Ecuador: Constitutional Reform to Empower the People

constitutional reform ecuadorChanges contained in the amendments will be shared widely with the Ecuadorean public before being debated in the National Assembly.

The commission of the Ecuadorean National Assembly responsible for reviewing the proposed amendments to the constitution approved Friday a report that will move forward the debate on the amendments in the Assembly.

juan carlos casinelli ecuadorThe President of the commission, Juan Carlos Cassinelli, (photo) a member of the ruling Alliance PAIS party, said the proposed amendments “seek to empower and give greater guarantees to the Ecuadorian citizenry.”

In order for constitutional amendments to be approved, they must be debated in the National Assembly twice, with 12 months separating the debates. One important stipulation made by the commission is that within those 12 months the content of the amendments must be widely shared at a national level.

In the preparation of the report, the commission spoke with 32 distinct political and social actors in the country, including several ministers, government officials, as well as elements of civil society.

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Evo Morales Opens Summit of G-77 + China on Natural Resources

bolivia g77 nov 2014The G-77 + China will meet this weekend in Bolivia to analyze issues regarding economic development and the management of natural resources. Bolivian President Evo Morales addressed the summit attendees citing the changes implemented in Bolivia, such as the nationalization of the country’s natural resources. 

Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated the G-77 + China summit Friday in the city of Tarija.

Evo morales 8Morales welcomed world leaders and expressed the need for international dialogue about experiences regarding the management of natural resources. The Bolivian leader also shared anecdotes of Bolivia’s experience nationalizing hydrocarbons and transforming the South American nation’s economy and political accountability.

Ministers of mining and hydrocarbons from participating nations will be in attendance to discuss their countries’ management of natural resources.

Nationalization of natural resources was a political demand of social movements

Morales began with his own history – transitioning from a union leader to president – highlighting the ways nationalization of natural resources was a political demand of social movements.

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UN Urges US to Stop Police Brutality

The United Nations Committee against Torture detailed its concerns over systematic violence against black communities and prisoners.

Claudio GrossmanThe U.N. Committee against Torture urged the United States Friday to investigate and prosecute police brutality and shootings of unarmed black youth. The U.N. also advocated limited use of taser weapons.

michael brownThe panel’s first review of the U.S. record on preventing torture since 2006 followed protests across the country this week after a grand jury decision not to charge officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The U.N. also mentioned deep concerns regarding “numerous reports” of police brutality and excessive use of force against people from minority groups, immigrants, lesbian and gay people and the use of racial profiling. The panel also referred to the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

“We have certain concerns about whether investigations are thoroughly completed and whether punishment of law enforcement (officers) when they have crossed the line are effectively put in place,” said committee member Jens Modvig.

The committee also denounced “excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” for prisoners during “botched executions” as well as frequent rapes of inmates, shackling of pregnant women in some prisons and extensive use of solitary confinement.

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New York Times journalist visits Granma

• Ernesto Londoño, a member of the New York Times’ editorial board, visited Granma’s offices and conversed with staff, during the afternoon of November 24

KARINA MARRÓN GONZÁLEZ

new york times journalist visits granma internationalErnesto Londoño (left) in Granma’s national newsroom, with journalists Lissy Rodríguez (back to camera) Karina Marrón (center), and Sergio Gómez (right), with Editor Pelayo Terry (far right). PHOTO: Juvenal Balán

I admit that, given my usual daily rush, I had thought better of writing about the visit to Granma’s offices by Ernesto Londoño, a member of the New York Times’ editorial board, leaving the job to someone else among the many who conversed with him. Nonetheless, so many people were asking about it, after seeing his Twitter posts, I decided to make an attempt to summarize the main topics we discussed, over the course of two hours.

It was a transparent dialogue, although journalists well know that such conversations are always accompanied by a kind of personal thermometer, or instinct, with which we are constantly evaluating our conversation partner. At least that is how it is for me. You are attentive to the questions, their introductions, the tone… Londoño revealed himself to be a sharp interviewer, a journalist who I admired, and no doubt learned from, since the interview genre is precisely the one I most “respect.”

He first inquired about the survey recently published

He first inquired about the survey recently published in the pages of our daily, and the way in which the information gathered might impact changes in the paper. This was an opportunity to explain to him the steps which have been taken to change our beloved “yacht” – including the new web page, with the provision of space for comments, and our work on social networks – as well as the decision to continue providing this option in the printed edition, changes in information distribution, and, above all, in content.

The survey is the final element of a study of our readership, which is critical to our ability to make decisions, without doing so blindly. Who reads our paper? What are they looking for? What would they like to read? In other words, clues which allow us to not simply imagine what’s good or bad in what we are doing, but rather to have a clearer idea, closer to reality.

He inquired about how we are challenged by the plurality of voices on the web

Londoño then inquired about how we are challenged by the plurality of voices heard on the web, despite limited access to Internet in our society. Websites, digital publications, blogs, social networks… ensure that information is not the exclusive property of the media.

We talked about this and shared experiences, occasions when the web had become a primary source of information… the times a blog uncovered a subject, the competition and interaction which is naturally developing.

Giving the public more participation via the publication of letters on Fridays; providing the option for comments on the web page; conducting online interviews – and then publishing them in the printed edition, so that the information reaches those who do not have Internet access; have been ways to coexist with the virtual world, with much more to be done.

Differences with the US press model

Of course we talked about Cuba’s press, and differences with the U.S. model, in which he, after all, exercises his profession.

… Differences will always exist, since in the first place, we are talking about our social mission in the service of society, upon which our model is based, which might make the music young people listen to a cause for concern and reflection here, while in other places these issues are seen as a question of interfering in individual freedoms.

The dialogue flowed toward the interests of capital and its impact on the media’s agenda, on criticism and investigative reporting. This was a moment in which we shared some points of view, and – despite the professional gaps, the race to address Cuba’s diverse, controversial and profound public agenda – without overlooking the Cuban people’s high level of education – we showed that our media are not as spineless as we are presented.

This trip to Cuba is part of this necessary preparatory work

He didn’t say any more about the NYT editorials beyond what he has said in other interviews. He is one of the editorial board’s 19 members, who meet three times a week to discuss topics, debate and ask questions… This trip to Cuba is part of this necessary preparatory work, which often involves meeting various figures in society, intellectuals, government officials, and bloggers.

We drank coffee, toured our very modest facilities and workplaces. He even left with a book on the history of efforts to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations (De la confrontación a los intentos de ‘normalización’. La política de los Estados Unidos hacia Cuba) by Cuban historians Elier Ramírez Cañedo and Esteban Morales Domínguez.

Next week there could be another chapter in this story, and I promise not to wait, and to write.

Source: New York Times journalist visits Granma   Granma International

Uruguay Runoff Elections Sunday

What is in store for a post-Mujica South America? TeleSUR takes a look at the run-up to Sunday’s elections. 

tabare vazquez 2Tucked away in a corner of South America, tiny Uruguay, with its approximately three million inhabitants, may be wedged between the giants of Brazil and Argentina, but under two successive Broad Front (FA) governments, it has not allowed its larger neighbors to steal its limelight.

After a whirlwind presidency, Jose Mujica uruguyan presidentJose Mujica, known as Pepe to Uruguayans, has to step down as Uruguay’s leader. Presidents there are only allowed to serve one five-year term at a time, although they may stand again in the future, so Mujica is hoping to pass the baton back to his party-mate Tabare Vazquez, who served immediately before him as president from 2005-2010.

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The Other Side of Ebola: It Is Preventable

by Tamara Pearson/TeleSUR

2 November 2014 

Ebola, because of the way it is easily transmitted and that it kills, is a scary disease. However, the media, through disinformation and information omission, has blown that fear out of proportion. With a few basic steps at a personal level and on a larger scale, Ebola can be prevented, with no need for such alarm and sensationalism.

  1. Raise awareness of symptoms and procedures

It is important to only focus on symptoms, and not a person’s country of origin or where they look like they are from. Decisions to isolate, to ground a plane and so on, should be based on rationality, and information not discrimination.

Ebola is spread by contact with infected body fluids of someone with active symptoms. It is not an airborne disease. Its symptoms include: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained haemorrhage like bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear two to 21 days after exposure.

The methods for raising awareness can be creative, such as this mural

ebola mural

  1. Provide training, protective equipment, and sufficient health infrastructure.

Hospitals, both in the US, Europe, and in West African countries, need sufficient protective equipment, and nurses and doctors need specific training in how to recognize and treat Ebola. The U.S. National Nurses United says it doesn’t have enough protective equipment and is demanding Obama enforce the provision of uniforms, national standards and protocols. “Not one more patient, nurse, or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness,” states the union.

Spain EbolaAll those regions also need decent, basic, free health care. With that, outbreaks are easy to treat and prevent. According to a Lancet report by Ranu S Dhillon, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, Jeffrey Sachs, and co., 60 to 90 percent of untreated patients in the West African countries die, while effective medical care would reduce that rate to below 30 percent. When healthcare is free and of high quality, people don’t wait until the symptoms get worse (and more contagious) before seeking attention.

  1. Invest in vaccines, instead of luxury, for profit medicine and surgery

ebola vaccineAccording to a document by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, mass production of Ebola vaccines would cost US$73 million for 27 million doses. GlaxoSmithKline has a vaccine in development, likely ready for trials by early next year. The sad fact is though, almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a 100 percent effective vaccine to the Ebola virus. Health officials were excited, but testing on people never happened and the vaccine sat on a shelf, because the medicine did not, and does not, have a profitable market – namely, at the time the few hundred people affected were from third world countries.

The World Health Organization has also confirmed that “several hundred thousand” vaccines will be produced in the first half of the year, but these should have been available Continue reading

Cuba to Release Cholera Vaccine by 2015

Cuban medical research continues to prove to be one of the most effective in the world.  It is guided by effective preventive approaches and not a pharmaceutical model that is profit-driven

cuba to release cholera vaccine by 2015Cuba will release a new preventive vaccine against cholera in 2015, a state-owned pharmaceutical group who developing the drug announced Sunday.

Gustavo Sierra Gonzalez, the Vice President of the BioCubaFarma told the daily Juventud Rebelde that the clinical trials had been very successful, and that the proper health registration for the drug is expected to come next year.

Gonzalez said that the Cuban population would be vaccinated and that the drug would also be hand to the World Health Organization (WHO) for global use.

We will start protecting the whole population of the country

“Starting 2015, we will start protecting the whole population of the country and we are already prepared to increase its production to export it to other nations, including delivering it to the WHO,” he added.

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