Kenya: time for a new approach after al Shabab Garissa attack

History repeats.

Kenya: 142 civilians dead.

Even writing about it is painful. As parents of the students at Garissa and the public in Kenya are mourning the dead in Easter vigils, they are likely to be feeling a mix of emotions.  One of them is anger.

A growing number of attacks have been perpetrated by al Shabab since 2011 on military targets, security forces, political figures and civilians in Kenya . And despite proclamations to the contrary by top Kenyan politicians, the media is saying that little has changed in the Kenyan government’s response.

But even more worrying than the public anger towards the slow response by the Kenyan security forces to the intelligence and the latest attack, is the growing communal tensions that al Shabab attacks are fueling. Unless the Kenyan government is visible in employing a different approach, the massacre at the university in Garissa and the government response  is likely to stoke the divides even further and contribute to the increasing marginalization of Muslim communities in the country.


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Will al Qaeda and violent extremism win as airstrikes continue in Yemen?


Yemen why we should care

This morning at least 29 people died when an IDP camp for Yemenis who had fled from their homes due to conflict was hit by an airstrike.

The Houthis blame the Saudi-Arabian led gulf coalition. President Hadi’s administration blamed Houthi fighters. Meanwhile, the airstrikes against Houthi bases which began wednesday after the Houthis  proceeded toward Aden have continued, with some commentators saying  a proxy war is being played out between the region’s and world’s powers.

We know who are the inevitable losers of this latest conflict- ordinary Yemeni people, many of whom are already impoverished. And there is already a winner emerging: violent extremist group al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, and potentially also ISIS.

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Feminist Alphabet Series

To continue our series in honor of  International Women’s Day, we are sharing select designs from the Feminist Alphabet Series from Grow Wild Studio that celebrate inspirational and important women in the world.

E is for Emma Goldman from the Feminist Alphabet Series
E is for Emma Goldman from the Feminist Alphabet Series

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

A is for Audre Lorde from the Feminist Alphabet Series
A is for Audre Lorde from the Feminist Alphabet Series

Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a Carribean-American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist. Her emphasis on revolution and change continues to be inspirational to women worldwide.

S is for Simone de Beauvoir from the Feminist Alphabet Series
S is for Simone de Beauvoir from the Feminist Alphabet Series

Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908 – April 14 1986), was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, and social theorist. Best known for her 1949 work, The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; she also wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiography and monographs on philosophy, politics and social issues.

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Women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence

 Co-Authored with guest blogger Alys Willman.


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women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence


On International Women’s Day, as we reflect on progress toward gender equality, there is cause for some celebration. In several important ways, women’s lives are changing for the better. There have no doubt been gains in women’s empowerment - such as increasing life expectancy, declining fertility rates and a growing number of girls enrolled in primary school.

But in many other ways women around the world remain vulnerable in a fundamental way- to the risk of violence and abuse.

  • Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime, according to country data available.
  • More than 1 in 3 women around the world have been subject to violence- including non-partner sexual violence and violence and committed in their own homes, by people they know.
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria .

Despite all our gains, women worldwide are still vulnerable to being attacked, raped, brutalized, abused, trafficked and killed. The subjugation and humiliation of women goes on.

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To mark International Women’s Day, we pay tribute to Liberia, which just five days ago announced itself free of all new cases of Ebola. Notwithstanding, in order for the Ebola crisis to be declared over, World Health Organization protocol requires no new Ebola cases in the country for 42 days.  Despite 37 more days of waiting before Liberia can declare itself Ebola free, it’s remarkable to reflect on the impact that Ebola has had on the country, not only from a mortality perspective, but the impact the disease has had on the economy, social structures, and individual family units.

Notably, statistics illustrate the effects that the disease has had on women. Since its outbreak, the World Health Organization reports there have been a total of 2828 women with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in Liberia. The statistic is shocking in the aggregate and even more disturbing when you look at individual cases such as the village of Joeblow, where the lives of all young mothers in the village were claimed by the disease.

Has the Future Economy arrived?

By Oakley Brooks,  Ecotrust








Has the Future Economy arrived?

You know, the one that will help us and the planet survive.

Couchsurfing. CSAs. Neighborhood energy. Local food clusters. Coops. Promising, hip business models are cropping up all around the country.

Do they constitute the new economy we all long for, the one people have been out in the street demanding—the one that delivers social and financial benefits broadly while restoring the environment? I certainly hope so. But unless we take a clear eyed-look at what’s really going on with these new innovations, we can’t know for sure.

That’s why a new round of research just out is hopeful. To better weigh the progress of innovative business models in the new economy, the E3 Network—a national network of economists focused on equity and environment—deployed researchers around the country to separate hype from reality.  Armed with an analytical framework developed by a national steering committee, these researchers looked deeply into how new business models function, what their impacts are, how scalable they are, and how replicable they are.

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Death of ISIS Hostage Kayla Jean Meull

This week, we received the unfortunate news of Kayla Jean Meull’s death. It’s the fourth murder of a U.S. hostage by the hands of ISIS.  The three others, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig, were beheaded by the group last year. There have, of course, been others– Jordanian military pilot, First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, among others.

For those who work in conflict zones, each of these casualties has been unnerving and Kayla Jean Muell’s shouldn’t be any different. But, to me, it feels different.  For me, Kayla’s death is a wake-up call—a reminder of the increasing number of attacks on humanitarian workers, with 296 workers killed or kidnapped in 2013, compared to 94 in 2003.  It’s a reminder that we cannot become immunized by the ever increasing twitter feed, live stream, You Tube showings of the horrific methods employed by the Islamic State on U.S. and other hostages.

Kayla Jean Muell spent a year and a half as a prisoner of the Islamic State and died at the early age of 26. According to statements made by Mueller’s family, she had been working with Support to Life and Danish Relief Council, two aid organizations working on the Turkey-Syrian border with Syrian refugees and felt this was her calling.

There will be others like Kayla Jean Muell. With attacks against aid workers in fragile states, where such violence is predominately driven by civil conflict (Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, among others), there will certainly be others. The statistics assure us that. But for today, we remember Kayla Jean Muell as a person, not a statistic, and her will—as told by her parents—to make a difference.