If you haven't stocked up yet, try a local store
When I was a kid, I loved Halloween (okay, honestly, I still do). Like most kids, I loved it for the candy, and I always went for the chocolate: Hershey Bars, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and so much more.
Photo by Jeff Turner
But for me, the very best candy was from Hebert's, the local candy shop that's been in my hometown in Massachusetts for nearly a century. Their "store" is a big old house, which they call the Candy Mansion and it was packed wall to wall with every sort of candy, all of it homemade. I remember it seeming like Willy Wonka's factory when I was a kid; it was larger than life.
Sadly, I won't find Hebert's candies where I live now. In fact, you have to make a real effort to find any local candy at Halloween. That's because over 99 percent of Halloween candy is made by just three mega-companies.
That's right. For all the types of little, individually wrapped chocolates you see on the shelves at Halloween, 99.4 percent of it is made by just 3 companies: Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé. Those are your only choices — and that really is scary.
Food & Water Watch’s research team has found this trend throughout the supermarket, not just in the candy aisle. Across the board, our food is being produced by fewer and fewer companies, despite all the brands that we see on the shelves. This is a serious problem. When just three companies control virtually all of our candy (or any other category of food), the choices we make are just an illusion. Those companies have all the power over what we eat.
Want to avoid genetically engineered ingredients? Good luck.
Do you prefer real sugar over high-fructose corn syrup?They don't care.
Are you trying to create a better world by supporting the right businesses when you shop? That only works if you have several options to choose among — and increasingly, you don't.
That's why we're challenging the unchecked power of these corporations this Halloween. If we want to change the system, first …more
A year after Sandy struck the north-east US, a view from Staten Island, the hardest-hit New York borough
I remember the water coming from the ocean," says Anna Maglione-Buono.
"And the thing I remember most is that I was very guilty that the kids were in the house with us. I was not scared for me and my husband. I was more scared for the children."
Photo by Tommy Miles
A year ago, as hurricane Sandy approached America’s north-east, Maglione-Buono, 49, was in her home in South Shore, just 200m from Staten Island’s eastern coast. As the ocean rose amid the howling winds, water washed up over the beach and began to lap at Father Capodano Boulevard, the expressway at the top of Maglione-Buono's street.
The Buono family had decided to stay at home, despite their area being classed as evacuation zone A – the most likely to be dangerously affected. They could remember similar warnings about hurricane Irene a year earlier. That storm had come to nothing. Maglione-Buono said that by the time she realized this one was different, it was too late to leave. As the hurricane lashed Staten Island, her son Nicholas, 19, ran out with a neighbor in an attempt to reach the family's car and get to higher ground.
"They came running back saying that the water was coming,” Maglione-Buono told The Guardian in an interview on Staten Island, almost a year to the day since the storm hit.
"Behind them was a wave of water following them. When they got to the front steps, the water came from the corner, hit the building, made a big splash, and then it was non-stop. It literally was an ocean coming at us."
The Buonos’ street dips downhill away from the beach. The water gushed down the road and within minutes their home, a two-story, three-bedroom 1930s house, was flooded. The water rose to 7ft high in their ground floor. The family watched it creep up the stairs as they huddled in a bedroom, occasionally glancing out onto the street, where water was rising outside their neighbors’ homes.
Down the block, Patty Chiaramonte, 49, and her son Alex April, 21, had also ignored the warnings. They were in their kitchen as the storm approached.
“We were in the room about to eat dinner and we hear the back door open,” April remembered. “Then …more
As the private firefighting industry has grown, so too has its political clout
As the Rim Fire burnt its way into the record books this summer, hundreds of firefighters, as well as fire engines, airplanes, helicopters, and bulldozers, were used to try and bring the blaze under control. Sparked by a hunter’s illegal campfire, the blaze, which crossed into Yosemite National Park, was the third largest in California’s history. Hundreds of square miles were burnt and more than $100 million were spent fighting it.
Photo courtesy Coconino National Forest
Firefighting is an expensive business, and much of that business is going to private companies. Contractors now supply local and national agencies with everything from fire engines to firefighters. The largest employer in this multi-million dollar industry is the United States Forest Service. Over the past three decades, private companies have become a familiar sight on fire lines around the country where green Forest Service trucks are frequently joined by fire engines marked with the logos of private firefighting companies.
US Forest Service Chief, Tom Tidwell, says the use of private contractors makes economic sense for the agency. “They don't work unless there's a fire,” he says. “It's a business risk they have to take, and it provides us with more flexibility.” “The Chief” as he is known in the agency, was in Oakland last year for an event promoting urban forestry where he hinted at a greater role for private firefighting in the future. “As we see more fires there may be more people who get into the business,” he said, Tidwell, however, insisted that this wouldn’t change the agency’s approach to firefighting.
Not everyone is convinced by that assurance. As the private firefighting industry has grown, so too has its influence on politicians and government. Despite, the rapid growth of the industry, there has been little public debate about the role of these companies until now. “Why is fire management on public lands being turned over to profit-seeking corporations?” asks Timothy Ingalsbee, Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology. “They don't share the same interests as folks with a vision of long-term stewardship.” The main …more
Graphic Photo: Vigilantes in Wyoming Enact “Justice” Against Wolves
“Fed Up in Wyoming” reads the caption under this stunning photograph posted on a hunter's Facebook page (reproduced here under Fair Use). The photo is yet more evidence that, two years after political reactionaries led a successful campaign in the House of Representatives and then the Senate to remove the North Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the endangered species list, the slaughter of wolves continues to escalate as wolf hunters fall deeper in their paranoid fantasy that the wolf represents a liberal conspiracy against rural communities.
The Facebook page that originally posted the image belongs to two Wyoming hunting outfitters, Colby and Codi Gines. The Gines run CG Wilderness Adventures, headquartered in a highly remote part of Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forest, bordering on the southeast section of Yellowstone National Park. “Wyoming is God’s country, and we invite you to come see it for yourself,” says the Gines’ website.
Their invitation evidently does not extend to wolves. Driven extinct in most of the continental US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the wolf returned to the American landscape in 1995, when the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves captured in the Canadian Rockies to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Conservationists saw as the return of the wolf as a crowning accomplishment to renew the wilderness, and millions of Americans came to celebrate the wolf's comeback. But by 2009 a virulent opposition movement opposed to the wolf had formed. Made up of hunters and outfitters, ranchers, and far-right groups, these forces coalesced around a cultural mythology in which wolves became demons — disease ridden, dangerous foreign invaders — who served as icons of the hated federal government. (Read Cry Wolf, our in-depth report on this issue.)
With the Klan-like hoods and the ostentatious display of the American flag, the photo is a glimpse into the mentality of those behind the anti-wolf campaign. There is, apparently, a cohort of people who view the destruction of wild nature as something to be celebrated, something quintessentially America. They are play acting at both patriotism and rebellion. And, in their play-acting, they reveal a great deal about the paranoid fantasies that have gripped some people in the age of Obama.
The Facebook comments following the photo are especially revealing. Among those who LIKE this …more
A view from the bottom of the commodity chain reveals the comedy, and tragedy, of human exploits in nature
As I stumble from my bunk, I come eye to toe with a smelly, sock-coated foot. Shaking sleepily, I stagger out to conjure up grimy, cheap coffee, which I drink with tasteless cereal and a waxy apple. As the boat engine rumbles to life, I leap out on deck to coil anchoring lines. The fog is dense, and our brief commute to open water teems with life. The marina seals resemble neighborhood dogs, barking and flopping lazily atop rust crusted buoys. Sea otters can be spotted floating on their backs, rubbing their bellies. This serenity is shattered by a shout from the captain, and we jump into our uniforms, though to call it a “uniform” is generous. We wear orange foul-weather gear over loose sweats, and from a distance, we may well be mistaken for traffic cones with arms.
Photo by Marcel Holyoak
If you’re still wondering to which curious circus I’ve come for employment, look no further than the Monterey Harbor, roughly 100 miles south from San Francisco. I’m on a commercial squid fishing boat, one of some 25 purse seiners stationed in the area. ‘Seiners’ are large vessels that use a small skiff clipped to the aft, which draws a net around schooling fish. Once the net surrounds a school, one heavy side sinks and another floats, forming a submersible wall. A thick line is pulled along the bottom to “purse up,” creating an inescapable bowl that holds squid and whichever hapless creatures swim too near.
As the hydraulic system winches the massive, dripping net onboard, crabs and sponges shower onto my head. For anyone who connotes jellyfish with ethereal beauty, I submit that squid fishing will quickly change your mind. Jellyfish are the new bane of my existence, and their blooms fill California’s coastal waters. Not a day goes by when I am not smacked in the face with a dripping, gelatinous wad. Jelly stingers permeate the surrounding water, so when this firewater runs down your shirtfront, your nerves resoundly kick you in the brain. Fortified as you may be against the water with thick waterproof clothing, the slightest opening in the jacket sends even the most stoic fisherman into …more
Last weekend’s youth climate summit felt like the beginning of something new
I stood on the plenary floor watching thousands of young people arrive to the fourth youth climate summit, Power Shift 2013. Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders was speaking, closing out our first night. He led us in a chant that I think I will always remember, not for its simplicity, but for the adrenaline mixed with immense hope that ran through my veins as I said the words over and over and louder and louder, “I believe that we will win.”
Shadia Fayne Wood | Project Survival Media
When I think of this year’s Power Shift one word comes to mind: Beginning. In a way, this is strange, because the recent gathering was by no means our first Power Shift, or our largest, or our loudest. But it finally felt like the youth climate movement had arrived.
To be clear, we haven’t figured it all out. Our strategies not fine-tuned. Our work to connect various strands of social justice and environmental movements is just starting in earnest. And we are still learning how to truly make space for communities most impacted by climate change to lead this movement.
But we are finding the true meaning of “home” in the hearts of our sisters and brothers in the fight for climate justice. We are discovering the true meaning of “solidarity” by creating an intersectional movement not bound by a single issue, but instead forged by our values. We are realizing the true meaning of “love” as we stand together, decolonizing our minds and putting our bodies on the line for what we believe.
This Power Shift has shown me that the movement I have worked so hard to build over the last eight years has emotionally grown to be a powerful force not just in words, but in deeds. Not just in direct actions, but in how we do what we do.
The first night of Power Shift 2013, we welcomed Dr. Reverend Gerald Durley on stage to preach to young people about the civil rights movement. A short video from Leo Gerard, the International President of the United Steelworkers Union, spoke about his union’s commitment to an environmentally sustainable clean energy economy. And Ta’kaiya Blaney, a 12-year-old girl, talked passionately about Indigenous Peoples rights and the rights of Mother Earth. Each of these speakers left me with chills – …more
A Reflection from Powershift 2013
I was never a youth climate activist. In college I skied the many hills around my campus in Wyoming, never giving a second thought to much besides which ski run had recently been groomed. Those same woods are now hollowed out by the bark beetle, whose voracious hunger has grown right in step with a longer summer and warmer winter, fueled by climate change.
And so I looked upon the thousands of climate activists who came from around the country to Powershift 2013 in Pittsburgh this past weekend with amazement. Say what you want about their musical choices – I don’t get Gaga and doubt I ever will – but don’t you say a word about their commitment to something larger than themselves.
I only know the history of Powershift through idle talk. I know that Energy Action Coalition’s founder, Billy Parish, now making waves at Solar Mosaic, and his cohorts organized the first Powershift in 2005 with the goal of bringing together the disparate parts of the youth climate movement to one place where they could meet and do the first thing that’s needed for organizing – talk to each other.
The Energy Action Coalition (which is an Earth Island-sponsored project) now has new leadership, as the amazing Maura Cowley works hard to help facilitate the different interests within the youth climate movement. On Powershift’s final night she addressed the crowd and said what I think everyone in the room was thinking. Organizing is messy, it’s unruly, and it ain’t easy – but it’s the youth activists there who would make or break the climate movement.
It’s clear from being at Powershift that the youth movement could easily fracture. Later, after Maura’s excellent speech, a ragtag few interrupted a program enjoyed by the many. That’s their right, and the crowd heard them out before their welcome quickly wore out. But the interruption was a symbol of the difficulties that may lay ahead.
This is the age of identity politics. It’s a blessing that there are so many different ideas, ideologies, and individuals that represent the movement; that diversity, if nurtured, will be the key to finally broadening the movement out beyond the usual suspects, a prerequisite to winning. Yet if the differences become too …more