Category: Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands


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TPP Deal Finally Revealed

Details of the long-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership are public at last: it will undermine the safety of our food supply, make medicine more expensive, and give power to the biotech monopoly. Action Alert!

A few weeks ago, the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was finally released after many years of closed-door negotiations between officials from the US and eleven other countries, all of whom border the Pacific Ocean. Its provisions were apparently kept secret from all but the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

Leaked documents during the trade negotiations provided reason to be concerned about the final agreement. And now, a review of the deal’s twenty-nine chapters and five thousand pages proves these early concerns were completely justified. The final package now awaits a vote in Congress, which is likely to take place in Spring 2016.

Here are some of the most pressing concerns for natural health advocates:

It Undermines the Safety of the Food Supply

The TPP contains a number of provisions that threaten current food safety laws.

Generally speaking, passage of the TPP would mean that any US food safety law concerning things like pesticides, food additives, or labeling that is more stringent than “international standards” may be considered an “illegal barrier” to trade, and subject to enforcement. We have learned to beware of such “international standards.” They are largely determined by global special interests.

The TPP expands corporate power in other ways. The deal includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system in which multinational corporations can challenge a host company’s regulations in an international court. ISDS has been a fixture in other trade treaties, including NAFTA (the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), and has been used to challenge countries’ economic policies, anti-smoking efforts, and environmental preservation laws. It is another giveaway to Big Food and other powerful multinational interests—a recurring theme throughout the TPP document.

The trade agreement also undercuts US efforts to inspect food imports. The agreement limits food import inspections at the border “to what is reasonable and necessary,” and if an issue arises, a country must also provide an “opportunity for a review of the decision.” This provision, referred to as the Rapid Response Mechanism, may give exporting countries the right to challenge basic food safety provisions in the US.

It Gives New Patent Protections to Big Pharma

The TPP contains an entire chapter on intellectual property rights, with many provisions relating to pharmaceutical patents. No doubt heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, the trade deal will force signatory countries to accept many of the same patent laws that have kept drug prices so astronomically high in the US.

The deal would extend and broaden certain patent and data protections for the pharmaceutical industry, which Big Pharma can then use to keep prices high and delay competition from generics. It is a wonderful gift to the pharmaceutical industry—but a grave loss to patients in developing countries looking for access to affordable drugs.

The TPP also allows a practice known as “evergreening,” which lets drug companies extend a patent on an old drug when it can be used to treat a new condition—another boon for Big Pharma’s monopoly power.

Even when Big Pharma loses in the TPP, it wins. One of the more controversial topics in TPP negotiations concerned patent and data protections for biologic drugs—medicines derived not from inert chemical compounds but from living organisms. Big Pharma wanted twelve years of exclusivity— they already have this in the US—and US trade officials pushed hard in the negotiations to make this the standard. Instead, the deal grants them at least five years of exclusivity and as much as eight.

It’s Also a Gift to Biotech Seed Companies

Finally, the TPP deal expands biotech’s monopoly over the seed industry. The deal requires all twelve countries to join a number of global intellectual property treaties. One of these treaties is the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV91), which emphasizes the rights of seed companies over farmers. Among other things, UPOV91:

  • Requires intellectual property (IP) protection for all plant species;
  • Provides IP protection for 20 to 25 years; and
  • Stops farmers from exchanging seeds—a common and important practice in many developing nations and indeed throughout human history.

In countries that have not already turned agriculture over to the biotech industry, this could mean a substantial rewrite of regulations meant to protect farmers.

Other treaties that signatory countries are compelled to join make it easier to apply for patents—making it very likely that more plants and seeds will be patented.

If these gifts to industry were not enough, President Obama moved earlier this summer to have the deal “fast-tracked”—that is, Congress will be given a fixed period to review the agreement, after which time legislators must make a yes/no vote without the possibility of amending the deal. Essentially, it’s “take it or leave it.”

We say: leave it. And if the US does reject it, do not worry about losing the reduction of tariffs that is already included. There will just be a second (and, we hope, a better) version to replace it.

Action Alert! Write to your members of Congress and urge them to oppose the TPP deal, which undermines consumers and farmers and extends monopoly rights to major industries. Please send your message immediately.

Take-Action

 

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Monarch Butterfly Populations Are Rising Again After Years In Decline

 

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

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This year, we have published several stories about the dwindling monarch butterfly populations and some of the efforts that have been made to save the species. New reports last week have indicated that these efforts may actually be paying off, because Monarch populations are actually beginning to grow again. In Mexico, one of the main breeding areas for these butterflies, scientists believe that this year there will be at least three times as many of them this year than there was last year.

During a recent conference at the Piedra Herrada research reserve, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that Mexico and the US will be working together to create pesticide-free zones for the butterflies to flourish.

“Mexico, the U.S., and Canada have many species that don’t know our political borders, that cross the borders freely,” she said during a conference at the Piedra Herrada research reserve, adding that the three countries will be working together to rebuild the populations.

She told the audience that they hope to see “225 million monarch butterflies returning right here to Mexico every year. We believe we can get there by working together and it sounds like we may be on our way, we hope.”

“We are very glad to report that calculations done before the landfall of Hurricane Patricia showed the monarch presence could cover up to four hectares, a clear indication that the efforts mentioned by Secretary Jewell are having a positive effect,” Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said.

“We estimate that the butterfly population that arrives at the reserve is as much as three and could reach four times the surface area it occupied last season,” he added.

For years, environmental experts have been warning about the steady decline of monarch butterfly populations. The causes of this decline have been largely speculation until recently, but a new report suggests that Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup Ready could be responsible.

The report was recently released by US environment watchdog Center for Food Safety and sheds new light on what has been happening with monarch butterfly populations.

According to the report, Monsanto’s herbicide has wiped out 99 percent of milkweed in corn and soybean fields in the US Midwest since 1999.

This has resulted in a decline of nearly 90 percent in monarch butterfly populations in the past 20 years.

Without the milkweed, the butterfly’s food supply is entirely cut out because caterpillars eat only milkweed plants, and then milkweed is needed again when it is time for the butterfly to lay their eggs.

Although this is a very serious problem, it is something that the average person can help to solve. Anyone with some space in their lawn or garden can plant milkweed to help reverse the trend that Monsanto started.

Below are some PDF guides which give you step by step instructions on how to plant milkweed and create habitats for monarch butterflies:

  1. Planting Native Milkweed Species
  2. Avoiding Non-Native Species
  3. Create Habitat for Monarchs
  4. Gardening for Monarchs

 

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com. This article (Monarch Butterfly Populations Are Rising Again After Years In Decline) was made available via

True Activist

True Activist Exposing the truth one lie at a time

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Anonymous Takes Down 5,500 ISIS Accounts – 24 Hours After ISIS Called them “Idiots”



The announcement comes less than 24 hours after hacktivist group warned of a coordinated and targeted attack against the Islamic State in the wake of the deadly wave of terror attacks across Paris.

We report that more than 5500 Twitter account of are now !

The hacking collective vowed to “unite humanity,” warning the terrorist group to “expect massive cyber-attacks.”

“Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down,” the masked Anon spokesman in the video said. “You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go.”

ISIS responded to Anonymous’ video on Monday, calling the hacktivist group “idiots” and offering technical guidance to ISIS supporters in an effort to protect against Anonymous cyber-attacks.

In spite of the ISIS insults aimed at Anonymous, judging by the initial results, it seems the Islamic State is impotent to stop the hacktivist group from decimating the terror group’s social media outreach and recruitment efforts.

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ABC News

 

Missouri Enlists Former Protester to Lead University System

The Associated Press
Michael Middleton speaks at a press conference after the University of Missouri Board of Curators named him interim president of the university system, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 at University Hall in Columbia, Mo. Middleton takes over for Tim Wolfe, who abruptly resigned on Monday amid student-led protests over his administration’s handling of racial complaints. (Daniel Brenner/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDITmore +

Healing a campus riven by student protests over race relations and recent online terror threats isn’t just a mandate for interim University of Missouri system president Mike Middleton. It’s also deeply embedded in his history.

The former law professor, whose appointment was announced Thursday, spent 18 years as deputy chancellor on the same Columbia campus from which he graduated in 1971 and later received a law degree. The 68-year-old stepped down in August but continued to work part-time with now-ousted Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on a plan to increase inclusion and diversity at the school.

As an undergraduate, Middleton was a founder of the Legion of Black Collegians, an activist student group that participated in the protests that led to this week’s back-to-back resignations of former system President Tim Wolfe and Loftin. Protest leaders from the group Concerned Student 1950 — named for the year Missouri admitted its first back student — included some of the unmet demands Middleton helped create as a civil rights and anti-war protester.

Middleton said he keeps a list of those original demands on his desk.

His bona fides contributed to a warm welcome and vigorous applause from university administrators and leaders of two black student groups who attended Middleton’s news conference.

 

Read More Here

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Before protests, U. of Missouri saw decades of race tension

A woman passes a tent encampment set up by student protesters following an announcement that… Read more

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — This week’s events at the University of Missouri seemed to unfold rapidly, with little warning. But some students, faculty and alumni say the protests and sudden resignation of the president and chancellor are the culmination of years of racial tension on the state’s flagship campus.

The history of racially charged incidents dates back generations.

When the university denied admission to black law school applicant Lloyd Gaines, the issue led to an influential 1938 Supreme Court decision that helped pave the way for the civil rights movement.

Three decades later, during the unrest of the late 1960s, the Legion of Black Collegians emerged at Mizzou to press for increased minority representation among students, staff and faculty — a goal student protesters say remains unmet.

And the 2011 suicide of black swimmer Sasha Menu Courey after she was allegedly raped by several football players led some to question the campus commitment to investigating sexual assaults.

“Who built this university?” asked student government President Payton Head. “Who was building buildings in 1839” when the school was founded?

“Slavery wasn’t abolished until 1865,” Head said. “But we don’t talk about that history here at the University of Missouri.”

Head’s social media accounts of having racial slurs shouted at him from a passing pickup truck helped spark a renewed protest movement at Missouri that culminated Monday with the resignation of university system President Tim Wolfe. Hours later, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, was forced out.

 

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Timeline of recent events at University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Complaints about the handling of racial and other concerns led to this week’s resignation of University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe and the top administrator of the Columbia campus, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. A timeline of key events:

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AUG. 14: The university announces the elimination of subsidies that help pay health insurance costs for graduate students employed by the school.

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AUG. 26: Graduate students stage a walkout and rally, in part to oppose the health care cut.

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SEPT. 12: Missouri Student Association President Payton Head posts on Facebook that young people in a pickup truck yelled racial slurs at him. It’s the first of many racial incidents on the Columbia campus this fall. Sit-ins, walkouts and other protests follow, fueled by concern that administrators are not addressing the tension.

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SEPT. 16: The university and Planned Parenthood announce the end of their 26-year relationship after state lawmakers start investigating abortions performed at the university clinics.

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SEPT. 24: A “Racism Lives Here” rally takes place on campus.

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SEPT. 29: An estimated 1,000 protesters turn out for a rally in support of Planned Parenthood.

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OCT. 5: A drunk man yells racial slurs at members of the Legion of Black Collegians. Loftin, on Twitter and in a video message, expresses anger at the slurs.

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OCT. 6: Students and faculty stage a sit-in against racism and administrative inaction.

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OCT. 8: The university announces that freshmen will be required to undergo diversity training beginning in January, and the program will eventually be expanded to include all students, faculty and staff.

 

Read More Here

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QUARTZ

October 17, 2015

About a year ago, I was having lunch with a friend when I made a throwaway comment: “Have you seen the rent in San Francisco? If I get a job in the Bay Area, I’ll totally live in a van.”

As I sit in darkness writing this, I’m trying to keep my typing quiet, lest a real inhabitant of the neighborhood I’m parked in should walk by and wonder about the sounds coming from the rusty bus loitering on their block. Yes, you understood that correctly: Today, I work in a multi-million dollar office complex, and I live in a van.

This summer, after receiving a job offer in Silicon Valley, I went on Craigslist and began sifting through housing listings: “verrrrrryyy cheap bedroom😉,” “great deal on rent!” A single room with a shared bathroom? Two thousand per month on the low-end. A small studio apartment, you ask? If your startup wasn’t recently bought for seven figures, forget about it.

I perked up after finding a listing for $1,000 per month. Now this could work. Clicking through to the details section however revealed the offer was for a single bunk in a room with eight people, a set-up referred to as a “hacker house” by an (evil) marketing genius.

Even if I was to spend the huge majority of my salary on rent, I knew I would likely still be in a grim living situation, resenting every penny I handed over that could have gone towards paying back my student loans. And as a software engineer, I’m one of the lucky ones! Imagine those who aren’t lucky enough to be on the tech payroll.

Anyway, three weeks ago I took the equivalent of three months’ rent and bought an old red bus. It’s a 1969 VW camper van with a hole in the floor and a family of spiders that has more of a right to be here than I do (sleeping in your car on public land in California is illegal).


(Katharine Patterson/blog.thinkkappi.com)

But with the help of Ikea and an army of cleaning supplies I was able to get the bus into livable condition.

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At least 100 people have been arrested in Brussels, where hundreds more protested against TTIP, an impending free trade deal between the US and the EU, as the next round of TTIP talks approaches.

Roads were paralyzed in the Belgian capital as a force of more than 600 activists descended on EU headquarters, blocking traffic and the venue of the EU leaders summit in protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

People carried signs and chanted slogans such as “Stop TTIP, stop austerity” and “Sorry for the inconvenience. We’re trying to save the world,” at the march in Brussels on Thursday. “TTIP is death” another sign read. One group of protesters displayed a balloon ‘Trojan Horse’ as an allegory for the deal.

 

 

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Uploaded on Dec 5, 2007

Peak Moment 87: In summer 2006 Judy Alexander embarked on an experiment to see how much food she could grow, and how many neighbors could benefit, from the garden around her house. Check out her homegrown rainwater collection and irrigation system – watering her 60+ edible crops. Meet the bees, the chickens and the worms. And catch her joy in producing so much food for so little effort.

 

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ThinkProgress

Sep 30, 2015 10:01am

CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Anti-pipeline activist Allen Schreiber of Lincoln wears a shirt inscribed with slogans opposing the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally outside the State Capitol in Lincoln, Neb.

 

TransCanada, the Calgary-based company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, has backed out of a lawsuit filed by more than 100 Nebraska landowners, the company announced Tuesday.

The energy company had been trying to gain access to private land along the proposed path of the tar sands pipeline, but had been held up legally by landowners who were opposed to letting the pipeline through their land. Now, instead of trying to gain access to that land through legal means, TransCanada will apply for a permit for Keystone XL with Nebraska’s Public Service Commission.

TransCanada says the decision will bring more certainty to Keystone XL’s route through Nebraska. But it also could cause further delays for the project, as a PSC approval can take a year or longer.

Previously, TransCanada sought to avoid the PSC approval process, choosing instead to give the state’s governor final approval over the project’s application in Nebraska. The law that gave the company the ability to choose was heavily challenged in court, but ultimately upheld.

 

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cannabis_oilBy Jay Syrmopoulos

 In a precedent-setting case, a state judge ruled this month that the mother of a New Jersey teenager with epilepsy, who is also her legal medical caregiver, cannot go to her school to administer her daughter’s cannabis oil.

The oil treatments, which are legal in the state, control the young girl’s seizures and allow her to function normally in school, according to her parents.

In its opinion, the court reasoned that state and federal laws prohibiting drug possession on school grounds takes precedence over the students’ right to use medical cannabis derivatives. This ruling is in spite of the fact that New Jersey has already legalized cannabis for medical use.

This court setback is the third such defeat for the Barbour family, who have vowed to continue appealing. According to legal experts, this case is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Administrative Law Judge, John S. Kennedy ruled in January and again on appeal in August that the Larc School and the Maple Shade school district are stuck in a legal quandary. If allowed to administer the drug, the school nurse would be violating state laws, which ban the use of drugs in school zones and federal law that deems pot possession a crime.

According to a report by NJ.com:

Roger and Lora Barbour have sued to require the nurse at their 16-year-old daughter’s special education school in Bellmawr administer cannabis oil, just like the nurse dispenses prescribed medication to other students. Since April, Genny has attended only half-days of school so she can be home for her lunchtime dose of homemade oil, diluted in a small glass of cola.

In his 11-page ruling, the judge wrote that the family failed to show that their daughter would suffer “irreparable harm” if she were denied her medicine during the school day.

 

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