A White House task force that was supposed to devise a federal plan to research the issue of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has missed its deadline and failed to produce mandated reports and recommendations for coordination among numerous federal agencies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
More than 70 pages of the task force’s documents, including e-mails and weekly reports, were released under the Freedom of Information Act as a Senate subcommittee prepares to convene a hearing Tuesday prompted by an AP investigation about trace concentrations of drugs in America’s drinking water.
ABORIGINAL children were injected with leprosy treatments in a medical testing program that used members of the Stolen Generation as guinea pigs, a Senate Committee has heard.
Greens Senator Bob Brown said he was “shocked and alarmed” by the claims, heard today by the Senate legal and constitutional committee’s inquiry into a Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008.
On the first day of hearings in Darwin today, Kathleen Mills from the Stolen Generations Alliance said the public did not know the full extent of what happened to some children.
And efforts to obtain records that support the claims, such as that children were injected with serums to gauge their reaction to the medication, had been hampered, she said.
“These are the things that have not been spoken about,” Ms Mills told the inquiry.
“As well as being taken away, they were used … there are a lot of things that Australia does not know about.”
Outside the inquiry, Ms Mills said her uncle had been a medical orderly at the Kahlin Compound in Darwin.
She said he told her that children were used as “guinea pigs” for leprosy treatments.
“He said it made our people very, very ill … the treatment almost killed them,” she said.
NEW YORK (AP) — Crude oil prices rose to within a penny of $114 a barrel Tuesday, setting a new record as concerns mounted about global supplies. U.S. retail gasoline and diesel prices also struck new highs.Traders honed in on a report by the International Energy Agency that said Russian oil production dropped this year for the first time in a decade. The report raised concerns about whether the key oil-producing nation will have enough supply to help feed growing global demand.
“In an emotionally driven market like we’ve got now, it just doesn’t take much in the way of a headline to prompt a psychological response,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Ill.
“Children will be suffering from malnutrition” … a UN peacekeeper with locals in Port-au-Prince,
where hunger-provoked protests and looting have left six dead. Photo: AP
THE poorest countries face starvation and civil unrest if global food prices keep rising, says the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Hundreds of thousands of people would starve, he said in Washington. “Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives.”
He predicted that rising food prices would push up the cost of imports for poor countries, leading to trade imbalances that might also affect developed nations.
“It is not only a humanitarian question,” he said.
Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by rising demand, poor weather and an increase in the area of land used to grow crops for biofuels.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says 37 countries face food crisis. The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, urged members on Sunday to provide $US500 million ($540 million) by May 1 to help alleviate the problem.
“The only thing that worries me permanently about the China story is water.
I’ve been around the world twice. I’ve seen many cities, societies, [and] nations that disappeared because the water disappeared. China has a huge water problem. In Northern China, they’re running out of water. They know this and they’re working on it, big time. But if they don’t solve it, or if they don’t solve it in time, then China – as you put it – has failed.
By the way, Northern India has the same problem, only worse. Many places have it now. Water is becoming a huge problem worldwide. The same is true in the Southwestern United States. You know, you may have Arizona going to war with California. Some sections of Nevada, Colorado …they’re desperate there.
So it’s not just China – but water’s the main thing that worries me about China.”
(As I said: In ten years the glaciers in the Himalaya region will be gone and 50% of the worlds population will have not enough or no water at all. The governments know this and they won’t sit & wait and do nothing about it. There will be World Water Wars.
And if China where to lose a million soldiers in a war so what. To them their soldiers have the same worth than to the US their soldiers in Iraq: They are considered as canon fodder.
If you think that this is wrong than I recommend the movie “NO End In Sight” (2007) as a first eye-opener.
Please read the whole article. – The Infinite Unknown)
Our previous posts on the mysterious bee disappearances (here, here, and here) have been a very interesting exercise. We’ve had great feedback from farmers, amateur and professional beekeepers, scientists, and dozens of other interested/concerned observers. In the meantime, accumulating reports tell us that the problem is not constrained to the U.S. alone – but that, to one degree or another, empty hives are becoming common in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, and now possibly the UK. Canada, so far, seems unsure if they have the problem, or not. We’ve now also had unconfirmed reports from Brazil.
Personally, I believe situations like this are an opportune moment for reflection – a time to humbly consider a few realities, and perhaps learn a few lessons. Of significance to me is the fact that scientists haven’t got this figured out as yet. It begs the question – which is easier, when dealing with the infinitely complex interactions of nature: 1) predicting specific consequences to our ‘tinkering’ before they occur, or 2) understanding how something happened after-the-fact? I would have thought the latter was the easiest – you know the old saying, “hindsight is a wonderful thing”. Looking back at the results, following the trail of clues, is a lot less challenging than postulating over what could happen. Or, to put it into a framework that might be better understood – if Sherlock Holmes, expert in crime scene deductions, were to turn his attention to predicting crimes rather than solving them, how would he have fared? Short of the kind of psychic predictive skills seen in Minority Report-type science fiction movies, I don’t expect he’d fare so well.
What am I on about, you ask? Simply this – too many people hand scientists the keys to the car, as it were, and bid them take it wherever their employer wishes. Our governments do this, and too many either encourage it, or stand by and let it happen. When the PR departments that front these scientists portray a glorious new world where man manages to, with perfect and meticulous coordination, juggle all the intricacies of the natural world in one hand, whilst cashing in on it and providing world peace and equality with the other – we believe it. Yet, how can we have so much confidence in their ability to read the future, when they are unable to decipher the past and present – a task that should be a damned sight simpler, no?
As Australians are benefiting from an export boom in bees to the U.S., and while the best recommendations from the groups that have been tasked with finding solutions to these problems are to advise which chemicals to use and which not to (PDF), I will list some of the possible causes for the present pollination crisis below (I call it a pollination crisis here, rather than a honeybee crisis, because there are other pollinators that would be lending us a hand – if we hadn’t driven them into exile):
Another profit center for pharma
Gardasil is an immunization against a “disease” that often has no symptoms and usually resolves itself.
Marketers of the vaccine imply it helps prevent cervical cancer. This is scientifically false. Furthermore, cervical cancer is already substantially on the decline.
What is true is that if you introduce Gardasil into a person who already has HPV you dramatically increase their odds of developing pre-cancerous cell behavior.
So why are the marketers of this vaccine working with crooked politicians to make Gardasil injections mandatory for young girls?
It’s garbage science and bogus public health all in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department’s new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities — such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.
Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.
Ron Paul lays out some tough questions, and only asks for an immediate response to one of them. The question was whether President Bush could bomb Iran without the approval of Congress. However, Petraeus avoids answering, even though surely a Four-Star General should know whether it is legal to bomb a country without the approval of Congress or not.
(AXcess News) – Gas pumps in the United States tell the same story as rice prices in Thailand: Inflation is a global phenomenon this year.
Oil hit a record $112 per barrel this week, and a United Nations official warned of continued pressure on food prices, which by one index are up 45 percent in the past year.
The challenges are worst in developing nations, where raw materials account for a larger share of consumer spending. But another factor – the sagging value of the US dollar – means that imports cost more in America and other nations that peg their currencies to the dollar.
Still, regardless of this currency phenomenon, several broad forces are pushing prices up.
After years of strong global economic growth, prices of oil, grains, and some metals have spiked. Investors are adding fuel to that fire by buying up hard assets like commodities, which are viewed as a hedge against inflation.
More fundamentally, many nations have been relatively loose in the creation of money supply. For all the news about interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, this trend goes well beyond US shores.
Officials on Monday confirmed that 78,000 new council-issued bins in the eastern suburbs of Sydney have been fitted with small radio frequency tags, which allow for data collection.
Each bin will transmit a unique identification code to the rubbish truck which weighs and empties it each week, allowing officials to identify how much waste is produced at each address.
Imagine a world of streets lined with video cameras that alert authorities to any suspicious activity. A world where police officers can read the minds of potential criminals and arrest them before they commit any crimes. A world in which a suspect who lies under questioning gets nabbed immediately because his brain has given him away.
Though that may sound a lot like the plot of the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise and based on a Philip K. Dick novel, I’m not talking about science fiction here; it turns out we’re not so far away from that world. But does it sound like a very safe place, or a very scary one?
It’s a question I think we should be asking as the federal government invests millions of dollars in emerging technology aimed at detecting and decoding brain activity. And though government funding focuses on military uses for these new gizmos, they can and do end up in the hands of civilian law enforcement and in commercial applications. As spending continues and neurotechnology advances, that imagined world is no longer the stuff of science fiction or futuristic movies, and we postpone at our peril confronting the ethical and legal dilemmas it poses for a society that values not just personal safety but civil liberty as well.
Consider Cernium Corp.’s “Perceptrak” video surveillance and monitoring system, recently installed by Johns Hopkins University, among others. This technology grew out of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense — to develop intelligent video analytics systems. Unlike simple video cameras monitored by security guards, Perceptrak integrates video cameras with an intelligent computer video. It uses algorithms to analyze streaming video and detect suspicious activities, such as people loitering in a secure area, a group converging or someone leaving a package unattended. Since installing Perceptrak, Johns Hopkins has reported a 25 percent reduction in crime.
But that’s only the beginning. Police may soon be able to monitor suspicious brain activity from a distance as well. New neurotechnology soon may be able to detect a person who is particularly nervous, in possession of guilty knowledge or, in the more distant future, to detect a person thinking, “Only one hour until the bomb explodes.” Today, the science of detecting and decoding brain activity is in its infancy. But various government agencies are funding the development of technology to detect brain activity remotely and are hoping to eventually decode what someone is thinking. Scientists, however, wildly disagree about the accuracy of brain imaging technology, what brain activity may mean and especially whether brain activity can be detected from afar.
Yet as the experts argue about the scientific limitations of remote brain detection, this chilling science fiction may already be a reality. In 2002, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring devices for airports and was seeking to use noninvasive sensors in passenger gates to collect the electronic signals emitted by passengers’ brains. Scientists scoffed at the reports, arguing that to do what NASA was proposing required that an electroencephalogram (EEG) be physically attached to the scalp.
ROME (Reuters) – Food riots in developing countries will spread unless world leaders take major steps to reduce prices for the poor, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.
Despite a forecast 2.6 percent hike (This is disinformation.) in global cereal output this year, record prices are unlikely to fall, forcing poorer countries’ food import bills up 56 percent and hungry people on to the streets, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said.
“The reality is that people are dying already in the riots,” Diouf told a news conference.
“They are dying because of their reaction to the situation and if we don’t take the necessary action there is certainly the possibility that they might die of starvation. Naturally people won’t be sitting dying of starvation, they will react.”
The FAO said food riots had broken out in several African countries, Indonesia, the Philippines and Haiti. Thirty-seven countries face food crises, it said in its latest World Food Situation report.
KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday.
Top finance and development officials from around the world called in Washington on Sunday for urgent action to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest will spread unless the cost of basic staples is contained.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries with half its 25 million people living below the poverty line.
Wheat prices in Afghanistan have risen by an average of 60 percent over the last year with certain areas seeing a rise of up to 80 percent, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said.
On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural TV channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.
I highly recommend this video. This is so important.
George Soros will not go quietly.
At the age of 77, Mr. Soros, one the world’s most successful investors and richest men, leapt out of retirement last summer to safeguard his fortune and legacy. Alarmed by the unfolding crisis in the financial markets, he once again began trading for his giant hedge fund — and won big while so many others lost.
Mr. Soros has always been a controversial figure. But he is becoming more so with a new, dire forecast for the world economy. Last week he rushed out a book, his 10th, warning that the financial pain has only just begun.
“I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,” Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday in his office overlooking Central Park. A “superbubble” that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said.
A family who were wrongly suspected of lying on a school application form have discovered that their local council used anti-terrorism surveillance powers to spy on them.
The family, from Poole in Dorset, said they had been tailed for three weeks by council officials trying to establish whether they had given a false address in an attempt to get their three-year-old daughter a place at a heavily oversubscribed local nursery school, which their two older children had attended. The family had in fact done nothing wrong, and the investigation was eventually aborted.
Yesterday it emerged that Poole borough council had legitimately used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to monitor the family. This involved keeping a detailed log of their movements for two weeks, following the mother’s car as she took her three children to school each day and even watching the family home to ascertain their sleeping habits.
The Act, passed in 2000, was supposed to allow security agencies to combat terrorism.
The 39-year-old mother, a businesswoman who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I can’t imagine a greater invasion of our privacy. I’m incensed that legislation designed to combat terrorism can be turned on a three-year-old. It was very creepy when we found out that people had been watching us and making notes. Councils should be protecting children, not spying on them.”
The council defended its right to investigate families in a covert manner, saying it had used the law twice in the past year to successfully prove parents were lying about where they lived.
By Chris Green
Friday, 11 April 2008
Source: The Independent
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – The Bush administration and Republican allies in Congress are again pushing for seed money to explore options for putting a multibillion-dollar layer of ballistic-missile interceptors in space.
Last year, the Democratic-controlled Congress rejected the administration’s request for $10 million to resume studies on the idea, first floated in the 1980s as part of then-President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
Derided by critics as “Star Wars,” the concept has been embraced by missile-defense backers as potentially more effective than sea- and ground-based parts of an emerging shield against missiles that could be tipped with chemical, germ or nuclear warheads.
(GRANTS PASS, Ore.) – Scientists listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes off central Oregon, something that often happens before a volcanic eruption – except there are no volcanoes in the area.
Scientists don’t know exactly what the earthquakes mean, but they could be the result of molten rock rumbling away from the recognized earthquake faults off Oregon, said Robert Dziak, a geophysicist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon State University.
There have been more than 600 quakes over the past 10 days in a basin 150 miles southwest of Newport. The biggest was magnitude 5.4, and two others were more than magnitude 5.0, OSU reported.
The big problem with inflation is that people get low blood sugar when they are hungry, and soon their moods turn sour. I know this for a fact because if breakfast or brunch or lunch or coffee break or dinner or any snack is five minutes late, I involuntarily turn into a screaming monster from hell demanding to know who stole my food and vowing bloody revenge. I can only imagine the anger when hunger is caused because someone can’t afford to buy food!
This “inability to buy food” is one of the problems with inflation, and that ugliness is now here, as we read from Bloomberg.com that “The World Bank in Washington says 33 nations from Mexico to Yemen may face ‘social unrest’ after food and energy costs increased for six straight years.” Hahaha! No kidding?
World Bank chief Robert Zoellick says, “Thirty-three countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices”, and that since 2005, “the prices of staples have jumped 80%”.
Like what? Like corn and wheat, which are making the news by rising like crazy, and the latest food emergency is that “Rice, the staple food for half the world,” is now double the price of a year ago, and a fivefold increase from 2001. Yikes!
100% inflation in the price of rice in one year! And 500% in seven years! Yikes again! No wonder that Jody Clarke at MoneyWeek.com reports that “Since January 2005 the average price of a loaf of bread in the US has risen 32%. Overall, US retail food prices rose 4 % last year, the biggest jump in 17 years, says the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile restaurant owners have been even harder hit, with wholesale price increases of 7.4%. That’s the biggest jump in nearly three decades, according to the National Restaurant Association.”
And worse yet for us alcohol-besotted worthless lushes out here, heroically keeping bartenders and comely barmaids gainfully employed year around, the price of hops, an integral ingredient in beer making, has soared from $4 a pound to $40.
The Marketbasket Survey, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, says a basket of things like bread, milk, eggs and pork chops will cost you $3.50, or 8.9%, more this year than last. Both a five-pound bag of flour and a dozen eggs are up over 40% since January 2007.“
As Finance Ministers Convene Here, Multiple Crises Test Their Ability to Cope
Financial markets are tumbling. The world economy is starting to sputter. Food prices have shot up so far, so fast, that there are riots in the streets of many poor nations.
It’s a hard time to be one of the masters of the global economy.
Those leaders — finance ministers from all over the world — are gathering in Washington this weekend to sort out their reactions to the most profound global economic crises in at least a decade. The situation could reveal the limitations that international economic institutions face in dealing with the risks inherent to global capitalism.
“There’s got to be something coming out of the weekend, a way to visibly assume public responsibility for trying to limit the damage that financial markets can do to our society,” said Colin Bradford, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The pressure is on politicians this weekend to come up with an answer. . . . What is the power structure going to do about this?”
The Group of Seven finance ministers of major industrialized countries meet today, and the governing boards of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will meet tomorrow and Sunday. Their agendas: in the case of the G-7 and IMF, countering the breakdown in financial markets; in the case of the World Bank, food inflation that threatens to drive more of the world’s poorest people into starvation.
Llosa del cavall reservoir in Sant Llorencs de Morunys, north of Solsona
Spain is suffering its worst drought in more than four decades, pitting the country’s regions against each other in a fierce battle over water resources.
There has been 40 per cent less rain than usual since October 1 across the nation as a whole, according to the Meteorology Institute, although in some regions the impact has been far worse. Mediterranean regions such as Catalonia and Valencia have been the worst affected – they have had less rain than at any time since 1912.
Farmers in Catalonia fear they could lose their crops altogether if it does not rain in coming weeks, and Britons with homes on the coast could soon face restrictions on water.
The situation in Barcelona – Catalonia’s capital and top tourist draw – could soon become critical. Water reserves there are at 19 per cent of capacity – they must be shut down when they reach 15 per cent because there is too much sediment near the bottom. José Montilla, president of Catalonia, said: “We must prepare for the worst.”
Would you want other people to know, all day long, exactly where you are, right down to the street corner or restaurant?
Unsettling as that may sound to some, wireless carriers are betting that many of their customers do, and they’re rolling out services to make it possible.
Sprint Nextel Corp. has signed up hundreds of thousands of customers for a feature that shows them where their friends are with colored marks on a map viewable on their cellphone screens. Now, Verizon Wireless is gearing up to offer such a service in the next several weeks to its 65 million customers, people familiar with it say.
WSJ’s Jessica Vascellaro tests out Loopt’s new buddy-tracking device to see whether it’s helpful for hooking up with friends or just another invasion of privacy.
Making this people-tracking possible is that cellphones today come embedded with Global Positioning System technology. With it, carriers have already offered mapping features such as turn-by-turn driving instructions. But they long hesitated to offer another breakthrough made possible by GPS — tracking of cellphone users’ whereabouts in real time — because of privacy and liability concerns.
WASHINGTON — President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney both signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, news agencies have learned.
The Associated Press reported earlier that senior Bush administration officials took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.
However, ABC News is now reporting that President Bush himself was aware of the discussions and approved the controversial interrogation tactics himself.
“Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News. “And, yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”