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American Hunger-Related Healthcare Costs Exceeded $160 Billion in 2014, According to New Study

Food insecurity, especially for children, remains near record high despite the Great Recession’s official end.

BY Elizabeth Grossman

Currently about 50 million Americans meet the USDA criteria for food insecurity. About 15 million of them are children.

While the official end of the Great Recession is a full five years behind us, there are now nearly 12 million more Americans who lack enough resources to access adequate food than there were in 2007, a number that has only improved slightly since United States food insecurity peaked at over 21 percent in 2009. These statistics alone are disturbing. But as detailed in a new study released today as part of Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report, absence of food security in the U.S. carries enormous healthcare costs, more than $160 billion in 2014.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Census Bureau and research on food security published in peer-reviewed academic journals between 2005 and 2015, a team of researchers led by Boston University School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics John Cook, estimated these health care costs by looking at the costs of treating diseases and health conditions associated with household food insecurity plus earnings lost when people took time off work because of these illnesses or to care for family members with illnesses related to food insecurity.

As Cook, who is also research scientist and principal investigator with Children’s Health Watch, explained to In These Times, lack of access to adequate food does not necessarily directly cause a particular illness but “plays a role in that disease occurring.” Years of research consistently shows food insecurity increases the risk for a range of health problems. These risks are particularly great for children but poor and inadequate nutrition also increases risk for adult health problems, including obesity and chronic diseases, among them diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It also exacerbates illness duration and severity–in some cases simply because people lack money for medication–and therefore treatment costs.

Putting this in a broader economic context, Bread for the World Institute points out that the U.S. “spends more per capita on health care than any other high-income country but compares poorly with these others on key population health indicators such as life expectancy and child survival. This is due,” report authors, “in part to our tolerance as a nation, for higher levels of poverty and hunger.”

Currently about 50 million Americans meet the USDA criteria for food insecurity. About 15 million of them are children. In 2014, 19.2 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure–about a third higher than households without. The Boston University research team found if the costs of special education for children whose learning abilities are adversely affected by food insecurity are factored in along with related education impacts for high-schoolers, the $160 billion rose by an additional  nearly $18 billion. This brings a total estimate of direct and indirect health care costs of U.S. food insecurity in 2014 to $178.93 billion.


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Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back

By: Pepe Escobar


Russia’s and Turkey’s objectives in fighting the Islamic State group are diametrically opposed.

It’s absolutely impossible to understand why the Turkish government would engage in the suicidal strategy of downing a Russian Su-24 over Syrian territory – technically a NATO declaration of war on Russia – without putting in context the Turkish power play in northern Syria.

President Vladmir Putin said the downing of the Russian fighter jet was a “stab in the back.” So let’s see how facts on the ground allowed it to happen.

Ankara uses, finances, and weaponizes a basket case of extremist outfits across northern Syria, and needs by all means to keep supply line corridors from southern Turkey open for them; after all they need to conquer Aleppo, which would open the way for Ankara’s Holy Grail: regime change in Damascus.

At the same time Ankara is terrified of the YPG – the Syrian Kurd People’s Protection Units – a sister organization of the leftist PKK. These must be contained at all costs.


So the Islamic State group – against which the United Nations has declared war – is a mere detail in the overall Ankara strategy, which is essentially to fight, contain or even bomb Kurds; support all manner of Takfiris and Salafi-jihadis, including the Islamic State group; and get regime change in Damascus.


Unsurprisingly, the YPG Syrian Kurds are vastly demonized in Turkey, accused of at least trying to ethnic cleanse Arab and Turkmen villages in northern Syria. Yet, what the Syrian Kurds are attempting – and to Ankara’s alarm, somewhat supported by the U.S. – is to link what are for the moment three patches of Kurdish land in northern Syria.

A look at an imperfect Turkish map at least reveals how two of these patches of land (in yellow) are already linked, to the northeast. To accomplish that, the Syrian Kurds, helped by the PKK, defeated The Islamic State group in Kobani and environs. To get to the third patch of land, they need to get to Afryn. Yet on the way (in blue) there is a collection of Turkmen villages north of Aleppo.

The strategic importance of these Turkmen lands cannot be emphasized enough. It’s exactly in this area, reaching as much as 35 km inland, that Ankara wants to install its so-called “safe zone,” which will be in fact a no-fly zone, in Syrian territory, ostensibly to house Syrian refugees, and with everything paid by the EU, which has already unblocked 3 billion euros, starting Jan. 1, via the European Commission (EC).

The now insurmountable obstacle for Turkey to get its no-fly zone is, predictably, Russia.

Using the Turkmen


Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List

Posted: 11/09/2014 11:25 am EST Updated: 11/29/2015 11:59 pm EST

By David L. Phillips



Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu strongly deny complicity with ISIS. Erdogan visited the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2014. He criticized “smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us.” Erdogan decried, “A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation, “complaining that “Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations.” Erdogan posited: “My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources.”

Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media, assessing the credibility of allegations. This report draws on a variety of international sources — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, BBC, Sky News, as well as Turkish sources, CNN Turk, Hurriyet Daily News, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, and Radikal among others.

AllegationsTurkey Provides Military Equipment to ISIS• An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”

• Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a statement from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor on October 14, 2014 maintaining that Turkey supplied weapons to terror groups. He also produced interview transcripts from truck drivers who delivered weapons to the groups. According to Kiliçdaroglu, the Turkish government claims the trucks were for humanitarian aid to the Turkmen, but the Turkmen said no humanitarian aid was delivered.

• According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria. This happened many times. When the trucks were stopped, MIT agents tried to keep the inspectors from looking inside the crates. The inspectors found rockets, arms, and ammunitions.

• Cumhuriyet reports that Fuat Avni, a preeminent Twitter user who reported on the December 17th corruption probe, that audio tapes confirm that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on October 12, 2014. On the tapes, Erdogan pressured the Turkish Armed Forces to go to war with Syria. Erdogan demanded that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), come up with a justification for attacking Syria.

• Hakan Fidan told Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasar Guler, a senior defense official, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a senior foreign affairs official: “If need be, I’ll send 4 men into Syria. I’ll formulate a reason to go to war by shooting 8 rockets into Turkey; I’ll have them attack the Tomb of Suleiman Shah.”

• Documents surfaced on September 19th, 2014 showing that the Saudi Emir Bender Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey. A flight leaving Germany dropped off arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey, which was then split into three containers, two of which were given to ISIS and one to Gaza.

Turkey Provided Transport and Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters• According to Radikal on June 13, 2014, Interior Minister Muammar Guler signed a directive: “According to our regional gains, we will help al-Nusra militants against the branch of PKK terrorist organization, the PYD, within our borders…Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahideen crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay…MIT and the Religious Affairs Directorate will coordinate the placement of fighters in public accommodations.”

• The Daily Mail reported on August 25, 2014 that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey, but Turkey did not try to stop them. This article describes how foreign militants, especially from the UK, go to Syria and Iraq through the Turkish border. They call the border the “Gateway to Jihad.” Turkish army soldiers either turn a blind eye and let them pass, or the jihadists pay the border guards as little as $10 to facilitate their crossing.

• Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government has stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkey border into Syria to join ISIS.

• The BBC interviewed villagers, who claim that buses travel at night, carrying jihadists to fight Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, not the Syrian Armed Forces.

• A senior Egyptian official indicated on October 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS.

Turkey Provided Training to ISIS Fighters


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SU-24 bomber

Turkey ‘Ambushed’ Russian Su-24 to Protect Its ‘Proxies’ in Syria

© Sputnik
Middle East
21:30 26.11.2015(updated 14:06 27.11.2015)

The shooting down of the Russian Su-24 bomber was a planned attack and a trap set by the Turkish Air Force, Dr. Mark Galeotti, the Professor of Global Affairs at the New York University, told Radio Sputnik.

“What it in fact seems to be, as many are saying, it was more of an ambush than anything else,” Galeotti told Sputnik.

By downing the Russian plane, Turkey had two things in mind. First of all, Ankara wants to assert itself as a powerful regional actor, especially considering Russia’s active participation in Syria. The Turkish government thought that by shooting down its plane Turkey would make Russia take Ankara more seriously in the future.

Secondly, the Turkish government wanted to protect its allies, whom Russia’s currently bombing in Syria, Galeotti, an expert in Russo-Turkish relations, explained.

Turkey intends to protect ISIL, as it has direct financial interests involved in the delivery of oil extracted from ISIL-controlled territories. Various estimates place oil revenues generated by ISIL somewhere between $40 and $50 million a month. A day prior to the downing of the Su-24, Russian airstrikes destroyed over 1,000 semi-truck tankers carrying crude oil to ISIL refineries, a large oil storage facility and an oil refinery in Syria.


Syrian Turkmen commander who ‘killed’ Russian pilot turns out to be Turkish ultranationalist

© RT / DHA
A Syrian rebel commander who boasted of killing a Russian pilot after Turkey downed Russian jet on Tuesday appeared to be Turkish ultranationalist and a son of former mayor in one of Turkish provinces.

Alparslan Celik, deputy commander of a Syrian Turkmen brigade turned out to be the son of a mayor of a Keban municipality in Turkey’s Elazig province.

He also turned out to be the member of The Grey Wolves ultranationalist group, members of which have carried out scores of political murders since 1970s.


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Did Washington just tell Erdogan to ‘man up’?

 By Finian Cunningham
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Umit Bektas
In the space of a few hours, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went from running scared to defiant belligerence over the shooting down of the Russian fighter jet. It would appear that someone had a stiff word in his ear.

Tough-talking Turkish President? No. More like somebody’s message boy.

When the news first broke on Tuesday that Turkish F-16s had downed a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Syrian border, the Erdogan government in Ankara immediately called for an emergency NATO summit.

Ankara rushed to explain that it was the party that had incurred an act of aggression from Russia. Erdogan was running scared because the facts were such that it was the Turks who had actually carried out an act of aggression against Russia, not the other way around.

And they knew it.

Suspiciously, Ankara did not contact Moscow about the incident, which would have seemed a normal thing to do in the aftermath of a serious incident in which a Russian aircrew was forced to eject and one of the pilots was subsequently killed.

Recall that Turkey claimed that it did not know the identity of the Russian warplane as it allegedly approached Turkish airspace. So if, as it turned out, the Turks shot down a Russian jet in a rapid encounter of uncertainty about its “national security”, then why didn’t Ankara make subsequent attempts to resolve the matter with the Russians as an urgent matter when the circumstances soon became clear? That would have been the expected behavior if the incident was simply an unfortunate, unforeseen confrontation.

Again, the inference is that Ankara knew full well that it was committing a sinister deed.


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Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.



847 shotguns seized in Italy en route from Turkey to Belgium

© Pupia Crime
A large cargo of shotguns without transportation permits has been seized by the Italian police at the Port of Trieste. The 847 Turkish-made Winchester shotguns worth about €500,000 were on their way to Belgium.

The weapons were declared along with other cargoes destined for Germany and the Netherlands on a Dutch-registered truck driven by a Turkish citizen. Gun shipments from Turkey are nothing new in Trieste, but this time the shipment was missing a key document: authorization for transportation in the EU.

The shipment consisted of 847 pump-action Winchester shotguns: 781 SXP 12-51 and 66 SXP 12-47 models, La Stampa reports.

The Haddad I departed from the Turkish port of Iskenderun and was heading to the Libyan city of Misrata. After intelligence services informed the Greek coastal guards about the ship’s cargo of guns, the vessel was intercepted south of Crete by the Open Sea Coast Patrol.


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Putin: US knew the flight plan of the Russian jet


Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks during a press conference following talks with French President Francois Hollande (L) in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, 26 November 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he expected from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to simply apologise, but the latest ruled out such a move

President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the Su-24 downed by the Turkish Air Force on the Syrian border. The US leads the anti-Daesh coalition, in which Turkey is member.

“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin. ”Why did we give this information to the Americans if they did not pass it along to the rest of the coalition?”

Moreover, Putin dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it didn’t know the nationality of the plane when the Turkish Air Force hit it. “They (Russian military jets) have identification signs and these are well visible,” Putin said and added. “If it was an American aircraft, would they have struck an American?…What we hear instead is they have nothing to apologize for.”


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India Opines

Are Bill and Melinda Gates Guilty of Committing Fraud in India?

Bill And Melinda Gates Are Bill and Melinda Gates Guilty of Committing Fraud in India?

The  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation connected to the HPV vaccine and its trials in India? The connection is that  in 2002, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) acquired shares in Merck and the charge is that the BMGF along with an organisation called GAVI (a vaccine alliance funded by BMGF) are pushing a vaccine agenda in India and other places in the world in collusion with health authorities who are recommending the use of vaccines without proper testing; actions amounting to vaccine fraud.

It has long been an ugly truth that Indian lives are cheaper compared with their western counterparts. Poorer sections of Indian communities are routinely used as human guinea pigs, subject to testing by pharmaceutical companies

– testing that could be illegal or expensive or impossible in western nations; testing that is most often done without informed consent and at times by employing coercion, concealment and other underhand tactics.


Bill Gates GAVI Are Bill and Melinda Gates Guilty of Committing Fraud in India?

The charge made by community health activists against BMGF and GAVI (which has members from pharma companies on its board) is that they are working with WHO and UNICEF to promote vaccine use among the poorer countries; in populations that typically wouldn’t be able to afford them. Some commentators are referring to the incident as “fraud” perpetrated on third world where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their “vaccine empire are under fire”.

The perception is that vaccine empires in the western world are crumbling, and Big Pharma is looking to consolidate its position by plugging expensive and often unnecessary drugs in poorer nations in collusion with local authorities.

gardasil Are Bill and Melinda Gates Guilty of Committing Fraud in India?

One in a line of questionable activities by international pharmaceutical companies in India refers to the HPV vaccine made by American company Merck, which happens to be one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The United States government earns royalty on the sale of Merck’s vaccine and there is a strong perception that any negative news report against this vaccine is not only discouraged but actively squashed. In the US, well known news broadcaster Katie Couric was made to apologise for her interview with a mother whose daughter died after receiving the Gardasil vaccine. Later the assistant Surgeon General appeared on her show to assure everyone the vaccine was safe.


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Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market

November 21, 2015  

By Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman



Scientists are trained to express themselves rationally. They avoid personal attacks when they disagree. But some scientific arguments become so polarized that tempers fray. There may even be shouting.

Such is the current state of affairs between two camps of scientists: health effects researchers and regulatory toxicologists. Both groups study the effects of chemical exposures in humans. Both groups have publicly used terms like “irrelevant,” “arbitrary,” “unfounded” and “contrary to all accumulated physiological understanding” to describe the other’s work. Privately, the language becomes even harsher, with phrases such as “a pseudoscience,” “a religion” and “rigged.”

The rift centers around the best way to measure the health effects of chemical exposures. The regulatory toxicologists typically rely on computer simulations called “physiologically based pharmacokinetic” (PBPK) modeling. The health effects researchers—endocrinologists, developmental biologists and epidemiologists, among others—draw their conclusions from direct observations of how chemicals actually affect living things.

The debate may sound arcane, but the outcome could directly affect your health. It will shape how government agencies regulate chemicals for decades to come: how toxic waste sites are cleaned up, how pesticides are regulated, how workers are protected from toxic exposure and what chemicals are permitted in household items. Those decisions will profoundly affect public health: the rates at which we suffer cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and neurological problems like attention disorders and lowered IQ.

The link from certain chemicals to these health effects is real. In a paper published earlier this year, a group of leading endocrinologists concluded with 99 percent certainty that environmental exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals causes health problems. They estimate that this costs the European Union healthcare system about $175 billion a year.

Closer to home, Americans are routinely sickened by toxic chemicals whose health effects have been long known. To cite one infamous example, people exposed to the known carcinogen formaldehyde in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina suffered headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing. Dozens of cancer cases were later reported. Then there are workplace exposures, which federal government estimates link to as many as 20,000 cancer deaths a year and hundreds of thousands of illnesses.

“We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals, and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern,” wrote the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics in a statement released on October 1.

Yet chemical regulation in the United States has proceeded at a glacial pace. And corporate profit is at the heart of the story.

That the chemical industry exerts political influence is well documented. What our investigation reveals is that, 30 years ago, corporate interests began to control not just the political process but the science itself. Industry not only funds research to cast doubt on known environmental health hazards; it has also shaped an entire field of science—regulatory toxicology—to downplay the risk of toxic chemicals.

Our investigation traces this web of influence to a group of scientists working for the Department of Defense (DOD) in the 1970s and 1980s—the pioneers of PBPK modeling. It quickly became clear that this type of modeling could be manipulated to minimize the appearance of chemical risk. PBPK methodology has subsequently been advanced by at least two generations of researchers—including many from the original DOD group—who move between industry, government agencies and industry-backed research groups, often with little or no transparency.

The result is that chemicals known to be harmful to human health remain largely unregulated in the United States—often with deadly results. For chemicals whose hazards are just now being recognized, such as the common plastics ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) and other , this lack of regulation is likely to continue unless the federal chemical review process becomes more transparent and relies less heavily on PBPK modeling.

Here we lay out the players, the dueling paradigms and the high-stakes health consequences of getting it wrong.

The dawn of PBPK simulation

The 1970s and 1980s saw a blizzard of environmental regulation. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act, along with the laws that established Superfund and Community Right-to-Know Programs, for the first time required companies— and military bases—using and producing chemicals to account for their environmental and health impacts. This meant greater demand for chemical risk assessments as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to establish safety standards for workplace exposures and environmental cleanups.

In the 1980s, the now-defunct Toxic Hazards Research Unit at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was investigating the toxicity and health effects of chemicals used by the military. Of particular concern to the DOD were the many compounds used by the military to build, service and maintain aircraft, vehicles and other machinery: fuels and fuel additives, solvents, coatings and adhesives. The military is responsible for about 900 of the approximately 1,300 currently listed Superfund sites, many of which have been contaminated by these chemicals for decades.

In the mid-1980s, scientists at the Wright-Patterson Toxic Hazards Research Unit began using PBPK simulations to track how chemicals move through the body. Known as in silico (in computers) models, these are an alternative to testing chemicals in vivo (in live animals) or in vitro (in a test tube). They allow scientists to estimate what concentrations of a chemical (or its breakdown products) end up in a particular organ or type of tissue, and how long they take to exit the body. The information can then be correlated with experimental data to set exposure limits—or not.

PBPK simulations made testing faster and cheaper, something attractive to both industry and regulators. But the PBPK model has drawbacks. “It tells you nothing about effects,” says Linda Birnbaum, director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Toxicology Program (NTP). Observational studies and laboratory experiments, on the other hand, are designed to discover how a chemical affects biological processes.

Even regulatory toxicologists who support PBPK acknowledge its limitations: “[PBPK models] are always going to be limited by the quality of the data that go into them,” says toxicologist James Lamb, who worked for the NTP and EPA in the 1980s and is now principal scientist at the consulting firm Exponent.

The late health effects researcher Louis Guillette, a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina famous for studies on DDT’s hormonedisrupting effects in Florida alligators, put it more bluntly: “PBPK? My immediate response: Junk in, junk out. The take-home is that most of the models [are] only as good as your understanding of the complexity of the system.”

Many biologists say PBPK-based risk assessments begin with assumptions that are too narrow, and thus often fail to fully capture how a chemical exposure can affect health. For example, a series of PBPK studies and reviews by toxicologist Justin Teeguarden of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and his colleagues suggested that BPA breaks down into less harmful compounds and exits the body so rapidly that it is essentially harmless. Their research began with certain assumptions: that BPA only mimics estrogen weakly, that it affects only the body’s estrogen system, and that 90 percent of BPA exposure is through digestion of food and beverages. However, health effects research has shown that BPA mimics estrogen closely, can affect the body’s androgen and thyroid hormone systems, and can enter the body via pathways like the skin and the tissues of the mouth. When PBPK models fail to include this evidence, they tend to underestimate risk.

Because of its reliance on whatever data are included, PBPK modeling can be deliberately manipulated to produce desired outcomes. Or, as University of Notre Dame biologist Kristin Shrader-Frechette, who specializes in human health risk assessment, says: “Models can offer a means of avoiding the conclusions derived from actual experiments.” In other words, PBPK models can be customized to provide results that work to industry’s advantage.

That’s not to say PBPK itself is to blame. “Let’s not throw the baby out completely with the bathwater,” says New York University associate professor of environmental medicine and health policy Leo Trasande. “However, when you have biology telling you there are basic flaws in the model, that’s a compelling reason that it’s time for a paradigm shift.”

A handy tool for industry

That PBPK studies could be used to make chemicals appear safer was as clear in the 1980s as it is now. In a 1988 paper touting the new technique, Wright-Patterson scientists explained how their modeling had prompted the EPA to stop its regulation process for a chemical of great concern to the military: methylene chloride.

Methylene chloride is widely used as a solvent and as an ingredient in making plastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other industrial products. By the 1990s, the U.S. military would be the country’s second greatest user. Methylene chloride was—and remains—regulated under the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant because of its carcinogenic and neurotoxic effects.

Between 1985 and 1986, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimated that about 1 million workers a year were exposed to methylene chloride, and the EPA classified the compound as a “probable human carcinogen.” A number of unions, including United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers, also petitioned OSHA to limit on-the-job exposure to methylene chloride.

In 1986, OSHA began the process of setting occupational exposure limits. Stakeholders were invited to submit public comments.

Among the materials submitted was a PBPK study by Melvin Andersen, Harvey Clewell—both then working at Wright-Patterson—and several other scientists, including two employed by methylene chloride product manufacturer Dow Chemical. Published in 1987, this study concluded, “Conventional risk analyses greatly overestimate the risk in humans exposed to low concentrations [of methylene chloride].”

Later that year, the EPA revised its previous health assessment of methylene chloride, citing the Wright-Patterson study to conclude that the chemical was nine times less risky than previously estimated. The EPA “has halted its rulemaking on methylene chloride [based on our studies],” wrote Wright-Patterson scientists in 1988.

OSHA, too, considered the Wright-Patterson study in its methylene chloride assessment—and its rulemaking dragged on another 10 years before the agency finally limited exposure to the chemical.

The usefulness of PBPK modeling to industry did not escape the Wright-Patterson researchers. “The potential impact,” wrote Andersen, Clewell and their colleagues in 1988, “is far reaching and not limited to methylene chloride.” Using PBPK models to set exposure limits could help avoid setting “excessively conservative”—i.e., protective— limits that could lead to “unnecessary expensive controls” and place “constraints on important industrial processes.” In other words, PBPK models could be used to set less-stringent environmental and health standards, and save industry money.

So far, they’ve been proven right. The work done at Wright-Patterson set the stage for the next 30-plus years. Results obtained using PBPK modeling—especially in industry-funded research, often conducted by former Wright-Patterson scientists—have downplayed the risk and delayed the regulation of numerous widely used and commercially lucrative chemicals. These include formaldehyde, styrene, tricholorethylene, BPA and the pesticide chlorpyrifos. For many such chemicals, PBPK studies contradict what actual biological experiments conclude. Regulators often defer to the PBPK studies anyway.

A web of influence

At the time that PBPK modelling was being developed, the chemical industry was struggling with its public image. The Bhopal, India, disaster—the methyl isocyanate release that killed and injured thousands—happened in 1984. The following year, a toxic gas release at a West Virginia Union Carbide plant sent about 135 people to hospitals.

In response to these incidents, new federal regulations required companies to account for the storage, use and release of hazardous chemicals. The minutes from a May 1988 Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) meeting show industry was feeling the pressure. Noting the federal scrutiny and the growing testing requirements, the CMA recommended that industry help “develop exposure data” and “explore innovative ways to limit required testing to that which is needed.”

Industry had already begun to do this by founding a number of research institutes such as the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT), a nonprofit toxicology research institute (renamed the Hamner Institutes in an act of linguistic detoxification in 2007). This period also saw the rise of for-profit consulting firms like Environ (1982), Gradient (1985), ChemRisk (1985) and K.S. Crump and Company (1986), with which industry would collaborate advantageously in the following decades.

“Our goal was to do the science that would help the EPA and other regulatory bodies make the policies,” explained William Greenlee, Hamner president and CEO, in an interview for a business website. Indeed, over the past 30 years, Hamner and these consultancies have produced hundreds of PBPK studies, often with the support of chemical companies or trade groups. Overwhelmingly, these studies downplay or cast doubt on chemicals’ health effects—and delay regulation.

“I have seen how scientists from the Hamner Institutes can present information in a way that carefully shapes or controls a narrative,” says Laura Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She explains that Hamner scientists often use narrow time windows or present data in a limited context, rejecting information that does not conform to their models. “These are the kinds of tactics used to manufacture doubt,” she says.

A close look at the authors of studies produced by these industry-linked research groups reveals a web of influence traceable to Wright-Patterson (see chart on following page). At least 10 researchers employed at or contracted by Wright-Patterson in the 1980s went on to careers in toxicology at CIIT/Hamner, for-profit consulting firms or the EPA. About half have held senior positions at Hamner, including the co-authors of many of the early Wright-Patterson PBPK studies: Melvin Anderson, now a chief scientific officer at Hamner, and Harvey Clewell, now a senior investigator at Hamner and principal scientist at the consulting firm ENVIRON. “I’m probably given credit as the person who brought PBPK into toxicology and risk assessment,” Andersen told In These Times.

A revolving door between these industry-affiliated groups and federal regulators was also set in motion. More than a dozen researchers have moved from the EPA to these for-profit consultancies; a similar number have gone in the other direction, ending up at the EPA or other federal agencies.

Further blurring the public-private line, CIIT/Hamner has received millions of dollars in both industry and taxpayer money. The group stated on its website in 2007 that $18 million of its $21.5 million annual operating budget came from the “chemical and pharmaceutical industry.” Information about its corporate funders is no longer detailed there, but Hamner has previously listed as clients and supporters the American Chemistry Council (formerly the CMA, and one of the most powerful lobbyists against chemical regulation), American Petroleum Institute, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow, ExxonMobil, Chevron and the Formaldehyde Council. At the same time, over the past 30 years, CIIT/Hamner has received nearly $160 million in grants and contracts from the EPA, DOD and Department of Health and Human Services. In sum, since the 1980s, these federal agencies have awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to industry-affiliated research institutes like Hamner.

But the federal reliance on industry-linked researchers extends further. Since 2000, the EPA has signed a number of cooperative research agreements with the ACC and CIIT/ Hamner. All involve chemical toxicity research that includes PBPK modeling. And in 2014, Hamner outlined additional research it will be conducting for the EPA’s next generation of chemical testing—the ToxCast and Tox21 programs. Over the past five years, Hamner has received funding for this same research from the ACC and Dow.

Meanwhile, the EPA regularly contracts with for-profit consultancies to perform risk assessments, assemble peer review panels and select the scientific literature used in chemical evaluations. This gives these private organizations considerable sway in the decision-making process, often with little transparency about ties to chemical manufacturers. The upshot: Experts selected to oversee chemical regulation often overrepresent the industry perspective.

These cozy relationships have not gone unnoticed; the EPA has been called to task by both its own Office of Inspector General and by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “These arrangements have raised concerns that ACC or its members could potentially influence, or appear to influence, the scientific results that may be used to make future regulatory decisions,” wrote the GAO in a 2005 report.

Asked for comment by In These Times, the EPA said these arrangements do not present conflicts of interest.

Decades of deadly delay

PBPK studies have stalled the regulation of numerous chemicals. In each case, narrowly focused models developed by industry-supported research concluded that risks were lower than previously estimated or were not of concern at likely exposure levels.

Take, for example, methylene chloride, the subject of the 1987 paper Wright-Patterson scientists bragged had halted the EPA’s regulatory process. Despite the chemical being identified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the U.N. International Agency for Research on Cancer, a “reasonably anticipated” human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and an “occupational carcinogen” by OSHA, the EPA has yet to limit its use. EPA researchers noted this year that the 1987 PBPK model by the Wright-Patterson scientists remains the basis for the agency’s risk assessment.

Today, methylene chloride remains in use—to produce electronics, pesticides, plastics and synthetic fabrics, and in paint and varnish strippers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, OSHA and NIOSH have issued health warnings, and the FDA bars methylene chloride from cosmetics— but no U.S. agency has totally banned the chemical. The EPA estimates that some 230,000 workers are exposed directly each year. According to OSHA, between 2000 and 2012, at least 14 people died in the United States of asphyxiation or heart failure after using methylene chloride-containing products to refinish bathtubs. The Center for Public Integrity reports that methylene chloride exposure prompted more than 2,700 calls to U.S. poison control centers between 2008 and 2013.

Another telling example of industry-funded PBPK studies’ influence is formaldehyde. This chemical remains largely unrestricted in the United States, despite being a well-recognized respiratory and neurological toxicant linked to nasal cancer and leukemia, as well as to allergic reactions and skin irritation. The EPA’s toxicological review of formaldehyde, begun in 1990, remains incomplete, in no small part because of delays prompted by the introduction of studies—including PBPK models conducted by CIIT/Hamner—questioning its link to leukemia.

If that link is considered weak or uncertain, that means formaldehyde—or the companies that employ the sickened workers—won’t be held responsible for the disease. The chemical industry is well aware that “more people have leukemia … than have nasal tumors,” says recently retired NIEHS toxicologist James Huff.

Some of this CIIT/Hamner research was conducted between 2000 and 2005 with funding from an $18,750,000 EPA grant. In 2010, Hamner received $5 million from Dow, a formaldehydeproduct manufacturer, for toxicity testing, including PBPK modeling. The ACC, which opposes formaldehyde restriction, also supported this research.

Consequently, apart from a few state regulations and a pending EPA proposal to limit formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products like plywood, companies can still use the chemical—as in the FEMA trailers.

Cosmetics and personal-care products can also be sources of formaldehyde exposure. This made headlines in 2011 after hair salon workers using a smoothing product called Brazilian Blowout reported nausea, sore throats, rashes, chronic sinus infections, asthma-like symptoms, bloody noses, dizziness and other neurological effects. “You can’t see it … but you feel it in your eyes and it gives you a high,” salon owner and hair stylist Cortney Tanner tells In These Times. “They don’t teach this stuff in beauty school,” she says, and no one warns stylists about these products or even suggests using a ventilator.

OSHA has issued a hazard alert for these products and the FDA has issued multiple warnings, most recently in September, but regulations prevent federal agencies from pulling the products from store shelves. So, for formaldehyde, as in the case of the paint strippers containing methylene chloride, exposures continue.

BPA rings alarm bells

The chemical currently at the center of the most heated debates about consumer exposure is BPA. The building block of polycarbonate plastics, BPA is used in countless products, including the resins that line food cans and coat the thermal receipt paper at cash registers and ATMs. While scientific evidence of adverse health effects from environmentally typical levels of BPA mounts, and many manufacturers and retailers have responded to public concern by changing their products, federal regulatory authorities still resist restricting the chemical’s use.

BPA does not produce immediate, acute effects, like those experienced by salon workers exposed to formaldehyde or machinists working with methylene chloride. But in laboratory tests on animals, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. Structurally similar to natural hormones, endocrine disruptors can interfere with normal cellular processes and trigger abnormal biochemical responses. These can prompt numerous health problems, including cancer, infertility, and metabolic and neurological disorders. BPA has also been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

To promote the idea that BPA is safe, the chemical industry routinely lobbies policymakers and “educates” consumers. What has not been widely discussed, however, is how industry has backed PBPK studies that marginalized research showing risks from environmentally typical levels of BPA. Many of these doubt-inducing studies have been conducted by researchers whose careers can be linked to the PBPK work done at Wright-Patterson. In published critiques, health effects researchers—among them Gail Prins and Wade Welshons—have detailed the many ways in which these PBPK models fail to accurately reflect BPA exposure.

PBPK and endocrine disruption

Over the past several decades, our evolving understanding of our bodies’ responses to chemicals has challenged previous toxicological assumptions— including those that are fed into PBPK models. This is particularly true of endocrine disruptors.

Cause-and-effect relationships between endocrine disruptors and health problems can be hard to pinpoint. We now know that early—even prenatal— exposure to endocrine disruptors can set the stage for adult disease. In addition, a pregnant woman’s exposures may affect not only her children but also her grandchildren. These transgenerational effects have been documented in animal experiments. The classic human evidence came from victims of DES, a drug prescribed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to prevent miscarriages. Daughters of women who took the endocrine disruptor developed reproductive cancers, and preliminary research suggests their daughters may be at greater risk for cancer and other reproductive problems.

“The transgenerational work raises an incredible specter,” says Andrea Gore, who holds the Vacek Chair in Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and edits the influential journal Endocrinology. “It’s not just what you’re exposed to now, it’s what your ancestors were exposed to.”

Complicating PBPK modeling further, hormone-mimicking chemicals, just like hormones, can have biological effects at concentrations as low as parts per trillion. In addition, environmental exposures most often occur as mixtures, rather than in isolation. And each individual may respond differently.

“PBPK doesn’t come close” to capturing the reality of endocrine disruption, the late developmental biologist Louis Guillette told In These Times, in part because modelers are “still asking questions about one chemical exposure with one route of exposure.” Even for health effects researchers, understanding of mixtures’ effects is in its infancy.

The debate over how endocrine disruption can be represented in PBPK models has intensified the unease between regulatory toxicologists and health effects researchers. That tension is particularly well-illustrated by a recent series of events that also reveal how some journal editors privilege the industry’s point of view.

A life-and-death debate

In February 2012 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report intended to inform regulation worldwide. The authors were an international group of health effects researchers with long experience studying endocrine disruption.

“There is an increasing burden of disease across the globe in which [endocrine disruptors] are likely playing an important role, and future generations may also be affected,” said the report. These diseases, it continued, are being seen in humans and wildlife, and include male and female reproductive disorders, changes in the numbers of male and female babies born, thyroid and adrenal gland disorders, hormone-related cancers and neurodevelopmental diseases.

The backlash from toxicologists was immediate. Over the next few months—as the EU prepared to begin its regulatory decision-making on endocrine disruptors—the editors of 14 toxicology journals each published an identical commentary harshly criticizing the WHO/UNEP conclusions.

The commentary included a letter from more than 70 toxicologists urging the EU not to adopt the endocrine disruption framework. The letter said that the WHO/UNEP report could not be allowed to inform policy because its science is “contrary to all accumulated physiological understanding.”

This commentary was followed by further attacks. One critique, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology, was funded and vetted by the ACC.

These commentaries infuriated health effects researchers. Twenty endocrine journal editors, 28 associate editors and 56 other scientists—including several WHO/UNEP report authors—signed a statement in Endocrinology, saying in part:

The dismissive approach to endocrine disruption science put forth … is unfounded, as it is [not] based on the fundamental principles of how the endocrine system works and how chemicals can interfere with its normal function.

Endocrinology editor Andrea Gore tells In These Times that she and other health effects researchers don’t think the scientifically demonstrated dangers of endocrine disruptors are subject to debate. “There are fundamental differences between regulatory toxicologists and what I refer to as ‘people who understand the endocrine science.’ ”

The outcome of this debate and the structure of future regulatory toxicity testing in the United States and Europe is not yet clear. The EPA appears to be attempting to incorporate endocrine disruption into PBPK models, but many scientists are skeptical the process will produce reliable results, given the models’ limitations and the complexity of endocrine effects.

From science to activism

Although couched in complex language, these arguments are not academic, but have profound implications for public health. Disorders and diseases, increasingly linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors— including metabolic, reproductive, developmental and neurological problems—are widespread and increasing. About 20 percent of U.S. adults show at least three of the five indicators of metabolic syndrome: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Neurological problems, including behavioral and learning disabilities in children as well as Parkinson’s disease, are increasing rapidly. Fertility rates in both men and women are declining. Globally, the average sperm count has dropped 50 percent in the last 50 years.

Scientists typically shy away from activism, but many now believe it’s what’s needed to punch through the machinations and inertia regarding chemical regulation. Shanna Swan, Mount Sinai professor of preventive medicine, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine, notes that some of the biggest reductions in chemical exposures have happened in response to consumer pressure on both industry and policymakers. Or, as the University of California’s Bruce Blumberg says, “I think we need to take the fight to the people.”

The Endocrine Society stressed the urgency of addressing these public health impacts in a statement released September 28. Not surprisingly, industry disagreed, calling this science “unsupported” and “still-unproven.”

Meanwhile, PBPK studies continue to succeed in sowing doubt about adverse health effects of endocrine disorders. Their extremely narrow focus leads to narrow conclusions that often result in calls for more research before regulation. In regulatory decisions, “the assumption is that if we don’t know something, it won’t hurt us,” says University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor of biology R. Thomas Zoeller. In other words, the burden of proof remains on health effects researchers to prove harm, not on industry to prove safety—and proving harm is difficult, especially when other scientists are seeding doubt.

But the clock is ticking. As Washington State University geneticist Pat Hunt told In These Times, “If we wait [to make regulatory decisions] for ‘proof’ in the form of compelling human data, it may be too late for us as a species.”

This investigation was supported by the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting and published originally in In These Times.

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Fort Russ

Cassad News
November 26, 2015Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
With additional photos supplied by Fort Russ

Last night (November 25) the first photos and video came up of the destroyed Turkish convoy that arrived in the militant-controlled city of Azaz. First, some photos:

Well, all in the same spirit, some information about what kind of city is this, and why is this news you need to focus on. The town Azaz is located in the north of Syria, almost on the border with Turkey. The city is a hub, where Turkish aid (weapons, ammunition, drugs, rations etc.) are dumped off. Then with all his “help” they begin to disperse it to other cities under militant control, as well as camps and fortified places.
Map. Azaz is circled in red:
As you can see, it’s about five km from the Turkish border. Speaking of buffer zones, Turkey was expecting to make this city an absolute springboard, out of reach of Syrian army strikes. It did not happen. But until today, due to the remoteness of the Syrian army from it, as well as a number of geopolitical reasons, attacks were not mounted on this city.

Anti-Erdogan protesters in Germany. File photo.

Ordinary Turks React to Su-24 Shoot Down: ‘A Lot of Us Are on Your Side’



19:36 25.11.2015(updated 20:06 25.11.20


As expected, the F-16 attack on a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria has become a hot topic for discussion on Turkish social media. Taking a peak at both the Turkish and English-language corners of the Twitterverse, Sputnik discovered that not only are many Turks upset over the incident, some are downright outraged over their government’s actions.

With the Turkish Air Force attack on the Russian plane in Syria instantly provoking a swelling response of debate and condolences from both Russian and foreign social media users, Turkish social media users naturally joined in. But in a surprising twist, many offered apologies to their northern neighbor, emphasizing that it is the Recep Erdogan government, not the Turkish people, who should be blamed for the attack.

Some users appealed directly to their Russian friends, using the Russian-language hashtag #StabInTheBack.


As a Turk I apologize for Turkish gov. action today for shooting down the ‘s fighter jet, a lot of Turks on your side

ISIL supporters are our common enemies. Especially Turkish gov’t. Sorry for your lost. Loves from Turkey.

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Russian News Agency

Moscow warns against US plans to continue training Ukrainian troopers

November 26, 21:43 UTC+3

The United States is starting a second phase of training of the Ukrainian army and is planning to train and equip six army battalions, including one special operations unit
© Nikolay Lazarenko/Ukrainian president’s press service/TASS

MOSCOW, November 26 /TASS/. The United States has launched a new phase of training of Ukrainian servicemen, a fact, which may have negative consequences for the future of the Donbas truce, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

She recalled that 300 US instructors from the 173rd US airborne brigade had trained three battalions – 780 people – for Ukraine’s National Guard in a period from April to November. “It is noteworthy that the training completed at a time when the situation on the line of contact in Donbas started getting worse and the newly trained people were apparently sent there,” Zakharova said.

“Now the Americans and their NATO colleagues, including the Lithuanians and Canadians, will train a new group of Ukrainian troopers. It is clear that such preparations are unlikely to deescalate tensions and may have a negative impact on the fragile truce in the country’s southeast,” the Russian diplomat stressed.


Read More Here

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Health Impact News

Grandparents Come Forward Reporting CPS Kidnappings in Corrupt Alabama – Parents Gagged by Court


Cartee family before baby was born

The Cartee family together at a visit before the baby was born. (Source: Bring Back Home The 7 Cartee Kids Facebook page)

UPDATE 11/27/2015

Grandparents Come Forward Reporting CPS Kidnappings in Corrupt Alabama – Parents Gagged by Court

by Health Impact News/ Staff

A gag order was placed on Tony and Sabrina Cartee by a Randolph County judge to prevent them from talking to media and the public about the medical kidnapping of their children by Child Protective Services. However, Sabrina’s parents are not under the gag order, and contacted Health Impact News reporting that they can no longer sit back and watch the unjust destruction of their family by Child Protective Services, and one social worker in particular. Tommy and Winnie Crumbley, Sabrina’s parents, had a great deal to say about what is happening in the lives of their grandchildren. They are frightened for their well-being and want them to come back home.

As previously reported, the Cartee children were taken by Child Protective Services, known as DHR (Department of Human Resources) in Alabama, when their then 5 year old son began “eloping” – the term used when autistic children wander away from home. One of his older brothers had already been diagnosed as autistic, and the family suspected that he was as well. They just didn’t have a diagnosis yet.

When their newest baby was born in September 2014, DHR seized the breastfeeding baby from her mother’s arms just 2 days after she was born.

Original story:

Alabama Seizes 7 Children from Family After Child with Autism Wandered to Neighbors

The violations of the family’s moral, legal, and Constitutional rights are numerous and egregious, report the Crumbleys. They say that their grandchildren should never have been taken away from their parents, and they want to see them returned to Sabrina and Tony, “where they belong.”

The Cartee’s 17 year old daughter has also emailed us, saying:

I want to go home, my parents have not done anything wrong and we don’t deserve to be harrassed by Alecia [social worker] anymore!!

Children Were Supposed to Be Returned Home in August

When the children were first taken, Tommy Crumbley reports that Alecia McFarland, the social worker from Randolph County DHR, told his daughter that if it was left up to Alecia, she would never let the Cartee children come home. She gave no reason why, and the Crumbleys don’t understand her apparent hostility toward their family.

The Crumbleys told us that the Randolph County judge ruled in June that all of the children were to be returned home by the time school started in August. At the time, the 7 children were living in 4 separate places, some with relatives and some in foster homes. Even though DHR seized all the children at the same time (except the baby, who wasn’t yet born), they wanted to “transition” the children home, a few at a time. Allegedly, the social workers thought it would be “overwhelming” for all of the children to come home at once.

Sabrina baby

The Cartees’ newborn was taken days after birth. She just turned a year old. She has yet to spend a single night at home. Photos courtesy Crumbley family

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Bosphorus Bridge and Turkish Flag

Russia Suspends Visa-Free Regime With Turkey – Lavrov

© Flickr/ KLMircea


16:44 27.11.2015(updated 19:23 27.11.2015)

Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem that Russia would suspend the visa-free regime with Turkey.

“The Russian government reached a decision to suspend the free-visa regime between Russia and the Turkish Republic. The decision will come into effect on January 1 2016,” Lavrov said at a press-conference after talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.

The Russian minister added that threats coming from Turkey were “not artificial.”

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NATO member Turkey has "temporarily" suspended air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, local media report© Provided by AFP NATO member Turkey has “temporarily” suspended air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, local media report


Turkey ‘temporarily’ suspends Syria air strikes after Russia spat


NATO member Turkey has “temporarily” suspended air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after the downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border sparked a major row with Moscow, local media reported on Friday.Turkish F-16 jets on Tuesday shot down a Russian warplane which Ankara said had breached its air space. Russia on Thursday vowed to carry out broad retaliatory measures against Turkey’s economy.Turkey, a member of a US-led coalition fighting IS, has halted air raids against the group in Syria in order to avoid any further crises, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.


Read More Here



Global Post

Agence France -Presse

Turkey denies suspending Syria air strikes after Russia crisis

Turkey denied Friday it had suspended air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after the downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

Turkish F-16 jets on Tuesday shot down a Russian warplane which Ankara said had breached its air space.

The Hurriyet newspaper said Turkey, a member of a US-led coalition fighting IS, had “temporarily” halted air raids against the group in Syria in order to avoid any further crises.

“Both sides agreed to act cautiously until they re-establish dialogue channels to reduce tensions,” the paper said, citing security sources.

But a government official denied that strikes had been halted.

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