Evil bastards

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone
Last updated at 12:48 AM on 03rd November 2008

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India’s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

India’s Debt-Ridden Farmers Committing Suicide

By Jason Motlagh

Nashik, India — On a recent afternoon, Seetabai Atthre heard a faint cry from the edge of a vineyard that her family has cultivated for more than 40 years. Through the furrows, she found her husband, Vishal, smoldering on the ground next to an empty can of kerosene. He had lit himself on fire and died three days later in a local hospital.0323 02 1

Atthre attributes her husband’s suicide to a $5,600 debt. The farm located on the arid plains of northern Maharashtra state near the town of Nashik had not turned a profit in more than two years, and 65-year-old Vishal could no longer secure a bank loan to pay off interest on the debt.”This is wrong, and it’s killing us,” Sanjay Gangode said at a gathering of debt-ridden grape farmers in the region. “There is no future here.”

While India’s economy surges forward on the crest of globalization, thousands of farmers are taking their own lives every year to escape mounting debt and an uncertain future. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, at least 87,567 farmers committed suicide between 2002 and 2006. In Maharashtra state, there were 4,453 suicides in 2006, the last year for which statistics were made available, an increase of 527 compared with 2005. Sharp increases have also been reported in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states.

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Do you know what is in your food?
Is it genetically engineered?

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why don’t the food manufacturers and the biotech companies want you to know if your foods have been genetically engineered?

Answer: Because if they are labeled, you will start asking questions such as “Have these genetically engineered foods been safety tested on humans?” The answer to that question is NO!


Question: Doesn’t the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require genetically engineered foods to be safety tested like they do for new drugs and food additives before they are sold to the public for consumption?

Answer: NO! With limited exceptions, under current FDA regulations, companies are not even required to notify the agency they are bringing new genetically engineered products to the market.


Question: How much of the food I buy in the grocery stores contain genetically engineered ingredients?

Answer: Since genetically engineered soy and corn are used in many processed foods, it is estimated that over 70 percent of the foods in grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada contain genetically engineered ingredients.


Question: Are people all over the world eating genetically engineered foods?

Answer: No, all of the European Union nations, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries require the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. As a result, food manufacturers in all those countries choose to use non-genetically engineered ingredients.

The Campaign

Bank on America

Bank on this.

Bank on this.

 

Community-based movements to halt the flood of foreclosures have been building across the country. They turned out in Cleveland once again in October, when a coalition of grassroots housing groups rallied outside the Cuyahoga County courthouse, calling for a foreclosure freeze and constructing a mock graveyard of Styrofoam headstones bearing the names of local communities decimated by the housing crisis. (They did not, unfortunately, stop the more than 1,000 foreclosure filings in the county the following month.) In Boston the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America began protesting in front of Countrywide Financial offices in October 2007. Within weeks, Countrywide had agreed to work with the group to renegotiate loans. In Philadelphia ACORN and other community organizations helped to pressure the city council to order the county sheriff to halt foreclosure auctions this past March. Philadelphia has since implemented a program mandating “conciliation conferences” between defaulting homeowners and lenders. ACORN organizers say the program has a 78 percent success rate at keeping people in their homes. One activist group in Miami has taken a more direct approach to the crisis, housing homeless families in abandoned bank-owned homes without waiting for government permission.

It’s unlikely, though, that any of these activists will be able to relax soon. 

The Nation

 

When I was a lad, I ran off to San Francisco, like hippies from all over, to be free and unconventional and rid of the whole corporate America trip.

I ended up working at the Bank of America, thanks to a pink collar stoner chick who fudged my typing test.

While working at their headquarters, I learned about the proud heritage of the bank, which had rebuilt San Francisco in the early 20th century, in the wake of its great earthquake. 

Today, of course, bankers are universally regarded as monuments to heroic greed, spectacular corruption and epic incompetence–one short step above child molesters on the social scale. Adrift in their bubbles, intoxicated by their own emissions, only they remain unaware of this downward turn in public perception.

When a reporter for the AP politely asked them what they were doing with billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ bailout ransom, they sniffily replied to this effect: “Listen, you tawdry little man–we don’t give a fig about you and your shabby readers. We have parties to attend. Kindly pay up and shut up. Then find your way out.”

Men have short memories. It wasn’t so long ago in the long view of history that, faced with a similar situation, the rabble roused themselves in the streets of Paris and handed the nobility their heads. Good times.

Today, gun shops can’t keep up with demand.

Being a peaceful sort and averse to noise, I got to thinking that maybe it doesn’t have to come to bloodshed and armed insurrection.

Is it conceivable that bankers today are capable, if only in theory, of once again doing the right thing? Could they ever, even in an imagined world, earn their fat paychecks and lead us out of the mess that is largely their own creation? 

Trying to wrap my head around that wild notion, I am once again transported back to a more innocent era.

All across the nation

Such a strange vibration …

 

 

 


Letter to a friend

Here’s an item from today’s Washington Post that might interest you.

Sorry to hear you have to lay off people — that’s a hellish amount of stress on all sides. On the other hand, I’m glad it’s you and not some heartless bastard who will make the situation even worse and possibly cause the other party to go postal.

I look around me when I’m out running errands and I see lots of people whose faces are frozen masks of pain, anger and resentment. A reporter on a news program recently said how the people he interviews on the street are incensed at what’s been going on — and that the anger is beginning to turn to fear. Not good.

Entering “multiple robberies” on Google News returns pages and pages of results.

So, yes, you’re quite right about the possibility of a severe recession and that would be bad enough — add in all the effects of economic distress and … Well, you get the picture. Not to add to your troubles, but … forewarned is forearmed, right?

On the other hand, I’m mindful of the danger of self-fulfilling prophecies and of the fact that what happens tomorrow depends on what we do today.

As for me, I try to do everything I can to buck people up — including myself, ‘cuz it’s hard to be around people who are stressed out without absorbing some of their distress. Humor and kindness can work wonders, of course, as can helping people vent so that they can move past their anger toward problem-solving.

Do you know about all the networking sites like ecademy and LinkedIn? They’re among the oldest and the best of their kind — like Facebook, for adults, they can go a long way toward helping the unemployed find new opportunities and also alleviate social isolation, with all the problems that brings.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day. Please take good care of yourself, OK?

The social cont(r)act

Money is where the rubber of economic theory meets the road of mundane reality.

At once a tangible thing — be it paper, coins, checks, credit cards — money is also an abstraction, standing in for, representing all those goods and services we value.

Money is emblematic of the social contract — the often tacit arrangement whereby we live, the agreement we enter into as citizens of a nation, as members of a people, and made explicit in another, yet larger, set of abstractions which govern our lives, the law.

We are in the middle of a financial crisis and so these issues come to the fore.

Further urgency arises from the ongong environmental disasters that threaten to undo our civilization as a consequence of global warming.

The entire contract, I submit, is due to be renegotiated.

Like so many others around the world, I am deeply heartened by our recent election of a man who truly understands the magnitude of the problems before us.

As brilliantly capable as he clearly is, however, Obama is just one man and the issues before us are global in scale, requiring all who can to shoulder a share of the burden.

Having recognized the problems facing us, we have taken a crucial first step.

How best to proceed?

We need to put our heads together and pool our vast wealth of personal intelligence, talent, energy and expertise — and so achieve a consensus as to what our next steps must be.

So saying, I am offering a letter from an old friend whose wisdom I have often relied on, as a contribution to a truly planetary dialog already unfolding:

Yes, I am aware of the multiplier effect and I knew the use of statistics would be problematic for some, but I’ve always been an odd duck that likes to juxtapose emotional situations with empirical evidence and, conversely, “hard facts” with emotions.  Regardless, my point is that I don’t think governmental fiscal policy should be used in a surgical manner to fix an immediate problem without considering the whole economy and the long-term first.

If we decide the problem with our economy is basically ‘how do we get people and goods from Point A to Point B,’ why not factor in the whole of the transportation sector?  Wouldn’t a fiscal intervention program that is focused on a target model in (say) 30 years be more appropriate?  Then we can look at the mix of known transportation networks (water, land and air) to begin a more comprehensive project.  Regardless of how we feel about our auto industry (or France, its agricultural) maybe its time for an infusion of $50B into the light rail or steel industries instead.  I believe that Americans also have emotional investments in those areas of manufacturing as well.  Why fix the symptom before we have an opportunity to diagnose the disease?

On another note, I liked Clinton’s plan of somehow relaxing credit to allow more (marginal) families the opportunity to purchase homes in the late 1990’s; and Bush’s more deregulated banking, finance and insurance ideas, but the two didn’t work well in conjunction with one another.  In Clinton’s case many of the marginal new property owners were our best renters.  By removing the cream of the renters we undercut the small real estate investor.  As it became harder to find solid renters many middle class investors moved back into the financial markets creating an overvalued bubble effect which will right itself.  In Bush’s case the effective deregulation of the banking industry – through lax oversight, expansion of services offered by financial institutions and no push for stricter new regulations – allowed many to engage in “the bigger fool theory” that property values always rise.

Again, a longer term approach to what our objectives are might be helpful in aligning both fiscal and regulatory policy with the direction of the society.  I’m beginning to feel as though “free markets” need to be constrained in economic and market terms as “free will” is constrained in spiritual and social terms.

From my simple perspective I note that in the last twenty years I have operated small businesses (we now have 32 employees) our insurance (50% is health care, 75% including workers compensation insurance) has risen from .5% to 3.5% of gross sales and our banking and finance charges have risen from .25% to 2.75%.  On the national level health care has increased from 2% GDP to 15% GDP (not to be confused with health care insurance costs).  I can only assume that Americans value our health 7.5 times as much as the generation before this.  Are we willing to value it double within the next twenty years?  Oops, there are those statistics again.  At any rate, at what point do we stop looking for victims (sorry to you trial lawyers and malpractice insurance people) and start recognizing that we are mortal and that it is economically, socially and ethically detrimental to prolong life at every cost?  What does the “the bigger fool theory” look like in the health care industry?

Stop, you’re killing me

Letter to a friend:

As you have rightly intuited, the inflammatory politics is merely symptomatic of a larger crisis — the end of the time we know and the beginning of another — as presaged by war, famine, fire, flood and reality TV.

This just in:

NATIONAL (NBC ) – Does the financial crisis have you feeling stressed out? Well, you’re not alone.

A newly released survey by the American Psychological Association shows the declining economy is causing stress levels to skyrocket.

The annual report takes a look at the stress level of Americans, and this year, stress is on the rise.

As things get worse on Wall Street, it seems Americans are hitting the wall. They’re stressed out and letting it show.

Dr. Katherine Nordal, the Executive Director for Professional Practice, says they have “irritability, depression, sleeplessness, problems concentrating…”

A new survey by the American Psychological Association finds eight out of ten Americans say the economy is now a significant source of stress.

Almost half say their stress has increased in the past year and they are now increasingly worried about their ability to provide even their families basic needs.

Dr. Nordal says, “What we’re seeing is more and more people coming in because they are more stressed about financial situations, having homes foreclosed on.”

According to the survey, women are being hit the hardest, feeling more stress than men about money, the economy, job stability, housing costs and health problems.

Since I’m the canary in the coal mine when it comes to stress, I can tell you with an uncertain amount of authority that exercise, rest, vitamins, meditation, prayer, soothing music and talking things over with trusted friends are all terrific for smoothing you out. Humor, where appropriate, can also work wonders.

That said, the sheer numbers of wobbling blobs of bobbling blubber among us — I speak, of course, of our fellow Americans — tell us that not everyone “gets” this. We therefore have a lot on our plate. Not as much as them, but you see my point.

The foregoing does not cover all those who resort to drugs and alcohol, of course, who can be counted upon to spiral out into all sorts of lunacy, not all of them comical.

You can, again, mightily empower yourself, being such a good ear and wise counsel, by helping others at this time of crisis, always bearing in mind the final temptation.

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

My love to you and the gang!

Our transcendent splendor,

Brian J. Flanagan

… the heavens fall.

You got a problem with that.

You got a problem with that.

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. (Napoleon)

The global financial crisis is set to get worse, with a large US bank likely to collapse in the next few months, a former IMF chief economist has warned.

Kenneth Rogoff’s comments came as shares in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sank on a report that the home lenders would, in effect, be nationalised.

Despite hopes that the US economy had turned the corner, Mr Rogoff claimed it was “not out of the woods”.

“I would even go further to say ‘the worst is to come’,” he said.

“We’re not just going to see mid-sized banks go under in the next few months,” said Mr Rogoff, who held the IMF role between 2001 and 2004.

“We’re going to see a whopper, we’re going to see a big one, one of the big investment banks or big banks.”

BBC

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Meet the rich
The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever. But that doesn’t seem to bother Britain’s wealthiest earners. In an extract from their new book, Polly Toynbee and David Walker describe the jaw-dropping arrogance they encountered when they asked some of the fat cats to justify their lives of luxury.

From the marbled 20th floor of a glass tower in Canary Wharf the view of the river is breathtaking. It snakes down to the Thames barrier, glinting in the sunset. Close to the new city lie the serried ranks of East End estate blocks. The view is typical of London: glossy new wealth nestling close to old and persisting penury. Precious little money has trickled down from this gilded new town in the sky to its neighbours below.

Unjust Rewards

The view is a reminder of the widening gap. History, many like to believe, is a Whiggish tale of wealth, social progress and fairer distribution, an onward march: we all wear the same clothes, meet on equal terms on Facebook. Yet background predicts who will run the banks and who will clean their floors. It’s not happenstance; it is largely pre-programmed. General mobility is a myth. The top 10% of income earners get 27.3% of the cake, while the bottom 10% get just 2.6%. Twenty years ago the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company earned 17 times the average employee’s pay; now it is more than 75 times.

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Not Keeping Up With Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

by Nan Mooney

From Publishers Weekly
Young people who were raised to believe that a college education guarantees them a spot in the middle class are instead grappling with rising levels of debt, stagnant wages and ballooning basic expenses, argues Mooney, [who] suggests that college graduates who choose creative or service professions, such as journalism, teaching and social work, generally find themselves in low-paying jobs that, paradoxically, require high-priced educations and even graduate degrees. The struggle to pay off student loans sets off a spiral of financial insecurity, as these educated professionals face escalating costs for housing, health insurance and child care.