I’ve been persuaded by @NaomiStarkman @civileater @HavenBourque and @TomPhilpott that I ought really to spend more time on Twitter. It’s an experiment that I’ll start soon, in earnest, if there’s demand. But in the meantime, if you’re on Twitter and want to hear me tweet, let me know. I’m @_RajPatel.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of meeting and throwing ideas around with Michael Hardt, the author of, among other things, Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth all written with Antonio Negri. I once had some unkind things to say about Empire, which I wince to read now – being a graduate student brought out the worst point-scoring debater in me. But the reason that Empire kicked off a trilogy of books is because Hardt and Negri were also unsatisfied. To my mind, the trilogy has worked. Their thoughts have been honed over their collaboration and certainly have shrugged off the criticisms I lobbed a decade ago. You can watch our conversation at the Taft Center at the University of Cincinnati when it’s uploaded, likely in the next few weeks. It has been a long time since I had a discussion in which ideas whizzed around so freely, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The mercenaries who brought you Blackwater are now bringing their particular brand of executive solutions to protests in the Middle East. More in this New York Times story, which contains lines like this: “Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. “
Fred Kaufman has been busy, not only with a fine summary in the latest issue of Foreign Policy of last year’s analysis of Goldman Sachs’ hunger games, but also at TedxManhattan, where he gave this fine talk on the lunacy of a retail sustainability index.
Also at Ted, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group gave a helpfully concise summary of how the Farm Bill works.
Finally – and not before time – Antipodean food activist extraordinaire Christine Dann has started a blog, The Dead End Diet, which joins the blogroll.
What does it take to make the food speculators at Goldman Sachs look like they’re playing for lunch money? A secretive Swiss-based company, and one of the world’s largest commodity trading firms, knows. With its initial public offering announced on Thursday, Glencore – a multibillion-dollar mining, energy and food trader that will soon list in London and Hong Kong – is the envy of Wall Street. When Goldman Sachs was floated, the then CEO Hank Paulson made off with $219m. Glencore’s chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, has already earned the moniker “The Ten Billion Dollar Man” for his share of the bonanza.