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Pandora’s Lunchbox

In her new book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, business journalist Melanie Warner talks about the often disturbing processes behind many of the foods on our grocery stores shelves. Some 5,000 food additives go into our food (Warner 106). Only half of these have been studied for toxicity (Warner 105-111). Companies, she says, are no longer selling food but engineered foostuffs. With ingredients such as Potassium Bromate known to cause tumors in rats, and systems that turn a 7 hour cooking process into 15 second ordeals, convenience, marketing and food safety concerns have turned our modern food system into a nutrient devoid money making machine.

This is the first in a three-part Big Food series for Letters & Politics, a syndicated public affairs radio show out of Pacifica’s west coast station, KPFA 94.1 FM. This series investigates how the processed food industry came to dominate the American plate to become a top industry earning over one trillion in annual sales. The series digs into America’s food labs, food habits and food policy to detail how America became hooked on processed food.


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Voting, carpe diem style

Putin Fishing; (cc) photo by Flickr user PIX-JOCKEY (Roberto Rizzato)

“Some of the most suspicious results came in the north Caucus, where tallies showed that 99.5 per cent of Chechens and 91 per cent of Dagestanis voted for United Russia. More than 90 per cent of patients in mental hospitals did the same.”   December 6, Financial Times: “Moscow protesters accuse Putin’s party of securing power by fraud”

Today’s Moscow protests remind me of an essay written by Elena Gorokhova on Putin walking out of the Black Sea with two nearly intact ancient amphorae in his hands. Her vranyo, Russian for lying, alarm went off, she says. As did mine when I saw this Putin fishing photo set and Sunday’s election results. It seems like more  people are on to the vranyo than Elena expected.

From Russia With Lies” by Elena Gorokhova, October 21, 2011:
“But then it occurred to me that a great number of Putin’s constituents were born during or after Perestroika. They were never forced to march in an October Revolution Day parade. They didn’t grow up with only two major newspapers, The Truth and The News, or know the standard joke that there is no news in The Truth and no truth in The News. They never had an Aunt Polya to teach them about vranyo. While I envy this uncommunist generation, I do see one deficiency: They have lost the ability to detect a lie…. Did those young Russians who never learned about vranyo believe in the Putin who waded out of the sea, clutching history? Did they see him as a hero? The picture had everything to make our hearts flutter with patriotic pride: a strongman defying time and human limitations. My own heart warmed not to Putin but to the photograph’s Black Sea backdrop. It made me pine for my youth, for the Crimea and for blue-eyed Boris.”

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US policy alters deportation priorities

In a letter to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other senators who had requested that DHS consider deferring the removal of all DREAM Act eligible students, DHS announced that they would not categorically defer removal, but persons who were not high priority targets can request prosecutorial discretion on a case by case basis.

US Policy Alters Deportation Priorities

letters2wash Immigration amnesty, deportation, immigration, law The Department of Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration would make rules whereby 300,000 in deportation proceedings would be reviewed and where those without criminal records could stay. Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Council discusses the department’s new deportation priority changes.
Obama’s New, More Lenient Deportation Policy Could Cut Both Ways Politically #Hispanic #Latino #immigration
August 18, 2011
Obama Administration puts Band-Aid on immigration

It’s been a big week for immigration news. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday released a letter stating the Obama Administration would review the files of 300,000 undocumented immigrants and reevaluate the pending deportations of “low priority” cases or people who have not committed violent crimes.
U.S. Eases Policy On Deportations

The Obama administration decided it will, on a case-by-case basis, allow many illegal immigrants who face deportation to remain in the U.S., a move aimed at focusing enforcement efforts. Federal authorities will review individually the cases of some 300,000 illegal immigrants in deportation proceedings, a senior administration official said Thursday.
I applaud Obama’s bold decision to make #immigration enforcement more in line w/our nat’l security priorities #DREAMAct
August 18, 2011
National Day Laborer Organizing Network Response to President’s Speech
July 2, 2010
Regardless of Obama”s new immigration policy, I will continue to enforce all Federal and Arizona immigration laws. Nothing Changes!
August 19, 2011
National Community Advisory Report on ICE”s Failed “Secure Communities” Program via @ndlon
August 19, 2011
Judge orders #SComm docs to be turned over to migrant rights groups. Congrats to @ndlon & @newman_chris you guys rock!
August 19, 2011
Deportation Halted for Younger Immigrants

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration announced on Thursday that it would generally not deport or expel illegal immigrants who had come to the United States as young children and graduated from high school or served in the armed forces.
Relief for DreamActivists ->Fewer Youths to Be Deported in New Policy: #latism #cir #immigration
August 19, 2011
RT @changeLGBT: RT @chrisgeidner: #Immigration enforcement changes could stop deportations for same-sex partners:
August 19, 2011
RT @P4HR: Check out @DetentionWatch today which features PHR’s blog on #SComm #DWN #immigration
August 19, 2011
Immigration reform in August: why now? – CNN International #greencard #immigration
August 19, 2011
RT @SunitaPatel_ccr: RT: Court just ordered ICE ordered to produce #SComm FOIA docs by Sept. 13th and release of "Oct. 2 Mandatory Memo" by Tues. @theCCR @ndlon
August 18, 2011

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Unmodified: HAMP Fails People of Color in Foreclosure Crisis

Making Home Affordable is a key part of the Obama Administration’s effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. If you are struggling with your monthly mortgage payments or if you have already missed a payment, now is the time to take action and apply for HAMP the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). But what if taking action means butting up against a system that repeatedly loses your paperwork and often starts the foreclosure process without your knowing it?
Ana Romero is one of many Americans who anxiously awaits news about her loan modification application. Currently her home is set to be foreclosed on June 10th. In this segment she talks about the bureaucratic hoops she has had to go through in order to apply for a HAMP modification. Her story exemplifies some of the issues homeowners of color face when applying for loan modifications. Kevin Stein, Associate Director at CRC, provides HAMP loan modification context noting that people of color are often experiencing a harder time than other borrowers.
Unmodified was produced in 2011 for the Race Poverty and Environment Journal’s RPE Radio podcast.
Music: Kronos Quartet String Quartet #4

Photos: Irene Florez

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Recycling workers feel the strain

Recycling Bins at a recycling station. Photo by ThreadedThoughts, flickr, Creative Commons license

What is it like to work the recycling assembly line? At Waste Management’s Davis Street Recycling Center located near the Oakland Airport, roughly 80 workers sort through 3,000 tons of  waste per day. This includes smelly food scraps, aluminum, paper, and glass, which provide Oakland with valuable export commodities.

Isabel, an Oakland recycling center employee talks about her job and union contract with Waste Management, the nation’s largest waste services provider.  She and fellow co-workers are beginning to feel the pressure and strain as their contract expires later this month. She asks that Bay Area residents support center employees in organizing for better wages. To lend support, contact Oakland city council members and express support for recycling workers: OAKLANDNET.COM/GOVERNMENT/COUNCIL/CITY-OFFICIALS

Street level recycling bins. Photo by Tim-Tak, Flickr, Creative Commons license