Alexander O'Riordan - South African civil society has happily drunk the cool aid in tacitly agreeing to cut salaries and de-professionalise their own organisations. While donors don't blink at financing international NGOs to recruit highly qualified fundraisers, researchers and project designers, local civil society has allowed them to drive salaries and operational costs forever lower turning our organisations into largely bankrupt, mute and cheap service delivery organisations. Call it the Walmart approach, but funding from donors pretty much embodies the principle of keeping the supplier on the verge of bankruptcy to ensure uncritical compliance.
Jamie Stern-Weiner - On October 13, British MPs voted 274 to 12 to recognise the State of Palestine. What are the implications? First, the Labour leadership officially endorsed recognition, as did a large majority of Labour MPs. Second, while Liberal Democrat ministers abstained, the party supports recognising Palestinian statehood, as did nearly every Liberal Democrat MP who voted. Taken together, and despite the high rate of Tory abstention, the vote demonstrated strong support for recognition of Palestine that crossed party lines. Throughout the parliamentary debate, anger at Israel's relentless settlement of the West Bank, cruelty in Gaza and rejection of the international consensus two-state solution was palpable.
Dale T. McKinley - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is drowning in a sea of mismanagement, corruption, political manipulation and strategic myopia. While this state of affairs will probably not result in an imminent 'attack' on the Union Buildings, as was the case in 2009 when angry rank-and-file soldiers protested over conditions of service, the ongoing fallout is much worse. Despite a mountain of evidence stemming from the 1990's arms deal detailing gross mismanagement and corruption involving SANDF and Department of Defence officials, hardly any of those responsible have been held to even the most minimal of disciplinary standards.
Arianne Shahvisi - Middle-class outrage at the recent removal of Banksy's graffiti in an area of poverty and racial tension, Clacton-on-sea, indicates how disconnected the bourgeoisie are from the realities of working-class life in Britain. Frankly, Banksy's artwork is not particularly interesting or noteworthy, and his latest piece is no exception. It rarely reaches beyond the standard of a newly-politicized adolescent. It certainly wasn't game-changing and would have made no substantive difference to the lives of the people of Clacton-on-sea. It was destined to make its way into books, the Internet and T-shirts, disembodied of any connection to its original context, and thereby robbed of its power to inspire change.
Daniel McLaren - October 16 is World Food Day. But as the 20th World Food Day since the establishment of our democracy dawns on South Africa, a grim shadow of hunger and malnutrition hangs over the democratic era. While there are fewer food insecure households today than in 1999, over a quarter of the population still live in households that regularly experience hunger. Some of the most alarming statistics relate to children. More children are benefitting from school feeding programmes than ever before, but the percentage of children stunted by age 4 has increased from 21.6% in 1999 to 26.5% in 2012.
Watch - Women pop stars are dominating the charts these days. This is a major victory for feminism, right? Alas, it seems that some women are reaching the top of the charts by less than feminist tactics. Commenting for The Guardian, Harriet Gibsone has made an amazing, sharp-humored video on how you too can be a female pop star. Her tips include hiring a man to help you write a song, preferably about your body, because that's what you fans will want. And instead of merely celebrating normal-sized bodies for women by just having one, "address your lack of thinness with lyrics about 'skinny bitches'".
Watch - Fifty million people in the world today have been forcefully displaced from their home - a level not seen since WWII. Right now, more than three million Syrian refugees are seeking shelter in neighbouring countries. With wars going on continuously, the average time that a refugee will spend in exile is 17 years. On a global scale, every day 32,000 people will be displaced from their homes on average. Most refugees, 86%, live in the developing world. Melissa Fleming of the UN's refugee agency calls on the world to make sure that refugee camps are healing places where people can develop the skills they'll need to rebuild their hometowns.
Watch - Unofficial election results this week indicate that Bolivian president Evo Morales has won a third term. According to exit polls, he got 60% of the vote while his closest opponent, Samuel Doria Medina, received just 25%. The Bolivian government's economic stewardship as well as its dedication to spreading the benefits of the country's natural gas and mineral wealth to the poor has been key to Morales' re-election. Meanwhile Bolivia has clocked an annual economic growth rate of five percent and Morales' economic measures have even won praise from unlikely quarters such as the IMF and World Bank.
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