Sunday, December 06, 2015

PNN - Harvest Time

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups announced today that they will put Monsanto MON (NYSE), a US-based transnational corporation, on trial for crimes against nature and humanity, and ecocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016. The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, November 30 – December 11, in Paris

 Falling oxygen levels caused by global warming could be a greater threat to the survival of life on planet Earth than flooding, according to researchers from the University of Leicester published in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology. A study led by Sergei Petrovskii, Professor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, has shown that an increase in the water temperature of the world’s oceans of around six degrees Celsius – which some scientists predict could occur as soon as 2100 – could stop oxygen production by phytoplankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis. 

By Staff of Wikileaks - Today, Thursday, December 3, 10am EST, WikiLeaks releases new secret documents from the huge Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) which is being negotiated by the US, EU and 22 other countries that account for 2/3rds of global GDP. Coinciding with the ongoing climate talks in Paris, today's publication touches on issues of crucial relevance including the regulation of energy, industrial development, workers' rights and the natural environment. WikiLeaks is also publishing expert analyses of the documents. The Trade In Services Agreement is the largest trade treaty of its kind in history

Cruz on firing range he doesn't care if its not PC

By Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Throughout the United States, but primarily in the Great Plains and the West, a silent polluter is responsible for cancers, birth defects and many diseases including kidney and autoimmune diseases. Yet, most people living in close proximity to these polluters are aware of the danger. I am talking about the 15,000 abandoned Uranium Mines. Most of them are open pits that continue to emit radiation and clouds of radon gas. When it rains, radioactive and toxic heavy metals are washed into the aquifers and rivers. When it is dry, dust carrying radioactive and heavy metals blows across the land. In the heart of the US' agricultural belt, these radioactive and heavy metals enter our food supply. Animals breathe in the toxic dust or drink contaminated water. Metals are taken up by plants that are harvested for animal feed or human consumption

By Chloe Fox for The Huffington Post - The Supreme Court has indefinitely stopped Native Hawaiians from moving forward with aunique and controversial election that they are hoping to use to form their own government. The high court on Wednesday extended a temporary stay issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy on Friday, granting an injunction requested by a group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians challenging the election. The election would select delegates for a constitutional convention, and is seen as a critical first step toward self-governance for Native Hawaiians -- the only indigenous community in the country without an independent political structure

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet - Another explosive report of institutional racism by white police and prosecutors who willfully targeted black youths has emerged from one of the most remote regions of Alabama, the deep southeastern city of Dothan, where for years a handful of officers apparently planted drugs on hundreds of black youths and railroaded them into prison. The documentary trail of these arrests dating back to the late 1990s and a subsequent coverup by high-ranking county law enforcement officials was firstreported on Reporter Jon B. Carroll describes how a handful of powerful officers and prosecutors targeted the youths for several years:

Jon Stone for Independent - David Cameron has refused to apologise after branding MPs who oppose air strikes in Syria “terrorist sympathisers”. The Prime Minister faced repeated interventions from MPs during a House of Commons debate on military action demanding that he retract the attack. Mr Cameron reportedly last night told rebel Conservative MPs that they might be set to “walk through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers”. But today he did not acknowledge requests in parlaiment to withdraw the comments, even from pro-intervention MPs. 

Dozens of Florida cities and counties oppose a plan to give the state control over the oil and gas exploration process known as fracking.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported on Saturday that 20 counties and nearly 40 cities in Florida have passed regulations banning fracking. The cities and counties represent about 8 million people or 43 percent of the state's population.
Two Republican legislators, Rep. Ray Rodrigues of Estero and Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples, have proposed bills that would give the state authority to regulate oil and gas exploration, production, processing, storage and transportation.
Local leaders say the move wrongly takes away their right to regulate activities in their areas and that fracking could harm the environment and hurt Florida's tourism economy.
The Florida Association of Counties' general membership voted unanimously in November to oppose the legislation. The association also voted in favor of a moratorium on fracking until independent and comprehensive studies on fracking are completed.
"Whether you like fracking or don't like fracking, to have the county's powers usurped by the state is just the complete antithesis of local government," Wakulla County Commissioner Howard Kessler, who supported the Florida Association of Counties' proposals, told the newspaper.
Kessler said he's concerned about the impact hydraulic fracturing could have on the environment, public health and major industries like tourism and agriculture. The drilling technique involves the injection of mass amounts of water along with chemicals under great pressure to fracture underground rock formations and release oil and gas.
David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said Florida law is fairly clear that oil and gas should be regulated by the state. And he said differences between the industry and cities and counties over fracking regulations can be resolved. But Mica said some fracking opponents want no oil or gas activity in Florida.
"I understand that point of view," he said. "It's an extremist point of view because Florida has a long history and a positive history of exploring for and producing oil and gas. We've done it since the '40s and we need to do it in the future. And we need to do it in ways that are protective of Florida's environment."
Fracking is already legal in Florida, though it's believed to have occurred only once, in Collier County. The proposed legislation would regulate the practice, establish fines for violations and pay for a study of any hazards or risks it might pose.
Last year, Rodrigues and Richter sponsored similar bills in the House and Senate. But they died when the regular session imploded over health-care differences between the chambers. The re-filed House bill passed its first committee stop earlier this month.

Home Depot to phase out bee-killing pesticides
Coalition presses for all retailers to make commitment to protect bees

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Home Depot (NYSE: HD), the world's largest home-improvement chain, has  announced that it has removed neonicotinoid pesticides, a leading driver of global bee declines, from 80 percent of its flowering plants and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018. This announcement follows an ongoing campaign and  letter by Friends of the Earth and allies urging Home Depot to stop selling plants treated with neonicotinoids and remove neonic pesticides from store shelves. 

"Home Depot's progress in removing neonics shows it is listening to consumer concerns and to the growing body of science telling us we need to move away from bee-toxic pesticides," said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth U.S. "However, we know that Home Depot and other retailers can do even more to address the bee crisis. Along with allies, we will continue to challenge retailers to engage in a race to the top to move bee-toxic pesticides off their shelves and out of garden plants as soon as possible. Bees are the canary in the coal mine for our food system and everyone, including the business community, must act quickly to protect them."

A study released by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute, Gardeners Beware 2014, showed that 51 percent of garden plants purchased at Lowe's (NYSE: LOW), Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contained neonicotinoid pesticides at levels that could harm or even kill bees. Following the release of this report, Home Depot announced it would require its suppliers to label all plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm and kill bees, by the fourth quarter of 2014. It also committed to "find alternative insecticides for protecting live goods and bees."

Friends of the Earth and allies have called on Home Depot to strengthen its existing commitments to protecting bees and other pollinators and nursery workers by immediately disclosing the progress it has made to date in phasing out neonicotinoid pesticides in all of its plants and off-the-shelf products. The coalition also called on the retailer to make a public commitment to complete its phase-out of neonicotinoids in all plants and off-the-shelf products, while transitioning to least-toxic alternatives that are benign to human health and the environment, by December 2016.

"Home Depot's public commitment will better position the company to meet the demands of an increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer base. And, it sends an important market signal that restricting the use of bee-harming pesticides is essential to stemming chronic bee declines," said Susan Baker, Vice President of Trillium Asset Management. Trillium and partners in the Investor Environmental Health Network, Domini Social Investments and the Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge, have been in active dialogue with management on this issue.

"Home Depot's progress in removing neonicotinoids from the majority of its flowering plants shows how fast a corporation can move when it needs to respond to consumer pressure and science," said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO,  Friends of the Earth Canada."We expect all garden retailers, big and small, to be specifying right now to their suppliers to stop use of neonics for 2016 flowering plants."

"We welcome Home Depot's announcement that it has removed 80% of bee-killing pesticides from its plants. Together, over 750,000 SumOfUs members told Home Depot to stand up for the bees, and together we will be watching closely to make sure that Home Depot phases out these bee-killing pesticides as quickly as possible," said Angus Wong, campaigner, SumOfUs.  

"It's important that retailers like Home Depot begin to make the switch towards safer products for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.  By phasing out neonicotinoid products, Home Depot is helping consumers break away from a dependency on the use of toxic pesticides in their homes and gardens," said Jay Feldman, executive director,  Beyond Pesticides.

In the past year, more than thirty nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers have taken steps to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from their stores. A growing body of scientific evidence has continued to mount that neonicotinoids are a major contributor to both wild bee and honey bee declines and that they are contaminating the environment, harming a variety of other organisms essential to healthy ecosystems and sustainable food production.

"Even though Home Depot has taken these steps in the right direction, it's important for gardeners to be aware that many plants in stores today still contain neonicotinoids. We look forward to the day when we can all buy home garden plants without worrying about harming pollinators. In the meantime, gardeners should choose organic and neonic-free starts, seeds and soil," said Katherine Paul, associate director, Organic Consumers Association.

"It's time for other retailers, such as Ace and True Value, to take a stand against toxic, bee-killing neonicotinoids by making a full-fledged, public commitment to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from store shelves," said Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club'spollinator protection program coordinator.

Earlier in 2015, Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute surveyed nurseries and released the report   Growing Bee Friendly Garden Plants: Profiles in Innovation, to find out how growers and retail stores were working to meet consumer demand for neonicotinoid-free plants.

"The survey showed that many growers are stepping up to the plate to ensure that their plants are safe for pollinators," said Dr. Susan Kegley, principal scientist atPesticide Research Institute. "These growers are using innovative approaches to control pests such as application of beneficial insects or fungi that eat or disable pest insects, as well as tried and true common-sense pest prevention methods like proper sanitation, frequent monitoring for pests, and selection of pest-resistant plants. Their success shows that harmful systemic insecticides are not necessary to grow bee-friendly plants."

Greenhouse Grower magazine surveyed the one hundred largest greenhouse growers in the industry, and found 31 percent of the growers surveyed are not using neonicotinoids at all, and 38 percent have eliminated neonicotinoid use for some of their plant products.

Last April, the EPA placed a moratorium on new and expanded uses of neonicotinoids. In September, the 9th Circuit Court suspended the EPA's approval of sulfoxaflor, a neonicotinoid.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey released a reconnaissance study demonstrating native bees collected in an agricultural landscape are exposed to multiple pesticides and of the bees tested, 70percent contained pesticides, including neonicotinoids.

*Organizations partnering with Friends of the Earth U.S. in the campaign to urge garden retailers including Home Depot to phase out the use and sale of neonicotinoids include: American Bird Conservancy, Atlanta Audubon Society, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, CREDO Action,  Ecology Center, Endangered Species Coalition, Environment New York, Environment Texas, Environmental Youth Council, Farmworker Association of Florida, Friends of the Earth Canada, Georgia Organics, GMO Inside, Green America, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maryland Pesticide Network,, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Olympia Beekeepers Association, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Planet Rehab, Save our Environment, Sierra Club, Smart on Pesticides Maryland, SumOfUs, Toxics Action Center, Toxic Free North Carolina,  Turner Environmental Law Clinic and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. 

Last month, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard went on CNN and laid bare Washington’s Syria strategy.
In a remarkably candid interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gabbard calls Washington’s effort to oust Assad “counterproductive” and “illegal” before taking it a step further and accusing the CIA of arming the very same terrorists who The White House insists are “sworn enemies.” 
In short, Gabbard all but tells the American public that the government is lying to them and may end up inadvertently starting “World War III.”

Gabbard, who fought in Iraq – twice – has partnered with Republican Austin Scott on the bill. Here’s AP:
In an unusual alliance, a House Democrat and Republican have teamed up to urge the Obama administration to stop trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad and focus all its efforts on destroying Islamic State militants.
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, and Austin Scott, a Republican, introduced legislation on Friday to end what they called an “illegal war” to overthrow Assad, the leader of Syria accused of killing tens of thousands of Syrian citizens in a more than four-year-old civil war entangled in a battle against IS extremists, also known as ISIS.
“The U.S. is waging two wars in Syria,” Gabbard said. “The first is the war against ISIS and other Islamic extremists, which Congress authorized after the terrorist attack on 9/11. The second war is the illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.”
Scott said, “Working to remove Assad at this stage is counter-productive to what I believe our primary mission should be.”
Since 2013, the CIA has trained an estimated 10,000 fighters, although the number still fighting with so-called moderate forces is unclear. CIA-backed rebels in Syria, who had begun to put serious pressure on Assad’s forces, are now under Russian bombardment with little prospect of rescue by their American patrons, U.S. officials say.
For years, the CIA effort had foundered — so much so that over the summer, some in Congress proposed cutting its budget. Some CIA-supported rebels had been captured; others had defected to extremist groups.
Gabbard complained that Congress has never authorized the CIA effort, though covert programs do not require congressional approval, and the program has been briefed to the intelligence committees as required by law, according to congressional aides who are not authorized to be quoted discussing the matter.
Gabbard contends the effort to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it is helping IS topple the Syrian leader and take control of all of Syria. If IS were able to seize the Syrian military’s weaponry, infrastructure and hardware, the group would become even more dangerous than it is now and exacerbate the refugee crisis.
And make no mistake, Tulsi’s understanding of Washington’s absurd Mid-East policy goes far beyond Syria. That is, Gabbard fully grasps the big picture as well. Here’s what she has to say about the idea that the US should everywhere and always attempt to overthrow regimes when human rights groups claim there’s evidence of oppression:

“People said the very same thing about Saddam (Hussein), the very same thing about (Moammar) Gadhafi, the results of those two failed efforts of regime change and the following nation-building have been absolute, not only have they been failures, but they’ve actually worked to strengthen our enemy.”

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