Agrochemical companies on the run

SUBHEAD: The Hawaii movement to regulate the agrochemical industry is winning in solidarity.

By Gary Hooser on 5 April 2016 in Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2016/04/agrochemical-companies-on-run.html)


Image above: Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte in still frame from video of a previous HAPA meeting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxlqoGU5WUc).

Winning In Solidarity - The Hawaii movement to regulate the agrochemical industry

The agrochemical industry in Hawaii is losing the war they have waged against our community these past few years.  Rather than acknowledge our concerns about health and environmental impacts and comply with our modest requests for increased regulation, they have chosen to fight us every single step of the way and they are losing.

The industry is now back on their heels and we should be prepared for the push back that is coming.  You can be sure they will attack soon and attempt to undermine the many victories and reverse the momentum that is on our side.  You can be sure they will attack our credibility and integrity while attempting to sow seeds of doubt as to our purpose and effectiveness.  They will denigrate our efforts and attempt to divide us.

But our resolve knows no limits.  We will be here long after they pack their bags and leave.  And yes, BASF has already announced their departure, Dupont has reduced their GE test fields by over 3,000 acres and Syngenta likewise has abandoned significant Kauai lands.

The experimental fields no longer are planted in Lihue across from the airport or near the major shopping areas.  The voluntary buffer zones and relentless public spotlight has resulted in the companies pushing their activity further from public areas which means a healthier environment for Kauai residents.

The march toward full accountability and full disclosure now has a life of its own and will not be stopped.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has two investigators now on the ground in Hawaii looking closely at the questionable and possible illegal conduct of the industry on several islands.

In a few short months the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will be taking under review the legal assault these companies have launched against the people of Kauai County, Maui County and Hawaii County.  Winning is a real possibility and the industry is terrified.

Our efforts at the State legislature have stopped numerous attempts to strip away the County authority to regulate agriculture.  The fight for mandatory state-wide disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides application and related buffer zone requirements has been like an ongoing street fight, but we are winning on this front as well.

The State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) has announced its intent to extend Kauai’s existing voluntary program Statewide, and the SDOA sponsored Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report has recommended mandatory statewide disclosure, buffer zones and comprehensive testing.

Various public interest law firms are contemplating additional legal action during 2016 and the full ramifications of the Waimea communities unanimous court decision against Dupont Pioneer will continue to expand in the months ahead.

Syngenta’s inadequate worker safety standards resulted in the chemical exposure of 19 field workers to chlorpyrifos, sending at least 10 people to the hospital.  This unfortunate incident has focused increased attention on the practices of this industry in Hawaii and the potential health impacts on workers and the nearby communities.

The use of “contract labor” imported into Hawaii for high risk work and then exported out “back to where they came from” is also coming under increased scrutiny.

The public review of the agrochemical industries’ unethical conduct in Hawaii has reached both national and international audiences.  At least 5 different documentary films spotlighting the thuggish behavior of these companies and harmful health and environmental impacts of their operations are carrying our story around the world.

A major investigative national news organization is examining the Hawaii story and numerous national news organizations have and are reporting on Hawaii’s experience with the agrochemical industry.

New leaders are stepping up from our community to assume positions of leadership and run for public office.  People are stepping up, investing time and resources and starting their own small farms - walking the talk and growing local food for local people.  New stores carrying only local sourced food products have sprung up and more and more restaurants are focused on serving locally sourced organic products.

Our community is more aware and more informed on this issue than ever in history.

Yes, we are winning.  While there remain many battles and many challenges ahead, we are in fact winning. Our community is better off today than it was three short years ago as a result of our work.

And I mean OUR.  So many people and so many organizations, large and small have come together over the past few years to form this movement and we should take a moment to thank them.

Hawaii Seed, their founders and core volunteers on all islands started the discussion over a decade ago and invested countless hours in the sun, holding signs and holding the space for all of us. Dustin Barca and Ohana O’ Kauai have played a pivotal role in galvanizing people on all islands to take to the streets, to march and to speak truth to power.

Ohana O’ Kauai is now growing food while continuing to grow the movement.  The Moms Hui organized on each island and is doing valuable work, Babes Against Biotech bolstered by a powerhouse social media platform was launched and outreach was extended to like minded groups globally.

On Kauai Fern Rosenstiel, Sol Kahn and a small group of keiki o ka aina began to meet in living rooms around the island launching the conversation that eventually resulted in Bill 2491.

In Hawaii County Councilmember Margaret Willie stepped up and enrolled others while Councilmember Elle Cochran held the torch high and bright on Maui as Shaka and a wide spread network of community stepped into the space on Maui setting up that epic battle which has become the Maui miracle.

The powerful voice of Uncle Walter Ritte together with the rise of the Aloha Aina movement added more momentum.  The Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action or HAPA (of which I am the volunteer President of the Board) was formed to help organize, educate and advocate statewide, and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) stepped up to provide critical technical expertise as another valuable partner.

Earth Justice (EJ) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have been anchors in the storm.  Their legal experience, support and advocacy has been incredibly valuable.  EJ has fought and won for us many public battles in Hawaii and around the world and we are fortunate to have their expertise and dedication in defense of our planet.

When CFS opened its Hawaii office and hired Ashley Lukens our widespread volunteer base was provided for the first time with full-time professional administrative support.  Ashley and CFS have held down the fort at the legislature championing the good proposals, fighting relentlessly the bad ones and rallying the troops when needed.

Their “Pesticide Report” is an invaluable resource and CFS should be commended for taking this report directly to the people in all parts of the State included those towns directly impacted and dominated by industry forces.

The mosaic that is the strength of our success include individuals like Alika Atay, Hector Valenzuela, Wendell Kabutan, Malia Chun and countless others who have stepped up in singularly important ways to support, to advocate and to take our efforts forward.

Our movement consists of a wide variety of people and groups, each with our strengths and weaknesses and each with our own egos and personalities.  We must always remember to stand together.  In solidarity.

That is our strength.  That is why we are winning.

Find out more and support us if you can: http://www.hapahi.org

View: My remarks delivered to 900 Syngenta shareholders during their annual international shareholders meeting (4 minutes):  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0zz7cV_Qe8)

View: A 4 minute over-view of what we are fighting for: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7n4YG66iio)

View:  "The Little Island That Could" - remarks on the Bill 2491 saga: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHYwsu3Wefs)

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Bernie, Hillary & Panama Papers

SUBHEAD: Clinton and Sanders record regarding Panama Papers and impact on Presidential race.

By Charles Mudede on 5 April 2016 for the Stranger -
(http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/04/05/23908452/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-and-the-impact-of-the-panama-papers-on-the-race)


Image above: Highway leading to Panama City's business district. Photo by Vilaine Crevette. From original article.

As I said yesterday, the Panama Papers (documents of offshore bank transactions and accounts that shelter the global rich from taxes) scandal is going to be good for Sanders and bad for Clinton. And sure enough, Sanders had this to say about Panama in 2011, when he opposed a free trade agreement between Panama, a country with a tiny economy, and the US:


Video above: On October 12, 2011, Sen. Bernie Sanders opposed the Panama–United States Trade Promotion Agreement on the senate floor. Clinton was all for it. From (https://youtu.be/LrsI0Sw2hq8) in original article.
And what was Clinton's position on this trade pact, which included South Korea and Colombia? In the opinion of U.S. Uncut, a group "established in February 2011 to combat corporate tax avoidance":

"She was on the complete opposite side of the issue." What is for sure is she had nothing substantial to say about how a trade agreement with Panama (Sanders' first point) would generate jobs in the US. She only stated that it would do so by the pure voodoo of opening its market to US products. This same voodoo is being promoted in TPP.

In the narrative of the elite (a narrative that received a major and fatal shock with the crash of 2008), trade agreements are never about rich people really, but always the poor, the American worker, the man and woman on the street. The rich are just doing all they can for us at the bottom. That's how they see themselves. That's their man and woman in the mirror.

And that's how most politicians represent their causes to us. Read Clinton's press release. She is speaking the language of the elite. What will come out of the Panama Papers is the fact that Sanders really does not speak this language at all.

Some more Panama Papers News:
  1. The first major political casualty of the leak is Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who resigned today because his name was connected with offshore accounts.
  2. Money originating from Panama City has been inflating property values in Miami.
  3. Politico claims that US citizens are not prominent in the documents because they prefer tax havens in places that speak English. Apparently, the father of David Cameron, the British prime minister, has no problem with Spanish-speaking tax havens.
  4. Editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung on the dearth of US citizens in the leak: "Just wait for what is coming next."


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American Militarization of Pacific

SUBHEAD: The U.S. is militarizing the Pacific — and not taking any questions about it.

By Jon Letman on 31 March 2016 for Foreign Policy in Focus-
(http://fpif.org/u-s-militarizing-pacific-not-taking-questions/)


Image above: U.S. navel security stands guard of F-22 Raptor fighter jets parked on tarmac in Okinawa on 4/27/12. From  (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-27/usaf-f-22-raptor-fighters-parked-on-the-tarmac-on/3976292).

Hawaii's members of Congress sit at the linchpin of a huge realignment of U.S. military power. Good luck getting them to talk about it.

The biggest U.S. military re-alignment in a generation may be underway in the Asia-Pacific. But most Americans know nothing about it.

Unveiled in 2011, the “Pacific Pivot” aims to transition U.S. military and diplomatic resources away from the Middle East and toward the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.

The United States already has enormous resources invested in the region — including tens of thousands of troops, large aircraft carrier groups, and mutual defense treaties with powerful countries like South Korea and Japan. The pivot aims to bolster that military presence, as well as secure more political cooperation from U.S. allies and boost trade through major pacts like the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

“The United States is a Pacific Power,” President Obama told the Australian parliament in November 2011, “and we are here to stay.” In the shadow of a rising China, Obama promised that Washington “will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.”

In a sprawling 5,500-word article in Foreign Policy, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described America’s role in the region as “vital,” “essential,” and “irreplaceable.” For a few companies, it could also be lucrative: Key components of the strategy, Clinton explained in 2011, are strategic economic partnerships and international trade agreements like the TPP.

Under pressure from the Bernie Sanders campaign, Clinton says she now opposes the TPP. But it remains a key plank of the U.S. strategy to pull countries in the region into its sphere of influence. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has said that “passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier” — though he’s asking for actual armaments too, including “high-end capabilities” like the new long-range stealth bomber and anti-ship cruise missiles.

Though overshadowed by unrest in the Middle East, the pivot remains very much underway. Already the U.S. has expanded and established new military exercises and agreements with Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other parts of Southeast Asia — as well as Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Mongolia, and even China.

The linchpin of this military realignment is my home state of Hawaii, which has hosted the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command, or USPACOM, for almost 70 years.

Beyond Scrutiny
Based on the island of Oahu, USPACOM claims the Asia-Pacific as its “area of responsibility.” Home to 36 nations — and more than half the world’s population — the region stretches, in the words of top military brass, “from Bollywood to Hollywood and penguins to polar bears.”

Unfortunately, members of Congress who should be prepared to explain their positions aren’t talking. Specifically, I’m referring to Hawaii’s four-person congressional delegation — which represents the one U.S. state that truly is Asian and Pacific.

I spent over a year reaching out to Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai. Collectively the four Democrats serve on committees, subcommittees, and caucuses that oversee foreign affairs, intelligence, naval issues, four branches of the military, and relations with critical Asia-Pacific nations, among other relevant portfolios. Furthermore, both Gabbard and Takai are active members of the National Guard and have served in the Middle East.

None of the four was willing to be interviewed about their views on the pivot, or U.S. military policy in Asia more generally. I learned this after making dozens of phone calls and sending scores of emails over a 13-month period. I even approached Gabbard, whom I’ve interviewed before, in person following a Veteran’s Day ceremony in an attempt to schedule an interview.

Sometimes patience and persistence just aren’t enough. Even after submitting questions and providing an editor’s letter of intent (for Hirono), none would take my questions in writing, in person, or by telephone. Staff responses were sporadic and difficult to get.
Finally, my requests were ultimately denied without explanation.

The Questions
These weren’t “gotcha questions” designed to elicit an embarrassing response. They were straightforward and honest inquiries related to U.S. policy in a key region of the world — all on subjects each of the four should have been prepared to discuss with the media.
Here were a few them:
  1. In May 2015, Schatz, Hirono, and Gabbard all met with Takeshi Onaga, who governs the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa — a small island that plays host to the vast majority of U.S. military installations in Japan. Onaga was visiting Hawaii to protest a plan, favored by both Washington and Tokyo, to build a new Marine base in Okinawa despite overwhelming local opposition, more than a year of continuous protests, and the plan’s disputed legal status.
  2. Obama, Carter, and USPACOM’s Admiral Harry B. Harris have criticized China for militarizing the South China Sea, accusing Beijing of both inflicting environmental damage and destabilizing of the region. Doesn’t the increasing U.S. military presence also threaten to bring environmental damage and instability to Okinawa, the Philippines, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the South China Sea, and elsewhere?
  3. In 2014, the U.S. military conducted 425 “signed activities” and rotated 3,700 of its own forces through the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which gives the U.S. broad access to operate and pre-position weapons and troops inside Philippine military bases.
  4. The Korean peninsula, one of the most heavily militarized places on earth, remains home to some 28,500 U.S. troops — with more at least 800 more added during the pivot. In light of this massive troop presence — and not to mention the tremendous destruction of North Korea by the United States during the Korean War and a climate of mutual threats and posturing ever since — are the U.S. and South Korea making a bad situation worse every time they conduct large-scale annual war games on North Korea’s frontier?For example, when the U.S. flies nuclear capable B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in drills near the North Korean border to “send a message” to Pyongyang, is this the best way to finally end the Korean War? Can provocative measures like these lead to re-unification, or are we just provoking North Korea, playing a war-mongering yin to North Korea’s yang?
Other questions considered the United States’ responsibility to address lingering health and environmental damage from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, the environmental impact of expanding live-fire testing in the Northern Mariana Islands, and the implications of military cuts in Hawaii and increases in Guam.

None was answered.

Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.
In her article promoting the pivot, Hillary Clinton wrote that the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific “ensures stability and security” and “defends freedom and transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.”

Yet all four members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation spent more than a year avoiding a journalist — and a constituent — trying to conduct a single interview on the subject. There’s nothing transparent about that at all, especially since Hawaii is the headquarters for many of these operations.
That’s a shame. Because real answers to these questions might have exposed a system that puts military, political, and financial institutional interests above those of a truly just and peaceful society.
Here are a few other questions.

Rep. Gabbard recently made headlines after her endorsement of Bernie Sanders, ostensibly because of her concerns about “the cost of war.” Does that sentiment extend to having an open and frank discussion of the militarized Pacific?

Will the Pacific pivot actually create a safer, more secure world, or preserve a status quo that ensures the sale of a lot of expensive weapons systems? Does the broader rebalancing promote human rights — consider how increased militarization impacts North Korean civilians or curtails press freedoms in Japan, for example — and stability?

Or does it promote and expand a global order in which trade agreements are as important as new aircraft carriers?

As a nation, we have no qualms about militarizing distant lands and stationing tens of thousands of our own soldiers in other people’s countries for decades on end. But would we accept a fraction of the same treatment for even one minute?

Perhaps one day another reporter will gain access and ask such questions to members of Congress. But for now I’m not holding my breath that they’ll answer.


Image above: AU.S. Naval base at Apra Harbor on Guam seen during fly by on 2/25/03. From article on 11/06/15 at (http://hawaiiindependent.net/story/the-trans-pacific-partnership-pivot-and-pathway).

See also:
American Empire - Pacific Pivot 
Ea O Ka Aina: Oceans 4 Peace Pacific Pivot Panel 6/18/16 By Juan Wilson
Ea O Ka Aina: Another USA Pacific Terrirorial Grab? 5/18/15  by Juan Wilson
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's PMRF is bang out of sight 6/28/14 by Jon Letman
Ea  O Ka Aina: An Ugly Dance  - The Asian Pivot 12/5/13 by Juan Wilson

American Empire - Rim of the Pacific 
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean 4 Peace Events 6/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Prepare for RIMPAC 2016 War in Hawaii 5/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to "take" millions of mammals 5/17/16
Ea O Ka Aina: US court RIMPAC Impact decision 4/3/15
Ea O Ka Aina: 2014 RIMPAC Impact Post Mortem 10/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death 7/26/14.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot  6/26/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Operation Dominic & Hawaii  6/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Now and Then 5/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: End RIMPAC destruction of Pacific
11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy License to Kill 10/09/12
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC - Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to increase war on Pacific 6/10/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Return in 2010 5/2/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Living at the Tip of the Spear 4/5/10 
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/02/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/03/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar use feared 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 6/05/04

American Empire - Kauai, Hawaii
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuck the PMRF's Aegis Plan 1/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy plans for Mordor 3/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy operation coincides with fishkill 3/18/09 

American Empire - Okinawa, Japan
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacfic islanders against US "Pivot" 11/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa an American Protectorate 10/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawans wish US military gone 8/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa mayor caves to US military 4/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan struggles with Okinawa base  4/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fear and Hope in Oura Bay1/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa resists US Military 2/11/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US Okinawa base setback1/20/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10

American Empire - Guam, US Territory
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09

American Empire - Jeju, Korea
Ea O Ka Aina: The Ghosts of Jeju 10/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Oliver Stone Jeju Island interview 8/25/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju & Hawaii under arms 6/15/12
Ea O Ka Aina: First Day on Jeju Island 6/10/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Despoiling Jeju island coast begins 5/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: America bullies Koreans 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju Islanders protests Navy Base 2/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Korean Island of Peace 2/26/12

American Empire - Diego Garcia
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/06/09
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IMF plan to crash Europe

SUBHEAD: Wikileaks reveals IMF plan to "Cause a credit event in Greece and destabilize Europe".

By Tyler Durden on 2 April 2016 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-02/wikileaks-reveals-imf-plan-cause-credit-event-greece-and-destabilize-europe)


Image above: IMF negotiator Poul Thomsen. From (https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/imf-plots-new-credit-event-for-greece-534b4b300318#.jdum3i3z0).

One of the recurring concerns involving Europe's seemingly perpetual economic, financial and social crises, is that these have been largely predetermined, "scripted" and deliberate acts.

This is something the former head of the Bank of England admitted one month ago when Mervyn King said that Europe's economic depression "is the result of "deliberate" policy choices made by EU elites.  It is also what AIG Banque strategist Bernard Connolly said back in 2008 when laying out "What Europe Wants"
To use global issues as excuses to extend its power:
  • environmental issues: increase control over member countries; advance idea of global governance
  • terrorism: use excuse for greater control over police and judicial issues; increase extent of surveillance
  • global financial crisis: kill two birds (free market; Anglo-Saxon economies) with one stone (Europe-wide regulator; attempts at global financial governance)
  • EMU: create a crisis to force introduction of “European economic government”
This morning we got another confirmation of how supernational organizations "plan" European crises in advance to further their goals, when Wikileaks published the transcript of a teleconference that took place on March 19, 2016 between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis - Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF's European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece.

In the transcript, the IMF staffers are caught on tape planning to tell Germany the organization would abandon the troika if the IMF and the commission fail to reach an agreement on Greek debt relief.

More to the point, the IMF officials say that a threat of an imminent financial catastrophe as the Guardian puts it, is needed to force other players into accepting its measures such as cutting Greek pensions and working conditions, or as Bloomberg puts it, "considering a plan to cause a credit event in Greece and destabilize Europe."

According to the leaked conversation, the IMF - which has been pushing for a debt haircut for Greece ever since last August's 3rd Greek bailout - believes a credit event as only thing that could trigger a Greek deal; the "event" is hinted as taking place some time around the June 23 Brexit referendum.

As noted by Bloomberg, the leak shows officials linking Greek issue with U.K. referendum risking general political destabilization in Europe.


Image above: IMF official Delia Velculescu. From (https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/imf-plots-new-credit-event-for-greece-534b4b300318#.jdum3i3z0).

The leaked transcript reveals how the IMF plans to use Greece as a pawn in its ongoing negotiation with Germany's chancelleor in order to achieve the desired Greek debt reduction which Germany has been pointedly against: in the leak we learn about the intention of IMF to threaten German Chancellor Angela Merkel to force her to accept the IMF's demands at a critical point.
From the transcript:
THOMSEN: Well, I don't know. But this is... I think about it differently. What is going to bring it all to a decision point? In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default. Right?

VELKOULESKOU: Right!

THOMSEN: And possibly this is what is going to happen again. In that case, it drags on until July, and clearly the Europeans are not going to have any discussions for a month before the Brexits and so, at some stage they will want to take a break and then they want to  start again after the European referendum.

VELKOULESKOU: That's right.

THOMSEN: That is one possibility. Another possibility is one that I thought would have happened already and I am surprised that it has not happened, is that, because of the refugee situation, they take a decision... that they want to come to a conclusion. Ok? And the Germans raise the issue of the management... and basically we at that time say "Look, you Mrs. Merkel you face a question, you have to think about what is more costly: to go ahead without the IMF, would the Bundestag say 'The IMF is not on board'? or to pick the debt relief that we think that Greece needs in order to keep us on board?" Right? That is really the issue.

VELKOULESKOU: I agree that we need an event, but I don't know what that will be. But I think Dijsselbloem is trying not to generate an event, but to jump start this discussion somehow on debt, that essentially is about us being on board or not at the end of the day.

THOMSEN: Yeah, but you know, that discussion of the measures and the discussion of the debt can go on forever, until some high up.. until they hit the July payment or until the leaders decide that we need to come to an agreement. But there is nothing in there that otherwise is going to force a compromise. Right? It is going to go on forever.
The IMF is also shown as continuing to pull the strings of the Greek government which has so far refused to compromise on any major reforms, as has been the case since the first bailout.

As the Guardian notes, Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has accused the IMF of imposing draconian measures, including on pension reform. The transcript quotes Velculescu as saying: “What is interesting though is that [Greece] did give in … they did give a little bit on both the income tax reform and on the … both on the tax credit and the supplementary pensions”. Thomsen’s view was that the Greeks “are not even getting close [to coming] around to accept our views”. Velculescu argued that “if [the Greek government] get pressured enough, they would …

But they don’t have any incentive and they know that the commission is willing to compromise, so that is the problem.”

Below is Paul Mason's summary of what is shaping up as the next political scandal.
The International Monetary Fund has been caught, red handed, plotting to stage a “credit event” that forces Greece to the edge of bankruptcy, using the pretext of the Brexit referendum.

No, this is not the plot of the next Bond movie. It is the transcript of a teleconference between the IMF’s chief negotiator, Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu, head of the IMF mission to Greece. 

Released by Wikileaks, the discussion took place in Athens just before the IMF walked out of talks aimed at giving Greece the green light for the next stage of its bailout.

The situation is: the IMF does not believe the numbers being used by both Greece and Europe to do the next stage of the deal. It does not want to take part in the bailout. Meanwhile the EU cannot do the deal without the IMF because the German parliament won’t allow it.

Let me decode. An “event” is a financial crisis bringing Greece close to default. Just like last year, when the banks closed, millions of people faced economic and psychological catastrophe.

Only this time, the IMF wants to inflict that catastrophe on a nation holding tens of thousands of refugees and tasked with one of the most complex and legally dubious international border policing missions in modern history.

The Greek government is furious: “we are not going to let the IMF play with fire,” a source told me.

But the issue is out of Greek hands. In the end, as Thomsen hints in the transcript, only the European Commission and above all the German government can decide to honour the terms of the deal it did to bail Greece out last July.

The transcript, though received with fury and incredulity in Greece, will drop like a bombshell into the Commission and the ECB. It is they who are holding E300bn+ of Greek debt. It is the whole of Europe, in other words, that the IMF is conspiring to hit with the shock doctrine.
The Greeks are understandably angry and confused; As Bloomberg reported earlier, "Greece wants to know whether WikiLeaks report regarding IMF anticipating a Greek default at about the time of the U.K. June 23 referendum on its EU membership is the fund’s official position" government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili says Saturday in e-mailed statement.

For its part, an IMF spokesman in e-mail Saturday said it doesn’t "comment on leaks or supposed reports of internal discussions."
Two side observations:
  1. has a "Snowden" leaker now emerged at the IMF; if so we can expect many more such bombshell accounts in the coming weeks; or perhaps the reason for the leak is less nuanced: a bugged hotel.
  2. it may be another turbulent summer in Europe.

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Lawsuit over FDA GMO salmon

SUBHEAD: Opponents are concerned about what will happen to wild salmon when the GMO fish reach to wild salmon.

By Chris D'Angelo on 31 March 2016 for Huffington Post -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fda-sued-over-genetically-engineered-salmon_us_56fd75f7e4b083f5c60730bc)


Image above: An AquAdvantage Salmon is pictured in this undated photo provided. Photo by AquaBounty Technologies. From original article.
  • Plaintiffs argue the federal agency overstepped its authority in approving the GMO fish.
  • AquaBounty Technologies' salmon are engineered to grow twice as fast as wild species.
  • Critics worry engineered salmon could prove disastrous for wild salmon populations.
Nearly a dozen fishing and environmental groups have filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration in an effort to block its recent approval of genetically modified salmon.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, argue that by green-lighting the first-ever genetically altered animal slated for human consumption, the FDA violated the law and ignored potential risks to wild salmon populations, the environment and fishing communities.
“That’s one of the major risks here, is the escape of these fish into the wild,” George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety, told The Huffington Post. “It could be a final blow to our already imperiled salmon stocks.”

Produced by Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty Technologies, the AquAdvantage Salmon is an Atlantic salmon engineered with genes from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a deep water ocean eelpout to grow twice as fast as its conventional counterpart.
 
The 64-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenges whether the FDA has authority to regulate genetically modified animals as “animal drugs” under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It also argues the agency failed to protect the environment and consult wildlife agencies in its review process, as required by federal law, CFS said in a release.

“I think it’s important to note that FDA has gone ahead with this approval over the objections of over two million Americans in the comment period,” Kimbrell told HuffPost.

In its approval announcement in November, the FDA said it determined “food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat and as nutritious as food from other non-GE Atlantic salmon and that there are no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon.”



Image above: Fresh Atlantic salmon steaks and fillets at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. in 2013. Photo by SailLoeb. From original article.

FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnamn told HuffPost in an email that as a matter of policy, the federal agency does not comment on pending litigation.
 
The lawsuit is the latest development in an ongoing and heated debate over genetically modified organisms, their safety and whether genetically engineered foods should be labeled. While proponents say the technology allows agricultural farmers to be more efficient, opponents argue they result in heavy pesticide use and transgenic contamination.

In the case of its GE salmon, AquaBounty says the fish grows to market size using 25 percent less feed than any Atlantic salmon on the market today.

But if the engineered fish were to be released into the wild — a risk AquaBounty says is eliminated by raising them on land and away from the ocean — critics worry they might outcompete endangered wild salmon for food and introduce new diseases.

“Once they escape, you can’t put these transgenic fish back in the bag,” Dune Lankard, a salmon fisherman and the Center for Biological Diversity’s Alaska representative, said in a release. “They’re manufactured to outgrow wild salmon, and if they cross-breed, it could have irreversible impacts on the natural world. This kind of dangerous tinkering could easily morph into a disaster for wild salmon that will be impossible to undo.”

Plaintiffs in the case include Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay and others.

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GMO Fact Finding Report


SUBHEAD: Correction: At Kauai Veteran's Center,  Joint Fact Finding Group report on pesticides, Monday April 4.

By Jeri DiPietro on 1 April 2016 in Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2016/04/gmo-fact-finding-report.html)


Image above: On page 8 of Draft Report illustration of pesticide impact from "Nile River Awareness Kit".

WHAT:
 GMO Joint Fact Finding Group report

WHEN:
Monday 4th April from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

WHERE:
Kauai Veteran's Center
3125 Kapule Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766

(For explanation see http://islandbreath.org/2007Year/17-peace&war/0717-08KauaiWarMemorial.html)

Reminder that this coming Monday, April 4 from 7 to 9pm the Joint Fact Finding Group will present their recommendations in the draft report and the process of investigating data of the experimental GMO test fields and pesticide spraying on Kauai, by Pioneer, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow Agroscience and BASF.

This presentation will be in Lihue at the Kauai Veteran's Center. The panel will discuss how they arrived at their recommendations and what the next steps might be. There will be some time for written Questions and Answers.

Let's fill the room and show our support for keeping strong recommendations in the final report.

The draft report:
(http://www.accord3.com/docs/GM-Pesticides/draft-report/JFF%20Full%20Report%20-%20DRAFT.pdf)

 Comments:
Your comments are limited to 250 words and can be emailed to
(jffcomments@gmail.com)

While we were pleased that the draft study contains a set of good recommendations that are informed by the Precautionary Principle.

You can prepare by reviewing the Report's Executive Summary and Recommendations, and noting any glaring omissions or misstatements and provide any suggestions.

Here are the links to the Appendices and source materials as well.

Appendix 1:
(http://www.accord3.com/docs/GM-Pesticides/draft-report/JFF%20Appendix%201%20-%20DRAFT.pdf)

Appendix 2:
(http://www.accord3.com/docs/GM-Pesticides/draft-report/JFF%20Appendix%202%20-%20DRAFT.pdf)
For research methodology for the report’s recommended areas for further study.

Mahalo nui loa! See you there, bring your friends and your aloha, and help us spread the word.

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Nigerians rejecting Monsanto

SUBHEAD: Over five million Nigerians urge government to reject Monsanto GMO crops.

By Nika Knight on 29 March 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/29/over-5-million-nigerians-urge-government-reject-monsanto-crops)


Image above: Nigerian farmers pose for a USAID photographer in 2010. "The health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on," argue a group of Nigerian non-profits. Photo by Ann Fleuret. From original article.

Monsanto is poised to begin planting genetically modified varieties of corn and cotton in Nigeria, provoking the outrage of millions. Non-profits representing teachers, farmers, artists, environmentalists, and others oppose Monsanto's efforts to bring GMO crops to Nigeria.

In response to the biotech behemoth's application for the release and marketing of the GMO crops in the West African nation, 100 non-profits representing over 5 million Nigerians on Monday presented the government with a formal objection (pdf).

The non-profits advocate for Nigerians from a wide swath of society—from teachers, pastors, and artists, to farmers, environmentalists, and domestic abuse survivors, among many others. The vast range of groups objecting to the Monsanto application, which was submitted last month, testifies to extent of the distrust toward genetically modified food in Nigerian society.

The groups "are particularly alarmed that [Monsanto's] application has come so close after the dismal failures of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso," wrote the environmental think tank Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), which played a central role in drafting and organizing the objection.
Bt cotton is a bollworm-resistant variety of GMO cotton invented and patented by Monsanto, and after the biotech seed decimated Burkina Faso's cotton industry that country decided this winter to phase it out of production.

Monsanto is requesting that Nigeria now allow it to be cultivated there, along with its so-called "Roundup Ready" version of weedkiller-resistant corn.

HOMEF director Nnimmo Bassey said, "We are totally shocked that [Monsanto's application] should come so soon after peer reviewed studies have showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso. It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto."

Bassey went on, "Since our Biosafety Act has only recently entered into force, what biosafety legislation was used to authorise and regulate the field trials in the past in accordance with international law and best biosafety practice?"

"Former President Goodluck Jonathan hastily signed the National Biosafety Management Bill into law, in the twilight days of his tenure in office. Further worrying is the apparent conflict of interests displayed by the Nigerian regulatory agencies, who are publicly supporting the introduction of GMOs into Nigeria whereas these regulators (the NAMBA) are legally bound to remain impartial and regulate in the public interest," HOMEF writes.

Nigeria isn't the only country where government officials expected to remain impartial lobby on behalf of corporate interests, of course. The entry of GMOs into Africa was one put in place and advocated for by U.S. State Department officials, as Common Dreams reported back in 2013.
The non-profits also point out in their objection that Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" corn requires the toxic Roundup herbicide whose core ingredient, glysophate, is known to be extremely harmful to human health and the environment.

The statement from HOMEF described the threats Monsanto poses to Nigerians' health, environment, and food system:
Monsanto’s application deceitfully provides no discussion on the potential risks of glysophate use to human and animal health and the environment. Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.

The groups are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s applications out of hand. They note with disquiet that there is a serious lack of capacity within Nigeria to adequately control and monitor the human and environmental risks of GM crops and glyphosate. Further there is virtually no testing of any food material and products in Nigeria for glyphosate or other pesticide residues, or the monitoring of their impact on the environment including water resources.
"Recent studies have linked glyphosate to health effects such as degeneration of the liver and kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma," added Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s food sovereignty co-coordinator. "That NABMA is even considering this application is indeed unfortunate and deeply regrettable, knowing full well about the uncontrolled exposure that our rural farmers and communities living close to farms will be exposed to."

Bassey, HOMEF's president, has advocated against the GMO industry for years, and spoke at length about his strong objections to biotech crops and the specific threats he believes they pose to African countries in an interview with SarahaTV back in 2013. Watch it here:


Video above: Nnimmo Bassey says "GMO Is The Next Big Threat To Africa". From (https://youtu.be/k8knVi8lHo8).


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