By Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
Institute of Science in Society
September 5, 2011
EXTRACTS: A meta-analysis on 19 studies confirms kidney and liver toxicity in rats and mice fed on GM soybean and maize, representing more than 80 percent of all commercially available GM food; it also exposes gross inadequacies of current risk assessment.
A team of independent scientists led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at Caen University in France carried out a meta-analysis combining the results of 19 previous studies , and their report concluded:
“From the regulatory tests performed today, it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species, especially since there is growing evidence of concern.”
The nineteen feeding studies performed to date were performed by both industry and independent scientists on either Bt maize or RR soybean, which constitute 83 percent of commercially available GM food. The Bt maize varieties all contain a specific pesticidal protein from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), one variety was also glufosinate herbicide tolerant; the RR soybean is tolerant to Roundup Ready (glyphosate) herbicide. The data were re-analysed with new biological and statistical methods, including the meta-analysis. Meta-analyses allow a more objective appraisal of the evidence and provide a more precise estimate of a treatment effect, giving greater statistical power, and reducing the significance of false-positive or false-negative results.
Although none of the findings are new, the meta-analysis gives further strength to the previous evidence. Importantly, it found that nine percent of tested parameters were disrupted, which is almost double the five percent that could be obtained by chance alone.
By Eugene Robinson
Posted on Sep 4, 2011
Republicans are trying to sell the false premise that protecting the environment inevitably means sacrificing jobs. President Obama should denounce this snake oil for what it is—rather than appear to accept it.
The GOP presidential candidates are in remarkable agreement on two articles of faith: The human imagination, apparently, is incapable of conjuring any circumstance under which any tax may ever be raised. And the Environmental Protection Agency is a sinister laboratory where Birkenstock-shod evildoers conjure regulations purposefully designed to rob Americans of their God-given jobs.
Actually, I’m being somewhat unfair to Mitt Romney, who tempers his EPA-bashing with the admission that he supports the agency “in much of its mission.” When he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney favored initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps even a regional cap-and-trade system. He doesn’t bring this up much on the campaign trail, but his opponents do.
The other contenders range from anti-EPA all the way to … well, to Michele Bachmann’s pledge to abolish the agency. Bachmann told an Iowa crowd last month that if she is elected president, “I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off, and they will only be about conservation. It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington.”
At the GOP debate in New Hampshire, Bachmann added that “there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the Job-Killing Organization of America.” Newt Gingrich agrees that the EPA—established in 1970 by that noted tree-hugger, Richard Nixon—should be dismantled.
By Glenn Greenwald
September 6, 2011
The Washington Post woke up a few days ago and realized that despite everything that has happened since 9/11 — no successful Terrorist attacks on the Homeland in 10 years, a country mired in debt and imposing “austerity” on ordinary Americans, and the election of a wonderfully sophisticated, urbane, progressive multinationalist from the storied anti-war Democratic Party — we are still smack in the middle of “the American era of endless war” with no end in sight. Citing the Pentagon’s most recent assessment of global threats, the Post notes that in contrast to prior decades — when “the military and the American public viewed war as an aberration and peace as the norm” (a dubious perception) — it is now clear, pursuant to official doctrine, that “America’s wars are unending and any talk of peace is quixotic or naive,” all as part of “America’s embrace of endless war in the 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001.”
We are now enduring a parade of wistful, contemplative, self-regarding pundit-meditations on The Meaning of 9/11 Ten Years Later or, far worse, self-righteous moralizing screeds about the nature of “evil” from war zealots with oceans of blood on their unrepentant hands (if I could impose one media rule, it would be that following every column or TV segment featuring American political commentators dramatically unloading their Where-I-Was-on-9/11-and-how-I-felt tales, there would be similar recollections offered from parents in the Muslim world talking about how their children died from the pre-9/11 acts of the U.S. and its client states or from post-9/11 American bombs, drones, checkpoint shootings and night raids: just for the sake of “balance,” which media outlets claim to crave). Notwithstanding this somber, collective 9/11 anniversary ritual descending upon us, the reality is that the nation’s political and media elite learned no lessons from that attack.
The mere utterance of the word Terrorism (which now means little more than: violence or extremism by Muslims in opposition to American or Israeli actions and interests) is — at least for America’s political and media class — as potent in justifying wars, civil liberties assaults, and massive military spending as it was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) — is the closest thing America has to a national religion.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/06/war/index.html
When this taxpayer-supported lifer flits into your town to declare that he will slash public benefits, he means in your life, not his.
By Jim Hightower
September 6, 2011
Presidential wannabe Rick Perry is flitting all around the country — hither, thither and yon — spreading little “Perry Tales” about himself and the many wonders he has worked as governor of Texas.
His top Perry Tale is a creationist story about what he has modestly branded “The Texas Miracle.” While the rest of the country is mired in joblessness, says the miracle worker, his state has added 1.2 million jobs during his 10-year tenure.
I’ve built “a job-creating machine,” the governor gushed during one of his recent flits across Iowa, and a Perry PR aide smugly added, “The governor’s job creation record speaks for itself.”
Actually, it doesn’t. Far from having the best unemployment rate in the nation, the Lone Star State ranks a middling 26th, behind New York, Massachusetts and other states whose “liberal” governments he routinely mocks.
Even more damning, Perry’s Texas is not creating nearly enough jobs to keep up with its fast-growing population. Those 1.2 million new positions are 629,000 short of the jobs needed just to bring the state’s employment level back up to where it was in 2007. Some miracle.
Worse, probe even a millimeter into the million-jobs number that he is sprinkling around like fairy dust, and you’ll learn that Perry’s jobs are mostly “jobettes” that can’t sustain a family. They come with very low pay, no health care or pension, and no employment security, labor rights or upward mobility — many are only part-time and/or temporary positions.
From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/9915641540
By Robert Reich
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tonight a bevy of Republican presidential hopefuls hope to emerge as finalists. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will battle for the right-wing nut Tea Party finals. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman will position themselves for the moderate right-wing finals. The putative winners in both these rounds will take on each other in the months ahead.
Nonetheless, listen tonight (if you can bear it) for anything other than standard Republican boilerplate since the 1920s — a wistful desire to return to the era of President William McKinley, when the federal government was small, the Fed and the IRS had yet to be invented, state laws determined worker safety and hours, evolution was still considered contentious, immigrants were almost all European, big corporations and robber barons ran the government, the poor were desperate, and the rich were lived like old-world aristocrats.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, the Republican Party had a brief flirtation with the twentieth century. Mark Hatfield of Oregon, Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, and presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon lent their support to such leftist adventures as Medicare and a clean environment. Eisenhower pushed for the greatest public-works project in the history of the United States — the National Defense Highway Act, which linked the nation together with four-lane (and occasionally six-lane) Interstate highways. The GOP also supported a large expansion of federally-supported higher education. And to many Republicans at the time, a marginal income tax rate of more than 70 percent on top incomes was not repugnant.
But the Republican Party that emerged in the 1970s began its march back to the 19th century. Ronald Reagan lent his charm and single-mindedness to the charge but the foundations had been laid long before. By the time Newt Gingrich and his regressive followers took over the House of Representatives in 1995, social conservatives, isolationists, libertarians, and corporatists had taken over the GOP once again.
Continue reading at: http://robertreich.org/post/9915641540
By DINA CAPPIELLO, JEFF DONN
Sept. 2, 2011
WASHINGTON — The risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an AP analysis of preliminary government data.
The nation’s nuclear regulator believes a quarter of America’s reactors may need modifications to make them safer.
The threat came into sharp focus last week, when shaking from the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what the North Anna nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain.
The two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that a preliminary Nuclear Regulatory Commission review has said may need upgrades.
That’s because those plants are more likely to get hit with an earthquake larger than the one their design was based on.
Just how many nuclear power plants are more vulnerable won’t be determined until all operators recalculate their own seismic risk based on new assessments by geologists, something the agency plans to request later this year.