Year 19 • Issue 40 01 July 2013
Quote of the Week: “Friends ask us why we do it. As I have already insinuated, there are selfish reasons, and it is just as well that there are. If we thought we were acting out of pure altruism, we should be unbearable, and if we were looking for appreciation and praise, we should be hopelessly embittered. Our reward comes in the friendships we have made, in the pleasures of belonging to a group, and in the increase in understanding. But there is no sense in pretending to be more hardboiled than we are. Along with everything else, we do have a feeling of responsibility to the community. What we get is, indeed, a byproduct of what we give. We did not set out to see what we could learn, but to see what we could do.” ~Granville Hicks
Oregon Fast Fact #11: Oregon is super lucky to have a crew like you!!
1. First Long Term Study Released on Pigs, Cattle Who Eat GMO Soy and Corn Offers Frightening Results 2. Buying Soda With SNAP: To Ban or Not to Ban? 3. Arca Foundation 4. McKenzie River Gathering Foundation: General Fund 5. Small-Town Philanthropy: More than Money 6. Oregon Brewers Guild: Nearly One Out of Two Pints across the Bar is Oregon-Brewed 7. Judge Orders BLM to Sell More Timber 8. Two Hours After the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters 9. US Cycling From a Dutch Perspective 10. Kitzhaber Signs Energy Bills 11. Executive at Monsanto Wins Global Food Honor 12. Old McDonald Might Be A Lady: More Women Take Up Farming 13. Mug Shots: Bots Scour Google Maps to Find Faces in the Land 1. First Long Term Study Released on Pigs, Cattle Who Eat GMO Soy and Corn Offers Frightening Results As UK officials tout GMO foods as ‘safe’ compared to organic crops, results of a long-term, peer-reviewed study conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Australia has been released – and it proves that GMO are anything but ‘safe.’ Livestock in the UK and around the world have been fed GMO for over two decades, since the USDA authorized the commercial sale of GMO soy and corn to feed not only animals, but human beings in 1996. Much of the meat raised on these GMO crop are sent overseas, to countries like the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and even to cattleabundant nations like Australia. This most recent study proves that a more sober examination of the long term effects of GMO on our environment and health should be demanded of corporations like Monsanto, even as other evidence mounts that GMO crops are unhealthy, especially considering that nations trying to remove GMO from their food supply are still being devastated by its ill-effects. To access the full story, click here. 2. Buying Soda With SNAP: To Ban or Not to Ban? On its face, it’s a concept that makes sense: Remove sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and sports drinks from the list of products that can be purchased with money from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Americans receiving the nutrition benefit spend close to $2 billion annually on sugary drinks, which account for 58 percent of beverages purchased by SNAP recipients. Considering soda consumption has been linked to obesity and an increased chance of developing diabetes, it’s understandable why the American Medical Association (AMA) and Page 1 of 5
the mayors of 17 of the nation’s biggest cities want the federal government to drop sugar-sweetened beverages from the program. “The AMA is working to improve the nation’s health care outcomes, particularly cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are often linked to obesity,” said AMA president Ardis D. Hoven, M.D. Last week the association committed to working on removing sugar-sweetened beverages from the SNAP program and encouraging state health agencies to include nutrition information in routine materials sent to SNAP recipients. According to Hoven, “Removing sugar-sweetened beverages from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will help encourage healthier beverage choices.” To access the full story, click here. 3. Arca Foundation The Arca Foundation is dedicated to the pursuit of social equity and justice, particularly given the growing disparities in the world. In the United States, the Foundation is currently interested in supporting nonprofit organizations that work to promote a more equitable, accountable, and transparent economic recovery in the current sociopolitical climate. The next application deadline is August 1, 2013. For more information, click here. 4. McKenzie River Gathering Foundation: General Fund The McKenzie River Gathering Foundation funds Oregon-based grassroots organizations that organize people to work for progressive social change. The Foundation champions groups that challenge the vast social, economic, and political inequities that exist in society. The Foundation's General Fund provides grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to organizations with annual budgets of less than $500,000 that are led by and/or accountable to the people who are most directly affected by issues of social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. The upcoming application deadline for the General Fund is August 30th. For more information, click here. 5. Small-Town Philanthropy: More than Money When Bonnie Hildreth talks about her community, her hands track her excitement. They begin to move slowly, up and down, as she talks about the Barry Community Foundation’s work organizing young people to become philanthropists. But they really get going, spinning one around the other like a windmill, when she talks about youth taking charge themselves. One boy, Eli, calls once a month. He started with a grant to make garden stones and now writes grant requests for his Boy Scout troop. The work of the Barry Community Foundation in Michigan is an example of how a foundation’s role extends beyond grantmaking to becoming a community convener, capacity builder and policy advocate. With national foundations reducing their support for rural areas, Hildreth and her colleagues have found a way to change the community direction. To access the full story, click here.
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6. Oregon Brewers Guild: Nearly One Out of Two Pints across the Bar is Oregon-Brewed The Oregon Brewers Guild released 2012 production figures that show that Oregon's brewing industry continues the robust growth of the last several years, and one in particular stands out: 47percent of all draft beer sold in Oregon was brewed in Oregon...and that's just part of the good news. Here's the press release: The Oregon Brewers Guild announced today that Oregon’s breweries brewed 1,296,000 barrels of beer (about 40 million gallons) during 2012, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. As employment figures continued to strengthen in Oregon, the state’s brewing companies added more than 900 jobs in 2012 and directly employed more than 6,400 people. “Double digit increases in production numbers means the craft brewing industry is continually hiring more people,” says Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “Making 130,000 more barrels than the previous year positively affects the hop farmer, the barley grower, the industry supplier and the 6,400 people employed by the Oregon craft beer industry.” To access the full story, click here. 7. Judge Orders BLM to Sell More Timber A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to sell more timber in Southern Oregon, and vacated a system federal scientists use to avoid harming the northern spotted owl. The ruling out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia came in a case filed by the timber industry against the Department of Interior. Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that BLM has failed to consistently offer as much timber as called for in its 1995 resource management plans for the Medford and Roseburg districts since 2004. And he found that a computer model used by government agencies to estimate spotted owl numbers in timber sale areas was adopted without input from the public, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act. He prohibited government agencies from using the protocol until it goes through a public comment process. The ruling did not address whether timber sales that have been sold based on the invalidated owl estimation protocol, but not yet cut, were still valid. To access the full story, click here. 8. Two Hours After the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked these measures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts agreed that both the strict voter ID law and the redistricting map would disproportionately target the state’s fast-growing minority communities. Still, Texas filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act case complaining that the DOJ had used “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” to thwart the state’s attempts at voter suppression. Page 3 of 5
To access the full story, click here. 9. US Cycling From a Dutch Perspective While a delegation from Portland Oregon was visiting my hometown ’s-Hertogenbosch and some other places in the Netherlands to experience Dutch cycling, I was looking at cycling in the United States. Not that that was the main goal of my journey -I was in the US for a self-paid holiday and to visit friends- but I couldn’t help seeing and recording what some of the cycling and the infrastructure was like. (Video at the end of this post.) Of course I know it is not really possible to say something in general about “cycling in the US”. There are many different places with very different cycling cultures. But I have now visited the US so often and I have been in so many places, that I do observe some general patterns that I think may be interesting to share. The main difference between the US and the Netherlands is that cycling is not seen as transportation in the US by the general public. Only very few people use the bicycle to go from A to B for their daily business. For the average American cycling is something kids do or when you do cycle as an adult, it is mainly for recreational purposes. And you dress up for the part: wearing hi-viz, a helmet, with a bicycle to match, one the Dutch would call a ‘race bike’. To access the full story (and video), click here. 10. Kitzhaber Signs Energy Bill Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed three pieces of energy-related legislation Tuesday morning. Senate Bill 692 calls for several items ˜ battery chargers, certain exterior lights, most televisions ˜ to be subject to energy efficiency standards. SB 242 sets emissions standards on, specifically, utilities that use coal to generate electricity. And House Bill 2801 establishes energy performance scores that measure the efficiency of houses and buildings. To access the full story, click here. 11. Executive at Monsanto Wins Global Food Honor When it comes to agriculture, the World Food Prize is the equivalent of the Oscars. This year, the prestigious award went the mastermind behind Monsanto’s big move into genetically modified crops. In foodie terms, that is like a commercial blockbuster winning best picture rather than an independent, artsy film. Started in 1987, the prize aims to recognize people who improve the “quality, quantity or availability” of food in the world. The founder of the award, Norman E. Borlaug, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 as the father of the Green Revolution, which vastly increased grain output. To access the full story, click here.
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12. Old McDonald Might Be A Lady: More Women Take Up Farming More women are getting into farming, according to a from the U.S Department of Agriculture. The agency crunched numbers from the Agriculture Census and found that the number of U.S. farms operated by women nearly tripled over the past three decades, from 5 percent in 1978 to 14 percent by 2007. Women are running farms of all sizes, but the majority have had annual sales of less than $10,000, USDA says. In fact, about 42 percent of those operations were so small, they had sales of just $1,000 or less. These women seem to be part of a growing trend among both genders: new farm enterprises that make less than $1,000 per year but show the potential to make more. To access the full story, click here. 13. Mug Shots: Bots Scour Google Maps to Find Faces in the Land We humans tend to see faces where they don’t actually exist. Clouds, the moon, grilled cheese; it’s all a canvas for our imaginations. The psychological tendency to see meaningful images in vague visuals actually has a name—pareidolia—and it’s the basis for a mesmerizing new project. Berlin-based design studio Onformative created Google Faces, an algorithm-based system that searches Google Maps’ satellite images for landscapes that resemble the human face. The design team, made of up Cedric Kiefer and Julia Laub, stumbled on the idea after previous facial recognition projects kept generating false positives (detecting facial images where there are none). “We asked ourselves, could a machine using an algorithm find the same faces in nature that a human would recognize?” Kiefer says. “We wanted to explore if this psychological phenomenon could be replicated in a machine.” To find out, the team created a two part system consisting of one computer running Google Maps and the other running a bot programmed with a facial recognition algorithm that simulates pareidolia. Functioning like a human Google Maps user, the facetracking bot autonomously clicks its way around the world, stopping to gather data whenever it comes across a landscape that resembles a face. To access the full story, click here.
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