Friday, July 18, 2008

An Evening with Neil Young

For some time I have been excitedly awaiting the Thursday midnight showing of the Dark Knight, but it was overshadowed by another film I saw earlier in the evening...
I went to see the premier of Neil Young's new film CSNY:Deja Vu. It was a truly special evening, and Neil Young and others from the film were in attendance. I'm still processing it all today and it's hard to even write about it now. Just being so close to my all time hero Neil Young was enough to get to me, but the evening turned out to be something entirely more poignant and sincere...

Go see this film if you can. The movie documents the 2006 Freedom of Speech tour that launched CSNY around the country in protest of the current wars. After writing his Living with War album, and releasing it for free over the internet, Neil took things a step further and took the music on the road, inviting ABC war correspondent and writer Mike Cerre to "embed" with the band. The film combines documentation of the history of the band with relevations into how these 60-something rockers came together once again. Along the way they encounter impassioned supporters as well as those who storm out of the concert halls, waving middle fingers in the air as the band launches into Neil's "Let's Impeach the President" anthem for today. They campaign for veterans running for office, speak with veteran support groups as well as TV and radio hosts, both for and against their stance. Interviews with soldiers and families who have lost their sons and daughters change the film from a tour documentary into a call for action against the regime in power right now.

Neil & Mike Cerre were joined by Iraqi war veteran Josh Hisle and Gold Star Mother Karen Meridith (who were both in the movie) on stage after the showing for a few comments. Terry and I were sitting right in the front row, mostly because by the time we got there (one hour before the show) that's all that was left! But as it were, we were right there up close to Neil and his guests. It was the first time that Karen had seen the film and the second for Josh. Tears were flowing all around as Karen talked about her reaction to the film and asked the audience to remember her son and what he died for. As his tour in Iraq came to an end, her son had packed up and was waiting with his buddies to board a plane home, when they got the word that they had been reassigned for another year. Shipped off to another embattled zone, he was shot and killed after only 11 days. Karen has recently found out that it was friendly fire and is demanding an investigation by the military into his death. Josh was also featured in the film. He proudly served his first tour as a Marine in Iraq, believing he was doing good. After returning home to his wife and newborn child, he was re-activated. When he returned with new responsibilities of being a father, he was began to see beyond the U.S, lies and propaganda and it changed his whole perspective. He came out alive and is now using music to speak out against the war. He met Neil during the filming of this movie, and has remained close.

It was a gut wrenching and breathtaking 2 hours, and I feel so lucky and honored to have been there. CSNY/ Deja Vu opens in limited release on July 27th so please, go see this film if you can.
Here's Neil's interview with Charlie Rose:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Germany bans psticides to save bees

From the Seeds of Change Newsletter:

Germany Bans Pesticides to Prevent Bee Deaths

In late May, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety announced a ban on several pesticides implicated in the massive deaths of honeybees in the southern state of Baden Württemberg.

The ban affects eight neonicotinoid pesticides used in rapeseed and corn production that are alleged to be highly toxic to insects even at very low concentrations. This class of pesticides mimics the natural effects of nicotine and works as a neurotoxin to insects, causing paralysis that leads to death. Tests on dead bees from the affected region showed a buildup of the pesticide clothianidin (produced by Bayer Crop Science and manufactured under the trade names Poncho and Prosper) in 99 percent of the animals. The poison had been applied as a seed treatment, and according to Walter Haefeker, president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association, “Beekeepers in the region started finding piles of dead bees at the entrance of hives in early May, right around the time corn seeding takes place.”

The link between poison and bee death was so obvious that it prompted Germany’s federal agricultural research agency, the Julius Kuehn Institute, to issue a press release with the statement, “It can unequivocally be concluded that a poisoning of the bees is due to the rub-off of the pesticide ingredient clothianidin from the corn seeds.”

Bayer Crop Science attributes the deaths to an application error, blaming a seed company that neglected to use a substance to bind the pesticide to the treated seed, causing airborne dispersal of the chemical.

Across the Atlantic, Bayer faces a lawsuit from North Dakota beekeepers who blame the corporation for the death of thousands of bee colonies in 1995, when imidacloprid (trade named Gaucho), perhaps the most widely used neonicotinoid pesticide, was applied to the local rapeseed crop. In 1999 France banned Gaucho for use on sunflowers following the death of one third of the nation’s bees following the widespread use of the chemical, and has subsequently banned its use on sweetcorn and rejected Bayer’s application for clothianidin.

Joseph Cummins, a scientist for the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), a non-profit group directed at “providing critical and accessible scientific information to the public and to promoting social accountability and ecological sustainability in science” (according to the group’s website), has pointed to the ability of neonicotinoid pesticides to be damaging even when introduced to bees at sub-lethal levels. If the animals don’t die, the poison impairs the ability to navigate to the hive, and compromises immune systems, making bees susceptible to parasitic fungi and other disease agents implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder.

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