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Judi Lynn

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Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

October 5, 2015
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

by Robert M. Nelson

Republican presidential aspirants Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum all describe themselves as devout Catholics and, like most Republican candidates, they argue that religion should play an expanded role in American politics and government. However, on matters related to global warming, Messrs. Bush and Rubio both agree with Mr. Santorum, stating that we should, “…leave science to the scientists.”

Fortunately for these Republican candidates, Jorge Bergoglio, a chemist from Argentina, has stepped forward to address the concerns of those who think that global warming issues should be only confined to scientists. Recently, Bergoglio, analyzed the available data and produced a most remarkable treatise titled Care for Our Common Home. His book is well worth reading.

Bergoglio has an interesting past. In 1929 his family fled fascism in Mussolini’s Italy and migrated to Argentina, where he was born in 1936. He is well credentialed. He attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a school of the Salesians of Don Bosco, in Ramos Mejía, Buenos Aires, and entered the technical school Escuela Técnica Industrial #27. After graduation he began work as a chemist at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aries (to finance his education, he also worked as a bouncer in an Argentine bar).

Thanks to a most magnificent, almost lyrical writing style Bergoglio’s book should be be easily understandable by the general public — and even by politicians. His words are firm. He resolutely reflects on the general state of our environment, and particularly on the contribution of modern society to environmental degradation. He writes:

Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.” He continues, saying that society creates a “… pollution that effects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.


GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science

October 5, 2015
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science

by Kristine Mattis

In August of 2014, the website Gawker revealed documents that demonstrated the lengths to which the global chemical giant Monsanto would go in order to control the narrative about their products – in particular, their genetically modified crops. At a minimum, Monsanto enlisted Condé Nast publications, and appealed to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in need of donations, to help produce a celebrity-driven video series in support of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While we all like to believe that our scientific/rational brains see through the transparent marketing, public relations rhetoric exists because it greatly sedates critical thought.

Although the proposed campaign by Monsanto never materialized, a quick perusing of GMO articles over the past year elicits suspicion that Monsanto’s and Condé Nast’s relationship did not end. In addition, Monsanto almost certainly had its hand in a number of other propaganda ventures. Since last year, the pro-GMO rhetoric has increased tremendously in news media articles on genetically modified organisms. Recent disclosed documents have also exposed numerous scientific experts enlisted in Monsanto’s messaging. But what is most pernicious is that a whole new rhetorical talking point has come to the forefront, which threatens anyone – particularly scientists – who speak out against their “tent pole” technology: If you are anti-GMOs you are anti-science.

The new talking point represents a brilliant strategy to promote genetic engineering. Most people do not want to be characterized as anti-science, not journalists, not public officials, not celebrities, and least of all, not trained and educated scientists. Furthermore, the propaganda plays to pro-science liberals who have accused conservatives of being anti-science due to their denial of climate change.

Unlike anthropogenic climate change, though, there is absolutely no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs. In fact, each and every new GMO needs to be fully tested individually for its safety, because each genetic modification confers a not only a novel gene into the genome, but also a possible genetic interaction within the genome. The notion that one gene always only controls one trait is known to be far too simplistic. Often, many genes function in concert to produce traits, and sections of DNA can also turn traits on or off. Therefore, inserting novel genes into DNA sequences may affect untargeted traits in unpredictable ways.


Contemporary Dance of Cuba to Present Carmina Burana in Mexico

Contemporary Dance of Cuba to Present Carmina Burana in Mexico

Havana, Oct 6 (Prensa Latina) Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (DCC) will present in Mexico a version of Carmina Burana, winner there in 2009 of the Luna Award for the Performing Arts.
The work will be seen on October 8 and 9 in the National Auditorium, main space for shows in the country, with capacity for 12,000 spectators.

This piece involves putting a backdrop of LED screens and a smaller circle one in the center, where they project a video of various contents, from the origin of the universe and some of the current events in any street to the possible destruction of everything we know.

The relation between the physical and spiritual seems inescapable in a piece that aims to tear the soul of anyone, and the dancers assume that with strength and conviction.

Carmina Burana is an ode to the life of man in this world, told Prensa Latina its choreographer George Céspedes.

For me, the intellectual world is the attraction when dealing with creation, because everything starts from images, from them I got the tool I need, spiritual or physical, but there is usually an intellect that is connected with the emotional and leads us to the physical. The final instrument is the body, the young Cuban choreographer said.

To complete the cast, the production includes 68 musicians, a choir of 100 voices, 35 children and three singers (a baritone, a soprano and countertenor), as pointed by DCC director, Miguel Iglesias. This year, the great dancer from the United States Rasta Thomas, someone whose affability allows him to integrate as another member of the company, returns as guest of the group.



Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

Meeting with Beyoncé and Jay-Z

U.S. guest dancer, Rasta Thomas.

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba[/center]

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Coal Miners' Health Insurance

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Coal Miners' Health Insurance
Sunday, 04 October 2015 00:00
By Alec MacGillis, ProPublica | Report

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

There was plenty in the complex deal to benefit bankers, lawyers, executives and hedge fund managers. Patriot Coal Corp. was bankrupt, but its mines would be auctioned to pay off mounting debts while financial engineering would generate enough cash to cover the cost of the proceedings.

When the plan was filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Richmond last week, however, one group didn't come out so well: 208 retired miners, wives and widows in southern Indiana who have no direct connection to Patriot Coal. Millions of dollars earmarked for their health care as they age would effectively be diverted instead to legal fees and other bills from the bankruptcy.

As coal companies go bankrupt or shut down throughout Appalachia and parts of the Midwest, the immediate fallout includes lost jobs and devastated communities. But the Indiana case stands out as an example of how financial deals hatched far from coal country can also endanger the future safety net.

At issue is health insurance promised to people who worked for the Squaw Creek Coal Company in Warrick County, Indiana, near Evansville, who, like other retired union miners, counted on coverage after they turned 55.


Mexico: No country for journalists

Mexico: No country for journalists

We explore Mexico's 'red lines' and look at why the Latin American country is one of the deadliest for reporters.

04 Oct 2015 14:32 GMT | Media, Latin America, Mexico, Journalism

One of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, the carefully staged murders of reporters in Mexico has became all too common.

By some counts Ruben Espinosa became the 11th journalist to be killed this year when he was tortured and shot dead along with four women on August 1.

Investigators called it a robbery gone awry but friends, colleagues and press freedom campaigners say that Espinosa's enemies in the state of Veracruz where he did most of his work followed him home.

Fearing for his life, Espinosa had fled Veracruz after his work, which focused on student protests, the environment and social movements - led to him receiving threats from local government officials.


Using Ancient DNA, Researchers Unravel the Mystery of Machu Picchu

Using Ancient DNA, Researchers Unravel the Mystery of Machu Picchu

Dramatically perched on an Andes mountain ridge some 8,000 feet above sea level in Peru, Machu Picchu is a visual wonder and a technical masterpiece.

“It is breathtaking,” said Brenda Bradley, an associate professor of anthropology at the George Washington University.

The Inca built the site’s 15th-century ruins without mortar, fitting the blocks of stone so tightly together that you still cannot fit a piece of paper between them. The design included steeped, agricultural terraces to boost planting space and protect against flooding.

But despite its distinction as one of the most iconic and important archeological sites in the world, the origins of Machu Picchu remain a mystery. The Inca left no record of why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early 16th century.

“There is a longstanding debate about what the function of Machu Picchu was because it is so unique and unusual as an Inca site,” Dr. Bradley said. “It is too big to be a local settlement. And it’s too small and not the right structure to have been an administrative center for the Inca Empire.”

Now, Dr. Bradley and a team of researchers will be the first to analyze the genomes of the skeletal remains from more than 170 individuals buried at the site. The team’s other members include Lars Fehren-Schmitz from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Yale University’s Richard Burger and Lucy Salazar.


Eve of Destruction: Bureau of Land Management Sacrifices Native Site to Mining Group

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015, 11:57 am

Eve of Destruction: Bureau of Land Management Sacrifices Native Site to Mining Group

By Stephanie Woodard

[font size=1]
An aerial view of the Hollister Underground Mine Project in the Tosawihi Quarries in Elko
County, Nevada. Recently acquired by Waterton Global Mining Company/Carlin Resources,
the site has long been regarded as sacred by Native people.
(Bureau of Land Management, Elko District Office, Tuscarora Field Office, Nevada)
This isn’t the “new” world for the Western Shoshone. And their West was never “wild.” It is a place of deep cultural connections to a homeland that at one time extended across portions of Idaho, Nevada, Utah and California. For more than 10,000 years, they have met in what is today called the Tosawihi Quarries, a stretch of Elko County, Nevada, to gather a type of white flint and to practice their sacred rituals.

“That stone is very sacred to us,” says Joe Holley, chairman of the Battle Mountain Band of the Te-Moak Western Shoshone, one of several federally recognized, related tribes. “We use it every day and have done so for millennia, for tools, ceremonies and healing. The stone, the water, the entire place is sacred.” The word Tosawihi means White Knives, an ancestral Shoshone tribal name that ties the land and its features to their culture and identity. The Tosawihi Quarries has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and part of it was declared an Archaeological District in 2010.

However, gold lies under the flint, also called chert, and a multinational mining group wants it.

In 2013, Nevada-based Waterton Global Mining Company, owned by a firm registered in the Cayman Islands, bought a bankrupt gold-mining operation that had been exploring for and extracting gold in the Tosawihi Quarries. In March 2014, an official at a related Canadian private-equity firm, Waterton Global Resource Management, told Reuters it had been snapping up struggling U.S. mining concerns hurt by the several-year downturn in gold prices. Reuters quoted the firm’s chief investment officer as saying, “This year I think (acquisitions) will pick up dramatically.”

By 2014, mining operations had resumed on the Shoshone's ancestral lands, and Waterton Global Mining Company had changed its name to Carlin Resources. The new work began in previously disturbed ground and moved out from there. “A drilling pad was built in a once-pristine area,” says Holley, “and several rock shelters were demolished when they pushed through a road.” On a recent trip to the area, he saw that several ancient stone hunting blinds, from which concealed hunters observed their prey, were gone. Tribal members report that workers have videotaped them when they visit.


Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade

October 2, 2015
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade

by W. T. Whitney

Meeting with reporters on September 17, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez discussed his ministry’s recent report on the U. S. economic blockade against Cuba. The 36 – page document presents Cuba’s case in advance of an October 27 vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a Cuban resolution calling for the blockade’s end. This will be the 24th consecutive year for such a vote. The Assembly has recently approved the resolution overwhelmingly – 188 nations in favor last year, two opposed.

This year is different. Cuba and the United States recently re-established diplomatic relations. The Obama administration has eased some embargo rules through executive action. And the President has urged the U. S. Congress to exercise powers it gained through the 1996 Helms – Burton Law and lift the blockade.

Nevertheless, Rodriguez pointed out, “The blockade continues[s] to be tightened with notable, increased extra-territorial application, in particular in the financial arena.” It’s the “principal obstacle to our development” and “leads to unmet needs and deprivations for all Cuban families.” According to the report, the blockade has deprived Cuba of $834 billion (allowing for inflation) over the 50 years of its existence.

This detailed, comprehensive report is accessible in English here. It surveys multiple U.S. laws undergirding the blockade, details executive actions the Obama administration has already taken, and has recommendations for further presidential initiatives. In particular the document underscores hardship from financial services being withheld by international bankers and lending institutions seeking to avoid U. S. sanctions. The report surveys present day U. S. and international actions and campaigns opposing the blockade.

The overall thrust of the report is to emphasize the complexity and reach of blockade regulations. Prohibitions on exports to Cuba from foreign subsidiaries of U. S. corporations, for instance, interfere with Cuba’s efforts to acquire needed medical supplies. The report makes it clear that any congressional action taken to end regulations most responsible for damage in Cuba must be comprehensive.


‘Rape Rooms’: How W.Va. Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts

October 2, 2015
‘Rape Rooms’: How W.Va. Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts

by Mark Hand

Long-time residents of West Virginia’s coal fields can recite stories, passed down from generation to generation, of appalling working conditions, chronic hunger and violent mine guards. It was only in recent decades that these residents found the courage to tell their stories to historians and writers. Scores of articles and books have now been published on the history of West Virginia’s coal industry from the perspective of these coal mining families.

Missing from most of these published works, though, is a critical look at the coal camp experiences of women. Labor historian Wess Harris targets this lost history in a brand new book that provides jaw-dropping accounts of how women were treated by an industry already widely known for its ruthlessness and callousness.

The groundbreaking book, Truth Be Told: Perspectives on the Great West Virginia Mine War, 1890 to Present, spends a few chapters examining what is known as the “Esau” system.

When husbands or sons were injured in the mines and there were no other men available to work, women could receive Esau scrip, which in turn could be used to buy food or other necessities. Coal companies typically issued wages in a special form of money called scrip, redeemable only at coal company-owned stores and other company-owned places of business.


Island States threatened by rising seas call at UN for urgent action on climate change

Island States threatened by rising seas call at UN for urgent action on climate change

1 October 2015 – Islands States from the Pacific and Caribbean took to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly today to call for urgent action on climate change, with one leader warning that their people and culture face “potential genocide” from rising seas.

“I speak as an islander who has walked the shores of many atoll islands, where there was once sandy beaches and coconut trees. Now there are none. I am told this will continue,” President Peter Christian of Micronesia told the Assembly on the fourth day of its 70th annual General Debate.

. . .

Prime Minister Gaston Browne of the Caribbean State of Antigua and Barbuda chided the industrial world for its long-standing emission of globe warming gases for which the less developed islands are now paying the price.

“The sadness is that these disasters are not occurring in these islands through their own fault,” he said. “They are happening because of the excesses of larger and more powerful countries, who will not bend from their abuse of the world's atmosphere, even at the risk of eliminating other societies, some older than their own,” he said.

“All industrialized nations should accept their responsibilities as the chief contributors in emitting high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” he declared.

Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Mr. Browne also condemned the recent listing in the United States and Europe of many Caribbean and Pacific Island States as “tax havens” and warned that “such wrongful tarnishing” could lead to US and European financial institutions cutting relations with their banks.


Environment & Energy:
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