‘Round-up Ready’ Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

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‘The alarming decline of monarchs is driven in large part’ by Roundup Ready crops, Center for Food Safety finds’

Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’
Deirdre Fulton – CommonDreams – 5 Feb.15

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt. Monarchs lay eggs exclusively on plants in the milkweed family, the only food their larvae will eat.

And the loss of milkweed can be blamed on the proliferation of glyphosate, one of the very few herbicides that kills the perennial plant and a primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. While glyphosate was little used two decades ago, it has become by far the most heavily used herbicide in the U.S. thanks to glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready corn and soybean crops. According to the Center for Food Safety, corn and soybean fields in the Corn Belt have lost 99 percent of their milkweed since 1999.

“The alarming decline of monarchs is driven in large part by the massive spraying of glyphosate herbicide on genetically engineered crops, which has virtually eliminated monarch habitat in the corn and soybean fields that dominates the Midwest landscape,” said Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst and co-author of the report. “Glyphosate is the monarch’s enemy number one.”

At the end of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for monarch butterflies. The agency is now conducting a one-year status review on monarchs.

While CFS said endangered species protection is “paramount,” the report lists numerous interim and additional policy recommendations, including that the “U.S. Department of Agriculture should reject applications to approve new herbicide-resistant crops, and EPA should deny registration of herbicides for use on them, unless or until appropriate restrictions are enacted to ameliorate their harms to milkweeds, monarchs and pollinators.”

United States, United Kingdom fully back Bahrain as an Apartheid Regime

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Bahrain is an apartheid regime: Rajab
23 Jan.15 – PressTV

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab says the Manama regime has created an apartheid system in the Persian Gulf country, Press TV reports.

Rajab told Press TV in an interview on Thursday that the Bahraini government has built an apartheid system by separating Shias and Sunnis.

“Almost half of the country – Shias – can’t… live,” he said.

He also noted that the Manama regime is trying to present the conflict in Bahrain as a “Shia-Sunni” one, while, in fact, the revolution has “got nothing to do with religion.”

The problem is with the violation of rights in the country, Rajab said.

He also criticized the West for turning a blind eye to the rights violations in Bahrain.

He said the Western governments, specifically the UK, “speak two languages,” one about human rights and justice for their own people and one for other countries.

He added that the West considers Shias a “threat because Iran is not in line with the Western governments, [and] Hezbollah [is] fighting Israel.” …more

Uprising anniversary – Bahrain Police unleash murderous scourge against Protesters

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Bahrain: security forces shoot boy to the face
AlWefaq – 1 Feb.14

Bahrain’s claims of investigations into police human rights abuses are yet again smashed as a picture of a boy’s face, which was covered in blood, emerged last Friday.

Just days after the Interior Ministry’s announcement to open an investigation into a police shooting at a protester, security police opened fire again on protesters calling for the release of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman in Duraz, west of the capital Manama. This time, the victim was 13 year old Mohammed who sustained severe wounds from buckshot in the face. Mohammed’s condition is worrying and he is still under medical observation to save his life.

Such crimes can only indicate that the security forces are following a systematic approach to target the safety and lives of the protesters.

Many teenagers and children were killed by security forces on streets, however, the injustice system in Bahrain has failed to bring perpetrators to justice. …source

Street Misery – Bahrain Security forces attempt murder of yet another protester

Bahrain security forces shoot directly at protester’s face
Hussain Radhi – BCHR – 21 Jan.15

A video has emerged showing Bahrain security forces appearing to shoot a protester in the face at close range, using birdshots. According to activists, the video was filmed Tuesday in the capital Manama’s suburb of Bilad al-Qadeem, which has seen daily protests ever since opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested in late December.

In the video, a man holding up a poster of Salman is standing on a street corner, just a few metres away from an armoured police vehicle. The vehicle is covered in splats of paint, which local residents have taken to throwing from their windows when these vehicles roll through their streets. For a while, nothing happens. But suddenly, a slot opens in the side of the vehicle, and the barrel of a gun emerges. Shots are fired directly at the protester.

He then starts to run and collapses in the street. He can be seen bleeding profusely from his face. Several protesters rush to carry him away, and the camera cuts off. In another scene – which France 24 has decided not to show here, as it is quite graphic – the same man is being treated at an unknown location. His face is riddled with what appear to be small birdshot wounds. Birdshots are commonly used by Bahraini security forces against protesters.

“The man was not taken to a hospital – protesters never are, because they know they would end up straight in jail”

Tensions have been very high in Bilad al-Qadeem since Salman’s arrest, because it is his hometown. Security forces have all sorts of tactics to quell protests, often using copious amounts of tear gas and shooting birdshots. This man was quite brave to go up to the vehicle like he did because, unfortunately, this is not the first time security forces have shot protesters at close range. Several other such incidents have been reported in the past.

The man was not taken to a hospital – protesters never are, because they know they would end up straight in jail. But our contacts in the neighbourhood say his wounds are being treated.

Salman, who is expected to stand trial at the end of the month, is a Shiite cleric accused of attempting to overthrow the government. He is also the head of the Al Wefaq movement, a Shiite political party that is highly critical of the country’s rulers. On Tuesday, another opposition activist, Nabeel Rajab, was sentenced to six months in prison for a tweet that allegedly insulted the army.

Bahrain is a Shiite-majority country (about 75 percent of the population), ruled by an exclusively Sunni monarchy and government. Since February 2011, members of the Shiite community who feel discriminated against have regularly gone into the streets in protest. Dozens of protesters have been killed since then. …source

Delays meet WIPP reopening as trail of DOE Inc. lies, deception, double-talk obfuscate facts

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Cold War Waste Disposal Stalled Around U.S. as WIPP Reopening Delayed by Months
ICTMN Staff – 19 Jan.15

As the Department of Energy challenges the fines levied against it by New Mexico, new revelations are coming to light on safety lapses and a delay in reopening the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), closed since a radiation leak compromised the nation’s only underground disposal facility for Cold War–related nuclear waste last February.

Originally scheduled to reopen in 2016, the site will be unable to take new shipments of waste until at least 2018, said the Energy Department and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor running the federal repository, last week. Limited operations can resume in 2016, the Associated Press reported on January 15, but officials said the facility needs a new ventilation system and exhaust shaft before it can accept new material. In fact, officials have not even been able to close a storage bunker that was affected by the leak, AP said, even though the deadline was January 1.

“The initial closure of Panel 6 was supposed to be one of the quick and easy things to be done,” said nuclear-waste watchdog Don Hancock to AP after a meeting in Carlsbad to discuss the cleanup efforts from the accident, in which a waste drum from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that was stored underground ruptured and leaked, contaminating 22 workers and closing the facility. “It’s not done. It’s not quick. It’s not easy. There are going to be risks to workers just to do that.”

The initial leak was followed by revelations that the WIPP and LANL had not followed their own safety precautions and rules, and then had covered up those very lapses. Along the way, kitty litter (organic versus inorganic) and a possible typo were highlighted as potential turning points in the chronicle of the leak.

He spoke after the Wednesday January 14 meeting between DOE officials, the contractor and others working on the cleanup.

“It’s more of a problem than they thought it would be because there’s a significant amount of contamination in the area,” said Hancock, who monitors WIPP for the Southwest Information and Research Center, a watchdog group, to the Santa Fe New Mexican. “They’re behind schedule on that, and they’re going to remain behind schedule.”

Now it has come to light that LANL had changed a procedure without first examining it for safety, the Albuquerque Journal reported on January 16. Moving the focus from whether organic or inorganic kitty litter should have been used in processing waste containing oxidizing nitrates (organic is one of the potential culprits in the explosion that caused the fire and subsequent leak), a December report from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board indicates that nitrates should not have been part of the waste stream at all, with or without organic matter.

“Investigators believe the radiation leak at WIPP resulted when organic, wheat-based cat litter provided fuel for a chemical reaction with oxidizing nitrate salts that were part of the waste stream packaged at Los Alamos. The nitrates were left over from a process used to extract plutonium,” the Albuquerque Journal reported. “But the new disclosure is the first suggestion that oxidizing nitrates—even without the addition of organic material—should have been a cause for concern as waste was packaged for WIPP.”

On December 6 the New Mexico Environment Department fined LANL and the WIPP $54 million for the various breaches, with indications that more could follow, in the biggest civil penalty ever levied by state authorities against the federal government.

A month later, on January 8, the DOE filed a legal response challenging the fines, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The New Mexico Environment Department stood its ground on the fines—$36.6 million against Los Alamos and copy7.7 million against WIPP.

The DOE disputes some of the state’s findings and said the fines were excessive, according to the newspaper. New Mexico’s environmental department said its conclusions were based on the DOE’s own data and that “we will not agree to back down on any of the problematic issues we identified in the compliance orders,” the Albuquerque Journal said. …more

Idaho added to short list of Spent Nuke Fuel Sites

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Former Idaho governors blast Otter’s nuclear waste deal
Karen Zatkulak – KTVB – 15 Jan.15

BOISE — Two former Idaho governors are furious and say their work keeping nuclear waste out of Idaho could be erased by a recent deal backed by Gov. Butch Otter.

Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt were so upset over the recent deal with the Department of Energy that they held a press conference Thursday morning.

They say the deal goes against an agreement made back in 1995, concerning spent nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory.

“It’s a travesty as to what has taken place under their watch,” said Andrus.

Back in 1995, the spent nuclear fuel coming in to the Idaho National Laboratory was huge concern for many and a highly debated issue that crossed party lines.

It was that year that former Gov. Cecil Andrus’ work to keep the waste out came together in an agreement drafted by then Gov. Phil Batt, and passed by voters.

The one-of-a-kind deal between Idaho and several federal agencies said commercial nuclear waste could not be shipped into the Idaho National Laboratory.

“That agreement was designed specifically to keep nuclear waste from coming in to Idaho, they want to bring more in, it’s a total revocation of what we were trying to do in this agreement,” said Andrus.

Batt and Andrus were emotional about the letter, sent last week from Gov. Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to the Department of Energy. It expressed support for a new research project that would bring two shipments of spent fuel rods into Idaho.

“It’s going to be that they’ve created a Yucca Mountain in Idaho. That the two of them have done to this state what every other state has opposed and what we have opposed to this date,” said Batt. …more

Unsafe above, unsafe below WIPP engineers have broke-down ventilation system

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WIPP ventilation system is unsafe, needs improvements
By Sarah Matott – 7 Jan.15 – Carlsbad Argus

CARLSBAD>> Two reports about inadequate safety conditions at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant criticized the facilities contractor for insufficient information in the plans it created to control the decisions that are made during an emergency.

Both reports were conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments starting in June and focused on WIPP’s recovery plan for operating diesel equipment with restricted airflows, and on the deficiencies found in the facility’s safety maintenance assessments.

The contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership, has already started to revise its plans to improve the ventilation system and further ensure the safety conditions of their workers.

Donovan Mager, communications manager at Nuclear Waste Partnership, said that improving the air filtration in the underground was already a part of the WIPP recovery plan, and that it is something that WIPP will continue to improve.

One report focused on the facilities use of diesel-powered equipment underground.

The report said that the current conditions at WIPP present a challenge for conducting safe operations with the underground diesel equipment due to the air filters currently being used, which restrict the total airflows in the underground working areas.

According to the DOE review, Nuclear Waste Partnership must resolve issues with underground ventilation to protect workers from the diesel-filled air.
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Diesel fuel powers equipment at WIPP, such as generators, forklifts and machinery used for roof-bolting.

“The most significant concern is that NWP does not have a sound engineering approach for determining the minimum ventilation rates that will ensure safe conditions for underground workers,” the Office of Enterprise Assessments report said.

The second report released by the Office of Enterprise Assessments Review found that WIPP did not follow safety rules the Department of Energy had set. Among the rules not followed in 2014 was a requirement that the facility undergo safety self- assessments every three years. …more

Berlin’s Kreuzberg district street art blacked out

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World-famous Berlin street art blacked out
12 Dec. 14 – The Local DE

Twitter users in the capital’s Kreuzberg district reported that men arrived with cranes and spotlights on Thursday night to paint over two of the capital’s most famous street art pieces.

The street art in at Cuvrybrache in the Kreuzberg neighborhood have caught the eye of Berliners and tourists alike since they were first painted by Italian street artist Blu in 2007 and 2008.

They are often listed among the top street art sites to visit in Berlin.

One shows a headless man straightening his tie with gold watches on either wrist, connected by chains – a commentary on modern employees’ enslavement to time.

The other is of two men struggling to demask each other, one representing East Berlin and the other West Berlin, making a statement about the formerly divided city’s troubled past.

But construction plans by architectural firm Langhof and investor Artur Süsskind would tear down the buildings on which the murals are painted to build 250 apartments, a kindergarten, a supermarket and an open-air terrace facing out onto the River Spree.

The online petition, by resident Jascha Herr, wants to place the murals under monument protection. As of Friday morning, the petition had collected 4,669 signatures and seeks to obtain 5,000.

“The city of Berlin loves to promote its alternative scene – and more precisely the cultural value of its artists – but it simultaneously discards them,” Herr said in his petition. “It is simply about selling to investors, who only see personal profit in the alternative landmarks of the city. But the cultural identity of the city belongs to all of us.”

….more

Few Give Daily Massacres Notice as Charlie Spectacle Takes The Streets

largedemonstration

Child suicide bomber kills at least 16 in Nigeria

10 Jan.15 – By Lanre Ola and Isaac Abrak

MAIDUGURI/KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – A bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.

“The explosive devices were wrapped around her body and the girl looked no more than 10 years old,” a police source said.

Maiduguri, the capital of northern Borno state, lies in the heartland of an insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and is often hit by bomb attacks.

A Nigerian security source said the bomb went off at 12:15 p.m. The girl was killed and the bodies of at least 16 victims were counted in one hospital by mid-afternoon, civilian joint task force member Zakariya Mohammed told Reuters.

“Right now, there are 27 injured people in Borno Medical Hospital, while more were taken to other hospitals,” he said. …more


 

Suicide attack at Lebanese cafe kills at least seven
10 Jan.15 – By Nazih Siddiq – Reuters

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) – A suicide bomb attack on a cafe in the Lebanese city of Tripoli killed at least seven people on Saturday, the latest violence to hit a region repeatedly buffeted by violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official affiliate in the Syrian civil war, said it carried out the double suicide attack in the predominantly Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen “in revenge for the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon”. The statement appeared on a Twitter feed operated by the group’s media arm.

Lebanon’s National News Agency gave the names of two suicide attackers it said were from Tripoli, an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim city whose long-standing sectarian tensions have been exacerbated by the Syrian civil war.

Lebanon’s Health Ministry said the attack killed seven people. Other officials put the death toll at nine. Three dozen people were wounded.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in a statement the attack was “a new attempt to spread the seeds of strife” in Tripoli and would not “weaken the determination of the state and its decision to confront terrorism and terrorists”. …more


 

Car bomb kills 35 people outside Yemen police college
By Mohammed Ghobari – SANAA – 7 Jan.15

(Reuters) – A car bomb exploded outside a police college in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing 35 people and wounding dozens in an attack authorities blamed on Al Qaeda militants.

It was the second bombing in Yemen to cause multiple casualties in a week, following a suicide attack last Thursday that killed 26 people at a cultural center in Ibb city.

Police Brigadier Abdulaziz al-Qudsi said a booby-trapped vehicle with a driver and passenger in the front had been parked near where people waiting to register were standing by the college wall at about 7 a.m. (0400 GMT).

The pair then got out and left the scene, then the bus exploded, he said, according to state news agency Saba. A total of 35 people were killed and 68 wounded, Qudsi said.

“The situation is catastrophic. We arrived to find bodies piled on top of each other,” a paramedic at the scene told Reuters as ambulances took casualties away. …more