schwäne, schnee und sonstiges

img_3280„Geschlechterrolle“ (Themavorschlag: Sarah)

„Was wäre gewesen, wenn die Heiligen Drei Könige Frauen gewesen wären? Die drei Frauen hätten nach dem Weg gefragt (statt einem Stern zu folgen), wären pünktlich angekommen (statt zwölf Tage zu spät zu sein), hätten geholfen, das Kind zur Welt zu bringen, hätten die Stallung geputzt, etwas zu Essen gekocht – und praktische Geschenke mitgenommen (Windeln zum Beispiel)“. Diesen Witz habe ich in ‚Piffle‘, einem kostenlosen monatlichen Zeitschrift, gelesen. Ich muss daran denken, wie die Welt wäre, wenn mehr Frauen in Machtpositionen wären, insbesondere als politische Entscheidungsträger und Parlamentärinnen. Sehr wahrscheinlich gibt es kein Krieg mehr, da sie alternative Lösungen zu Problemen finden können.
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migrantische communities in st. georg, hamburg

Gegenseitige Ökonomie: Die Centrum-Moschee mit den auffälligen Minaretten befindet sich neben Lindenbazar, dem wahrscheinlich größten türkischen Supermarkt in Hamburg. (Foto:

Lezte Woche habe ich an einem besonderen Stadtrundgang teilgenommen. Das Thema war migrantische Communties in Sankt Georg, einer der vielfältigsten Stadtteilen in Hamburg.

Es hat viel Spaß gemacht. Was ich gelernt habe:Read More »

it’s the integration, stupid

What with local UK and European elections next week, there’s been a lot of talk on immigration. Farage/UKIP, following a string of racism scandals, continues its racist rhetoric and pressures Miliband/Labour into following suit with some xenophobic pandering of its own in the hopes of holding on to the blue-collar vote.

They remind me – once again – that we urgently need to change the public and policy discourse from immigration to integration.

Not a single person in the entire history of the human species has ever chosen which country to be born in, and yet this accident of birth has a tremendous influence in determining how one’s life will pan out. Immigration – the movement of people – is hence about justice and equality. The actual movement of humans across a national border causes no problems. A failure to integrate them into their new communities and societies, however, will.

Academic findings by Oxford and UCL show that immigrants make a positive net contribution to the UK economy and are less likely than native-born Brits to receive state benefits or live in social housing. The same story holds true for  New Zealand and other countries. In other words, immigrants are good for the economy – so let’s redirect our efforts towards making everyone more relaxed about them. Let’s introduce better integration policy! Because people should have the right to move where they want to be and to be able to call that new place ‘home’.

makes no frackin’ sense (part ii)

energy-satellites-flaring-north-dakota-main-art_72347_990x742Part I: on Obama approval of cross-border fracked gas pipeline used to dilute tar sands

Gas flaring is apparently a thing. It is a way to deal with the natural gas that is released as a byproduct of fracking for crude oil. Normally we hear about hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) of shale in North America as a way to extract shale gas. That gas is usually piped and shipped to be combusted as energy. But the gas that is released while extracting crude oil from shale rock is considered a waste byproduct – unusuable and nonmarketable… for want of pipelines. Read More »

measuring responsibility and leadership

Lady Justice (c) Tristan Henry-Wilson

Today I received this in my work email inbox: OECD states cut emissions too slowly.

For anyone who watches the news, this is hardly groundbreaking. For those of us working in environmental justice or international development, we’ve seen graphs and diagrams ad nauseam depicting the earth’s trajectory vis-a-vis greenhouse gas emissions based on different scenarios and data. They have the same story: The planet – and, therefore, humanity – is doomed because we’re not doing enough to rein in emissions.

But who, exactly, are ‘we’? Read More »

if this is the pulse of the movement we are DOA

This is a highly interesting piece about the Power Shift conference in Ottawa last month and the so-called blue-green alliance between labour unions and environmentalists.

It should be noted that it was published in a labour magazine and was therefore written through a union lens – or, at least, for a union audience. Still, if this is the state of the renewable energy movement in the country – Power Shift was “the largest environmental convergence in Canada, ever” – no wonder we’re screwed. Look at what an official conference spokesperson said:Read More »

the much-touted point system

Canada’s immigration policy, as far as I understand it, is based on a ‘point system’ in which applicants are scored based on a list of traits/skills/circumstances deemed desirable or deserving of immigrant status by the Canadian government. If you have a certain number of points, you qualify to immigrate to Canada. Points can be gained if you have, for example, language skills in French or English; family living in the country; experience in a profession/industry/sector in which there is a labour shortage; amount of work experience; and education level, among others.

This point system is oft cited in immigration policy debates around the world. I, however, question the legitimacy of the bases for points. The skills or circumstances deemed ‘desirable’ are decided arbitrarily – sometimes contentiously – by the government. And the reasons for its choices reflects its values and its philosophy of immigration.

Admitting and denying applicants mainly based on their potential contribution to the economy is sad and narrow-minded, because it shows that the government values immigrants mainly in dollar terms. While I recognise the reasoning behind not wanting immigrants to become a financial burden on the public purse, this qualification process ignores the often invaluable ways in which immigrants contribute to their new home – to society and culture and the benefits of diversity. I believe very strongly that diversity strengthens a community simply because there is a greater selection of ideas, and combining Darwinian natural selection with the law of large numbers, this means it is more likely that the idea selected is a better one than otherwise. A heterogeneous community is strong because what ailment afflicts one member does not necessarily afflict the others, who can therefore use their energies to help and support their ill neighbour. And of course, diversity promotes open-mindedness, tolerance, acceptance of new ideas etc. which are valuable in and of themselves. These are inherently ‘good’ no matter their impact on the economy.

Sidenote: Even if the immigrants are poor or low-skilled, what about those studies that show second generation immigrants excel in school and are more likely to have higher education and a white-collar job and so on? If we must use economic measures, immigrants can be thought of as an investment with a return after 20 years.

The Canadian point system is an interesting model to study but is not perfect and should not be put on a pedestal. At least, not on one so high.

Also (and I have no answer as of yet), what of the purported right of citizens of the world to move as they wish?