Black History Now

It’s Black History Month here in the US. One of the things that ought by now to have been consigned to the dustbin of history is slavery. It hasn’t. People of colour – American and those without papers – continue their struggle against it, particularly in agriculture. Here’s a piece published this week in the St Petersburg Times on how the Coalition of Immokalee Workers are trying to make slavery history.

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Who Are School Meals For?

Just as the Green Revolution wasn’t really about feeding the hungry, free school meals have never really been about feeding children. The curtain is pulled back in a new book I can’t wait to read: Free for All: Fixing School Food in America (University of California Press, 2010) by Susan Coombs. Meantime, here’s a review from the excellent Mark Winne via Continue reading “Who Are School Meals For?”

Haiti: A breviary

It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s going on in Haiti at the moment. Here’s a short must-read/must-see list.

First, Avi Lewis and the team at Al Jazeera have produced a fantastic short documentary, impressive on so many levels. In less than half an hour, they overturn almost every reporting convention observed in the past month’s coverage, presenting Haiti as a country in which people are absolutely able to manage their affairs, proceeding in dignified emergency to help one another, and articulating clearly and unambiguously their visions for the future.

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I Think You’re The Cutest

In the past, I’ve used Valentine’s Day to tell the story of the things we’re meant to exchange today – notably chocolates and roses. If you’re interested, I’ve resurrected to the front page an older post about roses which ought to give you a sense of what it is we forget when we remember our love to one another through flowers. Lest I seem a little too curmudgeonly, though, this year I want change my approach. It’s wrong only to take a swipe at Valentines Day because the things we’re supposed to buy for each other have a seedy underbelly. This year, I’m going to get pissy with Valentines Day because of how we’re supposed to look.

The images of beauty and, indeed, love that are peddled at this time of year are a little exclusive, to say the least. That’s one of the reasons I liked Scott James’ column a couple of weeks ago (recentlypublicised by Chelsea Handler). And it’s why I like the work of another friend, a photographer named JJ Tizou whose work from Immokalee features in the book trailer , and whose manifesto – Everyone Is Photogenic I’ve pasted below. It isn’t just a piece of liberal feelgoodery. It’s an important an egalitarian message about being body positive and about how we learn to recognise beauty. Today, when some are made to feel less beautiful than others, it’s an important read. Yes, it made me feel better about myself too. As JJ puts it, this Valentines – and every – day, remember: I think you’re the cutest. The full manifesto is below the fold. Continue reading “I Think You’re The Cutest”


You’ll have noticed my fondness for science fiction-related metaphor. And, in the world of genetically modified crops, there’s a lot of science and fiction. The benefits of using genetically modified crops are, for instance, largely fictional. But here’s an example of what happens when the science behind genetically modified crops hits the real world: unkillable plants that destroy machines.

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A top ten list of things that aren’t as cheap as you think.

#10 Bottled Water – Bottled water sounds like it should be cheaper – it’s 200 to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water. But in the US, the annual energy wasted on bottled water adds the equivalent to 100,000 cars on roads and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. And the price we pay for water doesn’t begin to address the longer term issues of global shortage for something that everyone needs to survive. Make a start: stop your local government from wasting your money on bottled water, as we did in San Francisco.

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