Posts tagged news
Last week, the White House launched the next in its long line of social media engagement initiatives, this one entitled “Your Interview With the President.” The concept was simple, anyone could upload their question to the President on YouTube, others would vote on them, and the highest rated ones would be posed to the Commander in Chief in a Google+ Hangout on January 30th.
This seemed to be a logical opportunity to ask the administration about marijuana legalization. Last Tuesday, I posted NORML’s question to the White House YouTube page for consideration. We asked, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, on marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up marijuana users, isn’t it time to regulate and tax marijuana?”
The reception was overwhelmingly positive, in just several hours the question received over 4,000 “thumbs up” votes and was one of, if not the, most popular question on the service. Then a peculiar thing happened, the question was removed. After becoming the most positively voted upon question in less than a day, the White House removed the question, deeming it “inappropriate.”
We informed our audience of the censorship and encouraged them to engage the White House on their own, using our question or a one of their own choosing. Over the next several days the program was inundated with marijuana law reform questions. At first, many met the same fate as our original question and were removed from the site. It seems our persistence ended up paying off and the page administrator finally gave up trying to censor the incoming questions and most marijuana inquiries have remained up since.
Voting closed last night at midnight and I made some rough calculations of the final results to see how we performed. Of the top 160 questions asked, marijuana reform questions accounted for 105 of them. Reposts of our question brought in an estimated 17,524 up-votes in addition to the 4,028 the original received before being removed. Combined, that is over 21,000 votes for one question, which is 5 times as many votes as any other question on the page. The 105 marijuana reform questions in the top 160 brought in over 74,000 votes, dwarfing any other topic. Our friends at LEAP posted a question as well and it ended as one of the top rated questions. You can read their coverage here.
Now, we wait. “Your Interview With the President” is scheduled to take place tomorrow, January 30th. Considering this is the same individual who previously stated that, “we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws” and that legalization is a “perfectly legitimate topic for debate,” maybe he will take this opportunity to address the issue seriously for once. In an election year, this could go a long way towards winning back those who feel disenfranchised with the administration over a perceived lack of progress on the issue and amped up raids on medical programs in states such as California and Colorado.
Nope! He didn’t address it once, not even as the top rated question. Woo censorship! -.- This is a democracy…remember, Obama? You can’t just ignore the most popular question that you are asked.
Back in January, a noted plant scientist who spent much of his career at Purdue University sent a letter to the USDA informing the agency that he’d discovered a mysterious new disease-causing organism in Monsanto's (MON) genetically engineered Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. Now, that scientist — Don Huber — has written a follow-up letter to the USDA and appears in a videotaped interview where he presents an even scarier picture of the damage he claims Monsanto’s herbicide chemical glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) is doing to both plants and the animals who eat them.
In the 20-minute interview, which was conducted by Food Democracy Now's Dave Murphy, Huber makes a strong case for his own credibility, appearing as a droll, erudite Midwestern scientist with deep connections to corn and soybean growers and livestock farmers. Although Huber’s findings have not yet been verified by outside scientists or published in a peer reviewed journal, the severity of his claims is such that the USDA ought to give them immediate attention.
It’s not the genes, it’s the herbicide
Huber’s issue is not with genetic engineering per se, but with the huge amounts of glyphosate (185 million pounds in 2007) in herbicide now used on America’s farms. Use of glyphosate has soared thanks to widespread use of Monsanto’s soy and corn seeds, which are genetically modified to survive its effects.
The problem with glyphosate, Huber says, is that it effectively "gives a plant AIDS," weakening its defenses and making it more susceptible to pathogens, such as the one his team discovered. The scientists have taken to calling the bug “the electron microscope (EM) organism,” since it can only be seen with an electron microscope.
A big part of the problem, Huber says, lies with the way glyphosate prevents plants from absorbing vital nutrients, particularly the mineral manganese. In the Food Democracy interview, Huber says some studies have shown that Roundup Ready soybeans and corn have up to 50% less manganese than conventional varieties. Huber claims that the double whammy of weakened defenses and the new EM organism have contributed to “unexplained epidemics” of disease on farms — sudden death syndrome of soybean crops and Goss’ wilt on corn…
On January 31st, family farmers will begin the first stage of a court case filed against agro-business powerhouse,Monsanto. The goal of the case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) vs. Monsanto, is to protect the 300,000 organic and non-GMO American farmers from the genetic trespass of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, which contaminate organic crops and often leave farmers vulnerable to harmful patent infringement lawsuits.
Monsanto currently controls the genetics of nearly 90 percent of 5 major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Many farmers who do not use Monsanto seeds have had to stop growing their own crops in order to avoid genetic contamination from those used in fields nearby. According to OSGATA, Monsanto has “created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.”
Food Democracy Now!, an organization working towards building a sustainable food system, says that Monsanto has filed 144 lawsuits against farmers, and settled out of court for undisclosed amounts of money for an additional 700 cases. These lawsuits leave farmers broke and unable to afford the legal costs associated with fighting Monsanto for something beyond their control in the first place.
Click here to learn how you can support these farmers. If you live New York City, you can attend OSGATA’s Citizen’s Assembly on the day of the trial to show farmers that you care about their right to grow crops without fear and the threat of injustice.
SOPA IS DEAD, LONG LIVE SOPA!
For many of us, climate change is an abstract topic, as tedious as a droning Al Gore lecture complete with wonky charts.
But not if you’re a maple farmer in New England. The region has long provided a robust ecological niche for maple trees. But just a few decades of steadily warming weather has changed all that. Once-flourishing trees are shedding leaves too early in the season and producing sub-par sap.
Maple syrup—dark, minerally, its sweetness cut by a caramel edge—surely ranks among the great traditional foods on planet Earth. Climate change means we can no longer take it for granted. If current trends continue, maple syrup production could well be an historical memory by 2100.
I want to be this woman!
The president plans to shrink the Pentagon. But are we just swapping soldiers for drones, contractors, and reserve troops?
In an announcement long on ambition and short on specifics, President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta rolled out a new national security strategy Thursday that aims to drastically downsize the military. “[W]e have the opportunity and the responsibility to look ahead to the force we need for the future,” the president said. His plan, “Sustaining US Global Leadership,” aims to slash troops, fighter jets, and $450 million from the Pentagon bureaucracy. “Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives,” the 16-page plan states…
KCBS reports that a small group of senior citizens between the ages of 69 and 82 successfully shut down a Bank of America in Bernal Heights on Thursday with nothing more than walkers and oxygen tanks. That’s right: No shouting, chanting, tear gas, or window-smashing.
The group, which dubbed itself “Wild Old Women” set up camp right outside the BofA, holding signs in what they were calling “a run on the bank.”
While the protesters said they had no intention (or oxygen) of storming the bank, as occupiers in other communities have done, officials at Bank of America shut the doors and locked them as they spotted the slow-moving group make its way to the front of the bank.
So the seniors took a seat outside the bank where they explained their demands, which were no different than every other occupiers: They want lower fees, and they want the bank to pay higher taxes and stop the foreclosures.