farmers' rights

Venezuela: Slave labour or just growing more food?


Venezuelans taking part in a voluntary program to boost a slowly developing agricultural sector, described by the US media as "slavery".

The United States media’s latest offensive against Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro targets a new sustainability program that transplants urban workers to farmland. Some quarters of the mainstream media have equated it with slave labour.

At the US Democratic National Convention, fossil fuel companies shack up with media

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, it seems a sticker is all it takes to keep you out of a room—at least the rooms brought to you by the fossil fuel industry.

Southern Highlands' residents fight coal mine

Hume Coal is about to lodge plans for a massive coalmine that, if approved, will be the first large scale coking coal mining operation in the Southern Highlands. The coal will be destined for POSCO's steel mills in South Korea. Hume Coal is fully owned by POSCO.

In Venezuela's hard times, the grassroots are getting stronger


Members of the Merida communal council distributing food. Photo by Tamara Pearson.

It's been three years now of food shortages, inflation, and queues in Venezuela, and the millions of people involved in community and movement organizing have been the most affected. But they've also defied right-wing and general expectations, and even perhaps the expectations of the Maduro government, and have become stronger and better organized as a result of the hardships.

Struggle reawakens in Zimbabwe


A march for jobs in Zimbabwe.

A national shutdown or 'stay away' in Zimbabwe this month paralysed the country. For the first time in years the country's ruling party, ZANU-PF, and the tenure of 92 year old president Robert Mugabe, were seriously rattled. Young people, workers and traders – who survive by hawking food, cheap imported goods in cities and towns – engaged in pitch battles with the police and army, in many cases outnumbering the security forces.

Pakistan: Anti-terror laws used against peasants' movement

In the dead of night on July 17, police vans snaked their way into Chak 4-L village in Okara City in Punjab province.

At about 2am, several dozen police officers forced entry into the house of Mehr Abdul Jabbar, younger brother of jailed peasant leader Mehr Abdul Sattar.

They broke down the front door and opened fire indiscriminately, shattering cupboards and other household items. They departed 15 minutes later but left behind a cloud of uncertainty and fear that spread among the villagers jolted awake by the gunfire.

Bill Gates 'silver bullet' misfires at Mandela Lecture

Bill Gates was set to deliver the July 17 annual Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, justifying his philosophy of market-oriented, technology-centric philanthropy.

Last year, French economist Thomas Piketty’s speech on inequality attracted healthy debate — with even business notables endorsing his concerns — given South Africa’s intense social conflict.

To illustrate, South Africa’s Gini Coefficient measuring inequality is the world’s highest (at 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, in terms of income inequality from employment). Since 2000, social protests have numbered on average 11 per day.

Fracking: bad in USA, worse in Western Australia

I moved to Perth in June last year from a small, rural town in central Pennsylvania. There I witnessed first-hand the impact of the “fracking” boom — the rapid exploitation of the unconventional gas resources in the Marcellus shale play.

It hit rural Pennsylvania particularly hard because it is economically depressed, struggling to make ends meet by farming and what's left of manufacturing that has not been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other exploitable labour pools.

Challenge to federal approval of CSG expansion in Queensland

The Western Downs Alliance has started legal proceedings to challenge federal environment minister Greg Hunt's approval of 6100 coal seam gas wells in Queensland.

The Santos GLNG Gas Field Development Expansion covers almost 1 million hectares of land, from Roma east to Taroom and Wandoan, and north towards Rolleston.

Award-winning Indian filmmakers take on Monsanto

“When one farmer kills themselves you can call it suicide. But when a quarter of a million farmers kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide. These farmers are being killed by design.”

So opens Cotton For My Shroud, a documentary about embattled Indian farmers and the assault on traditional rural agricultural life waged by Monsanto and the political class in its pockets.

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