Tag Archives | U.S.

Gates Foundation’s Seed Agenda in Africa ‘Another Form of Colonialism,’ Warns Protesters

Calling out a scheme to privatize Africa's seed resources, protesters in London picketed outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday, March 23, 2015. (Photo: Global Justice Now/cc/flickr)

Calling out a scheme to privatize Africa’s seed resources, protesters in London picketed outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday, March 23, 2015. (Photo: Global Justice Now/cc/flickr)

Originally Published on Common Dreams.

‘This neoliberal agenda of deregulation and privatization poses a serious threat to food sovereignty and the ability of food producers and consumers to define their own food systems and policies,’ says campaigners

Food sovereignty activists are shining a light on a closed-door meeting between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which are meeting in London on Monday with representatives of the biotechnology industry to discuss how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa.

Early Monday, protesters picketed outside the Gates Foundation’s London offices holding signs that called on the foundation to “free the seeds.” Some demonstrators handed out packets of open-pollinated seeds, which served as symbol of the “alternative to the corporate model promoted by USAID and BMGF.” Others smashed a piñata, which they said represented the “commercial control of seed systems;” thousands of the seeds which filled the pinata spilled across the office steps.

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New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Public schools are outperforming charter schools in Minnesota, in some cases “dramatically,” according to a new analysis by the state’s Star-Tribune newspaper.

In addition, many charter schools fail to adequately support minority students, close examination of the data revealed.

Journalist Kim McGuire looked at 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools and found “that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.”

Between 2011 and 2014, McGuire reported, 20 charter schools failed to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, “signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.”

Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that she was troubled by the information, “which runs counter to ‘the public narrative’ that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.”

“Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color,” the Star-Tribune claims.

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Jailed Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Wins Battle to Receive Hormone Therapy

Pfc. Chelsea Manning in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army. Defense Department officials say hormone treatment for gender reassignment has been approved for Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. (Photo: U.S. Army/File)

Pfc. Chelsea Manning in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army. Defense Department officials say hormone treatment for gender reassignment has been approved for Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. (Photo: U.S. Army/File)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army whistleblower who leaked thousands of internal military and State Department documents to help expose wrongdoing by the U.S. government, will receive the hormone treatment she has been fighting to receive since she was first sent to Ft. Leavenworth prison in 2013.

Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing, among other materials, video footage of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians from a helicopter in Iraq in 2007. Following her conviction, Manning came out publicly as transgender and soon upon her arrival at Ft. Leavenworth requested that she been given the hormone therapy which the medical community officially agrees is essential to her health and well-being.

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Are You Living with a Terrorist?

The cover of an internal National Counterterrorism Center report which includes a rating system designed to analyze the proclivity of individuals to become radical extremists. (Image: screenshot)

The cover of an internal National Counterterrorism Center report which includes a rating system designed to analyze the proclivity of individuals to become radical extremists. (Image: screenshot)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

A government document obtained by journalists at The Intercept reveals the National Counterterrorism Center developed a complex set of criteria to help determine if individuals in the U.S. may be more vulnerable than others to the allure of violent extremism and created a “rating system” that would help law enforcement agents rank such prospects.

Posting the complete NCTC document (link/pdf)—which was marked “Unclassified” but also “For Official Use Only” (FOUO)—to their website on Monday, The Intercept reports:

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.

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Why Cuba, and Why Now? One Missing Perspective on the Story

Unpolluted Caribbean Beach, similar to the endangered beached of Cuba. (Photo: Hugo Marin)

Unpolluted Caribbean Beach, similar to the endangered beached of Cuba. (Photo: Hugo Marin)

Hugo Marin and Joyce Meghan, writing at Common Dreams:

The so-called “thaw” between the United States and Cuba has been celebrated by many on the political Left and Right in the United States, while disdained by those on the far Right. What has been absent from the conversation has been the voice of the Pro-Global South and the Cuban people in Cuba. It is critical for Westerners involved in this debate to organize the information in a global and historical context that centers on the Cuban people and their interests.

The mid-far Left views the thaw as a path toward a positive relationship with Cuba and a means to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison. The bipartisan center views this as a path toward a diplomatic relationship with Cuba that would include vast capitalist opportunities for US corporations.

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Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt.

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Gaza’s Kids Seek A Voice Amidst the Chaos


Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

A severe winter storm dubbed Huda this week brought ever more suffering to the long-suffering residents of Gaza, especially the over 100,000 people left homeless by last summer’s Israeli assault – an assault whose aftermath former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk has just declared “catastrophic…a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza.” The storm, added to existing hardships in Gaza, has prompted Palestinian authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Huda unleashed heavy cold rains that caused widespread flooding, brutal winds and hail in Gaza, along with snow and even colder temperatures for Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon. With a still-blockaded Gaza having received less than 2 percent of an estimated 5 million tons of materials needed to rebuild, between 100,000 and 170,000 Gazans still lack adequate shelter and live huddled in tents, rubble or half-demolished homes. They also lack power – because Gaza’s sole power station was bombed by Israel last summer – and fuel, because the Israeli-Egyptian blockade continues.

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Is Apple Holding More Cash Than The U.S.?

Photo: TheIronLion

Photo: TheIronLion

Do US companies have more money than the US government? Recent financial figures show that Apple does. Via BBC News:

Apple now has more cash to spend than the United States government.

Latest figures from the US Treasury Department show that the country has an operating cash balance of $73.7bn (£45.3bn).

Apple’s most recent financial results put its reserves at $76.4bn (£46.9bn).

The US House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill to raise the country’s debt ceiling, allowing it to borrow more money to cover spending commitments.

If it fails to extend the current limit of $14.3 trillion (£8.7tn) dollars, the federal government could find itself struggling to make payments, and risks the loss of its AAA credit rating.

[Continues at BBC News]

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