Archive for ‘Africa’

April 27, 2011

Signalfire

Mozambique: Kenmare forced to stop production at Moma

The expansion programme to increase production capacity at the Moma mine by 50 percent is well underway and scheduled for commissioning and ramp-up in 2012
Production at Kenmare Resources’ Moma mine in Mozambique has been temporarily suspended due to an unofficial strike by workers. The industrial action commenced this morning after annual wage negotiations broke down. The Irish mining company said talks were progressing when an unofficial strike was called by a group of employees.[…] Source: http://businessandleadership.com/business/item/29744-kenmare-forced-to-stop/

Vietnamese workers end strike after Taiwan company hikes wages

Hanoi – About 1,300 employees at a Taiwan-owned footwear factory in northern Vietnam returned to work Wednesday after the company agreed to increase their monthly salary.

Workers at Stateway Vietnam Footwear in Hai Phong city went on strike Tuesday demanding an additional 18 dollars a month to 88 dollars, an official of the company’s personnel department said.

Under Vietnamese law, strikes must be approved by local authorities and the government-affiliated national trade union. In practice, virtually all strikes take place without such approval.[…] source: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/business/news/article_1635378.php/Vietnamese-workers-end-strike-after-Taiwan-company-hikes-wages

India: Tea workers strike hit local farmers

 ILAM, April 27: Local farmers have suffered loss worth more than Rs 200 million due to the strike launched by tea workers. Farmers have not been able to sell green leaves to tea producers ever since the workers launched strike 10 days ago, demanding pay hike.

Agitating workers have brought harvesting and processing of tea in key districts — Ilam, Dhankuta and Terhathum – to a grinding halt.[…] Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=30678

Uganda: Iganga Steel Workers Lay Down Tools

Iganga — Police in Iganga District deployed heavily yesterday at Tembo Steels Uganda Limited following a sit-down strike by workers protesting low pay and poor working conditions. The strike started at about 8am when the workers camped at the factory located at Kasolo village, about 2 kilometres from Iganga town.

Police led by Iganga DPC David Manzi stormed the place to ensure that the strike did not turn violent.

The workers complained that they receive little pay in addition to being mistreated by their bosses. “They give us only Shs1,200 every day for breakfast and lunch. Then at the end of every month (some) workers, especially the porters, are given as little as Shs40,000 per month, which is too little given the high cost of living,” one of the protestors who talked on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised for revealing information told, Daily Monitor, as her colleagues backed her. They said they are not provided safety gear and the few who have, bought them.[…] Source:

Hundreds Of Iranian Workers Protest For Back Wages

TEHRAN – Workers at the Alborz tire factory near Tehran have rallied in front of Iran’s presidential office to demand nine months’ of unpaid wages and the reopening of the plant, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.

An employee told Radio Farda that about 800 workers participated in the protest on April 24. He said the workers were told after the Iranian New Year in March that the factory would be closed until it had enough money to reopen.

Since the Alborz tire factory was privatized in the 1990s, its 1,300 workers have been paid irregularly.

Meanwhile, a number of workers at the Esfahan Steel Company gathered in front of the parliament building in Tehran on April 24 to protest the nonpayment of their back wages, ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) reported.

Also on April 24, some 100 workers and their families gathered outside the Fars Organization of Industries and Mines in Shiraz seeking payment of their wages for the past six months, a worker told Radio Farda.[…] Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/hundreds_of_iranian_workers_protest_for_back_wages/16794818.html

India: Goa village protest iron ore pollution

Goa – Villagers of Cavrem, Quepem, protesting the damage to crops and homes from mining pollution paralyzed the transportation of iron ore through the village on Saturday.

Quepem police inspector Mr S Narvekar said 94 villagers including 36 women were arrested for obstructing the passage of the trucks. They were released later.

The transportation of ore through the village has been virtually suspended over the last few days with the villagers’ agitation.

Cavrem has become the symbol of the unequal fight between the politically backed powerful mining lobby in Goa and a village determined to make its voice heard.

In March, the state government was compelled to shutdown an illegal mine being operated in the area by a well connected ore exporter. The mine was shutdown only after the villagers took a morcha to chief minister Mr Digambar Kamat’s residence in Margao. Source: http://www.steelguru.com/raw_material_news/Goa_village_protest_iron_ore_pollution/202393.html

South Africa: All calm on the Zandspruit front

Johannesburg – Police were monitoring the Zandspruit informal settlement, northwest of Johannesburg, on Freedom Day following violent service delivery protests, Gauteng police said.

“Everything is quiet for now and we are confident it will stay like this until Sunday,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou.

Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had promised to meet with residents on Sunday and discuss their concerns.

The disgruntled community was protesting against the lack of housing and sanitation in the Honeydew settlement.

Police were on Wednesday monitoring the area after violence erupted. On Tuesday, 16 people were arrested for public violence after they had burnt tyres and blockaded roads.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.[…] Source: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/all-calm-on-the-zandspruit-front-1.1061544

India: Two persons killed, 12 injured in firing in Dhanbad

At least two persons were killed and more than 12 others injured when police resorted to firing to control a mob protesting the anti-encroachment drive at a Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) colony located in Kusunda and Matkuria, about 8 kms from Dhanbad, today.

Agitators also set fire to about 16 vehicles, out of which 11 belonged to the BCCL authorities.

State police headquarters said people of the area started pelting stones at the team which went for the eviction of local people allegedly occupying BCCL quarters.

Police resorted to firing to control them, leading to death of two persons in the area. The situation in the district was tense but under control.

On April 5 police resorted to firing in the state capital in a similar incident in which one person died on the spot while another succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Source: http://netindian.in/news/2011/04/27/00012827/two-persons-killed-12-injured-firing-dhanbad

Young Mauritanians stage sit-in demanding the release of 20 arrested during protests this week

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Dozens of young Mauritanians are holding a sit-in outside the police directorate’s office to demand the release of 20 protesters arrested the previous day.

Youth on Tuesday chanted “freedom for our friends” before dispersing peacefully.

Mauritanian police arrested 20 people on Monday after hundreds demonstrated in the capital against the regime of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Police said the demonstrations were unauthorized and used tear gas and batons to disperse people.

Demonstrations have been ongoing since Feb. 25, when dozens of students used Facebook to organize another sit-in demanding political reforms and the president’s departure.

In January, a businessman died after setting himself ablaze in a protest against the government. Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5j8iJwIrKvyJQWTozfC_HwRUEQUhw?docId=6668468

Oman: Power firm staff regroups for protest

Muscat Daily reported that in probably what is the first legal strike since the wave of protests began in February, employees from the eight subsidiary companies of Electricity Holding Company regrouped again to protest against the management outside the company’s head office in Qurm on Saturday.

The group had given 21 day ultimatum to the management to respond, as is required by law after they called off their three day strike on March 28. We are frustrated with the management as it is only during the last few days that they held a couple of meetings to show that they were working towards meeting our demands.

Mr Mohannad al Hindi head of operations and maintenance at Muscat Electricity Distribution Company said that but what came out of those meetings are only promises and no action. The protesters said that no representative from among them was included in the meetings. We gave a list of eight most important points to be discussed, but only half of them were brought up for discussion. Moreover, there has been no positive outcome from these discussions. Of their list of demands, Hindi added that at the very least, they wanted a change in top management and increased allowances immediately.

He said that the other demands to be discussed are a proper promotion policy, an increase in the employee loan limit from the current amount equal to two months salary, academic and professional training for staff and the setting up of a training center. The formation of an Omani employee committee is also on the anvil. But we are not happy with it as it consists of the top management only. We want representation from among us.[…]Source: http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/Power_firm_staff_regroups_for_protest/202122.html

India: 150 agitating workers of General Motors detained

VADODARA: Around 150 agitating workers of General Motors India (GMI) were detained by the police here on Monday after they tried to stage a protest at the residence of a senior GMI official.

The agitating workers, who since March 16 are on strike at the Halol plant of GMI, were trying to stage a protest outside the residence of GMI`s human resources (HR) director Rakesh Mehta at Shrushti Bungalows on Vasna Road on Monday. Some of them had even planned to undress themselves as a mark of protest and to press upon their demands.[…] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/150-agitating-workers-of-General-Motors-detained/articleshow/8084480.cms

And lots more…

April 13, 2011

Blood in the mobile

The Danish Documentary Blood in the Mobile shows the connection between mobile phones and the civil war in Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones.

Via Hope/Glory.

March 28, 2011

Real imperialism – the new power cartography remaps Africa

Modernity writes:

Stealing land is not new, but this particular fashion of buying up chunks of African land can only be called imperialism, the Guardian reports:

“Gambella has offered investors 1.1 million hectares, nearly a quarter of its best farmland, and 896 companies have come to the region in the last three years. They range from Saudi billionaire Al Amoudi, who is constructing a 20-mile canal to irrigate 10,000 hectares to grow rice, to Ethiopian businessmen who have plots of less than 200 hectares.

This month the concessions are being worked at a breakneck pace, with giant tractors and heavy machinery clearing trees, draining swamps and ploughing the land in time to catch the next growing season.

Forests across hundreds of square km are being clear-felled and burned to the dismay of locals and environmentalists concerned about the fate of the region’s rich wildlife.

Local government officers have denied claims that people are being forcibly moved to make way for foreign companies.[…]

Ashwin Parulkar writes:

Al Amoudi is not alone in seeing the vast Ethiopian plains as cheap, fertile property ripe for investment. During the past six years, as global food and oil price increases made it more expensive to import food, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states began investing in earnest in Ethiopia and Sudan—in excess of $75 billion from 2005 to 2009, according to the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development. The largest land investor among the Gulf States, the United Arab Emirates, now controls over 1,100 square miles of farmland in Sudan.

India has also emerged as a major player in African agriculture. Last year, Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture, Tefera Deribew, visited India to announce his government’s intention to offer 4.4 million acres of farmland to Indian agro-enterprises. According to the government of India, the country’s private sector has already invested more than $4 billion in farmland located in other countries. The first to do so in Ethiopia was Karuturi Global, an Indian-based agri-business known primarily for producing cut roses. In 2010, it acquired a lease for 740,000 acres in Gambella to farm wheat, maize, and rice. Groups of Punjabi farmers are currently negotiating a deal with the Ethiopian government to lease 250,000 acres at astonishingly low rates—$3.60 per acre per year, for 25 to 40 years, with the first five years rent-free.

These deals are part of a land grab taking place all across Africa, a transfer of control unprecedented in the post-colonial era. According to a World Bank report released in January, 48 percent of all land deals struck worldwide between October 2008 and August 2009 involved land in sub-Saharan African countries.

The pace of acquisitions has been stunning. September, a World Bank report revealed that in 2009, some 111 million acres of farmland was acquired globally by foreign investors—nearly 75 percent of it in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to 2008, foreign investors only acquired an average of 10 million acres per year.

India’s minister of commerce has said:

“While the current volume of India-Africa trade stands at $45 billion, we have set a target of $70 billion for 2015. I am confident we will achieve that,” he added.

Modernity continues:

The Torygraph reported on this phenomena in 2009:

“Indian farming companies have bought hundreds of thousands of hectares in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique, where they are growing rice, sugar cane, maize and lentils for their own domestic market back in India.

Its government has given soft loans as aid to support the overseas ventures in what has been described as a challenge to China and Saudi Arabia in the new scramble for Africa. China, South Korea, and a several Arab countries have led the way in creating new African mega-farms to outsource domestic food production and use cheaper labour.

Critics have described the development as modern “piracy” and “land grabbing” from countries that have in the past been blighted by famine and severe food shortages.

South Korea has bought just under 700,000 hectares in Sudan, while Saudi Arabia has signed a deal for 500,000 hectares in Tanzania.”

Among the drivers for the new scramble for Africa are food commodity price rises and the related economics of monoculture agribusiness around foods like palm oil, which is an increasingly ubiquitous ingredient in the world’s diet, despite the ecological devastation it causes. Here’s The Ecologist reporting on one example:

Indonesia’s move to bring in a two-year moratorium on new palm oil plantations to protect its remaining rainforests has seen agribusiness giants like Sime Darby switch expansion plans to Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia

The sudden upsurge in land deals by palm oil companies in Africa could lead to large-scale deforestation and loss of farmland by local communities, NGOs and environmental groups in Africa have told the Ecologist.

The world’s largest palm oil producer Indonesia is due to implement a two-year ban on granting new concessions of land to plantation companies in forest areas. There are also restrictions on the availability of land in Malaysia. This has led companies like Sime Darby, which has more than half a million hectares of palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia, to look elsewhere.

Sime Darby – reported to be the largest palm oil producer in the world – has leased 220,000 hectares of land in Liberia and is considering buying a further 300,000 hectares for palm oil plantations in Cameroon. Despite the Indonesian ban, it still wants to acquire 1 million hectares of plantation land worldwide by 2015. Other rival palm oil giants like Sinar Mar, Olam International and Wilmar International are also tying up land deals in Liberia, Gabon and Ghana.

Another driver is the massive growing biofuel market. Here’s an example from Kenya:

An Italian company has asked the authorities for permission to lease 50,000 hectares there to grow jatropha, whose seeds are rich in oil that can be turned into bio-diesel.

This plant, originally from South America, has long been grown in Africa as a hedge to keep out animals – goats stay well away as it is poisonous. The area affected is community land which is being held in trust by the local council.

Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd is 100%-owned by the Milan-based Nuove Iniziative Industriali SRL. It has leased almost a million hectares in Africa; jatropha oil from a plantation in Senegal is being supplied to the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea. Other companies have leased land for the same purpose in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ghana, as well as in India.

February 17, 2011

News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

read more »

December 4, 2010

Blood for oil

Human rights groups have been critical of Chin...

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Christopher Hitchens, in a recent interview, said the following: “Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea, anywhere that the concept of human rights doesn’t exist, it’s always the Chinese at backstop. And always for reasons that you could write down in three words: blood for oil.”

In today’s world, the neo-conservatives talk the talk of human rights and democracy, but fail to take on the big offenders, while liberals have a selective standard that highlights Israel but ignores Zimbabwe. Britain’s new rulers actively appease Chinese totalitarianism; Obama vacillates and tries to please everyone; human rights organisations are compromised by their support for Jihadi terrorists; and the Wikileaks revelations show the extent to which American interests are entangled with those of the Gulf oil robber-barons.

In this post, I am highlighting just a few of the human rights issues from around the world, that seem to fall beneath the radar of the liberal conscience.

One of the most neglected of conflicts is the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, 35 years old and displacing a whole people into refugee camps in the desert. Unlike Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, there are no proposals for boycott, divestment or sanctions against the Moroccan state, which unlike the Israeli state is an absolute monarchy. This post examines liberal complacency about this outrage.

This post focuses on a more well-known conflict situation, Darfur in Sudan, but focuses on a neglected aspect of it: China’s role in fuelling the conflict. The blogger links to a Reuters article which shows China’s obstruction of the UN’s attempts to dis-arm the conflict, obstruction motivated by the fact that China is breaching the arms embargo, arming the massacres. The blogger rightly comments:

The craven nature of Western powers complying with, or not wishing to offend their most beloved trading partners, China is shameful, but not unexpected. As with David Cameron’s trip, Western leaders will occasionally raise, very carefully, a few questions about human rights in China. But it is all for the benefit of the media and “face”.

Western leaders won’t let the inconvenient issue of human rights get in the way of doing lucrative contracts with China. Business comes first in the West, that’s how they see it, and it is the Darfurians and Tibetans that lose out as a result.

The post also links to Eric Reeves, who highlights the failure of the Obama administration to make a difference.

The human rights situation in Burma is also much on the public mind in the West, with the recent release of Aung San Suu Ki, but again not the role of big business in general and Chinese capitalism ion particular in sustaining it. Modernity reports (via the Sydney Morning Herald) that:

According to Mizzima (a dissident Burmese newsagency based in India), from 1988 to early 2009, Burma attracted foreign investments worth $US15 billion. According to Irrawady, another dissident newsagency, it sharply fell in 2009-10 to $US315 million. But in 2010-11, the Burmese junta expects foreign investors will commit to projects worth about $US16 billion (mostly in oil and gas, and electricity generation). China and Thailand continue to be the biggest investors followed by the UK (about $US2 billion) and Singapore.

More than 30 companies from Australia, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are now engaged in oil and gas exploration and production. Mining, manufacturing and tourism are also attracting investment. The number of tourists visiting Burma is also on the rise. In past five years, Burma’s economy grew an average by about 6.5 to 7 per cent.

Burma has China to thank for providing a model of economic development. China’s massive economic growth has been a potent force counteracting the dissemination of such democratic values as rule of law, freedom of speech and independent judiciary.

To repeat Hitchens’ point: blood for oil.

China is also involved good old-fashioned military aggression from Burmese soil, the kind of gunboat geopolitics that used to be called imperialism, but for some reason that term these days seems only to be used for the actions of the fading Western powers.

Burma has allowed China to build naval and electronic reconnaissance facilities on its Great Coco Island (18 kilometres from India’s major naval and satellite launching facilities in Nicobar Islands). Burma’s ports offer China’s emerging blue water navy a multi-directional access to both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.

Blood for oil, too, although rather less dramatically, in Ghana.

The discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities at the West Cape Three Points in the Western Region of Ghana in 2007 has triggered the high cost of liv ing in Sekondi-Takoradi and its immediate environs in recent times.

Since the oil-find 3 years ago, the cost of living in Sekondi-Tako radi and surrounding communi ties has been on the ascendancy. The discovery of oil has brought in its wake an upward review of prices of all items, goods and services being pro vided in the city.

read more »

July 2, 2010

Chart of the week: dollarisation in Zimbabwe

Explanation:

Dollarization

One type of monetary secession results from the fact that there are large differences in the quality of money issued by governments around the world. While many Americans justly complain about the Fed causing inflation in the U.S., the U.S. dollar is a far better product than many foreign alternatives. The Zimbabwean dollar under the control of Mugabe, for example, became a rather poor product indeed. By printing huge amounts of money, the Zimbabwean government removed the scarcity of its currency and made it a next to useless medium of exchange. At one stage, prices were doubling roughly every 24 hours and therefore signalled very little.  The graph below shows the path – in logarithmic scale! – of the Zimbabwean dollar’s exchange rate against the U.S. dollar.

[READ THE REST.]

June 20, 2010

The last superpower

In Europe, the economy continues to implode. In the UK, analysis by the FT shows, unsurprisingly, that it is the lowest paid who, as ever, will bear the brunt of the economic downturn – while companies like Ernst and Young, which aided and abetted Lehman Brothers in its misdemeanours, go on and on.

Although the big business lobby likes to blame public sector profligacy for the so-called PIGS crisis (and therefore prescribe public sector austerity as the cure), the private sector bears the main responsibility – most clearly in Spain, where the national debt stock stands at about 53 per cent of GDP – among the lowest in the eurozone – while private sector debt stands at a staggering 178 per cent.

Meanwhile, in the USA, as the oil spreads through the Gulf, so do conspiracy theories. The finance sector, however, continues on, despite wave after wave of shameful incidents, the latest culprit being Litton Loans, the sub-prime arm of Goldman Sachs, “America’s foreclosure king”, specialising in loans to (and repossessions from) the US’s poorest home-owners. And America’s global power is declining; it has already lost its hegemony in the Middle East.

The disaster in the Gulf and the crisis in Europe are good indicators of a totally transforming geography of power in the world today. The centre of gravity is no longer the old Atlantic.

As Stephen Walt writes,

Asia’s share of world GDP already exceeds that of the United States or Europe, and arecent IMF study suggests it will be greater than the United States and Europe combined by 2030. Europe has already become a rather hollow military power, and the current economic crisis is going to force European states-and especially the United Kingdom — to cut those capabilities even more. Needless to say, hopes that the euro might one day supplant the dollar look rather hollow today. Politics within many European countries is likely to get nasty as austerity kicks in, and there will inevitably be less money and less support for Europe’s various philanthropic projects in Africa, Central Asia, or the Middle East. Such activities won’t disappear entirely, but it’s hard to see how they can continue at anywhere near their current levels.

China in particular continues to rise. This article analyses China’s strategic interests in Latin America, in the US’s back yard. This article describes its strategy in Africa. China is also on the move in crisis-torn Europe, with the Vice Premier Zhang in Greece this week to grease the rusting wheels of Greek capitalism.

To be sure, China is a new form of global superpower, but that does not mean it is fundamentally different from the old imperialist powers.

While China’s public pronouncements may at times appear mercurial, they are more likely part of a well-conceived strategy. On one hand, China seeks to leverage benefits consistent with being a developing country, plays upon the west’s historical guilt over colonialism, and exploits the west’s continued belief that economic development will inexorably lead to pluralism. On the other hand, it does not hesitate to attempt to parlay its growing power into influence whenever and wherever it can. This Janus-like strategy gives China leeway and flexibility in crafting its international political and economic policy.

And despite occasional posturing from American liberals and conservatives, China and the US remain tied together in an intimate web of shared interests.

However, in China itself, the workforce is getting restive. In a highly unusual move, the prime minister has acknowledged worker grievances.Following the Honda strikes in Guangdong, a Toyota parts manufacturer in Tianjin is now out.  This excellent article shows how the wildcat strike at Honda sheds new light on the suicides at Foxconn, suggesting Chinese labor is reaching a tipping point.

And, along with the China, the new global geometry of power continues to tip towards the oil producing states, especially in the Persian Gulf region, as the BP disaster seems to be doing little to encourage us to break our dependency on petroleum. Global spare capacity is around 6 million barrels per day, nearly all of which is in OPEC countries (around 4.2 million barrels per day of this is in Saudi Arabia) – and these countries are reaping the benefits of a weak Euro caused by the PIGS crisis. Jadwa, one of Dubai’s biggest companies, has just bought one of the largest new office complexes on the Southern edge of London’s financial district, at a serious bargain price.

In turn, the Arab oil states and China are increasingly drawing together:

As Washington’s influence in the world and the Middle East wanes, Gulf countries are weaning themselves from their traditional orientation toward and dependence on the United States. America’s post-war political and economic supremacy in the region is now threatened as a result of its own foreign policy, but equally so by the rise in importance of the emerging powers. No country has capitalized on the shifting landscape more thanChina, which has, consistent with its actions globally, moved assertively to strengthen its ties with the Gulf region generally and in particular with its most important economic and political power, Saudi Arabia.

However, critical voices are in denial about the new geometry of power, and continue to act as if America and its close allies, including insignificant Israel, remain the geopolitical driving forces. Time to wake up.

June 7, 2010

News and analysis: mostly about oil

Birds killed as a result of oil from the Exxon...

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In this edition, the BP oil spill and some more oil  spills, BP strike-breaking in Colombia, Tata in India, the Eurozone crisis, India’s gap between rich and poor and the crisis of consumerism.

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April 26, 2010

NEWS: From the UK

In this issue, executive payrises despite jobs losses and poor performance at Tomkins and Wimpey, BA and other airlines seek tax hand-out to pay for volcano turmoil, Conservative businessmen who cut jobs oppose “jobs tax”, Britain’s shame over Senegal mining industry, and sub-contracting in the cycle courier industry.

read more »

April 20, 2010

COMMENT: Ending Africa’s Hunger [Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Annie Shattuck]

Man working in a ricefield.

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More than a billion people eat fewer than 1,900 calories per day. The majority of them work in agriculture, about 60 percent are women or girls, and most are in rural Africa and Asia. Ending their hunger is one of the few unimpeachably noble tasks left to humanity, and we live in a rare time when there is the knowledge and political will to do so. The question is, how? Conventional wisdom suggests that if people are hungry, there must be a shortage of food, and all we need do is figure out how to grow more.

This logic turns hunger into a symptom of a technological deficit, telling a story in which a little agricultural know-how can feed the world. It’s a seductive view, and one that appears to underwrite President Obama’s vision for ending hunger. In an interview with an African news agency, he shared his frustration over “the fact that the Green Revolution that we introduced into India in the ’60s, we haven’t yet introduced into Africa in 2009. In some countries, you’ve got declining agricultural productivity. That makes absolutely no sense.” In a squat beige Seattle office buildi