By Frances Moore Lappé, YES! magazine:
In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life's essentials? Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise here in the United States—one in 10 of us is now turning to food stamps—these questions take on new urgency.
To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens making democracy work for them, real-life stories help—not models to adopt wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of Brazil's fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market—you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.
The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources—the “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo's food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city's participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010
By Frances Moore Lappé, YES! magazine:
From The Economist's book review of Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris; Farrar, Straus and Giroux:
Ian Morris, a polymathic Stanford University professor of classics and history, has written a remarkable book that may come to be as widely read as Paul Kennedy’s 1987 work, “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”. Like Mr Kennedy’s epic, Mr Morris’s “Why the West Rules—For Now” uses history and an overarching theory to address the anxieties of the present. Mr Kennedy warned American policymakers of the consequences of “imperial overstretch”, although it was the sudden implosion of the Soviet Union that proved the most spectacular vindication of his thesis.
For his part, Mr Morris sets out to show two things that are just as important; first that civilisations throughout history have waxed and waned, usually for reasons their rulers were powerless to influence, and second, that the West’s dominance of the past 200 years was neither inevitable nor “locked in” for the future.
Mr Morris’s refrain is “maps, not chaps”—the belief that human destiny is mostly shaped by geography and the efforts of ordinary people to cope with whatever is thrown at them in the form of climate change, famine, migration, disease and state failure (what the author describes as the “five horsemen of the apocalypse”). He argues that “history teaches us that when the pressure is on, change takes off.” According to what he calls, somewhat annoyingly, the Morris Theorem, “Change is caused by lazy, greedy, frightened people looking for easier, more profitable and safer ways of doing things. And they rarely know what they are doing.”
Among the many things the author sets out to explain is why, throughout human history, social development has gone in fits and starts, sometimes retreating in one place for a millennium or two before suddenly spurting forward again elsewhere. As a way of dramatising this, Mr Morris presents these ebbs and flows in the form of a contest between East and West. Why, he asks, did British boats shoot their way up the Yangzi in 1842 rather than Chinese ones up the Thames, and why do many more people from the East speak English than Europeans speak Mandarin?
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Pressure from Beijing appears to have led Nepalese authorities to seize ballot boxes in the centre of the country during voting across the world for members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
Below is a statement issued by the Office of the General Secretary of the UNPO:
The Hague, 5 October 2010 – The news that Nepalese officials and police have removed ballots containing votes cast by Tibetans in Kathmandu must be condemned in the strongest terms, the General Secretary of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization declared today.
Reacting to this unexplained development, UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin stated that “the Tibetan democratic process is one of the strongest in the world refugee communities – to see it disrupted in this way damages not only Nepal’s reputation but represents a direct affront to the Tibetan refugee community in the world. As a sovereign nation, Kathmandu must not allow itself to be swayed by Beijing’s influence while the international community supports Nepalese democracy.”
The UNPO therefore calls upon the Nepalese authorities to immediately release the confiscated ballot boxes in an untampered state and to permit the counting of ballots in a free and fair manner by concerned Tibetans. Only in this way does the UNPO believe Nepal can recover its standing as one of Asia’s emerging democracies and permit Tibetans living in country to see their democratic rights observed.
While appreciating the people and Government of Nepal for hosting over 20,000 Tibetan refugees in the country, UNPO urges the Nepalese Government to implement the recommendations from UN Treaty Bodies concerning the situation of refugees in the country, including by approving the registration of the Tibetan refugee welfare office in Kathmandu.
~ UNPO ~
The debut single from ESL Music's Federico Aubele heralds the arrival of someone special. Discovered and Produced by Thievery Corporation the Argentine soul of Aubele will move you.
RussiaToday--October 06, 2010--The Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors - the organization overseeing U.S. media directed at foreign audiences - says his organization needs to fight its enemies. And among those are Iran's Press TV, China's CCTV and RT. Political commentator Peter Lavelle says the chairman's statement puts him beyond real journalism
Copyright Russia Today 2010
From US Intelligence Report: Iran with Capability to Strike US by 2014 by John Greenewald, Jr.
The document, labeled a Military Intelligence Digest with a SECRET security marking, states that, “An ICBM with a Non-Rotating Earth (NRE) range of 10,000 kilometers would provide the Iranians with missile coverage of Alaska but would not allow them to target CONUS [Continental United States], owing to rotational effects of the Earth.” The report goes on to state that, “Iran might have the capability to develop and produce an ICBM that can strike the United States in the next 10 to 15 years.”
The release of this report was due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The Black Vault internet archive (http://www.theblackvault.com), a website devoted to obtaining and archiving declassified government documents released via the FOIA, filed back in 1997.
It took the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) nearly 13 years for them to process the request, which only yielded three pages of material; 85% of which is completely blacked out.
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