Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hessel, inspiration for Occupy Mov't dies at 95...urges resistance to financial markets and corporate greed

Drawing on his experience in the Resistance, Hessel called on his readers to remember — and continue to fight for — the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

He wrote on the importance of indignation and encouraged “our younger generations” to rekindle the spirit of the Resistance in a non-violent battle against injustice.
“It’s time to take over! It’s time to get angry!” he wrote. “Politicians, economists, intellectuals, do not surrender! The true fabric of our society remains strong. Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere. I wish all of you to find your reason for indignation. This is a precious thing.” (from "Stephane Hessel, Occupy Wall Street inspiration, dead at 95" by Helene Fouquet, Washington Post, in Toronto Star, February 27, 2013, below)
  • freedom of speech,
  • freedom of worship,
  • freedom from want and
  • freedom from fear.....
These struggles, and for many they are becoming more intense and desperate struggles, are not either rocket science or radical goals. They are simply requisite freedoms for a legitimate and dignified human existence. And the fact that world financial markets are threatening peace and democracy everywhere, and hence access to these legitimate freedoms, as Hessel wrote, must be pointed out again and again if our legitimate freedoms are to be protected and preserved. And, simply by pointing them out again and again, we are not necessarily winning the contest to protect and preserve them.
Even by occupying city parks, and open spaces, and magnetizing hordes of reporters and cameras and twitter and facebook accounts, and even by resisting arrest in some cases, we are not necessarily protecting and preserving our freedoms.
There is a cognitive disconnect between espousing these freedoms, as most do, and then proceeding to pawn off credit default instruments on unsuspecting purchasers as if those instruments had authentic value. There is also an ethical disconnect between espousing these freedoms and then holding crazy-glue-fast to the right to bear weapons of the AR-15 variety designed for military purposes, as a "protection" for one's family.
These is also a political disconnect between espousing these freedoms and blocking tax increases for the most wealthy, thereby failing to protect the very social net that serves to honour our mutual commitment to each other.
In fact, without our mutual commitment to each other not only are these freedoms in peril, but the fabric of the culture begins to unravel.There are a few  Roman Catholic cardinals on their way to Rome to elect a new pontiff, who have been quoted as saying that the greatest problem in the world is the rise of individualism...
And individualism, taken to its extreme, shreds the social compact of mutual care, of mutual compassion, of mutual commitment and of mutual solidarity to protect and preserve what is considered the sine qua non of a reasonably healthy and productive human existence. It is the individualism of the corporation, and their power to control the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and actions of millions, in pursuit of the bottom line profit and shareholder dividends, at the expense of the dignity of those individual human beings who make it possible for those very same corporations even to exist, both their workers and their clients, that threatens the freedoms that both Roosevelt and Hessel were speaking/writing about. And it is those same corporations who spend billions lobbying for legislation that preserves and protects their unfettered pursuit of those profits and dividends, and also lobbying to block any legislation that would impede their pursuit of those profits and dividends.
A new book, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, points to the producers of the foods and beverages that we eat as dedicating their efforts to seduce their customers to consume more and more of the three most dangerous commodities, salt, sugar and fat, to which humans can and do become addicted, in the same way that alcoholics become addicted to their dependency on alcoholic beverages.
From the Amazon website, here is a description of the book:
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.
In the spring of 1999 the heads of the world’s largest processed food companies—from Coca-Cola to Nabisco—gathered at Pillsbury headquarters in Minneapolis for a secret meeting. On the agenda: the emerging epidemic of obesity, and what to do about it.
Increasingly, the salt-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods these companies produced were being linked to obesity, and a concerned Kraft executive took the stage to issue a warning: There would be a day of reckoning unless changes were made. This executive then launched into a damning PowerPoint presentation—114 slides in all—making the case that processed food companies could not afford to sit by, idle, as children grew sick and class-action lawyers lurked. To deny the problem, he said, is to court disaster.
When he was done, the most powerful person in the room—the CEO of General Mills—stood up to speak, clearly annoyed. And by the time he sat down, the meeting was over.
Since that day, with the industry in pursuit of its win-at-all-costs strategy, the situation has only grown more dire. Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.
In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century—including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more—Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.
Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
And this from today's National Post:
By Canadian Press, in National Post, February 28, 2013
A hamburger or stir-fry from a chain restaurant may contain the total recommended daily amount of sodium Canadians should consume, a new study shows.

The amount of sodium in some sandwiches and even salads from fast food or sit-down restaurants were also found to go off the chart.
Consume less salt, more potassium to beat heart disease risks: new WHO guidelines
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on Thursday recommending adults consume less salt and include a minimum amount of potassium in their daily diets to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
“Adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium, or (less than) 5 grams of salt, and at least 3,510 mg of potassium per day,” the United Nations agency said in a statement.
Previously the WHO had recommended 2 grams of sodium but the new guidelines added the words “less than,” said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.
The University of Toronto study of restaurant foods from 85 chain restaurants found that, on average, a single menu item from a sit-down restaurant, such as a hamburger, sandwich or stir-fry, contained almost 100% of the daily recommended amount of sodium, or an average of 1,455 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Side dishes contained almost half that, an average of 736 milligrams of sodium. The daily recommended amount of sodium is 1,500 milligrams and no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. But study authors found that the average Canadian consumes 3,400 milligrams per day.
Many foods geared toward children were also found to be high in sodium.
So even as we sit at our breakfast tables, our lunch cafes, and our dinner tables, we are being seduced into behaviour that is literally killing us,  robbing us of our health, robbing us of years of healthy and productive life, while those "feeding" us line their individual and collective pockets with profits and dividends. And those same corporations are also spending millions in lobbyists to protect and preserve their "right" to profit from killing their customers "with the bliss point" of salt, sugar and fat.
We have, to be blunt about, become the means to the corporate ends of these companies, and in the process we are literally killing our selves, maiming our national budgets and constricting our freedoms, those same freedoms that Roosevelt and Hessel were championing.
Will the starvation approach of Tibetan monks and First Nations leaders have to become the next political "statement" in order to draw attention to the death sentence we are all complicit in imposing on ourselves, our children and our grandchildren?
Is this "melodramatic rhetoric" as some will label it?
I think not.
It is merely a plea for solidarity against the tsunami of corporate profit and greed gone wild, and in the process running roughshod over the national capacity to pay the bills, something that Hessel would understand, and against which he would urge us all to push back, in whatever ways we deem appropriate.

Stephane Hessel, Occupy Wall Street inspiration, dead at 95


Stephane Hessel, the author of the best-selling book Indignez-vous!, which inspired protests like Occupy Wall Steet, has died.

By Helene Fouquet Washington Post, in Toronto Star, Februaruy 27 2013

PARIS—Stephane Hessel, the author of the best-selling book Indignez-vous!, which inspired protests like Occupy Wall Street in New York and Los Indignados in Spain, has died. He was 95.
The former United Nations diplomat, concentration-camp survivor and hero of the French Resistance, died “during the night,” his wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told Agence France-Presse.
Hessel became famous in 2010 when he published his 32-page protest manifesto, with millions of copies that went into print in 30 languages — including an English version, titled “Time for Outrage.”
Drawing on his experience in the Resistance, Hessel called on his readers to remember — and continue to fight for — the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
He wrote on the importance of indignation and encouraged “our younger generations” to rekindle the spirit of the Resistance in a non-violent battle against injustice.
“It’s time to take over! It’s time to get angry!” he wrote. “Politicians, economists, intellectuals, do not surrender! The true fabric of our society remains strong. Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere. I wish all of you to find your reason for indignation. This is a precious thing.”
Born in Berlin in 1917, Hessel moved to France in his childhood and became a French citizen. He participated in the UN group that drafted the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights, adopted in 1948. He later worked in Vietnam and Algeria and participated in French politics.


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