There have been so many tributes from so many people, that anything I write seems insignificant. After all, I can’t say I knew him or ever met him, and I don’t have a memorable “Mandela and Me” moment to share. But like me, there are millions of ordinary people in this country and all around the world, who never met him, yet could not help being touched in some profound way by his extraordinary life.
For a moment it appeared that the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investments in coal fired power plants. The bank even seemed to have issued a press release on the matter. But, unfortunately, the message was not real. During the annual press conference of the bank the activists, who were the source of the fake press release, stroke again. In the name of ‘the citizens of Europe’, EIB president Werner Hoyer was awarded with the ‘World Coal Down Award’. Hoyer, who was confused for a second, did not accept the award. The EIB fiercely denied the rumors surrounding the investment stop on coal with the term 'pure nonsense'.
Today is International Women's Day. A day originating from women's strikes against poor working conditions in the textile industry, some 100 years ago. Since then, a lot has improved for women but, unfortunately, men and women obviously still don’t have equal rights. In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir already warned that ‘women’s rights will never be vested. You have to stay vigilant your whole life’. Recent developments such as the tightening of abortion laws in some countries confirm this view and show that even in the ‘free West’ women’s rights are still far from self-evident.
Over the past 15 years the production of palm oil has increased enormously, and not without reason: palm oil, pressed from the fruit of the oil palm, is cheap and is used in many different products. It is processed in ice cream, chocolate, margarine and sauces, but also in personal care products and cosmetics such as lipstick, detergent, toothpaste, soap and biofuel. Unfortunately, the large demand for palm oil has quite some negative side effects: large-scale deforestation, pollution, 'land grabbing' and above all human rights violations are common practice in countries where palm oil is produced.