Tag Archive: Hunger Strikes

Politics and Legislation

Watchdog claims more evidence of leaks by labor board member

By Kevin Bogardus

The inspector general for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claims to have uncovered more evidence that a Republican member leaked confidential information.

Terence Flynn, a GOP member of the NLRB who was recess-appointed by President Obama in January, is accused of making additional disclosures of non-public information to Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB member.

The supplemental inspector general (IG) report, dated April 30, alleges that Flynn released confidential information while serving as an agency chief counsel. The information that Flynn leaked, according to the IG, included four dissents and a draft of an NLRB decision.

Flynn also helped edit Schaumber’s op-eds on NLRB issues and forwarded him a January 2011 email from then-NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman outlining her priorities for the agency that year, according to the report.

The 13-page report by Dave Berry, the NLRB’s inspector general, says Flynn broke ethics rules by leaking the information. He recommended that the labor board review the findings and decide on an appropriate course of action.

“We conclude that the issues identified in this report, and those of the prior report, evidence a serious threat to the Board’s decisional due process. We recommend that the Board review these facts to determine appropriate action,” the report says.

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Israel high court hears hunger striker appeals

Palestinians prisoners are staging hunger strikes to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention orders. (Reuters)

Palestinians prisoners are staging hunger strikes to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention orders. (Reuters)


Two Palestinians who have been on hunger strike for 65 days appeared before Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday to appeal their detention without charge, their lawyer told AFP.

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla are both staging hunger strikes to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention orders, under which military courts can order individuals to be held without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

Jamil Khatib, who is representing both men, said his address to the court focused on what he called the “illegality” of administrative detention.

“The appeal focused on two sides, the illegality of administrative detention in general, in terms of why they are being held, and secondly why Thaer and Bilal took this step to shed light on administrative detention,” Khatib said.

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Bahrain’s king enacts parliamentary reforms, hopes for national accord

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said he will seek stronger supervision of government operations in light of new parliamentary reforms. (Reuters)

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said he will seek stronger supervision of government operations in light of new parliamentary reforms. (Reuters)


Bahrain’s king ratified constitutional reforms on Thursday in an effort to curb a year of protests and open “a door for national dialogue,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since activists launched protests in February 2011 after successful popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

“The door of dialogue is open and national accord is the goal of all dialogue,” King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said in a ceremony broadcast on state television. “We hope at this important stage that all national forces and groups…will join in development and reform.”

King Hamad also said he will seek stronger supervision of government operations.

The state television named the amendments “the consensus of a people.”
The amendments, which boost powers to question and remove ministers and withdraw confidence in the cabinet, stem from a national dialogue the king organized after last year’s uprising.

This was his second televised speech this year announcing the amendments after he appeared in January.

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Yemenis call for purges of ex-leader’s loyalists

Rallies organized by youth groups were held in the capital, Sana’a, and several other cities in Yemen. (Reuters)

Rallies organized by youth groups were held in the capital, Sana’a, and several other cities in Yemen. (Reuters)


Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets Thursday to demand dismissal of members of the country’s former regime from top military posts.

Rallies organized by youth groups were held in the capital, Sana’a, and several other cities. Protesters carried banners urging Yemen’s new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to “purge the army of family members” of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

After a year of uprising and turmoil, Saleh handed power to Hadi in February, but several Saleh loyalists and relatives are hanging on to key military posts and refusing to step down.

Saleh has been accused of meddling in the country’s affairs and obstructing efforts by Hadi to carry out much-needed reforms.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, has been meeting Saleh’s family members to try to persuade them to comply with Hadi’s orders. He said Thursday that a Saleh crony has finally agreed to hand over command of the elite Republican Guard.

Hadi has made restructuring the Yemeni armed forces his top priority, essential in combating al-Qaeda forces in the south.

Islamic militants linked to the terror group have taken over several towns in the south during Yemen’s long political and security vacuum.

In the latest battle, the Defense Ministry said Thursday that eight al-Qaeda militants were killed in clashes in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan province. The military has taken over several parts of the city, an AL-Qaeda stronghold.

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Drugmakers’ Deal With Obama Said to Be Probed by House

By Drew Armstrong

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Merck & Co. (MRK) are being pulled into an expanding congressional investigation about the agreement drugmakers reached with the Obama administration to support the Democrats’ overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, according to three people familiar with the talks.

The probe began last year, with Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee seeking documents from an industry trade group, said the people, who aren’t authorized to speak publicly. When that group didn’t cooperate, the panel decided to target Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, along with Merck, Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Abbott Laboratories (ABT) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), said one of the people.

A man walks past Pfizer Inc. headquarters in New York. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

The Republicans last month began negotiating directly with the companies in e-mails, calls and meetings demanding documents and information outlining what the industry agreed to with President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010, when the law was being worked on in Congress. Michael Burgess, a Representative from Texas, said he’s been frustrated by a lack of cooperation.

“This has been like pulling teeth, trying to get information,” said Burgess, a Republican working on the panel’s investigation, in a telephone interview.

A White House spokesman declined to comment about the investigation. Peter O’Toole, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, said the company is cooperating, as did Tony Jewell, an AstraZeneca spokesman. Kelly Davenport, a spokeswoman for Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen, said the drug maker is aware of the probe.

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Gold Price Drops Three Straight Months For First Time Since 2001

Adrian Ash Adrian Ash, Contributor

Between March 2001 and April 2012, the price of gold never fell for 3 months in succession. “Two months max”made for a great slogan and signal to buy on pullbacks, most recently in January 2010, your last chance to do so below $1,100, and April 2009, which was your last chance to buy below $900. Divide by ten and we’re talking about the price of the GLD.

Until April 2012 that third down month just never came.
Gold Price Breaks 3-Month Rule
Three consecutive months of falling gold prices are so rare that you can count the occurrences. Since 1957 in fact, they’ve struck only 65 times in a total of 661 three-month periods.

These three-month drops – let’s call them recessions to save me having to re-title these charts again – are rarer still in the U.S. stock market.

The S&P 500 index has delivered only 55 runs of 3-month drops over the same 55-year period.

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Wall Street drops before jobs data, LinkedIn up late


By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks fell on Thursday as economic data sent mixed signals on the recovery a day before the April payrolls report, while shares of Green Mountain (GMCR) plunged after poor results.

Slower-than-expected growth in the dominant U.S. services sector drove the day’s trading. The retail sector dragged the market lower after several chains, including Target Corp (TGT) and Gap Inc (GPS), fell after missing April sales estimates.

Market expectations for Friday’s non-farm payrolls report have fallen this week. Traders now suspect the economy added 125,000 to 150,000 jobs in April, below a Reuters consensus forecast of 170,000. One trader said there had even been some talk of a number below 100,000.

Still, the S&P 500 kept up its flirtation with new four-year highs, although it has struggled to rise above resistance at the 1,400 level.

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Treasury: Tax receipts not changing deadline on $16.4T debt limit

By Peter Schroeder

Lawmakers will not have to re-fight their epic battle over raising the debt ceiling until after the November elections, according to the Treasury Department.

April tax receipts have not moved Treasury’s debt-ceiling target date, and Secretary Timothy Geithner still expects lawmakers will have until the tail end of 2012 to raise the $16.394 trillion ceiling.

“Treasury anticipates that the debt limit will not be reached again until late this year,” a Treasury spokesman told The Hill on Wednesday.

Lower-than-expected tax receipts could have moved up the date on the debt ceiling, forcing a vote both parties would like to avoid before the election.

The government has borrowed $15.673 trillion, and the limit is still too far off for Treasury to more accurately predict when it will be reached, an official said Wednesay.

But the Treasury spokesman insisted the agency has the tools to prevent the United States from going over the limit if it draws near prior to Nov. 6, when voters go to the polls.

“If the debt limit were to be reached prior to the 2012 elections, Treasury would be able to invoke extraordinary measures to extend borrowing authority beyond the next elections,” the spokesman said.

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Cummings: Regulator wasting taxpayer money by refusing principal forgiveness

By Mike Lillis – 05/02/12 05:19 PM ET

The country’s top housing regulator is frittering away taxpayer dollars by refusing to reduce mortgage principal for struggling homeowners, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) charged Wednesday.

Edward DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), has declined to write down the principal for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, arguing that other anti-foreclosure strategies create bigger returns for the bailed-out mortgage giants.

Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said principal forgiveness “saves more money than any other type of modification,” and suggested DeMarco is shirking his duties by taking that option off the table.

DeMarco, Cummings said, “has a duty and an obligation to allow the use of principal reduction” but has so far “refused to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer principle reduction even in cases in which it would save money compared to foreclosure or to other types of modifications.”

“That’s Mr. DeMarco’s mandate,” Cummings said during a housing summit in Washington sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. “That is what Congress directed him to do. If principal reduction will save the taxpayers money, he should be doing it now.”

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Suicides increase in Italy’s Veneto region

Published on May 5, 2012 by

More than two million Italians are out of a work and the government has had to cut public spending.

But, it is not just afftecting the country’s poorer southern regions. In the country’s northern region, the Veneto, where business people pride themselves for their entrepeneural skills and an abundance of small businesses, the downturn is leading to an increase in suicides.

Al Jazeera’s Claudio Lavanga reports from Asolo.


Wars and Rumors of War

Iran dismisses Western demand to close nuclear bunker

Iran’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh briefs the media during a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna. (Reuters)

Iran’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh briefs the media during a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna. (Reuters)

By Fredrik Dahl

Iran said on Friday it will never suspend its uranium enrichment program and sees no reason to close the Fordow underground site, making clear Tehran’s red lines in talks with world powers later this month.

Last month a senior U.S. official said the United States and its allies would demand that Iran halt higher-grade enrichment and immediately close the Fordow facility at talks over Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

But Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Reuters he saw “no justification” for closing Fordow, which he said was under IAEA surveillance.

“When you have a safe place, secure place under IAEA control, then why do you tell me that I should close it?” he said, making clear Iran built the site to better protect its nuclear work against any Israeli or U.S. attacks.

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Four men charged over Al-Qaeda terror plot in Germany

Federal prosecutors in Germany said the group’s leader is also accused of undergoing training at a terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. (File photo)

Federal prosecutors in Germany said the group’s leader is also accused of undergoing training at a terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. (File photo)


Prosecutors have formally charged four men with membership in a terrorist organization after allegations they planned to carry out an al-Qaeda attack in Germany.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday the group’s leader – 30-year-old Moroccan national Abdeladim El-Kebir – is also accused of undergoing training at a terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

They say he recruited and indoctrinated the group’s other members, whose last names were not provided in line with German privacy laws.

The 32-year-old German-Moroccan Jamil S. was accused of being responsible for helping produce explosives, while 20-year-old German-Iranian national Amid C. and 27-year-old German citizen Halil S. are alleged to have had mostly logistical tasks.

The men were arrested last year.




Iran readies secret salt desert bunkers for clandestine nuclear facilities

DEBKAfileExclusive Report May 5, 2012, 1:16 PM (GMT+02:00)

North Korean nuclear-capable BM-25 missiles sold to Iran

When International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano declared Friday, May 4, that
“Parchin (the suspected site of nuclear-related explosion tests) is the priority and we start with that,” he may have missed the boat. As he spoke, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was possible that Iran was already putting in place the infrastructure for building a nuclear bomb in 60 days.
In this regard, debkafile’s military sources disclose that Iran had by the end of 2009 early 2012 completed the construction of a new chain of underground facilities deep inside the Dasht e-Kavir (Great Salt Desert) – all linked together by huge tunnels.

Nevertheless, Tehran keeps on putting off nuclear watchdog inspections at Parchin for three reasons:

1. To carry on squeezing concessions from the US in private talks between the Obama administration and Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as from the Six Powers at their formal negotiations. Iran has won permission to enriching uranium up to 5 percent purity and is after approval for the 20 percent which is close to weapon grade.
2.  The Iranians can’t be sure they have scrubbed out every last trace of the nuclear explosives and detonators tested at the Parchin military base – even after clearing away the evidence and relocating the facility in the salt desert wastelands.

Asked to define the activities he wanted inspected in Parchin, Amano said: “We do not have people there so we cannot tell what these activities are.”  According to debkafile’s intelligence sources, while the IAEA may want hard physical evidence collected by its inspectors, US and Israeli intelligence have long possessed solid information on the illicit activities in Parchin collected by the nuclear-sensitive instruments carried by their military satellites.
3.  To guarantee that the IAEA inspection at Parchin will be the last and there will no further demands for visits to any more suspect sites.
Tehran cannot tell exactly what data on additional facilities has reached US or Israeli intelligence and at what moment they may pull their discoveries out of their sleeves with fresh demands. Iran is therefore bargaining for a line to be drawn at Parchin to close any future road for good so that it can carry on nuclear work at the new Great Salt Desert locations safe from discovery.
debkafile’s Iranian sources report that American negotiators in their private exchanges have thrown out hints about limiting IAEA inspections. But Tehran is holding out for a more solid commitment from the US and Europe to halt all demands for IAEA visits and for the Six Powers to veto inspections at any new nuclear locations Israel may expose.

This was what Ali Asqar Soltaniyeh, Iranian ambassador to the IAEA Vienna headquarters, was driving at when he stipulated Friday that that  talks with the six powers must be limited to negotiations on “a modality and framework to resolve outstanding issues and remove ambiguities.”


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Two Egyptian soldiers injured battling al Qaeda in N. Sinai 

DEBKAfileMay 5, 2012, 11:27 AM (GMT+02:00)

After clashes with protesters in Cairo Friday, Egyptian troops fought a major battle with al Qaeda infiltrators for control of the main northern Sinai road between Sheikh Zeid and Rafah early Saturday, May 5. DEBKAfile: This road, controlled by some 20 al Qaeda-linked jihadist and Salafi mlitias, commands the Sinai smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan and enables them to hold the Multinational Observer Force at Al Gorah to siege. The battle erupted during a military raid. Tanks were sent in to back the soldiers up.

In Cairo, an overnight curfew was imposed around the defense ministry, the scene of violent clashes between demonstrators and troops. More than 130 protesters were detained.


Bombings spread in Syria as Al Qaeda seizes control of rebel factions

DEBKAfileExclusive Report April 30, 2012, 7:09 PM (GMT+02:00)

Syrian military center in Idlib

Around the first anniversary of the death of al Qaeda’s iconic leader Osama bin Laden at the hands of US special forces, the jihadist movement is making an operational comback in the Arab world and Africa. The suicide bombings hitting Damascus and Idlib in the last 24 hours were the work of Al Qaeda in Iraq – AQI, whose operatives have been pouring into Syria in the last two weeks, debkafile’s counter-terror sources report.

Washington has not asked Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki to stem the outward flow, realizing he is glad to see the backs of the terrorists and waving them across the border into Syria. Our sources report from Western agencies fighting al Qaeda that several thousand operatives have arrived in Syria to fight the Assad regime, most entering the country from the north. They come fully armed with quantities of explosives. Among them are hundreds of Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and Sudanese.

They quickly join up with the hundreds of al Qaeda fighters from Libya present at Free Syrian Army-FSA training camps in southeast Turkey. There, they are instructed in the geography of Syrian government, army and security forces locations, led across the border and transported to their targeted locations by special guides.
Monday, April 30, the day after Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Hood took command of a painfully inadequate force of UN UN truce supervisors, al Qaeda let loose with a spate of bombings in Damascus and the northeastern flashpoint town of Idlib. I

In the capital, they bombed the Syrian central bank with RPG grenades, ambushed a police patrol in the town center and blew up a bomb car against a Syrian military convoy driving through the Qudsiya district. Two days earlier, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Zain al-Abideen mosque of Damascus, killing at least 9 worshippers.
These attacks were followed later Monday with three bomb blasts in Idlib at security and intelligence centers in the town, killing some 20 people, most of them security personnel. One command center was destroyed and hundreds were injured by the force of the blasts.
The Syrian ruler Bashar Assad keeps on complaining that his regime is under assault by terrorists and many of the fatalities reported are members of his army and police. But his own brutal methods against dissidents have deafened the West to these complaints and the world addresses its demands to halt the violence to him and him alone.
There is nothing new about the refusal in the West to heed the fact that al Qaeda infiltrators are increasingly responsible for violence in the various parts of the Arab Revolt. In Libya too, Muammar Qaddafi warned repeatedly that his overthrow would result in al Qaeda-linked groups seizing control of the country and commandeering his vast arsenals of weapons.


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Articles of Interest

Senator asks UK for evidence linking News Corp. scandal to Americans

By Andrew Feinberg

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has asked an investigator in the United Kingdom to reveal whether he has found any evidence that links the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp. to U.S. citizens.

Rockefeller sent a letter to Lord Justice Brian Leveson, the House of Lords member leading the investigation of News Corp. in the United Kingdom, and asked whether “any of the evidence you are reviewing … suggests unethical … and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved U.S. citizens.

In his letter, the Senate Commerce Committee chairman noted that Leveson’s inquiry and other investigations “are continuing to expose disturbing new evidence” about News Corp. employee conduct, ranging from illegal tapping of phones to outright bribery.

Rupert Murdoch heads News Corp., which is also the parent company of Fox. Murdoch’s former newspaper, News of the World, is under investigation in England for allegedly bugging phones in order to obtain stories.

Rockefeller said he’s concerned that some of the undisclosed victims identified by the U.K. investigation were U.S. citizens.

“I am concerned about the possibility that some of these undisclosed victims are U.S. citizens,” he said, “and the possibility that telephone networks under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws were used to intercept their voice mail messages.”

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Ohio Gov. Kasich concerned by climate change, but won’t ‘apologize’ for coal

By Ben Geman

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) acknowledged Wednesday that his belief in climate change cuts against the grain in the Republican Party, but don’t look for him to embrace Environmental Protection Agency regulations any time soon.

“I am a believer — my goodness I am a Republican — I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it,” Kasich said at a Columbus, Ohio, energy conference hosted by The Hill.

“But we can’t overreact to it and make things up, but it is something we have to recognize is a problem,” Kasich said.

Kasich touted efforts to help spur development of carbon capture and storage for coal, which has not been adopted on a commercial scale, and criticized what he cast as an overaggressive EPA.

“We are going to continue to work on cleaning coal, but I want to tell you, we are going to dig it, we are going to clean it, and we are going to burn it in Ohio, and we are not going to apologize for it,” he said during wide-ranging remarks on energy at the conference. Ohio is a coal-producing state and home to American Electric Power, a major coal-burning utility.

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New study sheds light on debate over organic vs. conventional

by Staff Writers
Montreal, Canada (SPX) May 01, 2012

illustration only

Can organic agriculture feed the world? Although organic techniques may not be able to do the job alone, they do have an important role to play in feeding a growing global population while minimizing environmental damage, according to researchers at McGill University and the University of Minnesota.

A new study published in Nature concludes that crop yields from organic farming are generally lower than from conventional agriculture. That is particularly true for cereals, which are staples of the human diet – yet the yield gap is much less significant for certain crops, and under certain growing conditions, according to the researchers.

The study, which represents a comprehensive analysis of the current scientific literature on organic-to-conventional yield comparisons, aims to shed light on the often heated debate over organic versus conventional farming. Some people point to conventional agriculture as a big environmental threat that undercuts biodiversity and water resources, while releasing greenhouse gases. Others argue that large-scale organic farming would take up more land and make food unaffordable for most of the world’s poor and hungry.

“To achieve sustainable food security we will likely need many different techniques – including organic, conventional, and possible ‘hybrid’ systems – to produce more food at affordable prices, ensure livelihoods to farmers, and reduce the environmental costs of agriculture,” the researchers conclude.

Overall, organic yields are 25% lower than conventional, the study finds. The difference varies widely across crop types and species, however. Yields of legumes and perennials (such as soybeans and fruits), for example, are much closer to those of conventional crops, according to the study, conducted by doctoral student Verena Seufert and Geography professor Navin Ramankutty of McGill and Prof. Jonathan Foley of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

What’s more, when best management practices are used for organic crops, overall yields are just 13% lower than conventional levels.

“These results suggest that today’s organic systems may nearly rival conventional yields in some cases – with particular crop types, growing conditions and management practices – but often they do not,” the researchers write. Improvements in organic management techniques, or adoption of organic agriculture under environmental conditions where it performs best, may help close the yield gap, they indicate.

“Our study indicates that organically fertilized systems might require higher nitrogen inputs to achieve high yields as organic nitrogen is less readily available to crops. In some cases, organic farmers may therefore benefit by making limited use of chemical fertilizers instead of relying only on manure to supply nitrogen to their crops,” Seufert says.

“At the same time, conventional agriculture can learn from successful organic systems and implement practices that have shown environmental benefits, such as increased crop diversity and use of crop residues.”

Yields are only part of a set of economic, social and environmental factors that should be considered when gauging the benefits of different farming systems, the researchers note.

“Maybe people are asking the wrong question,” Prof Ramankutty says. “Instead of asking if food is organically grown, maybe we should be asking if it’s sustainably grown.”

The results point to a need to get beyond the black-and-white, ideological debates that often pit advocates of organic and local foods against proponents of conventional agriculture, Prof. Foley adds. “By combining organic and conventional practices in a way that maximizes food production and social good while minimizing adverse environmental impact, we can create a truly sustainable food system.”

Related Links
McGill University
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology



Pesticide exposure linked to brain changes: study

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 30, 2012

When pregnant women are exposed to moderate levels of a common pesticide, their children may experience lasting changes in brain structure linked to lower intelligence, a US study said Monday.

The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined New York City pregnant mothers who were tested for exposure to chlorpyrifos, or CPF, which is widely used for pest control in farms and public spaces.

The women in the study, which included 369 subjects total, took part prior to 2001 when CPF was banned from household use in the United States, though the chemical continues to be used worldwide in agriculture.

Researchers compared 20 children — age five to 11 — whose mothers tested highest for levels of CPF and found “significant abnormalities” in brain structure compared to 20 children whose mothers showed lower exposures.

However, all the women in the study were exposed at routine levels below the US established thresholds for acute exposure, indicating that even low to moderate exposure could pose hefty risks to a child’s brain development.

“The present study provides evidence that the prenatal period is a vulnerable time for the developing child,” said lead author, Virginia Rauh, professor at the Mailman School of Public Health and Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

“Toxic exposure during this critical period can have far-reaching effects on brain development and behavioral functioning.”

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the children’s brains, which showed structural changes — some areas abnormally larger than usual, and some typical male-female differences in brain structure that were eliminated or reversed in the high pesticide group.

More study is needed to determine the long-term effects of the changes, which are “consistent with the IQ deficits previously reported in the children with high exposure levels of chlorpyrifos,” according to the research.

The study was the first to use MRI scans to confirm previous findings of brain structure changes in animals exposed to pesticide, the authors said.

“By combining brain imaging and community-based research, we now have much stronger evidence linking exposure to chlorpyrifos with neurodevelopmental problems,” said senior author Bradley Peterson, chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Researchers said previous studies have shown that urban levels of the chemical have dropped since the 2001 US restrictions were added, but that risks remain because it continues to be used in food and feed crops, wood treatments, and public spaces such as golf courses, parks and highway medians.

Related Links
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology




Cyber Space


Google Cozies up to Regulators

Published on May 1, 2012 by

After a lengthy investigation into Google’s harvesting of Americans’ e-mails, passwords, and all kinds of other sensitive information that was gathered through their Street View project, the FCC found that Google hadn’t violated any laws, but did obstruct the inquiry, and would have to pay a fine of $25,000. But Google is now fighting back. CNET’s Declan McCullagh joins the show.



Microsoft denies softening of CISPA support

By Brendan Sasso

Microsoft released a statement on Monday reaffirming its support for a controversial cybersecurity bill that cleared the House last week.

“Microsoft’s position remains unchanged,” Christina Pearson, a Microsoft spokeswoman, said in a statement to The Hill. “We supported the work done to pass cybersecurity bills last week in the House of Representatives and look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as the Senate takes up cybersecurity legislation.”

The statement shoots down reports that the technology company was wavering in its support of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

Microsoft was one of the earliest supports of CISPA. The company applauded Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) when they first introduced the bill last year.

“This bill is an important first step towards addressing significant problems in cyber security,” the company said at the time.

The goal of CISPA is to help companies beef up their defenses against hackers who steal business secrets, rob customers’ financial information and wreak havoc on computer systems. The bill would remove legal barriers that discourage companies from sharing information about cyber threats.

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Bus 52 Presents: The Generous Garden Project

Uploaded by on Feb 16, 2012

Behind a small health food store in Greenville, SC lies a large unused plot of land. That is, it was unoccupied until Bo Cable’s desire to help his community resulted in the creation of The Generous Garden Project. Now it is the site of a flurry of activity and a very successful vegetable garden.

After a life spent in the publishing industry, Bo started The Generous Garden Project after a simple idea he wrote down just would not go away. After being drawn to Greenville because of its high level of volunteerism and community involvement, Bo spent a lot of time thinking how he might be able to give back to his community.

Although he’d never thought of himself as a ‘green thumb,’ Bo’s childhood on the farm gave him the experience and work ethic that helped him make The Generous Garden Project what it is today.

The Generous Garden is not a community garden in the traditional sense. While volunteers and community members grow and nurture the garden’s herbs and vegetables – such as kale, broccoli, and zucchini – they are not the ones who will be enjoying them. All of the 100% organic produce goes to local food banks, shelters and single-parent families.

Bo saw from volunteering at shelters that most of the vegetables were frozen or canned. Very few shelters are able to offer fresh food and instead have to rely mostly on canned goods. The Generous Garden’s fresh, organic vegetables not only add color, but also nutrition to shelter meals across the Greenville area.

The project occupies a sizable plot with its own compost heap with which they fertilize their crops and a worm farm to add nutrients into the soil. A generous donor provided two greenhouses, one of which is fervently being built to provide shelter for the next crop’s seedlings.

The area that is currently planted is just a fraction of the land they rent. Bo is planning ahead to the time when they will have cleared and prepared even more of the fields to grow on.

There is more to Bo’s plan however. As well as growing vegetables and herbs for people who are not able to afford such fresh, organic fare, he wants to teach people the art of gardening. By inviting school groups as well as adults to the garden, he hopes to instill in them both the ability and the desire to grow food themselves. ‘Even if someone only has a window box, I can show them how to grow vegetables,’ he says.

Bo started the project thinking that it would be an excellent weekend activity. His plan of spending a leisurely few hours in the garden on Saturdays and Sundays has turned into a full-time job. Although he owns a web-development and marketing company, he now goes to the garden every day of the week, for several hours each day.

The Generous Garden Project started in April 2011 and in its first year, it grew and distributed 32,000 lbs of produce, the equivalent of over 21,000 meals. Bo’s plans are to continue expanding their yield while not compromising the quality of their produce. His hope is that the concept could be taken to other cities across the country, bringing the benefits of fresh produce and a communal love of gardening to communities just like Greenville.

For more information on The Generous Garden Project, and to find out how to volunteer for the project or to donate gardening supplies, visit their website and their Facebook page.


Survival / Sustainability

Week 6 of 52: Evacuation Preparedness

Tess Pennington
Ready Nutrition

This week, we will concentrate on the evacuation aspect of preparedness.  Many who have first hand accounts of mass evacuations from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita will tell you that it is not fun.   When we think of evacuations, we typically think of the mass exodus we witnessed on television with the aforementioned storms.  Depending on the area you live in, there are times when evacuations are more localized and require you to leave your community or town.  Being that I live in Houston, I not only have to worry about hurricane season, but I also have to worry about chemical leaks from the refineries in this area.  If a refinery emergency were to occur, I would have to leave immediately, thus giving my family only a few minutes to evacuate our home.

Having a pre-assembled bag with basic survival needs in place will expedite the evacuation process, as well as keep things running smoothly.  The main goal of having a 72-hour bag is to be equipped to survive for three days.  Therefore, keep your basic survival needs in mind: food, water, shelter, clothing, sanitation, medications/prescriptions.  In addition, I would also pack some extra emergency money or a credit card with enough money for gas and lodging  in case you run into a monetary issue.  Click here to get more details on preparing a 72 hour bag.

Preparing a bag for evacuations takes more time than one would think.  Taking survival needs into account  is one thing, but trying to collect prescriptions, children’s special items, and personal documents can be frustrating if you were under time constraints.  Preparing ahead of time for evacuations will cut down on the headaches, and keep you one step ahead.

Read Full Article Here



Are You Ready Series: Earthquake Preparedness

Tess Pennington
Ready Nutrition

The sudden strike of an earthquake can catch many off guard.  For those that live in earthquake prone areas, preparing ahead of time will keep a person as safe as possible during the turmoil that the earthquake brings.

Develop an Emergency Plan

When an unexpected event happens, many are confused and do not know what to do. Having a set disaster plan in place can help members of the family get to safety.

 Do research on local emergency management (American Red Cross, City Disaster Services, etc) systems and know what their disaster protocols are. 

Teach children about the different communication sources  available such as 9-1-1, and how to work a battery operated radio in order to listen for emergency information.  Additionally, all family members should know how to turn off the home utilities (emergency, gas and water).

Have an emergency plan in place.  This will help family members know exactly where to go and what to do.  The emergency plan should have a meeting place designated in the event that family members are separated.  Additionally, having a central contact outside of the disaster area that can relay messages can help a family stay in touch if separated.

Look for any hazards in the home.  Do as much preparation as possible to the home in order to secure the area as much as possible.

  • Place heavy or bulkier items on lower shelves.
  • Cabinets and pantries where breakable items are stores should have latches on them.  Additionally, any poisonous material, such as fertilizers or pesticides should be stored in a locked area as well.
  • Secure shelves to walls.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Repair any defective electrical wiring or leaking gas connections. If there are damages done to the ceiling or foundation, get an expert opinion about any structural defects.
  • Secure the water heater by strapping it to wall studs.
  • Avoid hanging pictures and heavy mirrors over beds, couches or where people tend to sit.

Disaster Food Supplies

Water and Food

Store 3-days worth of potable water in plastic containers.   Potable water is water safe for human consumption.  It is free of disease causing microorganisms, poisonous substances, minerals, organic matter, chemical, biological and radioactive substances.  Another method is to freeze water in plastic soda containers.  FEMA recommends that a person should have 1-gallon of water per person for at least 3 days.

Stockpile a 3 day supply of non-perishable items such as canned goods, dehydrated foods, high energy foods such as granola bars, power bars, trail mix and cereals.  Try and find foods that does not require much water to prepare them.  Enure that certain foods are stored away for family members with special needs.

Medical Supplies

Keeping a well stocked medical supply can come in handy if someone has a injury.  First aid kits can be assembled at home and include all of the basic first aid items that may be needed.  A list of complete first aid items can be seen here.

Read Full Article Here



Food Storage Powdered Milk Recipe: Magic Mix

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Use this mix to make perfect white sauces every time! You make it from dry powdered milk…for more tips for using magic and your food storage everyday, visit http://everydayfoodstorage.net/about-food-storage/magic-mix





Hunger Strikes, Marches and More as Los Angeles Service Workers Make Their Presence Felt on May Day

L.A. janitors and airport workers have been building momentum for a possible strike for weeks — and they have big plans for May Day.
May 1, 2012  |

Photo Credit: Melissa Chadburn
 If you ask Mike Garcia, president of SEIU, United Service Workers West, he will tell you, “We have a jobs crisis, not a budget crisis. We have a crisis of the right-wing conscience.”

He gave this speech atop a stage at Pershing Square, in the financial hub of Los Angeles, the afternoon of tax day, April 17, 2012–a day when 2,000 janitors and workers took to the streets to let the large corporations know we would not stand for their corporate tax dodging. He went on, “The janitors are here ready to march for justice, not just for janitors, but for all workers in this country. They tell us there’s no money for healthcare in this economic recession, for wage increases, there’s no language to give us justice as immigrants in this country! We say no. We don’t believe it. There is not a scarcity of money, but there is a scarcity of justice.”

This was part of a build-up for a larger action: on May 1, International Worker’s Day, thousands of working people, their families and allies will gather from every corner of Los Angeles to tell these employers we mean business.

Los Angeles’ streets have been overcome with janitors, security workers, airport service workers, and other property service workers, and they are chanting “Strike! Strike! Strike! Huelga! Huelga! Huelga!” The janitors are sick and tired of cleaning up after the 1 percent. The Building Owners Managers Association (BOMA), happens to be made up of some of America’s biggest land barons. They are currently in negotiations with Los Angeles janitors, as it is time for them to renew their contracts. Yet some of the members of BOMA are threatening to cut back on their healthcare benefits. The janitors have let these building owners know they’re prepared to put up a fight. This slow rumble could progress to a startling halt in work if these large corporate employers don’t start to clean up their act.

It would have been announced on midnight, May 1, whether or not the janitors would go on strike. On April 25 they received the full support from the LA County Federation of Labor should they strike. JP Morgan called police to escort the bargaining committee from the Century Plaza Towers after they returned from a break from negotiations to join janitors in a rally through Century City.

The chant was that janitors are being treated like the garbage they throw out every night. Enough is enough!

If this sounds familiar it’s because it is. On April 3, 1990 there was an official strike of the Justice for Janitors campaign that went on for three weeks. The janitors in Los Angeles stayed on strike until April 22. By that time, they had reached a contract that guaranteed them at least a 22 percent raise over the next three years. The Los Angeles strike was significant to the future of Justice for Janitors, as it spurred a nationwide campaign involving over 100,000 SEIU janitors in 2000. The campaign sought to raise wages for all janitors as well as improve overall working conditions.

Read Full Article Here


Psy – Ops

Class Warfare Is Being Used To Divide America – And It Is Working

At a time when America desperately needs to come together, we are becoming more divided than ever.  The mainstream media and most of our politicians love to pit us against one another in dozens of different ways, and right now class warfare has become one of their favorite tools for getting us to hate one another.  If you are struggling in this economy, you are being told that “the wealthy” are the cause of your problems.  If you have money, you are being told that the poor hate you and want to tax you into oblivion.  Class warfare has already become a dominant theme in the 2012 race for the White House, and there will certainly be endless speeches given along these lines by politicians from both major political parties all the way up to election day.  Class warfare will be used by both sides as a way to divide America and get votes.  And the frightening thing is that it is clearly working.  There is more hatred between the poor and the wealthy in America today than at any other time that I can remember.  But hating people because of how much money they have or don’t have is not going to solve anything.  Instead, it is just going to cause more problems.

The other day, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told CNBC that the globe is already in a state of “late Great Depression“.  The United States is heading into unprecedented economic and financial problems and we desperately need to pull together as a country and solve these problems.

But instead, our leaders are tapping into the politics of division in a desperate attempt to get elected in the fall.

Rather than focus on real issues and real solutions, our politicians attempt to make “the wealthy” or “welfare recipients” the focus of our debates.

Well, you know what?

Most people that are rich and most people that are poor are not purposely trying to abuse the system.  Most of them are hard working people that are trying to do the best that they can in a world that is increasingly going crazy.

These days, the Occupy Wall Street crowd loves to talk about how evil the “1 percent” is.  But most of the “1 percent” are people that have worked really hard and that have been fortunate enough to get some really good breaks in life.

Yes, there are some among the “1 percent” that do some really bad things.  The too big to fail banks and the big money managers on Wall Street should be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed.

But most wealthy Americans are not trying to oppress the poor.  Most of them are just trying to do the best that they can for themselves and their families.

Neither are most poor people trying to abuse the system either.

Yes, without a doubt there are some that do not want to work and that want to live on government benefits indefinitely.

But that is a minority.

Most Americans that are receiving government benefits today would rather be working good jobs that would enable them to provide for their families.

Most Americans understand that government handouts can never provide dignity and hope for a better future.

Read Full Article Here


Articles of Interest

Public Schools Use GPS Uniforms to Track Students! (Nanny of the Month, April 2012)

Published on May 1, 2012 by

We’ve got Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal demanding clean urine in exchange for welfare benefits (a bad idea that also doesn’t work as advertised, but hey, at least the boozers are safe!), North Carolina regulators busting a blogger for praising the paleo diet (an offense that can get you tossed in the clink!), but this month the freakiest controllers come to us from a Brazilian city where public schools have begun tracking thousands of 4-to-14-year-olds with GPS-embedded uniforms. (At least they’re not tagging the kiddos’ ears!)

Presenting Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Month for April 2012: The City of Vitoria da Conquista!

Approximately 80 seconds.

“Nanny of the Month” is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Opening animation by Meredith Bragg.

To watch previous “Nanny of the Month” episodes, go here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2DD00E99B83A258A

Visit http://reason.tv for links and downloadable versions of this video and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new content is posted.

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]