Volatility

December 31, 2015

The 2015 Blogging Year, and An American Revolution Reprise

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Each year WordPress sends me a “Your year in blogging” report, which includes several stats such as which posts got the most hits.
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No surprise that three perennial workhorses were #s 2, 3, and 4. These are my “Nietzsche and Scientism” from 2009 (which I recently reblogged, because its themes are relevant to the things I write about these days), and from 2011 “American Revolutionary Principles” parts One and Three, respectively on representation and sovereignty. (Part Two is on constitutionalism and rights.) These three posts get a steady trickle of hits almost every week, and are always at the top of the yearly list. #1 this year was 2015’s demolition of the fraudulent pro-GM propagandists, “By Their Own Standard Credentialist Pro-GMO Activists Are Ignorant Yahoos”. This got so many hits because it was featured by GMWatch and from there reblogged at several other prominent sites. #5 was another important 2015 anti-poison piece, “There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering.
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The three anti-scientism pieces are part of this site’s ongoing project to bring about the abolition of corporate agriculture, so there’s no special need to summarize them here. Click the links to read the word.
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But since it’s been some years since I delved into the political philosophy of the American Revolution, I thought I’d briefly quote from those two pieces.
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These paragraphs contain the basic argument of the piece on representation.
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“So what does [the American] revolutionary logic say about representative government? Summary: “Virtual representation” has no authority, and nominal representation in Parliament doesn’t necessarily have authority. So there’s no necessary reason any representative form would be authoritative and legitimate. By the American ideology, representative government has no compelling principled logic. It stands or falls according to empirical observation, how well it works in practice…
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“[A]ccording to the American Revolution, not only is virtual representation unacceptable, but nominal voting rights and representation also isn’t sufficient to legitimize government. If there’s anything which renders representative government legitimate, it’s not the act of voting. (BTW, let’s remember that the 1788 Constitution doesn’t guarantee any right to vote at all. It only says that to the extent states grant the privilege of voting, they can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and a few other categories.)
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In fact, the Americans had no principle of representation, but a purely practical view: Does it protect freedom against the encroachments of power or not. They asked practical questions like, Is there an identity of interests between representatives and people?”
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I add at one point, as a thought to be further developed later on: “As a creature, a representative is an artificial, contingent thing just like a corporation. The responsibility (not right), accountability (not independence) of each is the same and must be enforced, or else the artificial program must be discontinued…”
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“Through all this the American Revolution arrived at a new theory of consent. Locke had said consent only needed to be given on election day (Rousseau scoffed at this), and at the supreme crisis moments of rebellion. But the Americans were working toward a more direct, participatory democracy on a permanent basis. The implicit principle is that direct consent is needed at all times, not just special times. This dovetails well with the power/liberty tension, since the necessary citizen vigilance against power can be maintained only through everyday democratic participation.
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“The first phase of the Revolution didn’t follow through on these implications, but settled on a concept of representation somewhat more accountable than the British concept, but still maintaining it as a “substitute for legislation by direct action of the people”. This implicitly admitted that direct democracy is the ideal, and merely claimed that accountable representation could function better in practice. Therefore representative government is legitimate only if it truly and effectively provides such a substitute. If it is unable or unwilling to do this, it dissolves itself, and we must move on to true, direct council democracy.
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“Representation was never anything more than democracy’s regent, meant to nurture ever-expanding democracy until this could fully flourish on its own. Today we the people are ready to take the full democratic responsibility upon ourselves, while the regent has abdicated and degenerated into a usurper. For both these reasons, we have and want no other choice but to walk the path of positive freedom and democracy.”
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The US governmental system, especially from 1788 onward, never lived up to these ideals and goals, on the contrary it has generally sought to subvert and destroy them. That’s led us to the seemingly terminal political and economic bottleneck now crushing us. It will be terminal unless we the people embrace, live and fight for new ideas, including a renaissance of the classical ideas of freedom expressed as the song of the American Revolution, yet so neglected and suppressed in historical practice since those classic days.
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This also means a rediscovery of the idea and practice of we the people’s political, economic, and spiritual sovereignty.
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“The basic idea of sovereignty is that there’s an essential authority in the polity which is above and beyond temporal authority and law and is the source of these, the yardstick by which they are measured. Otherwise these would be purely arbitrary and autocratic…
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“1. Sovereignty is mutable through history. Concrete institutions don’t embody it, but are only representative of it.
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“2. The American Revolution accelerated an ideological evolution of the concept, and the view of where sovereignty reposes, going back to the 16th century in Europe. The final recognition was that sovereignty reposes neither in King or Parliament, or necessarily in any governmental institution, but only in the people.
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“3. So today’s governments are to be tolerated or rejected at the people’s will, as they are nothing but servants of the people’s sovereignty. (Meanwhile, corporations and globalization cadres are non-sovereign in principle, and must be eradicated as they are invariably anti-sovereign in practice.)”
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I think the subject matter here is especially interesting in the way it traces the critical importance of the evolution of ideas and political consciousness in mustering the forces which ignited the American Revolution. If we the people want to break free of corporate rule and the assaults on our prosperity and well-being by the literal poisoners of our food, water, and air, we must similarly do the work of developing the necessary ideas for this pivotal age.
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December 25, 2015

GMO News Summary, December 25th, 2015

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*Bt cotton may be the most failure-prone and fraudulent (as far as the claims made for it) of all widely deployed GMOs. Even where it works temporarily against the target pest (and often it fails even at that), it’s quickly decimated by secondary pests. And it’s never more than a few years before the target bollworm develops resistance. Today the pink bollworm is devastating the cotton crop of India’s Karnataka state. This is in spite of Monsanto’s Bollgard II deploying two Bt toxins, Cry2AB2 and Cry1AC, against this pest. The original Bollgard produced just Cry1AC. That product was overwhelmed by the superbugs years ago.
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Even Keshav Kranthi of the Indian Central Institute for Cotton Research (by no means anti-GMO) admits that no cotton hybrid including the Bt varieties would stand a chance without the seeds being coated with imidacloprid. So once again we see how the “less pesticides” is also a pure fraud. (And that’s not even counting the endotoxins themselves as part of the pesticide load.) So Bt cotton is the ultimate fraud among GMOs which have actually been widely deployed. Of the Indian states, Karnataka has been one of the most grievously bereaved by the small cotton farmer suicide epidemic, and its government has been one of the most exasperated and active in trying to reform the situation. But they’ve still not done nearly enough. Nothing short of completely driving out the ineffective, fraudulent, and malign product will suffice.
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*K.P. Prabhakaran Nair, former Professor of the National Science Foundation, publicly declares that GMOs represent an agricultural paradigm which runs counter to Indian food security. In doing so he agrees with food sovereignty campaigners as well as the supreme court’s specially appointed Technical Expert Committee and two parliamentary committees.
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*Companies who deserve one another. Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB), which is Monsanto’s main distributorship in India, has complained in court about nine seed contractors which have failed to remit the Monsanto tax on Bollgard II cotton. MMB has now canceled its contracts with three of these companies. The tax is 183 rupees (about $2.77 today) on a 450 gram seed packet. Prices per packet now vary from state to state, from 830 to 1000 rupees (c.$12.60-15.15) for a packet. This inexplicable variation is why the central government, which has imposed controls in the past to try to reduce stabilize obscene seed prices, is undertaking a new round of price control.
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*There was double good news as the furtive congressional attempt to attach the anti-science, anti-democracy DARK Act to the spending bill was thwarted, while a rider supposedly ordering the FDA to institute a labeling policy for GM salmon was attached. In fact there’s considerable ambiguity about whether this law directs the FDA to institute mandatory labeling, or just a voluntary policy.
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GM salmon is a stupid product concept. What difference could it make that the thing grows faster; fish farmers always have new generations coming to maturity anyway. I think that just like with hoaxes like “golden rice” and other worthless “product quality” GMOs like the botox apple, one of the main purposes is as a propaganda exercise, trying to normalize direct GM foods in the diet. And of course the techno-hype, however fraudulent, is supposed to confuse farmers, manufacturers, and retailers, as usual, and therefore be profitable for the patent-holders.
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*At the behest of environmental and public health campaigners, the city council of Barcelona is banning the use of cancer-causing glyphosate in public parks and green spaces. The ban will be phased in over the course of a year. The council cited glyphosate’s propensity to persist in the water and soil and its toxicity to animals.
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*The Swiss Federal Council has announced its decision to extend Switzerland’s moratorium on GM crop cultivation through 2021.
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*Disturbed by the increasing trend of biotech companies obtaining fraudulent patents on conventionally bred crop varieties, and the increasing willingness of the European Patent Office (EPO) to grant such patents, the European Parliament issued a resolution against this fraud and illegality. This is a not a new law, but a resolution demanding that the EPO obey existing law.
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*The UK House of Lords has issued a taxpayer-funded pro-Oxitec manifesto trumpeting the alleged need to release endless generations of genetically engineered insects into the environment, for agricultural as well as disease control purposes. Disease control is already known to be a failure from the field trials which have been conducted in the Caymans, Brazil, and elsewhere. As for crop pest control, the GM insect theme not only censors the fact that agroecology provides the best pest control system, it also implicitly concedes the failure of GM crops and pesticides to control crop pests. Since it’s the GM insect boosters themselves who are saying that previous GMOs don’t work, why should we believe them when they claim these GMOs will work? The same goes for the boosters of CRISPR GMOs, RNAi GMOs, etc.
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As usual with such infomercials, the memo systematically dodges all discussion of actual need, alternatives, and risks. The goal is nothing but propaganda to boost a UK-based company in an important “growth” sector. It identifies the following, not as actual problems, but as stupid public “anxieties” which propaganda must counteract:
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* horizontal gene transfer within the environment
* potential impact on ecosystems
* effects on predator/prey relationships and the food chain
* evolution of more virulent strains of particular pathogens following GM control
* a general feeling that GMOs are unsafe and create risks for individuals and the environment
* the potential for unknown and unintended consequences
* questions about intellectual property, patenting and excessive corporate involvement
* lack of confidence in scientists, companies and governments to understand and appropriately regulate the myriad possible implications of GMOs.

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Never mind that seven of these eight are proven harms and hazards, while the “general feeling” of lack of safety has all the evidence in its favor and no evidence against it.
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*Several US universities as well as the UK’s taxpayer-funded corporate propaganda machine, the so-called “Science Media Centre”, are exposed for having also received lavish funding from Coca-Cola. Sure enough, the “scientists” consulted by the universities and the SMC quickly discovered the benefits of high sugar consumption and pushed this information to the ardently receptive corporate media. This goes the same way as how they’ve previously discovered the benefits and lack of harm from other corporate funders led by the GMO cartel. This is standard for today’s practicing scientists, whether actively or by tacit acceptance. Scientists are exactly like lawyers: The great majority of them will advocate any position they are paid to advocate, and in their hands this paid position then becomes “science” or “the law”.
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*Teenage Canadian food sovereignty and anti-GMO advocate Rachel Parent has been so effective that she’s been targeted personally by the cartel’s thugs including Kevin Folta. She should be proud and invigorated by this evidence of how well she’s doing. I wrote previously about the revelations Parent extracted from Canadian pro-corporate bureaucrats.
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*The Yurok Tribe, the largest Native American group in California, has announced a full ban on GM crop cultivation and the release of GM animals in the Tribe’s territory. This initiative accompanies the tribe’s participation as part of the Northern California Tribal Court Coalition (NCTCC) The Yuroks and NCTCC are co-hosting an Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit in Klamath in the spring of 2016.

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December 23, 2015

GMOs Are For the Rich Only

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Among the good points this piece makes is that GM salmon is a product designed for wealthier consumers, and can’t possibly affect hunger even in principle.
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This is true of all GMOs. GM maize and soy are not food, but rather are overwhelmingly destined to become animal feed in factory farms generating meat for upper-class consumers. GMOs cannot address hunger even in theory. On the contrary, they make it worse, just like they escalate every other pathology of corporate industrial agriculture.
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So GMOs are a rich man’s technology from the consumer end. They’re also a rich man’s technology from the production end. In order to have any chance of functioning as advertised, these extremely high maintenance products require lavish inputs of fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Small farmers, especially those dependent on rainfall in lower-precipitation regions like India, don’t have a chance.
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Of course, GMOs are most of all a technology for the very rich, the corporations and big shareholders who rake in the vast corporate welfare revenues. GMOs, like much alleged “hi-tech”, are not profitable in any textbook capitalist sense. On the contrary, from any reality-based point of view they’re highly destructive and hemorrhage social wealth. But like much corporate technology they become extremely lucrative when the government lavishes subsidies and intellectual property rights upon them.
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So in all ways GMOs are a product by and for the 1% and for the wealthier strata of the societies that consume the meat derived from them. For everyone else, they’re worthless and malign.

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December 20, 2015

Corporate Fossil Fuel Extraction vs. Freedom

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Three grassroots fights against the water-poisoners and incipient destroyers of our lands and communities. Sometimes with the full collaboration of traitor local “authorities”, sometimes with virtuous local representatives siding with the people.
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In every case – fracking, the tar sands, shale oil – it’s a big lie that the devastation has anything to do with “energy independence”. On the contrary, the fact of this cancerously expanding pipeline infrastructure is proof that the extracted fuels are commodities for export. The communities ravaged by extraction and pipeline or bomb train transportation get nothing. Stability, security, prosperity, happiness can never be found on the path of the relentless, infinite corporate havoc. On the contrary, what little is left of these will only be wiped out completely.
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Note how the Kelo case disproves the lie that capitalism has anything to do with “property rights”. Under capitalism only the biggest, most powerful players have any rights at all, to property, speech, or anything else. Again, freedom, rights, justice, morality will never lie with the corporation. The corporate can never represent anything but the absolute destruction of these.
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December 18, 2015

GMO News Summary, December 18th, 2015

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Been off doing other things for awhile, but posting will resume shortly on a regularly scheduled basis.
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*The fact that pro-GMO activists rely 100% on secrecy, obscurantism, and direct lies is proof that their endeavor has zero to do with science. By definition science has to be fully public and transparent, while “secret science” is a contradiction in terms.
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From the initial refusal to ever perform safety tests on any GMO to the regulators’ refusal to render public the alleged evidence they use for their glyphosate reviews to the massive political campaign against labeling genetically modified additives, the corporations, their flunkeys, and their fanboys betray their contempt and fear of scientific scrutiny and assessment, and their complete abdication of any scientific position whatsoever.
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This is also implicit proof that Monsanto and the US government consider these products to be extremely harmful to human health and live in terror of what legitimate scientific study would find.
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The legislative skullduggery of trying to smuggle in the DARK Act as part of a spending bill, in addition to exposing its supporters as holding democracy in contempt, also demonstrates how they hold science in contempt. Most of all it betrays how they know they could never win an honest fight held in the full light of day.
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*The Philippine supreme court, unlike that of the US, still retains some intelligence, responsibility, and morality. Here it has prohibited government-approved field trials of Bt talong (eggplant) because the government failed to meet the requirements of its own National Biosafety Framework.
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But unlike the narrowly-tailored technicality-based decisions we’re used to in America, the court went much further. It issued a temporary moratorium on any new GMO field trials and approvals for cultivation or importation (the piece doesn’t say with regard to existing cultivation) on the grounds of the precautionary principle. The court conducted an extensive review of the scientific literature and found that the GMO cartel has not provided any evidence for the public health or environmental safety of GMOs.
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Taiwan and Venezuela have also enacted new restrictions on GM food and seeds.
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*In March 2015 the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) caught up with the evidence and found that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”. Since then Monsanto’s regulatory lackeys, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR; Germany is the EU’s “rapporteur state” for glyphosate regulation, making official recommendations to the EU and the member states) and the EFSA, have declared glyphosate “not a carcinogen”. In order to do this they’ve had to reject all the scientific evidence and resort to secret “evidence” which, as it’s secret, by definition is not part of science.
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For anyone who’s interested in this Roundup wrangle, here’s the best summary I’ve seen of the evidence, the IARC’s procedure and findings, and the derelictions and lies of the BfR and EFSA. It’s an open letter to the EU health commissioner signed by nearly a hundred scientists and doctors.
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*There’s an important new study debunking the “bad luck” and genetic determinist theories of cancer (i.e. those favored by the governments and corporations which release vast amounts of carcinogenic poisons into the environment). The study finds that intrinsic factors can account for only as much as 10-30% of the incidence of cancer. So as much as 90% of cancers are caused by such extrinsic factors as industrial and agricultural poisons.
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Little by little the environmental causation paradigm favored by the IARC and other such bodies is gaining ground, as the evidence becomes more and more difficult for corporate establishment medicine and “science” to deny.
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*The state of “our” regulatory agencies under corporate rule: “They have come to the conclusion that my particular skill set [being an actual scientist and servant of the public] does not meet the needs of my employer.” See also the USDA’s persecution of Jonathan Lundgren.
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*Here’s an alternative to the currently dominant corporate “science” paradigm.
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In November the PICRI project (Partnership between Institutions and Citizens for Research and Innovation) held an international conference in Paris dedicated to several topics involving corporate agriculture and the way it has promulgated fraudulent pseudo-science. The conference brought credentialed researchers together with citizen participants from around the world to attain a truly comprehensive discussion of real science. The topics included the “substantial equivalence” fraud, the bogus studies corporations conduct to satisfy regulatory review, the way existing regulatory models give a free pass to endocrine disrupting poisons, and the effect of agricultural poisons on soil ecosystems.
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Throughout, the discussions emphasized how to develop truly honest and scientific models for testing the health and environmental effects of these poisons, and how scientists and technicians must work with citizens within a democratic framework in order to render science and technology beneficial to humanity.
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*Like in Oregon and Colorado and other states, the people of New Hampshire are putting forward an amendment to their state constitution that recognizes the right to local, community self government.
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