WITADA’S Weekly Top 10 – 11 April 2015

11 April 201511 April 2015


WITADA’s Weekly Top 10: News, stories and ideas to make the world a better place. 


In our Top 10 this week we cover a range of issues including the worsening crises in Yemen and Syria as well as Myanmar elections, Amazon deforestation and an interview with Jacky Green. Enjoy!


1. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 540 people have been killed and over 1,700 wounded in Yemen between March 19 and April 6. UNICEF has said that children have paid a very high price in this conflict where 100,000 people have been displaced and there is an increasing risk of disease. There is a shortage of water, fuel and medical supplies and the situation is said to be deteriorating by the day. The conflict is making an existing crisis in water supplies even worse. Alistair Dawber of The Independent notes that “experts have been predicting for years that Yemen – the poorest country in the Middle East and one of the driest – could be the first in the world to run out of drinking water”.


2. Human Rights Watch has a story on a new program in Brazil designed to reduce the number of people sent to pretrial detention given the problems with overcrowding and prison based violence. This is considered a huge advance in human rights in Brazil given that there have been many violations of international standards in Brazil’s criminal justice system.


3. Paul Daley from The Guardian has interviewed Garrwa artist Jacky Green about his views on art, politics and the ongoing dispossession of Aboriginal people. Currently Jacky Green is using his art to raise awareness about the mining companies operating in his region and their impact on sacred sites.


4. If you are interested in the dynamics of inequality then this is a must watch TED talk by  social psychologist Paul Piff. He introduces us to his research that utilises a rigged game of monopoly. He found that in the game as wealth increases compassion and empathy go down and feelings of entitlement and self-interest increase. He talks about a whole range of studies that have been conducted in this area – with surprising and disturbing results. The overall finding is that “the wealthier you are the more likely you are to pursue a vision of personal success of achievement and accomplishment to the detriment of others around you”. Thankfully he also has some interesting findings about how feelings of egalitarianism and empathy might be restored.


5. The Canadian mining company Barrick is compensating women who were allegedly assaulted and raped by police and security guards at one of their mines in Papua New Guinea. Over 130 women were among those allegedly assaulted and the majority of them have accepted a compensation package. However some have argued that the compensation amount is inadequate to compensate for the impact of the abuse on their lives and futures.


6. Elections in Myanmar will be held in the the next few months. In the lead up to this Aung San Suu Kyi is participating in talks with the President and other officials to discuss possible constitutional amendments that would allow ethnic minorities and Suu Kyi herself to stand for election.


7. On April 9 Isis captured the refugee camp Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus where Palestinian refugees had lived for more than 50 years. The past three years of war in Syria have seen bombings and destruction in the camp as Isis fighters have gradually established a foothold in the area. UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon has said that the world must not remain silent about the 18,000 Palestinian refugees being held hostage in the camp.


8. just is an initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature and aims to show the many simple and natural ways that we can replace some of the commercially produced products that we rely on for cleaning, washing, etc. There are some great ideas here that will help to make a more sustainable future for us all.


9. New Internationalist Magazine has reported on the recent surge in Amazon deforestation in an interview with scientist Phillip Fearnside from the National Institute for Research in the Amazon. He suggests that “factors behind the resurgence in deforestation include a slowly improving global economy, rising commodity prices and recently enacted Brazilian laws and politics that are encouraging the development of the Amazon”.


10. For our Melbourne readers to enjoy and for the rest of us to feel envious of – here is the web site of the Human Rights Art and Film Festival to be held in Melbourne in May this year. While the bulk of the festival is being held in Melbourne there will be screenings of some films in each major city during May / June. The film, The Beekeeper is a must see!


Lovely to share our Top 10 with you again this week. See you all next week.