Japan is asking people to grow sunflowers, said to help decontaminate radioactive soil, in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
By Agence France-PresseFri, Jun 24 2011 at 9:04 AM EST
Campaigners in Japan are asking people to grow sunflowers, said to help decontaminate radioactive soil, in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed March’s massive quake and tsunami.
Volunteers are being asked to grow sunflowers this year, then send the seeds to the stricken area where they will be planted next year to help get rid of radioactive contaminants in the plant’s fallout zone.
The campaign, launched by young entrepreneurs and civil servants in Fukushima prefecture last month, aims to cover large areas in yellow blossoms as a symbol of hope and reconstruction and to lure back tourists
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by The Nation
If Obama Hikes Medicare Eligbility Age, That’ll Be a 12 Percent Benefit Cut
by John Nichols
The word in Washington is that President Obama has, in negotiations with congressional Republicans, offered to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
A report in the Washington Post quoted “a Democratic official familiar with the discussions,” while other media outlets quoted multiple unnamed sources with knowledge of the talks the president and congressional leaders have been engaged in with regard to raising the debt ceiling. All the reports suggest that Obama would trade the change in the eligibility age for a Republican agreement to accept some new taxes.
Obama essentially acknowledged as much Monday, when he said: “I’m prepared to take significant heat from my party to get something done.”
And rightly so.
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by YES! Magazine
We’re in the midst of a contest of competing stories—one fabricated to serve the interests of Empire; the other an authentic story born of the experience and aspirations of ordinary people.
by David Korten
Some years ago the Filipino activist-philosopher Nicanor Perlas shared an insight with me that has since been a foundation of my work. Each of the three institutional sectors—business, government, and civil society—has its distinctive power competence. Business commands the power of money. Government commands the coercive power of the police and military. Civil society commands the power of authentic moral values communicated through authentic cultural stories. Moral authority ultimately trumps the power of money and guns. Therefore, civil society holds the ultimate power advantage. Just as stories fabricated by Wall Street are an instrument of social control, authentic stories are an instrument of liberation.
This simple frame helped me see the extent to which the global citizen resistance against the corporate misuse of multilateral trade agreements was a contest between competing stories—one fabricated to serve the interests of Empire; the other an authentic story born of the experience and aspirations of ordinary people. According to the story fabricated and promoted by Wall Street’s PR machine:
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
This crisis has exposed the fact that – unlike the EU itself – the eurozone’s monetary union was always a rightwing project
by Mark Weisbrot
The euro is crashing to record lows against the Swiss franc, and interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds have hit record highs. This latest episode in the eurozone crisis is a result of fears that the contagion is now hitting Italy. With a $2tn economy and $2.45tn in debt, Italy is too big to fail and the European authorities are worried.
Although there is currently little basis for the concern that Italy’s interest rates could rise high enough to put its solvency in jeopardy, financial markets are acting irrationally and elevating both the fear and the prospects of a self-fulfilling prophesy. The fact that the European authorities cannot even agree on how to handle the debt of Greece – an economy less than one sixth the size of Italy – does not inspire confidence in their capacity to manage a bigger crisis.
By Alyssa Battistoni , AlterNet
Posted on July 6, 2011, Printed on July 13, 2011
In the aftermath of the financial collapse, a lot was written about the schadenfreude of watching the masters of the universe take a tumble from their vaunted positions atop Wall Street. But a couple of years later, not only have the hedge fund managers and investment bankers largely reclaimed their bonuses and prestige, but they’ve somehow managed to do schadenfreude one better; instead of deriving mere pleasure at the misfortune of others, they’ve figured out how to make money off it.
Writes Azaz Ahmed in the New York Times, “so-called black swan funds — named for rare and unexpected events — offer a way to profit in the event of a market collapse.”
They may be called black swans, but they operate more like vultures, hungrily eyeing the faltering economy and waiting to swoop in to tear what’s left to shreds. Along with tail risk funds, which hedge against predictable but improbable events, black swan funds offer a way for investors to insure themselves against losses–and make a bundle selling assets bought on the cheap–in the case of rare or unexpected catastrophes, from a default in Greece to an economic slowdown in China.
These kinds of “Armageddon funds” have been in and out of the news since Nassim Taleb’s book The Black Swan topped the bestseller lists in 2007, with most of the conversation proceeding along the lines of “will this kind of investment actually make me a boatload of money or is Wall Street getting punked?”
by JOHN FEFFER | Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Vol. 6, No. 27
Foreign Policy Goes Gaga
Lady Gaga and Alice Walker don’t have much in common. One dresses in red meat; the other doesn’t even eat the stuff. One writes lyrics like “I want your ugly, I want your disease, I want your everything as long as it’s free.” The other writes The Color Purple.
But they are both cultural celebrities, and the media gravitates to them for comments. And they both have used this celebrity status to weigh in on global issues.
Alice Walker, for instance, was a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, one of the boats that tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. She appeared in the first paragraph of The New York Times story on the second flotilla’s formation, made her case on CNN, parried questions in a Foreign Policy interview, and prompted a disparaging Commentary commentary entitled “The Alice Walker Flotilla.” Walker used her celebrity status to raise the media profile of the initiative but also to bring her own sensibility to bear on the issue. She compared the blockade-busting to the civil rights movement and spoke of her “awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the American south in our time of need.”
New York Times, July 11 2011
As recently as a decade ago, farms in the Midwest were commonly marred — at least as a farmer would view it — by unruly patches of milkweed amid the neat rows of emerging corn or soybeans.
Not anymore. Fields are now planted with genetically modified corn and soybeans resistant to the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the chemical to eradicate weeds, including milkweed.
And while that sounds like good news for the farmers, a growing number of scientists fear it is imperiling the monarch butterfly, whose spectacular migrations make it one of the most beloved of insects — “the Bambi of the insect world,” as an entomologist once put it.
Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and their larvae eat it. While the evidence is still preliminary and disputed, experts like Chip Taylor say the growing use of genetically modified crops is threatening the orange-and-black butterfly by depriving it of habitat.
Is the Obama National Security Team a Pilotless Drone?
By Tom Engelhardt
Posted on July 12, 2011, Printed on July 12, 2011
George W. who? I mean, the guy is so over. He turned the big six-five the other day and it was barely a footnote in the news. And Dick Cheney, tick-tick-tick. Condoleezza Rice? She’s already onto her next memoir, and yet it’s as if she’s been wiped from history, too? As for Donald Rumsfeld, he published his memoir in February and it hit the bestseller lists, but a few months later, where is he?
And can anyone be surprised? They were wrong about Afghanistan. They were wrong about Iraq. They were wrong about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong about what the U.S. military was capable of doing. The country imploded economically while they were at the helm. Geopolitically speaking, they headed the car of state for the nearest cliff. In fact, when it comes to pure wrongness, what weren’t they wrong about?
Americans do seem to have turned the page on Bush and his cronies. (President Obama called it looking forward, not backward.) Still, glance over your shoulder and, if you’re being honest, you’ll have to admit that one thing didn’t happen: they didn’t turn the page on us.
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
by Linh Dinh
July 4th, I wandered down to Independence Hall. There were soldiers in dress and battle uniforms, a high school marching band, many beefy bikers and a handful of svelte beauty queens, including Miss America, Teresa Scanlan. In front of the National Museum of American Jewish History, more than thirty Falun Dafa drummers, all female, performed a measured dance. Nearby, Sri Chinmoy followers sat under a portrait of their God stand-in, with these words emblazoned on their float:
America, America, America!
Great you are, good you are,
Brave you are, kind you are.
O my America, America,
Is earth’s aspiration-choice.
With you, in you
Is God-Hour’s Victory-Voice
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by The Independent/UK
by Steve Conner, Science Editor
Climate change is speeding up the rate at which animals and plants are becoming extinct. By the end of the century, one in 10 species could be on the verge of extinction because of the effects of global warming, a study has found.
The findings support the view that the earth is currently experiencing a global mass extinction where the rate at which species are being lost is many times greater than the historical extinction rate. It is the sixth great mass extinction in the history of life on earth. Scientists said that previous predictions of how fast species are being lost because of climate change match the actual observed losses. They calculate that around 10 per cent of species alive today could be facing extinction by 2100.
Monday 11 July 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed
There is a certain irony in the fact that the party of debt has now become a flock of austerity hawks. This is the same Republican Party that gave us two wars, an increase in military spending and whopping loss of tax revenues due to tax breaks for mega-rich corporations and the wealthy Americans. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman raises the question of what happened to the federal government budget surplus of 2000 and insists that the answer is, “three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.”(1) All told, President George W. Bush added $4 trillion to the national debt – and there was no debate about raising the debt ceiling at that time, which was raised seven times.(2) What is often missed in these discussions is that deficits have always been the objectives of hard right-wing Republicans and some equally conservative democrats who see them as an excuse for cutting social benefits and generating massive amounts of inequality that benefit the rich.(3) Michael Tomasky further legitimizes this claim with the charge that “the Republican Party cares nothing about the public debt. In fact, it wants more …
By Washington’s Blog
Global Research, July 11, 2011
Many Americans will face hard times for a long time to come.
Geithner says will be some time before many people feel like the country is recovering.
Geithner tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it’s a very tough economy. He says that for a lot of people “it’s going to feel very hard, harder than anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime now, for a long time to come.”
Of course, Geithner is a large part of the reason that it will be so hard.
By Jack A. Smith
Global Research, July 11, 2011
During his speech on Afghanistan June 22, President Obama revealed that “Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war.” He knew this was a deceptive understatement, as did everyone who keeps close watch on the Bush-Obama wars all these years.
Few Americans , however, have closely followed Washington’s 21st century wars of choice, so a trillion probably sounds right to them, but that amount in 10 years — when the annual cost of air conditioning alone for the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq amounts to $20.2 billion a year — is way off base.
iEat Green with Bhavani on The Progressive Radio Network
I just spent a delightful weekend in Vermont with my family and friends. What a gift it is, to watch our children grow up with life long family friends, enjoying the outdoors, and sharing the Slow Food Life!
Last week, I started a program with the children from The River Fund Food Pantry, introducing them to the wonders of gardening, harvesting vegetables, cooking a healthy lunch and playing in the pool. What fun!!!
Please join me tomorrow on my radio show. My guest this week will be Deb Taft, the organizer of Crop Mob NYC, and a newly developed chapter called, Lower Hudson Crop Mob. Crop Mob is a group of individuals, many with no agricultural experience at all, who come together to build and empower communities by working side by side to strengthen our foodshed. Crop Mob’s serves farms by providing groups of volunteers for special projects or tasks. There are different Crob Mob chapters across the country. To find one near you, visit their website at http://cropmob.org
New York Times, July 10, 2011
If you were shocked by Friday’s job report, if you thought we were doing well and were taken aback by the bad news, you haven’t been paying attention. The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half.
Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. Turn on your TV and you’ll see some self-satisfied pundit declaring that nothing much can be done about the economy’s short-run problems (reminder: this “short run” is now in its fourth year), that we should focus on the long run instead.
This gets things exactly wrong. The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action — notably, the fact that the House is controlled by a party that benefits from the economy’s weakness. But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality.
Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity — a choice rationalized by an ever-shifting set of excuses.