Archive | August 17, 2015

Artist Melts 1,527 Guns and Turns Them into Shovels for Planting Trees*

Artist Melts 1,527 Guns and Turns Them into Shovels for Planting Trees*

Credit: Pedro Reyes

Gun control is a touchy subject – and for good reason. Existing solely to wound or kill, they are a dangerous weapon, one that if not employed for reasons of necessity, may harshly rip families apart.

In Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, many people know the devastating consequences these weapons can contribute to. That’s where creative activist Pedro Reyes comes in.

Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective.

With this unique perception, he transforms things people see as broken and models them in a new way.

Concerning guns, he felt that something positive could be transformed from their matter, and, therefore, started a campaign asking residents to hand over their guns in exchange for a coupon they could use to buy electronics or household appliances.

Credit: Pedro Reyes


What he did next will inspire you… 

After Pedro collected 1,527 guns for the project, Palas pro Pistolas, he had them melted down and transformed into 1,527 shovel heads.

These new shovels were then distributed to art institutions and public schools, where people in the community are now using them to plant a minimum of 1,527 trees.

“If something is dying, becoming rotten and smelly, I think there is a chance to make a compost in which this vast catalogue of solutions can be mixed in an entirely new way,” he told BOMB Magazine. In Palas por Pistolas he was aiming to show “how an agent of death can become an agent of life.”

It’s interesting to note that 40% of all the guns Reyes collected were automatics of military calibre. After the collection, they all were transported to a military base and publicly smashed with a steamroller. Then, they were melted and recycled into shovels with wooden handles. Now they exist solely for the purpose of planting trees and creating life!

Credit: Pedro Reyes

Some of the shovels have even made their way to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Francisco Art Institute, Maison Rouge in Paris and other locations around the world.

A shovel, like a gun, can be used for a productive purpose or a hateful one. But with inspired intent, may these tools always be utilized for the purpose of optimizing land and creating space for something new to flourish.


Related Topics:

An Awakened Life: Trials and Tribulations*

The Igbo’s Traditional View on the Sanctity of Life*

Teacher Saves Student’s Life with his Own Kidney*

Discovering the Meaning of Life on the Underground

Finding Esoteric Meaning in Everyday Life

Indigenous Activists Chase McCain off the Navajo Land he intends to Mine*

Indigenous Activists Chase McCain off the Navajo Land he intends to Mine*

By Derrick Broze

On Friday, August 14, Arizona Senator John McCain was confronted several times by Native activists and elders while visiting the Navajo Nation. McCain and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey were meeting with the Navajo at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock for an event honoring the Navajo Code Talkers of World War 2.

The governor and senator were also meeting with local Navajo officials to discuss their concerns about a new proposal regarding the Little Colorado River rights. Navajo Nation President Russell Begay told the Navajo Times that water was going to be a part of the talks.

We’re going to talk about it,” he told the Times. “The message we want to convey to Arizona is a discussion. We want to begin dialogue on securing our claim.

McCain has recently received criticism for his role in passing the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange bill as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The law allows for the sale of the Oak Flat campground to international mining company, Rio Tinto. Oak Flat is historically important to the San Carlos Apache. MintPress News recently wrote:

“The Apache Stronghold formed in December in response to a last-minute legislative provision included in the the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The provision at issue in the annual Defense Department funding bill grants Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of Australian-English mining giant Rio Tinto, a 2,400-acre land parcel which includes parts of the Tonto National Forest, protected national forest in Arizona where it will create the continent’s largest copper mine.

Some of those lands are considered sacred by multiple Native American communities, including the Oak Flat campground. The area is not recognized as part of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, but it has historically been used by the Apache for trading purposes and spiritual ceremonies.”

While McCain met with Ducey and the Navajo nation, activists with the Apache Stronghold — and other groups and nations — rallied outside the museum, holding signs that read “McCain = Indian Killer” and “McCain’s Not Welcome Here.” Eventually, the activists made their way inside the building, locking arms and chanting, “Water is life!

Inside the museum, John McCain was rubbing elbows with Navajo leaders and snapping photos with the community. One person decided to take an opportunity to confront John McCain with a message about Oak Flat. That person was Adriano Tsinigine. Tsinigine, a high school senior carrying a “Protect Oak Flat” card, walked up to McCain for a picture. Tsinigine told the Phoenix New Times about his experience:

“‘I pulled out my [Protect] Oak Flat card,’ he says. When McCain noticed it, ‘He took it, looked at it, and threw it back at me. How disrespectful to me and to the Apache people. I fully respect McCain as a veteran . . . and as a POW and for sacrificing [what could have been] his life, but I do not respect him as a U.S. senator. As an elected official, he should listen to all of the voices of people, [even] the people who are protesting against him.’”

Senator McCain would later be interviewed about the Oak flat controversy.

Historians have attested to the facts that Oak Flat is not anything to do with sacred grounds,” he told 12 News.Several historians have attested to that. I respect people’s right to disagree.”

As McCain attempted a backdoor exit, the activists chanted in the hallway with their arms linked. Once they noticed McCain’s convoy making an escape, the group began chasing on foot. They were temporarily blocked by law enforcement but eventually made their way out of the building, chasing the cars as they exited the Navajo nation.

Once news reports began circulating that John McCain was chased off Navajo land, the senator’s office released a response to the Phoenix New Times:

“Senator McCain was honoured to be invited by the Navajo Nation to meet with tribal and community leaders and to speak at the celebration of the Navajo Code Talkers on Friday. It was a great visit and he received a very warm reception from the Navajo community in Window Rock. He certainly wasn’t ‘chased off’ the reservation – this small group of young protesters had no practical impact on his productive meetings with top tribal leaders on a range of key issues, including the EPA’s recent Gold King Mine spill which threatens to contaminate the Navajo Nation’s water supply.”

Despite the senator’s office denying that the protesters had any “practical impact” on his meeting, it is clear that a new community of Native activists is on the rise. This is only the latest in the re-emergence of an active resistance to the colonization of Native peoples and First Nations.


Related Topics:

U.S. Gov’t Seizing Sacred Lands of Native Americans*

Government Sells Native Sacred Land to Mining Company*

Three Million Gallons of Mining Wastewater Spilt on Navaho Land*

Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

Evoking the Wrath of Nature*

Egypt Adopts Controversial Anti-Terrorism Law*

Egypt Adopts Controversial Anti-Terrorism Law*

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has approved an anti-terrorism law that sets up special courts and provides protections to its enforcers.

The controversial law, published in the government’s official gazette on Sunday, sets a minimum fine of 200,000 pounds (about $25,000) and a maximum of 500,000 pounds for anyone who strays from government statements in publishing or spreading “false” reports on attacks or security operations against armed fighters.

Critics say the steep fines may shut down smaller newspapers, and deter larger ones from independently reporting on attacks and operations against armed fighters.

It also shields those applying it, such as the military and police, from legal ramifications for the proportionate use of force “in performing their duties.” The law also seeks prison terms for those found guilty of “inciting, or prepared to incite, directly or indirectly, a terrorist act”.

Dalia Fahmy, an assistant professor at Long Island University and a member of the Egyptian Rule of Law Association, told Al Jazeera that any media “that defies the national narrative, will be fined”.

The law here is a system that is not protecting the citizenry, but rather protecting the state … it is becoming indicative of the consolidation of power in the hands of the executive,” Fahmy said from New York.

Sisi had promised a tougher legal system in July, after a car bomb attack that killed the top public prosecutor, the highest level state official to be killed in years.

Forming or leading a group deemed a “terrorist entity” by the government will be punishable by death or life in prison.

Membership in such a group will carry up to 10 years in jail.

Financing “terrorist groups” will also carry a penalty of life in prison, which in Egypt is 25 years. Inciting violence, which includes “promoting ideas that call for violence” will lead to between five and seven years in jail, as will creating or using websites that spread such ideas

Journalists will be fined for contradicting the authorities’ version of any “terrorist” attack.

Three journalists had already been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for “defaming” the country and supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The retrial of three Al Jazeera journalists – Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste – was adjourned for a tenth time in Egypt on August 2.

Egypt is facing an increasing violence in North Sinai, where one armed group has pledged allegiance to ISIL . Cairo and other cities have also witnessed attacks.

Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death in mass trials since Sisi, a former army chief, overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Many of them have won retrials, and Morsi himself, sentenced to death last June, has appealed his verdict.
At least 1,400 people, many of them supporters of Morsi, were killed in a crackdown on protests after his overthrow.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, once the most influential grassroots organisation in the country, has been blacklisted as a “terrorist” organisation.

Though criticised by rights activists, the law has met support from Sisi’s many supporters who demand a firm hand to restore stability in the country of 87 million people.


Related Topics:

The Sinai Portrayed by Egyptian Media is not Sinai*

Israel Considers Full Annexation of Sinai*

Egypt: Israel to Support Sisi’s Regime*

In Their Own Words: Egypt’s Young Revolutionaries Behind Bars*

Clinton Emails Reveals Egyptian Special Forces Role in the Destruction of Libya*

South African Lawyers Call for Arrest of Egypt’s Sisi*

Four Fates for Egypt*

Egypt Clamps Down On Ramadhan Ritual*

The U.S. No Longer Has Any Strategic Grain Reserves*

The U.S. No Longer Has Any Strategic Grain Reserves*

Curious how the last reserves were depleted the same year GM food exports were at its height, and the beginning of the global economic collapse…

By Michael Snyder

Once upon a time, it was popular to say that the U.S. government only had enough wheat stored up to provide everyone in America with half a loaf of bread.  But that is not true anymore.  Recently, I discovered that the U.S. does not have any strategic grain reserves left at all.




As you will see below, the USDA liquidated the remaining reserves back in 2008.  So if a major food crisis hit this country, our government would have nothing to give us.  Of course the federal government could always go out and try to buy or seize food to feed the population during a major emergency, but that wouldn’t actually increase the total amount of food that was available.  Instead, it would just give the government more power over who gets it.

The U.S. strategic grain reserve was initially created during the days of the Great Depression.  Back then, the wisdom of storing up food for hard times was self-evident.  Unfortunately, over time interest in this program faded, and at this point there is no strategic grain reserve in the United States at all.  The following comes from the Los Angeles Times

The modern concept of a strategic grain reserve was first proposed in the 1930s by Wall Street legend Benjamin Graham. Graham’s idea hinged on the clever management of buffer stocks of grain to tame our daily bread’s tendencies toward boom and bust. When grain prices rose above a threshold, supplies could be increased by bringing reserves to the market — which, in turn, would dampen prices. And when the price of grain went into free-fall and farmers edged toward bankruptcy, the need to fill the depleted reserve would increase the demand for corn and wheat, which would prop up the price of grain.

Following Graham’s theory, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a grain reserve that helped rally the price of wheat and saved American farms during the Depression. In the inflationary 1970s, the USDA revamped FDR’s program into the Farmer-Owned Grain Reserve, which encouraged farmers to store grain in government facilities by offering low-cost and even no-interest loans and reimbursement to cover the storage costs. But over the next quarter of a century the dogma of deregulated global markets came to dominate American politics, and the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act abolished our national system of holding grain in reserve.

As for all that wheat held in storage, it became part of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, a food bank and global charity under the authority of the secretary of Agriculture. The stores were gradually depleted until 2008, when the USDA decided to convert all of what was left into its dollar equivalent. And so the grain that once stabilized prices for farmers, bakers and American consumers ended up as a number on a spreadsheet in the Department of Agriculture.

Of course if there are no major national emergencies of any kind and life just continues on normally for decades to come, this will not be an issue.

But what if something does happen?

Right now, we are already witnessing all sorts of “mini food cataclysms”.  For instance, bees just continue to die in unprecedented numbers all over the globe.  During the most recent year, U.S. beekeepers lost approximately 40 percent of their colonies

Widespread deaths among bees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, were first reported about a decade ago, but the problem has not diminished and may have been especially bad recently.

Beekeepers across the United States lost roughly 40 percent of their colonies from April 2014 to April 2015, according to an annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership and Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Another cataclysm is happening with bananas.  In fact, it is being reported that the specific type of banana that we eat right now is in danger of being wiped off the face of the globe

Bananas are in big trouble. While the beloved fruit remains as popular as ever, its crops across the world have been hit with an infectious fungus and the damage is irreparable.

The Cavendish species of banana, which was introduced in 1965, is currently the primary banana export in the world. And it’s being completely ruined by Tropical Race 4, a fungal disease that began in Malaysia in 1990 and has since spread to Southeast Asia, Australia, and finally Africa in 2013.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time a fungus has wiped out an entire species of the bright yellow fruit. By 1965, the Gros Michel species of banana—which lasted longer, were more resilient, and didn’t require artificial ripening—was eradicated after what was called the Panama disease, a different strain of a similar fungal disease wiped out the world’s commercial banana plantations.

In addition, the recent bird flu epidemic was responsible for the deaths of 48 million turkeys and chickens.  This has driven egg prices through the roof

U.S. egg prices continued their upward climb following the most devastating outbreak of bird flu in decades, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report this week.

Prices of large Grade A eggs delivered to store doors in the Midwest Regional area hit a range of $2.73 to $2.81 per dozen, the report showed.

Indianapolis Business Journal notes this is the most expensive eggs have been, according to data that stretches back to 2000.

More than 48 million birds have been affected since avian flu first was spotted in the U.S. in December.

And of course there are many, many more examples of significant problems that are hitting our food supply.  The following short list comes from one of my previous articles

-More than 40 percent of our fresh produce comes from the state of California, but thanks to the worst multi-year drought in the history of the state much of the region is turning back into a desert.

-Also due to the persistent drought, the size of the U.S. cattle herd is now as small as it was during the 1950s, and the price of beef has doubled since the last recession.

-Over the past few years, something called “porcine epidemic diarrhoea” has wiped out approximately 10 percent of the entire pig population in the United States.

-Just off the west coast of the United States, a wide variety of sea creatures are dying in unprecedented numbers.  For example, the sardine population along the west coast has dropped by a staggering 91 percent just since 2007.

-Down in Florida, citrus greening disease is absolutely crushing the citrus industry.  Crops just keep on getting smaller year after year.

Are you starting to see what I am talking about?

In many years, the world already eats more food than it produces.  We don’t have much room for error, and there are some countries that are already experiencing a full-blown food crisis.  The nation of Guatemala is one of them

Nearly one million people in Guatemala are struggling to feed themselves as poor rainfall has led to drought and shrunken harvests, worsening hunger among the poor, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

Linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon, this year’s drought has hit subsistence farmers living in Central America’s “dry corridor” that runs through parts of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, hard.

“In Guatemala, 170,000 families, approximately 900,000 people, have no food reserves left. This is the third consecutive year they have been hit by drought,” Diego Recalde, head of FAO in Guatemala, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In recent articles, I have also mentioned the growing food crisis in Venezuela.  Things have gotten so bad that soldiers dressed in riot gear are now policing supermarkets

Soldiers with riot shields, tear gas canisters, and rifles patrol lines in Maracaibo, a major city in the northwest.

Scarcity is particularly acute here because smugglers — taking advantage of the leftist government’s policy of fixing prices on some goods — buy products to sell for profit in nearby Colombia.

“We have to maintain control otherwise there would be chaos,” said Lieutenant Carlos Barrera, 21, pushing back crowds at one supermarket.

As you read this, intense food shortages are also affecting Syria, the Soloman Islands, Yemen, Zimbabwe, and several nations in southern Africa.

Just because you may live in a “wealthy western nation” does not mean that this will not impact you someday as well.

In fact, a major study was just released that came to the conclusion that global “food shocks” are going to become much more common in the years ahead.  The following comes from the Guardian

The likelihood of such a shock, where production of the world’s four major commodity crops – maize, soybean, wheat and rice – falls by 5-7%, is currently once-in-a-century. But such an event will occur every 30 years or more by 2040, according to the study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience.

Such a shortfall in production could leave people in developing countries in “an almost untenable position”, with the US and the UK “very much exposed” to the resulting instability and conflict, said co-author Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House.

Sadly, I believe that things are going to turn out to be far worse than even that report is projecting.

I am convinced that we are moving into a time when increasing volcanic activity, shifting weather patterns, geopolitical instability and severe economic problems are going to create critical shortages of food all over the planet.

So what will you and your family do when those times arrive?


Related Topics:

New York Food Banks Running out of Food*

Americans Have $11.85 Trillion in Household Debt*

Curse on the American Food Supply*

Evidence Proving California Drought Was Geo-engineered*

Criminalizing Healthy Food Paves Way for TPP*

Falling Profits and Desperate Junk Food Companies Make Fun of Healthy Diets*

40% Of Russia’s Food Is Grown from Dacha Gardens*

U.K. Gov’t Plotting against the Rising Opposition*

U.K. Gov’t Plotting against the Rising Opposition*

A new report says the conservative British government seeks to undermine the opposition Labour by eliciting a forced stance on the country’s critical issues from its next leader.

The Sunday Times report says British Prime Minister David Cameron has drawn up a plan to exploit Labour’s current turmoil by forcing its new leader to reveal a stance on unions, immigration, the economy and welfare within weeks of taking charge.

Downing Street will hold a vote on tough new strike laws as soon as the Labour leader is elected on September 12, ensuring the party’s first “loony left” move is embracing its trade union paymasters, the report added.

Senior Labour figures reportedly revealed on Sunday that leadership contenders Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham last week rejected a secret proposal for one of them to be a unity candidate to defeat Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner and principal target of Tory tactics.

Under the Conservative plan, the new Labour leader will be obliged to decide in the first week whether to oppose Treasury chief George Osborne’s new fiscal responsibility charter, which will enshrine in law the need for a budget surplus.

Now Rodney Shakespeare, professor of economics, says the conservative party believes “it represents the only possible, political solutions for the situation.”

He says the reality on the ground demonstrates otherwise as the mainstream political current in Britain remain large the same regardless of the party affiliations.

His comments follow latest opinion polls by different media that show varying levels of support for Corbyn.

The results of a poll published by RT shows 28 percent said the Islington MP would make the best leader of Labour. Andy Burnham was second with 25% and Yvette Cooper who held ministerial portfolios under ex-PM Tony Blair received 15 while backbench MP Liz Kendall got 12%.


Related Topics:

Corbyn has War Criminal Blair Running Scared*