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Dammed Rivers Create Hardship for Brazil’s Native Peoples

(IPS) – The Itaparica hydroelectric power plant occupied land belonging to the Pankararu indigenous people, but while others were compensated, they were not. They have lost land and access to the São Francisco river, charge native leaders in Paulo Afonso, a city in northeastern Brazil.

“We can no longer eat fish, but the worst loss was that of the sacred waterfall where we celebrated religious rites,” chief José Auto dos Santos told IPS.

Nearly 200 kilometres downriver, the Xokó indigenous community suffers from low water flow, the result of the large dams that have eliminated the regular seasonal rises in river level of the São Francisco, making it impossible to cultívate rice in the floodplains as before and drastically reducing the fish catch. read more

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Hawks for humanity

Source: Al Jazeera
Does the human rights industry adore war?

The human rights industry does a lot of noble work around the world. And yet many of the field’s most prominent figures and institutions have lately taken to vocally endorsing acts of war. Where does this impulse come from? On what grounds is it justified? And how’s the hawkish stance working out, given a decade of strategic and humanitarian debacles for Washington and its allies?

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and one of the country’s most celebrated human rights advocates, certainly doesn’t shrink from military action. She has supported missile strikes on the Syrian government as well as Washington’s participation in the Libya war and has called for strong-arming U.S. allies into sending more soldiers to fight in Afghanistan — all in the name of human rights, of course. Harold Koh, a former dean of Yale Law School, is best known for his scholarly work on human rights law and the War Powers Act — yet he devised the legal rationale for both Obama’s open-ended drone strikes and the war on Libya. And Michael Ignatieff, a former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party and Power’s predecessor as director of Harvard Law’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War. read more

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Haiti’s Women Need More Than a Trickle of Aid Money

Source: The Nation

Preventing further sexual and economic violence will require a more equitable distribution of resources within the country and the hemisphere.

It’s been four years since Port-au-Prince collapsed, and Haiti’s women are still working through the damage—both physical and mental—left by the catastrophic 2010 earthquake and its aftermath. The cameras and reporters have gone, but the twinned scourges of violence and exploitation continue to haunt Haiti’s ruins.

In the days after the January 12 earthquake, as survivors flooded into cramped displaced people’s camps, sexual assault emerged as a second wave of trauma in the devastated capital city. Though violence against women had been prevalent long before the quake, the disaster left women deeply vulnerable, with little security in the shelters and already-anemic legal protections for victims obliterated. Four years on, despite initial media coverage of Haiti’s “rape epidemic” and overtures of legal reforms, the crumbled social infrastructure has left victims with little recourse and bleak futures. Aid money has washed in and out, but now the spasm of global compassion has ebbed into a stream of predatory “development” schemes. And still, the social fabric continues to corrode under the pressure of entrenched global inequalities, both within the country and across the wealth divide between Global North and South. read more