Richard Pithouse - Many white South Africans seem to assume that the end of apartheid, imagined as a temporary anomaly consequent to a backward form of Afrikaner nationalism, has meant the end of racism. This is often taken to mean that white South Africans are now able to rejoin a community of international whiteness. This space is often imagined, in an enduring colonial trope, as a space of enlightenment that offers a unique and precious gift to the world. When white South Africans see themselves as having a special connection to global whiteness they often succumb to the narcissistic fantasy that their presence in this society, in Africa, constitutes a unique and precious gift.
Anna Majavu - A truck transporting 100 cattle to the abattoir overturned last week on the N1 highway, with 32 cows then allegedly being stolen by residents of a nearby poor community. News websites carried a story sourced from a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) press release, which described the residents negatively as "frenzied", a "mob" and "vultures" and said they had "the intention" to hack pieces of flesh off the living creatures while they were trying to escape. The NSPCA then went on to allow hundreds of un-moderated responses to the story on its official Facebook page, which described Black people as "savages", "uncontrollable" and "primitive".
Nicolas Pons-Vignon - How can we understand the claim, indeed the obsession, made by people whose life is firmly anchored in the comfortable realm of the South African middle and upper classes, driving in private cars, living in comfortable homes, with medical aid and pension funds, that those who serve them in restaurants, clean their gardens, or manufacture their cars, are getting an excessively good deal? Could it be that the idea that workers are overpaid in South Africa reflects a feeling of class superiority, and that this notion is what informs reluctance to spend more on the wages of those considered inferior?
Alexander O'Riordan - The Paris based think tank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported late last year that donor spending on climate change rose four fold since 2007 to over R400 billion in 2013. The vast majority of this climate change money is spent on mitigation rather than adaptation thus not being directed at helping poor people adapt to climate change. Donors are now spending more than a quarter of what they commit to poverty alleviation on climate change and this money is coming out of funds that would otherwise go on health or education.
Natasha Hakimi Zapata - Uruguayan President Jose Mujica steps down from office at the end of next month leaving behind a superb legacy. Under Mujica and his predecessor, Tabare Vasquez, who not only also belongs to the Broad Front party but will replace Mujica when he finishes his term March 1, the nation has witnessed an economic boom fueled by the agricultural industry and a dramatic decrease in poverty from 40 to 12 percent in the past 10 years. The minimum wage has increased by 50 percent and the Uruguayan wealth gap has narrowed. Moreover, the 75 percent increase in the economy has allowed for social spending to expand.
Watch - Philosopher, Slavoj Zizek argues that our current brand of global capitalism is quickly outgrowing democracy and that a divorce between the two is inevitable. This leads to an array of social and geopolitical concerns regarding the public commons, including the emergence of new forms of apartheid. New walls are emerging between, for example, the United States and Mexico, Israel and the West Bank in addition to a new obsession with how to isolate Europe from Africa. The paradox of today's global capitalism is that on the one hand it's global, free flow of capital, but the free movement of people is increasingly controlled and new forms of apartheid are emerging.
Watch - Just over two months ago three grandmothers were introduced to pot for the first time by an intrepid video production team in the state of Washington in the United States where the use of recreational marijuana is legal. The women were given a bong, a vaporizer, marijuana tea and offered some snacks and a card game. The results are both hilarious and sobering. We witness the grandmothers starting to relax, laugh a lot, tell some dirty jokes, talk about their new experience and realise that they may have been unnecessarily missing out on something enjoyable and even beneficial.
Watch - SACSIS columnist, Prof. Jane Duncan, talks to Creamer Media about her new book, which examines the rise of securocrats in South Africa. Securocrats are officials located in the security establishment - the police, intelligence services or the military - that have the power to influence government policy in their favour. Duncan raises genuine concerns about their growing influence, which is leading to an excessive and unnecessary focus on secrecy and security as well as resulting in the suppression of citizen's rights.
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