Monsanto is now in full retreat against a global grassroots rejection of its poisons and lies. The company is backpedaling on every front now, even admitting defeat in Europe and now trying to focus its last, desperate efforts on the United States and Brazil.
But even in the Americas, Monsanto is losing on every front: GMO labeling legislation is cropping up in over a dozen states, the global March Against Monsanto demonstrated global grassroots unity against GMOs, and even the so-called “science” behind the “safety” GMOs is revealed as utter hogwash now that GMOs have escaped Monsanto’s experimental wheat fields and contaminated commercial wheat crops in America.
Japan has halted U.S. wheat imports and South Korea joined in as well. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company has announced it is going 100% GMO-free, and massive boycotts are underway against brands that tried to block the GMO labeling ballot measure in California (Prop 37).
We’ve reached the tipping point against Monsant
Jeffrey Smith of http://www.ResponsibleTechnology.org has always talked about a “tipping point” being reached on GMOs, after which the flood of consumer awareness and demand would force food manufacturers and retailers to begin the process of ditching GMOs. I believe that tipping point has now been reached. In fact, I believe the March Against Monsanto was the final push over the fulcrum of the tipping point, and I am ecstatic that so many people all around the world marched in the streets to protest global food injustice while the wholly-discredited mainstream media sat back and pretended the march never even took place!
In one fell sweep, the tipping point against Monsanto was triggered and the whole world realized the mainstream media has zero credibility. I’ll call that a victory any day!
Next steps: Commands from headquarters?
If you’re waiting for “commands from headquarters” to figure out what’s next in the war for food justice and farming justice — the war against Monsanto and GMOs — you don’t really understand this movement. The beauty of everything that’s happening today is that there IS no headquarters!
Activists against Monsanto are simply making this up as we go along. There is no “leader.” There is no secret strategy meeting. There are no talking points. There is no overarching set of milestones being discussed. There is no one person that makes all this happen.
The anti-GMO movement is all just large numbers of courageous individuals waking up and doing what needs to be done, whether that’s organizing a march, posting videos online, boycotting food brands that use GMOs, or holding home-viewing parties of DVDs that educate people on the truth about GMOs.
This is the movement’s strength. This is why nobody can be intimidated, sued or shut down by Monsanto. Behind every activist there are a thousand more carrying the torch for food justice. The anti-GMO grassroots movement absolutely will not stop until GMOs are banned from the global food supply, and that bold statement is just as true in Venezuela and Portugal as the United States. Everywhere that people eat food and grow food, everyone who is informed supports the idea of outlawing GMOs entirely.
This goal will be achieved. I can see it now with clarity. The grassroots energy behind this movement is unstoppable. And while everyone in the grassroots anti-GMO movement may come from slightly different viewpoints on other social, political and economic issues, they all agree that GMOs have no place in the food supply, period!
As I recently said in my speech at the March Against Monsanto in Austin:
“The fact that you are here, in all your beautiful diversity… is proof that they cannot divide us! They can only unite us with their insanity!”
If you are part of the effort to stop Monsanto and outlaw GMOs, you are winning. You are making a measurable, effective difference in the world, and the positive shockwaves of your efforts will be felt for generations to come.
Keep up the good work. 🙂
Orla Cox in the secure room of Symantec’s office in Dublin. Photograph: Kim Haughton for the Guardian
Inside the tightly controlled security area of Symantec‘s Dublin headquarters, a screen on the wall flashes up hacking hotspots as they are detected around the world. Last year the company estimated it blocked nearly 250,000 cyber-attacks. One out of every 532 websites was infected with viruses, it said, and 1.6 million instances of malware were detected.
Overall, cyber-attacks were up 42% in 2012. They range from “hacktivist” targeting of industries such as defence to the fast-growing area of “ransomware” blackmail attempts, but more than a third of attacks focused on small- to medium-size businesses employing fewer than 500 people.
Orla Cox, the senior manager of security response at Symantec’s office in north-west Dublin, said hackers – including criminal gangs, individuals and even states – regarded smaller enterprises as “stepping stones” to enable them to attack larger corporations.
In a briefing last week, Cox also said Twitter was perceived as a weak link. Last month Syrian hackers claimed responsibility for a bogus tweet from an Associated Press account that sent stock markets into temporary freefall. “The security of Twitter is not strong and Twitter is going to have to do something about that,” Cox said.
Symantec’s Dublin hub, with 800 workers including 60 in its security division, plays a key part in global computer security because in terms of timezones it lies between the company’s two other main operations, in California and Tokyo.
The Irish office was the first to detect the Stuxnet virus, which has caused severe damage to the Iranian nuclear programme in Natanz. The virus, which entered the country’s nuclear industry system via computers sold to Iran from Europe, caused centrifuges used in uranium enrichment to spin out of control. Symantec is reluctant to state its view on the origin of the highly sophisticated virus but most security analysts believe Israel was behind it.
Cox said Stuxnet was probably not the end of it. She predicted those behind the virus were probably developing a new “son of Stuxnet” in the campaign to sabotage Iranian nuclear efforts.
Ransomware has become a bigger challenge in the last 12 months, according to Symantec. The company has identified 16 cybercrime gangs using ransomware, which in the space of 18 days in 2012 alone infected 500,000 computers.
“It works by shutting down your computer with a virus and then sending out a bogus warning that a user has been looking at something illegal,” Cox said. “They tell the user they can only get the computer back running if they pay a ransom, in some cases of $100, usually by buying a moneypack voucher and then sending the code transferring the amount to the gang. If the user for instance has been browsing a porn site they are going to believe the warning and pay up.
Such scams netted the 16 gangs about $5m in 2012, she said. In many cases paying through an anonymous money transfer system did not necessarily ensure an infected computer was unlocked, the company pointed out. In some cases ransomware can capture images of the targeted user via webcam, which is displayed when a computer screen is frozen to intimidate the victim.
Cox said there were now online toolkits hackers could buy on the internet to enable them to break into bank accounts. She said hacking into the financial system and online banking theft was mainly the work of gangs from Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states.
Symantec also expressed concern about teenagers and young adults being targeted on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks because they were less guarded about their personal data and in particular their usernames and passwords. The company said the intersection of smartphones and social media would become an important security battleground.
Cox said Symantec believed Apple products were less prone to attack, with iPhones for instance being safer because they are “completely locked down”. However, she said Apple Macs are “not impervious” to hacking.
In the last weekend of April the Guardian also came under a cyber-attack from Syrian hackers who have targeted a series of western media organisations in an apparent effort to cause disruption and spread support for Bashar al-Assad‘s dictatorship. The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claimed responsibility for the Twitter-based attack, having previously also targeted the BBC, France 24 TV, and National Public Radio in the United States.
Cyber-attacks believed to emanate from North Korea have recently caused disruption to media organisations in South Korea.
Japan Has Won The Race To Extract Gas From Offshore Methane Ice
This is the first successful production of natural gas from off-shore supplies of methane hydrate, a huge untapped energy resource.
Japanese officials report they’ve produced natural gas from underwater methane hydrate, a frozen mix of water and methane known as “burning ice.” Previous experiments have successfully extracted gas from on-shore deposits, but this is the first time we’ve been able to do it with deep sea reserves.
Methane hydrates are made of gas molecules of methane that are trapped in a lattice of water ice. When the ice melts, because of change in temperature or pressure, the gas is released and can ignite to create that fiery ice effect.
The U.S., South Korea and China have also been working to harness the substance as fuel for years. It’s one of the world’s greatest untapped energy resources, found within the permafrost near the Earth’s poles and under much of the sea floor.
Finding alternative fuel sources is especially vital for Japan, a country has to import huge amounts of energy, especially after the Fukushima disaster curtailed the Japanese nuclear program.
A team of Japanese drillers started extracting gas from methane hydrate deposits about 1,000 feet below the seabed off the central coast of Japan on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. They separated the ice and the methane by lowering the pressure in the reserve.
(If you can read Japanese, you can see the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s statement here.)
Trial extraction will continue for about two weeks to determine how much gas can be produced. The drilling technology will hopefully be commercially available in five years.
Buried several hundred pages into a new World Economic Forum report on global tourism, past the sections on air travel infrastructure and physician density (by which they mean the number of physicians per capita, not the mass-per-cubic-meter of individual doctors), are some very interesting numbers. The WEF has compiled survey data from 140 countries estimating the attitude of each countries’ population toward foreign visitors.
The results, mapped out above, seem significant beyond just tourism. Red countries are less welcoming to foreign visitors, according to the data; blue countries are more welcoming. Click the map (or here) to enlarge the image.
The WEF gathered the data from late 2011 through late 2012 by asking respondents, “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?” The WEF explains that the survey results are meant to help “measure the extent to which a country and society are open to tourism and foreign visitors.”
According to the data, the top three most welcoming countries for foreigners are, in order: Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco. Other high-ranking countries include the rich and peaceful of the Western world (Ireland, Canada, Austria), a few tourist havens (Thailand, United Arab Emirates), and, for some reason, big parts of West Africa.
The three countries least welcoming to foreigners are, in order: Bolivia, Venezuela and Russia. Other poorly ranked countries include the more troubled states of the greater Middle East (Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia), Eastern Europe and two East Asian states I was very surprised to see so near the bottom: China and South Korea.
Part of what makes these data so interesting is that there is no easy “grand unifying theory” that I can see, no single variable that explains the outcomes. It’s not wealth or GDP per capita: that would not explain why South Korea ranks so low, or the variance among rich Western states. It’s certainly not the number of foreign visitors: the mid-ranking United States and low-ranked China have some of the world’s highest rates of foreign tourism.
If anything, maybe what’s interesting about this map is the degree to which it seems to cut against common American perceptions of the world. Although there are definitely some Middle Eastern states in the red here, the region actually scores pretty well. Tourism-friendly Morocco is no surprise, but you might not have expected to see Yemen ranked above Sweden and Belgium.
Western Europe is generally friendly toward foreigners but, perhaps because of the touchy politics around immigration there, ranks alongside much of sub-Saharan Africa. The United States, the land of the Statue of Liberty and “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” ranks 102nd out of 140 countries, well below much of the Middle East.
One thing I’m struck by, in trying to puzzle out this map, is the apparent correlation between unfriendliness to foreigners and nationalism. That would maybe help to explain the low ratings for China and South Korea (although there are other possible factors here, including race) and for Russia. It might also help to explain why the United States, Germany and Japan — three countries with strongly nationalist histories — rank below other wealthy nations.
The nationalism theory makes a bit more sense when we look region-to-region. In Latin America, for example, a region generally friendly to foreigners, three countries stand out: Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. All three have governments that could be fairly described as nationalistic. It also makes some sense in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia and Iran rank poorly among countries that generally court foreign tourism.
But there are reasons to think my theory might be wrong: it doesn’t explain why Denmark, a rich Western European country, is so much redder than its neighbors, for example; nor does it explain the variation in southern Africa.
If you’re having a hard time keeping track of the multitude of threats issued by North Korea in the last few weeks, you’re not alone: Kim Jong Un‘s young regime is on a seemingly endless tear of warnings and provocations. From threats of a nuclear holocaust to artillery strikes near disputed borders, here are the latest shots across the bow from the Hermit Kingdom, beginning with those that followed international sanctions over Pyongyang‘s third nuclear test in February:
1. We now have “lighter and smaller” nukes, and we’re not afraid to use them against the United States.
2. Are you ready for the silent treatment? We just cut our military hotline with South Korea.
3. We also just tore up all previous non-aggression pacts with South Korea.
4. In response to these UN sanctions, we’re going to “exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack.”
5. We’re ready for “all-out war.”
6. We just invalidated the 1953 amristice, so anything’s fair game.
7. Seriously, that armistice agreement has been invalidated.
8. Now we’re sharply increasing the number of training flights for our fighter-jets.
9. Not impressed? How about we turn South Korea’s Baengyeong Island into a “sea of fire”?
10. Now we’re conducting live-fire drills near a disputed maritime border.
11. Just FYI, our military personnel are standing by to “annihilate the U.S. imperialist aggressors.”
12. At this very moment, all of our citizens are singing a song about wiping out the “U.S. imperialists.”
13. We’re so serious about going to war that we conducted a practice drone strike.
14. That’s it: We’re conducting air-raid drills.
15. We will order “strong military counter-action” if the U.S. conducts more B-52 bomber sorties.
The list, that was put together by USA Today, describes the building as ‘picturesque’ and ‘historic.’
Around the back of this picturesque Irish building dating back to the 19th century, McDonald’s has once again found a home in a historic building. The walk-up restaurant looks a tad out of place in such a pastoral location, but with a location right inside the Town Hall, they’ve certainly figured out the most central location in the city!