Apr 21 2008
[Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.]
Some kind of quantity changing into quality point has been reached–suddenly the newspapers are full of "in-depth" reports on the global food crisis, a crisis that seems to have sprung up as suddenly as the credit crisis did a few months ago. I've been tracking this for a while and decided to think on the keyboard instead of out loud. I think it is important to try and understand this while it is a New Thing, before it becomes more background noise in world politics and our daily lives.
1. Production shortages and inflation are two major factors in the crisis.
What's causing the shortages?
Global warming is widely regarded as a contributing factor in droughts which have stricken not only subsistence farmers in East Africa, but also major commodity grain producers in the Southern Hemisphere–Chile, Argentina, and especially Australia, with thousands of square miles in their eighth straight year with no rainfall to speak of.
Growing Asian economies, especially in China and India, have made possible better and more diverse diets for hundreds of millions of people. This growing demand for food has additionally seen rising meat consumption by the middle class (echoing US consumption trends), and, as vegetarians are quick to point out, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef.
Mar 11 2008
This week’s Litchfield County Times has a fascinating and instructive article on CT State Senator Andrew Roraback (R-30th District). Universally known as Andy in the NW Corner of Connecticut, where he is widely respected as honest and effective, especially on environmental issues, he is one of an endangered species, moderate New England Republicans.
His rep is good enough that he was one of 24 local elected officials (half and half) from around the nation given a Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship, this one with a focus on helping foster further understanding of foreign governments and policy issues.
Well, this crop of Fellows were just shipped to the Middle East and it was evidently quite the wake-up call to Sen. Roraback. He learned first hand that that a lot of Iraqis have bailed out of their country in desperate fear:
“When you see a room crowded with people who have fled Iraq, you see the human cost [of the war],” he said. “We know the cost to American lives, but there are 500,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan and they’ve fled their home because of the war. It put a face on the cost of this war in this country.”
Nov 15 2007
Or: Taking on McCarthyism with Elvis and Cherry Cokes
(crossposted at Daily Kos)
With barely 24 hour to go before the start of Iraq Moratorium Day #3, I should probably be kvelling about the 100 or so Third Friday events posted on the Moratorium website. But you can check ’em out your own self.
Instead I want to highlight a great piece of political judo in written form, and in doing so, give one more plug to a great Moratorium crew, the folks in Sewanee, TN. A couple weeks ago I diaried their adventures with a heckler calling them “commies” at their Moratorium Day #2 venue in nearby Monteagle.
Later I learned that they had also faced a bit of redbaiting in the letters column of a local paper. The letter-writer caught hell from readers who weren’t even part of the protest, but regular Moratorium participant Pat Wiser took the honors with the following response which appeared in the Tullahoma News on October 28:
To the Editor:
Sometimes I miss the good ole days in 1950’s Coffee County: the Tullahoma-Manchester Coffee Pot game, cherry cokes in the drugstore on the square, Elvis on the jukebox. I don’t miss the fear and suspicion generated by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s unfounded accusations of “communism,” a tactic that re-surfaced in an Oct. 21 letter, warning of peace vigil participants’ “ties to communist groups.”
We aren’t communists. Iraq Moratorium isn’t a communist organization. Our ties? Farmers, veterans (World War II, Korea, Vietnam), ministers, teachers, home makers — small-town folk. Some donate to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and veterans’ groups; others organize drives, sending items to the troops.
While friends still enjoy the Coffee Pot game, alas, we no longer stand cheering on the football field. Now we stand on the corner of N. Jackson and Wilson (or in Sewanee, Monteagle, Winchester) in the heat or rain in vigils of support for our troops — not the “exciting and glamorous,” experience described by the writer.
We stand in sadness. The Department of Defense confirms the deaths of 3,834 American soldiers in Iraq, 200 since our first vigil in late July. The old “commies” taunt is insignificant as we honor the brave men and women fighting this senseless war.
[Pat was asked for permission to print this in its entirety, as the Tullahoma News doesn’t post letters on its limited website and, despite an impressive modesty about her effort, agreed.]