Tuesday 31 January 2012


Japan Cabinet OKs bill to cap nuke reactor life
MARI YAMAGUCHI | January 31, 2012 02:07 AM EST | 

31 Janaury, 2012

TOKYO — Japan's Cabinet approved bills Tuesday aimed at bolstering nuclear safety regulations following last year's Fukushima disaster, including one that would put a 40-year cap on the operational life of nuclear reactors.

The approval came as a team of International Atomic Energy Agency experts generally endorsed "stress test" results at two idled reactors at a plant in western Japan, bolstering the Tokyo government's efforts to restart the facility, though the IAEA team said some safety measures there needed clarification.

Japan currently has no legal limit on the operational lifespan of its 54 reactors, many of which will reach the 40-year mark in coming years. One of three reactors at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been operating for 41 years.

The legislation, which still needs parliamentary approval to take effect, does allow for an extension of up to 20 years in some cases – an exception that critics have blasted as a loophole. Officials have said extensions will be rare and require strict safety standards.

The Cabinet also approved a bill to create a new nuclear regulatory agency under the Environment Ministry that would unify the various nuclear safety and regulatory bodies.
Critics say the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's current placement under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – which also promotes nuclear energy – has contributed to lax supervision of the industry.

After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima accident, Japan reversed its nuclear energy policy and now aims to reduce its dependency on atomic power. Officials say capping the lives of reactors at 40 years is consistent with that policy.

Still, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said Japan must rely on nuclear energy during a transitional phase, and idled reactors deemed safe after inspections need to be restarted.

Since the meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan has ordered reactors across the country to undergo "stress tests" before they can be restarted. But passing the new tests may not lead to a quick startup because of deep safety concerns in local communities hosting the reactors.

With only three of the country's 54 reactors now online, officials are desperately trying to avoid a power crunch. One of the three operating reactors will go offline for regular checks next month, and Japan will have no operating reactors by the end of April.

Last week, a 10-member IAEA delegation inspected the Ohi No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at a nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture – a rural area where 13 reactors are clustered around a bay. The reactors have undergone stress tests, which are supposed to assess whether they can withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, loss of power or other emergencies, and to suggest changes to improve safety.

The IAEA team was invited by Tokyo to visit the plant in a step seen as an attempt to drum up support for the government's safety campaign.

In a preliminary assessment Tuesday, the team said that Japanese nuclear safety officials' instructions to their operator, Kansai Electric Power Co., and the review process for the tests were "generally consistent" with IAEA safety standards.

However, the team said authorities should clarify the stress tests' goals and better define what consitutes the safety margins within which plants would be able to tolerate disasters. It also said the nuclear safety agency, or NISA, still needs to confirm certain improvements to safety before allowing the facility to resume operation.

Mission leader James Lyons said that the team was "satisfied with the work they had done as part of their primary assessment" but that there was room for improvement.

NISA chief Hiroyuki Fukano welcomed the IAEA review, saying authorities were "encouraged" that stress tests were deemed valid.

Critics, however, say the tests are meaningless because they have no clear criteria, and view the 
Really good coverage of violence at Occupation Oakland by Democracy Now!

Occupy Oakland: Over 400 Arrested As Police Fire Tear Gas, Flash Grenades at Protesters
democracynow.org - 

Police have arrested more than 400 Occupy Oakland protesters, as well as a number of journalists, in one of the largest mass arrests since the nationwide Occupy protests began last year. When protesters attempted to convert a vacant building into a community center on Saturday, witnesses say police used tear gas, bean bag projectiles and flash grenades. Several hours later, police said some of the protesters broke into City Hall. However, demonstrators claim they found the door to City Hall already ajar. We play a video report from Oakland filed by John Hamilton of KPFA. We get a response from Occupy Oakland member, Maria Lewis, to Oakland City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente's accusation that the Occupy Movement is engaging in "domestic terrorism." "They are more interested in protecting abandoned private property than they are the people. The idea that opening up a social center is terrorism, is very telling of the narrative of the police state," Lewis says.

Euro News

Brussels Hit by First Coordinated Strike in Nearly Two Decades

30 January, 2012

The Financial Times reports Brussels hit by strike as EU leaders meet.

A general strike brought widespread disruption to Belgium on Monday, as European Union leaders arrived for a summit in Brussels with a focus on boosting employment across the region. Trains, shipping, air travel and public transport were all hit by the trade union action, called in response to reforms enacted hastily by the new government of Elio Di Rupo.

It is the first time in nearly two decades that unions from all sectors of the economy have co-ordinated a strike. As well as schools, the postal service and other branches of the public sector, some private enterprises were affected as unions flexed their muscles.

The strikes in the EU’s capital are a reflection of union discontent across the continent, worried that austerity measures will jeopardise the recovery. A Europe-wide “day of action”, bringing together unions from across the continent, is planned for February 29.
Voter distress and open dissent is no where close to peaking. 

Spain to Miss Deficit Reduction Goals

Courtesy of Google Translate, please consider Spain deficit to Hit 6.8% in 2012 and 6.3% in 2013, according to IMF

6.8% is far from the 4.4% that the European Commission has imposed

IMF predicts two years of recession, with declines of 1.7 and 0.3% in 2012 and 2013

Spain will not meet deficit reduction goals of the European Commission in 2012 and 2013. Specifically, the IMF projects that the deficit will be within 6.8% of GDP in 2012 and 6.3% in 2013, when Brussels requires, at most, a deficit of 4.4% this year and 3% next.

The agency, predicts a recession of two years for the Spanish economy, ending the last three months of this year with a contraction of 2.1%. This indicates the organization in the latest update to its Global Growth Outlook, published today in Washington.

France Halved 2012 Growth Forecast to 0.5 Percent

European leaders struggled to reconcile austerity with growth on Monday at a summit that approved a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone and was trying to put finishing touches to a German-driven pact for stricter budget discipline.

Officially, the half-day 27-nation summit was meant to focus on ways to revive growth and create jobs at a time when governments across Europe are having to cut public spending and raise taxes to tackle mountains of debt.

But disputes over the limits of austerity, and Greece's unfinished debt restructuring negotiations with private bondholders, hampered efforts to send a more optimistic message that Europe is getting on top of its debt crisis.

Spain's economy contracted in the last quarter of 2011 for the first time in two years and looks set to slip into a long recession.

France halved its 2012 growth forecast to a mere 0.5 percent in another potentially ominous sign for President Nicolas Sarkozy's troubled bid for re-election in May. Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the cut would not entail further budget saving measures.

Conservative Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, attending his first EU summit, said Madrid was clearly not going to meet its target of 2.3 percent growth this year. That has raised big doubts about whether it can cut its budget deficit from around 8 percent of economic output in 2011 to 4.4 percent by the end of this year as promised.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hinted Brussels may ease Spain's near-unattainable 2012 deficit target after it updates EU growth forecasts on February 23.

Bickering Continues

It is quite rare, if not unprecedented, for the head of the European Parliament to criticize what Merkel and Sarkozy hailed as "progress", yet that is exactly what happened.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz told the leaders the new fiscal treaty was unnecessary and unbalanced, because it failed to combine budget rigor with necessary investment in public works to create jobs.

"To write into law a Germanic view of how one should run an economy and that essentially makes Keynesianism illegal is not something we would do," a British official said. 

Merkel has said she will not discuss the issue of the ESM/EFSF's ceiling until the next EU summit in March. Meanwhile, financial markets will continue to worry that there may not be sufficient rescue funds available to help the likes of Italy and Spain if they run into renewed debt funding problems.

The sticking point is German public opinion which is tired of bailing out the euro zone's financially less prudent.

Ten Things to Expect in Europe

1. More bickering
2. More strikes
3. More emergency meetings
4. More trade wars, especially between Spain and France
5. Tobin Tax will backfire in France
6. Missed budget estimates across the board
7. Missed growth estimates across the board
8. Deep and lengthy recession will affect entire global economy
9. Recession will include France and Germany contrary to popular belief
10. End of Sarkozy's political career


Internet piracy (and by implication, Megaupload) is not something that I would want to defend; but when everything is balanced freedom of the internet and freedom of information is of paramount importance.
Remember that the pressure for this is coming from the corporate interest that is Hollywood.

What would normally be a civil case is being treated as a criminal case - totally without precedent

Megaupload data could be deleted this week

31 Janaury, 2012

US federal prosecutors say data from users of Megaupload could be deleted as soon as Thursday.

US prosecutors blocked access to Megaupload and charged seven men, saying the site facilitated millions of illegal downloads of movies, music and other content.

The company says its millions of users stored their own data, including family photos and personal documents. They haven't been able to see their data since the government raids earlier this month, but there has been hope would be able to get it back.

Megaupload hires outside companies to store the data, for a fee. But Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken said Sunday that the government has frozen its money.

A letter filed in the case Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said storage companies Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc. may begin deleting data Thursday. Spokespersons for the two companies and for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not respond to messages Sunday night.

The letter said the government copied some data from the servers but did not physically take them. It said that now that it has executed its search warrants, it has no right to access the data.

The servers are controlled by Carpathia and Cogent and issues about the future of the data must be resolved with them, prosecutors said.

Rothken said the company is working with prosecutors to try to keep the data from being erased. He said at least 50 million Megaupload users have data in danger of being erased.
Rothken said that, besides its customers, the data is important to Megaupload so it can defend itself in the legal case.

"We're cautiously optimistic at this point that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done,'' he said.

Megaupload is based in Hong Kong. US authorities said they had authority to act because some of its leased servers are in Virginia.

The FBI is seeking to extradite founder Kim Dotcom and three other men from New Zealand to the US to face charges of conspiring to commit racketeering, conspiring to commit money laundering, copyright infringement, and aiding and abetting copyright infringement over the internet through the website Megaupload.

Another nuclear accident?

Illinois nuclear reactor loses power, venting steam

30 January, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — A nuclear reactor at a northern Illinois plant shut down Monday after losing power, and steam was being vented to reduce pressure, according to officials from Exelon Nuclear and federal regulators.

Unit 2 at Byron Generating Station, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago, shut down at 10:18 a.m., after losing power, Exelon officials said. Diesel generators began supplying power to the plant, and operators began releasing steam to cool the reactor from the part of the plant where turbines are producing electricity, not from within the nuclear reactor itself, officials said.

The steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, but federal and plant officials insisted the levels were safe for workers and the public.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared the incident an "unusual event," the lowest of four levels of emergency. Commission officials also said the release of tritium was expected.

Exelon Nuclear officials believe a failed piece of equipment at a switchyard caused the shutdown but were still investigating an exact cause. The switchyard is similar to a large substation that delivers power to the plant from the electrical grid and from the plant to the electrical grid. Smoke was seen from an onsite station transformer, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said, but no evidence of a fire was found when the plant's fire brigade responded.

Mitlyng said officials can't yet calculate how much tritium is being released. They know the amounts are small because monitors around the plant aren't showing increased levels of radiation, she said.

Tritium molecules are so microscopic that small amounts are able to pass from radioactive steam that originates in the reactor through tubing and into the water used to cool turbines and other equipment outside the reactor, Mitlyng said. The steam that was being released was coming from the turbine side.

Tritium is relatively short-lived and penetrates the body weakly through the air compared to other radioactive contaminants.

Releasing steam helps "take away some of that energy still being produced by nuclear reaction but that doesn't have anywhere to go now." Even though the turbine is not turning to produce electricity, she said, "you still need to cool the equipment."

Candace Humphrey, Ogle County's emergency management coordinator, said county officials were notified of the incident as soon as it happened and that public safety was never in danger.

"It was standard procedure that they would notify county officials," she said. "There is always concern. But, it never crossed my mind that there was any danger to the people of Ogle County."

Unit 1 was operating normally while engineers investigate why Unit 2 lost power, which comes into the plant from the outside power grid, Mitlyng said. She said Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors were in the control room at Byron and in constant contact with the agency's incident response center in Lisle, Ill.

In March 2008, federal officials said they were investigating a problem with electrical transformers at the plant after outside power to a unit was interrupted.

In an unrelated issue last April, the commission said it was conducting special inspections of backup water pumps at the Byron and Braidwood generating stations after the agency's inspectors raised concerns about whether the pumps would be able to cool the reactors if the normal system wasn't working. The plants' operator, Exelon Corp., initially said the pumps would work but later concluded they wouldn't.

Here is the video that alerted me to this.

Confronting Reality

The advice offered by Dr Russ Harris of Australia could be useful to all of us, especially when dealing with the emotions that come with confronting the reality of Collapse.

Like me, he completely rejects the 'self help movement' and the idea of 'postive thinking' and advocates being rooted in reality - suffering arises when we want things to be other than the way they are.

In this regard I recall what  Carolyn Baker said - 'there is nothing we can do ABOUT collapse, but a whole lot we can do WITH collapse.

I do find myself slightly irritated when people like this say that what they say is 'scientifically-based' - this belongs more to the 'cult' of science.  It would be better if he admitted his debt to the wisdom of previous generations - what Aldous Huxley called 'the Perennial Philosophy'.

Otherwise what he says is good and worth listening to.

The 'Reality Slap': How to find fulfillment when lifehurts hurt

Radio New Zealand

At some point is our lives, all of us will experience loss or tragedy. Most of us aren't very good at dealing with pain: we don't really want to turn lemons into lemonade. We don't believe we can, either. We endure misfortune with greater or fewer degrees of stoicism.

Here is a video

Occupation Wellington

Occupy Wellington Evicted

31 January, 2012

Police and council security have moved to evict the remaining Occupy Wellington protestors after 108 days camping in Civic Square.

A police statement says that "no arrests were made and occupiers left Civic Square without incident".

Earlier this morning the Occupy Wellington facebook page received this update:

Occupy Wellington is being cleared out by the Police, right now.

There are maybe 40-50 police, the same amount of private security (ProVision Security).

The whole overbridge is closed off and no one bar media and the police are getting in or out. [Joel]

Yesterday, in the face of a council deadline, an Occupy Wellington statement said "occupy is working":

The occupying group at Wellington's Civic Square will continue the occupation despite the Council stating it will do everything it can to remove them. If necessary the group will continue the occupation without the structures. ...

The Wellington occupation is peaceful and no benefit is seen to be gained through physical conflict with the Council's security or the Police.

A council statement today said "the Council has been reasonable with the campers throughout this process but the occupation became a way of life". The council intend to fence of the area to allow grass to regrow and to "prevent reoccupation".

The eviction follows action against the Occupy Auckland protestors in Aotea Square. Police were reportedly at the Occupy Christchurch site this morning but did not evict them.

Statement from Occupation Wellington.
30 January, 2012

Occupation to continue
Monday, 30 January 2012, 8:46 pm
Press Release: Occupy Wellington

The occupying group at Wellington's Civic Square will continue the occupation despite the Council stating it will do everything it can to remove them. If necessary the group will continue the occupation without the structures. In Auckland at Aotea Square the occupiers were arrested after resisting the Council's efforts to remove the tents and other structures.

The Wellington occupation is peaceful and no benefit is seen to be gained through physical conflict with the Council's security or the Police. If the Council issues an order to remove the tents and other structures then the occupiers are agreed that they will dismantle these on their own but continue in occupation.

Occupy is working.

Opposing fracking in South Africa

Standing up to Goliath
This video is relevant to us all.  It is a speech opposing Shell’s plans to frill for gas in the Karoo, a fragile arid region in South Africa using fracking.

Japanese collapse

With Peak Oil this might all be an understatement.
Japanese Population To Shrink By One Third, Size Of Workforce To Plunge In Under 50 Years

30 January, 2012

Japan recently made waves with the news that its total debt would hit north of one quadrillion yen over the next several months: a number greater than the GDP of the entire Eurozone. Yet the one saving grace for Japan has long been the strawman that the bulk of its debt is locally held, and thus the risk of a sharp sell off is minimal as the capital has to be recycled within the borders of Japan, especially as the USA and soon the rest of the world will provide the same returns on debt as Japan, which has been locked in a 30 year deleveraging cycle, does. However, one thing that continues to be widely ignored is the demographic top that Japanese society is experiencing as ever more workers enter retirement, and there is no replenishment of young workers (perhaps Spain can export some of its youth to Tokyo?). This may change soon because as the AP reports, the Japanese population will be cut by 30% by 2060. Furthermore the country's workforce of people aged 15 to 65 will shrink to half the population (a BLS wet dream as under those conditions the US unemployment rate would be very negative). Alas, the prospect of Japan's population of 128 million dropping by 1 million every year over the coming decades, should be sufficiently sobering. This naturally means that any existing paper supply-demand equilibrium will soon have to start being reevaluated. But by 2060 we will likely have bigger problems than placing the 1 billion googol in JJBs that have to find a buyer to fund the country's deficit. Lastly, we would love to see one of those charts showing how many working people will have to fund each and every retiree by the year 2060, first in Japan, and then in every other country.

Japan’s population of 128 million will shrink by one-third and seniors will account for 40 percent of people by 2060, placing a greater burden on a smaller working-age population to support the social security and tax systems.

The grim estimate of how rapid aging will shrink Japan’s population was released Monday by the Health and Welfare Ministry.

In year 2060, Japan will have 87 million people. The number of people 65 or older will nearly double to 40 percent, while the national work force of people between ages 15 and 65 will shrink to about half of the total population, according to the estimate, made by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

Nowhere will the demographic crunch courtesy of the welfare state hit the world faste than in Japan, where the natural growth rate has been negative for quite some time:

The institute says Japan has been the world’s fastest aging country, and with its birthrate among the lowest, its population decline would be among the deepest globally in coming decades.

Experts say that Japan’s population will keep losing 1 million every year in coming decades and the country urgently needs to overhaul its social security and tax system to reflect the demographic shift.

The implication is that every single aspect of financial life will need a complete overhaul as existing assumptions have to be scrapped and entirely redone.

Pension programs, employment and labor policy and social security system in this country is not designed to reflect such rapidly progressing population decline or aging,” Noriko Tsuya, a demography expert at Keio University, said on public broadcaster NHK. “The government needs to urgently revise the system and implement new measures based on the estimate.”

Fear not though. As pointed out previously, by 2060 the word sustainable will appear at least once in ever sentence, on its way to dominating the English language entirely another 50 years later.

Major pollution in China

A Toxic Spill Threatens Drinking Supplies Of 3.2 Million Residents In A Major Chinese City

30 January, 2012

SHANGHAI (AP) — China's environmental authorities were redoubling efforts Monday to prevent a toxic cadmium spill from further tainting water supplies of cities downstream, as seven chemical company officials were reported detained in connection with the accident.

Official reports have provided little information about the exact cause of the spill, whose impact was first seen in fish kills in mid-January. The contamination initially was blamed on a mining company, but the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that seven managers of chemical companies had been detained on suspicion of responsibility for unauthorized waste discharges.

Cadmium, used to make batteries, is poisonous and can cause cancer.

For article GO HERE

BREAKING NEWS: German coup

Europe signs up to German-led fiscal pact
Chancellor Angela Merkel cemented her political ascendancy in Europe on Monday when 25 out of 27 EU states agreed to a German-inspired pact for stricter budget discipline, even as they struggled to rekindle growth from the ashes of austerity.

20 Januaryt, 2012

Only Britain and the Czech Republic refused to sign a fiscal compact in March that will impose quasi-automatic sanctions on countries that breach European Union budget deficit limits and will enshrine balanced budget rules in national law.

The accord was eagerly greeted by the European Central Bank which has long pressed euro zone governments to put their houses in order.

"It is the first step towards a fiscal union. It certainly will strengthen confidence in the euro area," ECB President Mario Draghi said.

Officially, the half-day summit focused mainly on a strategy to revive growth and create jobs at a time when governments across Europe are having to cut public spending and raise taxes to tackle mountains of debt.

But differences over the limits of austerity, and Greece's unfinished debt restructuring negotiations, hampered efforts to convey a more optimistic message that Europe is getting on top of its debt crisis.

Merkel told a news conference the agreements on the fiscal pact and a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone were a "small but fine step on the path to restoring confidence."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he expected a deal on reducing Greece's debt to private bondholders within days and he believed independent European institutions - a clear reference to the ECB - would help meet a funding gap.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said a deal was needed this week to be finalized in time to avert a chaotic Greek default in mid-March when it faces huge bond repayments.

Leaders agreed that a 500-billion-euro European Stability Mechanism will enter into force in July, a year earlier than planned, to back heavily indebted states.

Europe is already under pressure from the United States, China, the International Monetary Fund and some of its own members to increase the size of the financial firewall, but Merkel has refused to consider the issue before March.

Many economists doubt the wisdom of so severely restricting deficit spending, and EU diplomats say the fiscal compact was mostly a political gesture to calm German voters angry at repeated euro zone bailouts and to restore market confidence.

"To write into law a Germanic view of how one should run an economy and that essentially makes Keynesianism illegal is not something we would do," a British official said.

There was no repetition of last month's confrontation between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Sarkozy when Cameron vetoed efforts to amend the EU treaty to tighten euro zone budget discipline.

But the British and French leaders sniped at each other at separate news conferences while professing mutual respect.

Cameron told reporters: "Our national interest is that these countries get on and sort out the mess that is the euro."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that although Cameron had shown no sign of relenting in his opposition to treaty change, the new pact could be easily slotted into EU law at a later date and she expected it would be within five years.

Financial markets fretted over the lack of tangible progress in the Greek debt talks and gloom about Europe's economic outlook. The risk premium on southern European government bonds rose while the euro and stocks fell.

Highlighting those fears, Spain's economy contracted in the last quarter of 2011 for the first time in two years and looks set to slip into a long recession.

France halved its 2012 growth forecast to a mere 0.5 percent in a potentially ominous sign for Sarkozy's troubled bid for re-election in May. But the president said Paris could achieve its deficit reduction target without further savings.

Italy, rushing through sweeping economic reforms under new Prime Minister Mario Monti, was rewarded with a significant fall in its borrowing costs at an auction of 10- and 5-year bonds, despite two-notch downgrades of its credit rating by Standard & Poor's and Fitch this month.

But Portugal's slide towards becoming the next Greece - needing a second bailout to avoid chaotic bankruptcy - gathered pace as banks raised the cost of insuring government bonds against default and insisted the money be paid up front instead of over several years.

The yield spread on 10-year Portuguese bonds over safe haven German Bunds topped 15 percentage points for the first time in the euro era.


Negotiations between Greece and private bondholders over restructuring 200 billion euros of debt made progress over the weekend, but were not concluded before the summit.

Until there is a deal, EU leaders cannot move forward with a second, 130-billion-euro rescue program for Athens, which they originally pledged at a summit last October.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and his finance minister met the heads of EU institutions right after the summit to discuss conditions for the rescue package, officials said.

The ESM was meant to replace the European Financial Stability Facility, a temporary fund that has been used to bail out Ireland and Portugal. But pressure is mounting to combine the resources of the two funds to create a super-firewall of 750 billion euros ($1 trillion).

The IMF says if Europe puts up more of its own money, that will convince others to give more resources to the IMF, boosting its crisis-fighting abilities and improving market sentiment.
Germany has so far resisted such a step.

Merkel has said she will not discuss the issue of the ESM/EFSF's ceiling until the next EU summit in March. Meanwhile, financial markets will continue to worry that there may not be sufficient rescue funds available to help the likes of Italy and Spain if they run into renewed debt funding problems.

The EU will consider how to deploy 82 billion euros of unspent funds from the EU's 2007-2013 budget. Some will be recycled towards job creation, especially among the young.

But with no new public money available for a stimulus, they focused mainly on promoting structural reforms such as loosening labor market regulation, cutting red tape for business and promoting innovation.

Genetic Engineering

Farmer feeds GMO corn to his pigs: they all become sterile

Jerry Rosman, a pig farmer in Iowa, was cultivating GMO corn,(Roundup Ready and BT) and fed this corn to his pigs. 

Result: his sows became infertile, and then after one year he went bankrupt.
See the whole interview here: http://vimeo.com/20237421

Is it an incident isolated to Iowa ? Check this article from Greenpeace; http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/news/no-need-for-condoms-ge-corn/

"Austrian scientists fed mice over a course of 20 weeks a mixture of 33 percent Monsanto GE corn (NK 603 x MON 810) and non-GE corn.

These mice gave birth to less babies and lighter babies in their third and fourth litters. Mice fed on non-GE corn had babies as normal.

These differences are statistically significant."
Other studies:

"The scientist added flour from a GM soya bean - produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its pesticide, Roundup - to the food of female rats, starting two weeks before they conceived, continuing through pregnancy, birth and nursing. Others were given non-GM soyaand a third group was given no soya at all.

She found that 36 per cent of the young of the rats fed the modified soya were severely underweight, compared to 6 per cent of the offspring of the other groups. More alarmingly, a staggering 55.6 per cent of those born to mothers on the GM diet perished within three weeks of birth, compared to 9 per cent of the offspring of those fed normal soya, and 6.8 per cent of the young of those given no soya at all."

"A group of female rats received additionally to the stock laboratory chow 5-7g/rat/day soya flour prepared from certified RR GM-soya for two weeks before mating, during mating, pregnancy, and an increased daily amount for every pup during lactation. The control group was fed in addition to the rat chow the same amount of traditional (Trad) soya. (...) High level of mortality (~ 55,6%) was observed with pups whose mothers received the GM-soya supplemented diets, and 36% of these pups weighed less than 20 grammas by the end of two weeks after the birth, in comparison with the Trad. soya supplemented group"
See the documentary THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO here 

To have a more global idea on the issue and the relation between GMOs and sterilisation, please read the book "Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation": Available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Seeds-Destruction-Hidden-Genetic-Manipulation/dp/097371...


Indefinite detention and torture: US already enforcing NDAA

Not even a month after President Barack Obama signed his name to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the US government is already using the legislation to justify its ongoing detainment of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.
30 January, 2012

Musa'ab al-Madhwani had barely entered adulthood when he first arrived at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2002. But in the months between his capture in Pakistan and transfer to Gitmo, the Yemeni national experienced more than most would see in a lifetime. Before he turned 23, he says he was beaten and kicked, threatened with death and suspended by his hands in an underground torture chamber.

Now for the prisoner, about to celebrate the 10-year-anniversary of his arrival at Gimo, the rest of that lifetime looks to be spent behind bars thanks to the NDAA.

In a statement filed by his attorneys, they describe Musa'ab al-Madhwani as an “easy-going teenager” before he was recruited in a coffee shop by strangers who promised him “a month-long adventure" in 2001. Al-Madhwani agreed, but regretted his decision after being forced into a military training camp in Afghanistan. After al-Qaeda operatives destroyed the Twin Towers, the Afghan facility where he was trained was shut down. He attempted to return to his home in Yemen, but ended up unable to make the trip. In 2002, al-Madhwani found himself living from house-to-house while trying to figure out a way to make it back to Yemen. Eventually authorities closed in a group of insurgents, and al-Madhwani happened to be on the scene.

“The group I was arrested with were staying in two apartments,” he would tell an Administrative Review Board. “One person from each apartment refused to surrender and fought the Pakistani forces sent to arrest us. I was in the group that chose to surrender,” he said. According to al-Madhwani, the authorities were “thankful for our cooperation and surrendering without fighting.” That cooperation would only enter al-Madhwani into a decade of darkness.

Before ending up at Gitmo, al-Madhwani was brutally tortured in an underground facility in Afghanistan, what he called a “Dark Prison.” He told US officials in 2005 that he believed “It was impossible that I could get out of there alive” and was coerced into announcing his participation with terrorist forces only because he was beaten into submission.

The US court system would go later acknowledge this treatment and took al-Madhwani’s word that the confession only came after it was beaten out of him. In January 2010, US District Judge Thomas Hogan called 23 of the 26 documents that government presented as evidence against the man “tainted” because "coercive interrogation techniques" were used to obtain them. 

Judge Hogan would also rule, however, that the remaining three pieces of evidence were not. Even if months of torture in unimaginable conditions would cause al-Madhwani to admit guilt, the judge ruled that confessions offered up years later, which he viewed as “fundamentally different,” were enough to keep him detained .

Judge Hogan would also go on the record to say that al-Madhwani was a “model prisoner” at Guantanamo and explained in court documents, "There is nothing in the record now that he poses any greater threat than those detainees who have already been released." Other excerpts described the prisoner as “a lot less threatening” than former Gitmo detainees already released, and “at best … the lowest level al-Qaeda member” who should be returned to Yemen. The District Court wrote then that the “basis for continuing to hold him is questionable.”

Now nearly a decade since arriving at Gitmo, al-Madhwani stands to stay there for a while longer, to say the least. His attorneys filed a petition last year asking that he finally be brought to trial for his alleged crimes. The government did not offer up a response until late this month, only days after President Barack Obama signed his name to the NDAA.

The National Defense Authorization Act was met with intense scrutiny from critics when it escaped Congress and opposition even forced the president into offering a signing statement before he inked the legislation addressing the issues. Under the NDAA, the president is granted the authority to indefinitely detain and torture anyone, including American citizens, without bringing them to trial. Although officials say it only affirms detention provisions from earlier legislation, the signing started a slippery slope which could indeed eventually see to it that anyone suspected of a “belligerent act” be put behind bars without a trial.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said while signing the NDAA on December 31, 2011. Despite these concerns, however, the NDAA was acted into law. Now less than a month later, those provisions that Obama said were of concern are now already being used to keep Musa'ab al-Madhwani further behind bars.

Attorneys for al-Madhwani filed a petition last year to ask the court to re-investigate the case and perhaps finally bring the detainee before a jury for his alleged crimes. In their response, the United States Supreme Court writes that the ongoing detention of this “model prisoner” is perfectly by-the-books, as the National Defense Authorization Act allows it.

In response to the cert petition filed last year by al-Madhwani’s attorneys, the Supreme Court answers by quoting a provision of the NDAA. “In Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA), Pub. L. No. 112-81, 125 Stat. 1561 (2011), Congress ‘affirm[ed]’ that the authority granted by the AUMF includes the authority to detain, ‘under the law of war,’ any ‘person who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Further in their response, the Supreme Court quotes the Act again, calling up the authority granted to the president to detain any “person who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

When he added a signing statement to the NDAA, President Obama acknowledged the harsh realities of the legislation but said he would not enforce it on American citizens. That does not mean, however, that other administrations have to abide by that interpretation. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges filed a lawsuit against the president earlier this month challenging the legality of the NDAA. In an explanation of the suit, Hedges wrote, “I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists,” adding, “But that does not make me one.” Regardless, any affiliation with a group branded as such could lead authorities to leap to such conclusions.

Another legislation, yet to be approved, would allow the US government to strike citizenship away without a trial, essentially opening up the NDAA for everyone, with or without Obama’s order. That bill, the Enemy Expatriation Act, would strip nationality from anyone concerned a threat.

As seen with al-Madhwani, however, even American authorities don’t consider him a threat. He was barely a child when he accidentally found himself on the wrong side of a war with America and for it he was detained and tortured in at least two different facilities by Pakistanis and Americans alike before arriving at Guantanamo. Now a decade later, the NDAA will see to it that the rest of his life will be spent behind bars in the US military prison.

Medical censorship

Some Doctors Are Prescribing Gag Orders To Keep Their Patients From Posting Negative Reviews Online

30 January, 2012

Bank of America isn't the onlybusiness going to shady lengths to keep its customers hush-hush about poor service. 

The Washington Post reports doctors have been asking their patients sign agreements barring them from writing negative posts on consumer review websites like Yelp, DoctorBase and RateMDs.com. 

Though few of us research our doctors online, according to a 2010 Pew survey, the medical profession's reputation is under siege, with hospitals anxiously rolling out luxe ammenities to woo wealthy patients, while the rest of America struggles to make healthcare payments amidst rising premiums. 

Keeping business afloat and one's good name intact seems crucial, however, many doctors using these agreements which prohibit patients from publishing negative reviews online and elsewhere may be unnecessary. 

In 2009, Tara Lagu, a research scientist at Baystate Medical Center in Boston examined 33 consumer rating sites and found that 88 percent of the reviews for 300 Boston-area doctors were postive. The main complaints were wait times and parking, and few discussed "specific aspects of care," Lagu told the Post. 

But while this bodes well for doctors, it doesn't mean consumers shouldn't do their homework or agree to sign one of the "gag-orders." Legal battles often ensue when a patient agrees to stay mum, and then posts a negative review online, as one patient the Post spoke to learned the hard way. Doing so can also deprive other consumers from making informed decisions.   

If patients want to sound off on a sub-par doctor, they should decline to sign the gag-order and talk to other doctors about their experience. Once they've gathered enough evidence, they can go to their state's medical society or licensing board to file a grievance. For more information on how to file a medical complaint, click here. 

Read the Washington Post's article on doctors' do-not-talk contracts HERE