Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coke for thirst

"Sharma's 10 hectare farm is a short distance away from a controversial Coca-Cola bottling plant which is blamed by farmers for contributing to the water shortage by pushing down the water table in an area that is semi-arid, enjoys very little rainfall and is prone to drought.

He gestures towards his wheat and barley fields and buffaloes. "My crops and my cattle are my only wealth. I am nothing without them. To survive they need water and water is running out," he says."


"Unlike some of its immediate neighbours burdened with heavy foreign debt, Syria's economy has an edge. It has relatively low debt one of the lowest among the Arab countries.

It also has another advantage: high foreign exchange reserves.

However, Syria's economy has other challenges to face as a result of its current movement through a "transitional phase", economic experts say.

"We are a transitional economy, moving from a command economy to a market economy," Nabeel Sukkar, founder and manager director of The Syrian Consulting Bureau for Development and Investment (SCB), added."

"Why [do] we want to move to a market economy?" Sukkar asked Gulf News. "Because a market economy leads to more efficiency in allocating resources."

Read the rest of this article: It says what the introduction says, that Syria was able to build a low debt, high foreign reserve economy under a "command-type" economy, which mitigated the impacts of the financial crash. But now, they have to introduce neo-liberal economy in order for the new plutocracy to empty the coffers and to destroy the productive sectors, agriculture and industry.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

بيان صادر عن تجمّع المدونين في لبنان

بيان صادر عن تجمّع المدونين في لبنان

By جوعان
بيان صادر عن تجمّع المدونين في لبنان
هل يكون المدوّنون الضحيّة القادمة لقمع الأجهزة الأمنيّة في لبنان؟!
منذ تشكيل حكومة الوحدة الوطنية، ساد جو من التضييق على الحريّات العامة في البلاد، بدأت مع التضييق على الإعلام عبر محاولة وضع وثيقة مبادئ تحث على الرقابة الذاتيّة، والعمل على إصدار قانون يتيح التوقيف الأحتياطي للصحافيين، وصولاً إلى التضييق على حريّة التظاهر. وكان آخر مآثر النظام اللبناني، امتداد أيدي الأجهزة الأمنية اللبنانيّة نحو الإعلام الإلكتروني حيث ضاق صدر الأجهزة ببعض التدوينات الناقدة. فقد تمّ استدعاء المدوّن والصحافي خضر سلامة (محرر مدونة جوعان) من قبل أحد الأجهزة الأمنية لتوجيه "التنبيه" بسبب بعض مقالاته، وإفهامه ما يلي: "تغيير اللهجة، أو إغلاق المدّونة، أو كتابة الشعر حصرياً".
بناءً على ما حدث، يرفض تجمّع المدونين في لبنان التعرّض للحريّات العامّة لا سيّما النشر على المواقع الإلكترونيّة، ويعيد التذكير بخطاب قسم رئيس الجمهورية: "فلنتحد ونعمل لبناء الدولة المدنية، القادرة، المرتكزة على احترام الحريات العامة، والمعتقد، والتعبير". ويدعو التجمّع إلى وقف انتهاكات حق وق الإنسان والحريّات العامة. ونحث المدونين(ات) والناشطين(ات) إلى التضامن ونشر هذا البيان على مدوناتهم ومواقع الجمعيات التي ينتمون إليها. كما ندعو الإعلاميين إلى رفع الصوت عالياً لكي لا يسقط لبنان في الدوامة كم الأصوات الحرة.
بيروت في 24 آذار 2010
للإستفسار: المحامي كارم محمود 03610717
الصحافي هاني نعيم 03182671
وأود هنا – جوعان – أن أوجه باقة شكر للرفاق الزملاء في تجمع المدونين اللبنانيين، وأخص بالشكر من تضامن معي مدوناً ومستنكراً عارضاً قضيتي بعد تحرش الأمن اللبناني
مقالات حليفة: 

Israel and Guyana: farming the relationship

"Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud is currently in Israel to further discussions on increased cooperation in agriculture.

The agriculture ministry reported that Persaud met with his counterpart Shalom Simhon in Beit Dagan to discuss developments in tilapia rearing, greenhouse and drip irrigation industries and fruit and vegetable production.

In a release, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said Persaud’s trip was arranged by USAID/GTIS. GINA noted that Israel has a reputation for achieving high productivity in agriculture over the past 50 years. Although it is challenged by the scarcity of resources, including the most basic such as fertile land and water, it has been able to produce with very high yields."


One day, I will take time to sit and work on debunking the alleged israeli farming miracle. I will show that it is in the best colonial settler traditions and that the externalities are tremendous and that the whole sector is contingent of state support and on favorable terms of trade offered by Western nations. But I posted this for a different reason: look at the comments, how many of them are anti israeli.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

إطلاق حملة لمقاطعة ثلاث شركات عالمية داعمة لإسرائيل: «كوكاكولا» «ستاربكس» «موتورولا

إن كنت تتناول مشروب «كوكاكولا» او ترتاد أحد مقاهي «ستاربكس» أو تستعمل جهاز الخلوي «موتورولا»، إذاً أنت داعم مباشر لإسرائيل. انطلاقا من مبدئها هذا في المقاطعة، أطلقت الهيئة العالمية الشعبية للمقاطعة أمس حملتها الأولى لمقاطعة الشركات الثلاث المذكورة أعلاه في أكثر من 15 دولة عربية وإسلامية

The campaign for the boycott of Coca Cola, Motorola and Starbucks in 15 Arab and Islamic countries organized by the International People's Boycott Commission IPBC was launched yesterday in Beirut. I have no clue who the IPBC is, but there were a lot of people at that launch, from secular people to islamic clerics (Saudi Arabia was represented) to what was described as a coalition of international global justice movements.

Campaign Website http://www.ipbcnet.com/

Friday, March 19, 2010


Today in Badael: my editorial "les maquisars" a call to the resistance to invest in large scale reforestation of South Lebanon. Maya Yaghi about the history of tea, and Faysal Tohmeh on the wild edible plants of the Beqaa.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Trees are resistance

"Shafi explains that before the Six-Day (1967) War, northern Gaza was especially famous for its citrus plantations. But then in 1968, Israel — itself a major citrus producer and now in control of Gaza — pushed Gazan farmers to grow strawberries and flowers instead, to stifle any competition. With the two intifadas – and particularly the second, which started in September 2000 – Israeli forces began to bulldoze the groves, saying they gave cover to militants." http://www.blogfrommiddleeast.com/?new=64026

This is a common Israel tactic: removing trees and orchards. For at least 3 reasons: One, it makes it much easier to push populations away if their crops are not rooted perennially. Two, annual cash crops like strawberries and flowers have a very short shelf life, which put the farmer totally at the mercy of the middlemen (in this case, according to the article, they are israeli middle men). And three and most importantly: trees provide cover for armed operations. A well connected friend told me that the israeli consider that it is their right to interfere in the reforestation plans in Jordan. This is why the Resistance in Lebanon must engage in a large scale reafforestation program sooner rather than later. 

لا بد من صنعاء و ان طال السفر

"Most experts predict Sana'a, the fastest-growing capital in the world at 7% a year, will run out of economically viable water supplies by 2017. That is the same year the World Bank says Yemen will cease earning income from its oil, which currently accounts for three-quarters of the state's revenues."

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

In Badael today: My editorial: Advertising is where we should start. Kamel Jaber writes about the cooperative of Houla and of its soap...


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Good one Istifan

"While Arab traders helped facilitate the exchanges that shaped cooking in sub-Saharan Africa, pre-Columbian cuisine of the Middle East often gets short shrift in South Carolina, a noted outpost of African Diaspora foodways.

According to Stephen Sheehi, associate professor of Arab Studies at the University of South Carolina, the Arab world was responsible for cultivating emmer wheat and introducing enslaved Americans' ancestors to bananas and peanuts.

"In that respect, there's always been a tie," Sheehi says.

Exploring Arab contributions to Southern cookery is just one objective of Sheehi's new class, which he warns can't be reduced to a soundbite. The syllabus is also designed to introduce students to concepts of land management, local food and sustainability. Sheehi's students are planting an Arab garden on their campus in Columbia, S.C. and preparing to build a tandour oven, with the resulting bread and veggies pledged to a nearby chapter of Food Not Bombs.

"I'm trying to teach students what food looks like before it gets to their plates," Sheehi explains. "What does a bean look like before it's cooked into your burrito?"

The trick, Sheehi says, has been figuring out which foods are compatible with the class' subject matter and useful for area food pantries. He's settled on garlic and garbanzo beans, although he admits the garden's been a tougher project than he imagined. Most of the plants have been pummeled by late-winter freezes – and those were the seeds that survived Sheehi's first stab at farming.

"I dug all these trenches and made a garden as you would in Lebanon," he recalls. "The first rain came, and washed everything away. What the Arabs knew about land use, I didn't.""

By Hanna Raskin

Sunday, March 7, 2010


"The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations." (Thanks Laila)

An important article with facts that are frighteningly true. However, the essential problem lies in the way the narrative is woven: Arabs grabbing the lands of the poor in Africa and causing famine because of their insatiable appetite. Insatiable it may be, but not more than that of any consumption society such as the US or Europe. The essential problem is capitalist agriculture and export oriented production that undermines food sovereignty. This is the issue: there is no difference between what some Arab countries are doing (through corporations) and what transnational corporations are already doing: people forced to produce export food they do not consume for minimal wages and barely surviving food insecurity. This is what the World Bank and other neo green revolutionaries want: comparative advantages, and more money for the rich. The problem is here, so lets talk about it as it is. Oh but islamophobia and arabophobia sell so much better.

Despair without fear

"Despair without fear, without resignation, without a sense of defeat, makes for a stance towards the world here, such as I have never seen before."

John Berger on Palestine

Oh la vache!

(Thanks Daniel)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Anti-Apartheid Art

Many more by the gifted students of my friend Daniel, downloadable at http://www.jamaalyad.org/index-en.shtml

برنامج دعم الصادرات يدخل عامه الأخير: إلغاء صمام الأمان الزراعي

مسيرة تراجع «اكسبورت بلاس» بدأت عام 2006 مع توقف المشروع لأشهر عدة ومن ثم إعادته إلى العمل بصيغة جديدة بعدما تم تمديد العمل بالبرنامج خمس سنوات اخرى تنتهي في 31/3/2011، «لكنه اشترط هذه المرة تقليص نسب الدعم سنويا حتى تاريخ انتهاء فترة القرار، بما مقداره عشرون في المئة سنويا على قيمة الرديات المالية العائدة للمزارعين من جراء الدعم المالي».

الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في جانبه البيئي: إبادة منهجية لطبيعة فلسطين

ثمة جوانب عديدة مرتبطة بتداعيات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي لفلسطين، لا تلقى الاهتمام الكافي من قبل الناشطين في المعركة ضد المحتل. ولعل القضية البيئية تعدّ من أبرز تلك الجوانب، وقد كانت بالأمس موضع بحث في النقاش الذي استضافته «الجامعة الأميركية» في بيروت ضمن أعمال «أسبوع الفصل العنصري في فلسطين». 

Families flee Syria drought

"Thousands of families have fled droughts in Syria while those left behind are struggling to survive on limited food and water. Three years of drought have caused widespread food and water shortages in the poorest eastern part of the country. About 300,000 families have been driven out of their homes to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities in what the United Nations has dubbed “ one of the largest internal displacements in the Middle East in recent years.” “Our wells are dry, and the rains don’t come,” said Ahmed Abu Hamed Mohieddin, a wheat farmer from the town of Qamishli. “We cannot depend on God’s will for our crops. We come to the city, where the money is,” he told Bloomberg news service. He and three sons work as porters in the capital’s vegetable markets."

We really need to learn more about the extent of this.