Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for January 2010

The State of the Union Address – Updated with Sarah’s reponse :)

I volunteered to do a live blog ’cause our aged member across the pond claims it’ll be past his bedtime.  I’m posting it a bit early to give folks a chance to settle in and discuss what they want the president to say or not say.

The president steps up to the podium sometime after 9:00pm ~ after the entrances by the cabinet and whatnot.  And after he’s gladhanded members of Congress who reach out their hands like teenaged groupies (I hollered like a 12-year-old when I saw him during the primaries so I can say that). Just, please, no Bachmann/Bush-style kissing allowed.  Blech!

Then the president will stand at the podium for five minutes saying, “Thank you!  Thank you!” while members of the Democratic Caucus cheer and Republicans … don’t.  Then all with settle down and the president will begin his address.

Journalism’s Role in Educating Africa About What it Eats

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Africa HarvestThis is the second in a two-part series of my visit to Africa Harvest in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Daniel Kamanga, the Director of Communications of Africa Harvest, and former journalist, says that journalism in Africa has to overcome many challenges, including a general lack of coverage on agriculture issues-let alone a deeper understanding about who is funding agricultural development in Africa. “No one knows who Bill [Gates] is in Africa,” lamented Kamanga. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the biggest and most influential funders of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. (See Filling a Need for African-Based Reporting on Agriculture).

“You can’t have a revolution in Africa if people aren’t briefed,” says Kamanga, referring to the call for a Green Revolution in Africa by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Although agriculture makes up about 98 percent of the economy in Kenya, it’s barely covered in the country’s newspapers. And there are not any agricultural editors at any of the newspapers on the entire continent.

But it’s not just a question of reporters having more knowledge, according to Kamanga. It’s also a matter of compensation. African journalists are typically paid very little compared to journalists in other countries. In Burkina Faso, reporters receive just 160 dollars per month. As a result, many journalists see bribes as a way to supplement their income.

Yet with newspaper and media consolidation, fierce competition for advertisers, and lackluster economic conditions in Africa and all over the world, it’s a trend that might only get worse.

China’s growth: still real

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

This week, the Chinese government announced that China’s economy had expanded by a stronger-than-anticipated 10.7 percent in the last quarter of 2009 and that it had grown 8.7 percent for the entire year. This news, however, was not greeted with relief but with the skepticism that has typically met such news emanating from China in recent years. The Wall Street Journal ran a story on its front page with the headline “China Seeks to Tame Boom, Stirs Growth Fears.”  

Well, That’s Embarrassing…

When you are attempting to hold the moral highground, it’s generally a good idea not to wallow in the gutter with common criminals.  Unfortunately, this is a lesson that sometimes has to be learned at great pain and expense.

Politico has the story:

The FBI has arrested four men — including conservative anti-ACORN filmmaker James O’Keefe — for attempting to interfere with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) New Orleans office.

It’s all fun and games until you try to hack someone’s telecommunication system.  Then it’s a federal crime.

The Enthusiasm Gap- Real Quotes from Real Progressives

I’ve been thinking a lot about the insane enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans lately. I noticed a point where that gap began happening among people I know. When once politically-dominated conversations turned into “Can we talk about something else?” or “I don’t care anymore.”

Despite what the blogsphere might tell you, I don’t think it has anything to do with Obama or the public option or gays or not prosecuting Bush or even jobs (as most of my friends have one), I think it has more to do with the voters themselves. I warn you, we’re a generation that uses rough language. I will not make it PG for you;  

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 5

This is the last part of an analysis on the swing state Florida. The previous parts can be found here.

Miami-Dade County

Here is how John Kerry did in south Florida:


Here is how Barack Obama performed:


There is no other place in Florida (and, perhaps, the country) like Miami-Dade. Palm Beach and Broward counties are retiree destinations; Miami is home to immigrants and refugees from all Latin America. More than 60% of the population is Latino – and only 3% of them come from Mexico. The Miami accent is unique compared with the nation. Local government is distinct from other counties in Florida.

More below.

Obama McCain Hoover? Crazy Open Thread

Have I gone crazy, or is it everyone else?

Overnight there is news that the Obama administration is considering cutting around 2% of the budget in 2011 – this after a large stimulus package. But to go from the blogs I swing by, you’d think that the President had just invaded a small country, and started torturing the inhabitants.

The Great Blogfather on MYDD posts up these two images (the second stolen from FDL apparently.)

Building Knowledge About Biotechnology in Africa

This is the first of a two-part series to Africa Harvest, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

In our Nourishing the Planet project we’re looking at how farmers and researchers all over the world are combining high-tech and low-tech agricultural practices to help alleviate hunger and poverty. One place they’re trying to do this is at Africa Harvest/Biotech Foundation International. The organization’s mission is “to use science and technology, especially biotechnology, to help the poor in Africa achieve food security, economic well-being and sustainable rural development.”

And while the biotechnology component of their mission may be controversial to some, Africa Harvest is determined that Africa will not be left behind when it comes to the development-and use- of the technology by African researchers and farmers. As a result, the organization is focusing on breeding African crops for Africans. “If you want to make a difference on this continent,” says Daniel Kamanga, communications director for Africa Harvest, “you have to look at African crops.” These include staples such as banana, cassava, and sorghum, which are all important sources of nutrients for millions of Africans.

But these are also crops that are heavily impacted by diseases and pests. Bananas, for example, are susceptible to sigatoka virus, fusarium, weevils, nematodes, and others. To combat these problems, Florence Wambugu, the CEO of Africa Harvest and a scientist who formerly worked with Monsanto, helped develop Tissue Culture Banana (TC banana). Banana diseases are often spread through “unclean” planting material. But TC banana technology allows scientists to use biotechnology for the “rapid and large scale multiplication” of disease free bananas-a single shoot can produce 2,000 individual banana plantlets.

Africa Harvest is also working on biofortifying sorghum with Vitamin A, creating “golden sorghum.”

“But of course, there remains the thorny issue of control-among the biggest stumbling blocks for sharing any technology across countries and regions. Biotechnology has so far been largely owned by the private sector.” So, in addition to researching crop production, Africa Harvest is also working to improve capacity building for scientists all over Africa. “If we’re going to have GMOs on the continent,” says Kamanga, “we want scientists who know how to do it.” Along with that, Africa Harvest is working to strengthen regulatory systems for biotechnology.

And how does Africa Harvest respond to criticism about the development and use of biotechnology in agriculture? According to Kamanga, it’s an “old debate” and one that takes place in 5-star hotels, not in farmers’ fields. The issue now, he says, is how we make the best use of this technology.

Recommended Daily Irony: Chinese State Media on Internet Free Speech

Like a panda with a Fabrege Egg, Beijing paws out a torrent of controlled spontaneity in response to Google and Secretary of State Clinton’s recent public commentary about free speech on the Internet.

The Wall Street Journal has this today on the bureaucratic spasm over the Chinese Government’s waning control of the thoughts of its citizens:

Dozens of commentaries were published and broadcast across major state-run Chinese media for a second straight day Monday calling allegations by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Google Inc. hypocritical and accusing the Internet company of becoming a pawn in an American “ideology war.”

The media onslaught followed a series of statements from the government that dismissed both Mrs. Clinton’s remarks on Internet freedom last week and allegations by Google two weeks ago that sophisticated cyber attacks targeting it and many other U.S. companies had originated in China. The commentaries largely accused the U.S. of using “Internet freedom” as an excuse to incite anti-China forces, to infringe on other countries’ domestic affairs and to mislead Chinese Internet users.