Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Abomination': Rand Paul slams NDAA as bill passes US Senate


The controversial NDAA bill, which allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens, was approved by the Senate despite White House threats to veto the legislation. Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has decried the law as an “abomination.”

The libertarian Republican voiced his concerns to a conference committee following the decision to give the present version of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the go-ahead. Paul cited the committee’s decision to scrap an amendment that would have prohibited the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorist activities.

"It's [the amendment] been removed because they want the ability to hold American citizens without trial in our country. This is so fundamentally wrong and goes against everything we stand for as a country that it can't go unnoticed,” Paul told the committee. He went on to condemn the bill as an “abomination” that deprives US citizens of the right to a fair trial.

"When you're accused of a crime in our country you get a trial, you get a trial by a jury of your peers, no matter how heinous your crime is, no matter how awful you are, we give you a trial," he said.

Senators in favor of the bill disregarded Paul’s claims, maintaining that the language in the legislation protected Americans’ constitutional right to a trial. They argue that US citizens who affiliate themselves with foreign powers consequently sacrifice their constitutional rights.

Under the contested act, the President reserves the right to jail any US citizen suspected of aiding terrorists or forces hostile to the US and its allies.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved the Feinstein Amendment that specifically prohibited “detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.” The exemption of this amendment by Senators removes current safeguards that prevent the president from incarcerating an individual suspected of terrorism.

The Legislation will now go to the White House, where it may be vetoed by President Obama.

“The Administration strongly objects to section 1031's restrictions on the use of funds to transfer detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries,” the White House said in a policy statement.

Obama signed the 2012 version of the document into law last September, but included a statement saying that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

The legislation also stipulates a significant increase in the Pentagon budget, including $88.5 billion for America's ongoing wars and other operations around the world. The total amount of military spending set out in the new bill is $1.7 billion over what the Obama Administration initially put forward in its 2013 budget.

The House Armed Services Committee has hailed the measures as “an incremental step to address the $46 billion decrease when considering where the president proposed national defense [spending] would be for fiscal year 2013 in last year’s budget.”

Google Starts Watching What You Do Off The Internet Too

The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.
Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.
In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.
“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically.”
The blog goes on to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”
Google is all but certain to ensure that all user data collected off- and online will be cloaked through safeguards that will allow for complete and total anonymity for customers. When on-the-Web interactions start mirroring real life activity, though, even a certain degree of privacy doesn’t make Conversions API any less creepy. As Jim Edwards writes for Business Insider, “If you bought a T shirt at The Gap in the mall with your credit card, you could start seeing a lot more Gap ads online later, suggesting jeans that go with that shirt.”
Of course, there is always the possibility that all of this information can be unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile, however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.

Hunger And Homelessness Rise In The Us

Homelessness and poverty is on the rise, with 84 percent of US cities reporting that requests for emergency food assistance increased in 2012. Of those seeking emergency food, 51 percent were families and 37 were employed.
The news comes just a few days before millions of Americans get together for Christmas. With homelessness and poverty reaching record levels this year, many families may not be able to afford the feast they were able to prepare in the past.
The Hunger and Homelessness Survey released by the US Conference of Mayors states that of 25 cities surveyed, 21 have seen an increase in homelessness this year and the remaining three said it remained at the same level. Cities of all sizes, regions and wealth levels were surveyed, including Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Salt Lake City.
The report found that 46.2 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, were living in poverty, and the number of homeless people on a single night in January 2012 was 633,782. The struggling US economy has caused many workers to move from full-time work to part-time, scraping by and living from paycheck to paycheck.
“In the last year, we saw a brand-new 26,000 households [about 56,000 individuals] needing food who never did before,” Steveanna Wynn, executive director of the SHARE food program in Philadelphia, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The increase in poverty and homelessness is “the worst it’s ever been,” she added. “These people never in their wildest dreams through they’d have to go to a food cupboard.”
Of those who sought emergency food, more than half were providing for their families, 37 percent were employed but not making enough money, 17 percent were elderly, and 8.5 percent were homeless, the survey found.
To add to the severity of the situation, states are not able to provide the resources that people are seeking. Of the people needing emergency food assistance, 19 percent did not receive it – even though budgets for emergency food purchases increased by 11 percent this year. With a demand greater than the supply and a looming ‘fiscal cliff’ threatening to cut the already-scarce number of benefits, poverty-stricken Americans may be facing a crisis.
With 2012 creeping to an end, struggling families are concerned that the potential ‘fiscal cliff’ could worsen their situation, especially if government funds for safety net programs are reduced and emergency unemployment benefits come to an end. Mayor Terry Bellamy of Asheville, N.C. told the Salt Lake Tribune that she is worried there won’t be enough resources for a growing number of struggling Americans in the future.
“Dealing with growing needs in the face of dwindling resources is nothing new for mayors, but we are especially concerned about what could happen to our emergency food and shelter programs next year, and in the years beyond, if Washington cannot find a responsible way around – not over – the fiscal cliff,” she said.
Carey Morgan, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, said she doubts conditions will improve for those in need of food or shelter.
“Congress is considering cutting food stamps,” she said. “Things could all be culminating in a great disaster. It’s all kind of disgusting.”

Cancer of Corruption, Seeds of Destruction: The Monsanto GMO Whitewash

Go To Original

Because of the power vested in the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, with command over a space encompassing 27 nations with more than 500 million citizens and the largest nominal world gross domestic product (GDP) of 18 trillion US dollars, it’s perhaps no surprise in this era of moral promiscuity that powerful private lobby groups such as the tobacco industry, the drug lobby, the agribusiness lobby and countless others spend enormous sums of money and other favors—legal and sometimes illegal—to influence policy decisions of the EU Commission.

This revolving door of corrupt ties between powerful private industry lobby groups and the EU Commission was in full view recently with the ruling of the European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) trying to discredit serious scientific tests about the deadly effects of a variety of Monsanto GMO corn.

Cancer of Corruption

In September 2012, Food and Chemical Toxicology, a serious international scientific journal, released a study by a team of scientists at France’s Caen University led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini. Before publication the Seralini study had been reviewed over a four-month period by a qualified group of scientific peers for its methodology and was deemed publishable.

It was no amateur undertaking. The scientists at Caen made carefully-documented results of tests on a group of 200 rats over a two-year life span, basically with one group of non-GMO fed rats, a so-called control group, and the other a group of GMO-fed rats.

Significantly, following a long but finally successful legal battle to force Monsanto to release the details of its own study of the safety of its own NK603 maize (corn), Seralini and colleagues reproduced a 2004 Monsanto study published in the same journal and used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for its 2009 positive evaluation of NK603.

Seralini’s group based their experiment on the same protocol as the Monsanto study but, critically, were testing more parameters more frequently. And the rats were studied for much longer—their full two year average life-time instead of just 90 days in the Monsanto study. The long time span proved critical. The first tumors only appeared 4 to7 months into the study. In industry’s earlier 90-day study on the same GMO maize Monsanto NK603, signs of toxicity were seen but were dismissed as “not biologically meaningful” by industry and EFSA alike. It seems they were indeed very biologically meaningful.

The study was also done with the highest number of rats ever measured in a standard GMO diet study. They tested also “for the first time 3 doses (rather than two in the usual 90 day long protocols) of the Roundup-tolerant NK603 GMO maize alone, the GMO maize treated with Roundup, and Roundup alone at very low environmentally relevant doses starting below the range of levels permitted by regulatory authorities in drinking water and in GM feed.” [1]

Their findings were more than alarming. The Seralini study concluded, “In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs...Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls; the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher. This pathology was confirmed by optic and transmission electron microscopy. Marked and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3–2.3 greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls...” [2]

Four times meant four hundred percent more large tumors in GMO fed rats than in normally fed ones of the control group. Because rats are mammals, their systems should react to chemicals or, in this case GMO corn treated with Monsanto Roundup chemical herbicide, in a similar way to those of a human test subject. [3]

In their study the Seralini group further reported, “By the beginning of the 24th month, 50–80% of female animals had developed tumors in all treated groups, with up to 3 tumors per animal, whereas only 30% of controls [non-GMO-fed—w.e.] were affected. The Roundup treatment groups showed the greatest rates of tumor incidence with 80% of animals affected with up to 3 tumors for one female, in each group.” [4]

Such alarming results had not yet become evident in the first 90 days, the length of most all Monsanto and agrichemical industry tests to date, a clear demonstration of how important it was to conduct longer-term tests and apparently why the industry avoided the longer tests.

Seralini and associates continued to document their alarming findings: “We observed a strikingly marked induction of mammary tumors by R (Roundup) alone, a major formulated pesticide, even at the very lowest dose administered. R has been shown to disrupt aromatase which synthesizes estrogens (Richard et al., 2005), but to also interfere with estrogen and androgen receptors in cells (Gasnier et al., 2009). In addition, R appears to be a sex endocrine disruptor in vivo, also in males (Romano et al., 2010). Sex steroids are also modified in treated rats. These hormone-dependent phenomena are confirmed by enhanced pituitary dysfunction in treated females.” [5]

Roundup herbicide, by terms of the license contract with Monsanto, must be used on Monsanto GMO seeds. The seeds are in fact genetically “modified” only to resist the weed-killing effect of Monsanto’s own Roundup, the world’s largest-selling weed-killer.

In plain language, as another scientific study led by Prof. Seralini noted, “GMO plants have been modified to contain pesticides, either through herbicide tolerance or by producing insecticides, or both, and could therefore be considered as ‘pesticide plants’” [6]

Further, “Roundup Ready crops [such as Monsanto NK603 maize-w.e.] have been modified in order to become insensitive to glyphosate. This chemical, together with adjuvants in formulations, constitutes a potent herbicide. It has been used for many years as a weed killer...GMO plants exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup...can even accumulate Roundup residues throughout their life...Glyphosate and its main metabolite AMPA (with its own toxicity) are found in GMOs on a regular and regulatory basis. Therefore, such residues are absorbed by people eating most GMO plants (as around 80% of these plants are Roundup tolerant).” [7]

Suspiciously enough, Monsanto had repeatedly refused scientific requests to publish the exact chemicals used in its Roundup aside from one—glyphosate. They argued that it was a “trade secret.” Independent analyses by scientists indicated, however, that the combination of glyphosate with Monsanto’s “mystery” added chemicals created a highly toxic cocktail that was shown to toxically affect human embryo cells in doses far lower than used in agriculture.[8]

Mammary tumors that developed in rats fed GMO corn and/or low levels of Roundup. From the paper “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” published in Food and Chemical Toxicology.

What was more than alarming in the context of Seralini’s first long-term independent study of the effects of a GMO diet on rats was that it took place some twenty years after US President George H.W. Bush gave the commercial release of GMO seeds the green light and mandated no government safety tests before release. Bush did so following a closed-door meeting with top officials of Monsanto Corporation, the world’s largest GMO concern.

The US President decreed then that GMO seeds were to be permitted in the United States with not one single independent precautionary government test to determine if they were safe for human or animal consumption. It became known as the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence. The EU Commission dutifully aped the US Substantial Equivalence Doctrine of “hear no bad effects, see no bad effects...hear no evil, see no evil.”

EFSA ‘science’ exposed

What the Seralini study has set off has been the scientific equivalent of a thermonuclear explosion. It exposed the fact that the EU “scientific” controls on GMO were nothing other than accepting without question the tests given them by the GMO companies themselves. As far as the irresponsible bureaucrats of the EU Commission were concerned, when it came to GMO, the Monsanto fox could indeed “guard the hen house.”

Suddenly, with worldwide attention to the new Seralini results, clearly the EU Commission and its EFSA was under fire as never in their history and how they reacted was worthy of a bad copy of an Agatha Christie murder novel. Only it was no novel but a real-life conspiracy that evidently involved some form of collusion between Monsanto and the GMO agrichemical cartel, EU commissioners, the GMO panel members of EFSA, complacent major media and several member governments of the EU, including Spain and Holland.

The Brussels EU scientific food regulatory organization, EFSA, was under the gun from the damning results of the long-term Seralini study. EFSA had recommended approval of Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup-tolerant maize in 2009 without first conducting or insuring any independent testing. They admitted in their official journal that they relied on “information supplied by the applicant (Monsanto), the scientific comments submitted by Member States and the report of the Spanish Competent Authority and its Biosafety Commission.” EFSA also admitted that the Monsanto tests on rats were for only 90 days. Seralini’s group noted that the massive toxic effects and deaths of GMO-fed rats took place well after 90 days, a reason why longer-term studied were obviously warranted. [9]

The Spanish report cited by EFSA was itself hardly convincing and was anything but independent. It stated, “according to the current state of scientific knowledge and after examining the existing information and data provided by the Monsanto Company, the Spanish Commission on Biosafety could give a favorable opinion to the commercialization in the EU of maize NK603...” And the scientific comments submitted by Member States seemed to include Spain and Holland which applied to license the Monsanto seed in the first place. [10]

The EFSA concluded at the time of its approval in 2009 that, “the molecular data provided [by Monsanto-w.e.] are sufficient and do not raise a safety concern.” The Brussels scientific panel further declared amid scientific-sounding verbiage that, “The EFSA GMO Panel is of the opinion that maize NK603 is as safe as conventional maize. Maize NK603 and derived products are unlikely to have any adverse effect on human and animal health in the context of the intended uses.” [11]

Now, in September 2012, three years after the commercial introduction of Monsanto GMO maize in the EU, Seralini showed, complete with ghastly photos, that Monsanto’s GMO maize demonstrably caused severe rates of cancerous tumors and early death in rats.

The EU Commission in Brussels had guidelines that were as revealing for what they did not say as for what they did say about what precautions are taken to insure public health and safety from exposure to GMO plants and their paired toxic herbicides: “Toxicological assessments on test animals are not explicitly required for the approval of a new food in the EU or the US. Independent experts have decided that in some cases, chemical analyses of the food’s makeup are enough to indicate that the new GMO is substantially equivalent to its traditional counterpart...In recent years, biotech companies have tested their transgenic products (maize, soy, tomato) before introducing them to the market on several different animals over the course of up to 90 days. Negative effects have not yet been observed.” [12]

Because of US Government arm-twisting and of the obviously powerful lobby power of the Monsanto-led GMO agrichemical lobby in the US and EU, as of the time of the Seralini study, no regulatory authority in the world had requested mandatory chronic animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and formulated pesticides. The only studies available were a tiny handful of 90 day rat feeding trials carried out by the biotech industry and no studies longer than that, apparently on the principle that conflict of interest in an area as important as the safety of food should not be taken as a serious matter.

Revealingly, the EU stated publicly their seemingly reassuring policy: “GMO critics claim that feeding studies with authorized GMOs have revealed negative health effects. Such claims have not been based on peer-reviewed, scientifically accepted evaluations. If reliable, scientific studies were to indicate any type of health risk, the respective GMO would not receive authorization.” [13] That was the EU official line until the 2012 Seralini bomb exploded in their faces.

EU Commission deception, coverup

The September 2012 Seralini study was peer-reviewed, and it was published in a highly respected international scientific journal after such review. What was the response of the EU Commission and the EFSA? Nothing short of fraudulent deception and coverup of their corruption by the Monsanto GMO lobby.

On November 28, 2012, only a few weeks after the study was published, EFSA in Brussels issued a press release with the following conclusion: “Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al. mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” Per Bergman, who led EFSA’s work, said: “EFSA’s analysis has shown that deficiencies in the Séralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment. We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue.” [14] Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

At the very minimum, the precautionary principle in instances involving even the potential for grave damage to the human population would mandate that the EU Commission and its EFSA should order immediate further serious, independent long-term studies to prove or disprove the results of the Seralini tests. That refusal to re-examine its earlier decision to approve Monsanto GMO maize, no matter what flaws might or might not have been in the Seralini study, suggested the EFSA might be trying to cover for the GMO agrichemical lobby at the very least.

Instead of clarity, the EFSA statement once more fed EFSA critics who had long argued that the scientists on EFSA’s GMO Panel had blatant conflicts of interest with the very GMO lobby they were supposed to regulate. Corporate Europe Observer, an independent EU corporate watchdog group noted about the EFSA response, “EFSA failed to properly and transparently appoint a panel of scientists beyond any suspicion of conflict of interests; and it failed to appreciate that meeting with Europe’s largest biotech industry lobby group to discuss GMO risk assessment guidelines in the very middle of a EU review undermines its credibility.” [15]

More damaging for the shoddy EFSA coverup on behalf of Monsanto was the fact that over half of the scientists involved in the GMO panel which positively reviewed the Monsanto’s study for GMO maize in 2009, leading to its EU-wide authorization, had conflicts of interests with the biotech industry.[16]

A report by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) found that more than half of the GMO panel experts who signed the approval had conflicts of interest.

The conflicts ranged from receiving research funding from the biotech industry, being a member or collaborator in a pro-biotech industry association, to writing or reviewing industry-sponsored publications. Some conflicts revealed a conflict of scientific interests, with some panel members involved in working on the creation of transgenic plants – including potatoes – with antibiotic-resistant marker genes – including nptII.[17]

Secondly, although none of EFSA’s GMO panel members were medical experts in the use of antibiotics in human medicine, they decided that neomycin and kanamycin were antibiotics with “no or only minor therapeutic relevance”. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified these antibiotics as “critically important” in 2005.

Dutch scientist Harry Kuiper, chair of the EFSA GMO panel who had close links to the biotech industry, played a key role in the framing of this disputed key scientific advice.

Kuiper himself is an open advocate of less controls on GMO seed proliferation in the EU. He has led the EFSA GMO panel since 2003, during which time EFSA went from no GMO approvals to 38 GMO seeds approved for human consumption. The criteria for approval were developed by Kuiper for EFSA in cooperation with Monsanto and the GMO industry and a Monsanto pseudo-scientific front group called ILSI, the Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute, between 2001 and 2003. The board of the noble-sounding ILSI in 2011 was comprised of senior people from Monsanto, ADM (one of the world’s biggest purveyors of GMO soybeans and corn), Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods (major proponent of GMO in foods) and Nestle, another giant GMO food industry user. [18]

One critic of the blatant conflict of interest in having the top EU food safety regulator in bed with the industry whose practices he is mandated to objectively assess noted, “During that period, Harry Kuiper and Gijes Kleter (both members of the EFSA GMO Panel) were active within the ILSI Task Force as experts and as authors of the relevant scientific publications. It is a scandal that Kuiper has remained as Chair of EFSA’s GMO Panel since 2003, and that he is still Chair in spite of the massive criticism directed at the Panel from NGOs and even from the Commission and EU member states.”[19]

The brazen conflicts of interest between Monsanto and the agribusiness lobby and the EFSA went further. In May 2012 Professor Diána Bánáti was forced to resign as Chairman of the EFSA Management Board when it was learned she planned to take up a professional position at the Monsanto-backed International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) in Washington. The same Diána Bánáti had been forced to resign, not as EFSA chairman but as a simultaneous Board Member of ILSI in 2010. Public interest groups made calls for her to resign from EFSA but to no avail. [20] At ILSI she will be able to use expertise and contacts gained from working for the EFSA to help GMO companies like Monsanto and other food industry companies influence policy across the world.

In sum, it came as no surprise to those familiar with the notorious “revolving door” in Brussels between the GMO industry and the regulatory body entrusted with making independent decisions on the risks of GMO in the EU, that EFSA condemned the Seralini study results. Most telling however of the brazen pro-GMO industry bias of EFSA’s GMO Panel members was the fact that the final ruling statement by the EFSA GMO Panel reviewing Seralini’s results announced, “Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al. mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” [21]

The EFSA is not the only source of blatant and reckless pro-GMO sentiment in Brussels. Some weeks before release of the embarrassing Seralini study, Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser of the EU Commission, said in an interview on 24 July, 2012, “There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental health, so that’s pretty robust evidence, and I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food.” She added that the precautionary principle also no longer applies, which means the EU should not err on the side of caution on the approval of GMOs.[22]

Were there any pretense of scientific responsibility in the clearly corrupt EFSA panel, or Professor Glover’s office, they would have immediately called for multiple, independent similar long-term rat studies to confirm or disprove the Seralini results. They and the Monsanto GMO lobby influencing them clearly had no desire to do anything but try to slander the Seralini group with vague accusations and hope the obedient international media would take the headline and close the embarrassing story. It was typical of the entire history of the spread of patented GMO seeds and paired toxic herbicides like Roundup.

Notes:

[1] Seralini et al., Op. Cit.
[2] Ibid.

[3] WiseGeek, Why are Rats used in Animal Testing?, accessed in http://www.wisegeek.org/why-are-rats-used-in-animal-testing.htm

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Gilles-Eric Seralini et al, Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements, Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:10, accessed in http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Aris, A., Leblanc, S., Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada, Reproductive Toxicology, 2011 May;31(4):528-33. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

[9] European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms on applications (EFSA-GMO-NL-2005-22 and EFSA-GMO-RX-NK603) for the placing on the market of the genetically modified glyphosate tolerant maize NK603 for cultivation, food and feed uses and import and processing, and for renewal of the authorisation of maize NK603 as existing product, The EFSA Journal (2009) 1137, 1-50.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] GMO-Kompass, Food Safety Evaluation–Evaluating Safety: A Major Undertaking, February 15, 2006, accessed inhttp://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/safety/human_health/41.evaluation_safety_gm_food_major_undertaking.html

[13] Ibid.

[14] EFSA, Séralini et al. study conclusions not supported by data, says EU risk assessment community, EFSA Press Release, 28 November 2012, accessed in http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/121128.htm

[15] Corporate Europe Observatory, Op. Cit.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Corporate Europe Observatory, Approving the GM potato: conflicts of interest, flawed science and fierce lobbying, CorporateEurope.org, November 7, 2011, accessed in http://corporateeurope.org/publications/approving-gm-potato-conflicts-in…

[18] ILSI, 2011 Annual Report, Board of Trustees, accessed in http://www.ilsi.org/Documents/ILSI_AR2011_rFinal.pdf

[19] Tore B. Krudtaa, Harry Kuiper Chair of EFSA GMO panel – Another regulator in the business of deregulation?, Monsanto.No, 22 September 2011, accessed in http://www.monsanto.no/index.php/en/environment/gmo/gmo-news/166-harry-kuiper-chair-of-efsa-gmo-panel-another-regulator-in-the-business-of-deregulation

[20] EFSA, FAQ on the resignation of Diana Banati as member and Chair of EFSA´s Management Board, accessed inhttp://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/faqs/faqresignationdianabanati.htm

[21] EFSA, Séralini et al. study conclusions not supported by data, says EU risk assessment community, EFSA Press Release, 28 November 2012, accessed in http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/121128.htm.

[22] EurAktiv.com, GMOs: “Anne Glover, you are wrong,” 27 July 2012, accessed in http://www.euractiv.com/cap/gmos-anne-glover-wrong-analysis-514185

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Why The Washington Post Killed The Story Of Murdoch’s Bid To Buy The US Presidency

Go To Original

Carl  Bernstein, of All the President’s Men fame, has a revealing commentary in in the Guardian today, though revealing not entirely in a way he appears to understand. Bernstein highlights a story first disclosed earlier this month in the Washington Post by his former journalistic partner Bob Woodward that media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to “buy the US presidency”.

A taped conversation shows that in early 2011 Murdoch sent Roger Ailes, the boss of his most important US media outlet, Fox News, to Afghanistan to persuade Gen David Petraeus, former commander of US forces, to run against Barack Obama as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Murdoch promised to bankroll Petraeus’ campaign and commit Fox News to provide the general with wall-to-wall support.

Murdoch’s efforts to put his own man in the White House failed because Petraeus decided he did not want to run for office. “Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran," Petraeus says in the recording, "but I won't … but if I ever ran, I'd take him up on his offer.”

Bernstein is rightly appalled not just by this full-frontal attack on democracy but also by the fact that the Washington Post failed to splash with their world exclusive. Instead they buried it inside the paper’s lifestyle section, presenting it as what the section editor called “a buzzy media story that … didn't have the broader import” that would justify a better showing in the paper.

In line with the Washington Post, most other major US news outlets either ignored the story or downplayed its significance.

We can probably assume that Bernstein wrote his piece at the bidding of Woodward, as a covert way for him to express his outrage at his newspaper’s wholesale failure to use the story to generate a much-deserved political scandal. The pair presumably expected the story to prompt congressional hearings into Murdoch’s misuse of power, parallel to investigations in the UK that have revealed Murdoch’s control of politicians and the police there.

As Bernstein observes: “The Murdoch story – his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of the most important and far-reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30 years, an ongoing tale without equal.”

What Bernstein cannot understand is why his media masters don’t see things the way he does. He reserves his greatest dismay for “the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country's political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch's, Ailes' and Fox's contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.”

But in truth neither of Bernstein’s explanations for this failure is convincing.

A far more likely reason for the US media’s aversion to the story is that it poses a danger to the Matrix-like wall of static interference generated by precisely the same media that successfully conceals the all-too-cosy relationship between the corporations (that own the media) and the country’s politicians.

The Petraeus story is disturbing to the media precisely because it tears away the façade of US democratic politics, an image carefully honed to persuade the American electorate that it chooses its presidents and ultimately decides the direction of the country’s political future.

Instead, the story reveals the charade of that electoral game, one in which powerful corporate elites manipulate the system through money and the media they own to restrict voters’ choice to two almost-identical candidates. Those candidates hold the same views on 80 per cent of the issues. Even where their policies differ, most of the differences are quickly ironed out behind the scenes by the power elites through the pressure they exert on the White House via lobby groups, the media and Wall Street.

The significance of Woodward’s story is not that it proves Rupert Murdoch is danger to democracy but rather that it reveals the absolute domination of the US political system by the global corporations that control what we hear and see. Those corporations include, of course, the owners of the Washington Post.

The saddest irony is that the journalists who work within the corporate media are incapable of seeing outside the parameters set for them by their media masters. And that includes even the most accomplished practitioners of the trade: Woodward and Bernstein.

You might want to think twice about streaming that “subversive” documentary about the Weather Underground on Netflix. If Republicans have their way, you just might end up on a watch list somewhere.  
This week, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the 1988 Video Protection Privacy Act, which forbids movie rental companies from sharing or selling their customers’ viewing history. The Senate is expected to take up the amendment soon.
If this passes, what you watch on Netflix may soon become public information that your friends, employers, and even the government will have access to. Are you regretting streaming the latest Harold and Kumar yet?  Or all those soft-porn chick-flicks?
Netflix favors the law change because it will help them branch into social media and connect Facebook customers to each other based on their similar tastes in films. Unmentioned by Netflix is the enormous profit-potential in selling your viewing history to advertisers who can target specific demographics based on your preference in movies. Also unmentioned by Netflix is just who else might get this information once it’s taken out of the privacy lockbox.
The current version of the amendment does include a provision requiring Netflix to get their customers’ consent before sharing their viewing history. That’s helpful to those of us who are aware of the online threats to our privacy. But the vast majority of Americans, especially younger generations of Americans, are completely unaware that their privacy is in danger when they plug into the Internet. And it’ll probably end up being part of those notorious “terms and conditions” that you check the “I agree” box for, just to get onto the site.
The recent fiasco with Instagram, and the ongoing privacy concerns with Facebook highlight how Americans willingly flock to social media without considering the consequences for their privacy or the value of anonymity. Today, we're sacrificing privacy for convenience and interconnection.
We enthusiastically post our locations, our pictures, and our personal information on social media networks, all of which are monitored by advertisers, future employers, and even law enforcement.
Your web experience is now carefully compiled and examined, so advertising can target you specifically. They've been collecting data on what websites you go to and what you search for on hundreds of websites and search engines – a blatant, but legal, violation of your individual privacy.
 Online data collection is now multi-billion dollar industry.
 This level of surveillance would have been horrifying to previous generations, including our Founding Fathers, who held privacy in the highest regard: they even enshrined that right in the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
Yet, in the 21st Century, we become conditioned to accept these invasions of our privacy as the new normal.
In fact, it's increasingly looking like the United States is one generation away from completely forgetting what privacy means. And the consequences of this will be tragic for democracy in our republic.
That’s because without privacy - without the ability to be anonymous – our ability to plan peaceful revolution or non-violent social change is radically scaled back. If big corporations or Big Brother are watching, then they can block or sabotage efforts before they even become public.
It’s no secret that a massive surveillance system has been constructed in America post-9/11. We know about the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. We know about Trapwire – a law enforcement tool that keeps track of our movements in major cities across the nation through closed circuit cameras, facial recognition software, and license plate readers.
 And we know about the enormous spy center being built by the NSA in Utah that will house all the data collected by the NSA since 9/11 – including emails, phone calls, text messages, and perhaps now Netflix viewing history – all of it in one source so that it's easily analyzed.
 The NSA can how hold the digital version of 500 quintillion pages of text. That's a lot of data.
But, here’s what’s most important to remember as our privacy goes by the wayside: Social change hinges on privacy, and, in some cases, even total privacy – anonymity.
This goes all the way back to the Boston Tea Party, when an anonymous activist known even to this day merely as Rusticus posted flyers around Boston that led directly to the Boston Tea Party. In today's America, Rusticus’ plans to vandalize the tea ships would have been exposed by the East India Company, and the Boston Tea Party shut down before it even started.
In today's America, people couldn't have "conspired" to overthrow unjust laws like slavery, Susan B. Anthony couldn’t have conspired with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to illegally vote, and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks may have been stopped before they could move Civil Rights into the spotlight.  We might even still be fighting wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
Sure, social media was a tremendous boost for both the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring to get people into the streets. But it was also a tremendous tool for law enforcement in both parts of the world to squash those same movements.
And tragically, the day may be near - indeed, it may already be here - when if you plan to protest the corporate takeover of our government, drone warfare, or indefinite detention, you'll find yourself in jail before you even get into the streets.
Remember what happened in Minnesota in 2008 before the Republican National Convention? Forty-eight hours before the convention was to begin, police kicked in the doors of and arrested six activists, along with detaining hundreds of others, who were planning to protest the RNC. The Bush Administration took them out before they could even publicly exercise their First Amendment right to speak out.
As our privacy rights are whittled away at like this, it’ll get more and more difficult – and more and more dangerous – to launch successful socially transformational movements because the powers-that-be, including the corporations or industries you may be protesting against, will know ahead of time what all your moves will be.
Yes, it's annoying to get ads online that reflect your previous search histories, or have an embarrassing picture of you posted on Facebook show up elsewhere. And it could be downright incriminating to have your Netflix viewing history put on display for all to see. But really, these privacy violations pale in comparison to removing anonymity from both private endeavors and political action. That’s an outright violation of democracy itself.
As people from Egypt to Burma to China will tell you, the fundamental ability of "we the people" to create social change and lead nonviolent revolutionary movements against unjust and oppressive forces is deeply in danger when a nation loses its privacy protections.
The fight for privacy will be one of the signature battles moving forward during these uncertain times in America. And without privacy - and the ability to remain anonymous - genuine democracy will never again flourish in the Land of the Free.