In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
— From In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915
It was that time of year again, when sellers of poppies knock at the door and veterans line the streets of the local town with collecting tins and trays of fake red flowers sold in aid of the Royal British Legion; a time when, if you don’t buy or wear a poppy you would be made to feel ‘unpatriotic’. But times they are a-changing.
The Watertrough Children’s Alliance (WCA)–mainly mothers with students at schools near where yet another apple orchard is being converted into a chemical vineyard–filed a lawsuit on the afternoon of Nov. 25 against the Paul Hobbs Winery. The next day Hobbs struck back with a press release, promising he “will aggressively fight.”
To paraphrase Mark Twain, everyone talks about climate change but no one does anything about it. No one, particularly those in power, wants to make the necessary sacrifices. For example, the latest round of negotiations served mainly to postpone decisions and action. The Japanese government announced that CO2 emissions there would be increasing rather than decreasing as promised. The US government still refuses to comply with international environmental agreements.
After a talk on the collapse of complex societies, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges answers an audience question: “Will it take [literature, music and art] to waken us to the empathy of other suffering or hardship?”
The official UK government policy on genetically modified (GM) crops is “precautionary, evidence-based and sensitive to public concerns”. Who are they kidding?
My heart always sinks when, listening to the BBC’s Today programme, someone from the Department for International Development starts talking about the “international food crisis”, and the starving people in all those poor undeveloped countries (the ones we helped to pauper with our empire building).
“Forcefulness seems to come easily to Mr Hollande abroad”, noted one commentator for the New York Times, who contrasted the French president’s ailing political performance at home with his robust foreign policy.
Where Francois Hollande looks weak and beleaguered on the national stage, registering as the most unpopular French president ever, his fortunes seem to rise abroad with a strident interventionist foreign policy. We saw that in September when the French president unseated the British as America’s “special friend” by declaring his country’s readiness to join Washington in a military assault on Syria.
“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. “Control food and you control the people.”
Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.
When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later. Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s. Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”
Image by Eric Bridiers via US Mission Geneva via Flickr
The “first step” agreement between Iran and the United States that was sealed in Geneva over the weekend is supposed to lead to the negotiation of a “comprehensive settlement” of the nuclear issue over the next six months, though the latter has gotten little attention.
But within hours of the agreement, there are already indications from senior U.S. officials that the Barack Obama administration is not fully committed to the conclusion of a final pact, under which economic sanctions would be completely lifted.
[By the latter part of May, 1970, feelings about the war in Vietnam had become almost unbearably intense. In Boston, about a hundred of us decided to sit down at the Boston Army Base and block the road used by buses carrying draftees off to military duty. We were not so daft that we thought we were stopping the flow of soldiers to Vietnam; it was a symbolic act, a statement, a piece of guerrilla the after. We were all arrested and charged, in the quaint language of an old statute, with “sauntering and loitering” in such a way as to obstruct traffic.