2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.

 

In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 113 posts.

The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 137 views. The most popular post that day was Rape as a Weapon of War.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were en.wordpress.com, mahalo.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, and vhoagland.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for rape, somalia, war rape, aisha ibrahim duhulow, and e-waste.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Rape as a Weapon of War May 2009
3 comments

2

Somalia is the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis December 2008

3

United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development June 2009
1 comment

4

Africa’s future grows bleaker as drug shortages roll back the clock on beating AIDS April 2009
2 comments

5

A Brave New World March 2009

In Syria, Honour Killers Get Two Years

Article 548 of Syria’s Penal Code had previously allowed for a complete “exemption of penalty” for the killing of female family members who had been found committing “illegitimate sex acts”, and for the murder of wives having extramarital affairs.

On 1 June, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad replaced this Article with one reading: “He who catches his wife, sister, mother or daughter by surprise, engaging in an illegitimate sexual act and kills or injures them unintentionally must serve a minimum of two years in prison.”

Syrian Women Observatory, an independent Syrian website for women’s rights, estimates there are nearly 200 honour killings there a year. The UNFPA estimates that as many as 5000 women and girls are victims of honour killings each year worldwide.

Human rights activists welcome Syria’s move to enforce a minimum jail sentence for honour killers as better than nothing, but are asking that the Syrian government go further and treat all murderers alike – no exceptions.


Personal Emissions Cap

A new study suggests that the best way to fairly divide the climate change fight between rich and poor is to base targets for emission cuts on the number of wealthy people, who are the greatest greenhouse emitters, in a country. About half of the world’s climate changing emissions come from less than a billion people, so according to the study, it makes sense to follow these people when setting national targets.

Under the Kyoto Protocol,  rich countries shoulder most of the burden for cutting the emissions that cause global warming, while developing countries, including India and China do not have to curb emissions. This is the reason that the United States gave for not signing on to the Kyoto protocol. The US argued that Kyoto gave countries like India and China an unfair economic advantage. India, China and other developing countries say they deserve this advantage because rich industrialized countries have been spewing greenhouse gasses for centuries.

The study suggests setting a uniform international cap on how much carbon dioxide each person could emit in order to limit global emissions; since rich people emit more, they are the ones likely to reach or exceed this cap, whether they live in a rich country or a poor one. So, if world leaders agree to keep carbon emissions in 2030 at the same level they are now, one person’s individual emissions should not exceed 11 pounds a year. This would mean that there will be about a billion high emitters in a world population projected to be about 8.1 billion. By counting the emissions of all the individuals likely to exceed this level, world leaders could provide target emissions cuts for each country. Currently, the world average for individual annual carbon emissions is about 5 tons; each European produces 10 tons and each American produces 20 tons.

Rich people’s lives tend to give off more greenhouse gases because they drive more fossil-fueled vehicles, travel frequently by air and live in big houses that take more fuel to heat and cool.

This study suggests that by focusing on rich people everywhere, rather than rich countries and poor ones, the system of setting carbon-cutting targets based on the number of wealthy individuals in various countries would ease developing countries into any new climate change framework.

Children are Paying for a Crisis They did not Cause

Even before the financial melt down, people living in poverty were suffering from rising fuel costs, skyrocketing food prices, and food shortages.

Around the world, before the financial crisis even began –
•    25,000 people (adults and children) were dying every day from hunger and related causes.
•    More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people were and are women.
•    Every six seconds a child died because of hunger and related causes.

Yet progress was being made and the number of hungry people in the world was going down. Now it is going up.  The number of hungry people in the world, defined as those getting fewer than 1,800 calories per day, is projected to rise by 104 million people this year, pushing the world total to a record number of more than a billion, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

As a result of the economic crisis, millions more people across the developing world have been plunged into poverty. The misery of the already poor has been intensified and the lives, welfare and futures of the most vulnerable of all, the children, have been endangered.

As incomes fall and food prices rise the burden on families can be tremendous. The high price of food means that those living in poverty spend a much higher proportion of their income on food than those who are better off, with the poorest third spending as much as 60% of earnings on food.  The results are higher rates of malnutrition among children and mothers and higher rates of child and maternal mortality. Of the 9.2 million deaths of children under five years of age around the world, 35% are directly related to malnutrition. If unaddressed, the current crisis could:
•    Increase rates of maternal anemia by 10-20%
•    Increase prevalence of low birth weight by 5-7%
•    Increase childhood stunting by 3-7%
•    Increase wasting by 8-16%

The overall under 5 child mortality rate in severely affected countries could increase by 3-11%.

When household incomes are reduced, school fees, including the costs of uniforms and transportation, become unaffordable. Children and young people drop out of school.  Many families are forced to send their children to work. Experts fear that the economic crisis will lead to increased trafficking in human beings as families become more desperate for income and the demand for cheap labor rises.

The World Bank has estimated that the crisis has set back the battle against poverty by seven years, with an additional 44 million children suffering permanent physical or mental impairment because of rising malnutrition last year. Across the world, a generation of children are paying and will continue to pay throughout their lives for an economic crisis they did not cause.

Taliban Aim to Take Over Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban expand influence beyond Swat | csmonitor.com.

The Taliban blew uo over 170 schools in Swat
The Taliban blew up over 170 schools in Swat

In the same week that the Pakistani Taliban secured their demand for Islamic law in the Swat Valley, they moved into a neighboring district and won the right to preach in mosques there. This success in Buner came with little fighting – unlike in Swat, where they’d battled government forces on and off since 2007.

The move suggests that the Taliban, having gained a foothold in Swat, intend to spread their influence more broadly in Pakistan – and may face little resistance in some areas.

This is bad new for the women and girls who live there.  Here’s a quick review of what life is like for women and girls under the Taliban.

  • The Taliban forces women to wear the burqa outside the home and to be accompanied by a male blood relative. The burqa is a garment that completely covers the body, including the face. They say the face of a women is a source of corruption for men not related to them.  Women who cannot afford a burqa or do not have a male relative either stay imprisoned in their homes or risk punishment by going out.
  • The Taliban requires that all ground and first floor residential windows should be painted over or screened to prevent women being visible from the street.
  • Women are forbidden to speak loudly or laugh as no stranger should hear a woman’s voice.
  • The Taliban does not allow girls to go to school.
  • Boys may attend special religious schools where they are indoctrinated by the Taliban and trained as warriors to fight the West.
  • The Taliban does not allow women to work.
  • The Taliban does not allow women to be treated by male doctors, and since female doctors are not allowed to work, women under the Taliban have little or no access to medical care.
  • Women face harsh physical punishment for breaking any of these rules.

The government of Pakistan seems unable to stop the spread of the Taliban and justify compromising with them by claiming that the local populations want the Taliban to impose their fanatical brand of Sharia. In reality, the local population is terrified of opposing the Taliban because they know that their government can’t protect them. The Taliban hunts down and brutally kills anyone who opposes them. Vicious reprisals against members of the local tribal militia that tried to protect Buner are already underway.

Swat and neighboring Buner are about sixty miles from the capital, Islamabad. Pakistan, which possesses nuclear weapons, is in danger of falling completely to the Taliban. The United States is responding to this threat by intensifying predator drone attacks inside Pakistan.  The only visable effect these attacks  seem to be having, is to aid Taliban recruitment efforts. It’s hard to know what the answer is.

Sins of the Father

P.O.V. – Inheritance | PBS

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Drafted in the aftermath of the appalling suffering, death and destruction of World War II, the Declaration expresses humankind’s deepest aspirations for a better future for all people.  Fittingly, PBS premiered the film Inheritance last night on P.O.V. – a showcase for independent, non-fiction films.  P.O.V.’s website introduces the film with these words:

Imagine watching Schindler’s List and knowing the sadistic Nazi camp commandant played by Ralph Fiennes was your father. Inheritance is the story of Monika Hertwig, the daughter of mass murderer Amon Goeth. Hertwig has spent her life in the shadow of her father’s sins, trying to come to terms with her “inheritance.” She seeks out Helen Jonas, who was enslaved by Goeth and who is one of the few living eyewitnesses to his unspeakable brutality. The women’s raw, emotional meeting unearths terrible truths and lingering questions about how the actions of our parents can continue to ripple through generations.

At the beginning of the film, Monika says, “Every father who is in a war should think about his children… they will never live a normal life.”

During the 60 years since the Declaration was adopted the world has continued to witness appalling acts that violate human dignity.  I’ve written a number of times in recent weeks of the stoning of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. I was shakened and sickened to my core by the callous and brutal murder of that little girl, but I didn’t think at all about what the effect of this atrocity would be on the children of those 50 men who threw the stones.

Around the world, men, women, and children still march off to war. Civilian populations are terrorized. Inheritance reminds us that future generations will feel the effects of this violence. Our children live by the choices we make.

You can watch the entire film online until January 4, 2009 at: http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2008/inheritance/fullfilm.html