Hope for a Burmese spring A second chance
Where did all the money go?
for Colombia’s child soldiers Horror flick: Mrs T at the movies Israel evicts Bedouin villages Is the EU eroding our rights? How mercenaries moved into aid Juliet Stevenson ‘I wish I’d been a human rights lawyer’
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to remain with Australia had they been given a vote. But union with Australia was out of the question: Papua has a subsistence economy, most of its people live from fishing, gardening and hunting.
So if they had become Australians more than a million Papuans would have become eligible for Australian social security benefits because of their limited monetary income.
This would have been a financial burden that Australia, with a total population of less than 20 million at the time, would not have been able to bear.
So the Australian territory of Papua and the UN Trust Territory of New Guinea were united to become the independent nation of PNG, sooner than anybody in PNG had expected or requested. Australia’s willingness to grant independence to PNG, even though partly in self-interest, is in stark contrast to the bogus ‘Act of Free Choice’ that was used by Indonesia to deny independence to West Papua, and Australia should be given credit for that. Peter Schaper Biggenden, Australia
Daft habit Whenever I come across stories that report hugely unethical decisions that have been made by individuals or institutions, I find it useful to try to draw parallels with decisions I’ve had to make, so I can contemplate whether they really are as irrational as they initially appear.
A recent example of this involved the arms industry cover-story in NI 448, in which it was noted that Brazilian military spending has rocketed recently, despite them having no significant national security threats. It was suggested that Brazil may have decided that a larger military was a necessity for it to be considered a serious world player.
This made me think back to when I was 18 or 19 and thought, ‘Now that I’m this age, I really ought to be getting a suit.’ Obviously, I had no real need for a suit. My other clothes functioned far better and I was left with less money to buy more useful things.
However, my friends were all starting to buy suits, and everyone figured that in the future we’d need them to be taken seriously. And while the majority of people with any sort of important status still wear suits, I don’t know how this daft habit can be thrown out. When my suit finally left my wardrobe, it was to go to a funeral. Joel Millward-Hopkins Leeds, England
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The views expressed on the letters page are not necessarily those of the New Internationalist.
from our website
Sakuntala from Bangalore on ‘The food rush’, NI 447 How crass can one get in the pursuit of profits? In India, farmers have been committing suicide by the thousands, unable to get a fair price for their produce, and sinking into heavy debt. How does one fight such horrifying trends, unless we as activists network globally?
Margarita from Peru on Nature’s defenders, NI 446 It is incredible!!! What can we do about it? Is there some international law that protects people? Or are we surrounded by people that only want to take and not to give? We are beginning to struggle in Peru, with goldmines that also damage lakes and dry out huge reserve of waters. They say that they are going to restore water after they take out gold – but I do not understand from where???
Kelly Campion on ‘Avatar for real’, NI 446 It is not, nor should it be, only indigenous populations around the globe fighting the mighty corporate machine. We (all humans) need to take a leaf from the book of the indigenous and get back in touch and reconnect with the earth that we live on and share with each other and many, many animals and insects etc, and realize its real/true value. The earth is not replaceable! Nor are any of its inhabitants, be they human or otherwise, land, air or water dwellers!
Scratchy Lines by Simon Kneebone Scratchy Lines by Simon Kneebone
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