Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meanwhile, Off Continent...

 video from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture website.

From IPS News:
TOKYO, Jun 26 2013 (IPS) - Yukako Harada, an energetic 29-year-old, is part of a small but determined band of women farmers working hard to revitalise Japan’s moribund agricultural sector, which is feeling the crunch of an ageing population and a flood of cheap imports.
From accounting for half the country’s economic output just after World War II, agricultural production has shrunk down to just 1.2 percent of the world’s second largest economy, generating only 39 percent of Japan’s food needs.
I'd be thrilled to live on an island that produced 39% of its own food needs....
Mauritius Beach via Wikipedia
Over in Mauritius:
PORT LOUIS, Jun 25 2013 (IPS) - “No fighting, please. Everybody will get their fish. Give us time to empty the crates and weigh today’s catch,” Patrick Guiliano Marie, leader of the St. Pierre Fish Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, shouts at the crowd jostling impatiently at the fish landing station in Grand Gaube, a fishing village in northern Mauritius.
People bump into each other to buy the fish that this cooperative society has just harvested from cages out in the lagoon.
“We don’t get fresh fish all year round. We have to buy frozen ones. This is an opportunity for us to eat some fresh ones,” one customer Marie-Ange Beezadhur tells IPS as she tries to negotiate her way through the crowd.
In the lagoon, about 500 metres from the coast, two platforms have been set up, each with four underwater cages.
In one average-size cage of four square metres, there are about 5,000 fingerlings, or young fish, which are fed pellets and seaweed collected from the lagoon.
It takes eight months for the fish to grow to about 500 grammes, with a small cage producing about four tonnes of fish, and a large one producing about 25 tonnes.
To date, aquaculture has been introduced to three areas in the surrounding ocean here, while a further 19 sites have been identified.
The cages, nets, fingerlings, and feed have all been provided for free by the government and the European Union (EU) under the Decentralised Cooperation Programme.
Marie and the 14 members of this cooperative society catch fish on a line for seven months of the year and for the remaining five months they aquafarm – they were trained to do this by the Albion Fisheries Research Centre.

 It seems like a great idea, but aquaculture, like agriculture, is not really environmentally benign. We have a number of salmon farms here in BC, and if you haven't watched Salmon Confidential yet, well, let's just say that it's required viewing. And when it comes to fish farms, Alexandra Morton has been keeping track of their effect on the local environment for decades.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ALEC and the Corporate World

I didn't see this when it first aired, but I'm listening to the show as I type. This is Moyers and Company on ALEC: the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is one of the most significant ways that corporations re-shape the laws of a country to favour their pet projects--like charter schools and the disbanding of public education, or the carry of concealed weapons , tort "reform", or taking away the right to collective bargaining--anything that allows the 1% to become richer and strip the wealth and rights of the public at large.

Until there was a whistleblower, no one really knew how deep into the legislative process this outfit had penetrated. The development of model laws and the work on getting them passed state by state is detailed. One area which particularly concerns me is the work done to stop renewable energy research and purchase.

Moyers and Co. did a follow up to the original report (above).  It is all very interesting, and does help to explain the insanity that is apparent south of the border. But it also helps explain the insanity north of the border as well. Alberta enshrining charter schools and the rights of parents to take their kids out of the public school system. The progressive control over public policy exerted by Big Oil. The inability of our Prime Minister to even say the words "global warming." With a smaller "elite" to draw from, the links between Bay Street and the Hill are even tighter here than they are in the State legislatures in the US. rankly, it's time to Occupy democracy. We don't actually need an "elite" to make our decisions for us--we are perfectly capable, both individually and together, to understand the problems facing us and to make our own damned decisions. And it's time to talk about an 80% corporate tax rate and an even higher one on personal wealth.