29 November 2014

2 December is UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

"The mindless cycle of destruction must end..."

Separation wall

The above photo is of a section of the separation wall in East Jerusalem. The wall winds down the shallow dry valley. There is a road for military patrol vehicles which runs alongside the wall on the Israeli side. The wall is made of cement (the holes at the top of each slab are for the crane hook to hold; the wall was put up quickly but is probably very strong). It is tall enough to stop people climbing over it easily. In the middle distance, there is medium-rise housing which looks recent. There is a road on the left which leads to the settlement (which is quite far from the wall). The houses on the right are low-rise and quite close to the wall. There are no roads only dirt tracks. There seems to be rubbish lying about. Perhaps the people on the Palestinian side are poorer than the people on the Israeli side (the Israelis most probably have many decent roads, public lighting and sewerage facilities). There are a few trees and bushes. The landscape is dry and it is probably a very hot day. The valley is desert-like and there are no people. In the distance there are empty-looking hills. Is this a nice place to live?

Why is there a wall?
  • The region around Jerusalem is disputed territory: the Israeli and Palestinian communities both claim the land is theirs.
  • The wall was built by the Israelis to keep the Palestinians out of the territory they control (they are afraid of terrorist attacks, that is also why there are few Israeli houses close to the wall).
  • The wall marks a militarized border (cf. the patrol road; there is probably barbed wire and a watch tower not far away).
  • The wall "contains" the Palestinians (like in a prison) and makes controlling them easier (the Israelis keep a watch on the Palestinians).
  • The wall is a way of demarcating Israeli territory (of showing the Palestinians that the land up to the wall is now in Israeli possession).
  • For the Palestinians, the wall is a constant reminder of their humiliating situation.
  • For the Israelis, the wall is a way of feeling safer and of asserting their presence in the region.

This documentary photo has no "artistic" pretence, but it was obviously taken to show a very sad situation; it is an illustration of extreme social and spatial disparity: a town is separated by a wall which reinforces the political, territorial, cultural, religious, and wealth divide. The Israelis are militarily strong, claim ownership of disputed land, are mostly Jewish and relatively wealthy. The Palestinians are militarily weak, feel their land is being illegally occupied, are mostly Muslim and relatively poor.

To do/questions:
  1. Read Ban ki-Moon's remarks on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
  2. Research the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  3. Research the Israeli West Bank barrier.

Photo by Eman Mohammed

> Click HERE to watch a TED talk by Eman Mohammed!

Questions on Eman Mohammed's talk:
  1. What is Eman's job?
  2. Where was her first assignment?
  3. Why do male colleagues not welcome her presence?
  4. To what "worlds" were her male colleagues forbidden?
  5. What flattened Mohammed Khader's house?
  6. Did Eman "run away" (cf. her last sentence)?
  7. What do you think of Eman?
To do:

Give a 60-second talk describing and commenting the photo of the kids in their jacuzzi (cf. 3'33'' of the video).

25 November 2014

EWWR 22-30 November 2014

Questions on the video in the Daily Mail article: click HERE!
  1. Who is "facing an absurd situation"?
  2. How many tons of fruit and vegetables are wasted every year according to the video?
  3. Who made 2014 "European Year against food waste"?
  4. What is "as good, 30% cheaper"?
  5. How did Intermarché convince consumers to buy the ugly fruit and vegetables?
  6. What problem did the supermarket chain face?
  7. What, according to many journalists, should all supermarkets do?
  8. How many fruit and vegetables do you eat every day?
  9. Does your family eat "ugly" fruit and vegetables?
  10. What do you think of the Intermarché initiative?

To do:
  1. Find out how much food is wasted in the world every year.
  2. Click HERE!
  3. Click HERE!
  4. Click HERE!

23 November 2014

G20, 2014: what can world leaders do about climate change?

Logo of the G20 summit

The 2014 Summit of the G-20 was held in Brisbane, Australia, on November 15-16.

“G-20” stands for “Group of Twenty”.

The members of the group are the world’s twenty most powerful economies (19 countries plus the European Union):
  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Brazil
  4. Canada
  5. China
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. India
  9. Indonesia
  10. Italy
  11. Japan
  12. Mexico
  13. Russia
  14. Saudi Arabia
  15. South Africa
  16. South Korea
  17. Turkey
  18. United Kingdom
  19. United States
  20. European Union
This group represents about two-thirds of the world’s population and 85% of the total value of all the products and services that are produced in the world.

The G-20 was formed in 1999 after a financial crisis so that various countries could get together and work on the world’s economic issues.

At the Brisbane Summit, country leaders and representatives of international organizations  discussed how to improve our world’s economies.

Issues included:
  • How can trade be made easier?
  • How can tax fraud be avoided?
  • How can the financial system be made safer?
  • How can employment be increased?

Other important issues were discussed:
  • Russia’s aggressive stance on Ukraine.
  • Climate change.

Click on the links below for more information on the G20 Summit:

Point 19 of the Leaders' Communiqué, Brisbane Summit (15-16 November 2014), reads:

"We support strong and effective action to address climate change. Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes, our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015. We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund."


Questions (to find answers, use the texts and links above AND sources you find yourself):
  1. Where and when was the latest G20 Summit held?
  2. What is the G20?
  3. What were the important issues discussed at the Summit according to THE DAY?
  4. What does "sustainable development" mean?
  5. What is the UNFCCC?
  6. What is the COP21?
  7. What is the Green Climate Fund?

To do:
  1. Describe and comment the photo above.
  2. What are the causes of climate change?
  3. Situate the Isle de Jean Charles on a map (print out the map for your ring binder).
  4. Watch the video (cf. above link).
  5. Click on "Think" and answer the questions.
  6. Click on "Dig deeper" and read the text.

  1. If you were a resident of the Isle, would you stay or would you leave? 
  2. What can be done about the situation on the Isle de Jean Charles?
  3. According to you, who can solve the problems linked to climate change: grassroots action groups or the world leaders (prepare a 60-second speech in answer to this question)?

Still shot from the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

To do:
  1. Watch the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (you can borrow the DVD from your local library!).
  2. Write a short critique of the film for the blog THE BIGGER PICTURE.
  3. Design a POSTER to encourage your schoolmates to contribute to energy efficiency in school (for information, use sources such as the EPA website).