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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Policy: Water industry, World Bank pilot new scheme to drive public water into private hands

© Wikimedia Commons.
Water industry, World Bank pilot new scheme to drive public water into private hands by Christine Chester, Shayda Naficy

World Economic Forum to feature progress report from Nestlé-led initiative

Contact:
Christine Chester, 617-695-2525
Shayda Naficy, 617-695-2525

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland - This January 26th, the water industry will privately review its newest strategy for driving public water resources into private hands at the World Economic Forum. A partnership quietly launched in October with funding from the World Bank, Coca-Cola and Veolia will report on progress towards its stated mission to "transform the water sector" by establishing "new normative approaches to water governance" that put the private sector in the driver's seat in water management.

Calling itself the Water Resources Group (WRG) and headed by Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathei, the corporation has already targeted the countries of Mexico, Jordan, India and South Africa to "shape and test governance processes" that would make water privatization more feasible and profitable. The fact that the Group has not invited publicity, and the Bank was unwilling to comment upon its launch, underscores how controversial its founders know the endeavor to be.

"The cognitive dissonance could not be clearer," said Corporate Accountability International Executive Director Kelle Louaillier. "Amid a global water crisis, exacerbated by one failed privatization scheme after another, a development institution is aggressively advancing narrow industry interests to the detriment of poverty alleviation."

Corporate Accountability International and its allies see the WRG as an outgrowth of longstanding Bank ideology and financing practices. For close to three decades the Bank's corporate investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where the Group is now housed, has sponsored the global drive to privatize water resources, attracting billions of dollars in additional financing from private banks.

This despite the fact that the World Bank reports 34 percent of such IFC-sanctioned water contracts are in distress or terminated before maturity - by far the highest rate of failure of any of the infrastructure sectors the Bank lends to. What's more, in April the IFC's Compliance Advisor Ombudsman reported that 40 percent of all complaints received across all IFC-financed sectors were water-related.

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Still the Bank continues to act as a primary agent of water privatization. The Bank has demonstrated a long-term ideological commitment to promoting corporate control of public services and assets in the categorical belief that such privatization will lead to greater efficiency. In addition, the Bank has a more direct interest in expanding the private water market. As an equity investor in transnational water corporations, the Bank's own profits are tied to the financial success of its private sector clients -- who anticipate windfall profits from controlling water services and products. The Bank's own financial investments in the world's leading water privateers create a fundamental conflict of interest, giving corporate interests undue primacy in Bank decisions, and giving a self-serving aspect to its work with governments, where the same institution continues to charge hefty fees for advising and arranging deals that benefit its own portfolio of corporations.

Critics like independent urban water expert Vinay Baindur describe this new alignment between the World Bank, the government and the private sector as "a tripartite partnership to expand the stake for profits."

For targeted nations and others to receive support from the WRG, projects must "provide for at least one partner from the private sector as part of its operations." Such conditionalities have long been attached to Bank loans, dictating to countries an approach to water management often at odds with a basic democratic interest in guaranteeing water as a human right to all its citizens.


Corporate Accountability International identified this development shone a public spotlight on the very secretive initiative. The organization runs a campaign challenging corporate control of water, and is calling on the IFC to divest from water, including ceasing support of endeavors like the WRG.

________________________________________

[i] From the full presentation Brabeck-Letmathe delivered at last year's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. Copy of the full presentation is available upon request.

________________________________________

Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 34 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights. Through its Campaign Challenging Corporate Control of Water, Corporate Accountability International is playing a leadership role in the global movement to secure the human right to water, and people's access to water; prevent corporate control of water; preserve and protect water resources and systems for the public good; and preserve water resources as an ecological trust.

US: Illinois Nuclear Power Plant Loses Power … Vents Nuclear Steam

© Robert Ray/AP
Illinois Nuclear Power Plant Loses Power … Vents Nuclear Steam - Washington Blog

Illinois Nuclear Plant Vents Tritium


Exelon nuclear power company – the largest nuclear operator in the U.S. – issued a press release today stating:
Operators at Byron Generating Station declared an Unusual Event at 10:18 a.m.CT, due to the loss of offsite power and Unit 2 coming offline.

The nuclear facility’s diesel generators activated as designed to provide power to the facility when there is a loss of offsite power to the facility. The facility remains in a safe condition. Station engineering experts are looking into the cause of the loss of offsite power.

Byron Station is designed to depressurize to reduce steam pressure as part of the many redundant safety systems
built into the facility. Steam from the unit is released through safety relief valves that are specifically designed for this purpose. The steam, which will evaporate quickly, contained expected levels of tritium. Local residents may see or hear the steam release in progress, which will continue throughout the day until the unit cools down. These types of station releases are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There is no health or safety impact to workers or to the public from the release, and Exelon Nuclear has notified all appropriate local, state and federal officials of the Unusual Event.
***
Tritium is produced in greater concentrations in commercial nuclear reactors and is routinely discharged into the environment under strictregulatory guidelines.
Indeed, an AP investigation found that 75 percent of American nuclear plants leak tritium. And many plants leak tritium into local water supplies surpassing drinking water standards.

While nuclear apologists pretend that “small” releases – like at Three Mile Island – cause no health effects, this is contrary to scientific evidence. See this and this.

And there have been so many accidents recently, that it makes one wonder whether we have the maturity to operate such inherently dangerous systems.  See this, this, this and this.

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Even When Operating Normally, Nuclear Plants Vent Radioactive Materials Which Cause Cancer


It’s not just tritium, and it’s not just accidents.

While the nuclear industry and its lapdogs in the nuclear agencies say that living near a nuclear plant is safe, numerous scientific studies have found that – even when operating normally – the plants cause cancer.

For example, numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies from around the world show that the incidence of leukemia is much higher for people living near nuclear plants. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

Monday, January 30, 2012

US: Carcinogenic Dioxin Set Free: EPA Kneels to Monsanto and Big Agriculture

Carcinogenic Dioxin Set Free: EPA Kneels to Monsanto and Big Agriculture by Cassandra Anderson

Dioxin is the most toxic man-made chemical known regarding damage to health and the environment.  The EPA has withheld a study about dioxin for decades in order to protect large industries that produce dioxin while manufacturing herbicides and pesticides, plastics, chlorine, bleach, and other chemicals.  In addition, industrialized agriculture (Big Ag) has pressured the EPA to withhold the report because dioxin becomes concentrated in animal products like meat, eggs and dairy.

The non-cancer portion of the EPA report is due out by the end of January 2012, with the cancer portion to follow at some unspecified date.

Dioxin is an umbrella term for a class of super toxic chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, liver disease, immune system damage and many other health problems.  There is no safe ‘threshold’ dose as our bodies have zero defense against dioxin, according to health consultant Jonathan Campbell.
Dioxin has a half life of over 100 years in the environment when it is below the surface or dumped in waterways.

Prior Dioxin Contamination


Monsanto and Dow Chemical were the largest producers of 2,4,5-T herbicide that created dioxin as a byproduct and was used as an agricultural herbicide before the 1950′s.  Monsanto, Dow Chemical and other makers of dioxin-contaminated herbicide 2,4,5-T produced 50 MILLION pounds of these chemicals per year for agricultural uses in the US!  Since 1947, more than 300 million pounds of dioxin laden 2,4,5-T was sprayed on more than 400 MILLION acres of US land, mostly on farms and agricultural property.
The 2,4,5-T dioxin-containing herbicide was later combined with 2,4-D to create Agent Orange for chemical warfare against Viet Nam.

Both Monsanto and Dow Chemical were aware, since the 1950′s, that German company Boeringer was able to produce herbicide 2,4,5-T without any detectable dioxin by slow cooking the chemical for about 12 hours.  But Monsanto and Dow ignored this information and cooked their 2,4,5-T batches in 45 minutes or less, thus contaminating the product with dioxin — presumably for higher profits.

Monsanto and Dow Chemical were also aware that dioxin caused health problems. Monsanto and Dow Chemical would go bankrupt if they were actually held accountable for their crimes against humanity and the environment. The herbicide 2,4,5-T was phased out in the late 1970′s.

Current Sources of Dioxin Emissions


While dioxin may be produced naturally by forest fires and volcanoes, man-made dioxin emissions are the primary source of contamination.  Dioxin has risen dramatically due to an increase in manufacturing of chlorinated organic chemicals (weed killers) and plastics.  Here is a list of some of the top sources of dioxin emissions:
  •  Plastics made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This includes products ranging from shampoo bottles to wall paper to plumbing pipes.
  • Incinerating trash (municipal city burning and individual household backyard burning).
  • Herbicides (weed killers) and pesticides that contain chlorine.
  • Paper bleaching — most paper products are contaminated.
  • Medical waste mass-burn incinerators.
After reading this list, it becomes apparent that many industries, especially chlorine manufacturers, herbicide makers, plastic producers and paper mills would be severely affected if dioxin were properly regulated or eliminated.  Industrialized farming (Big Ag) also has a big stake in the EPA’s upcoming report because the largest source of human absorption of dioxin is through consuming animal products like meat, dairy and eggs.

View a chart of the top 30 dioxin polluters in the US.

EPA Drags Its Feet in Reporting on Dioxin Hazards


The EPA has delayed its Exposure and Human Health Reassessment of TCDD (dioxin) report for decades due to pressure from Big Industry.  For example, President Bush delayed the report in a “last-minute gift” to the chemical industry just before leaving office.  Another example is when the EPA and the Chlorine Institute (later the Chlorine Chemistry Council of the American Chemistry Council) were chummy co-sponsors of a conference on dioxin in 1990, indicating that the industry may have undue influence over the EPA.

The EPA has a history of shielding Monsanto from accountability.  In the town of Nitro, West Virginia, the Big Monsanto plant produced dioxin-contaminated 2,4,5-T herbicide from 1948 to 1969 and they burned the waste in open pit fires.  The EPA has conducted study after study but has failed to force remediation that could cost Monsanto as much as $4 billion.

How To Avoid Dioxin


•  A vegan diet is recommended, especially for nursing mothers.  Beef and pork contain the highest concentrations of dioxin.  Freshwater fish is unsafe.
•  Use only oxygen bleach products instead of chlorine bleach
•  Use unbleached paper products
•  Avoid herbicides (weed killers) and pesticides that contain chlorine

Read the rest of health consultant Jonathan Campbell’s suggestions to avoid dioxin.

Conclusion


It is obvious that collusion between our taxpayer-funded government and Big Industry has resulted in the death and disease of untold numbers of Americans.  The criminals of Big Industry will not stop producing dioxin-laced products until they are held accountable.

Hemp can replace many plastics: it is natural, biodegradable, uses little water and no herbicides or pesticides are necessary.  Ron Paul is an outspoken critic of the failed war on drugs that prevents the use of industrial hemp.  Industrial hemp should not be classified as a drug.

Primary Information Sources:

http://www.southernstudies.org/2012/01/dumping-dioxin-on-dixie.html
Agent Orange Products Liability Litigation (page 43)
http://www.cqs.com/edioxin.htm
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/01/food-industry-concerned-about-epas-dioxin-limits/

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Local: University of South Florida study finds more sick fish in oil spill area than rest of Gulf of Mexico

University of South Florida study finds more sick fish in oil spill area than rest of Gulf of Mexico by Craig Pittman

© Steve Murawski, USF - Darla Cameron/Times
A USF survey of the Gulf of Mexico last summer found
more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than
in other areas. The dots show areas where fish with
skin lesions were found.

A government-funded survey of the entire Gulf of Mexico last summer found more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than anywhere else, according to the top University of South Florida scientist in charge of the project.

"The area that has the highest frequency of fish diseases is the area where the oil spill was," said Steve Murawski, an oceanographer who previously served as the chief fisheries scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

That doesn't necessarily mean the red snapper and other fish with nasty skin lesions were victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he said. That same area has lots of oil rigs, leaky pipelines and even natural oil vents in the sea floor that could be the source of any contamination that has affected the fish.

"Even if the disease is from oil," he said, "it's another step to show it's from the oil spill."

But the USF findings, announced at a scientific conference this month, have been hailed as a big step forward by researchers from other institutions pursuing similar studies.

"We still are seeing sick fish offshore and the USF survey confirmed our findings of 2 to 5 percent of red snapper being affected," James Cowan, an oceanography professor at Louisiana State University, said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

In addition, Cowan said, laboratory studies of those sick fish "are beginning to trickle out that show that chronic exposure to oil and dispersant causes everything from impacts to the genome to compromised immune systems. Similar findings ... are being found in shrimps and crabs in the same locations."

Read more..


Saturday, January 28, 2012

World: 'Playing God’: What could possibly go wrong?


Jan. 26, 2012: Playing God’: What could possibly go wrong? - ANH

Key Points

  1. A recent UK television documentary covered some of the latest developments in genetic research
  2. The programme was almost wholly positive about the new technology, even though it has many serious potential consequences for humans and the planet
  3. Presenter of the documentary, Dr Adam Rutherford, is a confirmed skeptic and atheist, as well as an evolutionary biologist
  4. We ask whether such beliefs are particularly compatible with the programme’s mechanical view of the world
  5. ANH-Intl believes that genetic manipulation is going too far, too fast – is a total freeze on experimentation the only answer?


A recent BBC Horizon documentary on UK television, entitled Playing God, introduced us to spider-goats, yeast diesel, ‘bio-hacking’ by children and radiation-fighting bacterial implants. Sound interesting to you? If so, although the show itself isn’t available online any more, we strongly recommend that you listen to the accompanying podcast. Both documentary and podcast are hosted by Adam Rutherford, PhD, an evolutionary biologist turned, “Science broadcaster and professional geek”.

And if you feel a little unsettled afterwards, you’re definitely not alone.


Nature: a program in need of upgrading


Playing God
takes us on a jaunty trip through areas of genetic research that are no longer consigned to the Twilight Zone. They even have a soundbite descriptor: ‘synthetic biology’, the main belief of which is that anything nature can do, humans can do better by harnessing the power of science.

Read entire report..

Friday, January 27, 2012

World: Cell Phones, EMF Negatively Altering Important Regions of the Brain

Cell Phones, EMF Negatively Altering Important Regions of the Brain by Mike Barrett

A new Greek scientific study has demonstrated how frequency electromagnetic fields, namely cell phones, portable phones, WiFi, and wireless computer equipment, alter important protein changes in the brains of animals. Exposure to electromagnetic frequencies is the result of our advancing technologies, but it is important to study these effects so people know exactly what they’re dealing with in order to take the necessary precautionary measures.

Cell Phones, EMF Negatively Altering Important Regions of the Brain


The study, entitled “Brain proteome response following whole body exposure of mice to mobile phone or wireless DECT base radiation,” was published in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. Important areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, cerebellum, and frontal lobe are regions responsible for learning, memory, and other functions. These areas are negatively impacted by microwave radiation, even at levels below the safety guidelines put in place by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation protection.

Researchers found that 143 proteins in the brain were negatively impacted by radio frequency radiation over a period of 8 months. A total of 3 hours of cell phone exposure were simulated over the 8 month time period, and the results showed that many neural function related proteins’ functional relationship changed the for worse.

It is known that short term exposure of microwaves exuded from a cell phone, depending on how far the antenna is from the head, can penetrate as much as 1 1/2 inches into the brain, but this study focuses more on the long term effects and how EMF impacts specific brain proteins. This provides new evidence of the potential relationship between EMF and health complications stemming from EMF such as headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, and even tumors and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Another study conducted by a Russian team of researchers also showed that EMF and cell phones cause significant long-term cognitive decline in children. It may be time for parents to re-determine if young children should really be using these devices with growing bodies and developing brains.

A number of foreign countries are attempting to adopt precautionary protocols to limit cell phone use in an attempt to mitigate the number of adverse effects they have on human health. In 2011, the WHO/IARC released a report stating that cell phone radiation may have a carcinogenic effect on humans. In fact, the World Health Organization actually said that cell phones are in the same cancer-causing category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

World: Monsanto’s Infertility-Linked Roundup Found in All Urine Samples Tested

© naturalsociety.com
Monsanto’s Infertility-Linked Roundup Found in All Urine Samples Tested by Mike Barrett

A recent study conducted by a German university found very high concentrations of Glyphosate, a carcinogenic chemical found in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, in all urine samples tested. The amount of glyphosate found in the urine was staggering, with each sample containing concentrations at 5 to 20-fold the limit established for drinking water. This is just one more piece of evidence that herbicides are, at the very least, being sprayed out of control.


Glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup Impacting Global Health


This news comes only one month after it was found that glyphosate, contained in Monsanto’s Roundup, is contaminating the groundwater in the areas in which it is used. What does this mean? It means that toxic glyphosate is now polluting the world’s drinking water through the widespread contamination of aquifers, wells and springs. The recent reports of glyphosate showing up in all urine samples only enhances these past findings.

Monsanto continues to make the claim that their Roundup products are completely safe for both animals and humans. However many environmentalists, scientists , activists, and even doctors say otherwise. Glyphosate radically affects the metabolism of plants in a negative way. It is a systemic poison preventing the formation of essential amino acids, leading to weakened plants which ultimately die from it.

A formula seems to have been made to not only ruin the agricultural system, but also compromise the health of millions of people worldwide. With the invent of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, resistant superweeds are taking over farmland and public health is being attacked. As it turns out, glyphosate is also leaving behind its residue on Roundup Ready crops, causing further potential concern for public health. Glyphosate is even contributing to escalating rates of mental illness and obesity through the depletion of beneficial gut flora that directly regulates these functions. But it certainly doesn’t stop there.

Researchers tested roundup on mature male rats at a concentration range between 1 and 10,000 parts per million (ppm), and found that within 1 to 48 hours of exposure, testicular cells of the mature rats were either damaged or killed. Even at a concentration of 1 ppm, the Roundup was able to affect the test subjects by decreasing their testosterone concentrations by as much as 35%.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Governments Worldwide Raise Acceptable Radiation Levels Based Upon Politics … Not Science

© n/a
Governments Worldwide Raise Acceptable Radiation Levels Based Upon Politics … Not Science - Washington Blog

Instead of Protecting People, Governments Cover Up by Raising “Safe” Radiation Levels


American
and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation.

Neither American nor Canadian authorities are testing fish for radioactivity.

Does that mean that we don’t have to worry about radiation from Fukushima?

It is a little hard to know, given that what is deemed a “safe level” of radiation is determined by politics … rather than science. For example, current safety standards are based on the ridiculous assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s – and that radioactive particles ingested into the body cause no more damage than radiation hitting the outside of the body.

And one of the main advisors to the Japanese government on Fukushima announced:
If you smile, the radiation will not affect you.
(Here’s the video.)

In the real world, however, even low doses of radiation can cause cancer. Moreover, small particles of radiation – called “internal emitters” – which get inside the body are much more dangerous than general exposures to radiation. See this and this. And radiation affects small children much more than full-grown adults.

Read more..

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"The Atomic States of America": Exploring a Nation's Struggle With Nuclear Power.

"The Atomic States of America": Exploring a Nation's Struggle With Nuclear Power. Pt 1 of 2 - Democracy Now



democracynow.org - Nuclear power has drawn wide support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republicans and Democrats advancing a pro-nuclear agenda even in the aftermath of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. Democracy Now! speaks with Sheena Joyce, co-director of the new documentary, "The Atomic States of America," which is featured at 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We're also joined by Kelly McMasters, whose book, "Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town," inspired the film. Joyce says, "We used Kelly's book and the town of Shirley as a kind of a springboard into the issue to talk to people really on both sides, but mainly to speak to the people in reactor communities... We wanted to seek an intelligent dialogue."

Watch part 2 of 2: http://youtu.be/sQH7SHcbxCo

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Monday, January 23, 2012

World: Our Last Chance for Freedom; Their Last Chance for Global Dominion

Our Last Chance for Freedom; Their Last Chance for Global Dominion by Tony Cartalucci

 And our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical branch-point in the history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition, or greed, or stupidity we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But, we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe, and to carry us to the stars. -- Carl Sagan, astronomer



Indeed, we teeter on a precipice upon which technology and human innovation will either free us from chains that have collectively bound us since the beginning of civilization, or enslave us within a global scientific dictatorship that will crush us so completely we will cease to even be human.

The global elite know this, while the average person snickers and giggles at what is perhaps the greatest struggle with the most at stake ever in human history. As the global elite mobilize the summation of their power and wealth on a daily basis, many of us do nothing at all to assert ourselves or our claim to our own destiny. Worse yet, many of us witlessly pay into a system that seeks to supplant individual human sovereignty and achieve the ultimate culmination of megalomaniacal dominion over the human race.

 A fear stalks the global elite, however -- the fear of inevitable technological breakthroughs slipping from their monopolistic grip and into the hands of the people. Technology like file sharing, blogging, open source software, and cheaper hardware have allowed the masses to challenge, and in some ways dismantle the structure of domination the global elite are attempting to build over free humanity.

Continue reading..

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

US: The Radioactive Waste Crisis

© Taipei Times
The Radioactive Waste Crisis by Linda Pentz Gunter

 A Mountain Almost 70 Years High

Before the month of January is out, the US Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future will unveil the result of its two year-long investigation into what to do with the accumulated radioactive waste at the country's nuclear power plants. By this year's end, that waste will constitute a mountain 70 years high, with the first cupful generated on December 2, 1942 at the Fermi lab not far from Chicago when scientists first created a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

There remains no viable solution for either the management or certainly the "disposal" of nuclear waste. Yet, the one recommendation that will not be contained in the DOE report is to stop making any more of it. While a child would never be allowed to continue piling up toys in his or her room indefinitely, failing to tidy up the mess, the nuclear industry continues to be permitted to manufacture some of the world's most toxic detritus without a cleanup plan.

A sneak peak last July at the Commission's draft report confirms that no new miracles are to be unveiled this month. Its preferred "solution" appears to be "centralized interim" storage, an allegedly temporary but potentially permanent parking lot dumpsite for highly radioactive waste that, based on past practices, will likely be targeted for an Indian reservation or a poor community of color.

"Centralized interim" storage sites for the country's irradiated reactor fuel rods could easily become permanent if no suitable geological repository site is found. It will mean transporting the waste from reactors predominantly located east of the Mississippi to a likely more remote, western location. And these wastes would then have to be moved again, transported past potentially 50 million homes, en route to a "permanent" dump site or for reprocessing.

Reprocessing, a chemical separation used extensively in France, creates enormous amounts of additional radioactive wastes that are discharged into the air and sea and a plutonium stockpile that could be diverted for nuclear weapons use. The Commission looks unlikely to recommend reprocessing for now but the DOE is still willing to squander tens to hundreds of millions of dollars a year of taxpayers' money on research and development.

Read more..

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Local: BP Oil Disaster a Distant Memory for Oil Companies Eyeing the Gulf Again

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig ablaze.
(photo: U.S. Coast Guard)
BP Oil Disaster a Distant Memory for Oil Companies Eyeing the Gulf Again - CommonDreams.org


While energy companies continue profits, residents struggle with health effects of Deepwater Horizon disaster


BP's Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe in 2010 appears to be a distant memory for oil companies drilling in the Gulf today.

 The Houston Chronicle reports:
"We are quite optimistic on the outlook for the Gulf of Mexico," Schlumberger [the world's largest provider of oil field services and equipment] CEO Paal Kibsgaard said during a conference call with analysts. "We should be at pre-Macondo levels for deep-water drilling rigs by the latter part of 2012."
BP itself seems to be unaffected by the disaster. The Telegraph reports:
Bob Dudley said that BP had in fact had its best year in three decades for gaining new exploration acreage last year – despite the damage the company's reputation took after the spill and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010.
Yet the effects of the BP oil disaster are far from over for many of the residents in the area. Facing South reports:
A new video from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network features first-hand accounts from mothers and grandmothers about the chronic health problems afflicting an alarming number of children who live in the Gulf. Watch it here:



A month ago Shell was forced to shut down a rig in the Gulf of Mexico after a leak.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Busted: Monsanto Abusing Illegal Workers in ‘Slave-Like’ Conditions

Busted: Monsanto Abusing Illegal Workers in ‘Slave-Like’ Conditions by Anthony Gucciardi

Monsanto’s disregard for human health is evidenced by their hazardous GMO crops and herbicides, but a shocking new report has revealed the company’s illegal ‘slave-like’ working conditions. Forcing slave workers to work the cornfields for 14 hours per day and buy their food (most likely GMO) at highly-inflated prices from the company store, Monsanto has been running these slave rings for an unknown number of years.

What’s more is the company not only ‘hired’ all of the workers illegally, but prevented them from leaving the farm premises and withheld their salaries. The information came to light following a raid by Argentina’s tax agency known as AFIP, where it was revealed that the farmhands were being forced to work almost twice as long as legally permissible and given no compensation. Amazingly, AFIP says that it will hold Monsanto responsible for the slave-like conditions.

Unsurprisingly, Monsanto failed to respond to the story.

Monsanto: A Corrupt History of Inhumane Abuse


This is not the first time Monsanto has abused workers, or even farmers dedicated to using the company’s GM seeds. In fact, Monsanto’s previous crimes against the human race are arguably even more despicable. In 2008 it was revealed that thousands of farmers were committing suicide after using GMO crops. Due to failing harvests and inflated prices that bankrupt the poor farmers, they began to kill themselves oftentimes drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto supplied them with.

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Monsanto conned the farmers into buying GM seeds, which were heavily overpriced and performed far worse than traditional seeds. Monsanto charged the struggling farmers £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, while they could have purchased 1,000 times more traditional seeds for the same amount. The result was career-ending harvests that led to mass suicide.
‘We are ruined now,’ said the dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’
Village after village, families were crushed by Monsanto’s tainted seeds. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that these GMO crops are now consumed across the globe despite a review of 19 studies announcing that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys. Of course GMO crops not only destroy human health, but devastate the environment.

Thanks to Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, farms across the world are experiencing the emergence of herbicide-resistant superweeds. The heavily resistant weeds have an immunity to glyphosate, an herbicide that Roundup contains. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The appearance of these superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.

Following current trends, genetically modified food products will makeup the majority of the future food supply if a change is not made. Statistics show how GMO crops and ingredients have skyrocketed in even the past few years.


Nations Take a Stand


France, Hungary, and Peru are a few of the countries that have decided to take a stand against Monsanto. Hungary actually went as far as to destroy 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar.  Peru has also taken a stand for health freedom, passing a monumental 10 year ban on genetically modified foods. Amazingly, Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization. The known and unknown dangers of GMO crops seem to supersede even executive-level governmental directives.

Through spreading information and speaking out about Monsanto’s crimes against humanity, real change can occur. Even small amounts of activism can result in major geopolitical change.

Explore More:
  1. GMO Giant Monsanto Will Soon Be Allowed To Police Itself
  2. Monsanto Admittedly Influences Colorado GMO Ban, Launches Phony ‘GMO Co-Existence’ Protests
  3. USDA Steps Back and Gives Monsanto More Power Over GMO Seeds
  4. Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields
  5. India Slams Monsanto with Unprecedented ‘Biopiracy’ Charges
  6. France Takes Stand Against GMOs, Monsanto Despite End of Ban

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Research: Thyroid cancer, fracking and nuclear power

Thyroid cancer, fracking and nuclear power by Rady Ananda

An Activist Post Special Report

Thyroid cancer cases have more than doubled since 1997 in the United States, while deadly industrial practices that contaminate groundwater with radiation and other carcinogens are also rising.

New information released by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that 56,460 people will develop thyroid cancer in 2012 and 1,780 will die from it.

That’s up from 16,000 thyroid cancer cases in 1997 – a whopping 253% increase in fifteen years, while the US population went up only 18%.

From 1980 to 1996, thyroid cancer increased nearly 300%, while the population increased by (again) 18%.

Most thyroid cancers don’t develop for 10-30 years after radiation exposure, but the monstrous spike in thyroid cancer from 1980-2012 is only partly the result of Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 (TMI).

Pennsylvania, with its nine nuclear reactors, does have the highest incidence of thyroid cancer across nearly all demographics among 45* states, reports epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, of the Radiation and Public Health Project. In 2009, he analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control’s national survey of thyroid cancer incidence for the years 2001-2005 and compared it with proximity to nuclear power stations, finding:

[M]ost U.S. counties with the highest thyroid cancer incidence are in a contiguous area of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and southern New York. Exposure to radioactive iodine emissions from 16 nuclear power reactors within a 90 mile radius in this area … are likely a cause of rising incidence rates.

TMI also can’t explain why the thyroid cancer rate for the four counties flanking Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York was 66% above the national rate in 2001-2005.

Other, more subtle sources may also be contributing to hiked thyroid cancer rates, like leaking nuclear power plants and hydraulic fracturing, both of which contaminate air, soil and groundwater with radiation and other nasty chemicals.

Indeed, remarking on this, Mangano (who recently co-authored a controversial study with toxicologist Janette Sherman suggesting a link between Fukushima fallout and US cancer deaths numbering from 14,000 to 20,000) said:


From 1970-1993, Indian Point released 17.50 curies of airborne I-131 and particulates…. [That] amount exceeded the official total of 14.20 curies released from the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. In 2007, officials that operate the Indian Point plant reported levels of I-131 in the local air, water, and milk, each of which is a potential vector for ingestion.

Iodine-131, or I-131, is a radioactive isotope produced by nuclear fission. 

Fracking a ‘Dirty Bomb’

Radiation isn’t released into the environment only via nuclear plants and bombs. Geologist Tracy Bank found that fracking mobilizes rock-bound uranium, posing a further radiation risk to our groundwater. She presented her findings at the American Geological Society meeting in Denver last November.

Because of some 65 hazardous chemicals used in fracking operations, former industry insider, James Northrup, calls it a “dirty bomb.” With 30 years of experience as an independent oil and gas producer, he explains:

The volume of fluid in a hydrofrack can exceed three million gallons, or almost 24 million pounds of fluid, about the same weight as 7,500 automobiles. The fracking fluid contains chemicals that would be illegal to use in warfare under the rules of the Geneva Convention. This all adds up to a massive explosion of a ‘dirty bomb’ underground.

What’s underground seeps into our groundwater.

Thomas House and his wife have become ill since New Dominion, LLC began drilling for oil and gas behind their home in Wellston, Oklahoma. He’s tested the water for barium and strontium, and indoor air quality for BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and styrenes).

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Though none of the levels exceed EPA standards, he insists the drilling operations are causing their illness.

“We have been getting sick from headaches, nose bleeds, rashes, vomiting, burning eyes, and breathing problems for the last year,” he told me.

House is reliant on the Veterans Administration for health care, but it refuses to test him for BTEX poisoning. 

Radioactive Drinking Water

Though scientists have associated thyroid cancer with water supplies contaminated by nitrates (another knock against industrial agriculture), it is usually indicative of radiation poisoning, as the thyroid sucks up iodine – radioactive or not. Those with not enough iodine in their diets are more susceptible to absorbing I-131.

NCI says that the main sources of radiation exposure are X-rays, nuclear fallout and radiated food and drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control reports that women are three times more susceptible to thyroid cancer than men, with white women being most susceptible. Rather than noticing any symptoms, most often, they discover a lump on their neck.

The good news is that 95 percent of thyroid cancer is successfully treated.

The bad news is that radiation exposure is also coming from our food and water supply.

For over a year, a Houston news station has been reporting on a governmental cover-up of radiation in drinking water. KHOU says that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under-reported radioactive contaminants in drinking water for over 20 years.

But not just Texas authorities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also low-balled radiation stats by simply not looking for specific radioactive elements, which can be more common and more dangerous than, say, Strontium-90.

Eventually, Texas shut down two of Houston’s water wells shown to be radioactive.

From an investigative series by the Associated Press last year, we learned that 75 percent of US nuclear power plants leak radioactive materials. Documents from 48 of 65 commercial nuclear power sites showed that radioactive tritium leaked – often into groundwater – in concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard, and sometimes at hundreds of times the limit. 

Nukes, Fracking and Earthquakes

The global fallout from Fukushima’s nuclear meltdown means our food and water absorbed radioactive fallout. But, we also see an increasing number of earthquakes from fracking operations that further threaten nuclear plants, which are old, leaking and “brittle” (AP’s word).

Information compiled by Treehugger last year showed that of the 104 commercial nuclear power plants and 34 nuclear research stations, many sit in seismically active locations.


 Though earthquake risk in Texas is considered very low, last October, Atascosa County saw a rare 4.8 magnitude quake centered 130 miles from the South Texas Project nuclear power plant. The temblor originated in Fashing Field, a highly productive oil and gas field. One company, Momentum Oil and Gas, is producing 3.8 million cubic feet of gas per day from the field.

Many states that normally had very low seismicity have seen an incredible upswing in earthquake frequency with the advent of hydraulic fracturing, which the feds have long known about. As far back as 1966, federal authorities suspected the fracking-earthquake link so strongly that they shut down Rocky Mountain Arsenal’s 12,000-foot injection well after several quakes rattled Denver.

In 1981, researchers suggested that mobile pressure dynamics could explain epicenters some ways distant from such wells.

Ohio recently shut down two fracking waste injection wells after a New Year’s Eve earthquake, and last November New York imposed a statewide moratorium. Ohio has two nuclear power plants (both on Lake Erie) and New York has five, operating six reactors.

Ohio’s 5.0 earthquake on January 31, 1986 that rocked eleven states and Ontario, Canada was centered 11 miles south of the Perry Nuclear Plant. Researchers suggested the quake was induced by fracking, writing in 1988:

Three deep waste disposal wells are currently operating within 15 km of the epicentral region and have been responsible for the injection of nearly 1.2 billion liters of fluid at pressures reaching 112 bars above ambient at a nominal depth of 1.8 km. Estimates of stress inferred from commercial hydrofracturing measurements suggest that the state of stress in northeastern Ohio is close to the theoretical threshold for failure along favorably oriented, preexisting fractures.

Not only preexisting fractures, but new ones created by the massive surge in earthquake swarms also present a risk. As modern horizontal fracturing techniques are employed, earthquake frequency goes up.

From 1900-1970, Arkansas experienced 60 earthquakes. After fracking operations picked up in the mid-1970s, that number jumped exponentially. Per the Advanced National Seismic System, in 2010 alone, Arkansas felt over 700 earthquakes; in 2011, it endured over 800.

The number of quakes in 2010 and ’11 represents a 2,400% increase over the number of quakes in the first 70 years of the 20th century, before horizontal fracking began. With that spike in frequency, is it any wonder that a new fault has opened up in Arkansas? Geologists say the new fault shows a history of 7+ magnitude earthquakes.

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Though the 2001-2005 thyroid incidence data reveals that Arkansas has the lowest incidence of thyroid cancer of all 45 states surveyed, that may change should the new fault become seismically active and damage the state’s two 40-year-old nuclear reactors.

Of note, Arkansas’ nuclear reactors are run by Entergy, which operates eleven others including 40-year-old Vermont Yankee (strontium-90 found in nearby fish last August) and New York’s nearly 40-year-old Indian Point (failed inspection and sought over 100 safety exemptions last year).

Pennsylvania is another strong fracking state, vulnerable to earthquakes originating within or outside its borders. It also houses nine nuclear reactors at five locations. A swarm of small earthquakes occurred near Dillsburg from 2008 until early 2011, reports the state’s Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Dillsburg is 16 miles from Three Mile Island, which still operates one nuclear reactor.

Last August, most of the east coast felt a 5.8 magnitude quake whose epicenter was just 11 miles from two reactors at the North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia. Both 30-year-old reactors had to be shut down. RT reports:


The odds of a quake exceeding a magnitude of 5.5 occurring in central Virginia are so slim that Dominion Power determined only around six quakes of that size would occur in the area over the next 10,000 years. 

Protect Your Water Supply

Radioactive particles damage bones, DNA and tissue, including the thyroid. Water softeners, ion exchange, carbon filters or reverse osmosis water-treatment systems can be installed in the home to reduce concentration levels. The National Sanitation Foundation certifies various products for efficacy in reducing or eliminating particular contaminants.

To reduce or eliminate radiation from food and water, see this compilation of articles recommending various techniques, including washing your vegetables in bentonite clay.

A more proactive way to protect the water supply is to decommission nuclear power plants and ban hydraulic fracturing, lest your hometown ranks among the 10 Most Radioactive Places on Earth.

*When the CDC surveyed states for thyroid cancer in its landmark 2001-2005 study, it neglected to publish data for Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Rady Ananda is an investigative reporter and researcher in the areas of health, environment, politics, and civil liberties.  Her two websites, Food Freedom and COTO Report are essential reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

US: Ecology and the Pathology of Capitalism

©freakingnews.com
Ecology and the Pathology of Capitalism by Charles Sullivan

Contrary to everything we have been taught, there is no actual United States of America. The U.S. is an occupied territory that could more accurately be described as the Corporate States of America. If the geopolitical states are united, the people are not. We are a nation divided by ideology and by social and economic class. The U.S. is not a democracy, and it never was. The systems of power do not allow the voice of working people to be heard or their collective will to be acted upon.

Despite the subterfuge of freedom and democracy, the rights of corporations have consistently superseded the sovereign rights of the individual and those of the community. Labor history and a litany of environmental catastrophes bear this out. For instance, everywhere one looks government agencies “ostensibly created to protect the public welfare” are allowing hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus shale, even when it poisons municipal drinking water and causes incalculable harm to the environment.

Our diverse forests are commodified, measured in board feet to be clear-cut and off-shored at prodigious bargain rates, like a liquidation sale. World class biodiversity is yielding to desertification and monoculture. Money changes hands. The few are getting rich at the expense of the many. The world and the people who live in it are treated like products to be exploited. We are told that nothing is sacred, save for the dollar and markets.

Nevertheless, it is an inescapable fact that no human being, including corporate CEOs and members of Congress, can live without potable water or breathable air. We are literally sacrificing the Earth’s life support systems and mortgaging the future, while attempting to satiate the greed of a few grotesquely wealthy individuals. Through lifelong indoctrination, Americans are persuaded that self-interested greed is in their best interest.

The rich and powerful have decreed that corporate profits “the Holy Grail of American capitalism” are more precious than life itself. The remorseless people in power are without conscience. History confirms that sociopaths do not hesitate to take what they want from their unsuspecting victims by any and all means.

But surely, even among Friedmanites, it must be allowed that some things cannot be commodified or bought and sold. For instance, clean air and potable water are the birthright of every living organism. These are necessities that belong to the commons; they cannot ethically be privately owned. In contrast to this assertion, two edicts of modern capitalism are private ownership and the commodification of workers and nature.

Capitalism, and the market fundamentalism that is associated with it, has stripped bare the Earth’s biodiversity and substituted a world of commodities in its stead. What we see and think we know is not real. It is the product of marketing and perception managers — a hologram.

Read more..

Encyclopedia: Toxic Couple Relationships

© jennifermaingallery.com
"Becoming" by Jennifer Main
Toxic Couple Relationships by Dr. Athena Staik

"If only they knew how to calm their mind and body, to keep the frontal cortex of their brain engaged, and their heart courageous, to stop their body-mind from taking over, and executing desperate measures - thinking their survival is at stake."

 PART 1 - Five Protective Neural Patterns & Role Scripts

Love that turns toxic is neither healthy nor genuine, though the intentions of each partner are often well-meaning.

A couple relationship can be described as toxic when, due to intense emotional reactivity and defensive interaction patterns, it no longer promotes, and instead harms the individual mental, emotional, and physical, well-being and growth of each partner. The relationship is increasingly off balance, a factor that is affected by, and directly affects the individual inner sense of balance, health and safety of each partner.

In contrast, genuine love is an empathic connection that recognizes the authentic other and self as separate and unique beings, even encouraging the individuality of each as essential to the formation of healthy intimacy in a relationship.

Neurological findings in the last decades show that we are wired for certain early protective behaviors in life, and that these become habitual responses automatically activated throughout life, often without conscious awareness. Intense emotional experiences in childhood can alter the structure of the brain and have enduring effects in adulthood.

The part of the brain that is in control of habits, known as the subconscious mind, does not let go of old neural patterns easily, particularly ones woven into the fabric of the brain during childhood experiences associated with survival fears, i.e., rejection or abandonment. Their prevalence makes sense. Who among us has not experienced fears of rejection, inadequacy or abandonment, and the like, in childhood?

Perhaps nowhere is the toxicity of these pre-conditioned response-sets more intensely evident, however, than the couple relationship. The misguided attempts of each partner are driven, subconsciously, by early emotional command neural patterns, or early survival-love maps, that automatically activate to protect each partner from the other, in pattern very similar to one each adapted in early childhood.

Read complete essay..


Comment: I highly recommend this essay to all who experience relationships and it offers great insight covering a broad spectrum for those who dream of social harmony. Thanks doc.

Research: New scientific study links bee deaths to pesticides

© joemohrtoons.com
New scientific study links bee deaths to pesticides by Tara Green

(NaturalNews) A new study by Purdue University scientists seems to confirm what environmentalists have long suspected -- that the massive bee die-offs known as Colony Collapse Disorder are linked to pesticides. Specifically, researchers are pointing to a category of pesticide marketed by the German chemical company Bayer.

Multiple methods of poisoning bees


The Purdue research indicates bee deaths are connected to neonicotinoid pesticides, which use a synthetic derivative of nicotine. These chemicals are applied as a coating to corn and soybean seeds prior to planting. They are then absorbed by the plant's vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar. Farmers have planted millions of acres of farmland with neonic-treated seeds since 2003.

Bayer has defended its pesticide in the past against charges of contributing to bee die-offs. The company says that bees do not forage much on corn pollen and therefore only trace amounts of neonic-laced pollen will return to hives. The multinational chemical corporation claims the tiny doses of the pesticide bees come into contact with cannot have an impact on hive health. So far, the EPA has supported Bayer's claims.

The Purdue study, however, shows that Bayer's products are far more lethal to bees than the company wants regulatory agencies and farmers to believe. The researchers found that, contrary to Bayer's claim, "maize pollen was frequently collected by foraging honey bees while it was available: maize pollen comprised over 50% of the pollen collected by bees, by volume, in 10 of 20 samples."

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The scientists also identified unsuspected methods by which bees are exposed to the pesticide. Mechanical seed planters blow off a powdery waste as they move through fields. This talc prevents the polymers used to bind the chemicals to the seeds from clogging up seed coating machine and the seed planters. But this exhaust is dangerous to bees. The talc can contain up to 700,000 times the bee's lethal dosage of neonicotinoid so that foraging bees coming into contact with it are killed. These initial population losses begin to weaken the hives.

As the talc exhaust settles on nearby plants and into the soil, there is a long-term danger to bees. Dandelions near treated crop fields can harbor the poison. Bees gather nectar and pollen from the yellow flowers will bring the neonicotinoids back to the hive. Although these small levels of the pesticide do not kill the bees, their immune systems become compromised, leaving hives vulnerable to other threats. Also, developing bees are affected by exposure to pesticides through stored pollen. The cascading effects of sub-lethal doses can potentially devastate an entire hive. Scientists found neonicotinoid pesticides in every sample of dead and dying bees as well as in pollen the bees collected and brought back to the hives.

Money before honey


US regulatory agencies follow a policy of relying on manufacturer data to determine the safety of a substance. Although a leaked document in 2010 revealed that EPA scientists found Bayer's research on its neonic pesticides to be suspect, the agency has not acted to stop the sale of these products.

Bayer has profited to the tune of over one billion dollars from its two neonic products imidacloprid and clothianidin. Given Bayer's deep pockets, it seems unlikely the feds will take action any time in the near future -- particularly in a presidential election year. This means Colony Collapse Disorder is likely to continue to devastate bee populations, leaving reverberating effects on the environment for generations to come.

After this type of insecticides were banned in France and Germany, bee populations began to rise again. If you want to join with other citizens in urging decisionmakers to ban bee-killing pesticides, you can sign a petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/save_the_bees/?cl=914333688&v=8201

Sources:

http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/01/purdue-study-implicates-bayer-insecticide-bee-die-offs

http://news.discovery.com/earth/insecticide-bee-collapse-120111.html

http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2012/120111KrupkeBees.html

http://www.panna.org/blog/banner-week-bee-science-zombie-flies-poisonous-planter-exhaust

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0029268?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+plosone%2FPlantBiology+%28PLoS+ONE+Alerts%3A+Plant+Biology%29