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Journal Archives

Scary Emerging Scientific Consensus: There's No Such Thing as Safe Plastic

The plastics industry has a big propaganda denial campaign in the works.

March 4, 2014

Amy Goodman:"Are any plastics safe?" That’s the title — that’s the question of a new exposéby Mother Jones that may shock anyone who drinks out of plastic bottles, gives their children plastic sippy cups or eats out of plastic containers. For years, public campaigns have been waged against plastic containing BPA, Bisphenol-A, a controversial plastic additive. But a new investigation by Mother Jones magazine has revealed that chemicals used to replace BPAmay be just as, if not more, dangerous to your health than their cousin compound.

BPA is still widely used in everything from the lining of soup cans to printed receipts, even though studies show it mimics the behavior of estrogen in the human body, and have linked it to breast cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Just last week, a study estimated the use of BPA in food and beverage containers is responsible for some $3 billion a year in healthcare costs. But because BPA can hamper brain and organ development in young children, it’s been banned in bottles and sippy cups since 2012. Now new studies show the plastic products being advertised as BPA-free, and sold by companies such as Evenflo and Nalgene, Tupperware, are still releasing synthetic estrogen.

The Mother Jones report goes on to look at how the plastics industry has used a Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury the disturbing evidence about the products you use every day.

We’re joined in Washington, D.C., now by Mariah Blake, staff reporter with Mother Jones magazine. Mariah, welcome to Democracy Now! Just lay out what you have found.

Full article and transcript: http://www.alternet.org/environment/are-any-plastics-safe-industry-tries-hide-scary-new-evidence-bpa-free-bottles-and-0?akid=11567.44541.gU8JF-&rd=1&src=newsletter966085&t=11

8 of the Most Clueless, Offensive Statements by America's Out-of-Touch Rich People

AlterNet / By Evan McMurry comments_image 2 COMMENTS

They can't seem to stop blurting out absurdities.

February 27, 2014

Five years after Wall Street wrecked the economy, the rich are doing better than ever: the Dow is at record highs, while the 1% control more of the country’s (and the world’s) wealth than ever before.

So why are the wealthy so cranky? The last couple months have seen a surge in CEOs, hedge fund managers and startup entrepreneurs whining about how tough they have it, while lecturing the working class about how they need to stop that very whining. According to the wealthy, they do all the work, earn all the money, and yet practically live like paupers.

Below are eight of the most clueless statements by the 1%, all of them made in the past 12 months:


After Latest Incident, Israel’s Future in FIFA Is Uncertain

by David Zirin / March 4th, 2014

Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they are never going to play sports again. Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired upon them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten. Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot. After being transferred from a hospital in Ramallah to King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, they received the news that soccer would no longer be a part of their futures.

This is only the latest instance of the targeting of Palestinian soccer players by the Israeli army and security forces. Death, injury or imprisonment has been a reality for several members of the Palestinian national team over the last five years. Just imagine if members of Spain’s top-flight World Cup team had been jailed, shot or killed by another country and imagine the international media outrage that would ensue. Imagine if prospective youth players for Brazil were shot in the feet by the military of another nation. But, tragically, these events along the checkpoints have received little attention on the sports page or beyond.

Much has been written about the psychological effect this kind of targeting has on the occupied territories. Sports represent escape, joy and community, and the Palestinian national soccer team, for a people without a recognized nation, is a source of tremendous pride. To attack the players is to attack the hope that the national team will ever truly have a home.

The Palestinian national football team, which formed in 1998, is currently ranked 144th in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). They have never been higher than 115th. As FIFA themselves said in assessing the state of Palestinian soccer, “Given the passion for football that burns among Palestinians, both in the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora, such lowly status hints at problems on the ground.” These “problems on the ground” consist, as Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub commented bluntly, of “the occupation’s insistence on destroying Palestinian sport.”

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/03/after-latest-incident-israels-future-in-fifa-is-uncertain/

Merida, Venezuela: Testimonies of the Barricades

By Tamara Pearson
Source: Venezuelanalysis.Com
March 4, 2014

The following are testimonies told to Venezuelanalysis.com by people in Merida city. While on the one hand the situation in Merida isn’t reflected around the whole country: such violence and barricades are mostly concentrated in the east of Caracas, Tachira, Maracaibo, Carabobo, and Barquismeto, readers should also know that these are just a few stories of many thousands like them. Some people told us they had videos of violence, but they were afraid to pass them on, as they had filmed from their apartments and the camera angle would reveal who they were, and there could be repercussions. For similar reasons, some people have preferred to remain anonymous.

Luis Alberto, Central Merida, 27 February, “I’ve been working since 1 am and my legs hurt. This mayor doesn’t do anything, he’s useless. He doesn’t collect the rubbish, as he should. I work for Cormetur , basically the military goes ahead of us and removes the barricades, then we come behind and collect all the rubbish.”

Mario Yanes, Don Luis Urbanisation, Ejido, Merida, 27 February, “Where I live there are 545 houses and just 30 of those are with the process. I live in an opposition area, it’s closed off in a kind of self-kidnapping. I go out when I want though; I just knock the barricade over. I don’t know why they shut themselves inside the community like that. There hasn’t been any aggressions”

Science teacher, Central Merida, 27 February, “They’ve set up a fence made out of laminated zinc and to get out you have to show ID. In other places they are demanding a payment. There’s a shop that sells cheese and bread near the exit and they have a census and know who is with the opposition and will only sell to them”.

Juan Rondon, Los Curos, Merida, 25 February, In Merida what we’ve been seeing are people (some of them students), who close up the entrances to residential areas, obliging thousands of people, the elderly, children, and adults to stay locked up under the fear of being labelled Chavistas or infiltrators of the so called castro-communist regime. It’s really sad to talk with some of the people whose only justification for accepting the barricade on their homes is “well they reduced the CADIVI amount” or “don’t you have to queue up?” “doesn’t the crime affect you?”. It reminds me of around five years ago, a student who justified her hatred for Chavez because he didn’t let her see her favourite soapie because of the long national broadcasts.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/merida-venezuela-testimonies-of-the-barricades/

The Washington Post Uses Biased Experts

The Washington Post Uses Biased Experts

By Murtaza Hussain
Source: The Intercept
March 5, 2014

The Washington Post’s Feb. 19 article about the recent spate of unrest in Venezuela took a breathlessly laudatory stance towards the opposition against President Nicolás Maduro. The opening paragraphs offer a good indication of its tenor:


So there you have it: Because the infiltration of oil companies and other vested interests in policymaking has become so entrenched, there’s no point even mentioning it anymore. That Michael Shifter runs an organization funded by many of the same corporations and governments which have open conflicts with the Venezuelan government is apparently immaterial to him also providing expert analysis on political developments in Venezuela.

Even more incredibly, his colleague at the Inter-American Dialogue Moisés Naím was a formerly Venezuela’s Minister of Trade and Industry during the tenure of President Carlos Andrés Pérez – a leader who was deposed by Chavez and who presided over the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protestors in the country. Nonetheless, his commentary has been included without even the slightest acknowledgment of what appears to be a deeply prejudicial history.

None of this is written necessarily as a defence of the Venezuelan government or a commentary on events in that country, but rather to demonstrate the fundamental incapacity of the mainstream media to cover this story in a way that is not corrupted by corporate and political interests.

The corrosive influence of corporations and government in the news media has long been documented. The establishment press has demonstrated time and again its reflex to serve as a tool of powerful vested interests, and to act essentially as the communications arm of U.S. foreign policy. The Washington Post‘s coverage is just the most glaring and recent example of such behavior.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-washington-post-uses-biased-experts/

The Nature of War Has Changed

By Patrick Cockburn

Source: Counterpunch

March 4, 2014

A new kind of war is developing. It is very different from the mass conflict of the First World War when governments mobilised millions of men and vast industrial resources. Wars have got smaller, but are equally and, on occasions, more vicious than in the past. Not all are identical, but armed conflicts in Chechnya, Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have many traits in common and not only because people in these countries are largely Muslim, with the exception of the Balkans.

Straightforward invasions of another country have become less common, the last being the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its disastrous outcome has made it more difficult to repeat such ventures even when governments want to. Witness the unexpected but irresistible wave of public hostility in the US and UK last September to armed intervention in Syria. In both cases the political and military establishments were split on the wisdom of engaging in another war in the Middle East.

Wars these days are proxy wars to a greater or lesser degree, and this trend may increase if only because it is more saleable to voters back home. A prime example of this was the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 by a Nato-backed campaign in which the Libyan rebel militiamen, who dominated the television screens, acted as a mopping-up force in the wake of devastating air attacks.

Human rights abuses have become a standard justification for foreign interventions and accounts of these abuses may well be true. But media reporting of them tends to be unbalanced, often misleading and occasionally fabricated. In Libya, the well-publicised story of mass rape by the Libyan army was exposed as a fake by human rights organisations. The original excuse for Nato air intervention was to prevent Gaddafi’s forces from massacring the opposition in Benghazi. But former rebels, now members of all-powerful militias, really did massacre demonstrators on two different occasions in Benghazi and Tripoli without foreign governments showing more than a flicker of interest.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-nature-of-war-has-changed/

Robert Fisk - Were It Not For The French

Source: The Independent

March 4, 2014

Borders are becoming a bit odd in the Middle East. They always have been, of course. Ever since Mark Sykes and François Georges Picot – the latter a former French consul in Beirut, by the way, who cost a lot of brave Lebanese their lives by his carelessness in sealing their anti-Ottoman letters behind an embassy wall – divvied up the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, etc, one lot of Arabs (or their grandchildren) found themselves living as hated refugees not many miles from their original homes, cursed and spat at and sometimes killed by another lot of Arabs who turned out to be – much to their own surprise, in some cases – Lebanese or Syrians.

Then we come to the question of a state called Israel which exists in a land that was called Palestine, 22 per cent of which – and the percentage is growing smaller by the day – is supposed to be called “Palestine”. Well, maybe.

Which brings me to the point. For last week, the Strategic Affairs Minister – is there any other nation on earth which has such a ministry, I ask myself? – of Israel, warned Lebanon that it must prevent Hezbollah (Iranian-armed, Syrian-supported, you know the usual and true clichés) from attacking Israel in reprisal for Israel’s attack on a weapons convoy – an attack which, as is often the case, Israel didn’t actually admit to having carried out.

So let’s get this straight. And I start with a weird quotation from the Reuters news agency. “Israel warned Lebanon Friday to prevent a Hezbollah retaliation for an alleged Israeli air strike on a site used by the party on the Syrian border.” What? Reuters editors had hit a factual problem, of course. The Israelis didn’t actually admit that they had bombed the weapons inside Lebanon, so the agency had to fudge the strike which Israel had not admitted to staging – Israel’s confirmation being needed for any statement of fact in the Middle East – while at the same time referring to the air strike which hundreds of Lebanese in the Bekaa Valley had actually witnessed as “alleged”. Oddly, even Hezbollah didn’t admit this in the beginning. No problem, I suppose, if the air raid had been staged inside the Syrian border – like another three such attacks, also unconfirmed by the Israelis.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/were-it-not-for-the-french/

Oscar Pistorius goes on trial for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Trial begins of South African Paralympian for murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day last year

• Key players in the trial
• South Africa’s justice system under scrutiny
• Read a summary of today’s key events

Sam Jones
theguardian.com, Monday 3 March 2014 14.21 GMT


Carnival in Crimea

Carnival in Crimea

Carnival in Crimea
By Pepe Escobar

Time waits for no one, but apparently will wait for Crimea. The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has confirmed there will be a referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine on May 25.

Until then, Crimea will be as hot and steamy as carnival in Rio - because Crimea is all about Sevastopol, the port of call for the Russian Black Sea fleet.

If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a bull, this is the red flag to end all red flags. Even if you're deep in alcohol nirvana dancin' your troubles away at carnival in Rio - or New Orleans, or Venice, or Trinidad and Tobago - your brain will have registered that NATO's ultimate wet dream is to command a Western puppet Ukrainian government to kick the Russian navy out of its base in Sevastopol. The negotiated lease applies until 2042. Threats and rumors of reneging it have already emerged.

The absolute majority of the Crimean peninsula is populated by Russian speakers. Very few Ukrainians live there. In 1954, it took only 15 minutes for Ukrainian Nikita Krushchev - he of the banging shoe at the UN floor - to give Crimea as a free gift to Ukraine (then part of the USSR). In Russia, Crimea is perceived as Russian. Nothing will change that fact.


Pro-Russian Crimeans welcome Moscow's decision to send troops

Pro-Russian residents in Crimea's largest cities have shown their approval for Moscow's decision to send additional troops to the Ukrainian peninsula. But not everyone is happy that the crisis has taken this turn.

Cars flying Russian flags passed cheering people on the streets of Sevastopol and Simferopol on Saturday (01.03.2014) as pro-Russian Crimeans welcomed the unanimous decision by the Russian parliament to approve the use of the armed forces in Ukraine.

The news followed an earlier decision to move up a referendum on the status of the semi-autonomous region from May 25 to March 30, a decision that was greeted with enthusiasm by Crimea's Russian community, who make up about 60 percent of the population. The referendum could be the first step towards greater independence for the peninsula, and could lead to a possible secession from Ukraine or even a decision to join the Russian Federation.

Symbol of bravery

On Saturday, mass rallies were held in Crimea's two major cities. In Sevastopol, a crowd estimated at more than 5,000 people gathered in the main square, not far from the city's administration building.

Pro-Russian residents of Sevastopol wear the St. George's Ribbon

Many Crimeans have been waving Russian flags and wearing the St. George's Ribbon

They chanted "Rossiya, Rossiya!" and many wore the St. George's Ribbon, a well-known Russian symbol of military valor that is worn in remembrance of the victory over Nazi Germany. In 1941-1942, the seaport of Sevastopol was the scene of one of the fiercest battles of World War II. Russia's Black Sea Fleet is still stationed in the city today under a lease agreement with the Ukrainian government.
Rarely has the atmosphere here been so politically charged. In cafes, grocery stores and on the street, politics is all anyone talks about. Until very recently, it was completely different. "Normally, it's very, very quiet," said Galina, a small business owner. "We stayed silent during the protests in Kyiv, up until the new government decided to overturn the language law. That was the last straw.
Suddenly, 30,000 people filled this square."


The Russian Stronghold in Ukraine Preparing to Fight the Revolution

Lawmakers and worried citizens in the pro-Russia Crimea consider their options

By Simon Shuster / Sevastopol @shustryFeb. 23, 2014525

A Ukrainian woman holds a Soviet flag during a rally in the industrial city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, on Feb. 22, 2014
The busload of officers only began to feel safe when they entered the Crimean peninsula. Through the night on Friday, they drove the length of Ukraine from north to south, having abandoned the capital city of Kiev to the revolution. Along the way the protesters in several towns pelted their bus with eggs, rocks and, at one point, what looked to be blood before the retreating officers realized it was only ketchup. “People were screaming, cursing at us,” recalls one of the policemen, Vlad Roditelev.

Finally, on Saturday morning, the bus reached the refuge of Crimea, the only chunk of Ukraine where the revolution has failed to take hold. Connected to the mainland by two narrow passes, this huge peninsula on the Black Sea has long been a land apart, an island of Russian nationalism in a nation drifting toward Europe. One of its biggest cities, Sevastopol, is home to a Russian naval base that houses around 25,000 troops, and most Crimean residents identify themselves as Russians, not Ukrainians.

So when the forces of the revolution took over the national parliament on Friday, pledging to rid Ukraine of Russian influence and integrate with Europe, the people of Crimea panicked. Some began to form militias, others sent distress calls to the Kremlin. And if the officers of the Berkut riot police are now despised throughout the rest of the country for killing dozens of protesters in Kiev this week, they were welcomed in Crimea as heroes.

For Ukraine’s revolutionary leaders, that presents an urgent problem. In a matter of days, their sympathizers managed to seize nearly the entire country, including some of the most staunchly pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine. But they have made barely any headway on the Crimean peninsula. On the contrary, the revolution has given the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea their best chance ever to break away from Kiev’s rule and come back under the control of Russia. “An opportunity like this has never come along,” says Tatyana Yermakova, the head of the Russian Community of Sevastopol, a civil-society group in Crimea.

Read more: Crimea, Russian Stronghold in Ukraine, Is Ready to Fight Revolution | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2014/02/23/the-russian-stronghold-in-ukraine-preparing-to-fight-the-revolution/#ixzz2upQsd8u7

Pro-Russia demonstrators wave the colors of Russian military valor at an anti-American rally in Simferopol, in the Crimea region of Ukraine. The sign says, "We will free Ukraine from American occupation." (Sean Gallup, Getty Images / March 1, 2014)

By Sergei L. Loiko
March 1, 2014, 4:36 a.m.

KIEV, Ukraine -- Crimea's new pro-Moscow premier, Sergei Aksenov, moved the date of the peninsula's status referendum to March 30.
On Thursday, the Crimean parliament, which appointed Aksenov, had called for a referendum on May 25, the date also set for the urgent presidential election in Ukraine.

“In connection with a necessity we decided to speed up the holding of the referendum on the stauts of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea,” Aksenov said Saturday in Simferopol at a new government session, the UNIAN information agency reported.

Earlier that day, Aksenov, head of the nationalist Russian Unity organization, appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin “to render assistance in securing peace and tranquility on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea," UNIAN reported.


Ukraine Revolt’s Dark Side

By Conn Hallinan
Source: Dispatches From The Edge
March 3, 2014

......"Svoboda would stop immigration and reserve civil service jobs for “ethnic Ukrainians.” It would end abortion, gun control, “ban the Communist Ideology,” and list religious affiliation and ethnicity on identity documents. It claims as its mentor the Nazi-collaborator Stephan Bandera, whose Ukrainian Insurgent Army massacred Jews and Poles during World war II. The Party’s demand that all official business be conducted in Ukrainian was recently endorsed by the parliament, disenfranchising 30 percent of the country’s population that speaks Russian. Russian speakers are generally concentrated in the Ukraine’s east and south, and particularly in the Crimean Peninsula.

The U.S. and the EU have hailed the resignation of President Yanukovych and the triumph of “people power” over the elected government – Ambassador Pyatt called it “a day for the history books” –but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Prior to the deployment of Russian troops this past week anti-coup, pro-Russian crowds massed in the streets in the Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, and seized government buildings. While there was little support for the ousted president-who most Ukrainians believe is corrupt-there was deep anger at the de-recognition of the Russian language and contempt for what many said were “fascists” in Kiev and Lviv."

Cue the "You just love Pootie".

Whip of Counter-Revolution Drives the Bolivarian Horse Forward

By Les Blough in Venezuela with SiBCI reports
Axis of Logic. SiBCI (Systema Bolivariano de Comunicación e Información).
Monday, Feb 24, 2014


"The violent counter-revolution taking place in Venezuela since February 12rd continues but has been drawn down by the effective management by the government led by President Nicolas Maduro. Following the spirit and policies of former President Chavez, the government has dealt with each act of violence with exceptional restraint by the police and national guard but with appropriate force in identifying and arresting the fascists. In this report we provide 4 of the latest news stories published by SiBCi, the Ministry of Communication and Information and VTV along with photographic and videotaped evidence of the acts of violence and the government's response.

The following February 23 reports include news of:
The arrest warrant issued for a former general who left the armed forces a few years ago to lead an insurrection against the government. Ex-General Angel Vivas used his Twitter account to promote the use of wire stretched across streets “In order to neutralise criminal hordes on motorbikes, one must place nylon string or galvanised wire across the street, at a height of 1.2 metres”.

Vivas also tweeted, “to render armoured vehicles of the dictatorship useless, Molotov cocktails should be thrown under the motor, to burn belts and hoses, they become inoperative”. reports, "Other tweeters responded to his tweet about decapitating motorbike riders with further advice for the violent blockades, including suggesting that “a lot of oil be used in the streets, it is good for two things, they fall off, and it can set alight. The collectives are the ones in the vehicles”.

An announcement by Diosdado Cabello, President of the National Assembly of a large weapons cache discovered by police in Carababo State, 2 hours west of Caracas. Photos and a video of the weapons are included with the report.

Mercenaries entering from the Middle East for introducing car bombs into Venezuela. One has been captured and authorities are on the trail of others.

A march of about 40,000 women in Caracas for peace and against violence, joined by thousands more who demonstrated and marched in support of the government in a number of other states yesterday.

Faces of revolutionary women filled the streets this Saturday for the states of Merida and Trujillo, Aragua, Vargas and Zulia, to raise messages of love, unity, and work to continue building the Bolivarian nation.

About 40 thousand women gathered at Plaza Morelos in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 22 and marched through Central Caracas "saying yes to peace and life and no to violence and fascism. They filled plazas like Morelos in cities across Venezuela with messages of love and hope for all Venezuelans "without ideological distinction."

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