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May 23, 2010

The Problem with Greenpeace

The tide turns against Greenpeace In a nutshell: Greenpeace activists are loudly opposed to genetically engineered food and are opposed even to testing the food to see if it's safe. And Greenpeace members have been destroying GM crops in England.
Greenpeace anti-GM food activists may well have done the organisation's reputation irreparable damage. In place of the pious deference shown by the British Press to the movement's every word on biotechnology, a consensus is now growing that the mindless vandalism of recent weeks has gone too far. It is not, of course, just the lunatic fringe of Greenpeace that has been hauled before the magistrates to answer charges of criminal damage. The organisation's executive director, Peter Melchett also felt entitled to take the law into his own hands by helping to destroy GM maize on a farm in Norfolk, and was forced to delay a foreign holiday as a result until bail was agreed. If these were just rather eccentric activities, quite characteristic of the English upper classes of which the 4th Baron Melchett is so much a part, then they might be forgiven. But preventing the course of genuine scientific enquiry, which aims to answer the very questions that Greenpeace poses regarding the safety of GM crops, is both mindless and undemocratic. So much so, that another member of England's green aristocracy, the Honourable Sir Jonathan Porritt, Baronet and ex-director of Greenpeace allies Friends of the Earth, condemned the destruction of experimental crops. Friends of the Earth themselves, however, were remarkably silent on the issue, but Helen Browning, chair of the Soil Association which sets standards for organic foods, opined that breaking the law was unjustified.

May 20, 2010

I'm a criminal and so are you

I'm a criminal and so are you - CNN.com
In this country, we force millions of people -- who are largely black and brown -- into a permanent second-class status, simply because they once committed a crime. Once labeled a felon, you are ushered into a parallel social universe. You can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits -- forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind. This kind of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion may befall you for no reason other than you were once caught with drugs. I doubt Barack Obama thinks of himself as a criminal, though he should. He has admitted to using illegal drugs during his college years -- lots, in fact. What if he thought of himself as a criminal? What if he identified that way? Would it lead him to feel a bit more compassion for those who are branded drug felons for life, unable to find work or housing, and deemed ineligible even for food stamps?

May 18, 2010

Medical marijuana has destroyed the livelihood of illegal growers in California

Plummeting Marijuana Prices Create A Panic In California : NPR
"A lot of people were living on welfare and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a long time before pot made it possible to be part of the middle class," Custer says. Nearly 30 years later, Custer says that boom may be over. "Outdoor growers are having a hard time unloading their fall harvest," Custer says. "And this is six months later and when some people do move it, they don't get nearly the price they were hoping for." That goes for both legal growers who cultivate limited quantities of pot under the medical marijuana laws and illegal operators who often grow larger amounts. Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price. "We arrested a man who had … 800 pounds of processed," Allman says. "Eight hundred pounds of processed. And we asked him: 'What are you going to do with 800 pounds of processed?' And he said, 'I don't know.'"

Hey look! Another article on microfarms in Detroit that fails to mention the polluted soil

Detroit leads the way in urban farming - CSMonitor.com For more about Detroit soil pollution and the brownfields problem, check out Dave's bits in this review.
Detroit, which revolutionized manufacturing with its auto assembly lines, could once again be a model for the world as residents transform vacant, often-blighted land into a source of fresh food. With growing interest in locally raised food, cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle are looking at ways to foster and manage urban agriculture. San Francisco's mayor has proposed creating community gardens on vacant public land citywide. But no city seems to have as much potential for urban farming as Detroit, where land is cheap, empty lots are plentiful, and residents are desperate for jobs. The number of community gardens has been growing each year, and bigger, commercial agriculture could be coming as city planners draw up land use rules for farming.