Category Archives: Economical affairs

Further glimpses on Latin America

With Let South America come to you #1 Reasons to stay away from South America, Let South America come to you #2 For those with a good taste, The Science Says Everyone Needs a COVID-19 Booster Shot—and Soon we had a look at South America.

This Month’s Region of the World: Latin America has a look at the huge region where many of the people in this region are spiritually blinded to the hope of the Gospel by the darkness of false religion.

In line with those articles you may be interested to read further how most of Latin America is still far from the horrific conditions prevailing in Venezuela, where output has fallen by a staggering 75% since 2013. But, given the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe there, and the spectre of political instability elsewhere, investors should not take a sustained economic recovery for granted.

The current disconnect between market calm and underlying social tensions is perhaps nowhere more acute than in Latin America. The question is how much longer this glaring dissonance can continue. > Under the Latin American Volcano

While the United States and other advanced economies are returning to normalcy, Colombia reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to date during the last week of June. > Colombia’s Triple Crisis

Once a peripheral presence in Latin America, China has become one of the region’s most important partners. Bilateral trade expanded from $12 billion in 2000 to over $300 billion in 2020, raising China’s share of the region’s total trade from 1.7% to 14.4%. China has also become an increasingly significant source of foreign direct investment in Latin America, accounting for nearly 10% of inflows in recent years. > How Latin America Should Navigate US-China Tensions

At a glance, the Latin American venture capital and startup market appears similar to what we’ve seen from other growing ecosystems. Like the U.S., Canadian, European, Indian and African startup hubs, Latin America is seeing venture capital activity set records. Early-stage venture capital fund Newtopia VC launched Monday with $50 million to invest in tech startups based in Latin America. > Why Latin American venture capital is breaking records this year

Big problem in several Latin-american countries is the repression. In Brazil police actions against peasant areas have intensified since the announcement of “Operation Rondônia,” using federal and state forces to repress the just peasant struggle in the region and particularly the combative and honorable peasant organization LCP – League of Poor Peasants of Rondônia and Western Amazonia. The troops of Bolsonaro and the military police (MP) of the governor of Rondônia, the puppet of landowners, Colonel MP Marcos Rocha, seek to concentrate forces to attack, acting shamelessly with the support of paramilitary forces, actually hitmen in the pay of the latifundium [large, monopolistic landowners -Ed.], under the cover of a “private security” company. > Brazil: Bolsonaro National Force, Military Police, and Gunmen Shoot at Peasants.

The situation is very serious, all the more so because the fascist and genocidal Bolsonaro himself, gives free rein to landowners and murderous troops to commit their crimes against peasants with impunity, as denounced in a statement by the LCP, “Bolsonaro arms landowners and says the police can kill peasants who will go unpunished”

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Let South America come to you #2 For those with a good taste

When you can not go to South America, why do you not bring South America into your home?

For those with a good taste

From waterfalls to wines

South America is the continent that is home to a vast array of rich cultures, history, traditions, food, and once-in-a-lifetime places to visit.

Angel Falls, Venezuela | © David Kjelkerud / Flickr

When you would love to go exploring South America it would not be bad to prepare yourself and to get already some taste of it before you take the long voyage. A place you have to visit is the waterfall in the Guiana Highlands in Bolívar state, southeastern Venezuela, on the Churún River. Before you would like to fly over Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, coming in at over 3000 feet it would not be bad to feel a bit like an angel tasting all sorts of well-tasting goods from that continent, which will bring you to the seventh heaven.

You also do not have to go straight away, deep in the Amazonian rainforest to find a melting pot of indigenous traditions and a perfect place to see centuries of Peruvian history and culture coming together.

Before you would go to the Belén Market, the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon, and a place where visitors can taste and see the food, textiles, and wares of the region, on the web there is a place where you already can have a peep-show of some handicrafts from the South American continent

Mendoza, Argentina

Wines

As state and local governments order people to stay home to limit the spread of the virus, toilet paper and canned goods are not the only items people are snapping up. Wine sales at wine shops are soaring and large, highly-distributed wine brands are struggling to keep wines on the shelf.

Meanwhile, small wineries that depend on restaurants and on-site sales are trying to figure out how to survive. The question on the mind of everyone in the wine business is what will things look like on the other side when they get the virus under control.

Having poached the Malbec grape from Europe and turned it into a roaring superstar, Argentina is rightly celebrated for its wine producers.

The Mendoza region, in the western central part of the country in the Cuyo region, dominates Argentina’s wine scene. It enjoys prestige for the wine produced on its vineyards. It also can be refreshing to see genuine contenders from elsewhere, such as the Bodegas Callia from the San Juan province.

In the Mendoza region, you may find one of the original Bordeaux grape varieties from the Bordeaux region of France, namely Malbec. Because grown on a higher altitude then in France the wines tend to have a higher level of acid, which makes them ideal to go with the Argentinian meat.

The Cabernet Sauvignon which was introduced in Argentina in the 19th century by the French agricultural engineer Michel Amié Pouget. He further introduced Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Malbec vines to Argentina and founded the first vine nursery and agricultural school in his new country.

Located in the Tulum Valley, Bodegas Callia aims to produce the best Shiraz in Argentina.

Since we cannot go to South America, we will have to bring the heat and sun here. And what better way to do so than with a few good bottles of wine? Certainly when those wines earn it to keep on the palate.

Navarro Correas Cabernet Sauvignon 2016The dry, hot climate of Argentina is really great for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes ripen very easily, so these Cabs are almost always filled with tons of blackberries, cherry, pepper and vanilla with a little bit of mint. If you like rich, full-bodied wines with dark fruit flavours, then you might want to try a Cabernet Sauvignon from Navarro Correas Private Collection which since a few moths you now easily can get over here in Europe by an excellent deliverer.

When you are looking for a nice rich tempting wine with a big, nutty, creamy nose or bitter cherry awash with orange peel and gravely splendour, you might find it at Pequeña SudAmerica.

As the second largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the world by land mass, Argentina could even offer much more in case the country would have been more organised and receiving more support from those in charge.

Beers

Beer Trial PackStylistically Argentina is perhaps the most European of Latin American countries, especially when it comes to cuisine. You can find the traditional wineries (the world’s fifth biggest wine producer) and you also may find the principal beer types which were based on central European styles of lager and wheat beer. It is impossible to taste every beer produced in South America, Pequeña Sudamerica offers a very good selection of 6 or 7 selected beers in a trial pack.

The historical influences in South America which have created a cuisine that offers a variety of delicacies has also brought some very, very tempting sweets around the corner. For diabetics is it not always so easy, because a lot of sweets and drinks are very sweet.
But nimble fingers and kitchen princesses can already prepare a lot for those who want a taste of that delicious South America.

Craftworks

It might not always be easy to bring Argentinian wines over to Europe, but for traditional artisans, it is even more difficult to get their goods over to Europe. Those craftsmen in particular have serious difficulties to virtuously market their products.

Carla Scalia

Carla Scalia

With corona-restrictions the Argentinian Carla Scalia, now living in Belgium, could only go twice to her home country to bring some beautiful handicrafts from her family and friends with her. Therefore those craft works are very limited. And because they are not made in a factory they are all individual pieces of art, which makes them special. This makes that when you might see some sculptures or drawing on the website, next time you come onto the website they already might be gone.

Mate Alados by Noelia Álvarez

All the South American accessories Pequeã SudAmerica is offering are hand made by local artists, and by selecting it properly at the artist’s workshop this is how they ensure to always offer you the best quality. As such they present mate cups of the best quality in an exclusive and unique design, hand painted and varnished for complete protection.

You also shall be able to find a selection of original accessories for your kitchen and table.

From the southern United States to northern South America the Lignum vitae, with its evergreen leaves can be found. As a source of a very hard and heavy wood that is brownish green in colour, the wood being relatively waterproof because of its high fat content, makes it ideal for making kitchen utilities. It is used to make pulleys, shafts, axles, and bowling balls, and Pequeña SudAmerica is offering the tropical wood in magnificent small objects, like food and toothpicks.

Argentinian artist Noelia Álvarez, who has performed incredible exhibitions in San Rafael, Mendoza and Buenos Aires in Argentina and Catalonia, Spain, is not only responsible for a great variety of mate cups with a unique design. Although her work focuses on paintings with incredible designs and details, Noelia has taken her passion to the limit and from painting large murals and paintings in acrylic on canvas, she designed very beautiful and exclusive wooden mate cups.

For sure, the founders of the webshop Pequeã Sudamerica took great risks to start their business to bring Sud American articles to the European continent, whilst there was and still is a Coronacrisis, limiting them going back and forth to Argentina to contact local traders, to support them and offer them a fair price for their goods. At the moment Carla Scalia her parent’s wines are not yet available, but perhaps this would be made possible in the future (when some good shipping arrangements could be organised).

Pequeña Sudamérica, or “Little South America”, has the goal to make South Americans in Europe taste home again, and get Europeans to experience their great specialities.
In addition to the best known mate tea brands, you shall be able to find a wide variety of drinks, delicacies and accessories.

We would say:

Enjoy some chocolate and dulce de leche products at your afternoon tea.

And enjoy South America at your home in our wet regions, so that the sun (at least) may shine in your house.

*

Please find the shop:  https://pequena-sudamerica.eu/en/

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Preceding

Let South America come to you #1 Reasons to stay away from South America

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Related

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  2. Wonderful Place!
  3. Aerial view of Churun Meru in Canaima National Park, Venezuela
  4. Angel Falls, Venezuela by Gabriel Riva
  5. Angel Falls, Venezuela by Austin Shaffer
  6. Angel Falls, Venezuela
  7. 10 Best Places to Visit in Argentina – Travel Video
  8. Haurez
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  10. Buenos Aires Electronic Music Travel Guide by Forma
  11. Dalwhinnie Shiraz 2006 Wine Review
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The Iranian American Frieda Afary looking with (republican?) American eyes at Iran

We wonder where the Iranian American Frieda Afary  gets it from that it would be

leftists and so-called socialists around the world who support the Iranian regime as “anti-imperialist” or refuse to criticize it.

Lots of leftists and communists groups are totally against the Iranian regime and any form of oppression of citizens in general. We do know that there are several by Americans “so called leftists” or “communists” are doing good work to support people in Iran and Afghanistan and even are working hard to get them out of the hands of the Islamic murderers.

Frieda Afary should also wonder who is helping a lot of the protesters in Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. the “leftists” and “communists” are bringing slogans on the streets like:

“Down with Dictatorship.”, “Down With Khamenei”, “We Don’t Want An Islamic Republic”, “The People Want the Regime to Fall.”

InIran: A New Wave of Mass Protests and StrikesFrieda Afary for the rest of her wrong remark (perhaps part of her American citizenship and paranoia for everything that seems “social”) seems to bring a very good overview of the terrible situation. She also seems to overlook that there are leftist groups who support the people and not the regime, even though she brings the words of a statement of solidarity by the Tehran Bus Workers’ Syndicate:

“The lack of water in Khuzestan today is rooted in the unprofessional, rapacious and profit-centered policies of the prior decades of capitalism in oil extraction and use of water for the steel industry, the income from which does not go to the people.  These insatiable policies have deprived the people of Khuzestan of safe drinking water.  Water is shut off for long hours and it is lacking for basic needs.  Farmers and cattle growers have also been damaged and lost their livelihoods.”  (https://www.akhbar-rooz.com/%d8%b3%d9%86%d8%af%db%8c%da%a9%d8%a7%db%8c-%d8%b4%d8%b1%da%a9%d8%aa-%d9%88%d8%a7%d8%ad%d8%af-%d8%b3%d8%b1%da%a9%d9%88%d8%a8-%d9%88-%da%a9%d8%b4%d8%aa%d8%a7%d8%b1-%d9%85%d8%b1%d8%af%d9%85-%d8%ac%d8%a7/)

She writes:

The latest protests have followed a series of nationwide strikes of temporary contract workers in Iran’s oil and gas industry which is also heavily based in Khuzestan. The strikes which began on June 19 and have spread to a hundred production sites, are demanding permanent employment status, a $500 monthly wage, safe working conditions and the right to organize and be free of police surveillance. Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers on strike in Khuzestan are also asking for COVID vaccination and expressing solidarity with protests against the lack of water.

In her interesting article she further looks at:

  • Economic Crisis and COVID Pandemic
  • Women Prisoners and Afghan Refugees
  • Iran’s Continuing Regional Ambitions and U.S. Imperialism’s “Solutions”
  • Needed Progressive Solidarity with Struggles inside Iran

Any effort to engage in solidarity with the struggles inside Iran begins not only with calling for the removal of U.S. sanctions and an end to Israel’s attacks, but also simultaneously holding the Iranian regime accountable for its repression and exploitation of the people and environment of the region.

Frieda Afary should know that several “leftist”, “socialists” and “communists” groups go against all the American interferences in the Middle East and urge for the immediate release of political prisoners, expressing solidarity with striking workers, feminist and environmental struggles, oppressed ethnic, sexual and religious minorities, and demanding Iran’s withdrawal from Syria, Iraq and an end to its interventions in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Yemen.

Please find the article to read > Iran: A New Wave of Mass Protests and Strikes

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Iran’s water crisis stokes another round of protests

The 42 years of Islamic fundamentalism proved that this so religious system is as corrupt like any other system where people in power try to earn as much they can for themselves (at the cost of the population).

We shall have to face not only political refugees but soon more ecological refugees.

Democracy for Iran

By Struan Stevenson

July 26 (UPI) –Prior to the 1979 revolution, Iran’s population of 34 million people relied on a stable water supply, sourced from millennia-old underground canals and aquifers. The Iranian revolution, hijacked by the mullahs, changed all that.

The theocratic regime handed control of the nationalized water industry — and indeed over 80% of all other business, industrial and service sectors — to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime’s equivalent of the Gestapo. The IRGC answers directly to the elderly supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It pays no tax and corruptly siphons vast financial resources into its own pockets and into financing proxy wars and terrorism across the Middle East and further afield.

The IRGC members use oil revenues stolen from the Iranian people to race ahead with the clandestine construction of a nuclear weapon and ballistic missile delivery systems capable of reaching Tel Aviv, Israel…

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Plastic Free July is coming

In Belgium the government has already done somewhat to avoid plastic waste. Nowhere in shops and supermarkets, plastic bags are presented. Vegetables can be bought by placing them in the basket without a bag, or with paper bags provided by the shop, or in the reusable cotton bags.

Ear buds and a lot of body-care and make-up items are now all made of paper. But for the reusable cups, it is striking that they are not yet sufficiently reused … So there is still a lot of work to be done.

 

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Preceding

Plastic world under control

Helping end plastic waste

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Additional reading

  1. Freshwater, marine and coastal pollution
  2. The European Union – the environmental challenges and your voice
  3. Stepping forward with public commitments for Making different sectors carbon neutral by 2050
  4. Green Deal: new EU rules on limiting importing and exporting plastic waste

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Further related

  1. Plastic Pollution
    Too Much Plastic Waste on the Beaches
  2. How ‘Forever’ Can Be Destructive
  3. Plastics Waste in the Time of CoronaPlastic and Ocean
  4. Global Plastic Waste Contributors
  5. Plastic waste’s poisonous journey through food chain
  6. Ocean Plastic: Women Who Bear the Brunt, Women Who are at the Front
  7. The Future of our Oceans: Are we getting ‘Hung Up’ on the wrong issue?
  8. Formations of different Plastic
  9. Are your clothes feeding the fish?
  10. Just Keep Recycling: How Can We Save Our Oceans From Fashion Pollution?
  11. Reducing Our Plastic Waste Footprint
  12. What Is Plastic Waste & Why It Is The World’s Biggest Problem?
  13. These Four Plastic Items Make Up Almost Half Of All Ocean Trash
  14. Drive to rid world of plastic bags in spotlight
  15. EU bans some single use plastics
  16. Different Plastic Types & Which Types of Plastic can be Recycled?
  17. Microbes in cow stomachs can help break down plastic
  18. New method turns biodegradable plastics into foam to combat pollution
  19. An End to Pennsylvania’s Preemption on Local Single-use Plastic Laws?
  20. 5 Sneaky Plastics To Avoid This Plastic-Free July
  21. A Guide To Plastic Free July
  22. Thousands Sign Petition To Ban Plastic Packaging For All Non-Food Items

Recycle IT

What can you do this July?

Plastic Free July®is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics? Choosing to refuse plastic packaging in July might be an option for you!

Ask you family, friends, sports club or office to commit stop buying or using items packed in single-use plastic. Swap to a reusable alternative. For example, you could swap out takeaway coffee cups for a reusable one, you could start buying plastic-free toothbrushes or use a personal reusable water bottles and so on.

Plastic Free Poster 1

Can you Refuse’ Single Use Plastic?

Each year in July people all over the world aim to exclude plastic bottles, cutlery, fruit packing, coffee cup lids and other common…

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Having a problem with wonkiness…

In the European Union there are so many rules and regulations that certain things become a little bit ridiculous or do more damage than good.

When looking at the food stands, is there something you notice?

We have been trained to look for “beauty” and became accustomed that vegetables have to look a certain way to be good.

Beauty standards for food? Sounds crazy right? The function of food is to nourish and fuel our bodies, and yet every day, without our input or knowledge, perfectly edible food is being discarded around the world because it does not fulfil an arbitrary standard.

And to be clear, this is not a standard of whether it is edible, it could be that it’s been classified too small, too big, too pitted, blemished… wonky. Sounds familiar right? A standard on aesthetics that is being imposed by invisible faces. We treat our food like we treat out bodies – as items that need to be perfect, blemish free, symmetrical and picture-perfect. This is utter lunacy – and hugely damaging.

Whilst millions struggle to ‘achieve’ a certain beauty standard promoted through fashion and social media, farmers and producers around the world are struggling in a similar way – trying to produce food, yet control nature to fit the box of what others have deemed acceptable.
But what happens when nature does not play ball?
Whilst food is the most essential element we need to survive and hugely energy (and water) intensive to produce… often it goes to waste. Ploughed back into field, left to rot, fed to animals. All because it doesn’t tick a box somewhere.

Read further: Beauty standards for food? We have a problem with wonkiness…

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A look at China wanting to be everywhere in the world

The last two decades we could see how china has more become a hyper capitalist state, it putting all interests in becoming the world-leader in all businesses no matter at what costs. Lots of people had to leave their house because they had to make a place for a great dam or for an immense stadium. Lots of people where put in small apartments with no garden because the government ordered them to move, making place for modern developments.

Nobody can ignore the neo-colonial expansion of China’s post-Mao economic model. The People’s Republic has become an economic superpower that has witnessed continued GDP growth while lifting millions out of poverty.

Head shot of Xi Jinping in 2019. He is wearing a black suit jacket, white shirt and a blue necktie.

Xi Jinping, (°1953), Chinese politician and government official who served as vice president of the People’s Republic of China (2008–13), general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP; 2012– ), and president of China (2013– ).

China wanted to show the world that it is able to restore overland trade routes from China to Central Asia and Europe — the ancient “Silk Road.” In Indonesia, president Xi Jinping of China introduced the concept of a “maritime Silk road,” which is essentially the already well-traveled sea corridor South from China to the Middle East and Europe.  In seven years of implementation, the initiative has become quite controversial, especially in the West.  The controversy is fuelled by a lack of transparency that makes it difficult to get reliable information on the financing involved in the initiative, as well as the specific projects and their terms. There are a growing number of academic efforts, however, to collect and analyse data on ‘The Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), with a consistent set of findings.

The republic got a lot of African countries in its power by giving them loans and workforce, though many of those Chinese worker were forced to go to work in Africa, often in very bad conditions and months away from their family. At the same time China uses the same colonial tactics of getting as much treasures from those ‘colonies’ as possible, even worse than King Leopold II of Belgium did with the Belgian colonies or other colonial countries did. [Belgium controlled 3 colonies and 3 concessions during its history, the Belgian Congo (modern DRC) from 1908 to 1960, and Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi) from 1922 to 1962. It also had a small concession in China and was a co-administrator of the Tangier International Zone in Morocco. ]

In a smart way the republic of China is gaining more control over several countries widely spread all over the world. By its technological and industrial espionage, it also managed to introduce its ‘own’ technological features in several capitalist countries, having created as such a good stable economic platform or insured economic outlet.

As the owings of developing countries to China have mushroomed debt sustainability is a mounting concern, exacerbated further by the impact of COVID-19 economic shut-downs.  China has given some short-term debt relief but it does not belong to the Paris Club of creditors, and sets its own rules and ethics. By now Beijing has those countries which can’t service their expensive loans in their clamps and power. Question might be if the loans will be converted into strategic extra-territorial acquisitions.

Sri Lanka, as a coveted geopolitical outpost of China, is a case in point. Since the end of the three-decade separatist war there, China’s role in the Indian Ocean has received much attention for its infamous debt-trap led extraterritorial approach. However, within Sri Lanka (and many African countries) the response is mixed – China is both the land grabber, the political influencer, the military supplier and the friendly brother capable of fuelling long-awaited economic growth.

The eyes of China are directed to countries often left aside by Europe and the United States of America, because too poor and of no economical interest because too dangerous or for being highly corrupt and conflict ridden zones. Counties who want some financial help from China may not have alliances with Taiwan or have to stop their relationship with them.

The narrative that China is engaging in problematic debt trap diplomacy has taken off since 2018. Coined the preceding year by an Indian pundit, the term implies that Beijing is purposely striking unsustainable debt-for-infrastructure deals with developing countries along the routes of its ubiquitous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, which a Chinese state-owned firm acquired via a ninety-nine-year lease in 2017 after the Sri Lankan government could not service its loans, has been cited repeatedly as evidence that the Chinese government is practicing debt trap diplomacy. Many countries which do not receive enough aid from Europe or the U.S. hope that China will help them. China does not show any interest in the conflicts those countries may have as long as their are enough goods to explore and to transport to China.
Certain countries are starting to see how China wants to integrate in as many countries as it can.

Poorly planned and badly executed energy and infrastructure deals involving China in Latin American countries like Venezuela and Ecuador have increasingly attracted critical headlines. Even in Europe, Beijing’s efforts to finance and build a railway between the capitals of Hungary and Serbia have run into obstacles and sparked backlash.
The colonial expansion of China is something we would have to watch with Argus eyes also investigating how they treat the people who work for their institutions of firms in that country where they so-called offer their help.
The Chinese government and the developing countries it partners with too often have failed to consult sufficiently with the people most directly affected by grandiose infrastructure projects.
The trending Chinese role model is that of an authoritarian goliath that can make its doctors and billionaires disappear while protecting favoured war-crime offenders and military regimes elsewhere, while meanwhile it exploits a lot of people and makes them work as slave labourers while the managers of the company rake in all the big money.

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155 million people across 55 territories suffering from severe food insecurity

The COVID-19 pandemic, protracted conflicts and climate change have created an untenable situation for the most vulnerable, with 155 million people across 55 territories suffering from severe food insecurity, sending acute hunger figures to a 5-year high.

That’s according to the Global Network Against Food Crises, an alliance of humanitarian partners working to prevent hunger and respond to food crises. The Network, which was founded by the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), released the findings of its 2021 Global Report on Food Crises on Wednesday, May 6.

The partners have issued an annual report on food crises since 2017, but this year’s publication presents the grimmest snapshot to date of global food insecurity. It reported that 20 million more people faced acute hunger in 2020 than the previous year.

20 Million More People Face Food Crises, As Acute Hunger Rates Rise to a 5-Year High

The Global Network Against Food Crises says while humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, on its own, it is insufficient to deal with the scale of the present crises. The Network says the answer also lies in peace and a transformation of global food systems.

“A system that has the most vulnerable people continuing to bear the greatest burden of global crises is broken. We must take this opportunity to transform food systems, reduce the number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance and contribute meaningfully to sustainable development and peaceful and prosperous societies,”

it said.

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To My Fellow Americans, From One of You

It is getting time more Americans come to their senses that when there shall be more deaths there shall not be much left over to take care of recovering economy.
It’s high time that Americans start realising they had one of the worst presidents America ever had and who did so much damage not only to the country, but also to the people, that the recovery or the making of America Great Again will take years if not decades in case they do not switch gear soon enough.

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

Hey! 

You!

You of the red, white, and blue. Of the free and the brave. Of the purple mountain’s majesty.

Yes, you.

I’m just like you, born of Lady Liberty, weaned on a mother’s milk of revolution and independence, all tied up with a Fourth of July bow. I can’t run away from who and what I am, even if I wanted to.

And I don’t. 

Right now I may reside outside the confines of the Nifty Fifty, but I’m still one of you. American parts. American made. I still care—deeply—about what happens in yon Motherland. I yearn to see the rollout of USA: Full Potential…and I still believe it’s there, buried under all the rhetoric and White noise.

So what I’m about to say, know I say with love: Holy shitballs, America, you have got to get your act together.

There are a LOT of you I don’t agree with…

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It’ s not me. It’s the monster

Globalization and neoliberalism. They’ve become the explanations du jour for the decimation of industries and the devastation of lives, for falling wages and slashed public spending. And there is, of course, truth to the claim. But capitalism was chewing up and spitting out its victims long before the market was globalised or liberalism became neo’d.

One of the great novels of the Great Depression, of the wretchedness of poverty in 1930s America, was written half a century before those words were invented. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  It tells the story of one family, the Joads, tenant farmers from Oklahoma, who are forced off their land by the banks, pushed into migrating to the promised land of California, and the even greater wretchedness they find in their Utopia. It is a story of the pitilessness of capitalism, the dignity of work, the horrors of migration, the disintegration of a family. It is in turns angry and tender, polemical and poetic, allegorical and melodramatic. Steinbeck does not ignore the history of the land and how it was acquired (‘Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away’), but he unquestioningly stands with the farmers in their bewilderments and in their battles. There are times, especially in the second half of the book, where the anger seems to overwhelm the writing. But, given the subject, and given what Steinbeck set out to do – to ‘rip a reader’s nerves to rags ‘, as he himself put it – that is, perhaps, both inevitable and necessary.

– Kenan Malik

This is an extract from Chapter 5, that tells of how those responsible for evicting the farmers justified their actions. ‘We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster’. A passage and a book that feels as meaningful and vital today as it did when first published almost a century ago.


From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck,
Chapter 5

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath

The owners of the land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came. They came in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark the dust.

In the open doors the women stood looking out, and behind them the children – corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the toes working. The women and the children watched their men talking to the owner men. They were silent.

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank – or the Company – needs – wants – insists – must have – as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows. If the dust only wouldn’t fly. If the top would only stay on the soil, it might not be so bad.

The owner men went on leading to their point: You know the land’s getting poorer. You know what cotton does to the land; robs it, sucks all the blood out of it.

The squatters nodded – they knew, God knew. If they could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back into the land.

Well, it’s too late. And the owner men explained the workings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.

But – you see, a bank or a company can’t do that, because those creatures don’t breathe air, don’t eat side-meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don’t get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so.

Alexandre Hogue The Crucified Land

The squatting men raised their eyes to understand. Can’t we just hang on? Maybe the next year will be a good year. God knows how much cotton next year. And with all the wars – God knows what price cotton will bring. Don’t they make explosives out of cotton? And uniforms? Get enough wars and cotton’ll hit the ceiling. Next year, maybe. They looked up questioningly.

We can’t depend on it. The bank – the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.

Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feathers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants of the slops.

The squatting men looked down again. What do you want us to do? We can’t take less share of the crop – we’re half starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no clothes, torn an’ ragged. If all the neighbors weren’t the same, we’d be ashamed to go to meeting.

And at last the owner men came to the point. The tenant system won’t work any more. One man on a tractor can take the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don’t like to do it. But the monster’s sick. Something’s happened to the monster.

But you’ll kill the land with cotton.

We know. We’ve got to take cotton quick before the land dies. Then we’ll sell the land. Lots of families in the East would like to own a piece of land.

The tenant men looked up alarmed. But what’ll happen to us? How’ll we eat?

You’ll have to get off the land. The plows’ll go through the dooryard.

Clyfford Styll Gleaners

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little money. An’ we was born here. There in the door – our children born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit of what we raised.

We know that – all that. It’s not us, it’s the bank. A bank isn’t like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he isn’t like a man either. That’s the monster.

Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.

We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.

Yes, but the bank is only made of men.

No, you’re wrong there – quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks – they’re worse than Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did.

And now the owner men grew angry. You’ll have to go.

But it’s ours, the tenant men cried. We –

No. The bank, the monster owns it. You’ll have to go.

We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?

Well – first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.

But if we go, where’ll we go? How’ll we go? We got no money.

We’re sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can’t be responsible. You’re on land that isn’t yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.

James Edward Allen Praying for Rain

The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sunburned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were light. The women moved cautiously out of the doorways toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the women asked, What did he want?

And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of pain was in their eyes. We got to get off. A tractor and a superintendent. Like factories.

Where’ll we go? the women asked.

We don’t know. We don’t know.

And the women went quickly, quietly back into the houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

After a time perhaps the tenant man looked about – at the pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it.

The children crowded about the women in the houses. What we going to do, Ma? Where we going to go?

The women said, We don’t know, yet. Go out and play. But don’t go near your father. He might whale you if you go near him. And the women went on with the work, but all the time they watched the men squatting in the dust – perplexed and figuring.

Georgia O'Keeffe Bones and Red Hills

The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar.

Snubnosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat. The thunder of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it – straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the cat’, but the driver’s hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractors, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver’s hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him – goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it was nothing. If the young thrusting plant withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor – its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades – not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders – twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

At noon the tractor driver stopped sometimes near a tenant house and opened his lunch: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, white bread, pickle, cheese, Spam, a piece of pie branded like an engine part. He ate without relish. And tenants not yet moved away came out to see him, looked curiously while the goggles were taken off, and the rubber dust mask, leaving white circles around the eyes and a large white circle around nose and mouth. The exhaust of the tractor puttered on, for fuel is so cheap it is more efficient to leave the engine running than to heat the Diesel nose for a new start. Curious children crowded close, ragged children who ate their fried dough as they watched. They watched hungrily the unwrapping of the sandwiches, and their hunger- sharpened noses smelled the pickle, cheese, and Spam. They didn’t speak to the driver. They watched his hand as it carried food to his mouth. They did not watch him chewing; their eyes followed the hand that held the sandwich. After a while the tenant who could not leave the place came out and squatted in the shade beside the tractor.

Mervin Jules Dispossessed

‘Why, you’re Joe Davis’s boy!’

‘Sure’, the driver said.

‘Well, what you doing this kind of work for – against your own people?’

‘Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner – and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day.’

‘That’s right,’ the tenant said. ‘But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can’t eat at all. Nearly a hundred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your three dollars a day. Is that right?’

And the driver said, ‘Can’t think of that. Got to think of my own kids. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day. Times are changing, mister, don’t you know? Can’t make a living on the land unless you’ve got two, five, ten thousand acres and a tractor. Crop land isn’t for little guys like us any more. You don’t kick up a howl because you can’t make Fords, or because you’re not the telephone company. Well, crops are like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to get three dollars a day someplace. That’s the only way.’

The tenant pondered. ‘Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.’

And the tenant pondered more. ‘But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it – why, then the property is the man. He can’t do what he wants, he can’t think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.’

The driver munched the branded pie and threw the crust away. ‘Times are changed, don’t you know? Thinking about stuff like that don’t feed the kids. Get your three dollars a day, feed your kids. You got no call to worry about anybody’s kids but your own. You get a reputation for talking like that, and you’ll never get three dollars a day. Big shots won’t give you three dollars a day if you worry about anything but your three dollars a day.’

‘Nearly a hundred people on the road for your three dollars. Where will we go?’

‘And that reminds me’, the driver said, ‘you better get out soon. I’m going through the dooryard after dinner.’

‘You filled in the well this morning.’

‘I know. Had to keep the line straight. But I’m going through the dooryard after dinner. Got to keep the lines straight. And – well, you know Joe Davis, my old man, so I’ll tell you this. I got orders wherever there’s a family not moved out – if I have an accident – you know, get too close and cave the house in a little – well, I might get a couple of dollars. And my youngest kid never had no shoes yet.’

Clare Leighton Bread Line

‘I built it with my hands. Straightened old nails to put the sheathing on. Rafters are wired to the stringers with baling wire. It’s mine. I built it. You bump it down—I’ll be in the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I’ll pot you like a rabbit.’

‘It’s not me. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll lose my job if I don’t do it. And look – suppose you kill me? They’ll just hang you, but long before you’re hung there’ll be another guy on the tractor, and he’ll bump the house down. You’re not killing the right guy.’

‘That’s so’, the tenant said. ‘Who gave you orders? I’ll go after him. He’s the one to kill.’

‘You’re wrong. He got his orders from the bank. The bank told him, ‘Clear those people out or it’s your job.’

‘Well, there’s a president of the bank. There’s a board of directors. I’ll fill up the magazine of the rifle and go into the bank.’

The driver said, ‘Fellow was telling me the bank gets orders from the East. The orders were, ‘Make the land show profit or we’ll close you up.’‘

‘But where does it stop? Who can we shoot? I don’t aim to starve to death before I kill the man that’s starving me.’

‘I don’t know. Maybe there’s nobody to shoot. Maybe the thing isn’t men at all. Maybe like you said, the property’s doing it. Anyway I told you my orders.’

‘I got to figure’, the tenant said. ‘We all got to figure. There’s some way to stop this. It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We’ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that’s something we can change.’ The tenant sat in his doorway, and the driver thundered his engine and started off, tracks falling and curving, harrows combing, and the phalli of the seeder slipping into the ground. Across the dooryard the tractor cut, and the hard, foot-beaten ground was seeded field, and the tractor cut through again; the uncut space was ten feet wide. And back he came. The iron guard bit into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the little house from its foundation so that it fell sideways, crushed like a bug. And the driver was goggled and a rubber mask covered his nose and mouth. The tractor cut a straight line on, and the air and the ground vibrated with its thunder. The tenant man stared after it, his rifle in his hand. His wife was beside him, and the quiet children behind. And all of them stared after the tractor.

The images are all paintings and etchings from, and of, the Great Depression in America. They are from top down, Maynard Dixon, ‘Shapes of Fear’ (1930-32); Alexandre Hogue, ‘The Crucified Land’ (1939); Clyfford Still, ‘Gleaners’ (1936);  James Allen Lane, ‘Prayer for Rain’ (1938); Georgia O’Keefe, ‘Red Hills and Bones’ (1941); Mervin Jules, ‘Dispossessed’ (1938); Clare Leighton, ‘Bread Line’, (1932).

The image of The Grapes of Wrath is of the first edition in 1939.

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