When we were hauled away from the gates of the White House on the morning of Saturday, August 20th, where 65 of us had been peacefully sitting in for an hour to urge the president to veto the proposed Keystone XL pipeline – a 1,700-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent – we were taken, hands cuffed behind our backs, in paddy wagons to the Park Police headquarters across the river Anacostia. There we sat – hands still cuffed – on a lawn for a couple of hours, until one by one we were called inside, uncuffed and stripped of all but our clothes. (I mean all – they took away my wedding ring, which hadn’t been off in 23 years, saying, “Where you’re going, they’ll cut off your finger for that.”) An officer with a ballpoint pen filled out every form in triplicate. (The Park Police still seem to be deciding if the whole digital thing is going to work out – there were three IBM Wheelwriter typewriters circa 1974 on a desk, but Bic apparently remains the technology of choice.) We stood 15 men to a five-by-seven cell for five or six hours (until need finally overcame squeamish reticence and we used the toilet in the center of the cell). Eventually, they recuffed us and put us back in the wagon for the ride to Central Cell Block, still with no idea of our prospects.
There the District police fingerprinted us and locked us up, two apiece, in four-by-seven cells. No beds, just two stainless-steel slabs without mattress, sheet or pillow. (Shoes make decent pillows, but it’s harder than it sounds to sleep on bare steel – my hips were still bruised two weeks later.) We stayed there all night, all the next day and all the next night; baloney sandwiches and a Styrofoam cup of water arrived at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. The lights never went off, the din was constant and the heat stifling. (We counted ourselves lucky, however, when we found out that the 20 women under arrest had been left in a single cell without beds of any kind, huddled together to keep warm as guards blasted an air conditioner at them.) The hours passed with incredible slowness, especially since the guards, who had taken our watches, kept lying about the time. But on Monday morning at 5 a.m. (we walked past a clock), they shackled us again, this time by the feet – you really do have to put your hand on the next guy’s shoulder, and shuffle down the hall, just like in the movies – and took us to the holding cell at the courthouse, where the 45 of us stood, feet cuffed together, in a giant cage with the rest of the District’s weekend criminals for about 10 hours. No food, no water – until finally, all of a sudden, they simply called us out and let us go. The judge, apparently, had dismissed all charges, and we were free.
28 September 2011
Food is a key driver of climate change. How our food gets produced and how it ends up on our tables accounts for around half of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Chemical fertilizers, heavy machinery and other petroleum-dependant farm technologies contribute significantly. The impact of the food industry as a whole is even greater: destroying forests and savannahs to produce animal feed and generating climate-damaging waste through excess packaging, processing, refrigeration and the transport of food over long distances, despite leaving millions of people hungry.
A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. People around the world are involved in struggles to defend or create ways of growing and sharing food that are healthier for their communities and for the planet. If measures are taken to restructure agriculture and the larger food system around food sovereignty, small scale farming, agro-ecology and local markets, we could cut global emissions in half within a few decades. We don’t need carbon markets or techno-fixes. We need the right policies and programmes to dump the current industrial food system and create a sustainable, equitable and truly productive one instead.
Most studies put the contribution of agricultural emissions – the emissions produced on the farm – at somewhere between 11 and 15% of all global emissions. What often goes unsaid, however, is that most of these emissions are generated by industrial farming practices that rely on chemical (nitrogen) fertilizers, heavy machinery run on petrol, and highly concentrated industrial livestock operations that pump out methane waste.
The figures for agriculture’s contribution also often do not account for its role in land use changes and deforestation, which are responsible for nearly a fifth of global GHG emissions. Worldwide, agriculture is pushing into savannas, wetlands, cerrados and forests, plowing under huge amounts of land. The expansion of the agricultural frontier is the dominant contributor to deforestation, accounting for between 70-90% of global deforestation. This means that some 15-18% of global GHG emissions are produced by land-use change and deforestation caused by agriculture. And here too, the global food system and its industrial model of agriculture are the chief culprits. The main driver of this deforestation is the expansion of industrial plantations for the production of commodities such as soy, sugarcane, oilpalm, maize and rapeseed.
Continue reading at: http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4357-food-and-climate-change-the-forgotten-link
Getting away from Industrial mono-crop farming would help avoid these out breaks as would having an FDA that was well enough funded to have more food inspectors out there.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/29/listeria-outbreak-us-cantaloupe-melons
Outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons from Colorado farm has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths so far
Associated Press in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 September 2011
An outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons in the US may cause more illness and deaths in coming weeks, say health officials.
So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths, in 18 states, making it the deadliest food outbreak in the country in more than a decade.
The Colorado farm where the potentially deadly cantaloupes were traced to, Jensen Farms in Holly, says it shipped fruit to 25 states, and people with illnesses have been discovered in several states that were not on the shipping list.
A spokeswoman for Jensen Farms said the company’s product is often sold and resold, so they do not always know where it ends up.
“If it’s not Jensen Farms, it’s OK to eat,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control. “But if you can’t confirm it’s not Jensen Farms, then it’s best to throw it out.”
The recalled cantaloupes may be labelled “Colorado Grown,” “Distributed by Frontera Produce,” “Jensenfarms.com” or “Sweet Rocky Fords” but not every recalled cantaloupe is labelled with a sticker, the US Food and Drug Administration said. The company said it shipped out more than 300,000 cases of cantaloupes that contained five to 15 melons each, meaning the recall involved 1.5m to 4.5m pieces of fruit.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/29/listeria-outbreak-us-cantaloupe-melons
From the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights: http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/press-releases/who-must-stop-treating-transgender-people-as-mentally-ill/
September 29th, 2011
In a resolution adopted yesterday, the European Parliament has called on the World Health Organization to stop considering transgender people as mentally ill. Gender dysphoria is currently classified as a ‘mental and behavioural disorder’ in the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases.
The text adopted yesterday “calls on the Commission and the World Health Organization to withdraw gender identity disorders from the list of mental and behavioural disorders, and ensure a non-pathologising reclassification in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases.”
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) serves as a global reference on physical and mental troubles. Until 1990, the ICD also classified homosexuality as a mental illness. The list is currently under review; the next version should be finalised in 2015, after lengthy consultations.
Emine Bozkurt MEP, Member of the LGBT Intergroup and author of the amendment, explained: “Transgender identities are still considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organization. This must be changed urgently, and certainly by the time the next version comes into effect in 2015. Transgender people wishing to live in a body that matches their identity are of course entitled to medical treatment and its benefits, but the negative stigma surrounding them must stop.”
Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP continued: “Considering transgender people mentally ill means they are not free to decide for themselves, and are often disrespected by the medical profession, their employers and their families. This call sends one clear message to the Commission and the WHO: the pathologisation of gender identity must stop, as the pathologisation of homosexuality ended in 1990.”
The European Commission takes part in ongoing negotiations for the next version of the International Classification of Diseases. Members of the European Parliament expect the Commission to take account of the Parliament’s call, adopted across political parties.
Country Music and its relatives, American folk music and the blues were common working folks music long before they were discovered by and popularized by college kids and corporations.
One of the joys of moving to Texas was connecting with Texas country, which has a rawness and authenticity that died in Nashville many years ago. Nashville country runs to safe Corporate
Pap errrr Pop. The country music I like tends to be labeled alt-country or outlaw country and be represented by folks like Willie Nelson and the late Townes Van Zant.
I’m glad that BBC picked up on country music that is usually found a bit left on the dial down below 100 on the FM where one finds the listener supported and college stations instead of the Clear Channel crap.
I’m also glad some mainstream country folks have discovered their fan base is hurting.
By Paul Adams: BBC News, Connecticut
September 26, 2011
It’s known for tackling some of life’s grittier issues, among them loss, poverty and nostalgia. But today’s country music lyrics are turning to the effects of economic hardship.
Country music and hard times. A cliche perhaps, but try telling that to legions of fans across the United States, many of whom are on the frontlines of economic struggles, seeking solace in the music.
Fans like 53-year-old Jim Yocius, from Windsor, Connecticut.
“For the first time in my life, I feel very vulnerable,” he says outside the Comcast Theatre in Hartford, before a concert by Country star Toby Keith.
Barbecue smoke drifts over serried ranks of pickup trucks as fans enjoy pre-concert tailgate parties.
“I feel like that older white male who did everything right, and now I feel like the next generation really wants me gone,” he says.
Continue reading at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15069653
Holding hands with Maude Barlow and marching with Dave Coles, Tony Clarke, Graham Saul, George Poitras and a group of Aboriginal leaders, we marched slowly towards a metal fence. Media blocked our way and it was difficult to see past them to the police awaiting us, but it seemed to me that they were standing back rather than moving forward to confront us. That was comforting and a small sign that this would more or less go as planned. We were supposed to spread out at arms length to give each of us room to step up onto the lower bar of the fence and swing the other leg over. But the media funnelled us into a narrow space and that just wasn’t going to happen. Coles was first over, the rest of us one or two at a time after. An RCMP approached and told me that I was in a restricted zone and if I did not go back over the fence he would arrest me. He asked again to make sure I understood. Plastic cuffs bound my hands behind me and that was it — my first arrest in a lifetime of political and labour activism.
This was an act of conscience against the Keystone XL pipeline which in spite of Canadian regulatory approval a year and a half ago has not yet received U.S. approval and has not commenced construction in Canada.
Dave Coles, President of CEP, and I were representing our members who have stood opposed to the pipeline and the model of development it represents from its inception. CEP opposed XL at the National Energy Board, appealed their decision to cabinet and then sought leave in federal court to force a judicial appeal.