Father’s Day in prison

It’s Father’s Day today, and while many were celebrating, one father, South African head of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo spent the day in prison.

Naidoo was arrested for boarding a Cairn’s Oil Rig in the Arctic, holding the latest 50 000 signatures in a petition to end Arctic drilling, and demanding to see their oil spill response plan.

Cairns Oil is the same oil company that, in their attempted injunction against Greenpeace, saw the judge agreeing that BP’s skimping on a second valve cost the world billions in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that safety is in everyone’s interest, and asking why Cairns don’t simply release their safety plan.

They still haven’t, and it was this plan that Naidoo was demanding be released when he was arrested.

Many recovery plans have been made public, but this one hasn’t, and many feel it’s because there isn’t a viable plan – cleaning up an Arctic oil spill is almost impossible.

It’s one of the unfolding tragedies that as the Arctic ice melts thanks in part to our oil economy, oil companies are moving in to the newly exposed territories and drilling for oil. As Naidoo says, “I’m an African but I care deeply about what’s happening up here.”

View the video of Naidoo boarding the oil rig here.

Food inflation
Food inflation is sky-high right now, and it seems that with almost every new batch of stock we’re seeing a price increase.

The causes of this are numerous – high petrol prices are key, but international markets also play a role in food prices.

This week the US Senate voted to end ethanol subsidies. Subsidies are a controversial topic – what’s seen in a local market as supporting local farmers and securing local food supply becomes unfair trade when the same food arrives on the other side of the world, now cheaper than the local produce thanks to huge subsidies, particularly from Europe and the United States.

The US has until recently subsidised maize farmers to grow maize, not for food, but for bio-fuel – ethanol. Maize is a terrible choice for bio-fuel. It’s far less efficient than the sugar-cane primarily used in Brazil, or a host of other crops, but was selected due to the political influence of large agricultural companies in the so-called “corn-belt” in the US.

Unfortunately, with farmers now growing maize for ethanol and not for food, thanks to 6 billion US dollar in subsidies, maize prices have increased drastically. Taken together with monstrous fires in Russia and Eastern Europe, destroying much of the world’s wheat crop, and now Thai politician attempts to stop rice exports (Thailand is one of the major sources of rice worldwide), prices in the three most commonly eaten grains have skyrocketed.

Dropping the ethanol subsidy makes sense (although the Senate vote alone is not enough to implement this yet), but unfortunately the US has no plans to drop its subsidies for oil. Even the most rabid of cost-cutting politicians, aiming to slash healthcare, environmental protection and the like, claiming these are all unnecessary and wasteful and that belts must be tightened, draws quiet when it comes to the two big taboos – oil and the military.

It was only in 1961 that outgoing US president Dwight Eisenhower warned of the rise of a military-industrial complex, and the disastrous potential for misplaced power, seeing the “total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — being felt in every city”.

With the US spending more on weapons and its military than the rest of the world combined – far more – it’s clear his warning has gone unheeded.

Not everything is going up
Amidst all the increases, some prices have come down. Our Featured and New section this week lists specials on avocados, cinnamon sugar, white pepper and raw chocolate, amongst others.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za.

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Ethical Co-op » Blog Archive » Yesterday’s naive idealism…

    [...] Naidoo, arrested last week for protesting Cairn’s oil prospecting in the Arctic circle, was released this week after [...]