Political Animal


February 17, 2013 9:21 AM Sunday Morning Reads

By Samuel Knight

-USA Today obtained a leaked draft of President Obama’s plan for immigration reform. At it’s core are proposals to offer permanent residency within eight years, more security funding, and a requirement that businesses check the immigration status of new hires “within four years.” The paper also reports that “the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created ‘Lawful Prospective Immigrant’ visa, under the draft bill being written by the White House.”

-Demonstrators will be gathering in DC today to call on President Obama to act on climate change. Author and activist Naomi Klein - who was arrested in September 2011 for protesting plans to build the Keystone Pipeline - tweeted this morning that she will be at the rally, and said that “this is one feels different…”

-In another development that could boost the morale of campaigners pushing to cut fossil fuel consumption, the Guardian - through a story supported by the transgenic agriculture-promoting Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ironically - reported that Indian farmers are boosting yields to record levels through a completely organic technique. The method that they’re using, the so-called System of Root Intensification, “has dramatically increased yields with wheat, potatoes, sugar cane, yams, tomatoes, garlic, aubergine and many other crops and is being hailed as one of the most significant developments of the past 50 years for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers and the two billion people who depend on them.”

-German Economy minister Philpp Roesler said that his country endorses the idea of a U.S.-E.U. Free trade agreement - an initiative touted by President Obama in his State of the Union on Tuesday. According to Reuters, Roesler cited a think tank study that concluded “per capita gross domestic product (GDP) would rise by 0.1 percent in the EU and 0.2 percent in the United States with the free trade deal if only customs barriers were abolished. But more could be expected if the governments introduced common technical standards, safety standards and competition rules.”

-A 29 year old woman died from complications arising from an abortion last week, and anti-abortion activists have been using the incident to advance their agenda. It kind of, however, reinforces the point that abortion should be legal: according to the National Abortion Federation, “Death occurs in 0.0006% of all legal surgical abortions (one in 160,000 cases),” but “in countries where abortion is illegal, it remains a leading cause of maternal death. An estimated 68,000 women worldwide die each year from unsafe abortions.”

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • c u n d gulag on February 17, 2013 10:36 AM:

    Hopefully, the great Ms. Klein is right.

    Maybe after Katrina, and last years Hurricane Sandy, people are starting to realize that this climate change sh*t is very, very real!

    It took the Cuyahoga River going up in flames (and not for the first time) in 1969 to motivate the government to pass the EPA and Clean Water Act (which was really about cleaning-up the waters, and keeping them clear adn clean, and not like Bush's Clear Skies Act, which wasn't meant to clear the skies of anyhing but birds).

  • jjm on February 17, 2013 1:03 PM:

    Great news about the Indian farmers! (Everyone should watch the French documentary, "The World According to Monsanto" to get a chill, but also to see how the third world farmers are fighting back against the patented GMO seeds. The pictures of the GMO plants in the midst of normal plants was startling: they were misshapen, twisted and clearly 'off'-- and the local ag specialists in India and Mexico were telling them to pull them out and burn them when they spotted them.)

  • Renai on February 17, 2013 1:57 PM:

    Of course changing the course on global climate change is all our current President's responsibility, while our Congress sits smirking out of well-fed faces, doing nothing...

  • Jim Reich on February 17, 2013 2:35 PM:

    There's only irony in the Gates foundation promoting an effective organic technology if you foolishly consider transgenics to be a conspiracy, rather than an agricultural technique, and that anyone supporting them is unremittingly and knowingly evil. They are both non-petroleum intensive, non-pesticide intensive ways to feed hungry people, and can reinforce each other rather than being in conflict.

    Really, organics and transgenics are only seen as contradictory because some fraction of activists are pushing a semi-religious ideology of natural purity, when they should be focusing on how to save the world from impending climate disaster, its people from disease and hunger, and prevent deforestation and species extinction by efficiently using the land we already have in production. For evidence this is a semis-religious issue, you need look no further than the comments here-- GMO plants just look "off" ... Yes, witchcraft, I can sense the evil in these plants, even through the documentary filmmaker's unbiased eye.

    I sincerely doubt the Gateses suddenly said "this software stuff is boring, the obvious next step is to devote our fortune to helping the world's poor, and also, we've always secretly wanted to do evil things to agriculture. Maybe we can make a few bucks off Monsanto stock, even though our long-term plan is to use up our fortune rather than growing it?

    Maybe people should consider the alternative hypothesis that they are pragmatists trying to solve a problem with no real ulterior motives?

  • JPS on February 17, 2013 3:24 PM:

    GREAT story on the System of Root Intensification. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    @Jim Reich:
    The evil of GMOs is that you are forbidden to collect and use the seeds for the next planting. Farmers reject them for that very good reason.

  • President Lindsay on February 17, 2013 8:21 PM:

    JPS: For probably half a century farmers have been buying hybrid seeds that will not breed true if you plant the seeds next year from this year's crop. That is a bogus, yet tirelessly trotted out, argument against GMO seeds. To use the word "evil" betrays your ideological ax that you're grinding here.

  • JPS on February 17, 2013 10:49 PM:

    The evil lies in the harsh legal tactics Monsanto wields, and the special laws they got passed, to prevent anyone from even trying it.
    Your emotional defense of GMOs reveals the ideological axe you're grinding here.