At the end of the article is a well placed quote from Vandana Shiva, one of the most outspoken and articulate critics of bioengineered crops, and one of the most ardent supporters of honest trade and land rights for Indian farmers. Here’s the excerpt:
A few weeks ago, I was in Punjab. 2,800 widows of farmer suicides who have lost their land, are having to bring up children as landless workers on others’ land. And yet, the system does not respond to it, because there’s only one response: get Monsanto out of the seed sector–they are part of this genocide — and ensure WTO rules are not bringing down the prices of agricultural produce in the United States, in Canada, in India, and allow trade to be honest. I don’t think we need to talk about free trade and fair trade. We need to talk about honest trade. Today’s trade system, especially in agriculture, is dishonest, and dishonesty has become a war against farmers. It’s become a genocide.
Please check out the complete interview that Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! conducted with Vandana Shiva (read the transcript or watch the video). I *heart* Vandana Shiva, saw her speak at the World Social Forum in Nairobi and she is a RIGHTEOUS passionate woman who knows her shit. She is NOT one to be messed with. Love her.
This year, the final stops will be pulled, and NAFTA will be the great train derailing everything in sight. On 90.7FM (KPFK) in Los Angeles, I heard a wonderful interview (can’t remember who it was with) but essentially, this is what’s happening — we’re pulling the final stops on any restrictions (tarriffs, etc) on our huge corporate agribusiness companies’ exports of corn and beans to Mexico, this year.
What does this mean?
In simple terms, we’re putting the rural campesino, the rural farmer who grows and sustains his family on corn or beans, two of Mexico’s staple crops since Aztec and mayan times, IN DIRECT COMPETITION with ConAgra and other huuuuuuuge multimillion dollar multimillion acre American companies.
Mexican rural farmers will be buying our corn and beans from the United States. And they won’t be able to compete because we’re bigger, badder, and yes, our government subsidizes these goods. So not only is the rural campesino pitted against big American corporate business, we’re given the unfair advantage of heavily subsidized (therefore cheaper to the mexican govt than their own farmers’ goods) goods. Yes, yes. And 80% of “illegal immigrants” (for those in america who have the gall to call ANYONE illegal) come from rural parts of Mexico. It’s not so hard to connect the dots.
Oh yes! The show was Connect the Dots — where I heard this interview. NOW it’s all making sense.
I’ve not gone into how NAFTA hurts American farmers, that will be saved for another post. other than the quick mention that more than 1 million US jobs have been lost as a result of NAFTA, wages have stagnated, and outsourcing became the norm because of NAFTA.
But this brings me to this point — who of the leading democratic candidates is passionate about repealing NAFTA’s unfair “free trade” that benefits NEITHER mexicans NOR working Americans (only benefits the corporate elites on either side). Who? ONLY John Edwards. Because he cares about the workers, the middle class.
I’m feeling Obama’s talk and his visions of hope, and yes they’re very moving, but underneath that talk I’m not feeling any commitment to the middle class on issues of “free trade”. Very recently he supported a unilateral USA-Peru Free Trade Agreement. When the US cannot con a whole region into believing the virtues of its free trade, it attempts to create unilateral free trade agreements where other countries can be manipulated a bit more. And this is what happened with Peru. If you look at the details of the US/Peru free trade agreement, it helps NEITHER the middle class in Peru, NOR the middle class in the United States. [of note, and of IMPORTANT note -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn't even show up for the vote on the US-Peru free trade issue, but they both noted their support for it previous to the vote].
It’s all pretty infuriating. There’s not much making me feel like a vote for Obama or a vote for Clinton would be a vote for the status quo of the democratic party (the party that pushed through NAFTA). Not to say they couldn’t be nudged to the left if one of them wins the dem nomination. But come on, people want change. And change shouldn’t have to be nudged right now.
Is it too much to ask to not HAVE to nudge? To not beg and plead?
Some Edwards love, as I’ve been doing, and will continue to do, as long as he’s in the fight:
A physician posted a diary over at Daily Kos entitled “A Physician’s View of John Edwards” and has received quite a warm crowd of positive responses from other physicians who feel as passionately about Edwards. A few months ago, two friends and I thought it would be super rad to create an informal Docs for Edwards group, to put some weight of support behind Edwards from what others might initially think was an unlikely group of supporters given his work in medical malpractice. Physicians too often have a knee-jerk negative reaction to Edwards, because of his previous work. But that work was directly supporting patients who had been wrongly treated, and for those who like to think more broadly about presidential candidates, Edwards really has something to deliver on universal health care, labor/trade issues, medical review boards, economic justice, and other truly important issues. Plus, check out who taketh the money:
Do you know which two United States senators took in the most money from HMOs this current cycle?
#1. Hillary Clinton
#2. Barack Obama
First and second place– out of all 100 senators, Republican and Democrat. (from Open Secrets)
Health Services/HMOs: Money to Congress, Election cycle: 2008
1) Clinton, Hillary (D) — $246,480
2) Obama, Barack (D) — $175,093
John Edwards was completely right– the Clintons had all three branches of government, and they didn’t get anything passed that remotely resembled Universal Health Care. Regardless of their true intentions, that’s what “sitting at the table” gets you.
John has a history of taking on big HMOs for the little guy and winning. He and Elizabeth are now fighting to bring good health care coverage inexpensively to everyone.
Just like they’re fighting to end global warming and our dependence on non-renewable energy.
Just like they’re fighting to redeploy the combat troops from Iraq, and bring most of them home to their families.
I can’t speak for all physicians, but this physician trusts John Edwards to do the right thing.
Corporate control of congress must come to an end– now.
We deserve a President who is bought and paid for by the American people.
Oooh I like that — we deserve a president who is bought and paid for by the American people! Edwards repeatedly talks about the corporate interests in medicine, something that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama omit from their discussions (for reasons stated above, perhaps?) And I recall Edwards saying, “when i’m president, dissent will once again be patriotic”.
(yes, it’s true, Kucinich has the MOST progressive platform of ANY democratic candidate, by a landslide. But it’s a discussion for another time — why I’d vote for Edwards over Kucinich right now, when it’s SO imperative that we have a dem win in 2008. though i did hear on KPFK FM this morning that Kucinich is risin’ up in the polls for the Iowa primaries, and that’s SUPER rad).
The video is beautiful. Just beautiful. Check it out. THIS man will get my vote in the democratic primaries, and for the reasons above. His words on predatory lending issues and labor issues moved me greatly.
“I listen to George Bush – about as little as I can get away with, but here is what I hear… Stay home, watch television, go shopping. Me and Dick Cheney, we’ll take care of ya’. I don’t want that crowd taking care of me! I don’t trust em’, that is not America! We are not a country that cowers in the corner waiting for someone to watch over us. We are strong, we are courageous, we are out there pushing the envelope. And by the way, when I’m the president of the United States of America, DISSENT WILL ONCE AGAIN BE PATRIOTIC!”
At the AFL-CIO democratic presidential candidate debate this past week, retired union member Steve Skvara asked a simple health care question of the candidates. In response, he received a STANDING OVATION from thousands of audience members in the stadium. This is phenomenal, it is amazing how front-and-center health care is in the peoples’ minds, during this election. Check out the video:
And Mitt Romney was challeneged on health care while giving a stump speech in a restaurant, where he mentioned his desire to export “healthcare diplomacy” to other nations, and a waitress really prodded him on the american health care system. Video below:
Exciting. Also related, not to health care but to the use of these technologies — the CNN/YouTube republican presidential candidate debate is coming up (september 17th). Thanks to Pop and Politics for sharing sharing two YouTube videos that americans have submittedthese two videos submitted by viewers — good, solid, hard-hitting questions:
I’m so absolutely fascinated by videoblogging, YouTube, and other video/audio technologies, and especially with their use in politics and health.
In the meantime, I’ll be participating in tomorrow’s Great LA Health Care Rally sponsored by OneCareNow and other organizations, in support of universal health care in California, and hope to post some video footage from that event!
I’m joining the Work Less Party, after my family medicine residency is over, that is. 1 year, 6 weeks to go and counting! Check out the article that this below is excerpted from, a fascinating correlation between working more and consuming more/destroying the environment/being more anxious and less happy.
It’s just those kind of values Schmidt has tried to encourage in his Work Less Party. Schmidt, a former computer programmer, started by getting rid of his car and cycling to work, then took advantage of the savings by reducing his workweek, which allowed him enough time to write his book, make two documentaries, and organize a community theater group — all in the last three years.
“People spend so many hours working they have no idea of how much creative potential they have, but you get a taste of mental freedom you want more of it. It’s an explosion of creativity.” says Schmidt, quickly adding, “I’m a workaholic, but it’s the type of work that’s the problem. Our society is focused on work that makes stuff that goes directly into landfills. Essential work such as art, music, creativity, community, the kind necessary to create a healthy society and planet, is being negated in favor of that.”
If there’s any solution to increasing our well-being, as well as the planet’s, Schmidt’s advice flies counter to our driven consumerism. “If you want to protect the environment, you have to consume less, which means you have to produce less, and you have to work less. We have to keep the message positive — our standard of living will improve hugely. I think people are starting to make the connection.”
So who’s with me?
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