Boycott biofuels and ban speculation…. that is if you believe in humanity

The world is currently facing one of the worst food crisis in recorded human history…. it is at a boiling point but it can spill over at anytime.

Retail staple food prices have seen record inflation of up to 300% in the last three years across the world resulting in more and more people struggling to eat even once a day.

No.. it is not a doomsday scenario.. this is happening now and what we are seeing is an utter disregard from humanity .. almost 20% of crops in the US in now being harvested for bio-fuels which means 20% less crops for human consumption..

“Rice — a staple for billions of Asians — has soared to its highest price in 20 years, while supplies are at their lowest level since the early 1980s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, the global supply of wheat is lower than it’s been in about 50 years — just five weeks’ worth of world consumption is on hand, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. ”  (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html)

It is funny that people have been supporting bio-fuels which, currently, can only be produced by substituting food supply so the food that needs to go into people’s stomach is going into vehicles.. Okay… the situation is not dire but we are not far off. It is time to say No to bio-fuels, at least for now.

On the other hand, Oil speculators who have pushed the prices of oil from a stable $60 to $70 barrels to atrocious $105+ a barrel are minting money. There is literally no shortage of oil but these speculators made sure that they pushed the prices by going long on the market and continue to push these to maintain their profits. 

It’s not the oil speculators alone – “As always in a crisis, there are winners. The creeping fear that the world might actually run short of food — no longer simply the stuff of sci-fi movies — has led speculators to pour billions into commodities, further accelerating price rises. In a single day in February, global wheat prices jumped 25% after Kazakhstan’s government announced plans to restrict exports of its giant wheat crop for fear that its own citizens might go hungry” (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html)

As oil drives all transportation costs, everything is getting expensive including drilling and exploration costs for oil companies which in turn means no body in the oil industry wants to lose. But at the bottom of it, it is the speculators who are the culprit.

And with increasing transportation costs, the costs of bringing crops to the markets is skyrocketing.. prices of fertilisers is skyrocketing… which means increased costs of grain.

If oil speculation is banned for a few years, oil prices are going to drop to $50 – $60 dollars… I have no doubt but who is going to do it..  It is such a shame.

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned on Friday that the food import bill for the world’s poorest countries will increase 56 per cent this year and civil unrest will increase if the international community doesn’t act vigorously to help. The World Bank recently estimated the food crisis will erase seven years of progress in reducing poverty in developing countries. Already, high food prices – the prices of wheat and rice are double what they were last year – have sparked riots in diverse hot spots around the world, including several African countries, Indonesia and Haiti.  Unlike famine in places like the Ethiopia, this situation is dispersed across the globe, from Asia to Africa to Latin America. FAO estimates 37 countries face food crises this year, requiring outside assistance for various reasons. The high price of oil is contributing to increased food prices and boosting inflation elsewhere in many economies.”(http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/yourbusiness/story.html?id=21cdf43a-5cf7-4054-b65a-a2e995b21605)

Unless action is taken, many people will die of hunger and food riots….  Take action, show your responsibility and boycott bio fuels as a start.

“In India last year, more than 25,000 farmers took their own lives, driven to despair by grain shortages and farming debts. “The spectre of food grain imports stares India in the face as agricultural growth plunges to an all-time low,” warns India Today magazine.” (http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2104849.0.2008_the_year_of_global_food_crisis.php)

People.. wake up now! Criminal speculation of commodities must be banned.. and stop using and advancing biofuels……. Give humanity a break!

Care-taker Prime Minister takes care of himself and family for Life …

So, we have elections now done and dusted in Pakistan… and as international observers generally say pretty fair as well.

.. Well done!

So what did our care-taker Prime Minister Mr Soomro (Mohammadmian Soomro) do to treat himself  —

Okay let’s first dig the background who he is and how he came about to be the care-taker PM. Well.. he was chairman of the Senate (upper house in Pakistan) and Mr President (yes.. the ex-military man and our only hope!) appointed him as the caretaker PM to supervise the elections.

As per the general etiquette, any caretaker government does not pass any legislation, starts new important projects, interfere in the budgeting process etc because it is left to the incoming government and rightly so.

This caretaker government has done everything… including transfers and appointments of key administrative posts. (actually it is happening at such a lightening speed across the country.,.. people may be pardoned to believe that these are the acts of the new elected government… do you smell something fishy?)

So coming back to the topic; Our innocent PM authorised the following law:

(i) Exemption from taking out licenses for possessing up to three prohibited bore and six non-prohibited bore weapons.

(ii) Access to state/government guest houses, rest houses and circuit houses in the country free of charge for self, spouse and dependent children (accompanied and unaccompanied).

(iii) Pick-up and drop facilities at all Airports in the country for self, spouse and dependent children (accompanied and unaccompanied) with protocol coverage by the provincial govts/Northern Areas/AJK in their respective areas and by the Cabinet Division/Senate Secretariat at Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Protocol coverage/Staff Car to be provided also during travel by road outside Headquarters, if required.

(iv) Detailment of a staff car by the respective governments for self, spouse and dependent children during their visit outside Headquarters throughout Pakistan
(accompanied and unaccompanied) and by Cabinet Division/Senate Secretariat if chairman and his family visit the federal capital, if they reside outside Islamabad.

(v) Services of Private Secretary, security guard, driver and a cook for life time.

(vi) Free medical aid for life time in Pakistan and abroad subject to approval by the Medical Board for self, spouse and dependent children.

(vii) Diplomatic passport to self, spouse and dependent children.

(viii) Special security arrangements for chairman and his family either on his request or by the federal government on its own accord taking into account the circumstances past and present.

(ix) Free installation of telephone at residence and payment of charges for its use up to Rs 5,000 per month or such higher amount as the federal government may determine from time to time.

(x) Issuance of ASF passes for self, spouse and dependent children with endorsement of Apron at all Airports in the country and two Apron passes for staff.

So guess who is it for………….. innocently it is for all current and ex-Chairman of the Senate, their spouses and dependent children and yes it is for their life … yes for life..

Excellent…work… keep it up! You are an example for the Prime Ministers to come…. hell with the country being poor… hell with the people wanting justice and basic provisions like clean water, health, education… hell with the electricity crisis which speaks loudly of the total incompetence of the past government… hell with the country…

All hail Mr Soomro – our ideal …

Endnote: Well to be fair to Mr. Soomro, he just following example of the former PM, Shaukat Aziz who left the country and now resides in a posh London area ..  Anyone can make some money after playing with the stock market, trying to privatise the Steel Mills for partly sums, hoarding sugar and wheat etc… Yes Mr Aziz was involved in all of this!

UPDATE: It is reported in the media that the PM has withdrawn this package for himself….. shouldn ‘t he resign now 😉 .. anyway his days are numbered.. 🙂 the new PM is going to be elected in the coming week with the inauguration of the new Parliament.

Human Organ Traffickers win another battle

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: The commercial dealings in organs got yet another lease of life when the government decided not to promulgate the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance 2007, already approved by the cabinet, and instead introduce a bill in the National Assembly on the last day of the current session of the lower house of parliament, ostensibly under pressure from the lobby patronising organs trade in the country.

There is little possibility that the present National Assembly, nearing the end of its life, would be able to take up the bill.

Sources claim the last-minute change in strategy, which appears to be no more than an attempt to further delay the promulgation of the law, was done on the instructions of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who had earlier in January turned down a health ministry’s proposal not to refer it to the cabinet and instead advise President Musharraf to promulgate the ordinance — a move that delayed the process by at least eight months.

Government’s haste was evident from the absence of federal health minister, minister of state for health and parliamentary secretary for health from the house at the time of introduction of the bill.

The Supreme Court had earlier given one month to the government to legislate on transplantation of organs. The deadline expires in the first week of September and the court would resume hearing of the case on September 3.

Federal Secretary Health Khushnood Lashari gave a very simplistic explanation of introducing the bill on the last day of the session saying: “We (the government) were not aware that the National Assembly was going to be prorogued.

President of Transplant Society Dr Adib-ul-Hassan Rizvi said he was utterly disappointed by the government move.

The bill has now been placed before the parliament for the fifth time during the past decade and a half, but on each occasion it failed to get through because of intense opposition from the lobby opposing the law.

During all this delay the kidney trade thrived and the business in the country is today valued at almost Rs one billion a year.

Prior to this latest move by the government, certain controversial clauses, like payment of compensation to unrelated donors, were inserted in the draft of the ordinance that was placed before the cabinet at its August 1 meeting. However, the government under pressure from civil society and doctors’ associations removed the controversial clauses and the ordinance looked imminent.

Annually 2000 kidney transplantations are carried out in the country. Of these 500 are performed in government hospitals from living related donors. The rest 1,500 are from unrelated kidney sellers and these transplants are performed in private hospitals. About 900-1,000 of these are for foreigners who come from more than 20 countries of the Middle East, North America, Europe and South Asia and paying hefty amounts. The rest are locals.

Those who are non-affording and have no family donors rely on donations from family, friends and social welfare organisations to pay for huge costs of transplantation at private hospitals. Once transplanted they find payment for follow-up medicines particularly immunosuppressive drugs difficult which can cost between 10,000 to15,000 rupees per month. Ultimately they stop medication and lose their transplanted kidneys. So the unrelated commercial transplant seldom helps them in the long term as the poor recipients hardly bear subsequent costs.

Commercial dealings of kidneys are centred in Lahore and Rawalpindi and majority of the kidney sellers are from rural Punjab, almost 70 per cent of them are bonded labourers. These desperate people sell their kidneys for Rs70,000 to 120,000 mainly to pay off their debts. Recent surveys have shown that 95 per cent of the sellers do not achieve their objectives and remain desperately poor and in debt. Selling their kidneys brings no financial benefit and many complain of their payment being siphoned by middleman and hospital for travel and operation expenses. Moreover, most have feeling of guilt and they are depressed and often unable to keep their livelihood.

Courtesy: http://www.dawn.com/2007/08/18/top1.htm

Shame on the government!!!

So what happens when legislature fails in its duties….

Here… it goes…..

Doctor, ASI arrested in kidney sale scam

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: Police have arrested a doctor, an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police and their two accomplices, on the charge of selling the kidney of a jobless person for Rs1 million and pocketing the money.

Police sources said on Friday that the hunt was also on for a police constable and his collaborator involved in the scam.

Those already arrested, namely Dr Zulfiqar, his personal assistant Saleemullah, ASI Shakeel Ahmed and agent Shaukat, have been remanded into custody for five days by a magistrate.

Ironically the scam surfaced on a day the government introduced a bill on regulating the business of transplantation of human organs in the National Assembly at its last sitting of the current session.

This action was seen as a delaying tactic as the federal cabinet had approved recently an ordinance on the same subject on the directive from the Supreme Court.

According to police Usman Rana, 24, arrived in Islamabad from Lahore in February in search of a job. One Tariq lured him into selling one of his kidneys for Rs1 million.

Usman was operated upon in a private hospital in Rawalpindi run by a retired army general and his kidney was sold to a patient from the UK, the police said.

Sub-inspector Mohammad Ahmed, who is investigating the case, told Dawn that Usman started knocking at the doors of senior police officials after receiving just Rs100,000 for his kidney and developed pain in his second kidney.

The investigating officer said ASI Shakeel Ahmed, who had friendly relations with kidney agent Shaukat, met Usman and assured him to get him more money. He allegedly contacted Dr Zulfiqar and coerced him into paying Rs15,000 more to Usman.

However a police source said the ASI pocketed the extra money.

A case was eventually registered against the people named in the scam. While four of them have been arrested search is on for police constable Munir and his accomplice Tariq.

Courtesy: http://www.dawn.com/2007/08/18/nat9.htm