IBI Watch 2/26/12

26 02 2012

Resisting the (Not-so) Green Giant //

An enormously powerful agricultural company is finally getting the attention it has long deserved.  Monsanto, which has been gobbling up more and more pieces of domestic and international agribusiness, is suddenly running into some headwinds.  Some participants in the Occupy movement are protesting the corporation’s actions and policies.  Just one look at the following excerpt should convince all of us that we need to do something about Monsanto:
“Today, Monsanto controls 93 percent of soybean crops, 86 percent of corn crops, 93 percent of cotton crops, and 93 percent of canola seed crops in the United States alone.”
And if you think those numbers will peak and decline of their own accord, think again.  Though I can’t locate the citation, I remember watching an excellent segment on the company’s practices several years ago on PBS.  This titan is methodically destroying not only small farms, but also small businesses that serve small farms.  They are forcing monoculture on the country and the world, supposedly in the interest of feeding the burgeoning human family.  But what really burgeons of course is mega-profit.

Here is an article on a new international problem for the agri-giant. In France, a farmer has won a major settlement against Monsanto.  And this link takes you to a documentary – The World According to Monsanto – that I have not watched (but plan to find the time to watch).  And note – it looks like Wide Eye Cinema – a site I just discovered – has a very impressive and diverse inventory of documentaries and relevant fictional films as well – even if it does bill itself as a purveyor of ‘conspiracy movies.’

The dangers of monoculture, and of more and more power in the hands of a few titanic corporations, are clear.  Fortunately, individuals and groups are fighting back.  Here is an article on opposition from an organic perspective.  And in this piece, Heidi Stevenson describes efforts to preserve heirloom seeds.  She covers the Landreth Company, which certainly seems deserving of support.  And then there is Iowa’s Seed Savers Exchange.  In the words of Iowa native songwriter Greg Brown, “Ah, the small and local must survive somehow.”


The Scientifically Plotted Plan to Destroy Science

There is a new kerfuffle in the Climate Change debate.  That is, the undead debate that incurable deniers keep flogging.  The Heartland Institute is in a tizzy about some shady actions by climate scientist Peter Gleick.  That will have to sort itself out, as did the manufactured crisis over ‘ClimateGate.’  But the real story here is the concerted campaign by Heartland to sow doubt not just among low-info adults, but schoolchildren.  This Internet piece digs the sordid details of the disinformation campaign.  Same old stuff, teach the controversy.  Is it any wonder that author Chris Mooney never runs out of stories to tell?  The author of The Republican War on Science (recommended) has a new book, excerpted here – The Republican Brain.  Job security, that – at least until we make the planet unlivable with our pignorance (pretend ignorance).  Want to take at least a small step to combat this destructive propaganda machine?  Try this link to Climate Reality.  It takes you to entertaining videos connected to petitions.


Tragedy – Sickly Predictable and Sadly Preventable

Four young Minnesota women were killed in a vehicle collision on I-94 earlier this week.  Their sedan spun out in a snowstorm, crossed the median and was broadsided by a large SUV – a Ford Expedition.  This has become a story about how the involved section of the interstate did not have proper cable dividers – which would have kept their car on the westbound side.  And that is part of the story – we are too damned cheap with our tax dollars to properly equip all the highways with safety features.


But there is another story here – one not mentioned at all in the media.  A quick glance at the still photo of the highway scene that appeared in the Star Tribune and in this video leaves you wondering – how could four lives end in a crash that looks like that?  The sedan in the picture is hardly damaged severely.  But then the awful truth emerges.  The car on the right is the third vehicle.  You can’t see the vehicle where the young women perished – it was basically obliterated by the taller, heavier SUV.


This kind of crash result was guaranteed when we decided back in the 1980s that it was a grand idea to allow pickup truck chassis to be ‘repurposed’ into over-tall, over-heavy, over-thirsty, over-unstable passenger vehicles known and loved/hated as SUVs.  Note that the Reagan Administration ignored arm-waving NHTSA administrators’ warnings in railroading these regulatory changes.  Because their bumpers are so much higher than those of passenger cars, the big tall SUVs basically drive through passenger cars in this type of crash.  Read more here.  Keith Bradsher documents this disastrous turn of events in his excellent book, High and Mighty.  He also outlines common-sense measures that can reduce this awful danger – if we are not too damned cheap to enact them.  Good luck with that.


Presidents at Best and Worst

Many lists of top and bottom U.S. presidents have circulated since a certain son of a Bush was installed in the White House – twice.  But this one has a novel twist.


Frogs, Moose, Polar Bears – a Shared Challenge

These animals may not seem to have much in common.  Except that they do.  Read about amphibian research in Panama here.  Then read about Minnesota’s declining moose.  Then, watch this short video narrated by Robert Redford.  I hope it makes you sign the petition, as I did.


SuperPACs – Laughs and Gasps

Stephen Colbert’s satirical candidacy has to be one of the best ways to help the masses understand the outrageous havoc that the Supreme Court, Inc., wrought on the body politic with its incredible Citizens United decision.  Just for one example, have you heard how much money Newt Gingrich’s chief bankroller used to prop up the Georgia bombthrower’s comatose campaign?  On Fresh Air this week, Terry Gross did an informative and entertaining point/counterpoint on this key issue.  First, she interviewed Colbert’s attorney, Trevor Potter. This includes some sound clips with Colbert, naturally.  Next, you can hear a twisted justification of Citizens United from the man himself – James Bopp, who successfully argued that game-changing case before the court of robed corporatists.  Warning – it is recommended that you not be holding dangerous implements – that could harm you or your technology – while you listen to this guy.  If you manage to endure Bopp for the entire segment, there is only one thing to do – read this AlterNet piece that cuts right through his illogic.


Locally Made, Customized Goods

There’s a lot of talk about reviving American manufacturing these days.  And much of that is just talk.  But this NPR story detailed a hopeful movement – toward custom, locally produced goods, starting with food and moving into other industries.


President Evil – a Jon Stewart Reality Check

Many progressives are disappointed by some of what President Obama has done in his first three years.  These two Daily show segments – part one and part two put compare current dire Republican warnings about a second term with warnings from way back – 2008.


“The time has come to move beyond eco-elitism to eco-populism.”


-Van Jones


Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




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