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How Agribusiness Keeps Us "Betting on Famine"

  • Betting on Famine offers a series of poignant, if unnerving, vignettes about global agriculture collected from Ziegler's years with the UN. The message is not always cohesive, yet one truth shines through: The biggest problem today is not a dearth of technology, but an overflow greed. 
  • A review of Betting on Famine ~ Jean Ziegler

Alex ParkMother Jones

BettingOnFamine300.jpg Wed Aug. 14, 2013 | Jean Ziegler, the former Special Rapporteur for Food for the United Nations, begins his new book with two disturbing statistics. "In its current state, the global agricultural system would in fact, without any difficulty, be capable of feeding 12 billion people, or twice the world's current population," he writes. And yet, "every five seconds, a child under the age of ten dies of hunger."

In Betting on Famine: Why the World Still Goes Hungry, out on August 6, Ziegler explores the disconnect between resources and the people in need of them. He tours readers around indebted countries that have transformed their agricultural base into export industries, forfeiting the ability to feed themselves. Haiti, for instance, could thirty years ago grow enough rice to feed its people, but after lowering barriers to imported rice at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, it wrecked local rice production to the point that now it must spend 80 percent of its revenue on imported food.

Alex Park is an Editorial Fellow at Mother Jones. His work has been published in PBS/MediaShift, New America Media, allAfrica.com, Time.com, and the Believer.

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Related:

Walmart’s latest organic scheme is just part of its plot to take over our food system, Stacy Mitchell, Grist 

  • To me, the pivotal question that ought to frame any discussion about Walmart’s role in our food system is: Will people and the planet be better off if Walmart grows to control 50 percent of the U.S. grocery market?
    • A Trojan Carrot

My personal Wal-Mart nightmare: You won’t believe what life is like working there

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  • The president's visiting my store Friday. He won't see how I sleep on my son's floor and eat potato chips for lunch
  • Walmart Prices Would Rise By Pennies If It Paid Workers More Than Poverty Wages

Pam RamosSalon

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Thursday, May 8, 2014 | When I woke up to see the news, I could hardly believe it: President Obama is planning a visit to the Mountain View Wal-Mart where I work.

But the excitement quickly passed when I found out the store would be shutting down hours in advance of his visit. I wouldn’t be able to tell the president what it’s like to work at Wal-Mart and what it’s like to struggle on low wages, without the hours I need. I am living at the center of the income inequality that he speaks about so often, and I wanted to talk to him about how to change this problem.

Pam Ramos has worked for four years at the Walmart in Mountain View, California. She is also a member of OUR Walmart, the worker organization calling on Walmart to publicly commit to paying workers $25,000 a year, providing full-time work and ending illegal retaliation.

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Related:

Walmart Prices Would Rise By Pennies If It Paid Workers More Than Poverty Wages, Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress 

  • If Walmart paid its employees a living wage …
  • Food Stamps Don't Keep Walmart's Prices Low; They Keep Its Profits High

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Ralph Nader Wants You to Join Right-Wing Libertarians to Solve America's Problems

  • The legendary consumer advocate has lost his political compass.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

CJ Werleman, AlterNet

May 2, 2014  | If you’re looking for the genesis of America’s widening income inequality, you can find it in a memo written in 1971 by the corporate lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. The memo was titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System” and it outlined ways in which corporations could shut out those who were hostile to corporate interests. Essentially, this memo became the blueprint for moving the boardrooms of Wall Street to the congressional chambers of Washington DC.

Powell named consumer activist Ralph Nader as corporate enemy number one. In the years 1966 to 1973, Congress passed 25 pieces of consumer legislation, nearly all of which contained Nader’s fingerprints, including auto and highway safety laws, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnson said of Nader in an interview, “The big books they [Nader and associates] put out were serious, first-rate journalism. Corporate America was terrified by this.”

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel). 

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Why are Senate DFLers blocking the toughest payday loan restrictions?

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Unified Republican opposition doesn't help, but the majority Democrats have found it hard to crack down on an industry that charges borrowers 237 percent interest per annum.

Doug Grow, MinnPost

The House bill more strictly limits payday lenders’ repeat business, with tougher checks on borrowers’ ability to repay. MinnPost file photo by Sharon Schmickle

05/14/14 | Efforts to crack down on payday loans in Minnesota could again be headed to “Wait’ll-next-year’’ status.

Yes, the Minnesota House has passed a bill that would put tougher restrictions on operations that charge the state’s poorest interest rates of 250 percent-plus.

And yes, the governor on Monday tried to shed more light on the business practices that operate in the shadows of decency.

Doug Grow writes about state politics, public affairs and other topics. He was a newspaper journalist for 37 years, writing sports columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Minneapolis Star, and then a metro column for the Star Tribune. 

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Millions to ‘March Against Monsanto’ on May 24

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  • “We will not allow this ‘Garden of Eden’ to be compromised by the destructive practices of multinational corporations like Monsanto,” Josh Castro, organizer for Quito, Ecuador’s march, said in a statement for the global march. “Biotechnology is not the solution to world hunger.
  • Click here for a full list of March Against Monsanto events.
  • Walmart’s latest organic scheme is just part of its plot to take over our food system.

Brandon Baker, EcoWatch

marchagainstmonsanto.jpegThe March Against Monsanto will take place in about 150 more cities than last year. Photo credit: Becker1999/Flickr Creative Commons 

May 12, 2014 | Regardless where you live, May 24 marks the annual opportunity to March Against Monsanto.

The event protesting the GMO (genetically modified organisms) giant will simultaneously take place in more than 400 cities in 52 countries that span six continents. That’s up from 36 cities in 286 countries last year. Among the marches is one in St. Louis, MO, which is home to Monsanto’s headquarters.

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Brandon Baker: Business Editor at EcoWatch/Freelance Journalist

Full story … 

Related:

Walmart’s latest organic scheme is just part of its plot to take over our food system, Stacy Mitchell, Grist

  • To me, the pivotal question that ought to frame any discussion about Walmart’s role in our food system is: Will people and the planet be better off if Walmart grows to control 50 percent of the U.S. grocery market?
  • A Trojan Carrot 

Truth to Tell | Minnesota Co-ops: 80 years and Start of People-Powered Ownership

  • Today, the cooperative movement remains strong in Minnesota, even if the vision of social transformation isn’t as wide-spread as it was in the 30’s.
  • Not all the cooperative movement is entirely benign. 
  • Millions to ‘March Against Monsanto’ on May 24

Andy Driscoll and Siohbhan Kierans, Truth to Tell, KFAI-FM | MN

TTT-KFAISM.thumbnail.pngNot all the cooperative movement is entirely benign. Massive energy distributor and producer cooperatives have often stepped into the corporate model of governance and less transparent, not to mention questionable huge coop owners.

Land-O-Lakes, CENEX, Twin Cities Milk Producers, whose products may be quality competitive, but not always the most affordable and often have been allowed by state agencies to run roughshod over farmlands with dairy, corn and livestock “cooperative” producers not always operating the public interest environmentally and open governance.

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  • LaDonna Redmond, Co-Director, Agriculture and Justice (HECUA), Education and Outreach Coordinator, Seward Coop; Student of the African-American cooperative tradition and veteran of the food justice movement.
  • Jill Livingston, Capitalization Specialist with Seward Coop, Friendship Store Project organizer.
  • Dave Gutnecht, Editor, Cooperative Grocer; and pioneer in the Twin Cities food cooperative movement. 
  • Joan Stockinger, development specialist with Cooperative Development Services, and co-author with Dave Gutknecht of a recently released case study of the cooperative local food system. 

Broadcast: in Minneapolis/St. Paul KFAI-90.3/106.7/Streamed @ KFAI.org 9-10AM, Monday, April 28, 2014

Archived: Click here.

Watch us in Studio 5! TruthToTell is now seen live on Livestream and later on Blip.tv.

Hosted by veteran producer Andy Driscoll and co-hosted by Siohbhan Kierans, TruthToTell (TTT) is weekly a public affairs radio show that features multiple perspectives on a wide variety of critical local, state and regional issues.

Full story … 

Related:

Millions to ‘March Against Monsanto’ on May 24, Brandon Baker, EcoWatch 

  • “We will not allow this ‘Garden of Eden’ to be compromised by the destructive practices of multinational corporations like Monsanto,” Josh Castro, organizer for Quito, Ecuador’s march, said in a statement for the global march. “Biotechnology is not the solution to world hunger.
  • Click here for a full list of March Against Monsanto events.
  • Walmart’s latest organic scheme is just part of its plot to take over our food system.

Eminent Domain: The Real Solution to Scumbag Sports Owners

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  • Why aren’t the football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other major sports franchises so many of us so passionately love and support not owned by the communities that give them their life? 
  • Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers
  • Bill Moyers | Stadium Funding Deals Only Enrich the Plutocrats

Harvey Wasserman, Truthdig

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Apr 29, 2014 | Enough is enough, sports fans.

It’s been known for decades that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a racist jerk. Ditto Daniel Snyder, the owner of that professional football team in our nation’s capital whose current horrific anti-indigenous team name is a global embarrassment.

But these guys are the tip of the iceberg. The real question is: Why are these teams owned by individuals at all? Why do we allow our precious sports clubs to be the playthings of a bunch of wealthy degenerates?

Why aren’t the football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other major sports franchises so many of us so passionately love and support not owned by the communities that give them their life? Why is our nation powerless to remove the racist logo from a public stadium just down the street from the White House and Congress?

 

Harvey Wasserman, Truthdig contributor, is a life-long activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, history, drug war, election protection and grassroots politics.

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Related:

Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers, Alissa Scheller, Huffington Post 

11/27/13 | The NFL may be generating money faster than Peyton Manning can rack up touchdowns but the league's owners have a history of looking for handouts when it comes time to pay for new stadiums. Here is a look at the staggering amount of public funds used to build the homes for NFL teams as well as a few of the NFL's other staggering fiscal stats.

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Bill Moyers | Stadium Funding Deals Only Enrich the Plutocrats, BillMoyers.com Staff

In 2008, as the damage from Wall Street’s collapsing house of cards spread through the brick-and-mortar economy, Bill Moyers took an Emmy Award-winning look at the new Yankee Stadium project, seeing in it a shining illustration of our new Gilded Age.

The Struggle for Survival of the Long-term Unemployed

  • Are the Long-Term Unemployed on the Margins of the Labor Market?
  • Part 1: It’s Still Bad for the Long-Term Unemployed
  • Part 2: The unemployment insurance graveyard
  • From high hopes to low wages: What happened to the American Dream?

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest



Part 1: It’s Still Bad for the Long-Term Unemployed

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  • About 7.4 million Americans – up from 7.2 million as of November – are working part-time but would like to be working full-time.
  • Many among the long-term jobless accept a crummy job or simply give up.
  • From high hopes to low wages: What happened to the American Dream?

Annie Lowrey, New York (NY) Times

04economix-longterm-blog480.pngApril 4, 2014 | At first blush, it’s great news. The number of long-term unemployed Americans – meaning those out of a job for more than six months – has dropped to 3.7 million in March from a high of 6.8 million in April 2010. The ranks of the long-term jobless have plummeted by 837,000 over the past year alone, helping to drive down the unemployment rate.

But not so fast. The labor market has largely normalized in terms of short-term unemployment. But it gets worse and worse the longer you’ve been out of a job. As the chart that ran with a story I wrote today shows, short-term joblessness is actually well below its 2007 level. Long-term joblessness is still more than twice as high.

Annie Lowrey reports on economic policy for the New York Times. Previously Lowrey covered the economy as the Moneybox columnist for Slate. She was also a staff writer for the Washington Independent and served on the editorial staffs of Foreign Policy and The New Yorker.

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Part 2: The unemployment insurance graveyard

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  • Senate negotiators toiled for months to revive long-term unemployment benefits in a manner that could draw the support of both centrist Republicans and liberal Democrats.
  • But that effort was all for naught.

Burgess EverettPOLITICO

5/18/14 | The jobless aid bill that narrowly passed the Senate in early April would extend the benefits to June 1 — but barring a surprise breakthrough, there’s almost no chance the House will take up that legislation or an alternative of its own during the last two weeks of May.

So, the lack of agreement between the two chambers is sending the bill’s chief sponsors back to square one — with several Republicans doubting the Senate has the stamina to find billions more dollars to pay for a longer-term bill and then persuade the House to pass it.

Burgess Everett is a congressional reporter for POLITICO

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Related:

From high hopes to low wages: What happened to the American Dream? Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, and Kirk A. Foster, Salon

 

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