Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hikers and GMO’s

I haven’t had a lot of time lately for the blog, I’m working on a big project, but here are a couple of quickies.

Hikers Wander Into Iran

Is anybody else a little suspicious about the story of innocent American hikers accidentally wandering into Iran? I’m an avid hiker and I’ve hoofed it in several exotic places – Borneo, Indonesia, Nepal, for instance – but I can’t imagine going to one of the most dangerous countries in the world just to walk in the mountains. I might go to Iraq just for the thrill of being in a dangerous place, but if I’m looking for scenery that’s about the last place I’d go.

The hikers have been in the news lately because of the release of one of the three and I’ve read lots of articles about them but they never give any background. Was it a day hike, or were they backpacking for several days?

And where have they hiked before? If it was the Congo, Yemen, rebel controlled Columbia then I’d believe their story.

Or was it the Appalachian Trail, where there are trail signs every couple of miles and facilities near the trail at regular intervals? There certainly are no signs in northern Iraq. And if there were they’d be in Arabic or Kurdish. One could not possibly go to a place like that without a local guide or at least really good topographical maps. And if you had accurate maps there’s no way you’d innocently wander into Iranian territory, especially if you were on a day hike.

The US has been funneling money into Iranian insurgent groups so maybe they were there to make contact. The idea that they were there only for the scenery beggars belief.

American Consumers Not Allowed to Know if Their Food Contains GMO’s

This is in the news because genetically modified salmon are about to enter the market. The question is whether it should be labeled as such. According to the FDA, the government agency charged with food safety, it would only confuse people to know what’s in their food, and besides, according to the industry, there’s no scientific difference between natural and genetically modified foods.

It’s easy to understand why FDA, which is basically an industry mouthpiece, doesn’t allow producers to label their food as GMO free: if they did, their sales would plummet. GMO’s, also known as frankenfoods, are allowed in Europe and Japan if they are labeled as such, but since nobody in those countries would knowingly buy GMO’s, American exporters don’t even bother trying.

As for there being no difference, someone should tell that to the Monarch butterflies who were subject to a little GMO experiment about ten years ago. In that study, milkweed, the only thing the butterflies eat, was dusted with modified corn pollen. In a short time half the insects died and the other half had serious stomach problems. The control group which ate milkweed dusted with natural corn pollen, suffered no ill effects whatever.

The New York Times published an article at the time which tried to put a little industrial spin on the matter by saying it really wasn’t a problem for the butterflies since they don’t eat corn. Yes, very true, but people do. Now I realize it’s entirely possible that a substance can be toxic to one species while it’s harmless to another, but still the two - GMO and natural – were shown in that research to be obviously, demonstrably different. That wasn’t the only study to show drastic effects on small animals and insects of eating frankenfood, but powerful as it is, Monsanto, the number one producer, has been very effective in burying results that effect its bottom line. No studies have been done on humans.

There has been a large and not easily explainable spike in cases of asthma and other more serious diseases in America over the last twenty years or so, coinciding with the introduction of GMO’s. Personally, I almost never buy processed food from America since anything produced there that isn’t labeled organic, contains GMO corn or soybean or canola. Fortunately we here in Cambodia always have the choice of buying European or from neighboring countries where GMO’s have not yet been introduced.

On a related note, researchers in North Dakota discovered recently that all the wild canola growing along the roadsides in the state was frankenfood. So much for the ability to contain GMO’s or the ability to grow non-GMO’s anywhere in North Dakota.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Repug Response to Doomsday: Bring it On

Some people in the past have accused me of hoping for Armageddon, like I really want the world to suffer. Admittedly part of me feels like we should just do it, you know, get it over with so we can start fresh. At the rate the world is being trashed, we might even be better off, at least in the long run, if we let the organized world unravel before the entire sphere is poisoned. Only a bad-assed torturer wants to see famine, flood, disease and environmental degradation; I only want the world to wake up.

For years now, I’ve kept thinking it can’t get any worse before the people wise up to challenge the status quo. Now for sure they will demand fairness, equity, intelligence in governance. But then the morass the country is in far surpasses my worst expectations and yet the American people don’t seem to notice but only want to go even more negative, choose the least enlightened path, bring the country back to the glory days of Herbert Hoover. And so it’s not just possible but likely the Repugs will take back the congress. Unbelievable, almost unimaginable, but true.

And what would be top of their agenda? Witch hunts: the search for semen stained dresses and minute personal failings. That’ll show em for totally letting us off the hook for lying about wars and giving us a pass on admitted and egregious crimes against the constitution. Democrats don’t want to bring up the past, they want to just move on and be one big bipartisan happy family. This is like a young doe trying to make nice with a hungry tiger. In fact, cats like to play with their prey before they eat them, so they can have some fun together until lunchtime.

Their second priority is to rein in government spending to tackle the deficit. It’s those entitlements that are the problem. All those lazy Americans depending on government handouts; i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, Food Stamps, are going to have to take a hit if the economy is to be righted. According to Alan Simpson, former senator from Wyoming who Obama appointed to the government’s deficit reduction commission, Americans only want to suck off the government’s tits and what they really need is hard lessons in taking care of themselves.

Their other major goal is to continue Bushman’s tax cuts for the wealthy. The fact that tax cuts run counter to deficit reduction doesn’t seem to matter much in Repug theory.

And most amazingly, or maybe not, the people are eating it up. Yeah, bring it on.

One problem the Dumbs have, as a result of their general incompetence and extreme fecklessness, is the enthusiasm gap. The Tea Partiers are fired up about the country being run by a socialistic black man who wasn’t even born in America and is a Muslim besides. They are going to vote.

Professional Leftists - in the immortal words of Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary - on the other hand are going to stay home in droves. What was his big complaint about we, the radical leftist fringe that is never happy with the Obama administration? How about that we’d never be satisfied until we had Canadian-style single-payer health care. The fact that every single poll taken during the health care debate showed large majorities of Americans as a whole – around 60% - and overwhelming majorities of Democrats – around 90% - were in favor of single-payer never seemed to matter or even register… no, universal health care is so far out radical it’s like asking for the moon.

Gibbs’ idiotic outburst wasn’t the first time administration officials had gone out of their way to insult, trample on, stab in the back the people who brought them into office. He thinks the people who elected Obama really wouldn’t be happy until Dennis Kucinich was president. Well, Dennis is certainly one of the very few Dumbs willing to speak truth to power and to actually represent the majority’s wishes, but he never was very electable. No what we really wanted was the Obama we were promised. Instead we got a corporate shill more interested in compromise with the party of NO than actually accomplishing anything of lasting value. One who snatched worthlessness from the jaws of opportunity.

The other major Repug goal is to shut down the government. More power to them, I say, maybe this time they really will be so bad, the people will finally take matters in their own hands and even the Dumbs will have to respond. But I doubt it. If the Dumbs controlled congress by 80% or 90% in place of the 60% they have now, they’d still find excuses to kowtow to the Repugs and ignore the will of the majority of Americans.

No matter how much shit gets thrown in the face of the American people, they still can’t seem to smell it. They still want to elect a government intent on throwing money at the wealthy in spite of the fact that they have a bigger share of American income than any time since 1928. And in spite of the reality that that income disparity is one of the root causes of America’s problems today.

If they can’t smell the shit when it’s thrown in their faces maybe they will when they are buried up to their necks in it. One can only hope. Meanwhile I’m thrilled I don’t have to live there (couldn’t afford to if I wanted on my Social Security) otherwise I’d be ten times as angry and depressed about the US as I am now.