From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/nestle-folger-fair-trade
By Tom Philpott
Tue Nov. 29, 2011
Just before Thanksgiving, the New York Times‘ William Neuman published an interesting piece on an emerging rift within the US fair-trade community.
Fair Trade USA, the main US fair-trade certifying entity, has announced plans to essentially lower its standards in the new year, Neuman reports. The group announced it would sever ties with Fairtrade International, “which coordinates fair trade marketing activities in close to two dozen countries,” Neuman writes. And large coffee plantations will be eligible for certification—before, only small cooperatives could receive the seal—as will “products with as little as 10 percent fair trade ingredients, compared with a minimum of 20 percent required in other countries.”
The plans have enraged the people behind Massachusetts-based Equal Exchange, a stalwart purveyor of fair-trade products. “It’s a betrayal,” Equal Exchange president Rink Dickinson told Neuman. “They’ve lost their integrity.”
Fair Trade USA, of course, defended the changes. Here’s Neuman:
Paul Rice, chief executive of Fair Trade USA, said the fair trade movement was dominated by hard-liners who resisted needed changes. “We’re all debating what do we want fair trade to be as it grows up,” Mr. Rice said. “Do we want it to be small and pure or do we want it to be fair trade for all?”
He dismissed criticism that his group was seeking to increase revenue for its own sake. “The more we grow volume, the more we can increase the impact” of fair trade, he said.
Continue reading at: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/nestle-folger-fair-trade
I got kind of emotional reading Miriam’s story yesterday about ob-gyns being told to prepare to treat transgender patients. This is a huge win in the area of health care access, a major issue for trans folks. It’s a win on an issue that’s particularly close to my heart, the intersection of reproductive and sexual health and trans issues. I’ve focused on this intersection in my organizing, and it hasn’t always been easy to be a voice for trans issues in the reproductive justice movement. I thought about all my friends have done to raise awareness about this crucial problem – it’s incredibly inspiring to finally see recognition of our health needs after we’ve been standing here shouting for so long.
And then I noticed the reaction to ob-gyn news around the web: a lot of people were saying, “It’s about time.”
Oh, right, yes. To simply have trans health needs recognized? To have doctors be told they should treat us when we need treatment? Like any other human being? It is about fucking time.
That’s the reality of where we’re at on trans issues. We are so far behind on winning basic rights and protections, still overwhelmingly stigmatized and discriminated against by a culture that still knows almost nothing about us, still killed just for being ourselves.
I can cite the numbers from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey again, numbers that show we face discrimination at alarming rates in housing, health care, education, employment – basically everywhere. I can talk again about how the discrimination faced by trans women of color is staggering even next to what the rest of the trans community faces. But the numbers can feel too extreme to understand. How do you even make it fit in your mind, that a whole group of people can be treated so inhumanely just for living our genders honestly?
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/opinion/magazine-global-agenda-enough-is-enough.html
By HELEN CALDICOTT
Published: December 2, 2011
The nuclear power industry has been resurrected over the past decade by a lobbying campaign that has left many people believing it to be a clean, green, emission-free alternative to fossil fuels. These beliefs pose an extraordinary threat to global public health and encourage a major financial drain on national economies and taxpayers. The commitment to nuclear power as an environmentally safe energy source has also stifled the mass development of alternative technologies that are far cheaper, safer and almost emission free — the future for global energy.
When the Fukushima Daiichi reactors suffered meltdowns in March, literally in the backyard of an unsuspecting public, the stark reality that the risks of nuclear power far outweigh any benefits should have become clear to the world. As the old quip states, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”
Instead, the nuclear industry has used the disaster to increase its already extensive lobbying efforts. A few nations vowed to phase out nuclear energy after the disaster. But many others have remained steadfast in their commitment. That has left millions of innocent people unaware that they — all of us — may face a medical catastrophe beyond all proportions in the wake of Fukushima and through the continued widespread use of nuclear energy.
The world was warned of the dangers of nuclear accidents 25 years ago, when Chernobyl exploded and lofted radioactive poisons into the atmosphere. Those poisons “rained out,” creating hot spots over the Northern Hemisphere. Research by scientists in Eastern Europe, collected and published by the New York Academy of Sciences, estimates that 40 percent of the European land mass is now contaminated with cesium 137 and other radioactive poisons that will concentrate in food for hundreds to thousands of years. Wide areas of Asia — from Turkey to China — the United Arab Emirates, North Africa and North America are also contaminated. Nearly 200 million people remain exposed.