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polly7

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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here

—By Tom Philpott

Wed May. 8, 2013

Last week, the European Commission voted to place a two-year moratorium in most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides, on the suspicion that they're contributing to the global crisis in honeybee health (a topic I've touched on here, here, here, and here). Since then, several people have asked me whether the Europe's move might inspire the US Environmental Protection Agency to make a similar move—currently, neonics are widely used in several of our most prevalent crops, including corn, soy, cotton, and wheat.

The answer is no. As I reported recently, an agency press officer told me the EU move will have no bearing on the EPA's own review of the pesticides, which aren't scheduled for release until 2016 at the earliest.

All of which got me thinking about other food-related substances and practices that are banned in Europe but greenlighted here. Turns out there are lots. Aren't you glad you don't live under the Old World regulatory jackboot, where the authorities deny people's freedom to quaff to atrazine-laced drinking water, etc., etc.? Let me know in comments if I'm missing any.

1) Atrazine
Why it's a problem: A "potent endocrine disruptor," Syngenta's popular corn herbicide has been linked to range of reproductive problems at extremely low doses in both amphibians and humans; and it commonly leaches out of farm fields and into people's drinking water.
What Europe did: Banned it in 2003.
US status: EPA: "Atrazine will begin registration review, EPA’s periodic re-evaluation program for existing pesticides, in mid-2013."


Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/05/7-dodgy-foodag-practices-banned-europe-just-fine-here

"If Your Girlfriend Gets Pregnant, So Do You!": 13 Amazing Vintage Contraceptive Ads

40 years of blunt, simple, and often goofy contraception ads —Text by Hannah Levintova/Photos from National Library of Medicine

Just a few months ago, a Michigan state representative was banned from speaking on her own legislature's floor after saying "vagina." In Virginia, a squeamish lawmaker simply called it "V." This year, several states also enacted laws mandating that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes, bringing to 26 the total number of states with such policies. Meanwhile, Todd "legitimate rape" Akin schooled us in medieval biology. 'Nuff said.

Somehow, we've arrived at a place where euphemisms are preferable, ignorance is tolerated, and politicians are seeking to turn back the clock on a woman's right to dictate the terms of her personal and professional future.

So, in recognition of World Contraception Day, we put together this slideshow. Pulled from archives at the National Institutes of Health, these vintage contraception ads from around the globe date back as far as 1969. They tell it like it is—with humor, a few tacky hairdos, and a bluntness that will surely please anyone who's tired of the talk-arounds.


Images: http://www.motherjones.com/slideshows/2012/09/vintage-contraception-ads/10jpg

Guilt-free clothing (Petition)

Jamie Choi - Avaaz.org <avaaz@avaaz.org>
4:39 AM (1 hour ago)

Dear friends,

Hundreds of Bangladeshi women have been burned or crushed to death while making *our* clothes! In days, major fashion companies could sign an agreement that will either be a strong safety code or a weak PR ploy. If 1 million of us get the CEOs of H&M and GAP to back a life-saving code, the rest will follow:

We've all seen the horrific images of hundreds of innocent women burned or crushed to death in factories while making our clothes. In the next few days we can get companies to stop it happening again.

Big fashion brands source from hundreds of factories in Bangladesh. Two brands, including Calvin Klein, have signed a very strong building and fire safety pact. Others, led by Wal-Mart, have been trying to wriggle out of signing by creating a weak alternative that was pure PR. But the latest disaster has triggered crisis meetings and massive pressure to sign the strong version that can save lives.

Negotiations end in days. H&M and GAP are most likely to flip first to support a strong agreement, and the best way to press them is to go after their CEOs. If one million of us appeal directly to them in a petition, Facebook pages, tweets, and ads, their friends and families will all hear about it. They'll know that their own and their companies' reputations are on the line. People are being forced to make *our* clothing in outrageously dangerous buildings -- sign on to make them safe, and forward this email widely:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/crushed_to_make_our_clothes_ss/?bXOraab&v=24793

The recent tragic collapse fits a pattern. In the last few years, fires and other disasters have claimed a thousand lives and left many others too injured to work. Bangladesh's government turns a blind eye to dismal conditions, allowing suppliers to cut costs to make clothes at a pace and price that global fashion giants expect. The big brands say they check up, but workers say the companies' own audits can't be trusted.

The worker-backed safety agreement calls for independent inspections, public reports about supplier factory conditions, and mandatory repairs. It’s even enforceable in courts of the companies’ home countries! Full details of which companies were buying from the factory that collapsed weeks ago aren't yet known, and there's no evidence H&M or Gap did so. But workers have died in other H&M and GAP supplier factories in Bangladesh and getting them onboard now would put tremendous pressure on other companies to follow.

The companies are making up their minds right now. Let’s call on the CEOs of H&M and GAP to lead the industry by signing the safety plan. Sign your name then share this email widely -- once we reach 1 million we’ll take out ads that they can’t miss:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/crushed_to_make_our_clothes_ss/?bXOraab&v=24793

Time and time again, Avaaz members have come together to fight corporate greed and support human rights. Last year, we helped 100 Indian workers safely return home when a Bahraini corporation refused to let them leave. Let's now take a stand to stop the deadly race to the bottom in factory safety.

With hope and determination,

Jamie, Jeremy, Alex, Ari, Diego, Marie, Maria-Paz, Ricken and the Avaaz team

PS - Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue - local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=23917

MORE INFORMATION:

Collapse renews calls for safety agreement (Wall Street Journal)
http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/04/25/bangladesh-deaths-renew-calls-for-safety-agreement/

15 May deadline set for Bangladesh safety plan (Industriall)
http://www.industriall-union.org/15-may-deadline-set-for-bangladesh-safety-plan

Western companies feel pressure as toll rises in Bangladesh (NBC News)
http://www.nbcnews.com/business/western-companies-feel-pressure-toll-rises-bangladesh-6C9624611

Avoiding the fire next time (The Economist)
http://www.economist.com/news/business/21577078-after-dhaka-factory-collapse-foreign-clothing-firms-are-under-pressure-improve-working

Bangladeshi garment factory death toll rises as owner arrested on border (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/28/bangladesh-garment-factory-collapse-owner-held

Bangladesh factory safety under scrutiny after collapse (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/26/bangladesh-factory-building-safety.html

Hazardous workplaces: Making the Bangladesh Garment Industry Safe (Report, Clean Clothes campaign)
http://www.cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/2012-11-hazardousworkplaces.pdf/view


This was an email I received ... please sign the petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/crushed_to_make_our_clothes_ss/?bXOraab&v=24793

Photos: Stark Scenes From the Guantanamo Hunger Strike

→ Human Rights, Military, Politics

Photos: Stark Scenes From the Guantanamo Hunger Strike
Military photographs show guards throwing away uneaten food and the "feeding chair" where detainees are force-fed.

—By Dave Gilson | Sat May. 4, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
7

A "feeding chair" in the Guantanamo medical wing where hunger-striking detainees are force fed. Sgt. Brian Godette, Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment



For more than two weeks, 100 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba have been on hunger strike to protest conditions at the prison and their indefinite confinement. First denied and downplayed by the military, the strike has now become a full-blown emergency, as the Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly reports:

Twenty-three detainees are currently being force-fed. At least twice a day, guards in riot gear tie each detainee to a chair or bed, and medical personnel force a tube up his nose and down his throat, and pump a can of Ensure or other dietary supplement into his stomach. There are so many detainees being force-fed that Guantanamo's medical personnel are working around the clock to keep up with the demand, and approximately 40 additional medical personnel just arrived in Guantanamo to help deal with the growing crisis.

Though they do not show any of these frantic scenes, recently released military photos offer a window onto how Guantanamo has been dealing with the unprecedented protest: A "feeding chair" where detainees are force-fed sits next to a tray of feeding tubes and a bottle of butter pecan Ensure; guards deliver meals through "bean holes" in detainees' cells, only to throw away the uneaten food; hospital beds behind chain-link fences with rings for shackles beside them.

Other images in the series, taken in early April by Sgt. Brian Godette of the Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment, depict scenes from Camps V and VI, where most prisoners are held: a sign asking soldiers to respect praying detainees, a stuffed recliner in the "media room" that looks almost normal until you notice the ankle restraints. Original photo captions are in quotes. (h/t Public Intelligence)


http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/photos-hunger-strike-guantanamo-force-feeding

Obama and U.S. Military Divided Over Syria

By Shamus Cooke

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Excerpts:


"The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion...The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria."

Thus, yet another secular Middle Eastern government — after Iraq and Libya — is being pushed into the abyss of Islamist extremism, and the shoving is being done by the United States, which The New York Times discovered was funneling thousands of tons of weapons into Syria through U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We now know that these weapons were given to the Islamist extremists; directly or indirectly, it doesn't matter.

Even after this U.S.-organized weapons trafficking was uncovered, the Obama administration still has the nerve to say that the U.S. is only supplying "non lethal" aid to the Syrian rebels. Never mind that many of the guns that the U.S. is transporting into Syria from its allies were sold to the allies by the United States, where the weapons were manufactured.

Now, many politicians are demanding that Obama institute a "no fly zone" in Syria, a euphemism for military invasion — one country cannot enforce a no fly zone inside another country without first destroying the enemy Air Force, not to mention its surface to air missiles, etc. We saw in Libya that a no fly zone quickly evolved into a full scale invasion, which would happen again in Syria, with the difference being that Syria has a more powerful army with more sophisticated weaponry, not to mention powerful allies — Iran and Russia.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/obama-and-u-s-military-divided-over-syria-by-shamus-cooke

George Monbiot - Beware The Rise Of The Government Scientists Turned Lobbyists

By George Monbiot

Source: The Guardian

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Excerpt:
What this illustrates is that these trials have taken place far too late: after the toxins have already been widely deployed. The use of neonicotinoids across Europe was approved before we knew what their impacts might be.

Experiments in laboratory or "semi-field" conditions, free from contamination, suggest that these toxins could be a reason for the rapid reduction in bee populations. We still know almost nothing about their impacts on other insect pollinators, such as hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and midges, many of which are also declining swiftly.

Walport went on to suggest that the proposed ban would cause "severe reductions in yields to struggling European farmers and economies". Again, this is simply incorrect: in its exhaustive investigation, published last month, the House of Commons environmental audit committee concluded that "neonicotinoid pesticides are not fundamental to the general economic or agricultural viability of UK farming". In fact they can prevent a more precise and rational use of pesticides, known as integrated pest management. The committee reports that all the rape seed on sale in this country, for example, is pre-treated with neonicotinoids, so farmers have no choice but to use them, whether or not they are required.

He then deployed the kind of groundless moral blackmail frequently used by industry-funded astroturf campaigns. "The control of malaria, dengue and other important diseases also depends on the control of insect vectors." Yes, it does in many cases, but this has nothing to do with the issue he was discussing: a partial ban on neonicotinoids in European crops. This old canard (if you don't approve this pesticide for growing oilseed rape in Europe, children in Mozambique will die of malaria) reminds us that those opposed to measures which protect the natural world are often far worse scaremongers than environmentalists can be. How often have you heard people claim that "if the greens get their way, we'll go back to living in caves" or "if carbon taxes are approved, the economy will collapse"?

But perhaps most revealing is Walport's misunderstanding of the precautionary principle. This, he says, "just means working out and balancing in advance all the risks and benefits of action or inaction, and to make a proportionate response". No it doesn't. The Rio declaration, signed by the UK and 171 other states, defines it as follows: "Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." This, as it happens, is the opposite of what his article sought to do. Yet an understanding of the precautionary principle is fundamental to Walport's role.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/beware-the-rise-of-the-government-scientists-turned-lobbyists-by-george-monbiot

Guantanamo’s Death Row

By Tom Hayden

Source: Tomhayden.com

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

Your Guantanamo choice – to release the hunger strikers or let them die – reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s similar choice in 1981 when “the Iron Lady,” as her admirers called her, allowed 10 Irishmen to slowly starve to death because she would not recognize their most basic human rights. Thatcher’s stubborn reputation was preserved. But the whole world was watching. One of the strikers, Bobby Sands, was elected to parliament as he lay dying. The agony caused massive sympathy for Irish Republicans and led directly to the political success of Sinn Fein and the Good Friday peace agreement.

You alone face a similar crisis. Despite your original vow to close Guantanamo, members of Congress, Democrats included, have blocked your every effort. It is understandable that you would hesitate to unilaterally release detainees held in Guantanamo by your own administration. But your policy of brutal force-feeding is an abhorrent example of torturing prisoners to “save” them. But if the alternative is to send an estimated 17 men to their deaths as martyrs, after excruciating treatment at the hands of their guards, under a global media spotlight, I believe that some in the White House are reconsidering the options. They must do so quickly.

The White House has the power to reframe the issue. Your political opponents and many moderate voters define the detainees as terrorists who deserve their fate, and who, if released, will return to the battlefield against the United States. The facts are these: the total number at Guantanamo has declined from 240 to 166 since your promise to close the facility. There are 86 already designated for transfer, 56 of them from Yemen. You have the power, on a case-by-case basis, to release them, although many in Congress will complain vociferously. Sen. Diane Feinstein, however, already has called on you to lift the ban. Not only will such a step ease the Guantanamo crisis, it may facilitate the stalled talks with the Taliban. The release of one US prisoner held by the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has been blocked by House Republicans objecting to an exchange for some Taliban detainees in Guantanamo; the exchange was meant to be a step toward a negotiated settlement.

The principle reason the Guantanamo detainees are willing to die is that that they believe, on the basis of all they know and have experienced, that there is no hope whatever for release in their lifetimes. While suicide bombers have committed their bodies as weapons, these prisoners are using their bodies nonviolently in a form of radical suicide.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/guantanamo-s-death-row-by-tom-hayden

New Research: Economic Austerity in US and Europe 'Is Killing People'

By Jon Queally

Source: Common Dreams

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recessions hurt, but austerity kills.

Discovering that the cure to the financial crisis of 2008 was in some ways worse than the affliction, Stucklet and Basu argue that countries "turned their recessions into veritable epidemics" by championing austerity measures that ultimately "ruined or extinguished" thousands of lives in series of "misguided" attempts to balance budgets, appease financial markets, and bow to the economic elite.

"The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide," said Dr. Stuckler in a statement. "Austerity is having a devastating effect."


We were shocked and concerned at the illogic of the austerity advocates, and the hard data on its human and economic costs. We realized the impact of the Great Recession went far beyond people losing their homes and jobs. It was a full-scale assault on people's health. At the heart of the argument was the question of what it means to be a society, and what the appropriate role of government is in protecting people.


"Ultimately what we show is that worsening health is not an inevitable consequence of economic recessions. It's a political choice," said Professor Basu.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/new-research-economic-austerity-in-us-and-europe-is-killing-people-by-jon-queally

Sort of a NSS article that nobody here, I'm sure needs research to know how austerity kills, but it's slightly encouraging to see more people writing about it.

The Changing Map Of Europe And The Middle East For The Last Thousand Years, In 10 Minutes



The Changing Map Of Europe And The Middle East For The Last Thousand Years, In 10 Minutes
Monday, April 29, 2013

By Juan Cole

Source: Juancole.com

http://www.zcommunications.org/the-changing-map-of-europe-and-the-middle-east-for-the-last-thousand-years-in-10-minutes-by-juan-cole

"Go to Sleep or I Will Call the Planes"

—By Adam Serwer| Wed Apr. 24, 2013 6:01 AM PDT



A week ago, activist Farea al-Muslimi was live-tweeting the aftermath of a drone attack on his childhood village of Wessab in Yemen. Monday, he was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the legality and impact of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. It was the first time Congress has heard from a witness with anything close to first-hand experience with being on the receiving end of a drone strike.

"Women used to say go to sleep or I will call your father," Muslimi said. "Now they say go to sleep, or I will call the planes."

Last week's strike killed Hameed al-Radmi, described by the US government as an Al Qaeda leader, and four suspected militants. But Muslimi told the Senate that Radmi had recently met with Yemeni government officials, and could easily have been captured, rather than killed in a strike that alienated everyone in the village.

"ll they have is the psychological fear and terror that now occupies their souls," Muslimi said of the residents of Wessab. "They fear that their home or a neighbor's home could be bombed at any time by a U.S. drone." President Obama received some backup from an unlikely source—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has spent the last week criticizing the Obama administration for handling the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in civilian court. Graham said although he would prefer to capture terror suspects, Yemeni officials couldn't be trusted to apprehend them. "The world we live in is where if you share this closely held information you're going to end up tipping off somebody," Graham told Muslimi.


Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/yemen-drone-strikes-senate-hearing



Drone Wars: How White Privilege Obscures Real Dialogue

By Noor Mir and Rooj Alwazir

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Farea wasn’t there to try to win the hearts and minds of Senate by giving them policy or reform suggestions. He was there to tell his story. But white privilege and its associated subjectivities were clearly in action.

“I have been to Yemen,” Lindsey Graham said to Farea al-Muslimi. Our blood pressures rose. “Isn’t your country in turmoil?” Graham continued. “We have some problems.” replied Al-Muslimi. Graham ended his questioning, self-indulgent smirk on his face, as if to say, “I rest my case.” Although we doubt he is even aware of the terminology, Graham’s neo-colonial presumptions about Farea’s understanding of his own country were disgusting.

No, Senator, you do not rest your case. We, as citizens of the United States and witnesses to the turmoil in this nation, do not accept your reasoning. Schools are shutting down across the country and students are staging walkouts on this very day to protest this blow to their rights to a fair and equal education. Affirmative action is still a subject of debate, as though structural inequalities are a myth. We are still waging an endless, futile and racist war on drugs and extending a school to prison pipeline that is tearing apart families and disenfranchising youth. Racial profiling is rife, with a Palestinian woman in a hijab being assaulted in a Boston suburb last week following the bombings and a Bangladeshi man being savagely beaten in the Bronx on account of the color of his skin. This country is ripped down the middle when it comes to gun control despite the serious shootings that have devastated Aurora (and remember Columbine?). Monsanto damages our food diversity and destroys our health but props up our elected officials with one hand and stifles small farms with the other. There are uprisings, there is dissent, there is police brutality. This country is in no lesser turmoil than Yemen, or Pakistan, just because the standards to which you hold our homelands in comparison to yours is whitewashed by your condescension and insensitivity to difference. Your bigotry precedes you, Senators -- your causation is fundamentally flawed.

Lindsey Graham was not the only one whose self-righteous “understanding” of the political and cultural landscapes of places like Pakistan and Yemen barred him from actually exploring the human cost of war. The majority of the hearing focused on analyzing the flaws of the current administration’s reliance on an overbearing executive authority and reforming the AUMF. We waited with bated breath for it to go beyond what we had hoped was only a self-obsessed, stagnant battle of the egos, but it did not. Questions prized legal, constitutional and operational aspects over ones actually pertaining to stories that Farea could have told, their commentaries punctuated with “We thank you for coming such a long way,” or “We thank you for that chilling perspective.” Nobody apologized for bombing his village, Wessab. They ascribed so profoundly and unwaveringly to forceful measures of “counterterrorism” as a given strategy with no room for questioning that they, in turn, tried to reject the validity of his personal experiences.


http://www.zcommunications.org/drone-wars-how-white-privilege-obscures-real-dialogue-by-noor-mir
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