Attack of the Monsanto Superinsects

Stephan:  Once again Big Agra hubris threatens the eco-system. Just as overuse of antibiotics has created superbugs in hospitals so Monsanto has created superbugs and superweeds in nature. Greed blinds these people to a simple truth... Nature bats last.

Over the past decade and a half, as Monsanto built up its globe-spanning, multi-billion-dollar genetically modified seed empire, it made two major pitches to farmers.

The first involved weeds. Leave the weed management to us, Monsanto insisted. We’ve engineered plants that can survive our very own herbicide. Just pay up for our patented, premium-priced seeds, spray your fields with our Roundup herbicide whenever the fancy strikes, and-voilà!-no more weeds.

The second involved crop-eating insects. We’ve isolated the toxic gene of a commonly used bacterial pesticide called Bt, Monsanto announced, and spliced it directly into crops. Along with corn and soy, you will literally be growing the pesticide that protects them. Plant our seeds, and watch your crops thrive while their pests shrivel and die.

Monsanto focused its technology on three widely planted, highly subsidized crops: corn, soy, and cotton. Large-scale farmers of these commodities, always operating on razor-thin profit margins, lunged at the chance to streamline their operations by essentially outsourcing their pest management to Monsanto. And so Monsanto’s high-tech crops essentially took over the corn/soy- and cotton-growing regions of the country.

But now the pitches are wearing thin. Dumping a single herbicide onto millions of acres of farmland has, predictably enough, given rise […]

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U.S. Newborn Death Rate Higher Than in 40 Other Nations

Stephan:  Best healthcare system in the world. Just ask any Republican Congressperson or Presidential candidate, and for millionaires, Senators, and Representatives (often the latter two are also the first) it may be true. But for most Americans the statement is completely bogus. The truth, as any one of a dozen markers tell us, is that the United States is not even in the top 25. The illness profit system is an abject failure. So why do they say it? I can never decide whether they are bone ignorant, or just inveterate liars.

NEW YORK – Pediatrician Dr. Joy Lawn credits a quick-thinking midwife with saving her life when she was born in northern Uganda more than four decades ago.

But the midwife attending her was clever enough to know that because the baby had not moved into the right position for delivery after 24 hours of labor, only a Cesarean section would save infant and mother. She sought help from a doctor.

‘I survived the odds because people expected me not to die,’ Lawn said Tuesday in a telephone interview from her base in Cape Town, South Africa. ‘We need health workers, we need governments not to expect newborns to die.’

Lawn, who works with the non-governmental organization Save the Children, and researchers from the World Health Organization, drive that point home in a new study looking at comprehensive global mortality rates for newborn babies.

Published on Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, the study shows that babies under 4 weeks old account for 41 percent of child deaths worldwide.

Lawn said the United Nations and other international organizations must pay closer attention to the newborn mortality rates in order to save more children’s lives. The U.N. reports annually on deaths of children under ages 5 and […]

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Is Homeland Security Spending Paying Off?

Stephan:  Our fear and paranoia as a nation has proven a wonderful windfall for corporations only too willing to suck up your tax dollars. We may not be able to feed our children, or take care of our elderly, or handicapped. But your police department is now a semi-military operation with surveillance powers Stalin could only dream of.

OGALLALA, Neb — On the edge of the Nebraska sand hills is Lake McConaughy, a 22-mile-long reservoir that in summer becomes a magnet for Winnebagos, fishermen and kite sailors. But officials here in Keith County, population 8,370, imagined this scene: an Al Qaeda sleeper cell hitching explosives onto a ski boat and plowing into the dam at the head of the lake.

The federal Department of Homeland Security gave the county $42,000 to buy state-of-the-art dive gear, including full-face masks, underwater lights and radios, and a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar capable of mapping wide areas of the lake floor.

Up on the lonely prairie, Cherry County, population 6,148, got thousands of federal dollars for cattle nose leads, halters and electric prods — in case terrorists decided to mount biological warfare against cows.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, where police fear militants might be eyeing DreamWorks Animation or the Disney creative campus, a $205,000 Homeland Security grant bought a 9-ton BearCat armored vehicle, complete with turret. More than 300 BearCats - many acquired with federal money - are now deployed by police across the country; the arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical […]

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New WikiLeaks Cables Show US Diplomats Promote Genetically Engineered Crops Worldwide

Stephan:  Here is the proof, if such were needed, that our diplomatic service is nothing but an extension of the Virtual Corporate States. Your tax dollars are funding programs that only they benefit from.

Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.

The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU).

Several cables describe ‘biotechnology outreach programs’ in countries across the globe, including African, Asian and South American countries where Western biotech agriculture had yet to gain a foothold. In some cables (such as this 2010 cable from Morocco) US diplomats ask the State Department for funds to send US biotech experts and trade industry representatives to target countries for discussions with high-profile politicians and agricultural officials.

Truthout recently reported on front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like Tunisia, South […]

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Windfalls of War: Pentagon’s No-bid Contracts Triple in 10 Years of War

Stephan:  In the America of the 21st century we don't bother to even give the illusion of fair play. The military-intelligence-security industry just sucks billions of your tax dollars out with no valves in the pipeline. You may be having trouble making your mortgage, but they are fat, rich, and happy. When you read this story just keep in your mind those 17 million hungry American children

As U.S. military deaths and injuries from roadside bombs escalated after the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon rushed to find solutions.

Competition is normally the cornerstone of better prices and better products, but the urgency of dealing with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, has been cited to justify a number of sole-source contracts to companies promising quick solutions over a decade of war.

One such company was Tucson-based Applied Energetics [3], which markets a futuristic weapon that shoots beams of lightning to detonate roadside bombs. The company won over $50 million in military contracts for their lightning weapon, all without full and open competition, even though there was another company marketing similar technology. Despite test failures, the company, in part thanks to congressional support, continued to get funding.

In August, the Marine Corps, which was on the verge of awarding the company yet another sole-source contract for the lightning weapon, cancelled the latest $3 million deal [4] after the commander of the unit in Afghanistan decided it didn’t meet their needs.

In the meantime, a competitor, called Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems [5], an Indiana-based firm with its own lightning-based counter-bomb technology, says it’s had good results with only a fraction of the federal funding […]

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