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The Sticky Situation Surrounding Plumpy'nut


Afro-Leo is pleased to bring you a guest post by Isaac Rutenberg, PhD, Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP in San Francisco, CA, USA. If you would like to contact Isaac directly, he can be reached at rutenberg@bozpat.com.

Is intellectual property always harmful to poor people? Plumpy’nut has been cited as an example that supports the case against allowing patent rights in matters of humanitarian aid. On the contrary, Plumpy’nut is a shining example of how proper use of intellectual property protections could have significantly enhanced international aid and development work.
A recent article in the NYTimes describes the row that has developed over Plumpy'nut. In short, Plumpy'nut is a revolutionary peanut-based product with the potential to end or significantly reduce severe acute child malnutrition. Developed by Dr. Andre Briend, a "crusading pediatrician" who became tired of traditional (frequently unsuccessful) solutions to acute malnutrition, Plumpy'nut is a simple product that is remarkably effective and practical.

So why the row? Turns out that the Plumpy'nut formulation has been patented in 38 countries, including the US, France, and much of Africa. The owner of the patent, the French company Nutriset, appears to be bent on commercializing not just the miracle product but the entire process of combating acute malnutrition. Nutriset and Nutriset's collaborators (including a US for-profit company manufacturing Plumpy'nut in New Jersey for distribution to USAID) have defended their approach and their product, taking steps to prevent others from producing similar products. Criticism of Nutriset has been unsurprisingly harsh: non-profits worldwide say that Nutriset is trying to profit on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable children. Inevitably, there is the claim that intellectual property is to blame for this disaster.

I say, not so fast. The NYTimes article says that Nutriset obtained the patent rights because Dr. Briend "signed a consulting agreement" with Nutriset after developing Plumpy'nut, since he "never knew anything about manufacturing food." This is somewhat vague, but according to a United States Patent and Trademark Office database, Dr. Briend and a co-inventor assigned (i.e., sold) the patent to Nutriset. This left Nutriset entirely in charge of the patent – Dr. Briend has no say in how it is used.

Why didn't he open source copyright the formulation?


You should read the New York Times article. Just be prepared to RAGE. The Peanut Solution
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Syria: the regime's war of attrition

The Syrian regime's response to five months of popular uprising was described by a recent report of the International Crisis Group as "slow motion suicide", resulting from a "mix of uninhibited brutality, sectarian manipulation, crude propaganda and grudging concessions".

The regime opted for a survival strategy: responding by violence and threatening the population with chaos and civil war in the event of its demise. The objective was to launch a war of attrition by playing on time to wear out any internal revolt. It chose, however, the wrong combination of brutal repression and gradual concessions. The result was a crisis of confidence which was too deep to be overcome by mere calls for national dialogue and reform.

The death toll is estimated at 2,000 civilian casualties (including more than 100 children), and 400 members of the security services. The situation has now reached a stalemate. Neither side appears to be able to defeat the other. Protests are rallying at major urban and rural centres, including Damascus and Aleppo in the last weeks. Rallies continue in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, the Idlib province, and continue to be met with massive military assaults and house to house arrests. The cities of Homs, Hama and Deir ez-Zor were brutally besieged by the regime's armed forces; hundreds of civilian casualties have fallen since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. In Deir ez-Zor, the regime was met with strong resistance by local tribesmen, including the leading Baqqara tribe who joined the opposition movements.

On July 17, the National Salvation conference held in Istanbul gathered 450 opposition figures who called for civil disobedience throughout the country. Tenets of regime survival quite naively assumed that they would effectively counter the historical meeting held in Damascus on June 27 by prominent opposition figures in the Semiramis Hotel of Damascus. The regime's so-called "national dialogue" conference held on July 10 included a few organic intellectuals and public figures which were carefully selected and summoned to contribute to the process of constitutional amendment and political reform. The strategy was to divide the opposition and maintain the status quo. Dialogue under repression was, however, firmly rejected by the opposition. MORE
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Somalia: victim of war, famine and a pestilence of policy.

The news from Somalia is grim. Last week, the UN declared a famine in two southern areas, calling the food crisis Africa's worst since 1991-92 (which was also in Somalia). The UN estimates that a staggering 3.2 million people need urgent assistance.

The immediate cause of the crisis was the recurrent failure of seasonal rains across the Horn of Africa. But it will be exacerbated by the continuing instability in Somalia, where the internationally recognised (and appointed) government controls but a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu. The rest of the country is under the sway of various other groups, including the al-Shabaab militia. For most Somalis, the famine represents a deeper trough of an already existing and perpetual misery of abject poverty and instability.

International policy to stabilise Somalia has been a total failure. Yet, the same policies persist. In 2000, the "international community" set up what it thought was a legitimate government in Somalia, in an attempt to create a political consensus where none existed. Today, the so-called Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is neither transitional nor federal, nor even really a government, in that it offers no prospect of a transition to a more durable alternative, does not represent the rest of Somalia in a meaningful way, and, as a government, provides no services to its people, who did not elect it, in any case. The TFG is, in the words of a recent International Crisis Group report, "incompetent, corrupt and hobbled by weak leadership" and should be given a deadline to shape up, or be removed. Very few observers expect it to shape up: the current system pays the cabal who control it far too well.


The famine in Somalia should not have come as a surprise

n John Vidal's report (22 July) on the famine in east Africa, he says the massive drought appeared "as if out of nowhere". It may have seemed that way, but in reality the shock of this famine underlines a more worrying problem in aid. There is a long-established famine warning system for Somalia, the Food Security and Nutrition Assessment Unit (FSNAU) – the question is, why was it not effective this time?


Somali PM accuses UN of holding back aid

On Thursday heavy fighting erupted in Mogadishu as African Union peacekeepers launched an offensive aimed at protecting famine relief efforts from attacks by al-Qaeda-linked fighters, officials said.

At least six people died.

Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force, said al-Shabab had sent 300 reinforcement fighters to Mogadishu in recent days.

Ankunda said the AU force believes that al-Shabab is trying to prevent aid from reaching the tens of thousands of famine refugees who have arrived in Mogadishu this month.

The drought in southern Somalia has created a triangle of hunger in the Horn of Africa, where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet.
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

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UN Agency: Women Bow Out of Snarled Justice Systems

NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.

In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.

One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.

Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.


Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.

To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
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UN security council to consider climate change peacekeeping

A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change.

Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence.

There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, is expected to address the meeting on Wednesday.

But Germany, which called the meeting, has warned it is premature to expect the council to take the plunge into green peacemaking or even adopt climate change as one of its key areas of concern.

"It is too early to seriously think about council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, wrote in the Huffington Post.

"A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security," he wrote.

Bringing the security council up to speed on climate change could be a challenge, however.

The Pentagon and other military establishments have long recognised climate change as a "threat multiplier" with the potential to escalate existing conflicts, and create new disputes as food, water, and arable land become increasingly scarce.

Wittig seems to agree, noting that UN peacekeepers have long intervened in areas beyond traditional conflicts.

"Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal - but would dealing with the consequences of climate change - say in precarious regions - be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?" he wrote.MORE
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Monsanto in Haiti

Last week, thousands of farmers and supporters of Haitian peasant agriculture marched for hours under the hot Caribbean sun to call for more government support for locally grown seeds and agriculture.

The demonstration was organized by the Peasant Movement of Papay and other farmer associations, human rights and women’s groups, and the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Haitian online agency AlterPresse reported from the march. The official theme of the peaceful demonstration was “Land Grabbing is Endangering Agricultural Sovereignty.”

Singing slogans like “Long Live Haitian Agriculture!” and “Long live local seeds!” the crowd – wearing straw hats and red T-shirts – wound its way on foot, donkeys, and bikes through this dusty provincial capital. The demonstration ended at a square named for farmer Charlemagne Péralte, who lead the “Caco” peasant revolt against the U.S. army occupation from 1916 until 1919, when U.S. Marines assassinated him.

One year ago, thousands of farmers covered the same march route to protest the import of a “gift” of seeds from Monsanto. The farmers burned some of the seeds, calling them a “death plan” for peasant agriculture.

Last spring, in violation of Haitian law, the Minister of Agriculture gave the agribusiness giant Monsanto permission to “donate” 505 tons of seeds to Haiti. The first shipment of 60 tons, reportedly of maize and vegetable seeds, arrived in May 2010. Some of the seeds were coated with a chemical (Thiram)[1] so toxic that the EPA forbids its sale to home gardeners in the U.S.. Monsanto announced its $4 million gift was “to support the reconstruction effort” in Haiti.
What has become of the seeds that Monsanto gave? And how real was the fear of Haitian farmer organizations that the donation was a Trojan horse?


Haiti Grassroots Watch explored the impacts in a three-month investigation, “Seeding Reconstruction or Destruction?” and “Monsanto in Haiti.” Excerpts from the report follow.MORE

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We didn't have our sons and daughters for war:Indigenous Peoples From Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Mexico Meet in Cauca, Colombia

North Cauca, Colombia, June 24, 2011: The first meeting of indigenous women in resistance for the survival and autonomy of their peoples concluded on Friday, after taking place at a shelter in Huellas Caloto in the Bodega Alta district in the Cauca department of Colombia. For four days, women and men from northern Cauca, joined with around 26 national and international organizations, discussed “weaving a memory with words,” and finished the event with a march to the town of Santander de Quilichao.

At the meeting, attendees discussed the need for autonomy with their food, and resistance from women. Seeds and traditional agricultural products were exchanged to reflect truth, justice, reparation and law for both indigenous women and a peace proposal. They also denounced and discussed the armed conflict that the country is living in.


In 1971, indigenous people from northern Cauca formed the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which was made up of nine chapters. Currently there are 19 chapters. They fight for their land, food, education, work opportunities and to live in harmony with mother earth. Nelson Lemus Consejero de Paz, with the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN in Spanish initials), said that “the multinational corporations want to dispossess us of our land through war.”

The people have organized cooperatives, including a trout hatchery, yogurt business, crafts market, and more. They are nonviolent, but for many years they have lived with harassment from soldiers. On May 28, 2001, they decided to organize and create what they call the Indigenous Guard, or, Kiwe Thegnas in the Nasa Yuwe indigenous language. The three goals of the group are to “care for, protect, and defend the people,” said Don Germán Valencia and Luis Alberto Mensa, coordinators with the Guard. MORE
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THAILAND Rural Folk Pave Way for First Female PM’s Landmark Win

BAAN FANG, Thailand, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - Across villages, towns, and cities in northeast Thailand, a mood of political empowerment is bursting to the surface, with people gathering in groups since Sunday evening to celebrate political history. After all, they helped put Yingluck Shinawatra on the road to becoming the country’s first female prime minister.

Under a starlit sky on Jul. 3, election night, a group of villagers sat on mats outside a house in this village on the outskirts of this plateau’s main city, Khon Kaen, basking in the victory of a candidate who "has given a lot of attention to the grassroots people," as one of them, Paitoon Pohnang, described it.

As they listened to news reports that Yingluck’s opposition Phue Thai (For Thais) party was gaining seats, the group broke into whoops and applause, drowning out the chorus of crickets chirping from the darkened trees on the edge of the garden.

"I believe that a woman can be a prime minister in Thailand," said an excited Sukunthai Buthawong, a 61-year-old rice farmer. "We have to try something new, not only voting for men to lead the country. I voted feeling this way. I want change. I want to make history."

It was a sentiment echoed by the nearly 30 people gathered around her, men and women who were also part of the same community of rice farmers. "Women are good with details and work carefully," added another farmer who was wearing a red shirt, the colour worn by Phue Thai supporters.

Celebrations were more vivid on Monday in the downtown market selling fresh produce in Khon Kaen, 24 km from Baan Fang. Women wearing red shirts, some wearing red bows on their heads, were dancing to the blare of local music in their stalls of vegetables and meats. "I am happy and crazy. It feels better than winning a lottery," yelled a vegetable vendor who only gave her first name, Ratree.

"Rural people got involved with politics more than before," said a calmer Phrapapai Pongpan, a fish vendor. "They were pushed out of home to go and vote after seeing the injustice in the last few years."

And the final tally from the 20 provinces in the northeast, a large vote bank of over 15 million voters of the registered 47.3 million across the country, confirmed this. Phue Thai secured a thumping 104 seats out of the 126 contested in this rural heartland.MORE


Pheu Thai gears toward amnesty: Moves are already afoot to bring back Thaksin Thaksin is her older brother who was a PM 2001-2006, but who was deposed in a military coup on corruption charges.

Read more... )


Army in neutral: 'accepts' election result

Read more... )



Priorities for a Yingluck govt Bangkok Post Editorial

Yingluck Must Keep Promises Opinion

I hope she and her party do not fuck up the trust that the poor have put in her.
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INDIA 'Seed-Mothers' Confront Climate Insecurity

BHUBANESWAR, India, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In eastern Orissa state’s tribal hinterlands about 200 ‘seed-mothers’ are on mission mode - identifying, collecting and conserving traditional seed varieties and motivating farming families to use them.

The seed-mothers (bihana-maa in the local dialect) from the Koya and Kondh tribal communities have reached 1,500 families in the Malkangiri and Kandhamal districts and are still counting. These women are formidable storehouses of knowledge on indigenous seeds and biodiversity conservation.

Collecting, multiplying and distributing through exchange local varieties of paddy, millet, legume, vegetables and leafy green seeds, the seed-mothers already have a solid base of 80 converted villages.

As they spread their message through the hinterland, targeting another 140 villages, the women also promote zero dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Considering that Malkangiri is Orissa’s least developed district, with literacy at a low 50 percent and isolated by rivers, forests, undulating topography and poor connectivity, the achievement of the seed-mothers is admirable.

The struggles of Malkangiri farmers with climate change is visible in the Gudumpadar village where seed-mothers are passionately reviving agricultural heritage and convincing the community to stay with local seeds and bio-fertilisers and pesticides.

"This is the best way to cope with erratic rainfall, ensure the children are fed and avoid the clutches of moneylenders," says 65-year-old seed-mother Kanamma Madkami of Kanjeli village, who has multiplied 29 varieties of local millet and paddy seeds. MORE
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via [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political

All work and No pay: The Great Speedup


Webster's defines speedup as "an employer's demand for accelerated output without increased pay," and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, to goose profits, or to punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it.

But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom). Now the word we use is "productivity," a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don't you want to be a productive member of society? Pundits across the political spectrum revel in the fact that US productivity (a.k.a. economic output per hour worked)consistently leads the world. Yes, year after year, Americans wring even more value out of each minute on the job than we did the year before. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Except what's good for American business isn't necessarily good for Americans. We're not just working smarter, but harder. And harder. And harder, to the point where the driver is no longer American industriousness, but something much more predatory.

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The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret Uh...this article will make you feel sick. You should probably not be eating, at least.

First Hormel gutted the union. Then it sped up the line. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned



SINCE 1989, the line speed at QPP had been steadily increasing—from 750 heads per hour when the plant opened to 1,350 per hour in 2006, though the workforce barely increased. To speed production, the company installed a conveyor system and humming automatic knives throughout the plant, reducing skilled tasks to single motions. Workers say nearly everyone suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome or some repetitive stress injury, but by October 2007, there were signs of something else. Workers from QPP's kill floor were coming to Carole Bower, the plant's occupational health nurse, with increasingly familiar complaints: numbness and tingling in their extremities, chronic fatigue, searing skin pain. Bower started noticing workers so tender that they struggled with the stairs to the top-floor locker rooms, high above the roar of the factory line.


Six workers were referred to Richard Schindler, a doctor at the Austin Medical Center who'd first seen Matthew Garcia. Garcia had returned a second time to the brain machine, worked four-hour days, then six hours—but his symptoms soon returned. He began falling on the plant floor, his legs numb and motionless under him. Schindler found that Garcia and another brain-machine operator were the most advanced cases. Besides Garcia and the six workers referred by Bower, Schindler had seen another five men and women with similar symptoms—all workers at QPP. Schindler believed they were suffering from something like the rare disorder Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)—death of the peripheral nerves caused by damage to the fatty neural covering known as the myelin sheath. He emailed a group of neurologists at the Mayo Clinic for advice. MORE



USA! USA! USA! USA!

Capitalism for the wins!!!Not.
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Zelaya Returns to Honduras but there is a long way to go before democracy returns to Honduras



Transcript


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Massive Turnout for Zelaya Launches New Chapter of Honduran Struggle


'Largest gathering in Honduran history' receives deposed leader's return, but where to now for Honduran resistance movement?

Produced by Jesse Freeston.

For More Visit therealnews.com


Transcript:

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xposted:

The Chilling Beauty of Brazil's Green Desert

A catastrófica monocultura de eucalipto pelas empresas privadas nas cabeceiras dos rios e riachos, além de envenenar o solo, expulsou a fauna e flora do local, secou as nascentes e o lençol freático. O deserto verde do eucalipto tornou-se uma calamidade socioambiental. A região já foi auto-suficiente em alimentos essenciais, cultivados pela agricultura familiar, integrados com a natureza. A situação mudou radicalmente, exibindo riachos completamente secos, sem olhos d’água, rios cada vez mais baixos e assoreados, praticamente toda a alimentação proveniente de distribuidores em Belo Horizonte, pastos abandonados. Enquanto isso, as transnacionais de eucalipto e celulose engordavam os lucros.


The disastrous concept behind growing company-owned eucalyptus monocultures in river and stream sources not only poisoned the soil, but also destroyed local flora and fauna and dried up streams and the water table. Consequently, the eucalyptus green desert became a social and environmental calamity. The region already produced essential foods in a sustainable manner, as food was grown using integrated farming, but the situation changed radically. The streams completely dried up, there were no freshwater springs, water levels gradually decreased, silt levels increased, farms were abandoned and practically all food came from distributors in Belo Horizante. Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and cellulose transnational corporations were making huge profits.

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World Economy: Women Weigh in on Poverty, Work and Debt


The International Museum of Women's online exhibit on women and the economy, features slideshows, podcasts, videos and essays on women from countries such as Sudan, Denmark, Philippines, USA, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina and how they view issues such as poverty, business, family, rights, money and much more.

Economica, IMOW's online interactive exhibit sets out to explore women's contribution in the global economy. Picturing Power and Potential, was a juried photography exhibit showing different ways in which women participate in the economy and are agents of change.

For example, the exhibit's Community Choice Award winner was Brenda Paik Suno, a third generation Korean-American who took pictures of a Jeju Granny of the Sea, a woman who is part of the tradition of female divers of the Jeju Islands who have harvested the sea for generations:


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White House Communications Director Dodgey When Asked about War on Women


Daily Kos Associate Editor Kalli Joy Gray: I'd like to ask you about a different kind of war, and this is a war that I am particularly concerned about.

White House Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer: Okay.

Gray: The war on women. [Audience applause.] We're seeing an unprecedented number of attacks on women at the state and federal level—everything from contraception to health care to food stamps, um, drug-testing of women receiving welfare in Florida. Women in Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, are talking openly about a war on women. So, I want to know if the president agrees with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and our new DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: Well, what I can say is that there is no question that there is a sustained effort from Republicans at the federal and state level to, uh, undo a lot of the progress we've done. I think the most, uh, prominent example was the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, uh, during the government funding battle a few months ago, which the president, uh, at that point told the House Republicans that if they wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, that they were going to have to shut down the government over it. We see this in Indiana, where, uh, Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law an effort that would, uh, illegally defund Planned Parenthood, and the federal government is involved in a lawsuit to stop that. And so he, the president, is very concerned about all of these efforts, uh, and the ones on the federal level that we can play an active role to stop, including the use of the veto pen, uh, the president will do that.

[Note from Liss: Notice that Gray asked him a yes or no question: Does the president agree that there is a war on women? And instead of straightforwardly answering her question, Pfeiffer mansplains the problem to her, as if she and her audience are stupid and/or unaware of the issues affecting women. The thing is, he implicitly answers yes just by his reflexive defensiveness; there's no need to defend the president's record if you don't agree that there's a war on women—but he won't say it, because openly acknowledging there is a war on women is to then admit that the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act ain't fucking enough. Gray, fortunately, zeroes in and does not let him off the hook.]

Gray: Yes, but we also saw during the healthcare debate that, when it comes down to it, women's issues take a back seat for the "larger" issues, so, for example, the president said that accepting the Hyde Amendment, which punishes poor women in this country, was an acceptable status quo and that we needed to put that aside for the bigger picture. So, I'll ask again: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: [pause] Let's talk about healthcare for a second, which is— [Gray laughs mirthlessly at his obvious evasiveness; the audience laughs; Pfeiffer holds up his finger, gesturing to her to hold on and listen.] The, the, the Hyde Amendment— ["Just say yes!" someone shouts from the audience] The Hyde Amendment was, uh, was the law of the land, and so—

Gray: It's renewed every year. It is not the law of the land. It is renewed every year. [Audience applause.]

Pfeiffer: Right, and, and if we tried to repeal it in health reform, there would be no health reform. And that, that was, that was the choice. It was a very simple choice, and so—

Gray: It was a simple choice?

Pfeiffer: It was, well, it's, you have two options—it's simple in the fact that you have two options; it's not an easy choice! [He says this like Gray is being a jerk.] You have two choi—you have two options: And it was no health reform and make that attempt, which would've failed and would most certainly not have passed the United States Senate, so that's the choice you have to make.

[He says this in this really matter-of-fact way, as if anyone would question the decision is an asshole, and when he says "the choice you have to make," I wonder who that "you" is supposed to be, really, because it's definitely not the women who are left without any choice because of the Hyde Amendment.]
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I... didn't know that the Hyde Amendment was renewed every year. Are we for real??? Instead  of  making progress so that the damn thing LAPSES, we keep passing it like its no big thing????
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Or maybe its this: "Exploitation by Any Other Name (Might be Monsanto)"

Whoever titled the sections had a definite sense of humor...



GMOS and Peru: The Debate Continues


In Peru, the debate over the introduction of GMOs into the country has been very public, involving a plethora of participants such as scientists, chefs, farmers, restaurant owners, politicians, and far-ranging members of civil society. Several Peruvian regions, including Cusco, Lambayeque, Huánuco, Ayacucho, and San Martín, were the first to declare themselves “GMO-free zones.”[i] Lima soon joined as the newest GMO-free zone in late April.[ii] This move came just days after President Alan García and former Peruvian Minister of Agriculture Rafael Quevedo had signed Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG on April 15.[iii]

The decree, which was actually drawn up two years ago, set up an agency to regulate the research, production, and trade of GMOs.[iv] Rafael Quevedo, who has since resigned from office due to intense criticism surrounding his stance on GMOs, claimed that the order was merely “a regulation which tries to eliminate errors, control the use of genetically modified organisms, and make sure they don’t come into the country if they are found to be a risk.”[v] However, many citizens felt that the decree paved the way for a flood of transgenic products into the country, which could hurt its rich biodiversity and its growing market for high quality organic products. The immediate backlash against the signing of the decree indicated that there, indeed, existed widespread support for a GMO-free Peru. Such indications were soon confirmed, as Peru’s Congress recently repealed the decree on June 8 by a 56 to 0 vote, with two abstentions.[vi] The bill has placed a “10-year moratorium on the entrance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation and breeding or any other type of transgenic products.”[vii] However, the transgenic battle in Peru is far from decidedly won, as the moratorium simply puts the heated spar on a temporary hold.


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ETA, if you have to read just one article, read this. It gives context: What's next in Humala's Peru?

HUMALA INHERITS a country that is extremely polarized. The vast majority of the population struggles just to survive, sometimes literally. Accoring to Peruvian sociologist Jorge Lora Cam, only 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product comes from wages, and the informal sector has mushroomed. This year, the poverty rate "went down" to 36 percent.

In Lima, over 1 million people lived without running water as of 2008. In the city of Ayacucho, 25 percent of the population faces the same lack.

The signing of bilateral free trade agreements, not only with the U.S. but also with China, has lead to increased sweatshop exploitation in the cities and to an exponential rise in multinational and foreign investment in metal and fuel mining, which in turn displaces peasant and indigenous communities and pollutes the ecosystem, whose land the government now claims the right to sell off.

Those fighting the conglomerates have been at the forefront of struggle in recent years. As the elections took place, the border between Peru and Bolivia was being blocked by indigenous people taking on mining companies. In Cocachacra, Arequipa and the area around these two southern towns, protesters against the Tía María mining project have been shot and killed, but have refused to accept a truce until after the elections take place.

MORE


Left candidate wins election in Peru


The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru's election is a "big fucking deal", as Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered to Obama on national TV in another context. With respect to US influence in the hemisphere, this knocks out one of only two allies that Washington could count on, leaving only the rightwing government of Chile. Left governments that are more independent of the United States than Europe is now run Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. And Colombia under President Manuel Santos is now siding with these governments more than with the United States.
This means that regional political and economic integration will proceed more smoothly, although it is still a long-term project. On 5 July, for example, heads of state from the whole hemisphere will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, to proceed with the formation of Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). This is a regional organisation that includes all countries except the United States and Canada, and which – no matter what anyone says for diplomatic purposes – is intended to displace the Organisation of American States. The new organisation is a response to the abuse of the OAS by the United States (which controls most of the bureaucracy) for anti-democratic purposes, most recently in the cases of Honduras and Haiti.
These institutional changes, including the vastly expanded role of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) are changing the norms and customs of diplomatic relations in the hemisphere. The Obama administration, which has continued the policies of "containment" and "rollback" of its predecessor, has been slow to accept the new reality. As a result, it does not have ambassadors in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.MORE





Hope in the Andes: What Ollanta Humala’s Victory Means for Peru

Fried pork rinds, fish, potatoes and eggs were sold by street vendors outside polling stations on election day in Lima, Peru. By nightfall, thousands of people gathered in a central plaza waving the white flags of Ollanta Humala’s political party.


Ollanta is an Incan name meaning “the warrior everyone looks to.” Indeed, all eyes were on the leftist president-elect as he greeted the crowd just before midnight with the words, “We won the elections!”


Humala, a former military officer who led a failed military uprising in 2000, lost the elections in 2006 to Alan Garcia. On the June 5th presidential elections this year, he narrowly defeated Kieko Fujimori, the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who was jailed in 2007 for corruption and crimes against humanity. If elected, Kieko would have likely worked to release her father from jail, and carry on his administration’s capitalist and repressive policies.

This election puts Humala among a growing number of leftist presidents in Latin America and offers hope to the poorest sectors of Peruvian society.
The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 percent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. In Sunday’s elections, it was the impoverished rural areas that went for Humala over Kieko Fujimori.


"You cannot speak of Peru advancing if so many Peruvians live in poverty,” Humala said in his victory speech, explaining that he would work to make sure that the government functioned “above all for the poorest people in the country.”MORE



June 2 Peru's Presidential Election: A Battle Over Memory and Justice

When Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori arrived at a plaza in the city of Cajamarca for a recent campaign speech, she was met by a barrage of eggs thrown by activists who opposed her candidacy and called her a “murderer and thief.”

The activists were referring to the legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who was Peru’s president from 1990-2000 and jailed in 2007 for a quarter century sentence after being found guilty of corruption and ‘crimes against humanity’.

Read more... )


Ppl, the free market reforms that Fujimori did were not separate from the massacres and other fuckery he got up to. it was part and parcel of it, to make sure his opponents would stfu and stfd while he got on with capitalism. This thing is from The Economist and I'm linking for the info that it provides, but...jsyk k?



Victory for the Andean chameleon: Having reinvented himself as a moderate, Ollanta Humala has an extraordinary opportunity to marry economic growth with social progress

Read more... )

I mean to say there! Taxing mining companies!!! Allowing Amerindian nations to have veto power on mining on their own LANDS!!!! What IS this world coming to!!!
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Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi’s subterfuge on pastoralism
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi needs to seriously rethink his ideas around the ‘backwardness’ of pastoralism and the need for ‘modernity’, argues Abebech Belachew.


On 25 January 1998, an Ethiopian NGO working on pastoral development, Pastoralist Concern Association of Ethiopia (PCAE), organised a mass cultural gathering in a place called Filtu, Ogaden, for the pastoral communities in the surrounding area. At the end of the gathering, the pastoral elders resolved that 25 January should be observed every year as the pastoralist day. In 2000, when the Pastorlaist Forum Ethiopia (PFE), a national network of NGOs and of which PCAE is a member, was formed, the responsibility of organising the pastoralist day was passed over to the PFE. Thereafter, all the Ethiopian Pastoralist Days had been organised by PFE, until 2005 when the government of il duce (Meles) nationalised it and made it its own. On that year, the PFE was completely thrown out of the management and Meles started to appear for the first time. From then on, the Ethiopian Pastoralist Day became the occasion through which the regime uses as a propaganda tool to deceive pastoral communities. Let’s now turn to what Meles said in Jinka on 25 January. It should be noted that it is not just Meles Zenawi but a great many Ethiopians, and Africans at large for that matter, who do not understand pastoralism or who do not have the right perception on pastoralism. On the contrary, pastoralism is understood by many Ethiopians in the negative sense, as backward and barbaric. Hence, a brief introduction is required right from the outset.[3]

Pastoralism is, in the first place, a traditional way of life whose livelihood system is ingrained in the livestock production. In the same manner as small-scale farming is a traditional livelihood system to the peasantry, livestock production is also the livelihood system of pastoral communities. There are an estimated 50 million pastoralists spread throughout Africa from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, and to the San people of southern Africa (Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa). In some countries, pastoralists constitute a majority and some countries are predominantly pastoral by origin. Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia are 100 per cent pastoral by origin. Pastoralists constitute one huge section of the population in the continent.MORE
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Glencore’s Economics Lessons


What does it take to make the food speculators at Goldman Sachs look like they’re playing for lunch money? A secretive Swiss-based company, and one of the world’s largest commodity trading firms, knows. With its initial public offering announced on Thursday,Glencore – a multibillion-dollar mining, energy and food trader that will soon list in London and Hong Kong – is the envy of Wall Street. When Goldman Sachs was floated, the then CEO Hank Paulson made off with $219m. Glencore’s chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, has already earned the moniker “The Ten Billion Dollar Man” for his share of the bonanza.

 

Glencore will be the first company in 25 years to make the FTSE 100 on its first day of trading, with an estimated valuation of about $60bn. The company has had an average return on equity of 38% (compared to Goldman Sachs’s 12%). Its base in the Swiss town of Baar has freed it of even the minimal regulation US-based companies entertain. Not by accident does Glencore find itself in Switzerland. Like the mining and oil trading companyTrafigura, Glencore is a descendant of the Marc Rich group. Rich fled the US in 1983 after being indicted by a federal prosecutor, Rudolph Giuliani, for tax evasion and trading with Iran (though he was pardoned by Bill Clinton). As Marcia Vickers reported in a Businessweek exposé: “Rich’s philosophy is that no law applies to him.”

In exchange for going public and raising money for further acquisitions, Glencore will now have to submit to the bared gums of UK regulators – whose rules are far less onerous than their US counterparts. With the funds from its flotation, the company looks set to dominate the fields in which it chooses to operate. Although primarily a mining and energy company, it has substantial interests in food – controlling around a quarter of the global market for barley, sunflower and rape seed, and 10% of the world’s wheat market.

In the weeks before flotation, Glencore allowed us a glimpse of the kind of power it wields. Last year Russia, the world’s third largest wheat exporter, experienced a drought the like of which had never been recorded; fires damaged tens of thousands of acres of cereal.

MORE
Hoo-fucking RAY.
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SIERRA LEONE
First Fruit Juice Company Adding Value to Farming



FREETOWN, May 12, 2011 (IPS) - Crate loads of lush ripe mangos are stacked up, a sweet fragrance filling the air. Factory workers wait for their instructions, decked out in protective coats, rubber boots and hairnets. As they see each other kitted out for the first time, they break into giggles. This is a big week for Sierra Leone as its first fruit- processing plant goes into production.

The mangos move around a mesh of steel tubes and eventually, as if by magic, a smooth golden nectar pours out from a spout.

For this tiny West African country, the arrival of Africa Felix juice manufacturing company is a momentous occasion, not just because this is a state-of-the-art plant but also because, unlike with the country's other abundant natural resources, value addition will be happening inside its borders this time round.

Much-needed foreign exchange will be generated as the company targets regional and European markets. MORE



We need some good news, dammit!
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WARNING: This post is...upsetting. Humanity continues to be...shitty.


So I saw this ad, from the World Food Programme:

UN World Food Programme: We Feed people


And I wondered WTF and who on earth thought corn-soybean mush was a good idea. That shit ain't healthy, not by a long shot!

And then. I saw this.

2010: NEED TO KNOW | The silent epidemic of malnutrition | PBS


I...am incoherent with RAGE. This. is. bullshit. I am sorry but not only can we do SO MUCH BETTER (less fucking wars and weapons. More nutritious freaking FOOD. And don't TELL ME the US spends too much on foreign aid, we spend less than one percent. LESS THAN ONE PERCENT. We can do Less tax cuts for the wealthy, and drop less million dollar bombs AND MAKE THE CORPORATIONS PAY THEIR FUCKING TAXES.) Also? Where the fuck are the rest of the world? Europe? The oil-rich states? Canada? What the fuck is this??? And I am not blaming the World Food Programme at all, because they have to take what they get and they are chronically underfunded. But countries of the world? This is NOT OK. NOT. OK. We can do SO MUCH BETTER. WTF is this???


RAGE!!!!!!
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Uganda walk-to-work protests kick up dust

Being hauled up before courts and jailed just because you have chosen to walk to work as a form of protest is something unimaginable in many countries. But in Uganda it happens.

Security forces are harassing and have been locking up opposition politicians and their supporters who are taking part in a protest against spiralling food and fuel prices by walking to work.
The walk-to-work protest, as it is called, began on April 11. A group calling itself Activists for Change (A4C) organised the demonstration and opposition politicians - keen to show they are concerned about people's discontent over rising prices - heeded the call to take part.

But the protest got off to a stuttering start as the leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, was promptly intercepted by security forces when he was leaving his home in Kasangati near Kampala, the capital. Another politician, Nobert Mao, head of the Democratic Party, and an opposition MP were also picked up.

Besigye, who was arrested for a fourth time on Thursday a day after he was freed on bail on condition that he does not stage more protests, had been given three options: To return to his house or be driven to work in a police vehicle or send for his personal car and drive to work. He chose none.

Purchase of fighter jets

The tense standoff that ensued and resulted in Besigye getting shot in the right hand - as supporters who were dispersed by police amid plumes of tear gas joined him - shows no sign of easing and has led to more protests.
It is not hard to see the source of the discontent. The government is planning to buy eight fighter jets for $740m when its people cannot afford food. Government officials justify this spending by saying Uganda needs to beef up its defence systems, if it is to protect its newfound oil near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).MORE





Uganda rebellion gathers pace despite bloody government crackdown

Riots have swept across the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in the biggest anti-government protest in sub-Saharan Africa so far this year.

Security forces have launched a brutal crackdown, opening fire on unarmed civilians with live rounds, rubber bullets and teargas. Two people have been killed, more than 120 wounded and around 360 arrested. Women and girls have been among those beaten, according to witnesses.

Two weeks of growing unrest – sparked by rising food and fuel prices – have gained fresh impetus after the violent arrest of the opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday
. Critics say President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 25 years, is losing his grip. They claim his wildly disproportionate crackdown on Besigye's "walk to work" protests smacks of panic and is sowing the seeds of popular revolt.

"I thought the police were going to kill me," said Andrew Kibwka, 18, after police with heavy sticks rained blows on him. "I was telling them I'm harmless but they just carried on. I did nothing to provoke them. They beat me because I was running away."MORE


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Features: We export food to import food

Nebiyu Eyassu cuts through the supposed benefits of foreign agricultural investments - so-called land grabs - for a country like Ethiopia. Far from boosting employment and local food security, land grabs are likely to prop up a discredited government and increase hunger.

The price hike in global food has prompted certain countries to seek cheap and fertile farmland beyond their borders in order to guarantee food security for themselves. To achieve this goal such states are encouraging their domestic agro-businesses, tied to their national interests, to invest in countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Madagascar, Tanzania and Argentina, to name a few. Capital invested in far-away farms will produce food cheaply, which will then be exported back to the country where the original capital came from. In this way, the volatility of the international food market can be avoided and national food security achieved.

To accomplish this goal, a key step is to convince developing nations to give up their fertile land to foreign investors. One of the baits designed for the purpose of persuasion is the promise of infrastructure and the sharing of information and technology in agricultural science. The other promise made to host nations is of capital gained from food exports, which can then be reinvested in the country. For underdeveloped countries, who face serious food insecurity, and who are often unable to feed their population, this may sound too good to pass by, particularly if host nation governments are too naive, or are otherwise unconcerned.

...

Although this issue of land-grabbing by foreign interests is new to Ethiopia, it is no stranger to other parts of the developing world. The history of foreign agro-business intrusion in some Latin American and Caribbean countries is enlightening to say the least. In northeastern Brazil, the region was extensively farmed by foreign agricultural interests for centuries. Unfortunately this region has nothing to show for it now. Today the region is the poorest part of the country with the least food security and one of the highest malnutrition rates in Latin America.
Contrary to the promises made by companies that farmed Brazil’s fertile soil, the outcome has been very grim. In his famous book ‘Open Veins of Latin America’, Eduardo Galliano, commenting on Brazil’s northeast, says, ‘Naturally fitted to produce food, it became a place of hunger. Where everything had bloomed exuberantly, the destructive and all dominating plantation left sterile rock, washed out soil, and eroded lands.’ Are Ethiopia’s own fertile lands headed for the same fate? What makes the current foreign agricultural adventure in Ethiopia any different?MORE


here's an old post of mine that gives more information on the phenomenon of land grabs Food sovereignty part 1: rich vs Poor
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Dialogues:Brazil Doesn’t Need Poisons to Maintain Food Production Fabíola Ortiz interviews MST leader JOÃO PEDRO STÉDILE*

For the last three consecutive years, Brazil, an agricultural giant, has occupied first place worldwide in the consumption of agricultural herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. It had risen to second place behind the United States in 2006, but took over the top spot in 2008 after a record soybean harvest.

A study by the German market research firm Kleffmann Group, commissioned by the National Association for Plant Protection, which represents agrochemical manufacturers, confirmed that Brazil is the world’s leading market for agrochemicals.

Over seven billion dollars were spent on these products in 2008, while the area of cultivated land decreased by two percent.

Nevertheless, the amount of chemical products used per farmer in Brazil is relatively small compared to other countries.
In 2007, an average of 87.8 dollars per hectare were spent on agrochemicals in Brazil, compared to 196.7 dollars in France and 851 dollars in Japan.

The five biggest transnationals in this sector - BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont and Monsanto - all have manufacturing plants in Brazil.

This situation has led the MST to broaden its focus beyond its original purpose of pushing for the effective implementation of agrarian reform. The organisation currently represents some 20,000 members throughout Brazil, and works alongside 60,000 rural families in pressuring the government to distribute idle farmland and improve the conditions on those areas already settled by small family farmers.
Stédile spoke with Tierramérica about the movement’s current concerns.MORE



Brazil at Risk of Agrarian Counter Reform

RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 27, 2011 (IPS) - A process of "agrarian counter-reform" is taking place in Brazil, according to activist João Pedro Stédile, a leader of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

Stédile said Brazil's land reform efforts faltered in the last few years of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), while land ownership became more concentrated.


In the final stretch of President Lula's second term, many legal expropriations of idle land on large estates were blocked in court.

In addition, the international financial crisis "had the opposite effect in Brazil, because in order to protect their funds, international capitalists ran to Brazil to invest in land and energy projects," the activist said.

That led to a "perverse logic" in agriculture, in which purchases of unproductive land by the government were disputed and ownership became more concentrated, as part of "an agrarian counter-reform process," he said.

The most recent official figures are from 2006. The Agricultural Census of that year, published in 2009 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), shows that the concentration of rural land has remained virtually unaltered in the last two decades.

In Brazil, one of the countries in the world with the most uneven distributions of land, around 3.5 percent of landowners hold 56 percent of the arable land while the poorest 40 percent own barely one percent.

According to the IBGE, properties larger than 1,000 hectares cover 46 percent of Brazil's farmland, while properties smaller than 10 hectares occupy barely 2.7 percent.


"The concentration is worse now than in 1920, when we were just getting over slavery (which was abolished in 1888)," Stédile told IPS. "We hope the government of Dilma (Rousseff) will change the agrarian policy, starting with INCRA," Brazil's National Institute for Colonisation and Agrarian Reform. MORE

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