ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Sat, 30 May 2015 08:10:46 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Will Bernie Sanders Take on Hillary? http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61732-will-bernie-sanders-take-on-hillary.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015

By: Ralph Nader

(Image: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is off and running after his formal announcement for the presidency this past Tuesday before 5,000 cheering supporters in Burlington, Vermont. He is starting from the region that launched the American Revolution and he is promising to “begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally,” with “the support of millions of people throughout this country.”

He will take on the corporate plutocracy and its servile political oligarchy with numerous assets. In his long, scandal-free elective career, from Mayor of Burlington to the House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, Sanders can match his progressive rhetoric with a consistent voting record.

He has a large number of progressive supporters who are not “Ready for Hillary” because of her corporatism and militarism. This will assure his ability to raise at least $20 million, mostly in small donations, by the end of this year. He is probably near $5 million by now. This level of contributors can fund a competitive grassroots campaign drive, especially since he will be running as a Democrat – to get into the Party’s six primary debates – and won’t have to expend money and time getting on each state’s ballot.

Moreover, if you read the positions he has taken – summarized in his Burlington campaign speech – you can conclude that they already have majoritarian support in this country. Sanders’ “Agenda for America” is an outline of some key issues our country faces, complete with concrete facts to back up Sanders’ stances. The other candidates prefer to campaign with abstractions and to avoid detailed solutions to our country’s problems.

Sanders stands for a national program to repair and renovate America’s public facilities with thirteen million well-paying jobs that cannot be exported to China. He opposes the corporate-managed trade supremacy over domestic protections of workers, consumers and the environment that circumvent our open court system with literally secret tribunals. He has been a longtime challenger of the price-gouging taxpayer-subsidized pharmaceutical industry. He is advocating for a $15 an hour minimum wage “over the next few years.” He wants tuition-free college educations, full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital, “paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all” – some of what Western Europe has had for decades!

He pressed for the breakup of the too big to fail banks, calling them, along with conservative columnist George Will, “too big to exist” and an end to “huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry,” and while this “billionaire class” continues “sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work.”

So far so good, but Bernie Sanders is not without his vulnerabilities. He can be too easily dismissed by the corporate mass media as a gadfly going nowhere, as was recent Democratic presidential candidate, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Sanders must ensure that his speeches stay fresh and current, while touching on regional issues that vary, depending on where he is speaking, to avoid being tedious to the dittohead press that doesn’t apply the same standards of repetitive tedium to the mainstream front runners.

His case has to be based not just on current public needs but that the American people, as workers and taxpayers, have already paid for these public needs and have been swindled out of these long-overdue reforms. For many, material income, adjusted for inflation, stalled in the early nineteen seventies and the vast amount of the gains from growth and productivity since then have gone to the top five percent, especially to the top one percent of the wealthiest.

Furthermore, Sanders needs to give visibility to the massive, preventable silent violence afflicting innocent undefended Americans. These include occupational trauma and disease, hospital-induced infections and medical malpractice, deadly side effects of overused or dangerous medicines, toxic, cancer-producing pollution, and product defects. He needs to show that he is ready to tackle the cycle of poverty, where the poor pay more and die earlier. All this amounts to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths annually, along with larger numbers of preventable sickness and injuries. Many children are included in these victims of such societal conditions and others, including the continuing problem with the food industry marketing junk food and drinks directly to children.

We eagerly await his proposals for the structural shift of power from the few to the many workers, consumers, small taxpayers and voters.

Sanders’ will have a number of people and organizations bidding for his time to give him their opinions on any number of matters. He must remember to welcome advice with an open mind. Many of his political supporters have stuck with him for decades; it will be highly beneficial for him to listen to them. According to eyewitness accounts, he is not a good listener. The late Senator Paul Wellstone provided a fine example of how to network with citizen groups for the common good. As a presidential candidate he should follow the example of Wellstone.

The nagging problem facing the Vermont Senator is the dilemma of how to compete with and challenge Hillary Clinton. Thus far, he has said that he has “never run a negative political ad” and that he respects his former fellow Senatorial colleague. Progressives may not like negative ads, but they do want a candidate who clearly articulates differences with other candidates in direct ways that draw voters away from those competitors. Assuming he is reallyrunning to win.

Sanders has to take on Hillary Clinton and the other candidates with the issues that matter – the ones that truly show the difference between their voting records and assumed positions, especially her illegal, disastrous, brute force (think Libya) foreign/military policy. Her record favors Wall Street and the military-industrial complex, He also has to, in his way, convince Democratic and Independent voters, not only that he will be good for America but that on many issues Hillary will not support shifting power and control of wealth, income and our commonwealth from the Plutocratic few to the many.

As it stands, Hillary is fully prepared to humor “my friend Bernie”, offer abstract agreement, and then sideline him.

About the Author:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).


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Source: www.commondreams.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 22:44:27 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61732-will-bernie-sanders-take-on-hillary.html
From Fracking to Coal Waste, NAACP Confronts Environmental Racism in North Carolina http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61731-from-fracking-to-coal-waste-naacp-confronts-environmental-racism-in-north-carolina.html

The organization that brought the Moral Monday movement announces investigation into environmental civil rights violations

The NAACP investigation was announced Wednesday. (Photo screen shot from NAACP video)
The NAACP investigation was announced Wednesday. (Photo screen shot from NAACP video)

The organization that spurred the south's "Moral Mondays" movement announced this week it is launching a civil rights investigation into the disproportionate public health hazard that fracking and coal ash pollution pose to poor communities and people of color in one North Carolina county.

The NAACP probe is specifically aimed at uncovering environmental racism in Stokes County but has broad implications for a state whose coal waste contamination and just-greenlighted fracking tests have garnered nation-wide attention—and concern.

"We wish we didn’t have to but we are committed to doing so, to investigate and really bring justice around this issue of coal ash and about fracking, and about the injustices of these industries that operate without any regard for the human rights of the people who are impacted by this pollution," declared Baltimore-based Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, at a Wednesday news conference at the Rising Star Baptist Church in Walnut Cove, North Carolina.

The NAACP will be working with the organization's North Carolina and Stokes County chapters to pursue the investigation.

The initiative was revealed just days after environmental regulators issued the state's first ever contracts to launch fracking tests at select locations. One of those sites is located in the majority-black community of Walnut Tree—located in Stokes County, which is more than 90 percent white.

That fact alone is raising concerns that people of color will be disproportionately impacted by the numerous hazards associated with a potential fracking sites—including dangerous pollution of drinking water.

But it doesn't stop there. Residents are worried that fracking could compromise the stability of the massive coal ash waste pond at Belews Creek Steam Station owned by Duke Energy. The company's toxic and leaking coal ash ponds across the state have attracted international attention, but according to residents, an inadequate regulatory response.

There are already signs that the Belews pond poses a threat. "Around the Belews coal ash pond, four of the 11 wells tested showed high iron, vanadium or acidic pH levels," reports the Winston-Salem Journal. "Letters from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services advised the four well owners against drinking the water, though it is not known clearly whether the pollutants were from the coal ash pond or are naturally occurring components of the soil."

"If you look at what population is most impacted from the [Belews Creek Steam Station] coal ash pond, it is a disproportionate number of people of color and low-income people surrounding that pond," Amy Adams, North Carolina campaign coordinator for advocacy organization Appalachian Voices, told Common Dreams. "This is different from the larger community."

The NAACP insists that environmental racism must be identified and challenged. The organization is behind the "Moral Monday" and "Forward Together" protests for racial, social, economic, and gender justice that continue to sweep the state, and organizers say that the Stokes County fight is connected to this larger picture.

"Health and environmental justice are two fights we must engage in," said North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II in a message read at Wednesday's announcement. "Extremist policies that undermine healthcare and environmental protections cost lives, and therefore are immoral and a violation of our most sacred values regarding equal protection under the law."


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Source: www.commondreams.org



shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 22:40:25 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61731-from-fracking-to-coal-waste-naacp-confronts-environmental-racism-in-north-carolina.html
In Face of Rising Climate Movement, Tar Sands on Life Support: Report http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/61730-in-face-of-rising-climate-movement-tar-sands-on-life-support-report.html

Evidence of struggling tar sands sector suggests opportunity to slow the rate of growth 'significantly'

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015
Oil Change International credits a growing people's climate movement for slowing tar sands growth. (Photo: Chris Yakimov/flickr/cc)

With dozens of carbon-intensive tar sands projects delayed or on hold, a new report released Friday confidently declares: "The case for the tar sands is crumbling."

A new analysis by Oil Change International identifies 39 projects—representing more than 1.61 million barrels per day (bpd) of potential tar sands oil production capacity—that companies are currently unable or unwilling to invest in.

That's good news for the climate and the environment, as well as for frontline communities that bear the brunt of the toxic tar sands production.

And it's bad news for the tar sands sector, which now finds itself "struggling to justify many new projects," says Hannah McKinnon, senior campaigner on private finance at Oil Change International.

According to the report, On the Edge: 1.6 Million Barrels per Day of Proposed Tar Sands Oil on Life Support (pdf), the delayed and on-hold projects include three open pit mine projects with a combined capacity of over 450,000 bpd, and over 30 drilling projects with nearly 1.2 million bpd capacity. The total extractable tar sands oil in these projects is almost 13 billion barrels. If all of that resource was extracted and burned, around 7.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted—equivalent to 40 years of emissions from 51 average U.S. coal-fired power plants.

Furthermore, the Oil Change analysis found that an additional 550,000 bpd of production capacity is owned by companies that have filed for bankruptcy—"another clear indicator of weakness in the sector," the authors write.

A number of factors have led to this decline, the report says, pointing to plummeting oil prices; shifting politics in the 'tar sands capital' of Alberta, Canada; and the rise of both alternative energy technologies and the grassroots climate movement.

"The combination of citizen action to block pipelines and development and the rising tide of climate policies and alternative technologies, which are together leading to lower oil demand growth and lower oil prices, signal very strong headwinds for an oil source that is both high cost and high carbon," the report reads. Should such conditions persist, it goes on, "the rate of growth may slow significantly in the coming years—potentially avoiding lock-in of a significant amount of [greenhouse gas] emissions."

Still, the authors warn against growing complacent in the face of an industry that will fight tooth and nail to maintain its dominance.

"This report is some good news for the climate, but the battle is far from over. Every day of delay for tar sands projects is a good day for our future, but this is an industry determined to dig it up," said Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International. "But while the industry puts its head down and tries to charge ahead, people around the continent are rising up to defend our communities and climate, and their efforts are clearly paying dividends."


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Source: www.commondreams.org




shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 22:36:51 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/61730-in-face-of-rising-climate-movement-tar-sands-on-life-support-report.html
First West Nile Virus Positive Mosquito in Illinois for 2015 Reported http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61725-first-west-nile-virus-positive-mosquito-in-illinois-for-2015-reported.html SPRINGFIELD --(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first West Nile virus positive mosquito batch reported in Illinois for 2015.  St. Clair County Health Department employees collected a positive mosquito batch on May 26, 2015, in O’Fallon.

“West Nile virus activity is largely dependent on the weather and with the increased temperatures we’ve been seeing in Southern Illinois, mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are becoming active,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “We want to remind people not to be complacent.  Take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of standing water around your home.”  

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms.  People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.  Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches.  Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.  However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.  In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.  People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.

The first West Nile virus positive results in 2014 were a positive bird in Henry County collected on May 29, 2014, and a positive mosquito batch in Madison County collected on May 30, 2014.  Last year, 50 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case.  For the 2014 season, IDPH reported 44 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including four deaths.  No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year.

As temperatures continue to warm up, remember to take some simple precautions to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and protect yourself from being bitten.  Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.

• REDUCE exposure - minimize being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.  If you go outside during these times, take precautions.   Even if mosquito numbers seem low, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transmit the virus.

 Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.  Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.  Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.

 Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, such as old tires, buckets and other receptacles, or refresh the water in bird baths, flowerpots and wading pools every couple days.

• REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

• REPORT – report dead birds to your local health department.  In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government about areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found by logging onto www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/west-nile-virus.

Source: illinois.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 22:24:02 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61725-first-west-nile-virus-positive-mosquito-in-illinois-for-2015-reported.html
Senator Kirk Urges President Obama to Halt Canadian Proposal to Store Nuclear Waste Near Great Lakes http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61720-senator-kirk-urges-president-obama-to-halt-canadian-proposal-to-store-nuclear-waste-near-great-lakes.html Proposal Would Store 7 Million Cubic Feet of Nuclear Waste Less Than a Mile From Great Lakes

CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent a letter to President Obama expressing serious concern with a proposed nuclear waste repository in Canada, which would be located less than a mile away from the Great Lakes and is currently under review by the Canadian government. The Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) proposal would store 7 million cubic feet of nuclear waste for thousands of years at their Bruce Nuclear Station on Lake Huron. Senator Kirk urged the President to work with the Canadian government to delay final approval of the project while calling for an environmental review by the International Joint Commission (IJC), an independent organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 for cooperative management of our shared Great Lakes. In May, Canada’s Environmental Review Panel recommended the project be approved. Now, under Canadian law, Canada’s Environmental Minister has until September 4, 2015, to determine whether or not to authorize the facility’s construction.

“As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I am fighting to keep our lakes free from toxins that could harm our precious ecological system and threaten the drinking water source for more than 30 million Americans,” Senator Kirk said. “Storing nuclear waste underground along the shores of the Great Lakes directly jeopardizes the wellbeing of this shared natural resource, and I urge the President to work with the Canadian Government to postpone this decision and protect our lakes for generations to come.”  

History of Opposition:

Sent letters in 2011 and 2013 expressing concerns with Ontario Power Generation’s proposal 

September 18, 2014 – Introduced a resolution of disapproval for the project (S.Res.565)

April 13, 2015 – Introduced a resolution of disapproval for the site (S.Res.134

Text of the letter can be seen below:                                       

May 22, 2015 

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500 

Dear President Obama,

I urge you to engage the Canadian government and International Joint Commission (IJC) to address a recent threatening proposal to permanently store toxic nuclear waste under the Great Lakes Basin, the source of safe drinking water for 30 million Americans and one of our most precious natural resources. On May 6, 2015, Canada’s Joint Review Panel issued an Environmental Assessment Report and recommended approval of Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) proposal to permanently store toxic nuclear waste less than one mile from the shores of Lake Huron. This matter presents an immediate threat to all the Great Lakes, and I ask you to use all diplomatic means available to urge the Canadian government to delay its decision-making process until the proposal has been given all due consideration by the IJC.

Under Canadian law, Canada’s Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, has 120 days following the review panel recommendation to make a final authorization decision. As a permanent repository, the Kincardine, Ontario facility would hold 7 million cubic feet of nuclear waste for thousands of years. Any leak during that time could unleash toxic material throughout the Great Lakes Basin, and contaminate the largest surface freshwater system in the world while causing irreparable damage to the more than 3,500 plants and animals that inhabit the ecosystem. Even with these serious risks to the Great Lakes, the Canadian review panel failed to consider any potential alternative sites.

The United States and Canada created the IJC, guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, to prevent and resolve disputes over shared waters.  One of the IJC’s main responsibilities is to investigate transboundary issues and recommend solutions when requested by the national governments. In the Boundary Waters Treaty, both countries agreed that neither would pollute boundary waters to an extent that would cause injury to health or property in the other country.  And yet, with this Ontario Power Generation proposal Canada is on the path to permanently storing toxic nuclear waste under our Great Lakes.

As the co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I understand the serious threat this repository has on the long-term health of the Great Lakes Basin. We must ensure the environmental integrity of the Great Lakes for future generations to come.  I urge you to use your authority to request an IJC study into this matter, to utilize Federal resources to properly assess the risks this proposal poses to the United States, and to request that the Canadian Government postpone its final decision until both parties of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 properly consider the matter.


Senator Mark Kirk  

cc: John Kerry, Secretary, U.S. Department of State
cc: Gina McCarthy, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
cc: Gordon Walker, Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC)
cc: Lana Pollack, United States Chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC)

Source: kirk.senate.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 22:10:00 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61720-senator-kirk-urges-president-obama-to-halt-canadian-proposal-to-store-nuclear-waste-near-great-lakes.html
Secretary Vilsack Announces Additional 800,000 Acres Dedicated to Conservation Reserve Program for Wildlife Habitat and Wetlands http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61709-secretary-vilsack-announces-additional-800-000-acres-dedicated-to-conservation-reserve-program-for-wildlife-habitat-and-wetlands.html Secretary Hails Program's 30th Anniversary, Announces General Signup Period

MILWAUKEE--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land may be enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under certain wetland and wildlife initiatives that provide multiple benefits on the same land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept new offers to participate in CRP under a general signup to be held Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. Eligible existing program participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2015, will be granted an option for one-year extensions. Farmers and ranchers interested in removing sensitive land from agricultural production and planting grasses or trees to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat are encouraged to enroll. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a speech delivered at the Ducks Unlimited National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road," said Vilsack. "This has been one of most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today's announcement keeps that momentum moving forward."

The voluntary Conservation Reserve Program allows USDA to contract with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive land is conserved. Participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

"CRP protects water quality and restores significant habitat for ducks, pheasants, turkey, quail, deer and other important wildlife. That spurs economic development like hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism all over rural America," said Vilsack. "Today we're allowing an additional 800,000 acres for duck nesting habitat and other wetland and wildlife habitat initiatives to be enrolled in the program."

In addition to Ducks Unlimited's partnership with the Conservation Reserve Program, other longtime partners include Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Association of State Foresters, National Wild Turkey Federation, Audubon Society, National Bobwhite Technical Committee, Quality Deer Management Association, National Rural Water Association, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Longleaf Alliance, state soil and water conservation districts, and state forestry, agriculture and natural resource agencies.

"I encourage all farmers and ranchers to consider the various CRP continuous sign-up initiatives that may help target specific resource concerns," said Vilsack. "Financial assistance is offered for many practices including conservation buffers and pollinator habitat plantings, and initiatives such as the highly erodible lands, bottomland hardwood tree and longleaf pine, all of which are extremely important."

Farmers and ranchers may visit their FSA county office for additional information. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the enrollment of grasslands in CRP and information on grasslands enrollment will be available after the regulation is published later this summer.

The Conservation Reserve Program was re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing, and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

For more information about CRP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation, or contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Source: usda.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 16:28:41 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61709-secretary-vilsack-announces-additional-800-000-acres-dedicated-to-conservation-reserve-program-for-wildlife-habitat-and-wetlands.html
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Joins Community Partners to Expand Access to Summer Meals for Children http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61708-agriculture-secretary-vilsack-joins-community-partners-to-expand-access-to-summer-meals-for-children.html Program that feeds hungry kids during the summer commemorates 40th anniversary

MILWAUKEE--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015 – Today Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined representatives from Milwaukee's Hunger Task Force, the Kohl's Corporation, and members of the Milwaukee community to bring attention to childhood hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) summer meal programs provide breakfast and lunch to children in low-income communities all across the country. The event today marked the start of this program and Kohl's Serving Up Supper for Kids, a joint effort between the Hunger Task Force and the Kohl's Corporation to provide nutritious suppers to Milwaukee children in need throughout the summer.

"For 40 years, USDA has supported summer meal programs that keep children in low-income communities active and engaged when school is out, while providing critical nutrition and reducing the learning loss that often occurs during the summer months," said Secretary Vilsack. "Programs like these in Milwaukee allow communities to take the lead role in preventing hunger and focus their efforts in local areas with the greatest need. Over the long haul, this program can result in children performing better in school, which in turn can put them in a better position to be competitive in the global workplace."

During the school year, more than 21 million children rely on free and reduced priced meals provided by the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, but only 3.8 million participate in USDA's summer meal programs: the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the National School Lunch Program's Seamless Summer Option. These programs work in concert to close this gap by ensuring children have access to safe, healthy meals when school lets out. This helps children stay healthy and be ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.

Last year, the summer meal programs enjoyed a historic increase of 11 million more meals served compared to the previous summer, serving a total of more than 187 million meals at over 50,000 summer meal sites throughout the country. This year, on the 40th anniversary of the program, USDA hopes to serve an additional 13 million meals to meet our challenge of serving 200 million meals to children nationwide.

Next week, USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon will be visiting Ranson Elementary School in West Virginia for its official kick-off event as part of National Summer Meals Kick-Off Week. Concannon will present State Senator John Unger with the Summer Champion Award for his work championing food security.

West Virginia is one of 13 states that are receiving intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of the summer meal programs. These states were chosen because they have high levels of rural and urban food insecurity and/or reduced program participation. The other states include: Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

"We are deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans, in rural and urban areas, have access to a healthy diet whether at home or at school," said Under Secretary Concannon. "These public-private partnerships are key to galvanizing interest in combating hunger. We need more community partners to serve as sponsors or to help run sites where young people can easily go for a healthy meal or snack, as well as for physical and enrichment activities."

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and other child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

Source: usda.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 16:27:07 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61708-agriculture-secretary-vilsack-joins-community-partners-to-expand-access-to-summer-meals-for-children.html
EPA Plan to Save Bees Skirts the Issue, Ignores Most Problematic Form of Pesticide Use http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61703-epa-plan-to-save-bees-skirts-the-issue-ignores-most-problematic-form-of-pesticide-use.html

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed a new rule yesterday restricting the use of pesticides on crops when honey bees are present for contracted pollination services.  While the rule would apply to nearly all insecticides, including neonicotinoids that have been linked to bee population declines, it would not address the most widespread and most problematic use of neonicotinoids—coatings on seeds, particularly corn and soybeans, used on over a 120 million acres of American farmland.

“EPA is continuing to ignore the elephant in the room – insecticide seed coatings. This unnecessary application of insecticides pervades and contaminates every aspect of a bee’s environment – its food, its water, its entire habitat,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director at Center for Food Safety. “We can’t save bees just by limiting spraying here and there when entire ecosystems have become danger zones for pollinators.”

EPA’s plan only addresses bees’ acute exposure to insecticides, not the long term, sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids.  New science suggests sub-lethal exposure in agricultural landscapes could be even more damaging to pollinating species, particularly wild bees, than acute exposure.

The new rule also asks states to develop voluntary protection plans. These state plans suggest farmers notify beekeepers of impending pesticide applications, and assume notification will protect all pollinators by placing the burden on beekeepers to avoid pesticide exposure. Such a system, at best, only benefits managed honey bees, not wild bees.  Moreover, it does not account for the persistence of systemic pesticides in the environment long after application, which affects all pollinating species. In addition to wild bees, research has demonstrated negative impacts from neonicotinoids on monarch butterflies and birds, also unaccounted for in EPA’s new rule. Already, one third of North America’s native bumble bees are at risk of extinction.

 “EPA is working at the edges of the problem but has yet to deal with the crux of the issue. We hope to see the agency continue to move towards more impactful pesticide restrictions in order to save the full spectrum of pollinator species,” said Walker.

Source: www.centerforfoodsafety.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 15:57:00 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61703-epa-plan-to-save-bees-skirts-the-issue-ignores-most-problematic-form-of-pesticide-use.html
EPA Proposes Increases in Renewable Fuel Levels http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61699-epa-proposes-increases-in-renewable-fuel-levels.html WASHINGTON —(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  Today the EPA announced proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry.

“This proposal marks an important step forward in making sure the Renewable Fuel Standard program delivers on the Congressional intent to increase biofuel use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security,” said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air. “We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels.”

After extensive outreach and dialogue with the agricultural community, biofuel producers and the oil and gas industry, EPA is proposing to establish 2014 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel use in that year, and standards for 2015 and 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that increase steadily over time.

Proposed Renewable Fuels Volumes

Cellulosic biofuel
33 mill gal
106 mill gal
206 mill gal
Biomass-based diesel
1.63 bill gal
1.70 bill gal
1.80 bill gal
1.90 bill gal
Advanced biofuel
2.68 bill gal
2.90 bill gal
3.40 bill gal
Total renewable fuel
15.93 bill gal
16.30 bill gal
17.40 bill gal

Note: Units for all volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel volumes which are expressed as physical gallons.

The proposed volumes represent substantial growth over historic levels. For example:

The proposed 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel – those fuels with the lowest GHG emissions profile – is more than 170 million gallons higher than the actual 2014 volumes. That’s six times higher than actual 2014 volumes.

The proposed 2016 standard for total renewable fuel is nearly 1.5 billion gallons more, or about 9 percent higher, than the actual 2014 volumes.

The proposed 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is more than 700 million gallons – 27 percent – higher than the actual 2014 volumes.

Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 1.9 billion gallons by 2017. That’s 17 percent higher than the actual 2014 volumes.

EPA is proposing to use the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets, but the steadily increasing volumes in the proposal indicate that biofuels remain an important part of the nation’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate change.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. By displacing fossil fuels, biofuels help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help strengthen energy security.

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on June 25, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 27. EPA will finalize the volume standards in this rule by Nov. 30.

For more information on today’s announcement, go to www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm



shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 15:45:28 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61699-epa-proposes-increases-in-renewable-fuel-levels.html
A Patient’s Budding Cortex — In a Dish? http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61697-a-patient-s-budding-cortex-in-a-dish.html Networking neurons thrive in 3-D human “organoid”

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  A patient tormented by suicidal thoughts gives his psychiatrist a few strands of his hair. She derives stem cells from them to grow budding brain tissue harboring the secrets of his unique illness in a petri dish. She uses the information to genetically engineer a personalized treatment to correct his brain circuit functioning. Just Sci-fi? Yes, but...

Image of budding brain-like structures

Budding brain-like “human cortical spheroids” growing in a petri dish. Source: Sergiu Pasca, M.D., Stanford University

An evolving “disease-in-a-dish” technology, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is bringing closer the day when such a seemingly futuristic personalized medicine scenario might not seem so far-fetched. Scientists have perfected mini cultured 3-D structures that grow and function much like the outer mantle – the key working tissue, or cortex — of the brain of the person from whom they were derived. Strikingly, these “organoids” buzz with neuronal network activity. Cells talk with each other in circuits, much as they do in our brains.

Sergiu Pasca, M.D. External Web Site Policy, of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, and colleagues, debut what they call “human cortical spheroids,” May 25, 2015 online in the journal Nature Methods.

“There’s been amazing progress in this field over the past few years,” said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, which provided most of the funding for the study. “The cortex spheroids grow to a state in which they express functional connectivity, allowing for modeling and understanding of mental illnesses. They do not even begin to approach the complexity of a whole human brain. But that is not exactly what we need to study disorders of brain circuitry. As we seek advances that promise enormous potential benefits to patients, we are ever mindful of the ethical issues they present.”

Prior to the new study, scientists had developed a way to study neurons differentiated from stem cells derived from patients’ skin cells — using a technology called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). They had even produced primitive organoids by coaxing neurons and support cells to organize themselves, mimicking the brain’s own architecture. But these lacked the complex circuitry required to even begin to mimic the workings of our brains.

Image of cross section of spheroids

Neurons and supporting cells in the spheroids form layers and organize themselves according to the architecture of the developing human brain and network with each other. Source: Sergiu Pasca, M.D., Stanford University

Based on an improved, streamlined method for producing iPSCs, Pasca’s team’s cortex-like spheroids harbor healthier neurons supported by a more naturalistic network of supporting glial cells, resulting in more functional neural connections and circuitry. Like the developing brain, the neurons form layers and talk with each other via neural networks. The spheroid technology is more consistent than earlier organoids in generating the same kinds of cortex-like structures in repeated experiments.

The budding cortex also lends itself to analysis using conventional brain slice methods. So, in a sci-fi future, it might potentially reveal what circuits went awry in the developing cortex of a particular individual with a brain disorder.

“While the technology is still maturing, there is great potential for using these assays to more accurately develop, test safety and effectiveness of new treatments before they are used in individuals with a mental illness,” said David Panchision, Ph.D., NIMH program director for stem cell research.

What’s next? Perhaps development of multiple neuron subtypes that normally populate the cortex, as well as long-distance connections between this cortex-like structure and other -- yet to be developed – organoid structures.

Grants: MH100900, MH099555, MH060233, MH106261, MH094714, MH099797, GM007365, NS075252, NS092474

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the http://www.nimh.nih.gov.

The NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®


Functional cortical neurons and astrocytes from human pluripotent stem cells in 3D culture. Pasca AM, Sloan SA, Clarke LE, Tian Y, Makinson CD, Huber N, Kim CH, Park JY, O'Rourke NA, Nguyen KD, Smith SJ, Huguenard JR, Geschwind DH, Barres BA, Pasca SP. Nat Methods. 2015 May 25. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3415. [Epub ahead of print PMID:26005811]

Source: nih.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 15:33:22 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61697-a-patient-s-budding-cortex-in-a-dish.html
Antibiotic Approved for Treating Infant Abdominal Infections http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61696-antibiotic-approved-for-treating-infant-abdominal-infections.html NIH-funded study evaluated meropenem in children under 3 months

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--May 29, 2015.  The antibiotic meropenem was approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration for treating abdominal infections in children less than 3 months of age. The approval came after a study by a National Institutes of Health research network evaluated the drug in treating children in this age group.

The May 28 issue of The Federal Register described the study which supported the approval of meropenem for “complicated intra-abdominal infections” in children under 3 months of age. Among preterm infants, intestinal perforation or leakage — which is part of complicated intra-abdominal infection — may be life threatening. The study was undertaken under the terms of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, which directed NIH to conduct studies on drugs used in children but not previously tested in children or in specific pediatric age groups.

Meropenem is a broad spectrum antibiotic — effective against a wide variety of bacteria. The drug has been previously approved to treat complicated intra-abdominal infections and complicated skin infections in adults and older children, and for treating children 3 months of age and older with bacterial meningitis — an infection of the fluid bathing the brain and spinal cord. During the last several years, physicians have begun prescribing meropenem for preterm infants with serious abdominal infections. Because they lacked an effective alternative, many physicians had prescribed the drug for a use other than what the FDA had approved. The NIH study was undertaken in response to a written request from the FDA to evaluate the dosing and safety of meropenem in the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections in infants under 3 months of age.

“This study shows that meropenem is appropriate for treating complicated intra-abdominal infections in very young infants. In addition, we now have dosing guidelines for various age groups of premature infants,” said Anne Zajicek, M.D., Pharm.D., chief of the Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study.

Dr. Zajicek explained that physicians often need to extrapolate from studies of adults when prescribing for pediatric patients, because many drugs have never been tested specifically for use in children. However, because of their smaller size, differences in metabolism, and other physical differences from adults, many drugs may affect children differently than they do adults. Under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, NICHD works with FDA to identify drugs not tested in children to determine if they are appropriate for use in children.

The NICHD commissioned the study to investigate meropenem use in 200 infants under 3 months of age, including premature infants. Researchers examined how the drug was absorbed and distributed throughout the body, and used that information to develop dosing recommendations for different age groups of infants, including premature infants of different ages. In addition, the study evaluated side effects. Based on this study, treatment of infants with meropenem was safe and was not associated with increased risk for serious side effects.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at http://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Source: nih.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 15:30:07 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61696-antibiotic-approved-for-treating-infant-abdominal-infections.html
Canadian Senate Committee Report Finds Neonicotinoids Play Role in Bee Mortality http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61695-canadian-senate-committee-report-finds-neonicotinoids-play-role-in-bee-mortality.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015.  A report released by the Canadian Senate’s Committee on Agriculture and Forestry this week acknowledges that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees, although it adds that more scientific data is needed before making any policies in response. The report was released exactly one week after a similar announcement by the White House, which also identifies key threats, but falls short of recommendations submitted by Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and others who stress that pollinator protection begins with strong regulatory action and suspension of bee-toxic pesticides.

Douglas Kirk2The Canadian report, titled “The Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada,” highlights different stressors that cause harm to bees, one of which includes neonicotinoids, a class of widely-used insecticides that have been linked by a growing number of studies to global bee declines. Other stressors mentioned include climate change, diseases and parasites, and lack of floral diversity. The report calls for Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to quickly complete its re-evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids have been approved for use in Canada for 10 years, but the PMRA is in the process of re-examining their use.

Senator Percy Mockler, the chair of Senate’s agriculture committee, stressed waiting for the findings of the PMRA’s evaluations before making a decision on the pesticide. He says similar evaluations are being carried out in the United States and in Europe. “I think it very important that we establish policies based on science,” he said at a press conference following the report’s release Wednesday.

The report outlines nine specific recommendations to improve bee health in Canada, including:

  • Allowing the import of “bee packages” used to start colonies from other countries, such as the United States.
  • Accelerate the conditional registration process in order to reduce the current number of conditional registrations granted to neonicotinoid active ingredients.
  • Continue monitoring pollinator mortality during the spring of 2015 to determine effectiveness of protective measured adopted for the 2014 planting seasons.
  • Increasing the amount and duration of research funding in order to conduct long-term research into the preservation of pollinator health.
  • Improve management practices of hobbyist beekeepers and growers while minimizing chemical product use and ensuring the availability of untreated seeds.
  • Improve pollinator habitat via initiatives such as the planting of selected wild flowering plants on median strips and highway shoulders, and other areas.

The Canada report mirrors the recent White House announcement addressing pollinator health. The Pollinator Health Task Force, established by President Obama in June 2014, brought together federal agencies to “reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels,” and involved developing a National Pollinator Health Strategy and a Pollinator Research Action Plan. The Strategy outlines several components, such as a focus on increased pollinator habitat, public education and outreach, and further research into a range of environmental stressors, including systemic neonicotinoid pesticides. While well-intentioned, the Strategy ultimately works at cross-purposes by encouraging habitat, but continuing to allow pesticides that contaminate landscapes. In comparison, although the Canada report puts more of an emphasis on addressing concerns regarding neonicotinoid insecticides, it also falls short by failing to suspend the use of these chemicals. In the meantime, the science linking neonicotinoids to widespread bee deaths continues to grow.

Beyond Pesticides and its allies have called for suspensions on neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly the most widely used and toxic: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. These pesticides are used in a variety of home and garden products, and most commonly in corn and soybean seed treatment, where they remain in plant tissues, including pollen and nectar, for long periods of time. Along with suspensions to registrations, groups have urged EPA to conduct broader reviews on the impact of these systemic pesticides on other beneficial non-target organisms, including endangered species, and impacts to ecosystem biodiversity.

There are several factors that contribute to pollinator decline. However, it is the neonicotinoid class of pesticides that is receiving the most scrutiny from scientists and beekeepers. A growing number of studies find that even at low levels neonicotinoids impair foraging ability, navigation, learning behavior, and suppress the immune system, making bees more susceptible to pathogens and disease. A recent study finds that bees will favor neonicotinoid contaminated food over uncontaminated food, indicating that these chemicals can pose unique risks within supposedly bee-friendly habitat. In April, EPA announced a moratorium on new neonicotinoid pesticide products and uses, and its draft report on treated soybean seeds concluded that the neonicotinoid treatments were not efficacious.

Sources: CBC, www.beyondpesticides.org

Photo Source: Douglas Kirk

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


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 29 May 2015 15:25:33 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61695-canadian-senate-committee-report-finds-neonicotinoids-play-role-in-bee-mortality.html
ACLU Finds Severe Racial Disparities in Low-Level Arrests by Minneapolis Police http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/61689-aclu-finds-severe-racial-disparities-in-low-level-arrests-by-minneapolis-police.html Patterns of Racial Bias and Overcriminalization Show Urgent Need for Reform; Blacks and Native Americans Disproportionately Affected

ST. PAUL, Minn. --(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015.  The American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota released their analysis of more than 96,000 arrests made by Minneapolis police officers for low-level offenses from January 2012 through September 2014. Picking up the Pieces: Policing in America, a Minneapolis Case Study reveals that Black Minneapolitans were 8.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for a low-level offense – any offense with a fine of $3,000 or less and/or a year or less in jail. Native Americans were 8.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for such offenses.

“Minneapolis police show the same patterns of racial bias that we’re seeing across the country and that demand reform,” said Emma Andersson, staff attorney with the ACLU. “In Minneapolis, the eyes of the law look at Blacks and Native Americans differently than whites. The resulting injustices – more fees and fines, more time in jail, more criminal records – hurt Minneapolitans and undermine public safety.”

Picking Up the Pieces explores racial disparities and overcriminalization affecting the city’s homeless population and its young people. For example, among young people ages 17 and under, Black youth were 5.8 times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than white youth; for Native Americans, this figure was 7.7. Police arrested Black youth disproportionately for curfew violations; 33 children under age 10 received curfew citations, 20 of whom were Black.

Along with its data analysis, Picking Up the Pieces offers stories and perspectives from Minneapolis residents about the police’s racial profiling, including a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5I5iRlamTQ.

The case study also presents detailed recommendations for reforms that will move Minneapolis toward more democratic and effective policing, such as

Strengthen the Minneapolis Police Department’s current ban on racial profiling

Ensure the evaluation system for police officers doesn’t reward them for the numbers of stops and arrests for low-level offenses they make

Establish an empowered civilian review body that has authority to discipline officers when necessary

Expand pre-arrest diversion programs that give young people and homeless people alternatives to arrest

“The ACLU commends Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau for recent changes, such as adding implicit bias training. However, these changes are only a start. We urge the chief and other policymakers to engage in the sweeping reform necessary to correct the extreme racial disparities documented in this analysis,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota.

Picking Up the Pieces: Policing in America, a Minneapolis Case Study is available here: https://www.aclu.org/feature/picking-pieces


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Source: www.commondreams.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 23:48:16 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/61689-aclu-finds-severe-racial-disparities-in-low-level-arrests-by-minneapolis-police.html
Inmates Cut Off Methadone Less Likely to Seek It After Release http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61680-inmates-cut-off-methadone-less-likely-to-seek-it-after-release.html When people on methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) are incarcerated in the United States, they are almost always forced off of the addiction-controlling medicine. In a randomized trial led by researchers at Brown University and The Miriam Hospital, inmates allowed to stay on MMT while in jail proved much more likely to seek treatment after release than those whose treatment was interrupted.

Dr. Josiah Rich “[Methadone is] the only medication that is summarily stopped upon incarceration. This study questioned that policy to find out what happens.” Photo: Mike Cohea/Brown University

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University]--(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015 — New trial results published in The Lancet show that inmates forced off of methadone maintenance treatment upon incarceration — a widespread policy in U.S. prisons and jails — were significantly less likely to return to the effective addiction-controlling remedy after they were released than those who, because of the study, were allowed to remain in treatment.

In the United States nearly 90 percent of the people undergoing methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for opioid addiction will be cut off from the medicine if they are imprisoned. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “the median death rate of opiate-dependent individuals in MMT is 30 percent of the rate of those not in MMT.” The treatment not only saves lives but also reduces the drug-seeking behaviors that lead to crime and the risk behaviors that lead to the spread of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.

Public health experts therefore have worried that interrupting treatment during incarceration might make people suffering the lifelong battle against addiction more vulnerable after they return to the community. People who have undergone withdrawal from heroin lose their tolerance, for example, but if they resume using they often take the same amount as before. That leads to deadly overdoses.

The new study is the first randomized controlled trial to test whether allowing people to continue MMT upon incarceration increases their likelihood of seeking treatment when they return to the community. The results show that it does. The implication of the finding is that the policy of interrupting MMT for people with addiction reduces their inclination to resume it.

“What we are doing with methadone in our correctional system is we are systematically taking people off it,” said study lead author Dr. Josiah Rich, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brown University and director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital. “It’s the only medication that is summarily stopped upon incarceration. This study questioned that policy to find out what happens.”

A trial behind bars

Rich and his co-authors conducted the trial with 223 people incarcerated for six months or less in the Rhode Island Department of Corrections between June 2011 and April 2013. They randomly divided the inmates into two groups: 114 would gain the opportunity to continue methadone while locked up, and 109 would undergo the same phased withdrawal experienced by all Rhode Island prisoners (in many other U.S. jurisdictions prisoners are cut off immediately).

Upon release, all people in the study were offered financial and logistical assistance to obtain MMT.

The main measure of the study was whether the study subjects attended an MMT clinic within a month after release. The researchers found that more than 97 percent (111 of 114) of the people offered the chance to continue MMT while incarcerated came to a clinic after release, while only 71 percent (77 of 109) of prisoners in the phased withdrawal group did so. Statistical analysis showed that people allowed to continue while incarcerated were twice as likely as the others to engage in MMT after release.

But the study also suggests the difference may really be greater.

Because 45 inmates in the phased withdrawal group ended up being released before the medication had been completely phased out, many of them were still on some dose of the medicine upon release. When Rich and his co-authors compared the outcome for those who were on MMT at release with those who were fully withdrawn, they found that every inmate still on MMT at release continued with treatment in the community while only 48 percent of those off of MMT resumed it. Subsequent statistical analysis showed that people on MMT at release were more than six times as likely as those off MMT to seek treatment after release.

A secondary finding of the study was that continuing MMT in prison was also more cost-effective than cutting it off because higher medical costs, such as emergency room visits, accrued after release for the people withdrawn from treatment than for the ones who stayed on it.

Follow-up at one month after release also showed that people in the group withdrawn from MMT while incarcerated were more likely to self-report returning to opioid use (18 percent did so) than those who stayed on MMT (8 percent).

Correction policy correction?

Rich said the study results have already had an impact in Rhode Island, where prison officials recently decided to lengthen the period of time before phasing out MMT from one week after incarceration to six weeks.

Some public health experts are calling for more.

“[The study] provides another example of how the demands of public security can unwittingly undermine public health,” wrote M-J Milloy of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and Dr. Evan Wood of the University of British Columbia in an accompanying editorial in The Lancet. “To not only improve the health of those dependent on opioids but also honor the international legal obligation for equivalence of correctional and community-based healthcare, correctional systems in the United States and other jurisdictions should move to provide in-prison evidence-based treatment for opioid dependence.”

Rich agreed that the criminal justice practice of cutting people off from MMT runs counter to the public health goal of fighting addiction. In previous work he has shown that many people avoid ever engaging in MMT because they worry that they will be cut off from it if they are arrested. Cold-turkey withdrawal from heroin is intensely horrible for about a week, Rich said, but withdrawal from methadone can mean months of discomfort including lost sleep. Many people see heroin withdrawal as the preferable way to suffer because it is over more quickly.

Offering MMT in prison rather than ending it might result in more people being in treatment not only during and after incarceration, but also before, Rich said. That, in turn, might reduce the criminal activity that results in incarceration.

“For most of these people, the very reason they are caught up in the criminal justice system is related to their addiction to begin with,” Rich said.

In addition to Rich, the paper’s other authors are Michelle McKenzie, Dr. Sara Larney, Dr. John Wong, Liem Tran, Dr. Jennifer Clarke, Dr. Amanda Noska, Manasa Reddy, and Dr. Nickolas Zaller.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study, including through the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research (grants K24DA022112, R01DA027211, P30-AI-42853).

Source: https://news.brown.edu/articles/2015/05/methadone




shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 23:30:49 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61680-inmates-cut-off-methadone-less-likely-to-seek-it-after-release.html
Congresswoman Duckworth Calls on Administration to Continue Strong Renewable Fuel Standards http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61677-congresswoman-duckworth-calls-on-administration-to-continue-strong-renewable-fuel-standards.html Washington, DC –(ENEWSPF)—May 28, 2015. Today, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) sent an open letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan asking that as they finalize a proposal on renewable fuel standards, that they set strong Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels that are consistent with the law. The EPA is expected to release their proposal on Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by June 1.

“While serving in the Iraq War, I saw firsthand the painful price our country pays because of our dependence on foreign oil,” said Duckworth. “My fellow troops risked life and limb for this precious battlefield resource. I am concerned that weakened Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the RFS will leave America less secure and more dependent on foreign oil imports.”

Duckworth has been a strong supporter of renewable fuels at the Department of Defense and in the civilian sector.  The text of her letter is below.

May 28, 2015
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Shaun L. Donovan
Office of Management and Budget
301 G Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024
Dear Administrator McCarthy and Director Donovan:
As you work to finalize Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015 and subsequent years, I am writing to urge you to maintain a strong long-term standard that will encourage continued growth of the American-made fuel market. Clean, home-grown biofuels are not just important for our environment and economy, but are imperative for our nation’s energy independence and national security.

As a Veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, the issue of American energy security is very important to me. While serving in the Iraq War, I saw firsthand the painful price our country pays because of our dependence on foreign oil. My fellow troops risked life and limb for this precious battlefield resource. This is why I have advocated for the development of home-grown energy sources both within the U.S. military and the civilian sector.

America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is poised to help end our country’s dependence on foreign oil – something Congress intended since the law’s inception nearly a decade ago. Production of biofuels at home, like the ethanol we make in my home state of Illinois, means less foreign oil imports from unstable countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia. Instead of creating oil jobs in the Middle East, the RFS is driving job creation and innovation here at home, supporting over 852,000 green, well-paying jobs nationwide – jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

I am concerned that weakened Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the RFS will leave America less secure and more dependent on foreign oil imports. Lowering RVO levels will drive American investments in renewable fuel overseas. Already, the delays and problems in establishing standards for 2014 and 2015 have frozen $13.7 billion dollars in investments in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, the world’s cleanest motor fuel.

I know many of my constituents agree that American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil.

The EPA has an important choice to make. I urge you to support America’s rural economies, innovation, and energy independence. Now, more than ever, we must strengthen, not destroy, America’s homegrown, clean, and secure alternatives to foreign oil.

Tammy Duckworth
Member of Congress

Source: duckworth.house.gov


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 23:15:17 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61677-congresswoman-duckworth-calls-on-administration-to-continue-strong-renewable-fuel-standards.html
Interior Announces Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans for Tens of Millions of Acres of the American West http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61675-interior-announces-sage-grouse-conservation-plans-for-tens-of-millions-of-acres-of-the-american-west.html Over Sixty Percent of Key Grouse Habitat on Federal Lands Under Improved Protedctions

NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015. Today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, announced 14 Regional Management Plans for the Greater Sage-Grouse on public lands in 10 states of the American West. The National Audubon Society released the following statement:

“This strategy is about replacing gridlock with hope. It’s about replacing the specter of extinction with the promise of collaboration,” said Audubon Vice President for Government Relations Mike Daulton. “If we’re going to avoid having to put the sage-grouse on the endangered species list, the federal government, the states, and private landowners all have to do their parts. This plan is the federal government’s commitment to do its part – to do what it can to secure the future for people and for America’s iconic sagebrush ecosystem. It’s about making the West work for people and for wildlife alike.”

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Source: www.audubon.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 23:07:27 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61675-interior-announces-sage-grouse-conservation-plans-for-tens-of-millions-of-acres-of-the-american-west.html
Addressing Main UN Economic and Social Body, Former U.S. President Clinton Urges Partnerships to Boost Health http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61672-addressing-main-un-economic-and-social-body-former-u-s-president-clinton-urges-partnerships-to-boost-health.html
Former US President Bill Clinton addresses the UN Economic and Social Council Partnerships Forum. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--28 May 2015 – As the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met to discuss the role of partnerships in achieving the Post-2015 development agenda, the focus fell on the recent response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the need to work together to boost capacity in healthcare systems.

Martin Sajdik, President of the Council, opened the meeting by stressing the importance of partnerships, especially in the context of the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the post-2015 development agenda and he introduced a keynote speaker, in Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, who he said was “truly outstanding” and who would discuss health partnerships, especially for strengthening health systems.

In an opening keynote address to the ECOSOC Partnership Forum, Mr. Clinton described the huge impact of Ebola on West Africa and the huge effort made by many stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, international organizations and the private sector, in its aftermath. During a recent visit to the region, he said he heard the same call again and again: “Help us build our health systems.”

Countries in the region were requesting funds to build better, stronger health systems through multi-year plans. If the donor community set aside 15 per cent of relief funds over a three- to seven-year span to build up those systems, “we wouldn’t have to worry about these problems,” he said, urging donor nations to help strengthen health sectors, which would save money in the long-run and make nations more self-sufficient.

“They have to have health systems or we’ll be back here four or five years from now – not in these countries but in some other countries,” said Mr. Clinton. “It is the most economically sensible thing to do.”

He said the biggest struggle of the 21st century world is the battle between inclusion and exclusion, noting that partnerships are needed to achieve both peace and development objectives.

He described a Clinton Health Initiative programme launched in cooperation with the Rwandan Government and other partners, which aimed at better resourcing and building up the country’s health systems. He said that work such as the project he described in Rwanda should be done everywhere.

He called on members to “exalt” partnerships, to bring together partners that would not traditionally have worked together, and to “tell people what we’re doing” in order to secure the necessary funding. Long-term investments and broad-based partnerships were critical.

Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, said the unprecedented global health crisis that was the Ebola outbreak was part of a series of challenges contributing to the most challenging period since the creation of the UN.

“One thing is clear: No single entity – no single nation or organization, can solve the problems alone,” he said. “I believe a new model for problem solving is required in today’s world. We need to put the problems at the centre and mobilize all actors to achieve effective change. We have to move from the vertical – ‘silo’ – approach to the horizontal, crosscutting one.”

He pointed to the global response to Ebola and the impact of the collective contributions of the international community but stressed that the priority remained to “get to zero cases and to stay there.”

All across the development agenda that would be finalized in meetings across the UN system in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris this year, partnerships would become more and more vital and he said that they would work only if they were transparent, inclusive and accountable and in line with the values and principles of the United Nations.

Mr. Sajdik also used his speech to emphasize the need for fresh thinking and even more new ideas on how best to harness the broadest range of actors in support of the new development objectives.

“We know when going forward we will need to ensure strong coherence and clear, equally applicable standards on reporting,” he said. “Earlier this year, in February, the Economic and Social Council undertook a preliminary discussion of these issues, and our Forum will build on that discussion today.”

Source: www.un.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 22:51:50 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/61672-addressing-main-un-economic-and-social-body-former-u-s-president-clinton-urges-partnerships-to-boost-health.html
Senators Leahy, Sanders Voice Opposition To Oil Drilling In Arctic Ocean http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61668-leahy-sanders-voice-opposition-to-oil-drilling-in-arctic-ocean.html

 WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015 – Following the recent ecologically devastating oil spill in California coastal waters, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week voiced their deep disappointment in the administration’s decision to allow oil drilling in up to six offshore wells in the Arctic Ocean, an area the senators have long sought to protect.  Leahy and Sanders were joined by 16 other senators in a letter warning U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell had "not fully account(ed) for the likelihood of oil spills and the resulting cultural and environmental impacts from fossil fuel development in the Arctic region."

The letter, initiated by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), was sent just as a state of emergency was declared in California and shortly after the fifth anniversary of the devastating Gulf Oil Spill.  The administration recently gave conditional approval to plans by the Shell Oil Company to drill in the Chukchi Sea region of the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska.  “Opening development on a new fossil fuel reservoir in the Arctic not only puts the natural resources, ecosystems and the dependent communities at risk, it also contradicts the President’s Climate Action Plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change.  It is an unacceptable and irresponsible decision,” the senators said in their letter.

Leahy and Sanders have often applauded President Obama’s actions to mitigate climate change and to minimize the use of the dirtiest fossil fuels, including the President’s decision earlier this year to veto legislation that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, and last year’s issuance of clean power plant rules limiting carbon emissions.  But they see the Arctic drilling decision as being ecologically dangerous.  

Leahy said:  “I felt that we needed to call a ‘foul ball’ in this  case, especially coming less than two months after Secretary Jewell joined me at the Leahy Center in Burlington and spoke from the heart about the immediate need for all of us to confront climate change.” 

Sanders said:  “At a time when our planet is warming due to climate change, the last thing our environment needs is more drilling.  What we need is for Congress and the White House to move toward clean energy such as solar, wind and biomass.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senators joining the letter include: Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Source: sanders.senate.gov




shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 23:09:08 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/61668-leahy-sanders-voice-opposition-to-oil-drilling-in-arctic-ocean.html
Man Demands City Contain Fart Smells After Council Bans Marijuana Odor http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61667-man-demands-city-contain-fart-smells-after-council-bans-marijuana-odor.html

smell marijuanaOREGON--(ENEWSPF)--May 28, 2015.  I have heard of marijuana odor bans before. I have always thought that they were ridiculous because municipalities are trying to ban the smell of nature. How is that even enforceable? How can law enforcement, or citizens for that matter, differential the smell of marijuana from other smells? I have family members that cannot tell the difference between a skunk in the distance, or marijuana being grown/consumed in the distance. Not everyone is offended by the smell of marijuana, and I have found that most people actually enjoy it, even non-consumers.

A city in Oregon (Pendleton) recently banned the smell of marijuana within city limits. That ordinance led a man to write his local newspaper and demand that the city also regulate the smell of farts, because after all, he finds the smell offensive. While the letter to the editor that he sent in was mean to be a joke, it also highlights the ridiculousness of the marijuana odor ban. Per OPB:

With the passage of an amendment to Pendleton city code to contain the smell of marijuana, one man saw a chance to rein in lingering bodily odors as well.

“While farting may be legal in Oregon, many (including myself) are offended by the flatulent stench,” said Peter Walters’ letter to the editor in the East Oregonian. He goes on to complain that businesses and homeowners can’t seem to contain farts, and calls on the city to address the problem.

“The Mayor and a few on the council have made it clear that they want to fight this legalization with every thing they can,” wrote Walters in a Facebook message. “Meanwhile, everyone in this town thinks that the city council is a joke because they spend their time on stupid crap like lingering pot smells while citizens complain about ten-year-old pot holes.”

Kudos to Mr. Walters. His letter was entertaining and insightful. If a city can ban the odor of marijuana, which will be perfectly legal statewide on July 1, where is the line drawn? There are many, many odors out there that people find offensive. Should we ban them all? What is the harm that can result from the smell of marijuana? What a waste of time. I hope that the citizens of Pendleton hold the elected officials that passed this ordinance accountable.

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: www.theweedblog.com


g@turningleft.net (Johhny Green) Thu, 28 May 2015 22:31:21 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61667-man-demands-city-contain-fart-smells-after-council-bans-marijuana-odor.html
Will Putting Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Behind Bars Accomplish Anything? http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61665-will-putting-silk-road-founder-ross-ulbricht-behind-bars-accomplish-anything.html NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—May 28, 2015

By: Stefanie Jones

Friday Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht will be sentenced. He faces the possibility of between 30 years to life behind bars because drugs were bought and sold on his website. The prosecution is painting him as a major drug dealer and blaming him for the deaths of six people who overdosed (without acknowledging that our current drug policies lead to 35,000 accidental overdose deaths per year).

On the eve of his sentencing, it's worth considering: what will we actually accomplish by putting this man away?

The fact is, the existence of Silk Road proved something we all know to be true: millions of people around the world want to use and buy drugs. As many have argued, including my former colleague Meghan Ralston and Phil Smith on Alternet, Silk Road's online marketplace actually reduced the harms of drugs in several key ways.

Silk Road reduced the potential violence associated with buying drugs. By taking away the need for face-to-face interaction, Silk Road reduced the violence commonly associated with drug purchases. It also took power away from cartels.

It allowed for better knowledge about content and purity. One of the greatest dangers of drug use is that it's very difficult to know if you're getting what you intend to get, especially with today's rapidly diversifying synthetic market. Using a review system similar to what you'd see on Yelp or other sites, a seller who was not representing his or her product accurately would not have customers long, and a user could be sure about his or her purchase.

It encouraged harm reduction among users. Silk Road had a whole section of its site devoted to safer drug use practices. It's relevant and important that this kind of content reach people at the very place where they are making purchases.

Ulbricht's defense recognized this and included these arguments in their memo to Katherine Forrest, the judge handing down the sentencing. If nothing else, a shorter sentence might help acknowledge the reality that no matter what your opinion about drug sales, Silk Road served as harm reduction for these marketplaces.

Friday, the path of Ulbricht's life will be determined. But his sentencing will have little to no impact on those millions of people who will still buy and use drugs. Other online drug marketplaces will arise and the violent, wasteful drug war will carry on unchecked.

Unless we end 40 years of failure, and consider the lessons from Silk Road, and think about a new approach to drug use and sales.

Stefanie Jones is the nightlife community engagement manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

This piece first appeared in the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stefanie-jones/ross-ulbricht-silk-road-sentence_b_7464438.html?1432849621.

Source: www.drugpolicy.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 28 May 2015 22:18:01 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/61665-will-putting-silk-road-founder-ross-ulbricht-behind-bars-accomplish-anything.html