Some cynics write off citizen action including petitions and sign-carrying protestors. They don’t believe such small efforts can make any big difference. But the more than 600,000 people of Dutch city Rotterdam disagree. Their efforts, which began with a petition, have led to a “green initiative” in their city including the banning of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship product.
The petition campaign was called “Non-toxic Sidewalks for Our Children.” With support from that country’s Green Party, concerned citizens were able to make a significant change for their city and their future.
As we know, Roundup (glyphosate) is a dangerous pesticide that is used all over the world. Though its maker, Monsanto, would have you believe there’s nothing to be afraid of, research says differently. As a matter of fact, glyphosate has been connected to numerous health problems including respiratory distress, cellular damage, and even cancer. Check out this article which outlines just 7 nasty effects of pesticides.
“It is bad stuff and I’m glad we’re giving it up,” says Emile Cammeraat, Green party leader in the council. “The producer Monsanto also provides genetically engineered seeds, Monsanto’s own plants are the only thing RoundUp doesn’t kill. In such a business district as you want to be, no Roundup is simply necessary, as there are organic alternatives.” (Translated by Fritz Kreiss)
Global consumers are getting wise to the dangers of Roundup and the GMO seeds designed to resist it. They don’t want Monsanto and other GMO-seed giants taking over the global food supply and have started grassroots resistance movements around the world. The problem lies in getting enough people to take actual action against the seed giants and local, state, and federal lawmakers who support them in one way or another.
Collectively, the people of Rotterdam were able to make their voices heard, essentially eliminating glyphosate from their local environment. There’s no reason similar cities in other areas of the world couldn’t do the very same thing.
Comically, the U.S. government has recently decided to increase the allowable amount of glyphosate in U.S. food crops, just as another place bans the substance. The new rule allowing for even greater use of this damaging ingredient would take existing limits on glyphosate and dwarf them with new, higher ones. These limits would truly only work to benefit the interests of one, and it’s not the American people, but Monsanto – the giant corporation who is making millions off of genetically modified crops and the destruction of agriculture and human health.
In addition to the Roundup ban, Rotterdam’s green initiative will provide new parks and play areas, and even get the city involved in planting fruit trees. There will be more flowers and environments to support bees and wildlife, and more places for the urbanites to take in nature without fear of contamination by Monsanto’s evil poster child
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. – Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)
Americans are now more likely to die by their own hands than from a car accident or a murder-related incident, a grim statistic that shines a light on abusive corporate practices.
Judging by the latest data by the Center for Disease Control, something is driving Americans to become their own worst enemies: From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among US citizens between the ages of 35 to 64 soared by about 30 per cent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
Suicide now ranks higher than death by automobile: in 2010, there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes compared with 38,364 suicides.
Although suicide tends to be viewed as a problem inflicting teenagers and the elderly, the recent study shows a marked rise in the number of suicides among the Baby Boom generation (a demographic group born between the years 1946 and 1964, when the annual birthrate rose dramatically in the US).
Suicide rates soared across all four geographic areas and in 39 states. The state of Wyoming recorded the highest increase in suicides with a 78.8 per cent jump (31.1 per 100,000). Even the paradise state of Hawaii witnessed a 61.2 per cent increase (21.9 per 100,000).
Yet some believe even these shocking numbers are too low since many deaths are not treated as actual suicides.
“It’s vastly under-reported,” Julie Phillips, an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University, told The New York Times. “We know we’re not counting all suicides.”
What’s going on here? What is suddenly pushing so many Americans to take their own lives?
The striking thing about the data is that the suicide rates really began to surge just as the Global Financial Crisis was making landfall in late 2008. While suicide rates increased slowly between 1999 and 2007, the rate of increase more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010.
“There is a clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession,” said Aaron Reeves of Britain’s University of Cambridge, who submitted his findings to The Lancet medical journal.
Reeves went so far as to suggest that the Democrats and Republicans are partially to blame for failing to mention the issue during the latest presidential campaign.
“In the run-up to the US presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery, [but] missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans’ health during these hard times,” Reeves warned.
Where’s the democracy?
So what else is responsible for driving up American suicide rates? Could it be the loss of democratic representation inside our corporate fortresses, those medieval-style fiefdoms that are now working overtime to control the US political process as well?
Thanks largely to the passage of the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission ruling (2010), transnational corporations are now entitled to donate unlimited amounts of hard cash to the political campaign of their choice without having to come clean on the expenditures. The ruling even applies to foreign corporations!
So great is the corporate footprint in the halls of power that I fear the day is close at hand when we will actually see a corporation make a run for political office. Why not? They have already been designated as bona fide individuals by our craven Supreme Court (In the book, “Unequal Protection,” Thom Hartmann persuasively explains how the 1886 US Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company case wrongfully granted corporations personhood).
“Businesses have won,” David Macaray, a labor columnist, wrote in his Huffington Post blog. “They’ve increased their production demands, they’ve extended employees’ work hours (after having-laid off a segment of the workforce), they’ve taken to issuing ultimatums, and they’ve done all of it while, simultaneously, having kept wages relatively stagnant.”
As for traditional benefits such as pensions, bonuses, sick leave and paid vacations, forget about it. Most of those have been abolished, Macaray added.
Did somebody mention a vacation? Despite all the hyped-up talk about freedom and liberty, American workers receive the stingiest vacation packages in the free – and oppressed – world. That is not because Americans have some sort of masochistic attachment to their desks, as some like to argue, but rather because we lack any sort of labor law that forces corporations to remove our chains more than once a year.
Incredibly, the United States is the only country in the world where corporations are under no legal obligation to provide their workers with a break from their jobs. Compare that sad statistic with any other country in the world, even the most totalitarian. This Scrooge mentality must change, or all of our boastful talk about democracy and freedom will be revealed as nothing more than a diversionary smokescreen to conceal what can only be described as an attack on human rights.
Why is it that other countries can readily afford to give their people a break from their jobs and still maintain high living standards?
“Germany is among more than two dozen industrialized countries from Australia to Slovenia to Japan – that require employers to offer four weeks or more of paid vacation to their workers, according to a 2009 study by the human resources consulting company Mercer,” reported CNN.
Still other countries, including Finland, Brazil and France, guarantee their workers up to six weeks off.
It seems fair to ask whether America’s lack of time away from the office is contributing to high stress levels and even sporadic episodes of domestic and workplace violence, up to and including suicide. Shouldn’t the world’s most heavily armed and medicated nation allow its people to hit the beach more than once a year?
This question brings us back to the issue of democratic representation in the workplace, which is presently missing in action.
Although organized labor is itself fraught with problems, it is nevertheless the last line of defense when it comes to protecting US workers against the insatiable greed of the corporate overlords. Thus, it should come as no surprise that US wages have been plummeting over the last 30 years at the very same time that unions are being decimated.
The total number of union workers fell by 400,000 last year, to 14.3 million, even though the nation’s overall employment rose by 2.4 million, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Just 11.3 per cent of the US workforce is enrolled in a union, the lowest recorded levels since 1916, when it was 11.2 percent, according to a study by two Rutgers economists, Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin, as reported in The New York Times.
Never before has the wealth divide been greater in the United States, a land that was built on the foundation of opportunity.
Between 2009 and 2011, the top 7 per cent of wealthy Americans saw their average net worth explode by 28 per cent, while the wealth of the remaining 93 per cent of the population steadily declined during the same period, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The average net worth of the country’s 8 million wealthiest households surged from an estimated $2.7 million to $3.2 million, the Pew study said. For the 111 million households that make up the bottom 93 per cent, average net worth plunged 4 per cent, from $140,000 to an estimated $134,000.
In 2010, the first supposed year of economic recovery, 93 per cent of all pre-tax income gains went to the top 1 per cent of the American population (that is, any household earning more than $358,000).
Meanwhile, the most affluent 7 per cent of households owned 63 per cent of the nation’s household wealth in 2011, up from 56 per cent in 2009.
These mind-numbing statistics are a mere reflection of millions of individual cases of pain and suffering wrought by the economic crisis, which seems to have only affected the middle and lower classes.
One consequence of the economic fallout is the record number of foreclosures on homes. Since 2007, almost 4 million homes have been lost in the foreclosure crisis, according to Forbes. At the same time, US home prices – except in the most affluent neighborhoods – remain essentially flat.
On top of this pummeling, Americans must digest the incredible news that many US corporations, some of which were rescued by taxpayer-funded bailout, are not paying any taxes on their earnings.
General Electric, for example, reported global profits of $14.2 billion for the year 2010, with $5.1 billion of the total deriving from its operations in the United States.
So how much did the granddaddy of US corporations pay in taxes to Uncle Sam? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In fact, GE actually claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
How was GE able to pull off that disappearing act?
“Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore,” tooted The New York Times.
Is the rash of suicides across a broad spectrum of the American population a direct result of the wealth hoarding by the top income earners – many of them US corporate ‘individuals’? Since it is clear that Monsters Inc. have all but hijacked the American dream, not to mention the US political process, the evidence seems to point in that dark direction.
Clearly it is time for the United States to tame the beast of corporate power, and as was the case with the separation of church and state, we must prohibit business from unduly influencing our political leaders.
Our government representation is a precious and limited resource. It cannot be allowed to be squandered on entities that are already enjoying great wealth and power as it is.
Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which discusses the dangerous consequences of excessive corporate power in the United States.
Now I just happen to wonder who is left to pick up the tab
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered”
“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system; for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning”
“I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply”
– Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild
According to the ABC News/Washington Post survey, 57 percent of people would support Clinton as a presidential candidate, versus 37 percent opposed.
The research shows the current Secretary of State has 66 percent among women and the backing of 82 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents. Clinton, a Democratic candidate in 2009, also snagged support from 23 percent of Republican respondents.
In her current role, a full 68 percent of those surveyed approved of her position, while 68 percent approved overall.
The research shows Clinton does less well among nonwhites than did Obama, who won re-election with 80 percent of their support last month.
Read More US political stories here
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellphone Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2012, among a random national sample of 1,020 adults.
Clinton, who is currently visiting Ireland, is expected to step down from her State Department at the end of the year.
The former first lady arrived in Ireland on Wednesday as part of a four-day visit to Europe.
On Thursday she will deliver a speech on human rights at the Helix in Dublin City University (DCU). She will travel to Belfast on Friday to discuss the peace process and investment opportunities.
The great success of societies that are as spectacularly unequal as the US is the indoctrination of the populace into believing that in so far as they are excluded from the wealth of such societies it is because of their own inadequacies. By Vincent Browne.
There is an impulse to dismiss political rhetoric as just so much blather, harmless blather.
But there is much more to it, for very often such rhetoric taps into and works to legitimise certain shared ideas, helping them to achieve the status of unassailable and obvious “truths” that generate power to persuade a populace of the “common sense” of ideas, that persuade people of the necessity to support policies that, manifestly, are against their interests. For instance, of the “necessity” for huge disparities of power, income and wealth.
That “common sense” allows elites to maintain their power not through force or coercion but through the active and willing consent of the majority of people.
There was much of this in the children’s referendum debate, such as children being heard as well as seen, and the stuff about every child matters, masking the reality in our society that every child does not matter and the voices of many children will never be heard, now and when they grow out of childhood.
A striking example of such rhetoric was the victory speech of Barack Obama in Chicago on 6 November and in one crucial regard particularly.
He spoke of the American spirit, “the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people”.
The top 1% of income “earners” get 24% of all income. In 1915, the year of the Rockefellers and Carnegies, the top 1% got just 18%. One nation, one people?
Obama spoke aspirationally about solidarity and Americans looking out for each other but then came the following towards the end of the speech: “I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or who you love.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”
This is what is called “the American dream” and it is probably the strongest line Americans buy into, almost the ethos of the United States, the justificatory philosophy for US capitalism. It is what gives Americans the idea that the US is “the greatest nation on earth”.
Several studies have shown this “American dream” is a mirage.
For instance, one (Understanding Mobility in America, published by the Centre for American Progress) showed that the US and the UK had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility of nine developed countries (the others being France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark).
It showed that children from lowincome families have only a 1% chance of reaching the top 5% of income distribution, whereas children of the rich have a 22% chance. It also showed that African American children who are born in the bottom quartile of income distribution are nearly twice as likely to remain there as adults than white children whose parents had identical incomes, and are four times less likely than the top quartile.
And yet most Americans believe this is “common sense”, even though it is common nonsense.
How different would the US be if a majority of the population believed the American dream was just that: nonsense? Is it likely they would tolerate a system that resulted in such rigid inequalities or vote as president someone who celebrated that system and an opponent who exemplified it? And how is it that so many Americans believe this when the facts are demonstrably different, even their own experiences, in the vast preponderance of cases, are so demonstrably different?
There is a further insidious kick to what Obama said a week ago in Chicago and it is the last tag of that paragraph: “You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”
So does that mean that for 46.2 million Americans living in poverty (according to the US census) it’s simply because they were not “willing to try”? Does that mean that more and more Americans have not been “willing to try” over four consecutive years during which the numbers in poverty have risen (according to the US census)?
And how does this explain that one in five children was in poverty? Was it because they had not been “willing to try”? The great success of societies that are as spectacularly unequal as the US is not just the vast wealth that is accumulated by the rich, it is indoctrination of the populace into believing that this is the best of all possible worlds, and in so far as they are excluded from the wealth of such societies it is because of their own inadequacies.
The system is fine.