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|August 20 - 26, 2009
Free films to tackle GMOs
A group of Boulder residents opposed to the growing of genetically altered sugar beets on Boulder County open space have joined together to sponsor a free screening of two documentary films on Sunday, Aug. 23, at Boulder Theater.
Featured will be The Future of Food and The World According to Monsanto.
“We’re people who are long-term residents of Boulder,” says Steve Demos, one of the event’s sponsors. “We have no organization. We have no funding. We have no name. We sincerely want this to be grassroots Boulder showing up and voicing its opinion.”
Demos says the films help counter what he and the other sponsors believe was “biased and slanted information” presented by county officials to the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee, which voted 7 to 1 to approve the petition, and the Food and Agriculture Policy Council, which voted 10-3 against it.
Genetically modified crops became a hot-button issue in the county after six farmers petitioned the county to be allowed to grow Roundup Ready sugar beets on county agricultural land. The farmers say they need to grow Roundup Ready beets, which have been genetically altered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, in order to remain competitive. Since being introduced last year, Roundup Ready sugar beets have captured 95 percent of the markets, with some Colorado farmers reporting greater profitability and greater yields.
The Boulder County Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 5 p.m. to decide whether to grant the farmers’ petition.
“This is representative democracy at its best,” Demos says. “If you don’t show up and don’t voice your opinion about local community issues, then you’re really not part of the process. To reverse that, this is all about getting public opinion to the elected representatives so they know clearly where the vast majority of Boulder stands on this issue.”
Demos and other volunteers have been gathering signatures on a petition they plan to present to the County Commissioners at the meeting. Based on anecdotal evidence, Demos says the majority of people he’s spoken with are opposed to the growing of GMOs on county land, while some have told him they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. Others — about 10 percent, he said — have indicated they support the growing of GMOs.
“We’re really trying to amplify grassroots democracy,” he says.
Demos says he hopes the films will provide needed information to those who are confused by what they’ve learned so far or who are unfamiliar with the issue.
Doors open at 5 p.m., and the first film will begin promptly at 6. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Shop for a cause
Curves is sponsoring a BeadParty on Tuesday, Sept. 1, to support BeadforLife, a nonprofit that sells Fair Trade recycled paper jewelry handmade by women in Uganda. There will be African music, as well as food and beverages. Beaded jewelry will also be available.
BeadforLife was started by Boulder resident Torkin Wakefield and her friends Ginny Jordan and Devin Hibbard after they discovered Ugandan women working in a quarry crushing rock by hand for $1 a day.
These women now make $5-7 a day turning magazines into colorful beads for bracelets and necklaces that are sold all over the world.
“We are so thrilled by this Curves partnership,” says Heather Ditillo, North American program director of BeadforLife. “There is such amazing strength when women join together, and we are so blessed that Curves has opened their hearts and ‘home’ to BeadforLife. We look forward to a fun and meaningful evening.”
The Curves BeadParty will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at 3127 28th St. in Boulder. The jewelry ranges in cost from $5 to $30, and the profits return to Uganda to fight extreme poverty, specifically in the areas of health care, housing and business training initiatives.
For more information on BeadforLife, visit www.BeadforLife.org. For more information on Curves, go to www.curves.com, or call 303-440-7660.
Safety at Chautauqua
The Colorado Chautauqua Association (CCA) announced on Aug. 14 that it is launching a new “Keep Chautauqua Safe” audience and building safety program for its sold-out auditorium concerts on Aug. 22 , Aug. 30 and Sept. 11, restricting access in some areas immediately adjacent to the auditorium. Due to crowd overflow around the Chautauqua Auditorium, CCA has become increasingly concerned about public safety issues. Primary among these concerns is the maintaining of clear, passable avenues of egress for up to 1,300 concert patrons in the event of a rapid evacuation of the auditorium.
City of Boulder fire officials have counseled the CCA concerning this issue. According to Dave Lowrey, Boulder chief fire marshal, “Steps must be taken to keep all doorways, sidewalks and the exterior stairs clear of people and belongings. CCA must keep these areas clear so that audience members inside the auditorium can quickly and safely exit the structure in an emergency. Exiting and egress out of and away from any structure is one of the most critical elements in a life safety plan.”
CCA’s Keep Chautauqua Safe plan will be implemented at the Aug. 22, 30 and Sept. 11 concerts. Steps to ensure audience and building safety will include new measures to:
—Keep roads clear for emergency vehicular access.
—Keep clear the areas immediately surrounding the auditorium, particularly on the east and north sides. These areas will be cordoned off in advance and will be monitored to ensure that they are kept clear.
—Increase security staff
—Ensure there is no smoking or flammable materials within 25 feet of the historic auditorium
Those interested in having picnics and listening to the music will be encouraged to take advantage of the lawn below and to the north of the auditorium, east of the Dining Hall. “We know some people will be disappointed,” said Jim Turner, CCA’s director of operations, “but public safety and historic building preservation must come first.”
CCA completed a formal risk assessment of the entire 26 acres of buildings, grounds and operations under its jurisdiction that resulted in a comprehensive risk mitigation plan. The initial implementation of the Keep Chautauqua Safe program will be monitored, assessed and used to inform future decision-making. CCA says it will continue to work closely with the Boulder Fire Department to keep the 111-year old National Historic Landmark district safe for the long term.
Anti-gay violence up in Iraq
In January, a video began circulating on mobile phones in Baghdad showing men dancing provocatively with one another at a party.
At the time, many Iraqis considered the video a sign of how much life in Iraq had normalized, an indication of new freedoms.
But activists and some gays in Baghdad say the video instead served as a trigger for a systematic campaign of killings and persecution of gays by Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias.
The Iraqi LGBT, a London-based group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis, says it has documented 87 killings in Iraq related to anti-gay sentiments since the beginning of the year, including six in the past two weeks.
And in a report released Monday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch says the numbers killed during the past few years because they were gay or suspected of being gay could run into “hundreds,” adding that the government isn’t doing enough to protect the rights of gays in Iraq.
“Murders are committed with impunity... with corpses dumped in garbage or hung as warnings on the street,” the report says. “The killers invade the privacy of homes, abducting sons or brothers, leaving their mutilated bodies in the neighborhood the next day.”
Among the tortures described to Human Rights Watch researchers by gays and doctors is the practice of injecting glue into men’s anuses. Human Rights Watch says that according to the gays it interviewed, the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, “bears primary responsibility and launched the killing in early 2009.”
Human Rights Watch does not specifically attribute the recent rise in killings to the circulation of the party video, but that’s when gays in Baghdad say they noticed a sharp change in how they were treated.
Police began stopping men who looked effeminate at checkpoints and comparing their faces to those in the video, activists said.
Shiite clerics began preaching against gays at Friday prayers in the mosques. Lists of names of men believed to be gay were posted on the streets in the mostly-Shiite slum neighborhood of Sadr City, with warnings that they would be killed.
“The party was the spark. The whole campaign began because of this,” said a gay activist who requested that his name not be used because he fears for his safety.
A man who gave his name as Hamid told Human Rights Watch how his partner was seized at his parents’ home in April by four masked, armed men dressed in black.
“He was found in the neighborhood the day after,” the report quotes him as saying. “They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”
The calmer conditions that had prevailed over the past two years had encouraged many gays to become more open about their orientation, activists said, and that in turn appears to have provoked a backlash by religious extremists.
Although homosexuality was frowned upon during Saddam Hussein’s rule, there were gay bars and parties and gays who did get stopped by police “could pay a few dinars, and it would be all right,” said another gay Iraqi interviewed in Baghdad.
Many gays have now fled to neighboring countries, and Human Rights Watch urged that they should be given priority by the U.N. among Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement elsewhere.
Those that remain behind have gone back into the shadows, too fearful even to stray far from their homes, let alone hold parties, said one of the men who referred to backlash by religious extremists, adding that he has been rejected by his family and lives in one of a number of safe houses provided for gays by Iraqi LGBT.
“I could have left, but I love my country and I didn’t,” he said. “I was stupid.”
—MCT and Boulder Weekly staff reports
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