Uprising

Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013, 1:20 pm  ·  By Kari Lydersen

In Honduras, Resistance Against Ruling Party Continues Despite Peril

Edgardo Castro, an outspoken TV and radio reporter, was recently elected to Congress—which puts him in even greater danger. (Kari Lydersen)  

Honduras has been named one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. In the last four years, at least 15 have been assassinated, with the murders widely attributed to the nation’s environment of political strife, repression, drug trafficking and corruption. And since Juan Orlando Hernández of the conservative National Party won the now-contested November 24 presidential election, many journalists say they’ve faced even more hazards.

Edgardo Castro, an outspoken TV and radio reporter with the major media company Globo, told In These Times that when he returns to Honduras from a trip to Chicago to talk with supporters and escape the immediate risk of violence post-election, he will be “in danger everywhere, all the time.” In November, Castro was also elected to Congress as a representative of the opposition LIBRE party, which formed after the 2009 coup that removed then-President Manuel Zelaya from power.

Like many LIBRE politicians and advocates, Castro has been receiving an increasing number of death threats in the last few weeks. The evening before the election, two leaders of a rural farmers’ group, who were also LIBRE members, were murdered after leaving a poll-watcher training. A week later, high-profile LIBRE activist José Antonio Ardon was kidnapped and then found dead. And on December 7, Castro’s Globo colleague Juan Carlos Argeñal Medina—a LIBRE supporter—was murdered in his home.

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Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013, 3:21 pm  ·  By Stephen Zunes

The Truth About Nonviolent Movements

Graffiti in support of the Serbian student-led pro-democracy group Otpor!, near the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, in 2001. (Wikimedia Commons)  

Journalists Carl Gibson and Steve Horn have done an important service with their article outlining Serbian activist Srdja Popovic’s inexcusable collaboration with the global intelligence company STRATFOR, and his role in disclosing the activities of movements and activists with whom he has worked. Unfortunately, the article falls into a rather simplistic and reductionist analysis of Popovic’s motivations and, more critically, misrepresents the nature of the popular uprisings in Serbia and other countries. The article also contains a number of factual errors and misleading statements.

Even prior to the recent revelations, Popovic’s activities were being increasingly recognized as problematic within the network of proponents of strategic nonviolent action, including many of us who had worked with him in the past. (Between 2006 and 2008, Popovic and I collaborated on a number of workshops together and he hosted me when I served as guest lecturer for the Political Science faculty at the University of Belgrade.) Among other things, Popovic has received criticism for grossly overstating the role he and CANVAS have played in supporting various popular struggles, which many in the Western media were eager to exaggerate as well. This, unfortunately, fell right into the hands of autocratic regimes and their apologists which have tried to deny that popular protests against them were based on legitimate grievances, instead labeling them the work of “outside agitators.” Meanwhile, in an apparent effort to distract attention from their support for various dictatorships and occupation armies, some Western governments would also exaggerate the significance of their limited support for some of CANVAS’s work and other opposition activities against autocratic regimes they didn’t like. Ironically, Gibson and Horn’s article naïvely bought into this very narrative of exaggerating the impact of Popovic and CANVAS.

A more serious problem with Gibson and Horn’s article, however, is its misleading and inaccurate portrayal of nonviolent movements—both Otpor! and other democratic movements worldwide. Ironically, Gibson and Horn take a page from STRATFOR in overestimating the power of outside forces and underestimating the power of popular domestic uprisings, the only real lever for democratic change.

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Monday, Dec 2, 2013, 3:14 pm  ·  By Carl Gibson and Steve Horn

Wikileaks Docs Expose Famed Serbian Activist’s Ties to ‘Shadow CIA’

An Otpor resistance movement poster in Belgrade shows a portrait of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic above the slogan, "Who is guilty?"   (Photo by Eric Fererberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Serbia’s Srdja Popovic is known by many as a leading architect of regime changes in Eastern Europe and elsewhere since the late-1990s, and as one of the co-founders of Otpor!, the U.S.-funded Serbian activist group which overthrew Slobodan Milošević in 2000.

Lesser known, an exclusive Occupy.com investigation reveals that Popovic and the Otpor! offshoot CANVAS (Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies) have also maintained close ties with a Goldman Sachs executive and the private intelligence firmStratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.), as well as the U.S. government. Popovic’s wife also worked at Stratfor for a year.

These revelations come in the aftermath of thousands of new emails released by Wikileaks' “Global Intelligence Files.” The emails reveal Popovic worked closely with Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based private firm that gathers intelligence on geopolitical events and activists forclients ranging from the American Petroleum Institute and Archer Daniels Midland to Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Northrop Grumman, Intel and Coca-Cola.

Referred to in emails under the moniker “SR501,” Popovic was first approached by Stratfor in 2007 to give a lecture in the firm's office about events transpiring in Eastern Europe, according to a Stratfor source who asked to remain confidential for this story.

In one of the emails, Popovic forwarded information about activists harmed or killed by the U.S.-armed Bahraini government, obtained from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights during the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy activists in fall 2011. Popovic also penned a blueprint for Stratfor on how to unseat the now-deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in September 2010.

- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/exposed-globally-renowned-activist-collaborated-intelligence-firm-stratfor#sthash.uyX2lbES.dpuf

Serbia’s Srdja Popovic is known by many as a leading architect of regime changes in Eastern Europe and elsewhere since the late-1990s, and as one of the co-founders of Otpor!, the U.S.-funded Serbian activist group which overthrew Slobodan Milošević in 2000.

Lesser known, an exclusive Occupy.com investigation reveals that Popovic and the Otpor! offshoot CANVAS (Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies) have also maintained close ties with a Goldman Sachs executive and the private intelligence firm Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.), as well as the U.S. government. Popovic’s wife also worked at Stratfor for a year.

These revelations come in the aftermath of thousands of new emails released by Wikileaks' “Global Intelligence Files.” The emails reveal Popovic worked closely with Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based private firm that gathers intelligence on geopolitical events and activists forclients ranging from the American Petroleum Institute and Archer Daniels Midland to Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Northrop Grumman, Intel and Coca-Cola.

Referred to in emails under the moniker “SR501,” Popovic was first approached by Stratfor in 2007 to give a lecture in the firm's office about events transpiring in Eastern Europe, according to a Stratfor source who asked to remain confidential for this story.

In one of the emails, Popovic forwarded information about activists harmed or killed by the U.S.-armed Bahraini government, obtained from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights during the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy activists in fall 2011. Popovic also penned a blueprint for Stratfor on how to unseat the now-deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in September 2010.

Stratfor’s Global Activist Connector

Using his celebrated activist status, Popovic opened many doors for Stratfor to meet with activists globally. In turn, the information Stratfor intended to gain from Popovic’s contacts would serve as “actionable intelligence”—the firm billed itself as a “Shadow CIA”—for its corporate clients.

Popovic passed information to Stratfor about on-the-ground activist events in countries around the world, ranging from the Philippines, Libya, Tunisia, Vietnam, Iran, Azerbaijan, EgyptTibetZimbabwePoland and BelarusGeorgiaBahrainVenezuela and Malaysia. Often, the emails reveal, Popovic passed on the information to Stratfor without the consent of the activists and likely without the activists ever knowing that their emails were being shuttled to the private security firm.

In the U.S., this investigation's co-author, Carl Gibson (representing US Uncut), and the Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum had a meeting with Popovic shortly after their two respective groups used a media hoax to play a prank on General Electric, ridiculing the company over its non-payment of U.S. taxes.

The pair gave Popovic information about both groups’ plans for the coming year and news later came out that Stratfor closely monitored the Yes Men’s activities.

During the Arab Spring, in Egypt in January 2011, Popovic received an interview invitation for an appearance on CNN. The first people he turned to for talking points were Stratfor employees, who provided him with five talking points to lead with.

Stratfor said Popovic’s main use for the firm was his vast array of grassroots activist contacts around the world.

“A little reminder that the main utility in this contact is his ability to connect us to the troublemakers around the world that he is in touch with. His own ability to discern situation on the ground may be limited, he mainly has initial contact with an asset and then lets them do their own thing,” reads a May 2010 email written by former Stratfor Eurasia Analyst Marko Papic. “He does himself have information that may be useful from time to time. But, the idea is to gather a network of contacts through CANVAS, contacts that we can then contact independently.”

Popovic was so well-received by Stratfor that he even got his wife, Marijah, a job there. She worked for a year from March 2010 through March 2011 as the weekend open source intelligence analyst at Stratfor. The other candidate for the job, Jelena Tancic, also worked for CANVAS.

“The Canvas guy [Popovic] is a friend/source [for Stratfor], and recommended her to us,” Stratfor’s Vice President of Analysis Scott Stewart said in a March 2010 email, leaving out that the two were dating at the time.

Popovic and his wife grew so close to Stratfor, in fact, that Popovic invited numerous members of the Stratfor staff to their wedding in Belgrade, Serbia.

Helping Stratfor Manufacture Revolutions

Stratfor saw Popovic’s main value not only as a source for intelligence on global revolutionary and activist movements, but also as someone who, if needed, could help overthrow leaders of countries hostile to U.S. geopolitical and financial interests. So useful was Popovic to Stratfor that the firm gave him a free subscription, dubbed “legit sources we use all the time as a company” by Papic.

In a June 2011 email, Papic referred to Popovic as a “great friend” of his and described him as a “Serb activist who travels the world fomenting revolution.”

“They ... basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;),” Papic says in one email. Replying to a follow up to that email, he states, “They just go and set up shop in a country and try to bring the government down. When used properly, more powerful than an aircraft carrier battle group.”

In response to the “aircraft battle group” email, Stratfor Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton sardonically said that perhaps they could be sent into Iran. Emails also reveal Popovic served as an information source intermediary for on-the-ground activists in Iran, also informing Stratfor of the funding struggle for “democracy programs” there, as the U.S. government pushed a “soft power” agenda.

Another March 2010 email from Stewart to Burton said that CANVAS was “trying to get rid of Chavez,” referring to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In 2007, CANVAS trained activists to overthrow Chavez.

“If I remember correctly, we use hushmail communication to contact him regarding Venezuela due to the sensitivity of using a revolutionary NGO as a source considering we have clients who operate in country,” Papic said in a January 2011 email of Popovic.

Stratfor grew so enamored of CANVAS’s ability to foment regime change abroad that it invited Popovic to its Austin headquarters in 2010 to give seminars on the subject, and paid for his trip there.

CANVAS’s Goldman Sachs Cash

One of CANVAS’s major allies is Muneer Satter, a former Goldman Sachs executive who stepped down from that position in June 2012 and now owns Satter Investment Management LLC. Stratfor CEO Shea Morenz worked for ten years at Goldman Sachs as well, where he served as Managing Director in the Investment Management Division and Region Head for Private Wealth Management for the Southwest Region.

Satter is meanwhile a major funder of the Republican Party, giving over $300,000 to Karl Rove’s Super PAC Crossroads GPS before the 2012 election, and another $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association in the first half of 2013 prior to the 2014 mid-term elections.

Living in a massive, $9.5 million mansion in Chicago's North Shore suburb of Lake Michigan, Muneer also gave $50,000 toward President Obama’s inaugural fund in 2009.

When it came time to connect Muneer with the global intelligence firm, Popovic served as the middle man introducing Satter to Stratfor Chairman George Friedman.

"Whenever I want to understand the details behind world events, I turn to Stratfor,” reads an endorsement from Satter on Stratfor's website. “They have the most detailed and insightful analysis of world affairs and are miles ahead of mainstream media."

Otpor!: A Counter-History

To understand how Popovic came to aide Stratfor in its intelligence-gathering efforts, it’s crucial to examine Otpor! and CANVAS critically. A close examination demonstrates that Popovic was a natural choice to be a Stratfor informant and close advisor.

Often valorized by grassroots activists and Western media, there was far more to the “Bulldozer Revolution” that led to the overthrow of Milošević and subsequent Eastern European regimes than meets the eye.

“In principle, [Serbia] was an overt operation, funded by congressional appropriations of around $10 million for fiscal 1999 and $31 million for 2000. Some Americans involved in the anti-Milosevic effort said they were aware of CIA activity at the fringes of the campaign, but had trouble finding out what the agency was up to,” explained a 2000 investigative piece appearing in The Washington Post.

“The lead role was taken by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government's foreign assistance agency, which channeled the funds through commercial contractors and nonprofit groups such as NDI and its Republican counterpart, the International Republican Institute (IRI).”

Papic’s statement about CANVAS being “more powerful than an aircraft carrier” wasn’t mere hyperbole, but was based on the Otpor! Serbia experience in the late-1990s.

“In fact between 1997 and 2000 the National Endowment for Democracy and US government may have accomplished what NATO’s 37,000 bombing sorties had been unable to do: oust Milosevic, replace him with their favoured candidate Vojislav Kostunica and promote a neoliberal vision for Serbia,” independent scholar Michael Barker wrote for Z Magazine. “In much the same way as corporate front groups and astroturf groups recruit genuinely committed supporters, strategically useful social movements can potentially dominate civil society when provided with the right resources (massive financial and professional backing).”

Otpor! was so successful that it was ushered into Ukraine to help manufacture regime change there in 2004, using the template applied originally in Serbia with $65 million in cash from the U.S. government.

"We trained them in how to set up an organization, how to open local chapters, how to create a 'brand,' how to create a logo, symbols, and key messages," an Otpor! activist told U.S.-funded media outlet Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty. "We trained them in how to identify the key weaknesses in society and what people's most pressing problems were—what might be a motivating factor for people, and above all young people, to go to the ballot box and in this way shape their own destiny."

The overthrow of Milošević was accompanied by U.S.-funding for the creation of a robust media apparatus in Serbia, and Popovic’s wife worked at one of the U.S.-funded radio and TV outlets as a journalist and anchor B92 from 2004-2009.

“By helping Radio B92 and linking it with a network of radio stations (ANEM), international assistance undermined the regime’s direct and indirect control over news and information,” a January 2004 policy paper released by USAID explained. “In Serbia, independent media supported by USAID and other international donors facilitated the regime change.”

Critics point out that what happened in Eastern Europe was regime change, not revolution in any real sense of the term.

“[They] were not revolutions at all; actually, they were little more than intra-elite power transfers,’” Portland State University Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, Gerald Sussman, explained in his book, “Branded Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe.”

“Modern tactics of electioneering were employed to cast regime change as populist, which took advantage of the unstable and vulnerable situations in those regions following the breakup of the Soviet Union,” he wrote.

Given Otpor!’s ties to powerful factions in the U.S. government, perhaps it’s unsurprising that Popovic felt comfortable giving a lecture to the Air Force Academy in May 2010, and attending a National Security Council meeting in December 2009.

A powerful individual who lobbied the U.S. government to give money to CANVAS early on was Michael McFaul, the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia for the State Department and someone who “worked closely with” Popovic while serving as a Senior Fellow at theright-wing Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Critics Chime In, Popovic Responds

Maryam Alkhawaja, director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said she had known Popovic for several years as an activist and had no knowledge of his outside relationships before the Wikileaks release of Stratfor emails.

“Srdja is someone I’ve met more than once. He was very supportive of the Bahrain revolution, supportive of the human rights fight,” Alkhawaja said in a phone interview. “When he gave me their information, that’s what surprised me the most.”

Alkhawaja said that at the time she wasn’t aware of what kind of firm Stratfor was, but she became immediately suspicious after reading Stratfor’s questions to her. She never corresponded with Stratfor due to what she felt was the suspicious nature of the emails coming from the firm.

“It was a series of really weird intelligence agency-like questions, given that they knew I was working in a human rights group. They were asking questions like, who’s funding the party coalition, how many members do they have, questions that even I didn’t know the answers to,” she said. “The fact that they asked questions like that, made me question the motive behind the email I received. Thats why I never responded.”

“Whenever we get emails like that or were contacted by people who seemed very interested in asking intelligence agency-like questions, we usually block them, because we know they probably work for the government,” Alkhawaja continued. “Journalists know the kind of work we do so they wouldn’t ask those questions in the first place. I just found the email very weird and thats why I actually never responded.”

In a Skype interview, one of Otpor!’s co-founders, who left the movement and asked to maintain his confidentiality, said his primary concern from the Wikileaks emails was that Popovic was giving out activists’ information to a third party without their prior consent.

An interview with Popovic sang a different tune about CANVAS. He stated, “We definitely wouldn’t jeopardize any of our activists' safety, so we always follow their lead and never expose them to anybody without their consent.”

Popovic also said CANVAS would speak to anyone and everyone—without any discrimination—about nonviolent direct action.

“CANVAS will present anywhere — to those committed to activism and nonviolent struggle, but also to those who still live in the Cold War era and think that tanks and planes and nukes shape the world, not the common people leading popular movements,” he said.

“If we can persuade any decision maker in the world, in Washington, Kremlin, Tel Aviv or Damascus that it is nonviolent struggle that they should embrace and respect – not foreign military intervention, or oppression over own population – we would do that.”

Yet, given Popovic’s track-record—and specifically, who buttered his bread during the long professional career he pursued in activism—critics say Popovic fit like a glove at Stratfor.

“A group of Serbs cannot lead a protest movement anywhere outside Serbia, but his techniques are nonetheless instrumental in helping achieve certain political aims,” Professor Sussman said in an interview. “He also serves as an intelligence gatherer in the process—of use to private and state intelligence agencies. That's what Stratfor saw as his use.”

This piece was published originally at Occupy.com.

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Friday, Nov 22, 2013, 12:48 pm  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Could Teller Organizing Help Halt Bank Abuses?

A man in a robot costume protests the new video teller ATMs that Bank of America began rolling out this fall. (Sarah Jaffe)  

Outside of the Bank of America branch at 95 Wall Street, a man in a robot costume did the Robot during yesterday's lunch hour. He danced along to the chants of the protesters walking in a circle outside of the branch. They were there to protest the new video teller ATMs that the company started rolling out this fall, which the new 95 Wall Street branch has recently installed.

As they sang, “Outsourcing ain't the way, community tellers are here to stay,” an employee who'd been hovering in the lobby with a tablet computer on his arm joined several more bankers in suits and a burly security guard.

The group of 30 or so protesters was from the Committee for Better Banks, a labor-community coalition that includes the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN), Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and the Communications Workers of America union (CWA).

The committee’s aim, according to Brigid Flaherty, organizing director at ALIGN, is “fighting to create a transparent and just banking system by improving the working conditions for employees in finance.” Yesterday, they were supporting Alex Shalom, a teller at the Bank of America on New York's 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue, as he attempted to deliver a letter to the bank's CEO asking for a meeting to discuss the bank's plan to shift to video tellers.

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Friday, Nov 15, 2013, 4:03 pm  ·  By The Sparrow Project

Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond’s Message to the World

Portrait of Jeremy Hammond by Molly Crabapple.   (Molly Crabapple)

Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). The Ceremonial Courtroom at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York was filled today with an outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers who see Jeremy Hammond’s actions as a form of civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.

The following is Hammond's final statement to the New York court:

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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, 12:29 pm  ·  By Nat Stein

Boulder Votes Yes On Clean Energy

Boulder residents advocate for clean energy in front of an Xcel Energy coal plant in 2011.   (Zane Selvanes, Creative Commons)

In recent years, politicos have been abuzz about demographic trends in Colorado that might yield a leftward political shift. And the state’s newly revamped election system, featuring expanded access to registration and a mail-in ballot for every voter, has certainly helped to boost voter turnout. So far, though, it's been a mixed bag. Last week's election, which included a number of local and state ballot initiatives, saw several progressive victories, as well as some setbacks: Coloradans decisively struck down a tax hike to fund public education but approved a hefty sales tax on their new recreational marijuana industry, while three cities passed fracking bans, and five northern counties voted to secede from the state.

But one city in particular deserves credit: In Boulder, residents voted overwhelmingly to move forward with their plan to create a publicly owned municipal utility—or “muni”—based on local, renewable sources.

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Thursday, Nov 7, 2013, 5:21 pm  ·  By Moyers & Company

15 Under-the-Radar Progressive Wins of Election 2013

Many unexpected progressive victories swept the 2013 elections.   (KCIvey/flickr/Creative Commons)

Progressives have plenty to celebrate after last night’s off-off-year elections. Some of those victories were national news: Bill de Blasio’s win in the New York mayoral race, Martin Walsh becoming the new pro-labor mayor of Boston and New Jersey voters both raising the Garden State’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour and amending the state’s constitution so it will rise with inflation in the future.

But there were other, smaller wins in local races that got considerably less attention. Many pitted grassroots activists against deep pocketed corporate interests. You can’t win them all, but here’s a roundup of some under-the-radar progressive victories of election 2013…

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Friday, Nov 1, 2013, 6:00 pm  ·  By Matthew Blake

Progressive Chicagoans Take Budget Hearings into Their Own Hands—No Emanuel Necessary

Chicagoans gave their feedback on Emanuel's new budget on Wednesday night before the Aldermen of the Chicago Progressive Caucus. (Chicago Progressive Reform Coalition Facebook)  

Many Chicago progressives might remember Richard M. Daley, the Windy City’s mayor between 1989 and 2011, as ruling with an iron fist, ramming through policies like the midnight demolition of an airport or the privatization of city parking meters with little public discussion.

But Daley did make one democratic gesture that his successor, Rahm Emanuel, has yanked. Throughout his tenure, Daley was present at community hearings where Chicago residents could directly question him and other city officials about the mayor’s annual proposed budget and sometimes other city matters.

Emanuel, meanwhile, did away with the practice last year, after holding hearings about his first budget. So there are no community hearings to review the $6.98 billion budget that Emanuel unveiled on October 23.

Even without an official hearing, however, Chicago residents are still eager to air their concerns. That much was clear on Wednesday night, when the seven of the eight aldermen who comprise the city council’s progressive caucus, the Chicago Progressive Reform Coalition, convened a packed meeting at the United Electrical Workers Hall in West Town to hear public comment on the budget before the city council’s vote on it next month.

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Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013, 5:03 pm  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Anti-Foreclosure Activists Put BlackRock in a Hard Place

NYCC activists raise a flag, and some heck, outside the headquarters of investment firm BlackRock on October 30, 2013 in New York City. (Sarah Jaffe)  

The pink granite on the floor and walls of BlackRock's New York City headquarters at 52nd Street and Park Avenue provided excellent acoustics for the protest chants that echoed through it Wednesday afternoon, as members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and the Home Defenders League took the investment management company to task for suing Richmond, Calif. after the city pledged to use eminent domain to save its residents from foreclosures.

 “A lot of these companies try to hide under cover of darkness,” Skipp Roseboro, one of the NYCC members at the action, told In These Times. “We're trying to call attention to their actions.” 

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Friday, Oct 18, 2013, 12:29 pm  ·  By Colin Kinniburgh

And the World Food Prize Goes to . . . Monsanto?

“We’re all being affected by this system of neoliberal capitalism . . . and we must organize in our aspirations, in our visions, and in our hearts to begin to create a world we can all thrive in,” said Blain Snipstal, master of ceremonies at the Food Sovereignty Prize prize event. (Tony Saddler)  

Hell no, GMO! Monsanto has got to go!

This was the message uniting protesters in over four hundred cities around the world last Saturday as they took part in the second global March on Monsanto. Spread out across more than fifty countries, the protests were mostly coordinated by local groups and even individuals, with a minimum of centralized planning. Their common appeal is testament to growing discontent with a food system that is marginalizing small farmers and laying waste to the most elemental principles of sustainability while enriching an elite few.

Word of this discontent seems not to have reached policy elites, however, who yesterday awarded this year’s World Food Prize to scientists from Monsanto and Syngenta—the biotechnology giants now infamous for their patented cocktails of genetically modified (GM) seeds, pesticides, and herbicides—precisely for their “pioneering” work in GMO research and advocacy. 

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