September 30 - Agricultural Reform Day in São Tomé and Principe

Posted on September 30, 2017

The fact that European countries colonized so much of the world has had so-so-so-so-SO many consequences - mostly problems that continue, in many cases, today.

And, of course, slavery is a Big Evil that often accompanied colonization - and that often made successful colonization possible! - and slavery, needless to say, has had terrible consequences that still echo today.

The two tiny African islands of São Tomé and Principe banded together into one nation, which became independent of Portugal in 1975. At that time, almost all of the agricultural land was tied up in Portuguese-owned plantations (many of them growing cocoa). Back in the bad-old-days, the plantations grew sugar and depended on slave labor. But even with slavery long gone, in 1975, it still seemed pretty unfair that only a few owned so much.

Agricultural reform in the new nation consisted of the government taking control of the plantations. Since the 70s, some of the state-owned land has gone back to being privately owned, but things are more fair, democratic, and stable now than in the teeny nation's past, and more than many African nations.

Here is an export treemap, created to show São Tomé and Principe's reality a few years ago (in 2012). You can see that cocoa production still dominates the nation:



Looking at photos of the equatorial islands, I'm not at all sure why TOURISM doesn't dominate the nation's economy?












Also on this date:








Anniversary of the first tooth extraction with anesthesia



Chewing-gum mogul William Wrigley's birthday





(Last Saturday in September)












Fall Astronomy Day
(Every Fall, on the Saturday closest to the first quarter Moon between September and October)


 

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September 29 – Michaelmas Day on the Isle of Skye

Posted on September 29, 2017

"The Michaelmas daisies,
Among the dead weeds,
Bloom for St. Michael's
Valorous deeds."



At this time of the year, on the Isle of Skye, north of mainland Scotland, most flowers are gone or at least dead. After all, autumn has arrived with chilly temperatures and shorter and shorter days. But one brave plant is in flower during the Feast of St. Michael (aka Michaelmas) - a daisy that is named for this feast day!

A procession!
Sports and games!
Horse races!
Feasting on goose, Michaelmas blackberry pie, and a special Michaelmas bannock (bread or cake)!

Take a look at the gorgeous landscapes of this craggy island:













 

Also on this date:




























(last Friday in September)













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September 28 – International Right to Know Day

Posted on September 28, 2017

Is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency really testing America's drinking water supplies? How often?

Did a British Member of Parliament REALLY try to claim taxpayer money for his floating duck house?

How are the lottery earnings actually used?


If citizens of many modern democracies have a question like these examples - and journalists, especially, often do! - they can file of Freedom of Information requests of almost every governmental organization or department. Of course there is some information that is classified for national security - but most information is not. And guaranteeing citizens access to that info helps keep governments open, honest, and accountable to the voters.

Supposedly, at least!

The International Right to Know Day started on this date in 2002, when organizations that worked on freedom of information came from all over the world to Bulgaria in order to create the Freedom Of Information Advocates Network (also known as FOI Advocates Network). 

FOI laws had been passed in many countries:

Sweden - 1766
United States - 1966
United Kingdom - 2000

But the FOI Advocates Network probably helped to spread the idea, because by 2006, nearly 70 countries had FOI laws of some sorts, and 19 countries had FOI laws that also applied to private organizations. By now, more than 100 nations have some version of a Freedom of Information law.




Also on this date:






































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September 27 – Banned Websites Awareness Day

Posted on September 27, 2017



On the internet, there are many websites I wouldn't want my child to be spending time with. 

But, on the other hand, there are many, many, many more that are fine for kids.

In an effort to shield kids from horrific stuff, how many of the good and useful websites should be accidentally blocked out?

Apparently, this is a question that the American Library Association, teachers, and school librarians have to deal with. In order to comply with the Child's Internet Protection Act, schools and maybe other institutions install filtering software that act like parental controls at homes do.

BUT...

Many teachers complain that legitimate educational websites and social media are blocked by the filters on school computers, and so they cannot explore those areas with the students. The teachers complain that they cannot really teach kids how to be aware and critical internet users and information-finders, with those restrictive filters. They cannot guide them into a social-media-saturated world, if social media is filtered out. They cannot do the very things that they most need to do...

This week is Banned Books Week, and one day of that week is Banned Websites Awareness Day.

We are urged to check out and see if our own local schools have overly restrictive internet filters. Ask your teachers and school librarians, and check out the school's computer system with a web search or two of your own. If you discover that there is a problem, write letters to the school board and to the local newspaper.