Nov 02 2012

Weekly Digest – 11/02/12

Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* How Hurricane Sandy Must Change the Way We Talk About Climate Change
* Vandana Shiva on Prop 37, GMOs, Food Sovereignty, and More
* Some Progressives Urge For a Swing State Strategy To Ensure Romney Doesn’t Win

* * *

How Hurricane Sandy Must Change the Way We Talk About Climate Change

Coming just a week before a high stakes presidential election, Superstorm Sandy has left large regions of the American North East devastated and without power. The death toll is nearly 100 as of this recording with about 40 deaths in New York City alone. However, parts of Staten Island and New Jersey remain the hardest hit. President Obama has been touring storm-hit areas, prompting New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg to endorse him for reelection.

Two days after Superstorm Sandy GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney finally clarified his position on the federal government’s primary disaster relief agency, FEMA. Having initially supported sending federal dollars back to states at FEMA’s expense during the primary election, Romney said on Wednesday: “I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission…” Critics are once more characterizing the Governor’s ever-changing positions as “flip-flopping” in order to curry favor with voters.

Romney is also coming under fire for a campaign event the day after the storm, which was re-cast as a hurricane relief event. Rather than cancel his Ohio campaign rally, Romney went ahead and changed just a few things – the name of the event, and a requirement for supporters to bring canned goods and other products for storm victims. Democrats and progressive activists are calling out the Romney campaign for apparently buying $5000 worth of products at a Walmart the night before the event and allowing rally attendees to pretend to donate them.

Meanwhile, Superstorm Sandy has forced the issue of climate change to enter the national discourse. Before Sandy, there was almost no mention of it from either major party presidential candidate. In an MTV interview on October 26th, Obama said, “scientists …say we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and it’s heating the planet, and it’s going to have a severe effect.” In response to a question about climate change by sciencedebate.org in September, Romney did say the “world is getting warmer, [and] that human activity contributes to that warming.” But he added “there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk.”

His assessment about scientific consensus on climate change is questionable. However, scientists don’t often help the cause against climate change, going out of their way to say that no single event can be directly linked to climate change. However, cognitive linguist George Lakoff says “Climate change systemically caused Hurricane Sandy.”

GUEST: George Lakoff, a Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, he’s the author of a number of books including Don’t Think of an Elephant!, Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea, and The Political Mind. He also writes for the Huffington Post

Click here to read George Lakoff’s article.

Vandana Shiva on Prop 37, GMOs, Food Sovereignty, and More

California’s Proposition 37 on the November 6th ballot is being closely watched by people around the nation and the world. The measure was widely popular about a month ago. But a new poll has found that the GMO labeling initiative has slipped a whopping 17 points since the last poll in September. The proposition continues to lead but only by 2 percentage points with just days before the election. Thirteen percent of likely voters are still undecided on whether to require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms in foods.

The dramatic shift in opinion is likely due to the barrage of dollars spent by vested corporate interests to defeat Prop 37. Chief among them are Monsanto corporation, the leading commercial force behind the creation, promotion, and widespread use of pesticides and genetically modified seeds in farming, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association which represents the world’s largest processed food producers and distributors such as Coca Cola, Pepsi Co, and Nestle. Together, they have spent $41 million in advertising and other campaigning, claiming that Proposition 37 is “anti-science,” and would lead to huge increases in food prices, the banning of safe foods. At least two newspapers have concluded the No on Prop 37 ads are misleading and deceptive.

Now, one of the world’s most renowned scientists and environmental activists, Vandana Shiva, is speaking out on behalf of proposition 37. Long a thorn in the side of Monsanto, Dr. Shiva has taken on big bio-tech and agribusiness companies in her home country of India and works with farmers groups all over the world to protect their right to farm using their traditional methods and seeds.

GUEST: Trained as a physicist, Vandana Shiva is the founder of Navadanya, “a movement which aims to protect nature and people’s rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food,” by creating community seed banks among other things. She just concluded a two week long global action called “seed freedom.” She has written nearly two dozen books, including Democratizing Biology: Reinventing Biology from a Feminist, Ecological and Third World Perspective, and Soil Not Oil. Her forthcoming book out next year is entitled Making Peace With the Earth: Beyond Land Wars And Food Wars. Vandana Shiva has won a number of awards including the Sydney Peace Prize and the Right Livlihood Award and was named by the Guardian newspaper as one of their Top 100 most inspiring women.

Some Progressives Urge For a Swing State Strategy To Ensure Romney Doesn’t Win

As Superstorm Sandy’s worst impacts are relegated to the political backburner, Presidential campaigns are gearing up once more with only days left before the election. New polls of swing states show President Obama leading Governor Romney on the issue of Medicare. Senior voters who rely on Medicare in states like Virginia, Florida, and Ohio may make all the difference on election day.

Also being closely watched are third party voters in such swing states. Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party are among those also running for President, and in some crucial states, could shave off enough slivers of of the electorate from one side of the political spectrum to hand over a victory to Obama or Romney.

Haunted by George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in the state of Florida and subsequently the nation, in 2000 which many attribute to Florida’s Ralph Nader voters, progressives this time around are endorsing a “safe state/swing state” strategy. Such a strategy involves encouraging voters to pick their favorite progressive third party candidate in so-called safe states like California or Texas where Obama or Romney are all but guaranteed wins by large margins, while voting for President Obama in swing states like Florida.

A proposal posted on RootsAction.org, summarizing this strategy calls on progressives to “have the most impact with their presidential vote.” The proposal has been signed by a number of prominent progressive political activists and thinkers including Jeff Cohen, Daniel Ellsberg, Cornel West, Frances Fox Piven, Barbara Ehrenreich, Marjorie Cohn, Jim Hightower and, my guest, Norman Solomon.

GUEST: Norman Solomon, co-founder of rootsaction.org, author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death. Norman was also recent candidate for Congress.

Click here to read the RootsAction proposal.

Watch the debate between Jeff Cohen and Cheri Honkala here:


More at The Real News

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

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