Category: Opinions

So much for the Nobel Peace prize, Obama

To wake up in a hotel in the United States of America this past week, watching CNN while eating breakfast is one of the saddest affairs so far on this journey. First of all because I’ve got reminded how full of shit CNN is with its twisted cold-hearted journalism. But most importantly it has been sad because Syria is on the agenda. And we’re told it’s bad.

Zoomed in pictures of kids and adults that supposedly are victims of chemical weapon attacks in Syria stream into the room where we are sitting with our bowls of cereals. If the pictures are real these are awful news from a fucked conflict in need of help. But the pictures aren’t what’s saddest. What is saddest is that they are accompanied by news reporters’ repeated concerns about the situation in Syria and arguments about the need for the US to “take action.” They try to convince us that because hundreds of kids are supposedly murdered with chemical weapons, the U.S army has to engage and attack the country. In order to protect future victims and calm the situation. Come again?

It all makes me sick and Ive struggled to finish my cereals.

Then again, when searching for less biased media sources and even walking the streets here in San Francisco there seems to be a rather aggressive opposition to the congresspersons’ pending decisions these days. We’ve seen posters around about upcoming protests in San Francisco and even headliners of newspaper telling Obama to take a chill pill. This all delights me, yet somehow also surprises me. You may think I’m ignorant, but more people then I’d expect seem aware that this whole fake “protect ourselves from the middle East enemies” -rhetoric is just a puppet show made up by greedy capitalists with their oil needy straws.

Today I even came across this video clip that has gone very viral on social media.

Coming from Fox News (!!) it’s a complete MUST SEE! The channel that always have applauded whatever war an American Republican president suggest to start or engage with, is now against it. And they even come up with some good, almost humane, reasons. Of course the presenter here isn’t not asking complex questions like Goodman from Democracy Now or alike does. It’s a lot simpler than that. However, what is so appealing with this (and probably why it has gone so viral) is that even your grandmother can understand the speech!

Please just watch and spread!

And to Mr. President, here’s a little message from me: You should have done it instantly but it’s not too late to turn. GIVE BACK that Nobel peace medal you were rewarded! NOBODY thought you’d deserve it anyway, and now you’ve proved it again, no matter what your final decision will be on Syria after this week.

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Congratulations ECPAT International

I just read something wonderful!

ECPAT International was recently selected to receive the 2013 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million (US dollars), for its tireless for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. According to their own website 2013 is the 18th year for the Hilton Prize given by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to an organisation that is significantly alleviating human suffering.

ECPAT International was one of over 200 organisations being considered for the award, and won it as “The Hilton Prize international jurors recognized the pressing need to put a spotlight on this malignancy that is growing throughout the world” said Judy Miller, vice president of the Hilton Foundation and director of the Hilton Prize. Dorothy Rozga, the Executive Director of ECPAT Internation, states being deeply honored to be selected to receive the prestigious Hilton Humanitarian Prize by its distinguished jury. Read more here.

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Personally, I discovered ECPAT International some years ago through my growing interest in tourism impacts, learning that child sex tourism is one of the crucial issues of consequences in our increasingly globalized world. I’ve also written a piece about them before. As ECPAT describes it child sex tourism occurs when an individual travels, either within their own country or internationally, and engages in sexual acts with a child. Some offenders engage in sexual acts with children out of experimentation often fueled by opportunity or a feeling of anonymity as a result of being away from their home.

 

Attending to conferences about Ethical Tourism, reading Codes and strategies for the future, working for Tourism Concern and studying Responsible Tourism Management, I’ve come to understand how sex exploitation (in tourism) is an increasingly notorious and ugly daily reality to millions of children worldwide. By seeking to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, the name ECPAT has become synonymous with action to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children over the last 20 years.

Their work truly is among the most admirable and crucial in our world today.

To get involved and support ECPAT, please visit this site.

Action against orphanage (volun)tourism

 

Oh joy, oh joy! Responsible Travel has chosen to remove orphanages voluntourism trips from its products. Based on the below issues of concern (among others) as taken from their website:

Importance of family setting vs. residential care
There is overwhelming evidence to show the detrimental impacts of residential care on the physical and emotional well being of children (UNICEF). The UN Convention of Rights of Children states that the family must be afforded the necessary assistance so that it can assume its responsibilities (of caring for children). Residential care should be the last resort.

Fuelling demand for orphans
Inadvertently, well intentioned volunteers are fuelling the demand for orphans. In Cambodia 74% of children in orphanages are not orphans. Almost all orphanages are funded by overseas donors, many of whom turn to volunteer tourism and train children to perform and attract donors (http://orphanages.no/). Watch the Al Jazeera documentary on ‘fake’ orphans here.

Volunteers are therefore creating a surge in orphanages, because parents are tempted to give up their children in response to the western ideal of education and upbringing. For example, with a population of less than 100,000, the town of Siem Reap, gateway to the famous ruins of Angkor Wat has 35 orphanages. Watch a documentary on this here. One even parades children late at night behind placards reading ‘Support Our Orphans’ as visitors drink and dine.

This UN report from West Africa identifies the need to protect children from ‘Orphan Dealers.’
“A January 2009 study by the Social Welfare Department – responsible for children’s welfare and supervising orphanages – showed that up to 90 percent of the estimated 4,500 children in orphanages in Ghana are not orphans and 140 of the 148 orphanages around the country are un-licensed.”

Emotional disturbance to children
Reseach from South Africa (‘AIDS orphan tourism: A threat to young children in residential care’) reveals the negative impacts of volunteers on the children.

“Institutionalised children will tend to manifest indiscriminate affection towards volunteers. After a few days or weeks, this attachment is broken when the volunteer leaves and a new attachment forms when the next volunteer arrives…repeated disruptions in attachment are extremely disturbing for children, especially very young children”.

Very few tourists are qualified to interact with traumatised or vulnerable children. Most volunteers do not have these skills or the training required.

This report from the BBC about Bali found that “As tourism has boomed in Bali, it has had a strange side-effect, doubling the number of orphanages on the island in 20 years. Tourists’ donations keep the orphanages going – but some are effectively rackets, exploiting children and holidaymakers alike”.

Displacing local staff from jobs
Volunteers are unintentionally crowding local people out of their jobs. This Human Sciences Research Council report concluded that … “there is a real danger of voluntourists crowding out local workers, especially when people are prepared to pay for the privilege to volunteer.”

Further reading and viewing:
Responsibletravel.com’s blog post
The Replace Campaign
http://orphanages.no/
Save The Children. Keeping Children out of Harmful Institutions
UNICEF Report from Cambodia
Watch a debate on the issues from World Travel Market Responsible Volunteering here.

My first reaction was obviously “it was about time”, maybe because organisations like Tourism Concern and Thinkchildsafe have tried to raise concern over this issue for a long time. Check for example this page:

 

However, I can’t say how glad I’m to finally be able to TAKE MY HAT OFF for Responsible Travel to pioneer as a travel agency on this crucial topic. BRAVO and KUDOS.

Don’t take/ get taken for granted

One of the main factors contributing to the downfall of long term relationships or marriages is being taken for granted. After a while, all of the things that made you feel special, wonderful, and unique are now simply accepted as standard features in your relationship. Sometimes it comes to a point where even a small lapse from your usual behavior is held against you. Although this is not the most pleasant feeling to deal with, this is completely normal and expected in relationships.

ImageIn fact, it’s a demonstration of habituation, something that is not going away in a relationship unless it is addressed. If you have ever taken your spouse, partner, or family member for granted then it will absolutely affect your relationship in a negative manner. No one likes to be taken for granted, and very few people will put up with it for a lengthy period of time.

ImageNothing makes people feel more on top of the world than the feeling of being acknowledged, appreciated, and valued. When relationships are fresh and young, there is always a sense of excitement, admiration, and affection. We say nice compliments to each other, we spend a lot of time together, and we appreciate even the smallest things done for us. We naturally just make an extra effort for that special one.

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However, after a while, relationships exit the “honeymoon phase” and become relatively stagnant. Why do we lose our sense of appreciation, and how can we get it back? There are multiple ways that we can take our significant others for granted; the following are just a few examples: We can take our roles as partners, parents, or guardians more seriously than their role. For instance, we think our contributions at work and with family are more significant than our partners, and that our work is not acknowledged enough. In addition, many of us forget to say please and thank you after your partner cooks, cleans, does the dishes, or does some other act of kindness.

ImageSometimes, we even fail to say how lucky or fortunate we are to have each other in our lives. Often times, we become demanding and treat our partners differently than our friends or family because we expect too much of them. We may speak of them or speak to them in a disrespectful way, hurting their feelings. Finally, we tend to expect certain things within our own household, like dinner being ready, or the house being cleaned every week.

The following are some tips to keep you from being taken for granted:

1. First of all, don’t forget to things for yourself – Many people think that they should make certain efforts solely for your partner, spouse, or family members. However, as generous as this sounds, it leads to nothing but a negative result. If you are putting all your energy into others, you are guaranteed to be upset and disappointed when others do not appreciate your efforts. Be sure to tell yourself, “I’m doing this only for myself, this is what I want to do!” Although this may sound selfish, it is necessary to take some time for yourself and do things that make you happy. No one else has to notice your actions, or send compliments your way, because it is benefiting your own self-growth!

2. Be sure to reward yourself – It is possible that your partner or spouse isn’t giving you much credit, but you can certainly give yourself credit to boost your self-esteem. Whenever you accomplish a goal, or finish a difficult task, reward yourself and get some satisfaction!

3. Verbally express your appreciation for what your partner/spouse does – The best advice to remain a happy couple is to appreciate what your partner or spouse does on a daily basis. In other words, if you want others to be respectful towards you, you need to be respectful towards others. Also, if you feel like you have to push yourself to feel thankful for what others are doing, remind yourself that that is what they typically have do for you, which will ease resentment between the two of you.

4Being taken for granted is a form of praise – Although it doesn’t always feel the best to be taken for granted and under-appreciated, you can always use reverse psychology to turn it into a compliment. It is true that the more reliable, patient, and friendly you are, the more likely you are going to be taken for granted.

ImageBeing taken advantage of isn’t something abnormal in a relationship, it is actually a sign of habituation and comfort. Unless it is addressed specifically, it is not going to change, so it is best to work with it than to battle against it. Many people believe that once you exit the “honeymoon phase,” it’s inevitable to regain that special bond back between a couple. However, we each have total control of our actions and thoughts, therefore, we can learn to appreciate our significant others’ actions, which will regain the strong bond back. If you make the active decision to be grateful for your spouse or partner, it will automatically improve the relationship. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it strengthens your relationship and makes you feel worthy again.

If both partners feel like they have a purpose, and both partners are willing to put forth the effort, then your relationship will thrive!

NB! This article is taken (and slightly modified) from this site by the counseling corner Nancy Travers.

Sonar 2013 -new airs

Splish Splash and this summer’s first festival highlight is over.

2013 was the year Sonar Day moved to another venue and part of town after over a decade in the venues of MACBA in Raval. As much as we are many that have loved Sonar Day at MACBA due to the viby city feel surrounding it, it’s also true it started to get very crowded in there. It’s also true that the residents around MACBA have been tired of the festival’s noise for years and deserved a break. Thus, after the announcements about Fira Mont Juic being Sonar Day’s new party dress, many of us were excited to see it.

And my oh my, a more perfect sight for Sonar Day is impossible to find. I’m a bigger fan of the festival already. Yes it did feel very big initially, but considering they’ve sold many more tickets this year and that MACBA indeed got over crowded the last years, I cant express how much I loved Sonar Day in bigger venues. Now there are enough bars, toilets and space to walk around for everybody, which feels particularly important in a place where the temperature easily exceeds 30 C.  Moreover it is obvious that the organisers have worked hard to give the place a typical ‘Sonar feel’, – with success! We were several Sonar veterans talking about it; it all feels like before and one quickly forgets that Sonar has moved. The only thing I could point my finger at is that there only is one open air scene now, as opposed to 1,5 (one smaller stage was inside of a tent) before. Besides: Sonar Village lacks some trees. However, all in all: WAY to go, Sonar!

This year was my seventh Sonar and as expected a bit more ‘industry’- like. Firstly due to the preparation and expectations regarding the Bridges for Music conference presented by my V together with the three ambassadors Richie Hawtin, Luciano and Skrillex. Secondly due to not having many of my own friends around, therefore mostly hanging with new acquaintances from the sector, rushing from a place to another to catch up with both artists, concerts and people. Thirdly due to finding myself constantly backstage rather than in front of stages. A slight exaggeration, but still a trend. And I have got some mixed feelings about it actually…

Though I seem to be very happy right here

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To be continued..

Bridges for Music at Sonar 2013

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Few people would have expected to see Richie Hawtin, Luciano and Skrillex in the same panel discussing social responsibility within EDM (Electronic Dance Music), but that is what people got last Friday at Sonar. The three electronic musical icons were invited to talk about their involvement and experiences with the project of Bridges for Music in South Africa together with the organisation’s director, Valentino Barrioseta. For the lattter it was of course like a dream coming true; seldom have I seen his eyes sparkle as much as this day. 😉

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As I lived the experiences up-close together with the above mentioned men and their crews (told in previous posts here), the excitement of seeing them gathered to present it at a festival like Sonar was huge. Considering the full schedules these guys have one can only imagine how much they’ve traveled since February/ March in South Africa.. Thus some days prior to the conference V and I talked about whether it could seem difficult for them to recall how they perceived the special atmosphere during the township events and express it ‘live’. Additionally we were excited to see how many people would appear.

Thumbs up! Despite of being held in English only, the conference attracted over 200 people and what we knew already we just got confirmed again; Rich, Lucien and Sonny are all highly passionate and professional artists that know well how to engage with their audience. From the very beginning they shared their personal reasons for believing in the project and told various anecdotes surrounding their involvement.

Eager to share the moment we posted many quotes directly to Twitter. Have a look:

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It was indeed touching and inspiring to hear the way Rich, Lucien and Sonny talked about their experiences and motivation for the project’s future. And after the screening of this video, I spotted that more than one person was indicating the appearing goose bumps on their arms.

Have you not seen it yet? Then have a look.

If this interests you, please make sure to like Bridges for Music on Facebook and follow the project on Twitter. I can assure you a lot of cool stuff is to come from that side!

Cheerio

Why love festivals

The internet has revolutionized the world in many ways; one being the way we’ve shared and got access to new music. But whilst file downloading facilities for long has been an issue of concern in the music industry because music artists earn a lot less on album sales than what used to be the case, the new paradigm for music sharing has indeed contributed to many positive trends; like for instance the clear increase in live music events.

Think about it. Today’s musicians can share, promote and sell their art via the internet in so many new ways at the same time as they deliver it all in person to their audiences in terms of concerts. Because indeed, the new paradigm has led to new music events popping up, and old ones becoming even more popular. And then I’m particularly speaking about festivals.

As a devoted concert- and festival goer since my early childhood I’m personally very thrilled about this development. And I’m not saying that solely from a hedonistic point of view, but out of the strong belief that we all earn on a world where competition within art sectors is more fair. People become better and happier in a world where we more often get together to enjoy art, created by many more artists because it generates new sources for inspiration and creativity as well as an increased feeling of community.

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Therefore I’ve put together 4 reasons why to LOVE festivals:

1. Festivals cultivate a special type of atmosphere. Festivals are massive events, they become experiences. Think about it, if you go see Coldplay on their own, for example, you might go with one or two friends, you might have a good time, and then the whole thing’s over in two hours. But if you go to a festival, you spend the entire weekend surrounded by a (bigger) group of friends and tens of thousands “alike” people and there are plenty of concerts to choose from.

2. Festivals are great places to discover newer artists. At a regular concert, you go because you know and like that band and want to see it, but at festivals the lineup is varied and really diverse. You can read about unknown bands and go to their set and discover new acts.

3. Festivals offer several alternatives to music acts for peoples’ get-together and inspiration, and cater for more diverse group of people. This means you are more likely to meet many interesting people (like yourself) on a festival. Hours spent in your camp, in toilet- and food & beer queues often means new friendships, or at least a fun flirt and timely deep random conversation with people you don’t know. And trust me, many of these talks wouldn’t be as natural to get into while queuing for an ATM on any high street during a working day. Because people relax and loose up when at a festival. This is what I refer to with ‘the feeling of community’.

4. Lastly, festivals are good for the economy – many ways. Recently I read that according to Steve Baltin from Rolling Stone magazine, the trend of festivals selling out earlier and earlier each year is a reflection of how people are watching their spending these days. He said that “due to recession people don’t have a lot of money, and the economy is struggling, therefore people rather spend $300 to go see 50 bands and get a feel for everything, or go spend $70 to see one of these headlining bands on their own”. I’m not a victim for recession, but follow that strategy anyway, because I feel I get much more value for the money.

Besides, how many concerts have you seen organised as non-profit events? Not many, right. What I early on loved with festivals like Roskilde and Glastonbury is their non-profit structure and choices of worthy causes. I’m confident that this attracts certain people and energies that we have to keep finding place for in this capitalistic world…

Here’s to a very happy festival summer!

 

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Please note: This post is also published on www.RhythmTravels.com