Environmentalists Becoming Hysterical As “Climate Change” Scam Falls Apart

(Refreshing News) The “Climate Change/Global Warming” crowd is reaching the point of hysteria. Fewer and fewer people are taking them seriously anymore.

Their drastic, proposed global regulations are being rejected by many countries around the world.
And, many of their dire predictions just haven’t come true – the computer models upon which they base their alarmism have proven to be false.
All of this rejection is making them more desperate and looney.

Continue reading

Advertisements

9 Cities In America Running Out Of Water

Photo: droughtonitor.unl.edu

Water is one of our most precious and neglected natural resources. Without an abundant water supply life as we know would not exist. Everyday we take for granted the fact that we turn on the faucet and an unlimited supply of blue gold is delivered to our door step. Continue reading

Ignoring Bee Crisis, EPA Greenlights New ‘Highly Toxic’ Pesticide

https://i1.wp.com/fracturedparadigm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/bee_orange_flower.jpgDespite new findings that prove a heightened crisis in US bee populations and a recent ban in Europe on similar chemical applications, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to further endanger the population Monday by approving a “highly toxic” new pesticide.

The “EPA continues to put industry interests first to exacerbate an already dire pollinator crisis,” writes the group Beyond Pesticides.

The agency granted sulfoxaflor, a product of the Dow Chemical Company, “unconditional registration” for use on vegetables, fruits, barley, canola, ornamentals, soybeans and wheat among others, despite the EPA’s own classification of the insecticide as “highly toxic to honey bees.”

According to the Washington Examiner, the EPA’s studies on the chemical’s long-term effect on bees proved to be “inconclusive due to some issues with the study designs” and thus the EPA has proposed simply reducing the amount applied.

As part of their decision, the EPA approved new language for the sulfoxaflor labels which reads, “Do not apply this product at any time between 3 days prior to bloom and until after petal fall,” during heightened pollinator activity.

Further, they approved an additional ‘advisory pollinator statement’:

Notifying known beekeepers within 1 mile of the treatment area 48 hours before the product is applied will allow them to take additional steps to protect their bees. Also limiting application to times when managed bees and native pollinators are least active, e.g., before 7 am or after 7pm local time or when temperature is below 55oF at the site of application, will minimize risk to bees.

Though the EPA believes this advisory to be “robust” enough to protect pollinators, environmental advocacy groups such as Beyond Pesticides believe such statements “not only underscore the risks to bees” but prove to be unrealistic since systemic pesticides, including sulfoxaflor, “continue to exist in the plant (including pollen and nectar) for longer periods of time that well surpasses the recommended application intervals, and therefore expose bees to residues longer than suggested.”

And, in addition to harming bees, sulfoxaflor has been known to cause tumors and carcinomas in mice and rats and has been classified as “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.”

Dismissing these concerns, the EPA alternately points to the “need for sulfoxaflor by industry and agriculture groups to control insects no longer being controlled by increasingly ineffective pesticide technologies,” proving the ongoing and harmful nature of unsustainable techniques such as pesticide sprays.

Following Europe’s announcement that they would suspend the use of bee-harming neonicotinoids in an effort to combat the rampant colony collapse crisis, many hoped the US would announce similar reforms.

However, following this week’s announcement, groups say it is clear the EPA will continue pursue an “irresponsible” and “counter-intuitive” agenda in regards to bee health and the environment.

 

http://fracturedparadigm.com/2013/06/12/ignoring-bee-crisis-epa-greenlights-new-highly-toxic-pesticide/

NYC, Bloomberg, To Waste Sandy Funds On “Climate Change” Projects

You won’t believe how much….well, you probably will believe it after all you’ve seen from these insane people, though Joe Romm’s Soros funded Climate Progress has no problem with the wasted money, as the writer, Brad Johnson, discusses

On Friday, the City of New York allocated $294 million of Superstorm Sandy recovery funds for resiliencyprojects to respond to the threat of fossil-fueled climate change.

(From the press release) The City has set aside $294 million for resiliency investments to be detailed in a report issued by the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency later this month.

“HUD’s approval of our comprehensive Action Plan enables us to take the next critical step toward recovery – launching the programs for home rebuilding and business assistance that will rejuvenate the neighborhoods Sandy hit hardest,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “We’ll also take the first steps toward making the City more resilient to the impacts that we know climate change will bring.”

What this looks like is more planning sessions, reports, spreading awareness, and all sorts of measures which won’t actually Do Something, but will also surely increase thecost of living in NYC, all for something that may or may not happen naturally in the far future, instead of spending the money to directly help the citizens of NYC.

 

 

http://www.thepiratescove.us/2013/05/13/nyc-bloomberg-to-waste-sandy-funds-on-climate-change-projects/

Israel PM Netanyahu says Hawking needs to study facts about Israel

Stephen Hawking

BEIJING/LONDON – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Prof. Stephen Hawking for joining the boycott against Israel and cancelling plans to attend President Shimon Peres’s conference next month, saying the celebrated physicist should “study the facts.”

Asked by The Jerusalem Post about Hawking’s boycott at a press briefing, Netanyahu said, “He should investigate the truth, he is a scientist. He should study the facts and draw the necessary conclusions: Israel is an island of reason, moderation and a desire for peace.”

Netanyahu said that Hawking knows that there are many false theories in science. “There are also false theories in politics, and this [the slandering of Israel] is one of them, maybe the foremost among them,” he said. “There is no state that yearns for peace more than Israel, nor any state that has done more for peace than Israel.”

One official in the prime minister’s entourage went even further, comparing Hawking to Shakespeare and Voltaire, both of whom held anti-Semitic sentiments.

“History shows that there are people who are no less great than Hawking who believed things about Jews that it was impossible to imagine they actually believed,” he said. “I am talking about Voltaire, or Shakespeare. How do you explain that someone with the encyclopedic knowledge of Voltaire believed what he did about the Jews. How can you explain it? But it is a fact.”

Apparently, the official continued, “intelligence and achievements are no guarantee for understanding the truth about the Jews or their state.

What was true regarding Jews for generations, is now true about the state of the Jews.”

Meanwhile questions have been asked as to why Hawkins felt it fit to visit Iran in 2007 and China in 2006.

Left-wing political blog Left Foot Forward, sister-site of the US blog Think Progress, questioned why Hawking visited China “where some of the most visible and egregious human rights violations committed by the Chinese state have occurred” and were highlighted by Human Rights Watch several years before his visit.

Commenting on Iran, the blog said: “As far as I am aware, there was no statement at the time from Hawking refusing to travel to the Islamic Republic out of “respect” for the country’s political dissidents, or until the government stopped executing homosexuals.”

In summary, Left Foot Forward said: “Is Israel uniquely bad, or has hypocrisy towards the Jewish state become so widely accepted among some progressives that even an eminent scholar like Hawking is susceptible to hypocritical and lazy double standards?”

Cambridge University said on Thursday that The Jerusalem Post was the catalyst behind the decision to retract its statement about Hawking’s ill health and confirm what was really behind his decision to withdraw from next month’s Presidents of Major American Jewish Communities Conference.

On Wednesday morning the university had released a statement saying the renowned physicist pulled out of the Jerusalem event because of ill health.

“Professor Hawking has decided to cancel his planned visit to Israel on the advice of doctors,” the spokesman said.

Later that day, the university retracted this after the Postshowed proof that Hawking had told organizers of the June 18-20 conference that pressure from Palestinian academics made him withdraw.

“I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics,” Hawking said in the letter. “They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this I must withdraw from the conference.”

When this was put to Tim Holt, acting director of communications at Cambridge, he was surprised and said he would look into it. Hours later, the university retracted its statement and confirmed that Hawking withdrew in order to respect the boycott.

“We had understood previously that his decision was based purely on health grounds, having been advised by doctors not to fly,” Holt said. On Thursday, Holt said that the information from the letter provided by the Post had made them amend their position.

“When we realized that the letter was being made public by you [the Post] we changed the statement to reflect this.

Prof. Hawking’s health is a factor and his doctors have indeed instructed that he should not travel,” he said.

 

 

http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/hawkings-boycott-has-rocked-the-foundations-of-zion-more-than-any-other/

S

China, Japan, Oklahoma, Mexico, Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Chile – Earthquakes Worldwide

 

Well, looks like so far that “me tel u” was right after all

http://quakes.globalincidentmap.com/

Iran, Papua New Guinea And Oklahoma Earthquakes 2013: Multiple Quakes Shake The World

Earthquakes shook widely separated parts of the world Tuesday.

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit Papua New Guinea Tuesday night, with the state of Oklahoma experiencing unprecedented seismic action for the area during the same period, according to the United States Geological Survey. Iran also felt a 7.8 quake that injured many people on Tuesday, the USGS said.

A tsunami warning has not been issued for Papua New Guinea, where residents are used to quakes due to their close proximity to the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” There have yet to be any reports of injuries or fatalities as a result of the quake.

http://www.ibtimes.com/iran-papua-new-guinea-oklahoma-earthquakes-2013-multiple-quakes-shake-world-1197259

Series of earthquakes shakes Oklahoma 

By Marian Smith, Staff Writer, NBC News

A magnitude-4.3 earthquake shook Oklahoma early Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The quake struck at 12:56 a.m. local time (1:56 a.m. ET) around 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. It was measured at a depth of 3.1 miles, the USGS said.

A small earthquake of magnitude 3.0 preceded the temblor, and two small tremors with magnitudes of 2.8 and 3.3 rattled nearby within 20 minutes of the initial quake.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/16/17773446-series-of-earthquakes-shakes-oklahoma?lite

 

Yes, very unusual, as per USGS since yesterday we had 9 earthquakes 5.0+
5.1 19km SW of Yuhu, China 2013-04-17 01:46:02 26.004°N 99.830°E 55.0
6.6 23km ESE of Aitape, Papua New Guinea 2013-04-16 22:55:27 3.218°S 142.543°E 13.0
5.0 87km SE of Muara Siberut, Indonesia 2013-04-16 18:22:29 2.192°S 99.729°E 27.8
5.2 72km S of Kotaagung, Indonesia 2013-04-16 11:26:06 6.140°S 104.734°E 52.9
7.8 83km E of Khash, Iran 2013-04-16 10:44:20 28.107°N 62.053°E 82.0
5.6 125km WSW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea 2013-04-16 10:00:24 6.652°S 154.405°E 10.0
5.0 125km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands 2013-04-16 09:05:28 11.702°S 165.254°E 10.0
5.3 52km SSW of Motuo, China 2013-04-16 08:34:12 28.874°N 95.115°E 31.7
5.0 32km SSE of Tondano, Indonesia 2013-04-16 03:48:44 1.048°N 125.059°E 87.0

 

Just to quote thou, Feb 8/9/10 were also very active days. Feb-8 we had this:
5.5 103km ESE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 22km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 23km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.2 26km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.1 29km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.3 14km E of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.7 77km ESE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.8 77km W of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
5.1 46km WSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
7.1 31km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.2 29km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.2 27km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.3 43km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.1 32km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 24km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 23km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.1 25km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
6.8 21km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.5 121km W of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.2 34km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.5 35km S of Lata, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands were shaking like jelly in a roller-coaster cart that day. The next day it wasn’t so different:
5.2 14km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.5 22km SSE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.1 30km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.3 30km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
6.6 25km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.2 15km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 110km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
6.9 2km N of Yacuanquer, Colombia
5.0 39km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.1 130km S of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.4 60km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 152km SSW of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.5 23km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
5.0 26km SE of Iwaki, Japan

 

Not so significant, but just now a 4.4 in Japan:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usb000g8qq#summary

Today’s quakes so far(7:55 am):
Mag. Location
5.7 107km E of Khash, Iran
5.6 25km WSW of Miura, Japan
5.6 209km W of Abepura, Indonesia
5.1 8km NNW of Linao, Philippines
5.1 19km SW of Yuhu, China
5.0 47km NNE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.9 42km N of Yonakuni, Japan
4.9 55km NNE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.9 47km NNE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.8 116km E of Khash, Iran
4.7 26km WSW of Darapidap, Philippines
4.7 42km N of Yonakuni, Japan
4.7 39km NNE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.7 57km NE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.7 59km NE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.6 56km NE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.6 West Chile Rise
4.5 62km ENE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.4 57km NE of Yonakuni, Japan
4.4 82km SSE of Shimoda, Japan
4.2 12km NNE of Ishigaki, Japan
4.1 9km SW of Alberto Oviedo Mota, Mexico
3.2 5km ESE of Luther, Oklahoma
2.7 68km WSW of Middleton Island, Alaska
2.6 67km WSW of Cordova, Alaska
2.5 51km SSE of Lone Pine, California

Well, that’s all I see in official USGS site. There are some more, I’ll post as soon as they have increased in number.

 
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/china-japan-oklahoma-mexico-iran-philippines-indonesia-chile-earthquakes-worldwide/#CFHvYWFkbKffScub.99

Monsanto Now Owns Blackwater (Xe)

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater’s Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.

Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.

One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the biotech giant.

Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to

keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”

However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.

No wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company of thugs.

Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesina reported the purchase of 500,000 shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.

It is a marriage between the two most brutal monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietary computing and Monsanto about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.

Although Bill Gates might try to say that the Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything, but instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geoengineering or replacement of natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of Health Julio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisers of the Foundation.

Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, finally by genetically modified (GM). To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.

Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine on the planet and most people who inhabit it, are peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge or any other who does not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism.

* The author is a researcher at ETC Group

Transition Towns: Agenda 21 Comes to Life

Transition towns are a movement modeled after the UN’s Agenda 21 to create communities that adhere to the initiative that center around reducing CO2 emissions.

Under the alarmist perspective of man-made climate change, founders Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande created the Transition Model based on studies conducted by Ben Brangwyn on global relocalization agendas.

At an initial Transition Bristol meeting in the UK, the Tudor Trust began funding this initiative. This led to the creation of the Transition Initiatives Primer , an explanatory guide to the scheme and fake grassroots groups who coerced communities into adopting the plan.

Transition Initiatives were created in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, USA, and Wales. Training courses have been developed to ensure that this ideal becomes a global movement. Issues under Transition Initiatives governance are food production, manipulation techniques in dealing with local governments, sustainable housing, reduction of public energy consumption, adaptation of communities to resemble transition cities and control over local economies.

A propaganda film entitled In Transition 1.0 was produced with the global audience in mind, giving more credence to this UN takeover of our local communities.

Groups like the West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) have been pushing for Transition Towns for several years. In British Columbia alone, they have begun to take root in Victoria Vancouver ,Nelson , Salt Spring, Powell River and the Cowichan Valley.

The Green Communities Program has help spread the propaganda of SmartGrowth ideology through SmartGrowth BC and the SmartGrowth Bylaws Guide a marketing tract on British Columbia bylaws that support UN Agenda 21.

The dangers that Transition Towns impose on our sovereignty and individuality are:

• They refocus town planning and infrastructure on implementation of Agenda 21
• They appear to be grassroots operations
• They promote the Peak Oil mythology as an energy scare-tactic
• They support SmarthGrowth which is code for Agenda 21
• They aspire to control framing, disburse ability to farm, and pressure governmental policies on farming that reflect Agenda 21
• Use the hoax of man-made climate change as the purpose for imposing policy control by building cities that are designed to reduce carbon emissions
• Securitize local food stores, businesses, healthcare and fuel
• Ensure SmarthGrowth controls all citizens ability to acquire any needs for human survival
• Create internal advocacies that band together to purvey Transition Town propaganda to elected officials and local governments

By working on the ground level, Transition Towns can over take states and nations quicker than funneling through the bureaucracy of national governments.

To anticipate any problems, this movement has secured a legion of lawyers to be hired at the whim of the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund , a WCEL “society” developed to infuse the court system with legal disputes to intimidate lawmakers into submitting to their “suggestions”. They impose “identifying structures and rules that encourage . . . favored strategies” as defined by the Transition Town movement.

By erecting a parallel structure to the local governments in place, that can ensure authorization by those local government through time honored and patient hounding of officials in community meetings where they use the Delphi Technique to coerce innocent citizens into backing their agendas. In this way, at community meetings the “grassroots” advocates of Transition Towns can assume a false devil’s advocate position and divide and conquer the attendees at the meetings to ensure their desired outcome is supported by the end of the meeting.

In the end places like Victoria are being over-run by the Transition Town movement which has convinced the Victoria City Council to send a bill to the taxpayers for an estimated $140,000 to influence and network a fake organic movement with the assistance of the Occupy Movement in Victoria, BC.

This is why the UN Agenda 21 is so insidious. It attacks at the local level, getting the citizens of these towns and cities to fight for its implementation; all the while hiding its true nature.

The future of our world under Agenda 21 means buffer zones, areas designated inhabitable for humans in the name of biodiversity and the securitization of all resources need for base human survival. And the UN will be at the helm.

This is the dream of the global Elite.

http://www.occupycorporatism.com/transition-towns-agenda-21-comes-to-life/

Major earthquake rocks Iran, hundreds feared dead

 

Hundreds of people are feared dead as a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale rocked Iran on Tuesday.

As per the US Geological Survey, the quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale had its epicentre on the Iran-Pakistan border at a depth of 15.2 kilometres. It was located 86 kilometres east-southeast of the Iranian city of Khash.

A government officials told a news agency that “it was the biggest earthquake in 40 years and we are expecting hundreds of dead”.

There are no further details of the extent of the damage. The rescue teams are being sent to the quake stricken areas.

The quake was felt in Iran, Pakistan and a major part of West Asia.

At least 37 people were killed and 850 wounded when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit south-west Iran on April 10.

Study reveals GMO corn to be highly toxic

AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

A leaked study examining genetically-modified corn reveals that the lab-made alternative to organic crops contains a startling level of toxic chemicals.

An anti-GMO website has posted the results of an education-based consulting company’s comparison of corn types, and the results reveal that genetically modified foods may be more hazardous than once thought.

The study, the 2012 Corn Comparison Report by Profit Pro, was published recently on the website for Moms Across America March to Label GMOs, a group that says they wish to “raise awareness and support Moms with solutions to eat GMO Free as we demand GMO labeling locally and nationally simultaneously.” They are plotting nationwide protests scheduled for later this year.

The report, writes the website’s Zen Honeycutt, was provided by a representative for De Dell Seed Company, an Ontario-based farm that’s touted as being Canadian only non-GMO corn seed company.

“The claims that ‘There is no difference between GMO corn and NON Gmo corn’ are false,” says Honeycutt, who adds she was “floored” after reading the study.

According to the analysis, GMO corn tested by Profit Pro contains a number of elements absent from traditional cord, including chlorides, formaldehyde and glyphosate. While those elements don’t appear naturally in corn, they were present in GMO samples to the tune of 60 ppm, 200pm and 13 ppm, respectively.

Honecutt says that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (FDA) mandates that the level of glyphosate in American drinking water not exceed 0.7 ppm and adds that organ damage in some animals has been linked to glyphosate exposure exceeding 0.1 ppm.

“Glyphosate is a strong organic phosphate chelator that immobilizes positively charged minerals such as manganese, cobalt, iron, zinc [and] copper,” Dr. Don Huber attested during a separate GMO study recently released, adding that those elements “are essential for normal physiological functions in soils, plants and animals.”

“Glyphosate draws out the vital nutrients of living things and GMO corn is covered with it,” adds Honeycutt, who notes that the nutritional benefits rampant in natural corn are almost entirely removed from lab-made seeds: in the samples used during the study, non-GMO corn is alleged to have 437-times the amount of calcium in genetically modified versions, and 56- and 7-times the level of magnesium and manganese, respectively.

These studies come on the heels of a recent decision on Capitol Hill to approve an annual agriculture appropriations bill, even though a provision within the act contained a rider that frees GMO corporations such as the multi-billion-dollar Monsanto Company from liability. The so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” written by a lawmaker that has lobbied for the agra-giant, says biotech companies won’t need federal approval to test and plant GMO-crops, even if health risks are unknown.

“The provision would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses those potential hazards,” reads a letter to the House of Representatives that was delivered to Congress last month with the signatures of dozens of food businesses and retailers, as well as interest groups and agencies representing family farmers. “Further, it would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in the course of its assessment the Department finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”

http://rt.com/usa/toxic-study-gmo-corn-900/

Obama Approves Raising Permissible Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water. Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket

radiation 1

Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents

radiation5The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:

In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;

  • In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and
  • Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
  • Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”

“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”

Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.

Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.

Source: Global Research


 

 

 

Yuan reaches record high against the US dollar

speculation_sin30_35169557.jpg

 

The yuan reached a record high yesterday as the central bank fixed its midpoint against the US dollar at the strongest level ever.

That sparked anticipation of further appreciation this year and stoked inflationary pressure on the mainland and Hong Kong.

The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint at 6.2506 yuan per US dollar – up from the fixing of 6.2578 on Thursday – ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Asia. The yuan jumped to 79.775 Hong Kong dollars per 100 yuan, just near the record of 79.729 on Wednesday.

China often allows the yuan to appreciate faster before visits by officials from Western countries, who usually push for exchange rate liberalisation.

However, the yuan is set to strengthen this year. Inflows of capital are expected to generate higher demand for the yuan than last year as the mainland economy recovers, economists said.

“In 2013 we’ll see greater risks of capital inflows to China, rather than two-way movements in the yuan exchange rate or capital outflows as last year,” said Chang Jian, an economist at Barclays Capital. Barclays expects the yuan to strengthen 2 per cent against the greenback this year, after considering China’s intention to protect exporters in the still shaky economic recovery.

The yuan rate in the spot market touched 6.1903 per dollar yesterday, the highest since 1994. The yuan spot rate has risen 0.6 per cent so far this year, after hitting highs in the past couple of weeks.

Economists at Standard Chartered forecast the spot rate for yuan would reach 6.18 by the end of June and 6.10 by the end of this year. They said China was unlikely to follow Japan in depreciating its currency, as Japanese exporters are not its major competitors.

Nathan Chow, a DBS Bank economist, expects the strengthening of the yuan to continue to put pressure on inflation in Hong Kong because the city’s currency is pegged to the US dollar.

“The inflationary pressure caused by the yuan appreciation is inevitable, as Hong Kong imports a variety of goods, such as food and medical supplies, from the mainland,” Chow said.

A 1 per cent rise in the yuan would result in a 0.05 percentage point increase in Hong Kong’s consumer inflation, the Monetary Authority says.

 

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/article/1213468/yuan-reaches-record-high-against-us-dollar

U.S. to America: Be Afraid! “The North Koreans are Coming”

 

National Paranoia is the Irrational Fear that You’re Being Threatened  Which is the more paranoid statement?1.  AMERICAN MEDIA:  “North Korea is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons,”or:

 

2.  NORTH KOREAN MEDIA:  “The United States is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons.”

Taking recent events in the U.S. and the Korean peninsula as evidence, while mostly ignoring historical context, the drift toward another American war in Asia can be seen as clearly as the ambiguous moves and countermoves of countries with no obvious motive for war might allow, producing headlines like [1]this[1] in the New York Times of April 4:

            “North Korea Moves Missile to Coast, but Little Threat is Seen” 

According to the Times, “North Korea has been issuing a blistering series of similar threats in recent weeks, citing as targets the American military installations in the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Guam, as well as the United States mainland.”

One reason such threats are not always seen as threatening is that North Korea has no missile that can reach the U.S. mainland, [2]and[2] quite likely not even Alaska, Hawaii, or Guam, never mind whether they have any long range missile that can hit anything with any accuracy.

North Koreans Move Missile Closer to U.S.! 

The South Korean defense chief reported April 4 that the North Koreans had moved one longish-range missile to its east coast, maybe 200 miles closer to the U.S., but that missile was still not close enough to come close to the U.S. west coast.  Nevertheless, American bases in South Korea and Japan are still presumably reachable targets, as are Korean and Japanese civilians.  Most of China and eastern Russia are also within range.  [Later reports said the North Koreans had movedtwo mobile missiles to the coast.]

The U.S. recently deployed a land-based anti-missile missile system to Guam, which is beyond the range of North Korea’s operational missiles. The U.S. has also moved at least two Aegis-class missile-cruisers to patrol waters close to North Korea.   While the Aegis system [3]has[3] the capability of attacking targets on land, in the air, and under water, its most notable exploit to date was the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians.

On March 29, CNN reported somewhat breathlessly that “North Korea has entered a ‘state of war’ with neighboring South Korea,” which ignores the reality that the state of war between the two countries has existed since 1950, although an armistice [4]was[4] agreed to in 1953.  Fitful efforts to negotiate a formal peace treaty have continued for 60 years, leaving the United Nations Command in place to the present.  North Korea has previously rejected the armistice at least five other times, in 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, and 2009.

 Americans Should Be Afraid of Missiles that Can’t Reach America

Exaggerating the CNN story, the Newsweek/Daily Beast editors gave [5]it[5] this scary headline —“North Korea Prepares Strike on U.S.’  – that had no meaningful basis in reality.  Amplifying the fear the next day, NBC News [6]ran[6] a disappointingly low-key story under the ramped-up headline:

North Korea puts rockets on standby asUS official warns regime is no ‘paper tiger’ 

 Peter Hart of FAIR [7]has[7] explored the one-sidedness of American media coverage and its reality-distorting effect in detail.

One reason the North Koreans moved their missile was in response to the March 28 U.S. fly-bys along the South Korean border with B-2 bombers quite capable of carrying enough nuclear weapons to obliterate North Korea and set off nuclear winter around the world.   Just because these fly-bys with B-2s, B-52s and other potentially nuclear-armed aircraft were part of military exercises the U.S. and South Koreans put on every year (sometimes using a pretend scenario of invading the North), the U.S. maintains the North shouldn’t think of them as in the least provocative.  The B-2s flew from a base in Missouri.

Another North Korean reason for moving their missile might have been the American plans to conduct missile defense drills with Japan and South Korea on an on-going basis.  This plan follows the “signal” sent earlier in the winter when the U.S. announced plans to increase its anti-missile missile deployment in Alaska and along the Pacific west coast.

China Votes for Sanctions, but Remains Wild Card

On March 7, the United Nations Security Council unanimously (15-0) approved a resolution brokered by the U.S. and Chine, imposing new economic sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its announcement on February 12, confirming [8]its[8] third nuclear weapons test.  While many nations detected seismic activity that they interpreted to be an underground nuclear explosion, and while the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitors said the tremor had “clear explosionlike characteristics,” there was no detection of radiation sufficient to confirm that the explosion was nuclear.

North Korea’s admission that it had used a “miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously” was seen by some as defiance of Chinese advice against such a test.  The Chinese had promised that North Korea would “pay a heavy price” if it went ahead with the test.   That price apparently includes China’s cooperation with the U.S. on setting sanctions.

Complicating the response to the test announcement, there are few sanctions left to apply to North Korea, perhaps the world’s second most-sanctioned country after Israel [the U.N. has voted 66 sanctions against Israel, all or most of which Israel ignores with little consequence].  The new North Korea sanctions [9]bar[9] all nations from selling the North expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles, and racing cars.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that, “taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard.”

That will depend on China, which has previously helped North Korea get around sanctions, seeming to have less concern for the country across the border having nuclear weapons than having it devolve into instability and chaos.  So the current round of sanctions, like earlier ones, will have limited impact unless China should decide to limit its oil shipments, banking services, and other ongoing aid to North Korea.

Anyone Ready for an Act of War, like a Naval Blockade?

Another factor limiting the effectiveness of sanctions has been the unwillingness of the U.S. and other nations to enforce sanctions with a naval blockade, which would be an act of war.   And it would be an act of war against a Chinese ally, enforced in the waters off the Chinese mainland.

The announced nuclear test in February came a few weeks after the Security Council had voted unanimously for a resolution in favor of tightening sanctions on North Korea for launching a three-stage rocket in December.

At this point, no one is claiming that North Korea actually has any nuclear warheads, or any actual capacity to deliver one anywhere.

But North Korean [DPRK] bristling continued on April 4, as an unnamed army official suggested [10]that[10]:

“…the moment of explosion is approaching fast.  No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow….  The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.” 

Anonymous U.S. Official Wonders About U.S. Over-reacting

The same day, at the Pentagon, an unnamed Defense Department official, took a look in the mirror and referred to U.S. bellicosity about its own military actions, saying:

“We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing…. We are trying to turn the volume down.  We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric.  We become part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen.”

In South Korea, which would likely suffer most from an outbreak of hostilities, one observer there considered the North Korea news reporting “all hype.”  Adam Hogue graduated from Keene State College in New Hampshire in 2011 and has been living and working in South Korea ever since.  On April 2, [11]he[11] wrote:

There is a need to create a culture of panic in the United States and, arguably, everywhere else where the major media conglomerates have established news outlets…. 

 “As I have heard from my mother, father, sister, friends, the New York Times, CNN and NPR, North Korea is suddenly big news. They are now something to fear. They are something threatening, mysterious and suddenly worthy of all the news headlines in the western-world. There is an urgent message being told that now is a time to panic and react…. 

 “But, that message is not coming from my co-workers at school or from the Korean news or from my neighbors; it is a message from the media.” 

American Paranoid Policy Heightened since 9-11

So it seems, in answer to the paranoia question at the beginning of this piece: the U.S. appears to have a comfortable lead in maintaining delusions of being threatened.

While the threats to North Korea are real and existential, that doesn’t preclude some paranoia at the same time:  consider the suggestion [13]that[13] the 2010 torpedo-sinking of a South Korean ship – blamed on North Korea and raising war fears – was actually a false flag operation by the Israeli navy using a state-of-the-art German submarine [Israel [12]has[12] a small fleet, armed with nuclear-warhead missiles].

On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George Bush declared that North Korea was part of  “an axis of evil” along with Iraq and Iran – nations that, while not an axis in the usual sense, got grouped by President Bush’s belief that they were all developing weapons of mass destruction with which “to threaten the peace of the world.”

Still searching for those weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. has [14]now[14] offered to sell South Korea 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth bombers at a discount price of $180 million per plane.  If the North Koreans are paying attention, they will not feel immediately threatened by this possible sale of a plane that is at least five years from being operational and still struggling in its test phase.

The F-35 may be more of an economic threat to South Korea.

Notes

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/world/asia/north-korean-missile-moved-to-coast.html?hp&_r=1&

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/04/04/map-this-is-how-far-those-north-korean-missiles-can-actually-reach/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis_Combat_System

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Armistice_Agreement

[5] http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/03/29/north-korea-prepares-strike-on-u-s.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_morning&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_morning&utm_term=Cheat Sheet

[6] http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/29/17513218-north-korea-puts-rockets-on-standby-as-us-official-warns-regime-is-no-paper-tiger?lite

[7] http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/16789-north-korea-rattles-sabres-us-pretends-to-drop-nuclear-bombs-on-them-

[8]http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/03/07/north_korea_vows_preemptive_nuclear_strike_against_us_ahead_of_un_vote.html

[9] http://www.globalpolicy.org/security-council/index-of-countries-on-the-security-council-agenda/north-korea.html

[10] http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/04/politics/koreas-u-s-/index.html

[11] http://www.policymic.com/articles/32263/north-korea-news-is-all-hype

[12] http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/israel-deploys-nuclear-weapons-on-german-built-submarines-a-836784.html

[13] http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/ISRAEL-S-SECRET-WAR-AGAINST-NORTH-KOREA.shtml

[14] http://www.defenseworld.net/news/8160/U_S_Offers_Korea_F_35_Aircraft_At_Subsidized_Rates – .UV8FwavwLB8

 

 

 

 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/u-s-to-america-be-afraid-the-north-koreans-are-coming/5330817

Former Military Bio-Environmental Engineer Blows Whistle On Air Force Chemtrails

Former Military Bio-Environmental Engineer Blows Whistle On Air Force Chemtrails

Written by Gary Franchi

article_image_full

ATLANTA – At the 2013 Atlanta Music Liberty Fest, Kristen Meghan, former Air Force Bio-Environmental Engineer gave a ground breaking presentation of what she had discovered about Chemtrails while serving her Country.

This brave young lady has put her livelihood / life on the line for U.S. Please take a minute to thank her and help U.S. by redistributing this Video and any other VALID information about Chemtrails to as many people as you can.

Geo-engineering is a GLOBAL issue, other countries must get this information as well. “They” are spraying the majority of the population… Why?

TOP SECRET Mission – Chemtrail Pilots Cause Near Face to Face Mid-air Collision

The Textbooks Have Eyes: Now E-Books Can Track If You Do Your Homework

(theatlanticwire.com)Welcome to the future of education where your textbook—and therefore your teacher—knows exactly how much of your homework you did, how, and when. The idea is that this data will improve outcomes, helping teachers better understand their students habits. And with CourseSmart teachers can do just that, as The New York Times‘ David Streitfeld explains today. Through what is called “the engagement index” a professor can track the a student’s study habits, by looking at what pages of the book were opened, when, and how they took notes. “It’s Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent,” says Tracy Hurley, the dean of Texas A&M’s school of business, which has started testing the technology along with eight other schools.

While helping professors understand why certain students are struggling is a good thing, as we’ve learned repeatedly, it’s difficult to predict how people will use data. Take this example of how the CourseSmart data lead to suspicion of a student who had good grades:

Adrian Guardia, a Texas A&M instructor in management, took notice the other day of a student who was apparently doing well. His quiz grades were solid, and so was what CourseSmart calls his “engagement index.” But Mr. Guardia also saw something else: that the student had opened his textbook only once.

Guardia told Streitfeld this was a cause for concern: “Are you really learning if you only open the book the night before the test? I knew I had to reach out to him to discuss his studying habits.” Of course, students, especially at or above college level, don’t all learn the exact same way. By the traditional outcome measurements (i.e. grades) and even the newfangled CourseSmart “engagement index” (an example of which you can see here), this student was doing fine, but the new granular data allowed a teacher to be skeptical about that student’s work.

The introduction of new subjective judgments already, understandably, has students worried. Hillary Torres with good grades, but “low engagement” scores, told Streitfeld: “If he looks and sees, ‘Hillary is not really reading as much as I thought,’ does that give him a negative image of me? His opinion really matters. Maybe I need to change my study habits.” But unless instructors want to change how they evaluate students, why should she change the methods that are working for her?

Even worse, another good student had to sit down with her professor to fit her study habits to some Silicon Valley company’s textbook. In the Times comments, Charlotte writes: “I never studied the way the program thought I should. I took notes on paper, read only what I thought was important, and used outside resources to study.” All of these would not be captured by the CourseSmart metrics. “By studying the way I thought was best for me I did well in the class, and finished with an A. I ended up with a very low engagement score which prompted my professor to set up multiple meetings with me over the semester about my supposedly poor study habits, and how he could help me. I didn’t need help. It was all a complete waste of time.”

These aren’t the best case scenarios of course. In an ideal world, the aggregate data would help textbook authors to create better learning materials and give educators insight into how much these very expensive supplemental materials are actually helping the learning experience. But since when has data ever been used just for good?

MD Residents to Pay New “Rain Tax” For Rain That Falls on Their Property

RainYesterday we reported that Wesley Snipes was finally released from prisonafter serving a 3 year sentence for refusing to pay the government extortion racket known as “taxation”.  If you had a difficult time seeing through the scam of taxation with that story, hopefully this one can show you how taxation is blatant theft and thuggery.

10 Maryland countiesincluding the one that I live in will now be taxing people for how much rain falls on their property.  How much area is paved on their property, and how big their deck is will be primary factors in this new taxation scheme.

According to a local newspaper:

In 2010 the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay so that nitrogen levels fall 22 percent and phosphorus falls 15 percent from current amounts. The price tag: $14.8 billion.

And where do we get the $14.8 billion? By taxing so-called “impervious surfaces,” anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater run off. In other words, a rain tax.And who levies this new rain tax? Witness how taxation, like rain, trickles down through the various pervious levels of government until it reaches the impervious level — me and you.

The EPA ordered Maryland to raise the money (an unfunded mandate), Maryland ordered its 10 largest counties to raise the money (another unfunded mandate) and, now, each of those counties is putting a local rain tax in place by July 1. So, if you live in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore counties or Baltimore city, you’ll be paying a rain tax on your next property tax bill.

The article goes on to explain the government will survey peoples property using drones and satellite imagery.

Daily Finance Explained that:

Homeowners will bear the brunt of the rain tax: of the $14.8 billion to be raised — $482 million each year until 2025 — about three-quarters will come from residential property owners. The rate is expected to start at $100 a year for most homeowners, although that could rise. The only rain tax shelter: credits and exemptions for property owners who follow stormwater “best practices.”  How the money will be spent is another murky situation.

As i reported last week, while the government uses the EPA to tax drivers and regulate how people are landscaping in their back yards, that same government has uncontrollable biological weapons sitting all over the country like toxic time bombs.

Most specifically, the area in question, the Chesapeake bay is terribly polluted with toxic chemical, biological and radioactive waste that was released from the Lockheed Martin facility in Middle River MD, and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds military base in Aberdeen MD, since around the time of World War 2.  Both of these facilities have unleashed a stew of toxic waste into rivers that lead directly into the bay, even going as far as storing radio active waste under the seabed for decades.  I will be doing a full series of reports on these toxic waste sites in the coming weeks and months, stay tuned to intellihub.com for more information.

 

Intellihub.com

Shanghai Animal Apocalypse Accelerating: Pigs, Ducks, Black Swans, Chickens And Now Fish, 21 Confirmed Cases, 1 in 3 People Who Got Sick of This Flu Has Died, Gov’t Closing All Live Poultry Markets, Hong Kong On Standby For H7N9 Outbreak, MCD Slashing Chicken Prices in Shanghai on Birdflu…

Pigs, Ducks, Black Swans, Chickens And Now Fish: The Shanghai Animal Apocalypse Accelerates

Shanghai just can’t catch a break – first it was floating dead pigs, then ducks, then black swans, then mass chicken exterminations, and now fish. From the Telegraph: ” Just weeks after over 16,000 putrefying pigs were pulled from Shanghai’s Huangpu river, more than 250kg of dead carp had to be retrieved from a river in the city’s Songjiang district. Mystery still surrounds the cause of death, but numerous explanations have surfaced in the Chinese media since residents first complained about the foul-smelling fish last Monday. Theories reportedly include climate change, electrocution, an explosion or even a drug overdose. The Shanghai Daily quoted a local government official who “speculated” the fish could have been “drugged.” So, in China things are so good, even the fish are ODing on sleeping pills? Hardly, but the fact that this is even floated “out there” just shows how miserably The Onion has missed its IPO window.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-04-08/pigs-ducks-black-swans-chickens-and-now-fish-shanghai-animal-apocalypse-accelerates

MCD slashing chicken prices in Shanghai on birdflu. How is YUM faring?

How do you know when the people “just say no” to chicken over rampant bird flu concerns? When even McDonalds (whose ad campaign for the past decade “I am loving it” continues to be an anagram for “ailing vomit“) is forced to slash chicken-related prices, in this case the 20 piece McNuggets, from CNY36 to CNY20. Pretty soon not even giving away the McMystery meat will clear out the shelves of all chicken-related fast food first in Shanghai and soon elsewhere in China. Finally, we dread to imagine the horrors that will befall Yum (read China KFC sales), now that after so much pain, the fast-food chain had finally reported a modest bounce in Chinese sales. So much for that.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-04-07/shanghai-mcdonalds-slashes-mcnuggets-price-nearly-half-birdflu-fears-drive-away-buye

 

Xinhua News Agency‏@XHNews22 h
Another H7N9 infection was reported in Anhui Province Sunday night, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China to 21.

H7N9 Bird Flu Cases Reach 21 In China; Death Total Unchanged At Six

Three new cases of the deadly bird flu H7N9 were discovered in China yesterday, bringing the total in the country to 21, the government’s Xinhua news agency reported this morning.  The sick have all been discovered in eastern China; Shanghai, one of the country’s most important international business hubs, has 10 of the cases.

Eastern Chinese cities have been closing live poultry markets and taking other measures to try to contain the disease which has killed six to date.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/russellflannery/2013/04/07/deadly-h7n9-bird-flu-cases-reach-21-in-china-death-total-unchanged-at-six/
Quite a lot of information here including the 21st case.

H7N9: Asia braces for spillover

Via IRIN Asia, a very useful and informative article on what the neighbours are saying and doing: Asia braces for spill-over of new bird flu strain. By all means read the whole story. Excerpt: 

Officials throughout Asia are implementing measures to protect themselves from a new strain of bird flu – H7N9 – that has so far infected 21 people in China, killing six.

These are the first human infections and deaths to have been recorded from this virus strain worldwide. China’s neighbours have reacted by boosting hospital capabilities and disease surveillance, strengthening border control, issuing reminders to ban illegal poultry imports, and more vigorously testing what is imported.

http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/

Shanghai closing all live poultry markets as China avian flu toll rises to 6
Shanghai will temporarily close all its live poultry markets after an unusual strain of bird flu that has so far killed six people in China was found in pigeons on sale in the city.a sign of broader regional concern about the situation, the Hospital Authority in Hong Kong said it had sent a team of six people, including experts from Hong Kong University and the Center for Health Protection, to Shanghai on Thursday.The team’s purpose was to “learn about the experience of H7N9″ in Shanghai, the authority said, adding that it was due to return late Friday.
1 in 3 people Who got sick of this flu has died.
Shanghai Is The Largest City By Population In
Largest Cities of the World – (by metro population)
7. Shanghai – China – Population of 20.8m – Shanghai is the biggest city in China. The City was originally established in the year 960 AD. Shanghai is the world’s busiest Container Port.

Gregor Peter‏@L0gg0l1 h
PLA officer calls H7N9 virus a US ‘bio-psychological weapon’, causes outrage in Chinese social media http://www.scmp.com/comment/blogs/article/1209796/pla-officer-calls-h7n9-virus-us-bio-psychological-weapon

Gregor Peter‏@L0gg0l2 h
Senior Chinese military official calls new bird flu a ‘US bio-psychological weapon’ http://www.weibo.com/1571497285/zqWOWFPoL … (h/t @Asher_Wolf) #H7N9

Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/shanghai-animal-apocalypse-accelerating-pigs-ducks-black-swans-chickens-and-now-fish-21-confirmed-cases-govt-closing-all-live-poultry-markets-hong-kong-on-standby-for-h7n9-outbreak-mcd-slash/#Q12HbCX2h3CAePPD.99

Hanford, WA Nuclear Site on Brink of Disaster

(www.dailypaul.com) The more things change, the more they stay the same. My first “political activism” as an adult was to try to get Hanford shut down. Here I am decades later, back where I started. This plant was a bad design 30 years ago, and guess what? It is STILL a bad design. And, it is still utterly immoral to dump radioactive waste on our descendants.

3 days ago: King 5 News: Nuclear board warns of Hanford tank explosion risk

“State and federal officials have long known that hydrogen gas could build up inside the tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, leading to an explosion that would release radioactive material. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recommended additional monitoring and ventilation of the tanks last fall, and federal officials were working to develop a plan to implement the recommendation.”

Got that? LAST FALL the Fed starting “working on a plan.”

Yesterday: “Unexpected gas releases”

KING 5 News has learned there’s been a series of unexpected hydrogen gas releases from a tank holding radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Confidential sources say it began on March 16 and lasted for several days, much longer than usual, and they worry a single spark could have set off an explosive release of radioactivity.

The Anger Phase Of Humanity Is Coming

Parallels of the Fall of the Roman Empire and that of America Today

rome US

Today, the United States has many parallels as an empire to that of the collapse of the ancient Roman Empire. There were many causes of the fall of Rome however, but the main problems which led to it are exactly the same as those we face currently, here in America as a nation. The fall of the Roman Empire took a few centuries for the total dissolution of that government to take place. However, in America the same problems that brought down the Roman Empire are expedited to the point that we are looking at decades, rather than centuries before the collapse of the US government. The following are examples of what brought Rome down as an empire, and what is going to destroy the American government in a very short time. Continue reading

Tax Bicyclists For Exhaling CO2 When They Ride, Says Wash. Rep

(KGW.com) Taxing the air we breathe may be coming to Washington state.  Yes, the insane taxing of every behavior is rising to a whole new level with the proposed “bike tax” in Washington.

According to lawmakers who proposed the bike tax, it would help raise $1 million over the next decade to be used for road maintenance. The new $25 tax will be applied on every bike sold for over $500 in the state.

One Washington lawmaker is making twisted argument in support of the new fee. Rep. Ed Orcutt wrote in an email to a bike shop that the CO2 that bicyclists exhale while riding is just one of the reasons he supports the bike tax.

“Since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride,” Orcutt wrote. Therefore, they should pay taxes to help the environment as well as the roads.

Here is his full email:

 

U.S. sicker than rest of developed world—nutrition industry speaks out


(New Hope 360) A new report released last month found that Americans are unhealthier than 16 other developed countries.

The report, which was compiled by the National Research Council and the Institutes of Medicine, found that, despite the fact that Americans spend the most money per year on healthcare, we’re not healthier or living longer than other countries.

Several factors contribute to U.S. debility, such as a large uninsured population, high consumption of calories, high drug abuse, less use of seatbelts, high levels of poverty, high reliance on cars and low physical activity. No single factor explains the overall status of American health.

Of the health areas studied, Americans ranked worse than other countries in nine categories, including, among others, drug abuse, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and lung disease.

The study found that U.S. men live the shortest lives of all 16 countries at 76 years, and U.S. women ranked second-to-last at just under 81 years. Americans are more likely to die younger because of illnesses like obesity and heart disease.

“I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the U.S. die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, chair of the panel and of the department of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, according to NBC News.

But there is a silver lining. Americans who live to the age of 75 are expected to live longer than those in the other countries. Not to mention people in the U.S. control blood pressure and cholesterol better and have a lower death rate from cancer.

Does industry have the answer?

The nutrition industry is concerned with the results of this study because of its implications for the world of consumer health and the industry’s interest in improving the well-being and health of the country.

Industry experts Mark LeDoux, chairman and CEO at Natural Alternative International, Inc.; Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition; and Robert Craven, CEO of FoodState, commented on the findings of this study.

LeDoux: It’s ‘sick care’ not ‘healthcare’

Mark LeDoux, chairman and CEO, Natural AlternativesInternational: The first obvious issue that arises from this report is that the “healthcare” system in America is a misnomer. We don’t provide healthcare, we provide sick care. Many of the commondiseases that lead to our mortality rates being high are directly linked to what we affectionately call “high-risk behaviors.”

If we look at food choices in the family from an early age, we see that convenience plays a role in generating unhealthy choices. Getting a frozen dinner and plopping oneself in front of the television while eating retards the development of proper social family time. When children go off to public school, they are often fed by institutional food service programs that are big on quantity, but not necessarily up on freshness or quality. It never ceases to amaze me that people will order 1,200 calories of fat laden foods at fast food restaurants, and then order a super sized diet soft drink, thinking that simply by ordering a diet beverage they are somehow redeeming the poor choices of food that accompany the beverage. Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare in America we have seen the enemy, and he looks an awful lot like us.

Supplements can and should play a vital role in securing appropriate nutrient densities in our tissues and organ systems, but failure to be mobile leads to a whole set of other negative consequences. Gluttony leads to obesity, and that condition takes a toll on overall health—putting undue burdens on the ‘sick care’ system in America to hopefully alleviate the symptoms of self-wrought misery. It would seem self-evident that Americans may be the most overfed and undernourished people in the developed world.

Mister: We can deliberately defy unhealthy culture

Steve Mister, president and CEO, Council for Responsible Nutrition: This report is certainly troubling. At the same time, maybe it illuminates some opportunities for potential growth in the U.S. supplement marketplace. As the researchers noted, it’s not any one factor, but rather a whole collection of health-related behaviors that contributes to the U.S.’s health score.

As individuals we all need to be more conscious of the small daily behaviors that collectively contribute to a longer, more healthy life—everything from easing up on the accelerator, to taking a daily jog, to passing on the second piece of chocolate cake. When we think about health as a constellation of lifestyle choices rather than “I need to lower my cholesterol orI need to lose weight,” we can start to understand how all these things work together. Our bodies are not a collection of unconnected parts, they are integrated holistic systems all working together. So what we eat, the supplements we take, the exercise we get, all impact our entire bodies and life outlook—not just our blood pressure, or just our mood or just our alertness, but everything. Supplements are just one of those behaviors, but because they are easily incorporated into a daily regimen, they can be a daily reminder to do other healthy things too.

Daily supplement regimens have direct effects on health, but just the act of taking a supplement can also serve as a reminder to engage in other healthy behaviors. It gives us a feeling of autonomy and empowerment over our health which in turns makes us more conscious of our health and more invested in protecting it. Marketers ofsupplements could move the needle toward a healthier U.S. if they rebrand the routine of taking supplements as a brave, deliberate act of defying the unhealthy culture around us.

Craven: Let’s lead by example

Robert Craven, CEO, Food State (MegaFood): Like Mark, I am convinced that new legislation will do very little – although I was in favor of the super-size soft drink ban in NYC. I got into a Facebook fight on this one as some of my friends started saying that this was taking away “freedom” and “liberty” and I made the point that if your liberty and freedom starts costing me money it ceases to be your freedom. But I digress.

I believe our industry has a real opportunity to take a leadership position here—not from a legislative perspective, but from one that is much more aspirational. What if our industry was the healthiest industry in the nation? What if we could prove it? What if our industry did more for turning around disease directly—meaning we had more of an impact than any doctor or legislator or health insurer ever could? What if we could prove we were healthier with real data? I think this would do more for our positive stature in the world than anything else we could ever do. It’s walking all the talk.

What if the leaders in our industry got together and did nothing else but decide that all of our employees would be healthy? Has anyone ever taken a count of how many people that would represent (employees of natural and supplement companies and their families)? Has to be in the millions…

If we did nothing else but decide that we (our industry) were going to set an example by being healthy, that as CEOs we were going to lead the charge and set the example—being healthy ourselves; creating systems and support that truly promoted health within our own companies; leading the conversation with other CEOs in our communities; ringing the bell for wellness right where we live—wouldn’t this one act, if we had enough great companies on board and bought into the vision, do more for solving the U.S. health crisis than any other act? Especially given that our employees and customers are the most willing participants.

I can’t think of any other answer. In the end, there may not be enough of us out there to ultimately solve the problem—regardless, as for me and my company, we are going to try.

Uncovered, the ‘toxic’ gene hiding in GM crops: Revelation throws new doubt over safety of foods

(dailymail.co.uk) A virus gene that could be poisonous to humans has been missed when GM food crops have been assessed for safety.

GM crops such as corn and soya, which are being grown around the world for both human and farm animal consumption, include the gene.

A new study by the EU’s official food watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has revealed that the international approval process for GM crops failed to identify the gene.

A new study conducted by the EU has shown that standard test for GM foods may be missing a potentially poisonous gene for humans A new study conducted by the EU has shown that standard tests for GM foods may be missing a potentially poisonous gene for humans

As a result, watchdogs have not investigated its impact on human health and the plants themselves when assessing whether they were safe.

The findings are particularly powerful because the work was carried out by independent experts, rather than GM critics.

It was led by Nancy Podevin, who was employed by EFSA, and Patrick du Jardin, of the Plant Biology Unit at the University of Liege in Belgium.

They discovered that 54 of the 86 GM plants approved for commercial growing and food in the US, including corn and soya, contain the viral gene, which is known as ‘Gene VI’.

In this country, these crops are typically fed to farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs.

Significantly, the EFSA researchers concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI ‘might result in unintended phenotypic changes’.

Such changes include the creation of proteins that are toxic to humans. They could also trigger changes in the plants themselves, making them more vulnerable to pests.

Critics say the revelations make clear that the GM approvals process, which has been in place for 20 years, is fatally flawed.

They argue the only correct response is to recall all of the crops and food products involved. Director of the campaigning group, GM Freeze, Pete Riley, said the discovery of the gene, ‘totally undermines claims that GM technology is safe, precise and predictable’.

He said: ‘This is a clear warning the GM is not sufficiently understood to be considered safe.’Authorisation for these crops must be suspended immediately, and they should be withdrawn from sale, until a full and extended review of their safety has been carried out.’

Typically, GM crops are modified in the laboratory to give them resistance to being sprayed with powerful weed killers such as Monsanto’s Round-up.

This means that, in theory, fields can be doused with the chemical, so wiping out the weeds and allowing the food plants to thrive.

It was previously assumed that virus genes are not present in plants once they are grown in the field and reach consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the caseIt was previously assumed that virus genes are not present in plants once they are grown in the field and reach consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the case

The modification process involves inserting genes into the plants using a technique that allows them to piggyback on viruses that are commonly found in the soil and plants.

It has been assumed that virus genes are not present in the plant once it is grown in the field and reaches consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the case.

A review of the EFSA research in Independent Science News said the presence of the viral gene appears to have been missed by biotech companies, universities and government regulators.

‘This situation represents a complete and catastrophic system failure,’ it said. ‘There are clear indications that this viral gene might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.

‘A reasonable concern is that the protein produced by Gene VI might be a human toxin. This is a question that can only be answered by future experiments.’

Biotech supporters argue that there is no evidence from countries such as the USA that eating GM food causes any harm.

However, the reality is that no health monitoring has taken place to establish this. The findings will embarrass the government and the food and farming Secretary, Owen Patterson, who has embarked on a pro-GM propaganda exercise designed to win over sceptical consumers.

Mr Patterson recently rejected public concerns as ‘humbug’ and ‘complete nonsense’. Policy director at the Soil Association, Peter Melchett said: ‘For years, GM companies have made a deliberate and chilling effort to stop independent scientists from looking at their products.

‘This is what happens when there is a complete absence of independent scrutiny of their GM crops.’Biotech firms are represented by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council(ABC).

Its chairman, Dr Julian Little, said the EFSA study was one small part of a strict and complex scrutiny process.

He said: ‘Over the past 25 years, the European Commission has funded more than 130 research projects involving 500 independent research groups which have found no higher risks to the environment or food chain from GM crops than from conventional plants and organisms.

‘Furthermore, nearly three trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been eaten without a single substantiated case of ill-health. The combination of these two facts can give consumers a huge amount of confidence in the safety of GM crops.’

GM critics and EFSA are at odds over the implications of the research paper, which was written by the deputy chairman of the organisation’s advisory panel on the issue and a former senior member of staff.

EFSA insists that the research highlighting the presence of Gene VI does not represent a new discovery of a viral gene and does not indicate a safety concern about GM crops already approved.

It said the viral gene ‘cannot infect animals or humans and therefore presents no threat to human or animal health’. This is challenged by GM critics who say there is no research evidence to justify this statement.

Be a Proud Conspiracy Theorist, You’re in the Majority

(Activist Post) It seems that the establishment media has intensified their attack on “conspiracy theorists”.  It’s long been their feeble attempt to discredit anyone who dares question the “official” narrative of events.  But why the sudden deluge of attacks?

First, what does conspiracy theory even mean?

con·spir·a·cy – An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.

the·o·ry – A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena.

con·spir·a·cy the·o·ry – The belief that the government or a covert organization is responsible for an event that is unusual or unexplained. In short, a conspiracy theorist seeks the full facts about covert subversive acts, and unusual or unexplained events. Put another way, when the story of an event doesn’t add up, theories arise to explain what really happened.

Given the abominable track record of the establishment media, it’s become more common to question everything we hear rather than blindly swallowing their script.

As the initial reporting of the Sandy Hook school massacre was so scattered, and policymakers immediately seized the crisis to promote a long desired agenda of strict gun control, it’s no wonder that some have questioned the authenticity of the “official” version of events.

What is the official version, anyway?  It’s changed a thousand times. They want us to believe a lone-wolf psycho used an assault rifle to kill 26 innocent children and teachers.

Never mind that it has come out that a “rifle” never entered the school and what they found in the trunk of Lanza’s car was actually a shotgun. Never mind how he got through the new $300,000 surveillance/security system while wearing a mask and armed to the teeth. Never mind the reports of multiple shooters and camouflage-clad strangers arrested in the woods. Don’t worry about the Emergency Response Team (ERT) that was simulating this exact same school shooter scenario on the same day in a nearby town. And, don’t ask why there’s a strange lack of injured survivors, credible witnesses, or anyone who even knew Adam Lanza. And, finally, how would gun control have prevented this event?

I must be an evil, heartless conspiracy theorist who pisses on the graves of those killed that day because I’d like answers to these questions. At least that’s what the establishment media wants you to believe about me and others who desire better explanations than what we’ve been given.

Media figures, particularly CIA intern Anderson Cooper of CNN, is using his bully pulpit to demonize anyone who questions the Sandy Hook event and lump them all into the most radical theory that says no one was murdered that day. The fact that he dedicated nearly an entire show to disputing a conspiracy theory, in and of itself is telling.

Meanwhile, AC was caught pulling a 360 on viewers by showing “active-shooter drill footage” from another school as if it was the breaking news feed of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

But,  as Cooper struggles to attract 200K viewers per night to his pulpit, an amateur video questioning the anomalies of Sandy Hook received an astonishing 10 million views in one week.

Therein lies the primary reason the establishment can no longer ignore conspiracy theorists, because they’re now the majority. According to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll a majority of Americans (63%) believe at least one political conspiracy theory.

Dan Cassino, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who helped conduct the poll said “People tend to believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire – so the more smoke they see, the more likely they are to believe that something is going on.”

Regarding 9/11, Cassino says; “It’s easy to discount conspiracy theories about 9/11, but this isn’t some fringe belief. Trutherism is alive and well in America, and is only going to get stronger as memories of the actual event fade.”

Another likely motivation for the recent attacks on conspiracy theorists is because a staggering majority no longer trusts the corporate media or the government. Recent polling showed record level (60%) of distrust for the media, and Congress is less popular than cockroaches with a dismal 9% favorable rating.

It’s clear that the dying corporate media wants their viewers to despise anyone who questions the official narrative of any “event that is unusual or unexplained” in a desperate attempt to keep viewers locked to their “trusted” news channel.

I, for one, am proud to question everything I hear in the so-called news. And the bigger they hype a story, the more I question it. As professor Cassino said, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Usually someone, or a group of someones, clearly benefits from a certain subversive act. As such, they seem to have much more of a motivation than some lone wolf who kills himself after committing unexplainable atrocities or some cave dweller claiming to hate our freedom.

Is this always the case? Of course not. But the more hype the establishment puts behind a questionable event, the more reason there is to find out cui bono — who benefits?

Below is a great video dissertation by James Corbett about conspiracies and the media response to them:

The Truth About Red Tide’s Manmade Causes and Health Effects

The Truth About Red Tide's Manmade Causes and Health Effects

(greenmedinfo.com) If you consult the websites of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the Mote Marine Laboratory, both considered authorities on marine environmental issues in the state of Florida, red tide outbreaks associated with Karenia brevis are “natural phenomena,” ‘beyond our ability to control,’ and explicitly not fed by nutrient pollution or causally linked to land-based, human activities.  And yet, longtime residents of the Florida Gulf coast (the author included) can tell you from first-hand experience that the blooms have been getting progressively worse, closer to shore, and persisting for a greater length of time, indicating that if it is an entirely natural cycle, it has undergone concerning changes of late.

The reality is that authorities who deny the involvement of land-based activities and algae blooms are conveniently ignoring the science, which is peer reviewed and published, that instructs us on what is feeding red tide near shore. Florida has only so many industries that sustain its fragile economy, many of which would have to enact substantial, and costly reforms in order to improve the environmental situation. The tourism and real estate industries also have a vested interest in minimizing and/or denying the extent of the problem, at least in the short term. The long term outlook, however, is dismal for these industries, who failing to act, would see the primary attractor for tourists or potential buyers of real estate — the Gulf of Mexico — transformed into a Petri dish. It is for this reason that the truth about red tide must gain a wider audience, and we hope, widespread acceptance.

How Red Tide Is Measured and Misleadingly Contextualized For the Public

Since late September last year, the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast has been under siege by laboratory-verified blooms [see Status Maps], growing to its present state of significant outbreaks of a million cells per liter or higher, and stretching all the way from Manatee County to the Florida Keys. This is one of the worst red tide outbreaks in recorded history.[i]

Karenia brevis levels are measured by state environmental authorities using the cells/liter scale as follows:

  • Not Present – Background (0-1000)
  • Very Low (>1,000 to 10,000)
  • Low (>10,000 to 100,000)
  • Medium (>100,000 – 1,000,000)
  • High (>1,000,000)

These figures, however, are quite misleading.  Using colloquial expressions such as “Very Low” to describe concentrations of Karenia brevis of 1,000 to 10,000 cells per liter does the public a disservice, as they are serious enough to lead to acute symptoms of respiratory irritation and shellfish harvesting closures.

So-called “Low” levels, or 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter, can cause fish kills.  Once you get to “Medium” and “High” red tide represents a serious health threat to exposed populations, keeping in mind that one does not have to be “at the beach” to be affected, as red tide brevetoxins are aerosolized (made airborne) via wave action, and can be carried on the wind many miles inshore.  In fact, at so-called “Low” levels >50,000 cells/liter the saturation of Karenia brevis is already significant enough that it can be detected by satellite.

At present, levels along the affected Southwest Florida Gulf Coast have reached “High” in several areas, including off the coast of Lee County where I am presently reporting from. I can speak directly from experience that this is a particularly noxious outbreak. For instance, I had a bronchial asthma attack for the first time in 20 years and have found myself, my family, and the local community I serve to be at greatly increased susceptibility to prolonged cold and flu bouts, over the past five months.

Another important consideration is that red tide sampling occurs primarily in surface water (80% surface sampling; 20% bottom sampling). The problem is that Karenia brevis blooms have been found to penetrate coastal waters along the bottom without surface expression until nearshore. This means that “negative” surface findings do not necessarily indicate the absence of a problem.

So, What Is The Real Cause of Prolonged, Near-To-Shore Red Tide Outbreaks?

So, back to the question: are these outbreaks entirely natural phenomena, as many health authorities, and certainly folks within the mainstream media, tourist and real estate industry, often maintain?

The answer is a resolute and resounding NO.  In April, 2009, the journal Aquatic Microbial Ecology published a groundbreaking study titled, “Grazing by Karenia brevis on Synechococcus enhances its growth rate and may help to sustain blooms,” which provided the missing link in how red tide is directly fed by human, land-based activities.  Here is the study abstract:

ABSTRACT: Grazing rates of Karenia brevis Clones CCMP2228 and CCMP2229 were determined in laboratory experiments using Synechococcus sp. Clone CCMP1768 as food. Grazing by K. brevis thus enhances the range of nutritional substrates available to meet its growth requirements, and may play a substantial role in sustaining natural populations in inorganic N-poor waters. With evidence that blooms of Synechococcus can be enhanced due to anthropogenic nutrients, the poten­tial importance of this particulate nutrient source for sustaining red tide blooms in situ is large and may help to resolve the current uncertainty as to how K. brevis blooms are maintained. It can now be hypothesized that as cyanobacterial blooms increase, so too does the potential forKarenia brevis growth to be enhanced and for blooms to be sus­tained through grazing, especially under the low light conditions associated with bloom self-shading. Recog­nition of this pathway is at least one step toward recon­ciling the long-term reported increase in K. brevis blooms (e.g. Brand & Compton 2007) and the tendency for blooms of this species to develop offshore in seem­ingly oligotrophic waters (e.g. Vargo et al. 2004, 2008)

What this research essentially proves is that the runoff from land-based applications of urea nitrogen fertilizers such as commonly used in lawn care, as well as additional sources of nitrogen urea from septic tanks, sewage spills and close-to-water sewage treatment effluent, result in Synachoccus blooms, which is a harmless, green slime algae (have you noticed the green slime at your beach?). Karenia brevis (red tide) uses the green slime as an energy source. The more Synachoccus the more red tide; simple cause and effect.

At the root of the problem are nitrogen urea fertilizers, which are overused in Florida lawn care practices, as well as in Florida agriculture (more on this later). According to a Sierra Club report linking fertilizers to Red Tide blooms, residential fertilizer use in the state of Florida increased by 153,533.95 tons or 45% from 2003 to 2006 alone.[ii] One might ask the question to Floridians: is the “health” of your lawns (read: aesthetic appearance) more important than the health of the Gulf of Mexico (and by implication, your own health)?

Ironically, plants need primarily magnesium (for chlorophyll) and potassium, and not nearly as much nitrogen, which is presently being used at up to 5 times higher levels than required. In fact, excess nitrogen leads to plasmolysis in plants, causing excess water to leave the plant entering the soil, resulting in wilting. The excess nitrogen, of course, leaches into the soil and eventually a portion of its causes water pollution.

The obvious solution to the accelerating red tide problem is to reduce land-based applications of urea nitrogen, especially in the summer months. As the green slime is reduced, the red tide will have no additional energy source and will die out.

How Red Tide Adversely Affects Human Health

In order to understand how red tide affects human health, one must first understand brevetoxins, the primary “poisons” produced by this organism.

There are at least 9, and as many as 14, brevetoxins divided into two classes: Brevetoxin A and Brevetoxin B, with 3 subtypes characterized among Brevetoxin A and 4 subtypes among Brevetoxin B.

Brevetoxins are extremely toxic.  The brevetoxin B subtype, PB-TX2, for instance, has an oral LD50 (the acutely lethal dose that kills 50% of the test group) equivalent to cyanide (6 mg/kg) at 6.6 mg/kg in the 24 mouse model of acute exposure. No one truly knows the extent of the synergistic toxicity associated with exposure to all 9-14 brevetoxins simultaneously, which is what may occur in real-world exposure, because it has not (to my knowledge) been researched.

Brevetoxins are known primarily as a neurotoxic. They bind to voltage-gated sodium channels in nerve cells, leading to disruption of nerve transmission and in some cases nerve cell death.  Animal research indicates that as little as 2 days of subacute exposure to the Brevetoxin B, PbTx-3, is sufficient to induce neuronal degeneration in a discrete reason of the mouse cerebral cortex.[iii]

In humans, a condition known as Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) caused by the consumption of shellfish contaminated by brevetoxins has been identified. Symptoms include vomiting and nausea and a variety of neurological symptoms such as slurred speech.[iv] Of course, lower concentrations, especially in more susceptible populations already suffering from neurological issues, likely contribute to these symptoms, as well as headache, myalgias (muscle soreness), and related aches and pains that would be hard to attribute to such an invisible toxin, whose health threat is generally downplayed by the media and medical establishment.

Neurotoxicity, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. A 2004 study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that the immune system, and not the nervous system, is the primary target of brevetoxins.[v] Animals exposed to brevetoxin saw a more than 70% suppression of humoral immunity.  A 2005 study confirmed this finding.[vi]

Then, in 2011, it was found that brevetoxin A inhalation worsens the pulmonary response to influenza A in the male rat. [vii] The study authors concluded: “These results suggest that repeated inhalation exposure to brevetoxin may delay virus particle clearance and recovery from influenza A infection in the rat lung.”

This finding indicates that Red Tide blooms may therefore worsen the seasonal flu epidemics that commonly afflict the Southwest Florida, especially when the bloom persists into the fall and winter months, as is the present case.

It is already well known that hospital verified cases of respiratory issues can increase by over 50% during sustained Red Tide outbreaks.[viii]

Considering that much of the mortality associated with influenza infection is associated with pneumonia complications, reducing Red Tide outbreaks via fertilizer use reductions should be considered a top priority by health authorities.

But the adverse health effects do not end with neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity, as serious gastrointestinal complaints may also follow from Red Tide exposure.  A 2010 study examined whether the presence of a Florida red tide bloom affected the rates of admission for a gastrointestinal diagnosis to a hospital emergency room in Sarasota, FL.[ix]  According to the study:

The rates of gastrointestinal diagnoses admissions were compared for a 3-month time period in 2001 when Florida red tide bloom was present onshore to the same 3-month period in 2002 when no Florida red tide bloom occurred. A significant 40% increase in the total number of gastrointestinal emergency room admissions for the Florida red tide bloom period was found compared to the non red tide period.

We can therefore add gastrointestinal issues to the growing list of Red Tide associated health issues. Other potential health effects that have been noted in the biomedical literature include:

So What Can Be Done?

1) REDUCE EXPOSURE: First, if you live in South Florida, remember to monitor your area’s levels by visiting the Status Maps. Please keep in mind that proximity is not the only factor in exposure, due to the well known aerosolization of these toxins and the inability of surface water testing to fully reveal its presence.

Next, visit the site WindMaps.com, to see if the winds are moving inshore, or going offshore. This simple step may enable you to reduce exposure, by reducing time outside, and certainly keeping off the beach, on days that aerosolized Red Tide brevetoxins may be moving inshore. Also, consider that if you are driving, keep the air circulating within the cabin. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do if your AC unit is continually pulling air from outside inside your home, but you could reduce your AC usage on these days. Eating cooling foods, and wear lighter clothing, for instance.

2) REDUCE TOXIC EFFECTS: The primary mechanism through which brevetoxins cause respiratory harm is through IgE-independent mast cell activation.[x] Mast cells are immune cells which if over-activated can produce a wide range of potentially harmful substances, such as:

  • Histamine (inflammatory)
  • Thromboxane (vasoconstrictive)
  • Prostaglandin D2 (brochoconstrive)
  • Leukotriene C4 (bronchoconstrictive)

Keeping this in mind, preventing mast-cell degranulation with safe, non-drug alternatives such as nettle’s extract may be an ideal approach to the problem. Several companies provide extracts which concentrate the compounds within nettle’s that inhibit mast cell degranulation, e.g. New Chapter’s Histamine Take Care, V!ah‘s “Allerblock.”  While we do not endorse any product, as this runs counter to our mission statement (you will see no ads on GreenMedInfo.com for any dietary supplement) we feel compelled to inform our readers that alternatives to antihistamine drugs like Benadryl do exist. Also, please remember to do your own research in tandem with consulting a licensed health care practitioner before embarking on a path of self-care. Other potential histamine-blocking compounds that have been researched can be found on our histamine antagonist page: Histamine Antagonist

3) CONTRIBUTE TO THE LONG TERM SOLUTION: The long-term solution is to reduce the use of nitrogen urea fertilizers in both lawn and agricultural applications. There is no question that nitrogen urea rich agricultural runoff, primarily from the sugarcane and citrus industries, are sizable contributors to the overall nitrogen burden in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of Big Sugar’s agricultural runoff ends up in Lake Okeechobee, which eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

A 2006 study published in the journal Biogeochemistry titled, “Escalating worldwide use of urea – a global change contributing to coastal eutrophication,” indicates worldwide use of urea as a nitrogen fertilizer and feed additive has increased more than 100-fold in the past 4 decades. The study pointed out:

Long thought to be retained in soils, new data are suggestive of significant overland transport of urea to sensitive coastal waters. Urea concentrations in coastal and estuarine waters can be substantially elevated and can represent a large fraction of the total dissolved organic nitrogen pool. Urea is used as a nitrogen substrate by many coastal phytoplankton and is increasingly found to be important in the nitrogenous nutrition of some harmful algal bloom (HAB) species.

They also noted that “the global increase from 1970 to 2000 in documented incidences of paralytic shellfish poisoning, caused by several HAB species, is similar to the global increase in urea use over the same 3 decades.”

The reality is that these agricultural practices have been a long time in the making, and will take considerable time, energy and political clout to change. The good news is that you can make changes at the local level, from the bottom up, as it were, by starting with your own lawn. You can also organize at a county level to enact ordinances that restrict fertilizer use, as Ed Rosenthal, founder of the non-profit organization Advocate the Precautionary Principle, has done with great success in Sarasota county. These results are encouraging, and indicate that we can build a grassroots movement with an end goal to enact stricter regulations at the state level.


Resources

 

Seventy Years of Nuclear Fission, Thousands of Centuries of Nuclear Waste

(Truth-Out.org) On December 2, 1942, a small group of physicists under the direction of Enrico Fermi gathered on an old squash court beneath Alonzo Stagg Stadium on the Campus of the University of Chicago to make and witness history. Uranium pellets and graphite blocks had been stacked around cadmium-coated rods as part of an experiment crucial to the Manhattan Project – the program tasked with building an atom bomb for the allied forces in World War II. The experiment was successful, and for 28 minutes, the scientists and dignitaries present witnessed the world’s first manmade, self-sustaining nuclear fission reaction. They called it an atomic pile – Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1), to be exact- but what Fermi and his team had actually done was build the world’s first nuclear reactor.

The Manhattan Project’s goal was a bomb, but soon after the end of the war, scientists, politicians, the military and private industry looked for ways to harness the power of the atom for civilian use, or, perhaps more to the point, for commercial profit. Fifteen years to the day after CP-1 achieved criticality, President Dwight Eisenhower threw a ceremonial switch to start the reactor at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, which was billed as the first full-scale nuclear power plant built expressly for civilian electrical generation.

Shippingport was, in reality, little more than a submarine engine on blocks, but the nuclear industry and its acolytes will say that it was the beginning of billions of kilowatts of power, promoted (without a hint of irony) as “clean, safe and too cheap to meter.” It was also, however, the beginning of what is now a weightier legacy: 72,000 tons of nuclear waste.

Atoms for Peace, Problems Forever

News of Fermi’s initial success was communicated by physicist Arthur Compton to the head of the National Defense Research Committee, James Conant, with artistically coded flair:

Compton: The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.

Conant: How were the natives?

Compton: Very friendly.

But soon after that initial success, CP-1 was disassembled and reassembled a short drive away, in Red Gate Woods. The optimism of the physicists notwithstanding, it was thought best to continue the experiments with better radiation shielding – and slightly removed from the center of a heavily populated campus. The move was perhaps the first necessitated by the uneasy relationship between fissile material and the health and safety of those around it, but if it was understood as a broader cautionary tale, no one let that get in the way of “progress.”

By the time the Shippingport reactor went critical, North America already had a nuclear waste problem. The detritus from manufacturing atomic weapons was poisoning surrounding communities at several sites around the continent (not that most civilians knew it at the time). Meltdowns at Chalk River in Canada and the Experimental Breeder Reactor in Idaho had required fevered cleanups, the former of which included the help of a young Navy officer named Jimmy Carter. And the dangers of errant radioisotopes were increasing with the acceleration of above-ground atomic weapons testing. But as President Eisenhower extolled “Atoms for Peace,” and the US Atomic Energy Commission promoted civilian nuclear power at home and abroad, a plan to deal with the spent fuel (as used nuclear fuel rods are termed) and other highly radioactive leftovers was not part of the program (beyond, of course, extracting some of the plutonium produced by the fission reaction for bomb production, and the promise that the waste generated by US-built reactors overseas could at some point be marked “return to sender” and repatriated to the United States for disposal).

Attempts at what was called reprocessing – the re-refining of used uranium into new reactor fuel – quickly proved expensive, inefficient and dangerous, and created as much radioactive waste as they hoped to reuse. Reprocessing also provided an obvious avenue for nuclear weapons proliferation because of the resulting production of plutonium. The threat of proliferation (made flesh by India’s test of an atomic bomb in 1976) led President Jimmy Carter to cancel the US reprocessing program in 1977. Attempts by the Department of Energy (DOE) to push mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication (combining uranium and plutonium) over the last dozen years has not produced any results, either, despite over $5 billion in government investments.

In fact, there was no official federal policy for the management of used but still highly radioactive nuclear fuel until passage of The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982(NWPA). And while that law acknowledged the problem of thousands of tons of spent fuel accumulating at US nuclear plants, it didn’t exactly solve it. Instead, the NWPA started a generation of political horse-trading, with goals and standards defined more by market exigencies than by science, that leaves America today with what amounts to over five dozen nominally temporary repositories for high-level radioactive waste – and no defined plan to change that situation anytime soon.

Lack of Permanent Spent Fuel Storage Looms Large

When a US Court of Appeals ruled in June that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) acted improperly when it failed to consider all the risks of storing spent radioactive fuel onsite at the nation’s nuclear power facilities, it made specific reference to the lack of any real answers to the generations-old question of waste storage:

[The Nuclear Regulatory Commission] apparently has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository…. If the government continues to fail in its quest to establish one, then SNF (spent nuclear fuel) will seemingly be stored on site at nuclear plants on a permanent basis. The Commission can and must assess the potential environmental effects of such a failure.

The court concluded the current situation – in which spent fuel is stored across the country in what were supposed to be temporary configurations-“poses a dangerous long-term health and environmental risk.”

The decision also harshly criticized regulators for evaluating plant relicensing with the assumption that spent nuclear fuel would be moved to a central long-term waste repository.

A Mountain of Risks

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act set in motion an elaborate process that was supposed to give the US a number of possible waste sites, but, in the end, the only option seriously explored was the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. After years of preliminary construction and tens of millions of dollars spent, Yucca was determined to be a bad choice for the waste. As I wrote in April of last year: “[Yucca Mountain’s] volcanic formation is more porous and less isolated than originally believed – there is evidence that water can seep in, there are seismic concerns, worries about the possibility of new volcanic activity, and a disturbing proximity to underground aquifers. In addition, Yucca mountain has deep spiritual significance for the Shoshone and Paiute peoples.”

Every major Nevada politician on both sides of the aisle has opposed the Yucca repository since its inception. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has worked most of his political life to block the facility. And with the previous NRC head, Gregory Jaczko, (and now his replacement, Allison Macfarlane, as well) recommending against it, the Obama administration’s DOE moved to end the project.

Even if it were an active option, Yucca Mountain would still be many years and maybe as much as $100 million away from completion. And yet, the nuclear industry (through recipients of its largesse in Congress) has challenged the administration to spend any remaining money in a desperate attempt to keep alive the fantasy of a solution to their waste crisis.

Such fevered dreams, however, do not qualify as an actual plan, according to the courts.

The judges also chastised the NRC for its generic assessment of spent fuel pools, currently packed well beyond their projected capacity at nuclear plants across the United States. Rather than examine each facility and the potential risks specific to its particular storage situation, the NRC had only evaluated the safety risks of onsite storage by looking at a composite of past events. The court ruled that the NRC must appraise each plant individually and account for potential future dangers. Those dangers include leaks, loss of coolant, and failures in the cooling systems, any of which might result in contamination of surrounding areas, overheating and melting of stored rods, and the potential of burning radioactive fuel – risks heightened by the large amounts of fuel now densely packed in the storage pools and underscored by the ongoing disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Indeed, plants were neither designed nor built to house nuclear waste long-term. The design life of most reactors in the United States was originally 40 years. Discussions of the spent fuel pools usually gave them a 60-year lifespan. That limit seemed to double almost magically as nuclear operators fought to postpone the expense of moving cooler fuel to dry casks and of the final decommissioning of retired reactors.

Everyone Out of the Pool

As disasters as far afield as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and last October’s Hurricane Sandy have demonstrated, the storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools requires steady supplies of power and cool water. Any problem that prevents the active circulation of liquid through the spent fuel pools – be it a loss of electricity, the failure of a back-up pump, the clogging of a valve or a leak in the system – means the temperature in the pools will start to rise. If the cooling circuit is out long enough, the water in the pools will start to boil. If the water level dips (due to boiling or a leak) enough to expose hot fuel rods to the air, the metal cladding on the rods will start to burn, in turn heating the fuel even more, resulting in plumes of smoke carrying radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere.

And because these spent fuel pools are so full – containing as much as five times more fuel than they were originally designed to hold, and at densities that come close to those in reactor cores – they both heat stagnant water more quickly and reach volatile temperatures faster when exposed to air.

After spent uranium has been in a pool for at least five years (considerably longer than most fuel is productive as an energy source inside the reactor), fuel rods are deemed cool enough to be moved to dry casks. Dry casks are sealed steel cylinders filled with spent fuel and inert gas, which are themselves encased in another layer of steel and concrete. These massive fuel “coffins” are then placed outside and spaced on concrete pads so that air can circulate and continue to disperse heat.

While the long-term safety of dry casks is still in question, the fact that they require no active cooling system gives them an advantage, in the eyes of many experts, over pool storage. As if to highlight that difference, spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi have posed some of the greatest challenges since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, whereas, to date, no quake or flood-related problems have been reported with any of Japan’s dry casks. The disparity was so obvious that the NRC’s own staff review actually added a proposal to the post-Fukushima taskforce report, recommending that US plants take more fuel out of spent fuel pools and move it to dry casks. (A year and a half later, however, there is still no regulation – or even a draft – requiring such a move.)

But current dry cask storage poses its own set of problems. Moving fuel rods from pools to casks is slow and costly – about $1.5 million per cask, or roughly $7 billion to move all of the nation’s spent fuel (a process, it is estimated, that would take no less than five to ten years). That is expensive enough to have many nuclear plant operators lobbying overtime to avoid doing it.

Further, though not as seemingly vulnerable as fuel pools, dry casks are not impervious to natural disaster. In 2011, a moderate earthquake centered about 20 miles from the North Anna, Virginia, nuclear plant caused most of its vertical dry casks – each weighing 115 tons – to shift, some by more than four inches. The facility’s horizontal casks didn’t move, but some showed what was termed “cosmetic damage.”

Dry casks at Michigan’s Palisades plant sit on a pad atop a sand dune just 100 yards from Lake Michigan. An earthquake there could plunge the casks into the water. And the casks at Palisades are so poorly designed and maintained, submersion could result in water contacting the fuel, contaminating the lake and possibly triggering a nuclear chain reaction.

And though each cask contains far less fissile material than one spent fuel pool, casks are still considered possible targets for terrorism. A TOW anti-tank missile would breach even the best dry cask [PDF], and with 25 percent of the nation’s spent fuel now stored in hundreds of casks across the country, all above ground, it provides a rich target environment.

Confidence Game

Two months after the Appeals Court found fault with the NRC’s imaginary waste mitigation scenario, the agency announced it would suspend the issuing of new reactor operating licenses, license renewals and construction licenses until the agency could craft a new plan for dealing with the nation’s growing spent nuclear fuel crisis. In drafting its new nuclear “Waste Confidence Decision” (NWCD) – the methodology used to assess the hazards of nuclear waste storage – the Commission said it would evaluate all possible options for resolving the issue.

At first, the NRC said this could include both generic and site-specific actions (remember, the court criticized the NRC’s generic appraisals of pool safety), but as the prescribed process now progresses, it appears any new rule will be designed to give the agency, and so, the industry, as much wiggle room as possible. At a public hearing in November 2012, and later at a pair of web conferences in early December, the regulator’s Waste Confidence Directorate (yes, that’s what it is called) outlined three scenarios [PDF] for any future rulemaking:

  • Storage until a repository becomes available at the middle of the century
  • Storage until a repository becomes available at the end of the century
  • Continued storage in the event a repository is not available.

And while, given the current state of affairs, the first option seems optimistic, the fact that their best scenario now projects a repository to be ready by about 2050 is a story in itself.

When the NWPA was signed into law by President Reagan early in 1983, it was expected the process it set in motion would present at least one (and preferably another) long-term repository by the late 1990s. But by the time the “Screw Nevada Bill” (as it is affectionately known in the Silver State) locked in Yucca Mountain as the only option for permanent nuclear waste storage, the projected opening was pushed back to 2007.

But Yucca encountered problems from its earliest days, so a mid-90s revision of the timeline postponed the official start, this time to 2010. By 2006, the DOE was pegging Yucca’s opening at 2017. And, when the NWPA was again revised in 2010 – after Yucca was deemed a non-option – it conveniently avoided setting a date for the opening of a national long-term waste repository altogether.

It was that 2010 revision that was thrown out by the courts in June.

“Interim Storage” and “Likely Reactors”

So, the waste panel now has three scenarios – but what are the underlying assumptions for those scenarios? Not, obviously, any particular site for a centralized, permanent home for the nation’s nuclear garbage – no new site has been chosen, and it can’t even be said there is an active process at work that will choose one.

There are the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) convened by the president after Yucca Mountain was off the table. Most notable there was arecommendation for interim waste storage, consolidated at a handful of locations across the country. But consolidated intermediate waste storage has its own difficulties, not the least of which is that no sites have yet been chosen for any such endeavor. (In fact, plans for the Skull Valley repository, thought to be the interim facility closest to approval, were abandoned by its sponsors just days before Christmas 2012.)

Just-retired Democratic senator from New Mexico Jeff Bingaman, the last chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, tried to turn the BRC recommendations into law. When he introduced his bill in August, however, he had to do so without any cosponsors. Hearings on the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2012 were held in September, but the gavel came down on the 112th Congress without any further action.

In spite of the underdeveloped state of intermediate storage, however, when the waste confidence panel was questioned on the possibility, interim waste repositories seemed to emerge, almost on the fly, as an integral part of any revised waste policy rule.

“Will any of your scenarios include interim centralized above-ground storage?” we asked during the last public session. Paul Michalak, who heads the environmental impact statement branch of the Waste Confidence Directorate, first said temporary sites would be considered in the second and third options. Then, after a short pause,Mr. Michalak added [PDF, p40], “First one, too. All right. Right. That’s right. So we’re considering an interim consolidated storage facility [in] all three scenarios.”

The lack of certainty on any site or sites is, however, not the only fuzzy part of the picture. As mentioned earlier, the amount of high-level radioactive waste currently on hand in the United States and in need of a final resting place is upwards of 70,000 tons – already at the amount that was set as the initial top limit for the Yucca Mountain repository. Given that there are still over 100 domestic commercial nuclear reactors more or less in operation, producing something like an additional 2,000 tons of spent fuel every year, what happens to the Waste Confidence Directorate’s scenarios as the years and waste pile up? How much waste were regulators projecting they would have to deal with? How much spent fuel would a waste confidence decision assume the system could confidently handle?

There was initial confusion on what amount of waste – and at what point in time – was informing the process. Pressed for clarification on the last day of hearings, NRC officials finally posited that it was assumed there would be 150,000 metric tons of spent fuel – all deriving from the commercial reactor fleet – by 2050. By the end of the century, the NRC expects to face a mountain of waste weighing 270,000 metric tons [PDF, pp38-41] (though this figure was perplexingly termed both a “conservative number” and an “overestimate”).

How did the panel arrive at these numbers? Were they assuming all 104 (soon to be 103 – Wisconsin’s Kewaunee Power Station will shut down by mid-2013 for reasons its owner, Dominion Resources, says are based “purely on economics”) commercial reactors nominally in operation would continue to function for that entire timeframe – even though many are nearing the end of their design life and none are licensed to continue operation beyond the 2030s? Were they counting reactors like those at San Onofre, which have been offline for almost a year and are not expected to restart anytime soon? Or the troubled reactors at Ft. Calhoun in Nebraska and Florida’s Crystal River? Neither facility has been functional in recent years, and both have many hurdles to overcome if they are ever to produce power again. Were they factoring in the projected AP1000 reactors in the early stages of construction in Georgia, or the ones slated for South Carolina? Did the NRC expect more or fewer reactors generating waste over the course of the next 88 years?

The response: waste estimates include all existing facilities, plus “likely reactors” – but the NRC cannot say exactly how many reactors that is [PDF, p. 41].

Jamming It Through

Answers like those from the Waste Confidence Directorate do not inspire (pardon the expression) confidence for a country looking at a mountain of eternally toxic waste. Just what would the waste confidence decision (and the environmental impact survey that should result from it) actually cover? What would it mandate, and what would change as a result?

In past relicensing hearings – where the public could comment on proposed license extensions on plants already reaching the end of their 40-year design life – objections based on the mounting waste problem and already packed spent fuel pools were waved off by the NRC, which referenced the waste confidence decision as the basis of its rationale. Yet, when discussing the parameters of the process for the latest, court-ordered revision to the NWCD, Dr. Keith McConnell, director of the Waste Confidence Directorate, asserted that waste confidence was not connected to the site-specific licensed life of operations [PDF, p. 42], but only to a period defined as “post-licensed life storage” (which appears, if a chart in the directorate’s presentation [PDF, p. 12] is to be taken literally, to extend from 60 years after the initial creation of waste, to 120 years – at which point a phase labeled “disposal” begins). Issues of spent fuel pool and dry cask safety are the concerns of a specific plant’s relicensing process, said regulators in the latest hearings.

“It’s like dealing with the Mad Hatter,” commented Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist for industry watchdog Beyond Nuclear. “Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today.”

The edict originated with the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, but it is all too appropriate – and no less maddening – when trying to motivate meaningful change at the NRC. The NRC has used the nuclear waste confidence decision in licensing inquiries, but in these latest scoping hearings, we are told the NWCD does not apply to on-site waste storage. The appeals court criticized the lack of site-specificity in the waste storage rules, but the directorate says they are now only working on a generic guideline. The court disapproved of the NRC’s continued relicensing of nuclear facilities based on the assumption of a long-term geologic repository that in reality did not exist – and the NRC said it was suspending licensing pending a new rule – but now regulators say they don’t anticipate the denial or even the delay of any reactor license application while they await the new waste confidence decision [PDF, pp. 49-50].

In fact, the NRC has continued the review process on pending applications, even though there is now no working NWCD – something deemed essential by the courts – against which to evaluate new licenses.

The period for public comment on the scope of the waste confidence decision ended January 2, and no more scoping hearings are planned. There will be other periods for civic involvement – during the environmental impact survey and rulemaking phases – but with each step, the areas open to input diminish. And the current schedule has the entire process greatly accelerated over previous revisions.

On January 3, a coalition of 24 grassroots environmental groups filed documents with the NRC [PDF] protesting “the ‘hurry up’ two-year timeframe” for this assessment, noting the time allotted for environmental review falls far short of the 2019 estimate set by the NRC’s own technical staff. The coalition observed that two years was also not enough time to integrate post-Fukushima recommendations, and that the NRC was narrowing the scope of the decision – ignoring specific instructions from the appeals court – in order to accelerate the drafting of a new waste-storage rule.

Speed might seem a valuable asset if the NRC were shepherding a Manhattan Project-style push for a solution to the ever-growing waste problem – the one that began with the original Manhattan Project – but that is not what is at work here. Instead, the NRC, under court order, is trying to set the rules for determining the risk of all that high-level radioactive waste if there is no new, feasible solution. The NRC is looking for a way to permit the continued operation of the US nuclear fleet – and so, the continued manufacture of nuclear waste – without an answer to the bigger, pressing question.

A Plan Called HOSS

While there is much to debate about what a true permanent solution to the nuclear waste problem might look like, there is little question that the status quo is unacceptable. Spent fuel pools were never intended to be used as they are now used – re-racked and densely packed with over a generation of fuel assemblies. Both the short- and long-term safety and security of the pools has now been questioned by the courts and laid bare by reality. Pools at numerous US facilities have leaked radioactive waste [PDF] into rivers, groundwater and soil. Sudden “drain downs” of water used for cooling have come perilously close to triggering major accidents in plants very near to major population centers. Recent hurricanes have knocked out power to cooling systems and flooded backup generators, and last fall’s superstorm came within inches of overwhelming the coolant intake structure at Oyster Creek in New Jersey.

The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility was so dangerous, and remains dangerous to this day, in part because of the large amounts of spent fuel stored in pools next to the reactors but outside of containment – a design identical to 35 US nuclear reactors. A number of these GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors – such as Oyster Creek and Vermont Yankee – have more spent fuel packed into their individual pools than all the waste in Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2, 3, and 4 combined.

Dry casks, the obvious next “less-bad” option for high-level radioactive waste, were also not supposed to be a permanent panacea. The design requirements and manufacturing regulations of casks – especially the earliest generations – do not guarantee their reliability anywhere near the 100 to 300 years now being casually tossed around by NRC officials. Some of the nation’s older dry casks (which in this case means 15 to 25 years) have already shown seal failures and structural wear [PDF]. Yet the government does not require direct monitoring of casks for excessive heat or radioactive leaks – only periodic “walkthroughs.”

Add in the reluctance of plant operators to spend money on dry cask transfer and the lack of any workable plan to quickly remove radioactive fuel from failed casks, and dry cask storage also appears to fail to attain any court-ordered level of confidence.

Interim plans, such as regional consolidated above-ground storage, remain just that – plans. There are no sites selected and no designs for such a facility up for public scrutiny. What is readily apparent, though, is that the frequent transport of nuclear waste increases the risk of nuclear accidents. There does not, as of now, exist a transfer container that is wholly leak proof, accident proof and impervious to terrorist attack. Moving high-level radioactive waste across the nation’s highways, rail lines and waterways has raised fears of “Mobile Chernobyls” and “Floating Fukushimas.”

More troubling still, if past (and present) is prologue, is the tendency of options designed as “interim” to morph into a default “permanent.” Can the nation afford to kick the can once more, spending tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars on a “solution” that will only add a collection of new challenges to the existing roster of problems? What will the interim facilities become beyond the next problem, the next site for costly mountains of poorly stored, dangerous waste?

If there is an interim option favored by many nuclear experts, engineers and environmentalists [PDF], it is something called HOSS – Hardened On-Site Storage [PDF]. HOSS is a version of dry cask storage that is designed and manufactured to last longer, is better protected against leaks and better shielded from potential attacks. Proposals [PDF] involve steel, concrete and earthen barriers incorporating proper ventilation and direct monitoring for heat and radiation.

But not all reactor sites are good candidates for HOSS. Some are too close to rivers that regularly flood, some are vulnerable to the rising seas and increasingly severe storms brought on by climate change, and others are close to active geologic fault zones. For facilities where hardened on-site storage would be an option, nuclear operators will no doubt fight the requirements because of the increased costs above and beyond the price of standard dry cask storage, which most plant owners already try to avoid or delay.

The First Rule of Holes

In a wooded park just outside Chicago sits a dirt mound, near a bike path, which contains parts of the still-highly-radioactive remains of CP-1, the world’s first atomic pile. Seven decades after that nuclear fuel was first buried, many health experts would not recommend that spot [PDF] for a long, languorous picnic, nor would they recommend drinking from nearby water fountains. To look at it in terms Arthur Compton might favor, when it comes to the products of nuclear chain reactions, the natives are restless … and will remain so for millennia to come.

One can perhaps forgive those working in the pressure cooker of the Manhattan Project and in the middle of a world war for ignoring the forest for the trees – for not considering waste disposal while pursuing a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Perhaps. But, as the burial mound in Red Gate Woods reminds us, ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

And if that small pile or the mountains of spent fuel precariously stored around the nation are not enough of a prompt, the roughly $960 million that the federal government has had to pay private nuclear operators should be. For every year that the DOE does not provide a permanent waste repository – or at least some option that takes the burden of storing spent nuclear fuel off the hands (and off the books) of power companies – the government is obligated to reimburse the industry for the costs of onsite waste storage. By 2020, it is estimated that $11 billion in public money will have been transferred into the pockets of private nuclear companies. By law, these payments cannot be drawn from the ratepayer-fed fund that is earmarked for a permanent geologic repository, and so, these liabilities must be paid out of the federal budget. Legal fees for defending the DOE against these claims will add another 20 to 30 percent to settlement costs.

The Federal appeals court, too, has sent a clear message that the buck needs to stop somewhere at some point – and that such a time and place should be both explicit and realistic. The nuclear waste confidence scoping process, however, is already giving the impression that the NRC’s next move will be generic and improbable.

The late, great Texas journalist Molly Ivins once remarked, “The first rule of holes” is, “when you’re in one, stop digging.” For high-level radioactive waste, that hole is now a mountain, over 70 years in the making and over 70,000 tons high. If the history of the atomic age is not evidence enough, the implications of the waste confidence decision process put the current crisis in stark relief. There is, right now, no good option for dealing with the nuclear detritus currently on hand, and there is not even a plan to develop a good option in the near future. Without a way to safely store the mountain of waste already created, under what rationale can a responsible government permit the manufacture of so much more?

The federal government spends billions to perpetuate and protect the nuclear industry – and plans to spend billions more to expand the number of commercial reactors. Dozens of facilities are already past, or are fast approaching, the end of their design lives, but the NRC has yet to reject any request for an operating license extension – and it is poised to approve many more, nuclear waste confidence decision notwithstanding. Plant operators continue to balk at any additional regulations that would require better waste management.

The lesson of the first 70 years of fission is that we cannot endure more of the same. The government – from the DOE to the NRC – should reorient its priorities from creating more nuclear waste to safely and securely containing what is now here. Money slated for subsidizing current reactors and building new ones would be better spent on shuttering aging plants, designing better storage options for their waste, modernizing the electrical grid and developing sustainable energy alternatives. (And reducing demand through conservation programs should always be part of the conversation.)

Enrico Fermi might not have foreseen (or cared about) the mountain of waste that began with his first atomic pile, but current scientists, regulators and elected officials have the benefit of hindsight. If the first rule of holes says stop digging, then the dictum here should be that when you’re trying to summit a mountain, you don’t keep shoveling more garbage on top.

Russians take fresh samples from Antarctica’s hidden Lake Vostok

 Russian researchers say they have brought up fresh samples of clear ice from Antarctica’s Lake Vostok, a huge reservoir of freshwater more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) beneath the surface.

(NBCNews) Lake Vostok could contain water and perhaps living organisms that have been sitting undisturbed in the deep dark for up to 20 million years. The drilling operation also could set a precedent for far more ambitious efforts to find life beneath the ice of the Jovian moon Europa or the Saturnian moon Enceladus.

Because of the potential for contamination, scientists have been taking extreme care at Lake Vostok, which is situated 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) east of the South Pole. A year ago, the Russian drilling team reached the lake and brought up water samples. Some of the water was even served to Vladimir Putin, who was then Russia’s prime minister and is now the country’s president. But it wasn’t clear whether those samples were actually from the lake or from the glacier above the lake, the Russian news service RIA Novosti reported.

This year’s drilling operation is aimed at bringing up samples that can be linked more definitively to the lake itself.

“The first core of transparent lake ice, 2 meters long, was obtained on Jan. 10 at a depth of 3,406 meters,” Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute said in a statement. “Inside it was a vertical channel filled with white bubble-rich ice.”

The institute said that drilling operations would be extended another 24 meters with the existing cables, and that new cables were being delivered to the Vostok research station. The core samples were to be subjected to chemical and biological analysis.

Lake Vostok is about 160 miles (250 kilometers) long and 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide, making it the largest of Antarctica’s nearly 400 subglacial lakes. Last year’s drilling operation drew up samples from a depth of 12,366 feet (2.34 miles, or 3,769 meters). In October, Russian team members reported finding no native life within those samples. They said the only microbes they detected were traced to contaminants from the drilling oil.

The lake could serve as a laboratory for studying what Antarctica’s climate and ecosystem was like millions of years ago. It may contain creatures unlike any that exist today. And as ambitious as all that sounds, the Vostok operation is seen as a mere warmup for future sampling missions to Europa, Enceladus and perhaps other icy moons in the solar system.

Planetary scientists see ample evidence that liquid water exists on those worlds, miles beneath the icy surface, and astrobiologists have theorized that internal heat may provide enough energy for organisms living within those hidden oceans.

The Mayan 2012 Prophecy: The Orwellian “End of the World” Doomsday is “Made in America”

(GlobalResearch) The 2012 Mayan Prophecy has been readily distorted and misunderstood.

The End of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012 has nothing to do with the “End of the World”.

In fact, the Mayan calendar does not end on December 21st, 2012.

Rather December 21 marks the beginning of a new “Long Cycle” in the Mayan calendar system. (See Washington’s Blog, End of the World: Hear the 2012 Prophecy … Direct from the Mouths of the Mayan Priests, Global Research, December 13, 2012)

The End of the World concept is a falsehood and misinterpretation of Mayan thought. What is at stake is a renewal, the unfolding of a new era. For the Mayans, December 21, 2012  marks the beginning of a new long cycle (Ibid).

Meanwhile, “End of the World” stories and commentary are plastered on the news tabloids. While the Western media readily refutes the Mayan prophesy, the apocalypse narrative,        when repeated ad nauseam, serves as a distraction and distortion.

A Reuters-Ispos poll conducted last May confirms that 10% of the World’s population believe that: “The Mayan calendar, which some say ‘ends’ in 2012, marks the end of the world”.

Ironically, in sharp contrast to the Mayan prophesy of  “renewal,  the real World we live in at the outset of the 21st Century is marked by a formidable economic and social crisis which is impoverishing millions of people, literally destroying people’s lives.

In the figurative sense, we are in the midst of an unfolding “doomsday scenario” of a complex political, social and economic nature:  it’s man made, it’s “Made in America”; it is the consequence of the fracture of the judicial system, the evolving Homeland Security apparatus, the fraudulent deregulation of financial markets, the mismanagement of the real economy.

These fundamental shifts in America’s institutional and social fabric are coupled with a far-reaching global military agenda and a self-serving US foreign policy.

The latter under the helm of Secretary Hillary Clinton points towards potential a breakdown of  the channels of international diplomacy.

War and the Economic Crisis are intimately related. While the global economy is in a state of chaos, marked by the collapse of productive systems, the US and its allies –including NATO and Israel– have embarked upon a military adventure, “a long war” under the disguise of a “global war on terrorism”.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

Pentagon war games routinely focus on simulating World War III scenarios. This “End of the World” military agenda potentially threatens the future of humanity.

Media Disinformation

While World public attention is riveted on the “Mayan apocalypse”, the “Real Crisis” which is affecting humanity is not an object of  serious debate. The Pentagon’s “long war” combined with a murky scenario of  global impoverishment and economic breakdown is not front page news.

The corporate media plays a central role in providing legitimacy to a destructive military agenda.

The US-NATO weapons arsenal and military deployment in all regions of the World are routinely portrayed as instruments of peace. America’s new generation of tactical nuclear weapons are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war, which constitutes a de facto doomsday scenario, is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”.

Central to an understanding of war is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion.

A good versus evil dichotomy prevails.

The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims.

According to the Western media, America and NATO’s “Atlantic area” were attacked by a “foreign power” [Afghanistan] on September 11, 2001: an a absurd proposition.

NATO’s doctrine of collective security, based on the concept of “self defense” was invoked by the Atlantic Council on the morning of September 12, 2001 as a justification to bomb and invade Afghanistan, because Afghanistan had allegedly attacked America.

Meanwhile, the media stands mum: no analysis, no debate. Public opinion is misled.

Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking the propaganda apparatus, which sustains a criminal project of global destruction.

War propaganda not only sustains a profit-driven military agenda, it creates in the inner consciousness of millions of people the acceptance of war as a societal project.

It literally stamps out and excludes from the human mindset fundamental human values of peace, compassion and social justice. It transforms people into unconscious zombies.

The corporate media is involved in acts of camouflage. The devastating impacts of a nuclear war are either trivialized or not mentioned.

Against this backdrop, people across the land, nationally and internationally, should understand the gravity of the present situation and act forcefully at all levels of society to reverse the tide of war.

Strong “Economic Medicine”

The conduct of  global warfare is accompanied by process of Worldwide macroeconomic restructuring. Throughout the World strong “economic medicine” is imposed.

People are led to believe that austerity is the “solution” to crisis when it is in fact the “cause” of economic collapse.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the IMF “Structural Adjustment Program” (SAP) was imposed on the Third World, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the countries of the former Soviet block. In all these countries, the standard of living plummeted, State social programs were phased out or privatised.

In North America and the European Union, the social crisis has been is marked by the weakening or outright disintegration of Medicare, Social Security and public education.

The civilian economy is in crisis. Tax revenues are reallocated to building a formidable war economy at the expense of social services. Fiscal collapse is the inevitable outcome. State budgets are dictated by the creditor banks, which increasingly decide on the fate of millions of people.

Across America, millions of households have lost their homes. Small businesses are driven into bankruptcy. What remains of social security and Medicare is slated to be scrapped.

The only sectors of the US economy which are booming are the luxury goods sector geared to the “One Percent” and the state of the art weapons industry, largely composed of the defence conglomerates including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, British Aerospace et al.

 Tax Dollars used to Wage Wars and Kill People

The war economy is booming, F35 fighter jets are to be sold at half a billion dollars a piece. Not included in this price is another 300 million dollars of related maintenance and upkeep of these state of of the art fighter jets.

Canada and Norway be acquiring a large number of these planes at the expense of their social programs.  “The overall cost of the program to the US military is estimated at a staggering $1.51 trillion over the so called life cycle of the program, namely $618 million per plane. (Shalal-Esa, Andrea. Government sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.51 trillion., Chicago Tribune,  April 2, 2012).

War and Globalization

War and globalization including the imposition of deadly austerity measures are intimately related.  Global Warfare is good for business. It feeds billions of dollars into what Dwight D. Eisenhower call the “Military Industrial Complex”. The fanciful headlines regarding the upcoming Apocalypse serve to overshadow the grim realities of  the US-NATO led wars.

Several new weapons systems have been introduced in the course of the post Cold war era. The emphasis is on unconventional warfare.

  • Unmanned warfare, killing from a computer screen,
  • environmental modification techniques including climatic warfare,
  • a new generation of nuclear weapons made in America, not to mention the use of depleted uranium ammunition which causes cancer.

The backdrop is a culture of violence in Hollywood where war, police brutality, torture and extrajudicial killings are the “new normal”;

Meanwhile the Fukushima disaster is a nuclear war without a war, conducive to massive contamination and radiation, the consequences of which are still to be fully assessed.

Who are the main actors behind the US led war?

  • The military industrial complex also described as the defence contractors, including the mercenary and security outfits on contract to the US Department of Defense (DoD)
  • the Wall Street financial establishment including the institutional speculators and the hedge funds,
  • the biotech conglomerates, agribusiness and big Pharma, which produce genetically modified seeds, chemical and biological weapons. This sector overlaps with the military industrial complex,
  • the Anglo-American oil conglomerates and energy companies,
  • the communications giants overlapping with the military and intelligence apparatus, including surveillance and police state technology,
  • The media conglomerates which constitute the cornerstone of the US imperial propaganda.

Wars on the Pentagon Drawing Board

Active war preparations against Syria, Lebanon and Iran have been ongoing for the last eight years.

Since 2005, the US and its allies, including America’s NATO partners and Israel, have been involved in the extensive deployment and stockpiling of advanced weapons systems.

Public opinion, swayed by media hype is tacitly supportive, indifferent or ignorant as to the likely impacts of what is upheld as an ad hoc “punitive” operation directed against Iran’s nuclear facilities rather than an all out war.

The war on Iran is presented to public opinion as an issue among others. It is not viewed as a threat to humanity, as a doomsday scenario. Quite the opposite: it is viewed as a humanitarian endeavor which contributes to enhancing an illusive concept of global security.

The “End of the World” is an ongoing man made process. What we are witnessing in the 21st Century is the outright destruction of entire countries.

Erasing the Achievements of Post War Economic and Social Development. Dismantling the Welfare State

The European Union –which had reached a high level of economic and social development– is now beset with mass unemployment and the dismantling of the post World War II Welfare State. The governments of sovereign countries are controlled by a shadow financial establishment.

Almost one quarter of Europe’s young people are without work, with the highest youth jobless rate (52.1 percent) recorded in Greece and Spain.

In Greece and Spain, the overall unemployment rates now stand at the record levels of 21.9 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively.

In both countries unemployment has risen sharply in the past year. In May 2011, unemployment stood at 20.9 percent in Spain and 15.7 percent in Greece. (See Christoph Dreier, Record Unemployment in Euro Zone, Global Research, July 03, 2012 World Socialist Web Site 3 July 2012,http://www.globalresearch.ca/record-unemployment-in-euro-zone/31740)

At the height of the great depression of the 21st century, economic chaos prevails, the possibility of financial breakdown can not be dismissed.

Criminalization of the Banking System

Known and documented, the mega-banks which oversee the economic restructuring of the European and North American economies are routinely involved in money laundering and the drug trade. Pervasive links to organized crime have been established.

The banks work hand in glove with the drug cartels.

HSBC was sued for collaborating with the Mexican drug cartel. This is not an isolated event. All major financial institutions are involved in the laundering of drug money.

And lest we forget, the drug economy is part of a long history of international trade.  The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation founded in 1865 in the British colony of Hong Kong was an offshoot of the British East India company (BEIC). Starting in the late 18th century, protected by the British Empire, the BEIC was involved in the lucrative opium trade.

Produced in Bengal and then shipped to China, the revenues were used to finance Britain’s imperial expansion.

When the Chinese imperial government ordered the opium to be destroyed in 1839, Britain declared war on China, initiating what was called the “first opium war”.  Britain’s casus belli was that China –by destroying the opium– had violated the tenets of 19th Century “free trade”.

The HSBV is no exception.  Today, corporate capital continues to protect the drug trade and the most respected banking institutions annually launder billions of narco-dollars.  It is worth noting that since 2001, Afghanistan’s war shattered economy supplies more than 90 percent of the World’s heroin.

The highly lucrative drug trade out of Afghanistan is protected by the US-NATO occupation forces on behalf of powerful financial interests: a multibillion dollar bonanza for the banks and the criminal syndicates involved in the Golden Crescent drug trade. The resulting flow of narco-dollars is largely laundered in the Western banking system.

Destroying Civilization: Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley

America’s wars in the Middle East and Central Asia have largely been conducive to the destabilization and decline of an entire region, considered by historians to be the cradle of civilization.

The “doomsday” wars on Iraq and more recently Syria are instrumental in the destruction of Mesopotamia, the “Land of two Rivers”.

More than 5000 years of history are erased. In Iraq. At the very outset of the occupation in April 2003, the cultural and archaeological heritage was looted by the invaders.

America’s unmanned drone attacks against civilians in Pakistan under the mandate of the “Global War on Terrorism” occur in the upper Indus Valley, another cradle of ancient civilization going back to the Bronze Age (Third Millennium BC) , which is currently being destroyed.

The Indus Valley Civilization also known as the Harappan civilization, started in the third millennium BC (3300–1300 BC). Together with the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley was one of the first urban river civilizations.

The “collateral casualties” resulting from the drone attacks are “nothing more than a euphemism for state-sponsored mass murder.”

The recipients of these profit driven wars are the Anglo-American oil giants and the weapons conglomerates, the so-called “defense contractors” (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, British Aerospace, etc)  which produce the humanitarian missiles and fighter planes for the US-NATO war machine. The latter includes a new generation of nuclear weapons.

The technology and sophistication of this military hardware at the height of the electronic age have expanded beyond bounds. In a bitter irony, these “weapons of peace” are used to ensure that Iran and Syria do not use their alleged WMDs against the Western World.

The Role of Al Qaeda

US led wars are geared towards in fomenting ethnic and factional divisions as well as supporting, through covert operations the formation of “Islamist” terrorist paramilitary organizations. These covert operations are essentially intended to destroy the nation state and install a puppet regime.

Over the past 30 years, US intelligence in partnership with Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad, have supported the creation of Al Qaeda as well as a number of “Al Qaeda affiliated” organizations. These terrorist entities are “intelligence assets”, namely instruments of Western intelligence.

Today, the jihadists freedom fighters are recruited by NATO. In Libya and in Syria, these Al Qaeda affiliated entities, supported and integrated by French and British special forces, act on behalf of the Western military alliance.

They are NATO’s foot-soldiers.

The Plight of Genetically Engineered Seeds (GMO)

In India, the Ganges which floods the fertile plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, thousands of bankrupt and impoverished farmers are committing suicide.

The figures confirm that 250,000 farmers have committed suicide. Why? Because the organic seeds are being replaced by genetically modified varieties, which once adopted leads not only to the destruction of biodiversity but also to the demise of entire farming communities:

Monsanto offered its GM seeds to the farmers of India with hopes of reaping plentiful crops. Plain and mostly uneducated farmers thought Monsanto had come to provide a “magic” formula that would transform their lives. They had no idea what was coming.

Monsanto’s seeds in India did not produce what the company had promised and farmers hoped. The expensive seeds piled up debts and destroyed farming fields. In many instances, the crops simply failed to materialize.

The farmers were not aware that the GM seeds required more water than the traditional seeds. And lack of rain in many parts of India exacerbated the crop failure.

With no harvest, the farmers could not pay back the lenders. Burdened with debts and humiliation, the farmers simply took their own lives, some by swallowing poisonous pesticides in front of their families. To date, an estimated 200,000 farmers have committed suicide all over India.

To add to the misery, wives inherited the debts along with the fear of losing their homes and lands. With no money coming in, they also had to pull their kids from the schools.

The mass suicide among the Indian farmers is known as the “GM genocide.”  (KILLER SEEDS: The Devastating Impacts of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Seeds in India By Iqbal Ahmed. January 12, 2012  http://www.globalresearch.ca/killer-seeds-the-devastating-impacts-of-monsanto-s-genetically-modified-seeds-in-india/28629

A similar process is occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. In the highlands of Ethiopia, where the landraces of an ancient agricultural system are being replaced by seeds and farm inputs from Monsanto, Cargill, et al:

The hidden agenda was to eventually displace the traditional varieties and landraces reproduced in village-level nurseries.

With the weakening of the system of traditional exchange, village level seed banks were being replenished with commercial hi-bred and genetically modified seeds. Michel Chossudovsky, Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia  Global Research, September 10, 2001 The Ecologist, 1 September 2000, also published as a chapter in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, Montreal 2003

Impoverishment and Famine in sub-Saharan Africa

This destructive pattern – invariably resulting in famine – is replicated throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. From the onslaught of the debt crisis of the early 1980s, the IMF-World Bank had set the stage for the demise of the peasant economy across the region .

This process of planned impoverishment of the African continent under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank has been accompanied by an ongoing process of US led militarization under the mandate of the “Global War on Terrorism.

In the course of the last 30 years, civil wars triggered through covert intelligence ops have been launched. Powerful corporate interests are behind these wars. Control over resources, oil, natural gas, precious and strategic metals is the not so hidden agenda.

In South Sudan, oil was discovered in 1978. Five years later a US sponsored “civil war” supported by the CIA was launched, led by John Garang, who was trained by the US military at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Sudan war resulted in 2 million lives and another 4 million displaced. Estimates of war related deaths in Sudan are in the range of 4 million.

The Rwandan civil war and 1994 genocide resulted in a million deaths out of a total population of approximately 7 million. The resource wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo resulted in up to five million deaths.

These wars in sub-Saharan Africa are never mentioned by the media. Many people in America do not know they even happened.

More generally, the 2012 Mayan prophesy among other World events serves the useful purpose of distracting people’s attention from the most devastating crisis in word history characterised by endless war, environmental degradation and poverty triggered by macroeconomic reform.

Reversing the Tide of War. Restoring Economic and Social Development. Reinstating Civil Liberties

While we are not facing an imminent “End of the World” scenario, the World is nonetheless at the juncture of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history. The outbreak of a full fledged war against Syria and Iran could potentially lead humanity into a Third World War scenario.

The US possesses an impressive arsenal of weapons which it is being used to threaten the World.

An Orwellian police state has emerged, with spying and eves-dropping implemented at a global level. Big Brother is instated at height of the electronic age, with sophisticated data banks and surveillance techniques, operating Worldwide.

Habeas corpus has been repealed. Extrajudicial assassinations are now legal.

The international community has endorsed preemptive nuclear war in the name of world peace.

“Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, including nuclear weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality.

What we are witnessing at the outset of the 21st Century, however, is not an abrupt shift and fracture, but a gradual process of decay and social decline.

What is at stake is the destruction of civilization as we know it, where progress is interrupted and the reproduction of human life is impaired. This process is marked by the implementation of a global military agenda coupled with a Worldwide economic depression.

We are living in a destructive and momentous period in World history

The ideological underpinnings of this inquisitorial New World Order are devastating:

The overriding consensus is that people should support a Wordwide criminal project, involving illegal wars, the police State, the derogation of civil liberties and financial fraud, “in the name of democracy”.

The consensus does not allow for dissent or debate. Its the American inquisition. Those opposed to this perverted brand of democracy are categorized as “terrorists”. Being opposed to criminality is a criminal offence.

For this Orwellian New World Order to be sustained, realities must be turned upside down: the propaganda apparatus is predicated on instilling falsehoods in the minds of millions of people.

Citizens must accept the premises of a World Order where:

  • war is heralded as peace,
  • the police state is upheld as democracy,
  • austerity means prosperity,
  • wealth and luxury is a indicator of progress and development,
  • killing and torturing alleged terrorists are required to ensure national security
  • the victims of war constitute a threat to Western civilization

Realities are distorted and turned upside down, the Lie becomes the Truth.

The real global crisis affecting the people of this planet is thereby obfuscated by “fake crises” and catastrophes, not to mention warnings of impending “terrorist attacks” by unidentified “outside enemies”.

The ultimate purpose of propaganda is to create confusion and obedience to a pre-determined political consensus.

The objective is to distract and divert public attention from an understanding of the real crisis which is affecting humanity:  The great depression and World War III are not front page news, yet the danger of a world war is real.

Reversing the tide is tantamount to a revolution, it is the reversal of certain embedded tendencies in the capitalist World Order.

The latter is characterized by the criminalization of both the financial system and the political apparatus. Bankers are rightfully involved in fraud and money laundering, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon et al. are vying for more wars, oil companies have their eyes riveted on conquering the Middle East: more than 60 percent of the World’s oil lies in Muslim lands.

This downward spiral underlying this crisis is a gradual yet cumulative process. It can be reversed.

The conditions for its reversal imply the dismantling of fundamental structures and institutions, repealing the police state, closing down the military industrial complex, revamping the financial system, scrapping economic austerity measures and restoring the standard of living of working people, putting an end to humanitarian killings, repealing racism and xenophobia.

In essence, what is required at the outset is meaningful “Regime Change” in the USA, a massive overall in the political system as well as the financial architecture.

A revolution involves first and foremost the dismantling of the propaganda apparatus, which means targeting the sources of media disinformation.

Dismantling mainstream media disinformation is is a prerequisite to implementing more fundamental changes in the workings of the economic and social system, implying fundamental shifts in power relations.

The most important instrument at our disposal is the Truth, because the truth overrides the Lie. It is the basis for developing a mass grass-roots movement, nationally and internationally

When the Lie becomes the Truth within an Orwellian police state environment, there is no going back, humanity is precipitated onto the path of self destruction.

It is therefore crucial to fully comprehend the criminal nature of the New World Order, of its legal and political underpinnings, and the nature of the elite power structures which sustain it.

To reverse the tide, war criminals in high office, must be targeted as an initial step. The weapons industry must eventually be closed down. The fraudulent financial mechanisms –including derivative trade and speculative instruments, the institutions, the legal apparatus, etc.– underlying the global capitalist economy must eventually also be dismantled.

What is presented here are a few thoughts to initiate a broader debate. The complexities underlying the military agenda and global economic system must be addressed if we are to successfully reverse the tide.

What is required is a mass movement of people which forcefully challenges the legitimacy of war and economic austerity, a global people’s movement which criminalizes war.

Martin Luther King once said:

Youngsters will learn words they will not understand,

Children from India will ask: “What is hunger?”

Children from Alabama will ask: “What is racial segregation?”

Children from Hiroshima will ask: “What is the atomic bomb?”

Children at school will ask: “What is war?”

You will answer them, you will tell them: “Those are words not used any more,

Like ‘stage-coaches’, ‘galleys’ or ‘slavery’,

Words no longer meaningful,

That is why they have been removed from dictionaries.”

This article originally appeared at Global Research

FISA spy bill could be renewed without discussion

The U.S. Capitol dome is seen behind the entrance to the U.S. Senate (Reuters / Larry Downing)

The U.S. Capitol dome is seen behind the entrance to the U.S. Senate (Reuters / Larry Downing)

(RT) A Republican lawmaker is urging his colleagues in the Senate to approve without debate a bill that reaffirms the government’s power to place warrantless wiretaps on US citizens.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) asked his fellow lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to quickly reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before the end of the year. Should Congress fail to renew FISA by December 31, the amendments that were added to the bill in 2008 will expire and with it will be hindered the government’s ability to monitor the emails and phone calls of US citizens.

Under the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 (FAA), the government can eavesdrop on any online or over-the-phone communication, even of US citizens, as long as at least one party is reasonably believed to be residing outside of the United States. If that wasn’t evasive enough, though, the National Security Agency (NSA) has refused to answer questions from members of the country’s own intelligence community about how the act is applied.

Earlier this year, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado) were told by the NSA that the agency would be unwilling to fulfill their request for information on how many Americans have been targeted under the FAA.

“All that Senator Udall and I are asking for is a ballpark estimate of how many Americans have been monitored under this law, and it is disappointing that the Inspectors General cannot provide it,” Sen. Wyden told Wired’s Danger Room back in June. “If no one will even estimate how many Americans have had their communications collected under this law then it is all the more important that Congress act to close the ‘back door searches’ loophole, to keep the government from searching for Americans’ phone calls and emails without a warrant.”

Despite warnings from Sen. Wyden and others, though, the House of Representatives approved a renewal of FISA in September. Since then, the Senate has been tasked with reassessing the bill and determining if an extension should be granted to keep both FISA and its 2008 amendments on the books for another five years. With only days left before the bill expires, though, a solid discussion on the FAA seems unlikely to occur in Washington.

On Tuesday, December 18, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) asked his peers to push forward with FISA debates so that the matter of renewing or not the FAA can occur before the new year.

“FISA, this is an important piece of legislation as imperfect as it is, it is necessary to protect us from the evil in this world,” Sen. Reid said, according to The Hill. “We need to finish this by the end of the week.”

Sen. Reid’s call to act was rejected by Sen. Chambliss, though, who claimed that FISA is in fact so important that it should be renewed without any consideration.

The Hill reports:

“Reid wanted S. 3276 to be considered with a limited number of amendments, but Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) objected and said he didn’t understand why the Senate couldn’t just pass the House FISA bill. He referred to a letter stating that the Obama administration supports the House-version.”

According to The Hill, Sen. Reid responded by reminding the floor that renewing FISA could have implications that are worth reassessing before a vote is held without debate.

“I will continue to work on a path forward,” Reid said. “But Christmas is not more important than this legislation. I hope I’m not offending anyone, but it isn’t.”

Days earlier, US News & World Report quoted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) as saying, “Citizens generally assume our government is not spying on them,” but, “If they had any inkling of how this system really works, the details of which I cannot discuss, they would be profoundly appalled.”

During House debates in September, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) had harsh words for FISA, saying, “Everyone becomes suspect when big brother is listening.”

“We’ve been told that we can’t even tell how many people are being subjected to this process located in the United States, and that we don’t know and they can’t tell us,” Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan ) pleaded earlier in the year in response to FISA talks. “I think we can get a little bit closer. There can be some reasonableness. It’s this kind of vagueness that creates in those of us in the Congress, suspicions that are negative rather than suspicions that are positive.”

“Why can’t we know how many people are affected by FISA amendment act in the US?” Rep Conyers asked. “This kind of vagueness creates suspicions.”

On Wednesday, Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a blog post asking concerned Americans to contact their representatives to demand a discussion be held in Washington before the Senate rushed to reauthorize FISA.

“Senate leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell, owe the American public a debate about this law, including how many Americans have been scooped up in it, how many times it has been used in non-terrorism investigations and how much it has cost the American taxpayers,” Timm wrote.

Previously, the EFF condoned FISA and the FAA because, in their words, it gives the NSA “expansive power to spy on Americans’ international email and telephone calls.”

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the sponsor of the FAA renewal, has claimed “Foreign nations continue to spy on America to plot cyber-attacks and attempt to steal sensitive information from our military and private sector industries,”and that Congress has “a solemn responsibility to ensure that the intelligence community can gather the information”necessary to hinder these attempts.

Earlier this year, Obama-appointed Attorney General Eric Holder defended the act, saying FISA “ensures that the government has the flexibility and agility it needs to identify and to respond to terrorist and other foreign threats to our security.”

Biometrics, Immigration and How the US and Canada Collect Data on Citizens

Activist Post

The Immigration Sharing Treaty, an integral part of thePerimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan (PSECAP), was signed by the US and Canada last week. David Jacobson, US Ambassador to Canada said:

This important agreement is the culmination of ten years of effort to advance the security of the United States and Canada, and to ensure the integrity of our immigration and visa systems. It reflects the commitment of President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to the Beyond the Border process, which will enhance North American security while facilitating the efficient movement of safe goods and well-intentioned travelers.

In 2011, Obama and Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister, signed the PSECAP that allowed for the sharing of information on both Canadian and American citizens for the sake of immigration, improve border efficiency, border security and provide a network database to identify foreign national as well as stop illegals from crossing the border.

This includes biometric technologies to be used beginning in 2014.

Biometric border crossing cards (BCCs) have been used to identify Mexican citizens making short visits since 1997 with the approval of the Congress and in conjunction with the US State Department who employed DynCorp who is now owned by CSC.

Advancements in BBCs have led to laser visas which are “machine-readable, credit-card-sized documents with digitally encoded biometric data, including the bearer’s photograph and fingerprint.”
Those in the program were fingerprinted and photographed with their information entered into biometric databases with electronic verification of authenticity. Files were reviewed by the State Department. Once approved, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the individuals new laser visas.

Biometric technologies are defensible by the US government in use at border crossings as a quick and easy way to be identified. However, the price for entering into the US is now paid in private information about each individual who sets foot in the country. This gives the US the ability to know vast amounts of data about each person such as accurately distinguishing their characteristics:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Fingerprint
  • Disability

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), an agreed upon technology to be used under the PSECAP, was outlined in the Beyond the Border Declaration (BBD)which articulates the relationship between the US and Canada to address threats to their nations through secure borders as well as immigration, goods and services that travel through the two countries.

ESTA, an extension of the DHS through US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) oversees all applications for international travelers who enter the US. Their approval of passage is the deciding factor for entrance into America.

Stated in the BBD was the relationship between the US and Canada, “the purpose of interweaving the two nations to increase the resiliency of our networks, enhance public-private partnerships, and build a culture of shared responsibility,” according to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of DHS.

In November, both the US and Canadian governments revealed that they will combine efforts against cyber-attacks with the creation of an action plan between the DHS and Public Safety Canada (PSC) to improve digital infrastructure.

In Washington, DC and Ottawa, Canada there will be a collaboration of cyber security operation centers as well as shared information and the establishment of guidelines on private sector corporations. Added to this endeavor is the governmental alliance on propaganda methods to convince the citizens of both nations that cyber security must become an over-reaching control by the two governments.

Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for facial recognition systems that “analyzes the characteristics of an image’s subject and uses this data to create a ‘faceprint,’ to match with other photos to establish a person’s identity.”

According to the patent description:

In order to automatically recognise a person’s face that is detected in a digital image, facial detection/recognition software generates a set of features or a feature vector (referred to as a ‘faceprint’) that indicate characteristics of the person’s face. The generate faceprint is then compared to other faceprints to determine whether the generated faceprint matches (or is similar enough to) one or more of the other faceprints. If so, then the facial detection/recognition software determines that the person corresponding to the generated faceprint is likely to be the same person that corresponds to the ‘matched’ faceprints(s).

The federal government has released on a website, the information about their use of biometric technologies that they want the general public to know.
As far back as 2008, former President George W. Bush signed the National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-59 / Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) – 24, “Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security”. This NSPD explained the “framework to ensure Federal departments and agencies use compatible methods and procedures in the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of individuals in a lawful and appropriate manner, while respecting privacy and other legal rights under United States law.”

Mayan Apocalypse Is Unlike Other Doomsdays

Illustration showing Earth amageddon

Illustration showing Earth amageddon
CREDIT: sdecoret | Shutterstock

(LiveScience) Doomsday predictions seem as regular as the tides. UFO cults and evangelical preachers alike have claimed to know the true date of the end of the world. But the Mayan apocalypse is unlike most any doomsday to come before.

That’s because the Mayan apocalypse is an entirely grassroots doomsday, religion experts say. Most apocalyptic groups center around an apocalyptic leader, who passes along predictions, often claiming divine inspiration. The belief that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, on the other hand, has popped up almost entirely online, giving rise to a plethora of dueling predictions.

“This was almost an evolutionary process, in that certain ideas seem to stick for some reason, and many didn’t, but what you ended up with is the current 2012 phenomenon,” said Stephen Kent, a sociologist at the University of Alberta who studies new religious movements.

Nevertheless, apocalypse experts say, the current doomsday predictions have much in common with previous versions in that they assume the world to be in hopeless decline and beyond saving. [Full Coverage: The Mayan Not-Apocalypse]

A brief history of the end of the world

Apocalyptic viewpoints are thousands of years old. In Western civilization, they get their start with the ancient Persians, said Allen Kerkeslager, a religious studies professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. The Persian religion, called Zoroastrianism, included beliefs in an epic struggle between good and evil that would culminate in the end of the world, Kerkeslager told LiveScience.

In 539 B.C., the Persians conquered the ancient Jews, whom they would rule for the next 200 years. Prior to coming under Persian rules, Jewish thinkers had given little attention to the apocalypse. But as the cultures collided, apocalyptic thinking began to percolate into their writings, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. These end-of-the-world stories would later get integrated into early Christianity.

“These end-of-the-world predictions, a lot of it Christianity gets directly from Judaism, and Judaism gets it really almost directly from Zoroastrianism,” Kerkeslager said.

Failed apocalypses occurred with regularity in the first millennium; unsurprisingly, nice round dates like A.D. 500 and A.D. 1000 attracted particular attention. At other times, doomsday predictors looked to the skies. For example, in 1524, astrologers predicted a planetary alignment would bring the end of the world. The failure of this prophecy resulted in a revised date to 1528 and then to 1624. [Oops! 11 Failed Doomsday Predictions]

Modern Doomsdays

In the modern era, many doomsday prophets continue to preach versions of the Christian doomsday, with its judgment and rapture. One prominent example is radio preacher Harold Camping, who captured nationwide attention in 2011 after buying up billboard space to warn of Judgment Day on May 21 of that year. The end of the world was expected to follow in October. (Camping is currently out of the business of predicting the end.)

Others have combined the Western cultural fascination of doomsday with new religious movements. In 1954, late Chicago housewife Dorothy Martin and a group of her followers predicted a global flood on Dec. 21 of that year. The cult believed that a UFO would come and rescue them, as true believers, on the night of the flood.

The case became famous thanks to sociologists embedded with the cult, who reported the group’s reaction as the flood and UFO failed to materialize in the book “When Prophecy Fails” (Harper-Torchbooks, 1956). The group rationalized the failure by explaining that they themselves had turned back God’s plans for doomsday with their faith.

The Mayan apocalypse

The Mayan apocalypse myths are similar to prophecies like Martins’ in that they take a non-Biblical view of the end of the world. Mayan apocalypse believers get their inspiration from the Mayan Long Count Calendar, which consists of 144,000-day-long cycles called b’ak’tuns. (There are also longer units of time, such as piktuns, which are made of 20 b’ak’tuns.) Dec. 21, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, which would have been seen as a completed full cycle of creation by the ancient Maya. However, there were no apocalyptic predictions associated with this day.

The driving belief behind the Mayan apocalypse is likely the same as any other doomsday, said Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal.

Believers are motivated by “a general dissatisfaction with the world and a sense that its problems cannot be overcome by human intellect and engineering,” DiTommaso told LiveScience.

However, unlike other doomsday predictions made by charismatic leaders, people come to the Mayan apocalypse for all sorts of different reasons, DiTommaso said.

“It’s in some ways a Rorschach test, because you impose as much on it as it imposes on you,” he said. “You’ve got a problem with the environment? Maybe it’s 2012, and the planet is trying to tell you something.”

‘Habitable’ planet discovered circling Tau Ceti star

Tau Ceti

Artist’s impression of Tau Ceti: astronomers have found a planet with conditions that could support life orbiting a twin neighbour of the sun. Photograph: J Pinfield for the RoPACS netwo/PA

 

(Guardian) A planet with conditions that could support life orbits a twin neighbour of the sun visible to the naked eye, scientists have revealed.

The world is one of five thought to be circling Tau Ceti, a star just 12 light years away that is almost identical to the sun.

Astronomers estimate the Tau Ceti planets to be two to six times bigger than Earth. One of them, with five times the Earth’s mass, lies in the star’s “habitable zone”.

Also known as the “Goldilocks zone”, this is the orbital region that is neither too hot nor too cold to allow liquid surface water and, potentially, life. Details of the discovery are to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Because of the difficulties involved in detecting extra-solar planets, most found so far have had high masses. The Tau Ceti planetary family is thought to be the lowest-mass solar system yet detected.

Scientists found the planets using a highly sensitive technique that combined data from more than 6,000 observations from three different telescopes. They used the radial velocity method, which looks for “wobble” in a star’s movement caused by the gravitational tug of planets.

Dr James Jenkins, a member of the international team from the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Tau Ceti is one of our nearest cosmic neighbours and so bright that we may be able to study the atmospheres of these planets in the not-too-distant future.

“Planetary systems found around nearby stars close to our sun indicate that these systems are common in our Milky Way galaxy.”

More than 800 planets have been discovered orbiting stars beyond the sun since the 1990s. Those found around the nearest sun-like stars are the most interesting to astronomers.

Professor Steve Vogt, another team member, from the University of California at Santa Cruz, said: “This discovery is in keeping with our emerging view that virtually every star has planets, and that the galaxy must have many such potentially habitable Earth-sized planets. They are everywhere, even right next door.”

Professor Chris Tinney, an Australian member from the University of New South Wales, said: “As we stare at the night sky, it is worth contemplating that there may well be more planets out there than there are stars, some fraction of which may well be habitable.”

Jenkins is a visiting fellow at the University of Hertfordshire who is based at the University of Chile.

Meet Liz Fowler: Architect of ObamaCare Jumps Ship To Johnson & Johnson

(Columbia Journalism Review) Leave it to the Brits to tell us Americans about our healthcare system. In this case the telling is done by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald (an American, by the way), who takes us back into the world of revolving-door lobbyists—the ones who come from industry, do a stint of government service for much lower pay, and then when it’s kosher again move back to the private sector to earn their keep until retirement.

Greenwald’s latest post leaps off some reporting by Politico to focus on the story of Liz Fowler, a name that is not new to CJR. Nor is it new to Greenwald, who profiled Fowler’s activities in a Salon blog post a couple of years ago.

Herewith is a brief Fowler curriculum vitae: In 2001 she had a plum job as chief counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with healthcare bills. As Greenwald’s old Salon post notes, her biography says she “played a key role” in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law that created a new senior drug benefit—a benefit provided via private insurers, not the government, as is the case for other Medicare benefits. A few years later she landed a position at WellPoint as a vice president overseeing the giant insurer’s lobbying activities.

Fowler then returned to Senate Finance in 2008 to work for Sen. Max Baucus, who chaired the committee, which was becoming Action Central for health reform. Fowler and Baucus pretty much wrote the bill that became Obamacare—and which, we should note, did not include a proposed “public option,” which was popular with ordinary people but not the insurance companies that lobbied hard to make sure it was out of the mix.

For her services Fowler was rewarded with yet another government job, as deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services. In her HHS job she had to “balance” the interests of consumers and insurers. Then this week Politico’s Dave Levinthal and Anna Palmer had a scoop: Fowler is returning to the private world, this time to a senior level position leading global health policy at Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.

The revelation prompted Greenwald to take another look at Fowler and the revolving door. He writes:

The pharmaceutical giant that just hired Fowler actively supported the passage of Obamacare through its membership in the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Indeed, PhRMA was one of the most aggressive supporters—and most lavish beneficiaries—of the health care bill drafted by Fowler. Mother Jones’ James Ridgewayproclaimed “Big Pharma” the “big winner” in the health care bill. And now, Fowler will receive ample rewards from that same industry as she peddles her influence in government and exploits her experience with its inner workings to work on that industry’s behalf, all of which has been made perfectly legal by the same insular, Versailles-like Washington culture that so lavishly benefits from all of this.

…This is precisely the behavior, which, quite rationally, makes the citizenry so jaded about Washington.”

Reporters are jaded too, and that’s why these revolving door stories are not news any more. Other than a solid article by The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Christina Wilkie, hardly anyone seems to have followed up on Politico’s scoop. The fact people move in and out of government is hardly a story.

But what they do while they’re in government—and out of it—is. Especially as we move toward implementation of Obamacare, I want to know more about Fowler’s handiwork and the far-reaching effect she has had on healthcare policy.

A decade ago WellPoint laid out a strategy to pursue business in the individual market, precisely the big new market Obamacare sends their way. Will government rules that Fowler may have worked on give the company an edge in the kinds of policies it can sell and the regulations it must follow? What about the provision—first written into the Medicare prescription drug law and later apparently inscribed in the Affordable Care Act—that prohibits the government from negotiating Medicare drug prices with pharmaceutical makers, even though many experts believe those negotiations would help lower the price of medicine for seniors? Johnson & Johnson and other drug makers probably didn’t care much for that idea. Nor did insurance companies like the notion of revealing the prices of their policies on those new government-mandated disclosure forms consumers are starting to see when they shop for a policy.

It’s a good bet Fowler was party to discussions on these issues. But it’s stuff like this—the role of the lobbyist turned government employee, the nitty-gritty of legislation—that we know so little about. We need good reporting to help us learn more.

Fireball Over Texas Prompts Worries of Mayan Apocalypse

By M. Frank Drover 
theintelhub.com
December 8, 2012

A pre-dawn fireball streaked across the Houston, Texas sky this morning and was seen as far north as Dallas, over 200 miles away.

It was so bright that the unidentified flying object was spotted by NASA’s meteor camera some 500 miles west of Houston in Mayhill, NM.

Concerned residents contacted local news stations to report what has been described as a “huge shooting star-like object.”

Local radio broadcasts immediately began receiving calls, many from people who were driving to work, with some asking whether the fireball in the sky could be a sign that the fabled Mayan Prophecy has begun.

The Maya were a mesoamerican civilization that are believed to have been one of the most advanced peoples to live in the Americas, having developed language, mathematics and astronomical systems.

The prophecy refers to December 21, 2012, which is believed by some to be the date the world will end – Doomsday.

Though disputed by most mainstream science, some historians and mathematicians have concluded that the date, calculated from the Mayan Calendar, will lead to massive changes on earth that may include floods, earthquakes, and solar events.

The scenario was popularized in the Hollywood blockbuster 2012.

Despite some panic, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston insisted that this was not a sign of the coming destruction of the planet, but rather, just a rogue asteroid originating from the asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter (which incidentally is theorized to have been created when a large planet-size object met its Doomsday).

“It is a meteor, most likely a fragment from the asteroid belt and not associated with the Geminid meteor shower,” said NASA spokesman Bill Cooke.

Civilian reports:

NASA Camera captures fireball burst:

Contributed by M. Frank Drover of The Daily Sheeple.

M. Frank Drover is a co-editor and contributor for The Daily Sheeple, an alternative media hub for leading headlines, head lies, opinion, and commentary. Wake the flock up!