“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.
Wednesday is Ladies’ Day
Maureen Dowd: Don’t Tread on Us
Hillary Clinton has fought for women’s rights around the world. But who would have dreamed that she would have to fight for them at home
“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” she told an adoring crowd at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center on Saturday. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.
“Yes,” she continued to applause, “it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world.”
As secretary of state, Clinton is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. But this was a moment pregnant with possibility, a titanic clash of the Inevitable (Hillary) and the Indefensible (Republican cavemen).
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Giving Dennis Kucinich His Due
A certain kind of politician is becoming a dwindling breed. I’m not thinking of the over-praised and frequently eulogized centrist, the kind who spends a career watering things down and gets lionized for having done so. I mean the bold, politically courageous people who make real the cliché, “Speak truth to power.” The ones who are, perhaps, a little too righteous, who don’t compromise easily, but who prove again and again a tendency to be correct. They are the ones who are harder to dismiss, no matter how much the pundits or corporate media try. They insert themselves into the national conversation, pushing their ideas and their vision into the debate.
Dennis Kucinich is one of those politicians. At least, he was. Last week, thanks in large part to Republican gerrymandering, he lost his bid for reelection. In his loss, the country loses something too. Whatever your view of Kucinich’s politics or style, he mattered a great deal.
Kucinich was never afraid to take the positions that should have been at the core of the Democratic party. He opposed the Patriot Act when few brave Democrats would join him. He was opposed to the Iraq war from the outset, whipping his colleagues against it, with the result that three-fifths of House Democrats voted against that immoral, illegal invasion. Once it began, he called on Congress to defund it, when few in his party were willing to go along. Despite almost no political support, he introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, accusing him (rightly, I believe) of lying to the American people to get us into the war in Iraq.
We’ve exported the worst of our food to developing countries and we’ve imported the best of their food — making poorer countries even more worse off.
It is hardly news that the United States faces epidemic health problems linked to poor diets. Nearly two out of every five Americans are obese. But according to a press release from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, “The West is now exporting diabetes and heart disease to developing countries, along with the processed foods that line the shelves of global supermarkets. By 2030, more than 5 million people will die each year before the age of 60 from non-communicable diseases linked to diets.”
De Schutter, whose work usually focuses on ending hunger, just published a new report saying, “The right to food cannot be reduced to a right not to starve. It is an inclusive right to an adequate diet providing all the nutritional elements an individual requires to live a healthy and active life, and the means to access them.” In other words, the right to a healthful diet must be included in the human right to food. And, as the unhealthy diets already common in the United States spread to poorer nations, so do the health problems associated with those diets. However, unlike wealthy nations, poorer nations are not equipped to deal with the health consequences via medicine, making preventable diet-related health problems more deadly.
Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of “Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It.” Oh, and a good friend.
Mareike Britten: Message to World Leaders: Fukushima is a Reminder; End the Threat of Nuclear Power
More than 50 organisations and individuals from around the world have joined forces with Greenpeace and called for investments in safe, renewable energy in order to end the threat of nuclear power. That message is in the form of an open letter (pdf) being delivered to world leaders following the first anniversary as a reminder that the Fukushima nuclear disaster must be seen for what it is: another overwhelming piece of evidence that nuclear energy can never be safe and must be phased out.
Signatories include Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate; Marina Silva, former Brazilian Environment Minister; Senator Bob Brown, Australian Green Party Leader; John Hall, former US Congressman; Richard Harvey, international Human Rights lawyer. In addition, several artists; leaders of human rights, labour, development and environment organisations, such as Action Aid International, Health Care without Harm, Friends of the Earth US, CIVICUS, the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and many national non-governmental organisations.
Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, most governments have demonstrated that they have learned nothing from the accident and remain more concerned about protecting the profits of the nuclear industry than protecting people.
Naomi Starkman: New Report: Nitrate Contamination Threatens California’s Drinking Water
oday, the Food & Environment Reporting Network-the first and only independent, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health in partnership with local and national media outlets-published its third report, “Farming Communities Facing Crisis Over Nitrate Pollution, Study Says,” on msnbc.com. Reporter Stett Holbrook takes a deep dive into a new study by UC Davis that reveals that nitrate contamination is severe and getting worse for hundreds of thousands of people in California’s farming communities.
The most comprehensive assessment so far to date, the report also reveals that agriculture is the main source of 96 percent of nitrate pollution. The five counties in the study area-among the top 10 agricultural producing counties in the United States-include about 40 percent of California’s irrigated cropland and more than half of its dairy herds, representing a $13.7 billion slice of the state’s economy, Holbrook reports.
“Nearly 10 percent of the 2.6 million people living in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley might be drinking nitrate-contaminated water, researchers found. If nothing is done to stem the problem, the report warns, those at risk for health and financial problems may number nearly 80 percent by 2050,” writes Holbrook.
Harriet Barlow: Why I Call Myself a Commoner
Each day I walk out of my Minneapolis house into an atmosphere protected from pollution by the Clean Air Act. As I step onto a sidewalk that was built with tax dollars for everyone, my spirits are lifted by the beauty of my neighbors’ boulevard gardens. Trees planted by people who would never sit under them shade my walk. I listen to public radio, a nonprofit service broadcast over airwaves belonging to us all, as I stroll around a lake in the park, which was protected from shoreline development by civic-minded citizens in the nineteenth century. [..]
Candido Grzybowski, the Brazilian sociologist who co-founded the World Social Forum, advises, “If we want to work for justice, we should work for the commons.” Protecting and restoring precious gifts from nature and from our foreparents for future generations is one the greatest privileges of a being a commoner.