SEVERAL Very Large Food Processing & Distribution Plants Have Recently Exploded Or Burned Down

As food uncertainly lingers on the horizon thanks to US sanctions and government decimation of the economy during the past two years, there is another factor contributing to the problem. Since the beginning of the year, there have been several very large food processing facilities that have exploded or burned to the ground across the U.S..

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This week, a vegetable and nut processing facility in Dufur, Oregon became engulfed in flames for unknown reasons.

“Lights flickered; They heard a pop and went up there to check it out and there was a fire,” according to a report made to Wasco County 911 records listed in the Wasco County Sheriff’s log.

The independent distributor of natural, organic an non-GMO foods which employees around 150 people, burned to the ground.

One week before that fire in Oregon, a massive fire brought down a meat processing plant in Conway, New Hampshire. After burning for 16 hours, multiple fire crews finally put out the fire at East Conway Beef and Pork but the facility is completely destroyed.

That same week, in Salinas, California, a massive fire at the Taylor Farms Processing Facility led to the evacuation of residents as it burned for over 17 hours. Taylor Farms is a major agriculture company that processes and delivers many of the salad kits seen in grocery stores. The cause of this fire is currently under investigation.

Just weeks before that, a massive fire engulfed a Walmart distribution center in Plainfield, Indiana where over 1,000 employees shipped food and other supplies all over the region. The fire destroyed the massive 1 million square foot operation.

That same week, one of the largest food facilities of its kind in South Texas caught fire and burned to the ground. Prior to burning down, the Rio Fresh facility in San Juan, Texas, grew, packed and shipped a variety of Texas-grown items including Texas 1015 Sweet Onions, melons, greens, cabbage, and kale. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

In Hermiston, Oregon, in February, a massive food processing facility suddenly exploded, injuring 7 of the nearly 400 employees who work at the Shearer’s Foods plant. According to reports, the cause of the explosion which originated near a boiler is still under investigation.

It’s not only food production and distribution plants either. In Maricopa, Arizona, in March, a massive fire wiped out the Maricopa Food Pantry which distributes food to the less fortunate. More than 50,000 lbs of food was destroyed in the blaze that lasted for 24 hours. That fire is also under investigation.

The fact is that since last year, more than a dozen of these fires and explosions have taken place at food processing and distribution centers.

To be clear, general warehouse fires are quite common. In fact, fire departments respond to more than 1,000 a year. However, the main cause of these fires is arson. What’s more, fires in food processing facilities are not that common and occur far less often.

To claim that all of these incidents are related would be pure speculation. But given the current supply chain situation and looming food shortages, the very idea of critical infrastructure burning to the ground for any reason, is unsettling to say the least.

73 Years Later, It’s Still ‘1984’

In October 1947 Eric Arthur Blair, known today by his pen name George Orwell, wrote a letter to the co-owner of the Secker & Warburg publishing house. In that letter, Orwell noted that he was in the “last lap” of the rough draft of a novel, describing it as “a most dreadful mess.”

Orwell had sequestered himself on the Scottish island of Jura in order to finish the novel. He completed it the following year, having transformed his “most dreadful mess” into “1984,” one of the 20th century’s most important novels.

70 years later, it’s still ‘1984’

Published in 1949, the novel turns 73 this year. The anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the novel’s significance and its most valuable but sometimes overlooked lesson.

The main lesson of “1984” is not “Persistent Surveillance is Bad” or “Authoritarian Governments Are Dangerous.” These are true statements, but not the most important message. “1984” is at its core a novel about language; how it can be used by governments to subjugate and obfuscate and by citizens to resist oppression.

Orwell was a master of the English language and his legacy lives on through some of the words he created. Even those who haven’t read “1984” know some of its “Newspeak.”

1984” provides English speakers with a vocabulary to discuss surveillance, police states and authoritarianism, which includes terms such as “Big Brother,” “Thought Police,” “Unperson” and “Doublethink,” to name a few.

The authoritarian government of Orwell’s Oceania doesn’t merely severely punish dissent — it seeks to make even thinking about dissent impossible. When Inner Party member O’Brien tortures “1984’s” protagonist, Winston Smith, he holds up his hand with four fingers extended and asks Smith how many fingers he sees.

When Smith replies, “Four! Four! What else can I say? Four!” O’Brien inflicts excruciating pain. After Smith finally claims to see five fingers, O’Brien emphasizes that saying “Five” is not enough; “’No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four.”

Orwell’s own name inspired an adjective, “Orwellian,” which is widely used in modern political rhetoric, albeit often inappropriately.

It’s usually our enemies who are acting Orwellian, and it’s a testament to Orwell’s talents that everyone seems to think “1984” is about their political opponents.

The political left sees plenty of Orwellian tendencies in the White House and the criminal justice system. The political right bemoans “Thought Police” on college campuses and social media companies turning users into “Unpersons.”

But politicians can lie without being Orwellian, and a private company closing a social media account is nothing like a state murdering someone and eliminating them from history.

Likewise, perceived academic conformity might be potentially stifling, but it’s hardly comparable to a conformity enforced by a police state that eliminates entire words from society.

Yet when U.S. government officials use terms such as “enhanced interrogation,” “alternative facts,” “collateral damage,” or “extremists” they understand that what they’re describing is actually “torture,” “lies,” “innocent civilian deaths” and “political dissidents.”

They prefer it if others, especially the press, used and believed in Orwellian language that dehumanizes enemies of the government and makes their horrific violence sound tolerable or even justified.

We see far more nefarious and barbaric distortions of language abroad. According to reports by activists and researchers, the Chinese state has put about 1 million people including many Uyghurs — a majority-Muslim ethnic group — in “re-education” camps.

Reports reveal that the camps are hardly schools. They’re brutal indoctrination sites, with inmates forced to recite Communist Party propaganda and renounce Islam.

North Korea, the country that comes closest to embodying “1984,” has hampered its citizens’ abilities to think for themselves with a disheartening measure of success.

In her memoir, North Korean defector Yeonmi Park describes discovering the richness of South Korea’s vocabulary, noting “When you have more words to describe the world, you increase your ability to think complex thoughts.”

It’s hardly surprising that when Park read Orwell’s classic allegorical novel “Animal Farm” she felt as if Orwell knew where she was from.

Orwell was not a prophet, but he identified a necessary feature of any successful authoritarian government. To control you effectively it can’t merely threaten death, imprisonment or torture. It’s not enough for it to ban books and religions.

As long as the state doesn’t dominate your consciousness, it’s under constant risk of overthrow. We shouldn’t fear the U.S. turning into Orwell’s dystopian nightmare just yet, but at a time when political dishonesty is rampant we should remember 1984’s most important lesson: The state can occupy your mind.