Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The loom doom

"In the short term, a decline in food and basic commodity prices has relieved pressure on Arab consumers. Many of the oil-rich gulf states such as Saudi Arabia built up huge cash reserves and sovereign wealth funds during the time of peak oil prices that will help them weather the downturn.

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."

Sanctions work

"A report published Sunday in the Hebrew-language business paper 'The Marker', 21% of Israeli exporters say that they have been directly impacted by a boycott of Israeli products since the beginning of 2009.

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

Adam's apples and Eve's undies

An interesting (Arabic) article in Al Hayat: Israel is courting the Syrians through offers of "economic normalization". First step: increase of the quantity of apples allowed to be exported from the Golan to Syria, and the transformation of Majdel Shams into a formal "border" point. The next offer is to import from Syria cotton clothing and underwear to replace Chinese imports. The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie takes a whole new dimension. (Fabulous book, click on the cover to read)

Seven million away

Yemen: Seven million people below the poverty line. 40% of the rural people are poor (Al Hayat)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eat the view

"Just days after First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground for a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, California's first lady announced that Sacramento is getting a public edible garden too."

Herbal treatment

"Authorities shut down a clinic Saturday for promoting unlicensed sexual enhancement medication and weight loss pills on a satellite channel. ...A customer would come in with a complaint, usually obesity or sexual dysfunction, and then the clinic would hook the patient up on the phone with a remote 'physician' in Lebanon, who would listen to the complaint and then prescribe a certain blend of herbs for treatment. The patient would be told to obtain the medicine from the clinic only, nowhere else."

The biggest

"The Damascus Gate restaurant benefits from its proximity to the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad and a major attraction for Shia tourists from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Fatima Abbas from Lebanon says she visits the restaurant every time she comes to the shrine. “We come here because it’s so big and it’s so famous,” she tells me, eating dessert while her husband smokes a hubble bubble pipe. “The food is good, especially the kabseh [Saudi-style rice]. “It’s not as good as Lebanese food, but Syria is famous for its sweets.” "

Friday, March 27, 2009


"Washington has donated $1.5 million to help a humanitarian organization destroy conventional weapons spread across Lebanon's south, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut said Thursday.The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) will use the funds, donated by the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, to dispatch expert teams to at least eight regions in the south and to "survey some 680,000 square meters of land.""

Thanks for the thought but wouldn't it have been better not to give the cluster bombs to the Israelis to start with?


Badael-Alternaives in Al-Akhbar today: my editorial on the world water forum and Lebanon's addiction to privatization. Muhammad Muhsin writes about vegeterianism in Lebanon and Rana Hayek on how vegetables and fruits ain't what they used to be.

We do better when we're equal

Lynsey Hanley reviews Wilkinson and Picket's book: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.

"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

With a little help from my friends

"DOHA: The Indonesian government is encouraging Qatari businessmen to invest on rice farmlands through joint venture project to meet the demands of quality rice for consumption in the Middle East, according to a top official of the Indonesian Embassy here. "

Seeds of change

"The political aspect becomes apparent when talking to Rami Zurayk. People are, to this professor of Ecosystem Management at AUB, inseparable from plants. Zurayk was overseeing events at AREC and said that if the volunteers were to take one thing away from their day at the farm, it is that, “AUB is a place that feels very strongly that it has a social responsibility. It is not only a teaching institution; it also contributes to human wellbeing… Today we have planted seeds,” he said, “literally and figuratively.” He explained that the trees cultivated on the project are used in joint projects with municipalities in which communities agreed to look after trees in exchange for some green space in their village. This was important because, although environmental awareness is increasing in Lebanon, “environmental concerns alone do not create a country… Environmental justice is part of social justice. We cannot create large green spaces that are not available to everyone.”"

Alice Fordham on tree planting in AREC.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The official position of the current Lebanese government, represented by a key minister of the majority:

"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."


I wrote this short article on freediving and the ban affecting it for the sports page of Al Akhbar.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The naked truth

"The men, from Deir Istiya southwest of Nablus, were on their way to tend lands west of the village that are sandwiched between two Israeli settlements, Ariel and Immanu’el. The men all had permits to access the land, but were accosted by a group of at least 15 armed Israeli settlers and prevented from passing into their land.

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 blog provides a blow by blow account of the World Water Forum.

The Obama inspired food and farming: real change?

"Although unit sales of organic food have leveled off and even declined lately, compared with a year earlier, the mood among those crowded into the conference room was upbeat as they waited for a private screening of a documentary called "Food Inc." — a withering critique of agribusiness and industrially produced food. They also gathered to relish their changing political fortunes under the administration of President Barack Obama.

"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.

Water foul

There's been a lot of activity around the latest world water forum (WWF, not to be confused with the other WWF) taking place in Istanbul. I blogged an appeal from La Via Campesina (who are always right on these issues, let it be known) and here's a piece from AFP titled "Activists slam water forum". Marcy sent me a link to an opinion piece in the Independent by the president of Coca Cola Great Britain. Please read and then read the comments. If you ever need to illustrate "greenwashing" you know where to go. To put things in context (my context, of course) here's a link to a ite called water justice where one can find lots of resources about the role of multinationals in trying to control fresh water. Normal: fresh water is a very scarce resource, and we all need it. Check the latest Bond movie for more on the topic and my post on the subject. And for those who like things to be a bit more academic, check the site of the Transnational Institute wher you will find the Water Justice Turkey declaration, as well as good reference on effective public-public parterships in water.
"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

The end of food

"Responding to reports that the Obamas would be planting arugula, Pollan said he specifically warned the president against planting the leafy lettuce. "I said be careful about arugula or you'll be accused of elitism."" (Thanks Marcy)

West Bank Bedouins on the brink

Photo essay from the BBC

Mother's day

150,000 children live in abject poverty in Lebanon. I assume their mothers and fathers do too.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Badael-Alternatives in Al Akhbar. My editorial on the political program of the March 14 movement and its environmental and social concerns. Muhammad Muhsin covers a recent activity by the consumer's association of Lebanon to encourage children to eat healthy. The ABC of food: for the letter tha as in "the", I chose maize (zura) to talk about biofuels and the tortilla crisis.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Last Spanish resort

"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)

Who owns who?

"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.

Virtual liberation

The Lebanese army has been busy in the south, redrawing the Blue Line with the UNIFIL forces. It turns out we had been cheated out of 3.1 km2. Much more is still under Israeli occuppation but this is a good start. However, these lands have only been virtually liberated: most are heavily mined and Israel refuses to give the mine location maps.

La Via Campesina: say no to the privatization of water

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.

More on La Via's site

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Israel: the art of darkness

"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)


Earth market in Hamra

"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


The Lebanese version of the free market: Read here (in Arabic) how the small farmers of `Akkar work hard to increase the profits of the traders.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The power of aid

"Egyptian newssite Al-Youm Al-Sabi’ reported today:

US aid destroys Egyptian agriculture, it is conditioned to buy agriculture-machinery from the US market."

The Kurdish question

"What is going to be scare and valuable in the near future is food supplies, the global population is growing bigger and bigger and food supplies are getting smaller. This will put countries, like Kurdistan, with good natural agricultural resources in a great advantage. Kurdistan needs its own agriculture for feeding its people and as the gateway into the global market.
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. "

Electoral Markets

The March 14 coalition made its 14-points electoral program public. One of the points is about conserving the environment through market-based incentives.

Slow Food and slavery

"At first glance, Slow Food and CIW seem like strange bedfellows. Slow Food arose, in part, as a reaction to the industrial-style agriculture system in place in Immokalee. The mission of Slow Food is to encourage food that is "good, clean, and fair." Even if Immokalee's tomato pickers were treated like kings, most Slow Foodists would consider the demise of industrial tomato farming a good thing." (Thanks Marcy)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Morales is high for those who want land reforms

"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

Edible Palestine

From the excellent blog: Mapping the margins

Good old days

"Apparently produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents' days, it also contains fewer nutrients — at least according to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago." (Thanks Marcy)

Friday, March 13, 2009


Badael-Alternatives: My editorial: the project of a nation, on the failure to pass the Lebanese food law. Rana Hayek on what hides behind the food we eat, and two small news items about the increase in the prices of fresh vegetables due to the Christian fast, and about camomille.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Commodity fetishism

"Although people may claim not to believe in the political system, their inert cynicism only validates that system. This is all explained, according to Zizek, by Marx's theory of "commodity fetishism", the idea that the way we behave in society is determined by objective market forces rather than subjective beliefs. "The importance is in what you do, not in what you think. I love this dialectical reversal."

Do they care?

"Land degradation has also destroyed 34 per cent of irrigated agricultural land in the region and the report says that the Arab region loses US$5 billion of agricultural revenue per year because of desertification."


"Failing to find new markets, Vegetexco, an exporter of fruits and vegetables, has decided to return to old markets, including Russia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Middle East and Egypt. The loyal importers have been cutting orders continuously. They have even canceled signed contracts since the Russian ruble has been depreciating with a value of 40% lost so far".

The soils of war

"In this Briefing, we look at how the US's agricultural reconstruction work in Afghanistan and Iraq not only gives easy entry to US agribusiness and pushes neoliberal policies, something that has always been a primary function of US development assistance, but is also an intrinsic part of the US military campaign in these countries and the surrounding regions. Seen together with the growing clout that the US and its corporate allies exercise over donor agencies and global bodies -- such as the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centres, which influence the food and farm policies adopted by the recipient countries -- this is an alarming development. These are not unique cases born from unusual circumstances, but constitute a likely template for US activities overseas, as it continues to expand its "war on terror" and pursue US corporate interests."
"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

The color red

""We were indoctrinated to the song in that film Exodus, you know, 'This land belongs to us, this land is our land,' meaning the Israelis, the Jews, and for so long, we were told that nobody lived here, that it was a land without people, for a people without land," she said."

Alice Walker on her visit to Gaza

Land in my heart

Palestinian medical sources in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that a farmer suffered a heart attack two days ago after the Israeli Army uprooted his olive trees in the village of Ras Tira, near Qalqilia.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Water as a human right for the Middle East and North Africa

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/resource-guides/health&id=42063&type=Document

Saturday, March 7, 2009


In Al Akhbar: Badael. My editorial: Buyers and Sellers, on Lebanon's obsession with joining WTO, with a special tribute to women farmworkers on the occasion of International Women's Day. Rana Hayeck writes on how the invasion is changing the nature of agriculture in Iraq. Rana has also initiated a new series on food culture and here she writes about the Grind, non-commercial whale hunting in the Fjords of the Faroe Islands, and the controversy that surrounds this ancient practice.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cargill Inc. apacitated

"President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of a rice-processing plant in Venezuela owned by American food giant Cargill Inc. on Wednesday because the company allegedly was not distributing rice at prices imposed by the government.

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."

Cow potty

"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)

Mother Earth

"Women own nearly half of Iowa’s farmland. But they find they have a common problem: The men they hire to farm their land often don’t treat it with the tender care they expect – and often won’t listen when they complain about it." (Thanks Toufic)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Review: The Rough Guide to Food

"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

Aid yourself

"The US is the world largest donor of food and the only developed country yet to break the link between foreign food aid and supporting its own farmers, but US NGOs say sentiment is moving in favour of reforming US food aid policy, with the focus shifting towards buying food aid in the beneficiary country rather than shipping it from the US." (Thanks Marcy)


Bioprodukte aus dem Kriegsgebiet

"Aber seit einiger Zeit kommt doch Hilfe aus Beirut, zumindest in Form eines Projektes: Der Umwelt- und Ernährungswissenschaftler Rami Zurayk gründete das Projekt "Land & People", um die Landwirte nachhaltig zu unterstützen."

Monday, March 2, 2009

West Bank Bedouins

"Today, Arab Jahalin is the largest group of Palestinian Bedouin in the West Bank, both in terms of the large area of land they inhabit and in terms of population, which numbers around 7,500. The forced displacement of Arab Jahalin began in the Naqab in 1948, and continued throughout the 1970s until the present day, and now threatens the very existence of the community. Every time a new Jewish settlement is established or an existing one is expanded, expulsion of the indigenous Bedouin communities, including Arab Jahalin, follows. Furthermore, due to the fact that the Jahalin are spread around Jerusalem, they are harshly affected by the construction of the Wall and the continued expansion of the settlements. Thus, for Arab Jahalin the Nakba – the mass displacement of Palestinians from historic Palestine in 1948 – has never ended."

Arab Jahalin: Story of An Ongoing Nakba

by Reem Mazzawi

Al Naqab

"Between 1948 and 1967, population transfer (ethnic cleansing), dispossession and oppression proceeded through a discriminatory military regime that controlled Palestinian Arabs who managed to remain within the borders of the new state; these military laws did not apply to Jewish Israelis. The approximately 10,000 Palestinian Bedouin who managed to remain in the Naqab were systematically rounded up and forcibly transferred and confined to the so-called siyaj (fenced) area located in the north-east corner of the Naqab, just south of the West Bank, in a triangle marked by the towns of Beersheba, Arad and Dimona."

al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine's Southern Bedouin

by Hazem Jamjoum

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)


Laila's laurel's

Dear Laila sent me this from Oakland, Ca. I post with her permission.

"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.


"Jordan Phosphate Mines Company's (JOPH) net sales increased dramatically in 2008 to hit JOD 847 million in comparison to JOD 355 million for 2007, mainly because of higher demand and much higher prices of phosphate and fertilizers worldwide. As a result, JOPH net profit margin improved in 2008 to reach 28% compared to 13% in 2007. The increase in sales and keeping
overhead costs in control were the main drivers of this improvement." (Thanks Rania)