Thursday 29 December 2011

The Great Hunger Lottery

THE GREAT HUNGER LOTTERY. How Banking Speculation
Causes Food Crisis.
Report by World Development Movement

Take the highest stakes, riskiest economic behaviour ever devised, and marry it to the most fundamental basic need of humankind, and you have the subject of this report.

Over the past decade, the world’s most powerful financial institutions have developed ever more elaborate ways to package, re-package and trade a range of financial contracts known as derivatives. A derivative is not based on an exchange of tangible assets such as goods or money, but rather is a financial contract with a value linked to the expected future price movements of the underlying asset. Derivative contracts are traded on a growing number of underlying assets, from share prices, to mortgages, bonds, commodity prices, foreign exchange rates, and even index of prices.

Derivatives trading has been one of the most lucrative parts of the financial industry, but it is the increasingly complex, opaque and disconnected nature of these and similar products that ultimately triggered the collapse of the banks and the worst financial crisis in human history.

Of course, the financial crisis has been an economic disaster of seismic proportions for millions around the world, plunging many countries into recession causing millions to be thrown out of work, soaring public debts and cuts in vital public services.

But while betting on the value of sub-prime mortgages or foreign currency values undoubtedly leads to disastrous consequences, there is another area where the speculative behaviour of the world’s largest banks and hedge funds represents a threat to the very survival of people: food commodities.

In The great hunger lottery, World Development Movement has compiled extensive evidence establishing the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world. This in turn, has led to food prices becoming unaffordable for low-income families around the world, particularly in developing countries highly reliant on food imports.

In the report we describe how the current situation came to pass, the risks of another speculation induced food crisis, and what specifically can be done by policymakers here in the UK as well as in the US and EU to tackle the problem.

But at its heart, The great hunger lottery carries a very straightforward message: allowing gambling on hunger in financial markets is dangerous, immoral and indefensible. And it needs to be stopped before any more people suffer to satisfy the greed of the banks.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

A Mine in the Dumpster

13.12.2011 - Humanjournalism

In Guatemala, dozens of people try to make a living in one of the worst jobs in the world. These people look for valuable objects in the foul waters that flow from the bottom of a 300 m deep cliff, located just a few blocks away from the Presidential Palace.

Dozens of people look for heavy metals in the foul waters at the bottom of Guatemala City’s biggest dumpster, known as “the mine”. Hundreds of informal workers dig every day through the filth looking for valuable objects to sell. The group is known as “the miners” and they expose themselves to the extreme risk of landslides. But many of them make about 150 Quetzals ($20) a day, almost double the country’s minimum wage. 

At the bottom of this cliff sits the junction of unique circumstances: on one side there is the boundary of the city’s general dumpster, with mountains of waste that never stop to grow, overflow, tumble down and advance gaining space.

On the other, a tunnel exit that spews out a great flow of water from the city’s sewer system. 

Monday 26 December 2011

Gandhi Speaks of Christmas...

Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth: God for Christians, a prophet for other religions, and a reference of goodness and wisdom for humanity.

Gandhi Speaks of Christmas...

... Jesus preached a new life. He called men to repentance... For though we (sing), "All glory to God on High and on the earth be peace," there seems to be today neither glory to God nor peace on earth. As long as it remains a hunger still unsatisfied...

When, therefore, one wishes "A Happy Christmas" without the meaning behind it, it becomes nothing more than an empty formula. And unless one wishes for peace for all life, one cannot wish for peace for oneself. It is a self-evident axiom, like the axioms of Euclid, that one cannot have peace unless there is in one an intense longing for peace all around.

And so, as the miraculous birth is an eternal event, so is the Cross an eternal event in this stormy life. Therefore, we dare not think of birth without death on the cross. Living Christ means a living Cross, without it life is a living death. Jesus lived and died in vain if he did not teach us to regulate the whole of life by the eternal Law of Love.

It is my firm opinion that (the West) today represents not the spirit of God or Christianity... It is really worshipping Mammon. 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.' Thus really spoke Jesus Christ. Here you have an eternal rule of life...

Christ died on the Cross with a crown of thorns on his head defying the might of a whole empire. The message of Jesus, as I understand it, is contained in his Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole. This teaching was non-retaliation, or non-resistance to evil.

The virtues of mercy, non-violence, love and truth in any man can be truly tested only when they are pitted against ruthlessness, violence, hate and untruth... by devoting the season to a real moral stocktaking and emphasizing consecration to the service of mankind for which Jesus lived and died on the Cross.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Marches and Rallies Throughout Spain Against the Causes of Starvation, Unemployment and Child Slavery

Within the context of the 25th-year Campaign for Justice in North-South Relations, during the last two weekends, EL MOVIMIENTO CULTURAL CRISTIANO – Christian Cultural Movement, CAMINO JUVENIL SOLIDARIO  – Solidarity Youth Path, and SAIn Political Party held protest marches and rallies throughout Spain to denounce the causes of Starvation, Unemployment and Child Slavery

Some of the places where these marches took place were A Coruña, Albacete, Badajoz, Barcelona, Burgos, Córdoba, Granada, Gijón, Huelva, Jaén,  Alcalá de Henares, downtown Madrid, Getafe, Las Palmas, Málaga, Murcia, Oviedo, Pamplona, Santiago, Santander, Seville, Torrelavega, Úbeda, Valladolid, Villafranca, Zaragoza…  
These marches join the solidarity fights of the impoverished, who go into the streets to denounce they are hungry because they are plundered of their wealth, to denounce centuries of hollow charity, alms, and development aid, which have been band-aid solutions perpetuating poverty.
Every day 100,000 people die of starvation; half of them are children. Eight out of ten people in the world suffer from hunger; this being the primary political problem because it is the primary cause of mortality in the world. The demonstrators denounced that the world has the resources to feed more than twice the world’s current population and that therefore, hunger-related deaths are preventable, that they are murders!
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been promoting the privatization of services such as water, health and education in impoverished countries, by attaching this condition to grants and loans, which has brought about an even worse standard of living for their populations and a higher number of deaths.
Another reason for marching was to condemn the Spanish Immigration Law, which criminalizes immigrants who are arrested as if they were delinquents; they are taken to (CIEs, in Spanish) Immigration Detention Centers, inhumane jails for innocent people, where human rights are violated, where immigrants are victims of mistreatment and torture.
Regarding unemployment, the protesters demanded permanent full employment for every worker and a fair salary, exclaiming that labor must have priority over capital.  It was claimed that unemployment fosters fear and division among workers, that this is business, that the so-called crisis caused by the powerful intends to get workers to accept working conditions of greater exploitation and leads to an even greater concentration of riches.