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Mike from Mother Jones writes, "Josh Harkinson profiles David Bronner, the 40-year-old, hallucinogen-dropping, Burning Man-attending scion of the Dr. Bronner's soap empire, who channels roughly half of the company's substantial profits into activism, including the Washington State GMO-labeling bill that voters will decide upon tomorrow. Bronner, who favors the labeling of foods with GMO ingredients, has been arrested for planting hemp seeds on the DEA's lawn and for a performance-art protest where he milled hemp seeds in a cage outside the White House. He also sued the DEA (and won), so that his company could legally obtain hemp oil as a soap ingredient. Since David took over, Dr. Bronner's sales have soared. It's on track to bring in $64 million in revenues this year. But in a strike against corporate greed, Bronner has capped the company's top salaries at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker."

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Treading carefully across the loose stones of the expansive Karoo region of South Africa, photographer Daniel Naudé approached his elusive subject with the cunning of a predator. Through wind, rain and waning light, he tracked the skittish, feral Africanis, a wild breed of dog, that runs freely across the terrain.

“Captivity and freedom were the forces that emerged after my first encounter with the Africanis dog,” said Naudé, 28, discussing some of the themes stitched into his work in Animal Farm, his newest book of photography. “This [encounter] led to many road trips, running after dogs in the veld while discovering how best to portray them.”

The book, which features images of the South Africa’s animals and their human kin, engages the viewer in a meditation on the connectedness of humankind and the animal world. Because of this connection, Naudé decided to name his project after George Orwell’s classic treatise. Like Orwell, Naudé’s prodding questions about the relationships between human and beast suggest an unsettling answer: that you never quite know which one you are.

Animal Farm started with a weekend road trip from South Africa to Mozambique in late 2006. Naudé and a friend found themselves rolling through the Northern Cape when a lanky, Africanis dog slunk across the road. The dog’s eyes met Naudé’s, and in that moment, set in motion a fascination with these illusive and inspiring animals, he said.

“I was always interested in how people lived with domesticated and livestock animals, and the way that the histories of people and animals overlapped in the landscape,” said Naudé, who spent the next five years traveling across the country, sleeping in police stations, the homes of welcoming strangers and even his car, while tracking his wild subjects.

Over time, Mr. Naude’s own life started to mimic that of the Africanis.

“Time is not your own when you are working with nature,” said Naudé, remembering the long days in search and the long nights in wait. But the freedom of travel and experience of the hunt also exposed him to region’s rich history and the people who would become part of his final project.

This expeditionary spirit is what imbued Naudé with a hunger for discovery reminiscent of past explorers. Most noticeably, he said he was motivated by British artist-explorer Samuel Daniell who set out from Cape Town in 1801 to catalogue the landscape, people and animals. In this same fashion, Animal Farm quickly became more than mere images of the Africanis because it engaged with the sociological and visual landscape of South Africa.

“Photographing the animals in these landscapes reinforced these ideas of human control, our need to rule, and our fear of the untamed,” he said. The images captured a rawness and sense of contest between man and animal, a feeling strengthened by Naude’s decision to position each dog above the horizon in his frames — a device intended to communicate power and force to the viewer.

In a country scarred by the experience of apartheid, Animal Farm suggests a desire for reconciliation. The Africanis, an animal viewed derisively for its exotic and mixed heritage, serves as symbol, emblematic of the disdain shown to the previous generations considered inferior in South Africa. Importantly, Naudé said his work resists asserting the superiority of either human or beast, but instead argues that “human and animal are equally corrupt.”

“I wanted to portray my subject as a reflection on the complexities and diversities in our country,” he said, when asked what he hoped people could take away from these photographs. “I point my lens to these animals so that we can question, challenge and finally learn to relate.”

Daniel Naudé’s ‘Animal Farm’ was published in late 2012 by Prestel.

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According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)
One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

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““It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.””

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Buddha

(via usgroovykids)

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