Travelling within France nowadays

For the last two years, the pandemic has generated frustration among people all over the world. In a time where our planet suffers from global warming due to pollution, the question of travelling, especially during holidays, remains a burning issue. 

In France, most households are aware of the emergency, therefore question their own living styles. 

Owning a car has become a liability for many, due to the cost of maintenance, gas, parking spots, highway fees although some people see it as a means to escape and feel free from their daily routines. 

The general tendency is that people have voluntarily decided to opt for a more responsible way of travelling. 

First, travelling by train has become more accessible over the past few years, with attractive fees for a good seat, and the connection to many important cities. Yet, there is a lot to be improved in terms of connection, as most of the railways are centralised in Paris, as far as the bullet train (TGV) is concerned.

Smaller train lines also make it possible to easily access mountain resorts or seaside beaches. 

Then, carpooling, although quite commonplace for decades, enables those on a budget to go wherever, while enjoying the company of other passengers as well as their drivers : Blablacar, a company that developed in the early 2010s became one of the top traveling platforms for the French, which aim was to reduce traffic on the highways.

In big cities, it is now possible to ride one’s bike on cycling tracks, yet, the latter topic actually places France on an ambiguous place regarding its actual desires to cut out its carbon emissions – Taking the examples of Paris and Lyon, most roads with two driveways that were specifically designed for cars were recently transformed into cycling tracks, leaving only one driveway to cars, ambulances, firetrucks… 

Such transformations have significantly impacted the possibility to drive by bicycle, yet, it has increased carbon emissions, as such transformations led to more traffic jams in and out of the cities. It also made it more complicated for firemen and ambulances to cross these areas and act on time. 

For two years now, the French opt out for a more sustainable and responsible holiday scheme. Flying becoming more expensive with the price of gas and oil inflation, is now – for most – out of question. People have re-discovered France because of the travelling bans during the pandemic and they want to re-discover it still. 

It is no doubt that such a trend spread all over Europe. It all depends on the effects of the pandemic, the Ukrainian war and the inflation in the world’s economy. Indeed, it does mean people will stop flying, since looking at an interactive live flight map, the sky is crowded more than ever.

The concern that arises then is that for now, people abide by economical issues, but once it gets resolved, will people keep up with travelling responsibly?

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

The Descent: What is life

When entertaining questions of an existential quality, it often helps to look inward. You see, I love mountain biking; It is a rough sport that is both thrilling and dangerous. It can be horrible: Getting caught in the rain on a windy afternoon, or climbing a hill in extreme heat. There is so much struggle in it: choosing your line, wondering what is to come, riding it out when it gets rough, making hard decisions, and committing even when you get scared. It can also be beautiful: The birds in the mountains, the wind in the treetops from a 100 mile vista, or the relief felt when reaching the top of the mountain and riding down in an exciting blaze.

There are a thousand tiny thoughts and little moments contained in a single mountain biking trip, all of which reflect the human spirit. In these many moments there emerges a state of mind, where you forget about everything that isnt the next rock, root, or bend. Joy and pain melt away into nothing. The focus is so intense, you forget where you are, what you are doing, or that you are even alive

This state had been described as “flow.” When the million little moments and thoughts melt together into one, singular experience. In mountain biking, it’s desirable; To temporarily forget our problems, obligations, and the many things constantly on our minds can be a relief. It is a vacation from ourselves. Yet when it ends, we get off the bike and move on to the next experience.

In life, when the ride ends, it ends.

In these moments of “flow,” it’s clear that life is not what we want to believe it is. It is not our feelings, worries, hopes, dreams, or whatever else. When we step outside our emotions, we see that we are simply an object moving through space, going from one place to the next. Plants do not have feelings, worries, hopes, or dreams. They are bound by this yoke, the inexorable journey toward death. Bound to the truth of objects moving through space.

Yet this is our gift, to be able to experience our passage through space and time. It is also our curse, and in life our concern with small day-to-day inconveniences, fears, anxieties, hopes, etc, are very similar to the flow of mountain biking. We forget that we are all on a ride down the hill. We move through space, until one day we will move no more.

So while the message of my story is rather tired, it is important to remember that life is a ride down a mountain. We can choose to remain caught in the mindless descent, worried about things to come. Or we can choose to have a moment of clarity, and appreciate our lives for what they are.

The various challenges of French Guiana

It is one of the French districts located in South America – French Guiana not only shares a border with Brazil and Surinam, but also a part of the Amazonian rainforest.

This rainforest covers 20,300 square kilometers, which roughly corresponds to a fourth of French Guiana’s total surface.

With the growing concerns for the preservation of the “lungs of the world”, due to intensive agriculture and deforestation in neighbouring areas, French Guiana has taken action to protect the forest and biodiversity including animals and communities living there. To do so, the authorities created the Amazonian Park of French Guiana in 2007, a year after this area was legally labelled as a French National Territory.

The measures taken since 2015 for the protection of this area include surveillance on the national park’s activities where police invigilates any suspicious and fraudulous activity such as gold panning and poaching.  

The national park is organized in a way that people are allowed to explore it and some areas are strictly protected to host living communities and protected species. I have had the chance to explore pathways in the forest of French Guiana where I could spot species I had never seen nor heard before. 

Indeed, people who go on these pathways are required not to litter, to avoid damaging the beauty of the place. Plants are also protected so cannot be plucked out. 

Recently, the local authorities have issued a document in order to decrease the use of hard copies for formalities, in favour of digital forms. 

Of course it raises the question of the existence of data centers, and even though awareness is raised regarding the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, the question regarding the protection of the ocean is also at stake.

Gold mining has remained an issue for the local populations. In effect, gold mining and gold panning have been performed in French Guiana since the 19th century in certain areas. In 2018, a project named “The Gold Mountain Project/ Le projet Montagne d’or”, a governmental project in the area of Saint Jean du Maroni, which consisted in extracting gold from a preserved area, was abandonned in May 2019 after associations of citizens including local populations living in the forest disagreed upon the matter. Such a project implies excavating the ground and deforestation, endangering ecosystems and local communities living in these areas. Still, the project was not completely left aside : a new project named “Esperance” has been voted for by the mining commission of French Guiana in April 2020. Local representatives of Indigenous tribes as well as associations such as WWF have voted and been fighting against it, yet the project is said to start in 2025. The surface to be excavated would correspond to 1,5 km and 300 meters deep. The process of excavation involves the use of dynamite and cyanure, both means being extremely lethal.

Sources : Guyane Soir, parc-amazonien-guyane.fr, Une Saison en Guyane by Guillaume Feuillet, www.la-croix.com by Pierre Garrigues on May 3, 2020, France TV Info, manufacture.paliens.org

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

THE ORIGINS OF THE FRENCH BAGUETTE

It is known all over the world : most people consider it as a typical attribute attached to what defines a French. The baguette, an oblong piece of bread made up of flour, salt and yeast (or baking powder), is an essential product on a French table. It is generally eaten to accompany dishes with gravy, cheese or used as a base in street food, such as sandwiches. 

Most people don’t really know how this product was invented, even the French themselves, but three hypotheses, which are still debatable, could actually justify its existence.

The first possibility is that, an Austrian baker, in the 1830’s, brought his Viennese speciality from his home country to Paris. But critics say it is unlikely, as the baguette is not only soft from the inside like the Viennoiserie, but crispy and crusty on the outside.

The second possibility was that, during the Prussian War, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte would try to find a way to feed the soldiers, preventing them from carrying heavy rounded loaves of bread called “miches”, which used to be unpractical to carry and bring to the soldiers. Once more, such a justification did not seem to be completely accurate according to cooking critics Mr Loïc Bienassis and Mr Steven Kaplan. 

At last, the most possible explanation provided was that it was made while the Paris Metropolitan was being created and where local people from different reagions of France had to work together. These workers were equipped with knives to cut their food, but they were also used in many of their riots. Because of such an issue, the baguette was seen as a solution not to use knives while eating : people could cut it by hand. 

The baguette was in very high demand from people of all social backgrounds, and it became part of the three daily meals. 

With the confinement, lots of French people have explored many ways to make their own. Bakers use bread as a base to create a broad palette of various flavours to satisfy their hungry clients from all walks of life.

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

Note: This article was made with the use of reports from France Culture (gastronomy) and a report from France 2, released on January 23rd, 2021. 

‘UNEDUCATING’ ON GENDER, THE PRESENCE OF OVERT SEXISM IN JAPANESE MEDIA

Sexism is defined as the belief that members of one sex are less capable, intelligent, able or skillful than the members of the other sex. Some examples of sexism could be, for example, stating that women are less qualified to occupy a certain job position than any other male candidate. Sexism does not take into account the real capacity of the individual; instead, sexism is biased, prejudiced and highly unrealistic.

Devaluing someone’s opinion on a topic whilst alluding to their gender condition, limiting the scope of choices of a person based on their gender, imposing sexualized dress codes and differentiated gender roles; stating that ‘men do not cry’, that women should exploit their femineity… all of these are manifestations of sexism and forms of gender discrimination. Combating these gender stereotypes and sexist behaviors is our responsibility as a society.

Yahoo! Japan published on the 23rd of October of 2020 the following article titled, which could be translated in English as ‘Just based on our gender, we are this different. 16 images that show the differences between men and women’

(Link to the article: https://article.yahoo.co.jp/detail/b639c8f4dbcb1ae2b8b995534c64a1655c88e483)

This article, published on one of the most popular news platforms in Japan, Yahoo! Japan, defends that ‘the way that we think is different depending on whether we are a woman or a man’.

Followed by this quite serious sexist statement, a series of internet memes and images portraying prejudices and gender stereotypes is presented.

‘Men are not good at cleaning up’, ‘they do not have as many connections on social media’, ‘women are scared of the tiniest insect whilst men are not afraid of big and strong elephants’ are some of the prejudices reinforced and spread on this popular news platform.

The article written by [Media to laugh] does not shield itself effectively under any kind of humoristic tone, as it does not warn the reader about any intended humoristic purpose, nor does it introduce the reader to any kind of fictional world. Instead, sexist statements are thrown in the form of generalizations and left behind for the most susceptible public to absorb.

The fact that a far-reaching news platform such as Yahoo! Japan publishes an article of this kind, that simply spreads gender discrimination and sexist stereotypes, as if they were general knowledge or had any true validity, suggests that the mission of this news platform this time has been one of rather disinforming and ‘uneducating’ the general public.

Written by Paula Fernández

BARCELONA: HISTORIA, ARQUITECTURA, COMIDA Y CULTURA

Nada como perderse entre los estrechos callejones medievales del Barrio Gótico (Ciutat Vella en Catalán) una noche de verano cualquiera. Allí, entre pequeños balcones y senderos empedrados se contempla el pasado histórico de más de 2,000 años de la antigua ciudad de Barcelona o Barcino, en latín, como bien se le conocía cuando fue colonia del imperio romano. Como prueba de ello se encuentra La Vía Sepulcral Romana, una pequeña necrópolis al aire libre que forma parte del Museo de Historia de Barcelona, y que está ubicada en la Plaza de la Vila Madrid. A unos cuantos kilómetros de distancia, se erige oronda la Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia de Barcelona, la cual alberga en su interior un jardín con trece ocas blancas que según la leyenda simbolizan la purificación e inocencia de la patrona de Barcelona, Santa Eulalia, la edad en la que murió, y los trece martirios que le fueron impuestos por no renunciar a su fé cristiana. Los cimientos de este imponente edificio gótico fueron construidos sobre las ruinas de una basílica paleocristiana, de la cual aún se conservan algunas reliquias bajo tierra para el deleite de turistas y amantes de la arqueología. Hoy en día el Barrio Gótico alberga un sin fin de bares para poder disfrutar el sabor de un buen vermut, restaurantes internacionales, mercados y tiendas artesanales de talla mundial. Es un punto clave de la ciudad en el que convergen en perfecta armonía los vestigios del pasado con la multiculturalidad enérgica del presente.

Barcelona es sin duda una ciudad cosmopolita con más de un millón de habitantes, en un perímetro de 101.9 Km2,  que la hacen por excelencia un verdadero centro de intercambio cultural tanto en la península Ibérica como en el resto de Europa. Es así como marroquíes, paquistaníes, chinos, rusos, británicos, peruanos y franceses, entre muchos otros, conforman el perfil de los colectivos más numerosos de la ciudad, según las cifras actuales del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona y del Instituto Nacional de Estadística. El Raval es otro de los barrios más diversos e interesantes de esta ciudad polifacética. En él yace la iglesia y a la vez monasterio más antiguos de Barcelona, Sant Pau del Camp, que se remonta aproximadamente al año 980 y que en 1879 se le reconoció como Monumento Nacional por su valor histórico y riqueza arquitectónica. Otra perla cultural del Raval es el inconfundible mercado público de La Boqueria, un lugar perfecto que se puede acceder desde La Rambla, para degustar una gran variedad de platillos locales dispuestos a complacer a los paladares más exigentes. Con una ambiciosa selección que abarca desde frutas frescas, carnes, vegetales, mariscos, vino hasta nueces y dulces, La Boqueria es la prueba fehaciente de la versatilidad gastronómica propia de la cocina catalana y española. Tal es el caso de las mariscadas, el suquet de peix, esqueixada de bacallà, los chipirones a la andaluza, las patatas bravas y el jamón ibérico, entre otros tantos. 

Y es que no se puede seguir hablando de Barcelona sin tener que remontarnos una vez más a su legado cultural y arquitectónico, pues además cuenta con la basílica más alta del mundo católico que se haya construido jamás, La Sagrada Familia de Antonio Gaudí. Una obra de arte aún sin terminar, gran exponente del modernismo catalán y de la fusión orgánica entre el arte gótico y el Art Nouveau, que majestuosamente se impone sobre el paisaje urbano del barrio L’Eixample. Miles de turistas viajan cada año hasta Barcelona para apreciar el arte incomparable de esta obra arquitectónica y del genio artístico que fue y seguirá siendo Gaudí. La basílica tiene por fachada una serie de esculturas religiosas que relatan pasajes bíblicos específicos, desde el nacimiento de Jesús hasta su posterior crucifixión. Al interior, se simula un bosque custodiado por columnas colosales que emulan ser árboles iluminadas por múltiples vitrales que proyectan un prisma de colores otoñales sobre el ábside. Un lugar único que debe estar incluido en la lista de todo trotamundos al visitar Cataluña. El modernismo catalán de Gaudí también se encuentra entre los mosaicos de estructuras orgánicas y naturales del Park Güell, la Casa Batlló y la Casa Milà, más conocida como La Pedrera sobre el famoso Paseo de Gracia que conecta L’Eixample con la Plaza Cataluña, entre otras tantas joyas arquitectónicas que adornan la ciudad.

Pasemos ahora a hablar sobre los festivales y eventos culturales que se celebran cada año en Barcelona. Entre ellos se destaca el festival de Sant Jordi (San Jorge) que se realiza el 23 de abril y el cual es el equivalente al día de San Valentín pero con un toque más cultural porque también es el día mundial del libro que conmemora a dos grandes de la literatura universal, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra y William Shakespeare. Las calles de Barcelona se llenan de estantes cargados de libros y de rosas con moños de colores para que tanto parejas como amigos puedan intercambiar flores y literatura, en un acto simbólico de celebración al amor y la cultura.

La noche del 23 de junio se celebra la verbena de Sant Joan (San Juan) en donde se hacen celebraciones masivas al rededor de hogueras acompañadas por comparsas en donde diablos y bestias danzantes arrojan fuego por la boca mientras bailan y animan a los espectadores. La noche se cubre con bengalas por el brillo intenso de los fuegos pirotécnicos y las llamaradas ardientes de las fogatas. Una festividad que une a las comunidades locales e invita a los turistas a ser partícipes de un mismo sentimiento colectivo de festejo y alegría.

Estas celebraciones también se extienden hasta las playas de Barcelona, en donde la música, el fuego y la  amistad se funden con la serenidad del mar en medio de la noche. Quedan numerosos detalles por fuera de este artículo que solo pretende dar un ligero esbozo de lo que implica experimentar Barcelona a nivel cultural. Es una especie de abrebocas que pretende incitar la curiosidad de los viajeros para que incluyan a esta magnífica ciudad en sus travesías. Solo me bastaron unos cuantos meses para darme cuenta, desde mi experiencia personal, de que Barcelona es una ciudad que lo tiene todo y que añoro con ansias volver a vivir allí algún día. Por el momento me despido con el caluroso adéu de los catalanes, esperando compartir con ustedes más vivencias sobre viajes y cultura en un próximo artículo. 

Written by Carolina Camelo

SUSTAINABLE IDEAS : WHEN OLD IS THE NEW TREND

Have you ever thought, in a corner of your mind, if single use objects could have a better fate than being thrown in the recycle bin
Actually, lots of people around the world already have thought about new ways to stop single use objects and give a new purpose to such things.

Pinterest, is an enlighting and thrilling mine of easy and fun ideas for those who try to change their daily lifestyle for a more sustainable one. 

The Bead Weaver, a project that started three years ago, is the result of a blend of ideas from my exploration of Pinterest as well as what I did during some of my free time : Stitching seed beads as well as miyuki beads into patterns to design funky jewelry.
At the very beginning, the designs were to become simple necklaces, bracelets and earrings. But with the growing debates on the environment, sustainability and eco-friendly actions, I somehow tried to find a way to be a part of it. First, collecting Sta-Tabs from tins of all types, were necessary to fix the flimsy woven designs into making sturdy earrings. It became a sort of signature. After some time, I considered keeping fused light bulbs and, having studied carefully some talented Russian designs used to create seed bead brick stitched Fabergé eggs, I thought that my old lamps could then become new fashionable Christmas decorations. Similarly and for a while, I had decorated little glass pots for festivals such as Diwali and the Lyonnaise Feast of Lights, simply by sticking the designs. It is a small scale project, but ultimately, I reduced wasting material

Many bloggers and online food platforms such as Marmiton also tend to suggest new ideas to be more responsible when consuming, especially when it comes to food, using the whole ingredients people buy from the markets : transforming lemon zest into powder to flavour dishes, making carrot tops soups etc… In a nutshell, anyone can reduce their carbon footprint, even if it is a small step, let’s hope for a giant leap… 

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

DISILLUSIONMENT: US politics over the last twenty years

With the lowest voter turnout in twenty years in 2016, it is apparent that the people of the US have become disillusioned and apathetic towards politics. Owning undoubtedly to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness.

Despite the best intentions of many well meaning and intelligent Americans, those at the helm of government continue to act as embarassments for the people. Often creating a caricature of the US and its people, that does not accurately represent it by any standard.

The reasons for the current administration, the state of affairs, domestic, and foreign are overwhelmingly complex and entangled. There is no simple explanation. Some may say racism, while others say distrust for government; The truth defies such one dimensional analysis.

My aim in thereby is not to provide an explanation for any of these problems. Rather, explore some notable events over the last twenty years in the United States that could have influenced and helped create the current sense of hopelessness, distrust, and politcal depression.

Disillusionment typically refers to dissapointment upon the revelation that something is not as good as it was originally perceived. So to specify this into something more tangible, we will define it as the loss of trust, and the loss of enthusiasm. It is hard to quantify these terms exactly, however we can attempt. Voter turnout, approval ratings, and politcal participation are all good indicators.

Of course, no metric is perfect. Even if we had one, it might still lead us astray. Take for example George W. Bush and his approval ratings over the course of his two terms in office. When the United States was attacked on 9/11, following the Bush administration’s response, the presidential approval ratings spiked to 90%. Moreover, when the United States invaded Iraq his approval ratings saw another sharp spike up from around 58% to 70%. It is however, no secret that domestically and abroad, the Iraq War is viewed negatively. These approval ratings seem to be more the result of a wave of emotion, rather than a steadfast opinion or belief.

Given this fact, the following are some topical but notable events in US history that have undermined political enthusiasm and trust.

Starting with the event that would forever shape US foriegn and domestic security policy. In 2001, the world was shocked by the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York. The United States was reminded that it does not exist in a bubble. Thus began a period of American history with a much greater emphasis on security.

On a small scale, airports around the world will never be the same. On a large scale, the United States and many of its allies would engage in a type of warfare known as preventative warfare and became involved in foreign conflicts all over the world to prevent the rise of terrorism. This would change parts of the world forever.

In 2001 we would see the signing of No Child Left Behind, a notorious educational reform which sought to create a standardized metric of success (as decided and defined by each individual state.) This would in theory encourage schools to improve the quality of education. Among some of the theorized benefits were:

● Increases the quality of education by requiring schools to improve their performance
● Improves quality of instruction by requiring schools to implement “scientifically based research” practices in the classroom, parent involvement programs, and professional development activities for those students that are not encouraged or expected to attend college.
● Supports early literacy through the Early Reading First initiative.
● Emphasizes reading, language arts, mathematics and science achievement as “core academic subjects.”

What happened instead was widespread manipulation of test results and the reclassification of students to avoid unfavorable results in the eyes of the program. In a twist of fate, leaving many children behind, and seeing the loss of funding for schools across America. This left the general US public more discouraged in their own education system as a whole, as well as creating a generation of adults with a profound distrust and distaste for education in the US.

Still in 2001, the signing of the Patriot Act, which later would permit the NSA to create a monitoring system to spy on citizens in order to combat global terrorism.

In 2002, the US began Operation Enduring Freedom which saw widespread deployment of US troops and resources in Afghanistan, The Phillipines, The Horn of Africa, The Trans-Sahara, the Carribean and Central America, and Kyrgistan.

The Afghanistan war is sometimes known as the Forever war. To express a sentiment that the US will always be fighting there. It has been nineteen years and the war still carries on. All this contributes to what is known as “war-weariness.” Operation enduring freedom marks the beginning of the United States eventual disinterest and distaste for foreign intervention and war.

As of 2020, the estimated death toll in Afghanistan was 111,000 people. This is just the Afghan people, including soldiers, militants, and civilians. A number which weighs heavy on the people of the world. No doubt, even if an American doesnt know the number exactly, they feel it.

Continuing in 2002, another result of the war on terror, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistical Missile Treaty. A thirty year old treaty that restricted the signatory nations use of nuclear weapons/WOMD. A major reason for the withdrawal was to permit the United States to create a missile defense network to protect against attack from rogue states. The unintended, although arguably foreseeable consequence was the open[1] reignition of the Cold War. Evident by the fact that, after the US withdrew, Russia began growing and developing its nuclear weapons program to “counterbalance” the United States. All this opening an old wound and allowing old fear to flow again.

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom under the false pretense of chemical weapons, and weapons of mass destruction[2] . This would be an eight year long war, adding to the war-weariness already felt by the US population.

Jumping forward to 2008 the United States enters the recession, the effects of which are felt to this day. It is no mystery how economic hardship can affect the attitude and shape opinion for many years to come.

In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed that the US government and the 5 eyes[3] have been spying on its own citizens. Further engendering distrust in the government.

And the list goes on.

The list is also arbitrary. Though the point remains, each item has undeniably had its effect on the world. This is why many problems in the present defy simple explanations.

Although this oversight has been simplistic and reductive, it could help indicate why Americans feel the way they do. Why they would allow what has come to pass. Is it apathy? Is it spite? It’s hard to say. Yet the feeling on the ground is bleak. It is undeniable; there is an uncomfortable pointlessness in the air. As young men and women, we feel this pain.

Facing the coming elections, will we see the list of disappointments stretch into the foreseeable future?

Written by Rye Pankoski


Notes:
1 It is believed that Russia had been developing destabilizing weapons for close to a decade, in violation of the treaty.
2 The United States did not invade Iraq for oil. This is a populous myth. Politcal theorists believe that the motivation for its invasion was a mixture of overthrowing the tyrannical and barbarous rule of Hussein, and installing a US friendly democracy in the middle east.
3 The five eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

References:
1 Dean, Dwight G. (1965-01-01). “Powerlessness and Political Apathy”. Social Science . 40 (4): 208–213. JSTOR 41885108.
2 Cashman, Greg (2013). What Causes War?: An Introduction to Theories of International Conflict . Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 234–235. ISBN 0742566528.
3 Lee Rainie, Scott Keeter And Andrew Perrin. “Americans’ Trust in Government, Each Other, Leaders.” Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy , Pew Research Center, 18 Sept. 2020, http://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/07/22/trust-and-distrust-in-america/
4 “Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council (FIORC)”. http://www.dni.gov
5 “Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems”. Bureau of Arms Control . United States Department of State. 26 May 1972.
6 “OEF | Afghanistan | Fatalities By Month”. iCasualties. 2010-05-28. Archived from the original on 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
7 Crawford, Neta (August 2016). “Update on the Human Costs of War for Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001 to mid-2016” (PDF). watson.brown.edu
8 “About DHS”. Homeland Security. June 29, 2016.
9 Public Law Pub.L. 107–56
10 The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (The No Child Left Behind Act of 2004)

(Portuguese 🇧🇷) 2020: VEGETARIANISMO NA CRISTA DA ONDA

Não é novidade para ninguém que o consumo de carne e proteína de origem animal vem sendo reduzido cada vez mais.

Já passa de 10% o número de Brasileiros que se declaram vegetarianos. A Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB) estima que dos 30 milhões de brasileiros são vegetarianos e cerca de 7 milhões veganos.

O Vegetarianismo tem se tornado cada vez mais estilo de vida indo além de simplesmente não comer carne mas também excluindo o consumo de produtos não alimentícios provenientes de animais, como lã, couro, seda e pele.

Para uns se trata de questão de saúde pública e consideram o consumo de carne como nocivo.

Existem aqueles que se tornam vegetarianos por razões éticas, considerando os direitos dos animais. Estes discordam de práticas como circos com animais, rodeios, produtos testados em animais e qualquer outra forma de atividade em que o animal seja explorado.

Outro motivo que leva uma pessoa a se tornar vegetariano seria também para diminuir os impactos ambientais (redução na emissão de gás metano) ou ate mesmo questões religiosas.

De um jeito ou de outro, verdade é que o vegetarianismo se encontra na Crista da onda, e cada vez mais se mostra um mercado bem atrativo. Mas será que essa tendência é o futuro?

Assim como o cigarro era largamente consumido nas década de 50/60 e hoje é visto como péssimo vicio, há quem acredite que no futuro comer carne sera julgado da mesma forma.

Desconsiderar este mercado não seria nada inteligente! Num futuro bem próximo o que as empresas deverão fazer é tentar reposicionar sua marca a valores mais responsáveis e conscientes com as mudanças climáticas, voltados para o tema ambiental e com viés de diminuir testes em animais. Mais farmers market e menos industrialização dos alimentos.

Será que se fôssemos todos veganos, essa atual pandemia existiria? Boa pergunta! não são poucas as evidências científicas que ligam o início do surto de COVID-19 ao consumo humano de animais. E esta não é a primeira vez que uma pandemia tenha sido, iniciada pela transmissão de animal não-humano para humano (ex. Gripe Suína, Gripe Aviária, Ebola etc). No artigo de Janaina Chiaradia para o site Parana Portal ela ressalta que: ˝Os animais não têm culpa pelas pandemias: culpada é a nossa insistência em explorá-los. Por isso, parece que as condutas veganas e as dietas vegetarianas não são mais apenas questões éticas, mas verdadeiras exigências de saúde pública global.˝ (paranaportal.uol.com.br)

Ampliar o mercado e a aceitação de produtos vegetarianos e veganos se tornará necessário e a discussão de assuntos como este estão cada vez mais presentes em grupos de amigos e almoços familiares.

É, ainda, responsabilidade dos pais educar as crianças de hoje para um futuro onde o consumo de carne não deva ser quase obrigatório como nossa geração foi educada. Formar um paladar ˝plant base˝é a chave para que gerações futuras naturalmente não se vejam reféns da carne para sobreviver.

Para quem não se sente estimulado a radicalmente cortar o consumo de carne 100% do seu dia a dia, a boa dica é escolher um dia da semana (ex. Segunda-sem carne) e fazer a sua contribuição (que embora pareça pequena, é muito importante) para o planeta. Façamos cada um, a nossa parte!

We WORK TOGETHER TOWARDS ACHIEVING SDGS

The OxForest Web Magazine works together towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and finds solutions for realizing a sustainable world throught its network and resources.

The OxForest.org Members respect and embrace its member’s diversity: nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, age, appearance, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity. We will not accept any forms of prejudice, racism and discrimination against us.


What is the SDGs?

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda) is a set of international development goals from 2016 to 2030, which was adopted by the UN Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015 building on the success of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 2030 Agenda listed “Sustainable Development Goals” consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets in order to eradicate poverty and realize a sustainable world. The SDGs are universal goals applicable, not only to developing countries but also developed countries, and pledge “Leave no one behind.” through the implementation process.

References:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: What is the SDGs?

🇫🇷 CHEESY WINTER FOR FRANCE

 As we enter Autumn and the cold season, cheese is a star among ingredients. French people enjoy sharing an evening with friends having a “raclette” (a dish in which people use a machine to melt cheese before pouring it onto meats and vegetables in their plates), or “tartiflette” (a dish in which the main ingredients are potatoes, bacon, cream, onions and reblochon cheese), or “Fondue Savoyarde” (a delicacy that involves melted cheese in a pot with garlic and white wine mixed up, that you eat with a piece of bread on a special fork). Along with such dishes, a nice bottle of red wine must be associated to red meat dishes, while white wines are to be served with chicken or fish dishes. Chocolate in all forms is much enjoyed, be it a “fondant au chocolat“, or a mousse, or if not chocolate, apple or pear pies delicately end the festivities up. 

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

LATIN AMERICA’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Related post: KoKo’s Mexico Photo Gallery



YouTube by Keisuke Hirasawa (365 days of KeisukeJapon)
Introduction by Takeshi Inagawa

Our new member, Keisuke Hirasawa, has a YouTube Channel “365 days of KeisukeJapon” containing Drone aerial shooting and 4K high-definision movies. Below we posted five movies from Latin America: Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia.

YouTube Channel 365 days of KeisukeJapon:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn2c5R9Tbml1iiDjAwv9b_A

YouTube: Patrimonio Mundial “Catedral de León” – World Heritage (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: Zoológico Nacional De Nicaragua (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: Lago de Lava, Volcán Masaya – vol.1 – (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: CUBA Trip – Musica de CUBA “Chan Chan” from Buena Vista Social Club (720/30p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: BOLIVIA – Papa Chuño
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon

🇲🇽 KoKo’s Mexico Photo Gallery

Related post: Latin America’s YouTube Channel



Photo by Kotomi Kobayashi
Introducion by Takeshi Inagawa

A friend of mine, Kotomi Kobayashi (KoKo) – the owner of KoKo Hair Design in Mexico City, posted a photo gallery below to introduce Mexico’s beautiful nature and culture. We are Yoga friends, while she is a strict vegetarian and turnes her beauty salon into an organic and sustainable business. As a mother of three kids, she teaches them how to be environment-friendly and susutainable in their daily lives. Later she will post photos from Oaxaca, the center of Aztec tradition along outstanding landscapes.

PRINCE WILLIAM LAUNCHES ‘PRESTIGIOUS’ ENVIRONMENT PRIZE

YouTube: AFP News Agency

(AFP)

Britain’s Prince William on Thursday launched a “prestigious” environmental prize aimed at turning “pessimism into optimism” by rewarding innovative solutions to the planet’s biggest problems.

The Earthshot Prize will present five £1 million ($1.3-million, 1.1-million-euro) awards each year for the next 10 years, to “incentivise change and help to repair our planet,” said his office in London.

The jury will include a host of high-profile global figures, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Australian actress Cate Blanchett, British naturalist David Attenborough and the Colombian singer Shakira.

Kensington Palace described it as the “most prestigious global environment prize in history” and said it was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy’s “Moonshot” project in the 1960s to put a man on the moon.

Copyright © AFP

🏳️‍🌈 LGBTQ rights in Japan and the same-sex partnership certificate

Paula Fernández, our Deputy Editor-in-Chief, wrote an article on LGBTQ rights in Japan. Her research includes gender and sexual minorities for her MSc and PhD. The OxForest Web Magazine does not only feature the environment and sustainable development, but also the issues that shape people’s lives around the world. Gender equality and LBGTQ rights are the theme of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5.

European exchange student at Keio University advocating for LGBTQ rights at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018. (Image: Paula Fernández)

 The LGBTQ community serves not only as a support group and a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer individuals, but it also acts as a source of information for those who want to explore and know more about gender identity, sexuality and sexual health education.

Let’s learn the difference between sexuality and gender identity

 ‘Male’, ‘female’ and ‘transgender’ are gender identities, as these three terms refer to the body perception of the individual. ‘I see myself as female’ ‘I am in the wrong body’ ‘I was born female but I feel male or I feel neutral’ are thoughts related to the gender identity of the individual.

 In the case of sexuality, ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ are types of sexualities, as they indicate the sexual attraction of the person towards others, the same as ‘bisexual’ (a bisexual person is someone who can feel sexually and/or romantically attracted to both men and women).

 Quiz time: Do you think that a person can be considered gay and transexual at the same time? Let’s see. For example, if a person was born male and feels that he is ‘trapped in the wrong body’, this person is said to suffer from gender dysphoria, as this person’s biological gender does not match with his gender identity. This individual has a male body but feels female. These individuals frequently develop feelings of rejection towards their own body. They can go to therapy and through chirurgical operations and have their gender reassigned. In addition to this, this same person can feel sexuality attracted to women, men or both. In summary, gender identity and sexuality do not necessarily have to match. A person can be bisexual and transgender at the same time, gay and transgender, etc.

  • Within the scenario of LGBTQ rights in Japan, marriage is currently a legal right given just to heterosexual couples. In other words, only the union between a woman and a man is legally recognized in Japan. Since the year 2015, however, several Japanese municipalities and prefectures have been introducing partnership certificates for same-sex couples.
  • The first ward that introduced the same-sex partnership certificate was Shibuya ward, in Tokyo, in the year 2015. At a prefectural level, Ibaraki-ken became the first Japanese prefecture that started to issue same-sex partnership certificates, in 2019. In addition to this, Chiba City became the first city issuing this partnership certificate, also in 2019.
  • To be eligible for this partnership document at Chiba City, for example, this city requires both partners to be at least 20 years old and also to reside in Chiba. Currently a total of 57 municipalities and 2 prefectures in Japan offer partnership certificates for same-sex couples. (A list of these places will be included at the end of this article)
  • The issuing of these partnership certificates has gained popularity in the last year, to the extent that in the first five months of 2019, the number of prefectures issuing these same-sex marriage certificates doubled.

 These partnership certificates, however, are not legally binding. That is to say, they are not yet legally recognized at a national level or outside of the municipality or ward where they are issued. It is due to the limitations of these certificates that the Japanese NGO Famiee Project has initiated their own certification program for LGBTQ couples, in order for same-sex couples to be recognized outside of the municipalities.

 Furthermore, another weak aspect of these partnership certificates is that they are not fully equivalent with heterosexual marriage in Japan, as they present more limitations in terms of civil rights, such as rights of inheritance, taxes and visitation rights in the case of hospital emergencies. These limitations, however, vary depending on the municipality where issued. For example, Shibuya ward offers equal rights for same-sex spouses at hospitals and also for apartment renting. These benefits, however, are not necessarily the same as those offered by Chiba, Fukuoka or Osaka prefecture.

 For the time being, even though Japanese municipalities are starting to offer some limited benefits for same-sex couples residing in Japan, the reality is that many civil rights are still not being addressed, such as same-sex adoptions. In 2017, Osaka prefecture recognised a same-sex couple as foster parents in Japan, becoming this the first case. However, same-sex adoptions are not legally addressed or recognized at a national level yet.

 Due to this lack of protections, several companies, such as Mizuho Financial Group, are independently promoting initiatives to provide equal benefits to their employees and partners, regardless of whether they are in a same-sex relationship or a heterosexual relationship. At the end of 2020, Japan Airlines also announced that this company will start implementing pro LGBTQ initiatives such as the use of gender-neutral greetings in their flights to be more inclusive towards their passengers.

 Overall, it could be said that, even though LGBTQ rights are gradually starting to be recognized through the partnership certificates initiated by municipalities in the last decade, and several important Japanese companies are also independently advocating for LGBTQ rights, these individuals are still not being fully protected in legal terms at a national level, as they are not  yet being addressed in legislative terms.

 Same-sex couples have not been integrated yet into the futsuu (normal) system. Instead, alternative paths are being created for them. Real equality will just arrive when all couples are processed through the same system and are given the same rights, regardless of their or their partner’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

 To conclude, Japan does seem to be, step by step, moving forward in the direction of tolerance, especially in the last decade. The year 2019 has indeed been a year of very interesting LGBTQ advancements, not only with the same-sex partnership certification system, but also through the establishment of some interesting organizations such as Marriage For All Japan, whose groups of lawyers are aiming to achieve the mission to attain the very well deserved equality for same-sex couples in Japan.

 The year 2020 seems to keep on moving on this same track, as on the next 11th of October, Pride House Tokyo will open Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ center in Shinjuku-Nichōme.

 This center will also contribute to support the advancement of LGBTQ rights and freedoms, whilst acting as an ibasho, a place where one can be oneself, in order to guarantee the so much needed protection for these individuals.

Written by Paula Fernández

List of Japanese municipalities and prefectures where same-sex partnership certificates are being issued:

In Tokyo Prefecture: Shibuya (2015), Setagaya (2015), Nakano (2018), Toshima (2019), Edogawa (2019), Fuchū (2019), Minato (2020), Bunkyō (2020), Koganei (2020), Kunitachi (2021)

In Hyōgo Prefecture: Takarazuka (2016), Sanda (2019), Amagasaki (2020), Itami (2020), Ashiya (2020), Kawanishi (2020), Akashi (2020), Nishinomiya (2021)

In Chiba Prefecture: Chiba city (2019), Narashino (2020)

In Osaka Prefecture: Osaka Prefecture (2020)

In Kanawaga Prefecture: Yokosuka (2019) and Odawara (2019), Yokohama (2019), Kamakura (2019), Sagamihara (2020), Zushi (2020), Hayama (2020), Kawasaki (2020), Miura (2020), Fujisawa (2021)

In Hokkaido Prefecture: Sapporo (2017)

In Fukuoka Prefecture: Fukuoka city (2018), Kitakyushu (2019), Koga (2020)

In Mie Prefecture: Iga City (2016), Inabe (2020)
In Gunma Prefecture: Oizumi (2019)

In Okayama Prefecture: Sōja (2019)

In Okinawa Prefecture: Naha (2016)

In Kumamoto Prefecture: Kumamoto City (2019)

In Ibaraki Prefecture: Ibaraki Prefecture (2019)

In Tochigi Prefecture: Kanuma (2019)

In Miyazaki Prefecture: Miyazaki (2019), Kijō (2020)

In Aichi Prefecture: Nishio (2019), Toyoake (2020), Nagoya (2021)

In Nagasaki Prefecture: Nagasaki (2019)

In Kagawa Prefecture: Mitoyo (2020), Takamatsu (2020)

In Shizuoka Prefecture: Hamamatsu (2020)

In Nara Prefecture: Nara (2020), Yamatokōriyama (2020)

In Niigata Prefecture: Niigata (2020)

In Saitama Prefecture: Saitama (2020), Kawagoe (2020), Sakado (2020), Kitamoto (2020), Koshigaya (2020)

In Tokushima Prefecture: Tokushima (2020)

In Okayama Prefecture: Okayama (2020)

In Kyoto Prefecture: Kyoto (2020), Kameoka (2020)

In Aomori Prefecture: Hirosaki (2020)

In Hiroshima Prefecture: Hiroshima (2020)

In Kagoshima Prefecture: Ibusuki (2021)

In Nagano Prefecture: Matsumoto (2021)

In Gifu Prefecture: Hida (To be decided)

Writers Needed!

Our web magazine consists of three key sections: ENVIRONMENTSustainable Development (every target and indicator for all 17 of the SDGs), and GO GLOBAL (culture, travel, studying abroad and language learning) for a general audience to change the way we see the world from different perspectives.

We are a world-class professional network for the Environment and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 58 members with 21 nationalities mostly in their thirties (including 11 PhD holders, eight PhD candidates, and a MD) among them working for; the United Nations (UNDP, UNEP, WFP), World Bank, JICA, universities (UK: Oxford, Reading, US: Harvard, Maryland, and Japan: Tokyo), scientific institutions (CIFOR, NBER), local governments, NGOs, as well as the private sector (such as Deloitte, BNP Paribas, and entrepreneurs). See the OxForest.org Members

Currently, we are looking for new members who can write about climate change, deforestation, biodiversity, food and water scarcity, as well as SDGs (Poverty, Hunger, Health and Well-being, Education, Gender equality, Innovation, Inequalities, and Peace and Justice), renewable energy, organic and Fairtrade products, animal welfare, vegetarian recipes, yoga, Boy/Girl Scouts, camping, ecotourism, cross-cultural understanding (your experience from travelling, volunteering or studying abroad) and language learning (such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Indonesian/Malaysian, Thai, Swahili) and more. We would appreciate just one short article from you! If you are interested, get in touch with us. We will send the writing guideline to your email (please be aware of spam filter).

Introduction to our first African member: Lucious

Lucious Matiki: Writer (Africa business), OxForest

I am Lucious from Malawi, East Africa, a graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Exploits University in Malawi, also a holder of tropical agriculture certificate from the City and Guilds of London Institute. I speak English, Portuguese, Chichewa, Tumbuka and a little of Swahili. I recently joined the OxForest Editing Team as the first African member on the team!

Before my first degree, I worked with the international organization and farms for 14 years in the field of leadership and management positions in both local and international. As an African, I have worked in Malawi for 7 years including Danish NGO’s Child Aid Project as well a tea and coffee farm as a manager. Then I went for project research and development studies in Zimbabwe reaching out development course. There after I was given an opportunity to work in Brazil as a manager at a forestry project for 4 years from 2007 to 2011 with my longtime friend Takeshi Inagawa (OxForest.org Founder). Takeshi and I used to call each other a “Comrade!“, because we were only two foreigners on the project, who hardly spoke Portuguese in the beggining, ha ha.

In the same year end, I went to Mexico where I attained training for business management and a project leadership in the field course. Finally I worked with Jacaranda farm in Malawi as a manager for 4 years.

As regards my interests, I am glad to say that I am not a person who is only engaged in working and studying. I have dozens of activities which I like to do. Generally, I would like you to know that I have always kept my healthy lifestyle. I think that it is much better to struggle with my sicknesses by developing my healthy lifestyle rather than taking drugs infinitely. All these clearly define my high interest in keeping my healthy lifestyle that is reflected in my big love for sports. For instance, I am a real football fan which means that I enjoy playing and watching it. Thus I always try to find some time to go out and play such a wonderful game with my friends.

Thank you very much for reading my profile!

Yours sincerely,

Luscious Matiki

🇪🇦 Introduction to Spanish language by Paula

 Many readers will know the Spanish culture and Spaniards for their cheerful and relaxed attitude towards life. Spanish fascinating culinary culture also counts with internationally well-known dishes, such as paella, tapas and ajillo. Others are fascinated by Spanish historical past and its majestic architecture, with masterpieces such as La Sagrada Familia and La Alhambra. Spain also counts with very cosmopolitan cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, which attract millions of visitors each year, and with ancient traditions and festivals, such as Tomatina and bullfighting. All these elements have made out of Spain a very attractive country and the world’s second most visited destination, according to the World Tourism Organization, with 82 million visitors in 2018.

 In the last years the Spanish language has also become a very attractive option for those wanting to learn a new foreign language, as Spanish has become the second most spoken language in the world, surpassing the English language in the number of native speakers worldwide.

 Spanish is spoken in Spain and in the majority of South American countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama… and a really long list of countries and territories!

 El Instituto Cervantes is one of the main centers of reference for those who want to certify their Spanish language competence. The special ward of Chiyoda-ku, in Tokyo, houses El Instituto Cervantes, a center where you can obtain your DELE diplomas (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language). This center also offers Spanish language courses for those who want their Spanish study to start taking off.

 However, learning a language should not necessarily mean an extra-cost. Nowadays you can find many cost-free options and online resources to learn Spanish, so you can easily motivate yourself to start with your study now! The BBC and the NHK also offer free courses to learn Spanish. This website will also provide you with a course to learn this fascinating and attractive language! ¿Empezamos? (Shall we start?)

Retrato de bailaora de flamenco and toro in La Plaza Mayor de Madrid, photo taken by Paula Fernandez

Written by Paula Fernanández