Makers: Escaping the Pull of Big-Business

Image: Make Volume 40 - worth reading. It is a guide to
building a new paradigm and new local institutions. 
September 7, 2014 (LocalOrg) - A popular magazine that should probably be more popular is Make. While this is always subject to change in the future, for the time being, it is actually a magazine that empowers rather than manipulates like its competitors on the news stands. While Popular Mechanics may at one time in the distant past have actually helped people learn more about the world around them and enabled them to change it - it has become more of a clearing house for covert Fortune 500 propaganda amid a torrent of overt advertisements.

Co-Opting, Tainting the Maker Movement 

Perhaps understanding the power of the emerging maker-movement and the fact that an entire segment of the population is moving beyond helpless dependency on the Fortune 500, Popular Mechanics, as well as the special interests it represents, has attempted to co-opt it. Its latest issue with its cover story titled, "The Makers," features many of the prominent personalities within the maker movement. It also, however, features at least two picked straight from big business - including representatives from Autodesk who helped lead the charge for SOPA/ACTA as well as war profiteer General Electric.

Also in the Popular Mechanics issue was an insidious article titled, "Junk Science," with the subtitle, "Flawed studies, agenda-driven research, and open-door journals are putting the public at risk." One would expect to see a searing indictment of big-corporate R&D, fraudulent studies to push poison, GMO, and useless or dangerous pharmaceuticals - instead it was a defense of just these very big-business rackets and a condemnation of those attempting to expose them.

The article slams activists fighting to warn the public about the dangers of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, big-pharma vaccines, and big-agri's genetically modified organisms.

Clearly, Popular Mechanics couldn't care less about the principles of open source, decentralization, and progress promoted by the true maker community, and instead, is attempting to flatter them and bring them back into the fold as members of their dark, insidious club of corporate servitude. 

Beware: Facebook's "Soft Censorship"

September 5, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci - LocalOrg) - The Land Destroyer Report maintained a Facebook page under the name Anthony Cartalucci. Since 2009 it was used to express my personal thoughts regarding the news of the day, as well as share relevant links with followers. Today, Facebook, without warning or opportunity to appeal, decided that the Facebook account must be changed over to a "page." By doing so, all those following my account no longer would receive updates, because of Facebook's "news feed" filters.

The premise behind news feed filters is that people have too many "friends" and are following too many accounts, so they can't possibly manage all the content themselves. Therefore, Facebook will do it for them. We already know about the Facebook "experiment" where they intentionally manipulated the news feed of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users without their consent.

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks," stated in its abstract that:
We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.Not only are the findings troubling - illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds - but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.
Clearly manipulating users' news feeds possesses powerful propaganda and mass-manipulative influence - surely influence those with the resources would be willing to pay for. And that is exactly what Facebook has arranged for with their new "reach" system. Facebook's own explanation is as follows:
Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
Those involuntarily forced to switch from standard accounts over to "pages" will notice the "boost" feature below each post. This is where you are required to pay Facebook money to ensure people who voluntarily followed you to receive content from you, actually receive it. Obviously, this confers a major advantage to well-funded start-ups, established media outlets, and large, corporate-driven propaganda machines. For the independent or freelance journalist, analyst, or activist, Facebook has gone from an open platform to a cage of soft censorship.

GMO Golden Rice: The Scourge of Asia

August 9, 2014 (Ulson Gunnar -NEO) - Asia's dependency on rice cultivation for both subsidence and income is intuitively understood. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates the agricultural population of lowland rice cultivation in Asia to be over 470 million - larger than the entire population of the United States. Improvements in rice cultivation would stand to lift hundreds of millions from debt and poverty. Conversely, the disruption of rice cultivation would threaten to mire hundreds of millions in deeper debt, inescapable destitution, and all of the negative socioeconomic implications that follow.

Asia's rice farmers produce between 1-2 harvests a year depending on the climb and climate of any given region. They do so to sell their rice, generally to mills who in turn sell the final product to exporters or for domestic consumption. Out of each harvest, rice farmers keep a portion for their own consumption, but the vast majority of what they grow is for income.

The UK-based Rice Association claims there are up to 40,000 species of rice, with a wide variety of characteristics suitable for different markets and uses. Rice farmers grow those which local, national and regional markets are best suited to move. In nations where subsidies are offered for rice crops, cheap, easy to grow varieties are chosen. More desirable or exotic species are grown by independent farmers who have developed their own cooperative with millers, marketers and exporters. The rice Asians eat depends on both economic and market realities. The impoverished eat what is cheapest and most easily available, but not necessarily that which is healthiest.

Enter GMO: Problem, Reaction, Solution

Poor diet leads to vitamin deficiencies, a persistent problem among the impoverished. A lack of basic healthcare and education allows the otherwise easily rectified problem to continue unresolved. The World Health Organization (WHO) states on their website, "an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight." This statistic is global, not regionally specific to Asia, but Southeast Asia in particular suffers from such deficiencies.

WHO prescribes cheap vitamin supplements and the promotion of local gardens to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables that can easily solve not only vitamin A deficiency, but other deficiencies as well. WHO states, "for vulnerable rural families, for instance in Africa and South-East Asia, growing fruits and vegetables in home gardens complements dietary diversification and fortification and contributes to better lifelong health."