Thursday, 23 August 2012

Food: three axes, an axis, something like that.

1. Feed your family; 2. Feed my sheep; and, 3. Feed your head (not that it will do any good).
Up, Down. 
Contents: 1. Feed your family, 2. Feed my sheep (Pussy Riot verdict, Marikana massacre, Christian pooh-bah I, II, III, Ethics), 3. Feed your head (Enbridge Lies, Globe dissembling, Something Else), End of it.

[I remember a criticism of something Charles Taylor wrote - to the effect that his use of the term 'axis' is confusing. So it is I guess. The notion of a social imaginary is confusing too I suppose: Is there just one, like Yeats' spiritus mundi or Jung's archetypes? Like condoms - one size fits all?

Anyway, I posted the first part of this as a stand-alone on the UN FAO, and then had second and third thoughts ... which seem to be along some kind of axis. Whatever.] 
1. Feed your family: Gwynne Dyer, FAO, Abdolreza Abbassian.

Not too long ago I was whingeing about the FAO (here). I won't bother complaining again - except to say that there seems to be a disconnect, several disconnects: somehere between 'Stay Calm!' and 'Put your head between your knees and kiss your ass goodbye.'
FAO Food Price Index.FAO Food Price Index.FAO Food Price Index.
That is a steepish reversal - 6% in a month - and reasonable to expect that given the lag in processing statistics the August numbers when they arrive will be steepish-er. Next one will be out on September 6 they say.

Three recent articles referenced:
       1. The rich, the poor, and the hungry, Gwynne Dyer;
       2. UN: No food crisis yet as grain prices soar, Reuters; and,
       3. FAO Food Price Index up 6 percent, the FAO itself.

[In the event that these articles are taken down or changed there is an archive here.]

Ramirez' Companion piece, not so much.Excuse me. I'm going to need this to run my car.The American greed-heads have not yet even figgured out that they must stop the ethanol subsidy. Doh!? And nevermind the entire practice subsidized or not, and nevermind the ridiculous cars, and on and on - the whole shitteree.

Musing on Steve Gardiner's ethics often leads to this place - a recognition of the utter impossibility of it: of an intergenerational ethics when the terms themselves are hardly understood or acknowledged; when the flip side - the treatment of the last generations of parents and elderly - is not even in the program; and when the informational zeitgeist is so totally fucked.
2. Feed my sheep.

Three times in John 21 he says, "Feed my sheep." Instead it's anything but ... 
Pussy Riot verdict:

марина сырова судья / Marina Syrova judge.марина сырова судья / Marina Syrova judge.AFP: "There is something of a battle of slogans going on among the crowds of protesters outside the court, say AFP's reporters. The band's supporters are yelling "Freedom for Pussy Riot" while the rival group of religious, anti-Pussy Riot protesters scream "Christ is risen". They seem to be trying to outdo each other ..."

If Christ really is risen then those religious protesters have good reason to fear - he is probably PISSED! (But I think Pussy Riot would be out in a trice.)

Quite understandable that the judge (or one of them at least, I am not quite sure), марина сырова / Marina Syrova, does not want her picture taken. But these images are of her apparently. 
Marikana massacre, August 16 2012:

The police were not prepared.The police were not prepared.
The script has changed just a smidgen in 50 years - this time it is black police shooting black strikers (just in case you thought race had any currency) - otherwise not so much. There is lots of information and photographs of the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 on the Internet - go, find it, look at it, make your own comparisons.
Lonmin mine, Marikana South Africa.Lonmin mine, Marikana South Africa.Lonmin mine, Marikana South Africa.Lonmin mine, Marikana South Africa.Lonmin mine, Marikana South Africa.
What to say about the newly minted national police commissioner, Mangwashi Victoria 'Riah' Phiyega, who tells the police, "Don't be sorry." You can see some of her reaction on Vimeo here (1 minute).

Zukiswa Mbombo, Provincial Police Commissioner.Zukiswa Mbombo, Provincial Police Commissioner.Riah Phiyega, National Police Commissioner.Riah Phiyega, National Police Commissioner.Or Zukiswa Mbombo, the North West regional commissioner for that matter. You can watch her on Vimeo too, just before the event here (34 seconds).

You can watch some of the killing here (30 seconds) if you are inclined. Fear vs desperation. Some shots are fired before the main onslaught - not clear who is shooting at first, then it is very clear.

The massacre took place at Wonderkop near Marikana. The mine itself is about 7 miles away at Nkaneng - you can see on this map.

They want US$1,500 a month (up from $500) - enough to be able to send their children to school they say.

Gwynne Dyer has published this: South Africa gripped by the politics of massacre, and Zapiro takes a similar line: Julius Malema: Opportunism Best Practices.

Ian Farmer, Lonmin CEO.Roger Phillimore, Lonmin chairman.Bongani Nqwababa, Anglo American CEO.Cynthia Blum Carroll, Anglo American chairman.Lonmin Plc, Our values:

Zero Harm We are committed to zero harm to people and the environment.

Integrity, Honesty & Trust We are committed ethical people who do what we say we will do.

Transparency Open, honest communication and free sharing of information.

Respect For Each Other Embracing our diversity enriched by openness, sharing, trust, teamwork and involvement.

High Performance Stretching our individual and team capabilities to achieve innovative and superior outcomes.

Employee Self-Worth To enhance the quality of life for our employees and their families and promote self esteem.

The dead were prepared.The dead were prepared.
It bears repetition: "To enhance the quality of life for our employees and their families and promote self esteem." "Enriched by openness," right. 
On being a Christian pooh-bah I:

I stepped on this one morning over at the Guardian and it squeaked: Rowan Williams and Francis Spufford on being a Christian. Rowan Williams is the Archbishop of Canterbury after all so he does get my attention for a moment. Christianity, is it elusory or illusory then I wonder?

But he uses Narnia. (!?) Has he never read these books? Or if he has then it was certainly not out loud to children at bed time. I will bet single malt on that. There are SEVEN of them! The first goes well enough but by the third something has changed and the children do not want to hear any more of it. Of course so much depends upon sensibility and temperament - maybe that's it (and maybe not).

He has also written the Poem of the Week: Rublev. If he is going to 'capture the imagination of our culture' he may have to do better.

These people simply have no idea at all. 
On being a Christian pooh-bah II:

Paolo Gabriele.Paolo Gabriele.The Pope, his butler, and the butler's accomplice. (Paolo Gabriele doing the deed by himself is one thing, doing it with Claudio Sciarpelletti is quite another.) It would be funny except that a window has been opened into the world of petty venal intrigue which is the Vatican.

Who needs these people exactly? And for what? (And I don't mean the butler - everyone knows what you need butlers for.) 
On being a Christian pooh-bah III:

Tim Stevenson & Gary Paterson.Gary Paterson.Two issues, both alike in fecklessness, in fair k-k-Canada, where we lay our scene ...

IIIa: The United Church, after roiling around in it for almost a decade finally decides to boycott Israel, well, not all of it. The report itself is irrelevant, replete with blancmange bureaucrat weasel words. I am left here with the question from Matthew 7:4: "How wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" (There are two 'out's in the original but I think Andrewes was having a bad day.)

A-and remember kids: Just because some Jews and Israelis don't like it, and just because some Canadian Senators don't like it either ... this doesn't mean you have to pick it up and eat it (paraphrased from Glen Milne).

IIIb: Gary Paterson is gay. Mardi Tindal is fat. Interesting but irrelevant details. Here's the rub: in my relatively wide travels I have never come up against the 10% of the population that is supposed to be gay. Where are they? Some yes, some (who have since died of AIDS) were dear and close friends of mine. I think I have met about the 1-2% in existence. If these guys have managed to stay together through thirty years then I am standing up applauding for them. If they excuse my suspicions around language like "I’m thrilled for the church," and "... a marvellous moderator." (reported here) then good, if not, good too.

And if they are on a hunger strike around the devastated environment we are handing to our children and grandchildren then they will find me there with them shoulder to shoulder to the bitter (!) end.

Have to wait and see ... 
Piling on?:

The idea that ethics is at or very near the root of it is catching on: If we are to cope with climate change we need a new moral order (Andrew Brown in the Guardian).

When he starts out with, "There's a first class article in Nature this week ..." I am suspicious, but by the time I get to, "What religious thought – and ritual – can supply is the two things absent from normative consumer liberalism," the antennae are all the way out. So I think I had better go and have a look - maybe this one is not locked up. It's not: Why we are poles apart on climate change (Dan Kahan in Nature).

But between Dan Kahan's (secular as far as I can see) plea for responsible commentary & discussion and Andrew Brown's apparent 'leap to faith' there seems to me to be another ... disconnect - a veritable chasm. I have not read them carefully yet so I could be wrong, but it makes me wonder if the pundits are just angling for their salaries. Are they sincere? I don't know. And the only person I know who might know, who might have an opinion worth listening to on it, Steve Gardiner, seems not to be speaking to me anymore (since I brought up the Cuban Special Period if that's a clue). So.

[In the event that these articles are taken down or changed there is an archive here.]

I will read them carefully and report again on this. 
3. Feed your head (like the doormouse never said).

Jefferson Airplane Somebody To Love (sorry about the ad). This is not a great recording. It is not meant as a thing in itself, as a performance, but as a reminder that such a performance once was, no more than that. I would have posted White Rabbit but it is lies I am thinkin' of. 
Misrepresentation, dissembling, and lies from Enbridge:

This turned up in the Guardian: The corporate cock-up that's refuelled the Canadian tar sands debate. It's all over the place already. The original video is still up at Enbridge and someone posted it to YouTube for safe keeping.
Douglas Channel, Enbridge.Douglas Channel, a bit more accurate.
One of the islands they left out is Gil Island, where BC Ferries sank the Queen of the North in 2006: some blog posts from that in March and June of 2006, and March 2008.

I wonder what the people (the heroes) of Hartley Bay think about all this?.
Janet Holder, Lisa Raitt, Chuck Szmurlo.Janet Holder, Elmer Derrick.Elmer Derrick.Elmer Derrick.Elmer Derrick.
Might be a good idea to get to know a little more about Janet Holder. You can see her there hob-nobbing with Chuck Szmurlo VP of something or other at Enbridge, and Lisa Raitt you know right? minister of grapple grommets in wazizname's gizmo.

And Elmer Derrick of the Gitxsan nation, the lone (so far) aboriginal chief to endorse Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline (in 2009) for a few million spread over thirty years plus a cool grand-a-day appointment to the Prince Rupert Port Authority (nothing much to do with Gitxsan issues apparently but hey!).

These videos are worth a look: Northern Gateway Pipeline animation (2 minutes), and BC's Huge Gamble (10 minutes) - Janet Holder figures largely. The second one was made by Corey Ogilvie, someone to watch.

The Queen of the North was 125 metres long, the super-tankers they are planning on are from twice to three times that length. 
Misrepresentation and dissembling from The Globe:

'Steam from the boiler turns the turbine which then powers the air conditioner.'This appeared recently in the Globe and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper: In oil sands, a native millionaire sees ‘economic force’ for first nations by Nathan Vanderklippe, not the brightest light on the environmental front but credible (to me, until now).

This paragraph is up front: "Mr. Tuccaro, 54, is a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, out of Fort Chipewyan, Alta., a place that garnered attention after reports – discredited by medical authorities – that its location downriver from the oil sands created an elevated level of rare cancers."

I wondered at the 'discredited by medical authorities' and emailed the guy. He answered with this (from 2009): Report casts doubt on MD's claims about Alberta reserve's cancer rates.

Nathan Vanderklippe.Nathan Vanderklippe.Nathan Vanderklippe says "discredited" but Katherine O'Neill's article that he uses as 'proof' only says "casts doubt". So, which is it? As I remember it, the Alberta's College of Physicians and Surgeons' report was claimed as a victory for both sides - but that could be the Alzheimer's I suppose.

I followed the news of John O'Connor from 2008, reasonably closely. I watched him in films, I read his statements. In the end he is credible to me and the Globe and Mail is not (Nathan himself? ... looks to me like he just did what he was told to do).

I am not trying here to build a case that will stand up in court y'unnerstan'. I'm just saying ...

You can see the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) here (it's slightly murky, there are a number of reports mentioned here and there, this looks like the latest), and you can see some of the counter claims here and here. 
What I meant was something else ... :

Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, o Taradão.The thing about the kind of no-holds-barred violence that the insincere public intellectuals practice - it is like shunning in a way - is that it is bloodless, entirely deniable (if you think ahead), coverable, and the victims are left with almost no recourse, no comeback. In a way this blog is a badly knit scarf by a Madame Defarge wannabe.

They freed one of Dorothy Stang's killers today - Brazil's Supremo Tribunal Federal, their tippy-top Supreme Court let Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, o Taradão off the hook on his 30 year sentence - some kind of technicality (judgement here). Friends in high places - in this case Marco Aurélio Mello, the Chief Justice of Brazil, old money and lots of it.

More ginger in the rice tonight. :-) 
I thought for a long time that it was my father's stamina and sense of humour that saved me (well, not 'saved' exactly but kept me going at least). I see now (thanks to composing the few tiny stories sprinkled here lately) that my mother's simple-minded metaphysic (and mostly that she stuck to it in the face of all evidence to the contrary - not quite intentionally, likely no more than whatever the moral equivalent of gravity is) is a large part of my success as well. To call this success is nonsense of course. :-)

And yet, in the middle of what might be the most dramatic moment in the history of humankind, at the onset of our Ragnarök, there is a calm centre here (not all the time but often), quotidian equanimity: three litres of water, brown rice, ginger, lots of leeks, regular bowel movements. It can't last. Nothing ever could.

Here it is, 4AM again, looking out the window for traces of dawn, no dawn in sight yet.

Be well.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Brazilian Court stops work on Belo Monte.

We won! We won! (only kidding Bill), but yes, a sweet taste of victory.
Up, Down, Ongoing, Latest: 12-08-28 Tuesday. 
Xingu+23, June 2012 STOP BELO MONTE!Xingu+23, June 2012 STOP BELO MONTE!
The decision was made on Monday, was reported in the Brazilian press Tuesday, and made it to some English outlets Wednesday:

Brazilian Court stops work on Belo Monte.
From Amigos da Terra Amazônia (always first!): TRF1 determina paralisação das obras de Belo Monte, sourced at Agência Brasil.

From the BBC: Brazilian court halts Belo Monte hydro-electric dam project [dated on the 14th, but it wasn't there yesterday].

Better English coverage and with a hint about where TRF1 (Tribunal Regional Federal and in English [which also appeared since yesterday]) fits into the Brazilian court hierarchy can be found here: Belo Monte Dam Suspended by High Brazilian Court by Zachary Hurwitz at International Rivers.

Keep in mind that in March 2011 the headline was like this: Justiça autoriza retomada de obras em Belo Monte, and in December 2011 it was: Brazil dam company wins Belo Monte appeal.

So ... you could say it has been back-and-forth.

Souza Prudente, 2011.Souza Prudente, 2009.Souza Prudente, 2009.Souza Prudente, 2004.Antônio Souza Prudente is an interesting guy as you can read in this 2009 interview: Desembargador Souza Prudente fala sobre a missão constitucional da Justiça Federal e outros temas; and for once Google Translate leaves it almost ... readable: Judge Souza Prudente talks about the constitutional mission of the Federal Court and other topics. A staunch Catholic, quite conventional in his views - it could be as simple as a competent judgement based upon the law :-)

This struggle has been going on for a long time. David Suzuki tells some of the history from 23 years ago here (20 minutes, you just have to wait 30 seconds to hear of the seventy grand raised to support this very cause in a different Canada from the one we live in now), and Barbara Zimmerman tells an excellent story about it here (20 minutes - her focus is logging but it's the same struggle).

And sure, I am curious about this judge just now - but I know very well that the 'reasons' for his decision are with the indigenous nations of Brasil, with Tuíra Kayapó, with the organizers and participants of Xingu+23 who dug the trench pictured above through the damned dam in June of this year, with those who recently held Norte Energia engineers hostage - and so on ...

And I am not a praying kind of man, but since that is about all I can do for them from here I am doing it this morning; and especially that they stay watchful. I know they will.

In a clear demonstration of good faith Norte Energia has already said they will wait until they are officially notified before stopping anything. More evidence of their good will can be seen in this short video (4 minutes, and you don't need subtitles to understand contempt).

I will stay watchful as well and update this post as events unfold.

Be well. 

12-08-16 Thursday: Well, the Guardian is catching up: Belo Monte dam construction halted by Brazilian court. Arguments going from reduced deforestation through renewables to reduced need (on the government's part?) to carry on with hydroelectric development seem lame to me ... but whatever.

STOP BELO MONTE! Xingu Vivo Para Sempre / Xingu Live Forever.Sheila Juruna.Antonia Melo & Erwin Kräutler.12-08-17 Friday: Norte Energia are stonewalling - to be expected.

Some background: A short message (with subtitles) from Antonia Melo, president of Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre. And Gilberto Gil singing behind a Xingu+23 video (and a version of this excellent tune with subtitles - "Um por um," he sings, "one by one." And a recent (crowdfunded) documentary Belo Monte Announcement of a War (105 minutes) by André D’Elia, also on Vimeo - WATCH THIS FILM! (But best after you watch the Barbara Zimmerman interview mentioned above since she puts important qualifying perspective into who is stewarding what and why.)

Duílio Diniz de Figueiredo.Duílio Diniz de Figueiredo.Duílio Diniz de Figueiredo.Duílio Diniz de Figueiredo.Duílio Diniz de Figueiredo.12-08-18 Saturday: Still no 'official' notification? Apparently not - this from Agência Brasil yesterday:
As condicionantes previstas para compensar os impactos negativos causados pela construção da Usina Hidrelétrica de Belo Monte também deverão ser paralisadas a partir do momento em que a Norte Energia, empresa responsável pela obra e operação da usina, for notificada oficialmente da decisão da Justiça.

The constraints provided to offset the negative impacts caused by construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant will also be paralyzed from the moment Norte Energia ... is officially notified ...
Who knows what it means? It does seem like a veiled threat of some kind. Cheques promised to someone(s) somewhere somewhen that will be stopped?

And why has Norte Energia not been notified? Someone in Justiça getting cold feet? Dilma pulling strings? The ubiquitous tactic is to sow uncertainty by any means possible and hope that it ends in 'pizza', not just in Brazil where acabar em pizza is a common outcome but world wide.

Have to wait and see.

A bit more background: Worth reading this (much understated) Wikipedia entry on the Tucuruí dam, 1975-1984 with ongoing expansion begun in 1998 and not yet complete. This map may help you see that they are not so far apart.

Edison Lobão.12-08-21 Tuesday: Still no word on notification, but Edison Lobão, minister of mines & energy is upping the rhetoric: "... isso tudo custará ao povo brasileiro." / 'this will cost the brazilian people.' Keep in mind that 60% of this electricity is destined for industry ... whatever. Source: Agência Brasil, Lobão diz que atraso em Belo Monte pode prejudicar o país / Lobao says Belo Monte delay could harm the country.

For the planet, for a place to live, and for dignity.Belo Monte is stopped!12-08-23 Thursday:


Norte Energia have been notified and they have stopped. First from Amigos da Terra Amazônia as usual, sourced from Agência Brasil. Yes!

(For now.)

Carlos Ayres Britto & Dilma Rousseff.Carlos Ayres Britto.Luís Inácio Adams.Luís Inácio Adams & Dilma Rousseff.12-08-26 Sunday: Dilma Rousseff is bringing out the biggest guns she can muster to shoot down this judgement. On Friday Luís Inácio Adams, the Attorney General, asked Carlos Ayres Britto, the President of the Supreme Federal Court to suspend the judgement because of "irreparable damage to the national interest." Brito stalled for a whole 24 hours to consult with the cabinet. Things might change as early as tomorrow. 
July 26 action against AGU Decree 303.'Portaria 303' has been showing up in the headlines for a month and more - but I mistook it, confused 'portaria' for 'entrance', thought it had something to do with run-of-the-mill exclusion. :-)

'Portaria' is 'Decree'. Decree #303 of the AGU allows exploitation of aboriginal land without consultation. Hydroelectric plants, mines, plantations - fill yer boots!

So, a pincer movement then, a two pronged attack, a double whammy.

Raoni's manner of discussion.Raoni's manner of discussion.Raoni's manner of discussion.Raoni's manner of discussion.Here is Raoni Metuktire at the AGU on August 12th. His manner of discussion shown in these photographs is worth looking at very carefully.

I even begin to get a glimmering of the usefulness of the disk in his lower lip.

Raoni Metuktire & Megaron Txucarramae meet with Luís Inácio Adams, José Eduardo Cardozo, & Marta Maria Azevedo.Raoni Metuktire & Megaron Txucarramae meet with Luís Inácio Adams, José Eduardo Cardozo, & Marta Maria Azevedo.A few days later on August 14th Raoni Metuktire & Megaron Txucarramae meet with Luís Inácio Adams (Attorney General), José Eduardo Cardozo (Minister of Justice), & Marta Maria Azevedo (president of Funai - equivalent to Canada's Indian & Northern Affairs).

What is said obviously makes a big impression on these people given their actions on subsequent days.

August 27 action at AGU.August 27, Monday:

Norte Energia is whining, keeping the pressure on, saying the stoppage is costing 12 million a day. Numbers of municipal leaders, Mayors, come out in support of Belo Monte and repudiate the stoppage.

Protests are mounted at the AGU in Brasilia (from CIMI), at regional AGU offices, and two highways are closed.

Deborah Duprat.Deborah Duprat.An ally steps up. Deborah Duprat of the PGR, vice-procuradora-geral da República, Vice Prosecutor General.

But it's done and dusted in the afternoon: STF manda retomar obras da Usina de Belo Monte, and here in English: Judge overturns suspension of Brazil's Belo Monte dam. Carlos Ayres Britto resembles a vampire - and I guess just behaves as his nature dictates.

Fuck! They say 11,200 Megawatts, 11 Gigawatts, but it is less than half that in reality. And 60% of it destined for industrial use - who gets all of the output in the dry season then d'you think? They are bound and determined to drive this rig straight over the cliff. How stupid is that?

Decision: Monday August 13.
Work stops: Thursday August 23, 10 days later.
Resumes: Tuesday August 28.

This is not the end (but I must say it has got me down this morning - Tuesday - as I write this).
1989: Tuíra Kayapó & José Antônio Muniz Lopes.1989: Tuíra Kayapó & José Antônio Muniz Lopes.
Be well.