Tag Archive: U.S.

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Politics and Legislation

Egypt: As Muslim Brotherhood Claims Election Victory, Military Strips President of Power

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt on the country’s growing political crisis. Former president Hosni Mubarak is on life support, both candidates claim to have won last weekend’s election and the ruling military council has seized greater power. Official presidential election results are not expected to be announced until Thursday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood, expressing outrage over the army’s decree late Sunday that it would seize all legislative powers. “Right now, the country has no constitution, no parliament, and an incoming president that will have scant power,” Kouddous says. “The military council is really controlling the key branches of state … [It’s] perhaps a fitting end to this nonsensical transition that we have seen over the last 16 months.”

See our recent reports by Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Egypt: http://www.democracynow.org/topics/egypt

Live: Tim Friend on latest Greece developments

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

Greece’s new prime minister has vowed to pull the country back from the brink of bankruptcy. New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras was sworn-in after striking a deal to form a new coalition government. It draws a line under a protracted political crisis that cast doubt over Greece’s future in the Eurozone. Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend joins us from the Greek capital.



Why 35,000 high-income Americans pay no federal income taxes — Decoder

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

It’s not only the ultra-wealthy who are able to avoid taxes. A recent IRS report indicated that more than 35,000 Americans making over $200 000 a year paid no federal income taxes in 2009. Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston explains how. (June 19, 2012)

Catholic nuns protest US budget cuts

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

A group of Roman Catholic nuns are taking an unusual bus ride across America.

They are protesting against government budget cuts, which they say are harming low income families.

A recent Vatican report criticised some nuns for focusing too much on economic injustice

Even though the nuns were stung by the criticism from Rome, they decided to stay the course and say the firestorm has given them a platform.

In their latest trip, the nuns are in Janesville, Wisconsin, to deliver an alternative budget to Republican House member Paul Ryan, in which they propose a plan that favours a safety net for the worst off instead of tax cuts for the rich.

There is every sign they’ll continue to take their gospel on the road, with or without the Vatican’s blessing.

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reports from Janesville, Wisconsin.

GLOBAL ELITES THROWN OUT OF ICELAND: Iceland Dismantles Corrupt Gov’t Then Arrests All Rothschild Bankers

June 18th, 2012 | Author:

Since the 1900′s the vast majority of the American population has dreamed about saying “NO” to the Unconstitutional, corrupt, Rothschild/Rockefeller banking criminals, but no one has dared to do so. Why? If just half of our Nation, and the “1%”, who pay the majority of the taxes, just said NO MORE! Our Gov’t would literally change over night. Why is it so hard, for some people to understand, that by simply NOT giving your money, to large Corporations, who then send jobs, Intellectual Property, etc. offshore and promote anti-Constitutional rights… You will accomplish more, than if you used violence. In other words… RESEARCH WHERE YOU ARE SENDING EVERY SINGLE PENNY!!! Is that so hard? The truth of the matter is… No one, except the Icelanders, have to been the only culture on the planet to carry out this successfully. Not only have they been successful, at overthrowing the corrupt Gov’t, they’ve drafted a Constitution, that will stop this from happening ever again. That’s not the best part… The best part, is that they have arrested ALL Rothschild/Rockefeller banking puppets, responsible for the Country’s economic Chaos and meltdown.

Last week 9 people were arrested in London and Reykjavik for their possible responsibility for Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, a deep crisis which developed into an unprecedented public reaction that is changing the country’s direction.

It has been a revolution without weapons in Iceland, the country that hosts the world’s oldest democracy (since 930), and whose citizens have managed to effect change by going on demonstrations and banging pots and pans. Why have the rest of the Western countries not even heard about it?

Pressure from Icelandic citizens’ has managed not only to bring down a government, but also begin the drafting of a new constitution (in process) and is seeking to put in jail those bankers responsible for the financial crisis in the country. As the saying goes, if you ask for things politely it is much easier to get them.

This quiet revolutionary process has its origins in 2008 when the Icelandic government decided to nationalize the three largest banks, Landsbanki, Kaupthing and Glitnir, whose clients were mainly British, and North and South American.

After the State took over, the official currency (krona) plummeted and the stock market suspended its activity after a 76% collapse. Iceland was becoming bankrupt and to save the situation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) injected U.S. $ 2,100 million and the Nordic countries helped with another 2,500 million.

Great little victories of ordinary people

While banks and local and foreign authorities were desperately seeking economic solutions, the Icelandic people took to the streets and their persistent daily demonstrations outside parliament in Reykjavik prompted the resignation of the conservative Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and his entire government.

Citizens demanded, in addition, to convene early elections, and they succeeded. In April a coalition government was elected, formed by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement, headed by a new Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

Throughout 2009 the Icelandic economy continued to be in a precarious situation (at the end of the year the GDP had dropped by 7%) but, despite this, the Parliament proposed to repay the debt to Britain and the Netherlands with a payment of 3,500 million Euros, a sum to be paid every month by Icelandic families for 15 years at 5.5% interest.

The move sparked anger again in the Icelanders, who returned to the streets demanding that, at least, that decision was put to a referendum. Another big small victory for the street protests: in March 2010 that vote was held and an overwhelming 93% of the population refused to repay the debt, at least with those conditions.

This forced the creditors to rethink the deal and improve it, offering 3% interest and payment over 37 years. Not even that was enough. The current president, on seeing that Parliament approved the agreement by a narrow margin, decided last month not to approve it and to call on the Icelandic people to vote in a referendum so that they would have the last word.

The bankers are fleeing in fear

Returning to the tense situation in 2010, while the Icelanders were refusing to pay a debt incurred by financial sharks without consultation, the coalition government had launched an investigation to determine legal responsibilities for the fatal economic crisis and had already arrested several bankers and top executives closely linked to high risk operations.

Interpol, meanwhile, had issued an international arrest warrant against Sigurdur Einarsson, former president of one of the banks. This situation led scared bankers and executives to leave the country en masse.

In this context of crisis, an assembly was elected to draft a new constitution that would reflect the lessons learned and replace the current one, inspired by the Danish constitution.

To do this, instead of calling experts and politicians, Iceland decided to appeal directly to the people, after all they have sovereign power over the law. More than 500 Icelanders presented themselves as candidates to participate in this exercise in direct democracy and write a new constitution. 25 of them, without party affiliations, including lawyers, students, journalists, farmers and trade union representatives were elected.

Among other developments, this constitution will call for the protection, like no other, of freedom of information and expression in the so-called Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, in a bill that aims to make the country a safe haven for investigative journalism and freedom of information, where sources, journalists and Internet providers that host news reporting are protected.

The people, for once, will decide the future of the country while bankers and politicians witness the transformation of a nation from the sidelines.

Fed extends stimulus to boost economy

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ The weak US recovery and growing financial problems in Europe mean the Federal Reserve has extended its monetary stimulus.

At their monthly meeting the US central bank policymakers said they will renew effort to bring down borrowing costs by selling short-term government bonds to buy those maturing at a later date.

Central banks worldwide are seeking ways to stimulate their weak economies.

With its benchmark interest rate already cut to between zero and a quarter of a percent, the Fed has little room for manoeuvre in the face of yet another slowdown.

Analyst Jim Bianco listed the problems facing the US: “There is a protracted slowdown in the economy and it’s unmistakable right now, especially with the downward revisions that we saw in the previous numbers, and that they are all going to have to go back and rework their assumptions about a potential slowdown in the economy coming, for the third summer in a row now, as we’ve seen before.”

In its statement after the meeting the Fed said the US economy is “expanding moderately,” but conceded employment growth has slowed and would come down “only slowly.”

In May only 69,000 new jobs were created and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent

The bank expressed worries about weaker consumer spending saying it “appears to be rising at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year,” but said inflation “has declined” mainly because of lower oil prices and its longer-term inflation expectations remain stable.


Wars and Rumors of War

War-Frames: Mainstream wages Syria dis-info campaign

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

UN observers say they’re committed to completing their mission in Syria, seen as key to ending violence, despite the earlier decision to halt it because of security risks. Observers claim they’ve been given safety guarantees by the Syrian government, but not from the opposition. There’s been a spate of fighting in the country, with a major media war also gathering pace. RT’s Marina Portnaya has the latest.

Jane Ferguson reports from Gaza

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

Two more Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes
on the Gaza Strip.
That takes the death toll to nine since the fighting along the Israeli-Gaza border began on Monday.

Children are believed to be among the dead.

Hamas has fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson reports.

Malians flee to Burkina Faso amid drought

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

The UN refugee agency says that a record 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year.

Many of them were displaced by conflicts in their home countries.

Mali is one example. More than 320,000 people have been forced from their homes since January because of fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels.

Many are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries – which are struggling to cope with the influx.

The situation is particularly precarious as the Sahel region is going through a major drought.

Al Jazeera’s Laura Kyle reports from Burkina Faso’s Mintao camp and May Welsh reports from Mali’s Timbuktu.


Articles of Interest

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Seeks Asylum in Ecuador In Attempt To Avoid Extradition to U.S.

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London and asked for asylum. Assange made the move Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime accusations. Earlier today, police in London announced Assange is now subject to arrest because his decision to spend the night at the Ecuadorean embassy violated the conditions of his bail. Assange is seeking asylum because he fears extradition to Sweden may lead to his transfer to the United States where he could potentially face charges relating to Wikileaks. “In my view, it is a situation of political persecution of Julian Assange for his political activities,” says Michael Ratner, a member of Assange’s legal team. “It fits in the asylum application procedure under the Declaration of Human Rights.” In an apparent reference to the United States, an Ecuadorean official said Assange fears being extradited “to a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty.”

See Democracy Now!’s interviews with Julian Assange: http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/julian_assange

Bail Break: Loz Kaye on Assange Ecuador asylum request

Published on Jun 20, 2012 by

Julian Assange is facing arrest – British police say the Wikileaks editor has violated his bail terms by seeking sanctuary at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Assange has asked for political asylum in the Latin American country to avoid extradition to Sweden. For more, RT talks to Loz Kaye, the leader of the Pirate Party in the UK.


  • [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.]


Are Fake Prescription Drugs Killing Us?

Published on Jun 11, 2012 by

“What would have cost tens of thousands of dollars…can now be done for hundreds of dollars, so it’s easier to fake stuff now,” warns Roger Bate, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the author of “Phake: The Deadly World of Falsified and Substandard Medicine.”

Counterfeit, adulterated, or otherwise compromised prescription drugs are a major problem in Africa and a growing problem in the First World, argues Bate. In recent years, counterfeiters passed off hundreds of thousands of phony Lexapro pills around the globe and in 2008 at least 149 Americans died from fake Heparin, a blood-thinning drug. All told, says Bate, the number of deaths globally from ineffective drugs ranges from 100,000 to 1 million.

As drug production moves to China and other developing nations where oversight is tougher to maintain and more sales take place online where provenance can be tougher to ascertain, Bate says that the most viable solution is increased vigilance on the part of drug makers, providers, and patients alike. He looks forward to a fast-approaching world in which hand-held spectrometers verify pills on the spot and praises various online-pharmacy certification programs.

Referring to the classic 1949 film, “The Third Man,” in which Orson Welles plays a drug counterfeiter whose watered-down penicillin in post-war Europe leads to the death of several children, Bate gives Hollywood credit for being well ahead of the curve on putting the spotlight on what he calls “the 2nd oldest profession.”

About 7 minutes. Interview by Nick Gillespie (follow him on Twitter at @nickgillespie). Produced by Anthony L. Fisher, with camera by Jim Epstein and Joshua Swain.

Go to http://Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

US healthcare reform cannot be undone, says former Medicare boss

Don Berwick says supreme court cannot turn back the clock on reforms that have already become standard across the US

Don Berwick, administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Don Berwick’s downfall was considered to be his praise for Britain’s universal national health service at a rally in London’s Wembley stadium Photograph: Bloomberg

Barack Obama‘s healthcare reform has already progressed so far in most parts of the United States that it will not be possible to unpick it even if the supreme court rules the law unconstitutional, according to the former head of Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr Don Berwick, who resigned the job in December when it became clear Congress would not confirm his recess appointment made by President Obama, said a great deal of change was under way. “There is so much tectonic motion now – the plates are shifting – and I don’t think they can go back. I’m speaking now to a lot of communities all over the country and I’ve not seen one where there isn’t major change in motion,” he told the Guardian in Boston.

Berwick, who has now joined the think tank Center for American Progress, said he thought the supreme court might allow the law to stand. “Maybe they’ll choose to say this is something that should be hashed out in Congress but not brought to the courts to decide,” he said.

“I suspect that if they do act they may well just take the individual mandate only – take the narrowest possible decision. But I don’t know what they’ll do. I’m concerned if they tamper with the law they will produce a cascade of effects that will be bad for people. Fewer people will have insurance and a lot of the productive logic that is starting to enter healthcare about let’s focus on patients, let’s co-ordinate, let’s work on quality – a lot of that would be eroded.”

The justices in Washington are expected to deliver their ruling in the next 10 days, a decision that could have a serious impact on Obama’s re-election hopes as well as the healthcare of the millions of Americans who currently have inadequate coverage or none at all.

But Berwick says the clock cannot be turned back on moves that are under way everywhere to improve the co-ordination and quality of care as the Act requires, he says. Doctors and hospitals are exploring different relationships. Accountable care organisations (ACOs) are springing up to provide the entire network of care many people need – specialist, primary care doctor and home health care as well, instead of just the separate parts – and these are being offered not just to Medicare patients but to the privately insured as well.

“So I don’t think we will ever go back,” said Berwick. “And if the court strikes the law, you may well see the private sector momentum continue and overtake the public sector momentum for a while. Medicare is so big and so important that you really can’t get the whole system to move without Medicare’s involvement, but Medicare can lead or it can follow. If either the court or the Congress choose to back down from this progress then I think Medicare will find itself following in the long run.”

He admits it is an optimistic view. “I guess we can’t go on as we are. What I’m not optimistic about is that if we enter a phase now of chaos and recision, I think the most vulnerable part of our population will be the poor, the disadvantaged,” he says.

“Medicaid is more vulnerable than Medicare because it serves a less vocal population and it’s a state/federal partnership, so the politics are more difficult. You can see damage to Medicaid occurring. If I were a governor, I’d face a terrible problem right now with state budget deficits and Medicaid is an obvious target. But it worries me a lot. If you don’t get the kind of reforms in healthcare on quality and continuity and patient centred-ness that the ACA progresses in Medicare and Medicaid, then the poor will get hurt, and we’re really on a knife edge on that one.”

He rejects suspicions of Medicaid recipients. “It’s naïve. You go into communities, and people say I met this Medicaid beneficiary who is driving a Cadillac. I say: well I’ve met bad examples wherever I’ve looked but that is not the mean case. When I was in practice in paediatrics the majority of my patients were people who were disadvantaged, and they weren’t there by choice. They were there by circumstance and a compassionate country would reach out a hand and that’s what Medicaid does.”

‘England … makes healthcare a human right’

Berwick’s downfall was considered to be his praise for Britain’s universal national health service at a rally in London’s Wembley stadium to celebrate the NHS’s 60th anniversary. “I was congratulating England, as I still feel as a country that makes healthcare a human right. In that same speech I was talking about the problems. There are many things that need to be fixed in British healthcare,” said Berwick, who was knighted by the Queen for his work on improving the quality of healthcare in the UK under the Blair government.

But it gave his Republican opponents in Congress the reasons they were looking for to reject his appointment. “I would say I was a kind of symbolic target. If I hadn’t said nice things abut the NHS, something else would have been picked up on. I think there was no way they would have confirmed me.

“I went to a number of the senators who opposed me and talked with them and explained my real beliefs which did not coincide with the rhetoric they were using. But they would go ahead and ignore me, and the truth was not in their interests. The minute that law passed things became polarised and the old hands in Washington said it was polarised to a degree they have never seen before. I would say polarised to an irresponsible degree. The public should expect more of their public servants.” He points out that a mere 9% of the population now approves of the way Congress is doing its work.

The act is set to improve and give access to healthcare for millions of people, but the Republicans “grabbed the high ground of communication”, he says. “They had concerns about rationing, about government takeover of medicine, about death panels, about the socialisation of medicine, none of which were accurate and many of which were completely deceptive, whether consciously or unconsciously so.”

The story did not get well told, but in the last six months, as provisions such as rebates on prescription drugs and children no longer being excluded from insurance for pre-existing conditions kick in, that has begun to change, he believes.

He warns that increasing the role of the private sector in the NHS, as the British government is now doing, is risky. “I would be cautious – very cautious,” he said. “When you invite entrepreneurial private sector investors into the delivery of care, under most payment systems, they will be very interested in volume. They will be very interested in doing more things to people and you may find that you lose control of that level of discipline to the disadvantage of patients. When more things are done, more unnecessary things get done and more hazard enters the system – not just cost.

“You want hospitals that seek to be empty, doctors that seek to be idle, machines that are few. In healthcare you want to find the way to help that is the least invasive of the person’s life and body. A volume-based system does not have that incentive structure.”

Berwick wishes he was still running Medicare and Medicaid. “I loved the job. It was an amazing opportunity, and I loved my staff . It was a great chance to try to help and very interesting – I learned a lot. I feel that my background in quality and systems was relevant. [He previously founded and ran the Boston-based Institute for Health Improvement]. I regret that I was unable to stay.”


Holistic Health

GMOs – It’s time for change

By John McKiernan,
(NaturalNews) More than 40 countries, including China, require the labeling of genetically modified foods, but the U.S. is not one of them. Almost the entire U.S. soy (94 percent) and corn (72 percent) crop is now GMO. The only way to avoid these crops is to buy certified organic. Recent polls show 90 percent of Americans want GMO labeling, yet the big food corporations are still not required to label. Americans believe strongly in their right to know what’s in their food, yet we still don’t have…

Preliminary studies examine the effect of cannabis extracts on multiple sclerosis

By Raw Michelle, 
(NaturalNews) As part of the increasing interest in the non-psychoactive medicinal benefits of cannabis, research is pushing forward, despite legislative resistance, to appraise the long list of claims of the healing power of cannabis. An extensive background checkThe plant’s abilities as a painkiller and an anti-nauseant are well documented, but the plant also has a long history, almost 5000 years, of claims of other medical uses. As one of the 50 “fundamental” herbs in ancient Chinese traditional…

Dark chocolate shown to protect against heart attack and stroke in at-risk individuals

By John Phillip, 
(NaturalNews) Heart disease and stroke continues to rank as the leading, preventable cause of death in most Western societies, killing three-quarters of a million people combined. Any natural compound that can significantly lower the death rate from vascular diseases should be embraced by natural health advocates and the medical profession alike. Yet allopathic physicians continue to prescribe a host of ineffective and dangerous prescription medications that do little to combat this epidemic. The…


Pet Health

Two Things About Your Pet’s Nose You Should Know

By Dr. Becker

  • Contrary to the popular myth about cold, wet noses, a warm, dry nose isn’t a sign your pet is ill unless other symptoms are present, for example, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.
  • The time to take notice is if your dog’s or cat’s nose changes texture or color. If the skin seems flaky or crusty or is cracking, or if the nose seems to be losing pigmentation, you’ll want to have your vet take a look at it.
  • Your pet’s nose can change color either temporarily or permanently, for benign reasons or more serious ones. There are a wide variety of causes for nose pigmentation changes.
  • Signs of a potential problem with the nose are an unusual nasal discharge, swelling, an unpleasant smell, or if your pet seems to be having trouble breathing.
  • There are several diseases that can affect the nose, so you should learn what your pet’s nose looks like when it’s healthy. That way, you’ll be able to tell right away if a problem might be developing.

If Your Dog’s Gait is Changing, Check for This Condition

By Dr. Becker

  • Elbow dysplasia is a catchall term that describes inherited developmental abnormalities in a dog’s elbow joint. The four types of elbow joint problems include ununited anconeal process (UAP), fragmented coronoid process (FCP), osteochrondrosis dissecans (OCD) and “elbow incongruency.”
  • Certain dogs are predisposed to elbow problems, primarily large and giant breeds. It’s important if you’re planning to acquire a dog from a breeder that a high-risk puppy’s parents have been cleared for elbow dysplasia by OFA (the Orthopedic Foundation of America).
  • Symptoms of elbow dysplasia include lameness, abnormal gait, holding the elbows at odd angles, unwillingness to move around much or play, tiring easily, stiffness upon standing, and a worsening of the condition after exercise.
  • The goal of treatment of elbow dysplasia is to relieve pain and maintain function in the affected limbs, allowing the dog to live an active, normal life. Treatment involves keeping the dog at a healthy weight, getting moderate exercise, rehab therapies (especially in water), natural anti-inflammatory agents, and sometimes, surgery.
  • Many dogs with elbow dysplasia can be well managed without resorting to surgery.

Luxury B&B Rolls Out the Red Carpet for You AND Your Dog

If you’re planning to take your dog along on vacation this summer, you’re probably already researching pet-friendly accommodations.

Fortunately, there are several lodging chains that allow pets these days, so it’s fairly easy to map out a road trip with overnight stays at pet-friendly hotels along the way.

Of course, there’s a difference between facilities that allow your pet to stay in the room with you, and accommodations that are actually designed with pets in mind.

El Portal in stunning Sedona, Arizona is the latter.

It’s also one of very few luxury hotels to welcome pets.

Luxury B&B Where Your Dog is as Welcome as You Are

El Portal is a bed and breakfast that opened its doors as a hotel catering to both human and canine guests.

The owners, a couple, spent their careers in the pet food and care industry before opening El Portal.

The B&B has a Southwestern theme and only 12 rooms, each uniquely designed and furnished.

The floors throughout are wood and tile to accommodate doggy visitors, and there’s a 1,000 square-foot fenced patio where guests and their pets can relax.

When you and your pup check in, he’ll get his own special treat basket and one of the beds in your room is for him. You’ll also receive a list of the area’s dog-friendly parks and restaurants (outdoors), pet supply stores, grooming facilities, and veterinarians.

You can also schedule dogs-welcome tours of nearby attractions like the Grand Canyon.

Read Full Article Here



Lion bone trade fuels breeding business in Africa

Published on Jun 11, 2012 by

Every year, hundreds of tourists pay about $20,000 to be able to shoot lions in an enclosure. This is called canned hunting.

With tigers on the brink of extinction, dead lion bones are increasingly used as a substitute in Asian markets as some believe they can cure illnesses.

Some are now afraid lions are being bred just for their bones and that the appetite for lion bones will lead to them being poached in the wild, the same way endangered rhinos have been hunted.

There is no scientific proof tiger and lion bones have any medicinal benefits.

Al Jazeera’s Tania Page reports from South Africa.


Articles of Interest

Was humanity born in the mother of all plagues?

New Scientist

DNA plagues

© George Underwood/Getty Images
Switched off: Two Siglec genes made humans vulnerable to disease

Around 100,000 years ago, the human race was on the brink of extinction. Confined to Africa, our population had fallen to less than 10,000. Yet within a few tens of thousands of years, we began spreading around the world.

New genetic evidence suggests that one factor contributing to the population bottleneck was a massive epidemic of bacterial disease. The bacteria were exploiting two immune system genes, turning them against us. So the solution was simple: get rid of the traitorous genes.

Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego and colleagues looked at two genes called Siglec-13 and Siglec-17. Both code for proteins that are involved in controlling the immune system, helping to decide whether immune cells should go on the offensive.

Varki found that both genes are active in chimpanzees, but not in humans. Siglec-13 has been entirely deleted from the human genome, while Siglec-17 is non-functional as a result of losing one letter from its code.

Traitor genes

Why would we have got rid of two useful immune genes? Varki reconstructed the lost proteins and found that two dangerous bacteria, Group B Streptococcus and Escherichia coli K1, could bind to them.

Wondering if the bacteria could exploit the proteins, he expressed each protein in some human immune cells. The modified cells had a weaker response to the bacteria than immune cells without the proteins. That suggests the bacteria had found a way to dampen the immune response by binding to the two proteins.

Varki thinks that early humans were confronted with a massive epidemic of bacterial infection. The two bacteria he studied are particularly dangerous to newborn babies, who often die after being infected. That could explain why the human population fell so precipitously, and why we got rid of the Siglec genes that made us so vulnerable.

Population crash

The genetic data suggests that the two genes were switched off in some humans between 440,000 and 270,000 years ago, before modern humans split from our Neanderthal and Denisovan cousins. But it took a long time for the effect to spread through the entire population: some people may have had working versions of Siglec-13 as recently as 46,000 years ago. During that long period, Varki thinks our ancestors were decimated by disease.

“The recent advances in ancient DNA studies and the human genome project have made it possible to look at the co-evolution of humans and pathogens,” says Isabelle de Groote of the Natural History Museum in London, UK, who was not involved in the study. By combining data from genetics, archaeology and other disciplines, we can build up a more detailed picture of our evolution.

Students now snorting ADHD drugs before taking academic tests

By J. D. Heyes, 
(NaturalNews) Just when, as a parent, you think you’ve got this drug thing with your kids handled, they come up with something else to put themselves at risk and make you begin worrying about them all over again. The most recent trend now, according to reports, is for students to snort – yes, snort – attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs before taking academic exams, not for the high necessarily but to get a better score. In schools all across the country, students bent on getting…

If depression isn’t a chemical imbalance, then what is it?

By Larry Malerba, DO,
(NaturalNews) Contemporary scientific culture has fed us the mantra that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance for so long now that the premise is rarely questioned by the general public. On the other hand, there are many in the alternative health community who have been aware of this for a long time (1). Such an overly simplistic explanation suits the needs of a medical establishment that can only think of illness in biochemical terms. It conveniently dispenses with the inherent messiness…


[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.]


The World According to Monsanto (FULL LENGTH)

Uploaded by on May 18, 2011

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it — it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market. Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Single strain of killer virus wiping out global bee population

Reuters: Bee-killing virus gets supercharged by mites

Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Its cause is unclear but the Varroa mite is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph, or bee’s “blood”.

To clarify the link between mites and viruses, a team led by Stephen Martin of Britain’s University of Sheffield studied the impact of Varroa in Hawaii, which the mites have only recently invaded.

They found the arrival of Varroa increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10 percent to 100 percent.

At the same time the amount of DWV virus in the bees’ bodies rocketed by a millionfold and there was a huge reduction in virus diversity, with a single strain of DWV crowding out others.

“It is that strain that is now dominant around the world and seems to be killing bees,” Martin said in a telephone interview. “My money would be on this virus as being key.”

*  *  *

The Guardian: Honeybee decline linked to killer virus

Martin noted that the weakening of colonies through lack of food or the presence of damaging pesticides would make them more vulnerable to infestation.

The varroa mite’s role means the virus is now one of the “most widely distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet”, the researchers warned. Furthermore, the new dominance of the killer virus poses an ongoing threat to colonies even after beekeepers have eradicated the mites from hives.

Varroa destructor has spread from Asia across the entire world over the past 50 years. It arrived in the UK in 1990 and has been implicated in the halving of bee numbers since then, alongside other factors including the destruction of flowery habitats in which bees feed and the widespread use of pesticides on crops. Bees and other pollinators are vital in the production in up to a third of all the food we eat, but the role the mites played was unclear, as bacteria and fungi are also found in colonies along with the viruses.

But the mite’s arrival in Hawaii in 2007 gave scientists a unique opportunity to track its deadly spread. “We were able to watch the emergence of the disease for the first time ever,” said Stephen Martin, at the University of Sheffield, who led the new research published in the journal Science. Within a year of varroa arrival, 274 of 419 colonies on Oahu island (65%) were wiped out, with the mites going on to wreak destruction across Big Island the following year.

A particular virus, called deformed wing virus (DWV), was present in low and apparently harmless levels in colonies before the mites arrived, the scientists found. Even when the mites first invaded hives, the virus levels remained low. “But the following year the virus levels had gone through the roof.” said Martin. “It was a millionfold increase – it was staggering.”

The other key finding was that one DWV strain had gone from making up 10% of the virus population to making up 100%. “The viral landscape had changed and to one that happened to be deadly to bees,” Martin said, noting the DWV strain was the same one found around the world. “There is a very strong correlation between where you get this DWV strain and where you get huge amounts of colony losses. We are almost certain this study seals the link between the two.” […]

Martin noted that the weakening of colonies through lack of food or the presence of damaging pesticides would make them more vulnerable to infestation.

  Read Full Article Here

Forest lands in the East attract oil and gas bidders, but some question rush

By , Published: June 8

Oil and gas companies looking to lease swaths of U.S. Forest Service land holding the promise of shale gas deposits and other fossil fuel resources have made the Bureau of Land Management’s Eastern States Office in Springfield ground zero for a new land rush.For years Forest Service land in the East was considered irrelevant when it came to oil and gas leasing. But in the past year and a half, the federal government has leased or scheduled for auction more than 384,000 acres at the request of private bidders, more than 10 times as much land as it had leased in the previous two years.


Eastern United States oil and gas leasing on National Forest land.

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

Eastern United States oil and gas leasing on National Forest land.

The burst of activity has sparked a public debate over how to reconcile the different uses of national forests.The office was scheduled to auction the rights to energy exploration on nearly 90,000 acres of Forest Service land in four states — Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — next week, but announced Friday it would delay the Alabama auction in the face of widespread protest there. Meanwhile, officials at Virginia’s George Washington Forest are embroiled in a controversy over whether to ban any future horizontal drilling in the forest, as they proposed last year, or leave open the possibility for companies in the future.The intense competition in recent years to lease private land for a form of oil and gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made federal lands overlying shale deposits more attractive even if they might not be developed for years, said Kevin Book, managing director for research at Clearview Energy Partners. With the exception of 38,174 acres in Alabama’s Conecuh National Forest, all of the Eastern U.S. forest acreage leased since 2011 lies over shale deposits.“Every area overlying shale resources is being leased, whether it’s in the West or the East,” Book said. “When the race is on and in the heat of battle, the price of private land is very expensive. The federal government makes it slower and more difficult to do [drilling], but by comparison these are relatively cheap leases.”

Private land overlying shale deposits can sell for thousands of dollars an acre; land in the most recent BLM forest leases averaged $47 per acre.

Robert Bonnie, senior adviser to the secretary of agriculture for environment and climate, said Friday that the government decided to delay the auction of 42,965 acres in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest because “both the Forest Service and the BLM recognize the need to solicit public input on this.” But he said the government would press ahead with energy exploration elsewhere on national forests.

“What we balance is conservation and resource extraction,” Bonnie said.

“Forest Service areas are multiple-use lands,” said Dan Naatz, vice president for federal resources at the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “Our concern is Forest Service areas are being more and more managed like national parks, rather than for multiple use.”

But environmentalists, as well as some officials in regions that have experienced an uptick in lease applications, said the small BLM office in Springfield overseeing forests in 31 Eastern states is ill-equipped to evaluate the requests it is receiving from prospective land buyers.

Read Full Article here


Cyber Space

U.S., Mexico reach border spectrum agreement

The deal clears spectrum for public safety agencies to use along the border

By Grant Gross

IDG News Service – The U.S. and Mexican governments have reached agreements on the sharing of wireless spectrum on the border of the two countries, opening up spectrum in the 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands to commercial services and public safety agencies, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Friday.

The signing of two agreements Friday allows the FCC to move forward with longtime efforts to reband, or reconfigure, the 800 MHz spectrum across the U.S. and give public safety agencies contiguous spectrum to operate wireless emergency response services, the FCC said.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski participated in discussions between the two countries Friday at the U.S. Department of State, the FCC said.

“These agreements with Mexico will unleash investment and benefit consumers near the borders by enabling the rollout of advanced wireless broadband service and advanced systems for critical public safety and emergency response communications,” he said in a statement.

The 800 MHz agreement, replacing an earlier agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, allots band segments between the two countries and sets the technical parameters for operating in those segments within 68 miles of the border.

The agreement for the 1.9 GHz band allows Sprint Nextel to deploy mobile service along the border with Mexico.A Sprint obtained access to the 1.9 GHz band in 2004 as compensation for vacating its spectrum holding in the lower segment of the 800 MHz band as part of the rebanding project.

Public safety and commercial mobile services were originally “mixed together” on the same spectrum in the 800 MHz block, according to the RadioReference.com wiki. In the late 1990s,




Published on May 29, 2012 by

On May 29 2012 the news in Utah aired this segment on the RFID chip. The government wants chip kids to get them to go to school. They say that it’s to bring revenue to the school district. People in Mexico are already using it on their kids beause of kidnappers. Meny people think that the tchnology is not a good idea. Proof that kids that are in school means more money for district.


the FCC found significant interference with public safety communications, leading the agency to work on rebanding the 800 MHz block.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant’s e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

The cost of online spying: Your privacy and your wallet

Published on May 23, 2012 by

Take action: http://OpenMedia.ca/stand

– Would you want up to three billion dollars of your country’s tax dollars spent on Vic Toews’ online spying plan? How would you feel if Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had already quietly set aside your tax dollars for the scheme?

This isn’t a hypothetical question. Despite media stories saying the bill will die, just last week Vic Toews arrogantly proclaimed that the government is still “intent on proceeding” with his unpopular warrantless online spying bill. And he just set aside millions of your tax dollars to pay for it.

To push back, we’re launching a viral video—a new tool to help you educate as many Canadians as possible about this costly online spying scheme. We know from experience that when people get informed and get vocal en masse, we win.

Directed by Jeremy Brown


Survival / Sustainability

Zeer Pot Fridge. Cool your food or drinks with no electric needed!

Uploaded by on Aug 1, 2011

Zeer Pot Fridge. Cool your food or drinks with no electric needed!
This DIY project uses a red clay pot and sand to cool the contents inside from evaporation. Evaporator coolers work great and they are very easy to make. This Zeer pot might have been what the ancients used to keep their produce fresh in the summer seasons to last longer. I think this could be very handy if we were to loose power.. Please comment rate and subscribe.
All the best,
prehistoric refrigerator called a zeer pot


Backyard aquaponics: DIY system to farm fish with vegetables

Uploaded by on Aug 22, 2011

Rob Torcellini bought a $700 greenhouse kit to grow more vegetables in his backyard. Then he added fish to get rid of a mosquito problem and before long he was a committed aquaponic gardener. Now his 10 by 12 foot greenhouse is filled with not only vegetables, but fish. And the best part is: the poo from that fish is what fertilizes his garden. Aquaponics combines fish farming (aquaculture) with the practice of raising plants in water (hydroponics). It’s organic by definition: instead of using chemical fertilizers, plants are fertilized by the fish poo (and pesticides/herbicides can’t be introduced to kill pests because they could harm the fish). Since the plants don’t need dirt, aquaponics allows gardeners to produce more food in less space. And in addition to the vegetables they can grow, most aquaponics gardeners cultivate edible fish as well. In this video, Rob shows us the aquaponics greenhouse in his Connecticut backyard, that he built mostly from scavenged parts, as well as his DIY indoor system where he’s growing lettuce under a grow light.
Bigelow Brook Farm: http://www.bigelowbrook.com
Original story on faircompanies:



The 1 Percent’s Problem

Joseph E. Stiglitz
Vanity Fair

one percent

© Unknown

Let’s start by laying down the baseline premise: inequality in America has been widening for dec­ades. We’re all aware of the fact. Yes, there are some on the right who deny this reality, but serious analysts across the political spectrum take it for granted. I won’t run through all the evidence here, except to say that the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is vast when looked at in terms of annual income, and even vaster when looked at in terms of wealth – that is, in terms of accumulated capital and other assets. Consider the Walton family: the six heirs to the Walmart empire possess a combined wealth of some $90 billion, which is equivalent to the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of U.S. society. (Many at the bottom have zero or negative net worth, especially after the housing debacle.) Warren Buffett put the matter correctly when he said, “There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years and my class has won.”

So, no: there’s little debate over the basic fact of widening inequality. The debate is over its meaning. From the right, you sometimes hear the argument made that inequality is basically a good thing: as the rich increasingly benefit, so does everyone else. This argument is false: while the rich have been growing richer, most Americans (and not just those at the bottom) have been unable to maintain their standard of living, let alone to keep pace. A typical full-time male worker receives the same income today he did a third of a century ago.

From the left, meanwhile, the widening inequality often elicits an appeal for simple justice: why should so few have so much when so many have so little? It’s not hard to see why, in a market-driven age where justice itself is a commodity to be bought and sold, some would dismiss that argument as the stuff of pious sentiment.

Put sentiment aside. There are good reasons why plutocrats should care about inequality anyway – even if they’re thinking only about themselves. The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable. The evidence from history and from around the modern world is unequivocal: there comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and when it does, even the rich pay a steep price.

Let me run through a few reasons why.

The Consumption Problem

When one interest group holds too much power, it succeeds in getting policies that help itself in the short term rather than help society as a whole over the long term. This is what has happened in America when it comes to tax policy, regulatory policy, and public investment. The consequence of channeling gains in income and wealth in one direction only is easy to see when it comes to ordinary household spending, which is one of the engines of the American economy.

It is no accident that the periods in which the broadest cross sections of Americans have reported higher net incomes – when inequality has been reduced, partly as a result of progressive taxation – have been the periods in which the U.S. economy has grown the fastest. It is likewise no accident that the current recession, like the Great Depression, was preceded by large increases in inequality. When too much money is concentrated at the top of society, spending by the average American is necessarily reduced – or at least it will be in the absence of some artificial prop. Moving money from the bottom to the top lowers consumption because higher-income individuals consume, as a fraction of their income, less than lower-income individuals do.

In our imaginations, it doesn’t always seem as if this is the case, because spending by the wealthy is so conspicuous. Just look at the color photographs in the back pages of the weekend Wall Street Journal of houses for sale. But the phenomenon makes sense when you do the math. Consider someone like Mitt Romney, whose income in 2010 was $21.7 million. Even if Romney chose to live a much more indulgent lifestyle, he would spend only a fraction of that sum in a typical year to support himself and his wife in their several homes. But take the same amount of money and divide it among 500 people – say, in the form of jobs paying $43,400 apiece – and you’ll find that almost all of the money gets spent.

The relationship is straightforward and ironclad: as more money becomes concentrated at the top, aggregate demand goes into a decline. Unless something else happens by way of intervention, total demand in the economy will be less than what the economy is capable of supplying – and that means that there will be growing unemployment, which will dampen demand even further. In the 1990s that “something else” was the tech bubble. In the first dec­ade of the 21st century, it was the housing bubble. Today, the only recourse, amid deep recession, is government spending – which is exactly what those at the top are now hoping to curb.

The “Rent Seeking” Problem

Here I need to resort to a bit of economic jargon. The word “rent” was originally used, and still is, to describe what someone received for the use of a piece of his land – it’s the return obtained by virtue of ownership, and not because of anything one actually does or produces. This stands in contrast to “wages,” for example, which connotes compensation for the labor that workers provide. The term “rent” was eventually extended to include monopoly profits – the income that one receives simply from the control of a monopoly. In time, the meaning was expanded still further to include the returns on other kinds of ownership claims. If the government gave a company the exclusive right to import a certain amount of a certain good, such as sugar, then the extra return was called a “quota rent.” The acquisition of rights to mine or drill produces a form of rent. So does preferential tax treatment for special interests. In a broad sense, “rent seeking” defines many of the ways by which our current political process helps the rich at the expense of everyone else, including transfers and subsidies from the government, laws that make the marketplace less competitive, laws that allow C.E.O.’s to take a disproportionate share of corporate revenue (though Dodd-Frank has made matters better by requiring a non-binding shareholder vote on compensation at least once every three years), and laws that permit corporations to make profits as they degrade the environment.

The magnitude of “rent seeking” in our economy, while hard to quantify, is clearly enormous. Individuals and corporations that excel at rent seeking are handsomely rewarded. The financial industry, which now largely functions as a market in speculation rather than a tool for promoting true economic productivity, is the rent-seeking sector par excellence. Rent seeking goes beyond speculation. The financial sector also gets rents out of its domination of the means of payment – the exorbitant credit- and debit-card fees and also the less well-known fees charged to merchants and passed on, eventually, to consumers. The money it siphons from poor and middle-class Americans through predatory lending practices can be thought of as rents. In recent years, the financial sector has accounted for some 40 percent of all corporate profits. This does not mean that its social contribution sneaks into the plus column, or comes even close. The crisis showed how it could wreak havoc on the economy. In a rent-seeking economy such as ours has become, private returns and social returns are badly out of whack.

In their simplest form, rents are nothing more than re-distributions from one part of society to the rent seekers. Much of the inequality in our economy has been the result of rent seeking, because, to a significant degree, rent seeking re-distributes money from those at the bottom to those at the top.

But there is a broader economic consequence: the fight to acquire rents is at best a zero-sum activity. Rent seeking makes nothing grow. Efforts are directed toward getting a larger share of the pie rather than increasing the size of the pie. But it’s worse than that: rent seeking distorts resource allocations and makes the economy weaker. It is a centripetal force: the rewards of rent seeking become so outsized that more and more energy is directed toward it, at the expense of everything else. Countries rich in natural resources are infamous for rent-seeking activities. It’s far easier to get rich in these places by getting access to resources at favorable terms than by producing goods or services that benefit people and increase productivity. That’s why these economies have done so badly, in spite of their seeming wealth. It’s easy to scoff and say: We’re not Nigeria, we’re not Congo. But the rent-seeking dynamic is the same.

The Fairness Problem

People are not machines. They have to be motivated to work hard. If they feel that they are being treated unfairly, it can be difficult to motivate them. This is one of the central tenets of modern labor economics, encapsulated in the so-called efficiency-wage theory, which argues that how firms treat their workers – including how much they pay them – affects productivity. It was, in fact, a theory elaborated nearly a century ago by the great economist Alfred Marshall, who observed that “highly paid labour is generally efficient and therefore not dear labour.” In truth, it’s wrong to think of this proposition as just a theory: it has been borne out by countless economic experiments.

While people will always disagree over the precise meaning of what constitutes “fair,” there is a growing sense in America that the current disparity in income, and the way wealth is allocated in general, is profoundly unfair. There’s no begrudging the wealth accrued by those who have transformed our economy – the inventors of the computer, the pioneers of biotechnology. But, for the most part, these are not the people at the top of our economic pyramid. Rather, to a too large extent, it’s people who have excelled at rent seeking in one form or another. And, to most Americans, that seems unfair.

People were surprised when the financial firm MF Global, headed by Jon Corzine, suddenly collapsed into bankruptcy last year, leaving victims by the thousands as a result of actions that may prove to have been criminal; but given Wall Street’s recent history, I’m not sure people were all that surprised to learn that several MF Global executives would still be getting their bonuses. When corporate C.E.O.’s argue that wages have to be reduced or that there must be layoffs in order for companies to compete – and simultaneously increase their own compensation – workers rightly consider what is happening to be unfair. This in turn affects their efforts on the job, their loyalty to the firm, and their willingness to invest in its future. The widespread sense by workers in the Soviet Union that they were being mistreated in exactly this way – exploited by managers who lived high on the hog – played a major role in the hollowing out of the Soviet economy, and in its ultimate collapse. As the old Soviet joke had it, “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.”

In a society in which inequality is widening, fairness is not just about wages and income, or wealth. It’s a far more generalized perception. Do I seem to have a stake in the direction society is going, or not? Do I share in the benefits of collective action, or not? If the answer is a loud “no,” then brace for a decline in motivation whose repercussions will be felt economically and in all aspects of civic life.

For Americans, one key aspect of fairness is opportunity: everyone should have a fair shot at living the American Dream. Horatio Alger stories remain the mythic ideal, but the statistics paint a very different picture: in America, the chances of someone’s making it to the top, or even to the middle, from a place near the bottom are lower than in the countries of old Europe or in any other advanced industrial country. Those at the top can take comfort from knowing that their chances of becoming downwardly mobile are lower in America than they are elsewhere.

There are many costs to this lack of opportunity. A large number of Americans are not living up to their potential; we’re wasting our most valuable asset, our talent. As we slowly grasp what’s been happening, there will be an erosion of our sense of identity, in which America is seen as a fair country. This will have direct economic effects – but also indirect ones, fraying the bonds that hold us together as a nation.

The Mistrust Problem

One of the puzzles in modern political economy is why anyone bothers to vote. Very few elections actually turn on the ballot of a single individual. There is a cost to voting – no state has an explicit penalty for staying home, but it takes time and effort to get to the polls – and there is seemingly almost never a benefit. Modern political and economic theory assumes the existence of rational, self-interested actors. On that basis, why anyone would vote is a mystery.

The answer is that we’ve been inculcated with notions of “civic virtue.” It is our responsibility to vote. But civic virtue is fragile. If the belief takes hold that the political and economic systems are stacked, individuals will feel released from their civic obligations. When that social contract is abrogated – when trust between a government and its citizens fails – disillusionment, disengagement, or worse is sure to follow. In the United States today, and in many other democracies around the world, mistrust is on the ascendant.

It’s even built in. The head of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, made it perfectly clear: sophisticated investors don’t, or at least shouldn’t, rely on trust. Those who bought the products his bank sold were consenting adults who should have known better. They should have known that Goldman Sachs had the means, and the incentive, to design products that would fail; that they had the means and the incentive to create asymmetries of information – where they knew more about the products than the buyers did – and the means and the incentive to take advantage of those asymmetries. The people who fell victim to the investment banks were, for the most part, well-off investors. But deceptive credit-card practices and predatory lending have left Americans more broadly with a sense that banks are not to be trusted.

Economists often underestimate the role of trust in making our economy work. If every contract had to be enforced by one party taking the other to court, our economy would be in gridlock. Throughout history, the economies that have flourished are those where a handshake is a deal. Without trust, business arrangements based on an understanding that complex details will be worked out later are no longer feasible. Without trust, each participant looks around to see how and when those with whom he is dealing will betray him.

Widening inequality is corrosive of trust: in its economic impact, think of it as the universal solvent. It creates an economic world in which even the winners are wary. But the losers! In every transaction – in every encounter with a boss or business or bureaucrat – they see the hand of someone out to take advantage of them.

Nowhere is trust more important than in politics and the public sphere. There, we have to act together. It’s easier to act together when most individuals are in similar situations – when most of us are, if not in the same boat, at least in boats within a range of like sizes. But growing inequality makes it clear that our fleet looks different – it’s a few mega-yachts surrounded by masses of people in dugout canoes, or clinging to flotsam – which helps explain our vastly differing views of what the government should do.

Today’s widening inequality extends to almost everything – police protection, the condition of local roads and utilities, access to decent health care, access to good public schools. As higher education becomes more important – not just for individuals but for the future of the whole U.S. economy – those at the top push for university budget cuts and tuition hikes, on the one hand, and cutbacks in guaranteed student loans, on the other. To the extent that they advocate student loans at all, it’s as another opportunity for rent seeking: loans to for-profit schools, without standards; loans that are non-dischargeable even in bankruptcy; loans designed as another way for those at the top to exploit those aspiring to get out of the bottom.

The “Be Selfish” Solution

Many, if not most, Americans possess a limited understanding of the nature of the inequality in our society. They know that something has gone wrong, but they underestimate the harm that inequality does even as they overestimate the cost of taking action. These mistaken beliefs, which have been reinforced by ideological rhetoric, are having a catastrophic effect on politics and economic policy.

There is no good reason why the 1 percent, with their good educations, their ranks of advisers, and their much-vaunted business acumen, should be so misinformed. The 1 percent in generations past often knew better. They knew that there would be no top of the pyramid if there wasn’t a solid base – that their own position was precarious if society itself was unsound. Henry Ford, not remembered as one of history’s softies, understood that the best thing he could do for himself and his company was to pay his workers a decent wage, because he wanted them to work hard and he wanted them to be able to buy his cars. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a purebred patrician, understood that the only way to save an essentially capitalist America was not only to spread the wealth, through taxation and social programs, but to put restraints on capitalism itself, through regulation. Roosevelt and the economist John Maynard Keynes, while reviled by the capitalists, succeeded in saving capitalism from the capitalists. Richard Nixon, known to this day as a manipulative cynic, concluded that social peace and economic stability could best be secured by investment – and invest he did, heavily, in Medicare, Head Start, Social Security, and efforts to clean up the environment. Nixon even floated the idea of a guaranteed annual income.

So, the advice I’d give to the 1 percent today is: Harden your hearts. When invited to consider proposals to reduce inequality – by raising taxes and investing in education, public works, health care, and science – put any latent notions of altruism aside and reduce the idea to one of unadulterated self-interest. Don’t embrace it because it helps other people. Just do it for yourself.


Articles of Interest

More U.S. Soldiers Dying from Suicide Than Combat

Robert Burns
ABC News


© AP

Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan – about 50 percent more – according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.

Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year’s upswing has caught some officials by surprise.

The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.

The unpopular war in Afghanistan is winding down with the last combat troops scheduled to leave at the end of 2014. But this year has seen record numbers of soldiers being killed by Afghan troops, and there also have been several scandals involving U.S. troop misconduct.

The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18 percent increase. And it’s more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011. This year’s January-May total is up 25 percent from two years ago, and it is 16 percent ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far.

Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in earlier periods, including for the full years 2008 and 2009.

The suicide pattern varies over the course of a year, but in each of the past five years the trend through May was a reliable predictor for the full year, according to a chart based on figures provided by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The numbers are rising among the 1.4 million active-duty military personnel despite years of effort to encourage troops to seek help with mental health problems. Many in the military believe that going for help is seen as a sign of weakness and thus a potential threat to advancement.

Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Maj. John Ruocco, a helicopter pilot who hanged himself in 2005 between Iraq deployments, said he was unable to bring himself to go for help.

“He was so afraid of how people would view him once he went for help,” she said in an interview at her home in suburban Boston. “He thought that people would think he was weak, that people would think he was just trying to get out of redeploying or trying to get out of service, or that he just couldn’t hack it – when, in reality, he was sick. He had suffered injury in combat and he had also suffered from depression and let it go untreated for years. And because of that, he’s dead today.”

Ruocco is currently director of suicide prevention programs for the military support organization Tragedy Assistance Programs, or TAPS. She joined the group after her husband’s suicide, and she organized its first program focused on support for families of suicide victims.

Jackie Garrick, head of a newly established Defense Suicide Prevention Office at the Pentagon, said in an interview Thursday that the suicide numbers this year are troubling.

“We are very concerned at this point that we are seeing a high number of suicides at a point in time where we were expecting to see a lower number of suicides,” she said, adding that the weak U.S. economy may be confounding preventive efforts even as the pace of military deployments eases.

Garrick said experts are still struggling to understand suicidal behavior.

“What makes one person become suicidal and another not is truly an unknown,” she said.

Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, said the suicides reflect the level of tension as the U.S. eases out of Afghanistan though violence continues.

“It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” he said in an interview. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”

But Xenakis said he worries that many senior military officers do not grasp the nature of the suicide problem.

A glaring example of that became public when a senior Army general recently told soldiers considering suicide to “act like an adult.”

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division, last month retracted – but did not apologize for – a statement in his Army blog in January. He had written, “I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act.” He also wrote, “”I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.” He did also counsel soldiers to seek help.

His remarks drew a public rebuke from the Army, which has the highest number of suicides and called his assertions “clearly wrong.” Last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he disagrees with Pittard “in the strongest possible terms.”

The military services have set up confidential telephone hotlines, placed more mental health specialists on the battlefield, added training in stress management, invested more in research on mental health risk and taken other measures.

The Marines established a counseling service dubbed “DStress line,” a toll-free number that troubled Marines can call anonymously. They also can use a Marine website to chat online anonymously with a counselor.

The Marines arguably have had the most success recently in lowering their suicide numbers, which are up slightly this year but are roughly in line with levels of the past four years. The Army’s numbers also are up slightly. The Air Force has seen a spike, to 32 through June 3 compared to 23 at the same point last year. The Navy is slightly above its 10-year trend line but down a bit from 2011.

As part of its prevention strategy, the Navy has published a list of “truths” about suicide.

“Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane,” it says. “They might be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing.”

In a report published in January the Army said the true impact of its prevention programs is unknown.

“What is known is that all Army populations … are under increased stress after a decade of war,” it said, adding that if not for prevention efforts the Army’s suicide totals might have been as much as four times as high.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently issued a video message to all military members in which he noted that suicides “are sadly on the rise.”

“From private to general, we shoulder an obligation to look and listen for signs and we stand ready to intervene and assist our follow service member or battle buddy in time of need,” Battaglia said.

The suicide numbers began surging in 2006. They soared in 2009 and then leveled off before climbing again this year. The statistics include only active-duty troops, not veterans who returned to civilian life after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor does the Pentagon’s tally include non-mobilized National Guard or Reserve members.

The renewed surge in suicides has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Last month he sent an internal memo to the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders in which he called suicide “one of the most complex and urgent problems” facing the Defense Department, according to a copy provided to the AP.

Panetta touched on one of the most sensitive aspects of the problem: the stigma associated seeking help for mental distress. This is particularly acute in the military.

“We must continue to fight to eliminate the stigma from those with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues,” Panetta wrote, adding that commanders “cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.”

AP broadcast correspondent Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.

Source: Associated Press

Healing the Scars of the Mt. Pleasant Boarding School:
“We Knew Bad Things Happened Here”

Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges.

MT. PLEASANT, MICHIGAN – Experts believe that one of the single most federal American Indian policies that impact lives of American Indians today was the policy that created the boarding schools. Dr. Suzanne Cross, Saginaw Chippewa, associate professor of social work at Michigan State University, is one such expert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on historical trauma associated with boarding schools. Dr. Cross was one of the speakers who spoke at yesterday’s event.

Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School The Remembrance took place on the grounds of the former
Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School.

Wounds take time to heal. Even when wounds heal, scars remain.

Even though the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School closed decades ago in 1934, the scars remain.

Historical trauma is passed down from one generation to the next.

So, it was only appropriate for those gathered in this college town located in central Michigan at the grounds of the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School for the “Honoring, Healing & Remembering” to come with together as a means to heal from the scars of the boarding school experience.

The Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School was established in 1893 by an act of Congress, compelling Indian children to be removed from the care of their families to attend residential schools. The Mt. Pleasant Indian School operated until 1934, with an average enrollment of 300 students annually.

Wednesday’s events began with sunrise ceremony at the grounds of the tribal cemetery some 7 miles from the boarding school. Wearing red t shirts with the names of 154 dead students around their necks, walkers and runners traveled from the tribal headquarters to the boarding school grounds.

They were met there by 200 people from various Michigan Indian tribes, who were waiting there to participate in the day long healing ceremony, which began with the lighting of a ceremonial fire, followed by a pipe ceremony led by George Martin.

Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School 154 Students Died Here While Attending School.

Speaker after speaker spoke about their experiences of being impacted by boarding schools. Many of the speakers were overcome with emotion. Some openly cried as they spoke.

Several boarding school survivors attended the event. Other speakers spoke about the long lasting impact of boarding schools.

“I did not come with prepared notes, but I can speak about how boarding schools affected me through my parents who attended. I come from a family of alcoholics,”

stated Alan Shively, tribal chairman of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, based in Watersmeet, Michigan.

“I began to heal after I heard Warren Petoskey come to my reservation to talk about boarding schools. Because of what he taught us that day, I learned to forgive my elders. I thought differently. He taught us that it was not their fault. They were living with the effects of boarding schools.”

Several Christian pastors spoke about healing, citing scriptures on forgiveness as a means to heal.

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Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan held an event called, “Honoring, Healing & Remembering” as a means of healing from the long-lasting effects of Indian boarding schools. The event was a day long event with several speakers. The Native News Network was there to cover the event.




Remembering the 154 Students Who Did Not Survive the Mt. Pleasant Boarding School

Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges

Several speakers mentioned them.

Young and old wearing red t-shirts wore the names of those who died around their necks. The students who died at the boarding school had last names that are still recognizable and familiar within the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, such as Jackson, Pego and Pontiac.

Many who wore the red t-shirts walked or ran five miles from the tribal headquarters to the grounds of the closed down boarding school.

154 known names of those who died.

“Today, we must remember those who did not make it out of here,”said Alan Shively, tribal chairman of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, based in Watersmeet, Michigan.

“Part of healing involves acknowledging what happened in the boarding schools,”stated Hunter Genia, director of Behavioral Health at the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.

“I remember my sister saying that when she went to boarding school at Holy Child Boarding School in Harbor Springs, Michigan she heard screaming coming from the boys’ dormitory at night.”

“Let’s not make any mistake about it, boarding schools attempted to destroy our spirit – the Indian spirit,”Genia continued.

At the end of the day there was special dancing for those who died at the boarding school performed by a group of jingle dress women dancers. As a gesture of remembering the 154, there was an empty seat at the drum that represented those who never were able to drum because they died young.

While there are 154 known names of those who died, some think the number may be greater. The graves of the dead are on the west side of the property. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe was given the closed down buildings of the boarding schools and its property last year by the State of Michigan.

While the Tribe is still assessing what will ultimately be done with the buildings and property, they are in the process of surveying the land with sonic testing to determine where more human remains may possibly be buried.

Editor’s Note: Wednesday, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan held an event called, “Honoring, Healing & Remembering” as a means of healing from the long-lasting effects of Indian boarding schools. The event was a day long event with several speakers. The Native News Network was there to cover the event. This is the second of this series of articles about the special event.

posted June 9, 2012 7:10 am edt

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[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.]

Listening Post – Blowing the whistle on Obama’s America

Published on Jun 9, 2012 by

This week: A Listening Post special – Whistleblowing and the US media.

Four years ago, on the campaign trail, candidate Barack Obama shared his views on whistleblowers. He said: “Often the best source of information about waste, fraud and abuse in government is a government employee committed to public integrity, willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism … should be encouraged rather than stifled.”

As president, the reality has been very different. On his watch, six whistleblowers have been charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information. That is twice as many as all past presidents combined.

The threat facing whistleblowers has implications in many areas, including defence, intelligence and national security. And then there is the impact it is having on the US media – as the sources dry up, so too do the stories and the American people are left knowing less and less about what their government is doing.

In the first half of this full edition special, we blow the whistle on President Obama’s America.

In the second half of the show, Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who worked as an ethics adviser for the US Department of Justice, talks to us about the impact whistleblowing has had on US journalism and what news organisations are doing about it.


Toxic fears in Malaysia over rare earth plant

Published on Jun 3, 2012 by

Activists have launched a court case against Australian mining firm Lynas in Kuantan, on the east coast of Malaysia.

The Australian company has decided to operate a rare earth refining plant there, but residents in the area are worried about the impact of radiation from the waste created by the refining process.

Production has been delayed at the plant, which can potentially meet up to 20 per cent of global demand for the minerals – used to make high-tech gadgets like smartphones.

Local community and activists say the plant, tipped to be the world’s biggest rare earth processing facility, will generate radioactive waste.

The company says the raw material and residue have low levels of radiation, and that it will recycle some of the waste into fertiliser.

Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi reports from Gebeng.

Safe’ Levels of Arsenic in Drinking Water Found to Compromise Pregnant/Lactating Mothers, Offspring

ScienceDaily (May 31, 2012) — Exposure to arsenic in drinking water at the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently deems as safe in the United States (10 parts per billion) induces adverse health outcomes in pregnant and lactating mice and their offspring, concludes a study led by Joshua Hamilton of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Courtney Kozul-Horvath at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

The team is part of the Dartmouth Superfund Research Program on Toxic Metals.

Pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers who consumed low levels (10 ppb) of arsenic in their drinking water, the scientists found, exhibited significant disruption in their lipid metabolism, leading to diminished nutrients in their blood and in their breast milk. As a result, their offspring showed significant growth and development deficits during the postnatal period before weaning. Birth outcomes such as litter size and length of gestation were unaffected.

“The pups were essentially malnourished; they were small and underdeveloped,” Hamilton says. Once the pups were switched to milk from a mother who had not consumed arsenic, their growth deficits reversed, although only the males fully caught up with the pups that had had no arsenic exposure.

The U.S. EPA recently lowered the Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic to 10 ppb in public water supplies — a regulated level that is considered “safe” for a lifetime of exposure — yet concentrations of 100 ppb and higher are commonly found in private, unregulated well water in regions where arsenic is geologically abundant, including upper New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine), Florida, and large parts of the Upper Midwest, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains.

“This study raises a couple of issues. First, we have to think again about whether 10 ppb arsenic as a U.S. drinking water standard is safe and protective of human health,” says Hamilton, who is the MBL’s chief academic and scientific officer and a senior scientist in the MBL Bay Paul Center.

Read Full Article Here

US, European nuclear and coal-fired electrical plants vulnerable to climate change: study


Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. For instance, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama had to shut down more than once last summer because the Tennessee River’s water was too warm to use it for cooling.

A study by European and University of Washington scientists published today in Nature Climate Change projects that in the next 50 years warmer water and lower flows will lead to more such power disruptions. The authors predict that thermoelectric power generating capacity from 2031 to 2060 will decrease by between 4 and 16 percent in the U.S. and 6 to 19 percent in Europe due to lack of cooling water. The likelihood of extreme drops in power generation—complete or almost-total shutdowns—is projected to almost triple.

“This study suggests that our reliance on thermal cooling is something that we’re going to have to revisit,” said co-author Dennis Lettenmaier, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Thermoelectric plants, which use nuclear or fossil fuels to heat water into steam that turns a turbine, supply more than 90 percent of U.S. electricity and account for 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater usage. In Europe, these plants supply three-quarters of the electricity and account for about half of the freshwater use.

While much of this water is “recycled,” the power plants rely on consistent volumes of water, at a particular temperature, to prevent the turbines from overheating.

Reduced water availability and warmer water, caused by increasing air temperatures associated with climate change, mean higher electricity costs and less reliability.

While plants with cooling towers will be affected, results show older plants that rely on “once-through cooling” are the most vulnerable. These plants pump water directly from rivers or lakes to cool the turbines before returning the water to its source, and require high flow volumes.

The study projects the most significant U.S. effects at power plants situated inland on major rivers in the Southeast that use once-through cooling, such as the Browns Ferry plant in Alabama and the New Madrid coal-fired plant in southeastern Missouri.

“The worst-case scenarios in the Southeast come from heat waves where you need the power for air conditioning,” Lettenmaier said. “If you have really high power demand and the river temperature’s too high so you need to shut your power plant down, you have a problem.”
  Read Full Article Here

Greenland’s current loss of ice mass

by Staff Writers
Potsdam, Germany (SPX)

File image.

The Greenland ice sheet continues to lose mass and thus contributes at about 0.7 millimeters per year to the currently observed sea level change of about 3 mm per year. This trend increases each year by a further 0.07 millimeters per year. The pattern and temporal nature of loss is complex.

The mass loss is largest in southwest and northwest Greenland; the respective contributions of melting, iceberg calving and fluctuations in snow accumulation differing considerably. This result has been published by an international research group led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in the latest issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 1 June 2012.

The result was made possible by a new comparison of three different types of satellite observations: measurements of the change in gravity by changes in ice mass with the satellite pair GRACE, height variation with the laser altimeter on the NASA satellite ICESat and determination of the difference between the accumulation of regional atmospheric models and the glacier discharge, as measured by satellite radar data.

For the first time and for each region, the researchers could determine with unprecedented precision which percentage melting, iceberg calving and fluctuations in rainfall have on the current mass loss.

“Such an increase in mass loss in the northwest after 2005 is partly due to heavy snowfall in the years before”, says GFZ scientist Ingo Sasgen, head of the study. “The previous mass gain was reduced in subsequent years. Similarly in eastern Greenland: In the years 2008 and 2009 there was even a mass increase”.

As the researchers were able to show, this was not due to decreased glacier velocities, but because of two winters with very heavy snowfall. Meanwhile, the loss of ice mass continues here. For all studied regions the melting and calving periods between 2002 and 2011 are extraordinarily high compared to those of the last five decades.

The work was created in the framework of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIMof the Helmholtz Association and the EU project ice2sea. Due to the study, the researchers can get a little closer to understanding the current developments of the Greenland ice sheet.

Ingo Sasgen: “We now know very well how calving glaciers and melting contribute to the current mass balance, and when regional trends are largely caused by rainfall variations. And we also know where our measurements must be improved.”

One such area is north-western Greenland, where the comparison of data indicates an abrupt increase in the calving rate, which was detected by the radar data inadequately.

The REKLIM/ice2sea scientists want to find out what causes this increase and if it has a continuous or episodic character.

A necessary prerequisite is a sufficiently long time series of measurements that is to be created by the continued precise gravity measurements in the context of the new satellite mission GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment – Follow On).

Ingo Sasgen et al., “Timing and Origin of Recent Regional Ice-Mass Loss in Greenland”, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL), doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.03.033, Volumes 333-334, 1 June 2012, Pages 293-303

Related Links
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Beyond the Ice Age

Brazil farmers in legal feud with Monsanto over GM soy

by Staff Writers
Campo Novo De Parecis, Brazil (AFP)

Illegally smuggled into Brazil 14 years ago, transgenic soy has proved a boon to domestic farmers and now accounts for 85 percent of total production.

But five million Brazilian farmers are now locked in a legal feud with US biotech giant Monsanto, the GM soy seed manufacturer, and are refusing to pay crop royalties.

In the mid-1990s Monsanto began commercializing its genetically modified soy in the United States.

Monsanto’s soy seeds are spliced with a bacterium’s gene that makes the plants immune to the company’s popular herbicide Roundup, which farmers can then use to kill weeds while the soy plants flourish.

The first transgenic soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 and their use was banned and subject to prosecution until the last decade, according to the state-owned Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA).

The ban has since been lifted and now 85 percent of the country’s soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres) is genetically modified, according to Alexandre Cattelan, an EMBRAPA researcher.

Last year, Brazil was the world’s second producer and exporter of soybean, behind the United States.

Sales of GM soy — which is used for animal feed, soybean oil or biofuel — reached a whopping $24.1 billion and made up 26 percent of Brazil’s farm exports last year. China is the main customer of Brazilian soy.

But four years ago, five million big and small Brazilian producers filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the US chemical giant of unduly collecting two percent of sales of their annual harvest.

Since 2003-2004, Monsanto has demanded that producers of transgenic soy pay it two percent of their sales as crop royalties, Neri Perin, a representative of big producers, told AFP.

Lawyers for the producers say this means that their clients end up paying twice for the seed.

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production,” said lawyer Jane Berwanger.

In April, a judge in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, Giovanni Conti, ruled in favor of the producers and ordered Monsanto to return royalties paid since 2004 or a minimum of $2 billion.

Monsanto appealed and a federal court is to rule on the case by 2014.

In the meantime, the US company said it was still being paid crop royalties.

At the same time, transgenic soy cultivation is spreading like wildfire across Brazil, despite protests from environmentalists who say it leads to increased deforestation and from experts who say it results in less farm jobs.

“Transgenic soy occupies 44 percent of land under grain cultivation but represents only 5.5 percent of farm jobs,” said Sergio Schlesinger, a researcher who slammed the advance of soybean monoculture in his book “the grain that grew too much.”

He said this highly mechanized monoculture requires little labor and leads to the expulsion of thousands of farm workers.

After its initial ban on GM soy, the Brazilian government is now investing in research to develop this type of technology.

Transgenic soy is now grown in 17 of the country’s 26 states, with the largest production in Mato Grosso, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul.

Although still the largest exporting country, the United States has lost the dominant position it once had in the global soy trade. Brazil, Argentina, China and India have all become major players as the world’s demand for soy as food, vegetable oil, and animal feed has continued to increase.

Given the amount of available arable land and water resources in Brazil, experts expect this South American giant to eventually become the number one soybean-producing nation.

Related Links
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology


Cyber Space

Microsoft Just Made the Internet a Little More Private for Everyone

Internet Explorer 10 will ship with Do Not Track settings turned on by default. That’s good news for you and me; not so good for the online ad industry.

By Dan Tynan, ITworld

Break out the champagne and put on your party hats: A software heavyweight just struck a major blow for the concept of Privacy by Design.

Microsoft has elected to release Internet Explorer 10.0 with Do Not Track as the default setting. Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch blogged about the decision here. He said, in part:

We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used. Online advertising is an important part of the economy supporting publishers and content owners and helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to go to market. There is also value for consumers in personalized experiences and receiving advertising that is relevant to them.

Of course, we hope that many consumers will see this value and make a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more personalized ad content. For us, that is the key distinction. Consumers should be empowered to make an informed choice and, for these reasons, we believe that for IE10 in Windows 8, a privacy-by-default state for online behavioral advertising is the right approach.

While both Chrome and Firefox have Do Not Track capabilities built in, they’re turned off by default. Microsoft is making its mark by turning that setting on. Safari also blocks tracking cookies by default, but who outside of the Mac universe uses Safari?

The online advertising industry reacted about the way you’d expect — by implying that if we don’t all let advertisers follow us around the Web jotting down every site we visit and what we do there, the “free” Internet will shrivel up and die.

The Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of online ad networks and data gatherers that has been pushing for self-regulation of Web tracking for the past several years (and was apparently blindsided by Microsoft’s announcement), issued a vigorous response. Here’s the money quote:

The DAA is very concerned that this unilateral decision by one browser maker – made without consultation within the self-regulatory process – may ultimately narrow the scope of consumer choices, undercut thriving business models, and reduce the availability and diversity of the Internet products and services that millions of American consumers currently enjoy at no charge.

DAA spokeshuman Stu Ingis went on to tell the Wall Street Journal’s Julia Angwin that online advertisers support “consumer choice, not a choice made by one browser or technology vendor.” Essentially he’s saying that by making IE 10 private by default Microsoft is taking the choice out of users’ hands.

Which is, of course, utter horse manure. Microsoft is in fact giving users a choice – a choice to use a browser where privacy is the default setting. It’s the advertising industry that’s make the decision for consumers about whether they will be tracked by making that the default setting for the vast majority of Web surfers.

But before I get any further into this, let’s get a few things straight, shall we?

1, When advertising groups say they support Do Not Track (DNT), what they really mean is they support “Do Not Target Me With Ads But Continue To Hoover Up All My Anonymous Web Behavior” (or DNTMWABCTHUAMAWB for short). They’re still collecting data on users, they’re just not delivering ads to you based on that data. In other words, they remove the key benefit of tracking (more relevant ads) while keeping the primary threat (creating a profile of your online habits).

Some members of Congress are calling on the FTC to draw up rules that explicitly block data collection as well as ad targeting, something the tracking companies are resisting.

2. The DAA does represent most of the major US companies in the whole Web tracking ecosystem. But they represent less than a quarter of the companies listed in Evidon’s database of some 800 Web trackers. So even in the best case scenario, many of the smaller no-name companies that are tracking me are wholly unaffected by the DAA’s voluntary program.

The fact is, some people – even diehard privacy types — will choose tracking over not tracking in some instances. For example, I installed Abine’s Do Not Track Plus several months ago in my primary browser, and I’ve probably shut it off for individual sites more often than I’ve kept it on. Why? Because DNT+ prevented me from sharing that page on Facebook or Twitter, or kept me from being able to log in to leave Comments, or inconvenienced me in some other way. That’s because Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Disqus, and all the others are also Web trackers that can capture big chunks of your Web surfing history. A better option in this instance is probably Ghostery, which offers more fine grained blocking of advertisers, trackers, and widgets.

Bottom line: If tracking really is so essential to the “free Internet,” as the ad industry claims, then what’s the problem? Won’t people naturally choose to be tracked in order to get access to all those relevant ads and free content? I think we all know the answer to that, which is why the DAA is so spooked by Microsoft’s decision.

Facebook May Welcome Preteen Members

By Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld

Speculation is flying that Facebook executives may be developing technology that would enable kids under the age of 13 to join the site with parental supervision.

Intetrest by Facebook in lowering the minimum age to under 13 years old to join the world’s most popular social network was first reported in the Wall Street Journal. The network is reportedly testing ways to link a child’s Facebook page to his or her parents’, along with tools that would enable parents to decide who their children can “friend” and what apps they can use.

A Facebook spokesman told Computerworld that the company is investigating this complicated issue, but has not made any decisions.

“Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services,” said the spokesman. “We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”

“That would certainly drive up subscribers,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “But I don’t know how valuable they would be, since kids under 13 don’t have much purchasing power.”

However, Kerravala noted that many kids now lie about their age to join the social network and this might curb that problem to some extent. And it also would draw kids in and get them connected earlier so they’re loyal users when they get old enough to have more money to spend, increasing the power of Facebook’s ads.

“The problem for Facebook is the under-13 set might find something else to use when they hit 13,” he added. “The idea may be to get them connected now.”

Any such move would mean that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had a change of mind.

In May 2011, Zuckerberg, speaking to the world’s top Internet leaders during the closing keynote at the e-G8 Internet forum in Paris, said he wasn’t interested in working to get younger users on the site.

“We’re not trying to work on the ability for people under the age of 13 to sign up,” Zuckerberg said. “That’s just not on the list of things for us to figure out right now.” However, he did say that he’d like to look more deeply into the issue at some point in the future.

If Facebook is working to include younger users, it may be because of competition from Google+, which in January widened its potential user base by lowering its age requirement from 18 to 13 years old.

Google+ executives did not mention moving to add users under the age of 13.


Survival / Sustainability

EatTheWeeds: Episode 06: Peppergrass, Lepidium Virginicum

Uploaded by on Feb 11, 2008


Learn how to recognize and use the wild food peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum springtime salad ingredient, pot herb, and spice from http://www.eattheweeds.com


EatTheWeeds: Episode 07: Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana

Uploaded by on Feb 11, 2008


Learn with Green Deane how to recognize and prepare pokeweed, a controversial spring green and wild food from http://www.eattheweeds.com


Articles of Interest

U.S. N.R.C. Considering Giving 80-year Operating Licenses to Nuclear Power Plants

By Karl Grossman

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be holding a meeting this week to consider having nuclear power plants run 80 years—although they were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems.

“The idea of keeping these reactors going for 80 years is crazy!” declares Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former senior policy advisor at the U.S, Department of Energy and a U.S. Senate senior investigator. He is also an author of the book Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation. “To double the design life of these plants—which operate under high-pressure, high heat conditions and are subject to radiation fatigue—is an example of out-of-control hubris, of believing your own lies.”

“In a post-Fukushima world, the NRC has no case to renew life-spans of old, danger-prone nuke plants. Rather, they must be shut down,” says Priscilla Star, director of the Coalition Against Nukes.

“This is an absurdity and shows the extent to which the NRC is captured,” says Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst at Greenpeace. “Nuclear regulators know that embrittlement of the reactor vessels limits nuclear plant life but are willing to expose the public to greater risks from decrepit, old and leaking reactors. As we learned from Fukushima, the nuclear industry is willing to expose the public to catastrophic risks.”

Nevertheless, on Thursday at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, the NRC is to hold a meeting with the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, which does studies for the nuclear industry, “to discuss and coordinate long-term operability research programs,” says the NRC, which could lead to it letting nuclear plants run for 80 years.

For more than a decade, the NRC has been extending the operating licenses of nuclear plants from 40 years to 60 years. And just as the NRC has never denied a construction or operating license for a nuclear plant anywhere, anytime in the U.S., it has rubber-stamped every application that has come before it for a 20-year extension of the plant’s original 40-year license. It has now approved 60-year operating licenses for 73 of the 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S.

When the NRC in 2009 OK’d extending the operating license to 60 years of the oldest nuclear plant in the U.S., Oyster Creek in New Jersey, Jeff Titel, president of the New Jersey Sierra Club, declared: “This decision is radioactive. To keep open the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant for another 20 years is just going to lead to a disaster. We could easily replace the plant with 200 windmills that will not pose a danger.” With the same General Electric design as the six Fukushima nuclear power plants, the plant is 60 miles south of New York City.

The first nuclear plants given permission by the NRC to operate for 60 years were the two Calvert Cliffs plants located on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay near Lusby, Maryland, 45 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. That came in 1999. The NRC license extension program is “blind to how these machines are breaking apart at the molecular level…they embrittle, crack and corrode,” said Paul Gunter, then with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and now director of the Reactor Oversight Project of the organization Beyond Nuclear. The NRC in its “rigged game” is driving the nation toward a nuclear disaster, said Gunter. “The term ‘nuclear safety’ is an oxymoron. It’s an inherently dangerous process and an inherently dangerous industry that has been aging.”

Read Full Article Here

Mother Nature Doesn’t Quit

By Jim Hightower

Rather than find ways to cooperate with the natural world, America’s agribusiness giants reach for the next quick fix in a futile effort to overpower nature. Their attitude is that if brute force isn’t working, they’re probably not using enough of it.

Monsanto, for example, has banked a fortune by selling a corn seed that it genetically manipulated to produce corn plants that won’t die when sprayed with the Roundup toxic weedkiller. Not coincidentally, Monsanto also happens to manufacture Roundup. It profits from the seed and from the huge jump in Roundup sales that the seed generates. Slick.

But Mother Nature, darn it, has rebelled. So much of Monsanto’s poison was spread in the past decade that weeds naturally began to resist it. As a Dow Chemical agronomist explained, “The real need here is to diversify our weed management systems.”

Exactly right! We need non-chemical, sustainable systems that work with nature and without genetically altered crops.

But, no, the Dow man didn’t mean that at all. He was calling for more brute force in the form of Dow’s new genetically altered corn seed that can absorb Dow’s super-potent 2,4-D weedkiller, which it markets under the “Enlist” brand name. Use this stuff, he says, and nature will be defeated.

Wrong. Nature doesn’t quit. The weeds will keep evolving and will adapt to Dow’s high-tech fix, too. By pushing the same old thing relentlessly, says an independent crop scientist, agribusiness interests “ratchet up [America’s] dependence on the use of herbicides, which is very much a treadmill.”

It’s time to start listening to the weeds — and cooperating with Mother Nature. To advance this common sense approach, a national coalition is backing a California “Right to Know” initiative requiring the labeling of genetically altered foods. To help, go to the Organic Consumers Association at http://www.OrganicConsumers.org.

This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/mother-nature-doesn-t-quit-1338824786. All rights are reserved.

[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.]

Politics and Legislation

IAEA reports progress in Iran nuclear talks

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran could soon sign a deal on the UN agency investigating suspected weapons activities connected to the country’s nuclear programme.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, said on Tuesday that he reached an agreement with Iran’s government after talks in Tehran, but failed to seal the deal because of “remaining, unspecified differences”.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Tehran, Iran.

China opposes U.S. lawmakers’ push to sell F-16 jets to Taiwan

BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) — China on Monday voiced its opposition to a defense spending bill passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives that pushed for sales of F-16 jets to Taiwan.

“We have taken note of the bill,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a news briefing, adding that China firmly opposes U.S. lawmakers’ exaggeration of China’s military development and push for arms sales to Taiwan.

The House of Representatives voted Friday to require the United States to sell F-16 C/D fighter-jets to Taiwan.

“China sticks to the path of peaceful development,” said the spokesman, adding it is baseless and irresponsible for anyone to play up the “China threat theory.”

“To push for weapons sales to Taiwan severely violates the one-China policy and the three joint communiques between China and the United States, which severely interferes with China’s internal affairs,” Hong said.

During the briefing, Hong urged “some U.S. lawmakers” to get rid of their Cold War mentality and stop pushing for arms sales to Taiwan and all wrongdoings of interfering with China’s internal affairs.

“(They should) do more to help China-U.S. relations and the mutual trust between the two nations, not the contrary,” he added.

EU food agency rejects France ban on Monsanto GM maize


Europe’s food safety agency EFSA on Monday rejected the grounds for a temporary French ban on a genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto.

Facts About Pink Slime – Learn What Scientists And Consumer Advocates Say About Pink Slime – www.BeefIsBeef.com

“Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” EFSA said in a scientific opinion issued on its website.

A spokesman for Europe’s health commissioner John Dalli said the EU executive “will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban” on MON 810.

“The commission will wait for the conclusions of the next environment ministers’ meeting June 11 in Luxembourg and hopes for a positive outcome to its proposals for cultivation, which have been blocked for almost two years by France and others,” spokesman Frederic Vincent told AFP.

Paris had asked Brussels in February to suspend the cultivation of MON 810 on the basis of new scientific evidence after France’s top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning the planting of genetically modified crops from Monsanto.

The court said that in a November 2008 ban, the government had failed to prove that Monsanto crops “present a particularly elevated level of risk to either or the environment”.

Monsanto markets MON 810 maize — which has been modified at a to include DNA from a bacteria — under the trade name YieldGuard as being resistant to that can threaten .

But some governments believe it could pose a danger to .

France in February pointed to a recent study by EFSA that raised concerns over another form of GM crop, BT11, that it said could also be applied to MON 810.

The European Commission at the time requested EFSA’s opinion on France’s request, but said it would not take any steps in the meantime.

Monsanto said in January that it had no intention of selling in France as it felt the market was not ready.

(c) 2012 AFP



9/11 ‘truther’ leading Egyptian presidential race

By Ben Birnbaum

The Washington Times


  • Egyptian presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, waves to his supporters in front of Egyptian presidency logo " falcon" during television interview at MISR University for Science and Technology in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) 

    Egyptian presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, waves to his supporters in front of Egyptian presidency logo ” falcon” during television interview at MISR University for Science and Technology in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

An Islamist who believes that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States were an American conspiracy is the front-runner in Egypt’s presidential race, a new poll shows.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, formerly a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, led the field of 13 candidates with 32 percent of the vote in a survey released Monday by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Mr. Abolfotoh expressed his views on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an interview last year with Egypt scholar Eric Trager.

Mr. Trager, now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, quoted Mr. Abolfotoh as saying:

“It was too big an operation …. They [the United States] didn’t bring this crime before the U.S. justice system until now. Why? Because it’s part of a conspiracy.”

Egyptians will vote Wednesday and Thursday in their first presidential election since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak last year. If none of the candidates wins a majority, the two top vote-getters will compete in a runoff next month.


Read Full Article Here



China’s Wanda To Buy Biggest US Theater Operator AMC For 2.6 Billion

Published on May 22, 2012 by

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has agreed to buy AMC Entertainment for 2.6 billion dollars (USD), including debt, making it the biggest theater operator in the United States.

The deal, the largest overseas acquisition by a privately held Chinese company, reflects the warming ties between the U.S. and Chinese movie industries after China agreed in February to open its cinemas to more American films.

The purchase will mark Wanda’s first investment outside of China and its first foray into the United States and Canada, the world’s biggest film market with ticket sales of more than 10 billion.

Lucas Shaw, a media reporter for the online entertainment site, The Wrap described this purchase as giving the Dalian Wanda conglomerate a lot more power in the U.S. market.

“It is already a huge theater owner in China, but in the U.S. market, by acquiring the second biggest, it gives them a foothold in these two different markets. China has rapidly become the second biggest box office market behind the U.S., still far behind the U.S., but still the second biggest. So, it gives them a lot of negotiating power with the studios and distributors, as the biggest exhibitor in the world.”

Wanda, which has interests in commercial properties, luxury hotels, tourism and department stores, holds 35 billion in assets, with annual revenue reaching 16.7 billion.
Shaw expects Wanda to provide a cash infusion into the existing AMC theaters in an effort to provide consumers with a better theater experience.

“The key to all this is to make sure that consumers have a reason to leave there home to watch movies,” said Shaw, adding that he doesn’t believe ticket prices should be impacted. “With all the different offerings you have at home, whether it is on-demand, netflicks there is a growing reluctance by the consumer to go out and pay 12 or 15 dollars to see a movie. Theaters need to do everything they can to keep them coming.”
The deal also highlights the rising partnership between China and Hollywood.

“The speed is somewhat surprising,” said Shaw. “In the last year or two, you have seem a number of large co-productions, investments, Disney is opening a large theme park in China, there is a large production facility opening in China. But, I don’t think it is surprising if you look at the trend at the box office where overseas in worth way more than domestic.”

AMC’s management team at its Kansas City, Missouri headquarters and the company’s 18,500 employees will not be affected by the deal. The movie chain is owned by an investment group that includes Bain Capital, CCMP Capital Advisors and Spectrum Equity Capital.

China ‘targets infrastructure to lift economy’

Published on May 22, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ China is reportedly to speed up approvals for spending on infrastructure in response to a slowdown in the economy.

A state-backed newspaper says the government has asked for project proposals by the end of June, even for those initially due for the end of the year.

China is heading for a sixth straight quarter of slowing growth and investment in roads, bridges and property is at its weakest in nearly a decade.

Citing government sources, the newspaper article in China Securities Journal, said Beijing did not rule out bringing forward next year’s projects, if it thought more investments would be needed to stimulate the economy.

The newspaper also cited media reports saying the central government will speed up budget allocations to various construction projects, including highway construction.

News of Beijing’s latest efforts to bolster growth lifted stock markets. Australian shares rose 1.2 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained as investors bought mining companies on the prospects of more sales to China.

Chinese infrastructure stocks outperformed, while benchmark copper prices rose to a one-week high.

The five top movers on the China Enterprises Index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong were all infrastructure related; China Communications Construction, China Railway Construction Group, China Railway Group, Anhui Conch Cement and Zoomlion Heavy Industry.

UK inflation eases

Published on May 22, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Annual inflation in Britain fell to its lowest in more than two years in April. It dropped to 3.0 percent from March’s 3.5 percent.

That makes it more likely the UK central bank will be able to introduce extra stimulus – that is essentially printing more money – to support the economy.

Core inflation, which excludes food and fuel costs, fell to 2.1 percent, the lowest since November 2009.

Economists had been expecting a sizeable fall in inflation due to a spike in some prices in April 2011 not being repeated this year.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall was driven by lower inflation for air and sea transport, clothing and alcohol.

Inflation has now been above the Bank of England’s 2.0 percent target for almost two and a half years and Tuesday’s data come a week after the central bank’s economists predicted it would say there for at least another year before falling to 1.6 percent by mid-2014.

Until April, British inflation had fallen more slowly than the BoE expected this year – a factor which many economists said lay behind its decision not to expand its 325 billion pound quantitative easing programme this month, despite the UK economy having fallen back into recession.

Eurozone crisis ‘threat’ to global economy

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The eurozone financial crisis could threaten the global economy, according to Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation.

The 17-nation eurozone will see its economies shrink by 0.1 per cent, before rebounding to 0.9 per cent next year, the Paris-based organisation said in its latest report released on Tuesday.

Nick Spicer reports from Berlin.



As critics lay siege to Facebook, Zuckerberg is MIA

Mark Zuckerberg had a high profile as  Facebook’s IPO began on Friday. Since then he’s been hard to find.

By Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC.com

Aside from the weekend wedding pic, the last time investors saw the social network icon was on Friday morning — just before the rocky debut of his company’s stock. Zuckerberg was high-fiving Nasdaq Chief Executive Bob Greifeld and ringing the opening bell remotely from Facebook’s sprawling headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

But since then, a lot’s gone wrong including the Nasdaq’s botched opening of the stock; its precipitous slide since Friday to levels well below the $38 a share offering price; and allegations that lead underwriter Morgan Stanley shared negative news about Facebook with institutional investors before the IPO.

Through it all, Zuckerberg’s been MIA.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior dean at the Yale School of Management, thinks Zuckerberg is making a mistake by not publicly addressing the problems. “It’s important now to actually show the execution, show the plan, show the new vision,” Sonnenfeld told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.


Read Full Article Here



U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next

U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next
While Washington’s rhetoric has focused recently on the coming end to the war in Afghanistan, its spending on the conflict is not at all waning.
Between this year and next, the federal government plans to spend nearly $200 billion on the war. If it does so, the U.S. will have spent about $642 billion since 2001 on fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and allied groups, local militias and warlords in Afghanistan.
One think tank, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), characterized the spending commitment for 2012 and 2013 as “incredible” given the lack of controls, plans, auditing and effectiveness employed by the Obama administration to win the war.
In its new report, the CSIS added that Washington’s “end effect has been to sharply raise the threshold of corruption in Afghanistan, to make transition planning far more difficult, and raise the risk that sudden funding cuts will undermine the Afghan government’s ability to maintain a viable economy and effective security forces.”
Meanwhile, support among Americans for the war effort has continued to shrink. Only 27% of respondents to a new Associated Press-GfK poll said they back the war, while 66% oppose it.
However there appears to be a major disconnect between the public and their leaders. On Thursday the House of Representatives voted 303-113 against an amendment that would have hastened the exit of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by limiting funding to the “safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors.” There are currently 88,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
The U.S. Cost of the Afghan War: FY2002-FY2013 (Center for Strategic & International Studies) (pdf)

House Reauthorizes Afghan Conflict In Bipartisan Vote (by Donna Cassata, Associated Press)


Wars and Rumors of War

Mosaic News  : Deadly Suicide Attack on Yemeni Capital Leaves 90 Soldiers Dead

Published on May 22, 2012 by

Deadly suicide attack on Yemeni capital leaves 90 soldiers dead, two Lebanese killed in heavy clashes as Syrian conflict spills over, NATO agrees to hand over security lead to Afghan troops by mid-2013, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Deadly suicide attack on Yemeni capital leaves 90 soldiers dead
Al Jazeera, Qatar

Two Lebanese killed in heavy clashes as Syrian conflict spills over
Dubai TV, UAE

NATO agrees to hand over security lead to Afghan troops by mid-2013
BBC Arabic, UK

Syria: Thirteen killed in Homs, Hama, Daraa clashes
BBC Arabic, UK

Bahraini security forces attack protestors as crackdown continues
Al-Alam, Iran

NATO urges Pakistan to reopen supply route
Press TV, Iran

IAEA chief in Iran to press for nuclear cooperation
Press TV, Iran

New video shows Jewish settlers shooting Palestinians as Israeli soldiers stand idle
Press TV, Iran

Tourism, African migrants are main focus of Jerusalem Day Israeli Cabinet session
IBA, Israel

Palestine Heritage Museum reopens in Jerusalem
Palestine TV, Ramallah

Image: A boy holds a candle during a protest to show solidarity with a Yemeni journalist jailed over alleged links with al-Qaeda and to condemn a suicide attack that killed over 90 soldiers in Sanaa May 21, 2012: REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

UN peacekeeping chief admits presence of terrorists in Syria

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, May 21, 2012. Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains. (Xinhua/Hazim)
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, May 21, 2012. Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains. (Xinhua/Hazim)

DAMASCUS, May 21 (Xinhua) — The visiting UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains.

“We know that there are … a third party, terrorist groups, who are trying to gain advantage for themselves… but we have to see this as an issue within Syria, between the Syrians,” he said during a press conference in Damascus.

“These people are not committed to the cause of the Syrian people… They are committed to their own agenda… So we have to keep a watchful eye but what we are dealing with and what we must deal with is the issue between the Syrians themselves,” he said.

“We do know that there had been terrorist attacks and bombings and that is something to be taken very seriously,” he added. “Any further militarization of the crisis is not to be accepted… it’s a crisis between the Syrians and there is no justification in fueling the fire.”

Ladsous said that main objective of his visit to Syria is to examine the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, adding that he has been “very pleased by the rapidity by which they have been deployed.”

He noted that the number of UN military observers is now 270, adding that they are now deployed in six cities and soon they will be deployed in 10 cities.

“I am not saying that the violence ceased altogether but clearly it diminished,” he said, adding that he had met with the government and the opposition in Syria.

He said the job of the UN observers aims also to work on the issue of the detainees and to gain access to the prisons. “We simply do not know how many people are detained.”

Ladsous said there are still some unresolved issues, stressing, however, that the Syrian government has confirmed its commitment to Annan’s six-point plan.

“I think it’s necessary to talk to all those who are involved, about how to get further towards a peaceful solution and how to stop violence,” he said.

For his part, head of the UN observer mission Maj-Gen Robert Mood said He is sending Ladsous back to New York “with a different understanding of what Syria is about.”


Articles of Interest

 Chicago Protests And CPD

Published on May 22, 2012 by

We’ll speak with two men who were held at gun point by the Chicago police for live streaming. Then, in one of the most watched antiwar protests in decades, dozens of Veterans tossed their medals into the streets. And it’s Monday Hangover, so we’ll talk about why the Obama campaign is going after Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital when Private Equity donations favor Obama.

BP Coverup, Coverup


Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures’ Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.

The BP gulf oil disaster has been the subject of a lot of examination, and recent examination shows that there’s more of a coverup then perhaps we have known. One of the people who’s done a lot of work on this is investigative journalist Greg Palast. And he now joins us from New York City. Greg’s a BBC investigative reporter, author of Vultures’ Picnic, and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse and many other pieces of investigative work. Thanks very much for joining us, Greg.GREG PALAST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Glad to be with you, Paul.JAY: So, first of all, what is the—I mean, people know the basic story of what happened, but what is the real essence of the coverup here?PALAST: Yeah, they don’t know the real story, not in the U.S. press. For British television, I investigated what really happened. Actually, right after Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, I get a message from a witness, an insider from the Caspian Sea, which is, you know, the other side of the planet, in Asia, saying, I know exactly what happened here, ’cause the exact same thing happened in the Caspian Sea two years earlier: there was another BP rig—another BP rig blew out, just like the Deepwater Horizon. And BP covered it up. BP hid it because it occurred offshore off the nation of Azerbaijan, which is what I call—in my book Vulture’s Picnic I call it the Islamic Republic of BP. They own that place. They bought it—bribery.JAY: Now, the point here is that the cause of the Caspian Sea blowout, you’re saying, is essentially the same as what happened in the Gulf.

Read Full Transcripts Here

Obama wants to continue wiretapping Americans

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has gone through many changes since it came to be in 1978, but some of the most recent changes to FISA give the US government permission to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without a warrant. President Obama has argued that wiretapping programs may not be challenged in court, but should they be? Amie Stepanovich, associate litigation counsel for EPIC, joins us with more on the FISA.

North Koreans in rice belt starve to death: report

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP)

NGOs take issue with UN take on sustainable development
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) May 21, 2012 – A month before a UN meeting on sustainable development, civil society is taking issue with the gathering’s approach.The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, takes place in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro June 20-22. In parallel, NGOs will gather for the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice.”The discussions focus on a set of fake proposals called ‘Green economy,'” organizers of the alternate event said on their website. “The ‘Green economy,’ contrary to what its name suggests, is one more stage of capitalistic accumulation.”The document — titled “What is at stake at Rio+20” — also alleges that the negotiation strategy at the upcoming conference favors rich governments and threatens the rights of indigenous people.At least 116 government officials and 50,000 participants are expected to take part in Rio+20, including heads of companies and representatives of social movements.

The People’s Summit will take place June 15-23.

Food shortages have worsened in North Korea, even in the southwestern rice belt where some residents have starved to death, a Seoul-based online newspaper said Monday.

“Because of worsening food shortages this year there were reports of people starving to death even in South and North Hwanghae provinces,” a Daily NK reporter told AFP, referring to the country’s agricultural heartland.

Six people — children or the elderly — died in just one village in Shingye county after the authorities released an emergency supply of only one or two kilograms (2.2-4.4 pounds) of corn to each household, the paper said.

It quoted another source as saying that about 10 people had died of starvation on each collective farm in and around the coastal city of Haeju by April, following shortages in late winter.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid group, also said on its website that starvation continued to claim victims throughout South Hwanghae. At Hwanghae Steelworks some workers had died because food rations stopped, it said.

The South’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, said it had no information.

Daily NK said North and South Hwanghae saw rice production fall last year due to flooding, and most of the autumn harvest was diverted to military stores or for citizens of Pyongyang.

In South Hwanghae shortages were aggravated by restrictions on market trading and travel during the 100-day mourning period for leader Kim Jong-Il, who died on December 17, it said.

Near the border with the South soldiers were mobilised for farming because many farm workers left to seek help from relatives in other areas, it said.

The North’s official food distribution system, part of its state-directed economy, largely collapsed during the famine years of the mid to-late 1990s.

Severe food shortages have persisted. But donations to UN programmes have dwindled due to international irritation at the North’s missile and nuclear programmes.

The United States suspended a plan to deliver 240,000 tonnes of food after the North’s latest rocket launch on April 13.

On Monday the North’s official Korean Central News Agency expressed concern about drought in western areas, which it said had received little rainfall in the past few weeks.

Water levels in the country’s major irrigation reservoirs stood at just over 55 percent of normal because of unusually high temperatures, which were expected to last until early June, it said.

Related Links
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology



Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens

The European Commission is set to launch a substantial review of rules governing personal documents with the aim of making electronic identities take off across the EU. But the proposal faces likely opposition from civil rights groups and member states where identity cards do not exist.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv.

“A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world,” reads the paper. “This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.”

Brussels has long been trying to facilitate the emergence of a parallel system of electronic identification, on top of the the real-world existing documents. This has mainly been linked to the struggle for establishing a truly functioning single market, rather than on security grounds.

A directive was adopted in 1999 establishing a common framework for electronic signatures. The rationale for the legal text is that if EU citizens feel comfortable in signing documents online, they will increasingly move to the immaterial world of the e-commerce to do business and shopping, regardless of national borders.

Resistance expected at national level

Despite the EU’s efforts to increase the security of e-signatures and the confidence in the emergence of virtual identities, citizens and governments have been slow to adopt electronic IDs.

Indeed, e-signatures are still confined to a few sectors, such as universities, while most EU nations have not yet introduced electronic identity cards.

Even if chip-embedded passports are becoming the norm across Europe, e-ID cards have been adopted in only in a handful of countries – Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. But there is no common system of mutual recognition among states using electronic IDs.

Perhaps more frustrating for the European Commission is that some member states like the United Kingdom do not even have paper identity cards, and the idea of adopting them causes widespread public opposition.

The UK briefly introduced ID cards during the second world war but abolished them afterwards. The use that the Nazi regime made of identity documents to single out Jewish people and send them into concentration camps has been a powerful argument against introducing ID documents across the Channel.

When Tony Blair’s Labour government discussed the idea of ID cards, a citizen movement sprang up overnight to block the plans.

ID cards are also not used in Denmark and Ireland.


Read Full Article Here


[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.]




New Herbicide Could Kill Weeds, Crops, Monsanto



By Motley Fool

Monsanto (NYSE: MON  ) and Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW  ) , could be facing a serious challenge to their crop chemical development plans. A remarkably nonrabid, diverse coalition of farmers and major food companies is pursuing legal action aimed at forcing the EPA and USDA to analyze potential risks associated with new weed killers in the pipeline. If they prevail, it could spell trouble for our heroes.

The Save Our Crops Coalition, or SOCC, comprises 2,000 farmers and other food interests, including Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL  ) — maker of those canning jars and other food packaging — and Seneca Foods (Nasdaq: SENEA  ) , maker of Libby’s brand foods. Its members represent both conventional and organic farming interests, and range from specialty growers to major agronomic crop producers. This isn’t your usual band of fringe groups making noise that no one hears. Someone might actually pay attention to them.


Read Full Article Here


Cyber Space

Mobile Malware Incidents on Rise, Says Smartphone Survey

By John E Dunn, techworld.com    Apr 22, 2012 7:00 am

The cost-saving culture of ‘bring your own device’ smartphones is tempting enterprises into taking risks they would not contemplate for conventional computing devices, a survey by Goode Intelligence has suggested.

The Third mSecurity Survey (summary PDF) confirmed that Apple’s iPhone is currently the dominant device, present in 77 percent of in the surveyed businesses, ahead of BlackBerry on 70 percent and the rapidly rising Android on 65 percent.

When asked whether their organisation allowed BYOD smartphone use, 71 percent said they did with 47 percent agreeing that company data was being stored on these devices.

Many of these smartphones were not being managed as secure devices, with fewer than one in five adding anti-malware and only half employing data encryption

Read Full Article Here

Hidden Dangers of CISPA

Want to stop private companies from sharing your personal information with Uncle Sam? Better hope the U.S. Congress doesn’t OK this ill-conceived legislation.

By Dan Tynan, ITworld    Apr 22, 2012 10:19 am

Have you heard of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act? If not, you’re in for a crash course. Leading privacy and civil rights groups have declared last week Stop Cyber Spying Weekin an effort to get the word out about CISPA – yet another meaningless acronym that threatens to redefine the Internet as we know it.

CISPA could be the most important piece of digital legislation since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. And like the DMCA, which was written to thwart file sharers and DVD rippers but ended up being used to enforce copyrights on garage door openers and shut down blogs critical of corporations, it has at least as much potential for abuse.

Read Full Article Here


Survival / Sustainability

Eat The Weeds: Episode 01: Why Learn About Wild Foods

Uploaded by on Jan 15, 2008


Eat Green. You can learn how to eat the weeds. Green Deane’s foraging techniques for wild food are usable anywhere. http://www.EatTheWeeds.com. The introduction is edited to fit the time slot.

Are You Ready Series: Storing Medical Supplies To Be Ready

Tess Pennington
Ready Nutrition

Storing medical supplies in the home for a possible disaster could save some one’s life if they need immediate medical assistance.  In the event of a major disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake, if someone in the home is injured, emergency responders cannot always get to the injured victims in time.  Experts suggest having a well stocked arsenal of  medical supplies in this instance.

Suggested Home Medical Supplies

The idea of having medical supplies in the home is to be prepared for any given situation that could arise.   In the long run, if supplies are adequately organized and ready to go, the person administering medical assistance will have everything in place and be ready to act.  Making an inventory list of everything that is needed for all family members (include children’s needs as well as family members with special needs) as well as items that have already been purchased can help with organizing the supplies for storage.

  • Antacids
  • Anti-diarrheal
  • pain reliever
  • Children’s pain reliever
  • First aid book
  • Prescription medications (keep copies for records)
  • Cold/flu medicines
  • Vitamins
  • Blood clotting
  • Sterile gauze
  • Dressing bandages
  • Dressing rolls
  • Medical tape
  • Bandages of all sizes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Eye flushing solution
  • Anesthetic solution
  • Hypodermic needles (for the antiseptic solution)
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Benadryl
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Cold Packs
  • Warm Blankets
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Thermometers
  • Skin irritation creams
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Suture needles/string
  • List of medical contact phone numbers
  • Medical history file (if needed)

Read Full Article Here


Whistle Blowers

Whistleblower bill addresses reports of sexual abuse of a minor by a co-worker

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30 PM

A bill aimed at preventing a repeat of the Penn State University sex abuse scandal is heading for final passage in the Louisiana House. Senate Bill 158, which has already been approved by the Senate, was easily approved by the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on Thursday.

jpmorrell.jpgFile photoSen. J.P. Morrell

Sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, the bill would extend whistleblower protections to employees who report the sexual abuse of a minor by a co-worker. The bill was inspired by the case of assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been accused of molesting children for years. Officials at the school are accused of covering up for him.

Another Morrell bill inspired by the Penn State scandal, SB 4, would increase requirements for reporting the sexual abuse of a minor. That bill has already passed the Senate and is headed to the House Criminal Justice Committee.



South African society through lens of youth

Published on Apr 21, 2012 by

Young activists in South Africa are using cameras to document social and economic problems in their communities.

The photo club is designed to create awareness and get young people more involved. Their plan is to also spread the intiative to schools across the country.

Haru Mutasa reports from Johannesburg.

US ‘intelligence war’ triggers ‘Occupy spy base’ in UK

Published on Apr 22, 2012 by

Menwith Hill, the largest intelligence gathering and surveillance center outside the US, in the heart of the UK’s Yorkshire Dales, is surrounded by protesters demonstrating against America’s planned missile defense system. The local residents, often camping outside, have been joined by members of the global Occupy movement, supporting ongoing local efforts. To keep up with new types of warfare, billions of dollars has been invested in Menwith Hill over the last decade. It has enabled the base to remain a vital component of the global US surveillance network.

Greek Town Develops Bartering System

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by

Greek town develops bartering system without euro. As Greece wonders whether its debt crisis will eventually spell its exit from the euro, one town in the centre of the country, Volos, has formed an alternative local currency. It works through a bartering system or exchange of goods.



Articles of Interest

Mass Dolphin Death Mystery In Peru, Authorities Blame It On Viral Infection

By Sreeja VN | Apr 22, 2012 08:14 AM EDT

Investigations are on into the deaths of hundreds of dolphins that washed up on the northern coast of Peru. Around 877 carcasses of dolphins and porpoises were found on Peruvian beaches in two and half months. Peruvian officials and environmentalists are trying to unravel the mystery behind the phenomenon.

No concrete reasons have been figured out yet but the authorities believe that it could possibly be a viral infection that may have killed the dolphins in huge numbers. While environmental groups in the country blame the seismic oil exploration work carried out by BPZ Energy Company for the dolphin deaths.

Read Full Article Here

[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.]


euronews science : Encouraging progress in Parkinson’s therapy

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ British scientists claim tests for a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease have proved encouraging.
The therapy introduces three genes into the brain to boost levels of a chemical that sufferers lack.
Doctors in Cambridge have noticed a marked change in at least one patient in the trials.

Sheila Roy has suffered for 17 years. She said:
“People would take knives off me in the kitchen because I was everywhere with a knife. My vocal chords would suddenly shut so I can’t breathe. If I hit a wall of people then I can’t function, I just stop, but I’m feeling I can see a glimmer of the person I used to be now, which is really exciting.”

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder affecting movement caused by a degeneration in the brain cells that produce dopamine.

The new treatment delivers genes into the brain converting cells into a kind of replacement dopamine factory helping to control a patient’s movements.

Trials in just a handful of patients have been conducted at Cambridge University.

Dr. Philip Buttery, a neurologist at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair said: “It seems to be having an overall beneficial effect on smoothing out people’s days, probably allowing a slight dose reduction in medication and, for some patients a better sleep pattern, a better quality of life overall.”

The idea is that a single injection of gene therapy reduces the need for patients to consume large amounts of drugs. Researchers are still monitoring patients for side effects. Doctors stress this is not a cure, but could nevertheless enable Parkinson’s sufferers to reclaim their lives.

Sheila Roy added: “If you can treat the symptoms and control in some way the deterioration in what you can do, it has to be better for you and it is.”

The researchers say Parkinson’s already affects 4.1 million people worldwide and that figure is expected to more than double by 2030.

No proof bad gums cause heart trouble, experts say

By MyHealthNewsDaily

Preventing heart disease is not as easy as brushing your teeth.

While numerous studies have linked gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, there is no proof that bad gums actually cause heart disease or strokes, an American Heart Association committee said after reviewing 500 journal articles and studies.

Moreover, claims that dental treatment may prevent heart attack or stroke are unwarranted, the committee of doctors, dentists and infectious-disease researchers said in a statement.

“The message sent out by some in health care professions – that heart attack and stroke are directly linked to gum disease – can distort the facts, alarm patients and perhaps shift the focus of prevention away from well-known risk factors for these diseases,” said committee member Dr. Peter Lockhart, a professor of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.

Pets are good for child health

By PF Louis, April 18 2012
(NaturalNews) The New York Times came up with an article recently entitled “Can Fido and Whiskers Enrich Children’s Lives?” Different medical researchers and scientists were consulted for this article, which begs the question: Does research money really need to be spent on this type of question? It’s one thing to write an essay on the topic, especially one coming from real experience. But asking scientists and medical professionals, who are doing research on child and pet relationships, for their…


Holistic Health

Parsley is a blood purifying superfood

By Dr. David Jockers, April 18 2012
(NaturalNews) Parsley is considered the world’s most popular garnish. Parsley was originally cultivated in Europe and the Middle East but has become a staple in American cuisine. This herb has remarkable healing and blood purifying benefits that classify it as a superfood. Parsley has been revered throughout history and used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The Greeks made crowns of parsley to bestow upon their sports champions. It was used for the Hebrew celebration of Passover as a…

Fed up with steroids and asthma inhalers? Try the benefits of herbs as natural treatment for asthma

By JB Bardot, April 18 2012
(NaturalNews) Natural treatment for asthma helps reduce acute asthma attacks, manage chronic asthma and helps those with general trouble breathing. The benefits of herbs for treating asthma and the lungs has been shown repeatedly through the centuries worldwide. Asthma is a chronic upper respiratory disease affecting the lungs and airways. The lining of the lungs becomes inflamed during an asthma attack, forcing the airways and surrounding muscles to swell, causing trouble breathing. According…


Pet Health

Do Carrots Naturally Improve Your Dog’s Vision?

Can Eating Carrots Improve Eyesight?

By Jennifer Kvamme, DVM

We’ve all heard the saying that eating carrots can help improve vision. But does this apply to our dogs as well? While there is some hint of truth in the concept, eating bushels of carrots will not give your dog (or you) super vision during the day (or night).

Carrots are indeed a nutrient-rich source for a variety of vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, a pigment that gives carrots and other vegetables their signature orange (or sometimes yellow or red) color. It is the beginning form of vitamin A (called retinal) that is necessary to maintain good vision — especially in dim light.

Read Full Article Here

Eye Problems in Dogs … Don’t Be Fooled

By T. J. Dunn, Jr., DVM

Almost daily every animal hospital receives a call about canine eye problems; and the diversity of concern expressed by the dog’s caretaker runs a wide spectrum.

There are times when veterinarians will check a frantic and anxious client’s dog only to discover an insignificant soreness in the dog’s supporting tissues around the eye (called conjunctiva). The very next “eye case” may be an advanced corneal ulcer that has allowed internal contents of the eye to actually protrude through the corneal surface! And that client might calmly state, “It’s been like that for two weeks but we though it would clear up.”

Fortunately in most veterinary practices the entire staff has been directed to prioritize all calls that express concern about a potential ocular difficulty. The reason for expediting the evaluation of any case relating to eye difficulties is that there is no way for verbal description to convey the true nature or severity of the problem. Seemingly innocent conditions can fool you … and result in an ocular emergency rather rapidly. These cases simply must be seen right away.

Read Full Article Here


Animal Cruelty

Arrests Made In Alpaca Killings

April 18, 2012 7:01 AM

(Courtesy Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association)

(Courtesy Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association)

WESTBROOK, Conn. (AP) _ Two Westbrook men have been arrested in connection with the stabbing deaths of four alpacas on an Essex farm in December.

The Middletown Press reports (http://bit.ly/HSg7rz ) that 21-year-old Kyle Rossetti was charged with animal cruelty, burglary and other offenses. He was held on $75,000 bond.

Shawn Malcarne was charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty, burglary and other offenses. The 23-year-old Malcarne was held on $50,000 bond.

Read Full Article Here

Call to action – Join the demand to investigate Michigan DNR director Rodney Stokes over forced shooting of baby piglets in cold blood

By Mike Adams, April 17 2012
(NaturalNews) There is nothing more pathetic, ugly and insidious than a tyrannical government thug who uses his power to destroy the lives of law-abiding citizens. Today, we have witnessed the outrageous acts carried out by jack-booted scumbags in Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who masterminded armed raids on two ranches in that state, all with the intention of shooting and killing traditional livestock and arresting ranchers as felons. This is part of Michigan’s new “Invasive Species…



U.S. suggests no emissions limits to protect polar bears

Polar bears in Alaska

Polar bears in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Susanne Miller / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / April 17, 2012)

By Kim MurphyApril 17, 2012, 5:58 p.m.

SEATTLE — Polar bears are skating on thin ice in Alaska these days: Warming temperatures have resulted in dramatic shrinkage of sea ice, leaving the bears with fewer ice floes on which to rest and hunt seals.

But at least for the moment, the Endangered Species Act won’t be used to control the greenhouse gas emissions that conservationists say are contributing to climate change and posing one of the biggest threats to the bears’ survival.

The Obama administration on Tuesday released a proposed rule that — like an earlier version put forward under President  George W. Bush — exempts operations outside the bears’ normal territory from restrictions on activities. That could include new coal-fired power plants or big factories with mercury emissions, which might harm bears thousands of miles away in the Arctic seas.

Read Full Article Here


Positivity Mind and Body

Louise L. Hay – You can heal your life


[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.]

Politics and Legislation

Organizations Can’t Be Sued For Torture, High Court Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that organizations cannot be sued for the torture under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

The decision came in the case of Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and became a U.S. citizen. In 1995, while on a visit to his home village on the West Bank, he was taken into custody by Palestinian Authority intelligence officers; in the following days, he was allegedly imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The U.S. State Department issued a report classifying Rahim’s death as an extra-judicial killing, while in the custody of the Palestinian Authority. .

Rahim’s American family, filed suit against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes lawsuits against “individuals” who commit acts of torture. The family argued that Congress intended the word “individual” to cover organizations.

Read Full Article Here

Big Government on Steroids: Senate Bill Calls for Black Box Recorders on All New Cars

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The same Senate bill, 1813, known as MAP-21, that calls for the Secretary of State to revoke or deny a passport to any US citizen that the IRS Commissioner deems as having ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’, also calls for, in section 31406 of the bill. the mandatory installation of ‘black box’ event recorders to be installed in every new passenger vehicle starting with model year 2015:

(a) Mandatory Event Data Recorders-

(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part…

Read The  Full Article Here

Awful: GOP Rep. Wants Tax Hikes For The Poor, Says They ‘Don’t Have Skin In The Game’

 Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, defended the House Republican budget at a tax policy summit yesterday — as well as the broader idea that taxes on the wealthy need to be cut while taxes on lower-income Americans should be raised. When asked by ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes to square the GOP’s explicit desire to cut taxes for the rich with the fact that it’s budget would raise taxes on low-income working Americans, Tiberi responded by saying that to do otherwise would be to “beat up on people who are trying to be successful.” He then made the case for raising taxes on the poor by lamenting that they don’t have any “skin in the game”:

Read Full Article Here

‘CISPA pushed by spy & tech companies for profit’

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

Congress has attempted to sneak legislation that could change the face of the Internet as we know it, and all in the name of national security. First there was SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but now CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act) is threatening the privacy and freedom of US citizens. No online activity will be safe when it comes to these bills because as of now what’s considered a cyber security threat is a large grey area, but David Seaman, journalist and host of The DL Show, joins us to take a closer look at CISPA.



Report estimates 8 million children hurt by foreclosures

By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

One in 10 U.S. children has been or will be affected by the nation’s surge in foreclosures, a new report says.

  • A foreclosed home in Tigard, Ore.

By Don Ryan, AP

A foreclosed home in Tigard, Ore.

Five years into the foreclosure crisis, an estimated 2.3 million children have lived in homes lost to foreclosure, according to a report from First Focus, a Washington, D.C-based bipartisan advocacy group focused on families.

Another 3 million children live in homes at risk of foreclosure because home loans are in the foreclosure process or are seriously delinquent. And 3 million children lived or live in rental homes lost to foreclosure or at risk, the report says.

“Children are the often invisible victims of the foreclosure crisis,” said report author Julia Isaacs. She did the study while at the Brookings Institution and is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Labor, Human Services and Population Center.

Read Full Article Here

Spain’s economy forces families to sleep at the wheel

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Nearly a quarter of the workforce unemployed, the cost of borrowing going up – Spain’s financial crisis is often a list of seemingly sterile figures.

The reality behind the numbers though is even more stark.

In Barcelona, like elsewhere in Spain, there is a growing number of people who have no other choice but to live in their cars.

Silvestre lost his job as a baker and with it the means to pay his rent.

“I asked for help at city hall, but they have done nothing,” he said. “We’ve got the chance of a year in a council flat, but if I don’t find work we’re back on the street. So I prefer to stay here. There are more people like us.”

He now scrapes a living collecting scrap paper.
Barcelona’s council reckons there are around 350 people living in this makeshift motor-city.

Angel Miret from Barcelona Social Services said: “We are trying to do what we have to do. We recognise the need for decent housing, so we’re pushing for an increase in council flats and continuing to work with these people.”

In car-parks and old industrial estates there is a new generation living in mobile accommodation with nowhere else to go.

Spanish Repsol anger threatens trade

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ There are potentially major financial ramifications to both Spain and Argentina from the decision by the South American country to re-nationalise Repsol subsidiary YPF as Madrid threatened swift economic retaliation.

Last year Spain imported almost 1.8 billion euros worth of Argentine products.

Argentina’s imports from Spain totaled 824 million euros.

Spain is the largest foreign investor there.

Energy firms Repsol, Endesa and Gas Natural are big players, though less so than in the past.

Banks, such as Banco Santander and BBVA, have recently boosted their investments, along with Telecoms and technology firms like Telefonica and Indra. They are all seeking growth in Argentina which is not available in their mature – and recession hit -European markets.

Spanish investments totaled 17.1 billion euros in 2009 – the last year for which figures are available.

In Spain, investors did not seem too worried about corporate consequences of the Repsol affair.

The main Madrid share index saw its third biggest gain of the year on Tuesday.

Repsol fell 6.06 percent, but Banco Santander, BBVA and Telefonica all enjoyed substantial gains.

Italy goes for growth over austerity

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Italy is to shift its focus from austerity to growth – so delaying by a year its plan to balance the budget in 2013.

Prime Minister Mario Monti has decided that reviving economic growth now had to take priority over belt tightening that could plunge the country deeper into recession.

After a cabinet meeting that accepted new economic targets based on a much deeper than originally forecast recession, Monti said: “Italy has found itself – and still finds itself in a difficult situation and we wanted to avoid the same tragic fate as Greece. But rebalancing the Italian economy will take many years.”

“Everything, everything, everything that we are doing now is aimed towards helping growth,” Monti added.

Italy’s new forecasts raise the 2012 deficit target marginally to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product from 1.6 percent, while the 2013 goal is raised to 0.5 percent from 0.1 percent. An almost balanced budget, with a 0.1 percent deficit, is now targeted in 2014.

The reaction from the markets was muted, in contrast to fellow eurozone struggler Spain which saw its borrowing costs soar when Madrid relaxed its deficit targets.

Italian bond yields rose on Wednesday but only modestly. The feeling is that Italy’s main problem is its chronically weak economy, not fiscal slippage.

For investors Italy is also a known quantity. Monti is a familiar figure after serving as a European Commissioner for almost a decade until 2004 and the country’s problems are also well known: it has struggled for many years with a huge state debt and a weak economy.

By contrast, Spain is less of an known quantity. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a less familiar figure outside his home country than Monti, and doubts persist over whether his four-month-old government can tackle a property crash, a banking system that may need rescuing and Spain’s free-spending regional governments.

Italy’s budget deficit is one of the lowest in the eurozone as a proportion of output, whereas Spain’s is one of the highest.


Wars and Rumors of War

CIA seeks new authority to expand Yemen drone campaign

By , Published: April 18

The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said.Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)

The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.

If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months.

Read Full Article Here

Chossudovsky: Syrian ‘Opposition’ is ‘West-Controlled Proxy Paramilitary’

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

With Syria halting military operations as part of a UN-brokered ceasefire, Western powers have been saying they do not trust the government to uphold the armistice. Experts believe the US and its allies are pursuing their own agenda: regime change.

­Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, noted that Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, was wrong in saying that Russia and China had blood on their hands.

“NATO has blood on their hands,” he told RT. “The United States has blood on their hands. Why? Because they have supported an armed insurgency from the onset in March 2011. It is known and documented that this so-called opposition is, in fact, a proxy paramilitary formation, which is supported by the Western military alliance.”

He also noted that there is well-documented evidence to support the fact that most civilian casualties were attributable to terrorist acts by opposition gunmen and paramilitary forces.

Chossudovsky pointed to the hypocritical stance of the NATO member countries.

“On the one hand you have the government of Syria, and on the other you have, in fact, the foot soldiers of NATO,” he said. “In other words, NATO is supporting the rebels, but at the same time, the NATO countries which claim to be members of the international community, are brokering the peace plan.”

And as for the truce, Chossudovsky noted that it was the West that was not interested in seeing it bear fruit.

“The Western powers are not interested in a truce,” he concluded. “They have been seeking from the onset regime change, in other words, toppling the government and destabilizing the country.”

Political analyst Lajos Szaszdi says the US, as well the Gulf States and Turkey, prefer to see the failure of the UN-brokered peace plan put forward by the organization’s Syrian envoy Kofi Annan.

“They have an agenda of their own,” Szaszdi told RT. “They really don’t want peace with the current government of Syria.”

He said Western powers were in fact blatantly helping the opposition with diplomatic efforts, as well as by supplying money, weapons and even special forces to operate inside Syria.

And with recent reports of violence at the country’s border with Turkey, Szaszdi noted that the situation was increasingly volatile in the region.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” he stressed. “Turkey is thinking about how to internationalize the conflict, having NATO involved. And of course, we have to be very careful about this threat because what if the opposition itself, next time, could provoke an incident like the Germans did against Poland in 1939 in September, and appear like they are Syrian troops, when in fact they are members of the Free Syrian Army that want precisely to provoke international intervention.”

He also pointed to the fact that the weapons he said Turkey supplies to the opposition could end up in the hands of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), rekindling a decades-long conflict within Turkey itself.

The ceasefire came into effect at 6am local time on Wednesday. The government halted all military operations, though Annan criticized it for not withdrawing troops and heavy artillery from major cities. The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution that would authorize the deployment of an advanced monitor group to Syria.

Originally aired on RT, April 13, 2012


Articles of Interest

Drug Activists Slam Obama’s “New” Drug Policy

The administration is prioritizing drug arrests and trampling on state medical marijuana laws while not doing enough to reduce the harms of drug addiction and misuse.
April 18, 2012  |
 Responding to the Obama Administration’s latest national drug control strategy, leading drug policy reform advocates assailed the president for “prioritizing low-level drug arrests” over other policies that even the White House has acknowledged to be more effective in boosting public health and safety.

 In an introductory statement (PDF) issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama wrote that his strategy outlines “A Drug Policy for the 21st Century“ that emphasizes addiction treatments over incarceration and life-saving outreach over harsh law enforcement. The White House website even brags about the effectiveness of harm-reduction strategies over mass incarcerations, saying the approach is “grounded in decades of research and scientific study.”

Read Full Article Here

Undercover TSA To Ride Houston Buses

Published on Apr 17, 2012 by

Feds to watch for suspicious activity, pre-crime criminal behavior

Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A new program in Houston will place undercover TSA agents and police officers on buses whose job it will be to perform bag searches, watch for “suspicious activity” and interrogate passengers in order to ‘curb crime and terrorism’.

India tests long-range nuclear missile rocket

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by

India has test-fired a long range nuclear missile, Agni V, capable of reaching China and Europe. . Report by Katie Lamborn


[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.]