Posts Tagged ‘corporate criminals’

Ms. Garrold Goes to Washington Parts Four and Five

So it has been two busy, busy weeks down here in the swamp. I am going to change formats a bit and just hit the highlights. Believe me that will be enough.

Memorial Day weekend was a madhouse here at the Pink Village. At one point we had eleven people sharing one bathroom. I know, I know “such a first-world problem.” And you’re right.   
We had many Veteran’s for Peace  staying with us for three days of activities around the Memorial Day holiday. I arrived back in DC on Sunday evening to find a dozen or so VFP members singing peace hymns in the living room of the Pink House. The next day we went to the Vietnam War Memorial to place letters from all over the country written for visitors to The Wall to read. I was randomly given one from my friend Phil Worden a, now retired, great civil rights lawyer in Maine. Such a nice coincidence.   
On Tuesday the VFP group had a rally and I went back to the NFFC office. It was a quiet day except for one incident. On my way back from the bank mid-afternoon I walked through the entire staff and all the Senators who had been evacuated from the Hart and Dirksen Senate office buildings. Buildings which are, as I have previously mentioned, right across the street from my office building. Hundreds and hundreds of people standing in Stanton Park. I asked, and was told, that it was just a “drill.” I had to walk around the block to get back to my office as the roads and sidewalks around those two buildings were a no-go zone. So that was the excitement for Tuesday.


I am still keeping an eye on things going on in Maine. FairVote and the League are finally stepping up to protect Ranked Choice Voting. It’s about time. There was a “town hall meeting” call on Tuesday evening with some reassurance that these two groups have figured out that the only way to save RCV is by rallying the troops. It is probably too little too late but I am hoping for the best.
On Wednesday the elderly homeless lady was back in the park but the ducks have moved on. And the new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale dropped. 
Skipping to Thursday of that week I attended a Code Pink demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy calling for the secession of extra judicial killings of peasant farmers and leaders of MST, the landless farmers movement in Brazil, by that country’s illegal government (hint: they took power in a soft coupe). Go to the Code Pink link for a picture of me at the demo.
But the best part of the day was my adventure being part of the live studio audience for Redacted Tonite. Go here to watch the episode. It was a good one. Be warned, however, if you are thinking about going to a taping it is a tiny studio and you have to sit on the floor. But totally worth it!
On Saturday of that week we had another cannibas edibles event at the Pink House. Not as well organized or attended at the Mamajuana event. But interesting none the less.
On Sunday I did laundry and grocery shopping.
On Monday the new intern for NFFC arrived at the office. And I totally forgot she was coming. My VERY bad. But she is a hard-working, low-key type and was not rattled by it at all.
Then I deserted her for two days to go to NYC for a Friends of the Earth-organized meeting with TIAA about their farmland grabs in the US and Brazil (yep, Brazil again). Here is something from NFFC about the farmgrabs in the US. 
It was two intense days of strategy and meetings. We are banned from saying anything about what went on in the meeting with TIAA staff but here is your challenge for the day: find the interactive map of their farmland holdings on their website….Go! Okay how long did you spend? My friend Tristan from ActionAid and I both spent 45 minutes trying to find it on their website after we were told it was there. We both failed. So much for transparency. In case you are interested here it is. ‘Cause you will never find it on your own!


Two other important things that happened during this trip. #1 was that my lovely daughter-in-law dropped her first podcast. Go and watch it. She is lovely, smart, charming and the podcast is a hoot! And #2 was that I got to visit ParkSlope Co-op. Notequally important   events by any means but both really good things.  


Thursday was Comey Day on Capitol Hill as you are all well aware. I was on The Hill doing serious grown-up business, attending a House Agriculture Sub-committee hearing on SNAP benefits.  But the media circus was in full swing. As one of the folks I was standing in line with said, it is a most interesting time to be in DC. I got back to the office in time to catch the end of the hearing on TV, our suite mates were watching it and we all gathered around. Reminiscent of watching the Watergate hearings. Probably won’t end as well as that episode in our sordid history did. 
Friday ended with a demonstration outside the Whitehouse marking the 50th anniversary of the total Israeli take over in Palestine known as the Six Day War. Can you say US supported apartheid?   I knew you could.
And now you are all caught up on my wild ride in DC.

Advertisements

Beekeepers Vs. Monsanto

SWARM!

SWARM!

Went to the Maine State Beekeepers Association annual meeting this past Saturday.   It was, as always, a wonderful informative, entertaining day.   On the organic beekeeping listserve that I belong to this came today.   I am sharing it to show that you do NOT want to mess with a bunch of riled up Beeks.

A Mexican judge won’t be bought off by the giant biotech company, Monsanto—
instead he honored the complaints of small bee-keepers and will stall the
growing season for Monsanto’s GM soybeans in Yucatán.
Published: October 20, 2014 | Authors: _Christina Sarich_
(http://www.nationofchange.org/2014/author/christina-sarich/) | _Natural Society_
(http://naturalsociety.com/big-win-monsanto-loses-gm-permit-mexico/) | News Report

Honoring the complaints of a small group of beekeepers in the state of
Yucatán, who complained that Monsanto’s planned planting of thousands of
hectares of GM soybeans made to withstand RoundUp would demolish their honey
industry by decimating bees – a judge in Mexico has removed Monsanto’s
planting permit. Monsanto can install Clarence Thomas on the U.S.00 Federal Judge
circuit after working for their corporation, an obvious conflict of
interest, but it looks like a Mexican judge won’t be bought off by biotech.
Though _Monsanto will surely appeal the ruling_
(http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2014/oct/9) , it will at least stall the growing season and give
the bee-keepers time to gather additional support for their cause.
A district has overturned a permit issued to Monsanto by Mexico’s
agriculture ministry, Sagarpa, and environmental protection agency, Semarnat, back
in June 2012 that allowed commercial planting of _RoundUp-ready soybeans_
(http://www.monsanto.com/products/pages/genuity-roundup-ready-2-yield-soybean
s.aspx) .
If the permit had been honored, Monsanto would have been able to plant
seeds in seven states, covering more than 253,000 hectares of land. (This
amounts to almost a million acres.) Mayan farmers, beekeepers, and activist
groups like Greenpeace, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and
Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas,
and the National Institute of Ecology have been vocally protesting this
action.
The judge was apparently convinced that the scientific data showing a link
between RoundUp, GMOs, and lowered honey production is very real. The
Yucatán peninsula grows vasts amounts of honey, and in fact is the third
largest exporter of honey to the world. The area includes Campeche, Quintana Roo,
and Yucatán states. More than 25,000 families build their livelihoods on
honey production. Almost all of the honey grown there is exported to the EU
and amounts to over $54 million in Mexican money annually.
The judge ruled that honey production and GM soybeans could not co-exist.
In addition to known health risks posed by GMO crops and the herbicides
used to grow them, there is also _environmental damage_
(http://permaculturenews.org/2012/11/01/why-glyphosate-should-be-banned-a-review-of-its-hazards-to
-health-and-the-environment/) to soil, water, and _bee colonies which are
dwindling_
(http://naturalsociety.com/bee-keepers-unite-against-epa-fda-approval-sulfoxaflor/) fast. There are also long term changes to the
ecosystems where GMOs are grown.
Since _a landmark decision in 2011_
(http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2011-09/cp110079en.pdf) by the European court of justice
banned GM crop imports, GMO honey would likely not be accepted – similar
to how Syngenta’s GMO corn strains are now being refused in China when
exported from the U.S.
The ruling determined that honey derived from a GM crop would be
unapproved for human consumption.
This follows an _inaugural study conducted in Campeche_
(http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140207/srep04022/full/srep04022.htm) , where about 10,000
hectares of GM soybeans were planted after Monsanto’s permit was approved in
2012. GM pollen _was found_
(http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/08/sweet-victory-beekeepers-monsanto-gm-soybeans)
in some honey samples destined for the European market.
Since bees pollinate vast tracts of land and could contaminate other crops
besides the GM crops planted, GM soy plantings also have more exponential
probability to cause damage.
The _Monsanto ruling was commended_
(http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/23/opinion/002a1edi) by the respected national newspaper La Jornada, which
accused the Mexican government of ignoring widespread concerns over GMOs and
forcing bee keepers to fight it out in court with powerful multinational
companies who have deep pockets to make legal battles go on at length.
Central to the ruling was the Mexican constitution, specifically the
government’s obligation to fully consult indigenous communities before making
any major decision about what happens to their land and food.
It’s too bad our own governments have long overlooked the people’s wishes
regarding GM crops in the U.S.

Radio Victoria

I need to write about the folks from the CDC, FDA, and USDA getting food poisoning at their Food Safety Summit but today I want to repost from the Oxfam site.   This article reminds me that no matter how scary things get here, there are worse places to be an activist:

image

When a radio station helps fight poverty—and speaks the truth

September 29, 2014 By Chris Hufstader

Radio reporters in El Salvador face threats, but remain committed to their message.

If you have never thought of a radio station as a way to fight poverty, think again. Over the years I’ve worked at Oxfam I have visited and spoken with staff at community radio stations in Mali, Peru, and Mozambique. I’ve always found the work of these stations to be a fascinating and powerful means to promote development: They bring the voices of people in isolated places out into the media, make their concerns known to the powerful, and push for change.

These stations are driven by a community agenda, so they are different from most commercial media companies funded by businesses, or the government. The best community radios recruit reporters in villages in their listening area, train young people to become journalists, provide an important alternative to the government and corporate messages, and broadcast in local languages.

In some places, projecting the voice of the people when it is at odds with powerful interests can lead to conflict and tragedy. You don’t have to be reporting from a foreign war zone to face life-threatening danger. For community radio reporters in El Salvador, it comes to your home.

I’ve just met with staff at Radio Victoria in Cabañas, which has been under siege since it started reporting on a proposed gold mine in the region in 2006. In 2008, a mining company called Pacific Rim offered the station $8,000 a month to help them promote a “Green Mining” public relations campaign in Cabañas, designed to counter environmentalist critics concerned about water pollution and other potentially negative effects of the proposed mine.

“Okay, $8,000 would have solved a lot of problems for us,” says Elvis Zavala, one of the founders of the station after El Salvador’s civil war, when they had a small transmitter and an antenna on a bamboo pole. “We could pay staff and buy new equipment.” But the station had been researching Pacific Rim’s mining proposal and found that their listeners were against it—the station could not accept Pacific Rim’s money and be true to their mission.

According to Marisella Ramos, a 29-year-old married mother of a young daughter and a reporter at Radio Victoria, this was also the time that the station had been covering the work of a local environmental leader named Marcelo Rivera. He was leading protest marches and workshops to educate people in communities about the dangers of mining to local water sources like the Rio Titihuapa, which flows into the Rio Lempa, El Salvador’s main source of drinking water.

That was when the anonymous threats began. “We got messages that we were on death lists,” Ramos told me. “In June 2009, Marcelo disappeared. We assigned two reporters to investigate his disappearance, and the threats increased to the point that we had to take our staff out of the department [of Cabañas]. We got threats over the cell phone, letters slipped under the door of the radio station and at our homes.” Someone damaged the station’s transmission lines, and tried to knock down its antenna.
A mural of environmental activist Marcelo Rivera is on the town’s cultural center in San Isidro. He was an ardent critic of a proposal to mine for gold in Cabañas, and received numerous death threats before he was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in 2009.
Rivera’s body was found 12 days later at the bottom of a well. A woman I interviewed near the Titihuapa river, a friend of Rivera who did not want to be named in this story, told me he had been scalped, his face ripped off, and his penis cut off and put in his mouth. “This was to send a message,” she said, “to silence us.”

Radio Victoria’s media coordinator, who was frequently on air reporting on the search for Rivera, got so many threats she had to leave the country with her son, and is still in Europe today. Although she was worried to do so, Ramos took over the media coordination role. Every press release the station issued bore her name. She was the main speaker at press conferences. And the threats shifted to her.

The emails she and others received were signed “extermination group.” Sometimes, Ramos says, “There were long, obscene messages describing what happened to Marcelo, implying it could happen to me.” One message gave her a deadline of May 3, 2009, saying they would come for her and her daughter. “Friends took me away to another place,” Ramos says, saying it was a location she thought would be safe. “When I arrived I got a text message saying they knew where I was, and everyone panicked.”

Shortly after that Ramos and her daughter went to Ecuador for a few months. “I had to decide if I wanted to keep being a radio reporter,” she says, back in Victoria and reporting again. “A lot of my colleagues suffered these threats, but I came back and talked with them. We feel united and strong together.”
Elivs Zavala, Marisella Ramos, and Salvador Escobar of Radio Victoria discuss the threats issued to the staff of their community radio station. Escobar was one of the founders of the station. Photo: James Rodriguez / Oxfam America
The threats have trailed off recently, but the controversy around the proposed mine continues. Pacific Rim has not received a permit to start mining, and has sued the government of El Salvador for $301 million. It recently sold its interests to an Australian company called Oceana Gold, which is pursuing the suit in a special tribunal at the World Bank, where such “investor disputes” are settled. Radio Victoria’s listeners in Cabañas are also leading a movement to create legislation that would ban all metal mining in the country, and Oxfam is supporting a coalition that brings together all the groups in the country working on the mining ban.

Elvis Zavala says one of the scariest moments in the violent period also led to a sign of hope. It came on a day when just one staff person was at the station and they got a threat that it would be set on fire. Zavala and others said they called their friends, and there was immediately a group of people with machetes surrounding the station. “When we saw them at the station, we felt like we were not alone,” Zavala says. “They told me, ‘If they are going to burn the radio, they are going to have to kill us first.’”

Every radio station should have such dedicated listeners.

Posted in
Natural resources and rights, The power of people.

Marching Against Monsanto, Again.

So I spoke at the March Against Monsanto today.  Thank you to Whitley and the crew for putting this together.  I arrived without my prepared remarks and had to off-the-cuff it.  It was okay but I wanted to share my beautiful, eloquent speech that noone got to hear today.

<I have come here today to speak about the food sovereignty movement.   And I will do that in a moment but first I want to tell you a story and toward the end I’ll offer you a solution to the food situation in which we find ourselves.

Back in 2006 I was standing around with some friends at one of our Mud Season Dinners.   These are events meant to demonstrate that even in the dark days of February or March there is still enough, entirely local, food to feed a crowd. At that moment we were at the height of our resistance against the animal ID law.  This is the USDA regulations that say all farmers who have livestock have to register and tattoo or tag all of their animals with a number and then do all the paperwork that entails.   So if anyone gets sick from eating meat, when that animal goes into the churning cauldron that is our current food system, the Feds can trace that animal’s life and provenance from birth to slaughter.   Naturally the anarchists, non-anarchist, libertarians and plain old left-wing activists, I was chatting with were none too pleased with this development.  One of them asked plaintively “What are we going to do?”   A good friend of mine, a farmer who feeds thousands of people every year, happened to be standing in the group.  He looked at her and said “We’re going to keep doing what we are doing…it’s just going to be illegal.”

And that is the essence of this movement.   It is; in the tradition of Suffrage, Civil Rights and Marriage Equality; essentially a human rights movement.    We got them out of our voting booths and bedrooms now let’s get them out of our kitchens.  We are; by eating fresh local food, sourced from farmers that we know; committing an act of civil disobedience. Like the Palestinians on the West Bank standing in front of their olive trees,  we are standing in front of our apple trees, protecting them from the encroachment of a hostile government.    They, the government bureaucrats, say they are protecting us from ourselves.   They say that we don’t know enough not to eat bad food.  They say that a farmer would sell tainted milk or meat or eggs or vegetables to his neighbors and friends.   They say that we would feed bad food to our own family and loved ones.    Well, let me tell you, the only bad food we are feeding anyone is the over-processed, GMO-ladden, vacant-of-nutrient foods that the big manufacturers shovel our way every day in the chain supermarkets.  If you are eating fresh nutrient-dense foods you are going to eat less, because your body is going to crave less.   And you are going to be healthier over all.  Twinkies just can’t do that.

This is what I call a “just walk away” moment.   My favorite kind of civil disobedience.   Just as Gandhi lead the salt march  to prove to the people of India, and to the British Empire, that they could make their own salt and did not need to remain enslaved to the English salt monopoly, so too we can grow our own food.   As Ron Finley of the South Central Garden in LA said so eloquently:  “Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.  Plus you get strawberries.”  and my favorite quote from him: “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

So we in the food sovereignty movement offer you the opportunity to take back control of what you eat three times a day.   Let the big guys know that they cannot intimidate us into eating rubbish that nourishes neither our bodies nor our souls.   Anyone interested in getting a food sovereignty ordinance passed in your own town can speak to me and we’ll get you started.

We need to protect our small farms and farmers.   They are the people who feed us.  They are also, historically,  the people who brought us the populist movement which lead to so much government reform in the late 1800’s.   And currently the farmers in Nebraska are one of the major reasons we are winning the fight against the XL pipeline.   Farmers are independent, hard-working, tough-minded folk who see the truth more clearly than most and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe.

So stand with small farmers and farmworkers everywhere and take back your power.   Stand up in front of your apples trees or tomato plants or by the side of your local farmer and just say NO.   No to GMOs, no to heavy-handed government oversight, no to caving into the intimidation bought and paid for by the folks that make the most money selling us crap to eat.   Join the next great civil rights movement.   The right to know what is in our food and  to eat whatever we damn well please.

“Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”  Wendell Berry>

Tin Foil Hat, You Say?

This post is for all my friends and acquaintances who think I am a tinfoil-hat-wearing-paranoid.    Sometimes they really are spying on us, sneaking around, and trying to discredit us.   At a meeting the other day a friend mentioned the name Tyrone Hayes.   Well, I had never heard of Dr. Hayes before that and I wrote down his name to look up later.  Then today another friend posted this article about Syngenta’s campaign to discredit any scientist that dared question the safety of its products.    And there was Dr. Hayes.   Target #1 on their slimy corporate hit list.   Read this article and then tell me the SOBs aren’t out to get us.

In a recent profile of Hayes in the New Yorker there is this quote “the scientists wrote that one set of studies on a single species was ‘not a sufficient edifice on which to build a regulary assessment.” Citing a paper by Hayes, who had done an analysis of sixteen atrazine studies, they wrote that “the single best predictor of whether or not the herbicide atrazine had a significant effect in a study was the funding source.'”  Go read that one, too.

Sleepwalking to Extinction

Finally a cogent argument for the “c” word….. conservation that is.   Please folks consider this article from Adbusters.    Oh, and send in your comments to the FDA on the Food Safety Modernization Act.   They extended the deadline for a week because (imagine that) they were having problems with the website.    But now a bit of the article from Adbusters.   Go to the link and read the whole thing if you want to get really depressed.   This is the cheery bit:

This doesn’t mean we would have to de-industrialize and go back to riding horses and living in log cabins. But it does mean that we would have to abandon the “consumer economy” — shut down all kinds of unnecessary, wasteful and polluting industries from junkfood to cruise ships, disposable Pampers to disposable H&M clothes, disposable IKEA furniture, endless new model cars, phones, electronic games, the lot. Plus all the banking, advertising, junk mail, most retail, etc. We would have completely redesign production to replace “fast junk food” with healthy, nutritious, fresh “slow food,” replace “fast fashion” with “slow fashion,” bring back mending, alterations and local tailors and shoe repairmen. We would have to completely redesign production of appliances, electronics, housewares, furniture and so on to be as durable and long-lived as possible. Bring back appliance repairmen and such. We would have to abolish the throwaway disposables industries, the packaging and plastic bag industrial complex, bring back refillable bottles and the like. We would have to design and build housing to last for centuries, to be as energy efficient as possible, to be reconfigurable, and shareable. We would have to vastly expand public transportation to curb vehicle use but also build those we do need to last and be shareable like Zipcar or Paris’ municipally-owned “Autolib” shared electric cars.

These are the sorts of things we would have to do if we really want to stop overconsumption and save the world. All these changes are simple, self-evident, no great technical challenge. They just require a completely different kind of economy, an economy geared to producing what we need while conserving resources for future generations of humans and for other species with which we share this planet.

 

The spectre of eco-democratic revolution 

Economic systems come and go. Capitalism has had a 300 year run. The question is: will humanity stand by and let the world be destroyed to save the profit system?

Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!

 

From RealFarmacy.com:

“Though the controlled corporate media apparatus is suppressing the story, 40 tons of GMO crops were torched, prompting an FBI investigation. There has been a complete media blackout.  It was only reported locally live on KXL Radio and echoed by the Oregonian, where the ONLY web mention exists, hard to find because the headline wording carefully avoids the most likely keywords for a search.

 

Here’s what happened — 40 Tons of GMO Sugar Beets were set ablaze in Eastern Oregon. FORTY TONS — the entire acreage of two full fields of crops in the ground were set ablaze over a three night period of time. That means arson.

Evidence is that 6,500 plants were destroyed by hand, one plant at a time. That, in turn, implies a lot of people were involved. Would you want to stick around once a fire was going and wait to be discovered? No, someone (many someones) probably wanted to move as quickly as possible. We are talking about a movement — and this is exactly the kind of retribution that many have warned was coming; when lawmakers and corporations refuse to honor the Constitution and instead engage in ‘legalized’ criminal acts such as enabled by the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’

More than a decade ago, environmental saboteurs vandalized experimental crops across the country in a revolt against high-tech agriculture. Foes of genetic engineering also struck in 2000, when members of the Earth Liberation Front, with roots in Oregon, set fire to agriculture offices at Michigan State University. ELF’s position was that genetic engineering was “one of the many threats to the natural world as we know it.”

 

But ELF cells normally come forward immediately to claim responsibility, because to them, its all about publicity to educate the public. Since there has been no statement about the recent arson this may have simply been Oregon farmers who have said, ‘Enough!’ Another clue that this may be the case is that this comes on the heels (two weeks) of Japan’s rejection of the entire Oregon wheat crop for the year (a tremendous financial blow because over 80% of Oregon Wheat is exported) because one report said one field was contaminated with at least ONE GMO plant.”

Am I advocating these kinds of acts?  What do you think?   Am I pissed off at the lamestream media for not picking this up?  You bet I am.   Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!