Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America’s Heartland
by Richard Schiffman
Posted February 24, 2012
In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation’s two leading producers of agrochemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America’s corn belt during the next decade.
Large-scale industrial farming has grown dependent on ever-increasing applications of agrochemicals. Some have compared this to a drug addict who requires larger and larger fixes to stay high. Herbicide use has increased steadily over time as weeds develop resistance and need to be doused with more and deadlier chemicals to kill them. This, in turn. requires more aggressive genetic engineering of crops that can withstand the escalating chemical assault. More…
How “Occupy Our Homes” Can Win
by Amy Dean
Posted February 3, 2012
Since most of the original Occupy encampments were evicted by wintertime, the question now is, what’s next for activists? One of the most popular suggestions is “Occupy Our Homes,” a campaign in which occupiers around the country would do actions at foreclosed houses or at bailed-out banks that are throwing people out of their homes.
Since so many people in America are dealing with insecurity about their homes, the shift to doing foreclosure prevention and anti-eviction actions allows new groups of people with a clear sense of their own connection to the struggle to engage with the Occupy movement. Social movements at their best are about helping people take their individual troubles and link them to a public problem and shifting the focus from trying to personally cope to taking collective action. More…
How Counties Can Use Land Banks and Eminent Domain
by Ellen Brown
Posted January 15, 2012
An electronic database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) has created defects in the chain of title to over half the homes in America. Counties have been cheated out of millions of dollars in recording fees, and their title records are in hopeless disarray. Meanwhile, foreclosed and abandoned homes are blighting neighborhoods. Straightening out the records and restoring the homes to occupancy is clearly in the public interest, and the burden is on local government to do it. But how? New legal developments are presenting some innovative alternatives.
The legal tide is turning against MERS and the banks, giving rise to some interesting possibilities for relief at the county level. Local governments have the power of eminent domain: they can seize real or personal property if (a) they can show that doing so is in the public interest, and (b) the owner is compensated at fair market value. More…
Occupy Oakland and the Militarization of America’s Police
by Charles P. Pierce
Posted October 31, 2011
Make no mistake about it: The actions of the police department in Oakland last night were a military assault on a legitimate political demonstration. That it was a milder military assault than it could have been, which is to say it wasn’t a massacre, is very much beside the point. There was no possible provocation that warranted this display of force. (Graffiti? Litter? Rodents? Is the Oakland PD now a SWAT team for the city’s health department?) If you are a police department in this country in 2011, this is something you do because you have the power and the technology and the license from society to do it. This is a problem that has been brewing for a long time. It predates the Occupy movement for more than a decade. It even predates the “war on terror,” although that has acted as what the arson squad would call an “accelerant” to the essential dynamic.
Basic law enforcement in this country is thoroughly, totally militarized. It is militarized at its most basic levels. It is militarized at its highest command positions. It is militarized in its tactics, and its weaponry and, most important of all, in the attitude of the officers themselves, and in how they are trained. There is a vast militarized intelligence apparatus that leads, inevitably, to pre-emptive military actions, like the raids on protest organizations that were carried out in advance of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Sooner or later, this militarized law enforcement was going to collide head-on with a movement of mass public protest, and the results were going to be ugly. More…
The roles of military and police are totally different. The job of the military is to kill, the job of police to protect. This blurring of the roles will ultimately cause a disaster.
Quake risk to reactors greater than thought
by Dina Cappiello and Jeff Down
Posted September 5, 2011
The risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an AP analysis of preliminary government data. The nation’s nuclear regulator believes a quarter of America’s reactors may need modifications to make them safer.
The threat came into sharp focus last week, when shaking from the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what the North Anna nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain. More…
Financial Meltdown: The Case Against the Ratings Agencies
by Michael Hudson
Posted August 22, 2011
In today’s looming confrontation the ratings agencies are playing the political role of “enforcer” as the gatekeepers to credit, to put pressure on Iceland, Greece and even the United States to pursue creditor-oriented policies that lead inevitably to financial crises. These crises in turn force debtor governments to sell off their assets under distress conditions. In pursuing this guard-dog service to the world’s bankers, the ratings agencies are escalating a political strategy they have long been refined over a generation in the corrupt arena of local U.S. politics.
Localities are pressured when their rising debt levels lead to a financial stringency. Banks pull back their credit lines, and urge cities and states to pay down their debts by selling off their most viable public enterprises. Offering opinions on this practice has become a big business for the ratings agencies. So it is understandable why their business model opposes policies – and political candidates – that support the idea of basing public financing on taxation rather than by borrowing. This self-interest colors their “opinions.” More..
Why one good teacher decided to quit
by Jamie Gumbrecht
Posted July 23, 2011
She doesn’t want to go. After 13 years of teaching high-level math, she has a tested stable of learning methods that helped all her students pass the AP calculus exam. Her room is a popular place for students to escape the drama of the high school cafeteria. Few jobs can indulge her excitement for linear functions and matrix calculus.
“I hate to have to leave it,” DeRegnaucourt said. “I really thought I was going to be that teacher, 65 years old and retiring from the education field. That’s not going to happen.”
She’s quitting, she said, because she can’t afford to stay. More…
The Politics of Education: The Assault on Teachers
by Thomas Santone
Posted July 20, 2011
According to TeacherPortal.com, a starting teacher in New Jersey can expect an average yearly salary of $38,408. To put that in perspective, a family of four living on that salary is considered a low-income family in New Jersey, and they would be able to receive state assistance.
If you deduct the cost of health care under the new Pension and Health Care Reform Law, you would deduct about $5,000 annually. Also 7.5% will automatically get deducted for the pension. Also according to the College Board, public four-year colleges in New Jersey charged an average of $9,298 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. So using that math, a teacher would pay $37,192 for a four-year degree in Education. A loan for that amount payable over 10 years with 6.8% interest would cost $5,304 annually. Now we are down to $25,223 left over for food, clothes, shelter, transportation costs, and out of pocket teaching supplies. What else could those greedy teachers possibly want???? More…
People ask why public sector workers still have benefits: WRONG QUESTION! They should be asking why they do not.
The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force
by Rania Khalek
Posted July 11, 2011
Just after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the child in the throat, killing her. The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl’s family.
The shooting death of Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit. Shockingly, paramilitary raids that mirror the tactics of US soldiers in combat are not uncommon in America. More…