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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 73,003

Journal Archives

Farmers Markets Move Online

from YES! Magazine:

Farmers Markets Move Online
Regional, web-based services to connect small-time growers to consumers are popping up around the country.

by Katherine Gustafson
posted Apr 26, 2012

It isn’t always easy finding fresh, high-quality food in this country. Supermarkets with their long, complex supply chains usually offer unripe or subpar produce that leaves a lot to be desired. But the usual alternative methods of provision have distinct limitations. Luckily, technology provides one great answer to this dilemma, opening up an important new avenue for small-scale producers to connect to customers.

Only local farms can deliver the very freshest produce. But while the common methods of providing this bounty to consumers—community supported agriculture (CSA) plans and farmers’ markets—are essential components of a revitalizing fresh-food sector, they don’t always provide a sufficiently flexible or robust shopping experience.

CSAs require a large up-front cash layout and lock you into eating whatever happens to be delivered. Farmers’ markets vary vastly in size and quality, from those that enforce requirements on farm-size and distance to those that don’t seem to hold vendors to any standards at all. It’s dismaying to discover resellers at “farmers’” markets; for all you know, they bought their wares at Safeway that morning.

For quality-minded consumers who would like to support local agriculture, it can be a struggle to obtain the freshest food on a consistent basis. And small farmers may struggle to find enough convenient markets for their goods. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/how-the-web-can-benefit-farmers-eaters-and-communities

Phil Rockstroh: Confronting the Big Empty

from Consortium News:

Confronting the Big Empty
April 26, 2012

As the richest one percent consolidates its wealth and power, the 99 percent are fed junk food for the mind and the body, explaining the overwhelming sense of emptiness even amid the obesity of physical and mental over-consumption, a wrenching human dilemma that ultimately must be confronted, writes Phil Rockstroh.

By Phil Rockstroh

Due to the consolidation of wealth and privilege into fewer and fewer hands, thus requiring escalating amounts of officially mandated surveillance and brutality to maintain social order, the natural trajectory of unregulated capitalism tends towards hyper-authoritarian excess, even towards fascism.

Moreover, by the standards of capitalist ideology, and exacerbated by the rigged nature of economic and social arrangements — large segments of society are deemed “losers,” and, resultantly, will grow restive, if scapegoats aren’t invented to mitigate a sense of humiliation and displaced rage.

Accordingly, rightist demagogic fictions can seize the psyches of large segments of the general public: immigrant interlopers wreck the economy; minority layabouts suck-up public funds; gays and women, possessed of dubious morality, destroy the nation’s moral fabric; lefties are driven to challenge the system, but only because of their spite, born of jealousy.

The “purer” the form of capitalism the faster the rise of fascism. There is a dark and bitter grace to this: Fascism is the deranged agency that sends the capitalist machine into systemic runaway, thus the system crashes and burns — and out of its ashes and debris … a more humane system can come into being. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/04/26/confronting-the-big-empty/

David Sirota: The Politics of Sight

from truthdig:

The Politics of Sight

Posted on Apr 26, 2012
By David Sirota

Would Americans eat less meat, and would animals be treated more humanely, if slaughterhouses were made with glass walls and we all could see the monstrous killing apparatus at work? This is the query at the heart of Timothy Pachirat’s new book “Every Twelve Seconds”—the title a reference to the typical slaughterhouse’s cattle-killing rate.

Before you think this is a column merely about food, recognize that Pachirat’s question isn’t (only) about the immorality of the cheeseburger you had for lunch. It’s about the larger phenomenon whereby modern society has reconstructed itself to hide so many horrific consequences from view.

Calling this the “politics of sight,” Pachirat’s blood-soaked experience inside a slaughterhouse spotlights only the most illustrative example of how we’ve divorced ourselves from the means of producing violence—and how, in doing so, we have made it psychologically easier to support such brutality. Sadly, billions of factory-farmed animals dying barbaric deaths are just one subset of casualties in that larger process.

Today, for example, free trade policies that promote offshoring allow Americans to enjoy consumer goods at ultra-low prices without having to see that those low prices represent companies taking advantage of the developing world’s poverty wages, environmental destruction and human rights abuses. A veritable slave may have assembled the iPad you are reading these words on, but thanks to the supply chain’s geography and Apple’s lack of transparency, you can easily avoid dealing with the ethical implications of that reality. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_politics_of_sight_20120426/

Pope Ratz attacks nuns for not being sufficiently anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-women's equality

from the Des Moines Register:

Now the pope is beating up on nuns in the United States! And I think Rick Santorum started this.

The Catholic church has launched disciplinary action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the 57,000 U.S. nuns.

The church avers the nuns have not been loud enough in speaking out against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith claims the nuns are pushing “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

This comes following the contraception controversy. The Affordable Healthcare Act and Obama administration required businesses and organizations offering health insurance to include coverage for contraception for women. That produced claims of discrimination against women or of interference by the federal government in the religious freedom of religious groups opposing contraception and abortion. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120425/OPINION/304250046/0/OPINION/?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Gar Alperovitz - Transition to a New Economy - America Beyond Capitalism

Gar Alperovitz is a professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. A former Fellow of King's College, a founding Fellow of the Harvard IOP, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, he has testified before numerous Congressional committees and lectures widely around the country. He is recognized as a key figure in the revival of political canvassing and a strong proponent of transforming ownership. He is a founding principal of the Democracy Collaborative at UMD, on the board of Directors for the New Economics Institute, and the author of several critically acclaimed books and articles, including "Another World is Possible, America Beyond Capitalism", and work on atomic diplomacy.

The Escalating Stupidity of the Drug War

First Oaksterdam University, Now This? Flash-Bang Grenades, 11 Arrests, and 2 Dogs Confiscated in Oakland Pot Raid

The DEA and Oakland police tag-teamed a marijuana grow operation overnight, deploying flash-bang grenades, arresting 11 people, confiscating two pit bulls, over 1000 plants, and several weapons. Police allege the warehouse grow was also a distribution center, and was not related to medical marijuana.

This comes on the heels of the recent raids on Oaksterdam University, and several other businesses owned by legendary cannabis activist Richard Lee. Oaksterdam U had been a source of great pride for the medical marijuana community, as a symbol of the movement’s genuine purpose of advocacy through education. Adding to the confusion and hypocrisy is the recent approval by the City of Oakland of four additional large-scale cultivation centers in the city.

Over 30 officers participated in the raid–Oakland police were on point, with the DEA holding their leashes as usual. The Oaksterdam raids prompted tremendous public outcry, including demonstrations and statements by local leaders criticizing federal interference with medical marijuana. Authorities assert last night's raids were unrelated to medical marijuana, but that will not likely diminish the anxiety felt by the medical marijuana community in Oakland in the face of continued attacks on cannabis. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/909130/first_oaksterdam_university%2C_now_this_flash-bang_grenades%2C_11_arrests%2C_and_2_dogs_confiscated_in_oakland_pot_raid/

Forgot to Pay Your Traffic Ticket? There Goes Your Water…


Forgot to Pay Your Traffic Ticket? There Goes Your Water…

Tough fiscal times are driving some cities to take extreme and often outlandish measures to generate revenue, but an action by Las Cruces, New Mexico, may take the cake.

Earlier this week, Las Cruces told its residents that if they fail to pay their traffic tickets, they would lose their water, sewer and gas service. This is disgraceful and dangerous. As summer approaches and temperatures rise, the loss of water service poses a particularly serious health risk for residents of this desert city. This enforcement policy presents a clear violation of the human right to water.

While cities understandably want to shore up their finances, they must not take drastic actions that endanger the lives and wellbeing of their inhabitants.

Who Are the Other Americans Now?

from Dissent:

Who Are the Other Americans Now?
William Kornblum - April 26, 2012

If you are concerned about rising poverty rates in the United States, you are not alone. Surveys of American voters consistently reveal substantial majorities (around 60 percent of respondents) that say rising poverty in this nation is a major concern. Slightly smaller majorities agree that government should intervene on behalf of poor families and children. Renewed Occupy Wall Street demonstrations this spring should keep poverty and inequality in the news cycle. In a Pew research poll released in January 2012 (the most recent polling available on the issue), 66 percent of respondents agreed that there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009. Many identify with the 99 percent, and wish to assist those who are experiencing frightening economic insecurity, but do we know what it will take to change the situation?

There is no mystery about the most immediate way to begin reversing the national shame of rising domestic poverty. The answer, however banal it may seem to some readers, is that we need to work as hard as possible to re-elect President Obama. Beyond that, we must turn, in far greater numbers than Tea Party types, to sustained grassroots politics and work to elect as many Democrats as possible to the House and Senate. Demonstrations and occupations are essential for mobilization and raising consciousness about the social costs of inequality and poverty. But the protesters in Wisconsin are showing us that mass rallies and street protests eventually need to generate serious grassroots voter organizing, or what is a political movement in a democracy for?

NOT EVERYONE, of course, sees poverty as a problem. Take the recent assertions of Robert Rector, an “expert” on poverty issues in the United States, insulated in smug comfort at the American Enterprise Institute: “most people whom the government defines as ‘in poverty’ are not actually poor in any ordinary sense of the term. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity.” Rector and others on the right deny the evident and precipitous race to the bottom that has been going on since the Reagan 1980s. They are always quick to play distracting statistical games to prove that the poor in America are not really counted properly, or that they are not really poor at all.

Rector and his AEI colleagues are especially fond of citing the 2009 U.S. Housing Survey counts showing, for example, that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning, when in 1970 only 36 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed that “luxury.” And about three-fourths of the poor have a car or truck. Imagine that? “Liberals,” Rector notes, “use the declining relative prices of many amenities to argue that it is no big deal that poor households have air conditioning, computers, and cable TV. They contend that even though most poor families have houses full of modern conveniences, the average poor family still suffers from serious deprivation in basic needs, such as food, nutrition, and housing.” Rector never mentions that poverty rates are highest in the nation’s hottest states (for instance, in Arizona, 15.2 percent, and in Texas, 16.2 percent), where a sizeable chunk of the Republican base are elderly people on fixed incomes who would not be there without air conditioning. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=600

The Port Huron Statement: Still Radical at 50

from In These Times:

[font size="1"]Members of Students for a Democratic Society raise their fists at the 1963 SDS National Council Meeting in Bloomington, Ind. (Photo by C. Clark Kissinger)[/font]

The Port Huron Statement: Still Radical at 50
A half-century after the Students for a Democratic Society adopted their seminal manifesto, 14 activists–including three people who helped shape the statement–assess its legacy.

BY Port Huron Respondents

For five days in June 1962, members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) gathered at a UAW camp near Port Huron, Mich., for the group’s first national convention. The result was The Port Huron Statement: a 25,700-word manifesto that articulated the fundamental problems of American society and laid out a radical vision for a better future. It marked a seminal moment in the development of the New Left.

Today, the Occupy movement has lit a match not unlike the one struck at Port Huron. To mark the 50th anniversary of Port Huron–and what we hope is the dawn of an enduring youth movement–In These Times asked 14 activists, ranging in age from 21 to 72, including three people who attended the Port Huron convention, to reflect on what that statement offers us today. Their responses follow, preceded by the portion of the statement they found significant. –The Editors

Carl Davidson: “Our Identity as a New Left”

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

This simple but eloquent assertion is what drew me. It defined politics as generational, and given that we were the leading edge of what was being described as the “baby boom” – of coming-of-age youth – we were more generationally conscious than most. The “silenced generation” of the 1950s stood between us and the labor-oriented politics of the 1930s and the popular front politics of the early 1940s. McCarthyism had separated us from deeper roots, leaving us with our own forms of cultural alienation and revolt – the Beat Generation, crossing the color line, the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll – to help shape our identity as a New Left.

Carl Davidson, 68, an activist based in Pittsburgh, was vice president and national secretary of SDS from 1966 to 1968. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13053/the_port_huron_statement_still_radical_at_50

A Civil Solution to Labor’s Problems

from In These Times:

A Civil Solution to Labor’s Problems
The key to reviving U.S. workers’ fortunes may be as simple as amending the Civil Rights Act.

BY Louis Nayman

By the summer of 2009, seven months after the election of Barack Obama and what looked like a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, labor’s campaign to enact the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) had run out of juice. Senators who had co-sponsored the legislation only two years earlier were nowhere to be found when conditions finally seemed to be in place for its passage. As the economy plunged, the administration and erstwhile allies – pounded by the stimulus battle and the gathering storm over healthcare reform – bobbed and weaved to avoid putting serious skin into a fight everyone could plainly see was unwinnable.

The three years following EFCA’s demise were just as discouraging for America’s beleaguered unions. It’s time to reframe how we might think about, communicate and devise a strategy for enacting labor law reform. In Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right: Rebuilding a Middle-Class Democracy by Enhancing Worker Voice (The Century Foundation Press), Richard D. Kahlenberg – the author of the Albert Shanker biography Tough Liberal – and labor and employment discrimination attorney Moshe Z. Marvit do just that.

The injustice EFCA set out to eliminate was the failure of current labor law to protect workers seeking to organize against employer domination and abuse. Workers are routinely subjected to intimidation, threats, captive meetings, interminable administrative delays, coercive one-on-one hectoring by supervisors, demotions, forced transfers and all manner of retaliation including dismissal. Employers, as a matter of standard operating procedure, absorb the law’s miniscule fines for illegal intimidation or retaliation as part of their overhead for quashing organizing drives. Many organizers, as a matter of credibility and conscience, no longer distribute Your Rights Under the Law palm cards to workers, knowing that the penalties for coercive or retaliatory violations under the National Labor Relations Act are virtually unenforceable and serve no deterrent value.

This was why card check – a process that avoids the risks and retaliation of an employer-dominated election campaign by giving workers the right to unionize once a majority have signed union authorization cards – was the solution advanced as EFCA’s centerpiece. But to those unfamiliar with what goes on during a real-life organizing effort, card check appeared to be a solution without a problem. Worse, it was not hard to portray labor’s solution as the triumph of “the union” over the right to a secret ballot. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13010/a_civil_solution_to_labors_problems

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