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This is a harth braking story from Ghana.
I makes me feel sad, last time I was in Ghana, the airport was full of rich foreigners coming into the country smelling the possibility to make lots of money in a short time. Ghana is changing, not to the better, but to the worst. For some people, the country is becoming more and more prosperous and westernized, but for others, it is getting harder and harder to make a living.
GHANA: The Abandoned Offspring of Oil – IPS ipsnews.net

The Abandoned Offspring of Oil
By Paul Carlucci and Sam Mark Essien


TAKORADI-SEKONDI, Ghana, Sep 23, 2011 (IPS) – Kobina’s legs are dappled with scars. He gets them flitting across the beach in Sekondi, in southwest Ghana, slipping in the soot-black mud and clambering over pirogues slippery with fish guts, only to sell a sachet of water or a freshly peeled orange to fishermen working on the shore.

He is a child: just 10 years old. But he earns a living selling food to locals.

Comfort Essuman keeps him company, roaming the area selling porridge and deep-fried sugar bread. Two years older than Kobina, she is less shy and more confident. Whereas Kobina will not offer his last name, Comfort readily pronounces hers.

“My mum says I should keep selling and that I will go to school later,” she says, adding that she has not been to school since grade three. “I sell not less than two Ghanaian cedi (just over one dollar) a day and send the proceeds to my mother.” She lives with her aunt, while her mother is in Central Region, one of the West African country’s 10 regions.

Kids like Comfort and Kobina are all over this Western Region metropolis. They are the skinny and scuffed cherubs of Takoradi’s heralded oil era, a newborn epoch that residents say is bringing more trials than triumphs.

Takoradi and Sekondi are the twin capitals of Ghana’s Western Region with a population of about 335,000. Once just sleepy fishing hollows, they were galvanised late last year when the region started producing oil from the offshore Jubilee field. The Ministry of Energy predicts 250,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, with a quarter century total of one billion barrels. And other finds from nearby fields are expected to come online in 2014.

Local chiefs are demanding 10 percent of the expected one billion dollars in annual government revenue from the oil. To kick-start infrastructure, the normally sluggish federal government passed a three billion dollar loan approval through parliament, earmarking 1.8 billion dollars for infrastructure development in Western Region.

Lured by news of oil-driven prosperity, newcomers arrive in droves, each expecting an employment boom that is yet to come. In the meantime, rent goes up. The cost of food increases. Traffic builds. And social malaise multiplies. It is a hydra-headed problem and many of its victims are children, says Deborah Daisy Kwabia, metropolis director for the Regional Department of Social Welfare.

“A lot of people are streaming into Takoradi-Sekondi in pursuit of greener pastures, whereby it doesn’t exist,” she adds. “It’s voluminous. It’s even increasing.”

For children, marginalisation takes two forms. The first is child labour, which can impact girls and boys differently. Older men may train boys to run drugs or steal from shoppers in Takoradi’s crowded Market Circle. Girls, meanwhile, might cook or wash dishes in ramshackle eateries called chop bars. Or they might move into someone’s house and become a maidservant.

The second is prostitution.

“Because of oil, now they have turned to prostitution,” says Comfort Osei Gerning, a foster mother with Mercy Foundation, a local children’s group. “The girls have turned to prostitution, and we have some boys who have turned to (having sex with men).”

The Zenith Hotel is the seat of downtown Takoradi’s nightlife. It is a bright red building next to a taxi station, and food hawkers crowd its corners late into the evening. Inside, men sip alcohol in a gloomy courtyard while prostitutes cruise the tables.

“Those ones aged 12 to 15, they are a different group,” Gerning says. “They are called the Thousand Girls. They charge cheap because they are kids.”

The name is a reference to Ghana’s old devalued currency. Ten Ghanaian cedi (six dollars) used to be 1,000 Ghanaian cedi. And it is what the girls charge. Apart from the Zenith, child prostitutes are said to haunt the Harbour View bar and the beaches of both Takoradi and Sekondi.

“Before you get to them, you have to pass through some grown-ups,” Gerning says. “They will collect the money from you and show you the place. It is someone’s business.”

This happens despite the existence of Ghana’s 1998 Children’s Act. Its clauses rail against child exploitation.

The act mandates the metropolis’ Social Services Sub-Committee to enforce its labour provisions. No one under 18 is allowed to do hazardous work, like going out to sea. No one under 15 is permitted to do manual labour. And light work is not allowed for anyone under 13. The committee can conduct investigations and recommend police action.

John Davis, representative for the metropolitan electoral area of West Anajy, has been the head of the committee for three months. Though he is aware of both child prostitution and labour in the metropolis, he says there have been no investigations under his tenure, and he is not aware of any conducted by the previous committee.

Davis is not able to offer any statistics at all, though he says assembly members were asked a month ago to gather information in their constituencies.

“We have not given any resources to do it,” he admits. “No resources in terms of vehicles or whatever.”

Instead, the committee will focus on an “education campaign”, speaking about the issue on the radio and elsewhere in public.

A lack of resources characterises much of government’s efforts in upholding the Children’s Act.

Kwaku Agyemang Duah, head of Community Care programmes with the Regional Department of Social Welfare, says the department has about 30 officers at its disposal. It needs a minimum of 80.

They also need a shelter for kids with no homes. The nearest one is four hours away in Accra, the country’s capital. And even if there was a shelter, they would need funds for feeding children as well as general maintenance.

“We present a budget every year,” he says, “but what comes out of it is a different story.”

Duah points to his office as a microcosm of the department’s financial straits. The floor looks like a warehouse. He has a desk and a filing cabinet and some rickety chairs. He has no computer and no office phone. The regional director’s office next door is only marginally better.

“I see it as a problem in developing countries,” says Peter Twineboa-Kodua, the regional director at the department. “We have not gone so far to look at the development of the individual as a human resource. Other (government) agencies on the financial side, they get everything they want. You can see their target. But child health, you cannot see the target.”

Unencumbered by bureaucracy, the Mercy Foundation has been able to make strides in addressing the problem. In the days before oil, when child labour was more a result of parents migrating to Ivory Coast to work in those fishing communities, they ran a school that involved 400 at risk children. It was funded by a World Bank grant that ran dry in 2004.

Smaller donations make other projects possible, however. Children have been re-integrated into the government schooling system. Those who were too de-institutionalised were taught vocations.

Four low-cost devices that chlorinate water at the source | News | Engineering for Change

man holding phone

This prototype of a manual ball valve chlorine doser is a cheap and effective way to chlorinate jugs of water. Photo credit: Erik Hersman (whiteafrican/Flickr)

By the numbers, we’ve seen the devastating effect that untreated water can have on developing communities. Worldwide, 2.2 million people die from waterborne illness, and most of them are younger than 5 years old, the World Health Organization reports. Small doses of chlorine can save lives and reduce a disease burden of parasites that keep people home from work and school.

Dosing water with chlorine at a well or stream or wherever it is collected is a low-cost fix for communities that don’t have treated tap water in the home. In communities where women gather water in buckets, however, measuring the proper chlorine dose can be a challenge and a nuisance. In response, a handful of innovators around the world have developed working prototypes of low-cost, automatic chlorine dosers.

Here, we report on some of those designs. Like the designs themselves, this article is a work in progress. We’ll update it as we gather more information.

Ball-valve chlorinator
In rural Kenya and Guatemala, two similar manual chlorine-dosing devices are in use. The non-profit organization Innovations for Poverty Action developed the concept.

IPA’s doser holds a chlorine supply that is protected from the sunlight to keep the chemical from breaking down. The residents place their bucket or jug under a spigot on the device and turn a valve to release a measured dose. The dosers cost $60-90, which, along with monitoring, IPA finances through donations that it collects. According to IPA’s research, people are using them.

Cheaper ball valves
IPA’s device is affordable and effectively doses water at the source. But, apparently, the design could be cheaper and more durable. In 2009, Engineers at the International Development Design Summit in Ghana tested IPA’s design and looked for ways to improve it. They found that IPA’s metal stands rusted and broke down within one year, and that tweaking the valve design could make it cost less.

Instead of metal stands, the IDDS team experimented with bamboo. After three weeks, they found insect holes bored into the bamboo stands. We don’t have longer-term test results, yet.

The IPA device’s valve is an import from the United States and costs more than $20. The IDDS team replaced it with a cheaper, modified PVC ball valve made from locally available materials.

To make it, they glued a 3/8″ sheet of dense rubber to the inside of a normal, 1/2″ PVC ball valve. The rubber sheet divides the valve’s central chamber in half, and each half has a volume of 1ml. Then the team cut off the lock on top of the valve so that the handle can rotate a full 360°. Chlorine in a plastic bag funnels into the valve’s chamber so that each turn of the handle releases about 1ml of chlorine. The DIY valve costs less than $2, plus some elbow grease, the IDDS team reports. Meg Harper, a student at Humboldt State University in California, was on the IDDS team and reported the findings to IPA.

Another member of the IDDS team, Ruben Sanchez-Fernandez, continued to field test the ball valve in Guatemala. He left a prototype in a village and has plans to follow up on its performance, he told E4C.

Now, a third member of the IDDS team, Killian Deku, is producing educational materials about the ball-valve doser in two languages for Ghanaians. Some examples are online: Making Safe Water with Chlorine and Producing Chlorine to Make Safe Water. He makes and sells the devices for communal or private use.

siphon doser

The automatic level-sensing doser chlorinates varying amounts of water, without electricity or many moving parts. Image courtesy of Killian Deku

Automatic Level-Sensing Doser
In their field research, the IDDS team saw that people collect water in containers of different sizes. In response, they developed a device that can measure appropriate amounts of chlorine for each quantity of water. They called the prototype the Automatic Level-Sensing Doser. We’ll give a brief explanation of it here. However, it “was a rough prototype, and we’ve since evolved past it,” says Laura Stupin, a member of the IDDS team who is working on a different design, the automatic siphon doser, below.

To operate the ALSD, the user pours water from their bucket into a reservoir in the device. A container of chlorine is above the reservoir, and a narrow tube descends from the reservoir’s bottom up into the chlorine container. As the water fills the reservoir, it pushes air up the tube into the chlorine container. That pressurizes the container and forces chlorine out of a nozzle and down into the water reservoir. The chlorine drip shuts off when the pressure equalizes in the container. That way, each dose is tailored to the exact amount of water in the reservoir. The user then turns a valve in the reservoir to drain the now-chlorinated water back into the bucket. The IDDS team’s prototype demonstrated the concept, but it was imperfect, the team reported.

siphon doser

The automatic siphon doser chlorinates a continuous flow of water, like that found at a borehole, without electricity or many moving parts. Image courtesy of Killian Deku

The automatic siphon doser
A third design, the automatic siphon doser, draws on some of the same concepts used in the ALSD, but it tries to automate the process even more. It also treats a continuous flow of water so it can work at a borehole. Roughly explained, a user pumps water into the doser’s reservoir, the rising water forces chlorine from a container, and when the now-chlorinated water hits a fill mark, it drains out automatically.

The prototype cost $20 for materials and labor in India. It worked without electricity and had no moving parts except for the chlorine container, which rotated for filling. Each batch was 7.5L of water with 1ml of chlorine, discharged through a 2″ pipe.

Stupin and Suprio Das, who was also on the IDDS team, are applying for a patent for the doser in India. Das is now field testing the device in a village near Calcutta. Until they secure the patent, they won’t offer more details about the device’s design.

Electrified at the source
The IDDS designs require no electricity to operate. But the trade-off is that they need a chlorine supply. In her investigation with IDDS, Meg Harper found that chlorine was usually available in the communities that could benefit from a doser. But, in cases when it isn’t, and just for simplicity, another chlorinator design can make chlorine and dose water with the push of a button. It does, however, require batteries.

The Smart-Electrochlorinator 200 releases table salt into untreated water in its container, then zaps it. The electricity separates the NaCl molecules, producing chlorine. It can treat up to 200L of water and requires a 12-volt battery that can work for 40,000L. The device costs $100 and is in manufacture and field testing now. It is a project by PATH, an international development non-profit organization.

Stay tuned
We will update this report with contacts and (we hope) designs and other details as we get them.

Resources
International Development Design Summit in Ghana
The Smart-Electrochlorinator 200
Suprio Das
Making Safe Water with Chlorine
Producing Chlorine to Make Safe Water

Interesting and eye opening.

Gilad Atzmon: Israeli Economy For Beginners

We learn from the press and  political analysts that, against all odds and in spite of the global financial turmoil,  Israel’s economy is booming. Some even suggest that Israel is one of  the strongest economies around.

‘How come?’ you may ask; besides maybe avocado, oranges, and some Dead Sea beauty products, none of us has actually ever seen an Israeli product on the shelves. They don’t make cars; nor do they make electric or electronic appliances, and they hardly manufacture any consumer goods. Israel claims to be advanced in high-tech technologies but somehow, the only Israeli advanced software ever to settle within our computers have been their Sabra Trojan Horses.  In the land they grabbed by force from the indigenous Palestinians, they are yet to find any lucrative minerals or oil.

So what is it? How is it that Israel is impervious to the global financial disaster? How can Israel be so rich?

Israel may be rich because, according to the Guardian, “out  of the seven oligarchs who controlled 50% of Russia’s economy during the 1990s, six were Jewish.” During the last two decades, many Russian  oligarchs  have acquired  Israeli citizenship. They also secured their dirty money by investing in the kosher financial haven; Wikileaks has revealed lately that “sources in the (Israeli) police estimate that Russian organised crime (Russian Mafia) has laundered as much as US $10 billion through Israeli holdings.”[1]

Israel’s economy is booming because mega swindlers such as Bernie Madoff  have been channeling their money via Zionists and Israeli institutions for decades.[2]

Israel is ‘doing well’ because it is the leading trader in blood  diamonds. Far from being surprising, Israel is also the fourth biggest weapon dealer on this planet. Clearly, blood diamonds and guns are proving to be a great match.

As if this is not enough, Israel is also prosperous because, every so often, it is caught engaged in organ trafficking and organ  harvesting.

In short, Israel is doing better than other countries because it runs one of the dirtiest- non -ethical economies in the world. In spite of the Zionists’ initial promise to bring about a civilised ethical Jew, Israel has, instead, managed to develop an outstanding level of institutional  dismissal of international law and  universal values. It operates as a safe haven for money made in some horrendous global criminal activities. And it employs one of the world’s strongest army to defend the wealth of just a few of the wealthiest Jews around.

Increasingly, Israel seems to be nothing more than a humongous  money laundering haven for Jewish oligarchs, swindlers, weapons dealers, organ traffickers, organised crime and blood diamond traders.

Such a realization can  certainly explain why Israel is totally impervious to social equality within its borders.

Poor Israelis

Since Israel defines itself as the Jewish state, one may expect the Jewish people to be the first to benefit from their country’s booming economy. This seems to be not at all the case. In spite of the economy’s strength, Israel’s record on social justice is appalling. In the Jewish state 18 families control 60% of the equity value of all companies in the land. The Jewish State is shockingly cruel to its poor. As far as the gap between rich and poor is concerned, Israel is listed right at the top of the scale.

The meaning of all of that is pretty devastating; though Israel operates as an ethno-centric  racially orientated, tribal setting, it is proving to be totally careless of the members of its own tribe — In fact, in the Jewish state, a few million Jews are serving the darkest possible interests, the fruits of which, are to be enjoyed by just a very few rich  villains.

Smoke Screen

But there is a deeper and far more devastating meaning implicit within it all.  If my reading of the Israeli economy is correct, and Israel is indeed a monstrous cash haven for the dirtiest money around,  then the Israeli Palestinian conflict is , at least, from the Israeli-elite’s perspective ,  nothing but a smoke screen.

I hope that my readers and friends will forgive me for saying it —  I hope that I will  forgive myself for saying it — But it seems to me that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel’s horrendous crimes against the Palestinian people, actually serves to divert attention away from Israel’s complicity in some colossal and global crimes against vast populations around the world.  Instead of addressing the above relentless greed-driven attempt to grab wealth on the expense of the rest of humanity, we are all focusing on a single territorial conflict, that actually brings to light just one devastating criminal side of the Jewish national project.

It is more than likely that the vast majority of Israelis also fail to detect the deceitful role of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The Israelis are indoctrinated to look at every possible issue from a national security perspective. They have failed to realise that along the intensive militarization of their society, their Jewish state has become a money laundering haven and a refuge for villains from all over the world.

But here is some bad news for Israel and its corrupted elite.  It is just a question of time before the Russians, Americans, Africans, Europeans, all of humanity, begin to grasp it all — We are all Palestinians and we all share one enemy.

I would even take it further, and argue that it is possible that, not before too long — some  deprived Jews and Israelis will also begin to realise how deceptive and  sinister  Israel and Zionism truly are.


[1] For more information about global organized crime connections with Likud or other major Israeli political parties. Please follow this link http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/topic.php?tid=147

[2] Also, it is rumoured that, prior to its collapse, Lehman Brothers transferred 400 billion dollars to Israeli banks. I am not in a position to substantiate any of these theories — but I would strongly suggest that it is of some urgency to find out how truthful these accusations are.

So, the right wing idiots in the US are so concern about the lives of innocent unborn children that they want to pass a law forcing doctors to let the mothers die if they have to choose between the child and the mother.

In most such cases, it has been up to the doctor and the family of the woman to make that hard choice. But not any more, the unborn child is so sacred that it is OK to kill the mother to save it. I can’t call it anything other than BS. Not even the crazy mullahs of Iran would come up with such STUPID logic.

Protecting Life? New Bill Says Its OK to Let Women Die | CommonDreams.org

Protecting Life? New Bill Says Its OK to Let Women Die

by Jodi Jacobson

One hundred members of Congress (so far) have cosponsored a bill introduced by far right Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) called the “Protect Life Act.” (Check here to see if yours is one of them.)

They want to “protect life” so much that they have written into the bill a new amendment that would override the requirement that emergency room doctors save every patient, regardless of status or ability to pay.  The law would carve out an exception for pregnant women; doctors and hospitals will be allowed to let pregnant women die if interventions to save them will kill the fetus.

Yesterday, according to a report by NARAL Pro-Choice America, lawmakers inserted the  new provision onto page six of H.R.358, a bill that is already jam-packed with misogynistic anti-choice and anti-woman provisions.

According to the Congressional Research Service, HR 358:

  1. Amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to prohibit federal funds from being to used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services. (Currently, federal funds cannot be used for abortion services and plans receiving federal funds must keep federal funds segregated from any funds for abortion services.)
  2. Requires any qualified health benefit plan offered through an Exchange that includes coverage for abortions to also offer a qualified health benefit plan through the Exchange that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions.
  3. Prohibits a federal agency or program and any state or local government that receives federal financial assistance under PPACA from requiring any health plan created or regulated under PPACA to discriminate against any institutional or individual health care entity based on the entity’s refusal to undergo training in the performance of induced abortions, require or provide such training, or refer for such training.
  4. Creates a cause of action for any violations of the abortion provisions of PPACA. Gives federal courts jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of such provisions by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including injunctions and orders preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased. Gives standing to institute an action to affected health care entities and the Attorney General.
  5. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive and investigate complaints alleging a violation of PPACA abortion provisions.
  6. Requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to ensure that no multistate qualified health plan offered in an Exchange provides coverage of abortion services.

But for good measure and just to make sure we all understood the deeply misogynistic underpinning of today’s Republican party, the new language would allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care when necessary to save a woman’s life.

“Anti-choice politicians have gone from redefining rape to denying abortion care to women who will die without it,” Keenan said. “When it comes to attacking women’s freedom and privacy, these politicians know no bounds. This debate is just getting started. Any member of Congress who has signed his or her name to this agenda must be held accountable for such extreme attacks against women’s reproductive-health services.”

This bill effectively turns all hospitals into arms of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  In other words, your health care is now fully subject to fundamentalist religious ideology.

The so-called Protect Life Act is one of a slew of pieces of legislation that seek to effectively ban abortion in the United States, establish personhood of fertilized eggs, and outlaw contraception.

In short: Fertilized eggs are people; women are not.

Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief, RH Reality Check