Gender and the Gulf Oil Spill

With every great catastrophe, land becomes a laboratory – from Hiroshima to Bhopal to the Gulf, new physics, chemistries and biologies of exposure, new teratologies, new mutations. And, always, women bear the brunt. Here’s the latest from the Gulf Spill from Truthout.

Responsibly Destroying the World’s Peasantry

Here’s an excellent piece by Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Food. He’s responding to the guidelines on landgrabbing published by the World Bank and others, suggesting that such codes of conduct are as enlightened as sustainable slavery or compassionate child abuse. More below the fold. Continue reading “Responsibly Destroying the World’s Peasantry”

Pride and a Paycheck

I’m a United Auto Worker. More specifically, I’m a member of The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

Honestly, I wish I had the skill to fashion aerospace and agricultural implements, but the only agricultural implement that I wield is my pen – and that’s how I got into the union. The National Writers Union is a correctly punctuated and fully affiliated member of UAW’s Local 1981, whose members include the excellent Holly Sklar and Ursula K Le Guin. In our newsletter recently came word of a fine project by one of my union sisters, Sue Doro. She’s a poet, writer and erstwhile machinist. She is also, of necessity, a historian/herstorian of tradeswomen’s organising. Hers are stories that rarely make it to the textbooks. “It chills me to know that workers [sic] history can be swept away like dirt on factory floors”, she says. Which is why one of her many projects is Pride and A Paycheck – a guide to blue collar jobs, tradeswoman news, photos, poetry and art. Women’s histories and workers’ histories are alive and well, because women workers are alive and well, and still hidden.

Via Down Under

For the first time, Via Campesina is traveling to Australia, thanks to the good folk at Food Connect. It’s going to be an interesting conversation – Australia is an agricultural export powerhouse, and it’s clear that large industrial farmers are unlikely to appreciate international ambassadors of food sovereignty. But destructive industrial farming isn’t the only kind, even in an exporting country. Canada knows a thing or two about export agriculture too, and yet their National Farmers Union was a founding member of Via Campesina. Nettie Weibe, an alumna of the NFU, will be joining what’ll be a terrific few days of conversation. If you’re in the Antipodes and want to know more, click Food Sovereignty Flyer.

Slow Politics

Britain’s dealing with a Conservative Prime Minister in a coalition with Liberal Democrats. Rather than steamrolling through the aggressive (and regressive) plans for change that he’d initially penned, David Cameron has to negotiate a little with the Lib Dems. Just a little, mind. It’s not like he’s having to discuss this with folk who are fierce ideological opponents. Liberalism once had some fairly impressive views about social change and the evils of private property but today, Liberal Democrats are Conservatives’ super-ego: they’ll moralise, opine, quake and then let the free market do its thing. But at least there’s the illusion of a coalition government, in which tough ideological differences need to be overcome.

Continue reading “Slow Politics”