Tag: Agriculture

Edward R. Murrow: “Harvest of Shame”

Watch Edward R. Murrow’s ‘Harvest of Shame’

by John Light, Moyers & Company

The people who harvest our fruits and vegetables are, today, among the country’s most marginalized. They earn well below the poverty line and spend a substantial portion of the year unemployed. They do not have the right to overtime pay or to collective bargaining with their employers. In some cases, workers have faced abuses that fall under modern-day slavery statutes. “The extreme is slavery,” observed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), while visiting farm workers in Florida. “The norm is disaster.” [..]

In 1960, legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow and his producers Fred Friendly and David Lowe attempted to draw public attention to this state of affairs with the documentary Harvest of Shame. The film – an hour-long portrait of the “humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world” – aired on CBS the day after Thanksgiving, 1960.

The USDA is Pretty Cheesy

Last week in a New York Times report, While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales, there was a conflict of interest story that would give any Tea Party member a coronary. It’s bad for Democrats too.

You know how the United States Department of Agriculture is running a federal anti-obesity drive? Well, how about the fact that they also advised Domino’s on how to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, then helped them devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign. Sales soared by double digits.

That’s just the beginning. You should read the whole story about Dairy Management Inc. that was created by the government in 1995 and not only invented the “Got Milk” campaign but runs an aggressive campaign to promoting the excessive consumption of cheese and convince Americans that saturated fats are good for you.

It’s almost comical that a subsidiary of America’s nutrition police ran a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy and lobbied the Agriculture Department not to cut the amount of cheese in federal food assistance programs by citing these false weight-loss claims from research they mostly financed and already knew to be false.

Tonight on the PBS show that replaced Bill Moyers Journal “Need to Know,” there was a follow up report Mixed signals: Why is the USDA promoting nutrition and pushing cheese? I think it’s must see TV and goes a little further than “Got Milk?”

Stephen Colbert Submits Colonoscopy as Evidence: Up Date

Colbert has more experience on this than the Representatives on the committee.

Up Date: Stephen’s punch line:

CONGRESSWOMAN JUDY CHU: Mr. Colbert, you could work on so many issues, why are you interested in this issue?

COLBERT: I like talking about people who don’t have any power. And this seems like some of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here, and at the same time ask them to leave. And, you know, whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, these seem like the least of our brothers, right now. And I know that a lot of people are the least of my brothers because the economy is so hard, and I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish it or anything like that, but migrant workers suffer, and they have no rights.”

Pres. Obama, Rehire Shirley Sherrod

What is the Obama administration doing? I can’t believe that Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, demanded a resignation from Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department appointee in Georgia,  based on a video from a statement made 25 years ago that was edited by Andrew Breitbart’s cronies to look like Ms, Sherrod is a racist. Now, even though the whole affair has been exposed as phony, Vilsack is refusing to rehire her, at least, according to the White House, who is saying it is totally his call.

What digby says:

“Her decision ‘rightly or wrongly” will be called into question” because some right wing hitman put out an edited tape that makes her sound as if her point is the opposite of what it is, so she had to be fired.

They are telling wingnuts everywhere that all they have to do is gin up a phony controversy (especially about a black person, apparently) and the administration will fire them so as not to shake confidence that they are “fair service providers.”

This is sheer cowardice.

Even the NAACP has admitted they were “Snookered”:

With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.


Next time we are confronted by a racial controversy broken by Fox News or their allies in the Tea Party like Mr. Breitbart, we will consider the source and be more deliberate in responding. The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.

According to the USDA, Sherrod’s statements prompted her dismissal. While we understand why Secretary Vilsack believes this false controversy will impede her ability to function in the role, we urge him to reconsider.

Pres. Obama, tell Secretary Vilsak to immediately rehire Ms. Sherrod.