Obama in Berlin

A great picture of the crowd in front of the stage – How many photographers of Obama are in this picture?

The Chaordic Path and Stepping Stones

Toke Møller and Monica Nissén weave stories around the chaordic path and stepping stones.
Video & video cutting by Helen Titchen-Beeth

The Power of Words and Hope

A tremendous speech (part of) by Barak Obama whom, if he would run for European Presidency (we don’t have that, yet) I would certainly choose…


Organic Farming Can Feed the World

As Whole Foods CEO John Mackey seems to have had his share of seemingly not too integral business (we’re all infallible, remember?) This bit of news reached me, and I’m happy to report it back to you… just in case you get into one of these arguments that we need ‘chemical farming methods’ to feed the world…

Organic farming could feed the world


A switch to organic farming would not reduce the world’s food supply and could also increase food security in developing countries, say the authors of a new study.

They claim their findings lay to rest the debate over whether organic farming could sustainably feed the world. Organic farming avoids or heavily restricts the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, as well as livestock feed additives.

Numerous studies have compared the yields of organic and conventional methods for individual crops and animal products (see 20-year study backs organic farming).

Now, a team of researchers has compiled research from 293 different comparisons into a single study to assess the overall efficiency of the two agricultural systems.

Available materials

Ivette Perfecto of the University of Michigan in the US and her colleagues found that, in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture. In developing countries, however, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms.

Perfecto points out that the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible to farmers in poor countries.

Those poor farmers may buy the same seeds as conventional farms use in rich countries, but they cannot afford the fertilisers and pesticides needed for intensive agriculture. However, “organic fertiliser doesn’t cost much – they can produce it on their own farms”, says Perfecto.

Using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the team then estimated what would happen if farms worldwide were to switch to organic methods today.

The world currently produces the equivalent of 2786 calories per person per day. The researchers found that under an organic-only regime, farms could produce between 2641 and 4381 calories per person per day.

Misplaced debate

Perfecto’s colleague Catherine Badgley says she believes the calculations they carried out to arrive at the upper number are more realistic. These took into account the higher yields that would be obtained in developing countries, and the details of which crops are grown where.

She points out that even the lower number is sufficient to feed the world. Nutritionists recommend that people consume between 2100 and 2500 calories a day.

The debate over whether the world can produce enough organic food is misplaced, argues Perfecto: “We are producing enough food – it’s a question of distribution of that food.”

The researchers also found that small farms tend to produce more per hectare of land. “An increase in the number of small farms would enhance food production,” they say. They also note that although organic production tends to require more labour, this labour is often spread out more evenly over the growing season, making it easier to manage.

Precision farming

Carl Pray, at University of Rutgers, New Jersey, US, says there is good evidence that small-scale farming in developing countries is more efficient. This is probably because small farms put more effort in the precise management of small areas of land.

But, he says, “the likelihood of all farms reverting to ‘small farmerdom’ is a big question in an age in which labour is becoming more and more expensive. Take China and India, for instance: the demand for labour is such that people are continually being pulled out of the countryside”.

Perfecto, however, maintains that the idea that conventional farming is cheap is a fallacy. “That is not including the real costs. Once you incorporate the cost to the health of people, once you incorporate the environment cost – then organic agriculture is a much superior system.”

Pesticides are associated with a number of diseases, including cancer – a fact that was first brought to public attention in Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Organic farming is thought to benefit biodiversity and the environment, as well as human health.

  • NewScientist.com news service
  • Catherine Brahic

Children in Karnataka…

Uma has written an interesting story “Fighting over Eggs” in her blog two days ago that really touched me.

A short while back they were fighting  over eggs in the state of  Karnataka in southern India. The government had had the idea of serving boiled eggs to school children as part of a nourishment programme….

A really great idea, don’t you think? Especially since, as Uma writes, the state has surplus eggs. But the thing turned ugly, that is – political.

The opposition party, (the “BJP”)   insisted  that instead of serving eggs to school children, the government include milk or fruit in the supplementary programme

I mean, why not supplement eggs with milk or fruit? Why instead?  It must be political, very much so, because then…

Officials from the  Women and Child  Department and several prominent  figures from literary world suggested that the children be asked  what they preferred…

Great idea – sorry, I can’t spare myself a cynical remark here – instead of giving the children eggs and milk and fruit, ask them questions: make a questionaire, send out people, produce a lot of paper – that is: don’t gve them a choice in reality (“Miss, is it okay to just eat the eggs today?…”), give them one in name only.

So what came of it? Uma writes:

No milk, no  fruit and no eggs for the children.

So I’m gonna do the little thing that I can do about it: I’m gonna write an open letter to

PMO (Office of the Prime Minister of India)
New Delhi 110011

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

Through a blog entry on zaadz.com I have heard of the plans of the government of Karnataka to provide the schoolchildren there with eggs as supplemental food.

I have also read that due to political infighting this plan has not come to fruition even though the state of Karnataka could – as I hear it has a surplus of eggs – quite easily do so.

I’m not well versed in the political realities in your magnificent country but I would think that if you, as the Prime Minister, would encourage the government of Karnataka to leave the political fighting behind for the sake of the children and their education, then these children and many people of this world who are concerned about the future generations will be very thankfull to you indeed.

Yours truthfully,

Mushin J. Schilling

Sometimes we need reasons to hope

  • The number of international crises – defined as situations that leaders consider imminently threatening to their countries’ security – has declined by more than two-thirds since 1981, according to the Human Security Report.
  • Instances of genocide and mass killings of ideological foes are also down from 10 a year in the early 1990s to one in 2004, according to Barbara Harff, a conflict historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. That one is grave, however: It’s in Darfur, Sudan, where Arab militias have killed at least 70,000 black Africans.
  • In 1946, 20 nations in the world were democracies, according to the Maryland institute’s Peace and Conflict 2005 report. Today, 88 countries are. Many scholars contend that democracies go to war more slowly and rarely fight one another.
  • The number of United Nations peacekeeping operations more than doubled from 1988 to 2005, from seven to 17.


More Americans have now died In Iraq than died On 9/11

Boing Boing: More Americans have now died In Iraq than died On 9/11

That’s maybe interesting to know as the US-government pretended to wage a war on terrorism.
But what truly baffles me is that not even a mention is made of the many thousand Iraqians who have been killed because of this war…

Some good news…

… is always nice to find.

Here are the Top Ten Good News Stories of the Week, published every weekend . . .

1) Encouraging Results in Iraqi Police Recruiting More than 500 Iraqi men have joined the police in Anbar province — the most violent area of the Sunni Arab insurgency — in what militarysunsetoverreeds leaders called the most successful recruiting drive in the region ever by U.S. and Iraqi forces… (Civics)

2) Wetlands Restored After 107 Years – Not many wetlands have been restored in the world, or in California “where 95 percent of saltwater marshes have been given over to development”. But, this week environmentalists watched the ocean flood back over historic tidewaters, the culmination of a 30-year effort to restore the massive Bolsa Chica wetland. (Earth)

3) Judge Rules Bush’s Relaxed Pesticide Law Illegal – A federal judge in Seattle overturned new Bush administration rules that weaken the governing of pesticide use and their effect on endangered plants and animals. The court struck down the EPA’s new rules and restored prior standards that provided greater protection. (Earth)

4) Fighting Terrorism by Building Peace… One School at a TimeGreg Mortenson is an anti-terrorism warrior in the Islamic strongholds of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and his main weapon is building schools… “Americans are now learning that we can’t fight the war on terrorism with bombs.” (Inspired! Individuals)

5) Camp Grows Friendship Between Middle Eastern Kids, Traditionally Foes – If you were invited to sit down with your enemy for a cup of tea and discuss your conflicting views, would you do it? … More than 2,500 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Pakistani and Indian kids spent three weeks with their “enemies” at a summer camp in the US arguing, understanding, and ultimately coming to respect the humanity behind every face – even their enemies. (Civics)


6) Black Rhino Numbers Up 20 Percent Over Two YearsBlack rhino numbers are on the rise in Kenya after years of decline from poaching and habitat loss. According to officials, the country’s black rhino population has increased 20 percent over two years… (Earth)

7) Katrina, Rita Create Unexpected Boom – Despite dire forecasts that Gulf Coast governors would have to slash state budgets in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita one year ago, a new report finds that booming “hurricane economies” have fueled state revenue surpluses across the region. State revenues in hardest-hit Louisiana and Mississippi swelled since the storms. (Civics)
8) Costco to Eliminating Customer-Infuriating Plastic Clamshell Packaging – Great news about those horrible plastic shell encasements that seem to require super-human strength — and stabbing motion with scissors — to extract anything from their clutches. Costco will begin to use recycled cases that are easy to open… (Home Life)

9) Scientists Flock to Test ‘Free Energy’ Magnetic Field Discovery – Sean McCarthy says that his small hi-tech firm in Dublin has hit upon a way of generating clean, free and constant energy from the interaction of magnetic fields. He took out an advertisement asking for scientists to test his product. The response was overwhelming. (Science)

10) Trapped Cat Tugs At Hearts Of 4 Youths Who Rescue It – Frantic cries rose from a sewer drain that was quickly filling with water. Four boys found a cat hanging on for dear life. They couldn’t reach it by themselves but figured out a way to help. With a happy, but also a very surprising ending, this story will cheer all pet-lovers. (Pets)

more of this here

O Rapture!

So, I thought it might be appropriate to list some of the many other times in history that religious fanatics of all kinds have decided the world was about to end, what they did about it, and what really happened to those who followed them when the world did not end as scheduled.

Read more here: What really happened

Peace?! What a Foreign Concept…

just wanted to share this post on Elza Maalouf’s blog here with you.

It was much easier for me to think rationally about the war in Iraq. Like others who are interested in the Middle East or come from it, I was able to analyze the situation in Iraq to the best of my ability, discuss the issue with Iraqi friends or on the various listserves, and try to use developmental theories to justify certain decisions made by the US or by the Iraqis.

With this Lebanese tragedy, I find myself struggling not to scream at people who don’t see the situation from my perspective. All the socio-political, psychological and spiritual theories are reduced to a reactionary thinking on my part. I guess that the loss of souls and the pain of so many people with whom I share history, roots and DNA made me regress to a narrow ethnocentric mindset. Nothing is wrong with that, I know. However I wonder why I don’t feel the same intensity when I read about the genocide in Darfur, and the famine that the world can prevent in Niger.

When I say I have a worldcentric view, I know that I mean it on a ‘good day’…not when Ali, Fatima, George, Mohamad and Marie from Southern Lebanon, Beirut or the Bekaa Valley are displaced, wounded or in pain.

I do feel for every Israeli and Lebanese mother suffering for a child, a husband or a brother. They have nothing to do with politicians, militias and war. They just happen to be there living with hopes and dreams of a happy family and a better future…