Welcome to Uprising, a weekly digest of independent news analysis, investigation, education, artistic expression and activism.
It's February 2012 and I'm your host, Sonali Kolhatkar.
BILLBOARD: Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution is Polarizing America, Mass Protests, Violence, & Oil Spills, Rock Nigeria, and the Fight Against Genetically Modified Organisms Gains Steam Nationwide
Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution is Polarizing America
After announcing that it would cut funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure Foundation reversed its position on Friday. A new, controversial policy within the foundation, seemingly designed to target Planned Parenthood, was used as the reason to initially cut $600,000 in annual funding. That funding was primarily used to conduct breast cancer screenings for women in poor communities. Tens of thousands of Americans expressed outrage at the Komen Foundation's decision, pouring donations into Planned Parenthood, and likely helping to reverse the Foundation's decision. Planned Parenthood is currently being investigated by Republican members of Congress and has become the new target of conservatives for being a leading abortion provider in the United States. Abortion and reproductive rights, gay and lesbian rights, have become flashpoints in this year's elections, as has now become the norm in American electoral politics.
In a new book entitled Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution is Polarizing America, historian, author, and Huffington Post writer Nancy L Cohen investigates what she calls "a shadow movement deep within both parties that is responsible for America's current political crisis." The fact that issues of contraception, abortion, gay rights, and more are deemed such important political litmus tests at a time when economic injustice threatens to tear apart the fabric of American society, is a testament to the strength of the sexual counter-revolution the backlash to the feminist and gay rights revolutions from the extreme right that have increasingly dominated the nation's politics. In Delirium, Nancy Cohen asks the question of "Why, when the United States is mired in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, would birth control, abortion, and the rights of gays and women top the agenda of the Republican Party?" But Cohen also maintains that "the sexual counterrevolution has been a bipartisan affair," indicting the Democratic Party of political calculation at the expense of women's and gay rights. Even President Obama has waffled, saying that his views were "evolving."
GUEST: Nancy L Cohen, historian, author, and contributor to The Huffington Post. She is the author of two books, including The Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865-1914. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Business History Review, and elsewhere.
Visit Nancy Cohen online at www.nancylcohen.com. Follow her on twitter.com/nancylcohen.
Mass Protests, Violence, & Oil Spills, Rock Nigeria
William Gregory Ock, a US citizen working in Nigeria was released last Friday after a week in captivity. He was held hostage by gunmen demanding a ransom of $333,000 in the country's volatile, but oil rich, Niger Delta. The January 20th kidnapping came on the same day as a wave of coordinated bombings and shootings racked the northern city of Kano, killing over 180 people. The Islamist group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was meant as retribution for the alleged torture of its members by the government. Boko Haram has been active since 2003 in Northern Nigeria, an impoverished predominantly Muslim region that is far less developed than the South. The growing instability of Nigeria's north prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to announce the possibility of a dialogue between his government and Boko Haram. Friday's announcement follows the partial restoration last week of a government oil subsidy that was cut on January 1st, which caused oil prices to skyrocket from $1.70 a gallon to $3.50 a gallon, triggering a rise in the price of food and other necessities. The partial subsidy brought the price of fuel down to $2.27 a gallon and came after eight days of strikes, widespread popular discontent, and trade union plans to halt oil production. Meanwhile, concerns over the environmental impact of two recent oil spills in Nigeria continue. In December 40 thousand barrels of oil spilled in the Bonga oil field off the Nigerian coast at a facility operated by the Royal Dutch Shell Company, making it Nigeria's worst spill in since 1998. Also, just this month on January 16th, a fire broke out on a Chevron oil rig in the Funiwa field that, according to a Chevron official, will likely burn for another thirty days.
GUEST: Aniedi Okure is Executive Director of Africa Faith and Justice Network, a community of advocates for responsible U.S. relations with Africa
Fight Against Genetically Modified Organisms Gains Steam Nationwide
In his annual newsletter for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, billionaire Bill Gates took a public position in favor of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs, as a solution for world hunger. His explanation for world hunger used the following logic: "The problem is that farms don't produce enough food for a family to live on." GMOs have been used as a magic bullet for global hunger for years now, and the world's leading GMO producing giant, Monsanto, has been leading the charge to promote GMOs despite reluctance on the part of many nations, and general public distaste for the technology. Six nations in the European Union have banned GMOs, and Monsanto recently gave up on its efforts to sell insect resistant genetically modified maize to France. Increasingly cited by activists online is a 2010 scientific paper published by the International Journal of Biological Sciences which was based on a study that finds a clear link between the consumption of GMO corn, and organ failure in rats.
Meanwhile a two-year old Obama appointment to the Food and Drug Administration is being challenged once more by an online petition. Michael Taylor was a Vice President at Monsanto and currently serves as Senior Consultant to the government's leading food safety agency. And, in New York today, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association will confront Monsanto in a federal court in a land mark case against the GMO giant. The organization represents over 300,000 farmers and seed sellers around the country, seeking protection from the contamination of their crops by GMOs. This month, activists on the Hawaiian island of Maui, staged an anti-Monsanto protest. The Occupy Maui protesters set up an encampment along the Pi'ilani Highway in Kihei. They are protesting the impact of GMOs on small farmers, and the resulting over use of herbicides.
One approach that anti-GMO activists have taken is to insist on labeling GMO foods. In California, where this program is produced, a state-wide grassroots effort is underway to qualify a ballot measure in November to require GMO labeling. The state of Washington's legislature is also considering labeling bills. And a new nationwide campaign called simply "Just Label It!" has gathered more than half a million signatures demanding that the FDA require labeling. Ninety three percent of people polled in a recent ABC News poll said they would like the federal government to require GMO labeling. Fifty other nations worldwide, including China, have agreed to label GMO foods.
GUEST: Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director, Institute for Responsible Technology, and Bestselling Author, of Genetic Roulette and Seeds of Deception
Visit www.responsibletechnology.org, www.nongmoproject.org, and www.justlabelit.org, for more information.
Sonali's Subversive Thought for the Day:
"The human brain now holds the key to our future. We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected. That is our home." David Suzuki
CLOSING: You've been listening to Uprising, produced at the studios of KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles. This program was recorded on February 3rd 2012. Our assistant producer is Martina Steiner. Our interns are Leonardo Alannis and Tracy Nelson. We had engineering help from Teddy Robinson. You can hear a podcast, listen to the audio stream, or download an Mp3 of today's program at our website, www.uprisingradio.org - just click on Weekly Programs. And you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm your host, producer Sonali Kolhatkar. Tune in next week for another edition of Uprising, and thanks for listening.
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