Genetic engineering: The world’s greatest scam?

Uploaded by on Sep 11, 2009

(French version — http://www.greenpeace.org/ogm)
Genetic engineering is a threat to food security, especially in a changing climate. The introduction of genetically manipulated organisms by choice or by accident grossly undermines sustainable agriculture and in so doing, severely limits the choice of food we can eat.

Once GE plants are released into the environment, they are out of control. If anything goes wrong – they are impossible to recall.

GE contamination threatens biodiversity respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival.

Time, place and how wood is used are factors in carbon emissions from deforestation

by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX)

File image.

A new study from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, reports that the volume of greenhouse gas released when a forest is cleared depends on how the trees will be used and in which part of the world the trees are grown.

When trees are felled to create solid wood products, such as lumber for housing, that wood retains much of its carbon for decades, the researchers found. In contrast, when wood is used for bioenergy or turned into pulp for paper, nearly all of its carbon is released into the atmosphere. Carbon is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

“We found that 30 years after a forest clearing, between 0 percent and 62 percent of carbon from that forest might remain in storage,” said lead author J. Mason Earles, a doctoral student with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “Previous models generally assumed that it was all released immediately.”

The researchers analyzed how 169 countries use harvested forests. They learned that the temperate forests found in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe are cleared primarily for use in solid wood products, while the tropical forests of the Southern hemisphere are more often cleared for use in energy and paper production.

“Carbon stored in forests outside Europe, the USA and Canada, for example, in tropical climates such as Brazil and Indonesia, will be almost entirely lost shortly after clearance,” the study states.

The study’s findings have potential implications for biofuel incentives based on greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if the United States decides to incentivize corn-based ethanol, less profitable crops, such as soybeans, may shift to other countries. And those countries might clear more forests to make way for the new crops. Where those countries are located and how the wood from those forests is used would affect how much carbon would be released into the atmosphere.

Earles said the study provides new information that could help inform climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.

“This is just one of the pieces that fit into this land-use issue,” said Earles. Land use is a driving factor of climate change. “We hope it will give climate models some concrete data on emissions factors they can use.”

In addition to Earles, the study, “Timing of carbon emissions from global forest clearance,” was co-authored by Sonia Yeh, a research scientist with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and Kenneth E. Skog of the USDA Forest Service.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Related Links
University of California – Davis
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

Nearly one-tenth of hemisphere’s mammals unlikely to outrun climate change

by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX)

The percentage of mammal species unable to keep pace with climate change in the Americas range from zero and low (blue) to a high of nearly 40 percent (light orange). Credit: U of Washington.

A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable.

For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change.

Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We underestimate the vulnerability of mammals to climate change when we look at projections of areas with suitable climate but we don’t also include the ability of mammals to move, or disperse, to the new areas,” Schloss said.

Indeed, more than half of the species scientists have in the past projected could expand their ranges in the face of climate change will, instead, see their ranges contract because the animals won’t be able to expand into new areas fast enough, said co-author Josh Lawler, UW associate professor of environmental and forest sciences.

In particular, many of the hemisphere’s species of primates – including tamarins, spider monkeys, marmosets and howler monkeys, some of which are already considered threatened or endangered – will be hard-pressed to outpace climate change, as are the group of species that includes shrews and moles. Winners of the climate change race are likely to come from carnivores like coyotes and wolves, the group that includes deer and caribou, and one that includes armadillos and anteaters.

The analysis looked at 493 mammals in the Western Hemisphere ranging from a moose that weighs 1,800 pounds to a shrew that weighs less than a dime. Only climate change was considered and not other factors that cause animals to disperse, such as competition from other species.

To determine how quickly species must move to new ranges to outpace climate change, UW researchers used previous work by Lawler that reveals areas with climates needed by each species, along with how fast climate change might occur based on 10 global climate models and a mid-high greenhouse gas emission scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UW researchers coupled how swiftly a species is able to disperse across the landscape with how often its members make such a move. In this case, the scientists assumed animals dispersed once a generation.

It’s understandable, for example, that a mouse might not get too far because of its size. But if there are many generations born each a year, then that mouse is on the move regularly compared to a mammal that stays several years with its parents in one place before being old enough to reproduce and strike out for new territory.

Western Hemisphere primates, for example, take several years before they are sexually mature. That contributes to their low-dispersal rate and is one reason they look especially vulnerable to climate change, Schloss said. Another reason is that the territory with suitable climate is expected to shrink and so to reach the new areas animals in the tropics must generally go farther than in mountainous regions, where animals can more quickly move to a different elevation and a climate that suits them.

Those factors mean that nearly all the hemisphere’s primates will experience severe reductions in their ranges, Schloss said, on average about 75 percent. At the same time species with high dispersal rates that face slower-paced climate change are expected to expand their ranges.

“Our figures are a fairly conservative – even optimistic – view of what could happen because our approach assumes that animals always go in the direction needed to avoid climate change and at the maximum rate possible for them,” Lawler said.

The researchers were also conservative, he said, in taking into account human-made obstacles such as cities and crop lands that animals encounter. For the overall analysis they used a previously developed formula of “average human influence” that highlights regions where animals are likely to encounter intense human development. It doesn’t take into account transit time if animals must go completely around human-dominated landscapes.

“I think it’s important to point out that in the past when climates have changed – between glacial and interglacial periods when species ranges contracted and expanded – the landscape wasn’t covered with agricultural fields, four-lane highways and parking lots, so species could move much more freely across the landscape,” Lawler said.

“Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity – on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development,” Schloss said.

“For species unable to keep pace, reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient, but ultimately reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change.”

The third co-author of the paper is Tristan Nunez, now at University of California, Berkeley. Both Schloss and Nunez worked with Lawler while earning their master’s degrees. Lawler did this work with support from the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences using, in part, models he previously developed with funding from the Nature Conservancy and the Cedar Tree Foundation.

Related Links
University of Washington
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

One Quarter Of Grouper Species Being Fished To Extinction

by Staff Writers
San Francisco CA (SPX)

Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited.

Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. As part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, a team of scientists has spent the past ten years assessing the status of 163 grouper species worldwide.

They report that 20 species (12%) are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue, and an additional 22 species (13%) are Near Threatened. These findings were published online on April 28 in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

“Fish are one of the last animal resources commercially harvested from the wild by humans, and groupers are among the most desirable fishes,” said Dr. Luiz Rocha, Curator of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, and one of the paper’s authors.

“Unfortunately, the false perception that marine resources are infinite is still common in our society, and in order to preserve groupers and other marine resources we need to reverse this old mentality.”

The team estimates that at least 90,000,000 groupers were captured in 2009. This represents more than 275,000 metric tonnes of fish, an increase of 25% from 1999, and 1600% greater than 1950 figures. The Caribbean Sea, coastal Brazil, and Southeast Asia are home to a disproportionately high number of the 20 Threatened grouper species. (A species is considered “Threatened” if it is Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable under IUCN criteria.)

Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited. Their disappearance from coral reefs could upset the ecological balance of these threatened ecosystems, since they are ubiquitous predators and may play a large role in controlling the abundance of animals farther down the food chain.

Unfortunately, groupers take many years (typically 5-10) to become sexually mature, making them vulnerable for a relatively long time before they can reproduce and replenish their populations.

In addition, fisheries have exploited their natural behavior of gathering in great numbers during the breeding season. The scientists also conclude that grouper farming (mariculture) has not mitigated overfishing in the wild.

Although the prognosis is poor for the restoration and successful conservation of Threatened grouper species, the authors do recommend some courses of action, including optimizing the size and location of Marine Protected Areas, minimum size limits for individual fish, quotas on the amount of catch, limits on the number of fishers, and seasonal protection during the breeding season.

However, the scientists stress that “community awareness and acceptance, and effective enforcement are paramount” for successful implementation, as well as “action at the consumer end of the supply chain by empowering customers to make better seafood choices.”

These findings are posted online here.

Related Links
California Academy of Sciences
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com


Cyber Space

Debut of Cut-Rate Mobile Plan Marred by Alleged Malicious Attack

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.”

By Daniel Ionescu, PCWorld

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.” The company now says it’s postponing the launch of its budget plan until an unspecified date.

The company had generated buzz for its low prices. Voyager Mobile had planned to offer a contract-free $19 per month that included unlimited calls and texts. A second plan included a $39 plan that included unlimited calls, text and 3G/4G data. Voyager Mobile had planned to piggyback its service on Sprint’s network and operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MNVO).

Voyager Mobile would also resell some of the most popular Android smartphones on Sprint such as the Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G Touch, and some yet-unnamed Windows Phone 7 devices, USB dongles and mobile hotspots. The company was meant to unveil its website on Tuesday at 6AM ET.

Voyager Posted a note to its website: “Due to the network outage, Voyager Mobile is postponing its launch to a time and date in the very near future. Our goal of low cost wireless service for all will not be undermined and we strive to continue the voyage for a better wireless world.”

Voyager declined to comment when asked about the alleged attack. It’s also unclear why any group or individual would target this company.

US Postal Service Won’t Fly iPads, iPhones, MacBooks out of Country

By Karen Haslam, macworld.co.uk

From 16 May it will not be possible to ship iPads, iPhones or laptops overseas from the US using the United States Postal Service (USPS).

USPS believes that lithium batteries – which feature in devices including the iPad, iPhone, MacBooks, and other smartphones, laptops, and tablets – pose too great of a risk to be shipped overseas. An amendment to the company’s documentation states: “lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail.”

The USPS will still allow these products to be shipped within the US. UPS and FedEx will continue to ship such items overseas, however.

The revised Mailings of Lithium Batteries document states: “Primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location”.

USPS will lift the restriction in January 2013, however. The document explains: “On 1 January 2013, customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.”

The January 2013 modification is due to changes in international standards that USPS is aware of following discussion with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). “International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU),” states USPS in its documentation.

Apple is reported to have opposed stricter regulations restricting lithium-battery shipments by air.

The reason for regulations regarding the transportation of lithium-batteries by air is that they can spontaneously combust. The UN rules, which will become effective on 1 January 2013, state that pilots must be notified when lithium batteries are on a flight, shipments should be labelled as hazardous materials, and employees should have training in handling such cargo.

There have been several plane crashes directly attributed to exploding lithium batteries in the last few years, according to reports.

Facebook Users Don’t Trust Site on Privacy Issues

By Ian Paul, PCWorld

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesFacebook lays claim to more than 900 million members across the globe and may have a massive initial public offering in the coming days, but a new poll says users have trust issues with the social networking site. More than half of those surveyed, 59 percent, said they had little to no trust that Facebook would keep their information private, according to an AP-CNBC poll. The study also found that 54 percent of the survey’s 1,004 respondents would not “feel safe at all” purchasing goods and services through the world’s largest social network.

The news that Facebook users do not trust the company to keep their information private is hardly surprising given the social network’s shady past with privacy-related issues. Concerns over privacy changes involving new products such as Beacon, frictionless sharing, Instant Personalization, and Places always make headlines. And seemingly never-ending changes to Facebook’s terms of service and privacy policy allow users to think twice about trusting Facebook.

Despite Facebook’s privacy challenges, however, the social network keeps on growing, and users continue to share their most personal information with a company they reportedly don’t trust. Facebook in July 2010 claimed 500 million users and in the less than two years since the social network has nearly doubled its user base. And despite Facebook’s privacy woes, it is still one of the most popular sites for sharing photos with an average of more than 300 million images uploaded daily for the three months ending March 31, according to the company.

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesDespite Facebook’s privacy trust problems, the finding that Facebook is not trusted when it comes to online purchases is a little surprising. To purchase items on Facebook you need to buy Facebook credits, which are only available through Facebook itself. Users can then use these credits to buy virtual items in popular games such as Zynga’s Farmville, rent movies, and, perhaps coming soon, self-promote your own posts.

Facebook does have to contend with malicious software stealing user credentials and clickjacking scams, but the company is also pretty active when it comes to security (sometimes too much so). Facebook has also offered secure SSL encryption since 2011. Some users may be wary about Facebook now, but I wonder if that will change as more services start using Facebook credits.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news andanalysis.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint Alleges

By John P. Mello Jr., PCWorld

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesApple cofounder Steve Jobs got directly involved in an alleged conspiracy to fix e-book prices after a publisher balked at participating in the scheme, according to a court document filed by 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The document, an amended complaint to an antitrust lawsuit by the states and others against Penguin, Macmillan and Apple, was filed in a New York federal district court. A similar lawsuit against the publishers and Apple has been filed by the Department of Justice.

According to the complaint, when one of the conspiring publishers dragged its feet on entering the e-book pricing deal with Apple, Jobs was enlisted to sell high-ranking officials in the publisher’s parent company on the wisdom of the proposed pricing scheme.

“As I see it,” Jobs wrote, the publisher had the following choices:

1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.

2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.

3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do You?” he wrote.

Within three days of the letter, the amended complaint noted, the foot-dragging conspiring publisher and its co-conspirators agreed on an “agency” e-book pricing scheme and signed an agency deal with Apple.

In their complaint, the states and others allege that Apple joined publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in a price-fixing conspiracy and facilitated their scheme to increase e-book prices.

Apple facilitated the alleged conspiracy, the states argue, by bringing the publishers into agreement with one another on how to go about increasing e-book prices.

The publishers’ plan was carried out in two steps, the complaint explained. First, the existing wholesale model for selling books — where retailers decided the price consumers paid for e-books — would be replaced with an agency model in which the publishers controlled the price consumers paid for an e-book. Second, retail e-book prices would be increased.

As a result of the alleged conspiracy, Apple and the publishers “agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between Apple and Amazon and other outlets.

Rather than hinder competition, Apple claims its deal with the publishers fostered competition. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry,” it said in a statement issued after the Justice Department filed its lawsuit against the company.

“Just as we have allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore,” it added.

However, there’s evidence that the deal Apple cut with the publishers to sell e-books wasn’t as common as the high-tech firm would like the public to believe.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesThat agreement contains something called a “most-favored nation” clause. Typically, those clauses are included in contracts to protect a buyer from wholesale price fluctuations.

Apple’s most-favored nation clause was different, according to the Justice Department. “[I]nstead of [a clause] designed to protect Apple’s ability to compete, this [clause] was designed to protect Apple from having to compete on price at all, while still maintaining Apple’s 30 percent margin,” the Justice Department said in its complaint against Apple and the publishers.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

LightSquared Declares Bankruptcy After GPS Worries Sank Its Mobile Dream

By Stephen Lawson, IDG News

LightSquared, the startup that planned a nationwide wholesale mobile network only to be shot down by regulators because of GPS interference concerns, is declaring bankruptcy.

The move came after lengthy negotiations with lenders and does not shut down the company’s only commercial operation, a satellite-based mobile service. The bankruptcy is expected to give Philip Falcone, the hedge-fund chief who built LightSquared out of two satellite acquisitions, several months of control over how the company addresses its troubles.

LightSquared wanted to run an LTE mobile broadband network using frequencies next to those used by GPS, which historically had been reserved for satellite service. Part of the promise of LightSquared was the prospect of a wholesale-only provider of LTE capacity to both large and small mobile operators, potentially making the high-speed mobile business in the U.S. more competitive.

However, in February, the FCC said it would kill LightSquared’s planned network because it would interfere with GPS receivers. As a result, LightSquared’s main asset, its spectrum, has little value unless the company can reach another deal with the agency that would give it other spectrum to work with.

Documents detailing the bankruptcy are expected to be released later Monday.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen’s e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com


Survival / Sustainability

Three Things Every Newbie Survivalist Should Have

by M.D. Creekmore  

It’s a question I hear a lot from new preppers: “what should I buy first and where do I start?”

And while there are a lot of different answers depending on individual situations and needs, usually my recommendation to those starting out, is to start a food storage program, buy a good water filter and a dual purpose firearm for foraging and protection.

Food Storage Program

Let’s face it most people aren’t familiar with basic foods such as hard red wheat, whole corn, soybeans etc, nor are they conversant with their preparation. So I suggest, beginning survivors start out with foods they are familiar with.

Most canned foods off the grocers shelf have a shelf life of three to five years, make a list of everything your family eats for a week, then buy 10 cases of every non-perishable item on the list.

Even though canned foods have a limited shelf life you’re going to rotate so you’ll always have a fresh supply.

Say you start out with ten cases of chili. Mark each case from 1 to 10. You start with case number 1, when you finish eating it, buy another case and mark it as case number 11. Start on case number 2, when done buy another case and mark it as case number 12 and so on.

Read Full Article Here

Solar Cookers  How to make  your  own and how to use it



Panel solar cookers are the first solar cookers that are truly affordable to the world’s neediest. In 1994, a volunteer group of engineers and solar cooks associated with Solar Cookers International developed and produced the CooKit, based on a design by French scientist Roger Bernard. Elegant and deceptively simple looking, it is an affordable, effective and convenient solar cooker. With a few hours of sunshine, the CooKitmakes tasty meals for 5-6 people at gentle temperatures, cooking food and preserving nutrients without burning or drying out. Larger families use two or more cookers.

The CooKit is made of cardboard and foil shaped to reflect maximum sunlight onto a black cooking pot that converts sunlight into thermal (heat) energy. A heat-resistant bag (or similar tranparent cover) surrounds the pot, acting like a greenhouse by allowing sunlight to hit the pot and preventing heat from escaping. It weighs half a kilogram and folds to the size of a big book for easy transport.

The CooKit folds to be about the size of a large notebook when not in use.

CooKits are now produced independently in 25 countries from a wide variety of materials at a cost of $3 – $7 US. Note that you can either build your own CooKit using the plans below or you can order a pre-built Cookit from Solar Cookers International. Your purchase helps support SCI’s work around the world.

CooKits complement other cooking methods needed at night and on cloudy days. Coming about twenty years after the first efforts to replace open fires with improved cooking stoves, the CooKit uses no fuel at all. The CooKit is both user-friendly and environmentally friendly. Families can save scarce, expensive fuel for when they cannot solar cook and when economically capable, add other, higher cost cooking improvements such as modern biomass, smoke hoods, biogas, or liquefied petroleum gas. A single CooKit of normal dimensions (see below) is not able to cook a pot of food large enough to feed a large family. To cook larger amounts of food a box-style cooker may be a better choice.

Solar Cooker Diagram (English)

Solar Oven detailed instruction PDF (English)

For other languages  please  see the  site,  they  have  many  languages  available



Occupy organic vegetable gardens – Rebirth of the Victory garden

By JB Bardot, 
(NaturalNews) During World Wars I and II, private citizens were encouraged to plant Victory gardens in an effort to support the war effort and take the strain off the food industry, providing more food for citizens living at home. Little gardens popped up all over the country and they were called Victory gardens because people envisioned a victorious end to strife, sadness and hardship. Victory gardens in the U.S. produced a staggering 40% of the food supply. The Victory garden campaign resulted…

FILE – In this Friday, June 17, 2011 file image made from video released by Change.org, a Saudi Arabian woman drives a car as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Change.org, File)

OSLO — In May 2011, Manal al-Sharif did something revolutionary: She drove a car.

In most societies this would be far from noteworthy, but in Saudi Arabia, where women are prohibited from getting behind the wheel, it was an act of extraordinary courage. The protest, which she put on YouTube, landed al-Sharif in jail for nine days. It also made her an international figure. In the last year, she has been named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine and one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2012.”

And last week, the 32-year old Saudi was one of three people awarded the first annual Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

To attend the conference in Norway, al-Sharif says she was pressured out of her job at the Saudi oil company Aramco. Considering she is a working-class single mother, it couldn’t have been an easy decision to continue her human rights fight in the face of such economic pressures. But, as al-Sharif told The Daily Caller, “if you stand up for your beliefs, there is a price to pay.”

“They pressured me a lot and it was like too much to take,” she said, explaining that while she was not explicitly fired, she was increasingly marginalized at the company for her activism, leading to her exit after coming into conflict again with her bosses over attending the conference.

After first stating that she didn’t “want to talk about” the pressure she has suffered under since her Rosa Parks-like act of defiance, she conceded that the Saudi government does “pressure you a lot, whether directly or indirectly.”

“So they can cause a lot of trouble,” she went on. “They scandalize you, they smear you … they spread all these rumors about you … But it’s up to you how to deal with that pressure. The more pressure it is, the more attacks I get, the more impact I know that I’m making.”

Environmentalist group laud Supreme Court move to look into country’s GMO approval system

A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals

    • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Manila: A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals.Greanpeace said the Supreme Court decision to grant a Writ of Kalikasan in favour of stopping Bt eggplant field trials in the country while further studies are being conducted is a step forward in the fight against so-called “Frankenstein” food that harm not only the human body but the environment as well.

Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested”


“Greenpeace believes the granting of the Writ of Kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment. We welcome this as a positive development: GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Writ of Kalikasan (Nature) is a legal remedy designed for the protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.

In the same breath, Greenpeace called for greater scrutiny of the country’s GMO approval system as it welcomed the Supreme Court decision to stop field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt eggplant in the Philippines.“The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into the spotlight the country’s flawed GMO approval system which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be eaten and planted by Filipinos. This is an outrage and such a regulatory system which clearly disregards public good must be scrapped,” he added.

According to Greenpeace, there are serious uncertainties regarding the safety and long-term impacts of GMOs.

“Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested,” the group said.

Last April 26, petitioners led by Leo Avila of Davao City Agriculturist Office, Atty. Maria Paz Luna, former Senator Orlando Mercado and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan against GMO field trials.

The petition seeks to immediately stop the field trials of Bt eggplant. It also puts into question the flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs and ensuring the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental grounds before they are released into the open.

Despite the scientific doubt that surrounds GMO food crops, the Philippines has never rejected any GMO application, approving, since 2002, a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and propagation.

Most of these GMOs are approved as food for Filipinos.
While other countries are taking the precautionary approach to GMOs, Greenpeace said the Philippine Department of Agriculture has done exactly the opposite.

Walker’s World: Europe’s voters revolt

by Martin Walker
Munich, Germany (UPI)

The anti-austerity revolt of European voters continued Sunday when electors in a key German province gave Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats just 28 percent of the vote, the party’s lowest perentage since 1948.

This is a grim time to be in office in Europe. Voters have turned out governments in Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Greece. And while Merkel remains in office at the national level and remains personally popular, her own coalition with Bavaria’s Christian Social party is fraying badly.

How much of Sunday’s vote was against the austerity that Merkel is forcing upon Europe and how much a reaction against the way Germany continues reluctantly to bail out the bankrupt European partners is an open question. Either way, it means voters are losing trust in Merkel’s economic stewardship, even though Germany has recovered more strongly from the crisis than any other European economy.

Sunday’s vote also reflected the ongoing crisis of the traditional two-party system, with smaller German parties continuing to take votes from the big two — Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the moderate-left Social Democrats. The Greens got 12 percent, the centrist Free Democrats recovered to 8 percent and the bizarre new Pirate Party, committed to Internet freedom and votes for teenagers, repeated its earlier success in Berlin.

All this took place as Greece slid further down the slope toward what the markets are calling “Grexit,” a Greek exit from the euro, which many fear would trigger Europe’s biggest crisis since World War II. After their chaotic elections and inability to form a coalition government, it isn’t easy to see how Greece musters the political will to make the budget cuts and suffer the economic pain required to remain inside the euro.

But if Greece goes, it is also not easy to see how to prevent the contagion spreading to Portugal, Spain and even Italy as depositors take their euros from their own national banks and deposit them in safer German banks, rather than see savings eroded by devaluation.

The dirty secret here is that on close examination Germany’s economic situation, despite its strong manufacturing sector and massive export trade, isn’t nearly as strong as it looks.

Germany’s Market Economy Foundation reports that in addition to the official national debt of roughly $2.6 trillion, there are $5.9 trillion in future benefit promises to retirees, the sick and people requiring nursing care. These are commitments that aren’t documented in official budgets nor has any provision been made to finance them. When these commitments are included, Germany’s real debt isn’t the “official” 80 percent of gross domestic product but 276 percent.

Moreover, the disguised way in which Germany has continued to bail out the weaker Europeans is becoming a serious public issue. This is done through the “Target2” system of the European Central Bank, where the debits and credits of the various eurozone members are held.

There has been a sharp jump in the Bundesbank’s Target2 claims within the European Central Bank’s internal payment network from $706 billion in February to $795 billion in March. Bundesbank claims have risen six-fold since 2008. Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann is demanding collateral from weaker states for Target2 transfers.

These German credits, equivalent to $800 billion, are balanced by debts of Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian central banks of almost $850 billion. So long as the German central bank doesn’t demand its money, it is in effect bankrolling the other European partners. And since this is done between central banks, there has been no parliamentary authorization for this hidden bailout.

“The euro-system is near explosion,” said Professor Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany’s IFO Institute, addressing Austria’s Economics Academy on April 19. “This enormous international credit should have been subjected to the parliaments of Europe.”

He may well be right. But the voters seem intent on throwing the parliaments of Europe into disarray or into coalitions that are either unworkable or impotent to take the decisive action required.

This might not be so alarming, were it not that even bigger political challenges lie in wait for Europe. Its social contract and generous welfare state is becoming steadily less sustainable as the society ages. More and more people are qualifying for pensions and expensive elderly healthcare while fewer and fewer young people are coming into the labor market and when they do there are few jobs for them.

If things look grim for Europe’s incumbent politician now, they will soon look even worse as they are forced to push through new laws raising the retirement age, curbing pension and welfare payments and raising taxes.

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Democracy in the 21st century at TerraDaily.com


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