RSS Feed   
  • Latest News:

    Another world is possible
  • Author Archive

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/22/12

    How the 99 percent are cannon fodder for America’s wars

    They are the One Percent who have the best weapons, the best training, and the lion’s share of victories. But when the war is over, One Percent Warriors return home. Once decommissioned, they are no longer triumphant.

    They face free-fall into the group where one out of six people cannot find a full-time job, where mortgages turn to dust along with the houses they had secured, and all the good jobs require the education they do not have. Without their weapons, they control nothing. When the One Percent Warriors arrive home, do they realize that they have spent their tours of duty killing those who mirror themselves: the 99 Percent who Occupy the world? Our enemies have endured lives of vast inequity, where the wealthy control power, corruption assures power, and the military enforces power. Now they are restless, refusing to defer to the One-Percent. Could it happen here?

    Occupy effect on the rich

    When world events show us brewing meltdown (Spain), total meltdown (Greece),  and full blown revolution (Arab Spring), the super wealthy in the U.S. might have imagined a life locked in their Beverly Hills mansions  – afraid to go out into the street and enjoy the culture of Los Angeles. Perhaps they imagined being afraid to even let the servants in to maintain their mansion.

    Also, the harsh realities of Greece’s situation and ensuing austerity measures must have stuck a chord with wealthy investors in this country who realize that if things really fall apart in the U.S. their fortune will take a huge hit.

    So even though it’s for their own well being, which might not seem like the “right reason,” it’s nice to know that the ‘powers that be’ are more open to policy that can assuage the situation that the struggling poverty level citizenry is faced with.

    How Austerity Is Hurting State Economies

    The effect of austerity in Europe has been decidedly detrimental, stifling growth and needlessly prolonging economic pain for the continent’s residents. And in America, many states are doing the exact same thing, slashing spending and laying off workers in an attempt to cope with collapsed revenue.

    As Center for American Progress economist Adam Hersh found, such austerity has been counterproductive for states as well. In fact, the states that have cut spending during the recession have higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of growth, and ultimately fewer private sector jobs. In the median “spending cut” state:

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/22/12” »

    Why Not Trust Monsanto Co?

    © 2012 Josh Sager –

    Open to publishing/distribution with attribution, but no alterations allowed

    The Monsanto Corporation is among the largest pesticide and bio-technical corporations in the world today; their products are used in most sectors of agriculture, public land upkeep, landscaping/gardening and can be found in most markets across the United States.  Monsanto is a multi-billion dollar company with a diverse product base and is among the largest producers of genetically engineered crops. As a company, Monsanto promises to be the creator of new, safer, pesticides as well as stronger bio-engineered crops. Unfortunately, the reality of what Monsanto will deliver to the world is likely very different from what they promise, or what we, as a society, desire.

    Monsanto has produced many products, from new types of pesticide to genetically engineered crops, and has been the center of several severe controversies. In numerous cases, the Monsanto Corporation produced and marketed products which they knew to be potentially toxic, yet they still sold them in order to reap a profit. While not illegal, largely due to Monsanto’s massive lobbying efforts aimed at reducing safety standards (Monsanto Spent $6.3 million dollars in lobbying during the 2011 fiscal year alone – Follow this link for more information on Monsanto’s lobbying), the sale of toxic chemicals for a corporate profit is both highly immoral and very relevant to those in society who wish to assess the use of Monsanto products. Put plainly: Monsanto’s history of selling poison, labeled as a useful product, casts doubt on whether any product that they sell should be trusted (even if they claim it to be entirely safe, they have lied before).

    During its early years, Monsanto was a major producer of PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyl) to be used in various industrial applications. Monsanto was the primary North American supplier of PCBs from the 1930 to the late 1970s, when these chemicals were banned for their highly toxic nature. PCBs, while very stable and good at acting as a liquid insulator, are extremely toxic to virtually all forms of life – they are carcinogenic, highly toxic, and corrosive upon contact with skin or mucus membranes. Even with the mounting evidence of the toxicity of PCBs, Monsanto continued to produce them until they were forced to stop by the government banning all domestic production of PCBs in 1977.

    The Monsanto Corporation has a long and sometimes unfortunate history of creating new and powerful pesticides. The infamous “Agent Orange”, used in Vietnam to destroy jungles, and the powerful pesticide DDT were two of the primary pesticides produced by Monsanto during its early years. While Agent Orange and DDT are now outlawed due to the massive damage they cause human life as well as the environment, Monsanto continued producing them for as long as the law allowed. The gigantic costs to human health and to the environment caused by the sale of Monsanto pesticides, even once they were deemed dangerous to use, resulted in many ruined lives and destroyed ecosystems for society but huge profits for Monsanto.

    Currently, Monsanto is the producer of “Roundup”, a powerful and supposedly safe agricultural pesticide that has been the most common wide-spectrum herbicide for the past several decades. The major active ingredient in Roundup is a glyphosate salt, which makes it highly toxic for most common types of weeds. For added effectiveness, Monsanto has marketed a brand of “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered plants, which are immune to glyphosate salt poisoning, and allow for the use of pesticides during the growing process..

    While not as dangerous as “agent orange” or DDT, there are several serious problems associated with glyphosate pesticide use. Glyphosate pesticides have the potential to breed “super-weeds”, in the same way that antibiotics breed “super-germs”. The pesticide kills all but the strongest pests, leaving the hardiest members of the population to repopulate the area. Eventually, once the weaker pests are culled from the gene pool, “super-weeds” are all that remain; at this point, modern pesticides will become nearly useless and far stronger (and more toxic) ones will need to be employed.

    In addition to their potential to create super-weeds, some studies link glyphosate pesticides to damage to human cells, particularly in fetuses. Glyphosate is considered relatively safe by the FDA (Toxic Class III), but studies have shown that it can be damaging to embryonic and placental cells even if very dilute formulations. The potential danger glyphosate poses to fetuses is particularly worrying when one considers the wide use of the pesticide and the low concentrations necessary to cause harm. In addition to harming certain types of cells in the human body, glyphosate pesticide additives (Ex. the “inactive” ingredients of Roundup) have been shown to accumulate and cause genetic damage on lab rats. While the pesticide additive must be applied in large dosages for it to cause such damage, this raises questions about whether such damage is possible in other mammals (such as humans).

    A large portion of Monsanto’s business is currently in the field of “genetically modified organisms” (otherwise known as GMOs); this simply means that they alter the genetic structures of crops in order to (hopefully) make them more resistant to disease, easier to grow, higher yield, or less susceptible to predation by pests. Unfortunately, GMOs are often plagued by unintended consequences and side effects of genetic modification which make them risky for human consumption. Monsanto has been embroiled in several serious controversies surrounding the safety of their GMO products – namely GE corn and recombinant bovine growth hormone – yet they have consistently continued to sell their goods.

    Just recently, a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences seems to indicate a link between the consumption of Monsanto genetically engineered corn and organ damage (primarily in the liver and kidneys). This damage is consistent with the genetically engineered pesticide utilized by the corn, and seems to refute Monsanto’s claim that the pesticide will degrade long before it is consumed. Despite evidence that Monsanto’s GM corn may cause organ damage in its consumers, they have refused to recall their products. The refusal to recall their potentially toxic corn, in combination with their history of damaging their consumers for a profit, shed considerable doubt upon their care for the health of those who consume their goods.

    The doubts surrounding the safety of Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn are particularly important considering the fact that high fructose corn syrup is a staple ingredient in most processed foods. Monsanto GE “roundup Ready” corn is a primary source for most American high fructose corn syrup, thus any potential harm caused by this corn would likely be enormous.

    Monsanto’s corporate behavior, both historically and currently, demonstrates a prioritization of profits over the safety of their consumers. It is evident that Monsanto will sell products, regardless of whether they may be toxic, for as long as they are legally able to sell them.

    Not only does Monsanto have a pattern of selling toxic goods, but they lobby to prevent these goods from becoming illegal (even after determining their toxicity), thus compounding the harm that they cause society. Monsanto spends millions of dollars a year in lobbying and is a very prolific user of the Washington DC “revolving door” (industry professionals becoming regulators and vice versa).

    Some Monsanto goods may be exactly what they are marketed as – clean and safe agricultural goods – but, given their history of selling dangerous goods, there is little reason for the public to trust in their products. The Monsanto Corporation has proven numerous times that it will sell poison for a personal profit, regardless of the harm which their products inflict upon society; in the absence of regulators sanctioning Monsanto for its negligence, it is up to the public to stand up to Monsanto and call them out for their bad acts.

    The next time you hear the name Monsanto in relation to a good which you are thinking of buying, please reconsider your purchase. It is entirely possible that the food is safe, or even of higher quality than other food, but there is also the very real likelihood that this food will damage your body. Why gamble with your or your family’s, health when there are so many other alternatives to the potentially toxic goods of Monsanto?

    For more information about Monsanto or pesticide damage, please go to one of the following links:

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/21/12

    Occupy Belmont and Social Action Committee plan talk on wealth and income inequality

    Occupy Belmont and the Social Action Committee of the First Church in Belmont are hosting a forum on wealth and income inequality and its social consequences on Monday, June 25, at the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist.

    Marjorie Kelly, author of the new book “Owning our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution,” will be speaking about the economy as it is today, and as it could be.

    She points to a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multi-billion dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, among others, as examples of businesses that eschew typical ownership designs and prosper.

    A conversation about Occupy Wall Street: ‘Making the impossible seem possible’

    Nine months ago Occupy Wall Street set up an encampment in New York’s financial district; an action that served as an ‘opening bell’ for a movement that quickly coursed across the United States and beyond.

    Since then that encampment and others have been violently uprooted by the authorities. At the same time Occupy has largely disappeared from the regular news cycle; replaced by, among other things, the deadening coverage of the U.S. elections. Yet the massive May Day demonstration in New York — with estimates as high as 30,000 people, the largest of its kind perhaps since the 1930s — made clear the underlying discontent that gave rise to this movement is still highly present.

    I wanted to get a better bead on the thinking underlying this movement. So, with my recent interview with David Harvey on his book, Rebel Cities, in hand, I approached the Occupy press team. The result was a conversation with two people who have been with Occupy from its start in September 2011: Peter Rugh, a social justice activist with a focus on environmental issues within the movement, and Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican woman working on the OWS print publication IndigNación, which aims to reach the Latino community.

    Women Are the Biggest Losers from Failure to Raise Minimum Wage

    The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is far too low. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage makes just $15,080 per year, below the poverty line for a family of three. From 1968 to 2010, incomes for the top 1 percent of earners increased by 110 percent, but the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage has fallen by 31 percent. If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.52 per hour today.

    Women are disproportionately harmed by a low minimum wage because women-and especially women of color-are much more likely hold low-wage jobs than men. The typical woman earns 77 cents for every dollar the typical man does, and the fact that women are more likely to be minimum-wage earners than men contributes to that disparity. This gap is especially distressing now that two-thirds of mothers are either the breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families.

    In short, the minimum wage is not just a worker policy-it is also a woman’s policy.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/21/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/20/12

    US ignores UN’s demands to protect Occupy protesters

    The mishandling of peaceful protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement will be discussed this week at the annual UN Human Rights Council meeting when two rapporteurs for the United Nations will make reports.

    Frank La Rue, the UN’s special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the organization’s special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly, will present their reports at this week’s meeting, the twentieth edition of the annual conference. Particularly in focus, though, will be how the United States government has failed to act on requests made by the two experts during the last year to address growing concerns over how law enforcement has acted towards the Occupy movement.

    In one letter sent from the envoys to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the rapporteurs urge the Obama administration to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall.” Elsewhere they say that they’ve been concerned that excessive force waged on protesters “could have been related to [the protesters’] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

    What Part of ‘Austerity Isn’t Working’ Don’t People Get?

    First, some facts. By austerity I mean attacking recession by cutting spending and raising taxes – the opposite of Keynesianism, which dictates that if the private sector isn’t spending enough money to get the economy moving, the government needs to temporarily step in and supply the juice (aka “stimulus”).  Europe and the UK are committed to austerity, and – not coincidentally – they’ve seen growth deteriorate and unemployment jump (to over 20 percent in Greece and Spain).  The figure below, from this excellent – and pretty readable – paper by economist Jay Shambaugh reveals the expected positive correlation between governments that cut spending and slower GDP growth.

    Too bad for Europe, right? But, wait – we’re doing the austerity thing too, cutting spending as stimulus fades and failing to enact jobs measures, such as fiscal relief to cash-strapped state and local governments or public infrastructure investment – measures that appear more necessary with each new, disappointing economic report.

    In a way, our austerity policies are actually less defensible than those in some European countries.  With the price of borrowing so extremely low here, capital markets are basically pleading for our government to borrow and get busy with temporary growth measures.  That’s not happening in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, and for good reason: government debt in those countries is highly risky, and priced accordingly.

    Solitary confinement on trial: senators hear from experts on prison reform

    David C Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union national prison project, said there need to be “durational limits” on the amount of time prisoners can spend in solitary confinement.

    “The US is an outlier, not only in how many people it puts in solitary, but in how long they stay there,” he said. The American Bar Association has recommended that prisoners not be held in solitary confinement for more than one year, while the United Nation’s expert on torture says isolation that lasts more than 15 days can amount to torture.

    With just five percent of the global population and a quarter of the planet’s prisoners, Fahti says the United States is without equal in its use of solitary confinement when compared to other democratic nations.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/20/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/19/12

    Protesters Occupy Entrance of Boston’s 2012 International BIO Convention

    Dressed in contamination suits and waving around boxes of children’s cereal they say are pumped with Genetically Modified Organisms, protesters planted themselves outside of the International BIO Convention Monday to fight against a week-long meeting of mega-companies and biotechnology firms.

    According to the group of activists, some of whom traveled all the way from Washington, D.C., while the “1 percent discusses industry strategies that compromise…biological heritage” inside the convention, protesters planned on educating the public, hosting sidewalk sessions, about pesticides, organic foods and anti-biotech initiatives.

    “We are here to tell them to stop using GMO’s. Stop contaminating our food-we want organic farms, not giant industrial farms poisoning our people,” said Rica Madrid.

    ‘Occupy’ movement to take on World Food Prize

    The Occupy Iowa movement, fresh off the visibility it achieved during the Iowa caucus campaign through January, is setting its sights on the annual World Food Prize held in Des Moines in October.

    Occupy leader Frank Cordaro said the group’s plans during the weeklong Food Prize event are still being put together, but “there will be opportunities for arrest.”

    The Occupy movement will target what Cordaro called “the corporate ownership of the World Food Prize, especially its dominance by genetically modified seed interests.”

    Occupy Will Be Back

    In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest-and there will be one-will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/19/12” »

    Contact us

    Occupy Boston Media <> • <> • @Occupy_Boston