Thursday, November 26, 2015

Welcome to the #StandwithRussia Movement

Following the Turkish Air Force's attack on a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 jet yesterday near the Syrian-Turkish border, protesters assembled outside Turkey's embassy in Moscow, throwing rocks and eggs, and even breaking a window. Russians are expressing their anger online, as well, launching a wave of one-star reviews on Google Maps of Turkey's Moscow embassy.

“They support terrorism,” says one recent review. “Your role in world history has always been that of a prostitute!” another angry reviewer writes. “Did you vermin forget who won in eight Russo-Turkish wars?” asks a woman named Natalia Vasilyevna.

  Despite today's wave of negative reviews, Google Maps still displays a 4.5 overall score for the embassy, with a total of 44 listed reviews.

Google Maps reviews of Turkey's embassy in Moscow.
The government-run Russian news network RT published a story on November 25 claiming that Internet users around the world have begun sharing the hashtag #StandwithRussia, apparently to express condemnation of Turkey's attack on the Su-24, which led to the death of one of its pilots, as well as a second Russian soldier who was killed in a subsequent search-and-rescue operation.

One of the images RT says Internet users are sharing to show solidarity with Russia is a peace symbol with a military aircraft superimposed over the center, recalling the peace symbol the Russian Foreign Ministry promoted after determining that the October 31 plane crash in Egypt was a terrorist attack. (This earlier plane-peace symbol was itself a reference to the Eiffel-Tower peace symbol created by French illustrator Jean Jullien in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks on November 13.)


"Asking for your support."

According to Twitter user @AndreyZalgo, however, he created the warplane-peace symbol image as a joke, before it had been revealed that Turkey's attack on the Russian Su-24 led to the loss of life.




Written by Kevin Rothrock for Global Voices

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Russian Performance Artist Detained for Setting Fire to Federal Security Service HQ



Petr Pavlensky, a Russian performance artist, has been detained on suspicion of hooliganism after setting fire to the doors of the headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in Lubyanka, Moscow. 

Pavlensky, known for his hard-hitting and sometimes shocking performance art, was photographed and recorded on video holding a canister of gasoline and setting alight one of the entrances to the FSB offices. Video of the performance was posted on Vimeo.





Photos from the action were also published by Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov, and quickly made their way around social media. 

According to Pavlensky, the performance piece (titled “The Threat”) was a symbol of the struggle against the “constant terror methods” of the Federal Security Service. The artist called his actions “a glove thrown by society into the face of the terror threat” of the FSB.

Journalists Vladimir Romenskiy and Nigina Beroeva, who were covering the performance, were detained together with Pavlensky, but later released by the police.

Social media users were either dismissive of the performance or very complimentary of it, echoing the usual polarized reaction to Pavlensky's art actions. 

 - Why is your FSB burning?
– I'm an artist, that's my vision.


-This could be anything—from modern art
to ancient carnival (see Herostratus),
but this isn't politics. And definitely not protest.

Russian MP Dmitry Gudkov (from A Just Russia party) wrote a thoughtful Facebook reaction post, wherein he reflected on the nature of the performance, the society's reaction to it, and what this might mean for the future of Russian protests and the Russian state.
 Я тоже скажу свои пару слов про новую акцию Павленского. Во-первых, все, конечно, прекрасно продумано: и время — утро понедельника, чтобы сразу обеспечить СМИ главной новостью, и картинка — лицо аскета на фоне пожара. Как акт искусства — практически безупречно, не нужны никакие пояснения.
А вот во-вторых — все печальнее. Представьте, что тот же Павленский вышел утром к ФСБ с плакатом в одиночный пикет. Этого никто и не заметил бы, сколько таких пикетчиков только за последний месяц повязали в центре города «без шума и пыли». А раз нормальный протест не работает — у ФСБ начинают гореть двери. И все, кого я читал в Фейсбуке, восторгаются. Не красотой картинки, а именно самим поджогом.
[…]
…другого способа диалога власти и общества уже нет. И искусство адекватно отвечает на такой вызов времени. Мы дошли до той точки, когда низы не могут достучаться до верхов, а те не хотят слышать этот стук.

 Translation
 I'll also say a few words about Pavlensky's new action. First, it's all very well thought out: the time—Mondya morning, to give the media their main news story, and the picture–an ascetic's face with fire in the background. As an act of art it's practically perfect, it doesn't require any explanation.
And second, everything's much worse. Imagine that the very same Pavlensky came out in the morning to the FSB HQ with a poster to stage a one-man picket. No one would have noticed it, as countless single picketers have been detained in downtown [Moscow] in just the last month, “without noise or dust.” And since a normal protest doesn't work, the FSB's doors start to burn. And everyone who I've seen on Facebook are in awe of it. Not the beauty of the image it presents, but the arson itself.
[…]
…there is no other way for dialogue between the authorities and the society. And art is responding in kind to the challenge this time presents. We have reached a point when those at the bottom can't get through to those at the top, and those at the top don't want to hear them knocking from below.


Written by Tetyana Lokot for Global Voices

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#DeepwaterHorizon: Five Years and Counting and Where Are We?

By DAVID RAINER
More than five years ago, April 20, 2010, to be exact, life on the Gulf Coast changed, and not for the better.
That is the date of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion that killed 11 people and injured 17. It also resulted in 134 million gallons of crude oil being released into Gulf waters.
Photo: David Rainer
The ensuing damage to the Gulf Coast’s ecology and economy is still being felt, and the process to acquire compensation from BP for that damage has been an ongoing effort.
Finally, however, there does seem to be progress as outlined last week in a BP Settlement meeting at the Battle House Renaissance Hotel in Mobile. Representatives from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) gave updates on the proposed settlements with BP and how the record $20.8 billion would be distributed.


If the presiding judge approves Phase III of the settlements, BP will be required to pay $8.1 billion in natural resources damages, including the $1 billion BP agreed to pay for early restoration projects. A Clean Water Act civil penalty of $5.5 billion will be assessed to BP. In addition, $4.9 billion will be paid for state economic claims, and $1 billion will be reserved for local economic claims. Other money would cover Natural Resource Damage Assessment costs, unknown injury and adaptive management and costs related to the False Claims Act.
N. Gunter Guy Jr., ADCNR Commissioner, said in addition to the $1.3 billion in restoration funding due the state, there is also $1 billion to be paid by BP to Alabama for economic damages.
“Those proceeds are in addition to and separate from the BP settlement (Clean Water Act violations and Natural Resource Damage) covered at this meeting,” Guy said at last week’s gathering. “That money is separate from what may have been received by local governments, private businesses and private claims.”
Rachel Hankey, an attorney with DOJ, highlighted the proposed monetary settlement for the audience.
“The $5.5 billion penalty is by far the largest civil penalty that’s ever been paid under the Clean Water Act,” said Hankey, who pointed out that BP would not be able to take any tax deductions for payments related to these claims.
Jean Cowan from NOAA outlined how the damages caused by the spill were assessed through an exhaustive, comprehensive process.
“When we talk about this spill, we never lose sight of the fact that just on the night of the explosion 11 people lost their lives and 17 more were injured,” said Jean Cowan of NOAA. “That’s just during the explosion. We certainly know that many more people suffered long-term injuries due to exposure to the oil and suffered economic impacts because of the loss of income through the incident.”
Cowan said the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Trustees will focus on the plants and animals along the coastlines that were injured because of the spill.
“Our purpose is to make the parties responsible for the spill compensate the public for the injuries to the Gulf and to restore the northern Gulf of Mexico to a condition that it would have been in if it had not been for the spill,” she said. “For the past five-and-a-half years we have documented, on an ecosystem level, the injuries to the Gulf of Mexico.
“How we describe ecosystem in this incidence is that it is a highly interactive and interdependent network of organisms, all the way from the microbes to the plants and animals, as well as the physical environment in which they live. We enjoy some of the most incredible sport and commercial fishing in the world. We have populations of dolphins and endangered sea turtles. We also have in the Gulf of Mexico these rare and endangered deep-sea corals that live a mile deep on the sea floor. We also have some of the most popular beaches in the country.”
Cowan said the BP disaster is the largest oil spill in U.S. history. She said the oil spread from a mile deep in the Gulf up through the water column 50 miles offshore and then moved onshore to impact fragile coastal habitats. The spill covered more than 1,300 miles of shoreline.
“That’s more than the distance from New Orleans to New York,” Cowan said. “In addition, oil slicks were observed cumulatively over 43,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s about the same size as the state of Virginia.”
“To put it simply, wherever the oil went, it created harm.”
Cowan said Trustees assessed the injuries caused by the oil spill by looking for impacts in a number of places, including the water column for fish and shellfish, benthic resources on the ocean floor, the nearshore marine ecosystem (estuarine coastal wetlands, subtidal oysters, beaches, shallow unvegetated habitats, gulf sturgeon and submerged aquatic vegetation), birds, sea turtles, marine mammals and recreational use (boating, fishing and beach-going).
She said the restoration process would come in four segments – restore and conserve habitat; restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources; and provide and enhance recreational opportunities.
When the settlement is approved, BP will make the initial payment one year after the settlement is approved and will make annual payments for 15 years.
BP has also agreed to an additional $700 million for unknown conditions and adaptive management to deal with unforeseen problems that may arise in the future.
“What that means is we know that over the 15-plus years the conditions are going to change,” Cowan said. “By setting aside this $700 million, it allows us to have a safety net to address future conditions.
“To give you an idea of what’s in this plan for Alabama, state officials and trustees will focus efforts on coastal inshore habitats. Additional projects in Alabama can also include restoration of living coastal resources, such as birds and marine mammals. There will also be opportunities to enhance the recreational opportunities that were lost because of the spill.”
The public will have the opportunity to comment on all the restoration plans. The public comment period runs through December 4, 2015. Visit http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan/ to submit a comment.
For an Alabama perspective on the oil spill restoration efforts and projects, visit http://alabamacoastalrestoration.org/ for additional information and to sign up for email updates.
“We want people to know this site is there for them,” said Commissioner Guy. “This is one of the best resources for our people to stay in touch with what is happening with these funds.
“Everybody has an opinion on what this oil spill did, but at the end of the day, this settlement brings closure for all the Gulf Coast, and especially Alabama, and gives us the ability to move forward on addressing natural resource damages, addressing the needs of our coastal communities and completing some really beneficial projects over the coming years. Right now, we’ve got a little more than $100 million in early restoration money, and we’re moving forward with those projects.”
PHOTOS: (David Rainer) Rapid deployment of protective booms kept the oil from spreading into Mobile Bay, but many areas of the Alabama Gulf Coast were significantly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Leaders and Demagogues


Among the current crop of candidates for president of the United States, who exhibits leadership and who doesn’t?

Leadership isn’t just the ability to attract followers. Otherwise some of the worst tyrants in history would be considered great leaders. They weren’t leaders; they were demagogues. There’s a difference.
A leader brings out the best in his followers. A demagogue brings out the worst. 

Leaders inspire tolerance. Demagogues incite hate.

Leaders empower the powerless; they give them voice and respect. Demagogues scapegoat the powerless; they use scapegoating as a means to fortify their power.

Leaders calm peoples’ irrational fears. Demagogues exploit them.
My list of great American leaders would include Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his second inaugural address near the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln urged his followers to act with “malice toward none, with charity for all.”

In his first inaugural at the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts.”

In 1963, as African-Americans demanded their civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. urged his followers “not to seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

My list of American demagogues would include Senator “Pitchfork” Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, who supported lynch mobs in the 1890s; Father Charles Coughlin, whose antisemitic radio rants in the 1930s praised Nazi Germany; Senator Joseph McCarthy, who conducted the communist witch hunts of the 1950s; and Governor George C. Wallace, the staunch defender of segregation.

These men inspired the worst in their followers. They scapegoated the weak and set Americans against each other. They used fear to stoke hate and thereby entrench their power.

Back to the current crop of Presidential candidates: Who are the leaders, and who are the demagogues?

The leaders have sought to build bridges with those holding different views.

Rand Paul spoke at Berkeley, for example, seeking common ground with the university’s mostly-progressive students.

Bernie Sanders traveled to Liberty University where most students and faculty disagree with his positions on gay marriage and abortion. “I came here today,” he said, “because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.”

Other candidates, by contrast, have fueled division. Ben Carson has said being gay is a choice. “A lot of people who go into prison straight and when they come out they’re gay,” he says, “so did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

Carson has also argued that Muslims should not be allowed to become President. I “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

Donald Trump, meanwhile, has charged that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Trump has lashed out at those who he charges come to America to give birth, so that their children will be, in his term, “anchor babies” – arguing that “we have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.”

And after one of his followers charged that Muslims “have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” and asked Trump “when can we get rid of them?” Trump didn’t demur. He said “a lot of people are saying that” and “we’re going to be looking at that.”
Nor has Trump inspired the best in his followers.

At one recent rally, after Trump denigrated undocumented workers, his supporters shoved and spit on immigrant activists who had shown up to protest. At other Trump rallies his followers have shouted at Latino U.S. citizens to “go home” and yelled “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right.” 

Trump followers have told immigrant activists to “clean my hotel room, bitch.” They’ve beaten up and urinated on the homeless, and and joked “you can shoot all the people you want that cross illegally.”

America is the only democracy in the world where anyone can declare himself or herself a candidate for the presidency – and, armed with enough money, possibly even win. 

Which makes it all the more important that we distinguish leaders from demagogues.

The former ennoble our society. The latter degrade and endanger it – even if they lose.

( http://robertreich.org)


Monday, August 31, 2015

Think You're So Clever, Wikipedia? Russian Censors Are Blocking You Anyway

Despite Wikipedia's attempts to circumvent Russian censorship, the Kremlin seems intent on blocking the website. Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

Russia's Internet watchdog is apparently not impressed with Wikipedia's attempts to combat censorship. On Saturday, August 22, Wikipedia made a daring move to avoid taking down content at the request of the censors—but now, it seems, the website is bound for a ban despite the cunning loophole.

On August 20 Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin's media censor, announced that it had ordered Wikipedia to remove Russian Internet users’ access to an article about charas hashish, which a court in Astrakhan banned last June. If Wikipedia refused to comply with the order, it would be banned entirely, officials said. Wikipedia refused to comply with the request and instead made a small change to the URL of the charas hashish article, technically putting it in compliance with Russian law. The old page now features a list of seven different Wikipedia entries on the various meanings of the word “charas,” while the original text about charas hashish is completely intact, but is now accessible at a new URL on the encyclopedia's website.

On Monday, August 24, Izvestia reported that Roscomnadzor was still intent on blocking Wikipedia (see update at bottom of post) for refusing to abide by Russian laws and not deleting the Russian-language article about charas hashish.

According to Izvestia‘s sources within the agency, some Internet experts, including Denis Davydov of the pro-Kremlin Safe Internet League, accused Wikipedia's Russian office of engaging in “political activity” instead of “bringing knowledge to the world,” as a “free encyclopedia” should. Roscomnadzor suggested this gave them no other choice but to block Wikipedia, acting in accordance with the earlier court ruling.

Roscomnadzor's press-office also said they didn't intend to block the whole website, and would be able to only block the offending content and pages, provided Wikipedia's management “cooperated” and removed the HTTPS encryption protocol that puts the whole website in danger of being blocked.

Wikipedia's Russian office reacted to the news on Twitter early on Monday.
Good morning, country! This might well be our last morning with you!
Wikipedia stood by its decision to not take down the article, which it claims to have revised in accordance with the website’s internal quality standards (with information “based on credible sources”). Izvestia also cites Wikipedia as saying they do not plan to remove the HTTPS encryption protocol from the website, since “no state institutions or ISPs should have the means to know what the website's users are reading.”

Vladimir Medeyko, head of Wikimedia RU, told Izvestia that should the website be blocked, the RuNet users will still be able to access the online encyclopedia, as “there are lots of ways to read blocked websites.”
If the state [Russia] blocks Wikipedia, it will only make things worse for itself.
News about Russian censors adding pages from websites like YouTube and Wikipedia to the country's Internet blacklist are now an almost daily occurrence, so it's probably safe to say that websites will continue to come up with interesting ways of circumventing censorship and remaining accessible to Russians—and Roscomnadzor will keep trying to find new pretexts to block them.

Update (8:26 PM GMT, August 24, 2015): Roscomnadzor has officially added the Wikipedia URL for the charas article to its banned websites registry. Wikipedia responded by publishing a page with instructions on how to circumvent the block and said it would be allowing Russian-language administrators and reviewers to edit the website using anonymizing proxy services and Tor.

Monday, August 3, 2015

This Is What Happens When You Give Power to the ‘Chicas’

Chicas Poderosas Conference in Miami, Florida. Photo: Chicas Poderosas.

“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)”.

This African proverb has helped guide the work of Mariana Santos, the founder of Chicas Poderosas, a group trying to increase the number of Hispanic-American women working directly with newsroom technology. Santos knows what challenges women face in this male-dominated industry. Even in the digital age, women journalists in Latin America work at a systematic disadvantage.

Santos is a Portuguese visual designer who has worked for The Guardian, and is currently the director of “interactive and animation” at Fusion. She says digital-media training is still limited and there are still too few programs focused on women, which keeps them underrepresented in the world of technology journalism.

In 2013, thanks to a fellowship at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ)Santos created Chicas Poderosas to help change things in the industry. Staging events and meet-ups, and offering mentoring, Chicas helps women develop news applications, produce interactive content, and integrate new tools into their newsrooms, according to the group's website.

The most recent Chicas Poderosas conference was held at Stanford University last June, where 35 women journalists and developers from Latin America met for roughly four days.

Santos summarized the event as “all the best experiences, classes, [and] people I met during my nine months as a JSK fellow.”







Elisa Tinsley, deputy vice president of programs at the International Center for Journalists, wrote about it in the ICFJ blog:
"The ultimate goal of the Summit and of Santos’ Chicas Poderosas movement is to help women take the lead in newsroom technology and design as a way to bring women's voices into both newsrooms and the content newsrooms generate."
After the Stanford event, Dow Jones was the first to create Chicas Poderosas fellowships—sending two Latin American women journalists to newsrooms specialized in digital storytelling.



Maria Paula Martinez, from Colombia’s Universidad de Los Andes went to NPR. She expressed her enthusiasm on Twitter:

And Mariana Barbosa, a former La Nacion Argentina student and journalist, went to ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest:
For more information about how to get involved in Chica Poderosa, visit its website.

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Alligator Season Causes Confusion for Some Alabama Hunters

by David Rainer

To quote the warden in “Cool Hand Luke,” the classic Paul Newman movie, “What we have here is failure to commun’cate.”

Despite the best efforts of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and its Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) to explain the changes for the selection process for the 2015 alligator season, a bit of confusion remains.

Before the 2015 season, the draw process for the alligator tags was strictly a “luck of the draw” proposition. It didn’t matter how many times you were drawn or not drawn, the process was blind to previous seasons.

Obviously, people who watched as certain “lucky” individuals seemed to get tags regularly while they were left out were understandably upset.

That is why a weighted preference-points system was instituted this year. Results from the 2014 draw were entered into the system. Those who applied in 2014 and weren’t drawn received one point.

However, if those individuals were not drawn again this year, their chances of being drawn in 2016 and later years increased exponentially.

WFF Wildlife Biologist and Alligator Program Coordinator Chris Nix said there was a misunderstanding about how the preference-points system works.

“Even though the people who weren’t drawn in 2014 have a preference point, it’s still just one preference point,” Nix said. “What we need to do is really explain the preference-points system and how it will work in future years. It’s not a quick fix. There is no way we can fix it in one year, but the strides we’ve made should resolve the problem in future years.”

Nix said the way the system works, starting with the 2014 season, is to take the number of years the individual has applied and not been drawn and cube it.

In other words, one preference point cubed is still one. However, if that individual was not drawn again in 2015, then you take two points and cube that to equal eight preference points and then add one for that year’s application for a total of nine points for the 2016 drawing.

When it’s time to draw the tags, the system is set up for two draws. The first draw, which accounts for 85 percent of the tags, will come from those applicants with preference points. The remaining 15 percent of the tags will be pulled from the non-preference-points pool.

“For the people who have not drawn a tag, we’re trying to give them an upper hand, giving them better odds of pulling an alligator tag,” Nix said. “We can’t do that exclusively. We still have to give people who are putting an application in for the first time an opportunity to draw.

“Each preference point is like having another entry into the drawing. But that one is not going to make as big a difference as they would in three years. Then they would have 28 points. It accumulates at a very quick rate. If people are patient, in three to four years, it’s almost a guarantee that they will draw a tag.”

There is one caveat that everyone who wants to participate in the alligator season must be aware of – the only way to keep preference points is to apply for a tag each year.

“If you apply for three years and for some reason you don’t put in that fourth year, you lose all the preference points you had accumulated,” Nix said.

“We have tried to make this process as fair as possible,” said WFF Director Chuck Sykes. “We feel this system will provide all Alabama gator hunters with the best opportunity to successfully draw a tag. Unfortunately, there were a few hunters who assumed they would automatically get a tag if they were unsuccessful in drawing one last year. Well, you know the old saying about what happens when you assume something.

“The only other issue I have seen is people not being able to attend the mandatory training class. I really hate it for the hunters who successfully draw a permit but have a conflict and can’t attend. But, it plainly states on the website at registration that all hunters must attend the training class in the area where the tag was drawn – and the dates are given. We had roughly 4,000 hunters apply to receive one of the 260 tags.  That is approximately a seven-percent chance at drawing a tag. So, there will be a few alternates this year who will be ecstatic that someone had a conflict and could not attend the class.”

This year, another change is that Lake Eufaula will have its own separate zone. In past years, most hunters selected for the Southeast Zone traveled to Lake Eufaula in their quest to harvest an alligator. In an effort to better distribute this harvest pressure throughout the Southeast Zone and to more closely manage the Lake Eufaula population, the Lake Eufaula Zone was established.  The Southeast Zone hunters will have the option to either pursue their gators on private lands (with landowner permission) or on the various rivers such as the Pea and Choctawhatchee that occur in that zone.

“We continue to observe and survey the populations of each zone annually,” Nix said. “Due to the data we received, we broke out Lake Eufaula to protect and enhance that particular zone. Twenty tags are what we felt comfortable with for Lake Eufaula. And there is an 8-foot length restriction on Lake Eufaula in order to protect the females in that population.”

Lake Eufaula hunters can pursue gators during daytime and nighttime hours from sunset on August 14 to sunrise on October 5. Only nighttime hunting is allowed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the remaining zones. Lake Eufaula Zone encompasses the public Alabama state waters only in the Walter F. George Reservoir (Lake Eufaula) and its navigable tributaries, south of Hwy 208 (Omaha Bridge). This zone excludes the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge.

The Southeast Zone (excluding Lake Eufaula and its associated tributaries) includes the private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties. This zone will have 40 tags for 2015.

There are no length limits on any area except for the Lake Eufaula Zone.

Again this year, the Southwest Zone will have the most tags, 150. The Southwest Zone includes the private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke, and Monroe counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of U.S. Highway 84.

The West Central Zone, where Mandy Stokes’ world-record gator of 15 feet, 11 inches was taken last year, will again have 50 tags. The West Central Zone includes the private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S. Highway 84), Wilcox and Dallas counties.

Successful applicants will be required to attend and complete the Alligator Training Course, provided by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries staff, associated with the zone where the tag was drawn. After completion of the course, drawn applicants will be eligible for an Alligator Possession Tag.

For the Southwest Alabama zone, the course will be held twice on July 25 at the Five Rivers complex in Spanish Fort, Ala. The first class will be from 10 a.m. until noon. The second class will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For the Southeast Alabama and Lake Eufaula zones, the course will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 8 at the Chamber of Commerce Office in Eufaula, Ala.

The course for the West Central Zone will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 1 at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-Op in Selma, Ala.

Those who are selected for the Southwest Alabama hunt and have attended the course at Five Rivers as a permittee or alternate in prior years may be exempted from this requirement. All others will be required to attend this year’s class at Five Rivers in Spanish Fort. If you were selected for the West Central Alabama hunt and have attended the course at the Central Alabama Farmer’s Co-Op in Selma as a permittee or alternate in prior years, you may be exempted from this requirement. All others will be required to attend and complete this year’s class at Alabama Farmers Co-Op in Selma.

Nix said individuals drawn in one zone cannot attend the Alligator Training Course for another zone.

“It’s very specific,” he said. “You must attend the training class for the area where the tag was drawn.

“This year, we’ve added an alligator training video. There is a link on the page when the hunter accepted their tag. We encourage hunters and alternates to watch the video before attending their training classes.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is at Pluto


After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.

“I’m delighted at this latest accomplishment by NASA, another first that demonstrates once again how the United States leads the world in space,” said John Holdren, assistant to the President for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “New Horizons is the latest in a long line of scientific accomplishments at NASA, including multiple missions orbiting and exploring the surface of Mars in advance of human visits still to come; the remarkable Kepler mission to identify Earth-like planets around stars other than our own; and the DSCOVR satellite that soon will be beaming back images of the whole Earth in near real-time from a vantage point a million miles away. As New Horizons completes its flyby of Pluto and continues deeper into the Kuiper Belt, NASA's multifaceted journey of discovery continues."

“The exploration of Pluto and its moons by New Horizons represents the capstone event to 50 years of planetary exploration by NASA and the United States," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Once again we have achieved a historic first. The United States is the first nation to reach Pluto, and with this mission has completed the initial survey of our solar system, a remarkable accomplishment that no other nation can match.”

Per the plan, the spacecraft currently is in data-gathering mode and not in contact with flight controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physical Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. Scientists are waiting to find out whether New Horizons “phones home,” transmitting to Earth a series of status updates that indicate the spacecraft survived the flyby and is in good health. The “call” is expected shortly after 9 p.m. tonight.

The Pluto story began only a generation ago when young Clyde Tombaugh was tasked to look for Planet X, theorized to exist beyond the orbit of Neptune. He discovered a faint point of light that we now see as a complex and fascinating world.

"Pluto was discovered just 85 years ago by a farmer's son from Kansas, inspired by a visionary from Boston, using a telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Today, science takes a great leap observing the Pluto system up close and flying into a new frontier that will help us better understand the origins of the solar system.”

New Horizons’ flyby of the dwarf planet and its five known moons is providing an up-close introduction to the solar system's Kuiper Belt, an outer region populated by icy objects ranging in size from boulders to dwarf planets. Kuiper Belt objects, such as Pluto, preserve evidence about the early formation of the solar system.

New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, says the mission now is writing the textbook on Pluto.

"The New Horizons team is proud to have accomplished the first exploration of the Pluto system,” Stern said. “This mission has inspired people across the world with the excitement of exploration and what humankind can achieve.”

New Horizons’ almost 10-year, three-billion-mile journey to closest approach at Pluto took about one minute less than predicted when the craft was launched in January 2006. The spacecraft threaded the needle through a 36-by-57 mile (60 by 90 kilometers) window in space -- the equivalent of a commercial airliner arriving no more off target than the width of a tennis ball.

Because New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched – hurtling through the Pluto system at more than 30,000 mph, a collision with a particle as small as a grain of rice could incapacitate the spacecraft. Once it reestablishes contact Tuesday night, it will take 16 months for New Horizons to send its cache of data – 10 years’ worth -- back to Earth.

New Horizons is the latest in a long line of scientific accomplishments at NASA, including multiple rovers exploring the surface of Mars, the Cassini spacecraft that has revolutionized our understanding of Saturn and the Hubble Space Telescope, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. All of this scientific research and discovery is helping to inform the agency’s plan to send American astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

“After nearly 15 years of planning, building, and flying the New Horizons spacecraft across the solar system, we’ve reached our goal,” said project manager Glen Fountain at APL “The bounty of what we’ve collected is about to unfold.”

APL designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. SwRI leads the mission, science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Follow the New Horizons mission on Twitter and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby to join the conversation. Live updates also will be available on the mission Facebook page.

Monday, July 13, 2015

@OakMountainSP - Oak Mountain Archery Park Opens August 4, #BhamAug4


photo by Casito

Alabama’s eleventh community archery park will hold its grand opening at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 4, at Oak Mountain State Park. The Oak Mountain State Park Community Archery Park is located within the park on Findley Drive near The Oaks golf course. The public and media are invited to attend the grand opening ceremony.

The archery park will be open year-round during daylight hours for recreational shooting, competitive tournaments and outdoor educational programming. The facility includes an eight-target adult range from 15 to 50 yards, an eight-target youth range of 5 to 20 yards and a four-target range of 10 to 40 yards. The park also features a 12-foot shooting platform for bowhunters to practice shooting from an elevated position.

 

Use of the archery park is free for those under 16 years of age or over 65 years of age. Oak Mountain entry fees still apply. Alabamians ages 16 to 64 must have a hunting license, Wildlife Management Area license, or Wildlife Heritage license in order to shoot. For non-residents, an annual Wildlife Management Area license or non-resident hunting license is required. Licenses are available from various local retailers or online at outdooralabama.com.
 
Oak Mountain joins 10 other community archery parks currently in operation throughout the state including Athens, Cullman, Dothan, Demopolis, Decatur, Foley, Heflin, Lincoln, Tuscaloosa and Ozark. These facilities are one component of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) effort to increase awareness and participation in the life skill of archery.
The Oak Mountain archery park was made possible by the following sponsors: ADCNR’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Archery Trade Association, and the City of Pelham.

Other recreational activities available at Oak Mountain State Park include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, geocaching, golf, BMX and pump tracks, playground areas, basketball courts, kayak and paddle board rentals, and cable skiing among others.


For more information about the Oak Mountain State Park Community Archery Park, call the park office at (205) 620-2520. For more information about Oak Mountain State Park, visit www.alapark.com/oak-mountain-state-park.

Monday, July 6, 2015

#Obama Administarion: July 20 Official Date for Normalizing Relations with #Cuba

On July 1st President Obama announced his intentions to re-establish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America, effective July 20.

The U.S. Department of State has also notified Congress it will convert the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba to U.S. Embassy Havana, effective on the same date. 


On July 1, the U.S. and Cuban Interests Sections exchanged presidential letters declaring mutual intent to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies on July 20, 2015.

According to President Obama the U.S. and Cuba have agreed to develop “respectful and cooperative” relations based on international principles, including the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

The duties of the U.S. Embassy will continue to include the same functions as those of the U.S. Interests Section, including consular services, operation of a political and economic section, implementation of a public diplomacy program, and will continue to "promote respect for human rights."

According to the Obama Administration the U.S. Embassy in Havana will operate like other embassies in restrictive societies around the world, and will operate "in sync with our values and the President’s policy."

"Normalizing relations is a long, complex process that will require continued interaction and dialogue between our two governments, based on mutual respect. We will have areas of cooperation with the Cubans, and we will continue to have differences. Where we have differences, deeper engagement via diplomatic relations will allow us to articulate those differences clearly, directly, and when appropriate, publicly. Throughout our diplomatic engagement, the United States will remain focused on empowering the Cuban people and supporting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba."

Travel restrictions and the embargo on Cuba are still in effect and the Administration has no plans to alter current migration policy, including the Cuban Adjustment Act.

U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will continue to administer the regulations that provide general licenses for the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heflin Man Faces Possible Prosecution for Allegedly Shooting at Black Bear

 
Heflin, Ala. - After allegedly shooting at a black bear seen in Heflin, Ala., on June 16, 2015, a local man has been charged with breaking the state’s bear protection laws. While classified as a game animal in Alabama, there is no established black bear hunting season in the state. Black bears are also protected by state law due to low population numbers. The shooter was arrested and released pending a court hearing on August 5.

In Alabama, shooting at a black bear is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential minimum fine of $2,000. Other penalties for attempting to take a black bear include the loss of hunting and fishing license privileges for three years and possible jail time.

 
The bear in Heflin appeared to be unharmed by the incident and was allowed to find its way back into a wooded area near Sugar Hill Road where the shots were fired.

Capt. Johnny Johnson, Supervising Conservation Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) District 2 Office, assisted in the investigation on June 16 and said anyone shooting at a black bear risks serious consequences.

“Shooting a black bear in Alabama is a serious offense that could send someone to jail for up to a year in addition to the substantial fines,” Johnson said. “If you see a black bear, leave it alone. We want and welcome them in Alabama.”


Historically, a small population of black bear has remained rooted in southwest Alabama, primarily in Mobile and Washington counties. In recent years, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population in northeast Alabama. WFF is currently working with other state and federal agencies to collect data on the state’s black bear population and movements.

Black bears are secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. To avoid accidently attracting a bear to your home, feed pets just enough food that they can consume in one meal. Secure uneaten pet food, trash bins, bird and other wildlife feeders, as they are easy pickings for hungry young bears.


If you are lucky enough to encounter/observe a black bear, WFF offers these suggestions:

• Do not be frightened
• Do not approach the animal
• Do not run from the bear; back away slowly
• Stand tall and upright and make loud noises
• Avoid direct eye contact with the bear
• Make sure the bear has an unobstructed direction to escape
• Never purposely feed a bear


The public is encouraged to report black bear sightings online at https://game.dcnr.alabama.gov/BlackBear/. Black bear sightings can also be reported to WFF district wildlife offices, or by email to Thomas Harms at Thomas.Harms@dcnr.alabama.gov.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

NASA Administrator Statement on the Loss of SpaceX CRS-7


The following is a statement from NASA Administrator
Charles Bolden on the loss Sunday of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

"However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system. 

“A Progress vehicle is ready to launch July 3, followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.

“SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today's launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.”  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Agroecology can help fix our broken food system. Here’s how.

by Maywa Montenegro for Ensia
 

Illustration by Glen Lowry

The various incarnations of the sustainable food movement need a science with which to approach a system as complex as food and farming.

Editor’s note: This story was co-published with Food Tank, a nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. 


Thumb through U.S. newspapers any day in early 2015, and you could find stories on President Obama’s “fast-track” plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, antibiotic scares and the worsening California drought. Economists reported on steadily rising income inequality, while minimum-wage food workers took to the picket lines. Americans fled their kitchens and Chipotle welcomed them with farm-friendly appeal. Scientists recorded the warmest winter in history.

These seemingly disconnected events have a common thread: They all are symptoms of a political economy out of kilter with the welfare of the planet and the people who live on it. They are also nestled deep in the way food is grown, distributed and consumed today. What we sometimes call the “agri-food system” is clearly broken — just ask farmworkers and food workers (exploited and underpaid), honeybees (collapsing), forested landscapes (fragmenting), the climate (warming), and the ever-growing number of people without access to nutritious food, or the land and resources with which to produce it. 

“Sustainable food” attempts to heal this fragile system, and it’s been a buzzword for three decades. Its mushrooming incarnations — local, organic, biodynamic, fair trade and “slow,” among others — suggest a broad yearning for something better. But modern capitalism is wondrously efficient at disciplining outliers. It hasn’t taken much for the dynamics of competition and price to sweep countercultural ideas into the industrial mainstream, forcing enterprises in many – not all – sustainable food niches to expand in size, adopt monoculture techniques and replicate the basic model of industrial overproduction. 

What some have described as “input-substitution organic,” for example, swaps out chemical inputs for biological ones. These farms are therefore marginally better in terms of pollution but have barely budged the needle on monoculture cropping, not to mention labor issues. In any of these alternatives, price is prohibitive: Most low- to middle-income earners — and this includes most workers in the food system — cannot afford to buy the fruits of this so-called food revolution. 

There is an approach that embraces complexity and change. It involves developing the capacity to listen, to grow new connections, and to build solidarity among animals, plants and people.

In short, there’s a systems problem with the many incarnations of “sustainable food.” Good intentions notwithstanding, most alternatives leave untouched the underlying structures and forces of the agri-food system. They don’t ask how farmers can listen to their land, scientists can listen to farmers, eaters can listen to restaurant workers and the government can listen to people’s needs. 
Sustainable food, it turns out, lacks a science with which to deal with a system as complex as farming and food. 

But there is an approach that embraces complexity and change. It involves developing the capacity to listen, to grow new connections, and to build solidarity among animals, plants and people. It’s called agroecology.

As the name suggests, agroecology is based in ecology, a science grounded in the interactions among organisms and their environments. Agroecology has roots that go back to the 1930s, but only recently has it come into its own as a science, practice and social movement. Steve Gliessman, a modern pioneer in the field, defines the term in a nutshell: “Agroecology applies the principles of ecology to the design and management of sustainable food systems.” What that means in practice is that farmers and researchers work together to develop farming practices that enhance soil fertility, recycle nutrients, optimize the use of energy and water, and, perhaps most importantly, increase the beneficial interactions of organisms with and within their ecosystems.

A key ingredient in agroecology is agricultural biodiversity — aka agrobiodiversity — says Miguel Altieri, another leader in the field. Farms include “planned biodiversity” (the crops and livestock farmers intentionally introduce) and “associated biodiversity” (the various flora and fauna that colonize the area as a result of farming practices and landscape), says Altieri. What’s important, he says, is identifying the type of biodiversity interactions that will carry out ecosystem services (pollination and pest control, for example, or climate regulation) and then determining which farming practices will encourage such interactions — in other words, working with biodiversity to provide the farming system with ecological resilience and reduce dependence on costly, often harmful, conventional inputs.

Knowledge of how to establish agroecological systems has grown increasingly sophisticated over time. Gliessman’s first edition of his textbook Agroecology reflected 1990s thinking, where transitions moved from increasing the efficiency of conventional production, to substituting industrial inputs with bio-based alternatives to, finally, redesigning the entire farm to mimic nature. People, however, were largely absent from the “agroecosystem.” But economic, social and cultural factors slowly crept into the conversation, and by 2006 the second edition featured on its cover images of a woman Costa Rican coffee grower proudly displaying a handful of beans, a farmers market and a cow. The salient idea was connecting consumers and producers through alternative distribution networks instead of conventional supply chains — linking growers to eaters, the urban to the rural.

By 2014, agroecology had become as much a political endeavor as an ambition for farming. The third edition, published that year, showcased the interplay of science, practice and social movements. It’s a framework, says Gliessman, that has evolved because we need food systems that “once again empower people, create economic opportunity and fairness, and contribute to restoring and protecting the planet’s life-support systems.”

Cross-pollinating Diverse Knowledge 

If you’re reading this in the U.S., you may be asking yourself, “If agroecology is so great, why don’t more people do it? Why have I never heard of it?”

Though not yet widely used in the U.S., agroecology is more recognized and established in countries such as Mexico and Brazil, stemming from their response to Green Revolution interventions when packages of standardized seeds, fertilizers and chemicals were introduced across much of the developing world. As much scholarship has since concluded, the Green Revolution contributed to temporary yield increases in some regions, yet its resulting monocultures also led to widespread loss of traditional seed varieties, environmental pollution, increased dependence on fossil fuels and human exposure to harmful chemicals. In addition, this technological revolution was not scale neutral: wealthy, large-scale farmers could more easily afford the irrigation systems, tractors, plows and large tracts of land required to make “magic seeds” work than could poorer, smaller-scale farmers. From the 1940s through the 1980s, many smallholders lost their farms under combined forces of debt, land concentration and deteriorating health, swelling the ranks of the rural and urban underemployed.

Latin America has led the agroecological revolution in recent years, with the governments of Brazil and Ecuador creating the first national policies in support of agroecology, a farmer-to-farmer agroecological tour de force underway in Cuba, and the emergence of SOCLA, a lively network of agroecology scientists (including this TEDx storyteller). Indeed, many nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America most affected by the turbulences of the Green Revolution are anticipating the rollout of a “New Green Revolution” today by recognizing agroecology as key to both rural and urban food security. Simultaneously, the largest international coalition of peasant farmers, La Via Campesina, representing some 300 million small-scale farmers, has formally recognized and adopted agroecology as its preferred paradigm for rural development. Urban farmers and eaters are increasingly a part of this global movement.

Unlike some other food movements, agroecology is not confined to an academic or social elite. To the contrary, agroecological knowledge began with indigenous and smallholder practices from which researchers learned to abstract unifying principles. Systems such as “three sisters” (corn, beans, squash) agriculture from Mexico and integrated rice-fish-duck culture from China have taught researchers volumes about complex interactions of life, water, energy, minerals and soil. Seed savers (usually women) and community seed networks have opened a world for researchers to survey the flow of genetic materials, the way in which crops change over time and space, and the co-evolution of people and agriculture.

In other words, agroecology creates a space for cross-pollinating knowledge from diverse participants: scientists, farmers, policy-makers — even the insects, wild plants, animals and microbes whose significance is still vastly underplayed.

But Can Agroecology Feed the World?

From Stockholm to India to Washington, D.C., to Milan, “feeding the world” is increasingly on the lips of policy-makers, NGOs, philanthropists and researchers in disciplines from agriculture to public health. But agroecologists suggest we might be asking the wrong question.

The Green Revolution taught us that yields can increase — sometimes by 200 to 300 percent — and yet malnutrition and hunger persist. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that roughly 2,800 kilocalories of food are produced per day for each person on the planet, yet at least 800 million people remain undernourished and at least 2 billion suffer micronutrient deficiencies. As Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen long ago recognized, poverty and inadequate distribution of healthy food — not lack of aggregate production — shape the contours of food insecurity. Meanwhile, racial, gender and ethnic discrimination are also deeply entwined with access to nutritious, sustainably produced food. Agroecology counters the “feed the world” framing by arguing that farmers can be empowered to feed themselves — and can reach all eaters more equitably through revitalizing rural economies and prioritizing local food security before engaging in global trade.

This doesn’t mean, however, that plenty of food won’t come from agroecological farms. Research out of Iowa shows that agroecological systems can exceed yields from U.S. industrial grain production and provide equal or higher profits to farmers. And UC Berkeley scientists reported that biodiversity-based agriculture can be highly productive and concluded that, when it comes to organic farms, the more agroecological they were, the more plentiful their harvests.

Other provocative evidence of yield and income benefits has recently emerged from NGO research in Africa. In Malawi, an estimated 200,000 farm families have begun embracing agroforestry, an agroecological technique that integrates trees in farms and landscapes to play multiple roles: fertilizing the soil, providing fruit for nutrition, giving fodder for livestock, and offering timber and fuel wood for shelter and energy. Curious to learn how agroforestry farmers were faring compared with their conventional-based counterparts, researchers studied several communities of maize growers.

Average profitability of maize, they discovered, was US$259 per acre (0.4 ha) for agroforestry farmers versus US$166 for conventional farmers — a significant difference in Malawi, where the average annual income is only about US$270. The revenue boost resulted from a combination of lower spending on inputs — less than one-third of what conventional farmers spent on chemicals — and increased maize yields: 2,507 pounds (1,137 kg) per acre versus only 1,825 pounds (828 kg) per acre for conventional farmers. Malawi’s government has become famous for its large-scale subsidy of chemical fertilizers (a massive 43 percent of the agricultural budget in 2013–14); these results suggest that state funding could be better invested in forested farming.

The same is true for the U.S., where a recent study revealed tremendous research and development gaps between agroecology and conventional agriculture. Over the past 100 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent less than 2 percent of its research budget on bio-diverse methods, creating not only a legacy of fewer scientists interested in pursuing such work (a knowledge gap), but also a measurable difference in the farm fields. Given the chronic underinvestment, it is little surprise when conventional agriculture still tends to outyield its competition.

Learning to Speak Agroecology

Today, agroecology is slowly gaining official traction. In 2011 Olivier De Schutter, then U.N. special rapporteur, wrote a watershed report plumping for agroecology, and he’s since been urging governments to recognize and affirm the farming practice. In 2014 the FAO held its first-ever international summit on agroecology in Rome. In his closing remarks, director-general José Graziano da Silva said, “Today a window was opened in what for 50 years has been the cathedral of the Green Revolution.” 

Meanwhile, there are myriad ways for individuals to become involved in the science, practice and movement, including reading about it in a popular magazine, subscribing to an open-access journal dedicated to the topic, purchasing Agroeco coffee, and even signing up for a two-week intensive summer course held each year in a different part of the world.

Like anything, agroecology is no panacea. But it can be part of the solution. It offers a scientific precision that our overstretched limbs of “sustainable agriculture” lack. And while it may at first seem complicated, principles such as beneficial connections and diversity aren’t really so difficult to grasp. We are only long out of practice, demoralized by messages that change is too hard. But the structures and processes that underpin modern agri-food systems are no less than those underlying the world economy, and our current brand of capitalism is socially, ecologically and morally untenable.

Subconsciously, we know this, even if it’s seldom spelled out in ink. What we need is a language and logic to guide the transition. So use agroecology. Say it aloud. Spread the idea that models grounded in solidarity, complexity and interdependence are not only valuable and possible, they are already underfoot. View Ensia homepage