Posts tagged ‘human rights’

Water is a valuable resource.

The editors of the Public Library of Science Medicine are worried that “access to clean water, which is essential for health, is under threat,” due to the privatization of the water industry. It’s a little frightening to learn that clean drinking water has become a $500 billion industry three corporations are dominating.

“This model has proven to be a failure,” wrote Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water issues to the UN General Assembly’s president, in an essay published last year. “High water rates, cut-offs to the poor, reduced services, broken promises and pollution have been the legacy of privatization.”

You can read the full article in Wired Science, but in the mean time, think about the kinds of disasters that happen when money becomes the only priority in dealing with natural resources. (Recall how Colorado law prevents the collection of rainwater or grey water, because they don’t own the rights to the water).

Boing Boing reports that Colorado has reversed their rainbarrel ban, not because it was asinine, but because “A study in 2007 proved crucial to convincing Colorado lawmakers that rain catching would not rob water owners of their rights [to downstream bodies of water].” Cheers.


July 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Canada Hates the Blind

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a meeting in Geneva this week, where the issue of a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and other people with disabilities regarding copyright law.

The purpose of the treaty, introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, is to permit the cross-border import/export of accessible books (like audiobooks, refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or books with large type), so that people with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other reading disabilities can have access to the works, which are expensive to make. Who would object to “a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?”

Well, Canada does, but that’s probably because America does. So does Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Yup. The governments that are supposed to be representing their constituency are willing to place the interests of corporate lobbyists before the rights of disabled people.

As Cory Doctorow says,

We know that WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists — that’s how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back — and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where copyright law protects the public interest.

The proposed treaty is still on the agenda for the next meeting, so you have time to tell your government how disgusted you are that your voice at the meeting thinks it is appropriate to deny equal access to information for people with disabilities. Where I come from, they call that a human rights violation.

Get the word out. Is your MP sick of hearing from you yet?

Via BoingBoing.

May 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm 4 comments

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