April 21, 2009 § Leave a Comment
The sky, I’ve noticed, does not stop
to chart the flight of crows,
nor crows recall their flight
Neither does the night
record the course of stars.
Though earth leaps daily
through a flaming hoop of sky,
every day it is another earth,
another hoop entire.
And once the hummingbird
has sipped the honey, it darts straight
to the nearest flower.
It does not rest upon its nectar-
laurels, nor name itself
the poet-laureate of meadows.
And even death, I’ve noticed,
does not rest. Though every day
it scores fresh wins,
they are reversed by birth.
And life’s advances
are equally erasable,
as the flight of crows,
erratic and untraceable.
Which is why death never ends
the game—like a hawk chasing a crow
chased off by crows.
Courtesy – although as usual I haven’t asked their permission, because hey, I’m advertising for them – of Blood Orange Review
Pic. by Jen Britton.
April 20, 2009 § Leave a Comment
“What would you do if I mugged you?” Natalia asked mischievously.“You wouldn’t.” I answered. When Juan Carlos the inmate’s five-year old son overheard us he screamed, “Don’t do it mom! Don’t! Or you’ll end up in jail!”
“Jail does not exist.” she said after a brief silence.
“Where is jail?” I asked the boy who was inside his mother’s cell. “Outside, where the policemen are” he answered, pointing out to the window.
Talking with Natalia & Juan Carlos
Womens Prison, Tepepan, Mexico City, 2002
April 20, 2009 § 1 Comment
Whilst the mainstream commentariat have a collective orgasm over the fact that a comparatively unattractive woman has – hold the front pages – a comparatively attractive singing voice, (number one story on the Guardian website, having knocked a piece about a polar bear mauling off the top spot. What is it with Guardian readers these days?) the past few weeks have seen a slew of interesting stories that haven’t got the coverage they deserve. Here’s a few of them:
Britain’s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced a review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has allowed local authorities to mount 10,000 surveillance operations in the last five years. As Mathias Vermeulen blogs, regional councils have used top-level spying powers 10,288 times in the past 5 years to detect “crimes” as minor as littering and even the theft of fairy lights. Henry Porter notes that when RIPA was introduced in 2000, just nine agencies were allowed to mount surveillance operations, which included interceptions and secret photography. As he writes, during Tony Blair’s post 9/11 legislative binge, RIPA was “updated” so that nearly 800 bodies were empowered to go into the spying business.
The Obama administration has formally adopted the Bush administration’s position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA earlier this month (just became aware of this.) As the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports, in Jewel v. NSA, they are challenging the agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. “The Obama Justice Department claims that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged ‘state secrets.’ The same arguments made by the Bush administration…”
Germany has announced that it will become the sixth EU country to ban the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) maize MON810 – the only GE crop that can be commercially grown in the region. Via Greenpeace: The German Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, said “I have come to the conclusion that there are legitimate grounds to accept that genetically modified corn from the MON810 strain constitutes a danger to the environment.” The Minister based her decision on a safeguard clause in EU law which allows Member States to use the precautionary principle and prohibit gentically modified organisms (GMOs) in light of new evidence.
The United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, now holds 25% of the world’s prisoners, veteran journalist Bill Moyers notes at PBS. Pugnacious former marine – and now Democratic Senator – Jim Webb has introduced a blue-ribbon commission to look at every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system with “an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom.” As he notes, alongside the the above shocking figure, the number of incarcerated drug offenders has soared a phenomenal 1200% since 1980 and four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons as in mental health hospitals. Lets hope he can push through some reforms where others have failed. Sadly, the U.S. prison industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and corruption in the industry is both rife and sickening. Recent reports showed that as many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania were wrongly found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. Top-to-bottom reshaping is clearly more than urgent.
April 19, 2009 § 5 Comments
“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
George Orwell. 1984
In 1785, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed a design for a prison called the Panopticon. The prison had a central point from which prison warders were able to watch all the prisoners simultaneously, whilst themselves remaining unobserved.
There were two key advantages to this design, Bentham claimed. Firstly, as prisoners would not know whether they were being watched or not, warders would not have to be on duty all the time, thereby reducing costs. Secondly the prisoners, aware of the constant scrutiny, would behave better.
Why? It has become something of a well known trope that observation affects outcome; under observation (of this kind), we often tend to internalise the observer’s desire for discipline in their subject and begin self-policing. And as Bentham put it:
The greater chance there is, of a given person’s being at a given time actually under inspection, the more strong will be the persuasion – the more intense, if I may say so, the feeling, he has of his being so…
… who would expose themselves even to the slightest punishment, or even to the mortification of the disappointment, without so much as a tolerable chance of escaping instantaneous detection?
For Bentham, therefore, the prison was not only a mechanism for confinement or punishment but through its very design, a machine for the reformation of its inmates’ morals. While his intentions were humane and his concerns broad –from costs to hygiene; education to security – his concern was primarily with discipline and its attendant benefits:
…the inspector may have the satisfaction of knowing, that the discipline actually has the effect which it is designed to have: and it is more particularly material in such cases where the inspector… has more or less frequent occasion to give them such transient and incidental directions as will require to be given and enforced, at the commencement at least of every course of industry.
But what is moral reformation systematically imposed by the powerful on the powerless but a straightjacket? As French philosopher Michel Foucault put it in his 1975 word Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison
The major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers.
In such an environment the undisciplined outbursts of spontaneity that make for an unpredictable but creative environment are stifled and the human faculties that allow for them begin in some sense to ossify. But as Albert Einstein once said, “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.”
It takes the strength few of us have to labour in freedom whilst under constant surveillance; the art we create under such circumstances – and I mean art in its broadest sense – becomes grimly homogenous Soviet-realism at the service, finally, of those in the watchtower. *
Yet when Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 said in February of this year that the UK risks becoming a police state, it sounded like hyperbole to most.
A few months later — amid the scenes seen at the G20 in London – her use of verb and tense look more startling than her actual statement and she looks not so much prescient as the rest of us utterly parviscient.
And when it comes to such widespread surveillance, it is of course clear that it serves those in power, firstly through ensuring the internalisation of a power relationship that Foucault speaks of, but more prosaically, through being resoundingly a tool of the state.
For where abuse by authorities of their power occurs, CCTV footage invariable goes missing, is corrupted, or the cameras are found not to have been recording; and as the G20 has shown us, footage that does emerge of crime by authorities tends to be shot by members of the public…
Most of us have mixed feelings about the police and mixed experiences in dealing with them too. Going purely on personal history, I’ve always come away from my dealings with cops in the U.K. with none-too-bad a feeling.
Granted, I’m not actually much of a protestor; in the past when something has raised my hackles enough for me to actually want to join the banner-waving brigade, I tend to have been in overseas, as I am now. So the last time I came face-to-face with the fluoride-jacketed-and-jack-booted was when I was caught speeding down some wee country lanes without a valid tax disk on my car. “Shite”, I thought, panicking as the sirens wailed. “I’m so fucked.” The copper strolled over and said (verbatim):
“Excuse me sir, are you aware that you were speeding? We could barely keep up with you… You know these roads pretty well don’t you?” He strolled round my car: “Are you aware that your tax is out of date sir? We’re currently conducting a crackdown on drivers without tax and you risk having your car being impounded and crushed…”
I winced. He peered in what looked like idle curiosity through the window of my little Toyota: detritus, CDs and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass… I was suddenly off the hook, I could feel it in my bones. (I’m sure it’s the poetry that did it. All speeding tax delinquents should bung some transcendental poetry on their passenger seat: I mean, hardened criminals don’t read verse by a hirsute and long-dead American extolling the virtues of Mother Nature do they?)
This cop relaxed as if I’d sung out “Oh Captain My Captain” to him and turned back to his motor. ”Well, you better get this taxed pronto hadn’t you sir; and easy on the pedal eh?” And off he went on his law abiding way. Legend that the good officer was.
Anyway, cops: they aren’t all power-hungry sadists ready to backhand you across the face like a bitch. But the one’s that do answer to the above description are increasingly prevalent and this is symptomatic of something much more disturbing than the obvious character flaws in those who actually pursue or condone such activity.
I’d long had my reservations about the state of democracy in the country. An electoral system that at times appears to almost actively conspire against the electorate; massive centralization; a “spineless, supine” legislature; abuse of power by the executive; excessive amounts of poorly written legislation being churned out yearly to further bolster a growing authoritarianism: all these are accepted by most people with an interest in politics as among the major concerns of the day.
But the extent to which these problems (which I’d previously looked at with a certain academic detachment) were sweeping a town near me first struck viscerally in 2oo3. Home in Canterbury – a small, conservative and picturesque cathedral city – after a spell overseas, I was taking a walk down the high street among the tourist hordes when I came across a small anti-Iraq-war protest.
It’s the kind of city where you’d feel a touch embarrassed to register your dissent and the demo was, in short, about as far from a riot as you can get. Just a clutch of students mutedly shouting “Stop the War.” And holding “Bliar” placards. So far, so tame… But the police. The frigging police! Phalanxes of them ten-thick. Many of them with handheld digital video cameras, right up in the faces of those protesting, getting the best footage and taking verbal notes.
The atmosphere was intimidating and oppressive, but even more startling was the incongruity. What on earth were they doing conducting intensive surveillance of such a small bunch of people holding a peaceful protest?
It was suddenly very clear: if you dared raise so much as a voice against government policy you were going to be monitored, categorised, added to a database. It wouldn’t even remotely surreptitious: they’ll just stick a fuck-off big camera right in your face and take verbal notes whilst you stuttered on your cheesy chant.
This was my introduction to police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT). Any protest, any meeting, any Greenpeace gathering of vaguely activist types, FIT will be there, snapping and videoing and spying away. Nobody even knows what the fuck they do with all their footage, which agencies and departments it’s shared with etc. But they’ve started harrassing journalists too. As The Journalist (the magazine of the national union of journalists) reported in August of last year
Photojournalist Marc Vallée was unable to work for a month after police threw him to the curb at a demonstration he was covering. Milton Keynes staff photographer Andy Handley was detained for eight hours when he refused to stop taking pictures in a public area.
And police tactics seem to be becoming more menacing. Photographers have complained that the Metropolitan Police’s Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) — set up to target public disorder and anti-social behaviour by having high-visibility police officers use camera and video footage to gather intelligence — has started surveillance of press-card carrying journalists. They say that images of them are given a four-figure “photographic reference number” and held on a database.
All journalists covering a demonstration against restrictions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act in March were catalogued by the FIT team. Photographers say they were even recorded while waiting outside a London hospital when Prince Philip was admitted for treatment of a chest infection in April. NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear wrote to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in May, complaining of “intimidatory policing”. He cited examples of police officers who know journalists by name, follow them and film them all the time they are working.
Regular, low-level intimidation of photographers often goes unreported. David Hoffman, a freelance with more than 30 years experience, told the Journalist: “If you’re just walking down the street and taking a picture of police on the beat, when you’re well away from any problem and not causing an obstruction, they come over and interfere. “It happens constantly. In May I was taking pictures of the party on the London tube — the last day people could drink alcohol — from a good distance when two police officers started pushing me around and put a hand over my lens. There was no reason at all. I was simply recording the event and they stopped me because they thought they could. That’s a very typical incident. That will happen to me once a week if I’m out working.”
“If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law” Winston Churchill
The British government has introduced 3,023 new criminal offences since 1997, figures released in 2006 showed
Given this kind of behaviour, the police sometimes seem like a law unto themselves. It’s simply not true: they may be a powerful interest group in their own right; they may have stacked the Independent Police Complaints Commission with pliant proxies and they may manage to oversee the deaths of more than 600 people in custody annually without too much political interference, but at the end of the day, they can only arrest protestors on anti-terrorism charges, detain people without trial for obscene periods of time and rough-up journalists if they have been given a great deal of legislative sanction to do so.
This is where the broader issue of we, the people – and our failure to push for the renewal of a political system ill-disposed towards us – come in. It is some irony that unelected members of the House of Lords have been the most vocal defenders of civil liberties and a properly functioning legislature:
In July 2006, Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury, a City solicitor and philanthropist resigned from the House of Lords after having failed in his battle to prevent an ID cards bill passing. Parliament is producing a “ludicrous excess of legislative effluent” Phillips said, pointing out that 13,000 pages a year is far beyond what most parliaments pass.
Yet it’s not like ideas are thin on the ground: solid proposals for a better functioning, more transparent parliament have been knocking around for ages. The Better Government Initiative, a crusty group of elderly former civil servants came up with a few commendable suggestions in a paper called Governing Well that they put out in 2006. Here’s a few of their recommendations:
R1: The capacity of Parliament to scrutinise the proposals of the Executive and to hold it to account for its decisions should be strengthened. Parliament should provide for more rigorous initial analysis of policy proposals; and retrospective review, after a suitable period of time has elapsed, of the costs and outcomes of policy and legislation actually achieved against those in the initial proposals.
R2: Before policy decisions are taken by the Government, proposals should be thoroughly tested by objective analysis, by drawing on the experience of politicians in Parliament and in Government and of officials (including people familiar with delivery), and by wider consultation.
R3: The Government should establish a better balance between the strategic role of the Centre of Government in determining the overall policy framework and the operational role of departments in framing policies and delivering services in their specialist areas or responsibility.
R4: Service deliverers – such as executive agencies, non departmental public bodies the NHS and local authorities – should be set clear objectives against which their performance will be monitored, but they should not be micro-managed by Departments or by the Centre of Government. Stability of structures and instructions from the Government is clearly desirable.
R5: Pressures from the media should be handled consistently in a way that avoids responses, let alone policy commitments, before the Government is ready. This intention should be explained to the public and to the media themselves.
R17: The volume of legislation should be reduced, and the quality of scrutiny (especially in the Commons) thereby increased, through stronger pre-introduction tests.
R18: the numbers and range of skills of staff supporting Select Committees should be increased so as to improve the speed, depth and range of their investigations
Whilst such language meet appear a touch arcane or dry as dust to some, it points to some massive failings in how our legislature is run and offers some substantial pointers in terms of how to rectify them.
Politicians like to complain about political apathy and cynicism amongst the electorate. Given the pathetic turnout rates in recent general elections, they have a point of course. But as Bertrand Russell once said (and I paraphrase because I can’t dig up the exact quote), “apathy is a combination of powerlessness and comfort: the powerlessness causes unrest and the comfort vitiates the desire to do anything about it; the result is apathy.”
We might appear powerless but we are also increasingly losing our comforts: will this be enough to shake off the above? It’s clear that whichever ideological viewpoint you look from, Britain is in urgent need of a massive political enema.
Some standing politicians have made promising suggestions, such as Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s call for a freedom bill to roll back excessive legislation. But as councils spy massively on citizen’s emails, police beat the crap out of people at peaceful protests and an unelected prime minister has his way with an almost bankrupt country, GK Chesterton’s words echo like a call to arms. A shame that so many seem to have concurred that beer is, indeed, best.
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
*It’s interesting to note that this disciplining is in a sense the direct opposite of the resolution proposed by Friedrich Schiller for the conflict between two competing drives; that associated with law and reason and that “sensuous drive” associated with the personal appetite of individuals.
Where in the Panopticon the infringement of the latter on the former is what has landed inmates in the machine to start with and hence one of the key drives of the soul — for want of a better word – that must be disciplined and sterilised, Schiller in contrast argues for a resolution of the two drives through play. Creative play brings abstract form to sensual life, he wrote in his Letters on The Aesthetic Education of Man, and the result is beauty, harmony as “living form”.
April 18, 2009 § Leave a Comment
When I started this blog the first thing I posted about was out-of-control police at a climate change demo. It was something of a niche issue.
Within just a few months, the police have done the following: conducted a mass pre-emptive arrest of 114 environmentalists; effectively murdered someone caught up in a protest; arrested a senior member of parliament, (an absolute first) raided his parliamentary office and his home and taking personal effects; been caught backhanding a woman in the face and then smashing her in the legs with a truncheon for no apparent reason other than they didn’t like her tone of voice; having to bring forward an “anti-terrorism” operation because a press photographer caught a shot of a confidential file tucked under a copper’s arm; found there was next to no evidence against the Pakistani students they arrested but plan to deport them anyway… and no doubt more we haven’t heard about.
Amidst all this, Britain’s unelected prime minister and useless home secretary have made not a single statement about the state of policing in the country, called on no police officers to quit or face disciplinary action; made no apology to the deceased’s family nor urged no major overhaul of policing or how protests are managed.
But the sheer weight and pace of the above events has marked something of a watershed in which the broader mainstream media appears to be beginning to release the extent to which an unchecked executive and rampant police force have combined to make a deeply unhealthy democracy.
Senior academics, civil servants and members of the House of Lords along with a few (very few) MPs have been raising concerns about the extent of both authoritarianism and surveillance in Britain for a number of years, but have been little heeded. Even when the former head of MI5 (of all people) made the astonishing statement that the country risked becoming a police state, it was broadly shrugged off.
Yet with the front page of every broadsheet now devoted to the issue and editorials lambasting the state of policing , have we reached a tipping point? It remains to be seen, but what is beyond doubt is that this is not an isolated problem but symptomatic of a broader and deeper problem in the entire body politic.
April 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Cops in the UK nicked 114 environmentalists staying at a Steiner School (of all places) this morning. They were apparently planning a direct action on a coal-fired power station. The arrests were for conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
If they had the intelligence — and it looks like they had infiltrated the group — surely they could have arrested them when they actually did something illegal. Holy fucking Christ, democracy just turned a sickly green on that island.
April 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Spanish prosecutors are set to push ahead with their criminal investigation into several high-ranking Bush administration officials for being complicit in the torture of five Spanish nationals at Guantánamo bay. The soon-to-be-defendants include former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington as well as former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith.
A key interesting detail is that Spanish prosecutors apparently advised the Americans that they would suspend their investigation if at any point the United States were to undertake an investigation of its own into the matter. Queries on whether any such investigation was pending were apparently met with a long silence from the U.S. side. Anyway, fairly shortly, if the above fuckers set foot on Spanish soil they’ll be arrested and face trial.
Sí, se puede.
April 9, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Being dirt-tired and bloodshot-eyed courtesy of Kim Jong-il (nice rocketilellite or whatever that was) and two kids who view sleep as an enemy to be exterminated at all costs, I’ve been a passive reader the past few days, despite having plenty to write about in the pan.
There’s some interesting stories out there at the moment though. I think journalists at major publications like the two I link to below are feeling the challenge of sharp writing on popular blogs and booming sites such as the Huffington Post and generally making more of an effort with their work.
This is a fascinating read on the CIA’s creation of an “Intellipedia” or “Wikipedia for spies.” (Whoever hacks that is going to be in for an absolute treat. It must be doable… Someone please hack that site and put it all up in Wikileaks!)
April 8, 2009 § Leave a Comment
It was clear to anyone with half a brain from the moment that the news was released that the man who died at the G20 protests was basically killed by the police.
When such things happen there is an immediate police disinformation campaign: anonymous sources tell newspapers that they saw something that puts the onus on the deceased or on the protestors: in this case that police medics had been attacked by the crowd. Blatant bullshittery.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is nothing of the sort (I’m going to blog about that later) was fucking useless, with their commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, saying: “Initially, we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed…”
Were the IPPC meanwhile scouring CCTV for neutral verification of this claim? Were they fuck. They were going to bury it until a New York fund manager — of all people — realised that the man’s family weren’t getting answers and came forward with a video available here on the front page of The Guardian that shows him being struck with a baton and pushed violently to the ground from behind, despite having his hands in his pockets.
A witness who is an accredited and experienced photographer says that he’d already been attacked by police before the videoed incident. “A riot police officer had already grabbed him and was pushing him,” she said. “It wasn’t just pushing him – he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable. It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor. So it wasn’t just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault. And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him. He was running and stumbling. He didn’t turn and confront the officer or anything like that.”
So all of us who predicted death at this protest because the police were so clearly spoiling for a violent fight were bang on the money. As I blogged about here, when the British police can threaten women and children on a peaceful protest with dogs and horses (from a fucking helicopter) then there is something seriously wrong with oversight and accountability of the police forces. who’s going to take them to task?
They are a massive political force and no MP wants to tangle with them. This may change that. More on this later.
April 6, 2009 § 2 Comments
April 26 is International Seeds Day. Intended as an educational day to increase awareness about the patenting of life forms, bio-piracy and the threat of agricultural monocultures, it is held on April 26th as a nod to Iraq, where Order 81 was signed on April 26 in 2004 by Paul Bremer, the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The order sets out — under the guise of helping get Iraq back on its feet — to totally re-engineer the country’s traditional farming systems into a US-style corporate agribusiness. Article 14 of this law states “Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties.” The most significant part of Order 81 is the subject of ‘Plant Variety Protection’ (PVP), which ensures not the protection of biodiversity, but the protection of the commercial interests of USA and European major seed corporations. Colonialism extends to the biosphere.
Concerned at the growing lack of biodiversity and increasing extinction rate of a variety of plants, scientists in Norway 2006 set out to construct a seed vault dedicated to storing and protecting a massive range of seeds. Seeds are pretty hardy things it’s good to know. In 2005, scientists in Israel germinated a date palm from seeds 2000 years old found under the remains of what is believed to have been King Herod’s pleasure palace… Now Norway ain’t much of a pleasure palace and is an unlikely destination for the next garden of Eden, but it’s good to know they’re there nonetheless.
For those dropping by with an interest in biodiversity and genetic resources, the website Grain is an indispensable resource.