‘…Take genetically modified food. The scientific facts about the safety of GM food get badly distorted in what is essentially a values debate. Each side has its own opinion, and therefore it’s own view of the facts. Wouldn’t it be great if instead we could first objectively consider the hard scientific evidence, and then, separately, have the values debate about how some people don’t like big rich powerful companies like Monsanto, or corporate large scale agriculture, or the ways that human-made technology, for all its benefits, has also harmed the natural world.
‘This is not as naïve as it sounds. There is actually a proven model for doing precisely that. It’s an organization called the Health Effects Institute, created in 1980 by the EPA and automobile manufacturers to establish a trusted independent arbiter of the facts regarding the health effects of air pollution, facts those two sides were warring over and getting nowhere except deeper into expensive and time-consuming legal battles. Each side put up 50% of the money to create an independent organization – neither side has control – to analyze research already done or do original research when needed, creating HEI as, in effect, a science court empowered to rule on “the facts”…’
Should Activism Be Regulated?
‘Have you ever wondered why we’re allowed to say what we want on the Internet? It’s quite simply because it takes time to take control, erecting fences, passing laws. The Internet has been the equivalent of the Wild, Wild West, but bit by bit, we’re being reined in.
‘Maybe I, and thousands (millions?) of others, won’t even be able to write articles like this for much longer. Both the UK and the US are busy cracking down on whistleblowers, and journalism. The Leveson Inquiry into the ‘phone hacking scandal’ is being steered into regulation of the press. Likewise with the Media Shield law proposed by Feinstein in the US, and attempts to define ‘real journalists’ as only those in the paid employ of a regulated press.
‘The future for ‘the news’, it seems, will be vetted and embedded journalists, combined with automated AI-produced news stories, and an even more tightly controlled mainstream media. So far, we activists have had the ‘luxury’ of being able to read and speak relatively freely. But now, the stranglehold is getting serious, and it’s time to take action; instead of just reading and speaking, we need to step away from the Internet and come together…’
When are Groups Too Political for ‘Social Welfare’ Status?
‘In a letter dated March, 19, 2014, and publicly released last week, the IRS told liberal group Arkansans for Common Sense that it did not qualify for tax-exempt status under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code — the section for organizations “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”
‘“You are not primarily operated for the promotion of social welfare of the people of the community because your primary activities are the participation in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office,” stated the letter, which was redacted, as required by law, to omit identifying information about the group and candidates in question…’