Tag Archive | hunger

Why are Food Prices Soaring as U.S. Experiences Worst Drought Ever!

Why are Food Prices Soaring as U.S. Experiences Worst Drought Ever!

 

By Hwaa Irfan

‘The head of Glencore’s food trading business has said the worst drought to hit the US since the 1930s will be “good for Glencore” because it will lead to opportunities to exploit soaring prices.

Chris Mahoney, the trader’s director of agricultural products, who owns about £500m of Glencore shares, said the devastating US drought had created an opportunity for the company to make much more money.’

Glencore is one of the world’s largest commodities brokerage corporations that avoids taxation. Glencore is owned by Marc Rich. He’s American, the company is Swiss, and it’s listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Pardoned by former President Bill Clinton (2001), Belgian-born Rich was wanted for racketeering, evading millions of dollars in taxes (U.S$48mn) and trading with the enemy: the Ayatollahs’ Iran. It is worth noting that Rich’s lawyer from 1985 – 2000 was Scooter Libby – Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff!

Using strong relationships with business and political leaders in countries with large commodity reserves, Rich developed Glencore International from a small, secretive trading firm into one of the biggest buyers, sellers and producers of commodities in the last three decades. In January 2010, Nathaniel Philip Rothschild of the Rothschild’s bought a substantial share of the Glencore mining and oil business.

Glencore Int’l deals in metals, minerals, crude oil, oil products, coal, natural gas, agricultural, automotive, power generation, steel production and food processing industries – meaing food is not about health of the customers, but profits by any means.

Talking to the Guardian, Raj Patel, an expert in the global food trade and former UN employee, said Glencore and other multinational food traders were in a “fine position to make money from a crisis because they’ve pushed for an international economic system that relies on them”.

“They [Glencore] are millionaires making money from other people’s misery caused by the drought,” he said. “It’s the sad fact of how the international food system – that they pushed for and our governments gave to them – works.

“It’s unsurprising that a crisis is a revenue generator.”

Referred to as the “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” in Rolling Stone Magazine. Glencore is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, with about 9% of the global market according to its IPO prospectus.

Glencore has covered the major avenues of increasing revenue in the global food industry from accessing and exploiting raw materials (wheat, barley and corn), oil/oilseeds (including most edible oils and biodiesel), cotton and sugar, production, processing, transportation, and stores. Glencore states that by 31 December 2011, it had revenues of US$186.15bn.  Glencore is the leading exporter of grains to Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Australia.

But sometimes, all good things come to an end, we the consumers learn about the high cost of living in excess, and that live is more than about what we can own.

Glencore reports for the first 6 months of 2012, a drop in net profits by 8% due to falling prices of materials. Does pushing the price up make it a more likely  buy!

Sources:

“Glencore-Viterra: Information for Farmers and Growers.” http://www.glencore.com/documents/Glencore-Viterra_information_for_Growers_and_Farmers.pdf

Neate, R. “Glencore food chief says US drought is ‘good for business’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/21/glencore-us-drought-good-for-business?newsfeed=true

Patel, R. “At Glencore’s pinnacle of capitalism, even hunger is a commodity.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/05/glencore-hunge-commodity-food-prices

Werdigier, J. “Glencore to Emerge From Shadows With I.P.O.” http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/glencore-to-emerge-from-shadows-with-i-p-o/

Related Topics:

Bolivia Strikes a Nerve in Rich’s Wealth!

Behind the Food Price Crisis!

Increasing Food Insecurity for Short Term Gain

Biofuels Increasing Food Prices

Eating Away at Our Earth Pt2.

Kenya: Linking Farmers to Drought Victims

Kenya: Linking Farmers to Drought Victims

Sometimes, the solution is right at one’s feet, but one is busy looking into the distance. As the drought situation worsens on the Horn of Africa as a result of the meteorological condition La Nina leading to depressed rainfalls from 2010 in Upper Eastern (Masarbit, Moyale, Isiolo, Samburu and Tharaka), North Rift (Turkana and West Pokot), North Eastern (Garrisa, Wajir and Mandera), Coast Region (Kwale, Lamu, Malindi, Kilifi and Tana River), Lower Eastern (Kitui South and Kajiado) and South Rift (Baringo, Mogotio and Narok).

An appeal in Kenya went out as early as January, but some aid agencies started to respond in July 2011. While the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the International Federation of the Red Cross Societies (IFRC), busy themselves with the Kenya Drought Response Initiative, central Kenyan farmers are concerned as their latest harvest is rotting away due to poor storage facilities, and poor transportation.

To ensure all agricultural efforts are not going to waste, the farmers are asking the government to buy the remainder of their produce, and distribute it to drought victims. Farmer Nahashon Gitau told Voice of America

“It is for the government to make some arrangements — perhaps even give transport. Then, they can buy it at a good price, then give it to those people instead of asking for food from overseas, which is very bad,” one of the farmers. ”

“When we are throwing away food, they are asking for food from overseas.”

So, maybe the Kenya Drought Response Initiative can link up with the government, and make a call to all those in Kenya with available transport to create a network whereby this can be achieved. Current governments are not always (rarely in fact) looking domestically, to solve short term, and long terms solutions.

So all those in Kenya with running transportation, private or public get involved.

Contact:

Kenya Drought Response Initiative 2011 via International Federation of Red Cross

Nancy Okwengu, IFRC Senior Regional Communications Officer, East Africa

Tel. +254 20 1045 149; +254 722 227 114; +254 733 632 946

nancy.okwengu@ifrc.org

info@kenyaredcross.org Contact: Titus: 0722 866 830 – Nelly: 0722 371 426

Sources:

“Kenya Drought Response Initiative 2011”  http://reliefweb.int/node/380836

Muncal, I.Local Farmers Urge Kenyan Government to Buy Food Stocks as Aid for Drought Victims” http://www.devex.com/en/blogs/the-development-newswire/local-farmers-urges-kenyan-government-to-buy-food-stocks-as-aid-for-drought-victims

Finding a Global Balance

Finding a Global Balance

By Hwaa Irfan

The words of Miguel D’Escoto-Brockman brought life to journalism for me which I would not have read if it was not for the excerpt:

“Only by recognizing the rights of all things, and Mother Earth, can humanity hope to find balance amid mounting global challenges.”

I would not have believed such public conviction could come from the pen of a president of the UN General Assembly. These are the words of someone who does not represent the status quo – the status of world affairs that have descended to the status of civil liberties around the world. Only have I seen such sentiment expresses consistently in Islam, a sentiment that is not represented in Europe’s growing populist position towards Muslim women wear, a position that represents the states position in relation to civilian life. D’Escoto-Brockman continues:

“Our indigenous peoples have known this for millennia. Yet, as Western civilization expanded, and brutal capitalism entrenched, the ancient knowledge and wisdom of our indigenous brothers and sisters was more ignored, diminished, and repressed by imperial powers. By armed conquests, colonial powers were able to steal, pillage, enslave and desecrate the lands, goods and peoples of the South. But I believe the greatest tragedy was not the wielding of their economic and military superiority; the greatest tragedy consisted in the all-pervasive and prevailing ‘colonization of the intellect. The gradual assimilation of intellectual elites across the world into a capitalist system of obsessive consumption and pursuit of profit lies at the root of today’s multiple converging crises. It has contaminated us all.” 

It has contaminated all to the extent that of those who are vaguely aware of being poisoned, the dilemma is reflected in the confusion that is brought about by the question “poisoned by what.” It has all come across as being quite natural, to want, and to get. The governments around the world have grown arrogant, and after becoming the worshipped idol that feeds and provides, we have become the slaves that feeds on what it provides, and cries when governments tell us to cry, and laugh when governments tell us to laugh. Our lives have become shaped and determined by the media the pharmaceutical, and food industries to the extent that when governments fail, which they have done severely as represented by the food price and economic crises, the only thing we recognize is our right to food, out right to work, our right to homes not fully paid for when the means for those rights is based on the continual plundering of natural resources, the abuse of our health, the abuse of our mental health, the abuse, the right to find and create work as opposed to being given work which is not really there, and the commitment and responsibility that goes with having a family. Instead governments have taken on these responsibilities to the extent that these governments dare not admit that they are in reality redundant, as the growing dysfunction of the systems they have put in place are unsustainable. 

We do not recognize the extent to which these economic, social, medical systems are failing, yet as Joe Public we continue to want what they want us to want. In pursuit of this better and more advanced world, we have become disconnected from ourselves, and each other, and all the antagonistic self interests are the result of that broken connection with life as it is meant to be lived. Everything has been reduced down to appetites for sex and food as the only two lusts we are capable of perpetuating to extent of annihilating the balance of our bodies, and the balance within our minds. We find ourselves yearning for what we have lost, but unable to define what that loss is! Even when that loss is touched upon, we fall back on the props that sustain how we project ourselves in the world with true passion and commitment amiss. This is because we fail to make the direct correlation between our relationship with ourselves, each other, and the earth that sustains us. How we see ourselves, is how we see the earth!

We must take the time to visualize our lives with nothing, and then from there, ask what we really need to make us happy, and then to truly ask ourselves what we need to do make each other happy! What are the basics, and what is it we do to complicate it all!

The keepers of that illusive connectedness fight the good fight, away from our obsessions with wealth, status, looks and lusts – it is these desires that have led to the exploitation of others for self gain/interest in terms of livelihood, health, and the environment. At the first conference of the People’s World Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, 35,352 people attended what was ignored by mainstream media April 2010. That is 35,352  people (indigenous peoples, scientists and activists from 130 countries) who are seeking real change and cannot find the likelihood of this happening in the usual international conferences that only seek to maintain the status quo. The U.N which pledges to fight the growing problem of hunger it is short sighted as to the real causes of hunger because to really fight hunger is to replace the very system that perpetuates hunger:

“The principal cause of the destruction of planet Earth is capitalism and, as people who inhabit it, let us respect this Mother Earth; we have all the right, we have the ethics and the morals to say here that the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism.

“The capitalist system seeks to obtain the maximum possible profits by promoting unlimited growth on a finite planet. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world” said Juan Evo Morales Ayma, the president of the pluranational state of Bolivian in the opening speech to the conference.

This might seem threatening to many who have grown to see the system that has shaped the world we know on every level, but take a look around and count how many global problems that have been taking place, and how it connects to one’s life. Take a look and see who is being listened to, and who is not being listened to. It is one planet, yet all the problems are down to a lack of mutual respect, and mutual respect requires understanding and appreciating the “other”. Day needs night, just as summer needs spring, when one part of the world harvests, the other part of the world hibernates – rests for a while until it is time to harvest; instead what we find is that one part of the world wants to claim all the harvests so the other part of the world starves.

And so it is that we all starve emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically! Our global factory education system reflects this usurping the creative mind for the mind that consumes and produces on behalf of the state. The state does not want any distractions away from its goal, and so it is that organized religion, the Divine religions become a threat, especially when the spiritual essence of the religion is practiced, and not the material, for the material only perpetuates the state. This is difficult to see when one is in it, but for those who have taken the mantle of their forefathers as keepers of the earth, this is not so difficult to see. We treat the earth as if it has endless capacity to provide for our unlimited appetite, but we forget:

{Surely We have created everything according to a measure} (Al Qamar 54: 49)

The Pachamama Alliance 

Pachamama means ‘mother world’, and is a term that is used in the Andes of South America. The Pachamama Alliance grew out of the Achuar people of Bolivia 15 years ago, as a call to all people around the world with an initial call to preserve the world’s rainforests. The Alliances vision has grown to encompass an “environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on Planet Earth.” They call this awakening the dreamer, and changing the dream. What a challenge, but a challenge we must meet, and one we would want to meet if we are honest with our own dissatisfaction with our current reality. Over 1024 organizations around the world have joined the Alliance, and  moving towards a collective sense of what is possible as opposed to what is happening now, which is the responsibility of governments which is making our lives impossible.

May Ayma life remain with us to fulfill his mission, for many attempts on his life have been made. Practicing what he believes in drove him to go on a hunger strike in April 2010, demanding that Congress pass legislation allowing for the general elections to take place in December. So what! Thousands joined him, and they included Spain and Argentina so that the new year would start with the right to vote for the indigenous people, and the right for the president to be re-elected. “The words “growth” and “development” do not appear in the new Bolivian Constitution because individual and corporate gain are seen as anathema for a society which seeks to meet its needs based on cooperation, collective distribution and reciprocity” writes Donna Lazarus. When the vision is clear, the commitment is strong! 

Clearly a man who has truly worked for a living with his hands, Ayma a former cacao farmer presented the Pachamama proposal at the conference, and also presented the proposal to the U.N. The proposal is based on four principles:

  • The right to life: this includes all species 
  • The right of the earth to regenerate its bio-capacity
  • The right to a clean life, which includes the earth’s right to live without pollution
  • The right to harmony with all

The initial response was to create an International Mother Earth Day, let us hope that the U.N commitment goes much further than that!

Things and Emotions

Take time out each and every day, and look at what you did, what you used to do it, what was the source of what you used, and what was the process and the result of what you used. Did you really need it, or did you just want it! If it is hurting someone, why do it, and if it is only hurting you, who else are you hurting! 

Juan Evo Morales Ayma’s Speech at the People’s World Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Bolivia April 2010 

“For the planet or for death!  I salute the social movements, unions, government representatives, and many people who have come to Bolivia, the heart of the Americas, to participate in this conference in the defense of pache mama.

“Copenhagen wasn’t a fiasco; it’s a victory for the people and a failure of the powerful nations of the world.  It’s the so-called underdeveloped countries protect who respect Kyoto.   Copenhagen Accord will lead to warming of more than 4° Celsius.  That’s why we’ve called this meeting.  We’re facing mass extinction and other terrible effects.   We need to establish a limit of 350ppm in the atmosphere.

“But underdeveloped countries are only responsible for 5% of GHGs. 

“Developed counties are blocking any kind of progress on this front.  COP15 agreement eliminates the Kyoto Protocol, and responsibilities of developed countries to cut their emissions.

“Capitalism is the major element responsible for the destruction of the Earth.  Capitalism depends on the greatest profit possible.  Yet globalization is manifestly creating poverty.  For capitalism, we’re only consumers or workers.  There is no other aspect to our identities.  Capitalism commodifies everything.  

“We must choose either corporations and death or life.  We cannot live in harmony with Earth when a few people are controlling the vast majority of the planet.  Our new system of collectivist socialism will solve these problems.  We are again unlimited development.

“We are united here to celebrate the role of indigenous peoples a stewards of the Earth and as an alternative to unsustainable development.  Mother Earth belongs to all of us and cannot be sold.  Capitalism is synonomous with the destruction of the planet.

“For example, capitalism persecutes indigenous people for raising coca, a product we used for centuries before European conquistadores arrived.  But today our indigenous communities know that tea made from coca is one of the best medicines available. 

“We have to reverse the illegality imposed on use through the ‘War on Drugs.”  What if we decided that another traditional indigenous food, quinoa, was illegal and went around persecuting health food proponets in the US for eating it? 

“GMOs are another example of how the West’s values are wrong.  We know that eating GMO chicken makes men effeminate (!).  GMOs also create baldness, so if we all eat them soon the entire planet will be bald.

“We also need to embargo Coca-Cola.  This drink only makes us sick.  I know certain plumbers who use it to unclog toilets.

“Another example is the difference between traditional clay plates and plastic plate.  Evo tells UN representative that when he went there for dinner, they gave him food on plastic plates.

“Evo then took a poncho, the type worn by indigenous people in Bolivia, and demonstrated how waterproof it is by pouring water all over it.  He was flanked on both sides by generals, and the water went dangerously close to them as it swirled off the poncho. 

“Evo then says that these small examples show that we need to go back to indigenous ways.

“Capitalism constantly invents wars, he said.  Wars on drugs.  Wars on terror.

“When it can’t sell its products, capitalism manufactures weapons and starts wars in order to sell those weapons.

“If we unite all the people, he argued, we can defeat capitalism and imperialism, and save the planet.  He then advanced a series of five action points:

  • Reduce carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million.
  • Prod the UN to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
  • Open frontiers to receive the millions of climate migrants in coming years
  • Help underdeveloped countries cope with effects of climate change
  • Recognize people’s rights to things like water, and recognize their right not to be exposed to things like excessive pollution.

We need, Evo argued, a huge global intercontinental movement in support of the rights of Mother Earth.  We need to indict the countries that don’t support the Kyoto Protocol in the International Criminal Court.  

“We are confronted with two paths: pache mama or the path of the multi-nationals.  If we don’t take the former, the masters of death will win, he argued.  If we don’t fight, we will be guilty of destroying the planet”. 

Speech by President Evo Morales to the G77 at the United Nations regarding the conclusions of the First World People’s Conference on Climate Change

Speech by Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, before the G77 + China at the United Nations 

May 7, 2010

“I have come here to share the conclusions of the First World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held last April 20th to 22nd in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I convened this Conference because in Copenhagen the voice of the peoples of the world was not listened to or attended to, nor were established procedures respected by all States.

“The Conference attracted 35,352 participants, and of those, 9,254 were foreign delegates, representing movements and social organizations from 140 countries and five continents. The event also benefited from the participation of delegations from 56 governments.

“The debates that took place at the Conference were organized into 17 Working Groups. The “People’s Accord” adopted by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is a summary of the conclusions of each of those 17 Working Groups. From among all of the documents, I would like to place special emphasis on the project of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

“We, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, formally presented these conclusions last April 26th, along with a technical proposal, to the negotiation process taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

“The Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia convened this Conference because the so-called developed countries did not comply with obligations to establish substantial commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at last year’s Copenhagen Conference on climate change. If these countries had respected the Kyoto Protocol and had agreed to substantially reduce emissions within their borders, the Cochabamba Conference would not have been necessary.

“I am personally convinced that the only way to guarantee a positive result in Cancún, México is through the broad participation of the world and the ironclad unity of the countries of the G77 + China.

“We in the G77 + China are a group of 130 developing countries that are the least responsible for climate change, and, nonetheless, the most affected by the dire impacts of global warming. We represent two-thirds of the countries comprising the United Nations, and close to 80% of the world’s population. In our hands is the task of saving the future of humanity and planet Earth, and making the voices of our peoples heard and respected. 

“That is why I have come here to address the G77 + China!

“We all know that, within the G77 + China, there is a great diversity of political, economic, and cultural positions. This is our strength: unity through diversity. I know that different criteria exist within our Group, but I also know that, when we agree, there is no force that can stop us or detain us. This strength is like the unity of so many sardines before sharks. This is what happened at the last climate change meeting in Bonn from April 9th to 11th, at which we were slow to reach an agreement, but once we achieved consensus in the G77 + China, the rest of the developing countries had to submit to our consensus.

“I would like to begin by highlighting the points of convergence between the G77 + China and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. 

“The first point of convergence is the need to preserve and fulfill the Kyoto Protocol. That is to say, the need for developed countries to make substantial commitments to domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

“In the G77 + China, nobody is proposing to liquidate or dilute the Kyoto Protocol. We all agree that the Annex 1 countries that are historically responsible for causing greenhouse gas emissions should honor their commitments and obligations under international treaties on climate change.

“The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth demands that developed countries reduce their domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 50% based on 1990 levels for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Current offers for reducing greenhouse gases in developed countries would at best only amount to a reduction of 2% based on 1990 levels.

“The Cochabamba Conference does not propose substituting the Kyoto Protocol with various voluntary reduction commitments that are not directed toward global goals, and in which no distinction is made between what the different developed countries must do.

“The People’s Accord states: “The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.”

“The second point of convergence among the World People’s Conference and the G77 + China is the need for the reduction commitments made by developed countries to be as deep possible in order to stabilize the increase in temperature to, where possible, within a range of 1.5 to 1 degree Celsius.

“We developing countries present here are aware that an increase in temperature will bring grave consequences for the provision of food, for coastal zones, for glaciers, and all of Africa. All of us here in the G77 + China are resolved to avoid letting a single island state fall into the ocean.

“A third point of convergence among the G77 and the Conference is the concept of the climate debt that developed countries owe to developing countries. This concept was much discussed at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, and it became clear that the concept has the following components:

“The first component is the need to give back the atmospheric space that has been occupied by the developed countries and their greenhouse gas emissions, affecting developing countries. Developed countries should decolonize the atmosphere to allow for an equitable distribution of the atmospheric space among all countries in accordance with the size of their population.

“The second component is the debt with regard to forced migrations due to climate change. The number of forced migrations has reached 50 million worldwide, and could increase to 200 million to 1 billion people by the year 2050. To honor this debt, developed countries, as the generators of climate change, must open their borders to receive the affected migrants. The existence of migration laws like that of Arizona or the Return Policy in the European Union is absolutely unacceptable.

“The third component is the debt to our Mother Earth. This is because not only have human beings and developing countries been affected, but so has nature. To honor this debt, the First World People’s Conference considers it fundamental to discuss here in the United Nations a proposal for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth that establishes obligations for all human beings with regard to nature and that recognizes, in the form of rights, the limits that human activity must have if we are going to preserve planet Earth.

“Some of the rights of nature that it proposes are:

– The right to life and to exist

– The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

– The right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

– The right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning

“We hope that this proposed Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth will begin to be discussed and analyzed within the General Assembly of the United Nations.

“Finally, we have the fourth component, the economic component of climate debt, which is comprised of the adaptation debt and the development debt that the industrialized countries have to developing countries. 

“On the topic of financing, the World People’s Conference considers that, to confront climate change, a budget should be designated similar to the budget that countries allot for military and security spending. 

“The amount of 10 billion dollars that developing countries are currently offering is less than 1% of the total amount of their defense budgets. It is simply not possible to dedicate 120 times more resources to war and death than to preserving life and our Mother Earth.

“Developed countries should commit to annual financing from public sources in addition to the Official Development Assistance in order to confront climate change in developing countries. This financing should be direct and without conditionalities, and should not violate the sovereignty of States.

“It is necessary to establish a new financing mechanism that functions under the authority of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and with significant representation by developing countries to guarantee compliance with the financing commitments of Annex 1 countries.

“The World People’s Conference proposes the creation of a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for technology transfer. These technologies should be useful, clean, and socially appropriate. The Cochabamba Conference considers it essential to create a fund for the financing and inventory of appropriate technologies free from intellectual property rights, particularly by moving patents from private monopolies into the public domain for free access.

“The People’s Conference notes that developed countries increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990-2007 despite having claimed that reductions would be assisted by market mechanisms. 

“The carbon market has become a lucrative business that commodifies nature, favors a few intermediaries, and does not significantly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

“The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, and that it would be totally irresponsible to leave care for and protection of the very existence of humanity and our Mother Earth in the hands of the market. 

“In this regard, the Conference considers it inadmissible that the current negotiations attempt to create new mechanisms that broaden and promote the carbon market. 

“The first Conference proposes the substitution of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) by a new mechanism that is not based on the promotion of the carbon market, and that respects the sovereignty of States and the right of the peoples to free, previous, and informed consent. This new mechanism should directly transfer technologies and economic resources from developed countries for the restoration and maintenance of forests and woodlands.

“The topic of agriculture and climate change was also widely discussed, and the concept of food sovereignty was adopted. This goes beyond food security by implying not just the right to nourishment, but also the right of the peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and technology for food production in harmony with Mother Earth and at the service of the whole community, not just the sectors with the highest income.

“In this regard, it was put forth that, to confront the climate change crisis, it is necessary to bring about a profound shift away from agriculture solely based on business and profit, strengthening instead agriculture for life, communities, and equilibrium with nature.

“In the negotiations and in the application of the accords on climate change, it is necessary to fully guarantee the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

“The Conference also proposes a new theme to be discussed in the climate change negotiations and more broadly in the General Assembly of the United Nations: the establishment of a Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal to try developed countries that fail to meet their commitments and sanction States and corporations that negatively affect the vital cycles of the Mother Earth.

 “Among our peoples there is much worry because the international accords to which we have subscribed are not ultimately complied with. For this reason there is an interest in creating binding mechanisms that guarantee compliance and are capable of sanctioning violations to international treaties relating to climate and the environment.

“Another proposal has to do with the need to convene a Referendum on Climate Change so that the world’s population can decide what should be done about this important issue. 

“The Cochabamba Conference challenges us to begin to imagine and to promote a kind of global democracy in which the major issues facing humanity can be decided by all peoples. 

“To bring about all of these proposals, the Conference resolves to initiate the construction of a World People’s Movement of the for Mother Earth.

“The Cochabamba Conference places special emphasis on analyzing the topic of development and what kind of development it is that we want.

“Some of the principles agreed upon were:

– There cannot be unlimited development in a finite planet

– The model of development we want is not that of the so-called developed countries, which is unsustainable in a planet with limited natural resources

– So that developing countries might satisfy the needs of their populations without affecting planet Earth, it is essential that developed countries lower their levels of consumption and waste

– To achieve development in harmony with nature, we must also seek harmony among human beings through an equitable distribution of wealth

“The First World People’s Conference proposes that the climate change negotiations analyze the structural causes of global warming and develop alternative proposals of a systemic character. 

“For the First World People’s Conference, the root cause of the climate crisis is the capitalist system. What we are seeing is not just a climate crisis, an energy crisis, a food crisis, a financial crisis… but also the systemic crisis of capitalism itself, which is bringing about the destruction of humanity and nature. If the cause is systemic, then the solution must be systemic as well. For this, the People’s Conference discussed the theme of alternatives for living well in harmony with nature.

“To conclude, the Conference considers that to construct the future we must learn from the past, which remains present among us in the example of indigenous peoples that have in all parts of the world preserved their forms of living in harmony with nature.

“Esteemed ambassadors of the G77 + China, I believe that the best way to strengthen our unity and our actions in the negotiations is by strengthening our consensus and discussing our different positions in a frank and sincere manner.

“On this path, it is fundamental that situations like that of Copenhagen last year not be repeated. We should respect the position agreed upon in the Bali Plan of Action and defended by the G77 + China, and ensure that climate change negotiations continue through the two established channels of “Long-Term Cooperative Action” and the Kyoto Protocol.

“Our unity gives us the strength to guarantee that the negotiations will be broadly participatory, transparent, and respectful of the equal rights of all member States of the United Nations, whether large or small, and to ensure that the voice of our peoples is heard and respected. 

“In the unity of the developing countries lies our potential to forge a new world in which harmony exists among human beings and with our Mother Earth.

Ambassadors:

“The response to global warming is global democracy for life and for the Mother Earth. Let us choose to be clean and active today for the sake all of humanity, not toxic and reactive tomorrow, against nature. Esteemed ambassadors, we have two paths: to save capitalism, or to save life and Mother Earth.

“Thank you very much”.  

Sources:

D’Escoto-Brockman, M. “It is Not All About Us”. Al Ahram Weekly. Issue 1021.

Lazarus, D.  “Evo Morales Presents Mother Earth Proposal at U.N.”

http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_55711.shtml

Morales, E.  “Evo Morale’s  Speech”. http://www.socialtextjournal.org/live_blog_april_2010/2010/04/evo-morales-speech.php

Speech by President Evo Morales to the G77 at the United Nations regarding the conclusions of the First World People’s Conference on Climate Change http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2010/05/speech-by-president-evo-morales-to-g77.html 

The Pachamama Alliance. http://www.pachamama.org/

Related Topics:

A Food Revolution!

Eating Away at Our Earth

The Banks Surviving on the Man in the Street

Bullying a Legacy from Our Leaders?

Did You Miss Out on 10-10-10?

Do You Like Pineapples?

Summer 2010 the Hottest On Record!

United Against Hunger – Standing Up For Justice

Anti-Austerity Protests Sweep Through Europe

New Intellectual Property Right Laws Increase Risk of Bad Medicine

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Increasing Food Insecurity for Short Term Gain

My Duty is to Save the World

Your Age Matters to Them

Not Another Puppet Government!

From Infowar.comNot Another Puppet Government!

By Hwaa Irfan

  {Who amasses wealth and considers it a provision (against mishap); he thinks that his wealth will make him immortal} (Al Humazah 104: 2-3)

I am no politician, and neither do I have the desire to be one, but sometimes, a few words need to be said about a situation.

As the U.S. and allies try to intimidate Iraq into forming a hurried new government given the way in which the country has been raped by the same forces physically, economically, culturally, in terms of mores and in terms of identity, let us remember why forming a new government under the kind of background which is equivalent to the rape and plunder of the Mongols. Should be taken with great care and deliberation.  Let us also be reminded of the decreasing sense of responsibility these countries have for their own citizens, and the way in which Gaza has been treated by these same countries for voting in its own interest. Let us also realize that regardless of its oil-rich wealth that Iraq should be left to find its feet on its own terms with only the support of those it calls upon, and not those whose bestiality in war relinquished them from the right to have a say! If they do not have the decency to make another one of their meaningless apologies, then at least they can leave them be including those Iraqis who would sell their souls for a piece of the American pie!

The Merchants of Death and War Profiteering

It was President Roosevelt who said:

“The grave menace to the peace of the world is due in no small measure to the uncontrolled activities of the manufacturers and merchants of engines of destruction”. 

In the mid-nineties, the U.S. federal government funded research and development carried out by the U.S. military to the tune of $50bn for U.S. Forces to protect Middle Eastern oilfields and shipping lanes unbeknown to American citizens.  In the early days of U.S occupation, the American corporation Kellogg Brown, and Root, KBR, was initially chosen by the Pentagon to extinguish the oil well fires (set by Iraqis to prevent U.S claims). It was awarded without competition, the Iraqi oil well contracts. KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, which was headed by the former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney of the Enron scandal. Cheney was deputy chief of staff under the Gerald Ford Administration of 1976, a critical member of the project “A New American Century, and was Defense Secretary in the previous Bush (the elder) regime before becoming Vice-President in the George H.W Bush Administration.  So there we have three companies directly linked to Cheney: 

Enron – was the iconic legacy that represented the U.S. war profiteers of WWI and WWII placing business, politics and energy into the same package. Close to the Bush family for two generations,. The gas production of Bush senior was sold to Enron in the 1990s, with the aim to make Enron into an international energy entity. The Enron former chief, Ken Lay was chosen by Bush senior to organize the annual G-7 Economic Summit in Texas in the 1990s, and was a major donor and partner in the re-election of Bush elder, and was forefront in the deregulation of energy and utilities spending $5 million in its deregulation campaign of 1999-2000.  According to former White House strategist, Ken Phillips, “… half of Bush’s twenty largest donors had major ties to Enron”. 

Halliburton – with serious financial mismanagement and accountability being awarded extravagant amounts ($300 mn. in 1995, $800mn, in 1999, $2.3bn. with Cheney as CEO) by the two Bush Administrations. Halliburton received contracts to support U.S. soldiers in Zaire, Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia. Halliburton built Guantanamo Bay, and was the first private militarized company for the U.S, as a part of its new global military strategy advancing high-tech wars to be of the government, but not from the government, and not totally dependent on the government for its survival (i.e. able to take contracts from other countries e.g. Russia and the U.K.).

KBR – a unit of Halliburton had carried out Federal building projects around the world for 10 years prior to 9/11. Is the exclusive logistic supplier for the U.S. Navy and the Army. 

The Defense Department had given over 3,000 contracts since 1994, 2,700 of which went to Booz, Allen and Hamilton, and KBR. U.S.  Enron, Halliburton, and KBR had become hugely influential in the domestic and foreign policies of the Administration. Both KBR, and Halliburton were charged with breaking U.S. sanctions, and human rights, but both corporations were encouraged and financed to do so by the U.S. Administration. Twenty four U.S. companies were mentioned in that report, companies which gave substantial support especially when it came to the development and the use of the biological weapons program, and the missile and nuclear weapons program albeit illegal!

It was Cheney’s scaremongering or rather his failing empire  which projected  an unsustainable U.S. when it came to oil.  In a 2000 report to New American Century Cheney a key member raised the call to invade Iraq with Iraq’s oil second to Saudi Arabia.  Cheney along with Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, and Lewis Libby formulated the blue print which was to lead to the plundering of Iraqi historical and cultural antiquities, the oil for blood program, the recruitment of thugs and street gangs into the U.S. force to humiliate Iraqi men, women and children, the siphoning off of Iraqi oil, the hunger and destitution of many Iraqi children, the prostitution and rape of Iraqi women, the kidnapping of Iraqi  scientific minds, and the death of 1,366,350 Iraqis, and the demonization of Arabs and subsequently Muslims, other religious-ethnic groups, the false notion of the “war on terrorism”, the domination of the world’s resources in the form of T.R.I.P.S (trade and patenting), and the global deterioration in values at the governmental level and at the level of civil society. 

Twenty –seven years ago, Donald Rumsfeld and others went to Baghdad to convince Saddam Hussein to support Bechtel in the construction of an oil pipeline from Iraq to Aqaba in Jordan. In 2002, Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. (Israel’s Energy Storage and Transport Company) planned to transport crude oil from Russia to Central Asia, specifically from the Mediterranean city of Ashkelon to Eilat Harbor on the Red Sea via a 254km pipeline. The effect would be to reverse the current flow from Egypt’s Abu Rodeis oilfields in the Sinai desert to Israeli petrochemical plants in Haifa and Ashdod.

In February 2003, the same years as the invasion, Chair of Bechtel, Riley Bechtel was appointed to President Bush Jnr. Export Council. Ross Connolly, a former Bechtel executive became executive vice president, and chief officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation that established U.S. investments around the world. In fact investment banking is the brain child of war profiteering.

In April 2004, the corporation Bechtel was awarded a contract worth $600mn. by USAID to rebuild the infrastructure that the American allies destroyed, which included Iraq’s power generation, water and sewerage facilities, and other public facilities. Bechtel builds, operates, and maintains water systems in many countries. It was proactive in the privatization of water in Bolivia with the support of the World Bank, which was greatly hindered by the actions of the Bolivian people.  

Rape of a History

Envy to the point of greed is an ugly characteristic in man, To want something that somebody is or has, and then to disguise one’s actions in order to destroy or obtain it has become too acceptable. From time-to-time, we come across it in our daily lives, and unfortunately it is becoming increasingly so.The history of colonization of the region is full of spilt blood. Ancient Mesopotamia, the world’s first urban civilization, with the world’s first city, Samaria, was south of modern Iraq. This was as a result of the annual floods that led to establishing the world’s first agricultural system, allowing for a settled life. Alas, in 1258, the Mongols completely destroyed the Iraqi irrigation system and killed thousands of Iraqis. Those deaths were heavily mourned, but it was not until the 20th century that agricultural land began to recover from the Mongol onslaught.

European interest in the region began in the 19th century. British and French archaeologists turned the Western perception of Iraq’s history upside down when they found the remains of a civilization that had discovered the wheel over 5000 years ago, and had established the key mathematical concept of “0,” the division of the circle into 360 degrees, multiplication tables, square roots, cubes, logarithms, the value of “pi” etc. They discovered theological concepts older than Judaism and Christianity.

Having excavated the ancient cities of Nineveh and Nimrod, those British and French archaeologists found huge libraries of clay tablets and sculptures that can be seen today at the British Museum and the Louvre!

Having this in mind, one should consider the method of this 21st century re-colonization, whereby the heritage of a people continues to be plundered. The Museum at Mosul was once packed with 7000-year old artifacts, and, as in the mind of Patrick Martin of the World Socialist Web Site, the widespread plundering of Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, and Kirkuk was deliberately encouraged by the Pentagon and the Bush Jnr. Administration. The National Museum alone was stripped of over 50,000 artifacts, and the Museum catalog was destroyed, which all of which remained intact under the barbaric ruler Saddam Hussein. The catalog would have identified the artifacts stolen. In defense of the people, obliterate their past, their identity, so that they can be conquered?

Mcguire Gibson, President of the American Association for Research in Baghdad at the time stated:

“It looks as if part of the theft was a very, very deliberate planned action… [the thieves] were able to take out the very important, the very best material”.

The U.S. Business Weekly magazine stated:

“They knew just what they were looking for because dealers ordered the most important pieces well in advance”.

Ann Talbot, also of the World Socialist Web Site commented on the systemic destruction of the Ministry of Irrigation: 

“We might say that by this act the U.S. Administration seeks to drive Iraq back to the Dark Ages, except that Iraq has never known a dark age in the sense that Europe had. By attacking the irrigation system, the U.S, Administration is causing more damage in a few weeks than any other previous invader”. 

 The Britain without the aid of the U.S., invaded more than once. Britain explored and spied on Iraq and navigated its rivers through trading, and became anxious about Iraqi oilfields. After WWI, the British expelled the Turks, ending the Ottoman Empire in that region, and, as in the scramble for Africa, divided up a region that was to form modern-day Iraq. The West has never been able to leave the region alone since then. The regions oilfields supplied the Royal Navy. Favoring Baghdad for colonization, as now, they felt invasion would be met with little resistance. An Anglo-Indian army landed in Basra in 1914. This time, it was the U.S. which claimed Basra, where the British once stood.

Britain and France aimed at absorbing the region into their empires with a mandate from the League of Nations – this was met with local resentment and was perceived as a veiled colonization. To quell the backlash, General Sir Aylman Haldae called for supplied of poisonous gas along with indiscriminate air-power to cut the people off from what is now Kuwait. Britain enforced a monarchial rule under a 1930-Treaty, retaining Iraq as a part of the British Empire. British military bases were maintained along with an agreement to train the Iraqi army. During WWII, the British rushed to protect the oilfields in the North, killing 3,000 Iraqi soldiers. 

Blood for Oil

The rich cultural heritage of the people has held them together for so long despite the temporal man-made laws of the West that has continued to undermine the country because of its inherent wealth. The memories of the people are long, but this type of persistent domination can either strengthen one’s sense of self, and one’s relationship with the Creator, or break one. The Free Officers were determined to right all wrongs and rid Palestine of Zionism. However, Saddam Hussein as a member of the Free Officers, sought to dominate and rose above the other members seizing power in 1979. As the first Shi’a Imam and 4th caliph of the Muslim world ‘Ali ibn ‘Abu Talib commented: 

It is amazing that a ruler can be good… for when he does wrong, he finds someone to back him up and praise him!” 

Playing one against the other, Britain, Germany, France and the U.S. (the heart of the Security Council) armed Saddam against Iran to quell Islam and protect their interests. The U.S. continued to supply Saddam with weapons that would later be used against Kuwait. More blood was to be spilled by both Saddam and the U.S. in the climax to the Gulf War.

In the course of the Gulf War, U.S. bulldozers buried thousands of teenage soldiers; some if them were still alive. The entire country’s infrastructure was destroyed. A report by the Medical Educational Trust declared that 200,000 Iraqi men, women, and children were murdered as a direct consequence of the U.S.-led war on Iraq in 1991. The land was polluted with depleted uranium and water was contaminated with U.S. frigates dumping sought after oil thus slowly poisoning the people. The U.S. prevented Save the Children from sending a plane with medical supplies into northern Iraq where  40,000 people were left in desperation.  The few injured soldiers got media attention, but the charred and twisted bodies in the street did not! Former U.S. attorney general under Lyndon Johnson, Ramsey Clarke said this:

“An incinerated body of an Iraqi soldier on the “Highway of Death”, a name the press has given to the road from Mutlaa, Kuwait to Basra, Iraq. U.S. planes immobilized the convoy by disabling vehicles at its front and rear, then bombing and strafing the resulting traffic jam for hours. More than 2000 vehicles and tens of thousands of charred and dismembered bodies littered the 60 miles of highway. The clear rapid incineration of human beings – suggests the use of napalm, phosphorus, or other incendiary bombs. These are anti-personnel weapons outlawed under the 1977 Geneva Protocols. This massive attack occurred after Saddam Hussein announced a complete troop withdrawal from Kuwait in compliance with UN Resolution 660. Such a massacre of withdrawing Iraqi soldiers violates the Geneva Convention of 1949, common article3, which outlaws the killing of soldiers who “are out of combat”. There are, in addition, strong indications that many of those killed were Palestinian and Kuwaiti civilians trying to escape the impending siege of Kuwait City, and the return of Kuwaiti armed forces. No attempt was made by U.S. military command to distinguish between military personnel and civilians on the “highway of death”. The whole intent of international law with regard to war is to prevent just this sort of indiscriminate and excessive use of force”. 

By this time public opinion had been manipulated to believe in the U.S. story of what took place, not allowing for that within all there is some good as well as not so good.

In 2002, the U.K. and the U.S. intentionally blocked humanitarian aid including vaccines, plasma and painkillers paid for by Iraq with Security Council approval under the Food for Oil program which allowed the U.S. and its allies to oil in exchange for food whilst thousands of Iraqis starve to death. The organization GRAIN reported on legislation that did not apply to Iraq alone, but included Iraq whereby farmers would not be allowed to produce and save their own seeds for agricultural development – the follow-up to T.R.I.P.S.  The U.S. through CPA, made it illegal for Iraqi farmers to produce and keep their own seeds that were not within the globalization domain as of April 2003. Without a democratically elected government in place to protect the natural resources of the people, the U.S. was well placed to make such an economic offensive. This would not have been possible under Saddam Hussein, the tyrant leader that he was, as proven by the fact for years he was the main obstacle behind the U.S. getting the oil deal that they wanted, and which was not in the interest of Iraq, and the Iraqis.

Iraqi Scientists

It was an informed statement when journalist Ann Talbot said that Iraq has never known a dark age in terms of knowledge. Throughout Islamic history, despite the horrific invasions it has experienced, Iraq has continued to produce fine scholars in all fields. No less a field is science, a field that the U.S. has become notorious in Caribbean terms, “liberating from the land”. In fact stealing, kidnapping, incarcerating, and “convincing” scientists has been a past time since WWII, most notably the scientists of Germany shipped and gainfully employed in the establishment and development of U.S. weapons of destruction under the Manhattan Project.

Many Iraqi scientists have been interrogated and many have remained in custody. A law unto themselves, the U.S. passed a legislation in earlier 2003 making it legal to “entice” Iraqi scientists granting them permanent resident status under the “Iraqi Scientists Immigration Act of 2003”. The U.S. has been facing a shortage of scientists as revealed by a study published by the National Science Board that found an increase in the number of foreign born scientists to be crucial for the future needs in science, engineering, and technology. The scientists immigration act  is one way of siphoning off the much needed experts of a country, when a country is in need. Angered at the manner in which he was treated, physicist Faleh Hassan, former director of the Al-Razi military industrial site, refused to leave Iraq when the inspectors tried to emotionally compromise him by using his wife’s illness (kidney stones, diabetes, and high blood pressure) as a means to get him to the U.S. Hassan commented to Washington Times:

“We would rather live as beggars in our country than live as kings abroad”.

Under the 2nd Bush Administration, a $16mn plan was being worked at to keep Iraqi scientists out of their imaginary harm’s way. Fearing that the scientists will go to Iran, and unable to appropriate their expertise, the U.S. would rather that nobody else gets that scientific expertise under the “Science, Technology and Engineering Mentorship Initiative for Iraq”.

What has been covered here so far, is only a scratch on the surface, and even then it all seems a bit too “enterprising” but it happened, and it happened to a people who never asked for it. To see the eyes of an escapee ex-Iraqi police officer is sheer agony, as the horror of what he bore witness to and was forced to do, remain a psychological scar. Some Iraqis have fled the country and marry out of their kind in order to keep running. None of us, outside of Iraq can imagine the horror of daily life since the U.S. invasion, and because of that, none of us has the right to tell Iraq how to run their own country. What we can do is remember what man is capable of and raise our voices, and whatever else we have at our disposal to prevent it from happening again to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. We must learn to recognize what is common amongst us, and appreciate the differences, differences which helps in seeing our world, in more ways than one!

Iraq has been balkanized into three regions. When I first wrote about this in 2004, it was laughed at that the U.S. was using the telecommunications system in order to do so. Now it is a fact, along with control of the oil fields, only Iraqis,  can see their country whole again, not you or I!

Sources:

Agres, T. “U.S. Hopes to Lure Iraqi Scientists”. 03-26-03. http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20030326/02

“Ashville Global Report: Republican Friendly Bechtel Wins $680mn Iraqi Contract”. Agrnews.org. 04-23-03

Chaterjee, P. “Bechtel’s Friends in High Places”, Corporation Watch 04-29-03

Clarke, R et al. “War Crimes: A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal. Deoxy.org. 

CPA Official Documents http://www.cpa-iraq.org/regulations/index.html

Hedawi, H. “Iraqi Scientist Accuses U.N. of Luring Him”. 01-19-03 http://dynamic_washtimes.com/twt-print.cfm?ArticleID=200330119-9794496 

Hertsgaard, M. “The Real Price of Oil”. 10-15-01. MotherJones.com

Information Clearing House http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

“Israel Hopes to Become Oil Corridor to Asian Markets”. Al Bawaba.com. 10-10-03 

Kling, H. “Bolivia Describes Successful Struggle to Preserve Water”. Worldcommunications.org 4-09-03 

Leopold, J. “Company Chosen by Pentagon to Extinguish Iraqi Oil Well Fires Had History of Supporting  Terrorist Regimes”. Republicons.org. 04-17-03

Linzer, D. “AP Exclusive: Plan Would Pay Iraqi Scientists to Stay”. 11-18-03. http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20031117-092209-3840r   

Shultz, J. “International Water Ltd. Responds to Op-Ed By Democracy Center of Bolivia. Worldcommunications.org. 4-09-03. 

Sorensen, E. “Bechtel in Iraq” Weapons of Mass Destruction”.  Republicons.org. 4-21-03 

Pipelines Offshore: Maghreb to Europe Gas Pipeline”. Bechtel.co.uk 4-20-03

Phillips, K. “American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush”. Penguin Books, U.S. 2004 

Related Topics:

ANSWER Coalition Responds to President Obama’s Speech on Iraq

Bullying a Legacy from Our Leaders?

Showing Solidarity with Iran

Israelis Stoked the Riot in Silwan

New Intellectual Property Right Laws Increase Risk of Bad Medicine

Condemnation of FBI Raids on Homes of Peace Activists

Xenophobia on African Shores and Elsewhere

The House of Three Rooms

Our Africa: Europe’s Debt Pt.1

My Duty is to Save the World

A Food Revolution!

A Food Revolution!

By Hwaa Irfan

How many of us managed to escape the daily grind this summer? Not as many as it used to be one would think, given the insecurities presented by the global economic climate. What is it one escapes to? Is it just to be able to unwind and relax, and/or to smell the sea breeze, and/or to take in the beautiful scenery, and/or to do something active away from that sedentary job? 

Now, when one is obliged to do the shopping, do you find you have to be more careful because of the many food technologies today that present produce as if it is natural, and/or because the prices are getting extremely ridiculous?

What is the connection!

I watched one bearded city man on Ramadhan T.V., simply answer correctly a question from the Qur’an, and disbelief dawned on his face when he found that for that answer he had won a prize – that prize was money, and not a small amount either. When asked what he was going to do with it, as he spoke, one could see the burden that he was carrying disappear. He knew what he wanted there and then – without hesitation, he wanted to buy land – not land to profit from, but land to sustain them. He also said that the land would be put in his wife’s name she was standing beside him, carrying the same disposition, as if they had received a blessing! 

… a blessing indeed, and one that is not often recognized when country dwellers head for the city under the illusion that they will have a better life. And so it was an elderly man by Western standards, but physically strong and making a living selling wares in a local market just outside Cairo, Egypt. As I was enquiring about an item he had for sale, he grabbed my right hand, unbecoming for a man to grab a strange woman’s hand). However, my response was slow as I saw the pain in his eyes, and realized the reason for grabbing my right hand, and he spoke of the rings I was wearing, out of a value for a past he yearned for with all his heart. He hated the city, he hated the city life and the city people, he found himself trapped, but somehow he could not find his way back South. It was not the first time my right hand has had that impact on another, but it is a horrible feeling to feel trapped! 

Food for Thought

Many people are feeling trapped for various reasons, but increasingly for many the fear is of not being able to put food on the table. The once rotting vegetables I used to see street traders give to the poor on request, is now being sold for slightly less than the more extortionate vegetables in the street markets.  The conditioning of commercialization and standardization of the food market (a globalized food system) has led a number of people who used to keep roof gardens, aviaries, chickens etc, sheep etc, feel that their small provisions are for those on a low income bracket, and that income bracket means basically one is unable to live in the mainstream of life.

It is ironic, yet hopeful that now some New York city dwellers have been trying to be proactive with their fears, by creating city gardens. Well, there is not much space at street level for a garden so the gardens are on the roof tops. It is a definite way to contribute to one’s food chain, but also to lead a more proactive life that can remind one of the purposes of nature. Instead of taking out one’s angst on an innocent fellow human being like one’s relative, spouse, child or neighbor, one can turn one’s angst into a creative process, and cut out the middle man in the food supply chain. God must be laughing when we realize how much a solution is within our own hands. 

While in the U.K., the government is pressing for the English to re-establish the English garden, in the U.S., individuals are taking control, and enjoying it too! Whether it is the roof top, or the balcony, there is growing support for the farmers market, where small hold farmers and individuals can take their produce and sell it direct and fresh to the consumer, for a lot less! Does this not make better sense instead of handing over our stomachs to a few who are growing fatter and richer (i.e. the food industry) off of our unrealized sense of powerlessness! Not only that, but it promises to be a family activity that can bond the family, when all else seems to be undermining the family.

I do not have a garden now, but I did, and a local farmer used to provide a home delivery service for his organically grown products, and I can say without any hesitation that, that lifestyle gave me more control than the current city life, whereby one’s material needs are not within one’s control. 

Unfortunately in the U.S. as a result of reclaiming control of one’s food, food policy councils are cropping up all over the country in an attempt to develop a food policy with farmers, and gardeners. The aim is to figure out how to “re-localize the food system, but isn’t that happening anyway! The inspectors who are not doing their job very well at the moment could be directed to visit gardeners of food to ensure that  certain health and animal rights standards are being met, but not much more than that is really required!

Our creativity during a crisis cannot be matched. It is for governments to grow up and realize that we were not born to be their slaves, especially in a country where the standardized food production is void of the health of the nation!

 {O, you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with, and give thanks to Allah if Him it is that you serve.} (Al Baqarah 2: 172)

Toolbox:

Sources:

Trueman, K. “Fresh off the Urban Farm”.

http://local.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=25750327&page=0

 Related Topics:

Prosperity and Abundance Now!

All Things Are Linked!

Eating Away at Our Earth

The World Food Prize

Reawakening Afghan Gardens With a Purpose

Reclaiming Nature’s Knowledge Base

Increasing Food Insecurity for Short Term Gain

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect! 

United Against Hunger – Standing Up For Justice

What They Didn’t Tell Us About Soya Beans

Your Vitamins and Minerals

Eating Away at Our Earth

Eating Away at Our Earth

WWF as one of the largest environmental organizations has been working hard since 1961 reflecting the interdependence of all creation. In their comprehensive 2010 Living Planet Report they have outlined our eating habits and it is unbalancing the earth that sustains us, yet there are peoples in parts of the world who are dying of hunger.

 In the image above it states:

Over a given period of time our planet produced a finite amount of resources. Trees, food, oxygen and everything else are created at a balanced natural rate. If we consume more than what is produced we start to damage the earth’s ability to renew itself. Because one of the main ways we use the planet’s resources is through our diets we’ve examined what effect diets from around the world are having on the planet by showing what would happen if everyone on earth ate the same food. As you can see if everyone ate like Americans we would be using nearly four planet’s worth of resources by 2050 – WWF.

WWF informs us:

  • Globally the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (
  • On average, 40% of global grain production is used in livestock feed, although in richer countries the proportion of grain used for animal feed is around 70% (
  • Water used for livestock production is projected to increase 50% by 2025. It currently accounts for 15% of all irrigated water (
  • Producing 1kg of beef requires 15 times as much land as producing 1kg of cereals, and 70 times as much land as 1kg of vegetables.
  • Worldwide, 2 billion people live on an animal-based diet and 4 billion on a plant-based diet. During the second half of the 20th century, global population doubled and meat production quadrupled. )

WWF Tips for a Sustainable Diet

  Cut down on meat and dairy products

As we become richer, our diets tend to change. We consume more calories, and particularly more animal protein – like meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese.

Livestock have a bigger environmental impact than vegetable crops.

On top of this, the Living Planet Report shows there simply isn’t enough land available on Earth for everyone to eat like the average European in 2050.

The limits of our planet mean that society is going to have to decide how much land to allocate to livestock. But you can already reduce your Footprint by reducing the amount of animal protein you eat.

How?

It can be very simple to adapt a heavy meat/dairy recipe by replacing some of the meat/dairy ingredients with vegetables, cereals or beans. It’s not that hard, for example, to make your chicken curry a chicken and vegetable curry. 

Make the most of the meat you buy – use your leftover roast chicken for cold-cuts and pies and then use the carcass to make stock and soup. 

There are many cultures around the world that produce delicious meatless and dairy-free dishes. From South Indian and Thai curries to British soups and a whole cornucopia of Italian pasta dishes.  

Look for terms like “free-range” or “extensively-reared” and grass or pasture-fed (as opposed to soy fed) meat. 

Also look for meat produced in our upland areas (areas unsuitable for farming other crops, which makes it an efficient use of land). 

Choose locally produced dairy products, use your local milkman and try using some sheep/goat’s products for a change 

It’s a good use of food resources (and often cheaper for you) to buy less common cuts of meat and offal for your cooking 

Buy sustainably produced food

Sustainable production methods have been developed for a variety of crops and other commodities, often linked to labelling schemes that you can look for when you’re out shopping. Examples include: 

Organic food

 

Because organic farming does not use toxic pesticides that often end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, choosing organic products can benefit the environment – and your health too.

 Sustainable seafood

Be sure the fish and shellfish you buy comes from a well-managed fishery by looking for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label and follow the advice in WWF’s seafood guides.

 Sustainable palm oil

Palm oil is present in many processed foods, including margarine, frozen dinners and ice cream – but expanding plantations are threatening tropical forests and species like orangutans.

Be sure to choose products from companies that are sourcing certified sustainable palm oil – and if your favourite brand doesn’t use sustainable palm oil, avoid it and ask the company why not! 

Buy food that is in season

Fruit and vegetables produced during their natural season have a much lower Footprint than the same produce grown out of season, such as tomatoes and strawberries produced in winter in hothouses. 

Buy local food

How far does the food you buy travel before it reaches your table?

Wherever possible, buy local, seasonal produce that hasn’t crossed the globe to get to you.

But if you really want summer fruit and vegetables in winter, it may be better to buy items produced in a warmer climate, or even on the other side of the world where that fruit is in season, than items grown in hothouses or kept for months in cold storage in your own country.

And if you are choosing produce from far away, try to make sure it was shipped, and not flown, to your country.

 Only buy what you will eat

 We waste a lot of food.

It rots in the fridge or is thrown away at the end of a meal.

In the US, 14% of food purchased at the grocery store is thrown away. This is an incredible waste of resources – not just to produce the food but also to ship, process and store it, all for nothing.

 Watch what you drink too!

If you know your tap water is safe to drink. Transporting water from its source to the supermarket is an expensive waste of energy.

And, the plastic and glass water bottles add to the mountains of rubbish that we produce. Find out from your municipality about your tap water. If you do buy bottled water, buy from a local source (read the labels) and then recycle the glass or plastic bottles.

Find our more from : WWF

Related Topics:

Do You Like Pineapples?

United Against Hunger – Standing Up For Justice

There’s Nothing Superior to Mother’s Milk

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect! 

Reclaiming Nature’s Knowledge Base

End to Nature’s Greatest Migration on Earth

Reawakening Afghan Gardens With a Purpose

The World Food Prize

Prince Charles on Islam and the Environment

Letter to the Self # 10: Let’s Partey!

Letter to the Self # 10: Let’s Partey!

Ramadhan Day 9

Dear Self,

This month we’ve talked about priorities a couple times. It seems though as I look around, I see so many people turning a month that is designed to develop our Closeness with our Creator, into a “party scene”.

Elaborate iftars, with a multitude of dishes, hours and hours in preparation, spending time getting dressed, idle talk about things that have little benefit to our souls are often the important aspect of these gatherings.

Worse, people sit and stuff themselves, such that they either do not leave to pray tarawi’h [night] prayer, to even pray fard (compulsory). There is no dhikr (remembrance of Him), no reminders in the conversations and the heavy meals and idle talk makes prayer difficult. What in all of this type of behaviour will help you to become closer to your Creator, Self?

We say that we’ve progressed, we’ve amassed money, property and have status in the eyes of people but have you forgotten where all this came from? Are you becoming so forgetful or arrogant that you can’t re-design your time, activities and efforts in a way to show gratitude for all that you’ve been blessed with? Or is your time for God, only when you are in need?

Do not be ungrateful Self!

Today, I have one reminder, one which I hope will stay with you through Ramadhan and after. The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Prayer in congregation (mosque) is more than 25 times greater in merit than prayer at home or in the shop etc.” Therefore, when a person makes their ablutions carefully and proceeds to the mosque with the sole purpose of joining in the prayer, their status rises in grade at every step, and one of their sins in wiped out. From the moment, they enter the mosque, they are accounted as a participant in the prayer while waiting for the prayer to begin and so long as they cause no inconvenience to anyone and is in a state of purity, the angels continue to pray for their salvation and they say, “O God, have mercy on them; God, forgive them; God, be compassionate to them”.

Would it not be wonderful to have the angels themselves pray for you and your friends?

Self, please remember, the days in this month are sacred and blessed. Do not waste them. Encourage your friends and family with kindness to not waste each valuable moment. We do not know if we will live to see tomorrow, so let us live purposefully today! Remember that at the next iftar (break fast) you go to. Who knows which step towards the mosque will be the step that tips our scales to the right and in the favour of our Lord?

Love,

Me

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self # 9: Looking Good!
Letter to the Self # 8: Worship
Letter to the Self # 7: The Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Shaban: Letters to the Self

Watch What You Eat
Meat By Any Means

Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude

Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude

Ramadan Day 4

Dear Self,

I decided to read some seerah today. It’s amazing really to see how one man, illiterate and poor was able to transform the world. What was remarkable to me were the choices he made.

There were times when he was so hungry, the fire was not lit in his house for weeks that he and others tied rocks to their stomach to ease the pain they felt but he never, ever complained. Instead, he always seemed to be thankful; ever present on his face was a smile and the light of certitude that God was always with him and those around him.

One day when Omar (ra) walked in and saw that he had awoken from sleeping on the earthen floor on date palm leaves that had marked his skin, he began to cry. The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him what was wrong and he said that he was thinking about the kings of other empires and here it was- he was a Messenger of God who lived in these conditions. He, peace be upon him, said to him, isn’t it enough that they have God and what He promised them for the sacrifices that they made?

Self, The Prophet peace be upon him, never complained. He had an attitude of gratitude. In short, he chose contentment by working hard and trusting in God’s Divine Plan. Sometimes you want something so much that you become ungrateful and impatient. You forget and allow doubt and worry to fill your being such that you remove the light that exists from His Mercy.

Instead, why not try working hard for what you want and then trusting in His Will. That is all we can do. Even more important, is that once you do your best, remember that whatever happens is from the great Divine Plan and so instead of being frustrated, accept it. It is a path of the course that you must walk to become who you are destined to be.

When it comes down to it, remember, “HasbiAllahu wa ni’amaal wakeel”– God is sufficient for us in all circumstances and in Him we place our trust. Keep this du’aa in your heart regularly, so you don’t forget to remember: choose happiness and acceptance, once you’ve done your part. Patience, Contentment, Gratitude and Trust in Allah are keys to Paradise.

Much Love,

Me

Diary Series
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Shaban: Letters to the Self
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!