All Articles Tagged "deaths"
Dr. Wangari Maathai was an activist from the African nation of Kenya who used her political power, education and fierce fighting spirit to preserve the purity of her native environment, while implementing sustainable measures in a way that uplifted women. For these grand achievements, Maathai was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004, becoming the first African woman to win this prize in a moment of pride that inspired the entire continent. She succumbed to cancer late Sunday, leaving as her legacy the reminder that impoverished people and environmental vulnerability are inextricably linked in Africa, and that both needy entities are worth fighting for. Her life is a testimony to the fact that rapid growth in developing countries does not require the destruction of its lands through the rapacious stripping of resources fueled by greed.
Maathai’s work demonstrated that preserving the environment and developing depressed areas economically can and should go hand in hand for the overall betterment of society. And she was not afraid to get tear gassed or beaten by police while demonstrating to preserve the rights of citizens and the sustainability of their lands. She waged her many political battles through the influential organization she founded, The Greenbelt Movement.
Dr. Maathai started The Greenbelt Movement in 1977 to promote her ideals and in the process her organization facilitated the planting of 45 million trees in her native Kenya. Although much of her work focused on her homeland, Maathai’s ideas have spread internationally, leading to the launch of similar programs across the African continent.
Through attaining her PhD — a first for a woman from east and central Africa — Dr. Maathai gained access to European spheres of influence, which enabled her to join powerful organizations like The United Nations Environmental Program. These ties gave her the prestige to promote her Greenbelt Movement, which “went pan-African in 1986, with successful offshoots in at least six African countries,” according to AllAfrica.com.
The importance of The Greenbelt Movement is twofold, because rapid deforestation due to overdevelopment was not only leading to permanent desertification in Kenya; it was also deepening the cycle of poverty caused by the poor degrading the lands by mistreatment in order to survive — while simultaneous diminishing this fragile source of livelihood. Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement both preserved the land from erosion, and gave people jobs planting trees (particularly women) that helped them lead better lives. The New York Times has more on this gentle revolutionary, who it deems an “environmentalist, feminist, politician, anti-corruption campaigner, human rights advocate, [and] protester”:
Marie Lourdes André is suing the fraternity that killed her only son, George Desdunes, who died during a hazing ritual at Cornell University on February 25, 2011. She claims that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity kidnapped him, forced him to drink to the point that his blood alcohol level was five times the legal driving limit, left him bound on a sofa for hours, and then tried to cover their tracks by removing the binds. The bereaved mother hopes her $25 million law suit against the frat will inspire much tougher regulation of frat houses and their absurdly dangerous hazing practices. It would give some purpose to the meaningless loss of her son’s life.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon had already come under fire at Cornell for its hazing manual which included “requiring new members to clean vomit out of a car, purchase illegal drugs and perform sex acts,” according to court documents reviewed by the New York Post. As Desdunes was a new member, he was forced to engage in similar self-destructive activities that tragically cost him his life. The Post describes this poor man’s last night — and the legal consequences of Desdunes’ death:
He was bound and quizzed about SAE lore, because members are required to know as much about the fraternity as new pledges are expected to learn, the suit says.
Members who miss a question are “compelled to drink alcohol, often while blindfolded and tied up,” according to court papers
“Hazing is wrong, immoral and extremely dangerous to the well-being of the fraternity members,” said lawyer William Friedlander, who filed the suit yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Business Insider adds that since the untimely death of George Desdunes, “Cornell forced the frat to vacate the house and the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization shut down the Cornell chapter.” At least one formal step has been taken to administer justice. But it is not enough.
George Desdunes was a quiet soul, who loved church and majored in biology. His mother did not send him away to die. Hopefully, her $25 million law suit will terrify colleges, fraternal organizations, and the students engaging in these rituals to rethink their tolerance and perpetuation of brutal behavior. Common sense and compassion alone are not enough.
(Detroit Free Press) — Bruce Springsteen said the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons loved their fans and gave everything he had every night on stage. ”Clarence lived a wonderful life,” Springsteen said on his Web site following Saturday’s news that the 69-year-old Clemons died following complications from a stroke he suffered June 12. Springsteen added that the loss of Clemons, known as the Big Man, “is immeasurable” and that he and his bandmates “are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years.”
(America’s Wire) — High rates of obesity, high blood pressure and inadequate prenatal care cause death from childbirth more often for African Americans in the United States than for whites and other ethnic groups. Worsening this trend are the increasing numbers of cesarean sections nationally. These procedures can result in deadly complications for women dangerously overweight or suffering from hypertension or other ailments. Nationally, African Americans have a four-times greater risk of pregnancy-related death than whites – a rate of 36.1 per 100,000 live births compared with 9.6 for whites and 8.5 for Hispanics, according to a 2008 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The magnitude of this black-white gap in maternal mortality is the greatest among all health disparities . . . and that gap is growing. It’s unacceptable,” Michael Lu, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health at UCLA and an expert in racial and socio-economic disparities in maternal and infant health, recently told “PBS NewsHour.”