Open Thread

Viva El Salvador! A century of solitude no more

Casas de carton proudly brought to you by United Fruit Company.

Leftist candidate Mauricio Funes has claimed victory in El Salvador’s presidential election, in a historic vote that ends the 20-year rule of right-wing party ARENA.

Holy Toledo, Batman! How is Uncle Sammy and his CIA gonna get all those Central and South American snakes back into the box and deal with the rest of the planet simultaneously!? The U.S. economy is singularly inclement with bailouts galore and China holding the purse strings. The Middle Eastern countries are hair-trigger toey and appear unreceptive to “God’s gift of Democracy”. The Ugly American empire is turning to caga before the eyes of the world and it’s not a good look.

Rome on the skids was never like this; hegemonic hiccoughs never so dyspeptic.

Remember, remember the eleventh of September
The CIA’s murderous plot
For families and friends of The Disappeared,
It will never be forgot.

The Good Shepherd Trailer

Footage of the US fighter/bombers destroying the presidential palace in Santiago, September 11, 1973.

Democratically elected Salvador Allende and hundreds of his supporters were murdered on that day, thousands who resisted were later tortured and “disappeared”.  Pinochet’s fascist regime could not have maintained power after the coup without the the full co-operation of Holy Mother Church and her Secret Police, Opus Dei. 

Michelle_Bachelet supported Allende in his rise to the Presidency. She is a medical doctor, and a divorced mother of three.

The Kangaroo Connection …

On January 10, 1975, Michelle Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture. Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention centre, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, due to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Meanwhile, Latin America swerves towards the left

Latin America is swerving to the left, (former conquistadors Portugal and Spain have already done so) and a distinct backlash is already under way against the predominant trends of the last fifteen years: free market reforms, agreement with the U.S. on a number of issues and the consolidation of representative democracy. (movement of jah people).

  • Venezuela (Chavez)
  • Bolivia (Morales)
  • Cuba (Castro)
  • Brazil (Lula)
  • Argentina (Kirchner)
  • Uruguay (Vasquez)
  • Chile (Bachelet)


The multinational United Fruit Company has been considered the quintessential representative of American imperialism in Central America. Not only did the company enjoy enormous privileges in that region, but also counted on authoritarian governments in dealing with labor unrest. The literature assumes that United Fruit and the dictators were natural allies due to their opposition to organized unionism. This paper shows that this alliance could only survive as long as the multinational provided the dictators with economic stability for the country. However, when the multinational proved to be incapable of doing that, the dictators allied with the working class to confront the multinational and extract higher rents (or as in El Savador’s case, democratically elect a president, not necessarily a dictator who can tell the corporate exploiters to pay their fair share or vamoose).

(thanks for your fire dog lake link at 925, ChrisB, after reading it, this thread self-collated)

765 replies on “Viva El Salvador! A century of solitude no more”

Barack Obama will be reading his own book on Radio National bookshow shortly. Ramona Koval currently discussing his development as a writer.

Start with facts: On average, organic agriculture produces only 70 percent of the yield of conventional agriculture.

And then examine some statements:

“Emerging evidence indicates that organic farmers are able to sustain their livelihoods–” This may be true in some places, but certainly not on a global scale with a world population of over six billion.

Then one from someone who can do the sums:

Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug said it well when he said organic agriculture can only feed four billion people and he does not see two billion volunteers [to starve to death].

A good read as to why the anti-GM forces are rife with errors, factual errors, and religious anti-science fervour:

I find it ironic that the very people who decry GM on the most flimsy of statements, who have very little grasp of the real challenges to agriculture, are the very people who believe every utterance about climate change because it is somehow ‘science’! LOL

The only feature I can reconcile is a nascent Luddite attitude that all technology is inherently evil, and this may be the underlying connection.

On Dyson’s views on climate change, it is interesting to me that those scientists who are sceptical are so often non-specialists in the field of climate.

As to GM, bring it on. In fact, I want to be genetically modified. Gene me up, baby. 🙂

paddy – gorgeous!

Apparently Obi has demanded the head of GM’ head – on a plate – if they want anymore dosh . Might be symbolic but I bet there will be lots of soiled undies in the finance sector at the moment. 😎

Will Europe embrace President Obama like candidate Obama?
They gave him their hearts when he visited last summer. Now, the question hanging over Europe is how much more they’ll give Barack Obama as he returns for the first time as president of the United States.

Obama leaves on Tuesday on a whirlwind eight-day tour. He remains enormously popular in Europe, and the throngs that greeted him last summer as a candidate are likely to grow. With first lady Michelle Obama along, Obama’s debut on the world stage as president already is inspiring anticipation of the kind of rock-star reception that greeted John and Jackie Kennedy on their first trip a first couple to Europe in 1961.

Yet Obama also heads into his first overseas trip with grand goals _ looking to forge a coordinated global response to the Great Recession, hoping Europe will send more of its sons and daughters to help in an escalating war in Afghanistan, and seeking to restore international cooperation that he thinks suffered in the Bush years.

read more on McClatchy

Creationists on Texas School Board Prevail: Watered-Down Science Coming to Your Kids’ Textbooks.
The flat-earthers win.
The State Board of Education on Friday passed science curriculum standards that members described as a compromise between those who are critical of teaching evolutionary theories without scrutiny and those who feared attacks on evolution would lead to the teaching of creationism in Texas schools…The new standards remove current requirements that students be taught the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. Instead, teachers will be required to have students scrutinize “all sides” of the theories.

more on Fire Dog Lake

Leading Progressive Organizations, Unions to Announce Major Campaign to Pass President Obama’s Historic Budget, a Blueprint for Rebuilding and Renewing America

Washington D.C. – Leading progressive organizations and unions which led the fight to pass President Obama’s jobs and economic recovery package have announced a major new campaign to pass President Obama’s historic budget.

The groups plan to substantially ratchet up all the same tools, techniques and strategies behind the successful campaign to pass the President’s jobs plan into law, from grassroots events and phone calls and emails into Members of Congress’ offices, to paid advertising. More than 40 major organizations have so far signed onto the $5-7 million campaign to ‘Rebuild and Renew America Now.’

Read lots more on the campaign to rebuild and renew America

At Ricardo Flores Magon Academy at West 72nd Avenue and Irving Street in suburban Westminster, about 150 mostly low-income Latino children from the nearby neighborhoods sit quietly in classrooms.

To the south in Lakewood, the police chief is recruiting bilingual police officers and giving others crash courses in basic Spanish.

In Denver’s Five Points area, real estate broker Rebekah Brock watches the start of a wave of white families moving into the traditionally majority black neighborhood.

Throughout the metro area, neighborhoods have turned topsy-turvy.

A Denver Post analysis of state birth records shows that the racial integration of the central city and suburbs that began in the 1990s intensified through this decade. The analysis shows that Denver is getting considerably whiter, while its suburbs have gained in minority — primarily Latino — population.

If the 2010 census confirms those findings, there will be numerous implications, particularly in education and politics.

read more in the Denver Post

Montenegro’s ruling coalition has claimed victory in its parliamentary election, bolstering the government’s efforts to join the EU and Nato.

An official from Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s party claimed victory in a TV broadcast in front of supporters.

Early projections suggest the ruling bloc won more than 50% of the vote, its nearest rivals taking about 16%.

The country’s leaders held the election early, saying a new mandate was needed to push through their reforms.

Hours after polls closed, the Democratic Party of Socialists’ political director Predrag Sekulic told supporters the ruling coalition had won.

“This victory is even more important because it comes at a time of the speeding up of European integration and the maturing of democracy in Montenegro,” he said.

Another victory for the Left.

read more of this story on BBC News

685 EC

Hi, just read the Newsweek article on Krugman.. It just confirms my longheld impressions.

I don’t necessarily disagree with his argument re the financial crisis(who the hell knows??) but i do tend to disagree with his motives and the integrity of it, and the totality of his commentary since the day Obama appeared as a serious candidate.

I cannot reconcile his support for Clinton and Edwards and Larry Summers with his disdain for Wall Street dominance of Washington. It just doesn’t wash.They were part of the genesis of such dominance inside the Democratic Party.

I think Krugman’s grievance with Obama is personal, and has been since he started criticising everything about him for the last 2 years.

Was he set for a prominent role in a different administration?
Was his pal Summers deprived of Treasury Sec?

I don’t know…does anyone?…who really cares?…would anything different be happening?

As i said, i think Krugman’s beef with Obama, and via proxy Geithner, is personal.

I don’t trust his motive, nor the motive of all the opposing camps, be it Clinton or Republican….but i do trust Obama’s motive…until i no longer do .

Just my personal opinion.

I have no problem with Krugman’s motives. He in all likelihood has legitimate disagreement with Obama’s policies. But that does not mean that he is right. It does not mean that Obama’s policies are right, either, of course. But Krugman’s view is simply one view among many, imo.

DG, this may help you ‘refine’ your opinion:

By the end of December, global banks had written off about $US1,000 billion in bad assets, approximately half of that in the US. Since the onset of the crisis, the write-down of assets in the US has exceeded the provision of new capital. Even the Geithner public-private partnership plan is not going to reverse the expected deterioration of capital ratios at sufficient speed and on sufficient scale. In Europe, new capital exceeded write-downs by a small amount, but on the recent projections I have seen, this trend could reverse sharply this year, unless governments introduce new recapitalisation plans.

In the absence of such plans, the banking sector will continue to contract its balance sheet by cutting lending. This is a totally rational response by the banks. To unfreeze the global financial market therefore requires significant increases in bank capitalisation, not just to the status quo ante, and not just to account for the toxic securitised assets themselves, but to adjust for the stuff that is getting toxic right now and tomorrow. The estimate by Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, that one needs to push the ratio of banks’ equity capital to assets from 10 per cent to 13 or 14 per cent seems plausible to me. After a long period of undercapitalisation, you need a period of overcapitalisation just to get back to normal.

In other words, you have to do quite a bit more than you think you need to do, rather than quite a bit less. This is the main reason why the Geithner plan is not an optimal policy response.$pd20090330-QLSU5?OpenDocument&src=sph

…which is at least ONE of the Krugman criticisms. One of the others is that it is basically insuring private risk with public capital (well, debt, to be more precise! LOL).

Kirri at 702; from your link which the author filed on November 6, 2008 on his high volume (one comment) thread and btw, the one and only unreplied-to comment made a very good point too:

“Today there is a strong lobby calling for a return to organic agriculture. This affluence-centered ideology can not effectively support the less fortunate or future pressures of a growing human population.”

“Affluence-centred”,….” Can not effectively support the less fortunate”

Oh, really?

Let’s take a peek at Cuba, mate.

“Cuba, (which is described by an inordinate number of educated folk as a third world country) has in the past 18 years transformed its food production using low-input, or organic agriculture and, to some degree, permaculture. Havana produces up to 50% of its food requirements within the city limits, all of it is organic and produced by people in their homes, gardens and in municipal spaces.”

Of course this sort of agriculture is antithetical to the vested interests of the likes of Monasanto because Monsanto can’t control the process and turn an agri-business megabuck from it as did their “forebears”, the United Fruit Company, but to suggest that people who choose to feed themselves and their kids in such fashion are harbouring a “nascent Luddite attitude” is a tad harsh.

Perhaps if the ~ two billion folk who Dr Borlaug identifies as being in danger of imminent starvation were able to access the nutritional and long term health benefits of organic/ permaculture in their backyards, rooftops, side-walls of dwelling and village plots, then they will be in a stronger position to not only survive and reproduce on a Darwinian basis, but to really get a gustatory bang from their tucker. 🙂

Even in the most arid regions, if there is there is a political will, there’s a way.
Certainly overpopulation, wars, refugees and those scoundrels the four horsemen of the apocalypse are major obstacles to peaceful permaculture, however, the process itself is sustainable and something towards which the collective Homo Sap should strive, imho.

Gaia forever. Man.

Siege at Pakistan police academy.
An armed group is holed up in a police academy in eastern Pakistan after attacking it with grenades and rifles.

Officials say at least 11 people have been killed and dozens injured at the academy, which is near Lahore.

Firing was continuing more than three hours after it started as the assailants battled elite troops. There were reports of hostages being taken.

The attack comes less than a month after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Here we go again.
read more on BBC News

Ecky, the entire proposition is that across ALL of the planet, ‘organic’ farming will not sustain the entire human population by a VERY large factor. Citing one location, although perhaps laudable for many reasons, does not address the problems that face mankind over very diverse geographic regions.

(Nice try!) LOL

One criticism of the ‘only organic’ brigade is that it’s the tyranny of those who have never worried about the grocery bills over those who eek out fragile existences on the margins. There is, I submit (as one who has lived and worked on organic farms!) that there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

Before dismissing him, just contemplate what he has achieved for millions of human beings:

Norman Ernest Borlaug (born March 25, 1914) is an American agronomist, humanitarian, Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution.[1] Borlaug is one of five people in history to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.[2] He is also an awardee of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s highest civilian honour to non-citizens of exemplary accomplishment.

Borlaug received his Ph.D. degree in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations. These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.[3] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

More recently, he has helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa. Borlaug has continually advocated the use of his methods and biotechnology to decrease world famine. His work has faced environmental and socioeconomic criticisms, including charges that his methods have created dependence on monoculture crops, unsustainable farming practices, heavy indebtedness among subsistence farmers, and high levels of cancer among those who work with agriculture chemicals. He has emphatically rejected many of these as unfounded or untrue.[citation needed]In 1986, he established the World Food Prize to recognize individuals who have improved the quality, quantity or availability of food around the globe.


I guess we can dismiss his assessments with some new age faith based karma added agriculture then? LOL

Let’s look at the slightly bigger picture:

Agriculture in Cuba has played an important part in the economy for several hundred years. Agriculture contributes less than 10 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), but it employs roughly one fifth of the working population. About 30 percent of the country’s land is used for crop cultivation[1].

The inefficient communist system that shackles the agriculture sector was ridiculed by Raúl Castro in a July 2007 speech.[2] Cuba now imports up to 80% of its food.[2]

Due to the shortage of fuel and therefore severe deficiencies in the transportation sector a growing percentage of the agricultural production takes place in the so-called urban agriculture. In 2002, 35,000 acres (140 km2) of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city’s fresh produce come from local urban farms and gardens. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector


Cuba also has the second biggest plantings of tobacco in the world.

So, imports 80% of its food, but pushes nicotine for hard currency!

Sorry Ecky, but you need to look beyond the propaganda amigo!

Kirri, if Permaculture is sustainable in the tropics, the sub-tropics and wadi-fied groins of arid regions then that’ll do for starters. Reasonable people would exclude Antatctica, Lapland, Northern Siberia and similar longitudes due to regional weather inclemencies. And biospheric average temps will have to rise a little furthur before Gondwanaland can be factored in as a continent of pastoral plenty.
The catchcry of “ALL of the planet, ‘organic’ ” is the province of fanatics. From previous discussions we are agreed that these are dangerous people who are beyond persuasion and reason.

They were clearly going to have a hard time keeping a lad like your good self “down on the farm”.
I think what you are saying in your penultimate sentence at 721 is that it’s people like the peers of the Melbourne microbiology prof. when he was in the UK, who condescendingly proselytise about all things organic without ever having got their own hands dirty, n’est-ce pas?

Were your folks “alternative” or did you do the Mr. Natural bit after you’d flown the co-op?

Juan Cole shoots the message, although he does allow that the messenger may have it right:

President Barack Obama may or may not be doing the right thing in Afghanistan, but the rationale he gave for it on Friday is almost certainly wrong. Obama has presented us with a 21st century version of the domino theory. The U.S. is not, contrary to what the president said, mainly fighting “al-Qaida” in Afghanistan. In blaming everything on al-Qaida, Obama broke with his pledge of straight talk to the public and fell back on Bush-style boogeymen and implausible conspiracy theories.


There’s a lot of recycled Bushism in the new administration, and there is a dose of it here. I’m inclined to think that it’s being reused as shorthand that’s easily understood, rather than from confusion or an intention to misguide the public.

If I’m wrong, god help us, ‘coz here we go again.

So what if thet grow baccy in Cuba? And import food and export medical doctors. That doesn’t diminish the fact that sustainable permaculture can be implemented there, or anywhere else half arable.

Kirribilli Removals @ 702:
Boy howdy! That’s a mighty fine straw man you built there Kirribilli. So big and solid I think it must be the first Wicker Man argument I’ve seen on this ‘ere blog! 😉
Your position is correct. You may even be right that some people reading this hold the position that you attacked, but it isn’t my position.
Even with natural horticultural practices, the characteristics of the produce that we all consume has been slanted toward the needs of the distributors. Forget flavour and variety: shelf life is the key determining factor of whether your local Stupid-Market stocks the product.
I try very hard not to be a cynic, but I’m convinced that trend will be accelerated with GM technology, and find it hard to believe that the patent holders will use their assets to “feed the world”.

Now to this:

The only feature I can reconcile is a nascent Luddite attitude that all technology is inherently evil, and this may be the underlying connection.

This was a revelation: today I was in the local store looking for some green prawns. The only ones available were frozen. As is my wont, I turned my elitist nose up at them!
Before today I had thought that my reticence was based on flavour and texture, but have now been enlightened to my luddite attitude to freezer technology. Damn you! 😉

Ecky, I did my stint in the 70’s, listened to more permaculture raves than you can poke a pineapple at and seen first hand some pretty sorry results. But I do know if you’re prepared to live on nettles for a while until the fruit trees bear, and if you survive long enough, you just might get a varied enough diet to enjoy an old age! LOL

Excuse my cynicism old son, but I’ve heard and seen so much tripe that just does NOT stack up in anything but subsistence lifestyle promotions.

Been there, done that, and still the religious fervour lives on!

Viva la revolution!

(Feed a planet? Give me a break)

surely, like most issues, the answer lies somewhere in between.
Permaculture/ organic/ subsistance farming has to be a good thing where it can be readily done, as it reduces the demand on scarce food supplies in regions where it is difficult to support themselves – therefore it should be encouraged and practiced where viable.
Equally, the genetic enhancement of certain crops to cope with diminishing water, increasing pollution etc is smart as long as this can be somehow safeguraded against the tyrranny of monopolising chemical companies and the hazards of reducing the gene poll to a point where any unexpected variable causes devastation.
I would like to think we are smart enough to encompass all the nuanced and complex factors and stop thinking in monotheistic black-and -white terms.
Then again …
history is against us when it comes to common sense.

So now I’m supposedly arguing for tasteless food!

Yeah, I hate tasteless food too. But tell me one GM vegetable you can buy??????????????

Sorry, but that is NOT my argument, or anything like it.

Genetic modification like improving the vitamin content of staples can save thousands of lives and improve life for millions at no risk to anyone.

This is not an argument about taste, that’s trivialising life and death issues.

It seems I’ve stumbled into a lot of attitudes that aren’t much engaged with the serious issues on this planet.

As for permaculture, please don’t tell me there’s a conspiracy to suppress this miracle which could feed the world, but for the evil agricultural companies.

Please, just think for ONE moment: if it could provide the world’s food then it would be raging all over the world. It isn’t, and it isn’t because it’s about ‘lifestyle’ and “not touching the earth with metal” (yep, I heard that one in the 1970’s as the rationale for every action! LOL). In other words, it borders on religion, and frankly, usually goes hand in hand with lots of other New Age claptrap. Not that it’s not got uses and advantages in SOME situations, but feed the planet it will not.

Not this century, or any other.

Flaneur – you old Luddy, you.
What”s wrong with frozen prawns , damn you ?!
Apart from the fact that the ones in the frozen section in teh IGA in Beechworth Victoria have been trawl net fished in thailand, frozen, flown to Aus, trucked to Victoria and are probably 14 years old by the time we get them . Not to mention the fact that each one cost about 17 thousand dollars in food miles, carbon emissions and dead thai fisherman to get to us.
But they just don’t taste up to scratch do they?

geez Kirri – perhaps you have had a tad too much exposure to complete loonies – present company excepted.
if you can’t touch the earth with metal WTF are you meant to dig the holes with???
Like I said. Oh Sagacious One – surely there can be a balance.
Don’t give up on us yet – we’re not all complete fuckwits.

Although at least we can all agree a certain GWB is 😈

Ecky, anyone can live on the land with intensive labour and do little else provided the climate is suitable. That’s NOT in dispute.

What seems to be in dispute is whether it can feed the planet.

You cited Cuba.

But the FACT is it uses a lot of its land for agriculture, ’employs’ a sizable part of its population in it, yet only produces a small part of it’s GDP and needs to IMPORT 80% of its food!

Not good numbers, amigo.

Now tell me how that proves that permaculture can feed the planet??????????

Kirribilli Removals I wasn’t accussing you of arguing for tasteless food. I was explaining my position. To be a bit clearer: I’m supportive of GM technology – I just want clear labeling so that if it is shit I don’t accidentally buy it!

And if you think any GM technology is going to save the world from hunger, then I hope you are right. I’ll cynically wait and see.

Jen I’m an (allegedly) new Luddy! Luddy-Lite! 😉
Being a coast dweller in my youth, I’m used to seafood that one has just gathered. I cringe every time I pay money for something on ice. Such is the price for being expelled from Eden. 😉

Jen, I’ve seen and heard enough hippy drippy stuff to turn me quite feral!

You can’t believe the sort of mind dumbing stupidity that passed as ‘alternative’ in the 70’s! Unfortunately, now that we do in fact need alternative energy and systems, so many of these half-baked versions are being resurrected but it’s once again a superficial understanding of the complexity and scale of the problems.

Sometimes it feels like groundhog day! LOL

Flaneur, the GM ‘debate’ is wildly polluted with some incredible assertions that border on hysteria which I find almost amusing if it wasn’t so serious.

Most of the GM food, like herbicide resistant or pest resistant is grown BECAUSE it is far better for the environment. That no effect to human health, nor mechanism whereby it could occur, has ever been cited seems to make no impact on the anti-GM brigade.

They don’t ‘do’ evidence. THey have ‘faith’ that it’s evil, for reasons we all kind of know, but what they do not ever seem to grasp is that food production is under immense strain, and human populations MUST find better, more efficient, and less environmentally damaging ways of growing it. Many GM introduced plants have done this.

Before GM it was left to natural breeding and none of us would exist without them. In the future, generations will eat because of GM developments.

(But notice I’ve not claimed that every GM organism is going to be a success, nor EVER have some problem, just that we manage these risks like we must with all things.)

Kirri – as former 70’s hippy I am in total agreement. But maybe , like most of life we can take the ideas that are useful and toss the rest.
for example – i detest NewAge crystal healing pinklight energy wank . I do however have an interest in Jungian psychology. You can lump tehm together, but there are immense differences. Same thing with the organic/sustainable farming movement (free-range chooks vs battery farming for example) that are simplky better practice – for all kinds of obvious reasons. That’s not hippy-shit: it’s actually quite revolutionary in it’s own small way – people prepared to pay 3 times the price because they believe that what they are doing is a better thing.
we need to tap into this goodwill where it is happening and encourage it to spread into every sector – unbleached toilet paper, saving rainwater, ride to work , grow your own tomatoes – whatever. The alternative is to do nothing, and then there is no cultural shift: and that is truly the only hope we have.
Maybe – In truth we should thank the hippies.
Especially for Woodstock 😉

There’s no doubt Jen that in our hippy phase there were many good ideas and justifiable critiques of where our materialist consumerism was leading, and yes, way too much ‘woo woo’ stuff as Mrs KR likes to call it! LOL

But sometimes I think we spawned a monster, an implaccable resistance to any technology that does not provide instant gratification (like iPods and Nintendo!) and an almost pathological belief that there’s a global cabal that’s trying to take over the world with its high tech solutions. OK, I’ve not expressed this perfectly, but surely, you know what I’m talking about.

And it’s all got origins in the seventies rebellion, and it’s as puerile today as it was then.

Kirribilli Removals, I don’t think we have a difference of opinion that matters. GM technology is just an extension of what humans have been doing for millenia except for one aspect: the results are controlled to an extra order of magnitude.

Using the patent system to develop food is wrong.
Preventing a grower from using their produce as seed is wrong.

Most of the GM food, like herbicide resistant or pest resistant is grown BECAUSE it is far better for the environment.

I’d suggest that it is grown because it is profitable. I’d wager my last remaining scruple that if they produce a strain of crop that was “cheaper” (in the context of the grower) then that is the strain that’d be grown over any other strain that was “better for the environment”.

And from the “Better Late Then Never” department:

But tell me one GM vegetable you can buy??????????????

You sly dog! You know they don’t label them. 😉

Maybe there’s a distinction to make between “better” and “cheaper” but we may be straying into semantics. If it requires FAR less pesticide applications it is both cheaper and better for the environment.

We can’t say that a company should not have intellectual property rights over its seed, we should let the market decide if it wants to pay for the right to grow it as opposed to using another variety.

If farmers don’t make a profit we don’t have farmers, simple. If they use GM crops because they make better profits, great. But to somehow claim that there MUST ipso facto be something wrong with the food because it’s genetically modified, or because a company sells the rights to it, just does not cut the mustard as any kind of argument.

Actually Flaneur, I wasn’t being funny, well, not intentionally. I’m just not aware of any genetically modified vegetables being grown here for human consumption.

Educate me if the reality is otherwise.

Funny-Mode-Off: My understanding is that there are no GM vegetables in Australia – neither grown nor imported (for human consumption) (yet).
I believe GM canola oil is sold here, though that may be a false memory associated with Boycott those Monsanto Barstards!

Another great read, this time by an ex IMF guy who says the US looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, so yes, it must be another busted banana republic! LOL

He’s basically saying that it should do what they always prescribe: nationalise banks and hit the oligarchs, but in this case, Obama seems either unwilling or unable to bite the hand that’s tamed Washington:

Yeah, I think GM canola is used here.

So far I’ve not heard of any evidence that it’s caused any health problems, but no doubt that’s because no one can tell if they’ve eaten it. Therefore it’s probably caused herpes and premature death! LOL

I vaguely recall some company trying to put a pig or fish gene in something and there was a terrible hue and cry.

It’s ironic because I tell my kids that they have a lot of genes in common with the banana (which is a simple genetic fact, since all life is related and so many solutions have survived VAST tracts of time because they work. Nature does not tend to invent the wheel over and over again when it doesn’t need to)

Some of that article is priceless:

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true. Alan Greenspan’s pronouncements in favor of unregulated financial markets are well known. Yet Greenspan was hardly alone. This is what Ben Bernanke, the man who succeeded him, said in 2006: “The management of market risk and credit risk has become increasingly sophisticated. … Banking organizations of all sizes have made substantial strides over the past two decades in their ability to measure and manage risks.”

Of course, this was mostly an illusion. Regulators, legislators, and academics almost all assumed that the managers of these banks knew what they were doing. In retrospect, they didn’t. AIG’s Financial Products division, for instance, made $2.5 billion in pretax profits in 2005, largely by selling underpriced insurance on complex, poorly understood securities. Often described as “picking up nickels in front of a steamroller,” this strategy is profitable in ordinary years, and catastrophic in bad ones. As of last fall, AIG had outstanding insurance on more than $400 billion in securities. To date, the U.S. government, in an effort to rescue the company, has committed about $180 billion in investments and loans to cover losses that AIG’s sophisticated risk modeling had said were virtually impossible.

(just for those who don’t want to read the whole thing! )

AIG picking up nickels in front of the steamroller! A few thousand billion nickels, but nevertheless, a really BIG steamroller! LOL

Kirri, if one doesn’t want to personally grow one’s own organic tucker, one can purchase it at an organic market. It’s not necessary to aspire to fulltime paysano-ism. Our local weekly Org-Mart is going ganbusters and two nearby supermarkets are now carrying “organic” sections because, one assumes, they are feeling the heat. 🙂

Fair enough though, you’ve lived the life organic and seen the not so blissful downside first hand. You speak with the authority of a man whose fingers have sifted the soil, been hands-on with agriculture’s complexities, so to speak, and one must respect your expertise.
Sure, we are realists here, not flat-earthers. What parent wouldn’t feed their hungry child monocultural fodder if there was no alternative?

Lenny Bruce razzes a Lucky Strike telly commercial:
Perplexed questioner:
“But all marijuana’s the same isn’t it?!…….”

The Voice of Authority:
“That’s the mistake a lot of people make!”

Attitudes to tobacco sure have changed a lot in fifty years. Perhaps it might not take quite so long when it comes to optimal nutrition.

I, too, recall the pig-gene incident. I thought it was a beat-up at the time and have heard nothing (until now) more.

What I’m intruiged with is your statement much further up on how GM is the only way to feed the planet in future (though I may have misunderstood your intent). That, to me, seems an unstable state of affairs to find one’s species in. In the (earlyish) medieval period, a much underexploited two acres would support a person (not that I’m asserting that person would be an ideal to emulate).
Have we fallen so far that we need to advance so much just to survive? If so, putting our survival in the the hands of a limited number of corporations seems counter-intuitive. 🙁

Anyhow, food for thought, as they say.

Flaneur, it’s more likely that GM crops will be very diverse and tailored for specific conditions eg salt, heat tolerant in some places.

Unlike the Middle Ages, the human population has exploded, and will put enormous pressure on agriculture as it increases to about 9 billion before it stabilises. That’s 50% more people than now.

Imagine having to make arable land that much more productive without using every available technology. GM will undoubtedly be one of the big ones in the arsenal.

(And this is without the probable loss of many areas due to climate change, eg Murray Darling basin. Drought tolerance will be a big one here, and GM will be the ONLY way to get some crops up and running in time to fill the gap.)

By George, that’s some call:

Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros says it is “conceivable” that Britain will have to resort to a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

“It’s conceivable,” Soros said in an interview with the Times published on Saturday.

“You have a problem that the banking system is bigger than the economy … so for Britain to absorb it alone would really pile up the debt.”

Soros said that “if the banking system continued to collapse, it’s (an IMF bailout) a possibility but it’s not a likelihood.”


The best thing about tucker corporations like Monsanto, Flaneur, is they have a totally different mindset to the Wall St. Masters of The Universe who some amongst us here suggest would perform more “honestly” if they were nationalised.

Goddamn commies!

Kirri, i enjoy reading your insights into this financial mess and you seem firmly in the nationalise camp, which idealistically, i am too.

But can you give us a rundown on the practicalities of doing this in the USA system? what are the risks? what are the worst scenarios? what are the better scenarios?

Is this a magic wand program?

If it goes wrong and the oligarchs blow the shit up completely will wider America look like post Katrina New Orleans?

Will this scenario happen if they don’t nationalise anyway?

There are so many questions…so few easy answers.

My gut feel is that after the bank stress tests are done, by about mid year or earlier, some/most bankinstitutions will be nationalized or some kind of equivalent…i don’t think it could have politically been done any earlier even if Krugman is spot on.

PS good article in the Salon link. Getting Congress back from Wall Street and the oligarchs is no simple task…probably impossible.

Unlike the Middle Ages, the human population has exploded, and will put enormous pressure on agriculture as it increases to about 9 billion before it stabilises. That’s 50% more people than now.

Okay, back of the envelope calculations: the total cultivated land usage (excluding pasture!) is about 1.951 billion acres in China (I chose China ’cause it is densely populated and it was the best result in Google 😉 )
Given that western utilisation, excluding GM crops, can achieve yields of at least 30 bushels per acre for wheat (higher for other grain crops, and much higher for irrigated crops) results in China (given Western yields sans GM) could provide for approximately 7 billion people; and a yield of 50 bushels (a high end expectation) would support 12 billion people, I don’t think the situation is as grim as the (and I really, really mean the smilely) Frankenstein-Food pushers would have us believe. 🙂

Now, all we need do is appoint Enemy Combatant as the People’s Dictator and all will be well. Oops, there goes my candidacy.

Now I really am going to retire to a quiet corner for the night.

Now could somebody give KR a good quality organic Queensland banana and make sure the middle class 70s hippies earn their keep rather than disappearing in a cloud of Om. The economics of growing food in the current industrial agriculture are pretty daunting with the imput output ratio of resources in to food out making most of it unsustainable without cheap oil or cheap irrigation water.

Sadly, Flaneur, my Min (read Minister for War) bless ‘er organic cotton socks, has forbidden me from seeking public office, so one must politely decline your kind nomination suggestion. However…….if you’d like to toss in a couple of return business tickets to Cathay, one may be forced to reconsider. 🙂
“i detest NewAge crystal healing pinklight energy wank .”

Geez, jen, you mean you didn’t catch Captain Cosmic and The Crystals live at Stone Henge during the summer solstice?
Neil saw ‘em and he reckoned they were far out. Man.

I’m going to have to agree with you Wakefield, the long term sustainable equation does not look good if you double the price of fuel as we just did recently, and caused food riots in many places all over the world. Now, also reduce arable land and water due to climate change, and the result will be dire for millions.

Which only reinforces the point: we will have to be clever in many ways to keep food output ahead of population.

As for your numbers Flaneur, can I get back to you on those? I’ll need to research the facts a bit, but right now it’s sleep which is pressing.

Oh, and HH, can I get back on that one too! LOL

You’ve really opened the whole can of worms there!

As for your numbers Flaneur, can I get back to you on those? I’ll need to research the facts a bit, …

Well if you are going to use facts, then I’m taking my bat and going home!

See you all on the morrow!

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