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  • Earthling 3:16 pm on 24th February 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crime in moscow, cybersurveillance squads in russian schools, data insecurity, data privacy for genocide victims, , facial recognition glasses for police in moscow, hardcore surveillance in moscow, internet freedom in mother russia, internet freedom in the russian military, kids looking at extreme content, , places criminals can't hide in russia, street cameras in moscow,   

    February Internet Freedom Update 

    “Hello, is this the FSB? I found two terrorists, they’re yelling that they were just playing.”

    Moscow becomes the first Russian city with total surveillance
    The Moscow government has planned to provide police with facial-recognition glasses, and this system will also be connected to traffic cameras this year.
    The Department of Information technology (DIT) of the Moscow City Hall will order the development of augmented reality glasses with facial recognition capacity for the police, said sources involved in the preparation of the project and the interlocutor of RBC in the city hall.
    Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced the street camera facial recognition system this January: “Facial recognition to search for criminals has already been implemented in the subway, and this year will be on the street cameras. And it would be cool: criminals will stay away from Moscow, they can’t hide here.”
    According to him, currently, the urban video surveillance system has 167,000 cameras — they are in courtyards, entryways, parks, schools, clinics, retail outlets and construction sites, as well as in the halls of the Executive Branch and other public places. Sobyanin noted that footage from the cameras is used in the investigations of about 70% of offences.
    Complaints from citizens will now trigger unscheduled inspections of internet companies
    The Russian government has approved new rules for the organization and implementation of state control and supervision of personal data processing.
    Accoring to Roskomnadzor, the audits are conducted in relation to the activities of companies (their documents, local acts and information systems) for compliance with the Federal law “On personal data”.
    Complaints from citizens with proven facts of human rights abuses and violations identified by supervisors will now be a ground for unscheduled audits, which will be conducted after consultation with the Prosecutor’s office.
    Several regions of Russia have cyber-surveillance squads
    Authorities continue to support organizations that monitor the internet and collaborate with government agencies to identify “prohibited materials”, but in some regions they have gone further by entrusting these organizations with the surveillance of students.
    In a number of republics (states) of Russia, local authorities continue to create cells of pseudo-public cybersquad organizations. They are entrusted with legally questionable tasks. For example, last year we learned about the involvement of the Kogalym authorities in monitoring the internet to search for materials of extremist, terrorist and drug-oriented content accessible to minors.
    The same trend is continuing this year. Ugra reported on the establishment of cybersquad cells for as many as 151 of the General Education organization districts, “to ensure information security”. According to the district’s Department of Public and External Relations, the cybersquads only checked 11,789 internet resources in the last year. Complaints included resources where published information was aimed at the promotion of drugs or suicide, among other things. The department said that young people identified 774 antisocial actions on the internet, and at the request of cybersquads 330 internet pages were taken down by Roskomnadzor.
    Concerns have been raised about the age of these students monitoring extreme content, as they are hardly young adults.
    Strange methods of working with young people have been demonstrated the leadership of one of the medical educational institutions of Kazan. A video has spread online, which shows an assembly in a medical college where students are warned about the cooperation of the college administration with some local cyberquad, and its spying on students’ social network accounts:
    “We work with Cybersquad of the Republic of Tatarstan. All of your social networks, your contacts, Telegram, Instagram, are under control, under our strict control. Because again, our goal is the health of the citizens. Psychological, ideological and moral health. These are the three main components.”
    If this is not bravado from the college teachers, but a very real fact, then here is a violation of Russian law, since we are talking about unauthorized spying on citizens, even “informally”. It is known that the regional cybersquad office appeared in Tatarstan in 2016. Citizens who enter there conduct “raids” on the web in search of content that could be dangerous. Apparently, during these questionable activities, “cybercombatants” acquired a taste [for interesting content], and the administration of the university decided to pass the task of teaching onto somebody else’s shoulders, while at the same time trying to discover the secrets of their students. But thank you, dear teachers, for at least warning about surveillance…
    State Duma adopts law on internet restrictions for military personnel
    The text of the new legislation forbids military personnel to post information about their close relatives, colleagues, command, or locations of military units, and restricts the use of devices that can distribute audio, photos, videos and location data via the internet. All in all, this seems reasonable from a military point of view.
    Above content was mostly translated and paraphrased from Roskomsvoboda (CC4-licensed) by an anonymous student of Russian with the help of Google and Yandex machine translation services.
    Google Fesses Up To Hidden Microphone In Nest Home Security Platform
    Millions of genocide victims in China also have their data exposed online
    Millions of Swedish healthcare hotline calls left unprotected online

  • Earthling 4:09 pm on 20th February 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abaran-Su, Aghri-dagh, Ahaltzikhe, Airarat, Akampsis, Akhlath, Akhurean, Akstafa, Alagoz, Alatsovit, Albag, Alibaug, Aliovit, Alotz, Althamar islet, Altzniq, Ani, Apahunik, Aragadz, Aragatsotn, Ararat, Araxene plain, Araxes, Araxes civilization, Arberani, Ardahan, Ardzrunian Armenia and Geography, arghidag, arghidag History of Armenia, Armenian agriculture, Armenian black lands, Armenian chernozem, Armenian geography, armenian geography and history, Armenian Taurus, Arpa-chai, Arran, Arsharuniq, Artahan, Ashotz, Asthianene, backbone of armenia, Bagratid Armenia and Geography, Bagrevand, Barda, Basean, Basil II and Armenian geography, basins of armenia, Batum, bayonetted geography, Bingol mountains, Bitlis, Bitlis River, Blue Lake Armenia, Bzuniq, Chakatk, Chorokh, Colchis, Commagene, crateriform mountains in armenia, Dariunk, Dersim, Dvin, Dwin, Ekeleatz, Erzerum, Erzincan, Euphrates, fishy softwater of lake sevan, Gabeleanq, Ganja, Gargar, glens of armenia, Gogarene, Gok-Chai, Golthen, Golthn, Goomgoom, Gorjiak, Goumgoum, Gugark, gugarq, Gumgum, Guria, Hachich, Hanzeth, hanzith, Harput, Harq, Hashteanq, Hashtenq, high-quality fertile Armenian soil, Histoire de l'Armenia, historical armenia, Imereti, Julfa, Kandil-dagh, Kara su, , Karduene, Karpi-chai, Kars, Kemah, Khemsdinan chain, Khoith, Khoy, Khozan, Kingdom of Urartu, Kizilchai, Kogovit, Koh-i-nuh, Kolaver, Kop-dagh, Kori, Kotaiq, Koura, Kura, , Lake Sevan, Lake Urmia, Lazare of Pharpi, Lazica, Leninakan, little caucasus of armenia, Liz, Lori, Malatya, Manazkert, Manzikert, Mardastan, Masis, massifs of Armenia, Mekhethi, Melazkert, Miocene Armenia, Moghan, Mogk, , Mount Ararat, mountain ranges in armenia, mountains of the devil, Moush, Moxoene, Murad-chai, Nakhichevan, Narek, NarekOstan, Noah's ark, Oltichai, Ostan, Paghnatun, Palnatun, Palu, Pleocene Armenia, pontic, Province of Tao, Qarabagh, quaternary period, R. blanchard, Rene Grousset, Reshtunik, Sason, Sasun, Shaytan-dagh, Shusha, Shusha region, Sipan, Sivan-Maden, Sophene, Sourb-Khatch, Strabon, Suram, Syunik, table of tekman, Tao, Taron, Taronitide, Tendurek, Tendurek mountains, Theodosiopolis, Tiflis, Tigrus, Tmorik, Tosp, troglodytism in Armenia, Tsophk, Turuberan, valleys of armenia, Vanand, Vannic Armenia, Vaspurakan province, Vishapazunk, Where noah's ark landed, Xenophon, Yerevan, Zagros mountains, Zengi-chai, Zikar   


    Image of Armenian Plateau from Ahmed Soyuk on Panoramio (CC3 License)


    General characteristics of Armenian geography
    Armenia, according to the geographer R. Blanchard’s definition, is “an enormous mountain range towering over the depressions of Transcaucasia and Mesopotamia,” or rather it is simultaneously a mountain range “because its frame is formed of adjacent folds” and a plateau “because its folds are drowned in eruptive effusions.” Briefly, “a great natural fortress with steep outskirts, but containing behind its battlements tables, basins and plateaus,” with “a striking contrast between the walls of the periphery and the relatively softer forms of the interior relief.” (Average height of the peripheral chains is 3000 to 4000 meters; the inner plateau is 1500 to 1800). Moreover, a new conflict is manifest in the interior itself, again “between high mountains, wild and deserted, and fertile basins, populated by sedentary people, basins that Armenia is dispersed between.” (1)
    One could not better formulate the two characteristics of Armenian geography: the profound individuality of this country in comparison to other lands of Western Asia, and its interior compartmentalization. From these geographical facts the two constants of Armenian history ensue: on one hand, the powerful “personality” of the Armenian nation, a personality which has enabled it to survive through all its invasions, dominations, and catastrophes; on the other hand, the inveterate feudalism which, from antiquity to 1064, was a cause of weakness and discord for Armenia.
    The Defense of the Armenian Fortress: the Mountains Bordering the North.
    In accordance with these general facts, the Armenian territory is divided into a certain number of well-distinguished zones.
    First are the border mountains that separate Armenia in the north from Transcaucasia and primarily the Georgian countries; and in the South, from the Mesopotamian plains. Strabon (XI, 14, 2) already remarked that “the circumference of Armenia is almost entirely composed of lowlands and mountainous land.”
    The northern ridge is highly elevated, between 3000 and 4000 meters. It is composed of three distinctly parallel chains which curve in the arc of a concave circle from the West to the East, from the North of Erzincan to the height of Tiflis, then from the Tiflis region to the Shusha region.
    In the northwest sector of this area, from Batum to the pass of Suram, the Pontic territory, with its abundant rains and soft climate, adorns the mountains, or at least their reverse to the north, with magnificent vegetation. It is the country known in antiquity as Lazica. Cantons, moreover, are cut “in a disorder of crests and gulfs with an impenetrable undergrowth of hollies, laurels, azaleas, and rhododendrons.” Let us note, however, that the Chorokh (ancient Akampsis) and its tributary the Oltichai, through their valleys across the adjacent chains, successfully establish a means of penetration into the interior, as we notably see in the campaigns of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II.
    The forested surfaces of the peripheral chains that separate Armenia from Guria and Imereti (ancient Colchis) come to an end on the southern slopes. The northern side, still covered with pine trees, is contradicted by the south with its naked slopes, and this dryness gains the northern side as it leaves the basin of the Black Sea and meets that of the Caspian. The upper Koura in the ancient district of Kolaver, around Ardahan or Artahan, to the north of Kars, still benefits from Pontic rains. Further to the East, the mountains are bared. Nevertheless, the floors of the valleys, and especially the gorges, preserve even here their jewelry of forests: thus the valley of Akstafa, in the region of Lori, is celebrated for its pine trees, plane trees, and gigantic walnut trees.
    The northern border chain thus runs in the arc of a concave circle, surrounding the country from Erzincan to Ardahan and from Ardahan to Lake Sevan, across the ancient provinces of Tao, Kolaver, Alotz, and Gugark, the ancient Gogarene. Near Sevan, it divides into two masses which encircle the lake and surround the province of Karabakh as well (the region of Ganja and Barda), a “plateau built from layers of lava, the highlands of which display a steppic vegetation between the forested mountains,” while remaining brilliantly drained by the last southern tributaries of the right side of the Koura.
    The Araxes clears a passage between these mountains, to the north those of Syunik (the land between Lake Sevan and Nakhichevan) and Karabakh, and to the south those of Persian Azerbaijan; it puts Armenia in direct communication with Iran. The valley of one of the southern tributaries of the Araxes, the Kizilchai which waters the country of Khoy (Her in Armenian) in Azerbaijan, was the way by which the Iranian invasions have always penetrated Armenia from the side of Julfa and Nakhichevan, the ancient district of Golthen or Goghtn. Farther to the East, at the Araxes’ exit from Armenia, it waters the grassy steppes of the Arran (on its right bank) and Moghan (on its left bank) which have always served as way stations for turco-mongol nomads in their push towards the Armenian fortress. In advancing in this direction, Karabakh, Syunik and Golthn form something of an “Armenian March,” destined to be a front against these thrusts from the steppe. Nevertheless the neighborhood of the Iranian plateau made itself strongly felt with its climate, that of the dry steppes of Persia; with the naked and almost metallic appearance of the mountains; with its character of an oasis of towns surrounded by vineyards, cotton plantations, and rice fields shaded by tall plane trees, contrasting with the emptiness of the surrounding land.
    The Defense of the Armenian Fortress: the Mountains Bordering the South
    The area bordering the south, with its mountainous massif separating Armenia from Mesopotamia, forms Kurdistan today. The chains oriented from the east to the west, which constitute the skeleton, stand 3000 meters above the Assyrian plains in the southeast. These are the ancient geographer’s districts of Moxoene and Karduene, the Mogk and Gorjaik of Armenian nomenclature. The same mountainous system continues to the West, from the region of Bitlis to the south of Harput and Malatya. It is this “Armenian Taurus” that dominates the ancient province of Khoith, Sason, Palu, and the medieval province of Khanzith, Hanzith or Hanzeth (or country of Harput), this last being included in the ancient Sophene. To descend the Armenian massif towards the Mesopotamian plain, the Tigrus, the Euphrates and their tributaries widen across this mountainous ridge of true canyons, “terrible gashes.” Thus the gorges of the eastern tributaries of the Tigrus cross the Khemsdinan chain, in the provinces of Gorjaik, Tmorik, and southern Albag (or Alibaug). Thus the gorges of the Euphrates, with their sharp bends and “bayonetted routes,” enter the ancient Commagene and Sophene, particularly in the province of Hanzith or Hanzeth, already cited, between Harput and Gargar.
    Concerning the appearance of these border mountains of the southerly zone, the geographers compare them to those of our Alpine southerly zone: after the flora of the Alpine meadows come the forests of mountain chains, to which can be added, in well-watered valleys, the wild mulberry, the fig and poplar trees; and finally in the lowest hills, the vine, and even cotton and rice. Nevertheless, in Kurdistan proper, the depth and narrowness of the gorges renders communications practically impossible for a part of the year. The only truly passable valley here is that of the Bitlis River, by which one gains access from Kurdistan to Vannic Armenia, around the provinces of Khoith (southwest of the lake of Van) and Reshtunik (south of the lake).
    This division, this cloistering of the valleys, has dictated the fate of the country, which is fragmented into townships which are still practically autonomous. “They live in little communities entrenched in the heights of the valleys,” writes R. Blanchard. “It’s a total dispersal. All the villages are installed in defensive eagle’s-nest sites. The houses are set up like stairs on a slope, each flat roof serving as a courtyard for the house above it.”
    In the Interior of the Armenian Fortress: the Summits.
    The Armenian plateau extends throughout the interior of the circular double arc of border chains. “Goodbye wooded crests,” writes R. Blanchard, “rough slopes where water flows, labyrinth of gorges from which mist arises. The country opens up, lowers itself, the lines soften and take form. Noble shapes, convexes, extend infinitely. The mountains have disappeared: here are the plateaus. Vegetation withers under the feeble radiance of a steppe sky. The green gives way to yellows and ochres. In descending the hill of Zikar towards Akhaltzikhe*, from Karabakh to the Gok-Chai (or Lake Sevan), from Bitlis to the plain of Moush**, the same contrast appears: it has struck all the explorers of Armenia.”
    * That is to say, in passing from Imereti towards the province of Meskhethi in the greater basin of the Koura, at the Armenio-Georgian fringes.
    ** The plain of Moush, between Khoith, Sasun and Taron.
    Is this to say that there is a central plateau with a uniform surface? Not at all. The plateau, because in the whole there is a plateau , is sowed with mountains even taller than those of the periphery. A section of them constitute a succession of folds which are oriented, like the border chain itself, from east to west. One of these folds begins, from the west side, with the chain, still partly wooded, from Dersim (the medieval provinces of Kemah, Khozan, and Palnatun), the ancient Acilisene. This chain is continued towards the East by the Shaytan-dagh chain (the mountains of the Devil), then the Bingöl chain. It is doubled in the North by “the backbone of Armenia”, which runs from the north of Erzincan to the south of Erzerum and ends at the Aghri-dagh ridge, from the north of the medieval district of Bagrevand up until the district of Chakatk. At Aghri-dagh follows, bending towards the south and southeast, the Tendurek chain, which in the medieval town of Kogovit completes the separation of northern Armenia the country of Ani and Kars from Vannic Armenia. And the Tendurek chain in turn rejoins the dividing line which, from the north to the south and across the vast province of Vaspurakan, separates the Lake Van Basin from the Lake Urmia Basin. Further yet to the south, this ridge goes on to sunder itself to the Zagros Mountains.
    This series of inner chains which cuts through the middle of Armenia from west to east has played the historical role of an interior barrier, largely responsible for Armenian dualism. At the apex of Armenian history, in the 10th century, we will in fact see two opposed Armenias: the Bagratid Armenia in the north around Ani and Kars, and the Ardzrunian Armenia in the South, in the Vannic region, at Vaspurakan; a dualism which will prevent the final union of Armenia at the decisive hour and pave the way for Byzantine annexation.
    After these chains, the mountains become isolated due to volcanism. Some of them are clearly crateriform, such as Sipan, Nimrud and Tendurek. Sipan, with a height of 4176 meters, stands to the north of the Lake Van, between the lake and the city of Manazkert, Melazkert, or Manzikert, in the district of Aliovit. Nimrud is situated to the west of the lake, in the town of Bzuniq, to the west of the town of Khelath or Akhlath. Its crater is 8 kilometers in diameter and it stands 1200 meters above Lake Van, 1600 to 1700 meters above the plain of Moush. As for Tendurek, with a height of 2500 meters, it peaks at the summit of the chain of the same name, to the south of Ararat, between Ararat and the northeast point of Lake Van, in the ancient district of Kogovit, to the southwest of the town of Dariunk, the contemporary Bayazid.
    One can see the extent to which Lake Van is surrounded by volcanism. But northern Armenia is hardly less rich in eruptive phenomena. Between Kars and Yerevan, in the north of the Aragatsotn province, to the south of the Ashotz, to the east of Apahunik province, the massif of Alagoz (Aragadz in Armenian), “A Cantal of 150 kilometers width, 4095 meters height,” stands over a landscape of beautiful prairies with cultivated land climbing up to 2500 beside them. More famous yet is Ararat which, in the province of the same name (Airarat), between Dvin and the Kogovit, raises its main summit at 5205 meters, with its eternal snow beginning at 4180 meters. It is the Masis of the Armenians, the divine mountain of their old paganism, inhabited by genies or children of a dragon (vishapazunk), the mountain which the Bible has the Ark of Noah stop on after the Flood, the Koh-i Nuh, the “mountain of Noah”, the Arghidagh, “the mountain of the Ark” of Muslims.
    The Plateaus
    In spite of these high peaks, the greater part of the Armenian plateau actually consists of the plateaus themselves. Thus we find, at the east of the Dersim chain, between Erzerum to the north and Bingöl-dagh to the south, the “pool table” which is Bingöl province (2), “roof of the waters” from which descend, at the same time, the sources of the Araxes and those of the Euphrates, in the ancient town of Havchich, a dependent of Turuberan province. Another example, more to the northwest, in the ancient district of Mardali, is the “table of Tekman,” with its black plateaus “covered with yellowish fennel and a meager steppic flora giving mediocre pasturage.” To the north of these plateaus, between them and the Kop-dagh chain or the Kandil-dagh massif, stands Erzerum, the Byzantine Theodosiopolis, the Armenian Karin, which is the junction point for the paths connecting the upper Kara Su valley (in other words the upper Euphrates) to the sources of the Araxes. In other words, it is the point of junction between ancient Roman Armenia and Persian Armenia, hence the important role of the ancient city and of the province situated further east, to which it prevents access.
    The Good Armenian Land
    Next to this picturesque Armenia, that of summits and high plateaus , is useful Armenia, which is essentially made up of ancient basins where the Miocene sea, in withdrawing, left strings of lagoons. In the Pliocene period, when the marine regression was completed, this lagoon pattern seasoned the whole of Armenia. In the Quaternary period, the ancient lakes became empty. This is what happened in the plain of the Araxes around Yerevan, an ancient lake which became dry when the flood forced the natural barrier of the mountain to the southwest. “But the vanished lake left a light and fertile land in its former location, a land formed from silt brought by the Araxes, which still covers ancient lava beds to this day.” (3) It was in fact around the same time, in the Quaternary period, that the aforementioned formidable volcanic eruptions finished giving the Armenian land its physiognomy, the lava and silt concurrently filling the ancient basins or dividing them into many sections. It was thus, for example, that the volcano of Nimrud “cut off the depression of Moush from the lake of Van,” while the volcanos of Akmangan, which R. Blanchard compares to our Puys in Auvergne , gave birth to the fishy softwater lake known as the Sevan or Blue Lake (Gök-chai).
    Thus, “the good Armenian land” is made of a mixture of lakeside sediments, marls, clays and limestones , with volcanic soils at the foot of Mount Ararat which (like those of the Vesuvius) are among the most fertile in the world. As Egyptian agriculture is a gift from the Nile, and as Chinese agriculture is a gift from the Loess Plateau, so too is Armenian agriculture a gift from the volcano and the lake. The production of arable land continues today under our very eyes in the vast marsh called sazluk which is found especially to the north of Erzerum, on the upper Kara Su or Western Euphrates. These are the last evidences of the immense prehistoric marshes that deposited, at the bottom of valleys, “this black humus, so rich in organic debris, capable of bringing plentiful harvests every year without fertizilation.”
    Agricultural and Pastoral Wealth of the Northwest Provinces
    Geographers divide the thusly formed cultural zones into two categories, according to latitude: the Northwest Zone, and the South and East Zone.
    In the Northwest are expanses of high plains, very cold, very harsh in climate, with vegetation that has been called, not without exaggeration, “qausi-polar”: the basin of Erzerum (or to the north of Erzerum) and that of Basean are respectively at 1800 and 1600 meters of altitude. It is a matter, then, of high steppes as defined in the Mongolian regions. At Erzerum the winter is seven months, the spring reveals itself to be scorching, and agricultural work cannot commence until April. At Kars the cold can reach 40 degrees. Xenophon had already made observations of this order in his Anabase. During his crossing of western Armenia between the eastern Euphrates (our Murad-chai) and what he calls “The Stage”, that is to say the sources of the Araxes, between the region of Moush and that of Erzerum, he noted that the climate obliged the populations to resort to troglodytism in the winter. (4) The practice still continues today there and all the way up to the northeast, as we can see around Lake Sevan, where the peasants winter their livestock in subterranean shepherds’ barns.
    If we add that the snow can remain for eight months while rain is rare, and that because of this the country is almost completely devoid of trees, but that on the other hand, the spring seasons are torrid because of the latitude, the picture of the analogies between the Armenian and Central Asian climates will be complete, with the botanical consequences that ensue. The geographer R. Blanchard describes these high northwestern Armenian plains as “an area of stipa steppes where grasses dominate, along with thorny Asiatic shrubs, continuing toward the West with the flora of Iran and rising without interruption to the thin Alpine plants of the high plateaus of Bingöl.”
    A country of this nature can, like Mongolia, remain dedicated to the nomadic life. How is it that in spite of its sometimes so inhospitable appearance, the sedentary people (and that is the whole history of the Armenian people) have been fixed and still prospered to this extent? It is because, as we declared above, the arable soil here is admirably fertile. “The decomposition of volcanic elements and their mixing with the soft sediments of the Miocene and Pleocene periods have formed superb soils, true black lands (analogous to the chernozem of Ukraine) that are easy and rewarding to cultivate.” As the torrid heat of the spring melts the thick layers of snow, the abundance of water augments the wealth of the soil. Not only did these “Armenian steppes” reveal themselves to be perfect land for grains, but at the side of the volcanos these grains sometimes rise to 2500 meters. Wheat, rye, and barley are here among them. Certain districts, benefiting from hot and humid springs, have even corn and sometimes rice. As in Scandinavia and Canada, the speed of germination in northern Armenia compensated for the brevity of its beautiful days. There too “one hears the wheat cracking.”
    One shouldn’t be surprised by the intensity of the agricultural life in the ancient provinces of Ekeleatz (the Erzincan basin, the ancient Erez, our Armenian Erzenka), Karin (the Erzerum basin) and Basean (upper course of the Araxes, close to its source, to the east of Erzerum). Xenophon, in the passage above cited, already showed that the harshness of the climate is not an obstacle to rural prosperity: wealth in livestock, barley and wheat, nothing was missing for these hardy troglodytes he described for us. (5) But the travelers who pay homage to such an agricultural wealth insist at the same time on the harsh character of these highlands, these expanses without trees, “these bare plains, closed off by equally bare slopes”, unfolding themselves in landscapes of a poignant severity. This austerity of the landscape and climate, combined with the wealth of a soil predestined for agriculture, has determined in many respects the very character of the Armenian race, a race of peasants whose persistence has maintained, for so many centuries, a European tillage at the frontier of the Asiatic steppe.
    The Superiority of the Southern and Eastern Basins
    The southern and eastern basins are generally less cold. Even if the snows covering the summits in Kurdistan and the Armenian Taurus persist in the spring, there is only benefit from this, since the streams that ensure the watering of the plants thus continue their flow through the dry season. The orchards too lack nothing compared to those of Europe. We are here in the “classic” provinces of Armenian history. The basin to the north of Kharput is the ancient Akilisene and part of ancient Sophene, Hanzeth or Hanzith, the Tsophk of the high middle age. The basin of Jabalashur, to the north of Sivan-Maden, touches ancient Asthianene, the medieval district of Hashteanq or Hashtenq. Further to the north, the basin of Kighi noticeably corresponds to the medieval district of Khorzeanq or Khordzenq, the Khorzianene of the Greeks, between Paghnatun and the province of Turuberan. The important basin of Moush corresponds to the province of Taron whose rulers have played such a large role in Armenio-Byzantine history. Further to the north, the basins of Liz and Goumgoum stretch between the ancient districts of Arshamuniq, Harq, and Kori, in Turuberan.
    To the northeast of Goumgoum is the basin of Khinis, on the opposite eastern side of mount Bingöl, to the south of the ancient districts of Havchich and Alori. On the other hand, to the north, northwest of the Lake Van, extends the rich basin of Manazkert (Manzikert) which shines on ancient Harq and Kori to the west and touches the Tuaradoi-taph to the north, and the Apahuniq to the east. Finally, the northeast regions contain the two largest agricultural zones. First is the basin of Alashkert which corresponds to the famous Bagrevand province until Gabeleanq. Then is the immense basin of the middle Araxes, also called the basin of Yerevan, which includes the entire valley of the river from the confluence of the river in Kars to the area outside Julfa, across the best districts of the ancient province of Airarat.*
    Let’s not forget to mention the agricultural lands on the eastern side of Lake Van, which the districts of Mardastan and Tosp depend upon (this latter town forming a suburb of the city of Van.
    *  From the ancient district of Kotaïq to Vakhchavan et Golthen or Golthn.
    The Middle Araxes Basin
    Particular attention should be paid to the basin of the middle Araxes and its hinterland in the high valleys of Akhurean, Arpa-chai or Ani River, and Kars-chai or Kars River. The Araxes, in descending from 1500 meters to reach the plain of Yerevan, receives the Silav, the Karpi-chai or Abaran-Su which waters the patriarchal city of Echmiadzin (Valarshapat in antiquity), and the Zengi-chai, which is the watercourse of Yerevan and the Lake Sevan region. The snows of Ararat and Alagöz, as well as the summits of the Armenian “Little Caucasus”, contribute to the feeding of this rich water system. Thus are born “thousands of sources and streams that maintain the freshness of the valleys and glens during the great heat of the summer, ensuring the watering of orchards and fields, and only rejoining the Araxes at the time of the great spring rains.”
    In the prehistoric period and doubtless in antiquity as well, this whole region was covered with forests, but the pastoral life, here as elsewhere, deforested the valleys and hills. At least the valleys have lost nothing of their fertility, thanks to the abundance of the waters and an exposure to sunlight which reminds us that in spite of the altitude, we are here at the latitude of southern Italy. “In the valleys,” notes Morgan, “the vegetation is most often ahead of that of the immediate surroundings of Yerevan, because this large plain, being less well-secured from the northern winds, endures very harsh winters. Nevertheless, vine and fruit trees grow in abundance, and in the vineyards of Masis (Ararat) they still harvest excellent wine.”
    The Armenian colonies which have expanded or persisted further to the east, between Julfa and Shusha, on the edge of Qarabagh (“the Black Garden”) and along the lower Araxes, one finds the same prosperity along the sides of the river. In the streams of the Araxes, downstream of Julfa, “wheat grows with surprising vigor, the vine enlaces in its branches the highest trees, reaches the tops of walnut trees with monstrous trunks, and spreads out in giant garlands above thickets which are sometimes ancient. The villages disappear under the greenery, buried in veritable forests of fruit trees, incomparable orchards where peach trees, prune trees, apricot trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees, apple trees, and pear trees blossom.”
    Moreover, we find this fertility already attested in Strabon: “If one penetrates into the interior of Armenia,” the Greek geographer tells us, “one finds many mountains and dry plateaus where the vine itself does not come except with difficulty, but one encounters there many valleys… of an incomparable richness. Such is, for example, this Araxene plain which the Araxes crosses in all its length before flowing into the Caspian. We can even mention Gogarene*, for this plain consistently abounds in grains and fruit trees…” (6) The Armenian chronicler Lazare of Pharpi too celebrates this “magnificent province of Ararat, so fertile and fruitful. Its plains are immense and brimming with game. The surrounding mountains, agreeably situated and rich in pasturelands, are populated by ruminants. From the top of its mountains, waters flow and water the fields, which have no need of fertilization by man. The lively perfume of fragrant flowers offers health to hunters and to shepherds who live under the vault of heaven. The fertility of the fields fulfills the wishes of a nation of laborers.” (7)
    *  The medieval district of Armenian Gugark, at the northeast point of Lake Sevan.
    The Vannic Region
    The lands of southern Armenia have against those of the North the advantage of a less elevated altitude with an equal fertility. The plain of Moush, for example, which commands old Taron (the Taronitide of Greek geographers), is destined by nature to be at the same time a garden and a breadbasket for grains. Let us add, in this Armenian Midi, the heat: at Kharput, up to +34° in the Summer. We also see in this country, the ancient Sophene, the medieval Hanzith, the coming forth of the vine and fruit trees of Europe, together with the silkworm farming that establishes itself there today. Particular attention must be accorded in this respect to Lake Van (Dzov-Vana in Armenian), which is the Thospitis of Strabon and Ptolemy. “Created by a volcanic barrier formed in a recent period by the Nemrut” and still lightly salted, Lake Van exercises a beneficial influence: its vast layer of water, six times as vast as Lake Geneva, plays a regulating role by softening the climate and rendering possible highly varied cultured lands. It is thus that one sees a properly Mediterranean vegetation announce itself: at Khelath (Akhlath), for example, on the northern bank, in the medieval district of Bzuniq, fields of olive trees prosper.
    In fact, the Vannic region has played a considerable role in history. In pre-Armenian history, it was the center of the Kingdom of Urartu. In the high middle ages we see around the lake some of the most prosperous provinces of feudal Armenia: in the north, Turuberan, with the historic districts of Aliovit (to the south of Manazkert) and Bzuniq (around Khelath); to the West, the Altzniq, upon which the district of Khoith depended (between the lake and the land of Moush); to the south, the province of Mokq or Moks, the ancient Moxoene, upon which the coastal district of Reshtunik depended; to the East, the very important province of Vaspurakan, the Asprakania of the Byzantine geographers, upon which depended, from north to south, the districts of Arberani, Mardastan, Alatsovit, and Tosp which was the very canton of Van. Under the Ardzruni dynasty, Vaspurakan will be a powerful kingdom counterbalancing the fortune of the Bagratid kings of Kars and Ani. Let us add that the cities of the Vannic region, Van to the East, Manazkert and Khelath to the North, Bitlis to the South, have played a crucial role in Armenian history, not to mention the sanctuaries that are huddled together on the southwest coast of the lake, such as Narek, Ostan, Sourb-Khatch and the islet Althamar.
    Whatever the cultural importance of the Vannic region, the Ararat region (ancient province of “Airat”) remains preponderant. There are the historic districts of Vanand which was the region of Kars, Shirak which was the region of Ani, Ashotz (around the present Leninakan), Aragadzotn (east of Ani), and of Arsharuniq (south of Kars), not to forget Kotaiq (around present Yerevan) and Airarat proper, upon which depends Dvin, the ancient capital, which was the very heart of Armenia, the seat of its medieval grandeur, just as today it is the sanctuary of its independence.
    1. R. Blanchard, L’Asie Occidentale, t. VIII of Géographie universelle of VIDAL DE LA BLACHE et GALLOIS (1929) p. 109 et sq.
    2. The Bingöl-dagh of the Turks is the Sermantz-léarn of the Armenian geographers, the Mount Sermantzu of the Byzantines.
    3.  F. NANSEN, L’Arménie et le Proche Orient (Geuthner, 1928), p. 135. The Greek tradition wants it to be Jason, the chief of the Argonauts, who opened an exit from the Araxes towards the Caspian (STRABON, 1. XI, ch. XIV § 13).
    4. Anabase, 1. IV, ch. V, § 25.
    5. Anabase, 1. IV, ch. V, § 25-27
    6. STRABON, 1. XI, ch. XIV, § 4.
    7. LAZARE OF PHARPI, ch. VI.

  • Earthling 12:45 pm on 19th December 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: animal and human biodiversity, indigenous people and environmentalism, indigenous rights   

    Human and Subhuman Biodiversity 

    Human and subhuman (flora/fauna) biodiversity are linked by their common enemies, such as the Chinese Communist Party, and the American white supremacists who continue to subjugate Native Americans and trash their land at the same time. It is the indigenous people of a land, the people who have been there the longest, who really care about it the most, and who know it the most intimately. According to Grist.org, “Indigenous peoples comprise only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet their lands encompass 22 percent of its surface. Eighty percent of the planet’s biodiversity is on the lands where they live.”
    Here are some good links:
    Mongabay Conservation News
    Indigenous Environmental Network
    Cultural Survival
    Survival International
    Tribes Risk Exploitation When Sharing Climate Change Solutions
    By Khalil Abdulkareem

  • Earthling 6:59 am on 13th December 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agricultural economics, american oppression of asians, american oppression of blacks, american oppression of mexicans, american oppression of native americans, bracero program, clyde ross, coolies, discrimination, enclosure laws, enslavement of colored people, farm workers, farmworkers, hmong, injustice in us food system, marginalization, nafta, natasha bowens, racial injustice in america, , racism in amerca, racism in american food industry, racism in us food industry, redlining, slavery, upside-down triangle politics, white supremacism, wwii   

    Pillars of Racism in the United States’ Food System 

    By Mo Constantine, May 15, 2017
    Through trade agreements, technology, and a strong political economy, the United States’ agricultural system has become a global force, affecting food production, nutrition, and farmer livelihoods across the world. Many present-day farmers and agrarians speak of past generations, when the United States was home to thousands of small, family-owned farms that sustainably produced food to feed their local communities. It was not until the World Wars and the Earl Butz era that agriculture became agribusiness and farms began to consolidate into large, industrial corporations unconcerned with workplace safety, environmental sustainability, or nutrition. However, this narrative is misleading in that it overlooks many predecessors to agribusiness that operated not too differently than the oppressive, industrial agricultural system present today. In order to achieve a fair, sustainable, and equitable food system in the United States, we must understand the origins of our nation’s agricultural system and the foundation on which it stands. This requires understanding our history of exploitation, enslavement, disenfranchisement, and racism. Only once we acknowledge that our current food system is rooted in the systemic discrimination of a designated “other” can we begin the process of effectively dismantling the injustices present in the food system.
    United States agriculture has relied on systems of oppression and racism from its very inception. When Europeans began settling on the coast of what would be the United States, they quickly began conquering the native peoples through massacres, enslavement, and the spread of disease. Colonists arrived to find that “capital could be created out of thin air: one merely had to capture an Indian or find an Indian to capture another” (Gallay 10). In the Carolinas, Virginia, and Louisiana, the enslavement of the Native Americans provided the means through which the colonists began building a booming economy. The slave trade spread west, eventually reaching California, where members of the Apache and Sioux nations were kept as slaves until the nineteenth century (11). Many Native Americans were forced to work on farms that were being developed by the European settlers on their stolen land.
    Without their land, Native Americans went from a population that had survived for thousands of years off the land to one of the most impoverished groups in the United States. Many scholars, including W.E.B. Dubois and Walter Rodney, have pointed out the “importance of land as a source of wealth (and its absence as a source of poverty)” (Norgaard, Reed, Van Horn 26) and also that “the destruction of the land becomes a vehicle for racism and hunger” (43). Beginning with the European colonization of America in the 1600s, the following three centuries witnessed the confinement of Native Americans to increasingly small plots of land with no means to fight unfair land treaties or instances where such treaties were broken to benefit white Europeans. Many natives were forced to assimilate into European culture in order to survive since they could no longer subsist off the land.
    On the stolen land, the settlers began planting barley and peas, among other sustenance crops. The Native Americans they had enslaved were used as agricultural workers with their knowledge of the land, they were key players in ensuring the settlers’ success (Gilio-Whitaker 3; Gallay 2). They introduced the Europeans to corn, among other crops, showed them how to cultivate it, and it quickly became their most important crop. As the agricultural economy grew throughout the 1700s, large cash crop plantations were introduced, on which Native Americans were also used as slaves until the Civil War (Snyder 4).
    Native Americans were not unilaterally freed until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, but their numbers decreased rapidly after the eighteenth century. They were difficult to enslave, as their knowledge of the land and connection to communities outside of the settlers’ provided them with a means of escape, and their lack of immunity to European diseases made them uniquely susceptible to illness. By the 1700s, Native American enslavement had given way to the Atlantic slave trade. Africans were taken from their homelands in West and Central Africa and forced to work the land in the newly established United States. They, too, brought valuable agricultural knowledge and are responsible for the success of the largest agricultural industries of the time, such as cotton and tobacco. They introduced their superior methods of growing certain crops and invented machines that would make agricultural work more efficient and therefore more profitable. According to oral history, “enslaved African women brought okra and rice seeds to the Americans by hiding them in their braided hair. The plants [became] essential to the development of the United States” (Bandele, Myers 3). Through their transportation of crops across the Atlantic and aided by the sustainable and effective agricultural practices learned from ancient traditions, African slaves greatly aided the success of the South’s agricultural economy.
    When slavery was abolished in 1865, the government and white landowners had to find other methods for ensuring the subjugation of people of color if they wanted to continue white domination and maintain their profits that depended on exploitation. Though the government set up what seemed like good opportunities for freedmen, such as the Southern Homestead Act of 1866 which attempted to transfer public land to freed slaves, most freedmen did not have the material means to take up such property, and the efforts were mostly wasted. By 1910, there were 175,000 black farm owners and 1.15 million white farm owners, with the average white-owned farm nearly twice the size of the average black-owned farm (Higgs 150, 162). Those who were able to obtain land often had it seized or vandalized by the government and white neighbors. Clyde Ross, born in Mississippi in 1923 to two former slaves, remembers when his family lost everything to an unjust legal system committed to the oppression of black people: “Mississippi authorities claimed his father owed $3,000 in back taxes. The elder Ross could not read. He did not have a lawyer. He did not know anyone at the local courthouse. He could not expect the police to be impartial. Effectively, the Ross family had no way to contest the claim and no protection under the law. The authorities seized the land. They seized the buggy. They took the cows, hogs, and mules. And so for the upkeep of separate but equal, the entire Ross family was reduced to sharecropping (Coates 5).”
    Though slaves were free, the United States had been founded on principles of racism, which continued to create struggles for freedmen. Racist policies were built into the agricultural system and the “impact [was] cumulative and has created multi-generational exclusions from opportunities that manifest today” (Center for Social Inclusion). Agriculture was not just about growing food, but was a means of power; without property, black citizens were denied the stability and advancement that accompanies the formation of communities, providing the white population with continued control and domination.
    At first, racialized policies were explicit. After slavery came the Black Codes, enacted by southern states during the Reconstruction Era. Varying from state to state, the Black Codes intended to restrict black labor, forcing black people to work for low wages and punishing them if they broke their contract. They enacted heavy penalties for vagrancy, yet required black people to pay an annual tax if they worked as anything other than a farmer or servant. Moreover, some states used the Codes to limit property ownership, forcing black people to work as sharecroppers and enter into unfavorable work contracts (Black Codes 1).
    The Black Codes were quickly deemed unconstitutional, only to be replaced by Jim Crow laws at the end of the Reconstruction Era. Though slightly less harsh, Jim Crow offered little improvement to the situations of black farmworkers. Most remained sharecroppers, unable to own their own land or buy insurance, since black clients were “scientifically” deemed substandard risks (Heen 387). They were also prevented from competing for better wages due to the enticement and emigrant agent laws, which made it difficult and sometimes illegal to change jobs. The vagrancy laws established by the Black Codes were still in place, said to be “reserved almost exclusively for black men” (Blackmon 1), and often resulted in black people being forced into indentured servitude. Douglas A. Blackmon tells the story of Green Cottenham, a man arrested for vagrancy in 1908 and sentenced to a year of hard labor. The police department, through a standing arrangement between the county and the area’s industries, would sell men like Cottenham mostly to local farmers, but also to corporate prison mines. Once there, the owners of the farm or the mine could treat the prisoners however they wished: “The brutal forms of physical punishment employed against ‘prisoners’ in 1910 were the same as those used against ‘slaves’ in 1840” (Blackmon 23). Once again, thousands of black people were forced to work the land as slaves, contributing years of labor to the food system and getting nothing in return.
    The Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were implemented to ensure the continuation of white dominance, especially in the agricultural south. They ushered in a period of neo-slavery, so that the large plantations dependent on slave labor that had shaped the South’s economy could be maintained. It was not until the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s that this form of black neo-slavery ended. Black citizens were still denied equal rights, however, and faced structural racism in the form of job and housing discrimination. A study by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission showed that “the USDA…unjustly denied African-American farmers loans, disaster aid, and representation on agricultural committees…earning it the nickname ‘the last plantation’” (Bell 4). It was not until the very end of the twentieth century when Pigford v. Glickmana class-action lawsuit brought against the USDA by black farmers for unjustly denying them loans was settled, providing some compensation for the discrimination they had faced. However, nearly 60,000 farmers were left out of the settlement, so it was not until 2010 and the signing of the Claims Settlement Act under President Obama that the $1.25 billion owed to the claimants was made available (4).
    Housing discrimination was also common during the 1900s and is still evident today, causing higher rates of hunger and poverty in majority black communities. Many black people in search of home ownership in the early- and mid-1900s were denied mortgages and forced to pay much higher rates than white people. In order to keep neighborhoods segregated, “black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market through means both legal and extralegal; whites employed every measure, from ‘restrictive covenants’ to bombings” (Coates 36). The Federal Housing Administration rated neighborhoods for their supposed stability, or the quality of house insurance available to them, which translated into the number of black people in that area. All-white areas were given a rating of a green “A,” while mostly black areas received a red “D” rating, making them ineligible for FHA backed loans. The practice of drawing a red line around the areas on a map that were home to black families became known as “redlining” and was another way to ensure the oppression of black people (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1: Map of Chicago’s neighborhoods. The areas marked in red were denied FHA-backed mortgages due to the presence of people of color. The Atlantic: Frankie Dintino

    Redlining quickly became the law of the land, with many city officials such as those in Chicago and Baltimore “instructing city building inspectors and health department investigators  to cite for code violations anyone who rented or sold to blacks in predominantly white neighborhoods” (Rothstein 3). Denied mortgages and restricted to certain areas, black neighborhoods became overpopulated, leading to overcrowded schools and diminished education, which in turn gave rise to gangs and crime. Due to the marginalization and discrimination that has left them facing higher poverty rates and fewer resources, communities of color experience food insecurity over twice as high as white neighborhoods (African American Poverty). In an effort to mitigate hunger, the Black Panther Partya community-based, anti-racist organization founded in 1966began the Free Breakfast for Children Program, which was one of the first school breakfast programs in the United States. By 1971, the program was operating at thirty-six different sites across the nation (Potorti 45), feeding over 10,000 children every day before school (Baggins 7). It was one of the most successful programs of its time, not only providing thousands of children with the nourishment they needed to go to school and build healthier communities, but also bringing attention to the hunger and poverty faced by communities across America, something that was just then coming to the public’s attention.
    However, then-Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation John Edgar Hoover was suspicious of the Black Panther Party and its efforts to combat racism. The FBI was concerned with the Party’s self-defense programs meant to “police the police” in order to protect black citizens from being unjustly detained, harmed, or killed by a racist police force. Director Hoover declared the Black Panther Party to be a national hate group and issued a memo throughout the FBI: “The BCP (Breakfast for Children Program) promotes at least tacit support for the Black Panther Party among naive individuals and, what is more distressing, it provides the BPP with a ready audience composed of highly impressionable youths. Consequently, the BCP represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for (Collier 14).”
    After making the Breakfast for Children Program a national target, it was only a matter of time before both the program and the party were dismantled. As a result, disenfranchisement continued and black communities still experience higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, hunger, and crime than white communities. Though slavery and segregation have legally ended, structural racism is present in every institution and system, the food system being one of the most glaring examples.
    Asian and Latino immigrants have also experienced injustice at the hands of the food system. In the 1850s at the beginning of the California Gold Rush, there was an influx of Chinese and Filipino immigrants looking for jobs and money to bring back to their families. Many found employment in California’s agricultural sector, which was the fastest growing agricultural economy in the United States at the time (Minkoff-Zern, Peluso, Sowerwine, Getz 69). However, the Chinese referred to as “coolies” in California which was a rough translation of the Chinese character meaning “bitter labor” were blamed for depressed wage levels because of their willingness to work for less. This led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which was the first United States law prohibiting the immigration of a certain ethnic group. Restricting Chinese immigration minimized competition for white agricultural workers since at the time, seven out of eight farmworkers in California were Chinese (69).
    By classifying Chinese immigrants as nonwhite and noncitizens, it “set the stage for later enclosure laws” (Minkoff-Zern, Peluso, Sowerwine, Getz 66) that negatively impacted the influx of Japanese immigrants in the 1890s. By 1910, the agricultural sector in California housed two-thirds of Japanese laborers (70). Despite the fact that Japanese landowners were paying higher rents than their white neighbors and that there were relatively few Japanese farmers compared to white farmers, white Californians felt that the Japanese were taking away their labor and land opportunities, so in 1913 the state passed the Alien Land Law Act that prohibited Japanese people from acquiring land. This effectively eliminated any possibility of Japanese immigrants owning farms and participating in agriculture as anything but underpaid and marginalized laborers. Matters only became worse in the 1940s: after the internment of the Japanese during WWII, many were never able to regain their lost land. The United States, through its settler colonialist history, developed a pattern demonstrating that “as the state regulates agricultural resources, it creates racial categories that separate lawful members of society from ‘alien’ outsiders” (66) in order to ensure white accumulation and success. This results in the marginalization of people of color to the “unpropertied classes of America” (73)
    In the 1970s, there was an influx of Hmong immigrants after they were deemed political refugees due to the United States’ Secret War in Laos. Many Hmong people had practiced subsistence agriculture in their home countries and so continued their practices in the United States. A large portion of Hmong refugees settled in southern and central California, one of the largest agricultural producing regions in the world. In Southeast Asia, farming was a family practice in which everybody was expected to participate and exchange in-kind services for their extended family, but in the United States it is considered illegal to not pay farmworkers and not provide the necessary benefits. Hmong farmers, who found it difficult to find, much less understand, government regulations, were therefore cited for many Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) violations that required them to pay costly fines (Minkoff-Zern, Peluso, Sowerwine, Getz 77). Hmong agriculture was seen by the United States as problematic and illegal, another example of the difficulties faced by refugees and immigrants that limited their ability to access land and provide their families and communities with nourishment.
    As Asian immigrants were finding it increasingly difficult to own and operate farms, black farmers were moving to other industries, and native tribes were still fighting to regain their land, agribusiness was looking toward Mexico to provide cheap labor. In 1942, the U.S. government initiated the Bracero Program, which allowed contract laborers from Mexico and Central America to come to the United States as agricultural workers in order to solve the labor shortages. It also guaranteed the workers a minimum wage, good living conditions, and safety from discrimination. But because the Bracero workers had no representation on any committee, board, or agency and had little control over their own daily lives, abuses were rampant. Many employers provided low quality food and housing and paid workers irregularly and often below the set minimum wage. And unlike other workers, Bracero workers did not have the freedom to change jobs, so complaints often led to deportation. The U.S. Department of Labor Bracero Director Lee Williams even went as far to call the program was a system of “legalized slavery” (Southern Poverty Law Center).
    The Bracero Program helped open the doors for an increase of illegal immigrants who were quickly hired by employers looking to pay less than the program allowed. The ability of agricultural employers to control immigrant workers with threats of deportation and abuse has led to systemic exploitation, today’s neo-slavery. Immigrant farmworkers are subjected to harassment and mistreatment, exposed to dangerous pesticides and machinery, live in poverty, and are unable to report injuries or obtain health care their many for work-related illnesses and injuries. Even though the Bracero Program was dismantled in 1964 for its abuses, legal immigrants that are imported under the H-2 sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act face equally appalling conditions. Since they are prevented from becoming citizens and must return to Mexico once their temporary work visa expires, H-2 workers are known as “the disposable workers of the U.S. economy” (Southern Poverty Law Center). Most Mexican and Latin American workers, regardless of status, are viewed this way, constituting an invisible majority of the agricultural workforce that provides the food for a nation built and dependent on exploitation.
    In 1994, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented, eliminating most tariffs on trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. This forced the immigration of thousands more Mexican workers as their economy plummeted due to the agreement. Whether this was an intentional or unintentional outcome is up for debate. Through NAFTA, the United States was able to flood the Mexican market with subsidized American corn, among other products, forcing Mexican corn farmers out of business. Corn prices soared, making the nation’s staple crop too expensive to grow and buy. Mexico is where corn originated and the country is heavily dependent on it, hence the saying “Sin maiz, no hay pais”no corn, no country. The United States controls seventy-percent of the global corn market (Bhandari, Sturr 2), so Mexican farmers were destined to go out of business once the trade tariffs were removed under NAFTA. Mexican farmers now earn half the amount for their corn but must pay fifty-percent more for their tortillas (James 33). As a result, 20 million Mexicans live in food poverty, twenty-five percent of the population does not have access to basic food and one-fifth of Mexican children suffer from malnutrition (Carlsen 5).
    Many Mexicans came to the United States, desperately in search of better pay through employment by the very same agribusiness regime that made it impossible for them to earn a living wage in their home country. Forced to leave their homes and families, Mexican agricultural workers were met with horrible working conditions and the xenophobia and racism of the American people who blamed them for stealing their jobs. Discussing NAFTA and the plight of farmworkers in California, Sandy Brown and Christy Getz write, “Immigration policy has historically served as a mechanism, not only for managing labor flow, but also for actively producing an ‘other,’ in this case a labor force that can be viewed as undeserving of the right and benefits afforded citizen workers and that can be scapegoated during periods of economic downturn” (Brow, Getz 125). The racism already built into American culture encourages the creation of an “other,” based on appearance and ethnicity, that then serves to justify the mistreatment and oppression of people of color and immigrants. The efficient and cheap food system of which the United States often boasts is only made possible by a political economic system that seeks never ending accumulation and power at any cost, reliant on a social system that uses racism and xenophobia to erase the existence of the people who, through their exploitation, make America the powerful country that it is.
    Today, immigrants and people of color must contend with environmental racism, a term coined to describe the habit of placing toxic waste dumps, factory farms, and other health and environmental hazards near low-income communities of color who have been rendered unable to fight against it. Black, Latino, Asian, and immigrant farmers are even more food insecure than non-agricultural workers of the same demographics. Those who have been historically discriminated against by the American food continue to feel the effects, facing more subtle systemic injustices such as lack of access to healthy and affordable food, displacement from land due to gentrification, and placement of environmental and health hazards in communities of color (see Figure 2). The food movement is attempting to remedy some of these issues, yet many white “food justice activists,” who constitute a majority of food justice initiatives, fail to see the connection between race and food injustice.
    Many practices of the food justice movement and spaces within it are seen as only white, “not only through the bodies that tend to inhabit and participate in them but also through the discourses that circulate through them” (Guthman 266). This is because white people often have more resources and time to devote to activism and nonprofit work. However, since they are more likely to not have faced the same obstacles as those most adversely affected by the food system, their efforts can sometimes serve to further silence and oppress the very groups they advocate for. For example, many food justice initiatives are focused on sustainability initiatives and its advocates promote the organic and Slow Food movements, which should only become a priority once more pressing issues are solved. For many immigrants and people of color, “it’s hard to think about the sustainability of our farm without land security” (Bowens 6). To suggest that consumers “vote with their dollar” and buy more sustainable, and usually more expensive and more difficult to prepare, food items can be insulting to those who are struggling to access any healthy food at all to feed their families.

    Figure 2: People of color and immigrants experience discrimination at every level of the food system, from unjust agricultural policies, to lack of access to healthy food and the placement of hazardous factory farms and disposal sites primarily in communities of color.

    It would be more inclusive and more effective to prioritize the dismantling of structural injustices that have been built into and continue to operate within the food system. Since racism and food injustice are causes and effects of each other, one cannot be solved without the solving the other. As Natasha Bowens, author of The Color of Food, writes, in today’s world, “the food justice movement and the Black Lives Matter movement are fighting the same beast” (Civil Eats 4). Since the American food system is built on racism and xenophobia, the food justice movement must have anti-racist and pro-immigrant efforts as a center of its focus.
    Such efforts, in the past, have shown that when structures of exploitation and discrimination are exposed and addressed, positive change will follow. For example, in response to the Bracero Program, the United Farm Workers was formed by César Chávez and Gilbert Padilla that transformed migrant labor (Southern Poverty Law Center). They led the charge in demanding better wages and taught farmworkers how to fight for their rights and livelihoods, eventually achieving the passage of a law that protected union activity, the only one of its kind in the nation. Additionally, the Black Panther Party, though dismantled by the government, eventually inspired the USDA to start the School Breakfast Program that now feeds nearly thirteen million students daily (Collier 18).
    To remedy the food injustices prevalent in the food system, the United States needs to make reparations to those it has stolen from, oppressed, disenfranchised, and discriminated against. Native Americans need to be given back enough land to sustain healthy communities, and in fact there has been steps taken by the United Nations correspondent on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, to return land to Native Americans, but Congress has refused to meet with him (UN Official). However, in 2016, under the Obama administration, the U.S. government paid $492 million to seventeen Native American tribes for “mismanaging natural resources and other tribal assets” (Hersher 1), which is one of many steps that should be taken toward full reparations. Additionally, neighborhoods of color, especially majority black neighborhoods, need to be allocated state and federal funds for school education, better access to healthy and affordable food, and improved maintenance of the community. The USDA must also enforce better treatment standards and better pay for agricultural and factory workers to make sure that no worker goes home injured, sick, or hungry. And within the agricultural system, there must be an acknowledgement of different cultural practices among immigrant farmers and enough flexibility to address issues as they arise.
    The government should eliminate NAFTA and ensure that the United States is not a motivator of global hunger and food insecurity through unfair trade agreements and exploitation of international land and workers. Instead of flooding the market with cheap, subsidized American products and incentivising the exportation of crops by hungry nations and communities, the United States should support international food sovereignty. As one of the current world superpowers, the United States has the ability to set up the framework for food sovereignty across the globe simply by making it a goal for America itself. In order to achieve self-sustainability, the United States would have to ensure that it can produce the food needed to feed its citizens and support farmers without relying on imports and profits from an international market. This would require a restructuring or elimination of the agricultural subsidy system and a market that responds to consumer demand. Without the pressure to survive in a market controlled by the United States’ artificially cheap products, developing countries would find it easier to achieve food sovereignty and address hunger. Though it would likely still be challenging until food sovereignty becomes a global objective, the United States could take the first steps in leading us to a more equitable food system.
    We need to form a society that makes live and lets live, an improved version of Foucault’s concept of biopower and one that recognizes that disempowering groups of people in order to support an illusion of unity among the collective body is unsustainable. It collapses as soon as enough of the oppressed and their allies take a stand against the system, realizing that it relies on their continued silence (see Figure 3). The agricultural and food systems rely on their abuses and those they abuse remaining invisible, so the food justice movement’s primary goal should be to spread knowledge of our exploitative history and awareness of the contemporary oppressive politics at play. Those already fighting for food justice should direct their efforts at policy change. Even small changes, such as a redirection of a portion of the subsidies given to commodity crops to instead support the production of fruits and vegetables, can dramatically improve the food system and the health of the nation. In this era of globalization, small changes will quickly snowball, hopefully eventually requiring a restructuring of the global food system, helped along by the crisis of climate change.
    Though such decisions are controlled by powerful corporations whose only goal is profit, history has proven that even in a corrupt market, consumer demand and a few loud voices can lead to change. Rachel Carson and her supporters were able to persuade the USDA to remove DDT, the most harmful pesticide from the market, with the publication of Silent Spring. Cargill, one of the largest meatpacking companies in the world, has recently shifted its focus to more sustainable protein alternatives, responding to consumer demand for “cleaner meat.” Ireland is attempting to create a legal right to food, New Zealand has eliminated agricultural subsidies, and France just renewed its commitment to combating climate change. It will be difficult and will take time that many do not have, but it is possible to believe that the United States government, with enough activists fighting for better policies and enough consumers and citizens demanding change, could begin to address the structural inequalities, racism, and exploitation that remain as pillars of the food system.

    Figure 3: On the left is the traditional view of power, which flows downward from the leadership to the people. The graphic on the right represents the functioning of power that relies on the abuse and oppression of groups and individuals, as is true in the United States. If you remove the pillars of support, you eliminate the power. Source: Daniel Hunter

    This paper represents the views of its author, who does not necessarily endorse the views of other authors on this site.
    Copyright © 2017 Mo Constantine. All rights reserved.

  • Earthling 12:08 am on 29th November 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: air pollution in palestine, breathing freedom, , gaza toxic biosphere, , palestine forever, palestine freedom songs, say no to genocide, say no to mass murder, say no to zionism   

    Gaza Genocide Harms the Environment 

    Gaza now has a toxic ‘biosphere of war’ that no one can escape
    Air Pollution in Palestine

    Gaza’s drinking water spurs blue baby syndrome, serious illnesses

    With the resources at its disposal, Israel can take measures to prevent the land under its control from becoming uninhabitable toxic wasteland. Palestine has no such resources.

    I breathe freedom, don’t take my air
    Don’t push too hard, it’s better that we don’t both fall
    You will never be able to abolish me
    You must listen to me and talk to me
    And if you think you’re healing me
    This is not medicine
    If only you would listen to me
    In spite of everything that’s happened
    Power is what fails
    If it goes against thoughts
    This world is big enough for everyone
    Only the truth prevails
    And if you want we can find a solution
    If only we think together
    I breathe freedom, don’t take my air
    Don’t push too hard, it’s better that we don’t both fall
    The voice of freedom is louder than everything else
    No matter how much the wind of darkness blows,
    And the night covers the distances.
    You can’t color this whole world
    With the same color
    And change the order of the earth
    And the flow of the air
    I breathe freedom, don’t take my air
    Don’t push too hard, it’s better that we don’t both fall
    More freedom songs at https://palestineforever.home.blog/
    See also International Day of Living Together and Judaism’s Final Solution: Compassion

  • Earthling 5:17 pm on 24th November 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: elderly needlewomen, indigenous crafts, leningrad, leningrad elderly, leningrad grannies, leningrad region, preserving indigenous crafts, traditional wool clothing in russia, traditional wool household items in russia, traditional wool toys in russia   

    Leningrad grannies set out to preserve indigenous wool crafts 

    In Russia there is a project to preserve the traditional crafts of the indigenous peoples of the Leningrad region associated with the producing clothing, toys and household items made of wool. Elderly needlewomen, many of whom are already around 90 years old, are releasing products based on traditional patterns, and will go from village to village teaching people the art of knitting. The best knitted products will be given to five rural and ethnographic museums, and also shown in a mobile exhibition.
    Translated from http://www.gumilev-center.ru/babushki-iz-leningradskojj-oblasti-zapustili-proekt-pro-sokhraneniyu-sherstyanykh-remesel-korennykh-narodov/

  • Earthling 7:07 am on 20th November 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , constitutional protection of minorities, , diversity in islam, religious pluralism in islam   

    Diversity in Islam 

    The beginning of Islamic Constitutional Pluralism in 622 AD
    “The Medina Charter is arguably known to be the first constitution ever written incorporating religion and politics. Drawn up by Prophet Muhammad, the Charter was intended to end inter-tribal conflicts and maintain peace and cooperation among the people of Medina, which, after Mecca, is Islam’s second holiest place where the first Muslim community was established. It constituted a formal agreement between Prophet Muhammad and all the tribes and families of Yathrib (the old name for Medina) including Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans.
    The Charter gave equality to all its citizens and accepted the coexistence of different religions in the community. Under the constitution, all religious, ethnic and tribal groups had equal protection, rights and dignity. They would live by their own beliefs and judge themselves by their own laws.”
    A Successful Implementation of Islamic Pluralism in Spain
    “Al-Andalus’ success has often been attributed to its tolerant and pluralistic character known as La Convivencia, or the Coexistence. Islamic pluralism, as exemplified in Andalusian society, helped to preserve and even champion cultural diversity, in contrast to modern globalism.
    Nowhere is this more evident than in the ‘Golden Age’ of Jewish culture that took root in Muslim Spain. This was a period of flourishing Jewish intellectual, cultural and religious life. Illustrious scholars of the time included Moses ibn Ezra and Solomon ibn Gabirol, both preeminent philosophers and poets, and Maimonides himself, a scholar of vast influence in Torah scholarship and philosophy. Yet, almost paradoxically, despite maintaining and advancing their own distinct identity they were very much wholly integrated into the fabric of Islamic society and its intellectual, cultural and political circles. Jews adopted Arabic, the lingua franca of the time, and made it their own wielding it with profound eloquence to produce everything from religious treatises to romantic poetry.”
    International Day of Living Together
    Call To Eco-Jihad
    Biodiversity in Islam
    Kindness to Animals
    By Khalil Abdulkareem

  • Earthling 3:02 am on 5th September 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: estonian native people, Estonian seto people, estonians, ethnocultural festival, fire of friendship, funno-ugric people, indigenous estonians, king of the setos, minorities in russia, monarchism in russia, monarchy in russia, Pskov, Seto, seto king, Seto museum, Seto people, Sigovo   

    King of the Seto elected at the Setoma festival in Pskov region, Russia 

    The ethnocultural festival of Seto people, “Setoma Family Meetings”, was held on August 28, 2018 in the Museum of the Setos in the Pskov village of Sigovo. It gathered about 300 Seto people.
    Before the official festival, guests planted trees in the garden of the museum. At the festival were creative teams performing, interactive activities and a crafts fair. Guests took part in the festivities, lit the Fire of Friendship, and chose a new king who will symbolically rule the Seto next year.
    The international ethnocultural festival “Setoma Family Meetings” has been held in the Museum estate “Izborsk” every year since 2008. This is the only museum in Russia for this small Finno-Ugric people.
    According to the 2010 census, the Pskov region is home to 123 people who consider themselves as Seto. Most of the Seto people live in Estonia.
    Translated from http://www.gumilev-center.ru/korolya-seto-vybrali-na-festivale-setomaa-v-pskovskojj-oblasti/

  • Earthling 1:17 pm on 3rd August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Hajimet Safaraliyev, language education, , language education in russia, native languages in Russia, Russian as native language, state duma, support for native languages in russia, Vyacheslav Nikonov   

    Russia now allows all to study Russian as their native language 

    The State Duma recently established new rules for studying native languages and regional ethnic languages in schools. Deputies made changes to the Federal law “On education in the Russian Federation”.
    The new law gives parents the freedom to choose the language of their child’s education before they enter the first and fifth grades of school.
    Even before the first reading, the bill caused a wide public outcry. Representatives of some national republics called the initiative of the State Duma “poorly conceived and harmful.” A working group was set up in the lower house of ParVyacheslav NikonovVyacheslav Nikonovliament to work out the wording of the law in a way that suits everyone. And the result came quickly — by the second reading, the text of the bill was quite transformed.
    The situation prior to this new amendment was problematic. In some national republics, the state languages of the republic and native languages were studied, but Russian-speaking citizens could not learn Russian as a native language. In this regard, the State Duma received many letters from the Russian-speaking communities of Tatarstan, Bashkiria and other regions.
    Six years ago, the deputy Safaraliev introduced an initiative to the State Duma to introduce the possibility of learning Russian as a native language.
    “I received 98% support from the people, except for two republics. For a long time the bill was under consideration, but for various reasons it was rejected,” says Safaraliyev. “As a result, a few months later we have amended it.”
    The draft law, considered in the first reading, proposed the following wording: “Teaching and learning of the state languages of the republics of the Russian Federation is carried out on a voluntary basis and cannot be carried out at the expense of teaching and learning the state language of the Russian Federation.”
    The representatives of the republics felt that this was an attack on the regional ethnic languages, by making them merely optional.
    Thus, the Duma working group made various proposals to correct the wording of the bill. A total of 26 amendments were proposed for the second reading of the draft law. A total of four were accepted.
    Vyacheslav Nikonov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science, chimed in on the topic of linguistic diversity in Russia.
    “Nobody knows how many languages are spoken in the Russian Federation. We’ve heard the figure 277, the census was 174 – a lot. Record? Of course not! In India they speak 420 languages, in Indonesia 719, in Papua New Guinea — more than 800. But of course, no country uses such a large number of languages in the educational system: here, 58 languages are studied as subjects. There is no such thing anywhere else, because in our country ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity has always been considered as the greatest value,” the Deputy reminded.
    During the first reading of the bill, Nikonov also noted that the State Duma will offer to help the government develop native language education, such as the preparation of a budget to allocate funds for a new generation of textbooks for the native languages of Russian peoples.
    “We have prepared a letter to the President with a proposal to establish a fund for the preservation and development of native languages. Now, after the final adoption of the law, it will be signed and sent,” said Hajimet Safaraliyev. “There will be a fund — there will be financing, grants, programs, textbooks. I think we will be supported.”
    Translated from http://www.gumilev-center.ru/gosduma-razreshila-izuchat-russkijj-kak-rodnojj/

  • Earthling 1:10 pm on 30th July 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abdulvahit Zheenbek Uulu, Abdurashit, Afghanistan Pamir Kyrgyz, afghanistan tourism, Azhy Rushan, Azhybutu Abdilgani Uulu, central asian nomads, Eraaly Khan, Eraaly Khan death, Gorno-Badakhshan, hard conditions in pamirs, Khan Eraaly, kurultai, kyrgyz nomads, , Murgab, Naryn, new khan, nomads, Pamir Kyrgyz, Radio Azattyk, real men, relocation of pamir kyrgyz in afghanistan, thrilling tourist experiences, tough nomads, traditional lifestyles, where to go in afghanistan   

    Pamir Kyrgyz to hold elections for a new Khan 

    Ethnic Kyrgyz who live in the Pamirs in Afghanistan will soon hold elections for a new khan. This was reported by Radio Azattyk.
    The Pamir Kyrgyz Khan Eraaly died on July 15, 2018. Initially the journalist Zhanyl Zhusupzhan, investigating the lives of the Pamir Kyrgyz people, told Azattyk that the son of the deceased Jeanbai would now take the place of the khan. But now the local resident Abdulvahit Zheenbek Uulu told the radio station that the Kyrgyz are going to hold elections.
    Jeenbek Uulu said: “The head should be a person who can meet the officials coming here, who is able to negotiate with them, hospitable, and able to take care of the people.” According to him, the most likely winner of the elections is Azhybutu Abdilgani Uulu, born in 1974.
    Khan Eraaly ruled the Pamir Kyrgyz for more than five years. He was 68 years old, and recently fell seriously ill. Shortly before his death, the Khan was transferred to the hospital of the Murgab district of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast of Tajikistan. However, the doctors could not save his life.
    Now about 400 Kyrgyz families live in the Pamirs. In 2012, when the expedition of the weekly “MK-Asia” traveled to the Pamirs, the local Kyrgyz were ruled by the 30-year-old Khan Azhy Rushan. He inherited power from his father, Khan Abdurashit. As journalists found out, Azhy Rushan did not enjoy prestige among fellow tribesmen. Perhaps it was doubt in the young Khan’s competence that later forced the Pamir Kyrgyz people to transfer leadership to the elderly Eraala.
    Pamir Kirghiz live in very poor and unsanitary conditions. In addition, due to severe climatic conditions, closely related marriages, and the inaccessibility of medicine, they often get sick and die. Infant and maternal mortality is extremely high. Local conditions are not suitable even for breeding horses. Newborn foals do not survive in the highlands, so local residents purchase from plain Kyrgyz only adult horses, but not foals.
    The Kyrgyz authorities in recent years have given regular humanitarian aid to the Pamir Kyrgyz. In 2017, a program to relocate the people to their historical homeland started. However, in July 2018 it became known that six months later many settlers had begun planning to return to the Pamir. In the Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan, where they were helped to move, they had to live in sheds and graze cattle, and did not find any other housing or work. In addition, they could not fit in with the local residents, who speak a different dialect of the Kyrgyz language, among other things.
    Translated from http://www.gumilev-center.ru/pamirskie-kirgizy-provedut-vybory-novogo-khana/
    SEE ALSO: http://trekking.kg/travel/pamir/

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