Seychelles – Tourism

The Seychelles are an African nation 1600km East of Kenya. It was uninhabited until the last few centuries, when it fell under French occupation. The culture is a mix of French, African, Chinese and Indian (the main ethnicities). The main industries are fishing, tourism and beverages. 74% of the population work in service industries, and 25% of the population is directly involved in the tourism industry. The official language is French (although Creole is spoken almost as widely), making it easily accessible to many tourists- English is also frequently used. The main food crops are sweet potatoes, vanilla farming, coconuts and cinnamon. They do not have any considerable secondary industries, so pollution rates are generally low.

Historical context

  • Seychelles gained independence in 1976
  • Their first airport was built in 1971- Seychelles International Airport, leading to a large increase in tourism, largely from Western celebrities
  • Some people (including the PM, Francis Rene) thought that tourism was deteriorating the economy, leading to the PM over throwing the president, intending to give the poor more money
  • Rene tried to decrease tourism to “keep the Seychelles for the Seychellois”
  • 1979 constitution said they were a one party socialist party, and the first draft was not passed
  • The PM was found to be involved in various crimes, such as money laundering and even murder
  • South Africa sent 43 mercenaries posing as Rugby players to depose Rene (known as the Seychelles Affair), which didn’t work- and neither did the two other attempts.
  • Democracy was restored in 1991- under harsh political pressure
  • Rene didn’t step down until 1993, when the multi-party system was enforced

Seychelles’ tourism was affected by the Persian Gulf War; afterwards the government has been trying to reduce their reliance on tourism (and failing) to reduce risks. Fishing has increased, and is now the main industry again.

Originally in 1971, plantations and tourism were largely opposing industries. Tourism was more profitable, so plantations declined. The government encouraged a lot of foreign investment to upgrade hotels and services, leading to there being many hotels and resorts, and a lot of real estate.

Tourism dependency is being reduced, the government is especially encouraging farming, fishing, small-scale manufacture and off-shore finance.

Economy generally

Seychelles has a major crack-down on piracy, as pirates cost 4% of the GDP annually- local fishing can be cost up to 46%. Seychelles has the largest incarceration per capita as a result.

The Seychelles have 14 airports, 7 of which are paved. They have the smallest population of any independent African State, this is clearly for their past tourism industry. The transport system is generally fairly good for an LIC.

Touristic appeal

Other than a socialist past and issues with piracy, the Seychelles are still quite appealing to tourists.

A lot of wildlife was eliminated upon human habitation, but this was a very small proportion compared to many similar places, such as Hawaii. The islands have still been left with many rare species. The Coco de Mer is essentially two fused coconuts, only found on 2 islands of more than 116 in total.

Much of the land is covered in national parks or world heritage sites, protecting the huge amounts of rare wildlife (most of which tourists are allowed to see). They have social gardens for  wildlife and quite a few botanical gardens.

The beaches have a very good reputation, making the scenery very appealing. The temperature is generally fairly warm, with temperature ranges on the main island generally between 24-30°C, with average national highs between 28-31°C, although it is humid. May to November have breezes, so this is generally the best time for tourism.

The local fish (around 42 coral islands and 67 raised coral islands, as well as some others) are unafraid of divers, although much of the coral has been bleached.

The island are interesting to geologists, as they are some of the hardest  and granitic islands in the world- 45 islands are granitic.

There are no significant oil or gas reserves, reducing future risks of pollution, meaning it will stay environmentally in tact for a while.

The culture is very diverse and interesting. They have large amounts of curries in the typical diet and large amounts of tropical fruit and fish. Shark chutney appears fairly commonly; they also have very diverse music from this. It is also fairly rare, as it is one of very few matriarchal nations. It is normally for mothers to be unwed, and fathers are legally obligated to support their children, but have full working rights, and their working is the norm.

The Seychelles had very strong advertising during 1971-76, bringing in a lot of tourists, but there are now significant environmental concerns.

Managing tourism

There is a limit on 150,000 tourists per year and 4,000 hotel beds on their 3 largest islands. They favour European tourists as they tend to pay the most on holiday.

Speargun and dynamite fishing are completely banned and the Seychelles are a world leader in eco-tourism.

 

Belize Agricultural Industry

Agriculture and tourism are the main sources of employment for many Belizean people, but Hurricane Earl in Summer 2016 greatly affected the agricultural sector. Loss of revenue has had a large impact on the Belizean economy. Damages are estimated around US$183.6 million, with BZS$ 100 million of this just from the impact to agriculture.

Belize’s exports have been contracting, which on top of damage from the South East of Corozal District to the North of Toledo, has had a large impact. Sugar was generally least effected, apart from the loss of infrastructure, but this year’s cane might be damaged. There was a spike in cattle diseases due to the flooding that the hurricane caused. When agriculture has been weakened, historically, so has the rest of the economy.

Banana

In October 2015, Fyffes stopped buying Belizean bananas, causing a major economic decline, resulting in thousands of unemployed locals and millions of BZD lost.

Papaya

Fruta Bomba closed in June 2016, after 20 years of Belizean operation; a press release in February 2016 indicated that economic conditions after 2007’s Hurricane Dean hindered company attempts to rebuild their organisation. Fruta Bomba used to be Belize’s main employer but 251 people were left without a job.

Shrimp

In November 2015, a virus plague hit the shrimp industry, causing shrimp farms to face losses in raw produce and in investment. The infection was probably transmitted by birds that visited the ponds for the shrimp farms’ aquaculture. 600 workers were laid-off, and there were losses of BZ$30 million.

Sugar cane

Sugar makes up 60% of Belize’s exports. In July 2016, several tonnes of molasses (syrupy type of refined sugar) were lost in Orange Walk district. 3,900 tons of molases (worth BZ$432,666) was lost in Hurricane Earl; the Belize Sugar Industry said that cane farmers should cover 65% of the losses from this. Cane Farmers protested, as the losses were taken directly from their pay.

 

The Statistical Institute of Belize has documented instability in agriculture in Belize for years. In 2014, according the the SIB, agriculture had a GDP of BZ$381 million, with marine products with BZ$112.34 million. Marine production slowed in the 4th quarter of 2015, due to the decline in shrimp production. Banana shipments decreased by 25% (7,000 tons) due to dry weather affecting the plants.

Livestock fared poorly in the same time. Sugarcane deliveries started in December in 2015, a month earlier than in the previous year.  Citrus deliveries saw an unusual increase too. Purely in June 2016, exports across the agricultural industry declined by 30%. Marine products declined by more than 50%. Exports for bananas declined by 1/3.

Russia and Gay Propaganda

The Russian federal law “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values” was signed into law on the 30th of June 2013 by President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin after a unanimous vote (436 -0) in favour (bar one abstention) from the State Duma (The lower house of the Russian parliament).

“I have sincere contempt for the Duma’s deputies. All, including the so-called opposition. You have now brought fascism to my country,” – Yelena Kostyachenko, Russian journalist

The Russian government claims that the ban on propaganda to stop homosexuality as being something normal is to preserve “traditional family values” among their population.

The anti-propaganda laws charge fines of up to 5,000 Rubles (roughly US$156) for promoting anything with homosexual content directed at minors – “directed at forming a nontraditional sexual set-up). It also applies to anyone who states that homosexual and heterosexual relationships should be equal, or even that the individuals deserve to be treated equally, as well as to anyone who distributes anything that speaks positively about homosexuality. The fines can go up to 100,000 Rubles (£1,975) for anyone who disseminates “propaganda” online or through the official media. Foreigners who enter Russia do not face long term jail time; but it is still up to 15 days and includes deportation, and they may also be fined the 100,000 Rubles. Organisations can be fined 1 million Rubles and have all activity ceased for up to 90 days.

The bill was criticised of being poorly defined- and I genuinely cannot find anything stating how the bill defines propaganda in any official capacity- but despite this obvious and enormous flaw, Putin had promised to sign it in advance of it passing through the Duma.

“We are talking about protecting children from the respective information” – Vladimir V. Putin

Putin denied that the bill was anti-homosexual, and instead claimed that it was about “protecting children”. The Russian government claims that legalising gay marriage in other countries is a matter effecting those countries’ national security- effectively stating that gay spouses all suddenly become terrorists.

Putin also put into law a bill saying that anyone who offends religious observers can be jailed and fined. This would, of course, include homosexuals when extremist members of certain religious groups are concerned- an obvious example being the Westboro Baptist Church, who picket the funeral of anyone they believe to be homosexual and can reach the grave of, and celebrate their deaths. The bill essentially would mean that in a country with a high propensity for extremist attitudes about whether gay people even deserve to live, LGBT people could essentially be fined for being alive if this bill were to be passed there instead.

This bill was intended to punish actions “demonstrating disrespect to society and done with the goal of offending the believers’ religious feelings”. You can be given up to 3 years in jail for insulting a religious believer in  Russia; although being able to insult someone unlimitedly is obviously not a good thing, to be arrested for insulting someone once of a specific group is a very blatant breaking of the human rights declaration that Russia signed when joining the UN.

“The government is using these instincts – homophobia, xenophobia – to justify its policies against an independent civil society. They are making enemies out of us – not just LGBT society, but any group in society that doesn’t agree with their current politics.” – Igor Kochetkov, Russian LGBT Rights Activist

This isn’t just a reflection of a strange government order, but of a strange society. 45% of Russian people genuinely believe that homosexuality is caused by being seduced into it by propaganda and 47% believe that they do not deserve equal rights to straight people. Although they should have a right to their own culture and their own views on social issues, it should not be at the expense of understanding the science of the issue (which is that people are not drawn in by propaganda, but by their own genetics and by experiences during their formative years). It also makes no sense that the law is supposedly about “protecting children” but it is illegal to publish material speaking out for homosexual rights to adults, displaying blatant hypocrisy and an inability to form a decent justification, or a high level of condescension (essentially stating that all Russians are forever children).

The bill has given the Russian Orthodox Church unprecedented power, and this seems almost to be Putin’s tactic to maintain his power within Russia- to lean on the church as heavily as possible and make attacks on the church illegal so that attacks on him can be made illegal.

“People have become more closed, more depressed, less out than they were. The law makes our activity more difficult, because we never know when the red button will be pressed… If I were to walk along the corridors of my school holding hands with my husband, that would be considered a promotion of non-traditional family values. I won’t be fired because I’m out and gay and promoting non-traditional family values at school. Then there would be a court case. All the authorities like to say at international high-level meetings that there is no discrimination in Russia. So it would be on disciplinary stuff: if I forget my lesson plan or I’m five minutes late to class.” – Konstantin Yablotsky, an organiser of the Open Games

Yablotsky has talked about how the coverage of the Olympic Sochi games and the Open Games together actually worsened LGBT rights in Russia. There was a lot of initial international coverage about the act, with many calls to not attend the games. In interviews, Yablotsky would make it clear that the Open Games were not about protest, or following any political ideology, but about promoting a healthy lifestyle and peaceful dialogue with authorities. However, this somehow got misinterpreted as being a protest, and was reported as such internationally. With the international community looking at the games as being a protest against the government full of LGBT propaganda, it was hardly a surprise that the Russian authorities cracked down so hard on them. Many venues for the Open Games (a sports event like the Olympics but intended for LGBT athletes) cancelled reservations at the last minute, and the police ordered many others to be evacuated because of a fictitious terrorist threat. Generally, outside movements are a good help for social movements, as long as they carefully think through the repercussions of what they are doing. Outsiders need to be careful that they do not portray the situation as LGBT individuals deliberately opposing the state in anyway which is not directly for their own safety and the country’s wellbeing, and merely take the actual concerns of the individuals into account.

There is now a clearer idea of how the law is being enforced. Activists at Askhangelsk and Kazan have been arrested for holding signs at rallies, a newspaper in Khabarovsk was fined for publishing an interview with a teacher who was fired for being gay, a manufacturer of a children’s game that portrayed gay couples was fined, and children’s author Lyudmila Ulitskaya is being investigated because her book series promote homosexuality.

It has also facilitated homophobia; a St Petersburg gay march were showered in sickening gas, and many firms refuse to host LGBT events or groups due to fears of legal action against them. The liberal political opposition feel unable (justifiedly) to associate themselves with giving the LGBT community more rights, even to just basic freedom of speech, and journalists can’t cover the results of the ban. Several teachers have been fired for being openly gay, even if they don’t mention this to their students. Just using the word “gay” is often seen as propaganda. Drag artists have been attacked, even when they are straight and cis-gendered, with significant numbers of audience members ending up hospitalised. Radical Orthodox group, God’s Will, seeks to out professionals who are gay, and force companies to fire them (which is indisputably stupid as if they have to seek them out they are clearly not distributing propaganda about it, and are not posing any threats at all, even if saying you’re homosexual is seen as a threat, to traditional family values).

Groups like Occupy Paedophilia equate homosexuality to pedophilia.

“We [LGBT people] are treated as subhuman, with no civil or human rights. We are social non-entities, and we are even considered diseased and dangerous to society,” – Yulianna Prosvirnina, a drag king, who had her performance interrupted and 4 of her audience members hospitalised.

A Russian priest denounced the football world cup team’s cleats as being a “homosexual abomination”. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast, in Russia’s far east, felt the need to ask the Kremlin to confirm that their flag, featuring a rainbow, is not homosexual propaganda.

LGBT awareness events can be shut down if police find there to be anyone under the age of eighteen attending, and local authorities refuse permits for most types of gatherings.  LGBT rights are further hindered in Russia, as many activists have emigrated to get away from the harsh law.

“We used to do a lot of film screenings as a form of education, but now we can’t show a film unless it gets a certificate from the state confirming that it can be publicly shown. A lot of smaller places that could show films will not allow it in their facilities anymore. Police will attend some our events to check passports.” – Andrei Obolensky, chairman of the Rainbow Association, and LGBT rights group.

Teenagers’ mental healths have been effected as even discussing the possibility that they might not be heterosexual has effectively been outlawed, and they can’t find any sorts of support groups if they decide that they’re not. Teenagers unsure of their sexual identity have become outcasts within their own society. This is especially evident after a series of hate-groups used social media to lure gay teenagers into meeting them and then physically assaulted them- photos of the attacks are then shared on social media, and often receive many ‘likes’ with little police intervention. The ban is being applied without any considerations for child protection, and that knowing the age of every user of each computer might be a little bit bad for safety reasons in a country known to be a source of child trafficking.  Teenage suicide rates are 3x the global average in Russia.

There is a double stigma for gay people who have contracted HIV. There have been parents who have said they wished they had got an adoption after their children said they were HIV positive in the past, who have been able to receive counselling, but that would not be available now.

The ban is really just a symptom of a much bigger problem in Russia- that anyone who has opinions against the president is slowly having their freedom of speech become more and more restricted. The government has been cracking down on anything that Putin thinks may effect constitutional order, defence or security, and to stop anyone who may pose a threat to his presidency speaking out, despite it being a “democratic” country.

NGO work in Haiti

Oxfam’s Let Agogo Project in Haiti funds an organisation that gives local people cows, with a focus on women. Support from vets allows them to care for the cows, sell on dairy projects and boosts the local economy.

Calves are given to other families from the original families, so that more can join the scheme. People have used their incomes to buy food, shelter and education. The government also buys some of the milk, which is then treated before being given free to local school children, which then improves their diets. The project has the clear benefit that local people run it for the benefit of other locals.

There are concerns to using cows, however, as just within the USA, POCs of African ancestry have a 75% chance of being lactose intolerant, and the USA is more affluent, and therefore more likely to give people exposure to milk. It is a proven thing that people can maintain a lactose tolerance despite their genetic predisposition if they have enough exposure throughout development, which poor people in Haiti are unlikely to. This being said, the economic benefit is likely to remain as the receivers of the cows can still sell to other ethnic groups with lower incidence of lactose intolerance. It is also worth noting that lactose intolerance normally develops with age somewhat, so that children who will be intolerant can occasionally still benefit from receiving free milk while they are young.

Sea Level Change in the UK

  • 7,000 homes predicted to be lost to the sea in the next century along the managed retreat policy for much of the UK
  • Sea levels expected to rise between 0.18 m and 0.59 m by 2100
  • Estimates made by the Environment Agency that £1 x10^9 worth of property will be destroyed in the next 100 years; less than the cost of protecting them
  • If sea protection is not maintained the prediction of lost properties rises to 74,000 homes
  • Cornwall, the worst affected county, is expected to lose 76 homes in the next 20 years.

Dambisa Moyo- “Dead Aid”

Dambisa Moyo is a Zimbabwean economist, who wrote a book called “dead aid”. She doesn’t argue against the use of short term aid, but she does argue that aid is not getting to the poorest, and that only about 20¢ for every dollar that enters Zimbabwe get’s past Mugabe’s government. She claims that aid doesn’t encourage growth, self sufficiency or efficient enterprise.

Rather than relying on hand outs she says countries need to borrow on markets based on credit ratings. G8 countries have often discussed the state of poorer countries with no representatives for them present, even if they frequently have Western pop stars.

She argues that aid has not really done any overall good as US$1 trillion over 60 years has made no real impact on the incidence of poverty or on economic growth. Moyo claims that aid causes corruption, undermines accountability and chokes trade. This  is a huge fallacy as correlation does not mean causation. Lots of money does travel to relatively corrupt countries, but that’s often because some big disaster has occurred there, such as in Nepal, Ethiopia and many others, because they simply don’t have the money or infrastructure to support everyone even without the corruption, or, like in Swaziland, the presence of corruption is so great that it’s almost the sole cause of poverty.

Moyo suggests that instead of using aid money should be raised within the economy itself, by attracting foreign direct investment, reducing trade restrictions and promoting financial services to the poor. She seems to be unaware of the fact that countries don’t generally gain FDI unless they already have a decent enough economy or infrastructure to attract foreign companies. Far better methods would be to promote stability, tackle issues like climate change which are making it harder for poor countries to develop, reducing world wide corruption, changing immigration policies and promoting peace.

Views like hers may become very dangerous in the near future, as President Trump is likely to take any excuse he can to completely stop aid in the future. She does not propose viable alternatives to aid; the most viable alternatives are all things which Trump would be likely to diminish and suppress, and the US’s current role in aid would be hard to overstate.

Blackwater Estuary and Saltmarsh Degredation

raypits-aerial-web

Coastal squeeze can  be seen at Blackwater Farm where the seawall presses the marshes in, so that the marshes cannot be built up further. This can hinder the development upwards of the marshes too, and make them become the long thin strips seen in the photo above.

A loss of marshland can increase the amplitude of flood events. Marshes absorb salt water as it flows into them, and can thus slow down flooding and reduce the damage it causes.

In turn, more severe flood events can cause greater erosion of the salt marsh, which in turn makes floods more dramatic.

Large quantities of land had to be trapped during the World Wars to allow safe and secure food supplies, especially in WWII, when the German forces started bringing down civilian supply vessels. The walling needed to reclaim that land was what lead to the declining quality of the salt marsh and its declining protections.

In response, holes have been broken through the salt marsh. The remains of the walls should not matter, as water in salt marshes travels in channels like in normal rivers; as long as a route is clear, it should grow fine. The soil was not ideal at best because of the high salt content, so poor quality land is being lost. The land that might develop from the marshes eventually, if they can grow and build up normally will likely be of far higher quality.

(Image Source: http://www.essexbiodiversity.org.uk/coordinators-blog; I don’t know if that’s Blackwater Farm, but it’s definitely a similar area)

Make America Hate Again 2/209

Hello, welcome to Make America Hate Again, the documentary of the hate Trump has made again. The number on the top represents the week of Trump’s term and the number beneath shows how many weeks there are in total of his term. If you want to find a specific week, either change the URL in the top bar^ or search for “part [week number]” into the search bar

For part 0, the last part, the next part and the latest part.

If in doubt, any quotes come from here.

I would also like to clarify: I don’t think all conservatives are idiots. I disagree with many conservative views, but most conservatives’ points can at least be understood. Trump cannot.

I also have to say at this point, I have a real appreciation for all the websites doing a similar day-by-day system. I feel like many of them will only cover the first 100 days though, and I plan on covering the whole thing. The level of detail will of course fall after 100 days though.

January 28th

  • Previously, the travel ban had been said to stop all travel from the 7 black list states. Now, according to the same administration official who made the first announcement, if someone from a black list state moves into another state they can now get a waiver on the rule. I’m not complaining about this change in theory, but in practice this is going to worsen the stream of refugees into European states, where they will stay indefinitely until they can move across. European states will grow even more needlessly embittered about saving people’s lives and stop, sentencing thousands, maybe even millions, of extra people to death.
  • I know we found out about this on the 6th/Feb, but Donald Trump is too inept to find the light switch in the chamber room, so meetings have been held entirely in the dark. Apparently no one had the brains to go find a torch either.

January 29th

  • “It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level” claims an Unnamed white house official , about the travel ban. I am unsure if he’s just been censored from learning about the protests. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity, which either means he was being sarcastic and was worried about being fired, or knows he’s talking nonsense and didn’t want anyone trying to get him to justify it.
  • The state visit of Trump to the UK was announced to be going ahead, despite calls from MPs for him to not be allowed into Parliament, general disapproval of his visit, and a well-backed petition with 1.25 million signatures on Change.org (where normally 100,000 are needed) for him to not be allowed in as a form of retaliation against him not letting refugees in (and against many other things, too).
  • The US embassy of the UK insisted that they would not be allowing VISAs into the US from the seven banned states (I think I’ll refer to them as the 7BS from now on, which serves both to represent the name and what most people think of it), even to people with US citizenship or dual nationality.
  • Yemen’s minister of foreign affairs spoke out against the travel ban from the 7BS, saying it was going to feed into conflict and extremism within Yemen. Yemen has had a civil war raging for years now, so anything that could increase their conflict is hard to imagine, and really should not be encouraged.
  • Indonesia said the ban would not help against the fight against terror
  • Asian financial markets were still plummeting due to uncertainties caused by the ban.

January 30th

  • Steve Miller, a Trumpian advisor claimed on the morning show that the protests about the refugee bans are a good thing: “If nobody’s disagreeing with what you’re doing, um, then you’re probably not doing anything that really matters.” It honestly sounded like he was asking a question. This means one (or both) of two things. 1) They don’t seem to realise that that proverb really only counts for if you’re not the one in charge; if you persuaded people to let you be in charge, then you shouldn’t have anyone disagreeing with you on things that really matter; 2) Even Trump’s advisors can’t think up good reasons for the things he’s doing.
  • Steve Bannon, the man I said the following about: “I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him.” You saying you were concerned about him being racist or alt-right basically confirms he is, especially with you again admitting it by wavering around the point for three separate clauses.”  before, is now on the Security Council. This is a big deal. He essentially has the power to force any country to do what he wants, by right of the veto power of the USA. He has the right to force any country to act in racist ways, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, currently, legally. Bush didn’t even do this. The White House justified this by saying he was “in the Navy“.  This is made even worse because Bannon described Trump’s voters as the “working-class hobbits.” He can’t even respect his own citizens and he’s now technically one of the most powerful people on the planet, arguably more powerful than Trump himself. This is a Bad Thing.
  • Steve Bannon told the media to “Keep its mouth shut.” First step of a dictatorship (at least, of the brutal ones which manage to be iconically disgusting) is government officials not allowing journalists to say what they want.
  • People trying to enter the US, even US citizens, from the 7 black list states, now need to be handcuffed, and be patted down, including groping of the chest area (which if anyone can store anything dangerous in, I would be very impressed), as described by this woman.
  • Justice Secretary, Sally Yates, from the Obama Administration, ordered the department not to follow Trump’s Executive Order to ban Middle Eastern entry from the US. She was staying until there was a confirmed replacement for her role. They were initially expected to defend the policy, although lawyers tasked with defending it seemed baffled and perplexed about how- how to make it seem legal and how to justify it. The department then said they would not defend the policy as long as Yates was their attorney general. Jeff Sessions is expected to reverse this.

January 31st

  • Acting Attorney General was Sally Yates was fired, at 1:00 in the morning GMT, or 8:00 PM East Coast Time, on the 30th. Sessions was expected to be put into the role anyway today, pushing her out of the acting position. She was not allowed to even do her job as head of Justice; defining whether certain actions are legal and whether people are guilty or not.
  • Neil Gorsuch is now in the supreme court for life.
  • Trump delayed signing an order centred on improving cyber security.
  • Trump has not  repealed Obama’s act stopping discrimination against LGBT+ workers working with federal agencies or contractors. He has said that they have to be “at the direction of” Trump though, which, to me, sounds a lot like “you can still discriminate when I tell you you can.”
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director was named as Thomas Honan.

February 1st

  • Many republican members of the senate have announced that they will not be supporting Trump’s decision to make Betsy Devos head of the Department of Education.
  • Trump urges a move that a simple majority can push through a candidate for office. I don’t think this will allow Betzy Devos through anyway, most republicans have to have brain cells to get where they are (the main exceptions being the people Trump picks, and himself).
  • Committees approve Jeff Sessions, the man too racist to be a judge to become attorney general, and Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, despite his ties to Russia. But, I guess, if Trump got in, we shouldn’t expect that to be an issue.
  • Evangelical christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr  is now in charge of an education reform task force, and he intends to remove protections against sexual assault from University and College campuses. I never understood this mentality in fundamentalist Christians, the thinking that abortion is absolutely wrong, but contraception is too, and they don’t even think about protecting women from rapists. Surely if you don’t want unwanted babies to be aborted you should actively encourage contraception? The unwanted babies have to be stopped somewhere (unless people really like parents not valuing their children) and it makes a lot more sense to me to focus on before anyone can start trying to argue they’re alive yet.
  • The USA puts Iran “on notice” for testing missiles. What “on notice” means is a mystery.
  • A counter-terrorism task force was renamed to be specifically targetting radical islam. The vast majority of American terrorists are not Muslim. This is new heights of stupid. Or it would be, if this weren’t Trump.
  • Trump pays his respects to the Navy Seal who died because he couldn’t be bothered to read the mission briefing properly.
  • Trump claims that most reporters who cover him are a disgrace
  • “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!” Trump doesn’t seem to realise this was never a thing. There was an Iraqi invasion of Iran in the 1980’s, but never an Iranian invasion of Iraq, as far as I can work out.
  • Trump annulls the deal Obama made with Australia to essentially swap refugees.
  • It’s hard to miss the irony of him being “proud to honor the start of black history month… with @VP Mike Pence,” given how racist they both are.

February 2nd

  • The white house said that Trump was “very upset” about the refugee deal with Australia, but that he would honour it, which sounds like how most parents would describe a child’s temper tantrum after it had ended, really.
  • Trump’s treasury department adjusted their sanctions against Russia’s intelligence services in light of their activities during the election period.
  • Trump says he wants to either renegotiate or replace the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. He’s going to do a lot of replacing perfectly good things with a slightly worse copy of them in the next four years, isn’t he?

February 3rd

  • Donald Trump has both managed to completely disregard the importance of the decisions he has to make and made many of his staff completely opposed to him. If his staff had any  respect for him, they would not be leaking details, as opposed to officially releasing  them. An interviewee also explains how others also feel they need to do this to get him to pay attention to him. Far more important than this are the horrendously misinformed decisions he is making. The video linked here is a good summary by MSNBC of some of the awful decisions he has made. Around 8:30 they summarise how misinformed he is around a single one of his decisions.
  • 227,000 new jobs were generated over January. Whether this was before Trump came to power or not, I don’t know. I also don’t know how many of these were because of having to enforce stupid new rules. Can you imagine how much more work security guards and lawyers got from the travel ban?
  • Trump called for reviews of the banking regulations put in after the 2008 recession.
  • Tens of thousands of VISAs have been revoked under the travel ban
  • US immigration officials have postponed meeting refugees in Australia, suggesting that the White House is pushing against the resettlement program fairly forcefully now.
  • Republicans in Congress have called to repeal various acts to regulate emissions and environmental damage from business. This is oddly similar to how, in a documentary called Death by China by the US trade secretary, there’s one interviewee who says [paraphrasing] “China got rich by polluting all their waste in their rivers. Can you imagine how much richer we could be if we removed our regulations and dumped all our waste in the Ohio river?” He specifically mentioned the Ohio river, and it genuinely sounded like he wanted to dump waste in it. They are dangerously close to that man’s opinions.

Improving Slums

We had a debate in our geography class last year about which issues were most important to resolve when upgrading slums. We were each assigned a particular aspect of the worst-case situation to argue as a priority to resolve, and asked to come up with some means to solve it. That’s why this might come off as very poorly structured (even by my standards). I’m also mentioning that explanation as I’m not sure where my notes on healthcare measures went, and this is likely to be updated once I’ve found (or remade) them.

Physical Infrastructure

  • 84% of houses have no water supply. Illegal water sellers are expensive, and many people take water from rivers.
  • Roads are impermeable (leading to issues with erosion, flooding downstream and others)
  • Illegal electricity (in many slums) can lead to electrical fires
  • 90% of people in slums (worldwide) die of disease
  • Water can be purified using plastic bottles
  • Kenya has projects for community based solar power to help improve the local electrical supply
  • The Green Exchange program (where waste is exchanged for cash or food parcels. The waste is used for various purposes depending on location. In Curitiba, Brazil, it is reused for other purposes. The exact waste can vary with location, too. It helps prevent malnutrition and any issues that could arise from a dirty environment.)

Social Infrastructure (mostly referring to Rio de Janeiro)

  • 880 million people live in slums globally.
  • Complexo de Alemão is trying to reduce crime rates by building 2 primary schools, 2 creches, a technical college and a library
  • Complexo has 70,000 people with insufficient education and healthcare
  • A cable car was built to transport people from the slums to Rio’ center. This has helped unemployment rates. The stations are cheap, and have lead to greater educational, job, and healthcare options.
  • Cidade de Deus healthcare clinic was set up in the slums
  • Olympic values were taught to children; 168 schools, 100,000 children
  • Favela painting is a practice to occupy people’s time productively. The favelas are made to look better by occupying local people to paint buildings in bright colours and patterns. The normal buildings are often bare brick and mud. Very drab environments are bad for people’s emotional health, so painting the favelas in bright shades is improving people’s wellbeing.
  • There has been an 80% drop from 30,000 gun crimes per year once gangs were removed.

Housing

  • 40% live in shanty towns
  • People used to just be used to worse areas
  • Now people are provided with material
  • There are housing projects to remove the shanty areas and replace them with proper housing
  • 1/3 of people in poor cities live in self-built houses
  • The Bairro project, in Rociña, Rio de Janeiro, aims to increase the average size of slum homes to 20m^2 and to widen the main streets.
  • Barra de Tijica, Brazil, is a new town located through a mountain from Rio, providing new housing in 10-30 storey blocks, and is now home to 180,000 people.
  • Almost all the houses in Rociña are made out of concrete and brick, contributing to 100s of businesses
  • NGOs are working to improve the situation
  • Oxfam are working to improve the lives of 100 million people living in slums worldwide
  • Some slums still have no provision of basic services.

Employment

  • Oxfam provides water tanks for affordable use in many slums
  • Most people use informal water supplies
  • in Hima, Peru, there was a census including types of businesses, which lead to improvements in encouraging foreign businesses to buy goods from slum workers.
  • Does this actually provide them with enough money to escape poverty?
  • People in slums can enter themselves in the yellow pages, which has been quite successful in Brazil and Peru.
  • However, businesses in slums are unregulated by the police, and are unprotected by the police, in many areas

Waste

  • 4.3 million cases of cholera worldwide
  • Most people produce about 300g of waste a day
  • 2.4 million people in Nairobi are living in slums
  • Composite farms gather waste in biodegradable bags, which, after 6-8 weeks, can be used as manure, leading to better soil fertility, better farming, and more food and income
  • Bioplants can be made in Kibera. Many people use the same latrine. The methane produced from this can be harvested and then resold as cooking gas, which helps kill off germs in water and food
  • Umende has 57 bio centers, and has collected 60,000 kg of waste
  • Nepal has 2.8 million people living in slums. In Kathmandu. 10,000 of the 31,000 slum dwellers are waste collectors. The informal sector work is often exploited.
  • There is an Umbrella Group which workers can register with t monitor them and give vocational training
  • The Green Exchange program in Nepal has led to 4,000 waste worker jobs, with 50% of the beneficiaries being women.

Gender Issues in Malawi

Chief Kachindamoto, the Inkosi in Dezda district, is annulling child marriages within her area, and sending girls back to school within Malawi.

Young girls, 12+ are getting married and having children traditionally in Malawi. Early pregnancies can be fatal, as the woman’s body has not grown fully. Her reproductive organs and pelvis have not either, which can lead to major internal damage, with her uterus bursting at the extreme.

In 2013, Kachindamoto said there would be no more child marriages in her area. She has the authority to enforce rules if there are protests about them, and she can fire any hired figures who help child marriages occur.

The average woman in Malawi earns US$11 a month. There are still dowries to pay for a woman’s marriage. Girls cannot afford basic items, such as soap, and many people laugh at young mothers. Girls will often go ahead with child marriage so they can access these basic items, despite the stigma, believing that their quality of life will improve.

The recommended class size in Malawi is 60 people per class, with some classes having up to 160 pupils. This is, of course, an issue for everyone, but it is often girls who will lose out on education first if there is little opportunity for good learning in less developed countries.

Gender violence in marriage is very common, alongside domestic abuse. Many girls complain that their new husbands will frequently go out with other women, and not provide for them or the other women.

Kachindamoto’s movement includes building  new lodgings  for girls which they can live in until their education is complete, without their ex-husbands’ presence.

Child marriage is illegal in Malawi before the age of 18. The girls in Malawi say there is a difference between having a law and enforcing that law, between passing and enforcing it. This is largely because the constitution and the law do not agree with each other; the constitution does not ban marriages at any age, and only says to “discourage” marriages before age 15.