Large swaths of land are being secretly bought up by international investors, especially in Africa, according to Oxfam. Much of this land is used for growing sugar cane and oil palm for biofuels rather than for growing food. In Mozambique, for instance, only 32,000 out of 433,000 hectares of land approved for sale between 2007 and 2009 were used for food crops. These land purchases by outside interests leave the former inhabitants without sufficient land to meet their own needs (Guardian, September 22).
Oct 13, 2011
When Robert Jay Lifton embarked on a project of interviewing Nazi death camp doctors, he started having bad dreams in which he was in a place like Auschwitz along with family members. He talked with Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor, about the dreams. Wiesel's response: "Good, now you can do the study." Lifton understood Wiesel to be saying that he had to inhabit the subject psychologically, not just academically. That was his way of paying his dues (Witness to an Extreme Century, Free Press).
Oct 13, 2011
Former President Jimmy Carter thinks it was a mistake for the U.S. to veto the bid in the United Nations for Palestinian statehood. He argued that President Obama could make good on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize by backing the move for Palestinian statehood (Haaretz, October 6).
Old immigration story
Oct 13, 2011
Benjamin Franklin's freethinking ways didn't include tolerance for other ethnic groups, especially German immigrants. He wondered why "Palatine Boors [that is, Germans] be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and be herding together [to] establish their languages and manners to exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language [or] customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion" (John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Westminster John Knox).
Oct 11, 2011
Compulsive consumerism has come to dominate British family life, according to a study done by UNICEF UK. One mother reported that she thought her three-year-old son would be bullied if he didn't have a Nintendo DS games system at home. Parents are putting long hours into work and giving their children consumer goods as compensation. Children interviewed in the study said they would prefer more time with their parents. "We are probably the most secular society in the world, we do not have the counterbalance of religion," says Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood. From the time they are born children get the message that "the one thing that matters is getting more stuff" (Telegraph, September 14).