Saturday, July 25, 2009

The best possible outcome of the Gates fiasco

Several mobile phonesWe shouldn't have to depend on the luck of having a kid with a cellphone around to catch police misconduct (or to document that there was no misconduct); it's time for all law enforcement to be monitored with "cop cams" that capture all their interactions with citizens. Image via Wikipedia

One simple suggestion, a generalization of the requirement that all police interrogations be videotaped that State Sen. Barack Obama managed to write into the Illinois statute books: build a cell-phone-type movie camera with sound into police headgear, and require that it be turned on at the beginning of every interaction with a civilian. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And in the cases where it's the civilian who acts aggressively, the videotape will help defend the cop against a false accusation of misconduct.
I've been making this same argument for years: we should no longer accept the idea that we can't supervise police conduct in the field -- after all, the police have long since decided to turn America into the surveillance state where the conduct of perfectly innocent people is scrutinized in detail with hundreds of thousands of recording devices and cameras, to say nothing of telephonic/internet spying.

Now is the time to say that the conduct of all law enforcement agents -- anyone having the power to detain and arrest -- must be monitored when they interact with the rest of us, so that we the people can determine for ourselves whether our agents, who obtain their power from us, are using it properly.

As police and prosecutors so often say to us, you won't mind if you have nothing to hide.

Salem should implement this quickly. After all, in these tight budget times, we can't afford to have to pay big-money police abuse settlements.
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Maybe the best quick read ever on the industrial phood nightmare

CAFO Near La Gloria, Mexico - DetailA phactory pharm -- funny, it doesn't look like the image on the packages. They NEVER show the gigantic manure lagoons. Image by SkyTruth via Flickr

A sample:

It is in the 1970s that Smithfield Foods revolutionizes hog production. "What we did in the pork industry is what Perdue and Tyson did in the poultry business," Joseph W. Luter III, chairman and chief executive of Smithfield, told the New York Times in 2000.

According to a Rolling Stone exposé, Smithfield "controls every stage of production, from the moment a hog is born until the day it passes through the slaughterhouse. [It] imposed a new kind of contract on farmers: The company would own the living hogs; the contractors would raise the pigs and be responsible for managing the hog shit and disposing of dead hogs. The system made it impossible for small hog farmers to survive -- those who could not handle thousands and thousands of pigs were driven out of business."

In the 1950s, there were 2.1 million hog farmers, with an average of 31 hogs each. As of 2007, there were 79,000 hog farmers left, averaging over 1,000 hogs each. A single Smithfield subsidiary in Utah holds a half-million hogs and produces more shit every day than all the residents of Manhattan.

Rolling Stone's stunning report describes the lakes of shit that surround pig factories as the color of Pepto Bismol because of the "interactions between the bacteria and blood and afterbirths and stillborn piglets and urine and excrement and chemicals and drugs."

Vegetarians who think they are unaffected by this toxic fecal frappe should think again: The sludge is often used to "fertilize" crops that end up on your table.

Beef, poultry and hog CAFOs could not exist without large-scale environmental devastation. Governments at every level exempt these operations from the laws and regulations covering air pollution, water pollution and solid-waste disposal. They are also largely free from proper bio-surveillance, that is, public monitoring to detect, observe and report on the outbreak of diseases.

Mike Davis, author of The Monster at Our Door, writes that scrutiny of the interface between human and animal diseases is "primitive, often nonexistent" because Smithfield, IBP and Tyson would have to spend money on surveillance and upgrade conditions at their hellish animal factories.

Read it all here. Then start growing some food, even just a single tomato or zucchini -- and help get hens legalized here in Salem.
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Great idea: Farming in boulevards!

I have seen photos of similar things in N. Europe, particularly in the Low Countries where land is very dear. Also I have seen similar things in Japan -- lush crops growing in small spaces in very urbanized areas.