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    Art and the Human Manifesto of Nadya Tolokonnikova

    The punk band Pussy Riot, which I belong to, is a musical group that conducts unexpected performances in different urban spaces. Pussy Riot’s songs address topical political issues. The interests of the group members are: political activism, ecology, and the elimination of authoritarian tendencies in the Russian state system through the creation of the civil society.

    Since its origin in October 2011, the band played concerts in the subway, on the roof of a trolleybus, on the roof of the detention center for administrative detainees, in clothing stores, at fashion shows, and on the Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. We believe that the art should be accessible to everyone; therefore we perform in diverse public spaces. Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts. This was the case on the roof of the trolleybus and on the Lobnoe Mesto, and this was the case at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

    On 21 February 2012 Pussy Riot band performed its punk prayer “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the early March 2012 three members of the group were imprisoned because of the music and political activism. The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012.

    We, like many of our fellow citizens, wrestle against treachery, deceit, bribery, hypocrisy, greed, and lawlessness, peculiar to the current authorities and rulers. This is why we were upset by this political initiative of the patriarch and could not fail to express that. The performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior was committed not on the grounds of religious enmity and hatred. Equally, we harbor no hatred towards Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity worships the same as we do: mercy, forgiveness, justification, love, and freedom. We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side - on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral.

    We came with what we have and can: with our musical performance. During this performance we intended to express our concern: the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church - the patriarch - supports a politician who forcefully suppresses the civil society, which is dear to us.

    I would like to emphasize the fact that, while at the Cathedral, we did not utter any insulting words towards the church, the Christians, and the God. The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who took an authoritarian and antifeminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better. Our emotions and expressiveness came from that desire. If our passion appeared offensive to any spectators, we are sorry for that. We had no intentions to offend anyone. We wish that those, who cannot understand us, would forgive us. Most of all, we want people to hold no grudges against us.

    We very much wish that people would not see our denial of guilt under the Article 213 (Part 2) of the Russian Criminal Code as audacity, insolence, or our unwillingness or inability to admit our mistakes. It seems to me that those who were distressed by our songs tend to take our denial of guilt that way. I believe that we are all victims of the most perfect misunderstanding and confusion of words and legal terms.

    My key point is that I separate the legal and ethical assessments of our performance “Hail Mary, Expel Putin”. This is a very important, probably the most important, thing in this proceeding. I insist that the criminal side of this story must not be confused with the ethical one. The fact is that our denial of guilt does not mean our unwillingness to explain our actions and apologize for the distress brought by our performance, and I would like everyone, especially the victims, would try to understand that.

    My assessment of the ethics of the Pussy Riot punk prayer is this: our ethical mistake was that we allowed bringing our newly developed genre—the unexpected political punk performance—to the cathedral. We did not think that our actions might offend some. In fact, we performed in various places in Moscow since October 2011, and everywhere—in the subway, in stores, on the roof of the detention center, on the Lobnoe Mesto – people perceived our actions with humor, cheerfulness, or, at the very least, with irony. Similarly, based on our experience of the previous performances, we had no idea that the punk performance could hurt or offend someone. If anyone was offended by our performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, then I am ready to admit that we made an ethical mistake. This is, indeed, a mistake because we had no conscious intention to offend anyone. Our ethical - I emphasize, ethical, and not the criminal—fault lies in the fact that we allowed ourselves to respond to the patriarch’s call to vote for Vladimir Putin by our performance at the Cathedral, and, therefore, by sharing our political position with the audience. This is our ethical lapse, and I emphasize and acknowledge it, and I apologies for it.

    However, our ethical slip matches no article of the Criminal Code.

    We have been in prison for five months now, but in our actions do not constitute a crime. The violation of rules of church conduct substantially differs from the accusations of hate and enmity towards the entire Orthodox religion and all believers that we now face. One does not follow from the other. I shudder every time I read the indictment that we have come to the cathedral out of contempt and hatred towards Christians. These are terrible, very bad words and incredibly strong, terrible accusation. Our motivation was purely political and artistic. I agree, perhaps, we did not have an ethical right to bring them to the cathedral’s ritual space. But we do not hate anyone.

    Think about it: what are hatred and enmity? None of them is a joke. No one may label people with them just like that. Perjury is happening here. For five months we have been suffering from slander. It is not easy for me to withstand the cynical and cruel labeling with the feelings that I have not experienced to any living being on earth. The prosecution accuses us of hiding our true motives (which supposedly are religious hatred and enmity) to avoid punishment. However, we do not lie because we have principles, and one of which is: always telling the truth. We did not betray our principles, even though the investigators detained us, forcing us to admit our guilt under the Article 231 (Part 2). Such admittance would label us with the false motive—hatred and enmity—and crush and destroy us as honest people. The investigators repeatedly told us, if we plea guilty, we would be released. We refused.

    If we admit our guilt under the Article 231 (Part 2), we will defame ourselves. The truth is precious to us more than anything, even more than the freedom. Thus, I think there is no reason not to trust our words. We will not lie, for sure. The content of our laptops and hard drives is presented in the criminal case, and it refutes the version of the prosecution. These materials prove that we did not have religious hatred or enmity as our motive. Anyone who reads the content of our laptops and hard drives will clearly see that our motivation was purely political. The Volumes 3 and 4 of our criminal case contain our criticism of Putin’s authoritarian policies and our reflections about the benefits the peaceful civil protests. The Volumes 3 and 4 contain the texts about feminism and interviews of Pussy Riot band. Not a single word is about religious hatred or enmity.

    In all those laptops and hard drives, the prosecution has found not a single piece of evidence confirming this motive, and now it is trying to get out of their predicament by magically making illogical conclusions. In our interviews after our performance on 21 February 2012, we repeatedly said that we treated Christianity with great consideration and respect. The prosecution, realizing their lack of evidence of our religious hatred, has resorted to the next move. They now claim that our statements of loyalty towards Christianity cover up our true attitude towards the religion, thus attempting to minimize the backlash against the illegal act committed at the Cathedral. These statements are illogical because we have publicly stated our positive attitude towards the religion on 21 February 2012 and on other dates – way before the news that a criminal case has been initiated.

    The conclusion that we “revenge for Hypatia’s death”* is so absurd that even the ones who still doubted our motives, now realized: the prosecution has absolutely no evidence of the motive of hatred. Therefore neither the motive nor elements of crime exist.

    Two expert reports, ordered by the investigation, found no motive of hatred or enmity in our actions. However, for some unfortunate reason, the indictment fails to mention these reports. The experts concluded that the song text, our activities, or the video do not contain any linguistic features of dishonor or insults towards Orthodox Christians, the Orthodox church officials, or other groups. Neither they contain any linguistic evidence of hostile attitudes towards the Orthodox religion, Orthodox believers, or people of other groups. Moreover, the experts noted that the behavior of our group had no psychological signs of hostility: the girls did not commit aggressive and violent acts against anyone.

    In summary, we had no motive of religious hatred or enmity, neither we conducted a crime under Article 213 (Part 2) of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation.

    Via Dangerous Minds

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  • 08/04/12--15:33: Scene In Barcelona: No Hope
  • Visit EME

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  • 08/07/12--20:54: Occupy Wall Street: Year One

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    By Michael T. Klare

    The Great Drought of 2012 has yet to come to an end, but we already know that its consequences will be severe. With more than one-half of America’s countiesdesignated as drought disaster areas, the 2012 harvest of corn, soybeans, and other food staples is guaranteed to fall far short of predictions. This, in turn, will boost food prices domestically and abroad, causing increased misery for farmers and low-income Americans and far greater hardship for poor people in countries that rely on imported U.S. grains.

    This, however, is just the beginning of the likely consequences: if history is any guide, rising food prices of this sort will also lead to widespread social unrest and violent conflict.

    Food -- affordable food -- is essential to human survival and well-being. Take that away, and people become anxious, desperate, and angry. In the United States, food represents only about 13 percent of the average household budget, a relatively small share, so a boost in food prices in 2013 will probably not prove overly taxing for most middle- and upper-income families.  It could, however, produce considerable hardship for poor and unemployed Americans with limited resources. “You are talking about a real bite out of family budgets,” commented Ernie Gross, an agricultural economist at Omaha’s Creighton University. This could add to the discontent already evident in depressed and high-unemployment areas, perhaps prompting an intensified backlash against incumbent politicians and other forms of dissent and unrest.

    It is in the international arena, however, that the Great Drought is likely to have its most devastating effects. Because so many nations depend on grain imports from the U.S. to supplement their own harvests, and because intense drought and floods are damaging crops elsewhere as well, food supplies are expected to shrink and prices to rise across the planet. “What happens to the U.S. supply has immense impact around the world,” says Robert Thompson, a food expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. As the crops most affected by the drought, corn and soybeans, disappear from world markets, he noted, the price of all grains, including wheat, is likely to soar, causing immense hardship to those who already have trouble affording enough food to feed their families.

    The Hunger Games, 2007-2011

    What happens next is, of course, impossible to predict, but if the recent past is any guide, it could turn ugly. In 2007-2008, when rice, corn, and wheat experienced prices hikes of 100 percent or more, sharply higher prices -- especially for bread -- sparked “food riots” in more than two dozen countries, including Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal, and Yemen. In Haiti, the rioting became so violent and public confidence in the government’s ability to address the problem dropped so precipitously that the Haitian Senate voted to oust the country’s prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis. In other countries, angry protestors clashed with army and police forces, leaving scores dead.

    Those price increases of 2007-2008 were largely attributed to the soaring cost of oil, which made food production more expensive. (Oil’s use is widespread in farming operations, irrigation, food delivery, and pesticide manufacture.)  At the same time, increasing amounts of cropland worldwide were being diverted from food crops to the cultivation of plants used in making biofuels.

    The next price spike in 2010-11 was, however, closely associated with climate change. An intense drought gripped much of eastern Russia during the summer of 2010, reducing the wheat harvest in that breadbasket region by one-fifth and prompting Moscow to ban all wheat exports. Drought also hurt China’s grain harvest, while intense flooding destroyed much of Australia’s wheat crop. Together with other extreme-weather-related effects, these disasters sent wheat prices soaring by more than 50 percent and the price of most food staples by 32 percent.

    Read the rest of this essay @ TomDispatch


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    Photo also of the first arrests in Golden Gate Park on August 15, 1988.

    Keith McHenry being led away...

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    By Robert Montgomery

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    Julian Assange Jesus Toast 

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    By Vandana Shiva

    Hunger and malnutrition is manmade. It is in the design of the industrial chemical model of agriculture. And just as hunger has been created by design, producing healthy and nutritious food for all can be designed through food democracy.

    That is what we do in Navdanya. That is what the diverse movements for food sovereignty and agro-ecology are designing on the ground.    

    We are repeatedly told we will starve without poisons and chemical fertilisers. However, chemicals undermine food security by destroying the fertility of the soil, killing the biodiversity of soil organisms which are the real builders of solid fertility, the pollinators like bees and butterflies without whom plant reproduction and food production is not possible, and friendly insects which control pests.

    Industrial production has led to such a severe ecological and social crisis, to ensure the supply of healthy food, we must move towards agro-ecological and sustainable systems of food production that work with nature, not against her.

    Industrialisation of agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition, yet further industrialisation of food systems are offered as cures for the crisis. In the Indian context, agriculture, food and nutrition are addressed independent of each other, even though what food is grown and how it is grown determines its nutritional value. It also determines distribution patterns and entitlements. If we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. If we grow food with chemicals, and we grow monocultures, we will have less nutrition per acre and less nutrition per capita. If we grow food ecologically with internal inputs, more food will stay with the farming household and there will be less malnutrition in rural children. If we grow food chemically, with purchased seeds and costly chemicals, less food will be retained by rural producers, more will go out as commodities, leaving rural areas nutritionally deprived.

    Root causes

    Agriculture policy focuses on increasing yields of individual crops - not the output of the food system and its nutritional value. The food security system is based on the Public Distribution System, which does not address issues of nutrition and quality of food distribution. And nutritional programmes are divorced from both agriculture and food security.

    The agrarian crisis, the food crisis and the nutrition and health crisis are intimately connected. They need to be addressed together. The objective of agriculture policy must not be guided by maximising sales of costly seeds and costly chemicals which rob the soil, the farmers, and the people of nutrition. The objective of food policy cannot be based on promoting industrial processing of food. The objective of nutritional policy cannot be the creation of a malnutrition market. The chemicalisation of agriculture and the chemicalisation of food are recipes for denutrification of our food. They cannot solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

    Hunger and malnutrition begin in the soil, and it is in the soil that solutions to hunger and malnutrition lie. Industrial agriculture, sold as the Green Revolution and 2nd Green Revolution to Third World countries, is a chemical intensive, capital intensive, fossil fuel intensive system. It must, by its very structure, push farmers into debt, and indebted farmers everywhere are pushed off the land, as their farms are foreclosed and appropriated. In poor countries, farmers trapped in debt for purchasing costly chemicals and non-renewable seeds sell the food they grow to pay back debt. That is why hunger today is a rural phenomenon. The debt-creating negative economy of high cost industrial farming is a hunger producing system, not a hunger reduction system. Wherever chemicals and commercial seeds have spread, farmers are in debt, and lose entitlement to their own produce. They become trapped in poverty and hunger.

    Biodiversity dysfunction

    A second level at which industrial chemical agriculture creates hunger is by displacing and destroying the biodiversity which provides nutrition. Thus the Green Revolution displaced pulses an important source of proteins as well as oil seeds; it reduced nutrition per acre, not increased it. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition. They take up more chemicals and fossil fuels, and hence are profitable for agrichemical companies and oil companies. They produce higher yields of individual commodities, but a lower output of food and nutrition.

    The conventional measures of productivity focus on labour as the major input (and the direct labour on the farm at that) and externalise many energy and resource inputs. This biased productivity pushes farmers off the land and replaces them with chemicals and machines, which in turn contribute to greenhouse gases and climate change. Further, industrial agriculture focuses on producing a single crop that can be globally traded as a commodity. The focus on "yield" of individual commodities creates what I have called a "monoculture of the mind". The promotion of so-called high-yielding varieties leads to the displacement of biodiversity. It also destroys the ecological functions of biodiversity.

    Nutrient displacement

    When the benefits of biodiversity are taken into account, biodiverse systems have higher output than monocultures. And organic farming is more beneficial for the farmers and the earth than chemical farming.

    Industrial chemical agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition at a third level - by robbing crops of nutrients. Industrially produced food is nutritionally empty mass, loaded with chemicals and toxins. Nutrition in food comes from the nutrients in the soil. Industrial agriculture, based on the NPK mentality of synthetic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium based fertilisers leads to depletion of vital micronutrients and trace elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron.

    To get the same amount of nutrition people will need to eat much more food. The increase in "yields" of empty mass does not translate into more nutrition. In fact it is leading to malnutrition.

    The most effective and low cost strategy for addressing hunger and malnutrition is through biodiverse organic farming. Organic farming enriches the soil, and nutrient rich soils give us nutrient rich food.

    Earthworm castings, which can amount to four to 36 tonnes per acre per year, contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, three times more exchangeable magnesium, 11 times more potash, and one and a half times more calcium than soil. Their work on the soil promotes the microbial activity essential to the fertility of most soils. Soils rich in micro organisms and earthworms are soils rich in nutrients. Their products too are rich in nutrients. Organic foods on average have been found to have 21 per cent more iron, 14 per cent more phosphorous, 78 per cent more chromium, 390 per cent more selenium, 63 per cent more calcium, 70 per cent more boron, 138 per cent more magnesium, 27 per cent more vitamin C, and 10 to 50 per cent more vitamin E & B carotene.

    The more the biodiversity on our farms, the higher the nutrition per acre at zero cost. Plants, people and the soil are part of one food web, which is the web of life. The test of good farming is how well it works to increase the health and resilience of the food web.

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  • 09/09/12--14:43: The Resistance Is Fertile

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