Tuesday, March 31, 2009
But trouble looms. The French energy giant Total predicts global demand for oil will drop by 2 million barrels a day. Economists say a decline in remittances from Arabs in the West and the Persian Gulf countries and a sharp drop in commodity prices will eventually increase unemployment and unrest in economically fragile countries such as Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan. The International Monetary Fund has predicted declines in the growth of gross domestic product across the Arab world for 2009. Analysts say North African nations dependent on trade with a faltering Europe will also be hurt."
The Israeli website:
has been maintaining and updating a database of companies that either profit from the Israeli occupation or export products that come from Israeli settlements. The global BDS Movement has called for a boycott of these companies."
Monday, March 30, 2009
"The farmers who work the paddies are graying and dwindling in number. Abandoned, overgrown plots are a common sight. Because of how small their farms are and how far rice prices have fallen, many farmers find it impossible to make ends meet.“Japanese agriculture has no money, no youth, no future,” said one farmer, Hitoshi Suzuki, 57, who stood on his 450-year-old family farm as an icy wind blew from the sea." (Thanks D.)
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thanks for the thought but wouldn't it have been better not to give the cluster bombs to the Israelis to start with?
"We are rich enough. Economic growth has done as much as it can to improve material conditions in the developed countries, and in some cases appears to be damaging health. If Britain were instead to concentrate on making its citizens' incomes as equal as those of people in Japan and Scandinavia, we could each have seven extra weeks' holiday a year, we would be thinner, we would each live a year or so longer, and we'd trust each other more."
Can someone send a copy to all members of the Lebanese government and parliament who are still stuck in antediluvian liberalism?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Alice Fordham on tree planting in AREC.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"The Market is the basis of the development and evolution of societies. It is a choice we cannot go back on. There are no justifications for refusing to hand over public facilities to the private sector."
Monday, March 23, 2009
Israeli troops intervened in the settler-farmer standoff by forcing the Palestinians to remove their clothes, then turning them away from the land.
Local resident Raed Hamdan witnessed the incident. “We own the lands in this area and it belongs to the people of Deir Istiya but the Israeli troops came to the area and forced the young men to strip and searched them with great humiliation despite that they hold special permits to reach their lands.”" (Thanks Marcy)
"This has never been just about business," said Gary Hirshberg, chief executive of Stonyfield Farm, the maker of organic yogurt. "We are here to change the world. We dreamt for decades of having this moment."" (Thanks Yaz)
What Gary forgets to tell us is that the organic Stoneyfield is owned by giant company Danone. Check this earlier post.
"Confirming once again the illegitimacy of the World Water Forum, we denounce the Ministerial Statement because it does not recognize water as a universal human right nor exclude it from global trade agreements. In addition the draft resolution ignores the failure of privatization to guarantee the access to water for all, and does not take into account those positive recommendations proposed by the insufficient European Parliamentary Resolution."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
"A year ago, Mr. Gómez lost his construction job. Now he is harvesting strawberries for $1,100 a month on a farm outside Lepe, in the Andalusian province of Huelva.
"Picking strawberries is the last resort, but it's all there is," Mr. Gómez said, stretching his back on a recent morning as he stood between rows of plants covered by polyethylene tunnels. "The fat cows have gone, and now the lean cows are here."
As jobs disappear across Andalusia, workers like Mr. Gómez are returning to the fields they abandoned for construction sites, hotels and shops during Spain's decade-long economic boom.
They are competing with the migrants who replaced them, fueling resentment that immigrant representatives and farmers worry could become explosive." (Thansk Rania)
"In the dairy section sit many flavors of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt. I knew its socially conscious CEO, Gary Hirshberg, had created major organic brand recognition to become the No. 1 seller of organic yogurt in the United States, but since then Danone, the French conglomerate (which also owns Brown Cow), acquired a majority holding in Stoneyfield. This is the same Danone that had to recall large quantities of its yogurt in 2007 after it was found to contain unsafe levels of dioxins. (In an interesting twist, the still-active Hirshberg sits on the board of Dannon U.S.A. Unlike most of the early entrepreneurs, who took the dough and left the scene, Hirshberg is still involved." (Thanks Marcy)
I met Hirshberg a couple of times in the early 2000's. At the time, selling Stoneyfield to Danone was presented as a major achievement for sustainable agriculture.
As extreme industrialization and capitalist overproduction demands the exploitation of more water resources everyday, access to water resources has become a major source of political conflict. States, multinational corporations and private interest groups established World Water Council (WWC) to commodify and commercialize water resources, and to maximize potential profit. As it is known, World Water Council is an intergovernmental institution that is sponsored and supported by multinational corporations. Yet it is the World Bank and water monopolies which are dominant in the Council, and the Council is striving to ensure that the logic of profit is determining the direction of water`s flow.
The 5th World Water Forum will take place on 16-22 March in Istanbul.
At the moment in Turkey, legislation is being prepared which would give the rivers, lakes and ponds to corporations. In other words, water resources themselves may be transferred to the corporations, which until now only ran water distribution services. This is a new phase in the privatization of water. Therefore the 5th World Water Forum that is going to take place in Turkey is extremely crucial and this move of water corporations must urgently be stopped.
The United Nations and the World Bank consider water to be a need rather than a right. This is a crucial difference. The moment water is defined as a “need” rather than a “right”, it becomes possible to commodify it and make it subject to trade. A second aspect of global water politics is that demand management is proposed rather than supply management in the global management of water resources. In other words the privatization of the management of drinking water,domestic water and irrigation water is being opened up for discussion.
As an inseparable component of social life, water can not be left to the property of persons or institutions including capitalist states themselves. It must be recognized that water belongs to the nature that humanity itself is also a part of. Therefore we demand that only those who accept water as a basic condition of the survival of all living organisms determine how and under which circumstances water can be used by peoples, animals and plants, and not those elected bureaucrats and/or owners of private interests who claim water can be used for capital accumulation.
Confederation Çiftçi-Sen, member of Via Campesina, along with more than 100 other forces of social opposition who defend the right to water should exist formed a platform called No to Commercialization of Water in order to struggle against the World Water Forum. To overcome the corporate interest and demonstrate peoples’ stance on the issue, we collectively work to organize a massive manifestation on March 15th in Istanbul to protest against the World Water Forum. The manifestation will be followed by a set of week long activities, from demonstrations to speeches, workshops and panels that aims at casting a shadow on the WWF.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
"The desperate plight of Ashimah’s parents is shared by thousands of other Bedouin families caring for chronically sick relatives who live in communities to which Israel refuses to supply electricity, said Wasim Abas of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel.
The organization’s latest report, titled “Sentenced to Darkness,” calls the state’s denial of essential services, including running water and electricity, to 83,000 Bedouin in the southern Negev desert, “bureaucratic evil.”
“The suffering of the Bedouin just does not register for most Jews in Israel,” Dr. Ranaan said. “They prefer to trust government officials who tell them that the Bedouin are primitive, stupid and hostile, and that they are trying to take over state land. We have to challenge this racism.”" (Thanks Marcy)
"BEIRUT: If this is the first time you've ever heard of thyme water or mwarraqa - a tasty pastry filled with crushed walnuts and almonds and flavored with rosewater and orange blossom - do not fret, for help has arrived. A new weekly street market in Beirut is now bringing Lebanon's less celebrated gastronomical treats, as well as a more holistic approach to food, to the masses.
Every Tuesday, 15 small-scale food and flower producers set up shop in a narrow alley sandwiched between Radioshack and Bread Republic in Beirut's bustling Hamra district, and sell anything from fresh greens and sweets to soap or traditional cooking pots. The concept of a farmers market is by no means revolutionary, but in Beirut, where the sight of delivery boys handing over bags of cholesterol-packed fast food is as commonplace as the city's noisy traffic jams, Slow Food Beirut's "Earth Market" may well have the potential to change a few people's eating and consumption habits."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
What makes the sector of agriculture even more vital is the following question. Can Kurdistan, a land locked region, feed itself if an economic embargo is imposed on it for one month? It is very doubtful; almost all of our food stuff is from outside our borders, even simple produce like tomatoes, rice, flower? etc. "
Sunday, March 15, 2009
"Bolivia's President Evo Morales has handed over thousands of hectares of land seized from large-scale owners to indigenous farmers.
Mr Morales said the move would encourage people to put country over profit and would end human rights violations against indigenous people.
He had accused the previous owners of abusing workers and misusing the land."(Thanks Yaz)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
"They destroyed our houses, killed dozens of people and they still send us wheat?" said Hamidullah, a local resident who took part in the protests"
Marcy sent me this from Monthly Review. Strong stuff.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Alice Walker on her visit to Gaza
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Water as a human right for the Middle East and North Africa
Authors: A.K. Biswas; E. Rached; C. Tortajada
Publisher: International Development Research Centre , 2008
In 1992, a United Nations declaration proclaimed water as a human right. However, the water profession and the vast majority of governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have not paid much attention.
This online book systematically analyses the legal development of the concept of water as a human right with particular reference to MENA countries. It considers:
Implications for national governments, and international and national organisations
Progress made in different MENA countries - in particular the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Egypt and Lebanon
Water governance and rights-based approaches
The right to water and the MDGs
The role of civil society and the private sector
Obstacles to universal access to water-related services and how they can be overcome.
[adapted from the authors]
Available online at: www.eldis.org/go/topics/
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The socialist leader also threatened to nationalize Venezuela's largest food producer, Empresas Polar, amid rising tension between his government and privately owned food producers that authorities accuse of sidestepping price controls aimed at stemming high inflation.
Chavez said Cargill's plant in Portuguesa state violated local laws by distributing rice without printing the regulated price on its packages. He instructed Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua to "begin the expropriation process."
"Prepare the decree and we'll expropriate Cargill," he said."
"Those were fateful words for brothers Ben and Matthew Freund, second-generation dairy farmers who at the time maintained a herd of 225 Holsteins in East Canaan. Each cow produces 120 pounds of manure daily. Why not grow flowers and tomatoes from cow flops? It took eight years’ development, a $72,000 federal grant secured through Connecticut’s Agricultural Businesses Cluster, and countless grim experiments. Now their manure-based CowPots — biodegradable seed-starting containers — are being made on the farm and sold to commercial and backyard growers who prefer their advantages over plastic pots.Molded of dried, deodorized manure fibers, CowPots hold water well, last for months in a greenhouse and can then be planted directly into the ground, sparing the seedling transplant shock and letting tender new roots penetrate easily. As the pots decompose, they continue to fertilize the plant and attract beneficial worms." (Thanks Laila)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
"How the authors of the new Rough Guide to Food lost their appetites for the food industry.
by George Miller and Katharine Reeve
A surprise consequence of writing a book about food was that we lost our appetite. A month in, we realised we had underestimated just how devastating the effects of our industrial food systems are on our health, animal welfare, climate change and the earth's resources."
From Common Dreams
Monday, March 2, 2009
Arab Jahalin: Story of An Ongoing Nakba
al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine's Southern Bedouin
Sunday, March 1, 2009
"Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it.
"In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart," said Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households. ''We have gone backwards. We had a Ministry of Women's Affairs. We had achieved a parliamentary quota of 20% of seats. We had female diplomats and governors. The military have set us back by decades, sending us back to our traditional roles. We no longer even have a ministry to talk to." Mauritania has suffered a series of coups since independence from France in 1960. The latest, in August last year, saw General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz seize power after the elected president tried to sack him." (Thanks Rania)
"This guy blogs sustainable living in my city - on the northside. I hardly ever see him!
He comments on our water emergency and that we urban customers are being asked to reduce use by 20%:
By his calculations, 4/5 (80%) of diverted water in Cali is used for irrigating crops. So if urban users reduce consumption by 20%, he figures that's a net savings of 3%.
He asks why we don't look at irrigation and how we use water in agriculture.
The 100 billion dollar question."
Laila is a writer who blogs at Dove's eye view, a great blog and I found out today that she has started another blog Think Global, Eat Laurel. I love it.
overhead costs in control were the main drivers of this improvement." (Thanks Rania)