World

Desperate times and transitions of global dimensions

This trip to Ethiopia is coming to an end in a few days from now. In the moment I feel some sadness about that need to say goodbye, but it’s also about the state of things here, Africa as a whole and how that reflects the state of the world. I know that I have a certain perspective influenced by the environmental, peace and human rights movements I have actively been a part for most of my life...no apology for that really. From my perspective, and I am not alone on this, there is a catastrophe unfolding now that has not peaked yet. It is like watching an accident in slow motion with silent screams that cannot interrupt our slide into chaos.

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Live from Geneva! It's crunch time for the United Nations' examination of the U.S. human rights record

The Advocates for Human Rights has a booth at the Minnesota State Fair every year. We have a wheel that fairgoers spin to take a shot at answering a question on a human rights topic. Last year, one question was a real stumper: “When will the United Nations next review the human rights record of the United States?” “Never” was the common response. The correct answer? Now. This week, a 32-person delegation of U.S. officials will appear before the UN’s Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss human rights here at home.

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Cuba sanctions sustained by inertia

Really, it’s inertia. Why do we maintain sanctions on Cuba? Because we maintain sanctions on Cuba.

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Moving forward: Four steps and six strategies for promoting LGBTI rights around the world

While viewers across the United States watched the Olympic closing ceremonies, Jason Collins became the first publicly gay male athlete to compete in a major North American professional sports league as he took to the basketball court in Los Angeles.

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Chefs of the Mekong pop-up restaurants

When night falls in Vientiane city, it turns into pop-ups galore. Many Lao families work to feed the hungry crowds of tourists grazing along the Mekong after shopping their hearts out at the night market.

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Ethiopian snapshots: Still to come

I told many people that I was going to Ethiopia to visit the sacred and historical sights. Am I procrastinating the posting of a story about my trip to the headwaters of the Blue Nile, the island monasteries on Lake Tana and the ancient monolithic stone churches of Lalibela? I have many photos of all that from both our Ethiopian-Italian cousins and myself.

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Ethiopian snapshots: Goats and food security

I see goats all over the city here in Addis Ababa in small herds crossing the chaotic urban street’s seemingly lawless traffic. Every day one can see herds of cattle, sheep and goats grazing in open urban fields. Given that back home in Minneapolis there is an active local food movement growing month by month, year by year, this experience here tells me that a lot of our foreign born neighbors know something about HOW to live with livestock in urban settings. I don’t think we will do what I see here in Ethiopia, but change is coming as the necessity to localize food production unfolds. We currently allow for chickens under certain conditions in the Twin Cities. I have never seen goats actually running wild or being unruly here in Addis. It seems to me with effective rules of law, goats could be a part of the movement for food security.

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Ethiopian snapshots: Water and electricity

I have lived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes since 1964. There have been times when the lakes and streams have receded below normal levels, but the water has never been a shut off. Water shut-offs in Addis Ababa happens on a weekly basis. In some unfortunate barrios water can be off for a whole week. People will travel by foot to a public faucet with large recycled plastic jugs to gather water for cooking and washing. Bottled water is sold just about everywhere. It looks to me that many people don’t drink water directly from the faucets…not tourists, not residents.

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Pulled toward Africa: History, blackness and family

Why have I since high school felt some interest or pull toward Africa during a time when there was such a negative attitude about anything black or African? The Underground Railroad placed my Mother’s family in Canada and some of the “benefits” of assimilation: Education that provided reading, writing and speaking skills and an ability to understand and negotiate white, Western culture. Sometimes that “benefit” was via skin color so someone appearing white, sometimes had the option, if one could stomach it, of disappearing into the white world temporarily or long term.  If you stayed within your African American, mixed race family or community, being “high yellow”, “redbone” or almost white, gave you access or status.  

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Out in the cold: LGBT visibility at Olympics key to ending homophobia

Last summer I spent a few days in Moscow to watch the Rugby Sevens World Cup. The tournament was held in the main stadium for the 1980 Summer Olympics—a stadium where U.S. Olympians never competed, due to a boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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