By Rachel Cernansky
12 Mar 2012
Before she wrote The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, Tracie McMillan was a welfare and poverty reporter in New York City. She grew interested in food and food access when a reporting project led her to a cooking class with Bryant Terry. She decided she wanted to learn, firsthand, how food is produced, distributed, and consumed in the U.S. She went to work undercover, as her book’s title suggests, in the farm fields of California, at a Walmart in Michigan, and at an Applebee’s in Brooklyn. In the book, she interweaves these experiences with a tremendous amount of research that sheds light on the country’s food system, as well as on the roadblocks and cultural attitudes that keep us from fixing it.
We spoke with McMillan about the book, the immersion she did to write it, and the recent attention she’s received from Rush Limbaugh.
Q. What drove you to start working on this book?
A. When I first started doing food access reporting about eight years ago, there was no real understanding that where you lived wouldn’t just determine the kind of school you might have access to, but that it would affect your diet. The conventional wisdom was, if neighborhoods don’t have grocery stores, it’s because the demand is insufficient — which sounds reasonable until you start looking at what that really means. It’s saying that nobody in that neighborhood wants food. The Wall Street Journal just reviewed the book, which is great, but one of the critiques was that people in those neighborhoods don’t have sufficient demand. My response is, they still have water, they still have electricity. We still make sure those communities have those resources no matter how blighted they are.
Q. In the book you point to the lack of public infrastructure for food distribution. Can you talk more about that?
Continue reading at: http://grist.org/food/meet-tracie-mcmillan-overeducated-food-justice-writer/
Code Pink Press Release: http://codepink.org/article.php?id=6086
Mar. 8, 2012
Shut Down Part of CODEPINK International Women’s Day Action Actions Take Place Same Day as BofA Charged in Federal Court over Fraudulent Homeowner Modifications
Photo Prior to Moynihan Protest: twitpic.com/8tlni9 (credit: CODEPINK)
Rough Video of Protest: http://bit.ly/yRm2Tv (credit: CODEPINK)
Rough Video of BofA Arrests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-laTVuvtpY (credit: CODEPINK)
New York, NY– After shutting down Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan’s address to financial investors earlier in the day; activists from CODEPINK were arrested near Zuccotti Park after a planned protest outside a Bank of America branch.
Medea, Rae and members of the Church of the Church of Stop Shopping revealed the “Bust B Of A” on their chests inside the Bank of America at the corner of Zuccotti Park home of Occupy Wall Street. Moments after leaving the bank, protestor Rae Abileah was brutally arrested at the square across from Zuccotti. As she pled that she has damaged wrists and neck they pulled her by her wrists and threw her to the ground see video here. Others who came to her support were dragged, grabbed and threatened. They are currently waiting arraignment at Central booking.
Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK who was present at the protest stated, “I am shocked at the violence we experienced today, women who work for peace and economic justice are behind bars while B of A gets away with destroying the lives of hard working citizens. We need to reclaim Justice on International Women’s Day. “
During the protest of CEO Moynihan earlier in the day, CODEPINK women got on stage, greeting the CEO on behalf of the nation’s women for International Women’s Day. Taking off their suit jackets and blouses, they stood next to the CEO in their pink bras, with Bust up Bank of America written on their chests. Today’s actions, on International Women’s Day, coincide with court documents filed by a whistleblower charging Bank of America with knowingly and fraudulently seeks to limit homeo mortgage modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The protests are part of a national day of action on International Women’s Day organized by members of Occupy Wall Street, Women Occupy, and CODEPINK to creatively protest the destructive policies of the world’s leading financial institutions. For a full list of actions happening around the country visit www.womenoccupy.org. Saturday, March 10th from 1-4 pm, a coalition of women will continue to celebrate International Women’s Day with a gathering in Union Square at 14th St including a protest at Bank of America and march down Broadway to Liberty Plaza. Please note that permits have been denied so protesters will improvise and march on the sidewalk. Occupy Wall Street is part of an international people powered movement fighting for economic justice in the face of neoliberal economic practices, the crimes of Wall Street, and a government controlled by monied interests. #OWS is the 99% organizing to end the tyranny of the 1%. For more info www.occupywallst.org
By Chris Hedges
Posted on Mar 12, 2012
Totalitarian systems disempower an unsuspecting population by gradually making legal what was once illegal. They incrementally corrupt and distort law to exclusively serve the goals of the inner sanctums of power and strip protection from the citizen. Law soon becomes the primary tool to advance the crimes of the elite and punish those who tell the truth. The state saturates the airwaves with official propaganda to replace news. Fear, and finally terror, creates an intellectual and moral void.
We have very little space left to maneuver. The iron doors of the corporate state are slamming shut. And a conviction of Bradley Manning, or any of the five others charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act of 1917 with passing government secrets to the press, would effectively terminate public knowledge of the internal workings of the corporate state. What we live under cannot be called democracy. What we will live under if the Supreme Court upholds the use of the Espionage Act to punish those who expose war crimes and state lies will be a species of corporate fascism. And this closed society is, perhaps, only a few weeks or months away.
Few other Americans are as acutely aware of our descent into corporate totalitarianism as Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times and is one of Manning’s most ardent and vocal defenders. Ellsberg, who was charged under the Espionage Act, faced 12 felony counts and a possible sentence of 115 years. He says that if he provided the Pentagon Papers today to news organizations, he would most likely never see his case dismissed on grounds of government misconduct against him as it was in 1973. The government tactics employed to discredit Ellsberg, which included burglarizing his psychoanalyst’s office and illegal wiretaps, were subjects of the impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon. But that was then.
“Everything that Richard Nixon did to me, for which he faced impeachment and prosecution, which led to his resignation, is now legal under the Patriot Act, the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] amendment act, the National Defense Authorization Act,” Ellsberg told me late Friday afternoon when we met in Princeton, N.J.
From In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12866/what_rush_has_wrought
And why it’s good news for feminism.
BY Sady Doyle
March 8, 2012
On February 29, Rush Limbaugh said something sexist, and feminists were outraged. This time, unlike the last few thousand times this has happened, he actually paid a price for it.
Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke have been endlessly cycled and recycled throughout the Internet: He called her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” alleged that she was “having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills,” said he wanted to see videos of her having sex, and etc. This garnered copious Internet outrage, has been covered everywhere from the New York Times to TMZ, and has cost him 32 sponsorships.
But offensive comments like those are exactly what Rush Limbaugh gets paid for. He got his first talk show in 1985, and has been saying offensive things about women –and gay people, and people of color, and non-Republican presidents, and occasionally small children–ever since. This is the guy who bemoaned the presence of “lard-ass women in politics,” argued that women who protest sexual harassment do so because “[it’s] what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes,” practically trademarked the term “feminazi,’” and once shared his belief that women are basically cats who can talk.
And it’s not just that this sort of misogyny is historically safe for Limbaugh; it was safe four months ago, when he called Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialik a prostitute. Rush made merry sport with the pronunciation of her name: “It’s Bi-a-lik. As in”–insert blow job noises here–“buy a lick.”
Continue reading at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12866/what_rush_has_wrought
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/us/catholic-church-pressures-victims-network-with-subpoenas.html
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: March 12, 2012
Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.
The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.
The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”
Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.”
Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”
by Kari Ann Rinker, National Organization for Women (NOW), Kansas
March 9, 2012
Since President Obama stood up to the bullying of the Catholic Bishops and found a way to make sure birth control remains accessible for all women, regardless of their employer, conscience clauses are becoming “all the rage.”
Many states already have conscience refusal laws for abortion already on the books. Nebraska is one of these states. A bill was introduced last year to expand the refusal clause in Nebraska to “embryonic stem cells, fetal tissue and end of life care.” This bill is now being amended a’ la Blunt, in that it would allow conscience refusals across the full gamut of health care.
The World-Herald Bureau wrote about some possible applications of such a law…
Others are questioning the measure’s breadth and whether it appropriately balances providers’ conscience rights with the rights of employers and patients.
Would it have protected, for example, the Pennsylvania admissions clerk who refused to type up lab and admissions forms for abortion patients?
Would it protect a dietitian who objects to killing animals for food and refuses to participate in anything involving meat?
Would it protect a nurse who refuses to care for an AIDS patient because of objections about the patient’s homosexuality?
The Nebraska amendment also includes a “referral clause,” which would allow health care workers and pharmacists not only to refuse to provide care they may find “objectionable,” but also allow to refuse to refer patients to other doctors, clinics, or pharmacies.
By Annalee Newitz
Mar 12, 2012
Over the past decade, you may have noticed more and more articles referring to “hominins” rather than “hominids.” Just why are Homo sapiensand her ancestors now called hominins? The answer isn’t just semantic — it has to do with a revolution in the way evolutionary biologists perceive humans’ place in the tree of life.
First, let’s be clear. Scientists today call humans and our ancestors hominins. They call humans, chimps, orangutans and gorillas hominids. But hominids used to be a humans-only thing. Why are we letting apes into our human clubhouse?
The trouble with taxonomy
The hominin vs. hominid debate grew out of disruptions to the “taxonomic nomenclature” that scientists use to define species and their relationships to one another — taxonomic names for species are those Latinate terms you see like Homo sapiens (human) or Drosophila melanogaster (fruitfly). This complex system dates back to the work of 18th century naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, who first proposed the idea that every living creature could be classified using a hierarchical system, and placed relative to each other on a “tree of life.”
Over the next few centuries, scientists refined the basic classifications that Linnaeus proposed, from animals vs. plants to humans vs. chimps, trying to categorize every known species. The rules for how species can be categorized are maintained by a few professional organizations, and each time a scientist discovers a new species it must be fitted into existing rules as logically as possible.
Humans today are the species Sapiens, the genus Homo, the subfamily Homininae, the family Hominidae, the order Primates, the class Mammalia, and the kingdom Animalia. There are a lot of other classifications in between genus and kingdom as well, and that’s where the hominid/hominin confusion comes in. You see, humans used to have the genus Homo all to themselves — until new discoveries about chimps and gorillas changed everything.
Continue reading at: http://io9.com/5892387/the-last-time-we-redefined-what-it-means-to-be-human
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/12-6
There are always winners and losers in free trade. The winners are the 1% – the wealthy at the top. The losers are the 99% – that means the rest of us.
The latest free trade deal which is now being rushed by President Obama through Congress is known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Thirty years ago, the first free trade deals were enacted under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Australia/US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), and many more. During this time, the global economic crisis accelerated at an alarming rate with only the 1% reaping the profits. This ongoing crisis will not end until these destructive free trade agreements are repealed and fair trade becomes the norm.
Most recently, the Korea/US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) was signed, over the objections of many labor, farm, and consumer groups in both countries. According to the Feb. 8. 2012 edition of the Korea Times, the leader of the Democratic United Party (DUP) vowed to nullify this deal with the United States once in power. Current predictions show the DUP winning this year’s general election. In an open letter to Obama, vice president Biden, and House Speaker Boehner, the DUP called upon the US “to reconsider the KORUS FTA in order to truly strengthen the long term relationship between our countries. If our cordial and earnest request is overlooked by your administration, we will have to take all measures possible to freeze the implementation of the KORUS FTA.”
Why would anyone expect anything but another race to the bottom in terms of farm prices, worker wages, environmental standards and human rights with passage of the TPP? We need only look at what happened in the years following NAFTA where over two million Mexican farmers were driven off their land by subsidized US corn being dumped into the market. Risking their lives, the farmers migrated across the border in search of work – families torn apart as fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters disappear. Some died in the desert, others were murdered by traffickers (coyotes) and rightwing vigilantes. So devalued as human beings, their lives were not even worth counting. Similarly, in the US and Canada thousands of family farmers and small business owners have seen their livelihoods sacrificed on the altar of greater corporate profit.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/12-6
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: March 12, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s civil rights division on Monday blocked Texas from enforcing a new law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, contending that the law would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible Hispanic voters.
The decision, which follows a similar move in December blocking a law in South Carolina, brought the Obama administration deeper into the politically and racially charged fight over a wave of new voting restrictions, enacted largely by Republicans in the name of combating voter fraud.
In a letter to the Texas state government, Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the state had failed to meet its requirement, under the Voting Rights Act, to show that the measure would not disproportionately disenfranchise registered minority voters.
“Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card,” Mr. Perez wrote, “and that disparity is statistically significant.”
Texas has roughly 12.8 million registered voters, of whom about 2.8 million are Hispanic. The state had supplied two sets of data comparing its voter rolls with a list of people who had valid state-issued photo identification cards — one from September and the other from January — showing that Hispanic voters were 46.5 percent to 120 percent more likely to lack such identification than were non-Hispanics.
Under the Voting Rights Act, jurisdictions that have a history of suppressing minority voting — like Texas — must show that any proposed change to voting rules would not have a disproportionate effect on minority voters, even if there is no evidence of discriminatory intent.