ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:33:36 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) USDA Announces Additional Food Safety Requirements, New Inspection System for Poultry Products http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54435-usda-announces-additional-food-safety-requirements-new-inspection-system-for-poultry-products.html Revised modernization effort includes new preventative measures, re-focused inspection activities that will prevent thousands of illnesses annually and improved coordination on worker safety

WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced a critical step forward in making chicken and turkey products safer for Americans to eat. Poultry companies will have to meet new requirements to control Salmonella and Campylobacter, and up to 5,000 foodborne illnesses will be prevented each year as a result of the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), an updated science-based inspection system that positions food safety inspectors throughout poultry facilities in a smarter way.

"The United States has been relying on a poultry inspection model that dates back to 1957, while rates of foodborne illness due to Salmonella and Campylobacter remain stubbornly high. The system we are announcing today imposes stricter requirements on the poultry industry and places our trained inspectors where they can better ensure food is being processed safely. These improvements make use of sound science to modernize food safety procedures and prevent thousands of illnesses each year," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

FSIS will now require that all poultry companies take measures to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs. Also for the first time ever, all poultry facilities will be required to perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to show that they are controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter. These requirements are in addition to FSIS' own testing, which the agency will continue to perform.

FSIS is also introducing the optional NPIS, in which poultry companies must sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to FSIS inspectors. This system allows for FSIS inspectors to focus less on routine quality assurance tasks that have little relationship to preventing pathogens like Salmonella and instead focus more on strategies that are proven to strengthen food safety. More inspectors will now be available to more frequently remove birds from the evisceration line for close food safety examinations, take samples for testing, check plant sanitation, verify compliance with food safety plans, observe live birds for signs of disease or mistreatment, and ensuring plants are meeting all applicable regulations.

The proposal was first published on January 27, 2012, and the modernization effort has been significantly informed by the feedback FSIS received from the public, as well as from interagency partners such as the Department of Labor. Specifically, USDA received numerous comments on the proposed rule related to worker safety, and it has partnered with the federal agencies responsible for worker safety to address those concerns.

In response to public comment, the maximum line speeds for plants that newly adopt the NPIS have remained capped at 140 birds per minute, consistent with the maximum speed under existing inspection programs. Additionally, all companies operating under the NPIS must maintain a program to encourage the early reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses, and FSIS employees will receive new instructions on how to report workplace hazards that may affect plant workers, including access to a confidential 1-800 number to report concerns directly to OSHA.

FSIS estimates that the NPIS will prevent nearly 5,000 Salmonella and Campylobacter foodborne illnesses each year. Salmonella illnesses have remained steady, with some spikes, in the past ten years, while Campylobacter is the second most reported foodborne illness in the United States. This new inspection model is a key part of the agency's Salmonella Action Plan, unveiled in December 2013, which is the agency's blueprint for addressing Salmonella illnesses from meat and poultry products. Also included in that plan are revised pathogen reduction performance standards for all poultry, and first-time-ever standards for poultry parts, which consumers commonly purchase. These new standards are expected to be announced later this year.


To view the final rule that will soon publish in the Federal Register, visit the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/poultryinspection.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Source: usda.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:50:13 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54435-usda-announces-additional-food-safety-requirements-new-inspection-system-for-poultry-products.html
Senator Jack Reed Introduces Legislation to Combat Nationwide Overdose Crisis http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54434-senator-jack-reed-introduces-legislation-to-combat-nationwide-overdose-crisis.html Federal Legislation Would Support Expansion of Overdose Prevention Services and Fund Naloxone Access; Accidental Overdose Fatalities Across the Nation Have Nearly Tripled Since 2000

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—July 31, 2014. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Overdose Prevention Act today with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The legislation supports community-based efforts to prevent fatal drug overdoses from opioid pain medications, heroin and other drugs. The Overdose Prevention Act is being introduced as a Senate companion to the Stop Overdose Stat (S.O.S.) Act (H.R. 4169), which was authored earlier this year by Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD).

“We can’t let more young people fall victim to heroin and opioid abuse.  This is a serious public health and safety problem in Rhode Island and communities across the country.  A lot of cities and towns don’t want to admit it, but this is a growing problem that cuts across social and economic boundaries and we need to take action or it will continue to get worse,” warned Senator Jack Reed.  “The Overdose Prevention Act will establish a comprehensive national response to this epidemic.  It emphasizes collaboration between state and federal officials and employs best practices from the medical community.  And it invests in programs and treatments that have been proven effective to combat this startling national trend.  This is an emergency and it requires a coordinated and comprehensive response.  The Overdose Prevention Act brings together first responders, medical personnel, addiction treatment specialists, social service providers, and families to help save lives and get at the root of this problem,” said Senator Reed.

"Earlier this year, I reintroduced the Stop Overdose Stat (S.O.S) Act to help support community-based efforts and increase the availability of naloxone to help prevent fatal drug overdoses.  Nationwide, we are seeing an increase in the overdose epidemic, and the traumatic toll it is taking on families, friends, and local communities.  I thank Sen. Jack Reed (RI-D) for his introduction of the Overdose Prevention Act in the Senate, making this a bicameral effort.  With this legislation, we have an opportunity to make a real difference in treating and preventing overdose, and ultimately saving lives.  I hope that we can act on this legislation immediately," said Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD).

“Overdose prevention programs help reduce overdose deaths by increasing the use of lifesaving naloxone kits and improving public awareness of overdose risks,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. "Congress should make overdose prevention a priority. Countless families across the country could be spared from enduring the heart-wrenching loss of a loved one to an overdose.”    

Since 2000, accidental overdoses deaths have nearly tripled nationwide, claiming more than 33,000 lives in 2011 (the latest year data is available). Newly released federal health data found that unintentional overdose deaths increased by more than 9 percent between 2010 and 2011. In this same timeframe, the Washington Post recently reported that overdoses from heroin jumped more than 45 percent. Fatal overdoses from prescribed opioid pain medications such as oxycodone account for more than 55 percent of all overdose deaths. People aged 25 to 64 are now more likely to die as a result of a drug overdose than from injuries sustained in motor vehicle traffic crashes. The CDC estimates that more than 100 fatal overdoses occur in the U.S. every day.

The Overdose Prevention Act supports the expansion of community-based overdose prevention programs that provide resources to people such as first responders and family members who are likely to witness an overdose and be in a position to help. Program-based resources include trainings on how to recognize the signs of an overdose, seek emergency medical help, and administer naloxone and other first aid. The Overdose Prevention Act also provides federal funding for the purchase and distribution of naloxone by community and government stakeholders to people at risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose.  In addition, the Overdose Prevention Act implements measures that would enhance public awareness of overdose risk and enhances overdose surveillance and federal research capabilities.

Naloxone is a medication that quickly reverses an overdose from heroin and opioid pain medications. The use of naloxone as an overdose reversal medication has recently been profiled in USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN and other media outlets. Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a Department of Justice memo urging federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip personnel who may interact with a victim of an opiate overdose with naloxone.

Despite recognition among federal lawmakers and health authorities that overdose prevention programs are highly effective at saving lives at low-cost to taxpayers, few federal dollars are dedicated to supporting these critical programs. A study funded by the CDC and released last year found that expanding access to naloxone and overdose prevention activities are effective at reducing deaths from opioid overdoses. A CDC report issued in 2012 credits overdose prevention programs with saving more than 10,000 lives since 1996.

The Overdose Prevention Act has received support from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, Drug Policy Alliance, Harm Reduction Coalition, Trust for America’s Health and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

Source: www.drugpolicy.org

Related Article:

Attorney General Holder Announces Plans for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel to Begin Carrying Naloxone

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:47:38 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54434-senator-jack-reed-introduces-legislation-to-combat-nationwide-overdose-crisis.html
As West Africa Ebola Outbreak Worsens, CDC Issues Level 3 Travel Warning http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54428-as-west-africa-ebola-outbreak-worsens-cdc-issues-level-3-travel-warning.html CDC surge scaling up response in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia

Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued a warning to avoid nonessential travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. This Level 3 travel warning is a reflection of the worsening Ebola outbreak in this region.

CDC is rapidly increasing its ongoing efforts in the three nations. CDC disease detectives and other staff are on the ground:

Tracking the epidemic including using real-time data to improve response

Improving case finding

Improving contact tracing

Improving infection control

Improving health communication

Advising embassies

Coordinating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners

Strengthening Ministries of Health and helping them establish emergency management systems

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days.”

CDC expects its efforts not only to help bring the current outbreak under control, but to leave behind stronger systems to prevent, detect and stop Ebola and other outbreaks before they spread.

In addition to warning travelers to avoid going to the region, CDC is also assisting with active screening and education efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. On the remote possibility that they do, CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease. These include notification to CDC of ill passengers on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, quarantine. CDC also provides guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. Earlier this week, CDC issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.

At this time, CDC and its partners at points of entry are not screening passengers traveling from the affected countries. It is important to note that Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, and that transmission is through direct contact of bodily fluids of an infected, symptomatic person or exposure to objects like needles that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Over the next five years the United States has committed to working with at least 30 partner countries (totaling at least 4 billion people) to improve their ability to prevent, detect, and effectively respond to infectious disease threats -- whether naturally occurring or caused by accidental or intentional release of pathogens.

Improving these capabilities for each nation improves health security for all nations. Stopping outbreaks where they occur is the most effective and least expensive way to protect people’s health.

The President’s FY 2015 budget includes a request of $45 million to fund this global health security effort.

Source: cdc.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:51:29 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54428-as-west-africa-ebola-outbreak-worsens-cdc-issues-level-3-travel-warning.html
Brennan Center for Justice: Wisconsin Supreme Court Wrong to Uphold Photo ID http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54425-brennan-center-for-justice-wisconsin-supreme-court-wrong-to-uphold-photo-id.html NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Today, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, in two separate cases, ruled the state’s photo ID law does not violate the state constitution, but changed a provision that would allow voters to get an ID for free.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law issued the following statement from Democracy Program Deputy Director Myrna Pérez:

“We are disappointed in today’s decision. A federal judge blocked this law in April because it places unconstitutional barriers on voting and makes it harder for certain citizens to cast ballots. Today’s decision does nothing to change that, and the ID requirement will still not be in effect. Importantly, the state court changed the law to prohibit requiring voters to provide underlying documentation, such as a birth certificate, needed to get a free ID, if voters would have to pay for that documentation. We will be watching closely to see if the state follows through. In the 21st century, we need a voting system that works well for everyone, and tolerates discrimination against no one. Although we are disappointed in the court’s decision, we remain hopeful this law will never make it on the books.”

There are two key takeaways from today’s rulings: First, the court only held the photo ID law did not violate the state constitution. The law still cannot go into effect because it violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. Second, the court made clear that access to the polls cannot depend on a voter’s ability to pay. The court is requiring the state to change the law so voters cannot be forced to pay for the documents they would need to get an ID.

This case is one of seven major voting cases the Brennan Center is watching this year. See all of our State of Voting in 2014 resources.

Source: www.brennancenter.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:42:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54425-brennan-center-for-justice-wisconsin-supreme-court-wrong-to-uphold-photo-id.html
Lawsuit Seeks to Halt Construction of U.S. Military Airstrip in Japan That Would Destroy Habitat of Endangered Okinawa Dugongs http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54424-lawsuit-seeks-to-halt-construction-of-u-s-military-airstrip-in-japan-that-would-destroy-habitat-of-endangered-okinawa-dugongs.html Marine base threatens survival of manatee relative

A dugong swims in the ocean.

Dugongs are gentle marine mammals related to manatees and have been celebrated as “sirens” that bring friendly warnings of tsunamis. Recent surveys have only been able to conclude that at least three dugongs remain in Okinawa.

San Francisco, CA--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  American and Japanese conservation groups today asked a U.S. federal court to halt construction of a U.S. military airstrip in Okinawa, Japan that would pave over some of the last remaining habitat for endangered Okinawa dugongs, ancient cultural icons for the Okinawan people. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is the latest in a long-running controversy over the expansion of a U.S. Marine air base at Okinawa’s Henoko Bay. Preliminary construction on the base began earlier this year.

Dugongs are gentle marine mammals related to manatees that have long been revered by native Okinawans, even celebrated as “sirens” that bring friendly warnings of tsunamis. The dugong is listed as an object of national cultural significance under Japan’s Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, the equivalent of the U.S. National Historic Protection Act. Under this act and international law, the United States must take into account the effect of its actions and avoid or mitigate any harm to places or things of cultural significance to another country.

“Our folktales tell us that gods from Niraikanai [afar] come to our islands riding on the backs of dugongs and the dugongs ensure the abundance of food from the sea,” said Takuma Higashionna, an Okinawan scuba-diving guide who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Today, leaving their feeding trails in the construction site, I believe, our dugongs are warning us that this sea will no longer provide us with such abundance if the base is constructed. The U.S. government must realize that the Okinawa dugong is a treasure for Okinawa and for the world.”

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has listed dugongs as “critically endangered,” and the animals are also on the U.S. endangered species list. In 1997, it was estimated that there may have been as few as 50 Okinawa dugongs left in the world; more recent surveys have only been able to conclude that at least three dugongs remain in Okinawa. Although the Defense Department acknowledges that this information is “not sufficient,” and despite the precariously low dugong population even under the most conservative estimates, the Defense Department has authorized construction of the new base.

The Nature Conservation Society of Japan reported earlier this month that it had found more than 110 locations around the site of the proposed airstrips where dugongs had fed on seagrass this spring and summer.

“Okinawa dugongs can only live in shallow waters and are at high risk of going extinct. These gentle animals are adored by both locals and tourists. Paving over some of the last places they survive will not only likely be a death sentence for them, it will be a deep cultural loss for the Okinawan people,” said Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Today’s legal filing, which supplements a suit filed in 2003, seeks to require the U.S. Department of Defense to stop construction activities on the new airstrip until it conducts an in-depth analysis aimed at avoiding or mitigating harm the expansion will cause for the Okinawa dugong. In April 2014, the Defense Department concluded that its activities would not harm the dugong, but that conclusion did not consider all possible effects of the new airstrip and ignored important facts. In addition, the department excluded the public, including local dugong experts, from its analysis.

For years, many locals have protested and opposed the base-expansion plan for Okinawa, where 20 percent of the island is already occupied by U.S. military.

Today’s lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the U.S. organizations Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network; the Japanese organizations Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation and the Save the Dugong Foundation; and three Japanese individuals.

“Basic respect demands that the United States make every effort not to harm another country’s cultural heritage. U.S. and international law require the same,” said Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner. “The Defense Department should not allow this project to go forward without making every effort to understand and minimize its effects on the dugong. That means fully understanding the state of the entire Okinawan dugong population, how it depends on the seagrass beds around the proposed airstrip, and how construction and operation of the base might harm it. To ensure that no relevant information is excluded, the process and all related information must be fully open to the public.”

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: http://earthjustice.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:38:11 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54424-lawsuit-seeks-to-halt-construction-of-u-s-military-airstrip-in-japan-that-would-destroy-habitat-of-endangered-okinawa-dugongs.html
Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54423-ash-in-lungs-how-breathing-coal-ash-is-hazardous-to-your-health.html New report details the threats of coal ash dust for nearby communities and workers

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK.

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK.

Washington, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Breathing coal ash dust can trigger asthma attacks, lead to cancer and lung disease and other serious health problems according to a new report released today by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Earthjustice. 

Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health,” details yet another danger of unregulated and unmonitored coal ash dumping. In February, a storm drain beneath a coal ash pond in North Carolina ruptured, sending 140,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. In 2008, a coal ash dam burst in Kingston, Tennessee, spewing more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash across 300 acres, damaging 40 homes and poisoning two rivers. At least 207 sites nationwide have had some coal ash polluting nearby lakes streams, rivers and drinking water supplies, including recent contamination in Florida and Kentucky.

Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health
Despite the threat, no federal requirements exist to control fugitive toxic dust. Read the report »

But coal ash pollution is not limited to poisoning water. Coal ash dust is small particle pollution; the smaller the particle, the greater the risk. The very smallest particles are inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs where they trigger inflammation and immunological reactions, according to the report. Dust from coal ash landfills and uncovered trucks carrying coal ash blows into nearby communities, putting lives at risk.

“Breathing toxic coal ash dust can lead to disease and even death,” said Dr. Alan Lockwood, co-author of the report and emeritus professor of neurology at the University of Buffalo and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This is a dangerous pollutant that not only damages the respiratory system, but even increases the rate of heart attacks and strokes.”

Silica exposure via coal ash (which can lead to silicosis, a scarring of the lung tissue), exposure to radioactive materials present in coal ash dust and exposure to mercury and hydrogen sulfide are all possible when breathing coal ash dust. Workers at power plants and coal ash dumpsites are also exposed to these dangerous pollutants.

“Coal ash contaminating water supplies is well known,” said Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel at Earthjustice, and co-author of the report. “Our report details another danger of unregulated coal ash waste. Breathing dust can cause disease and drastically decrease the quality of life for communities along the fenceline of coal ash dump sites. We know coal ash is poisoning our water, and now we also know that it’s poisoning our air as well.”

Despite the threat, no federal requirements exist to control fugitive toxic dust. A survey of the top 37 coal ash generating states in the U.S. found that less than half of them mandate dust controls at coal ash landfills, and only a single state (Pennsylvania) requires dust controls at coal ash ponds. The report highlights six communities poisoned by coal ash dust.

Four million tons of coal ash from the 2008 TVA Kingston disaster in Tennessee was shipped to a landfill in Uniontown, Alabama, from 2009–2010. Nearby residents experience respiratory illnesses, nausea, headaches, dizziness and complain of coal ash dust blanketing their homes and cars.

At the Moapa River Indian Reservation, coal ash dust from Nevada Energy’s Reid Gardner Power Station moves like a sandstorm across the dry desert into the heart of the reservation. Tribal leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiutes tell of health problems including burning skin, sore throats, hyperthyroidism, heart problems and asthma.

A screened fence along the Cane Run Generating Station coal ash dump in Louisville, Kentucky, can’t keep the toxic dust from blowing off a five-story-tall mountain of coal ash onto a nearby community of 400 residents.

In Chesapeake, Virginia, a golf course was designed to dispose of 1.5 million tons of coal ash from Dominion Virginia Power. Construction of the course sent clouds of black dust onto workers and nearby homes. One worker said, “It was clear that a golf course wasn’t being built. It was a coal ash dump.”

A “volcano” of coal ash in La Belle, Pennsylvania, plagues nearby residents with blowing dust. The dump site may get even bigger as First Energy has proposed to send more than 3 million tons of additional coal ash to the site every year, beginning in 2016.

The Navajo Nation hosts the biggest power plant in the West—the Arizona Public Service (APS) Four Corners Power Plant in Fruitland, New Mexico. APS has dumped approximately 30 million tons of coal ash into ponds on the reservation that dry rapidly and blow across the reservation, 25 percent of which is still without electric power.

The authors write that despite the obvious health risks to communities living near coal ash dump sites, no federal regulation regarding the storage and disposal of this toxic waste exists. The EPA proposed coal ash regulations in 2010, but has not yet finalized the rule. Earthjustice, on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environmental Integrity Project, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Montana Environmental Information Center, Prairie Rivers Network, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Western north Carolina Alliance, sued the EPA in federal court for its failure to follow the law and propose coal ash regulations in a timely manner. As a result of that lawsuit, the EPA will finalize the nation’s first federal coal ash regulations by December 19, 2014.

“Federal regulations for coal ash can’t come soon enough,” Evans said. “Whether it’s a catastrophic spill, a slow poisoning of nearby waters or the dust blowing from these sites, coal ash contaminates our lives in too many ways. Nearby communities deserve safeguards that protect their health and the environment.”

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: http://earthjustice.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:36:02 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54423-ash-in-lungs-how-breathing-coal-ash-is-hazardous-to-your-health.html
Senator Durbin Joins Donnelly, Kirk and Great Lakes Senators Urging Action on Asian Carp Threat http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54420-senator-durbin-joins-donnelly-kirk-and-great-lakes-senators-urging-action-on-asian-carp-threat.html Stress importance of regional stakeholders finding common ground on efforts to prevent spread of invasive specie

WASHINGTON, DC.--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Today, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with other Great Lakes Senators, sent a letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality Asian Carp Director John Goss expressing their continued commitment to practical, immediate solutions to the threat of Asian carp and other invasive species to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin.

“While disagreements about prevention measures remain, the Asian carp threat persists, and urgent action is needed. The immediate path forward should include a set of short- and medium-term actions, which should be able to garner regional consensus more readily to strengthen protection for the Great Lakes,” the Senators wrote. “As the Asian Carp Director, we ask for your leadership to help guide a productive dialogue among all impacted stakeholders that includes a focus on practical, immediate solutions with broad support across all impacted stakeholders.”

U.S. Senators Dan Coats (R-IN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also joined in signing the letter.

The Great Lakes Senators requested Director Goss’s assistance in urging the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee to make recommendations for short and medium term solutions to safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species as soon as possible. The Advisory Committee is currently working with stakeholders in the region to identify solutions acceptable to all.

Full text of the letter is below. For a signed copy of the letter, click here.

July 31, 2014

Mr. John Goss
Asian Carp Director
White House Council on Environmental Quality
722 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Mr. Goss:

We are writing in regard to the Army Corp of Engineers (Army Corps) Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). As Senators from Great Lakes states, we are committed to protecting these precious natural resources and appreciate the opportunity to engage with you to develop solutions to prevent the spread of Asian carp into these waters.

Authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, GLMRIS was intended to identify a range of options to prevent the transfer of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basins. As you know, the report released by the Army Corps on January 6, 2014, included several near-term alternatives, as well as more complex, multi-billion dollar, long-term projects, which continue to be debated.

While disagreements about prevention measures remain, the Asian carp threat persists, and urgent action is needed. The immediate path forward should include a set of short- and medium-term actions, which should be able to garner regional consensus more readily to strengthen protection for the Great Lakes. To facilitate this effort, we understand the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee is working with regional stakeholders to identify common ground regarding short-, medium-, and long-term efforts to safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species.

We look forward to hearing from the Advisory Committee on their recommendations.  As the Asian Carp Director, we ask for your leadership to help guide a productive dialogue among all impacted stakeholders that includes a focus on practical, immediate solutions with broad support across all impacted stakeholders. We also ask for your leadership in encouraging the Advisory Committee to make recommendations as soon as possible, in particular regarding the short- and medium-term technologically feasible actions that maintain commercial navigation and recreational boating, preserve the integrity of existing flood control systems, protect water quality, and enjoy broad support.  We also ask for your continued support in making progress toward identifying the best long-term solutions.

We appreciate the significant role you have played in leading the Asian carp management strategy over the past several years and look forward to continuing to work with you to protect the Great Lakes and the environment.


U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-IN)
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Source: dubin.senate.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:20:51 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54420-senator-durbin-joins-donnelly-kirk-and-great-lakes-senators-urging-action-on-asian-carp-threat.html
Pelosi, Seniors Task Force Celebrate 49th Anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54419-pelosi-seniors-task-force-celebrate-49th-anniversary-of-medicare-medicaid.html

Washington, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  On Wednesday, Members of the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force celebrated the 49th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid by heralding recent efforts to strengthen these programs, and promising to fight efforts to roll back program benefits.  Signed into law on July 30, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Medicare and Medicare provide nearly 117 million elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans – including more than 26 million children – with health insurance that would otherwise be out of reach.  Joined by more than 50 seniors and members of the Medicare/Medicaid community, Seniors Task Force Members pledged to protect and strengthen the programs for generations to come.

“Medicare is a bedrock promise to our nation’s seniors: that after a lifetime of work, Americans can count on the stability of reliable, affordable, high-quality health insurance,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  “As we mark Medicare’s 49th birthday, the Affordable Care Act is continuing to build a healthier and stronger future for our seniors by improving the quality of care and lowering costs.  While Democrats work to strengthen and protect Medicare and Medicaid for generations to come, Republicans are fighting to end the Medicare guarantee and to slash and block grant Medicaid.”

“The 49th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid gives us a lot to celebrate.  Together, these vital programs serve more than 115 million elderly, disabled, children and low income Americans – providing long-term services and preventing medical bankruptcies.  Through the Affordable Care Act we have strengthened both programs.  In the face of Republican threats to cut these landmark programs we will continue to do everything necessary to protect Medicare and Medicaid for sake of our seniors and for future generations,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

“When President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law 49 years ago today, it guaranteed that older Americans would have access to the quality care they need, regardless of their health status or income.  My Democratic colleagues and I are committed to keeping these lifesaving programs strong for generations to come.  This includes preserving the Affordable Care Act, which strengthens Medicare, and fighting against efforts to cut benefits and shift costs to seniors and their families.  The stakes for America’s seniors, and future generations, are too great not to act,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui.

Source: schakowsky.house.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:17:46 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54419-pelosi-seniors-task-force-celebrate-49th-anniversary-of-medicare-medicaid.html
FDA Approves Striverdi Respimat to Treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54418-fda-approves-striverdi-respimat-to-treat-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease.html Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Striverdi Respimat (olodaterol) inhalation spray to treat patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema that are experiencing airflow obstruction. Striverdi Respimat can be used once daily over a long period of time.

COPD is a serious lung disease that makes breathing difficult and worsens over time. Symptoms can include wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

“The availability of this new long-term maintenance medication provides an additional treatment options for the millions of Americans who suffer with COPD,” said Curtis Rosebraugh, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Striverdi Respimat is a long-acting beta-adrenergic agonist (LABA) that helps the muscles around the airways in the lungs stay relaxed to prevent symptoms. The safety and effectiveness of Striverdi Respimat was evaluated in 3,104 people diagnosed with COPD. People who received Striverdi Respimat showed improved lung function compared to placebo.

The drug carries a boxed warning that LABAs increase the risk of asthma-related death. The safety and effectiveness of Striverdi Respimat in people with asthma has not been established and it is not approved to treat asthma. Striverdi Respimat should not be used as a rescue therapy to treat sudden breathing problems (acute bronchospasm).

Striverdi Respimat should not be used in patients with acutely deteriorating COPD and may cause serious side effects, including narrowing and obstruction of the respiratory airway (paradoxical bronchospasm) and cardiovascular effects.

The FDA approved Striverdi Respimat with a patient medication guide that includes instructions for use and information about the potential risks of taking the drug. 

The most common side effects reported by people using Striverdi Respimat in the clinical study were nasopharyngitis (runny nose), upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, urinary tract infection, dizziness, rash, diarrhea, back pain and arthralgia (joint pain).

Striverdi Respimat is distributed by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:15:23 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54418-fda-approves-striverdi-respimat-to-treat-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease.html
Bill O’Reilly Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Marijuana Legalization http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54417-bill-o-reilly-poll-shows-overwhelming-support-for-marijuana-legalization.html

OREGON--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  I’m not the biggest fan of Bill O’Reilly. He is very good at what he does, which is preach to his choir and get them fired up about stuff that ‘conservatives’ care about. But he usually covers issues and takes stances that most Americans don’t agree with. Lately he has been on an anti-marijuana crusade, dedicating a significant amount of time on his show bashing marijuana.

This week he posted a poll on his website asking his fans if they support marijuana legalization or not. Unfortunately for Mr. O’Reilly and his marijuana hating friends, the poll results were not favorable for them. Per Marijuana.Com:

The poll’s purpose was, in O’Reilly’s pipe dream world, to facilitate an extremely negative response and then to air a segment on The O’Reilly Factor derailing cannabis legalization (like he did Monday night). By polling his own audience, O’Reilly and his team could paint a delusional picture, but one supported by “data.”

And at first, it worked. 81% of the initial voters responded with a resolute “No.”

Then, the internet caught wind of the poll, made it go viral in the cannabis community, and worked its cannabis magic.

The poll results can no longer be viewed, which is unfortunate. Rather than let the results speak for themselves, the staff at Bill O’Reilly’s show would rather censor the results so that Mr. O’Reilly can stay on his reefer madness soapbox and keep spreading his propaganda. Below is a graphic that indicates how the poll was going prior to the results being hidden. I think it speaks for itself:

o'reilly poll marijuana

About the Author:

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: http://www.theweedblog.com

g@turningleft.net (Johnny Green) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:13:20 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54417-bill-o-reilly-poll-shows-overwhelming-support-for-marijuana-legalization.html
SEIU: President Obama Steps Up for Workers by Holding Federal Contractors Accountable to Wage and Safety Standards http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54416-seiu-president-obama-steps-up-for-workers-by-holding-federal-contractors-accountable-to-wage-and-safety-standards.html WASHINGTON, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Following President Obama's announcement of an executive order relating to monitoring and reforming the performance of government contractors, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

"By signing this executive order, President Obama has demonstrated his continued commitment to protecting the rights of American workers. This action will help protect the wages and lives of millions of Americans by giving the government tools to identify and fix workplace violations committed by companies that hold federal contracts. President Obama is right to use his authority to ensure that the federal government leads in the fight for good jobs, protects taxpayer dollars and makes sure the government gets good value for the goods and services it purchases.

"Holding contractors to basic labor standards not only ensures that the federal government is getting the proper value for its dollar, it will protect responsible contractors in the marketplace from unfair competition by unethical employers who profit from their violations of the labor and employment laws that all employers are required to respect.

"The current system doesn't do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars only go to responsible employers. It's difficult to know about a company's record of compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and others laws that protect working families. That's why President Obama's action today is so important. With more than 20 percent of Americans working for companies that do business with the federal government, this executive order will have a real impact on the lives of workers.

"As workers around the country stand up to demand a living wage and a union, President Obama is doing his part to make sure corporations treat their workers with the respect they deserve. Our economy won't work for everyone if taxpayer dollars flow to companies that steal wages or create unsafe conditions for their workers."

Source: seiu.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:07:59 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54416-seiu-president-obama-steps-up-for-workers-by-holding-federal-contractors-accountable-to-wage-and-safety-standards.html
U.S. Department of Transportation Issues New Standards to Improve Safety of Lithium Battery Transportation http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54410-u-s-department-of-transportation-issues-new-standards-to-improve-safety-of-lithium-battery-transportation.html WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued new standards to strengthen safety conditions for the shipment of lithium cells and batteries. These changes, some of which focus specifically on shipments by air, will better ensure that lithium cells and batteries are able to withstand normal transportation conditions and are packaged to reduce the possibility of damage that could lead to an unsafe situation.

“Safety is our number one priority, and this rule provides an additional layer of protection to the shipment of lithium batteries, which we all depend on daily to power our phones and our laptops,”  said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s standards are part of our ongoing work to improve safety for all travelers, including those who travel with or ship lithium batteries.”

The Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) developed this rule in close coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Voluntary compliance is encouraged upon publication of the final rule; however mandatory compliance is effective six months after publication.

The rule will also provide a greater level of consistency with international standards, including the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by air.

“Our continuing efforts to harmonize U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations with international standards improve consistency in procedures and terminology when shipping lithium batteries around the globe,” noted PHMSA Administrator Cynthia L. Quarterman.

The final rule will:

Enhance packaging and hazard communication requirements for lithium batteries transported by air;

Replace equivalent lithium content with Watt-hours for lithium ion cells and batteries;

Adopt separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal batteries and lithium ion batteries;

Revise provisions for the transport of small and medium lithium cells and batteries including cells and batteries packed with, or contained in, equipment;

Revise the requirements for the transport of lithium batteries for disposal or recycling;

Harmonize the provisions for the transport of low production and prototype lithium cells and batteries with the ICAO Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code; and

Adopt new provisions for the transport of damaged, defective, and recalled lithium batteries.

Click here for a copy of the final.

PHMSA develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly one million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. Please visit www.phmsa.dot.gov for more information.

Source: dot.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:48:29 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54410-u-s-department-of-transportation-issues-new-standards-to-improve-safety-of-lithium-battery-transportation.html
Environmental, Landowner and Consumer Groups Ask State Department to Revise its Market Analysis of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54408-environmental-landowner-and-consumer-groups-ask-state-department-to-revise-its-market-analysis-of-the-keystone-xl-tar-sands-pipeline.html Groups demand pipeline decision include new evidence

WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Today, 12 environmental, landowner and consumer organizations asked the State Department to consider recent developments that highlight Keystone XL’s critical role in enabling tar sands expansion in its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

In their letter, the groups argue that new evidence shows that Keystone XL will have significant climate impacts. “Several highly publicized developments in recent months have clearly demonstrated that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline would expand the tar sands industry and significantly contribute to climate change,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, Climate and energy associate at Friends of the Earth. “It is crucial that recent market realities be considered to ensure an informed and responsible decision.”

Last month, the State Department published a revised report that updated statistics on projected deaths risked by increasing traffic of crude by rail. “This revision ignored substantial new evidence that rail hasn’t proved a feasible substitute for pipelines for tar sands producers,” said Anthony Swift, staff attorney and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “and that’s why we’re seeing tar sands producers pulling the plug on new projects rather than pivot toward rail. Their costs are already too high and rail is too expensive.”

Landowners in Nebraska are especially impacted by the current flawed analysis."Without pipelines like Keystone XL, tar sands can simply not expand to the levels the State Department predicts,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska. “The model is flawed and we ask on behalf of farmers and ranchers whose land is in the path of this risky, carbon-heavy tar sands that we get it right before so much wrong happens to our land and water.”

In last year’s historic Georgetown University speech, President Obama promised that his decision on Keystone XL would be based on a climate test. Recent evidence from the tar sands industry further confirms that the approval of Keystone XL is crucial for tar sands development. "It's clear that Keystone XL fails President Obama's climate test," said Michael Bosse of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil Campaign. "What's more, America doesn't need another dirty, dangerous tar sands pipeline spewing toxic oil into our neighborhoods, communities, and drinking water. The State Department's final report must rely on established facts, not twisted half-truths. The sooner we get tar sands crude behind us, the sooner our nation can get to work creating real prosperity with clean energy.”

Another development on Keystone XL is that since the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was released TransCanada’s permits in South Dakota have expired. “In early 2009, when TransCanada applied to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the Keystone XL permit, the request was largely based on a perceived need for the pipeline. US demand for oil was growing at around 1.5% a year and domestic production was declining,” said Paul Seamans, Board Chair of Dakota Rural Action and landowner crossed by the Keystone XL pipeline route. “These two situations have since flip-flopped, US demand is now decreasing around 1% per year and the US is on track to be the world’s largest oil producer. This brings into question even the need for the Keystone XL. Dakota Rural Action will be stressing this point at any Keystone XL certification hearings held by the PUC, and will be pushing the PUC to deny the certification of TransCanada's permit.”

The State Department must consider the latest developments when it decides whether Keystone XL is in the national interest.


Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:43:57 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54408-environmental-landowner-and-consumer-groups-ask-state-department-to-revise-its-market-analysis-of-the-keystone-xl-tar-sands-pipeline.html
Report Highlights the Importance of Kurdish Political Groups in Combating Threats Including ISIS http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54407-report-highlights-the-importance-of-kurdish-political-groups-in-combating-threats-including-isis.html Washington, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  As centralized political power continues to erode in Iraq and Syria amid ongoing civil war and the rise of violent jihadi groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, the influence of Kurdish political and military actors in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria will only grow in importance. These Kurdish groups have, separately, maintained governance in northern Iraq and carved out autonomous enclaves in northern Syria that are increasingly seen as an important bulwark against the spread of groups such as ISIS.

In a new report , “The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions: The Peace Process in Context,” Senior Fellow Michael Werz and Policy Analyst Max Hoffman of the Center for American Progress analyze the political landscape along Turkey’s southern border and recommend a reinvigoration of Turkey’s peace process with its own Kurdish insurgents and a re-evaluation of U.S. policy toward Kurdish political groups in Iraq and Syria.

“As the conflicts in Iraq and Syria continue to devolve, the political and military forces found in these autonomous Kurdish regions have helped to counter the spread of radical groups such as ISIS,” said Werz. “The situation highlights the need for the United States and its ally, Turkey, to seek new partners in the effort to stem the spillover effects of the chaos in Syria and Iraq. These Kurdish political groups, while not yet united, offer new and potent allies in the search for regional stability.”

For the United States, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. The report includes recommendations for how the United States could positively affect the trajectory of the peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK; the civil war in Syria; and the security situation in Iraq and help insulate Turkey against the spread of regional turmoil.

Click here to read the report.

Source: http://www.americanprogress.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:41:31 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54407-report-highlights-the-importance-of-kurdish-political-groups-in-combating-threats-including-isis.html
Research Shows Invertebrates and Common Marine Birds in Serious Decline http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54405-research-shows-invertebrates-and-common-marine-birds-in-serious-decline.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Scientific researchers on opposite sides of the globe are coming to the same startling conclusion concerning very different species: what was once abundant is no longer and slipping away at drastic rates.

Common Declines1stJoshuaSpiesLongtailedDuck033_jpg

In the Pacific Northwest, a partnership of government scientists and environmental organizations have taken to the water to collect data on populations of certain species of marine birds. Unlike most research that focuses on threatened or endangered species, however, this census targets birds like marbled murrelets, common murres, and long-tailed ducks —thought to be commonplace and abundant.

Thoughts have changed. Population counts from 2014 show these “common” species are in decline, and in several cases, steep decline. For example, population counts for the common loon have decreased from 1978/1979 by 64 percent, scoters by 77 percent, long-tailed ducks by 94 percent and western grebes by a scary 99 percent. Other species in general decline include the marbled murrelet, common murre, and glaucous-winged gull.

On a different continent, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conducted a wide swath of international scientific research and advocacy efforts targeting environmental and species monitoring and conservation. And much like the Pacific Northwest, recent studies assessing different categories of invertebrates —animals without backbones like insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, and worms— are showing steep declines.

“Globally, long-term monitoring data on a sample of 452 invertebrate species indicate that there has been an overall decline in abundance of individuals since 1970,” the scientists told The Independent. These findings echo other studies, based on numbers of individuals, that found invertebrates overall had declined by 45 percent since the 1970s.

“We were shocked to find similar losses in invertebrates as with larger animals, as we previously thought invertebrates to be more resilient,” said Ben Collen, PhD of University College London, a co-author of the study published in Science.

Common Concerns and Causes

In both instances, concerns and questions over the ecosystem impacts and potential causes abound. While both reports emphasize a need to continue research to determine causes, scientists also note that the cause may not be any one activity or problem, but a global system shift and failure.

For example, in the Pacific Northwest, researchers suspect that reduced levels of herring —a main source of food for marine ecosystems— in the Puget Sound have caused the migration and population declines of many of the marine birds studied. Yet, much like the birds, causes for declines in herring populations are difficult to pinpoint and run the gamut from industrial fishing to toxic contamination of waters.

Evidence surrounding the individual species decline of honey bees would support the systems failure theory. Extensive research to determine the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder points not only to toxic contamination through a broad spectrum of pesticides and toxins, but also habitat destruction through development and industrial agriculture practices.

Common Solutions

Although global systems failures impacting ecosystems big and small may seem insurmountable, there are many things that can be done to take steps toward a solution. Eating organic is one. Because organic standards require a systems approach that takes into consideration both health and ecosystem impacts, every time you buy and eat organic, you are supporting a move away from toxic and destructive industrial agricultural practices that improve environmental and habitat conditions everywhere. Supporting efforts to protect bees is another step. Visit our BEE Protective webpage to learn how you can write to your government representatives or establish a pesticide free zone. Every little bit counts and can help to curb the decline of species and ecosystems across the globe.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: The Seattle Times; The Independent, http://www.beyondpesticides.org

Photo Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:36:14 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54405-research-shows-invertebrates-and-common-marine-birds-in-serious-decline.html
Energy Department Conditionally Authorizes Oregon LNG to Export Liquefied Natural Gas http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54404-energy-department-conditionally-authorizes-oregon-lng-to-export-liquefied-natural-gas.html WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)—July 31, 2014. The Energy Department announced today that it has conditionally authorized LNG Development Co., LLC (Oregon LNG) to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, from the Oregon LNG Terminal in Warrenton, Oregon. The Oregon LNG application was next in the order of precedence and review of the application was initiated before the Department issued the recent proposed procedural change.  Subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval, the facility is conditionally authorized to export at a rate of up to the equivalent of 1.25 billion standard cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, for a period of 20 years.

The development of U.S. natural gas resources is having a transformative impact on the U.S. energy landscape, helping to improve our energy security while spurring economic development and job creation around the country.  This increase in domestic natural gas production is expected to continue, with the Energy Information Administration forecasting a record production rate of 73.29 Bcf/d in 2014. However as part of the review process, the Department of Energy took into consideration indications from Oregon LNG  that the predominant amount of natural gas supply for export from the facilities would come from Canada, not the U.S.

Federal law generally requires approval of natural gas exports to countries that have an FTA with the United States. For countries that do not have an FTA with the United States, the Natural Gas Act directs the Department of Energy to grant export authorizations unless the Department finds that the proposed exports “will not be consistent with the public interest.”

The Energy Department conducted an extensive, careful review of the application to export LNG from the Oregon LNG Terminal.  Among other factors, the Department considered the economic, energy security, and environmental impacts - as well as public comments for and against the application and nearly 200,000 public comments related to the associated analysis of the cumulative impacts of increased LNG exports – and determined that exports from the terminal at a rate of up to 1.25 Bcf/d for a period of 20 years was not inconsistent with the public interest.

The full conditional authorization can be found HERE.

The Path Forward on LNG Export Applications

On May 29, 2014, the Department issued a Notice of Proposed Procedures for LNG Export Decisions for a 45-day public review and comment period.  After the Department concludes the review of comments received, a determination will be made on the proposed path forward.

Source: energy.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:34:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54404-energy-department-conditionally-authorizes-oregon-lng-to-export-liquefied-natural-gas.html
Governor Quinn Signs Law to Expand Health and Wellness Services in Communities Across Illinois http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54402-governor-quinn-signs-law-to-expand-health-and-wellness-services-in-communities-across-illinois.html New Steps Will Help Expand Access and Quality of Healthcare

CHICAGO--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law to expand health and wellness services in communities throughout Illinois. The law provides certification standards for community health workers to help bridge a vital link between healthcare providers and the unique needs of Illinois’ communities. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect and improve the health of the people of Illinois.

“Community health workers are trusted frontline public health professionals who have a close understanding of their communities’ needs,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law recognizes the vital role these professionals play in the health care system, and helps ensure the best possible delivery and quality of services in neighborhoods across our state.”

“With more people now able to access healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, if workforce shortages are not addressed, it could limit access to services and quality healthcare for all Illinoisans,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “Illinois is already experiencing workforce shortages with many safety net and rural health providers being challenged to deliver adequate care for those in their communities. Community health workers can help fill this void, connect people to services and higher-level health providers, which can ultimately increase the health of the state.”

House Bill 5412, sponsored by State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria), defines “community health worker” and creates the Illinois Community Health Worker Advisory Board to recommend certification requirements for these healthcare professionals to ensure quality care for Illinois’ residents. This 15-member volunteer board comprised of current community health workers, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals will recommend rules to standardize the criteria and process to become a certified community health worker. These workers do not provide any direct care or treatment that requires a license, but can be invaluable for linking specific health and wellness services to residents of individual communities.

The legislation was recommended in the Illinois Alliance for Health Innovation Plan in January. The Alliance was a state-led group of health policy leaders, providers, insurers and stakeholders assembled by the administration of Governor Quinn. The plan recognized the important contribution community health workers make to our healthcare system and recommended the legislation to ensure these workers all meet the same standards to provide the best services to Illinois residents. The law is effective immediately.

“This new law will help people in the community by creating a path for these workers to become respected members of the healthcare team,” Representative Gabel said. “Their role is critical because they help implement the patient’s healthcare plan, and help patients better understand their conditions to achieve a path of good health.”

“Community health workers have become an increasingly important part of our healthcare system,” Senator Koehler said. “It will help both the people working in these important jobs and the public to give community health workers legal recognition and to establish training requirements.”

Governor Quinn is committed to helping to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare in Illinois, especially those in underserved communities.

In May Governor Quinn announced a $14.5 million investment to build and renovate community health centers to help meet the healthcare demand in underserved communities throughout Illinois. A total of $30.5 million in funding from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program has been distributed since 2011 to community health centers. These centers fill a void by providing care for those whom other providers often do not serve, including the low income, uninsured or homeless; or those with HIV/AIDS, substance abuse problems or special medical needs.

The Governor also signed The Community Health Center Construction Act in 2009 to provide funding to repair outdated buildings, convert vacant commercial space, build new health center facilities and purchase new equipment for additional healthcare services.

Source: illinois.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:28:35 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54402-governor-quinn-signs-law-to-expand-health-and-wellness-services-in-communities-across-illinois.html
Attorney General Holder Announces Plans for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel to Begin Carrying Naloxone http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54400-attorney-general-holder-announces-plans-for-federal-law-enforcement-personnel-to-begin-carrying-naloxone.html Holder Cautions Congress to Preserve Immediate Suspension Orders (ISOs) That Help DEA Shut Down Rogue Drug Distributors

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—July 31, 2014. In a new memorandum to be released Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder urged federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip personnel who may interact with a victim of a heroin overdose with the drug naloxone.  This latest step by the Attorney General will pave the way for certain federal agents -- such as emergency medical personnel -- to begin carrying the potentially life-saving drug known for effectively restoring breathing to a victim in the midst of a heroin or opioid overdose.

According to the most recent study, 110 Americans on average die from drug overdoses every day, outnumbering even deaths from gunshot wounds or motor vehicle crashes.  More than half of these drug overdose deaths involve opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers.  Between 2006 and 2010, heroin overdose deaths dramatically increased by 45 percent.

“The shocking increase in overdose deaths illustrates that addiction to heroin and other opioids, including some prescription painkillers, represents nothing less than a public health crisis,” said Attorney General Holder.  “I am confident that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save the lives, families and futures of countless people across the nation.” 

The Justice Department wants federal law enforcement agencies, as well as their state and local partners, to review their policies and procedures to determine whether personnel in those agencies should be equipped and trained to recognize and respond to opioid overdose by various methods, including the use of naloxone.  Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in over 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.

“The heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic knows no boundaries--anyone can be affected, and we have already lost far too many lives,” said Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli.  “We have moved aggressively against this epidemic and we know that the actions of law enforcement officers at the scene of an overdose can mean the difference between life and death.  Attorney General Holder's leadership in this arena will help prevent future overdose deaths and we look forward to working closely with his office and other partners to get naloxone to law enforcement professionals across the nation. ”

As the department continues to address escalating and rapidly-evolving challenges that lead to opioid abuse and drug trafficking, the Attorney General cautioned members of Congress to protect critical enforcement tools like Immediate Suspension Orders (ISOs).  A recently passed House bill would “severely undermine” a critical component of our efforts to prevent communities and families from falling prey to dangerous drugs.

The Attorney General announced the new memorandum at a day-long conference on law enforcement and naloxone convened by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.   Today’s announcement follows up on the Attorney General’s call to action in March, when he urged local law enforcement authorities, who are often the first to respond to possible overdoses, to routinely carry naloxone.

The Attorney General’s full remarks to the law enforcement conference, as prepared for delivery appear below:

“Thank you, Mary Lou Leary, for those kind words – and thank you all for being here today.  I’d particularly like to thank Director Denise O’Donnell, Deputy Director Kristen Mahoney, and their colleagues from the Bureau of Justice Assistance – as well as Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli, Administrator Michele Leonhart, Deputy Assistant Administrator Joe Rannazzisi, and the dedicated men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration – for bringing us together this morning.  And I want to recognize all of the distinguished panelists – representing fields ranging from law enforcement, to public policy, to public health and drug treatment – who have taken the time to lend their voices to this important discussion.  Every day, you stand on the front lines of our fight to confront an urgent – and growing – threat to our nation and its citizens.  And we’re proud to count you as colleagues and partners.

“As the leaders in this room know all too well, in the five years between 2006 and 2010, this country witnessed a dramatic, 45-percent increase in heroin-related deaths.  And 110 people die every day from overdoses, primarily driven by prescription drugs.  The shocking increase in overdose deaths illustrates that addiction to heroin and other opioids, including some prescription painkillers, represents nothing less than a public health crisis.  It’s also a public safety crisis.  And every day, this crisis touches – and devastates – the lives of Americans from every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life.

“That’s why this Administration, and this Department of Justice in particular, have taken aggressive steps to fight back at every point of intervention – and with every tool at our disposal.  In recent years, we have worked to prevent opioid diversion and abuse by targeting the illegal supply chain, by disrupting pill mills, and by thwarting doctor-shopping attempts by drug users and distributors.  We have developed innovative public health programs to educate the public, to monitor the problem, and to rigorously enforce applicable federal laws.  And we have stepped up our investigatory efforts – opening more than 4,500 heroin-related investigations since 2011 and increasing the amount of heroin seized along America’s southwest border by 320 percent between 2008 and 2013.

“From our rigorous scrutiny of new pharmacy applications to prevent illicit storefront drug trafficking – to our sponsorship of “Drug Take Back” events that provide opportunities for safe and responsible prescription drug disposal – with your help and expert guidance, the department has pursued a comprehensive strategy to keep pharmaceutical controlled substances from falling into the hands of non-medical users.  We can all be proud of the steps forward we’ve taken, and the considerable results we’ve achieved, over the last few years alone.  But we continue to face escalating and rapidly-evolving challenges in our efforts to prevent opioid abuse and intercept illicit drugs. 

“These challenges illustrate the need to preserve important law enforcement tools like Immediate Suspension Orders, which allow DEA to immediately shut down irresponsible distributors, pharmacies, and rogue pain clinics that flood the market with pills prescribed by unethical or irresponsible doctors.  These Immediate Suspension Orders, or ISOs, are used to take action in instances where irresponsible behavior places the public at risk - and do so without interrupting the legitimate flow of prescription drugs or preventing patients from receiving necessary medications.

“Particularly now – at a time when our nation is facing a heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis – law enforcement tools like ISOs could not be more important.  And if Congress were to take them away, or weaken our ability to use them successfully, it would severely undermine a critical component of our efforts to prevent communities and families from falling prey to dangerous drugs.

“Of course, I recognize – as you do – that we cannot prevent every individual instance of heroin or prescription painkiller abuse.  And that is why, beyond these efforts, we must also take additional steps to ensure that we can respond quickly and effectively in the event of acute heroin- or prescription drug-related emergencies that are encountered in the field.

“In March, I urged local law enforcement authorities, who are often the first to respond to possible overdoses, to routinely carry naloxone – a drug that’s extremely effective at restoring breathing to a victim in the midst of a heroin or other opioid overdose.  At that time, seventeen states and the District of Columbia had amended their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in over 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.  During one of my regular meetings with the leaders of national law enforcement organizations – many of whom I see here today – they identified the need for technical assistance so that jurisdictions with an interest in equipping officers and first responders may do so effectively.  Today’s meeting fulfills that request.  The result of this convening will be a set of guidelines to assist law enforcement and public health providers who wish to be equipped and trained in the use of this potentially life-saving remedy.

“In addition, this morning, I can announce that, for the first time ever, I have issued a memorandum urging federal law enforcement agencies – including the DEA, the ATF, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service – to review their policies and procedures to determine whether personnel within their agencies should be equipped and trained to recognize and respond to opioid overdose, including with the use of naloxone.  In the coming days, I expect each of these critical agencies to determine whether and which members of their teams should be trained to use and carry naloxone in the performance of their duties.

“Although, like you, I recognize that there are numerous challenges involved in naloxone implementation – from acquisition and replenishment, to training, medical oversight and liability issues – I am confident that expanding the availability of this tool has the potential to save the lives, families, and futures of countless people across the nation.  I am certain that the leaders in this room – together with our colleagues and counterparts far beyond it – possess the knowledge, the skill, and the determination to forge workable solutions to these pressing concerns.  The ultimate goal of today’s conference is to harness your insights, to channel your expertise, and to mine your collective experience in order to make real and lasting progress on behalf of those who are in desperate need of our assistance.  Through extensive collaboration and shared wisdom, we can overcome persistent challenges and set a new course for the future. 

“So long as I have the privilege of serving as Attorney General, I am determined to keep working with you – and with leaders and stakeholders from around the country – to help break new ground, to develop new solutions, and to forge new paths to the safer, brighter, and more just futures that all Americans deserve.  I want to thank each of you, once again, for your commitment to this initiative; for your devotion to this cause; and for your partnership in the considerable work that lies before us.  I look forward to all that we must, and surely will, accomplish together in the months and years to come.  And I wish you all a most productive conference.”

Source: justice.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:23:58 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54400-attorney-general-holder-announces-plans-for-federal-law-enforcement-personnel-to-begin-carrying-naloxone.html
FDA Takes Steps to Help Ensure the Reliability of Certain Diagnostic Tests http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54396-fda-takes-steps-to-help-ensure-the-reliability-of-certain-diagnostic-tests.html Reinforces agency’s commitment to fostering personalized medicine

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014.  Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took important steps to ensure that certain tests used by health care professionals to help diagnose and treat patients provide accurate, consistent and reliable results.

First, the FDA is issuing a final guidance on the development, review and approval or clearance of companion diagnostics, which are tests used to identify patients who will benefit from or be harmed by treatment with a certain drug. Companion diagnostic tests are intended to aid physicians in selecting appropriate therapies for individual patients. These tests are commonly used to detect certain types of gene-based cancers.

Second, consistent with the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 (FDASIA), the agency is notifying Congress of its intention to publish a proposed risk-based oversight framework for laboratory developed tests (LDTs), which are designed, manufactured and used within a single laboratory. They include some genetic tests and tests that are used by health care professionals to guide medical treatment for their patients. The FDA already oversees direct-to-consumer tests regardless of whether they are LDTs or traditional diagnostics.

“Ensuring that doctors and patients have access to safe, accurate and reliable diagnostic tests to help guide treatment decisions is a priority for the FDA,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Inaccurate test results could cause patients to seek unnecessary treatment or delay and sometimes forgo treatment altogether. Today’s action demonstrates the agency’s commitment to personalized medicine, which depends on accurate and reliable tests to get the right treatment to the right patient.”

The companion diagnostics guidance is intended to help companies identify the need for these tests during the earliest stages of drug development and to plan for the development of a drug and a companion test at the same time. The ultimate goal of the final guidance is to stimulate early collaborations that will result in faster access to promising new treatments for patients living with serious and life-threatening diseases. This guidance finalizes and takes into consideration public comment on the draft guidance issued in 2011.

While the FDA has historically exercised enforcement discretion over LDTs (generally not enforced applicable regulatory requirements), today these tests may compete with FDA-approved tests without clinical studies to support their use. The LDT notification to Congress  provides the anticipated details of the draft guidance through which the agency would propose to establish an LDT oversight framework, including pre-market review for higher-risk LDTs, such as those that have the same intended use as FDA-approved or cleared companion diagnostics currently on the market. The draft guidance would also propose to phase in enforcement of pre-market review for other high risk and moderate risk LDTs over time.

The agency intends to propose continuing to exercise enforcement discretion for low-risk LDTs, LDTs for rare diseases and, under certain circumstances, LDTs for which there is no FDA-approved or cleared test.

“With today’s notification of the agency’s intent to issue the lab-developed test draft guidance, the FDA is seeking a better balanced approach for all diagnostics. The agency’s oversight would be based on a test’s level of risk to patients, not on whether it is made by a conventional manufacturer or in a single laboratory, while still providing flexibility to encourage innovation that addresses unmet medical needs,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The FDA also intends to publish a draft guidance outlining how laboratories can notify the FDA that they are currently manufacturing and using LDTs, how to provide information about their LDTs, and how they can comply with the medical device reporting requirements.

A provision in FDASIA requires the FDA to provide at least 60 days’ notice to Congress before the agency publishes for public comment any draft guidance on the regulation of LDTs. As such, the comment period will open at a later date when the draft guidances are published in the Federal Register and the public is alerted to the start of the comment period. The agency also intends to hold a public meeting during the comment period to collect additional input.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:12:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54396-fda-takes-steps-to-help-ensure-the-reliability-of-certain-diagnostic-tests.html
Op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama on McClatchy: Let’s End Veteran Homelessness Once and for All http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54394-op-ed-by-first-lady-michelle-obama-on-mcclatchy-let-s-end-veteran-homelessness-once-and-for-all.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 31, 2014

The following op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama appeared last night across McClatchy platforms.

Let’s end veteran homelessness once and for all

At the beginning of June, 85 mayors, governors and county officials from across the country – and across the political spectrum – signed on to the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness. Today, we’re announcing that in the two months since then, 97 more state and local leaders have signed on – meaning that a total of 182 local leaders have pledged to end homelessness among the veterans in their communities by the end of 2015.

I know that might sound like a pipe dream. After all, veteran homelessness is a problem we’ve faced for decades – in fact, almost 90 percent of all homeless veterans served prior to 9/11. And as a country, we’ve never been able to rally the resources and the public will to get all of our veterans off the streets and into stable housing.

So why do all these state and local leaders believe that things are any different today? The answer to that question is simple: because today – thanks to federal, state and local leadership and the determined, daily work of advocates on the ground – we’re finally seeing that ending veteran homelessness is not just something we should strive to achieve – it’s something we actually can.

For example, in recent months, Phoenix and Salt Lake City effectively ended chronic homelessness among their veterans. New Orleans is on track to end all veteran homelessness within the next six months. Last year, New York City helped more than 2,000 veterans get into safe and stable housing. St. Paul and Minneapolis have cut veteran homelessness in half over the last five years, and between the two cities there are just 18 veterans left on the streets.

Any number of veterans left out in the cold is too many, but those numbers show us that even in some of our largest metropolitan areas, ending veteran homelessness is eminently achievable.

My husband has believed this from the moment he took office. That’s why he not only vowed to end veteran homelessness, he coupled that pledge with record funding and innovative strategies to get it done. We know that through solutions like “housing first” – an evidence-based strategy to get our veterans into permanent housing before tackling issues like mental health, substance abuse or employment – we can not only do right by our veterans but also save taxpayer money. Quite simply, it’s cheaper to pay someone’s rent than to pay for hospital bills, law enforcement and so many other services if they’re living on the street.

By employing that strategy, even in the midst of a historic recession, we’ve seen tremendous progress. Since 2008, we’ve housed more than 73,000 veterans through the HUD-VASH program, which provides housing vouchers to help homeless veterans pay for permanent, stable housing. And last year alone, under a program called Supportive Services for Veteran Families, we kept more than 60,000 veterans and their family members from falling into homelessness. Next year, we expect that number to grow to over 100,000.

But we know that this problem can’t be solved by Washington alone. It takes local leaders to implement community-wide plans. It takes advocates and service providers who know our veterans by name and can connect them with the services and support that they need. And it takes folks from all across the country making their voices heard and dedicating their time and energy to help these veterans find a place to call home.

So if your mayor hasn’t signed on to the mayors challenge, light up their phone lines and ask them why not. If you’ve got a free minute, contact a local organization in your neighborhood and ask when you can volunteer or where you can donate.

Our veterans have given so much to this country – time and again, with their service and sacrifice, they’ve shown us who they are. Now it’s up to the rest of us to show who we are. It’s up to us to show these veterans we’ve got their backs and end veteran homelessness once and for all.

Michelle Obama is First Lady of the U.S.

Source: whitehouse.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:08:02 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54394-op-ed-by-first-lady-michelle-obama-on-mcclatchy-let-s-end-veteran-homelessness-once-and-for-all.html