Protest- Millions march against Monsanto and GM crops


Organisers celebrate huge global turnout and say they will continue until Monsanto and other GM manufacturers listen

Anti-GM protester

Protesters make their point to Monsanto in Los Angeles, California, May 25, 2013. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Organisers say that two million people marched in protest against seed giant Monsanto in hundreds of rallies across the US and in more than 50 other countries on Saturday.

“March Against Monsanto” protesters say they wanted to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food and the food giants that produce it. Founder and organiser Tami Canal said protests were held in 436 cities across 52 countries.

Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits, or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified. But some say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment.

The use of GMOs has been a growing issue of contention in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labelling of genetically modified products even though the federal government and many scientists say the technology is safe.

The “March Against Monsanto” movement began just a few months ago, when Canal created a Facebook page on 28 February calling for a rally against the company’s practices. “If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” she said Saturday. Instead, she said, two million responded to her message.

Together with Seattle blogger and activist Emilie Rensink and Nick Bernabe of Anti-Media.org, Canal worked with A Revolt.org digital anarchy to promote international awareness of the event. She called the turnout “incredible” and credited social media for being a vehicle for furthering opportunities for activism.

Despite the size of the gatherings, Canal said she was grateful that the marches were uniformly peaceful and that no arrests had been reported.

“It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today,” she said. The group plans to harness the success of the event to continue its anti-GMO cause.

“We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet,” she said. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?”

Monsanto, based in St Louis, said on Saturday that it respects people’s rights to express their opinions, but maintained that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving resources such as water and energy.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not require genetically modified foods to carry a label, but organic food companies and some consumer groups have intensified their push for labels, arguing that the modified seeds are floating from field to field and contaminating traditional crops. The groups have been bolstered by a growing network of consumers who are wary of processed and modified foods.

The Senate this week overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would allow states to require the labelling of genetically modified foods.

The Biotechnology Industry Organisation, a lobbying group that represents Monsanto, DuPont & Co and other makers of genetically modified seeds, has said that it supports voluntary labelling for people who seek out such products. But it says that mandatory labelling would only mislead or confuse consumers into thinking products weren’t safe, even though the FDA has said there is no difference between GMO and organic, non-GMO foods.

However, state legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut moved ahead this month with votes to make food companies declare genetically modified ingredients on their packages. And supermarket retailer Whole Foods Markets Inc has said that all products in its North American stores containing genetically modified ingredients will be labeled as such by 2018.

Whole Foods says there is growing demand for products that don’t use GMOs, with sales of products with a “Non-GMO” verification label spiking between 15% and 30%.

 

Walmart Black Friday Strike Being Organized Online For Stores Across U.S


Walmart Black Friday Strike Being Organized Online For Stores Across U.S. (

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving regarded as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, may be dramatically different this year.

Organizers are planning a nationwide strike against Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, and are banking on a new strategy: online organizing.

Labor organizers are working with social action nonprofit Engage Network as well as corporate watchdog nonprofit Corporate Action Network to pull off what they are calling a “viral” — meaning national and spreading online — strike.

Walmart workers interested in joining the day of action are directed to this website, either to find a store near them with an organized strike or to “adopt an event” at a store near them.

Brian Young, cofounder of the Corporate Action Network, said on a conference call coordinated by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Thursday, that organizers cannot cover the roughly 4,000 Walmarts across the country, but enabling self-appointed leaders online has widened and decentralized the campaign.

Supporters can also sponsor a striking worker, who may be losing wages in order to strike, by donating grocery gift cards. The campaign has raised more than $13,500 worth of donations toward grocery gift cards since Oct. 15 — a figure that doesn’t include significant funds raised through mailed-in checks, Jamie Way, of the UFCW, told HuffPost.

The campaign is also mobilizing strikers and supporters through a Facebook app, multiple Facebook pages, a Tumblr and Twitter with the hashtag #walmartstrikers.

“This online mobilization, in addition to traditional on-the-ground organizing, has allowed the campaign to reach into the rural corners of the country that might have otherwise been overlooked,” Marianne Manilov, cofounder of the Engage Network, said on the conference call.

She pointed to a group of renegade workers in Oklahoma who mobilized in October. “A completely unorganized set of workers in Oklahoma spontaneously went out on strike and held their own type of action without any organizer or … connection with the broader organization,” she said. “This is what organizing looks like in the age of Occupy.”

The outreach leading up to Black Friday follows a series of unprecedented actions taken by Walmart workers against their employer and working conditions. In October, for the first time in the company’s 50-year history, more than 70 workers at multiple Los Angeles-area Walmart stores walked off the job, even though their jobs are not protected by an official union. The strike had a ripple effect, causing strikes in 12 other cities, in large part through online organizing.

The success of these strikes, as well as one over the summer touted as the largest ever protest against the company, and a six-day pilgrimmage of warehouse workers in September, would not have been possible without Facebook, Twitter and other web sites, Young said.

“Making Change at Walmart,” which organized the demonstrations and is a campaign affiliated with the UFCW union, has over 25,000 supporters on Facebook.

Although it does not officially represent Walmart workers, OUR Walmart, organized by the Making Change campaign, acts like a union to fight for the rights of Walmart workers. OUR Walmart, which was founded last year with 100 members, now has over 14,000 supporters on Facebook.

Corey Parker, a Walmart worker from Mississippi, said on the conference call that he became active with OUR Walmart after finding out about it through a HuffPost article on Facebook. Now, he has mobilized workers at his store to strike on Black Friday because, he said, he realized that “not being able to make a living was not just an issue at my store.”

Adding fuel to movement, Walmart announced Thursday that it will kick off its Black Friday sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, its earliest start ever.

“Lots and lots of Walmart workers are going to be forced to not have Thanksgiving because they’re going to be preparing all day for the busiest shopping day of the year,” Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, said on the conference call. “This essentially cancels Thanksgiving for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

“It’s not like Walmart is financially hurting. It’s not like they’re not making unbelievable sums of money. The price of this is really decimating an important family day in our country.”

But Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said of the sale, “Last year, our highest customer traffic was during the 10 p.m. hour and, according to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving night shopping has surged over the past three years.”

“Most of our stores are open 24 hours and, historically, much of our Black Friday preparations have been done on Thanksgiving, which is not unusual in the retail industry,” he said, adding that the strikes planned for Black Friday, will not “have any impact on our business.”

Regarding the action over the last few months, Restivo said, “While the opinions expressed by this group don’t represent the views of the vast majority of more than 1.3 million Walmart associates in the U.S., when our associates bring forward concerns, we listen.”

In September, dozens of Walmart-contracted warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire walked off the job and went on a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage to protest working conditions and retaliation for speaking up.

More than a month later, the warehouse company NFI responded to some of the strikers’ working condition requests. “Just in the last week, we’ve seen the warehouse operators scrambling to replace broken and unsafe equipment, they’ve rented fans to increase ventilation, and they’ve added more water coolers,” Elizabeth Brennan, communications director for Warehouse Workers United, said on the conference call.

However, the strikers who returned to work have continued to face retaliation, many times getting their hours cut from 35 down to eight, she said. Some of these warehouse workers will join striking Walmart workers on Black Friday, Brennan said.

Excluding the retaliation, organizers hope to see that type of positive response after Black Friday. And with an online system open to anyone who wants to start a strike in his or her local Walmart, Manilov hopes both the demonstration and response will be broad-reaching.

“This is one of the first labor campaigns to really fully embrace the potential of online-to-offline labor organizing,” she said. “As this captures fire, its potential is limitless.”

A Tragic History Of Hate Crimes Against Sikhs In The U.S #Racism


 

Although the motives of the shooter in Wisconsin this morning are not yet clear, there is a bloody history of violence towards Sikhs in the United States since 9/11.

 Sikhism is a peaceful religion and its primary principles include equality and justice for all

.Summer Anne BurtonBuzzFeed Staff

 

September 15, 2001 – Mesa, Arizona

49-year-old gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot. Frank Silva Roque, the shooter, mistakenly believed Sodhi was Muslim because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners. Frank Silva Roque was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, but the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the sentence for life in prison, citing an extremely low IQ and mental illness. On August 4, 2002, Balbir’s brother Sukhpal was shot to death while driving a cab in San Francisco. It did appear that his shooting was an accident — a stray bullet from a nearby gang fight. Balbir’s son, Sukhwinder, was asked about the second tragedy and said “What are you going to do with anger? We like peace and we are a peaceful people.”

Dec 12, 2001 – Los Angeles, California

47-year-old Surinder Singh Sidhi was beaten by two men who entered his store, accused him of being Osama bin Laden, and beat him with metal poles. They said, “We’ll kill bin Laden today,” then hit him over twenty times with the poles. “The crime was regrettable but not surprising,” Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, spokesman for the Khalsa Council, an international council for Sikh affairs, said.“We’re deeply concerned by this event. But we are not shocked. Sikhs are accustomed to ridicule because of wearing turbans.”

February 19, 2002 – Palermo, New York

Three 18-year-old boys and one 19-year-old girl burned down the Sikh temple Gobinde Sadan.The teens told authorities that they believed the temple was named “Go Bin Laden.”

May 20, 2003 – Phoenix, Arizona

Avtar Singh, 52, a Sikh immigrant, was shot and wounded. Sigh parked his 18-wheeler in Phoenix and called his son to pick him up. While he was waiting, at least two young white men pulled up and started yelling. Singh said “I hear that voice: ‘Go back to where you belong to.’ And at the same time I heard the shot.”

Mar 14, 2004 – Fresno, California

Vandals spray-painted graffiti saying “Rags Go Home” and “It’s Not Your Country” on the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno. It was not the first time the temple had been defaced — in 2003, vandals struck five nights in a row, spraying paint and hurling firecrackers at the temple.

July 12, 2004 – New York

Sikhs Rajinder Singh Khalsa (above, after the attack) and Gurcharan Singh were viciously beaten by an intoxicated group of Caucasian males in their 20s. 54-year-old Rajinder Singh Khalsa was walking to the Tandoori Express Restaurant with his cousin Gurcharan Singh when the group of Caucasian males in their 20s began to taunt them, referencing September 11th and making fun of their turbans. Rajinder Singh Khalsa attempted to explain the significance to the attackers, who responded by assaulting him. He was beaten unconscious and was found to have multiple broken bones.

May 24, 2007 – Queens, New York

A 15-year-old Sikh student had his hair forcibly cut by a fellow student at Newtown High School in Queens. Unshorn hair is a religious imperative for a Sikh, and the student tried to explain that to his assailant, who threatened him with scissors.

January 14, 2008 – New Hyde Park, New York

Baljeet Singh, a 63-year-old Sikh, was attacked outside his temple by a man who screamed “Arab, go back to your country.” Wood then allegedly told Chadha “you don’t listen” and punched him in the face. Singh suffered a broken nose and a fractured jaw.

June 5, 2008 – Queens, New York

A 9th grade Sikh student at Richmond Hill High School was attacked by a fellow student. The bully sought to remove his Sikh classmate’s patka from behind, and hit him in the face with keys. The victim ended up in the hospital with severe bruising and swelling. The victim had been reporting the bully for months, after the bully allegedly teased the child often, tugging on the victim’s beard and asking why he didn’t shave.

January 30, 2009 – New York

Jasmir Singh was attacked by three men around 4 AM outside a grocery store in Queens with a glass bottle. Jasmir’s friend who was with him the morning of the attack, told the police that while Jasmir was being attacked, racist slurs were used as the criminals aimed at Jasmir’s beard and turban. His father was attacked on the Subway two years later.

May 30, 2011 – New York Subway

Jasmir Singh’s father, MTA worker Jiwan Singh, a U.S. resident for thirty years, was accosted on the A train and accused of being related to Osama Bin Laden. The attacker then repeatedly punched Singh in the face. The victim lost three teeth. His daughter, Piarry, 18, said “I just wish people were not cruel.”

Sadly, these incidents only represent a fraction of the crimes — many of which certainly go unreported — that are perpetrated against Sikhs in the United States. A 2007 survey of Sikh students by the Sikh Coalition found that three out of four male students interviewed “had been teased or harassed on account of their religious identity.”

That discrimination has worsened significantly since 9/11. Sikhs have struggled with trying to prove to the hateful that they are not Muslims or Arabs, while still believing in equality and fair treatment for those groups as well. Today’s incident may or may not end up being classified as a hate crime, but regardless: the Sikh people certainly deserve the respect and acceptance of their fellow Americans rather than the scorn, ridicule, and violence they are too often subjected to.

Source: Real Sikhism

realsikhism.com

Sex workers cannot be mothers – says Satara police #WTFnews



Anu Mokal, a pregnant woman was beaten up by Police in Satara, Maharashtra. She was so severely beaten  that she had a miscarriage and lost her baby. No Law in the country allows Police to physically assault a women. This case is worst because male cops have assaulted a female victim.

Her fault, being a sex worker

Actually, i feel very demoralized because if the police had done this to a non sex worker everyone would be up in arms. NO body reacted after it appeared in the papers in Satara, too. When they met me Durga said, if it was a `gharguti’ [wife] woman everyone would protect her womb, [ vanshacha diva - heir] but because it is a sex worker her fetus is not considered sacred or that she has a `vansh’, as a `bad woman’. That is what the police and society think, in any case.- Meena Seshu of SANGRAM
On 2nd April, around 7:30 PM, Anu Mokal accompanied by Anjana Ghadge were taking dinner for her friend Jaya Kamble who was undergoing treatment in the local civil hospital. When they were passing the Satara bus stand area, senior police inspector Dayanand Dhome started yelling at them using abusive language. When they told him that they were only taking food for their friend, he called them liars and without any provocation, Dhome and his subordinates started beating Anu and her friend Anjana Ghadge.

Dhome repeatedly said that women like Anu are a ‘shame’ to him while he continued to kick her. Anu fell down and pleaded that she was four months pregnant but they continued kicking and beating her. She was then forcibly taken to the police station. Anu and Anjana were detained and put in a lockup from where Anu and Anjana were routinely taken to civil hospital for treatment. Anu told the doctor she was pregnant and he prescribed medication, but the police didn’t allow her to buy nor did they give the medication to her.

On 3/4/2012 they were produced before the magistrate and were released after a payment of Rs 1200 fine for an offense not known to them or specified. They were taken to the civil hospital again by members of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad [VAMP], a network of sex workers and Anu received medication.

But on 5/04/2012 night, she suffered a miscarriage. The miscarriage is quite likely to have resulted from the trauma of the thrashing by Dayanand Dhome and his subordinates. She has filed a complaint against Inspector Dhome and his colleagues with the Superintendent of Police K. M. M. Prasanna. However, her complaint and visit to the SP have been in vain.

SANGRAM the organisation that runs the Maharashtra State AIDS Society HIV/AIDS prevention project with women in sex work and sexual minorities in Satara District also sent a written complaint to Home Minister R.R.Patil, DSP Prasanna, Satara and Regional DIG Tukaram Chavhan, demanding that action be taken against Dayanad Dhome and others, but to no avail. DSP Prasanna told a delegation from VAMP on 30/04/2012 that an enquiry is instituted but would not commit as to when we can expect a result.

Anu and Anjana are are asking for justice and their right to get a hearing. Anu feels that the miscarriage due to severe beating and the subsequent trauma are not taken seriously because she is a sex worker. In fact, the police had the audacity to tell these women that sex workers cannot be mothers.

We Demand

1. The Inquiry in the case be expedited and the report be made public

2. Inspector Dayanand Dhome be suspended with immediate effect.

3. A Grievance committee be set up by the Maharashtra Government, which includes members from the field of sex work, women rights, police, law, so that such incidents are not repeated and they get speedy justice.

4. The Maharashtra Government which runs the HIV/AIDS programmes with sex workers have a policy on Police violence against sex workers male/female and transgender.

PLEASE SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION AND SHARE WIDELY