PNN - “DUDE WHERE’S MY 02”
[Subtitled: We're Human too, Out Source CEOs not JOBs]
0. RE The Disaster of an Interview
Going back to that Daily News interview—the supposed proof of Sanders’ lack of seriousness—columnist Juan Gonzales, who participated, later reported on “Democracy Now!”, that he didn’t get the impression it was a disaster at all. “The editorial board is notorious, especially our editorial page editor, Arthur Browne, for his laser-like one question after another, and he bombarded, as several others of us also asked questions. I, overall, thought that Bernie Sanders handled the exchange very well. And I think that there were a few places where he stumbled, and—but I was amazed at his ability to parry the questions that were thrown at him…. I thought his performance was excellent.”
Candidates the media deem to be serious do not get these policy pop quizzes, because it is believed (accurately) that they can hire experienced advisers who can work out the details. But if they were pressed, there’s no doubt a studied reporter could make them look silly.
1. FUNGUS AMONG US
For defense against the fungal pathogens that attack crops—think the blight that bedeviled Irish potato fields in the 19th century—farmers turn to fungicides. They're widely sprayed on fruit, vegetable, and nut crops, and in the past decade, they've become quite common in the corn and soybean fields (see here and herefor more). But as the use of fungicides has ramped up in recent years, some scientists are starting to wonder: What are these chemicals doing to the ecosystems they touch, and to us?
A new paper in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications adds to a disturbing body of evidence that fungicides might be doing more than just killing fungi. For the study, a team of University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center researchers led by Mark Zylka subjected mouse cortical neuron cultures—which are similar in cellular and molecular terms to the the human brain—to 294 chemicals "commonly found in the environment and on food." The idea was to see whether any of them triggered changes that mimicked patterns found in brain samples from people with autism, advanced age, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
Eight chemicals fit the bill, the researchers found. Of them, the two most widely used are from a relatively new class of fungicides called "quinone outside inhibitors," which have surged in use since being introduced in US farm fields in the early 2000s: pyraclostrobin and trifloxystrobin.
Now, it's important to note, Zylka told me in an interview, that in vitro research like the kind his team conducted for this study is only the first step in determining whether a chemical poses risk to people. The project identified chemicals that can cause harm to brain cells in a lab setting, but it did not establish that they harm human brains as they're currently used. Nailing that down will involve careful epidemiological studies, Zylka said: Scientists will have to track populations that have been exposed to the chemicals—say farm workers—to see if they show a heightened propensity for brain disorders, and also test people who eat foods with residues of suspect chemicals to see if they show up in their bodies at significant levels.
2. Debbie Wasserman-Destruction
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz just signed onto a bill that would gut the agency conceived by progressive icon Elizabeth Warren.
Rep. Schultz (D-Florida) is cosponsoring H.R. 4018, which, among other things, delays the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations on payday lenders for two years. The regulations are meant to stop the practice of “turned” loans, which are additional loans borrowers are forced to take on to pay back the abnormally-high interest rates attached to payday loans, which then leads to a cycle of debt for the borrower.
According to an internal memo obtained by the Huffington Post, Schultz is not only cosponsoring the bill, but is enlisting Democratic support for the measure.
While Schultz maintains she wants to model the CFPB’s regulations on payday lenders on a Florida payday lending law, advocates maintain that the Florida law is toothless, and that it is backed by the industry it was supposedly meant to regulate. But in fact, groups like the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Council of La Raza, among many others, have signed onto a letterurging Congress to vote NO to H.R. 4018. In this letter, they claim a typical APR interest rate on a payday loan in Florida is around 300 percent — and yes, you read that correctly. Furthermore, they also state that interest rates such as these were illegal until “relatively recently.”
“Florida’s law is a sham,” Gynnie Robnett, of Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), told the Huffington Post. AFR estimates that 76 percent of payday loans issued in the Sunshine State are taken out to pay back previous payday loan interest, meaning the law Schultz says should be a model for national reform is essentially ineffective. The aforementioned letter from consumer group calls the industry in its current form a “payday debt trap.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is on the opposite side of the issue. In fact, she’s openly called for payday lenders to be replaced by the U.S. Postal Service in a 2014 bill. In an op-ed to the Huffington Post, Warren expressed many reasons for supporting the bill, including those below.
“The report found that 68 million Americans don’t have bank accounts and spent $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees for the kinds of basic financial services that USPS could begin offering. The average un-banked household spent more than $2,400, or about 10 percent of its income, just to access its own money through things like check cashing and payday lending stores. USPS would generate savings for those families and revenue for itself by stepping in to replace those non-bank financial services companies.”
Bernie Sanders has also endorsed the idea of postal banking, as six out of ten post offices are in ZIP codes with either one or zero bank branches.
Campaign finance records show it’s not inaccurate to say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a friend of the financial industry. The securities/investment industry is Schultz’s fourth-biggest donor demographic according to OpenSecrets.org, having given $23,000 to her campaign committee in the 2016 cycle. The industry has given Schultz over $267,000 throughout the course of her 12-year Congressional career.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office did not respond to a request for an interview.
3. Wiretap Who
SKOPJE (Reuters) – Macedonia’s president pardoned 56 government and opposition figures on Wednesday in a wiretapping scandal despite protests against the move at home and abroad, with the United States warning it could protect “corrupt politicians”.
A day after causing uproar in Macedonia by announcing he planned a blanket amnesty over the affair, President Gjorge Ivanov published notices in Macedonia’s official gazette exempting former prime minister Nikola Gruevski – a political ally – and other prominent politicians from prosecution.
Also pardoned were opposition leader Zoran Zaev, who revealed the existence of the recordings last year, and former security service official Zoran Verusevski, who Gruevski accused of giving the wiretaps to Zaev in an attempt to bring down his government.
Macedonia, a poor Balkan country of two million people on the front line of Europe’s refugee crisis, has been in turmoil since Zaev accused Gruevski and his counter-intelligence chief, Saso Mijalkov, in February last year of orchestrating the wiretapping of more than 20,000 people.
The opposition said the phone-taps exposed government control over journalists, judges, public sector recruitment and the manipulation of elections in Macedonia, which aspires to join both the European Union and NATO.
The opposition branded Ivanov’s action a “coup d’etat” on Tuesday and demanded his resignation, while the EU said the move appeared contrary to the rule of law. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the Macedonian capital on Tuesday.
Thirty-seven opposition legislators signed a petition on Wednesday demanding a parliamentary inquiry into Ivanov’s action but the assembly was dissolved last week pending elections and the speaker said there were no grounds to recall it.
Ivanov explained his move on Tuesday by saying the scandal had reduced Macedonian politics to a crippling competition of criminal investigations and charges, and that it had become “so tangled that nobody can untangle it”.
U.S. Ambassador Jess Baily joined foreign criticism of Ivanov’s action, saying on Twitter: “A blanket pardon without due process protects corrupt politicians and their associates. Let the special prosecutor and courts do their jobs.”
In Washington, the U.S. State Department urged Ivanov on Wednesday to reconsider his decision so as to ensure “justice for the people of Macedonia”.
The EU commissioner in charge of relations with would-be member states, Johannes Hahn, said on Tuesday he doubted whether credible elections were possible following Ivanov’s decision. The opposition had already pledged to boycott the election.
Ali Ahmeti, head of the Democratic Union for Integration party which forms part of the ruling coalition, called on Ivanov to withdraw his decision, saying it violated an EU-brokered deal reached last year to try to end the crisis.
Under that accord, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the wiretap revelations and Gruevski agreed to an early election, expected in June.
Gruevski’s own party also criticised Ivanov’s decision.
Other officials who received presidential pardons on Wednesday were Mijalkov, the former counter-intelligence chief, and former ministers Gordana Jankulovska and Mile Janakievski, against whom the special prosecutor had opened a case on suspicion of intimidating voters.
(Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade, Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
4. OUTSOURCED EXPERTISE
Thom Hartmann said his MRI was “read & interpreted” by a Dr in India? - will all our medical analysis be done in the third world or just those for the middle class & for the poor
5. FRACKING AND DOWN STREAM IMPACTS
Approximately 36,000 oil and gas frack disposal wells are currently in operation across the United States...
Before all the Oil & Gas workers go off half-cocked, the "act" of injecting fracking wastewater is not same thing as the act of fracking; technically they are separate acts in the practice of fracking.
So is illegal dumping, toxic spills, toxic air venting, property damage and fifty other nasty things these "professionals" do when they violate the "very limited regulations" placed upon them.
Guys... you're all fracked up!
WHEELING -Researchers from the University of Missouri and Duke University say they found high levels of chemicals downstream from a West Virginia fracking wastewater disposal site, but industry leaders said this contamination is likely due to a surface spill rather than an injection well failure.
"Approximately 36,000 of these disposal wells are currently in operation across the U.S., and little work has been done to evaluate their potential impacts on nearby surface water," said Christopher Kassotis, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke. "Given the large number of disposal wells in the U.S., it is critical for further investigation into the potential human and environmental health impacts."
Kassotis and Susan Nagel, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, studied an injection well site along Wolf Creek near Fayetteville, W.Va. This creek eventually leads to the New River, which is widely known for its New River Gorge Bridge.
"Surface water samples collected on the disposal facility site and immediately downstream exhibited considerably greater endocrine disrupting chemicals activity than surface water samples collected immediately upstream and in a nearby reference stream," Nagel said. "The level of EDC activity was within the range or higher than the level known to impact the health of aquatic organisms."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body's endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. Some of these substances may be found in products as common as plastic bottles, metal cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.
The banned chemical DDT is an example of an endocrine disruptor, as is the industrial byproduct, dioxin.
Some widely used chemicals frackers add to their millions of gallons of water when working include hydrochloric acid, ethylene glycol, isopropanol, glutaraldehyde, petroleum distillate, guar gum, ammonium persulfate, formamide, borate salts, citric acid, potassium chloride and sodium carbonate. Once fracking is complete, many companies work to recycle their water so that it can be used multiple times onsite.
However, frackers will eventually need to transport the water for disposal at an injection well site. By this time, the water can contain radioactive elements released from the shale formation such as radium and uranium, in addition to the chemicals added to the fracking fluid.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the state features 233 injection wells classified as either active or being drilled, mostly in the northeastern and southeastern quadrants. In the Upper Ohio Valley, these include one in the Barnesville area; one in the area of Piedmont Lake; and one in Monroe County. Previously, a 2.6-mile deep injection well at the top of Kirkwood Heights also accepted brine, but this is no longer an active operation.
However, there are numerous injection wells located along the Ohio River in Washington, Athens and Meigs counties that serve as dumping areas for water used in both Ohio and West Virginia, in addition to several injection wells in Guernsey and Noble counties.
Data from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection show that most of the state's 36 active brine disposal wells are in the southern part of the state.
Energy In Depth is a research and public relations organization founded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009. Writing on behalf of Energy In Depth, Seth Whitehead said the study by Nagel and Kassotis "offers up more of the familiar exaggerations and myths that have long been debunked."
"Spills are obviously bad, so it's not all that surprising that the researchers found some environmental impacts at this site. But by focusing on a problem area that is much more the exception than the rule, the researchers fail to provide any insight on increasing knowledge about the risks of responsible development," Whitehead stated.
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