Haiti: After a day of deliveries, US ship runs out of aid

Is that what you call full support???

Robert Gates: “I don’t know how … [the US] government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has,” he said.

The announcements came after US President Barack Obama pledged full American support in a phone call to his Haitian counterpart Rene Preval.

Source: US sending up to 10,000 troops to earthquake-hit Haiti (BBC NEWS)

Maybe this is what the US calls full support:

U.S. commander in Haiti: We’ll be here as long as needed (CNN)

Send in the military and stay.

Is this the best the US can do?


uss_carl_vinson_on_patrol_in_the_pacific
USS Carl Vinson (Click on image to enlarge)

(AFP) — Helicopters sit ready to go from this US aircraft carrier off Haiti, but there’s a problem: after a day of frantic aid runs there is simply nothing left to deliver.

Aboard the warship some 3,500 US military personnel have been coordinating the flights of 19 US helicopters carrying aid since early morning.

Visible from the ship is Haiti’s scarred capital city Port-au-Prince, devastated by Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude, which Haitian officials say killed at least 50,000 people.

In less than 12 hours, helicopters from the USS Carl Vinson made some 20 trips to scout the ravaged landscape and deliver items that were originally intended for the ship’s crew.

Among the supplies dropped off were thousands of bottles of water and energy drinks, 8,000 sheets and hundreds of camp beds.

Dozens of hospital beds have been arranged on board the ship to accomadate those injured in the quake, including a US citizen evacuated from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince.

The take off and landing space offered by aircraft carriers are crucial for the international aid effort, which has struggled to get in relief via Port-au-Prince’s single-runway airport.

The relief work also faces logistical and coordination challenges, according to Rear Admiral Ted Branch, the most senior military official aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

“We have lift, we have communications, we have some command and control, but we don’t have much relief supplies to offer,” said Branch, who commands the battle group led by the nuclear-powered Carl Vinson.

Read moreHaiti: After a day of deliveries, US ship runs out of aid

Lesson from Haiti: In a real crisis, you are on your own; Preparedness is everything

Struggle to Bring Relief Continues in Haiti (New York Times):

struggle-to-bring-relief-continues-in-haiti
An off-duty police officer brought water to distribute to a large crowd near the airport on Friday. Cargo planes and military helicopters swooped in and out of the crowded airport in Port-au-Prince, and hundreds of American troops were arriving, with more on the way.

US sending up to 10,000 troops to earthquake-hit Haiti

Preparedness is everything:

100 Items to Disappear First

Rethinking Diversification (Catherine Austin Fitts was Assistant Secretary of Housing)


Food security collapses in Haiti as machete-wielding gangs fight in the streets

gangs-armed-with-machetes-loot-port-au-prince

(NaturalNews) Overnight, Haiti has gone from an organized, civil nation to a scenario of total chaos with gangs running wild through the streets, ransacking shops and fighting over food with machetes.

Learning this, many an ignorant westerner might naively say, “That could only happen in Haiti. It’s because those people are so poor, so uncivilized. It could never happen here…”

Oh but it could.

Haiti isn’t so different from wherever you live — a city in America, Canada, Australia, the UK or anywhere else. Everywhere in the world, people will fight for survival when the situation becomes desperate. The only reason the streets in your town aren’t overrun with firearms and machetes right now is because food is plentiful. The electricity works. The water supply is functioning and police keep the relatively few criminals under control.

But wherever you live, your city is just one natural disaster away from total chaos. Hurricane Katrina proved it: Even in America, a civil, law-abiding city of people can be turned into looting, stealing and dangerously armed bands of gang-bangers.

And you know why? Because people aren’t prepared for disasters. Come to think of it, most people aren’t even prepared for a disruption in food and electricity lasting more than 48 hours. Almost nobody has spare food, water, emergency first aid supplies or the ability to physically defend themselves against aggressors. They are betting their lives on the bizarre idea that their government will save them if something goes wrong.

The people of Haiti are now learning what the people of New Orleans already know: Your government won’t save you. In a real crisis, you are on your own.

Law and order is a fragile thing

When disruptions occur — whether through natural disasters, radical weather events, war or civil unrest — governments and city police organizations can break down within hours. In Haiti right now, there is no government running anything. No police force. No authority. It’s every man (and woman) for himself. If you want to eat, you pick up a machete and fight for it.

It is a desperate situation.

This article isn’t really about Haiti, by the way. It’s about YOU and where YOU live. If a natural disaster struck your town tonight, would you be prepared?

Do you have the means to procure clean water if the water system breaks down? Do you have a way to provide shelter for yourself and your family if there’s no electricity or heating fuel available? Can you physical defend yourself and your family against aggressive marauders desperately searching for food? (Or do you have enough to share with them? If so, how will you share with the hundreds or thousands that follow in their footsteps?)

Read moreLesson from Haiti: In a real crisis, you are on your own; Preparedness is everything

US sending up to 10,000 troops to earthquake-hit Haiti

Related information:

Haiti: Gangs Armed With Machetes Loot Port-Au-Prince (CBS NEWS)

Haiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People (Telegraph/Reuters)

4000 prisoners loose as Haiti earthquake quake topples jail (The Australian)



Makeshift camps are sprouting up in Port-au-Prince

Up to 10,000 US troops will be on the ground or off the coast of Haiti by Monday to help deal with the earthquake aid effort, US defence officials say.

Aid distribution has begun but logistics continue to be extremely difficult, UN officials say.

Tuesday’s earthquake has left as many as 45,000-50,000 people dead.

Correspondents say survivors seem increasingly desperate and angry as bottlenecks and infrastructure damage delay relief efforts.

AT THE SCENE Matt Frei

Matt Frei, Port-au-Prince

No-one is in charge. The president is sleeping at the airport with quite a few journalists and aid workers.

Earlier this morning, I stood on top of the rubble of the Supreme Court, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Senate – where a few senators had been killed when the quake hit. Their bodies have been dragged out and put in body bags. The representatives of state are literally lying on the pavement slowly rotting away.

This is a citizenry left to its own extremely meagre resources. You’ve got ordinary people trying to administer IV drips to their family members who are slowly dying, but not a single doctor or nurse at the general hospital.

Many are spending another day without food and shelter in the ruined capital.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told reporters that 30% of buildings throughout Port-au-Prince had been damaged, with the figure at 50% in some areas.

The US has already sent an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, to Haiti and the USS Bataan, carrying a marine expeditionary unit, is on its way.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, said a hospital ship and more helicopters would be sent in the coming days, carrying more troops and marines.

He said the total number of US troops would rise to between 9,000 and 10,000.

“Right now, I mean, literally as we speak, the Vinson (aircraft carrier) and the company from the 82nd Airborne who got there last night are focusing on delivering water from the helicopters offshore to the people of Haiti.”

They want us to provide them with help, which is, of course, what we want to do
David Wimhurst
UN spokesman

US defence secretary Robert Gates said the relief effort was the “highest priority for US military assets in this hemisphere”, and all necessary resources would be made available.

He described infrastructure problems which have led to delays in aid distribution as “facts of life”.

“I don’t know how … [the US] government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has,” he said.

The announcements came after US President Barack Obama pledged full American support in a phone call to his Haitian counterpart Rene Preval.

Relief problems

The UN said a total of about $310m (£190m) in international aid had been pledged so far for the relief effort.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “Food and water are in critically short supply”

Read moreUS sending up to 10,000 troops to earthquake-hit Haiti

Haiti: Gangs Armed With Machetes Loot Port-Au-Prince

Gangs Takeover Port-au-Prince


Added: 14. Januar 2010

Related information:

Haiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People


Central Business District Resembles Hell On Earth As Bodies Pile Up And Armed Men Battle Over Food, Supplies

gangs-armed-with-machetes-loot-port-au-prince
Gangs of men armed with machetes were seen looting parts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 14, 2010.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CBS) ― The earthquake aftermath has brought out the best and worst of the people of Haiti.

Much like the days after Hurricane Katrina, looting has become a problem very quickly.

The looting appears to be isolated to Port-au-Prince’s old commercial center. It’s an area that under normal circumstances would be filled with many shops, markets and a few homes. But on Wednesday it was a completely different scene.

It looked like a war zone.

Some of the buildings were on fire. Smoke was everywhere and there were bodies in the streets, many just quake victims lying where they were when the magnitude 7.0 blast hit.

What made the situation that much more tense was sightings of gangs of young men with machetes. On Wednesday they were seen getting into stores and taking all the supplies they could carry. The armed men were seen marching up and down the streets with machetes raised and the competition among the gangs turned quite fierce.

Fights between gangs were seen on the streets. Machetes were flailing and it was impossible to predict what would happen next.

There was no sign of police or any kind of law and order.

Read moreHaiti: Gangs Armed With Machetes Loot Port-Au-Prince

Haiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People

Who’s running Haiti? No one, say the people (Reuters):

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Desperate Haitians turned rubble-strewn streets and parks into makeshift hospitals and refugee camps on Thursday in the absence of any noticeable response from authorities in Haiti after Tuesday’s earthquake.

With the 7.0 magnitude earthquake collapsing the presidential palace, a string of ministries and the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country, Haiti faces a dangerous vacuum in security and government.

The Caribbean nation of 9 million people, the poorest in the western hemisphere, has a turbulent history of conflict, social turmoil, dictatorship, fragile institutions and devastating natural catastrophes.

Many in the capital Port-au-Prince picked away at shattered buildings with bare hands, sticks and hammers hoping to find loved-ones alive. Thousands of homeless people began to set up their own camps anywhere they could, the biggest right opposite the collapsed presidential palace.

“Look at us. Who is helping us? Right now, nobody,” said Jean Malesta, a 19-year-old student who was the only survivor when her apartment building collapsed from the powerful quake that has killed thousands, possibly tens of thousands.

She and a dozen others lay under a tent they had set up in the park opposite President Rene Preval’s palace. His weak and under-resourced government appears totally unequipped to handle the crisis, its officials in disarray and nowhere to be seen.

‘WE ARE ON OUR OWN’

“So far, they have brought us nothing. We need water, food, shelter, everything, but we are on our own,” Malesta added, to cries of agreement from women sitting and lying around her.


Law and order began to break down in Haiti yesterday as “constant” gunshots were heard across the capital and shops were looted.

haiti-earthquake-law-and-order-breaks-down-01
A resident loots food from the Caribbean supermarket in downtown Port-au-Prince after a major earthquake hit Haitian capital. REUTERS

haiti-earthquake-law-and-order-breaks-down-02
Aid groups in Port-au-Prince said the relief effort could be hampered by the deteriorating security situation as criminals and desperate locals fought for the scarce resources. AFP

More than 3,500 US troops are due to arrive in the country by the end of the week to bolster around 3,000 police and international peacekeepers who were said to have been deployed to secure the airport, port and main buildings.

But charity workers said they had seen little evidence of the security measures and warned of widespread looting and fights breaking out over dwindling water supplies.

Inmates escaped from the damaged main prison in Port au Prince on Tuesday when it collapsed in the earthquake.

Thieves were blamed for starting at least one mass panic in the city’s central square during the night, spreading rumours that a tidal wave was coming so they could steal the belongings left behind by hundreds of fleeing people.

Thieves also descended on a half-collapsed supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker.

“All the policemen are busy rescuing and burying their own families,” said tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch. “They don’t have the time to patrol the streets.”

With law enforcement stretched thin even before the earthquake and the UN’s 9,000 peacekeepers distracted by the collapse of their headquarters and the loss of up to 100 staff, the country is ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.

Read moreHaiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People

Haiti President René Préval: Earthquake Devastation ‘Unimaginable’

• Tens of thousands lose homes in 7.0 magnitude quake

• UN headquarters, schools and hospitals collapse


Footage of the earthquake’s aftermath. Contains disturbing images Link to this video

René Préval, the president of Haiti, has described the devastation after last night’s earthquake as “unimaginable” as governments and aid agencies around the world rushed into action.

Préval described how he had been forced to step over dead bodies and heard the cries of those trapped under the rubble of the national parliament. “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” he told the Miami Herald. “There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.” Préval said he thought thousands of people had died in the quake.

A 7.0 magnitude quake – the biggest recorded in this part of the Caribbean and the largest to hit Haiti in more than 200 years – rocked Port-au-Prince, destroying a hospital and sending houses tumbling into ravines.

Read moreHaiti President René Préval: Earthquake Devastation ‘Unimaginable’

Thousands in Texas Flee Hurricane Ike

Tens of thousands of people fled coastal areas of Texas on Wednesday after Hurricane Ike spun off Cuba, roared into the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward the state with growing strength.

After pummeling Haiti, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean, Ike refueled in the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward landfall near Corpus Christi, where it is expected to hit early Saturday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds exceeding speeds of 131 miles per hour.

Read moreThousands in Texas Flee Hurricane Ike

Ike roars over Cuba; 900,000 evacuated

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) — Hurricane Ike tore across Cuba with 100-mph winds Monday, sending 50-foot waves crashing over buildings and forcing the evacuation of 900,000 people.

Fallen bricks crushed a van Monday in Camaguey, Cuba, as Hurricane Ike struck the island.
Fallen bricks crushed a van Monday in Camaguey, Cuba, as Hurricane Ike struck the island.

At 2 p.m., Ike’s eye had moved back over water off Cuba’s southern coast. Ike was a Category 2 hurricane, with steady 100-mph (160-kph) winds and higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

Ike’s eye is expected to move back over Cuba on Tuesday, then move into the Gulf of Mexico and grow again in intensity.

Read moreIke roars over Cuba; 900,000 evacuated

Ike begins to hit Bahamas, heads toward Cuba

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — Hurricane Ike moved past the southern Bahamas on Sunday, carrying high winds and heavy rain as the Category 4 storm surged forward on a track that could take it toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Obenson Etienne walks to his house Sunday in Providenciales, one of the isles in the Turks and Caicos.
Obenson Etienne walks to his house Sunday in Providenciales, one of the isles in the Turks and Caicos.

The possibility prompted state and local officials in Florida and Louisiana to prepare for what may be the third major storm to affect the Gulf Coast in less than a month.

“Let’s hope it’s all a false alarm,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday as he pre-emptively issued a state of emergency. His state is still recovering from Hurricane Gustav; more than 370,000 people there are still without power, nearly a week after Gustav made landfall, he said.

“There continues to be much uncertainty about the predicted track,” he said of Ike.

On Sunday, President Bush declared a state of emergency in Florida. The hurricane’s outer bands could start affecting the Florida Keys by Monday afternoon.

Read moreIke begins to hit Bahamas, heads toward Cuba

Hanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status

Tropical storm Hanna is closing in on North and South Carolina with receding flood waters in Haiti revealing the corpses of nearly 500 victims of the deadly weather system.


Hurricane Hanna as it nears the US coast Photo: AP

Hanna, the eighth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, closed in on the US east coast on the verge of hurricane strength after leaving “catastrophic” conditions in Haiti, which it battered with strong winds and torrential rain for several days.

Read moreHanna death toll rises to 500 as storm nears hurricane status

Storm-hit Haitians starve on rooftops

· No food or drinking water as tempests batter nation
· Desolation in Cuba is like Hiroshima, says Castro

Friday September 5 2008

Haiti was reeling last night from a series of tropical storms which devastated crops and infrastructure and left bodies floating in flooded towns. Three storms in three weeks unleashed “catastrophe” and submerged much of the impoverished Caribbean nation, said President Rene Preval. A fourth storm, Ike, was gathering force in the Atlantic and could strike next week.

More than 120 people have died, thousands are homeless and agriculture and transport networks have been washed away, prompting calls for emergency international aid.

“There are a lot of people who have been on top of the roofs of their homes over 24 hours now,” the interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, told Reuters. “They have no water, no food and we can’t even help them.”

Read moreStorm-hit Haitians starve on rooftops

The U.S. is getting pounded this season

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — Tropical Storm Hanna skirted the Bahamas after killing dozens in Haiti and threatened to strike the U.S. Southeast as a hurricane by the weekend.

Farther out to sea, the “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Ike was packing 140-mph (225-kph) winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Read moreThe U.S. is getting pounded this season

Haiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

With little cash and import prices rocketing half the population faces starvation


In Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s worst slums, making the clay-based food is a major income earner. Mud cakes are the only inflation-proof food available to Haiti’s poor. Photograph: David Levene

At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Read moreHaiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach

Crisis talks on global food prices


A child carries a tray of bread in Cairo. Photograph: Nasser Nuri/Reuters

World leaders are to meet next week for urgent talks aimed at preventing tens of millions of the world’s poor dying of hunger as a result of soaring food prices.

The summit in Rome is expected to pledge immediate aid to poor countries threatened by malnutrition as well as charting longer-term strategies for improving food production.

Hosted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, it will hear calls for the establishment of a global food fund, as well as for new international guidelines on the cultivation of biofuels, which some have blamed for diverting land, crops and other resources away from food production.

The urgency of the meeting follows historic spikes in the price of some staple foods. The price of rice has doubled since January this year, while the cost of dairy products, soya beans, wheat and sugar have also seen large increases.

The world’s urban poor have been hit hardest, sending a wave of unrest and instability around the world. Thirty-seven countries have been hit by food riots so far this year, including Cameroon, Niger, Egypt and Haiti.

The Rome summit is the first of a series of high-level meetings aimed at tackling what many leaders now see as a much bigger threat to international stability than terrorism.

A fortnight after the UN meeting, the EU council will focus much of its time on the food crisis. A ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in late June will make a last-ditch attempt in Geneva at agreeing the lowering of international trade barriers, with the aim of cutting food prices and making it easier for farmers in poor countries to export their produce.

Food and climate change will also be the twin top themes of the G8 summit in Japan in early July, and then in September a UN summit will attempt to put the world back on course towards meeting the millennium development goals, agreed eight years ago, one of which was the halving of the number of the world’s hungry.

Read moreCrisis talks on global food prices

Surging inflation will stoke riots and conflict between nations, says report

Riots, protests and political unrest could multiply in the developing world as soaring inflation widens the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”, an investment bank predicted yesterday.

Economists at Merrill Lynch view inflation as an “accident waiting to happen”. As prices for food and commodities surge, the bank expects global inflation to rise from 3.5% to 4.9% this year. In emerging markets, the average rate is to be 7.3%.

The cost of food and fuel has already been cited as a factor leading to violence in Haiti, protests by Argentinian farmers and riots in sub-Saharan Africa, including attacks on immigrants in South African townships.

Merrill’s chief international economist, Alex Patelis, said this could be the tip of the iceberg, warning of more trouble “between nations and within nations” as people struggle to pay for everyday goods. “Inflation has distributional effects. If everyone’s income moved by the same rate, you wouldn’t care – but it doesn’t,” said Patelis. “You have pensioners on fixed pensions. Some people produce rice that triples in price, while others consume it.”

A report by Merrill urges governments to crack down on inflation, describing the phenomenon as the primary driver of macroeconomic trends. The problem has emerged from poor food harvests, sluggish supplies of energy and soaring demand in rapidly industrialising countries such as China, where wage inflation has reached 18%.

Unless policymakers take action to dampen prices and wages, Merrill says sudden shortages could become more frequent. The bank cited power cuts in South Africa and a run on rice in Californian supermarkets as recent examples.

“You’re going to see tension between nations and within nations,” said Patelis.

The UN recently set up a taskforce to examine food shortages and price rises. It has expressed alarm that its world food programme is struggling to pay for food for those most at need.

Last month, the World Bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, suggested that 33 countries could erupt in social unrest following a rise of as much as 80% in food prices over three years.

Merrill’s report said the credit crunch has contributed to a global re-balancing, drawing to a close an era in which American consumers have been the primary drivers of the world’s economy.

In a gloomy set of forecasts, Merrill said it believes the US is in a recession – and that American house prices, which are among the root causes of the downturn, could fall by 15% over the next 18 months.

Read moreSurging inflation will stoke riots and conflict between nations, says report

How Japan Helped Ease the Rice Crisis

Prices quickly fell on Tokyo’s call to tap into its huge reserves. But how did the stash get so big, and why does rice-rich Japan import the staple?

With prices now falling, the global rice crisis seems to be subsiding. That’s thanks in part to a policy announcement by a Japanese bureaucrat. On May 19, Japan’s Deputy Agriculture Minister, Toshiro Shirasu, said that Tokyo would release some of its massive stockpile of rice to the Philippines, selling 50,000 tons “as soon as possible” and releasing another 200,000 tons as food aid. The first shipment could reach the Philippines by late summer. Shirasu also left open the possibility of using more of its reserves to help other countries in need.

To understand Japan’s role in deflating the rice market, it helps to visit the warehouses rimming Tokyo Bay. It’s here in temperature-controlled buildings that Japan keeps millions of 30-kilogram vinyl bags of rice that it imports every year. Tokyo doesn’t need rice from the outside world: The country’s heavily subsidized farmers produce more than enough to feed the country’s 127 million people. Yet every year since 1995, Tokyo has bought hundreds of thousands of metric tons of rice from the U.S., Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Australia.

A Rice Imbalance

Why does Japan buy rice it doesn’t need or want? In order to follow World Trade Organization rules, which date to 1995 and are aimed at opening the country’s rice market. The U.S. fought for years to end Japanese rice protectionism, and getting Tokyo to agree to import rice from the U.S. and elsewhere was long a goal of American trade policy. But while the Japanese have been buying rice from farms in China and California for more than a decade, almost no imports ever end up on dinner plates in Japan. Instead the imported rice is sent as food aid to North Korea, added to beer and rice cakes, or mixed with other grains to feed pigs and chickens. Or it just sits in storage for years. As of last October, Japan’s warehouses were bulging with 2.6 million tons of surplus rice, including 1.5 million tons of imported rice, 900,000 tons of it American medium-grain rice.

Read moreHow Japan Helped Ease the Rice Crisis

UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.

The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world’s wheat.

The FAO warned stated east of Iran — Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to be on high alert.

Scientists and international organizations focused on controlling wheat stem rust have said 90 percent of world wheat lines are susceptible to Ug99. The situation is particularly critical in light of the existing worldwide wheat shortage.

The fungus causes dark orange pustules on stems and leaves of infected plants. The pustules can completely girdle stems, damaging their conducting tissue and preventing grain fill. Yield losses may reach 70 percent, while some fields are totally destroyed. If stem rust arrives early in the growing cycle, losses are higher. Spores released by the fungal pustules are spread by the wind and may travel great distances in storms.

Word of the new wheat disease comes amid global shortages of rice and wheat resulting from typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam. Last year Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure, heavy rains reduced production in Europe, Argentina suffered heavy frost, and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields.

Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal in recent months.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Source: World Tribune

World Bank `Destroyed Basic Grains’ in Honduras

Fidencio Alvarez abandoned his bean and corn farm in southern Honduras because of the rising cost of seeds, fuel and food. After months of one meal a day, he hiked with his wife and six children to find work in the city.
“We would wake up with empty stomachs and go to bed with empty stomachs,” said Alvarez, 37, who sought help from the Mission Lazarus aid group in Choluteca in January. “We couldn’t afford the seeds to plant food or the bus fare to buy the food.”

Honduran farmers like Alvarez can’t compete in a global marketplace where the costs of fuel and fertilizer soared and rice prices doubled in the past year. The former breadbasket of Central America now imports 83 percent of the rice it consumes — a dependency triggered almost two decades ago when it adopted free-market policies pushed by the World Bank and other lenders.

The country was $3.6 billion in debt in 1990. In return for loans from the World Bank, Honduras became one of dozens of developing nations that abandoned policies designed to protect farmers and citizens from volatile food prices. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee in Washington today explored the causes of the global food crisis and possible solutions.

The committee examined whether policies advocated by the bank and the International Monetary Fund contributed to the situation. Governments from Ghana to the Philippines were pressured to cut protective tariffs and farm supports and to grow more high-value crops for export, reports by the Washington-based World Bank show.

Haiti Pressure

The IMF pressed Haiti, as a condition of a 1994 loan, to open its economy to trade, Raj Patel, a scholar at the Center for African Studies in the University of California at Berkeley told the committee. When trade barriers fell, imports of subsidized rice from the U.S. surged, devastating the local rice farmers, Patel said.

“That is very odd,” said committee chair Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. “For anyone to have looked at Haiti at that time and thought that it was a functioning economy is a sign I think of ideology going rampant.”

“Of course they got it wrong,” said Robert S. Zeigler, director-general at the International Rice Research Institute, southeast of Manila. “It will work if you’re an extremely wealthy country and you can import rice at any price. But if you’re not an extremely wealthy country, I think that’s very poor advice.”

Read moreWorld Bank `Destroyed Basic Grains’ in Honduras

Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.

There is a time for food, and a time for ethical appraisals. This was the case even before Bertolt Brecht gave life to that expression in Die Driegroschen Oper. The time for a reasoned, coherent understanding for the growing food crisis is not just overdue, but seemingly past. Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, an organization often dedicated to flouting, rather than achieving its claimed goal of poverty reduction, stated the problem in Davos in January this year. ‘Hunger and malnutrition are the forgotten Millennium Development Goal.’

Global food prices have gone through the roof, terrifying the 3 billion or so people who live off less than $2 a day. This should terrify everybody else. In November, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that food prices had suffered a 18 percent inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India. The devil in the detail is even more distressing: a doubling in the price of wheat, a twenty percent increase in the price of rice, an increase by half in maize prices.

Read moreFood Riots are Coming to the U.S.

Making a killing from hunger

We need to overturn food policy, now!

GRAIN

For some time now the rising cost of food all over the world has taken households, governments and the media by storm. The price of wheat has gone up by 130% over the last year.[1] Rice has doubled in price in Asia in the first three months of 2008 alone,[2] and just last week it hit record highs on the Chicago futures market.[3] For most of 2007 the spiralling cost of cooking oil, fruit and vegetables, as well as of dairy and meat, led to a fall in the consumption of these items. From Haiti to Cameroon to Bangladesh, people have been taking to the streets in anger at being unable to afford the food they need. In fear of political turmoil, world leaders have been calling for more food aid, as well as for more funds and technology to boost agricultural production. Cereal exporting countries, meanwhile, are closing their borders to protect their domestic markets, while other countries have been forced into panic buying. Is this a price blip? No. A food shortage? Not that either. We are in a structural meltdown, the direct result of three decades of neoliberal globalisation.

Farmers across the world produced a record 2.3 billion tons of grain in 2007, up 4% on the previous year. Since 1961 the world’s cereal output has tripled, while the population has doubled. Stocks are at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s true,[4] but the bottom line is that there is enough food produced in the world to feed the population. The problem is that it doesn’t get to all of those who need it. Less than half of the world’s grain production is directly eaten by people. Most goes into animal feed and, increasingly, biofuels – massive inflexible industrial chains. In fact, once you look behind the cold curtain of statistics, you realise that something is fundamentally wrong with our food system. We have allowed food to be transformed from something that nourishes people and provides them with secure livelihoods into a commodity for speculation and bargaining. The perverse logic of this system has come to a head. Today it is staring us in the face that this system puts the profits of investors before the food needs of people.

Read moreMaking a killing from hunger

Wall Street Grain Hoarding Brings Farmers, Consumers Near Ruin

April 28 (Bloomberg) — As farmers confront mounting costs and riots erupt from Haiti to Egypt over food, Garry Niemeyer is paying the price for Wall Street’s speculation in grain markets.

Commodity-index funds control a record 4.51 billion bushels of corn, wheat and soybeans through Chicago Board of Trade futures, equal to half the amount held in U.S. silos on March 1. The holdings jumped 29 percent in the past year as investors bought grain contracts seeking better returns than stocks or bonds. The buying sent crop prices and volatility to records and boosted the cost for growers and processors to manage risk.

Niemeyer, who farms 2,200 acres in Auburn, Illinois, won’t use futures to protect the value of the crop he will harvest in October. With corn at $5.9075 a bushel, up from $3.88 last year, he says the contracts are too costly and risky. Investors want corn so much that last month they paid 55 cents a bushel more than grain handlers, the biggest premium since 1999.

Read moreWall Street Grain Hoarding Brings Farmers, Consumers Near Ruin

The food crisis begins to bite

Rioting in Haiti. Rationing in America. Queues in Egypt. Protests in Afghanistan. As the price of food continues to soar, the impact is being felt by people around the globe

CHINA

The roaring economy and an ever expanding middle class have had a particularly profound effect on food prices, particularly rice and wheat. Because of industrialisation, rice planting fell from 33 million hectares in 1983 to 29 million by 2006 and China now imports more than ever, placing a major strain on international supplies. Despite freezing prices, rampant inflation means the cost of food has risen by 21 per cent this year.

USA

In a land where supposedly the rich are thin and the poor are overweight, one of the largest cash and carry stores, Sam’s Club, announced this week it would limit customers to take home a maximum of four bags of rice. The move came a day after Costco Wholesale Corp, the biggest US warehouse-club operator, limited bulk rice purchases in some stores and warned that customers had begun stockpiling certain goods.

NORTH KOREA

Even during times of relative stability, North Korea has shown itself to be inept at feeding its population. During the 1990s a famine caused by poor harvests killed an estimated two to three million people. On Wednesday the World Food Programme warned that the country could again be plunged into famine because of the spiralling cost of rice and there was an estimated shortfall of 1.6 million tons of rice and wheat.

EGYPT

Up to 50 million Egyptians rely on subsidised bread and this year Cairo has estimated it will cost $2.5bn. But with the price of wheat rocketing in the past year there are fears the country has plunged into a “bread crisis”. Queues are now double the length they were a year ago. Inflation hit 12.1 per cent in February with prices for dairy goods up 20 per cent and cooking oils 40 per cent

VENEZUELA

Latin American countries were some of the first nations to voice their concern at rising wheat prices, particularly after thousands of people in Mexico took to the streets at the beginning of 2007 to take part in the so-called “Tortilla Protests”. This week the presidents of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba’s vice-president flew to Caracas to announce a joint $100m scheme to combat the impact of rising food prices on the region’s poor.

BRAZIL

On Wednesday Brazil became the latest major rice producer to temporarily suspend exports because of soaring costs and domestic shortages. In recent weeks Latin American countries and African nations have asked for up to 500,000 tons of rice from Brazil which will now not be delivered. Brazil’s agricultural ministry has said it has to ensure that the country has at least enough rice reserves to last the next six to eight months.

IVORY COAST

Some of the worst instability resulting from high food prices has been felt in West Africa. One person was killed and dozens were injured last month as riots tore through Ivory Coast after the prices of meat and wheat increased by 50 per cent within a week. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was forced to cut taxes to halt the disorder. Violent protests have also broken out in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal.

AFGHANISTAN

There have been street protests about the soaring cost of food in a country almost entirely reliant on imports of wheat. Already utterly impoverished, the plight of Afghans has worsened because Pakistan has cut its regular flour supply. The government has sought to assure citizens that there is sufficient food and has set aside $50m for additional imports. The price of wheat has risen by around 60 per cent in the last year.

THAILAND

The price of rice in the world’s largest exporter rose to $1,000 a ton yesterday and experts warned that it will continue to rise. This is because of the massive demand from the Philippines which is struggling to secure supplies after India and several other producers halted exports. The government has said it can meet the export requests. Indonesia has said it is withholding purchases for a year because prices are so high.

EAST AFRICA

Hundreds of thousands of poor Africans in Uganda and Sudan are to lose out on a vital source of food after one of the world’s largest humanitarian organisations said it was cutting aid to 1.5m people. Dave Toycen, president of World Vision Canada, blamed soaring costs and countries failing to live up to aid commitments for the fact that the number of people the charity can help will fall by almost a quarter.

INDIA

The country as added to the problems facing many countries in the region by halting its export of rice, except for its premium basmati product. This has left countries normally reliant on Indian exports, such as the Philippines, searching for alternative supplies. India has more than half of the world’s hungriest people and its priority is to safeguard domestic supply. But it too has watched as the cost of food has soared, not just rice but cooking oil, pulses and even vegetables. India has this year forecast a record grain harvest but experts warned farm productivity will have to rise much faster if the nation is to feed its 1.1bn people and avoid a food security crisis. Around two-thirds of India’s population are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods but agriculture is growing much more slowly than the overall economy.

HAITI

The poorest country in the Western hemisphere has seen a three to four-fold increase in the number of so-called boat people trying to leave because of food shortages. Already gripped by wretched poverty, the food crisis triggered riots that led to the death of six people. Haiti’s wretched food security situation is a result of “liberalisation measures” forced on the country after former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was returned to power.

THE PHILIPPINES

The government has been desperately trying to secure alternative sources of rice to counteract the decision of a number of nations to halt rice exports. The country’s National Food Authority, which handles rice imports for the government, has now said it plans to increase imports 42 per cent to 2.7m tons this year. This could cost $1.3bn if it does not increase the price of the subsidised rice it is selling to people. But the Philippines is responsible for producing 85 per cent of its own food and international experts believe the country will handle this crisis. The government has also been encouraging consumers and even fast food restaurants to be more frugal and be careful not to waste food. The government is confident it will be able to source sufficient supplies from Vietnam and Thailand.

EUROPE

Less vulnerable to food price fluctuations than emerging nations, but food prices across Europe have nonetheless increased. In Britain wholesale prices of food have increased by 7.4 per cent over the past 12 months, roughly three times the headline rate of inflation. According to the government’s own statistics grocery bills have gone up by an average of £750 over the same period, the equivalent of a 12 per cent rise.

By Jerome Taylor and Andrew Buncombe
Friday, 25 April 2008

Source: The Independent

IMF alert on starvation and civil unrest


“Children will be suffering from malnutrition” … a UN peacekeeper with locals in Port-au-Prince,
where hunger-provoked protests and looting have left six dead. Photo: AP

THE poorest countries face starvation and civil unrest if global food prices keep rising, says the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Hundreds of thousands of people would starve, he said in Washington. “Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives.”

He predicted that rising food prices would push up the cost of imports for poor countries, leading to trade imbalances that might also affect developed nations.

“It is not only a humanitarian question,” he said.

Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by rising demand, poor weather and an increase in the area of land used to grow crops for biofuels.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says 37 countries face food crisis. The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, urged members on Sunday to provide $US500 million ($540 million) by May 1 to help alleviate the problem.

Read moreIMF alert on starvation and civil unrest

Food riots to worsen without global action: U.N.

ROME (Reuters) – Food riots in developing countries will spread unless world leaders take major steps to reduce prices for the poor, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.

Despite a forecast 2.6 percent hike (This is disinformation.) in global cereal output this year, record prices are unlikely to fall, forcing poorer countries’ food import bills up 56 percent and hungry people on to the streets, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said.

“The reality is that people are dying already in the riots,” Diouf told a news conference.

“They are dying because of their reaction to the situation and if we don’t take the necessary action there is certainly the possibility that they might die of starvation. Naturally people won’t be sitting dying of starvation, they will react.”

The FAO said food riots had broken out in several African countries, Indonesia, the Philippines and Haiti. Thirty-seven countries face food crises, it said in its latest World Food Situation report.

Read moreFood riots to worsen without global action: U.N.

No food price relief seen for poor Afghans

KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday.

Top finance and development officials from around the world called in Washington on Sunday for urgent action to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest will spread unless the cost of basic staples is contained.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries with half its 25 million people living below the poverty line.

Wheat prices in Afghanistan have risen by an average of 60 percent over the last year with certain areas seeing a rise of up to 80 percent, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said.

Read moreNo food price relief seen for poor Afghans