New Internationalist

Radio New Internationalist

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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Big Issues - Conflict and Climate Change

the second in a two-part special… listen to part one here

They say that media have short memories. So in this - the second of two special programs - Radio New Internationalist looks back over some of the big issues of 2007 that are set to get bigger in the next few years. This week: the two issues that have been dominating, and in our view will continue to dominate, the international social justice agenda - conflict and climate change.

  • A staggering 28 nations have no armies. Peace pioneer Professor Johan Galtung and Ahmed Abdisalam Adan from HornAfrik Media in Somalia talk about what it takes for a country to ditch their armed forces.
  • With the amount of global conflict at the moment, you’d reckon that peace would be the most popular debate in the world. Why isn’t it? One reason is that there’s more money in war than in peace. Damien Kingsbury explains why around 70 per cent of the income needed by the Indonesian military to operate must come from profit-making companies, not government.
  • Carteret Islanders Ursula Rakova and Bernard Tunim remind us what environmental refugees are facing as their Pacific islands are becoming submerged.
  • Prominent progressive author and thinker Susan George drops in to our airwaves to outline a possible solution to climate change that we hadn’t heard about before.

Big issues deserve big musical sounds - and today’s are from a broad range of countries and performers selected from the World Music Network’s Riverboat Records series.

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Big Issues - the hands on the rudder

The first in a two-part special…

They say that media have short memories. So in the next two programs, Radio New Internationalist looks back over some of the big issues of 2007 that are set to get bigger in the next few years. This week: a selection of trends that are steering the world towards new horizons:

  • World superpowers rise and fall. As the US enters its 11th hour as a world superpower, China, India and Europe are stepping in to scoop up economic, military and political allegiances. To cement its strength in foreign policy, the Chinese Government is substituting development aid for diplomacy. Nicola Bullard, a senior associate with Focus on the Global South, and Daniel Bibiero from the Mozambique NGO Justiça Ambiental investigate the results.
  • Nature is being broken away by scientists and corporations. Governments say that nanotechnology is getting in the driver’s seat to steer the next industrial revolution - fundamentally transforming every aspect of our lives. Business leaders predict that nano-industry may be worth one trillion US dollars in the next five years. Georgia Miller from Friends of the Earth Australia reveals the what, where and how nano works - from odour-eating socks to frightening new weapons for armies.
  • Capitalism and its inequities intensify. Intellectual property is overtaking labour as a means of production, and the Majority World is striking back. Jon Ungphakorn, a former Thai Senator, and now a prominent social activist on public health and HIV/AIDs, explains why the Thai government is putting its people before profitable patents, and Abbott pharmaceutical company’s vicious response.
  • Truth is becoming hard to find as an army of professionals are being hired to steer society away from the facts. John Stauber, from the Center for Media and Democracy, whose organization publishes PR Watch in the United States, talks about the experts and scientists who are prepared to mortgage their professional souls to companies… and sell short the public interest in the process.

Big issues deserve big musical sounds - and today’s are from a broad range of countries and performers selected from the World Music Network’s Riverboat Records series.

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Raise those voices high

While countries that proudly claim to be ‘democracies’ are supposed to bask in the beauty of different voices and ideas, the reality seems quite different. All too often, its small pockets of people pushing limited agendas that get access to reporters, policy makers and politicians. In fact, the only time that the voices of most people are clearly heard by those in power is through the ballot box - and even then in some countries they’re robbed of that chance.

Yet when people are given the opportunities to speak out, their stories can be so strong that they can challenge our prejudices and demand that we leave the comfort of our lounge rooms and cars to see the world in a different way. This - the first program for the New Year - is the 50th we’ve produced. What better way to mark this anniversary than by revisiting some of the real stars of Radio New Internationalist: our guests.

  • From South Africa, as Kameelah Rasheed explains why, for her, wearing the hijab can be so liberating, she shakes up some stereotypes about how it oppresses Muslim women;
  • From Canada, Abdullah Almalki - who was tortured in Syria for 482 days - sets out his Government’s complicity in appalling human rights abuses;
  • From Afghanistan, Sohaila talks in detail about her daily life, and how - if the military interventions into her country were ever really about liberating Afghan people - then they have completely failed.
  • From Malawi and Zambia, Walter Otis Tapfumaneyi, from Panos Southern Africa, describes Radio Listening Clubs - a remarkably democratic initiative through which discussions amongst rural Africans are recorded, then played on national radio programs to relevant parliamentarians or policy makers for their response.

Like our guests, the music that weaves its way through today’s program comes from a range of different countries and influences - all from the World Music Network’s Riverboat Records series.

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Winner of a program

Radio New Internationalist has just won the 2007 Excellence in Spoken Word Programming award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. Here’s the program that won it… Taxing Matters.

Africans are poor. Everyone knows that. But they needn’t be. On current estimates, for every dollar of aid that flows into Africa, five dollars of financial assets flow out into private bank accounts in the Rich World. Money that’s never taxed. Africa has the fastest growth of millionaires in the world, but the burden for building much needed infrastructure keeps on getting pushed back to those who can least afford to pay. For African economies - and the many other countries like it in the Poor World that are straining under the burden of debt - tax revenue means self-reliance, economic freedom, and money to improve education and health.

So why are developing countries relying on aid, rather than taxing those who profit most from their countries? In what is emerging as a major social justice issue for this decade, Radio New Internationalist’s Chris Richards is joined by a range of guests who challenge the accountants and politicians of the world to ‘Go figure!’

  • John Christensen - a Director and founder of the international NGO, Tax Justice Network - spent 11 years as the economic adviser to that infamous tax habourer, the island of Jersey. As co-host, he shows us how countries’ coffers are being plundered to leave populations in poverty, and reveals how vibrant - and important - tax issues can be.
  • Investigative journalist and author, Nicholas Shaxson reveals how President Omar Bongo of Gabon maintained a giant offshore slush fund, fed by African oil and hooked up to tax havens.
  • Greg Muttitt from London NGO PLATFORM lifts the lid on how the International Tax and Investment Center - a registered charity - manipulates governments for six of the world’s biggest oil companies.

With money zipping across borders throughout this program, what more appropriate music could we find to bounce its beats off the spoken words than Rumba without borders (Rumba Sin Fronteras) performed by Cuban percussionist Pancho Quinto.

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Feast and famine

With the Christmas parties and New Year feasting that’s featuring in many millions of homes this week, the Radio New Internationalist team wants to get it’s teeth into some of the interviews that we’ve done during 2007 about the food we’re finding on our dinner tables:

  • Angus Calder - a company director in search of more efficient agriculture - takes us through the problems that threaten our food supplies. As rising populations face falling levels of both water and agriculture land, he explains the conflicting choices that are about to be served to us.
  • New Internationalist co-editor Troth Wells dishes up some tantalizing chocolate tastes to try on our New Year’s guests.
  • On chocolate’s darker side, Bama Athreya from the International Labor Rights Forum outlines a plan for wiping out slavery and forced labour in the supply of cocoa by paying producers properly, and why manufactuers’ aren’t responding.
  • While Coca Cola has been marketed as the holiday drink, Amit Srivastava from the India Resource Center explains how it’s no holiday for Indians, where cola plants have been stealing water and polluting land causing community outrage strong enough to close Coke plants in India and start the ball rolling on the laying of criminal charges;
  • Cooking up some solutions to impending food supply problems, permaculturalist Pam Morgan explains how it could be as simple as looking at our living spaces and maximizing their potential for growing food - as Cuba has done to avoid starvation.

Accompanying the food for thought that’s been on today’s program is a smorgasbord of sweet and saucy strains from the World Music Network’s Riverboat records.

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In Search of Santa

Ho, ho, ho! The Radio New Internationalist team had a good laugh when we found out where Santa - or St Nicholas - really came from. It’s another indication that, when it comes to Christmas, history gets swept aside and traditions take over. Dick Gross, author of Godless Gospel: A modern guide to meaning and morality, jumps on the sleigh with Chris Richards as we search for Santa and the meaning of Christmas.

  • In Turkey, Danielle North points us in the direction of where St Nicholas lived and worked.
  • From the United States, author Mark Pendergrast explains the transition from scrawny St Nicholas to jolly Santa.
  • From Israel, peace campaigner Uri Avnery paints a picture of what Christmas is like in a divided Jerusalem, and his blueprint for uniting the city.
  • From England, Tori Ray from Friends of the Earth unwraps some tips about how a white Christmas can be made greener.

Today’s program features music from one of a regularly featured artist and the author of the our theme music, Bob Brozman. As this program’s theme is a light one, the music on the show reflects that - literally! Its "Lumiere" performed by the Bob Brozman Orchestra and available on the World Music Network’s wonderful collection of inspiring music from all corners of the globe.

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Big Campaigns - An Alternative View of 2007

A continual media diet of corruption and conflict can make people scared, cynical, withdrawn, and depressed - feeling that: ‘It’s all hopeless. I give up!’ But serve us something inspirational, and hope and energy come to the table. Throughout this year, the Radio New Internationalist team has been ourselves inspired by the power and passion of progressive voices from every corner of the globe: brave people who have seen the worst in the world, and have stood up and offered other answers. They have linked up with others, reaching across countries to built ever-strengthening international movements. They have delivered messages that are so powerful and clear that the politicians have to listen. Their energy is inspirational; their achievements sparkle. Today’s program is dedicated to them. Time constraints mean that you’ll hear only some of them:

  • On current estimates, for every dollar of aid that flows into Africa, five dollars of financial assets flow out into private bank accounts in the Rich World. Money that’s never taxed. In what is emerging as a major social justice issue for this decade, John Christensen - a Director and founder of the Tax Justice Network - tells us how countries’ coffers are being plundered to leave populations in poverty, and in the process proves how vibrant - and important - tax issues can be.
  • John Rodsted is the official photographer to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - the team that won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. John is still campaigning against the cruel and life-destroying legacy of war - the anti-personnel bombs left behind. And his pictures of this legacy, such as the bodies blown-up when bombs just lying on the ground eventually explode, are helping to bring about a total world ban on landmines and more recently cluster bombs.
  • Sitting on the fence of an air base in Manta, Ecuador… is a warning sign: ‘Military Base. No Trespassing.’ It might as well read: ‘Ecuadorians, Keep out’! Since 1999, this air base has been occupied by the United States - a ‘forward, operating location’ of the US military: just one of around 740 that are currently scattered in over 100 countries around the world. But not for much longer. Herbert Docena is from the Philippines office of the international organization Focus on the Global South was part of the mass movement that persuaded the Government of Ecuador not to renew its lease on this air base. He explains the growing global movement to close down military bases and the culture of conflict that goes with them.
  • Farida Shaheed is a Director of Shirkat Gah - a resource centre for the empowerment of women based in Pakistan. She’s also on the campaign advisory board of the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign. She outlines why authorities and people condone the throwing of stones at people until they die, and the politics and places where it is happening.

All kinds of music laces it’s way through today’s program, lent to us from the playlists of the Riverboat Records series in the World Music Network’s wonderful collection of inspiring music from all corners of the globe.

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Kiss My Bottom Line

Throughout the last decade, companies have told us that they want to be lean as well as green. The mad, bad days when corporations were only on about money and shareholders is over, they say. An aggressive corporate culture must be combined with community spirit; profit must not dominate the public interest. About time! But is it really happening?

To set the scene, New Internationalist co-editor Jess Worth went to a $5,500-per-ticket corporate conference on corporate social responsibility. She walks us through the talk of the high-flyers of the corporate world who she met there.

  • Mark Hays - from Corporate Accountability International in Boston - drops into our airwaves with an overview of what’s happening in the tobacco and water industries. He tells us how the industry players are shaping government policies in ways that are dangerous to the public interest.
  • From England, John Hilary - the director of campaigns and policy with War on Want - and from Hong Kong, Apo Leong - who works with the Asia Monitor Resource Center - compare campaigning notes about what works, and what doesn’t, in holding corporate vandals and bullies accountable.

Africa meets Europe in the music that we’ve lined up throughout today’s program as Saba who was born to an Ethiopian mother and an Italian father sings her way through the divide between the two continents in her debut Jidka (meaning ‘The Line’).

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Dreaming of a Fair Trade Christmas

This week, as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, we examine some of the impacts our consumption patterns have on people and planet. We take a look at some of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and what gadgets we use and ask whether ‘ethical shopping’ is a way out of the quagmire. Today’s co-host is New Internationalist co-editor Jess Worth who’s done some research into the ethical shopping sector and has found that all is not as simple as it seems at first glance. We also hear from a number of guests from all over the world:

  • Albert Tucker, Fair Trade consultant from Sierra Leonne and Barbara Crowther from the UK’s Fair Trade Foundation, discuss the pros and cons of big business involvement in the Fair Trade sector.
  • NI co-editor David Ransom speaks with Greenpeace’s Sarah Holden about the fishy business of pirate fishing and its impacts on our oceans and the workers who get caught in the nets of the global seafood industry.
  • The vast majority of electronic goods end up as waste in Asia - mostly China - where they may have been manufactured in the first place. Greenpeace China’s toxics campaigner, Jamie Choi, describes the impacts this enormous e-waste burden is having on human health and the environment in China.
  • Australian author/activist Sharon Beder diagnoses the CSD (Compulsive Selling Disorder) epidemic afflicting the politicians and governments around the world, as read by Radio New Internationalist producer Rachel Maher.

Today’s music comes from two CD’s from the World Music Network - Riverboat Records series. Granada-born vocalist and lyricist Benjamín Escoriza’s Carambola delves into Spain’s Moorish roots blending Flamenco and North African traditions. Meanwhile, take two volcanic island nations of Hawaii and Reunion and what do you have? The explosive combination of master accordionist and guitarist Rene Lacaille with the eclectic genre-defying talent of Bob Brozman erupting hot musical magma in the form of their album Digdig.

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Depleted Uranium

Just one microscopic particle of depleted uranium lodged in the lungs can start a reaction in a single cell that could lead to fatal cancer. It’s unfortunate, then, that the world has an estimated one million tonnes of this dangerous waste - and a very limited means to get rid of it. In this program we’ll hear how, why and where it’s being dumped… and the injuries and deaths that are being caused as a result.

Storing depleted uranium (DU) is not a viable long-term option: it takes 4.5 billion years for just half of it to turn into lead, and keeps eating through the containers in which it is stored. So countries are giving it away - to weapons manufacturers, who turn it into weaponry that they sell back to governments. It’s very effective in weapons: piercing tanks and armor like a hot knife through butter. However, its long-term impacts are cruel and inhuman. With a range of international guests, New Internationalist co-editor Dinyar Godrej joins Chris Richards to report on how DU waste now contaminates a string of ‘enemy’ countries. As a result, thousands of civilians are - and will continue to be - reporting cancer and abnormalities at rates never before experienced well after their war is over:

  • Having sent troops into places marked on maps as being contaminated with depleted uranium, the US army told their troops in Iraq that depleted uranium was so safe that it could be sprinkled on breakfast cereal. Now Retired Staff Sergeant Herbert Reed is living with the legacy - including nerve damage, respiratory problems, pain, paralysis, and internal bleeding.
  • When John LaForge from Nukewatch went knocking at the door of the number-one producer of depleted uranium weapons in the United States, he and three other non-violent protestors were arrested for trespassing. In his defence, he asked a jury to find that the munitions manufacturer was the real criminal, not those who protested against it. The jury did.
  • The movement against DU is growing. In March this year, the Belgian Parliament voted to ban depleted uranium ammunition. Then there’s the ultimate campaign result - peace glorious peace. Dekha Abdi is a peace-builder - forging viable ways to resolve conflict without violence. She’s one of the recipients this year of a Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) for outstanding vision and work on behalf of the planet and its people. She shares some of her rich experiences with us.

Reflecting our hope for the future, today’s CD is called Ceasefire. Inspired by peace-talks in Sudan between the Muslim North and the predominantly Christian South, Emmanuel Jal, a Christian rapper from the South, gets together with Abdel Gadir Salim, a Muslim musician from the North to show what colourful, dynamic sounds are produced when two different cultures work side-by-side.

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