Ford to Cut Up to 12% of Salaried Jobs

Ford Motor plans to cut its U.S. salaried work force by up to 12 percent after its turnaround plan stalled because of the downturn in the U.S. economy, the Detroit News reported Wednesday.

Ford warned last week it would not achieve its long-standing goal of returning to profitability in 2009 because of the U.S. economic downturn and a permanent shift in demand toward cars and crossovers and away from large trucks and SUVs.

The automaker also told employees in a memo last week that it expected to make cuts in hourly and salaried employees by Aug. 1 and would detail those steps in July.

Read moreFord to Cut Up to 12% of Salaried Jobs

Congress Is Clueless On The Oil Issue

Related video: The Energy Non-Crisis by Lindsay Williams

The U.S. Congress continues to show an incredible amount of ignorance on the oil issue. This week, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the high price of oil and called out a group of oil company executives to testify. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to sue OPEC over the high oil price. All of this grandstanding by our so called elected officials is going to do nothing to resolve the high oil price. This is a case of the U.S. Congress misdirecting the blame of the high oil price on OPEC and the major oil companies when they are really only minor players in this game. Threatening to sue OPEC is an incredibly stupid move because that could very well have the reverse effect and cause OPEC to respond to this threat by reducing the amount of oil they decide to pump. The two major reasons for the high oil price involve the Federal Reserve devaluing the U.S. Dollar through their monetary policies as well as the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On top of this, it is clear that the Bush administration is looking for any excuse possible to bomb Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has even stated that a naval blockade of Iran is an option that should be put out on the table. With the devaluation of the U.S. Dollar and a potential expansion of war in an area where a tremendous amount of oil is drilled, it is no wonder why the oil price has skyrocketed as high as $135 a barrel. This makes the actions of the U.S. Congress entirely insane and intellectually bankrupt. Expect oil prices in the long term to move much higher.

Since oil is priced in U.S. Dollar denominated terms and the monetary unit of the U.S. Dollar continues to be devalued by the Federal Reserve’s ability to create as many U.S. Dollars as they like, it isn’t a real mystery as to why the oil price is so high. Instead of suing OPEC, the U.S. House of Representatives should be suing the Federal Reserve for fraud. The Coin Act of 1792 states that U.S. Mint employees who are caught debasing the nation’s coinage would be subject to the penalty of death. The Federal Reserve is engaging in the intentional debasement of the nation’s currency which is fundamentally no different and in fact worse than employees of the U.S. Mint debasing the nation’s coinage. Instead of debasing the physical coinage, bankers can simply type digits into a computer to devalue the nation’s currency. Maybe the death penalty should be explored for some of the central bankers that have engaged in these practices.

The U.S. Congress is also helping to contribute to the high oil price with their ridiculous policies. They have funded the illegal and unconstitutional occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. The U.S. Senate just passed another war funding bill which will give the executive branch another $165 Billion to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. By continuing the military occupation of these countries it makes an attack on Iran all the more likely and contributes to greater uncertainty in the oil producing region.

General David Patreaus the current commander in Iraq is on the path to being confirmed as the new CENTCOM commander which means he will be in charge of all U.S. military operations in the Middle East. Assuming he gets confirmed, the chances of a strike on Iran will be all the more likely. Admiral William Fallon the former CENTCOM commander resigned from the position due to the perception that he was refusing to play ball with the Bush administration’s agenda on Iran.

Read moreCongress Is Clueless On The Oil Issue

Bush ‘plans Iran air strike by August’

NEW YORK – The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently.

Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.

The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC’s elite Quds force. With an estimated strength of up to 90,000 fighters, the Quds’ stated mission is to spread Iran’s revolution of 1979 throughout the region.

Targets could include IRGC garrisons in southern and southwestern Iran, near the border with Iraq. US officials have repeatedly claimed Iran is aiding Iraqi insurgents. In January 2007, US forces raided the Iranian consulate general in Erbil, Iraq, arresting five staff members, including two Iranian diplomats it held until November. Last September, the US Senate approved a resolution by a vote of 76-22 urging President George W Bush to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization. Following this non-binding “sense of the senate” resolution, the White House declared sanctions against the Quds Force as a terrorist group in October. The Bush administration has also accused Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program, though most intelligence analysts say the program has been abandoned.

Read moreBush ‘plans Iran air strike by August’

Al Qaeda Supporters’ Tape to Call for Use of WMDs

In case you want to know who is really behind Al-Qaida:

Related article: Government Insider: Bush Authorized 9/11 Attacks:

“Stanley Hilton was a senior advisor to Sen Bob Dole (R) and has personally known Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz for decades. This courageous man has risked his professional reputation, and possibly his life, to get this information out to people.”

“Bush personally ordered it to happen. We have some very incriminating documents as well as eye-witnesses, that Bush personally ordered this event to happen in order to gain political advantage, to pursue a bogus political agenda on behalf of the neocons and their deluded thinking in the Middle East.”

“This (9/11) was all planned. This was a government-ordered operation. Bush personally signed the order. He personally authorized the attacks. He is guilty of treason and mass murder.” –Stanley Hilton
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Authorities: New Tape to Urge Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction on Civilians

Intelligence and law enforcement sources tell ABC News they are expecting al Qaeda supporters will post a new video on the Internet in the next 24 hours, calling for what one source said is “jihadists to use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to attack the West.”

“There have been several reports that al Qaeda will release a new message calling for the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against civilians,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko told ABC News in an e-mail.

“Although there have been similar messages in the past, the FBI and [Department of Homeland Security] have no intelligence of any specific plot or indication of a threat to the U.S.,” the e-mail said. “The FBI and U.S. intelligence community will review the message for any intelligence value.”

While there is no evidence of any direct threat, the FBI sent a bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, out of an abundance of caution.

Some independent analysts don’t think the public should worry much.

Read moreAl Qaeda Supporters’ Tape to Call for Use of WMDs

Palestinian police get training in riot control

JERICHO, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian police officers in riot gear trained under the desert sun Tuesday as part of a European Union-sponsored public order course begun after a deadly clash between police and demonstrators last fall.

Palestinian instructors barked commands at a squad of men who stamped their boots and rapped their clubs on their shields as they advanced on an imaginary demonstration – a tactic designed to intimidate without bloodshed.

Next week, the 64 graduates of the 12-day course will report for duty in their hometown of Jenin, an unruly hotbed of militants and heavily armed gangs.

Read morePalestinian police get training in riot control

At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

Related articles:

Exposed: the great GM crops myth
:
“Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.”

BIODIVERSITY: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile

U.S. using food crisis to boost bio-engineered crops

From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya’s Intervention to Stop Farmers’ Suicides in Vidharbha

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Heather Meek leafs through the seed catalogue she wrote on the family computer, on winter nights after the kids went to bed.

There are Kahnawake Mohawk beans and Painted Mountain corn; Tante Alice cucumber and 40 varieties of heritage tomatoes.

Selling seeds is more than just an extra source of income on this organic farm an hour northwest of Montreal.

For Meek and partner Frederic Sauriol, propagating local varieties is part of a David and Goliath struggle by small farmers against big seed companies.

At stake, they believe, is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

Since the dawn of civilization, farmers have saved seeds from the harvest and replanted them the following year.

But makers of genetically modified (GM) seeds — introduced in 1996 and now grown by some 70,000 Canadian farmers, according to Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company — have been putting a stop to that practice.

The 12 million farmers worldwide who will plant GM seeds this year sign contracts agreeing not to save or replant seeds. That means they must buy new seeds every year.

Critics charge such contracts confer almost unlimited power over farmers’ lives to multinational companies whose priority is profit. They say GM seeds are sowing a humanitarian and ecological disaster.

But Trish Jordan, a Canadian spokesman for Monsanto, explains that requiring farmers to sign “technology use agreements” allows companies to recoup the cost of developing products.

“Farmers choose these products because of benefits they provide,” Jordan says. “That’s why we’re successful as a company.”

The debate over GM seeds has come into sharp focus as the world faces a food-price crisis that threatens to push millions into starvation.

Read moreAt stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

Telstra chief hosts conference as hologram


Telecommuting … Dr Hugh Bradlow appearing in Adelaide as a live hologram, and right, shaking hands with an executive / AAP

HE was slightly flat, a touch blurry and a smidge taller than reality but Telstra chief technology officer Dr Hugh Bradlow made a huge impression on his Adelaide audience today.

In an Australian first, Dr Bradlow’s life-sized, real-time hologram walked, talked and interacted with business executives at an Adelaide conference while he stood in front of cameras in Telstra’s Melbourne office.

Cameras and microphones in Adelaide allowed Dr Bradlow to see and hear his subjects from 725kms away as his audience watched his high definition image projected onto a transparent screen or “foil”.

The technology created by British company Musion Eyeliner has already enabled former US vice president Al Gore to speak to the Live Earth concert’s London audience from Tokyo and retailer Target to host a model-less virtual fashion show in New York last year.

UK band Gorillaz has also used Musion to give life to three-dimensional cartoon characters who performed their song at a 2005 MTV Awards concert in Portugal as rappers interacted with them live on stage.

But it’s not just for entertainment value, said Telstra enterprise and government group managing director David Thodey who shook “airhands” with Dr Bradlow during the function.

There are real applications for this “gee whiz” technology, he said.

He said companies wanting to reduce carbon emissions could replace business flights with live broadcasts.

Read moreTelstra chief hosts conference as hologram

Wartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007

The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.

Records show roughly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with the illness, also known as PTSD, since 2003. Officials believe that many more are likely keeping their illness a secret.

“I don’t think right now we … have good numbers,” Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said Tuesday.

Defense officials had not previously disclosed the number of PTSD cases from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army statistics showed there were nearly 14,000 newly diagnosed cases across the services in 2007 compared with more than 9,500 new cases the previous year and 1,632 in 2003.

Read moreWartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007

French fishermens’ fuel strikes set to go Europe-wide

Fishermen across western and southern Europe are threatening an open-ended strike from Wednesday in protest at rising fuel costs. Several ports in France have remained blocked for more than a week despite a government aid deal, and fishermen in the Spanish region of Catalonia began strike action yesterday.

Their colleagues across Spain, Portugal and Italy plan to join them tomorrow. The industry has seen marine diesel prices almost double in six months. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he’ll look for a cap in fuel sales tax across the EU. He told a French radio station this morning: “I will ask our European partners: if the price of oil continues to rise, shouldn’t we suspend the VAT tax part of oil prices?” For that to happen, all 27 EU members would need to agree.

However the European Commission has responded negatively to Sarkozy’s proposal, saying modifying tax levels on oil products to fight inflation would be sending a bad message to oil producing countries.

The French haulage industry has joined the fishermens’ protest, leading to some fuel depot blockades and fears of petrol shortages.

Read moreFrench fishermens’ fuel strikes set to go Europe-wide

Zbigniew Brzezinski: US suffers from Iran paranoia

Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says Washington has founded its Iran policy on ‘paranoia’ and ‘demagogy’.

“The widely propagated notion of a suicidal Iran detonating its very first nuclear weapon against Israel is more the product of paranoia or demagogy than of serious strategic calculus. It cannot be the basis for US policy, and it should not be for Israel’s, either,” Brzezinski wrote in an article published in the Washington Post on Tuesday.

He advised Washington to adopt a ‘more realistic policy’ and engage the Islamic Republic in direct negotiations instead of threatening the country with war.

Brzezinski explained that the US double standards on Iran’s uranium enrichment program are ineffective and more importantly illogical.

Alas, such a heavy-handed ‘sticks’ and ‘carrots’ policy may work with donkeys but not with serious countries. The United States would have a better chance of success if the White House abandoned its threats of military action and its calls for regime change,” the formal official asserted.

“Consider countries that could have quickly become nuclear weapon states had they been treated similarly. Brazil, Argentina and South Africa had nuclear weapons programs but gave them up, each for different reasons. Had the United States threatened to change their regimes if they would not, probably none would have complied,” he concluded.

Read moreZbigniew Brzezinski: US suffers from Iran paranoia

Atom-smashing lab says experiment to start end-June

European particle physics laboratory CERN is set to launch its gigantic experiment which hopes to throw light on the origins of the universe within a month, the laboratory’s head said Tuesday.

If things go according to plan, the greatest experiment in the history of particle physics could unveil a sub-atomic component, the Higgs Boson, known as “the God Particle.”

The “Higgs,” named after the eminent British physicist, Peter Higgs, who first proposed it in 1964, would fill a gaping hole in the benchmark theory for understanding the physical cosmos.

Other work on the so-called Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could explain dark matter and dark energy — strange phenomena that, stunned astrophysicists discovered a few years ago, account for 96 percent of the universe.

The LHC device “will be in working order by the end of June,” CERN director general Robert Aymar told journalists.

A gamble costing six billion Swiss francs (almost six billion dollars, 3.9 billion euros) that has harnessed the labours of more than 2,000 physicists from nearly three dozen countries, the LHC is the biggest, most powerful high-energy particle accelerator ever built.

Beams of hydrogen protons will whizz around at near-light speed in opposite directions until, bent by powerful superconducting magnets, they will smash together in four bus-sized detector chambers, where they will be annihilated at temperatures hotter than the sun.

But Aymar played down hopes of any immediate discoveries once the LHC is set in motion.

“We will accumulate data for two years and it will take a lot of time to interpret,” he said.

He also scoffed at fears that the massive experiment could create a black hole with potentially devastating consequences for life on Earth.

“The system is totally safe. There is nothing to fear,” he said.

May 27 02:29 PM US/Eastern

Source: AFP

IEA inquiry into whether oil supplies will run dry by 2012

The International Energy Agency has ordered an inquiry into whether the world could run out of oil in four years’ time, it was reported yesterday.

The IEA has concerns about what might happen in 2012, when demand for oil, boosted by the rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies, is expected to have reached 95 million barrels a day. Global supply at that point is projected at only 96 million barrels a day. Such a thin margin would be vulnerable to any sudden supply crisis in volatile countries such as Nigeria, Venezuela or Iraq, now estimated to have overtaken Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil nation.

The IEA said its inquiries would form part of short and long-term forecasts to be published in July and again in November. Its energy research chief, Lawrence Eagles, said: “Up to now we have believed that supply can cope with demand. One caveat is that we don’t know for certain whether estimates of reserves in countries such as Saudi Arabia are entirely accurate.”

John Waterlow, analyst at oil research consultancy Wood Mackenzie, commented: “Many oil-producing countries are closed, secretive societies where it can be difficult to pinpoint the level of provable reserves.”

The IEA’s inquiry follows last week’s new record high for black gold at $135 a barrel, fuelling inflation and possible world recession.

Read moreIEA inquiry into whether oil supplies will run dry by 2012

China Red Cross Officials Suspected of Embezzling Donations for Quake Victims

Reporting a fake number on the purchase receipt is a well known phenomenon of the systematic corruption that exists within the Chinese communist regime. But now, citizens are raising concerns that the same thing seems to be happening to money donations meant to be spent solely on helping people reconstruct their homes after the devastating disaster.

Local medicine retailers are speaking out, saying that a supervising body should be present to make sure all donated resources are being correctly utilized.

“There were two Red Cross officers from the Zhongjiang district trying to buy $10,000 worth of medicine from our shop for the earth quake victims, but they wanted us to write down a number that is five times higher than the true price. We refused, but the neighboring medical retailers gave way to these officers,” said one medicine retailer in an interview with NTDTV.

A local resident from Sichuan province said that more people have realized how much the CCP’s corruption has cost people’s lives.

“They’re even going for the rescue donations and resources. There is no trust left for the CCP at all,” said the resident.

Due to the concern over the ineffective supervision of Red Cross organizations in China, a number of people in China either escort the donated resources themselves to the quake area or hand it over to reliable community organizations. This has been the route chosen by two of the three largest web companies in China to donate their money. To avoid corruption, they’re taking an alternative way without having any contact with the CCP.

A China resident from Guang Xi province said that the corruption is an unavoidable result under a dictatorship. “The government is using its overwhelming control to have power over everything. There is no boundary for the government to act so there is no limitation on any form of corruption in China.”

New Tang Dynasty Television
May 26, 2008

Source: The Epoch Times

Home prices fell at record pace in first quarter: S&P

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Prices of single-family homes plunged a record 14.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking a pace five times faster than the last housing recession, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller national home price index reported on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.2 percent in March from February and plummeted a record 14.4 percent from March 2007.

Economists expected prices for the 20-city index to fall 2.0 percent on month and 14.0 percent from a year earlier, according to the median forecast in a Reuters survey.

“There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data,” David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said in a statement.

Falling home prices have become the scourge of the housing market that is seeing its worst downturn since the 1930s. Home values since last year have been dropping below balances owed on many mortgages, leaving borrowers with no equity and more likely to succumb to foreclosure.

The crisis in foreclosures, which pressure prices even lower, has spurred numerous plans by regulators and lawmakers that aim to keep borrowers in their homes by forgiving a portion of their loan’s principle.

Housing markets that grew the most during the housing boom, such as Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida, are leading the decline, S&P said.

S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 2.4 percent in March, for a record 15.3 percent year-over-year drop.

(Reporting by Al Yoon, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Tue May 27, 2008 11:09am EDT

Source: Reuters

WCI student isolates microbe that lunches on plastic bags

Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true.

After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them.

Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster — in three months, he figures.

Daniel Burd’s project won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. He came back with a long list of awards, including a $10,000 prize, a $20,000 scholarship, and recognition that he has found a practical way to help the environment.

Daniel, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, got the idea for his project from everyday life.

“Almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me,” he said. “One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags.”

The answer: not much. So he decided to do something himself.

He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic — not an easy task because they don’t exist in high numbers in nature.

First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.

Read moreWCI student isolates microbe that lunches on plastic bags

How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse

Peter Schiff is the author of the book: Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse

Source: You Tube

(Preparedness is everything! Have a closer look at the World Situation and the Solution.
– The Infinite Unknown)

Medical Tyranny: Patient Refuses Rectal Exam, Doctor Won’t Butt Out

(NaturalNews) Many people are under the impression that patients in the U.S. have the right to decline treatment if they are mentally competent and aware of the consequences of such a refusal. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case if you visit certain hospitals. A construction worker who was hit in the head while on the job was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he received eight stitches above his left eyebrow. When a doctor informed him that he needed to have a rectal exam in order to ascertain whether or not he sustained a spinal injury, the patient flatly refused the treatment.

What happened next is scary. While hospital personnel tried to hold the patient down in order to administer the exam anyway, very much against the patient’s wishes, the patient accidentally hit a doctor while trying to break loose. Unfortunately, the hospital staff did not wish to take “no” for an answer, and the patient was drugged and later awoke with a tube in his throat and lubricant in his rectum, handcuffed to a bed. It seems doctors have the authority to decide to ignore the wishes of a patient if they feel the patient is incapable of making an informed decision.

While it might be reasonable to give doctors some latitude in these matters, the story doesn’t seem to make sense. If the patient was truly unable to make an informed decision about his medical care, why were misdemeanor assault charges filed against him for hitting the doctor? Surely a patient who was incapable of rational thought should not be held accountable if he were truly not thinking clearly and only acting out due to an injury? Curiously, they all thought he was thinking clearly enough to have him arrested for his actions but not clearly enough to have the right to informed consent concerning his care.

Just how necessary is a rectal exam when someone sustains a head injury, anyway? Clearly, not everyone who sustains a head injury and goes to an emergency room receives a rectal exam, and some medical professionals say that there are less invasive procedures that can be used to determine the neurological status of a patient. The patient in this case was quite responsive. He knew what exam the doctors wanted to do, and he knew why. His lawyer insists that things should’ve come to a halt the moment he said “no.”

What is most disturbing to health freedom advocates is that the patient did not prevail in his lawsuit against the hospital. Hopefully, his lawyers will file an appeal. If any neurological testing needs to be done, perhaps it would best be done on the jury members who apparently have butts where their brains should be.

References:

(http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gn7nIqTvF7zSx6NAjqcHp5xD5AUAD906RT180)

(http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/lawsuit/)

About the author

Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She runs the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Source: Natural News

FILE SHARING: Anti-piracy strategy will help government to spy, critic says

Fears raised changes could lead to policing of legal activities like buying DVDs online

The way Canadians use the Internet and technology – from downloading music to buying new cellphones – could face unprecedented restrictions under new federal policies that critics say are being decided behind closed doors.

The Conservative government has been involved in international talks in recent months to develop an international anti-counterfeiting strategy to reduce Internet piracy and the flow of counterfeit goods. But critics say that instead of cracking down on rogue Internet users heavily involved in illegal file sharing, the agreement seems poised to dramatically increase the government’s ability to police the activities of Canadians, even when they legally purchase music files, DVDs and electronic equipment such as cellphones and personal video recorders.

“This is an attempt here to create a very broad umbrella that strikes at the very heart of every day activities for millions of Canadians,” said Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair of Internet and e-commerce law.

The issue is gaining significant momentum after a discussion paper on the anti-counterfeiting strategy that purportedly originated with the U.S. government was leaked on the Internet a few days ago. One of the most contentious proposals is to “encourage” Internet service providers to monitor the online activities of their customers and report activity that may infringe copyright law – a move that amounts to spying and could undermine the privacy of Canadians, Prof. Geist said.

The changes may also give border guards the authority to search laptops and personal music recorders to look for any illegally obtained material.

Read moreFILE SHARING: Anti-piracy strategy will help government to spy, critic says

BIODIVERSITY: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile

BONN, May 22 (IPS) – Seeds were once for ever. After harvest, a few from the crop would be planted for the following year, and so it went on.

Now, biochemical industry giants are making seeds themselves infertile. You sow them this year, and that’s it. For next year’s crop, you need brand new seeds — you would have to buy them, of course.

Twenty-five years ago, there were at least 7,000 seed growers worldwide, and none of them controlled more than one percent of the global market. Today, after a takeover spree, 10 major biochemical multinationals, including Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer Cropsciencie, BASF, and Dow Agrosciences, control more than 50 percent of the seeds market.

“The goal of these companies is, of course, to make profits,” Benedict Haerling, researcher at the German non-governmental organisation Future of Agriculture, told IPS. “In order to improve their profits, they all apply one strategy to increase their control of the market: they impose upon farmers worldwide the so-called vertical integration of inputs, from seeds to fertilisers to pesticides, all from one brand.” Compulsory customer loyalty, you might call it.

And through biochemical manipulation, including genetic modifications, many companies have made sure the harvest you obtain cannot be sown again.

Such “vertical integration of agricultural inputs” has transformed agriculture in developing countries into a two-class business, Angelika Hillbeck, researcher on bio-safety and agriculture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich told IPS.

“In the developing countries there is a class of farmers with large plantations and enough money who can afford to buy all inputs from the major biochemical companies, from seeds and fertilisers to pesticides and conservatives.” But there are small farmers for whom the biochemical markets are out of reach.

Hillbeck and Haerling are scientific counsellors to non-governmental organisations and associations of small farmers in developing countries who are attending the UN conference on biological diversity in Bonn.

The conference aims at reviewing international compliance with the targets adopted in 2002 to significantly reduce the rate of decimation of species at the global and national level by 2010. It is also set to formulate binding international rules on legal measures to stop the loss of biodiversity.

Read moreBIODIVERSITY: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile

Bin police force residents to hand over personal medical details

Families are furious about plans by a council’s bin police to question them about their medical history.

Officials in Plymouth, Devon, are to send a questionnaire to every household asking them to give intimate personal details about their family.

Householders are also being asked to nominate one person who will take legal responsibility for anything put in their bins.

The council is even asking how many children families have and whether they use disposable nappies.

The forms are to be sent to all homes in the city as part of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on bins.

The council wants to increase fixed penalties from £50 to £110 for those who put bins out early, fail to recycle, overfill wheelie bins or put the wrong rubbish in the wrong containers.

They are asking each household to nominate one person as responsible so it will be easier for them to prosecute without having to prove who put out the offending bins.

The council is also considering interviewing suspected bin offenders under caution in procedures similar to the way police question criminals.

The draft letter, which has been seen by opposition councilors, also asks how many people live at each address, whether they have any medical conditions and if their families use disposable nappies.

Officials from the Conservative-run council hope the information sent back by families will make it easier to prosecute or impose fixed penalties.

It follows the failure of a pioneering prosecution by Exeter City Council 45 miles away which failed because they could not prove that household waste in a recycling bin was put there by the householder.

More…

The draft letter to all homes in Plymouth will set out what is and is not allowed in each type of bin.

Read moreBin police force residents to hand over personal medical details

George Soros: rocketing oil price is a bubble

Speculators are largely responsible for driving crude prices to their peaks in recent weeks and the record oil price now looks like a bubble, George Soros has warned.

The billionaire investor’s comments came only days after the oil price soared to a record high of $135 a barrel amid speculation that crude could soon be catapulted towards the $200 mark.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Soros said that although the weak dollar, ebbing Middle Eastern supply and record Chinese demand could explain some of the increase in energy prices, the crude oil market had been significantly affected by speculation.

Telegraph TV: George Soros on oil prices
Telegraph TV: George Soros on oil prices

“Speculation… is increasingly affecting the price,” he said. “The price has this parabolic shape which is characteristic of bubbles,” he said.

  • ‘We face the most serious recession of our lifetime’
  • The comments are significant, not only because Mr Soros is the world’s most prominent hedge fund investor but also because many experts have claimed speculation is only a minor factor affecting crude prices.

    Oil prices stalled on Friday after their biggest one-day jump since the first Gulf War earlier in the week.

    At just over $130 a barrel, the price has doubled in around a year, causing misery for motorists and businesses.

    However, Mr Soros warned that the oil bubble would not burst until both the US and Britain were in recession, after which prices could fall dramatically.

    Read moreGeorge Soros: rocketing oil price is a bubble

    Tories plan boot camps for jobless youths

    A future Conservative government will bring in “boot camps” for unemployed young people aged between 18 and 21 who refuse to take a job, Chris Grayling, the party’s welfare spokesman, will say tomorrow.

    In a significant hardening of Conservative policy towards welfare claimants, he will announce the abolition of benefit payments for any able-bodied person under 21 who is out of work for more than three months and who refuses to go on a compulsory community service programme or a “boot camp” training course aimed at improving their work discipline and giving them basic skills to get a job.

    Grayling plans to ask private sector companies and voluntary organisations to run the intensive training centres – with the £5,000 it costs to support a single person on the dole being offered to the company or voluntary group once the person has been in work for one year. Individuals will be expected to report to the centre every day for an intensive training programme.

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    Carter says Israel has arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons

    Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said Israel holds at least 150 nuclear weapons, the first time a U.S. president has publicly acknowledged Israel’s atomic arsenal.

    Asked at a news conference at Wales’s Hay literary festival on Sunday how a future U.S. president should deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, Carter put the risk in context by listing atomic weapons held globally.

    “The U.S. has more more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union (Russia) has about the same, Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more. We have a phalanx of enormous weaponry … not only of enormous weaponry but of rockets to deliver those missiles on a pinpoint accuracy target,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

    Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth,” according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

    Carter said in reference to the situation of Palestinians in Gaza that, “There is no reason to treat these people this way.”

    The 83-year-old was subjected to criticism on a recent visit to Israel for his meetings with officials from Palestinian militant group Hamas as well as his trip to Syria where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.

    He has also in the past branded a “crime and an atrocity” the Israeli blockade of Gaza, imposed in response to ongoing rocket attacks launched from the territory.

    Related articles:

  • Our debt to Jimmy Carter
  • Ex-U.S. President Carter answers questions from Haaretz Editor-in-Chief
  • Jimmy Carter: Israel’s ‘apartheid’ policies worse than South Africa’s
  • Last update – 21:23 26/05/2008

    Source: Haaretz.com

    Israeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

    The Israeli siege of Gaza that has restricted access to food, water, and medicine is beginning to cause serious problems for newborn babies and pregnant mothers. “Many babies are born suffering from anemia that they have inherited from their mothers,” said Dr. Salah al-Rantisi, head of the women’s health department at the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza. The mothers are becoming anemic because they do not get enough nutrition during pregnancy due to the Israeli blockade that has choked the supply of food and medicines.

    Dr. al-Rantisi also heads the women’s health unit at Nasser hospital, where 30 to 40 children are born every day. Many suffer from anemia, he said.

    Anwaar Abu Daqqa, 30, has lost three babies prematurely. The fetuses were malformed as a result of lack of nutrition and medicine for the mother, Dr. al-Rantisi said. In the last case, Daqqa got to the hospital late because she could not find transport. “Premature babies born dangerously underweight are a daily and increasing phenomenon in Gaza’s hospitals,” he said.

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