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No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics - Review by Stephen McCloskey

Naomi Klein has served the development sector well with sharp insights and ground-breaking analysis that has helped us better understand how today’s increasingly de-regulated, corporate-driven global economy is ploughing the world toward record levels of social and economic inequality.  Earlier this year, Oxfam reported that eight billionaires own as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity (2017) and, last year, Credit Suisse estimated that the ‘the wealthiest top 10 percent own 89 percent of all global assets’ (2016).  So, we are witnessing grotesque levels of wealth concentration in fewer hands which makes the election of a celebrity billionaire vulgarian as president of the United States look less like an aberration and more like an inevitability.  Indeed, one of the strongest assets of this book is its clear-eyed analysis of how Trump came to be elected and Klein spares no criticism of the soft and hard left in the United States (US). 

The Poor Are Paying The Price

We keep hearing that if we let the free market do its thing, everybody would benefit. However, a closer look at India and its politics reveals that the 'partnership and commitment' promoted by the G20 are but symbolics. India's nature and the poorest of its people are being exploited to the benefit of, who would have guessed, multinational corporations. We need to realize that the free market is, against all expectations, not fixing things for everybody

Israel’s Ten Year Economic Siege of Gaza has Created a Humanitarian Crisis

The tenth anniversary of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip has been marked by a glut of new reports from human rights organisations alerting the world to a deepening humanitarian crisis in the territory.  Perhaps the starkest warning has come from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in suggesting that ‘a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending’.  What distinguishes this crisis from the disasters and emergencies that normally push civilian populations to the edge of catastrophe is that it is not the result of a hurricane, flood, tsunami, drought or famine but the calculated policy of the Israeli government.

Moving Beyond Charity: How the Centre for Global Education’s Schools’ Programme is Challenging Traditional Attitudes to Development

The Global Learning Programme

Global Learning is taking root in schools in Northern Ireland and reaching new levels of classroom practice thanks to a four-year formal sector initiative called the Global Learning Programme (GLP).  Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the Centre for Global Education, the GLP has the ambitious target of increasing and improving delivery of global learning in 50 per cent of grant aided primary, secondary and special schools in Northern Ireland at Key Stages 2 and 3.  More specifically, it seeks to support schools to embed global learning as regular practice across curriculum subjects and through a whole school approach.  Central to this embedded practice is ensuring that teachers have the relevant knowledge, skills and resources to integrate global learning into their classroom teaching in all subject areas and through whole school collaboration. To support this embedded practice, the Centre has designed a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for teachers which has become the centre piece of the Global Learning Programme and main driver of its success.

Brexit, Trump and Development Education

Stephen McCloskey argues that the social and economic inequalities that have fed the growing popular disconnect with mainstream politics manifested by Brexit and Trump, demand more from education.  He suggests a wider adoption of the radical, participative, empowering and action-oriented educational approach of Paulo Freire.

The political systems on both sides of the Atlantic have been subjected to seismic quakes and perpetual uncertainty following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) by referendum in June 2016 and the election of Donal Trump as president of the United States (US) in November.  Political commentators have been left scratching their heads in determining how these events came to pass and what Brexit plus Trump actually means for us all.  Brexit and Trump have been bracketed together in this debate because similar factors seem to have played a part in their outcomes.  They include the mutually professed political affinity of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, the dominant voice in the leave campaign during the referendum.  Both are popular nationalists who made political capital from platforms that sought a reclamation of a perceived lost sovereignty and promotion of protectionism to restore lost economic lustre.  They positioned themselves as outsiders shaking up the failed political establishment and appealed to communities in deindustrialised regions like Tyneside and Pennsylvania that felt abandoned by the political elite.  The economist Thomas Piketty found evidence of this decline in the United States (US) with new research showing ‘that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50% has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1% have grown 300%’.  And in the UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found in 2014-15 that 13.5 million people or 21 percent of the total population were living in low-income households; a proportion that has barely changed since 2002-03.

Brexit demands more Development Education: The International Development Sector should take heed

The international development sector met the news of the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) with a collective groan.  There had been dire warnings before the vote on what Brexit would mean for the sector and Britain’s influence on multilateral aid and development policy decisions made by its European partners.  These arguments failed to gather any real traction with the public and NGOs suggested that this was largely due to regulatory guidance published by the Charity Commission in England and Wales concerning their participation in the referendum which amounted to the gagging of an important constituency in a crucial debate.  

But would the free and full participation of the international development sector and wider network of NGOs have made any real difference in the Brexit debate? A Charity Commission research report published earlier this year suggests that overall public confidence and trust in charities has fallen to 5.7 (from 6.7 in 2015) out of ten. 

Global Inequality has reached its worst level in a Century: It’s time for an economy for the 99%

A startling picture of global inequality has been presented by Oxfam in a new report which finds that just 62 billionaires control as much wealth as ‘the bottom half of humanity’; a staggering 3.6 billion people.  In a trend pointing to accelerating economic polarisation, the one percent (62 people) has increased its wealth by a massive 44 percent since 2010 while the collective wealth of the bottom 50 percent dropped by a near identical 41 percent or $1 trillion.  This is largely due to a stagnation of incomes among the bottom half of the world’s people who have received a paltry one percent of the total increase in global wealth since 2000.  According to Oxfam, these trends point to a world ‘with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century’ and cast serious doubt on the outcomes of the 15 year international effort to cut global poverty by half; the Millennium Development Goals.  With the United Nations’ agreement last September on another 15 year development process to 2030 comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goal s (SDGs) backed up by 169 targets, development practitioners everywhere should seriously reflect on the SDGs’ capacity to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’. 

One Year on from ‘Operation Protective Edge’ Gaza is Teetering on the Brink of Economic Collapse

Time has stood still in Gaza over the past year.  Since the end of Israel’s third war on the territory in six years – dubbed Operation ‘Protective Edge’ – the people of Gaza have seen precious little of the $3.5bn pledged in aid to rebuild Gaza’s civilian and commercial infrastructure.  Chris Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in April that eight months after the conflict ended ‘not a single home has been rebuilt’ (Global Research, 25 August 2015).  A total of 12,400 housing units were destroyed in the conflict and more than 100,000 people internally displaced.  

From MDGs to SDGs: We Need A Critical Awakening To Succeed

This is an important year for international development with big implications for how we approach future efforts toward poverty eradication.  An Oxfam report published in January 2015 showed that a small elite (1 percent) controls nearly as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of the world’s population. After 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the eight targets agreed in 2000 to harness global efforts toward reducing extreme poverty – appear to have done very little to arrest inequalities in wealth accumulation and distribution.  Around one billion people still live on less than a $1.25 a day and more than 800 million people don’t have enough food to eat.  

SWAT Teams, Stereotypes and Solidarity: Dealing with Ebola

You can probably best judge a country by its response to a crisis.  In the case of Ebola, President Obama has called for the deployment of SWAT Teams within 24 hours to any hospital in the United States reporting a new case of Ebola.  Is this the best way to respond to a medical crisis?  As The Observer has suggested: ‘western governments have appeared more focused on stopping the epidemic at their borders than actually stemming it in west Africa’.  Britain, for example, has set up enhanced screening for Ebola at its main airports but these measures appear unlikely to stop the spread of the disease which can be carried for up to three weeks before symptoms are exhibited. 

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