Introducing: the Recycled Minds Library!

A few months ago, we came across the new document hosting site, Scribd. We found that the site could fill a need that we had here at recycled minds (RM) - a way to link pdf files to our posts. Promptly we created an account, and uploaded a few documents, and have been doing so since (you may have come across a couple of these links in past posts). There is only a small collection right now, but we have a number of interesting articles ranging in topics from the food crisis to human rights, and from the Lakotah declaration of independence to nutrient levels of organic foods. We'll continue to find and collect articles from across the web and elsewhere that relate to the many topics that we cover here at RM. Our initial intention was to wait until we had about 20 articles up, but we have had over 1000 hits on our collection so far, so we decided to share it our general readers as well. We hope you find the pieces interesting, and remember to check back frequently as we continue to grow the library.

Visit our virtual library here. And remember - forward anything of interest - whether it be something for the blog, or something for the library. We love feedback, input, and interest in what we're doing here.

Thanks for reading!

Seeds of Change: GM Giant Monsanto in the News

The agribusiness giant Monsanto released press releases this week announcing the regulatory approval of its new Roundup Ready 2 Yield Soybeans in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. They have already been approved in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines.
"These regulatory decisions by Mexico and Europe represent significant steps forward in delivering Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans to our customers," according to Brett Begemann, Monsanto's executive vice president of global commercial business. "Farmers have used Roundup Ready® soybeans for more than 10 years to achieve unsurpassed weed control. Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans have increased yields, and will advance farmers' ability to meet the world's growing food, feed and fuel needs."

These second generation soybeans are projected to have a yield advantage of nine to 11 percent over its predecessor, Roundup Ready Yield soybeans. Read full press release here.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deregulated new insecticide technology by Monsanto.

In response to recent reports from Monsanto about their upcoming "special protection regime for maize" that will allow them to "start experiments with genetically modified maize," Silvia Ribeiro writes, "What a historic irony that such a regime, instead of protecting maize and its peoples, is yet another gift from the government to multinational companies that have privatized
seeds, the key to the whole food network and rural families' legacy to humanity. To cap it all: the seeds are less productive!"
"After analyzing yields in the U.S. cereal grain belt over the last three years, Kansas University published a study in April 2008. It showed that the productivity of GM crops (soya, maize, cotton and canola) was less than in the era prior to the introduction of GM seeds. Soya showed a drop in yield of up to 10%."

Read Ribeiro's article, "Mexico: Want to cut food production? Sow GM seed!" from Rebelion on ZNet. Ribeiro is a researcher with the Erosion, Technology and Concentration Group.


The Decline of News in the "Post-Literate" World

One of the more obvious manifestations of global and local forces plays out daily in print newspapers. And, like other arenas dealing with these sometimes opposing forces, the print newspaper is facing challenges. Nowhere is this more evident than in the local newspaper in particular. The vast array of news outlets online---from the web versions of larger newspapers to the opinionated blogs---brings these local papers closer and closer to the brink of extinction. Add to this the enormous decline in advertising revenue due to car sales and the mortgage crisis, and many papers will probably go under.

An insightful recent article from delves into the "decline of newspapers" in general, arguing that this decline "is about the rise of the corporate state, the loss of civic and public responsibility on the part of much of our entrepreneurial class and the intellectual poverty of our post-literate world, a world where information is conveyed primarily through rapidly moving images rather than print." It makes several interesting points, one which hits particularly close to home:
Those who rely on the Internet gravitate to sites that reinforce their beliefs. The filtering of information through an ideological lens, which is destroying television journalism, defies the purpose of reporting. Journalism is about transmitting information that doesn't care what you think. Reporting challenges, countermands or destabilizes established beliefs. Reporting, which is time-consuming and often expensive, begins from the premise that there are things we need to know and understand, even if these things make us uncomfortable. If we lose this ethic we are left with pandering, packaging and partisanship. We are left awash in a sea of competing propaganda. Bloggers, unlike most established reporters, rarely admit errors. They cannot get fired. Facts, for many bloggers, are interchangeable with opinions.
Without disagreeing with the article's concern over the media circus, nor lessening the plight of the newspaper industry, it is important not to fall into the same dualistic argument that has plagued journalism since the turn of the last century. "High" journalism has always touted its superiority by claiming to be objective. At the turn of the last century, it scoffed at Yellow Journalism and sensationalism; at the same time, literary realists turned up their noses at Sob Sisters and sentimentality. Today, "high" journalism rails against blogs, OMG, TMZ, and the like. This conflict is, in a sense, as old as the printed word. The "masses" have always been "intellectually impoverished" from the perspective of intellectuals.

The problem, it seems, lies more in the economic and political forces that are downsizing the variety of news outlets available. Objectivity is a myth. If nothing else, people are writing.

The Food Crisis through the lens of Haitian Rice

I was forwarded this video from the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition. It's a 17 minute documentary that details the effects of U.S. government subsidies for their farmers combined with the forced reduction of import tariffs on foods in "southern" countries like Haiti. The results of these policies are proving to be devastating for those living in Haiti, as food prices continue to rise around the globe. Here's a short synopsis of the film provided in the email:
Canadian, social democratic documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis turns his attention to Haiti and the complicated, yet brutally simple world of trade, politics and control. When the IMF forced Haiti to reduce import duties on rice from 50 per cent to 3 per cent, the results were easy to predict. The Haitian rice industry was decimated, with the winners being American rice farmers. Their obscene subsidies were reaffirmed in the recently passed Farm Bill. Today Haitian rice is becoming a rarity in the marketplace, largely thanks to this hoax of free trade and the blind belief that markets must not be distorted, at least by countries of the South. This documentary also profiles the group SODA Haiti, who are dedicated to empowering poor Haitians to confront and solve their problems through collective action. Their struggle is uphill as they confront powerful forces within Haiti and outside.

Graffiti Animation

Graffiti comes to life right before your eyes. Thought we would share something a bit different this time around. Check out this short film by the artist BLU, created and filmed in Argentina, titled MUTO. Visit the artist's website to see more...

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Release or Rescue: Colombia, the U.S. and the FARC

The fantastic semantic dance that is the official story of Ingrid Betancourt's rescue from the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) positions Colombia's government in a celebratory light, with the U.S. sharing the spotlight.
To gauge the success of the storyline, one has only to look at the movie that is supposedly in the works by Colombian director Simon Brand and Hollywood producers.
Nevertheless, almost immediately after the first story broke, other versions and commentaries emerged, unconvinced by the plot's twists and turns and skeptical of the character development.
Numerous articles have sought to unravel the threads of politics, sensationalism, and truth.
Two days after the "rescue," The Times Online blatantly asked, "Brilliant or a sham?," revealing a report that said the U.S. and Colombia paid $20m for the hostages release, and the operation was staged to cover it up.
LASolidarity posted an article from Rebelion stating the FARC initiated contact with Colombian officials to release the 14 hostages.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! details the Uribe regime's harsh policies toward Colombians, arguing that a celebration of Betancourt's release should not be confused with a celebration of the Colombian government.
Goodman also points out John McCain's connection to Colombia. McCain was there the day FARC released Betancourt and the other hostages. A recent fundraising event for him was funded by the former CEO of Chiquita who once funded the notorious right-wing military group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Furthermore, before resigning to work full-time for McCain, Charlie Black, McCain's top advisor, lobbied for Occidental Petroleum. Occidental has been linked to controversial military operations in Colombia, including one in which they supplied transportation, fuel, and facilities to the military in order to bomb the village of Santa Domingo.
Colombia is the third largest recipient of U.S. aid, following Israel and Egypt.

10,000 Hits!!!

July 7, 2008
It has taken three years, but we have kept plugging away (blogging away actually), and we hit 10,000 visitors sometime on the 5th of July (hence the fireworks pic...). We have been through a few ups and downs here at Recycled Minds, but I think we finally have a fairly regular posting scheme, a great new logo/design, and a bunch of apparently regular readers. Hopefully we can continue to grow and evolve, and we hope you all stay on to grow and evolve with us!

Thanks so much to all of our readers. Whether you like our writing, our topics, or even just our pictures and videos, your visits are welcomed, and we thank you for taking the time to check us out.

I caught this meme out there in the blog world, and thought I would help propagate its existence. In honor of 10,000 hits, I offer our first post, written and posted on April 24, 2005:

Sunday, April 24, 2005


it's nice to see that people somewhere in the world still want to read...
...i wonder what text the current administration in the US would give out? Oh, wait... they wouldn't make any money on that scheme...
It was short and sweet, and certainly reminds us of how we have grown as a blog. We offer our thanks again, and hope to continue to promote interest not only in Recycled Minds, but in the world around us.

Reworking the State of Independence

"When organized opposition emerges, such regimes often resort to a strategy of disinformation and intimidation to maintain their grip on power, whether the battleground is a nation or – closer to home – a national union.” (Steve Early, TruthOut)

Let's expand the usual connotation of independence today, and turn to the workers around the world who continue to fight for labor-related rights. The Guerrilla News Network's "Labor News Roundup," compiled by Nathan Coe, offers a rousing sampling of efforts undertaken across the globe.
  • Labor rights advocates have called for a Global Day of Action to protest the firing of pro-union Starbucks employees, a pattern that has developed since 2004, the start of IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in 2004. The Grand Rapids Starbucks Union will be joined by The Union of Commercial and Hotel workers CNT-AIT in Sevilla, Spain on July 5 to protest the coffee giant's practices.
  • June 21 saw a three-day strike by Philadelphia, PA-based Aramak employees who have been working without a contract since October.
  • Dismissed from his company for taking part in union action in 2006, Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, a member of ITF’s Iranian bus affiliate, was arrested June 25. The ITUC and the International Transport Workers' Federation are expressing "acute concern" over this arrest and detaining.
  • 5,000 striking workers at Haft–Tapeh sugar cane Company in the Khuzestan province of Iran have brought the whole company to a standstill since the strike began in May.
  • For the first time, the US Congress addresses transgender workers after the Library of Congress retracted David Schroer's job offer upon his transgender disclosure.
  • The Korean Metal Workers' Union, which represents 230 companies, agreed to a work stoppage after mass street rallies protesting the beef import deal between the US and Seoul and working conditions.
And there's more! Read the full article here for more labor-related news from France, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Poland, Vietnam, China, Spain, and Canada.

Image: Infoshop News