Om ikke lenge pøses 7000 tonn papiravfall ut over det ganske land. Jepp, vi snakker om den fortidslevninga som går under navnet “telefonkatalogen”.
Å si at tida har gått fra papirutgaven av telefonkatalogen, vil være noe i retning av decenniets understatement. Etter at den farlege verdsveven blei allemannseie har papirkatalogen blitt en stor, tung og klossete dinosaur som raserer skog og har en svært uheldig effekt på omgivelsene¹. Dessverre nekter beistet å dø. Ifølge Naturvernforbundet går sju av ti utsendte kataloger rett i søpla. Likevel fortsetter Telenor – med samferdselsministerens velsignelse – å spy ut uønska papiravfall til det norske folk.
Heldigvis er det fortsatt mulig å reservere seg mot søpla, men det begynner å haste. I Oslo og Akershus er fristen for reservasjon 19. November². Selvfølgelig burde det strengt tatt ikke være nødvendig å reservere seg mot et produkt man aldri har bestilt. Selvfølgelig burde det være sånn at bare de som bestiller telefonkatalogen får den tilsendt. Likevel – eller kanskje nettopp derfor – er det viktig at så mange som mulig reserverer seg. Hvis mange nok reserverer seg, vil det ikke bare kutte ned på årets avfalsmengde og dermed spare miljøet på kort sikt. Det vil også være et sterkt signal om at dagens ordning er gått ut på dato. Vil du spare noen trær? Reserver deg i dag!
¹ I tilfelle metaforen er litt uklar: Omgivelsene = miljøet. Det er selvfølgelig svært miljøfiendtlig å bruke tremasse, strøm, trykksverte, (fossilt) drivstoff og andre ressurser på å produsere og distribuere ei svær, tjukk bok til en masse mennesker som uansett bare kaster den rett i søpla.
2 Frister for resten av landet finner du hos VGnett.
After 8 long years of Bush and the Republicans, the US and the world finally have a fresh start.
Time will show whether George W. Bush will be remembered as the worst president ever, or just one of the really horrible ones. However, seen from the Eastern shore of the Atlantic, Bush has been a disaster. 8 years of Bush has not only done great internal damage to the USA, but also dealt a devastating blow to American interests abroad and the relationship between the US and the rest of the world, and made the world in general a worse place to live.
I cannot speak for the African and Asian communities, let alone the American voters, but it is a well known fact that Europe has been desperate for a real change in the White House ever since Bush was elected. Norwegians, at least, believe – or want to believe – that Obama can be that change.
Can we believe in change?
Change, and the need for it, has been the cornerstone of Obama’s campaign since the very beginning. With taglines like “Change we can believe in” and “Stand for change”, Obama has focused as much on what he is not as on what he is. He is not Republican, he is not George Bush, he is not Four More Years. If we are to believe Obama and his supporters, he is Change.
Alas, politicians have a tendency to forget their taglines and campaign promises once victory is secured. Of course I am relieved that Obama won the election, and that the Republican siege of the White House is finally over. However, I cannot get rid of this nagging suspicion that Mr. Change might pretty soon turn out to be more like Mr. Same, same, but different.
I really, really hope that Obama will make good on his promises to sign a strong global treaty on climate change, close Guantanamo, end torture and fight poverty. However, I cannot quite bring myself to believe that he really will. I guess it cannot hurt to remind him that the world expects him to stand by his campaign commitments to
- Reduce the US’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol
- Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe
- Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center
- Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS and Malaria
- Open diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions
- Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur
- Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015.
Update: Three steps in 100 days
On Wednesday November 12, Amnesty International launched their 100 days campaign. Since 9/11, the U.S. government has committed grave human rights violations in the name of countering terrorism.
Amnesty International claims that Obama must take important steps to end this assault on human rights immediately after taking office. There is much to be done, but for the 100 days campaign, Amnesty is focusing on three crucial actions Obama needs to take within 100 days after taking office:
- announce a plan and date to close Guantánamo;
- issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law;
- setup an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the US government in its “war on terror”.
Do not doubt the power of your action.The same grassroots energy that propelled Barack Obama to victory can now be the driving force behind America’s renewed commitment to human rights. On his campaign website, Obama asks us to believe, not just in his ability to bring about real change in Washington, but in our own ability to do so.
If you believe, in Obama and/or yourself, please remind him of his promises and sign the petition urging President-elect Barack Obama to demonstrate a commitment to human rights in his first 100 days in office. Let there be change!Photo: United States Senate / Wikimedia Commons
According to the Independent, an Afghan appeals court has quashed the death sentence imposed on Sayed Pervez Kambaksh for downloading information on women’s rights. However, the judges ruled that Kambaksh should serve 20 years in jail.
In January 2007, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a 24-year-old Afghan trainee journalist, was tried by religious judges without legal representation and sentenced to death after students at his university accused him of distributing material on women’s rights which “insulted Islam”.
During the appeals court hearing on 22 October 2008, one of the prosecution’s main witnesses, student Hamid Ali¹, withdrew his testimony against Kambaksh. According to CNN, Hamid Ali told the court he had been forced into making a statement against Kambakhsh by members of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and a professor.
The appeals court judges quashed Kambaksh’s death sentence, but instead sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Kambaksh’s lawyers insisted that this decision was unconstitutional and should be overturned by the country’s supreme court, as the appeals court had the power to uphold or set aside the death sentence, but no right to “arbitrarily” impose a jail term.
- The first thing I am going to do is challenge the 20-year sentence. This court had no right to impose that. This will take another few months, but at least they are not going to hang him and we now have time, said Mohammed Afzal Nuristani, one of Kambaksh’s lawyers.
Kambaksh himself had been hoping to be freed by the appeals court, but was nevertheless very relieved by the fact that he is no longer facing the death sentence.
- Hearing the judge say that long sentence was very surprising, but I now just want to continue with the legal cases and, hopefully, I’ll get freed, he told the Independent.
Strong support for Kambaksh
While religious fundamentalists may want to see Kambaksh dead, the support for the young student is strong, both in Afghanistan and abroad. Even the head of the jail where he is being held, General Taj Mohammed, has told the Independent that it was “very wrong” to sentence Kambaksh to death and that he should be freed as soon as possible.
Amnesty International appealed for Kambaksh to be freed as there are no legal grounds for either his conviction or his sentence, and Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists even described the new sentence as “a step backwards for freedom of expression [in] Afghanistan”.
Hopefully, Kambaksh will not have to spend the next 20 years in prison. The massive support for Kambaksh gives reason to hope that he will soon be freed, either as a result of the international pressure, or through the actions of the Afghan Supreme Court.
- What happened [at the appeals court] was because there are still extremist people in this country who want us to stay at a dark time. The trial was very unfair and they came to a decision which all the lawyers tell us is illegal. We hope the Supreme Court will now take the right course and Pervez will be freed one day soon, Kambaksh’s brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi told the Independent.¹ Or Hamid Nabil? Afghan flag: Andrew Duhan / Wikimedia Commons
In preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities introduced new and more relaxed reporting rules for foreign journalists. On 17 October, just 15 minutes before the official expiry of the temporary rules, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced new regulations that “follow the major principles and spirits of the media regulations introduced for the Beijing Olympics”.
Les mer på norsk hos NRK.
The “Olympic” rules grant foreign journalists the right to move about freely in most of the country and conduct interviews without having to request permission in advance from the authorities. The exception is Tibet, for which special permission will still be needed.
- An effective liberalization policy implies real respect for the rights and interests of foreign journalists. These principles should apply at the local level, press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders state on their website.
A step forward
Since the relaxed rules were introduced in January 2007, they have been repeatedly violated by Chinese authorities. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) has been notified of 336 cases of interference in the work of foreign journalists since January 2007, ranging from surveillance and denial of access to arrests and physical attacks
The FCCC still welcomes the new rules.
- If properly implemented, we believe this will mark a step forward in the opening of China’s media environment, club president Jonathan Watts said .
- We urge the government to ensure that police and local officials respect the spirit as well as the letter of the new rules, he said, echoing the concerns of Reporters Without Borders.
Paying the price
Both organizations are also concerned about the confidentiality of journalists communications with sources, and the fate of Chinese journalists and interpreters employed by the foreign press is still precarious.
- The easing of controls for foreign journalists should not be achieved at the expense of putting more pressure on local sources, Watts warned.
Freelance writer Yang Tongyan is one of many Chinese writers, bloggers and journalists paying a heavy price for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The pro-democracy activist is currently serving 12 years in prison for ‘subversion’, for his writings in support of political and democratic change in China.
Amnesty International considers Yang Tongyan to be a prisoner of conscience, and the organization is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Sign the petition to free Yang Tongyan here!
On 10 October 2008, World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) calls on all citizens around the world to take action to end executions in Asia.
Every year on 10 October, citizens, national and international institutions and NGOs respond to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s appeal and rally to oppose the death penalty. This year, the Coalition has decided to focus on Asia. According to the Coalition’s website, a recent study estimates that 85 to 95% of all executions take place in Asia. While 27 Asian countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, 14 countries continue to carry out executions.
For the 6th World Day Against the Death Penalty, the WCADP has chosen to focus on six of these 14 for an appeal: India, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam. The Coalition calls on the Japanese government to end secrecy surrounding the death row inmates and the application of the death penalty, demand that the Pakistani government guarantees their citizens the right to a fair trial, and urges the Vietnamese president to reduce the number of offenses punishable by death. The WCADP campaign also calls on the governments of India, South Korea and Taiwan to declare moratoria on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
Even if you do not read this on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, please take the time to sign the petition. It might very well save qute a few lives.
Article 47 of the Egyptian Constitution is supposed to guarantee free expression. In reality, however, bloggers, journalists and Internet activists still risk prison and torture for speaking or writing about religion or the president.
While the Egyptian Constitution is supposed to guarantee free expression, several other provisions of Egyptian law render this so-called guarantee meaningless.
- Article 80(d) of the Penal Code imposes a prison sentence of up to five years on any Egyptian who “carries out any activity aimed at damaging the national interest of the country.”
- Article 98(f) of the Penal Code imposes up to five years in prison for any person who “disparages or belittles any divinely revealed religion.”
- Article 102 of the Penal Code allows for the detention of “whoever deliberately diffuses news, information, data, or false or tendentious rumors, or propagates exciting publicity, if this is liable to disturb public security, spread horror among the people, or cause harm or damage to the public interest.”
- Article 179 of the Penal Code allows for the detention of “whoever affronts the President of the Republic.”
Suppression of expression
While the Egyptian government and juridical and law enforcement systems do not take neither the constitution or freedom of expression too seriously, they are all too zealous when it comes the suppression of expression.
In late 2005, Egyptian authorities began what Human Rights First calls a campaign against bloggers and journalists. This assault on free expression continued in 2007, with the detention and sentencing of several bloggers and journalists, including the editors of four independent newspapers.
Abdul Kareem Nabil Suleiman is probably the best known of the Egyptian bloggers become prisoners of conscience. On February 22nd 2007, the 23-year-old blogger, known as Kareem Amer, was found guilty of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak, and sentenced to four years in prison. According to Human Rights First, his physical condition has deteriorated significantly during his time in prison, due to harsh treatment by both prison guards and other prisoners.
Mosaad Suleiman Hassan (a.k.a. Mosaad Abu Fajr) used his blog called “Wedna Ne`iesh,” (“we want to live”) for discussing issues faced by Egypt’s Bedouin communities. Abu Fajr was arrested on December 26, 2007, reportedly in connection with a sit-in by members of the Bedouin community near Rafah City.
Mohamed Refaat was arrested on July 21, 2008, after reporting to state security to retrieve a computer seized by security officers during an early morning raid from his home. Among the accusations Refaat reportedly faces are that he used his blog to incite a strike. Although state security decided to release Refaat, another division within the agency’s investigative branches has continued to detain him under Egypt’s Emergency Laws.
Freedom of expression is a phrase that sure looks good in a constitution. However, for the people of Egypt, it remains just that; words on a piece of paper. Freedom of speech means freedom for the speakers, and until Egyptian bloggers, journalists, editors and activists are allowed to express themselves freely, the Egyptian constitutional “guarantee” of freedom of speech is nothing but a rather offensive joke.
Let the Egyptian authorities know what freedom of speech really means. Sign the petition to free Kareem, Abu Fajr and Refaat.
UPDATE: According to Amnesty International USA, Musaad AbuFajr was released on 14 July 2010. However, Kareem Amer is still in prison. I do not know whether Mohamed Refaat is still in prison. Can anyone inform me about his current whereabouts?
Strekninga Oslo-Ski har lenge vært den trangeste flaskehalsen – eventuelt den tetteste proppen – i jernbanenettet på Østlandet. Et nytt dobbeltspor mellom Oslo og Ski vil derfor gi et bedre togtilbud både lokalt, regionalt og til utlandet.
I dag kjøres det langt flere tog på strekningen mellom Oslo og Ski enn det egentlig er plass til. Resultatet er forsinkelser, kanselleringer og hurtigtog som blir stående og vente bak saktegående lokaltog. Flaskehalsen bremser dermed ikke bare togene på Østfoldbanen, men trekker ned tempoet i hele det sentrale Østlandsområdet, noe som til syvende og sist får konsekvenser for det meste av togtrafikken i, til og fra Norge.
Ingen løfter fra regjeringa
Modernisering og oppgradering av strekninga Oslo S-Ski (også kalt Follobanen) har tidligere vært inne i Nasjonal Transportplan for 2009-2019, men er siden tatt ut igjen. Regjeringa vil heller ikke love noe skikkelig løft for Follobanen med det første.
- Det er et stort etterslep på vedlikehold som har blitt forsømt i mange år. Det krever mye penger å holde skinnene på et brukbart nivå. Og dobbeltsporet mellom Oslo og Ski er et svært dyrt prosjekt, sier statssekretær Erik Lahnstein (Sp) i Samferdselsdepartementet til Dagbladet.
Lahnstein peker på at det er viktig å fullføre allerede påbegynte prosjekter, som for eksempel strekninga Lysaker-Sandvika. Som pendler er jeg mer enn enig i at det er ekstremt viktig å få fortgang i arbeidet på denne strekninga, men det er ingen unnskyldning for å forsømme Follobanen. Siden mange regiontog går gjennom hovedstaden (for eksempel toget fra Moss til Spikkestad) vil utbedring av strekninga Oslo-Ski få store og positive virkninger også for oss på den andre sida av fjorden. Follobanen er dermed et investeringsprosjekt som vil komme hele Østlandsområdet – og dermed hele landet – til gode.
Nå har Østfoldingene fått nok av regjeringas investeringsvegring. Under et åpent folkemøte i Ski den 18. august blei en tverrpolitisk aksjon for Follobanen sparka i gang. Aksjonen, som har fått det megetsigende navnet navnet Dobbeltsporet, har som mål å samle 20 000 underskrifter til støtte for nytt dobbeltspor Oslo -Ski innen 6. oktober.
Er du blant de mange pendlerne som daglig benytter det sterkt overbelasta jernbanenettet på Østlandet? Eller kanskje du er blant de mange som på grunn av jernbanens kapasitetsproblemer velger andre og mindre miljøvennlige transportmidler? Er du blant dem som ergrer deg over høye bensinpriser eller bekymrer deg over klimaendringene? Er svaret ja på et eller flere av disse spørsmålene, bør du straks skrive under på kampanjen for nytt dobbeltspor Oslo-Ski.