ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:48:46 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Addressing the Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54258-addressing-the-real-impact-of-native-mascots-and-team-names-on-american-indian-and-alaska-native-youth.html Washington, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--July 22, 2014.  Today, the Center for American Progress released a report highlighting the impact of native mascots and team names on American Indian and Alaska Native, or AI/AN, youth and proposed key steps that federal, state, and local governments can take to address these effects. The report explores compelling evidence showing that perpetuating harmful stereotypes damages the mental health and self-esteem of AI/AN students and includes stories of how young people experience persisting racism in their communities.

“It’s time to address the real issues in the debate about derogatory nicknames and mascots, and local, state, and federal education agencies have a role to play,” said Erik Stegman, Associate Director of Half in Ten at the Center for American Progress. “Racist representations in schools undermine the understanding of Native people, contribute to hostile learning environments, and make a challenging situation worse for Native students who live in communities where poverty is at nearly double the national rate, high school graduation rates are some of the lowest in the country, and extreme health disparities persist.”

While the debate over the Washington football team’s name and mascot is entrenched in economic and public relations concerns, policy changes can get to the point of the issue and address the impact of mascots across the country perpetuating negative stereotypes in K-12 and postsecondary schools:

The federal government should take action to ensure civil rights protections.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights should use its full authority to enforce civil rights protections for AI/AN students and promote a safe and welcoming learning environment.

State governments should hold local institutions accountable.  State-level boards of education and education agencies should identify schools in their state with AI/AN representations, examine their impact, and develop recommendations to remove harmful representations.

Nonprofit organizations should support students who take legal action.  Nonprofit legal assistance organizations and law school clinics should develop programs to support AI/AN students who want to file complaints.

Grant-making bodies should continue research on student impacts.  The federal government and foundation community should identify and fund new research on the impact of derogatory AI/AN representations in schools.

Read the report: Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth by Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips.

Source: http://www.americanprogress.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:55:41 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54258-addressing-the-real-impact-of-native-mascots-and-team-names-on-american-indian-and-alaska-native-youth.html
Tamarisk Tree’s Role as ‘Invasive’ in Southwest Questioned http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54257-tamarisk-tree-s-role-as-invasive-in-southwest-questioned.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 22, 2014.  As drought persists across the western U.S., farmers, ranchers, and government authorities looking for solutions to water worries have picked a tough battle, and many are questioning whether it’s worth the fight. The target is the ‘invasive,’ tamarisk tree, also known as salt cedar, a hardy evergreen that can grow nearly 60 feet tall, and has been labeled as a water glutton. In Arizona, many are heralding the arrival of the small tamarisk beetle, itself an ‘invasive’ imported from Kazakhstan by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to control the spread of tamarisk trees. But numerous questions surrounding the campaign highlight a persistent national debate: Are invasives categorically bad or simply convenient scapegoats? Are the solutions worse than the current state of affairs? Can we permanently restore native habitat?

In 2005, USDA approved the release of the tamarisk beetle in Colorado, Utah and a number of other western states. However, five years later, the agency made a quiet about-face on the campaign and stopped any further releases of the beetle into western habitat. The stated reason for the cancellation was “potential effects on the critical habitat of the federally-listed, endangered southwestern willow flycatcher,” notes a press release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As PEER explains, USDA released the beetles without a full environmental review, ordering a “finding of no significant impact” (FONSI) under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The southwestern willow flycatcher, originally adapted to willow trees, established itself in stands of tamarisk and Russian olive as the landscape of southwestern riparian ecosystems changed due to human influence.

The spread of tamarisk trees wasn’t completely an accident. Farmers in the early 1900s needed a hardy, drought-resistant plant to control wind-borne erosion, according to research from Matthew Chew, PhD, at the University of Arizona. The trees were originally brought to Texas and the desert southwest to stabilize soils and provide a windbreak for fields susceptible to erosion. As Dr. Chew explains, perceptions changed in the mid-1900s when studies reported high rates of evapotranspiration (water uptake) by the tamarisk. Rather than merely stabilizing soil, tamarisk was sucking up the scarce waters farmers needed for their crops, so it seemed. As population pressures and water resources became an increasing concern, dams rose up in the southwest, drying out native riparian habitat and fostering the conditions for tamarisks to move in.

But new data has caused many to rethink the trees’ categorical designation as an invasive species to be targeted. In addition to the tamarisk tree’s refuge as a habitat for the flycatcher, data is now revealing that the trees take up much less water than originally thought, and result in negligible differences in river flow whether they are present or not.

Still, many continue to advocate for its eradication. “We view the tamarisk as a pest,” said Joseph Sigg, the government relations director at the Arizona Farm Bureau to The New York Times. “Water is an expensive input, and to the extent that we can lower it, the beetle can help.”

Although the tamarisk beetle is effective at defoliating the trees, complete removal of the tree requires an expensive round of cutting, burning, and herbicide applications to the tree’s stump. Chemicals such as triclopyr, the active ingredient in Garlon, are often employed for this process. Triclopyr is considered mobile and soluble in water, with a high potential to contaminate surface waters. The chemical has been linked to adverse reproductive effects and birth defects. The solution may be more harmful than the current state of affairs.

Even when removal is generally considered successful, it is only a delay tactic. “You’ll never get the last tree,” said Gibney Siemion to, an ecologist with the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, to The New York Times. “You do your best, but the tamarisk is very adaptable.”

As with most ecological problems that humans confront, whether in farming, gardening, lawn care, or control of invasive species, the underlying conditions that brought about the perceived problem must be addressed, or a shift in viewpoint is needed. Since we may never be able to ever permanently restore a native habitat, we may need to reconsider what is natural and what is invasive.

Beyond Pesticides encourages a lively debate on the role and designation of a species as ‘invasive’, but strongly discourages the use of pesticides to “fix” issues surrounding invasive species. For a take from each side, see Beyond Pesticides’ Invasive Weed Management homepage, or watch Boyce Thorne Miller’s discussion on rethinking invasive species at the 32nd National Pesticide Forum in Portland, OR. You can also read more about misconceptions on invasive and the tamarisk tree from Dr. Chew on his website, or from the talk he gave (min. 25:15) at Beyond Pesticides 31st National Pesticide Forum in Albuquerque, NM.

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

Sources: The New York Times, PEER, http://www.beyondpesticides.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:53:10 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54257-tamarisk-tree-s-role-as-invasive-in-southwest-questioned.html
New Medical Marijuana Manufacturing Guidelines Issued by National Herbal Medicine Industry Group http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54246-new-medical-marijuana-manufacturing-guidelines-issued-by-national-herbal-medicine-industry-group.html Botanical medicine standards released as Colorado medical marijuana business sees first product recall in U.S.

Washington, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)—July 22, 2014. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) released its long-awaited medical marijuana manufacturing guidelines today, completing its compendium of industry standards which include regulatory recommendations for cannabis from seed to sale. The AHPA manufacturing guidelines come as licensed Colorado business "At Home Baked" sees the country's first medical marijuana product recall.

A new nationwide program called Patient Focused Certification (PFC), a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), aims to bring greater standardization to the medical marijuana industry. The PFC program uses the recently completed AHPA guidelines in combination with standards set by American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) for the plant's identity, purity, quality and botanical properties. Together, these standards have the means to bring greater accountability to the industry and increased safety for patients.

"Although medical marijuana is one of the safest medicines used today, it's important for patients to have industry standards that ensure the highest product quality and reliability," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "The AHPA guidelines issued today not only provide a blueprint for product recalls, like the one in Denver, but also establishes sound manufacturing procedures that will help avoid such recalls in the future."

The recent product recall of medical marijuana-infused edibles was announced by the Denver Department of Environmental Health on July 17th because of "possible contamination from unsanitary equipment" and "use of equipment not intended for food manufacturing." Although there have been no complaints or reports of sickness so far, the line of edible products has been recalled from the dozens of dispensaries across the State of Colorado where they are being sold.

Patient advocates have voiced concerns that while the recall procedure for the County of Denver appears adequate, numerous other counties in Colorado as well as many medical marijuana states do not have an agreed-upon protocol for ensuring product safety. States that have adopted requirements for testing of medical marijuana include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. A smaller subset of these states also requires training of industry staff.

ASA has been offering trainings to the medical marijuana industry for over a decade and holds a permit from the District of Columbia for mandatory industry trainings. PFC industry trainings and certifications are co-produced with the Cannabis Training Institute (CTI) and certify cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and laboratory technicians to ensure adherence to AHPA and AHP standards.

The PFC certification process, which is overseen by a review board of scientists, doctors, and industry and regulatory experts, includes a scheduled physical audit, a staff training audit, a complaint process and at least one surprise audit annually. PFC-certified products and businesses will exhibit the PFC seal on their marketing, promotions and packaging to help patients make educated purchasing decisions. Fifteen medical marijuana businesses have either achieved or initiated PFC certification in the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Further information:
AHPA Standards: http://safeaccess2.org/sites/patientfocusedcertification/standards-development/apha-guidelines
AHP Cannabis monograph (Abridged version): http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ahp_cannabis_monograph_preview
Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/patient_focused

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers. Become a Member of ASA Today!

Source: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:24:05 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54246-new-medical-marijuana-manufacturing-guidelines-issued-by-national-herbal-medicine-industry-group.html
EPA Solicits Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Grant Proposals http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54225-epa-solicits-great-lakes-shoreline-cities-grant-proposals.html Chicago—(ENEWSPF)--July 21, 2014 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a solicitation for a second round of Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Grants.  EPA will award grants totaling up to $4.5 million to eligible shoreline cities to fund green infrastructure projects that will improve Great Lakes water quality.   

This year, shoreline cities with a population greater than 25,000 and less than 50,000 will be eligible to apply for green infrastructure grants of up to $250,000. Last year, EPA awarded Shoreline Cities Grants totaling just under $7 million to 16 cities with populations greater than 50,000.  

“This is an opportunity for more Great Lakes shoreline cities to obtain funding for green infrastructure projects,” said Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman.  “These GLRI grants will be used for green infrastructure projects that reduce urban runoff and sewer overflows that foul beaches and impair Great Lakes water quality.”  

Cities can use the grants to cover up to 50 percent of the cost of rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, porous pavement, greenways, constructed wetlands, stormwater tree trenches and other green infrastructure measures installed on public property.  Detailed eligibility requirements are available at www.epa.gov/grtlakes/fund/shoreline/.

More information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is available at www.glri.us.

Source: epa.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:50:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54225-epa-solicits-great-lakes-shoreline-cities-grant-proposals.html
UK Bread Contaminated with Pesticides http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54223-uk-bread-contaminated-with-pesticides.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 21, 2014.  According to figures released by the British Government last week, over 60% of the county’s bread supply is tainted with pesticide residues. This is a shocking increase from numbers recorded in 2001, which found 28% of bread to be tainted. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Expert Committee on Pesticides Residues in Food (PRIF), 2,951 bread samples were tested.

According to a Pesticide Action Network UK report, a majority of the reoccurring pesticides were glyphosate and chlormequat. Glyphosate is an herbicide that can lead to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, genetic damage, cancer, reproductive issues, liver damage, and endocrine disruption as well environmental damage such as water contamination and harmful effects to amphibians. Unfortunately, very little research has been done on what the effects can be on humans.

Chlormequat, the second most-commonly found pesticide in British bread, is a plant growth regulator. A study conducted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) linked Chlormequat to developmental toxicity in animals. Very little research has been performed assessing the public health impact of this pesticide. In the U.S., it is only allowed for use on ornamental plants.

Pan UK spokesman Nick Mole said, “The presence of pesticide residues in our food and our subsequent ingestion of them is not something that anybody should welcome. We are in effect being poisoned against our will with the full knowledge of the growers, retailers and regulatory bodies that provide our food or are tasked with making sure it is safe.”

In March of this year, the UK government created an action plan that stipulates that member states should monitor the use of plant protection products containing substances of particular concern, and establish timetables and targets for the reduction of their use. Mr. Mole also suggested that Defra and the National Farmers’ Union had a “cozy” relationship. He stated that the UK’s pesticide action plan was weak and that pesticides should be used as a last resort, or not at all. Unfortunately they are currently the first choice when combating various issues such as pests, or “invasive” weed management. In fact, the government’s plan doesn’t contain timetables or methodologies for reducing the use of pesticides, which is growing.

Beyond Pesticides encourages consumers to purchase organic food, which is nurtured in a system of food production, handling and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals. In the U.S., organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health. This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic–pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife.

To help explain the urgent need for a major shift to organic food consumption, Beyond Pesticides created the Eating with a Conscience database, which evaluates the impacts on the environment and farmworkers of the toxic chemicals allowed for use on major food crops, grown domestically and internationally. We have also expanded the message of necessity for organic practices in order to save our pollinators from horrible disorders and death as well as protecting our waters from being horrendously polluted.

Eating with a Conscience looks at the toxic chemicals that are allowed in the production of the food we eat and the environmental and public health effects resulting from their use.

Choose a fruit or vegetable.

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

Sources: The Guardian, RT Network, The Telegraph, http://www.beyondpesticides.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:02:25 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54223-uk-bread-contaminated-with-pesticides.html
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Ease Pain for Adults and Children with Seizures http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54221-governor-quinn-signs-legislation-to-help-ease-pain-for-adults-and-children-with-seizures.html New Law Adds Seizures to List of Debilitating Medical Conditions Under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act

CHICAGO--(ENEWSPF)--July 21, 2014.  Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed legislation to add the treatment of adults and children with seizures to the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protecting and improving the health of the people of Illinois.

“This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state,” Governor Quinn said. “Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act is now designed to help our fellow citizens of all ages by allowing its strictly controlled use for specific medical conditions.”

“This legislation was really an initiative by scores of families in Illinois with children that experience literally hundreds of seizures a day,” Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago President and CEO Kurt Florian said. “Many of these families have uprooted for treatment in Colorado and have experienced dramatic reductions in seizures from oil based, low to zero THC medical cannabis. We are thankful to our sponsors and applaud Governor Quinn for signing this legislation which will help hundreds of children and families.”

Senate Bill 2636, sponsored by State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act to allow children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana for the same range of conditions now available to adults. The bill also adds seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to the list of debilitating medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will create rules for the treatment of children using medical marijuana. The legislation is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

“I’m pleased that legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to pass legislation that means everything to these families,” Senator Martinez said. “My colleagues and I have been deeply moved by the plight of these children and their parents, who courageously and tenaciously pursue any option that could bring relief and better health to their kids. There is no better reward for public service than having the opportunity to ease the suffering of a child.”

“This gives parents an important, life-saving treatment option for their children who have epilepsy,” State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), the bill’s chief co-sponsor, said. “It gives their kids, who are faced with the daily threats of seizures, the opportunity to improve their quality of life.”

“I am pleased that Governor Quinn has agreed to sign this important legislation, which provides needed help to those of all ages who suffer with epilepsy and creates a pathway for children with other painful and debilitating medical conditions to secure a much better quality of life,” Representative Lang said. “Without the strong support and encouragement from Governor Quinn, the program would never have gotten off the ground.”

“I have a 14 year old constituent by the name of Hugh who lives with Epilepsy,” House Republican leader and chief co-sponsor Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said. “His parents, Bob and Kelly, want to provide their son with as much relief as possible. Unfortunately, traditional medications and methods have not worked. It’s our hope that this new law will provide much needed relief for Hugh and thousands of other children.”

"My family is grateful to the Illinois Legislature and Governor for their sensible addition of those with seizure conditions to the Compassionate Care Act,” Randy Gross, the parent of a child with epilepsy, said. “We admire their particular courage in explicitly including children with seizures, and in giving an option to children with other chronic conditions to petition for relief. On behalf of all parents of those with epilepsy, we would also like to thank the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago for their support and guidance of this effort as well. Finally, for those of us who left Illinois to pursue this treatment, we are overjoyed and anxious to come home soon."

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which Governor Quinn signed into law in 2013, will help ease pain for people across Illinois who suffer from debilitating medical conditions. Illinois became the 21st state to enact such legislation, which includes some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana. Scientific evidence has found that medical cannabis can provide relief from continual pain, nausea and discomfort more effectively than conventional medications for patients suffering from serious ailments, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and HIV.

Source: illinois.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:54:08 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54221-governor-quinn-signs-legislation-to-help-ease-pain-for-adults-and-children-with-seizures.html
World Health Organization Calls for Drug Decriminalization and Broad Drug Policy Reforms http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54218-world-health-organization-calls-for-drug-decriminalization-and-broad-drug-policy-reforms.html Recommendations Also Include Harm Reduction Measures and Banning Compulsory Treatment

NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—July 21, 2014. In a report published earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a clear call for broad drug policy reforms, including decriminalization of drug use, harm reduction practices such as syringe exchange and opioid substitution therapy, and a ban on compulsory treatment for people who use drugs. This report by the United Nations’ leading health agency focuses on best practices to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV among key populations.

“It’s good to see the WHO come out so strongly for decriminalizing drugs and rejecting compulsory treatment for people who use drugs,’ said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Its recommendations, grounded as they are in science and public health, drive home the need for fundamental reforms in U.S. drug policies, in particular the growing reliance on drug courts to ‘treat’ people arrested for drug possession.”

In a section titled “Good practice recommendations concerning decriminalization”, the WHO report makes the following recommendations:

Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration.

Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize the use of clean needles and syringes (and that permit NSPs [needle and syringe programmes]) and that legalize OST [opioid substitution therapy] for people who are opioid-dependent.

Countries should ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.

This follows on the heels of a report released in March by a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The recommendations of the working group – which included Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – highlight that “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs (UNGASS) – an initiative proposed in 2012 by the then-president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon – in order to conduct a comprehensive review of the successes and failures of international drug control policy. Whereas the previous UNGASS in 1998 was dominated by rhetorical calls for a “drug-free world” and concluded with unrealistic goals regarding illicit drug production, the forthcoming UNGASS will undoubtedly be shaped by recommendations such as those in the WHO report.

Last year, Uruguay followed on the heels of Colorado and Washington State and became the first country to legally regulate marijuana for recreational purposes. In June, the West Africa Commission on Drugs, initiated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasango, called for drug decriminalization and for treating drug use as a health issue. This was followed by an announcement by the Jamaican Minister of Justice that the Jamaican Cabinet had approved a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana use for religious, scientific and medical purposes. And earlier this month, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), agreed to establish a commission to review marijuana policy in the region in order to assess the need for reforms to marijuana laws.

The WHO recommendations are consistent with the long-standing policy objectives and mission of the Drug Policy Alliance, as well as with a surprisingly broad and rapidly-emerging coalition of stakeholders who are calling for drug decriminalization, including the American Public Health Association, International Red Cross, Organization of American States, NAACP, Human Rights Watch, National Latino Congreso, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Related Material: 

The Economist - The WHO calls for decriminalization, July 17, 2014


Source: www.drugpolicy.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:41:45 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54218-world-health-organization-calls-for-drug-decriminalization-and-broad-drug-policy-reforms.html
Veterans to Deliver Letter to Israeli Ambassador – Stop the Slaughter of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54215-veterans-to-deliver-letter-to-israeli-ambassador-stop-the-slaughter-of-palestinian-civilians-in-gaza.html Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—July 21, 2014. Members of Veterans For Peace will deliver a letter to Israel's Embassy, 3514 International Dr. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, at 1:30 pm Monday afternoon, July 21. The letter calls on the government of Israel to immediately halt the bombing of Palestinian civilians and to withdraw all its troops and military assets from Gaza.  Colonel Ann Wright, who has visited Palestine and Israel several times, will head up the delegation.

The letter reads as follows:

To: Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer

From: Veterans For Peace National Board of Directors

Dear Ambassador Dermer,

As veterans who have witnessed the horror of war, we are deeply outraged by the state of Israel's slaughter of many innocent civilians in Gaza. The military assault against children, women and men, by air, by sea and now by land, is a clear violation of international laws of war and of human rights.   More than 300 Palestinians have been murdered, almost all of them civilians, nearly a quarter of them children. Thousands are wounded, including nearly 1,000 children.

Veterans For Peace joins millions of people all around the globe who are shocked by this vicious, one-sided slaughter. We understand the huge injustice of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes and forced to live in the Occupied West Bank, or in the open-air prison that is Gaza.

Mr. Ambassador, please tell the government of Israel to stop the massacre now! There should be an immediate end to all bombing and an immediate withdrawal of all Israeli military from Gaza.

Mr. Ambassador, please remind Prime Minister Netanyahu that you can bomb the world into pieces, but you cannot bomb it into peace.

Veterans For Peace calls for an end to the 8-year blockade of Gaza, so that normal trade and travel can occur.

Mr. Ambassador, please remind the government of Israel of the billions of dollars in aid that is provided to Israel by the United States. Veterans For Peace will push for an end to all military aid to Israel until such time as the Israeli occupation gives way to real peace negotiations based on the human rights of all the people concerned.

Veterans For Peace recommits itself to participating in the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and Israeli products.

We encourage all parties to search for a nonviolent path to peace. We urge both Hamas and the government of Israel to refrain from targeting civilians.  We especially call on the state of Israel to stop its massive violence now. It is time to recognize the human rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to return to the homes from which they were forced to flee in 1948.

Mr. Ambassador, the peoples of Palestine, Israel and the world deserve to live in peace and harmony.  The ultimate goal of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war. In the meantime, we stand ready to assist those Israelis and Palestinians who seek peace and reconciliation.

[signed]  Patrick McCann, President

for National Board of Directors


Source: www.VeteransForPeace.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:30:25 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54215-veterans-to-deliver-letter-to-israeli-ambassador-stop-the-slaughter-of-palestinian-civilians-in-gaza.html
Poll: Six Out Of Ten Americans Support Retail Marijuana Sales In Colorado http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54205-poll-six-out-of-ten-americans-support-retail-marijuana-sales-in-colorado.html Soldier

Denver, CO-(ENEWSPF)- More than six out of ten Americans - including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans - support the regulation and retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, according to the findings of a nationwide HuffPost.com/YouGov poll released on Tuesday.

Colorado voters in 2012 approved a statewide initiative legalizing the personal consumption and cultivation of the plant. The measure also allows for the state-licensed commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to those over the age of 21. Commercial cannabis sales began on January 1st of this year. To date, these sales have generatednearly $11 million in tax revenue.

Sixty-one percent of Americans - including 68 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 52 percent of Republicans - say they "support" Colorado's efforts to regulate the commercial cannabis market. Only 27 percent of respondents oppose the Colorado law.

Respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 (65 percent) as well as those age 65 and older (64 percent) were most likely to support Colorado's efforts, while those between the ages of 45 to 65 (55 percent) were less likely to do so.

The results of a separate poll of Colorado voters commissioned by Quinnipiac University in April similarly reported that the majority of Coloradoans support the state's efforts to regulate marijuana sales and consumption.

Similarly licensed commercial retail sales of cannabis began last week in Washington state.

In response to a separate HuffPost/YouGov poll question, 54 percent of those surveyed said that the US government should not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized and regulated the plant. Only 29 percent of respondents endorsed the notion of enforcing federal prohibition in states that are pursuing alternative regulatory schemes.

"Every day in America, hundreds of thousands of people engage in transactions involving the recreational use of marijuana, but only in two states - Colorado and Washington - do these transactions take place in a safe, above-ground, state-licensed facility where consumers must show proof of age, the product sold is of known quality, and the sales are taxed in a manner to help fund necessary state and local services," NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "Not surprisingly, most Americans prefer to have cannabis regulated in this sort of legal setting as opposed to an environment where the plant's production and sale is entirely unregulated and those who consume it are stigmatized and classified as criminals."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:42:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54205-poll-six-out-of-ten-americans-support-retail-marijuana-sales-in-colorado.html
Poll: Majority Of Millennials Oppose Federal Prohibition Of Marijuana http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54204-poll-majority-of-millennials-oppose-federal-prohibition-of-marijuana.html Soldier

Los Angeles, CA-(ENEWSPF)- The majority of Americans age 18 to 29 oppose the federal prohibition of marijuana, according to national polling datacompiled by the Reason Foundation.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said that the US government should "allow" for adults to use marijuana. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that marijuana use should remain prohibited.

Millennials also strongly oppose incarcerating adults for marijuana-related offenses. Of those polled, only 14 percent said that someone who consumes marijuana should go to jail.

The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

The survey's findings are similar to those of a 2013 nationwide Gallup public opinion survey which reported that 58 percent of Americans age 18 or older believe that cannabis ought to be "made legal" for adult consumption. Several recent state-specific polls have reported similar levels of support for legalizing marijuana.

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:41:04 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54204-poll-majority-of-millennials-oppose-federal-prohibition-of-marijuana.html
Arizona: Health Department Expands State's Medical Cannabis Program To Include Post-Traumatic Stress http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54203-arizona-health-department-expands-state-s-medical-cannabis-program-to-include-post-traumatic-stress.html Soldier

Phoenix, AZ-(ENEWSPF)- State health officials have agreed to changes in the state's medical cannabis law to permit patients with post-traumatic stress to be eligible to use cannabis therapy.

Regulators agreed late last week to expand the state's list of qualifying conditions to include the physician-recommended use of cannabis for the palliative care of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Doctors will be legally able to authorize the therapy to qualified patients starting on January 1, 2015.

The decision marks the first time that state health officials have expanded the list of eligible conditions since Arizona voters legalized the physician-authorized use of cannabis in 2010.

Arizona is one of a growing number of states - including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon - that explicitly allows for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Clinical trial data published in recent weeks reports that the administration of the synthetic cannabinoidsnabilone and absorbable THC are both associated with significant improvement in the treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In 2013, researchers at the New York University School of Medicine published findings indicating that subjects with post-traumatic stress experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter. They hypothesized that an increase in the body's production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects' natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. "[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that ... plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD," they concluded.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:38:57 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54203-arizona-health-department-expands-state-s-medical-cannabis-program-to-include-post-traumatic-stress.html
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to Introduce Criminal Justice Reform Legislation REDEEM Act http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54202-senators-cory-booker-d-nj-and-rand-paul-r-ky-to-introduce-criminal-justice-reform-legislation-redeem-act.html Helps Formerly Incarcerated Seal Conviction Records, Eliminates Barriers to Employment, Public Assistance, and Re-Entry Drug Policy Alliance: Criminal Justice Reform is Good Policy and Good Politics

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY), introduced the REDEEM Act, groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that makes it easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to reintegrate into society and provides greater rights to juvenile offenders. The amendment comes on the heels of an amendment offered several weeks ago by Senators Booker and Paul that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from arresting and prosecuting people in compliance with their state medical marijuana laws. Senator Paul also has a bill with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would provide federal judges more discretion in sentencing. A bipartisan bill reforming mandatory minimums introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting floor action.

“The fact that two young and rising stars of both parties, both rumored to be considering future White House runs, are so passionately embracing criminal justice reform shows how politically popular these issues have become,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Voters want reform and smart elected officials know that. This legislation is good policy and good politics.”

According to an analysis by NJ.Com, the REDEEM ACT would, among other things:

  • Repeal the ban on federal welfare benefits for those convicted of drug violations.
  • Provide states with incentives to raise the age of criminal responsibility when suspects are automatically tried as adults to 18. Under the bill, states that set it at 18 would get an advantage in applying for Community Oriented Policing Services grants.
  • Automatically expunge criminal records for children under 15 who have been convicted of non-violent crimes, and seal the records of those 15 to 17, meaning offenders could lawfully claim they do not exist.
  • Create the "first broad-based federal path" for adults to petition to seal criminal records, and allow employers who request FBI background checks of applicants to see only "relevant and accurate information."
  • Ban solitary confinement of juvenile inmates except "in the most extreme circumstances."

The U.S. has almost five percent of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners. It incarcerates more of its citizens in both per capita and absolute terms than China, North Korea, Russia or any other country in the world. The per capita incarceration of young black men exceeds that of South Africa under Apartheid. A significant portion, more than half in the federal system, are there for drug offenses. Once released formerly incarcerated individuals can legally be discriminated against in employment and housing, and in some cases can be prohibited from voting for life.

“The war on drugs is filling U.S. prisons with nonviolent offenders,” said Piper. “As our country moves towards legalizing and regulating marijuana and rolling back punitive sentencing it is important to expunge people’s records, remove the barriers they face, and reintegrate them back into society”


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:33:07 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54202-senators-cory-booker-d-nj-and-rand-paul-r-ky-to-introduce-criminal-justice-reform-legislation-redeem-act.html
Rauner Proposes 30 New Regressive Taxes (Video/Analysis) http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54201-rauner-proposes-30-new-regressive-taxes.html Bruce Rauner

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Billionaire GOP candidate Bruce Rauner held a press conference to propose 30 new regressive taxes. It comes on the heels of a bevy of news that Rauner and Rauner financed companies avoided taxes and overbilled taxpayers.

  • Rauner used loopholes now under scrutiny by the IRS to slash his tax obligation. He avoided contributing a single penny to Social Security and Medicare for two straight years, in 2010 and 2011, but says he’s open to taxing retirement income including Social Security.
  • Rauner was a director of HealthRev, which failed to pay $81,000 in Illinois taxes.  The company also made thousands in contributions to Cook County officials after it received a multi-million dollar government contract.
  • American Habilitations Services - a Rauner financed firm linked to deaths, assaults, and legal action - was cited by the state of Florida for overbilling taxpayers.
  • The firm Rauner ran for 31 years, GTCR, failed to pay nearly $13,000 in unemployment taxes in 2005.
  • Rauner’s current company, R8, failed to pay the state’s business license fee.

“It’s crystal clear: Billionaire Bruce Rauner wants middle class families to pay more, while he pays less,” said Neal Waltmire, Communications Director for Illinois Freedom PAC. “He already pays a lower tax rate than millions of Illinois’ middle class families, but apparently exploiting the status quo is not good enough for him.”

Source: Illinois Freedom PAC

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:28:45 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54201-rauner-proposes-30-new-regressive-taxes.html
Medical Marijuana Patients Hail Landmark Victory with Another Unprecedented Vote in Congress http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54198-medical-marijuana-patients-hail-landmark-victory-with-another-unprecedented-vote-in-congress.html Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana. (Photo: iStockPhoto)

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– Medical marijuana patients hailed another landmark victory today when Congress voted 231-192 to restrict Department of Treasury funds from "being used to prohibit or penalize a financial institution from providing services to a marijuana-related business that engages in activities permissible under state or local laws." The amendment to the financial services budget bill was introduced by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), and won an unprecedented number of votes for a medical marijuana issue.

The burgeoning medical marijuana industry has endured years of resistance from the banking and financial services industry mainly due to the threat of federal interference. Most of the major banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup, have refused to work with medical marijuana businesses despite a memo issued by Treasury earlier this year. This refusal has forced thousands of medical marijuana producers, manufacturers, and distributors to resort to cash-only businesses, putting them and the patients that use their services at greater risk of harm.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a Treasury agency, has for years selectively audited dozens, and possibly hundreds, of medical marijuana businesses, under a little-known provision of the tax code that forces criminal enterprises to pay taxes on their gross revenue. Despite following all local and state laws, dispensaries in California and Colorado are still being audited under Tax Code Section 280e, meant for cartels and large criminal enterprises. The Heck-Rohrabacher-Perlmutter-Lee amendment would arguably curb these audits and give the banking industry the go-ahead to service medical marijuana businesses.

"An overwhelming number of House members are telling the Obama Administration to stop meddling in state and local medical marijuana laws," said Mike Liszewski, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access, which has been lobbying Congress on these measures. "Today's vote should also be a clear signal to the U.S. Senate that they, too, should respect medical marijuana laws across the country."

Congress also made an historic 186-236 vote to reject an amendment introduced by Representatives John Fleming (R-LA) and Andy Harris (R-MD) to the same budget bill, which would have prohibited Treasury from implementing the guidance issued earlier this year that allows banks to service medical marijuana businesses, in opposition to the Heck-Rohrabacher-Perlmutter-Lee amendment.

Today's vote comes just two months after the House voted to restrict Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states as an amendment to the Commerce, Science & Justice (CJS) budget bill. The then-unprecedented 219-189 vote signaled a sea change in Congress, according to advocates, and today's vote has surpassed the level of support seen in May. A similar CJS amendment has been filed by U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), but has not yet come up for a vote. A vote on a CJS amendment in the Senate is expected later this summer.

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:01:58 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/54198-medical-marijuana-patients-hail-landmark-victory-with-another-unprecedented-vote-in-congress.html
Infographic: Where Does Gitmo Fit In? The Long, Winding History Of Prison Camps http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54189-infographic-where-does-gitmo-fit-in-the-long-winding-history-of-prison-camps.html
Courtesy of: Infographic World

From our friends at Infographic World, Where Does Gitmo Fit In? The Long, Winding History Of Prison Camps.

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Tue, 08 Jul 2014 19:39:15 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/54189-infographic-where-does-gitmo-fit-in-the-long-winding-history-of-prison-camps.html
Possible Late-night Thunderstorms in Park Forest http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54186-possible-late-night-thunderstorms-in-park-forest.html Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The National Weather Service in Chicago reports that, if thunderstorms develop tonight, Park Foresters should not expect anything severe.

Some thunderstorms may develop tonight, but not until late.

frodo@ameritech.net (Gary Kopycinski) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 20:58:52 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54186-possible-late-night-thunderstorms-in-park-forest.html
Leaked Document: Scientists Ordered to Scrap Plan to Protect Wolverines http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54182-leaked-document-scientists-ordered-to-scrap-plan-to-protect-wolverines.html Despite Extinction Threat From Global Warming, Obama Administration Caves to Pressure From States, Overrules Federal Scientists

WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--July 7, 2014.  According to a leaked memo obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been ordered to reverse their own conclusions and withdraw last year’s proposal to protect American wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.

Photo by Steve Kroschel, USFWS. 

Fewer than 300 wolverines remain in the lower 48 states, and global warming over the next 75 years is predicted to wipe out 63 percent of the snowy habitat they need to survive, government scientists have said. In fact changes due to climate warming are “threatening the species with extinction,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said in last year’s announcement of its protection proposal.

Now the memo — signed by Noreen Walsh, director of the Rocky Mountain Region of the Fish and Wildlife Service — tells federal scientists to set aside those conclusions, even though there has been no new science casting doubt on those findings.

“The Obama administration’s own scientists have said for years that global warming is pushing wolverines toward extinction, and now those conclusions are being cast aside for political convenience,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “This is a bizarre and disturbing turn, especially for an administration that’s vowed to let science rule the day when it comes to decisions about the survival of our most endangered wildlife.”

Fish and Wildlife Service scientists proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the wolverine in February 2013. Subsequently state officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming raised questions about the degree to which wolverines are dependent on persistent snow and about the degree to which warming will impact their habitat. In response Fish and Wildlife convened a panel of scientists to review the science behind the proposal, resulting in a report in which “nine out of nine panelists expressed pessimism for the long-term (roughly end-of-century) future of wolverines in the contiguous U.S. because of the effects of climate change on habitat.”

Based on the conclusions of the panel, scientists from the Montana field office of the Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that protection be finalized, but, as shown in the leaked memo, were overruled by agency bureaucrats. 

“The decision to overrule agency scientists and deny protection to the wolverine is deeply disappointing and shows that political interference in what should be a scientific decision continues to be a problem under the Obama administration, just as it was under George W. Bush,” said Greenwald. “Wolverines and the winter habitats they depend on are severely threatened by our warming world. Only serious action to reduce fossil fuels can save the wolverine, tens of thousands of other species, and our very way of life.”

On Feb. 4, 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service found that wolverines warrant protection as a threatened species, concluding based on the “best scientific and commercial information available” that “the contiguous United States wolverine DPS presently meets the definition of a threatened species due to the likelihood of habitat loss caused by climate change resulting in population decline leading to breakdown of metapopulation dynamics.” This conclusion was based on the fact that “(w)olverines require habitats with near-arctic conditions wherever they occur,” that they “exist as small and semi-isolated subpopulations in a larger metapopulation that requires regular dispersal of wolverines between habitat patches to maintain itself” and that “(c)limate changes are predicted to reduce wolverine habitat and range by 31 percent over the next 30 years and 63 percent over the next 75 years, rendering remaining wolverine habitat significantly smaller and more fragmented.”

In response to the proposed rule, the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all submitted comments opposing protection of wolverines, questioning the science behind the conclusion that they were threatened by climate change. To address these concerns, the Fish and Wildlife Service delayed final protection for six months and convened an expert scientific panel to evaluate the science. The panel issued a report in April 2014 concluding that “there are three primary climate related factors that are correlated with wolverines: persistent deep snow, contiguous snow, and temperature,” a finding that led to the panel’s unanimous statement of concern for the long-term survival  of wolverines in the contiguous United States. These conclusions support the conclusion of the proposed rule that the wolverine is threatened with extinction. 

On May 17, 2014, the assistant regional director of ecological services at the Fish and Wildlife Service sent a memo to the regional director in Denver transmitting the recommendation of the Montana field office that “the wolverine listing be finalized as threatened.” The memo further concludes that, “In our review we have been unable to obtain or evaluate any other peer reviewed literature or other bodies of evidence that would lead us to a different conclusion.” 

In contrast, the recently leaked memo overrules and ignores the substantial evidence and conclusions of the proposed rule, the independent science panel report, and the strong conclusions of the Montana field office, which is staffed with the agency scientists who have the greatest knowledge of wolverines.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:52:30 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54182-leaked-document-scientists-ordered-to-scrap-plan-to-protect-wolverines.html
Iraq: What You Should Know About the Country We Destroyed http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54180-iraq-what-you-should-know-about-the-country-we-destroyed.html MASSACHUSETTS--(ENEWSPF)--July 7, 2014.

(Credit: iraqichildrenart.org)

I've been working with Iraqis since January 2001, when I made my first trip to Baghdad.  Some of these long-time colleagues and friends are Christians, most are Muslims. I don't know if they're Shi'ia or Sunni. I've never asked, and they have never offered. So, I don't know if my friend Mazin in more danger or less in this current crisis… perhaps it's all the same. He doesn't worry to me about "the others" if indeed they are the others… maybe they're not.   

Then there's Khalid, a young father now living in Jordan who for two years has been helping critically ill children in need of surgery transit from Basra through Amman to Europe. And, Thamir, a devout Muslim and the artist who coordinated projects for Iraqi refugees in Amman, including ones in a Melkite Catholic church in a neighborhood where many Iraqi Christians lived.

No one ever asked about religion when they agreed to be of help to other Iraqis. They rail against the violence and the corruption of the government, they want the borders in Iraq closed and long for security so they can resume something like a normal life. But they don't talk in sectarian terms when they talk about what they've been through or their fears about what is coming. It's  a small sample, but it makes me wonder why the media is so insistent on this issue; why the narrative is strictly framed in sectarian terms. I expect this religious conflict doesn't make sense and even doesn't  matter to most people in the US anyway. It's just, in my opinion, TMI.

I became an activist on behalf of children in Iraq in 1997,  when UNICEF and other reputable agencies on the ground were reporting that between 5.000 to 7,000 children were dying every MONTH in Iraq as a result of US supported UN Sanctions.  I didn't know anything, really about Iraq at that point, but I'm an educator and advocate for children.  What American could live with this, our government sustaining a policy that was resulting in the death of so many, many children? I thought it would be an easy fight, tell people what's happening, and they'll demand an end to it.

But it wasn't an easy fight.  These were not "just" children, these were Iraqi children.  People heard the figures—not just from me and other activists but from "authorities" like then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. When asked about the deaths of 250,000 children on that infamous segment of 60 Minutes in 1998, Albright responded that the price of keeping sanctions in place, the price of US policies in Iraq, might indeed be the death of all those children.  But, she said, the price was worth it. An entire Sunday night viewing audience heard this horrifying acknowledgement; I'm sure some felt badly  But neither the public nor our elected officials reacted with enough moral outrage to change US policy.  

Part of my activism was standing on a vigil line for one hour every Saturday for eight years, holding signs and  handing out flyers about the human disaster created by UN sanctions against Iraq.. I live in what would be described as a liberal college community. It was my experience that the public—people passing by and talking or taking our flyer—couldn't care about Iraqi children because they were too worried about Saddam Hussein.  Some even asked, well, how bad is 5,000 deaths per month in terms of the population of Iraq… is it significant?

Everyone knew the most important fact, the one they were supposed to know, and that fact formed the basis of their thinking and opinions about the situation in Iraq:  Saddam was an evil dictator capable of  murdering  his own people. In addition,  most people believed the government and media hype about the threat Iraq posed, believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was hell bent on using them against us if given half a chance. When all was said and done, fear won over concern for children dying in Iraq, over empathy for their suffering parents and the doctors who tried to care for them, over sympathy for the struggling communities who could not protect or provide for their basic needs.

Our thinking is clouded by fear.  On top of that and even worse,  for a long time I've been thinking that our moral inclination to be outraged and then moved to act is  being overwhelmed by too much news with, too much purposefully irrelevant information framing and then dominating a complex issue such as Iraq. Saddam Hussein's evil deeds aren't necessarily irrelevant, but the story of Iraq as of all countries is complex. Yes Saddam was evil, but still there were and are meaningful lives being lived, despite evil dictators. There  were many positives to go with the negatives.  Education in Iraq was mandatory for both girls and boys through grade six; education was free through university and free and there was universal, high quality health care. But all of that, social and economic  benefits we can only dream about in the US, all that along with  tens, probably hundreds of thousands and some would say more than a million lives disappeared, with the evil dictator.  The baby thrown out with the bath.

What could possibly have moved people in 2003 to support a war against Iraq knowing what devastation the sanctions had brought, and knowing what was at stake for ordinary men, women and especially children in Iraq?  Fear and I suppose oil.  What could possibly move people to support another round of military intervention in Iraq now, in 2014?  The misguided notion that "these people" cannot solve their own problems…just look at the religious strife.

So, I've been asking: what's important to know about the current crisis unfolding in Iraq? Asking why do we as activists or academics—as humanists—keep talking about it, framing it in sectarian terms: Sunni vs. Sh'ia vs. Kurd?  Isn't it enough to simply know there is yet another war and more marauding troops on the doorstep of Iraq?. What does it matter and who truly knows at this point who is fighting with whom, who is supporting whom and why? Ordinary people are caught up in wars they don't want and cannot end.  They "join up"  because they are forced to  or perhaps they need the money or to save their house and family.  Perhaps they are furious about the life they have been dealt. Who knows.

I argue that what we need to know, what we need to keep in mind so we can act as responsible, moral citizens is only this: the land, the people and culture, the entire society in Iraq has been torn asunder. Generations of children and their parents—Sunni, Shi'ia and Kurds—have been  set back and will not recover sufficiently to be in a position to be of help in revisioning or reconstructing their country. The very air they all  breathe, the water they all drink; the very earth they live on and the soil they grow food in is  dangerously polluted and will be toxic for generations to come. Enough!

We already know enough to act. We know we cannot "save" people by killing them; we cannot "save" villages in Afghanistan or cities in Iraq or the country of Syria by destroying them.  Turn off your radio and TV. Stop listening to corporate media pundits explaining (erroneously) why war between Sunni, Shi'ia and Kurd in Iraq is inevitable, why these frightening Arabs need us to help them control their out-of-control passions.  Stop listening.  Trust yourself, you already know enough to take action in whatever way is open to you.  Demand that fighting—all combat and  all financial support and intervention by foreign troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan—stop.  Demand an end to all of it.  It's way past  time to stop destroying and start rebuilding; it's time for all of us to demand an end to war.

Then, we can begin using our vast resources to give back  and help rebuild the lives and the countries we've destroyed.

It sounds impossible.  But the alternative—to continue on this path—is unacceptable.  Enough.

About the Author:
Claudia LefkoClaudia Lefko, a long-time educator, activist and advocate for children, is the founding director of The Iraqi Children's Art Exchange and its project, Baghdad Resolve: An International Collaboration to Improve Cancer Care in Iraq.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Source: http://www.commondreams.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:45:42 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54180-iraq-what-you-should-know-about-the-country-we-destroyed.html
Intersex Fish in Pennsylvania Watersheds Linked to Agricultural Run-off of Endocrine Disruptors http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54179-intersex-fish-in-pennsylvania-watersheds-linked-to-agricultural-run-off-of-endocrine-disruptors.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 7, 2014.  A study led by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) finds intersex fish in three watersheds of Pennsylvania and shows strong connections between these occurrences and increased pollution in waterways from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

The study, Reproductive Health Indicators of Fish from Pennsylvania Watersheds: Associations with Chemicals of Emerging Concern, examined three species of fish in three separate watersheds of Pennsylvania to assess whether characteristics caused by hormones and hormone-mimicking compounds, such as immature eggs in male fish, were present. In aquatic environments, the presence of these intersex characteristics is widely used as a biomarker for assessing exposure to estrogenic chemicals, as well as anti-androgenic chemicals which inhibit development of male characteristics.

Male smallmouth bass from all sites sampled had immature eggs in their testes; prevalence was lowest in the Ohio drainage, intermediate in the Delaware and highest in the Susquehanna. While these findings were disturbing in and of themselves, the study was also able to draw a connection to the increased presence of intersex characteristics and areas of high agricultural use.

“The prevalence and severity of the immature eggs in smallmouth bass corresponded with the percent of agricultural land use in the watershed above the collection sites,” said Vicki Blazer, PhD, a research fish biologist and lead author of the study. “Chemical compounds associated with estrogenic endocrine disruption, in particular estrone, a natural estrogen, were also associated with the extent and severity of these effects in bass.”

In other words, sites in the Susquehanna drainage had a higher prevalence and severity of these effects than sites in the Ohio drainage and when compared against the percentage of agricultural land use, which is higher in the Susquehanna, a link was established.

Interestingly, the same connection could not be drawn from the data concerning waste water treatment plants, leading researchers to conclude that there was no significant relationship between the number of waste water treatment plants and the prevalence of immature eggs in male fish. Data did show, however, that the severity of intersex characteristics of male small mouth bass generally increased at downstream sites from waste water treatment plants.

“The sources of estrogenic chemicals are most likely complex mixtures from both agricultural sources, such as animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and human sources from waste water treatment plant effluent and other sewage discharges,” said Dr. Blazer.

Endocrine Disruption and Agriculture: Not Only a Problem for Fish

If you are wondering why such a strong correlation could be drawn between agricultural use and water contaminated by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, then one need only look to the nation’s environmental law responsible for water pollution control and the chemical-intensive practices common to most conventional forms of agriculture. Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), agriculture is exempt from most water pollution standards and permitting requirements—even when it comes to pesticides. This leaves one of the largest sources of all kinds of pollutants completely unfettered and free to pollute, significantly contributing to everything from algal blooms and dead zones to intersex fish and pesticide contamination.

In fish and humans, endocrine disrupting effects include direct effects on traditional endocrine glands, their hormones and receptors such as estrogens, anti-androgens, and thyroid hormones, as well as signaling cascades that affect many of the body’s systems, including reproductive function and fetal development, the nervous system and behavior, the immune and metabolic systems, the liver, bones and many other organs, glands and tissues. Hundreds of scientific articles have been published across the globe demonstrating how a broad selection of chemicals can interfere with the normal development at all ranges of exposure. Scientists discovered effects for some widely used chemicals at concentrations thousands of times less than federal “safe” levels of exposure derived through traditional toxicological tests. Whatever the exposure level, neither fish nor human are protected from most endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in our waterways.

Beyond Pesticides continues to fight for improved protections against water pollution and harmful agricultural practices. Please visit our webpage, Threatened Waters, to learn more about this issue and what you can do to help change the tide of pesticide contamination in waters.

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

Sources: USGS; LiveScience, http://www.beyondpesticides.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:39:38 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54179-intersex-fish-in-pennsylvania-watersheds-linked-to-agricultural-run-off-of-endocrine-disruptors.html
The Hobby Lobby Lesson: We Need To Fight For Single-Payer Health Care http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54172-the-hobby-lobby-lesson-we-need-to-fight-for-single-payer-health-care.html
(Credit: flickr / cc / National Nurses United)

By Emily DiVito

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--July 3, 2014. Here is the clearest, and scariest, implication of the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – is fatally flawed. It is clear we now need a public, single-payer health care system – because the Supreme Court can no longer protect us.

The fact that Hobby Lobby Inc. actually had a legal standing to bring this case to court in order to contest providing comprehensive health care to their 18,000 employees should prove that a key feature of the Affordable Care Act is unsound: It relies too heavily on private entities to deliver a public good – health care.

The Hobby Lobby case was decided not under the constitutional rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, but under those dictated in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, drafted to prevent laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. Under that act, the government must prove that a law that hinders religious expression serves a “compelling state interest” and does so in the “least restrictive” way possible.

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion concedes that the government has a “compelling state interest” in providing contraception, but claims the Affordable Care Act does not do so with the “least restrictive means” to achieve this end. Unacknowledged, however, is that there is almost no way to provide comprehensive birth control coverage in a minimally restrictive way to businesses without widening government jurisdiction over health care. If businesses will not pay for health insurance that covers contraception, then the government must.

This exposes the primary and unavoidable weakness of the ACA. Because it still requires that private companies enforce what should be considered public policy – health care – the ACA will always face potential legal contention with the personally held religious beliefs of employers.

Moreover, Hobby Lobby Inc., Conestoga Wood and Mardel were able to preserve legal standing before the court while completely ignoring science and reality. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects their religious liberty so thoroughly that all the Greens and the Hahns had to do was believe that the forms of birth control in question, including emergency contraceptives, caused abortions. But, they very obviously do not. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists has maintained for years that “emergency contraception is not effective after implantation; therefore, it is not an abortifacient.”

Public policy needs to be based on empirical fact, not disproved or unproven beliefs. But we cannot do this until the American health care policy eliminates the role of private companies in administering public goods.

Intentionally or not, Justice Alito makes the case for an expansion of government control of health care. He maintains throughout his 49-page decision that the best way to ensure comprehensive birth control access under insurance plans “would be for the Government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections.”

Ironically, this represents a potential increase in the scope of the federal government that most conservatives would protest – and did protest when the ACA and the public option (in which the government would offer a publicly funded insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance) were up for debate four years ago.

Justice Alito’s offered solution to the newly formed coverage gap is the expansion of an ACA “accommodation” currently in place for religious nonprofits. Via an exemption to the ACA crafted by the Department of Health and Human Services, employees of these nonprofits are still eligible for contraceptive coverage through their existing insurance companies directly, and not through their religiously affiliated employer. Justice Alito maintains that “HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections [to contraception coverage].”

Interestingly, interest groups on both side of this debate rejected Alito’s alternative, albeit for completely different reasons.

Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby, maintains that the accommodation “fails to solve the moral problem created by the mandate for many religious organizations.”

Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center, said that expanding the existing accommodation would separate birth control from other health care drugs and services. “Birth control is a basic health service that almost all women in this country use for health care. And it is important that it be covered like every other service,” Waxman said.

President Obama seems to have taken note. When White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked Monday afternoon if the administration was looking to expand the current ACA accommodation in place for religious nonprofits, Earnest simply said “no.” Instead, he affirmed that the ruling made clear “that there is an opportunity for Congress to take the kinds of steps that would mitigate this problem.”

Unfortunately for American women, congressional action is very unlikely to happen, even though there is plenty of fervor over the issue among Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor Monday morning to declare “If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will.”

There are various legislative solutions to the contraceptive coverage gap left by the decision, including giving the federal government the power and the funds to cover contraception specifically and amending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But none of these are considered viable options amidst the current congressional dissonance.

But something must be done. A single-payer public health care option should be reexamined to detach employer whims from public needs. We must minimize the influence of bosses and businesses in the implementation of health care. No one elected them.

About the Author:

Emily DiVito

Emily DiVito is a senior at Wellesley College and a blogger for Campaign for America's Future.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Source: http://www.commondreams.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sun, 06 Jul 2014 15:19:38 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/54172-the-hobby-lobby-lesson-we-need-to-fight-for-single-payer-health-care.html