The idea of “Smart Diapers” for babies dates back a few years. As noted in a recent Vox article, Huggies is now selling them in Korea and Japan and the U.S. and Mexico may be getting them next.
More companies are interested in creating and marketing these diapers as well as other “Smart” personal care products. Besides being expensive, Bluetooth technology emits harmful wireless radiation and there is currently no safe level of wireless radiation exposure that has been determined for children or pregnant women. In fact, 250 scientists have signed a petition which warns against numerous devices that emit Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation, which is used in WiFi and Bluetooth.
“Smart” Diapers also qualify as another source of “Surveillance Capitalism” since companies freely admit that they are able to gather data and track their customer use from the diaper sensors.
Regardless, companies are hoping that there is much money to be made especially since “Smart Diapers” for adults seems to already be a thriving market. Poor grandma and grandpa…
That long march toward making smart diapers happen has been driven more by fears of slipping market shares than by any kind of real demand from consumers. The furious pace of innovation belies the fact that the US diaper market is in trouble. As the birthrate declines for the seventh year in a row, there are fewer and fewer new parents to buy diapers, and almost all major diaper brands have taken hits. After Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures Huggies, laid off 13 percent of its workers in January 2018, the CEO told investors, “You can’t encourage moms to use more diapers in a developed market where the babies aren’t being born in those markets.”
Last summer, to counter wilting sales, Pampers raised the price of its signature diaper by 4 percent. Huggies is making a bet different bet: By selling upscale diapers, it hopes to recoup the profits lost to a rapidly shrinking baby diaper market.
“The fact that the birthrates are quite low in the US has stirred a lot of interest in trying to get the consumer to spend more,” said Ali Dibadj, who tracks the personal products industry for the investment management group Sanford C. Bernstein. “The only way they can increase their business is to bring better products to the market. Their whole hope is to create products that the consumer base will pay more for.”
That puts Huggies squarely in line with other companies advocating seemingly unnecessary tech infusions into ordinary hygiene products on the bet that it will widen their profit margins. The brands behind the major US diapers have already flooded the market with “smart” toothbrushes, razors, and skin care wands, all of which they hope will entice wealthier consumers who can be convinced to drop the extra money.
Later this year, Procter & Gamble, which manufactures Pampers, is launching an AI toothbrush that claims to improve brushing. While typical electric toothbrushes cost around $30, P&G is planning to start its AI brush at $279, a massive price jump that foreshadows the future of the smart diaper. Kimberly-Clark, for its part, promised more “meaningful innovation” of its personal hygiene products, although the company already boasts everything from smart toilet paper to smart restrooms equipped with sensors that relay data about soap and toilet paper use.
There is not a lot to a smart diaper — the removable Bluetooth sensor, which resembles an orange disk, can be attached to the outside of any regular diaper. That sensor syncs to a Huggies smartphone app, where it relays information about the temperature and air quality, and — in addition to individual alerts about baby poop or pee — tracks the overall frequency of a baby’s bowel movements and calculates the times of day the diaper tends to need changing. No more than five people can register as guardians on the app. (Source: Vox)
Justification for purchasing this product is offered by Tony Park who developed the Bluetooth sensor used in Huggies’ smart diapers:
Park told Vox that the design is personal for him. Some babies, like his daughter, don’t cry when their diapers need changing, and figuring out when to switch diapers before a rash develops is a challenging guessing game. His target customers are millennial first-time parents who don’t have the time to constantly check diapers. “They are quite busy working two jobs,” he said. “They want to get involved in parenting, but they don’t have enough time to share with their baby. With our Monit device, they can get a notification whenever and wherever.”
Oh Tony. Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should.
The growing indigenous spiritual movement that could save the planet
North Dakota is just the beginning.
When Pua Case landed in North Dakota to join the ongoing Standing Rock protests in September, she, like thousands of other participants, had come to defend the land.
Masses of indigenous people and their allies descended on camps along Cannonball River this year to decry the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, a series of 30-inch diameter underground pipes that, if built, would stretch 1,172 miles and carry half a million barrels of crude oil per day — right through lands Native groups call sacred.
“We are not here to be anything but peaceful, but we are here,” Case told ThinkProgress, describing the moment she linked arms with fellow demonstrators and stared down rows of police in Bismarck. “We will stand here in our tribal names in respect and honor.”
But while media attention has focused on the massive, sometimesheated demonstrations—which include several alleged instances of brutality and dog attacks —there has been less attention paid to how the protest is recharging the lager climate movement, not to mention the peculiar nature of the participants. Case, for instance, traveled quite a long way to the Peace Garden State: she is from the sunny shores of Hawaii, not rugged North Dakota, and she claims a Native Hawaiian identity, not a Native American one. And she wasn’t there just to protest; the sacredness of the land is especially important to her, so she was also there to pray.
“Standing Rock is a prayer camp,” she said. “It is where prayers are done.”
“Standing Rock is a prayer camp. It is where prayers are done.”
Case’s experience is shockingly common—both as a protester visiting a far-flung land to support a Native cause, and as a witness to an emerging indigenous spiritual movement that is sweeping North America.
She’s part of something bigger that is, by all accounts, the theological opposite of the aggressively Christian “awakenings” that once dominated American life in the 18th and 19th centuries, when primarily white, firebrand ministers preached a gospel of “manifest destiny”—the religious framework later used to justify the subjugation of Native Americans and their territories. The diverse constellation of Native theologies articulated at Standing Rock and other indigenous protest camps champions the reverse: they seek to protect land, water, and other natural resources from further human development, precisely because they are deemed sacred by indigenous people.
And this year, after centuries of struggle, their prayers are starting to be answered.
The size and intensity of the Standing Rock protest caught many observers off guard — the media included. Beginning with just a few tents sprinkled across a barren field earlier this year, protesters now say nearly 10,000 people have visited the thriving camps, with guests hailing from as many as 300 different indigenous tribes.
“Seeing all the tribes come out was just incredible,” Caro “Guarding Red Tarantula Woman” Gonzales, a 26-year-old Standing Rock protester and founding member of the International Indigenous Youth Council, told ThinkProgress. “We can do that for every single indigenous fight.”
“Seeing all the tribes come out was just incredible.”
Expressions of solidarity between indigenous groups may sound predictable, but the history of Native American activism is pockmarked with internal squabbles. Early attempts to unify indigenous causes in the United States, such as the creation of the American Indian Movement in the 1960s, have since been marred by controversy and factionalism. Native Hawaiians once avoided connections between their cause and that of Native Americans, lest they suffer the same humiliating defeats as those in the continental United States. And while flashes of unified activism persisted throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, indigenous communities in North America often struggled to win major victories — legal, cultural, or otherwise.
But all that changed in December 2012, when four women in Western Canada — three First Nations women and one non-Native ally — held a teach-in to protest legislation they said would weaken environmental laws that protect lands Natives hold sacred.
The activists entitled their demonstration “Idle No More,” and the movement exploded on social media; within days, flash mobs performing traditional spiritual dances sprung up in city centers and shopping malls across the country. Taking cues from Occupy Wall Street’s organic structure, a series of marches, rallies, and direct-action peaceful protests that blocked highways and railways quickly followed, making headlines in Canada and abroad.
Idle No More’s success set off a firestorm of solidarity protests among indigenous groups in the United States, who in turn used the energy to draw attention to their own local fights — virtually all which involved some sort of spiritual claim. In Hawaii, protesters inculcated the same tactics — and sometimes even the same slogans — into an ongoing effort to halt the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea, a volcano Native Hawaiians consider sacred. In Arizona, members of the Apache nation began occupying an area known as Oak Flat, vowing to fend off the proposed development of a copper mine on land they call holy. And when environmentalists pushed back against the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline, organizations such as the Cowboy and Indian Alliance bolstered the existing climate change movement with Native activists in both Canada and the United States.
“Idle No More raised our consciousness,” Gonzales, who is of the Chemehievi nation, said. “When people are chaining themselves to bulldozers, that is prayer.”
Meanwhile, something new happened: social media allowed indigenous people across the country to show support for their fellow activists with a few simple clicks, adding hashtags and memes to their own Facebook and Twitter profiles. The digital connections helped elevate their respective causes, but also forged real-world relationships between activists in different tribes.
“When people are chaining themselves to bulldozers, that is prayer.”
By the time Standing Rock rolled around, a spiritual network of indigenous people was already in full effect.
“Many of the people I met at Standing Rock I’ve been friends with on Facebook for years,” said Case, who has been a key organizer in Native Hawaiian activist circles.
Case noted that she and several of the Standing Rock protesters had been “sending prayers” back and forth over social media for some time. These connections inspired Native Americans such as Caleen Sisk of California’s Winnemem Wintu nation to join her in an occupation of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Years later, Case returned the favor by assisting Sisk in her effort to restore California waterways once frequented by millions of local salmon.
“We prayed on each others’ mountains and made commitments to one another,” Case said, speaking over the phone just minutes after finishing a ceremonial raft ride down the river. “They have prayed for us — they’ve come out physically to Mauna Kea. So now it’s our turn.”
“The most important word here is alliances,” she said.
Asked about the movement’s religious elements, Gonzales insisted spirituality isn’t a cursory side-effect but a crucial, driving force behind the recent surge of Native environmental activism. Virtually all of the protests she has attended, she said, featured some form of prayer or sacred ritual.
“All of us are protesting because we are part of this sacred [connection] to the earth,” Gonzales said. “We are all the mountains, we are all the birds — it sounds corny, but it’s true.”
It would be a mistake to characterize the new wave of indigenous activism as emanating from a uniform, codified theology. All of the activists ThinkProgress interviewed insisted they spoke only for themselves when discussing faith, explaining that each tribe harbors its own unique spiritual traditions, practices, and customs forged over the course of centuries, if not millennia.
But for all their differences, the various indigenous populations share a common theological belief typical of what Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, a Native Hawaiian activist, called “earth-based” cultures: that the environment, at least in parts, is sacred in and of itself.
“Earth-based cultures are tied to places,” Mangauil, whose current Facebook profile picture reads “Solidarity with Standing Rock,” said. “There is no separation from our spirituality and our environment — they are one and the same.”
“Other [religious groups] have these debates over whether or not God exists — but I know my god exists,” he added, referencing Mauna Kea, which towers above his island home. “It’s the mountain — I can see it.”
“Other [religious groups] have these debates over whether or not god exists — but I know my god exists. It’s the mountain — I can see it.”
Religion has long been a part of Native American protest movements, as has its connection to the environmentalist struggle. But religious scholars say they’re also seeing something unusual this year: demonstrators are actively creating new religious expressions. Greg Johnson, a Hawaiian religion expert and an associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said these indigenous protests are increasingly led by young, creative organizers who are “generating” religion through their activism.
“The kids of today’s generation know a new set of chants, a new set of prayers because of those who came before them,” Johnson said. He noted that Native Hawaiian schoolchildren are already singing songs written in the protest camps of Mauna Kea just a year before. “In this moment of crisis, the religious tradition is catalyzed, activated, but most of all articulated — this is when it happens.”
While this groundswell of religious generation is rooted in old traditions, it sometimes reawakens ancient elements that can challenge elders.
“My sacredness as a human is part of my tradition — myself as a protector, as a sacred protector.”
“To introduce another spiritual element — I am a two spirit,” Gonzales said, referencing a Native American term used to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in their communities. Although traditionally celebrated in many tribes, two-spirit people have not always been welcomed by modern indigenous people. Yet when Gonzales and others formed the International Indigenous Youth Council at Standing Rock, the majority of the leadership identified as two-spirit — a designation they link to their faith.
“My sacredness as a human is part of my tradition — myself as a protector, as a sacred protector,” she said. “There are a lot of two-sprits at [the Standing Rock] camp, and that is sacred too… We see that as integral to our activism.”
Faith is a core mobilizing and stabilizing force for the movement, but it’s also central to the legal arguments used by Native groups to defend their land. In addition to other claims, both the Oak Flat and Standing Rock lawsuits contend that the federal government — or the companies it employs — violated the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires agencies to “consult with any Indian tribe… that attaches religious and cultural significance to properties with the area of potential effects.” The Hawaii case is similarly rooted in disputes over sacred land, although the lawsuit currently focuses on state laws, not the federal statutes.
Native groups can also lean on the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, which compels the federal government to “protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise [their] traditional religions…including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”
But according to Johnson, an expert on sacred land disputes, the law is often not enough to guarantee indigenous groups a win.
“There is very little track record of sacred land victories,” he said. “More likely what they will generate is allegiances, attention — the secondary effects of having made the case for their tradition.”
“There is very little track record of sacred land victories.”
Indeed, the movement thus far has largely been sustained through protest and agitation. The legal case to protect Standing Rock ultimately fell flat in early September, for instance, when a U.S. District Court judge denied the nation’s request to halt pipeline construction. But the movement proved more powerful than one judge: shortly after the ruling, the Obama administration — under pressure from scores of Native groups and their allies — called on the Dakota Access to stop construction voluntarily, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted work on the pipeline shortly thereafter.
Such is the recurring — and increasingly successful — strategy of these protests. Slowly accruing support and attention over time, and leaning on sacred claims, activists whittle away the patience of corporations and government officials until they (ideally) give up.
In Hawaii, construction of the TMT is currently stalled while lawyers debate aspects of the construction process, prompting The Hawaii Island New Knowledge fund to begin investigating alternative sites. In March, the Obama administration moved to place Oak Flat on the National Register of Historic Places, adding another bureaucratic hoop preventing the Resolution Copper company from installing a mine on site. The Lummi Nation in Washington State successfully defeated an effort to build the largest coal port ever in North America near their land earlier this year, and Native groups are also credited with helping stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015.
But the fight is far from over. Many of these disputes—including the Dakota Access Pipeline—are not yet resolved, and Native activists are already gearing up for new campaigns. In late September, dozens of tribes in Canada and the United States signed a treaty pledging to combat any further development of Canadian “tar sands,” which they say put their reservations and “sacred waterways” at risk of oil spills.
“If one of us loses, then we all have to work harder,” Case said. “We need to be stronger every day, and I believe the creator believes that’s what we need as well.”
Case said movement members will continue to lean on each other for strength moving forward (“We could use some prayer,” she joked) and that they won’t rest until they make it clear that the environment — earth, sky, and water — is, in a very literal sense, sacred.
“There comes a time when people have a right to say no — and now is that time,” she added. “So we’re saying no, resoundingly, like the thundering sky.”
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call “Turtle Island.” My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator.
We have been warned from ancient prophecies of these times we live in today, but have also been given a very important message about a solution to turn these terrible times.
To understand the depth of this message you must recognize the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued massacres that are occurring on other lands and our own Americas.
I have been learning about these important issues since the age of 12 when I received the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle and its teachings. Our people have strived to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning of time. These places have been violated for centuries and have brought us to the predicament that we are in at the global level.
Look around you. Our Mother Earth is very ill from these violations, and we are on the brink of destroying the possibility of a healthy and nurturing survival for generations to come, our children’s children.
Our ancestors have been trying to protect our Sacred Site called the Sacred Black Hills in South Dakota, “Heart of Everything That Is,” from continued violations. Our ancestors never saw a satellite view of this site, but now that those pictures are available, we see that it is in the shape of a heart and, when fast-forwarded, it looks like a heart pumping.
The Diné have been protecting Big Mountain, calling it the liver of the earth, and we are suffering and going to suffer more from the extraction of the coal there and the poisoning processes used in doing so.
The Aborigines have warned of the contaminating effects of global warming on the Coral Reefs, which they see as Mother Earth’s blood purifier.
The indigenous people of the rainforest say that the rainforests are the lungs of the planet and need protection.
The Gwich’in Nation in Alaska has had to face oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, also known to the Gwich’in as “Where life begins.”
The coastal plain is the birthplace of many life forms of the animal nations. The death of these animal nations will destroy indigenous nations in this territory.
As these destructive developments continue all over the world, we will witness many more extinct animal, plant, and human nations, because of mankind’s misuse of power and their lack of understanding of the “balance of life.”
The Indigenous people warn that these destructive developments will cause havoc globally. There are many, many more indigenous teachings and knowledge about Mother Earth’s Sacred Sites, her chakras, and connections to our spirit that will surely affect our future generations.
There needs to be a fast move toward other forms of energy that are safe for all nations upon Mother Earth. We need to understand the types of minds that are continuing to destroy the spirit of our whole global community. Unless we do this, the powers of destruction will overwhelm us.
Our Ancestors foretold that water would someday be for sale. Back then this was hard to believe, since the water was so plentiful, so pure, and so full of energy, nutrition and spirit. Today we have to buy pure water, and even then the nutritional minerals have been taken out; it’s just empty liquid. Someday water will be like gold, too expensive to afford.
Not everyone will have the right to drink safe water. We fail to appreciate and honor our Sacred Sites, ripping out the minerals and gifts that lay underneath them as if Mother Earth were simply a resource, instead of the source of life itself.
Attacking nations and using more resources to carry out destruction in the name of peace is not the answer! We need to understand how all these decisions affect the global nation; we will not be immune to its repercussions. Allowing continual contamination of our food and land is affecting the way we think.
A “disease of the mind” has set in world leaders and many members of our global community, with their belief that a solution of retaliation and destruction of peoples will bring peace.
In our prophecies it is told that we are now at the crossroads: Either unite spiritually as a global nation, or be faced with chaos, disasters, diseases, and tears from our relatives’ eyes.
We are the only species that is destroying the source of life, meaning Mother Earth, in the name of power, mineral resources, and ownership of land. Using chemicals and methods of warfare that are doing irreversible damage, as Mother Earth is becoming tired and cannot sustain any more impacts of war.
I ask you to join me on this endeavor. Our vision is for the peoples of all continents, regardless of their beliefs in the Creator, to come together as one at their Sacred Sites to pray and meditate and commune with one another, thus promoting an energy shift to heal our Mother Earth and achieve a universal consciousness toward attaining Peace.
As each day passes, I ask all nations to begin a global effort, and remember to give thanks for the sacred food that has been gifted to us by our Mother Earth, so the nutritional energy of medicine can be guided to heal our minds and spirits.
This new millennium will usher in an age of harmony or it will bring the end of life as we know it. Starvation, war, and toxic waste have been the hallmark of the great myth of progress and development that ruled the last millennium.
To us, as caretakers of the heart of Mother Earth, falls the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction. You yourself are the one who must decide.
You alone – and only you – can make this crucial choice, to walk in honor or to dishonor your relatives. On your decision depends the fate of the entire World.
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind.
Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?
Know that you yourself are essential to this world. Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this world. Did you think you were put here for something less? In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no beginning and no ending.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the author of White Buffalo Teachings. A tireless advocate of maintaining traditional spiritual practices, Chief Looking Horse is a member of Big Foot Riders, which memorializes the massacre of Big Foot’s band at Wounded Knee.
The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.
According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations.
At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.
So grave has this situation become, the MNRE reports, the full European Commission (EC) this past week instituted a two-year precautionary ban (set to begin on 1 December 2013) on these “bee killing” pesticides following the lead of Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine, all of whom had previously banned these most dangerous of genetically altered organisms from being used on the continent.
Two of the most feared neonicotinoids being banned are Actara and Cruiser made by the Swiss global bio-tech seed and pesticide giant Syngenta AG which employs over 26,000 people in over 90 countries and ranks third in total global sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market.
Important to note, this report says, is that Syngenta, along with bio-tech giants Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont, now control nearly 100% of the global market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.
“As part of a study on impacts from the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, nicotine-like chemicals called neonicotinoids, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a ban on their use as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.
“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.
ABC commissioned world renowned environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau to conduct the research. The 100-page report, “The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds,” reviews 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act. The report evaluates the toxicological risk to birds and aquatic systems and includes extensive comparisons with the older pesticides that the neonicotinoids have replaced. The assessment concludes that the neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.
“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird,” Palmer said. “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid — called imidacloprid — can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction.”
The new report concludes that neonicotinoid contamination levels in both surface- and ground water in the United States and around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates.”
And to how bad the world’s agricultural system has really become due to these genetically modified plants, pesticides and seeds, this report continues, can be seen by the EC’s proposal this past week, following their ban on neonicotinoids, in which they plan to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants not registered with the European Union, and as we can, in part, read:
“Europe is rushing towards the good ol days circa 1939, 40… A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.”
This MRNE report points out that even though this EC action may appear draconian, it is nevertheless necessary in order to purge the continent from continued contamination of these genetically bred “seed monstrosities.”
“After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA: At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center. As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.”
“The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.”
LIVE UPDATES: Occupy Wall Street Gains Support From Politicians Even As Protesters Face Arrests
First Posted: 10/7/11 05:16 PM ET Updated: 10/7/11 07:38 PM ET
Occupy Wall Street, a cause that began as a small band of protesters in Zuccotti Park, has gained endorsements from major unions and progressive leaders as well as prominent politicians. It has survived police crackdowns in Seattle and mass arrests in New York. Within a few short weeks, it has come to resemble a movement, with more than 900 meetups in 900 cities across the country. ‘Occupiers’ have erected tent cities in town squares and held rallies in front of city halls.
Organized labor has also backed the protests including during a march this past Wednesday that brought 10,000 protesters to lower Manhattan. Though the demonstration was peaceful, some protesters ended up in confrontations with police and 28 participants were arrested. At least one baton-wielding incident produced mass outrage. These incidents will either become minor distractions or defining moments.
“We’re very excited to have our union brothers and sisters march on the heart of greed,” spokesman Patrick Bruner told HuffPost’s Matt Sledge before a 10,000-strong Wednesday march organized in coordination with labor.
“We don’t necessarily think that the way they’re structured is the best,” Bruner said, referring to the unions’ top-down organizational style. “But we believe the 99% needs a voice, and they’re one of the few remaining.”
Despite gaining traction across the country, protesters have been criticized for not having a clear platform. However, they adopted the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” last week. Their list of grievances is long, with issues including the foreclosure crisis, work-place discrimination and student loan debt. The protests in New York and other cities focus on income inequality, a theme common in the group’s internet presence, including on a Tumblr that showcases Americans dealing with joblessness and other issues.
Even if the protesters were able to narrow their concerns to one, easily defined goal, some organizers say that would miss the point. So what comes next?