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World Bank report on land grabbing: beyond the smoke and mirrors

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Live Link: New from GRAIN | 16 September 2010  READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Last week, the World Bank finally published its much anticipated report on the global farmland grab. After years of work, several months of political negotiation and who knows how much money spent, the study was casually released on the Bank’s website — in English only. More

When Society Thinks Torture is Funny – Have We Crossed the Line?

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Lynn Swearingen (c) copyright 2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

According to Amnesty International USA :

Since June 2001, more than 351 individuals in the United States have died after being shocked by police Tasers. Most of those individuals were not carrying a weapon. Amnesty International is concerned that Tasers are being used as tools of routine force — rather than as an alternative to firearms.

Before I hear another word about how “criminals” should know better – let us look at a two cases which thankfully did not end in death.

Even Blind Old Ladies Terrify The Cops (2004)

Eunice Crowder, you see, didn’t follow orders. Eunice was uncooperative. Worried a city employee was hauling away a family heirloom, a 90-year-old red toy wagon, she had the nerve to feel her way toward the trailer in which her yard debris was being tossed.

Enter the police. Eunice, who is hard of hearing, ignored the calls of Officers Robert Miller and Eric Zajac to leave the trailer. When she tried, unsuccessfully, to bite the hands that were laid on her, she was knocked to the ground.

When she kicked out at the cops, she was pepper-sprayed in the face with such force that her prosthetic marble eye was dislodged. As she lay on her stomach, she was Tased four times with Zajac’s electric stun gun.

And when Nellie Scott, Eunice’s 94-year-old mother, tried to rinse out her daughter’s eye with water from a two-quart Tupperware bowl, what does Miller do? According to Ernie Warren Jr., Eunice’s lawyer, the cop pushed Nellie up against a fence and accused her of planning to use the water as a weapon.

Lesson learned?  Let the Government take away your possessions – or be punished.

Tased in His Own House: California Man Sues Police (2009)

McFarland told ABC’s San Francisco affiliate KGO that he called 911 after slipping and falling on the steps at his house. In the video, his pants are torn. More

S 510 : Testor Amendment Means Nothing

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Lynn Swearingen (c) copyright 2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Testor Amendment.  – It’ll free my direct sales to consumers. Or so the “opposition” to S. 510 seems to be saying now.

Once I started reading this,  “shock kept me up all night” would be an understatement.

Attempting to understand the logic behind the argument that somehow Legislators and AgriBusiness lobbyists are now “backing down” from the onerous control methods that have been written, fought for, and negotiated since the introduction of S. 510 in March of 2009 – I became even more confused.

Why suddenly would Sally Sunshine be allowed to sell her Strawberries to Safeway with no “involvement” under S 510?

The answer in short is she won’t. The “Grocery Store” will be required to keep records of Sally Sunshine. And in the event of “reasonable belief” or  “reasonable possibility” – Sally Sunshine is going down first.

The language is included here below (partial pages 122 and 123):

(G) GROCERY    STORES.—With    respect to a
17 sale of a food described in subparagraph (H) to
18 a grocery store, the Secretary shall not require
19 such grocery store to maintain records under
20 this subsection other than records documenting
21 the farm that was the source of such food.
The
22 Secretary shall not require that such records be
23 kept for more than 180 days.
24      (H) FARM     SALES TO CONSUMERS.—The
25 Secretary shall not require a farm to maintain
1       any distribution records under this subsection
2       with respect to a sale of a food described in
3       subparagraph (I) (including a sale of a food
4       that is produced and packaged on such farm),
5       if such sale is made by the farm directly to a
6       consumer. More

RUSSIAN SCHOLAR WARNS OF ‘SECRET’ U.S. CLIMATE CHANGE WEAPON

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 By Ashley Cleek
Live link: Radio Free Europe
July 30, 2010

_________________

“HAARP (High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program), which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection.

Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction “in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries.”

_____________________

As Muscovites suffer record high temperatures this summer, a Russian
political scientist has claimed the United States may be using
climate-change weapons to alter the temperatures and crop yields of Russia
and other Central Asian countries.

In a recent article, Andrei Areshev, deputy director of the Strategic
Culture Foundation, wrote, “At the moment, climate weapons may be reaching their target capacity and may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries.” More

GM in the public eye in Asia

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  Live Link:   GRAIN

Monsanto’s plans to push genetically modified (GM) food crops in Asia ran into a wall on February 9, 2010 when India’s Environment Minister put a moratorium on the introduction of a variety of GM brinjal (eggplant) containing Monsanto’s patented Bt gene. China too has been hesitant to approve GM food crops, notably GM rice. It appears that these Asian governments, both outspoken proponents of GM agriculture, are not only feeling the heat from their people’s strong resistance to GM food crops but are also being forced to think twice about turning their seed supplies over to Monsanto and the other foreign transnational corporations (TNCs) that control the global GM seed market. What they seem to be saying is, “Yes, we want GM seeds, but we want our public institutions to be involved in their development to safeguard the national interest.” It’s a pretty hollow argument, given how “public” research is in bed with corporate interests these days and how removed GM agriculture is from the needs of Asia’s farmers. For Asia’s small farmers is there really any difference between a national GM crop and a transnational one?

A fuzzy line between public and private in China

In his report imposing a moratorium on Bt brinjal, the Indian Environment Minister referred, amongst other things, specifically to India’s lack of a “large-scale publicly funded biotechnology effort in agriculture” that can serve as a countervailing power to Monsanto, and pointed to China’s publicly funded programme in GM, which he says is far ahead of India’s. 1 The moratorium is thus in part intended to give India time to catch up with the TNCs and its neighbour, and the long-term path still points to GMOs. This was not what the local protests against Bt brinjal across India were about. They were against GM crops per se, not simply Monsanto’s version. For the protesters, a strong national biotech programme is not going to shield Indian farmers from corporate profiteering and the other pitfalls of GMOs, as China’s example shows. More

GRAIN: Land grabs threaten Anuak

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Live link: GRAIN interviews Nyikaw Ochalla

Ethiopia is one of the main targets in the current global farmland grab. The government has stated publicly that it wants to sell off three million hectares of farmland in the country to foreign investors, and around one million hectares have already been signed away. Much of the land that these investors have acquired is in the province of Gambella, a fertile area that is home to the Anuak nation. The Anuak are indigenous people who have always lived in Gambella and who practise farming, pastoralism, hunting and gathering. Nyikaw Ochalla, an Anuak living in exile in the United Kingdom, is trying to understand what this new wave of land deals will mean for the Anuak and other local communities in Ethiopia.

How will these large-scale projects affect the agriculture of the Anuak?

The Anuak are a distinct people who have always had close ties to their environment. As an indigenous population, they have been marginalised by the government for many years. They sustain themselves mainly through farming, hunting and fishing, while some Anuak are also pastoralists.

The attraction of Gambella for foreign investors is its fertile lands. But the area is fertile because the local people have nurtured and maintained its ecological systems through their agricultural practices. They may not have had access to modern education but they have a traditional means of cultivation, which includes rotation. When the rainy season comes, they move to the drier areas and when the dry season comes they go along to the river banks, making sure that they manage their environment effectively. So all of the lands in the region are used. Each community looks after its own territory, and the rivers and farmlands within it. It is a myth propagated by the government and investors to say that there is waste land or land that is not utilised in Gambella. More

The World Bank in the hot seat

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New from GRAIN | 4 May 2010

 

GRAIN
May 2010

The World Bank is marching ahead with plans to facilitate global land grabs, while refusing to release a report that confirms the negative impacts of these deals for local communities. At its annual land conference last week, where the report was supposed to be launched, the Bank tried to redirect the land grab discussion towards “win-win” solutions. But its strategy failed, given the Bank’s staunch corporate bias and the growing public rejection of its “principles” for socially responsible land grabbing.

Read this new issue of Against the grain in English here:
http://www.grain.org/articles/?id=64. The Spanish and French versions will be online shortly.

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