Community Articles from 2018

Why much of genetic engineering remains a mystery

[Social]
Why much of genetic engineering remains a mystery
by Peter Franklin
Posted June 27, 2018

do we have the wisdom to tamper with life?Imagine a company that employs 6,000 people. It’s your job to find out what they all do. The catch is that you can’t ask them directly, because you don’t speak their language. What you can do, however, is remove one of them from the workplace and observe the effects of that employee’s absence on the whole company. You can run the same experiment again and again, each time removing a different employee.

What you notice is that about a thousand of the workers are indispensable – if any one of them is absent, everything grinds to a halt. As for the other 5,000, well, the company copes – either what they were doing wasn’t that important in the first place, or their colleagues somehow step into the breach. More…

Weapons of Mass Corruption

[Social]
Weapons of Mass Corruption
by David Silverstein
Posted June 25, 2018

healthcare insurance secrecyWhat if I told you that you and/or your company, depending on where you get your health insurance, are spending more than $1,500 a year just to have your health insurance claims processed? That’s half a trillion dollars a year just to process health insurance claims. Well I’m telling you, it’s true. We spend about two-thirds of what we spend on our entire defense budget on healthcare administration, not on healthcare. And what do we get for it? The answer is selective information at best and a shroud of secrecy mostly.

The concept of health insurance in America, the belief that everything we get from the healthcare system must run through an insurance carrier and be scrutinized, is preposterous not to mention wasteful. But it serves a purpose. It creates a layer of secrecy between us and our providers, and in most cases makes it impossible for us to know what is being paid for and why. More…

A Jailbreak of the Imagination: Seeing Prisons for What They Are and Demanding Transformation

[Social]
A Jailbreak of the Imagination: Seeing Prisons for What They Are and Demanding Transformation
By Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes
Posted June 19, 2018

prison industrial complexOutspoken opponents of abolishing the prison industrial complex typically portray abolitionists as politically inactive academics who spout impossible ideas. None of this could be further from the truth. Abolitionists come from all backgrounds, and most are politically active. From bail reform to strategic electoral interventions and mutual aid, prison abolitionists are steadily at work in our communities, employing tactics of harm reduction, lobbying for and against legislation, defending the rights of prisoners in solidarity with those organizing for themselves on the inside and working to forward a vision of social transformation.

As a political framework, abolition has gained significant ground in recent years, with groups like the National Lawyers Guild adopting the philosophy in their work. A growing number of grassroots abolitionist organizers have co-organized nationally recognized campaigns such as the #ByeAnita effort in Chicago, which helped to successfully remove former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez from office. Abolitionist organizers also helped lead efforts to win reparations for survivors of torture that occurred under the now infamous police commander Jon Burge in Chicago — a city that has, over the past two decades, become a hub of abolitionist organizing. Abolition is a practical organizing strategy. More…

Internal Emails Show FDA is Withholding the Fact that Foods in Your Pantry are Laced with Toxic Weedkiller

[Community]
Internal Emails Show FDA is Withholding the Fact that Foods in Your Pantry are Laced with Toxic Weedkiller
by Alex Pietrowski
Posted June 15, 2018

there is Round-Up in your morning cerealGlyphosate is Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, appearing in hundreds of agricultural and gardening products, and although it has been linked to cancer and other serious health issues including birth defects and degenerative diseases, the FDA appears to be withholding the fact that this poison is contaminating many of the foods in your pantry.

Glyphosate has been found in a wide array of popular foods including cereals, staples like corn and soy, Ben and Jerry’s ice creams, and even in human breast milk, suggesting that the chemical is making it to your table whether you know it or not.

Sadly, however, the FDA, the agency tasked with protecting the American public from unsafe food, has known for sometime that traces glyphosate are found in many more foods, but after two years of looking into this, the FDA still has not issued a warning to the public. More…

Fed Up With Big Banks That Fund Climate Crisis and Oppression, Community Coalition Demands Public Bank for New York

[Economic]
Fed Up With Big Banks That Fund Climate Crisis and Oppression, Community Coalition Demands Public Bank for NYC
by Julia Conley
Posted June 12, 2018

NYC needs to dump big banksChanting, “Wells, Chase, B of A, public bank’s a better way!” social justice groups rallied at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday to demand that New York City divest from Wall Street banks and establish a public bank that is “expressly chartered to serve the public interest.”

Investment in Wall Street banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of Americas, and JPMorgan Chase is synonymous with harming the environment, propping up private prisons, and putting working families at risk for financial collapse as well as pushing them out of New York neighborhoods, argued the groups. More…

How To Liberate America from Wall Street Rule

[Economic]
How To Liberate America from Wall Street Rule
A Report from the New Economy Working Group
Posted June 10, 2018

Time to end Wall Street ruleIn 2008, Wall Street plunged the U.S. economy into the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Wall Street received a generous public bailout and quickly recovered. Main Street continues to languish. Politicians and pundits rarely inquire into the reasons for the disparity. Doing so would expose the reality that the United States is ruled as a plutocracy, not a democracy, and would focus citizen anger on the structure of the institutional system that gives Wall Street bankers their power.

The 2008 financial crash was a direct and inevitable consequence of a social engineering experiment conducted by Wall Street interests that allowed Wall Street financial institutions to consolidate their control of the creation and allocation of money beyond the reach of public accountability. The priority of the money system shifted from funding real investment for building community wealth to funding financial games designed solely to enrich Wall Street without the burden of producing anything of real value.

The proper function of money is to facilitate the sustainable and equitable utilization of resources to fulfill the needs of people, communities, and nature. This calls for a community-based and democratically accountable system of money, banking, and finance that functions to create and allocate money as a well-regulated public utility. Such a system would be remarkably similar to the one that financed the United States’ victory in World War II, produced an unprecedented period of economic stability and prosperity, made America the world’s industrial powerhouse, and created the American middle class. More…

This report provides real solutions to the many problems we face. It attacks the root cause, rather than focusing on the symptoms. After reading this report you will have a clear road map of what needs to be done in order to bring about real change in our system.

Stopping Pipelines Means Challenging Systems That Threaten Our Existence

[Community]
Stopping Pipelines Means Challenging Systems That Threaten Our Existence
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
Posted June 8, 2018

pipelines will poison water and food suppliesAlthough not as well-known as the struggle at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, there are bold and active campaigns going on to stop pipelines from British Columbia to the Bayou to the Appalachian Mountains. If constructed, the pipelines will contaminate the water and food upon which indigenous and poor communities depend. They will unleash the extraction of vast amounts of carbon at a time when there is a desperate need to reduce climate emissions.

The pipelines being built and the processes being used to permit them illustrate deeper crises of capitalism, colonialism, and democracy. They stand in the way of adequate actions being taken to address the growing climate and environmental crises. Examining the political environment helps us understand these crises and how to be more effective in challenging systems that threaten our existence. More…

Seed and the Commons

[Community]
Seed and the Commons
by Helene Schulze
Posted June 7, 2018

open source seeds protect against privatization of seed patentsGlobal seed reserves are under serious threat. The recent ‘Baysanto’ merger is just another indication of the systematic consolidation of the seed market in the hands of a few select multi-national corporations. At present, over 75% of the global seed trade is controlled by just ten companies. This is not news and the Sustainable Food Trust has reported at length on the state of the world’s seeds and the innovative projects and movements which have emerged in response to this.

One such organisation is OpenSourceSeeds (OSS). By equipping plant breeders and propagators with a free, open-source licence for the seeds they breed, they provide the necessary legal protection to prevent the patenting of the seed by other parties. This is about protecting seeds from privatisation and consequent market consolidation, and reframing seed as a common good. More…

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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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