Let them smell cake
Two copies of the Guardian Weekly
arrived chez Jakartass today. As always when snail mail delays my reading pleasure, I read the earlier edition, dated August 20 - 26, first and a couple of snippets caught my eye.
1. Barbecues to break hunger strike
Israel's prison service plans to break a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners by barbecuing meat and baking bread near their cells. The prison service said that 1,600 prisoners were on strike over jail conditions.
Jakartass hopes that Amnesty International
have been alerted because torture is illegal. However, as kosher
meat is also halal
I don't suppose religious sensibilities will be offended.
2. 1.7m face hunger in Indonesia
Around 1.7 million Indonesians have been living on one meal a day for the past three weeks because the government, which admits it cannot feed them, has blocked a UN world food programme project, aid agencies said
This is serious stuff, and I didn't recall reading about it in the Jakarta Post
, so I decided to investigate further and did a Google search having typed "1.7 million go hungry in Indonesia
The first article I found appears to be a spoof. Rantburg
? It's an 'edited' version of an article
written by Mathew Moore and originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald on August 18th. The gist is that some 40,000 tonnes of rice donated by western countries for the UN World Food Programme aid for poor families has been blocked by a government ban on imported rice, a policy designed to benefit local farmers.
What's The Buzz
reprints the fuller version of the Guardian story: The crisis began in January when rice imports were banned, crippling the WFP's scheme which distributed internationally donated rice to the 300,000 families who live on about 20p a day.
For six months the government allowed the WFP to borrow rice from the state logistics agency, but that ended last month when the WFP said it could no longer guarantee the quality of the rice.
The trade ministry said the ban was needed to support poor farmers as Indonesia produces a 2m-tonne annual surplus. But the WFP said the amount of rice it wanted to import was 0.1% of the national annual harvest, which would have no impact on the internal market
I then looked for word on this from the World Food Programme and found nothing much about Indonesia
but their site does have a very nice Java script interactive map.
And then I found a follow-up story
which says that the ban has been lifted but now Indonesian rice farmers are angry.
This all seems to be a storm in a rice bowl to me and this could be why this story wasn't recollected by the editorial staff of the Jakarta Post when I rang them. There are a lot more than 1.7 million people who are under-nourished and schooling is low on the list of priorities when mouths have to be fed somehow, so it is good to hear of a USAID
programme announced yesterday
where praise is due.