5 Most Horrifying Things About Monsanto: Why You Should Join the Global Movement and Protest on Saturday ~ Alternet
by April M. Short
‘Fed up with the fact that she has to spend “a small fortune” in order to feed her family things she says “aren’t poisonous,” Tami Canal of Utah has organized a global movement against the giant chemical and seed corporation Monsanto. Monsanto is the conglomerate mastermind behind many of the pesticides and genetically engineered seeds that pervade farm fields around the world. Monsanto produces the world’s top-selling herbicide; 40 percent of US crops contain its genes; it spends millions lobbying the government each year; and several of its factories are now toxic Superfund sites.
Canal, who has a 17-month-old baby and a six-year-old girl, cites concerns over public health, adverse affects on the environment, and political corruption as her motivation to organize against the biotech giant. And her concern has resonated. Protesters around the world have responded to Canal’s call to action, and will amplify their dissatisfaction with the corporation in a “March Against Monsanto” on May 25.
“Not only are they threatening our children and ourselves as well, but also the environment,” Canal says. “The declining bee population has been linked to the pesticides that they use, and that’s just the start. I’ve been reading studies recently that butterflies are starting to disappear, and birds. It’s only a matter of time, it’s pretty much a domino effect.”
What started as one mother’s call to action on a Facebook page has become a movement with more than 400 demonstrations scheduled in 50 countries and 250 cities around the globe. The events are organized online via an open Google Document, where people can find the protest nearest them. The March Against Monsanto Facebook page has received more than 105,000 “likes.” It has reached more than 10,000,000 people in the last week according to its website, which averages over 40,000 visitors per day.
One of the short-term goals of the march, Canal says, is to spread immediate awareness about the offenses Monsanto commits. Another is to inspire people to vote with their dollars by boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that put unsafe products—like genetically modified organisms (GMO) and pesticide-ridden foods—on the market. The effort also advocates for labeling of genetically modified products so consumers can make informed decisions, and demands further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
Canal is particularly interested in drawing attention to what she calls dangerous products that are marketed to children. “Like Kellogg’s,” she says. “For example, Froot Loops is 100-percent genetically engineered, and that’s a children’s cereal. That’s irresponsible and unacceptable on so many levels.”
The ultimate goal of the march is a complete ban on Monsanto within the US. At least 60 countries worldwide, including Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, South Australia, Russia, France, and Switzerland, have implemented outright bans of Monsanto and its genetic modification of food products.
“I don’t understand why the US isn’t on the forefront of that thinking,” says Canal. “[Monsanto] has a long history of crimes against humanity.”’
Police swoop on the homeless taking sleeping bags and food parcels in co-ordinated raids in Redbridge ~ Ilford Recorder
by Amanda Nunn and Suhail Patel
‘Adam Jaskowiak was one of the men targeted and said he pleaded with police to be able to keep his things but was ignored.
He was sleeping with eight other people finding shelter for the night in the former Ilford Baths in High Road, Ilford.
All of their belongings were bundled into a police car leaving the men, one in his 60s, stunned.
A police chief told the Recorder the operation was carried out to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers”.
But Mr Jaskowiak, 34, said: “They were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything. I asked to keep it and the food, but they said ‘no’.
“I just grabbed as many of my things as possible and put them into a bag and ran.”
He was given the sleeping bag by the Salvation Army, Clements Road, Ilford, over the winter months after becoming homeless when his friend died.’
‘America’s ticking debt bomb has been reset. Washington has suspended the debt ceiling, setting a date, and not a concrete dollar sum as a deadline, an unprecedented first in US history.
Citing ‘extraordinary measures’, the US Treasury has further delayed tackling America’s debt, and will wait until Labor Day, September 2nd, to revisit the burgeoning crisis. The ceiling has been lifted, and the Treasury has promised it will keep cash pumping into government spending programs beyond the debt limit through a series of emergency cash tools.
“It will not be until at least after Labor Day” when Washington will have reached their full borrowing capacity, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, told CNBC television on May 10th.’
Power giant warns customers to brace themselves for further energy bill hikes as its profits surge 28% ~ This Is Money
by HARRY GLASS
This Is Money
‘Energy giant SSE warned customers are ‘highly likely’ to suffer from further price hikes in the future – as it revealed a massive jump in profits made from UK households.
Retail profits rose 28 per cent to £410million after SSE raised prices by 9 per cent last October in time for the long, cold winter, in which gas use increased by 21 per cent.
Despite making overall pre-tax profits of £1.4billion, it blamed wholesale prices and other costs for its growing bills and admitted more pain is on the horizon.
Facing additional costs of more than £80 per dual fuel customer in 2013/14, it warned: ‘Unless there is a sustained reduction in prices in wholesale gas and electricity markets, it is highly likely that these additional costs will eventually have to be reflected in higher prices for household customers.’
SSE said it intended to ‘resist this trend of higher costs for as long as possible to shield customers from the unwelcome impact of higher prices’.’
by Omar R. Valdimarsson
‘Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps warned against the dangers of European Union membership as Iceland became the latest nation to question the sense of affiliation with a bloc mired in economic crisis.
Iceland’s new government said yesterday it will halt its EU bid and drop the previous coalition’s goal of euro adoption. Prime Minister-elect Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, whose Progressives won last month’s vote together with the Independence Party, said he doesn’t want to join a bloc in crisis as his own economy recovers. According to Phelps, the decision is likely to spare Iceland many of the risks plaguing the EU.’
by Greg Palast
‘[...] Fat Bastard – or Theodoros Pangalos, thinks the little Greek kiddies should stop belly-aching. Pangalos, as you can see from the photo, is not bent over with hunger pains. In fact, he looks more likely to be bent over with labour pains, but in truth he probably just can’t bend over at all.
Pangalos is best known for blaming the working people of Greece for the horror and the hunger among the ruins of what was once Greece’s economy. However, it is, of course, not his fault; until last year, and through the core of the crisis, he was just Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister – why should he be held accountable for anything?
Minister Pangalos is much loved by Europe’s banking chieftains, by vulture speculators and by Prussian President Angela Merkel because they’ve got themselves a gigantic Greek who will mouth their mantra: that his nation’s sudden collapse can be blamed squarely on olive-pit-spitting, lazy-ass Greeks who won’t work more than three hours a week, then retire while they’re still teenagers to swill state-subsidised ouzo.
Pangalos leads the Fifth Column of Greeks calling to accept Germany’s terms of economic surrender: austerity, meaning cuts in food allowances, in pensions, in jobs. As of this week, more than one in four Greeks (27 percent) are out of work.’
How America’s National Security Apparatus (in Partnership With Big Corporations) Cracked Down on Dissent ~ Alternet
by Alex Kane
‘Counter-terror police officers collaborated with corporate entities to combat protests. Undercover police officers monitored and tracked the Occupy movement. A right-wing corporate-backed group hired a police officer to help protect a conference. These are some of the details revealed in a new report published by the Center for Media and Democracy’s Beau Hodai, along with DBA Press. The revelations are based on government documents the group obtained.
The report, titled “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” is an eye-opening look into how the U.S. counter-terror apparatus was used to track the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012 and also help protect the business entities targeted by the movement. The report specifically looks at the activities of “fusion centers,” or law enforcement entities created after 9/11 that transform local police forces into counter-terror units in partnership with federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. The fusion centers devoted a lot of time–to the point of “obsession,” the report notes–to monitoring the Occupy movement, particularly for any “threats” to public safety or health and to whether there were “extremists” involved in the movement.
The documents obtained for the report from government agencies reveal “a grim mosaic of ‘counter-terrorism’ agency operations and attitudes toward activists and other socially/politically-engaged citizens over the course of 2011 and 2012,” writes Hodai. He adds that these heavily-funded agencies indisputably view Occupy activists as “terrorist” threats. Additionally, Hodai writes that “this view of activists, and attendant activist monitoring/suppression, has been carried out on behalf of, and in cooperation with, some of the nation’s largest financial and corporate interests.”’
‘International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde will be grilled Thursday by prosecutors investigating a huge state payout to a disgraced tycoon during her time as French finance minister.
Lagarde will appear before the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which probes cases of ministerial misconduct, to explain her 2007 handling of a row that resulted in 400 million euros being paid to Bernard Tapie.
Tapie is a former politician and controversial business figure who went to prison for match-fixing during his time as president of France’s biggest football club, Olympique Marseille.
Prosecutors working for the CJR suspect he received favourable treatment in return for supporting Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 and 2012 presidential elections.
They have suggested Lagarde — who at the time was finance minister — was partly responsible for “numerous anomalies and irregularities” which could lead to charges for complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.
Lagarde would not automatically be forced to resign her job as head of the International Monetary Fund if a French court decides to prosecute her in the Bernard Tapie case.
But such a ruling could weaken her as managing director of the Fund, after having led it through four difficult eurozone rescues in her 22 months in the job.
And it would mean the second IMF managing director in a row – both French – beset by legal problems, after the sex scandal that forced the resignation of her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.’
by Jill Treanor
‘Speculation about a government sell-off of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group was escalating on Tuesday night amid reports that the International Monetary Fund is urging the Treasury to accelerate its disposal of the £65bn stakes in the two bailed-out banks.
As part of its annual health check on the UK economy, the Washington-based fund is said to be telling the government that disposal of the share stakes should be a priority.
Hopes of a sell-off of the 39% stake in Lloyds and 81% stake in RBS have risen in recent days as their share prices have climbed. On Tuesday shares in Lloyds closed just above 61p, the level which the Treasury has signalled it now regards as break-even for the taxpayer, while RBS was at 342p, still below any break-even targets set by the government.’
‘RIOTERS have set fire to dozens of cars and thrown stones at policemen in several areas of the Swedish capital Stockholm in the third day of urban unrest after police shot dead a man in a northern suburb.
Police said on Wednesday eight men aged 18 to 22 had been arrested, and that 30 vehicles were torched.
Police on Sunday shot dead a 69-year-old man in the suburb of Husby, where 80 per cent of the 12,000 inhabitants are immigrants and unemployment is high. Police said they acted in self-defence after the man threatened to killed them with a knife.
The riots spread to other areas.
Megafonen, an organisation that works with young people in deprived areas, said the police were heavy-handed and targeted immigrants indiscriminately.
Cuts in services, underfunded schools and closures of youth centres have fuelled discontent, said Rami al-Khamisi, spokesman for Megafonen, which means the megaphone.’
by David Shukman
‘The prospect of a deep sea “gold rush” opening a controversial new frontier for mining on the ocean floor has moved a step closer.
The United Nations has published its first plan for managing the extraction of so-called “nodules” – small mineral-rich rocks – from the seabed.
A technical study was carried out by the UN’s International Seabed Authority – the body overseeing deep sea mining.
It says companies could apply for licences from as soon as 2016.
The idea of exploiting the gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and other metals of the ocean floor has been considered for decades but only recently became feasible with high commodity prices and new technology.
Conservation experts have long warned that mining the seabed will be highly destructive and could have disastrous long-term consequences for marine life.
The ISA study itself recognizes that mining will cause “inevitable environmental damage”.
But the report comes amid what a spokesman describes as “an unprecedented surge” of interest from state-owned and private mining companies.’
by Emily Alpert
Los Angeles Times
‘Bucking longstanding patterns in the United States, more poor people now live in the nation’s suburbs than in urban areas, according to a new analysis.
As poverty mounted throughout the nation over the past decade, the number of poor people living in suburbs surged 67% between 2000 and 2011 — a much bigger jump than in cities, researchers for the Brookings Institution said in a book published today. Suburbs still have a smaller percentage of their population living in poverty than cities do, but the sheer number of poor people scattered in the suburbs has jumped beyond that of cities.
Authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube cited a long list of reasons for the shift.
More poor people moved to the suburbs, pulled by more affordable homes or pushed by urban gentrification, the authors said. Some used the increased mobility of housing vouchers, which used to be restricted by area, to seek better schools and safer neighborhoods in suburbia. Still others, including immigrants, followed jobs as the booming suburbs demanded more workers, many for low-paying, service-sector jobs.
Change also came from within. More people in the suburbs slipped into poverty as manufacturing jobs disappeared, the authors found. The housing boom and bust also walloped many homeowners on the outer ridges of metropolitan areas, hitting pocketbooks hard. On top of that, the booming numbers of poor people in the suburbs were driven, in part, by the exploding growth of the suburbs themselves.
The shift caught many communities by surprise, the authors found, with public and private agencies unprepared to meet the need in suburban areas.’
‘Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed’s annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.
His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Barack Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.’
by Mark Kleinman
‘The trading of government bonds would be rendered uneconomic and pensioners would find their savings hit under proposals for a Europe-wide financial transactions tax, according to one of the financial sector’s most influential trade bodies.
In a report to be published on Monday by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), the European Commission will be warned that its decision to push ahead with the levy will have disastrous consequences at a time when the Continent’s struggling economies are desperate to kickstart growth.
Sky News has obtained a copy of the report, which contains one of the most damning assessments to date of the proposed tax.’
Bill Black: Banks Win Big as Regulators Refuse to Rein in $700 Trillion Derivatives Market ~ The Real News
‘The UK has spent almost £2bn housing vulnerable homeless families in short-term temporary accommodation, according to figures that demonstrate the scale of Britain’s housing crisis.
Rising private rents, a shortage of affordable housing and benefit cuts have forced local authorities, particularly in London, to place increasing numbers of households in bed and breakfast accommodation, hostels and shelters.
With the number of houses built in Britain falling to new lows, according to figures released last week, a four-month study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has revealed that £1.88bn has been spent on renting temporary accommodation in 12 of Britain’s biggest cities over the past four years.
Campaigners have said welfare changes will exacerbate the problem. Official figures show that in London alone 7,000 families dependent onbenefits stand to lose more than £100 a week under the benefit cap, and many are expected to become homeless as a result.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “For the sake of cutting just a few pounds a week from their benefits, families and individuals are being forced out of their homes, to be put up in B&Bs or temporary accommodation that costs us all far more.”‘
by Helena Smith
‘Nobody knows which came first: the economic crisis tearing Greece apart or shisha, the drug now known as the “cocaine of the poor”. What everyone does accept is that shisha is a killer. And at €2 or less a hit, it is one that has come to stalk Greece, the country long on the frontline of Europe‘s financial meltdown.
“As drugs go, it is the worst. It burns your insides, it makes you aggressive and ensures that you go totally mad,” said Maria, a former heroin addict. “But it is cheap and it is easy to get, and it is what everyone is doing.”
The drug crisis, brought to light in a new film by Vice.com, has put Athens’s health authorities, already overwhelmed by draconian cuts, under further strain.
The drug of preference for thousands of homeless Greeks forced on to the streets by poverty and despair, shisha is described by both addicts and officials as a variant of crystal meth whose potential to send users into a state of mindless violence is underpinned by the substances with which the synthetic drug is frequently mixed: battery acid, engine oil and even shampoo.
Worse still, it is not only readily available, but easy to make – tailor-made for a society that despite official prognostications of optimism, and fiscal progress, on the ground, at least, sees little light at the end of the tunnel.’
Italy’s New Government Approval Rating Plummets From 43% To 34% In Three Weeks, Protests Return ~ Zero Hedge
by Tyler Durden
It was less than a month ago that the new Italian government of the pseudo-technocrat Letta, of Bilderberg 2012 and Aspen Institute fame, was voted in by a majority of the PD and the PDL parties (the latter agreeing so Berlusconi would get an extension of his much needed political immunity from assorted prison sentences). It may not last too long. As Reuters reports, it took just 20 days for Letta’s approval rating to plunge by 25%, dropping from 43% at the start of the month to 34%, according to an SWG institute poll. It would appear the Italian people (unlike their Japanese peers who at least according to government-controlled media data could not be happier with PM Abe, supposedly because of the bubblelicious 50% rise in the Nikkei225 year to date, even though under 20% are actually invested in the stock market making one wonder just how credible polling, and all other data in Japan actually is) don’t have Mrs. Watanabe’s childish fascination wth soaring stock bubbles, sexy bonds, mini skirts and 2% inflation bras, and instead demand real economic results. Which also means the protests are once again back.
‘According to some insiders, officials believe a pay rise as high as 25 per cent – taking salaries to £82,172 – is needed to give MPs a fair deal.
But it is thought they may recommend a figure closer to £10,000 to try to minimise the anticipated public outcry.
Downing Street will be alarmed at the prospect of a big rise for MPs on the grounds that it would undermine David Cameron’s ‘we’re all in it together’ campaign to encourage other workers to make do with no increase or minimal rises of one per cent.
A senior MP said: ‘We know we are going to see headlines of “snouts in the trough” but the issue of MPs’ low pay has to be resolved. ‘We got into this mess 25 years ago because we were frightened of being criticised by the press and public for giving ourselves a proper pay rise.
‘Instead, we were encouraged to claim more expenses under the counter.
The expenses scandal ended all that and now we are left with a pitiful pay cheque.
‘Voters may not like it but if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Unless our pay goes up, the decline in the quality of people prepared to become MPs and Ministers will increase and the whole country will suffer.’
by Terry Macalister
‘An EU crackdown on bankers’ bonuses in the City of London will just lead to a surge in basic salaries and other initiatives to circumvent regulations, experts warned on Saturday.
Banks, still unpopular for their leading role in the financial crisis, are keeping their avoidance plans under wraps, but industry figures were happy to boast privately that they could run rings round Brussels.
“Banks are pretty good at getting round rules,” said one senior financier. “If there are restrictions on us paying bonuses, we will be looking at paying some other kind of allowances.”‘
by Brian Milligan
‘Over five days, I set out to see if it was possible to include sufficient fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates in my food to do that, spending no more than £1 a day – while trying not to lose sight of the fact that eating should be a pleasure, not just a necessity.
Coffee, alcohol, cakes and even salad are just too expensive. But there are plenty of surprising goodies that are very much on the menu.’
Revealed: Devastating impact of ‘bedroom tax’ sees huge leap in demand for emergency hardship handouts for tenants ~ Independent
by CHARLIE COOPER
‘The extent of the suffering inflicted by the “bedroom tax” can be revealed for the first time today as figures show a 338 per cent leap in the number of people applying for emergency handouts in the month since it was imposed.
In April, more than 25,000 people resorted to applying for discretionary housing payments (DHP) to help cover their rent, according to an analysis of 51 councils by The Independent. There were only 5,700 such claimants in the same month last year.
Demand on the emergency fund – which is intended to provide short-term help to housing benefit claimants who are unable to pay their rent – is now so great that people who would previously have been given help may receive reduced handouts. Some applicants have already had their claims refused altogether.
Although the Government has increased its emergency housing support fund, which it divides between councils, from £60m in 2012-13 to £155m this year, local authorities say this is not nearly enough to help everyone hit by the cut to the spare room subsidy – known as the bedroom tax.
The Department for Work and Pensions said it was “monitoring” the situation and did not take concerns about the surge in claims lightly.’
by HANNAH FEARN
‘Social landlords are spending thousands of pounds training staff to identify tenants at risk of committing suicide as benefit and public sector cuts take their toll on deprived communities, The Independent can disclose.
Call-centre staff, housing officers and even maintenance workers are sent on courses that cost up to £300 per person, teaching participants how to judge whether someone is suicidal or suffering from mental-health problems.
Housing associations are experiencing an increase in mental distress among social tenants facing eviction or struggling to keep up with rent and other bills due to benefit cuts and the overhaul of the welfare system.’
‘Slovenia said it was confident its newly-adopted action plan would stabilise public finances and lead to an economic recovery, a day after ratings agency Fitch downgraded the crisis-hit country.
[...] Fitch cut the nation’s main debt rating to ‘BBB+’ from A-, with a negative outlook, saying Slovenia’s “macroeconomic and fiscal outlook has deteriorated significantly”.
“The agency now forecasts a 2% contraction in real GDP in 2013 and a decline of 0.3% in 2014, when Slovenia is expected to be one of only two eurozone economies to contract,” Fitch said on Friday.
Slovenia has been widely tipped as the next country to require a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and the ratings downgrade could substantially raise the cost of borrowing for politicians in Ljubljana.’
by Mamta Badkar
‘[...] A new report from the World Gold Council shows that central banks bout 109 tonnes of gold in the first quarter.
This was the seventh straight quarter in which they purchased over 100 tonnes of gold.
Central banks held 31,735.4 tonnes of gold as of May 2013. This was up from 31,694.8 tonnes as of April 2013.
According to the WGC, Russia and South Korea were among the biggest buyers of gold.’
‘The IMF has approved a three-year, $1.3 billion loan to jump start recovery in Cyprus and restore financial credibility to its indebted banking industry.
The funds will be distributed to stabilize the banking industry, tame the debt deficit, and to restore economic growth on the island.
The IMF announced on Wednesday it had approved the first $111 million (86 million euro) installment of the loan, which was made immediately available to the Cypriot government. The next installment of $1.3 (1 billion euro) will be wired before June 30th, 2013 and fostered by the Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism.
The bailout is part of a $13 billion (10 billion euro) monetary package funded by Troika lenders over the next three years.The financial assistance is intended to prevent a further crisis and to revive the economic pulse of the debt-stricken nation.’
by Tyler Durden
‘Confirming that in a world in which either commercial or central banks have to be constantly be churning out debt, and in a world in which Europe is doing neither (with European commercial loan growth posting sequential declines across the board, and the ECB’s balance sheet still declining although likely not for long), “growth” as defined by conventional standards, is impossible, we got today’s European Q1 GDP data. Not only was it bad, but it was even worse than most had expected.
And while Germany may have escaped a technical recession after its economy grew by the absolute minimum possible 0.1 percent in the first quarter (does it too also include intangibles in its GDP calculation one wonders) following a drop in Q4, it was France that officially double dipped into its second recession in four years with a 0.2 percent contraction and one year into Hollande’s term. As the Bloomberg Brief chart below shows, Germany and France account for 49 percent of euro-area output. Overall, the euro-area economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the first quarter. The region’s economy has been shrinking since October 2011, the longest recession since the start of monetary union.’