Collapse of Pacific Salmon run

SUBHEAD: The meltdown of three Fukushima nuclear power plants continue to reverberate across the Pacific Ocean.

By Admin on 19 March 2017 for ENEnews -
(http://enenews.com/report-hundreds-of-millions-of-pacific-salmon-missing-presumed-dead-govt-issues-emergency-order-along-us-west-coast-japan-suffering-historic-collapse-fish-starving-to-death-all-forms-of)


Image above: Mouth of the Klamath River near Klamath, California. From (http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/worst-klamath-chinook-run-on-record-forecast/article_dcbaf22f-f694-5bee-9c76-c7a7c1ea2647.html).

[IB Publisher's note: Certainly global warming, and other factors like tsunami debris, plastic gyres, military operations, over fishing and other factors are contributing to ocean die-off - we believe that the lack of any mitigation of Fukushima radiation entering the Pacific stands in the way of possible recovery of ocean life. The collapse of  northern Pacific Ocean salmon population continues. We recommend not eating fish that has spent time in radioactive waters. See Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Seafood Guide. That would include all salmon caught off the west coast of the United States.]

Report: Hundreds of millions of Pacific salmon missing, presumed dead — Government issues emergency order along US West Coast — Japan suffering historic collapse, fish starving to death — All forms of ocean life dying in stunning numbers across Pacific.

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), Mar 16, 2017
The low salmon run size for the Yuba River appears to be part of another regional salmon collapse. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife point to preliminary data from the Sacramento River that indicates salmon runs have also dropped to record low levels. According to Dan Bacher’s reporting, last year’s salmon run on the Klamath River was a 38-year low… Gary Reedy, SYRCL’s consulting salmon expert reports that “A new crash for the Central Valley Chinook salmon is not unexpected.”…

Mendocino Beacon, Mar 16, 2017:
Returns of spawning Klamath River fall Chinook are projected to be the lowest on record in 2017… “The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard.

The Oregonian, Mar 15, 2017:
The worst run forecast on record for the Klamath River’s chinook salmon could close all salmon fishing along most of the Oregon Coast this summer…

Juneau Empire, Mar 6, 2017:  
Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean… The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time…

Minato-Tsukiji, Mar 3, 2017:
The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low…

Russ George, Feb 3, 2017:  
Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. The fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers…

Undercurrent News, Feb 1 , 2017:  
Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon…

Hokkaido Shimbun, Jan 31, 2017:  
Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check…

Russ George, Jan 31, 2017:  
News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed…

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo  8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14

ENE NEws: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 


.

Ninth Ward fights freeway

SUBHEAD: New Orleans plans traffic onto new interstate route through the black neighborhood.

By Michael Stein on 20 March 2017 for Truth Out -
(http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39900-new-orleans-ninth-ward-fights-freeway-through-historic-black-neighborhood)


Image above: Public meeting attendees raise their hands to question Arcadis consultant representative Scott Hoffeld. Photo by Michael Stein. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: You might not think this article touches your life if you live on Kauai, but the events in this story are echoed in our experience on Kauai. You've seen it before -  a consultant advocating a plan your community doesn't want and obfuscating answers from residents and promising all concerns will be handled later in the process. Bullshit! Right now the Kauai County trying to adopt an "update" of our General Plan that will not keep Kauai rural but suburbanize it with double the current population. It will hit the westside hard with a tripling of population and an increased dependence on GMO/Pesticide experiments and further militarization of PMRF to support that population. This will mean a greatly increased presence of Navy, Marine and Air Force activities and personnnel. It's just going to be shoved down our throats. Only pushing back will slow this process to a halt.]

"You say you come to inform, but there's no information. You're playing games with my home." Schoolteacher and Ninth Ward resident Derrick Anthony Renkins Jr. was standing at a rancorous public meeting, passionately opposing the proposed Florida Avenue Roadway, a project that would funnel truck traffic through the Ninth Ward from neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

There were about 200 Ninth Ward community members in the Saint Mary of the Angels church that night to see what the Department of Transportation had planned for their home.

This situation was unfortunately familiar for them. Ninth Ward residents continuously contend with infrastructure projects that disregard their well-being and ignore their input.

It's these polices that isolated the Lower Ninth Ward from the rest of the city, robbed it of public resources and caused it to suffer the worst devastation during Hurricane Katrina.

There was national recognition after Katrina that much of the storm's destruction was human-made, and the US has moved closer to acknowledging the devastating impact of racist infrastructure projects and city planning.

Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx admitted that "urban renewal" and highway building have harmed poor Black neighborhoods and recommended that future infrastructure projects benefit communities that "have been on the wrong side of transportation decisions."

Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have left this advice unheeded, and the Ninth Ward now faces another infrastructure project that would damage the community and uproot families.

At the front of the church stood Scott Hoffeld, a representative from the private consultancy firm Arcadis. Many in the crowd watched Hoffeld with frustration while he explained the proposal. When he was finished, he asked the crowd if they had any questions. Dozens of hands shot up.

Most Ninth Ward residents are already fed up with the existing truck traffic saturating their roads. Activists have been working to divert St. Bernard trucks away from the Ninth Ward, but they're now threatened by a plan that would permanently establish a truck route through their community.

"The fact is, freeways ruin neighborhoods," explains Beth Butler, the executive director of A Community Voice, a local nonprofit organization. "It's astonishing that in this day in time they would put a freeway through a Black neighborhood."

Residents complain that trucks pollute their communities, damage their roads and reduce their property values.

There is also concern about the source of these trucks, namely the Chalmette Refinery. This large petrochemical plant ships out an array of dangerous materials, and many worry about toxic spills and contamination. "They've already experienced environmental racism," says Butler. "It shouldn't keep happening."

Then there is the issue of eminent domain. A 2013 environmental assessment concluded that the project requires the acquisition of up to 105.4 acres of land, including 128 residences, nine water resources, six commercial structures and a church.

"Before we rebuilt [after Katrina], we had a big meeting, why didn't y'all tell us then that you were putting the roadway here?" asked Vernice Lyons, a homeowner in the Lower Ninth Ward. "Because we wouldn't have rebuilt it.

We built our houses from the ground up. We had nothing but lots there. But y'all waited till after we rebuilt and now y'all want to take us away again?"

"I'm sorry, that was before our contract," Hoffeld responded. "These projects are sometimes imperfect."

Hoffeld tried to assure the crowd that the roadway was intended to benefit the Ninth Ward, not damage it. But the original iteration of this roadway was a raised highway that didn't include a single onramp in the Ninth Ward, casting doubt among residents that this project was intended in any way for their benefit.

Hoffeld admitted that a central purpose of the new high-speed roadway would be to provide interstate access to trucks coming from St. Bernard. The audience rejected this justification on two grounds. The first was a general refusal to suffer damage in their community for another's gain.

The second demurral came from people who have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives and have a comprehensive understanding of the street grid. They insisted that this road isn't necessary because there is already a freeway that provides interstate access.

The existing freeway takes St. Bernard trucks downriver away from the city, instead of west into the Ninth Ward. Truckers familiar with the area attest to the convenience of this route, and say a new Florida Avenue roadway wouldn't do much to truncate their commutes.

When asked if he would utilize the new roadway once it was built, veteran trucker Lloyd Gaimer said it wouldn't be much quicker. "It's all about the same, I'll take either one."

Randy Guillot, vice chairman of American Trucking Associations and member of the Louisiana Trucking Association, insists that this roadway isn't consistent with New Orleans' contemporary infrastructure needs. "It would be much more appropriate to spend the money elsewhere," he says.

Ninth Ward residents agree, citing a long list of desired infrastructure developments in their community including levee improvements to protect them from future flooding.

Many activists on the front line of the opposition say the Louisiana Department of Transportation appears to be trying to deceive them as to its true motivation for pursuing the plan. "We're not getting the whole picture," says community activist Rev. Willie Calhoun Jr. "You're dealing with ignorance here. I'm not calling the people ignorant, but they lack the knowledge of what the overall game plan is."

At the meeting, the audience continued to push Hoffeld about the roadway's true purpose.
"From a legislative standpoint, there are components of this plan that must be constructed," he told the crowd.

He was referring to a 28-year-old piece of legislation that mandates the construction of a new bridge on Florida Avenue. It's called the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program, created by the state legislature in 1989. It was the single largest transportation bill in state history, allocating $1.4 billion for 16 infrastructure projects.

TIMED projects have already cost an estimated $5.2 billion and two of the projects were never completed. One of these unfinished projects is the new Florida Avenue bridge.

Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Ninth Ward residents agree on at least one thing: There is still a pressing need for a new Florida Avenue bridge. The Lower Ninth Ward is cut off from the rest of New Orleans by a canal, and the existing bridges that link the Lower Ninth Ward are often unavailable, regularly closed for construction or raised to allow boats to pass.

This keeps the Lower Ninth Ward isolated from the rest of the city, restricting access to hospitals, jobs and supermarkets.

Louisiana State Sen. Wesley T. Bishop, a native of the Lower Ninth Ward, attended the public meeting and told the crowd, "There is a need to have another way to get out of the Lower Ninth Ward, but the way it's being proposed to us is unacceptable. We're trying to find a way to keep the project."

The current proposal from the Louisiana Department of Transportation combines the Florida Avenue bridge and Florida Avenue Roadway projects.

Butler believes that the current composition of the proposal is meant to force the community to accept the unwanted roadway in order to get the much-needed bridge.

"This is an optional program, that has not been made clear to people," she says. "People were told things that made them think that you had to take the freeway with the bridge."

Calhoun reported that an Arcadis representative told him the bridge wouldn't be built without the roadway. Calhoun and Butler are working to inform people that the state is required by law to build a new bridge, whether or not the Florida Avenue extension project is approved.

This roadway has been proposed many times in the past. As Calhoun recalls, "My father talked about this in the '60s -- this is way more in-depth than you think."

The idea for a thoroughfare from New Orleans into St. Bernard can be traced back to the 1927 New Orleans Master Plan. But the city's needs are very different than they were in 1927, 1989 or even 10 years ago, and some question if this plan is a prudent use of government funds.

The original TIMED program allocated $30 million to build the new bridge. An assessment from 2013 estimated that the entire Florida Avenue extension project could cost over half a billion dollars.

Southern Louisiana is in great need of infrastructure development. Not only are its streets crumbling, but its coastline is also experiencing erosion at a rate of one football field every hour.

The state recently created a $50 billion plan to combat this subsidence, but there is still a $30 billion budget shortfall.

Louisiana is also dealing with one of the largest budget deficits in state history, and many are perplexed as to why the Louisiana Department of Transportation is focusing on an expensive plan that is not only opposed by the community, but offers limited commercial value.

So the question remains, who benefits from the roadway's construction? Calhoun said he doesn't know, but wouldn't be surprised if "this is just more of Bobby Jindal's people getting money," referencing the rampant corruption in Louisiana politics.

But he also suggested that perhaps this is just an infrastructure project that has floated around the state's bureaucracy for so long that it's attained a weight of its own, being pushed by nobody in particular, but advancing nonetheless. "I don't even think our elected officials have been told the real deal on this," he said. "They're trying to promote it just to promote it."

Ultimately, what many Ninth Ward residents say is most frustrating is that they feel ignored. Those attending the public meeting said they believe the state is withholding information and that even if they were fully informed, there isn't anything they can do to stop the project.

Many saw the meeting as only a fa├žade of public outreach, meant to check a bureaucratic box rather than truly hear and integrate community concerns.

"For the Department of Transportation to allow you to come and stand in front of us and not prepare for your presentation lets me know that once again, my life does not matter," Renkins Jr. told Hoffeld at the end of the meeting. "The task at hand is for you to reach out to me, not for me to reach out to you."

The highway authority is scheduled to make a final decision on the future of the project in January 2018. Between now and then, there is only one public meeting and a final public hearing scheduled. It remains unclear whether community leaders have any recourse to stop a project that is so ubiquitously derided in the Ninth Ward.

"Do we have any say as a community?" asked one frustrated meeting attendee. "At the end of the day, ya'll gonna do what ya'll want to do. I don't know anywhere else in the city where they would allow this to happen."

"They don't understand New Orleans," says Butler. "These are communities that are working class. It's the only affordable housing in the city almost.

The history of these communities; they are families that have built this city. They are strong African American families, working class, who just did everything right and were never rewarded for it.

But at least they had their own community, their own churches. This plan is going to pulverize this Black neighborhood that they know nothing about."

.

Apartheid Israel Report

SUBHEAD: If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the UN report.

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar on 21 March 2017 for Counter Currents -
(http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/03/21/apartheid-israel/)


Image above: "Control + Alt + Delete" graffiti on Israeli "defense" wall separating Palestinians from Jewish state. From (https://www.flickr.com/photos/54853721@N03/5081744059).

If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The report released on the 15th March 2017 and posted on the ESCWA website has now been removed on the orders of the UN Secretary-General, pressurized, it is alleged, by the governments of Israel and the United States both of whom have denounced the report in harsh terms.

The withdrawal of the report prompted the ESCWA Executive Secretary and UN Under-Secretary-General Dr. Rima Khalaf, to submit her resignation. In her words, “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”

 It is worth noting that the report carried a clear disclaimer that “the findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UN or its officials or Member States.”

The report was co-authored by two distinguished American scholars — Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law Princeton University who, from 2008 to 2014, also served as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University and author of Beyond Occupation: Apartheid Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Carefully worded, incisively analyzed and succinctly articulated, the report is a significant milestone in the endeavor to understand one of the longest political conflicts in modern times.

Using international human rights law as a basis, the report provides ample evidence to show why Israel practices apartheid in various facets of governance. Land policy is one example.

Land occupied by Israel between 1948 and 1967 can only be owned and used by Jews and by law excludes non-Jews some of whom have documentary claims to the land that go back a few centuries.

An even more insidious mechanism employed by the Israeli regime to exercise control and domination is the fragmentation of the Palestinian population into various categories.

The authors of the report call them ‘domains.’ Domain 1 comprises those who are citizens of the state of Israel. They receive inferior social services, limited budget allocations, and are subjected to restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities.

They live in segregated residential areas and are aware that  access to public benefits are by and large reserved for those who qualify as citizens under the Citizenship Law and the Law of Return, meaning by which Jews.  This creates a system of covert racism and renders Palestinians second-class citizens.

Domain 2, also under Israeli rule, is made up of Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. They are also victims of discrimination like their counterparts in Domain 1. They have limited access to good educational and health care facilities.

In addition, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem can have his residency revoked if he cannot prove that Jerusalem is his “center of life.” Between 1996 and 2014, residency was revoked for more than 11,000 Palestinians.

Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, territories occupied by Israel since 1967, would constitute Domain 3. They are governed by military law. Though Hamas has limited authority over Gaza, it is Israel that has exclusive control over its borders.

And since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade upon Gaza that affects all aspects of life in that tiny peninsula. While the residents of both West Bank and Gaza are subject to military law, the 350,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law.

This dual legal system underscores stark racial discrimination which manifests itself in many other ways. In contrast to the parlous state of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, Jewish settlements continue to flourish.

Jews from all over the world are offered various incentives to move to these well-endowed settlements,including employment guarantees, agricultural subsidies, school grants and special recreational facilities.

Unlike the first three domains, Palestinians in Domain 4 are the only ones who are not under Israeli control. These are Palestinians who are refugees from the wars and expulsions since 1948 and their descendants who have been living outside original Palestine, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and a number of other countries in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). There are some who for generations have been staying in Europe and North America.

All of them are affected by one vital dimension of Israeli policy. They are barred from returning home. While they are prohibited from returning to the land of their ancestors, a Jew who does not have the flimsiest link to Israel or Palestine is encouraged to settle down in these territories.

This is yet another blatant example of apartheid.

The report prepared by Falk and Tilley argues eloquently that the emergence of the domains and the apartheid practiced by various Israeli governments cannot be separated from the desire and the drive in the Zionist movement from the turn of the 20th century to establish an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine.

Bringing in Jewish immigrants long before the Israeli state was created, the wars, the expulsions and the laws to prevent Palestinians from returning to their land were all part of that mission.

Indeed, there has been deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestine — a point which has been elaborated with much lucidity by the outstanding Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe in his ground breaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

In its conclusion, the Falk-Tilley report establishes, “on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.” It then proposes that an international tribunal examine the report and make an assessment that will be truly authoritative.

If such an authoritative assessment concurs with the finding of the report, the UN and its agencies, regional outfits and national governments should act. They have a collective duty to de-legitimise an apartheid regime and render it illegal. They cannot allow such a regime to continue.
 
The report also urges civil society groups and non-state actors to step up their campaign against apartheid Israel. Some of them are already doing quite a bit through the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. They should organize and mobilize much more through the alternative media.

That the media has given so little attention to the contents of the report on apartheid Israel is an indication of the power and influence of the states and vested interests that do not want the truth about Israel to be known to the world.

This is what we have to struggle against in order to ensure that truth triumphs and justice is done to the people of Palestine.

• Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Malaysia.
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Defund Militarism

SUBHEAD: It's time to dismantle Trump's Murder Budget by refusing to fund America's perpetual wars.

By Maya Schenwar on 20 March 2017 for TruthOut -
(http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39912-it-s-time-to-dismantle-trump-s-murder-budget-and-defund-militarism)


Image above: Candidate Trump speaks during a campaign event aboard the battleship USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California, September 15, 2015. Photo by Max Whittaker. From original article.

During the last three years of the Bush administration, I reported on the military budget, following the supplemental spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Congress has not formally declared war since World War II, these budget bills were the mechanism that was keeping our wars going.

Every time the war budgets came up for a vote, I held my breath. Even though I knew better, I watched C-SPAN for hours, hoping for a surprise. There were a few stalwart Congress members who usually held out -- Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich -- but for the most part, Republicans and Democrats alike got in line to flood the war coffers, again and again.

Eventually, I stopped watching; I could practically write my articles ahead of time.

If a flight of angels crashed through the ceiling of the Capitol and announced, "The world is ending tonight," they'd still vote to fund tomorrow's wars.

The predictable passage of blank checks for war was an expression of the acceptability of the status quo. The status quo was murder, but within the halls of Congress and, of course, the White House, there was a level of comfort with that.

From the US's early days, the military evolved largely as a vehicle for colonialism and genocide.

As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in An Indigenous People's History of the United States,
 "The Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition."
This country's military has long been more of an offensive force -- charging ahead with the winds of white supremacy and capitalism at its back -- than one of "defense." The Iraq War is one moment in its long legacy of actively disrupting, upending and devastating the lives and communities of millions of people of color, both at home and abroad.

Much of the government seems to view perpetual war as an inevitability, the way most of us, in the words of Angela Davis, "take for granted" the existence of prisons.

Davis has written that, although prisons as we know them are a fairly recent addition to the world, they have become so embedded in our society that "it is difficult to imagine life without them."

The US's brand of imperialist militarism, too, is seen as natural. In the mid-2000s, many liberal Democrats were arguing for a strategy of amelioration: a small-scale withdrawal of troops, the cutting of some "waste" from the Pentagon budget, a halt to the production of a couple of bizarrely expensive fighter jets.

These measures were aimed at mitigating the damage, instead of disrupting the overall project of war, militarism and the destruction of communities, most of them in Muslim-majority countries.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did scale down over the course of Obama's presidency, but in one form or another, they've persisted -- and other undeclared wars have been and continue to be waged. In 2016 alone, the US bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia.

Every year since 2003, the military has occupied the majority of the US discretionary budget. We are currently spending much more on the military (accounting for inflation) than we were at the height of the Vietnam War.

The way in which US militarism is taken for granted mirrors the ways in which other forms of mass violence are deemed inevitable -- policing, deportation, the genocide and erasure of Indigenous peoples, the exploitative market-driven health care system, the vastly inequitable education system and disastrous environmental policies.

The generally accepted logic tells us that these things will remain with us: The best we can hope for, according to this narrative, is modest reform amid monstrous violence.

Now, we have a president who has no interest in modest reform. His draft budget, released last week, is a caricature of our bad budgets past.

Not only will the Pentagon continue to occupy the majority of our discretionary budget this year, but if Donald Trump has his way, military spending will jump by 10 percent. Vital programs -- programs that support survival instead of murder -- will be slashed or eliminated.

If his administration gets what it wants, the Department of Education will take a 14 percent hit, Health and Human Services will shrink by 16 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget will decrease by 16 percent, and the EPA will suffer a 31 percent blow.

Under Trump's proposal, funding would be eliminated for the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Chemical Safety Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Legal Services Corporation (which provides civil legal assistance to low-income people).

The proposed budget doesn't simply represent an act of deprioritization or neglect of most people's needs. It is an attack on the lives of poor people and people of color. It is a call-to-arms against the environment, and thus, against the long-term survival of most species on Earth.

It is a battle against the arts, against learning, against recreation, against shared space -- against the things that help give us life beyond mere survival.

We should not be surprised that these attacks on civil society and fundamental human rights are accompanied by a surge in military spending. The cuts and the hikes are part of the same murderous project.
The ground is already laid for that project to be built. Already, the US military budget exceeds the combined military budgets of the next seven countries: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany.

If we are going to confront Trump's proposed cuts to key domestic programs, we have to also confront the legitimacy that has been granted to endless war and militarism over the course of the past 16 years -- and throughout our country's history.

We can't just add the priorities of health and life to the stock priorities of death and destruction. We can't just advocate for a few less fighter jets or a downsizing of Pentagon bureaucracy.

We have to choose life-giving priorities over violent ones. We have to stop taking all forms of state violence -- war, militarism, deportations, prisons, surveillance, colonial destruction, disinvestment and deprivation -- for granted.

One way to start might be to imagine how we could reroute the money currently funneled toward this violence. For example, the National Priorities Project suggests that instead of increasing the military budget by $54 billion, as Trump suggests, we slash the military budget by that same amount.

That $54 billion could provide Medicaid for 15 million adults, or grant 1.6 million students a free four-year college education, or create 1 million infrastructure jobs, or fund the Meals on Wheels program for 7,180 years.

Taking this a step further, military cuts could easily help fund programs that we don't yet have but desperately need, such as Medicare for all.

With real cuts to the budgets of murder and devastation -- including not only the military, but also police, prisons, ICE and other violent institutions -- we could set viable plans to end homelessness, dramatically step up climate justice efforts, provide universal child care and more.

"Real cuts" would not only mean slicing off a certain number of dollars. They would also mean challenging the specific ways in which that money is spent.

As United for Peace and Justice lays out, in addition to demanding a stop to US wars, we must also demand an end to the drone program, the closure of US military bases throughout the world, the start of active negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons and the demilitarization of local police forces.

I'd go a step further to say that the demilitarization of police forces is not enough -- we should move toward dismantling them.

Moreover, confronting militarism would require a fundamental prioritization of racial and social justice. Both within the US and abroad, the military and other forms of state violence overwhelmingly target, harm, displace and kill people of color.

Within the US, poor and working class people are targeted for recruitment into the military, pulled in via a long string of false promises.

Once we acknowledge that these realities are not accidents, and are not new, we can conceive of how injustice is not simply a side effect. It is embedded in the practice of US militarism.

Trump's budget was released on March 16, the anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, when the US military murdered the majority of people living in the small Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai, including many children and elderly people.

This should serve as a reminder for all of us that rising military budgets are not a prescription for "public safety," as Trump has claimed. They are a prescription for murder.

As long as taxpayers continue to be complicit in filling that prescription, it seems that we have a responsibility to act against it.

We need to call and write to our Congress members and demand they reject the $54 billion increase to our military budget and the brutal cuts to crucial domestic programs.

We have to stop taking our wars, our drones, our bombs, our imperialism and our decades of colossal military budgets for granted.

We have to "imagine life without them." And we have to imagine -- and work to create -- the life-giving, healing, transformational priorities that will take their place.


.

When Truth becomes a threat

SUBHEAD: If you tell the truth in America it may be Fake News and a might be a traitor.

By Paul Craig Roberts on 16 March 2017 for PaulCraigRoberts.org -
(http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/03/16/nuisance-threat-high-cost-truth-paul-craig-roberts/)


Image above: The Clinton and Trump camps are two sides of the same coin of American Empire. From (http://www.iagreetosee.com/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/).

[IB Editor's note: There is some truth in this article we thought should be published, but it is not a one sided story. Those from the "Left" and the "Right" who have been in charge of the American Empire have fostered a false view of the world and reality. Lies and propaganda are always employed tools of Empire. The Clinton and Trump camps were to sides of the counterfeit coin of the realm.]

I am convinced that the US, and probably the entire Western world, that is, the American Empire, has entered an era in which respect for truth does not exist in public and private institutions. We have been watching this develop for some time.

Think, for example, back to August 3, 2002, a recent time in terms of our present predicament, but a time prior to political consciousness of anyone younger today than 33 years old.

In the summer of 2002, the world was being prepared by propaganda for a US invasion of Iraq. On August 3 of that year, the prestigous British publication, The Economist, summed up the consensus of ruling opinion in two sentences: “The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr. Hussein before he gets his [nuclear] bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war.”

As Lewis Lapham, myself and others asked at the time, what bomb? The only evidence of a bomb was fabricated and known to be fabricated. The UN weapons inspectors concluded that the infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction were a creation of US propaganda.

President George W. Bush eventually acknowledged that Iraq had no such weapons. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the lies he was deceived by the Bush regime into telling the UN about Saddam Hussein’s WMD are a stain on his career.

Despite the 2003 US invasion known to have been based entirely on lies, US troops were not pulled out of Iraq until 2011, and whether or not they were pulled out, they are back in Iraq now.

None of these facts has had any impact on the good opinion that Washington and the media have of themselves.

Unchastened, Washington and its presstitutes lied about Libya and destroyed that prosperous country. They lied about “Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people,” and would have destroyed Syria also had it not been for the Russians.

Blocked by Russia, Obama, Hillary, and Victoria Nuland turned on Russia, first overthrowing the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and when Crimeans voted practically unanimously to reunite with Russia, the Obama regime and its media whores falsely alleged “Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

This false charge, repeated endlessly still today by the Western presstitutes, became the justification for economic sanctions against Russia that Washington imposed on its European vassals, entirely at their expense, which shows what craven cowards European governments are. If Washington orders “jump,” the UK Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, the French President ask, “How High?”

One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected president was his commitment to normalizing relations with Russia and reconsidering the continuation of NATO a quarter century after its purpose ceased to exist with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Trump’s commitment constituted a direct threat to the power and profit of the US military/security complex, whose $1,000 billion annual budget requires a major threat that only Russia can provide.

Consequently, Russia and its president have been demonized. American propaganda, bald-faced lies, spread fear of Russia and Putin throughout the American Empire.

The Empire’s response to those who confront the propaganda with the facts is to denounce those with the facts as “Russian agents” or “Putin’s dupes.”

The hatred of Russia that has been inculcated by the neocons and presstitute media has resulted in Republican Senator John McCain, representing Arizona (to the disgrace of Arizonians), calling on the Senate floor Republican Senator Rand Paul, representing Kentucky, a person who “is now working for Vladimir Putin” for objecting to tiny Montenegro being made a NATO member. See (http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/15/sen-john-mccain-rand-paul-is-working-for-vladimir-putin/)

When this website was included on a list of 200 Russian agent/dupe websites by a secret, undisclosed group called PropOrNot, I wondered whose money was behind this entity as well hidden as an offshore money laundering operation. I made a joke of it, which amused the Russians.

As no one knows what PropOrNot.com is, the site has no credibility.

 So the forces for war moved up several levels to Harvard University Library. On that website someone posted what is essentially the PropOrNot list. Harvard does not say that the list is vetted or explain why anyone should believe it.

The list is attributed to a Melissa Zindars, an assistant professor of communication and media at some unnamed institution. It is a list, she says, that she uses in her class to teach students how to avoid “fake and false news.” In other words, the list reflects her own ignorance and biases.

As one reader observed, Melissa tells on her own indoctrination by the presstitute, CIA-serving US media:
 “I read/watch/listen very widely, from mainstream, corporate owned sources (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes) as well as The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and various local and alternative sources with different political perspectives (Truth-Out).”
So here we have the Western world informed by Harvard University Library of who is safe to read on the basis of an unknown young woman’s biases. Those safe to read are the lying presstitute media who serve the cause of war and the police state.

When you witness this level of total corruption at what pretends to be America’s finest university, and it is on top of the 24 years of nothing but lies from the previous three two-term presidents, who between them have murdered and dislocated millions of people in numerous countries, and not been held accountable for even one of the millons of lives destroyed, you cannot avoid realizing that for the United States and its corrupt vassal states, Truth is something to be avoided at all costs.

When Trump collapsed under pressure and fired his National Security Adviser, Gen. Flynn, he unintentionally gave credence to the charge that any and all who think well of normalized relations with the other major nuclear power are “Russian agents,” and that to be a “Russian agent” means that you are guilty of treason and deserve to be impeached if you happen to be the President of the United States.

The consequence of Flynn’s removal from office has been to enable the Russophobic forces to define as treason the desire for detente with Russia. If this had been imposed on US presidents during the First Cold War, probably life on earth would not exist today.

What is scary about the US and Europe is not merely the gullibility and insouciance of such a large percentage of the populations.

What is very frightening is the willingness of the media, government officials, military, and members of professional organizations to lie for the sake of their careers.

Try to find any shame among the liars that their lies expose humanity to thermonuclear annihilation. It is not to be found. They don’t care.

Just let me have the Mercedes and the McMansion for another year.

The Saker, an observant being, says that the color revolution being conducted by the neoconservatives, the Democratic Party, the presstitutes, the liberal/progressive/left, and by some Republicans against President Trump is “de-legitimizing the entire [democratic] political process which brought Trump to power and upon which the United States is built as a society.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46658.htm The consequence, says The Saker, is that “the illusion of democracy and people power” has been destroyed both domestically and abroad. The propaganda picture of “American Democracy” has lost its believability. As the false picture crumbles, so does the power that was based on authority constructed by propaganda.
The Saker asks: do we face an endless horror or a horrible end?

As George Orwell said decades ago, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

This is the way the criminals who rule us see it, and it is the way their whores in the media see it. If you tell the truth in America, you are a purveyor of fake news and possibly a traitor.

.

Corporate monster Monsanto

SUBHEAD: Monsanto's strategy in getting control of the world's food system has so far been successful.

By Alan Broughton on 10 March 2017 for Green Left -
(https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/behind-corporate-monster-how-monsanto-pushes-agricultural-domination)


Image above: A farmhand loads genetically modified corn seed into a planter on Bo Stone's farm in Rowland, North Carolina, April 20, 2016. Photo by Jeremy M. Lange. From original article.

Monsanto, one of the world's biggest pesticide and seed corporations and leading developer of genetically modified crop varieties, had a stock market value of US$66 billion in 2014. It has gained this position by a combination of deceit, threat, litigation, destruction of evidence, falsified data, bribery, takeovers and cultivation of regulatory bodies.

Its rise and torrid controversies cover a long period starting with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, chemicals used as insulators for electrical transformers) in the 1940s and moving on to dioxin (a contaminant of Agent Orange used to defoliate Vietnam), glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, a hormone injected into dairy cows to increase their milk production), and genetic modified organisms (GMOs).

Its key aim in dealing with health and environmental issues is to protect sales and profits and the company image. The latter has been a monumental failure, making Monsanto potentially the most hated corporation in the world.

To better sell its GMO technology, Monsanto began acquiring seed companies in 1996 and within 10 years became the largest seed supplier in the world. If the planned merger with German multinational Bayer takes place, the combined corporate giant will control a third of the world's seed market and a quarter of the pesticide market.

Influence
Gaining friends in high places and managing regulatory body policy has been crucial to Monsanto's power. There is a crossover between Monsanto and the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture, the European Food Safety Authority and some United Nations food regulatory arms.

This crossover works in four ways: retired legislators move to Monsanto; legislators become lobbyists for Monsanto; regulators move on to Monsanto; and Monsanto employees switch to regulatory organisations (and often back again).

Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer, moved to the FDA where he determined FDA policy on genetic modification, before becoming Monsanto vice president. Linda Fisher was assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances in the EPA for 10 years; she moved to Monsanto in 1995 to lobby politicians, then returned to the EPA in 2001 as deputy administrator.

In the George W Bush administration, Monsanto managed to get four of its associates to head departments: the attorney-general and the secretaries for health and human services (of which the EPA is part), agriculture, and defence. Monsanto lobbying expenses for 1998 to 2001 amounted to $21 million. From 2004 to 2014, it was $62.3 million. In 2002, Monsanto gave $1.2 million to the Republican Party and $320,000 to the Democrats.

As a result, the regulators have by and large facilitated Monsanto's interests. A former EPA manager, William Sanjour, said: "Unfortunately the EPA is more concerned with protecting the interests of companies than with defending the public interest."

Labelling
One example of this cosy relationship came with Monsanto's successful action over labelling of rBGH in milk products.

Because of public concern about rBGH, some milk companies wanted to label their product as "rBGH free". But Monsanto lobbied the EPA to disallow the practice because labelling would imply non-rBGH milk was safer or of higher quality -- which, Monsanto argued, was misleading.

Monsanto threatened to sue dairy companies that specified their milk came from non-treated cows. It forced the companies to add that the EPA had found no difference between treated and non-treated milk.

The FDA sacked a researcher for questioning Monsanto data on rBGH. The US federal government attitude was that biotechnology was so important that they could not allow a few questions about cow or human safety to get in the way.

Monsanto also got the FDA to raise the allowed residues of glyphosate on soybeans from six parts per million to 20 parts per million, and in the European Union from 0.1 parts per million to 20 parts per million. In 2013, this was raised in the US to 40 parts per million for soybean oil -- 400 times the amount known to kill gut bacteria.

The regulators determined that GM and non-GM food was "substantially equivalent", which meant that no safety tests were required. This was a political decision with no scientific basis. Most of the data used by the regulators to determine the safety of products is provided by Monsanto and independent studies are ignored.

In 1998, British researcher Arpad Pusztai announced that he had found adverse effects of GM potatoes on rats. Then-US president Bill Clinton called then-British prime minister Tony Blair, who in turn rang the director of Pusztai's Rowett Institute in Aberdeen to get Pusztai dismissed from the institute.

A Rowett director said: "Tony Blair's office had been pressured by the Americans, who thought our study would harm the biotech industry, and particularly Monsanto."

Monsanto associates on the UN Joint Expert Committee of Food Safety succeeded in getting the body to declare that rBGH was safe, despite the evidence.

Monsanto was also instrumental in getting Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) inserted into World Trade Organisation rules. This meant that any patent gained in the US automatically applied anywhere in the world, netting hundreds of millions of dollars extra in royalties for Monsanto.

The wording in the EPA toxicity report on PCBs was also changed on Monsanto's request from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic".

Monsanto spends millions of dollars fighting proposed GM labelling laws for food. A 2014 Oregon referendum on whether to impose GM labelling cost the company $6 million to fight. The referendum was narrowly lost after Monsanto successfully convinced enough people that labelling would lead to higher food costs.

Surveys show that more than 90% of US citizens want GM labelling. The GMO lobby is trying to get a law passed in Congress to prevent government agencies from ever introducing GMO labelling laws.

African governments are now being targeted to accept GM seeds -- South Africa is one of the few that does. Bill Gates' Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is one of the pushers.

Monsanto is part of AGRA management and Gates has $23 million worth of shares in Monsanto. The Clinton Global Initiative and US Aid for International Development also partner with Monsanto.

Market Access
Along with the glowing advertising that promises higher yields for lower costs, which Monsanto uses around the world to entice farmers to buy its products, less open tactics are also used to grow its market.

For instance, vets in the US were paid $300 for each of their clients that adopted rBGH.
In the case of South America, the penetration of GM soy has been extraordinarily successful. Argentina was an early approver of GM products, but neighbouring Brazil and Paraguay initially refused to allow it.

However, GM soy seeds were smuggled in from Argentina in unmarked bags in huge quantities. These seeds were used by large farmers illegally to such an extent that the governments of Brazil and Paraguay were forced to change the law to make it legal.

It is suspected, but not proven, that Monsanto was involved in this introduction -- it was certainly a huge beneficiary.

The extent to which Monsanto uses bribery is not known. One example that was revealed was the $700,000 paid to Indonesian officials between 1997 and 2002 to facilitate the introduction of GM cotton to that country. The US Department of Justice fined Monsanto $1.5 million for this bribery.

Data Falsification and Concealment
Regulators do very little testing of pesticides and GMO products, instead relying on the data provided by the companies requesting approval.

Monsanto has been caught falsifying studies on PCB; 2,4,5-T; and dioxin. It also concealed dioxin levels in Agent Orange (the defoliant used in the Vietnam War) to maintain that lucrative market. Adverse data were destroyed or withheld.

Monsanto's own adverse findings on rGBH were kept secret until leaked by an employee.

Independent studies on Roundup found that the full formulation was much more toxic than glyphosate, the active ingredient, itself. Monsanto's tests were only conducted on glyphosate, not Roundup.

Public laboratories are reluctant to conduct research on Roundup and other product toxicity because most biotechnology research is only funded by the biotechnology companies. Researchers know their careers will suffer if they do this type of research. Monsanto refuses to supply GM seeds for independent research.

Buyers of GM seeds must sign an agreement not to use the seeds or crop for research. In the few cases where permission is granted, Monsanto retains the right to block publication of the results.

Scientists who identify problems with Monsanto technologies are vilified. These have included the University of California, Berkeley researchers David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, who found GM contamination in indigenous corn in Mexico where GM corn is not authorised.

Chapela was dismissed from the university and their report in the journal Nature was repudiated by the editors. Much of Nature's advertising revenue comes from biotech companies.  Monsanto also ridiculed studies that found GM corn was killing the monarch butterfly.

Threats and Litigation
Whistleblowers in the EPA have been harassed, marginalised, defamed and often sacked.

Vietnam veterans claiming compensation from Monsanto because of chemical poisoning by Agent Orange were fought bitterly by Monsanto to exhaust the litigants' reserves. The final settlement in 1984 amounted to $12,000 for each claimant, spread over 10 years. It came with a proviso that made them ineligible for pensions, state assistance and food stamps -- meaning most veterans got nothing.

Farmers using rGBH have to sign a confidentiality agreement to not talk about any problems they find with cow health. Some farmers have been sued for doing so.

Farmers buying GM seed have to sign a "technology use agreement" not to re-sow seed, and to use only Roundup herbicide, not any other brand, on Roundup Ready crops (crops engineered to be unaffected by Roundup). They also have to agree to the right of inspection by Monsanto, which uses the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the US and Robinsons in Canada to enforce this agreement.

Farmers found to have GM crops that they have not paid royalties for are sued -- even if the plants have regenerated naturally or are the result of cross pollination by neighbouring GM crops. A total of $23 million in patent infringement law suits had been collected by Monsanto by 2014.

In 2005, the average suing per farmer amounted to $412,000, but many farmers settle out of court to avoid court costs, even if they are innocent. They are not permitted to disclose the settlement figures.

Media organisations have been threatened with litigation and withdrawal of Monsanto advertising for reporting adverse findings relating to rGBH.

A report by Gilles-Eric Seralini in 2012 on his trials of Roundup Ready maize that showed liver and kidney damage was withdrawn from the Food and Chemical Toxicity journal after a year of pressure and the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist to the editorial board.

In an April 2015 article titled "Is Monsanto on the side of science?", New Internationalist listed several examples of scientists reporting findings adverse to Monsanto who have found themselves under attack. One of them, Italian Manuela Malatesta, said she was forced out of her university job as a researcher after publishing her studies on GM soy that found malfunctioning of testes, pancreas and liver in mice.

Malatesta said:
"Research on GMOs is now taboo. You can't find money for it…

"People don't want to find answers to troubling questions. It's the result of widespread fear of Monsanto and GMOs in general."
A trade group including Monsanto also backed a proposed federal law that would nullify the state of Vermont's law enforcing GMO labelling and any other mandatory labelling of GMOs in the United States.

Promise Versus Reality
In its advertising, Monsanto promises higher returns for farmers if they plant GM crops. Initially this does happen, but within a few years the costs multiply because pests become immune to toxins inserted into corn, soy and cotton, and weeds became resistant to Roundup used on Roundup Ready corn, soy, canola and cotton.

Damage to soil biology by the heightened use of Roundup cause outbreaks of root rotting diseases (Fusarium and Rhizoctonia) and restricted the Rhizobium bacteria that create nitrogen on soy roots, so that more fertiliser is needed.

Yields decrease. Soon GM crops become less profitable than non-GM; the difference in the US is made up by increased government subsidies to farmers. GM seeds cost three-to-four times more than non-GM. Even the US Department of Agriculture acknowledged in 2014 that yields are lower for GM crops, particularly soy.

Monsanto promises lower pesticide use. In the US, pesticide use (including herbicides) increased 7% between 1996 and 2001, while in Western Europe, using non-GM crops, pesticide use dramatically fell in that period with increased yields.

Monsanto insists that GM technology and Roundup are safe, yet the independent studies that have been done point to the opposite.

The widespread use of Roundup Ready GM crops since 1996 has corresponded with a dramatic rise in illnesses such as coeliac disease, gluten intolerance, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Cause is hard to prove, but the damage that Roundup does to intestinal microbiology has significantly decreased bodily and immune system function, according to Dr Don Huber, making it a likely factor in the disorders.

Glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic, not just a herbicide. In the US, almost all processed foods contain GM soy and/or corn products (80%). People living in areas of intensively cultivated GM soy in Argentina are twice as likely to die of cancer. Levels of glyphosate in urine in the US are 10 times the levels of people in Europe.

The glowing promises of GM Bollgard cotton in India have had disastrous results. The crops did not perform well in the monsoon conditions of wet and dry, the fibre was shorter and brought a lower price, the seeds cost four times as much as non-GM, and pests proliferated. Non-GM seeds became unavailable as local suppliers only stocked Bollgard, with the support of state governments.

The resulting indebtedness has caused many farmer suicides -- 296,400 cotton farmers took their lives in 20 years (often by drinking Roundup).

Flooding the Market
Monsanto promised that GM and non-GM crops could co-exist. The reality is that GM genes spread far and wide through cross pollination by bees and wind. All canola seeds in Canada, including non-GM seeds, have GM genes, which has eliminated organic canola growing.

Indeed, this was the goal of Monsanto, as Don Westfall, a consultant to biotech companies, said in 2001: "The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."

GMO advocates say that the technology is essential to feed the world. Yet the world already produces enough food for the expected population of the world in 2050. Hunger is not a production issue but one of social justice.

Even the wealthiest countries with abundant food have significant percentages of food insecure people (10% in Australia).

Almost all GM crops so far developed have been for herbicide tolerance (85%, so the whole crop can be sprayed to kill the weeds) or contain the toxin of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Golden Rice, engineered to increase vitamin A levels, failed because the increase was marginal, and has been abandoned.

Other promised miracles including drought and salt tolerant wheat have not materialised, though might in the future. On the other hand, conventional plant breeding has been far more successful at achieving sustainability goals.

Some Victories
Monsanto has not had everything go its own way. On occasions its arrogance and deceit has backfired.

In the criminal trial in 2002 over the poisoning of residents in Anniston, Mississippi, by the Monsanto PCB factory, a US judge said Monsanto's conduct was "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society".

Craven Laboratories, acting for Monsanto, was heavily fined for falsifying test data and its owner was sentenced to five years' jail.

Monsanto claimed in its promotional material that glyphosate was less toxic than table salt, was 100% biodegradable, and left no residue in soil. In 1996, this was challenged in court by the New York State attorney-general as false and misleading advertising. Monsanto lost.

In France's north-west, the Brittany Water and Rivers association also sued Monsanto for misleading advertising, as residues in rivers were found to be well above the legal threshold for glyphosate.
Although the case was successful, Monsanto's penalty was merely €15,000 after a seven-year court battle.

In 2005, to avoid the costly investigating and suing of farmers suspected of saving the seed of patented varieties, Monsanto acquired a company that had developed the Terminator gene.

The aim was to insert this gene into all patented varieties, GM and non-GM, so that the next generation would not germinate. A worldwide outcry led to the international community deciding to ban this technology.

However, some countries, including Australia and the US, want this ban overturned.

Monsanto's dream of Roundup Ready wheat was defeated in 2004 because farmers in North America fought it successfully. Farmers were concerned that they would lose markets, because Europe, Japan and some other countries said they would not import any wheat from North America because of inevitable contamination.

Canadian canola growers have lost much of their market already. Monsanto withdrew its application for approval.

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld a ruling fining Monsanto $93 million for poisoning the town of Nitro with Agent Orange chemicals.

Gaining Control
Monsanto's strategy in getting control of the world's food system has so far been successful, relying on government support, effective advertising, intimidation and litigation.

But public opposition is mounting. Huge numbers of people around the world took part in the March Against Monsanto in 2015. The organic industry in the US is booming because this is the only way consumers can choose non-GM foods. Farmers are starting to reject GM seeds. However, there is a long way to go before Monsanto falls.

It was public action that led to the ban on PCBs and the hormonal herbicide 2,4,5-T.

In Australia we must continue to support the South Australian and Tasmanian GMO moratoria and pressure other governments to withdraw approval for GM canola and cotton and continue to block GM soy and corn.

We must support ecological farming systems that do not need the inputs provided by Monsanto or any of the other pesticide, seed and GMO conglomerates.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
 
• Alan Broughton is a member of the Socialist Alliance and involved with the Organic Agriculture Association. Along with Elena Garcia, he is a co-author of the recently released Sustainable Agriculture Versus Corporate Greed, Resistance Books, 2017.

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Ending energy-related CO2 possible

SUBHEAD: Renewables need to account for the majority (virtually all) of power generation in 2050.

By Public Relations on 19 March 2017 for IRENA -
(http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=3828)


Image above: A demonstration of resilient 19th century technology that will likely be using in 2050. This is the largest operational waterwheel in the world built in 1854 on the Isle of Man. Designed by Robert Casement, it has a 72-foot diameter, is 6 feetwide and was built to pump water from mineshafts. From (http://exotixaworld.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-worlds-largest-water-wheel-laxey.html).

[IB Publisher's note: This is a press release from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is too optimistic in our opinion. We agree on two things. One: By 2050 fossil fuels will not play the dominant role it does in modern industrial civilization. Two: We will be depending on renewable energy for most every task. The problem will be that transportation by plane, truck, rail and ship will be a mere shadow of what it is today. And we will not be able to depend on high-tech, big-agribusiness or modern industrial output to support our "modern" lifestyles. For replacement we will be back to draft animals and manual labor for many tasks... but that's okay, considering the alternatives.]

Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition, launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

“The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented international determination to act on climate. The focus must be on the decarbonision of the global energy system as it accounts for almost two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

Critically, the economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger. Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants.

And through 2050, the decarbonisation can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables.

“We are in a good position to transform the global energy system but success will depend on urgent action, as delays will raise the costs of decarbonisation,” added Mr. Amin.

While overall the energy investment needed for decarbonising the energy sector is substantial – an additional USD 29 trillion until 2050 – it amounts to a small share (0.4%) of global GDP.

Furthermore, IRENA’s macroeconomic analysis suggests that such investment creates a stimulus that, together with other pro-growth policies, will:

  • boost global GDP by 0.8% in 2050;
  • generate new jobs in the renewable energy sector that would more than offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry, with further jobs being created by energy efficiency activities, and;
  • improve environmental and human health benefits thanks to reduced air pollution.
Globally, 32 gigatonnes (Gt) of energy-related CO2 were emitted in 2015. The report states that emissions will need to fall continuously to 9.5 Gt by 2050 to limit warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. 90% of this energy CO2 emission reduction can be achieved through expanding renewable energy deployment and improving energy efficiency.

Renewable energy now accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply.

To achieve decarbonisation, the report states that, by 2050, renewables should be 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply.

The report also describes how the energy sector transition needs to go beyond the power sector into all end-use sectors.

Renewables need to account for the majority of power generation in 2050, based on continued rapid growth especially for solar and wind power in combination with enabling grids and new operating practices.

But also, the buildings, industry and transport sectors need more bioenergy, solar heating and electricity from renewable sources that substitute conventional energy.

Electric vehicles need to become the predominant car type in 2050. Liquid biofuel production must grow ten-fold. High efficiency all-electric buildings should become the norm. Deployment of heat pumps must accelerate and a combined total of 2 billion buildings will need to be new built or renovated.

The report calls for policy efforts to create an enabling framework and re-design of energy markets.

Stronger price signals and carbon pricing can help provide a level playing field when complemented by other measures, and the report emphasizes the importance of considering needs of those without energy access.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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