Sunday, September 18, 2011
I went to Dadaab, Kenya last month with INTERNEWS to assess communication needs in the world's largest refugee camp complex. 70% of new arrivals said they need more information about how to access the aid available to them. Communication gaps like this put lives at risk...but timely, accurate and well-targeted information has the power to SAVE LIVES.
Learn more by watching our YouTube Video:
Download and Read the final report here: Serious Communication Gaps at Camps for Somali Refugees are Putting Lives at Risk
More photos available here: Somali Refugee Crisis in Dadaab, Kenya
Posted by m. at 1:34 PM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
By SIMON ROMERO
PORLAMAR, Venezuela — On the outside, the San Antonio prison on Margarita Island looks like any other Venezuelan penitentiary. Soldiers in green fatigues stand at its gates. Sharpshooters squint from watchtowers. Guards cast menacing glances at visitors before searching them at the entrance.
But once inside, the prison for more than 2,000 Venezuelans and foreigners held largely for drug trafficking looks more like a Hugh Hefner-inspired fleshpot than a stockade for toughened smugglers.
Bikini-clad female visitors frolic under the Caribbean sun in an outdoor pool. Marijuana smoke flavors the air. Reggaetón booms from a club filled with grinding couples. Paintings of the Playboy logo adorn the pool hall. Inmates and their guests jostle to place bets at the prison’s raucous cockfighting arena.
“The Venezuelan prisoners here run the show, and that makes life inside a bit easier for us all,” said Fernando Acosta, 58, a Mexican pilot jailed since 2007. His cellmate, a Congolese businessman, had hired him to fly a Gulfstream jet that prosecutors accuse them of planning to use for smuggling two tons of cocaine to West Africa.
It is not uncommon for armed inmates to exercise a certain degree of autonomy in Venezuela’s penitentiaries. Prisoners with BlackBerries and laptops have arranged drug deals, abductions and murders from their cells, the police say, a legacy of decades of overcrowding, corruption and insufficient guards.
But San Antonio prison, renowned on Margarita Island as a relatively tranquil place where even visitors can go for sinful weekend partying, is in a class of its own.
The island itself is a departure point for drug shipments into the Caribbean and the United States, and the traffickers arrested here often end up in this prison, effectively overseeing life behind its walls with a surreal mix of hedonism and force. Some inmates walk the prison grounds grasping assault rifles.
“I was in the army for 10 years, I’ve played with guns all my life,” said Paul Makin, 33, a Briton arrested here in Porlamar for cocaine smuggling in 2009. “I’ve seen some guns in here that I’ve never seen before. AK-47s, AR-15s, M-16s, Magnums, Colts, Uzis, Ingrams. You name them, it’s in here.” CONTINUE READING:
NY TIMES ARTICLE: Where Prisoners Can Do Anything, Except Leave
NY TIMES VIDEO: Venezuela's Prison Paradise
Posted by m. at 5:43 PM
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Another Side of Tilapia, the Perfect Factory Fish
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
AGUA AZUL, Honduras — A common Bible story says Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, which scholars surmise were tilapia.
But at the Aquafinca fish farm here, a modern miracle takes place daily: Tens of thousands of beefy, flapping tilapia are hauled out of teeming cages on Lake Yojoa, converted to fillets in a cold slaughterhouse and rushed onto planes bound for the United States, where some will appear on plates within 12 hours.
Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia last year, four times the amount a decade ago, making this once obscure African native the most popular farmed fish in the United States. Although wild fish predominate in most species, a vast majority of the tilapia consumed in the United States is “harvested” from pens or cages in Latin America and Asia. CONTINUE READING HERE.
NYT Video: Cultivating Dinner
NYT Photo Slideshow: A Once-Obscure Fish Takes Center Stage on Americans’ Plates
Full Edit on MeridithKohut.com: Honduras Tilapia Farming
Posted by m. at 4:58 PM
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
By SIMON ROMERO and MARÍA EUGENIA DÍAZ
CARACAS, Venezuela — Architects still call the 45-story skyscraper the Tower of David, after David Brillembourg, the brash financier who built it in the 1990s. The helicopter landing pad on its roof remains intact, a reminder of the airborne limousines that were once supposed to drop bankers off for work.
The office tower, one of Latin America’s tallest skyscrapers, was meant to be an emblem of Venezuela’s entrepreneurial mettle. But that era is gone. Now, with more than 2,500 squatters making it their home, the building symbolizes something else entirely in this city’s center.
The squatters live in the uncompleted high-rise, which lacks several basic amenities like an elevator. The smell of untreated sewage permeates the corridors. Children scale unlit stairways guided by the glow of cellphones. Some recent arrivals sleep in tents and hammocks.
The skyscraper, surrounded by billboards and murals proclaiming the advance of President Hugo Chávez’s “Bolivarian revolution,” is a symbol of the financial crisis that struck the country in the 1990s, the expanded state control over the economy that came after Mr. Chávez took office in 1999 and the housing shortage that has worsened since then, leading to widespread squatter takeovers in this city.
Few of the building’s terraces have guardrails. Even walls and windows are absent on many floors. Yet dozens of DirecTV satellite dishes dot the balconies. The tower commands some of the most stunning views of Caracas. It contains some of its worst squalor.
“I never let my child out of my sight,” said Yeaida Sosa, 29, who lives with her 1-year-old daughter, Dahasi, on the seventh floor overlooking a bustling artery, Avenida Andrés Bello. Ms. Sosa said residents were horrified after a young girl recently fell to her death from a high floor. CONTINUE READING HERE:
NY TIMES Article: A 45-Story Walkup Beckons the Desperate
FULL PHOTO EDIT on meridithkohut.com: Skyscraper Squatters
Posted by m. at 6:11 PM