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  1. Atypical is offline
    09-06-2015, 10:00 AM #201
    Cont'd From Prior Page #200

    A second concern follows from GMOs being often resistant to herbicides. This resistance is an invitation to farmers to spray large quantities of herbicides, and many do. As research recently showed, commercial soybeans routinely contain quantities of the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) that its maker, Monsanto, once described as “extreme” (Bøhn et al 2014).

    Glyphosate has been in the news recently because the World Health Organisation no longer considers it a relatively harmless chemical, but there are other herbicides applied to GMOs which are easily of equal concern. The herbicide Glufosinate (phosphinothricin, made by Bayer) kills plants because it inhibits the important plant enzyme glutamine synthetase. This enzyme is ubiquitous, however, it is found also in fungi, bacteria and animals. Consequently, Glufosinate is toxic to most organisms. Glufosinate is also a neurotoxin of mammals that doesn’t easily break down in the environment (Lantz et al. 2014). Glufosinate is thus a “herbicide” in name only.

    Thus, even in conventional agriculture, the use of glufosinate is hazardous; but With GMO plants the situation is worse yet. With GMOs, glufosinate is sprayed on to the crop but its degradation in the plant is blocked by the transgene, which chemically modifies it slightly. This is why the GMO plant is resistant to it; but the other consequence is that when you eat Bayers’ Glufosinate-resistant GMO maize or canola, even weeks or months later, glufosinate, though slightly modified, is probably still there (Droge et al., 1992). Nevertheless, though the health hazard of glufosinate is much greater with GMOs, the implications of this science have been ignored in GMO risk assessments of Glufosinate-tolerant GMO crops.

    A yet further reason to be concerned about GMOs is that most of them contain a viral sequence called the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter (or they contain the similar figwort mosaic virus (FMV) promoter). Two years ago, the GMO safety agency of the European Union (EFSA) discovered that both the CaMV promoter and the FMV promoter had wrongly been assumed by them (for almost 20 years) not to encode any proteins. In fact, the two promoters encode a large part of a small multifunctional viral protein that misdirects all normal gene expression and that also turns off a key plant defence against pathogens. EFSA tried to bury their discovery. Unfortunately for them, we spotted their findings in an obscure scientific journal. This revelation forced EFSA and other regulators to explain why they had overlooked the probability that consumers were eating an untested viral protein.

    This list of significant scientific concerns about GMOs is by no means exhaustive. For example, there are novel GMOs coming on the market, such as those using double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), that have the potential for even greater risks (Latham and Wilson 2015).

    The True Purpose of GMOs

    Science is not the only grounds on which GMOs should be judged. The commercial purpose of GMOs is not to feed the world or improve farming. Rather, they exist to gain intellectual property (i.e. patent rights) over seeds and plant breeding and to drive agriculture in directions that benefit agribusiness. This drive is occurring at the expense of farmers, consumers and the natural world. US Farmers, for example, have seen seed costs nearly quadruple and seed choices greatly narrow since the introduction of GMOs. The fight over GMOs is not of narrow importance. It affects us all.

    Nevertheless, specific scientific concerns are crucial to the debate. I left science in large part because it seemed impossible to do research while also providing the unvarnished public scepticism that I believed the public, as ultimate funder and risk-taker of that science, was entitled to.

    Criticism of science and technology remains very difficult. Even though many academics benefit from tenure and a large salary, the sceptical process in much of science is largely lacking. This is why risk assessment of GMOs has been short-circuited and public concerns about them are growing. Until the damaged scientific ethos is rectified, both scientists and the public are correct to doubt that GMOs should ever have been let out of any lab.


    The safety of GM crops is an ongoing debate that affects us all. Some places in Europe have restricted their use. I believe much more should be known before we consider them safe. This article provides a useful view.

    There are references and links in the original article.
    Last edited by Atypical; 09-06-2015 at 05:06 PM.

  2. Atypical is offline
    10-13-2015, 01:24 PM #202
    The Real Reason Global Stocks Are Flashing Red This Morning

    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 13, 2015

    The average American, scraping to get by, put food on the table, pay the mortgage, has no time at all to drill down and root out the real facts that would enable him or her to separate propaganda from the economic reality facing the U.S. and the rest of the globe.

    That’s why we created Wall Street On Parade. It’s a labor of love for our fellow citizens to give you a meaningful jungle guide to survive this era of unprecedented corruption and hubris with a roof still over your head and a shirt on your back.

    In a few years, when you look back, you’ll realize “jungle guide,” if anything, was a serious understatement.

    This morning stock markets around the globe are flashing red. The perceived wisdom is that the news driving stocks lower is a report out of China that its imports plunged 17.7 percent year over year in September, the 11th straight decline.

    Make no mistake about it, just as Lehman Brothers was set up to take the fall for triggering the 2008 collapse, China is being groomed as the new scapegoat for the coming crisis. But China’s economic slump is only a symptom, not the disease.

    In reality, the dark, gathering, economic storm clouds are merely the second leg of the 2008 financial collapse, set in motion on November 12, 1999 when President Bill Clinton, surrounded by Wall Street sycophants, signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999) which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, legislation which had kept our financial system safe for 66 years. A short 9 years later, the U.S. financial system collapsed in the greatest upheaval since the Great Depression.

    Tonight, Bill Clinton’s spouse, Hillary Clinton – who has no intention of restoring the Glass-Steagall Act to separate insured banks from high-risk, stock speculating investment banks and their star wars derivatives operations — will deliver her pitch to the American people as to why she’s fit to extend the Clinton dynasty at the White House. This will be the first Democratic Presidential debate of the primary season and we urge our readers to watch. The debate will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on CNN which is hosting the event.

    In the meantime, it might be a good idea to reflect on the underlying concerns of the stock market. On September 24, Caterpillar took a machete to its prior earnings outlook for 2015 and said it will cut its headcount by as many as 10,000 jobs through 2018. These big, multinational job cut announcements have been coming since last December: American Express, 4000; Coca Cola, 1600 to 1800; IBM, at least 2000 with rumors suggesting the number is far higher; Schlumberger, 9000; Baker Hughes 7000; U.S. Steel 750.

    It’s not just China that’s the problem. In its second quarter earnings conference call, Caterpillar had this to say:

    “We’ll start with Construction Industries, which was down 18% and down in all regions. Latin America was the most significant decline, down 47%, and that was mostly a result of weak demand in general, and in particular Brazil, and also absent of a large order that we had from the Brazilian government from last year. Asia-Pacific region was down 30%, with much of that decline in China and Japan…In the Europe, Africa, Middle East region, Construction Industry sales were down 18% …”

    The reality is that the repeal of Glass-Steagall ushered in the greatest wealth transfer scheme in the history of America, allowing six mega banks in America to control the vast majority of insured deposits, use those taxpayer-backed deposits to gamble for the house, loot the bank from the inside by paying billions of dollars to select employees and customers and then hand the gambling tab to the taxpayer when the casino burns down. This model is a staggering headwind on both U.S. and global growth because it has created the greatest wealth and income inequality since the Great Depression.

    Earlier this year, Steve Ricchiuto, Chief U.S. Economist at Mizuho Securities USA, appeared on CNBC to help viewers get a grip on economic reality. Ricchiuto had this to say:

    “…I keep hearing over and over again in the financial press about this acceleration in economic growth. That isn’t happening. Last month we had a horrible retail sales number. We had a horrible durable goods number. We’re likely to have a very disappointing retail sales number coming forward. This month we’ve had a strong payroll number – we say everything’s great. It’s not great. It’s running where it’s been. It’s been the same thing for the last five years. There’s no improvement in the economy.”

    David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan, Professor of Economics and Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics, respectively, at the University of Houston added a further reality check earlier this year:

    “While the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009 ended over five years ago, the recovery has been characterized by very slow growth. The Congressional Budget Office has recently released projections of real (inflation adjusted) GDP growth through 2025. If these projections turn out to be correct, real GDP for the U.S. will never return to its pre-Great Recession growth path. This projected decrease in potential GDP is unprecedented, as almost all postwar U.S. recessions, postwar European recessions, slumps associated with European financial crises, and even the Great Depression of the 1930s were characterized by an eventual return to potential GDP.”

    What will it take for our fellow citizens to raise their fists in the air and say “ENOUGH” to the Clinton dynasty and their 1 percent Wall Street Democrats. What will it take to rally Democrats from their stupor and restore the Democratic Party to the party that could actually level the playing field in America.


    We essentially have a one party system in the country - one is on their knees to business and the other opens doors for them and serves dinner. Money has COMPLETELY shredded the fabric of the country and is getting rid of what's left.

    Those facts make it difficult for the non-ideologue to know what to support and what to criticize. The "lesser of two evils" meme is aggressively argued from both sides and I have pondered the dilemma for some time.

    There is only one possible avenue still to try. I will be taking it. If it fails, it will be truly over for those in the 95 percent.
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-13-2015 at 01:52 PM.

  3. Atypical is offline
    11-08-2015, 03:13 PM #203
    Chris Hedges: TPP Is the Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History

    It's worse than any of us feared.

    By Chris Hedges / Truthdig November 7, 2015

    The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.

    “The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

    The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.
    These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.

    The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.

    The Sierra Club issued a statement after the release of the TPP text saying that the “deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal.”

    If there is no sustained popular uprising to prevent the passage of the TPP in Congress this spring we will be shackled by corporate power. Wages will decline. Working conditions will deteriorate. Unemployment will rise. Our few remaining rights will be revoked. The assault on the ecosystem will be accelerated. Banks and global speculation will be beyond oversight or control. Food safety standards and regulations will be jettisoned. Public services ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the post office and public education will be abolished or dramatically slashed and taken over by for-profit corporations. Prices for basic commodities, including pharmaceuticals, will skyrocket. Social assistance programs will be drastically scaled back or terminated. And countries that have public health care systems, such as Canada and Australia, that are in the agreement will probably see their public health systems collapse under corporate assault. Corporations will be empowered to hold a wide variety of patents, including over plants and animals, turning basic necessities and the natural world into marketable products. And, just to make sure corporations extract every pound of flesh, any public law interpreted by corporations as impeding projected profit, even a law designed to protect the environment or consumers, will be subject to challenge in an entity called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. The ISDS, bolstered and expanded under the TPP, will see corporations paid massive sums in compensation from offending governments for impeding their “right” to further swell their bank accounts. Corporate profit effectively will replace the common good.

    Given the bankruptcy of our political class—including amoral politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who is denouncing the TPP during the presidential campaign but whose unwavering service to corporate capitalism assures her fealty to her corporate backers—the trade agreement has a good chance of becoming law. And because the Obama administration won fast-track authority, a tactic designed by the Nixon administration to subvert democratic debate, President Obama will be able to sign the agreement before it goes to Congress.

    The TPP, because of fast track, bypasses the normal legislative process of public discussion and consideration by congressional committees. The House and the Senate, which have to vote on the TPP bill within 90 days of when it is sent to Congress, are prohibited by the fast-track provision from adding floor amendments or holding more than 20 hours of floor debate. Congress cannot raise concerns about the effects of the TPP on the environment. It can only vote yes or no. It is powerless to modify or change one word.

    There will be a mass mobilization Nov. 14 through 18 in Washington to begin the push to block the TPP. Rising up to stop the TPP is a far, far better investment of our time and energy than engaging in the empty political theater that passes for a presidential campaign.

    “The TPP creates a web of corporate laws that will dominate the global economy,” attorney Kevin Zeese of the group Popular Resistance, which has mounted a long fight against the trade agreement, told me from Baltimore by telephone. “It is a global corporate coup d’état. Corporations will become more powerful than countries. Corporations will force democratic systems to serve their interests. Civil courts around the world will be replaced with corporate courts or so-called trade tribunals. This is a massive expansion that builds on the worst of NAFTA rather than what Barack Obama promised, which was to get rid of the worst aspects of NAFTA.”

    Cont'd Below

  4. Atypical is offline
    11-08-2015, 03:14 PM #204
    Cont'd From Above

    The agreement is the product of six years of work by global capitalists from banks, insurance companies, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto and other corporations.

    “It was written by them [the corporations], it is for them and it will serve them,” Zeese said of the TPP. “It will hurt domestic businesses and small businesses. The buy-American provisions will disappear. Local communities will not be allowed to build buy-local campaigns. The thrust of the agreement is the privatization and commodification of everything. The agreement has built within it a deep antipathy to state-supported or state-owned enterprises. It gives away what is left of our democracy to the World Trade Organization.”

    The economist David Rosnick, in a report on the TPP by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR), estimated that under the trade agreement only the top 10 percent of U.S. workers would see their wages increase. Rosnick wrote that the real wages of middle-income U.S. workers (from the 35th percentile to the 80th percentile) would decline under the TPP. NAFTA, contributing to a decline in manufacturing jobs (now only 9 percent of the economy), has forced workers into lower-paying service jobs and resulted in a decline in real wages of between 12 and 17 percent. The TPP would only accelerate this process, Rosnick concluded.

    “This is a continuation of the global race to the bottom,” Dr. Margaret Flowers, also from Popular Resistance and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said from Baltimore in a telephone conversation with me. “Corporations are free to move to countries that have the lowest labor standards. This drives down high labor standards here. It means a decimation of industries and unions. It means an accelerated race to the bottom, which we must rise up to stop.”

    “In Malaysia one-third of tech workers are essentially slaves,” Zeese said. “In Vietnam the minimum wage is 35 cents an hour. Once these countries are part of the trade agreement U.S. workers are put in a very difficult position.”

    Fifty-one percent of working Americans now make less than $30,000 a year, a new study by the Social Security Administration reported. Forty percent are making less than $20,000 a year. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be in poverty.

    “Half of American workers earn essentially the poverty level,” Zeese said. “This agreement only accelerates this trend. I don’t see how American workers are going to cope.”

    The assault on the American workforce by NAFTA—which was established under the Clinton administration in 1994 and which at the time promised creation of 200,000 net jobs a year in the United States—has been devastating. NAFTA has led to a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada and the loss of at least 1 million U.S. jobs, according to a report by Public Citizen. The flooding of the Mexican market with cheap corn by U.S. agro-businesses drove down the price of Mexican corn and saw 1 million to 3 million poor Mexican farmers go bankrupt and lose their small farms. Many of them crossed the border into the United States in a desperate effort to find work.

    “Obama has misled the public throughout this process,” Dr. Flowers said. “He claimed that environmental groups were supportive of the agreement because it provided environmental protections, and this has now been proven false. He told us that it would create 650,000 jobs, and this has now been proven false. He calls this a 21st century trade agreement, but it actually rolls back progress made in Bush-era trade agreements. The most recent model of a 21st century trade agreement is the Korean free trade agreement. That was supposed to create 140,000 U.S. jobs. But what we saw within a couple years was a loss of about 70,000 jobs and a larger trade deficit with Korea. This agreement [the TPP] is sold to us with the same deceits that were used to sell us NAFTA and other trade agreements.”

    The agreement, in essence, becomes global law. Any agreements over carbon emissions by countries made through the United Nations are effectively rendered null and void by the TPP.

    “Trade agreements are binding,” Flowers said. “They supersede any of the nonbinding agreements made by the United Nations Climate Change Conference that might come out of Paris.”

    There is more than enough evidence from past trade agreements to indicate where the TPP—often called “NAFTA on steroids”—will lead. It is part of the inexorable march by corporations to wrest from us the ability to use government to defend the public and to build social and political organizations that promote the common good. Our corporate masters seek to turn the natural world and human beings into malleable commodities that will be used and exploited until exhaustion or collapse. Trade agreements are the tools being used to achieve this subjugation. The only response left is open, sustained and defiant popular revolt.


    There is obviously nothing more important in the world than corporations, their potential consumers and the profit they provide.


    Not the environment, not people and their well-being, nor the future. Only money is important, but, getting it never satisfies the greed that is always there. That craving must always be fed by influencing more opportunities.

    The acid that is weakening the foundations of the country is corporate control of every part of government. Almost every politician, and government agency is completely captured which again proves the lie of over-regulation. Agencies are staffed with former industry lobbyists (and executives) of the companies that are supposed to be under regulation. The world-wide depression, yes depression, caused by WS, the subsequent bailout and lack of investigation and prosecutions is the most recent and repellent example.

    The TPP is the ultimate grab for corporate power and our "liberal" president (always a myth to the knowledgeable) cheerleads for it showing how deeply this acid has been infused into government.

    It must not stand.
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-08-2015 at 04:03 PM.

  5. Atypical is offline
    01-09-2016, 06:17 PM #205
    What the Media Can Learn From Bill Maher: 1 Year After Hebdo Attack, Satirists Still Take Risks Media Won't

    Irony, snarky comedy and satire still remain our best weapons against political folly and media spectacle.

    By Sophia A. McClennen / Salon January 9, 2016

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s staff. In typical Hebdo form, the magazine has chosen to mark the event with a provocative cover that features a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, accompanied by the text: “One year later: the assassin is still out there.” Their point? Little has changed.

    While the cover has already come under fire for crossing the line, including a condemnation from the Vatican, it’s worth pausing to reflect on the fact that the cartoonists are right. Little has, indeed, changed: Charlie Hebdo is still suffering threats because they refuse to stop covering religion; the threat of extremism is still unchecked; and satirical media continues to offer the public a provocative view of the truth that we don’t get from mainstream media.

    While millions rallied in support of “Charlie Hebdo” after the attacks, it was also true that in the days following many condemned the satirists for crossing the line and for using humor in ways that were degrading and disrespectful. Their choice to depict the Prophet Mohammed came under fire, as did their grotesquely sexualized cartoons. They were often critiqued for their staunch atheist and secularist views.

    While Charlie Hebdo might seem crass to U.S. audiences, it follows the humor genre found in Mad Magazine, South Park, The Onion and “The Simpsons;” and it follows in the tradition of French absurdist humor. It satirizes features of French life but focuses more than half of its humor on politics. According to Le Monde, which analyzed a 10-year breakdown of Charilie Hebdo’s cartoons, only 7.3 percent of all of their cartoons ridiculed religion and only 1.3 percent of their cartoons featured Islam.

    And yet, one year after some of their cartoonists were murdered for daring to draw the Prophet, they are still under fire for being intolerant of religion. The obsessive critique reveals two key issues: First, despite being attacked by terrorists, the Hebdo artists are still criticized for their worldviews more than the terrorists themselves; and second, leftist politics is caught in a tough bind when it comes to openly debating religion and conflict.

    Charlie Hebdo director Laurent Sourisseau, who goes by the name Riss, dives right into this thorny issue in the editorial he wrote to accompany his cartoon on the new cover. He explains that before the attacks he and his colleagues never thought it would be possible to be assassinated for cartoons: “We saw France as a secular haven, in which it was possible to take [a] piss, to lampoon, to have fun without a thought for dogmas or lunatics.” He explains that one of their key mantras was “**** everything” — a position that simply means that nothing is sacred, nothing is taboo. The idea was to cross every line in an effort to use irony and satire to question the status quo.

    But he points out that he now sees he was wrong about France. Not only were there people plotting to kill him and his friends; but they were also under fire from“embittered intellectuals, insipid columnists and jealous journalists who take the utmost care in making sure not to tread on dangerous ground by writing anything sincere.” They were attacked by the religious for blasphemy and by the media because they dared to raise issues that the media was largely avoiding. One of those issues was the link between religion and terrorist violence.

    A weird consequence of this is that the secularism of Hebdo is often treated as more of a social threat than the religious convictions of the terrorists. And the reason for that, as Bill Maher has pointed out, is that we are more comfortable critiquing a group of comedians than we are asking tough questions about the role of Islam in contemporary conflict. As Maher puts it, we need to be able to talk about these issues without being condemned for Islamophobia just as we would want to talk about the religious ideology of the KKK.

    At the core of the dilemma is the question of how to square a politics of tolerance and diversity with a commitment to rational thought and critical thinking that derives from secularism.

    The Vatican newspaper claims that, “In Charlie Hebdo’s choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion.”

    But here’s the catch. Satirists like Hebdo’s cartoonists or Maher don’t care about being politically correct. They see it is a form of censorship and restriction that cuts off productive and necessary debate. They follow the line of thought that considers religion as the “opiate of the masses.” And for that they are condemned.

    It’s worth noting that Donald Trump can threaten to “scare” Pope Francis and get no reply. But Charlie Hebdo draws a provocative, ironic cover and gets chastised by the Vatican.

    This all points to the claim made by Riss that nothing has changed. The cartoonists are still attacked while the attackers roam free and the ideologies that buttress them go unchecked.

    Meanwhile, as comedian Lee Camp reminds us, we continue drone strikes on terrorists groups that miss their target 90 percent of the time. Just as Hebdo mocks the prevailing atmosphere of conservatism, Camp wonders why policy continues to favor militarism when it has been consistently shown to fail. One year after the attacks on Hebdo there has been no significant policy shift in counter-terrorism; there have just been more civilian casualties.

    In a brilliant “Redacted Tonight” bit that asks why the mainstream media missed covering the “drone papers,” Camp reminds us of the many ways that satire news has increasingly come to offer the public a much-needed source of information.

    If the comedy of Hebdo is tied to advocating anarchistic secularism, in the U.S. much of our satire has focused on stepping in for a compromised news media. But what all these comedians and satirical artists have in common is a core commitment to using the gutsy edge of satire to shake the public out of complacency.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-09-2016 at 06:19 PM.

  6. Atypical is offline
    01-09-2016, 06:18 PM #206

    Here in the United States we have a presidential campaign underway where two top candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, have not had one of their fact-checked statements come back as true. And we have aTV news media dominated by Fox News, which cultivates loyal followers more than it reports meaningful information.

    One year after the Hebdo attacks it is still satire that is most likely to help inform the public and encourage critical reflection. And that’s not just conjecture. We have data on how satire helps stimulate critical thinking and how those citizens who consume satire have higher aptitude on current issues.

    The catch, though, is that some will focus on whether the humor of the satirists is just mean — as seen in the Vatican critique of Hebdo’s cover. The trick is that satire communicates in the language of irony and sarcasm. It is not a straightforward form of communication and it is always open to interpretation. Those who feel like they are the butt of the joke react aggressively. When someone has interpreted satire as literal and cruel, telling them they didn’t get the joke usually doesn’t help.

    Satire strikes a nerve, which is why it was cartoonists listed on the most wanted list for al Qaeda and not journalists. And it’s why satirists get smacked by the Vatican for crossing the line, but politicians get a free pass. It’s why drones can hit their target only 10 percent of the time, but more folks are worried about the political correctness of Charlie Hebdo.

    Satirists don’t commit physical violence, but their ideas come under attack all the time. That is why satirists often feel like a greater threat than straight news reporters or loony politicians like Trump. Fox News lies and fosters a community of cult-like followers, but the world worries about comedians. As Riss explains in the new issue of Charlie Hebdo, it’s time to ask whether that makes sense.

    Think about it. It was Stephen Colbert who finally showed the public that Ted Cruz is a fool. It was Bill Maher who dared to ask if we could talk about the ties between Islam and ISIS. It was John Oliver who managed to hamstring the televangelists. It was Lee Camp who dared to reveal the hypocrisy of the World Bank. It was Larry Wilmore and his staff who dared to say “**** Trump” and walk off their show in protest of his xenophobia. It is Michael Moore’s new film “Where to Invade Next” that has the guts to reveal that the military solution to political crisis has failed us. And it is“Charlie Hebdo” that is proving that the attack on secular satire is more vicious than the attacks on ideologues of all stripes

    Satire doesn’t just speak truth to power; it speaks ironic snark to power — and that’s part of what can make it so offensive and so provocative. One year after the brutal attacks on Charlie Hebdo nothing has changed: Irony, snarky comedy, and sarcastic satire still remain our best weapons against political folly and media spectacle. Andone year later, those same tactics still bother the hell out of those who don’t get the joke.

  7. Atypical is offline
    01-26-2016, 08:15 PM #207
    Government Run Like a Business Poisons Kids

    The lead poisoning of Flint children by a government based on Republican business values is no surprise.

    By Leo Gerard / AlterNet January 26, 2016

    The people of Michigan hired themselves a GOP businessman to be governor in 2011. And what they got was children poisoned by public water in Flint.

    That is, what they got was a government run based on GOP business values.

    To line the pockets of CEOs and shareholders, corporations cut corners in ways that frequently end up injuring workers and the public. Think of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster where safety violations killed 29 workers or the Takata airbag fatalities that occurred despite workers voicing safety concerns or the nine deaths and 714 illnesses caused by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter knowingly sold by Peanut Corporation of America.

    So, really, the lead poisoning of Flint children by a government based on Republican business values is no surprise.

    Last week, in his state of the state address, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, formerly a venture capitalist, apologized to the people of Flint who have been drinking water tainted with a known, potent neurotoxin since April of 2014. And then Snyder said, “I will fix it.”

    Lead poisoning is irreversible. It can’t be fixed. In addition, now, two outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease that sickened 87 and killed 10 have been linked to the foul water. There’s no fixing dead people.

    The GOP businessman-governor also said in his state of the state address last week: “Government failed you.” That’s exactly what Republicans want. They want government to fail so that they can justify crushing it, eliminating much of what it does for people and turning over the rest to private business, which profits by cutting corners the way Peanut Corporation of America did.

    Then, when it all falls apart like it did in Flint, it’s amazing how quick those Republicans put their hands out for a federal bailout. That’s what Snyder did. He’s a venture capitalist, after all. That’s the Wall Street way.

    Michigan didn’t have to poison Flint’s children. That was a values choice. And Republican Gov. Rick Snyder values big business more than little children.

    Immediately after Snyder got elected, he gave his corporate buddies a big fat tax break and raised taxes on individuals, including poor people and pensioners. An analysis by the Detroit Free Press in 2014 showed individuals were forking over a total of $900 million more a year. By contrast, businesses paid $1.7 billion less annually after Snyder cut their tax bills.

    If corporations had paid their fair share in taxes over the five years that Snyder has been in charge, Michigan would have an additional $8.5 billion to help struggling cities like Flint afford clean water and struggling school districts like Detroit afford decent education. But giving businesses a tax break was more important to GOP businessman Snyder.

    Long before Snyder took office, Flint fell into financial trouble as the auto industry abandoned it. But the Republican governor’s administration appointed the emergency manager who decided to disconnect Flint from a safe public water source and draw instead from the Flint River to save between $1 million and $2 million a year.

    Almost immediately, the people of Flint began complaining. The Flint River water was yellow, orange or brown. It tasted and smelled bad. It caused rashes and nausea. It produced so much corrosion at a GM plant that the factory switched to another water source.

    The public water that had been piped to Flint homes from Lake Huron for nearly five decades had been treated to prevent metals in the pipes and pipe joints from leaching out. The water from the Flint River was untreated, even though it is more corrosive. So lead and iron leached into the water drawn by Flint residents. Both metals are dangerous.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe blood lead level in children. Iron pulls chlorine out of water, allowing bacteria to thrive. This creates a particularly fertile environment for Legionnaires because that bacteria needs iron to grow.

    Smelly, foul-tasting orange and brown water was good enough for Flint residents as far as the Snyder administration was concerned. Beyond ignoring the concerns of Flint residents, officials within his administration aggressively mocked and belittled them.

    Last year, in February, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) warned Michigan state officials that lead and other contaminants were leaching into the untreated Flint water. The state did nothing. In June, an EPA regulations manager reported that the state appeared to be deliberately testing the water in a way that would seriously understate the levels of lead.

    Instead of intervening immediately to stop the poisoning, state officials argued Michigan wasn’t required to treat the water to fix the problem. Months later, when independent studies confirmed high levels of lead, state officials reacted initially by denying the results.

    That’s definitely a government run on GOP-business values failing the people. Just like Peanut Corporation of America.

    One of those independent studies was conducted by pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Last September, she found a spike in blood lead levels in Flint children, some three times higher than those in earlier routine tests.

    Among the poisoned is 4-year-old Gavin Walters, who lost 27 pounds after the water switch and who sometimes seemed unable to pronounce words he knew, his mother, LeeAnne Walters, told the New York Times. “He is going to deal with the side effects of this for the rest of his life,” Ms. Walters said. “I don’t think there’s a word angry enough to describe my anger.”

    Last fall, after the state couldn’t deny the results of the independent studies anymore, Snyder’s administration agreed to come up with most of the $12 million needed to restore Lake Huron water to Flint. Had the state given Flint $12 million three years ago, the children of Flint would not have been poisoned.

    Then last week, Snyder asked state lawmakers to allocate $28 million to help Flint. And he appealed President Obama’s denial of his request to declare Flint a federal disaster area and give him $96 million to fix it.

    The President said federal law limited what he could do. He awarded Flint $5 million in response to what could be legitimately described as a federal emergency. But he could not make a disaster declaration because the calamity was man-made.

    This was not a Hurricane Katrina or Super Storm Sandy. The tragedy in Flint was a choice. This was a values decision about what was important. Giving a break to big business was the top priority for venture capitalist Snyder. Operating a shoddy government, over-taxing pensioners and poisoning Flint’s children was the result.

    And now Snyder is demanding a $96 million federal bailout. Just like Wall Street. When those capitalists mess up, then all of a sudden they think government works.


    This is more than disgusting but typical of conservative "businessmen."

    Many supporting links in the article.
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-26-2016 at 08:18 PM.

  8. Atypical is offline
    03-05-2016, 11:29 PM #208
    Where do we go from here?

    In the early eighties the war on the country's existing principles accelerated. The operating slogans became “the government does everything wrong,” but business was always right, taxes are too high and always bad, women and sex must be controlled, the military needs to get tough with our “enemies” and we have a right to make them do what we want, and anyone who disagrees with any of that is not patriotic, and clearly has no “family values.” These memes and others are embedded in the minds of many due to the relentless propaganda that reinforces them to this day.

    The horrible attack on 9/11 made most of us fearful and the media, and factions in the government, kept us that way. Remember the colored warning levels? We now have militarized police departments and the monitoring of everything we do in the name of “protecting the country.”

    As time went on wealth inequity grew, coupled with ever increasing corporate power while incomes for those not in the top 5% remained static. Trade deals were rushed into with the suggestion that they would make everything better for all. They didn't.

    All this and more was primarily promoted by conservatives with assistance from many Democrats.

    It is accepted by many that we essentially have a one party government with two branches.

    There are only two choices to remedy what is happening as I see it. Give in to the inexorable move toward fascism or make a valiant attempt to reverse what we can. Power (of all kinds) is clearly in the hands of too few.

    Those in power like it this way. They can essentially control government by funneling money to politicians to keep their “loyalty.” It works.

    No one currently running, with one exception, has any interest in making the right changes regardless of their bluster and support.

    Only Bernie Sanders has a consistent record over 40 years of saying the same things he is saying now. He wants to address violations of the standards that we have always claimed this country is about.

    It's easy to deal superficially and emotionally with complicated decisions. We all do it. But, this time the stakes are much too high and we should invest in careful contemplation before plunging ahead emotionally like we sometimes do.

    No none knows what will happen in any scenario. But, this I know – Bernie Sanders is the only one who has proven he knows AND cares about fixing what's wrong.

    I hope he gets a chance to try.

    I'm Atypical, and I approve this message.

  9. Atypical is offline
    04-19-2016, 05:27 PM #209
    Six Years Later, Worried Gulf Residents to Hold Online Town Hall on BP Spill Health Impacts

    Tuesday, 19 April 2016

    By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

    In April 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform exploded, killing 11 workers before sinking 5,000 feet to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Oil gushed for 87 days unchecked, creating the single-largest marine oil disaster in US history.

    In response to the disaster, BP used 1.8 million gallons of highly toxic Corexit dispersants in what the oil giant claimed was an effort to keep the oil from reaching shore. Critics accuse BP of sinking the oil with the dispersants as a means of minimizing fines under the Clean Water Act.

    "The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life and wildlife," IPS reported in 2010, adding:

    A March 1987 report titled "Organic Solvent Neurotoxicity," by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states: "The acute neurotoxic effects of organic solvent exposure in workers and laboratory animals are narcosis, anesthesia, central nervous system (CNS) depression, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, and death.
    "Several chemicals and chemical compounds listed in the NIOSH report, such as styrene, toluene and xylene, are now present in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of BP's dispersants mixing with BP's crude oil," IPS reported, a situation which other scientific reports show creates a toxicity 40 times worse than the oil alone.

    Joe Yerkes is a Florida fisherman who joined the cleanup effort of the disaster after he was put out of work by the oil in his fishing waters.

    Yerkes was exposed to both oil and dispersants while cleaning up oil.

    "I have spent the years since the spill happened literally trying to survive," Yerkes told Truthout in 2014. "I've lost five friends now who were also exposed to BP's oil and dispersants, who were unable to seek proper treatment to extract the chemicals from their bodies before the exposure killed them."

    "Not long after his exposure, Yerkes became violently ill, started bleeding from his nose and ears, and began vomiting blood. When he couldn't get well, he had his blood tested and found it contained high levels of chemicals, which his physician attributed to BP's oil disaster," Truthout reported in 2014.

    Yerkes said at the time that he had to regularly give himself intravenous treatments of saline flushes and various medications. "I have chronic headaches, a fever, and suffer chronic unbearable pain in my muscles and joints, and have had chemical pneumonia twice so far," he told Truthout.

    A few months after the disaster began, "Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and MacArthur fellow, conducted blood tests for volatile solvents on eight people who" lived and worked along the Gulf Coast, IPS reported. What she found was alarming but not surprising.

    "All eight individuals tested had Ethylbenzene and m,p- Xylene in their blood in excess of the NHANES 95th Percentile," according to Subra's report. "Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil. The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil."
    Yerkes also had his blood tested, and found it contained the chemicals as well.

    Yet now, six years on, untold numbers of coastal residents have been suffering health effects from, they believe, BP's oil and dispersants. A town hall is being held on April 20, the six-year anniversary of the disaster's beginning, to bring attention to what some experts are now calling a widespread human health crisis.

    "There Is No More Ignoring This"

    Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Truthout in 2014 that she had seen "clear indications of widespread toxic chemical exposure across the four-state impact zone of BP's oil disaster (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida)."

    "It's pretty clear to me, after spending a year in the Gulf coastal communities during 2010 and 2011, that the suite of illnesses that developed during this time were above and beyond the background level of illnesses incurred in the Gulf," Ott said at the time.

    Ott added that people she was seeing at the time, along the roughly 1,000-mile impact zone, were all consistently describing the same symptoms of exposure to chemicals in the oil and dispersants.

    "Medical literature supports that these are the symptoms, and I would expect to see increased rates of early-term miscarriages for women, early developmental issues for children born to women who were exposed to breathing these fumes and vapors, and also continuing chemical hypersensitivity," Ott told Truthout in 2014.

    "There is no more ignoring this," she said recently.

    Ott will be participating in the town hall, which is being streamed online live at 5 pm CST. Local residents, health activists and experts will discuss chemical exposure hazards, personal stories and government actions (or lack thereof) in hopes of educating the public and bringing more people to action.

    This event will also mark the launch of an international awareness campaign for populations at risk of oil and chemical exposures from industrial operations, and the announcement of a soon-to-be-released documentary film called The Rising. The film chronicles stories of coastal residents experiencing extreme health impacts from BP's disaster, and also documents a growing grassroots movement aimed at providing aid to people who need it and bringing accountability to those responsible for the crisis.

    "This isn't about, 'I don't care about the Gulf,'" said Kendra, a Gulf Coast parent who asked to withhold her last name due to security concerns, in a press statement. "You need to take a look in your own backyard. They did it here. They will do it to you."

    Ott will moderate the town hall, where people around the world can watch and ask questions to the people affected, as well as several oil and health experts.

    "The human health consequences of these types of operations have been swept under the rug," Mark Manning, a former oil field worker and director of The Rising, said in a press statement. "These communities and the people in them have been sacrificed."

    Marylee Orr, executive director of Louisiana Environmental Action Network, has spoken to Truthout at length over the years about her concerns about the human health crisis BP's legacy has caused along the Gulf Coast.

    "I've gotten these phone calls telling me. 'I'm vomiting and I have chest pains, excessive bleeding,' bleeding from the breasts for women * you name it," Orr says in the trailer for The Rising.

    Darla Rooks, the captain of a shrimp boat, adds in the trailer, "Our children are dying, our animals are dying, our babies are born premature, birth defects * nobody is going to survive this crap."

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-19-2016 at 05:29 PM.

  10. Atypical is offline
    04-19-2016, 05:28 PM #210

    An "Attempted Cover-Up"

    Hugh B. Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been critical of both BP and the federal government's response to the disaster from the beginning.

    "There was an attempt on the part of the government and BP to cover up the volume of the spill," Kaufman said. "Because of the financial impact to BP, massive use of dispersants was a part of the attempted cover-up."

    The town hall and ongoing grassroots organizing in the Gulf are aimed at exposing the cover-up, as well as more broadly showing the true costs of fossil fuels to the planet and human health.

    Both the film and the campaign provide "the missing and, arguably, most important piece to the climate, environmental and energy debates by connecting public health to fossil fuel operations," Manning said. "It's hard to believe, but this connection hasn't been made yet!"

    "It is imperative that the direct connection between fossil fuel operations and disastrous human health effects be exposed because it is the 'smoking gun' in changing public dialogue and political positioning on energy policy," Manning added.

    His film project, along with the grassroots campaign, intends to push human health to be a top consideration in oil operations, and to increase oil operation costs by forcing proper settlements for exposed and ailing populations.

    He hopes that this will, in turn, create even higher costs as more expensive safety measures will need to be taken during production and cleanup. Rising costs would then heavily incentivize an increase in funding and support for alternative energy.

    "We strongly believe that an industry forced to protect human health foremost will be forced to protect environmental health," Manning said. "By flipping the dialogue to 'people first,' the environment will follow because what is truly healthy for people is healthy for the planet."

    The full film trailer and film website can be found here, while the community action and education website is here.


    ANOTHER example of a corporation doing everything it can to avoid responsibility for a careless, negligent catastrophe.

    I understand that BP can write off most of the incident's penalties and costs from their taxes. Another victimization of the public that must not stand.
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-19-2016 at 05:34 PM.

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