DGI Brief - Sep 8, 2016

  • WORLD: Scientists worry about the amount of plastic polluting the world’s oceanic waters each year – up to 12.7 million metric tons – and urge most serious global waste management. Why this matters: the problem of plastics could potentially be a health issues. Data shows that marine life consume plastic covered in bacteria & algae. Recent study found 1 in 4 fish at public markets in two countries (USA-California & Indonesia) had plastic particles in their guts. Microplastics were also in the guts of most oysters & mussels. Research is now focusing on the chemicals used to manufacture the plastic & how these may migrate into the flesh/edible parts of seafood & affect humans. Yet another example of cause & effect of human activities that needs comprehensive approach to be solved.

  • USA: All eyes will be on California where Governor Jerry Brown signed sweeping climate legislation today requiring the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 & establishing legislative committee to oversee environmental policies & regulators in how the state meets its ambitious climate goals. Why this matters: “progressive” & “aggressive” are some of the words used to describe bills SB32 & AB197. They will change how business is done in California, requiring more restrictive rules & yet the long-term benefits will be undeniable. California on its own is the 6th largest economy in the world, thus its policies & laws will influence global business & investment. I am proud to be a Californian. For more information, please stay tuned for my write up about today’s historic event.

  • SYRIA: 73 humanitarian organizations that deliver aid to over 7 million people within Syria & in neighboring countries accused the UN of allowing the Syrian government to manipulate relief efforts in a letter to the UN humanitarian office in Turkey. They decided to suspend their participation in an information-sharing program aimed at improved coordination of aid delivery in protest of UN’s “complacency”. Why this matters: Without proper coordination & info-sharing, there will be a lot of overlap & gaps in humanitarian assistance. The frustrations of aid groups about the UN are well founded: the UN can be slow, inflexible & give too much weight to governments – often the root cause of the need for aid in the first place. Yet what most do not realize (or don’t want to admit) is the UN is the chief negotiator & compromise-seeker. Without the UN opening doors & exhorting pressure on the governments & parties to conflicts, many aid groups wouldn’t be able to operate at all.

  • ISRAEL’s Prime Minister Netanyahu & PALESTINIAN President Abbas agreed ‘in principle’ to a meeting in Moscow, but that is as far as they got. President Abbas is demanding Israel carry out a prisoner release agreed upon during the last round of talks & halt the Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territory as preconditions for the Moscow meeting. PM Netanyahu rejects the terms, demanding talks without conditions. Why this matters: Russia is assuming a leadership role in the region – backing Syrian government, close ties with Iran, improved relations with Turkey & now a peacemaker for a decades-long conflict between Israel & Palestine. Do you know what would happen if Russia succeeded (unlikely by all expert accounts)? There’d be peace. So I say please do your best, Russia.

  • ZIMBABWE’s human rights commission reports that the ruling ZANU-PF party is denying access to food aid for people supporting opposition to President Mugabe. Zimbabwe has been engulfed in often violent protest over failing economy & has been suffering a punishing drought that leaves over 4 million – or 1/3 of the population – in need of food aid. Why this matters: it’s plainly wrong to do this, but there are more serious implications. Many international organizations deliver food aid to chronically food insecure populations in addition to the government aid. With the government so blatantly denying access to food aid for the needy based on their political affiliation, then aid groups have to pick up the slack, ultimately helping the government. Can – and will – the international community exhort pressure on Mugabe to cease & desist? Our tax dollars pay for a lot of this aid.

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