Antonis is the Founder and Editor of Ecoclub.

Thanassis is Free!

According to reports  Thanassis Lerounis has been freed! Lerounis had been working for over 15 years with the Kalash communities of Northern Pakistan, when he was abducted last September. (Background ) He is said to be in good health and back in Chitral.
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'collateral damage'

leaked, shocking video captures the barbarity of war...Apocalypse Again. maximum respect to wikileaks.org and to those who leaked the video. otherwise, lost for words...unlike the trigger happy perpetrators.
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unhappy landings

unhappy landings
Our Member in Laos, Sompawn Khantisouk, co-founder of award-winning Ecolodge "The Boat Landing Guesthouse" suddenly dissappeared on his way to the town in early 2007,  escorted by men in "green uniforms" according to some reports. I had dedicated my presentation at the World Ecotourism Conference to him in May 2007 and enquired for info through contacts, to no avail. Three years after his family is still waiting for him to return... One hypothesis at the time was that he would 'resurface' when things were quiet so that various "stakeholders" could "save face", as is supposedly the cultural norm in these parts. Another hypothesis was that he had stepped on the toes of powerful private interests. An alternative theory, published in an annual review of the region was that Sompawn was made 'an example' , a victim of geopolitics in a border region. Geopolitics is a polite word to describe all those,...
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Thanassis of the Kalash

Thanassis of the Kalash
Thanassis Lerounis, a greek teacher and lone volunteer, selflessly and tirelessly working for over 15 years with the famous Kalash people in the Chitral area of Northern Pakistan (2,500 m. asl),  was abducted, allegedly by Afghan Taliban in September 2009, and is still being held captive in Nooristan. His captors are reported to demand an exchange with a number of captive leaders imprisoned by Pakistani authorities. The last report I have seen on Thanassis was in January 12 2010 in the local Chitral Times  website after a delegation from Chitral went to hold talks with his captors, and includes a photo where he sports a long beard and even smiles. As a teacher he had read about the Kalash tribe, of whom just 4,200 remain, and was fascinated by their traditional belief that they are descendants of soldiers of Alexander the Great, a belief supported by their unique language, customs, and...
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"green development"

  A cartoon by leading greek political cartoonist Yiannis Ioannou, alluding to the latest austerity package introduced by the newly-elected "socialist" government, who before the elections promised green development and social spending, at the request of the guardians of the Euro and to the joy of speculators. Green as in putting green? There is also fear that the government may use the current crisis as an excuse to rush through tourism mega-projects involving holiday homes and golf communities, vigorously opposed by social movements.
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4090 Hits
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another 'aboriginal-friendly' Olympics?

A very interesting article by Martin Lukacs on the attempt of Vancouver Winter Olympiad organisers to choreograph a multiculturally blissful image to the world, while the actual state of indigenous peoples tells a different story:http://www.counterpunch.org/luckas02172010.html QUOTE The evidence is hard to dispute. Roads into most Indigenous reservations, some close to the celebrated Olympic slopes, are dirt. Nearly a hundred communities are on boil alerts, their tap-water undrinkable, this in the country with the world's most fresh water. There is no government strategy to deal with the toxic mold that creeps up walls of cheaply constructed houses; even by the government's own estimates, half require renovation. Aboriginals comprise 4 per cent of the Canadian population, and almost 20 per cent of the inmates of the country's prisons. One of the acknowledged suicide capitals of the world? A small reservation in northern Ontario, where a group of girls once signed a collective suicide...
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education as fitness, students as customers

In a recent electronic discussion, provoked by a student researching "customer satisfaction" in Universities, Professor Jim Macbeth, objected arguing that: QUOTEThe fitness centre is an apt analogy for a university, better than a supermarket or a factory. The fitness centre provides facilities, assessment, counselling and coaching. It invites you to put in considerable effort for your own improvement; you can’t blame the fitness centre if you don’t work hard enough to get fit. The centre does not sell you fitness. Likewise, a university does not sell you learning. It provides libraries, resources, counselling, lectures, tutors, assessment and a program of study. You make choices; you make commitments; you do the learning. I agree with the Professor's viewpoint and objections, however there is a key difference between a fitness centre and a university (although, caveat lector, it is some time since I last visited either).The latter offers a degree, certifying in a...
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a journey most eco

Experience the legendary Transiberian, complete with rumbling wheel sound, from the comfort of your screenby clicking hereEr, do we qualify for any carbon emmissions credits for doing so? ;-)Of course there is room for improvement - forum for virtual passengers, webcam streaming and remote control cameras mounted on different parts of the train. The income/donations could be used for community projects along the (long 9,000 km) way. A (not so busy?) friend who travelled 5 virtual hours on the transgooglian said it was a bit of a dissapointment, having had from childhood so many expectations about the legendary route.  Surely, it must be the fixed, grainy camera.
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no unflattering photos allowed

We are all aware of the many countries where freedom of the press, freedom of expression and various other freedoms are still unknown. But can you be imprisoned for taking images of ordinary people (with their consent) performing every day tasks in your own country? Apparently yes, at least according to the Uzbek special commission set up to 'analyse' big brother style, the everyday pictures of photographer Umida Akhmedova. Have a look for yourself at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8473285.stmAnd this is the website of the Uzbek National Tourism Authority in case you would like to share your thoughts with them as a prospective picture-taking tourist and explain what really makes you want to visit a country (and what puts you off!)
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virtual reality check

virtual reality check
An interesting article, "The US virtual economy is set to make billions"which runs contrary to gloomy current wisdom,reveals how ingrained consumerism (and capitalism?)is in the minds of many ordinary citizens...Of course, that new bubble will also burst, but some will laughall the way to their secret treasure chest under the old garden shed next to the pond(banks are now 'unsafe')Many of those who generally argue for progressive change, and like to speakin the name of "the people", sometimes forget that "the people" apart from thetruly destitute (chronically unemployed, immigrants, minorities and others)also includes a relatively well-off crowd (think lower-middle class)a fair chunk of which is largely ignorant, easily-scared & manipulated but otherwise selfish, prejudiced and disinterested in anything beyond law+order...Aka "the consumer".Virtual games, and day-dreaming communities such as 2nd life (get a life?),seem to be the modern equivalent (and competitor?) of religious satisfaction in the afterlife.In that sense they may be...
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