Remembering Dr. Rosalie Bertell

From Beyond Nuclear:

June 15, 2012

We mourn the passing of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, age 83, who died peacefully on June 14. Rosalie Bertell, scientist and Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, was a tireless and compassionate advocate for those poisoned by chemical and radiological weapons and contamination.

Her book, “No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactice Earth” published in 1985, was the first book to reveal the dangers of low-level radiation.

Rosalie received her Ph. D. degree in Biometrics with minors in Biology and Biochemistry from the Catholic University of America, in 1966. Since that time she has worked as a biometrician and environmental epidemiologist. By choice, Dr. Bertell worked for the victims or potential victims of industrial, technological and military pollution with a particular emphasis on assisting the struggles of third world and indigenous people to preserve their Human Right to life and health. Her major concerns were with the dangers associated with economic globalization, war and the proliferation of chemical and radioactive pollutants as the result of preparation for war and the toxic products and processes developed from weapons research and production.

The International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), of which she was Founder and Immediate Past President, opened its doors in 1984 in Toronto Canada and continues to serve as an institutional support for her work. She was also a founding member of the International Commission of Health Professionals, and the International Association of Humanitarian Medicine.

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The Truth About Religion in America: The Founders Loathed Superstition and We Were Never a Christian Nation

From Alternet:

The claim that America was founded as a Christian nation — a favorite of Right-wing Christians — is just not true.

By Kerry Walters
June 15, 2012

Once they begin  to circulate, falsehoods—like counterfeit currency—are surprisingly tenacious. It doesn’t matter that there’s no backing for them. The only thing that counts is that people believe they have backing. Then, like bad coins, they turn up again and again.

One counterfeit idea that circulates with frustrating stubbornness is the claim that America was founded as a Christian nation. It’s one of the Christian Right’s mantras and a favorite talking point for televangelists, religious bloggers, born-again authors and lobbyists, and pulpit preachers. Take, for example, the Reverend Peter Marshall. Before his death in 2010, he strove mightily (and loudly) to “restore America to its traditional moral and spiritual foundations,” as his still-active website says, by telling the truth about “America’s Christian heritage.” Or consider WallBuilders, a “national pro-family organization” founded by David Barton, whose mission is “educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country.” Called “America’s historian” by his admirers, Barton is a prolific writer of popular books that spin his Christian version of American history. And then there’s Cynthia Dunbar, an attorney and one-time professor at Liberty University School of Law. She’s another big pusher of the Christian America currency. Her 2008 polemic One Nation Under God proclaims that the Christian “foundational truths” on which the nation rests are being “eroded” by a “socialistic, secularistic, humanistic mindset” from which Christians need to take back the country.

Unlike some of the wackier positions taken by evangelicals—think Rapture—the claim that America was founded as a Christian nation has gone relatively mainstream. This is the case largely because the media-savvy Christian Right is good at getting across its message. A 2007 First Amendment Center poll revealed that 65 percent of Americans believe the founders intended the United States “to be a Christian nation”; over half of us think that this intention is actually spelled out somewhere in the Constitution. Conservative politicians sensitive to the way the wind blows are careful to echo the sentiment, or at least not to dispute it, even if they’re not particularly religious themselves. Recent GOP presidential aspirants Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry championed the claim with gusto. Even John McCain, who usually left the Bible-thumping to his Alaskan running mate, jumped on the bandwagon in his failed 2008 bid for the presidency by assuring a Beliefnet interviewer that “this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles” and that he personally would be disturbed if a non-Christian were elected to the highest office in the land.

So the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation is widespread. In the currency of ideas, it’s the ubiquitous penny. But like an actual penny, it doesn’t have a lot of value. That so many people think it does is largely because they don’t stop to consider what “founded as a Christian nation” might signify. Presumably the intended meaning is something like this: Christian principles are the bedrock of both our political system and founding documents because our founders were themselves Christians. Although wordier, this reformulation is just as perplexing because it’s not clear what’s meant by the term founders. Just who are we talking about here?

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World Bank warns that euro collapse could spark global crisis

From The Guardian UK:

Europe ‘facing Lehmans moment’ says outgoing head Robert Zoellick as Greeks are warned over key election

, in Athens and, Saturday 16 June 2012

The outgoing head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, will warn the G20 summit that Europe runs the risk of sparking a Lehman-style global crisis that will have dire consequences for developing nations.

As Greek voters go to the polls in elections that could determine the future of the eurozone, Zoellick told the Observer he was advising emerging nations to ready themselves for the consequences of events in the single-currency area.

The election of an anti-austerity government would spark the most serious crisis for the euro so far, following the apparent failure of a Spanish bank bailout last week. German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday ruled out renegotiating Greece‘s bailout, saying the country must stick to its deals with international lenders. Unofficial polls suggest the conservative New Democracy party is ahead of the anti-austerity Syriza by four percentage points — though as much as 15% of the electorate remains undecided.

As all eyes focus on Athens, Zoellick said: “Europe may be able to muddle through but the risk is rising.” He added: “There could be a Lehmans moment if things are not properly handled.” The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 proved to be the trigger for the deepest slump in the global economy since the 1930s, and Zoellick said developing countries needed to “prepare for the uncertainty coming out of the eurozone and the wider financial markets”. He added: “It will be better if they can avoid piling up short-term debts that can come due in volatile periods and look to the fundamentals of future growth – infrastructure and human capital.”

Zoellick, whose five years at the bank has coincided with the financial and economic crisis, retires at the end of the month. Fearing that Europe’s sovereign debt problems could have spillover effects, he said the bank had been increasing its lending to support Bulgaria’s banking system and acting to prevent a credit crunch in south-east Europe. Steps were also being taken to protect countries in north Africa that were vulnerable to Europe’s debt crisis and trade finance facilities were being strengthened for francophone west Africa.

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Climate change, food security and the G-20

From The Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy:

by Julia Olmstead
June 15, 2012

From north to south, Mexican farmers are facing some of the most severe climate instability they’ve ever confronted. The northern states are suffering from what the Mexican government has called the worst drought the country has ever experienced; rain just won’t fall, and the crops that have been planted have dried up. In the south, they’ve had year after year of devastating floods, the result of which has been devastating topsoil loss on the uniformly hilly terrain.

Elias Ventura, a small-holder corn farmer in the state of Oaxaca, told me about the hopelessness of this situation when we sat next to each other yesterday at the seminar IATP is co-hosting this week in Mexico City, “New Paradigms and Public Policies for Agriculture and Global Food Systems,” in advance of next week’s G-20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico. He said that he’s had either too much rain, or not enough, and that getting a good harvest under the unpredictable new weather extremes (that he said are the result of climate change) seemed like an impossibility. I asked him if the Mexican government provided any support when his crops failed and he gave me a resolute “No.” Not only would he be without the income that the crop would provide, but his community would have to adjust to a sharp decrease in food availability. This challenge Mexican farmers and rural communities face in the wake of climate change stands in stark contrast to the risk-management program the U.S. Senate has proposed for the 2012 Farm Bill, which would guarantee up to 90 percent of farmers’ revenue if crops fail or prices fall, but there are some similarities.

Neither government is offering farmers support to actually protect the actual crops already in the field through climate adaptation strategies—protection that would not only help protect farmers’ incomes, but also food security for everyone. In Mexico, that would probably look different than in would in the United States. Farmers like Ventura already practice certain agroecological principals—crop persity, a low dependence on fossil fuel-based inputs, etc.—but Mexico, under the guidance of neoliberal structural adjustment policies, did away almost entirely with agricultural extension programs decades ago. This means that farmers like Ventura do not have access to infrastructure improvements, such as basic irrigation systems, that could help manage water flow on the farm and make all the difference in whether a crop is lost or harvested. In the U.S., on the other hand, our agriculture policies have incentivized precisely the kind of production systems that will be most at risk from severe droughts and flooding: large tracts of monoculture corn or soy adapted to a narrow range of temperatures and precipitation.

So what does this have to do with the G-20? In a few days, leaders from 20 of the world’s largest economies will come together in Los Cabos, Mexico. Agriculture productivity—specifically, increasing food production—is supposed to be a priority, according to the Mexican government, which is currently the G-20 chair. If, in fact, this group of governments does decide to work together to make agriculture production a priority, it’s unlikely that they would be seeking to make agroecological principles the foundation of a plan to increase food security. This, however, according to the groups we are meeting with this week in Mexico City—civil society and campesino groups from around the world—is exactly what they need to do if we stand any chance of keeping small farmers on the land, addressing hunger and creating real global food security.

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