Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Promises , promises , always promises

Peru's economy has grown at a rate of 9% and exports have tripled in the last five years . Shopping malls and new high-rise blocks of flat are springing up as part of a construction boom and the rising middle class is quickly developing an appetite for shopping.

"Peru at this moment is the brightest star in the firmament of humanity," President Garcia declares at the summit. "No-one doubts that."

Yet much of the growth has emerged from the country's largely urban coast, a world apart from the impoverished rural highlands where poverty has become an increasingly big problem in recent years.
For them, promises made by world leaders at the summit - to reduce poverty, to reduce the impact of rising food prices, and to tackle climate change - offer little hope.

"Nothing has really changed for the poor, especially in the provinces, except that the food prices have gone up," says Noemi Dioses, a 34-year-old single mother who works as a carer in Lima. "He's not governing for us," she says, accusing President Garcia of "governing for the big businessmen and the foreign investors... All the lovely fruit and vegetables that are grown here get exported," she says. "We're not enjoying the fruits of this boom."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The REAL price of food

About 450,000 Cambodian students will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices. But by the end of the month, they will no longer get free breakfast from the U.N. World Food Program. Five local suppliers have defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they can get a higher price elsewhere, program officials say.

In Burundi, Kenya and Zambia, hundreds of thousands of people face cuts in food rations after June.
In Iraq, 500,000 recipients will likely lose food aid.
In Yemen, it's 320,000 households, including children and the sick.

Mercy Corps will likely distribute 20 percent less food to Iraqi refugees in Syria and serve 12 percent fewer Colombian families fleeing violence in the countryside.
World Vision may stop helping 1.5 million people — nearly a quarter of the number it serves — because of rising food prices . At least a third are children.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Olive Branches from Capitalism

Across India as many as 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in the past decade after falling behind in payments to money lenders, according to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The farming sector has 70 per cent of the country's population depending on it for a living .

In February the Government's official annual economic survey said “Due to uncertainties in global markets and hardening of international prices of food ... the food security of India critically depends on the farm sector,”

And the solution ?

The desert of Rajasthan in the north of India is to be planted with a million olive trees grown in Israel according to the Times

The development of a cash crop that will be subject to the law of supply and demand and with overproduction of the said olive oil , the market price falling and debt once more for the Indian farmer

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Class War not Caste War

As a foreigner with no loocal knowledge of the language and no connection with local community , i hav still to come across caste discrimation directly but this article from the BBC certainly asserts that it exists .

"...Many higher castes Hindus in parts of India's Tamil Nadu state still not share with the Dalits, formerly known as untouchables? They insist on separate glasses for drinking tea and they do not allow the untouchables to go to the same barber shops. They ban them from temples, cremation grounds and river bathing points, among other examples. Studies have found at least 45 different forms of "untouchability" being practised by upper caste Hindus against the Dalits in Tamil Nadu.

A wall segregating local higher caste Hindus residents from their Dalit counterparts in Uthapuram village in Madurai district barely 600km (350 miles) from the state capital Madras (Chennai) didn't exactly come as a surprise. The wall kept Dalit people out of the main parts of the village. The authorities demolished part of the wall following an order from the state government to allow Dalits to go where they wanted in the village. About 800 higher caste Hindus decided to leave the village and seek refuge on a nearby hillock in protest against the decision.

Dalits or the Scheduled Castes, the official name for the lowest castes, constitute roughly 19% of the Tamil Nadu's 62.4 million people. More than 60% of Christians in Tamil Nadu are Dalits - most converted hoping to find more freedom. But they still have very little voice and are largely shunned in the church. They again find themselves humiliated, with separate pews, services, churches, corteges, enclosures in cemeteries and so on. A tentative effort was made in a village called Erayur to integrate the Dalits in all the services. But a group of Christians protested and threatened to go back to Hinduism if the Catholic church went ahead with its initiatives.
The diocese had to back down.

Until class politics grow to dominate and caste allegiences are rejected , the capitalist class will continue to control through divide and rule . Capitalist driven urbanisation and industrialisation have helped to break down caste barriers to some extent as people moved out of traditional occupations .In the meatime , for the pro-capitalist political parties , caste is about calculated bargaining for greater electoral spoils .

Monday, May 19, 2008

1st World Wealth , 3rd World Lifestyle

Here in Kerala , South India , i read in the Times
"Soaring food prices have led to a growing number of middle-class New Yorkers joining an unusual organisation that “dumpster dives” in rubbish bins for food.
The trash tours form part of a growing movement called “Freegans”, which is rapidly increasing in popularity as New Yorkers find it harder and harder to make ends meet.
Freegans – a name derived from the words “free” and “vegan” – sift through garbage cans and bin bags in the evenings looking to find edible food and discarded items such as shelving or kitchen appliances that can be reused. ..

..."Harvard University estimated last year that Middle America was suffering its worst financial hardship since the 1950s as families were forced to struggle with rising food and fuel costs, tightening credit conditions, sliding residential property prices and soaring healthcare premiums. "

Sunday, May 04, 2008

ATM machine will travel

Due to a middle-aged man returning to the days of his hippy youth and taking to the back-packers trail ( well , Samsonite trolley case rather than the back-pack ) , Mailstrom blog in future will be subject irregular postings from now on . Hopefully , internet cafes will offer an opportunity to report on local news .

Chinese Imperialism

Chinese economic and diplomatic expansion in Africa has often been reported upon , so to has its support for the Burmese Junta and of course the Chinese occupation of Tibet , and many on the Left seem to believe that compared with American imperial ambitions, Beijing's striving for world power and dominance should be defended , at most , as a counter -balance to Washington hegemony.

Reported in the BBC , China is boosting its political and economic influence in the South Pacific region which was long dominated by European powers such as France and Britain. China is the new kid on the block.

Why the Chinese interest in a region regarded by most of the world as an obscure backwater?
Well, for a start, the Chinese are looking to satisfy their voracious appetite for natural resources. Copper, zinc and nickel from Papua New Guinea, timber from the Solomon Islands, manganese and cobalt from the sea-bed are all vital to feed China's extraordinary pace of development.

But it is politics - not business - that is really turning the gaze of the Chinese dragon towards these pearls of the South Seas. Pacific nations may be miniscule and little known - the likes of Palau and Kiribati (pronounced Kiribass) are hardly household names - but they are vitally important in the diplomatic war between Beijing and Taiwan (which China regards as a breakaway province). Six countries in the Pacific grant official recognition to Taiwan's capital Taipei, and the Taiwanese do all they can to retain their loyalty. Climb out of the plane in remote Tuvalu, for instance, and the first building you notice - because it is the only structure taller than a coconut palm in the entire atoll nation - is the government's new office complex, built with Taiwanese money.

Beijing frequently rolls out the red carpet for the leaders of countries like Tonga and Samoa.
What makes its aid attractive is that it is bestowed with no strings attached, unlike the assistance received from the European Union or Australia and New Zealand, which rather awkwardly harp on about good governance and other tricky issues.
As one Pacific analyst puts it: "Chinese aid is quite different from other countries, it goes straight for the jugular."
But with China's increasing presence come tensions. Flinging money around among the political elite can exacerbate already high levels of official corruption. The business acumen of Chinese entrepreneurs stirs intense resentment in the famously laid-back Pacific, where initiative is often stifled by the custom of having to share profits with your extended family.

Australian soldiers and police deploy to hotspots like East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons. No-one is suggesting China wants or will to do the same - at least - not yet.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Fitba' Cash

Promotion to England's Premier League is worth at least £60 million , analysts say.

The Championship teams who win a Premier League place get £30m from TV rights, plus £5m from extra sponsorship and merchandising deals each season. Even those who are relegated after one season get £24m over the next two years, taking the total to about £60m. That is more than the Champions League, which can net English clubs £30m.

"There will continue to be significant investor interest from around the globe for English clubs, in part driven by the prospect of the financial revards and global exposure of the Premier League competition," said Deloitte's Sports Business Group.

English teams are amongst the most valuable football clubs in the world, according to a recent rich list. Forbes magazine this week named Manchester United the world's most valuable football club, worth £905m. Fellow Premier League title contenders Arsenal were third, valued at £603m. Liverpool are 4th Chelsea in eighth, Tottenham in 12th , while Celtic are the only Scottish team, in 20th place. Everton, West Ham, Manchester City and Aston Villa occupy places 21-24.

Support your local team - support the stock exchange .

see previous post on anarchist football