New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Who Should Decide?

November 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Peter G. Cohen, Politics

Congress Is Making a Critical Decision

by Peter G. Cohen

The Pentagon is lobbying the Congress to provide funds for the “Modernization” of the B-61 gravity  bombs now stored in Europe. Making this bomb more accurate and more “useable” will cost an estimated $8.1 billion through 2024. At the same time, many experts File:B61internals.pngand some European nations would like to see the bombs withdrawn from Europe.

“I would never have thought those silly things would still be there in 2013. I think they are an absolutely pointless part of a tradition in military thinking.” said former Dutch Prime Minister, Ruud Lubbers, to Time Flies, a National Geographic Television documentary. In 2010 a parliamentary resolution called on the Dutch governments to inform the United States that its nuclear weapons were no longer required for Dutch security. (more…)

Justice Begins with Seeds

August 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Reclaiming a Free, Fair, and Democratic Food System

by Devon G. Peña

I was recently at an international gathering in Seattle comprised of a diverse network of farmers, farm workers, union and community organizers, seed savers, plant breeders, consumer right-to-know activists, research scholars, students, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and elected officials. What we all shared in common is a thirst for justice and an understanding that “Justice Begins with Seeds,” which was the theme of the meeting organized by the California-based Biosafety Alliance.

The theme of the conference reflects part of a global social movement response to the enclosure of the biological heritage of humanity by the biotechnology industry — the “Gene Giants” like Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta — which seeks to privatize ownership of seeds and make all living things patentable. (more…)

No Patents on Life

June 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Supreme Court Ruling Could Change Debate Over Transgenic Crops

by Devon G. Peña

In a historic 9-0 ruling on June 13th, the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) rejected the patent claims of a private corporation, Myriad Genetics, which claimed that it held ownership of a gene that is associated with breast cancer. Use this link for the full text of the ruling: Association for Molecular Pathology, et al v. Myriad Genetics, et al.

The rare unanimous opinion was actually written by Justice Clarence Thomas who firmly rejected Myriad’s assertion that the DNA it isolated from the human body for its tests were patentable. Explaining the ruling for the court, Justice Thomas wrote: “We hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” Myriad Genetics patented the genes sequence in question — BRCA1 and BRCA2 — in 1995.

Myriad, which is now based in Salt Lake City, Utah, had patented the gene based on research conducted by Nary Clair King, at the time a professor at University of California-Berkeley and now a University of Washington Professor of Genome Sciences. (more…)

End of the Line

May 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Communities of Color Cope with the Brunt of Petrochemical Waste

by Devon G. Peña

The East Side of Houston, Texas is known as el barrio de los pobres — the poor people’s neighborhood. Historically, the residents here have been predominantly African American but more recently many of the neighborhoods have been settled by Latina/o immigrants, most of them Mexicans who have joined some of the older Chicana/o families with roots in the area dating back 3-4 generations.

The East Side is also ground zero in any ‘toxic tour’ of Harris County. In fact, the area is the urban center for the region’s petrochemical industry. It is not unusual to see homes surrounded by tank farms; schoolyards, playgrounds, or athletic fields located next to fractionating towers and smokestacks belching black smoke or burning-off excess chemicals and gases. These are iconic fence-line communities. The East Side is currently home to four major petrochemical plant complexes: Valero Refinery, Texas Petro-Chemical, LyondellBasell, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber. (more…)

Civilizational Shift

May 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

Old-Fashioned Activism to Confront the Food Monopoly

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

In the twentieth century, American agriculture abandoned its traditions of family farming. This was no small change. Like the centuries-long enclosure movement in England whereby the landlords used the law and violence to privatize the commons and throw out of the land uncounted number of peasants, American large farmers have been using the power of the state to bring about a civilization shift in rural America.

They transformed a way of life for raising food and sustaining democratic society to a massive factory industrializing both farming and food and farmers, making rural America a colony for the extraction of profit.

This tragedy left behind millions of broken family farms, contaminated water and land, and a wounded rural America.

According to the 1884 “Transactions of the California State Agricultural Society,” “there will be too few farms and these too large. A republic cannot long survive when the lands are concentrated in the hands of a few men. Any man will fight for his home, but it takes a very brave man to fight for the privilege of working for half wages.” (more…)

A Tale of Two Tragedies

April 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

Extending Our Compassion Beyond the News of the Day

by Mike Ferner

On April 15, 29 year-old Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, 23 and Martin Richard, 8, left home to watch runners cross the finish line in the Boston Marathon.  They and their families thought they would return that day as always.  But they never did.  As the world now knows, Krystle, Lu and Martin were killed and 170 other people were shattered by bombs that day.

Also in Massachusetts, Giuseppe Cracchiola and David Frank, Sr. went to work on January 28, as did Jose Roldan the following day.  They and their families thought they would come home that night as always.  But they never did. (more…)

Reconstructed Ethnicities

April 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Faces of Eco-Tourism in the Rift Valley

by Charlene R. Apok

Post colonization, some of the most valuable lands of vast Rift Valley have been enclosed as private ‘protected reserves’. This has led to intense conflicts over the future of these lands and their rightful heirs, the indigenous Maasai people. A contentious debate has photo by Charlene Apokintensified with the growth of tourism and, especially, eco-tourism, which has become deeply entangled with this region. Anthropologists and other social scientists have joined the debate. Honey (2009) looked at so-called community eco-tourism at the national level and reveals numerous shortcomings, but is still in favor of the promotion of tourism and seeks equitable distribution of economic assets to more directly benefit the indigenous communities. (more…)