UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.

The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world’s wheat.

The FAO warned stated east of Iran — Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to be on high alert.

Scientists and international organizations focused on controlling wheat stem rust have said 90 percent of world wheat lines are susceptible to Ug99. The situation is particularly critical in light of the existing worldwide wheat shortage.

The fungus causes dark orange pustules on stems and leaves of infected plants. The pustules can completely girdle stems, damaging their conducting tissue and preventing grain fill. Yield losses may reach 70 percent, while some fields are totally destroyed. If stem rust arrives early in the growing cycle, losses are higher. Spores released by the fungal pustules are spread by the wind and may travel great distances in storms.

Word of the new wheat disease comes amid global shortages of rice and wheat resulting from typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam. Last year Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure, heavy rains reduced production in Europe, Argentina suffered heavy frost, and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields.

Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal in recent months.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Source: World Tribune

Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.

There is a time for food, and a time for ethical appraisals. This was the case even before Bertolt Brecht gave life to that expression in Die Driegroschen Oper. The time for a reasoned, coherent understanding for the growing food crisis is not just overdue, but seemingly past. Robert Zoellick of the World Bank, an organization often dedicated to flouting, rather than achieving its claimed goal of poverty reduction, stated the problem in Davos in January this year. ‘Hunger and malnutrition are the forgotten Millennium Development Goal.’

Global food prices have gone through the roof, terrifying the 3 billion or so people who live off less than $2 a day. This should terrify everybody else. In November, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reported that food prices had suffered a 18 percent inflation in China, 13 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10 percent or more in Latin America, Russia and India. The devil in the detail is even more distressing: a doubling in the price of wheat, a twenty percent increase in the price of rice, an increase by half in maize prices.

Read moreFood Riots are Coming to the U.S.

China executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty

China is executing at least nine prisoners a week and sentencing a further 35 to death, according to Amnesty International.

In a report published today, the human rights group says that while China tries to keep the figures a state secret, the country put to death at least 470 people last year, making it the world’s most prolific executioner,

At least 1,252 people were executed in 24 different countries last year, while 3,347 were sentenced to death in 51 countries. Amnesty adds that some 27,500 people are now on death row around the world.

Second to China was Iran with 317 executions, followed by Saudi Arabia on 143, Pakistan on 135 and the United States on 42.

Read moreChina executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty

Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits

Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation.

Ears of wheat growing in a field. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a “new face of hunger”.

Read moreFeed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits

Hayden: White Boy al-Qaeda on the Rise

“Al-Qaeda, in its haven in western Pakistan, is training operatives who are ‘western’ in appearance, making it easier for them to get past U.S. airport security, Central Intelligence Director Michael Hayden said,” reports Bloomberg.

Does anybody who looks “western” have an easy time getting past airport security? Mr. Hayden needs to visit an airport and see for himself — just about everybody, from grandmothers to toddlers, are under suspicion, even if they look Scandinavian. It has nothing to do with actual suspicion. It has to do with sending a message: you live in a police state now, get used to it, and if you don’t want to end up dead in a holding cell like Carol Ann Gotbaum, you’ll submit and not complain.

Of course, Mr. Hayden, as the head honcho of the CIA, is “catapulting the propaganda,” as Bush might call it. Now that al-Qaeda operatives look like stock brokers and cashiers at the local Stop ‘n Gas, we need to push ahead with the control grid, now only partially in place. Our rulers think we need to hear this kind of nonsense every few weeks, just to remind us and get us accustomed to those CCTV cameras everywhere and the NSA vacuuming up our telephone conversations and emails. It’s all to protect us from the white boy al-Qaeda.

Read moreHayden: White Boy al-Qaeda on the Rise

Cheney Moves Forward with Plans to Nuke Iran

While everyone is focused on celebretard drivel, the failing economy, the outrageous price of oil (after Iraq goes down in flame with 4,000-plus Americans who lost their lives for what exactly?), and the slimy campaign shenanigans, the Bushbots are quietly ramping up plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.

exxxxallent.jpgUnreported in corporate media:burnsapproves.jpg Cheney is currently running around the Middle East drumming up war on Iran. (Lots more on this here, here, here, and here). But this hellacious old man hasn’t even finished his other two wars yet: Is the “surge” in Iraq about to unravel?

Good lord. McCain has a 67-percent approval rating as Democrats squabble. If he’s elected, that means eight more years of genocidal horrors. But the complicit corporate media will never tell you what’s really going on while we sleep.

Journalists have been writing about the effects of a nuclear attack on Iran for years. It’s in the interest of every human being on earth to read Nuclear Bunker Buster Bombs against Iran: This Way Lies Madness

An estimated 16-20 million Iranians would die in a nuclear war with Israel, according to a report issued by a respected Washington think tank.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also estimates that between 200,000 and 800,000 Israelis would be killed, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The report, which is theoretical and based on limited verified knowledge of Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear capability, paints a bleak picture for both nations.
On March 22 Chris Floyd wrote a frightening piece, One Foot in the Grave, Iran Attack Nearer, More Likely Than Most Suspect.

Then on March 23 he wrote Saudis Prepare for “Sudden Nuclear Hazards” After Cheney Visit.

Read it and freak:

I. One Tick Closer to Midnight

Last Friday, Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia for high-level meetings with the Saudi king and his ministers. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council — the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle — is preparing “national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors,” one of the kingdom’s leading newspapers, Okaz, reports. The German-based dpa news service relayed the paper’s story.

Simple prudence — or ominous timing? We noted here last week that an American attack on Iran was far more likely — and more imminent — than most people suspect. We pointed to the mountain of evidence for this case gathered by scholar William R. Polk, one of the top aides to John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to other indicators of impending war. The story by Okaz — which would not have appeared in the tightly controlled dictatorship without approval from the top — is yet another, very weighty piece of evidence laid in the scales toward a new, horrendous conflict. We don’t know what the Saudis told Cheney in private — or even more to the point, what he told. But the release of this story now, just after his departure, would seem to be a clear indication that the Saudis have good reason to fear a looming attack on Iran’s nuclear sites and are actively preparing for it. And they certainly should be bracing themselves. A U.S. attack on Iran will come suddenly, and if it is indeed aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities — a “threat” being talked up again with new urgency by both Cheney and Bush lately — it has the potential for unimaginable consequences. As we noted here in a previous piece:

Twelve hours. One circuit of the sun from horizon to horizon, one course of the moon from dusk to dawn. What was once a natural measurement for the daily round of human life is now a doom-laden interval between the voicing of an autocrat’s brutal whim and the infliction of mass annihilation halfway around the world. Twelve hours is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and launch an unprovoked sneak attack – a Pearl Harbor in reverse – against Iran, the Washington Post reports. The plan for this “global strike,” which includes a very viable “nuclear option,” was approved months ago, and is now in operation. The planes are already on continuous alert, making “nuclear delivery” practice runs along the Iranian border, as Sy Hersh reports in the New Yorker, and waiting only for the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets spread throughout the condemned land. And when this attack comes – either as a stand-alone “knock-out blow” or else as the precusor to a full-scale, regime-changing invasion, like the earlier aggression in Iraq – there will be no warning, no declaration of war, no hearings, no public debate. The already issued orders governing the operation put the decision solely in the hands of the president: he picks up the phone, he says, “Go” – and in twelve hours’ time, up to a million Iranians could be dead.

This potential death toll is not pacificist hyperbole; it comes from a National Academy of Sciences study sponsored by the Pentagon itself, as The Progressive reports. (Although Bush’s military brass like to peddle the public lie that “we don’t do body counts” of the enemy, in reality, like all good businessmen they keep precise accounts of their production outputs: i.e., corpses.) The Pentagon’s NAS study calibrated the kill-rate from “bunker-busting” tactical nukes used to take out underground facilities – such as those which house much of Iran’s nuclear power program. Another simulation by scientists, using Pentagon-devised software, was even more specific, measuring the aftermath of a “limited” nuclear attack on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan, the magazine reports. This small expansion of the Pentagon franchise would result in stellar production figures: three million people killed by radiation in just two weeks, and 35 million people exposed to dangerous levels of cancer-causing radiation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Bush has about 50 nuclear “earth-penetrating weapons” at his disposal, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.Nor is the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran mere “liberal paranoia.” Bush himself pointedly refused to take the nuclear option “off the table” this week. But what’s more, Bush has made the use of nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his “National Security Strategy of the United States,” issued last month, The Progressive notes. While reaffirming the criminal principle of “pre-emptive” attacks on perceived enemies which may or may not be threatening America with weapons they may or may not possess, Bush declared that “safe, credible and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role” in the “offensive strike systems” that are now a key part of America’s “deterrence.” In the depraved jargon of atomic warmongering, a “credible” nuclear force is one that can and will be used in the course of ordinary military operations. It is no longer to be regarded as a sacred taboo. This has long been the dream of the Pentagon’s “nuclear priesthood” and its acolytes, going back to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For decades, a strong faction within the American power structure has been afflicted with a perverted craving to unleash these weapons once more. An almost sexual frustration can be discerned in their laments as time and again, in crisis after crisis, their counsels for “going nuclear” were rejected – often at the very last moment. To justify their abberant desire, they have relentlessly demonized an ever-changing array of “enemies,” painting each one as an imminent, overwhelming threat, led by “madmen” in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, fit only for destruction. Evidence for the “threat” is invariably exaggerated, manipulated, even manufactured; this ritual cycle has been enacted over and over, leading to many wars – but never to that ultimate, orgasmic release.

Now this paranoid sect has at last seized the commanding heights of American power…they have found a most eager disciple in the peevish dullard strutting in the Oval Office. Under their sinister tutelage, Bush has eviscerated 40 years’ worth of arms control treaties; officially “normalized” the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear states; rewarded outlaw proliferators like India, Israel and Pakistan; and is now destroying the last and most effective restraint on the spread of nuclear weapons: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The treaty guarantees its signatories – such as Iran – the right to establish nuclear power programs in exchange for rigorous international inspections. But Bush has arbitrarily decided that Iran – whose nuclear program undergone perhaps the most extensive inspection process in history – must end its lawful activities. Why? Because the country is led by “madmen” in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, who one day may or may not threaten America with weapons they may or may not have…. So the NPT is dead. As with the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution, it now means only what Bush says it means. Force of arms, not rule of law, is the new world order. The attack on Iran. The obvious, murderous insanity of such a move in no way precludes its implementation by this gang – as their invasion of Iraq clearly shows.

The nuclear sectarians have waited decades for this moment. Such a chance may never come again. Will they let it pass, when with just a word, in just twelve hours, they can see their god rising in a pillar of fire over Persia?

And more evidence on March 22 from Deutsche Presse-Agentur

The Saudi Shura council will secretly discuss national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors, media reports said Saturday.

The Saudi-based King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology has prepared a proposal that encapsulates the probabilities of leaking nuclear and radiation hazards in case of any unexpected nuclear attacks in Iran, the Okaz Saudi newspaper said.

The Saudi Shura or consultative council plans to debate the proposal on Sunday.

The power plants in the south-western Iranian port of Bushehr were built with German assistance in 1974 and resumed with Russian aid in 1992, after it had been stopped by the Islamic revolution.

And if this attack moves forward this fall, you can forget any elections, now or ever again…and anyway, do you seriously think they’re going to let go of the power they’ve seized over the past several decades? You’re dreaming if you think they’re going to relinquish their power to the likes of Obama.

You know you live in a dictatorship when the pResident commits unending pre-emptive wars at his own whim, without public comment, without Congressional approval, without any discussion whatsoever.

And you thought you wouldn’t have to see that smug expression ever again after 2008…

March 25, 2008

Source: luminaria

Iran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?

 Global Research reports:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.

Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971.

Read moreIran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?