Glyphosate in Round Up guilty of causing Cancer

There is a lot of information about this product. It is something everyone world wide should know about. For years we have been told it was safe. Turns out it is not so safe after all. It is making people sick. It is doing a great deal of damage to the health of animals and in many cases they die. Many products have been tested and found to have Glyphosate in them.Glyphosate is in Round Up. It kills bacteria in our digestive system. That should be of great concern to everyone. That bacteria is important to keep animal lives healthy that includes you. If that bacteria is destroyed animal life becomes sick. Humans, cats, dogs, chickens, cattle, sheep, pigs or any other animals that consume Glyphosate in their food. I have found it is in a lot of foods. I will post a list of some of the ones I have found. Round up is also used to ripen crops faster, so in those foods there would also be Glyphosate.

Finally some one stood up against this and won. The amount has changed and he will not receive that amount if any, as Bayer has filed for an appeal. Due to this court case a lot of things were brought to light. Monsanto knew that Round Up causes cancer.

August 13, 2018

Bayer’s stock slumped more than 10 percent in trading Monday, three days after a California jury awarded $289 million to a former groundskeeper who said the popular weedkiller Roundup gave him terminal cancer. Go Here for the rest of the Story.

There are other court cases pending against Bayer. Litzenburg said his firm is representing 2,000 people in their claims against Monsanto, and that there are probably 5,000 cases across the country.

When all is said and done there may be many more.

Now back to what you need to know about Round Up

Start here and listen to this fellow. He explains how it works rather well. Take the time. Everyone needs to know this. What you don’t know might kill you or someone you love. It might even kill your beloved pets.

Dr. Thierry Vrain, former genetic engineer and soil biologist with Agriculture Canada, spoke with us today about his concerns with genetically engineered crops (GMOs) and more importantly, the use of Glyphosate (RoundUp). Dr. Vrain’s background in the field of genetic engineering (for 30 years), makes him an expert on this gene technology. He explained how a cell is genetically engineered and what happens after this random insertion process through a gene gun and how it can have unknown effects. Since leaving Agriculture Canada 12 years ago, he has learned much more about the process of genetic engineering and the BT process (insect resistant) and the HT (herbicide resistant) crops that make up about 500 million acres. His primary concern at this time is the widespread use of Glyphosate which is a powerful herbicide, mineral chelator and a patented antibiotic. Dr. Vrain stated when speaking about Glyphosate: “It’s almost as if the entire population of North American is on a low-grade antibiotic diet day in day out from birth, everyday, so this is the reality.”

 

Here are a few links to check out.

What Crops Are Sprayed with Glyphosate? Over 70 of Them To Be Exact

Glyphosate in Food: List of Popular Chips Filled with The Cancer-Causing Herbicide, Roundup

I would call this the short list.

Glyphosate in Food: Complete List of Products and Brands Filled with Popular Cancer-Causing Weed-Killer

Every wonder why you pets get sick? Before you buy dog or cat food check the ingredients. Look for GMO’s for one.Soy, Corn, Beets, Grains in general.  Look for anything that may have been sprayed with Round Up. Sugar is in many pet foods, Not sure why, as it is bad for pets on it’s own…….Lots of products for pets have sugar in them.

Now they’ve found it in dog food! Scientists discover traces of controversial weed killer glyphosate linked to cancer in popular pet food

The most vulnerable, your baby could be getting it in their food.

Best advice Make your own baby food as much as possible.

It is simple to do. Buy a blender. Buy food you are sure has not been sprayed with Round Up.

Cook, Blend, then add a bit of milk to it just before feeding it to you little one.

Make sure the milk is organic. Don’t want milk from cows fed with anything that has been sprayed with Round Up.

The same would apply to any meat you fed you little one.

That is what I would do. Not a big deal to make your own.

No additives necessary.

Monsanto’s Roundup Found in Baby Food

Roundup’s Toxic Chemical Glyphosate, Found In 100% Of California Wines Tested

They should test many other products, that are made as well.

That is it for today. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Be sure to share. I want everyone safe.

 

Published in: on January 3, 2019 at 10:32 pm  Comments Off on Glyphosate in Round Up guilty of causing Cancer  
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McDonald’s drops U.S. egg supplier over ‘disturbing’ animal-cruelty video

By Mira Oberman

Nov 19, 2011

CHICAGO — Fast food giant McDonald’s severed ties with one of its American egg suppliers Friday after a video taken by undercover animal rights activists exposed shocking cruelty to chickens at a farm.

The footage showed chicks having the tips of their beaks being burned off by a machine and then tossed into cages along with images of barely identifiable corpses of birds that were left to rot in cages.

It also showed unwanted chicks left to die in plastic bags, birds mangled by the bars of overcrowded cages, and a chicken flapping its wings in distress as a plant worker swung the creature on a rope in a wide circle.

There are no federal laws governing the treatment of poultry on U.S. farms and most states have sweeping exemptions for farmed animals which allow for abuses to run rampant without prosecution.

“Unfortunately, much of the abuse we documented is not only standard, it’s legal,” Nathan Runkle, director of Mercy for Animals, which obtained the clandestine footage, told AFP.

“We’ve done over a dozen investigations at factory farms from coast to coast,” he said. “Every time we’ve sent an investigator into one of these facilities they’ve come out with shocking evidence of abuse and neglect.”

McDonald’s confirmed it had directed its supplier, Cargill, to stop sourcing McDonald eggs from Sparboe, the company at the center of the cruelty video.

“The behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

“McDonald’s wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility — along with our customers’ trust — very seriously.”

Sparboe, a family-run company, said it had launched a probe after learning of the video and has fired four workers who engaged in mistreatment of chickens.

In a message posted on a dedicated website, owner Beth Sparboe Schnell said an independent auditor from Iowa State University confirmed the company is in “full compliance with our animal welfare policies.”

She said Sparboe Farms was the first American egg producer to have its “science-based animal care production guideline” certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But Runkle noted that the video shows that “much of the mishandling type of abuse took place directly in front of and under the watch of supervisors and managers” at Sparboe facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado.

He also said McDonald’s decision to drop Sparboe as a supplier also fails to provide a solution to the real problem — the use of cramped battery cages which give hens no room to walk or spread their wings, Runkle added.

Mercy for Animals said it was urging McDonald’s to use its influence as the largest egg purchaser in the United States to improve industry standards and stop buying eggs from farms that use such cages.

The video was released a day after federal inspectors issued a warning letter to Sparboe citing “serious violations” of food safety rules, including inadequate rodent control and testing for the presence of deadly Salmonella bacteria. Source

McDonald’s Cruelty: The Rotten Truth About Egg McMuffins‬

November 17 2011

Factory Farming is what they are talking about.

Factory Farming is horrid and the cruelty towards animals is beyond anything imaginable. Your really should see what happens to the animals you are eating and the unhealthy environment they are raised in.

I have a few examples of it below.

Food Inc. An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.

This documentary covers Chickens and Cattle For eating.

Go HERE for Documentary Wait for the Free User to come up and click on it.

Go HERE for more links if the Above one does not work.

Now here we have a few other Shorter Videos on Factory Farming

Hens Abused at Major California Egg Factory Farm

Rosebud Hog Factory – Part 1

At this crowded South Dakota factory farm, pigs limp across their pens exhibiting basketball-sized ruptures (hernias) and huge infected abscesses.

Rosebud Hog Factory – Part 2

Nebraska Hog Factory – Part 1

Emaciated female breeding sows, many with open sores, are housed at this factory farm in crates measuring 19 inches wide — even smaller than the industry norm of 24 inches

Nebraska Hog Factory – Part 2

Downed Animals

Disabled cows at this Nebraska slaughterhouse are dragged off trucks with a chain, then are abandoned for days without food, water, or protection from the elements. Many die from their injuries, illnesses, starvation, or dehydration.

Humane Farming Association on Oprah

September 21, 2011

HFA’s Bradley Miller talking about the veal industry on Oprah.

 

Cow Factory Farming.

Investigation Reveals Cruelty at Pig Factory Farm

This video I posted so you can see what is done to the baby pigs.  Even if your not a vegetarian you must still see this as very cruel inhumane treatment of an animal.

The Pig Picture Part 1

The Pig Picture highlights never-before-seen-HFA investigative footage. This powerful 18-minute video traces the development of commercial pig rearing in America – from the small-scale family farms of yesterday – to the corporate owned pig factories of today.

 

The Pig Picture Part 2

More information and Videos HERE

Humane Farming Association

Mercy for Animals

Animals need room to roam.

They need fresh air and to be clean.

Any animals who are caged or over crowed, as the animals in the videos go insane.

Imagine if you were trapped in a small room 10 feet by 10 feet with 20 people how would you feel. You have to stay in that small room until the day you die.

Think about it.

There are still many farmers who do not use factory farming methods to raise their animals.

The food they produce is much safer and the animals have less illnesses.

Antibiotics nor hormones should be put into food fed to animals.

The only time antibiotics should be used is if he animals is ill.

The US needs to protect your food supply, not let things like Factory Farming take over your food supply.  Factory Farming should be outlawed and normal farmers grow your food. Farm Animals need to be protected.

Imagine if those things were done your a dog or cat. Well Farm Animals need love and protection just like your pets.

Farm animals  have feelings too.

I know I grew up around farmers. They never would  do anything this horrible to any animal.  They treated their animals extremely well.

Factory Farms are not Real Farmers they are just greedy profiteers.

Real Farmers take great care with their animals.

I buy all my meat from Real Farmers.

I know first hand how they are treated.

I know first hand what they are fed.

I know the Farmers personally.

Factory Farms put Real Farmers out of business.

The thought of eating anything that comes from a Factory farm turns my stomach.

I kid you not Been there, Done that, Got the tee shirts.

Just watching the Videos of those poor animals made me chuck my cookies.

I don’t eat Fast Food. I would never know where the meat comes from.

I don’t take chances with my health. I also do not want to contribute to animal cruelty.

If you hate puppy mills then you should hate Factory Farms.

If you however wish to continue to eat Factory Farm Food

Remember you are contributing to the cruelty of innocent animals.

A happy animal is a healthier animal.

Animals need to go outside and have freedom to live just like we do. They need to feel the grass under their feet, the sunshine and enjoy the shade of trees. They should be respected and treated humanly.

As a consumer you can demand food from Real Farmers who raise animals in a safe, clean, healthy and humane environment.

We are after all the 99%.

Don’t allow A Factory Farm in your community.

This doesn’t just happen in the US. Factory Farming has spread to other Countries.

Now for something else you should know about

Supreme Court case: meat industry sues to keep downed animals in food supply

By Michael Greger, M.D.
Nov 3 2011

This week I participated in a press briefing to discuss National Meat Association v. Harris, a case appearing before the Supreme Court next week. The meat industry is trying to overturn a California law meant to keep “downed” animals—those too sick and disabled to walk to slaughter—out of the American food supply.

In 2008, an undercover investigation of a dairy cow slaughterplant in California showed that downers were being dragged to slaughter for hamburger meat distributed to the Federal School Lunch Program. The Humane Society of the United States investigators documented workers dragging downed cows with chains, ramming them with forklifts, shocking cows repeatedly in the face and eyes, beating them, and even shooting high-pressure hoses up their nostrils—anything to squeeze every last bit of profit from these animals. The investigation triggered the largest meat recall in U.S. history—143 million pounds of beef—for violations of food safety regulations meant to protect the public from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”).

The investigation prompted California to strengthen its laws to keep downer livestock out of the food supply.  The meat industry—represented by the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute—responded by suing the State of California to block the enforcement of the law on the grounds that only USDA had the authority to determine which animals are turned into meat. The California Attorney General argued that states should have the right to protect their citizens from the risks and abuses inherent in slaughtering downed animals. In response to the meat industry lawsuit, a federal judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of the downer ban, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and reinstated the law. So the National Meat Association took it to the Supreme Court.

The handling of downers is not just an animal welfare issue. Inability to stand can be a symptom of disease that could threaten public health. Compared to those able to walk, downed cows were found to have 3 times the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7, the strain that kills dozens of Americans a year. The researchers concluded “downer dairy cattle harboring E. coli O157:H7 at slaughter may be an important source of contamination and may contribute to the health risk associated with ground beef.” A single downed cow infected with such a pathogen could theoretically contaminate more than 100,000 hamburgers with an infectious dose.

Downer pigs and sheep may also present a food safety risk. Downed pigs have been found to have 16 times the odds of antibiotic resistant Campylobacter infection, the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the United States. Allowing downer pigs in the food supply, concluded one team of researchers, “potentially endangers public health.”

Even if one doesn’t eat meat, more than half of downer pigs tested in the Midwest were found to be actively infected with swine flu, both the classic swine flu virus and the triple hybrid mutant that led to the 2009 human pandemic that killed more than ten thousand Americans.

Other human pathogens linked to downed farm animals include anthrax, Salmonella, and mad cow disease.  At least two-thirds of the 22 mad cows so far discovered in North America have been downer cows. Though the riskiest tissues—the brains, eyes, and spinal cords—of most cattle are now excluded from most food items in the United States, there may be contamination of muscle meat via aerosolization of the spinal cord during carcass splitting. Significant amounts of central nervous system debris found accumulating in the splitting saws used to halve the carcasses may have the potential to then transfer contagion from one carcass to the next. Although, technically, processors are instructed to knife-trim “material grossly identifiable as brain material, spinal cord, or fluid from punctured eyes,” researchers have reported finding nervous tissue contaminating muscle in a commercial slaughter plant. Contamination of meat derived from cattle cheeks with brain tissue can also occur if the cheek meat is not removed before the skull is fragmented or split. Finally, captive bolt stunning, the predominant method used to render farm animals insensible before being bled to death, may blow a shower of embolic brain tissue into the animals’ bloodstream. Texas A&M University researchers found bodily brain fragments as large as 14 cm. The researchers concluded that mad cow pathogens could potentially be “found throughout the bodies of animals stunned for slaughter.”

An unequivocal ban on the slaughter of downed animals for human consumption would remove the incentive for the meat industry to transport and torment these animals rather than euthanize them, and thereby bolster the safety of the food supply. Sick animals can lead to sick people. Source

USDA Wants Poultry Producers to Regulate Themselves

Mar 16, 2012

A report has been released by the Food & Water Watch which stated that the USDA wants poultry producers to regulate themselves. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) called this idea a “Recipe for food safety disaster”. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss this report and some of it’s more disgusting findings.

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Food Fraud-Yummy! Ammonia-Treated Pink Slime Now in Most U.S. Ground Beef

Added September 20 2012

“Pink Slime”: Back, With a $1.2 Billion Lawsuit

 

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Why won’t Israel allow Gazans to import coriander?

In its response to a freedom-of-information suit last week, the state admitted that there is specific list of goods permissible for import to Strip.

By Amira Hass

May 7 2010

The Defense Ministry is refusing – on security grounds, it says – to reveal why Israel prohibits the import into the Gaza Strip of items such as cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, french fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks empty flowerpots and toys, while allowing cinnamon, plastic buckets and combs.

But in its response to a freedom-of-information suit last week, the state did admit, for the first time, that there is specific list of permissible goods.

The suit, filed in the Tel Aviv administrative court by Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, sought to clarify the criteria and procedures the authorities use to determine what goods to allow into Gaza. It was filed after Gazans began claiming that commercial interests inside Israel, and their lobbying power, were determining the permitted items.

In its response, the state “apologized to the court and the plaintiff for inaccuracies presented during oral arguments [in January], due to certain misunderstandings.” The inaccuracy in question was its denial of the existence of written directives.

The response included two documents that the state termed drafts that are already being used in practice – one titled “Procedure for Permitting the Entry of Goods into Gaza” and one titled “Procedure for Tracking and Estimating Inventories in Gaza.” The latter is supposed to warn of existing or likely shortages.

The state also submitted a third document, a “List of Critical Humanitarian Goods for the Population,” whose existence it had previously denied. This list is periodically updated, it said.

A fourth document, called “Foodstuffs Consumption in Gaza – Red Lines,” is a draft for internal use only, the state said, “and has never served as a basis for decision-making.” Haaretz reporters Uri Blau and Yotam Feldman revealed the existence of this document in a June 2009 investigative report. It apparently determines the minimum nutritional needs of Gaza’s population, according to caloric intake and grams of food, parsed by age and gender.

The state seeks to deny Gisha’s suit on the grounds that revealing the first three documents would “harm national security and possibly even diplomatic relations.” And since the fourth is not a basis for policy, there is no need to reveal it, the state argued.

Gisha filed its response with the court yesterday, in which it reiterated its demand for any documents that determine the goods transfer policy. “It is difficult to imagine how publishing a list of products, such as medications, foodstuffs and hygiene products, or revealing the procedures that determine this list, could harm state security,” wrote attorney Tamar Feldman. Source

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Published in: on May 8, 2010 at 8:31 am  Comments Off on Why won’t Israel allow Gazans to import coriander?  
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Haitians worry free food distribution halted too soon

Haiti’s central government has stopped the UN food program that’s kept thousands fed since the January quake, even though many are still without homes or jobs

By Jessica Leeder

April 23 2010

Jacmel, Haiti —By government decree, the food and hunger situation in Haiti has returned to normal.

The trouble is, for most people here, real life has yet to catch up.

In an effort to rev up the economy and motivate people to return to work, Haiti’s central government has forced aid organizations to stop the free food distributions that have sustained a hefty swath of the population – 30,000 bellies per day in Jacmel alone – since January’s earthquake.

“They don’t want to breed this dependency,” said Hazem El Zein, head of programs for the World Food Program’s Jacmel sub-office. “Basically we are following what the government wants us to do.”

Although the WFP has led the emergency food effort since the Jan. 12 quake, when Mr. El Zein and others began handing out high-calorie biscuits to more than 4,000 people clustered at the city’s airport, the organization has been asked to revert to their “normal” pre-earthquake programming. That consists mostly of providing school meals for children and nutrition supplements for babies, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Final deliveries of the free sacks of rice, flour, beans, oil and salt were made by WFP trucks last week, and community leaders in camps for the internally displaced were given final notice of the abrupt program change.

Immediately, worries among local government officials and the population began to sprout over whether it’s too soon to institute such a dramatic shift in food strategy.

A young girl eats a bowl of rice and beans, a food staple in Haiti at the Abri Pwovizwa Shelter Camp in Jacmel, Haiti. The group of families, some 295 homeless people who are living in the yard of a church in Jacmel, Haiti, are one of many groups no longer receiving free food drops since the Haitian central government ordered aid organizations to stop providing free food distributions.

Thousands of people remain without homes or jobs in Jacmel. And while rubble-clearing efforts fuelled by cash-for-work programs have forged some noticeable progress on city streets, the 200 gourdes (about $5) per-day jobs have not proven to be a panacea for the stalled economy.

More cash-for-work and work-for-food positions will be created to help families bridge the difficult transition back to self-sufficiency, but they don’t yet exist. Organizations and government officials are still wrangling over details of the jobs and who will be responsible for managing them. Meanwhile, many people who still rely on food handouts for the bulk of their diets – which usually consist of just one meal per day – have no idea how they’ll make due without free food distributions in the short term.

“I don’t know what the consequences will be, but I’m sure it’s going to be a problem,” said Frantz Magellan Pierre-Louis, a spokesperson for Jacmel Mayor Edo Zenny.

At Pinchinat this week, a former school soccer field that is Jacmel’s largest camp for the internally displaced, what was once the field cooking area – a section of grass littered with small fires and piles of charcoal the cooking committee used to heat daily meals for residents – was abandoned. By mid-afternoon, when most kids would normally begin lining up for their daily bowl full of rice and beans, few people can be seen eating.

At the small independent encampment at the L’Eglise Wesleyenne the outdoor kitchen hasn’t been used this week. Although the cooking committee had been carefully maintaining an emergency store of rice and beans for fear the food supply would end, they have no oil with which to cook.

Midi Jackson, the camp spokesman, said no one has come to the camp from any organization to talk about what they should do in the short term. On his own, he’s been advising families to try to raise a bit of money from friends with means, and fend for themselves.

At the WFP, officials are optimistic that early bumps that have accompanied the food shift will soon be smoothed out. Plans are in the works to establish programs that boost local agriculture and support local markets. Some are only days away from implementation.

Before the earthquake, the organization had established a small footprint in Jacmel with a small food-for-work program, a school-feeding schedule for 57,000 students across the country’s south-eastern department, and a health and nutrition program to prevent malnourishment among 10,500 mostly rural young and female beneficiaries.

Mr. El Zein said he feels the goodwill that the WFP built up through that work will hold the organization in good stead while the current kinks are worked out.

“It’s a huge step to get the people to understand that, yes, free food has stopped but normal projects have continued plus we’re doing cash for work,” he said, adding: “We made very good relations with the people. They know us. The trust that the food will be there in the schools.

“If we hadn’t made these relations with the people … you would find 2,000 people at the gate,” he said, gesturing to the solid steel gate that secures the WFP’s walled Jacmel compound, which is patrolled by shotgun toting guards. “People know there is food in here.”  Source

No jobs, no money, no food. I can see this being a real problem for many.  Seems to me the put the cart, before the horse. They need a better strategy, then just stopping food aid.  This could cause riots in the streets.

I guess slavery in Haiti will be alive and well.  Some may even volunteer to be slaves just to get food.

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Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 2:24 am  Comments Off on Haitians worry free food distribution halted too soon  
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Cheap Food Imports destroyed Haitian agriculture

“With Cheap Food Imports, Haiti Can’t Feed Itself”

March 21 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The earthquake not only smashed markets, collapsed warehouses and left more than 2.5 million people without enough to eat. It may also have shaken up the way the developing world gets food.

Decades of inexpensive imports – especially rice from the U.S. – punctuated with abundant aid in various crises have destroyed local agriculture and left impoverished countries such as Haiti unable to feed themselves.

While those policies have been criticized for years in aid worker circles, world leaders focused on fixing Haiti are admitting for the first time that loosening trade barriers has only exacerbated hunger in Haiti and elsewhere.

They’re led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton – now U.N. special envoy to Haiti – who publicly apologized this month for championing policies that destroyed Haiti’s rice production. Clinton in the mid-1990s encouraged the impoverished country to dramatically cut tariffs on imported U.S. rice.

“It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”

Clinton and former President George W. Bush, who are spearheading U.S. fundraising for Haiti, arrive Monday in Port-au-Prince. Then comes a key Haiti donors’ conference on March 31 at the United Nations in New York.

Those opportunities present the country with its best chance in decades to build long-term food production, and could provide a model for other developing countries struggling to feed themselves.

“A combination of food aid, but also cheap imports have … resulted in a lack of investment in Haitian farming, and that has to be reversed,” U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes told The Associated Press. “That’s a global phenomenon, but Haiti’s a prime example. I think this is where we should start.”

Haiti’s government is asking for $722 million for agriculture, part of an overall request of $11.5 billion.

That includes money to fix the estimated $31 million of quake damage to agriculture, but much more for future projects restoring Haiti’s dangerous and damaged watersheds, improving irrigation and infrastructure, and training farmers and providing them with better support.

Haitian President Rene Preval, an agronomist from the rice-growing Artibonite Valley, is also calling for food aid to be stopped in favor of agricultural investment.

Today Haiti depends on the outside world for nearly all of its sustenance. The most current government needs assessment – based on numbers from 2005 – is that 51 percent of the food consumed in the country is imported, including 80 percent of all rice eaten.

The free-food distributions that filled the shattered capital’s plazas with swarming hungry survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake have ended, but the U.N. World Food Program is continuing targeted handouts expected to reach 2.5 million people this month. All that food has been imported – though the agency recently put out a tender to buy locally grown rice.

Street markets have reopened, filled with honking trucks, drink sellers clinking bottles and women vendors crouched behind rolled-down sacks of dry goods. People buy what’s cheapest, and that’s American-grown rice.

The best-seller comes from Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Arkansas, which sold six pounds for $3.80 last month, according to Haiti’s National Food Security Coordination Unit. The same amount of Haitian rice cost $5.12.

“National rice isn’t the same, it’s better quality. It tastes better. But it’s too expensive for people to buy,” said Leonne Fedelone, a 50-year-old vendor.

Riceland defends its market share in Haiti, now the fifth-biggest export market in the world for American rice.

But for Haitians, near-total dependence on imported food has been a disaster.

Cheap foreign products drove farmers off their land and into overcrowded cities. Rice, a grain with limited nutrition once reserved for special occasions in the Haitian diet, is now a staple.

Imports also put the country at the mercy of international prices: When they spiked in 2008, rioters unable to afford rice smashed and burned buildings. Parliament ousted the prime minister.

Now it could be happening again. Imported rice prices are up 25 percent since the quake – and would likely be even higher if it weren’t for the flood of food aid, said WFP market analyst Ceren Gurkan.

Three decades ago things were different. Haiti imported only 19 percent of its food and produced enough rice to export, thanks in part to protective tariffs of 50 percent set by the father-son dictators, Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

When their reign ended in 1986, free-market advocates in Washington and Europe pushed Haiti to tear those market barriers down. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, freshly reinstalled to power by Clinton in 1994, cut the rice tariff to 3 percent.

Impoverished farmers unable to compete with the billions of dollars in subsidies paid by the U.S. to its growers abandoned their farms. Others turned to more environmentally destructive crops, such as beans, that are harvested quickly but hasten soil erosion and deadly floods.

There have been some efforts to restore Haiti’s agriculture in recent years: The U.S. Agency for International Development has a five-year program to improve farms and restore watersheds in five Haitian regions. But the $25 million a year pales next to the $91.4 million in U.S.-grown food aid delivered just in the past 10 weeks.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization also distributed 28 tons of bean seeds in mountainous areas this month, with plans this week to distribute 49 tons of corn.

The G8 group of the world’s wealthiest nations pledged $20 billion for farmers in poor countries last year. The head of the FAO called this week for some to be given to Haiti.

President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to support agriculture in developing nations. U.S. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana has sponsored legislation to create a White House Global Food Security coordinator to improve long-term agriculture worldwide, with a budget of $8.5 billion through 2014.

Even Haiti’s most powerful food importers have joined the push for locally produced food.

“I would prefer to buy everything locally and have nothing to import,” said businessman Reginald Boulos, who is also president of Haiti’s chamber of commerce.

But one group staunchly opposes reducing food exports to Haiti: the exporters themselves.

“Haiti doesn’t have the land nor the climate … to produce enough rice,” said Bill Reed, Riceland’s vice president of communications. “The productivity of U.S. farmers helps feed countries which cannot feed themselves.”

Source

This has happened in many countries not just Haiti. Free Trade played a large part in that one. All countries should protect their farmers.

Has anybody pointed out the excellent survey of Haitian history in this month’s HARPERS? “Toward A Second Haitian Revolution,” by Steven Stoll, in the Notebook section, page 7, issue of Apr. 2010. A succinct but detailed overview of how Haitian agriculture was wiped out, and how it can be revived and used as a model worldwide. Find it at:
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/04/0082881
http://uspolitics.tribe.net/thread/f31a25de-ca8c-4562-a445-478f992f7103

Source

Related

This link has all the information about the Earthquake as well.

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Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm  Comments Off on Cheap Food Imports destroyed Haitian agriculture  
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Farm Groups Want Action On Monsanto

A coalition of family farmers, consumers and other critics of corporate agriculture are calling on the U.S. government to crack down on what they see as unfair consolidation of the nation’s food system into the hands of a few multinationals –particularly Monsanto.

From Reuters

Farm groups call on U.S. to “bust up big ag”

98 Organizations Oppose Obama’s Monsanto Man, Islam Siddiqui, for US Agricultural Trade Representative.

* By Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network, and Katherine Ozer, Executive Director, National Family Farm Coalition

February 22, 2010 Straight to the Source

A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association – has been fighting since the fall to block Obama’s nomination of CropLife/biotech industry rep and former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to the position of Chief Ag Negotiator at the US Office of the Trade Rep. The nomination was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, but is stalled in the Senate. It could go to a Senate floor vote any day now. The coalition sent the following letter to the Senate on February 22, 2010. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, please click here.

Dear Senator:

The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee’s favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.

Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.

The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.

The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.

We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.

Sincerely,

98 organizations who signed on to the letter to the Senate:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK)
AllergyKids (CO)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (WI)
Beyond Pesticides (DC)
Breast Cancer Action (CA)
California Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture (CA)
Californians for Pesticide Reform (CA)
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CA)
Center for Environmental Health (CA)
Center for Food Safety (DC)
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CA)
Central Florida Jobs with Justice Project (FL)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (NE)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (OR)
Cornucopia Institute (WI)
Earth Justice (CA)
Equal Exchange (MA)
Fair Trade Coalition (MN)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX)
Farm Worker Pesticide Project (WA)
Farmworker Association of Florida (FL)
Farmworker Justice (DC)
Farmworkers Self-Help (FL)
Food & Water Watch (DC)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (CA)
Food for Maine’s Future (ME)
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FL)
Food Democracy Now! (IA)
Food Systems Integrity (MA)
Florida Organic Growers (FL)
Fresno Metro Ministry (CA)
Friends of the Earth (DC, CA)
Greenpeace US (DC, CA)
Grassroots International (MA)
Growing Power Inc. (WI)
Indigenous Environmental Network (MN) Indiana Toxics Action (IN) Innovative Farmers of Ohio (OH) Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (MN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA)
Kids for Saving Earth (MN)
Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KY)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Lideres Campesinas (CA)
Maine Fair Trade Campaign (ME)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (ME)
Maryland Pesticide Network (MD)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MS)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO)
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (OK)
National Family Farm Coalition (DC)
National Farm Worker Ministry (MO)
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (DC)
New York Environmental Law & Justice (NY)
Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (CT)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (ME)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
Oakland Institute (CA)
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade (OH)
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project (OK)
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (OR)
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OR)
Organic Consumers Association (MN)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (WV)
Pesticide Action Network North America (CA)
Pesticide Free Zone (CA)
Pesticide Watch (CA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles (CA)
Public Citizen (DC)
Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NY)
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (NC)
Rural Coalition/ Coalición Rural
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (CA)
Science and Environmental Health Network (IA)
Sciencecorps (MA)
Search for the Cause (CA)
Sierra Club (CA, DC)
Small Holders Alliance of Massachusetts (MA)
Student Action with Farmworkers (NC)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (CO)
The Safe Lawns Foundation (ME)
The Second Chance Foundation Washington (WA)
Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WA)
Western Organization of Resource Councils (MT)
World Hunger Year (NY)

Siddiqui and CropLife: Statements and Positions

Islam Siddiqui was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is currently Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America. CropLife is an agricultural industry trade group that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other pesticide and agricultural biotech corporations.

Siddiqui’s statements and positions—both as a public official and as an industry executive— coupled with CropLife America’s consistent record on public policy issues demonstrate a narrow and short-sighted view of American agriculture and trade interests. This viewpoint consistently places the special interests of large agribusiness above the health and welfare interests the broader public, the international community and the environment.

WHAT DOES SIDDIQUI’S POSITION ENTAIL?

Enforcing Trade Agreements

According to the Progressive Government Institute, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator “conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements… This includes multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries and groups of countries. The ambassador also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies, and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic agricultural industry groups to assure their interest are represented in trade.” The industry groups’ interests will be more than adequately represented, as the WTO’s Doha Round will be a perfect opportunity for the agrochemical industry to push for trade agreements that maintain US subsidies, lower tariffs on chemicals, promote GM crops, and unfairly benefit the agrochemical companies that Siddiqui represents.

Source: http://www.progressivegovernment.org/appointee_data4.php?…

Legislative Influence and Defining ‘Sound Science’

Another part of the job description is that “He or she also coordinates closely with the US government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in international trade are based on sound science.” Siddiqui’s background has always favored “sound science” to mean high-cost, high-input (and high profit, for CropLife’s members) agricultural practices being imposed on developing countries, despite their preferences. Many countries have chosen to ban GMOs on the precautionary principle, including the EU, but Siddiqui will be able to use the trade talks as leverage so that CropLife’s member companies can force their way around those precautions. Siddiqui will also be able to influence the results of the Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act Bill (which mandates government funding for biotechnology research).

SIDDIQUI AN APOLOGIST FOR AGRICHEMICAL AND BIOTECH INDUSTRIES

Siddiqui Claimed EU Rejection of GMOs was “Denying Food to Starving People”

In 2003, Siddiqui applauded the Bush Administration’s decision to seek an end to the EU’s moratorium on approval of imports of genetically modified crops. Croplife America said the EU’s position had “no scientific foundation” and Siddiqui said, “EU’s illegal moratorium has had a negative ripple effect of creeping regulations and non-science-based decisions, which have resulted in denying food to starving people. The WTO requires that international trade rules be based on sound science, and today’s decision will send that strong message to the EU and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” [Delta Farm Press, 5/23/03]

Siddiqui Compared GMO Acceptance to Accepting “Microwave Ovens”

In 2002, Siddiqui claimed biotech foods have been proven to be as safe as traditionally grown foods. He cited a similar distrust of a new technology many people had when microwave ovens were first introduced; eventually, consumer acceptance of the technology became widespread. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Criticized EU for Insisting On “Precautionary Principle” On GMOs

In 2002, Siddiqui criticized the European Union’s precautionary principle rationale for rejecting the import of GMOs. Widely recognized in the international community, the precautionary principle allows societies to protect people and the planet when there are uncertainties or unknown risks associated with the introduction or use of a product. Siddiqui said the principle didn’t offer any more real protection to citizens than U.S.- “science-based” regulations and was being used by politicians as a non-tariff trade barrier. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Called for New Biotech Green Revolution

Statement by Siddiqui this year on new Green Revolution: “What we need now in the 21st century is another revolution, which some people are calling the second green revolution… You need to have use of 21st century technologies, including biotechnology, genetic technology, and all the other technologies, which are being (inaudible), in terms of achieving that.”

Source: “Green Innovation: Can Patents Help Make the World a Bett… April 22, 2009

Siddiqui Rejected Consumer Labeling of GMOs While Working at USDA

As a special assistant for trade at USDA, Siddiqui in 1999 warned Japan that if they implemented mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt trade. Siddiqui said, “We do not believe that obligatory GMO labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none.” He added, “Mandatory labeling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan requires mandatory labeling.” Siddiqui also said Japan, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is obligated to find the least trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a number of ways other than labeling, such as educational materials and public forums, to provide consumers with information on genetic engineering, he said. [Reuters, 7/27/1999]

Siddiqui is a Former Registered Lobbyist

From 2001- 2003, Islam Siddiqui was a registered lobbyist with CropLife America, which spent just over $2 million on lobbying the federal government in 2008, and just under $1.9 million in 2007 on issues like registering pesticides for use in schools, limiting the Endangered Species Act so that it doesn’t inhibit agricultural pesticide use, revision of EPA pesticide registration fees, and fighting the EPA on restrictions to the use of fumigants.

CROPLIFE AMERICA REGIONAL PARTNER TARGETED MICHELLE OBAMA ORGANIC GARDEN

CropLife America’s Regional Partner Targeted Michelle Obama Organic Garden

CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive defending chemical intensive agriculture and urging Michelle Obama to consider using pesticidies and herbicides. Mid America CropLife Association is listed as a regional partner on CropLife America’s website.

Letter: http://susty.com/michelle-obama-letter-mid-america-cropli…

SIDDIQUI OVERSAW FIASCO OVER USDA’s FIRST PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS

Siddiqui Instrumental in Drafting First Proposed Organic Standards that Would Have Allowed Toxic Sludge, GMOs and Irradiated Food to be Labeled “Organic”

As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and permitted the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. Only after 230,000 comments flooded into USDA were these standards strengthened. It remains one of the highest outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in U.S. history. [Mother Jones]

Siddiqui Admitted USDA Overruled Organics Board Recommendations

Siddiqui justified allowing for possible allowance of GMOs, irradiated foods and toxic sludge under the organics by saying, “we know that [the] Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There’s a considerable debate on these issues; it’s a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs. [Federal News Service, 12/15/07]

Siddiqui Admitted Allowing no GMOs in Organics Would Possibly be “Inconsistent” with Forcing GMOs on EU

Siddiqui explained one of the reasons GMOs were not banned under organic label was because ” … some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients.” [Food and Drink Weekly, 1/19/98]

CROPLIFE AMERICA SPENT HALF-MILLION TO DEFEAT COUNTY-LEVEL ANTI-GMO INITIATIVE

CropLife Spent $500,000 to Defeat County Ballot Banning GMOs

“In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a Mendocino County ballot initiative – known as Measure H – that would make the country the first to ban genetically engineered crops. In the lead up to the vote, CropLife contributed over $500,000 – more than seven times that of the initiative supporters – to defeat the proposal. [1] Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by a margin of 56% to 43%. [2]”

Siddiqui Said “Pleased” by Defeat of Ballot Measures

Siddiqui, on behalf of CropLife America, said he was pleased that voters in three California counties had rejected proposed bans on biotech crop cultivation. “I think you’ll see more counties in California try[proposing a ban]the next time they can get it on the ballot,” he said, adding that similar initiatives are unlikely in other states. [Food Chemical News, 1/3/05]

CROPLIFE AMERICA CONSISTENTLY FAVORS AGRIBUSINESS INTERESTS OVER PUBLIC INTEREST

CropLife Lobbied to Allow Children to be Used for Pesticide Experiments

In August 2005, CropLife America met with Bush Administration officials at the Office of Managment and Budget and EPA to allow for children to participate in pesticide experiments. CropLife America urged certain allowances to be made for chemical testing on children.  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the meeting for excluding the perspectives of ethicists, child advocates and scientists. EPA one month later adopted a human testing rule in line with CropLife America’s suggestions. Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to adequately protect women and children. [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruck commented on the backdoor meeting, “These meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry’s top objective is access to children for experiments. After reading these ghoulish notes one has the urge to take a shower. For an administration which trumpets its concern for the ‘value and dignity of life,’ it is disconcerting that no ethicists, children advocates or scientists were invited to this meeting to counterbalance the pesticide pushers.” [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

Supported Use of Human Test Subjects

In 2003, CropLife America expressed pleasure that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA’s “previous practice of considering third- party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation.” “We are pleased that the court recognized that EPA’s moratorium constituted a binding regulation issued without notice and the opportunity to comment,” said Jay J. Vroom, head of CropLife America. [U.S. Newswire, 6/3/03]

CropLife America Secured Continued Use Of Banned Ozone-Depleting Pesticide, Methyl Bromide

CropLife America supported the continued use of methyl bromide by farmers in the U.S. despite its supposed ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Bush administration secured an exemption of the highly controversial chemical in 2006. “By no means is there one product that will fit all the critical uses of methyl bromide today,” CropLife CEO Jay Vroom said. The continued exemptions are needed while research continues on the alternative pesticides, he said, adding, “We’re not there yet, and the American farmer needs to have these tools so we can continue to be have viable exports.” Source: Associated Press, Nov 4, 2006. For more information see the website for the UN Environmental Programme Ozone Secretariat. The PANNA website contains extensive resources and fact sheets on methyl bromide’s use for soil fumigation.

·       Methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleter used on strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and other crops. The EPA has classified methyl bromide as a Toxicity Category I compound, the most deadly category of substances due to causing neurological damage and reproductive harm. Farmworkers in particular have experienced death, birth defects, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness as a result of direct exposure to methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide has also been listed as a Class I Ozone Depleter under the Clean Air Act. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic pesticide.

·       From 1982 to 1990, at least 18 people in California died from exposure to methyl bromide. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation also reports at least 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries and 60 cases of skin damage from methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has also caused birth defects in studies required by U.S. EPA and submitted by the manufacturer.

·       Methyl bromide is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage lungs and kidneys and possibly cause cancer. Direct exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Many farmworkers and residents near fumigated fields have experienced these symptoms. [Pesticide Action Network]

Croplife America Resistant to International Regulations Over Toxic Chemicals

Croplife America has been a driving force to weaken the U.S. position on the Stockholm Convention, a critical effort to regulate the use of toxic “persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” These include the well known chemicals DDT, PCBs and dioxins that have been linked to a host of serious human health problems and environmental concerns. Even at very low levels of exposure, POPs can cause reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the immune and nervous systems, and a range of cancers. CropLife America has argued that “American sovereignty” concerns should override the treaty if the chemical regulations are stronger than U.S. law. CropLife America explicitly calls for the U.S. to “protect export markets for American produce and farm commodities,” even if they use chemicals that may be outlawed by the POP treaties. [CropLife America Website]

CropLife America Argues for Allowing Usage of Toxic Endosulfans

Croplife America and its international counterpart CropLife International, whom Siddiqui has represented in international negotiations, have continuously argued for a legitimate role for the dangerous POP endosulfan.  However in October 2009, scientists declared that: “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The finding sets the stage for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention. Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor, and low dose exposure while in the womb is linked to male reproductive harm, autism, and birth defects. High dose exposures are acutely toxic, resulting in headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death. [Manila Bulletin, 10/20/09]

CropLife America Withdrew from Landmark UN/World Bank Study on Ag Research (IAASTD) that Highlighted Agroecological Science as Promising Way to “Feed the World”

CropLife Upset Industry Viewpoint Not Allowed to Dictate Findings

CropLife International participated in the UN/World Bank-sponsored International Assessment for Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) for 4 years, before withdrawing in the final days of the process. The IAASTD reports—authored by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries, and subjected to two open public review processes—remains the most authoritative study to date on agriculture research and technology. CropLife objected to the measured but lukewarm findings of the IAASTD on “modern biotechnology” and genetic engineering. According to the spokesman for CropLife, their decision to withdraw in the final days was prompted by “the inability of its members to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports” —a complaint belied by the fact that IAASTD editors repeatedly offered CropLife a “blank page” to present the industry’s viewpoints. Ultimately, industry authors failed to submit text in time for publication.

The IAASTD concluded that an increase in investments in agroecological practices would be necessary to meet 21st century needs, noting that agroecological, organic, biodiverse and regenerative practices represented highly promising and scientifically robust approaches to feeding the world while also meeting social equity and sustainability goals, particularly under increasing stresses of climate change, water scarcity and fossil-fuel based energy limitations. In contrast, the IAASTD observed that chemical intensive and GMO-based practices were unlikely to meet these goals, had in many cases undermined public health and/or contaminated the environment, and posed severe social equity concerns due to industry concentration, IPR and patent rules. [Bioscience Resource, New Scientist, PANNA]

Prepared by Lindsey Schneider and Vera Glavova, PANNA, with contributions from National Family Farm Coalition. For further information on CropLife: http://www.panna.org/resources/popshttp://www.panna.org/resources/treaties

Pesticide Action Network has worked to replace pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five regional facilitating organizations serving a global network of more than 600 civil society groups in over 90 countries who share these goals. For more information, see http://www.panna.org.

Source

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign

Join OCA’s Campaign to Mobilize One Million Consumers to End Monsanto’s Global Corporate Terrorism

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

Monsanto sues and sues and sues and…

(Monday, July 14, 2003 — CropChoice guest commentary) — Monsanto and President George Bush have one thing in common. Both have a liking for the “walk softly and carry a big stick” form of public relations. Bush uses his big economic stick to gain the support of various nations in his quest to make the world safe for American corporations. Monsanto also uses a big economic stick – the big stick of the courtroom, to beat up those who fall afoul of its litigious nature. And, like George Bush, Monsanto has been pretty successful with these tactics. After all, the effect of a cluster bomb dropping on the home quarter would not be much more devastating than the effect of being sued by a huge corporation that is willing and able to spend millions to gain its ends.

Monsanto is very determined to defend its position that farmers must buy new seed of its patented genetically modified crops each year. Monsanto has built a whole department to enforce its seed patents and licensing agreements. It has 75 employees and an annual budget of $10 million.

An estimated 400 farmers have received threats of legal action from Monsanto over alleged patent infringement. While Canadian farmers will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of Percy Schmeiser, names like Homan McFarling and Nelson Farms should resonate with American producers. Few of these cases ever get to court because most farmers look at the odds of outlasting Monsanto and simply give in. A clause in Monsanto’s licensing agreement allows Monsanto to take such cases in the U.S. before courts in Missouri. This can add a huge amount to the legal bills of farmers who might be thousands of miles away.

Several of the cases that have gone to court are enough to scare farmers into meek submission to Monsanto’s demands. Homan McFarling was fined $780,000 for growing Roundup Ready soybeans without paying Monsanto’s licensing fee. Tennessee farmer Kem Ralph was fined $1.7 million and sentenced to eight months in jail for a variety of offenses that began with a Monsanto lawsuit.

Monsanto must be pleased with the results of its aggressive legal campaign. So pleased, in fact, it has decided to branch out. Monsanto’s latest foray into the courtroom has it suing a dairy in Maine, alleging that Oakhurst Dairy’s marketing campaign that touts its milk as being free of artificial growth hormones is misleading. Monsanto further claims Oakhurst’s ads and labels are deceptive and disparage Monsanto’s products by implying that milk from untreated cows is better than milk from hormone-treated cows.

Monsanto is the world’s only producer of artificial bovine growth hormone (BGH). This product is banned in Canada and elsewhere because of concerns about its impact on humans and the cows that are injected with it. In the U.S., where BGH is legal, some dairy farmers have captured a niche market by declaring that they do not use it on their cows. The Oakhurst Dairy label is simple enough: “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones.” Who would have thought that a simple statement of the truth could have such dire consequences?

Oddly enough, it would not be unexpected if Monsanto were to name the state of Maine as a co-defendant. Maine has a program, the Quality Trademark Seal, which can only be carried on dairy products that are guaranteed free of artificial growth hormones.

Monsanto’s latest legal moves have angered farmers and consumers alike. Oakhurst Dairy defends the right of consumers to know what is in the milk they drink. Farmers who currently produce this milk would lose the ability to differentiate their product if Monsanto’s suit is successful. Other dairies, which make similar claims, will be watching.

Monsanto treads on thin ice with its aggressive litigation. However, it need not fear the same consumer backlash that other companies might face. Monsanto does not sell directly to the average consumer. Rather, its customers are farmers who often have no other place to go if they want to grow certain products. Because of this dependency relationship, farmers cannot afford to stay angry at Monsanto forever. Monsanto, on the other hand, can enjoy the exercise of its brute power with little fear of repercussions. It is a situation that could easily get worse. Source

This type of thing is what destroys farmers and farms. This is not protecting Farming Communities.  Monsanto sues anyone they can.

They even sued a Dairy Monsanto didn’t like their label. Turns out however Hormones in milk does cause health problems.

Monsanto seed contaminated a Canadian farmers field and Monsanto sued him, like it was his fault the wind blew seed into his field. That is how low Monsanto will go.

This also happens in the US as well.

Farmers even have been sued after their fields were contaminated by pollen or seed from a previous year’s crop has sprouted, or “volunteered,” in fields planted with non-genetically engineered varieties the following year; and when they never signed Monsanto’s Technology Agreement but still planted the patented crop seed. In all of these cases, because of the way patent law has been applied, farmers are technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use was unwitting or if a contract was never signed. Source

Monsanto destroys Farmers. The GM foods may not be safe to consume either. Monsanto has a history of creating things that kill you.

Monsanto Roundup is it safe

Probably as safe as Agent Orange., Another Monsanto product.

Thee are tons of stories out there about Monsanto and it’s unethical practices.

Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Killing Wheat

Monsanto also produces the most commonly used broadleaf pesticide in the world, glyphosate–or Roundup. In addition to its inherent toxicity as a chemical pesticide, Roundup has now been found to aid the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat. This disease creates a toxin in the infected wheat, making the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Canada’s wheat industry is currently being ravaged by this disease. At the same time, the widespread use of Roundup has resulted in the formation of “super weeds” — unwanted plants that have developed an immunity to these pesticides. Read study linking Monsanto’s Roundup to Cancer.

Monsanto’s Lobbying in 2009

Conflict of Interest: Ex Monsanto Lawyer Clarence Thomas to Hear Major Monsanto Case  March 9 2010

Related

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

They have Lied about the Safety of our Food And Still Do

Come the iron wall-Gaza Tunnels only used for Necessities

Saleh Al-Naami finds that everyday commodities are what form the contraband passing through secret tunnels between Egypt and Gaza

Cairo AL-AHRAM News

Maged Ibrahim hurried to his sister’s house metres away from his own to fetch empty plastic containers. This university professor was out of time. As soon as his nephew, Adham, gave him three containers, Ibrahim sped away in his car to the nearest fuelling station to fill up on gasoline, in order to ensure a minimal supply for his car in case of emergencies. He also uses gasoline for the electricity generator at his home when there are power outages, which can sometimes last up to five hours, since Israel refuses to allow the regular refuelling of the sole power station in the area.

Ibrahim, like many others in Gaza, is desperate to stock up on food and fuel supplies that are smuggled through tunnels after hearing rumours that Egypt intends to build an iron wall on top of these tunnels to collapse them. The tunnels have become a vital source of livelihood and provisions for the people here. The university professor was lucky and filled up on fuel, but the majority return empty handed as gasoline stations run dry.

Salem Al-Othman, a resident of Al-Nosayrat Refugee Camp in the centre of Gaza, owns a grocery shop and is preoccupied with stockpiling merchandise in anticipation of an end to smuggling. Al-Othman went to one of the wholesale merchants in neighbouring Deir Al-Balah to reserve his goods but was surprised that the wholesaler claimed to be out of stock on everything Al-Othman wanted.

At the same time, and unlike most Thursdays, the traditional markets in Gaza, Rafah and other large Palestinian cities that trade in Egyptian goods were very active. Shoppers bought everything in sight, and the uncertainty of what will happen next caused prices to skyrocket, despite warnings against overpricing by Ismail Haniyeh’s government. Meanwhile, Egypt’s iron wall was the talk of the town.

Aisha Maghli, 81, who lives in Al-Satr Al-Sharqi district in Khan Younis, south of Gaza, has been in low spirits of late. Maghli is an asthmatic that in recent years has had fewer episodes because of medication that is smuggled from Egypt through the tunnels. “Shutting down the tunnels and the siege spell doom for my grandmother,” her grandson Hassan told Al-Ahram Weekly. “None of us care about the tunnels, except that they allow us to breathe under siege.” He despondently pleaded, “Please don’t let my grandmother die just because there is no medicine.”

The rumoured wall has been a topic of much debate among young Palestinians also. At many of their gatherings in Gaza, they deliberate on how to render the wall ineffective. News of the wall comes at a time when Palestinians realise the importance of the tunnels in freeing them from the debilitating effects of Israeli-led siege. For example, the tunnels are a major factor in controlling prices since the siege began, and are a source of employment for thousands of people in what is known as the tunnel trade business.

For Salman, 38, tunnel smuggling was a turning point in his life. He began as the owner of a small electrical goods shop and has evolved into a trader of many commodities. Today, he deals in electrical equipment, construction material, livestock, and other goods that are in short supply under siege. Near his house in central Gaza, Salman erected a large paddock for hundreds of cattle that are smuggled through the tunnels. He sells them to smaller merchants and employs between 10 and 20 men to tend to them. “Sometimes the staff work around the clock to meet the demands of the customers,” Salman told the Weekly.

Salman partners with Egyptian merchants who bring goods to the Egyptian side of the tunnels. From there, Salman and his men bring the merchandise through the tunnels after paying a fee to the owners of the tunnel. Tunnel traders prefer not to disclose the value or volume of goods that they bring in from Egypt in order for them to make a reasonable profit.

Although the majority believe these traders make a steep profit, in reality this is not true. Tunnel traders pay their Egyptian counterparts for the goods and then the tunnel owners, as well as the wages of a large number of workers, which necessitates that they considerably raise the price of commodities in order to make a profit. Like other merchants, Salman hopes the siege will end and the tunnels shut down because his is a risky business.

Khamis Al-Daqqa, who sells vegetables, explained how the tunnels have helped keep prices low. Al-Daqqa cited that if large amounts of onions were not pouring through the tunnels, the price of one kilogramme would be around five shekels, or LE6, instead of the current price of two shekels. “The large volume of fruit and vegetables has revived trade and improved the public’s purchasing power,” he told the Weekly.

Before rumours about the iron wall began to circulate, merchants had begun a new practice to drive prices even lower: digging their own tunnels to cut the fee they pay to tunnel owners. One such trader, who previously paid 40 per cent of the value cost to tunnel owners, dug his own tunnel that specialises in the passage of electrical goods and garments. Israel is propagating an untrue and deceitful notion that these tunnels are being used to smuggle weapons and combat supplies. In reality, the tunnels that Israel and its allies are so concerned about are being used to meet everyday basic needs.

One tunnel owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Weekly that all the tunnels he is familiar with are used to smuggle basic civilian goods and merchandise. His tunnel is dedicated to medication and some foodstuffs that are secured by his partners on the other side of the border. He receives the goods at his end of the tunnel and distributes them based on orders placed by medicine dispensaries. He and his partners receive a set fee from the dispensaries for each delivery.

Deputy parliament speaker Ahmed Bahr is certain that the Egyptian leadership will not allow the people of Gaza to starve. “President [Hosni] Mubarak promised not to allow Palestinians to go hungry,” Bahr told the Weekly. “I am positive he will keep his word and will stand by our people.” He added that Egypt’s national security is “just as important to us as Palestinian national security. Hence, Gaza has not been — and will never be — a source of threat to Egypt’s security.”

Bahr concluded: “The threat comes from Israel.”

Source

What
Israel has been saying is that Egyptians are sending weapons into Gaza which is not true. We all knew that of course.

It is Egyptians who bring the supplies to the tunnels to send into Gaza.

The so called Iron wall is as  illegal as is the wall  that Israel has built. The International Court has already ruled it illegal.

The US is helping to build this new iron wall.

Egypt gets about 2 billion for weapons so I am guessing there is a connection between the aid for weapons Israels whining and the US.

The International community must get the seige lifted on Gaza.

If Israel refuses they should be sanctioned the same as any other state that does this type of horror to people.

Gaza Fishermen Under Fire Reports 2009

The battle for Gaza From Cairo news

Gaza sees more newborns of malformation

Recent

Cancer and Deformities – The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq

Viva Palestina Update George Galloway and Ron McKay Deported from Cairo

Breaking News: 4 killed in Gaza as Israel strikes food-tunnels

Israeli Occupation Authorities Deny Gaza Christians Permission to Travel to Bethlehem at Christmas

The Next False Flag: An Attack On the U.S. Embassy in Yemen

Evidence Clearly Indicates Staged Attack on Detroit Flight

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 5:55 am  Comments Off on Come the iron wall-Gaza Tunnels only used for Necessities  
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Food Fraud-Yummy! Ammonia-Treated Pink Slime Now in Most U.S. Ground Beef

Also a story on food fraud in US

Update added March 18 2012 At bottom of page.

By Jennifer Poole,
January 1, 2009

You’re not going to believe what millions of Americans have been eating the last few years (Thanks, Bush! Thanks meat industry lobbyists!).

You’re not going to believe what you’ve been eating the last few years (thanks, Bush! thanks meat industry lobbyists!) when you eat a McDonald’s burger (or the hamburger patties in kids’ school lunches) or buy conventional ground meat at your supermarket:

According to today’s New York Times, The “majority of hamburger” now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings “the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil,” “typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass” that contains “larger microbiological populations.”

This “nasty pink slime,” as one FDA microbiologist called it, is now wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat, and then treated with AMMONIA to “retard spoilage,” and turned into “a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips”.

Thus saving THREE CENTS a pound off production costs. And making the company, Beef Products Inc., a fortune. $440 million/year in revenue. Ain’t that something?

And to emphasize: this pink slime isn’t just in fast food burgers or free lunches for poor kids:

With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

Bush’s U.S.D.A. also allowed these “innovators” to get away with listing the ammonia as “a processing agent” instead of by name. And they also approved the processing method — and later exempted the hamburger from routine testing of meat sold to the general public — strictly based on the company’s claims of safety, which were not backed by any independent testing.

Because the ammonia taste was so bad (“It was frozen, but you could still smell ammonia,” said Dr. Charles Tant, a Georgia agriculture department official. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”) the company started using a less alkaline ammonia treatment, and now we know — thanks to testing done for the school lunch program — that the nasty stuff isn’t even reliably killing the pathogens.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show. Yet the facility remained approved by the U.S.D.A. for other customers.

Presented by The Times with the school lunch test results, top [U.S.D.A.] department officials said they were not aware of what their colleagues in the lunch program had been finding for years.

The New York Times article today has a rather innocuous headline, “Safety of beef processing method is questioned.”

I’d say this quote from the U.S.D.A. department microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, who called the processed beef “pink slime” in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues, represents the situation better: “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”

I’ve been thinking about an action item on this issue, and I’ve got three ideas: a. write Michelle Obama through this web form: http://www.whitehouse.gov/… or snail mail: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500; 2. print out the NY Times article and give it to the manager of your local supermarket, and ask them if they sell any kind of ground beef that doesn’t contain this “pink slime” or if their butchers will grind meat fresh for you; 3. just stop buying the damned stuff altogether.

Source

This rates right up there with feeding dead animals to cattle, pigs or any other animal.  The Mad Cow problem a while back.  Animals that are vegetarians, not meat eaters and at the time it was a ridiculous thing to do.  Gee I wonder do they still do that?

Then there are all the antibiotics and hormones  given to animals, most of which are not necessary.  Now they put Ammonia in the meat. To gross.

That made money as well at the expense of the animals and consumers.

Ammonia is what was and probably used in wax stripping products  for tile floors. I certainly would never eat the stuff. Very corrosive.

Information on Health Effects of Ammonia here

Maybe student all over the US should do like these two high school students did. Test for stuff in the food they eat.  Seems the Government isn’t doing the job. What a fabulous learning experience for kids to boot.

So how many student’s are there in the US who could start testing on food for all sorts of things. Chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides or  toxic stuff,  like Ammonia?

Students use Guelph DNA tech to uncover food fraud

December 28, 2009

Two American high school students have used unique Canadian DNA technology to identify numerous mislabeled food products in New York City markets, deepening concerns over the widespread problem of fraudulence in the marketplace.

From mislabelled fish to cow’s milk being passed off as pricey sheep’s milk, the Grade 12 students said a high percentage of the foods they collected as samples were not what they were said to be.

Brenda Tan and Matt Cost of Trinity School in Manhattan gathered about 150 DNA samples from foods and objects in their homes and neighbourhood as part of a science project with Rockefeller University and the American Museum of Natural History.

Tan said they found that 11 of the 66 fish, prepackaged and other food products bought largely at neighbourhood markets were mislabelled.

That included a specialty sheep’s milk cheese that was actually made from cow’s milk, venison dog treats made of beef, and sturgeon caviar that was really Mississippi paddlefish.

“You should get what you pay for,” Cost said from New York before their findings are published in January’s edition of BioScience magazine.

“We don’t know where it occurs, but most of the mislabelling involves substitution of something less expensive or desirable, which suggests it’s done for profit.”

The students gathered the DNA samples in their apartments, supermarkets, their school and at fresh markets, finding that most of the hundreds of samples had detectable DNA even after being frozen, dry-cleaned or shipped thousands of kilometres.

They sent the samples to the natural history museum, which tapped into a databank of DNA bar codes that was pioneered by Canadian scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

The Consortium for the Bar Code of Life project involves identifying a particular DNA sequence in marine and animal life that is unique to the species. That allows scientists to accurately identify the species and create a so-called bar code of its DNA similar to the black and white stripes on store goods.

The students submitted usable DNA from 151 of 217 items, including dried soup mix, dog biscuits, beef jerky, horse manure from Central Park and a feather duster.

“I didn’t expect to find very much recognizable DNA, but it was astounding at the end of the project how much there is just lying around us,” said Cost, 18.

The teens say they have discovered a possible new species of cockroach, a long-legged centipede that originated in Europe and an oriental latrine fly considered an invasive species in the southern U.S.

“DNA is resilient and it’s everywhere and a great way to identify things in the 21st century,” said Tan. “I mean, 10 years ago I don’t think this would have been possible.”

Student project has wider applications

Bob Hanner, a biologist at Guelph who led the work on bar coding, praised the student project and said it shows the value of a technology that can be used to identify illicit goods at borders and track the spread of disease.

“It’s another good example of how DNA bar coding can be used to engage students in real science questions, particularly like the market substitution problem,” said Hanner, associate director of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network.

“It’s continuing evidence along the lines of some of our earlier work showing what a powerful tool bar coding is.”

The work follows up on the findings of two other Trinity School students in 2008, who found one-quarter of fish they bought at markets and restaurants in Manhattan was mislabelled.

Hanner said he’s working closely with the Food and Drug Administration in the States to develop bar coding into an acceptable regulatory tool.

But he says Canada has been slow to embrace the technology as a way to discover contraband, mislabelled goods and possibly poisonous products.

He said the FDA and other agencies are sending their research scientists to Guelph for training in using the technology, but that “so far we haven’t seen that kind of proactive development in Canada.”

The FDA has adopted it for fish identification and also used DNA bar coding to distinguish the seed pods of star anise from another identical herb that contains neurotoxins.

The U.S. Agriculture Department is also working on a global database of DNA bar codes for fruit flies to deal with horticultural pests, and lumber products to identify endangered timber products.

Hanner is hoping as the technology gains ground, research continues into its use and the databank of species grows, it could soon be used to check goods at ports of entry.

He said he can soon see a time when people will be able to use tabletop devices at border crossings, schools and government departments to quickly identify a plant or animal.

“What would be the Holy Grail for a number of these agencies is to be able to do onsite bar coding,” he said. “The technology exists. It just needs to be miniaturized.”

Source

Mislabeling food is a crime.  Fraud to say the least, but it also endangers the public at large. If you have an allergy to certain foods, this type of practice could kill you.  That would be murder. It could cause major health problems even if you didn’t die. With Health Care being what it is in the US this should be a concern to all people.

Eating a product that has be mislabeled causing you to become ill and what if you are one of the 45 million who do not have Health Insurance.

Food safety in the US is a joke.  So I do believe it is time for the kids to get together with their teachers and do testing as the Government really does little to protect them. The lives they save may be their own.

Critics of ‘pink slime’ meat gaining ground

March 15, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. — “Pink slime” just went from a simmer to a boil. In less than a week earlier this month, the stomach-turning epithet for ammonia-treated ground beef filler suddenly became a potent rallying cry by activists fighting to ban the product from supermarket shelves and school lunch trays.

Though the term has been used pejoratively for at least several years, it wasn’t until last week that social media suddenly exploded with worry and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools lit up, quickly garnering hundreds of thousands of supporters.

“It sounds disgusting,” said food policy expert Marion Nestle, who notes that the unappetizing nickname made it easier for the food movement to flex its muscles over this cause.

“A lot of people have been writing about it. Therefore, more people know about it, therefore more people are queasy about it, particularly when you start thinking about how this stuff turns up in school lunches,” said Nestle, a professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.

The controversy centres on “lean finely textured beef,” a low-cost ingredient in ground beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 37 C (100 F) and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product, made by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc., also is exposed to “a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas” to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.

There are no precise numbers on how prevalent the product is and it does not have to be labelled as an ingredient. Past estimates have ranged as high as 70 per cent; one industry officials estimates it is in at least half of the ground meat and burgers in the United States.

It has been on the market for years and federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. But advocates for wholesome food have denounced the process as a potentially unsafe and unappetizing example of industrialized food production.

The epithet “pink slime,” coined by a federal microbiologist, has appeared in the media at least since a critical 2009 New York Times report. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has railed against it and it made headlines after McDonald’s and other major chains last year discontinued their use of ammonia-treated beef.

But “pink slime” outrage seemed to reach new heights last week amid reports by The Daily and ABC News. The Daily piece dealt with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s purchase of meat that included “pink slime” for school lunches.

The story touched a nerve with Houston resident Bettina Siegel, whose blog “The Lunch Tray” focuses on kids’ food. On March 6, she started an online petition on Change.org asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “put an immediate end to the use of ‘pink slime’ in our children’s school food.”

“When I put it up, I had this moment of embarrassment,” she said, “What if only 10 people sign this?”

No problem there. Supporters signed on fast. By Wednesday afternoon, the electronic petition had more than 220,000 signatures. Organizers of Change.org said the explosive growth is rare among the roughly 10,000 petitions started there every month.

Meanwhile, Google searches for “pink slime” spiked dramatically. It has become the food version of Joseph Kony, the rogue African warlord virtually unknown in the United States until this month, when an online video campaign against him caught fire. (A bogus Campaign)

But why is “pink slime” striking a nerve now?

Issues can to go from a simmer to an explosion when content with broad interest — such as like food safety — is picked up and disseminated by widely connected people, said Marc A. Smith, director of the Social Media Research Foundation. These people act like “broadcast hubs,” dispersing the information to different communities.

“What’s happening is that the channels whereby this flood can go down this hill have expanded,” Smith said. “The more there are things like Twitter, the easier it is for these powder kegs to explode.”

In this case, Siegel thinks the added element of children’s school lunches could have set off this round.

“That’s what upset me. This idea that children are passively sitting in a lunch room eating what the government sees fit to feed them and McDonald’s has chosen not to use it, but the government is still feeding it to them,” she said. “That really got my ire.”

The USDA — which did not directly address Siegel’s petition — buys about a fifth of the food served in schools across the U.S. The agency this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. About seven million pounds of that is from Beef Products Inc., though the pink product in question never accounts for more than 15 per cent of a single serving of ground beef.

“All USDA ground beef purchases must meet the highest standards for food safety. USDA has strengthened ground beef food safety standards in recent years and only allows products into commerce that we have confidence are safe,” agency spokesman Aaron Lavallee said in an email.

Beef Product Inc. stresses that its product is 100 per cent lean beef and is approved by a series of industry experts. The company’s new website, pinkslimeisamyth.com, refutes some common criticisms of the product (“Myth 4: Boneless lean beef trimmings are produced from inedible meat”).

The National Meat Association also has joined the fight, refuting that the product is made from “scraps destined for pet food” and other claims. The industry group also said that ammonium hydroxide is used in baked goods, puddings and other processed foods.

Association CEO Barry Carpenter, who has visited BPI plants and watched the process, said critics don’t seem to have the facts.

“It’s one of those things. It’s the esthetics of it that just gets people’s attention,” Carpenter said. “And in this case, it’s not even legitimate esthetics of it. It’s a perception of what it is.”

Proponents of the process stress that it is both federally regulated and safe. Though Nestle said the focus on safety misses the larger point.

“I’m not arguing that that stuff is unsafe,” she said, “I’m arguing that it’s the lowest common denominator.” Source

Here is another site with a lot of information on this topic.
Video of plant whee and how, the pink slime is made as well.

The link below also contains videos on Factory Farming, not only on the Egg producers a, but other Factory Farms as well. Such as Pork, Veil etc.

 McDonald’s drops U.S. egg supplier over ‘disturbing’ animal-cruelty video

Added September 20 2012

“Pink Slime”: Back, With a $1.2 Billion Lawsuit

Recent

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Petition stop GM Rice from Bayer

(more…)

Published in: on May 31, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Comments Off on Petition stop GM Rice from Bayer  
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Act of Piracy, Kidnapping, Illegal Confinement, Theft, Assault and Battery, committed by Israel

Israel expels Gaza aid ship crew

February 6 2009

Al-Ikhwa was seized by the Israeli navy and taken to the city of Ashdod [AFP]

Israel has expelled 10 activists and journalists after detaining them for hours and seizing their cargo ship that was trying to deliver aid to Gaza.

Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder, who was among the group, said she and some of the others on board were beaten by Israeli forces before being taken to a police station in Ashdod and interrogated.

Minutes after being escorted across the Israeli border to southern Lebanon on Friday, Khoder reported on her capture.

“At about 11pm last night… the Israeli ship intercepted the ship, fired at the ship and more than 30 soldiers came on to the boat and started beating the passengers,” she said.

“They blinded our eyes, bounded our hands, kept us in uncomfortable conditions for one hour … they also told us not to communicate with each other in Arabic.”

She said that the whereabouts of some of the 18 people who were on board the ship was unknown.

The Al-Ikhwa was carrying 60 tonnes of medical supplies, food, books and toys to Gaza, where a more than year-long Israeli blockade along with its devastating offensive last month have left residents struggling to get basic necessities.

Israeli denial

Israel denied using violence in the operation and said it had warned the ship on Wednesday night against entering Gaza’s coastal waters.

The ship was carrying 60 tonnes of relief supplies bound for blockaded Gaza [AFP]

“During today’s [Thursday] morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, and began heading towards the Gaza Strip … disregarding all warnings made,” the Israeli military said.The Al-Ikhwa, which originally set sail from Cyprus, left the Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Tuesday.

Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of Gaza, told Al Jazeera that the ship “was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon”.

“And we were very eager to let it be searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza.”

Israel increased naval patrols off the coast of the Gaza Strip in December when it launched a 22-day air, naval and ground assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

Foud Siniora, Lebanon’s prime minister, condemned the attack on Al-Ikhwa, emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

“It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and values,” he said in Beirut.

Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League’s envoy to the United Nations, said he had asked the staff of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to intervene in the matter.

“I demanded that the ship be released immediately,” Mahmassani said. “The world community should condemn this act of piracy. We consider this an act of piracy committed by Israel.”

Source

This is the Third time  Israel has interfered with ships in International waters. They also interfered with the “Dignity” and the “The Spirit of Humanity” as well. The Dignity was rammed by an Israeli ship and The Spirit of Humanity passengers were threatened they would be fired upon.

This one is definitely and act of “Piracy”. They also had no right to detain those on ship either. That would constitute nothing less then kidnapping. Beating the passengers on the ship is totally unacceptable.  Assault and Battery.  Illegal Confinement. They have no right to seize the ship,  it’s cargo or the people on board.  Seems they are  stealing the Aid for Gaza.

UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA

As far as Israels denial they like they would tell the truth. Criminals lie you know. Israel has already lied one to many times for me to ever believe them. Like they didn’t use White Phosphorous for example.  That is a massive lie. Or being so sorry they hit hospitals and UN buildings they lie in those cases as well. The still torture people as well if they say other wise that to is a lie.  Their words mean nothing.

Those were out and out blatant lies. The worst lie is they didn’t target Civilians. What BS. Do we all have complete idiot written across our foreheads.  Seems to me nothing they say can be believed. They never keep their word either. They cannot be trusted. The US must stop giving them Aid. The use it only to harm others. They don’t need it. That money could be better spend on other things such as the homeless Veterans in the US.  The US Veterans deserve to be helped,  Israel doesn’t they just kill, starve and bully others.

Like the Holocaust Victims the people of Gaza and the West Banks should be compensated, for the years of torment inflicted by the Zionist movement of Israel. 60 years is long enough. Israel has proved beyond a doubt they do not want peace and they will not stop until all Palestinians are run off their land.

ISRAEL/ OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Right to family life denied
Foreign spouses of Palestinians barred

March 21, 2007
By Amnesty International

Enaya Samara is a 56-year-old US national of Palestinian origin. For 31 years she lived in Ramallah with her husband, Adel Samara, who is a resident of the OPT, and their two children. For three decades she had to travel abroad every three months to renew her tourist visa. The family’s repeated attempts to obtain family unification and establish Enaya Samara’s right to reside in the OPT were unsuccessful. On 26 May 2006, after more than 120 trips, she was denied entry when she tried to return home to the OPT. She did not see her family until 23 February 2007 when the Israeli Interior Ministry allowed her a three-month visa. She does not know if it will be renewed.

Tens of thousands of foreign nationals who are married to residents of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 are not allowed to live with their husband or wife by the Israeli authorities. In virtually every other country in the world, there are procedures to allow such couples — where one spouse is a foreign national — to live together.

Israel controls the borders of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and forbids foreign spouses from entering. The husbands and wives who are denied entry are not seeking admittance to Israel. They simply want to enter the OPT to live with their spouse in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

As an occupying power, Israel is obliged to respect the family rights of Palestinians (1). Yet violations by Israel of the right to family life have persisted for decades and have worsened over the past six years. By 2006 at least 120,000 families were affected. Moreover, since 2006 the restrictions on family life, and the number of families affected by such restrictions, have increased — the right to enter the OPT is now also denied to spouses from countries for whom advance visas are not required to enter Israel.

Israeli restrictions on foreign spouses are profoundly discriminatory. Jewish settlers in the OPT (whose presence there, unlike that of the Palestinian inhabitants, is actually illegal under international law) face no restrictions in obtaining authorization from the Israeli authorities for their spouses to enter the OPT and reside with them there.

Restrictions on foreign spouses

The restrictions on what is called “family unification” in the OPT are not based on any law. Formerly, spouses from outside the OPT seeking family unification applied to the Israeli authorities for a residence permit under which they would be allowed to reside in the OPT. It would often take many years for the Israeli authorities to issue such a permit. In the meantime, however, foreign spouses were able to enter and reside in the OPT by obtaining a temporary visitor’s visa and regularly renewing; this was done mostly by travelling to Jordan or another foreign country every three months and obtaining a new visitor’s visa on re-entering Israel. It caused inconvenience but at least foreign spouses were able to remain with their families in the OPT.

This process was ended after the second intifada began in September 2000. The Israeli authorities suspended all family unification procedures for OPT residents who had married spouses from other countries, and no residence permits were given to spouses. At the same time, visitors’ visas were not renewed.

As a result, foreign nationals who did not want to be separated from their Palestinian spouses and children, but who had not yet been granted family unification, were left with two options: remain in the OPT illegally after the expiry of their visitor’s visa, or leave and be separated from their husband or wife and, possibly, their children.

Those who remain illegally are cut off from any family, friends and business they may have outside the country.

They live in constant fear of being apprehended and deported, and cannot move freely within the OPT because of the many Israeli army checkpoints between towns and villages. They are essentially confined by their uncertain status to their homes and immediate surroundings.

Those who have left the OPT — for instance, to see a sick parent — have not been allowed back, and remain separated from their spouse and sometimes their children. The Israeli authorities sometimes allow a Palestinian spouse to leave the OPT, but may take away his or her right to reside in the OPT if they stay away too long.

The restrictions have had a devastating impact as they have made it impossible for many of those affected to enjoy a normal family life. Families are forcibly broken up. Children are separated for long periods from one parent and often from their wider family of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

The great majority of those barred from entry to the OPT are Jordanian women of Palestinian origin who are married to Palestinian men. Although the Israeli authorities tend to justify such restrictions on security grounds, Amnesty International knows of no case in which a woman within this category has been responsible for or involved in any important security incident.
Yahya Bassa, a 40-year-old date merchant and OPT resident, has been married to Nibin, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, for six years. They have two daughters, four-year-old Nur and 18-month-old Talin, who live with their mother in Jordan.

Yahya Bassa used to travel between Aizariyah near Jerusalem, where his business is, and the Jordanian capital, Amman, to see his wife and family and to conduct business. His troubles began, he says, four years ago when he refused a request by Shin Bet, the Israel Security Service, to become an informer. For the next two years he was not allowed to leave the OPT to visit Jordan. He appealed to the Israeli High Court and was then allowed two visits. Then Israeli security personnel offered to allow him to leave the OPT if he would stay away for four years. He refused.

Yahya Bassa was then harassed by Israeli security officials. In 2005 he was accused of murdering a “collaborator” — the file against him has since been erased. In 2006 he was arrested and placed in administrative detention without charge or trial for six months. When he was released, he sought to visit his wife in Jordan but the Israeli authorities again refused him permission to leave and return unless he stayed away for four years. Meanwhile, his wife is not permitted by the Israeli authorities to enter the OPT, and they have been denied the opportunity to enjoy a normal family life.

Yahya Bassa brought an action before the Israeli High Court of Justice seeking to obtain authorization for his wife to enter the OPT or for him to visit her in Jordan. This has not yet been heard. However, in response to the action, Israel’s State Prosecutor allowed him to meet his wife and daughters on the Allenby Bridge that spans the Jordan river which forms the border between Israel and Jordan, but for just three hours. His elder daughter, Nur, who is a Palestinian ID-holder, was later allowed to join him temporarily inside the
West Bank, but his younger daughter, Talin, who has no ID, and her mother are still refused entry to the OPT.

Many others who have been barred from living in the OPT are spouses from regions such as eastern Europe, from where advance visas are required by the Israeli authorities to enter the OPT.

S, a Palestinian from Ramallah in the West Bank, met his Bulgarian wife M when he was a university student in Bulgaria. The couple were married in Bulgaria in 1992 and their first child was born there. In 1998 they moved to Ramallah, where their second child was born.

M entered Israel and the OPT on a visitor’s visa and the family immediately applied for family unification. M’s visa expired after six months and the couple waited for the result of their family unification application. In September 2000, they were informed that the application had been approved in principle and that M would receive her papers by the end of the year.

Later that month the intifada broke out and application procedures for family unification were suspended. M told Amnesty International:

“I am constantly afraid of being arrested and deported and separated from my husband and children and so I am totally unable to move. In 2002, in one of the incursions by the Israeli army, the soldiers came into our home and when they saw that I have no valid permit they took me outside and told me that I would be deported; they kept me outside for two hours; it was the worst experience of my life; the idea that I would be separated from my husband and children and not be allowed to return to live with them terrified me.

“Every year my husband takes our children to visit my mother and my family in Bulgaria but I cannot go because I would not be allowed back to Ramallah. I have not seen my mother since I left Bulgaria…What can we do? The only option would be for me, my husband and the children to leave and go to Bulgaria. But we have worked hard here to make our life, my husband is working and we want to live here. We should not be forced to leave and for my husband and our children to lose the right of coming back to live in their home country.”

Additional restrictions

Until 2006, foreign spouses from countries such as the USA and most European states were usually able to be with their spouses in the OPT by leaving and re-entering the country on a visitor’s visa. People from these countries, unlike those from eastern Europe, did not require advance visas to enter Israel and the OPT.

However, after Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian elections in 2006, the Israeli authorities extended the restrictions on entry to the OPT to these foreign spouses. Relatives of OPT residents were also denied entry.

It is not only families who are affected by this policy. The extended restrictions often prevent re-entry of foreign nationals who are working in education or economic development. Such people are helping to improve conditions in the OPT, where poverty is widespread and the Palestinian inhabitants have been exposed to a growing humanitarian crisis.

Since January 2007, as a result of protests against the policy, the Israeli Civil Administration has allowed around 200 short extensions of visas to those who were previously refused. However, most of those who have been denied entry continue to be denied entry.
Riad Sharma, a 50-year-old US national married to a Palestinian ID-holder living in Ramallah, has already suffered the pain of a long forced separation from his family and faces future separation. He has acute diabetes and needs regular medical attention in the USA. He also manages a business there. Over the past year, he has twice been stopped on arrival at Ben Gurion airport in Israel and required to return to the USA.
The first time, on 6 January 2006, he was told not to attempt to re-enter Israel and the OPT for at least a year. On 20 December 2006, after being separated from his wife and two daughters, also
Palestinian ID-holders, for almost a year, he was again denied entry. On 3 January 2007, he tried to enter the OPT via Jordan across the Allenby Bridge and was told again that he would not be permitted to enter. However, on this occasion he engaged a lawyer (at a cost of some US$9,400, including the lawyer’s fee, court fees and a deposit) and was then able to secure an entry visa for two weeks. Just before this expired, he obtained a 10-week extension through another lawyer, which is due to expire on 4 April. The legal fees in this new case amounted to US$6,000. Riad Sharma’s ability to be reunited with his family came at a high financial cost, a cost beyond the reach of most of those who also aspire to live together with their spouses and other family members in the OPT.

CONCLUSION

The policy of not allowing family unification for foreign spouses has no discernible link to security. The Israeli authorities have not claimed that foreign spouses who are now prevented from returning to the OPT are a security risk to Israelis. The restrictions do not target individuals but apply to spouses of Palestinians in general and, therefore, are wholly discriminatory. As such, they may constitute a form of collective punishment against Palestinians in the OPT; the imposition of collective punishment is a violation of international humanitarian law.

There has been a long-standing Israeli demographic policy to refuse or limit residency rights for Palestinians, whether in Israel, in occupied East Jerusalem, or in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law bars Palestinians from the OPT from living with Israeli spouses in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. In the OPT, the policy is implemented without reference to any law. This has caused some Palestinians with foreign spouses to decide to leave the OPT in order to enjoy their right to a normal family life. Such people are then considered non-residents by the Israeli authorities and denied the right to re-enter the OPT

Letting AP in on the Secret: Israeli Strip Searches are Torture

ICC starts analysis of Gaza war crimes allegations

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

More Pictures from Another site.

Israel abducted over 5,000 people and put them in prison

Reading this might give you an idea of how far Zionist will go. The Holocaust Victims Accuse

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on February 6, 2009 at 7:06 am  Comments Off on Act of Piracy, Kidnapping, Illegal Confinement, Theft, Assault and Battery, committed by Israel  
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Jan 7 : India- Protest in New Delhi over Israel raids

January 7  2009

NEW DELHI

The echoes of bombings on Gaza Strip were heard in the Capital on Tuesday. The coordination committee for Indian Muslims (CCIM) a group of five Muslim organisations came together with students of Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Jamia Millia Islamia at Jantar Mantar to protest against Israel for its ongoing raids against Palestinians.

The protestors demanded that the government raise its voice against Israel and snap all ties with it, if need be. “The Indian government should respond to this terrorist onslaught by Israel on Palestinians,” said Mujtaba Farooq, convenor, CCIM. The protestors comprised not only students and members of Muslim organisations, but also housewives and children. “We have come here to protest against the killings of innocent people in Gaza. We had all received an SMS, urging us to be a part of this protest. We wanted to show our solidarity with the people of Palestine. Israel should stop its bombings rightaway,” said a student from Jamia.

Protestors also said that the fight against the Israeli attack was not of Muslims alone. “We should bring together our Hindu and Sikh brothers to demand that these attacks end now. People in Gaza are suffering without any electricity, water, food and money because of these raids,” said John Dayal, member of the Christian Council. Pallavi Deka, secretary, JNU Students’ Union, added, “People in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Palestine are suffering alike. If we come together, we can bring an end to the conflict across the world.”

Another protestor, Mohammad Adib, member of parliament said, “Why is our country silent? Our government should tell Israel to either stop these attacks or take away its embassy from our country.”

Source

Jan 7: Lebanese children demonstrate for Gaza Children

Jan 7:Israel’s Gaza invasion provokes protests throughout Latin America

Jan 7: Australian Jews protest against Israel’s action

Jan 7: Canadian Jewish women protesting against Gaza War, Arrested after occupying the Israeli Consulate

An Open Letter From Jewish Youth in Canada – Support of Gaza0 all Jewish youth can sign

Actions we can take to help Palestinians in Gaza -Petitions

Egypt floats truce plan after 42 killed in Gaza School and Bars Doctors from Gaza

Gaza (3): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Gaza (2): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Gaza (1): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Israel strike kills up to 60 members of one family

Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus Shells/Targets UN School

Gaza hospital overwhelmed by dead and wounded

Foreign Press still banned from Gaza/Israel attacks Media Building in Gaza City

Gaza wounded die waiting for ambulances

War on Gaza – Timeline: June 19 2008 to January 3 2009

Published in: on January 8, 2009 at 6:01 am  Comments Off on Jan 7 : India- Protest in New Delhi over Israel raids  
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Actions we can take to help Palestinians in Gaza


Israeli jets bombed targets across Gaza for the third consecutive day. Five girls from the same family, including a 14 month-old toddler, were slain overnight when Israeli warplanes pounded a mosque near their home in the northern town of Jabaliya. Three boys were also killed in a separate Israeli strike on the southern city of Rafah. The fatalities took to 27 the number of children killed in the Israeli onslaught, unleashed Saturday. More than 345 people have been killed and 1,650 wounded in the Israeli offensive. (References for text: IslamOnline.net and agencies. Photo: Ashraf Amra/AP) Source

AVAAZ.ORG

GAZA: STOP THE BLOODSHED, TIME FOR PEACE
With already 380 dead and continued shelling of civilians in southern Israel, now is the time to issue a demand to world leaders that the spiralling violence that has characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come to an end.

Petition to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA:
We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.

Sign the petition calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza – and for peace to be achieved between Israel and Palestine in 2009.


From International Action Center

Sign the Appeal to Stop the Attack on Gaza!
Urgent Appeal for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza

Initiated by 2008 U.N. Human Rights Award winner Ramsey Clark

Let President George W. Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton, Vice President Richard Cheney, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban, U.N. General Assembly President d’Escoto-Brockmann, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel, and Major media representatives know you support this urgent appeal initiated by 2008 U.N. Human Rights Award recipient Ramsey Clark for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza!

To sign this Petition

Take Action to Protest Israeli Attack on Gaza

Mid-morning Saturday, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a series of deadly air strikes on the occupied Gaza Strip. As we write this, an estimated  380 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 innocent people have been wounded. According to news reports today, Israel plans to keep these attacks going and has brought scores of tanks to the border with Gaza.

These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip which has been going on for years and has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents by restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and other necessities of life. All of this is happening in the most densely populated and one of the poorest areas of the world.

Israel is carrying out these attacks with F-16 fighter jets and missiles provided by U.S. taxpayers. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F-16’s. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and ‘bunker buster’ missiles.

Israel’s lethal attack on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military and political support of the United States. We need to take action now to protest this attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.
The U.S. Campaign to End the Israel Occupation (a member group pf UFPJ) has issued an action alert with these suggestions — we urge you to take action today!

    Contact the White House to protest the attacks and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to comments@whitehouse.gov.Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575 or send an email by clicking here.

    Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121 or find contact info for your Members of Congress by clicking here.

    Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor. To find contact info for your local media, click here.

    Organize a local protest or vigil and tell us about it by clicking here.

    Sign our open letter to President-Elect Obama calling for a new U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine and find out other steps you can take to influence the incoming Administration by clicking here.

Contacting Israels Embassies and all Government officials around the world wouldn’t hurt either.

Ontario man’s Gaza trip an extended nightmare, he is trapped in Gaza

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, Israelis-Palestinians

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

Global protests against Israel

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

IoS Christmas Appeal: In Zimbabwe, porridge once a day makes you a lucky girl

At an early childhood centre children play, learn and, most importantly, eat. But for many, this will be their only meal

Children eat at the centre supported by Save the Children in north-western Zimbabwe

Children eat at the centre supported by Save the Children in
north-western Zimbabwe

December 21 2008

The 36 children attending an early childhood centre in north-west Zimbabwe were lucky, and they knew it. They were wearing their best clothes – even if, as in the case of three-year-old Milesh, this meant a shirt that, while clean, was shredded at the back.

Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean children the same age are on the brink of starvation, and millions are losing their education as the collapse in government services closes school after school. All are at risk from the cholera epidemic. But Milesh and friends were looking forward not only to playing and learning together, but to getting what for many of them would be their only meal of the day – a plate of porridge.

The children waited patiently under a tree, clapping and singing while the food was prepared. They could not have been more orderly as they came forward, were given a plate and carried it carefully back into the shade. As soon as they were sitting down, the porridge – a special formula called corn-soya blend, or CSB, fortified with minerals and sweetened with sugar – disappeared in seconds.

Save the Children is helping more than 1,000 pre-school children in Zimbabwe in this way, but such is the chaos in the country that it is having to feed the centre’s helpers, too. “It would be very difficult for me to travel here on an empty stomach,” said one. She was scanning the pupils to see who was missing, and was not surprised that Godgave, four, was absent.

“Godgave is an orphan, and lives with his widowed grandmother,” said the helper. “They are very poor. He is often too weak from hunger – he comes for one or two days, then he is away sick. We go and check on him, but we have no food to carry to him.” In such a state any childhood disease, let alone cholera, could take his life.

Some of the children at the centre showed signs of malnutrition. While most rushed around once they had eaten, playing on the slide and the climbing frame, Milesh’s six-year-old sister Zineth hovered near those with food, until an adult gave her a half-eaten portion of CSB. She made instant work of it. When workers later checked the children’s weight-to-height ratio, Zineth was one of seven who fell into the red zone on the chart, showing she was malnourished. Milesh and 12 others were in the green zone, indicating normal development. Another 16 came up yellow, which meant that of the 36 children at the centre that day, 23 were either suffering from malnutrition or were close to it.

It is not uncommon in Africa for boys in a family to be favoured over girls at times of hardship, but when we accompanied Zineth and Milesh home, their grandfather Mathias denied it was intentional. “We want to treat the children the same,” he said. “But when we have very little food, we give it to the youngest. It’s not because he is a boy.”

Mathias and his wife Mary have brought up their daughter’s three children since she died five years ago and her husband deserted them soon afterwards. “We haven’t had sadza [a mash, made from maize meal, that is Zimbabwe’s staple food] for three days,” he said. “We’ve been eating wild fruits and begging a little maize meal from our neighbours. We got a few cupfuls, which we gave to the children to eat. We had nothing for ourselves.”

The United Nations estimates that more than five million Zimbabweans, roughly half of them children, urgently need food aid. Save the Children is preparing to set up emergency feeding centres for children under five, where even the severely malnourished can be rescued with a special food called Plumpynut. Neither of these programmes will benefit Mathias and his family, however, because they have livestock, and others are worse off.

“We have three donkeys, which we use to plough our field,” he said. “We didn’t get any seeds when they were given out, but we managed to barter some with a neighbour, in exchange for ploughing his field. We’re living each day as it comes. It’s hard for the children – they see others getting food and toys at Christmas, but we have nothing.” His wife added: “When they ask us about the situation, we have no answers. We feel very helpless.”

This story is being repeated across Zimbabwe. Millions are suffering, through no fault of their own, as the nation falls into chaos. Unless we help them, they have no cause for hope.

Source

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE IoS APPEAL

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm  Comments Off on IoS Christmas Appeal: In Zimbabwe, porridge once a day makes you a lucky girl  
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Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

By Angus Shaw, AP
December 4 2008

Zimbabwe has declared a national emergency over its cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health system due the country’s economic crisis.

“Our central hospitals are literally not functioning,” Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper today.

The Herald said Parirenyatwa declared the state of emergency at a meeting Wednesday of government and international aid officials in Harare. He appealed for money to pay doctors and nurses, and for drugs, food and equipment for Zimbabwe’s hospitals.

“Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived,” he was quoted as saying.

The United Nations puts deaths from the cholera epidemic at more than 500. The outbreak is blamed on lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes in a country that once had a sophisticated infrastructure.

The deputy water minister, Walter Mzembi, who also attended Wednesday’s meeting, said his ministry had only enough chemicals to treat water for 12 more weeks.

The Herald said UN agencies, embassies and non-governmental organizations at the meeting pledged to help. The European Commission had said Wednesday it was providing more than $12 million for drugs and clean water while the International Red Cross was also releasing more funds to deal with cholera in Zimbabwe.

“We need to pool our resources together and see how best we can respond to this emergency,” Agostinho Zacarias, the UN Development Program director in Zimbabwe, was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe has been paralyzed since disputed elections in March. President Robert Mugabe and the opposition are wrangling over a power-sharing deal.

The country is suffering from the world’s highest inflation and Zimbabweans face daily shortages of food and other basic goods.

Source

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

December 3 2008
Save the Children New Zealand has announced that it will be sending NZD $60,000 to support the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Following on from the disputed election run-offs between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe has been in a worsening state of decline.

10 million people, out of a population of 13 million live below the poverty line. Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock in Zimbabwe’s northern Zambezi Valley. 32 cases of human anthrax have been reported in the Binga district. This figure is expected to rise.

On top of the anthrax outbreak comes reports of increasing cholera infections which have already killed hundreds of people. Zimbabwe is also in the midst of an economic crisis due to hyperinflation. On 14 November 2008 the Cato Institute released a document estimating that Zimbabwe’s monthly inflation rate to be 79.6 billion percent. This is equivalent to prices doubling every 24 hours.

Save the Children launched a global appeal on 1 December 2008 to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. With increased resources, Save the Children’s emergency team will be responding to the anthrax and cholera outbreaks by helping to vaccinate cows from anthrax, training health workers, providing food so that safe treatment camps can be set up, and educating communities how to avoid infection.

As well as setting up food programmes the aid organisation is also helping families prepare for the future by distributing seeds, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens.

Philip Abraham, Acting Executive Director for Save the Children New Zealand says: “The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions which is why Save the Children has launched a global appeal for donations. We have been working in Zimbabwe for 25 years and have expertise in operating effective programmes within the country. We know we can save lives; we just need the resources to do it”.

To make a donation to support Save the Children’s work in Zimbabwe please: Visit www.savethechildren.org.nz or call our donation line 0800 167 168

Source

Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax has been reported in the north of Zimbabwe, with three people and more than 160 cattle already dead.

British charity Save the Children says that, coming on top of the ongoing cholera epidemic and the desperate food shortage, the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

“Many families in the Zambezi valley are so hungry that they are taking meat from the carcasses of their dead animals, even if they know it’s diseased, and are feeding it to their children,” said Save the Children’s country director, Rachel Pounds. “If the animal has been poisoned by anthrax, those children could die.”

A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North. But traders have been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in the Victoria Falls region. This risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and into Zambia.

Zimbabwe has had problems with Anthrax in the past, having experienced the worst-ever recorded outbreak of the disease in 1979/80, at the time of its civil war. More than 10,000 human cases were recorded and 182 human deaths. Some have suggested, but not proved, that biological warfare was involved.

Little anthrax vaccination has taken place in Zimbabwe during the past five years and the strain now found in the Zambezi valley has been identified as particularly virulent.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched or eaten, or when infected spores are inhaled.

Save the Children has launched a big appeal for funds, which will be used to help vaccinate cattle and educate people about the dangers of anthrax.  In the UK For more information and to donate, click here

Source

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

The Financial System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

November 22 2008

The System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

by Robert Weissman

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor’s annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year.

In the 20 years that we’ve published our annual list, we’ve covered corporate villains, scoundrels, criminals and miscreants. We’ve reported on some really bad stuff — from Exxon’s Valdez spill to Union Carbide and Dow’s effort to avoid responsibility for the Bhopal disaster; from oil companies coddling dictators (including Chevron and CNPC, both profiled this year) to a bank (Riggs) providing financial services for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; from oil and auto companies threatening the future of the planet by blocking efforts to address climate change to duplicitous tobacco companies marketing cigarettes around the world by associating their product with images of freedom, sports, youthful energy and good health.

But we’ve never had a year like 2008.

The financial crisis first gripping Wall Street and now spreading rapidly throughout the world is, in many ways, emblematic of the worst of the corporate-dominated political and economic system that we aim to expose with our annual 10 Worst list. Here is how.

Improper political influence: Corporations dominate the policy-making process, from city councils to global institutions like the World Trade Organization. Over the last 30 years, and especially in the last decade, Wall Street interests leveraged their political power to remove many of the regulations that had restricted their activities. There are at least a dozen separate and significant examples of this, including the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which permitted the merger of banks and investment banks. In a form of corporate civil disobedience, Citibank and Travelers Group merged in 1998 — a move that was illegal at the time, but for which they were given a two-year forbearance — on the assumption that they would be able to force a change in the relevant law. They did, with the help of just-retired (at the time) Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who went on to an executive position at the newly created Citigroup.

Deregulation and non-enforcement: Non-enforcement of rules against predatory lending helped the housing bubble balloon. While some regulators had sought to exert authority over financial derivatives, they were stopped by finance-friendly figures in the Clinton administration and Congress — enabling the creation of the credit default swap market. Even Alan Greenspan concedes that that market — worth $55 trillion in what is called notional value — is imploding in significant part because it was not regulated.

Short-term thinking: It was obvious to anyone who cared to look at historical trends that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble. Many in the financial sector seemed to have convinced themselves that there was no bubble. But others must have been more clear-eyed. In any case, all the Wall Street players had an incentive not to pay attention to the bubble. They were making stratospheric annual bonuses based on annual results. Even if they were certain the bubble would pop sometime in the future, they had every incentive to keep making money on the upside.

Financialization: Profits in the financial sector were more than 35 percent of overall U.S. corporate profits in each year from 2005 to 2007, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Instead of serving the real economy, the financial sector was taking over the real economy.

Profit over social use: Relatedly, the corporate-driven economy was being driven by what could make a profit, rather than what would serve a social purpose. Although Wall Street hucksters offered elaborate rationalizations for why exotic financial derivatives, private equity takeovers of firms, securitization and other so-called financial innovations helped improve economic efficiency, by and large these financial schemes served no socially useful purpose.

Externalized costs: Worse, the financial schemes didn’t just create money for Wall Street movers and shakers and their investors. They made money at the expense of others. The costs of these schemes were foisted onto workers who lost jobs at firms gutted by private equity operators, unpayable loans acquired by homeowners who bought into a bubble market (often made worse by unconscionable lending terms), and now the public.

What is most revealing about the financial meltdown and economic crisis, however, is that it illustrates that corporations — if left to their own worst instincts — will destroy themselves and the system that nurtures them. It is rare that this lesson is so graphically illustrated. It is one the world must quickly learn, if we are to avoid the most serious existential threat we have yet faced: climate change.

Of course, the rest of the corporate sector was not on good behavior during 2008 either, and we do not want them to escape justified scrutiny. In keeping with our tradition of highlighting diverse forms of corporate wrongdoing, we include only one financial company on the 10 Worst list. Here, presented in alphabetical order, are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008.

AIG: Money for Nothing

There’s surely no one party responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis.

But if you had to pick a single responsible corporation, there’s a very strong case to make for American International Group (AIG).

In September, the Federal Reserve poured $85 billion into the distressed global financial services company. It followed up with $38 billion in October.

The government drove a hard bargain for its support. It allocated its billions to the company as high-interest loans; it demanded just short of an 80 percent share of the company in exchange for the loans; and it insisted on the firing of the company’s CEO (even though he had only been on the job for three months).

Why did AIG — primarily an insurance company powerhouse, with more than 100,000 employees around the world and $1 trillion in assets — require more than $100 billion ($100 billion!) in government funds? The company’s traditional insurance business continues to go strong, but its gigantic exposure to the world of “credit default swaps” left it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Government officials then intervened, because they feared that an AIG bankruptcy would crash the world’s financial system.

Credit default swaps are effectively a kind of insurance policy on debt securities. Companies contracted with AIG to provide insurance on a wide range of securities. The insurance policy provided that, if a bond didn’t pay, AIG would make up the loss.

AIG’s eventual problem was rooted in its entering a very risky business but treating it as safe. First, AIG Financial Products, the small London-based unit handling credit default swaps, decided to insure “collateralized debt obligations” (CDOs). CDOs are pools of mortgage loans, but often only a portion of the underlying loans — perhaps involving the most risky part of each loan. Ratings agencies graded many of these CDOs as highest quality, though subsequent events would show these ratings to have been profoundly flawed. Based on the blue-chip ratings, AIG treated its insurance on the CDOs as low risk. Then, because AIG was highly rated, it did not have to post collateral.

Through credit default swaps, AIG was basically collecting insurance premiums and assuming it would never pay out on a failure — let alone a collapse of the entire market it was insuring. It was a scheme that couldn’t be beat: money for nothing.

In September, the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson reported on the operations of AIG’s small London unit, and the profile of its former chief, Joseph Cassano. In 2007, the Times reported, Cassano “described the credit default swaps as almost a sure thing.” “It is hard to get this message across, but these are very much handpicked,” he said in a call with analysts.

“It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions,” he said.

Cassano assured investors that AIG’s operations were nearly fail safe. Following earlier accounting problems, the company’s risk management was stellar, he said: “That’s a committee that I sit on, along with many of the senior managers at AIG, and we look at a whole variety of transactions that come in to make sure that they are maintaining the quality that we need to. And so I think the things that have been put in at our level and the things that have been put in at the parent level will ensure that there won’t be any of those kinds of mistakes again.”

Cassano turned out to be spectacularly wrong. The credit default swaps were not a sure thing. AIG somehow did not notice that the United States was experiencing a housing bubble, and that it was essentially insuring that the bubble would not pop. It made an ill-formed judgment that positive credit ratings meant CDOs were high quality — even when the underlying mortgages were of poor quality.

But before the bubble popped, Cassano’s operation was minting money. It wasn’t hard work, since AIG Financial Products was taking in premiums in exchange for nothing. In 2005, the unit’s profit margin was 83 percent, according to the Times. By 2007, its credit default swap portfolio was more than $500 billion.

Then things started to go bad. Suddenly, AIG had to start paying out on some of the securities it had insured. As it started recording losses, its credit default swap contracts require that it begin putting up more and more collateral. AIG found it couldn’t raise enough money fast enough — over the course of a weekend in September, the amount of money AIG owed shot up from $20 billion to more than $80 billion.

With no private creditors stepping forward, it fell to the government to provide the needed capital or let AIG enter bankruptcy. Top federal officials deemed bankruptcy too high a risk to the overall financial system.

After the bailout, it emerged that AIG did not even know all of the CDOs it had ensured.

In September, less than a week after the bailout was announced, the Orange County Register reported on a posh retreat for company executives and insurance agents at the exclusive St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. Rooms at the resort can cost over $1,000 per night.

After the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlighted the retreat, AIG explained that the retreat was primarily for well-performing independent insurance agents. Only 10 of the 100 participants were from AIG (and they from a successful AIG subsidiary), the company said, and the event was planned long in advance of the federal bailout. In an apology letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, CEO Edward Liddy wrote that AIG now faces very different challenges, and “that we owe our employees and the American public new standards and approaches.”

New standards and approaches, indeed.

Cargill: Food Profiteers

The world’s food system is broken.
Or, more accurately, the giant food companies and their allies in the U.S. and other rich country governments, and at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, broke it.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries produced enough food to feed themselves [CHECK]. Now, 70 percent are net food importers.

Thirty years ago, most developing countries had in place mechanisms aimed at maintaining a relatively constant price for food commodities. Tariffs on imports protected local farmers from fluctuations in global food prices. Government-run grain purchasing boards paid above-market prices for farm goods when prices were low, and required farmers to sell below-market when prices were high. The idea was to give farmers some certainty over price, and to keep food affordable for consumers. Governments also provided a wide set of support services for farmers, giving them advice on new crop and growing technologies and, in some countries, helping set up cooperative structures.

This was not a perfect system by any means, but it looks pretty good in retrospect.

Over the last three decades, the system was completely abandoned, in country after country. It was replaced by a multinational-dominated, globally integrated food system, in which the World Bank and other institutions coerced countries into opening their markets to cheap food imports from rich countries and re-orienting their agricultural systems to grow food for rich consumers abroad. Proponents said the new system was a “free market” approach, but in reality it traded one set of government interventions for another — a new set of rules that gave enhanced power to a handful of global grain trading companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, as well as to seed and fertilizer corporations.

“For this food regime to work,” Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, told the U.S. House Financial Services Committee at a May hearing, “existing marketing boards and support structures needed to be dismantled. In a range of countries, this meant that the state bodies that had been supported and built by the World Bank were dismantled by the World Bank. The rationale behind the dismantling of these institutions was to clear the path for private sector involvement in these sectors, on the understanding that the private sector would be more efficient and less wasteful than the public sector.”

“The result of these interventions and conditions,” explained Patel, “was to accelerate the decline of developing country agriculture. One of the most striking consequences of liberalization has been the phenomenon of ‘import surges.’ These happen when tariffs on cheaper, and often subsidized, agricultural products are lowered, and a host country is then flooded with those goods. There is often a corresponding decline in domestic production. In Senegal, for example, tariff reduction led to an import surge in tomato paste, with a 15-fold increase in imports, and a halving of domestic production. Similar stories might be told of Chile, which saw a three-fold surge in imports of vegetable oil, and a halving of domestic production. In Ghana in 1998, local rice production accounted for over 80 percent of domestic consumption. By 2003, that figure was less than 20 percent.”

The decline of developing country agriculture means that developing countries are dependent on the vagaries of the global market. When prices spike — as they did in late 2007 and through the beginning of 2008 — countries and poor consumers are at the mercy of the global market and the giant trading companies that dominate it. In the first quarter of 2008, the price of rice in Asia doubled, and commodity prices overall rose 40 percent. People in rich countries felt this pinch, but the problem was much more severe in the developing world. Not only do consumers in poor countries have less money, they spend a much higher proportion of their household budget on food — often half or more — and they buy much less processed food, so commodity increases affect them much more directly. In poor countries, higher prices don’t just pinch, they mean people go hungry. Food riots broke out around the world in early 2008.

But not everyone was feeling pain. For Cargill, spiking prices was an opportunity to get rich. In the second quarter of 2008, the company reported profits of more than $1 billion, with profits from continuing operations soaring 18 percent from the previous year. Cargill’s 2007 profits totaled more than $2.3 billion, up more than a third from 2006.

In a competitive market, would a grain-trading middleman make super-profits? Or would rising prices crimp the middleman’s profit margin?

Well, the global grain trade is not competitive.

In an August speech, Cargill CEO Greg Page posed the question, “So, isn’t Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?” Here is how he responded:

“I would give you four pieces of information about why our earnings have gone up dramatically.

  1. The demand for food has gone up. The demand for our facilities has gone up, and we are running virtually all of our facilities worldwide at total capacity. As we utilize our capacity more effectively, clearly we do better.
  2. Fertilizer prices rose, and we are owners of a large fertilizer company. That has been the single largest factor in Cargill’s earnings.
  3. The volatility in the grain industry — much of it created by governments — was an opportunity for a trading company like Cargill to make money.
  4. Finally, in this era of high prices, Cargill over the last two years has invested $15.5 billion additional dollars into the world food system. Some was to carry all these high-priced inventories. We also wanted to be sure that we were there for farmers who needed the working capital to operate in this much more expensive environment. Clearly, our owners expected some return on that $15.5 billion. Cargill had an opportunity to make more money in this environment, and I think that is something that we need to be very forthright about.”

OK, Mr. Page, that’s all very interesting. The question was, “So, isn’t Cargill exploiting the food situation to make money?” It sounds like your answer is, “yes.”

Chevron: “We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies”

The world has witnessed a stunning consolidation of the multinational oil companies over the last decade.

One of the big winners was Chevron. It swallowed up Texaco and Unocal, among others. It was happy to absorb their revenue streams. It has been less willing to take responsibility for ecological and human rights abuses perpetrated by these companies.

One of the inherited legacies from Chevron’s 2001 acquisition of Texaco is litigation in Ecuador over the company’s alleged decimation of the Ecuadorian Amazon over a 20-year period of operation. In 1993, 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians filed a class action suit in U.S. courts, alleging that Texaco had poisoned the land where they live and the waterways on which they rely, allowing billions of gallons of oil to spill and leaving hundreds of waste pits unlined and uncovered. They sought billions in compensation for the harm to their land and livelihood, and for alleged health harms. The Ecuadorians and their lawyers filed the case in U.S. courts because U.S. courts have more capacity to handle complex litigation, and procedures (including jury trials) that offer plaintiffs a better chance to challenge big corporations. Texaco, and later Chevron, deployed massive legal resources to defeat the lawsuit. Ultimately, a Chevron legal maneuver prevailed: At Chevron’s instigation, U.S. courts held that the case should be litigated in Ecuador, closer to where the alleged harms occurred.

Having argued vociferously that Ecuadorian courts were fair and impartial, Chevron is now unhappy with how the litigation has proceeded in that country. So unhappy, in fact, that it is lobbying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to impose trade sanctions on Ecuador if the Ecuadorian government does not make the case go away.

“We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies like this — companies that have made big investments around the world,” a Chevron lobbyist said to Newsweek in August. (Chevron subsequently stated that “the comments attributed to an unnamed lobbyist working for Chevron do not reflect our company’s views regarding the Ecuador case. They were not approved by the company and will not be tolerated.”)

Chevron is worried because a court-appointed special master found in March that the company was liable to plaintiffs for between $7 billion and $16 billion. The special master has made other findings that Chevron’s clean-up operations in Ecuador have been inadequate.

Another of Chevron’s inherited legacies is the Yadana natural gas pipeline in Burma, operated by a consortium in which Unocal was one of the lead partners. Human rights organizations have documented that the Yadana pipeline was constructed with forced labor, and associated with brutal human rights abuses by the Burmese military.

EarthRights International, a human rights group with offices in Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, has carefully tracked human rights abuses connected to the Yadana pipeline, and led a successful lawsuit against Unocal/Chevron. In an April 2008 report, the group states that “Chevron and its consortium partners continue to rely on the Burmese army for pipeline security, and those forces continue to conscript thousands of villagers for forced labor, and to commit torture, rape, murder and other serious abuses in the course of their operations.”

Money from the Yadana pipeline plays a crucial role in enabling the Burmese junta to maintain its grip on power. EarthRights International estimates the pipeline funneled roughly $1 billion to the military regime in 2007. The group also notes that, in late 2007, when the Burmese military violently suppressed political protests led by Buddhist monks, Chevron sat idly by.

Chevron has trouble in the United States, as well. In September, Earl Devaney, the inspector general for the Department of Interior, released an explosive report documenting “a culture of ethical failure” and a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” in the U.S. government program handling oil lease contracts on U.S. government lands and property. Government employees, Devaney found, accepted a stream of small gifts and favors from oil company representatives, and maintained sexual relations with them. (In one memorable passage, the inspector general report states that “sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length.”) The report showed that Chevron had conferred the largest number of gifts on federal employees. It also complained that Chevron refused to cooperate with the investigation, a claim Chevron subsequently disputed.

Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators

Although it is too dangerous, too expensive and too centralized to make sense as an energy source, nuclear power won’t go away, thanks to equipment makers and utilities that find ways to make the public pay and pay.

Case in point: Constellation Energy Group, the operator of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland. When Maryland deregulated its electricity market in 1999, Constellation — like other energy generators in other states — was able to cut a deal to recover its “stranded costs” and nuclear decommissioning fees. The idea was that competition would bring multiple suppliers into the market, and these new competitors would have an unfair advantage over old-time monopoly suppliers. Those former monopolists, the argument went, had built expensive nuclear reactors with the approval of state regulators, and it would be unfair if they could not charge consumers to recover their costs. It would also be unfair, according to this line of reasoning, if the former monopolists were unable to recover the costs of decommissioning nuclear facilities.

In Maryland, the “stranded cost” deal gave Constellation (through its affiliate Baltimore Gas & Electric, BGE) the right to charge ratepayers $975 million in 1993 dollars (almost $1.5 billion in present dollars).

Deregulation meant that Constellation’s energy generating assets — including its nuclear facility at Calvert Cliffs — were free from price regulation. As a result, instead of costing Constellation, Calvert Cliffs’ market value increased.

Deregulation also meant that, after an agreed-upon freeze period, BGE was free to raise its rates as it chose. In 2006, it announced a 72 percent rate increase. For residential consumers, this meant they would pay an average of $743 more per year for electricity.

The sudden price hike sparked a rebellion. The Maryland legislature passed a law requiring BGE to credit consumers $386 million over a 10-year period. At the time, Constellation was very pleased with the deal, which let it keep most of its price-gouging profits — a spokesperson for the then-governor said that Constellation and BGE were “doing a victory lap around the statehouse” after the bill passed.

In February 2008, however, Constellation announced that it intended to sue the state for unconstitutionally “taking” its assets via the mandatory consumer credit. In March, following a preemptive lawsuit by the state, the matter was settled. BGE agreed to make a one-time rebate of $170 million to residential ratepayers, and 90 percent of the credits to ratepayers (totaling $346 million) were left in place. The deal also relieved ratepayers of the obligation to pay for decommissioning — an expense that had been expected to total $1.5 billion (or possibly much more) from 2016 to 2036.

The deal also included regulatory changes making it easier for outside companies to invest in Constellation — a move of greater import than initially apparent. In September, with utility stock prices plummeting, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy announced it would purchase Constellation for $4.7 billion, less than a quarter of the company’s market value in January.

Meanwhile, Constellation plans to build a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs, potentially the first new reactor built in the United States since the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979.

“There are substantial clean air benefits associated with nuclear power, benefits that we recognize as the operator of three plants in two states,” says Constellation spokesperson Maureen Brown.

It has lined up to take advantage of U.S. government-guaranteed loans for new nuclear construction, available under the terms of the 2005 Energy Act [see “Nuclear’s Power Play: Give Us Subsidies or Give Us Death,” Multinational Monitor, September/October 2008]. “We can’t go forward unless we have federal loan guarantees,” says Brown.

Building nuclear plants is extraordinarily expensive (Constellation’s planned construction is estimated at $9.6 billion) and takes a long time; construction plans face massive political risks; and the value of electric utilities is small relative to the huge costs of nuclear construction. For banks and investors, this amounts to too much uncertainty — but if the government guarantees loans will be paid back, then there’s no risk.

Or, stated better, the risk is absorbed entirely by the public. That’s the financial risk. The nuclear safety risk is always absorbed, involuntarily, by the public.

CNPC: Fueling Violence in Darfur

Many of the world’s most brutal regimes have a common characteristic: Although subject to economic sanctions and politically isolated, they are able to maintain power thanks to multinational oil company enablers. Case in point: Sudan, and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

In July, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo charged the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, with committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The charges claim that Al Bashir is the mastermind of crimes against ethnic groups in Darfur, aimed at removing the black population from Sudan. Sudanese armed forces and government-authorized militias known as the Janjaweed have carried out massive attacks against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa communities of Darfur, according to the ICC allegations. Following bombing raids, “ground forces would then enter the village or town and attack civilian inhabitants. They kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes. They burn and loot the villages.” The ICC says 35,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million displaced.

The ICC reports one victim saying: “When we see them, we run. Some of us succeed in getting away, and some are caught and taken to be raped — gang-raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. … These things are normal for us here in Darfur. These things happen all the time. I have seen rapes, too. It does not matter who sees them raping the women — they don’t care. They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers.”

Governments around the world have imposed various sanctions on Sudan, with human rights groups demanding much more aggressive action.

But there is little doubt that Sudan has been able to laugh off existing and threatened sanctions because of the huge support it receives from China, channeled above all through the Sudanese relationship with CNPC.

“The relationship between CNPC and Sudan is symbiotic,” notes the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First, in a March 2008 report, “Investing in Tragedy.” “Not only is CNPC the largest investor in the Sudanese oil sector, but Sudan is CNPC’s largest market for overseas investment.”

China receives three quarters of Sudan’s exports, and Chinese companies hold the majority share in almost all of the key oil-rich areas in Sudan. Explains Human Rights First: “Beijing’s companies pump oil from numerous key fields, which then courses through Chinese-made pipelines to Chinese-made storage tanks to await a voyage to buyers, most of them Chinese.” CNPC is the largest oil investor in Sudan; the other key Chinese company is the Sinopec Group (also known as the China Petrochemical Corporation).

Oil money has fueled violence in Darfur. “The profitability of Sudan’s oil sector has developed in close chronological step with the violence in Darfur,” notes Human Rights First. “In 2000, before the crisis, Sudan’s oil revenue was $1.2 billion. By 2006, with the crisis well underway, that total had shot up by 291 percent, to $4.7 billion. How does Sudan use that windfall? Its finance minister has said that at least 70 percent of the oil profits go to the Sudanese armed forces, linked with its militia allies to the crimes in Darfur.”

There are other nefarious components of the CNPC relationship with the Sudanese government. China ships substantial amounts of small arms to Sudan and has helped Sudan build its own small arms factories. China has also worked at the United Nations to undermine more effective multilateral action to protect Darfur. Human rights organizations charge a key Chinese motivation is to lubricate its relationship with the Khartoum government so the oil continues to flow.

CNPC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple

Starting in 1988, the Philippines undertook what was to be a bold initiative to redress the historically high concentration of land ownership that has impoverished millions of rural Filipinos and undermined the country’s development. The Comprehensive Agricultural Reform Program (CARP) promised to deliver land to the landless.

It didn’t work out that way.

Plantation owners helped draft the law and invented ways to circumvent its purported purpose.

Dole pineapple workers are among those paying the price.

Under CARP, Dole’s land was divided among its workers and others who had claims on the land prior to the pineapple giant. However, under the terms of the law, as the Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) explains in an October report, “The Sour Taste of Pineapple,” the workers received only nominal title. They were required to form labor cooperatives. Intended to give workers — now the new land owners — a means to collectively manage their land, the cooperatives were instead controlled by wealthy landlords.

“Through its dealings with these cooperatives,” ILRF found, Dole and Del Monte, (the world’s other leading pineapple grower) “have been able to take advantage of a number of worker abuses. Dole has outsourced its labor force to contract labor and replaced its full-time regular employment system that existed before CARP.” Dole employs 12,000 contract workers. Meanwhile, from 1989 to 1998, Dole reduced its regular workforce by 3,500.

Under current arrangements, Dole now leases its land from its workers, on extremely cheap terms — in one example cited by ILRF, Dole pays in rent one-fifteenth of its net profits from a plantation. Most workers continue to work the land they purportedly own, but as contract workers for Dole.

The Philippine Supreme Court has ordered Dole to convert its contract workers into regular employees, but the company has not done so. In 2006, the Court upheld a Department of Labor and Employment decision requiring Dole to stop using illegal contract labor. Under Philippine law, contract workers should be regularized after six months.

Dole emphasizes that it pays its workers $10 a day, more than the country’s $5.60 minimum wage. It also says that its workers are organized into unions. The company responded angrily to a 2007 nomination for most irresponsible corporations from a Swiss organization, the Berne Declaration. “We must also say that those fallacious attacks created incredulity and some anger among our Dolefil workers, their representatives, our growers, their cooperatives and more generally speaking among the entire community where we operate.” The company thanked “hundreds of people who spontaneously expressed their support to Dolefil, by taking the initiative to sign manifestos,” including seven cooperatives.

The problem with Dole’s position, as ILRF points out, is that “Dole’s contract workers are denied the same rights afforded to Dole’s regular workers. They are refused the right to organize or benefits gained by the regular union, and are consequently left with poor wages and permanent job insecurity.” Contract workers are paid under a quota system, and earn about $1.85 a day, according to ILRF.

Conditions are not perfect for unionized workers, either. In 2006, when a union leader complained about pesticide and chemical exposures (apparently misreported in local media as a complaint about Dole’s waste disposal practices), the management of Dole Philippines (Dolefil) pressed criminal libel charges against him. Two years later, these criminal charges remain pending.

Dole says it cannot respond to the allegations in the ILRF report, because the U.S. Trade Representative is considering acting on a petition by ILRF to deny some trade benefits to Dole pineapples imported into the United States from the Philippines.

Concludes Bama Atheya, executive director of ILRF, “In both Costa Rica and the Philippines, Dole has deliberately obstructed workers’ right to organize, has failed to pay a living wage and has polluted workers’ communities.”

GE: Creative Accounting

General Electric (GE) has appeared on Multinational Monitor’s annual 10 Worst Corporations list for defense contractor fraud, labor rights abuses, toxic and radioactive pollution, manufacturing nuclear weaponry, workplace safety violations and media conflicts of interest (GE owns television network NBC).

This year, the company returns to the list for new reasons: alleged tax cheating and the firing of a whistleblower.

In June, former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston reported on internal GE documents that appeared to show the company had engaged in long-running effort to evade taxes in Brazil. In a lengthy report in Tax Notes International, Johnston cited a GE subsidiary manager’s powerpoint presentation that showed “suspicious” invoices as “an indication of possible tax evasion.” The invoices showed suspiciously high sales volume for lighting equipment in lightly populated Amazon regions of the country. These sales would avoid higher value added taxes (VAT) in urban states, where sales would be expected to be greater.

Johnston wrote that the state-level VAT at issue, based on the internal documents he reviewed, appeared to be less than $100 million. But, “since the VAT scheme appears to have gone on long before the period covered in the Moreira [the company manager] report, the total sum could be much larger and could involve other countries supplied by the Brazil subsidiary.”

A senior GE spokesperson, Gary Sheffer, told Johnston that the VAT and related issues were so small relative to GE’s size that the company was surprised a reporter would spend time looking at them. “No company has perfect compliance,” Sheffer said. “We do not believe we owe the tax.”

Johnston did not identify the source that gave him the internal GE documents, but GE has alleged it was a former company attorney, Adriana Koeck. GE fired Koeck in January 2007 for what it says were “performance reasons.” GE sued Koeck in June 2008, alleging that she wrongfully maintained privileged and confidential information, and improperly shared the information with third parties. In a court filing, GE said that it “considers its professional reputation to be its greatest asset and it has worked tirelessly to develop and preserve an unparalleled reputation of ‘unyielding integrity.’”

GE’s suit followed a whistleblower defense claim filed by Koeck in 2007. In April 2007, Koeck filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections (rules put in place following the Enron scandal).

In her filing, Koeck alleges that she was fired not for poor performance, but because she called attention to improper activities by GE. After being hired in January 2006, Koeck’s complaint asserts, she “soon discovered that GE C&I [consumer and industrial] operations in Latin America were engaged in a variety of irregular practices. But when she tried to address the problems, both Mr. Burse and Mr. Jones [her superiors in the general counsel’s office] interfered with her efforts, took certain matters away from her, repeatedly became enraged with her when she insisted that failing to address the problems would harm GE, and eventually had her terminated.”

Koeck’s whistleblower filing details the state VAT-avoidance scheme discussed in Johnston’s article. It also indicates that several GE employees in Brazil were blackmailing the company to keep quiet about the scheme.

Koeck’s whistleblower filing also discusses reports in the Brazilian media that GE had participated in a “bribing club” with other major corporations. Members of the club allegedly met to divide up public contracts in Brazil, as well as to agree on the amounts that would be paid in bribes. Koeck discovered evidence of GE subsidiaries engaging in behavior compatible with the “bribing club” stories and reported this information to her superior. Koeck alleges that her efforts to get higher level attorneys to review the situation failed.

In a statement, GE responds to the substance of Koeck’s allegations of wrongdoing: “These were relatively minor and routine commercial and tax issues in Brazil. Our employees proactively identified, investigated and resolved these issues in the appropriate manner. We are confident we have met all of our tax and compliance obligations in Brazil.GE has a strong and rigorous compliance process that dealt effectively with these issues.”

Koeck’s Sarbanes-Oxley complaint was thrown out in June, on the grounds that it had not been filed in a timely matter.

The substance of her claims, however, are now under investigation by the Department of Justice Fraud Section, according to Corporate Crime Reporter.

Imperial Sugar: 13 Dead

On February 7, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, near Savannah.

Tony Holmes, a forklift operator at the plant, was in the break room when the blast occurred.

“I heard the explosion,” he told the Savannah Morning News. “The building shook, and the lights went out. I thought the roof was falling in. … I saw people running. I saw some horrific injuries. … People had clothes burning. Their skin was hanging off. Some were bleeding.”

Days later, when the fire was finally extinguished and search-and-rescue operations completed, the horrible human toll was finally known: 13 dead, dozens badly burned and injured.

As with almost every industrial disaster, it turns out the tragedy was preventable. The cause was accumulated sugar dust, which like other forms of dust, is highly combustible.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government workplace safety regulator, had not visited Imperial Sugar’s Port Wentworth facility since 2000. When inspectors examined the blast site after the fact, they found rampant violations of the agency’s already inadequate standards. They proposed a more than $5 million fine, and issuance of citations for 61 egregious willful violations, eight willful violations and 51 serious violations. Under OSHA’s rules, a “serious” citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to occur, a “willful” violation is a violation committed with plain indifference to employee safety and health, and “egregious” citations are issued for particularly flagrant violations.

A month later, OSHA inspectors investigated Imperial Sugar’s plant in Gramercy, Louisiana. They found 1/4- to 2-inch accumulations of dust on electrical wiring and machinery. They found 6- to 8-inch accumulations on wall ledges and piping. They found 1/2- to 1-inch accumulations on mechanical equipment and motors. They found 3- to 48-inch accumulations on workroom floors. OSHA posted an “imminent danger” notice at the plant, because of the high likelihood of another explosion.

Imperial Sugar obviously knew of the conditions in its plants. It had in fact taken some measures to clean up operations prior to the explosion.

Graham H. Graham was hired as vice president of operations of Imperial Sugar in November 2007. In July 2008, he told a Senate subcommittee that he first walked through the Port Wentworth facility in December 2007. “The conditions were shocking,” he testified. “Port Wentworth was a dirty and dangerous facility. The refinery was littered with discarded materials, piles of sugar dust, puddles of sugar liquid and airborne sugar dust. Electrical motors and controls were encrusted with solidified sugar, while safety covers and doors were missing from live electrical switchgear and panels. A combustible environment existed.”

Graham recommended that the plant manager be fired, and he was. Graham ordered a housekeeping blitz, and by the end of January, he testified to the Senate subcommittee, conditions had improved significantly, but still were hazardous.

But Graham also testified that he was told to tone down his demands for immediate action. In a meeting with John Sheptor, then Imperial Sugar’s chief operating officer and now its CEO, and Kay Hastings, senior vice president of human resources, Graham testified, “I was also informed that I was excessively eager in addressing the refinery’s problems.”

Sheptor, who was nearly killed in the refinery explosion, and Hastings both deny Graham’s account.

The company says that it respected safety concerns before the explosion, but has since redoubled efforts, hiring expert consultants on combustible hazards, refocusing on housekeeping efforts and purchasing industrial vacuums to minimize airborne disbursement.

In March, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the hazards posed by combustible dust. The head of the Chemical Safety Board testified about a 2006 study that identified hundreds of combustible dust incidents that had killed more than 100 workers during the previous 25 years. The report recommended that OSHA issue rules to control the risk of dust explosions.

Instead of acting on this recommendation, said Committee Chair George Miller, D-California, “OSHA chose to rely on compliance assistance and voluntary programs, such as industry ‘alliances,’ web pages, fact sheets, speeches and booths at industry conferences.”

The House of Representatives then passed legislation to require OSHA to issue combustible dust standards, but the proposal was not able to pass the Senate.

Remarkably, even after the tragedy at Port Wentworth, and while Imperial Sugar said it welcomed the effort for a new dust rule, OSHA head Edwin Foulke indicated he believed no new rule was necessary.

“We believe,” he told the House Education and Labor Committee in March, “that [OSHA] has taken strong measures to prevent combustible dust hazards, and that our multi-pronged approach, which includes effective enforcement of  existing standards, combined with education for employers and employees, is effective in addressing combustible dust hazards. We would like to emphasize that the existence of a standard does not ensure that explosions will be eliminated.”

Philip Morris International: Unshackled

The old Philip Morris no longer exists. In March, the company formally divided itself into two separate entities: Philip Morris USA, which remains a part of the parent company Altria, and Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris USA sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the United States. Philip Morris International tramples over the rest of the world.

The world is just starting to come to grips with a Philip Morris International even more predatory in pushing its toxic products worldwide.

The new Philip Morris International is unconstrained by public opinion in the United States — the home country and largest market of the old, unified Philip Morris —and will no longer fear lawsuits in the United States.

As a result, Thomas Russo of the investment fund Gardner Russo & Gardner told Bloomberg, the company “won’t have to worry about getting pre-approval from the U.S. for things that are perfectly acceptable in foreign markets.” Russo’s firm owns 5.7 million shares of Altria and now Philip Morris International.

A commentator for The Motley Fool investment advice service wrote, “The Marlboro Man is finally free to roam the globe unfettered by the legal and marketing shackles of the U.S. domestic market.”

In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new report on the global tobacco epidemic. WHO estimates the Big Tobacco-fueled epidemic now kills more than 5 million people every year.

Five million people.

By 2030, WHO estimates 8 million will die a year from tobacco-related disease, 80 percent in the developing world.

The WHO report emphasizes that known and proven public health policies can dramatically reduce smoking rates. These policies include indoor smoke-free policies; bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; heightened taxes; effective warnings; and cessation programs. These “strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic,” says WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

Most countries have failed to adopt these policies, thanks in no small part to decades-long efforts by Philip Morris and the rest of Big Tobacco to deploy political power to block public health initiatives. Thanks to the momentum surrounding a global tobacco treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2005, this is starting to change. There’s a long way to go, but countries are increasingly adopting sound public health measures to combat Big Tobacco.

Now Philip Morris International has signaled its initial plans to subvert these policies.

The company has announced plans to inflict on the world an array of new products, packages and marketing efforts. These are designed to undermine smoke-free workplace rules, defeat tobacco taxes, segment markets with specially flavored products, offer flavored cigarettes sure to appeal to youth and overcome marketing restrictions.

The Chief Operating Officer of Philip Morris International, Andre Calantzopoulos, detailed in a March investor presentation two new products, Marlboro Wides, “a shorter cigarette with a wider diameter,” and Marlboro Intense, “a rich, flavorful, shorter cigarette.”

Sounds innocent enough, as far as these things go.

That’s only to the innocent mind.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Philip Morris International’s underlying objective: “The idea behind Intense is to appeal to customers who, due to indoor smoking bans, want to dash outside for a quick nicotine hit but don’t always finish a full-size cigarette.”

Workplace and indoor smoke-free rules protect people from second-hand smoke, but also make it harder for smokers to smoke. The inconvenience (and stigma of needing to leave the office or restaurant to smoke) helps smokers smoke less and, often, quit. Subverting smoke-free bans will damage an important tool to reduce smoking.

Philip Morris International says it can adapt to high taxes. If applied per pack (or per cigarette), rather than as a percentage of price, high taxes more severely impact low-priced brands (and can help shift smokers to premium brands like Marlboro). But taxes based on price hurt Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris International’s response? “Other Tobacco Products,” which Calantzopoulos describes as “tax-driven substitutes for low-price cigarettes.” These include, says Calantzopoulos, “the ‘tobacco block,’ which I would describe as the perfect make-your-own cigarette device.” In Germany, roll-your-own cigarettes are taxed far less than manufactured cigarettes, and Philip Morris International’s “tobacco block” is rapidly gaining market share.

One of the great industry deceptions over the last several decades is selling cigarettes called “lights” (as in Marlboro Lights), “low” or “mild” — all designed to deceive smokers into thinking they are safer.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control says these inherently misleading terms should be barred. Like other companies in this regard, Philip Morris has been moving to replace the names with color coding — aiming to convey the same ideas, without the now-controversial terms.

Calantzopoulos says Philip Morris International will work to more clearly differentiate Marlboro Gold (lights) from Marlboro Red (traditional) to “increase their appeal to consumer groups and segments that Marlboro has not traditionally addressed.”

Philip Morris International also is rolling out a range of new Marlboro products with obvious attraction for youth. These include Marlboro Ice Mint, Marlboro Crisp Mint and Marlboro Fresh Mint, introduced into Japan and Hong Kong last year. It is exporting clove products from Indonesia.

The company has also renewed efforts to sponsor youth-oriented music concerts. In July, activist pressure forced Philip Morris International to withdraw sponsorship of an Alicia Keys concert in Indonesia (Keys called for an end to the sponsorship deal); and in August, the company was forced to withdraw from sponsorship in the Philippines of a reunion concert of the Eraserheads, a band sometimes considered “the Beatles of the Philippines.”

Responding to increasing advertising restrictions and large, pictorial warnings required on packs, Marlboro is focusing increased attention on packaging. Fancy slide packs make the package more of a marketing device than ever before, and may be able to obscure warning labels.

Most worrisome of all may be the company’s forays into China, the biggest cigarette market in the world, which has largely been closed to foreign multinationals. Philip Morris International has hooked up with the China National Tobacco Company, which controls sales in China. Philip Morris International will sell Chinese brands in Europe. Much more importantly, the company is starting to sell licensed versions of Marlboro in China. The Chinese aren’t letting Philip Morris International in quickly — Calantzopoulos says, “We do not foresee a material impact on our volume and profitability in the near future.” But, he adds, “we believe this long-term strategic cooperation will prove to be mutually beneficial and form the foundation for strong long-term growth.”

What does long-term growth mean? In part, it means gaining market share among China’s 350 million smokers. But it also means expanding the market, by selling to girls and women. About 60 percent of men in China smoke; only 2 or 3 percent of women do so.

Roche: Saving Lives is Not Our Business

Monopoly control over life-saving medicines gives enormous power to drug companies. And, to paraphrase Lord Acton, enormous power corrupts enormously.

The Swiss company Roche makes a range of HIV-related drugs. One of them is enfuvirtid, sold under the brand-name Fuzeon. Fuzeon is the first of a new class of AIDS drugs, working through a novel mechanism. It is primarily used as a “salvage” therapy — a treatment for people for whom other therapies no longer work. Fuzeon brought in $266 million to Roche in 2007, though sales are declining.

Roche charges $25,000 a year for Fuzeon. It does not offer a discount price for developing countries.

Like most industrialized countries, Korea maintains a form of price controls — the national health insurance program sets prices for medicines. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs listed Fuzeon at $18,000 a year. Korea’s per capita income is roughly half that of the United States. Instead of providing Fuzeon, for a profit, at Korea’s listed level, Roche refuses to make the drug available in Korea.

Korea is not a developing country, emphasizes Roche spokesperson Martina Rupp. “South Korea is a developed country like the U.S. or like Switzerland.”

Roche insists that Fuzeon is uniquely expensive to manufacture, and so that it cannot reduce prices. According to a statement from Roche, “the offered price represents the lowest sustainable price at which Roche can provide Fuzeon to South Korea, considering that the production process for this medication requires more than 100 steps — 10 times more than other antiretrovirals. A single vial takes six months to produce, and 45 kilograms of raw materials are necessary to produce one kilogram of Fuzeon.”

The head of Roche Korea was reportedly less diplomatic. According to Korean activists, he told them, “We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business.”

Says Roche spokesperson Rupp: “I don’t know why he would say that, and I cannot imagine that this is really something that this person said.”

Another AIDS-related drug made by Roche is valganciclovir. Valganciclovir treats a common AIDS-related infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV) that causes blindness or death. Roche charges $10,000 for a four-month course of valganciclovir. In December 2006, it negotiated with Médicins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and agreed on a price of $1,899. According to MSF, this still-price-gouging price is only available for poor and very high incidence countries, however, and only for nonprofit organizations — not national treatment programs.

Roche’s Rupp says that “Currently, MSF is the only organization requesting purchase of Valcyte [Roche’s brand name for valganciclovir] for such use in these countries. To date, MSF are the only AIDS treatment provider treating CMV for their patients.  They told us themselves this is because no-one else has the high level of skilled medical staff they have.”

Dr. David Wilson, former MSF medical coordinator in Thailand, says he remembers the first person that MSF treated with life-saving antiretrovirals. “I remember everyone was feeling really great that we were going to start treating people with antiretrovirals, with the hope of bringing people back to normal life.” The first person MSF treated, Wilson says, lived but became blind from CMV. “She became strong and she lived for a long time, but the antiretroviral treatment doesn’t treat the CMV.”

“I’ve been working in MSF projects and treating people with AIDS with antiretrovirals for seven years now,” he says, “and along with many colleagues we’ve been frustrated because we don’t have treatment for this particular disease. We now think we have a strategy to diagnose it effectively and what we really need is the medicine to treat the patients.”

Source

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

Obama asked to save prisoners from soy ‘torture’

November 18 2008
By Bob Unruh

President-elect Barack Obama is being asked to intervene in the state he represented in the U.S. Senate to halt a prison “feeding program” that is causing health problems for inmates, according to a nutrition organization.

In an open letter to Obama, Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, said the existing procedures are “poisoning” inmates.

Obama, Morell wrote, should “focus on a grave injustice taking place in the prisons of your home state, namely, a prison diet that is slowly killing the inmates assigned to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“This is a diet based largely on soy protein powder and soy flour. As you stated on last night’s 60 Minutes Program, America does not condone torture. I think you would agree that what is happening in the Illinois prisons is a form of torture,” Fallon wrote.

Soy products have been in the news in recent months after a new study from Harvard indicated that consumption of soy lowers sperm count.

The study suggested confirmation of a series of reports documented by WND columnist Jim Rutz, who described soy’s “feminizing” effect on men.

According to a report from Reuters, the study was done by Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, whose work appeared in the journal Human Reproduction.

It reportedly is the largest study of humans to look at the relationship between semen quality and a plant form of the female sex hormone estrogen known as phytoestrogen, which is plentiful in soy-rich foods.

Now comes the Price Foundation letter to Obama, which states that soy protein and soy flour are toxic, “especially in large amounts.”

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists 288 studies on its database showing the toxicity of soy. Numerous studies show that soy consumption leads to nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, endocrine disruption and thyroid problems,” the letter said.

WND contacted officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections, but officials could not comment on the claims immediately.

The Price Foundation letter said “even the most ardent supporters of soy, such as Dr. Mark Messina, warn against consuming more than about 20 grams of soy protein per day.”

However, the inmates in Illinois are fed up to 100 grams per day – beef and chicken by-product mixtures containing 60-70 percent soy, fake soy meats and cheese, “even soy added to baked goods,” the letter said.

The soy products are produced by Archer Daniel Midlands, according to the Price Foundation, but ADM officials did not return a WND call requesting comment.

The Price Foundation said ADM “contributed heavily to the campaign of [Illinois Gov.] Rod Blagojevich. The change from a diet based largely on beef to one based on soy happened in 2003, when Mr. Blagojevich began his first term as governor.”

Morell said her office has heard from “dozens” of Illinois inmates pleading for help.

“Almost all suffer from serious digestive disorders, such as diarrhea or painful constipation, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome and sharp pains,” she said. “… One reason for these problems is the high oxalic acid content of soy – no food is higher in oxalic acid than soy protein isolate, which can contain … at least six times higher than the amount found in typical diets.”

Oxacil acid, the letter said, is associated with kidney stones, can disrupt heart functions, replace bone marrow cells and impair nerve functions.

“When the prisoners seek medical treatment, they are told that soy does not cause the problems they are experiencing. Even those who vomit or pass out immediately after eating soy cannot get an order for a soy-free diet. They are told: ‘If the soy disagrees with you, don’t eat it. Buy food from the commissary,'” Morell told Obama.

“It is said that a nation is judged on the way it treats its prisoners,” Morell wrote in her letter. “The American prison system is predicated on the premise that criminals can be rehabilitated. To feed prisoners a diet that can permanently ruin their health robs them of any opportunity for rehabilitation, renders them unfit for normal life when they are released, and will impose an unnecessary burden on the state’s medical services.

“It constitutes a medical experiment and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and must be stopped,” she wrote.

Rutz’s original reports, starting in 2006 with one titled ‘Soy is making kids ‘gay,” cited a number of studies and described soy as a “slow poison.”

“Now, I’m a health-food guy, a fanatic who seldom allows anything into his kitchen unless it’s organic. I state my bias here just so you’ll know I’m not anti-health food,” Rutz wrote.

“The dangerous food I’m speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they’re all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.

“I have nothing against an occasional soy snack. Soy is nutritious and contains lots of good things. Unfortunately, when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you’re also getting substantial quantities of estrogens,” he continued.

“Estrogens are female hormones. If you’re a woman, you’re flooding your system with a substance it can’t handle in surplus. If you’re a man, you’re suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your ‘female side,’ physically and mentally,” he wrote. “In fetal development, the default is being female. All humans (even in old age) tend toward femininity. The main thing that keeps men from diverging into the female pattern is testosterone, and testosterone is suppressed by an excess of estrogen.

“If you’re a grownup, you’re already developed, and you’re able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. Babies aren’t so fortunate. Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you’re giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. A baby’s endocrine system just can’t cope with that kind of massive assault, so some damage is inevitable. At the extreme, the damage can be fatal.”

He concluded that soy is “feminizing, and commonly leads to … homosexuality,” prompting hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails of outrage.

Many who wrote reflected the same concerns included in a PRNewswire statement from the Soyfoods Association of North America.

The organization called Chavarro’s work a “small scale, preliminary study.”

“This study is confounded by many issues, thus I feel the results should be viewed with a great deal of caution,” warned Dr. Tammy Hedlund, a researcher in prostate cancer prevention from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in the Soyfoods Association statement.

“Chavarro’s study conflicts with the large body of U.S. government and National Institute of Health-sponsored human and primate research, in which controlled amounts of isoflavones from soy were fed and no effect on quantity, quality or motility of sperm were observed,” the trade group said.

Read all of Rutz’s columns on soy for the whole story:

Soy is making kids ‘gay’
The trouble with soy – part 2
The trouble with soy – part 3
The trouble with soy – part 4
The trouble with soy – part 5
The trouble with soy – part 6

Source


New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.

CHICAGO

November 17, 2008

This 2007 Study Fails To Reflect Current Economic Crisis

USDA reported today that 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are food insecure. The Study paints a stark picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. But Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization, warns that the actual number of Americans forced to skip meals and survive without adequate nutrition is even greater today, prompting a national appeal for help in feeding hungry men, women and children.

“It is important to note that the USDA numbers released today are 2007 figures and do not take into account the unprecedented economic crisis that our country is currently facing,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “While the numbers reported are tragic, our network typically experiences trends as direct service providers before they are officially reported.

We believe that this is just the beginning of a downward trend and we expect things to get worse before they get better.”

“We serve more than 200 food banks that provide food to the vast majority of food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency feeding centers across the country – more than 63,000 in total,” added Escarra. “These are faith-based organizations, community centers, mobile food pantries set up in parking lots, where more than four million people stand in line every week for just a few bags of groceries to help feed themselves and their families. While emergency food assistance is vital to helping people who have to make tough choices between food and other basic necessities, it’s often times barely enough to make ends meet. We see increases in the number of people in need at the end of the month when our clients have run out of food stamp benefit and spent their meager income on paying necessary bills.”

“Our food banks are calling us every day, telling us that demand for emergency food is higher than it has ever been in our history. They are serving a significant number of new clients – people who were once their donors, middle class workers who can no longer make ends meet, many of the half-million people who have lost their jobs in just the past two months as unemployment has climbed to 6.5 percent,” Escarra said.

Last spring, Feeding America conducted a research study to determine increased need. Across the board, food banks were witnessing an average increased need of nearly 20 percent. In many areas, the percentages were doubled over the previous timeframe in 2007.

“If the data we are reviewing today reflected food insecurity data from the last 12 months, it would be even more shocking,” said Escarra. “Unemployment rates and healthcare costs continue to soar, and there is not an end expected in near sight. The number of middle class working families seeking food is where we are seeing the most growth. We don’t expect the lines to get any shorter at local food pantries anytime soon, and we won’t know how bad it really is until the future USDA numbers is released next year.”

“Hungry Americans and food banks are desperately in need of relief from Congress in an economic recovery package. Food stamp benefits must be increased to enable low-income Americans to purchase adequate food which is a direct economic benefit to the economy. Additionally, food banks inventories are unable to keep pace with the skyrocketing demands for emergency food assistance. We urge Congress to allocate additional dollars for the purchase, storage and transportation of USDA commodities to ensure that our Network is able to continue feeding the millions of additional people in need right now as a result of a weakening economy.”

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks operate 63,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.

Source

Hunger Fact Sheet
Who We Are
America’s Second Harvest — The Nation’s Food Bank Network is now named Feeding America. We are the country’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, with a network of more than 200 regional member food banks serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Each year, we provide food to more than 25 million low-income Americans, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

The Feeding America network secures and distributes nearly 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. Our efforts support approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 70,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes.

Who We Help
The Feeding America Network provides emergency food assistance to more than 25 million Americans in need every year.
Ethnic Background of Clients

  • 40%are white
  • 38% are African American
  • 17% are Hispanic
  • 5% are American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • 0.5% are native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • 1.0% are Asian

Poverty

  • According to our most recent hunger study, 66% of all Feeding America client households have annual household incomes at or beneath the poverty line. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • 17.5% of all client households have annual incomes between 100% and 185% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • 6.2% have annual incomes of 186% of poverty or more. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1)
  • The number of people below the poverty threshold numbered 36.5 million in 2006, a rate of 12.3% of all Americans.  (U.S. Census Bureau,  Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006)
  • The average annual income in 2004 among client households served by the Feeding America Network was $11,210. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.4.1 )

Food Insecurity

  • An estimated 35.5 million Americans are food insecure; meaning their access to enough food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • 41.5% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network reported having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or heat within the previous 12 months. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • More than one-third (35%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • Nearly one-third (31.6%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
  • 5.9% of households with seniors (1.59 million households) were food insecure. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)

Children

  • Over 9 million children are estimated to be served by the Feeding America Network, over 2 million of which are ages 5 and under, representing nearly 13% of all children under age 18 in the United States and over 72% of all children in poverty. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N)
  • According to the USDA, an estimated 12.6 million children lived in food insecure households in 2006.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, particularly for low-income children. 62% of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program, but only 13% participated in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1 )
  • 51% of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1)
  • Nearly 41% of emergency food providers in the Feeding America Network reported “many more children in the summer” being served by their programs. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 10.9.1)
  • Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families. In 2002, over half of the nonelderly families that accessed a food pantry at least once during the year had children under the age of 18. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)

Seniors

  • The Feeding America Network serves nearly 3 million seniors age 65 and over each year, 2 out of every 10 households served by our network contains at least one member age 65 and over (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N).
  • 83.3% of all households with seniors served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.3.5)
  • 30.8% of client households with seniors had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities and heating fuel. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
  • Among client households with seniors, nearly 30% have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
  • Among client households with at least one senior member, 27.4% are served at program sites located in center cities, 25% are served at program sites located in suburban areas, and 18.1% are served at program sites located in rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.3)

Working Poor

  • Nearly half of all non-elderly low-income families that used a food pantry in 2001 consisted of working families with children. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)
  • 36% of client households served by the Feeding America Network include at least one employed adult. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.7.1)
  • The average monthly income of client households in 2005 was $860, or 75% of the federal poverty level. Overall, clients indicated that a job was the main source of income for their households for the previous month. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.8.2.1 and Table 5.8.3.1)
  • 66% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below the federal poverty line for 2004.
  • 46% of client’s households do not have access to a working car. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.9.2.1)

Rural Hunger

  • 42.6% of adult clients served by programs in the Feeding America Network reside in suburban or rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.2.1)
  • 28.5% of client households served in nonmetropolitan areas reported that their children often or sometimes did not eat enough during the past year because there was not enough money to buy food. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.1)
  • 12% of rural households are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated 2.3 million households.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • 17.5% of all rural households with children are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated over 1 million children.  (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
  • According to ERS, more than one out of every three persons living in nonmetro families that are headed by a female is poor. The highest poverty rate by type of family is for female-headed, nonmetro families. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)
  • Counties with disproportionately high rates of persistent poverty are often rural, with 340 of 386 persistent poverty counties primarily rural. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)

Food Facts
The Feeding America Network of over 200 food banks and food rescue organizations distributed nearly 2 billions pounds of food and grocery products in 2005.

  • 529 million pounds from national product donors
  • 478 million pounds from US Government programs
  • 904 million pounds from local product donors
  • 206 million pounds from purchase programs

The USDA estimates 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year in the United States.

Source

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 9:34 pm  Comments Off on New USDA Statistics Highlight Growing Hunger Crisis in the U.S.  
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Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

From Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders)

November 13 2008

Since 1998, civilians in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been caught in the middle of a battle for control between local and foreign militias, the Congolese army, and UN forces. In late 2007, new waves of fighting caused more massive displacements of an already weakened population.

In August 2008, the situation became even more severe with heavy, sustained fighting. The population has had to flee again, without adequate shelter, water, medical care, or food, and under the continuous threat of insecurity. MSF is running projects throughout North Kivu province, providing emergency medical assistance, as well as primary and secondary health care, water and sanitation assistance, and distribution of essential items such as shelter materials and blankets.

DRC: MSF Continues to Treat Displaced People in North Kivu

November 13, 2008

MSF remains very concerned about the many people still fleeing the ongoing violence. Many displaced and local residents are in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare, and basic items such as blankets and shelter materials.

Displaced People in Congo Remain in Urgent Need of Assistance

November 10, 2008

MSF teams are continuing to work in Goma and in other towns and villages in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization remains very concerned about the many people still on the move after fleeing recent fighting. While some displaced people are returning to their places of origin around North Kivu, many of the displaced and local residents continue to be in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare and basic items like blankets and shelter materials.

There are many more reports at the site.

Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders) do wonderful work.

These are men and women with a lot of courage and hearts of gold. They risk their lives to help others. What they do is incredible.

They work in about 60 countries around the world, helping those in need. Their time, dedication and love makes a difference in the lives of many.

This is a small glimpse into the help they provide to those who are suffering in dire need.

Médecins sans Frontière

How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 3:06 am  Comments Off on Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC  
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Obama’s Afghan War Plans May Run Into Weary Public, Deficits

November 11 2008

Staff Sergeant Brendan Kearns went through urban combat training six months ago with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, preparing for a planned return to Iraq. In January, his brigade is heading to Afghanistan instead.

While Iraq has long dominated headlines, Afghanistan will demand more immediate attention, as President-elect Barack Obama becomes the first commander-in-chief since Richard M. Nixon in 1969 to take charge during wartime.

Intensifying violence is ramping up U.S. involvement, costing money and lives when America faces a record budget deficit and the public is weary of war. Backing off may allow al-Qaeda and the Taliban to return to power.

“The most pressing problem for the next president will be the Afghan-Pakistan conundrum,” says retired Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl, lead author of the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

“A resurgent Taliban threatens stability and perhaps survival of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a nightmare scenario, and we may have reached a tipping point where the Taliban is winning.”

The Bush administration is reviewing its military and humanitarian strategy in Afghanistan and will offer recommendations to Obama’s transition team before he takes office Jan. 20.

Refocus Attention

On the campaign trail, the Illinois senator vowed to refocus attention there while pulling out most of the 152,000 troops in Iraq within 16 months. That’s becoming increasingly possible as deadly attacks have dropped dramatically since 2007, when President George W. Bush sent 30,000 additional U.S. troops.

The surge — along with the so-called Sunni awakening, in which tribes turned against al-Qaeda and formed U.S.-funded, government-allied militias — is credited with stabilizing the country. The Iraqi and U.S. governments have tentatively agreed on a phased withdrawal of American combat forces by 2011, subject to conditions.

Obama, 47, has said a “responsible drawdown” from Iraq would allow the U.S. to upgrade military equipment, pay for veterans’ care and redirect expenditures — which currently top $10 billion a month — to Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be operating along the porous border with Pakistan.

Funding Decisions

Deciding what the U.S. can afford to spend is complicated by the $700 billion the Treasury is using to rescue the financial system, which may push the federal budget deficit next year to more than $1 trillion, following a record $455 billion this year.

“I know there’s a lot of economic problems in the U.S.,” says Kearns, 40, who’s based at Fort Drum, New York, and has served in both wars. “But the military at this point doesn’t need its budgets cut. With seven years of war, there’s a lot of wear and tear on equipment and personnel.”

Meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, with a reconstituted and emboldened Taliban mounting more attacks on American forces. Neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan — threatened by domestic extremists, assassination attempts and a financial crisis — hasn’t been able to control border security in its autonomous tribal areas where militants take shelter.

General David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has asked for 20,000 more American troops next year; the 3,500-person 3rd Brigade Combat Team deploying in January from Fort Drum will be the tip of that spear.

Opium Production

The view of U.S., European and United Nations officials is that more foreign soldiers won’t be enough to save Afghanistan. The country needs a sustained international effort to shrink opium production, build roads and establish basic utilities including running water and electricity. The Afghan government, widely criticized as weak, corrupt and inefficient, needs to better deliver services and secure its territory.

Obama will face a balancing act with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which commands a force in Afghanistan that uses 13,000 of the 31,000 American troops now in the country. European leaders have made clear they aren’t keen on sending more soldiers into a widening war.

Still, there’s no doubt Afghanistan needs better security. In Iraq, there are 800,000 local, U.S. and international forces. In Afghanistan, there are at most 210,000 combined troops, and many of the Afghans lack training and equipment.

Clear, Hold, Build

“Classic counterinsurgency strategy is `Clear, Hold and Build’: You clear enemy forces, you hold the area, generally with the host nation’s security forces, and then you build a better society,” Nagl says. “In Afghanistan we have not had enough forces to hold and have not put proper emphasis on build. We’ve cleared the same towns over and over and over.”

Every time U.S. forces leave a village they have cleared without Afghan soldiers to take their place, “the Taliban comes back and they shoot people who worked with us in the head,” he says. “After the second or third time that happens, there aren’t enough people left to work with us.”

Analysts say the best solution would be to greatly expand the Afghan army, supported by U.S. military advisers, and enlist militias into something like the “Sons of Iraq,” which turned enemy forces into associates.

What worked in Iraq may not work in Afghanistan, however, where the terrain is rougher, the country poorer, corruption more visible and the insurgency more complicated because of hundreds of tribes — many living in autonomous territories along the Pakistan border.

Military Strikes

Obama has consistently said that if Pakistan fails to act against militants on its soil, he would support unilateral military strikes — something the Bush administration has already begun. In the past two months, Pakistan has accused the U.S. of launching 15 missile strikes in the Waziristan tribal area along its Afghan border, and late last month Islamabad lodged a formal protest.

Soldiers at Fort Drum say if they had the ear of the president-elect, they would tell him that while military involvement in Afghanistan is necessary, it isn’t sufficient.

“We need to focus on the basics: infrastructure, food, building roads and security,” says Captain Matthew Burnette, 29, who commands a Howitzer unit headed back to Afghanistan as Obama takes office. “If the three villages you’re working in are happy, they talk to each other, they talk to us, and the Taliban can’t take hold again.”

Source

JALALABAD, Afghanistan

February 15, 2001

U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan — once the world’s largest producer — since banning poppy cultivation last summer.

A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation’s largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year.

“We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields,” said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier — a sea of blood-red poppies.

A State Department official said Thursday all the information the United States has received so far indicates the poppy crop had decreased, but he did not believe it was eliminated.

Last year, Afghanistan produced nearly 4,000 tons of opium, about 75 percent of the world’s supply, U.N. officials said. Opium — the milky substance drained from the poppy plant — is converted into heroin and sold in Europe and North America. The 1999 output was a world record for opium production, the United Nations said — more than all other countries combined, including the “Golden Triangle,” where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s supreme leader, banned poppy growing before the November planting season and augmented it with a religious edict making it contrary to the tenets of Islam.

The Taliban, which has imposed a strict brand of Islam in the 95 percent of Afghanistan it controls, has set fire to heroin laboratories and jailed farmers until they agreed to destroy their poppy crops.

The U.N. surveyors, who completed their search this week, crisscrossed Helmand, Kandahar, Urzgan and Nangarhar provinces and parts of two others — areas responsible for 86 percent of the opium produced in Afghanistan last year, Frahi said in an interview Wednesday. They covered 80 percent of the land in those provinces that last year had been awash in poppies.

This year they found poppies growing on barely an acre here and there, Frahi said. The rest — about 175,000 acres — was clean.

“We have to look at the situation with careful optimism,” said Sandro Tucci of the U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna, Austria.

He said indications are that no poppies were planted this season and that, as a result, there hasn’t been any production of opium — but that officials would keep checking.

The State Department counternarcotics official said the department would make its own estimate of the poppy crop. Information received so far suggests there will be a decrease, but how much is not yet clear, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We do not think by any stretch of the imagination that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has been eliminated. But we, like the rest of the world, welcome positive news.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment.

No U.S. government official can enter Afghanistan because of security concerns stemming from the presence of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Poppies are harvested in March and April, which is why the survey was done now. Tucci said it would have been impossible for the poppies to have been harvested already.

The areas searched by the U.N. surveyors are the most fertile lands under Taliban control. Other areas, though they are somewhat fertile, have not traditionally been poppy growing areas and farmers are struggling to raise any crops at all because of severe drought. The rest of the land held by the Taliban is mountainous or desert, where poppies could not grow.

Karim Rahimi, the U.N. drug control liaison in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, said farmers were growing wheat or onions in fields where they once grew poppies.

“It is amazing, really, when you see the fields that last year were filled with poppies and this year there is wheat,” he said.

The Taliban enforced the ban by threatening to arrest village elders and mullahs who allowed poppies to be grown. Taliban soldiers patrolled in trucks armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. About 1,000 people in Nangarhar who tried to defy the ban were arrested and jailed until they agreed to destroy their crops.

Signs throughout Nangarhar warn against drug production and use, some calling it an “illicit phenomenon.” Another reads: “Be drug free, be happy.”

Last year, poppies grew on 12,600 acres of land in Nangarhar province. According to the U.N. survey, poppies were planted on only 17 acres there this season and all were destroyed by the Taliban.

“The Taliban have done their work very seriously,” Frahi said.

But the ban has badly hurt farmers in one of the world’s poorest countries, shattered by two decades of war and devastated by drought.

Ahmed Rehman, who shares less than three acres in Nangarhar with his three brothers, said the opium he produced last year on part of the land brought him $1,100.

This year, he says, he will be lucky to get $300 for the onions and cattle feed he planted on the entire parcel.

“Life is very bad for me this year,” he said. “Last year I was able to buy meat and wheat and now this year there is nothing.”

But Rehman said he never considered defying the ban.

“The Taliban were patrolling all the time. Of course I was afraid. I did not want to go to jail and lose my freedom and my dignity,” he said, gesturing with dirt-caked hands.

Shams-ul-Haq Sayed, an officer of the Taliban drug control office in Jalalabad, said farmers need international aid.

“This year was the most important for us because growing poppies was part of their culture, and the first years are always the most difficult,” he said.

Tucci said discussions are under way on how to help the farmers.

Western diplomats in Pakistan have suggested the Taliban is simply trying to drive up the price of opium they have stockpiled. The State Department official also said Afghanistan could do more by destroying drug stockpiles and heroin labs and arresting producers and traffickers.

Frahi dismissed that as “nonsense” and said it is drug traffickers and shopkeepers who have stockpiles. Two pounds of opium worth $35 last year are now worth as much as $360, he said.

Mullah Amir Mohammed Haqqani, the Taliban’s top drug official in Nangarhar, said the ban would remain regardless of whether the Taliban received aid or international recognition.

“It is our decree that there will be no poppy cultivation. It is banned forever in this country,” he said. “Whether we get assistance or not, poppy growing will never be allowed again in our country.

Source

Caspian Region 1993 The Pipeline Debate

The Caspian Sea shelf is considered one of the largest sources of petroleum outside the Persian Gulf and Russia.


September 18, 2001

US ‘planned attack on Taleban’  In July 2001 well before 9/11

The wider objective was to oust the Taleban

By George Arney A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week’s attacks.

Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. Mr Naik said US officials told him of the plan at a UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan which took place in Berlin.

Mr Naik told the BBC that at the meeting the US representatives told him that unless Bin Laden was handed over swiftly America would take military action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar.

The wider objective, according to Mr Naik, would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place – possibly under the leadership of the former Afghan King Zahir Shah.

Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place. He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.

Mr Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.

He said that he was in no doubt that after the World Trade Center bombings this pre-existing US plan had been built upon and would be implemented within two or three weeks.

And he said it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if Bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taleban.


May 13, 2002,

Afghanistan plans gas pipeline

The pipeline is Afghanistan’s biggest foreign investment project

Afghanistan hopes to strike a deal later this month to build a $2bn pipeline through the country to take gas from energy-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India.

Afghan interim ruler Hamid Karzai is to hold talks with his Pakistani and Turkmenistan counterparts later this month on Afghanistan’s biggest foreign investment project, said Mohammad Alim Razim, minister for Mines and Industries told Reuters.

“The work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck at the coming summit,” Mr Razim said.

The construction of the 850-kilometre pipeline had been previously discussed between Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime, US oil company Unocal and Bridas of Argentina.

The project was abandoned after the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1999.

US company preferred

Mr Razim said US energy company Unocal was the “lead company” among those that would build the pipeline, which would bring 30bn cubic meters of Turkmen gas to market annually.

Unocal – which led a consortium of companies from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Japan and South Korea – has maintained the project is both economically and technically feasible once Afghan stability was secured.

“Unocal is not involved in any projects (including pipelines) in Afghanistan, nor do we have any plans to become involved, nor are we discussing any such projects,” a spokesman told BBC News Online.

The US company formally withdrew from the consortium in 1998.

“The Afghan side assures all sides about the security of the pipeline and will take all responsibilities for it,” Mr Razim said.

Reconstructing

Afghanistan plans to build a road linking Turkmenistan with Pakistan parallel to the pipeline, to supply nearby villages with gas, and also to pump Afghan gas for export, Mr Razim said.

The government would also earn transit fees from the export of gas and oil and hoped to take over ownership of the pipeline after 30 years, he said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been surveying routes for transferring local gas from northern Afghan areas to Kabul, and to iron ore mines at the Haji Gak pass further west.

“ADB will announce its conclusion soon,” Mr Razim said.

The pipeline is expected to be built with funds from donor countries for the reconstruction of Afghanistan as well as ADB loans, he said.


May 30 2002,

Afghan pipeline given go-ahead

The leaders hope for future oil profits

The leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan have agreed to construct a $2bn pipeline to bring gas from Central Asia to the sub-continent.

The project was abandoned in 1998 when a consortium led by US energy company Unocal withdrew from the project over fears of being seen to support Afghanistan’s then Taliban government. The President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Nayazov, the chairman of Afghanistan’s interim administration Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf signed a memorandum of understanding in Islamabad on Thursday.

President Musharraf said the 1,500km pipeline would run from Turkmenistan’s Daulatabad gas fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar.

The Pakistani leader said once the project is completed, Central Asia’s hydrocarbon resources would be available to the international market, including East Asian and other far eastern countries.

Pakistan has plans to build a liquid-gas plant at the Gwadar port for export purposes.

Call for interest

The three countries have agreed to invite international tenders and guarantee funding before launching the project.

Unocal has repeatedly denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan despite having conducted the original feasibility study to build the pipeline.

There is also a question mark over stability in Afghanistan, but interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said peace was prevailing all over the country.

Afghan officials believe the pipeline could yield significant revenues for the impoverished country in the form of transit fees.

The pipeline could eventually supply gas to India.

President Musharraf also said he was committed to a proposed gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India as it was in his country’s economic interest.

Source

Timeline on Afghanistan

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 10:14 am  Comments Off on Obama’s Afghan War Plans May Run Into Weary Public, Deficits  
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Under Bush Administration were you Better Off?

Probably Not

Since Bush took office, workers’ paychecks have stagnated and the cost of energy and food has gone way up—as have corporate profits.

November 1 2008

By Ellen Gibson
“Are you better off?” It’s a question the candidate of the challenging party asks during each Presidential campaign. The economy, of course, is the No. 1 issue this election, and that question has been raised in cities, suburbs, and small towns across the country. With the recent stock market meltdown and the collateral damage to 401(k) plans, many voters are indeed poorer. But in terms of real wages and the cost of consumer goods, are we truly worse off? For most Americans, the answer is, sadly, yes.

On Jan. 22, 2001, when President George W. Bush took over the White House, the Nasdaq was in the midst of a post-dot-com freefall. Bush had the bad luck of taking office just before the economy went into a recession that March. But after a mini downturn, the American economy experienced a period of recovery and expansion, with the gross domestic product growing at a steady clip and productivity surging 22%. That measure of prosperity, however, hasn’t translated into gains for most families.

In 2000 the median U.S. household income was $50,557 (adjusted for inflation), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Seven years later, the median income fell to $50,233. “That might not sound too bad,” says Edward Wolff, professor of economics at New York University, “but normally, median income increases. That’s not good news for the middle class.” Consider that the median household income would be almost $64,000 had paychecks kept pace with the GDP.
Overblown Claims?
While workers’ paychecks have stagnated, corporate profits jumped an average of 10.8% per year, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. “The fact that middle-income households ended up below where they were in 2000 despite strong productivity growth—that’s the heart of the problem,” says Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. “It’s one thing if you’re looking at a period like now, when the macroeconomy is dysfunctional, but for most of this decade the economy has been pumping along.” However, economists at the conservative American Enterprise Institute counter that claims of income stagnation are overblown, pointing out, for example, that household income data does not take into account total compensation, including companies’ burgeoning contributions to employee health insurance.

Even though inflation has not been severe for most of the decade, the cost of living has outpaced wages. The consumer price index has risen by 25% since January 2001, while core inflation jumped 18%. But the core consumer price index can be deceptive because it excludes food and energy. Once, after reporting that core inflation had been relatively tame that quarter, Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein came back to the office to find an irate e-mail: “Hey, dummy, what the hell do you think we spend our money on?” The point was taken: When energy and food skyrocket, families feel it.

And skyrocket they have. In early 2001 you could fill your car with regular gas for $1.47 a gallon. But on Oct. 24, three months after regular unleaded peaked at $4.11 a gallon, the average cost was leveling off around $2.78, according to the AAA online Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Grocery store sticker shock has been almost as acute. Take, for example, the price of a dozen eggs, which has risen 97% since 2001, from a nationwide average of $1.01 to $1.99. “You could look at inflation and think it hasn’t been that much of a problem, but in fact, if you look at the components of the middle-income consumption basket—tuition, housing, childcare, gas, food—all of those have been rising a lot more quickly,” says Bernstein.
Retirees Are Really Feeling It
There are consumer goods that have come down in price. And some economists don’t buy the argument that families are being hit where it hurts most. “People are more attuned to price increases than declines, so their perceptions are biased,” says Wolff. He points out that the price of goods such as toys and clothing have remained fairly stable because we have benefited from inexpensive imports. Electronics have come down, too, especially when adjusted for advances in technology. In 2001 the base model of Apple’s iBook, with its paltry 500MHz chip and 10GB hard drive, sold for $1,499. Today, the basic white 13-inch MacBook laptop will run you $999 for a 2.1 GHz chip and 120GB drive. That’s $500 less for nearly four times the speed and 12 times the storage capacity.

For consumers, there’s no argument over the impact of the current economic crisis. They’re feeling it, especially retirees. Take Patricia Wehrs, a Washington State resident who retired from her federal government job in 2000. She and her husband were all set for a comfortable, though modest, retirement. Then their retirement fund started losing money every month, while the cost of living crept up. “Our basic bills—electric, telephone, water, and cable—went up, in some cases 90%, over the past two years. I’ve kept the food bills under control with a budget and a diet,” jokes Wehrs. “However, fuel costs have drained any extra money, so no more theater, no dinners out, and smaller gifts to the grandchildren for special occasions.”
Source

THE BUSH LEGACY
Bad policies and a lack thereof
November 1, 2008

Long before the credit crisis that almost buried Wall Street and forced the U.S. government to effectively nationalize a chunk of the American financial system, President George W. Bush had shown himself to be a dismal caretaker of his country’s economic and fiscal well-being.

Then the housing bubble exploded, the value of complex, mortgage-related securities plummeted and credit markets froze solid. The ensuing collapse of some of the biggest and best-known names in banking, the controversial bailouts and the serious slowdown that has reached every corner of the globe will always colour the way economic historians evaluate Mr. Bush’s presidency.

Much like President Herbert Hoover in the Great Depression, Mr. Bush’s main contribution to the crisis was his failure to recognize its dimensions until irreparable damage had been inflicted.

His administration’s belated move to flood the financial system with credit and capital and to prop up ailing institutions may well prove the correct response. But it will inevitably worsen the dire fiscal situation that will face Barack Obama or John McCain, one that Mr. Bush’s misguided policies caused in the first place.

President Bush was spending like a Texas oilman on a Las Vegas gambling spree long before emergency rebates and massive bailouts became administration policy. In eight years, a supposedly conservative president made big government considerably bigger and more intrusive, and destroyed years of hard work by the Clinton administration to balance the books. His reckless combination of heavy tax cuts – even as the costs of the Iraq war climbed into the stratosphere – and significantly higher spending has left the government so awash in red ink that his successor has little hope of resurrecting even a modest surplus and still keeping the sputtering economy from crashing. The record budget deficit of $454.8-billion (U.S.) in the latest fiscal year pales in comparison to cautious forecasts of about $750-billion for this year. A figure as high as $1.6-trillion has been kicked around.

Long-term deficits are not benign. They raise the cost of capital, restrict growth and, in normal times, undermine the currency. Panicky investors have recently flocked to the U.S. dollar as a rare safe harbour in a wide sea of uncertainty. But people will soon reassess the greenback’s long-term future, in light of the sky-high debt and severe structural problems left untouched or worsened by Mr. Bush’s policies or lack of them. The net result will be bad for the United States, and also for Canada and for the global economy, which still depend on a buoyant U.S. market. That, too, is part of the Bush legacy.

The Bush administration is not directly responsible for the current mess. Cheap credit, subprime mortgages, greedy investment bankers and opaque derivatives trading on a massive scale were already features of the landscape before Mr. Bush became president. But his strenuous efforts, along with those of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, to play down the potentially devastating consequences of the bursting credit bubble inspired a dangerous level of complacency.

That brings us to the ignominious end of Mr. Bush’s economic management. But what about the beginning?

It is not hard to pinpoint where and how he went off the fiscal rails. He squeaked into office in 2000 on the promise of deep income-tax cuts, which seemed the right medicine when the Internet stock bubble was bursting and the U.S. economy was showing serious signs of stress after a long period of growth. But then came 9/11 and the enormous security and military expenditures that followed. The war in Iraq cost billions, and the peace has proved many times more expensive. The final tally will be in the trillions.

Yet, even as the U.S. economy pulled out of the doldrums, Mr. Bush stubbornly refused to abandon the low-tax, big-spend policies that were weakening public finances. What’s worse, after 9/11, he narrowed his focus dramatically, dropping ambitious plans to reform Social Security and allowing the United States to become even more dependent on foreign capital and foreign oil.

When government borrowing is rocketing skyward to pay for military adventures, that is not the time for unaffordable tax cuts, increased subsidies or a major expansion in Medicare for which there was no money.

Fortunately, Mr. Bush never proceeded with his idea to have Americans take responsibility for managing their own assets set aside for retirement. Had he succeeded in pushing through this privatization, the cost to the public purse could have been as high as $2-trillion. And the damage to Americans’ pension prospects after the credit meltdown and stock market plunge would have been incalculable.

But that does not mean the U.S. social safety net should have been left to slowly unravel. His successor is now saddled with that problem, as well as a raft of other costly domestic issues ignored or mismanaged by the current administration. Raising the necessary capital may well require scaling back the “temporary” Bush income-tax cuts, which are due to expire by 2010, imposing a national sales tax along the lines of the GST and even a gasoline tax. None would be popular. But there may be little choice.

Any Canadian leader who left people so vulnerable to future financial risk would have been run out of politics after a single term, regardless of the shape of the economy.

For three-quarters of Mr. Bush’s time in office, the U.S. economy was quite robust, which only underlines the poverty of his policies. Instead of taking advantage of the windfall revenues to cap the rising deficit, pay down debt, repair crumbling infrastructure and reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil, he earmarked large expenditures to cover the spiralling costs of his domestic security agenda and the disastrous war. He also proffered more tax breaks and higher subsidies to favoured industries, including oil and agriculture, which saw its trade-distorting federal handouts double between 2002 and 2005.

It was an opportunity squandered, and it will haunt U.S. policy-makers for years to come.

Today, the steady drumbeat of economic success is a distant memory. President Bush is not to blame for that. But the most profligate leader in U.S. history certainly bears a large share of responsibility for the dangerous holes in the leaky ship of state left for his successor to patch.

Source

Then there is the 11 trillion dollar debt he has run up.

Of course we also must remember the wars he has started as well.

Lest we forget

A chronology of how the Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that said its case for war was weak

January 29, 2004

Former weapons inspector David Kay now says Iraq probably did not have WMD before the war, a major blow to the Bush Administration which used the WMD argument as the rationale for war. Unfortunately, Kay and the Administration are now attempting to shift the blame for misleading America onto the intelligence community. But a review of the facts shows the intelligence community repeatedly warned the Bush Administration about the weakness of its case, but was circumvented, overruled, and ignored. The following is year-by-year timeline of those warnings.

In 2001 and before, intelligence agencies noted that Saddam Hussein was effectively contained after the Gulf War. In fact, former weapons inspector David Kay now admits that the previous policy of containment – including the 1998 bombing of Iraq – destroyed any remaining infrastructure of potential WMD programs.

OCTOBER 8, 1997 – IAEA SAYS IRAQ FREE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: “As reported in detail in the progress report dated 8 October 1997�?and based on all credible information available to date, the IAEA’s verification activities in Iraq, have resulted in the evolution of a technically coherent picture of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear programme. These verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its programme objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material. Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for t he production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.” [Source: IAEA Report, 10/8/98]

FEBRUARY 23 & 24, 2001 – COLIN POWELL SAYS IRAQ IS CONTAINED: “I think we ought to declare [the containment policy] a success. We have kept him contained, kept him in his box.” He added Saddam “is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors” and that “he threatens not the United States.” [Source: State Department, 2/23/01 and 2/24/01]

SEPTEMBER 16, 2001 – CHENEY ACKNOWLEDGES IRAQ IS CONTAINED: Vice President Dick Cheney said that “Saddam Hussein is bottled up” – a confirmation of the intelligence he had received. [Source: Meet the Press, 9/16/2001]

SEPTEMBER 2001 – WHITE HOUSE CREATES OFFICE TO CIRCUMVENT INTEL AGENCIES: The Pentagon creates the Office of Special Plans “in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true-that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States�?The rising influence of the Office of Special Plans was accompanied by a decline in the influence of the c=I.A. and the D.I.A. bringing about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community.” The office, hand-picked by the Administration, specifically “cherry-picked intelligence that supported its pre-existing position and ignoring all the rest” while officials deliberately “bypassed the government’s customary procedures for vetting intelligence.” [Sources: New Yorker, 5/12/03; Atlantic Monthly, 1/04; New Yorker, 10/20/03]

Throughout 2002, the CIA, DIA, Department of Energy and United Nations all warned the Bush Administration that its selective use of intelligence was painting a weak WMD case. Those warnings were repeatedly ignored.

JANUARY, 2002 – TENET DOES NOT MENTION IRAQ IN NUCLEAR THREAT REPORT: “In CIA Director George Tenet’s January 2002 review of global weapons-technology proliferation, he did not even mention a nuclear threat from Iraq, though he did warn of one from North Korea.” [Source: The New Republic, 6/30/03]

FEBRUARY 6, 2002 – CIA SAYS IRAQ HAS NOT PROVIDED WMD TO TERRORISTS: “The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups, according to several American intelligence officials.” [Source: NY Times, 2/6/02]

APRIL 15, 2002 – WOLFOWITZ ANGERED AT CIA FOR NOT UNDERMINING U.N. REPORT: After receiving a CIA report that concluded that Hans Blix had conducted inspections of Iraq’s declared nuclear power plants “fully within the parameters he could operate” when Blix was head of the international agency responsible for these inspections prior to the Gulf War, a report indicated that “Wolfowitz ‘hit the ceiling’ because the CIA failed to provide sufficient ammunition to undermine Blix and, by association, the new U.N. weapons inspection program.” [Source: W. Post, 4/15/02]

SUMMER, 2002 – CIA WARNINGS TO WHITE HOUSE EXPOSED: “In the late summer of 2002, Sen. Graham had requested from Tenet an analysis of the Iraqi threat. According to knowledgeable sources, he received a 25-page classified response reflecting the balanced view that had prevailed earlier among the intelligence agencies–noting, for example, that evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program or a link to Al Qaeda was inconclusive. Early that September, the committee also received the DIA’s classified analysis, which reflected the same cautious assessments. But committee members became worried when, midway through the month, they received a new CIA analysis of the threat that highlighted the Bush administration’s claims and consigned skepticism to footnotes.” [Source: The New Republic, 6/30/03]

SEPTEMBER, 2002 – DIA TELLS WHITE HOUSE NO EVIDENCE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS: “An unclassified excerpt of a 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency study on Iraq’s chemical warfare program in which it stated that there is ‘no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has – or will – establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities.’” The report also said, “A substantial amount of Iraq’s chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) actions.” [Source: Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 6/13/03; DIA report, 2002]

SEPTEMBER 20, 2002 – DEPT. OF ENERGY TELLS WHITE HOUSE OF NUKE DOUBTS: “Doubts about the quality of some of the evidence that the United States is using to make its case that Iraq is trying to build a nuclear bomb emerged Thursday. While National Security Adviser Condi Rice stated on 9/8 that imported aluminum tubes ‘are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs’ a growing number of experts say that the administration has not presented convincing evidence that the tubes were intended for use in uranium enrichment rather than for artillery rocket tubes or other uses. Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright said he found significant disagreement among scientists within the Department of Energy and other agencies about the certainty of the evidence.” [Source: UPI, 9/20/02]

OCTOBER 2002 – CIA DIRECTLY WARNS WHITE HOUSE: “The CIA sent two memos to the White House in October voicing strong doubts about a claim President Bush made three months later in the State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa.” [Source: Washington Post, 7/23/03]

OCTOBER 2002 — STATE DEPT. WARNS WHITE HOUSE ON NUKE CHARGES: The State Department’s Intelligence and Research Department dissented from the conclusion in the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD capabilities that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. “The activities we have detected do not … add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquiring nuclear weapons.” INR accepted the judgment by Energy Department technical experts that aluminum tubes Iraq was seeking to acquire, which was the central basis for the conclusion that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, were ill-suited to build centrifuges for enriching uranium. [Source, Declassified Iraq NIE released 7/2003]

OCTOBER 2002 – AIR FORCE WARNS WHITE HOUSE: “The government organization most knowledgeable about the United States’ UAV program — the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center — had sharply disputed the notion that Iraq’s UAVs were being designed as attack weapons” – a WMD claim President Bush used in his October 7 speech on Iraqi WMD, just three days before the congressional vote authorizing the president to use force. [Source: Washington Post, 9/26/03]

Instead of listening to the repeated warnings from the intelligence community, intelligence officials say the White House instead pressured them to conform their reports to fit a pre-determined policy. Meanwhile, more evidence from international institutions poured in that the White House’s claims were not well-grounded.

LATE 2002-EARLY 2003 – CHENEY PRESSURES CIA TO CHANGE INTELLIGENCE: “Vice President Dick Cheney’s repeated trips to CIA headquarters in the run-up to the war for unusual, face-to-face sessions with intelligence analysts poring over Iraqi data. The pressure on the intelligence community to document the administration’s claims that the Iraqi regime had ties to al-Qaida and was pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity was ‘unremitting,’ said former CIA counterterrorism chief Vince Cannistraro, echoing several other intelligence veterans interviewed.” Additionally, CIA officials “charged that the hard-liners in the Defense Department and vice president’s office had ‘pressured’ agency analysts to paint a dire picture of Saddam’s capabilities and intentions.” [Sources: Dallas Morning News, 7/28/03; Newsweek, 7/28/03]

JANUARY, 2003 – STATE DEPT. INTEL BUREAU REITERATE WARNING TO POWELL: “The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), the State Department’s in-house analysis unit, and nuclear experts at the Department of Energy are understood to have explicitly warned Secretary of State Colin Powell during the preparation of his speech that the evidence was questionable. The Bureau reiterated to Mr. Powell during the preparation of his February speech that its analysts were not persuaded that the aluminum tubes the Administration was citing could be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium.” [Source: Financial Times, 7/30/03]

FEBRUARY 14, 2003 – UN WARNS WHITE HOUSE THAT NO WMD HAVE BEEN FOUND: “In their third progress report since U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed in November, inspectors told the council they had not found any weapons of mass destruction.” Weapons inspector Hans Blix told the U.N. Security Council they had been unable to find any WMD in Iraq and that more time was needed for inspections. [Source: CNN, 2/14/03]

FEBRUARY 15, 2003 – IAEA WARNS WHITE HOUSE NO NUCLEAR EVIDENCE: The head of the IAEA told the U.N. in February that “We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.” The IAEA examined “2,000 pages of documents seized Jan. 16 from an Iraqi scientist’s home — evidence, the Americans said, that the Iraqi regime was hiding government documents in private homes. The documents, including some marked classified, appear to be the scientist’s personal files.” However, “the documents, which contained information about the use of laser technology to enrich uranium, refer to activities and sites known to the IAEA and do not change the agency’s conclusions about Iraq’s laser enrichment program.” [Source: Wash. Post, 2/15/03]

FEBURARY 24, 2003 – CIA WARNS WHITE HOUSE ‘NO DIRECT EVIDENCE’ OF WMD: “A CIA report on proliferation released this week says the intelligence community has no ‘direct evidence’ that Iraq has succeeded in reconstituting its biological, chemical, nuclear or long-range missile programs in the two years since U.N. weapons inspectors left and U.S. planes bombed Iraqi facilities. ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs,’ said the agency in its semi-annual report on proliferation activities.” [NBC News, 2/24/03]

MARCH 7, 2003 – IAEA REITERATES TO WHITE HOUSE NO EVIDENCE OF NUKES: IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said nuclear experts have found “no indication” that Iraq has tried to import high-strength aluminum tubes or specialized ring magnets for centrifuge enrichment of uranium. For months, American officials had “cited Iraq’s importation of these tubes as evidence that Mr. Hussein’s scientists have been seeking to develop a nuclear capability.” ElBaradei also noted said “the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the [President Bush’s assertion] of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” When questioned about this on Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney simply said “Mr. ElBaradei is, frankly, wrong.” [Source: NY Times, 3/7/03: Meet the Press, 3/16/03]

MAY 30, 2003 – INTEL PROFESSIONALS ADMIT THEY WERE PRESSURED: “A growing number of U.S. national security professionals are accusing the Bush administration of slanting the facts and hijacking the $30 billion intelligence apparatus to justify its rush to war in Iraq . A key target is a four-person Pentagon team that reviewed material gathered by other intelligence outfits for any missed bits that might have tied Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to banned weapons or terrorist groups. This team, self-mockingly called the Cabal, ‘cherry-picked the intelligence stream’ in a bid to portray Iraq as an imminent threat, said Patrick Lang, a official at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The DIA was “exploited and abused and bypassed in the process of making the case for war in Iraq based on the presence of WMD,” or weapons of mass destruction, he said. Greg Thielmann, an intelligence official in the State Department, said it appeared to him that intelligence had been shaped ‘from the top down.'” [Reuters, 5/30/03 ]

JUNE 6, 2003 – INTELLIGENCE HISTORIAN SAYS INTEL WAS HYPED: “The CIA bowed to Bush administration pressure to hype the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs ahead of the U.S.-led war in Iraq , a leading national security historian concluded in a detailed study of the spy agency’s public pronouncements.” [Reuters, 6/6/03]

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Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 2:37 am  Comments Off on Under Bush Administration were you Better Off?  
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Iceland ‘working day and night’

October 14 2008

Iceland’s government is working “day and night” to solve the country’s financial crisis, Prime Minister Geir Haarde has told the BBC.

He said its priority was to get Iceland’s banking system working properly again following last week’s near-collapse.

The central bank has turned to its northern European neighbours for help in raising foreign currency.

Talks with Russia and the the IMF over possible loans continue.

“We need to make sure we have a functioning banking system – this is what we are working on day and night, ” Mr Haarde told the BBC’s Clive Myrie.

On the International Monetary Fund, which has sent a mission to evaluate the situation in Iceland, Mr Haarde said: “We have not decided whether or not we will apply for a loan, and they have not decided what conditions they will set if we do.”

Tuesday saw Iceland’s central bank use a swap facility to receive 200m euros ($273m; £156m) each from the central banks of Norway and Denmark.

The Nordic country’s stock exchange closed down 5.8% when trading resumed on Tuesday, five days after it was suspended.

UK savers

Iceland’s biggest banks were nationalised last week, and the central bank has imposed tight restrictions on the use of foreign currency at home and capped Icelanders’ credit card use overseas.

People can now only purchase foreign currency in Iceland if they have a valid overseas travel ticket.

Firms have to prove to the central bank that they want the money for essential foreign purchases such as food, fuel and medicine.

The difficulties in the Icelandic banking sector have also had a major impact on other European countries, as Iceland’s attractive interest rates had attracted a great many customers from overseas.

Local councils and other public bodies in the UK have about £1bn invested in Iceland, and hundreds of thousands of British savers have also been affected.

The UK Treasury is continuing to work with its Icelandic counterpart to ensure all its depositors get their money back as swiftly as possible. It has already said all British savers’ money is protected.

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Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 10:42 am  Comments Off on Iceland ‘working day and night’  
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