Posts Tagged ‘water’

Saudi Women Granted Right To Vote (And Save Planet)

 

Saudi Women Granted Right To Vote (And Save Planet)

Why women’s right to vote is important not only for gender equality but for the planet

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Posted 26 September 2011, by Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet, greenprophet.com

 

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It been a political roller-coaster of a year for the Middle East and it doesn’t look set to stop just yet. Yesterday, an event many thought would never happen in their lifetime finally happened- Saudi women were granted the right to vote. Not only did this de-bunk claims made by ‘Ethical Oil’ that Canadian tar sands were better than Saudi oil due to the latter’s gender bias but it also meant that women in the country were strengthening their ability to fight climate change and better resist the devastating impact it could have on them.

It is widely accepted that women will be worst affected by climate change and troubling phenomenons such as land grabs due to gender inequality which means they are less equipped to secure their own protection. For example, in the case of land grabs a recent report by Oxfam highlights their particular vulnerability as they lack the same land rights as most men and so they are more likely to be mistreated. Consequently, the recent move in Saudi to grant women an equal voice in the political sphere by 2015 is an important step to achieving gender equality which is vital if women are to tackle the impacts of climate change.

Saudi Women Gain Green Political Voice

Not that Saudi women weren’t working to tackle environmental problems facing the country prior to the vote. I spoke to the pioneering green women-led Saudi intiative Naqa’a around a year ago and they showed great concern about the need to stop climate change and deal with environmental issues in Saudi such as water shortages and wastefulness.

Although a women-led group, they also highlighted the fact that the need to protect the environment was a duty required of every Muslim – man and woman. However, the right to vote means that eco-friendly women in the country now have a stronger voice and will be able to express their views at the polls and at government policy level.

Building on protests demanding women’s right to drive in Saudi, it finally looks like the establishment (who are probably keen to avoid full-scale protests such as those in Syria and in Bahrain by pushing through these much-needed reforms) are paying attention to their citizens and their demands for change.

Clear Restrictions Which Need Challenging

Even so, there are some clear limitations to the recent news. For one, the law won’t take effect till another four years and some have criticized the overall democratic nature of governance in Saudi stating that the vote doesn’t really have an influence on the way the country is run. What’s more, women still cannot drive or travel abroad alone so there is still some way to go for gender and political equality.

Despite these restriction, it is encouraging to hear that women in Saudi have been granted the right to vote and stand for elections. It’s a step in the right direction and these are really exciting time we are living through at the moment in the Middle East – let’s hope that they will be just as green.

: Image via en_el_houston/flickr.

For more on Saudi and the environment see:

King Abdullah Gives Saudi Women Right To Vote

Interview With Naqa’a: Saudi Women Fight For Environment

Saudi Spring For Women Drivers In Saudi Begins Now!

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http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/09/saudi-women-vote-save-planet/

Adieu, Earth Mother, Wangari

Adieu, Earth Mother, Wangari

Wangari Maathai

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Posted 28 September 2011, by Editor, Vanguard, vanguardngr.com

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ON Sunday, September 25, 2011, one of the most famous African women in modern times took her exit from the planet earth which she served with distinction.

Her name was Professor Wangari Muta Maathai (April 1, 1940 to September 25, 2011). She succumbed to the scourge of cancer in a Nairobi hospital.

Since her transition was announced by her family, tributes have poured from various quarters, high and low from around the world. From President Barack Obama of the USA to the President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon; from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to former US Vice-President, Al Gore all the way down to many non-governmental interest groups devoted to earth conservation, such as the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, The National Geographic organisations and the so many websites and blogsites committed to conservation, the world has been unsparing in its tributes to the first female Nobel Laureate from Africa.

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, “Wangeri Maathai was a force of nature. While others deployed their power and life force to damage, degrade and extract short-term profit from the environment, she used hers to stand in their way, mobilise communities and to argue for conservation and sustainable development over destruction.”

Wangari was an extraordinary woman, who ensured that her high quality education was not just for her own benefit but for the rural communities in her native Kenya and the world at large. She was an evangelist for the preservation of the environment. As far back as the early 1970s when she was but a young woman, she founded the Green Belt Movement, with which she mobilised thousands of women to plant trees and raise environmental consciousness. The Movement enlisted over 900,000 women to establish tree nurseries and over the years planted about 45 million trees.

She was also a women rights activist. As the first East African woman to be awarded the Ph.D. when she graduated from the University College of Nairobi in the field of Anatomy, she was a female pioneer in most of the posts she worked. While she taught in the university, she fought for equal status for both male and female staff of the university and would have formed the first academic staff union (similar to our own Academic Union of Universities, ASUU) in the institution had the courts not turned the effort down.

She was a fierce force against the long dictatorship of Daniel Arap Moi, who made sure she never emerged as the President of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) until one of her opponents favoured by Moi, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, suddenly withdrew for her to emerge unopposed. She went on to join partisan politics and win a seat as a member of her country’s parliament. Her Right Livelihood Award of 1984 served as an appetiser for the Nobel Peace Prize, which she won in 2004.

Unfortunately, Prof. Wangari Maathai fell victim to cancer, one of the major consequences of pollution and deforestation, which she fought against in over 40 years of her lifetime.

The life lived by this amazing woman is worthy of emulation, especially by other African women. In spite of her divorce a few years into her marriage, she devoted the rest of her life to battles to save the earth, banish autocracy from her country and advance the cause of women.

Africa will honour her memory adequately if African countries take seriously the challenge of continuing the struggle to save the environment, especially in the face of rapid advance of the Sahara Desert, intensification of coastal erosion and gradual disappearance of fresh water resources around the continent and the globe at large. Africa must join hands to make the continent “the last man in defence” against deforestation by massive planting of trees, especially economic trees.

It is heroes and heroines of Africa like Prof. Maathai Wangari that we want our leaders to honour (not sit-tight dictators) as we celebrate a life of uncommon achievements.

Adieu, Earth Mother, Wangari Maathai. Rest in peace.

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http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/09/adieu-earth-mother-wangari/

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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WATCH LIVE: Tarsands Civil Disobedience Sept 26, 2011

WATCH LIVE: Tarsands Civil Disobedience Sept 26, 2011

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

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APTN Photos
CBC Live Ottawa
http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Politics/1244504890/ID=2129385867

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Hundreds gather on Parliament Hill to say ‘No to Tar Sands’

(Ottawa) – Hundreds of people from across North America are gathered this morning on Parliament Hill for a rally followed by a mass civil disobedience sit-in. Participants are responding to a call to action for a large peaceful protest where many will risk arrest to tell the Harper government they don’t support his reckless agenda and urge him to turn away from the tar sands and build a green energy future that promotes climate justice, respects Indigenous rights and prioritizes the health of our environment and communities.

“It is morally justifiable to risk arrest if you see and witness a crime occurring or about to occur. We are saying the tar sands industry is unlawful. We need to stop it before the damage is done. It’s worth getting arrested to send that warning out to the rest of Canada,” said Louisette Lante, a housewife from Waterloo.

The action began at 10 a.m. with a solidarity rally in front of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill featuring a number of speeches from prominent individuals from environmental organizations and Indigenous communities directly impacted by the tar sands Following the speeches, waves of participants in groups of 20 or more will separate from the solidarity rally and choose to risk arrest by participating in a peaceful sit-in near the front doors to Centre Block.

Ottawa action live

http://www.livestream.com/ottawaaction

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Watch live streaming video from ottawaaction at livestream.com

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WATCH LIVE TODAY MONDAY Sept. 26, 2011

Watch Live: Twin Cities Tar Sands Action
Today 10AM to 2PM CDT!

http://www.ienearth.org/ien-pipeline.html

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE OTTAWA TODAY
“We have hundreds of people who have signed up to risk arrest,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “At a time when we need to be fundamentally reducing our emissions, at a time when we need to be generating investments in zero-carbon energy technology, we’re allowing Big Oil and this Harper majority government to lead us on a backward path, which is destroying Canada’s image internationally,” he said.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/oil-sands-opponents-to-descend-on-parliament-hill/article2179710/

Embattled pipeline at centre of mass Ottawa protest
CTV News Canada
Protesters started collecting on Parliament Hill on Sunday, taking part in protest training sessions ahead of a planned mass confrontation with the federal government over its support for the oilsands and a proposed pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
Hundreds of environmentalists are expected to turn out for Monday’s mass rally, which organizers expect will become “the largest civil disobedience action in the history of Canada’s climate movement.” More:
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20110925/protesters-gather-for-pipeline-protest-110925/

KEYSTONE XL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT HEARINGS COMING TO YOUR AREA
Background
www.ienearth.org

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would consist of approximately 1,711 miles of new 36-inch-diameter pipeline, with approximately 327 miles of pipeline in Canada and 1,384 miles in the U.S. TransCanada filed an application for a Presidential Permit with the U.S. Department of State to build and operate the Keystone XL Project. The proposed Project would have the capacity to transport 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to delivery points in Oklahoma and southeastern Texas.

On August 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of State released a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline saying the pipeline would have “no significant impact” on the environment. According to the U.S. administration, they are saying President Obama now has three months to determine whether the controversial project is in the national interest of America.

Our concerns with this FEIS are similar to the concerns of a previous pipeline project called Keystone (with no “XL” attached to it, sometimes called Keystone 1) and its final EIS that was done in 2008. The basic concern was the EIS was incomplete, and didn’t thoroughly address all the issues. Keystone XL fails to take seriously the potential damage to American Indian Tribes and their Tribal members in the States of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. These damages could threaten, among other things, water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the Tribal peoples of the region in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed. Lack of adequate consultation has been a consistent concern expressed by Tribal members of all the affected Tribal Nations who to this day have not been thoroughly informed of the potential effects of this pipeline.

With over 12 spills caused by the Keystone 1 pipeline, which runs through eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas with links to Missouri and Illinois, it is critical that the State Department take the potential environmental and cultural resource impacts seriously. The FEIS is not even requiring TransCanada, the company that hopes to build Keystone XL, to submit an emergency response plan before final approval. In spite of the reported spills on Keystone I, the XL EIS predicts 1.78 to 2.51 spills, of any size, per year.

Tribal Nations deserve and have a right to be thoroughly informed and have a truthful account of the damage Keystone XL can cause. The toxic corrosive crude oil that would flow through the Keystone XL pipeline comes from the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada. The tar sands are located in the homelands of the Cree, Dene and Métis communities. The pipeline will cross hundreds of miles of indigenous territory, including Lakota territory, and violate treaty rights under the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 as well as human rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

U.S executive approval is needed before the pipeline can be laid in place. The State Department has announced the schedule for a series of public input meetings in States along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Written comments will be accepted by the State Department until October 9th, 2011.

Public Hearings on Keystone XL Pipeline

Monday, September 26, 2011

Texas:
Bob Bowers Civic Center
3401 Cultural Center Dr., Port Arthur, 4:30 – 10 p.m.
Kansas:
Kansas Expo Center
1 Expocenter Dr., Topeka, noon – 3:30 p.m., 4– 8 p.m.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Montana:
Dawson Community College
Toepke Center Auditorium, 300 Community Dr., Glendive, 4:30 – 10 p.m.
Nebraska:
Pershing Center
226 Centennial Mall, South Lincoln, noon – 3:30 p.m., 4. – 8:00 p.m .

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Texas:
University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium,
2313 Red River St., Austin, noon – 3:30 p.m., 4 – 8 p.m.

Thursday, September 29, 2011
South Dakota:
Best Western Ramkota,
920 West Sioux Ave., Pierre, noon – 3:30 p.m., 4 – 8 p.m.
Nebraska:
West Holt High School, 100 N. Main St. Atkinson, 4:30 – 10 p.m.

Friday, September 30, 2011
Oklahoma:
Reed Center Exhibition Hall,
5800 Will Rogers Rd., Midwest City., noon – 3:30 p.m., 4 – 8 p.m.

Friday, October 7, 2011
Washington, D.C.: To be announced via website and public notice.

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/watch-live-tarsands-civil-disobedience.html

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

Organizers call San Francisco “flagship” event for worldwide campaign

Christopher Penalosa / KQED More than a thousand people marched down Market Street in San Francisco for the Moving Planet rally.

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Sarah Terry-Cobo, KQED News – Climate Watch, blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/

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About a thousand people marched in San Francisco on Saturday, chanting slogans, carrying signs and wearing costumes. But unlike many demonstrations that frequent the City by the Bay, the Moving Planet rally was one of hundreds around the world, calling for action and awareness to halt global climate change.

Organized by 350.org, the non-profit founded by author and activist Bill McKibben, the San Francisco rally brought together some predictable allies, such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Berkeley-based Ecology Center, but it also included groups with broader aims, such as the National Organization for Women, Food Not Bombs and 100,000 Poets for Peace. McKibben’s group is devoted to reducing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million (from the current 390 ppm), a number that some scientists estimate could stave off catastrophic effects of climate change.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Bill McKibben addresses the crowd at the Moving Planet rally in San Francisco

“Every country on Earth — except for probably, North Korea — is having rallies around this wonky data point, 350 parts per million CO2,” said McKibben in an interview after addressing the San Francisco gathering.

n the absence of national climate change legislation, McKibben told the crowd, it’s important to “put our bodies on the line.” The Vermont-based activist is one of about 1,200 people that was arrested August 20 for protesting in front of the White House the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

Michael Brune, President of the national Sierra Club noted that his organization was the first to create “blue-green” alliances between environmental and labor groups.

“What we’re trying to do is find a way to make this an issue that brings us together, that doesn’t divide folks, so this doesn’t punish one industry and reward another,” said Brune in a separate interview.

Brune added that the Sierra Club is working with clean technology companies to ramp up renewable energy. “We firmly believe the road to a clean energy future is one that will make our country more economically resilient,” he said.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Carl Anthony, a long-time Bay Area activist for environmental and social justice, addressed the crowd.

Another focus of the afternoon rally was the connection to environmental justice, the concept that poor communities and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by pollution of all types. Carl Anthony, founder of Urban Habitat, one of the nation’s oldest environmental justice organizations, spoke to an energetic crowd packed into Civic Center Plaza. He emphasized that people, not just polar bears, are affected by climate change.

“Global warming is a climate justice issue,” he told the rally. “The people of color, the poor people, the indigenous people will bear the burden of climate change, even though they, less than anyone else, are responsible for our CO2 emissions.”

He continued, “This means that any solution we come up with for climate change must also be a solution for social and racial justice.”

“We have the opportunity in California, to take money away from suburban sprawl…to rebuild a public transportation system that works for poor people as well as rich people,” Anthony said, citing the Sustainable Communities legislation that would redirect $218 billion to rebuild public transportation.

Many people took public transit to the day’s event. Cassie Barr rode BART to the rally from Oakland with her six-year-old son, Philip. She said she wanted to make a statement that people should do more to avert climate change and that she supports an outright tax on carbon emissions. “I think it’s the only way to get businesses — corporations — serious about lowering their CO2 levels,” said Barr.

Jordan Pacheco also took BART from Moraga with his five-year-old daughter, Macy, “…because this is her planet too.” Pacheco works for the solar panel installation company Sungevity, on the firm’s design and engineering team.

In the future, he said, “I would like to see a more openness to any kind of alternative energy, whether its solar, wind, anything. I think the politics have taken over to the point where there’s no common sense anymore.”

Chris Penalosa / KQED Employees from Sungevity hold a parachute painted with a depiction of the Earth.

Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael helped to organize participation from Marin county. In recent years, activists there won state approval for a community-owned energy company, after much resistance from the investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric, he said.

“There are many sources of renewables: hydro, solar wind, or methane and with the funding to our local power provider, they are able to buy that energy but [also] create a local marketplace for additional generators of that clean electricity,” said Carney.

Falling back on a familiar metaphor with a global warming theme, Carney said, “Events like this really are the tip of the iceberg of public awareness that is really growing by leaps and bounds.”

More:

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http://blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/2011/09/24/a-thousand-descend-on-san-francisco-for-climate-rally/

Communities Can Get Their Water Systems Back; They Just Have to Will it!

 

Communities Can Get Their Water Systems Back; They Just Have to Will it!

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Posted 23 September 2011, by Rich Bindell, Food & Water Watch, foodandwaterwatch.org

 

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Food & Water Watch helped achieve a major victory against water privatization in Illinois last month. Midwest Region Organizer Emily Carroll, state legislators (including Emily McAsey, the co-sponsor of the bill in the IL House of Representatives), and water advocates, pushed hard for legislation that will allow multiple communities sharing a drinking water or sewer system to take back their system from water corporations/private utilities. This legislation was inspired by six municipalities in Will County, served by a system that is owned by Illinois American Water. Five of the six municipalities, tired of skyrocketing water rates and poor water service, wanted to re-municipalize, but Illinois American Water repeatedly refused to sell it back to the public.

Passing this bill was no easy task, but over 1,000 Food & Water Watch activists e-mailed their state representatives, coordinated calls to the Governor’s office and helped deliver almost 2,000 petitions to garner support of the bill.

Normally, it can be very difficult to take back control of a water system once it has been privatized, particularly if multiple municipalities are served by the same system. However, thanks to this new legislation, these communities can form a water agency and, using eminent domain, take back their water system to ensure public ownership and operation. This bill sets a strong precedent for other communities who also wish to take back their water system from a private entity. We congratulate Emily, our volunteers, and the communities of Will County, Illinois for being diligent in their fight against water privatization!

 

Related: Water Privatization

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http://foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/communities-can-get-their-water-systems-back-they-just-have-to-will-it/

Navajo President fails the Earth and the Navajo People

Navajo President fails the Earth and the Navajo People

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Posted 23 September 2011, by Calvin Johnson, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Navajo President Ben Shelly, who urged the protection of the earth and respect for Dine’ culture at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, has line item vetoed the Navajo Green  Economy Office.
President Shelly’s words to the world will be meaningless if he continues to promote coal-fired power plants. The Navajo Nation already has three coal-fired power plants, with coal mines, and Shelly is pushing for another coal fired power plant.

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TOO LITTLE TO LATE
NAVAJO PRESIDENT MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY IN FEBRUARY 2011 TO SAVE THE PEAKS

By Calvin Johnson, Navajo from Leupp, Ariz.

Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

Calvin Johnson

This is a response to a video of Navajo President Ben Shelly at the United Nations making a plea for Protection of San Francisco Peaks. The Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly as a leader of Navajo Nation had a prime opportunity in February of 2011 to negotiate usage of reclaimed water of San Francisco Peaks. At the time, The City of Flagstaff wanted to drill 6 new wells utilizing C-Aquifer on Red Gap Ranch which is city-owned land near Winslow. Then Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly then threatened to file a suit against the City of Flagstaff. But then in May of 2011, Navajo Nation and City of Flagstaff agreed to a deal regarding C-Aquifer water usage of up to 2.6 trillion gallons a year.

Why would the Navajo Nation agree to such a deal when the City of Flagstaff is selling reclaimed water for skiing? The Navajo Nation President missed the prime opportunity to negotiate the taking of the reclaimed water usage off the table. This is so (bleeped) up!!!

The City of Flagstaff wants to use clean Navajo water underlying the Navajo Nation but the Nation buckles down to City of Flagstaff (Non-Natives including Corporations). I wished our Navajo Nation leaders would take a stand and defend human rights and protect sacred sites, period.

Now am watching the video of Ben Shelly pleading for help, it is sickening — am sorry this is not defending human rights and protecting sacred sites. Maybe this will be a lesson learned from our leaders. But kudos for finally speaking up.

Calvin Johnson
PO Box 5527
Leupp, AZ 86035

Also see: Anna Rondon: Navajo president vetoes Navajo Green Economy Office funding
http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/anna-rondon-navajo-president-vetoes.html

 

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/navajo-president-fails-earth-and-navajo.html