Millions in farm subsidies given to dead US farmers

I really felt this needed to be shared

July 31 2013

Millions of dollars have gone to farmers years after their death as part of various farm safety net programs under the US Department of Agriculture, according to a recent government audit.

Federal auditors who poured through the USDA’s crop insurance, disaster assistance and conservation programs have found that $36.6 million were disbursed to deceased recipients, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO report points to the biggest offender as the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which disburses crop insurance, as having issued $22 million in subsidies one or two years after a recipient’s death.

The report has been released ahead of meetings in the House and Senate to hammer out a farm bill that may expand subsidies like crop insurance, and casts doubts on the Agriculture Department’s ability to weed out waste, fraud and abuse.

The GAO itself states that findings “may call into question whether these farm safety net programs are benefiting the agricultural sector as intended.”

Though the funds improperly doled out to the deceased farmers represent a fraction of the $20 billion in annual federal subsidies for farm incomes, as the Los Angeles Times reports, the report also comes at a critical juncture for Congress as both parties spar over the total cost of a pending $1 trillion farm bill. And if segments such as crop insurance do increase as expected, then the USDA’s inability to detect waste or fraud may only increase accordingly.

For its part, the department of agriculture is not disputing the GAO’s findings, though it has taken exception to claims that it did not have sufficient controls in place to detect improper payments, according to the New York Times.

Environmental activists, who oppose federal subsidies that, for example, encourage an artificially inflated production of corn – with implications into the popularity of GMO crops and the widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup – point to government waste as indicating a need for reforms.

“Not only are unlimited crop insurance subsidies flowing to the largest and most successful farm businesses, they are now going to deceased policyholders,” said Scott Faber, vice president of the Environmental Working Group in a statement issued Monday.

“At a time when some lawmakers want to cut off funding for the hungriest children, we find out today the federal government has spent $22 million over four years to lavish insurance subsidies to individuals who are no longer alive,” added Faber.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) opposes what it deems “bloated” farm subsidies that produce ultimately harmful incentives to plow up wetlands, grasslands and marginal lands, or place any emphasis on soil health. As RT recently reported, corn subsidies combined with a growing deficiency in GMO corn has resulted in greater use of pesticides.

According to a recent report published by the journal Food Policy cited by EWG US farm subsidies ultimately “have negligible impact on the prices paid by consumers for food. EWG cites other evidence that even the total elimination of US farm programs “would have a very modest effect on farm prices and production” of subsidized crops such as corn and wheat.

Though the debate over whether the currently gargantuan sum doled out by the federal government in the form of the farm bill is fair, is ongoing, this latest disclosure of funds making their way to deceased individuals only provides more ammunition to critics of government waste.

Both EWG and a slew of advocacy organizations that are concerned over everything from GMOs to pesticide use argue that crop insurance programs in particular have been transformed from their original intent, which was to compensate farmers from weather-caused crop losses, to a virtual guarantee of farm income.

GAO auditors are now suggesting that the USDA implement use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to identify payments made to dead individuals. According to the GAO, agencies under the department of agriculture are currently utilizing an incomplete version of that data, and thus failing to identify deceased recipients.
Source

If there is one thing the US Government does really well it is waste money. Their accounting is just horrid.

I wonder if they ever found the trillions lost as reported the day before 9/11 and If I remember correctly they lost and\other trillion or so latter, as well as all the money lost on contractors during the Iraq war?

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Canada: McTeer accuses Tories of putting women’s lives at risk

May 5 2010

The federal government’s decision not to fund abortion as part of its new G8 maternal health initiative will contribute to the loss of life of women and young girls, says Maureen McTeer, wife of former Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark.

McTeer, who works with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, said she was at first “delighted” to hear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned to make reducing maternal and childhood morbidity and mortality in the developing world a key initiative when he hosts next month’s G8 and G20 summits in Ontario.

However, the federal government’s plan to exclude abortion from its funding for the initiative means women who live in conflict zones where rape is a tool of war, or young girls who are married off to older men and find themselves pregnant at age 10 or 11, will be left to their own devices when trying to access a safe abortion, McTeer said.

“In situations where they are pregnant against their will, (help is about) providing them with a safe abortion,” McTeer told CTV’s Power Play Wednesday afternoon. “Because women will continue to abort if the situation is as dire as it is for so many of these women. They die, the fetus dies. What in the world are we saying to our partners around the world? Why are we so smug about saying to them, ‘Well, figure it out as best you can?'”

The government’s stance on abortion as it pertains to the maternal health initiative has become a hot topic on Parliament Hill, and gained steam earlier this week when Conservative Sen. Nancy Ruth advised a gathering of women’s groups to “shut the f–k up” on the abortion issue or risk a blacklash from the government.

The day after Ruth’s contentious comments, it was revealed the government had cut funding to 11 women’s groups over the past two weeks. On Wednesday, Liberal status of women critic Anita Neville said by her count, 24 groups have had their funding cut, including groups that have long been funded by Status of Women Canada.

“I think it’s politics at its worst,” Neville said, adding that funding was slashed to groups that “had the temerity to speak out against” the government on abortion or other issues.

Government defends spending

Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women, responded that the government is spending the most it has ever spent on women’s programs, but cannot fund all 400 groups that apply for funding.

According to Ambrose, 78 groups have had their funding requests approved, and 40 per cent of them are “brand new groups that have never received funding before.”

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff criticized the funding cuts in the House Wednesday, saying the government is trying to bully and bankrupt its critics.

“This is a big issue here. It is about whether the government respects democracy,” Ignatieff said.

“That is the fundamental issue. When will the Conservatives stop the smears, stop the attacks, stop the intimidation and start showing the Canadian people some respect?”

Transport Minister John Baird replied by charging Ignatieff with bullying his MPs for forcing them to vote against a bill to scrap the long gun registry.

“Let us let members of Parliament honour the sacred trust, the promises that they made to their electorate,” Baird said.

Shift in policy

McTeer accused the government of backing away from a foreign aid policy that has long supported access to safe abortions as part of maternal and reproductive health initiatives.

“Maternal health, and sexual and reproductive health, which is what we’re talking about here, is about providing a basket of services that are needed by women because they happen to be able to bear babies,” McTeer said.

“So that’s what we’re talking about here. This is a brand new shift in our foreign policy, because our foreign policy since the Nairobi Conference has been quite clear: we have supported women’s access to all necessary medical procedures related to reproduction and sexuality where they are legal.”

McTeer said the goal is always to provide women with health services so they can avoid having to make the “terrible decisions” that many women have to make every day. The initiative must include funding for health facilities, trained health workers and equipment, she said.

But she wondered what will come of the negotiations at the two summits, when the Canadian government will be facing countries such as Britain, the U.S. and France, all of which support abortion as part of maternal health.

“The larger question is:

Is our government willing to do what’s needed to be done to save women’s lives? Historically Canada has,” McTeer said. “We seem to be moving away from that policy now. We don’t know what the final agenda will look like, we don’t know how it will play out.” Source

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Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare

By Timothy B. Hurst
December 6 2008
Extraction and refining heavy oil from Canadian tar sands will have increasingly devastating impacts on migratory bird populations, according to a new study.

oil refinery in canadian tar sands

According to anew report, the cumulative impact of developing Canadian tar sands over the next 30–50 years could be as high as 166 million birds lost, including future generations. Written by scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Boreal Songbird Initiative, and Pembina Institute, the peer-reviewed paper suggests that avian mortality from continued development of Canada’s tar sands would provide a serious blow to migratory bird populations in North America.

It is estimated that half of America’s migratory birds nest in the Boreal forest, and each year 22–170 million birds breed in the area that could eventually be developed for tar sands oil if the rate of development continues at it is currently planned.

“At a time when bird populations are rapidly declining, this report puts into perspective the far reaching effects of tar sands oil development on North America’s birds,” said the report’s lead author Jeff Wells, Ph.D. of the Boreal Songbird Initiative. “The public needs to understand the real and long-term ecological costs of this development and determine if this is acceptable,” added Wells.

suncor tar sands mining in alberta, canada

In Alberta, tar sands mining and drilling causes significant habitat loss and fragmentation. Expansive toxic tailings ponds are protected by propane cannons that are used to keep ducks from landing in them.

toxic oil shale tailings

When those cannons fail, we see unfortunate accidents like the one this past summer in Alberta when some 500 ducks were killed after landing in a tailings pond. Toxic tailing ponds result in 8,000 to 100,000 oiled and drowned birds annually.

duck being cleaned of oil

Authors of the report suggest that an immediate solution to the unsustainable pace of development and to environmental problems relating to tar sands oil development is a moratorium on all new projects, project expansions, and to clean up existing projects.

For Canada to take the kind of substantive action necessary to prevent the ecological damage suggested by this report, it may require international pressure; the kind of pressure that could be applied by a renegotiated NAFTA that strengthens environmental laws, something that president-elect Obama has suggested he would like to see.

Images courtesy of: 1. & 3. David Dodge/Pembina Institute; 2. & 4. D. Faucher/Ducks Unlimited; 5. Sun Media Corp.

Source

The report covers the various ways tar sands development affects bird populations, including:

-Habitat Loss
-Tailings Ponds and Oiled Birds
-Fragmentation of Habitat from Drilling
-Water Withdrawals
-Air and Water Toxins
-High Emissions and Global Warming

In the Beginning.

1970’s Film – The Tar Sands

This clip shows the various refinement steps required to convert tar sands into usable crude oil and other petroleum products.

The methods have changed since then, but the  environmental impact is still very disturbing.

As Alberta’s tar sands production continues to increase at a rapid rate new ‘tailings ponds’ or toxic lakes from spent refining of the heavy crude oil trapped in sand are popping up everywhere and kilometers in size for the most part.

Tar Sands the Beginning of the End of the Carbon Age -Clearing the forest for the Oil Sands

At the Athabasca tar sands deposits north of Fort McMurray companies like Syncrude move unfettered and with strong support from local media companies despite the high pollution levels and carbon dioxide emissions.

America Looks to Canada’s Tar Sands for Next Century As the neighbor to the north Canada it appears is more then happy to develop its tar sands at any cost and as fast as possible despite the environmental fallout from the heavy crude oil reserves.

Source for Videos

Alberta  Oil Sands Cause Acid Rain

The Human Cost

By Matthew Kruchak and James Wood
February 16, 2008

Acid rain caused by Alberta oilsands production is pouring down on Saskatchewan and if governments don’t take note, any oilsands development in this province will contribute to the “most destructive project on Earth,” the Environmental Defence organization warns.

A report released Friday by the group says 70 per cent of the sulphur entering Alberta’s air ends up in Saskatchewan. Acid rain is produced by the interaction between water, sulphur and nitrogen oxides.

“Acid rain causes damage and death to the ecosystem and also human health,” said Christopher Hatch, a climate change campaigner with Environmental Defence. “People in Saskatchewan should be very concerned that neither the federal nor provincial governments are getting to the bottom of this.

“So what is it that they don’t want people to know? There’s obviously a problem — any layperson can tell that. Why are they not funding studies to ensure human health?”

The report, titled Canada’s Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth, outlines the environmental and human health effects of the oilsands and offers the federal government solutions, Hatch said.

“It’s a toxic nightmare — it really is,” he said. “To fly over the Alberta oilsands as it is — and it’s only just beginning — it’s a toxic moonscape.”

The group is calling on the federal government to step in and force the cleanup or work with the Alberta government to address environmental issues, he said.

In the past 12 years, at a Saskatchewan site (which was not identified) 200 kilometres downwind from the oilsands, the mean level of acid in precipitation had increased, the report stated, with measurements going from pH 5.3 to 4.1. Normal rainfall has a pH of 5.6.

Saskatchewan Environment ran 10 monitoring stations across the oilsands in the northwest of the province and found a buildup of nitrogen from Alberta, the report stated in a section called Raining Acid on Saskatchewan.

“On the toxic front, it’s really a looming human health disaster,” Hatch said.

Environment Minster Nancy Heppner had little to say about the report Friday.

Asked about the environmental impact of the Alberta oilsands projects, Heppner said she didn’t have any details.

“I’ve heard things, that water’s being contaminated and those sorts of things. I don’t have any specifics. I haven’t seen the report you are talking about today and obviously there’s more information we’ll be looking at to make sure that if there were mistakes made on the Alberta side that we won’t be making those here,” Heppner told reporters at the legislature just before leaving for a climate change conference in Australia.

However, she said the government is concerned about acid rain from the oilsands.

“I understand there’s some concern and we’ve met with some people, some residents of northern Saskatchewan, who are concerned about acidification of our lakes and that’s something we’re going to look at,” said Heppner.

NDP environment critic Sandra Morin questioned Heppner’s lack of knowledge about the report.

Morin said “she had no reason to doubt” the report’s characterization of the oilsands as “the most destructive project on Earth.”

“It’s incredibly distressing that 70 per cent of the acid rain, the contamination, is going to be affecting Saskatchewan. Clearly, with the development happening there and 70 per cent of those emissions affecting Saskatchewan people, one has to be concerned about the further development of the oilsands in Alberta, which is supposed to triple in the next 10 years, not to mention the further development of the oilsands projects that are happening in Saskatchewan.”

The Saskatchewan Party government is supportive of oilsands projects in this province, but Heppner said the environment won’t be sacrificed.

“We are committed as a government going forward with development to make sure the environment is protected. There are environmental impact assessments that are done for projects and that will certainly be the case going forward. We do not want our environment to be destroyed while we develop our province,” she said.

Officials from the Ministry of Environment were unavailable for comment Friday.

A representative from Oilsands Quest, a company leading the development of the oilsands industry in Saskatchewan, was also unavailable for comment Friday.

Source

I  love this car more every day.

Solar car completes 1st round-the-world trip

These ones too.

Car that runs on air!

Air Car (1 of 2) from France

Air Car (2 of 2) from Australia

The UN’s carbon trading system in numbers

The United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism was intended to offer rich countries an efficient market mechanism to achieve some of of their emission-cutting obligations at lower cost by installing green technology in developing countries. Since the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005, more than 1,800 projects have been registered.

In other words Carbon Credits means going into another country setting up a facility and selling the product. Privatization and profit.

This does nothing to remove pollution from ones country just an opportunity for profit in another country.

Pollution should be removed from your own country, not using another country to make it look like you are removing pollution from your own.

Carbon Credits are bogus.

Added May 15 2012

Stop Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project

Please Sign petition below.

http://freedomtrain2012.nationbuilder.com/

Added September 7 2010

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Canadians using food banks at record levels

November 25, 2008

OTTAWA

Working Canadians are turning to food banks in record numbers and the demand is set to increase as the global financial crisis hits harder and people take lower-paying jobs, a leading charity said on Tuesday.

Food Banks Canada said a record 14.5 percent of Canadian households with at least one working adult were receiving help from food banks, up from 11.9 percent in 2002.

Despite a decade of healthy economic growth, food bank use remains 6 percent higher than in 1997.

Around 700,000 of Canada’s 33 million population — a third of them children — are helped by a food bank each month, said the association, which represents food bank operations across the country.

“More people assisted by food banks are working. We are seeing this trend right across the country,” said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada.

“Individuals and families are struggling as well-paying jobs are replaced by those that do not provide adequate wages, and that are more likely to be part-time or temporary,” she said in a statement.

Schmidt called on the federal government to increase benefits paid to the working poor and to children.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

Source

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 1:13 am  Comments Off on Canadians using food banks at record levels  
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World Bank offers Nigeria fresh $3bn loan

By Everest Amaefule, Abuja

Nov 10 2008

The World Bank has offered Nigeria the opportunity of a fresh loan of $3bn to improve on its infrastructure.

The window of opportunity is open between 2009 and 2011, according to a senior official of the bank, Mr. Simeon Ehui, who spoke when a group of foreign journalists and alumni of the International Institute of Journalism, led by Head of the institute, Mr. Astrid Kohl, visited the bank on Saturday.

Ehui, who represented the Country Director of the bank, Mr. Onno Ruhl, said the country was eligible to get $3bn to support development projects and eradicate poverty as a result of improvement in the economy.

The meeting was also attended by the Chief Economist of the World Bank Office in Nigeria, Mr. Volker Treichel, and Senior Communications Officer, Mr. Obadiah Tomohdet.

According to Ehui, “The $3bn for three years is a concessionary loan with zero interest rate. It will not add any burden to Nigeria. The loan has been offered to Nigeria because of the massive improvement in the economy.

“As at 1994, there was no commitment by the bank in Nigeria. But the World Bank’s commitment in Nigeria has grown since 1999 to $2.2bn in 2006 and over $2.5bn currently. The improvement in the bank’s commitment in Nigeria over the years is not by chance. It is as a result of improved governance and economic performance.”

The senior bank official explained that the loan was tied to several developmental projects, including education, health, roads, and agriculture, adding that it was an International Development Association concessionary loan with no interest rate apart from administrative charges.

He also noted that Africa now had an additional seat on the World Bank board but added that the country or region that would take the slot was being finalised.

Speaking at the event, the World Bank chief economist said Nigeria’s double-digit growth target was realisable, but urged the Federal Government to address the power problem in the country.

Meanwhile, the bank in its “World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography”, released on Friday, said policies that facilitated geographic concentration and economic integration, both within and across countries, as well as within the global economy, would promote long-term growth in Africa.

According to the Director of the report, Mr. Indemit Gill, growth does not come to every place at once, with markets favouring some places over others.

To encourage prosperity, he said, governments should facilitate the geographic concentration of production, rather than fight it. But they must also institute policies that would make the provision of basic needs – schools, security, streets, and sanitation – more universal, he added.

The report noted that sub-Saharan Africa today faced the triple challenges of low density or scarce and scattered populations; long distances between remote areas and centres of economic activity; and deep divisions in national, religious, and ethnic terms.

Source

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 7:55 am  Comments Off on World Bank offers Nigeria fresh $3bn loan  
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