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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meat Killing Planet • Climate Change • Global Economic Collapse • Keychain Animals • BP OIl Spill Causes Deformities in Marine Life • US Trains Terrorists • Homophobes Secretly Gay • Republicans Think Only the Rich Matter • more

- Next Great Depression? MIT study predicting ‘global economic collapse’ by 2030 still on track
    A renowned Australian research scientist says a study from researchers at MIT claiming the world could suffer from a "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace is still on track, nearly 40 years after it was first produced.
- Meds and Banned Antibiotics Routinely Fed to Chickens
    Recently, a study from the University of Maryland determined that alarming levels of arsenic were found in chicken feed, but new data suggests that arsenic isn’t the only potentially hazardous substance present. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University have discovered that birds are also routinely fed illegal antibiotics, caffeine, and even chemical compounds found in common medications. Testing feather meal from factory-farm chickens, scientists found traces of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which are banned in poultry production due to their potential to breed antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Furthermore, researchers found evidence of the active ingredients in Benadryl, Tylenol, and even Prozac, found in Chinese chicken meal—all of which may be used to reduce anxiety among chicken, as stress toughens the birds’ meat and inhibits their growth.
- Tropical Depression: Your Saltwater Fish Tank May Be Killing the Ocean
    Most tropical fish sold in pet stores come from reefs in Indonesia and the Philippines, where fishermen stun the colorful dwellers with squirts of sodium cyanide. The potent nerve toxin causes the fish to float up out of the reefs so they can be easily scooped up, but it can also injure or kill them as well as trigger coral bleaching.
- Local Media Fail To Cover Climate Denial, ALEC Link
    Louisiana, South Dakota, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas -- passed measures or promoted  policies that would change the education curriculums in their states to begin teaching "different perspectives" in environmental science instruction. The major newspapers in each of these states gave varying coverage to the issue with some not even covering the issue at all. In addition a Media Matters investigation shows that, despite the appearance that these state proposals and model legislation by the conservative organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), not once did these newspapers mention ALEC or their model legislation in their coverage.
- U.S. Records Warmest March; More Than 15,000 Warm Temperature Records Broken
    Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the United States and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. More than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken during the month
- Pollution Playing A Major Role In Sea Temperatures
    The new research appears in the journal Nature. If it's confirmed, it could foretell a warmer Atlantic, because the aerosol pollution has apparently cooled the Atlantic some. But new pollution controls are reducing the amount of those aerosols — that's good for public health, but it also means the ocean loses its sunblock.
- Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists
    Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause.
- Is Meat killing the Planet? UN says diet change will slow climate change
    The pink elephant in the room of global warming discussions is the link between animal agriculture and accelerating climate change. To put it frankly – if we stop eating meat, we will quickly slow down global warming.
- Warming climate reveals links to infectious disease
    Researchers are gaining new insight into how pathogens will react to a warmer future: 'It's not just a summer disease. It's becoming a spring and fall disease now.'
- The Long, Hot March of Climate Change
    The Pentagon knows it. The world’s largest insurers know it. Now, governments may be overthrown because of it. It is climate change, and it is real. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the hottest March on record for the United States since 1895, when records were first kept, with average temperatures of 8.6 degrees F above average. More than 15,000 March high-temperature records were broken nationally. Drought, wildfires, tornadoes and other extreme weather events are already plaguing the country.
- The Greatest Challenge of Our Species
    While it is not as if nothing has been achieved in the interim or that scientific understanding has stood still, it is obvious that new science is not needed to conclude that humanity has failed to act at the scale and with the urgency needed.In the United States, in particular (but not exclusively), far too much attention has been given to the non-issue of whether climate change is real or not. In the meantime the heating of the atmosphere proceeds inexorably, the Arctic ice has thinned and retreated at its summer low to a point that it might be tied to the exceptionally warm spring in Europe and North America. Spring bloom has erupted early in North America and Europe. Most people just say how nice the weather is with no sense of the march of climate change.
- Live Animals Being Sold as Keyrings in China
    Keyring ornaments are perhaps the most useless item you'll ever carry in your pocket or stuff in your purse -- but now, thanks to an increasingly popular item being sold in China, it can easily be the cruelest, too. For the price you might expect to pay for some kitschy trinket, Chinese street vendors are selling live animals, permanently sealed in a small plastic pouch where they can survive for a short while as someone's conversation piece. Apparently, these unimaginably inhumane keyrings are actually quite popular -- and worst of all, it's totally legal.
- Broadcast News Networks Misrepresent Intelligence On Iranian Nuclear Issues
    Many in the media have long since repudiated their failures in the lead-up to the Iraq War, acknowledging that they were too quick to accept the false notion that Iraq possessed a sizable and dangerous cache of weapons of mass destruction. The question today is whether they have learned from those mistakes.
- Report: U.S. trained terror group
    When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada...
- Updated Review Finds Little U.S. Military Risk in Nuclear Test Ban
    Any move toward ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, an agreement designed to end the testing of nuclear weapons permanently, will require a lengthy debate in the U.S. Senate, which has not been scheduled and would be improbable in an election year. But according to the U.S. National Academies, there is no technical reason why the United States should not sign on the dotted line right now. In a report released last week, an expert panel said it would be possible to keep America's stockpile of nuclear weapons safe and reliable without testing, and that treaty-monitoring technologies now make it impossible for states to hide a test big enough to be useful.
- Homophobes 'may be secretly attracted to people of the same sex'
    Homophobes could be attracted to people of the same sex but are not admitting it to themselves, a series of psychology studies has found.Researchers in New York, Essex and California say they've found evidence that gays and lesbians remind homophobes of themselves  - which is why they develop an intense aversion and fear of them.
    They claim homophobic people tend to repress their true sexuality as they've often been brought up in families where being gay is not acceptable.
- Seeking the Truth About U.S. Targeted Killing Strike That Killed Dozens of Women and Children in Yemen
    Today the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information about a horrific U.S. missile strike that killed dozens of civilians in Yemen.
- Think Natural Gas Leasing Makes Homeowners Money? Think Again (Video)
    From Texas to Wyoming to Pennsylvania, countless homeowners have learned the cruel truth that a home without clean water is essentially valueless. Many homeowners dealing with contamination have had their property values slashed by 75 or 80 percent by professional appraisers, but have been unable to find buyers—at any price. These families are often stuck paying mortgages on homes they can no longer live in safely, with no one to turn to for help. Gas companies have no obligation to compensate homeowners for the loss of their shelter, or the long-term loss of their “nest egg.” For some, destroyed land is also destroyed income. Farmers have watched as companies that told them at lease-signing, “You’ll never even know we’re here” instead built roads and toxic wastewater pools on their best fields, leaving their animals with no place to graze and their crop yields insufficient to pay their bills.
- NRA Chief Lobbyist Cox Says "We Will Defend" Stand Your Ground Laws
    At an event during last weekend's National Rifle Association annual meeting, NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox said that the group doesn't "apologize" for its support for "Stand Your Ground" self-defense legislation in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, adding, "We will defend our efforts. We will defend those laws."
- Romney's own hot-mic moment
    At the fundraiser, Haake adds, both Romney and his wife Ann remained absolutely giddy about last week’s Hilary Rosen flap. "It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it," Ann Romney said. The candidate went further, calling the episode a "gift" that allowed his campaign to show contrast with Democrats in the general election's first week. But while Romney said last week that “all moms are working moms,” that doesn’t apply to mothers who are welfare recipients, the Boston Globe says. Romney said at a Jan. 4 campaign stop in Manchester, N.H.: “Even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney describing his position as Massachusetts governor. “And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
- Police condemned over student pepper-spraying
    Campus police violated policy and used poor judgment when they used pepper spray against student demonstrators at a California university in November, according to a report into the incident.
- Rachel Maddow: Michigan GOP circumvents democracy with shady vote corner-cutting
- The ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud
    ...conservatives continue to hype the extremely rare occurrence of election fraud as if it were something that happens every day and is somehow responsible for the election of Obama and Democratic candidates across the map. And there is evidence that they’ve been successful in pushing this fact-free narrative among the broader public.
- Disenfranchised in America
    New legislation across the US could have a huge impact on the country's 2012 presidential elections. Largely Republican politicians have passed a range of new voting laws that groups fear could disenfranchise as many as five million American voters this year.

Troops Out, Now What?
Posted: 03/29/2012 on

March 19th marked the sad anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Nine tumultuous years after "shock and awe," the people of Iraq struggle to rebuild their society while dealing with the aftermath of a disastrous occupation. When the last combat brigades pulled out in December 2011, putting Iraq in their rear-view mirrors, what was the legacy they left in their wake and the burdens they brought home with them?

As both an organizer active with Iraq Veterans Against the War and a student of anthropology, I have worked closely with U.S. military veterans who served in the so-called "Global War of Terror," particularly those involved in peace and social justice movements. Looking back, I see many lessons to be drawn from this costly debacle.

The Perils of Militarism

The first lesson is that militarism in the U.S. seems to have a gravitational force pulling a wide array of resources and sectors into its orbit. Our involvement with Iraq serves as a case study for how deeply rooted militarism is in American culture and political life. The Bush administration gambled on this fact as it made the case for war. The entire undertaking, however, was doomed from the outset given the well-documented false pretenses underpinning their arguments, inept leadership by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and rampant corruption of private contractors who operated with impunity, all with deadly consequences for the Iraqi population.

Even members of the academic community were drawn to the tremendous power and influence the military-industrial complex enjoys. Social scientists were employed as part of the U.S. military's Human Terrain System (HTS) program to assist combat commanders in getting a better understanding of Iraqi and Afghan culture and social structure as part of a larger counterinsurgency strategy. This program and articles published by anthropologists working in it prompted a heated debate within the American Anthropological Association, which had previously passed resolutions against the Iraq war and torture. The debate centered on the issue of professional ethics guiding anthropologists engaged in research involving human subjects.

With counter-insurgency strategy relying heavily on building relationships with the local population, critics argued these anthropologists were violating norms of obtaining informed consent from the Iraqi participants where they worked and that reporting their findings for use in military operations put civilian lives at risk. As a response, the Network of Concerned Anthropologists gathered signers for an online petition and initiated a number of editorials for academic and popular publications. Thus, while the pull toward militarism is strong there are always socially responsible people willing to fight against it.

Yellow Ribbons and Purple Hearts

The second lesson is that the logic of militarism shapes the national dialogue and makes going to and supporting war a primary responsibility of the citizenry. The mission to topple Saddam Hussein, driven by claims that he allegedly possessed weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda leaders, led many enlistees and service members to view service in Iraq as a just cause, likened to the fight against fascism during WWII. Calls for civilians to "Support the Troops" and do their part to ensure their service is honored in some way was the dominant rhetoric across the mainstream political spectrum. While I think veterans deserve our respect, it should not come at the cost of blindly accepting unjust wars or committing huge expenditures unquestioningly.

Yet, for the over two million troops and veterans who served a tour in Iraq, re-adjusting to life back home has not been a smooth transition. While the total number of troops who were killed or wounded in Iraq is far less when compared to previous major conflicts, the war is no less devastating for the troops, vets and their families. Multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both have left many veterans with serious physical and psychological injuries.

Impaired to the point of being unemployable, their capacity to function in a difficult economy for healthy people, much less a veteran with wrestling with rehabilitation and trauma, is severely limited. The recent revelations of a four-tour Army staff sergeant who allegedly massacred 17 civilians in Afghanistan highlight the depth of the problem. My organization has launched the Operation Recovery campaign to raise awareness about the widespread nature of trauma and to stop the deployment of traumatized troops.

Although improvements to the GI Bill came late in the war, many veterans still find it difficult to maintain a stable lifestyle conducive to completing a college education. Overcoming the effects of military sexual trauma, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury can be a daunting task. Even when one seeks care at a Veterans Affairs (VA) health facility, many veterans face long wait times or bureaucracy that frustrates and makes getting care elusive. A plethora of veterans' organizations has sprung up to meet the demands of a new and growing veterans population.

The Long Shadow of War

The final lesson is that civilians have paid the biggest price for what U.S. militarism creates. The toll on Iraqi civil society has and continues to be tremendous. Estimates of civilian deaths between 2003 and 2011 because of coalition or sectarian violence range from 115,000 to 157,000 according to The number of wounded is difficult to quantify accurately but is in the hundreds of thousands. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports the number of internally displaced people at over 1.3 million, while the number of Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries or elsewhere is over 1.6 million.

The amount of damage caused by air strikes and ground fighting has impaired basic services such as access to the clean water, reliable electricity and medical services. After years of sanctions and occupation, Iraqi society has been left to sort out the mess in the aftermath. Few acknowledge the widespread mental and emotional trauma that Iraqis face as they deal with the loss of their families, security, and communities. In spite of it all, pro-democracy movements critical of the U.S., the Maliki government, and in solidarity with the "Arab Spring" uprisings, have swept across Iraq according to a blog by Ali Issa, an Iraqi-American organizer with the War Resisters League.

The environmental devastation caused by coalition munitions and the prolonged occupation presence, has created a wasteland of nuclear and chemical waste ruining crops, water tables, and a compromising the gene pool. The city of Fallujah alone has seen a 15 fold increase in birth defects and cancer between 2008 and 2009 according to The Guardian, among a relatively young and healthy population before the occupation.

Iraqi and international physicians as well as U.S. military veterans have worked to draw attention to this important issue. Dubbed the "agent orange" of the 21st century, depleted uranium (DU) will continue to have a devastating impact on Iraqi society for generations to come. On the flip-side, veterans are suffering from a whole host of service-related health problems linked to DU exposure. Some have argued Gulf War syndrome -- a complex array of symptoms that defy conventional diagnoses -- is a result of DU or nerve agent exposure and combat veterans report a number of serious ailments including chronic fatigue, skins conditions, unexplained headaches, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and menstrual disorders.

Although the outlook seems bleak, as the vast majority of people not directly affected by the war will quickly forget about Iraqis and the veterans, I take heart in the incredible human capacity for empathy with the "other," and the will to dedicate oneself to achieving justice.

Jose Vasquez is the Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He served fourteen years in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 2007 as a conscientious objector. Jose was a key organizer of Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan - Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations and represented IVAW in the editing process for the book published by Haymarket . He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at CUNY Graduate Center conducting research on the politics of veteran status in contemporary American society.