A Non-GMO Email
June 13, 2019
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
“The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
You Have No Voice If You’re Choking On Tear Gas
Massive protests that started in Hong Kong last Sunday continued without abatement Wednesday, but this time the crowds were much younger. “Today they are students and they are people in their 20s and they are angry — they came ready for a fight,” said a reporter.
Lawmakers had been scheduled to debate chief executive Carrie Lam’s controversial extradition bill, discussed in Tuesday’s Daily Pnut. But demonstrators blocked the city’s Legislative Council and forced the debate to be delayed. Riot Police pelted protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons, injuring at least 72 people. A Chinese newspaper described scenes of “all-out chaos,” and called the protests “a display of defiance against China’s Communist leaders.”
Hong Kong’s legislature is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority, and Lam owes her position to mainland Chinese authorities. Opponents of the bill say allowing people accused in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial would violate the “one country, two systems” framework guaranteed when British rule ended in 1997. Unfortunately, despite assurances enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law — that it would enjoy a “high-degree of autonomy” after the handover — Beijing has steadily chipped away at such guarantees and reneged on a promise to allow open legislative elections.
For young demonstrators who have grown up under the 22-year-old law, relinquishing what freedom they have is an anathema. One recent high school graduate said: “[China’s Communist Party leaders] do not understand that Hong Kongers do not want to obey them…. we have tried the taste of freedom and we will never obey them or be controlled by them.”
Beyond Meat Is Beyond Successful
- Global consultancy AT Kearney says by 2040 most of the meat people eat will not come from dead animals — 60 percent will be grown in vats or be plant-based products that taste like meat.
- Dabble in the stock market? If you’d bought Beyond Meat one month ago, you’d have paid $66 a share. Wednesday it closed at $142 a share. The conventional meat industry raises billions of animals and turns over $1 trillion a year. However, recent scientific studies have illuminated its huge environmental impacts, from the emissions driving the climate crisis, to deforestation and wild habitats destroyed for farmland, to the pollution of rivers and oceans.
- “The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil,” the report says. “With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share.” (Guardian)
A Less Exciting Ending To ‘Free Willy’
- It took nearly four years, but both houses of Canada’s Parliament have finally passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. The legislation bans all marine animals from being bred or kept in captivity, with exceptions for those already held, or those being kept during rehabilitation from injury or for licensed scientific research.
- Violations are punishable by fines of up to $200,000 Canadian dollars (about $150,000). The move was hailed by animal rights activists who have long argued that containing marine mammals and training them to entertain amounts to cruelty. (NPR)
Fly Me To Our Doom, Let Me Tear The World Apart
- Filed under the heading ‘Monumentally Bad Juju’ is the Peruvian government’s insistence on building its gleaming new multi-billion dollar airport at the mouth of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, gateway to its historical architectural complex and the Citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Thousands upon thousands of archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and conservationists believe the airport poses an irreversible threat to the already fragile ruins and unspoiled landscape of surrounding rural communities.
- Despite the outrage over the potential impact of a massive state-of-the-art international facility on the ancient site, construction is moving ahead on the new hub, which is expected to accommodate more than 78 million passengers a year. (NPR)
No More Trees Means No More We
- In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, including some of the world’s biggest consumer brands, pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2020, through the sustainable sourcing of four commodities most linked to forest destruction: soya, palm oil, paper and pulp, and cattle. But analysis by Greenpeace International estimates that by the start of 2020, an area of forest twice the size of the UK, some 123 million acres, will have been destroyed in the growing demand for and consumption of agricultural products.
- In its report, Countdown to Extinction, the international environmental organization says that in the decade since those promises were made, the area planted with soya in Brazil has increased by 45% and palm oil production in Indonesia has risen by 75 percent.
- Deforestation releases greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and destroy important habitat, threatening species with extinction. About 80 percent of global deforestation is caused by agricultural production, which is also the leading cause of habitat destruction. Soya is the second most significant driver of global deforestation, and 90 percent of soya produced globally is used for animal feed. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Earliest known signs of cannabis smoking unearthed in China: Incense burners found at 2,500-year-old cemetery suggest intentional use of to get high (Guardian)
- 5-Year-Old Dies In Uganda As Ebola Spreads From Democratic Republic Of The Congo (NPR)
- On Historic Visit To Iran, Japan’s Abe Hopes To Play Role Of Mediator With U.S. (NPR)
- Did manga change how the world sees Japan?: As the largest exhibition of manga outside of Japan opens at London’s British Museum, Christine Ro looks at how the visual narrative artform influenced the globe. (BBC)
- Saudi Arabia says Iran behind Houthi missile attack on airport: Foreign ministry threatens urgent reprisals to ‘deter Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militias’ (Guardian)
Trying To Make Sense Of The Citizenship Census Question
- The House Oversight Committee voted 24-15 Wednesday afternoon to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents about the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The vote came just hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield documents from the committee. Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan joined with committee Democrats to support the resolution, which includes citations for both civil and criminal contempt.
- The Commerce Department announced in 2018 that a citizenship question would be included in the upcoming 2020 census. The move sparked controversy and a high-stakes court battle as critics say that asking about citizenship status will lead to an inaccurate count, particularly in districts with a high minority or immigrant population. Census data serves as the basis for decisions about how to allocate federal resources and draw congressional districts. (WaPo, CNN)
- Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. in Its Own Russia Investigation (NYT, $)
- People Are Trying to Figure Out William Barr. He’s Busy Stockpiling Power. Is he the operator who spun the then-secret Mueller report? Or the straight shooter who later disclosed portions that were damaging to President Trump? (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- More Wildfires Bring Focus On How All That Smoke May Harm Firefighters (NPR)
- He Tried to Plug a Wasp Nest. He Ended Up Sparking California’s Biggest Wildfire. (NYT, $)
- Revealed: Mobil sought to fight environmental regulation, documents show: Oil giant looked to make tax-exempt donations to universities and civic groups in the early 1990s to promote the company’s interests (Guardian)
- As Students Clamor for More on Climate Change, Portland Heeds the Call (NYT, $)
Little Organic Non-GMO White Lies
- Can you really trust that food label to mean what you think it means? “Free-range” eggs, for example, probably came from hens that spent most or all of their lives indoors. What about “non-GMO.” Non-GMO means, of course, that the food wasn’t made from genetically modified crops.
- Corn, soybeans, and canola sugar beets, along with a few other crops, do have genetically modified versions. But as one food label expert points out, companies are now printing that non-GMO label on things like strawberries and mangoes, which are never genetically modified.
- “It’s primarily a market-driven label that big industry really loves,” she says. “Non-GMO crops are still conventionally grown, with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.” On the other hand, “organic” actually means that the food was grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. No wiggle room on that one — it’s enforced by law. (NPR)
- Why It Pays to Play Around: Play is so important that nature invented it long before it invented us. (Nautilus)
- The information arms race can’t be won, but we have to keep fighting (Aeon)
- Grocery store urges customers to rethink plastic with embarrassing bags: East West Market hopes humorous bags like ‘Wart Ointment Wholesale’ will persuade shoppers to shun single-use plastic bags (Guardian)
- Mystery of why arteries harden may have been solved, say scientists: Study finds calcium deposits are triggered by molecule produced by damaged cells (Guardian)
- Why Women, but Not Men, Are Judged for a Messy House: They’re still held to a higher social standard, which explains why they’re doing so much housework, studies show. (NYT, $)
“Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? Isn’t it such a relief to have somebody say that?” – Kurt Vonnegut
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU