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Tunisia’s (olive) oil rush

Tunisia’s (olive) oil rush | geography |

Olive oil, the World Bank noted, may have single-handedly saved the country’s economy from total collapse: Tunisia’s meager growth in 2015 was “only thanks to a strong performance in agricultural production, particularly olive production.”
Marielle de Sarnez, the French MEP who led the European Parliament’s work on the olive oil proposal, said the tax-free quota would “provide essential help for Tunisia, and is not likely to destabilize the European market.”

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How The Washington Football Team Creates A Hostile Environment For Native American Students

How The Washington Football Team Creates A Hostile Environment For Native American Students | geography |

WASHINGTON -- Much of the debate over whether to keep the Washington football team's name has centered around whether it's actually offensive to Native Americans. Owner Dan Snyder has searched high and low to find American Indians who aren't put off by the term "Redskins" as justification for keeping it.

But according to Erik Stegman, an author of a new report on Native mascots and team names, that discussion misses the point.

"This entire debate is being spun in the wrong direction, and it doesn't really matter whether or not one Native person you talk to supports or doesn't," Stegman said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "When you have kids in schools who are getting harassed, who are feeling a lack of self-worth because they themselves have become a mascot for someone else, I think that's really what the point is all about. We need to stop having this debate over which Native people are offended because it's a ridiculous debate."

Stegman is associate director of the Half in Ten Education Fund at the progressive Center for American Progress. Previously, he served as majority staff counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He and Victoria Phillips, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, argue in a report published Tuesday that derogatory team names create an "unwelcome and hostile learning environment" for Native students that "directly results in lower self-esteem and mental health" for these adolescents and young adults.

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EU public procurement corruption costs €5bn

EU public procurement corruption costs €5bn | geography |
Corruption risk in public procurement in Europe costs around €5bn (£3.95bn) every year, according to new research.

A study by RAND Europe said the annual total cost of corruption in Europe is as much as €990bn (£780bn). The figure is much higher than previous estimates of €120bn (£95bn).

Croatia, pictured, has the most risk of public procurement corruption, according to the report.

RAND Europe estimated that an initial €71bn (£56bn) could be saved if the EU adopted three policy measures.

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Area of Corruption study, commissioned by the European Parliament, investigated corruption, including paying bribes or exercising power to give privileged access to public services, goods or contracts.

Corruption could include having only one organisation in a procurement process, or giving organisations little time to respond to tenders.

According to the report, the World Bank definition of corruption in public procurement includes acts such as unjustified sole sourcing or direct contracting of awards, tailoring specifications to a favoured bidder and sharing inside information.

The study said corruption risk in public procurement varied significantly across EU member states, with Luxemburg having the lowest risk and Croatia having the highest for corruption among public procurement contracts.

Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Cyprus and Croatia had above EU member state average of corruption risk in public procurement, the study said.

However, the costs of corruption risk are highest in Poland and the United Kingdom (both above €1bn), and while in a country like Croatia there is a relatively high corruption risk across its public procurement contracts, the overall value of contracts is low, the report said.

The new overall figures are higher than initial estimates by the European Commission (EC) because RAND Europe used a measuring methodology that took into account the indirect effects of corruption, such as disincentives of companies to invest, and direct effects, such as money lost on tax revenues and public procurement.

RAND Europe has recommended three policy measures to address corruption in Europe which could stop billions being lost every year.

These include applying the updated Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which was used in Bulgaria and Romania before they joined the EU and involves the EC monitoring countries’ progress in tackling corruption, to other member states.

Establishing a European Public Prosecutors’ Office, to help the EC Anti-Fraud Office investigate corruption, and implementing a full EU-wide procurement system are also recommended.

Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report's main author, said corruption imposed significant social, political and economic costs.

“Not only does it result in huge amounts of money being lost annually, but corruption leads to more unequal societies, higher levels of organised crime, weaker rule of law and lower trust in public institutions,” he said.

“Measuring corruption is challenging, but our study provides one of the most realistic and current estimations of its true cost to Europe as a whole. Our recommendations highlight achievable targets for the EU and member states to help stop corruption from taking place and limit the amount of money lost each year.”

Via Toni Saraiva - EISC Ltd -
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Prostitution, Drugs To Be Included In Bulgaria's GDP - - Sofia News Agency

Prostitution, Drugs To Be Included In Bulgaria's GDP - - Sofia News Agency | geography |
Bulgaria's National Statistics Institute (NSI) will start calculating the country's GDP by a new method – European System Of Accounts 2010, reports (Don't be shocked if #bulgaria's economy suddenly looks great.

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Deforestation Out Of Control - The On Going 6th Mass Extinction

Deforestation Out Of Control  - The On Going 6th Mass Extinction | geography |

March 7, 2013 - Science Haven


American Geophysical Union, February 25, 2015

ScienceDaily, August 18, 2014

                                              VIDEO (2:00)
                 World Rainforest Movement, March 20, 2015
                               THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE

August 10, 2013 Euractive


Environmental News Network, September 11, 2014

▶  ILLEGAL LAND CLEARING FOR COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE RESPONSIBLE FOR HALF OF TROPICAL DEFORESTATION. A comprehensive new analysis says that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. The study also finds that the majority of this illegal destruction was driven by overseas demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, and wood products. In addition to devastating impacts on forest-dependent people and biodiversity, the illegal conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture is estimated to produce 1.47 gigatonnes of carbon each year—equivalent to 25% of the EU's annual fossil fuel-based emissions.

VIDEO (10:00)
Trees are the terrestrial lungs of the planet, and they are dying all over the globe. Government agencies and mainstream media are not reporting on the unfolding cataclysm of this die off.

Mongabay, October 14, 2014
▶ INDIA PLANS HUGE PALM OIL EXPANSION, PUTS FORESTS AT RISK Palm oil, a ubiquitous ingredient in supermarket products ranging from shampoos and cosmetics to processed foods, comes at a huge environmental cost. Between 1990 and 2010, palm oil monocultures replaced over 3.5 million hectares of forest in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. This large scale deforestation has resulted in a massive loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat, best illustrated perhaps by the annihilation of orangutan populations. Moreover, conversion of large peatlands to oil palm plantations releases millions of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

                                   ECOLOGICAL ARMAGEDDON

                                          EXTINCTION CRISIS


April 5, 2013 - National Geographic

Global Forest Watch

December 12, 2012 Science Heathen


Over half of the world’s forests have been destroyed in the last 10,000 or so years, the majority of this loss has occurred in the last 50 years, occurring simultaneously with a massive increase in the human population. The incredible scale of this loss has led to significant changes throughout many parts of the world, and in recent years these changes have been accelerating. These changes include: large scale extinction events, desertification, climatic changes, topsoil loss, flooding, famine, disease outbreaks, and insect ‘plagues’, among others....




 Redd Monitor, June 05, 2014

Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2014
▶  AUSTRALIA:  WOMBATS BURIED ALIVE BY LOGGING COMPANY. Forestry Corporation of NSW has buried wombats alive in their burrows, causing slow deaths, despite a deal with wildlife groups to protect the animals during logging.





                                      ERADICATING ECOCIDE










                                             ONE SHORT VIDEO





                                  "Capitalism: A Ghost Story"
                An Evening with Arundhati Roy and Siddhartha Deb

 April 15, 2013 - Guardian Development


Environmental Graffiti



















                              AN URGENT MEMO TO THE WORLD

                                       The Natural Eye Project






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Nick Stevens's curator insight, April 30, 2013 9:42 PM

This article explains the devastation and effects of deforestation. When reading this article, clearly notice how bad the effect has been on not only the environment and forests but also the animals. For example it is estimated that the planet is losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every day as a result of rainforest deforestation. That’s roughly 50,000 species going extinct every year. 

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Ecuador’s FM Patino on global corporations: Transnational misconduct must end

Ecuador’s FM Patino on global corporations: Transnational misconduct must end | geography |
Transnational corporations have abused their privileges leading to “an unprecedented level of social and environmental injustice,” said Ecuador’s FM Ricardo Patino in his article calling on all nations to hold such companies accountable for their actions:

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One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World — City Farmer News

One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World — City Farmer News | geography |
The Bec Hellouin model for growing food, sequestering carbon, creating jobs, and increasing biodiversity without using fossil fuels

When Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer set out to create their farm in an historic Normandy village, they had no idea just how much their lives would change. Neither one had ever farmed before. Charles had been circumnavigating the globe by sail, operating a floating school that taught students about ecology and indigenous cultures. Perrine had been an international lawyer in Japan. Each had returned to France to start a new life. Eventually, Perrine joined Charles in Normandy, and Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin was born.

Since then the farm has become a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security,

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Four Obvious Yet Completely Wrong Assumptions About Technology Use in the Developing World | ICTWorks

Four Obvious Yet Completely Wrong Assumptions About Technology Use in the Developing World | ICTWorks | geography |

I am Patrick Meier and I’ve spent the past week at the iLab in Liberia and got what I came for: an updated reality check on the limitations of technology adoption in developing countries. Below are some of the assumptions that I took for granted. They’re perfectly obvious in hindsight and I’m annoyed at myself for not having realized their obviousness sooner. I’d be very interested in hearing from others about these and reading their lists. This need not be limited to one particular sector like ICT for Development (ICT4D) or Mobile Health (mHealth). Many of these assumptions have repercussions across multiple disciplines.


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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Communities May Be Key to Stopping Rape in Liberia

Can lessons from the Ebola response be applied to tackle Liberia's seemingly intractable rape crisis?

On 5 March, the last patient in Liberia still in an Ebola treatment center was discharged, grateful for having survived the disease. No new cases have been reported for more than three weeks -- a remarkable turnaround from six months ago when there were more than 300 a week. But another scourge has returned: rape.

Stop Rape Campaign launch,2008, Monrovia - UNMIL Photo/Emmanuel Tobey

After dropping drastically during the height of the Ebola epidemic, the number of reported rapes has shot back up. In January, a 12-year-old girl in Monrovia was severely injured when she was raped by a man from her neighborhood. She was one of five children known to have died due to rape over the past year.

According to Liberia's gender ministry, 554 rapes were reported last year, 90 percent of which were perpetrated against persons under the age of 18. While the official statistics on rape probably give an incomplete picture of its magnitude, the high prevalence is indisputable -- despite continuing efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence since the end of the civil war in 2003.

Can lessons from the Ebola response in Liberia now be applied to tackle Liberia's seemingly intractable rape crisis? One of the main lessons learned might indeed be applicable: communities are central to a successful response.

For all the life-saving international support that flowed into Liberia to battle Ebola, the tide was turned against the disease by the homegrown efforts of the country's diverse communities. Even as Liberian authorities came to grips with the scale of the Ebola epidemic and began to scale up the response with increasing international support, a deep mistrust of the central government and its institutions meant too many at-risk people did not come forward. This challenge was compounded by the lack of facilities where people could be treated safely. As fear grew, communities mobilized and were able to persuade their members to change risky practices, isolate the sick, and report suspected Ebola cases. Local communities initiated communal quarantine, produced hand-washing facilities using traditional materials, and carried out safe burials on land they donated.

"Rape is not a family matter, report it!"- A video of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission outreach campaign to prevent child rape.

Efforts to halt sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) may similarly hinge on communities' attitudes to both SGBV and the court system. "We do not pull each other to court," a community leader in Nimba told me. "It's not our way." Often, communities encourage rape cases to be settled out of court, allowing perpetrators to go free. Until communities themselves raise the cost of rape and make it socially unacceptable, it will continue.

Changes in community attitudes will not stick, however, if Liberia does not respond better when survivors come forward. Soon after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006, her government developed a National Action Plan on Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence. The United Nations supported this plan, and has supported years of awareness raising via radio and community outreach, targeting schools, traditional and religious institutions, and male leaders. Progress has included a tougher rape law, a Criminal Court "E" that is dedicated to rape trials, the use of mobile in-camera trial screens in court to protect survivors' identities, and a specialist prosecution and investigative service for SGBV crimes.

But the legal process remains slow and most SGBV cases never make it to court. Only eight cases were brought to trial and disposed of in a 24-month period between 2011 and 2013. More judges are needed, as is improved coordination between the police, the prosecution, judiciary and corrections. Liberia also needs a tracking system to monitor the progress in rape cases -- from the initial report at a police station through to incarceration.

Survivors of sexual violence also need affordable access to formal justice mechanisms and healthcare. I recently met three remarkable women who have been helping to provide this in West Point, a densely-populated slum in Monrovia, through the NGO they founded in 2003, the West Point Women for Health and Development. They give moral support throughout the legal process, from accompanying women to file police reports, to helping families resist pressure to allow perpetrators to avoid justice.

Karin Landgren, Head of UN Peackeeping Mission in Liberia (far left) meets leaders of the West Point Women for Health and Development on International Women's Day. UNMIL Photo/ Emmanuel Tobey

Other efforts to combat rape include a group of Muslim and Christian religious leaders who visit communities across Liberia to spread the message that their faiths do not tolerate rape. Liberia needs more of these initiatives to complement the government's national efforts.

I strongly encourage Liberia to hold a nationwide discussion about the devastating effects of rape. Ultimately, the shocking rape numbers will not be reduced without major community mobilization across the country.

Via DenverDUI
Dorothy R. Cook 's curator insight, May 11, 2016 6:31 PM

Sometimes it takes the community voice to make a difference. Then there is the voice of a community that has nothing to do with the voices addresses but their goals and desires for not dollars but change so to speak.

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The nightmare of containing Ebola in Liberia’s worst slum

The nightmare of containing Ebola in Liberia’s worst slum | geography |

By early Wednesday morning, the soldiers had already arrived, roadblocks had risen and boats bobbed off the coast. People sleeping on thin mats on concrete inside metal shanties awoke to discover knocked-over tables and broken chairs lining the exits out of their neighborhood. Photos showemptied streets, closed shops and soldiers prowling with big guns. The residents of West Point, a peninsular slum hammered by Ebola, were trapped. No one in — no one out. It was a quarantine.

Residents rushed onto the streets of what is said to be “the worst slum in Liberia.” When they learned they couldn’t leave — not even for food — young men tried to climb over the barricades. Soldiers let loose with their guns, and one young man was apparently shot in the legs, the New York Times reported. The crowd was further enraged, local media said, when it learned the commissioner of West Point would be rescued — and none of her constituents. “So y’all taking her and leaving us here,” Front Page Africa quoted one resident saying. “She must not come back here in West Point again.”

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Gritty Ganta: The Liberian Town That Can't Catch A Break

Gritty Ganta: The Liberian Town That Can't Catch A Break | geography |
Ganta is the Liberian city that never sleeps. That's what local businessman Prince Haward says of the town of 40,000, one of the country's largest cities and a crossroads for travelers in the southeastern region: "Ganta is a non-sleeping city ... a business-oriented city."

It's also a city that has seen its share of tragedy. The scruffy town is located in Liberia's eastern Nimba County, where the country's brutal civil war started in late 1989. Many buildings were destroyed during the conflict and remain gutted; others are still pocked by artillery and mortar fire from the war. And there's been little investment in the gritty city since the conflict ended more than a decade ago. Potholes nearly swallow up vehicles.

So even before Ebola, Ganta was struggling. And now the virus is taking a toll.

For many people, there's very little business right now. Ebola is the reason: The border with neighboring Guinea was closed in July to prevent possible spread of the virus.

Just a hundred yards from the St. John's river bridge crossing, young men play whist under the shade of a mango tree. They used to be money changers. A very unhappy Prince Dolo says the outbreak put an abrupt end to their livelihoods: "I have nothing to do. Border is closed. And I'm vulnerable and unemployed. I'm not happy. Without the border, Ganta is just dead."

Just off Ganta's rutted, red-dust main street, 18-year-old ready-peeled orange seller Bebe Gono says she's struggling, just like the city. "We are trying to find the little we can afford."

Comparing Liberia's civil war with Ebola in her town, Gono says both have been difficult: "Ganta has suffered a lot. We've lost a lot of people to the war and we've also lost a lot of people to Ebola. As compared with the war, Ebola is worse."

Gono never went to school and can't read or write. But true to the entrepreneurial spirit of her town, she has dreams of a better life. If she had a little money, she'd like to open a business in the city that never sleeps.

Via Charles Tiayon
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France's 1,000-Kilometre Solar Road Will Power Millions Of Homes

France's 1,000-Kilometre Solar Road Will Power Millions Of Homes | geography |
That's one household powered for every four metres of Wattway,or less than the length of a mid-size car.

Via Skip Boykin
Emma Région Bleue's curator insight, April 28, 2016 4:06 AM
La route solaire : futures économies pour les foyers français ?
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Liberia: Lone Ebola Patient Dies

Liberia: Lone Ebola Patient Dies | geography |
ed that previous data indicates that sexual transmission of Ebola virus is possible, while new information also indicate that sexual transmission may have occurred, but remains unproven and that additional tests are being undertake

Via Ian M Mackay, PhD
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Terror alert across Czech Republic as warning of bomb threat prompts mass evacuation

Terror alert across Czech Republic as warning of bomb threat prompts mass evacuation | geography |
MULTIPLE bomb scares in the Czech Republic have forced the closure of train stations and public places as authorities brace for a potential terror attack.

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EUROPEAN UNION: Preparation Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 18 and 19 December 2012

EUROPEAN UNION: Preparation Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 18 and 19 December 2012 | geography |
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of December 2012 will take place in Brussels on 18 & 19 December 2012, under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment. Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Dacian Cioloş, Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, will represent the Commission at the meeting. The Fisheries points will be dealt with on Tuesday 18 December and again on Wednesday 19 December in the afternoon. A press conference will be held at the end of the discussions. The Agriculture points will be dealt with on Wednesday morning and a press conference will be held at the end of the morning's session.

The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming:


Fishing opportunities for 2013

Commissioner Maria Damanaki will present the Commission's proposals for fixing fishing opportunities for 2013 for the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Black Sea. Ministers will discuss these proposals with a view to reach political agreement so that the limits can enter into force on 1 January 2013.

Atlantic and North Sea

One Commission proposal concerns the 83 fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea managed by the EU exclusively (IP/12/1148). In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the total allowable catch (TACs) for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of cod, Norway lobster, and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks. The Commission's goal and one of the pillars of the on-going Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels, the so-called Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015. Long-term planning is key to achieving this goal and will enable more and more fish stocks to reach MSY which in return will benefit the whole fishing industry.

Ministers will also discuss the proposal concerning fish stocks managed together with third countries or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) throughout the world (IP/12/1229). For the preparation of these proposals the European Commission has used scientific advice to negotiate with third countries (Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Russia) the quantities of fish stocks to be caught in the following year. For the stocks in international waters and for highly migratory species, such as tuna, the European Commission has negotiated fishing opportunities in the framework of RFMOs.

In negotiations with its international partners, the Commission has done its utmost to reach agreements that are sustainable and respect scientific advice.

Black Sea

Bulgaria and Romania are the only Member states concerned by the proposals for fishing opportunities for the Black Sea. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged, at 11,475 tonnes (MEX/12/1203).

Other fisheries points

Long-term plan for cod stocks

The Council will also discuss a proposal of the Commission for long-term plan for cod stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks.


The plenary session will be dedicated to the presentation of the Presidency's progress report on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform. This Report presents the Presidency's opinion on progress achieved in the negotiations on the reform the in the last 6 months, identifying key issues which remain outstanding.

Any other business

Agriculture issues

Vine planting rights: the Commission will inform participants on the conclusions reached at the last meeting of the High Level Group on Wine held in Brussels on 14 December (IP/12/1378).

- at the request of the Bulgarian delegation, participants will discuss a common declaration of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia on coupled support supported by Slovenia.

at the request of the German delegation, participants will discuss sugar production levies for 2002-2006.

the Commission will present its second report to the Council and the Parliament on the evolution of the dairy market situation and conditions for a smooth phasing out of the milk quota system, as requested by the Council as part of the 2008 CAP Health Check.

Health issues

The Presidency will inform participants on the conclusions of the International Conference on the movement of exotic animals organized by FVE and the Cypriot Presidency on 4 and 5 October 2012
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To Avoid Poisons, Opt for Organic Foods

By Dr. Mercola

One of the strongest selling points for eating organic food is the fact that doing so can significantly lower your exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals used in conventional agriculture.

Since organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, it stands to reason that organic foods would be less contaminated, and studies have indeed confirmed that those who eat a primarily organic diet have fewer toxins in their system.

Considering the fact that long-term pesticide exposure has been linked to infertility, birth defects,1,2 endocrine disruption, neurological disorders, and cancer, it's also a common sense conclusion that having fewer toxic chemicals in your body can result in improved health.

In fact, a key part of a healthy diet and lifestyle in general is the absence of toxic chemicals.

Pesticide Exposure Is Being Recognized as a Major Health Threat

Download Interview Transcript

In December of 2014 I interviewed André Leu about his book The Myths of Safe Pesticides. If you're of the belief that pesticides are safe, and therefore of no concern when selecting foods, you may want to listen to that interview, provided again here for your convenience.

More recently, a report3,4 by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics5 (FIGO), which represents OB-GYNs in 125 countries, warns that chemical exposures now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction.

Pesticides are one of several categories of toxins included in the report. Pesticides were also included in a new scientific statement6,7 on endocrine-disrupting chemicals by the Endocrine Society task force.

This task force warns that the health effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals is such that everyone needs to take proactive steps to avoid them — especially those seeking to get pregnant, pregnant women, and young children.

When Kids Eat Organic, Their Pesticide Levels Decline

One of the most recent studies8 into organic food and its impact on your pesticide load was published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. The study included 20 children living in Oakland, California, and another 20 living in Salinas, California, the latter of which is a major agricultural community.

For the first four days, all of the children ate a conventional diet. The following seven days, they ate only organic food, followed by another five days of conventional food. As reported by The New York Times:9

"About 72 percent of their urine samples, collected daily, contained evidence of pesticides.

Among the six most frequently detected pesticides, two decreased by nearly 50 percent when children were on the organic diet, and those of a common herbicide fell by 25 percent.

Three other frequently detected pesticides were not significantly lower on the organic diet. Levels were generally higher in the Salinas children than in the Oakland children."

Similar results were obtained in the study10 shown in the featured video at the beginning of the article, conducted by the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. When a family switched to all organic food, both the occurrence and the number of pesticides were reduced in all members of the household.

People Who Eat Organic Have 65 Percent Lower Levels of Organophosphates

Organophosphates (OPs) are among the most commonly used pesticides on American farms. In one of the largest studies11 of its kind, researchers looked at the diets of nearly 4,500 people living in six US cities, assessing the level of exposure to organophosphates via food.

Participants' organophosphate levels were estimated using USDA data12 on the average levels of pesticide residue found in the fruits and vegetables that each individual reported eating.

To verify the accuracy of their estimates, they compared their calculated pesticide exposures to the actual levels of pesticide metabolites (breakdown products) excreted in the urine of a subset of 720 participants.

As expected, those who ate conventionally-grown produce had high concentrations of OP metabolites, whereas those who ate organic produce had significantly lower levels.

Those who "often or always" ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.

According to lead author Cynthia Curl:

"If you tell me what you typically eat, I can tell you how high your pesticide exposure is likely to be. The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference."

Most Widely Used Herbicide Has Been Deemed Carcinogenic

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's best-selling herbicide Roundup, is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world, both on conventional and genetically engineered plants. An estimated one billion pounds a year is sprayed on our food crops, resulting in the average American eating several hundred pounds of glyphosate-contaminated food every year.

In March, glyphosate was reclassified as a Class 2A "probable carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO). The California's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed suit, recently issuing a notice of intent13 to label glyphosate as "known to cause cancer."

Ag Workers Sue Monsanto over Glyphosate Exposure

Since the IARC's determination, agricultural personnel have begun suing Monsanto over past glyphosate exposure.14 US farm worker Enrique Rubio claims nine years of glyphosate application using nothing more than a paper mask for protection caused his bone cancer,15 and Judi Fitzgerald, a horticultural assistant, sued claiming it played a role in her leukemia.

The lawsuits accuse Monsanto of "scientific fraud" in the marketing and sale of Roundup, intentionally misleading regulators about Roundup's dangers, and failing to properly warn users about its carcinogenic potential. According to Bloomberg:16

"An Environmental Protection Agency audit of Bio-Test Laboratories — a firm hired by Monsanto to test the toxicity of Roundup in the 1970s — revealed 'routine falsification of data' at the lab invalidating its studies of the Monsanto product, according to the complaints. Fitzgerald and Rubio also claim the owner of Craven Laboratories — another firm hired by Monsanto in the 1990s — was convicted of fraudulent laboratory practices in the testing of pesticides and herbicides, including Roundup."

Rubio's complaint specifically states that: "Monsanto assured the public that Roundup was harmless. In order to prove this, Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed its dangers."

EPA Found Guilty of Violating Law When It Approved Powerful Insecticide

Pesticides threaten not only human health, but can be devastating to our precious pollinators as well. Honey bees and Monarch butterflies are two species that have dwindled due to excessive pesticide use. Neonicotinoids have been identified as being particularly harmful to these important insects, yet little is being done to curb their use in the US.

Two years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the neonicotinoid Sulfoxaflor — a move that raised great concern among commercial beekeeping trade groups, including the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation. After reviewing the registration data, EarthJustice discovered the agency had not met its own guidelines when approving the insecticide, so a lawsuit was filed against the EPA.

As reported by

"Courts typically give EPA a great deal of deference in these matters because they involve a fair amount of scientific expertise; the courts are often recluctant to second-guess the science. But in the case of Sulfoxaflor, [EarthJustice staff attorney Greg] Loarie says, 'the science was so lacking and it was so clear that EPA just didn't have this fundamental information, the court found that the registration had to be overturned unless and until that information is brought to bear.'"

So for now, Sulfoxaflor is off the market, but it's really quite astounding that the EPA would be so reckless as to approve a pesticide without adequate safety testing when bee die-offs pose such a grave threat to human food production. It just goes to show to what extent corporate profits are permitted to take precedent over long-term sustainability and human survival.

Majority of EU Nations Seek to Opt Out of Cultivating GMOs

While one of the selling points of genetically engineered (GE) plants was that they would reduce pesticide usage, such promises have turned out to be completely inaccurate. Since the introduction of GE crops, pesticide usage has skyrocketed, and with it, pesticide exposure via food, as these crops are more heavily tainted. Bt crops are even designed to produce the Bt toxin internally, and the plants themselves are registered as a pesticide.18

GE crops also promote environmental destruction by worsening soil quality19 and reducing biodiversity,20 both of which are basic tenets of sustainable agriculture and food security. Europe has, overall, been more resistant toward genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and that resistance shows no sign of dwindling. In fact, 19 of the 28 EU member nations have now requested opt-outs from cultivating GE crops21 — an option that was signed into law in March.

Countries refusing to grow GMOs in parts or all of their territories include: Austria, Belgium for the Wallonia region, Britain for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia.

As reported by Reuters:22

"The law was introduced to end years of stalemate as genetically modified crops divide opinion in Europe. Although widely grown in the Americas and Asia, public opposition is strong in Europe and environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact on biodiversity...

Under the new law, the European Commission is responsible for approvals, but requests to be excluded also have to be submitted to the company making the application. In response to the first exclusion requests in August from Latvia and Greece, Monsanto said it was abiding by them, even though it regarded them as unscientific."

More Good News: American Academy of Pediatrics Ends Partnership with Monsanto

Europe opting out of GMO cultivation may not directly benefit Americans, but it definitely slows down the global take-over attempt by the biotechnology industry, and it offers hope that we may still be able to turn the tide in the US as well. Monsanto has long been given a free pass to wield its power at will in the US, but signs of a shift can be seen here too.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has now confirmed it is cutting ties with the chemical technology giant, following a successful campaign started by concerned moms. (The Academy has also ended its relationship with Coca-Cola — another "win" for children and families across the US.) As reported by EcoWatch:23

"It appears that the severing between the divisive biotech company and the pediatricians association was spearheaded by Mamavation founder and 'food activist' Leah Segedie, who confronted the AAP's public affairs team after learning about this 'unholy alliance…' 'I reached out to the AAP behind the scenes to discuss the negative impacts a company like Monsanto could have on their image,' Segedie told EcoWatch...

'I believe the trust of mothers is paramount to the AAP. Partnering with a company that makes poisons for a living isn't consistent with their mission, especially when that company is the maker of DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, glyphosate, and GMOs... They simply do not have a track record consistent with trust, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable part of our population — children,' she continued.

'I'm sure mothers in Anniston, Alabama would especially agree after the $700 million lawsuit settlement from poisoning their town. For that reason, I felt a partnership with Monsanto would be damaging to their reputation and may derail their efforts to build trust with mothers in an age of social transparency...'"

Please Help Protect the Organic Label!

During the Bush administration, the Cornucopia Institute orchestrated a pressure campaign that resulted in the removal of Dr. Barbara Robinson, a corrupt official running the USDA's organic program at the time. We now ask you to help them do it again — this time we need to remove the entire management team for the USDA's National Organic Program, the actions of which threaten to destroy the credibility of the organic label. As explained by the Cornucopia Institute:

"In September 2013, Mr. McEvoy unilaterally announced sweeping changes in the operation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). This 15-member, multi-stakeholder body was established by Congress as a buffer between agribusiness lobbyists and organic stakeholders to ensure that Big Ag did not corrupt the organic label. Mr. McEvoy has stripped much of the power from the NOSB. Along with the illegal stacking of the board with agribusiness executives instead of working farmers, this body has become a rubber stamp for corporate/industrial organics."

For more details, please see the Cornucopia Institute's Action Alert page, where you can also find links to the proxy letter, or simply print it out by clicking the button below. Mail the proxy letter to The Cornucopia Institute, PO Box 126, Cornucopia, WI 54827. Or, fax it to: 866-861-2214.

Which Foods Are the Most Important to Buy Organic?

Everyone can be harmed by pesticides, but if you're a woman of childbearing age or have young children, taking steps to reduce your exposure is especially important. Ideally, all of the food you and your family eat would be organic. That said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional.

One way to save some money while still lowering your risk is to purchase certain organic items, and "settling" for others that are conventionally grown. Animal products, like meat, butter, milk, and eggs, are the most important to buy organic, since animal products tend to bioaccumulate toxins from their pesticide-laced feed, concentrating them to far higher concentrations than are typically present in vegetables.

Unlike conventional fruits and vegetables, where peeling and washing can sometimes reduce the amounts of these toxins, the pesticides and drugs that these animals get exposed to during their lives can become incorporated into their very tissues, especially their fat. So if you're on a budget, choose organic animal foods first.

Beyond animal foods, the pesticide load of different fruits and vegetables can vary greatly. Consumer Reports analyzed 12 years of data from the USDA's Pesticide Data Program to determine the risk categories (from very low to very high) for different types of produce.24 Because children are especially vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, including pesticides, they based the risk assessment on a 3.5-year-old child. They recommended buying organic for any produce that came back in the medium or higher risk categories, which left the following foods as examples of those you should always try to buy organic.

PeachesCarrots Strawberries Green Beans Sweet Bell Peppers Hot Peppers Tangerines Nectarines Cranberries Sweet Potatoes

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Ecuador hikes taxes as deadly quake compounds economic pain

Ecuador hikes taxes as deadly quake compounds economic pain | geography |

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — President Rafael Correa announced Wednesday night that he is raising sales taxes and will charge a one-time levy on millionaires to rebuild cities devastated by Ecuador's worst earthquake in decades. In a televised address, Correa said damages from the 7.8-magnitude quake will likely run into the billions of dollars, adding to already heavy economic hardships in this OPEC nation triggered by the collapse in world oil prices. The task of rebuilding shouldn't fall only to communities along the coast in the quake's path but will require sacrifices from all segments of Ecuadorean society according to their ability to contribute, Correa said. "I know we're at the most-difficult stage right now but it's just the beginning," he said. Using authority granted by the state of emergency he declared after Saturday night's quake, Correa said sales taxes would increase to 14 percent from 12 percent for the coming year. People with more than $1 million in assets will be charged a one-time tax of 0.9 percent on their wealth, while workers earning over $1,000 a month will be forced to contribute a day's wages and those earning $5,000 a month the equivalent of five days' pay. Taxes on companies will also go up, and Correa said he will look to sell certain state assets that he didn't specify. He is also drawing on $600 million in emergency credits from the World Bank and other multilateral lenders. The tax hikes come as the scale of devastation continues to sink in. A helicopter flyover of the damage zone Wednesday showed entire city blocks in ruins as if they had been bombed. Late Wednesday, the government raised the death toll to 570. Officials listed 163 people as missing while the number of those made homeless climbed over 23,500. The final death toll could surpass casualties from earthquakes in Chile and Peru in the past decade. Even as authorities turn to restoring electricity and clearing debris, the earth continued to move. A magnitude-6.1 aftershock before dawn Wednesday set babies crying and sent nervous residents pouring into the streets. Local seismologists had recorded more than 550 aftershocks, some felt 105 miles (170 kilometers) away in the capital of Quito. Rescuers who have arrived from Mexico, Colombia, Spain and other nations said they would keep searching for survivors, but cautioned that time was running out and the likelihood of finding more people alive grew smaller with the passage of every hour. Among the survivors, the situation was growing increasingly tense. While humanitarian aid has been pouring in from around the world, distribution is slow. In Manta on Wednesday, people waited for hours under the tropical sun for water and food supplies. Soldiers kept control with fenced barricades. "They looted the store. I'm taking out what little remains," Jose Encalada said as he cleaned up his paint store in Pedernales, one of the hardest-hit towns. Making it harder for Ecuador to get back on its feet is an adverse economic environment for oil producers. Unlike the deadly earthquake that ravaged Chile in 2010, when commodity prices were at a high and most of South America was booming, Ecuador must rebuild with prices of oil, the lifeblood of its economy, near a decade low. Manufacturing is also suffering because the economy is dollarized, depriving companies in Ecuador of the same jolt the rest of South America has experienced from devalued currencies. Even before the quake, Ecuador was bracing for a bout of austerity, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the economy would shrink 4.5 percent this year. 

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South America's Leftist Implosion: Let the Debate Begin

From Venezuela to Brazil to Argentina, the political left is crumbling, raising real questions about the durability of South America's so-called "Pink Tide." In Caracas, the future of Chávez protégé Nicolás Maduro remains unclear amidst plunging world oil prices, rampant inflation, power shortages and scarcity of basic goods. Opposition politicians have collected almost two million signatures calling for a recall referendum which could oust the president from power. In Argentina meanwhile, voters recently rejected Kirchner protégé Daniel Scioli in favor of Mauricio Macri, thus shattering the Peronist party's lock on power. Macri disdains the foreign policy maneuverings of his predecessors, that is to say power couple Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who lined up behind Venezuela and Cuba. By contrast, Macri is seen as much more partial to the United States.

Though certainly significant, such developments pale beside tectonic change in Brazil, which up until recently was the largest ostensibly leftist country in the wider region. There, lawmakers ousted Workers' Party President Dilma Rousseff so as to place her on trial for alleged financial wrongdoing. According to the Guardian, the new center-right administration in Brasilia seeks to "soften the definition of slavery, roll back the demarcation of indigenous land, trim house building programs and sell off state assets in airports, utilities and the post office. Newly appointed ministers also are talking of cutting healthcare spending and reducing the cost of the bolsa familia poverty relief system."

An Unflattering Picture

The significance of such developments cannot be under-stated. Whatever its flaws, the South American left was the most potent and well-organized force of its kind throughout the world and its possible implosion could have ripple effects. Without Brazil as a central buttressing force, constructing a viable, cohesive and continental-wide leftist project could prove daunting. In Chile, socialist president Michelle Bachelet is foundering halfway through her second term, having failed to secure an ambitious social agenda. Indeed, news reports suggest that Bachelet has "stalled" amid corruption scandals and economic slowdown linked to the global fall in commodity prices. Recently, frustration over Bachelet's stalled educational reforms prompted students to disguise themselves as tourists in an effort to infiltrate La Moneda, the presidential palace. Once inside, they launched a protest.

Whether Andean populist outliers Bolivia or Ecuador really present any viable reason for hope at this point is open to doubt and that is putting it mildly. In the early days, Evo Morales was known for his strong anti-imperialist and environmental credentials. However, despite social gains Bolivia is still caught in the resource trap and depends highly on the export of raw materials such as minerals. In 2013, the Bolivian president came under withering criticism from Indians when he announced plans to build a roadway through the TIPNIS park and rainforest. When indigenous peoples launched a protest, claiming the highway would lead to illegal logging and land grabs, Morales called out the police who brutally attacked the demonstrators' makeshift camp. The BBC notes that "some of the indigenous leaders, environmentalists and activists who helped put Evo Morales in power have criticized him, arguing that his policies seem to favor the wealthy, light-skinned minority." In the end, a shame-faced Morales was forced to shelve the project.

Meanwhile, though the government's socialist policies initially antagonized many in the wealthy eastern lowland province of Santa Cruz, and regional leaders even led a campaign for greater autonomy, "Morales's relationship with the Santa Cruz business leaders has improved and there is growing respect in Santa Cruz for his growth agenda." Furthermore, allegations that Morales used improper influence to favor a Chinese construction company damaged his standing. A former girlfriend of Morales holds an important position at the firm, which landed lucrative contracts with the Bolivian state. Recently, it seems Morales narrowly lost a vote when a referendum was called which would have allowed him to stand for a fourth term.

If Morales' leftist credentials have come under fire, then it could be said that President Rafael Correa of Ecuador is even more suspect. Like Bolivia, Ecuador is caught in the resource trap and specifically petroleum exports. In 2013, Correa pulled the plug on the so-called Yasuni-ITT initiative, which would have spared biologically rich Yasuni national park from oil drilling. Now, with oil prices slumping, Ecuador faces even more pressure to expand the Amazonian oil frontier because Quito owes crude to China. Correa has auctioned off new blocs of Amazon territory to Chinese firms, which has in turn sparked controversy.

Last year, thousands protested government expansion of the oil frontier, as well as other issues including repression of freedom of speech and the president's proposed amendment to the constitution which would have allowed him to be re-elected indefinitely. Correa responded by sending in the police, tear gassing demonstrators and conducting arbitrary arrests. In another draconian move, the Guardian reports that Ecuadoran authorities may have broken the law by spying on environmentalists, indigenous groups and political opponents who opposed oil exploitation in the Amazon. Perhaps reading the writing on the wall, Correa himself decided last year not to seek a fourth term in office.

Spineless Political Leaders

Though such developments are unflattering to be sure, they shouldn't come as any great surprise. Indeed, sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks paint a vain, narrow-minded and crass picture of many South American leftist leaders. The cables, which cover correspondence from the Bush and Obama eras, suggest that continental-wide leftist unity was not really in the cards and anti-imperialist rhetoric was only skin deep. If social movements had any high ideals about their leaders, they probably jettisoned such illusions after reading through Washington's correspondence with its various embassies throughout the hemisphere.

Take, for example, Lula and Dilma's Workers' Party, which secretly sought to outflank Venezuela throughout the wider region. In 2006, Brazilian diplomats traveled to Peru where they expressed grave concern about Chávez's rising influence. Lula's team also sought to sideline some of Chávez's more innovative proposals such as the so-called "Bank of the South." Meanwhile, Lula's Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said that Brazil and the U.S. should develop joint contingency plans to counteract Chávez. Other cables demonstrate how the Workers' Party sought to ingratiate itself with Washington while downplaying links to "outdated" leftists. In yet other correspondence, Lula's team expressed grave misgivings about Evo Morales, and specifically the prospect of a Bolivian-Venezuelan radical alliance.

Fellow leftist leaders scarcely emerge from WikiLeaks correspondence in a more positive light than their counterparts in Brazil. Take, for example, Bachelet of Chile who sat down with the Americans at La Moneda presidential palace to explain that not all South American leaders were dangerous populists. Moreover, Bachelet added, Argentina under the Kirchners lacked "credibility." Needless to say, Bachelet ordered her security team to work with the FBI in an effort to monitor restive Mapuche Indians in Chile. Over in Argentina meanwhile, the Kirchners were similarly cynical and sought to distance themselves from Venezuela in private meetings with U.S. officials. What is more, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sought to limit Venezuela's influence within newly-created Bank of the South.

Self-Satisfied New York Times

Predictably, the establishment press is already pouncing on the left's failures in order to push its own wider hemispheric agenda. The New York Times has found it difficult to contain its own satisfaction at recent turn of events. That's hardly surprising given the Times' historic agenda for Latin America, predicated on right wing notions of free trade and U.S. military assistance. In April, 2002 the Times backed "respected business leader" Pedro Carmona, who overthrew Chávez in a short-lived coup. Santiago-based Times correspondent Larry Rohter expressed satisfaction over Chávez's forcible removal by the Venezuelan opposition. "Chávez was a left-wing populist doomed by habitual recklessness," Rohter wrote, adding that the Venezuelan leader's fall could not "be classified as a conventional Latin American military coup."

Not stopping there, the Times lambasted my first book Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge to the U.S. on the pages of the business section no less. "Socialism hasn't worked," intoned sage Times expert Roger Lowenstein, so why can't "Marxist" Kozloff and Chávez just wake up and endorse the free market, rather than consider innovative trade policies which go outside the usual corporate channels? Now that the left is crumbling in South America and pro-business leaders are coming back to power, the Times is salivating. Shifting political landscapes, the paper notes, "offers the United States an opportunity to jump-start its relationship with several neighbors that have historically regarded Washington as neglectful, imperial -- or both." It would be "foolish," adds the Times, for the U.S. to pass up the opportunity of signing trade pacts with the likes of Argentina or Brazil. In the event that new rightist governments have difficulty protecting U.S. investment, they can always turn to Washington for more military aid. Indeed, the Times touts human rights violator Colombia no less as "evidence of the potential of sustained security partnerships."

Lack of Depth at the Guardian

So much for the Times, but where's the wider debate on the left circuit about South America? I haven't seen much discussion on the matter, save for the Guardian of London where rival columnists have been swiping at each other without engaging in much substance. Take, for example, Nick Cohen, who purports to represent the conscience of the left but who nevertheless supported George Bush's disgraced 2003 invasion of Iraq, an effort which in his words offered the possibility of "salvation." In a column notable for sheer shock value, Cohen argues that "radical tourists" and "dupes" who have defended Venezuela are no different from sex tourists who seek out cheap and voyeuristic thrills in the Caribbean.

Just who are these "dupes" of the Venezuelan left? Pointing to Exhibit A, Cohen goes on the warpath against Seumas Milne, a fellow Guardian contributor who indeed seems to have a rather rigid and ideological view of the world. In a column, Milne attempts to link anti-government protest in Venezuela with the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, both of which are tainted by unseemly ties to Washington (incidentally, Milne might want to talk to some actual leftists in Ukraine who participated in the Maidan and hardly see themselves as willing dupes of the State Department). Having attacked Milne, a somewhat easy target, Cohen then takes aim at Noam Chomsky and Oliver Stone, figures who are all too willing to engage in "left orientalism" on Venezuela.

To be sure, Chomsky and Stone have their shortcomings on Venezuela and the left more generally, and I have been critical of both at different times. However, by setting up false straw men in the form of Stone and Chomsky, who should not constitute the last word on Venezuela, Cohen cheapens the debate. As early as 2006, I noted critical deficiencies within the Venezuelan health care system, as well as underlying problems with economic cooperatives and housing. I also interviewed a local environmental expert who spoke of dire ecological catastrophe around Lake Maracaibo and the need to move away from Chávez's petroleum-based economy.

The following year, I warned of the deepening cult of personality around Chávez and questioned the efficacy of Venezuela's populist model. In other articles, I criticized the country's foreign policy and Chávez's ties to authoritarian governments throughout the world. It's a shame that Chávez missed crucial opportunities to build bridges during the Arab Spring, for example (for more on Chávez's record, as well as the many challenges facing the South American left, see my second book which provides a nuanced and sober political evaluation of the wider region).

Moving Beyond the Blame Game

The mainstream media does not suffer from an identity crisis and has always been clear in its policy proscriptions for Latin America: that is to say support for more corporate free trade and military repression. Leftist writers, by contrast, never developed a coherent and radical vision for the future. Judging from the "debate" so far, Guardian columnists prefer to swipe at each other rather than come up with any meaningful or constructive suggestions as to where the left, such as it is, might go from here. If Venezuela and other countries don't provide a viable political, social or economic model, then what are the alternatives?

Politicians from Bernie Sanders to Hugo Chávez love to employ incendiary rhetoric stressing the need for "revolution." More often than not, such platitudes either fall flat or don't go nearly far enough. To be sure, South America's "Pink Tide" succeeded in overturning many facets of ferocious "neo-liberalism," though leaders later failed to develop a more ambitious anti-capitalist critique. Indeed, it almost seemed at times that innovative measures like the ALBA exchange program, barter schemes, anti-poverty relief banks, worker-owned firms, alternative currencies, participatory budgeting and economic cooperatives to name just a few were a mere afterthought when juxtaposed with populists' more realpolitik objectives. Perhaps now, having witnessed the shortcomings of populism and the "extractive" model of development, which places more importance on commodity exports as opposed to local needs or the environment, South America's social movements will soberly take stock of their political milieu. In light of unscrupulous WikiLeaks cables, such forces may behave much more warily before offering their support to future saviors riding in on a white horse.

Nikolas Kozloff is a New York-based writer and photographer who has given some thought to the notion of revolutionary change.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Ebola outbreak: West Africa food harvests ‘at risk’

Ebola outbreak: West Africa food harvests ‘at risk’ | geography |
BBC – The Ebola outbreak is putting food harvests in West Africa “at serious risk”, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns. It has raised a special alert for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries worst affected.

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Destination Wedding Cupra Marittima, Marche

Cupra Marittima, a small pearl in Le Marche region, placed into the heart of the Adriatic Coast, surrounded by nature and ancient history, is the perfect pla...

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Le Marche, in Central Italy is an ideal location for an Italian wedding. Less expensive than many other parts of Italy, Le Marche Region offers a perfect climate and an intimate atmosphere.

The historical hilltop villages or the coastal towns offer a number of choices for the location of the actual wedding ceremony. Stunning backdrop across the rolling hills, fascinating Sibillini mountains, gold sandy beaches.

Mariano Pallottini's curator insight, February 29, 2016 4:40 AM

Le Marche, in Central Italy is an ideal location for an Italian wedding. Less expensive than many other parts of Italy, Le Marche Region offers a perfect climate and an intimate atmosphere.

The historical hilltop villages or the coastal towns offer a number of choices for the location of the actual wedding ceremony. Stunning backdrop across the rolling hills, fascinating Sibillini mountains, gold sandy beaches.

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Denmark shows interest in green investment for Indonesia | The Jakarta Post

Denmark shows interest in green investment for Indonesia | The Jakarta Post | geography |

Indonesia and Denmark are embracing a new level of bilateral relations as the Scandinavian country expresses its interest in boosting investment particularly in green technology and sustainable development and to doubling trade by 2016.

Seeking to explore business opportunities and strengthen bilateral relations, Danish Trade and Investment Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr arrived in Indonesia on Monday with a business delegation. They attended a discussion with their local counterparts to forge commercial links between the two nations at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta.

Danish ambassador to Indonesia Martin Bille Hermann said the delegation included 13 companies from various sectors, mainly energy and infrastructure, adding that the discussion was aimed at “sitting the companies from both countries down together to talk and examine possibilities,” and later letting the Danish companies share their technology, know-how and other experience.

Hermann said that Denmark had even prepared an economic growth strategy for Indonesia that would focus on green technology in infrastructure, energy, industry and healthcare and would like to strengthen other interactions. He acknowledged the paucity of investment and trade between the two nations.

“From the Danish point of view, we would like to see our exports to Indonesia double by 2016,” he said.


Click headline to read more--

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Really good info if you need to fill out a current event on Development!!

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Trapped in Apulia: Europe's Deepening Refugee Crisis

Trapped in Apulia: Europe's Deepening Refugee Crisis | geography |
A young Liberian refugee arrives in Italy, where he is left to fend for himself and winds up homeless in a filthy slum. When he flees to Germany, the government there invokes EU asylum law and sends him back.

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Finding the urban crisis tipping point

Finding the urban crisis tipping point | geography |

21 November 2013, IRIN -- "By 2015, three billion people will be living in urban slums according to UN Habitat. As the number of vulnerable people living in urban slums rises, aid agencies are struggling to identify the tipping point at which chronic urban vulnerability turns into a humanitarian crisis. IRIN spoke to aid staff to find out what they are doing about it. 

Accurately tracking vulnerability is more complex in densely populated towns and cities, particularly in informal neighbourhoods such as slums, than it is in rural areas. Aid agencies and donors have therefore been slow to take on the challenge, inadvertently creating a rural-urban divide. 

“Because we do not have the information, we do not intervene, and we allow people to live in conditions that we would consider unacceptable in rural settings,” said Marie Sardier, Action against Hunger (ACF)’s food security and livelihoods adviser in Paris. 

Oxfam’s deputy humanitarian director Graham Mackay agrees: “In a rural area, we won’t intervene until a community has reached the point where it cannot cope anymore. I do not think we have enough understanding to apply this same method in an urban context.” ..."

Photo: West Point slum in Monrovia, Liberia. Credit: 
Tommy Trenchard, IRIN

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People of Denmark are Immigrants or Descendants of Immigrants

Geographically, the beautiful Nordic country of Denmark is located in the Northern Europe. It has a rich history and a vibrant culture that has Sweden in the south west, Norway in South bordered with Germany. For those who are looking for an opportunity to settle in Europe, Denmark may work as an easy entry though Denmark has strict immigration policies.

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Very straight forward and easy to understand if you're working on human geography homework!��

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How Costa Rica’s eco-economy saved its forests

How Costa Rica’s eco-economy saved its forests | geography |

Allianz Knowledge on Environment: Ahead of the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development Allianz Knowledge talks to Dr. Ina Porras of the International Institute for Envirohhghghghghhghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhnment and Development (IIED) about how Costa Rica's environmental protection policies protect forests and biodiversity and tackle climate change through payments for ecosystem services.

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