Bad Red

Bad Red

As vaccinations surge in the western world, and sputter or haven’t even started in the developed world, we got a preview yesterday of the travel/tourism battle between the haves who want to travel to the have-nots’ paradises. Let’s hope it settles down fast.

Masterful statistics forced the UK several days ago to “red list” Kenya, effectively banning all visitors between the two countries.

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Covid Conservation

Covid Conservation

Wild animals and wildernesses are seriously endangered by the pandemic … not from disease, but from humans.

Poaching is increasing worldwide… not as in the past for black-market animals, but for food. Equally important communities worldwide are reducing their support for wildlife conservation, because wildlife authorities are ignoring the increasing human/wildlife conflict.

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Corona Africa

Corona Africa

America, wake up.

“There is no shortage of lab tests [for coronavirus] in Africa,” Rosanna Peeling, chair of diagnostics research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told South Africa’s Fin24 a few hours ago. Stated, yet still hard to believe.

But because of this perception together with the widely exposed negligence of America managing the virus, Americans have been banned from South Africa and Kenya as of last night.

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OnSafari: Zanzibar

OnSafari: Zanzibar

I can wallow under a giant rain shower or soak in a bathtub even larger than the 19th Century four-claw tub at my home.

Our hotel housekeeper constantly refills our 4 2-liter bottles with purified water for more than just basic drinking needs, and plenty for our massive tea or coffee consumption. This is the Zanzibar Park Hyatt where each guest on average uses 30 times more water than the average Zanzibari.

EWT and other foreign guests wouldn’t come here were it otherwise. But it isn’t sustainable and many progressive Zanzibaris are growing increasingly vocal about it.

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Hand IT Over

Hand IT Over

Can you imagine the day when Jamie Dimon’s yacht is taken away from him by a socialist port authority? Or better, when that cottage on the lake you only used a couple times last summer is expropriated by the local county?

Yesterday’s decision in South Africa to proceed with changing the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation shows the desperation that societies which have progressed too far down the path of income inequality will go for recompense. Better watch out. It’s coming soon to your nearby authority.

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African Kidnapping

African Kidnapping

Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance eclipsed an historical moment over the weekend in Tanzania: Tanzania now has as many high profile kidnappings as Nigeria.

Four days ago two purportedly “white” kidnappers allegedly staked out a high profile gym in the main city of Dar-es-Salaam before sunrise. When Africa’s youngest billionaire arrived for his morning workout, they stiffed him into a car, shot widely into the air and sped loudly and defiantly away.

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Hunger

Hunger

There are simpler, more horrid facts to explain the world’s relatively recent embrace of populism and authoritarianism than income and gender inequalities or climate change.

Hunger.

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OnSafari: Unmasking Mascarenes

OnSafari: Unmasking Mascarenes

PortLouisI’m in Mauritius, defined by geography, pirates and free money. I flew in from its much larger and much poorer cousin, Reunion, and the contrast between the two couldn’t be greater.

The ideological and even moral divide between these two main Mascarenes Islands are as great as the political divisions around the world between the right and the left, and one is forced into concluding that in a relatively short time, only one will still be standing.

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Jailing Jared

Jailing Jared

Boke GuineaExcept for bribes, dirty deals and billionaire arrogance, Guinea would be one of the most prosperous places on earth.

Any steel around you? Driving a car? Probably wouldn’t without Guinea. How about aluminum? Do you use aluminum foil after dinner? Not without Guinea! So how come Guinea is the ninth poorest country in the world? Too many Piggly-Wiggly sales?

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World Poverty Day

World Poverty Day

worldpovertydayToday is the World’s Poor Day. Oh, sorry, I mean World Malaria Day.

There’s nothing – no war, no geopolitical area, no language, no country club, no store or slum or club or crime gathering of persons that so starkly defines poverty as malaria. It’s easily cured and if cured often and widely enough, it’s effectively controlled. That’s why so much attention is given it: it’s something easily done, which isn’t.

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News

News

farawayplaceFrom the outside a big place looks small. From the inside a small place looks big.

The Dallas police shootings, the massacre of protestors in Zimbabwe, the shooting of Alton Sterling, the kidnaping of British tourists in Somalia … what really is the difference?

Last night I collapsed on the couch and flipped on the TV. “Breaking News” about more shootings and … I turned it off. That was wrong. If we blindly run away from troubling things, troubling things will take us down.

Americans concerned with the security of traveling abroad have to realize this morning that foreigners feel more threatened traveling here than Americans feel traveling there.

The more important issue – a heartbreaking one – is why all this happens, anyway, not something as seemingly incidental as whether violence should alter your vacation plans. But violence isn’t usually willy nilly. It certainly wasn’t in Dallas last night or for that matter inside the car of Philando Castile several nights before. It takes organization to place snipers in the right spot or to snatch a tourist from a market in Lamu.

After centuries of discussion it seems that most violence is linked to inequity. Violence would be immeasurably reduced, in my view, if the wealth of the world were spread around little bit more.

Violence wouldn’t end, just as greed and lust for power will never end. But if hunger and want is even just a little bit reduced, if we take the butter knife and just spread that hunk of wealth a little bit more around, violence will subside. Everywhere. This is as certain for Kenya as Baltimore.

So that’s not going to happen tomorrow.

But you can read the news. You don’t have to – as I did – turn off the bad news on TV. Tomorrow you can get on a plane and fly to Paris.

The need for all of us to leave our shells is greater than ever before. It’s the only way we can begin to understand the barriers of difference which keep us from reaching equitable compromises with one another.

It’s the only way we can learn to tolerate differences and to recognize that our schema for living is no better or worse than a thousand others. With a little bit of travel outside your comfort zone you’ll discover that the similarities with those you considered foreign are much greater than the differences. Everyone wants to be happy. No one enjoys being hungry or sick.

Most of all everybody reacts to someone else’s suffering with an immediate desire to help alleviate it. However instantaneous or momentary that feeling of generosity might be, that’s what separates us from the rest of the animals of the world, empathy.

We dare not lose that.

It’s no sadder a time in America this morning than in Kenya or South Africa. The tragedy of any event collapses into its own place which seems very small and far away and very toxic to those on the outside.

We need to muster the courage to pry open those distant spheres. Realize that we all share the same awful level of sadness because we all share the same problems, human problems. We can all help one another.

After last night’s events I felt like crawling back into bed. When actually it’s time to continue packing for the next excursion, one that for many Americans might need be no more distant than Dallas or St. Paul, and for all of us means just not turning off the news.

One For All

One For All

richandpoorHave you noticed? Income inequality is a hot issue. Ok, try this one. How many billionaires’ net worth equals half the rest of the world?

14000? Maybe be bold and guess 765?

How about… 62.

Kenyan commentator Rasna Warah called this yesterday “a new extreme.”

It’s tough enough when a Kenyan realizes that his country’s entire GDP isn’t even as great as Chicago’s, but inequality like this converts disbelief into abject anger.

It’s no longer a matter of understandable time, time for development, time for industrialization. The collection of wealth among a few individuals has occurred with lightning speed.

In 2010 it was 388 individuals. Five years later, it’s 62, despite the fact that the world’s overall economy has grown substantially in those five years.

The collection of wealth in so few hands is terrifying.

“In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night, we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake,” Oxfam’s chief executive told the Guardian newspaper.

It is the respectable organization Oxfam that published the report several weeks ago.

I find it equally terrifying that I wasn’t able to learn about this from my own media. This strikes me as absolutely astounding: A commentator in Kenya that brought it to my attention.

It’s impossible to presume any logical fairness created this division. It’s just not statistically possible. Even 62 Big Blues would not be able to corner the market or coral capitalism to this level of advantage.

Oxfam, and I, believe it is structural within capitalism, and this is the reason that capitalism needs regulation. We’ve gone through a period of hyper deregulation, and this is the result.

More than $7.6 trillion of wealthy individuals’ net worth is held in off-shore tax havens.

On the one hand you can’t begrudge a wealthy person making herself wealthier. But the loopholes that allow this to occur, allow it to be freed of taxation, is often the result of the wealthy directing politics.

“These elites and über-rich individuals — and often their corporations — exploit the system for personal benefit in a way not possible for the rest of us,” one South African publication claims.

The ability of the wealthy to now direct history is mind-blowing.

Thanks to some Kenyans for letting me know. Clearly it’s not something the 62 want announced just yet.

But when is the horrible question.