25 March 2012 § 1 Comment
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, has banned the donation of food to homeless shelters in his city.
He’s enacted the anti-food policy because he, his food task force, and the NYC Department of Health (together dubbed the ‘food police’) want to keep better track of the nutritional needs of homeless in New York. The Department of Health Commissioner Seth Diamond insists that the ban is consistent with a government effort to improve everyone’s health.
The donations are to be turned away because the salt, fat, and fiber contents in them cannot be verified, which defies new regulations which require of all food now served in government-run shelters. The good deeds of local bakers, restaurateurs, and shops who have donated food to the homeless for years, even decades, are now being rejected. Diamond says that the food they donate really isn’t needed.
Naturally, those who donate the food, such as Glenn Richter and his wife Lenore, of Ohab Zedek, a synagogue on the Upper West Side, and those who eat the donated food, such as Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, disagree.
It’s not difficult to understand the aesthetic, well-intentioned nature of such policies. If the true motive is for the homeless to be healthier, there is nobility in the actions of Bloomberg’s so-called Food Police.
Given that New York City is in the United States, however, where people were once free to eat, pray, and love as they pleased, governmental micromanagement to this extent is intolerable, and unacceptable.
Just down the road, in Philadelphia, feedings to the homeless were banned in city parks, supposedly to protect homeless from “foodborne illness.” Family picnics and gatherings around food are still allowed in city parks.
In February, Alaska Rep. Bill Stoltze refused to call a hearing to discuss Senate Bill 3, which would provide 15 cents to lunches and .35 to breakfasts in Alaska public schools. Stoltze’s argument? He wanted to use that money on another bill that would improve the health of the state’s children by providing Alaska-grown and caught foods.
A local Anchorage activist, Kokayi Nosakhere, sat outside the representative’s office in Juneau, on a month-long food strike, trying to get Stoltze to call a hearing on Senate Bill 3. The politician never budged. Neither did his other proposed bill.
These events are not isolated or coincidental, just as the same-day crackdown on Occupy protests across the U.S. last October was not an accidental act of desperation by the threatened Powers That Be.
Now, it’s personal. It’s about food – that most basic resource that we all require, regardless of politics or social standing. If governments control the food supply (i.e. restrict resources) more than they already do, they control the people’s ability to act – to protest, to speak up, to rally, to say that No, We Won’t Have This.
Two months ago, SOPA and PIPA, acts that would have effectively shut down the internet, came dangerously close to being passed. Only what began as a grassroots movement against the bills kept them from passing. For every one law that people stand up against, twenty are passed under the radar.
Notice how the food policies are not beginning in the House of Representatives or the Senate. Just as film production companies screen ‘risky’ films in selected, representative locations (does the line “‘Love Story’ opens in NY and LA August 4th, everywhere August 15th” ring a bell?), the mayoral puppets of Government are trying out these tactics in smaller waves to see how people react to them.
If we don’t say anything, what will come next? If the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square went home after then-president Mubarak told them to, where would have gone the Arab Spring? Libyans had to declare war on their dictator Muammar Gaddafi before he paid any attention to them. How far will America have to go?
The U.S. Constitution is a tourist trap, and means less now than it ever has. Corporations have been considered people for a hundred years. Our presidents are elected not based on their worth or potential, but how much money they pour into advertising. Peaceful protests are made violent by those sworn to protect and serve Us.
Now regional governments are limiting food supplies to children and the homeless, who are instead to be provided by institutional vendors serving genetically modified food that Americans have said with their silence that they didn’t care to have marked as such.
As a result of that silence, kids are hitting puberty earlier than ever, having been raised on hormone-injected meat from animals who grew fat without ever gaining the strength or dexterity to stand. Multinational corporations that control food sources have been in bed with government for years.
Make no mistake: the Democrats and Republicans, no longer a unified America, have created those hormone-injected animals out of the American people, unable (but perhaps not unwilling) to stand and speak against the political atrocities made against them.
The generations who wield control say that it’s too late to change things – that we’re in a downward spiral, and no one’s got the will to throw us out of it. Understand this: that’s what the Powers are counting on. They want submission; they feed off silence like a bad relationship, and direct us in whatever direction they wish.
Control best operates on three basic concepts: fear, greed, and laziness. All are childish virtues to hold, and yet the world’s powers use them in the face of even the largest protests and strikes.
We are capable of moving past them, of taking back our most basic resources. Of protecting and serving ourselves when those ‘sworn’ to battle us. We are capable of feeding our children.
We are the children of the internet. We are supposed to be the Y Generation, the insatiable children who ask Why? Why? Why?
We are the freest, most globalized organization of rebels history has ever known. Our ambition matches those of the corporations and governments who seek to no end our loyalty. So ask yourself, why else is our loyalty so important to them?
It’s not just about money. It’s about something bigger and more drastic than paper currency made by a private company that is employed by a government that we have the power, by our most basic rights, to redesign from the inside, out.
Initiating change takes the will to step outside ignorance, to learn about what’s happening – events that penetrate deep into our lives and homes – and to do something about them. It takes the willingness to stand on anothers’ shoulders to make the mountain less daunting, and the presence of mind to hold our ground when we are threatened. We have been tested before, and have succeeded. It’s time to stand again.
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2 February 2012 § Leave a comment
In Panama yesterday, the Ngobe shut down the longest motorable road in the world, the Interamericana (Panamerican Highway), in a protest effort to keep international mining companies from invading their lands.
This is not the first time this group of indigenous people have blocked the road to make their point. A year ago around this time, and in 2010 also, they blocked traffic from moving to and from Panama City, which included tourist buses, supply trucks, and private vehicles. In 2011, international travel between Costa Rica and Panama was interrupted for four days. this year, they’re holding out for longer.
Across the country, market owners are not receiving their goods. Vegetable and fruit shelves are virtually empty, and what’s left is rotting at higher prices than before. Fuel is not reaching gas stations – this morning, there were lines of vehicles at every fill-up station in Boquete, and by three o’ clock, all the petrol in town was gone. As I write this, there are far fewer cars cruising through town than usual.
On the news, nearly every story has to do with how pissed off people are, and is full of images of truck drivers eating their transported goods, and selling them to fellow drivers. Tour buses are parked on the side of the road, and gringos with Panama hats and Gregory backpacks stand outside looking confused and slightly constipated. Some locals have taken to walking. Those in Panama City with a need to be elsewhere are reverting to flying. A plane ticket to David, as of this morning, was $125, much more than a tank of gas – for now.
If there’s a distinct difference between the protests around the world which inspired Occupy in the United States to take off and the leaderless brainchild of fed-up twenty-somethings in the land of the free, it’s that in most of those other countries, the movements actually worked – that is, they gained national attention, for better or worse, for success or failure, in their homeland, and at least in Egypt and Panama, a certain group of people know that when they want something, they can occupy Tahrir Square, or the middle of the Panamerican highway, and even if the powers that be do not like their message, at least that message will be acknowledged.
Occupy is supposed to be a peaceful movement. It is based on practicing the rights provided to the people in the Constitution – the right to peaceful assembly, for example – when other rights are being manipulated – corporations being acknowledged as human beings comes to mind. And the numbers seen in this massive, if haphazardly organized protest are impressive. However, the determination of the U.S. Media (seemingly a conglomerate all its own) is great, and easily ignores, if it is the will of those in power, groups of people camping in parks and others marching behind holiday parades with cardboard signs.
Those intentions are noble but ineffective. Asking for permission (i.e. for the permits needed to camp in a public park) from a system one wishes to dismantle is counterproductive. It says that the 99% are still subject to the rules of the 1%. The now-famous photograph of Wall Street employees looking down at the protest from the top of the steps in New York with amused faces is a blatant insult to what needs to be accomplished: they’re saying ‘March all you want, you unemployed vagrants, just wait until the cops come. Meanwhile, we’re going to get a little more rich today – see you at lunch.’