03 May, 2010

Article Round-Up

Since I am seemingly incapable of posting one thought nowadays - here is what caught my attention this morning:

Myanmar two years later - how are things going? Can we write this article about Haiti in two years? 
  - "We can't always rely on food aid. We have to stand on our own in order to move on."
   - The recovery of "income-generating activities is crucial to landless household livelihoods, and is still low." 
   - "The world has shifted attention to other disasters, and that's an explanation as to why funding is not coming to us," said Thierry Delbreuve, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar. 

Will Kagame Retire in 2017? Somehow I doubt it. 
   - "From this perspective therefore, it seems that the longer a president stays in power, the harder it becomes to respect term limits. This is partly because longevity may create many constituencies of hostility, but it also entrenches powerful interests in the body politic. In a 2008 Afro Barometer survey, most Africans said they want term limits. Yet this popular feeling does not find much currency in politics because the powerful can still manipulate electoral politics to remain in power."
   - "I do not know a leader of an insurgent army that captured power as RPF did and left power voluntarily – in Zimbabwe, Uganda, North Korea, Cuba, etc. If Kagame respects term limits and retires in 2017, it will be an act with few precedents, if any. Many in RPF will want him to stay. How can we tell whether he will resist or yield?"

    - Nearly 900 beggars, homeless people and suspected petty thieves, including dozens of children, have recently been rounded up from the nation's neatly swept streets and sent — without trial or a court appearance — to this little-known outpost. They will spend up to three years here being "rehabilitated," learning skills like bricklaying, hairdressing and motorcycle maintenance.
      It is one of the country's newest self-improvement projects, and it seems a fitting symbol for what many political analysts and human rights groups say Rwanda has become: orderly but repressive.
    - But while the nation continues to be praised as a darling of the foreign aid world and something of a central African utopia, it is increasingly intolerant of political dissent, or sometimes even dialogue, and bubbling with bottled-up tensions. Recent grenade attacks in Kigali and a shake-up in the army showed that even one of the cornerstones of the new Rwandan state — personal security — might be in danger.
   - Rwandan officials are prickly about complaints. President Kagame lashed out at foreign critics this month, saying, "Who should be giving lessons to Rwanda's 11 million people about what is good for them?" He called opposition leaders "hooligans" and said Rwandans were "as free, as happy, as proud of themselves, as they have never been in their lives."

I love that phrase: orderly but repressive. I have struggled for months trying to figure out how to describe Rwanda to people - and there it is. It is a dictatorship wrapped in a democracy, with deep western ties and the facade of civility and modernization. 

But really - the island is not that far off from some of Rwanda's other initiatives. 

MTV's 16 and Pregnant - what it includes and leaves out... 

Oh what a touchy subject. But it's Monday and I am a bit bored at work. Contraception and sex-ed in schools. The show (I guess, I have seen a total of, at most, seven minutes, and wanted to pull my hair out - having lived through a couple teen pregnancies w/ my friends and family - which looked nothing like the show and really, if Dr. Drew was doing his job, instead of focusing on why she got pregnant - let's talk about why she's staying with her jerk of a boyfriend who treats her like crap and, let's be honest, won't be there when the bundle of joy comes - there are my two cents). So, the show does mention adoption (woo hoo!) and does not talk about abortion (which I also appreciate), but also doesn't talk about prevention - abstinence (which is not a bad word) or contraception (which isn't one either). 

So let's not talk about how these girls got pregnant at 16. (Did you know the U.S. the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any industrialized nation?). Let's not address the root issues of teen pregnancy, let's not discuss more effective, inclusive sex-ed for our children. 

You can say no - you don't have to have sex and that does not make you a freak or mean you will explode at eighteen or that there is something wrong with you. You can also choose to have sex with prevention, you can also choose to have sex w/o it and then make an adult decisions for your adult decision to have sex (aka - not an abortion). Let's talk to girls about their bodies and the decisions they can make about their bodies. Let's talk to boys about respecting women, let's talk to both of them HONESTLY about what happens if you are 16 and pregnant and what it's not -  that stupid Lifetime movie about pact pregnancies where you take home a bundle of love that sleeps and lets you still go out with your friends on a Friday night w/ no financial, mental or physical burden to you at all - but does impact your entire life and changes everything.

"The important point isn't that birth control fails ... but that sex ed fails when it begins and ends in a clinic a few weeks before prom."