The hidden world of Indonesia’s palm oil industry

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Palm oil is a Janus-faced commodity, worshiped on one side, and condemned by the other. On one side, it helps alleviating our planet’s current global warming problems – all despite slash-and-burn allegations by certain environmental protection movements worldwide. On the other hand, it is one of vicious exploitation, and of repressive human rights abuses, of the labors toiling hard to fulfill the former.

This article, highlighting the situation faced by many of Indonesia’s palm oil industry workers, was released in Bloomberg Businessweek in July 2013. This article serves no intention to outflank one of Indonesia’s most strategic economic sectors, though; it only helps voicing out the concerns of those who have long been oppressed by certain irresponsible corporations in charge of this industry worth 44 billion US$.

Excerpt:

The experience of “Adam,” a 19-year-old Indonesian from North Sumatra, shows the coercion faced by untold numbers of palm oil workers. (Out of concern for their safety, Adam and another alleged victim asked that their names be changed.) In July 2010 a stocky Indonesian foreman named Atisama Zendrato allegedly lured Adam and his cousin two thousand miles away from their home in Nias, a poor, largely underdeveloped North Sumatran island. He promised to pay them $6 a day (roughly the minimum wage at their destination in Borneo) to drive trucks. Partway through the three-week journey to Berau, East Kalimantan—after Zendrato had transported them and 18 other recruits, some as young as 14, to his house in Duri—he compelled them to sign contracts that spelled out different terms, Adam says.

The contracts bound the workers to Zendrato’s boss, a Malaysian based in Medan, North Sumatra, named M. Handoyo, and compelled them “to work without the freedom to choose the type of work, to be obliged to do any work as asked by the employer.” Under the terms, the daily wage was dropped to $5 per day. But Zendrato allegedly said the firm wouldn’t pay workers anything for two years, instead “loaning” them up to $16 a month for necessities such as rudimentary health care. Food beyond meager rations could only be purchased from a company store allegedly owned by Handoyo. The contract stated that workers, who included men, women, and children, would not be allowed to leave the plantation, even temporarily, without permission, and that Handoyo “will not accept any reason/excuse whatsoever from the [worker] to go back to his/her village during the [two-year] term of this contract.”

Gates Foundation presents: condom contest

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The main point is, Bill Gates doesn’t want you to assume he supports freer sex.

This is the statement from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a new round of winners as part of its Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) initiative. GCE grants fund innovative ideas to tackle persistent global health and development problems. Winning proposals this round will tackle a wide range of issues including: using social data for social good, the next generation of condom, helping women farmers in the developing world, new interventions for neglected diseases, and bringing together human and animal health for new solutions.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that over 812 different ideas regarding quality improvement for condoms were submitted to this campaign. Imagine if one of these included a curry-scented version.

Clarification: the condom contest itself is actually just one of numerous others held by the foundation, under the umbrella of Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE). You can read the full report here regarding subcategories other than this one.

Examples of new-generation condoms proposed by some scientists are as follow:

  • Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom will design a male condom out of a composite material that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability.

  • Willem van Rensburg of Kimbranox Ltd. in South Africa will test a condom applicator, the Rapidom, which is designed for easy, technique-free application of male condoms. Kimbranox will test an applicator designed to be applied with one motion, thereby minimizing interruption.

The psychology of curvy architecture

qatar 2022

 

Zaha Hadid’s latest work for Qatar’s World Cup 2022 football stadium – intended to reflect the shape of dhow, a traditional Arab fishing boat – triggered much criticism, some of whom claimed it bears more resemblance to vagina. But what, in your own perception, do you see?

 

After centuries of rigorous architectural principle which favored the quintessence of straight lines, a new trend has been surging in grassroots level to dismantle the current tenet. Curvy architecture – as some have recently called it – is now an emerging, avant-garde concept being used in some of the world’s major cities.

The question is: what psychological factors that account for the emergence of such brand-new principle? Some experts, having conducted experiment on certain individuals, perceive that this trend itself is in parallel with an ever-growing popularity of environmental conservation movements worldwide, which assume curvy lines do ‘lean’ more to the side of nature. Others, however, point out another, one that some can assume as ‘dirty-minded’: this architectural style is a further extension of human’s sexual expression. On an objective view, one can neither say that this theory is fallacious, though.

And what do you think, in your own opinion?

Read the full article on CNN International.