Community Articles from 2018

The Science of a Vanishing Planet

[Community]
The Science of a Vanishing Planet
by Raúl Ilargi Meijer
Posted May 8, 2018

tasty GMO cropsIn one of many definitions, the 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle says: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

Needless to say, that doesn’t easily fly in our age of science and money. Cigarette makers, car manufacturers and oil companies, just to name a few among a huge number of industries, are all literally making a killing while the Precautionary Principle is being ignored. Even as it is being cited in many international treaties. Lip service “R” us. Are these industries to blame when they sell us our products, or are we for buying them? That’s where governments must come in to educate us about risks. Which they obviously do not.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb -of Black Swan and Antifragile fame- has made the case, in his usual strong fashion, for applying the Precautionary Principle when it comes to GMOs. His argument is that allowing genetically modified organisms in our eco- and foodsystems carries unknown risks that we have no way of overseeing, and that these risks may cause irreversible damage to the very systems mankind relies on for survival. More…

American Samoa finally gets a public bank. And U.S. states are watching

[Economics]
American Samoa finally gets a public bank. And U.S. states are watching
By Rob Blackwell
Posted May 8, 2018

American Samoa gets its own public bankAmerican Samoa is finally getting its own full-service bank — and successfully creating only the second public bank in the United States.

The Federal Reserve is allowing the Territorial Bank of American Samoa access to the U.S. payments system nearly two years after the bank first applied.

The decision is a boon to the remote U.S. territory in the South Pacific, where more than half of the households are at, near or below the federal poverty level. Officials across the seven islands that comprise American Samoa have been scrambling for a way to maintain local banking services since the Bank of Hawaii announced in 2012 it was leaving the territory.

“It’s a huge deal for the people of American Samoa,” Phil Ware, president of the Territorial Bank, said in an interview. “There hasn’t been a commercial loan made on the island in five years or more.” With the Fed approval, that all changes, he said. More…

Perjury, Lying Deeply Ingrained into American Police Culture

[Justice]
Perjury, Lying Deeply Ingrained into American Police Culture
by Kali Holloway
Posted May 8, 2018

police perjury common study findsPolice officers lie under oath in court so often that they’ve even given the practice a nickname. “Behind closed doors, we call it testilying,” New York City police officer Pedro Serrano told the New York Times. “You take the truth and stretch it out a little bit.”

The term, the Times notes, came into common usage among cops about 25 years ago, but the issue of police perjury is far older, a problem African Americans have complained of for many decades. In rare instances, those with intimate knowledge have publicly acknowledged not only how rampant testifying is, but also how rarely cops caught in the act face consequences.

More than 50 years after Younger’s broadside, a newly released Times study has turned up more than two-dozen instances of police lying in court since January 2015—and these confirmed cases “are almost certainly only a fraction” of the real total. The ubiquity of plea deals, which effectively halts cases before they’re weighed by a court, means “the possibility that an officer lied is seldom aired in public.” Even when false police testimony comes to public light, court papers are generally sealed and an officer’s misdeed protected from scrutiny. More…

If You Really Want to Save Lives, Take Aim at Government Violence

[Social]
If You Really Want to Save Lives, Take Aim at Government Violence
By John W. Whitehead
Posted May 6, 2018

whose is dressed for trouble Why is no one taking aim at the U.S. government as the greatest purveyor of violence in American society and around the world?

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

Violence has become our government’s calling card, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans to the military’s endless wars abroad. More…

Open Source is Tech’s Explosive Organic Movement

[Community]
Open Source is Tech’s Explosive Organic Movement
By Bill Ottman & Schuyler Brown
Posted May 4, 2018

open source, potential for a better futureThere was once was a day when software was just software. The source code (ingredients) of various programs was always shared with the global development community for the practical purposes of fixing bugs and making improvements. However, financial incentives to alter this system entered the picture in exactly the same way they did with food. Software companies started creating software patents in the same way that Monsanto created seed patents. Thus, greed and corporate possessiveness created a corrupt and toxic software environment, just as they had with food.

And just as the organic movement rose in the food world, free software and the open source movement emerged as a direct response to proprietary and closed-source practices. In a 2008 interview with Paul Kim, VP at Mozilla, Treehugger described how Firefox successfully marketed itself as a “100% organic” browser. More…

How Cooperation Richmond is Empowering Marginalized Communities to Build an Equitable Economy

[Community]
How Cooperation Richmond is Empowering Marginalized Communities to Build an Equitable Economy
By Robert Raymond
Posted May 3, 2018

Mondragon movement success being emulatedLying a few miles south of Marin County and just across the bay from San Francisco, the city of Richmond, California, is situated within two of the wealthiest regions of the United States. Richmond, however, does not share in this wealth. Its downtown has been largely abandoned and its northern periphery is on the front lines of the Chevron Richmond Refinery, processing over 240,000 barrels of crude oil every single day and creating a toxic environment to those living in the surrounding vicinity. It’s an example of what we know as a “sacrifice zone” — a community that has been largely incapacitated by environmental damage and economic neglect.

But in the shadow of the looming refinery, and within the spaces between boarded up storefronts and abandoned lots, something is stirring in Richmond. Residents, organizers, and activists have come together to create an incubation hub for community revitalization and resilience. They call themselves Cooperation Richmond, and their aim is to empower the marginalized and exploited residents of this city to build community-controlled wealth and wellbeing. More…

What Standing Rock Gave the World

[Community]
What Standing Rock Gave the World
by Jenni Monet
Posted April 30, 2018

water protectors against corporate greedAmericans saw the Indigenous struggle—the violence, stolen resources, colluding corporations and governments—that goes hand in hand with protecting the Earth.

At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it.

It was a show of international solidarity between the Indigenous Sami and the Lakota. “They got tattoos because of the Norwegian money invested in the pipeline,” said Jan Rune Måsø, editor of the Sami news division of Norway’s largest media company, NRK. More…

How This CSA Started By A Chemistry Teacher May Be The Future Of Local Agriculture

[Community]
How This CSA Started By A Chemistry Teacher May Be The Future Of Local Agriculture
By Aaron Fernando
Posted April 24, 2018

Community supported agriculture Quietly nestled on the side of a hill in the rural town of Caroline, New York, just a short drive from Ithaca, Nook and Cranny Farm is well-suited to its name. Its owner, Bob Tuori, has owned the plot of land that it sits on for almost two decades. Over the years, he has grown it into a prime example of a community-focused intensive, efficient, and sustainable small farm.

Tuori’s farm is particularly notable for a few reasons. Not only does it utilize a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model to supply high-quality produce to over 60 families in the region and employ people from the area, but it does so with only four acres of arable land, by using it as sustainably and efficiently as possible.

Add this to that the fact that Tuori himself is a full-time high school chemistry teacher — as he has been for the duration Nook and Cranny’s existence — and you get a close-up view of what a local, citizen-led agricultural revolution might look like. In a country where far too many people still do not have access to nutritional food (see USDA’s interactive atlas of food deserts) small farms like Nook and Cranny that are located in the communities they feed offer much promise in their ability to increase access to high-quality food. More…

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The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

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