Climate Change, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, TerraViva United Nations | Opinion Marcos Orellana is the environment and human rights director at Human Rights Watch WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 12 2017 (IPS) – When people ask me what rising sea levels and hurricanes have to do with human rights, I tell them about my work trip to the Maldives back in 2008. At the time, the small island nation was undertaking democratic reforms and leading the diplomatic efforts at the UN to portray the human face of climate change. Vivid in my memory is an image of a man piling up sand bags to keep the rising sea from taking his house. Vivid also are the faces of elderly islanders, wracked with despair and disbelief, after huge storm surges had forced people to relocate. Stories of lives upturned are certainly tragic, but they also help explain why rising seas and extreme weather are linked to human rights. There are many examples of this. In Kenya, increased temperatures and unpredictable rainy seasons threaten Indigenous people’s food and water supplies. In Bangladesh, natural disasters – notably flooding – fuel poverty, which in turn leads to more child brides as families try to marry off their daughters before they lose their land to rising rivers. And in Brazil, climate change may hasten the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, like the Zika virus, which is especially harmful to women and girls. So it is not just islanders in some remote corner of the world who stand to lose with climate change. Images of the devastation wrought on Houston and in Florida clearly show that the global climate system connects us all. Rich or poor, east or west, north or south, we all share one atmosphere. In a worrying sign of where the US administration is on the issue, it recently chose to announce it is axing the post of climate change envoy at the very moment that Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc across Texas and as hundreds of people in South Asia were dying in unprecedented monsoon rains. Nevertheless, for the Maldives and other small islands the stakes are particularly high: they risk losing everything if the world does not meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and prevent sea levels from rising further. “The rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture… threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence,” warned Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, in Bonn last May as he prepared to assume the presidency of the forthcoming global climate summit, to be held this November. It will be the first time a small-island nation takes on this role, and as a country particularly susceptible to climate change, Fiji is well-positioned to champion its climate vision. A fresh approach is particularly important at a time when populism and ignorance are clouding rational decision-making in the United States, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. In a worrying sign of where the US administration is on the issue, it recently chose to announce it is axing the post of climate change envoy at the very moment that Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc across Texas and as hundreds of people in South Asia were dying in unprecedented monsoon rains. Fiji’s leader says he wants to maintain the momentum of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which explicitly calls on governments tackling climate change to respect their human rights obligations. But Baininarama has been utterly silent on this so far. So why is Bainimarama dragging his feet on human rights? Possibly because prior to winning elections three years ago, Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup d’etat, and cynically justified his subsequent use of military rule by saying it was necessary to restore democracy and curtail corruption. While there has been less outright intimidation and more space for public debate since 2014, the government has shown little political will to prosecute cases of torture and other ill-treatment. There are some positive signs. For example, Fiji’s lead climate negotiator spoke movingly in May about how Fijians honor their buried ancestors as part of the land, explaining how rising seas affect a complex web of cultural rights and practices. Fiji should use its leverage as presidency to secure respect for rights in the fight against climate change. And other nations should be prepared to follow its lead. In June, the UN Human Rights Council warned that “climate change poses an existential threat for some countries” and “has already had an adverse impact on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.” The people of islands like the Maldives and Fiji – as well as the millions more affected globally, everywhere from Houston to Hyderabad – are only too aware of this. The statements and views mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IPS. . Internally displaced villagers herd livestock in Kenya’s Turkana Count
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Hurricanes, Human Rights and Fiji
Climate Change, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, TerraViva United Nations | Opinion Marcos Orellana is the environment and human rights director at Human Rights Watch WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 12 2017 (IPS) – When people ask me what rising sea levels and hurricanes have to do with human rights, I tell them about my work trip to the Maldives back in 2008. At the time, the small island nation was undertaking democratic reforms and leading the diplomatic efforts at the UN to portray the human face of climate change. Vivid in my memory is an image of a man piling up sand bags to keep the rising sea from taking his house. Vivid also are the faces of elderly islanders, wracked with despair and disbelief, after huge storm surges had forced people to relocate. Stories of lives upturned are certainly tragic, but they also help explain why rising seas and extreme weather are linked to human rights. There are many examples of this. In Kenya, increased temperatures and unpredictable rainy seasons threaten Indigenous people’s food and water supplies. In Bangladesh, natural disasters – notably flooding – fuel poverty, which in turn leads to more child brides as families try to marry off their daughters before they lose their land to rising rivers. And in Brazil, climate change may hasten the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, like the Zika virus, which is especially harmful to women and girls. So it is not just islanders in some remote corner of the world who stand to lose with climate change. Images of the devastation wrought on Houston and in Florida clearly show that the global climate system connects us all. Rich or poor, east or west, north or south, we all share one atmosphere. In a worrying sign of where the US administration is on the issue, it recently chose to announce it is axing the post of climate change envoy at the very moment that Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc across Texas and as hundreds of people in South Asia were dying in unprecedented monsoon rains. Nevertheless, for the Maldives and other small islands the stakes are particularly high: they risk losing everything if the world does not meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and prevent sea levels from rising further. “The rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture… threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence,” warned Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, in Bonn last May as he prepared to assume the presidency of the forthcoming global climate summit, to be held this November. It will be the first time a small-island nation takes on this role, and as a country particularly susceptible to climate change, Fiji is well-positioned to champion its climate vision. A fresh approach is particularly important at a time when populism and ignorance are clouding rational decision-making in the United States, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. In a worrying sign of where the US administration is on the issue, it recently chose to announce it is axing the post of climate change envoy at the very moment that Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc across Texas and as hundreds of people in South Asia were dying in unprecedented monsoon rains. Fiji’s leader says he wants to maintain the momentum of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which explicitly calls on governments tackling climate change to respect their human rights obligations. But Baininarama has been utterly silent on this so far. So why is Bainimarama dragging his feet on human rights? Possibly because prior to winning elections three years ago, Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup d’etat, and cynically justified his subsequent use of military rule by saying it was necessary to restore democracy and curtail corruption. While there has been less outright intimidation and more space for public debate since 2014, the government has shown little political will to prosecute cases of torture and other ill-treatment. There are some positive signs. For example, Fiji’s lead climate negotiator spoke movingly in May about how Fijians honor their buried ancestors as part of the land, explaining how rising seas affect a complex web of cultural rights and practices. Fiji should use its leverage as presidency to secure respect for rights in the fight against climate change. And other nations should be prepared to follow its lead. In June, the UN Human Rights Council warned that “climate change poses an existential threat for some countries” and “has already had an adverse impact on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.” The people of islands like the Maldives and Fiji – as well as the millions more affected globally, everywhere from Houston to Hyderabad – are only too aware of this. The statements and views mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IPS. . Internally displaced villagers herd livestock in Kenya’s Turkana CountRead More »
Apple May Test Bounds of iPhone Love with $1,000 Model
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is expected to sell its fanciest iPhone yet for $1,000, crossing into a new financial frontier that will test how much consumers are willing to pay for a device that’s become an indispensable part of modern life. The unveiling of a dramatically redesigned iPhone will likely be the marquee moment Tuesday when Apple hosts its first product event at its new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino, California. True to its secretive ways, Apple won’t confirm that it will be introducing a new iPhone, though a financial forecast issued last month telegraphed something significant is in the pipeline. In addition to several new features, a souped-up “anniversary” iPhone – coming a decade after Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first version – could also debut at an attention-getting $999 price tag, twice what the original iPhone cost. It would set a new price threshold for any smartphone intended to appeal to a mass market. What $1,000 bucks will buy Various leaks have indicated the new phone will feature a sharper display, a so-called OLED screen that will extend from edge to edge of the device, thus eliminating the exterior gap, or “bezel,” that currently surrounds most phone screens. It may also boast facial recognition technology for unlocking the phone and wireless charging. A better camera is a safe bet, too. All those features have been available on other smartphones that sold for less than $1,000, but Apple’s sense of design and marketing flair has a way of making them seem irresistible – and worth the extra expense. “Apple always seems to take what others have done and do it even better,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies. Why phones cost more, not less Apple isn’t the only company driving up smartphone prices. Market leader Samsung Electronics just rolled out its Galaxy Note 8 with a starting price of $930. The trend reflects the increasing sophistication of smartphones, which have been evolving into status symbols akin to automobiles. In both cases, many consumers appear willing to pay a premium price for luxury models that take them where they want to go in style. “Calling it a smartphone doesn’t come close to how people use it, view it and embrace it in their lives,” said Debby Ruth, senior vice president of the consumer research firm Magid. “It’s an extension of themselves, it’s their entry into the world, it’s their connection to their friends.” From that perspective, it’s easy to understand why some smartphones now cost more than many kinds of laptop computers, said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead. “People now value their phones more than any other device and, in some cases, even more than food and sex,” Moorhead said. The luxury-good challenge Longtime Apple expert Gene Munster, now managing partner at research and venture capital firm Loup Ventures, predicts 20 percent of the iPhones sold during the next year will be the new $1,000 model. Wireless carriers eager to connect with Apple’s generally affluent clientele are likely to either sell the iPhone at a discount or offer appealing subsidies that spread the cost of the device over two to three years to minimize the sticker shock, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. Even Munster’s sales forecast holds true, it still shows most people either can’t afford or aren’t interested in paying that much for a smartphone. That’s one reason Apple also is expected to announce minor upgrades to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. That will make it easier for Apple to create several different pricing tiers, with the oldest model possibly becoming available for free with a wireless contract. But the deluxe model virtually assures that the average price of the iPhone – now at $606 versus $561 three years ago – will keep climbing. That runs counter to the usual tech trajectory in which the price of electronics, whether televisions or computers, falls over time. “The iPhone has always had a way of defying the law of physics,” Munster said, “and I think it will do it in spades with this higher priced one.” WATCH: Related video report by tech reporter George Putic …
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Refugee Camps “bursting at the seams” in Bangladesh
Aid, Armed Conflicts, Asia-Pacific, Crime & Justice, Featured, Headlines, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Indigenous Rights, Migration & Refugees, Peace, Religion, TerraViva United Nations UNITED NATIONS, Sep 9 2017 (IPS) – A dramatic increase in the number of refugees fleeing Myanmar is placing a huge strain on already very limited resources in Bangladesh, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said. In the last two weeks alone, an estimated 270,000 Rohingya refugees had sought safety in Bangladesh amid escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. “The situation is very grave,” said UNCHR Bangladesh’s spokesperson Joseph Tripura to IPS. “There are people everywhere and refugees are scattered…[the camps] are at a point of saturation,” he continued. Two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in south-east Bangladesh has seen its population more than double, from nearly 34,000 to over 70,000 Rohingya refugees. “These are people that have been walking for days, many of them are tired and hungry and many are traumatized,” Tripura said. Though many arrive on foot, refugees are now seeking alternative and risky routes including a five-hour boat ride across the Bay of Bengal. One family of seven, one of whom was born just nine days ago, told UNHCR that they walked three days through the jungle to Myanmar’s border before taking a fishing boat to neighboring Bangladesh. At least 300 boats carrying refugees arrived at Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration reported. “There are many more waiting for boats,” another family told UNHCR. “It would take a month to bring them all.” Though both families reached Bangladesh’s shores safely, others are not so lucky. A boat carrying at least five children sank on Wednesday and Bangladeshi border guards have reportedly pulled out the bodies of up to 40 Rohingya Muslims last week. Humanitarian agencies have also reported that many refugees are arriving with serious medical needs including some that have been injured by gunshots and bomb blasts. Myanmar’s military has repeatedly denied targeting Rohingya Muslims. With refugee camps already “bursting at the seams”, many new arrivals have no shelter, food or water and limited access to health services. UNHCR said that refugees are now squatting in makeshift shelters along the road and on available land in the border areas of Ukhiya and Teknaf. The agency estimated that up to 300,000 Rohingya Muslims may cross the border into Bangladesh. Tripura told IPS that there is an urgent need for more life-saving resources including more land and shelters. “We are not able to reach everyone and it is growing faster,” he said. The agency also called for swift action to end the conflict in Myanmar. “[The Government of Myanmar] needs to understand the underlying root causes of this problem and they should create a conducive environment so these refugees can feel safe to go back—it is a political decision that needs to be made as early as possible,” Tripura said. “We have been dealing with this situation for a long time, but we are not seeing any improvement…it is getting worse,” he concluded. The Rohingya Muslim community has faced a long history of repression in Myanmar where their status as citizens is disputed and their movement and access to social services is restricted, rendering the majority of the group stateless and impoverished. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) previously described the Rohingya community as one of the most “excluded, persecuted, and vulnerable communities in the world.” Prior to the most recent exodus, Bangladesh had already been hosting an estimated 500,000 Rohingya Muslims for over three decades. The influx began after Myanmar’s military launched “clearance operations” following attacks on security posts on Aug. 25 by an armed group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Many have appealed to Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi including the Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu who fought apartheid in his home country of South Africa. “For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people,” Tutu wrote in a letter. He added that it was “incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country” that “is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people.” New arrivals struggle to find space in the already-overcrowded Kutupalong camp, which saw over 16,000 new arrivals within a week of the outbreak of violence in Myanmar on 25 August 2017. Credit: UNHCR/Vivian Tan…
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Digital Photographs Can Steal Fingerprints
We know that fingerprints can be lifted off various surfaces. But now technology is available to steal fingerprints from a digital photograph. VOA’s Deborah Block explains how….
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Indian Journalist’s Murder: The Ultimate Form of Press Censorship?
Armed Conflicts, Asia-Pacific, Crime & Justice, Democracy, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Press Freedom, TerraViva United Nations BHUBANESWAR, India, Sep 7 2017 (IPS) – Dauntlessly crusading against curbs on freedom of speech, fifty-five-year-old Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh was gunned down at her very doorstep in Bengaluru city on the evening of Sep. 5, taking three bullets of the seven fired in her lungs and heart. She was shot from just three feet away. Known for her vocal stand against India’s growing right-wing ideology, communal politics and majoritian policies, Lankesh ran bold and forthright anti-establishment reports on the eponymous Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a regional language tabloid published, owned and edited by her since 2005.”Gauri Lankesh’s death is another stark reminder of how violence is the new normal (in India).” –A senior journalist She ran the paper only on subscriptions from loyal readers from across remote villages of Karnataka State. The paper carried no advertisements, following in the tradition of her socialist poet, playwright and journalist father who started the original tabloid. Gauri Lankesh described herself on her Twitter handle as a journalist-activist. Fluent in both English and the regional Kannada language, she fearlessly broadcast her far-left of centre and pro-Dalit ideologies against religious fundamentalism and the caste system, reaching a huge mass grassroots population. Speaking at her funeral, Karnataka’s chief minister M Siddaramaiah said, “Gauri brokered deals with Naxalites (Left-wing extremists) in Karnataka. She helped them enter the mainstream and played a vital role of a negotiator between the State and the extremists.” An activity which extremists cadres may have wanted to halt, Lankesh’s brother Indrajit Lankesh said today. Known as a sympathizer of left-wing extremists, Lankesh was among the few who could empathise with the poverty, oppression and injustices that had pushed these people to pick up arms against the government. In November, Lankesh was convicted in two libel suits filed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians for her 2008 article alleging that they had criminal dealings. She was, however, granted bail and was planning to appeal to a higher court. Majority of journalists killed wrote on politics and corruption Lankesh’s voice being silenced once again highlights that journalists covering politics and corruption in India are most at risk of being silenced by killing. Over half of the 27 journalists murdered in the country since 1992 were covering politics and corruption – the two beats most likely to provoke violent repercussions, finds the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ). The threat from these seems to be rising. India continues to languish in the bottom third of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, ranking 136th of 180 countries. Among India’s neighbours, most fare better, including conflict-torn Afghanistan at 120, Pakistan at 139, Sri Lanka at 141, , Bangladesh at 146, Nepal at 100, Bhutan at 84 and China at 176. Norway leads while North Korea is at the bottom. The Index ranks countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country. ‘It is not what you said, but why you said it’ A friend of the slain journalist who was also from the media fraternity is quoted as saying that Lankesh was very “in your face” in her brand of progressive activism against radical Hinduism. “In my frequent interactions with her, I would tell her that her whole rhetoric should be more subtle,” her friend says. “She was very naive and she was politically incorrect. She was very bold, but indulged in sloganeering of a certain kind which I said would not achieve anything. She needed to strategize.” “Our right to dissent is being threatened,” the intrepid journalist said instead. Bold red placards at her funeral read, “It is not what you said, but why you said it.” “Given the ways in which speech is being stifled, dire days lie ahead,” Lankesh told an online portal a few months before her death, in an intuitive foretelling of her violent end. She installed two closed circuit surveillance systems a fortnight before the fatal attack. No link has yet been established between her death and her ideology or writing by police investigations, but because she so fiercely fought for freedom of speech and freedom of thought, large sections of Indian media protesting her killing are expressing concern over what they described as a growing intolerance of dissenting political voices.Related IPS ArticlesMuzzling the Media: CambodiaInternet Shutdowns in Africa Stifling Press FreedomA Global Call for Journalists’ Safety A senior journalist sums up the current sentiment saying, “Gaur
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US Senator: Twitter Should Offer Analysis of Russian Activity
WASHINGTON — Twitter Inc should provide an analysis of recent Russian activity on its social media platform, similar to the one Facebook Inc provided, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters on Thursday. Speaking one day after Facebook said it had uncovered an operation likely based in Russia that bought thousands of U.S. ads with divisive messages, Senator Mark Warner said that finding was likely just the beginning, and that Twitter should also examine the issue….
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Scaling up Development Finance
Crime & Justice, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Environment, Featured, Financial Crisis, Global, Green Economy, Headlines, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations, Trade & Investment | Opinion Anis Chowdhury, a former professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, held senior United Nations positions during 2008–2015 in New York and Bangkok. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007. SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR , Sep 5 2017 (IPS) – The Business and Sustainable Development Commission has estimated that achievement of Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals will require US$2-3 trillion of additional investments annually compared to current world income of around US$115 trillion. This is a conservative estimate; annual investments of up to US$2 trillion yearly will be needed to have a chance of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C. The greatest challenge, especially for developing countries, is to mobilize needed investments which may not be profitable. The United Nations and others have revived the idea of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to finance development. IMF quotas SDRs were created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement member countries’ official reserves (e.g., gold and US dollars). They were designed to meet long-term international liquidity needs, rather than as a short-term remedy for payments imbalances. The SDR is not a currency, but a potential claim on freely usable currencies (e.g., USD) of IMF members. Currently, SDRs are allocated among members according to their IMF quotas. IMF quotas determine a member’s maximum financial commitment, voting power and upper limit to financing. Determination of quotas has been influenced by the convertibility of currencies, as it provides the Fund with ‘drawable’ resources. Moreover, the current quota formula is highly influenced by countries’ GDPs and trade. Despite some reforms over the decades, IMF quotas are biased in favour of rich countries. Thus, arguably, SDR distribution based on IMF quotas is not neutral. Allocating more rights to provide poor countries with development finance would help redress this bias. Concessional finance The UN has long argued for creating new reserve assets (i.e., SDRs) to augment development finance instead of current provisions for distribution according to IMF quotas. Creating new SDRs for development finance has its origins in Keynes’ 1944 proposal for an international clearing union (ICU). The ICU was to be empowered to issue an international currency, tentatively named ‘bancor’. The ICU would also finance several international organizations pursuing desirable objectives such as post-war relief and reconstruction, preserving peace and maintaining international order, as well as managing commodities. From the late 1950s, Robert Triffin and others urged empowering the IMF to issue special reserve assets to supplement development finance. In 1965, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) endorsed a plan similar to Triffin’s. According to this plan, the IMF would issue units to all member countries against freely usable currencies deposited by members. The IMF would invest some of these currency deposits in World Bank or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) bonds. The IBRD would then transfer some of these to the International Development Association (IDA) for long-term low-interest loans to the poorest countries. Objections However, the proposal was blocked by the Group of Ten developed countries. They argued that the proposal, for permanent transfers of real resources from developed to developing countries, would contradict the original intent of costless reserve creation. Additionally, the G10 argued, direct spending of SDRs would be inflationary. The creation of SDRs is not an end in itself, but a means to raise living standards. Thus far, the SDR facility has been used to try to ensure more orderly and higher growth in international liquidity, e.g., following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, when a new allocation of SDR 182.7 billion was approved. Also, by substituting for gold, which requires real resources to be mined, refined, transported and guarded, with costs of production and administration near zero, SDRs generate social savings, which can be used for internationally agreed objectives. Jan Tinbergen argued that as the creation of new money always implies that the first recipient gets money without having produced something, this privilege should be given to the poor countries of the world, instead of the rich. But changing the SDR allocation formula requires amending the IMF Articles of Agreement, which requires approval of all powerful developed countries, which seems most unlik
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Growing US Dilemma: Automated Jobs Meet Social Consciousness
Security guard Eric Leon watches the Knightscope K5 security robot as it glides through the mall, charming shoppers with its blinking blue and white lights. The brawny automaton records video and sounds alerts. According to its maker, it deters mischief just by making the rounds.
Leon, the all-too-human guard, feels pretty sure that the robot will someday take his job.
“He doesn’t complain,” Leon says. “He’s quiet. No lunch break. He’s starting exactly at 10.”
Even in the technology hotbed stretching from Silicon Valley to San Francisco, a security robot can captivate passers-by. But the K5 is only one of a growing menagerie of automated novelties in a region where you can eat a delivered pizza made via automation and drink beers at a bar served by an airborne robot. This summer, the San Francisco Chronicle published a tech tourism guide listing a dozen or so places where tourists can observe robots and automation in action.
Yet San Francisco is also where workers were the first to embrace mandatory sick leave and fully paid parental leave. Voters approved a $15 hourly minimum wage in 2014, a requirement that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law for the entire state in 2016. And now one official is pushing a statewide “tax” on robots that automate jobs and put people out of work.
It’s too soon to say if the effort will prevail, let alone whether less-progressive jurisdictions might follow suit. The tussle points to the tensions that can flare when people embrace both technological innovation and a strong brand of social consciousness.
Such frictions seem destined to escalate as automation makes further inroads into the workplace. One city supervisor, Norman Yee, has proposed barring food delivery robots from city streets, arguing that public sidewalks should be solely for people.
“I’m a people person,” Yee says, “so I tend to err on the side of things that should be beneficial and safe for people.”
Future for workers
Jane Kim, the city supervisor who is pushing the robot tax, says it’s important to think now about how people will earn a living as more U.S. jobs are lost to automation. After speaking with experts on the subject, she decided to launch a statewide campaign with the hope of bringing revenue-raising ideas to the state legislature or directly to voters.
“I really do think automation is going to be one of the biggest issues around income inequality,” Kim says.
It makes sense, she adds, that the city at the center of tech disruption take up the charge to manage that disruption.
“It’s not inherently a bad thing, but it will concentrate wealth, and it’s going to drive further inequity if you don’t prepare for it now,” she says.
“Preposterous” is what William Santana Li, CEO of security robot maker Knightscope calls the supervisor’s idea. His company created the K5 robot monitoring the Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose.
The private security industry, Li says, suffers from high turnover and low pay. As he sees it, having robots handle menial tasks allows human guards to assume greater responsibilities — like managing a platoon of K5 robots — and likely earn more pay in the process.
Li acknowledges that such jobs would require further training and some technological know-how. But he says people ultimately stand to benefit. Besides, Li says, it’s wrong to think that robots are intended to take people’s jobs.
“We’re working on 160 contracts right now, and I can maybe name two that are literally talking about, `How can I get rid of that particular human position?”‘
Spurring new jobs
The question of whether — or how quickly — workers will be displaced by automation ignites fierce debate. It’s enough to worry Bill Gates, who suggested in an interview early this year a robot tax as a way to slow the speed of automation and give people time to prepare. The Microsoft co-founder hasn’t spoken publicly about it since.
A report last year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development concluded that 9 percent of jobs in the United States — or about 13 million — could be automated. Other economists argue that the impact will be much less drastic.
The spread of automation should also generate its own jobs, analysts say, offsetting some of those being eliminated. Workers will be needed, for example, to build and maintain robots and develop the software to run them.
Technological innovation has in the past created jobs in another way, too: Work involving new technologies is higher-skilled and typically higher-paying. Analysts say that much of the extra income those workers earn tends to be spent on additional goods and services, thereby creating more jobs.
“There are going to be a wider array of jobs that will support the automation economy,” said J.P. Gownder, an analyst at the research firm Forrester. “A lot of what we’re going to be doing is working side by side with robots.”
What about people who lose jobs to automation but can’t tra
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Small Entrepreneurs Emerge as Backbone of Bangladesh’s Rural Economy
Aid, Asia-Pacific, Economy & Trade, Education, Featured, Headlines, Health, Human Rights, Labour, TerraViva United Nations, Trade & Investment, Women & Economy Banaripara (Barisal), Sep 4 2017 (IPS) – She was born in the early 1950’s to an ultra-poor family in Kundihar, a remote village of Banaripara of Barisal division in Bangladesh. She was a beautiful baby and her father named her ‘Shahndah Rani’ which means ‘Queen of Evenings’. But in reality her life was far from that of a queen. Born into acute poverty, there were days when she went without any food. Rani’s parents could not afford any schooling and gave her away in marriage at age 16 to relieve some of the pressures on them. She was married off to Monoranjan Dhar, who despite being poor himself, cared for Rani. Soon after she moved in with her husband, Rani started working to produce lime from snail shells in the traditional way, by hand. Lime is one of the ingredients used in the consumption of betel leaf. Many people in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries are dependent on betel leaf or ‘paan’ chewing, which also includes other ingredients such as areca nut and often tobacco. It is chewed for its stimulant effects. Historians claim that betel leaf chewing has been part of South Asian culture for hundreds of years. Rani’s struggle for survival began at the time of Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. She managed to save a capital fund of just 65 dollars, which she used to buy firewood and for collecting snail shells from ponds, marshland and swampland around her village. On the very first day of her business venture, she produced one kilogram of lime, which she was able to sell in a nearby rural market for about one US dollar. Rani quickly realized that she was on the right track and understood the market value and demand. She’s never looked back. Her husband Monoranjan proudly says, “Rani is energetic and she can think well. She gives me the courage and confidence to face the challenges of poverty together.” Shanda Rani and her family with IFAD team members. Credit: Shahiduzzaman Following four decades of hard work, Shandha Rani is now an icon for rural entrepreneurs in her village and community. Her husband and three adult sons work with her. She has also created jobs for three more people. Several other women and men are following Rani’s footsteps. Dipali Rani is one of them, who also started producing lime. The local people have renamed the village Lime Para (village). “It is good. Traders are now directly coming to us to buy our product. It also reduces our worries about marketing the product,” said Manaranjan. Rani is eager to expand her network and business into neighbouring districts, so she is negotiating with financial institutions for loans to invest. She has successfully set up a small workshop with an electric moulding machine, a fireplace to burn snail shells and storage space. Rani is the proud owner of a motorboat for easy transportation of her product and raw materials. Her family home is now a tin-roofed, brick-walled house with a toilet on her own land. At present she has a running capital of about 10,000 dollars, with the capacity to produce 800 kg lime per day. However, lime from snail shells can’t be produced year-round because of non-availability of the shells, particularly in dry or winter seasons. “If initiatives are taken to cultivate snail shells, it will be a big push for lime production. It has a potential market in the country. Snail shells without flesh are the key raw material for lime production. Besides, their flesh has huge demand in fish cultivation farms as feed. Such initiatives will also create more job opportunities in rural areas,” said James P. Biswas, Deputy Executive Director of the Bangladesh Development Society (BDS). Rani’s story is one of the success stories of BDS, an NGO based in Barisal working to support development of rural entrepreneurs with assistance from the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations specialized agency. Since 2000, BDS has been supporting Rani. She was able to take loans 16 times and each of these loans was repaid on time. The loan amounts vary between 200 and 6,000 dollars. “The organization has provided loans for various purposes to dozens of families in this sub-district and there has been remarkable progress. In most cases, beneficiaries have overcome poverty while at the same time creating jobs. With such success, BDS in partnership with the IFAD and PKSF is planning to increase the loan amount and help expand areas of activities,” Biswas added. Benoit Thierry, Country Program Manager in the Asia and the Pacific Division of IFAD, who recently visited the Kundihar village along with PKSF officials, met up with several beneficiaries including Shahndah Rani to assess the impact of IFAD support in this area. Over four decades, th
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US Pressure Keeps Palestinians Blacklisted at UN
Armed Conflicts, Featured, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, North America, Peace, TerraViva United Nations UNITED NATIONS, Sep 1 2017 (IPS) – When Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposed the appointment of former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as UN’s Special Representative in Libya back in February, the proposal was shot down by US Ambassador Nikki Haley, purely because he was a Palestinian. Credit: Institute for Palestine StudiesAnd speaking before the US House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee in June, Haley went even further down the road when she indicated she would block any appointment of a Palestinian official to a senior role at the UN because Washington “does not recognize Palestine” as an independent state. Suddenly, the Palestinians, for the first time, seem blacklisted– and declared political outcasts– in a world body where some of them held key posts in a bygone era. Nadia Hijab, Executive Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, told IPS: “ As the US Administration appears to be steering a breakneck course towards a nuclear war with North Korea, it is little short of remarkable that its representative at the UN can find time to continue her vendetta against the Palestinian people while Israel, a serial violator of the international law the UN was created to uphold, is able not only to sit at the UN but to serve on key committees”. Instead of blocking Palestinians from their rightful place in the community of nations, Ambassador Haley would do better to push for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land conquered in 1967 and welcome a fully sovereign State of Palestine to the UN, said Hijab, who is of Palestinian origin, and once served as a senior staff member of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “I wonder if Ambassador Haley is aware that, because Israel has colonized their country, Palestinians carry the nationality of many other countries around the world, including the United States. How far will she take her crusade against this beleaguered people?,” she asked. In most instances, Palestinians working at the United Nations have been nationals of UN member states, acquiring citizenships in countries such as UK, US, Jordan, Canada, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, among others. Since 2012, Palestine has been a “non-member observer state” at the UN—as is the Holy See (Vatican). As one Arab diplomat speculated: “If Fayyad, who was educated at the University of Texas, was in fact also a US citizen, Haley may have blocked the appointment of an American, not a Palestinian.” “But that’s a question only Fayyad can answer. If true, it will be an irony of ironies”, he added. Guterres, who apparently relented to US pressure by stepping back on Fayyad’s appointment plucked up courage to tell reporters: “I think it was a serious mistake. I think that Mr. Fayyad was the right person in the right place at the right time, and I think that those who will lose will be the Libyan people and the Libyan peace process.” And, he rightly added: ““I believe that it is essential for everybody to understand that people serving the UN are serving in their personal capacities. They don’t represent a country or a government – they are citizens of the world representing the UN Charter and abiding by the UN Charter,” he said, pointedly directing his answer at Haley Samir Sanbar, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General who headed the Department of Public Information (DPI), told IPS that “traditionally, U.N. staffers need not renounce their loyalty to their home country, but they will have to take an oath of exclusive loyalty to the U.N. Secretary-General which in effect places them as international civil servants- a once unique category recently, and systematically eroded.” He pointed out that a number of Palestinians had served in the UN Secretariat since its early days, like Ismail Khalidi, a Saudi citizen of Palestinian origin and father of Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, and Shukri Salameh, who was of Palestinian origin and Chief of Staff Services in the Office of Personnel in the UN’s Department of Public Information. Other senior officials later served with Jordanian, Lebanese, Saudi, Syrian and other papers in addition to those like Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Yassir, who headed the audit department of UNDP and who apparently carried a Palestinian “Stateless” card at the time, said Sanbar, who served under five different UN secretaries-general. He said a number of U.S. /U.N. officials were flexible on their own government’s position on politically-sensitive issues such as Under-Secretary General Joseph Vernon Reed — former Protocol Chief of U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush—when he attended a General Assembly meeting in Geneva with the participation of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat when he was rebuffed
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