Restocking the Global Kiosk

24 Jun

Well it’s time to begin restocking the Global Kiosk; in fact, it’s more like long overdue. But work and travel have kept me too busy to do anything but collect clippings on things I would like to write about. There was my book launch to organize in early June, and copies to send out to the many people in the social movements I wrote about in it.

There was also the speech I had to prepare for a panel at Toronto’s Centre for Victims of Torture, a very valuable but insufficiently funded  service that helps immigrants to Canada who have suffered in their homelands from political upheaval, imprisonment without trial, much less anything like legitimate charges, and torture.

I spoke on the connection between poverty and human rights abuse, an obvious connection, really, that has everything to do with the lack of accountability of repressive governments towards most of their populations  but especially the poor.

Then on a completely different note, I visited a farm this week in the Toronto suburb of Brampton for an article on FarmStart for the Globe and Mail. Flanked by malls and newly built housing complexes,  factory stacks and apartment buildings looming in the distance, the McVean Farm was a muddy oasis of flourishing market gardens. The urban folk who rent its plots cultivate all kinds of healthy organic produce for growing numbers of Torontonians, and bring fresh thinking to modern, family-based agriculture in general. As they put it, projects like FarmStart can meet the challenges of farming head on “with a variety of solutions that promote a sustainable, healthy and regional food supply.” It does so by encouraging new farmers from all walks of life and different countries to look for entrepreneurial strategies through small-plot, high-value, intensive agriculture.

While carrying out my interviews in its 19th-century wooden barn, I had to make an effort to not be distracted by the constant swoopings of the resident barn swallows. Their dive-bombing raids on mosquitoes and other flying insects were difficult to ignore when I needed to be concentrating on listening and asking questions. But it has been so many years since I’ve even seen a barn swallow, I just had to add a photo below. (They’re the tiny pale specks on the slanted beam in the top left-hand corner.)

In fact, this is going to be one Globe and Mail article I will probably link to this blog once it’s finally published in its on-line Your Business/Sustainability section.

In the meantime, the most I can do is put in a link here to an article from the Guardian on how the International Monetary Fund is set to interfere in the popular aspirations for a better economic future in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. Even as its president Dominique Strauss-Kahn languishes in luxurious house arrest in Manhattan, the IMF is hoping to lock in its “neo-liberal projects” before elections can be held in those countries.

Then there is an article on the need for the OECD to “give up control of the aid agenda” by Jonathan Glennie, whose book on the structural shortcomings of aid to Africa I am in the process of reading.

There should be lots more coming now that I seem to have time to take a breather from conventional journalism. There is certainly a constant supply of stories out there about the depredations of big corporations and feckless governments on world’s poor. Maybe I’ll even get around to finally cleaning my house.

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