Posts Tagged ‘corporate’

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Eleven)

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Eleven)

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Posted 27 September 2011, by , Occupy Wall Street, occupywallst.org

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This is the eleventh communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street. We will not be moved.

On September 27th, 2011, many friends participated in our democratic process.

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We are seeing change in our world, block by block – city by city.

Join our conversation.

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https://occupywallst.org/article/day-eleven/

Occupy Wall Street: Nine Conversations and a Protest Song

 

Occupy Wall Street: Nine Conversations and a Protest Song

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Posted27 September 2011, byEdward Champion, Reluctant Habits, edrants.com

 

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Please visit the original site to listen to multiple audio tracks (the conversations and the song) associated with this article

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On Tuesday afternoon, I discovered this report from NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos. NPR hadn’t aired a single story in relation to the Occupy Wall Street riots, which I had reported about on Sunday in relation to the pepper spraying incident. I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and attend the protests myself. What follows are nine conversations I had with various individuals at the protests.

Douglas: “I’m here because I’m American. I was born here in New York. I was born here in Manhattan.”

Jeff and Miike came from Colorado.

Miike: “We came on Sunday specifically for this. And we decided we wanted to come down for the week also.”
Jeff: “We had already planned a trip to New York. And then they were talking about it on the radio station that I listen to in Denver. And they were saying there’s a total media blackout on this whole thing. And so I said I’m going to go down there. I called them up and said I’m going to go down there.”

Dorjee: “I hope it brings it down completely and we get a completely new system of human respect with viable resources and fair trade, instead of I lend you. You, you need a thousand dollars. Okay, I’ll give you a thousand dollars if you pay me back $1,000 plus $200.”

Me to Dorjee: “Be careful with that fist. Because you’re trying to be peaceful, right?”

Marvin was holding a sign that read JESUS IS NOT FOR CORPORATE GREED. What will the protest actually do?

Marvin: “It will make people more aware that we live in a capitalist system where more people are living in poverty than ever. And the most ironic part of it is that it’s a capitalist system, but we live off the Communists. We have to borrow money from Communists to even exist.”

Mary was a tourist who had stopped by Liberty Square on the last day of her vacation.

Mary: “I’m surprised it hasn’t happened earlier. Now it has. I started following it on Twitter. And then I thought I’d come down and see what was happening.”

Ed and Robin came to the protests all the way from West Virginia.

Robin: “The corporations have done a great job in dividing people, separating people into issues. People are coming together here and realizing that we have much more in common with each other than we do with the people who are trying to sell us on what a good way of life is here.”

Ed and Robin were also kind enough to perform their song “Let ‘Em Eat Cake” for me. Here is Uncle Eddie & Robin’s website.

Roman carried a sign calling for President Paris Hilton and had some unusual ideas about making sex appeal a more predominant characteristic than others.

Roman: “I’m an aspiring, you know, Paris Hilton. I want to just be able to live and party. I live with my parents right now but we don’t have much money. And I think that if Paris Hilton becomes President, you know, she can help everybody just party.”

Brian worked very close to Liberty Square. He was checking out the protests on his lunch break.

Brian: “This is funny anyway. [indicating sign] I mean, who hasn’t tried to go to school looking for a job when they first get out of school. I mean, that’s what we all do. It’s hard to find a job. But, like anything, you continue to look and try until you find one and do what most of us have done.”

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Please note that an earlier version of this story misidentified the “Steven Levy” as “Wired senior writer Steven Levy.” Reluctant Habits expresses its apologies to Wired‘s Steven Levy and greatly regrets the error.]

As I was circling Liberty Square and talking with many people about what it meant to protest, I observed an older man berating a young man going by the name of Matt. It was the only contentious banter I had observed in what was otherwise a peaceful gathering — complete with donated food, plentiful signs laid along the ground, activists singing protest songs on banjos and guitars, and even a library established in close proximity to the main dais.

I was curious about what had caused this older man to lose his gasket. Because while I had talked with people who did not approve of the protest (including some cops who declined to go on the record, but all NYPD officers I observed were calm and professional), the older man was the only one prepared to go ballistic. This being a public space, I naturally began recording audio and approached the shrieking man, hoping that I might use this moment to generate a civil discussion. But the man, who identified himself as “Steven Levy” (not to be confused with the Wired senior writer) wasn’t especially interested in explaining to me why he was upset at Matt.

“He and I were just talking with another woman,” explained Matt after the exchange. “And I think they’re more on the liberal interventionist side of the economic policies — at least in terms of their opinions. And I was like saying, ‘Look, I’m personally against Keynesianism. Because I think Keynes is all about government spending. And I don’t believe government is a good allocator of spending.’”

This position apparently infuriated Levy. When I approached Levy and Matt, Matt was explaining to Levy that the two of them were on the same side. Levy responded, “You don’t read well.”

I decided to intervene. I merely wanted to know what Matt was misrepresenting. The results can be listened to below:

Please visit the original site to listen to multiple audio tracks (the conversations and the song) associated with this article

About Edward Champion

Edward Champion is the Managing Editor of Reluctant Habits.

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http://www.edrants.com/occupy-wall-street-nine-conversations-and-a-protest-song/

US’ polling machines for 2012 allow remote hacking

 

US’ polling machines for 2012 allow remote hacking

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Posted 28 September 2011, by Staff, GMA News (GMA Network), gmanews.tv

 

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Many of the electronic voting machines that about a third of American voters will use in the 2012 polls may be hacked remotely, a laboratory has shown.

Experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois said the hack could change voting results without leaving a trace.

“We believe these man-in-the-middle attacks are potentially possible on a wide variety of electronic voting machines. We think we can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine,” said Roger Johnston, leader of the assessment team, in an interview published on the Salon magazine website.

“This is a national security issue. It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security,” he added.

The Salon article said that the Diebold voting machines can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and eighth-grade science education.

Argonne Lab, run by the Department of Energy, has the mission of conducting scientific research to meet national needs.

The Diebold Accuvote voting system used in the study was loaned to the lab’s scientists by VelvetRevolution.us, which received the machine from a former Diebold contractor.

According to the Argonne team, e-voting system hacks such as Princeton’s demonstration of a viral cyber attack on a Diebold touch-screen system – which relied on cyber attacks to change the results of elections – will require more coding skills and knowledge of the voting system software.

In contrast, the Argonne team’s attack allegedly required no modification, reprogramming, or even knowledge of the voting machine’s proprietary source code.

Demonstration, proof of concept

The team demonstrated in a video that inserting an inexpensive electronic device into the voting machine can offer a “bad guy” virtually complete control over the machine.

A cheap remote control unit can enable access to the voting machine from up to half a mile away.

“The cost of the attack that you’re going to see was $10.50 in retail quantities,” said Warner.

He said an RF [radio frequency] remote control to stop and start the attacks will cost an extra $15.

A video prepared by the team shows three different types of attack, each showing how the intrusion developed by the team allows them to take complete control of the Diebold touch-screen voting machine.

They were able to demonstrate a similar attack on a DRE system made by Sequoia Voting Systems as well.

Under the setup, the intruder would allow the voter to make his or her selections. But when the voter actually attempts to push the “Vote Now” button, which records the voter’s final selections to the system’s memory card, Warner said a bad guy “will simply intercept that attempt … change a few of the votes,” and the changed votes would then be registered in the machine.

“In order to do this, we blank the screen temporarily so that the voter doesn’t see that there’s some revoting going on prior to the final registration of the votes,” he said.

Such an attack would allow manipulation would occur after the voter has approved as “correct” the on-screen summaries of his or her intended selections.

Johnston said the machines could also be tampered with during so-called voting machine “sleepovers” when e-voting systems are kept by poll workers at their houses days and weeks prior to the election or at other times when the systems are unguarded.

But he said the more realistic way to insert these alien electronics is to do it while the voting machines are waiting in the polling place a week or two prior to the election.

“Often the polling places are in elementary schools or a church basement or some place that doesn’t really have a great deal of security. Or the voting machines can be tampered while they’re in transit to the polling place. Or while they’re in storage in the warehouse between elections,” Johnston said.

He noted that the Argonne team had no owner’s manual or circuit diagrams for either the Diebold or Sequoia voting systems they were able to access in these attacks.

Election security procedures

Also, the team members criticized election security procedures, which rarely if ever include physical inspection of the machines, especially their internal electronics.

But even if such inspections were carried out, the Argonne scientists said their attack leaves behind no physical or programming evidence if properly executed.

“The really nice thing about this attack, the man-in-the-middle, is that there’s no soldering or destruction of the circuit board of any kind. You can remove this attack and leave no forensic evidence that we’ve been there,” Warner said.

Gaining access

Gaining access to the inside of the Diebold touch-screen is as simple as picking the lock, or using a standard hotel minibar key, the team noted.

It pointed out the machines use the same easily copied key, available at most office supply stores.

“I think our main message is, let’s not get overly transfixed on the cyber,” team leader Johnston says. Since he believes they “can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine,” he recommends a number of improvements for future e-voting systems.

“The machines themselves need to be designed better, with the idea that people may be trying to get into them. If you’re just thinking about the fact that someone can try to get in, you can design the seals better, for example,” he added.

He also warned against using a standard blank key for every machine.

“Spend an extra four bucks and get a better lock. You don’t have to have state of the art security, but you can do some things where it takes at least a little bit of skill to get in,” he said.

New findings

The Vulnerability Assessment Team’s new findings raised concerns about e-voting vulnerabilities issued by other computer scientists and security experts.

While the use of touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems such as those Argonne showed to be vulnerable to manipulation has declined, similar systems may be used by a “significant part” of the electorate on Election Day in 2012, the Salon article said.

It cited Sean Flaherty, a policy analyst for e-voting watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org, as saying that “about one-third of registered voters live where the only way to vote on Election Day is to use a DRE.”

Flaherty said almost all voters in states like Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Nevada, and the majority of voters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Texas, will vote on DREs on Election Day in 2012.

He added voters in major municipalities such as Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh will also line up in next year’s election to use DREs of the type hacked by the Argonne National Lab.

‘Security by obscurity’

While voting machine companies and election officials have sought to protect source code and the memory cards that store ballot programming and election results for each machine, critics like California Secretary of State Debra Bowen have pointed out that attempts at “security by obscurity” largely ignore the most immediate threat.

Such threats come from election insiders who have regular access to the e-voting systems, as well as those who may gain physical access to machines that were not designed with security safeguards in mind.

“This is a fundamentally very powerful attack and we believe that voting officials should become aware of this and stop focusing strictly on cyber (attacks),” said Warner.

He added there’s a very large physical protection component of the voting machine that needs to be addressed. — TJD, GMA News

 

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http://www.gmanews.tv/story/233629/technology/us-polling-machines-for-2012-allow-remote-hacking

Ottawa Tarsands Protest: Portraits of Arrests by Ben Powless

 

Ottawa Tarsands Protest: Portraits of Arrests by Ben Powless

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Posted 26 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

 

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Photo Ben Powless, Mohawk

Photo Ben Powless

Photo Ben Powless

Photo Ben Powless

Photo Ben Powless

Photo Ben Powless

OTTAWA TARSANDS ACTION
Sept. 26, 2011
Photos by Ben Powless, Mohawk See all today’s heroes at the rally and arrested: Photos by Ben Powless:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsaction/sets/72157627762196960/

 

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/ottawa-tarsands-protest-portraits-of.html

Re-Colonization Of Africa Through Buying Agricultural Land: Wealthy Nations And Their Multinationals On The Rampage

Re-Colonization Of Africa Through Buying Agricultural Land: Wealthy Nations And Their Multinationals On The Rampage

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Posted 26 September 2011, by Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda-Yimbo, Tom Wilt News, tomwilt.com

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The global food crisis of 2007/2008 that triggered riots from Cape to Cairo and from Senegal to Haiti made governments and their agriculturally-engaged companies to get on the saddle and gallop – with their thinking caps on. Export tariffs were slapped on staple food crops to minimise how much could be sold outside their countries.  In my book – Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A Critical Observation of Neighbouring Continents, I mentioned, rather apocalyptically, that if we Africans don’t take care then the outside world will turn our continent into “a timber plantation.” This is now happening, but on a worst-case scenario. Africans are being colonised again and this time not with the power of  weapons but through Africans themselves selling their continent willingly. The 99- and 999-year lease – a remnant of colonialists – surely cannot fool anybody. This is equivalent to a full century and/or full millennium which translates into three and a half to thirty-four consecutive generations of Africans.

Africans are selling the one natural resource they can’t afford to sell – their land. Especially arable land. In Antananarivo, Madagascar, earlier in 2009, President Ravalomanana’s government was overthrown by angry urban poor who were already spending two thirds of their income to feed themselves ever since the 2008 massive rise in global prices for commodities like rice and wheat. This was not just because of his own private jet bought from a member of the Disney family for his own use with public funds – no. President Ravalomanana was leasing 1.3 hectares (half the size of Belgium and half of Madagascar’s arable land) to South Korea’s Daewoo for 99 years to grow maize and palm oil and send all harvests during this period back home to feed South Koreans. Daewoo paid nothing: they PROMISED to improve the island’s infra structure. And of course they would provide “jobs for the citizens of Madagascar by farming it, which is good for Madagascar” (read cheap slave labour). As usual the public was kept in the dark. Until the news was leaked by London’s Financial Times. This is the first government in the world to be toppled by angry mobs and the military for “land-grabbing”. Kudos to the people.

There are more than 100 similar land-grabs globally, since September 2008, where huge tracts of farmland are bought up by wealthy countries as well international corporations. Mark Weston, Britain’s international development policy consultant does the colourful canvas thus: “Imagine if China, following a brief negotiation with a British government desperate for foreign cash after the collapse of the economy, bought up the whole of Wales, replaced most of its inhabitants with Chinese workers, turned the entire country into an enormous rice field and sent all the rice produced there for the next 99 years back to China… Imagine that neither the evicted Welch nor the rest of the British public knew what they were getting in return for this, having to content themselves with vague promises that the new landlords would upgrade a few ports and create jobs for the local people.

“Then, imagine that, after a few years – and bearing in mind that recession and the plummeting pound have already made it difficult for the UK to buy food from abroad – an oil-price spike or an environmental disaster in one of the world’s big grain-producing nations drives global food prices sharply upwards and beyond the reach of many Britons. While the Chinese next door in Wales continue sending rice back to China, the starving British look helplessly on, ruing the day their government sold off half their arable land. Some of them plot the violent recapture of the Welch valley.”

This – huge tracts of land being “sold” to foreigners for “promises” – is what is happening all over Africa this very minute. Except that in my experience not many Africans are that good at organising themselves as a unified force to recapture their valley. They would either fall upon each other with machetes for a few grains some “kind” soul dropped them from the air, or they’d turn into a trillion factions with double the number of “generals”.

Even the great pope of the free market, Financial Times, has used words like “rapacious” for the likes of Daewoo, warning that it was the most “brazen example of a wider phenomenon” where rich nations are trotting the globe buying up the natural resources of poor countries. The new colonialism is vast in Africa, with the buyers being wealthy countries unable to grow their own food. The Arabs are back fleeing their barren sands to turn Africa into their granary like they did one and a half millennia ago (in Egypt at the time). The Gulf states are in the lead in this new investment. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, controlling between them 45% of the world’s oil, are snatching AGRICULTURAL LAND in Egypt, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, Uganda, but also in Cambodia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. South Korea has grabbed a staggering 960,000 hectares in Sudan, the largest country in Africa, where at least 6 other rich countries are said to have secured large land-holding – and precisely where the local population are among the hungriest and least secure in the world. The Saudis are negotiating 500,000 hectares (not acres) in Tanzania. Companies for the United Arab Emirates have snapped up 324,000 hectares in Pakistan. Highly populated countries like China, South Korea and India have acquired swathes of African farmland to produce food for export. India recently lowered tariffs for Ethiopian commodities that could enter India after the Indian government lent money to 80 Indian companies to buy 350,000 hectares of farmland in Africa, particularly huge tracts in Kenya and Ethiopia. And this is the same Kenya where, in the year 2008, the locals of African descent were chopping each other’s limbs off, being shot by their own police and armed forces and burning innocent men, women and children locked up in churches – because of the land tenure! This is the Kenya where the Gallmanns, Briatores and Bransons and many others own private ranches the size of 3 Cypruses, where Prince William and his girlfriend spend a bit of “Hollywood in the bush” once or so a year – the rest of the time, all the above celebrities have their small states looked after by their private property “my Africans” – while 75% of Afro-Kenyans have no scratch of land to plant a tomato!

Kenya made a deal with Qatar, an Arab land with only 1% arable land, to acquire 40,000 hectares of land to grow food. A third of Kenya’s population was facing food shortages and President Kibaki had no better answer for hungry Kenyans opposing the deal but to impose a state of emergency and then turn around to appeal for international food relief. Where is the logic here, by the bony ancients? If Qatar can grow food on Kenyan soil to feed Qataris, why can’t Kenya grow food in Kenya to feed Kenyans? The land offered to Qatar is in the fertile Tana River delta with an abundance of fresh water. Some 150,000 Kenyan farming and pastoralist families for whom the land is communal graze their 60,000 cattle there. It is no wonder that, supported by opposition activists and environmentalists fearing the destruction of a pristine ecosystem of mangrove swamps, savannah and forests, the people now threaten armed resistance. When that happens, the rest of the world will only report about “warring African tribes”, not a group of people fighting to keep their land and ecosystem instead of allowing it delivered to Qatari farmers to feed their Arabs.

Next door in Uganda, 400 small farmers comprising a total of 2,000 people, were driven out (using violence through the Ugandan army) of their land in 2001 to make room for the German coffee grower Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. This was against the OECD guidelines for multinational concerns. On 24th August 2001, the concern’s boss, Michael R Neumann, together with President Museveni inaugurated the plantation. The people who were driven off their land can since then neither feed themselves adequately nor pay school fees for their children. This is another in a long line of  violations of social human rights perpetrated by yet another African so-called leader against his own citizens. Are Africans surprised when the rest of the world view them as some strange pathogens? Who is polishing the patina of Africa’s “bad image”?

Mozambique has signed a $ 2bn deal to give 10,000 Chinese “settlers” land in return for $ 3m in military aid from Beijing. Right. Take the land for 99- or 999-year lease and settle down while you give the starving Mozambicans both reason and means to kill each other off, leaving Mozambique a Chinese province. Food is a weapon is a weapon is a weapon….

But the list is long. The British investor Cru Investment Management has grabbed tracts of the fruitful agricultural land in dirt poor Malawi. US investment banker Philippe Heilberg, assisted by a “warlord”, acquired 4,000 square kilometres of land in southern Sudan. Congo-Brazzaville is allegedly selling 10 million hectares to Euroancestral South Africans to farm. Multinational finance concerns such as Deutsche Bank, Blackstone Group, Goldman & Sachs and Dexion Capital all have invested in African agricultural land. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation are engaged in “the development of agro-business” big time in Africa and other developing countries ever since the food crisis of 2008, pumping billions to agro-concerns to ensure food production in Africa for their own countries. All such investors no longer want to depend on speculators, they want to eliminate middlemen and take control themselves. Cru Investment spokesman, Duncan Parker maintains, “Africa has what it takes to be one of the leading food producers worldwide. Her potential in workers is big, her soil productive and there’s plenty of sun and water.”

Is the man not talking about the same Africa whose people are starving and dying of diseases that could be avoided by mere clean drinking water?

And Philippe Heilberg told the US media that whatever political and legal risks he is taking in Africa at the moment will pay most lucratively because he expects several African states in the coming years to simply fall apart. Can Africans legitimately blame Heilberg for his arrogance and indifference? Besides, when one listens between the words, there is always a plan-in-motion behind such blatant utterances. Africans may well be the next Palestinians – pariahs in their own land.

And now food is not the only thing that African land is needed for. Think of the recent EU Desertec cordoning off the Sahara for solar energy for Europe. In the Desertec Concept are the words:

In the upcoming decades, several global developments will create new challenges for mankind. We will be confronted with problems and obstacles such as climate change, population growth beyond earth’s capacity, and an increase in demand for energy and water caused by a strive for prosperity and expansion.The DESERTEC Concept provides a way to solve these challenges.

The question is, SOLVE THEM FOR WHO? Certainly not for Africans. And how does this concept work?

It works just like a coal steam power plant, with the difference that concentrated solar power is used for steam production, instead of coal. Large mirrors are positioned in such a way that they reflect and concentrate the sunlight onto a certain point much like capturing sunlight through a magnifying lens. A major advantage of this technology is that a part of the sun’s heat can be collected in heat storage tanks during the day and then run through steam circuits at night or specifically during peak hours, depending on the demand. With this technology, renewable and controlled energy can be provided according to the demand of the electricity grid.

Yet Africans, fifty years down independence road and with the technology already existing and sitting their for a price they can more than afford, cannot position large mirrors in such a way that they reflect and concentrate the abundant African sunlight like capturing sunlight through a magnifying lens! Africans have had the Sahara forever – but they just couldn’t come up with the idea of getting some solar energy from this vast desert. No idea from the whole of Sunny Africa? Yes they could, if Africans start thinking of themselves as worthwhile human beings too, and join forces to keep what is theirs theirs. Otherwise Africans might as well follow the butcher meekly to the slaughter house because that’s where they’re going to end up – in “native reserves” dying off as a people until the few Africans left are put in museums like they were once the main attraction in circuses all over the West in the 18th through early 20th centuries.

German, British and American companies have also bought land in Tanzania and Ethiopia to grow biofuels. Ethiopia – the byword for famine – argues that since it imports oil, biofuels will set off price fluctuations and dependency on oil! What about the environmental impact – 75% of the land allocated to the foreign biofuel firms are forested and these forests will have to be chopped off! The Chinese chopstick manufacturers are delighted.

A Norwegian biofuel company will create “the largest jatropha plantation in the world” by deforesting vast tracts of land in northern Ghana. The company was back to darkest Europe when it flagrantly cheated an illiterate chief to sign 38,000 hectares with his thumbprint. Jatropha is a non-too-demanding plant that produces oily seeds from which biodiesel can be made.

This entire new scramble for poor countries’ land is the result of the food crisis of 2007-2008 when the price of wheat, rice and other cereals skyrocketed across the globe. When the food-grower countries applied tariffs to minimize the amount of staple crops that left their countries, the supply was further tightened resulting in prices shooting further up. It was a policy-created scarcity rather than the true-and-tried traditional supply and demand. A situation arose where rich countries reliant on massive food imports put on their thinking caps. They began to put the fundamentals of global trade (that each country should concentrate on its best product and then trade it) under the microscope. The Gulf states, among other rich countries, with their unimaginable amounts of cash from trading oil suddenly realised you can’t eat cash dipped in oil. Nor can you gnaw on a Rolls-Royce. Or feed your children computer chips. The sheikhs & associates saw that the costs of food imports had doubled in five years. The future boded for worse – both regional and global markets were no longer reliable.

The perfect answer was to own agricultural land. “Control of foreign farmland”, writes Paul Vallely, “would not only secure food supplies, it would eliminate the cut taken by middlemen and reduce food-import bills by more than 20 percent. And the benefits could only increase.” Because the fundamental conditions that had ushered in the worldwide food crisis remain unchanged and could easily get worse.

According to the UN the world population will double by 2050. To grow enough food to feed 9bn people choke the planet. So, long term strategies are the right response. When the Prime Minister Taro of Japan (the world’s largest food importer) asked the G8 leaders in Italy: “Is the current food crisis just another market vagary?” he answered his own question: “Evidence suggests not; we are undergoing a transition to a new equilibrium, reflecting a new economic, climatic, demographic and ecological reality.”

Not that the market is asleep either. The cost of land is rising rapidly, making the irresponsible but insatiable African leaders salivate. And we Africans sit with our hands folded on our laps, waiting for some force of nature to come to our rescue. Many are not even aware of the fact that their ancestral land is being offered for re-colonisation, because their governments are big boys who believe informing their citizens of what is going on puts the boys in a subservient position. These are the chaps in this world who are unaware that they are servants of their people.

The food and financial crises combined have made agricultural farmland the new strategic asset. Veteran speculator Jim Rogers, in league with fellow veterans like Lord Jacob Rothschild, said in July 2009: “I’m convinced that farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time.” This should actually augur well for Africa because there is land in abundance in the continent, and the agricultural sector – Africa’s backbone – is in need of capital and technology. A win-win situation. Except that Africans are auctioning their continent’s most sacred possession for nought and a staggering 99- or 999-year lease (depending on which salivating leader is dealing with whom. There are leaders out there offering the old colonial 999-year lease). That interprets into three and a half to thirty-four generations of Africans – left in limbo. Or as eventual specimens in museums of the wealthy.

Producing enough food to feed 9bn people in 2050 will crush the planet, denuding forests and drainage rivers and ruining arable land. In Copenhagen, capital saw to it that their lackeys, known as governments the world over, treated climate change as Father Christmas – a fairy tale. But, to capital’s delight, oil prices continue to rise in direct relation to fertilizer and tractor fuel – hence biofuels to further cut the land that would be available for food crops. The horrors are ahead because the fat harvest times are over – there won’t be enough food for the table even for the filthy rich – unless they can afford €3m a day residency in outer space. The market economy will this time – as always – not provide for all and sundry as falsely proclaimed. Land prices have jumped from 15% to 30% globally.

After the financial crisis in mortgage-based derivatives, agricultural land is the new strategic asset. An asset that nobody can manufacture or erect, and then sell. Once given away, it is gone and there’s no replica or spare parts, Africans.

Marginally seen, it could be a good thing for African countries. Apart from the staggering and varied natural resources, some of which cannot be found anywhere on the planet, land, as already said, is what Africans have in plenty. All Africa needs is capital to develop her agriculture. A mammoth share of this capital is ferreted out of the continent by the handful few wrongly-wired Africans to develop economies NOT AFRICAN. The Big Curse for which Africans only have themselves to blame. The rest of the world call it capital flight – as if this staggering amount of money simply made up its mind to take to the air and fly to the West – the mad terminologies of our times where human beings call their own dead “collateral damages”.

The financial global players who brought on the crisis are the very same ones now roaming the agricultural landscape and grabbing chunks of it. These land deals should bring investments, technology and know-how to local farmers, reduce dependency on food aid and similar maladies. They should provide infrastructure that goes beyond roads leading from the foreign leaseholder’s farms to the port that transport 100% of their harvests back to their own countries. The deals should enable the building of schools and health centres for the whole community. They should provide enough taxes to the government for more development – assuming African governments would at last invest in their own countries and people instead of castles and numbered accounts overseas. African so-called leaders have some inborn dread of educated and healthy citizens. Instead of recognising the greatest potential to their nations of human resources they see adversaries.

Then there is the problem of monoculture in growing plantation of large-scale food crops dependent of huge amounts of pesticides and fertilisers. This would ruin the long-term sustainability of tropical soils not suited to intensive cultivation, as well as damage the local water table. Soil erosion will occur and ruin long-term land fertility. The diversity of plants, animals and insect life will be drastically threatened while the intensive usage of agrochemicals bring in water-quality maladies. In addition the irrigation of the foreign investors’ plantations would take water away from the indigenous users. So these grabs are in effect water grabs – the most valuable part of these deals – instead of land grabs, since once you own the land you own the water beneath it.

The chief executive of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe puts it this way: “Water withdrawal for agriculture continue to increase rapidly. In some of the most fertile regions of the world (America, southern Europe, northern India, north-eastern China), over-use of water, mainly for agriculture, is leading to sinking water tables. Groundwater is being withdrawn, no longer as a buffer over the year but in a structural way, mainly because water is seen as a free good.”

It is not. The average person in the world uses 3,000-6,000 litres of water daily, less than a tenth of which is used for hygiene or manufacturing. The rest goes to farming. Meat-eating has increased and meat requires ten times more water per calorie than plants. The thirstiest products on earth are biofuels. To grow Soya for one litre of biodiesel takes up to 9,100 litres of water and up to 4,000 litres to transform corn into bioethanol. Brabeck-Letmathe predicts, “Under the present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel.” India and the USA combined produce a third of the world’s cereals, but Frank Rijsberman of the International Water Management Institute cautions, “we could be facing annual losses equivalent to the grain crops” of India and the USA.

The land grabs are now a pandemic. As with natural resources in Africa, there is no transparency and foreign governments and multinationals engaged in bribes have no great fear of prosecution in poor countries. In their own wealthy countries, at least somebody may publicly cry foul or demonstrate with huge placards in the streets without fearing being shot down by the police or armed forces.

In Africa land rights are not just written, they also exist through custom and practice. There should indeed be (if nothing else) compulsory sharing of benefits such as construction of schools and health centres. Short leases, or better still contract farming, would leave smallholders in control of their land and contract to investors. On the other hand the investors must never have the right to export entire harvests especially during a food crisis in the host country.

Land-grabs represent a serious violation of the human right to food. Humankind’s most primordial fight was over food. It is food that makes the fittest who then survives. I therefore call to all Africans, Continental and Diaspora, and all friends and fans of Africa, to join me in this fight by going to my web site – www.akinyi-princess.de – and signing in the with both your name, the words and your valid email address. In addition, please spread the word to your friends, families, social network chums and pals, chat room and forum acquaintances around the globe to join us in the fight. I need at least 25,000 authentic email “signatures” to enable me to write a petition to the AU Commissioner in Addis Ababa demanding that African governments may not simply “negotiate” land grab deals with foreign governments and multinationals without prior consultations with their respective citizens in the form of a referendum. The petition is now being professionally drafted and will be posted in my web site ASAP.

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A graduate journalist – the London Schools of Journalism as well as an economics graduate of the London School of Economics. Been writing as a freelance journalist since 1980, columnist with various dailies and monthly magazines in Africa and Europe. Gives lectures and seminars in various German universities, colleges and high schools on topics ranging from socio-economy in Africa, Business English, African literature and the socio-ethnological conflicts in the traditions of Africans and the West in general. Written and published articles, papers, novels in Engish and German. Her non-fiction book “Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A critical Observation of the Neighbour Continents” published in 2008 by a New York publisher. Full CV –  www.akinyi-princess.de. More works as yet unpublished and a children’s fantasy/thriller.

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Short URL: http://www.tomwilt.com/?p=48161

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http://www.tomwilt.com/re-colonization-of-africa-through-buying-agricultural-land-wealthy-nations-and-their-multinationals-on-the-rampage/8548161/

Immortal Technique

Immortal Technique

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The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

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Posted 27 September 2011, by OccupyWallSt, Occupy Wall Street, occupywallst.org

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Please click on the link below for a video of Immortal Technique talking with the Occupy Wall Street protesters:

http://qik.com/swfs/qikPlayer5.swf
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https://occupywallst.org/article/immortal-technique/

Occupy Wall Street downloadable Posters

Occupy Wall Street downloadable Posters

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Posted 27 September 2011, by angelbabe43, Angelbabe43’s Blog, angelbabe43.wordpress.com

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The posters provided on this page are free for you to download, print, and hang up within your community, not only to promote local efforts, but the solidarity occupiers around the country. In fact, we highly encourage it as this will be a great means of spreading the word and getting others involved.

All of the posters on this page have been graciously donated to the cause by graphic designers who have contacted us and sent us materials. If you would like to contribute, please feel free to send us your work

To download, just right click and save the poster (an Acrobat PDF) to your hard drive.

Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Raina Dayne

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Poster by Sam

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Poster by Sam

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Poster by Sam

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Poster by Sam

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Poster by Sam

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Poster by Mark P.

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Poster by Mark M.

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http://occupytogether.org/downloadable-posters/

Related articles

http://occupytogether.org/

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http://angelbabe43.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/occupy-wall-street-downloadable-posters/