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Bolivia gets the change it asked for

Mark Weisbrot, The Nation
Evo Morales changed the history of Bolivia when he was elected in December 2005 as the country’s first indigenous president, and the first to get a majority of 54 percent. On Sunday he expanded his mandate considerably in a referendum, with 68 percent of voters opting to keep him in office.

… Morales had promised to regain control over the country’s hydrocarbon resources–mostly natural gas. This was accomplished and has brought in an extra $1.5 billion of revenue to the public treasury. (For comparison, imagine an extra $1.6 trillion, or four times the current US federal budget deficit, in the United States.)

… In developing countries throughout the world that are dependent on hydrocarbons, these revenues generally belong to the central government, not the place where they are located. Bolivia is unusual, in that half of the hydrocarbon revenue goes to the provinces and local governments.

… Bolivia is South America’s poorest country, with 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line, and 38 percent in extreme poverty. The voters have overwhelmingly decided that they want their government to do something about that. This should be possible, even if it means redistributing some of the country’s most important natural resources.
(15 August 2008)

Life is a misery for ‘married bachelors’ in the UAE

ramavaran, Khaleej Times
Leaving their families and children in their home countries, a large number of expatriates are forced to live a bachelor’s life in the UAE. They are unable to bring their families here because of high rents and the spiralling cost of living.They miss their children as much as their children miss them back home. The suffering is part of their deal for a better future as they try their best to cope with the situation, which is not always possible. T Ramavarman speaks to a number of expatriates to know their views.

… The isolation and anxiety associated with the status of ‘married bachelors’ often leads to psychiatric problems.

Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common problems among such patients, according to psychiatrist Dr K. K. Muraleedharan, who works in Abu Dhabi’s Ahalya Hospital.

“Some turn to substance abuse and alcohol. There are some who might develop psycho-sexual dysfunctions. Forgetfulness, lack of concentration in work and low self-esteem are among the most prevalent symptoms among such patients,” says Dr Muraleedharan.

“But all these changes are reversible with proper counselling and medicare.” “Basically, in the absence of a family, such people lack the social support system. It may not always be possible to make friendship with such close bondage. The stress at the workplace and issues like the rising cost of living, add fuel to the fire,” he points out.(16 August 2008)

Fresh start for Nigerian oil activists?

Andrew Walker , BBC Online
Cherie Kanaan’s family live only yards away from an oil well in Ogoniland in the heart of Nigeria’s troubled Niger Delta.

For the past 13 years, no oil has been pumped out of the ground here after Royal Dutch Shell stopped operations following environmental protests that led to the execution by the military of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Now the whole of Ogoniland is expecting Shell to be replaced and the drilling to restart.

When that happens the massive machinery of drilling, and its associated fumes and noise will return.

Since moving to the village of Kdere nine years ago, Mrs Kanaan has had four children.

Realistically there is no way her family will be able to stay there if another oil company comes back.

“I am afraid for my children,” she says…
(11 August 2008)
Some of the cost of our addiction-SO