The F Word

Remind me to visit the staff of Radio Netherlands and buy everyone at The State We’re In a drink. Week in and week out the crew produces excellent audio programs on topics related to human rights and human wrongs.

In their latest program they hit yet another homerun with a segment that just reached out and grabbed me; forgiveness.

While I was raised in a fairly religious family, I myself don’t have a religion, nor do I want one.  But one of those lessons many religions seem to try to teach people, is the importance of forgiveness.  Throughout the world there are so many terrible conflicts… and when these conflicts end… if they are really to end.. forgiveness seems to me a very essential stage.  Yet after many conflicts you don’t often see that many truth and reconciliation processes.

In their latest program, The State We’re In speaks with someone from the Forgiveness Project, which is all about understanding and inspiring forgiveness. And later in the program they go to a park in South Africa, know as Freedom Park, which is dedicated to the idea of forgiveness; a place where people (victim or perpetrator) can tell their stories and make amends.

I highly recommend you listen to this segment, and the program in general. If there’s one thing the world could use more of, it is forgiveness.

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bm246 Podcast Sources

During my recent appearance on Yeast Radio I was asked about where I get my information, in terms of podcasts. In an effort to recommend and share my sources for reporting about the world and a wide range of issues, this program is a list of what I listen to and why.

The links to these podcasts can be found among my podcast links in the blogroll, which can be found in the menu bar to your right. Remember these are not just the podcasts I listen to, they are those that I look to for reporting on issues that have a global impact. Below are a few that I mention that are not in my blogroll.

International Herald Tribune Audio News

Americablog Podcast

On The Media

Mixed Greens

The State We’re In / Amsterdam Forum; from Radio Netherlands

Hispanorama from RNE

La Bas Si J’y Suis

TSF Pessoal e Transmissivél / Sinais

Deutsche Welle

ABC Radio National’s Background Briefing / All in the Mind


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Dutch Parties Shrinking

I’m fascinated by associations, groups, unions, fanclubs… well maybe not fanclubs.  But if there is a group of people dedicated to something, and they have meetings and membership cards, I’m interested in learning about them.  And it is even more compelling if they’ve been around for awhile.

Here in the Netherlands, for example, It seems there has been a tradition of people being not only supporters of a political party, but actually card carrying members.  I realize this happens in many countries, but it is not often that I hear the numbers or that someone comes forward and says “Oh Im a card carrying member of the Sloth Party.”

Today I read about how membership numbers for political parties in the Netherlands is shrinking.  A very interesting, though not at all surprising, development.   As with every passing election voters grow tired of one party and turn to another, and then grow tired of that one and turn to yet another, or they go back to the previous one maybe.  And despite all their voting efforts, these parties continue to disappoint and generally do things that people don’t agree with.. even their own party members.  So why continue to be a member of a party that never seems to represent you and they said they would.

The numbers in the Netherlands are as follows:

  • Christian Democrats (party of the prime minister) – 69.200 members
  • Labor Party  – 59.327
  • Socialist PArty – 50.238
  • Liberal PArty – 36.832
  • United Christians – 27.683
  • Green Left – 21.901
  • Animal Party (yes!) – 6972

Note that I skipped a few parties because I don’t feel like describing them, though they would be located at the bottom of the list.  Furthermore the populist-far-right Freedom Party has no membership, yet you can bet plenty of people vote for them they would just prefer not to have any evidence linking their vote back to themselves.

In the end I think the way people think of elections has changed.  Instead of wanting to be a member of a party, and going to meetings and trying to influence party policies, it starts to resemble a menu in a restaurant… you choose what looks like it would be good. And if you dont like it, you spit it out, or choose something else next time.  Unfortunately there is no equivalent, besides leaving the country, of “going to another restaurant cause this one is bad”.  Then again like so many citizens, you could go on a hunger strike.

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BioFuel and Food

The topic of biofuels is not always my favorite to talk about. It is complex, it is a very grey area when it comes to benefits versus drawbacks.

Yet overall as someone who supports social justice, sustainability, human rights, and cleaning up the mess we have made of the world, I welcome the era of biofuels that we seem to be at the beginning of.

Among the great points of the big debate is the issue of world hunger and the price of food. As many of you will know by now, there is a great deal of speculation and already some evidence that food prices will go up because so much food is being turned into fuel. Many critics say, this is the problem if we make the global focus bio fuels.

The initial issue I have with this argument is the idea that world hunger will worsen and that food prices will increase. It is a fact that IF the leaders of the world wanted to, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. But when you introduce the politics and economics of food production, that food never reaches the hungry. So this is already a problem no matter what we’re using to fuel vehicles.

Then comes the issue of rising food prices, a much tougher one for me get into since I’m neither a farmer nor can I see the future in terms of prices. I do however believe that governments could cooperate to make sure prices would not get out of control. Again it requires that they WANT TO solve the problem, and based on history it is clear that ending hunger is NOT the priority of world leaders.

Of course there’s alot more to it and I hope to build on this discussion through both writing and podcasts. For now I want to recommend the latest edition of The State We’re In; specifically a conversation they have with a Brazilian farmer that, for me, is very interesting and informative.

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