Category Archives: Africa

El Nino brings a massive famine to Africa


The same temperature changes in east/west ocean currents that bring heavy rains to the Western Hemisphere bring drought to Africa and Southern Asia.

And as India swelters under record heat, Africa has been suffering from heat and drought, and with them, crop failures and livestock death on a massive scale.

The end result is famine.

From the Observer:

The scale of the crisis unfolding in 10 or more southern African countries has shocked the United Nations. Lulled into thinking that Ethiopia in 1985 was the last of the large-scale famines affecting many millions, donor countries have been slow to pledge funds or support. More than $650m and 7.9m tonnes of food are needed immediately, says the UN. By Christmas, the situation will have become severe.

Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Madagascar, Angola and Swaziland have already declared national emergencies or disasters, as have seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Other countries, including Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have also been badly hit. President Robert Mugabe has appealed for $1.5bn to buy food for Zimbabwe and Malawi is expected to declare that more than 8 million people, or half the country, will need food aid by November.

More than 31 million people in the region are said by the UN to need food now, but this number is expected to rise to at least 49 million across almost all of southern Africa by Christmas. With 12 million more hungry people in Ethiopia, 7 million in Yemen, 6 million in Southern Sudan and more in the Central African Republic and Chad, a continent-scale food crisis is unfolding.

“Food security across southern Africa will start deteriorating by July, reaching its peak between December 2016 and April 2017,” says the UN’s office for humanitarian affairs. The regional cereal deficit already stands at 7.9m tonnes and continues to put upward pressure on market prices, which are already showing unprecedented increases, diminishing purchasing power and thereby reducing food access. As food insecurity tightens and water scarcity increases due to the drought, there are early signs of acute malnutrition in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabawe.

More from Der Spiegel:

Meteorologists believe the natural disaster is linked to a climate phenomenon that returns once every two to seven years known as El Niño, or the Christ child, a disruption of the normal sea and air currents that wreaks havoc on global weather patterns. The El Niño experienced in 2015-2016 has been particularly strong.

The German news magazine also published a map of the affected regions:

BLOG Drought

Rallies across the world: March Against Monsanto


Narch agagaist Monstanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

March against Monsanto protesters in Mtubatuba, South Africa today.

Monsanto, the folks who brought you Roundup and all those patented Roundup Ready genetically modified crops they peddle, was the target and marches and rallies in more than 400 cities across the global today by folks angry at the firm’s control of so much of the world’s food supplies.

Big Agra’s been in a state of flux of late, with major mergers in the offing, as BBC News reported Thursday, when Bayer announced it wanted to buy the company:

There has been speculation for some months that Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, could become a target for either Bayer or BASF.

Bayer, which has a market value of about $90bn, is the second-largest producer of crop chemicals after Syngenta.

Monsanto, which has a market capitalisation of $42bn, attempted to buy Swiss rival Syngenta last year.

However, Syngenta ended up accepting a $43bn offer from ChemChina in February, although that deal is still being reviewed by regulators in the US.

Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto is expected to be bigger in value than the ChemChina-Syngenta deal.

More from Reuters:

Deutsche Bank analysts said a deal could shift Bayer’s center of gravity to agriculture, accounting for about 55 percent of core earnings, up from roughly 28 percent last year excluding the Covestro chemicals business Bayer plans to sell.

That would have a negative impact on sentiment among Bayer’s healthcare-focused investor base, the bank said.

Bayer, which has a market value of $90 billion, said the merger would create “a leading integrated agriculture business”, referring to Bayer’s push to seek more synergies from combining the development and sale of seeds and crop protection chemicals.

Most of the major agrichemical companies are aiming to genetically engineer more robust plants and custom-build chemicals to go with them, selling them together to farmers who are struggling to contend with low commodity price.

And, just for the fun of it, some voideos from around the world and an image or two.

First, the march in Saarbrücken, Germany, from Heidi Schmitt:

March against Monsanto, 21.05.2016 in Saarbrücken

On to Paris, via Ruptly TV:

France: Parisians rally against Monsanto

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Paris on Saturday for the ‘March against Monsanto,’ in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation. Protesters held banners reading: “GMO/Pesticides = the next sanitary scandal” and “GMO no thanks.”

The activists are protesting against Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) products and the alleged monopoly that Monsanto has in the food supply market.

Saturday’s march will mark the fourth annual ‘March against Monsanto.’ The march is set to take place in over 400 cities in more than 40 countries around the world.

Then off to Innsbruck, Austria with Klaus Schreiner:

2016 Monsanto Marsch Innsbruck

And then back to France and a march in Bordeaux from Gilbert Hanna:

Contre Monsanto and CO à Bordeaux marche internationale

Next, Amsterdam, via kafx:

March against Monsanto

And an image from Basel, Switzerland, via GM Watch:BLOG Monsanto Basel

Then to Toronto, via SupportLocalScene:

March Against Monsanto 2016 at Yonge & Dundas

Program notes:

Yonge and Dundas sees the Millions March Against Monsanto 2016 marching in downtown Toronto, Canada, May 21st 2016.

Next, an image form New York by Alex Beauchamp:

BLOG Monsanto NYC

Then to Japan with Ruptly TV:

Japan: Thousands protest against Monsanto in Tokyo

Program notes:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Tokyo for the ‘March against Monsanto’ on Saturday, in a demonstration against multinational agrochemical corporation.

Finally, via GM Watch, a scene from China:

BLOG Monsanto Taipei

Quote of the day II: Hillary, just another killer


The hand of American imperialism is covered in blood, and Hillary Clinton is well suited to picked up the sanguinary presidential gauntlet.

From journalist John Pilger, writing at his website:

Since 1945, some 69 countries – more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – have suffered some or all of the following. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted and their people bombed. The historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. With the demise of the European empires, this has been the project of the liberal flame carrier, the “exceptional” United States, whose celebrated “progressive” president, John F Kennedy, according to new research, authorised the bombing of Moscow during the Cuban crisis in 1962.

“If we have to use force,” said Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state in the liberal administration of Bill Clinton and today a passionate campaigner for his wife, “it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

One of Hillary Clinton’s most searing crimes was the destruction of Libya in 2011. At her urging, and with American logistical support, NATO, launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, according to its own records, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. See the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. Read the UNICEF report on the children killed, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.

In Anglo-American scholarship, followed slavishly by the liberal media on both sides of the Atlantic, influential theorists known as “liberal realists” have long taught that liberal imperialists – a term they never use – are the world’s peace brokers and crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. They have taken the humanity out of the study of nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves warmongering power. Laying out whole nations for autopsy, they have identified “failed states” (nations difficult to exploit) and “rogue states” (nations resistant to western dominance).

Map of the day: Mideastern religious divisions


From The Economist:

BLOG Theomap

Headline of the day: JFK’s spooks hard at work


From BBC News:

Nelson Mandela: CIA tip-off led to 1962 Durban arrest

  • Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a report says.
  • The revelations, made in the Sunday Times newspaper, are based on an interview with ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard shortly before he died.
  • Mr Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990.

A remarkable interview with a great journalist


If any single journalist embodies the finest traditions of American reportage, it’s Seymour Hersh, the son of East European immigrants who rose to the heights of his calling and continues to break major stories at the age of 79.

His latest book, The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, exposes the lies of the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used to conceal the reality of the extrajudicial murder of Pakistani political prisoner Osama bin Laden.

In this wide-ranging interview by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Hersch answers questions not only about the killing of America’s most wanted man, but also about the dark side of America’s war on Syria, the duplicity of American politicians, covert operations, and the nature of journalism itself.

It’s the finest interview of Hersch we’ve even seen, and it’s well worth your time.

From TYT Interviews:

Seymour Hersh Interview With The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur

Program notes:

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks interviews the premier investigative journalist of his generation, Seymour Hersh. Seymour Hersh is the author of ten books, including his latest, titled “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.” Read some of Seymour Hersh’s work http://www.newyorker.com/contributors…

In this TYT interview Seymour Hersh and Cenk Uygur cover a range of topics, including:

  • Why did the Osama bin Laden operation go down the way it did? Why not take him alive? Should the perpetrators – from Seal Team 6 to Obama himself-be prosecuted for murder?
  • The politics around the death of Osama bin Laden.
  • Why were Osama bin Laden’s wives never questioned by US interrogators?
  • Oil’s impact on foreign policy, in particular Turkey and ISIS.
  • Conspiracy theories and the U.S. government spying on the public.
  • How he became an investigative reporter and developed his style and approach.
  • His thoughts on the state of investigative journalism today.
  • What benefit does the US get from our alliance with Saudi Arabia? What about Israel?
  • What do you think was Saudi Arabia’s involvement in planning and funding the 9/11 attacks?
  • What is the US objective in Syria? Do we have any hope of accomplishing it?

Follow Seymour Hersh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeymourHersh
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CenkUygur

Hypocriticial protest of the week: A walkout


Why hypocritical?

Well, see that last paragraph [emphasis added].

From Al Jazeera English:

Uganda’s veteran president, Yoweri Museveni, vowed to fight corruption as he was sworn in to a fifth term in office, but some Western officials walked out of the ceremony when he mocked the International Criminal Court.

US, Canadian and European representatives abruptly left the inauguration on Thursday after Museveni, controversially re-elected to a fifth term as president in February, described the ICC as “a bunch of useless people” and said he no longer supported it.

The US State Department said it also objected to the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide.

“We believe that walking out in protest is an appropriate reaction to a head of state mocking efforts to ensure accountability for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly when his country has committed to accountability as a state party to the Rome Statute (that established the court),” Elizabeth Trudeau, a spokeswoman, said.

The US does not participate in the ICC and has not signed the Rome Statute.