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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

15 July - RSS News

One Billion Hungry People: Multiple Causes Of Food Insecurity Considered

The most recent increase in hunger recorded by FAO is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment leading to reduced access to food by the poor.

The second issue of Food Security is now published, and is free online. It documents some of the multiple causes of food insecurity. Topics include desertification, flooding, adaptation of remote communities to modern technology, seasonality of food crops and the corresponding dearth between harvests, lack of iron in traditionally consumed food, resulting in anaemia, and taboos that inhibit people from supplementing their diets with nutritious wild fruits that are readily available.

Toxins May Have Doomed Ancient Forests

The same noxious compounds released from burning coal and crude oil may have devastated forests and the early dinosaurs that lived in them 200 million years ago.A team of researchers discovered the toxins in concentrations over 1,000 times normal levels in rock samples from Germany and Sweden. They coincide with an enormous convulsion of volcanic eruptions that stretched from Brazil to France that split the supercontinent Pangea in half. The fiery rift would one day become the Atlantic Ocean.

Bill proposed to limit antibiotics in livestock to prevent the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs

More than 50 years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the addition of antibiotics to livestock feed to reduce disease that can occur from dense living conditions and high-protein diets. Yesterday, the FDA announced its aim to withdraw that approval and stop all non-therapeutic germ-fighting in chickens, pigs and cows.
The ban would cover seven classes of antibiotics that the FDA considers “highly” or “critically” important components of the human arsenal against bacteria. “Trends toward increasing numbers of infection and increasing drug resistance show no sign of abating" :Joshua Sharfstein

Stricter standards for antibiotic use will also require more veterinarian involvement. “We have a tremendous shortage of food animal veterinary practitioners in the country,” Parr says. “There’s just not enough manpower.” : Boyd H. Parr, the state veterinarian for South Carolina

The farm industry isn’t the only group likely to oppose the bill; the pharmaceutical industry has a lot to lose, too. Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used for livestock, as estimated by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Do we need the enzymes in fresh fruits and other foods in order to stay healthy? If so, what happens to the enzymes in fresh fruits like bananas, that are often picked long before they are ripe?

Grassoline: Biofuels beyond Corn

Second-generation biofuels made from the inedible parts of plants are the most environmentally friendly and technologically promising near-term alternatives to oil.
Most of this “grassoline” will come from agricultural residues such as cornstalks, weedlike energy crops and wood waste.
The U.S. can grow enough of these feedstocks to replace about half the country’s total consumption of oil without affecting food supplies.

The Organic Monopoly and the Myth of "Natural" Foods

Many of the most committed organic consumers are conscious of the fact that organic food and other products are actually “cheaper” in real terms than conventional food and other items—since industrial agriculture’s so-called “cheap” products carry hidden costs, including billions of dollars in annual tax subsidies, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to our health, the environment, and climate.

Millions of health-minded Americans, especially parents of young children, now understand that cheap, non-organic, industrial food is hazardous. Not only does chemical and energy-intensive factory farming destroy the environment, impoverish rural communities, exploit farm workers, inflict unnecessary cruelty on farm animals, and contaminate the water supply; but the end product itself is inevitably contaminated. Routinely contained in nearly every bite or swallow of non-organic industrial food are pesticides, antibiotics and other animal drug residues, pathogens, feces, hormone disrupting chemicals, toxic sludge, slaughterhouse waste, genetically modified organisms, chemical additives and preservatives, irradiation-derived radiolytic chemical by-products, and a host of other hazardous allergens and toxins.

Decades of research confirm that organic agriculture produces crop yields that are comparable (under normal weather conditions) or even 50-70% superior (during droughts or excessive rain) to chemical farming. Nutritional studies show that organic crops are qualitatively higher in vitamin content and trace minerals, and that fresh unprocessed organic foods boost the immune system and reduce cancer risks.

Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge.http://www.eco-labels.org/

On non-meat products, the term natural is typically pure propaganda.

The Emperors of Bombast

Thinking Clearly about Economic Inequality

The dispersion of incomes at any given time has, at best, a tenuous connection to human welfare or social justice. The pattern of incomes is affected by both morally desirable and undesirable mechanisms.

Violence likely to continue against Canada's oil and gas industry

What Inspired A Scientist To Open A Meditation Center At UCLA?

 Mindful Awareness (also known as mindfulness) is an ancient concept with over 2,500 years of history and development that has recently been brought into health settings and has shown to have a powerful role on overall health promotion and healing for a variety of physical illnesses including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.Our Dependent Nature

How your mother nurtured you at birth (attachment) influenced your DNA by turning on or turning off specific genes.

Epigenetics is the study of how environments shape gene expression that in turn shapes the environment.

Hormone Therapy Raises Ovarian Cancer Risk

tudy Shows an Increase in Risk for Estrogen-Only or Estrogen-Plus-Progestin Therapy

New Zealand Earthquake Triggers Small Tsunami

No injuries or major damage were reported

Bill Gates offers the world a physics lesson

Gates has managed to fulfill a dream of taking some classic physics lectures and making them available free over the Web. The lectures, done in 1964 by noted scientist (and Manhattan Project collaborator) Richard Feynman, take notions such as gravity and explains how they work and the broad implications they have in understanding the ways of the universe.free from the Microsoft Research Web site

( Working in Opera, I read a notice 'Sorry, your Browser is not compatible.'  So much for compliance to web standards. )

Private college control slammed as 'inept'

Ombudsman lashes 'systemic failure' ( Ontario )

Remains of the Day: Can the Government Switch to Firefox Edition

Was the Speed of Light Faster in the Early Universe?

Magueijo’s varying-speed-of-light theory (VSL) would have stunning implications for space travel, black holes, time dilation, and string theory—and could help uncover the grand unified theory that ultimately eluded Einstein.

Vast changes in real estate development - did the Med miss the boat?

Compared with questionable urban and real estate planning in Europe's mediterranean countries (like Greece, Italy and Spain) Abu Dhabi (UAE) offers an alternative: Masdar. It shows the difference between exploiting traditional opportunism and using innovative opportunities.

Record rise in UK jobless total

UK unemployment rose by a record 281,000 to 2.38 million in the three months to May

Families hit by agency's collapse

500 families from across Canada devastated and caught in limbo after their Cambridge-based international adoption agency declared bankruptcy Monda

Waiting Game

Lock in long-term fiscal discipline ;  credibly pay for health care reform. 

Lenders and mortgage investors have several reasons to prefer foreclosures over modifications. Among them, foreclosures allow a bank to postpone taking a loss. Revive efforts to allow bankruptcy judges to modify bad loans.

Adequacy of banks’ capital cushions hinges on success in stimulating the economy and preventing foreclosures: If those efforts fall short, employment, household wealth and consumer spending will not rebound.

DOJ Launches Broad Investigation Into Derivatives Market>

The Justice Department is investigating the role of several major companies in the credit market NYT - Derivatives Are Focus of Antitrust Investigators

Not That It Matters... But Appeals Court Rejects Webcasters' Challenge Over Copyright Royalties

If the current negotiated rates threaten to put a lot of webcasters out of business, and the CRB's original rates were even higher, doesn't that suggest a pretty serious problem both with the CRB and with the appeals process? Separately, it looks like the court had no problem at all ignoring the constitutional questions about the Copyright Royalty Board for a second time

Prison Rape as Policy

The American prison system is the domestic corollary to the global war on terror.

Prison is a living hell. It is a domestic war zone where, in a highly regulated social organization, a quasi-military force maintains order through terror both formal and informal. Prison rape (especially male rape) is a cousin to the rape and other forms of sexual terror practiced as a tactic by the U.S. military and intelligence operatives in the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo.

According to the NPREC study, in 2007, “an estimated 60,500 State and Federal prisoners were sexually abused during [the previous] 12-month period.” This amounts to approximately 4.5 percent of the prison population. Buried deep within the study is one of many amazing findings:

About 2 percent of all respondents reported incidents in which the perpetrator was another prisoner; 2.9 percent reported incidents perpetrated by corrections staff. (Some respondents had been abused by both staff and other prisoners.)
Nearly one-fifth (19.7%) of youths under 18 years in residential juvenile facilities report at least one “nonconsensual sexual contact". Prisons are jobs programs and tax boons to localities starving for revenue; prisoner rehabilitation is rarely in the equation.

Obama's New Euphemism

In his May speech, President Obama spoke only of "prolonged" detention, not of indefinite detention, or preventive detention, or detention without charge.

Story of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner Denied Appeal by Sotomayor Excluded from Confirmation Hearings

Two Decades After His Rejection from Federal Bench for Racial Bias, Sen. Jeff Sessions Leads GOP Opposition to Sotomayor

Government maps low-carbon road

A huge expansion of wind power, home insulation and "smart" electricity meters are among measures being planned to build the UK's low-carbon future.

PBS Leads News & Documentary Emmy Nominations

Scores killed in Iran plane crash

Iran has a notoriously bad air safety record. Because of sanctions imposed by the United States, Iran relies on an increasingly ageing fleet of airliners, and has trouble buying spares.

The Taliban Rope-a-Dope

The Taliban live off the land and have weapons/supply caches throughout Helmand province and Afghanistan. They can and indeed have been ordered by their leader in Helmand, Mullah Naim Barach, to concentrate and disperse at will. The Taliban can do this easily, because they can blend seamlessly into the local culture, should they choose to do so. 
The deployed NATO units, on the other hand, are highly-visible alien conventional military forces. Moreover, the NATO foreigners are deployed in easily discerned, static positions: checkpoints, outposts, and base camps. The geographic distribution of the NATO forces in a large number of small outposts makes them vulnerable to a welter of float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee attacks and ambushes, made at times and places of the Taliban's choosing. 
The Taliban live off the land and have weapons/supply caches throughout Helmand province and Afghanistan.  

Not mentioned in the Times report is a closely-related, important asymmetry: Conventional NATO forces can not live off the land and are entirely dependent on a massive thru-put of food, fuel, water, ammunition, and spare parts.

This new strategy, named Clear, Hold, Build by the Americans, is actually the resurrection of a famous old colonialist strategy evolved by Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934) who eventually became a Marshall in the French army and ended his days as a virulent fascist.

The problem is that to succeed in the moral and mental game in Afghanistan, NATO's tache d'huile strategy must establish a blanket physical security so pervasive that highly visible alien aid providers and reformers spread thinly throughout a traumatized, xenophobic, clan-based population will not be picked off one by one by the Taliban, warlords, criminal gangs, or any others who feel threatened by their presence.

Ayatollah You So


Jackass Rabbits

1 comment:

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