Mr Oh – also known as ‘Killer Smile’ – became homeless after his family business failed and he struggled to find work. For the past four years he has been selling The Big Issue Korea in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. While the nation has rapidly become an economic powerhouse, it remains beset by homelessness and unemployment. The Big Issue Korea provides housing and employment support and arranges cultural activities for its vendors. Patrick Witton, The Big Issue Australia’s Contributing Editor, recently met Mr Oh and found out how selling the magazine helped him find a home and reconnect with his family.
Toxic, poisonous, deadly – in the last few years, sugar has attracted some less-than-sweet commentary, including the new indie documentary, That Sugar Film. In 2014, the World Health Organization recommended halving the recommended sugar intake. But what about the industry that produces it? Australia remains one of the world’s biggest sugar exporters with about 4000 cane farms in the north bringing in an estimated $1.5–$2 billion to the local economy. Greg Foyster visits Australian sugar town Bundaberg to investigate what effect, if any, the recent controversy is having on the industry.
An Australian actor who set out to expose hidden sugar in health food said he gained 8.5 kg (19 lb) and a paunch after a 60-day low-fat diet, including yogurt, cereal, muesli bars and juices. Damon Gameau's new documentary, "That Sugar Film", studies the effect of consuming what it says is the average daily sugar intake for Australian adults - the equivalent of 40 teaspoons - on the human body. "That Sugar Film", featuring cameos by actors Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry, opened in Australian cinemas this month and will be released in Britain in March.
A charity football tournament for disadvantaged children around the world will take place in Cairo, Egypt in August. Under the patronage of some of the Middle East's biggest soccer stars, the summer event held at the Cairo Indoor Stadium will bring together eight teams of boys aged 14-15. SATUC, the charity behind the event, believe it will open up new opportunities and new hope in the lives of kids from some of the world's toughest urban environments. Colin Donald reports for INSP.
Menstruation is a natural and regular part of life for many women. But for those experiencing homelessness, finding a pad or tampon can be harder than finding a meal or a new pair of socks. Lack of access to proper menstrual products can mean using less safe alternatives, such as paper towels, washcloths and even socks, and these items are often used for longer than is safe. As a solution, a group of high school students has launched Camions of Care, a free service that provides free feminine hygiene products to women living on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Since December 2014, it has delivered more than 350 care packages.
American music icon and songwriting legend Steve Earle speaks to The Contributor about his new album Terraplane, his love of the blues and writing songs for women. “I come from a golden era of rock and pop, when the music was pretty special, very alive and it pulled you in. Once you’ve done that, it’s hard to walk away,” says Earle.
At a time when corporate capitalism is driving catastrophic inequality and environmental degradation, the term social enterprise has moved beyond buzzword across the community, corporate and government sectors to a movement of great hope. And yet a standard definition remains elusive. So...what exactly is a social enterprise? Michael Green investigates for The Big Issue – one of Australia’s best known social enterprises.
In Thae Chaung village, a teeming camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar, it's easy to overlook the internet huts. The raw emotion they generate is much harder to ignore. They are filled with dusty laptop computers that allow Rohingya, a mostly stateless people living in grim conditions in Rakhine State, to contact relatives who have left on boats for Thailand and Malaysia. The huts also provide a chilling insight into the human traffickers who prey upon the boat people and the families they leave behind. Reuters reports with a stunning selection of photos taken by Reuters’ photographer Minzayar.
A Croatian computer expert has developed a free app that scans and solves maths equations. PhotoMath has been downloaded more than 11 million times since its introduction in October and now averages about 1.5 million users every month. The creator has received scores of emails from grateful students, parents – and even teachers. "As a means for [students] to check their work it’s unrivalled ... They are far more likely to 'listen' to an electronic device," said one British teacher.
For most Sri Lankans seeking asylum in Australia, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just a sad return journey home. Since Australia launched Operation Sovereign Borders in September 2013 at least 15 boats have been turned back at sea. Last year only one boat reportedly reached Australia. Officials claim that the new screening process saves lives and assures that Australian asylum policies are not abused. Yet the policy has been criticised by activists as well as rights groups, and may not deter those most desperate for asylum. “There is no hope here; even risking death [to reach Australia] is worth it,” says one young Sri Lankan.
The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, is deploying a new forensic weapon – DNA testing – to track illegal ivory products responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of endangered elephants in Asia and Africa. Widely used in criminal cases, forensic DNA examination can help identify whether the elephant tusk is from Asia or Africa. The project is a collaborative effort between Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and TRAFFIC, to battle the widespread illegal trade of ivory in Thailand.
Internet cats – they used to be something you just wasted a few minutes on at lunchtime. Now Ninja Cat, Lil BUB, Grumpy Cat and their fellow furry YouTube felines are worth millions of dollars, and they're taking over the real world too, with the first Cat-Con convention in LA and Internet Cat Video Festivals taking place across the planet. The Big Issue’s Vicky Carroll meets the artist who invented the first big YouTube cat sensation (Keyboard Cat) and the people who run these festivals to find out why we are all now slaves to cute kittens.
In expensive Vancouver where rental rates are pricing many people out of the market, groups of innovative renters are taking matters into their own hands. They’re pooling their resources and renting mega-mansions on the outskirts of the city where they live with multiple roommates to cut down on costs. Could this kind of supersized co-living be a viable option for renters across North America? David P. Ball investigates for Megaphone.
Last December, Nashville protesters joined nation-wide demonstrations held in response to a Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to charge officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014. DJ Hudson leads the Black Lives Matter movement in Nashville, a city with a strong history of Civil Rights protests and sit-ins. She tells The Contributor why the Civil Rights Movement continues in the city. “We’ve got to let everyone know that there is no justice right now for young black men killed at the hands of police officers. We’ve got to not only make that illegal, but socially unacceptable.”
Despite an estimated 80,000 people in Japan using prosthetic limbs, there remains a stigma of amputation in a country that still holds negative views about disability. Prosthesis maker Fumio Usui hopes to change public opinion and give amputees a new lease of life with his range of designer prostheses. “They make you forget about disability," he said at a fashion show for his new collection. "I want to show that prostheses can be cool and sometimes even cute," added 33-year-old amputee Sato as she modelled a prosthetic leg painted with cherry blossoms and gilded Japanese fans. "It would be great if people felt that prostheses could be fashion items.”
A prominent American Catholic gay rights group has been given VIP treatment for the first time at an audience with Pope Francis, a move members saw as a sign of change in the Roman Catholic Church. A pilgrimage of 50 homosexual Catholics attended the audience in St. Peter's Square and sat in a front section with dignitaries and special Catholic groups. "What this says is that there is movement in our Church, movement to welcome people from the outside closer to the inside," said Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, which ministers to homosexual Catholics and promotes gay rights in the 1.2 billion-member Church.
More than 1,500 children are living or working on Lebanon's streets, nearly three-quarters of them Syrian and most scraping a living by begging or roadside vending, reveals a recent study. These children earned an average of less than $12 per day and more than half were aged between 10 and 14 years old. The number of children begging in Lebanese cities is one of the most visible signs of the country's refugee crisis. Lebanon hosts more than 1.5 million Syrians from the civil war next door, the highest refugee population in the world per capita.
Most of Africa’s 2,000 plus languages have no word for cancer, yet the disease threatens to supersede infections of HIV and AIDS. While many cancers are linked to unhealthy diets and smoking, a large number – particularly in Africa – are caused by infections like hepatitis B and C which can lead to liver cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes almost all cervical cancers. Global health organisations and experts fear Africa, which has a shortage of cancer specialists, is ill-prepared for another health crisis of enormous proportions.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has compiled an extensive study of the whole world’s progress on climate change. It ranks countries on responsibilities for climate change, judges a country’s adaptability to climate change and provides detailed forecasts of what each country can expect in the coming years, effectively providing a blueprint for action at a moment when many scientists fear that time is running out for saving the planet from catastrophic climate change. It also estimates that global economic losses by the end of the current century could reach 25 trillion dollars.
In Central America, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community suffer harassment, mistreatment and even attacks on a daily basis because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A regional programme “Centroamérica Diferente” (Different Central America) is being implemented in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to secure respect for the human rights of people with different sexual orientations or gender identities. “We want to improve the quality of life of the LGBTI community, so we are no longer discriminated against by sectors and institutions of the government,” said campaigner Eduardo Vásquez.