Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hunger in Yemen

"In March, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) reported that levels of food insecurity in Yemen had doubled since 2009. Today 5m people go hungry so often that it affects their long-term health. According to Unicef, the WFP’s counterpart for children, some 30% of kids in Hodeida are “acutely” malnourished, threatened with stunted growth and cognitive impairment. The 30% figure is twice the level the UN uses as a benchmark for crisis. And hunger is rising, says Lydia Tinka, a veteran of multiple African crises who works in Hodeida for Oxfam, a British charity."

Yemen famine

"Yemen has a catastrophic food crisis. Nearly half the population, 10 million people, does not have enough to eat. While 300,000 children are facing life threatening levels of malnutrition." (thanks laila for reminding me that while we are pontificating about the arab spring cum revolt cum uprisings cum revolutions Yemen is in the throws of famine)

How to deal with the natives release 2.0

The following publication from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace   The Emerging Order in the Middle East By Sinan Ülgen , Nathan Brown , Marina Ottaway , Paul Salem Policy Outlook, May 2012 "In the political realm, demanding that Islamist movements adopt broad ideological agendas that endorse secularism or blanket philosophical commitments to core values such as women’s rights is the wrong approach. Instead, international actors should focus on a few, very specific issues for special emphasis, such as international human rights standards, the maintenance of existing treaty relationships, and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes. Such pressure will be most effective if it is uniform, so all parties should strive to behave consistently. The international community should also expand its engagement beyond a small number of elite political actors, focusing diplomatic efforts on building bridges to entire societies. In the end, there may be little the West can do to decrease the mutual suspicion that exists between Islamists and secular forces in these countries, but it must act to include both Islamists and secularists in all dealings with the Arab region." (thanks anne)


A HUNGRY NATION EXPORTS ITS FOOD " [Ground Reality, May 26, 2012] At a time when the total food stocks are likely to swell to a record 75 million tonnes by June 1, out of which nearly 25 million tonnes of the stocks will be piled up in the open for lack of storage space, the demand for allowing exports is already growing. Ministry of Commerce has already started an exercise to know how much quantity of wheat can be allowed for exports. It is a strange paradox of plenty. While on the one hand India is overladen with mounting food stocks, on the other nearly 320 million people go to bed hungry. The number of hungry and malnourished in India almost equals the entire population of America. When it comes to malnutrition, several studies have pointed out that nearly 50 per cent of children are malnourished. India fares worst than even sub-Saharan Africa. According to the 2011 Global Hunger Index India ranks 67 among 81 countries, sliding below Rwanda." (thanks Safia)

Macrosoft control

The Gates Foundation's ties with Monsanto and corporate agriculture in general speak volumes about its real agenda, which is to create a monopolistic system of world control in every area of human life. Vaccines, pharmaceuticals, GMOs, reproductive control, weather manipulation, global warming -- these and many other points of entry are the means by which the Gates Foundation is making great strides to control the world by pretending to help improve and save it. Rather than promote real food sovereignty and address the underlying political and economic issues that breed poverty, Gates and Co. has instead embraced the promotion of corporately-owned and controlled agriculture and medicine paradigms that will only further enslave the world's most impoverished. It is abundantly evident that GMOs have ravished already-impoverished people groups by destroying their native agricultural systems, as has been seen in India ( (thanks marcy) Learn more:

The value of land

“Land ownership currently yields more than the three large investment groups of gold, the stock market and property business. It appears that in the case of land investments, the largest part of the wealth is distributed directly to capital. Therefore it is more a matter of theft than investment.” (thanks safia)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Illegal Entry

Dear Laila kindly provided a translation of my al akhbar artice

What are Israeli sweets doing in Sidon? How did they reach the heart of the Ayn Al-Hilweh refugee camp? According to newspaper reports, this candy was distributed to shops with wrappers indicating that they were “made in Syria and Turkey.” When this packaging was removed, the original wrapper appeared with Hebrew writing.
This is not the first time that Israeli products have intruded into our daily lives. For example, those who work in shops importing American or European clothes know very well that some of the famous names are made in enemy factories in occupied Palestine and their labels clearly say “made in Israel.” Moreover, their bosses make them pick out the clothes and remove the labels, threatening to fire them if they told anyone.

The law boycotting is Israel is capriciously implemented in Lebanon. It has also been criticized by various sides. Activists in the boycott movement regard this law as outdated, needing to be modernized to include academic and artistic boycott, which plays a principal role in delegitimizing Israel internationally. There are also some Lebanese who denounce the principle of boycott. Some of them do not view Israel as an enemy, while others might even boast of their friendships with Israelis they met abroad (and perhaps here) and praise how “civilized” they are, while the Arabs are so “backward.”

But let us take the opportunity to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the South by the Resistance to remind them and ourselves that the Zionist entity is the enemy, the occupier and the aggressor. That we are committed to boycotting all its products, even when they sneak in under a Syrian or Turkish cover.



رامي زريق

ماذا تفعل قطع الحلوى الإسرائيلية في صيدا؟ كيف وصلت إلى قلب مخيم عين الحلوة؟ بحسب ما نقلته الصحافة، كانت قطع «البونبون» هذه قد انتشرت في المتاجر مغلّفة بأوراق تشير إلى أنها «صناعة سورية وتركية». ولدى انتزاعها، ظهر الغلاف الأصلي المطبوع عليه باللغة العبرية. ليست هذه المرة الأولى التي تتسلّل فيها البضائع الإسرائيلية إلى قلب حياتنا اليومية. فعلى سبيل المثال، يعلم العاملون في المتاجر التي تستورد ملابس «ستوكات» أميركية أو أوروبية أن بعض هذه البضائع من «الماركات» المشهورة مصنوعة في معامل العدو في فلسطين المحتلة وتحمل ملصقات مطبوعاً عليها بوضوح «صنع في إسرائيل»، وأن أصحاب العمل يرغمون الموظفين على فرز قطع الملابس وانتزاع الشارات عنها، مهددين إياهم بالطرد إذا سرّبوا هذه المعلومات. فقانون مقاطعة إسرائيل مطبّق بنحو مزاجي في لبنان، وهو عرضة للانتقادات من جهات مختلفة، فيما يرى الناشطون في مجال المقاطعة أن هذا القانون لم يعد ملائماً ويجب تحديثه لالتزام المقاطعة الأكاديمية والفنية، وهي جزء أساسي من استراتيجية نزع الشرعية الدولية عن إسرائيل. كذلك هناك بعض اللبنانيين الذين ينتقدون مبدأ المقاطعة؛ فمنهم من يرى أن إسرائيل ليست عدواً، وقد يذهب البعض إلى حد التباهي بصداقتهم مع إسرائيليين تعرفوا إليهم في الخارج (وربما في الداخل) والتغني بـ«حضارتهم» والاستهزاء بـ«تخلف» العرب. ولكن لننتهز مناسبة ذكرى تحرير الجنوب على يد المقاومة لنذكرهم ونذكر أنفسنا بأن الكيان الصهيوني هو العدو والمحتل والمعتدي، وأننا ملزمون بمقاطعة كل منتجاته، حتى لو جاءت مختبئة تحت غلاف سوري أو تركي.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Multinationals grab 200 million hectares in Africa

"Socfin SL is a subsidiary of a larger multinational agribusiness investor called Groupe Socfin. This multinational corporation has been accused of engaging in land grabs in countries all over the world through a complicated network of holding companies. The group manages 150,000 hectares of land worldwide, including over 51,000 hectares of palm plantations in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon. The Bolloré Group, one of the top 500 companies in the world, holds nearly 39 percent of Socfin's shares.
The group's CEO and namesake, Vincent Bolloré, is France's 18th-wealthiest man. With a net worth of $16 billion, Bolloré's access to power and influence makes him nearly untouchable; Nicolas Sarkozy even dubbed him an "honor to the French economy" and vacationed on the billionaire's yacht.
Between 2009 and 2011, the group's profits grew by 187 percent, with a major assist from its plantations in Asia and Africa. Notably, Bolloré is also heavily involved in Africa's shipping industry, ensuring that the group has control over the entire production process and can maximize its returns at every step.
The results are stunning. A 2012 report by the International Land Coalition estimates that international conglomerates like Bolloré and Monsanto gobbled up more than 200 million hectares of land for large-scale monocrop production between 2000 and 2010, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. In the case of Sierra Leone, investors had already bought up 17 percent of the country's arable land by early 2011."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rio +20: plus ca change...

"The Rio +20 Conference is a clear example. Instead of bringing together all the governments of the world to find real solutions for the environmental crisis, the event will serve to consolidate the false solutions and the appropriation of territories of the peasants and traditional peoples. In the United Nations Conference, only the interests of the large corporations will have a chance." (Thanks Safia)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Green Economy (as in the color of US$)

'The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) developed the concept of “Green Economy” on the argument that the recurring energy, climate, environmental, food and financial crises are results of “gross misallocation of capital.” The UNEP analysis does not acknowledge the problems inherent in treating nature as capital, which has led to the hyper-exploitation of the Earth’s resources and further expanded the already severe inequalities between and within nations, and among societies and peoples.' (Thanks Safia)

The Apartheid Walls of Israel

"This is all happening while the racist entity seeks to make inroads into Africa in order to affect countries’ foreign policies, strike business deals, snatch concessions and lay their hands on resources, and, of course, to keep tight control over the trade and trafficking in blood diamonds.
All this takes place under the cover of charity and humanitarian work in African countries, supporting them in achieving the UN’s millennial aims. With this, Israel proves, in case anyone still had any doubt, that it is practicing colonialism openly. It will complete its occupation of Palestine through settlements which are built on its racist ideology."
A translation of my column

جدران الانعزال

جدران الانعزال

رامي زريق
أكثر من أي وقتٍ مضى، يجد الكيان الصهيوني نفسه تحت الحصار. فقد نشرت صحيفة الغارديان الأسبوعية البريطانية منذ بضعة أسابيع مقالاً طويلاً تعدّد فيه الكاتبة هارية شيروود أسوار العزل العنصرية التي بناها أو يبنيها العدو ليفصل بين «المتميزين الصهاينة» وسائر سكان العالم. وكان آخرَ الإنجازات في هذا الإطار، جدارٌ ينتهي إنشاؤه قريباً بين صحراء سيناء والنقب ـــ على الحدود المصرية الفلسطينية ـــ وتبلغ كلفته ما يقارب نصف مليار دولار.
الهدف المعلن من هذا البناء هو رد «المتسللين» الأفارقة الذين يحاولون الدخول خلسة سعياً إلى العمل. وبحسب تصريحات جيش العدو، يسبب هؤلاء اللاجئون «صناعة الإجرام»، وهم متورطون بتهريب المخدرات والإرهاب (وهي الخبيرة أصلاً في مجال الإرهاب وتصديره إلى أنحاء العالم ولن تسمح بأية منافسة). كل هذا، فيما يسعى الكيان العنصري للدخول إلى القارة الأفريقية بهدف التأثير على السياسات الخارجية وتحقيق صفقات تجارية وانتزاع الامتيازات ووضع اليد على المواد الأولية الأساسية وإحكام السيطرة على تجارة وتهريب الماس الملطخ بالدم. يحصل كل هذا تحت غطاء العمل الخيري والمساعدات الإنسانية للدول الأفريقية لدعمها في سعيها إلى تحقيق أهداف الأمم المتحدة الألفية. وبهذا يكون الكيان قد أكد لمن لا يزال لديه أي شك أنه يمارس الكولونيالية بشكل مفضوح، وأنه يستكمل احتلاله لفلسطين بمحاولات استعمارية تنبع من أيديولوجيته العنصرية. أما السبب الآخر لبناء جدار سيناء، فيعود إلى المعادلة الجديدة التي فرضها الشعب المصري عندما خلع نظام حسني مبارك العميل. ويرى جيش العدو اليوم أن حدود مصر أصبحت «ساخنة»، وأن عليه عزل نفسه جنوباً خوفاً من العمليات العسكرية. وبذلك لم يبق لإسرائيل إلا حدودها الشرقية مفتوحة، إلى أن يتحرك الشعب العربي ويسد بوابة وادي عربة.

The sweet taste of normalization

"SIDON, Lebanon: Palestinian forces launched a probe into the sale of candy with Hebrew-language wrappers in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp Sunday. The Palestinian Follow-Up committee for the camp ordered a security force to confiscate the candy, hundreds of large bags of which were wrapped in fake Syrian and Turkish-language packaging, under which the original wrapper is in Hebrew. Palestinian police are now investigating where the candy came from and how it entered the camp. The owner of the store is cooperating in the investigation. The head of security forces in the camp, Colonel Ahmad Nasr, said most of the candy was destroyed but some was kept to prove to the public that it was being sold. “These goods, if sold in our markets, will be supporting the Israeli economy, and we are fighting Israel in all fields,” Nasr said." (Thanks Marcy)

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A global return to the land

A translation of my al akhbar article of last friday 

"All this is happening at a time when the Arab countries, with Lebanon at the forefront, are suffering from deepening crises. Their governments are uncertain about their economic options. So what are we waiting for to support a return to the land, encouraging our young people to root themselves in their own country?"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

EU hearts the Arab Spring

"Parliament hopes the momentum created by the Arab Spring can spur progress towards a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area and supports talks on deep and comprehensive free-trade areas.
The report highlights poverty as "a persistent evil in the countryside" and stresses that "chronic unemployment" affects young people in particular, with 45% of Tunisia's university graduates, for example, being jobless."

Israel uses millenium goals to greenwash occpation

"Israel continues to greenwash its occupation of Palestinian territory, this time with a government-sponsored international agricultural exhibition and agreement with the UN concerning promotion of millennium development goals in Africa and developing countries. While Israel oppresses, de-develops Palestinian society, it cultivates a high-tech, benevolent image." (Thanks Anne)

My interview on WBEZ: no punches pulled

"Lebanese agronomist Rami Zurayk has charted the collapse of traditional agricultural livelihoods in the Middle East since the 1980s. In his book Food, Farming, and Freedom: Sowing the Arab Spring, Zurayk explores how the region’s politics have affected food production. He rarely pulls his punches when identifying the obstacles to effective and sustainable development:
While recognizing the potential of civil society, I remain extremely critical of its work, its approaches, its capabilities and its achievements...However, I believe that civil society organizations, and especially NGOs, can contribute to social change if they are willing to take radical positions, to involve themselves in politics, and to steer clear of donor dependency…
For our Food Monday segment, Zurayk tells Worldview how escalating food prices and growing food insecurity contribute to the political instability of the Middle East."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Philippines land reform

"THE flag of the United Luisita Workers’ Union flaps in the breeze rolling across Hacienda Luisita, a vast sugar plantation named after a Catalonian marchioness, 100km (60-odd miles) north of the capital, Manila. The flag shows three stalks of cane severed by a tip-heavy machete, known as a bolo. For a decade the union has been trying to sever this land from its powerful owners, who happen to be the family of the Philippines’ president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. On April 24th it won a big victory. The Supreme Court upheld a 2011 decision to distribute 4,335 hectares (10,712 acres) of the plantation’s fertile land to 6,269 farmworkers. “We are very happy,” says Lito Bais, acting president of the union, with a gap-toothed smile.

The ruling was a defeat for Mr Aquino’s cousins and uncles, but a victory for his late mother, Cory Aquino. In 1988 she passed a land-reform law, two years after “people power” swept her into the presidency. The law was supposed to uproot the country’s colonial legacy of concentrated landownership." (Thanks Marcy)

العودة إلى الأرض

العودة إلى الأرض

رامي زريق
تمر البلدان الأوروبية، وخصوصاً إسبانيا والبرتغال واليونان، بأزمة اقتصادية بنيوية حادّة، دفعت ملايين المحتجين إلى الشارع. من عوارض هذه الأزمة انحسار النمو وتفشي البطالة بشكلٍ كبير بين الشباب، الأمر الذي دفع الحكومات إلى تبني سياسات تقشف، أدت إلى خفض الدعم للقطاعات الأساسية كالتعليم والصحة. وهي القطاعات التي تستفيد منها الطبقات الوسطى بشكلٍ أساسي. لم تؤدّ هذه السياسات إلى تحسين وضع البطالة، والدليل أن الشباب اليوناني، وخصوصاً سكان المدن حاملي الشهادات الجامعية، لا يزالون يبحثون عن بدائل لتوفير سبل عيشهم. وقد تذكّر عدد منهم جذوره الفلاحية وعاد إلى الأرض يبحث عن مأوى يحميه من هشاشة العيش. هكذا، نجح كثيرون منهم في إحياء مزارع أجدادهم المتروكة منذ عشرات السنين وأعادوا اكتشاف طرق إنتاج كانت على أبواب النسيان. حسّن الشباب التقنيات التقليدية بالعلم الذي اكتسبوه خلال دراساتهم الجامعية وأصبحوا منتجين يسهمون في الاقتصاد المحلي ويصدّرون منتجات متخصصة، كمادة الماستيك المستخرجة من صنف من أصناف شجر البطم التي اشتهرت به تاريخياً جزيرة كييوس. تشهد اليونان منذ قرابة نصف عام حركة نزوح شبابية من المدينة إلى الريف، وانتقلت هذه الظاهرة إلى بلدان أوروبية أخرى، منها البرتغال. وقد نشرت وكالة رويترز أخيراً نبأً عن عودة عدد كبير من البرتغاليين العاطلين من العمل إلى الأرياف بحثاً عن حياة أفضل. وتشجع الحكومة البرتغالية بتشجيع هذا التوجه عبر خفض الضرائب على ملاكي الأرض الذين يضعون أرضهم بمتناول «الفلاحين الجدد». وقد أدى هذا التحول إلى نمو الصادرات الغذائية بنسبة ١٧٪ منذ بداية الأزمة الاقتصادية. كل هذا يجري، في وقت تعاني فيه البلدان العربية، ولبنان على رأسها، أزمات متفاقمة، وتبدو الحكومات مرتبكة في خياراتها الاقتصادية. فماذا ننتظر لدعم ظاهرة العودة إلى الأرض وتشجيع الشباب على غرس أنفسهم في وطنهم؟