Mozambique update: There’s something rotten in the kingdom of globalisation

I’ve said before, the protests in Mozambique weren’t just about food, but about a constellation of injustices. There’s still good coverage of the events in the press, but the most insightful analysis I’ve seen so far comes from UNAC, the Mozambican National Peasant Union. Attached is their statement on recent events – in Portuguese only at the moment, though in English soon. The key point: há algo de podre no reino da globalização – There’s something rotten in the kingdom of globalisation. More here: Posicao da UNAC Manifestacoes de 1 e 2 Set

The Stealth of Nations

Robert Neuwirth, author of the splendid Shadow Cities has a new book coming about the informal ‘hidden’ economies that flourish in today’s cities, gloriously titled Stealth of Nations. A teaser piece appeared a couple of days ago in Forbes online, and if it’s any indication, Neuwirth’s new book will be terrific.

Food crisis in Syria

I’ve said it before, but it bears re-stating that Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has his head screwed on. His latest article lays out the need for international action to avoid yet more hunger, the latest wave of which has broken in Syria. More here.

World Bank on Land Grabs: It’s All Good Unless You’re African, a Woman, Disempowered, or Poor

The World Bank’s long-awaited report on land grabs is out. I’ve not had time to study it – I only found out an hour ago – but here are some first impressions.

First, the Bank doesn’t call them land-grabs. Unable to come up with a suitably technical alternative to describe the process whereby the poor are kicked off the land when the rich buy up the ground beneath their feet, the Bank refers instead to ‘global interest in farm land’. It’s a neat euphemism. When you say, “thou shalt not be interested in your neighbour’s ox”, it doesn’t sound nearly as bad does it?

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Food Rebellions: Mozambicans Know Which Way the Wind Blows

[A version of this article appear’s in The Observer, Sunday September 5, 2010.]

It has been a summer of record temperatures – Japan had its hottest summer on record.[1] Same with South Florida and New York.[2] Meanwhile, Pakistan and Niger are flooded, and the Eastern US is mopping up after Hurricane Earl. As any climatologist will tell you, none of these individual events can definitively be attributed to global warming. But to see how climate change will play out in the twenty-first century, you needn’t look to the Met Office. Look instead to the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique’s ‘food riots’ to see what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with our unjust social and economic systems.

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