jueves, junio 30, 2011

Scary analysis by Michael T Klare

A 30-year war for energy preeminence? You wouldn’t wish it even on a desperate planet. But that’s where we’re headed and there’s no turning back.

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Oakland Inst investigates shady Land Investment Deals in Africa


The Oakland Institute Reporter

Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa

Dear friends and supporters of the Oakland Institute,

On June 8, 2011, Oakland Institute presented to the media the first round of OI's newly released research on land investment deals in Africa. This included 3 country reports on Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Mali along with several Briefs on specific land deals. A separate launch for the country report on Sierra Leone was organized by our partner Green Scenery (http://www.greenscenery.org) and for the country report on Ethiopia by the Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia SMNE (www.solidaritymovement.org). The launch of this work has generated much national/international interest.

As land grabs in Africa continue to occur amidst secrecy and lack of transparency, OI is glad to have helped unmask some of the players in these harmful deals and shine a light on the disturbing details with ground-breaking research. To have an overview of key findings, please see Frequently Asked Questions on Food Security and Western Investors at http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/special-investigation-understanding-land-investment-deals-africa

We are glad that our work has not gone unnoticed. To date we have been able to reach multitudes, citizens and law makers around the world, with this important information. We appeared on CNN International; were on the home page of the Guardian; were the most read story on BBC World; and the Institute's African land grab story has been covered by thousands of media outlets around the world including coverage by CBC, CBS News, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Le Monde, Les Echos, Le Temps, Huffington Post, Toronto Star, The Hindu, Modern Ghana, Radio Dubai... More important, it has been a key story in African media and the blogging community, giving voice to communities who are demanding explanations for the theft of their lands.

To see Featured Media Coverage of Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa visit http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deals-africa/media

You can view and download reports, land deal briefs, as well as contracts and additional materials at:

Our sincere hope is that our work will assist civil society organizations, farmer groups, media, and all concerned individuals who have been working to challenge the sale and lease of agricultural lands in poor developing nations to rich investors.

We are grateful to all individuals, supporters, and partners who have joined us in this important work.


The OI team

p.s. In the coming months we will be releasing additional country reports, Briefs on land deals and investors involved. So stay tuned!


Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.


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My article published in Scotland, a big thank you to Mike Small


North and South, Ecology and Justice

By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero. Carmelo’s essay is available to view, print or download via Scribd at the end of the online article. You can go here to follow Bella on Scribd. A selection of our longer pieces will be available each month.

The movements for ecology and justice face a particular set of opportunities and perils at the start of the second decade of the 21st century. Those who seek to transform North-South relations to advance sustainability and the eradication of poverty and hunger would do good to re-examine and take a fresh new look at the ideas and concepts espoused by what we could call Third World militancy during the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s. The goal of this “third world movement”, so to speak, was to engage rich and poor countries in a North-South dialogue that would lead to a new order based on multilateralism and genuine international cooperation. This endeavor must be not only resumed but also modernized and updated to take account of new global realities, like climate change, peak oil, the food crisis, the global economic debacle, and human disasters of untold proportions like the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear emergency.

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martes, junio 28, 2011

GRAIN: Sanidad alimentaria para quién

Novedades de GRAIN | 18 de junio 2011

Sanidad alimentaria para quién - La opulencia de las corporaciones contra la salud de la gente

En 2009, 200 mil kilos de carne contaminada con una letal bacteria resistente a los antibióticos llegaron hasta los niños de muchas escuelas estadounidenses, antes de que la segunda empacadora más grande del país lograra requisar la carne envenenada. Un año antes, en China, seis bebés murieron y 300 mil más se enfermaron de gravedad con afecciones renales cuando uno de los principales productores de lácteos, a sabiendas, permitió que se le introdujera un químico industrial a sus reservas de leche. Por todo el mundo, la gente enferma y muere como nunca antes a causa de la comida que ingiere. Los gobiernos y las corporaciones responden con toda clase de normas y regulaciones, pero pocas de éstas tienen algo que ver con la salud pública. Los acuerdos comerciales, las leyes y los estándares privados, que se utilizan para imponer esta versión de la "inocuidad alimentaria" únicamente consolidan más los sistemas alimentarios corporativos que nos enferman, mientras devastan los sistemas alimentarios locales, comunitarios, que en verdad nos alimentan y cuidan de la gente, que están basados en la biodiversidad, los saberes tradicionales y el comercio o intercambio a nivel local. La gente resiste, sea con movimientos contra los transgénicos en Benin o contra la enfermedad de las "vacas locas" en Corea, o mediante campañas para defender a los vendedores callejeros en India y la leche sin pasteurizar en Colombia. La cuestión de quién define la "sanidad o inocuidad alimentaria" se vuelve más y más central en la lucha por el futuro de la alimentación y la agricultura.

Lea el texto íntegro de este Documento de análisis aquí: http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=224

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viernes, junio 24, 2011

Petras tiene razón

Cuando se produzca una nueva ruptura ¿podrá contar Chávez con el apoyo de los militantes que han sido encarcelados, los movimientos populares que ha apartado a un lado y los movimientos e intelectuales internacionales que ha calumniado?

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Great MoJo article on the economy and plain folks like you and me

"Even among college grads, unemployment is twice what it was in 2007, and those statistics don't take note of all the B.A.'s stocking shelves and answering phones. McDonald's recently announced that it had gotten more than a million applicants for 62,000 new positions."
You: doing more with less. Corporate profits: Up 22 percent. The dirty secret of the jobless recovery.

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jueves, junio 23, 2011

Evo, defensor de...?

¿Evo defensor de la Pachamama o mayordomo de Monsanto?

SENA-Fobomade *

El gobierno del “primer presidente indígena” quiere aprobar una Ley que autoriza el cultivo de organismos genéticamente modificados (OGM) por primera vez en Bolivia. ¿Cómo puede el Defensor Mundial de la Madre Tierra abogar por un negocio antinatural que solo beneficia a un puñado de agroindustriales y transnacionales como Monsanto, que monopoliza el comercio de transgénicos?, pregunta consternado el movimiento ecologista internacional.

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Dangerous toxins in GM plants

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AT: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/1412

Jeffrey Smith The world’s leading consumer advocate promoting healthier, non-GMO choices Posted on May 25, 2011

Dangerous Toxins From Genetically Modified Plants Found in Women and Fetuses

Watch this two minute video, Double Dipping Danger, produced by Alex Bogusky, and then read about new evidence below showing even more harm from genetically modified foods. Click HERE to play.

When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto’s genetically modified “Bt” corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That’s what it was designed to do. The corn’s DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bt-toxin. It’s a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

But Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore up and down that it was only insects that would be hurt. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of us trusting corn-eating consumers.

Oops. A study just proved them wrong.

Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn’s Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women.i (Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.) The study has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology.

According to the UK Daily Mail, this study, which “appears to blow a hole in” safety claims, “has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for genetically modified (GM) crops and food.” Organizations from England to New Zealand are now calling for investigations and for GM crops to be halted due to the serious implications of this finding.

Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders

There’s already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood supply, and that is passes through the placenta into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.

In government-sponsored research in Italyii, mice fed Monsanto’s Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses. Their elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, for example, are typically associated with allergies and infections. The mice had an increase in cytokines, which are associated with “allergic and inflammatory responses.” The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer (see chart).

Elevated interleukins Associations
IL-6 Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer (multiple myeloma and prostate cancer)
IL-13 Allergy, allergic rhinitis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
MIP-1b Autoimmune disease and colitis.
IL-12p70 Inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis

The young mice in the study also had elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases. The Bt corn that was fed to these mice, MON 810, produced the same Bt-toxin that was found in the blood of women and fetuses.

When rats were fed another of Monsanto’s Bt corn varieties called MON 863, their immune systems were also activated, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys.iii

Natural Bt is dangerous

Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years. But they spray it on plants, where it washes off and biodegrades in sunlight. The GM version is built-in; every plant cell has its own spray bottle. The toxin doesn’t wash off; it’s consumed. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray; is designed to be even more toxic; and has properties of known allergens—it actually fails the World Health Organization’s allergen screening tests.iv

The biotech companies ignore the substantial difference between the GM toxin and the natural bacteria version, and boldly claim that since the natural spray has a history of safe use in agriculture, it’s therefore OK to put the poison directly into our food. But even this claim of safe use of Bt spray ignores peer-reviewed studies showing just the opposite.

When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxinv, and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless.vi Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses.vii The EPA’s own expert Scientific Advisory Panel said that these mouse and farm worker studies “suggest that Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources.”viii But the EPA ignored the warnings. They also overlooked studiesix showing that about 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths.

Bt cotton linked to human allergies, animal deaths

Indian farm workers are suffering from rashes and itching and other symptoms after coming into contact with Bt cotton.

Now thousands of Indian farm laborers are suffering from the same allergic and flu-like symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest simply from handling genetically engineered cotton plants that produce Bt-toxin. According to reports and records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, workers are struggling with constant itching and rashes; some take antihistamines every day in order to go to work.

It gets worse.

All thirteen buffalo of a small Indian village died after grazing for a single day on Bt cotton plants.

When they allow livestock to graze on the Bt cotton plants after harvest, thousands of sheep, goats, and buffalo died. Numerous others got sick. I visited one village where for seven to eight years they allowed their buffalo to graze on natural cotton plants without incident. But on January 3rd, 2008, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze on Bt cotton plants for the first time. After just one day’s exposure, all died. The village also lost 26 goats and sheep.

One small study in Andhra Pradesh reported that all six sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants died within a month, while the three controls fed natural cotton plants showed no adverse symptoms.

Living pesticide factories inside us?

Getting back to the Bt-toxin now circulating in the blood of North American adults and newborns—how did it get there? The study authors speculate that it was consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class. They even suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn—as most livestock are.

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lunes, junio 20, 2011

Indignación apenas comienza

Las marchas de los ‘indignados’ copan pacíficamente Barcelona y Madrid

uno de los momentos de la protesta en Madrid (REUTERS)

Tomado del blog catalán CRISIS ENERGETICA:

Artículo publicado en sostenible.cat (y que personalmente dedico a Arcadi Oliveras, presidente de Justicia i Pau, activista incansable que últimamente ha sido blanco de amenazas por parte del consejero de interior del gobierno catalán por decir en voz alta lo que muchos sospechamos, que los mando policiales actuan con métodos mafiosos con el objetivo de desprestigiar el movimiento 15M y justificar el uso de la violencia):

El desafío es enorme, posiblemente el mayor en la historia de la humanidad, reconocer los límites al crecimiento en un planeta plagado de desigualdades, en el que apenas 900 millones de personas dejan sin futuro con su consumo cotidiano a los 6.100 millones restantes no es una tarea fácil. Ni siquiera la mayoría de la izquierda, teóricamente más sensible a las protestas, ha interiorizado la nueva realidad y piensa que aún se puede domar desde dentro al sistema, y que la eficiencia y los mercados volverán a ensanchar los horizontes del crecimiento, y con ellos la esperanza de que el pastel aumente de tamaño y de un respiro a los que menos tienen. El día que la izquierda vuelva a hablar de repartir la riqueza de verdad quizás vuelva a ser digna de ese nombre.

Ciertamente el movimiento del 15M es de lo más importante que ha pasado en este país y me atrevería a decir que en el mundo, en los últimos años, con todos sus problemas, contradicciones, carencias, una explosión de conciencia ciudadana, capaz de llevar la protesta a las calles de manera mayoritariamente pacífica, sin líderes ni partidos empujando detrás, solo con los medios que proporciona Internet y mucho, mucho voluntarismo (del que no necesita un ordenador para existir).

Entre las "carencias" (y es una opinión personal fácilmente entendible desde mi posición de editor de esta web y presidente de AEREN) de este movimiento está quizás la de no colocar en una posición predominante entre las causas de la situación actual el deterioro ecológico (y social, por parafrasear el título de un excelente libro de José Luis Naredo). De manera muy resumida y casi precipitada es lo que intento transmitir en este artículo. Que ante los problemas por continuar con el crecimiento causados por los límites físicos (tanto en suministro, petróleo, como en sumideros, CO2), la cleptocracia que rige los destinos económicos del planeta ha optado por pisar a fondo el acelerador, profundizando en las desigualdades, y aguzando la imaginación con un único objetivo: que la parte del pastel que ellos consideran como legítima y a la que no están dispuestos a renunciar, no decrezca, aunque para ello tengan que hundir países enteros y destruir la frágil paz social que permitía ese remedo de progreso avalado por las cifras del PIB.

Por eso he creído necesario escribir este artículo, porque en las raíces de todo está lo más básico, la energía, los recursos, sin ellos, incluso si aceptamos transitar por el camino más austero, no hay nada de todo lo demás. Aún hay muchas más cosas que explicar, que acabar con las injusticias y con las desigualdades no será suficiente, que acabar con los ladrones no traerá inmediatamente de vuelta el "paraiso del consumo". Que la indignación aquí tiene que escuchar a otra indignación muda hasta ahora, la de cientos de millones de personas que viven en la precariedad para que nosotros podamos comprar mierda barata, que no habrá paz de ningún tipo sin justicia verdadera. Que para que este movimiento triunfe hemos de dejar de mirarnos el ombligo y entender lo que está en juego: es necesario internacionalizar el movimiento y poner de manifiesto la situación energética y ecológica, sin la comprensión y el compromiso internacional será imposible "arreglar" esto, corremos el riesgo, una vez más, de que estos problemas desemboquen no en solidaridad internacional y compromiso, sino en nuevos fascismos que con sus dedos acusadores jueguen a asegurar un miserable e insostenible statu quo a costa, de nuevo, de los más débiles.


Un grupo de "indignados" salen de Valencia para marchar hasta Madrid. Foto: Reuters

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Spain's "indignados", by Dan Schechter

The “indignados” exercise an enormous amount of moral authority as they talk about issues in personal ways, free of political rhetoric and bombast. They politicize by example, not by throwing slogans around. They act in a post-partisan manner.

Though the anti-austerity protests in Greece have grabbed most of the international attention, a similar movement – rejecting neo-liberal economics and challenging the traditional political elites – has emerged in the much larger nation of Spain, as Danny Schechter observed during a recent visit.

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Unions take on Huffington Post

‎'Unions are looking to intensify their campaign against the Huffington Post. The National Writers has recently hired on a full-time staffer to focus specifically on the campaign against the Huffington Post. Some union members are demanding that their unions put more pressure on progressives...

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domingo, junio 19, 2011

Go, Van Jones, GO!


About the American Dream Movement

Save the American Dream

We grew up hearing about the American Dream. It’s the dream of a country where, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can live with dignity, provide for your family, and give your kids a better life. A country where we strive for greatness–and take care of each other when times get hard.

Right now the American Dream is under siege. Tens of millions of willing workers can’t find jobs. Millions of homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure and millions more are underwater. Instead of investing in our shared future, politicians are giving tax breaks to the rich and then slashing vital services families depend on. Rather than expanding protections for the middle class during these difficult economic times, they’re trying to gut workers’ rights.

But a new movement is rising all across America to fight back.

It was born among the teachers, students, firefighters and nurses of Wisconsin who took over their Capitol to stop to Governor Walker’s power grab. Now it’s spreading as millions of other Americans–inspired by the events in Madison, Wisconsin–stand up to say “No” to right-wing attacks on the middle class.

Van Jones

Van Jones called this new wave of energy the “American Dream Movement.” It’s growing stronger by the day, and it’s not going away until Americans can find jobs, afford to go to college, retire with dignity, and secure a future for their children and their communities.

On Thursday, June 23rd, Van Jones will be joined by The Roots, artist/DJ Shepard Fairey, and other celebrity guests in New York City to kick off the movement to rebuild the American Dream. No matter where you live in America, you can join. We’ll be livestreaming the event on this page: www.rebuildthedream.com. Please spread the word to your friends, families and neighbors.

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Italian voters teach Berlusconi a lesson

"This was a vote that went far beyond parochial Italian politics: a vote in which citizens had their say on how to manage natural resources and energy policy, a vote against the neoliberal axiom that “private is better,” against industry lobbies and powerful insiders with euro signs in their eyes, against the view that some of us are more equal than others."
In a decisive set of referendums, Italian voters have rejected legal immunity for political leaders, nuclear power and the privatization of water—and dealt a direct blow not only against Berlusconi but against the neoliberal worship of the market.

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Jewish exodus from Israel

"There have been studies originating both in Israel and abroad that show “as many as half of the Jews living in Israel will consider leaving … if in the next few years the current political and social trends continue.”

Hard-line Israelis reject the idea of reasonable compromises for peace, arguing that any significant concessions to Palestinian sovereignty would threaten Israel’s security or the Zionist cause, but Lawrence Davidson notes that demographic trends, including a growing Jewish exodus from Israel.

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Bolivia: Transgénicos por encargo


Patricia Molina/FOBOMADE

El 2005, el gobierno del entonces presidente Carlos Mesa aprobó la producción y comercialización de soya transgénica resistente al herbicida glifosato. Para ello tuvo que pedir a la policía que desaloje a periodistas y representantes de organizaciones campesinas que se hicieron presentes en el Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible, durante la reunión del Comité de Bioseguridad, entidad responsable de tal aprobación. Habían pasado 8 años desde que fue presentada la primera solicitud por Monsanto mientras nuevas solicitudes de ANAPO y FUNDACRUZ pretendían burlar las resistencias.

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jueves, junio 16, 2011

Victoria en Italia!

informa A SUD


"Ganamos. Esta es una victoria de todas y todos. De tod@s las personas que quieren que el agua sea un bien común, un derecho y no una mercancía. De tod@s quienes creen que la justicia tiene que ser igual para tod@s, que creen que es posible una democracia diferente, real, que devuelva a la ciudadanía la facultad de decidir sobre sus vidas". Un grito que se oyó durante todo el día de ayer en la plaza Bocca della Verità (Boca de la Verdad) de Roma. Esta plaza, llena ya por la mañana, esperaba que se alcanzara y sobrepasara el quorum, esperaba que la utopía se volviera en realidad.

El domingo 12 y el lunes 13 de junio tuvieron lugar los comicios para los cuatro referéndum: dos contra la privatización del agua, dos contra el retorno de la energía nuclear, uno sobre el "justo impedimento", la inmunidad parlamentaria, que permite al Presidente del Consejo y a los Ministros que eludan los juicios durante del mandato.

Una victoria histórica para la sociedad civil

A través de una movilización constante e irruptiva, conseguimos una victoria histórica para los movimientos sociales y el país. Una victoria sin precedentes, que abre de nuevo un espacio inesperado pero necesario para volver a escribir el futuro desde la defensa del bien común, los derechos de tod@s y non los intereses de algun@s.

Las cifras hablan por sí mismas: 27 millones de italian@s, un 57% del censó acudió a las urnas votando en un 95% que sí. La victoria no está en la televisión, está en la calle. La victoria es de los comités locales de toda la península que durante meses (o mejor, años) sensibilizan, van de puerta a puerta, debaten de los temas objetos del referéndum y de las razones del sí. La victoria es de la sociedad civil que no quedó dormida, que levantó la cabeza mientras quien manda intentó decapitar la convocatoria. Es la nuestra victoria, el comienzo de una manera nueva de hacer política: participada y común.

Plaza Boca de la Verdad ha sido la plaza de los comités referendarios, que se reunieron a las once esperando los resultados. Un poco más tarde de las tres del mediodía, cuando llegó el resultado oficial de la participación, la plaza grito de euforia.

Nosotr@s estábamos allí, junt@s con quienes lucharon para que este increible resultado fuera posible. Nosotr@s estuvimos allí desde el comienzo, porqué creemos que los bienes comunes y la democracia deben de defenderse. Allí estaremos, también porqué esta histórica victoria historica es un nuevo comienzo, lo repetimos.

En una de las entrevistas escuchadas ayer, el vocero portavoz de A Sud Giuseppe De Marzo dijo: "Las italianas y los italianos reafirmaron un principio fundamental que parecía perdido durante los últimos 20 años: los derechos de tod@s se anteponen a los intereses de un@s. Y la otra grande enseñanza que deproporciona este referendum es que l'Italia ha elegido un modelo de desarrollo diferente del promovido por los agentes políticos. Un modelo social y económico fundado sobre la sostenibilidad ambiental y la defensa de los bienes comunes, una verdadera y justa revolución cultural que determina una nueva era nueva. No fueron suficientes las llamadas para eludir los comicios, el boicot de los medios de comunicación y las muchas mentiras de los lobbies nucleares y a favor de la privatización del agua. 27 millones de italian@s decidieron dar media vuelta, mirando al futuro en vez que al pasado. Hoy es un gran día para tod@s. Italia ganó"

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Bolivia: Privatización de semillas, invasión transgénica

"Con la privatización de las semillas, los grandes laboratorios mundiales, propiedad de las transnacionales, se convertirán en dueños de las semillas. Podrán manipular sus precios subiéndolos o cortando su distribución. Pasaremos a depender de ellas."
Los movimientos sociales tienen en su haber grandes batallas en su pasado histórico, pero sobretodo en el periodo neoliberal. Se luchó contra la venta de las empresas estatales y contra la capitalización que ...

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martes, junio 14, 2011

Pentagon Papers: How IPS helped Ellsberg

The Pentagon Papers, top secret Defense Department documents that were leaked during the Vietnam War, are finally declassified. The documents shocked the U.S. public at the time of their release 40 years ago, and helped end the Vietnam War. Just like today's WikiLeaks revelations, the Pentagon Papers helped to wake people up to the falsehoods and atrocities of our overseas wars.

IPS co-founder Marcus Raskin and others provided crucial aid to whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

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Ellsberg on Pentagon Papers' release

"No president has so blatantly violated the constitutional division of war powers as President Obama in his ongoing attack on Libya, without a nod even to the statutory War Powers Act, that post-Pentagon Papers effort by Congress to recapture something of the role assigned exclusively to it by the Constitution."


On the 40th anniversary of Daniel Ellsberg leaking the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon presidential library is touting its release of the entire set, including a section on Vietnam peace talks that Ellsberg withheld to avoid disrupting the negotiations.

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USA not broke. Stupid maybe, but not broke.


Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown
By Chuck Collins, Alison Goldberg, Scott Klinger, Sam Pizzigati

Reversing tax giveaways to the super-rich and the nation's largest corporations could raise $4 trillion within a decade and avert possible government closures.

"We're broke."

Or so claim governors and lawmakers all over the country. Our states and our nation can no longer afford, their plaint goes, the programs and services that Americans expect government to provide. We must do with less. We need "austerity."

But we're not broke. Not even close. The United States of America is awash in wealth. Our corporations are holding record trillions in cash. And overall individual wealth in the United States, the Credit Suisse Research Institute reported this past fall, has risen 23 percent since the year 2000, to $236,213 per American adult.

We have, these indicators of overall wealth suggest, survived the Great Recession quite nicely. So how can average families — and the national, state, and local governments that exist to serve them — be doing so poorly? Why do "deficits" dominate our political discourse? What explains the red-ink hurricane now pounding government budgets at every level?

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lunes, junio 13, 2011

Bill McKibben tells it like it is

Bill McKibben - Author. Educator. Environmentalist.


Three Strikes and You’re Hot
Time for Obama to Say No to the Fossil Fuel Wish List

By Bill McKibben

In our globalized world, old-fashioned geography is not supposed to count for much: mountain ranges, deep-water ports, railroad grades -- those seem so nineteenth century. The earth is flat, or so I remember somebody saying.

But those nostalgic for an earlier day, take heart. The Obama administration is making its biggest decisions yet on our energy future and those decisions are intimately tied to this continent’s geography. Remember those old maps from your high-school textbooks that showed each state and province’s prime economic activities? A sheaf of wheat for farm country? A little steel mill for manufacturing? These days in North America what you want to look for are the pickaxes that mean mining, and the derricks that stand for oil.

There’s a pickaxe in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, one of the world’s richest deposits of coal. If we’re going to have any hope of slowing climate change, that coal -- and so all that future carbon dioxide -- needs to stay in the ground. In precisely the way we hope Brazil guards the Amazon rainforest, that massive sponge for carbon dioxide absorption, we need to stand sentinel over all that coal.

Doing so, however, would cost someone some money. At current prices the value of that coal may be in the trillions, and that kind of money creates immense pressure. Earlier this year, President Obama signed off on the project, opening a huge chunk of federal land to coal mining. It holds an estimated 750 million tons worth of burnable coal. That’s the equivalent of opening 300 new coal-fired power plants. In other words, we’re talking about staggering amounts of new CO2 heading into the atmosphere to further heat the planet.

As Eric de Place of the Sightline Institute put it, “That’s more carbon pollution than all the energy -- from planes, factories, cars, power plants, etc. -- used in an entire year by all 44 nations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean combined.” Not what you’d expect from a president who came to office promising that his policies would cause the oceans to slow their rise.

But if Obama has admittedly opened the mine gate, it's geography to the rescue. You still have to get that coal to market, and “market” in this case means Asia, where the demand for coal is growing fastest. The easiest and cheapest way to do that -- maybe the only way at current prices -- is to take it west to the Pacific where, at the moment, there’s no port capable of handling the huge increase in traffic it would represent.

And so a mighty struggle is beginning, with regional groups rising to the occasion. Climate Solutions and other environmentalists of the northwest are moving to block port-expansion plans in Longview and Bellingham, Washington, as well as in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since there are only so many possible harbors that could accommodate the giant freighters needed to move the coal, this might prove a winnable battle, though the power of money that moves the White House is now being brought to bear on county commissions and state houses. Count on this: it will be a titanic fight.

Strike two against the Obama administration was the permission it granted early in the president’s term to build a pipeline into Minnesota and Wisconsin to handle oil pouring out of the tar sands of Alberta. (It came on the heels of a Bush administration decision to permit an earlier pipeline from those tar sands deposits through North Dakota to Oklahoma). The vast region of boreal Canada where the tar sands are found is an even bigger carbon bomb than the Powder River coal. By some calculations, the tar sands contain the equivalent of about 200 parts per million CO2 -- or roughly half the current atmospheric concentration. Put another way, if we burn it, there’s no way we can control climate change.

Fortunately, that sludge is stuck so far in the northern wilds of Canada that getting it to a refinery is no easy task. It’s not even easy to get the equipment needed to do the mining to the extraction zone, a fact that noble activists in the northern Rockies are exploiting with a campaign to block the trucks hauling the giant gear north. (Exxon has been cutting trees along wild and scenic corridors just to widen the roads in the region, that’s how big their “megaloads” are.)

Unfortunately, the administration’s decision to permit that Minnesota pipeline has made the job of sending the tar sand sludge south considerably easier. And now the administration is getting ready to double down, with a strike three that would ensure forever Obama’s legacy as a full-on Carbon President.

The huge oil interests that control the tar sands aren’t content with a landlocked pipeline to the Midwest. They want another, dubbed Keystone XL, that stretches from Canada straight to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. It would take the bitumen from the tar sands and pipe it across the heart of America. Imagine a video game where your goal is to do the most environmental damage possible: to the Cree and their ancestral lands in Canada, to Nebraska farmers trying to guard the Ogallala aquifer that irrigates their land, and of course to the atmosphere.

But the process is apparently politically wired and in a beautifully bipartisan Washington way. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must approve the plan for Keystone XL because it crosses our borders. Last year, before she’d even looked at the relevant data, she said she was “inclined” to do so. And why not? I mean, the company spearheading the Keystone project, TransCanada, has helpfully hired her former deputy national campaign director as its principal lobbyist.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, those oil barons the Koch Brothers and that fossil fuel front group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are pushing for early approval. Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy Committee, is already demanding that the project be fast-tracked, with a final approval decision by November, on the grounds that it would create jobs. This despite the fact that even the project’s sponsors concede it won’t reduce gas prices. In fact, as Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation pointed out in testimony to Congress last month, their own documents show that the pipeline will probably cause the price at the pump to rise across the Midwest.

When the smaller pipeline was approved in 2009, we got a taste of the arguments that the administration will use this time around, all masterpieces of legal obfuscation. Don’t delay the pipeline over mere carbon worries will be the essence of it.

Global warming concerns, said Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg then, would be "best addressed in the context of the overall set of domestic policies that Canada and the United States will take to address their respective greenhouse gas emissions." In other words, let’s confine the environmental argument over the pipeline to questions like: How much oil will leak? In the meantime, we’ll pretend to deal with climate change somewhere else.

It’s the kind of thinking that warms the hearts of establishments everywhere. Michael Levi, author of a Council on Foreign Relations study of the Canadian oil sands, told the Washington Post that, with the decision, “the Obama administration made clear that it's not going to go about its climate policy in a crude, blunt way." No, it’s going about it in a smooth and… oily way.

If we value the one planet we’ve got, it’s going to be up to the rest of us to be crude and blunt. And happily that planet is pitching in. The geography of this beautiful North American continent is on our side: it’s crude and blunt, full of mountains and canyons. Its weather runs to extremes. It’s no easy thing to build a pipeline across it, or to figure out how to run an endless parade of train cars to the Pacific.

Tough terrain aids the insurgent; it slows the powerful. Though we’re fighting a political campaign and not a military one, we need to take full advantage.

Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, founder of 350.org, and a TomDispatch regular. His most recent book, just out in paperback, is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Copyright 2011 Bill McKibben

Welcome To Eaarth

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viernes, junio 10, 2011

Go solar!

"Moving fast to harness the world’s enormous solar potential would bring a clear win for local economies and for the climate."

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Asian Alliance Supplants US Empire


By Nicolas J S Davies

While Official Washington grapples with how slowly to draw down troops in Afghanistan – and debates whether to complete the pullout from Iraq by year’s end – a new alliance of Asian states is expanding into the vacuum left by America’s decaying empire. By mid-June, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization may represent more than half the world’s people.

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Beyond Nuclear

Fukushima Unit 3 cooling sprayer

Molten cores have melted through Fukushima reactor pressure vessels

Three months after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began on March 11, Tokyo Electric Power and the Japanese government have finally admitted that reactor cores in Units 1, 2, and 3 likely completely melted down and that molten nuclear fuel melted through the bottom of the thick steel reactor pressure vessels just days into the accident. Still out of control, the Fukushima units will likely continue large-scale radioactive steam releases into the environment for a year or more.

Desperate efforts continue to try to prevent multiple storage pools from boiling dry to prevent high-level radioactive waste from igniting and releasing its deadly contents directly into the winds and waves. Officials have also doubled the estimates of radioactive releases, without explanation for the earlier error.

VT Yankee cooling tower collapse


Overwhelming public interest in Beyond Nuclear's meeting with the NRC on US Mark I reactors crashes agency phone line

Beyond Nuclear staffers Paul Gunter and Kevin Kamps met with a review board of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 8, 2011 to supplement its April 13th petition calling for the suspension the operation of the 23 Fukushima-style General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors in the US.

Access via the NRC telephone bridge line attracted such “unprecedented” public interest that the line crashed, delaying the start of the meeting by nearly 30 minutes.

The meeting was convened at the request of Beyond Nuclear by the petition process and opened to the public by Federal law. Become a co-petitioner with Beyond Nuclear.


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