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In Gaza, it’s not easy being green

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-- This story by Theodore May originally appeared in Global Post. Any opinions expressed are his own. --

In the small central Gaza town of Deir el Belah, one family has made a cottage industry out of green innovation.

“There was a period in Gaza when there was no gas or you had to wait for hours in line to get gas. So we made the oven according to our needs,” said Maher Youssef Abou Tawahina, who, along with his father, runs a hardware shop in town.

Abou Tawahina is referring to a solar-powered oven that he and his family invented two years ago. The oven, which sits in the family’s backyard, takes five minutes to heat up using electricity. Then, its glass ceiling uses the sun to continue the heating process. The oven is not quite hot enough for baking bread, he said, but it's perfect for roasting chicken.

from FaithWorld:

Opinion: Why France is right about the burqa

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Women wearing niqabs in Marseille, December 24, 2009/Jean-Paul Pelissier

global_post_logoThis article by Olivier Guitta originally appeared in GlobalPost.

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The burqa has nothing to do with religion. It is a way for fanatical men to control women.

PARIS, France — In his 2009 Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned no fewer than three times the issue of the headscarf, or hijab. Each time, his purpose was to stress "the right of women and girls to wear the hijab" — but never their right not to wear it.

from Environment Forum:

Walmart accused of hypocrisy in green initiatives

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Just last month, Walmart announced that it would be moving to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from stores across the United States to reduce their collection in landfills. While they’ve demonstrated positive green initiatives, this week there’s been accusations of hypocrisy because they’ve been passing off a harmful, manufactured textile as sustainable.

Environmental advocates had been applauding Walmart for their plastic bag reduction goals and the installation of more energy-efficient systems. For example, coolers that only light up when a shopper’s presence is detected. So this new accusation from the Federal Trade Commission comes at a bad time.

from Global News Journal:

Where gays do serve, openly, in the military

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global_post_logoC.M. Sennott

In many corners of the world, the policy on gays in the military could be labeled this way: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Care.”

In the military establishments of more than 30 countries, including U.S. allies such as Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom, gays and lesbians are allowed to openly serve in their country’s military.

from Environment Forum:

Haiti’s tragedy belongs to the environment

QUAKE-HAITI/

global_post_logo This commentary by Stephan Faris originally appeared in GlobalPost. The views expressed are his own.

Most people wouldn’t consider an earthquake to be an environmental issue. But while the tremors that shattered Haiti early this month have nothing to do with the island’s degradation, the extent of the suffering they unleashed is a direct result of the country’s ecological woes.

from Global News Journal:

An effective weapon in the war on terror: women

An internally displaced girl peers from behind her mother as they sit at a bus terminal in Karachi, while waiting to return to their home in the Swat Valley region August 11, 2009

global_post_logoC.M. Sennott serves as a GlobalPost correspondent, where this article first appeared.

BOSTON — In Peshawar, Pakistan, the sermons of radical imams are carried on loudspeakers atop the minarets of mosques, and the words echo in the narrow streets.

from The Great Debate:

How to finance the war in Afghanistan?

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global_post_logo-- This opinion piece was written by C.M. Sennot for GlobalPost. The views expressed are his own. It was originally published here on GlobalPost. --

The last time America had to borrow money to finance a war was during the Revolution and a cash-strapped Continental Congress took loans from France to fund a surge against the British.

from Global News Journal:

Are Pentagon contracts funding the Taliban?

An Afghan contractor stitches name badges for German armed forces Bundeswehr and NATO allied forces at his shop at Camp Marmal, in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan April 15, 2009. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Jean MacKenzie covers Afghanistan for GlobalPost. She is program director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Afghanistan, which she's held for four years. This article originally appeared in GlobalPost.
KABUL — It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

from The Great Debate:

Profile of courage

kennedy2By John Aloysius Farrell -- the views expressed are his own. This article first appeared on GlobalPost.

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy will cost the United States not just a passionate voice for economic and racial justice, but also its irreplaceable champion of a liberal, less belligerent, humanistic foreign policy.

from India Insight:

India’s unfriendly skies

- Saritha Rai writes for the GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. -Not long ago, passengers of India's airlines were spoiled with choices. One promised to treat them like a maharajah. Its passengers were greeted curbside by friendly staff who eagerly took their bags. Once aboard, glamorous female flight attendants waited on the passengers.Another offered meal choices from a list so long that it ran off the page, even on flights that lasted less than two hours. A third had fares so low that thousands of train passengers found it cheaper and faster to fly."I always felt like royalty when I traveled, it was all so unreal and fantastic," said Janaki Murali, a frequent flyer who works with one of India’s largest outsourcing firms based in Bangalore.Alas, it was also too good to last.Last week, a grouping of 10 private carriers --  including popular upstarts Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways --  threatened to stop operations for a day on Aug. 18 to draw attention to their sorry financial plight. A strike, they reasoned, would be a dramatic way to get the attention of the government.And with reason. Private airlines have been a key part of India's economic boom: they ferry more than half of the country's passengers.But the carriers are hurting, due to a combination of slower economic growth and government policies. State taxes make jet fuel 60 percent more expensive, one of the highest tax structures in the world. (The government uses the funds to subsidize the cost of others fuels such as kerosene and diesel for poorer Indians.)Private carriers have long lobbied the government to reduce these aviation fuel taxes, as well as high airport charges, so far to no avail.Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant owner of Kingfisher Airlines -- which is named after Mallya's beer brand -- said India’s airlines were being "taxed to death."For now, the crisis has been averted. A public outcry and a tough-talking government forced the private airlines to back off from their strike plan. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) said that the boycott was canceled "in view of the agitated public sentiment" and the government’s call for a dialogue.But some of the private airlines' woes have been their own doing. During the aviation boom of the last few years, private airlines have proliferated.Many airlines, including Kingfisher and Jet Airways, have built up excess capacities, even as cut-throat competition and falling demand for air travel have eaten away their profits. The FIA said India's airlines lost $2 billion during the last financial year.But even as private airlines demanded the government ease some of their financial burden, Delhi is considering handing a $3 billion bailout package to the national carrier, Air India.The bloated state-owned airline is a loss-maker crumpling under its own debt. Air India has 147 aircraft but about 47,000 employees - making it the most profligate employee to aircraft ratio in the world.Meanwhile, private airlines are also pushing the government to ease the current rules that ban foreign carriers from buying a stake in domestic airlines.For many, foreign investment appears the only hope for raising funds, a challenge at a time when the biggest global airlines are themselves cash-strapped.Clearly, the days of big orders for planes, new routes and lavish marketing budgets are over. Right now, India's airlines are just fighting for survival.For passengers like Janaki Murali, who had quickly gotten used to the premium service and an abundance of flight choices, that is a hard landing indeed.More from Global Post:The Ugly IndianThe Mormons in IndiaCan you outsource God?

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