Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Worldwide FRACKING Nightmare: Natural gas extraction causing frequent quakes, property damage in northern Netherlands

The Worldwide FRACKING Nightmare: Natural gas extraction causing frequent quakes, property damage in northern Netherlands
Mar 31, 2013 | Raw Story | Agence France-Presse

Farmers living atop Europe’s largest gas field in the isolated northern Netherlands are angry at increasingly frequent earthquakes caused by extraction.

Freezing winds and a glimmer of cold light pass through the three-foot by two-inch (one metre by five centimetre) crack in Martha and Jan Bos’s stable in Middelstum, a few miles (kilometres) from the Netherlands’ most northern point.

Their farmhouse, built in the early 20th century, has around 15 large cracks and part of the floor inside the entrance has dropped around three inches.

“We’ve been living here for 25 years and for the last five years we’ve had regular earthquakes,” Martha Bos, 48, told AFP.

Her husband Jan, wearing traditional wooden clogs, is tending to the sheep: “We don’t want to leave, we’ve built our lives here but we’re really very afraid of a big earthquake,” she said.

Their home in the northern province of Groningen is built on top of the biggest gas field in the EU, which gives the Netherlands — the world’s 10th-biggest gas producer — two-thirds of its gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In February of this year alone, four earthquakes above magnitude 2 have hit the region.

The relatively low magnitude is nevertheless felt more because the quakes happen just two miles (three kilometres) beneath the ground, experts say.

The earthquakes are a “natural” result of huge pockets of air left underground by massive gas extraction.

But the earthquakes have become increasingly frequent after the Netherlands more than doubled its gas production since 2000, hitting 50 billion cubic metres annually, according to a report published earlier this year by Jan de Jong, the inspector general of the State Mines Surveillance (SoDM) service.

There were 110 earthquakes here between 1991 and 2000, SoDM figures say, but the frequency has risen more than six-fold to hit 500 between 2000 and 2013.

The Dutch Oil Company (NAM), a joint enterprise between energy giants Shell and Exxon, which is in charge of the extraction admits that the earthquakes are linked to its activities and has set up a 100-million-euro (130-million-dollar) compensation fund.

“That’s good, but it’s not enough,” said Corina Jansen, who heads the 1,000-member Groninger Bodem Beweging (Groningen Earth Movement), set up because of “the tumult created by the earthquakes.

“Some damage is paid for but besides the fact that the procedure taks a long time, old cases of cracks or land subsidence are not covered,” Jansen told AFP.

“People have had it up to here and if necessary we won’t be afraid to go to the courts to defend everyone’s safety,” she said.

The SoDM’s De Jong wrote that if gas extraction carries on at its current rate, there’s a one in 50 chance that an earthquake of 4.5 magnitude or higher will hit the area in the next 12 months.

“It’s not only fear, but also the uncertainty and anger at not being listened to by the government,” said Marijke Bronskema, who lives in the nearby village of Usquert, among the flat fertile fields of the northern Netherlands.

Almost every window or doorframe of her one-storey house has been weakened by a network of cracks about six inches long.

“We’re supposed to sell the house because my husband just lost his job, and we had just renovated everything, but who would want to buy a house where you’re regularly hit by earthquakes?” she said, accusing the government of not listening.

The Dutch government has reaped around 250 billion euros from its gas fields since the 1960s, according to Finance Ministry figures.

In 2011, the state raked 12 billion euros of gas cash into its coffers, representing around 8 percent of state revenues, and that is set to hit 14 billion euros when 2012 figures are released.

Without the gas, the Netherlands’ deficit would have been around 6.2 percent in 2011, or around the same as that of crisis-hit Cyprus.

Faced with the huge challenges of the eurozone crisis, the damage and worry in the north of the country, far from the capital Amsterdam and seat of government at The Hague, don’t carry much weight, according to the area’s inhabitants.

“This is a real cash cow for the government,” said Bronskema.

In his report, De Jong suggested the government reduce its gas extraction “as quickly as possible to avoid a big earthquake,” but his call was quickly rejected by Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp as “economic irresponsibility”.

“I need further information,” he said during a debate on the subject in parliament in January during which some opposition parties accused the government of putting national economic interest ahead of citizens’ wellbeing.

“On an economic level, it makes no sense to take a decision immediately,” Kamp said.

The NAM, which failed to respond to repeated interview requests from AFP, wrote to De Jong to say it would “take measures which according to us are reasonable to reduce as much as possible the damage caused by the earthquakes” but declined to reduce gas extraction.

Meanwhile, some Dutch northerners are more stoical than others.

“Economic interests are important and that’s how it is,” said mechanic Elze Schollema.

“But it’s true that if I had a choice, I’d rather the earthquakes stopped,” he said.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Discovery of Schumann Resonance

The Discovery of Schumann Resonance
Mar 29, 2013 | Earth Breathing | Ingrid P. Dickenson

When we consider that the ionosphere surrounding our planet is electrically positive charged whilst the earth’s surface carries a negative charge, we must conclude that this amounts to a prevailing electrical tension within the earth/ionosphere cavity. This tension is discharged when thunderstorms develop in this cavity. In physics two concentric electrically charged balls, one placed inside the other, are called ball condensers, or capacitors.

The inside of the ionosphere layer is used in wireless information transfer to bounce off radio waves emitted by transmitters on the earth’s surface. In this way the information can be transferred over large distances.
The physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla was the first to carry out wireless energy experiments at Colorado Springs, USA, which produced such powerful electrical tensions that they resulted in the creation of artificial lightning. These lightning flashes also produced radio waves. Due to their extremely low frequency these waves could penetrate the earth without resistance and thereby Tesla discovered the resonance frequency of the earth. Unfortunately Tesla was before his time and his discoveries were not taken seriously.


It wasn’t until more than half a century later in 1952, when the German physicist Professor W.O.Schumann of the Technical University of Munich predicted that there are electromagnetic standing waves in the atmosphere, within the cavity formed by the surface of the earth and the ionosphere. This came about by Schumann teaching his students about the physics of electricity. During a lesson about ball condensers he asked them to calculate the frequency between the inner and outer ball, meaning the earth and ionosphere layer. They came up with a calculation of 10Hz.

 James Russell’s excellent film production trailer (above), in full (below)

This was confirmed in 1954 when measurements by Schumann and König detected resonances at a main frequency of 7.83 Hz. In the years following this discovery, several investigators worldwide have researched “Schumann resonance” and a number of properties and characteristics have now been established.

Schumann Resonance Properties 

The spherical earth-ionosphere cavity is created by the conductive surface of the earth and the outer boundary of the ionosphere, separated by non-conducting air. Electromagnetic impulses are generated by electrical discharges such as lightning, the main excitation source, and spread laterally into the cavity. Lightning discharges have a “high-frequency component”, involving frequencies between 1 kHz and 30 kHz, followed by a “low-frequency component” consisting of waves and frequencies below 2 kHz and gradually increasing amplitude. This produces electromagnetic waves in the very low frequency (VLF) and extremely low frequency (ELF) ranges.

 ELF waves at 3 Hz to 300 Hz are propagated as more or less strongly attenuated waves in the space between the earth and the ionosphere, which provides a waveguide for the signals. Certain wavelengths circumnavigate the earth with little attenuation due to the fact that standing waves are formed within the cavity, the circumference of which is “approximately equal to the wavelength which an electromagnetic wave with a frequency of about 7.8 Hz would have in free space” (König, 1979, p34). It is the waves of this frequency and its harmonics at 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hz that form Schumann Resonances.

On a global scale the total resonant spectrum is the effect of the global lightning worldwide which is estimated at an average of 100 strokes per second. Since there is a concentration of lightning activity during the afternoon in Southeast Asia, Africa and America there are Schumann Resonance amplitude peaks at 10, 16 and 22 UT (universal time), with activity over America around 22 UT being dominant.

There are also +/-0.5 Hz variations in the center frequency, caused by a diurnal increase in ionization of the ionosphere as a result of radiation from the sun, having the effect of reducing the height of the ionosphere at 12 local time. Another factor which influences center frequency is sunspot activity.

A Tuning Fork for Life 

Although the existence of the Schumann Resonance is an established scientific fact, there are very few scientists who are aware of the importance of this frequency as a tuning fork for Life. I propose that it is not merely a phenomenon caused by lightning in the atmosphere, but a very important electromagnetic standing wave, acting as background frequency and influencing biological oscillators within the mammalian brain.

Natural electromagnetic processes in the environment (I-IV),
human EEG readings in comparison. Schumann
oscillations (I) and the EEG a-rhythm, as well as locally
conditioned fluctuations of the electric field (II) and
the EEG d-rhythm, show a noticable similarity in
their temporal variation. From König, 1979.

At the time when Schumann published his research results in the journal `Technische Physik’, Dr Ankermueller, a physician, immediately made the connection between the Schumann resonance and the alpha rhythm of brainwaves. He found the thought of the earth having the same natural resonance as the brain very exciting and contacted Professor Schumann, who in turn asked a doctorate candidate to look into this phenomenon. This candidate was Herbert König who became Schumann’s successor at Munich University. König demonstrated a correlation between Schumann Resonances and brain rhythms. He compared human EEG recordings with natural electromagnetic fields of the environment (1979) and found that the main frequency produced by Schumann oscillations is very close to the frequency of alpha rhythms.

Dr König carried out further measurements of Schumann resonance and eventually arrived at a frequency of exactly 7.83 Hz, which is even more interesting, as this frequency is one which applies to mammals. For instance, septal driving of the hippocampal rhythm in rats has been found to have a minimum threshold at 7.7 Hz (Gray, 1982).

This relationship has been explored by a number of investigators. For further information see Natural electromagnetic fields research on the h.e.s.e. project website.

One of the foremost researchers in this field is Dr Wolfgang Ludwig, who has been investigating Schumann Resonance and its place in nature for many years.

The Research of Dr Wolfgang Ludwig

 It was Dr Wolfgang Ludwig who carried out further measurements whilst writing his thesis on the Schumann Resonance. His aim was to measure what kind of natural signals actually exist in a healthy environment. He became aware of the fact that due to manmade electromagnetic signals within the atmosphere, the accurate measurement of Schumann waves was almost impossible in the city. For this reason he decided to take measurements out at sea where, due to good electrical conductivity, the Schumann waves are stronger. He than had the idea to take underground measurements in mines. Here he recognized that the magnetic field of the earth fluctuated too. This was also investigated by Dr Robert Becker in his book `Electricity and Vitality: The spark of Life’.

Dr Ludwig came up with an excellent idea to take accurate measurements. When taking measurements at the earth’s surface, the reading is the result of two signals, one coming from above and one from below. But subsequently taking measurements below ground makes it possible to come up with exact readings by separating the two.


During his research Dr Ludwig came across the ancient Chinese teachings which state that Man needs two environmental signals: the YANG (masculine) signal from above and the YIN (feminine) signal from below. This description fits the relatively strong signal of the Schumann wave surrounding our planet being YANG and the weaker geomagnetic waves coming from below, from within the planet, being the YIN signal

The Chinese teachings state that to achieve perfect health, both signals must be in balance. Dr Ludwig found that this is indeed the case. He writes in his book `Informative Medizin’ that research carried out by E.Jacobi at the University of Duesseldorf showed that the one sided use of Schumann (YANG) wave simulation without the geomagnetic (YIN) signal caused serious health problems. On the other hand, the absence of Schumann waves creates a similar situation. Professor R.Wever from the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology in Erling-Andechs, built an underground bunker which completely screened out magnetic fields. Student volunteers lived there for four weeks in this hermetically sealed environment. Professor Wever noted that the student’s circadian rhythms diverged and that they suffered emotional distress and migraine headaches. As they were young and healthy, no serious health conditions arose, which would not have been the case with older people or people with a compromised immune system. After only a brief exposure to 7.8 Hz (the very frequency which had been screened out), the volunteers health stabilized again.

The same complaints were reported by the first astronauts and cosmonauts, who, out in space, also were no longer exposed to the Schumann waves. Now modern spacecrafts are said to contain a device which simulates the Schumann waves.

All the aforesaid points to the fact that the ancient teachings are correct. Mankind depends on two subtle environmental signals, the Yin from below and the Yang from above.

The urgent need for further research into the Schumann Resonance Effect

 Although Schumann Resonance could easily be confirmed by measurements at the time of its discovery, it is no longer so obvious due to our atmosphere being filled with manmade radiation noise at different frequencies. This is almost drowning out the natural signals – signals that have been there through aeons of evolution. It is possible that these signals act like a natural tuning fork, not just for the biological oscillators of the brain, but for all processes of life.

With the advent of new wireless technology, in particular microwaves pulsed at frequencies close to Schumann Resonance as in mobile telephony, another threat is emerging. We may be creating an environment that is literally `out of tune’ with Nature itself. And it is at this point that there is an urgent need for us to understand how everything alive responds to the most subtle changes in magnetic and electromagnetic fields surrounding us. For instance, we need to examine the possible interaction between magnetite crystals within cells and manmade magnetic fields in the environment.

There is a great need for independent research into the bio-compatibility between natural and manmade signals. By linking together the potential importance of Schumann Resonance and the dangers posed by manmade pulsed frequencies, it will become apparent that unless we find a way to use bio-compatible signals to power new technology, we may expose all life to dangers previously not encountered. We may have to pay a high price for this shortsightedness. Serious attention must now be paid to the possible biological role of standing waves in the atmosphere, so that we do not overlook the importance of oscillations in nature that may be central to consciousness and life itself.

The late Dr Neil Cherry, a fierce opponent of the frequencies used in mobile telephony, has also focused on the importance of Schumann Resonance in his publications ‘Schumann Resonances, a plausible biophysical mechanism for the human health effects of Solar/Geomagnetic Activity’ (2002), and ‘Human intelligence: The brain, an electromagnetic system synchronised by the Schumann Resonance signal’ (2003).

See also Sedona Anomalies

If organisms do in fact respond to, and perhaps depend on, electromagnetic fields as weak as that produced by Schumann resonance at 0.22-1.12 mV/m (from Cherry, 2002), this is of major significance for the development of present and future wireless technologies. Funding for research projects investigating the Schumann Resonance Effect is now being sought and scientists who support this call for research are invited to contact by e-mail.

About the Author  

Ingrid P. Dickenson is the author of her by email at


Gray, J.A., 1982, The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-Hippocampal System. Clarendon Press.

Cherry, N.J., 2002, Schumann Resonances, a plausible biophysical mechanism for the human health effects of Solar/Geomagnetic Activity, Natural Hazards 26(3), p 279-331
Cherry, N.J. 2003, Human intelligence: The brain, an electromagnetic system synchronised by the Schumann Resonance signal, Medical Hypotheses 60(60):843-4
Cherry,N. Cell phone radiation poses a serious biological and health risk

König, H.L Bioinformation – Electrophysical Aspects. In:
Electromagnetic Bioinformation, Popp, F.A., Becker,G.,
König, H.L.Peschka,W.,(eds.) Urban und Schwarzenberg
p 25, 1979
Ludwig,W `Informative Medizin’
VGM Verlag fuer Ganzheitsmedizin, Essen, 1999
Schumann, W.O.Ueber die strahlungslosen Eigenschwingungen einer leitenden Kugel, die von einer Luftschicht und einer Ionosphaerenhuelle umgeben ist, Z.Naturforsch. 7a, 149, 1952
Schumann W.O.

König, H. Ueber die Beobachtung von Atmospherics bei geringsten Frequenzen, Naturwissenschaften, 41, 183, 1954

Earth could be heading for another Ice Age

Earth could be heading for another Ice Age
Mar 30, 2013 | Phenomenica

As Britain prepares to shiver for at least another month, a leading scientist has predicted that the world was heading for another Ice Age.

Incredibly, British Summer Time officially starts Saturday but millions of brassed off Brits pining for warmth will have to endure freezing temperatures and biting winds until May.

The misery will continue with daytime temperatures struggling to reach a bracing 5C (41F). The only ray of sunshine, forecasters said, is that it will stay dry.

As if the outlook wasn’t bleak enough already, meteorologists believe the shivering start to 2013 has been the coldest in more than 200 years.

More worryingly, the combination of sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow experienced across much of the country recently could be the prelude to a new Ice Age that will begin next year and last for 200 years, the Daily Express reported.

Russian scientist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, of the St Petersburg Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, painted the Doomsday scenario saying the recent inclement weather simply proved we were heading towards a frozen planet.

Dr Abdussamatov believes Earth was on an “unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop”.

The last big freeze, known as the Little Ice Age, was between 1650 and 1850.

“The last global decrease of temperature (the most cold phase of the Little Ice Age) was observed in Europe, North America and Greenland,” he said.

“All channels in the Netherlands were frozen, glaciers were on the advance in Greenland and people were forced to leave their settlements, inhabited for several centuries.

“The Thames river in London and Seine in Paris were frozen over every year. Humanity has always been prospering during the warm periods and suffering during the cold ones. The climate has never been and will never be stable,” he added.

The miserable weather since the turn of the year has been blamed on two episodes of high pressure. A poorly positioned jet stream means ice cold temperatures and the continuing risk of snow showers across the north and east.

Almost all of the UK can expect a continuation of night frost, which will turn severe at times.

April is forecast to be a drier than average month in the north and east, slightly wetter to the south and west but it is expected to be one of the oldest on record.


Friday, March 29, 2013

EPA Loophole Allows Flood of Pesticides to Litter US Ecosystems

Critics say the EPA should not have approved
clothianidin, a potent pesticide that belongs
to a family of substances linked to the current
widespread die-off of global honeybee
populations. (Credit: Bob Peterson/cc by 2.0)
EPA Loophole Allows Flood of Pesticides to Litter US Ecosystems
Mar 29, 2013 | Common Dreams | Carey L. Biron

Approval process for toxic substance “grievously flawed” says NRDC 

WASHINGTON - An environment group here is warning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a key government regulator, may have been haphazardly approving thousands of pesticides for decades, some of which pose risks to both human and environmental health.

 Following on two years of research, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a watchdog group, has found that as much as 65 percent of the 16,000 pesticides the EPA approved between the late 1970s and 2010 were greenlighted through a hasty and potentially incomplete process.

The public is under the false impression that if a substance has been registered by the EPA, it has gone through a thorough government review.
NRDC says these 11,000 substances were approved using a loophole in strict regulatory legislation known as “conditional registration”, created by the U.S. Congress to be used only in very limited circumstances.
“Properly used, conditionally registering a new pesticide provides an important benefit in special situations such as allowing new pesticides on the market to address a public health emergency,” a new NRDC report, released Wednesday, states.

“However, improper use of conditional registration means that scores of untested or undertested pesticides may litter the market, potentially threatening human health."

The EPA told IPS it has yet to fully review the new report. However, the agency says it has found that “the data required pursuant to conditional registrations have been submitted and reviewed in a timely fashion. EPA’s review of the data confirms that products initially registered on a conditional basis are not posing unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.”

Congress created the conditional registration option in the late 1970s, a half-decade after it passed stringent new regulatory legislation covering pesticides, in response to industry complaints that the new testing requirements were too onerous and were gumming up the development process.

As such, lawmakers said they would allow the use of conditional registration if a developer claimed to have insufficient time to come up with the data required, and if the temporary granting of approval would not have an overly negative environmental impact.

Both of these requirements – temporary use and follow-up data – remain central components for the use of conditional registration. And yet, according to the NRDC findings, not only has the EPA appeared to massively over-rely on this loophole, but it has also failed to adhere to these additional reporting requirements.


“The EPA’s database is seriously disorganized. Once a pesticide is conditionally registered, the EPA does not have a system to track the data it had requested as a condition of the registration,” the report states.
“In addition, the agency does not follow whether those data were received, what the data show regarding the pesticide’s potential for harm or other aspects of the registration decision, or what, if any, changes were made in response to the received data.”

Coupled with the fact that the EPA also offers no public comment period on its decisions, alongside a broader lack of transparency, NRDC is calling the approvals process “grievously flawed” and accusing the agency of an “abdication” of its duties towards public health and the environment.

“The big problem is we have to take EPA at their word, because what the public has access to doesn’t offer us some critical information,” Mae Wu, an NRDC attorney and co-author of the new report, told IPS.

“It sounds as though we’re just talking about a messy database here, but we’ve identified at least two real-life examples of pesticides that went through this process that, had it been more open, EPA might have realised shouldn’t be approved.”

Those two substances are nanosilver, tiny pieces of silver used for their antibacterial properties, including in infants’ toys; and clothianidin, a potent pesticide that belongs to a family of substances linked to the current widespread die-off of global honeybee populations.

To a certain extent, the EPA appears to implicitly agree with at least some of these concerns. In an internal report last year, the agency admitted to administrative mistakes regarding the use of conditional registration in around 95 percent of cases.

In an e-mail to IPS, the EPA says it is currently working “on improving record-keeping and have developed a plan to update the IT systems to address that need.”

Further, after being privately briefed on the NRDC initial findings in 2010, the agency’s use of conditional registration appears to have plummeted, to about 20 percent of pesticides approved in 2011 and 2012. “It really did seem to open their eyes to a problem they didn’t realise they had,” Wu says.

Birds and bees

EPA has stated that it would be moving up a required periodic re-appraisal of approved pesticides. But even under the new timeframe it is not expected to rule on clothianidin until 2018.

Since the introduction of this substance’s broader family of pesticides (known as neonicotinoids), in the mid-2000s, mass honeybee deaths have threatened the huge food crop industry – worth some 15 billion dollars a year here in the United States alone – that depends on their pollination.

With U.S. beekeepers currently reporting hive losses of up to 50 percent, last week a group of beekeepers, environmental and consumer groups formally accused the EPA of failing to protect bees from harmful pesticides. (Also last week, a major new report was published detailing the harmful effect of neonicotinoids on the U.S. bird population.)

The lawsuit follows an EPA decision last year to deny a petition to halt the use of clothianidin – despite the agency itself having rejected research on the substance’s safety by its producer, Bayer.

“The EPA denied the suspension request by essentially concluding that there was no ‘imminent hazard’, but it didn’t review a majority of the new studies that further support the charge of imminent hazard,” Sylvia Wu, a staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, told IPS.

“We believe that EPA has been abusing the conditional registration process. The public is under the false impression that if a substance has been registered by the EPA, it has gone through a thorough government review. The reality is that a lot of these substances are being widely applied even though EPA has been aware of potential harms.”

Elsewhere, while the European Union earlier this month failed to ban three neonicotinoids pesticides thought to be endangering European bees, the European Commission is reportedly continuing to pursue action on one unless a compromise with industry is reached.

On Thursday, the two largest neonicotinoid producers, Bayer and Syngenta, proposed a package plan in the E.U. that would include greater monitoring of neonicotinoids, more research on bee viruses, and planting of more flowers around the edges of agricultural fields.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

GM crops versus agricultural biodiversity - new paper

GM crops versus agricultural biodiversity - new paper
Mar 28, 2013 | GM Watch

Feeding the world: genetically modified crops versus agricultural biodiversity

Agronomy for Sustainable Development, March 2013

Sven-Erik Jacobsen,
Marten Sørensen,
Søren Marcus Pedersen,
Jacob Weiner


The growing demand for food poses major challenges to humankind. We have to safeguard both biodiversity and arable land for future agricultural food production, and we need to protect genetic diversity to safeguard ecosystem resilience. We must produce more food with less input, while deploying every effort to minimize risk. Agricultural sustainability is no longer optional but mandatory. There is still an on-going debate among researchers and in the media on the best strategy to keep pace with global population growth and increasing food demand. One strategy favors the use of genetically modified (GM) crops, while another strategy focuses on agricultural biodiversity. Here, we discuss two obstacles to sustainable agriculture solutions. The first obstacle is the claim that genetically modified crops are necessary if we are to secure food production within the next decades. This claim has no scientific support, but is rather a reflection of corporate interests. The second obstacle is the resultant shortage of research funds for agrobiodiversity solutions in comparison with funding for research in genetic modification of crops. Favoring biodiversity does not exclude any future biotechnological contributions, but favoring biotechnology threatens future biodiversity resources. An objective review of current knowledge places GM crops far down the list of potential solutions in the coming decades. We conclude that much of the research funding currently available for the development of GM crops would be much better spent in other research areas of plant science, e.g., nutrition, policy research, governance, and solutions close to local market conditions if the goal is to provide sufficient food for the world's growing population in a sustainable way.

More than 250 employees axed from Washington nuclear power facility leaking 1,000 gallons per year of radioactive waste

More than 250 employees axed from Washington nuclear power facility leaking 1,000 gallons per year of radioactive waste
Mar 28, 2013 | Natural News | Jonathan Benson

Federal budget cuts have prompted the layoff of at least 235 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southern Washington, a massive 586-square-mile storage site for radioactive waste located near Richland. But according to the Associated Press (AP), aging underground storage tanks at the facility are estimated to be leaking some 1,000 gallons of radioactive waste into the ground every single year, a serious environmental threat that has many questioning why the government would cut funding for this important mitigation project.

As reported by, the cuts were made as part of sequestration by the federal government, or the automatic budget trimming of certain federal programs, and include primarily union positions. But some 27 non-union positions were also cut, and several thousand other contracted workers could also lose their jobs soon as a result of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) contractors cutting back on the work they assign to their subcontractors.

The Hanford facility was originally created by the federal government back in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop and build the atomic bomb, according to the Associated Press. But after the facility stopped producing nuclear weapons after the Cold War, Hanford became the nation's largest and most complex environmental clean-up project, costing American taxpayers roughly $2 billion a year, or one-third of the country's entire budget for nuclear clean-up efforts nationwide.

"You can't furlough 20 percent of the workforce without having an impact on the work," Gary Petersen from the Tri-City Development Council is quoted as saying to AP. "There's no question that the longer you delay clean-up, the longer it's going to take and the higher the cost."

More than a dozen Hanford nuclear waste storage tanks believed to be leaking 

The situation hardly bodes well in light of more recent discoveries that at least 1,000 gallons of nuclear waste are seeping from several of the underground nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford. Early assessments have pinned six of the 177 underground tanks, most of which are now dangerously antiquated, as having leaks. But a more recent report from explains that DOE may have identified at least 14 others that are also seeping nuclear waste.

In a letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Daniel Poneman from DOE warned that the furloughs and layoffs could severely delay progress towards fixing the leaking tanks -- according to the latest estimates, nearly 5,000 Hanford employees, both permanent and contracted, are being either laid off or put on temporary furlough. Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber are both recommending that new storage tanks be installed to stop the leaks and prevent further problems.

"It all illustrates more and more clearly that we need to get the waste treatment plant completed and operating," said Ken Niles, director of the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) division that manages clean-up efforts at Hanford, about now-delayed efforts to construct a $13.4 billion waste treatment plant that will be used to safely store nuclear waste at the site.

"We do need some additional storage capacity," he added, "and we certainly need more money than Congress is at the moment willing to spend on Hanford."

Sources for this article include:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Big Oil Controls the World | Interview with Greg Palast

Big Oil Controls the World | Interview with Greg Palast
Mar 27, 2013 | breakingtheset

Abby Martin talks to investigative journalist, Greg Palast, about US interests in a post-Chavez Venezuela, and how 'Big Oil' could shape future policy.

Utility Companies - The New Terrorists?

Utility Companies - The New Terrorists?
Mar 27, 2013 | minivanjack

This is an account of a family of eight in Los Angeles who, because they refused to endure illness caused by a digital electric meter, lost their electric service. As incredible as it seems, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power prefers to deny electric service to children and families rather than allow a safe and lawful electric meter to be installed.

Largest Oklahoma Earthquake Linked to Oil Extraction Wastewater

Map of shaking intensity from the
magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit
Oklahoma on Nov. 6, 2011.

CREDIT: usgs
Largest Oklahoma Earthquake Linked to Oil Extraction Wastewater
Mar 27, 2013 | Live Science | Tia Ghose

The largest-ever recorded quake in Oklahoma was caused by the injection of wastewater, a byproduct of oil extraction, into the ground, new research confirms.

On Nov. 6, 2011, a series of earthquakes, including a 5.6-magnitude temblor, struck the rural town of Prague, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City, crumbling homes in the area and damaging a federal highway. The quake could be felt as far away as Milwaukee.

"We don't normally feel earthquakes, it was shocking," said study co-author Katie Keranen, a seismologist at Oklahoma University.

Now, a new study published March 26 in the journal Geology confirms that wastewater injected into the ground after oil extraction caused the quake. The quake is the largest wastewater-induced earthquake ever recorded. The wastewater was from traditional drilling, not the controversial hydraulic fracturing method.

Ever since wastewater injection was linked to a series of small quakes around Denver, Colo., in the 1960s, scientists have known that oil extraction could trigger temblors. When oil is extracted from the ground, lots of water, dubbed "wastewater," comes up as well. So oil companies sometimes pump the water back into the well, where it fills porous spaces within the rocks, Keranen said.

"It's almost a lubrication, it can push the fault apart," Keranen told LiveScience. "When you do that you lower the stress that's holding a fault together and you can cause it to slip."

But in the past, scientist thought the resulting quakes would be fairly benign: most of these triggered temblors are typically in the 3s and 4s on the Richter scale, Keranen said.

In theory, however, these man-made earthquakes could get even bigger — an especially worrisome possibility if they occur near population centers. [Image Gallery: Deadly Earthquakes]

"We don't know what the maximum size of earthquakes could be that we could trigger from disposal," Keranen said.

Whether or not an area is prone to such tremblers depends on the permeability of the local rock: If water can't seep through the rock easily, meaning it's not very permeable, pressure builds up and makes an earthquake more likely. Earthquake risk also depends on the presence and angle of faults in relation to the water-injection site.

Though the process that caused the Oklahoma earthquake didn't involve hydraulic fracturing, fracking often involves injecting spent water into the ground, which carries the same risks. In fracking, water, sand and other substances are injected into a well under high pressure in order to fracture the rock, creating fissures that help natural gas flow out.

There hasn't been much oil extraction on the East Coast, but as fracking takes off in areas like Pennsylvania, the risk of big quakes in the region needs to be considered, Keranen said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter @tiaghose. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Choosing Nature Will Only Advance Human Societies

Why Choosing Nature Will Only Advance Human Societies
Mar 26, 2013 | Prevent Disease | Marco Torres

We all have our opinions, principles and philosophies about life and we must be very careful about infringing on those of others. Every person should be able to follow that inner voice without external influences constantly telling them they're wrong. However there is one choice we could all make right now that would transform our world to benefit all living things and the Earth itself.

© Prevent Disease
 That is, choosing nature and each other above all else. So many of us have been deschooled on this concept that it may take decades for the scales to tip so that we all start respecting our world again.

By embracing Mother Nature, we adopt the foundation of all she has to offer. We understand that she is never mistaken and will always do the right thing for Earth's inhabitants.

Overpopulation: The Myth To End All Myths

That means things like overpopulation, lack of resources, lack of food, lack of water or lack of anything else coming from the Earth is not only a myth but is impossible reality. Man-made depopulation of the earth is a ridiculous concept since Mother Nature knows exactly what to do with the planet and its inhabitants to maintain balance at anytime.

Thomas Malthus argued that population growth, by the poor, inevitably outstrips food production and leads to a massive retaliation from Mother Nature (i.e., Malthusian Controls). His infamous "Malthusian Controls" which are taught to every first year sociology student, has become a cornerstone belief for many modern day globalists who advocate population control by any means necessary. This radical and dangerous idea promotes the unproven notion that the poor deserve to die because there are too many of them for the Earth to adequately support. Malthus believed that higher wages and welfare should be withheld from the great unwashed because he believed that these two factors would allow the poor to survive and exponentially breed, thus compounding the overpopulation problem.

Overpopulation is a radical and dangerous myth promoted by elite and international societies. The unproven notion, as Malthus believed, that higher wages and welfare should be withheld from the great unwashed because he believed that these two factors would allow the poor to survive and exponentially breed, thus compounding the overpopulation problem.

Overpopulation is a misnomer. A problem that exists only in dramatically erroneous theories that are not mathematically based. It is simply one of the most flawed concepts right up there with global warming. The theories are based on myths, not science or accurate statistical correlations or causation principles.

The theories can never be translated to any practical applications because they cannot exist in a close system designed to maintain homeostatic balance. This is what Mother Earth does for us. She balances our entire planet with all the resources required to maintain the status quo. Should that population exceed the necessary resources, the Earth will naturally purge as all macro-ecosystems do.

Those who believe in overpopulation have an enormous lack of understanding the natural tendencies of the Earth. This stems from myths, misinformation and a very ignorant approach to complex ecosystems of all sizes.

The Flawed Arguments of Naturalistic Fallacy
There have been many opponents to the branch of ethics dealing with embracing nature. Some such as British philosopher G. E. Moore who labeled the philosophy naturalistic fallacy. He argued it would be fallacious to explain that which is good reductively, in terms of natural properties such as "pleasant" or "desirable". Others insist that those who appeal to nature claim that what is natural is inherently good or right, and that what is unnatural is inherently bad or wrong.

For example, many proponents of naturalistic fallacy will state that Earth has many toxic elements so all that is natural is not good. Aluminum is one of the Earth's most natural abundant elements, yet putting it in your coffee may cause a host of health problems. While this is true, this is not how human beings naturally interact with aluminum. The argument stated is that aluminum is natural and bad for the human body so there goes the argument that all within nature is good right? Anything can be taken out of context and those advocates of naturalistic fallacy are experts at it.

The most common group of minerals in the Earth's crust are aluminosilicates and native aluminum metal can only be found in the interiors of certain volcanoes. So there is a big difference between this type of interaction of metal with human populations and those that, for instance, are injected inside an infant through a vaccine.

Another example would be uranium which is naturally in very low concentrations of a few parts per million in soil and water. All natural uranium also has emitting alpha particles, but to achieve toxic levels found in concentrated man-made energy sources, man must intervene.

In their natural states, these elements do not cause problems. When corporations or governments find themselves taking these elements out of their natural states, we find ourselves polluting the environment and our bodies.

These examples demonstrate a dichotomy in the level of understanding of how nature interacts with humans and how humans interact with nature. Many misunderstandings relate to these very extreme views in an attempt to interpret what the majority of those who choose nature subscribe to. Although some groups who subscribe to natural principles have these views, the majority do not.

The Big Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge may empower people to change the way the world works, but if they don't really know how it works, how useful is that knowledge? Wisdom begins with the dawn of reason, an understanding of the knowledge and principles whereby we may know the true meaning of things.

A better method of comparatively defining a belief system based on natural principles is this difference between knowledge and wisdom. It has little to do with choosing what is "right" or "good" or "pleasant", and more about following the wisdom this planet has attained through billions of years of existence. We must agree to learn from the wisdom attained by Mother Earth and all our ancestors who have had solutions to many of the problems we face today.

Our existence on the planet is a mere speck compared to how long the Earth has been here. Plants and herbs are some of the oldest living things on the planet. How can a tobacco or a therapeutic cannabis plant be harmful to a human being? Unless a plant contains poisons, and is not meant to be ingested, it will never harm the human body. Only our instincts and the wisdom from our elders and ancestral populations can tell us that, not our governments.

The problem is, we have our schools, institutions and employers telling us to ignore these instincts and instead encourage us to follow what we have been programmed to learned, rather than what we know deep down inside is true.

We have such an overwhelming disconnection from nature, that we simply lack the comprehension that everything...absolutely everything is cyclical. Our environment, community, municipality, region, state, nation and world are only reflections of ourselves. If you want to understand what is happening to the Earth, look in the mirror.

As many as 60% of patients with symptoms that they attribute to environmental pollutants are in fact suffering from psychological problems. That doesn't mean these problems don't exist, but we can't correct them from a position of victim/perpetrator because it only enforces that reality.

Change starts first from within. It is impossible to accept the beauty of nature and others if we cannot accept our own beauty and the inherent goodness in all living things.

It's time to stop blaming everybody else and start taking responsibility for our collective consciousness. We did it all together...the good and the bad.

Choosing Nature Above All Else

What does this mean? It means respecting your wisdom, your instincts and a respect for all living things.

It means:

- Choosing real food that grows from the earth, meaning eating dead processed foods is not within your consideration.

- Choosing health, not disease, meaning you reject all artificial substances or mechanisms that claim to heal the human body. You are your best Doctor and nobody knows your body better than you do. Food is your medicine and only you can heal yourself.

- Choosing the human body's wisdom in all its perfection, meaning you don't alter the body, inject it or harm it with anything and you extend that to all others.

- Choosing love, respect, kindness and support, meaning we help others even if they don't help us because we know everything is cyclical and we will reap the benefits regardless of timing.

- Choosing life, not death, meaning we don't kill anything unless we absolutely must to survive. That doesn't mean we can't eat plants or animals or anything else. If we need these things to survive, we do what is necessary within our instincts and the harmony that exists between ourselves and our environment.

- Choosing the Earth, meaning Mother Nature knows best. She will never lead us down the wrong path. She will always be there for us, providing us sustenance, shelter, and every single resource we will ever need to survive.

Have a little faith in Mother Nature. She knows what she's doing and she will do what she needs to, regardless of human emotions, actions or events. She has a tiny bit of experience on this planet. Give her the respect she deserves.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Gang Green or Fresh Greens?

Gang Green or Fresh Greens?
Mar 26, 2013 | The People's Voice | Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

The environmental movement is at a critical crossroads. Younger and bolder environmental groups are rising up and engaging in creative and strategic direct action. Will the older and more traditional environmental groups learn from them and adjust their tactics to be more effective?

The old environmental movement, ‘Gang Green,’ traditionally works inside the existing power structure and takes funding directly from polluting corporations and foundations funded by polluters. Sometimes they get a seat at the table, but this ends up helping to pass and legitimize laws containing inadequate regulations that become a license to pollute. Some ‘Gang Green’ members show signs of realizing they are on the wrong path and that they need to re-make themselves in order to face the urgent ecological crises of widespread toxins, species extinction, water and air pollution, soil depletion and climate change.

The ‘Fresh Green’ movement, often led by a newer generation, realizes that the extraction economy, which allows us to continue the American way of life (AWOL), cannot continue. They see the ecological crisis caused by the carbon-nuclear based economy worsening because of the “all of the above” strategy promoted by President Obama and the corporate duopoly parties. The dangerous approaches to energy extraction including off shore drilling, mountain top removal, tar sands, shale hydraulic fracturing and uranium mining (as well as the risks and waste products these produce) are evidence that the human species needs to move quickly to a carbon-free nuclear free energy economy.

Fresh Greens Growing

There is a growing culture of resistance in the environmental movement, as Rising Tide of North America reports. Last week the Guardian published an amazing video of the group “No Dash for Gas” in the UK occupying a gas power plant. The video showed the preparation they went through: training, intelligence gathering, practice; and then the meticulous execution of a very difficult occupation of two 300 foot chimneys of a massive gas plant. They occupied the plant for 8 days.

Within a few days, the video was removed from the Guardian website “pending an investigation.” At about the same time, the power company, EDF, sued the activists for £5 ($7.53) million in damages. No Dash for Gas is reporting a backlash against the company and support for their cause. They point out that the damages amount to 0.3% of the company’s profits and that within 48 hours 10,000 people had signed their petition. The group makes a strong case about “disaster gas” which will bring the world closer to the climate tipping point.

In fact, we learned, while researching an article on shale hydraulic fracking, that one of the things the oil and gas companies do not want us to know is that methane, the primary component of natural gas, leaks into the atmosphere during the fracturing process. Methane is a&nbspmore potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide by a factor of 30 to hundreds. Perhaps we should use the term methane gas in place of natural gas to be more accurate.

The anti-fracking movement in the US is growing and becoming resistant. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers wrote to stop Governor Cuomo’s march toward widespread methane gas fracking and successfully stopped it for now pending research on the health effects. And more than 6,000 New Yorkers have already signed a pledge to commit acts of nonviolent civil resistance if Cuomo permits fracking. Americans Against Fracking reports more than 250 communities are taking action against fracking. Three were arrested last week in Pennsylvania for blocking trees from being cut down.

We have been consistently reporting on the direct action against the Tar Sands pipeline, the Keystone XL, since last August.  The actions of the Tar Sands Blockade inspired people from Occupy Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza, including us, to join their actions. We urge you to support their upcoming national days of action March 16 to the 23. Now the blockaders are moving north to Oklahoma where they will have a training camp from March 17 to 22. And in Utah, Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance are building pressure.

The Tar Sands Blockade joined with Appalachia Rising to stop the operation of a hydrofracking waste storage facility in Ohio. This is an important part of the Fresh Greens’ thinking – all issues are connected because we have a common enemy, corporate power that dominates government in the big finance capitalism of the United States.

Groups like Mountain Justice and RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival) which focus on mountain top removal for coal, are now taking on fracking as well. Of course, both mountain top removal and fracking destroy the environment in their communities. Mountain Justice is currently holding a spring break training until March 10. Other groups such as RAMPS have escalated tactics against coal companies and worked with native Indians, vets, community residents and others against big coal.

We’ve also reported on the inspiring Idle No More movement since its inception and continue to do so. Last week native Indians were occupying an area in Minnesota to block a pipeline on their land.

A lot of these groups have fun with their protests like many of the spectacle actions of the Backbone Campaign. We enjoyed this one from the UK, protesting at a pro-fracking politician’s office, putting up signs labeling him a fracking company and putting up a fracking site on the Green in front of his office. And this one from Flush The TPP, blocking their global corporate coup negotiation in Virginia.

The ‘Fresh Greens’ realize we must embrace our radicalism in the fight for eco-justice.

Decaying Gang Green

As inspiring as the Fresh Greens are, the old Gang Green is lackluster. Many local environmental groups see them as selling out the environment for money and access. Some call them corporate environmentalists because they take money from polluting corporations, sometimes directly and sometimes through foundations. Of course, there are many good people in these organizations. We hope they will re-invent their organizations or learn from the Fresh Greens.

We wrote about this in our recent article on shale gas hydrofracking. There is a natural conflict between local groups that want fracking banned in their communities and Gang Green that wants to work within the system and develop regulations that allow ‘safe’ fracking (something which many think is impossible). Money undermines the credibility of Gang Green as we wrote regarding one group:

“The Sierra Club learned a painful lesson after taking $26 million from Chesapeake Energy, a gas company involved in fracking, while using the rhetoric of gas as a clean fuel. Their new executive director, Michael Brune, refused a $30 million donation from the corporation because it undermined Sierra Club's credibility. After the donation was made public, Brune wrote, ‘we need to leapfrog over gas whenever possible in favor of truly clean energy.’”

We hope Brune, who was among those symbolically arrested before the DC climate protest, brings a new direction to the Sierra Club, including more aggressive challenges to the power structure, participation in direct action, a break from the Democrats and no more corporate money.

Some of these groups ally with the Democratic Party, a party that is deep in the pockets of the carbon and nuclear industries. Last week coal giant Duke Energy turned a $10 million loan for the Democratic Convention into a donation – for a convention Obama promised would take no corporate money. The Sunlight Foundation reported on an Atlanta utility that hopes to finally get an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for a nuclear power plant which is miraculously coming closer to reality after a $100,000 donation to Obama’s inauguration. And Obama recently appointed Ernest Moniz, an MIT professor whose work is funded by Big Oil, to be Secretary of Energy. He is a proponent of shale gas fracking and nuclear energy.

The refusal to break from the Democratic Party has been noticed in Bill McKibben’s While they deserve credit for educating and organizing people (although there is criticism that 350 is too much carbon, especially for small island countries), they have been criticized for their ties to the Democrats. Their protests have included instructing people to wear Obama buttons and signage that mimics the Obama campaign. From the stage at the DC rally, Van Jones expressed his pride in working for Obama while Rev. Lennox Yearwood said, “we’re not here to protest Obama.”

Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, who marched with the crowd, many of whom were from the Fresh Green movement, said “Why should we have Obama’s back when he always stabs us in ours?”
Hopefully, the recent Draft Environmental Impact Statement and appointment of Moniz will wake up ‘Gang Green’ to the truth that Obama and the Democrats are the other Wall Street party and not allies of the movement for a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy; and that we have to confront pollution profiteers, not work with them.

No Time for Compromise

One of the characteristics of the Fresh Greens is that they are welcoming. They look for the best, even in members of the Gang Green. We hope their instincts are right and the traditional environmental movement will re-make itself into the resistant advocates the country needs.

This is not the time for compromise. It is not a time to be restricted by foundations or by partnerships with corporate polluters and the Democratic Party. The stakes are too high. The health of the planet is at serious risk from extreme corporate capitalism’s voracious appetite. It is time to cure the gang green with more fresh greens.

This article is based on the newsletter of OccupyWashingtonDC/October2011. You can see the newsletters and sign up for them here.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It's Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Euclid's puzzling parallel postulate - Jeff Dekofsky

Euclid's puzzling parallel postulate - Jeff Dekofsky
Mar 26, 2013 | TEDEducation

View full lesson:

Euclid, known as the "Father of Geometry," developed several of modern geometry's most enduring theorems--but what can we make of his mysterious fifth postulate, the parallel postulate? Jeff Dekofsky shows us how mathematical minds have put the postulate to the test and led to larger questions of how we understand mathematical principles.

Lesson by Jeff Dekofsky, animation by The Leading Sheep Studios.

Monday, March 25, 2013

GMO Alert: Startling New Research

GMO Alert: Startling New Research
Mar 24, 2013 | LifeWise

Time for a little GMO update and heckling of our nemesis, Monsanto and friends. New research demonstrates what most of us have suspected for years: GMOs and the poisons used on them are bad for everything on the planet. For ethical reasons, as well as the obstruction of research by Monsanto, little comprehensive GMO research has been done on humans. But finally, we are beginning to see more hard evidence showing the dangerous effects of the GMO industry.

A little over a year ago, the journal Reproductive Toxicology published the results of a study done In Quebec, Canada. It showed that Bt toxin, the pesticide now routinely genetically engineered into GE corn and cotton, was found in the blood of pregnant women and in their fetuses, as well as in non-pregnant women. This same study also discovered that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, was found in the blood of non-pregnant women. This is not good news.

Until recently, the Quebec study has been one of the few pieces of sound scientific evidence demonstrating the absorption of Bt-toxin into human blood, an occurrence Monsanto reportedly claimed would not occur when they proposed their nasty little invention for approval some years ago. Are we surprised that they were proven wrong? Not at all. Does this stop them? Not in the least. So we have to. Read on.

A brand new scientific study now shows that the Bt-toxin, known as Cry1Ab toxin, kills human embryonic kidney cells. If you think this is alarming, there’s more. The study also shows that combining Bt-toxins Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac with RoundUp (as is now commonly done on GMO crops) can delay apoptosis, which can promote cancer. Apoptosis, by the way, is the normal and natural death of cells that occurs as a routine and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development. This study also found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, on its own causes necrosis, a.k.a. the death of tissue, in amounts lower than that used in agriculture.

I imagine that everyone reading this article adores ladybugs, also known as ladybeetles. Ladybugs have a shiny red shell with little white polka dots on them and cute little black heads. They are in my orchard here in Hawaii and sometimes they randomly land on me while I am working or walking around. These magical little creatures are often employed for natural pest management in organic gardens and orchards, with no side-effects, mind you!

Well, guess what? The GMO industry is killing our ladybugs. Yet another scientific study shows that Bt-toxin increases the mortality rate (death rate) of infant ladybugs, known as larvae. This research was conducted at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

Onto honeybees, our other beloved insect friends. It is widely believed that pesticides in general, and particularly a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, are a major contributing factor to CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, of honeybees worldwide. Some countries in Europe have already banned them; namely France, Germany, and Italy. The hundreds of millions of extra pounds of pesticides sprayed on pesticide-dependent GMO crops are also believed to be contributing to the very sad fate of honeybees. I don’t like Big Ag messin’ with the bees or the ladybugs.

So, if you are not yet on the bandwagon to stop supporting GMOs and their destruction of so many aspects of our biosphere, please jump on. Don’t buy GMO foods. Especially, don’t feed them to your children. Don’t use RoundUp, ever. Or any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides, for that matter. And please join GEM, our movement to eradicate GMOs from the face of the Earth, and learn more about dismantling the GMO machine. Bless the bees, ladybugs and each and every innocent human being on the planet now being impacted by GMOs. Bless you for taking action.

By Fritz Kreiss – founding head of Occupy Monsanto.

Capitalism in Crisis: Richard Wolff Urges End to Austerity, New Jobs Program, Democratizing Work

Capitalism in Crisis: Richard Wolff Urges End to Austerity, New Jobs Program, Democratizing Work
Mar 25, 2013 | democracynow — As Washington lawmakers pushes new austerity measures, economist Richard Wolff calls for a radical restructuring of the U.S. economic and financial systems. more..

Wasted food could feed billions

Wasted food could feed billions
Mar 25, 2013 | AlJazeeraEnglish

The UN says there could be an extra three billion people in the world by the end of the century, presenting immense challenges to the world's resources.

Comment: This hyperbole from the UN is disgusting. What they seem to be saying is we are financial terrorists and we enjoy it so much that we may have to suffer and that is not acceptable, when it is much more likely inevitible.

However, research shows that the world could feed nearly all of those people without increasing food production since more food is thrown away every year than would be required by the increased population.

As part of Al Jazeera's Wasteful World series, Rory Challands looks at the extent of the wastage.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flies, Maggots, Rats, and Lots of Poop: What Big Ag Doesn't Want You To See

Photo from a Mercy For Animals investigation
of Quality Egg of New England, 2009.

Flies, Maggots, Rats, and Lots of Poop: What Big Ag Doesn't Want You To See
Mar 20, 2013 | Mother Jones | Tom Philpott

What's it like inside a factory farm? If the livestock and meat industries have their way, what little view we have inside the walls of these animal-reviewing facilities may soon be obscured. For the second year in a row, the industry is backing bills in various statehouses that would criminalize undercover investigations of livestock farms. The Humane Society of the US, one of the animal-welfare groups most adept at conducting such hidden-camera operations, counts active "ag gag" bills in no fewer than nine states. Many of them are based on a model conjured by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),  a corporate-funded group that generates industry-friendly legislation language for state legislatures, Associated Press reports.

To understand the stakes of this battle, consider this 2010 Food and Drug Administration report on conditions in several vast egg-producing facilities in Iowa owned by a man named Jack Decoster. I teased out some highlights at the time of its release; in short, it involves flies, maggots, rats, wild birds, tainted feed, workers ignoring sanitary rules, and lots and lots of chickenshit. The report portrays the facilities as a kind of fecal nightmare, with manure mounding up in eight-foot piles—providing perches for escaped hens to peck feed from teeming cages—overflowing in pits, and seeping through concrete foundations.

It was, in short, a blunt and damning portrayal, an example of a federal watchdog agency training the public gaze on the misdeeds of a powerful industry. The investigation led the FDA to ban the offending operations from selling fresh eggs for several months.

Trouble is, the FDA's exposé came after those factory-like operations had been forced to recall nearly half a billion eggs potentially tainted with salmonella, and an outbreak that sickened nearly 2,000 people. It later turned out that the company's own tests had detected salmonella in the facilities, including egg-carrying conveyor belts, no fewer than 73 times in the two years before the outbreak; and that inspectors from the US Agriculture Department had repeatedly witnessed unsanitary conditions like dead bugs on the packing floor and old egg residues on conveyor belts just before the outbreak, but did nothing to stop production, because they were only there to "grade" the size of eggs, not monitor the potential for disease outbreaks (which falls to the FDA).

Given that the egg company itself (which turned out to be part of the nation's largest egg empire at the time) and federal watchdogs both failed to prevent the outbreak despite so many troubling signs, you have to wonder what would have happened if an animal-welfare group like Mercy For Animals or the Humane Society of the US had managed to sneak in cameras and record conditions before those half-billion suspect eggs made it onto supermarket shelves.

In fact, months before the outbreak, HSUS did get operatives to pose as a worker at several giant egg factories in Iowa, operated by Decoster rivals Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises. Here's some of what they found:

From the report:
• Trapped birds unable to reach food and water: Battery cages can trap hens by their wings, necks, legs, and feet in the wire, causing other birds to trample the weakened animals, usually resulting in a slow, painful death.
• High mortality in layer and pullet sheds: The HSUS investigator pulled dead young hens, some of them mummified (meaning they'd been rotting in the cages for weeks), from cages every day.
Failure to maintain manure pits: According to one worker, the manure pit under a pullet shed had not been cleaned in two years. Rose Acre workers claimed that some hens are blinded because of excessive ammonia levels.
• Abandoned hens: Some hens manage to escape from their cages and fall into the manure pits below.
The exposure prompted Rose Acre Farms to undergo "third-party audit" of the facilities in question, while Rembrandt publicly declared it would investigate its facilities, adding to a farm trade journal that "it would have been beneficial had the Humane Society come directly to us right after the alleged violations occurred." We'll never know if the HSUS investigation caused changes that saved consumers from exposure to salmonella or other pathogens.

And in 2011, a Mercy For Animals employee got inside yet another Iowa egg company called Sparboe Farms and released a video depicting dead birds being left to rot in tight cages also occupied by live birds and flies, among other sordid scenes. In a web posting after the release, the company's president wrote that the video had documented acts are "totally unacceptable and completely at odds with our values as egg farmers," adding that the employees responsible had been fired. Just before the MFA release, FDA came out with the results of its own investigation of the facility, which found several violations—again potentially saving the public from a pathogen outbreak.

Last year, of course, Iowa and its famously agribiz-aligned governor, Terry Branstad, passed the nation's first ag-gag law—meaning that any undercover investigator who exposes such abuses on one of the state's hundreds of factory-scale hog and egg facilities will now be subject to criminal prosecution. The triumph in Iowa marks a significant victory in Big Ag's push to keep its practices behind closed doors, because Iowa is the nation's number-one state in both hog and egg-laying hen production. 

In a time of fiscal austerity, federal watchdogs like USDA and FDA are having to cut back on inspections of meat-production facilities, meaning that already-weak oversight will only get weaker. If the meat industry wins these ag-gag battles playing out in farm states nationwide, who will serve as the public's eyes on the factory farm floor? Answer: essentially, no one.

Tom Philpott is the food and ag blogger for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here. RSS |