Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Banjo politics

The second floor lounge saw its most rockabilly time yesterday when local banjoist Morgan O'Kane, accompanying a crew of mountain top removal activists visiting from North Carolina, took over with an impromptu short set for extremely appreciative law students.

The activists had just led a lunchtime talk on their legal and direct action efforts to stop the environmental devastating, dangerous and illegal practice of mountain top removal, a preview of the discussion at last night's "Voters Over Donors: Uniting Against Plutocracy" panel to analyze the influence of money in politics especially in the wake of last year's Citizens United SCOTUS ruling.

Mountain top removal activists in action

Eight speakers, including Lanny Smith, founder of Doctors for Global Health, Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters, Jay Mandle, professor of economics Colgate University, spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, Charles Suggs, of Climate Ground Zero, and Tony Avella, Queens state senator and advocate for clean elections, gave a brief, riling overview of the influence of corporate donations and lobbying in various segments of policy, from health care to international investment and trade.

The New York Democracy Project, the Green Coalition, LALSA, BALSA, MELSA, Law Students for Reproductive Choice, the Labor Coalition, Democracy Matters, IALSA, the American Constitution Society and Voters for Clean Elections all sponsored the event.

Anyone interested in further work toward clean elections and restoring citizen power, contact Matthew Edge at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Vermont Yankee and one reactor at Indian Point shut down due to some itty bitty fires and nuclear leaks AND

Radioactive leak from Knolls cleanup site also happened in the past two days.

Good thing the state can't afford regulators!

(this entry is sarcastic.)

Indian Point, so pretty, so close to home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

USDA wants you to eat more fast-food cheese

So, cheese is delicious! But a USDA partnership with fast-food restaurants to develop and market crappy, cheese-crammed, heart-attack inducing foods? Something stinks and it ain't Limburger.

The New York Times published an investigation this weekend of the USDA's own Dairy Management, which pushes Americans to buy more cheese (in return for dairy industry lobbying funds) even as the department preaches healthy eating and funds anti-obesity initiatives. We eat more than three times the amount of cheese now than in the 1970s. Here it is, in case you missed it.

The USDA is behind such gems including Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites pizza, Wendy's Double Melt, Burger King's Cheesy Angus Bacon cheeseburger and an extra cheesy Domino's pizza. All are packed with calories and saturated fat.

Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, wrote on her blog today that we shouldn't be so shocked, as after all, the USDA has always worked hand in hand with the dairy industry -- that was its purpose. "Only in the 1970s, did the USDA pick up all those pesky food assistance programs and capture the 'lead federal agency' role in providing dietary advice to the public."

The USDA's double-dealing is hardly shocking, of course, given the flood of industry lobbying dollars within every federal nook. But the implications at the intersection of poverty, health, food access, nutrition and race (fast-food restaurants target low-income areas and those in low-income struggle most with obesity and access to affordable, healthy foods) makes this feel somewhat indicative of what food activists are up against.

texas, charming.

Texas Battles E.P.A. Climate Regulation -

Monday, November 1, 2010


Hmm. If describing the connection of environmental degradation to breast cancer, what visual aid would best come to mind? How about an image of a healthy woman's breasts in a low-cut top, with no head, no body or legs, just the breasts? You got it!

In a response today to a reader's question about how environmental factors relate to breast cancer, typically awesome enviro magazine has emphasized its incredibly important message with said image, which currently serves as dominant image on the homepage. (Page-traffic ploy? Of course not!) It's super disappointing for such a progressive environmental news source to fall back on a tired, problematic practice -- featuring a photo of only a highly sexualized part of a woman's body detached from the rest of it, rendering her identity-less, just a part, further concretizing woman's objectified, commodified status. It's unnecessary, disrespectful and frankly, inappropriate, considering the tenor and purpose of the piece. We're talking breast cancer, the leading cause of death for women in the United States in the middle of life, not happy-sexy-boob talk.

To be fair, isn't any sort of specifically feminist or gender-related advocacy or news site, and maybe the photo was meant to lighten the gravity of the piece. But all of us working within various movements can't afford to be sexist, or racist, or classist, even if that's not our "issue" if we want to win our battles together, in mutual support. Not cool,, not cool at all.