Global food (in)justice

With more than one billion people around the world considered overweight, why are so many others still starving and struggling to fill their plates? And what can be done to make the global food system more equitable?

Riz Khan interviews the brilliant Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy.

A Short Border Handbook

I met Gazmend Kapllani, a Greek of Albanian origin, during a recent visit to Germany (for a British Council ‘Our Shared Europe’ conference). He’s a great conversationalist, so I was pleased when he promised to send me one of his books. A Short Border Handbook arrived this morning. I took it back to bed, planning to read the blurb and perhaps the first chapter before adding it to my enormous pile of books-to-be-read. But I read the whole thing in one go.

It’s not a novel but it feels like one, because it’s so lightly yet densely written, full of stories and humour and therefore with a texture more human than journalistic. Part autobiography, part fiction, part philosophy, Kapllani’s book reminds us that a migrant, unlike a tourist, is the weak pole in relation to his host society, and that the weak are never respected, however hard they work. The Handbook’s general ruminations are applicable to any migrant, but it also addresses very specifically the conditions in Albania in the 1990s which forced so many people to move.

It has the following to say about Enver Hoxha. Examples of other fallen dictators will leap into readers’ minds:

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The Impact Today and Tomorrow of Chalmers Johnson

by Steve Clemons

chal johnson.jpgNext week, Foreign Policy magazine and its editor-in-chief Susan Glasser will be releasing its 2nd annual roster of the world’s greatest thinkers and doers in foreign policy. I have seen the list — and it’s impressively creative and eclectic.

There is one name that is not on the FP100 who should be — and that is Chalmers Johnson, who from my perspective rivals Henry Kissinger as the most significant intellectual force who has shaped and defined the fundamental boundaries and goal posts of US foreign policy in the modern era.

Johnson, who passed away Saturday afternoon at 79 years, invented and was the acknowledged godfather of the conceptualization of the “developmental state“. For the uninitiated, this means that Chalmers Johnson led the way in understanding the dynamics of how states manipulated their policy conditions and environments to speed up economic growth. In the neoliberal hive at the University of Chicago, Chalmers Johnson was an apostate and heretic in the field of political economy. Johnson challenged conventional wisdom with he and his many star students — including E.B. Keehn, David Arase, Marie Anchordoguy, Mark Tilton and others — writing the significant treatises documenting the growing prevalence of state-led industrial and trade and finance policy abroad, particularly in Asia.

Today, the notion of “State Capitalism” has become practically commonplace in discussing the newest and most significant features of the global economy. Chalmers Johnson invented this field and planted the intellectual roots of understanding that other nation states were not trying to converge with and follow the so-called American model.

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From Beirut to Kabul: War, Occupation, Resistance

One of the world’s best frontline reporters, Nir Rosen recently returned from a six week trip to seven of Iraq’s provinces. He discussed post civil war Iraq and also his experiences reporting on Sunni-Shiite strife in Lebanon and on the situation in Afghanistan at The University of Texas at Austin on November 17, 2010.


Nato: Going Global

From Al Jazeera’s excellent Empire with Marwan Bishara.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the largest military force ever assembled, with a potential armed force of more than seven million. But as its original enemies, communism and the Soviet Union, were defeated two decades ago, what is the alliance’s new identity or new role?

Israel demolishes mosque

Israeli forces have demolished a mosque and several other buildings in the northern Jordan valley. They say the structure was built without a permit but residents say the mosque was built before 1967 and was recently renovated. The Palestinian government has condemned the action as state destruction, while Israel continues to fight for Israeli settlers.

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports from the Jordan Valley.