New Internationalist

Radio New Internationalist

Ethical travellers

To fly or not to fly…

Now that we’re more conscious of combating climate change, cutting back on carbon emissions is high on the list. To fly or not to fly - that is the question. After all, heating a home for a whole year produces on average less carbon dioxide emissions than one person taking a return flight from New York to London. But helse do you get there? You can’t take a train, and who’s got time for a boat? Should you go at all? ‘s just one of many dilemmas that confront ethical travellers. It’s no easy ride. here to go? Who to travel with? How to maximize the amount of your money that goes to local people - not big companies - in the places you visit? So strap on your seat belt as New Internationalist co-editor Chris Brazier away the ecotourism marketing hype and guides us through a host of travelling experiences destined to do more good than harm.

  • Combine carbon emissions with the increasing cost of a place on a plane and the desire for plane travel might be crashing. Cameron Forbes - author of ‘Under the volcano: The Story of Bali’ - considers what would happen to the Indonesian island of Bali if the tourist dollar disappears.
  • From rubbish and water waste to the over-development of sensitive areas, tourism’s environmental impacts are significant. Syed Liyakhat from the Indian NGO Equations sets out the effects that tourism has had on Indian people, places and culture.
  • Peter Richards - from the Community Based Tourism Institute in Chiangmai, Thailand - shows us snapshots of communities in the Majority World that are benefiting best from tourism.

The revved-up rhythms in today’s program come straight off the streets surrounding Colombia’s Caribbean coastline as Colombi-africa - the Mystic Orchestra perform their Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land CD.

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Not so supermarkets

What’s on the world’s supermarket shelves…

Whether you’re shopping in England or India, supermarkets are appearing on every horizon. The bigger they get, the greater is the break-down of community culture. Huge box-store shopping developments spring up on town-outskirts drawing petrol guzzling people-movers in like a magnet from suburbs that have long ago lost their local economies. They have a lot of issues on display. Profit hungry superstores sourcing the cheapest produce are squeezing out small local farmers and retailers from the market. Quality is compromised as food is grown further and further away, then driven or flown ridiculously long distances. To stop it from rotting en route, food regulators look the other way as science offers weird ways to increase food life. Indian environmentalist-extraordinaire Dr Vandana Shiva joins Chris Richards on a trip to the supermarket to take a close look at what’s now on the shelves - and the movements for retail democracy building around the world in response.

  • Andrew Simms - author of Tescopoly: How one shop came out on top and why it matters - gives a profile of the British retail giant, Tesco, which takes around one in eight of every retail pound spent and has stores in all but four postcodes. Far from the fields of fresh veggies and fruit, supermarket products are increasingly jumping out of test-tubes onto the shelves.
  • Georgia Miller - coordinator of the Friends of the Earth Nanotechnology Project - has identified 104 big name products utilizing nanotechnology that don’t need to be labelled and have unknown effects on human health.
  • Every time people in Rich World countries sit down at the dinner table, they could be eating the fruits of Morocco’s illegal invasion of Western Sahara. Kamal Fadel from Polisario - the independence advocates for the Saharawi (Western Saharan) people - explains why.

Today’s CD is called Mahima - an  extraordinary melting pot of music by two of the world’s best slide guitarists: Debashish Bhattacharya from India and Bob Brozman, bringing in his signatures strains from the Pacific. 

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Fuel for thought

The global impact of using food supplies to fuel cars…

As world leaders prepare to fly into Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, for the next round of United Nations climate change talks, we’re wondering - realistically - what these talks are going to achieve. They’re supposed to strengthen global action on climate change, but just how we’re going to achieve those all-important reductions in greenhouse gases and the cooling of the environment are no where in sight. Far from focussing on how to stop the very activities that we now know lead to higher carbon emissions, governments are hitching up to the big business bandwagon that biofuels (more accurately called agrofuels) offer an important plank in combating climate change. From the Rich World, it sounds promising - replacing oil with fuels that can be naturally grown. But what do the people of the Poor World where the crops are being grown think? Today’s program asks them.  

  • The current talks in Bangkok are framing a successor to the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. Fiu Elisara from the O le Siosiomaga Society in Samoa assesses how effective the Kyoto protocol been so far in combating the effects of climate change in the Pacific.
  • Rachel Smolker - author of a report called The Real Cost of Agrofuels: Food, Forest and the Climate - gives a global assessment of the impacts of pouring the world’s grain supplies into our cars.
  • Lucia Ortiz - a Brazilian geologist - reports about how agrocrops are dispossessing her people of land and resources.
  • We are being told that economic growth in developing countries like China and India will surely kill us all. But how often are these countries being asked for their side of the story? Soumitra Ghosh - who works with  the North Eastern Society for Preservation of Nature and Wild Life in West Bengal, India gives his assessment of agrofuels.
  • British-based Danny Chivers performs one of his action poems, offering a straightforward but supremely effective solution to reducing our carbon footprint.

Today’s CD is called Songs of the Volcano performed Bob Brozman and the Rabaul community’s local string-bands in Papua New Guinea.  Two volcanic eruptions have destroyed Rabaul twice in a century so the energy in this CD reflects an unfailing optimism in the face of adversity - something that we’re going to need as we tackle climate change.

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Temperatures Rising

The privatization of public health systems

Radio New Internationalist has just landed in Dublin to join one of the leading lights in Irish community radio - Jack Byrne from NEAR FM - as he reports on a pressing public interest issue: plans to privatize his country’s public health system. Ireland - like so many other countries around the world - is preparing to follow the health system operating in the United States. Yet the health outcomes of the US-system are horrendous. Forty seven million Americans - completely uninsured - are destined for patched-up healthcare. Others with insurance face high out-of-pocket costs that bankrupt more than a million people annually. Mortality statistics are lagging behind those of most other wealthy countries. And - according to two North American doctors writing in the British Medical Journal at the end of last year - clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction are mediocre even when you are insured. So as country after country lines up to privatize its health services, we had to ask: ‘Why?’

  • Water is essential to good health, and the African nation, Tanzania, has just been awarded compensation after privatized water services in the capital delivered worse water. Tamsyn East - the Water Campaigns Officer with the World Development Movement - reports.
  • Big private pharmaceutical companies are neglecting some killer diseases in countries without cashed-up consumers. Ann-Marie Sevcsik describes the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative that is developing life saving drugs and - in the process - is challenging private companies to cough up with the cures that they’ve so far neglected.

Today’s CD is called Yellela (This is it) sung by the band Eyuphuro with lead vocalist Zena Bacar- the golden voice of Mozambique. She’s back after years of silence,singing new songs full of melancholy and powerful rhythms with herreformed band.

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Here comes the bride

Fresh from this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations, this week the Radio New Internationalist team pay tribute to the women of the world and the challenges that confront them as a result of marriage. While changing roles of women in public life, laws to stop obstacles to education such as the marriage of girl-brides and greater availability to contraception are gradually improving women’s lives, progress is slow. Nikki van der Gaag - author of the No Nonsense Guide to Women’s Rights and Because I am a Girl - joins some inspirational campaigners for women’s rights to overview the issues:

  • Over thirty years ago, Maria-rosa Dalla Costa from Italy and Selma James from England stepped onto the world stage to put the case for a wage for housework. Their book - The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community - kicked-off an international campaign. Selma James outlines its impact then, and now.
  • Payal Nair - Senior Features Writer with Asian Bride Magazine - reports on how Western wedding culture has jumped into Asia, and brought the white wedding dress with it.
  • In the capital of the Philippines - Manila - men don’t need to worry about putting a condom in their wallet because there’s a ban on contraception. Lawyer Aya Fujimura-Fanselow has been documenting how the ban is imposing misery on the city’s poorest women.
  • From one extreme to another, we travel to China - the only country in the world where access to abortion is unrestricted for women throughout their pregnancy. Yet - despite that country’s one-child policy - abortion still carries a stigma. Ivy Wang has been studying how single women in China who’ve had an abortion are reacting to that experience.

Today’s CD is called Jidka (The Line) performed by Saba, a truly international woman who was born in Somalia to an Ethiopian mother and an Italian father and who combines each of these countries’ cultures in her music.

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Homeward Bound

Think globally. Act locally.’ How many times have you heard that before? It’s the catch-cry on activists’ stickers and posters across the world. Embracing that spirit, Radio New Internationalist - which is normally produced at community radio station 3CR in Melbourne, Australia - is s’tepping outside its patch to collaborate with community radio stations in other countries. They select an issue of local concern. We bring in the international perspectives. When Murray Dawson - whose one of the driving forces behind SHMU FM in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Scotland - put the privatization of public housing up for debate, progressive people from Cuba, England, Russia, and Germany stepped up to the microphones to share their views.

  • The British Government wants to move public housing off its books into the hands of housing associations. At first blush this might sound great - giving people a chance to run the blocks of homes that they live in. So why are communities voting against it? Glyn Robbins from the British organization Defend Council Housing Campaign reports.
  • In the full-blown sell-off of all Russian state assets that made multi-millionaires of some but impoverished most of the others, ordinary tenants in Moscow were offered the chance to own the homes they lived in. The sale price - nothing! But there’s a downside. Yelena Shomina from the State University Higher School of Economics in Moscow reveals it.
  • Forget the ‘bricks and mortar’ approach. Improving local economy and society is central to improving public housing. Hermann Strab from the Gras Group for Architecture and Town Planning in Germany and Dr José Fernando Martierena Hernández from the Ecomaterials in Social Housing project in Cuba outline their two World Habitat award-winning projects showcasing this community approach.

The invigorating music that’s threading its way through today’s program comes from those sons of son music, the Cuban band Sierra Maestra, from their Soul of a Nation CD.

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The Next Western Front

There’s a lot of spotlights shining on the privatization of armed forces in Iraq, but little attention being given to the fact that this is just the tip of a very large iceberg. All over the world, governments are contracting-out war and peace work to private companies. Military forces are now being called ‘security forces’. What used to be done by publicly controlled armies is now being done by private companies. It’s a lucrative market, worth hundreds of billions (the Pentagon alone pays private security providers around $270 billion each year).

And why not? Water and energy are being privatized. All of our public services are up for grabs. Isn’t our army just another public service? Well, not really. Up until recently, it’s been thought that when it comes to the legitimate use of violence, then our governments and the bureaucracies that they control should have a monopoly. Because when it comes to the privatization of security, what we’re talking about is contracting out the use of force - contracting out the right to kill.

Today we’re examining the results of this contracting. Starting with a case study from the Pacific, Nic Maclellan - who has recently written a report on the high number of Fijians who are now working for private security companies overseas - joins Radio New Internationalist’s Chris Richards as we investigate this global phenomenon and how it is affecting our international landscape.

  • Caroline Holmqvist - previously a researcher for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - gives us an overview of the private security companies that are now operating in around 100 countries worldwide, and how to regulate them.
  • Around 70 per cent of the income needed by the Indonesian military to operate comes from providing security to private companies. Damien Kingsbury - author of Power, Politics and the Indonesian Military - reveals how this practice has become deeply entrenched across Asia.
  • One of the leaders of the most famous mercenary operation in the Pacific, which failed, was Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer. He’s prominent again in Iraq. Pratap Chatterjee - managing editor of CorpWatch - gives us a colourful portrait of Tim Spicer and some of the Wild West people he’s recruited along the way.

Lightening the dark of war, today’s CD is Lumiere, performed by Bob Brozman - an amazing album, combining musical influences of a range of Asian and the Pacific countries. Bob and his colleague Rene Lacaille are also the mastermind musicians of our theme song, Dig Dig.

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Human Rights Olympics

The starters’ gun has gone off. We’re all in the running. Many say it’s the most important race of all - the human race. In a year when international media is focusing on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, New Internationalist celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights with a medal count of its own. And what better way to judge the runners than through their pursuit of human rights. This program highlights some of the big winners… and big losers.

  • New Internationalist magazine co-editor David Ransom picks up his binoculars to survey the track record of international human rights so far.
  • Jenni Williams from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) introduces us to her remarkable organization which - in spite of arrests and assaults - stands up to challenge corruption and incompetence riddling her country’s Government.
  • Maria Yulikova - formerly the Moscow correspondent of the Committee to Protect Journalists - follows the trail of 14 journalists who’ve been killed since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s President.
  • China expert Sam Geall reviews China’s form in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.

In a kaleidoscope of sound, gypsy traditions meet modern-day techno in today’s feature CD - Urban Gypsy - performed by the Shukar Collective.

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Musical unions

In just minutes, one song can deliver a powerful message that would take a book-load of words to explain. Unquestionably, some songs move our hearts and sympathies in a way that straight facts could never achieve. But while we have experienced how sound can enrich our lives, it can also move those who create it through a healing journey to a better place. This program’s co-host - Brian Procopis from Sweet Freedom, an Australian social justice program that works through sound and song - brings music to our ears from asylum seekers who sing about their life journeys, as today’s guests talk of the realities facing refugees from the Middle East and Asia:

  • Thousands of Timorese have fled from internal violence and are yet to return to their homes and families. Timor Lèste’s First Lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmão - who fought for that country’s independence and is now wife to the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão - gives us a glimpse of the political challenges facing leaders of a new nation as she talks about one of the country’s hottest political issues.
  • From and to where are today’s refugees fleeing? Cécile Pouilly from the UNHCR - the United Nations Refugee Agency - takes us to the hotspots.
  • Blues musician Dr Steve Dillon - author of ‘Music, Meaning & Transformation’ - shares stories with Brian Procopis about music that’s made people and their communities more resilient; and explains how songs and sound helped transform a failing school into a centre of excellence.

Today we feature three CDs from the emerging record label Sweet Freedom - Scattered People, Normal Days, and Alafiah. Profits from the sales go to those asylum seekers who’ve participated. Find out more at www.sweetfreedom.org

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Fistful of dollars

Compared to the euro, the value of the United States (US) dollar has fallen 76 per cent in the last five years. So why would anyone want to be paid in a currency that’s loosing its grunt. Not Iran. It’s hedging its bets by selling its oil in a basketful of currencies brimming with euros and Chinese yuan. As it prepares to launch an oil exchange (bourse) which will trade in a currency other than US dollars, it’s encouraging the big oil producing countries to do the same - effectively destroying the US dollar’s monopoly in the international oil market. At the same time President George Bush is branding Iran as the world’s worst terrorist nation and travelling to the Middle East to prosecute his case. Mere coincidence? Or punishing payback? It’s one of many questions that this program raises for debate as today’s guests examine the international impact of the falling US dollar: how it heralds ‘the fall of the empire’ and why it will bring about a dramatic decline in United States’ influence over world economies and politics.

  • As the dollar declines, China is left holding an ever-decreasing bag. What will it do with the trillions of US dollars that it now holds in reserve? Renowned Asian intellectual and activist, Walden Bello - executive director of Focus on the Global South - considers China’s options after he describes how the falling dollar is having a disproportionate impact on Asia’s poor.
  • How are the Arab states likely to respond to the falling dollar? Political economist Ardeshir Ommani - a founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee that spearheads the Stop War on Iran campaign - finds some answers at the last Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting and in present-day Iran.
  • And with the start of the year 4,706 in the Chinese calendar, Calvin Ke-ming Yen - the Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Melbourne, Australia - drops in to wish us Happy New Year and stays on to explain the significance of both the dragon in the New Year festivities and the election of Taiwan’s new Government.

This week’s feature CD is Sahara performed by Javier Ruibal. He’s a highly regarded singer-songwriter from Cadiz in Spain, blending passionate flamenco with more relaxed North African sounds.

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Power to the people

We are the millions of women and men, organisations, networks,movements, trade unions from all parts of the world. We come from ruralzones and urban centres. We are of all ages, cultures and beliefs, butare united by the strong conviction that another world is possible.With our diversity - which is our strength - we invite all men andwomen to undertake throughout this week creative actions, activities,events and convergences focusing on the issues and expressing them inthe ways they choose.’ This was the call to action made by theorganizers of the World Social Forum (WSF). The first year, 20,000responded to such a call. The next year - 100,000. Now in its eighthyear, an estimated million people took part in a Global Day of Actionon 26 January 2008. Nicola Bullard, from Thai-based Focus on the GlobalSouth, joined Radio New Internationalist’s Chris Richards to whiparound the world so that we can hear what people were doing and sayingout there on the streets.

  • On the beach at Rio de Janeiro, Moema Miranda from the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE) remembers back to the conversations around the table at which the WSF was born.
  • Outside a seminar room in Lahore, Mahar Safdar Ali - the General Secretary of Anjuman Asiaye Awam - explains the connections between nuclear weapons and visas.
  • Fresh from a rally in Seoul, young organizer Mikyung Ryu explains the Korean issues that are motivating her people to act.

Befitting the diverse energy of the WSF Global Day of Action, Africanand Colombian beats collide in today’s CD - Voodoo Love InnaChampeta-land performed by Colombiafrica: guaranteed to get all ages upfrom their seats and dancing in the streets.

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