|Progressive Calendar 04.12.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 14:57:07 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.12.10 1. Coal no! 4.12 7pm 2. Torture 4.13 12noon 3. Vs Amy on war 4.13 4pm 4. Conversation 4.13 6:30pm 5. Gardening 4.13 7pm 6. Bill Quigley - Nine myths about socialism in the US 7. Ron Jacobs - Misrepresenting the Left: we are not liberals 8. Allen/Cummins - Is this factory farming's tobacco moment? 9. Ed Bruske - You call this food? --------1 of 9-------- Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 07:55:42 -0500 Subject: Coal no! 4.12 7pm TONIGHT/MON.4/12, 7pm:Clean Energy Future Panel Discussion @ Mon Apr 12 7pm - 8:30pm (Erick Boustead) Erick Boustead wrote: Join Campus Beyond Coal for a panel discussion with environmental and public health leaders about the true costs of burning coal for power, developments in alternative energy, and how we can move to a 100% clean energy future. April 12th 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Fraser Hall 102, University of Minnesota Campus Speakers Bruce Nilles, Deputy Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Michael Noble, Executive Director for Fresh Energy Amy Short, Sustainability Coordinator, University of Minnesota Steven Taff, Associate Professor, Applied Economics, University of Minnesota Donna Zimmerman, Vice President of Community Relations at Health Partners Siri Simons (moderator), President of Campus Beyond Coal Sponsored by Campus Beyond Coal, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and UMN Sustainability Studies Minor http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=107549885941899&index=1 <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=107549885941899&index=1> --------2 of 9-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Torture 4.13 12noon Ali Soufan: "Tortured Reasoning and Misunderstanding the Threat" Tuesday, April 13, Noon to 1:30 p.m. Humphrey Institute, Humphrey Forum, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Ali Soufan, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent with commentary by Vice President Walter F. Mondale and moderated by Lawrence Jacobs, Professor, University of Minnesota. Labeled "an important weapon in the ongoing war on terrorism" by the Department of Defense, Ali Soufan, a highly decorated former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, investigated and supervised highly sensitive international terrorism cases, including the East African Embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. He has been at the forefront of our nation's battle against al Qaeda, including going undercover as an al Qaeda agent, interrogating top terrorists, and serving as the government's main witness at trials held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drawing on his experiences, Mr. Soufan will explain mistakes made against al Qaeda, what we need to do to defeat the terrorist organization, and how to effectively interrogate top terrorists. To request disability accommodations, please call 612-625-2530. Sponsored by: the University of Minnesota Center for the Study of politics and Governance. Endorsed by: the WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) Committee. Note: While Soufan is a former FBI agent and investigator of Al Qaeda terrorism in the "war on terrorism" and therefore does not necessarily share all of WAMM's views about war and peace, he has spoken out strongly against waterboarding and other forms of torture. He was privy to how these decisions were made so from that standpoint, he's a good firsthand source regarding the torture issues. --------3 of 9-------- From: Marie Braun <braun044 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Vs Amy on war 4.13 4pm In mid-April, the Congress will be voting for another $33 billion war supplemental bill for Afghanistan. Please join us in actions in front of the offices of Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan. NO MORE DOLLARS FOR AFGHANISTAN WAR BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW Minnesota Actions at the Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar to End the Funding and Stop the War Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar 1200 Washington Avenue S., Suite 250 Minneapolis Tuesday, April 13 4:00 pm On or around April 15, the House of Representatives and the Senate will vote on the $33 billion dollar supplemental bill for the war on Afghanistan. The purpose of our actions is to urge our senators to vote against the war supplemental bill and for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Money needed to withdraw the troops can be taken from the bloated $708 billion defense budget being requested by President Obama for 2011, which is more than the combined defense budgets of all other countries in the world. It is imperative that we speak out at this time against the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and further assaults on Afghan cities and towns, which can only result in more bloodshed, misery, and death for U.S. soldiers and the people of Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world. Our actions will include; 1) the reading of the names of some who have been killed in the war in Afghanistan; 2) throwing shoes at the occupation; and 3) a die-in. The action is patterned after the action at the White House in Washington D.C. by twenty-four Minnesotans during the last week in January. You can find articles and videos of the action on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website at www.vcnv.org Some of those who participate in the die-in may chose to risk arrest. FFI: If you are interested in risking arrest or want further information about either of these actions, email braun044 [at] umn.edu or phone 612-522-1861. --------4 of 9-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Conversation 4.13 6:30pm Tomorrow we will be having open conversation. If you have some thoughts about what you want to converse about, let me know and we can center the conversation around it. The "Little Book of the Odd Month Club" agreed to read the following book and it will be discussed the last Tuesday of May. This is the description by Steven from the salon: Why read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy? The Road is the next selection by the Madhatter's TeaHouse Little Book of the Odd Month Club. It will be discussed at the Salon on the last Tuesday of May, May 25. It is a book of timely importance. McCarthy has written the bare bones of a story for survival. Each turning of the page is an experience in existential terror. Why has he written such a book? As a warning? As a teaching? Though a simple tale there are layers of meaning to unravel. Come and help us to unravel them. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------5 of 9-------- From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at] mail.vresp.com> Subject: Gardening 4.13 7pm Urban Homesteading Workshop Series Building sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyles Come to a Do It Green! Minnesota workshop and learn simple skills you can use to become a green, self-sustaining city dweller. Workshops are interactive and presented by local Twin Cities experts. Workshops are limited to 10-15 people, so register quickly! Do It Green! Minnesota members will receive priority registration and discounts. become a member now: http://cts.vresp.com/c/?twincitiesgreenguide/290d46514c/8acadfd1b4/836131ac8a Each month, Do It Green! Minnesota will partner with a local individual, nonprofit, or business to host an interactive workshop. Participants will get the chance to ask questions, witness up-close the techniques used by trail-blazing members of the community, and engage in hands-on urban homesteading activities. For questions please contact Ami or Eva at info [at] doitgreen.org or 612-345-7973. WORKSHOP SCHEDULE: Gardening I: Basic Planning by Marianna Padilla Tuesday, April 13, 7:00-9:00pm Learn how to pick a location, choose a size, and find great seeds and seedlings for your garden. This is the first of five gardening workshops. Cost: $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops Gardening II: Preparation and Planting by Marianna Padilla Tuesday, May 11, 7:00-9:00pm Learn to choose tools, prepare the soil, and plant your garden. This is the second of five gardening workshops Cost: $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops Gardening III: Tending and Harvesting by Marianna Padilla Tuesday, June 8, 7:00-9:00pm Find out about watering, mulching, weeding, composting, and harvesting your garden. This is the third of five gardening workshops. Cost: $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops Gardening IV: Food Preparation and Preservation, Part I by Marianna Padilla Tuesday, July 13, 7:00-9:00pm Discover the secrets of preparing garden-fresh dishes and preserving your harvest for later. This is the fourth of five gardening workshops. Cost: $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops Backyard Beekeeping by Elise Kyllo Tuesday, Aug 3, 6:30-8:00pm Get an up-close view of raising bees in an urban environment. Cost: $15 for the public or $12 for Do It Green! Minnesota members Gardening V: Food Preparation and Preservation, Part II by Marianna Padilla Aug 10, 7:00-9:00pm Discover the secrets of preparing garden-fresh dishes and preserving your harvest for later. This is the fifth of five gardening workshops. Cost: $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops --------6 of 9-------- Nine Myths about Socialism in the US By Bill Quigley ZSpace April 10, 2010 Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are claiming that the US is hot on the path towards socialism. Part of their claim is that the US is much more generous and supportive of our working and poor people than other countries. People may wish it was so, but it is not. As Senator Patrick Moynihan used to say “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and poor people compared to other countries. Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join the US in making up the OECD - the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable European countries but also include some struggling countries like Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Turkey. See www.oecd.org When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air myths about the US government going all out towards socialism sort of disappear into thin air. Here are some examples of myths that do not hold up. Myth #1. The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the rich to lift up the poor. There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the U.S. have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s. Myth #2. The US already has the greatest health care system in the world. Infant mortality in the US is 4th worst among OECD countries - better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic. Myth #3. There is less poverty in the US than anywhere. Child poverty in the US, at over 20% or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries. Myth #4. The US is generous in its treatment of families with children. The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay additional benefits if the family is low-income, or one of the parents is unemployed. Myth #5. The US is very supportive of its workers. The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The US ranks dead last in this. Over two thirds of the countries give some form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers. In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of 8 paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers. Myth #6. Poor people have more chance of becoming rich in the US than anywhere else. Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway, and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US. Myth #7. The US spends generously on public education. In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is 7th worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third. Myth #8. The US government is redistributing income from the rich to the poor. There is little redistribution of income by government in the U.S. in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower. Myth #9. The US generously gives foreign aid to countries across the world. The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed countries in the OECD. In 2007 the US was tied for last with Greece. In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan. Despite the opinions of right wing folks, the facts say the US is not on the path towards socialism. But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant mothers, and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could all appreciate it. Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. There is a version of this article with footnotes for those interested. Quigley77 [at] gmail.com --------7 of 9-------- Misrepresenting the Left: We Are Not Liberals by Ron Jacobs April 10th, 2010 Dissident Voice Despite the current media-induced confusion, liberals are not leftists. This misconception is not only embarrassing to those of us who are genuinely leftist in our politics, it is also discrediting the Left. From the New York Times to FOX News, the portrayal of the US Democratic party and Barack Obama as leftist is creating a perception in the US populace that leftists are ineffective politicos who have no principles they won't modify. Of course, the Left has not done that great of a job explaining the situation in any other way, thereby leaving the way open for the misconceptions put forth by the media to appear as truth. If one wants to know what a liberal is, they need only to look at the US Democratic Party. From Hilary Clinton to Dennis Kucinich, that party is in no way leftist. How can I say that? To begin with, liberals differ from leftists in fundamental ways. For starters, liberalism is founded on the sanctity of private property. According to John Locke, who is quite possibly the godfather of liberalism, it is the possession of property that gives humans their freedom. Indeed, in its early days, liberalism only saw freedom as being deserving to propertied males. While not disparaging the positive aspects of liberalism's early days - its opposition to monarchy and the role of the Church, to name two of the most important ones - it is crucial to acknowledge the shortcomings of a philosophy grounded in the ownership of property. Since the fact of private ownership was a qualification for entry into self-governance it obviously excluded many members of those societies where the politics of liberalism replaced the monarchy and the Church. Add to this fact the denial of political power to women and (in the newly created United States) the acceptance of slavery, and the shortcomings of liberalism as a philosophy guaranteeing liberty and equality become glaringly obvious. It is understood by those that utilize a Marxist analysis to understand history that liberalism is a bourgeois philosophy, primarily because it protects the dominance of that class in those societies where it flourishes. Of course, history does progress. The slave trade was eventually outlawed in Europe and suffered a bloody end in the United States. Women did eventually achieve political and economic power in those nations where liberalism is the underlying philosophical foundation of the regime. This progress did not occur due to the graces of the ruling class, however. Of all the countries that fall under the liberal banner, France experienced the greatest upheavals on its way to eventual liberty for all of its citizens. The United States was close behind. Equality remains at best a promise. The greatest challenges to liberalism were the twentieth century's two world wars. Yet, both of these wars were the result of liberalism's necessary relationship to the capitalist economy. World War I was the result of a rivalry between empires that had run out of new lands to conquer. Those empires then turned on each other in an attempt to steal each other's colonies. World War Two was a direct assault on the principles of liberalism by the totalitarian philosophy of fascism. This brings us neatly to the historical moment when liberalism became identified with governmental intervention into the domestic economy in ways not seen before. Instead of helping only the wealthy and their corporations dominate the economy as in the past, liberals began to encourage the installation of governmental controls on unfettered capitalism. This did not happen because liberals were interested in destroying capitalism, but in saving it. The institutions of capital in much of the world were under heavy fire from workers and others in the years preceding World War Two. Unlike the conservative free marketeers in public life, liberals during the reign of FDR understood that the only way to save capitalism from what they considered the twin evils of Bolshevism and fascism was to institute programs that would guarantee working people work and some minimum financial security. Government programs designed to provide this minimal security were legislated under intense attacks from the free marketeers and were the result of years of strikes and other battles from the labor Left. It is reasonable to state that these safety net programs and the transformation of the US economy to a Keynesian model that relied heavily on the production and sale of war materials did save capitalism in the United States and, consequently, throughout much of the world. This also placed the United States into the role of the primary capitalist and imperialist power. This transformation did at least two things. It insured that war and the preparation for war would continue to be a growth industry for US business and it created a situation where US workers (mostly white males at the time) would be able to live a relatively good life in terms of income and job security, thanks to the intensified exploitation of labor forces in the developing world. It also allowed the liberal government to push through programs like Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and Medicare. The peak of postwar liberalism in the US was the 1960s. Its greatest triumph was passing legislation that ended legal apartheid in the US and its greatest defeat was the defeat of US forces in Southeast Asia. The latter, which was presented to the world as a mission to bring the liberal ideals of liberty and equality to the people of that region of the world, was disproved. The actual conduct of the war exposed this presentation for the lie it was: a bloody and brutal attempt to destroy a nation and a people that bordered on genocide. It also gave the US Left, which was at its greatest popularity since the 1930s, the opportunity to expose the myth of liberalism. That is, that liberalism's ideals of liberty and equality could not be obtained under the economic machine of capitalism. This contradiction was apparent both in Vietnam and in the US, as the struggle for racial equality became an effort by the government to repress those individuals and groups dedicated to achieving that equality. The post World War Two years of capitalist expansion were followed by years of contraction that began in the early 1970s (most agree that 1973 was the exact year). This created a fear among the capitalist class and its governmental sycophants that they might lose their position in the world. So, they began to cut back on labor costs, shipping operations to the non-union southern US and then overseas and reneging on retirement promises and health care contracts. At first, there were those among the liberal establishment in the US who stood with the workers and opposed these moves. However, by the time the ultraright administration of Ronald Reagan was out of office, it was almost impossible to find a liberal who would stand with striking workers. Indeed, it was getting pretty difficult to find a national union official who would stand with striking workers. The free marketeers were back on top and were once again in complete control of the economic policy of Washington. This period saw the rise of a new type of liberal (the neoliberals) to positions of power in the White House and throughout Washington. Neoliberal Bill Clinton campaigned on a promise to halt so-called free trade agreement known as NAFTA and then pushed it through Congress in his first years in office. NAFTA and other free trade agreements were not about free trade, but about forcing already indebted nations of the developing world to accept US goods while destroying their own economies. At the same time, credit rules began to be loosened in the United States, resulting in the creation of untold billions of dollars that did not truly exist. Yet, as long as everyone from the individual getting a home loan to the World Bank forcing austerity measures on national governments believed that the money was good there was no apparent problem. The neoliberal model of world development - a model that encouraged dependence on US banks and corporations and espoused the philosophy that the free market would solve all social ills - reigned supreme. As for the liberal political program, it became a mere shadow of its earlier self. No longer were society wide programs to eliminate poverty like the Great Society programs mentioned earlier considered. Instead, the liberals looked at such programs and destroyed them under the guise of reform. Perhaps the best example of this strategy can be found in Bill Clinton's Welfare Reform Act of 1996, a piece of legislation that took free marketeer Ronald Reagan's statement that people in the US were only poor by choice and made that statement policy. Even when it came to identity politics, the liberals were hesitant to push their belief in equality to far. Instead of demanding legislation insuring de jure equality for the LBGT community, the Clinton administration chose to institute ambiguous policies that clarified little and arguably caused more discrimination. In addition, during his campaign, Clinton borrowed from the racist Southern strategy of the GOP and attacked performer Sister Souljah for her statements about black resistance to white racists. An adjunct to this more conservative social stance could be seen in liberals public embrace of religious figures and politics. Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party also supported the 1995 legislation increasing the number of federal offenses that could result in the death penalty while further militarizing the nation's police forces. The US military attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 that came after forcing the Belgrade government to accept a peace agreement that guaranteed war was the final act in a reign that reminded everyone on the left that liberalism exists to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Left believes in justice. According to most liberals, so do they. However, the Left also believes that there can not be genuine justice for all unless there is economic justice for all. To put it briefly, human rights can not exist for all regardless of class until economic inequality is addressed and minimized. Ideally, this means that the motivation of profit is eliminated altogether. It does not deny the right of people to own their own property, but it does deny those who would profit from letting others use that property through rent. Unlike liberalism, leftists publicly acknowledge the fundamental nature economics plays in how political structures operate. This doesn't mean that liberals don't understand the essential role capitalism plays in maintaining the liberal state in all its guises, it just means that leftists know that to lessen the inequalities that exist under capitalism, it is necessary to change it with the eventual goal of ending its predominant role in determining social relations. In short, leftists understand that capitalism is a fundamental source of social inequalities, while liberals tend to believe that, if capitalism cannot cure those inequities, it can surely help lessen them. This belief exists despite the historical empirical evidence that the opposite is true. If one looks at history, it seems apparent that leftism arose in response to the failings of the original liberal projects of the French revolution and the American war for independence. Both of these catalytic events did at least two important things. They ended the power of the monarchy and put the newly forming bourgeois class in power. Meanwhile, the peasants and the growing industrial working class discovered that the ideals of liberty and equality did not apply to them. In fact, their unequal status in relation to the bourgeoisie was essential to the rule of that class. This realization created a need for a different political philosophy that progressed beyond the principles of the French Revolution. Like the philosophy of that revolution, this newer philosophy was born from the experience of the oppressed. It found its most complete expression in the pens of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Liberals fear the end of capitalism and therefore will not support those who desire to undermine it. This is why they supported the Cold War. It is why they support the establishment of a client state in Iraq and why they support the expansion of the US war in Afghanistan. It is why they support a health care bill that is not single payer but supportive of the insurance industry. It is why Barack Obama had no doubts when he continued the Bush bailout of Wall Street. The musician Phil Ochs said it like this in his 1965 song "Love Me, Love Me I'm a Liberal". But don't talk about revolution That's going a little bit too far So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal. There's no one more red, white and blue So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal Like liberals, there are several varieties of leftists. All, however, share an understanding that capitalism is an essentially unfair economic system that rewards those who already have capital much more frequently than those who just work their tails off. They also understand that capitalism needs wars to survive and requires inequality to function. This is why they oppose it. As stated before, liberals have a much rosier view of capitalism and have historically been willing to do whatever it takes to save it. So, while they may be the Left's occasional allies, they are not the Left, no matter how many times FOX News and the New York Times say they are. Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. His most recent novel Short Order Frame Up is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net. --------8 of 9-------- Is This Factory Farming's Tobacco Moment? by Will Allen and Ronnie Cummins Saturday, April 10, 2010 CommonDreams.org The nation's chemical and energy-intensive food and farming system, Food Inc., is out-of-control, posing a mortal threat to public health, the environment, and climate stability. Economically stressed and distracted consumers have become dependent on a factory farm system designed to provide cheap processed food that may be cosmetically perfect and easily shipped, but which is seriously degraded in terms of purity and nutritional value. USDA studies reveal that the food currently grown on America's chemical-intensive farms contains drastically less vitamins and essential trace minerals than the food produced 50 years ago (when far less pesticides and chemical fertilizers were used). As even Time magazine has admitted recently, given the hidden costs of damage to public health, climate stability, and the environment, conventional (factory farm) food is extremely expensive. Much of Food Inc.'s common fare is not only nutritionally deficient, but also routinely contaminated--laced with pesticide residues, antibiotics, hormones, harmful bacteria and viruses, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and toxic chemicals. 1 Like tobacco, factory farm food is dangerous to your health. No wonder organic food is by far the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have shown that many of the nation's favorite foods are contaminated with a lethal cocktail of the most toxic chemicals, putting consumers, and especially children and infants (who are up to 100 times more sensitive to toxic chemicals) at risk. For those living in factory farming communities and working on farms, the constant exposure to the most toxic pesticides poses an even greater risk than the general population for cancer, birth defects, asthma, Parkinson's, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Alzheimer's, liver, kidney, heart disease, and many other ailments. Forty-eight percent of U.S. women now get cancer, as well as 38% of men. There is now conclusive evidence that exposure to farm and household chemicals (including body care and cleaning products) greatly increase your chances of getting cancer or other serious diseases. This is why there are large and growing clusters of cancers and birth defects in farm and urban communities all over the U.S. These clusters are a direct result of the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers on our farms, ranches, gardens, and lawns. 2 Several recent French court decisions have determined that farmers are suffering from leukemia, Parkinson's, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and myeloma cancers as a direct result of chemicals they've used on their farms. 3 The chemicals causing these cancers and leukemia are the same chemicals used to grow food in the U.S. Besides the damage to human health from pesticide use, chemical agriculture's use of synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge have polluted the nation's streams, creeks, rivers, oceans, drinking water, and millions of acres of farmland. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Working Group, two-thirds of the U.S. population is drinking water contaminated with high levels of nitrates and nitrites, caused by nitrate fertilizer runoff from factory farms. Large areas along our coastlines, bays, and gulfs have become "dead zones" as a result of excess nitrogen fertilizer and sewage sludge flowing into them. Serious illness and death are directly attributable to high levels of nitrates and pesticides in drinking water. 4 Factory farming's carbon footprint is also huge. Government officials have consistently failed to regulate agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions or even admit that they are a serious problem. Most official estimates of greenhouse gas pollution of U.S. agriculture range from a ridiculously low 7% to 12% of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recent analysis has demonstrated that U.S. factory farms and industrial agriculture are responsible for at least 35%, and possibly up to 50%, of greenhouse gas emissions. 5 Unfortunately, agriculture is currently exempted from even weak U.S. efforts to control greenhouse gases, including the recent cap and trade legislation passed by the House of Representatives. 6 Hopefully the most recent U.S. EPA directives in December 2009 on curbing greenhouse gasses will apply to agriculture, our most polluting industry. However, "just say no" Republican and Democratic congressmen are doing the bidding of their pesticide, fertilizer, and petroleum clients (instead of their constituents) and have vowed to block any efforts by the EPA to regulate emissions. The farm and chemical industry may now be as vulnerable as the tobacco industry was in the 1990s. People in the U.S. have finally become suspicious of the safety of the (non-organic) food supply. Millions are wary of home pesticides, weed killers, and synthetic garden and lawn fertilizers. Big agricultural chemical companies are under increasing criticism from consumers, including relatives of those hospitalized and killed by farm chemicals and factory farm contaminated food. Giant tobacco corporations lied to the public for decades, claiming that cigarettes were safe. Similarly chemical corporations and agri-business have conducted a hundred year campaign to hide the dangers of their farm chemicals. They hired scientists in the 1920s and 1930s to lie to the public about the dangers of arsenic and lead, the most widely used pesticides of the era. They hired scientists in the 1950s and 1960s to counteract the criticism of DDT and the other World War II pesticides and fertilizers. In the mid 1960s and the 1970s corporate agribusiness and chemical giants like Monsanto put enormous resources into debunking the criticisms of toxic chemicals in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and those of other public health and environmental activists. Chemical companies hired fake laboratories to give their most toxic chemicals a guarantee of safety in the 1980s and 90s. The EPA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the USDA accepted these bogus reports as valid until independent scientists and safe-food activists exposed the truth. The chemical industry has routinely stalled or neutered any chemical regulations passed in the U.S. Much of the public still believes it is protected because Congress passed several landmark pesticide and chemical control laws in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the chemical corporations and corporate agribusiness have lobbied successfully against these laws, weakening or repealing them. As a result, only a handful of the 80,000 industrial chemicals or pesticides used in farming or found in consumer products have lost their federal or state registration in the last 40 years. 7 As the co-author of this essay, Will Allen, concluded in his 2008 book The War on Bugs, it is time to conduct a full-scale offensive against factory farming and industrial agriculture. It is time for consumers to stop buying chemical food and using poisonous chemicals on their lawns, gardens, and in their houses. It is time for executives and workers on factory farms to become whistle blowers. It is time for chemically assaulted farmworkers and farmers to sue these killers. It is time for chemical and food industry employees and feedlot cowboys to expose factory farming's dirty secrets, just as high-level tobacco executives and tobacco workers did in the 1990s. It is time for courageous magazines or Internet sites to refuse farm and home chemical advertisements. In 1905, Colliers magazine refused to publish any more patent medicine ads. Almost immediately, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Ladies Home Journal joined the boycott. This didn't solve the problem of useless patent medicines, but it provoked a public dialogue and the rejection of thousands of dangerous potions. The public exposure of these "snake oil" remedies saved countless lives. Similar bold moves need to be taken to protect us all from the ravages of Food Inc. Time magazine's recent expose in August of 2009 of our dangerous and costly food system may be a signal that at least some reporters in the media are willing to expose the hazards of factory farms and chemical agriculture. Sadly, other media outlets continue to serve as cheerleaders for GMOs and industrial food. The New Yorker magazine and National Public Radio continue to carry Monsanto's ads claiming that GMO crops use less pesticides and can feed the world's population, when in fact recent research has shown that GMO crops actually increase pesticide use. Other studies have demonstrated that yields of both GMO corn and soy are actually lower than non-GMO varieties. 8 In the European Union (EU), pesticides and farm chemicals have come under increased scrutiny since the EU instituted a rigorous chemical evaluation and registration process, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals). Many of the most toxic (and profitable) chemicals used in farming and consumer products could lose their registration in the EU within the next few years. U.S. agricultural chemical lobbyists are worried that more aggressive regulations such as REACH are going to limit their sales in Europe and that more rigorous chemical enforcements are headed to the US, following the European example. It is time for the federal government to stop promoting and subsidizing factory farms and junk food. Food Inc.'s "business as usual" practices are destroying public health and the environment, destabilizing the climate, and setting us up for disaster in the coming era of petroleum and water scarcity. It is time for the Obama Administration and government regulators to place mandatory warnings on dozens of the most toxic foods, similar to the Surgeon General's warnings on tobacco products. We also need warning labels on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, as well as a wide range of consumer products. The following are proposed Surgeon General's warnings for a few of the many (non-organic) crops we have analyzed, strawberries, peaches, and carrots: DANGER! PROPOSED SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING FOR STRAWBERRIES Average Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on 2006 California Strawberries 9,274,453 pounds of pesticides used at an average of 279.44 lbs per acre on 33,190 acres. THIS IS THE HIGHEST AVERAGE PESTICIDE USE ON ANY FRUIT OR VEGETABLE! Two of top five pesticides are probable carcinogens. All five of the top chemicals cause multiple birth defects. Five pesticides account for more than 90% of use on California strawberries. Most used pesticide was Chloropicrin, or tear gas. Second most used pesticide was Methyl bromide, the ozone destroyer. 92.3% of berries tested had pesticide residues. 69.2% of berries tested had two or more residues. Of the 109 pesticides used on strawberries, 38 were detectable on berry samples. Some strawberry samples had as many as 8 residues. Strawberries were the SECOND most pesticide contaminated fruit in the EWG study Fertilizer use averaged 350 pounds of Nitrogen fertilizer per acre on coastal lands, which drain into the ocean. NITROGEN FERTILIZER IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF NITRATE WATER POLLUTION, DEAD ZONES IN THE OCEAN & GREENHOUSE GAS POLLUTION. PREGNANT WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY ARE MOST AT RISK FROM THE USE OF THIS FRUIT! Sources: California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working Group, U.S.EP DANGER! PROPOSED SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING FOR PEACHES Average Pesticide and Fertilizer use on 2006 California Peaches 4,676,273 pounds of pesticides used at an average of 76 lbs. per acre on 61,377.95 acres. Two of top five pesticides are probable carcinogens, three cause birth defects, one is an endocrine disruptor, and three damage fish and other aquatic life. 96.6% of peaches had pesticide residues. 86.6% had two or more residues. 42 different pesticide residues were still detectable on the fruit. Some had as many as 9 residues on a single sample.Peaches had the highest percentage of fruit with dangerous residues of all fruit tested. An average of 125 pounds of NITROGEN, 10 pounds of PHOSPHOROUS, and 200-500 pounds of POTASH fertilizer were used per acre-NITROGEN IS THE MAJOR CAUSE OF U.S. DRINKING WATER POLLUTION, DEAD ZONES IN THE OCEAN, AND A MAJOR SOURCE OF GREENHOUSE GAS POLLUTION. PREGNANT WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY ARE MOST AT RISK FROM THESE FRUITS! Sources: California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working Group, U.S.EPA DANGER! PROPOSED SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING FOR CARROTS Average Pesticide and Fertilizer use on 2006 California Carrots 6,616,796 pounds of pesticides were used at an Average of 102 lbs per acre on 64,870.55 acres. Most used pesticide was Metam sodium (Temik). Temik, Telone II, and Methyldithiocarbamate account for 90% of pesticides on carrots. All three cause birth defects, two are probable carcinogens. 81.7% of carrots had pesticide residues. 48.3% had two or more residues. 31 poisons were detected on the samples. 6 residues detected on a single sample. An average of 250 pounds of Nitrogen and more than 100 pounds of phosphorous and potash fertilizer were used per acre on carrots-NITROGEN IS THE MAJOR CAUSE OF U.S. DRINKING WATER POLLUTION, DEAD ZONES IN THE OCEAN, AND A MAJOR SOURCE OF GREENHOUSE GAS POLLUTION. PREGNANT WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY ARE MOST AT RISK FROM THIS VEGETABLE! Sources: California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working Group, U.S.EPA The proposed warnings above are not the kind of corporate-friendly regulations that will be tolerated by chemical companies such as Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont or BASF. Consumers will need to fight these corporations to gain their right-to-know what's in our food and other products. But these are indeed the types of warning labels that are needed, similar to the warnings on tobacco products. Given the regulatory coma of the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA, we need to be careful about what we eat and feed to our families. We must seek out and purchase organic foods and products whenever possible (organic standards prohibit the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and GMOs), but we also need to be aggressive about demanding that the current factory farm system must change. It is, after all, our tax dollars that prop up the GMOs, chemical agriculture, and junk food of Food Inc. Our tax dollars literally subsidize the production of foods that cause diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Recent studies indicate that 68% of the U.S. population is overweight, while 34% is obese. This fattening of America over the last 20 years is a direct result of the highly processed junk foods that we eat, loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and toxic residues. Only our collective voices, votes, purchases, and demands for fundamental reform and regulation can change the nation's dangerous system of food production and distribution. 9 But, don't wait for the regulators to act before you change your food habits. Organic and health-minded consumers are transforming the marketplace with their purchasing power all over the world. You can too! We need to demand that our presently out-of-control food and farming system be regulated. Like the mortgage, bank, insurance industries, and Wall Street, agriculture has not been properly regulated for decades, if ever. EPA, FDA, and the USDA regulatory practices have been severely weakened by pro-agribusiness, deregulatory administrations since Reagan. It's time to crack down on the hazardous practice of corporate agribusiness. As long as no one is regulating how many different toxic substances are applied to conventionally grown food, a staggering amount of chemical cocktails and synthetic fertilizer will continue to be used. The scary bottom line is that America's corporate food handlers and processors do not care about your safety. They care about their profits. All the "conventional" horrors of industrial agriculture are banned on organic and biodynamic farms. Why? Because organic consumers and farmers decided to create third party certification organizations in the 1980s that enforced strict regulations on how organic food could be grown. So, instead of asking: Why does organic food cost more than "conventional" food? We should be asking: How cheap would poisoned ("conventional") food have to be to be a good deal? The time has come to stand up and be counted, to force the chemical, genetic engineering, petroleum and sewage sludge corporations to bend to the people's will, to endure their own tobacco moment. Only then will Rachel Carson's hopes for a sustainable future be realized. Only then will a 21st Century Silent Spring be averted. 10 Only then will we be able to stop factory farming's assault on public health and all Earth's creatures, large and small. Footnotes: 1. Will Allen, The Death of Food, Alternet, April, 2008. The Real Cost of Cheap Food, Alternet, June 2008. Organic Consumer's Association Newsletter, April and June 2008. Bryan Walsh, Getting Real about the High Cost of Cheap Food, Time magazine, August 21, 2009 2. The Environmental Working Group's 2008 Dirty Dozen Vegetables and Fruits (with the highest residues). Residue analyses from the United States Department of Agriculture. California EPA, Pesticide Use Reports, 1970-2006. Will Allen, The War on Bugs, Chelsea Green, White River Junction, Vt., March 2008. 3. Smith, Diana, 2010, Cancer and Pesticides: Victims Fight for Justice. Ecologist, February 4. 4. See: The Environmental Working Group's study of EPA water quality data, and California Department of Agriculture's Fertilizer studies from 1985 to 2006. 5. Shiva, Vandana, 2009, Soil not Oil, Navdanya, New Delhi, India. Allen, Will and Cummins, Ronnie, 2010 Beyond Copenhagen: Building a Green and Organic Future. Huffington Post, Organic Bytes, February 6. Greenhouse Gas emissions were deemed on December 7, 2009 to be deleterious to public health by the U.S. EPA. It will be interesting to see if this ruling allows greenhouse gasses emitted from agriculture to be regulated like other industries 7. The United States Environmental Protection Agency began in 1970. Instead of protecting the public the EPA has aligned itself with Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, Crop Life and other chemical protective groups. California's Proposition 65, passed in 1983 to regulate Cancer Causing Chemicals in public places. Instead of banning them or regulating them they now only inform you that cancer causing chemicals are present. California's Birth Defect Prevention Act, passed in 1984 was designed to eliminate the most dangerous birth defect generating chemicals. After 25 years almost no chemicals have lost their registration. 8. Chuck Benbrook, 2009 Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years. The Organic Center. November 17. Boulder, Colorado 9. Will Allen, We Need Food and Farming Regulation NOW! Chelsea Green Blog, April, 2009., Organic Consumer's Association Newsletter, April, 2009, Common Dreams, May, 2009. 10. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962, Fawcett Publications, Greenwich, Conn. Will Allen is a famer, community organizer, activist, and writer who farms in Vermont. His first book, The War on Bugs, was published by Chelsea Green in 2008. His website is www.thewaronbugsbook.com. The farm website is www.cedarcirclefarm.org Ronnie Cummins is an organizer, writer, and activist. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and co-author of the book, Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers. His organization's website is www.OrganicConsumers.org Zuri Allen Star and Michael Kanter researched the California Pesticide statistics, and the author researched the fertilizer data. Any errors in interpretation, however are entirely the authors'. --------9 of 9-------- You Call This Food? by Ed Bruske Friday, April 9, 2010 The Slow Cook Common Dreams I was ready to have a perfectly civilized discussion.blog-to-blog.with Sam Fromartz over at ChewsWise on the subject of what we can do to get kids to eat better when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the lunch being served at my daughter's elementary school here in the nation's capital. Look at the photo above and tell me what you see. Do you see the same thing I do? French fries, a bag of Sun Chips, and an 8-ounce carton of strawberry-flavored milk. You almost have to rub your eyes and take a second look. Can this really be true? Hello, Jamie Oliver! Not all the bad school food is in Huntington, W.Va. We've got the same stuff right here in Washington, D.C., barely a mile from the White House. To my knowledge, Michelle Obama has never addressed the glycemic bomb being served daily to public school children right outside her door. But I could be wrong. Yes, just a mile or so from the White House, where we're told over and over the Obamas are hard on the case, solving the nation's childhood obesity epidemic, kids in elementary school are being served chips, fries and strawberry milk for lunch. Oh, wait. I forgot the ketchup. Two foil packets of it. That should count for something. And as far as chips go, Sun Chips - made from corn, whole wheat, rice flour, whole oat flour - are probably the lesser of many evils. Still.. I actually found it heartrending to watch my daughter's lunch group - 10- and 11-year-olds - waiting patiently for their midday meal, first at their tables, then pressed against a wall in a queue near the door to the food line, only to emerge at the other end with this on their Styrofoam trays. Some also had a mealy-looking chili with beans. Some had a fresh pear. But under federal "offered-versus-served" rules, kids only need to take three of the offered items to qualify for a federally-subsidized meal. That's how you get fries, chips and strawberry-flavored milk. (Fries count as a vegetable, and the milk protein, the chips grain. Get it?) Yes, we can have a conversation about how to get kids to eat healthier foods. But first, we need to ask, Where are the adults in this picture? Children have not yet reached the age of consent. Grownups are supposed to take care of them. Yet when you enter a public school cafeteria, you step into a kind of culinary gulag where for years the adults grinding away anonymously inside have done their best to keep the truth of what they are doing hidden from the public at large. And the public at large has been just as happy not knowing the details. This was a matter we conveniently left in the hands of "professionals" - food service workers, nutritionists, government regulators, food industry lobbyists - who have spent the last several decades devising ways to make "food" for children that grownups don't have to pay for. Now, with Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" being aired on network television, and school meals showing up in vivid color in the blogosphere, we are finally getting a glimmer of what "school lunch" really means. It's not a joke any more. What we feed children has consequences. And the pictures are ugly. Yet it is obvious that childrenand - especially what they eat - are not a priority. We would much rather spend billions fighting foreign wars, building tanks, dropping bombs. Honestly, what we get from most politicians is lip service and a nickel tossed into the collection plate. We are on the brink of losing our collective memory of what constitutes real food. Yet no one is accountable. We are not to judge the "lunch ladies" too harshly. They are doing the best they can. We are not to judge the food service directors too harshly. They also are doing the best they can. We should not judge our local government leaders too harshly. They depend on federal dollars. We should not judge parents too harshly. They are busy working to make ends meat.. Would anyone like to step forward and take responsibility for feeding our children in school? The final indignity came when I was abruptly stopped from taking further photographs in the lunch room by the school's assistant principal. She whisked me off to a conference room where the principal was having lunch with teachers (what would happen if the adults at school had to eat the same food as the kids?) The principal told me she had been admonished for the series of articles I wrote from the school's kitchen back in January, a glimpse behind the curtain that revealed the "fresh cooked" scheme the school system had recently implemented in collaboration with its contracted food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson, was nothing of the sort. To continue taking photographs of the food, the principal said, I would need clearance from higher up. "I don't want to get in trouble again," she said. Turns out there was an aftermath to my expose of the D.C. school kitchen. The young kitchen manager I profiled, who liked so much to add shredded cheese to boost the flavor of all those industrially-processed dishes she was heating in the steamer, has disappeared, presumably re-assigned. I'm trying to square this with what Anthony Tata, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's chief operating officer, told The Washington Post about me and that series of articles on Feb. 12: "I think it's great a parent is super-involved and we are soliciting his input as we go forward with our program changes," Tata said. Blah, blah, blah. I accuse the adults responsible for school food of gross indifference. I accuse all of us of failing to step up to the plate. I challenge Chancellor Rhee and Anthony Tata to have a real conversation with parents about the food children are eating in school. But let us not fail because we refused to look at the problem square in the eye. Ed Bruske's blog is The Slow Cook. More of his writing can be found at La Vida Locavore and at Grist, as well as D.C. Food for All and Better D.C. School Food. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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