Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obama calls out GOP for Holding FEMA Funds Hostage

The House Republicans are refusing to give more money to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.
(This is a particularly big issue right now, since the money could be of great used for helping the people that are suffering from the effects of Hurricane Irene, and FEMA has run out of money. Of course it has run out of money: this year has seen so much extreme weather, and we have four months to go in the remainder of 2011.)

So, it was quite proper when President Barack Obama criticized the GOP for holding FEMA funds hostage.
Los Angeles Times: White House blasts GOP over FEMA funding".

Now, one wonders whether some middle of the road voters in flood besieged New Jersey will reconsider support for Republican congressional or presidential candidates. Just consider how the supposedly moderate N.J. Governor Chris Christie has taken the state out of the Northeast carbon cap compact.
Will weather disaster-plagued districts flip from Republican to Democratic in the Presidential and Congressional votes in the 2012 general election? Just note (on the 2010 Congressional elections map below) the red district from northeastern North Carolina to New Jersey. Will voters see the light about global warming (as opposed to deniers Rick Perry and Chris Christie?

Well, maybe it will take more 100 degree days and destructive hurricanes. Click on this link for "Natural disaster risk assessment reveals most and least dangerous cities" at for natural disaster risk. The very Republican red Southeast has the most cities that are indicated to be the riskiest in which to live.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

8/30, PM UPDATES: Airlifts to Vermont; Irene Deaths: 41; 2.85 Million People w/o Power; In NJ: Flooding Remains

Isolated flood-besieged Vermont towns are receiving supplies by way of National Guard airlifts: Newport News Daily Press: "National Guard airlifts take food, water to Vt. towns cut off by Irene's flooding."

(There's the helpful hand of the national government. Think about that one, Tea-Partiers. Army Corp of Engineers, FEMA, those are federal agency helping the public, tax dollars at work.)

CNN reports that the death toll from Hurricane Irene now stands at 41: "Irene update: Death toll at 41; 2.85 million still without power."

Flooding of rivers in the Passaic River Basin is affecting towns throughout northern New Jersey, covering streets, flooding homes. (Reuters)

Most of eastern Connecticut remains without power. (Wall Street Journal)

Big Tar Sands Sit-in Protests at White House -Will Obama Listen?

Interesting timing that global warming protests at the White House were scheduled for a week right after Hurricane Irene, the largest Mid-Atlantic and New England --very convenient, and pertinent.

140 protesters were outside the White House on August 29, 2011, submitting to arrest. (Today is day 10 of a two-week protest.) They were protesting against Keystone's Tar Sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas, U.S. As an opponent of the pipeline noted, we have seen an increasing number of episodes of extreme weather.

Now, albeit, a single incident of extreme weather does not always indicate an effect of global warming. Take for example, the cycle of large hurricanes hitting the New York City/ Long Island region in recent decades, 1938, 1960, 1985, 2011. In the cycle we have hurricanes coming about every 25 years. And, the scientific consensus is that we cannot we identify a causal relationship of global warming upon tornadoes.

But, in aggregate, we are seeing more days of very high temperatures, weeks of 90s, 100s degree temperatures from Texas to Florida. And we are seeing severity of weather patterns in certain parts of the country: in the Southwest and Mountain West: drought and wildfires; and in much of the rest of the continental U.S.: record rainfalls.

There is much oil in Alberta, Canada. The United States has a high appetite for fossil fuels. Transcanada, is building the Keystone Pipeline to carry diluted bitumen, a crude oil, from there to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Proponents of the project say that the oil from the project will help ween the United States off its dependence on foreign oil (often pundits mention the Middle East, but they omit Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela).

You can watch a short debate between an opponent and a proponent of the pipeline on the PBS News Hour show of August 29. Here, below, is a map of the pipeline's projected route. (Note its path through several red states and to Rick Perry's Texas. Watch Governor Perry gloat over the money that it brings through the state and ignore Obama's role in the pipeline.)

Read more background on the Keystone Project at PBS News Hour's Rundown blog, "Proposed Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Elicits Protests."

Then again, consider the above mentioned signs of worsening weather, the melting of glaciers, and the international scientific consensus: we are experiencing global warming, and humans ARE causing this.
We should be investing in renewable energies: wind, solar, corn-based ethanol. We should be shifting from investments in roads and airports to inter-city trains, and for regional population clusters, high speed rail. We should be developing residential and work communities in compact arrangements, similar to the patterns that we see in the older cities of the Mid-West and the Northeast. The judgment behind this pipeline proposal is questionable.
Protesters were calling on President Barack Obama to take action to stop the project. Specifically, they want Obama to deny a permit to the project. Details, see "NW environmental news: Oil sand pipeline in the crosshairs of activists", at, August 29, 2011.

The organized opposition has been going for two years now. The current protest has given the story more legs. At earlier this month, Daily Kos ran this post with an online petition to Obama to stop the pipeline.

Number 112 of the 140 arrested today at the White House was James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, New York. Elizabeth McGowan in "Amid Cheers, NASA Chief Is Arrested at Oil Sands Pipeline Protests: James Hansen, the 70-year-old renowned climate scientist, was the 112th of 140 arrested on day 10 of the Keystone XL pipeline sit-ins", wrote:
Hansen—who has been arrested a couple of times before for protesting the harvesting of fossil fuels—regularly criticizes the Keystone XL pipeline as the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." The Obama administration is expected to issue a decision on the international project by the end of the year.

Given that President Obama is heeding the prerogatives of the Corporate Occupied Political System, the odds are very slim that he would to anything to oppose this project. His record in the past two years has shown that he attends to the interests of corporations. Plus, he's got the Tea-Party Republicans, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann breathing down his neck to keep oil prices down. My prediction, despite any protests, Obama will be more concerned with satisfying vehicle drivers that want low gas prices. Despite the protests, Obama will not deny the pipeline project a permit. He will play to the middle and show himself to be the centrist that he is.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SUN. 1130 AM IRENE UPDATES: Flood Waters Breach onto New York City Streets

Hurricane Irene has been downgraded from Saffir-Simpson Category 1 to a tropical storm.

The eye of the storm has reached lower parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens. The winds are moderate, reduced from level it had been off lower New Jersey.

WABC-TV has shown East River flood waters breaching through concrete barriers, onto South Street, in the vicinity of Wall Street.

Time-Warner's NY1 has shown the Hudson River lapping over the edge, in the Tribeca area and the boardwalk of Battery Park City (cresting at 9:45 AM).

In Brooklyn, flood waters are covering Manhattan Beach streets.

In Staten Island, the Bulls Head section had flooding rising from the Fresh Kills and the Arthur Kills channel between New Jersey and Staten Island. (remaining flooded at 11:30 AM)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

LATEST Hurricane Irene Storm Surge, Flood Zone Maps -BREAKING NEWS: New Moon Effects

(NOTE: the above map is for illustration purposes only, is a photo of Miami, during a previous storm.)


Weather Underground Georgia, Carolinas Storm Surge Model Maps, for the four Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scales

Weather Underground Middle Atlantic (VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY) Storm Surge Model Maps

Weather Underground New England (CT, RI, MA, NH, ME) Storm Surge Model Maps

North Carolina evacuation, storm surge, inundation maps


Virginia DOT Evacuation Guide portal

Virginia evacuation shelters list (WTVR TV).

Accomack County – Voluntary evacuation order upgraded to mandatory.
Bayside evacuation areas include all homes generally west of
Craddockville Road, Boston Road, Greenbush Road (Rt. 316), Mears
Road and Neil Parker Road .

Seaside evacuation areas include all homes generally east of Seaside Road, Atlantic Road and Fleming Road.

Chesapeake, City of – Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas and mobile homes. The VDBHDS Training Center has evacuated 120 residents to Petersburg.
Chincoteague, town of – Voluntary evacuation for residents. Mandatory evacuation for all non-residents.
Gloucester County – Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas and mobile homes.
Officials recommend residents in flood prone areas evacuate by Saturday morning.

Hampton, City of – Mandatory evacuation for category 1 surge and low-lying areas as of 0800 Friday, August 26. Voluntary evacuation for entire city.
James City County – Voluntary evacuation on low-lying areas.
King and Queen County – Voluntary evacuation
Lancaster County – Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas.
Mathews County – Voluntary evacuations.
Middlesex County – Mandatory evacuation in low-lying areas and manufactured homes. Voluntary evacuation in effect as of 1200 hours on Friday, August 26.
Newport News, City of – Mandatory evacuation for category 1 surge areas and flood prone sections of the city. Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas.
Norfolk, City of – Mandatory evacuation for low-lying areas by 0800 Saturday, August 27.
Northampton County – Voluntary evacuation for all coastal and low-lying areas and mobile homes. Mandatory evacuation issued for three campgrounds and the YMCA camp. All visitors required to be out by 1600 hours Friday, August 26
Northumberland County – Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas and mobile homes.
Poquoson, City of – Voluntary evacuation.
Portsmouth, City of – Mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas as of 1300 hours Friday, August 26
Richmond County – Voluntary evacuation for low-lying areas and mobile homes.
Suffolk, City of – Evacuation recommended for low-lying areas and mobile homes.
Virginia Beach, City of – Mandatory for Sandbridge, Knotts Island (in concert with NC) effective immediately and to be completed by 0600 on Saturday, August 27. Voluntary mobile homes and special needs populations.
Westmoreland County – Recommended evacuation for low-lying areas and mobile homes
Virginia evacuation shelters list (WTVR TV).

Virginia Emergency Management Storm Surge Inundation Maps, with county-, region- city-specific maps
Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach

Jersey City satellite image maps with color coding for mandatory evacuation of first floor residences for specific areas.

BREAKING NEWS --for night hour impacts, Jersey, NYC, Long Island, lower New England:
New Moon to Make Irene Deadlier: Extreme Tides, Storm Surge Floods Likely --International Business Times
The new moon, which occurs Sunday, is likely to bring severe tidal fluctuations are likely as the sun, Earth, and the moon come in a straight line and the gravitational pull on Earth exerted by the sun and moon intensify. This should aggravate Irene's effects.

Heckova Job, Bloomie: NYC's Bloomberg's Flawed Evacuation Plans -Brace for Katrina #2

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City said that he was concerned with the city's most vulnerable. In his emergency evacuation plans for Hurricane Irene he has not entirely attended to their welfare.

He should take a page from Hurricane Katrina this time in 2005. While most of the New Orleans residents fled in that city's evacuation, a thousand or so for whatever reasons remained in their homes. Civic leaders should be prepared for the contingencies that some people might not heed warnings or might not be able to heed them in proper time.

First off in this critique, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) shut down time of 12 PM (noon) on Saturday, August 27 is too early. only gives 60% chance of precipitation at 3:00 PM, and most warnings now say that Hurricane Irene will not reach New York until 10:00AM Sunday morning.

Next, check out the city's map. Click to the projected flood areas map at Notice how far the evacuation centers are from the big flood areas, e.g. from Coney Island or Far Rockaway (the far southeastern edge of the city --how does the city plan to get the folks of the Redfern Houses out of there?).


Why did the NYCHA ever build waterfront / hurricane-target housing projects???

The city needs to draw on the lessons of Katrina -mainly, the difficulty or the unwillingness of some people to evacuate. Oh, we can see Mayor Bloomberg with his arrogant I told you so tone, saying people were warned with ample warning.
This may sound like a stretch, but there are many poor people for whom the $2.25 fare is a burden. (Many of the underclass rarely leave their neighborhoods.) Transit head Jay Walder should made the system free for the last four hours, to give those for whom the fare is a problem, a chance to leave the neighborhood for an evacuation center.
Aside from the transit system option, the city should commandeer transit buses and school buses to get people out of the threatened Area A neighborhoods.
[UPDATE: Compliments to the mayor: latest news reports on Hurricane Irene evacuation of Hurricane Irene Area A plans, buses are being sent to housing projects in places such as Far Rockaway, to shuttle people out to evacuation shelters.
And what about the National Guard? We have heard nothing of National Guard or Red Cross preparations. Ohh, we can see another Katrina a coming. Brownie, Nagan ... the criticisms against them will pale in contrast to the short-sighted limited preparation for this one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene tracking map and NYC projected flood risk map

PBS News Hour's color coded map of Hurricane Irene's East Coast / Atlantic Ocean path. Drag the second map to reach your section of the Atlantic coast. The first map is for use with Google Earth. It pulls from NOAA and similar agencies.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA Family Disaster Plan tips:


The MTA Transit and Bus system will shut down at 12PM (noon) Saturday, August 27.

NY1's zoom-capable and downloadable PDF map of New York City Area A, Area B, Area C flood zones and the five boroughs' evacuation centers.

Here is's map of New York City with Area A, Area B, Area C, indicating which areas fall into these flood risk categories. A: area deeply affected by Category 1 storm, B: by Category 2 or 3 storm, C: by 3 or 4 and beyond.

* * *
The last big hurricanes in the New York City area:
Hurricane Gloria, 1985 (Initially Category 4, but it weakened by the time that it reached the Mid-Atlantic states)
Hurricane Donna, 1960 (Category 3 for the period that it was in the Atlantic Basin, off the Atlantic coast; longest storm to retain hurricane status --nine days)

* * *
"Why Animals Sense Natural Disasters Ahead of Time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hydrofracking May Be Leading to Increased Seismic Activity

(The above map is of locations of shale gas resources in the continental United States. I have not found a comprehensive map of active drilling sites.)

With the Virginia earthquake of August 23, 2011, people have wondered whether increased hydrofracking could be leading to increased seismic activity.

NPR's affiliate WNYC ran a story today which reported:
Research has found links between hydrofracking and increased seismic activity. The United States Geological Survey said it's possible for humans to cause earthquakes through such activities. The USGS wrote in its "Earthquakes, Faults, Plate Tectonics, Earth Structure" FAQ that "Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan, and Canada. The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil, and the use of reservoirs for water supplies."

A member of the British Geological Survey has offered a similar opinion about the possible link between hydrofracking and earthquakes in Lancashire: Brian Baptie of the United Kingdom survey said, "It seems quite likely that they are related."

See also the blogpost "Is Fracking In The UK Causing Earthquakes?" at

Could hydrofracking in the nearby Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale Regions be the cause of the up-tick in earthquake activity in the Virginia Seismic Zone? This matter deserves scrutiny. I am not holding my breath. We are living in an era of a COPS (corporate-owned political system).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Search for 8/23 earthquake intensity for your ZIP Code; ramifications for nuclear plant considerations

PBS News Hour "The Rundown Blog" has a link to a U.S. Geological Survey search engine for the August 23, 2011 earthquake (now reported as 5.8) intensity at various East Coast locations.

Enter a zip code to see how intense the earthquake was for particular locations.
The search engine returns a figure to indicate quake intensity.

(One problem: the intensity numbers are given in Arabic numerals. Yet the cited magnitude scale on the page is not the Richter Scale, but the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, which is given in Roman numerals. The USGS site says that it is not giving quake intensity in Richter measurements, yet it is not saying which scale the indicated numbers match to.)

One might argue that the quake could not harm distant locations if it did not affect closer locations. Yet if one looks at the map of the intensity readings for the quake one sees that the clusters of earthquake strength are not clustered in a continuous pattern next to the Mineral, Virginia epicenter. Some places have light or negligible vibrations from the earthquake tremors. Yet, a distance further away did record strong quake readings.
See for your self from the map immediately below. (The trajectory of the quake from Mineral, Virginia, northeast-ward toward lower New England appears to follow along the Ramapo Fault.
Other references to the Ramapo Fault:

Here is a closer view of the map of the Mineral, Louisa County, Virginia area of the earthquake.

Did we almost lose Charlottesville?

Has any of the promoters or defenders of nuclear power considered how the nuclear plants in the United states are on or close to seismic (earthquake) zones or fault lines?

With the 2011 Virginia earthquake today one might argue that we came close to losing Charlottesville.

Consider the nuclear power plants and the earthquake activity in the area, just in the years since these plants were operational in the 1970s. As I blogged earlier today in part of a post:
Wonder how people in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area feel about the relatively old nuclear power plants in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland: Calvert Cliffs (operative since 1975) in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, North Anna Nuclear Generating Station (just 11 miles from the earthquake epicenter, and operative since 1978), near Charlottesville, Virginia and Surry Nuclear Power Plant (operative since 1972) in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia vicinity.

The wikipedia article for the Virginia Seismic Zone reports that there have been several quakes in the past decade in the area, albeit with mild readings, around 3.6. Just over the Potomac River lies the site of the 2010 Germantown, Maryland earthquake (the Potomac-Shenandoah Earthquake, as labeled by Wikipedia), 3.6 on the Richter Scale. The North Anna plant is sited precisely in the Virginia Seismic Zone.

Another site to note: Andrew Schenkel, "Nuclear power and earthquake zones overlap in the U.S.: Earthquake in Japan raises concerns about what could happen in the U.S." in Mother Nature News, March 11, 2011.

Moderate earthquakes hit Virginia AND Colorado

Monday night an earthquake of 5.8 Richter scale strength hit southern Colorado in the area of the border with New Mexico, Monday, August 22, 2011, evening. It was the largest quake to hit Colorado in more than a century.

Receiving much more media attention was the earthquake to hit Mineral, Virginia today, August 23, at about 1:00 PM in the center of the state. Mineral, the epicenter town, is midway between Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, fifty miles from Richmond. In media reports it has been identified as the Washington, D.C. earthquake. It was reported as being a 5.9 scale earthquake. This would be the strongest earthquake in the Mid-Atlantic region in decades. It exceeds a 2003 central Virginia earthquake of 4.5, and the 1998 Pymatuning earthquake in northeast Pennsylvania, with a 5.2 reading.

This second earthquake has been reported felt as far as Toronto, Ontario; Detroit, Michigan; North Carolina and Massachusetts. Source: "5.9 earthquake in Virginia shakes East Coast, rattles Michigan office buildings," "Detroit Free Press."

Wonder how people in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area feel about the relatively old nuclear power plants in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland: Calvert Cliffs (operative since 1975) in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, North Anna Nuclear Generating Station (operative since 1978), near Charlottesville, Virginia and Surry Nuclear Power Plant (operative since 1972) in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia vicinity.

The wikipedia article for the Virginia Seismic Zone reports that there have been several quakes in the past decade in the area, albeit with mild readings, around 3.6. Just over the Potomac River lies the site of the 2010 Germantown, Maryland earthquake (the Potomac-Shenandoah Earthquake, as labeled by Wikipedia), 3.6 on the Richter Scale. The North Anna plant is sited precisely in the Virginia Seismic Zone.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chris Christie Joins Global Warming Denying Flat Earthists; Bias By Millionaire TV Anchors

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Republican, of course) has left the northeastern political consensus that policies should be pursued to reduce carbon emissions. (Reduction of carbon pollution emissions is aimed at tackling global warming.)
Since May he has opposed the Northeast agreement (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI) to cap carbon emissions.
(Christopher Baker in, "Gov. Christie announces N.J. pulling out of regional environmental initiative", May 26, 2011.)

Christie vetoed state legislature law last Friday that committed to supporting carbon emission controls by 2018.
Democrats will try to engineer an override of Christie's veto.

As a moderate blogger said, Christie has just nixed his chance to become presidential nominee in 2012.

* * *

Wonder why television anchors and other news personalities are so bent on pursuing the center-right pro-corporate consensus (notice how some of them pushed Christie to run for president)?
Perhaps their big salaries have something to do with it. The multi-millionaire anchors have it in their interest to oppose President Barack Obama's talk about taxing millionaires.

See this report from August 9, 2011 in MediaBistro: Alex Weprin, "Who Makes What in TV News?"

The highest paid news anchor is NBC “Today” anchor Matt Lauer, who brings in around $17 million a year.
. . .
Among the evening news anchors, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams leads the way with a $13 million a year contract, followed by Diane Sawyer at $12 million. “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley makes less than $5 million a year, or less than a third of what Katie Couric was making on the program.

On cable, Anderson Cooper‘s CNN/Warner Bros. syndicated show deal brings in $11 million a year, followed by Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, who makes $10 million a year.

NBC's "Meet the Press"' David Gregory's salary is publicly unknown, but FAIR has suspected that he is earning something in the neighborhood of the $5 million that Chris Matthews is making.
David Gregory, Fat Cat in Denial
02/23/2009 by Jim Naureckas

David Gregory sticking up for bank stockholders on Meet the Press (2/22/09):

There's a larger point here, which is, first of all, the more...the shares of...these banks gets talked down...the closer you get to wiping out the shareholder completely. And it's, it's not clear to me that everybody understands that the investor in this country, who is not just a fat cat, the investor is us.... It is the taxpayer, it's the teacher, it's someone who's invested in a 401(k). The investors on the sidelines, scared to death about taking any risk. And unless that changes, this economy really can't turn around.

Matthew Yglesias writes today (2/23/09) on the oddity of Gregory making a distinction between fat cats and people like himself. I can't find a published estimate of Gregory's salary, but his NBC colleague Chris Matthews reportedly makes $5 million a year (Washington Post, 1/8/09), as did his Meet the Press predecessor Tim Russert (Washington Post, 5/23/04), so Gregory's salary is probably in that neighborhood, give or take a few million. This is a hundred times the median family income in the U.S.--not counting Gregory's spouse's income; she used to be a vice president at Fannie Mae, making an estimated $3 million a year.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Well, it's looking a lot like the U.S. food policy will once again be according to the interests of Monsanto:

From the
Michael Taylor was just appointed senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. This is the same man that was in charge of FDA policy when GMO's were allowed into the US food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety. He "had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA he became Monsanto's Vice President and chief lobbyist. This month became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. This is no joke."

Here's the full story:
You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!
- - - -

Jeffrey Smith
The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier, non-GMO choices
Posted on 9:40 pm July 23, 2009
You’re Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It’s Not So!
The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here’s the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply—the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods—secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried “serious health hazards,” and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn’t going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.

Dangerous Food Safety Lies

When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to “different risks” than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.

This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them—companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.

GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.

In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world’s top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.

In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation

In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies “systematically overlook the side effects” and significantly underestimate “the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others.”

The Fox Guarding the Chickens

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America’s food safety czar. What have we done?

The Milk Man Cometh

While Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90′s, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST)—injected into cows to increase milk supply.

The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk—unless it was organic and therefore untreated.

Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA’s approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US.

Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.

Taylor’s disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto’s own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor’s white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free.

Will Monsanto’s Wolff Also Guard the Chickens?

As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania—Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn’t afford to create separate packaging for just one state.

Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff’s madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor’s FDA disclaimer on the package.

President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes!

Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania’s governor is supporting Wolff’s appointment is to get him out of the state—after he “screwed up so badly” with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.

Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itus

Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania’s lead by requiring Taylor’s FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland’s office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements.

Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration.

To hear what America is saying about GMOs and to add your voice, go to our new non-GMO Facebook Group.

Tags: accelerated aging, allergies, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, asthma, bovine growth hormone, cancer, Dennis Wolff, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, FDA, FDA policy, Food and Drug Administration, food labels, food related illness, food safety, food safety czar, food supply, gastrointestinal disorder, GE foods, genetically engineered, genetically engineered foods, genetically modified foods, genetically modified organisms, GM foods, GMO labels, GMOs, Governor Ed Rendell, igf-1, immune problems, infertility, inflammation, insulin regulation, insulin-like growth factor 1, International Dairy Foods Association, Michael Taylor. Safety testing, milk, milk supply, Monsanto, multiple chronic illness, Ohio Governor Strickland, organic, Organic Trade Association, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, president obama, rbGH, rbST, revolving door, substantially equivalent

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gang of Twelve Congressional Super Committee Named

The Daily Herald, of Utah, picking up from "The Washington Post", reported the final choices hours ago.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday filled out the final three slots on the joint deficit committee by selecting three members of her leadership team to the panel.
Pelosi, D-Calif., chose Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., giving the panel the highest-ranking African-American and Latino lawmakers in Congress with Clyburn and Becerra, respectively. Pelosi reiterated her call for Congress to consider "the grand bargain" of major entitlement cuts matched with increased taxes.
"We must achieve a 'grand bargain' that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Our entire Caucus will work closely with these three appointees toward this goal, which is the goal of the American people," Pelosi said. "Because the work of this committee will affect all Americans, I called last week for its deliberations to be transparent; the committee should conduct its proceedings in the open."

. . .
The three House Democrats complete the 12-member panel, which must turn in its recommendations for $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts by Thanksgiving or risk pulling an automatic trigger for deep cuts to federal agencies and defense programs.
Of the 12, ten voted for the debt-ceiling deal that rescued the country from the brink of default, which suggests at least the possibility that the 12-member panel will be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on future spending cuts. The two panel members to oppose the debt compromise are Becerra and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa.
The other eight members of the panel are Republican Sens. Jon Kyl, Ariz., and Rob Portman, Ohio, Republican Reps. Jeb Hensarling, Texas, Dave Camp, Mich., and Fred Upton, Mich., and Democratic Sens. Patty Murray, Wash., Max Baucus, Mont., and John Kerry, Mass. Murray and Hensarling are co-chairs.
On Wednesday, following the lead of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced their picks for the new panel.

Read more at the original Daily Herald article posting:

As Amanda Terkel noted at "Huffington Post," the Super Committee has only one woman


Monday, August 8, 2011

Long term impact of the London riots

Many hours of riots in more and more areas of London, England, I prefer to say, over UK.

Of course, there are the usual reasons to condemn the riots: the property damage, the property damage.

Of self-interest to the people in the riot-affected areas:
have they considered the long-term impact of the riots on the low-income neighborhoods that they live in?

Here in cities of the United States, one can see in areas that had rioting in the 1960s it took a generation to get businesses to come back to the neighborhoods.
The neighborhoods are often bereft of banks, movie theaters and nice restaurants.
What is left in the low-income areas of Brooklyn or the Bronx of New York City or in downtown Newark, New Jersey? Just cheap delicatessens (cornershops or snack shops in British parlance), hair salons/ barber shops, and fast food. Not fun places to visit or to move to.

Maybe the rioters/ hooligans/ ruffians/ gangs would want to consider whether they want their neighborhoods to have decent commerce in them for the next twenty years.