500 protesters march in Johannesburg against the UN Earth Summit, which starts
26 August. The activists -- from around the world -- gathered in front of
Johannesburg´s University of the Witwatersrand to demand the right to protest
at the summit when they were confronted by around 50 policemen in riot gear. AFP
If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem
The United States is the unquestionable leader in world
affairs and yet it treats the world and its peoples as a third class colony.
Americans have a long history of elitism as evidenced by their
commission of genocide against the Native Americans and their endorsement of
slavery for the first eight decades of America's existence. And that
elitism is nowhere more exemplified than by little George who was not the choice
of the majority of Americans in the last Presidential election.
Isolation drew the United States into two World Wars. It
would seem that we would have learned something from this. However, the
belief that we do not have to account to anyone has again led us down the
isolationist path and in the very near future we are going to pay a heavy price
for our arrogance.
The terrorism that exists around the world has a lot to do
with injustice. It has a lot to do with the violence that the
Judeo-Christian ethic has foisted on peoples all over the world. And
unfortunately we are still not listening. Even 911 did not wake us up.
How can anyone not consider the possibility that if we were
more concerned about justice and less concerned about exploiting the world's
people and resources, that maybe 911 would not have happened. Terrorism
cannot exist without support. It requires a significant amount of support
for the rank and file human beings on the planet to reach a level where someone
even considers the horrific acts of 911.
Yet we have learned nothing. Little George has his
"kill the terrorist, ignore the driving motivators" program that is
even at this moment undoubtedly fostering more terroristic acts to be
Little George has been cleaned up by his handlers for the
purpose of continuing business as usual. There has been little question
from the beginning that little George lacks the intellect to deal with global
problems. He has big business in his pocket. He can pull in a lot of
money for campaigns but in the meantime the world is degenerating globally and
sooner or later we are going to feel the repercussions of the little George
It is both incredible and sad that the president of the United
States thinks that Global Warming is a fiction and that the cause of terrorism
is jealousy. It is sad that little George has so little regard for the
state of the earth and the world society.
In the end, history will show that the politics of little
George Bush caused much of the environmental and social problems that will be
endured for most of the twenty-first century.
The nations of the world are calling out to all their sons and
daughters who have come together in the United States of America for help.
The world is looking to the United States for solutions and leadership.
But little George is too busy catering to the robber barons of the USA. He
is too busy with the wholesale transference of more wealth to the wealthy.
How sad it is that we must continue to be embarrassed by such a president.
How hard it is going to be to recover from the little George presidency.
We can only hope that like his father, he will only serve one term.
August 25, 2002
Johannesburg summit tackles world's ills
Environment, poverty on agenda as 65,000 address unmet goals
Joseph B. Verrengia
Sunday, August 25, 2002
Johannesburg, South Africa --- Call it the Olympics of world politics: For
nearly two weeks, starting Monday, 65,000 delegates from around the world will
convene in venues throughout sprawling Johannesburg.
The mission of the World Summit for Sustainable Development boils down to
this: to save the planet from ecological devastation and rescue billions of
people from wretched poverty.
The meeting, organized by the United Nations, marks the 10th anniversary of
the landmark Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which put environmental issues high
on the global political agenda.
Today, few of the Rio goals have been met. Global temperatures and sea levels
creep upward as heat-trapping pollution accumulates in the atmosphere.
Deforestation and species losses mount. And as the world's population gallops
past 6 billion, problems of clean water, infectious disease, hunger and our
appetite for limited natural resources worsen.
In Johannesburg, summit leaders have made the diplomats' job even harder by
expanding the agenda to include issues of enormous human suffering. Add to it
the growing resentment that the benefits of globalization continue to be
concentrated in the hands of Western corporations and elude the outstretched
grasp of the developing world.
On Saturday, international negotiators discussed how to overcome their
differences on issues before the summit's official opening.
Authorities also fired stun grenades at about 300 demonstrators who tried to
break through a police cordon at a nearby university. One person was arrested in
the protest against globalization. Greenpeace activists also scaled the wall of
a building at a nuclear power plant to protest nuclear energy use in Africa.
What started in Rio as an exuberant political sprint into a greener,
post-Cold War future has turned into a grueling marathon with an uncertain end.
''If we do nothing to change our current indiscriminate patterns of
development, we will compromise the long-term security of the Earth and its
people,'' says Nitin Desai, the summit's secretary-general.
And the country that many delegates consider least likely to win a gold medal
in Johannesburg? The United States.
The United States has angered both its European allies and developing nations
by stifling many global environmental accords inspired by Rio, citing economic
Since Rio, U.S. energy consumption has jumped 21 percent, and greenhouse gas
emissions are up 13 percent, according to figures gathered by the United Nations
In June, pre-summit negotiations disintegrated into acrimony. The United
States demanded that fiscal accountability and anti-corruption guarantees be
attached to its foreign aid, while smaller countries demanded the United States
share more technology and comply with international environmental restrictions.
Several delegates wore buttons and T-shirts sporting the undiplomatic quip:
''What should we do with the United States?''
President Bush is skipping the summit. Secretary of State Colin Powell will
visit Johannesburg on the summit's final days.
Delegates grumble about the United States' lack of engagement, especially as
Bush seeks international cooperation in the war on terrorism. ''The efforts of
United States to mobilize against terrorism would be helped immeasurably if we
were part of a broad coalition to address sustainable development,'' World
Wildlife Fund Vice President Brooks Yeager said.
There have been some successes since the Rio summit 10 years ago. For
example, a global treaty has ended U.S. and European production of many
chemicals that destroy the Earth's ozone layer.
But only a few of the Rio summit's grandest ideas have been translated into
> Climate change. At the Earth Summit, 170 nations agreed to voluntarily
reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.
However, carbon-based emissions increased globally by 9 percent in the past
10 years. The United States has rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to
codify the Rio pledges and make emissions reductions binding. Bush says the
treaty would cost the U.S. economy $400 billion.
Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, has refused to sign Kyoto
without the United States. Europeans, on the other hand, widely support the
Kyoto accord. Germany has significantly reduced carbon emissions and boosted
renewable energy to 20 percent of supply.
> Biodiversity. Since Rio, 182 nations pledged to prevent the loss of
species. However, only about one in three nations have submitted national
In 1993, Bill Clinton reversed the U.S. position and endorsed the
biodiversity treaty. However, Congress never ratified it.
During the 1990s, the United Nations reports, 2.4 percent of the world's
forests were destroyed, almost all in tropical regions in Africa and Latin
America. The estimated total area destroyed --- 220 million acres --- is larger
than the size of Venezuela.
Nearly one-third of coral reefs were seriously degraded, and 60 percent of
the world's oceans have been overfished.
In a U.N. report, scientists say species extinction is unrivaled since the
dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. Example: One in four mammals risk
extinction within 30 years.
> Water. Rio pledged universal access to clean water. But at least 1.1
billion people lack clean water and sanitation. By 2025, half the world's
projected 8 billion people are expected to be thirsty.
> Public health. Deaths from four leading infectious diseases have
declined since Rio.
But 60 million people have been infected with AIDS, with 20 million deaths.
An additional 45 million infections are predicted in the next eight years,
largely in Africa.
According to the World Health Organization, 2.7 million people die from
malaria each year. Most of the victims are young and live in sub-Saharan Africa,
but the mosquito-borne disease is surging again in South America and parts of
More than 3 million people die every year from the effects of air pollution,
and 2.2 million people die from contaminated water, the United Nations found.
> Poverty. According to the World Bank, 2.8 billion people live on less
than $2 per day. Most of them are the same people who do not have access to
clean water, sanitation or adequate food.
Worldwatch reports the richest 1 billion people on Earth receive 78 percent
of the annual income, while child mortality is 19 times greater in low-income
How can we manifest peace on
earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both
sexes) in our vision of Peace?
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