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How A Sense of Sacred Can Help A Sustainable Environment - Restoring Values

How A Sense of Sacred Can Help A Sustainable Environment - Restoring Values | Asia | Scoop.it

 

Guardian Sustainable Business, January 08, 2013

 -▶ HOW A SENSE OF SACRED CAN HELP SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS - RESTORING VALUES. Sustainability leaders could learn from Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, who believes in a deeper human connection with Mother Earth...

 "If nothing is sacred, most of all nature, then we create the potential for the perfect kind of storm, to which it will be virtually impossible to adapt, let alone mitigate." He hits the nail on the head; we are not going to save ourselves and countless species from destruction with innovations in technology and business thinking alone, unless we heal our profound disconnection with Mother Earth. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/sense-sacred-sustainable-business-buddhist

 

George Monbiot, December 0, 2014
 -▶CIVILIZATION IS BORING:  WE AE PRE-TUNED TO THE NATURAL WORLD; WIRED TO RESPOND TO NATURE http://www.monbiot.com/2014/12/09/civilisation-is-boring/

 

IC Magazine, December 09, 2014
 -▶ ARIZONA DEFENDERS FACE IMMINENT LAND GRAB OF SACRED LANDS BY FOREIGN MINING COMPANIES. Congress is set to approve the giveaway of 2,400 acres of National Forest lands, including the burial, ceremonial and medicinal lands of the San Carlos Apaches, to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of British-Australian Rio Tinto Mining Corp., a company with a long history of environmental and human rights abuses in developing countries.  https://intercontinentalcry.org/arizona-defenders-face-imminent-land-grab-26496/

 

 

                                               VIDEO REPORT
                             PBS Newshour, November 28, 2014
CAN A RETURN TO BUDDHIST VALUE OFFER CHINA A GREENER PATH? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/can-buddhist-values-offer-non-religious-china-a-greener-path/

 

Daily Mail Online, November 21, 2014
 -▶ POPE FRANCIS WARNS GREED OF MAN WILL 'DESTROY' THE WORLD http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2843715/Francis-warns-greed-man-destroy-world-Pope-says-earth-not-forgive-abuse-resources-profit-urges-world-leaders-help-hungry.html

 

 David Korten — YES! Magazine

-▶ RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND SPIRIT: SACRED STORY FOR OUR TIME  http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/religion-science-and-spirit-a-sacred-story-for-our-time

 

 

The Economist, November 18, 2013
-▶ BEWARE THE AGE OF LONELINESS: MAN MUST DO MORE TO PRESERVE THE REST OF LIFE ON EARTH - EDWARD O. WILSON
http://www.economist.com/news/21589083-man-must-do-more-preserve-rest-life-earth-warns-edward-o-wilson-professor-emeritus

 

HuffPost Green, February 17, 2014

-▶ E.O.WILSON: PRESERVING BIODIVERSITY IS AN ETHICAL IMPERATIVE http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-chameides/eo-wilson-preserving-biod_b_4803125.html

 

                                              NATURE SACRED

                                       http://naturesacred.org/

Individual and community wellness are more directly linked to nature than most people realize.


Yale Global Online

 -▶ BANKRUPTING NATURE: DENYING OUR PLANETARY BOUNDARIES  http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/bankrupting-nature-denying-our-planetary-boundaries


-▶ 2012 IN RETROSPECT: AN OPEN LETTER TO HUMANITY, FROM MOTHER EARTH  http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/638-2012-in-retrospect-an-open-letter-to-humanity-from-mother-earth

 

Jan 9, 2013

 -▶WHY THE ECONOMY NEEDS NATURE  http://www.scoop.it/t/environmental-and-human-health/p/3994804262/why-the-economy-needs-nature

 

 

 

 

-▶ ESSAY: ECOLOGY IS THE MEANING OF LIFE: EMBRACING A SENSE OF "ENOUGHNESS" http://sco.lt/6m0XJZ

 

 

-▶ A CULTURE SEPARATED FROM NATURE CANNOT SURVIVE - BANKRUPTING NATURE http://sco.lt/56EkEb

 

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security."~ Albert Einstein

 

 

 -▶ ONLY LOVE FOR MOTHER EARTH CAN SAVE US FROM CLIMATE CHANGE - ZEN MASTER THICH NHAT HANH AND POPE FRANCIS SPEAK OUT  http://sco.lt/57JX0L

 

 

 Guardian Sustainable Business, January 11, 2013

-▶ PUTTING THE MORAL CASE FOR SUSTAINABILITY MAYBE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ECONOMICS - Engaging the Public http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/campaigns-moral-sustainability-effective-economic

 

 -▶ BUSINESSES ARE NOT JUST AGENTS OF CONSUMERISM BUT ALSO OF SOCIETY http://www.scoop.it/t/environmental-and-human-health/p/3995143933/businesses-are-not-just-agents-of-consumerism-but-also-of-society

 

March 23, 3012 - 

The Ecologist

-▶ THICH NHAT HANH: MAYBE IN 100 YEAR THERE WILL BE NO MORE HUMANS ON THE PLANET http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1291786/thich_nhat_hanh_in_100_years_there_may_be_no_more_humans_on_planet_earth.html

 

 

 -▶ SHOULD COMPANIES COMPENSATE SOCIETY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION FROM WHICH THEY PROFIT? http://sco.lt/5I5UeX

 

 -▶ KEEPING NATURE IN OUR FUTURE: HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS ESSENTIAL FOR ECONOMIC AND PLANETARY SURVIVAL  http://sco.lt/5863W5

 

 -▶ HUMAN ARE TURNING THE EARTH INTO A 'LONELY AND VERY DANGEROUS PLANET', ECOLOGIST WARNS http://sco.lt/4xff17

 

 

 -▶ FINANCIALIZING NATURE COULD BANKRUPT US ALL.  OLD ECONOMICS OR SUSTAINING POLICY?  http://sco.lt/8fNIET

 

                                            ENOUGHNESS

           WESTERN THOUGHT vs INDIGENOUS PHILOSOPHY

                                        http://sco.lt/4kcNH7

 

 

                                   ECOLOGICAL ARMAGEDDON

                                          EXTINCTION CRISIS

IN 40 YEARS WE HAVE DISAPPEARED HALF OF THE WORLD'S WILD ANIMALS  http://sco.lt/8fK5eT

 

 

>> AN URGENT MEMO TO THE WORLD - The Natural Eye Project - http://thenaturaleye.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/an-urgent-memo-to-the-world/

 

                                                   WATCH

                                                   "HOME"

                                       Yann Arthus-Bertrand

                An Exquisite Dedication To the Stewards of Our Planet

                             Solutions For A Sustainable Planet

http://thenaturaleye.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/home-an-exquisite-story-of-our-world/

 

 

 

 

 

 


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pdjmoo's curator insight, November 24, 2014 1:07 AM

  FOLLOW MY NEWS AGGREGATES

 

▶  BIODIVERSITY IS LIFE http://www.scoop.it/t/biodiversity-is-life

▶  OUR OCEANS NEED US http://www.scoop.it/t/our-oceans-need-us

▶ CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY http://www.scoop.it/t/environmental-and-human-health

▶  CLIMATE CHANGE WILL IMPACT US ALL http://www.scoop.it/t/changingplanet

▶   OUR FOOD, OUR HEALTH http://www.scoop.it/t/agriculture-gmos-pesticides

pdjmoo's curator insight, December 14, 2014 4:21 PM

 YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY NEWS AGGREGATES @pdjmoo

 

▶  CLIMATE CHANGE WILL IMPACT US ALL http://www.scoop.it/t/changingplanet

▶  BIODIVERSITY IS LIFE http://www.scoop.it/t/biodiversity-is-life

▶ CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY http://www.scoop.it/t/environmental-and-human-health

▶  OUR OCEANS NEED US http://www.scoop.it/t/our-oceans-need-us

▶   OUR FOOD, OUR HEALTH http://www.scoop.it/t/agriculture-gmos-pesticides

Véronique Calvet's curator insight, May 2, 2015 7:38 AM

"Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that a greater intellectual knowledge of the impact of our destructive behaviour, or of nature's wonders, will not create the change that is necessary and that only a deeper connection to our hearts and a personal insight into the inter-being of everything in the universe, can offer hope to humanity."

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Use The 'Diplomatic Follow' On Social Media - Lifehacker Australia

Use The 'Diplomatic Follow' On Social Media - Lifehacker Australia | Asia | Scoop.it
Use The 'Diplomatic Follow' On Social Media
Lifehacker Australia
We all use social media in different ways. There are those who only use Twitter for news feeds, or to follow comedians.

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Predict what will happen to twitter and this new idea of the "Diplomatic Follow"

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Campaign underway to preserve Indigenous languages

Campaign underway to preserve Indigenous languages | Asia | Scoop.it
Globalisation has put Indigenous languages in a precarious position..

 

Studies indicate that by the end of the 21st century, 90 per cent of the world's 7000 languages could be lost.

 

But academics and educators across the Pacific, where a third of the world's living languages are from, are trying to halt the trend.

 

Will Mumford reports.

 

Actor Richard Green says he wants bring his native tongue Dharug, or Eyora, back to life.

 

Mr Green, who speaks eight Aboriginal languages, has joined academics, educators and linguists in calling for more effort to be put toward preserving the vast and diverse range of Indigenous languages in the Pacific.

 

The Pacific region is home to more than 2000 languages, however many are critically endangered and face the prospect of dying out in the coming decades.

 

A symposium at Sydney University has brought together experts in the field to discuss the status of indigenous languages in the French Pacific and Australia, and how we might better protect their future.

 

Professor Jaky Troy is the director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the university and says when a language ceases to exist, it also has a broader cultural effect.

 

"It means that there is a lesser world. So when a language disappears in many ways the people associated with that language disappear, part of them disappears. All their knowledge, everything they know about themselves in their language goes with the language."

 

There are around 250 languages spoken by Australia's Indigenous communities, however many experts say there is a lack of engagement with and recognition of these languages.

 

Professor Troy says there needs to be a greater focus on language education in policy and the curriculum, as well as the arts and new media.

 

According to Professor Troy, Australia is behind other parts of the world when it comes to recognising and actively supporting the existence of native tongues.

 

"None of our Indigenous languages are national languages. We should have our languages alongside English, wouldn't it be wonderful if Australia was the country in the world with 251 national languages - English, plus the other 250. It's a sad thing that a lot of the countries where the English invaded English becomes the dominant language and is the only national language. But for other countries in the world, in spite of European invasion, the languages are recognised - so the French recognise the languages across French Polynesia, they are national languages as well in their constitutions."

 

Actor Richard Green says better public knowledge of local languages would help us explain the world around us and its history.

 

"The whole city is covered in this very language we're speaking about, when we're concerning ourselves with the Sydney language - the Dharug, Eyora - in that it's written on all the street signs, it's written in all the suburbs... I mean Bondi does not mean waves crashing on rocks, it's a five letter word that's mispronounced. It's Boondee and it means beach - so when are we going to be allowed to deal with our own language, instead of everyone else deciding what my Grandmother's tongue was. "

 

Aboriginal actor and television presenter Ernie Dingo spoke at a public forum held as part of the symposium.

 

He says native languages represent a self-contained form of history.

 

And through the quirks and idiosyncracies of languages, Dingo says we can understand something about the culture and geography of the people who speak them.

 

"Language is very important for people's identity. Before we had too much influences...you can tell where people come from by the sounds of the language because it reflects their environment."

 

Professor Troy says the preservation of languages has been proven to result in positive health outcomes and gives people a sense of cultural awareness and identity.

 

"There are studies now that demonstrate that where people speak their languages their health is better. Chronic disease is reduced, youth suicide is dramatically reduced. If you, as an Aboriginal person know that you and your language are recognised nationally, you're one of the people of the country. You're no longer somebody who sits sideways while English and imported culture dominates. "

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Leading economist attacks austerity, praising Greens and SNP

Leading economist attacks austerity, praising Greens and SNP | Asia | Scoop.it
Australian Professor Steve Keen, one of the worlds leading economics experts, Revere Prize winning economist and author of seminal economic text Debunking Economics, said in an interview with www.everyinvestor.co.uk that the mainstream political parties approach to austerity and deficit management was naive. He described the austerity-heavy Conservative and Lib Dem approach and the austerity-lite version from Labour as naive and based on a Kindergarten level of understanding of economics. Professor Keen, credited with being one of the very few economists to predict the recent financial meltdown, also claimed that failing to invest in growth wouldn’t generate a sustainable recovery due to the problem of high levels of private debt – public debt being more a symptom than a cause of economic problems.
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Economic: What do you think will happen to Professor Keen? Why?

 

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'#Honduras South America - 'Search for 'White City' aka 'City of the Monkey God' uncovers lost civilization'

'#Honduras South America - 'Search for 'White City' aka 'City of the Monkey God' uncovers lost civilization' | Asia | Scoop.it
Heard of the long-lost "White City" or "City of the Monkey God"?

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Do you or do you not believe that a "lost city"is being discovered? What leads you to believe or not believe this source? 

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#BBBundyBlog #NOMORELIES Tom Woods #Activist Award #Scoopiteer >20,000 Sources >250K Connections http://goo.gl/ruHO3Q's curator insight, March 4, 2015 12:50 PM

'#Honduras South America - 'Search for 'White City' aka 'City of the Monkey God' uncovers lost civilization'

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MakerBot to Distribute Product Line in South America

MakerBot to Distribute Product Line in South America | Asia | Scoop.it
MakerBot is adding Distecna as the company’s first distributor of MakerBot 3D printing and scanning products in Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru. Distecna, with their local presence in South America and expertise in vertical markets like education,...

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Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse

Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse | Asia | Scoop.it

In the shadow of a violent and drug-fuelled past, business confidence is growing in Colombia, a country that has been transformed over the past decade

 

Tags: South America, Colombia, development, economic.


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Paul Farias's curator insight, April 9, 2015 1:03 PM

As we all know when the Spanish came in and barbarically took over people who didn't have the technology to defend themselves. They were searched high and low for the necessities that the king and explorers were looking for. Now after many years Columbia was looked at as a poor country in need, glad to hear thats not the case. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 28, 2015 10:57 AM

It was refreshing to read about Colombia's improving economy and the growth of its middle class, although I am uncertain of how "real" any of this progress really is. Although the article talked up the growth of Colombia's industry and business, raw materials still constitute 72% of its exports as I read in another article, meaning that much remains to be done in terms of investment and diversifying the nation's economy. It was interesting to see how the continent is plagued by many of the same problems- poor infrastructure and government corruption, both the legacy of hundreds of years of colonial domination. It was this combination that allowed for the domination of national politics and the economy by the narcotics trade for much of the late 20th century. For the sake of the Colombian people, I hope that their nation's economy continues to grow, allowing unemployment to fall and the poverty rate to drop. It will be interesting to see how the Chinese recession affects this growth.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, November 16, 2015 1:42 PM

Columbia is well on its way to being a thriving economic powerhouse. They left the past behind with the violent and drugs now transformed by bringing businesses in and integrate western technologies. It shows that any country can rebuild and change itself if it has the potential and remove the on going problems that is bringing the country down.  Progress happens slowly and when it down it will take off toward a new direction.

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Geography Lesson: Just How Big is Africa? | Big Picture Agriculture

Geography Lesson: Just How Big is Africa? | Big Picture Agriculture | Asia | Scoop.it

This map of Africa was created by Kal Krause, who calls it a small contribution in the fight against rampant immappancy, a word meaning insufficient geographical knowledge.

 

For comparison, the U.S. including Alaska, has a land size that is only 32 percent of the size of Africa.

 

Next, let’s look at a map showing renewable water per capita in Africa. As you can see, water security in Africa varies greatly by country, but on average is scarce.

 

Click headline to read more and view maps full screen--


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Jack and Kaden's curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:06 PM

Africa GEOGRAPHY:  Africa is large poor and has many people.  The women here are given few opportunities where as the men get all jobs nd education  The women have started fighting back to gain more rights and with so many people and so many women they are starting to make a difference.  having such a large country there are many job opportunities and now women are getting a chance. 

olyvia Schaefer and Rachel Shaberman's curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:11 PM

Africa Area and geography

We think that this artilcle is good for this topic because it shows how big Africa is. If you compare Alaksa to Africa it is 32 percent the sizze of Africa. This shows how big Arfica really is. Water security in Africa varies by country.

Nathan and Joseph's curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:21 PM

Africa

Geography

This is actually a very interesting article about Africa's geography. It talks about how nobody actually knows how big the continent of Africa actually is. This may lead to the correction of country and state Borders, which could be very controversial. This could lead to a lot of conflict.

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Our Africa: mapping African women's critical resistance

Our Africa: mapping African women's critical resistance | Asia | Scoop.it
Echoing
through analysis on Our
Africa over the past year is a recognition and interrogation of women as
authors and innovators of culture, as agents of history, and as complex
political actors. These rich and sometimes surprising counter- narratives are
good news amidst the kaleidoscope of global challenges, argues Jessica Horn

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Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa—not always rosy, but it is about to be | Lee Mwiti | Mail & Guardian Africa

Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa—not always rosy, but it is about to be | Lee Mwiti | Mail & Guardian Africa | Asia | Scoop.it

 wyIn June 2014, global technology giant Microsoft launched its 4Afrika IP Hub, a portal that would, for free, protect young African developers’ intellectual property (IP) rights in exchange for publishing their inventions.

In tech-savvy Nairobi, one of the launch capitals, the young crowd of geeky and cool developers excitedly welcomed the possibility of being able to finally make money from their work. For years they have tended to operate in the informal economy, largely invisible to investors.

A two-year trial, Microsoft will then hand over a successful project to the Kenyan government, before rolling it out to other African capitals, according to Kunle Awosika, Microsoft’s country manager.

The multi-million dollar investment and its positive reception mirrors the concern that while the continent is home to many brilliant inventions, it has been difficult to invest them to scale, there being little information as to their value, and consequently, tap them for Africa’s growth.

 

Click headline to read more--


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Do you believe all this technology should be invested in in Africa? Why or why not?

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Anna and Avery's curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:07 PM

[INTELLECTUAL ARTS; AFRICA] People on Africa are getting the choice of a lifetime- they will have doors open wide to the intellectual advancenment they have been doing for years. Their research used to cost them huge savings, but with Microsoft! educators in Kenya will now get paid to work on specific projects. This will help them out of the informal economy and help me learn experience. 

andrew desrochers's curator insight, April 9, 2015 2:45 PM

Why do you think that Africa chose these African developers to make new innovations? Would you consider a protection of their rights a fair trade for their new inventions?

Ashland and Kendall's curator insight, April 10, 2015 12:00 PM

Economy-

This article covers the topic of Science, Technology, and Innovation advancements in Africa. Microsoft launched software called 4Africa IP hub, a portal that in exchange for young African developers inventions would protect their IP rights. These developers are very excited for all of their hard work to finally start paying off and potentially get all of the recognition that they deserve.

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EU Asylum Alert: Rethinking Fortress Europe

EU Asylum Alert: Rethinking Fortress Europe | Asia | Scoop.it

Europe's political leaders, confronted by the rise of anti-immigrant populism, are turning their backs on desperately vulnerable people fleeing war, human-rights abuses, and economic collapse.

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Pope Revisits Divorce, Divorced Catholics Hope For Compassion - The Inquisitr

Pope Revisits Divorce, Divorced Catholics Hope For Compassion - The Inquisitr | Asia | Scoop.it
Pope Francis has started a dialog among church leaders, revisiting divorce and other controversial issues in the Roman Catholic Church. While divorce is not the

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5 Bad American Habits I Kicked in Finland

5 Bad American Habits I Kicked in Finland | Asia | Scoop.it
Dave_S./Flickr
“Well, you’re just special. You’re American,” remarked my colleague, smirking from across the coffee table. My other Finnish coworkers, from the school in Helsinki where I teach, nodded in agreement. They had just finished critiquing one of my habits, and they could see that I was on the defensive.

I threw my hands up and snapped, “You’re accusing me of being too friendly? Is that really such a bad thing?”

“Well, when I greet a colleague, I keep track,” she retorted, “so I don’t greet them again during the day!” Another chimed in, “That’s the same for me, too!”

Unbelievable, I thought. According to them, I’m too generous with my hellos.

When I told them I would do my best to greet them just once every day, they told me not to change my ways. They said they understood me. But the thing is, now that I’ve viewed myself from their perspective, I’m not sure I want to remain the same. Change isn’t a bad thing. And since moving to Finland two years ago, I’ve kicked a few bad American habits.

1. I don’t fear awkward silences.

I have yet to meet an American who doesn’t dread the awkward silence. A lull in any conversation is to be avoided at all costs—even if it means talking about the latest viral cat video or celebrity breakup.

Related Story


Finnish Schools Are on the Move—and America's Need to Catch Up
The Finns I’ve met, on the other hand, embrace the awkward silence. They understand that it’s a part of the natural rhythm of human interaction. Sure, Finns know how to have conversations, but they’re not driven by a compulsion to fill time and space with needless chatter.

On a recent school day, as I dug into a lunch of fish sticks and steamed potatoes at the teachers’ table in the cafeteria, I was joined by a Finnish colleague. We exchanged hellos (since, you know, we hadn’t yet greeted each other that day), and then ate our meals in complete silence. We had been teaching all morning, and those fleeting moments of quiet were like a rest for our souls. After 10 minutes, I glanced up at the clock and, seeing that my next lesson was about to begin, broke the calm by saying goodbye. Even though we had just given each other “the silent treatment,” no harm was done. Quite the opposite, actually. I pushed in my chair feeling refreshed.

On the morning commute to my toddler’s daycare, the subway is often so packed that we can’t find a spot to sit. And yet it’s remarkably quiet. On the rare occasions when someone speaks—whether to bid farewell to a friend or make a quick phone call—my son Misaiel asks me, “Why they talkin’, Dada?” He is just two years old, but he already understands the culture of comfortable silence here.

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2. I don’t say things I don’t mean.

Before we moved to Finland, my Finnish wife Johanna and I would visit Helsinki for two to three weeks at a time. I enjoyed these trips, but they were always jam-packed with get-togethers with friends and family. As a result, we could only realistically see a given friend or relative once while visiting Finland.

Even though I understood our time crunch, I couldn’t keep myself from saying “I would love to meet up again” at the end of each visit.

The Americans I know are in the habit of saying things like “Come on over anytime!” or “Keep in touch!” when we know it will be difficult to follow through on such sentiments. But to refrain from using these warm words would almost seem impolite. So, on one visit to Finland, I wielded this strategy—and it backfired, leading to the following exchange with my wife:

“Tim, I just spoke with my mom. Her friend is still waiting to hear back from us. Did you really say that you wanted to meet up again? You know we don’t have the time.”

“I never said I wanted to meet up,” I explained. “I just said ‘I’d love to meet up again.’ It’s like an expression.”

Johanna was not satisfied with that. “Tim,” she said, “you can’t speak like that here. In Finland, people take you at your word.”

Since that day, I’ve endeavored to say only what I mean.

3. I don’t leave food on my plate.

After returning to school from Christmas break this year, I found an official announcement on the whiteboard of my teachers’ lounge. Its message was straightforward: “No bio waste.”  

In January, my school launched an initiative to combat leftover food, dubbed the “Eat What You Take” campaign. The methodology: remove the school’s compost bin. Now, when a student (or teacher) clears his tray and has food on his plate, there’s nowhere to ditch it. In the cafeteria, the only available receptacle for the 450 people in my school is a small container the size of a beach bucket, but it’s not for food. It’s only for dirty napkins.

Under this new policy, students who have food remaining on their plates have two options: take a seat and polish off the leftovers, or take a bold step into the kitchen and issue an apology to one of the lunch ladies.

I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in the United States. But I have heard of American kids wasting a lot of school food. To take one example: In a study of Colorado elementary- and middle-school students conducted in 2010, those observed in elementary school, in the authors’ words, “wasted more than a third of grain, fruit and vegetable menu items.”

As for me, I learned my lesson last year when my sixth-graders caught me throwing away nearly half a plate of food. I had severely miscalculated, taking too much food without having enough time to stomach it all. Walking back to our classroom, I knew I’d need to make a slight change to my lesson plan. I’d start with a public apology.

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4. I don’t take coffee to go.

Americans have a reputation for doing things on the go: breakfast in the car, lunch at a desk while catching up on email and, of course, coffee on the run. “America runs on Dunkin’,” right?

In Finland, my experience is that people are more likely to slow down when they drink coffee. They sit. They sip leisurely. I often catch them staring into space. It’s no surprise then that Finns consume nearly twice as much coffee as Americans.

And now I’ve become one of those coffee-drinking space cadets. But recently, I had an American relapse. I needed to rush out of the apartment, and I didn’t have time to sit down for a cup of coffee.

Frantically, I rummaged through the shelf that held our cups. Eventually, I found one silver to-go mug, but the cover was warped. And when I poured the coffee in, the bottom of the mug started to hiss and form tiny bubbles.

I shouted gruffly to my wife, “Why don’t we have one decent thermos in this house?”

Johanna snapped back, “Because we live in Europe. And Europeans don’t take coffee to go!”

5. I don’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

In the land of 3.3 million saunas, it is inevitable that you will eventually find yourself naked with people you don’t know—and not care in the slightest.

I didn’t realize that I had reached this level of Finnishness until this fall. A close friend from New York was visiting, and I insisted that on his last night in Finland he join me for a trip to one of the city’s public saunas. I was convinced that he would fall in love with this Finnish pastime, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

I explained that Finns go naked into saunas, but there are separate ones for men and women. The activity of taking a sauna is not, in any way, sexual. When we were in the changing room, I smiled and remarked to my friend, “This is where we leave the towels, man.” He was not amused. Clutching his towel around his waist, he growled, “No way.”

Unfazed, I hung up my own towel and strolled into the sauna Finnish-style. I found a spot on the top platform along with another naked man. A few moments later, my American buddy timidly opened the door and located a spot on the lowest bench, still gripping his towel as if his life (or manhood) depended on it.

He lasted about three minutes before declaring “enough” to me and the other naked strangers in the dimly lit room. I couldn’t help but laugh. I stayed seated—in silence, of course.

Via Charles Tiayon
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Don Berg's curator insight, February 11, 2015 1:39 PM

This requires that the students and teachers have the ability to directly select the amount of food they put on their plates. It would be rejected if the servings were managed by someone else. How often do schools give kids even that much self-direction?


I grew up in public schools and in elementary school I ate school lunches pretty often. I do not recall having any say beyond choosing between two choices of entree. I am sure we wasted lots of food. But I also wonder how much we would have even taken in the first place. It was very low quality food. I suspect that the waste would have simply been on the other side of the counter.


The autonomy of both the people being served and the people serving are important. The challenge is to enable them both to learn from their experiences and apply what they learn to meaningful decisions about how the system operates. Ideally, the eaters can learn how to take as much as they will eat and the servers will develop ways to accurately judge how much to make and serve and also how to deal with unserved leftovers. Overly controlling bureaucratic systems certainly prevent the application and distort what is being learned.


My new book discusses the importance of autonomy as a primary human need and proposes a policy to make sure that it is honored properly everywhere in schools, not just the cafeteria. The crowdfunding campaign ends Saturday, February 14th, so check it out right now: http://igg.me/at/parents-dilemma

Mandy & Alexandria's curator insight, February 12, 2015 6:59 PM

Here is an article written by an American man who compares the customs and social interactions of Finnish to Americans people. He moved to Finland two years ago and shares the habits he has had to get rid of that he was accustomed to by growing up in the U.S. For example, he doesn't fear silence anymore like he used to because over there they accept that a silent lull is natural in a conversation and they don't find it extremely awkward like we do. He also has stopped saying things he doesn't mean like "Lets do this again sometime" because people hold you to your word there. I thought this was an interesting comparison between the two social cultures.

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Alberta's Coroner fired for disclosing government interference in medical examiner inquiries

Alberta's Coroner fired for disclosing government interference in medical examiner inquiries | Asia | Scoop.it

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/chief-medical-examiner-anny-sauvageau-s-contract-won-t-be-renewed-1.2801913

 

Chief medical examiner Anny Sauvageau's contract won’t be renewedAnny Sauvageau raised concerns about political interference

By Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell, CBC News Posted: Oct 16, 2014 2:54 PM MT Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014 7:50 PM MT

 

Alberta’s chief medical examiner will not have her contract renewed when it expires at year’s end, CBC News has learned.

Dr. Anny Sauvageau has been engaged in an ongoing dispute with senior Alberta Justice officials over the independence of her office, as revealed by documents obtained by CBC in September.

The internal documents revealed Sauvageau has expressed concerns over political and bureaucratic interference by provincial government representatives into the operation of the chief medical examiner’s office.

Wildrose critic Kerry Towle said the non-renewal of Sauvageau’s contract needs to be reviewed.

“It is a little bit concerning that the Justice minister is not renewing Ms.Sauvageau's contract in light of the allegations that the chief medical examiner made way back in July, made them in writing, asked for an investigation, and feared retribution,” Towle said.

Anny Sauvageau alleges political, bureaucratic interference

“One has to be concerned: Is this because she complained against the government and brought some serious issues to light or is this with cause?” she added.

On Thursday, Dr. Graeme Dowling confirmed he will replace Sauvageau by serving as acting chief medical examiner beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

When CBC in September first revealed Sauvageau’s dispute with Justice officials over alleged political and bureaucratic interference, Alberta Justice communications did not respond to interview requests from CBC.

Dowling, however, gave interviews to other media outlets. In those interviews, he said he had never experienced any pressure or interference from the government during his 28 years in the office.

In a brief interview with CBC on Thursday, Dowling declined to say when it was decided he would replace Sauvageau as acting chief medical examiner.

Sauvageau alleged the interference in her office may affect the public’s trust in the integrity of the death-investigation system, specifically in relation to deaths of children in provincial care, prison inmates and those killed by police officers.

Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle says an independent review of Sauvageau's allegations must be done. (CBC)

“Currently, there is regular political and bureaucratic interference in all aspects of the death investigation system, from the determination of cause and manner of death, to the development and implementation of policy related to death investigation,” Sauvageau states in a July 31, 2014, internal letter to Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis.

“In the current conditions, I cannot protect the integrity of the death investigation system,” Sauvageau adds.

Special treatment requested, documents show

Alberta Justice deputy minister Tim Grant responded to Sauvageau on behalf of Denis and denied any interference.

CBC News, however, also obtained documents which showed deputy ministers Peter Watson and Steve MacDonald asked for special treatment by the chief medical examiner’s office in relation to specific death-investigation cases.

As reported by CBC in September, the internal correspondence between Sauvageau and Grant revealed the dispute had escalated to the point where Sauvageau believed she was at risk of being fired for refusing to back down on the issue of her office’s independence.

Towle renewed the Wildrose call for an independent third-party investigation of Sauvageau’s allegations. She also called on Premier Jim Prentice to immediately review the circumstances surrounding “what appears to be the non-renewal of her contract in light of those allegations.”


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Geography of Australia

Geography of Australia | Asia | Scoop.it
Australia comprises a land area of almost 7.7 million square kilometres (sq km). The bulk of the Australian land mass lies between latitudes 10 degrees 41 minutes (10° 41') south

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NateAndGustavo's curator insight, May 24, 2015 10:55 PM

Why do you think Australia's geography is so unique?

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Australia: Army Reserve Intelligence Officer Charged For Discussing Islam

Australia: Army Reserve Intelligence Officer Charged For Discussing Islam | Asia | Scoop.it

Yet the Australian Defence Force is sending a message that intelligence officers cannot discuss Islam in any way, shape or form, unless they pass judgment that it is a nice, peaceful religion.

 

How the hell are you supposed to have an objective view of Islam if you are not allowed to examine links between Islamic beliefs and terrorist activity?


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Juliet Marshall's curator insight, September 4, 2014 6:37 PM

a debate into whether australia should be involved in a foreign affair

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Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics - Onislam.net

Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics - Onislam.net | Asia | Scoop.it
Onislam.net Australian Muslims: Multiculturalism and Politics Onislam.net As Governor General Quentin Bryce noted at Ed Husic's swearing in ceremony, his appointment was “a wonderful day for multiculturalism and everything it stands for in our...

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Dane Tregeagle's curator insight, September 15, 2013 10:25 PM

The issue raised by this page is one of racial division and misrepresentation in Australian society. The concern at hand in particular being raised here is that many believe Muslims and people of Arabic descent are treated unfarily, and so the position by this article is supportive of community efforts to assist our fellow Muslim Australians. However, I disagree with the view brought forward that Muslims are discriminated against any more than the supposed 'white' Australians in today's society. I feel this is because while discrimination has been present in the past, we have moved as a nation to become a multicultural society, and we would be stupid to think otherwise.

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Global Market Watch: South America Dominates

Global Market Watch: South America Dominates | Asia | Scoop.it

This week, there was no transfer in the low-cost seller crown: The European Union remained the cheapest wheat seller at $5.34 while Argentina retained the crown in corn and soybeans, at $4.12 and $10.15/bu., reports Ag Basse of AgResource. “The U.S. export campaign is winding down. In fact there is not one Chinese vessel berthed for loading at U.S. ports.”

 

South American analyst Pedro Djenka fills in the blanks regarding South America. South American bean harvest should be complete by early July, adding 6 million bushels or 165 MMT to world supplies. Brazil’s second corn crop flourishes  under excellent weather and May is the key pollination period. Most agree the combined first and second corn crop there will be 76-80 MMT.

Soy farmer selling is 55% complete in Brazil and Argentine selling is more aggressive than last year due to stabilizing currency markets and producers higher yields than expected at harvest that added 3-4 MMT to the crop. Argentina should export more than 7-plus MMT in April.

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Can American Muslims Become a Cohesive Political Force in the 2016 Election?

Can American Muslims Become a Cohesive Political Force in the 2016 Election? | Asia | Scoop.it

The Presidential election campaigns in the U.S. have begun. Major candidates like former secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Ted Cruz from Texas have thrown their hats into the fray. Once again we confront the challenge, what role can American Muslims play in American politics?

American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom

The growth of Islam in America, driven by migration and conversions, has created a diverse and multicultural Muslim community. While it is difficult to state with great confidence how many Muslims there are in the United States, most estimates vary between 3-6 million. In democracies anyway it is not just numbers that matters, but the number of people who are politically engaged and willing to participate with their activism and their resources that counts.

Composed of people from all races, and from nearly every country on the planet, American Muslims have rapidly become a microcosm of the global Muslim community. The politics of identity and identity formation that are shaping the American Muslim community cannot be fully understood until the internal diversity within the community itself is fully appreciated.

The two issue areas that have the greatest impact on the development and politics of the American Muslim community are religious development and political goals. The community has been very successful in building Islamic institutions like mosques and Islamic centers, Islamic schools, and Islamic societies for Dawah (religious outreach) and religious development of the community. In these endeavors they have succeeded to a great extent. It is very easy for Muslims from diverse backgrounds to unite and share resources to build a mosque, which is essential for all and can serve everyone equally to fulfill their religious obligations.

Preserving Islamic Identity

Islamic movements like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are well developed and are serving their purpose amicably. Today there are nearly 2,500 Islamic centers and hundreds of Islamic schools that are all toiling to defend against the erosion of Islamic identity, as well as doing Dawah to sustain one of the fastest growing religions in the West.

But in the arena of American politics, American Muslims have yet to make an impact proportionate to their size and potential. In spite of the growth of the Islamic organizations designed for political mobilization and education, Muslims have yet to enjoy the fruits of political victories. All Muslim political organizations are consumed with combating Islamophobia and trying to build relations with local and federal government and their agencies. The impact on policy and politics is limited despite increased engagement by organizations like MPAC and CAIR.

Like its markets, America's political environment has very high entry barriers. These entry barriers are both external and internal in nature.

The external barriers are formidable and well-known. In the post-9/11 America, Islamophobia has gone mainstream and is marginalizing Muslims. There are powerful lobbies in the United States that seek to ensure that American Muslims do not gain a foothold in American politics. They use their existent influence to further undermine Muslim organizations. In the past few elections, Islam and American Muslims have become the favorite whipping boy of the Republican party. With every election comes new accusations and demonization of Islam and Muslims as politicians without integrity try to build their careers on the backs of Muslims.

Besides these well-known external barriers, there are certain characteristics of the American Muslim community itself, which have erected internal barriers to political cohesiveness and effective mobilization. The single most important barrier to political cohesion is the inability of the community to prioritize its political goals and evolve a widely accepted short list of political goals. American Muslims come from many parts of the Muslim world, and with the growth of the community many subgroups have emerged. The two biggest groups represent Muslims from the Arab world and from South Asia.

Each subgroup is attempting to organize itself to pursue parochial rather than the overall goals of the community. The Pakistani-Americans are the best-organized subgroup. They have as many political action committees as all the rest of the American Muslim community. While on purely Islamic issues, such as building mosques or Islamic schools, Pakistanis remain an integral part of the general American Muslim community, on political issues they have charted their own separate territory. One can understand that the political challenges that the Pakistan homeland faces affect Pakistanis more than other Islamic sub-communities. And clearly they have concluded they cannot afford to wait for American Muslims to become sufficiently powerful to deal with all political issues in which its subgroups are interested.

Given the turmoil in the Arab world, devastated by wars and civil wars, it will be difficult to bring all the Arabs and Muslims under one political banner. What are the common political goals of Yemeni and Egyptian Arabs today in the U.S.? How do we unite Pakistanis and Arabs while the leaders of their nations are hurling insults at each other?

If all subgroups pursue their own goals separately, they will not only weaken the American Muslim community as a whole by redirecting meager resources, but they will also prevent the emergence of a cohesive American Muslim community. The challenge facing American Muslims is the classic dilemma of collective action often exemplified by the game of stag-hunt. If they hunt together in a coordinated way they could snag a stag that would satisfy all their hunger. If they run after hares on their own, they may not catch it and even if they do it will barely satisfy the splinter group. If all subgroups cooperate in building strong political institutions of a unified American Islamic community, these institutions will serve as a public good that will serve all their interests.

A Hold on Parochialism

A well-established and well-funded American Muslim community can have a greater influence on issues than can its smaller constituent communities on their own. But in order to create this powerful community, each subgroup must put a hold on its immediate parochial ambitions in the interest of strengthening the American Muslim community.

At present, many subgroups are reaching a critical mass that can enable them to have some rudimentary forms of separate institutions. The temptation to break away from the mainstream on political issues while cooperating on religious issues must be resisted in the interest of the larger community. If American Muslim leaders fail to prevent emerging subgroups from breaking away, they will become a community of communities rather than a single multiethnic and multiracial community.

The task of achieving political unity is difficult since there are many interests, sometimes even competing interests, within the community as a whole. It is going to be very difficult to get all Muslims to agree upon the same political goals. If during the coming presidential elections Muslim groups unite, they can not only combat Islamophobia together but also possibly have an impact on politics. But if they act separately, they will gain less and spend more.

In the long run, cohesive politics is not possible until all Muslims in America have the same identity -- American Muslim. As long as many of them continue to think of themselves as Arab-American, African-American, Pakistani-American and so on, the community will remain divided. However, it is possible for enlightened leaders to at least agree on one unified goal -- to strengthen the American Muslim community. A new organization, U. S. Council of Muslim Organizations, is seeking to achieve this goal. As and when we succeed in this, everything else will slowly fall into place as we wait for the next generation of American Muslims to grow up with a more unified and more homogenous outlook.

Coming to our original question, what role can American Muslims play? First they need to get their act together before they can play ball. Unite and then engage.


Via Warren David
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Why do you believe that the government has such a strong opinion on Muslums serving government positions? Do you believe this qualifies as stereotyping?

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gretchen moore's curator insight, April 28, 2015 8:36 PM

I thought this would be good because of the close election and it shows how they could help help. But only if they assimilate with the American Culture.

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5 Best Countries to Escape America's Decline

5 Best Countries to Escape America's Decline | Asia | Scoop.it

1.Uruguay, whose official motto is "libertad o muerte (liberty or death)," is located in South America, southwest of Brazil and east of Argentina. Uruguay borders on the Atlantic Ocean and has developed infrastructure, a stable democracy, European flair, and rich culture that draws many expats to her borders. Uruguay is a constitutional democracy with one of the most developed economies in South America, possessing a high GDP per capita. Between the years 2007 and 2009, Uruguay was the only country in the Americas which didn't technically experience a recession, and now has the lowest Income Inequality and highest Quality of Life in Latin America, second only to Canada in all the Americas.  Uruguay is rated as the least corrupt country in Latin America with its political and labour conditions being among the freest on the continent.  In 2010, Uruguay became the first nation in Latin America to test hemp cultivation, while no drugs are illegal for personal consumption.  Located entirely in the temperate zone, Uruguay provides an excellent climate for growing.

 

Housing costs are much lower than the United States, as well as health care and food. Some consumer products such as cars and electronics can cost more, as well as Internet connection fees. Americans can buy real estate and own businesses, and they have an automatic 90-day visa to explore Uruguay.  Americans only need to have a proof-of-income of $500/mth to apply for residency.

2. Costa Rica is a peaceful country in Central America, often referred to as the "Switzerland" of the Latin America due to its stable economy, political stability, and quality health care. Costa Rica, blessed with two beautiful coast lines (Pacific and Caribbean), is roughly the size of West Virginia and home to around 4 million people. The Central Valley's eternal springlike climate is said to be one of the best in the world allowing for a year-round growing season.  Costa Rica is consistently voted one of the "Happiest and Greenest" countries in the world with about 95% of its electric production coming from renewable sources.  AARP and others have ranked it one of the best foreign retirement locations, as it has all the same modern conveniences found in America and is only a 5-hour flight from New York.

Besides the price of real estate, which is comparable to the U.S., the cost of living is lower -- especially property taxes, health insurance, and fresh food. Americans have an automatic 90-day visa which can be renewed by leaving the country for 3 days before re-entering.  Non-residents can own real estate and businesses, but are not allowed to work without a work visa.  Residency requirements vary based on category.  Current information is available here.

3. New Zealand might be the most isolated fully developed nation in the world. It shares no borders, sits relatively distant from any other nation, has no real national enemies, has a safe democracy and a diverse landscape with many remote places to hide away within. Located in the South Pacific with beautiful beaches, sunshine, friendly people, and stunning vistas, it has two main islands and several smaller islands like Chatham Island and the Cook Islands. New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including education, economic freedom, and lack of corruption.  New Zealand now ranks among the freest economies in the world with one of the least corrupt governments ranked #1 on the Global Peace Index in 2010 -- second year in a row.  Its cities also consistently rank among the world's most liveable.  The most commonly spoken language is English.

The cost of living is somewhat comparable to the United States.  Americans have an automatic 90-day visa to enter and explore the country.  Non-residents can apply for a 2-year work visa only in fields determined by immigration.

4. Iceland has a free market economy that has historically been one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2007, it was ranked as the most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index, and the fourth most productive country per capita economy.  In 2008, Iceland's economy was devastated by the international bankers calling their foreign debt due.  However, because of pride and solidarity among the people, strong social services, a nearly self-reliant energy sector, and a manageable population (320,000), it is poised to recover once the foreign debt issues are settled. Iceland has passed legislation to establish the country as a "free speech haven" to protect journalists and their sources. This law is a huge deal as most Western countries seem to be heading toward regulating the Internet, and it has the potential to jump-start the Icelandic economy in terms of offering censorship-free servers and other services to journalists and internet businesses.  Iceland is also a peaceful country with no standing army.

Iceland will be working it's way back from financial collapse, while the U.S. still appears headed for the cliff.  Because of the shattered financial system, there are good opportunities to live on less income in Iceland now than during its peak, while all the signs seem poised for recovery. Residency has traditionally been difficult to get in Iceland and is usually done through vital employment needs, but the new push as a political safe-haven may open up the process a bit. Currently, American passports have an automatic 90-day visa to visit Iceland.

5. Argentina has bounced back from its financial collapse in 2002 when it defaulted on international debt causing massive inflation and high unemployment.  The people said "Nunca Mas," the government has since paid off its debt to the IMF, and Argentina now has one of the world's highest qualities of life.  Argentina is the second largest country in South America and the 8th largest in the world.  It is a fully-developed country with strong agricultural production as the second-largest exporter of corn in the world -- not to mention good wines and beef too.  The capital of Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of Latin America” because it feels like a European city with rich architecture and numerous sidewalk cafes.  If the arts and ambiance with a low cost of living are your thing, then Argentina may be the best bang for your buck.

The cost of living is reportedly much lower than the United States for housing, food, travel, and health care.  Americans have an automatic passport visa of 90 days to Argentina as well. Pensioners will need to prove a $700 per month income to qualify for residency, while others can apply if they prove a steady income of $900 per month.

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Is fibre optic cable key to Africa's economic growth? | Gabriella Mulligan | BBC News

Is fibre optic cable key to Africa's economic growth? | Gabriella Mulligan | BBC News | Asia | Scoop.it

The elite of Kenya's much-heralded entrepreneurship revolution work in an ultra-modern. co-working space overlooking the bustle of Nairobi.

Their businesses are reliant on the high-speed internet available here.

The Nairobi Garage is one of a limited number of work spaces in the city boasting a dedicated 25 megabits per second [Mbps] fibre internet connection.

Fibre is definitely not the norm in Kenya - a country viewed as a leader in African technology innovation. In financial terms, fibre internet is way beyond the grasp of most entrepreneurs and small businesses.

A 25Mbps connection costs in the region of $4,000-$5,000 (£2,700-£3,380) a month.

 

"Tech is taking off in Kenya thanks in large part to the arrival of fibre internet - unfortunately the cost of this to companies is still extremely high.

 

"Large companies like banks can afford the prices of corporate internet, but for start-ups and SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] the costs are crippling," says Hannah Clifford, general manager at Nairobi Garage.

 

Over 100 small businesses have started out life in the communal work space, which currently accommodates 30 start-ups all using the stable high-speed internet connection offered at a subsidised cost.

 

"Through shared work spaces like Nairobi Garage, which is aimed at supporting the start-up sector, young businesses and entrepreneurs are able to get internet access as part of their office space at very affordable rates.

 

"High-speed, reliable internet is vital for these young businesses to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley," she says.

 

Click headline to read more--


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Do you believe that Africa's economjc systems are improving based on the information given?

 

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Jack and Kaden's curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:04 PM

Africa Economic: This article is talking about getting high speed internet in Africa, specificly Kenya. This could help boost the economy in Africa greatly. There is so much more oppertunity in the country when you open up this door. 

Errol Mesquita's curator insight, April 14, 2015 10:37 PM

Access to the internet is a part of every day life around the world....#GetErrol

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Our otherness: imagining Balkan and Mid-Eastern identities

Our otherness: imagining Balkan and Mid-Eastern identities | Asia | Scoop.it
I am Bulgarian. I live in Paris. My third home is in Cairo. Egyptian taxi drivers flirt with me, attracted by my milk-white skin. Their Bulgarian counterparts try to guess which western country I may live in as bizarrely I put on the seat belt when in the car. And, well, Parisian taxi drivers are too expensive for me to afford.

My heart beats the same way when student protests erupt in my very first alma mater, Sofia University, and when people march with flowers on the streets of Cairo in remembrance of the January 25 Revolution. And it beat similarly when I marched in Paris against social reforms, which would transform us, highly educated youth, into precarious workers.

Every time I land in Cairo, there is a friend to welcome me at the airport. There is another friend to offer hospitality. And there is yet another dear friend to hug me saying, “welcome home”. The same happens in Bulgaria and Paris, every time I come back from yet another journey.

I don’t fit exactly anywhere but I wander the streets in any of my three home countries like a fish in water. 

Around a hundred years ago, the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans were part of the same empire – the Ottoman Empire. A notebook is “tefter” in Bulgarian and “daftar” in Egyptian Arabic. My beloved granny used to wish me “happy bath” when I was a kid... just as a former Egyptian boyfriend of mine jokingly congratulated me with the Arabic equivalent“na3eeman” twenty years later. Our regions' histories have followed their own dynamics, but we have remained strangely similar in the quest to redefine our own selves.

I am far from vocal about my identity. I do not mean nationality, rather the way I see myself – precisely not of a given nationality. I am what people in both the Balkans and the Middle East hate the most: a hybrid identity.

It is difficult to frame intuitions and personal observations into a rational argument. My point is not about religion, but about memory and ideology, about the otherness we represent and the way it has been addressed by the west and our own political elites. I am not aiming to pay lip service to this or that school of thought. Nor am I eager to be the n-th pedantic writer spitting on the nasty westerners and their neo-colonial desiderata. The ambition here lies in explaining how orientalism and balkanism are the same side of one coin. I am no humanities scholar; so forgive me for not conforming to the comme il faut manner.

Let's be eloquent about the burden of conforming to our own identities, and the ways culture and architecture shape political ideology in both the Balkans and the Middle East. This happens quite seamlessly through shaping the collective memory and mastering doublespeak. Amend language, semantics and public discourse, destroy buildings and monuments to substitute them with new ones to a current strongman's glory. This rings a bell on both sides of the Mediterranean, right? 

He who controls the past
The original quote is “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past”, by Orwell. In just two sentences, he has embraced our fate.

There is not one “good” way of remembering. We know that our memories are temporary and of an uncertain future. Using them to root back justice and engage in a reconciliation process supposes the exact opposite: it supposes that it is possible to transform them into rigid facts laying the groundwork for a reconstruction of the future.

Yet, this is what happens. Playing around with collective memory is a favourite spare time activity in both the Balkans and the Middle East. Employing strong words (e.g., “genocide”, “victims of communism” for Nazi collaborators, etc.) assigns events beyond intelligible boundaries – to the kingdom of emotions. Language and semantics thus become a powerful modulator of political will and ideology.

In both the Balkans and the Middle East, to remember means to recall, to reshape, to rebuild, to hammer certain events thus transforming them into an essential bit of the construction of a society.  The concept of collective memory embraces socially shared representations of the past; these then nurture current identities. Thus, collective memory is far from being the mere sum of individual memories. Instead, it is both a cognitive and a communicative process: it is the act of remembering together.

This is how the individuals involved in this activity co-construct their memories and can oppose versions of the past presented by others. Verbalised memories reflect therefore not individual “true memories” but constitute 'actes de langage'. These, according to outstanding linguist Emile Benvéniste, are a substitute for experience, able to live limitlessly in time and space. The existence, for example, of the Kosovo Memory Book as well as a wide range of artistic graffiti in Egypt reveal the importance of naming: “Let People Remember People”, the leitmotiv of the Kosovo Memory Book, crystallises the practice of using language as a tool to build collective memory.

Remembering together and sharing the same memories is a pre-requisite to belonging to society. Thus, inscribing precise memories in the collective memory is a political act. Such a choice, through words and monuments, translates which precise bit from the past will be used to build the future.

The nation's collective memory builders in both the Balkans and the Middle East have been spectacularly gifted in crafting “them” and “us”, the eternal revenge against the “other”, our opposite. Such a duty to remember is therefore an identity amplification.

Constructing collective memory follows a simple three-step process: pick the facts from the past, inject them into national memory and then, document them for posterity. The ad nauseam reminder of certain past heroes and saviours, of certain past victories and glory are thus incorporated in the modern national project. These 'foundational myths' are then structured into memory items (monuments, faces on banknotes, etc.). The story, which these bits tell, is one of grand destiny and deeds. It is therefore difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate the violence committed by such a highly valued society into this memory scheme.

The culture of memory
Tribalism, ethnicity and ideology maintain a tenuous relationship in both the Balkans and the Middle East. In our countries, we nurture archetypes of the hero and his enemy. The hero's sacrosanct image is a core principle of identity definition. The 'villains' in popular representations are 'impure', hybrid personalities as they have a foot in different worlds. Attempting to tell in non-imaginary terms the “sites, symbols and narrations of wars in the Balkans” means challenging the official memory and thus, identity; by doing so, you are necessarily a spy. The paranoia and rejection can grow ridiculous, for example, when Egyptian-Britons get arrested in Cairo metro for discussing January 25, 2014 in English. Such non-Manichean personalities are thus proscribed as they threaten the national identity.

It is also necessary to be able to “read” a monument – and the lack thereof. It is a textbook case of demagogy to “forget” to represent given events or to shift the representation provided by a given memorial entity. In Serbia, for instance, no monument has been built in homage of the victims of the Yugoslav wars. According to Milošević, Serbia was not at war; there was thus no victim or winner to honour.

A pre-existing monument – or even a whole city – can also be used to tell a different narrative. In a short film entitled The Third River (1952), the state-owned Iraqi Petroleum Company aimed to convey a complex yet clearly narrated nationalism. The film combines depictions of ruins and monuments, and incorporates Babylon, Assyria and the Abbasids in its history of Iraq. These have all been integral parts of the discourse and imagery of Iraqi nationalism after the coup, and more particularly under Saddam Hussein’s reign. This film also features the traditional 'old vs. new' semantics; the narrator tells that, “the oldest techniques are practised side-by-side with the new” while we watch images of industrial architecture and farmers labouring their land with donkey-pulled ploughs. As the film is narrated in English, one may guess that it was intended for a western (actually, British) audience. It is most probably why the film also highlights Roman and Byzantine history to support the western claim to Mesopotamia.

Egypt has not been better at commemorating the hundreds who died during the 18 days of the Revolution. In November 2013, the then-interim government unveiled a circular monument at Tahrir Square, “to the glory of the martyrs”, as a police general ensured in a communiqué. The Tahrir monument came after another memorial, honouring police and soldiers, was erected on the site of a square near the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in eastern Cairo where Muslim Brotherhood supporters and members were brutally killed in the bloody dispersal of the sit-ins in August 2013. 

Similar whitewashing of reality is also common in the Balkans. The monument in Budrovci (Croatia) originally dedicated to the liberators of World War II today honours those who fought in the civil war in the 1990s. Worse, the past 15 years have seen the destruction of nearly all 3,000 monuments erected across Croatia in homage to World War II; the museums have been closed one after the other as well. In addition to this dreadful obliteration, a recent book narrates the purge of more than 2.8 million books (an estimated 13% of Croatia's bibliographic fund), destroyed because written in Cyrillic, by Serbian authors, by leftist intellectuals, etc. 

We are all neighbours
We burnt and forgot monuments. But neither peoples from the Balkans nor those from the Middle East managed to uproot the human vestiges, the felool, the remnants of old regimes. We cannot however rely on outside 'benevolent wills' to help us throughout our transition.

Against the backdrop of the only organised activity in the Balkans and the Middle East – corruption – transitions and transformations happen. And they affect all our identities. The Berlin Wall fell and oligarchy spread all over the Balkans. Bulgaria, my beautiful country of birth, suffers from chronic oligarchy today. It is no new illness: Aristotle defined plutocracy centuries ago, and oligarchy is just one of its flavours along with military junta. In 1999, the European Union (EU) daringly announced that the transition to democracy in Bulgaria was achieved. Our oligarchs did everything to outlaw freedom of speech, and threats and various 'accidents' continue in neighbouring countries aimed at stifling dissent. And then, there is that thing that people call the 'Arab Spring'. It continues to “reverberate across MENA countries in complex ways defying easy assessment and unequivocal judgements”. 

What is interesting in all these cases is that, except for Palestine and Kosovo, we hardly speak of state-building. Instead, the dynamics we observe are the ones of democracy-building. The ineptness of the Westphalian model of statehood applied to the Balkans and the Middle East is not a new fad.

I will spare us the headache of recalling in detail the number of scholars having dedicated years of brain juice to prove the Balkan and the Arab worlds' 'exceptional' nature. Whoever the expert talking on this was, the rhetoric barely changed: authoritarianism blossomed because of our societies constructing intrinsic barriers to democracy. That is, both the Balkans and the Arab world are built on an array of social, cultural and economic practices that clash with democratic values. Add to this the lack of institutional frameworks able to support a sustainable transition toward democracy as well as the staggering absence of “good governance”, and here we are with God-forsaken places inhabited by barbarians who may or may not have heard about fridges.

The collective memory I elaborate on above naturally varies from person to person. Although they are greatly intertwined, Balkan and Mid-Eastern peoples' histories are far from homogeneous. Yet, when speaking of the Balkans or of the Middle East, western discourse often essentialises these peoples. Edward Said has coined 'orientalism' – and Maria Todorova has come up with 'balkanism'. I will not attempt to summarise the immensely popular work of Said, rather elaborate on Todorova's concept since it is less well known. Balkanism is a reflection of the quest to critically examine how the geographically and historically defined Balkans have become a synonym of derogatory meaning. As she writes in The Balkans: From Discovery to Invention, balkanisation today signifies more generally the disintegration of viable nation-states and the reversion to “the tribal, the backward, the primitive, the barbarian”.

Similarly to Said who explored how western (European) culture has succeeded in producing an 'Other', i.e. the “politically, sociologically, ideologically, scientifically and imaginatively” East, Todorova builds upon the essentialised “Other” from the Balkans. In a similar way, the western essentialist representation framework achieves a dichotomy where the west keeps its own self-image as the superior civilisation compared to the Balkans. Todorova writes, “[g]eographically inextricable from Europe, yet culturally constructed as 'the other,' the Balkans became, in time, the object of a number of externalized political, ideological and cultural frustrations that have served as a repository of negative characteristics against which a positive and self-congratulatory image of the 'European' and 'the West' has been constructed”.

Today, aside from the generalised fear of losing our identities, the only common aspiration of the Balkan peoples is to join the EU as an attempt to achieve a better life. Nationalisms and strong patriotisms arise – and are growing stronger as we speak – in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, in part due to a carefully built collective memory and partly as a response to the strong 'westernisation' we are subjected to. The latter is a complex matter to debate as it generally includes pointing fingers, borderline comments and swiftly attained Godwin points. Yet, the challenges we face today, in each of these countries, can only be solved internally and after we have embraced our real neighbours.

And for us, the hybrid identities of 'the fifth column', challengers of the official collective memory, the national duty to remember becomes thus the foe to knock out yesterday, today and tomorrow as the past sucks the lifeblood out of both the present and the future.

Via Warren David
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10 new technologies Africa can use to leapfrog

10 new technologies Africa can use to leapfrog | Asia | Scoop.it
After centuries of lagging behind, Africa has a great opportunity to leapfrog into global leadership. In this insightful piece for the World Economic Forum’s online portal Agenda, tech expert Jonathan Ledgard (ec-The Economist, now based in Switzerland) suggests 10 new technologies that Africa is able to apply that will catapult it forward. Much better for political leadership to acquaint themselves with these realities instead of fighting petty arguments over sectors where the sun is setting. – AH

By Jonathan Ledgard*

From smartphones to cargo drones, technology has the potential to transform the future of Africa. These 10 trends show how innovation can ripple through societies, boost economies and help the continent skip over development hurdles.

1. Droneports
Because connectivity defines modern prosperity, and because Africa will not be able to build roads fast enough to manage its growth, the continent will be the first to adopt cargo drones at massive scale. But drones need somewhere to land. So in 2015 we will see the first concepts for droneports out of Africa. They will be clean-energy, open to sky and nature, and mix the civic quality of early Victorian railway stations with souks and the latest airport technology – in other words, the petrol station of the 21st century.

2. Robotics
It’s not just flying robots that hold economic promise for Africa. The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has reinforced the lessons of Fukushima. In the kind of emergency where it’s dangerous for humans to be in contact with one another, robotics can help to screen for radiation or for infectious disease. Currently, there are not enough advanced robots to do the remote tasks we need them to do. It might seem counterintuitive to promote robotics in the context of high youth unemployment and pervasive poverty. But African economies will engineer efficiencies through automation that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Look to the Africa Robotics Network and research universities inside and outside Africa, which will spread robotics beyond humanitarian use into the production of robots. In particular, there will be more research into robotics for healthcare and search-and-rescue functions.

3. Space
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) astronomy project in South Africa’s Kalahari desert promises to massively advance space science in Africa. The SKA’s goal is to map the early universe using radio telescopes, and the first phase of the project is capped at $740 million. The necessary computing architecture will be among most advanced on the planet. SKA will eventually produce more data than the rest of the world’s astronomy projects combined. In 2015, we will also see private space initiatives, including the South African investor Elon Musk’s Space X begin consideration of private launch sites in Africa, ahead of the many rocket launches expected to take place before NASA sends humans to Mars in 2035. Located on the equator and with plenty of space, Africa has the potential to be a major player in space exploration.

4. Translation
Voyager I has entered interstellar space. Fastened to it is a gold disc with the sounds of Earth recorded on it. Among them is a greeting in the Chewa language of central and southern Africa: “How are you, people of other planets?” Google Translate is now available in 10 African languages. However, Translators Without Borders points out that Africa has 2,000 languages. Only 242 of these are used in the media and just 63 are used in the judicial systems. That means the poorest and most vulnerable Africans struggle to make themselves understood. Creating living dictionaries for hundreds more African languages will be a significant undertaking in 2015, not just for heavyweights such as Google and IBM’s Project Watson, but for start-ups, too. It is cheap and profitable: Babel has never looked so promising in Africa.

5. Tech spaces
Tshimologong Pre cinct is a technology accelerator of Wits University in Johannesburg, which has the backing of companies such as IBM and Microsoft. As much as 40% of South Africa’s GDP is generated within a short drive of Tshimologong and many students live in the area, so reorienting the precinct around technology makes sense. Similarly, in Kenya, the Gearbox makerspace for design and rapid prototyping will move into the railway district in downtown Nairobi. The year 2015 will see similar initiatives from Dakar to Durban as city planners, property developers and technologists realize they can work together to produce jobs and vitality.

6. Augmented reality
This year may be too soon for augmented reality to hit the market in Africa, but it is not too soon to begin planning for it. How might an African second life, visited by commuters on crowded minibuses, differ from augmented realities in industrialized countries?

7. Wearable technologies
Africa is coming late to wearables because of the cost, but in 2015 will see them gain market share through cheap smart watches and health trackers. That will subtly challenge present behaviour for wealthier early adopters. Will 2,000 steps a day suffice for African city-dwellers? Will cholesterol tracking influence food choices?

8. Wi-fi
A study by iPass, an American wi-fi provider, suggests that wi-fi hotspots will proliferate on the planet, but continue to lag in Africa. It predicts that in 2018 there will be a wi-fi beacon for every 20 people on Earth, but only one beacon for every 400 Africans. So, the year 2015 will see a more concerted push towards spreading wi-fi more equitably around Africa. Sub-orbital satellites using solar sailplane technology will close financing. These great and graceful craft always aloft in the stratosphere will usefully compete with high-altitude “loons”, white-space radio frequency and low-tech stratospheric repeaters.  A related activity will be to make the most of the available bandwidth by installing the best available spam filters.

9. Smartphones again
The migration from dumb phones to smartphones is so obvious a trend that it can often be overlooked, but new guesstimates form Cisco underline the extent of the coming change. In South Africa, Cisco says, internet usage will grow from 710 megabytes a month to 7.2 gigabytes in 2019. Most of this will be on newly purchased smartphones and their related devices, such as wearables and augmented reality. And where South Africa goes, the larger African economies follow.

10. Futurism
The year 2015 will see a move towards futurism among African intellectuals, with avant-garde artists and writers anticipating Africa’s forthcoming acceleration in their works. Concepts will include new technologies, the loss of wildlife species, the creation of cities and the longer view of transhumanism and interstellar travel. Wider discussions about technology will take place. A good example is South African film director Neill Blomkamp and his latest blockbuster, Chappie, set in Johannesburg: “Humanity’s last hope is not human.”

* Jonathan Ledgard is Director of a future Africa initiative at EPFL and a long-time Africa correspondent at the Economist. He leads a group that is building the world’s first droneport – in Africa. His last novel, Submergence, was a New York Times Book of the Year and is being adapted for the big screen.

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Start-up Monday: All Square social network tees off from Luxembourg | Europe

Start-up Monday: All Square social network tees off from Luxembourg | Europe | Asia | Scoop.it
Turning his passion for golf into a career, Patrick Rahme co-founded All Square, an award-winning social network dedicated to golfers and the golfing lifestyle.

Via Gust MEES
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Gust MEES's curator insight, December 2, 2014 2:30 PM

Turning his passion for golf into a career, Patrick Rahme co-founded All Square, an award-winning social network dedicated to golfers and the golfing lifestyle.


Clayton and Annie's curator insight, February 12, 2015 9:57 AM

This is showing  Europes social network. Patrick Rahme founded an award winning social media website for golfers. This shows that their is an online passion, that Europeans have. 

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Dozens Of European Parliamentarians Call For End To EU-Israel Treaty

Dozens Of European Parliamentarians Call For End To EU-Israel Treaty | Asia | Scoop.it
A group of 63 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the five biggest political blocs in the parliament have called on European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to suspend the EU-Israel “association agreement.”

The association agreement facilitates largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel, allowing Israel to participate in a wide range of the EU’s programs. It also permits Israeli arms companies to receive EU funding.  

The MEPs argue that allowing the agreement to stay in place despite Israel’s recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza “sends Israel the message that its violations of basic principles of human rights will be tolerated.”

This appeal for tough action against Israel is one of the most widely-supported initiatives from European parliamentarians in recent years. It follows the publication in December of a statement calling for the suspension of the association agreement that was signed by more than 300 groups across Europe, including some of the continent’s biggest trade unions, political parties and non-governmental organizations. 

Also in December, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, an umbrella group of European solidarity campaigns, set up a website to make it easy for people to lobby their MEPs on the issue of EU-Israel ties. 

Via Warren David
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Rachael's curator insight, February 9, 2015 12:01 AM

if most of the EU representatives want the treaty to end, what is the  reason they want the treaty to end? Could ending this treaty strengthen  or hurt the EU?

Bailey & Xavier's curator insight, February 11, 2015 1:34 PM

People from the European Union are planning to suspend the EU's agreement with Israel. The agreement lets Israel participate in EU programs.

Matthew Carrigg's curator insight, February 13, 2015 12:28 AM

  Tensions between Isreal and the rest if the world are tense which is show by  this article.  The EU if they follow through with this suspension of the treaty then they will lose some of the trust of other countries. Although if they really feel this is needed then they must act fast with there desision.

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First we take Athens: Europe’s debt colony revolts

First we take Athens: Europe’s debt colony revolts | Asia | Scoop.it
Syriza’s victory — a product of Greece’s vibrant, antagonistic culture of direct action and prefigurative politics — will resound throughout Europe

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What contributing factors would come to the forefront as to why it is Greece's political system is so corrupt? 

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